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I like talking about office supplies.
Iíve publicly explored my feelings about pens, paper and notebooks for years. The whole world can know my thoughts on the merits of office supplies, if they only bother to check my blog. I can pontificate for hours on the pluses and the minuses of hundreds of products.
What I canít do is use any of them to produce something worthwhile. There are stacks of unopened notebooks, unused pens and reams of blank paper littering my room.
The more I talk about them, the less likely it is Iíll do anything creative with them.
I see the major obstacle as not having anything we can start working on that pays us in the short term. Everything in the hopper is a hurry up and wait project.
Iím good for three months, but I know that you are hurting right now. If I float the cash to keep you from getting evicted, then I am only good for six weeks or so.
Well, yeah this stuff will be fun, but I have got to make some money. Thereís no way my wife is going to let me hang out with you without a steady income.
Dry, sardonic wit is how I described myself in the personal ad she answered. When she left, she said that I was just an asshole, and there is nothing funny about that. Sheís right; itís easier to be a dick than to let her know how much her leaving cripples my soul.
My defense is always, ďBut I am just teasing.Ē And it worked for awhile, until she wanted the teasing to stop and needed me to listen.
The last picture I have of us together is on the bank of a creek; Iím throwing stones at a baby duck.
Discovering the right path for me to take is never a surprise. Itís because I always know what it is intuitively, without having to ask.
Concrete examples abound: Iíve recently discovered, after months of relentless self-examination and guilty brow beating, that my best chance to achieve my dreams is to put one foot in front of the other and take the next step.
I wasnít shocked to find out that action is my salvation. I always knew that in my gut, every time I wasted an entire day, fucking around on the internet and avoiding taking any steps at all.
I read a story in a magazine yesterday about a Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright and author who claimed he didnít believe in rewriting until after he had already become a famous writer.
What the fuck? How can he get world famous and well respected with his stream of conscious first drafts? I read my first drafts, and I am lucky if the subject and the verb agree.
Iíve been rewriting the same story in my head for over ten years, without a single word on the page, and this guy wins a Pulitzer simply by writing down whatever comes to his head?
I hate confessional writing. I canít stand that every time I sit down to write, my pages fill up with nothing but autobiographical crap about how no one listened to me or supported me as a child.
Goddammit, I have more important things to write about other than my life, and the ways that I felt neglected. Give me something good, like a juicy political corruption story; a compelling blockbuster novel; a tense thriller.
Anything, but the slow, creeping feeling that there is something very important that I am missing about my life, that is desperately trying to be noticed.
Keith Richards calls it ďopening the cage.Ē My wife calls it, ďTurn it the fuck down.Ē Loud, mean, repetitive, and aggressive, soaked in whiskey and decadence and the same old, new ways of rebelling.
Start me up, canít you hear me knocking, sister morphine? Oh, what am I am doing, in this place?
Rock-n-roll gets me, it understands, sends me coded messages that only a select few have the answer key for. Say what you will about the things Iíve accomplished in my life, at least I know my music trivia and more song lyrics than anyone else I know.
After a date in Washington DC, we caught a cab home. The cab was filthy, Van Halen blaring and the driver wouldn't look at us.
Halfway home, a cop tried to pull him over. Cabbie took off, driving on the wrong side of the street, running red lights at 90 mph. Unbelievably, we were on a high-speed police chase through DC, and I knew we were going to die. Six cop cars, sirens ablaze, chased us through the streets of DC for nearly 30 minutes.
The date ended when the driver bailed out of the car and ran off.
My resolve lasted until I finished writing out my resolutions.
I started my diet with a bag of chips; my new-found motivation and productivity ran straight into 14 hours of internet surfing. Well, I wouldnít call hypnotically checking the same six websites over and over, surfing. More like ingesting a narcotic through my web browser.
I made a to-do list; itís impressive. Completed, I would put me well on the road to success.
Unfinished, it is a reminder of the punishment and neglect I heap on myself; that doesnít seem important when there are so many Facebook updates to check.
What am I so scared of? Why canít I get to work? Iím scared it will be hard. Iím scared I wonít know how to do it right. Iím scared I will look stupid. Iím scared my work will be used to hurt me. Iím scared Iím going to fail. Iím scared I will succeed. Iím scared that I will see things Iím hiding. Iím scared I will hide things I want to see. Iím scared there wonít be enough words. Iím scared that Iíll quit.
Iím scared youíll see me the same way I see me: worthless, weird, whiny.
I recently bought a 1960s transistor radio at a flea market. Itís an off-white rectangle with oversized, inset dials. The fat, round numbers on the dial are written powder blue. The back has a latch, that, when lifted, letís you see the guts of the radio, diodes and all.
I dial in the local college station in hopes of finding some exotic music: African jazz or Brazilian hip-hop or French electronica.
My new radio reminds me of being a child; hiding under the sheets late at night, discovering new, strange worlds and secret messages broadcasting from somewhere else.
I bought a 1960s transistor radio at a flea market. Itís an off-white rectangle with oversized, inset dials. The fat, round numbers on the dial are written in powder blue.
The back has a latch, that, when lifted, lets you see the guts of the radio, diodes and all.
I dial in the local college station in hopes of finding some exotic music: African jazz or Brazilian hip-hop or French electronica. My new radio reminds me of being a child; hiding under the sheets late at night, discovering new, strange worlds and secret messages broadcasting from somewhere else.
While in college, I liked to study in hideaway places. I was an expert in finding hidden corners in the library, discovering empty student lounges and breaking into abandoned classrooms.
I wanted my space to be as quiet and undisturbed by the excited chatter and playful noise of the other students as possible. I wanted a place where I could stew about how hard I had it, and how much work I had to do.
I wasnít going to let other people enjoying the most adventurous time of their lives, ruin my college experience of self-imposed isolation and frustration.
I won a Valentineís Day contest from a local radio station. They asked for the wildest thing that ever happened to you on a date. I wrote about a date that ended with a police chase in a taxicab.
I had to submit my story through their website, in 100 words or less- not a problem after doing 100 Words entries.
My prize includes a diamond pendant, romantic overnight stay at a B&B, a couples massage, and a gift certificate to a discount furniture store.
My wife is thrilled. She says itís the best Valentineís gift Iíve ever gotten her.
I donít know why I have to force myself to sit down and write. I want to be a writer; once I really get in the groove, I enjoy the act of writing.
I find a quiet place when I write, a place devoid of doubts and fears. Here, when it flows right, the words simply donít matter. The important thing is tapping the flow, and listening to words fall on the page with a soft whisper.
Nothing great, nothing noticeable: just the quiet process that I have to drag myself kicking and screaming to, like a kid in trouble.
The man, round and shaggy, looked over his shoulder before he opened the door. A woman, a little rounder and shaggier, waited a half-step behind him.
Joyís of Sex; the sign on the door confidently pointed up a dark staircase while the couple hesitated.
Woman touches manís hand, softly. We donít have to do this, her fingers whisper. We can go home and do it the way you like some more. I was only kidding about this; itís fine the way that it is. Toys are for weirdoes.
A tic in his jaw, and a determined march up the stairs.
ďCan you really see whatís in his pocket?Ē Charlie asked. The magician nodded his giant head slowly. ďI can see through all material goods, all manners of material indeed: iron, wool, even human flesh.Ē The magician waved his arms above his head with a dramatic flourish.
Charlie backed into me slowly, reaching out to see if I was there. I could feel my brotherís thoughts through his fingertips. ďDo you think he can see what we did, Molly?Ē his fingers asked. ďDo you think he cans see what we did behind the five and dime Molly?Ē
Maybe, I pinched back.
Somehow, Iíve gotten three appointments behind. Ruth, how did this happen? You were supposed to be paying attention to my time.
I did doctor, I told you when you were with the Bradley boy that you were falling behind, and again when you were with the kid with the cough.
I said, as Mary as my witness- ask her, sheís right here- I said, that you were 35 minutes behind, and if you didnít see that girl with the rash soon, the whole day was going to be shot. You know how long that mother likes to talk to you.
My handwriting gets worse when it rains. Iím not sure why that is; maybe the drumbeat of the rain throws my natural rhythm off. Or maybe the change in the barometric pressure causes my hand bones to shift, ever so slightly, leaving me with a different writing posture.
Snowstorms donít affect me none; my handwriting stays the same in winter. It only changes in the summer, when the temperature is over 85 degrees, and the storm is a surprise.
My wife complains that she canít read my handwriting under any circumstances, so why would a little rain make a difference.
My mornings were disappearing. Iíd sit down with the best of intentions and somehow it would become two in the afternoon, before I could get a word down edgewise.
I would get really angry about that fugitive time; huffing and puffing and blowing my house down looking for those lost hours.
But one day, quite by accident, I found an hour hiding behind a cup of tea in the kitchen. I discovered if I snuck up on it, slowly and deliberately, without letting it know I was there, I could seize that hour back and enjoy it all by myself.
I had a dream karma died, killed by a migrant farm worker in a Texas squash field. The man, Carlos Huevon, was picking produce, a variety of zucchini as it happens, when it died.
He was bent over, sweating on the broad green leaves of the plants. His sweat ran tear-like into an enormous orange blossom. The blossom drank deeply the sweat of Carlosí brow, and was satisfied, nourished and complete.
Carlos didnít know it but that plant he hurried so quickly past, was the reincarnation of his beloved mother. His ignorance of the karmic lesson rendered karma forever useless.
I got angry with my wife last night; I decided to pull a juvenile prank on her. I purchased a web domain containing an insult about her. My thinking was that she would see the bill, investigate the charges, and discover that I turned her name into a .com vulgarity.
Thatíll show her, my teenage brain said, thatíll show her to ask me to do things I donít want to do.
But now I am not mad at her anymore- turns out she was right. How am I going to explain this? Even worse, what if people like the site?
Chrissy was a limerick waiting to happen: stout, stringy-haired and unkempt. She was the butt- the big, stinky, your-momma-donít-love-you-butt- of all our teasing.
Once, she spent hours in class, drawing and coloring a majestic oak tree. Someone snuck into her bin, and colored in a giant black hole in the middle of her tree.
The writing skill needed to describe the devastation on her face escapes me. I simply cannot write down her loss.
Yesterday, I found out that the kid that did it died of a drug overdose in front of his children. I wonder if Chrissie knows?
Charles looked around the room, taking inventory of the things Clare mustíve taken with her when she left. She took the heater goddamnit, she took the fucking heater.
He was on the road for a week when she called, said she was gone, sorry about the rent, Iíll leave what money I can. You take whatever you want, he told her, but donít take my Daddyís shotgun and donít take the space heater. It gets so cold in there and I canít afford the heat bill. I need that to stay warm this winter, he said.
She took it anyways.
Martin woke before his wife. She was sprawled out on the couch, both feet on the floor. An empty bottle watched the room from atop the television. A siren passed on the street and through Martinís head.
It happened again last night. I stood there and watched her get screwed by another man again. Pieces came through; shouting for them to get it on; his wifeís face contorted with rage and pleasure; a hurried, embarrassed exit; someone, maybe him, crying.
The booze brought out the S&M in their marriage: he, begging for more punishment; she more than willing to oblige.
I am at war with the angry neighbor. Itís not a battle of noticeable proportions, more of a secret war of wits, glances and unsaid words. It is a subtle conflict, waged between two unseen, unknown combatants.
My office window looks directly into her studio apartment. Iím not trying to look but occasionally, when I watch the birds at my window feeder, I see her sitting on the couch. I know that she can see me because Iíve caught her looking.
Recently, at night, she hangs a towel over her window. Itís an act of aggression that will not stand.
Iíve gone years without committing a single creative act, wound up tight and angry at the world. I was as far away from creating as one can get.
But Iíve loosened up recently and today I got a job as a daily blogger. Iíll be creating thousands of daily words. Itís practically a miracle that Iíve gone from uptight, blocked-up wannabe, to paid writer in less than six months.
How? I donít know. Thereís a saying that God takes care of old folks and fools and since Iím not a day over 36, so that leaves me only one answer.
I am extremely lucky. When I sit down to write, words come pouring out of me. Iím never at a loss for words.
I make no claims those words are readable, publishable or proper English. Quite the contrary, most of them donít make any sense at all.
No, my problem isnít quantity of words when I work; the real work is forcing myself to sit down. I can avoid that for months. My blocks come long before I pick up a pen. I donít have to force the words on the page; I have to force myself into the chair.
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