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Entropy increases, overall. There is no escaping this truth, it is a proven law of physics, of nature. Everything tends towards disorder and breakdown, to return to a state of disconnectedness. Life, and living things, are the temporary aberrations from this general rule. They are random upward spikes on the downward curve. They give a brief illusion of order and (if we are sufficiently foolish or ill-informed) the idea that perhaps, after all, the universe is growing towards a purpose, that there are things which will escape ruin, and flourish in a permanent way. Love is like this too.
Damn and blast, I've become almost as bad as the rest of you! Why does this hundred-word format seduce us into writing about our own dreary, self-obsessed little lives so much? Why do we end up using the site as a sort of misery diary? I've tried to get away from that, I've tried to write compact, self-contained fragments of truth, imagination and fiction. And last month... what a whingefest! OK, it was a hard month, but Jesus - just read other people's contributions when they're like that! As dull as dogshit, right?
Christ! I'm doing it again!
Tom's had a rough few years. He developed some weird degenerative nervous condition that started with him being unable to hold his arm out for more than ten seconds and ended with him in hospital having his chest jacked open and his thymus gland removed. Now he's on and off heavy-duty steroids so he inflates and deflates like a comedy beach toy. Friday he was in fat bastard mode, looking disturbingly like Ed Hammell. He's hyper as hell and swears up a storm at three hundred words a minute and slams tables and really,
doesn't need the coke.
Language is an obstacle to communication. I choose the words and combine them in a way I feel will accurately communicate an idea or opinion I have. You read my words and you believe I am expressing a completely different idea or opinion; one which you find irritating and, perhaps, personally insulting. What has failed here? Me, you, or language itself? Or some combination of the three? Do you understand what I'm saying? Does it make sense to you? Is that sense the same as the one I intend? Or is this colour blindness again? Are we back to dyslexia?
She appraises her naked reflection. None of it is quite right, that's the problem. Legs a little too skinny; slight blotchiness around the knees. Body a little too square; she's uncomfortable in it. Features: not exactly ugly, not exactly pretty, not exactly
. They try to conceal the raging self-consciousness within and the end result is
look. The one that excludes her. She daren't wear the
clothes because they will sit as awkwardly as her features, then the fair ones will laugh at her. So she wears her wrong clothes. And the fair ones laugh at her.
And AMERICA marches on; a big, fat, ugly Jock; a foul playground bully that everyone fears but no-one respects, ditching treaties and conventions the second they become inconvenient for AMERICA, priding its fat, ugly self on being the epitome of capitalism and world trade, yet imposing tariffs which fly in direct contravention of WTO guidelines as soon as AMERICA'S steel industry has difficulties. Do you insufferable bastards really think September 11th excuses all? Do you seriously imagine the well of sympathy is bottomless? Are you going to put our revulsion down to envy
Wait for it, motherfuckers.
Geezer at the bar, late middle-age I suppose, although he could be younger. He's definitely lived, if you know what I mean. He orders a double scotch with
, if you please. The barman hesitates and geezer explains (obviously for the thousandth time) that it's because of his ulcer, as if that explains very much at all. The barman laughs; I don't find it particularly amusing. I can empathise. When our only balms and pleasures start attacking us we try to placate them, if we can. I sip my coffee and wait for the burn to follow the pleasure.
The first time you get hit - I mean
hit, properly, full-on; a steel-armed, adult male backswung piledriver of a punch - there's a weird revelation of some mean universal truth. A red bomb goes off in your head and you're not aware of the journey to horizontal. But you know that the ground that hits you isn't school playground tarmac anymore. The loosened teeth and so on are upsetting, but the weird sense of resignation which follows is worse. Depressing new limitations clang down around you like steel gates. That's it then; game over. We're not playing anymore.
Jim the barman was a queer of the in-your-face persuasion and we all loved him to death. He liked being "queer"; an attitude we shared, in our different ways.
"When you look at what passes for 'normal' on this nasty little planet who wouldn't
to be queer, darling?"
I drank to that, he told me I was cute and insisted that given five minutes in the bog with me he could "straighten me out". I laughed, admitted I was flattered and promised that if I was ever tempted to "straighten out", he'd be the first to know.
What do you do with a friend who is a sweet, sweet guy, funny to be around, weirdly talented in surprising ways yet whose self-esteem is somewhere down in the Marianas trench; who used to cut himself; who consciously and subconsciously engineers situations where he will get hurt, ripped off or broken; who treats himself like filth but expects you to love him for it; who is surely killing himself with self-neglect and who passes out on your futon and pisses and pukes all over it in the night? What do you do about a guy like that?
I was so hungry I felt I'd die if I laid down and closed my eyes. I just wouldn't have the strength to get up again. So what could I do? I went out and hunted, feral.
What? What are you saying? What's with that look? Think, you fucker! The social wouldn't give me money. What could I do? Should I have meekly laid down and died?
He looked OK, he looked well-off and well-fed. He looked shit scared with the blade in his left nostril and I was sorry for that, I didn't enjoy that part.
Grammatical shitlist: people who
- think it's cute not to use capitalisation and who aren't e.e.cummings
- say "different than" (i.e. 95% of the American populace)
- say "I will try and....." when they should be trying to
- don't know the difference between "less" and "fewer"
- write "loose" when they mean "lose"
- think plural nouns need apostrophes
- say they "could care less" when they really couldn't care less
- put "...eth" on the end of an infinitive in order to make it "Shakespearian" and to hell with proper declension
- use nouns as verbs. "Leverage", "progress"... Christ.
It's not big, and it certainly isn't clever.
Slumped on the barstool he was thinking how much he disliked jewellery and perfume, and trying not to laugh at himself for feeling like Tom Waits - or at least how he imagined it would feel to feel like Tom Waits. Better off without a wife. Damned straight. A skinny roll-up with a wet brown tip squeezed between forefinger and thumb. Fingernails too well-trimmed, though. And he didn't like bourbon. Too sweet and sticky, like perfume. The barmaid served him his beer without registering anything about him beyond his request for a beer. He wished he could play piano.
He was calculating. Literally and figuratively, it occurred to him. Eighteen months with her. She was passably good-looking, the sex was pedestrian, but good; satisfying - in a vanilla, meat-and-potatoes way. She almost always came with very little effort on his part. Bit of oral, straight missionary, nice steady rhythm, bit of rotary...maybe three minutes on average, and then the slight, shuddering exhalation, the moment of tight clinging, the tender kisses, the I-love-yous and the swift, contented sleep. He was calculating. How long would this be enough? Six months, maybe. Yeah, another six months. Tops.
You are not mysterious, unusual or particularly interesting. Those feelings which torture, depress and elate you are very, very commonplace. They do not indicate an artistic temperament or an especially vivid imagination, nor do they make you the misunderstood loner it pleases you to fancy yourself. What they make you is another ineffably tiresome young adult with a modicum of intelligence but, sadly, not quite enough to stay your typing hand and spare others the pain of seeing your wearisome,
little musings and miseries.
Oh, and your poetry is utter shite. Burn it now and spare yourself embarrassment later.
The soldiers in the war against superficial modernity meet in dark, slightly grubby, traditional pubs. They drink hand-pumped real ale by the pint. They do not carry mobile phones. They are fiercely self-sufficient. They wear timelessly unfashionable clothes. They are well-educated and can all mentally calculate the price of their round before the young ignoramus behind the bar has managed to walk two steps towards the till. They are highly articulate and God help any youthful dimwit who tries to bandy words with them.
We are all silly old veterans, refusing to admit we lost the war.
I am sitting in my dining room. I feel a sense of spiritual menace as palpable as toothache. I look up. A corpse-white face is pressed against the window. Wide, lidless eyes gaze at me with nameless violence. Fear pierces me like a heart attack, yet I respond by leering insanely at the apparition. I make devil horns with my fingers and pull a demented, grinning clown face at the horror. It seems my only hope. I begin to feel I may prevail.
The terrible face crashes through the glass and I wake, screaming, slick with night sweat.
And perhaps my mind is already fading amongst these disordered mementos and scraps of paper; these scattered scribblings that will collect dust and wine stains for a few weeks before reaching their inevitable end during the next impulsive holocaust. I try to write and it's like an old car trying to start on a cold morning. A strobe-lit epileptic. Tic-talk. Days tumble by and nothing persists, these brittle-boned mutants grow only inches before breaking apart under their own weight. A short wave radio sweep; occasional unconnected coherence in a sea of static. And perhaps my mind is
Do you ever think about the places you'll never go? I don't mean cities and countries, I mean
, like the ones you love and feel nostalgia for in your own life. That park where you used to play; that short stretch of beach on a cold, unlovely coast, which was your childhood sanctuary; that remote village in the white mountains where you kissed under the tangled vines and dangling gourds.
The heart's oases.
And I'm thinking of all those other places which could be just as special but which time and circumstance will deny me.
I'm pining for them.
Well, it's finally happened. I seem to have run dry. Most of the contributors here have done this, in one way or another: made an entry which basically says, "my mind is blank, I can't think of a single thing to say". Some do it by repeating the same word over and over, some by writing nonsense words, some by just...honestly admitting it. Maybe my reason for blankness is slightly different, though. My reason for being unable to think of anything fictional is that
is getting ferocious right now. Reality is crowding everything else out of my head.
I'm breaking my little rule here. I'm continuing from yesterday. It's either that or I won't be able to make an entry today. I'm still totally distracted by real life. A huge metaphorical carrot is being teasingly dangled in front of my face and it's almost within reach. Unbelievably so. I daren't hope. But it could happen. It could really happen. And even if it does it'll be fraught with difficulty but.... it could happen. Something daunting but potentially wonderful. Something I couldn't refuse, even though it could all go horribly wrong in numerous ways.
What is life without risk?
OK, it's happening. Only one thing could stop it now. Nothing is certain until Thursday.
I realise I'm being irritating. If you're bothering to read these recent entries at all you're probably thinking, "WHAT, you irksome bastard?! What are you talking about? Just TELL us!" I know if I read someone else doing this I'd be reacting exactly like that. But... it's almost superstition. I feel if I say what it is before it happens, I'll curse it.
Here's a promise. I'll say what it is in Thursday's entry. And I will either be deeply despondent or fizzing with joy.
And all descends into madness and flurry. Too much to think and no time to think. No time to write entries for ‘100 Words’. Mail to be redirected, bills to be settled, plans to be finalized, flights, taxis, on and on. Phone calls. Emails. Excitement, anticipation, anxiety… behind it all, anxiety. Too good to be true. It may all fall through. What if... what if...
I never get headaches. I have a headache.
Tonight I go out drinking with my two best friends. My only friends here, really. We’ll celebrate in hope. I’ll keep my doubts and fears to myself.
A weird lull. Yesterday I ran around like a fool and finished the day with a fine celebration with Al and Oz. Plenty to drink and much congratulating and affectionate piss-taking. I was exhausted. Now, today, the day before it all
kicks off, I find there’s little to be done. So I consciously slow my movements down, I make coffee, I sit quietly, relish my chat with Ann. The tone is of slightly muted excitement. She knows my concerns, but the hope is there, it can’t be subdued. I go to bed early and listen to the silence.
It’s become a journal, in spite of my feelings about using ‘100 Words’ for that. But this is one of those rare times when life goes mad, something comes out of the blue and throws all the cards in the air. One can think of nothing else until they fall.
Today I took a cab to Gatwick airport at 4:30 am and spent the first of two days being crash-coursed in our Glasgow office. I’m staying at the Hilton in four star luxury. My life will be on expenses for... well, either this week or significantly longer.
I float around this luxurious hotel, wondering at the fact that I’m paying for nothing. Food; drink; the broad, cosy bed; room service... part of me sneers and feels vaguely disgusted with himself; another part just wonders at the hazard of it all, the dumb luck of life. Cancer in a vital organ, a lottery win, stepping into the path of a bus, turning a corner a second too late to meet the love of your life. A phone call, a lack of alternative and here I am and it’s all happening to me. Around me. As if I mattered.
A short flight from Glasgow and I arrived back home at 10:00 pm. A quick chat with Ann and then I collapsed into my bed and slept as hard as I can remember doing in quite a while. Today, Woking: more finalizing and fussing. Laptop – check. Mobile – check. Carefully-worded letter for immigration – check. Administration details – check. I perform these final preparations from the desk and PC of one of the many recently-sacked former employees of my company. My mobile contains the personal phone book of another. I clear it down. The weight of fortune hits me once again.
Thursday. Today I fly to New York. I was
going to fly to New York today, but that was to visit Ann for Easter. I had a return ticket for Monday the 8th of April. That ticket has been cancelled.
I’m not traveling light. I have a bulging suitcase and all the accoutrements of business. I’m going to work on a project based in Manhattan. It could go on for many months. And my only worry – the anxiety I was being so coy about a week ago – is getting through immigration.
They let me in without a second look.
It’s not real yet. It’s still a normal visit. We rise early and take a cab to La Guardia. We’re taking the girls to North Carolina, close to where Ann used to live. I board my fourth plane in five days, a tiny 33-seater Dornier. I’m still hyper. So happy to be here but... I haven’t processed this new reality yet, and neither has Ann.
So let’s forget about it for the weekend. Let’s go see baby goats, let’s enjoy watching the girls have fun, let’s relish a bedroom so huge it could be an apartment. A honeymoon suite.
It’s not real yet. I’m tempted to be lazy like some of the other arseholes on this site and repeat the words “It’s not real yet” over and over until my 100 words have been used. But I won’t. I’ve lapsed on my “journal” rule, that’s enough!
We had a wonderful day, so much packed into these few hours. I’m drifting, enjoying the weekend, loving being with Ann again, but behind it all is the unreality. The struggle to fully accept this incredible, unexpected, life-changing thing which has happened. It’s like being in shock, but in a good way.
It’s not real yet. Easter is real. You playing Easter Bunny and making a late-night delivery of chocolate eggs and seasonal fancies to the girls’ bedside is real. Yesterday’s visit to the science museum was real (heh,
is real, all you retarded ‘creationist’ savages – deal with it!). The rain was real, and so was the noise of it against the wooden roof. The cats sunning themselves on the deck are real. The squirrels scurrying through the trees outside the window are real. The feel of your warm skin in the dead black of this country night is real.
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