When I woke up this morning, you were on my mind–
And When I say “you,” I mean my writing. If anything abstract deserves anthropomorphism, that would be it. The guy’s an asshole. I’m not even going to dwell on that, because writing about writing instead of actually writing is like talking about masturbation instead of fucking. Senseless, bro.
But when I woke up this morning, it was about 330 am, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. The dream I woke up from was probably allegoric in some fashion; it was about alien abduction. We all know how that can get in the way of a promising writing career.
After I got up, coughed up some phlegm and pissed, I had a small drink of water and tried to go back to bed. The windows of the house are open, and it is a reasonably comfortable fall night. That means it’s a little stuffy in the bedroom, but whatcha gonna do? I tossed and turned for an annoying 20 minutes as thoughts percolated through my skull.
I could write this alien abduction thing. That’s an interesting story. Or not. But maybe it’s part of another story. My thoughts came quickly, but made a long, banking curve:
I need to get off my ass and write, and get something written that can be published, and I need to do that before I die of being an asshole.
I’ve been stuck on the story I’m currently working on, but I know (kind of) where it’s going and I have (sort of) a general idea of what to fix in the rewrite. NOnetheless it doesn’t speak to me as much as it did when I started.
Should I scrap it? Start over? Start on something else? It’s a great idea for a first novel, I think, and I have plenty of other ideas to work with. But that was the one that was supposed to be my first.
Of course, there were others that were going to be my first as well. My mind keeps going back to the one that I feel I have the most done on. Maybe I should finish that story. Maybe that’s where it’s at. But I didn’t want that one to be my first one; I wanted *that* one to be published.
But maybe that can still happen. I don’t know-I’m going to work on it, put it together. If I do, I’m going to end up taking all the BS down from this site, because a lot of the story is here.
Don’t tell anyone.
They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Maybe it does make you stronger, but it’s really going to piss you off first.
I don’t know where it came from or why it exists, but there is this…fairy tale, this adage, this meme that existed long before the word “meme” existed–about the starving, suffering artist. You know the one.
The guy who lives in squalor, he’s poor, he’s got relationship trouble or whatever–maybe he slices off an ear. His own or someone else’s, it doesn’t really matter.
What the hell is the reason?
Part of it, I know, is that many artists *feel* they need to be in turmoil. Most of that is just angst and bullshit, brought upon themselves by poor decision-making. You don’t have to be smart to be an artist, and most of them aren’t.
And because artists are susceptible to suggestion, by and large they buy into the cultural stereotype of how artists are perceived to be, and it becomes a circular self-fulfilling prophesy.
Unless you’re too old and jaded to buy into it.
The starving artist thing–for one, do I look like I’m starving?
But it makes me wonder: did I, for all of these years, forsake pursuing the purity of my art in favor of a more comfortable life, i.e., a job, a career, a family, a house, and so forth?
Maybe I can chalk all of that up to “life experience” and research. Almost fifty years of it, man, and I’ve done a lot of things. Even as tepid and timid as I am, as fearful as I am of taking chances, I’ve had some wonderful, amazing, scary times in my life.
So what am I supposed to do with it now? Well, I guess I’m supposed to get off my ass and write. Or sit my ass down at the keyboard and write. If only someone would take dictation for me, transcribe everything, edit it, and then go ahead and get it published for me. Then direct-deposit the check.
So that’s where I am now–I’m having more life experience. I’m beginning to live the dream of the starving artist.
And I use the term “artist” fairly loosely, and I don’t think I actually mean it. I don’t know-maybe I do. I don’t know if you know any other artists, but I’ll tell you something about the ones I do know, or the ones I do know *of*:
There is a fair amount of conceit going on in their brain.
Exhibit A, most of the ridiculous actors in Hollywoodland that is so pretentious and full of themselves they have to wear sunglasses to look in the mirror.
Exhibit B, anyone who creates something–writing, painting, performance art, or underarm farts–ultimately wants it to be seen and appreciated by an audience.
Hell, everyone wants a LIKE on their status updates. But this goes beyond that. This is *more.* Artists are vampires that feed on the accolades of people. They need to be loved and appreciated to survive.
Oh, good Lord. I think this is getting out of hand. First, some people are going to read this and think I mean me. And I do. Some people are going to read this and think I am painting all artists unfairly with this broad brush.
And I am, but not unfairly. If you have an artist as a friend or in the family, and you think they aren’t like this, either you’re delusional or they hide it well, or both.
And if you are an artist and claim not to be like this, they you are either completely delusional or you aren’t really an artist.
But I don’t mean any of this in a derogatory way. Mostly. Maybe you perceive the connotation to be thus, but I had to lay that groundwork to complete my thesis, such as it is. What’s my point? Here’s my point:
If you create a piece of…something, but no one ever sees it, is it art?
Much like a tree falling in the forest–it has to be seen and heard, or read, or somehow experienced.
Creating is what artists do. We take what we have–experience, ability, popsicle sticks–and turn them into something whose sole purpose is to be appreciated. To be looked at, listened to, felt, or however else the media is intended to be experienced. And I say “media” on purpose, because art is not just a form of expression, it is a form of communication.
And that’s why I don’t mean it in a derogatory fashion when I talk about the narcissistic nature of artists. It is the purest form of communication we know, the giving of ourselves. It’s what we do, it’s in our nature, and good or bad, we can’t help it. We have something to say, something to share–something to show the world–
So here I am now, living the life of an artist. I’m too poor to go down to the coffee shop and sit and write–and I swear to God I can’t get a cup of coffee from Starbucks that I can stand. Instead I sit up at night, or in the morning, or in the afternoon–whenever I have alone time–and I write.
Right now I’m in the tragically hip phase, where I am hyper-aware of my situation and how I am perceived, where I talk about writing and write about writing without actually creating anything. That’s right–what you’ve just read is little more than nonsense, barely above typing practice, and if it is anything useful at all it serves as sort of a Zen clearing of the mind, a rinsing of the palette so that I can get on with the actual work of creating.
I hope it works.
The life of a writer is a fair bit of fiction, highly romanticized and not at all like what it is portrayed as in fiction or movies or television.
That seems kind of ironic, seeing as how those media are created by the duplicitous lying writers themselves. The bastards.
Yeah, I’m one of them–or I consider myself one, anyway. Writing is one of the few occupations in which the only credentials you need are self-delusion. You only have to *say* you are a writer, and BOOM! – you’re a writer.
What do you do?
I’m…I’m a writer.
Have you written anything I would know?
I don’t know–have you been in a bathroom stall lately?
Well, what have you published?
Oooohhhh…Published. Published is a whole different matter. Published separates the true artists from the odorous masses. Being published is what leads to fame–and more importantly–to being paid.
Blogs are like assholes. Everyone has one and no one gives a shit about yours.
The Internet, and the disease which sprang from them called blogging, has been a boon to the hipster-types and other disaffected youth who feel that they are artists–
No, LISTEN to me: They really *feel* like they are artists. They have something to say. Some unique perspective on life. Some inexorable, undeniable truth about society beats mightily within their individual chest cavities but collectively seeks the light. A story to be told. A narrative to be read. A song to be sung. A limerick to rhyme.
Maybe I’m talking shit about all of the talent-less assholes out there vying for your attention, and maybe I’m one of them as well. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was fourteen, I think. And again since I was sixteen. And again when I was 19.
And so on.
Here it is over thirty years later, and I’m not really a writer in the strict biblical sense. I mean, I’ve written–Lordy, has I written!–but I’ve yet to be published in any meaningful sense that I can point to. other than this fucking blog.
The surest way to keep a secret is to publish it on a blog that no one reads.
All these things I talk about I am also guilty of, and I know it. I’m perfectly at ease being a hypocrite.
I’ve made a lot of false starts–and here I am yet again writing about another one–but usually it’s because life gets in the way. Life. A job. A family. Paying bills. Crises after bloody crises. But I have poured my heart on my blog. The bare, naked truth. Within reason.
They (the various experts in the field) say that you have to write for yourself. Sounds like bullshit to me. They also say you have to know your audience, and write for them. They seem a bit fucking bipolar, if you ask me.
Well, I have done both. I have written for myself, and I have written for an audience that was occasionally there. I wrote the most when I was going through a tumultuous period in my life, and it helped me to get it out. That was the part that was for me.
And then I managed to get some feedback from a few devoted fans on the internet, and they liked what I had writ. That part was for them.
That part was for me also, because nothing makes you feel good like getting accolades from random people for something you created. It nurtures the narcissist within.
Being a writer, or trying to write, or trying to continue writing, or having an eye toward eventual publication…is a lifelong dream of mine. It’s also like a hobby that I don’t get to do. Like the guy who is obsessed with golf, but works 80 hours a week and never gets to play.
I feel your pain, bro.
I can’t sit here and say that I’m going to start writing now, because I’ve done that so many times before it’s not even funny. It’s ridiculous. I’m a fucking tease. My brain keeps teasing my heart and saying it’s going to give it what it wants–
But never does.
So I’m not going to do that. I have a book I need to work on. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I have 47 other books to work on. Maybe I will, maybe fuck you.
But I do have this. I have this blog, this god forsaken hole in the Internet that I’ve laid claim to. You can go back and see all that I have written, and all that I have gone through, and it is an abundance of life experience.
I’m going through something now–I’m out of a job. And I appear to have time to write about it, because–once again–I’m out of a fucking job.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m getting back to my roots. My blog roots. Bloots. It’ll be funny, it’ll be sad, it’ll be at once bitter-sweet and ridiculous, because that’s my wheelhouse.
I recently watched six seasons of the show “Californication,” virtually back to back. Of course there is an abundance of sex and drug use and nudity. Still, I identify with the main character. Hank Moody is a writer, and he is haunted by the choices he has made, and these ghosts cause him to continue to have deficiency in decision making, and he left as the product of the life he has led.
But he is a writer, so he gets to be all soul-searching and introspective about it.
At the very least, that’s what I get to do also.
I haven’t been here in a long, long time. But if we’re talking about ancient Sumer, no one has…
The Book of Nezzrahem
1. In the seventy-third-plus-fourteen year of the Uruk Kingdom, in the time after the planting but before the ministering, in the region near the city-state of Larsa, but south, near the river valley, which is as fertile and a gift from the gods, there was a village with no name;
2. For this village, which hath no name, was the place wherefrom the kings’ armies would take their supplies; the farmed goods which had been harvested, and the meat from the cattle they produced, any metal goods and carts, and of course, the women, for the Kings’ Armies required the best of all things the Valley of the Kings could produce, and this village with no name hath a reputation for producing beautiful creatures, which were taken for the pleasure and solace of the Kings’ Armies.
3. And it came to pass that while working the field, the family of Nezzrahem was visited by a group of heavenly travelers.
4. The travelers had the appearance of unworldly dress, and emerged from a shining enclosed chariot, pulled by neither man nor beast, but instead seemed to be powered by the gods; it was a half-complement of creatures, numbering 8, and their countenance and mannerisms showed them to be not of this ether.
5. For though they spaketh the language, it was halting and guarded, with strange usage of words, and odd pronunciation; nevertheless they communicated with the family of Nezzrahem, and told of their mission.
6. But the Nezzrahem family did disagree on what the angelic visitors said their mission was, for their individual understanding was different; Father Neb-On-Nezzra saith that their mission was to bring the power of the gods to the Kings’ Armies, and glorious weapons heretofore unseen by man;
7. But Daru-Le, chief wife of Neb-On, claimed that their mission was to bring to pass a bounteous harvest;
8. And Evi-Der, the middle wife, said the mission of the angels was to protect the newborn children from disease, and from the Maelstrom of the Kings, the annual culling of the children.
9.And te-Delri, the junior wife, was forbade to speak, as is law. And thusly were the children ignored, for though they had experienced the same event, their words and their minds were weak and could not be trusted.
10. But the eldest son, Neb-On-tok-Nezzra, having reached the Age of Ritual and was now preparing to join the Kings’ Armies after the harvest was fulfilled, and was considered a man, and as such lay claim to the right to speak, and thusly did relay his account of the vision of angels.
11. And it came to pass that Neb-On-tok-Nezzra told his story, far and wide; and his story did get repeated, and his story passed from village to town to city-state, even unto reaching the ears of the Counsel of the Kings.
12. And it came to pass that the Kings then did call for young Neb-On-tok-Nezzra to come unto the Palace of the Kings, and tell his tale; and he did.
13. Wherefore Neb-On-tok-Nezzra spaketh before the kings, and told of the day the angels came;
14. He said there was a blinding, holy light, which filled the sky;
15. He said that instantly, there was the chariot, shining and glowing like the sun, enclosed, made of some unknown heavenly material;
16. He said that it opened mysteriously, and the eight holy creatures disembarked;
17. He said that it was difficult to understand them at first, and they he; but after a fashion, their words flowed effortlessly;
18. He said the heavenly creatures were there on a mission; that thusly they had traveled a long distance through both time and space, which made no sense; for how does one travel through time?
19. He said they were there to study and to learn, and watch how we as children of the Valley of the Kings lived our lives;
20. He said that when they were done, they would return to the time and place from whence they came;
21. And the Counsel of Kings, upon hearing this tale, did confer with one another; for such a thing as they had never heard before, and likewise wished to never hear again.
22. Because all power of heaven and earth resides with the Counsel of Kings; wherefore if such a thing existed beyond their scope it must therefore be removed;
23. Wherefore all evidence of the visitation of the Angels had taken leave with them; nothing remained that showed it had ever taken place.
24. Wherefore the King of the city-state of Babyl spaketh, saying, “If these then are the only witnesses to this event, wherefore should we not remove them, to hasten the departure of this abominable story from our eyes?
25. And it came to pass that the other kings agreed; wherefore the King of the city-state of Umma bade the counsel well and departed.
26. And it came to pass that the King of the city-state of Umma collected his generals in Bad Tibira, and forthwith they rode;
27. And it came to pass that the Kings’ Armies marched to Larsa, and continued south;
28. And it came to pass that the Kings’ Armies marched to the village with no name, the home of the Nezzrahem clan;
29. And it came to pass that the Kings’ Armies did burn the village, and the fields, and the killed the men, and the women, and the children.
30. And so it shall be that this record carved shall be hidden, and shall remain the only witness to the slaughter of the people of the village with no name.
Tags: diesel punk, drugs, flash fiction
For this challenge we had three categories and we had to pick one thing randomly from each. You can tell I didn’t cheat, because I never would have picked these on my own. Subgenre: Dieselpunk. Setting: A Meth lab. Must feature: A mystery box. To read more, roll the dice and go here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Spin the Wheel
Caroline was dead, with blood on her face and a smile on her lips. David avoided looking at her. She’d be back soon, if he didn’t think about it.
He was wired to the box. He didn’t have to think about anything.
The box was military surplus–some kind of mini-mainframe computer, about the size of a dishwasher. He could pretend his brain wasn’t fried and he could still use his computer degree.
“What are you making, David?” How could the box talk? How did it know his name?
“You know what I’m making.” David didn’t like to say the word “meth.” It was too simplistic an affectation to describe the holy bliss it made him feel.
“I can help you make it better, David.”
He was already high, and therefore past the disbelief that the box could talk to him. Caroline stared at him through glazed over eyes. She was mumbling incoherently, but with a steady, rhythmic cadence.
“Show me,” David said.
The box was not attached to anything, except power. Wirelessly it connected to his laptop, and immediately designs and schematics filled the screen, like special effects in a movie. David licked his lips repeatedly, and got to work.
The first thing the box told him to do was change the formula he was using; that gave him the extra boost he needed to do the rest of the work. Caroline continued to babble, which didn’t bother him. She began walking around in circles naked, and she smelled like cat piss and dirty socks. The box gave him a solution.
From his lab apparatus he fashioned a sensor, and connected a cable to it and plugged it into the box. Now the box could really think, and really get its groove on. “Now I got an idea,” the box said through the laptop speakers. Following the box’s instructions, David hammered out some code on the laptop and fed it to the box. Then he connected a cable to the back of the box, and cut the connector off the other end. On her next pass, he grabbed Caroline, threw her down, and stabbed the wire into her face.
David watched her eyes as she rebooted. She lay still but she wasn’t mumbling anymore.
“Three point one four one five nine—“
David was a problem solver, and the box was helping him solve problems.
There were plenty more outputs on the back of the box, and David had and endless supply of cables. He connected wires to the box from every piece of lab equipment he pieced together, as the box told him how to make a new cooker. He continued to lick his lips and not notice that he was repeating the same thing over and over again.
“Best shit ever. Best shit ever. Best shit ever. Fu-fu-fu-best shit ever. Best shit ever.”
“Two eight four seven five six four eight two three three seven eight—“
“Best shit ever.”
Regular time had no meaning. It never did. David was on pi time. He listened to the constant stream of numbers from Caroline while he continued to build the apparatus. Pipes and valves and hoses were everywhere, all connected with wires that went to the box.
“Nine four seven nine zero three six eight eight seven—“
“Best shit ever. Fu-fu–”
He was handy with a torch, and managed to make intricate cuts into a fertilizer tank, and shape it as shield between the John Deer engine that he was using for power and his slowly boiling flasks of chemicals.
“Seven seven seven three four six nine six five two—“
“Best shit ever.” He thought briefly of going over to Caroline and giving her a little kick, because she seemed stuck. How can there be three repeating numbers in pi? Maybe she was making the shit up, but it was soothing.
When the new batch was done, he fed some into the box, and some into the pipe the box designed for him. Caroline never stopped reciting, but got up when it was her turn. She paused only to inhale, then exhaled slowly as she continued.
“Two eight two one seven one seven four nine four—“
David agreed. “Best shit ever.”
Having now been properly dosed, he could continue his work. He picked up the welder.
The luck of fools kept him from blowing himself up. In theory, he would still need eye protection, but David was invincible and wanted to see the fire of the gods. With his eyes completely dilated, he stared at the intense flame for a few moments.
“Best shit ever.” He was grinning like a dumbass.
David was blind now, but he didn’t know it. He was hallucinating that he could still see. He continued to alternately weld and cut metal. To David it had a purpose, and he scoffed at the pedestrian-the common onlooker who might not understand this fusion of science and magic, of art and craft, of metal and
His own skin.
Somewhere along the way, he had either gotten too sloppy or too focused, or a hybrid of both. A metal plate had fused to his arm. He was feeling no pain, and besides, it belongs there. He started adding to it.
Caroline had stopped counting a while ago, so he had no idea where she really was, but he saw her sitting up, smoking a cigarette, and lovingly watch him as he continued to cut and weld.
When he was finished, he was part of his lab. He could cook the meth and it would go straight into him. The lab was connected to the box, and the box was connected to him.
After the fire department had put the fire out and cut the body away from the metal and hauled it away, the DEA was looking at what they could salvage for auction. The only thing that escaped damage was an old mini-main, about the size of a dishwasher.
For this challenge Chuck wanted us to write about the war on Christmas. I don’t care if you believe it or not–there is one. To read more, peek in your stocking here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The War On Christmas
The little brat sat on my lap, telling me all the crap he wanted for Christmas. I was half-listening as I warily surveyed the crowd. There was always some asshole—
Some jerk in Birkenstocks, torn jeans, and an ironic tee shirt was handing out flyers. Trying to tell people the “truth” about Santa. Their perverted version—
People were ignoring him, trying not to let him tell their kids anything.
I smiled for the picture and handed off the kid. I had to keep up the act for my disguise to be effective. If only they knew the *real* truth about Santa.
I saw my target, but kept up they act. The store was almost closed, and there were only three more chumps left.
The hot mom put her four year old in my lap, giving me a shot of cleavage. Thems the perks, right there. She stood and turned for me–
Fuck! Where’d he go? Dammit-dammit-dammit! I scanned the waning cluster of people to no avail. Whether by accident or design, the woman had let the target slip out. My eyes were innocent and merry, with a “Ho-ho-ho,” as I tried to get a read on her. She stared back with a blackness in her seductive eyes. I felt sick in the pit of my stomach. A team, working together. I had been made.
I looked down at the little girl in my lap. I realized it wasn’t a real girl. It was one of those life-like dolls that looks and sounds real, and talks and wets and cries–
And blows up. Inside its coat, I could see some wiring and a timer. Five seconds. Four–
I looked up, and the “mother” was quickly walking away, towards the food court.
Three turned to two as I looked down. Quickly I jumped up, and women started screaming when I tossed the faux-girl into the nearby fountain. Instinctively, I threw myself down as I yelled, “Everybody do-!!”
The explosion was small–it was meant to just kill me, and not cause much collateral. Even so, water and debris sprayed everywhere, and now people where *really* screaming. I muttered, “Shut up, you aren’t hurt,” then jumped up and took off towards the food court.
I saw her exit as I came running up, and never broke stride but continued out the door. Nobody stops a running Santa. In between the double doors I pulled my handgun, and cautiously peered out. There was pandemonium behind me, but outside it was quiet. Too quiet.
A silent night–
To my right was the giant exterior wall of Macy’s, and before that was the dark area of the service docks for the food court. I heard nothing, but I saw something twinkle. Carefully, I made my way closer. I dropped down behind a bush, and saw legs on the far side of truck as she climbed into the cab. I pulled my costume off and went around the corner, into darkness that matched my black clothes. I rolled under the truck and waited.
Nothing. I thought she would hotwire the truck and take off, like a scared rabbit. She’s good, I thought. Highly trained. If I hadn’t seen her, she could hide as long as she needed.
Since I had seen her, she was toast. I slowly rolled out, looking at the mirror on the passenger side. I didn’t see her, which means she couldn’t see me. I crept up, keeping an eye on the mirror. By the time she saw me, I was at the door. I pulled it open quickly and shot her. She was on the naughty list.
I had forgotten the original target.
I had a wire around my neck and I was jerked backward. We struggled for a few moments. I know several ways to get out of this, but I wanted to let him think he had the upper hand. In his anger, he didn’t realize what my plan was.
“You sonuvabitch! You killed her! You sonuvabitch, Santa! You fucking Christian soldier! Goddamn you!”
And then I had him. His John Lennon glasses came off in the ruckus. Suddenly he had the wire around his neck. I thought it was glowing, and then I realized it was a string of Christmas lights. These pagans love irony.
His last words were, “Winter Solstice is ours! Long live Saturnalia!” I choked the life out of him as he squirmed, and his mouth frothed, covering his soul patch.
The nerve of him, trying to take Christmas from the Christians. We took it, fair and square: the spoils of war.
Later, back at my flat, I cleaned up. I had disposed of all the evidence linking anything to me. In fact, it was easy to make it look like a ritual murder-suicide that these heathens seem to fall victim to so often. They had killed the Santa that I had replaced—the whole reason I was on this mission. I was a ghost.
It’s better that way. This is war. I’m Captain Nick Claus, Special Forces with the Salvation Army. In the past, I heard they did charity work, but I don’t know anything about that. I do know 17 ways to kill a man with a kettle. As I showered, out of habit I rubbed my tattoo, the one that all the members of my unit have.
“Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Tags: holidays, humor
I read this to my girlfriend and she said, “Wow, that’s not racist.” I think that was sarcasm, but I choose to accept it at face value, which means that it’s okay, and not at all controversial. Nonetheless, I figure that while I don’t owe anyone an explanation, I’m going to give you one.
Kwanzaa is a bullshit, made-up holiday created by an angry, racist, reactionary, criminal thug who wanted to drive more of a divide between black people and white people.
Since the followers of Kwanzaa want their own thing, I give them their own thing. A realistic holiday poem:
One night during Kwanzaa, all up in da crib
All my cousins was sleeping, for the bed they called dibs;
The laundry was hung by the heater with care
In hopes that it wouldn’t start a fire in there;
The babies was nestled all snug in they beds
While visions of bling and shit danced in they heads;
Baby Mamma in her moo-moo, looking so Phat
Had just then agreed to let me hit dat
When out on the lawn there arose such a ruckus
I jumped out of bed to see what the fuck was.
I thought it was cops when I saw the light flash,
So I opened the window and tossed out my stash
The spotlight on the dankness of old yellow snow
Looked like an episode of Cops in the alley below
Just then down the street came a crazy mo-fo
In a big ol convertible, full of bitches and hos.
With a smack-talking driver, all dressed up and hip
I knew in a moment it must be Da Pimp
The car boomed and it rocked, down the roadway it came
And he yelled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Lucretia, Lashonda, Lataisha, Sha-Nay-Nay”
“LaSharon, LaChevy, Tunisha, and Carol;
“To the top of the projects! To the liquor store wall!
“Now shake them all down, ‘fore I bitch-slap you all!”
When he pulled into the driveway it made such a sound
All the property values went instantly down
While the rims were still spinning he fell out of the car
Then stumbled around before throwing up in my yard.
He offered me his 40, the sneaky old prick,
Then distracted me with the oldest of tricks
He said, “Check that ass,” and when I turned around,
Through my back door Da Pimp came in with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, with a big-ass pimp hat
And gold and a cane, like this and like that
A handful of bags he had flung on his back
He looked just like a gangsta, smoking some crack.
His eyes – how they dilated! His teeth caps, how golden!
His cheeks were like chocolate, his face a crushed berry!
We could all see his drawers ‘cause his pants hung real low
And the beard of his chin was as black as the coal.
The roach of a blunt he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad nose and big ol’ fat gut
That he rested on the ass of a bent-over slut
He’s the spirit of Kwanzaa, set to do crime;
Fresh out the joint after doing hard time.
He was out to score free holiday fare;
I worked hard for my shit but he just didn’t care.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled his bags with my shit, the fucking old jerk
He took all my presents, and food–every bit
Then just strolled out the door–ain’t that some shit?
He hopped in his car, but I couldn’t run
As he peered at me down the barrel of his gun
But I heard him warn me, as he drove out of sight,
“I’ll be back next year, and fuck you up right!”
This was one of my favorite flash fiction challenges: write a horror story in three sentences. You have to get to the point in a hurry, and every word and piece of punctuation matters. I didn’t win, but I still like mine very much. To see more, slide on up in here: Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Scary Story in Three Sentences
Timmy cowered under his bed because there were no monsters there–not anymore. Although he was holding his head tightly under a pillow, he could still hear the screams of his family, and he could feel the percussion of things–just unimaginable things–wetly thudding to the floor. His own door opened with a rush, and when he heard the guttural, inhuman voice say, “Fresh meat,” he could sense it was salivating…but he was unable to pee his jammies any more than he already had.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.
Tags: computers, office space
I thought I would take a quick break from whatever the hell it is that I’m doing and try to catch you up on things. I look at the empty folders of my blog and wonder if it’s a metaphor for my ridiculous life. What do I write a blog for, anyway?
Before you answer that, let me give you some context–
–And who are “you”, anyway? Sometimes I feel like I am writing to…the world. My base of loyal fans, or future generations, or maybe God, asking for a detailed appraisal of my life because it’s in appeal whether or not I can get into heaven. If so, I’m in trouble.
And sometimes I feel like I’m writing to my kids. I don’t get to see them often enough now, and I know I am missing out on things going on in their lives, and they are missing out on mine as well. I want them to know me. It’s part of knowing themselves.
So maybe it’s for future generations after all…
And back to context: I have said (and I still maintain) that anyone who writes poetry is whacked in the head. I give as an example my own poetry, and my emotional state when I wrote it.
Likewise, when I started writing this blog–my journal, my life–I had some things going on, but I didn’t realize it.
Since I first started writing–maybe 2004?–this some of what has happened:
My mother had just recently passed away
We bought a house and moved
I left my wife
I met someone new
My father passed away
I moved again–a total of five more times
Divorce and so forth
Changed part time jobs numerous times
And those are the big things. Lots of little things happened, too. I wrote about most of them. And some point I wasn’t writing regularly because not enough was happening that was interesting. Maybe that’s a good thing. An old Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times.” I understand that whole-heartedly. My life has been less interesting in the last two years, and for that I’m grateful.
Of course, some things have happened and I don’t even know if I wrote about them because they were fairly painful and traumatic for me. Maybe I should have, because I would remember them better. Detroit ended up in the hospital a few times between December and January, and in January she had surgery, where they did a bowel resection and removed about a foot of intestine–remember, she has Crohn’s Disease.
So here’s what is happening lately:
Well, I’m grateful except for the part about Detroit, my lovely fiance, being out of work since Labor Day of last year. Irony, anyone? We have struggled to get by on my one and sometimes two incomes, her unemployment, food stamps, and creative juggling of the bills.
Twice I’ve made the New Year’s Resolution to not have any utilities shut off…and broken it by February.
Detroit has been actively looking for job. I didn’t see it because I was at work, but I trust that she was. And besides, I saw proof of it. Last year in November she took a test that was required if you wanted to apply for any government jobs with the state. By December she had the results–she passed and did well–and by January she started getting letters informing her of job openings for which she could interview. I don’t know how many interviews she has been on–hell, she might not even know–but it’s been a fucking lot of them.
Just this week, after she got back from an interview, she got a call from someone who had interviewed her two weeks prior and offered the job. What do you do when you get a job offer after being unemployed for 11 months?
You take the fucking job, that’s what you do.
She did. She starts in two weeks. Of course, just as there are hoops to jump for an interview, there are hoops to jump prior to starting a job.
Whenever she got a letter indicating there was a job opening, she had to either a) let them know she would go to the interview or b) let them know *WHY* she wasn’t going. Otherwise, the letters would stop.
After she let them know she would, she generally had to fill out an application, get copies of her reference letters, and send them in either by fax or email or snail mail, depending on what each one required. Then also bring that stuff to the interviews.
She traveled widely over the city and county and once to the neighboring county for interviews.
So it made sense that when she got this call, after she accepted she had to ask, “I’m sorry, but I have been on so many interviews–who are you with and where am I going?”
Her job is going to be near where her job with the Jennings school district was. There’s a government building in a shopping center (now called Westfall Center after former County Executive Buzz Westfall, but I know the place as Northland Plaza) at the corner of West Florissant and Lucas and Hunt.
Her job will be with the division of family services, I guess. In the same building they also do Probation and Parole, and she has interviewed for those jobs as well. It is just a clerical/secretarial position–she won’t have to solve anyone’s life problems.
Now that she has the job offer, and a start time in two weeks, she has to do things like get fingerprinted and photographed and get an FBI background check.
A job with the state doesn’t necessarily pay that well, but of all of our hopes and dreams, being rich fell off a long, long time ago. What a state job does offer is excellent benefits and pretty good job security: she’d pretty much have to kill someone on the job and then lose the appeal process with the union backing her up to lose her job.
It’s good news. We celebrated the other night and went out for steak. However, Detroit does have some concerns, mostly about her health. Is she going to be able to do the job?
Well, it’s not strenuous physical activity. It’s office work. For the state. You have to not be a vegetable to do that job. I think she’ll be okay.
Meanwhile, back at Eats–
A little about my job now. In March, I had my seven-year anniversary at the bank. One thing I earn at seven years is an increase in PTO. I was getting 11.25 hours accrued per month, and it increased to 14.25. That means that I went from three weeks to four weeks of time off, essentially. If you do the math it’s a little more.
It’s a hell of a thing to bitch about, but 4 weeks is too much time off. I can only roll over 40 hours into the new year; the rest of it doesn’t get lost but gets “banked” as something for use as, like…I don’t know, time I can use for family leave for extended illness or something like that. I don’t want to have to find out.
Also, there is a rule–a federal law, actually, and most of what we do at a bank is controlled by federal guidelines–that all employees must take off five business days in a row during a calendar year. They must take a week off.
The philosophy is not to guard our well-being. It’s because they (the government) knows that people can’t be trusted. Therefore, if you are up to some shit, it has a better chance of being uncovered if they can get you away from your desk for a week.
So when I started at the bank, I took quite a leap. I realize that I never fully engaged the…I don’t know, the corporate culture or the mortgage culture. People who are in it say mortgage is a different animal. I’ve been witness to it over the past few years.
When I started, I was just scanning. Essentially data entry, and the date I was entering was images of pages. Documents.
But I did it well and I wasn’t promoted because that would be stupid–I had no idea what I was doing. But I was given raises.
So for five years I did pretty much nothing except scanning. I did take on other duties related to the equipment–I’m still the peripheral wrangler on my floor. We had some shake-ups, and I did write about those. There was a day when several loan officers quit and took a lot of their loyal support people with them to go to a competitor. Over 40 people quit in one day.
About two years ago, I had some slack in my day and went looking for something to do. I’m willing to learn and I’m fairly smart, but no one wanted to teach me anything. I had a friend in department that was swamped, and she suggested I help them out. I did, and I learned some new stuff. I was pretty happy. I managed to be in one department, be scanning for another, and be auditing FHA files for Lender Insuring–yet another department.
My boss noticed this–and there were other things going on as well–so I got moved to another department where my work could actually be measured. I was moved to shipping.
I liked it, but I wasn’t doing very well. I still don’t understand why. But it was the first time I had time constraints and deadlines to deal with since coming to the bank. It was quite an adjustment. I loved the rush of…well, the rush. It was like the old days at Domino’s when we had a thirty-minute guarantee.
And then there was the day about a year ago when about 20 people where laid off. That was a hard, scary day as well.
After that, I started a new position: I was in Final Documents. It was like the finishing touches for our relationship with the investor. I liked final docs. I was doing it by myself, and then I had some help, and then by myself again. Then they gave me some actual help, a stern but nice lady named Melba. It went well with Melba for a few months. In January, she went on vacation, and I started to get behind. She got sick and stayed out longer, and I got behinder. Then she came back. Then she put in for her retirement, and was gone in less than a week, this time for good. I got behinder and behinder.
They moved a temp over to help me. I liked Janine, but honestly–
She lasted about a month with me, and I was grateful for the help. She acted like I was her boss, and that was cool. She left when she got an offer for a permanent job. Good for her. I was cleaning up her mistakes for the next two months.
I just started yet another new gig. Now I do “Investor Accounting.” My boss, Bunny, is trying to solve a lot of high-end problems with the mortgage pipeline, and she thinks if she can control the wires she can fix the pricing discrepancies. I’m not going to go into any more detail because I don’t understand much of it, but I understand enough of it to know that it’s not very interesting unless you’re in the middle of it.
But she wanted to move me into a position where I can communicate with the investors, charm them, and get them to do things her way. First I have to learn it.
So that’s what I did last week. I learned this new thing. I learned so much that my head hurts. I am done learning new things for several days. I guess until Monday. I learned so much that I had this conversation with another manager:
She: Are you okay?
Me: (surprised) Sure–why?
She: You just seem…you’ve had a scowl on your face all day.
Me: Oh, that. I’m just…very deep in thought.
And I was, too. Trying to process everything I was learning, with knowing that Bunny was expecting me to learn it, know it, excell at it, and then make improvements. It’s only been a week.
Yeah, it’s only been a week, and I’ve already made one improvement, and I have a plan for making another major one. The one improvement I did make?
Here’s the old way: I get these emails, print the PA (Purchase Advice) from the investor. I go into a program and print the Pay History for that loan. Using those two docs, I go into another program and fill out the funding sheet and then print that. A three-page doc for each file. The funding sheet I would scan in and send accross the street so that Dianna could process that part and make the wire transfers go through. Not my thing.
Then I would take the three page doc and scan it into PowerFlow, our file system. I would wait until the next day, in the morning, and do all of them together. Then shred the paper.
You know…back in the 80s, we were promised paperless computer world. We have computers *Everywhere*, and I see more paper than I’ve ever seen before. At the bank they’ve tried to embark on this philosophy called “Paperless.” I think I need to step up and champion the cause.
Friday, I didn’t print a single piece of paper.
I set my computer’s default printer to a program that prints to PDF. When it does this, it creates a file and you have to name it. I made a folder with Friday’s date and everything went there. I quickly came up with a scheme to name the pages to keep track of them.
I emailed Dianna the attachements instead of faxing over copies of printoffs. She noticed that they were so much easier to read.
I use a spreadsheet to track them all. At the end of the day I called her to see if I had the same number of files that she had. I could hear her rifling through papers as she counted–
Yeah, I think I can fix some of this.
Later I had time to do some of my old job. Because, yeah, I still have my old job doing final docs. I’m a one-man department doing that job, and I was understaffed when I was doing it full-time. I had to drop off a doc at the title company, and Mary axed me could I clean her scanner for her?
I said yeah, remind me again on Monday. I told her briefly about my new job, and how I still had my old one.
“Oh–did you get a promotion? Or is it a sideways move, or…?”
“I don’t know. What’s it called when you’re holding a bucket of poisonous spiders, and they hand you bucket of poisonous snakes and say, here, take care of this too? Yeah, I got a promotion.”