April 26, 2011

Didn't Feel Like Making The Bullets Though

This was always one of those strange, enigmatic paintings that make you look twice. Ferdinand Hodler's Night from 1890. It's just a little disturbing unless you don't really look at it. Um... what?? Doesn't look like the dude is too happy with it.

Yes and after last night's list I'm sure you see by now that I am attracted to things that are just a little bit off. Oh well... "I cannot fiddle, but I can make a great state of a small city."

Since I'm up most of the night now I just came in from setting out the garbage for the service in the morning. I got some kind of strange little joy rumbling out the garbage can at 1:30 in the morning - the shank of my day - while everybody on the street is asleep.

Got some news today that's kind of interesting. I'm going to have to have surgery on both my eyes to remove cataracts that have decided to hitch a ride. Both eyes. I guess they're pretty bad and when I told the family I got a lecture about how I don't take care of myself. Things don't change much. Anyway these operations are nothing anymore. I get to have a happy pill and when I'm done I won't have to wear glasses anymore, I'm told. And I'm not sure how I feel about that because I've worn glasses since the third grade. I can't even tell you what I look like without glasses. I'm not even sure I WANT to be without glasses. I'll keep you posted. I don't know when this is all going down.

The lack of interest in Facebook and blogs on my part towards others and others towards me has entered another week. I'm not totally sure what to say at this point. I don't want to talk to angry white conservatives anymore. I don't really have an interest in trends. I had a really good idea the other day. Dave2 wrote this cool posting about how he came up with the artwork for the first issue of Thrice. So I was going to do this bit of me going through the stories with empty liquor bottles and mussed up hair and an original concept drawing of a bunch of squiggles as the goal and clocks saying it's late at night and me getting more and more frazzled. And in my head it was pretty funny but then the idea of taking pictures of myself in various conditions just seemed kind of stupid and I dropped it. So just imagine it, k?

It's all due to a lack of enthusiasm I think. Not that all enthusiasm is gone for everything. Far from that. I'm in the usual dead zone that you get into 20,000 words into a novel where you think it's all shit and you want to start on something else. That usually lasts a week or so and then after trying some detours you're back at the first thing you dropped again. Happens all the time. The last thing I did at about this point I just started over. And I've got four starts for this latest thing and hate them all. Just part of the process I think.

I'm ending a 5 day weekend. It was like a little vacation except for the fact that I had to have the stuffing in my ears I picked up in Florida evacuated from my poor impacted ear canals, the eye doctor's appointment and that news, plus the Easter thing (I'm just not a big fan of the traditional Easter fare I think. In fact I think it's becoming more and more inedible to me). Because it's a Catholic company I work for and the work is overnight we didn't go in on Thursday because that would have taken us into Good Friday and that's a no-no. So we worked Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday instead of Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday for 40 hours plus after 5 days off I'll get an extra 8 hours pay for the holiday. Pretty sweet. I hear Thanksgiving is a 6 day weekend around these parts. Well, after my operation at least I'll be able to see what the plant actually looks like!

Plus I am overcome with the idea that if I were the manager of the 1959 Washington Senators I bet I could have made a run for the pennant that year. But maybe that's a book idea. I can't tell any more.

That's it for now kiddies. Ended up once again needing a dump truck to unload my head. For a guy with nothing to say I sure blab a lot.

April 18, 2011

Reflecting Pool - Part Two

If the opening part of this series didn't bore you enough already I'm about to go into the second part. So if you're passing through you've been warned! You remember this right? It's where i transcribe the self-indulgent notes I wrote to myself about myself by myself at the pool that one week. How self-absorbed can a person get? Well if you're me apparently pretty much. If you need a refresher on this first part go here. If not, don't worry. This can't last too much longer.

The chances are pretty good I'm really not who you may think I am. Maybe I'm not boring, but I can very easily be a boor. Two different things. So much so that it would probably wear thin on you after a while and you'd quickly be looking for something else to do. I'm the guy who asks the stupid, embarrassing and/or unrelenting question that spoils the party, send good and friendly drinking binges into an existential slumber, and ruin Christmas wondering aloud why the neighbor has put a life-sized Santa in his life-sized manger Jesus baby scene. In fact I'll probably want to go over and ask him about it unless you stop me. And the fact of the matter is that the more I drink the deeper that kind of shit gets.

It would be wrong of you to think - at the very moment I've had my ninth vodka lemonade or something - that something profound was going on or something great and noble and wise was about to happen. There may be a germ of something in the babble you'd hear, but hell if I knew what it meant. In fact one of the methods I sometimes use when I do the fiction writing is to work under the influence. I know enough to know that it will shake some ideas out of the stuck place but make no mistake - I have to then struggle with it for hours, sober, to make it readable and understandable. Otherwise it's just the usual unmitigated crap you'd expect from somebody who had too much to drink just then. No I don't do it often. I would get nothing done at all. I'd just spend my time scurrying around trying to figure out what the bloody hell i was getting at. That method is just a matter of kicking at the plaque that collects around an idea in the brain.

Then again if ever we find ourselves at a wedding, a party or any place where that kind of thing is allowed and I have not destroyed it with politics or religion or telling children that there's no such thing as the Easter Bunny, you just might see this old guy still bring some Cabaret Metro style moves to the dance floor. A sad thing? I think not. I'm not bad, actually. Some people call my dancing quirky. Others political. Anarchistic. Evocative of the 80's origins of the hip hop to come. My wife just says it's embarrassing.

So you see I am a bundle of contradictions. For example I truly love my city - not living in Chicago is a strange, scary idea. Yet the idea that there are better places to live than America is not one that bothers me. I'm sure there are. Paris. Dominica. Dublin. Zihuatanejo on Mexico's pacific coast. Any place in Spain. Hell, if I could find a place that had all the stuff in it that Chicago has - minus the willful, proudly ignorant provincials and sickeningly patriotic religionists, national supremacists and run of the mill bigot bible whores who believe any line of bullshit that already feeds their corrupted, under-educated narrow little minds that have the run of the USA - I'd jump at the chance. So long as I could take my granddaughter with me, that is.

Even then I'd end up missing Chicago and have to go back sooner or later if only for a little while. That's just how I roll.

I want to tell the people who stomp the ground and swear to high heaven that their hatred of Barack Obama is not based on the fact that he's black that it may not be obvious to them but they're covering it up poorly and shut up and go back to their Klan meeting. But on the other hand I really don't care what anybody thinks about Barack Obama because really he's nothing special and who cares if he gets bounced next election? All Presidents end up the same kind of crap anyway. So I pretty much just sit and stew any more.

I want to tell all the over-zealous vegans who pour blood on innocent people that I just love hearing pigs squeal when they get whacked because it makes them taste better yum. But on the other hand I'm pretty pissed off at the mega blaster corporate food industry ever since I saw this movie. So I just go about my business and live the damn day out whatever it is.

I want to give stuff away to people who have nothing but I want a 40-room mansion with an enclosed pool for the winter. I want to call myself a philosophical anarchist but would jump at the chance to be a dictator. I'm a recorded member of a pacifist peace church (Quakers) but I fantasize about pushing the teeth back into the throat of any run-of-the-mill Pat Robertson you could think of with my fist.

On top of all this I'm certainly not the guy to trust with a secret. Not because I'd wait for my chance and maliciously spill the beans at the precise moment meant to embarrass you to the greatest possible degree - but because at some point I just forgot it's a damn secret.

So don't tell me nothin'. Really.

(Next and final installment - "Tassels on your God damn stupid ass entrepreneur loafers with a sport coat you prick.")

All 4 nao.

April 15, 2011

A Short Aside

I will resume the reflection pool thing in a day or so, but in the meantime I saw this picture and just had to post.

Here is the Libyan dictator's daughter whats-her-name being "defiant."

And I can just hear her reasoning...

So, I'm going to go out and stand behind this podium festooned with cheap-ass electric Christmas lights that look like they're from 1954. I'm going to stand next to this thing that looks like a bombed-out toilet wall combined with some kind of Tim Burton iron sculpture representing something I don't know what.

I'm going to go out there with this face that will have people searching the web for better pictures of me and put this look on it like I've been completely sheltered from reality and have had any kind of harsh truth hidden from me all my life. I have a pretty dress and a pretty thingee that goes around my head and my hand is raised.

You can tell by the look on my face, and the fact that I'm very very happy to see a camera taking a picture of meeeee, that this is my defiant stance. We're the Kadaffies, or however the hell you spell it from one year to the next, and we run this.

Did you get my good side? I'm going to be Queen someday. Queen of busted mud huts and cracked toilet walls and bad light decorations that make no sense at all. Exposed electric cords and all. But this is Libyan expertise in action.

Aren't we great?

Did you get my good side/

April 10, 2011

Reflecting Pool - Part One

I am beside a pool alone with a pen, a notebook, sunglasses, lotion and a Minute Maid lemonade spiked with too much vodka the bartender added for me. My wife is in her conference hall conferencing. There's some kind of music on my iPod and there's a copy of the Rough Guide To Cult Fiction down by my feet just in case there's nothing in this pen after all.

I was here like this yesterday and I'll be here like this tomorrow until the evenings when MrsRW will be done with her stuff and we can go to dinner. She knows, better than anyone else, that I am doing exactly the one thing I long for during get-aways. Poolside pen and paper. And lemonade. Cough.

The fact is that even with all the other options around there is basically nothing else I'd rather be doing right at this moment.*** I suppose I could go to the amusement parks around. It's Florida, after all. I could strike up a conversation with some of my fellow conference widows and widowers. I could go see people I know - even family in a couple places fairly close by. But I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing right at this moment. I find I am capable of being equally happy being alone as anything else.

I mentioned to my wife on the way down here on the plane that after careful observation it occurs to me that I can't be insulted. I mean to say you can certainly try, and I'm certain you can find a bunch of things I should be embarrassed about or weaknesses I have that make me very vulnerable. Anything can be said and I am one person who is very far from perfect and bullets are easy to find for me. But the point is you won't get the desired effect. Your shots would certainly hit meat but I'd probably just sit there. I think I've come to the point where the days of taking offense about challenged honor and feeling required to mete out punishment to my detractors are pretty much a thing of the past. It seems to me that before a person can be so sullied as to fight back he'd have to actually care what other people think about him. And there ya go.

Anyway we start from there.

But as I look around the pool there are all the usual suspects. All the types you might imagine at a pool at a hotel at a vacation destination. Kids are jumping and splashing and their parents are making believe they're reading and talking but everybody knows one eye is on the kids. There's people sunning, smiling, making like they're not secretly checking each other out. The women do that the best. Nobody's writing anything but me though. And what I think I see are people who mostly don't like the idea of being alone for any length of time. Whereas for myself I find that I like people very much and I do need contact and interaction from time to time, the thought of protracted periods of time in complete solitude leave me completely untroubled. In fact it sounds like pure bliss.

Oh and just so you know - I am writing this with a pen on actual paper. And so far I haven't stopped or edited one word or phrase since the first word up there (and I'm fighting hard to resist it now as I type it up here.)

Now if you don't know any better you might be someone reading this right now thinking "I'd like to go hang out by the pool with you there RW" but - like I said - if you didn't know any better. Because, really, I'm exceptionally dull. Very dull, in person anyway to be sure. I've always felt I'm a hundred times better a communicator using the written word than with actual verbal interaction. I think too slow for people. Everybody wants to go vaseline machine gun when they talk and I'm careful and slow. So what happens is that I end up being just very willing to let you or whoever else is with us just go ahead and fill all the dead space they want. I'll just listen.

And yet - even though I try to be careful with what I say - I somehow always (and I mean always) find a way to say something that can easily be taken the wrong way. Not because I'm being purposely insolent or callous or trying to be hurtful, but because I haven't gotten out enough of the background subtext to fully explain what I'm doing and you just ran off with what was out there and now you're all mad at me. You never waited for the footnotes. And now I'll never get the chance to explain it well enough, and so I let you have your ball of shit if that's what you want to go kick around.

I'm sure this comes from living in my head for so long. Not as an enforced condition of some kind but by pure choice. Somewhere along the way I decided that what's going on inside my head is stuff I'd rather be messing with than the stuff going on around me. That's not to exclude important dates; kid's birthdays, anniversaries, my wife's accomplishments or family celebrations. I enjoy all of that. But even then I can't stop being 50% in my head during all that. It's just the way they built me.

It's probably a tactic of self-preservation or just insecurity. I've screwed up enough interactions with people to know that I need to watch myself a little closer than most. I'm usually not in the flow. I'll usually blurt something that doesn't make sense without a thousand word explanation. I've already come to a different conclusion than you've just stated. So the quiet and the fortress inside my head is just a sad little strategy.

I can be standing next to you talking about something totally unimportant and have this image of your head exploding all over my shirt. Or wonder what it would be like if you got crazy mad at me and started punching and kicking the shit out of me. No reason. It just happens in there.

I can watch someone right now dive off the side of the pool and imagine what their head would look like split open on the concrete because they missed. Like something vivid is always just around the corner. And my stomach is even a little tight in anticipation that something is about to happen. Something wild or odd or bad. Exploding chests. Ugly emotional outbursts. Heroic sharts.

So, no, you probably really don't want to be here. And, to be honest, you'd probably keep me from writing. So maybe this is good just like it is.

(NEXT: "I'm probably the opposite of whatever you're thinking I am")

*** This was written long hand Wednesday April 6

April 02, 2011

I'm Going To Disappear Now...

On Sunday April 3, 2011 at some point I am going to get on a plane. They are going to let me sit in the 1st Class section from here to Charlotte and then from Charlotte to Florida. And when I'm done with Florida they're going to put me in 1st Class again from there to Charlotte, and then one more time from Charlotte back home to Chicago (the best city on earth). And in all four of those segments I fully intend to be lit before we even take off, staff willing.

As is the usual case with 1st Class, it has nothing to do with me paying the premium to be able to do that. Instead, it has everything to do with MrsRW's miles, which she works on all year long so that her slug of a husband can travel 1st Class with her when we go on vacation - which is what I am about to do as of April 3, 2011. In case I haven't mentioned that. By the way.

Also this is a picture of Mick Jones when he was with The Clash. More on that later.

When I come back from my vacation - which I am in desperate need of after quitting my last job in February that hadn't paid me a paycheck since Christmas Eve that has since sent 1 of four I'm still waiting for, lobbied with Catholic church ladies to get a job in a print shop that prints stuff for Catholic churches, started working three 13 hour days a week at overnight hours, started a fiction magazine with Dave Simmer, continue to add 2-3,000 words on yet another novel, while I patiently wait for my agent to find a home for the last mess I wrote, working all winter so far on my high school's 40th reunion and oh wait I have a meeting of those folks before I get on that plane - I'm going to get me a new suit.

It's going to be this one because I never get a suit without a vest and that's the color to which I will add a lime green tie and pocket handkerchief because that's how I roll and I have no problem with dressing up when it's called for and can pull it off oh you just wait and see.

Then I'm going to do some painting around the house because during that high school reunion (did I mention it's the class of 1971's 40th?) I'm hosting a reception here at the house for a teacher that I have probably 7 alums and their spouses dying to attend the Friday before the reunion dinner.

Here's a great performance by Big Audio Dynamite...

Which includes Mick Jones who used to be with the Clash and who now looks like this...

A fate which is coming for you too, wiseass. Wait and see.

Anyway the point is I probably won't be around much for the next week. I am toying with the idea, seriously, of leaving my MacBook at home and never going online until I get back, hoping my vacation sounds like this.... (I've posted her stuff before, click play, close your eyes and shut up)

...which is sung in Portuguese I think, but which happens to be (in My O) the sexiest language on the planet regardless. I mean of course Portuguese. Be quiet I'm brooking no argument no matter how many times I had to write that...

Not that we're going anywhere where Portuguese is being spoken (I can only wish), but the sound is what our vacation is about to be like, is the point.

You really want to come with.

But you can't.

see you when I get back. If I can remember my name....