to the east side:
update your links! http://ghouser.com/
and life feels like this:
like this with just a touch of hay fever. but fuck it, the sun’s out.
See here for background info on the About.com project. The short version, if you’re too lazy to click the link, is that I’m using about.com’s fiction writing section as my holiest of bibles until I get to Alabama in August and start pursuing my MFA studies.
I’m going to use one of the site’s writing prompts (apparently they do these monthly) for this post. The March writing prompt, or challenge, is as follows:
For the March writing challenge, write a poem, prose poem, or short-short story from the point of view of an historical figure. The phrase “historical figure” may be taken broadly — anyone from Nicholas I to Nellie Bly’s mom is fair game — so be as creative as you’d like. Submit the result after reading About.com’s User Agreement. The form accepts responses of 450 words or so, and the challenge will be open until March 31.
Since I tend to take my direction literally, I’m going to jump right in with a story about Nellie Bly’s mother.
[If I could just step out of my authorial voice here for a second or two, for just a little commentary. Am I the only one who thinks it's a bit smug that this Ginny Wiehardt went with not only Nellie Bly, but Nellie Bly's mother as her "obscure" reference? I mean, really, who the fuck even knows who Stuntgirl Nellie Bly is? I only recognized the name because I had a history of journalism class ages ago and remembered that she was an Amelia Earhart type who performed acts of daring do for either Hearst or Pulitzer during the newspaper wars. It seems a bit showy to me, a bit like "Oh, look at me, I'm so smart, I'm one of the .000001 percent of students who Michener accepts, la di da di da. Granted this is of course assuming that Miss Wiehardt wrote the prompt in question. And yes, I did go 'head and do a little research on Miss Wiehardt, thereby learning that she did get an MFA from the Michener Center at Texas. I'll tell you what though, it's a damn sight more research then I'm gonna do for the hunk of shit story that's about to unroll before your very eyes.]
As I was saying I’m going to write a story about Nellie Bly’s mother…and I’m going to do it in the epistolary form. Why? I dunno, just sounded fun?
What you are about to read is an exchange of letters between Stuntgirl Nellie Bly’s mother, let’s just call her Maude, and the mother of none other than Evil Knievel. Now you’re probably wondering how a woman from, umm years past, could possibly maintain a correspondence with a woman in like the seventies. The fact is that they happen to share a temporal gastro-intestinal tract. Meaning that when Mrs. Bly wants to send a letter to Mrs. Knievel, in the future of course, all she has to do is write it out, fold it up neatly, then swallow it. Then, through the magic of time travel, and digestion, Mrs. Knievel is able to deliver the letter to herself in a manner that I’m sure you can envision with just a little imagination. [ok for the unimaginative out there, she has to poop the letter out.] And vice versa.
Now on with the fiction, as we go back to a blustery March day in eighteen something or other [told you I wasn't researching this fucking thing.]
Tuesday, 14 March 18somethingorother
I must say, that I was quite taken aback to find your letter in my chamberpot this morning betwixt the remnants of last night’s feast. I dare say you should be just as confused should I work out a manner to post this reply, as I don’t think you meant your letter to be read by human eyes other than your own. This I base mostly on your assertion that “I shall swallow these words when I am done, and no one shall know these fears.”
I confess, that I share many of the same fears as I too have a child who insists upon acts of daring do, much like this child of yours, this Evil. I can only hope that the good lord looks on him with much providence and that the moniker is but a stage name, much like the Stuntgirl before my dear Nellie’s own. Should that be the case my lady, fear not for the good lord takes care of those that take care of their own.
Now I must dash for I’m not sure that this letter shall arrive in the manner I wish. I dare say, I am going to try the same method that I conjure brought this communique to my porcelain bowl this very morning, which is to say that I shall swallow this letter and hope the good lord sees fit to deliver it to thine own bowl.
In Jesus Name.
p.s. I dare say, some weeks ago, a small white cube, emblazoned with the letter “E” arrived in my chamber pot. Could it be that this small token arrived in the same manner as your letter? I do not recall eating such a thing…but I have been known to dip into the gin on colder nights.
Check back tomorrow, or whenever I get bored, for Mrs. Knievel’s* thrilling response.
*seriously, fuck this guy for spelling his name this way. it’s a royal pain in the ass to type out every time.
As we all know, about.com is the definitive authority…on everything. And, as we further all know, they have a fiction section! Why am I so excited! I’m so excited because I’ve decided that until I get to school in August and get to work with some truly creative classmates and get worthwhile instruction, I’m just gonna use about.com as my end all, be all guide to fiction writing!
What this means for you dear reader, is that I’ll follow the advice and guidance provided on the fictionwriting.about.com site to a tee. I’ll do their writing excercises, I’ll follow their grammar advice and I’ll put their techniques for securing an agent and getting published to practical use. I really don’t see how this could go wrong.
[i'm also doing this because it's probably a more productive use of this bla(h)g than another masturbatory story, or my other big project, stalking st vincent. it's not really stalking if we're soulmates though, right?]
[tried to write tonight and got nowhere. just ended up umm, i don't even know, ranting? i don't know what this is, but it's crap. that's for sure, so read at your own risk. both of you. read. at. your. own. risk. seriously, delware person, person in the suburbs and other person in the suburbs, this is bad. move along. go look at porn or something like a healthy american. there is nothing here - you can't see it, but i'm waggling my finger at you like obi wan kenobi from the star wars films. ya know when he's all like "these aren't the droids you're looking for". that guy, how awesome was he? then he got all whiney and shit. but i won't get into that. this guy has that ground amply covered. but none of that has anything do with this.]
My iphone geotag, status update, four square location or whatever would say this: at home trying to be lonely, angry and creative. But, I don’t have an iPhone, so I’m just sitting here doing all of the above, the aforementioned rather, without being able to let the world know. It kinda makes my solitude feel hollow. Yes I fully realize I could update this manually on Facebook or Twitter or egads even Myspace [that would seem just dirty and gauche at this point] but I like the idea of a phone selling me out. I like the iDea of a phone going behind my back and announcing to the world that I’m sitting in front of a computer trying to clack out some nonsense instead of outside engaging in life.
[forgive this next paragraph. this was written when i was hoping i could mangle this into a story somehow. which isn't to say the following didn't happen, it most certainly did, i'm just warning you that it's a little, well, nevermind.]
I went upstairs to make coffee a bit ago. I flipped the brown, wool watch cap I’m wearing up on my head. I pulled the brim up so it made a nice little bowl on top of my head. I looked at myself in the mirror and felt like a cossack. But I’m not really sure what cossacks look like, I just have a vague image in my head and bowl-shaped headwear seemed to fit. As I looked at myself more, I realized that my spirit animal is a beaver. So I danced a bit like an amorphous beaver cossack.
Except neither cossacks nor beavers are amorphous, so I stopped dancing.
[point of fact: both cossacks and beavers are known to be excellent dancers.]
I made the coffee. I filled the empty tin teapot with warm water from the spout. I retrieved coffee from the fridge, dumping an inch of good, brown coffee into the clean french press. While I waited for the water to boil, I looked at my sallow reflection in the kitchen window. I thought about the years and their passing. I rubbed the skin under my chin, remarked in my head that it felt loose. The pot whistled and I dumped the coffee into the press and watched a thousand tiny snakes whirl in the stew of water and grounds and I tried to read my future in the leaves, sorry the grounds, because I just wanted someone to tell me where I was going and if I was doing the right thing and…
Sorry about that. This whole thing is kinda happening in real time and what you just read, the last couple sentences in the last paragraph, was the confluence of a few factors. See, what I was trying to do was write that paragraph in the style of a Nick Adams story. You know where you have to read an entire paragraph about the contents of this guy’s boxed lunch that he brought fishing and everything is “good” and “warm” and “cool”. Additionally, the coffee I made just started to kick in a bit [because I've been drinking it] and I may have been getting a bit antsy.
Not that any of that is important. What’s important is this: right now I don’t have an iPhone and I don’t have any iDeas. Though I guess the first one’s not so important. I’m not actually sure how the first one relates to anything really. That’s not entirely true, I know how it relates to me starting whatever this happens to be [anything more than a blog entry? doubtful]. Because as I was getting ready to start writing someone’s four square location [four square being, i think, some sort of dumb application on your phone that tells the world "oh hey, look at me, i'm here. yaay. love me. validate me. please for the love of god tell me i'm worth something." ok, it mostly just says where you are, but the subtext for all that other shit is there.] popped up on my google buzz and they are obviously out having a wonderful time and I’m sitting at home lamenting the rain, trying to read and forcing myself to write [thus we have the nonsense going on right now] and I thought to myself “heh, would be kinda funny if I could alert the world that I’m feeling all hermitty and crabby and I’m getting ready to make a big ass cup of coffee and try to write.”
This would be funny, of course, because writing’s like the most antisocial thing ever [see title of mcsweeney's humor compilation at this point for flimsy anecdotal evidence]. I can’t even really do it if other people are around. I can edit at a coffee shop or something, sure…but actually write, nope. Can’t do it. I end up just staring at people, trying to figure out their deals, glowering at the unruly and mismanaged children and sneaking glances at the cute [though way too young] baristas [yes, I am a creepy, creepy old man], checking facebook, reading bco, bidding on vintage medical equipment on ebay that I can neither operate or afford, contemplating novelty t-shirt purchases [there are probably 755 unpurchased shirts on zazzle with my face on them], thinking about a moped, a new tattoo, whoever it is that i’m: obsessed with, ignoring, mad at or ambivalent about at the moment relationship-wise, etc. Should providence allow, I’ll even bring up my Okc page. But the last thing I’ll do there is write. Just doesn’t work for me.
I’m completely lost at this point. I was gonna draw some parallels between me wanting to update my pointless status and some of the comparably pointless updates I see every, single, goddamn, infuriating day on facebook, like so:
thank you lord for electricity!
[yes, because jesus works nights as an electrician]
[oh, also, i'm mocking this because the "thank you lord" is not being used rhetorically in this case. i really think this person thinks jesus is responsible for flicking a big switch somewhere when the power goes out. ok, well, now i'm just being condescending. i'm sure this person understands how electricity works, but i do think that they think the old jesus is responsible for making it come back on when it came back on, because, ya know, it's not like the guy doesn't have better things to do]
There are tons more of these, but I’m getting annoyed trying to filter through this garbage to pick out the truly mundane examples [seriously people stick to the classics: passive-aggressive bragging, "inspirational" quotes, banal observational humor and oversharing]. Add in the energy required to mock them and it’s just not really worth it. There are whole web sites devoted to this. I need not waste any more of my time. Anyhoo, this clusterfuck of misguided notions is coming to an end. Adieu.
[i'm seriously considering a neck tattoo of the above image]
I got a little day drunk at lunch today (my mom was in town for the flower show, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Also for the love of god, if you still check this thing mom, stop reading now.) and I’m still kinda pissed that my proper site isn’t up and running yet, so I might as well tear off a legit post.
Here’s the story of how I got caught whackin it.
There are things that happen in life, that at the time, seem like the most mortifying, horrifying thing ever. You think that they’ll bring an end to life as you know it, will cause you to to be ostracized and result in general outcasterism. As a neurotic kid who was way too concerned with other peoples’ opinions, this was pretty much everything for me. But you get older, you grow up and you realize how fucking hilarious this stuff is. The time I got caught jerking off in high school definitely falls into this category.
I lived in a cul de sac growing up. Ok, it wasn’t really a cul de sac, the road just kinda ended in a dirt patch and then there was a field. But whatever. In about junior high, one of my friends from school moved in across the street. We’ll call him B. B was the funny kid in school. He was someone you didn’t want to have any dirt on you, because he would bust your balls at will.
I was terrified of B, while at the same time desperate for his friendship and approval. And here’s the thing about B, when you were one on one, he was totally capable of being kind and empathetic. But, as we all know, kids are ruthless. I’m just as guilty of this kind of shit myself and it’s something I regret…a lot. But, I was a kid and I was the biggest cliche in the book (covering up my own insecurities by pointing out flaws in others.)
I’m pretty sure I was a sophomore, maybe a freshman when this all went down. Now, if you know anything about fourteen to fifteen year-old boys, you know this: they masturbate. A lot. I don’t know how these kids today survive. I would have pulled it off with all the porn available. These kids have no idea how good they have it. They’ll never have to talk a greasy kid at school into stealing some of his dad’s gross porn. They’ll never scour the woods for woods porn (This exists. For real.) They’ll never have to have a secret cache of Victoria Secret catalogs and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues stowed in the bathroom. It was a rough time, the 90′s.
Which brings us to the point of this story. It wasn’t so bad that I got caught beatin’ it, it’s what I was beating it to that’s funny.
It was summer and like most days, I decided to have some sexy time with myself. The lock on my door was broken. This usually wasn’t a big deal, as my family was pretty good about knocking.
I got myself set up on the floor. Put my “material” in front of me, dropped trough and laid myself over the blue corduroy husband pillow that was so dear to me (there’s another masturbatory story about this pillow, but that’s for another time.) So there I am, getting really into my “material” and having at myself. I’m going at it for a few minutes when I hear something behind me. I turn around to see B standing there, eyes bulging out of his head. He closed the door and tore ass down the stairs. I ripped my pants up and turned a shade of hot red.
Now, as I’ve said, it was bad enough that I’d just got caught beating off, but what was I jerking it to? Thanks for asking. It was. Well. Here, just look at the goddamn picture:
Ayep, I had gotten caught beating off to Stephen King’s “It”. The book no less. Like I said, times were rough, and there was a pretty hot sex scene in it. The kicker? I’m pretty sure it was a copy that I’d borrowed from B. I think it was his mom’s. Needless to say, I never returned it.
To his credit, B never said a word about it. I’m pretty sure he told everyone, I mean I grew up in a tiny town, everyone knew everything, but he never said a word to me about it.
Well. I’m clearly still waiting for the stupid ass motherfucking internet to give me my motherfucking url. Shit should have been up and running ages ago. But, since the stupid fucking site that I registered it at hasn’t fucking transferred the url yet, I can’t do shit. I filled out a stupid ass fucking customer service request today. Fuck. Shit should be up soon.
[this post brought to you by two days of nicotine withdrawal. I mad.]