Monday, August 15, 2011

Repeat Offender

"Dude, we should bounce some ideas around first. I think for the formal one it should say, 'To whom it may concern' and the fan-one should say 'Dear Dave Eggers or Dr. Haggis-On-Whey or Lucy Thomas."

"I think we should go get some donuts and cream sodas," I said.

"Ray, come on. Let's get at least some work done before we do something like that," Lester said, opening a black notebook and dropping it on the floor. "Do you have any ideas?"

I shrugged.

"Come on then! Think!"

"I can't. I'm hungry."

"You just don't want to work. You're being lazy, Ray. You quit your job, you're doing nothing. Surely you can work on this today. I'm working every day of the week and now I'm here on my day off, should of gone to church, but I'm here to work with you, dude." He sounded more serious than normal. As if this was a matter of life-or-death. Maybe it was.

"Dude, you wanna watch the Big Lebowski?"

"No, I want to work on this thing. I think it could be very good."

"I don't want to work. I don't ever want to think of writing as work. And now you're blatantly calling it that and making me feel like it is."

"I love to design. I do it on my own. But sometimes it feels like work, and I still do it. That's the nature of all art. It is good that it feels like work. So we can suffer and sacrifice for our art. That's the only way it's any good."

"Well, then. My writing must be terrible." I said this plainly, with no hint of emotion, which pleased me greatly.

"Dude, that's not what I'm saying."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying we should work on this."

"And I'm saying we should get some donuts and some sodas, then work on it. I can't write early in the morning."

"It's 11."

"Too early, man. I need about eight hours of fiddling around for every one hour of productive work."

"So you're gonna waste my time?"

"Dude, how are donuts and cream sodas a waste of time? And then we can watch the Big Lebowski."

"You hate that movie."

"I know."

"You're just procrastinating."

"Procrastination is a prerequisite for creating art. As a wise man once said, 'Procrastination is the creation of an exciting life by manufacturing tension, because suddenly you're off on this great adventure.'"

"Can't we just do a little bit of tossing around ideas before we do anything else?" he asked, earnestly blinking his eyes.

"No." I felt ruthless and alive because of it.

"Then I'm gonna leave, Ray. If you don't want me to help you, I've got better things to do."

He walked across the room and opened the front door. "Help me?" I called after him. He turned around, keeping his hand on the door frame. "I'm the one helping you write this thing."

"Right," he said. "Bye." He shut the door behind him and I decided I was ready to go.

I went out and walked to a store where I purchased a $100 backpack with the $134.11 I had left in my bank account. I walked back home and just sat for a few minutes on the floor shaking. From my closet, I grabbed a small, green sleeping bag and shoved it into the new backpack as small as it would go. Also, from my closet I brought out five T-shirts, two long-sleeve shirts, three pairs of jeans, seven pairs of underwear and socks, and a beanie and stuffed them all into my backpack. I added a water bottle, my wallet, a flashlight, my cell phone charger, a few pens, a sharpie, a small notebook, and an immense novel by Adam Levin. I zipped it up and set it by my front door.

In the morning I didn't take a shower, but dressed quickly and left my home with the backpack strapped to my shoulders. I started to walk.

In walking, I will get to new places. I won't give myself the illusion that I am doing something new and exciting by writing a blog. I won't fool myself into thinking I can be better friends with Lester or Anna, only to end up hurting them in repeated cycles.

As I walked across a bridge, my cell phone vibrated in my pocket. It was Emma.

"Hey, Ray. I really enjoyed catching up with you the other day. I bought this movie a friend of mine recommended yesterday. It's called Wendy and Lucy. I was going to watch it tonight, and I know how much you love movies, so I thought of you. And I can't eat a whole bag of popcorn myself."

"I've already seen that movie," I said.

She was silent for a slight second before saying, "Oh, Okay. Well-"

"Thanks for asking. I'll see you later. Bye."

I shut my phone and clutched it tightly in one hand, before tossing it over the rail of the bridge.

That was ten minutes ago, and now I've stopped by the library to write this post. As I look around at some of the patrons behind the computers, I smile, in anticipation of looking more like them.

And now I'm gone.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Sestina

I spent all day on this. Once I started, I couldn't stop. There was nothing else to do.

I Don’t Know About All This

The gals attending the annual bird pageant
peek through bead eyes, find it hard to swallow:
the lengths of men’s tails, leaving them to doubt
whether they might ever find any as long as a dog’s
and it is so very difficult to have so much patience.
The blind sages call all of this show a grave-sin.

Can there be with all of life, a beauty in the sin
or are all these attention-shows a meaningless pageant
the wise are forced to suffer through with patience?
Arise off of your perch, bright modest swallow!
Leave in the dust the world of chomping dogs,
fly free of pretense, false affection and self-doubt!

Be not like the famous ancient man Thomas of Doubt,
find the one redemption to free yourself from showy sin,
don’t let anyone find truth in calling you one of the dogs,
make your life the example, don’t attend the world’s pageant,
and be able to make the difficult decision to force to swallow
the phrase, “All good things come to those who have patience.”

The nurse-world has turned us all into her patients
kept in a hospital-cycle: from blissful hope to doubt
she sticks down our throats what is too easy to swallow:
the large, quick-acting, sleep-inducing, placebo medicine.
We pin a blue ribbon on the ugliest patient at the pageant
because the large pill lowers us all to the status of dogs.

We become bastards, bitches, sons-of-bitches, baddest of dogs
howling our complaints to our vets as we wounded patients
are criticized only because we enter ourselves into the pageant,
induced to see our own worth through the lens of doubt
and to never be able to forget our memories of naked sin
we ironically destroy what’s good, swallow the whole swallow.

We keep exchanging roles for one another: the swallow
to the swallower, the ruthless, toothful, chomping dogs.
So much switching must be what the sages say: a sin.
We must stop being so good at having easy patience
with ourselves and begin to forever seriously doubt
the value of our sticky lives at the long-lasting pageant.

If you can see it is a sin to swallow
the cotton-candy pageant, leave it to the dogs,
I have no patience left, and need a way out of all this doubt.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Café

Today I went out for coffee with Emma, an old friend of mine. My current friends are simply stale, not doing anything for me. In our conversation, she allowed me to have a sort of detachment from my current self, as I explained everything. She knows only the past me. Still, I have to pretend to still be filled by the current friendships I have. To that end, I must write that Eggers piece with Lester. Again, as a transitory piece of writing, I have written this poem about the in-between time of each of the circumstances with Anna and with Emma as I waited for Emma at the cafe. I think I'll try my hand at a sestina next.

A Café

As I sit in a twisted black metal chair
with a cup of Double Mexican Mocha
outside the café in the summer’s morning breeze,
I pull on a gray sweatshirt to hide a shiver
an hour after the discussion
discovering how we went wrong

Alone, except surrounded by various-sized dogs
tied to signposts and hydrants
who stare at me with blank eyes
no indication of whether they’d bite
if I tried to pet them

Alone, I feel like myself
for the first time in weeks

I wait for a friend I haven’t seen in years
as I listen to Tchaikovsky through big headphones
and wonder if she will remind me
of who I am or who I was
(or none of the above—

But mostly I think about
what will change after the discussion
If, in the naming of things
we can be renewed

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

No Writing

I haven't felt like writing. I quit my job at PetSmart and have been staying at home reading Charles Simic's poetry. Lester keeps calling, and we talk, but he's super busy at work right now. Anna even called once, but I didn't answer. Lester came over a few days ago.

"Dude, I have an idea for a collaboration project we should do together."

"What kind of collaboration?" I asked.

"Writing. For McSweeneys Internet Tendency. I have this idea where we write two letters-to-the-editor. One is an extremely formal account of how we believe Dave Eggers was born in the wrong time and place and should have been born around us because he would be the perfect third musketeer of our duo. We will explain how his and our true genius and wit have not budded into complete fruition yet. That it is impossible to flourish without the other and that something has seriously thrown the universe off balance by us not having grown up together. The second letter will be about the exact same thing, except stripped of its formality and clearly revealing the unhealthy and crazed obsession of the two fan writers who desperately believe they are as cool and talented and as Dave Eggers."

So, of course I smiled then because it is a truly brilliant idea, but the more I think about the project the more I realize I don't want to do it. But I know Lester is only trying to look out for me. I am aware I have pretty much just summed up what Lester wants us to do in this post, but I'm hoping to build up to the more creative juices and do this thing.

Then afterwards I can do what I have been preparing to do with all that walking with all the books in my hiker's backpack.