Monday, December 31, 2007

Honesty time?

I think I am the only person I know who has written about suicide on their birthday. Why? I don't know. Some people wondered about it, or asked "hey, are you ok?" Yes, thank you. I wasn't the one trying to kill myself; that was just a character. No one says, oh, you wrote about a plane crash, did your plane crash? Or, are you worried about a plan crash. No, I'm not.

Actually, some of the stuff I write on here is made up. For example, I never wore a blue thong to work, I never got slipped a roofie, I never got caught with a fingernail in my mouth by my boss, and I never saw a guy get arrested and keep repeating "I'm gonna die." I'm sorry, is that kind of a betrayal? Do you feel like you can't trust me now?

Why? Why does it matter if any of this stuff happened or didn't happen? It could have, right? And most of y'all don't know who I am anyway, so what's the big diff?

I could be wrong about this. If I am, let me know, and I won't make up stories any more.

In the meantime, here are ten genuinely true things about me:

1. The story about my profile picture is 100% true.
2. I am eating a cold, four-day old gyro right now, and the sauce is sort of congealedish.
3. My sister is in Costa Rica singing at a wedding, and she is going to miss my family's New Year's Eve Party for the first time ever.
4. I am 6'6", can dunk a basketball with two hands with no running start, and can throw a baseball 90 mph.
5. I have not won a writing contest since junior year of high school.
6. Pizza is far and away my favorite food, but Christmas breakfast is my favorite meal of the year.
7. I can drink a lot, and I drink too much.
8. I did badly on APs but well on SATs and ACTs.
9. I almost failed out of college. Sort of.
10. My favorite color is red. I am not afraid of blood, but I really don't like watching knee injuries even though I have never injured my knee.

OK, Happy New Year, y'all. Find some mistletoe and have a ball.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I know what to write.

Roy Smith sat with his fingers on the keyboard, trying to figure out the least awkward way to introduce his main character’s name. This writing thing wasn’t as easy as he had figured it to be, thought Roy. He removed his fingers from the keyboard and turned his palms toward his face to stretch his wrists. They were sore. Sore from being turned down, waiting on the keyboard for some instruction from his brain, and also sore from the long wounds running “up the river,” as they say.

Unfortunately, no instructions were forthcoming from his brain. The faucet of Roy’s inspiration hadn’t flowed full-strength for a while now. Instead, he thought of it like the faucet in a volcano movie, when the cool-under-pressure hot guy turns the tap and brown water comes sputtering and coughing out. And it smells like rotten eggs.

That’s what it had been for Roy for a while now. His inspiration, or motivation, or call it the wellspring of his spirit for life, whatever, had been choking out dark discharge that smelled. And Roy knew he had to get out of town before the volcano blew, before he was melted alive by a flow of molten rock or choked under the gradual weight of billions of tons of ash.

Although, in a way, he was already too late; the volcano had already blown, the eruption already destructive. He touched the bandage over his left wrist. It felt like he was just beginning to scab. It’s remarkable how fast we can heal, Roy thought. And it gave him gray hope.

He hadn’t been taken, hadn’t been destroyed, in the eruption. But it had been close. And Roy knew that as long as he stayed, another eruption was always waiting, trembling to explode, right inside himself. And Roy knew that he would not survive the next explosion, if it came. He would make sure of it.

Roy Smith sat. He looked out the window. There were no answers in the tree outside. There were no answers anywhere, as far as he could see. It was springtime. There were no flowers, but the leaves on the trees were the light, clear green that reminded him of daisies, he didn’t know why. Spring was just spring, as far as Roy had ever known, and he could feel the fresh grass, the flowers and the rain, the bright sunshine and soft, damp earth all at once. He smiled at the thought of suicide in the spring. Who would think of such a thing? Then he thought about himself, Roy Smith, committing suicide, and the thought made him laugh out loud. It was something he could never have seen coming. Never. Things could never get so bad, never so dark, so painful, that you would be better off to off yourself.

That wasn’t it, of course, and Roy knew it. The laugh was gone, and he rolled his eyes. Suicide was not a logical choice. Roy hadn’t reasoned himself to it, like he was reasoning now. It had just been the end for the course he was on, and he had no power to choose or reject it. It had been inevitable; it had just happened.

Except, of course, it hasn’t, Roy thought. Because I am not dead. And I’m not going to die. I’m going to leave.

The suicide note, which he had whipped up easily, seemed so vulgar to him now. He didn’t mind the juvenile, angsty feel to it, or the fact that it had been so easy to write. He just didn’t like how crude it sounded, how base, like the first time you heard about Elvis dying on the toilet or Marilyn Monroe dying from an enema. It wasn’t horrifying, it was just vaguely gross.

The whole idea of a note was unattractive at this point, which is why Roy had decided on a story. A story was really more like the way he thought about his life anyway. Notes, notes written “from me to you” seemed at once too direct and not direct enough. You could say something in a story that would be an insult in a note; but a vagueness in a note would be expressive in a story. A note carries more offense than a story and less meaning.

Roy didn’t really understand his reasoning, but it felt right, and when the world is tumbling down in heaps and shards, you hold onto things that feel right. The only problem was that he didn’t know what the story should say, or how any story he wrote could explain to a reader what he, Roy, was planning to do.

He had wrestled with the possibility that this idea, this half-plan of his, didn’t even make any sense for more than an hour now, and still the screen sat blank, the cursor blinking at him. The cursor blinked, and seemed to Roy both impatient and patient. It would wait for as long as he wanted, it would bear with him forever if need be. But while it was waiting, it would tap its foot. Kind of like a parent.

The main character was going to be at the train station, Roy knew, waiting with the sun in his eyes and a one-way ticket in his hand. And the story wouldn’t say which way the character was going, or how far. He might be heading into town or out of town; he might be on his way to Fairfax or Jackson Ferry or California or Maine.

But Roy couldn’t even think of his name. He picked his hands up, looked at the palms again, and pressed the butts into each other. The straight razor had been much easier to use than the keyboard. It sat to the Roy’s right on the table, sparkling clean. He had scrubbed it clean in embarrassed fear last night while he bled into towels tied tight around his forearms. Roy bet most people didn’t know how hard it was to tie a towel around your own wrist.

A bird darted past the window, very close, a glimpse of red and gray. It made Roy want to go outside. And right then, he knew what would be in his story, and how he would introduce the main character. And how, in spite of everything, he really wanted everyone to know that it was all right, that he had escaped the volcano, that springtime in the American Midwest is a beautiful thing. In ten minutes, Roy would be gone. He knew what to write.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

God bless us, every one.

Santa, I'm not sure if you read this, but I want a pony. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

There's a reason for the things your parents tell you, besides that they hate fun

Your mom always told you not to bite your nails, but she never told you why. It's a little gross, you figured, putting your fingers into your mouth, but it's nowhere near as gross as sticking your finger in your ear or digging it into your nose. In fact, I can think of at least seven locations on or in the average human body that are more disgusting places to put your finger than your mouth.

Some people, my brother among them, bite their nails too aggressively, or bite them nervously, and end up with ingrown and malfeasant nubbins on the end of their fingers, but I never fell into this camp. I just trimmed my nails to the appropriate length with my teeth. So the cosmetics were not the problem.

I couldn't think of any problem with it, really. My mom had never told me what the problem with it was. I loved biting my nails. Today, I had an epiphany. Today I realized with nauseating profundity the reason why you shouldn't bite your nails. Are you ready for it?

Let me set the scene for you. I'm sitting at my desk, pretty content. I had just gotten my paycheck. I had just finished a festive Happy Holidays chocolate swirl peppermint candy cane, a gift from a co-worker. Unfortunately, that selfsame candy cane had gotten me in a chewy mood. And by that I mean neither that I felt like a plush dog toy nor that I was the wookie first mate of the Millenium Falcon. More like I felt like biting. Not biting like "biting it," falling down. And not like "sucks," or "blows," as in "Ben Gordon bites at defense." Like actually using my mandibles.

So I looked at my nails, found one whose protracting tip had overstayed its welcome, and started nibbling. OK, it sounds more gross now I'm writing it than it did at the time. It wasn't that bad. I started at the right edge, and slowly began working my way across. I trim my fingernails evenly, keeping one long strand intact. And I was just a little more than halfway through the middle finger of my right hand (with probably about 8 more seconds of standard-pace-biteage to go when I heard a noise behind me.

I turned, and oh hello, there's my boss, and with him an important associate visiting the office, ready for introductions. My finger is in my mouth. My boss's cheerful greeting is gurgling to a grinding halt in his. My choices are (1) to remove my finger as is, with a string of attached nail dangling wetly across my fingertip, (2) to make a desperate yank to remove the nail, risking a grievous tear of the cuticle which could yield blood, chaos and crying, or (3) continue the biting and finish the job.

I persevere, accelerating the pace and finish with a flourish. I am about to spit the fingernail out, but think better of it at the last minute, and whisk it off my lip back into my mouth like a frog with a fly. I stand, nod. You could have cut the awkwardness with a knife. In fact, I wish I had. I wish I had eviscerated that damned awkwardness.

The guy offers me his hand! It seems like a reflex, as he automatically responds to being introduced by extending the gesture. Immediately, he tenses. I can tell he realizes his mistake and regrets his decision. But he is polite, and resolute to accept the fate he has prepared for himself. The hand stays out. I think about wiping my finger on my pants, but instead opt for the "pretend everything is normal and forge ahead" approach. I shake his hand. My finger may or may not be a little damp. Actually, no, that's a lie. It's definitely damp.

It is some twenty minutes after the episode that the real, epic awkwardness of the whole affair sinks in to me. It makes me want to giggle and cry at the same time. But I can't do that at work. What can I do at work? That's right. Pick my teeth with staples.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I invented a meme that allows you to humiliate yourself a little bit

ok, so Tiff just posted a poem she wrote a long time ago, and it struck me as a memeworthy idea. So, here are the rules:

1. Find a poem (or two, if you're ambitious) that you wrote in high school. If you can't find a poem, find a piece of prose. If you can't find a piece of prose, find a history paper or something.

2. Post it!

3. Tag three people to do the same.

And away we go...


When the sun has gone down and the moon takes its place,
And the revelers rise to give darkness new grace,
When the harshness of sunlight has softened to night,
And all beauty increases, by softness of sight,
Then the friends are more friendly, and enemies too,
Which is more than the unreserved drinking can do,
For there's magic about, and it's all through the air,
And as long as you're with me, I long to be there.

And I tag Asiankp, Crystal, and Lil. If any of you can't stand memes and hate them and never want to hear their name again, I'm sorry. But come on, get over it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Oscar Wilde to the rescue!

I am glad, so glad, that enough writers on blogs I read decided to post those pre-Christmas-melancholy bits. I was about to do it myself before I was heaped with a pile of other people's. (Plus, mine was going to have the added bonus of my unrequited love of a movie character-- honestly, Eva Green's character in Casino Royale, how could you not love her?
I seriously swore at the screen when Bond said he loved her because I knew, right then, that she would have to die. And that got to me. Can you blame me?

But anyway, I read a few other people's weepings and it totally removed my desire to write my own. Don't get me wrong- they were well-written and I appreciate them for what they are. But

[coming back two hours later] There is no way to say what I mean without entering the mood I don't want to enter. But this is what Oscar Wilde had to say: "There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathise with the colour, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life's sores the better."

And while we're on Oscar Wilde quotes, here are a few of my favorites:

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

"Seriousness is the last refuge of the shallow."

"The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain."

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

"Woman begins by resisting a man's advances and ends by blocking his retreat."

The point is, whenever you feel dangerously serious, find some Oscar Wilde and innoculate yourself.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I didn't feel like having breakfast, so I got drunk instead

Last night, my sister said, "seriously, AA. You should check it out." I said,"...". Well, I don't remember what I said, but I was sorta drunk at the time, so maybe you should give me a break.

This morning, I woke up feeling very, very Monday. So I started drinking (I mean REALLY Monday), read about Lancelot and Guenever, shaved, and thought about how every guy wants to fall in love with a girl named Jenny.

In Mass on Sunday, I determined that the chief criterion I will employ to find my wife will be whether I can have the following conversation with her:
Me: "Your nose sure is big. I don't want to pass that on to our kids."
Her: "I guess we should adopt."
Me: "I love you."
Her: "OK."
I don't know why this enchants me so much, or why my wife has to have a big nose. But I really liked Cyrano de Bergerac, and Pinocchio's not bad either.

I am, I discovered, the top organic result for a Google search "scorched chowder." I wonder what that person was looking for, and I hope they didn't find it.

Speaking of unnecessary assholism, my cousin told a story on Friday about a former co-worker of his at Starbucks who made up directions to a pet store for a lost lady. When the guy got fired a month later for poor performance, my cousin had to stop him at the door, since the guy was carrying about thirty pounds of coffee. "What are you doing with that?" The guy shrugs. "Ehh, I was trying to steal it." He puts it down, walks out.

I made a paper airplane out of my "Time Worked Request for Payroll" sheet.

And now here's a quiz for you. I debated the title in my head for a while, whether to call it "10 questions that say nothing about you because you taught them not to talk back" or "The quiz that needs more choices" or "Buttrape is a funny word" but I decided on:

The 10 Question Quiz
that just needs an answer

1. The most common mistake parents make in raising their children is
a. giving them too much credit.
b. not giving them enough credit.

2. Celebrities
a. should be effusive and professional.
b. realize that the public spotlight can be used for good.
c. shouldn't affect ordinary people.
d. automatically suck, which is unfortunate, because I want to be a celebrity.

3. I like things to happen
a. gradually
b. suddenly

4. Yearbooks exist because
a. people who are inappropriately proud of their signatures need to sign them.
b. memories are worth holding onto, if only to cry over.
c. no one wants to forget that one dork's eminently punchable face.

5. Hitler chose a cross to represent the Third Reich because
a. he was raised a Catholic in Sweden.
b. Christians hate Jews, just like Hitler.
c. it was a masochistic guilt-trip.

6. In the southern hemisphere
a. the water spins counter-clockwise when you flush the toilet.
b. Christmas is in the summer.
c. the phrase "penal colony" gives people existential etymological questions.
d. I don't want to live
e. Michael Jackson once ate 21 frozen burritos.
f. hemisphere is a neat word.

7. Coffee
a. is dangerously caffeinated (4x coke).
b. helps me go to sleep.
c. was the 8th dwarf- Sneezy's younger brother.

8. Force is
a. unfortunate.
b. necessary.
c. Ben Kenobi
d. His name is Obi Wan, idiot.
e. ok, relax, you nerd.

9. Destiny
a. is what people believe in if their last name ends in "-opoulus."
b. exists.
c. was the name of a stripper I met once.
d. I thought you cared.

10. God is
a. complicated.
b. simple.

For the record, my mom thought the quiz was my way of telling her I was suicidal (I don't think she understood question 6), and the only answer she circled was that force was "necessary."

Final notes: the good thing about getting to work at 10:45 is that it's already 1:00. The noun of the day that people incorrectly use as a verb is: leverage. Also in the running were impact, reference, and upkeep.