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I have constructed a narrative in which I am the good guy and the victim.
I repeat it to myself as one applies balm to a wound, embellishing as I go. It is now the official version of events, and my most sacred rule is never to question the narrative.
But, like all constructs, it is imperfect. A plot hole here, a barefaced lie there, and with a careless analytical or sober inspection the whole of my reality threatens to collapse.
It is necessary, therefore, to practice the skills needed to tell it convincingly. That is why I am here.
(I am on the board of directors of The Society for Taking Food Away from People, one of the many misanthropical organizations with its headquarters here in Albany.)
I am pleased to report that last month our members stole or ruined thirty-seven meals. (
On Valentine's Day our esteemed Mister Davis, already legendary in the annals of the Society, entered McGuires's, carried off eight servings of salmon croquettes, and fed them to stray dogs. (
(Friends, we'll use your donation to continue stealing food from hungry people.
They're a bunch of monsters and you know they deserve it.
When I see a cat walking down the sidewalk I turn into a five-year-old child. I will whistle and wave and shout "
kit-TEE kit-TEE kit-TEE
" to get the cat's attention. Cat. Cat. You must acknowledge me. Cat.
, the cat looked at me. Now I can go to work.
It's worth pointing out that actual five-year-old children are embarrassed for me when they see this behavior, and are pulled to the other side of the street by their terrified mothers. Sadly, nobody is charmed by the childlike wonder of a lonely man chasing cats around town.
I played hooky from work today!
Actually, I had to go to the cardiologist because I thought I was dying. Today I was a poor soft-bodied mortal creature clinging to life, and it was still more fun than my job.
A very nice woman rubbed goo on me and put something on my chest.
"Look at that!" she said. "You have a beautiful heart!"
She showed it to me on a screen, beating. It was beautiful. I loved her so much right then, I thought maybe my heart had mended.
"You're fine," she said. "Stop drinking so much coffee."
When the end comes, I may be held accountable for my actions.
See, there may be a God after all, and he may call me before him to answer for my misdeeds. I'm not so worried about misdeeds, actually, I haven't committed too many of those. But he may call me to account for the things I
"I placed you on Earth, a
garden of pleasure
, and you spent most of your time moping around being unhappy. I call that monstrous ingratitude."
"Well..." I'd start, but God would say,
because that's the kind of thing God says.
THIS KALI-YUGA HAS 432,000 YEARS
I think maybe the world has run out of novelty, and the future we face is not especially appealing.
I keep stringing the same words together and eating the same cabbages and breathing the same air.
You don't have to be a genius to recognize a cycle when you see one, and cycles have cycles, and I hope you are having fun.
I want to find something good and new in my lifetime. That's all I want. Maybe a new color, or a truly unselfish act. Maybe a really good bowl of noodles.
I realize our civilization has collapsed and it's pointless to get upset about minor things like this, but today I heard award-winning journalist Guy Raz say, "...and the name of this song is
[name of song]."
Yes, that is literally the name of the song. The sun is literally bright, too.
Children are ganging up to prey on the weak and our cherished social institutions are derelict and impotent. If we don't want to descend into outright barbarism, maybe language is as good a place as any to start rebuilding. Pitch in and
stop misusing that fucking word.
I am sorry, friends. Let me just apologize for this whole month so far.
My misanthropy seems to increase as the weather gets warmer. This is because more people are outdoors, and I have to see them mistreating each other.
Today I saw a 500-pound guy hit his kid for jumping. He screamed at her and hit her because she was
, and he told her that if he caught her jumping again he would give her even more to cry about. I really wanted to shoot him.
People like this seem to stay indoors when it's cold outside.
Do I have the legal authority to take jumping children into my custody? I am a skinny fellow who can barely open a jar of pickles, let alone beat up a 500-pound gorilla for mistreating his children.
He gave her a brief hit, of the sort that I received from time to time as a child. Is it my place to go around giving parenting lessons? Is public jumping really right and proper, anyway?
I keep thinking:
she was not in danger
I keep thinking:
I should have been willing to take a mauling to help that poor kid
Sometimes when I was a kid I had nothing better to do than to sit on the living room rug and watch TV with my Mom.
She really liked
, which I considered the most bullshit show ever, since it seemed mostly to concern angsty suburban couples arguing about the grocery budget. Didn't we get enough of that at home?
is now available on Netflix. Should I watch it for some sort of weird childhood nostalgia?
is also available, with its message that Ally Sheedy (
!) is into dudes who like computers. Fantasy trumps reality yet again.
from Albany, NY
* Big Dog (a big stupid dog)
* Medium Dog (a medium stupid dog)
* Tiny Dog, a.k.a. "Chloe" (a furious insane half-blind stupid dog)
* Tiny Dog's Owner
SETTING: Outside my bedroom window.
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!
ARF ARF! YIP! ARRRRF ARF ARF!
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!
Hey, Chloe, baby, come inside.
YIP! YIP-YOWWWW~~! YIP YIP YIP YIP!
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!
YOW YOW YOW YOW! YIP YIP
[The performance is repeated ten times daily]
I saw her in Hannaford tonight. I haven't contacted her since August, although she's written to me several times since then.
She raised an eyebrow and shook her red hair and turned towards the frozen food section. I didn't go over to say hello.
I was thinking about her
years ago when I started writing here (which is
I've been unfair to her, and my subconscious has been torturing me for it by sending me dreams about her
I don't know if it will make my heart explode or not, but I need a drink.
By the time we got to the beach we had already been talking in the car for several hours, so we just walked along the shore quietly. We were both tired.
I started to think about pharmaceutical advertisements in which laughing couples are jogging on the beach, or splashing each other, or participating in pickup volleyball games.
I was having a nice enough time, but I started to worry about whether Julia was getting the real "beach experience" she was looking for when she suggested we come here. She reads lots of magazines and sees those advertisements
all the time
I looked at her face to gauge how much she was enjoying herself. She turned her head and gave me a weak, tired smile. Obviously, I had to act fast.
I scanned the horizon for a volleyball game.
. I didn't have enough energy to pick her up and run around with her on my shoulders, so I did the only thing I could do:
I took her hand and started to pull her towards the water. She resisted.
"Look, I love you," she said, "but if you throw me in the water I will actually murder you right here."
"Listen, my little crab-cake," I said, pulling her near. "I want to subvert traditional forms of beach behavior.
"Don't you feel the tremendous, terrible pressure to behave like people in those advertisements? It's like the urge you got to do online banking on your laptop when you were in the coffee shop the other day, remember? Don't you find that distressing? Don't you want to be
She pushed me into the sea. "God, you're weird," she said, laughing. "Get up and help me find some seashells."
I gasped for air. Seashells, yes; Julia is a genius.
Julia had suggested we collect seashells because she knew it would distract me from worrying about
. Like I said, she's a genius. Actually, I enjoyed myself so much I didn't even think to bring up the commodification of nature or whether we were exploiting the mollusks by taking their exquisite shells.
When we had collected a really perfect handful, we lay on the sand and watched the sun go down. When it was dark, the rhythm of the warm, gentle waves almost lulled us to sleep.
"Ugh, I've got sand
," said Julia. "Let's go back to the car."
We stopped at a red light about a mile from the hotel. Because I am a smooth operator, I put my hand on Julia's leg. A second later she started screaming.
"Oh, God! Get it off!"
I began to mutter the standard apologies.
"BWAAAAA, GET IT OFF ME," she screamed, clutching at something on her back.
Slowly realizing her screaming had nothing to do with
, I began to investigate.
Something was definitely moving under her shirt. When I finally was able to get through her flailing limbs, I reached up, grabbed it, and pulled out a tiny pink crab.
The dazed crab stood in the palm of my hand.
"Look at him, he's just a baby," I said. "Let's go back and drop him off at the beach."
"We won't be able to find the exact spot where we were sitting," said Julia. "If we leave him in the wrong place he won't be able to find his family. His mother's probably looking for him. Ooooh,
, he's waving his claws around now; he's a vicious little man. Let's name him Timothy."
What could I say to that? We took him back to our hotel room for the night.
When I got out of the shower, Julia was standing over the coffee machine. She had cut a carrot into tiny cubes and was trying to steam them.
"Do you think crabs like carrots?" she asked.
When the carrots had softened, she brought them over to Timothy, who had spent the night in our sink.
In an attempt at interspecies communication, Julia twisted her hands to make them look like claws and gestured towards the carrots, indicating that Timothy should try them. She performed an elaborate crab dance.
"Julia," I said, "you are the best person I have ever met."
I spent most of the next day trying to get a marine conservation officer on the phone. The one I spoke to was not sympathetic to Timothy's plight.
"No, I understand that we're allowed to do whatever we want with him; I'm telling you we don't want to
of this crab. We want him to realize his full potential, see?"
"So, just take him back to the beach, sir."
"Well... we're afraid he'll get eaten by a bird or bullied by a bigger crab."
... I don't know what to tell you, sir, nature is dangerous."
Julia was crying.
"I think your steamed carrot cubes are delicious, but Timothy didn't seem to like them."
"I know," she said.
"I sort of thought he would turn around and wave goodbye to us, you know? I thought maybe before he scuttled into the sea we could have, you know, a '
' or something."
"He did pinch you on the ride over here," she pointed out.
"Well, I guess everything is all wrapped up here. Are you ready to go back to Albany? I think it's cold and raining there."
We drove into the sunset.
NINE DUMB QUESTIONS
What do you think about Timothy? Will he grow up to become a successful crab? Can you actually steam carrots in a hotel coffee maker? Has constant exposure to commercial media altered the way we perceive reality? If inter-gender communication seems impossible at times, is inter-species communication really attainable?
More to the point, aren't single 100-word entries more appropriate for "
capturing life on a daily basis
," and aren't they generally less tiresome to read and write? When you sit down at night, what if you write what feels like a part of something longer?
when the fire alarm sounds,
you will notice that everyone else does.
we are watching tv and reading about frogs on wikipedia
and we are too busy to get up because some dude
burned his toast
also, we have no energy
because are all a little bit depressed
and some of us are drunk.
we are young and hip and professional and well-read and well-dressed and well-fed.
we do not fear danger
we are not alarmed
and some of us are fireproof.
this is not a poem.
this is a fire safety lecture.
Counselor Troi is a smart,
woman, yet she consistently falls for every sleazy dickbag who beams along.
AM I RIGHT, LADIES?
You know what they say: you have to kiss a lot of Klingons before you...
The modern woman, I am well aware, has her career to think of, but that doesn't mean her personal life has to stay in the "neutral zone," ha ha... She has a Corbomite Maneuver or two up her sleeve, I am sure.
(It is time to abort this mission, I don't think Cosmopolitan will buy this article, no, not at all.)
I just touched my eye.
Probably there were about a million organisms on my finger, and now they are finding a dark, warm environment in my eye, and they will soon, by a process unknown to me, get into my bloodstream. Once there, it is only a matter of time before they start to drill into my cells and replicate (I saw a video of this once, it is pretty hard-core). This will result in my getting sick and watching cartoons on my couch, which is a long way of saying that I have nothing to write about tonight.
Duke Ellington rightly pointed out that where there is a piano, there is often a lovely girl standing at one end. This is not what originally attracted me to the instrument, but it is what kept me taking lessons when I reached adolescence.
Unfortunately, it turned out that when I sat down to play and totally sucked (because I spent most of my time playing Mega Man), the lovely girl was not impressed, and went off to date a football player.
I still enjoy playing in my apartment, just for myself, with headphones. I create hypnotic soundscapes of wrong notes.
Yes, I have too many hobbies, and I am terrible at all of them. Now I am "
" and basically useless to our society. Just throw me out of your hot air balloon, even if we are not approaching a mountain range, that's pretty much what I am saying.
I suppose the amount of time you spend wishing you could go back in time to correct your mistakes is proportional to how badly you've messed up your life. As you spend more time wishing for a time machine, you have less time available for making mistakes, so it works out.
ANOTHER VICTIM OF THE NEW ECONOMY
The first quarter of 2010 is over, and some of us are beginning our fiscal year. It is time for some accounting:
$0.55 - in sock drawer (emergency fund)
$44.00 - in pencil drawer (savings)
$25.00 - in wallet (expense account)
I don't have a calculator handy, but if I ignore my student loans and the money I owe to friends who have bought me beer, I am solidly in the black. I also need to ignore the fact that my rent is due in three days. I think "cooking the books" will become my new hobby.
periodic maintenance and review of the narrative
It's important to take any new setbacks you've experienced and incorporate them into the existing structure. There is always a way to shift the blame to another person or organization. If you are a romantic, attribute setbacks to the wrath of the Fates.
If your relationships are suffering, the narrative should reflect this in terms of how unreasonable others can be, and how magnanimous you are to maintain your ties to them.
Take your time with this. You need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror once in a while.
*i'd like to congratulate be
*i'd like to thank db for the ditty
*i'd like to wish jg good luck on her project and apologize for my preachy drunken e-mail of one month ago
*i'd like to tell rr that her new icon freaks me out. may i suggest "queen of england getting over a balustrade"
*i'd like to tell mg cg and others that i miss their words
*i'd like to say that people on this web site are all awesome and i look forward to the beginning of the month so i can stalk/read about them
on reaching the age of thirty-something
I do sort of feel that I have settled upon a sensible maturity now that I am slightly older. My emotions are tempered by a certain amount of experience, which tends to cool off my reactions to life's obnoxious events.
Now I am curious to see what will happen next. Not excited or enthusiastic, but curious. Curious in the way that you watch two trains speeding towards each other. It is an intensely morbid curiosity, actually.
(I meant for this to be mildly life-affirming, but it very quickly got away from me)
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