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11/01 Direct Link
I've decided that if a person comes up with one original insight in a lifetime, that person is one insight up on almost everyone else.

That's why I've given myself permission to write about sandwiches and bad haircuts this month. If I can't overcome the banality of my everyday life by conjuring up thirty 100-word insights, does it mean I don't have anything worth saying? Anyway, isn't it worse and ultimately much more banal to try to be insightful, or to merely re-package someone else's insights?

(This is how I pump myself up for a month of writing.)

11/02 Direct Link
I noticed my toothbrush this morning. I realized that a toothbrush is not just a boring, mass-produced product. A toothbrush is neat.

I like the way it cleans and polishes my teeth, and I like the way the bristles are bunched together. I really like the sound it makes when I use it. (*chee-choo-chee-choo*) Hey, smell how minty my breath is now. Hey, c'mere, hey. (*haaaaa*) Minty, right? And do you like how my toothbrush has this sporty green stripe? Want to try it?

Is banality a problem? Is this really something we need to overcome?

11/03 Direct Link
Whenever I get a good or a thought-provoking idea, I write it down on a sheet of paper, making sure to leave some space at the bottom. I take the sheet to the public library to make 100 copies, and then I give them to friends, attach them to telephone poles, and hand them out at the community center.

The idea is to establish a "dialogue," with people responding to what I've written in the space below and mailing them back to me, but so far I've only received advertisements for counterfeit Russian drugs. I'm just trying to connect.

11/04 Direct Link
LACK OF POP CULTURE KNOWLEDGE CREATES HUMOROUS MISUNDERSTANDING

The SD Mystery Agency was only a week old, and already we'd had three calls from crackpots. "My great-grandmother... I can feel her presence," and "Our attic is haunted, can you check it out?" and so on.

We've very clearly printed our company motto here on the side of our Mystery Van: "We reject the supernatural," and to drive the point home, I've personally painted a little white ghost inside of a red circle with a line through it. We rationally solve mysteries, we don't "burst" ghosts, whatever that even means.

11/05 Direct Link
I was thinking about different types of validation, and I wished I had a magic stamp (like for parking validation) that could make people feel acknowledged and valued.

OR... what if I just figured out what takes away those feelings from people in the first place? Which are the forces in society that tear people down? How can I counteract them? Do I start by studying sociology or psychology, or...? This is hard and I give up, and I feel bad about myself now and I just want someone to come over here and cover me in magical validation stamps.

11/06 Direct Link
Your Mom is taking you to the mall to buy socks on a Wednesday night. You keep looking over your shoulder as you get out of the car. Some of the girls in your class have high school boyfriends who can drive, and you're headed straight for their favorite hangout.

In the sock aisle, your Mom says in a clear strong voice, "You know, your underwear have seen better days -- let's take a look." You bury your head in your jacket, and she makes sure to say "underwear" several more times to make sure everyone in the store has heard.

11/07 Direct Link
This guy we know has started saying 'doge' a lot.

Like, if he sees somebody go by on a skateboard while drinking a beer, he'll say, "Wow -- so doge." We have no idea what it means and we assume he picked it up from an older boy, but it really annoys us because our group prizes authenticity.

At the same time, we recognize that societies have to pick up new slang at some point, or we'd all still be saying "By the beard of the goat!" when we see something cool, and I don't think anyone is calling for that.

11/08 Direct Link
I don't care at all about "status." I've evolved beyond all that.

I guess that's convenient, right, because I'm absolutely never going to have a job that's going to carry any status with anyone at all. (Although I don't care about status, like anyone, I'm aware of the cachet certain careers bring.)

Other people? They care. They care a lot, and that's why I won't join up with any of those computer networks that let people from high school find you. I'd be ashamed to have them find out what became of me because those poor benighted bastards would care.

11/09 Direct Link
*rang rang*

"Mff. Hello"

"Oh, hey, it's, uh... Susan."

"Zuzhan, yuff. (*smak smak*)"

"I'm really sorry, did I wake you up?"

"Yuff, Zuzhan... ... ... hallo? (*Muuuuuh!*) I didn't know you had my number."

"Oh, yeah, Ian gave it to me. Why don't I call you back some other time? I was just going to, um, ask you something."

"No, no go ahead. Anyway, I'm never more pleasant to deal with than when I'm half asleep. You could, like... ask me for six of my teeth and I'd probably give them to you."

"Six... teeth? Yeah, well, I was just wondering if..."

11/10 Direct Link
We frequently hear in the science news that we're one step closer to creating a material that can bend light around itself and make objects invisible. I would get one of those when they're ready, but for now I have a closet full of blue shirts and khaki pants. It's a ubiquitous outfit for people who are just barely making an effort to make themselves presentable, and it allows you to blend in on city streets.

People who like to make a 'statement' with fashion should be advised: this outfit boldly states "Hello, I am here to fix the printer."

11/11 Direct Link
The devil appeared before my bed this cold November morning,
"It's time!" he said, "Wake up for work! This is a friendly warning!"
He bowed politely, a pointy beard his hellish provenance proves
(along with fuzzy red goat legs and shiny cloven hooves)

"I have for you two options, friend," he said -- my eyes started to close,
"Sit up a bit," he said, "Attend! And hear what I propose:


[This is a comic song about difficulty in waking up in the morning. The second part, in which we may expect to hear the devil's offer, will appear in tomorrow's entry.]

11/12 Direct Link
"A) power in every earthly realm, whatever you desire--
All men will bend their knees to you and say 'Good morning, sire';
And riches too: gold bars, and diamonds big as artichokes;
A dark-eyed love to rule with you and laugh at your bad jokes.

"B) One hour more of golden slumber, peaceful and serene,
But you'll awake without the wealth, the kingdom, or the queen."

I closed my eyes, I cast him out, I said "I've made my choice!"
He laughed and said "So be it!" in his deep unearthly voice.


[How are you enjoying it so far?]

11/13 Direct Link
I had assumed he'd turn back time -- it's well within his power --
The subtil serpent merely let me over-sleep an hour.

Let mortal persons learn it well, the devil is a jerk,
And that is my excuse for why I've shown up late for work.


----------

Forgive me for splitting up what should really be one entry into three, which I realize is against all laws of God and man. I originally thought it might have fit into 100 words if I tweaked it a bit.

If you try this excuse at work, let us know how it works out.

11/14 Direct Link
Motivated by beer, I hurt my vocal cords trying to sing along with the chorus to What a Fool Believes by the Doobie Brothers.

There have been times in the past when I would go days and days without speaking to another human being, but since coming to Albany I have been using my voice more. Teaching is a part of my job, and I have more to say to everyone. I need my voice now. At the same time, I refuse to stop singing along with music that is out of my vocal range. Life is weird and difficult.

11/15 Direct Link
Another song popped into my head while I was in the shower. In it, some friends and I decide to summon the ghost of Theodore Roosevelt to rescue a failed party. It's much funnier than that one about the devil, but I'm not going to write it out here because there are about seven verses. Okay, here is one:

"You're soft!" he shouted loud enough to beat the band
as he struck Johnson's stomach with the back of his hand,
and in a display of ghostly-presidential power,
he made us all do calisthenics for three quarters of an hour.

11/16 Direct Link
People like to knock alcohol, but for something that can temporarily make you feel somewhat happy and good about yourself, I find that it can't be beat.

Somewhere in the first few chapters of Moby Dick, Ishmael observes that some people have a drink not to make themselves happier than they deserve to be, but to bring themselves up to what they consider the average level of human happiness.

Thanks to alcohol, I feel as if, for a while, I get to experience the increased self-regard and decreased anxiety that most people take for granted. Don't begrudge me that.

11/17 Direct Link
These days I'm walking around Albany consciously trying to remember the details of every building and person I pass. I'm trying to take photos with my memory, even though I know three years from now the only thing I'll remember about Albany is having Julia's head in my lap on the plaza because she was reacting badly to a lunchtime margarita. I'll remember the homeless guy who shook my hand and wouldn't let go of my thumb who said, "I was in the war, I'm tired of killing people, can I have a dollar?" You can't decide what you remember.

11/18 Direct Link
I don't really have to leave Albany. My new job is about a 1.5 hour drive west of here. I've gotten used to walking to work, though, so I'm moving.

I've lived here for seven years, and I am experiencing pre-move agitation.

Albany is really nothing special, but I've come to consider it home. There's a Thai restaurant right across from my apartment, and two falafel restaurants down the street. There are other things to do here too, apparently.

I have fifteen empty cardboard boxes in the middle of the floor. For now I'm just looking at them.

11/19 Direct Link
Last night while running I found that with each step I went higher and floated longer than usual. As an experiment, I decided to jump, land on both feet, and press off hard from the ground. I saw the sidewalk shrinking beneath me, then the tops of the trees, then the power lines and clouds. It was seriously scary. "This sucks," I thought. "I used to be able to do this, but I'm going to die when I hit the ground. I'd better wake up."

I shivered and pulled the blankets up around me, relieved that I wasn't really flying.

11/20 Direct Link
You just can't tell the whole world to fuck off. It isn't done. I should make a list of ways to tell the world to fuck off. Item one is to go live in the woods and shoot anyone who approaches your dilapidated cabin. That is the number one way to do it. Everything else is posing. "Oh, look at me, I'm wearing black and I got my nose pierced in five places," ha-ha-ha, you are at the bottom of the list, kid.

[I found this behind my desk, scribbled on the back of an old phone bill.]

11/21 Direct Link
A fully-grown house centipede has what the Internet calls an "alarming appearance." (This is not the cuddly thing you find under a rock outside. This is Scutigera coleoptrata, and for goodness' sake, don't Google it if you've never seen one.)

They're unbelievably fast, they're creepy as hell, and they can sting you. When I'm in the right frame of mind I can appreciate them as amazing creatures, but when I'm moving a box and one of them darts out at me, I can only shout and fall over backwards. I can only imagine what impression I made on him.

11/22 Direct Link
The human body has too many moving parts, specialized organs, fluids, and breakable, snappable structures.

That's why I'm going to upload my consciousness into one of those extra-tough playground balls. When you're over there getting a stomachache or stubbing your toe, I'll be rolling around like "doo-dee-doo, check me out, I'm a ball," and you'll all be wicked jealous. I would absolutely never stop talking about the benefits of being a sphere.

And when that ball gets kicked out to sea,
Look out your submarine and there I'll be.
I hope I choke a shark.

(not really)

11/23 Direct Link
On the back of a Price Chopper receipt: "You don't have to be a pieman to encourage a pieman." What did that mean? At some point, several years ago, I found that worthy of a note -- did I expect to get a whole 100 words out of it? Finding weird [non-centipede] things behind furniture may be the only fun part about moving.

All of the non-fun part is simply a resistance to change. They made us read Who Moved My Cheese? in school, so I should be fine with completely altering every single part of my comfortable routine.

11/24 Direct Link
When Julia used to come over, I always gave her coffee out of the Cheshire Cat mug. It was dumb, but I decided that was Julia's mug, and only she was allowed to use it.

Not long after I last spoke to her, the mug fell on the floor and shattered. (She would have said it wasn't an accident.)

For some reason, I still had the box it came in, and I threw it away today. Since I ignored her repeated attempts to get in touch with me, I've lost the right to say goodbye and tell her I'm leaving.

11/25 Direct Link
I'm getting a lot of hugs at work lately. People who used to just nod at me before talking about workplace issues now give hugs. It's acceptable for them to express affection only because they think they'll never see me again.

We should all hug our co-workers all the time. We probably spend more time with them than we spend with our families, and most people suffer from a hug deficit. Yes, we should even hug Gary. Nobody would ever get anything done for all the hugging, but isn't decreased productivity worth the price of living in Hug World?

11/26 Direct Link
It's disappointing when you find that somewhere in the world, someone shares your first and last name.

"Fine," you think, "I'm not the only one, so let's find out more about them by looking at what they've written online. Maybe they're cool. Maybe we can get together and have a convention."

One of them is in a jam band, one of them claims to be "awesome" at word processing, and the other brags about his ability to fart.

"We shouldn't get together," you think, "I should sue them for damaging the brand I've built up over the last few decades."

11/27 Direct Link
I should stop reading about anything psychological online, because I know I'll just end up diagnosing myself with everything. (I just read about "impostor syndrome.")

When I was a kid, I had a genuine suspicion that my Dad was bribing my teachers for good grades. I imagined that's what happened at parent-teacher conferences. There's no way my owl painting or my essay on John Adams earned an 'A'. My Dad was handing over large bags of cash on a regular basis to secure my future.

"That's why we live in a small house," I reasoned.

I still wonder sometimes...

11/28 Direct Link
Based on what I've cobbled together from documentaries, there are societies cut off from the "outside world," and sometimes we "discover" them.

People from these societies sometimes come to visit our cities, and what they generally say is not "Wow, antibiotics!" or "Hey, you invented Internet, well done!" no, they say "Why is life here so empty and sad?" and they rush back to be with their very extended family every minute of the day, because that's what they miss when they're here. If the narrator is sensitive, he dances around the word 'primitive' but he doesn't actually say it.

11/29 Direct Link
This is my last day in Albany, and I have to write two entries now because I don't know when I'll get access to the Internet again so I guess it will either be one word over and over again or else a stream of consciousness, which is, despite what some people think, never interesting to anyone on earth, since it's just like shopping-list feed-the-cat type stuff so maybe one word over and over would be actually be better, because there you're actually choosing one word for its meaning and sound, and which one do you choose?

11/30 Direct Link
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