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As far as I can tell, Kurt Vonnegut made his comment about smoking cigarettes being a form of suicide in the late 60s, and in 1984 he decided it wasn't fast enough and attempted
What I'm wondering is whether in that period, did anyone ask him about his comment? Did anyone ask if he was okay, or whether he needed help? Or, instead, did they say, "Oh-ho, Vonnegut is at it again, what a classic," and then forget it? Was that his not-at-all disguised cry for help, and did it
if it was ignored?
I made a good thing once. I set it on a table when it was finished, and people who walked by said, "Hey, that's really good!" People asked me how I got the idea for the thing, and when I was going to make the next thing.
Now I keep the thing in a drawer, and I keep going back to it. Turning it over and over, trying to figure out what was good about it and how I can make another good thing.
It isn't even that good! It can't be -- I wasn't even
when I made it!
My bed is the softest and most comfortable place on earth. The fluffy green blanket is on top of it, which means it is also the warmest and the fluffiest. If you can get beneath the blanket and on top of the bed, you'll never want to go anywhere else.
Five times a week I am torn from this happy place by a hissing radio. It is physically painful, and it never gets easier.
Some people wake up in prison or a refugee tent or a homeless shelter. I have no right to complain. I don't deserve what I have.
I had a nice bottle of rye whiskey. (
) It isn't a policy of mine to never have more than one bottle in the house, it's just how it always seems to work out, logistically.
So I come across a supposedly lost photo in a box, and it really hits me in a sensitive area. I'm back on the chain gang and I could use three drinks, and there is
a drink left. I finish it, and I can only get more sober and unhappy from this point on, and I'm adrift between two shores in a fierce sea.
I'm Steamed Dumpling and I'm so DEF
Mixing metaphors like the Swedish CHEF
Am I on a chain gang or out at SEA?
I just wrote it, man, don't ask ME
That's what happens when you get SOPPY
Your writing will become SLOPPY
Check yourself before you write your ENTRY
Or your comments won't be so COMPLIMENTARY
I won't blame you if you FROWN
Now prepare to break it DOWN
(I won't make you read the rest of the breakdown, which is just five minutes of dumb animal noises.)
I bought two dozen pairs of socks today, and threw all of my old socks away. You could always see no fewer than four of my toes through the old socks, and I'd finally had enough.
I'm always looking for a chance to have a new start, but maybe it's just something really
that I need. A fresh sock-start, perhaps. Socks are sort of a...
of everything we ...
No. That didn't last very long. Sometimes I can get at least a day or two out of my "fresh starts," but new socks are definitely not the answer.
In the back of a cabinet I found the old oat canister, and I was flooded with a train of Sunday morning breakfast table memories.
We would take turns reading the news aloud with the oat canister strapped to the other's head. This tradition was the glue that formed the foundation of our relationship.
"And now, my dear, an article with the headline 'Balkan Tensions on the Rise'," and she would nod expectantly and chew her oats in the *cutest* way.
! It is the snake that creeps up and stabs you with the poisonous dagger that is sorrow.
A month before I moved here, an online video about "power poses" became very popular at my current workplace. Someone sent out an all-user e-mail with a link to this video, with the idea that we all needed a bit more assertiveness in our daily interactions.
"Power poses" involve puffing and stretching and expanding your body so that you take up the maximum amount of space. Using them, you can appear bigger and more powerful in interviews, negotiations, or anywhere else acting like a normal human being won't do. Power poses can (supposedly) help you in your career.
I don't know which of the stories to believe, but supposedly the power posing quickly got out of hand. Power-walking down the hallway, people became swinging furies of outstretched arms and legs. I heard only two people could fit into the elevator at a time, and the stairway was a deadly arena. One person power-posed his way into taking up a whole cafeteria table. Punches, it was decided, were legitimate extensions of the power pose; a useful way to deflate the poses of those in your way. Anyway, we're not allowed to share videos at work any more.
"The printer was yelling at me because it didn't have the kind of paper it thought I wanted to use."
"Yeah, it really beeps at you."
"It's awful! So first I shut it up, then I told it to accept the kind of paper that I'd put in because that was
what I wanted, and it accepted that and used it."
"The printer is pretty reasonable if you know how to talk to it. I think it's just trying to protect you from your own mistakes sometimes."
At work we have arguments with the printer and sometimes win them.
Maybe you've seen one of those slow-motion videos in which a person gets hit in the face with a baseball or something similar.
For a time, the person is unaware anything bad is happening to him. Then you see the exact moment in which the person realizes
is about to happen, and you can see the failed attempt to get out of the way, but he's unable to act quickly enough.
The same thing, even slower, happens throughout your life. An inevitable, slow-moving tragedy, gently and cruelly unfolding on the faces of everyone around us every day.
I had pizza waffles for lunch today. I took waffles and made them into little pizzas.
I tell you this not to brag, nor to make you envious of my carefree ring-a-ding lifestyle, nor even to cement my reputation as an expert in fine foods. I tell you this to warn you that pizza waffles are not at all as good as they sound.
Compatibility is a mystery, and sometimes combining two great things does not make a double-great thing.
It's not your fault
, and it's not a reason to give up trying. Get back out there!
While grocery shopping today I made a mental list of all of the reasons I've been so horribly deeply unhappy with every aspect of my life lately, and something like two thirds of them have to do with the fact that I don't like where I'm living. I think I might have become a "city person" over the past seven years, and I can not happily live in a rural area. Maybe shy, neurotic people need to live in densely populated areas to approach something vaguely resembling happiness.
For some reason merely having this thought really, intensely cheered me up.
The new cast of characters includes Jim. A few weeks after moving here, Jim got to know me a bit, and he asked me to volunteer my weekends to be his research assistant.
My first reaction was "
keep your goddamn hands off my weekends
," which I managed to say in a more polite way. I told him I often travel to Albany or Buffalo on the weekends.
Now I interpret everything Jim says as an insult to justify my refusal. So far I've logged-slash-invented six grievous insults and six minor insults. I was
to refuse his request.
Let's meet Glenys.
Glenys has a very unusual hairstyle. Her hair is divided into a top part, a left part, and a right part, and they all sort of diverge in a way that looks nice. I think it must take her a long time to work on this in the morning. I'd guess Glenys is in her eighties.
I don't think Glenys knows my name. She calls me "Dear Heart," which I think is an older person's way to call you a son of a bitch while making it sound like they've said something nice (cf. "bless your heart.")
There are people out there who leave the house without a pen. I know this because I've experienced the helpless, embarrassed look and sheepish smile that come before the hated question, "Can I borrow a pen?"
How do these people look at themselves in the mirror, that's what I want to know. How do they even
with themselves? (Note both the pitch and volume of my voice are dramatically increasing here.) We live in an information age and these
dregs of society
to go outside not expecting that they might need to make marks on paper?
One time I went to a wedding with this girl I was sort of dating, and her friend came over and wanted to give her an address. I not only had a pen, but also a small pad of paper which I carry around in my wallet. Her friend was impressed. She said, "This guy seems pretty alright if he carries this stuff around with him." After this endorsement, semi-girlfriend's attitude towards me warmed up considerably. Am I advising you to carry a pen everywhere because it might conceivably help you to get lucky?
That's exactly what I'm doing.
Let's meet whoever wrote the following, pertaining to a council I've been invited to join, which is meant to provide:
"a sustainable, unit-based, shared-governance model with a healthy, professional-practice environment"
Now, I hold that a person who is capable of writing something like that is capable of
. I do not choose to be in the same room with such a person.
A river flows nearby. I sometimes think about riding a tire down this river to the Chesapeake Bay and starting a new life wherever my tire comes to rest, away from such environments and models.
The rules of the double dactyl are pretty strict, but fun. It's something along the lines of
Write in a form that is
Stylish and brief.
When the month ends we all
Gather together to
Read works by Jodi and
(Not that, but
Fisherman persons seek
On their weekends.
Often they miss them, for
To fishy friends
This steamy dumpling is
Trying to rhyme when he
Needs forty winks.
He takes advantage of
Which convert sugars to
Maybe the thing about the city is that it's easier to be alone. You can walk out your door and join the flow of people you've never seen before and you're confident you'll never see again. The people you're among are alone, and you're alone, and you're all fairly miserable, but being miserable feels normal, and because it feels normal it doesn't feel so bad.
Here it's different because most of the people you meet here grew up here, and they're surrounded by family and classmates and everyone they've ever known, and that makes being alone
and more difficult.
It's important that you never say out loud that you've reached your lowest point, because once you do so your situation will magically become even worse. It's a known feature of our world.
You won't know what your lowest point actually was until you are dead, and by then you'll be too dead to worry about such things, so don't concern yourself with the question at all.
(If you become a ghost, however, we're led to believe you spend eternity dwelling on and moaning about your various low points. Don't become a ghost if you can help it, that's all.)
The story of the time an errant soccer ball came into the sidewalk, and I kicked it perfectly with the side of my foot, and it went right back to the kids who were playing with it, and my girlfriend at the time was extremely impressed with the kick, is not a very interesting story. I won't tell the story here.
Nevertheless, it is a real story of a real thing that happened to a real person on our planet, and something about the realness of it has a warmth you won't always find in stories which are made up.
At work, when you are in the bathroom with the door locked, you find that people have different strategies for finding out whether the room is occupied. Some knock, some try the handle, others kick and say "Hello?"
The violence with which others fling themselves at the door is alarming, and this group is the most interesting to me. Afterwards, they spend several seconds jiggling the handle, as if in disbelief. Have these ones never experienced disappointment in their lives, that they expect all doors to open naturally at their touch? Are they just natural optimists? What is their secret?
I'm on a new kick where I'm complying with each and every HR policy, but I'm doing it ironically. I'm printing everything out, organizing files in binders, and making neatly-labeled covers for the binders. I include clip art of people high-fiving in front of a profit chart, but I don't overdo it. I find it hilarious. It's made my job fun again.
I don't think anyone has noticed yet. I think they think I'm just doing a really good and thorough job. I'm desperate for someone to notice and realize what's actually going on. Wait until they realize!
"Now," he said, "Your mummy gains his power from his amulet, given to him by the high priests. To stop the mummy, you have to shatter the gem in the center of the amulet with the magic word. Only the mummy knows the word, and he en't about to tell you, see? If you're lucky, the priests were lazy, and the word is something like '123456' or 'mummy' or 'magic-word'. You try those first, and 80% of the time you'll get your mummy, simple as anything. That's how it's done, and that's all I got to say about that."
Today while I was walking home I looked up and saw two crows chasing a robin in the sky. The robin was trying to fly in a straight line, and the faster crows circled above and to the side, trying to cut him off. The robin gave a strange cry.
I felt a strong urge to intervene. I looked down at my feet -- at that moment I really understood what it is to be stuck to the ground as we all are and have always been, and it briefly felt strange and new. Is there a word for that feeling?
I always write my entries at night, just before bed. I come at them with the accumulated weight of the day's problems and ruminations, and so they sometimes come out a bit more dark and dismal than I might like.
I am writing this on Sunday morning, just for a change. I ate two cinnamon waffles for breakfast, and with them I had the coffee, roasted at The Daily Grind on Lark St (a few blocks from where I used to live), which Ian gave to me the last time I was in Albany. I'm feeling pretty good right now.
If you live in an apartment in the city, you've pretty much self-selected to live among other single people aged 25-40ish. You're in one such apartment building, and you look out your window, and you can see other apartment buildings full of the same types.
In a rural, family-oriented community, people live in houses, and the 35-year-old guy who lives alone and whistles back to birds is a suspicious oddity (can you imagine) with few peers. People respond to you differently, and although it shouldn't, the way people perceive you influences how you perceive yourself.
Using masking tape, I've taped the fourth toe of my right foot to the third toe. Why? I don't really know. Maybe I read about it somewhere. I guess that's what you do when you've injured your toe.
When one toe is taped to another, does it look slightly rugged? Slightly tough? I was hoping it might. I was hoping I could at least get that out of it, but no, it just looks like one of my little piggies is mildly injured from kicking the couch. Couch-kicking and toe-taping are two activities I would like to discourage.
I have absolutely no idea what I wrote about this month, which is unusual.
I've heard other people compare the act of writing to vomiting or defecation, and I never really understood that, but I think this might have been one of those months. I came to my computer at the end of the day, tired. Something which I didn't care to look at came out of me, and I hit the "submit" button to send it away from me forever. I hope I didn't say anything too outrageously terrible. If I did, I'm sorry. I apologize for my contents.
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