REPORT A PROBLEM
When I was quite young, my imagination was captured by a cutlery knife I saw in a camping magazine. It had a fork, a spoon, and a knife that would swivel out of the handle so that you could safely carry an entire place setting in your pocket.
I imagined myself in the woods, faced with a delicious campout meal at which there were no utensils available. Imagine the look on my friends' faces as I calmly pulled out my knife and began to eat soup, salad, and the main course with the poise and confidence of an experienced woodsman.
Music with old-timey country voiceover
You know, folks, this country was built on three things: hard work, patriotism, and dried fruit. Dried fruit kept many a pioneer going through the hard winter months. Dried fruit graces the silver snack platters of the finest homes.
Don't have much use for book learnin'. But if I did, I could tell you that dried fruit is packed with antioxidants that can donate electrons to damaging free radicals in your body and put a stop to their monkeyshines. Kids love the sweet taste and leathery texture, and parents love the vitamins and minerals.
The workout I did at the gym was enough to power a 15-watt light bulb for an hour. The machine has calculated this for me.
I am not impressed with this information. The qualitative experience of getting my heart beating and the mental and emotional changes that came with it are the real story, even if we can't assign them a number.
Numbers are overrated in a way that baffles me. They're fine tools for certain things, but the information they promise is simplistic. Don't show me a chart; write a novel about the chart and give me
on being in the presence of a beautiful woman
First there is a feeling of shame or guilt.
Have you ever stood in a restaurant, maybe waiting for someone, and no matter where you stand you find yourself in
way? And when you have three people trying to get past you at once, you curse yourself for selfishly existing?
Or have you ever stood in front of a nice building, looking like an awkward tourist, when you realize that someone is trying to take a picture of it and they're waiting for you to get out of the way?
In my first 10th grade essay I confessed to my English teacher my writing was full of pointless filler "fluff" material.
essay was not full of fluff, but she wrote "Cut the fluff!!!" at the bottom. Those three exclamation marks are forever etched in my memory.
I worried that everything I wrote for her was fluff. I would turn one in and plead with my eyes, "this essay is taut and pithy, please..." but she continued to complain about fluff as my supposedly 500-word essays got shorter and less detailed. It turned out she just hated reading essays.
For me one of the happiest things about being an adult is that it means the end of compulsory sports participation. I have not swam or kicked a ball or swung from a rope since 1997. Some would call this sad, but I call it freedom.
I still have only negative feelings around sports, and still see them as a form of institutionalized terror, and a socially accepted way for bullies to hone their craft. The deep stabbing feeling I would get in my stomach before gym class is still available to me when I think about it.
When you're doing this every day, you sometimes end up writing something you don't really believe. I could call it "doing a character" or "fiction," but it's just trying to fill up that new box that appears every day.
I don't really hate sports, and I have nothing against ending a sentence with 'baby' (although I never under any circumstances will
be caught doing so).
I'm like a little kid who feels obliged to talk at length about absolute nonsense until everyone wishes he would do it somewhere else. The difference is, I stop when I hit 100 words.
I've been taking care of my sick friend's dog. This dog is shy and skittish, and has only recently come to trust me.
It was nearly sixty degrees today, so I took him for a long walk in the woods near my apartment. Off the leash, he stayed close to me as we walked down the gravel path. The dim winter afternoon sunlight shone through the bare branches, and I watched him sniff the ground and air. I felt very good and alive at that moment. I put my hands behind my head and asked him if he was happy.
Some time ago, my Father found himself in a beauty supply shop to buy a Christmas present. By chance, he discovered a box of one hundred cuticle pushers.
A cuticle pusher is a wooden dowel, about five inches long and an eighth of an inch in diameter. It has a rounded, beveled edge that women use to push on their cuticles, don't ask me why.
For whatever reason, he found them neat, or maybe he thought it was a bargain, and he bought the box. That Christmas, my brother, my mother, and I each received approximately thirty-three cuticle pushers.
For a while after that, I kept cuticle pushers everywhere in my apartment, on the off chance I found a creative use for them.
One evening she was sitting at my desk, and she pulled one out of my pencil cup.
"Oh!" she said, "You have a cuticle pusher?"
This is a moment I've been thinking about a lot lately. It was a chance for me to be honest and straightforward with the most important person in my life at the time, but instead I decided to do something different.
What I said was, "Oh, is
what that is?"
a) I was a bit embarrassed being caught with a cuticle pusher. It is not macho to have one in your apartment, readily accessible in the pencil cup.
b) I still didn't really understand what they were for, and hoped she would fill me in.
Those are secondary, though. She knew me well enough to know that I am not macho in the conventional sense, and apparently it did not matter to her.
c) In my ridiculous, love-addled brain, this was an opportunity to be mysterious. Insecure and desperate to keep her interested, I did not offer any explanation.
I knew it would be just like her not to blow up and wave it in my face and say "you son of a bitch, whose cuticle pusher is this, etc..."
Of course, she instead turned it over in her hands several times, looking at it intently, and put it back with no follow-up questions.
I felt bad about this right away, but apparently not bad enough to explain. If she had found the rest of the cache, the game would have been up and it would have led to a funny discussion, but she only found the one.
Sometimes when I see a flock of geese or a tree or a caterpillar or the moon, I like to pretend I'm a caveman and I'm seeing it for the first time.
"What is this? What's going on here? Is that dangerous? How does it relate to other things I've seen?"
Just about anything is pretty crazy when you look at it with fresh eyes in this way. Give it a try.
Through this exercise, I have concluded that when they weren't freezing or starving or getting clubbed to death by their fellows, cavepersons' minds were being blown 24/7.
When I was young, I was given a book of Norse myths, and right up until about 80% of the way through, I was rooting for Loki. I think it's important to have a person whose role it is to fuck everything up once in a while. It's good for us all. It's too easy to become attached to conventions and traditions, and they need to be flaunted and questioned and demolished sometimes, lest they hold us back.
The upshot of all this is that my alignment cannot be Lawful Good, thus I am not eligible to be a Paladin.
Heather and I had a brief conversation at the concert.
"Heather's cute, huh?" said my friend.
CUTE," I shouted as the next band began to play.
To demonstrate the effect she was having on me, I carefully lowered myself to the floor and rolled around on my back with my legs up in the air, clutching at the space where my heart used to be. It was no longer there because she had stolen it, although I'm not sure I made that clear.
," I said while rolling, by way of explaining about the heart thing.
Heather had said something hurtful; I don't even remember what it was anymore. She explained that she was "starting to say what I really think lately." I later learned this experiment of hers had been going on for about five years.
I asked how her other friends had taken it. She said, "Oh, well... you're the only one who is actually still talking to me."
Heather was a jerk -- this was clear. So was I a really, ridiculously good friend, or a human doormat, or was I just holding out for a sliver of hope that she might love me?
I'm happy when the weather starts to get warmer and spring is around the corner, but I am reluctant to give up my big black coat.
Fashion fans say clothes can be an outward manifestation of how one feels as a person, but I only feel this when I am draped in heavy black fabric.
I like the coat's big pockets.
The padding of the coat makes me look bigger than I really am.
It is also a kind of metaphorical armor against the unbearable coldness of the world. It is a security blanket an adult can wear without shame.
I have been accused of "mansplaining" for the first time.
I started to tell my friend about solid-state drives in simple terms when the accusation arose.
"I know all about that -- stop your
," she said.
"You're the same person who looked at me like I was telling you to enter The Matrix when I tried to explain downloading a browser other than Internet Explorer," I said, "and now you're telling me you know all about SSDs?"
I shouldn't have let it bother me.
"I just think it's a funny word," she said, "and I wanted to use it."
The standard muse inspires art and poetry and so on, and that is great.
The "life muse" inspires you go do certain tasks of daily living that you might not otherwise do. For example, my kitchen is clean, my carpet is clean... I guess it's a cleaning thing.
Personally I am comfortable with a certain level of squalor, but my life muse inspires me to clean things, because I imagine her reaction if she knew how dirty my __(fill in the blank)__ is.
So mostly it is based on shame(?). Maybe it's a bad idea and we should forget it.
Today we resume the topic of the life muse, because I have realized some things.
It is not just cleaning. I eat right and exercise, I get haircuts, I buy new clothes when mine become ragged, and this is also because of my life muse. I actually would not do these things for my own sake.
The life muse is not necessarily someone you have a crush on. It's simply someone who makes you want to be your best when you think of him/her.
One of the conditions for being my life muse is that you can never know.
Well, OK. I'm not sorry that I'm still writing on this topic, because it's taken me this many days of writing and thinking about it to realize that there's no such thing as a "life muse" and that I do in fact just have a crush on this person. It is a bit embarrassing at my age.
Is it acceptable? Does it make me a creep? These are the things I worry about to the point that I'm willing to deceive myself into inventing the (frankly
) notion of the "life muse" to avoid admitting what should have been obvious.
Sometimes you give object A a push, but pushing object A also pushes object B, which itself pushes object C, and object D ends up on the floor in a million pieces which you now have to sweep up.
And you think to yourself, "Why could I not have made this seemingly simple connection, that
action would have
result? The objects were right here in a line, all in plain view, all displaying the same perfectly predictable behavior."
"I wasn't thinking" barely explains it -- even when dealing with plates instead of people, consequences can be difficult to foresee.
I don't know whether you've ever had the dream where you're driving really, really fast on a city street.
It's fun at first, but then you realize this is the only speed your car knows, and you're out of control, and now, by the way, you're driving
at the same speed, and you just have to look through the rear-view mirror and hope that you don't hit anyone, and you start to wonder how long it will be before you smash into something.
The feeling in that dream is exactly how I feel when I'm really, giddily happy.
In college my friend started a craze for eating steamed white rice with hot sauce as a snack. It's hard to explain, but he was the kind of guy who, when you saw him doing something, you wanted to be seen doing it too. The craze quickly spread through his circle of friends and beyond.
It was a true annoyance to the owner of the Korean restaurant on campus, since he had whole groups of stupid kids coming in and ordering nothing but a dollar's worth of white rice, which meant he had to make more for his
We opened the door for Eric, who came in and launched himself onto our couch.
"Korean Man's not happy today," he said, holding up his rice snack.
The owner of the restaurant, whose name we did not know, had decided to combat the rice craze by giving anyone who ordered
rice a profoundly dirty look. Taking some of the free hot sauce packets caused the dirtiness of the look to intensify.
I experienced this look once, and it was enough to make me kick the habit. It was interesting, for a while, to be part of a food craze.
Dear Copy Editor,
Thank you for agreeing to review my manuscript. I look forward to seeing your revisions.
Note: Please do not change my "
historic" to "
I am not a cockney chimney sweep who drops his 'h's and pronounces the word
which means that 'historic' does not start with a vowel sound, which means the article is 'a'.
I WILL FIGHT YOU OVER THIS
I mean physically fight you.
I am loco
and do not mess with me.
If you'll send your bill to my home address, I will pay it promptly.
Well my new friend's got five senses,
My new friend can
She can do it, how about you?
My new friend can
My new friend can
her baby's cry,
My new friend's got sensitivity,
you touch her head,
My new friend feels pain and pleasure,
She doesn't want to end up dead.
My new friend can moo right now,
My new friend's a mother cow,
She'll get through her life somehow,
I did indeed meet a wonderful cow over the weekend. She was a former dairy cow whose milk-giving days had run out. Normally these cows are slaughtered, but this one managed to score a spot on a farm, where she will spend the rest of her days living in ease and comfort.
She was like a big dog. She followed me around and begged to be petted on the head. It was an emotional experience. Her name was Lucy.
I told her I was sorry that I used to eat her friends and relatives, and she licked my hand.
My entry is quite late this month because my parents came to visit, and I wouldn't have been able to work on this without having to explain.
They would then want to read everything I had written here, and if I refused they would assume it was because I'm some sort of sex maniac or drug addict.
If I did agree to share it with them, they would say, "We notice that you are profoundly fucked up, son..." and I really didn't want to have that conversation with them. Nobody wins when your parents read your 100words entries, I'm afraid.
"Artist stores" are those little places where local artists can take the weird things they make and have the proprietor of the store stick a $50 price tag on them. My mother has a sixth sense for finding these places.
"Are you just browsing, or looking for something specific?" asked the woman who was running the place.
who comes into these stores is just browsing, because the stock is such a random jumble of nonsense.
a little ceramic frog who can hold my kitchen sponges. Do you have one?"
"Why, yes, of course, right this way..."
Jen said lettuce is just expensive and environmentally-harmful water, and I supposed she had a point, so I opted for broccoli instead. Broccoli is both less watery and less expensive (when you compare conventional broccoli to organic lettuce) and it's also a good deal healthier.
I get cravings for broccoli when I haven't had it for a while. Broccoli is one of the less-known addictions, and I still don't feel comfortable talking about it with others, because it sounds like you're bragging. "Oh, I am simply ad-
to broccoli!" Nobody wants to hang out with that guy.
The Tip Jar