04/01 Direct Link
Am I doing this again? Here I am, writing, so I guess I am. Authorities agree: you have to write a lot of garbage before anything good comes out. My adult writing resume includes one short story for a class and thirty-one hundred-word ditties for this site.

I have to wade through this river of garbage before I can get to the other shore, where all the good writers are having a party. They’re having cupcakes and champagne over there.

“Hello, Thomas. May I have a cupcake?”

“Hello, man covered in garbage. Please remove yourself from this party at once.”

04/02 Direct Link
These differences of ours... what is the nature of the differences?

Are they differences of perception? Differences in sensibility? Differences of physical form?

Are you even listening to me? Do you even acknowledge the differences? Am I making you unhappy? May I continue?

Differences in opinion? Differences in diet? Differences in body temperature?

Christ, are you crying? Don’t you realize that I’m trying to solve all of our problems? Shouldn’t you be cooperating rather than throwing those books at me?

Differences in musical ability? Differences of background? Differences in prescription medication?

Should we just forget this and get some dinner?
04/03 Direct Link
I met these three Japanese tourists in Beijing. The four of us shared a room in the basement of the smelly but cheap Jinghua Hostel. They walked in around midnight, and we talked for three hours.

Tom was the only one who contacted me after that night. He had a blog (before ‘blog’ was a word) where he included his personal mission statement: “To become a kind-hearted gentleman.”

How humble! He was already a kind-hearted gentleman, he just wanted to get better at it.

Now I’ve borrowed his mission statement for myself. Know what? You should probably borrow it, too.

04/04 Direct Link
I think I told her about my dream that she came to visit me for a very simple reason: I really want her to come visit me. That’s my way of planting the idea in her head. Clever, right? I know, I’m really sneaky and manipulative.

I could put my head in her lap and tell her how wonderful she is, and she could scratch me behind the ears. I think I’d melt right there on the couch. She needs reassurance, I need to have my head scratched, and she’s the only one who knows how to do it properly.
04/05 Direct Link
Today I was in the grocery store looking for Dutch-processed cocoa. None of the packages had “DUTCH PROCESSED!” written clearly on the front, so I had to read the back. Here’s the quality assurance, the guarantee of satisfaction, the blurb about antioxidants in cocoa, recipes involving cocoa, the life story of the guy who started the company...

I wasn’t about to read through all this stuff, so (in my mind) I pressed Ctrl-F ... Ctrl-F ... hey, why isn’t this working?

Either someone needs to write a Firefox extension for real life or I need to spend less time on the Internet.

04/06 Direct Link
Dear Cutiepie,

Maybe I’ll ride over this weekend and show you that trick with the ants I was telling you about. It’s so groovy, I want you to know.

Do you still have that eyelash stuck in your eye? My friend is pretty good with a razor; I think he might be able to get it out for you.

I bought this cool rubber hand yesterday and I was thinking we could say we found it in our chili or throw it into the street and see what kind of reaction we’d get. I guess I’m just bored.



04/07 Direct Link
Shall we look to the future?

Certain events have been set in motion. We are powerless at this point.


Needless to say, I do not like what I see.


It is not wise to consider having a child at this time. That would be selfish, considering the aforementioned events. If you want something small and snuggly, may I suggest a cat?

04/08 Direct Link
'one' is a word
1 is not

'asterisk' is a word
* is not

'ellipsis' is a word
... is definitely not

do not confuse the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself--
do not confuse the symbol for the object it represents

that smug winking paperclip in MS word needs to learn a few things about word count

I trusted him to count my words, and he led me astray

How I hate him.


(OpenOffice is free and will not thus lead you astray, but it does count every word in a compound adjective, which seems a bit strict.)
04/09 Direct Link
I dreamt that I sat on the beach with Ringo Starr. We were drinking and talking about life.

(a dream involving a former Beatle signifies change or transformation)

"Ringo," I said, "I'm having problems. I don't know what I'm doing here."

"I know all about it," he said. "Your problem is simply that you lack self-confidence -- your doubt is paralyzing you. If you trust youself and do what you need to do without hesitation, you'll find that things will start to make more sense."


"Ringo," I said, "you are my favorite Beatle because you always know what to say."
04/10 Direct Link
Another unfortunate aspect of my personality is this uptight moralizing Puritan type, who pops up every once in a while. (cf. last month's Catholocism entry) When he does, I feel the need to tweak his nose a bit. Tonight I skipped class and got drunk, then ate too much Easter candy.

I realize that's a pretty lame kind of rebellion, but it was enough to satisfy the “cool guy” aspect of my personality without enraging “moderation guy” too much.

I also realize that dividing yourself up into different characters must be the very essence of madness. I'm OK with that.
04/11 Direct Link
I recently read an article in the Times about people who were rejected by romantic prospects because of their apartments. One guy had a stuffed baby seal and action figures, another guy had ugly sheets on his bed. One man said he didn't "trust [his date's] judgment" when he saw Klimt's The Kiss on her bedroom wall.

After I finished grimacing at the horrifying shallowness, I decided to evaluate my own apartment.

There is a strange spiky-haired potato with big pink lips sitting on the computer monitor. He will scare away the shallow judgmental women. I love that potato.

04/12 Direct Link
The Effects of Gin on Writing Ability

The author carried out a four-hour study with the intention of determining what effects, if any, consuming great quantities of Gin and Tonic has on writing ability. While intense self-loathing had decreased slightly, there was no noticeable change in the quality of writing.

Previous Research
See Hemingway, Ernest.

A convenience sample of the author's apartment found one willing participant for the study. Gin and Tonic was administered to the subject until he wished he was dead, at which point he decided to write his 100 words for the day.
04/13 Direct Link
I don't see how you can blame me for this new lack of interest in breathing; you never seemed to like it all that much anyway. Can I help if if I just pushed you a bit, gave you that nudge that made you realize how boring it is? All that oxygen can't be good for you, anyway. All of those other colorless, odorless, tasteless gases going in and out, it just makes me sick. Turn of that light. Please, please, it's hurting my eyes. The light belongs outside.

Automatic writing kind of sucks. Maybe I should take some drugs.
04/14 Direct Link
Last week in a fit of laziness I realized that folding laundry is for suckers. You can just empty your laundry bag onto the floor and pick out your clothes throughout the week.

Maybe I've been alone too long, or maybe this is brilliant. Maybe it's... not so brilliant. She would never have let me get away with it.

Want to try something, guys? Just tell your special lady that by not folding your laundry you're "saving time that you can spend with her."

When she says "absolutely not," you might realize that you need her more than you thought.

04/15 Direct Link
Are you going to complain that 100 words are not enough to say anything meaningful? That you can't tell a story with a mere 100 words?

I just read that Ernest Hemingway once bet his friends ten dollars that he could write a story in six words. He wrote:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

He won the bet. (I read that story on Wikipedia, so it must be true.)

100 words is starting to sound like a lot now. With those extra 94 words a day I should be able to say a great deal. Thanks a lot, Hemingway.
04/16 Direct Link
Breaking news: some guy murdered 32 people.

I actually can't tell you how many drafts I went through before submitting this one.

I tried lecturing, moralizing, dramatizing, rationalizing, analyzing, soul-searching, getting angry, getting depressed, getting preachy, and ignoring it. None of these led me to an answer.

Human behavior continues to baffle me.

That was the main theme of what I had written. When something baffles you, I suppose the best thing to do is to admit that you are baffled and go on about your business. In a few hours I will be prepared to be baffled again.
04/17 Direct Link
I had been entertaining a sentimental attachment to some vague higher truth, mostly to avoid annoying my father.

“Son,” he might say, “don't tell me you're moping about the meaninglessness of existence over there.”

“No, of course not,” I'd say. “There is definitely something. I'm just having trouble seeing it lately.”

“Truth is Beauty, son, and Beauty Truth.”

“Yes, Dad.”

Then I realized... do I really believe that? No. I just didn't want to hear his boring refutation of nihilism again. I hung up the phone and went back to staring at the ceiling, which I pretended was an abyss.

04/18 Direct Link
After my third hut collapsed I decided to just give up and live in this open hole in the ground. I don't think the rabbits will come here looking for shelter when it rains. Yes, yes, they're very cute, but have you ever had rabbits in your hut? They just gnaw on everything and make a gigantic mess. I hate them so much. I blame their gnawing for the collapse of my last three huts. I came out here trying to escape from society, and now I have to move into a hole to get away from the damn bunnies.
04/19 Direct Link
“Salt the world, salt the world...”

My ten-year high school reunion is coming up. Who will be there? Which cliques will be represented? There were several to choose from: the cool kids, the jocks, the preppies, the nerds, the wasteoids, the safety-scissors club, the absolute nutso kids, and several others.

One of the absolute nutso kids used to go around with a salt shaker, muttering “salt the world, salt the world...” as he proceeded to salt the floor of the high school. Was he a madman or a brilliant, misunderstood performance artist? We were too afraid to ask.
04/20 Direct Link
There are two people standing on the corner.

It is a decisive moment.

Neither of them can say it, but both want to hear it. They stand there and look at each other; the pause reaches the point where one of them has to say something. Since he can't find the right words, he says goodbye. She forces herself to smile and says that she'll see him around.

He watches her brush the hair away from her face as she walks away. He stands in that spot until he realizes that the moment has passed. The decision has been made.
04/21 Direct Link
Sometimes I wonder whether it was easier for people in earlier centuries. I'm sure it wasn't, but it's fun to think about. You have your job, you marry whoever comes along (because you absolutely had to get married) and you spend your evenings by the fire with your family. None of this lonely, drunken XML coding on a Saturday night, pausing only to sing along with The Smiths and to do a quick bit of writing.

They might have pitied us, rushing from one distraction to the next, cramming as much as possible into our lives to avoid real introspection.
04/22 Direct Link
“You've changed a lot,” she said. She seemed uncomfortable bringing up the topic, and mindlessly played with her glass.

“I drink more,” he said with a grin, finishing his beer.

“No, that's not what I mean,” she insisted, “you're so different, what happened to you?”

He stared at his empty glass.

“I don't know.”

They had spent the whole day together, talking about the fun they used to have when everything was easy and uncomplicated. When it got dark they decided to step into a bar for a drink. Now, their reminiscences depleted, they sat there -- unrecognizable to each other.
04/23 Direct Link is an online radio station and a social networking site. You can display your musical preferences for the world to see, and use the “taste-o-meter” to compute your musical compatibility with other users.

I think the purpose of all this is for teenage music nerds to find your profile and make fun of you for liking Bob Dylan. They also have weird arguments about whether or not a certain band or song is “emo.”

Wow, I have “super” compatibility with Wilsera2006 from Brazil. Thank you, Internet, for always giving me some new way to waste my time.
04/24 Direct Link
Sometimes when I come home I find the overhead lights too bright. At these times I like to turn them off and light some candles. They provide a soft, romantic touch to my evening activities, which include making my grocery list, filling in important dates in my calendar, or daydreaming about the girl down the hall.

Then Smokey the bear bursts through my wall like Kool-Aid Man. He informs me that my candles pose a fire risk. I tell him they will not cause a forest fire, so they are out of his jurisdiction. He apologizes for the mess.
04/25 Direct Link
I just proofread a very long letter, the aim of which is to unite two true lovers. Person A lives in one country, Person B lives in another. The letter was for their case officer, who will determine whether Person B will get a visa. I volunteered to put the letter into understandable English after reading the original.

The letter described their four-year relationship, starting from the day they met. Apparently they are unwilling to live without each other, and each second spent apart is agonizingly painful. There are many tears.

It really cheered me up for some reason.
04/26 Direct Link
Um... I think you might have misunderstood what I said yesterday. The misery and tears did not cheer me up. It was something about the fact that I was catching this love story right in the middle of the sad part, and my faith that it will all work out in the end -- that is what made me feel better.

The world, you see, can be a dark and cruel place, and it is made bearable only by our occasional contact with its inmates, our fellow sufferers. These are kind strangers, loud neighbors, good-natured dogs, faraway lovers...

Get me?
04/27 Direct Link
I like to keep the peace while in a group of people. I'm not afraid of conflict, nor do I think it always needs to be avoided. It's just that most of the time it's over some trivial matter that distracts people from what they should be doing. In those situations, I like to do what I can to calm everyone down. I'm not always good at it, but I usually try anyway.

I also just like the idea that everyone should get along and play nicely with each other. It rarely happens naturally.

What corny, idealistic nonsense! But... true.
04/28 Direct Link
I don't want to do this any more. It stopped being fun months ago. I keep on doing it because... Lack of imagination? Weakness? Yes, I think it's one of those, or maybe it's something else.

Maybe it helps me to avoid thinking, or feeling, or doing something imprudent.

Prudence never pays.

God, my head... but I know I'll be here again next week, in the same state, for the same reason, thinking the same things. Am I too young to be stuck in a rut?

Can you feel the desperation tonight?

I don't want to do this any more.

04/29 Direct Link
Oh, good lord. I thought at least I'd wait until next week, but circumstances dictated action.

For those of you playing at home, the second “I don't want to do this any more” meant something completely different from the first. If you knew, you might be concerned. Please don't think about it.

A memory: The science building has green glass doors, gray tiles. You can press the handicapped button to make the doors open, but that is for handicapped people and sorority girls only. I'm carrying a styrofoam box filled with bad Chinese food. I will eat it in silence.

04/30 Direct Link
Hemingway liked Mojitos, not Gin and Tonics, but I only had Gin and Tonic around, you see, so that's what I had. I've resolved to be less picky about things like that. The idea is that it will improve my quality of life. I'm not sure that it's working.

I've also resolved to be less morose, but I don't see that happening. I am naturally a morose fellow. Too much black bile, I think. Get the leeches.

APRIL 2007: It was actually a pretty good month.

If you can honestly say that, you're doing OK. Start again at 1 tomorrow.