Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Everything I Know About Shelter

I put out a call for writing prompts on the twitters, and one friend gave me the above title and a six-minute limit. The results:

 

I know that Shelter protects me. My room is the smallest in a house of small rooms in a world of small houses. My mother calls it economical, that there are a lot of families who live in our community and that since everyone values privacy so much then we had to give up the space to build walls and doors.

I have no window, so I step outside. A relative term. Overhead, pipes and girders run like grand rivers, branching off to feed and support other tributary tunnels. I know they are essential, that without them we would freeze and choke and be crushed by the earth above us.

I want to walk out the front door. The real front door—the big one, the one with multiple gates inside each other, where airtight trucks full of workers or soldiers will vanish for days, or forever.

I know that I cannot leave Shelter, because there are women and men with guns who would rather murder a thirteen-year-old girl than risk a containment breach.

I know that I cannot leave Shelter, because even if I managed to get past those people with guns, on the other side of that airlock is an environment filled with ways to end my life before I could take four steps.

I know that I cannot leave Shelter because even if I managed to live past those first nervous steps, the grass won’t be green. The dirt won’t be brown. The sky won’t be blue.

I know that I will never see those things in my life, because the first thing everyone learns growing up: Shelter is not on Earth. We, in these tunnels and pipes and tiny houses, are the only people on a planet of poison and death.

And I know we weren’t ever supposed to be here.

 

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A Seed

I’ve been having a lot of weird little ideas that I’ve been allowing to germinate in the privacy of my own fat head (and I guess fat Google drive?). Here’s what is probably my favorite so far:

 

I love him, she knew, but I will never be in love with him. He can never be the floutist I know I need.

 

 

I’m pretty sure if I follow this up people are gonna be calling me the next Ian McEwan.

Who Falls Asleep at 9pm?

Me, apparently, last night. Hence no update, and no workout. But I’m not gonna stick around for very long tonight, either. I want to dedicate an hour simply to reading a book.

I’m starting to worry that I’m losing the ability to fall into a book for hours on end, simply as a matter of a diminished attention span. I spend so much time on the Internet, hopping from news article to news article to comic to whatever you want, and as a result, my bookshelf is starting to look like a backlog. I hate that. I want to be excited and anxious to open a new book and stay up way too late reading that, not some bullshit wiki!

Of course, I can’t really afford the new books I’d like to be able to buy myself (*cough*Christmas*cough*), but I can still make a solid dent in the ones on my shelf.
Holy shit, it’s the 25th of October.

Speaking of not being able to afford things and the inevitable onward march of time, I’m still unemployed. Keep trying tomorrow, I guess.

Friggin’ Weekends, man

Stirring up my vibe, distracting me from writing a guldarn magnum opus every day of the week. Oh well. No regrets, just keep going. Here’s a silly thing about the end of all things:

 

The human psyche’s capacity for existential dread is, more so than any fossil record or genetic mapping, perfect evidence for the grim idea that once upon a time, our species was little more than a bunch of half-baked lemurs running around, being hunted on the reg. Poor little plesiadapis tricuspidens, all he wanted out of life was to eat bugs, get his proto-rocks off, and not be named after his teeth 65 million years later. Oh, and not have to live in fear of the giant tyrannical demon lizards that haunted it’s every single moment.

I would say fuck him, little plesiadapis, but he is me. His wants are my wants. His fears are my fears.

Yet for good or ill, mammals long outpaced those reptilian bastards, and plesiadapis’ children—despite never quite making it as an apex predator—somehow managed to lay claim to the planet. But the dread remained. Dread of something bigger and nastier than us, lurking just on the other side of the wall. Dread of great beasts, of other men, of goblins and dragons and faeries, of alien visitors from another world.

Dread of either an ineffable, vengeful God, or an incomprehensibly vast and uncaring universe.

 

It probably never occurred to little plesiadapis tricuspidens to dread a group of amoral reality-shaping ungulates from three Earths over. But it should have.

Well, That Didn’t Last Long

I missed an update yesterday. Two days into my new pledge. Shitballs. I have an excuse, though! I got sucked into a house that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside and maybe doesn’t exist at all and maybe there’s a minotaur down there.

You see, last night I went to go see Mark Z. Danielewski reading from his new-ish book, The Fifty Year Sword—a book I sadly cannot afford right now, but that’s okay because I went with a friend and his bitch girlfriend, and he has a copy I can borrow. But I did get my copies of Only Revolutions and House of Leaves signed, and when I got home I started browsing. The result was engrossment (I am astonished that that is a real word).

This is obviously a terrible excuse. One of my major problems is that my cultural consumption/creation ratio is wildly out of balance, and as much as I enjoy the former, I worry that I’ll never really be content until my contributions are equal to that. But as Danielewski spoke to briefly last night, and as I’ve also learned from other artists and creators I admire, often the best way to enjoy both is to collaborate.

Right now, collaboration isn’t really a tactic I want to attempt. Like I said before, I need to be able to buckle down creatively, and I don’t want to be the guy in a partnership who’s still learning to do that. (Weirdly, however, five separate people have approached me in the past month for collaboration/consultation on their own projects—which I not only enjoy, but provides a wonderful little feeling of validation. The fact that people have artistic/editorial faith in me probably means a lot more to me than I’ve realized.)

So let’s talk fiction.

Fiction, as everyone who’s ever read my staggered attempts at it knows, is my Mordred. It requires a curious ability to take yourself our of yourself, which you don’t have to do with non-, where you can just be an asshole in a school newspaper opinions column and get a college credit for it. It’s also why I’m not great with poetry.

On top of that, I feel like I suffer from a hesitancy of plot—I’m a genre-fiction reader, first and formost. I don’t really subscribe to the classic definition of the difference between genre- and literary-fiction (or as I characterize it, because I am from Portland, the Blue Room/Gold Room divide), but I feel like this blindly ignorant generalization serves my intellectual needs:

a) Literary fiction can be good without having a plot, and

b) Genre fiction can be good without being pretty.

That works well enough, right? Look, I don’t really care what “Room” my stories end up “being in”. I want my work to be rich with theme and emotional resonance and humor and as full of beautiful imagery as a rotting cow is as full of gas and maggots. At the same time, a compelling narrative is indispensable to me—and I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever written one of those. All of my ideas, even the really captivating ones, seem to just lead to nifty little word pictures. Like that giraffe thing I half-wrote a while back. I had what I thought was this really startling, iconic image—a giraffe appearing out of a wormhole and informing a group of scientists that he brought word of their impending doom—but I completely forgot to ask myself “What happens next?”

I’m thinking tomorrow night I figure out the answer.

Jurassic Pork

I stole that from a comic in an issue of Disney Adventures magazine. It was about rampant merchandise that got out and started eating people, which, considering it was in a kids’ magazine published by Disney, is shockingly subversive.

ANYPOOP, I went to see Jurassic Park at the Academy tonight. This was the first time I’ve ever seen it in a theater, and I’m a little conflicted about it. On the one hand, while I had a good time, it wasn’t exactly the authentic experience. There was a lot of contagious laughter (especially at the horrendously dated computer stuff), and up on a huge screen it’s a lot easier to tell that most of the jungle stuff at night was on a soundstage.

In the other direction—which is not the second half of the idiom I started with, but screw it—as much as I loved that movie as a kid, even watching it on our TV scared the crap out of me. (I think I broached the subject of my velociraptor-turned-utahraptor nightmares not that long ago.) Seeing it in a theater, when the scary parts weren’t funny, and feeding off of a crowd’s terrified energy? I’d have shat a lightsaber.

Some third segway, I wanted to be a paleontologist when I was in the single digits. Correction: I thought I wanted to be a paleontologist. What I actually wanted to do is work with dinosaurs. Paleontologists have a terrible job. Curator at a museum of natural history? Sure. That sounds awesome. But paleontology? Digging for bones out in the Badlands of Montana? Nutsacks to that. Still, all of this comes second to the theoretical job title of Tyrannosaur Wrangler, probably at Busch Gardens.

There was something…. Oh, yes, the film itself. I mean, the film which ran through the projector, in order to put the movie (‘film’) on the big wall. It was an original print! Which means it was dirty, and skipped occasionally, and terribly, wonderfully visceral. I finally, FINALLY, get seeing movies on film. Makes me excited to see The Master on 70mm.

That’s pretty much all I have in the tank. Except the worst news I’ve read all week.

Night.

As I start this, it is 12:45am, Sunday. I am house sitting for my aunt and uncle at their abode, which is located on the northern edge of Forest Park—which is to say, smack dab in the middle of the woods.

It is powerful dark outside.

Outside.

Four times since he got out at 11 have I had to step outside to see if the cat needs to be let inside. Each time I have put on one additional article of clothing (sandals, button-up, sweatshirt) or replaced one (shorts) with another (jeans).
From the glass porch door I can see two things, and two things only: the blinking red security lights in the two cars in the driveway. Everything else is pitch.

Anything could be out there.

Including that cat.
I shouldn’t worry about him; he lives here, knows this area better than I.
But it’s just as irrational that I should look to the end of the tiny beam of light I carry in my hand and be worried that some ravenous, slashing toothbeast should emerge from the darkness beyond, and me without a machete.
I do, though, because inside my mind is still the child who went to sleep every night in a fortress of his own devising (it was made of blankets). Who trembled to look out his second-story window and lest a velociraptor be staring back at him.

Apparently ravenous slashing toothbeasts (teethbeast?) have been with my psyche for a while.

I worry that maybe (probably—definitely—) I’m working myself up over nothing. I’ve stayed overnight in this house before, many times in fact. But never alone, and never with responsibility over the life of a creature who likes to go wandering around at night in woods haunted by probably the souls of the damned.

The dog has yet to contribute her opinion or suggestions as to a course of action.

When the Daystar remained high in the sky, so many hours ago, we discovered a kitten prowling around the house. (S)he was, of course, tiny and adorable and needy, though shim’s presence wasn’t particularly well-received amongst the furred population. Perhaps the interloper returned—I did put out a small bowl of food at the end of the driveway—and Bump, the subject of my turmoil, is out establishing his boundaries.

I feel like I’ve diverged from the amusing ruminations of/regarding terrors in the night and entered the horrifying realm of the real.

I should probably go see if the cat needs to be let it.