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.

Nostalgia Holes & Life Goals

I fell down a nostalgia hole tonight, then came out and discovered it was 2 o’clock in the morning.

It started with a random thought about an artist on a card game I used to play—Magi-Nation. It was halfway between Pokemon and Magic, and I was really good at it. I wasted my Saturdays in early high school playing in tournaments out in Gresham, winning a bunch of cards that I’ve held onto for so long that they are now worth absolutely nothing. Unlike Magic and Pokemon, the game had no staying power, but it had a narrative, so I found it compelling.

I am horrified to think of the amount of money I spent on those stupid cards, and really, on every fad I’ve ever been addicted to. Warhammer was my high back in Ireland—then again when I went back on a study abroad trip. Staying on the wagon is, apparently, not my game.

On the same shelf in the back corner of my room where I found my old card binder were my high school portfolios. One look at my personal statement, and how I’m still pretty much in the same boat seven years later, was enough to make me want to weep openly. But I also know that I will not be ridding myself of these artifacts anytime soon.

Except I’m worse. The skills I’ve developed in those years are not what I wish I had—though apparently younger me saw himself teaching at the collegiate level—and the ones I wish I possessed, I do not.

I’d like to be able to play the piano.

I know that you’re not supposed to reflect on your life in the dead of night, but it’s not going to be blissfully different tomorrow. I’m fat, unemployed, broke, unpublished, and achingly, perpetually single. And I know that all of those things are my fault. Because I lack willpower, and I am afraid of change and rejection. I have wasted two whole lifetimes.

I am neither happy nor proud of who I am. And that pattern will continue until I change it, until I teach myself willpower. And to do that means rigor, and rigor means goals. So here are my goals. Immediate goals. Effective immediately. Starting now:

* I will look for a job for no less than six hours, no more than eight every weekday. Until someone’s paying me to work, finding someone who’ll pay me to work is my job. However, this goal has the biggest caveat, in that this time may be butchered so I can work on the home improvements.

* I will write for an hour every day, and publish whatever I come up with here on this blog. Every day. Even if I’m absolutely disgusted by the sight of a text file after eight hours of writing cover letters. It will be sloppy and ugly, but it will get better. My mind was the only muscle I ever really had in shape, and I’ve allowed it to atrophy. That stops here.

* I will work out every day for a half hour. Again, every day, probably before I got to bed. This will include running laps up and down the nearby schoolyard.

* I will go to bed at a reasonable fucking hour, like say maybe before 3 in the morning.

* I will teach myself to play the Portal theme song on my dad’s guitar, and after that, another song. And after that, another.

* After her foodcart reopens in Sellwood, I will go there, and I will ask Hillary out on a date. But until that happens, I will stop hating myself for not getting her phone number when I had the chance. Self-loathing solves nothing, and it’s only making me mopey.

* Addendum—I will no longer internalize the idea that me being attracted to a women is anathema to a positive human experience. I have no idea how a girl might react if she finds out I like her, so it’s time I stop assuming it’ll be rejection.

* I will set this to publish at ten tomorrow morning, so that people will see it and read it and call me on my bullshit when I’m not living up to these. Because I haven’t exercised my iron will quite yet.

* I will quite now, because the hour is finally catching up to me. Good night, see you tomorrow for the first day of lifetime number 3.

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.

Point, Baby Counterpoint: Shitting One’s Pants

Oh God.

Bbbhhthhbthhh. Ga?

Oh God no.

Baaaababaaaaaa. Tshhhhh.

I thought I only had to fart!

Hahaaeeeeeeeepoo!

Did anyone notice? Is Daryl looking at me like he noticed? Can he smell it? Oh sweet Christ he can smell it.

Poopoo! Bbbbththbthth.

Think, Jon, think! This is nothing. Nothing. You’ve been in worse. That dinner with the Takeba-Sanada reps? That was a travesty, this is just a mild inconvenience. You can solve this.

Agirbidebubth?

Get yourself to a bathroom, get out of your shorts, and get back to your life.

Agirbidebubth!

Nope! Nope! This is worse! This is the worst of all things.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeheehehee.

Daryl’s definitely noticed by now. If he can’t smell shit then he can surely smell my anguish. God I hate him.

Poooooooopoo!

I can feel it on my leg.

Dada.

There’s no coming back from this, is there? This is my life now. Jon. The Pants Shitter.

DAADAAADOO!

This must be what people with cancer feel like.

Dada. Doodoo.

There’s a certain relief in it, really. I have no more actions to take. Just let the disdain and mockery begin when it OH FUCKLORD he’s leaving, he’s leaving, now’s my chance!

Chaaaaan? Chane! Brrrbrb.

Fuck you, inevitability! I am the master of my own pants! And I say they will be shit-free, forever more!

Heeeeeeeeeeeeh.
 
Good Lord it’s in my shoe.

MoD, and Other Things (But Mostly Dance With Dragons)

So, I lied. There’s been a bit of a delay on me getting published on the unnamed for now videogame website, but as far as I know I’m still pumping out articles, and they’re still planning to publish them.

On a brighter note, my Machine of Death story, COUNTERFEIT, has been finished and submitted. Odds are that most of you people have already read it, but as soon as I work up the nerve I’ll probably publish it here as well.

And now I return to Westeros.

Bük Servaae.

I thought about doing one just for Terry Pratchett’s books, then I remembered you would hate me for it.

via articulation ad infinitum

Favorite book: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett. Probably.
Least favorite book: Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos
Book that makes you laugh out loud: Most recently, Bossypants by Tina Fey.
Book that makes you cry: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the last I can remember. You know who wrote it.
Book you wish you could live in: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Favorite young adult book: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
Book that you can quote/recite: Dune by Frank Herbert.
Book that scares you: Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewksi
Book that makes you sick: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.
Book that changed your life: Machine of Death.
Book from your favorite author: Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.
Book that is most like your life: Blankets by Craig Thompson.
Book whose main character is most like you: Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.
Book whose main character you want to marry: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
First “chapter book” you remember reading as a child: Some funny Christian book series, but I can’t remember the name so I’m just going to say Animorphs #1: The Invasion by K.A. Applegate.
Longest book you’ve read: I THINK it’s A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, at 1216p.
Shortest book you’ve read: Some kid’s bullshit. I read a lot of those for work.
Book you’re most embarassed to say you like: My entire Star Wars EU (extended universe) bookshelf.
Book that turned you on: Amores by Ovid.
Book you’ve read the most number of times: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.
Favorite picture book from childhood: Cheating, but I read this more than actual picture books, so The Essential Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson. (Thank you, sir.)
Book you plan to read next: Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy.
Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished): 
Book that contains your favorite sceneThe Gunslinger by Stephen King.
Favorite book you read in school: Metamorphosis by Ovid.
Favorite nonfiction book: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman.
Favorite fiction book: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. (If you’ve read it, you get the joke.)
Last (good) book you read: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.
Book you’re currently reading: A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin.
Favorite coffee table book: The Onion’s Our Dumb World by The Onion.