Archive for the ‘writing’ Category
Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
One time (right now) I read this article about some guy giving a college graduation speech. It’s this speech. And then I rewrote it as my own speech, which I prefer better, because I’m young and selfish, just like the guy giving the original speech expects me to be.
What are old people good for, besides ridicule? Tales of regret.
Once, I was poor, and it was awful; once, I worked at a slaughterhouse, and it wasn’t. I’ve imbibed poop-water in a distant land, and shot a hockey puck at a girl I fancied. Once, a mousey nervous-hair-chewing new girl came to town, and moved away, and I was kind of kind to her when she was around, though mostly she wasn’t; that’s because I was selfish. Everyone thinks they’re the invincible lead in their own story within a greater world; it’s not that we don’t care, we just can’t see outside our stories.
It makes being kind tough, but as we get older, our reflexes dull and we can’t play FPS games anymore, so instead we play casual Facebook games, and we learn to slow down, and be less selfish, and give our money to Gameloft, and Zynga, and others. We realize through endless microtransactions that we’re more of a minor cog in the machine than the lead of the story.
And like that, life grinds you down into dust, but it’s like fairy dust. And if you have kids, you sprinkle them with it. Many of you have decades of the stuff on you, and inside you; you’re breathing it in right now, your parents’ lives.
I’d say “don’t be a dick”, but some Trekkie already made that speech, so I’ll just say this: In 80 years or so, I’ll be 134 with robot legs and laser eyes and a lot of cats, and hopefully some of you will have come to the same realizations I have and become kind, and when you are as kind as the Element of Kindness, and we’re all living in space, drop me a line, and I’ll say “I told you so”, and we can arm-wrestle with our cybernetic future arms and toss back a space brew or seven. Cheers.
Sunday, May 25th, 2008
One day, years ago, I wrote the following, stream-of-consciousness style, immediately upon waking. Something about crapping out a sort of story out of my subconscious while still in a half-asleep daze makes me smile. Here it is:
She wore a robe of burgundy and gold. Her home was made of felt and porcelain, satin and ceramic. It was too small, as if caving in on itself, and stuffy, though not suffocating. I felt as if I weren’t there.
“The doddering old fool”, I heard from my left. Out of a cupboard-like cubbyhole of a room came a slinking, slimy hag. Pot calling the kettle black, indeed.
“She’s dropped her wishes,” the old lady continued, as if I knew her, what she spoke of, and that it was somehow of great importance. “Go on!” she continued, with more urgency, “pick it up, before she realizes she’s lost it. You don’t expect to get to market empty-handed?”
I was in a dreamlike state, but even from a logical perspective, her words were confounding. Speaking of wishes as a tangible, singular object? Going to market? None of this made sense to me, and this house was beginning to feel like an attic in a dollhouse.
I glanced down the hall and saw a small staff made of white ceramic, delicately painted with complex scribbles of gold paint, and with a bright pale blue robin’s egg—or what outwardly seemed like one. No, a stone with an egg-like appearance. As the cupboard-dwelling hag vanished into the ether and her babbling ceased, the hall became bright, and a draft of a spring morning wafted in.
It was sunny, and glowing; it was Sunday morning.
I picked up the object which purportedly held the wishes of the lady of the house.
She wore burgundy and gold, and held a gold and blue and white staff of wishes, and now she was gone.
“Sunday morning tea and cake, everything methodically laid out.” As I ambled downstairs, that’s what I thought. Rattan chairs with pillows, tea cups of the most ornate sort, delicately prepared pastries, laid out on golden tray, and a view of a wood outside. Everything was methodically prepared.
I sat down, and I ate the pastries, and I drank the tea—both cups—and made my way outside.
Sunday, January 15th, 2006
I’m getting old,
not because I’m nearing 25, for that is quite young,
but because I’m beginning to see my life flow in chunks.
I’ve mostly tried everything already;
everything, that is,
that I had any intention of trying in the first place.
The rest, infinite though it might be, doesn’t pique my interest now.
Perhaps by moving on, fluidly through the years, I’ll come to want more,
and find myself delving into something then
that I would have never considered today.
Or perhaps I’ll find myself having skipped through several more chunks
until I can no longer say that I am young,
until I have to begin counting down.
I can’t say that I was ever bright-eyed and hopeful,
and by lately, I mean during the past half-dozen years–
I’ve been stuck
in a loop from which I can’t seem to find an exit. And it’s boring me.
God, how it bores me.
I don’t want to give chase anymore.
but I can’t settle down.
It’s not that I don’t want to. I can’t find the opportunity.
God, give me the opportunity, and I will.
Tuesday, June 28th, 2005
I was sifting through my old documents folder again, and thought this little short story was interesting. People who knew me years back knew that I was shy, quiet, and unopinionated, but those who’ve met me in recent years find that almost unbelievable, because I’ve done an about-face. This short story serves almost as a manifesto in personifying this change.
“No More Mr. Nice Guy” (7/7/2001)
She told him about how much he meant to her, how he was such a trusted friend. “I can tell you anything and you’ll always listen. You’re the only person who really understands me” she’d say. And she’d go on and on about how he was the sort of person she hoped to spend her life with, and if only she could find someone like that everything would be fine. His stomach would turn at these saccharine statements of hers. He wondered to himself which was more gut-wrenching, her pathetic television-derived romanticism, his apparent non-datable friend-only status, or his desire for someone so obviously shallow.
This whole affair probably wasn’t much more sophisticated than the teen drama formula. You put two romantic folks really close together for a while, and one of them is bound to fall in love with the other. In his case, he was the first to cave in, and because she was already a “good friend”, he felt he should be more caring and sensitive than guys tend to be, and that was what landed him on the friends-only list. He became the sort of person to get advice from, to whine about other guys to. And after a year being consigned to this status, he decided he’d had enough.
It’s not like he really cared for her; she was someone he couldn’t have, and therein lay the challenge that kept him persistently attached to her, waiting for an opening he knew would not come. His sensitivity and caring and warmth were really little more than acting. And as such, he was sure he could cut her off with one cold swipe.
During one of her typical advice-seeking sessions, he decided to throw in a “you know…” and follow it with some silence. The kind of silent moment that says “I’m about to say something really important and can’t think of the right words and this moment is really awkward and somewhat embarrassing and I’m starting to wish I hadn’t just spoken.” It worked quite nicely, and he pressed on with the “I love you and I think we’re meant to be together” bit, speaking in her own saccharine language.
During the requisite silence that followed, he stared at her, gauging her reaction. First nothing, then a slight movement backward with a thinking expression. “She’s going to give me the ‘you’re like a brother’ crap or the ‘I don’t see you in that way’ thing,” he thought.
And like an automaton, she reacted. In a hushed whisper of a voice, she said, “that’s so nice… but….” It had to be calculated. No one’s deeper recesses can actually be composed of such banal bullshit. No one could be speaking through such a programmed script without doing it on purpose. He wondered what piece of stale wording she would throw up next.
Did she think this was a teen flick, and that some Top 40 ballad would swell from behind us at any moment? Couldn’t she make a complete sentence? It had to be calculated. Then the clincher came, and he never saw this one coming:
“…I met this great guy…”–
It was a reflex. Really. He continued, “What you meant to say is that you’ve met another asshole I’ll end up advising you about. And you’ll tell me how the perfect man for you is, in a word, me.” He was acting as much as she, his words as calculated as hers. “Meanwhile, I’m telling you I’m in love with you, and that’s the best you can come up with?”
She wore a blank stare, as if she really didn’t know what he was talking about. It was time for the big exit.
“Keep your doomed relationships to yourself and fuck off.”
With that, he walked off, disappearing before he could hear or see her reaction. And as he walked away, he thought, “People take you for granted.” Perhaps it was muddled up or misplaced, but blowing up was tremendously satisfying. “You’ve got to let them know you’re not just an advice website,” he continued. “It’s not about what I do for others, but what I do.”