collage of some signs for my first friday event this April 2014 at Cook and Shaker.
My brother is a sign painter. He’s incredibly talented, takes commissions and you should talk to him when you need a sign.
Go look at his site.
Sparkle and Blink 51
Last Monday I was invited to read by my friend Tupelo at Quiet Lightning’s monthly event. Quiet Lightning had a contest, Tupelo and Zach Haber won. The two of them had books published and got to invite two writers to read at the book release. You can, and should, buy those books here: BOOKS!
It was amazing and I was really honored to be a part of it. A million thanks to Tupelo, who I was unable to thank publicly before I stammered and scratched through my piece and got off the stage as quickly as possible. Tupelo is the best kind of friend, and I hope everyone knows someone like her.
The reading was great. And it’s hard to describe why I thought so without getting into a long rambling discussion about readings. But I do know that before the reading, I told Amanda that I was done with readings forever, and afterwards I told her, “That made me want to be a writer again.”
Here is the link where you can find video of the event, and the pdf of Sparkle and Blink 51: EVENT LINKS!
Also, if you’re interested, you can read Applejack, which first appeared over on Short Sunday before it was revised and made much better for Sparkle and Blink. WORSE APPLEJACK!
I tried to make pizza dough yesterday. I work from home sometimes and trying to make pizza dough during downtime is one of the perks. There are other perks, and I don’t like to cook, but making bread is just a nice thing to do while your job is trapped in a little box behind your back.
I followed the recipe exactly. I measured everything carefully and did everything I was supposed to and somehow it turned into glue. I only like cooking from a recipe. I like a checklist. I like knowing exactly what I’m doing and why because it keeps me from being involved. I’m good at fucking up so I try to keep my involvement in almost everything to a bare “I’m just following orders” minimum.
I’m not sure what happened, or why, but the dough just turned into this goo that expanded and that escaped the mixing bowl, out over the sides and down into the machine, maybe breaking it.
I tried to clean it, and it got all over me and it was so sticky that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get it off my hands; I thought, “I guess this is your life now, Gum Hands.” It was funny at first, but after about thirty seconds it just became irritating and I wanted it off my hands immediately, I wanted to be done with the whole thing, never eat pizza again.
That all happens at home. When I go into the office, I spend my downtime writing and it’s kind of the same experience.
#ieventuallymademoredoughandsuccessfullyatepizza ##pizzathesisstatements #waysinwhichpizzaandwritingaresimilar #writingandpizzawhilebothdifficultaredelicioustoeatfordinner
"I probably have it the worst." Everybody on the planet.
Today Dan-Bot got invited to Office-Thing:
"DISPROPORTIONATELY EXCITED GREETING FOR OUR ACQUAINTANCE!!"
"Inaudible hello. Horror. No eye contact under any circumstances."
“Can I sign you up for Nonsense Office Activity? Nonsense Office Activity is going to be False List of Superlatives!”
"Politely decline Nonsense Office Activity. Invent physical flaw that would prevent participation. Hold hand to arbitrary place on torso and wince."
"Not listening! At all! Creepy Collective Noun worked hard on this! Repeat Superlatives. Suffer through uncomfortable Dan-silence. Sigh. Mention that Boss will be there as veiled threat."
"Restate refusal. Wait for the All-Clear to walk away. Hold hand over missing button on stained shirt. Cross fingers for Swarm of Bees, Meteor Strike, Four Horsemen, et al.”
"Standing my weirdo ground. Walk towards sign up sheet, hold pen threateningly in Dan’s direction. State that it’s going to be Abject Lie about Importance to the company. Firm tone, nearly yelling."
"Weigh pain vs. relief of jumping out the window. Instead, not-so-politely refuse Nonsense Office Activity again. Open eyes real big and fake-smile like ‘I just said no a whole bunch!’ More silence. Promise self to read book on human interaction."
“Look down in reaction to too-brisk refusal, start to lie about importance of Team Building. Look up to find that Dan ran away so fast that he might never have existed in the first place.”
Reading Murakami for the first time and thinking that I might be an inconsistent writer because I never find guts to grab someone by the arm, pull them along and say over my shoulder “Don’t worry about it, I have it all figured out, it’s going to be great.”
Sketching out a sci-fi story
Official Statement from Nathan Karasik - Floydada, TX - November 1958
“We just figured it was electrical - like it started where [Mrs Karasik] was working in the garage - but it cut right through everything: the roof, corner of my truck and down into the ground. Cut a horse in half, maybe took two or three more.”
“They could have run off I guess. But if they did, they ain’t gonna get far. Someone’s going to find a some blind horses in their rosebushes in the next few days.”
“Every last one. Twelve, sir. Twelve horses. All blinded by whatever.”
“No sir, didn’t make a sound apart from the horse it cut. She screamed. Then there was just the fire and the commotion trying to put it all out and then the neighbors came running.”
“Meg fell in the ditch it made. Broke her leg pretty bad. As soon as you let me go, I’ll head there to see her, but she said on the phone she’s ok, just scared.”
"Not blind, no. Just her leg."
“I’m sixty seven years old. How in the hell am I going to do a thing like that? Dig a ditch three foot deep and a half a mile wide? I got neighbors - ask them if I’ve been out there like that. Think I did that to my horses?”
Working on a thing for a thing. Not sure what I’m talking about yet. Haven’t written a sci-fi story before, figuring it out as I go.
The folks over at The Office of Letters and Light are asking people to write about their first experiences as writers, here’s mine.
The first lie I remember telling was in Kindergarten. It wasn’t a written experience, but it’s the first real ‘story’ I can remember telling. We were all waiting to go home for the day, the whole class standing “two by two” with our “line partners”. I was daydreaming, something weird got in my head and I turned to the little boy next to me and said, “My dad is Pat Sajak, the host of Wheel of Fortune.”
I remember thinking “I wonder if I can just say things and have people believe me.” It turns you you can, people do it all the time. The kid said “Nuh uh.” and I said “No, he is.” and then he said, “Oh, OK.” And that was it. I’d successfully manipulated reality.
I’m still really fascinated by that idea. “I tell you this thing, and whether or not it’s real doesn’t matter. I just made everything different just for having said it.”
An unfinished thing I found
This is a brown split level house on a street that needs more trees. It was advertised as Sunny, but not Sun Beaten. In the summer there is no protection and they haven’t found the money yet to have some trees put in the front of the property. Their new neighbor said that the city owned the trees, that a city tree fell on a neighbors house, who then sued the city, so the city plucked up all the trees and mulched them one by one right there on the street with a big, industrial chipper.
Trees are expensive, the city was wasteful and last Sunday Chris got a sunburn while sleeping in on a Sunday morning. The shade parted just enough, and the sun left a red mark down the back of his bald head like a mohawk. It was embarrassing and he wore a hat to work.
It was a good problem to have - everything else had gone according to plan and they were giddy about the purchase. They could finally set down roots and never, ever talk to a landlord ever again and Laura could finally get a dog. They’d both wanted a dog for years, but she refused, until they got a house. He suggested a small dog, something compact but with lots of personality, like a Jack Russell or a Corgi. But she got almost angry at the suggestion, made an angry and confused face like he’d just revealed himself to be a cat person, and dismissed it outright. “I don’t want to drag some tiny dog around the park for 20 minutes before it gets exhausted and I have to carry it home. I want to run with it. I need something that can keep up.”
On rough days at work, she would send him pictures of lean, muscular dogs. Weimaraners. She liked Weimaraners and tried to have a soft spot for Pit Bulls, but couldn’t get past other people’s fear of them. “They’re fine if you treat them right, I just don’t anyone to get nervous. Plus there’s all the extra paperwork.” There were extra forms to fill out, they had to be registered like a handgun, the dog people wanted to make sure you weren’t going to dog-fight or breed it irresponsibly. Laura just wanted something to catch a frisbee, go hiking and be a shimmering reminder of her remaining vitality.
Every picture she sent him featured a short-haired dog in some action maneuver that showcased lean muscularity and beauty in motion. She’d come to appreciate this about all things: anything that moved, climbed, ran, jumped or danced. She took time off to watch the olympics and called out sick after the super bowl.
The house has a basement, it had to have a basement, she needed to store her exercise equipment. It’d started with a big, inflatable ball. She sat on it while she watched TV (for her ‘core’), she started doing curls during the shows and lunges during the commercials. She’d bought a second big inflatable ball for the office. Had the relationship been healthier, he would have playfully teased her about it or encouraged her, but he just quietly let it happen and didn’t say anything to her about it one way or another. She got healthier, bought more equipment whenever she had a good month. She moved the TV downstairs to watch while she worked out so he started reading and drinking in the evenings.
He was in research, she was in sales, they met at a conference. She said it was a sales conference, he said it was a research conference, they didn’t remember and argued about it whenever it came up. They fell in love honestly enough and in quick flashes, dates, responsibly advancing physical contact according to an article she’d read in a magazine she secretly loved but publicly denounced, she had it all planned out and he just waited for it to happen, he let it wash over him like things did even then. When he was young he thought this way of doing things was freeing, and now it exhausts him and assumes he’s too old to change. They got married quickly, but later in life, and she hurried for children. They bought a house with a yard and three floors for as many kids as they could manage. He wasn’t sure if he wanted any at all, but it didn’t matter, really, nothing mattered. It turned out they couldn’t, one of them was wrong somehow, it didn’t matter but of course it matters, doctors visits and blood tests. Then the enormous sadness and the inflatable rubber balls.
The point of all this is to say: He wasn’t sure when she was going to leave, but figured it was soon. He wasn’t sure it was right to suggest that she stay, and opted instead to say nothing. This, he thought, was a different tactic, though it would seem the same. This was another way of doing nothing, a different shade of doing nothing, he was a connoisseur of nothing and he could tell the difference. This was nothing as activity, as a means to a positive, something, end. This was not nothing for nothings sake, and he came to this conclusion based on how tired it made him to do nothing in this particular instance. It made him physically drained to resist not saying anything to her about the relationship, the phantom kids, the rubber balls, it was unlike his other nothing, which while also exhausting, included no resistance of any kind. He reasoned that his involvement would only sour things further, and figured the best result was to let her work through it as quickly as she could, and come back to him in due time as he had done with her several times since the invasion of her change into his life.