At work on a Sunday, having been at work on a Saturday, having etc. Not complaining. Possibly burned out, but not complaining. Entire body sore. A healthy sun-baked cousin to a headache echoes hours after running 8 miles. To the ballpark and back. I’ve returned to Hal Higdon. I haven’t had coffee in about a week. This is my personal webdiary. Lack of coffee kinda kills the blog impulse. A friend “stole” a line for a story from a blog post I wrote. The story is now to be published in a university-based literary journal. When I’m finished with my copy of the journal, I will mail it to the first person who guesses (in the comments section of this post) which line she “stole” (really, she asked permission). What a megalomaniacal contest! And so on. My tone. My library. I made hummus from Bittman. I was surprised to drop a tblsp. of paprika in there. I doubled the amt of garlic and lemon called for. I am a liar. There are several blogs that report on book culture, in the US and abroad. Animals don’t think of zoos as prisons, because animals don’t know what prisons are. They don’t really think at all, in the way you’re thinking of. I waited too long to pick up my copy of Emmanuel Bove’s My Friends from the SFPL so they threw it back into the stacks. The words loaves and loathes are similar, but that doesn’t mean you should hate bread. It does mean you should never eat meat or drink alcohol or do drugs ever again. It does mean you should never pay more than $11 for a haircut. Oh not this again. Soon he’ll be asking “readers” for suggestions of books about gentrification. Soon he’ll be like Victor Bâton, “without friends, without luggage.” A friend is bored so he’s likely moving back to San Francisco. What was wrong with the farm outside Santa Cruz? Didn’t they have the internet there? I know there are lots of yoga classes, but are there any classes in the Bay Area I can take where I learn how to shapeshift? Wouldn’t mind being a dog for an afternoon. Have I ever showed you this? Hahahahaha. I hope you’re feeling better. I liked Greenberg. I hope my email full of platitudes was of some use. I hope your banana fever subsides. Dear Emily, thanks for FedExing me the granola I liked! I hope you have fun at school tomorrow
I rigged a giant foam finger to the top of my SUV, so my Explorer is referring to itself, bouncing down Pico
My dad’s subscription
to Wired in 1995—[womanly regard??]
Leaving verbs out of a poem
To make it sound Poemy
Do you think foam is funny, you fuck?
Wish you were a washed-up professional mtn biker?
Wish you raced with a plastic water-bottle full of espresso?
Berms? Where’s Jon? I thought I saw him the other day.
Question-litanies are poemy.
In MFA programs they teach you to cut out the more self-reflexive stanzas?
—[Histrionic and relieved protests] No! You’re “invaluable”! What else will you do? You’ll be hanging by your neck from the rafters of the graduate student lounge by 2014. You know hanging yourself makes you involuntarily void your bowels, right?
—I thought that was a Wild West Tale. That won’t happen to me in the Midwest. The Midwest has a protective psychic mojo for me. The Age of Wire and String is nonfiction, as far as I’m concerned. This blog, read by your coworkers, makes it difficult for you to make the argument that you’re “too busy” to take on new responsibilities.
The periodical I work for had a typo in it. I am going blind. Typos are like tiny optical illusions. Is that microskull really a wee, skull-shaped loaf? It’s hard to tell. It’s easy to miss.
—That’s not a reason to quit. You’re like the—
— …drummer from Def Leppard. I know you, Barry.
[Slowly zoom in on the fan. Then, using a Video Toaster, the fan blades chop/dissolve into the next scene. The next scene is identical.]
—When the band sings the song with the lyrics that refer to the name of the town they’re playing in–
—I know. You love that.
—I do. The people who shout their nonverbal appreciations —
—You love them. I do too.
DERRICK: [Licking the salt from the fingers of the bird lord again?]
JULIE: [Nope.] Studying.
DERRICK, I MEAN HIS COUSIN, : thasts cool. wanna watch a TV?
JULIE: Ok, which one
DERRICK [opens trenchcoat to reveal horrible red agitated member]: This one! [Awesome heavy metal soundtrack begins.]
[Supertitles over careering hand-held unmodified home VHS footage of an empty living room, fireplace roaring, maybe some stockings taped to the mantle:
[DERRICK returns] What’s the score [i mean his cousin] laziest instructor?? [delete key gets stuck, a generation of talented hacks and prophets falls under the digital knife. your girlfriend and my girlfriend board a small craft. it embarks from sloate pond at 7 fifteen in the morning. it’s a small pond in golden gate park, dimensions exact, but they manage through a miracle of imagination and physics and literature and crying to break the boundary of the ponds [EDITOR STET MISSING APOSTR., EXTRA S, STET ALL TYPOS,] circumference and they blast forth across the sea in early dusk. If you need a referent for the night sea voyage let’s have it be Homer and not Eggers/Sendak/Jonze, OK?
BETH: That’s fine.
[Fade to pink]
[Fade to black]
[text scrolls across the bottom of the black screen:
If a marginal dipweed dimcracks the buzz
[fade back up, matthew broderick is there]
MATTHEW BRODERICK: Dimweed, it’s a clownfoot, I’ll club ’em
AMBITIOUS WOMAN: I’d love to be involved, in whatever possible way.
MB: OK. I’m sure we could find something.
AW: OK, Great. I’d love to see you eat my BlackBerry.
MB: Very well. [He takes her BlackBerry phone and dunks it into a bowl of beaten eggs, then drops it into a bowl of flour. Dash of salt. And then right into the frying pan.]
ANTHROPOMORPHIZED MFA PROGRAM: I’m sleeping with Harper’s.
MB: Anthropomorphized Harper’s?
RUDY GORNIK: We have to go to Russia tomorrow.
AW: The former Soviet Union?
[dissolve to DERRICK in the same hearthy living room, this time stable camera shot through gauze. High production value. Sexy teenagers, Tight turtlenecks. Loafs of loathing warming off-camera in a megascented kitchen with the sunlight you remember.]
DERRICK: I am ready. A cat. Dander’s fine.
POLYMORPHOUS AMORA: Several sheets to the wind
DERRICK: [To someone] No. [To Sarah] Sarah, putting the pain into paint.
SARAH: In my portrait, do you mean?
DERRICK: No… don’t try to strike terror into my
SARAH: I didn’t mean to strike your terror
DERRICK: It’s not my terror that’s struck. The terror ends up inside of me, but it’s not there before it’s struck
SARAH: That’s why it gets struck
DERRICK: right but it’s not like there’s dormant terror there that gets struck and vibrates into real terror. like a cold gong that gets struck with the mallet of emergency
SARAH: I do think its that way [EDITOR STET MISSING APOSTROPHE]
DERRICK: It’s not like a cold gold gong in my heart that gets struck with the hot fearful emergency of your presence, babe
SARAH: I think it is that way
DERRICK: i’m contradicting myself, I think my heart isn’t empty of terror, and then terror gets imported from somewhere else — it’s more like there’s a cold gong, emblazoned with chinese characters, ideograms I cannot translate, not even Pound could pound the meaning out of
DERRICK: Shammy. Listen:
DERRICK: it’s dormant and silent and cold and then I see your face and a mallet made from your head stuck on the end of a stick, your face covered in a calfskin bag tied together with leather strikes the cold center of the gong hard and it booms and I am thus filled with terror
SARAH: Terror is a cold mercury liquid that surges? A soundless blind thunderstruck rumbling?
DERRICK: Sure. It’s a bad joke on a good tv show. It’s a fucking recourse, jazzman
Steam rises from its beans and meatflecks. It billows politely around a dollop of cold sour cream.
As you gaze into the stew, my face—the face of a young, obese Steven Spielberg, “replete” with undirty baseball cap and full Jewish hair fanning out from beneath the cap’s circumference—appears to you in the chili-steam.
My spirit is evoked by the hot bowl of cooling chili!
Here I am! Who has summoned me?
I have bad news! You are pregnant!
No, that’s not fair. No one’s pregnant. I’m writing this Tale of the Beans for myself, because I feel burnt out.
I’ve more or less finished “Big project number one.” Now I have “time” to finish Big Project Number Two.
But my brain and me bones won’t cooperate.
I feel up against—a figurative wall.
My posture is bad, my breath bad.
I need a full day of Turkish Delight and instructional sex videos and Everything Is Terribleand hash amulets and K-holey sensory deprivation chambers and home fries and Chocolate Labrador Affection-Slaves before I can “restart” and knock BP#2 outta the park.
Talkin loud about your bullshit weekend on yr cellphone
bad communicators I need things from
rumor-mongering in flip-flops
the tickle monster (ambivalent)
Eating an endless bowl of soup whilst reading something that lays flat by itself (saddle-stitched magazine, broken-spined novel)
hugging naked women (sorry just kidding)
my good personal friend who brought me an awesome gift pak just now containing:
playing drums behind messy, “avant-pop” guitar played by a close friend
reading poetry aloud whilst drunk
drunk weeping emotional confessions of platonic love
90s releases on Matador & Drag City
friendly non-threatening dj
a short-story collection I was excited to read which ended up contrived and annoying
the feeling that that well-dressed handsome asshole is going to steal my girlfriend
fear of The Road–style apocalypse where I am crippled by night-blindness and urbane cluelessness w/r/t farming and self-defense and so am helpless as zombies/marauders rape my loved ones and disembowel me with improvised weapons
Pickles, other pickled vegetables
british tv, british fiction, hypothetical british or angolophile or at least anglophone girlfriend
martin amis, david lodge, julian barnes, will self, douglas adams, kingsley amis
DFW, fiction and non, plus all interviews with and articles about and reviews of
unexpected sexual encounters with wild animals (gazelles, rhinos)
unexpected emails from charming, literate geniuses
really smart little kids who are interested in what you have to say and who you are even though they should be repelled by your oafish weird-smelling adult self-consciousness
the idea of blogging seems really weird. I don’t know why writers do it. The idea of writing in a way that’s not careful seems kind of insane if you’re a fiction writer, or a long-form nonfiction writer. Maybe there’s something invigorating about it, but for me so much of the process is worrying about every word — just belching a bunch of stuff out there seems strange. Also the web is really weird. I don’t like the idea that stuff you write is just going to be on there, and people will be able to access it whenever, forever. A piece of writing should have its own little half-life and when people are no longer interested in reading or anthologizing, it should be forgotten.
Surely in general the writing that’s on blogs isn’t as careful as the kind of spit-polished prose that goes into journals or collections. But there’s nothing about the medium itself that means the writers using it aren’t being careful, and are just belching. Which is to say: revision is possible on the internet, and there’s PLENTY of belching going on in journals and books published by major publishers. And doesn’t all writing begin with a belch, a burp that then gets refined and revised until it’s distilled into a few vaporized bay leaves, a few million atoms of slow-simmered chili steam?