There’s a problem in the garden partition; it’s not the stupid’s fault for being stupid. I don’t try too hard. Failure gathers in the bleaches of my belly. Sara, blending into the evening, marches along the low garden wall, worrying her outfit’s straps while she considers the problem… and Sara wants to know: What problem? And, actually, what partition? When you were with the woman who hired you to check out her typography (in a city, in a women’s room), it bleached me. I made a joke about a person who eats a dinner designed for an animal. “The omnivore’s dilemma: What if you ate Fancy Feast for dinner instead of all that old tuna salad?” I must have understood it as a joke because then I said, “Just kidding.”
DARREN: My favorite kind of music is trust-fund punk.
KARREN: My favorite kind of tunnel is carpal. My favorite academic trend is the linguistic turn
DARREN: like in the 80s?
KARREN: yeah. I felt so good when scholarship took a linguistic turn
DARREN: One time you told me that you thought my blog was really well proofread
KARREN: it is!
DARREN: But I only thought, Ouch! faint praise!
KARREN: what’s faint about well proofed?
DARREN: i want it to be blazing and arresting, not clean
DARREN: who will run the frog hospital?
KARREN: who will boost our followers?
DARREN: Steve Roeggenbuck will run the frog hospital
KARREN: we can’t name our son Ben Smith because he won’t be googleable
DARREN: I didn’t study search-engine optimization in college to help inform what we’re gonna name our son. anyway i thought we were gonna name him derrick?
KARREN: like oil derrick?
DARREN: Like derek jeter?
KARREN: you’re embarrassing me. Have we gotten everything on our list?
DARREN: we still need salt-breath
[they turn down aisle 9, where the salt-breath is stocked]
DARREN: here’s the salt breath
KARREN [selecting a less-expensive brand]: let’s get this kind. that kind is eleven dollars!
DARREN: OK. I like this brand tho
KARREN: 11 dollars!
DARREN: OK, get the cheaper kind, but it’s not as salty. Or as breathy. It tastes like evaporated seaweed milk
KARREN: kan we talk about theater and radio and improvisation and the experience of reading plays or reading radio drama scripts
DARREN: darling i’d prefer not to in the supermarket. can it wait till we get home?
KARREN: I dunno. did you hear annie baker on WTF?
DARREN: yes. a fine reminder that self-deprecation can sound 100 times more self-involved than self-aggrandizement
KARREN: or you mean that self-deprecation can just be another form of self-aggrandizement
DARREN: that’s a finer way to put it
KARREN: do we like these Deep Noodles?
DARREN: I’ve never tried them
[tosses the Deep Noodles with nonchalance into the brimming cart]
[a loud trust-fund punk song begins playing on the supermarket stereo]
KARREN: but Baker was sharp and charming in that interview
DARREN: i know. it was just when they were talking about the Pulitzer that it bummed me out
KARREN: what if I’m more interested in writing dialogue that’s read on the page than I am writing something that’ll be performed?
DARREN: watching tv or film, the only time i’m conscious of the writing is after the fact. i only think “that was well written” once it’s over. as opposed to obviously reading a novel or a poem where every sentence is another opportunity to evaluate — and consciously appreciate — the writing
KARREN: sure because the writing is submerged in film or tv or theater — you have so much else to evaluate first — the performance, the images, the sound
DARREN: why don’t more people publish novels in dialogue?
KARREN: Because they have to feed their families.
[Throws a vegan suckling pig shrink-wrapped in hot-pink plastic into the cart, which buckles and implodes]
DRANK TOO MUCH COFFEE
STILL DRINKING COFFEE
UP AT 5:30AMISH
WHY DO SO MANY MENNONITE FAMILIES SHOP AT NATURAL GROCERS?
SERIOUS INQUIRY; PLEASE ANSWER IN THE COMMENTS
WOKE EARLY OF MY OWN ACCORD. BABY-RELATED BUT I COULDA FALLEN BACK ASLEEP IF I COULDA
THE ONLY THING MORE “SELF-INVOLVED” THAN BLOGGING ABOUT THE MINUTIA OF YOUR LIFE
IS GENTLY ANONYMOUSING — ANONYMYZING — ANONDYNE DYNASTY METASTAZING — OCCLUDING THE DETAILS OF MY OWN LIFE AS IF ANYONE CARES
EMPTIED THE DISHWASHER, CHECKED OUT THE 6 AM CST FACEBOOK FEED
BEEN A WHILE SINCE I’VE BLOGGED YOU, GIRL
FOR THE NEXT WEEK AND A HALF AT LEAST I’M AN ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OCCLUDED!!!!
I’VE GOT CLASS IN 20 MINUTES
IF A STOODENT GOOGLES ME THEY FIND THIS BLOGPOST
WHEN I FIRST STARTED THINKING ABOUT TRYING TO “BE A TEACHER” I PASSWORD PROTECTED THIS BLOG
BUT THEN JUSTIN — HIS ACTUAL, REAL NAME — EMAILED ME SWEETLY DEMANDING I TAKE OFF THE PASSWORD
AND NOW I AM MANY MONTHS BEHIND IN OWING JUSTIN AN IN-DEPTH EMAIL ABOUT AN “OCCLUDED PROJECT”
BUT I SORTA DOUBT HE’S GONNA SEE THIS,
PLUS I “LIKED” SOME OF HIS RECENT GOOD NEWS ON FB, THAT PROBABLY BOUGHT ME ANOTHER WEEK, RIGHT?
THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE
I’M HERE IN MY SHARED OFFICE AT THE OCCLUDED U
NICE VIEW OF ELM STREET. A BIT OF PEACE PARK
TODAY IN CLASS WE’RE SKYPING WITH A RADICAL YOUNG JOURNALIST WHOSE ACQUAINTANCE I’VE MADE
HE’S AN EDITOR AT OCCLUDED NAME OF MAGAZINE, CURRENTLY ENJOYING A SURGE IN RESPECTABILITY OR AT LEAST MORE PPL TAKING IT SERIOUSLY DUE TO HBO SERIES AND SPIKE IN INTL INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT JOURNALISM, BUT I AM A FAIRLY ACCOMPLISHED STAND UP COMEDIAN, SO TEACHING WORKS OUT FINE
AROUND 6:30 THE HUMAN INFANT WOKE UP, I STRAPPED HIM TO MY THORAX AND WE TOOK THE DOG TO THE PARK, THE GRASS WAS BE-SOAKED IN DEW
AN OVERFRIENDLY A.M. BIKER SAID HELLO IN AN AGGRESSIVE WAY, SORT OF LIKE “HEY WHY IS IT I WHO MUST BE THE FIRST TO SAY HELLO?” MY RESPONSE WOULD HAVE BEEN, “I HAVE A DEGENERATIVE RETINAL CONDITION AND DIDN’T SEE YOU, YOU OVERFRIENDLY LEATHER-SKINNED MEGA-DAD”
BEEN READING A BIT OF CAROL DEPPE’S THE RESILIENT GARDENER, THINKING ABOUT PLANTING SOME RESILIENT VEGETABLES IN THE OLD BACK YARD
LAST NIGHT THE MISSUS AND I HAD A GOOD LAUGH RE A PASSAGE IN THE BOOK I READ ALOUD TO HER, WHEREIN DEPPE WAS RECOMMENDING TO THE READER A BOOK BY JARED DIAMOND ABOUT CATASTROPHE THAT INFORMED HER CHAPTER ON CATASTROPHE AND CLIMATE CHANGE, I AM PARAPHRASING BUT DEPPE WAS LIKE “LIKE MOST GREAT BOOKS THAT COVER A BROAD RANGE OF HUMAN HISTORY THIS BOOK IS VERY HARD TO SUMMARIZE, IN FACT IT’S INDESCRIBABLE” — I’M NOT DOING IT JUSTICE BUT SUCH A POWERFUL BOOK RECOMMENDATION ACCOMPANIED BY A SUBLIME CONFESSION OF the failure of language, it made us laff.
Should probably head over to class now, guys. I realized I should be supplementing the steady stream of nonsense stream of consciousness I fill the baby’s ears with more useful language acquisition naming time, like “TREE” and “DOG” , so my internal monologue is now infantalized and externalized; “the doggie is shitting in the woods; dogs love to shit in the woods; do you love that doggie? the doggie loves to chase the ball”
AND SO ON
A: I HEAR YOU HAVE A BABY
A: When you have a baby you don’t have time to do ANYTHING
F: That’s because babies take up so much time
A: I know
F: What is it that babies take so much time doing?
A: The babies are very busy, they are constantly reading dense texts and challenging your preconceived notions about things
F: Like what sorts of things?
A: Like … arbitrary–
A+F [in unison] …arbitrary taxonomies of genre!?!
F: I’m bummed out again about how I don’t feel like I know how to make sense. Or, maybe, I hate making sense. Making nonsense is much more fun.
A: It’s hard to tell the difference between making nonsense is more fun in the way that smoking lots of pot and watching Adult Swim is more fun, or making nonsense is more fun in that you are an acolyte of Jarry and Ionesco and Stein and live your life in a radical subversion of standard bourgeoise modes of expression etc
F: I think I sometimes milk that ambiguity. Like I pretend to be a highbrow Dadaist when in fact I’m just waiting for the next fortnight of pajamas and Xavier Renegade Angel
A: Xavier Renegade Angel
F: But Xavier Renegade Angel is made by guys who split that difference. They’re students of Gordon Lish, they seem like they’ve done their homework, and they might have pretensions for their show to have a depth or at least a terminal bleakness that makes the comedy that much more “fucked up”
A: Did you ever check your email during the dark time of hospital visits and black veiled hospitalizations
F: There’s never been a time in my life when I haven’t checked my email every fifty minutes
A: remember when you first went camping and they explained what the trowel was for?
F: Yes. The trowel is for digging a little pit for you to shit into. Then you wipe with leaves, and bury your poo like a tiny funeral rite.
A: That’s a lot of work for a poo.
F: You’re not pooing so much in the forest. Maybe once a day if you’re lucky
A: Also not a lot of urgent emails to respond to in the woods.
F: Are you pining for the pines, blood?
A: The grass is always greener in the other bong. I had my dream job, and now I have my other dream job. Someday I won’t have any dream job and I’ll be shooting squirrels for sustenance
F: Shooting them with what?
A: An inherited crossbow.
F: Inherited from who?
A: A girl I met on the internet
F: Why did she leave you the crossbow in her will?
A: She said she liked my blog.
F: How did she die?
A: She faked her own suicide.
F: So she’s still alive?
A: No. She actually killed herself, but she didn’t mean it.
F: You know how if you commit suicide you don’t get in to harvard I mean heaven?
F: that’d be funny if whoever the last person you slept with got to rewrite your will if you ended up killing yourself
That’d be funny if the guy who said to you “that’d be funny if” in the cafe naked next to your workshirt in San Francisco, the dairy caffeine cafe with the watercolor timestamp art on sale for the wall next to the Green Giant, the jolly fellow near the bathrooms at Ritual Coffee Roasters had a handbill in his pocket that said Remember That Time? And his smile would resemble (in the poems by the coffeeshop poets of the neighborhood) a Trademark Symbol, and in his pocket a kangaroo-shaped playbill would reveal an idea like wouldn’t it be funny you know how when you work from home you invariably inhale sheets of graham crackers (apologies to Kevin Moffett, and or baby carrots,) over the sink, fuck it there’s nothing left in the fridge boiling veggie dogs just because you’re at home and the only stress outlet is to turn your face into a compostable sink disposal, well the funny wouldn’t it be if watch there’s a hip coffee shop like Roasters, but it’s got a fridge and a microwave and a bunch of free food that when you get stressed out you just go up and eat? Plus a separate normal pastry display with normal pastries for sale that all the people with dignity still pay money for and get on ceramic plates, but in a separate part of the cafe there’s a dirty fridge with leftover Thai food and frozen veggie pups and cantaloupe beans and whatever else that people who get a terrifying work-email at 4 p.m. just go hose-happy on blasting the babka till it’s gone.
Trundling up the path, snowy silence, bullshit poems alight on branches like proper ravens. Fatman lost in the zendo can’t even feel the stringcheese in his fleece’s breast pocket. An elipsis travels up and down the length of your cock, why the fuck are your daughters reating my erotc poetry blog… scratch that… nyc pastries + flowers
feeling free in the zendo a professional lifeguard reads the blurbs on the back of your self-published book at the self-funded book release party craftily, hilariously putting his empty plastic wine glass in his breast pocket. Mallarme reference TK, he reads aloud, having flipped to a page at random. “Oh fuck,” you say, “is that actually in there?” Taking the book to look, you see that your placeholder text has accidentally made it into print, you’d meant to insert a Mallarme reference here but I guess you never got around to it… “Fuck,” you say again, handing the book back to the guest, who wears an eyepatch and has a fake parrot sewn to his shoulder and teeters as if wearing a pegleg though looking down it’s true he has two sturdy legs overhung with slate chinos. “Pity the placeholder,” no-one says. The next song comes on shuffle and it begins with an accellerated secular church bell, the kind that bongs the time in stately patient bongs but the clever electronic musician has accellerated the bongs so it seems to be chiming 4,000 o’clock and it’s driving you wild with pleasure, to hear this now, and the embarrassing Mallarme TK gaffe feels decades old and already celebrated as a hilarious and ultimately instructive gaffe. A mewling toddler does not say, “Gaffe Giraffe,” but she does do something specific revealing that there are toddlers at the book event TK TK. A breast presses against the window, begging to be let inside the gallery. A red-breasted titmouse flutters its paws next to the tiny DVD console. A duste mote reveals itself to be hilariously in tune with the matter at hand, I mean with the Remains of the Day, I mean with the Remains of the DVD, I mean with the reina, the queen, my darling. Hate and hope in equal measure suffuse the air above the plate of sandwiches, sandwiches which have tried so hard to be here and succeed, mostly, except looking again at them they seem mostly gone, where do sandwiches go at parties like this? I saw people eating sandwiches but that seems unconnected to the absent, devastated, crumb-strewn plaza near the greasy checkboard mom flannel plane that is what some once called That Table. My nephew is here, his name is Aristotle said an obese cartoon calico cat. I got string cheese in my pockets, Aristotle said. He moved his elbows and knees like he was composing a filigree’d poem for his aunts. He had spent most of the party in the basement behind a piano participating in a jam session with Needles, the drummer, who performed using eggbeaters instead of drumsticks; Palimpsest, on bass, who didn’t know what any of the knobs on the amp were for beyond the main volume control, but still managed to fiddle with them between every song, giving him a different sound each time, playing literally hundreds of different notes throughout the course of the evening, but in which order he played the notes I’m sure you had to be there to know, and of course P. Raichport, tenure-track professor of fiction at Lathe University at Kansas City, who is so clearly based on a real person that even the dimples in her cellulite seem to spell a constellation of ciphers that you can rearrange and glyph and wait what who is that based on no one actually OK nevermind
If there’s coffee inside that samovar a fake smile — more of a wince
If Plato if Platonic if there’s a Platonic sort of Platoish Plato vibe here
Fussy sugar bowl, heaped high with hepatitis
Paul “Fussy” Titus and I had a motocross moment together, piggybacked on an amusement, then there came a “gift from the chef”
Rapeseed and hemlock, Vance put a quarter in the free jukebox, the bartender’s face as he watched Vance was a scrim of novelty fake puke,
My father in law’s gastroenteritis flared up on Halloween, just as my favorite writer‘s hard drive failed on the upper east side, while he was stuck somewhere waiting for the A, C, E
My impish sister registered a Twitter account for my grandfather’s pacemaker. @Peacemakerzz
I hoped we cancelled that order before it shipped
Plain song plain wrapper, Barnes and Noble’s / shawarmas in love
ex girlfriend knows bounds
perfect wife brushes an elegant lock of the universe from her eyes
probably gave myself type two diabetes eating leftover Halloween candy
I think she went to Yale
Pressure pretty labial twilight; a hangover in the Metreon is worth two in the Bush administration
My ambition is to eat the rest of this candy and then an hour later eat a hearty normal dinner. His ambition seemed to be to write a masterful novel
The worst kind of writer is a brilliant one; necessary is a euphemism for working-class, intelligence is overrated and superabundant among men and women. If you think most people are stupid I think you’re a part of the problem; Hey these leggings aren’t going to wear themselves, buddy:
A shapeshifting Native American shaman enrolled in our MFA program this afternoon! I can’t wait to read his poems. His name is Bear-Leg. I saw his driver’s license–it said Bear-Leg Alan Cheuse.
—Here, you don’t have a job?
—No, I’m all alone, on a computer not hooked up to the internet, drinking a craft beer out of a can, composing an email to you.
—It’s almost like we’re having a beer together.
—How are your studies?
—You mean the life of the mind?
—How is your life?
—My mind hurts.
—How is your salad duty?
—I’ve been making bad salads. Bag salads.
—How is your girlfriend?
—I had a dream that she died.
—But she’s alive?
—She’s working on a new translation of Émile Zola’s Germinal (1885). It’s an experimental translation where she takes liberties with the text. Instead of mineworkers, her version of the novel centers around a group of flowers.
—Is there any other kind?
—The flowers take place in an election year and the gummy part of my car’s tyres.
—Huh. I think Uncle’s gone into one of his Tish-rages again, Paulice–
—Right. Grab the corduroy. A wide wale will be wanted for tonight. Oh, hush, Uncle; please don’t. Stop fussing. It’s Auld Hallow’s Ween, for aunt grable’s sake. We musn’t brackish the whoolinancy — I mean the whoolery.
—Genre’s got a beer-boner for stoners tonight, Barbara. Barbara.
—I can’t tell if you want this exclamation mark.
—I don’t want just any exclamation point, Mark. [Pause, applause.] I want yours. [Renewed, sustained applause. A child is born.]
—This boner’s gone free.
—Now that you’re a dad, and a city councilman, you mustn’t post pseudohomoerotic flash fiction on your blog. You must only post outspoken 5 point rejections of Romney’s 5 point plan and so forth.
—You remind me of the news.
—The fuzzy part with no skin.
—That’s called the Purloined Lettuce. [A mouth.] I am studying Botany with your Aunt.
—My nude aunt?
—I have a newborn baby. A child. I haven’t slept. No longer drink coffee. Go Tigers.
— I expect you’ll want to tell me about your craft beer in a can, now.
—Yes. I bought it at the supermarket with some hummus and the halloween candy. Came in a six pack just like a set of Diet Dr. Pepper, but in fact it’s an intensely hoppy microbrew from Whole Foods, Colorado!
—Durango. That candy’s not vegan
—Let’s get personal. I know writing on your blog makes you miss San Francisco.
—Of course. Who doesn’t? But the thing San Francisco doesn’t know is that I took all my shit with me to Missouri so I still have it so if I want to look at my shit like my books or the only one person I love more than anything
—Hang on, there are trick or treaters at the door. [Inaudible] [Audible] [Inaudible]. Fucker just took my last Krackel. [Pause.] Nice costume… What are you?
[Doug Liman, director of Swingers (1996), The Bourne Identity (2002), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Jumper (2008), and Fair Game (2010), walks in with Studio Monitors around his neck. Curtain.]