Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The dam breaks. 

Enough. Just stop it. Stop droning on to me with your stupid, STUPID stories. They're not even interesting. Just stop. I don't want to hear about your delinquent sister and how she's living the life you're too guilty or jealous to live. I don't want to hear about how you pay for every dinner with your selfish boyfriend. I don't want to hear about how hard you have it. I don't. I don't -- repeat: I don't care.

Maybe I would care if you'd just shut up and listen to me. Why do you even talk? You want a "good listener"? Fuck that. You want approval. Well, I'm sick of it. From now on, I'm telling you what I think and what to do. Don't like it? Then stop. Just turn around and stop talking -- you with the stupid stories of everyone working against you or how annoying your family is: ever realize you accurately represent that family?

Stop telling me that I can write about your life if I ever run out of story ideas. I won't. I have a hard enough time writing the stuff I want to write, much less your stupid, STUPID stories of what it's like to be a selfish, supposedly marginalized woman of the modern day. I don't care that you don't like where you live or that your neighborhood is loud. Your neighbor got robbed? That's life. That's their life. Stop acting like it's your struggle just because you don't have a life of your own. Go out and get a life of your own and stop flirting with that guy right in front of me and acting like you're being polite. We could all see you adjust your bra.

Next time, when you think "Oh! Will should know this!" Just stop. Stop and count: 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . . 6 . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . . and then think to yourself: "Maybe this isn't as important as I think it is. Maybe I won't even remember this happened 30 days from now. Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe I'm not the big slice of salami that I think I am." Because you're not. You're not the big slice of salami that you think you are. You're the parsley. Annoying, nearly tasteless, and you take up valuable space on the plate.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A Killing 

"You say I killin you, Will. You say I be killin you."

"Yeah, but it was just that once."

"Am I killin you, Will? Am I killin you?"

"No, you're not killing me."

"Why I be killin you, Will? Why I be killin you?"

"You're not killing me. It was just that one night."

"How I be killin you? Huh? How I be killin you?"

"Because you wouldn't let the mouse go. You kept swirling it around so I couldn't focus on anything. I can't help you when you use your mouse to make me drunk without alcohol."

"Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. You funny, Will. You funny. You say I be killin you. Nobody else say I be killin dem."

"Give it time. Give it time."

Friday, November 19, 2004


And now that that was over, that he had served his time, counted all the losses, and even paid for others to celebrate, he could not deny the probability that his usefulness was spent. There would be no more competitions, no more friendly jogs, and certainly no more dim nights on the park bench by the river. All that was left was the clean walls of the new apartment, the vacuum cleaner below every morning at nine, and the questions of Tumnus and Brother Bear. But it was too difficult explaining to them the intricacies of his side of the debate. They wanted belief in a being while he wanted belief in an ethos, mutually exclusive choices that could not be settled without a drink in the dark. But the Mormons always came in the afternoon, just after he woke, when the brightness of the sky only made him wish to drape himself in the weeds at the bottom of the tub, all the lights off, with only one familiar, white voice to answer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Whose View 

So I live in Bay View, which was its own little town for maybe three years way back in the day, before it decided it really wanted to be part of Milwaukee. Bay View is the second neighborhood south of the city. The first is Walker's Point, which is trendy, but a bit rough. Bay View, then, is far enough away to be fairly safe and quiet. But now we're getting trendy.

There was this article in the town's weekly liberal rag, the Shepherd Express, about how popular Bay View is becoming. And the writer made note of how Bay View's art and music scene was enhanced because of the higher-than-average number of gay people who live here. The article even mentioned Bay View's funny little nickname, Gay View.

Well, now, as you can imagine, the community is up in arms over being labeled Gay View. All the young soccer moms are proclaiming how terribly prejudiced it is that we can't all be accepting and stop labeling people by their sexual preference, and blah. And blah. And blah, blah, blah, blah.

As far as this observer can tell . . . the only people pissed off about being labeled Gay View are straight people. The neighborhood is pretty dominated by the other team, so the nickname fits. Has a funny little ring to it, too. It just proves my point: people want to be offended. They want it to be the 60s again. They want to stand up and fight the big powers that be. But there's nobody to fight. "Got a revolution?" as the song goes.

You in Yours 

I saw you watch me watching you as you and your friends walked their way across the street. They hurried, but you strolled with your basketball, taking as much time as you could, doing your best to pretend you hadn't done anything wrong and had every right to be there. And you had to look again, just to make sure that I was still looking, that I really saw through your whole bullshit act.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wanting the World to Crash 

My conversation with an ulta-liberal friend:

HIM: "I can't believe it. Even now."
ME: "Why not?"

HIM: "How could 59 million people be so dumb?"
ME: "You're just quoting a British newspaper."

HIM: "Yeah, but I believe it."
ME: "Then you like over-simplifying?"

HIM: "Whatever. People voted out of fear."
ME: "Again, you sound like a fucking website quote. I've heard this before. Think for your fucking self. Don't tell me some bullshit I've heard before. 59 million are dumb? My dad voted for Bush. He's a well-respected businessman with a Master's Degree. He's not dumb. He's just different from you. Don't you realize what that makes you sound like?"

HIM: "This country is fucked. I should move to Canada."
ME: "Yeah, enjoy the weather up there. You're being ridiculous. You're like your own little mascot of yourself. It's really quite remarkable."

HIM: "Easy for you to say, Mr. Nixon."
ME: "This may be hard for you to understand, but we're gonna be all right."

HIM: "Whatever."
ME: "I think that's a fear of yours: that we'll be OK, even though your guy wasn't elected."

HIM: "You're naive for thinking that."
ME: "Careful of those glass walls. Listen it's just how things are. OK, I'll grant you, we've got lots of problems. The house is on fire. But in this country, we don't put out the fire until it's creeping up next to us on the couch. We'll put it out. It just hasn't reached us yet. We're all gonna be all right, as much as it must kill you to hear this. The plane has not yet crashed into the mountain."

HIM: "Republicans are just afraid of gay people and afraid of losing their money and willing to bomb anyone for oil."
ME: "Yeah, my next-door neighbor, a right-winger of all right-wingers, just told me how he was looking forward to bombing the gay bar downtown and then enlisting to go to Iran and then maybe Kuwait. He's just gotta check with Paul Bunyan first and get permission from the Tooth Fairy."

HIM: "You just don't get it."
ME: "You're right."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

What Are Islands 

Happiness is so often thought to be a destination, and that people cannot decipher whether they've reached it leaves them miserable. But if happiness is only so many islands to visit, the concept makes a whole lot more sense. What is happiness, then?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Just a Little 

"Can you justify your existence then? Just a little? . . . Couldn't I try . . . naturally it wouldn't be a question of a tune . . . but couldn't I, in another medium? . . . It would have to be a book: I don't know how to do anything else . . . it would have to be beautiful and hard as steel and make people ashamed of their existence."

Jean-Paul Sartre

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Anyone who calls anyone else ignorant . . . 

. . . is immediately impressed and satisfied with himself.

On Established 

I used to be the guy at work who no one thought knew too much. I was new, fresh, green, inexperienced. I could surprise people, showing them how much I knew.

Now I'm that guy who's been there a while and is supposed to know things. So when I make a mistake, I get the "What's with you?" response.

And I have to say, for all you about to enter the work world, that I really liked being the inexperienced guy who could surprise the pants off you much more than the seasoned pro who can now only disappoint you.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A Windy Day in Milwaukee, as All Returns to Normal 

Went to Q today for some BBQ to fight for.

Also dropped off some shoes at the Cobbler. Not many people go to the Cobbler anymore. Maybe it's the confusion with the pie. What does peach cobbler have to do with fixing shoes? Anyway, the old guy behind the counter wrote on a tracking slip at least 15 years old, called me "Buddy", and smelled of sharp polish. I think I'm going to be a regular Cobbler customer. I just need more shoes to break down.

Advice of the month: pay a plumber to install a water heater. Don't try it yourself. Even if your mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandfather-in-law, and wife are there to help. Pay the man. Trust me.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Big Decisions 

Why does 90% of the populace use the phrase, "grab the napkins"? Everyone's asking everyone else to go and grab some napkins.

If that person went and actually "grabbed" the napkins, he would crumple them, wouldn't he?

So why don't we say "get"?

Maybe it's time I just grabbed some sleep.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

From the Top of the Ocean 

I will officially be old when I stop buying music on a regular basis. That means: when going to the record store feels quaint and reminiscent of an earlier me. When taking the plastic wrapper off won't be as annoying as it is now. When the music feels like a treat, yet I don't listen to it much. Meaning, I'll put it in the player, but I won't pore through the liner notes and study the lyrics.

I walked through the store the other day and saw this guy who looked exactly like an old friend of mine. He was the same height, build, hair color, you name it. He even moved like my friend. He wore his hat the same way. He picked at the cds with the same casual laziness. I almost wanted to ask him his last name it was so close.

That reminded me of when I took classes at UWM, because all the time I'd see people there who looked exactly like friends. I'd walk through the building, thinking, "Christ, that's Kyle's lost twin," or "He looks just like Rob." And so it became easier to see how we can all fit into a stereotype of some kind. Everything seemed a whole lot less unique.

Jak se Mas? 

Sometimes, you know someone's your friend when they send you a postcard.

Who sends a postcard now that e-mail's here? Funny thing about that, though, is I have all sorts of friends who know my e-mail address -- and plenty of people whose address I possess -- but we don't communicate. There's something lost if you don't see people regularly. People become embarrassed to tell others about what they think is the same-old, same-old of their regular life.

That's why I've come to just tell people, "check the website". Because if they really want to know, it's all here. The interesting and the mundane. And if they don't, there's always that big X in the upper right-hand corner.

So all this makes a postcard even better. It's got that big picture on the front of it, which makes the reader think the sender was actually at this picturesque place. And it's unexpected. I remember going on vacation once in like seventh grade and buying a postcard of a topless woman; I sent it to a friend to embarrass him, and it worked, as his mom got it. I always wondered what the post office thought of that.

Enjoy the duck blood soup and 'basas, Breezy. Have a pierogi for me.

The Worst Thing 

We live in a world in which the worst thing one can do to another is offend him. God forbid someone's feelings get hurt.

Someone gets shot, raped: police find the criminal or don't; the community calls it a shame the way this place is going to hell. Then back to work.

Someone hurts someone else's feelings or says something "offensive": we get the community activists out, saying we need "healing" and there's no place for this in society; and there will be a council, a protest, yard signs, and lots of shaken heads at whoever dared say such a thing.

The worst thing you can do in America today is offend someone.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

It's All Over, Even the Fighting 

* It's strange to think I met my wife when Bill Clinton was still president. I remember that being a very fun summer. But so much of my knowing her has been in the Bush years, that it seems a little quaint. Not unlike how Clinton himself appeared back then: a lame duck president, battered from the whole sex incident, just coasting his last year in office. In five or ten years, I suppose I'll look back on the first part of our relationship and marriage as "the Bush section". Kind of how high school and college were "the Clinton section" and grade school was "the Reagan section". I don't remember too much of "the Carter section".

* We're just about done working on our house. I still have to paint some woodwork in an extra bedroom. We need to buy cool shades for the bird room. And I have some fix-it projects. But all that's easy. The kitchen will be the last big project. Every other room's been done. We'll eventually have to get new water heaters, but I think these monsters still have a year or two left in 'em; we'll probably get new sanitary tubs then, too. Then there's the drainage issue in the backyard. Maybe I'll do that next spring. And we still have to call Richard, our renegade electrician with the secret dream of becoming a mortician, to put in a backyard light. I guess it sounds like more than it is. This was a really boring tidbit, I know. I can't tell you why I added this. But the house is the life at this point.

* There's this point in Richard Ashcroft's first song of his second album; it's well into the first song -- six minutes or so -- when he sings out about a beautiful world. And he's so into it, and the song is moving along so strong, that by that point, the audience is so with him that it doesn't matter: you want to believe him. His new album is due for February.

* Someone asked me why I haven't posted any poetry recently. That's because I haven't written any. When I'm writing a novel, that creative side of me shuts down. In fact, I won't be writing any poetry any time soon. I'm not even reading it right now. Everything is focused on the fiction. After this book is done, I'm moving right along to edit another.

* Is there anything more embarrassing (besides two people flirting) than listening to a director's commentary for a bad movie? I just want to scream out: "But it sucked!"

* That bitch next door to us put down some bricks on some cement right next to our garage. It looked OK, but she didn't ask, so I threw the bricks back on her lawn. She should have asked.

* They drop kids off in our neighborhood (from rougher neighborhoods) to trick-or-treat by the truckloads. I went through like 50,000 bags of candy. And that's cool -- that's cool. But they could at least wear a costume.

* I've been growing a beard for a few weeks now, so it's pretty funny when someone sees me and hasn't seen me in a while. They all do one or more of the following:
a.) tell me I look older
b.) ask me if I'm going hunting
c.) shake their heads and ask why
d.) complain about me losing my "baby face"
e.) repeat their question "why?"
f.) if female, seem very dissatisfied
g.) if male, seem very approving

* I'm at this point in my new book where the character's life starts to go from mildly disappointing and disturbing to the point at which I'm afraid to give the book to any friends or family for what they will think of me. It's fun but it's hard.

* No, I'm not participating in that whole "blog your novel" thing. It's not that I can't write 50,000 words in a month. It's that I can't do it well. It's a neat idea, though. And, sure I could put up my second book, which is fresh and ready. But that's cheating. November's novel writing month (whatever that means), not display-the-novel-you-finished-last-spring month.

* Time for work.

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