Friday, August 29, 2008

Interstate Commerce

This short short was composed on I-470,1 the stretch of West Virginia that exists for recovering addicts and the impatient to connect Washington, PA to St. Clairsville, OH. It bypasses the more interesting parts of Wheeling. There are no signs for the casino. The old bridge with the newer parts is hard to see. You don't go through the tunnel. No artifacts:2

A Weirdo fell out of the sky. He started speaking in expletives that the less discerning on-lookers would no doubt imitate, but the general impression was that he was upset. He should be paste. He hit hard enough from high enough that his flesh-padded bones impressed concrete. He should be dead. Bald, the kind of beard that says I haven't worried about working or buying food for years, 5'10", one-hundred fifty maybe one-hundred seventy pounds. I can find him in the Registry.

The woman asks him if he's okay. What happened? Where was he going? Is there anything she can do for him? What kind of car should she buy? Is it all going to be alright? I love you. Won't you take me away from all this, you exotic and yet mundane thing? I follow them because it's what I do. Sky-Weirdo seems to have a picked up a flock of cholesterol-sluggish sheep outside of McDonald's. It's good cover.

My sister was a Weirdo too. The day I found out I was driving fast for Mexico.
"I think I'm going to ask Inara to marry me," I said. My sister and I had agreed that speakerphones and unlimited roaming are important inventions for the Spirit of Independence.
"Thus the trip to Mexico, Mal?" my sister asked.
"Thus the trip to Mexico, Zoe," I said, "The diamond capital of the world. Nay, the universe. More diamonds go in and out of Mexico than fluids out of isotonic cells."
And there was Kaylee, talking to me about animals cells bursting and shriveling.
"You know," Zoe said, "I don't think this is such a good idea." The breach of security is one thing, but not knowing is different, more filthy thing.


I've been tracking this TransAtlantic Virgin Captain during his stay in the hospital. He has visitors. Lord Saks, Pradator, Joan Deere, even Zoe once, though she's going by Many-Eyed Cerebral Investigator now. Standing by his side, crying incessantly, is Kaylee. It's really too much. The fanfare. Now one of them can't do one of his tricks and it's high drama. Bah, pageantry.


----
There are three maybe four occasions when I use the word "kid." Most frequently it is modified by a possessive pronoun. Someone I know has acquired a strange, habit-forming, snot-dripping child and whenever I want to ask them about it, or talk about them and their resource-gobbling ways behind their backs, I talk about you/him/her/them and "your/his/her/their kid." Sometimes I say nice things. Sometimes I talk about goats and their offspring. Sometimes I use that as a clever metaphor for people. I like goats. And sometimes I meet people who remind me of things I did when younger and less experienced and quickly dub these people "kid" before they can do anything to defy my characterization of them.
----
I drove home today. The three hour trip took four because this kid rear-ended me. It was raining. I don't blame him/hate him/feel slightly overjoyed that I have his contact information and a truck with which to run over his now destroyed car. I do, however, fault him for calling the police. In first-person present land, here's what happened:
There are three lanes. They are all full. And we are stopping. Why are we stopping? Why should anyone stop on the interstate? This is a farce. What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck was that? Pull over, get off the road. Ok, everything is still sticking to the truck.
Where's the other car? Why wouldn't he pull up behind me? That would make sense? Follow the car you hit Mr. John Jerkface. Oh, there's a car over there. On the other side of the road. I wonder how long it takes me to drive across this stretch of road while I'm going seventy miles an hour. His car is a total loss, in my professional opinion. How fast he was going?

How long can one person talk on their cell phone?

"Brewskies."
"Hey Skinny Guy who has a name I will probably never learn because I don't expect you to stick around despite evidence to contrary," I more or less say,"are my parents there?"
"Yes they are, you fat over-entitled leech," he says, though I may have imagined the leech part, "which one would like to speak with?"
"Whoever's least busy."
"No prob," he says, "take 'er easy"
"hey, you too."
I tell my dad about the accident and the more or less pristine state of my car.3 I point out that his car is completely fucked. My dad points out that that is completely someone else's, possibly the person across the street, talking on their cell phone, concern. All I need is license and insurance. My dad has not played frogger apparently, or would have made a joke about splatting.

Finally the kid finishes talking to whoever of the seven people he's had to call. I yell at him and try and sign out my phone number.
He doesn't get it.

Get back in the truck. Drive across three lanes of traffic, just to stop, get out and walk, walk, walk back to the kid, ask him if he's alright, try not to think about branding,4 how fast he was going, was he high, and etc. Then it turns out that I have to wait for the cops.

Which is great.

Because I got to sit in the back of a squad car. And see a sign that says "we are recording your actions and conversations" the same way a sign in a taxi says "Please tip" or "Driver has no money." OH, and today I was asked if I had a bomb, knife, or gun. They ask everyone. I'm not offended by procedure. But guh.

I could have been home so much sooner.

I could have still gotten hit and still gotten outta there.
----
McDonald's is modernizing. In case you didn't know, McDonald's is the source for anything you'd probably like to eat or drink. It's important to stay up to date. I bought a southern-style chicken sandwhich and a mocha coffee.( and a large french fry to keep it all in context) The drive-through lady has a very wide smile. The kind you can talk through, so you do.
"THANKS FOR STOPPING!" she says as she hands me my coffee, and then the door shuts with a "WUNCH." Swings it back open with the same sound and says with the same smile, "Thanks have a nice day come back soon."

Hypothetically, if I had the opportunity to critique her poorly concealed insincerity, what would I have said?
-Cheer up, at least your working right?
-Do you think the Mocha is better than the Cappuccino?
-What's the matter? Was your boss not getting "sincere but deadpan" greetings and farewells?
----
This just in: There is such a thing as pineapple upside-down pie. It is everything you want in pie plus pineapples.

1 This is half true.
2 A semi- did try to merge into my truck. Artifact is not always great.
3 My bumper has a new dimple and maybe a piece of his car. It could be a piece of my car that's gone through the rubber.
4He was wearing Nike sandals, Starter shorts, a Sublime Tee, and an Ohio State beanie. Fairly unobtrusive clothing articles. Are they subsequently vehicles for the brand? What would leather boots or purses look like if they were branded? Oh wait, I know.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In California. A Log Cabin. With Red Shutters on the Windows.

My mother was a mill worker and my father waited tables in a hotel lounge, mostly for the tips. Neither of 'em spoke a lick of Spanish, but they managed to bring home enough lobster to feed our two dogs and me every night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Just think about it. Deeply. Then forget about it. And an idea will jump up in your face." - Don Draper

What I'm Doing when I'm not Writing
(or On Bad Television and Its Manifold Charms)


I haven't been writing. For shame, I know. This admission is fiction. I've put together a terrible essay on Nick Hornby's use of fragmentation in his writing and the theme of death or the fear of it. It has "potential." There will be "revising." One day. Some day. Days. The worst of the potential future days.


I hate revising.

I have been watching a lot of stolen television. I've made some terrific progress through the fascinating life of dr. temperance brennan and her friend and partner seeley booth. (played by angel, an old friend from btvs and an eponymous show of his own) Soon I'll be through the third season and I'll be able to move on. It's worth noting that I think Bones is total crap. They do this thing where the plot of the episode will track alongside some story which is eerily resonant with something you remember from the news, like the blair witch project, or the hurricane katrina fallout and the sorting of bodies, or the pressures from the prolonged iraq war on national guardspeople, or the pregnant corpse that washed ashore and the investigation into her late husband, (et cetera). The first writing workshop I was in, someone did this with what's her name... Terri Schiavo. In first person. (No, I don't think it was biased. Why do you ask?) And sometime they ask questions, apparently rhetorical, like "is she crying because he's dead or because she lost a mansion?" And really I'd like to just be entertained by my stolen TeeVee. And the characters are kinda boring. Everyone has quick solutions for problems with their super-genius intellects and 1 to 2 ratio of multi-millionaire characters to characters making enough money to wear new three piece ensembles hourly.


Oddly enough, I'm comfortable with the 2-d leads. It increases the contrast when the inevitable character arc episodes come along. It's nice. I can do other things.

SO why am I watching this thing I hate?
1) I just like David Boreanaz.
2) Anthropology is part of the background for a short story i'm writing, and I can JSTOR or google anything that sounds weird/interesting.*
3) Rampant love stories. It's like watching the x-files if Mulder and Scully were in a soap opera, and there were less UFOs.**
4) Billy Gibbons cameos.
5) I'm not really sure.

I haven't minded watching Mad Men.
Does anyone have thoughts on the flying car?
Or things that end up being collected unintentionally?

*Re: police procedurals, BONES still has it's go-to gadgets for solving crimes. The maggots, the uv light, the swabby juice for blood, but they have an anthro vocabulary too. I appreciate that.
**There have been two stories that referenced UFOs. One involved a man falling from space (also involved a jealous astronaut) and another involving a pair of kids buried alive in a keg that looked like gray aliens.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,'—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

In class exercise: 30 words or less. Define the word "Skeptic." Just your working, go-to, this-is-how-I-use-this-word definition of "skeptic." 5 minutes.
1
2
3
4

5.


Okay. Fingers away from keyboards. No one googled a definition? What'd you come up with?







I have "someone who is critical of a/some subject/subjects. A detective. A scientist."


Don't worry, my definition is wrong.


OED has four definitions. They're really long-winded but:
1. someone who, like pyrrho, doubts the possibility of real knowledge, and subsequent claims to such
2. A critic, either in a specific field or in general.
3. someone who doubts the possibility of knowledge in the supernatural, specifically Christian supernaturalism.
4.someone who has yet to reach a conclusion, but remains a seeker of, and believer in, truth.

Is it possible then, that skeptic means nothing? I mean, it seems like 4. is opposed to 1. Maybe it just means whatever we think it means.
And yet, Logic was made by 4's to prevent 1's from wasting away worrying about what would happen if they were found out for 3's. And yet, 4's depend on "skeptic" meaning 1. and not 2,3, or 4.

And that smells.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Other Observations

If I have any rudimentary beliefs about right and wrong/things that are right and wrong, then I believe that waste (the act of wasting, allowing food to spoil, allowing things to outlive their usefulness, etc.) is wrong. I suspect this belief comes from my parents, mostly because I'm still in that stage where not blaming them for a shabby work ethic, (which is ridiculous) an unhealthy body image, and all the quirks and neuroses I've channeled into a fairly comedic episode of social awkwardness would seem unfair, mainly to me, but to them too. My own social and biological failings may be tragic to me, but it could be a real epic project to them if they'd just think about it right. I'm not sad,* deep, or jaded, I'm unique. They've done good work.
But this spoilage thing, is that from them? It could be. Clear your plate, starving children in [most recently newsworthy south american or african country], et cetera. It could also be the work of J.S. Mills (maybe Hobbes, whoever social contract guy is, english-social-philosophy man?) Maybe I believe I'm ruining money by wasting food. Though I think the argument is that food should be free as long as you can take enough as it doesn't spoil, but money never spoils, and ruins the whole agrarian utopia. hmph.
Regardless, I have food. A lot. and I'm eating it really fast because I don't want it to rot.

As a tangent: While I was in pittsburgh, I opened my parents fridge. A cursory glance would reveal:
Glazed Strawberry Pie
Linguini with Clams and Artichokes (total yum, though slightly pointless in the leftovers arena)
5-layer lasagna (my mom makes "fair" lasagna, and while this may be treasonous, Mrs. Reifschneider's eggplant lasagna is far superior/will always hold a place in my heart as "how lasagna should be")
A whole rotisserie chicken
Seven wads of Kibbee (my brother was saving these for his trip to Ocean City. It actually was treason to eat them)

In my anthro class today,** we talked about two things. Adaptation and Antagonistic Coevolution. Think cheetahs/gazelles don't evolve to be faster because they want to be fast. They evolve that way because the slow ones don't eat/are eaten by the fast ones. A great segue way into disease, which ended up being a cultural anthro lesson on the various arrangements humans have lived in. As nomads there was still disease, but there weren't endemic, definitely not pandemic, outbreaks. Whole tribes just got sick and died on their isolated lonesome. After the invention of agriculture, which Jared Diamond calls "The worst mistake in the history of the human race," we hung out with poop, animals, and standing water pools more often. And then there was industry and we started using the science to raise the carrying capacity of cities. Sorry I'm glossing.

* I'm actually not sad, however, there is the constant question of what, precisely, is "on my mind."
** Incidentally, our final is from 7.30 to 9.18. That sucks so bad.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A double-bind

Inside one of those really unfairly marketed BMW M(3)s is a blonde woman,**** driving down High St. past Elena's. I've just walked by Waterbeds n' Stuff, which is selling a framed Dark Knight poster (Why So Serious?) for $25.99.* The scene where the Joker kills Gambol is replaying in my head. (Why So Serious?) My lips are moving around the words "why so serious." I look up and there's the woman: blonde hair, inconclusively dark skin, maybe from the fact that the sky is about the piss on Columbus, maybe from an adolescence of acne, maybe she tans, and she's looking at me. Is it because I'm talking to myself? Is it because I'm just so damn attractive? Is it because I'm slightly more interesting to look at than traffic?

Earlier in the week, I came back from Pittsburgh with some "dry goods. An innovation the Americans have put a lot of research into perfecting." My parents were kind enough to pick them up. Three peaches and a can of tuna rolled out of the passenger side of my truck when I pulled out my laundry hamper. I wasn't really sure what to take in first.


Food
I need food to continue living. And my continued possession of a shelter, which becomes more difficult if I have to buy food again, is somewhat meaningless if I don't have food. Food is universally desirable. If you're going to steal it, you don't have to pawn it, you can use it yourself and think "hey, I just saved some cash."
Clothing
Clothing is less necessary than Food. It is a form of Shelter, in that it provides protection from the elements, and there will come a time when I have a stupid amount of money and can do stupid things like have meals delivered to my door and ten pairs of boxers and twenty outfits and my hermetical aspirations will be realized. Until then, the potential theft of my laundry is a real threat. My hamper is more difficult to move than even the entirety of my groceries, but they also have less immediate value. Stealing my hamper is an investment of time, both to move it and to get practical rewards out of it.** I don't imagine an attendant at a consignment store will ask anyone hard questions that are generated by the intuition of "these clearly would never fit [your body-type/gender,]" but it's not like the thief is going to drop of everything at once with out saying, "I'm punishing my boyfriend/husband/brother/roommate/adulterous employer. Would you like to join me in my righteous justice."
Really, though, food is the important thing. I have clothing. Clean clothing, that I could wear, and enough of it that I wouldn't need to replace anything but boxers.

I've been thinking about this for most of the week. The order we prioritize things in. I had an ethics class in high school, a good bit of it was dogmatic, some of it was "wrong."*** We talked about instinct, which was ironically juxtaposed against a discussion of justified true beliefs three weeks later. (You're right, that's not really a juxtaposition. It was in the same class though. It's possible I merely like the word "juxtaposition." It, along with "conversely," "subsequently," "ambiguous," and "delicious," are words I use, what's the word? Often.) This was one of the things that came up. The hierarchy of happiness. I looked for it on the internet (where everything is) and I found something similar under "Need" but it wasn't exactly like that. "Love & friendship" instead of "significant primary relationships with others" & "safe birth control and child-bearing," nothing about health care or an appropriate cross-cultural education. But otherwise, that was it. Happiness is safety. Happiness is security. Happiness is knowing that when you die, some people are still living to remember you were there. To think about where you are now.


Imagine how happy I was, seeing the women in the expensive, dishonestly marketed car, knowing that now I could finish this. An epiphany. Not really. But still, sometimes writing is something I do, it's Bliss.


*Yes, I finally saw "The Dark Knight" in the theaters. The sense-replacement effect of the movies is so necessary. [I have other great things to say about the movie, which I have praised before, but I feel like praising something so heavily reviewed beyond the feelings it evoke re: my personal history is redundant. Whatever, it's good. I'll lose a significant portion of my free time when it shows up in the dollar theater.
**all of my clothing is 38-40 in the waist, XX-XXXL in shirts. I do not believe my clothing is practically useful to the great majority of the population of Columbus. It would merely be a means to an end.
***"wrong" meaning I do not believe it exists and moreover, I have a good reason to believe it does not exist. This may be pointless in an ethics class, but we talked more about instinct than I thought was necessary. Yes, even at seventeen. We started talking about maternal instinct, mostly because its name (maternal instinct) meant that it didn't show up in men: Men are clearly meant to be nomadic, to spread seed, to be serially monogamous, etc. Arguments like "human instinct is limited to a fear of heights and the instinct to root. there are no other instincts. "maternal instinct" is a taught behavior." (not that well drawn-out) fell on unmoved ears. Whatever, man.
[**** The ad, called BMW-Independence, is to sell BMW 3-series cars. (it's really selling BMWs) It talks about what they didn't try to do. What I don't like about it is it doesn't show the product until the end, building tension right?¹ But it's not showing 3-series bmws, its showing a variety of BMWs, including a 320i with body art by Roy Lichtenstien. (Which it turns out is a 3 series, but it has an m-series engine, so I feel slightly vindicated, but not really, I just don't think there's much overlap between M3's and 3's and yet they sell them as such.)
¹What gets on my nerves about advertisements, specifically this advertisement, is this tactic, policy, subterfuge (whatever) of showing something else, like cars that aren't even old versions of the car your selling but simply cars you've put your seal on. And I guess a lot of people do this. From the people that brought you the iPod and the iPhone: here's the MacBook Air. A meritocracy, yes? We've done well before, We'll do well again. We can prove it.(You know, with our previous track record. (I watched mad men this weekend. It's actually how I ended up seeing the BMW ad in the first place. (they have an "exclusive advertising agreement"(WTF?)))) Race Car drivers are employed for much the same reason. I think we all know that the Rally, F1, and NAS cars driving really fast on TV aren't for sale in, especially in, dealerships. What's the purpose of the brand on the race car? Money from sponsors? added 08.14.08, because PQ1000 pointed out I was being vague.]

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Intolerable Bedroom Conduct: A Laptop Blog

It's summer. I realize that makes my late-night ranting somewhat inappropriate. You may even ask what's the point "organizing" a series of thoughts about beds when most, if not all, of us are finding the slimmest sheet we own that wasn't directly involved in the bed-making process, laying down on top of our fixed beds, and sweating it out in two-hour bouts until getting out of bed seems reasonable.
But that's just my point, and you would know that if you'd actually read this instead of just jumping to some thematic conclusions based on a misleading title. What is the point of making/messing the bed in the first place? You know what's under a comforter? A mattress, a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, a blanket, and some pillows. Awesome. I want to sleep in that.
So my question is either a) why is there a comforter?
or b) why is there a blanket? a comforter is a puffy blanket, isn't it?
But as far as questions of practicality go, because the only people I know that actually do this are my Sitto and the Marriott, "why is the blanket that they insist on putting under the comforter the worst blanket in the world?"
It's cotton-, maybe wool-, sandpaper, with a silk lining and no matter how many flat or fitted sheets are there, it's slicing my flesh. No matter how conditioned the room's air is, a comforter and a blanket is too much.
Is it just to justify an extenive housekeeping force. Is Marriott training an army to sanitize the nation?* I would like some notice. I have specific requests re: my oven range. Also, if they're fixing beds, please, no comforter.

*Housekeeping Army: No Comforters. No Placation!

Monday, August 4, 2008

8 minute post on why I'll never be a poet.

I'm rearranging the apartment now: Desk stays in big room, bed moves there too, Wingbacks and TV move to small room, where the closet is. Bookcase moves with chairs, even though it's across the room. Not now. Everything that's going has been compressed together so I can move the bed in. I keep telling myself one table has to stay with the bed, but I can't figure out which one. It makes sense to leave the table that's in the old bedroom there, it'll fit over the bookcase I'll have a new dimension of books, but the other table goes with the chairs. I think of them as a unit. The only alternative I imagine, other than placing the chairs back-to-winged-back (Drama!) is buying a new table for the chairs or my bedside. It hasn't even occurred to me that I could move, like, the drawer that's next to my desk until now, or you know, something like that. Maybe fix that table I found. Modules and obsessions. Eight minutes.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Quitting

I want/am going to try to quit smoking. The thing is though, I'm really good at it. You see, I fail at oh, just so much. My short stories are dully predictable. I write them with the hopes of getting a tortured, yet still Bronsonly attractive and abrasively charming, hero to the climax (of the plot and the inevitable gratuitous sex scene) as quickly as possible, then I tie up the loose ends, tell a joke about baseball and its refreshing pointlessness, and move on. I buy wheat rye bread so I have an excuse when it turns into a charcoal briquette instead of grilled cheese. I am always buying new furniture because I am such a slob, everything rots. I am hopelessly in debt because of this. I've considered getting a job. I have at points. I never keep one for longer than six months.*


But smoking! I'm great at smoking. I have a meerschaum pipe with a really long tube, and sometimes I smoke it and pretend I'm a wizard. I can roll cigarettes that look factory made. I've been solicited by cigar companies on several occasions.** And now I've bought these great diesel jeans,(edit: Oh! And the most best part is that I bought them at the most vile conscription store in columbus and they're the second best find ever from their at 1/8 of the price) and they're boot cut, and I'm going to look so damn desirable smoking a cigarette in them. I could lean up against a wall, maybe a lamppost, and put one boot on the thing I'm leaning on, and tada!
And the whole coffee and people watching thing. As previously noted, people watching is pointless without the coffee and the cigarette. If I just took the coffee out there, people would think I was some creepazoid for drinking hot fluids on a hot day.


I could stop wearing the "I <3 Students" shirt.
Ah, but whatever. I really do want to live forever. This is the last one. I quit buying comics. I quit smoking pot. I quit playing video games. (which, btw, are eerily accessible) I can quit smoking cigarettes.
*This is actually true.
**This is totally false.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Future meet-and-greets will include a Sidebar introducing my Attention Span

Ah, l'enui. En la Vulgate, tu es "inodiare," "aborrir." Dans des supermarch├ęs, tu es un bon ami.

I just don't want to cook anymore. Black beans, chicken breast, cheese, and mushroom soup layered into tortillas:boring. Tuna, tomatoes, celery, and spinach bound by mayo: a chore. This is a shitty realization to have in a grocery store. I bought a lot of soup (4 big cans of condensed campbell's chicken noodle, 4 cans condensed campbell's Italian wedding) and rosen's Jewish rye and kroeger's 3 cheese cheese slices because I couldn't just by a 2 lb bag of whole bean Colombian coffee, (eight o'clock) a big bottle of red stripe, and 12 rolls of charmin toilet paper.

I also went to HPB (not HP:HBP) and bought some more books.

Consider the Lobster (David Foster Wallace)- 9.75*
En bonne forme (Seventh Edition) - 5.98
Project on the City 2 (Harvard[!] School of Design) -30.95**
The Lemon Table (Julian Barnes) -9.25

Books I have started but didn't finish:
World War Z
1421***
Orientalism
The Third Policeman
White Teeth
Life of Pi
Pride & Prejudice
The Golden Compass****
Tropic of Cancer
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish*****
Uglies

There are three primary reasons behind my inability to finish a novel:
1.Craft: The burden of the Author. I am reluctant to point to any novel and say "this is typefaced shit." So instead, here is a broad generalization about poorly-crafted novels: the story is so tightly written I am positive that I'm not using my imagination at all, but transcribing someone else's words into my Wernicke's area which just starts reading everything as "do something else or your brain will leave you" after a while.
****Alternatively, I am sometimes amazed that an Author can find a single character interesting, and so interesting as to ignore the plot and focus on a character I find miracuously dull and repugnant at the same time. Which should be impossible, and perhaps that warranted the writing of the story in the first place and it's just not for me, you may like it, watch the pretty movie instead.
2.Time: Completely on me. I am "easily distracted." Not like, "oh a shiney object" easily distracted, but I do get a lot of recommendations and when coupled with an "active imagination" a recommendation is kinda deadly for a book. Especially considering the waning effect of illusions, which fade as Time wears on. And I think some Authors compensate for this well. The page ninety or page sixty challenge is smart. Also, World War Z is really accessible. I pick it up when I want to. I'll finish it eventually. The only concern is, for me, that the three recommendations I got for it basically said: I was unable to put it down. Not "it's new storytelling and the presence, and yet complete removal of the narrator is incredible." or "Oral History, right on, I bought the book-on-tape." or "hey, we should record this ourselves, like, dramatically."
Just "I couldn't put it down."
3.Breaking of Trust- I'd like to read a utopian novel where everything looked distopian for a minute, but turned out that everything was hunky dory. What would that say for the reader's expectations? What does that say for the human condition? And fuck you if you start to show me that and then write some dystopian teenage angst-fest. Also refers to page sixty challenge, think it's smart, don't want to reread books again unless they're funny/quotable. Transparency, not just for governments, etc.

So this is a major concern for me. I mean, the novel is the major mental wank fest of the twentieth century, and what does that say about me if I can't masturbate, especially mentally, with everyone else? I don't mean to say I haven't been reading.
I'm about halfway through High Fidelity, which I borrowed from the love of my life yesterday.****** I've read a pair of DFW essays and I actually have opinions about them. I've read poetry, romantic poetry, mind you, and had my opinions shot down and then briefly entertained in class.*******
But the novel. That's the big thing. I'm trying to turn a short story into a novel and I'm stuck between knowing that 8,000 words is not enough space and 18,000 words will leave readers with the impression that the story has been lengthened as a vanity project/for my own amusement. All I can really think to do right now do about it is "Stop." At this point, it's stopped me from writing anything else. And that, as Zadie Smith will tell you, is no good.

*I'm really happy, for the most part, with my DFW experience. Enough so that I bought a book. I may buy Infinite Jest. I borrow it not long ago, still have time to read it. I read his first essay in "A supposedly fun thing i'll never do again"and I just wasn't so into it. As far as breaking of trust goes, it's fine, there's definitely an improvement, but the mathematical referencing mixed into long lines has an impossible sort of start and stop pacing. No effort in the way of context.

**I love and hate this book. It's thesis is that shopping is the last social activity in American cities. The data section is covers the amount of retail space in the world, and just what that means. At times it's effective, and for me that means graphs and relations. Walmart owns 3.6% of the retail area in the United States. U.S. Shopping Malls cover 29% of the Earth's retail area. If Walmart's annual revenue was compared with the gross domestic product of the 100 richest countries, it would come in at 24, (165.0 billion) between Denmark and Hong Kong. It's closest competitor is the Carrefour Group, at 49, (52.2 billion) between New Zealand and Hungary.

Not-so-impressive is the relationship between retail area to the land area of Manhattan. (12.7 Manhattans= Total retail area, US. 12.1 Manhattans= Total retail area, Asia. 1.2 Manhattans= Total retail area, Wal-mart (1/3 that of TRA of Europe) There are satelite pictures of Manhattan to communicate this. Strangely enough, this seems more abstract to me than the countless combinations of digits they've filled this section with. There's just the same picture of Manhattan. And for as inherently meaningless as they are, numbers are very accepting of meaning. 2 comes after 1, 3 after 2,...,9 after 8, then you start over. That's all you need to know about them. Something I need to know about Manhattan is that it is 178,305 sq. ft. (33.7 sq. mi x 5280)

That helps me get my head around it. It makes it mundane.

Which isn't to say (a) there's anything wrong with pictures and (b) there aren't a lot of pictures, floor plans, and diagrams here that are explaining things the text doesn't. Also, there are arrows connecting points to other point later in the text or in pictures, hands pointing to tangents in other articles, and highlighted sections. Those bastards. As far as formatting, this is everything I've wanted to do since the second workshop I've sat through. If only they'd include a gloss in red ink I'd be totally defunct. Which isn't to say, there aren't problems. The highlighted sections are obviously highlighted in much the same way Word would highligt something. It looks mechanical and not lived in. Very much a finished product. Nevertheless, very neat. I've learned that (a) air conditioning is important to shopping and (b) the guy who thought it up is, like, literally a racist ("the indisposition to, and, indeed, incapacity for, continuous muscular exertion, in the white race, during the existence of tropical heat, is one of the best established truths in human physiology. It is equally well known, that the other races of the human family, who are endowed with the faculty of resisting solar heat with impunity, have not the intelligence requisite to enable them to complete successfully...with the natives of more temperate climates")

***I just wasn't interested in anything about how he did his research.

*****I ran out of steam on the Douglas Adams Anthology here. Conversly, I finished Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in a day.

****** Oh Library, I will love you always. Also, High Fidelity was a one day read. Further Also, some reviewer once said you could watch "The Bridges of Madison Square County" or spend two more hours reading it. This is bullshit, no one will ever read a book, and really read a book, in four hours.

******* I feel unfairly challenged by this teacher. I wish he would either stop, or stop encouraging us to participate. And as far as the ongoing theme of performance anxiety goes here, we were talking about Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (with it's stupid fucking gloss notes) and it's opening, and I mentioned it seems to introduced some sort of skepticism (WHICH IT DOES) and he was like "oh, skepticism you think?" and like a fool I said, "oh well maybe I missed something" when I should have said "oh come on, the guy clearly thinks if there's any spirit-type things we can't know anything about them other than what they do to us and this makes total sense to include with the poem. So yes, I think skepticism." So who knows, maybe it'll be good for me, maybe I'll start forming several sentences in my head before I speak.

Update: The Devil Waiting Outside you Door.

I slept on the floor last night and it was awesome. Modifications: Layed a blanket down because this carpet itches. So awesome. I slept better last night than I have in weeks. Better part of a bottle of Lapic Winery of New Brighton, PA's White Table Wine may have made this report slightly inaccurate/biased.

Book stacks suck! Maybe if all you own is hardback books and hardwood floors and taxidermied cats you're golden, paperbacks develop a mean lean that Indy, I guess, thought was cool. Anyhow, I have a bookcase now.

Awesome.

I guess the most natural follow-up is cat-torture. Indy destroyed her collar. I have a harness for her. She hates, hates, hates it. I love it. It is the first step towards battle cat. I just need one of those spring-loaded launchers they used to sell with action figures and another cat with a blinking light harness. Otherwise, the only torture going on is not feeding her enough. Indy's idea of a regular meal is 4 times a day. I counter with twice a day. She counters with "meow!" which sounds a lot like "now!"

Grillin' with the roommates next week. Talked to bean twice. Going to a wedding (old neighbors) on the 24th. Exciting.