Friday, November 30, 2012

Feeding the Wolves

I wish you’d been the one
to dream the dream
I had of you.
How much more fascinating
if it were your subconscious
putting you in provocative positions
and trying to seduce me.
Not that it wasn’t already fascinating
and don’t worry, you were succeeding
it was simply a case of wrong place, wrong time
and nothing came of it.
I’d like to think that if it had been your dream
you’d have been as persistent as necessary.
If that isn’t the kind of dream
you want me having about you,
don’t worry.
I woke up.

The above is what we call, well, prose with line breaks. Nice prose, lovely line breaks perhaps, but it’s not poetry. It might make a song, but it will never be a poem. There’s not a single metaphor in the whole thing, for one. No symbolism, nothing representing something else. Ok, the line breaks make that statement slightly false, but only for the first line. I don’t mind at all that it isn’t a poem. It’s still fun.

Today’s been rough. We had a quarterly social last night for work, which means free food, wine, and beer. I had a couple of glasses of a red blend, then went home. When I got home I opened the Gnarly Head Malbec a friend gave me for my birthday and somehow managed to drink the whole thing over the course of the evening. Considering I had goldfish crackers, Haribo gummi bears, and half a piece of chicken for “dinner,” I felt the wine a little more than normal.

I’m still hungover.

It’s not bad. Just a mild headache, body aches and tiredness. I feel as awake now as I did when I woke up, but it doesn’t help that I’ve been sitting at a desk most of the day with little to do. I have always been one of those people who gets more energy from being active. It is somewhat ironic then, that I enjoy resting so much.

The miserable part is being a pillow away from falling asleep at my desk coupled with the massive boredom of daily life here. I don’t like nor care very much about doing my job. More than half of the stuff that has gone across my desk again today had unnecessary corrections my co-worker makes obsessively. They have to be checked every time our production department makes the corrections. The lack of necessity makes it really rough. I don’t care to do more than check that the changes she requested were made and why would I? The sentence means the same thing whether it says, “One offer per customer,” or “One offer per customer only.” There’s no need to remove the word only from that sentence. It’s just more work for everyone else. And that period she added at the end of the date on a lone sentence saying, “Promotion valid through 2/18/12”? A great way to waste the time of people who have better things to do.

I’m really quite done with being a proofreader. I’d love to continue writing books, but I don’t want to do it at work when I’m supposed to be doing, you know, work. If I’m going to be working on my own projects, reading tons of books, and surfing the internet more often than not, I would much rather be doing so from my favorite cafĂ© or at home.

Speaking of my book and moving away from the bitching, I finished reading the first draft for the first time today. It’s really not too bad. The second half of the book needs fleshing out and there’s plenty of rewording, trimming, and other editing to do, but for what it is, I’m not too disappointed in myself. It’s better as a first draft than some of the garbage I’ve encountered trying to find something worth reading on Kindle. If I’m going to spew crap for public scrutiny, at very least I’m going to make an effort to shape it into some kind of crap sculpture instead of just a pile of dung.

I suppose that if we take into consideration that the average reading level for Americans is eighth grade, and our newspapers are all written to a third grade level, then it’s probably unreasonable for me to expect more from aspiring writers. I just wish they would spend more time on the writing and crafting than the aspiring. I’m really happy that Kindle allows you to read samples, otherwise buying books would be a lot like looking for a needle in a manure stack.

Worry not, my fine friends. I will present my dung sculpture when it is finished. Perhaps I’ll model it after Rodin’s Fallen Caryatid; a woman crumpled beneath the weight of her burdens, but trying to carry them nonetheless. As I have mentioned before, I wrote something I didn’t care about in order to practice my writing. That’s not going to stop me from trying to share it with the world at large, however. If Twilight can make it, it may just be that my nose for crap is extra sensitive. It doesn’t help that I was reading The Vampire Lestat in the 6th or 7th grade, let alone the 8th. Once you read a good book, it’s hard to go back and read garbage in the same genre.

I have similar but slightly more respectful feelings about Harry Potter. It was good, but kind of overrated, especially for someone who’s been reading real fantasy novels since he learned to read, starting with C.S. Lewis. While Rowling’s is easier to read than Tolkien, Harry Potter is no Bilbo Baggins. I liked the first book, the fourth, and the last. The rest were sawdust. The sixth was hogwash.

I may be overly self-deprecating regarding The West Wind. Self-deprecation is excellent armor against the cruel, cold world. It protects me from my own perceptions. It also feeds the wrong wolf, which is a constant battle and not one I’m winning today. It is somewhat difficult to remember in contemporary society that romance is not just the province of women. I am a romantic. I like romance. I enjoy watching romantic comedies. I am Duke Orsino from Twelfth Night, in love with love and waiting for someone like Viola to come along. I really dislike feeling embarrassed by these facts.
It’s time to remind myself that some of our most famous romances, both historically and contemporary, were written by men. Shakespeare comes to mind first, not only with Twelfth Night, a romantic comedy, but of course Romeo & Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, the sonnets, etc. Love is quite regularly a theme of some kind in his works.

On the contemporary side, there is Nicholas Sparks. While I don’t think much of him as a writer, since his movies seem to tell his stories in more depth, he is quite famous and has a significant number of popular romance novels and movies. One of my favorite romantic movies is A Walk to Remember, which I have always believed should be an inspiration for any couple. People talk of Hollywood romance and describe it as something that doesn’t happen. In my world, A Walk to Remember is the way love should be, minus the tragedy at the end. Bucket list? Let’s help each other make our dreams come true. It just takes a little imagination and the ambition to see it through. I should know, I have walked that road, I have danced on that rooftop.

The Notebook was pretty rough for me. Not because I am gigantic sap, which I am, but because the story reminded me too much of my own, specifically the story with the aforementioned rooftop. In all honesty, it is also the only Sparks novel I have attempted to read. The movie is richer in detail and tells more of the story, so I gave up. He does have quite a few successful stories he’s shared, from the two I’ve mentioned to The Vow, Dear John, and the new one coming out soon, Safe Haven. Admittedly, I usually choose to watch romantic comedies over pure romance stories. Definitely, Maybe, anyone?

I miss having romance in my life. It has been entirely too long. There is an entire passionate side of me that just sits there, twiddling its thumbs. It has become a horse, bridled, with the reins pulled too tight and the bit digging into the soft parts of its mouth. It longs to walk, trot, canter, gallop. I may have to admit I am a little afraid of giving it its head. It hurts when someone knocks your horse out from under you when you’re in motion.

Sometimes I wonder how much I really practice what I preach, or if I have become to shy about it. I talk about imagination often, and how what we can do is only limited by our imaginations. I shy from a lot of possibilities, however, because they’re too far, too hard, too strange, in a different place in life. It is possible I am simply limiting my imagination, probably to protect myself. There is no gain without risk, however. Am I using my judgements, complaints, and uncertainties to keep myself safe from harm? I like to think not, that I am simply waiting for the right situation.

I may be hiding from it.


And a thousand words, goodnight.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Poem Yesterday, Poem Today


The sound of the needle
inches above the phonograph,
the record stopped.
The clash of snow falling
in a moonlit forest on a winter's night.
The song of a sultry voice
after the pianist has left the lounge,
and the janitor long since brushed away 
the last dust from the shoes of the evening's dancers.
The quiet only a blind man knows
when no one else is close enough to touch
and all else is stillness.

The Death of the Author

The death of the author was regrettable,
but inevitable. It happened quickly,
his life punctuated quite literally.
His fingers left the keyboard thoughtlessly
as carefree as they ever had.
The final keystroke sealed his fate,
a single fingertip, a half-filthy key
that has never seen a lock.
And yet, as sure as any that turned 
to keep the monsters in, or out
it trapped him, closed the way forever
to whatever intentions he had meant
to put into the words he typed.
It is certain they were good and
it is likely the road lead where such things 
usually do.

The funeral was beautiful
millions came, bought and sold,
each reader brought his or her own voice
colored by his or her own experienced.
Some read within the lines.
Some read so far out 
the work was hardly recognizable.
The epitaph read,
"New York Times best seller."

And the author, while hardly Lazarus,
waited a few days until the aftermath
had settled into the dust of time,
then stood, shoved his hands into his pockets
and strode on down the road less traveled by
toward the next little death,
the next gravestone, the next laurel, the next trophy
to set on his bookshelf, tucked between
a pair of angelic bookends
that at second glance,
may have been gargoyles.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Well, I suppose an honest entry is due. Now that I’ve finished the first draft of my book, binge gamed, and read, it’s time to actually write something with content. Not to say it will be worth reading, but it will say. . . well, something.

It’s Monday morning and I am back at work after four days off. The company was closed for Thanksgiving, I took Friday off and then had the weekend. For the most part it was great. My family was out of town, so I had dinner with a friend and his wife. No turkey. The less traditional the better on Thanksgiving, I think. It’s my least favorite holiday. Gluttony is one of my least favorite vices. If I could give up eating without suffering the consequences, I probably would.

It’s not that eating isn’t an interesting experience. Taste is an interesting sense and I wouldn’t want to give that up. Being required to eat for sustenance is what I would pass on. Save my taste buds for wine, dark chocolate, Haribo, and the occasional delicious meal. Left to my own devices, I make a minimal effort to feed myself. It’s not an intentional thing. I just eat because I get hungry. If I’m wrapped up in whatever I’m doing, I’d much rather just keep doing that than eat.

Along with gluttony, rampant materialism is another vice I am not fond of. (Man, that sentence looks terrible with a preposition at the end. The “correct” version just sounds so stuffy and archaic: “of which I am not fond.”)  Parenthetical aside (beat), I turn into a hermit while the rest of America is busy deluding itself into thinking that they’re “saving” money. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate a decent sale. I picked up a couple of mentally stimulating video games off of Steam. I then proceeded to challenge myself over and over for the rest of the weekend. I’m just not going to lie to myself about what my actions meant: I spent money. Were I saving any, it would still be in my bank account. I may have spent less, but spend money I did. It’s a pretty picture those savings-tinted glasses paint, but the Emerald City still ain’t green.

The fact remains, beyond the necessities, give me a guitar, a computer, and a Kindle and I’m set. For you lovers of tomes, it isn’t that I don’t love the physical book; I have a library. It’s just a lot easier to pack a Kindle. I have yet to acquire one, actually. I currently use the Kindle app on my computer, however, and get mildly irritated that I can’t take my book and sit on the couch in front of the wood stove with a glass of wine. One the other hand, I still want physical copies of my favorite books. It’s important to leave them in plain sight ready to trap the unwary reader into literary enjoyment.

It’s not that I really have anything against vices. Everyone needs a vice. Some are simply healthier than others. Or more fun. I’m a particular fan of wine, coffee, vanity, and people watching. (That’s is a nice way of saying I’m mildly voyeuristic.)Vanity in others is something I actually enjoy. I admire a certain degree of self-love. Vices take those overbearing righteous parts of our selves and make us unfailingly and unflatteringly human. It’s beautiful.

Which is your favorite of the cardinal, or “Seven Deadly” sins? In case you’ve forgotten, they’re Lust, Pride, Gluttony, Wrath, Sloth, Envy, and Greed.
In further news, my new-to-me Ford Escape continues its descent into a rustic exhaust belching environmental hazard on wheels. I expect clouds of black smoke to belch from the tailpipe any day now. I’m exaggerating, but my catalytic converters keep tossing their filtration system down the lines and clog up the next one down. This causes the exhaust in the system to build pressure until it releases from the weakest point. The weakest point happens to be an item called an EGR valve. Does it pry the hose from the valve? No, it blows a hole in the pewter-like wall of the contraption. While the vehicle will still run in this state, it means that the exhaust blows out into the car anytime you’re going less than 35 miles per hour. Cough. Cough. Hack. Gag. Die of asphyxiation.

This is the second time this has happened since I bought the car in August. Awesome, right? Even better, it happened on the same stretch of road while I was heading out of town on a Sunday afternoon, both times. Why, SUV, do you hate going to Coeur D’Alene?

Other than that particular event, I truly enjoyed my binge gaming over the holiday. I spent some time replaying Dishonored and XCom, then bought Orcs Must Die 2 and well, goodbye fair world. I’ll be in Tower Defense land for a while. I’d rather be there now, to be quite honest. This whole work thing isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. ;)

A lot of people are excited for the holidays, by which I mean Christmas. Me, I’m more excited for the End of the World. Capitalized. Don’t worry, I haven’t suddenly unveiled myself as some kind of doomsayer. My friends and I have been planning a party the evening of the 20th since high school, when we first watched a National Geographic movie about the Mayans, long before it became a fad. That day is coming quickly and people are coming from all over to attend. One of my best friends and the woman who isn’t his wife yet but will be before the party is coming from Florida, another friend and his fiancĂ© are coming from Ohio, a couple of friends are coming from Boise, some from Oregon, and so on and so forth.

If you aren’t aware, what makes the Mayan prediction interesting is that it isn’t just some random prophecy by whatever whackjob happened to be the big name in soothsaying at the time. The event, whatever it is meant to be, is part of a calendar full of astrological events. This calendar has been predicting eclipses and so on for hundreds of years. The startling part of this is that about 1100 years later their predictions are only off by 13 seconds. Certainly made me think twice.

Thinking twice, however, means looking things up and finding out what smart people who know what they are talking about are actually saying about things. Really, it’s the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which is simply the end of a cycle. A really long one. According to the Mayans, the end of a cycle was something to be celebrated. Well, great minds think alike. I’ll raise a glass to you, long gone advanced civilization. If I had to guess why you suddenly and inexplicably abandoned your culture, it was probably because someone voted for your era’s version of Romney. Nothing could survive that.

I’m joking.

I’ll stop babbling for a while. I’m certain there’s only so much one can take of coherent rambling. No, that’s not a typo. I’m just that vain. ;)

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Friday, November 2, 2012



If a woman could write herself,
form herself of crafted words,
make of herself a golem
of grammar and syntax,
metaphor and metonymy;

if she could shape herself
into silent, still, soliloquy;
her cunning sharp and carved of consonance;
her curves soft, sculpted so from sibilance;
her emotions openly evoked in assonance,
if a woman could make herself
into such a thing,
oh, what a book you’d be.

And what a man could do with such a book,
her pages laid out before him.
He might take in her scent
or run a finger down her spine
treasuring the tingle of the title
beneath a cartographer’s wandering fingertips.

For certain he would read her,
once, twice, and then again
til she was as worn from care as he, yet free
from careless dog eared marks
or any annotations desperate to define her.
He’s the kind of man
who remembers where all his favorite parts are
but would read every page again
just to laugh once more at a piece of witty banter,
the same place he’s laughed at
a thousand times before.

If a woman could write herself,
form herself of crafted words,
if a woman could make herself
into such a thing,
oh, what a book you’d be.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Meaning of Life

Time for another break from The West Wind. 25,768 words since 10/22/2012.

Albert Camus once said, “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” I can only imagine that Sisyphus took things a step beyond happiness. Forced to roll his boulder up and watch it roll down, I find myself imagining him dubbing the boulder Wilson, (How many centuries he waited for the perfect name!), and making it not his burden, but his fast friend. Like a snowboarder who spends two hours hiking a snow covered peak for the thrill and freedom of a 15 minute ride back down, I picture this supposedly tragic character rolling his stone to its peak then turning and racing it down. Trying to climb on top and ride it to the bottom. What would the gods care, having judged him and left him to his doom? Indeed, would he be any less lost without Wilson than Tom Hanks was in Cast Away? Without his burden, no matter how absurd his struggle, without it he is not Sisyphus. Without Sisyphus, the boulder is inert, nothing worthy of a story. Without the boulder, Sisyphus would be just another cruel king forgotten on the tides of time.

Camus called life, “absurd.” I would argue that perhaps intrinsic is better diction. Life is it’s own meaning. We are defined by whatever Wilson our own has shaped for us, and our Wilson defines us. The logic is circular because most things in our lives are. Western minds have difficulty accepting this; they want stories to have a beginning and an end.

Science has shown us that the intrinsic values of our experiences are the only ones that lead to a sense of well-being and fulfillment. We must first come to terms and gain the means to deal with our burden. We first climb through Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs until we are satisfied that yes, we can roll the boulder up the hill. We claim food and shelter, then reach for the next level. Once there, it has been proven that human beings function and perform below par when their motivations are not intrinsic. In particular this refers to any form of creativity, which encompasses anything from coding an original iPad app to writing a symphony.

It is not so far-fetched then, that existence could be it’s own purpose. Life is not absurd because it lacks meaning. It’s intrinsic, because it is it’s own meaning. Where Western thought has difficulty with this is because it’s been educated to expect a great purpose for all things rather than taught to accept that all things have their purpose. Yet we reach more and more as a population for Eastern philosophies and practices. The popularity of yoga, the advent of Positive Psychology that so closely mirrors Eastern wisdom in its teachings, a generation of adults who are realizing that money never bought them happiness and a generation of young adults who don’t want to go into the corporate work force because they want their lives to have a greater purpose. As a civilization, many of us are seeking meaning, without realizing we already have it.

I propose that Camus was right. Sisyphus must be happy. Not because existence has no meaning, but because he found meaning in the simplest place he could: his own existence.

This is not the answer to the meaning of life. That’s 42. This is just a few thoughts on the subject. Don’t bother to ask what the question is. The Earth will be destroyed before we figure that out. Pack a towel.