Friday, July 27, 2007

An Open Letter to My Muse, After Running Completely Dry

Quit your fucking complaining and get out of bed.

I know - you haven't written anything over at Dirt Dogs in over a month. Can't think of anything to write. Hellacious writer's block. Blah blah blah. Even here on this blog, which is as close to empty mental masturbation as it gets - you haven't written anything in weeks.

Well, sport, I hate to tell you, but that just ain't good enough. Writers write - that's what makes them writers. And you aren't writing shit lately, which must mean you're not a writer - or not much of one.

What's the matter? Sure, you don't labor under the structured life of a REAL writer - a beat writer, for example, knows exactly what he's going to write about every day: the game, and maybe another six to twelve column-inches of notebook. A columnist has a good idea of what to write, and besides, he has to write something because his livelihood depends on it. Ditto a writer of books: gotta get that three to six pages per day in, and at the end of the year you got yerself a whole new book.

But you? You don't have to worry about anything. You write just for the sheer pleasure of writing, of looking back on a finished piece and deriving pleasure in its creation. The simplest, least complicated avenue to creative expression there is, for Christ's sake!

And you can't even get it together to write down 400 pleasant words that please people.

You have 30 bad pages of a book you started years ago that you're afraid to look at because you cringe at the stiff dialog, improbable circumstances and outlandish plot. Have another latté, you lazy bastard. You know in your heart that first drafts are always bad, but you still use that as an excuse to ignore it for yet another weekend, month, year.


You're not a writer. You're just fucking pretending.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Learning to Fly - the Prequel

As I was casting about for another embarrassing story about myself, which apparently has become the raison d'etre of this little chucklefest, it occurred to me in a flash that there was a rich vein of comedy gold out there that has yet to be tapped.

For, my friends, I have flown through the air before.

March 5th, 1991. I'm standing outside my good friend The Corporal's house with his cousins Brian and Glenn, some ten and twelve years our junior, and a bunch of our friends. We were just about ready to head over to our regular hangout (Cpl's brother Steve's pad in Revere), there to wait for the midnight showing of The Doors movie.

Brian and Glenn were clowning around, throwing rocks at streetlights, generally doing kid stuff, nothing major. For the life of me I don't know how it happened but I chanced to get into a footrace with Brian, the older of the two.

It was then that I learned the first important lesson of the evening: overweight 23-year-olds tend not to run as fast as fit thirteen-year-olds. I was, to the surprise of precisely nobody, losing the race, and losing it ugly. So much so, in fact, that I started silently thanking the city planners that this street was straight and not oval, lest he lap me and start running backwards, taunting me as he fades into the distance for a second time.

So it was with these thoughts of impending humiliation with which my brain was preoccupied, when it was broken out of its reverie with a priority telegram from my left foot:


(for you youngsters who might not know what a telegram is: look it up)

Never let it be said that my left foot lied: After a majestic yet all too short sail through the air, down I went like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. I put my hands in front of me to break my fall - and brother, break they did.

My father took me to the ER when he got home from work the next morning (he was working nights then), and they put casts on both my hands. My right hand had a little mobility - it was a smaller cast with just a band across my palm. But my left hand - I'm a lefty - was casted such that the only flesh one could see was the very tips of my fingers and thumb.

For six gorgeous weeks I had casts on both hands.

I know what you're thinking right now, or something close. You are all thinking, "well how could he _(specific function here) ?" Let's get it all out on the table: I couldn't. Whatever you're thinking, I couldn't do it, and let's just leave it at that.

The list of miseries was long and fraught with sorrow. Driving, for instance: I drove a stick and until I learned to manipulate the shifter with the palm part of my cast I was a menace on the roads. Working was nearly impossible: I worked tech support and had to log every call's details on a computer. Ever tried to type without being able to bend your wrists? I had to position my hands above the keyboard like some lunatic puppeteer and divebomb each key with an unmoving hand, hoping I hit the right key, which I did maybe 30% of the time.

I had to put a plastic bag over my casts to shower. It's hard enough putting a bag over your arm when you're in a cast - now try putting one over your other arm with an arm that's in a cast in a goddamn bag already! And when that's done, try taking a shower. If you can get 60% clean, god bless you, bunky, 'cause you did better than me.

Eventually they were pleased enough with the progress of my right wrist that they took off one cast, so certain things could get back to normal: I didn't need my mother cutting my food, for one thing. And about six weeks after that, they took the left one off and life once again returned to normal. Or close to normal: My arms looked like those of a long-dead Pharaoh, all crusty and flaky - truly disgusting.

Also, to this day, anyone who shakes my hand feels, and hears, a click that is at best surprising and a touch disturbing, and at worst creepy and off-putting, depending on the weather. Which, by the way, the doctor who casted me promised I'd be able to forecast; no such luck. The wrists only hurt when the weather IS bad. All of the pain, none of the cool psychic weather guy act.

But I got through it, and I learned a valuable lesson in the whole ordeal: if you're going to break both your wrists, for the love of God, have a girlfriend.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Are You Quite Sure You Wouldn't Like Some of my Corn Dog?

Well, it's been almost three weeks since my last embarassing post, so I thought I'd make with another one, since apparently my TiVo Chronicles have driven my readership to serial yawning. This incident took place when I was 15 years old, some 23 years ago.
My first real girlfriend was a girl named M. M, if you're out there, stay there. M was 17 and was at that point already a woman of the world, if you catch my drift. To her credit she wasted no time in making me a man of the world. We knocked around for about a year and a half before I just got so sick and tired of her endless whining and adolescent insecurities that I, at this point a boy of 16, actually turned down the nookie just to not be with her. But I digress.
I first decided to ask her to go steady with me when we went to the Topsfield Fair, a local ag fair and carnival that is an institution in our little corner of the world. I took M there and was encouraged by the signs she was putting off - she let me put my hand in her back pocket in that cool '80's way that people did, so I got to look cool as well as touch her hiney. Also in the ride of horrors or whatever the hell it was, she let me kiss her, so I figured, ok, I have something here.
So later that afternoon, after popcorn and corn dogs and chips and a bunch of other fair fare, we were strolling, hand in hiney, until we came across a ride that looked harmless enough. M begged to go on the ride and, like a grade-a jackass already thinking with the wrong head, I agreed. The ride -- ugh, I still shudder just thinking about it -- was basically a washing machine. You sat down, they strapped you in rather aggressively, and then pressed a button, which apparently started the spin cycle. We were hurtled forward like two astronauts in training, around and around and around at dizzying speed. The color drained from my face and I could feel every piece of popcorn, every bite of corn dog, straining to slip the surly bonds of my stomach.
At last came a glorious moment when I felt that the ride was slowing down. After checking to make sure it wasn't my own consciousness ebbing away from me, I felt with aching relief that this hell-trip was soon to be at its end, and that whatever desire my lunch had to once again see the light of day would go unfullfilled. The ride slowed ever more, until at last, it came to a blessed stop.
Then started going around, backward, just as fast as before.
This was obviously far too much to bear.
I'm not proud of what happened next - it certainly could be described as a candidate for "worst date moment ever." No verbal treatment, no passage of time, can sugarcoat it: I threw up spectacularly, over me, over M, over the ride, over everything. The centrifugal force applied on us meant that instead of just dripping slowly off our clothes, and M's face, it streamed out from the original landing points like raindrops on a windshield. And since the food in my stomach was relatively new and thus mostly undigested, it was sickeningly recognizable as it came out.
It was, in short, a disaster. But M, without a thought for herself or her predicament, led me by the arm to the nearest bundle of napkins and started cleaning us up. The only emotion she showed was concern for me, and I found that endearing as all hell. I kissed her (THAT must've been swell) and asked her to wear my pin, as it were, thinking it an upgrade from the contents of my stomach. And from that point on we were an item, until I made the correct decision that no amount of hiney touching was worth her incessant whining and complaining.