12:10 am – as i sit down to write this i have no idea what i'm going to say or how to format this free write since no one does this in real life and most of the people will be like 'what the fuck is this shit?' and then click away from this blog possibly never to return. but why does that matter to me anyway – hahahahaha in this stupid movie we're watching called the ugly truth the male lead just told the female lead to 'eat the hot dog real slow because men like watching penis shaped food go into girl's mouths' that's a pretty good line and i'm not usually one for crude humor, but that works – also i just noticed a product placement in this movie for Sprint it seems like there's product placement in every movie now except period pieces and movies about the holocaust which is a period piece jim – damn, you're an idiot. i heard the term arm-candy for the first time today with concern to some rapper's girlfriend – i like it. i gave a social media workshop for a client today it went really well i know way too much about this stuff and explain it fairly well and break it down to simple concepts. damn i'm suddenly jonesing for cuban food. i miss the ocean. i feel like i'm running out of things to say or whether i'll really publish this raw internal dialogue at all but now it seems like my fingers are going by themselves and my kids are in the next room sleeping and i think they're the best things i've ever done in my life and really that's all that matters to me even though i'm the disciplinarian i'm ok with that because i do love them so and i never even liked kids before we had some of our own. they grow fast. don't let anyone tell you differently – which no one does because everyone says they grow fast you never hear people say kids grow slow but really they grow proportionately to time passing it's really just a cliched way to say i really don't spend enough time with my kids and i keep looking over at them and they've grown a new adult tooth or they're going to need a training bra in a couple of years or you wonder whether or not the shoes you got them in spring still fit them in the fall. they don't by the way because they grow too fast. and love is fleeting and there are seven dogs years in every human year and dogs don't live long enough. but the beach stays the same no matter what unless you're on a NC beach in which case they let you build right on the sand with no dunes and sure enough a tropical system comes through and everyone's like 'what the fuck happened to my house on stilts?' i'll tell you what happened – life. we say nature of the beast when really it's just nature of nature. cliches suck. so do puns. i fucking hate puns but sometimes they're useful because they reach so many people and really when you're in advertising and you're trying to talk to so many different kinds of people at once puns sometimes work – only those are the kinds of jobs you want to get done and get paid and get out from. my laptop is dying with each keystroke and i need a new macbook but am a cheap bastard and will milk this machine as long as i can – i could keep going here but i can't because it's late and we have soccer all day the next two days which means i'll be keeping stream-of-consciousness in my head like i do every. single. day. it's so fun being me. 12:21 am
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Nov 14, 2009
One time I was on a ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and I saw this beautiful girl with her hair braided into cornrows with white beads at the end of each braid. She was standing against a rail on the upper deck, silhouetted against the bright afternoon sky. I was 15, chubby, and very aware of my mother’s admonition that girls would never like me if I didn’t lose weight. I didn’t care about all that. I needed to talk to this girl. I walked away from my family, resting on benches near our green metal-sheathed Coleman cooler, and mounted the steps to the upper deck.
I don’t remember what I said to her in the first moments but… then again, perhaps I do. She was peeling a large apple with this dark-bladed paring knife and that struck me as somehow sinister. Yes, I’d have made a comment about the knife. It didn’t really matter what I said though. Michelle didn’t really speak any English. She gestured at me with the knife in response to her comment and I fled. The steel piping of the stair rail felt especially cold as I made my way down toward my family.
That wasn’t the end. Obviously it wasn’t the end or I’d never have found out her name.
She came for me. Gestured for me to come speak with her. I didn’t know any French at the time & the image of the knife was still quite clear in my mind… I asked my older sister (who spoke French) to come with me. She did. We spoke a little bit. We agreed to write.
I don’t get that. Why would two kids living hundreds of miles away from each other and speaking different languages decide to exchange addresses? She wrote me one letter. It was all in French and took me days to translate with a clunky French/English dictionary. No typing things into Babelfish then. Her letter was all about a vacation she’d taken to the White Mountains with some friends. They’d gone swimming every day. I used to swim every day in the Summer. I thought about what she’d look like swimming. She had perfectly tanned arms. I thought she must be a good swimmer.
She told me her birthday in that letter. She was 7 months older than me. I don’t know why it mattered then. I wrote back. That was it.
Months later, the home video of our vacation played during a quiet moment of a family gathering. The deck of the ferry glowed gray on the TV screen. Then she appeared, braids swinging, those eyes, her right arm lifted to gesture a hello toward what would have been me sitting to the left of the camera.
My brother asked who she was waving at. My father told him she’d been waving at me.
My brother, seven years my senior, looked at me differently after that.
I’ve never been afraid to say hello to anybody after I met Michelle. Then again, I’ve never met anybody quite so beautiful either.
Nov 14, 2009
The fight happens a lot. Living on a second-floor apartment in Manhattan, we hear sirens all the time. They blend into the din of horns and loud garbage trucks for most people. Not me. I blame Adam-12 and Emergency. At the first yelp or wail, my trusty Bearcat is on and scanning for the FDNY or NYPD channel carrying juicy radio transmissions of the incident behind the sirens. Maureen isn’t amused. That’s because the siren that jostled me out of bed at 4 a.m. was just ambient noise to her. And because she spent years tending to mangled trauma victims in an intensive care unit. I too relied on the tragedy behind sirens for my paycheck, but in manner far less personal than Maureen’s. As a teenage traffic reporter on 50,000-watt WHAM radio in Rochester, highway crashes and fires were fodder for my next “CommuterWatch” update. As a kid at Utica College, trying to scrape together cash for my next rent check and a beer at Spilka’s, my scanner was on so I could earn $40 from UPI every time I called in a story on a mob killing. But I didn’t have to tend to the victims and their families like my wife. She knew I had a scanner when we got married, and made fun of the nerdiness of my obsession. But the teasing is serious now, especially with our nearest fire truck, Engine 21, making tons of runs each week. Mo wants to forget bad memories and I want to relive my youth. There’s a disconnect that probably can’t be fixed unless I can be conditioned to turn over in bed when a sergeant in the NYPD’s 17th Precinct calls the next “Level One,” triggering a massive blue and white response. But like the earliest Bearcats, whose channels were selected by crystals that were “manufactured to receive radio calls on a single, I fear I am permanently programmed as morbidly curious former police reporter. On our divorce decree, the cause won’t be infidelity or spousal abuse. It will read: Their squelch levels were simply different.
Nov 14, 2009
Oops. Left off the word “frequency.” Should read “xxxx receive radio calls on a single frequency.” Dave regrets the error.
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman
Nov 14, 2009
A fellow Twitter screenwriter eagerly asked me to read his very first script, which he had just done a major revision on. I forewarned him, “i only critique brutally honest… I don’t know how to sugar coat. If it’s shit, I’m telling you it’s shit.” He confidently sent the file. It was shit. However, I didn’t just send a one-line email saying it was shit, instead, I reread the script, spent an hour writing a careful email, analyzing where I felt the problems were, and offered solutions. Five hours of my life… when I have a desk FULL of my own work to do and a script waiting to be written. But I hit “send.” He read. He sent me a one-line despondent email back. I later looked at his Twitter stream. He posted that he cried. He was pissed. He was hurt. Great. People suck. They ask you a huge favor, ask for honesty, but nobody really wants honesty. I’m not always honest. I’ve lied. Santa. Need I say more? The day my girl found out there was no Santa, she looked me dead in the eye, “Mommy, I trust you. You NEED to tell me the truth…. is there a Santa Claus?” I burst into tears. So did she. I held her and we cried. Brutal honesty sucks. Will I go to confession and spew all my sins and lies? Hell no. There are too many. My priest would fall over. Let’s face it. He doesnt want to hear them anyway… no more than the people I have lied to do. Everyone wants the pretty little picture. Your script is wonderful. Oh no, that dress doesnt make you look fat. Yes, I love you. Smile. Always smile.
Nov 14, 2009
Let’s see what happens. I’m a curious person by nature, but don’t always indulge it because God knows where it will lead. Especially online, I am exceedingly careful what I divulge and to whom and when about whatever. Control seems to be an underlying and overriding issue there. However, once it’s online, it exists FOREVER. Why don’t we live every moment as if it’s FOREVER (echo echo echo)? Why is it only when it’s documented do we consider the repercussions of our actions? I always have a different voice when writing. The Internal Grammarian, a vestige of my maternal grandmother’s influence is an omniscient copyeditor. How many voices do I have? Plenty. And those who know me probably don’t even know how many there are. I let few into the Inner Sanctum. Very. Except the bazillions of folks out there who are now reading. What is in the silence? Two things come to mind: Stephen King’s short story, “The Jaunt,” which recounts the inconceivable void of consciousness and a recent twitter post of mine regarding Hubble’s picture of Deep Space. There is no silence. What we perceive as such is actually babble at a frequency we can’t recognize. Then I get myself all mentally immersed in logical gymnastics and decide f*ck it. I’m going dancing. I think best when I don’t think. Paradox is a trip. Christ tried to tell us, but 2K years later, we still don’t get it. I am the Alpha and the Omega. It’s not just an alphabet. It’s reconciling totality and oneness within paradox. Once in awhile, I get a glimmer, and then *blip* – gone. I went on a retreat once – the topic of the Celts and ‘thin places’ came up in conversation. I don’t know if I have the fortitude to exist in the thin places yet. I think that exposure to totality has to be meted out, because the intensity of knowing is too much to download at once. Oh! topic shift: and whoo hoo on finding water on the moon! Now we can pin our hopes on mining that resource and forget working on a solution on this planet. When will we learn? I don’t think we’re supposed to. The learning is the journey. Holy sh*t. See what happens when my brain goes on autopilot? 9:26 a.m.
Nov 14, 2009
Stream of thought writing without the ability to go back and correct it is similar to improvisational comedy or theater, sometimes brilliant, more often crap. I always tend to write stream of conciousness, possibly due to certain activities back in the 60’s, but do always go over it at least quickly before letting it out into the world. The other thing that strikes me about this form of writing is that you’re getting a candid snapshot of a persons thoughts, as opposed to the carefully crafted portraits that my aunt loves to take, arranging everyone in the family for ten minutes before finally snapping the photo. I do prefer the candid shots, when I look back at pictures those are the ones that really bring that person to life for me. The other type are for sitting with the kids years later and going “Yes, that’s your Great Aunt Gertrude, and that guy was your cousin Anne’s boyfriend that we never saw again…”, etc.
Thoughts rolling through my head, was recently very sick for almost a month, very unusual for me, never get really sick usually. Raised all kinds of thoughts of mortality and responsibility to the top of my mind. One very sobering thought is I am something of a pack-rat, partly the nature of the business I’m in (selling used books and epehmemera) and partly just who I am. I have a huge 13 room house and barn and garage all stuffed with boxes and pretty much everything I’ve accumulated in the last 56 years. I love the physical connection with my past, everywhere I look are memory touchstones to my past, and I am lucky in having had a pretty happy interesting one. But then I think about what would happen to all this if I died suddenly, my two young teenage children couldn’t really deal with it, my sister lives 12 hours away. I guess it’s time to start putting a little more order into my life. Not too happy with that, so have been rather sober in my thoughts lately, and have not written much. I usually want my writing to either make people laugh or think or preferably both. Well, eleven minutes are up. This is what it is.
Nov 14, 2009
So I’m sitting here in Jiffy Lube waiting on my car. I don’t like having to take care of these sorts of things, but hey I’m the one who wanted to be all independent and feminist-y. I think I’m abou over that now. I really would appreciate a partner who would do this for me. What a waste of a Saturday afternoon. Well not this Saturday with this sissy misty rain. Pour already, then I feel justified in going home to lay on the couch. Wait, is it un-PC to say sissy? Damn it I hope know takes offense to it. Oh well too late now. So they guy just told me that I need all this stuff done on my car. So what started as a $35 oil change is now about $200. It sucks to have an old car. Car payments suck worse though. O need coffee. And food. Why didn’t I stop for food before I got here. Oh another lady just walked in. Now i’m not the only one anymore. The men in here look very unhappy. I can’t imagine why. Thank god I don’t have to come back for 3 months or 3000 miles.
Nov 14, 2009
I want a fucking cigarette. There, I said it. I know I shouldn’t admit it, and I know I shouldn’t cuss, but there it is. I just want a fucking cigarette.
I don’t want the patch. I don’t want the gum. I don’t want the piece of crap electronic cigarette that lays upon my desk mocking me with it’s hundred dollar price tag. No tar! No CO2! What they don’t tell you is that they taste like dead people in your mouth. I do not want dead people in my mouth. I do not want carrot sticks in my mouth. I do not want pretzels, or apples, or celery in my mouth.
I just. Want. A fucking. Cigarette.
I do not want to write. I do not want to read. I do not want to have lunch with friends, or go to the mall with my sister. I do not want to facebook or twitter. I do not want to parent. I do not want to be married. I do not want to have sex with you, and if you would be so kind as to stop breathing in my vicinity, I will not have to stop what I’m doing to kill you. And yes, I did just call you a Mother Fuck-Asshat Son-of a God-Damned Whore Mongering Bastard under my breath, and no I do not know what that means, and what’s more, I couldn’t give a good God damn who heard me, I just want a fucking cigarette!
Breath, girl. Calming breaths. In and out. Phooo.
And now I feel awful, and I want to cry. He deserves better than that, but I called him a Mother Fuck-AssHat Son of a God-Damned Whore Mongering Bastard.
“Congratulations, you’ve just earned six hundred, sixty-six Frequent Flier points to Hell. Thank you for flying Brimstone Airlines.”
But no, wait! This isn’t me! I do not know who this angry, desperate woman is that is living inside of me, feeding off the nicotine in my blood stream. I am not that person. I’m a good person. I feed the hungry, and I adopt stray dogs, and I love my family, and I’m always there for my friends. I’m loyal. I’m kind. I’m compassionate. I’m a democrat, for Christ’s sake!
I will not smoke a fucking cigarette. No, instead, I will accept all the lovely platitudes and congratulations from people who have no clue what is whirling around behind my smile. And I will wear the patch, and I will chew the gum, and I will suck dead people into my mouth. I will scarf enough carrot sticks and pretzels and apples and celery to feed a third world nation. I will write, and I will read, and I will parent. I will have lunch and go to the mall and facebook and twitter And yes, I will have sex with you, and I will really, really try not to kill you if you breath in my vicinity, and I will bite my tongue.
And then we will go to sleep and another night will pass, and in the morning I will wake up and trundle to my office. There, I will sit at my desk and look through the French doors to where the sun will rise on a brand new day, full of hope and promise. And I will breathe a little bit deeper. And I will breathe a little bit longer. And life will be just a little bit better.
Without the fucking cigarettes.
Nov 14, 2009
Damn, you make me want a cigarette. LOL That was a fantastic lightening-fast range of emotion.
Nov 14, 2009
“…most of the people will be like ‘what the fuck is this shit?’ and then click away from this blog possibly never to return.”
That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ll also never tweet you again. Nah, I’ll be back soon. Consider this an appetizer to get you prepped for a bad greasy meal that is so tragic you blame the waitress and refuse to leave a tip. I’m too distracted to write or read more at this time.
See you in a few hours!
Nov 14, 2009
hahaha I have four blogs all based on the notion that stream of consciousness writing is pure genius. I stand by that.
Nov 15, 2009
Reading what you wrote felt like you just opened your overcoat and flashed . . . your mind and heart. Honesty is beautiful, thank you.
Nov 15, 2009
I’m back! I love your piece Jim. Love it, want to marry it, no pre-nup! Sadly most all of my free flowing stream goes directly into emails for each and every friend who winds up in my contacts. I sometimes regret that because it’s so solo and winds up rather overwhelming to the recipient. But hey, it was for them anyway, so deal, right?
Arm Candy, delightful term. I’ve heard but never used it. Would be good to use it in reference to someone’s dog. Like if I see you holding Sammy I can whisper to my friends, “Check out that dude’s arm candy” and I might get a laugh. Maybe.
“[…]my laptop is dying with each keystroke and i need a new macbook but am a cheap bastard and will milk this machine as long as i can -”
Same here pal, same here.
And all hail this blog of yours! It’s always been one of my favorites. MILK IT!
Nov 17, 2009
Stopped by to read as I read virtually anything and everything that passes under my nose (which can’t be good for my vision, but that’s another matter…speaking of which, Jim, the reversed out white-on-black background is doubly tortuous to read, but I can’t tear myself away somehow), and I’m finding myself stuck for a moment. As in sticky, not blocked. I like it. It’s voyeuristic for me to read the blogpost and especially the comments. In my mind’s eye, in their mind’s eye, is kind of the effect. I’m diggin’ it. I’m unpleasantly distracted by social media tonight, though I typically have no problem just tuning out. Snap. Like that. But not tonight. In my subconscious I’m feeling it’s because I’m procrastinating on some preparation for a looooonnng meeting tomorrow (including printing out gobs of documents). I never, like never, procrastinate. I wonder if my dreams tonight will explain why it’s happening now. Maybe because I’m fantasizing about going into the meeting without any prep and just wingin’ it. After all, so many meetings end up at that same place. And here I’m finding myself censoring my stream-of-consciousness all of a sudden as it occurs to me the damaging things I could say just now on that point about meeting disintegration, but I’m going to refrain from it. Just change the topic for a moment (I think a shrink would have some insights on that instinctive suppression of my thoughts re:work and meetings. But I’m just going to call it survival instinct for now). Thankful for my delicious blog comment distraction, but realizing that my social media distraction may need to come to an end tonight with this comment. This very comment.
Nov 22, 2009
it felt is if your thoughts were the performance and i was the spectator. i love this. i would like to try this one day.
My novel – Minor King
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