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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Roll Call...

I've switched over to the beta version of blogger and in the process, it looks like some commentators identities were changed to "anonymous." It wasn't my doing. Please take no offense.

Speaking of visitors, I'm going to request your indulgence. If you don't mind, make a comment to this post and just say "hey" or give your initials or identity or favorite ice cream flavor or something. I see the counter creeping up (this latest big jump I know came from some tinkering I was doing which resulted in numerous visits) and wonder who's dropped by or if some of these hits are from the kind of adbot software that showed up and left a link to a webpage on the post dated 11/11.

I guess I'm still amazed there are humans out there finding and reading this stuff. But I have to wonder just how many of you there really are.

Later humanoids.


Poetic license

Last night I got an urge to pull out some old files and look through them. I didn’t feel like writing, but I thought I might look at some poems I wrote about a decade ago. They were in a box in a file drawer up in the attic. I think there are over a 100 in all, plus assorted notes, scribblings, and first drafts of things written as an exercise when my wife and I used to host a writing group (this is something we are toying with starting back up). I believe that’s where the previous post about the dream came from.

There was one poem in particular I was looking for so of course I couldn’t find a copy of it. It may be lost for good. Most of the others are probably deserving of the recycle bin. I flipped through them while the tv was on, skimming the text at most. I found myself not really wanting to read them. It felt like when you bump into someone unexpectedly at a social event who you either feel guilty or embarrassed to see. It’s awkward and you have difficulty maintaining eye contact.

Most of these poems I wrote during a year long depressed period. They were a lifeline and a survival mechanism back then. And I loved them all like children. Now they strike me as juvenile, self-centered and amateurish. They are more obvious than clever. More sophomoric than wise. More spoiled than passionate.

Over the years I’ve written and probably forgotten a few short stories and also tinkered with 3 or 4 ideas for novels. In one case, I got as far as outlining and researching portions of the book and even writing a few chapters.

I saw some of these novel-related files mixed in with the poems and other stuff. I didn’t open the folders. I might be disappointed if I had. As it is, I think the stuff is probably half-baked. Which is not so bad I think.

Something that’s half-baked at least has all the right ingredients. They are prepared and mixed in the proper proportions. The dish is simply missing two things: heat and time.

Somebody stick a toothpick in me and tell me if I’m done.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

[I discovered this in a file of some old writings. It was scrawled in pen on a few sheets of a small spiral notebook that had been torn out and stapled together. It was in my handwriting, but I have no recollection of writing it or of the dream it details. I'm guessing it was written about 8 years ago.]

I dreamed last night. And in the dream I woke to strange noises in the house or if not strange noises, I woke up knowing someone was there. Whatever sixth sense it is that lets you know when someone is staring at you was going off the charts and startled me from sleep.

She was either oblivious or unwakeable – I don’t know if I remembered trying to wake her. But alone I rose to search the apartment. Perhaps she was even awake and talking to me, but like a siren call, I was drawn by something, some presence.

I moved through rooms without out my feet touching the floor and drifted into the living room where the something was. A dark figure moved strangely and soundlessly from spot to spot stealing bits of everything. It took a curio, a picture, a cd, a handful of the wall, a piece of the air. It didn’t carry a sack, but each stolen item simply vanished into its grasp.

I moved toward it and it merely shifted directions, consciously ignoring me. Neither of us made a sound as I approached it in the darkness. I tried to travel the whole distance between us, but seemed to scarcely make any progress toward it.

I reached it in the kitchen and suddenly (yet in the dream world, the change was unnoticeable as often happens) it went from some weird flitting shadow thing to a person, in jeans and a dark hooded sweatshirt. This strange stalking dance of ours ended and it went from ignoring me to a furious, yet still silent, response as I grabbed the arm of the sweatshirt.

We spun into each other’s grasp and struggled, standing and stumbling, crashing and spinning through the house. This feral vicious thing slung me around with a strength that matched my own.

Still she didn’t wake.

Through the living room and into the bathroom we crashed. In that small place we did great destruction, ripping the shower curtain from its rings, knocking shelves off the wall and scattering their contents, crushing bottles and boxes underfoot.

I was slammed back against the medicine cabinet and felt its mirrored face shatter. Pinned against the wall, off balance over the toilet, I felt my arm moving of its own accord along the wall, my hands frantically searching for the light switch as my enemy pressed his forearm into my face and my face into the wall.

My fingers found the switch and flipped it and with the sudden burst of light the situation also instantly changed and we two adversaries stood still facing each other in the center of the room, a bigger bathroom now with walls receding from us, walls covered in mirrors reflecting both our images. In the dream, I watched from outside myself in the third person as I, standing in boxers and a t-shirt stared into the face of the night visitor in the sweatshirt who was also me.

This feral beastly burglar version of my self stared right back and said two emotionless words in explanation.

"I’m hungry."

Then I awoke.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Disclaimer: Unlike most of the content here, this is a work of fiction.

Shoe Leather

He leaned over the sink to wash the shaving lotion from his neck. He had nicked himself in there somewhere with the new razor blade. If he wiped the blood away, a half-inch long thin line of red would appear magically in the same spot, the blood eventually mingling with drops of water and white lotion and trickling down his neck in a watery pink rivulet. It didn’t hurt. He straightened up and felt something pop and tighten in his back. He grimaced and stretched. Then sighed.

"At 16, it’s like shoe leather!" the aging orthopedic specialist said with enthusiasm. "Tough, thick, couldn’t saw through it with a knife. But by the time you’re 75 your rotator cuff is like wet cardboard." He pointed again with his pen to the x-ray image. "The structure in your shoulder is perfect. Nothing wrong there. The soft tissues of course aren’t going to show up on an X-ray so we wouldn’t see any problems on this." he said, tapping his pen rapidly on the image. He glanced at the chart again. "You’re too young to be having rotator cuff problems. But then again, you’ve got all the symptoms. We can give you a cortisone shot today if you want. If it’s not better after a few weeks, come back and see me."

"Too young." That’s what he always heard. "The doctor has my info on the chart, so he ought to realize I’m nearly 40." he thought to himself as he pulled off his t-shirt and sat on the examination table to wait for the injection. "Maybe that is too young."

He was cursed or blessed with a face that made him look at least ten years younger than he was. He was getting some flecks of grey in his hair, especially at the temples, but he still had a thick head of hair. It was a sandy brown color that hid the grey strands until they lay across his lap on the barber shop shroud. There they would lie like casualties mixed in with the brown and blond strands, stark white and stilled and suddenly evident against the black backdrop.

It had been a while since the last time he was carded buying alcohol, but not that long. He’d reached his 35th birthday the last time it happened. Still, all this youthful external appearance seemed only to exacerbate the internal effects of what he felt to be his rapidly aging body. Back. Hip. Knee. Now shoulder. Ulcers. Colon. Sinuses. Circulation. Digestion. He was never athletic in his youth and was now coming to terms with the fact that his window had closed. Permanently.

Arching his back by the sink, trying to work the early morning kinks out, it was his 8th and 9th vertebrae that were acting up this day. I know that not because I’m a doctor, but because I’m a narrator.

Do you know what narrators are? I don’t mean the type of answer you’d give in freshman English 101 or even a graduate level literary theory class. I mean in reality. We’re the deceased souls of characters, endowed at the instant of our deaths with photographic memories. We’re frozen in time and stuck in limbo tell we get someone to tell our stories. We don’t age anymore, because we’re ancient. We don’t die because we’re already dead. We’re two dimensional and always stand at right angles to reality, so we’re too thin to be seen, but you can hear our whisperings if you learn how to listen.

You want proof? Go to a library. You don’t think you humans are creative enough to do all that on your own do you?