Monday, July 06, 2009

On Writing

Being a writer terrifies me.

When the words come, they force their way out. Nothing clean about it. Projectile vomit after bad meat, with the sobbing afterward. Fingers chewed down to the bone. Bad digestion, an uncharged phone, unfilled time sheets. And then when the poem or story is written, it sits there like a self-content child, sleek and nourished and confident of its own precocity. You remain the withered host, nothing parental/familial/nutritional about it. You were used, your life blood and time sucked up into its creation.

What the fuck do you do with it now?

It sits there, points at your flab, your worn tooth brush, your cable tv package, your mother's concern and laughs. Chortles when you search the web for submission guidelines and deadlines. Falls over screaming with laughter as you send carefully worded emails to published folk, asking the kind ones if they would be even kinder, even more generous and be your readers. Waiting for months, waiting for months while denying all claims that you are in fact, waiting, that howling bastard laughter in your ear.

And the screaming tears when you take up a day job instead. Like a hungry orphan. Like a bayoneted baby. Like a man crushed under a fallen bridge. Like a pig being slaughtered.

You fall behind soon enough. No paycheck tops the high of getting out a perfectly balanced, well formed sentence. You return in fits. Surreptitious. An addict. The first three days of doing nothing but write are glory days, a paid vacation sur la plage somewhere in Sardinia. And then you run out. Of words, of patience, of time.

Slink back to the job. Whoever's depending on you breathes a sigh of relief. And then frowns. Because the best parts of you all went on those pages. The husk that's left is dry, useless for anything but a shallow container they use to roll around their small hard pebbled regrets in, rolling them around in your head till thoughts go TILT! TILT! TILT!

Silent and sterile and functional for the next few days. The boss even figures you've "found your feet".

Then some old beloved motherfucker shows up. Some dear friend from ages past. They find your vein, tap twice and shoot you full of reminders, of past glories imagined and real. They power up the synapses in your head till electric jumps between letters, phonemes, words, paragraphs turn your head into a giant plasma ball.

You spend the night pouring over a keyboard, typing sentence after sentence in that default Arial 10 never looking up to edit. This makes the page look like it's filled with two dimensional black millipedes copulating in a Madras monsoon, rows upon rows of them till dawn when you stop and drink insta-coffee and smoke and immediately fall asleep.

Bukowski was an ugly drunk, ornery and mad as hell, the kind that folk are uncomfortable around. But he is authentic as all get-out, the kind of authentic that people want to sell, if only they could get their fingers on it. But he is the main man because he figured out my main question, the one that can't be answered by pulling a nine of hearts from the old fortune teller's deck.

I don't mean contract writing. I don't mean the MFA professor who put you onto his agent writing. I don't mean the I have enough media interest in me to sell a book writing.

I mean being past the age of being considered a prodigy writing. I mean not too many friends who want to spend time with you writing. I mean being a failure writing, and then failing again. I mean being a paranoid lover writing, where you check your lines and syntax in the hall mirror even when you know they're watching. I mean questioning, doubting, being ungrateful and apologizing after they're dead writing. The empty room at the book reading, sitting there finishing the booze you brought with you in a pepsi bottle writing. I mean self sabotage writing.

How do you write like that and do anything else in the world? Day jobs? Bank accounts? Families? How do you pour your fucking mind and heart, what you believe into a page and then order lunch from a menu the next minute? How can you teach your kid about wrong and right when your words constantly get you into corners? How can you pray when all you think about when you close your eyes is a story's good ending? How can you love. How can you love.
How can you love?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Leggo my Eggo, Bitch! or the Terror of the Liberated Pot-Head

So Americans are overweight, they say. Especially Black women, folk in Mississippi, UPS delivery guys, pregger lesbians and kids named Carl. Ever since Moore made that film, every fatty who walks into a Wendy's or Mickey D's needs to move like they're Schwarzenegger hightailing it in the Running man. Except fatties don't high tail. And waddling fast doesn't help, so there they are, desperately counting out change for the Big N' Tasty® meal with BBQ sauce on the side, being stared down by every skinny shit in the place, the ones who sip their vanilla frosty and laugh into their bony little hyperthyroidic hands at fatty's lack of self control.

Screw that.

I blame the Marijuana lobbyists.

Yeah, that's right. Them pot-smoking, Iron Chef Japan watching, bacon and strawberry jam sammie eating lobbyists who dream of being featured in High Times and make jokes about it on the subway. I'm talking to you, Keith Stroup.

Geek pot-heads (the kind who get baked and then draw plans for rebuilding their desktop computer while quoting Star Wars and more recently, episodes of the Big Bang Theory) theorize that the sh*t's better than it ever was, and they aren't the only ones. According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA), THC levels are five times stronger than they were in the 1970s.

This ain't your gramma's pot. So while gramma only cut a few slices from that pot roast or crumbled a slice of raisin bread at 3am when the munchies kicked in, you go out and slaughter a suckling pig. Then inhale it. With ketchup.

Toked up, we are powerless against the urge to feed our faces: we eat whole cans of sliced pineapple off our fingers like they're yummy Rings of Power, laughing like maniacs all the while. We raid gas stations for Turkey Hill on a Sunday morning. We order Chinese take out. We drive to find a Burger King after watching the first Harold and Kumar for the 32nd time. We ask for extra cheese.

And those food manufacturers know it. The advertising! The all you can eat buffets! The diet pill makers know it too, except only models die from ODing on Hydroxycut so Fatties don't mind it. Much.

Ergo-- watch out, you state health care officials of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Your citizens have legal munchies. And we're hungry.

You can slap a tax on delicious fizzy drinks. You can intercept Hostess delivery trucks, and make gym visits mandatory.

But you cannot stop us all. There will come a Christmas Eve when you're in the dairy section standing in front of the last carton of egg-nog. And may God Have Mercy on your Lipo-suctioned, Deregulated Soul.

As for the rest of you skinny sots: travel only by daylight. And always keep a bag of Krispy Kremes in your car. You never know when you'll need a decoy.