Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No Room For Brains.

I realized today that I’m actually grateful for still having a part-time job. People everywhere are being laid off. Every day I read headlines like “Corporate Dick and Balls are reportedly cutting 5, 7, 10, 30,000 jobs this week,” and though I’m squeaking by, I feel damn lucky to still be receiving a modest paycheck every other week. But these poor tens of thousands who are lopped from their benefits, retirement, and way of life are doing exactly what I do part time: job search. And in response to the constant emailing of résumés, filling of applications, informal visits, and desperate phone calls asking, “Are you hiring?”, Roger accurately described the heavy tone of America by saying, “It’s scary out there.”
And scary it is. From my end, I wonder how long parents will have the money to keep enrolling their babies at Austin Community College. How long will they still need my help with English composition and literature? Understanding and writing about how Hemingway used setting to express abortion in “Hills Like White Elephants” seems trivial these days, but that’s what I do.
As far as I know, ACC’s not cutting jobs, but if they do, it’s a life of crime for me ‘cause I ain’t waitin’ in no bread lines. I’m an educated man for Cristo’s sake, a lover of words, knowledge, and ladies. Surely there’s a practical and safe niche for such qualifications. I’m a right or what? Hello?
Shit.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

An Occurrence

I’m working on a less cynical outlook of the world. Obama’s inauguration was an optimism that would do well to spread. People there, all 2 million or so, politely stepped out of each other’s way and smiled with intentions that were not stretched over frowning muscles, but ones that rooted all the way to their subconsciousness. We were happy and without suspicion in Washington D.C. The electing of an African-American president disarmed the nation of uncertainty, and it did so naturally. People gave up seats and bent their knees so the person behind could see. They were happy. They were happy to be in their place, and they were happy sharing their complacency with strangers. And strangers! Strangers opened their homes to strangers. Strangers laughed with strangers and patted their backs and held their elbows through streams of more strangers. There was a selflessness there that I’ve never seen before, and there didn’t even seem to be an awareness of such graciousness. A black man would say “After you” to a white man, and the white man would say, “No, after you” before both people allowed an Indian woman to pass first. Volunteers, whose job was not to control or direct the herds of eager people, but simply to say “Welcome, welcome, welcome” with broad grins and waving hands, made me smile back and made Roger greet each one in turn with a “Hello to you” or a “Good morning to you!” You, you, you. That’s what the Inauguration was about, and in that spirit, people were happy. There were no balloons, no confetti, no party music, no booze. The weather was cold and inhospitable. My knees ached and the parts of my feet I could still feel, ached with the plight of a foot-sore tourist. From where we stood, the Washington Monument obscured the Capitol, 1.8 miles away, and there were no jumbotrons at which to gawk. We were removed but we were there and happy to be. We could only listen, and in the raptured words of an old Japanese woman beside me, “This is the perfect spot.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Washington or Bust

No matter how often I come to Primo 360, this one very pleasant, very likeable barista always leaves an irritating two inches of space for cream. I don’t take cream in my café, and I tell him so, but he still does it. Who puts two inches of dairy in coffee anyway? Refills are free, so I don’t whine about it. I also don’t say anything because he tries so hard to remember (without being told) what I usually order, and I always feel guilty when I have to tell him “mondo Italian” even though, at seeing my parked car, he’d already prepped a grande French. He’s visibly hard on himself, so I let the cream situation be.
Anyway, all that’s peripheral because at 4 o’clock in the pm, me an’ Roger are going to Washington D.C. for Saint Obama’s inauguration. It’s been three months in planning, but I’m still expecting Roger to call me and say, “We can’t take the company car after all” (which we are (Thank you, Mr. Dreamers Man, for rescuing us at our final hour)). I’ve realized that a Presidential Inauguration is an event on par with the dropping of the Times Square ball on New Year’s or Mardi Gras in New Orleans or a Rolling Stones concert at, say, Zilker Park (missed it *sob*), and an historic inauguration is all that on steroids. I need to go. Not going would be catastrophic for my sense of well being. Both of us had come to separate conclusions that the New Year would begin after the inauguration. That was our benchmark, and at its summit, we could see through the cloud of our individual Austin funks, and get our shit together. I would’ve hitchhiked earlier in the week, but at this point, it’s too cold, and I probably wouldn’t make it there and back in time anyway. Busses were never an option. Greyhound is a horrible and greedy opportunist, and I refuse to pay 350$ dollars for a roundtrip ticket on a stinky uncomfortable ride, where I’ve actually seen an angry driver leave an old man (who didn’t speak English) running alongside of the bus, slapping the windows to stop. Roger wouldn’t hitchhike, and if I were a driver, I wouldn’t pick him up either. All depends on the car we're borrowing, and I won’t feel safe until we’re singing “When the Levee Breaks” long past Waco.
I anticipate taking hundreds of pictures and lots of notes, as this is research for both my books and our screenplay. I might take a page out of Craig’s proverbial book and post some pictures on the ol' blog, but probably not.
Hoot! Hoot! See you all at the inauguration. Oh, wait, you’re not going. Burn.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Books, good and mierda.

I haven’t been writing my blog lately ‘cause I’ve been trying to get some serious writing done. My little novella has been upped by almost 10,000 words, so all I really need to do is write another 10k, 5k if I want to just get by, revise one last time and submit or eat it. Either way, I’ve been working on a totally different book that’s been coming along quite nicely. After about two hours, I want to smash my computer over the first book, so I switch to the second and write for another two. I’m amazed how shifting gears like that can re-inspire creative thought. It has caught up with me though, and I don’t feel like writing today, hence, the blog.
I don't expect you all to finish this posting as it is mostly my bitching, but some of you readers might like it.
I finished reading Texasville the day before yesterday, and I must say, I’m tremendously disappointed. The Last Picture Show was so good that I’m still trying to understand why McMurtry chose to follow such a brilliantly written novel with a comedic sequel. What the shit was he thinking?! Granted he wrote it 20 years after the first one, and all the characters have aged with impressive consistency but a comedy? There’s a third and I believe a fourth installment, but I won’t be reading them. I was irritated that Texasville was 660 pages because I knew I was going to finish it even though I dragged my way through. It was a New York Times bestseller too! And, it received several pages of praise with such language as “McMurtry has written and ideal sequel” or “Texasville crackles with energy, humor and passion.” There were some others that even though I read them, I still ignored: “Texasville is just as funny as can be” or “Texasville is just slightly off-center and loony” or “Texasville is a big ol’ mess of book.” I don’t get it. What made me finally finish it with speed was All Quiet on the Western Front. I may give McMurtry another shot with Lonesome Dove (as I've discovered (to my dismay) that I like westerns), but that’s his last chance. It’s another fatty, and he won a Pulitzer for it, so if I don’t like it, I’ll assume the whole country is one buck-toothed idiot.
I started greedily reading All Quiet on the Western Front, “The greatest war novel of all time!”, immediately after Texasville. Now, that’s an interesting one. I’ve always thought I understood the deadness of war-scarred soldiers, but I’m finding out I don’t. The only ones who truly do are other vets. No amount of empathy will ever equal what they know, for the most youthful return from war as aliens.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Roger

I would like to take a moment to point out to the three of you who read this blog regularly that Roger does not read shitty books as I so callously declared in a blog dated 12/26/08. He is a literary Tyrannosaur who eats through about three times as many books as I do and then rereads them before I’ve finished one. If one gauges the quality of books he reads, there certainly will be shit in there but that is only increased by the sheer volume he consumes. On top of that, he does not bitch at me like a pouty girlfriend for never reading his suggestions, and he certainly did not send me an angry email about my day after Christmas blog reading, “You know what...fuck you for saying I read shitty books. A recommendation will never come from me again.”
This fine specimen of man can light a match off his square-cut jaw, and I admit, in a hand squeezing competition, I am humbled by the power of his grip. I also know for a fact that he carries Magnum XL rubbers, and I once saw him lift a Toyota off a litter of puppies.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolutions

I was going to post a December 31st blog to close out 2008, but since I left so much of the year unfinished, I decided to end 2008 by writing this blog but not posting it until 2009. That way, I’ll have not fully completed one last thing, and started the new year with a blog, which I probably wouldn’t have written on the first. That also seems to be some kind of good writing karma, verdad? straddling two years with some form of creative thinking? I like to think so anyway. And now, the New Year’s resolutions I’m prepared to deal with Satan over:

6. Have a six pack by the time it’s hot enough to cannonball into Barton Springs*
6. Get my book to 45,000-50,000 words of satisfying literature by April 4th**
6. Grab my student loan and credit card debt by the proverbial balls and rip them from the beast***

If I die an untimely death, you’ll know I’ve achieved my goals, and the devil has collected. Let me know if you’re aware of any good crossroads I can wait at.

*I used to have one, and damn, I was sexy.
**following the ‘roiding of my book, I’d like to finish the second and third book I’ve started as well as my screenplay and graphic novel...that I’ve also started.
***the beast, in this case, is “Melissa” the robot.
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