Friday, October 31, 2008

Something In The Writing That's Broken

I haven't been around people much over the past few years. Some days, I don't even see a car drive by. It's very quiet here and beautiful.

Sometimes it's lonely.

I'm beginning to dislike a lot of what I write. It's getting harder and harder to remember how life used to work when I was a part of things. Every character and conversation feels like a bad approximation of experiences I haven't been close to in almost a decade.

Maybe it's not something in the writing that's broken.

Experiences, passions, and hope are critical for every writer. Friendship and love are good things. These days, I talk to dogs mostly. I should leave my house and have a face to face conversation with a human being.

I bet it would make me sick or give me a headache.

That might make a good story.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Consistent In My Cowardice

Clouds are moving in and the sky is lovely tonight. It's orange at the horizon, turning purple, and then bluish-silver where the clouds break apart in front of the moon. Most nights, there are stars out, but not tonight. Rain's coming.

I miss the taste of cigarettes on your tongue the way you miss whiskey on your lover's lips. Or I think I do. We've never kissed like that.

If nothing else, I'm consistent in my cowardice. I haven't asked a girl out in over five years. It was difficult then. Now, it's beyond all comprehension. I smile a little when I think about it. I can't bring myself to cry over a situation of my own making. I remember that whining is unproductive and unattractive.

You'd get bored here. Sometimes, I get bored here. I'd play you a couple songs on the guitar, maybe show you my bad screenplays. We'd watch some old movies and talk about dumb books we love. Maybe we'd get as far as talking about our dreams and making each other our favorite foods. Before the end of the season, though, you'd realize I'm out of good ideas and you'd go looking for the next guy.

I'd go through that period of hanging out with my friends again; telling them it doesn't matter, that you're a hell of a girl and deserve all the happiness you can get. For a little while, I'd wonder what's wrong with me. Then I'd shrug and settle back into writing bad songs, tiresome blogs, and getting used to the quiet house again.

A few years ago, my mother said that I was like my father in that I didn't get scared easily. Maybe she forgot about how I squealed when the snake fell on my head or the way I get nervous when I'm up high on a ladder. I'm not brave at all. I can't walk into a room and sell anyone my ideas. I can't place a complicated order because I'm not comfortable speaking to another human being for that long. Regular things scare me. I just don't jump when they do. I walk away.

It's important to learn to live with your faults and I think I've done that. I could list every little thing that's wrong with me: my bad knee, my different-sized eyes, my crooked teeth, my social anxieties, and my inability to articulate even the simplest idea. But I like who I am. I make some mistakes, but I think I'm kind of alright. It's just that I wouldn't expect you to think so. I guess no one thinks they're the bad guy. Maybe I am.

Oh. You're getting married? That's happening a lot these days. I guess I'm reaching that age. Old enough that people are starting to wonder why a girl hasn't taken me off the market. Gay? Not the last time I checked, but I'll admit, I haven't really put it to the test in recent memory.

I worked with my brother recently and he told me that the next day, one of his clients was hinting around, wondering why I didn't have a girlfriend. His reading of the situation was that she wanted to know if I was limp in the wrist. Maybe it's just that I'm so sweet. It doesn't seem to be a virtue for a guy. Maybe it's my lisp. I've always had a little trouble with soft "s" sounds. Most people don't notice, but I do. I've always hated my voice. I try to talk like Nolte, but that man was born with a special gift.

Maybe that's the reason you're not here and this house is so quiet. Who would subject themselves to an evening with a guy trying to talk like Nolte?

I'll probably never ask another girl out again. I have trouble just saying "hi." I've seen the way other guys do it, but when I try, it comes out all wrong, like, "Hey. Oh, sorry. You're busy. I'll come back later."

...And then I never do. Which I guess makes me a liar.

It wouldn't bother me, except that there's all this cool stuff I want to show you. You can see so many shooting stars out here and I've got goofy hats that are great to wear. My eldest niece plays a really cool dinosaur game and the youngest one does a hilarious imitation of a zombie. I also bake some tasty treats.

I can't remember if I was ever a good boyfriend. I'm sure I had my moments. Right? Anyone? Hmm. Well, maybe I was just saving up all those moments for the right girl.

I don't know. You'd get tired of it after a month or so, but maybe it would be a pretty good month. I'm a considerate lover when I'm drunk. Foreplay buys me the time I need to figure out what I'm doing. Think about it. If it sounds nice, get back to me. You know I'll never bring it up. I probably won't even say "hi."

...And there you go, off the elevator and gone forever...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty (Blog Action Day 2008)

"Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbor's children starving?" -Charlton Heston, "Planet of the Apes"

I'm a chubby American with plenty of clean water. I have a car, a television, a computer, and an internet connection. I have a guitar and thousands of books. I've acted in films, flown in planes, owned a suit, gone to concerts, and eaten in restaurants. All this is the lifestyle of someone who lives about $9,000 below my nation's poverty line.

I have never been to a place where only one vehicle is shared amongst local farmers. I've never been to a village with no doctors, no stores, no schools, and no promise of a prosperous future. My nation's definition of poverty sounds like a joke in poor taste compared to the rest of the world. The citizenry of my nation doesn't have to share, because Americans can afford just about one of everything for each person.

My mother lived on her family's farm, waking early every morning to milk cows, even on the morning she got married. My father grew up in a small house, keeping all his clothes hanging on a single nail. I never lived through the kind of poverty my parents grew up in.

Sometimes my friends give me a hard time because I don't have enough cash to go to a movie or buy comics. I don't go bowling or to spook trails. I like to bowl. I never show out for trips to the amusement park. Instead, I spend a lot of time reading used books and playing guitar. It's what I can afford, but I never feel poor. The privileges of my life are not entitlements. I'm lucky.

But I do feel disconnected.

I wonder how much perspective I've lost living in a nation four times as wealthy as any other country in the world. I want to understand the lives of people in far flung corners of the world. Nationalism and insulation from the rest of the world keeps Americans from empathizing with those we might recognize as part of a common human struggle. When we're able to stop looking at the world as divided plots bound by pride against one another, perhaps we'll realize the responsibility we all share for the quality of life on our planet. Perhaps we'll see beyond the political capital gained by philanthropy and recognize the necessity of humanitarianism for its own sake. I know hope and empathy are not pragmatic solutions, but maybe they are a place to begin.

For more information on Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty, visit: