Climbing, writing, devolving

Listening to: “Lump Sum” – Bon Iver

Ever since the Rains of All Summer departed from Massachusetts last week, long shadows have entered our little editorial enclave each evening around 5:30ish. When my coworkers behind me get up to leave, I can see their silhouettes dancing fitfully across my computer screen. Really, they’re just packing up their bags, unplugging their headphones, checking their cell phones. But from watching the shadows on my screen (Allegory of the Cave, anyone?) it all looks ritualistic, shamanaic.

I’m gonna climb another one of the Presidentials in NH tomorrow with J and Tuck–Mount Jefferson. The summit (5,712 feet) looks over the Great Gulf–a giant cirque between Jefferson and Washington. Love that term, cirque–a glacier-formed valley, shaped like an amphitheater and flanked by mountains. Geographical terms in general, really–isthmus, chaos terrain, fjord, steppe, estuary, hanging valley–so sexy.

Did you know there are 14 Mount Jeffersons in the United States? (What would I do without you, Wikipedia.) 2 in Virginia alone. I wish that the NH one was the tallest, but its ass gets totally kicked by the ones in Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon. Oh well. Now wouldn’t that be a project–climbing all 15 Jeffersons, all the way from the 11,941′ giant in Nevada down the to the sissy 489′ hillock in Arkansas. I dig it. I gotta climb these big mountains out West sometime. The Northeast just can’t hold a candle, I tell you whut.


The terrain of life lately: Loud ambient music, hermitism, the questionable purchase of I-could-kick-the-shit-out-of-you-if-I-wanted-to,-just-sayin’ boots, marathon sessions of watching Veronica Mars, sunglasses falling down public toilets, mild abuse of mild substances, worsening insomnia, sunny days, dead-end writing sessions.

Oh, and how awesome is Miranda July? So awesome:

“That is my problem with life, I rush through it, like I’m being chased. Even things whose whole point is slowness, like drinking relaxing tea. When I drink relaxing tea, I suck it down as if I’m in a contest for who can drink relaxing tea the quickest. Or if I’m in a hot tub with some other people and we’re all looking up at the stars, I’ll be the first to say, It’s so beautiful here. The sooner you say, It’s so beautiful here, the quicker you can say, Wow, I’m getting overheated.”

Been too distracted/abstracted to read much lately (Sorry, Midnight’s Children, you’re too slow), but No One Belongs Here More Than You. is just my pace right now.


As for my own writing–poor “The Price of Rootlessness” is quickly devolving into a string of endless pseudo-noir dialogue; hopefully there’s a plot waiting at the end of the rainbow.

“Are you gonna tell me what I need to know, or are you gonna make this difficult?”
“It is the finest of flowers that blooms in adversity.”
(*Roundhouse KICK!*)
“Yeah, well this desert rose could use a little moisture. So spill it, Rainfall.”

See what I mean? Yeesh.

You may feel reassured about coconuts

Listening to: “Time to Pretend” – MGMT

Phew, finally got a bit of a reprieve from this crazy carnival ride called Having Three Jobs. Praise be to the theater gods for a slow weekend.

Though I shouldn’t count my chickens yet–it’s not people with oodles of free time who are still at their offices at quarter to seven on a Thursday night. So I got some more shit to do. Yeah. Go fuck yerself.

Ah sorry, dear reader. I don’t mean you. I mean other you.

I think I’ve finally had something of a breakthrough vis-a-vis “The Price of Rootlessness.” Finally got an end of the road in mind for ol’ Charlie and Scats. It was an idea I had awhile ago, but thought was too stupid to make work. But I think it might just be stupid enough to be the best line to follow. Now I just gotta write the fucking thing.

Midnight’s Children has made me feel like it’s OK to work on a wide canvas. Rushdie was but a humble adman working in London when he was writing what would become The Great Indian Novel. When it comes to fiction, there ought to be no such thing as hubris (in the drafting stage, anyway).

My preoccupation with comic book autobiographies continues–I just polished off Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. A highly literate, layered, melancholy, funny little thing. Probably won’t have the staying power of Persepolis, but it’s pretty great shit. I usually don’t like reading autobiographies all that much (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius aside), but there’s something about the genre in graphic form that seems so right.

I think it has something to do with the fact that life is messy, memory is never linear, and the combination of pictures and words allows for much more tangents. “Wheels within wheels,” like Lethem says in Motherless Brooklyn.

As for my own story, and all those who keep asking me what’s up next: I’m working on it. Sometimes everything gets so crumpled together, all you can manage is a day at a time. I’ll adopt the long view when I get the chance.

Masked balls of the imagination

Listening to: “Cliquot” – Beirut

Hello, ol’ bloggy ol’ blog ol’ bloggy. Noogies! Flecasfksf;lh. I’m tired and hungover–too tired to sleep, and should not be trusted with a keyboard in such a state. But yar, maties, what be this thing on which I’m typing?

Lessee. it’s been awhile, I suppose, partly because the last few weeks I’ve been trying to do some actual writing. Working on a new story, the direction of which changes with the wind. Maybe it’d help if I gave the characters names. I’ve got a title though–“The Price of Rootlessness.” (from a line in Angels in America: “The price of rootlessness, motion sickness. Only cure: Keep moving.“) It started in one of those sudden, feverish, questionable flurries of writing. This one came upon me riding the T back home from a particularly bland thingee thing I had to see for work.

That churned out two pages-ish, and I’ve been taking notes on it since. I tried to write another scene and, rereading it all, I began to worry that I had fallen prey to what Flaubert called in one of his letters, “these masked balls of the imagination, from which one returns with death in the heart, exhausted, having seen nothing but falsity and uttered nothing but nonsense.

Anyway, we’ll see how it turns out. I’m tempted to yet again strike off in the magical realist direction that I love so well, but that is probably best left in the hands of the masters.

But like my ol’ editor told me today at a barbeque, if you’re too hard on yourself, you’ll cancel it out before it starts. And anyway, Flaubert spent his whole life beating the shit out of himself over his writing, seeking detachment and perfection. Maybe not the best role model for me.

Between reading Persepolis and Watchmen recently, I’m really starting to think about writing something in graphic novel form. Such a cool medium. If only my drawing muscles weren’t all outta practice. Must stretch. Also, reading a book about the myths of the world I got off the dollar rack at the Brookline Booksmith. The Icelandic myths are the tits. A one-eyed king of the gods? A queen of the underworld who’s half-woman, half-corpse? And best of all, Ragnarok, a swords-n-blood apocalypse that makes every other apocalypse look totally lame? Tits.

What else, what else… went camping two weekends ago in the Mahoosucs with a friend and the dog. Disaster ensued when we followed what we thought was a path, but turned out to be a boundary line that led us through dense underbrush up a mountainside in the dark. Had to set up camp where we could, the wind howling off the fucking summit all night. We made it out alive, though, albeit coated in scrapes and mosquito bites, and even a tick or three. Tucker took it like a trooper. It was an adventure, I’ll give it that. And it was beautiful out there. Here’s Tuck at Dryad Falls, contemplating the view of the Whites to the south:

But get this, get this: the mountain was called… Mount Success! Oh, thou soul-crushing irony, take my soul for the crushing!

It’s funny how you can crave wilderness, but the second you’re up on a mountain in the dark with no place to make a fire, all you want is to land smack-dab in the middle of Times Square. Deep in our primordial scared-ass caveman guts, we just want light and warmth, I suppose. And maybe a mammoth-beatin’ stick. Take that, mammoth!