Brink of Words

Friday, April 15, 2005

Darkness crept through the woods and was upon me before I realized. What angers me on days like this? What type of day is it?

I’ve grown scared of my own writing. I approach the brink after an hors d’oeuvre of words and pray that I will say something meaningful. I form each word as a potter forms clay, using my fingers to bore a hole that I hope to fill with significance. I remember a time when this was not painful or scary. My memory was never that good. I brave the crossing and wait. There are days when I fall to the side of bitterness, where uncertainty and longing replace my strength. But I live for the other days.

I didn’t always talk in abstraction. I used to really want to say something. I wonder what happened to those times. I should train myself to press the spacebar with my left hand. It is harder than one would think. It reminds me of when I trained myself to use the mouse with my left hand. My right wrist hurt from too many hours of video games, and I switched the mouse to the left side and introduced my left hand to the mouse.

He was tall. She was short. He had short brown hair, or, better, he had cut his brown hair short, to avoid ‘to be.’ It was nice. She sat. He sat. The sun rose early, it set late. The grass was green. The air smelled of corruption. He cuffed his pants. He wore cuffed pants. He was like his cuffed pants, cuffed. I’m throwing it all out there, all the thoughts that make me feel like I say nothing. All the simple responses when taken alone—and that’s how I consider everything, alone—become meaningless.

I stopped playing chess because I found that there were a finite number of openings, and I hated beginnings. I stopped bowling because I found that there was a way to win, and I hate perfection. I started writing because I never had to worry about beginnings and perfections.

It’s not the words that scare me, it’s my need to say something. Let’s try it. I want to introduce Bob—there’s a Bob in every story. He’s lonely and short and very insecure. He’s also the president of a large company, and his loneliness and shortness and insecurity doesn’t come across with others, only in his own mind.

I walk into the meeting room and everyone turns. A guy with a yellow tie near the door laughs. I could have sworn he pointed in my direction before laughing. What is his name . . . Sam-something. He’s huge. Since when did we start hiring giants? They’re not natural. I’ve spoken to HR many times about this. For their bodies to grow that big there must be serious shortchanging going on. And since their other external parts look rather normal, my belief—and I am planning on funding research in this area to justify the change in policy—is that its their brains that are sacrificed.

The giant approaches me. It takes all my willpower not to shrink away. “Sam Weiner, sir. It’s a privilege to finally meet you, sir.” Sam holds out his hand and I shake it. His hand engulfs mine and I lean a bit to the left to ensure I still have a hand. When he lets go, I say, “Glad to have you onboard, Sam. I’ve heard good things about you.” I leave out the part about his laugh. I know he was expecting taller. Everyone always expects taller. But I’m a quick short man, and I use this quickness to take a chair at the far end of the table before I have to measure up against anyone else.

“Let’s get this underway.” I can’t see who said it. My back hurts. I pat my stomach under the table. It’s growing and straining my back. I lean back in my chair and put my hands on my chin. They start talking and the presentation appears on the wall. I wonder if my growing stomach makes me look shorter. The room is standing room only, and I try to measure the people who are standing to see if their girth makes a difference in the appearance of their height.

Okay, I threw down a moderately uninteresting character with even more moderately uninteresting words. I have to actually do something with that now. This is where I usually crash and burn.

Crashed and burned I did. But now I have more time, flying on an airplane to visit Doolies. Short visions of what should be in my head.

There was a time when I thought I knew truth. I would spit that truth into faces and laugh at the ridicule. What is in a ridicule but a fear of truth?

Zonkers. Tried and yellow truths over thick globs of phlegm. Where is the latest of late? When was the last time I made sense? Was there ever such a time? An old man in a small boat fishing against the sea.

Write about what you know. I don’t know much. I know about corporations and video games. I know about moving and traveling on airplanes. I know about families and loss. I know. I know little. I know my everyday happenings, the minutiae of my thoughts, my underdeveloped theories. I know what I see and what I do. I know about depression and coldness. I should feel but I lock up my feelings and let them out only on special occasions when the fisherman’s hook digs deep into my heart. I know about nothingness. Is there a purpose for everything? Tipper tapper. I type words with no hope of meaning. I wander into the deep end knowing I can’t tread water forever. Patience is a virtue, but after four years of patience, it becomes less a virtue than an excuse.

This is where I head and what I know. Learn something new!

The soothsayer approaches the king with nine books of prophecy. The soothsayer negotiates by burning six books. The king receives three books of prophecy for the price of nine. He offers her anything to recreate the other six, but she does not relent.

I can’t even tell myths properly. Dementia must be setting in.

Today is a day of empty thoughts and emptier writings. My mind spins in circles, and only circles appear on the paper as if drawn by sharpened compasses. I have no stories to tell. I cage words and they demand payment. Inflation is a bitch. What if I have no great book in me? I see you Carl, lurking in me these last few weeks. You know you are a lucky demon. If I didn’t love you, I would have thrown you out years ago.