Flights and Fragments

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I’m writing this after finishing a good dinner on my flight back to Seattle. I’m writing this after watching the first three quarters of a surprisingly entertaining movie, “Hitch.” I arrived at a rather uncomfortable part (read: the plot thickened and an embarrassing moment poked its ugly head), and I decided I should use the uncomfortable feeling as the push I needed to open the computer and start the typing. My mug of yummy caffeine arrived at about the same time, so I knew the fates were in agreement. (We’ll see what the muses have to say about things as I get further into this).

Not so good so far. After writing a line and a half of what I had hoped would turn into a story, I put the headphones back on as the people around me laughed. This is a good movie—but I’ve persevered, and I’m going to give it another try (and this has nothing to do with yet another uncomfortable moment—okay, it has everything to do with such a moment).

I’m nervous about writing again—stories, that is. These Hi Ho (to borrow an expression from Kurt Vonnegut) moments are painful. I see this large expanse of white space before me, and all I can think is how the fuck am I going to fill it up? And, more painfully, as if that’s possible, what the fuck am I going to fill it up with? I’ve given much thought to a story’s structure, what it is I want to accomplish in it, and I’ve not come up with much.

I decided to watch the rest of the movie, one of the smartest romantic comedies I’ve seen in a long time, second only to Sally and Harry. The dialogue was richly written, and there were a few surprises, which is always a good and usual unexpected thing. Now, I’m going to get back to this writing thing and see if I can find anything inside of me besides the scared cat (I always thought the word was “scaredy”).

I’m fed and hopeful. It’s amazing how life appears so bleak when hungry, and so full of possibilities when full.

There’s nothing there. I’m not saying anything. I don’t see it—come to think of it, I’ve never seen it. I white expanse waits for me and I hope for its embrace. Suck it up and say something, I keep telling myself. Stop masturbating with these thoughts about how hard it is and fucking write. Writing sucks. It sucks the big one. I need so much and I do so little.

They were in a booth in the restaurant, he sitting next to her, and they gazed at each other. People always say that so-and-so looked deep into so-and-so’s eyes, as if staring can somehow express the depths of feelings. Other people (or perhaps it’s the same people) say that you can see a person’s soul when looking into their eyes.

A tremendous shock shook the office. Seymour knew immediately that the office was going to fall down around his ears. He covered his ears to protect them when Mr. Dandry walked into his cubicle and began screaming. Seymour saw the spittle leave Mr. Dandry’s mouth before he felt it on his cheek. He knew he had no choice. He covered his face with his left elbow, and accepted the reprimand. Mr. Dandry’s shoulders were covered by dandruff, no relation to his name.

In a line next to the stairs were four shoes and two sandals. Kelly mouthed the words: “four shoes and two sandals.” She wasn’t sure if that meant four pairs of shoes and two pairs of sandals, or four actual shoes and two actual sandals, or perhaps there was a difference between shoes, which, she could imagine, does not include the pair, and sandals, which, she could imagine, does include the pair, especially since she’d never heard of a sandal, but she had heard of a shoe. That didn’t mean a sandal didn’t exist, of course. There were many things Kelly never heard of that were out there, semantically or otherwise. She wasn’t sure if this were one of them.

Kelly went to the living room where Brad waited. “Five pairs of footwear,” she said.

Breathing focus and life into nothingness to what end? I don’t see the purpose in this. Scold me, please. Explain it to me, what I’m after, what I hope to attain, why it took me so long to even want this or know what it is. Prolific in what sense? Messages on a disk? Where? First learn the classics, then work with what you’ve learned and turn it into something meaningful. First copy then create. How can you hope to create when you don’t know how to copy? Tell it simply and tell it well, then I can worry about what it is I should be telling.

Such easy words, and so hard times. Warming up, bring myself back to the realities of the anguish that I always forget exists at the bottom of these wells. Why am I so good at sharing pains, but not good at sharing results? Why do I ask myself such ridiculous questions? How does asking these unanswerable questions help me in any way achieve anything? I shoot the question mark, knowing that it in its own way brought about my downfall and called out for retribution.

I arrived home in the rain after a long delay before taking off—which I thankfully slept through—and my feeble attempts at writing and eating dinner and watching a movie. The eating and watching weren’t feeble, but you probably figured that out. Not surprisingly, Seattle was a bit cold and rainy when I arrived. I hate rainy night driving. It’s difficult for me to stay awake or concentrate. It takes an incredible amount of effort to concentrate on concentrating, which is not a sane way to drive when the roads are slippery. I guess I understand better what Doolies means when she says she’s falling asleep while driving at night. I always tell her to open the windows and sing loudly. It’s difficult to do that when it’s raining, though.

I came home to a 1,000-word hole I’m not trying to dig myself out from. I had high hopes before boarding the plane, but nothing came together. As I said yesterday (and I think the day before) I feel like I’m forcing these musings to the Goal, and I don’t feel I’m getting much from this forcing. Go figure.

I might as well muse about something that might be useful: synopses. I still have trouble thinking on my feet interesting places for plots and characters to go. I’ve accepted that I can, when I have the inspiration and the desire and a good alignment of moon, planets, and stars, write a scene of some value on the interesting-spectrum. What I need now is to provide a flowchart for that spectrum. Most of my thoughts are rational like that. I blame computer programming and graduate school (although less the school, since my rational side was well developed before I ever stepped foot in college) for my ability (or limitation) to think of things in a linear, rational way. There I go again: procrastinating doing actual thinking. Why are you surprised? Let the skimming continue.

A guy walks into a bar and sees his friend. He pulls up a barstool and orders a beer. Two women walk by, and the friend points them out to the guy. The guy finishes his beer, cracks his neck, and walks up to the girls. He’s the lure for the evening, his job is to pull the women back to the guy and friend’s table for serious wooing. The lure gets first dibs on the choice, which must be respected, unless there’s a wave off. A wave off is where the vibe isn’t there for the lure and his choice.

The guy walks over and starts a chat with the two girls. The friend watches from the table, lifting his bottle in a silent toast when the guy points back to their table. It’s early in the evening and the bar is only half full. Two bouncers in black outfits and earpieces roam the bar, mostly talking to each other and puffing out their chests. One is black and short, the other is white and tall. The friend overhears their conversation as they walk by. They’re discussing a fight from last night and what they told the police after it happened. The friend listens in, but they pass too quickly and he can’t get anymore details.

When guy is doing well with the girls. The girls are showing interest, and their drinks are low. The guy offers to buy the girls new drinks if they’ll come over the table and greet the friend. The guy doesn’t say it, but he hints that his friend his shy, and is getting over a bad, abusive relationship. The guy is playing the sympathy card. After getting close to the girls, he knows that neither of them are relationship quality, and the friend and the guy have agreed that when that determination is made by the lure, outrageous stories should be used to increase the enjoyment of having to woo the lower quality girls.

When the guy returns to the table with the girls, the guy gives the friend the signal. He rubs the back of his neck. The guy introduces the friend to the girl, and tells them in a whisper that the friend can clearly hear to be gentle with him. The friend puts on a sad face and looks down and away, trying to figure out why he was sad tonight. The last time the guy pulled the sad routine, his childhood dog had died in the guy’s arms the night before. The two girls during that night were particularly heinous, but both the guy and the friend got lucky, and heinous girls are always more generous. At least that’s what they determined after sharing notes.

The girls were from out of town, here for only the weekend. This lifted the friend’s spirits, which he had to hide underneath his sad mask. The curly haired girl sidled in next to the friend and began whispering in his ear. She too had just gotten over a break up and she wanted to tell the friend everything about it. The friend dodged that line of conversation, telling her he wasn’t ready to hear the story—his pain was too fresh. He figured out the guy’s ploy rather quickly. He expected more, and would, later after they were done, one way or the other, with the girls, tell the guy that he was disappointed with his entertainment—not the girls since they never let their standards get in the way of having a fun night; but the creativeness of the lie.

The other girl, who might have been pretty if she didn’t wear fourteen layers of makeup over her pimple-riddled face, waved down the waitress and ordered drinks for her and her friend, looking to the guy and the friend, who indicated another round of beers. They placed their order and the same time, sure that the only way to enjoy this night with these particular girls was to drink, and to drink a lot.

The setup is there, now all I have to do is swing the bat. I stare down the ball as it approaches me, and I watch it fly past me into the waiting glove. Why don’t I ever swing? I’m thankfully approaching the end of today’s convoluted and annoying writing. At least I can start putting things down, even if I can’t make them move or anything. Sleep tonight and an early morning will do me good. I won’t bother making promises about tomorrow that I probably don’t intend to keep. Sorry for the unedited garble, but I got to do what I got to do.