Ah, the life of a crappy poet is filled with so many
artistic choices, all of which are both fundamentally and inevitably
inconsequential. For instance, here are two versions of the same poem. I could
not decide which of them was better/funnier/more delightful/funny at all/in less
bad taste. Since I could not make a definite artistic decision, I have posted
them both. Once you have read them both and decided which one you like best,
just get some White Out and use it to white out the other one on your computer
I saw the smartest note on a website the other day. It said,
“We do not own these images. All images are assumed to be in the public domain
and will be removed upon request of the owner.”
How smart is that?!
The editors here at Standardkink would like to say: We do
not own these images. All images are assumed to be in the public domain and
will be removed upon request of the owner.
(Tangentially: Hey remember that time that Metallica sued
Napster over copyright infringement or something and that Lars Ulrich son of a
bitch showed up to court with boxes and boxes of paperwork identifying all of
the people – his fans – who had been downloading his music? Yeah, that guy is a
There are many ways in which I know that I need a new job.
One of the most striking is that fact that I have recently found myself
romanticizing the life of a garbage truck driver. They drive around
all day, arm lazily perched out the window of the cab. They get to travel around,
see interesting places, perform a quick task using some state of the art
hydraulics and then they are off! Back out there into the world.
It should be noted here that I don’t really even like
driving and I certainly have no love of garbage, yet I still find myself thinking that driving a garbage truck would be cool. Plus, just think of all of the fun
and interesting stuff you will encounter! I imagine that a garbage truck driver
is constantly looking at some complete dining room set left by a dumpster and
scratching his head and asking no one, “Why would they want to throw this out?”
I would like to live in a world where garbage truck drivers are universally
known for having really well appointed homes, on account of all the great stuff
they find during the day.
Anyway, I clearly need a new job, because fantasizes like
these tend to weird out even me.
Dude, whoever invented the whole “salad in a bag” thing is a
genius! The fact I can buy everything in one bag for three bucks is probably
the only reason I ever eat a salad. See, it isn’t about being healthy, it is
about being lazy.
So I just discovered that I have been taking the Day Time
cold medicine at night and the Night Time cold medicine during the day! This
may go a long way toward explaining why I have felt so out of it lately.
Let me ask you: If you were the people in charge of
color-coding the Day Time and the Night Time pils, wouldn’t you make the Day
Time pills a totally normal color and make the Night Time pills a nice, calm,
peaceful light green? Yeah, me the fuck too! Thanks for noth’en generic CVS
Sinus Congestion & Pain pills!
Flannery O’Connor said something once that struck deeply but
which I can never quite remember. It was something along the lines of, “ I sit
down at my typewriter everyday not because I am inspired everyday, but because
I want to be ready in case inspiration comes.”
I’m sure she said it better, but you get the idea. Well I
have been trying to remind myself of that lately and so here I sit at my little
white desk with my little black laptop … waiting. Well, I have to be honest
with you folks, I do not think that tonight is going to be a winner. I’m tired
and still a touch sick, though I did go running tonight. It was very, very cold
and it wasn’t my best run, or my longest run or my fastest run, but it was a
run. So I’m proud of myself in the tiniest sort of way. And I’m looking forward
to a good, deep sleep tonight; my body is tired in a good way and that always
makes for a good sleep.
Since I am all tuckered out tonight and can’t exactly
remember that Flannery O’Connor quote, here is one from the inimitable John
Stories hold power
because they convey the illusion that life has purpose and direction. Where God
is absent from the lives of all but the most blessed, the writer, of all
people, replaces that ordering principle. Stories make sense when so much
around us is senseless, and perhaps what makes them most comforting is that,
while life goes on and pain goes on, stories do us the favor of ending.
That’s deep, right? Well, keep in mind that he is one of the
most brilliant living absurdists and also said, “A stopped clock is correct
twice a day, but a sundial can be used to stab someone, even at nighttime.”
So I’m just here cutting the tags off
of my new running belt. I haven’t been running since I got back from my
Christmas trip. I got sick in pretty short order and am still fighting it off,
though I think the worst of it is over. So – I think – out of a sense of guilt and
a feeling of flab, I went and bought a new belt last night. It wasn’t wastefull
though, I did need one.
To be clear, a running belt is just
that: a belt one wears when running. It usually holds some kind of water bottle
and has a pocket or two for your iPod or some energy gels or a small crack pipe
(assuming you run to get your crack, and who doesn’t?). This new one holds two
little water bottles and has a pocket big enough to hold my phone. So I am
basically all set. I just need to feel a little better. Hopefully tomorrow I
will be able to go out there in the world for a bit.
I’ll be honest and admit that over
the past year and a half or so (or since I started doing things outside other
than walking to and from my car) I have experienced a deep but quiet joy over
owning very specific stuff. I HAVE A RUNNING BELT! I also have TWO different
kinds of lightweight camping stoves! And FOUR sleeping bags! Although one of
those was given to me, but STILL! I just like having these things that are
activity-specific. Owning them makes me want to go out and USE them. That is a
pretty new experience for me. I have been writing my whole life, bt there
really isn’t any gear for that. The giant dork in me wants to wear my running
belt all the time. When I’m not running I’ll loosen it so that it hangs at a
big angle like Han Solo’s holster. And then people will come up to me and be
all like, “Oh, is that a Nathan Trail Mix 2 Energy Belt?” to which I won’t even
say anything. I will just nod slowly, somberly. A calm and no-nonsense acknowledgement.
And the person asking me about it will nod quietly too. That nod will mean, “Respect.”
Though for any of that to happen I
need to run more than I have been and need to log more miles than I do. There
was a time last year when I was logging a lot of miles during the week, but it
was also the summer time and the sun was up forever. Lately it is dark before I
even leave the office. But hey! I own not one but TWO backpacking headlamps! I
should totally be a night runner by now, but alas, I am not. But I will get
I have been reading Runner’s World
magazine recently. It is stupid expense but I can’t yet bring myself to
subscribe to it. I feel like they would somehow KNOW that I don’t measure up to
their standards. Anyway, I have been reading it and reading interviews with
real runners and reading all of these stats and all of these training plans and
all of these special diets and all of the other nearly narcissistic stuff that
gets published in such a sycophantic magazine and it all makes me realize how
very little I know about this stuff. Basically I put on my shoes (and my belt!)
and go run. I have to hope that for a guy like me who just looks like a normal
person (albeit an awesome one) maybe that is good enough for now. Although, as
I flip through the glossy magazine pages I’m besieged by photos of the long,
lean, slender bodies of all of these runners. I’m honestly quite envious. So
envious really that it takes me out of my head and I have to step back and go, “Whoa
there buddy, why SO envious?”
I guess I have just always been short
and bald (rocking male pattern baldness since 1998-ish!) and while I am fine
with that and make it look pretty good, there is a part of me that would like
to not be so soft around the middle. So I’m working at it and will continue to.
My philosophy though is basically the same as Kevin Spacey’s in “American
Beauty” when he goes jogging. He’s asked what part of his body he wants to work
on and replies, “I just want to look good naked.”
So yeah, maybe one of these days I
will try that protein shake that Runner;s World told me about, but really I
would just rather be able to NOT do that. I would like to just be able to go
running and find some quiet meditative grace in it (grace or some sort of graceful
form is still a distant goal of mine. When I run I basically look like three-legged
beagle trying to flee a pack of wolves across a river of cake batter.)
So yeah, I would like to look better
and I would like to run better. It seems to me that the only way to accomplish
those goals is by actually going out there and running. I guess that is often
the answer to these things, isn’t it? That’s the whole idea about “Just Do It”
right? I never really knew.
Oh! And also, I would like to be able
to wear my running belt out in public and have people mistake me for Han Solo.
That’s not too much to ask, right?
And speaking of Han Solo, here is a
picture of a bunch of women dressed like Princess Leia. You’re welcome.
I’ve been watching a
lot of Hulu lately and I have frequently been watching this show called “Secrets
of War” and it is mostly about World War II, imagine that. I’m not a war buff
or a WWII buff or anything, I just find history interesting. I have already
watched all of the “Pure History” episodes (those are generally great, BTW).
So I have been
watching this SECRETS OF WAR! Show (If the title was less bombastic I might not
feel like such a nerd right now) and many, many, many times they have explained
how the Nazi code machine Enigma worked. If you have a passing knowledge of
World War II espionage you know that the Enigma machine was supposed to be unbreakable
but that the British (with help from the Polish) figured it out early in the
war and so the Allies were reading the Nazi’s mail the whole time. Well I get a
little upset because every episode that has to address the Enigma machine
itself uses THE SAME little explanatory footage and history. It is verbatim
from one episode to another. Basically the makers of this show made the explanation
one time and used it over and over and over again. Like the poor, put-upon
editors of this series get to the enigma part in the script and sigh and shrug
and ask each other, “Where is that Enigma thing we made, I have to drop the
damn thing in here again.”
Recently I was on a couple of planes. On my way back from
Christmas with my family I flew from JFK to Burbank, which is a decently long
flight. I picked up a couple of magazines at the airport because buying
magazines at the airport is one of my guilty pleasures. Well I guess I was
feeling like feeling sophisticated because I picked up a copies of The New
Yorker and Vogue. I do stuff like that sometimes because I’m very fancy.
On the plane I ended up seated in between two relatively
young women. The one at the window seat was an attractive but not very friendly
looking Armenian girl with black jeans tucked into tan leather boots, which I
guess is okay. If you have to, I guess. The woman on the aisle was very polite
and made a little bit of small talk before takeoff. She had black black hair
that I thought was interesting because it didn’t seem to be dyed or cut or
really even thought about or anything. Like if this woman mugged you and later
the cop asked what she looked like, all you would think to say was, “She had
Anyway, after takeoff I sat there reading my Vogue and
listening to whatever the hell was on the TV (I was on Jet Blue which I LOVE
because you get your own little TV with basic cable on it). The movie “Meet Joe
Black” was on and I figured that was a good movie to watch on a long flight
because it is very long and kinda boring, but also beautifully shot and – I think
– an interesting enough movie. And it has Claire Folani in it and I had the
biggest crush on her back around the time that she was in movies.
So I’m reading along about “Style Across America” in the
Special Edition 2012 “Best Dressed” issue and I look up at the TV and there is
young and blonde Bratt Pitt sucking peanut butter off a spoon and I realized
suddenly that I am kinda well-dressed just then (as per usual, what?) and
watching a Brad Pitt movie and reading a copy of Vogue that cost me ten bucks
and – well obviously – these two attractive young women both think that I am
gay. Gay like Will, not gay like Jack, but still very gay.
Now, obviously, I have no problem with anyone being gay. I’m
an advocate. I give money. I have not one, but TWO pro-gay rights, anti-hate
buttons on my backpack. And I’m fine with the fact that I own more scarves than
most straight men. And I actually enjoy clothes shopping with women and I, you
know, buy Vogue (and sometimes Cosmo), but at just that moment I was not
terribly okay with these two women quietly thinking that I was gay. And so I
got a little fidgety in my little airplane seat, but there was nowhere for me
to go, so I didn’t go anywhere.
I wasn’t bothered by
people thinking I was gay. People have made that mistake before and I have
generally taken it as a compliment. I was bothered by the fact that these two
attractive women with whom I was spending six long hours in very close quarters
clearly did not feel any sexual tension with me whatsoever. Nothing. They were
BOTH – by the way – watching “Meet Joe Black” by that point too, because Brad
Pit is so dreamy and there weren’t any DUDES around to make fun of them. Nope,
just that short gay guy with the Elvis Costello glasses.
I wished and wished just then that I had also bought a
Playboy and a copy of Penthouse Letter (they still sell Penthouse Letters at
airports and I think that is weird because you never really see it anywhere
else). At the very least I should have had a Maxim to read or something. But
alas, no. It was just me and these women and Vogue and Brad Pitt (whose
performance in that movie – I now realize – was designed to mock me. That was
really forward thinking on his part considering that “Meet Joe Black” came out
So I did what I thought was best; I gave up completely and
dinged the flight attendant to bring me a stiff drink and some free cookies (You
get free cookies and chips on Jet Blue. It is pretty fucking cool. And yeah, I
am bragging a little.)
One of the things I enjoy about reading magazines I don’t
often read is that the writing tends to seem new and interesting. And also,
While I was reading that Vogue on the plane I came across
the word “sartorial” which means “of or relating to a tailor or his craft.” I
only know that because Barney explained it once on “How I Met Your Mother” and
it stuck to the sticky part of my brain.
So I came across this word – all high faluten and fancy
pants – on page 22 while charting the “sartorial evolution” of the actress
Allison Williams who is on “Girls” and is – turns out – also the daughter of
I shrugged a little. It is a fashion magazine after all and
so the word is in their wheelhouse, so why not rock it? I drop the word “semiotic”
whenever the fuck I can because I have a very expensive English degree. So live
and let live.
BUT THEN! There was the word again! Right there on page 59
introducing a spread on the best dressed actresses of 2012 and describing “Kristen
Stewart’s disregard for sartorial convention” and so now I know that I am being
punked, in what is surely the world’s weirdest and most specific punk ever. Firstly,
Kristen Steward does not has a disregard for sartorial convention, she just
dresses poorly and makes odd choices (for instance, the choice to become an
actress even though she lacks the ability to emote with her face.) And
secondly, I have no problem with somebody dropping a nice ten dollar word
occasionally, but twice and so close together? That’s a bit much and it makes
me think that the writes over there all had a slumber party and watched “How I
Met Your Mother “ on DVD and all listened to Barney say the word and all of
them simultaneously and joyously jotted it down in their pink dream journals.
But whatever. No big deal. Nobody cares but me anyway. So I read on.
AND THEN! SIX PAGES LATER! THERE IT WAS AGAIN! On page 65
describing Emma Stone’s “sartorial powers” and keep in mind that this was a
photo spread, so the only text on the intervening six pages was in caption
form. Well this just did not make me happy at all. I quickly composed a letter
of complaint in my head:
Dear The Sartorial Writing Staff at Vogue Magazine,
The Editors at Standardkink
And I would have sent it too, except I was on a plane and
also I am too lazy to ever actually send any of my letters of complaint, of
which I have drafted very, very many.
I suppose it could be worse. I suppose that the word could
just never be used and it could be allowed so slowly wither and die like so
many good words (“civility” is a good word that has died this way, both as a
word and as a value too). However, something about the way it was used THREE
TIMES so quickly in a magazine that should know lots and lots of
fashion-related words, just made its use seem somehow cheap. To me at least,
and I have obviously spent a lot of time ruminating on this.
Fear not though. I also read a copy of The New Yorker on
that flight and, say what you will about the puffed up elitists over there at
The New Yorker, they know how to use words. And they use them dizzying well.
They can build sentences like Rube Goldberg machine. On page 44 of the December
24 & 31, 2012 issue, while describing damaged art that is not worth
repairing, they wrote:
Such works – those for which the cost of conservation and
the subsequent loss in market value are greater than the amount for which the
works are insured – will enter into a strange netherworld.
That ladies and gentlemen, is a motherfucking sentence.
I’m not saying it is the best one ever, but it certainly is
bold and almost taunting. (The best sentence, some say, is from the Bible and
it is this: Jesus wept. One of my favorite sentences is from a book called “My
Cousin, My Gastroenterologist” by Mark Leyner, but I will tell you about that
some other time.)
However, later in that same issue - and kind of sorta lamely
- on page 132 in a review of the movie “This is 40” a writer is talking about
the bourgeois family in the movie saying, “Here is all the plentitude and
warmth and the triviality and sadness of Los Angeles life.” Although, what
would one expect from a magazine that considers itself the reliable and worthy
maker of taste for New York City. To prove that NYC can’t help itself from
LA-basing, the review – which is a review of a sweet and completely harmless
comedy mind you – also waxes rhapsodic by bemoaning, “In Los Angeles, time has
a particular poignancy, since the body can never be young enough to satisfy an
unsustainable ideal.” You know, that is probably even true, but I have spent a
lot of time in New York and I have seen some pretty bad plastic surgery there
too. Just saying.
Now that I have written this admittedly complainy and pretentious
blog post, I will try to redeem my humanity in your eyes by posting the below
pictures of Emma Stone (because it is tangentially related and because EVERYONE
has a crush on Emma Stone) and a heart meltingly cute kitten.
I’m legitimately sick today and not very happy about it. So
their healing properties.
You know what’s weird? I really want to be not sick because
one of my favorite things to do on the weekends is to wake up and make some
coffee and sit outside and read the news on my phone and I probably won’t be up
for that tomorrow if I am sick. So I better eat some more of these magical medicinal
cookies and get some rest.
For dinner tonight I ate a pot full of salad and a cup of
I like to mix the salad together in the pot and then it
always seems silly to remove the salad from the pot and put it into a bowl,
thereby dirtying up yet another container. So I just eat it out of the pot.
I do this with chips and things at parties too. I just don’t
see the point in owning special party bowls for chips and whatnot when I
already I already have these pots and things.
I got soup at the store because I’m getting kind of sick,
but I got the wrong sort, I think. I got a nice thick and creamy potato soup
when I probably should have gotten a good broth-y soup. Obviously I am bad at
life. But you already knew that, because you have read this post.
I am going to try to ease back into this whole blogging
thing. I have been absent from it for awhile now. There are a lot of reasons
for that, but mostly we will just put it down to discombobulation.
First, there has just been too much work lately. Too much.
Just too much. God, so much work! Even when I wasn’t working 10 and 11 hour
days, I was still coming back to my little apartment and collapsing into an exhausted
little puddle November and December were especially bad and busy at work. It is
amazing how much a stressful day can just sap all of the juice out of you. It
used to be that sitting down here with my little computer was the haven when I
hid from the stresses of life, but at some point this year that simply ceased
Also – and this probably isn’t going to make much sense to
most people – I think I have forgotten how to write. Not in the most literal
sense. Not like some railroad spike went through my brain and I miraculously
survived except that I can no longer compose sentences. More like I just haven’t
been able to get into the place where one needs to be in order to compose poems
about unicorn smuggling rings or to actually write a short story. One has got
to be in the right head space to do that sort of thing and I just have not been
able to locate it. For now, let’s just put it down to stress (stressing myself
out is my one real superpower).
It would also be true that life has been strange for me
personally for a little while now. I know that the life I have right now really
is not the one that I want; it isn’t fulfilling and I can’t remember the last
time that I woke up feeling even a little bit zesty. There just hasn’t been any
verve in me lately. If I believed all of the commercials on television, I would
probably have to assume that I need one of those testosterone pills or
something. Sadly for both me and the companies out that which sell testosterone
pills, I do not think that this funk can be pharmacologically cured. Though I
was recently – sort of – offered cocaine. Though I’m not sure if the guy
offering actually had any cocaine. He might have just been drunk. Let me tell
you, I did not hang out in that bathroom long enough to find out!
Speaking of bathrooms, I recently made a trip back east for
Christmas. Yes, I spent several days in snowy Connecticut, with some little bit
of time spent in New York City. Among other things, I had a Norman Rockwell
night with (most) of my family. Building a snowman out of freshly fallen snow
and breaking my tailbone sledding with my brothers. I was all very American
Gothic of us.
While I was out there I also found a little bit of time to
run. It was a new experience for me running in real biting Winter cold, with
snow falling lightly and little white flakes melting in my warm puffs on
breath. There was an interesting thing that happened in my brain as cars shot
by on the little country roads, the people inside of them would look out at me
quizzically as if wondering, “What in the holy fuck is wrong with that guy?”
Anyway, it made me smile. I like being a runner, even though I am still quite
bad at it. If the measure of being something is doing something, then I was
most certainly a runner. At least right then.
Also, I try not to talk about my family much open here –
because I am the one who has chosen to air all of his problems on the internet,
not them, and I try to remember that – but I was struck, once again, by how
lucky I am to have such a great family. In the lottery of life, I totally
scored big with my family Even the ones who I didn’t see for Christmas I saw
upon returning to the West coast. Without gushing too much, I just want it to
be known that I have a loving and supportive family and when the book is closed
on me and talented therapists finaly figure out what the hell is wrong with me,
I can assure you that it is not going to be unresolved childhood issues.
Let’s see … what else?
Even though I have not done any actual writing, I have been
thinking quite a lot about writing and I recently figured out a big piece of
something which had stumped me for quite some time in the novel I am
perpetually working on. It is nice when a problem can be solved. So now that I
have solved this gaping hole in the plot I should really sit down and – you know
– write it.
All in good time though. I have refused to make any actual
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS, because that seems to me like the best way to guarantee
failing at them. However I have quietly made some plans for myself. Some small
and delicate promises. They are exactly what you would expect: I want to write
more, but not just that. I want to DO SOMETHING with that writing. I haven’t
had anything published in quite awhile and that is 100% due to the fact that I
simply haven’t sent anything out in awhile. So it isn’t just about the writing,
it is also about putting myself out there.
Also, I am simply at the point where I need to find a new
job. I’m tired of the hours and the stress and the
not-so-great-money-considering-the-hours-and-the-stress. At this point I feel
as though my work ethic is being somewhat taken advantage of. Almost as if they
go, “Hey who should we give this last-minute and impossible problem to?” and
then it invariably lands on my desk about 6pm and they say, “It is suddenly
your job to have this fixed by tomorrow. Oh, and by the way, we are all going
home. TTFN!” I have been in the position several times recently where I had to INVENT
ways to fix things. Not simple FIND ways, but literally invent them. It just
seems to me like that shouldn’t be required of me. Sure, if I worked for the
CIA or NASA or something then I would understand, but I don’t work for those
places. I work in a totally normal office and all of these problems could be
avoided through some better management. But alas, I have said too much. I don’t
like to complain specifically since I use my real name on this here blog.
Finally, I am going to make a very real effort to become
more fit, physically and emotionally and intellectually. I didn’t read enough
last year, I didn’t write enough, I didn’t run enough or do enough pushups and
I certainly wasn’t GOOD enough. I have had some passing moments in the last few
months when I have felt like a man, not just an erstwhile thirty-something who
is a grown-up because he has a job and pays his taxes. No, there were a few
moments sprinkled into all the chaos when I felt like a man; like somebody who
had it together. I would like to feel more of those moments. Most of them came
with moments of clarity. I have offered a few real apologies to people who I
really owed them to. I came clean about some things and it felt good. I have
tried to be more honest, with myself and with others, and that felt good. Don’t
worry, I haven’t given up on the hyper-ironic mockery of everything, but I also
haven’t given up on hope and on joy and on the idea life is always a work in
So there is all of that. I’m sure none of this means
anything to you, but it is good for me to sit here and say all of this. I hope
that your year is going well so far. I hope that you are healthy and happy and
pure of heart and I hope you are looking forward to good things in the days and
weeks and months ahead. If nothing else,
I hope that you are as thankful as I am that that whole Mayan Apocalypse
thing didn’t pan out.