Friday, August 19, 2005

I'm really very proud of that last post, in a written-in-one-sitting, couldn't-sleep, couldn't-think-straight-until-it-was-done sort of way, and, thusly, I don't want to detract from it by replacing it's "most current" spot with some meaningless sentimentality about things that reminds me a of people and people that remind me of things (and things and people that remind me of feelings, and feelings that remind me of songs, and songs that remind me of ootsy-cutsie butterflies, what have you), but I'm casually reading this book (meaning I've read a few pages into it and probably never will again) about writing life stories, and the author says, very plainly, that writers write.

What he means by this is the age-old advice that any writer with any credit to their name will tell you: A serious writer should devote one solid hour a day to writing, and be disciplined about it. The problem I have with this is that I highly suspect that my favorite writers would be those with no credit to their name at all, except of course that the problem continuing from that logic is that I've never heard of any of them, and that sort of wipes out my argument. I have more problems with this, many more, about how discipline and creativity are often mutually exclusive, and the staunchy quality that timed writing brings, and all that kind of rot, but it all boils down to creative and glorified ways of saying the following: I have no self-discipline.

None. Not a drop of it. My parents probably devoted considerable time in my youth to disciplining me, and hoping I would learn to take it on myself, but being, as I was, a bright child, I quickly learned that rather than the slow and tedious path of learning discipline, nature had provided me with the eternal shortcut: fussing, lying, and justifying my way out of any responsibility whatsoever.

There is a certain problem with being too smart when you're young. I'm not saying I'm a genius or anything, but it was clear that I was always at the top of my class, along with a few others. The lot of them are fairing pretty well today, come to think of it, which must prove that I was smarter than them all along, if you follow. I was never challenged by anything in school, so I learned how to half-ass things rather than how to apply myself, I never had to give anything my full attention, so I never learned how to keep my mind from wandering, and I never needed to be given directions before assignments, so, today, I just dare you to tell me how to get somewhere without google mapping it for me. You'll be one exasperated search party, let me tell you.

Of course, there you have, again, a list of excuses. Clearly, this is at the soul of my writing, and my self, to be truthful. If I were to be psychoanalyzed, searched through and through, and all my excuses, my lies, my justifications sifted through, I suspect at the end of it all what would be left would amount to an handwritten note, reading "I owe you: one fundamental truth about my being, ASAP. ~Linda :-)"

That is, if I bothered showing up for the appointment at all.

I could go on for a while, were it not 3 AM, about where specifically I think people went wrong in teaching me, where I went wrong in learning. I could talk about methods we could use, as a country, to create a different learning environment for children who learn at seperate speeds, much more so than we do today, and I could talk about the plausible benefits for this. I could talk about regrets and consequences, and I could even spell out a thorough, bulleted, step-by-step plan for change: a redemption that would take place just in time, saving me from the massive lethargy that is me.

But I bet you know where this is(n't) going!

On with it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Zack and I had a fight sometime last night, and I couldn't get it out of my system. He fell asleep after like it was nothing, always can. Not me. When I get restless like that, there's only one thing I can do to work through it.


The Benefactor

She asks, and I tell her I’m only in town for a few days, on a job.

"Where are your manners today, Cowboy?" She says as I watch her sitting on the side of the bed, reaching back to zip up her dress. Her large hanging breasts disappear into the brilliant red fabric. "Aren’t you going to ask me if I’m in town on business or pleasure?"

"I thought your business was pleasure." I say. Nothing from her, not a glance, not a smile. I’d thought it at least worth a chuckle, but then, laughter isn’t cheap from a girl like this. In truth, I had been wondering what she was doing there tonight; it wasn’t the bar or even the town we normally met in, when we met. A chance encounter, tonight, but it was lucky for me. Something had been missing the past few days, itching at me, and when I saw her sitting at the bar, looking just the way I’d first seen her years ago, I knew what it was.

She looks up, interrupting my train of thought; sees what I’m thinking instantly and gives me that half-smile that’s all you ever get out of her. "I’m glad you found me tonight, Cowboy. You were just what I needed."

I suppose that’s what makes a good hooker, knowing what he wants to hear.

"That mean your not going to take my money, then?" I say, reaching for my wallet behind me on the dresser that I’m leaning on, across from her so I can watch her every careful move.

"No, sweetie, I’ll take it. I always do." She gets up and saunters over to me, and I fan her payment out in front of her like a bad poker hand. She takes it from me quickly, in a darting motion, and stuffs it in her purse, indelicately. It’s sad, now that I can afford to, I always pay her too much for her to push it slowly into her cleavage like she used to. I wish to hell they’d invent some bigger bills. "But I’ll say this...I’m gonna spend this here money on something I want, not something I need. Something for me."

"You make sure of that." I tell her. "That’s what kind of money it is, that’s what I spent it on." I’m trying so goddamn hard to be funny or charming or something, but it’s lost on her, or it would look that way if I didn’t know her face so well. She’s a woman of subtlety, a woman who knows enough not to get all hysterical about things. You should only really laugh if the joke is funny. You should only really cry if the love is true.

Probably, I’ll never see her laugh again, but I’ve had dreams about it, the way I saw it that first night. I didn’t even know at first who she was then, what she was, we were just sharing a drink, and I was drinking her in. She smiled then, pouted then, was a girl to the woman now before me, but still beautiful, always beautiful. She’s leaning over the vanity now, applying her lipstick just so. Probably, she was the kind of girl who never believed she was pretty at all, but smart enough to know that she could get her way if she learned how to fake it. If I could make her realize how she looks to me now, I just might see her cry.

But I’ll never see her cry.

She’s mussing the curly locks of her hair, studying the lines on her face in the mirror’s dirty glass. She’s counting the years and managing the minutes, making deals with herself about the future, the things she’ll have, the way she’ll have them. She was lying about the money, I think, because I can see her doing the math of how far it will get her. She’s deciding when to quit.

I hope she never does.

"Don’t look so worried, Cowboy. I’m not heading west or anything. Just in town visiting friends." She walks back over to me and searches my eyes, all systematic, all fake, but I fall for it; I always do.

"Then I’ll see you back home, some time?"

To this, a chuckle, except this time, I wasn’t trying to be funny. "You have a home, Cowboy?"

"Do you?" I counter, feeling slighted.

She cranes her head and looks off in the distance, in thought. "I’ve got a place to stay tonight, and a liquor store on the way there. And I’ve got money to buy the finest drink they’ve got to offer, thanks to you, and the time to sip it slowly, and think about my benefactor. " She’s smiling just a hair more than usual, perhaps, but I’m telling myself it’s all just an act, must be an act, otherwise I’d break down and give her everything I had. Her eyes look straight at me then, and
she finishes: "Yeah, I guess I have a home, tonight."

It’s crazy the way she makes me feel. A romantic would swear by it, but I’m not a romantic. We see each other every couple of months, her and I. She’s the only one I’ve ever seen more than once, and I'm finally getting to think it's more than a coincidence. It’s not like the way it sounds, but she’s the only woman I’ve ever loved.

"I thought you were lying about the money." I tell her to her back, just before she reaches for the door. "About spending it on something for you."

"No, sweetheart. I wouldn’t lie to you. I never lie to anyone who knew me before I started turning tricks."

I’m instantly confused: I didn’t know her before. That first night I saw her, she was sitting at a bar, nursing a drink. She’d looked over at me and smiled a little, that was all it took. A soft sell, that’s what it was. I took her over to a private table and we talked. She didn’t say anything about what she did or was, but it didn’t take long to figure it out. She laughed at my jokes and listened to me babble, and I wanted her so badly, knew it was too good to be true. I started to suspect, but I didn’t mind: me being what I was, I couldn’t have hoped for anything better. When she took my hand and began to lead me out of the place, I knew for certain. Didn’t matter. It’d been wonderful, more than I could have hoped for. A surge of synergy, a connection so real, it had to be fake. No woman could ever make love to a man like me that way, not without a price. She was just a brilliant and beautiful actress, and when the curtains closed I threw my rose like everyone before me. I remember getting up and going to my wallet, getting the two C-notes I had on me and handing them to her without a word. I would have given more if I’d had it, she hadn’t asked for any special amount. She hadn’t asked for any of it: a real professional, she’d been.

I remembered the way she took it, and looked at me. She gave me one of her subtle looks that I hadn’t yet grown to understand. My confusion must have shown because she finally smiled to relax, it was different. She gave me that half-smile, for the very first time. I remember how slowly she folded the bills and pushed them down between her breasts, how young she was then. What wasn’t I remembering?

She must be thinking about someone else. I’m about to mention her mistake, but she gives me a look that quiets me.


"You didn’t answer me cowboy: do you have a home?"

For a moment, I can’t answer. I pick up my wallet again, and tap it against my free hand, pointedly. "I’ve got a job." She shakes her head, and I ask. "What’s wrong with that?"

"Ain’t nothing wrong with it, darlin’. You know how I feel about a man with a job."

Her hand is on the door knob and she’s about to make her exit line, that’s maybe what I love the most about her. It’s always something that gets to me. She pushes open the door and is a smoky silhouette against the fake, flickering city light as she says it:

"Hard work and hard time will get you a lot of places, Cowboy. You just better make damn well sure first that they're where you want to go."

The door closes.

Cowboy. She calls me Cowboy.


On with it.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

As we're closing up the shift tonight, my metrosexual friend and coworker, Josh, says to me "I miss these kids when I go. I made them. I brought them up, and made them who they are."

He is referring to the kids we work with who are leaving for college and one who is going back to high school in limestone. It makes me stop and think how wrong he is, and how a certain kind of man (unmarried, almost always, and living a relatively small life that they've inflated in their minds.) need to take credit for success of other people. People are smart or funny or who just stand out always have to deal with people trying to be a part of their success. I don't even have any real success, just, perhaps, a certain way with words and, perhaps, a certain amount of potential, and it makes me nauseous to think of how many people will say they made me what I am, when I am something.

Or perhaps a select few made me paranoid about this phenomenon...I'm not really sure.

Another thing that bothers me are people who are there for you just so they can take credit for being there for you. I think that trumps the first. I try to make it a point not to do that, but who knows if I succeed.

I've been thinking a lot lately about Alanis Morissette's song "Unsent", which consists of five short letters to men of her past, exposing the ulimate truths about their respective relationships with her (or what stood as the ultimate truths at that point in her life). I've been thinking I should write out my own version of it, that perhaps this would be an exercise in closure (something I never learned) and I think I may do that now, though I'm unsure as to whether it would particularly wise to post it here, as that would be somewhat....counter-productive. However, I'd like to inspire this as a new trend in blogs...I'd love to read some other peoples. I think, perhaps, I will change the names....let's see how it goes, and I'll get back to you.

Done, and less than a page. Emily's always on my ass for being too long-winded, she'd be really proud. I started by making a list of potential recipients, then I crossed out anyone who I've already comed to terms with the realities of our relationship. From there, I crossed out people who I wouldn't have had enough to say to that was really important, and then I crossed out, with one exception, people I still have a standing relationship with. If I change the names, everyone who read would probably know who everyone else was anyway. The thing is, there's something exposed in it that...I don't know if this is the time or the place, but...I guess it's now or never, and that all depends on the luck of the draw.

But you'll know who you are, and you should e-mail me. We maybe should talk this out.

I'm gonna leave the names blank, and the amount of spaces is no indication. Anyway, here goes nothing, and, as always, I leave myself open to some massive amount of backlash.

My Unsent

By the way, it's kinda in the same rhythym that she did it in, I think anyone who's heard the song will really appreciate it a lot more.

Well, that's enough ultimate truth for one night. Now to prepare for the fallout.

On with it.