My first encounter with story came from the 1994 miniseries which aired on ABC. It starred Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, and a whole bunch of actors that I’d see on TV and movies throughout my adolescent years. While it didn’t have the best production value – it was a made-for-TV miniseries, after all – it still captivated my 11-year-old imagination. It became my gold standard for post-apocalyptic tales, especially those revolving around pandemics that wipe out humanity.
I didn’t read the book until 2009, when I found a copy at a used bookstore. This copy was a 1980, mass-market paperback which mirrored the 1978 hardcover; the only difference between the books – other than the obvious – were the date changes. In the 1978 edition, the apocalypse happed in 1980; in the paperback, the apocalypse was moved to 1985. For those not in-the-know, the 1978 edition was meant to be a much larger work; Doubleday had warned King that a book of such size would be too much for the market to bear. It wasn’t until 1990 that King’s original vision for the book came to fruition.
“What are you doing?” I ask. We’re in the backroom and R begins to thumb through what most people have come to call my bible. I can’t imagine there is anything of interest written on the quad pages, but these are still my thoughts. My summaries to stories I mean to write. Fragmented essays I plan on stringing together one day.
He ignores me. Or he doesn’t hear me. Or both. “What? Are? You? Doing?” I repeat. I snatch the journal from his hand and toss it into my backpack.
“Oh come on,” R protests. “It’s not like you don’t want people reading it. You go on stage and talk about your penis in front of other people.”
“I’ve never once talked about my penis,” I quip. “I talk about other men’s penises.”
I rode buses to and from Brownsville every weekend for a year. If I boarded a next-to-empty bus, I took whatever available seat I found in the back. Resting my head against the window, I memorized the different routes each bus driver took to reach Brownsville. A few times, I spoke to other passengers. Several of them spoke only Spanish and most of these stories were lost in translation. On these transits, I scribbled down notes and poem journal entries.
There came a day in December when I noticed a few passengers sitting down in front. From McAllen onward, these passengers spoke in whispers to each other. At Harlingen, they walked off into the cold wind and vanished inside the station. Few nights later, on the news, I saw one on TV. The news piece focused on the homeless issues in both the cities of McAllen and Harlingen. Turns out when one city wanted to handle its homeless population, they shipped them over to the next.
“People don’t keep journals for themselves. They keep them for other people, like a secret they don’t want to tell but want everyone to know.” —Marilyn Manson, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell.
My journal consisted of index cards that I left lying around the room. Quotes from books I read or characters I created. Pros-and-cons lists about joining the Peace Corps. Most of these are gone. Thrown away or lost in some bag I carried at the time. As a gift on one of our anniversaries or maybe a birthday present or maybe just an I-love-you-and-trust-you present, I gave Jeanna one of my journals. Unfinished, but I felt there was some sentimental value to the idea.
I’ve read from my journal during a few poetry readings in the past. And I can foresee myself getting on stage and play confessional to an audience of priests.
I found someone’s blog the other night. I didn’t intended on seeking this blog out any more than I would seek out this person’s private journal. Insomnia laid its blanket over me that night, so I took to scrolling through Tumblr. Tag hopping because that’s what I do. When I came upon a tag for some cartoon show that I’ll never watch, but is all the rave on Tumblr. Gif after clip after photo essay after fanfic later, I stumbled upon a familiar username. My midnight mind brushed it off as coincidence. The greater part of me wishes I would have stuck to that conclusion.
I didn’t read the blog because that’s a violation even my curiosity knows not to cross. Reading the description was enough to sate my need to know. I couldn’t keep this secret though, so I mentioned it later via Facebook messenger. I hope this explanation puts to rest any anxieties that I may have created with my little confession. Your secrets are still yours to keep.
I started reading short stories. At the moment, I’m thumbing through Drown by Junot Díaz. This is in hopes that my writing habits return to me. There’s a project that I want to work on, though I don’t have the resources right now. I might enlist the help of local writer friends. There’s still much to suss out.
Dissociation (noun) – 1. The disconnection of separation of something from something else of the state of being disconnected; 2. Separation of normally related mental processes, resulting in one group functioning independently from the rest, leading in extreme cases to disorders such as multiple personality.
Jenn once said I was disenchanted with being disenchanted. It’s possibly the most memorable thing anyone has ever told me online, though I never understood what she meant. In another life, I suppose.
I suppose it’s the same for every writer, right? That feeling that the only person holding you back is you? The plan for returning to school to work on an MFA budded before graduation. That was in 2007. Worked odd jobs. Made myself known in the writing community. It was near prolific for me. We’re talking about a guy whose hatred for all things human, making himself visible. And then it was gone. Just as sudden as it happened.
I waved my white flag and retreated within myself. No explanations. No reasons. Not even a goodbye to my fellow writers.
So what happened? I did. Every project started was put on hold. There were better things to do than write. For instance, there was the idea of writing. Sure. Story ideas flare within me and fizzle just as soon as a pen is in my hand, is on paper. And the characters want life. They’re at the dams, bursting through the flood gates and spilling into my consciousness. I hear them speaking, reciting the lines I’ve never written. I adopt their personalities. I become a story.
I no longer knew if Coma White was real or just a side effect.
I’m subjected to believe Mackie once existed. Or perhaps, might’ve existed if things had run their course differently. I imagined him as a fair man, never aging – despite the age he feels rotting him from the inside. A character not unloved, but, nevertheless, forgotten.
I’m burned out, I fear. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Isn’t that the saying? Perhaps being an educator is my destiny after all. There have been those who say that I have the power to motivate, that I should become a teacher. But what hope does this country have when it comes to education? We longer treasure the arts and culture like we once might have. It’s a shocking truth. A sad one. When an old country comes up with pure genius – though, I most graciously disagree – we come up with teenage, Latter Day Saint vampire smut.
And while becoming an educator in a university or college sounds appealing, I want to return the favors of so many. I want to help other budding writers just as I was helped.
Repetition, Unfinished Thought
This post was made in haste. My eyes are beginning to shut. There’s an echo in my head. Mackie bids you farewell.
I like pop music as much as the next person. Let me rephrase that, I like pop music as white noise when I’m doing my job. Or when I’m writing, which I also like to consider part of my job. It gets me rolling and keeps me concentrated because I don’t like like pop music, I prefer listening to something like KMFDM or Skold or Marilyn Manson or Nine Inch Nails or…well, you get my point. So when you see Lady Gaga or Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera or Katy Perry on my playlist, you know it’s because I’m about to go to work. I can already hear it, “Sure, Willie. Sure.” But it’s true. I work/write more efficiently listening to pop music because I cannot sing along. And if I’m distracted, I get the job done in a timely manner than, say, having me zone out when “Error 404” by Skold vs. KMFDM starts up – trust me, this happens all the time.
Like everyone, I was intrigued with Lady Gaga when she first appeared. For a split second, I thought I was looking at Marilyn Manson’s latest gimmick. Then I was convinced she was Line Trap a.k.a. Harley Quinn a.k.a. Bailey Jay. I listened to “Poker Face” picking at the lyrics – all in good humor – for subliminal messages admitting she was once a man. I loved Manson’s remix of “LoveGame.” But there was something off with her. Something I couldn’t put my finger on. But as quickly as she appeared on stage, her fame quickly diminished. Only it didn’t. In fact, it grew. And grew. And grew.
Last summer, “Alejandro” was constantly sung by a baseball player every day in the locker room – only he sung it as Alejandra. Lissie’s cover of “Bad Romance” sparked my interested in the talented singer. It was suddenly clear to me that Lady Gaga wasn’t going to go anywhere; she was the Sarah Palin of pop music. Just when you think she’s gone – BAM! – right in the fucking eye!
In this month’s issue of Esquire, Stephen Marche asks the fifty-nine questions about Lady Gaga that I was beginning to wonder, including, but not limited to, “Why is she so famous?” and “What if she never goes away?” What really boiled my blood about Miss “Born This Way” was her use of retarded (which she later apologized for). Apparently, in that moment of bad judgment, Lady Gaga forgot that men tattooed to resembled zombies aren’t born that way, but most mentally handicapped people are.
And it seems that Lady Gaga knows how quickly she can be forgotten, which is why the first single of the upcoming album seemed quickly put together and, as Stephen Marche, sounds “just like a Madonna’s “Express yourself,” only emptier.” Who knows, perhaps the entire new album is just cut and paste lyrics thrown together to keep her fan base happy. Isn’t that what it’s really about? Pleasing and fooling everyone into thinking you’re deep and different, while just retooling things that have been done before by people with real talent?
But the blind will continue to hold her up as the role model savior, while bashing Katy Perry. What they don’t seem to grasp is that Lady Gaga is no savior. She isn’t even the gay messiah. She’s nothing but a product on display, rolling in the money until the next thing tumbles out of the manufacturing line. She’s got every one fooled and for that, they will continually throw money her way. If anything, Lady Gaga is doing more damage to the cause than supporting it.
So I urge fans to pay closer attention to Lady Gaga. Soon enough, you’ll see the layer of deceit fall away. It’s okay. I’ll grab you some tissues.
Sk0ld released the single “Suck” on 12 April 2011. I’ve listened to it since yesterday, feeling the intoxicating sensation that comes with good music. And it isn’t just Sköld’s new stuff, I’m listening to. I’m also listening to his older stuff, the Dead God EP, stuff from Shotgun Messiah, KMFDM, MDFMK, Marilyn Manson – the Tim Sköld years – and Skold vs. KMFDM. Coupled with my new friend on Twitter – @mr_sean_maguire – it’s turning into an endless industrial party that’ll last me into the weekend, possibly beyond.
There’s just something hypnotic about Tim Sköld‘s voice, his lyrics. It puts me in the mood of writing dark, decadent things – as oppose to the light, cheery things I write about. But I can’t focus on that. Not only am I working on a new draft of “Zombies in the Outfield” – which is the working title, but not the actual title – but I’m working on revisions of “Note to my 12-year-old Self” and “Teenage Love Story,” which started out as a fun story about two misanthropic people – a story I promised a friend on Tumblr – but turned into a story about two damaged people incapable of feeling anything.
While I’m on the subject of Tumblr friends, apparently my egomania cause someone to unfollow me. It’s been in the making for a while – possibly a long while now. What I saw as misanthropic and different was actually a ploy. Apparently, being a poseur is still a hit these days and I’m feeling a fool for falling for the ploy. The unfollowing took place, it seems, after I called her out on the blatant hypocrisy – apparently she’s allowed to express her opinions on everyone, but her followers – the so-called friends – weren’t to express theirs. It doesn’t matter. I wasn’t attached to her and her place in my online life has already been filled with a capable person.
The problem wasn’t that she was being a bitch – opinionated ladies are my favorite people – it was that, after a while, it seemed the only reason she was being so negative about everything wasn’t because she was expressing her opinions, but because she wanted to garner some attention from others – to become, if you will, semi-Tumblr famous. Anyone using a social network site for a popularity contest is obviously not a person I want belonging to my online circle. This is the last I’ll talk about the subject because I honestly don’t care. It’s just my life is pretty much pathetic, so this was possibly the most interesting thing that’s happened to me this week – I know, it’s sad, ain’t it?
I’m content with my new Tumblr homies, consisting of Luna, Jason Walsh, Silvi, Ana, Sam, Amanda and Michael (who isn’t really a homie because I rarely speak to him, but I wanted to somehow sneak in the fact that I purchased his collection of short stories, Early Onset of Night, on Smashwords the other day).