Saturday, February 18, 2006

A few notes on the two below

I went to a writing group. I'm ashamed of myself. I really didn't want to go, but I'm suddenly in San Francisco and I don't know anybody. The lure of boredom and meeting people with similar interests proved to be too powerful and my hatred of 'groups' was destroyed. For exactly one hour.

I went with a friend of mine. His name is Kevin. It was at a place in the Haight called "Cook's Crepes!" or something like that. It was a Crepe joint. I've never eaten a crepe and still havent. I wasn't feeilng good that night, I had the beginnings of a cold, scratchy throat, nose troubles headache. On the ride over to the Crepe place I told my friend Kevin. "I'm probably going to lose my voice at some point." I never did but I came really really close. Doesn't matter.

Anyway, I believe dumb things like "tea will cure me." So I go to the counter at the Crepe joint, which is actually a beautiful little shop. A coffee shop, that sells crepes, that sells beer, that sells tea. I was impressed with the place. Coffee shops are big out here. I'm in one now actually. But there's always a mass of people inhabiting them and mooching the free wireless connections. It was a happening little place that sold crepes and tea. Tea. I need tea.

I go to the counter and I order tea, fully expectinng to be handed a cup with some tea in it, maybe a tea bag. Probably not. Probably just a cup of brown liquid that I foolishly think will cure me of my sickness before I sit down with this writing group so that I may be attentive and interesting and impressed with how wrong I was about the idea of writing groups. I'm given a science experiment by the man behind the counter.

There's a cup. There's a copper kettle. There's a little screening device. There's a weirdo spoon. It takes two fucking trips to cary to my table on the other side of the store. The kettle is steaming and burning my fucking hand. My throat is scratchy and I'm coughing and my eyes are bloodshot and what the fuck is a crepe?

Not happy. I get back to the table and I start to build my little tea pyramid. Cup, screener, spoon thing. I take the copper pot and start pouring the water over the spoon thing, through the screener and into the cup. I'm fuzzy on what happens next. I sort of become transfixed on the screener. The screener is there to catch the little bits of tea that live in the pot. I'm so concentrated on doing this correctly, and making sure the screener catches all the tea, that I overpour the cup and spill tea all over my legs, pants, balls. Tea is hot.

And so, now. Now is when the writing group starts. Directly after I douse my crotch in hot complicated tea. "High everyone, I'm Dan. I spilled tea all over myself just a second ago" I say through a raspy scratchy wheeze of sickness. Mild laughs. There are a eight people at this table. I'm already not happy.

Some guy who I almost imediately decide that I hate starts off. "Hello. I'm Jerry McDouchebag. Welcome. To. The Writing Group!" Not exactly what he said, but he's very proud of himself for organizing a writing group. Which is to say, he's proud of himself for posting something on craigslist and then having people show up as a result. Doesn't matter. "We're going to have a thirty minute free-write" What the fuck is a free-write? Who is shackling your writing? It's a blank page and then you fill it with words, it's not a constricting process. You can do whatever the fuck you want. Watch: Yesterday, when I got done having sex with the Zebra, I went to the bank. I imediately turned into water, and fell into the time stream. I wound up on pluto. A curling iron told an ATM Machine "I like dinosaurs!" Doesnt matter. You can write anything at any time. FREE WRITE? Fuck my fucking head hurts and my throat. "Ok, lets free write"

So I spent a half an hour at a counter in a crepe joint, my balls wet with tea, scribbling with a pen and paper and the following two stories are what came of that. Afterwards people took turns reading what they had been working on, out loud. I hate this. I hate it. "Would you like to read, Dan?" "Absolutely not happening. Move on."

Some guy read a novel he was writing in the second person. It was like being trapped in a who's on first routine. You? Me? no you. Who? You. Not you, you. Me? Yes. Well, kind of you, but not really you, but still you. You. What?

Some other girl had bad tattoos and talked about Sylvia Plath until I almost started to cry.

Some other guy sat at the end of the table and his motto was clearly "I will stare at you until you concede that I am intense!"

It wasn't a good experience. Never ever go to a writing group. Never ever.

And so, for your reading enjoyment. Here are two stories that I wrote in about a half an hour while dabbing at my pants and talking to a guy sitting next to me who had a very tiny computer and was interesting.




Janet jumped out the window on Friday. I was probably the least surprised. Everyone said things like "I would never have thought she could do such a thing!" and "Just goes to show, you can never really know a person."

But I knew she’d do it. I’m amazed more people don’t do it. I blame the air conditioning, personally. IT was probably a lot of things, but the a/c is probably what pushed her over the last hurdle. Probably needed air as much as anything else. You know?

It’s not my place to tell you why she did what she did, but lets just say it wasn’t a woman that made her do it. Oh no. I won’t get into all the details but a guy named Jeff broke her heart, then she got busted for tax evasion and her kid smashed her toe with a hammer on Thursday about 8:45, then th a/c went and that was it. Whoop! Out the window. But it’s not my place to get into the details.

Also her ex-husbands name is Jeffery Charles Burnam, her kid’s name is Emma and the hammer was a Craftsman. But really, talk to the family if you want all the gory details.
Incidentally, she hit the ground traveling 9.8 meters per second squared until such a time that she hit what physicists call "Escape Velocity." Which, by my calculations, was around the 13th floor or so. Then she stopped accelerating. Those pants look good on you, by the way. Are they new? And, so then she hit the sidewalk at 81st and Market Streets.

Oh by the way. They found her nose a block and a half away and it took over two hours to clean up the mess. Two deck brushes. Lots of soap. Do you like these highlights. I can’t tell if I should cut them out or keep them.


There’s a mouse in the kitchen. I call him Stanley. Stan leads a far more interesting life than I do. His job is more fulfilling than mine and his girlfriend is prettier. In fact, just that he has a girlfriend is more impressive than anything in my life. My life moves by in the springs of a second while his rolls by in the roar of a train.

We have a small agreement, Stanley and me. If he’s out of the kitchen when I’m eating dinner, I leave him be. If he shows his face while I’m there, I chase after him with my shoe and a licence to smash... It doesn’t much matter, he’s faster and smarter, but we have an agreement, Stanley and me.

I don’t usually leave the bedroom anyway so he’s got the run of the place. He’s free to have his friends over for drinks or his girlfriend for dinner. I only come out if the music is too loud, otherwise I just read till I sleep.

Is that apple pie? I think I smell apple pie! It’s coming up through the vents. He must be having a bake off or some event for his son’s school. Stanley has a son from a previous marriage named Toby. He’s graduating with honors this year. Stanley car has a bumper sticker that reads: "My son is an honor student at James Polk High!" He’s a bright little mouse. Just like his dad.

My son hasn’t called me in months and I ride a bicycle.

Stanley went out with my ex wife for dinner tonight. He’s met her a few times when she dropped off my prescriptions. That Stanley sure is a charmer. He’s a rat. They’re taking my boy and toby to Chuck E Cheeses’. Stanley says he knows someone that works there.

Before they went out, he offered me coffee. He wants to keep up appearances and show good faith. We made an agreement, Stanley and me. He’d have my boy call me after dinner. He said that he’d do it. Stanley’s a rat, but he knows what my boy means to me.

They left around 9 in Doris’ new car. Red and Blue with all leather seating. That was the last I’ve seen them. We had an agreement, Stanley and me.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Things were ok at work today. Lindsey is irritating. I singed some old lady’s hair and she screamed at me. The blow dryer gets too hot too quick. Sometimes hair gets singed, lady. That’s all. Calm down. She looked great when she left but didn’t bother to tip me. She told me to get my eye looked at instead. It’s been a slow month for tips. Gas prices went up again. John is out of work. He’s back with his old friends. It’s been a slow month for tips.
When I got home he was in the recliner asleep. John’s friend Julio was on the love seat asleep. The tv was blaring a court show. Judge somebody. She was a fiery little thing, flailing her arms all over the place and screaming at two gang bangers. How do gang bangers wind up like this? I’ll have to ask Julio when he wakes up. John wouldn’t know.
John got fired from the plant last month, cutbacks he told me. He said he got laid off. Lindsey’s husband works at the plant. She told me and everyone else in the store that John got fired for fighting. Apparently someone named Nick the Forklift Driver was being disrespectful to John and John punched him in the face. They had a fight and they both got fired. I wonder if they were able to find anyone else to run a fork lift? I’m not sure what John did there. I know he started fights, but I don’t know what else. I asked him a few times but he told me to stop.
There’s a gun on the table. It’s silver and it looks heavy. It’s Julio’s gun. John keeps his in his car, in case someone is disrespectful to him in the car. His is black and light. He used to fire it down at the range, but not in a long time. I’d be surprised if it works anymore. Julio’s looks like it works. Heavy with bullets.
I picked up a few things on the way home, just food. Bread and things. I can’t buy junk food anymore, John eats it all day and he’s getting fat. His shirts are getting tight on him, they stick to him. It takes effort for him to get out of the recliner. He’s starting to grunt when he sits up. He’s starting to grunt when he does other things. I’m a hairdresser in a bad part of town and my husband grunts when he gets out of chairs, when he gets into other things. Julio’s gun is on the table, silver and shining.
John is snoring in his chair, Julio might as well be dead. I asked him to stop hanging out with Julio but he got angry and we stopped talking. Julio is trouble. He carries a gun even when he’s just coming to our house. Nothing is going to happen here at our house. Nothing is going to happen but he brings it anyway. He brings it everywhere. John wants to be like Julio I think. Julio steals things from the backs of trucks and sells them to men in garages. He tucks the gun in the waistband of his pants and shakes the hands of other men who have guns in the waistbands of their pants. John keeps his gun in the glove box of his 94 Lincoln. It leaks oil in the garage we share with the old lady upstairs.
John calls her Esther. Her name is Mary. She’s a sweet old woman. Her grand kids come to visit her on the weekend. They play in the hallway and in the stairwell. John hates it, hates kids. I give them suckers I take from the shop. They have bubble gum and baseball cards. They’re precious but mostly they stay upstairs. I spend most weekends listening to them patter above me. Tramping too loud through the hallway and laughing. She’s good about it when John screams, even during the week.
I singed her hair once at the parlor but she didn’t mind. She over tipped. She said she’d tell her daughter to come visit me and she did. I was more careful with the blow dryer. I was careful not to singe her hair. I was very careful, I held it steady and made sure it wouldn’t hurt her. I didn’t want to hurt her, I just wanted to do it right. I wanted to start doing things right. I was careful when I aimed and when I pulled the trigger it was done as quick as I started. He slumped over and was gone.