Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I started this blog in 2005 when I decided to start writing fiction because I started to hate writing nonfiction, because all the nonfiction was about myself, and I started to feel uncomfortable about that. I didn't tell anyone about this blog because I'm embarrassed and ashamed of most of it. I think at the high point, maybe ten people knew that it was here. Then eventually I locked it, and there were only 3 or 4 people that had access. It was during a personal information panic. I started getting very concerned about how much of my life was out there on the internet and in other people's heads and out of my control. I've spent a lot of my life being very concerned about who knows what information about me at any given time, and it's kind of kept me from being a better person and a good writer.

I've been reading things I've written out loud in front of strangers lately. It's because friends of mine are nice to me, and think that what I've written is worth sharing, and worth being nervous about and worth standing behind and, most flattering of all, worth doing it with them - being a part of readings they've put together, audio tours they've assembled, magazines they've published, with other honest to goodness talented people. It's nice, and they've all been very helpful, and I haven't yet thanked them properly for it, and most of those people don't know that this blog is here. And they never needed to, and they don't ever have to look at it, never have to read a word, but I shouldn't be so interested in hiding things from people who have genuinely helped me become a better person and a good writer. So I'm not going to do that anymore.

A related story:

Two friends of mine got engaged recently, and instead of having an engagement party, they had an Engagement Weekend at The Highland Games. The Highland Games is a Scottish festival put together by The Caledonian Club of San Francisco. It's the Scottish Olympics, but more just a general celebration of Scottish heritage. Bagpipes, men in kilts and people throwing heavy things as far as they can, and scotch, delicious scotch. Most of the people there are in some sort of traditional Scottish garb: kilts, furs, needlessly gigantic boots, and none of it is suited to California weather, but they're sweating it out because they're proud of their heritage or just think it's neat or fun or who cares why. It's traditional Scot clothing, I guess, but most of it, I figure, is too ornate to have been worn daily, it all seemed more ceremonial and - to my dickish outsider's perspective - kind of silly.

There's lots to do at the Highland Games, so much, that I almost don't make it to the Birds of Prey demonstration. I don't know if Birds of Prey are Scottish in nature, or how Scotland and Birds of Prey are connected. It seems arbitrary, and I'm sure I had some clever thing to say to my fiancee about how it didn't make sense, even though I don't yet know enough about about birds to make a judgment. I like birds and I've recently been trying to learn more about them. My fiancee, who is perceptive and thoughtful, noticed that I would often talk about the birds around the lake near our house, or would stop on a walk to look at a bird circling overhead, or just generally have more interest in birds than the average person might, so she got me a pair of binoculars for my birthday. She gave them to me while we were out on a walk with two friends of ours. One of the friends is a birder, has binoculars and a pocket sized book of birds. I didn't understand the gift at first, but I put the binoculars around my neck anyway, and the moment I did my heart rate jumped because I felt silly. I felt ridiculous even though my friend, who is a birder, who is wearing binoculars, is an interesting person, is only two feet away from me participating in something I think is interesting, but somehow her participation in it was not silly, and my participation was. It's hard to really figure out what the logic of that moment is because there isn't any. It's just my being self conscious. I relaxed eventually, but maybe not until after we left, and not until I had enough time to think about the binoculars, and genuinely how perfect a gift they are, and how ironic and unfortunate to have a pair of binoculars send me into a panic where I couldn't see myself clearly and how strange I was being.

I don't have any traditional Scottish clothing, so I was wearing an old NaNoWriMo t-shirt. NaNoWriMo is also full of people who unabashedly enjoy a thing that they care about. I don't wear the shirt because I care about NaNoWriMo, though I do, it's just that the shirt fits well and I think I look good in it. But, maybe it looks the same as other shirts, and maybe, somewhere in the back of my head I'm aware that it has a little shield on the front of it with "Author" written underneath, and maybe I want strangers to ask me about it so I can pointedly not tell them about it, so I don't have to be responsible for my interests or my life, or my presence in physical space, but then again, maybe it just makes my shoulders look nice.

A man holding a hawk at the Birds of Prey exhibit asks me about the shirt, points at the 'Author' and asks "Are you a writer?" And I stumble over my words, the way I always do when someone asks me that and "Kinda, I guess, I mean that's the long-term goal, anyway. I want to do that, but you know it's not really what I actually DO, I work in an office, it's just something you know - " and a man with a hawk cuts me off and says "No, no. Are you a writer?" in a pointed, 'cut the bullshit' fashion. Amanda is next to me and smiling, because she hates the way I answer that question, and loves the guy for pressing. I finally say that I am, and he's satisfied. I wrap up the conversation quickly, so I can storm off and be upset that I wore a shirt with the word 'author' on it at a festival with 5000 men happily wearing dresses.

This is longer and a little far away from what I wanted to write here, but here it is anyway. If you take nothing away from this, always remember: When a person holding a dangerous animal asks you a question, just say yes to whatever they ask you. Also, The Highland Games were a very good time, once I stopped being a prick. I almost always forget to pack my binoculars, but I take more care to notice the birds and to learn about them later.

Anyway - there's a bunch of writing in here, it's updated irregularly, but this is where it's been hiding.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wedding Packages

You deserve a wedding as Priceless as the word Priceless is misleading, which is why Loveco has created a several tiered love management system for the perfect wedding on any budget - from appropriate to offensive. Please take a moment to review carefully, as prices have dramatically increased:

The Rich and Royal Wedding

You and your Prince are picked up from the cosmetic surgery of your choosing and whisked away by Horse Drawn Horse Drawn Carriage. Your police escort will guide you down a major thoroughfare laid over with red carpet and its sidewalks filled with a lavender scented adoring public. Offer them a tuppence or pull over and have your driver spray them with a firehose. It’s your day!

Upon arriving at St. Loveco Church, each of your friends will be Super Baptized in a tasteful ceremony presided over by your recently canonized mother or a Bishop of your choosing. Enjoy a traditional church wedding before being smothered in craven images at your reception in The Raised Titanic’s Ballroom! Comfortably seat 1000 guests and dance the night away with wealthy ghosts!

Look at what love hath wrought, with Loveco!

The Maid’s Quarters

Measure expectations in a moderately lavish hall in the Shadow of Loveco Mansion. For a more modest fee, The Maid’s Quarters is probably enough to demonstrate your scrappy, work-a-day commitment to your partner and your genuine, understandable, concern for your future. No ice sculpture? Probably no problem! After all, your kind of money can’t buy you love.

The Maid’s Quarters seats 150 onlookers and finger-crossers. Earn the wary respect of several as you drive yourself in our nearly polished town car, and receive an ‘atta-girl’ shoulder punch from your best friend’s sister. Once the lights are dimmed in your mother’s fainting chamber, it’s time to nervously teeter down the aisle! Brace yourself, it’s time to say “I guess!”

Use your life savings as you always intended and buy everyone you know a pretty good dinner, with Loveco!

The Rustic Retreat

Get married outdoors like your boorish ancestry under the cold, bleak winter sky. Track leaves through the parking lot of love and follow the onscreen instructions to get VirtuaMarried by a VHS copy of “Hulk Hogan’s Wedding Slam 1985.”

Pass a bottle of hooch around the Loveco tether ball court and enjoy a brief hello with your relatives from the other side of a rusty fence. Unfortunately, at these prices, Loveco can only enough Sterno Wine for five guests. A small, intimate affair, perfect for selfish, godless brides with little to share. Learn how to can vegetables and briefly consider calling your mother ‘Ma’, but realize she probably cannot hear you in her condition.

Cry knee deep in mud over the sound of a rusty fence clinking in the wind, with Loveco!

The End

Enjoy the acoustics of a sealed Loveco shipping container and try to not nod off among the debris of your own handmade Apocalypse. Dedicate the proceedings to your recently deceased mother, who left this world ashamed of your frugal nature. Sit on a dirty floor and gnaw on a half-thawed bag of tater tots while you promise your eternal whatever to the man nearest thee before being dragged by the hair to your immediate divorce.

Look what you’ve done. Look what you’ve done. Look what you’ve done and beg for the cheap convenience of death and maybe you’ll be reincarnated as someone who truly values love over money, by spending all your money to prove the amount your love, with Loveco!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I work in an office. It’s miserable, always. Every single moment of it is miserable. Today, when I left the office, just as the door was shutting be hind me I let out a gutteral sort of exhale, a big ugly sound, kind of half angry and half relieved. Then I said “Jesus Christ”, too loudly into an empty hallway, I really hit the JEE and drug it out for a step or two.

At the end of last year there was a pretty heavy series of layoffs. I didn’t get laid off, and I’m ashamed at how much I wanted to get laid of, how much I want to get laid off, because I know I won’t look for other work. I know I wont. I don’t want to work. I want to sit home and write and get checks from the government. I am not a part of the solution to our economic woes. I’m heavily invested in sunny days. The layoffs took about half the office. We’d just moved into a smaller office a few months earlier, I moved with the company and it makes me nauseous to think about that, and it was still too big for us and it was getting bigger every day. They recently rearranged the furniture to make the office look more crowded and useful, giant patches of space every so often with useless little conversation circles and coffee tables in the middle.The top brass was coming in from Chicago and they could have parked their cars in the office and still had plenty of room for figuring out who to lay off next.

In late October another round hit, and a guy got laid off and it hit him pretty hard. He went around the office shaking everyone’s hand and making small chitchat with people before he left. I’d never talked to him before because I don’t talk to anyone there. I like to sit in my corner and do my little insignificant tasks and watch baseball when I’m supposed to be doing other things. I love baseball like someone who hates to talk to other people would. Raul. I think his name was Raul.

Raul came by my desk and had red eyes but was fighting them off, he had his shoulders back and was grinning like none of this made any difference, and he’s right, it doesn’t. But he was working on convincing himself of that, and I was certain of it and I wanted him to go away so I could get back to the baseball game.

He’s a really nice guy. Even when I just passed him in the hallway or over at the coffee machine, he was just one of those people you could tell was a nice guy. He radiated it. He really liked his job and he liked that you knew that he liked his job. It’s not a suit and tie office, but he always wore a suit and tie. Almost every day.

Today he was wearing a bee costume. It was the day before Halloween or close enough to wear a bee costume, so he wore a bee costume. And he talked to me for the first time and he talked about keeping your chin up and how it was time to move on to the next place anyway, and his eyes were red from crying just a short while before, and he walked into and out of my bosses office wearing a bee costume. He sat down in a chair wearing a bee costume, and was relieved of duty in a bee costume. He wore a suit and tie every day and they decided to fire him on the day he wore the bee costume. I imagine he got into his car and drove home in the bee costume, told his wife he lost his job in the bee costume, sat his kids down and told them they couldn’t go to summer camp in a bee costume.maybe went to the bar in the bee costume and kicked a few back in the bee costume. He woke up two days later in a ditch in a bee costume. Hungover and red eyed bee costume bee costume busy busy little bee costume.

I feel like I’m obligated to write a book about office life because I see things like this but why on earth would anyone want to do that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Corner Store

The interior is bright for the cameras, I imagine. A basic corner store, beer in the back, liquor and cigarettes in front, chips and candy between. I have a nodding relationship with the guy who runs the place, he knows me like he knows half the neighborhood, as people that come in and buy things late at night, or when they are positively out of a household item and need it right away. They sell single rolls of toilet paper, small bottles of soap and Ramen Noodles. It’s for desperation, mostly. The whole store is an economy of desperation. I need this right now right now right now. Because I forgot to buy it earlier or because I am chemically bound to it, but either way, right now, right now. Thank you for being open until two am, because I needed condoms and cigarettes and porn magazines in case I don’t need the condoms right now right now.

The guy who runs that place is there all day long almost every day, he is haggard and droopy eyed but smiling and seemingly happier than I am . He smokes a lot. Maybe because he’s addicted to smoking, but it seems like it’s an excuse to stand outside for a bit and get away from the fluorescent lighting. Maybe it’s just to stand in front of his store. I don’t know either way. He’s just the scraggly hair guy at the corner store. I’m probably just the bald guy that comes in from time to time. Bald. Beard. Basic recognition of someone who you’ve seen enough times to nod toward or pretend to not acknowledge depending on the kind of person you are. I’m the latter. He’s forced into saying hello either way, he runs a store, it’s better to be friendly.

It’s better for me to not become friendly with this person. I’d rather not have a conversation with him, ask him why he listens to NPR. Does he like NPR or is it because we’re in the Bay Area? A subliminal sales pitch. I never listen to it, personally. I don’t like all the bad news. It gets depressing. Doesn’t he think it’s depressing? All that bad news all the time. Something’s always exploding. Something is almost always falling apart or in flames and wouldn’t you rather listen to the cool jazz or something? Doesn’t he have enough to worry about, places like this get robbed all the time. People get shot in places like this. Never mind what’s happening in Yemen or wherever the fuck.

All of this would be interesting, but it would make my buying condoms from him uncomfortable. Or feel like he was disappointed in me when I buy beer just before he closes for the night. If he was able to keep track of it all, he’d know more about me than I am comfortable with. But he probably isn’t. He’s probably just a guy who runs a store and is aware that I come in about once a week or so. I am just one of many youngish men in this neighborhood sporting bad beards and pretending they are more young than ish.

He is frequently on the phone, talking over the NPR. The last time I was there, he was considerably more haggard, the NPR was at a whisper, he was still behind the counter working, grabbing packs of cigarettes for strangers or exchanging an airplane bottle of booze for a mess of coins on his counter, counting and losing his place in both the conversation and the counting.

“The body is at the morgue, yes. Yes, the morgue.” Suddenly, we’re even. I know more about him than I should, now. I know that someone is dead. I know that he’s in charge of knowing where that dead person is. I find myself briefly wondering if he killed someone. But he said morgue, so it’s probably all above board and I’m a racist. I shoo that away, and try to mask my thinking that he might have killed someone as ‘I hope others don’t think that he killed someone’ and I comfortably pat down my NPR ideals to make sure the brown man hasn’t stolen them from me.

Whoever he’s talking to might also be counting change, there’s a lot of clarifications to be made, he keeps repeating himself. Maybe the cellphone connection is being difficult.

I am buying one of those logs in a bag for my fireplace. They recently switched from Duraflame, to a “Green” log. Something made out of wax paper barrels or something. I didn’t read the bag before I lit it on fire. I don’t think they sell a lot of those logs, it’s more of a display. Just in case you get a fireplace. Just in case you suddenly have reason for ornamental flame. We have a stack of them. It’s a bright yellow tower of flammable, log shaped, chemicals, we should probably get the green alternative. The logs are near the too-loud NPR radio.

“I don’t know. Friday I think. Friday, yes. The autopsy.” I am next in line and the person behind me is impatient and not happy about the wait. The guy who runs the place is distracted and sad but working hard and steady and the other day I took a day off work because I just didn’t feel like going in. I didn’t feel like going to work because I don’t enjoy my job and I’m standing, watching a real person count hobo pennies while he talks about a dead person he knew, cellphone pinched between his shoulder and his ear, having to say each painful thing repeatedly. He’s having a terrible conversation four times at once, it’s “Yes, Friday. I will know more then. They -- yes. They are having the autopsy. So they can - yes, so they know what happened. That -- right. That is what we hope as well.” And I have to work double-time to pretend that I’m not listening, then more to pretend that it’s probably not what I think it is, he’s got an accent and I’m probably mishearing morgue for something else.

I was just sad I guess, feeling a little down and it was a sunny day and it didn’t seem like a good idea to go to work because if I didn’t go to work, I could really get my head straight or get some things done, or just sit in almost one single position for an entire day and pretend that my life was difficult, like I wasn’t the kind of person who bought ornamental fireplace logs.

The log is $4.87. He turns away for a moment to try to get off the phone. He’s been trying to get off the phone this whole time. It’s got the frustrated feel of someone who is done with the conversation. Every sentence starts with Yes. “Yes, that is correct. Friday.” The person on the other end needs a lot of confirmation of things that have already been clarified and confirmed at least once, since I’ve been standing there and he was on the phone when I walked in.

“I will not have this phone on Friday. I will call you on Friday. I will call you when I know. No, I will not have this phone.” He looks at me, plaintively, sad and apologetic, he is sorry about the phone, he’s really sorry this happened, that I’m so long separated from my ornamental fire. That I’ve been here long enough that I’ve almost heard the news cycle through a second time. I give him my best, sad, “Please take all the time you need, face.” It’s me, after all. I’m in here all the time. Remember last week when I bought MaxiPads? What a goon, I am. Whipped. You could have made the whipped noise and it would have been funny. “It is my daughters phone. I will -- yes, my daughter. Yes.” And I had my change and I left. And it’s dusk, and it’s beautiful and I wonder if the log really is much greener, and if it’ll give off as much heat as the chemically ones did because that was a nice benefit of the chemicals, they gave off a surprising amount of heat. I bet his daughter is fine. That’s probably another person. Someone that he can comfortably work during the death of. Maybe an aunt. A distant relative, someone just outside the periphery of ‘too sad to work’.

When I get home I decide to not tell my girlfriend about the incident because I don’t want it to upset her. She’s been stressed out lately and besides, they changed the logs. They’re made of old industrial wax cylinders. I don’t know what wax cylinders are. There’s almost no way of knowing and I think it said on the bag that it’s better, but I lit it on fire before I finished becoming skeptical that there wasn’t any difference at all.

Friday, April 01, 2011


I've once again been published in the world famous HOBART.

I'm excited and proud.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I had a thought today and I should put it into some sort of story, but I have enough writing on my plate at the moment.

In the next fifty years, America will be much poorer than it is currently. But we'll still have lots of nuclear weapons. Other countries, who will be rich like we are now, will tell us that we're not allowed to have nuclear weapons, the way we tell poor people they're not allowed to have nuclear weapons. And by that point, our president will either A: have a sex tape or B: one of those XXX jugs as his running mate.

That'll end well, right?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spinning Disc Finished

Spinning Disc

Ms. McDermott was in her late thirties. She'd been seeing Dr. Waxler for five years now. Dr. Waxler was happy for the business. She was a steady patient, always on time, always paid her bills. She arrived at 3:45 on Tuesday. Climbing off her bicycle just under his second floor office window. She was kind to the receptionist when Mrs. Wilson was still around, still affordable; she brought them both presents at the holidays and was always so polite about ending the world. And now that Mrs. Wilson had been let go, she would sometimes arrive early for her appointment and tidy the office while Dr. Waxler was in with another patient. Dr. Waxler insisted "Please don't clean the office, you're here for you."

"There were napkins all over the floor in the kitchenette."

"Please leave them be."

"I brought you magazines, they're new. About the movies and famous people. I got them from the drug store."

Ms. McDermott wore shin length skirts, scarves even in warm weather, high boots and pulled her hair back. Most of her clothes were from her Mother's estate. Covered head to toe in old fabric and old jewelery, the clasps were forever breaking and she would spend hours retracing her steps for this lost thing or that. There were little red scratches on her neck from the places where the metal had pulled and worn into finer points.

At the end of every session: "Is that our time already, Dr. Waxler? Oh my, thank you for your time, and again, I'm sorry about ending the world."

Remarking upon the photos in the waiting room, during Mrs. Wilson's tenure: "Are those your children, Mrs. Wilson? Oh. Oh my I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. But I suppose it did have to happen some day."

And on and on. To the man at the corner store. To passers by when locking her bicycle outside of Dr. Waxlers office. Letters of apology to friends and family, to the local news, to government officials, to international heads of state, famous celebrities, prominent scientists and so on. Finely written letters in beautifully attentive handwriting, she dutifully looped each letter onto fine stationary, spending her time alerting everyone to, and apologizing for, the end of the world that she was sure she was responsible for.

Dr. Waxler's first question: "How is it that you're going to end the world, Ms. McDermott?"
"I'm not sure just yet. I think fire is part of it. Wouldn't it have to be, though? I really can't say."

"How do you know that you're responsible?"
"I have dreams. I was in the middle of it, in white. It's all bright white. People were shouting."
"And this is a premonition? This dream, you're at the middle of the end of the world. People are shouting. And it's the future?"
"Yes. I suppose so."
"Do you know when it will be."
"I'll bet it's a Tuesday."
"Why a Tuesday?"
“Tuesdays are awful. Not a lot going on with Tuesday.”
“Do you know which Tuesday?”
"That I don't know. I wish I did, honest. I'm so sorry about all of this Dr. Waxler, you seem like such a nice man."
"Oh that's alright, Ms. McDermott."

Ms. McDermott deflected more personal questions about her past, her family, her personal life. She would bounce things back towards the end of the world, or something nice she'd rather talk about.

"Let's talk about your family for a moment."
"Oh my family is just fine, thank you for asking."
"I'd like to learn more about them, how many brothers and sisters, are your parents still married, that sort of thing."
"Oh that reminds me, I passed a nice wedding on my way here. I wanted to talk about that, they were all outside throwing rice. Do you know why they do that? I've never quite figured that out. I've heard it's bad for the birds though. That the birds eat it and it's poison to them. That's a shame don't you think, for the birds?"

Dr. Waxler was not regarded kindly in town. He was a small man, he walked with a limp from an old car accident. His face was wrinkled where walking made him wince. Drunk driver. It never healed properly, he was too proud for a cane. He would die falling down, he thought. Someday he would just fall down and there'd be no one around to find him and he'd die there. Maybe kicked apart by the kids. Rail thin and white haired around the peak of his bald head, his nose was unfortunately proportioned and the children in his building were afraid of him. Called him Dr. Buzzard.

He was not a kind man. He did not enjoy his profession, it was tedious and dull and it deprived him of time outdoors. Occasionally he would insist on meeting a patient at a coffee shop or a park bench on particularly nice days. Mrs. Wilson's salary was eventually consumed by his constant vacationing. She was expendable, it was not difficult to fill an appointment book and most days he sat in his office and waited for someone to arrive. It didn't matter who. This was a small town, the problems were simple. Overeating. Family counselling. Alcoholism. Mostly he was fed by the small, inferior court system. Petty criminals and morons. It was an easy business. He had a boy come in on Mondays to fill his office with snacks and enough fresh coffee to last the week, and then he would sit and wait to hear the door while he poured over crosswords or detective novels and toe tapped to easy jazz.

Dr. Waxler at least enjoyed his time with Amanda. She was interesting and youthful. Her neurosis was interesting, he'd not heard of this condition before. He recorded all their sessions and planned to write a series of articles regarding the condition. It was a fine layering of Megalomania, depression, repression, self-hatred and delusion. Delightfully interesting and all in such a lovely young woman, just a peach of a lady he thought. A shame, really.

Eventually, in Ms. McDermott's letter writing campaign, she wrote to Judge Harold Feinman. Harold was the Judge Presiding over Bridgewater County.

The letters were brief; uncomplicated but elegant. They were written on very fine stationary with a very fine pen filled with very fine ink. The paper had a watermark, the pen had heft and the ink a pleasant aroma. The World Wide Paper Company's watermark was a globe, the pen was marble, the ink was red. Her writing desk was meticulously organized from left to right, envelopes, paper and stamps. Above the paper, an address book open to that day's recipients. Each of them, with luck, would receive a personalized letter of apology.

For Example:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Leonard,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to send my most sincere apologies for my part in the coming unpleasantness that I'm sure you've heard about by now. Everyone in town seems to know, which is nice. I thought it was best to let everyone know. Doesn't hardly seem like the kind of thing you should keep to yourself. I'm sorry I can't say I know when it will happen, or why, or how. I don't want you to think I'm the type to keep secrets. I've recently done some reading on the subject and boiling seems to be a likely occurrence but I really couldn't say for certain.

I just wanted to let you know, before it's all over, that I quite enjoyed your bakery. Mrs. Leonard, your cinnamon buns have been a weekly indulgence for me, they are truly delightful. I've enjoyed my time in your store and all of your wonderful goodies. Please convey my apologies to your two young sons, unless you feel it's best that they do not know.

Sincerest apologies,

Amanda McDermott.


Judge Feynman received a similar letter. It was a bit more vague. She'd never met the man, but asked that he use his political ties to spread the word about the end of the world. To apologize to as many people as he could. "Tell them I don't want it to happen either" she said "I don't know what I did." Judge Feynman had, of course, heard of this woman. She was a local oddity, but harmless. She even seemed pleasant from all accounts, but crazy as a loon. Mrs. Feynman , however, did not know this woman until she'd received Mrs. McDermott's letter in the mail and it rattled her constitution. Mrs. Feynman was a religious woman, she enjoyed the supernatural, believed in signs, drank tea for it's portents and held hands with the spinsters to summon the spirits. Judge Feynman indulged her in her hobbies, but asked her to keep it out of the local paper, the society section and the like. He'd built a seance room in the northernmost section of the house so she had someplace to enjoy her peculiarities, far away from his study where he'd smoke cigars with local luminaries. The luminaries were sparse, it was a small town, but luminaries loomed larger in small towns. It was easier to be known by everyone, easier to promote your importance.

Mrs. Feynman's startle at the news that the world was ending was an irritant for the Judge. She'd locked herself away in the back room and it turned Miss McDermott from a person of mild irritation to a person of serious interest. He responded to her letter in this way:

Dear Miss McDermott,

I have read, and been disturbed by, your letter. I thank you for calling this to my attention, I would like to request that you visit me in my office on Wednesday 8 AM. I would like very much for you to bring any ideas you have to the meeting so we can set to fixing whatever problems you see.

In Kindest Regard,


Two days later, she rode her bike to Judge Feynman's office.

"Miss McDermott, have a seat". And so they talked.

"You're scaring people, Miss McDermott."
"I'm sorry about that. I'm sorry about everything."
"My wife, she's locked herself in her room, Miss McDermott."
"Well that certainly won't do any good."
"No?" Judge Feinman pinched the bridge of his nose and shut his eyes.
"No, of course not. It's enormous."

"Are you ok, Miss McDermott?"
"Just worried, is all."
"You should speak to a friend of mine, Dr. Waxler. Whenever I'm worried I go an speak with him."
"Mr Waxler, on Park Street?"
"Yes, that's him. I'll call him today and you can go see him tomorrow morning, how does that sound?"
"That sounds nice. I'll save myself a stamp."

They talked for an hour. Judge Feynman decided that she was a nuisance, but harmless. A soft spoken kook. Later, on the golf course, he would tell his cronies that she was a psychopath, a real loony, that he took pity on her and sent her over to that pansy quack Waxler. She was lucky she was pretty, he said, why if she were a man, Judge Feynman would have driven her there himself. She was a little bedraggled, clearly a bit disturbed, but she seemed to genuinely feel sorry about it. Pretty, even. Maybe that quack could set her right. Be a shame to lock her up. His friends agreed, and then said lewd things. And then they laughed and told lewd stories and golfed. Life was back to Plane Jane Normal.

Miss McDermott did not get the impression that this was a mandatory meeting, but was charmed to meet Dr. Waxler just the same.

Judge Feynman had called Dr. Waxler and explained the situation to him over the phone in less careful and polite tones as he did Miss McDermott.

Waxler? Feynman. Look, I'm sending a crazy your way. I don't know, Miss McDermot. Says she's going to end the world. No no, she seems fine, she's nice. Just crazy. I'm going to send her your way, you need to make her stop writing the letters. Nevermind, ask HER about the letters. I can't talk I have to try to get my wife out of the back room. No, no seance this afternoon. What? I don't think -- No -- no you can't see her, you stay out of my business Quackzler and do what I say. Get Miss McDermott to stop with her craziness or I'm sending her upstate. Click.

Upstate was where they kept the loony bin. A big, white, welcoming building surrounded with green grass and treetops. It hardly looked like a prison at all.


Waxler wasn't sure of the threat. He didn't know this woman, he didn't particularly care if she went upstate or not. It was very possible she needed to go upstate, but Feynman had gotten to his position by making threats and it had warped his personality to the extent that he was now threatening people for everything. No matter. Waxler looked forward to the work. Being a therapist in a small, religious town was difficult work. There were stigma's attached to seeing a therapist. People in these parts still thought it was just for crazies. In the first few months, the people seemed to think it was very cosmopolitan, a taste of the big city, a psychiatrist in our own town. But then Mrs. Jenkins saw Mrs. Peach in the waiting room and Mrs. Jenkins told her hairdresser and it spread as these things do. Quickly Mrs. Peach stopped coming by, and then how did Mrs. Jenkins know Mrs. Peach was there? Hm? Interesting. And so Mrs. Jenkins stopped coming by as well. There were more instances and slowly things started crumbling. Waxler hoped this was not a sign of things to come, he didn't want all the town misfits. The rich ladies paid better.


Amanda arrived as she would for the next few years, ten minutes early, enough time to lock her bike to the post out front, come inside, exchange pleasantries with the receptionist and come in and get settled on the sedan. The first meeting was always about establishing trust. Or, establishing the intention to establish trust. Sometimes it would be years before trust. Amanda, though, seemed to trust everyone. It's why she found it so difficult to understand why nobody believed her, but also why she always saw the best in people.

Why don't you have a seat over here, Miss McDermott.
"Oh, thank you." She was chatty from the start. "Judge Feynman sent me over here, he said that we should speak. I guess you are friends?"
"We're acquaintances."
"Did you go to school together, well no I suppose not, he's much too old. But did you know him from town or are your wives friends --"
"Just from the town, you know how it goes."
"Oh sure, everyone seems to know everyone so well here. I think I've met just about everyone. Everyone seems to know everyone, and what they're doing and when somebody new comes to town. It's nice to live in such a nice place, have people looking out for you."
"Yes, I suppose so. I like it here" He didn't, but he was trying to be comforting and easy going. This was years ago. He had more effort then.

She would remain his only regular patient. Feynman would send him more riffraff here and there, She was with him through lean years, when the crime rate dropped and Feynman decided to send the riff raff to the city instead of to his door. “Kill two birds with one stone. Get them fixed but get them out of the neighborhood.”

He thought about writing a book about her. Or trying to get into the journals, at least. Let them buy the idea from him, he could sell his notes, their taped sessions, anything really, and they could write a book and they could make a fortune. The Girl at the End of The World. He always liked that as a title. Sounded like a movie.


There was no discernible progress. But that felt normal to him. he’d never cured anybody and didn’t know anyone who had. Pills help. He gave people lots of pills. That shaved the edges from things, made people more or less this or that, but the second they stopped taking the things, or heaven forbid, became immune to them, they went back to crazy as quick as they’d got to crazy and it all spun out from there.

They didn’t have end of the world pills, so he didn’t quite know how to handle Ms. McDermott. He just kept walking through her life looking for the weak spots in the floorboards. Her mother died young. Her father drank. Basic stuff. She lived with an older woman who fussed and would smack her and was loosely related to the family. She called her Aunt Lucy, but there was no blood between them. Lucy was a friend of her mothers, but probably as much of an Aunt to Amanda as she was a friend to her mother. There was once a “I think they worked in a typing pool...” As near as Dr. Waxler could tell Lucy was churchgoing and hateful.


Amanda continued on with her letters, but after a few sessions, agreed to let Dr. Waxler hold on to them until their sessions were finished. They were almost always on her mind, wondering if they’d be sent out soon. ‘People deserve to know, Dr. Waxler.’ Waxler kept them in a few shoeboxes in his closet.

He’d moved to the office recently. He suddenly realized that paying rent for two spaces was not sensible. There was a full bath at the office and he ate all his meals at the diner. He was not in the habit of entertaining guests. There was also the significant point that his practice was failing, but he chose to focus on the economic benefits of living in one space than the more unfortunate and realistic aspects of his financial situation.


Judge Feinman was up for re - election in the Fall.


Amanda’s spare time was spent touring the neighborhood, and when she could, she would slip a note to someone as she walked by, secretly, like a gangster film, in the palm of her hand. It normally read “End of world soon. Sorry!” but had been trying to follow her doctors advice whenever she could, and tried to keep her terrible secret safe in her head, where it lived all day, where it spent it’s summers, where it snored loudly at night and ruined her attention for all other enjoyments.

She knew her doctor didn’t understand it. She knew that everyone thought she was crazy. It irked her that it was impossible to express how constant the need was to tell people about the fire she could see behind all the windows in town. She could be awful about it, she could tell them about the streets being clogged with bones, about the brigades of insects, about what happens to the children. But she didn’t. She thought it best to not frighten anyone too horribly. What good what it do, anyway? She thought people had a right to know, and more than that, that she should apologize to them, and she hoped that spreading the word would heal her too. If everyone knew, then she didn’t have to carry the burden alone and she could focus on enjoying the remainder of her days. She could maybe meet someone. She could be normal. Do the things that normal people do.

She had a job for a while. Her doctor got her a job at the diner he spent most of his meals at. She was let go.

“Mr. Eggs Benedict. Waffle with Mr. Hashbrowns and Mr “Coffee’s all for me”. If you gentlemen need anything else be sure to let me know, my name is Amanda and I will bring about the end of the world but I’m not sure how. More coffee?”


Waxler spent a lot more time thinking about all those Dr. Buzzard comments than he’d ever admit. He’d recently been thinking about the avian theme running through his life. Quaxler. Buzzard. He was aware of his nose. He could always feel the part of his vision that it obscured. It would distract him sometimes when he was in conversation - when he was supposed to be thinking, he would dream that his nose were a beak and his hands and feet were feathers and claws. He would come back to reality when he realized he was grinding his teeth. He did not often have long conversations.

He closed the door on the small refrigerator in the kitchenette before going to sleep on the couch in his office. He’d been reading the newspaper there earlier, and when he returned with his cup of noodles he realized he’d left it so spread out and scattered on the floor that it obscured the carpet and suddenly it brought tears to his eyes.


There were fliers to print. Feynman for a New Tomorrow! That always seemed to be the most tedious thing. Something always went wrong at the printers. He’s tried six different printers over the last ten years. Something always went wrong and he never learned from his mistake. He kept forgetting that the fliers would be ruined at the last moment. It was a scam. Most things were scams.

Feynman’s wife had predicted that he would win, but that he wouldn’t win. She knitted him a handkerchief with ‘Pyrrhic Victory in 2010’. She came by this fool proof information via a cup of store bought black tea. She’d ripped the bag open to dump the leaves into a cup he’d bought her in Aruba. He was proud of his quip. “I read the tea bag over there in the garbage. It says that you’re garbage.”


Waxler had been reducing his expenditures for some time. He’d not been on vacation in months. He recently realized he could no longer afford to eat at the diner for breakfast lunch and dinner. This was probably for the best as they never really forgave him for Amanda’s stint as a waitress. She’d threatened enough customers, then, after warnings, she started renaming the specials The KaBoom Omelet. The Plague O’ Fries. The Waxler. That last one was nice of her but he did not carry a favorable reputation.

His datebook was left with two appointments - Amanda and a local named Jerry who was depressed and uninteresting. Waxler took notes, but would take to drawing ducks in the margins while he rattled on about how awful his childhood was. Waxler did not enjoy the part of being a therapist that was being an empty vessel for liars to pour their awfulness into. Jerry’s childhood, in Waxlers estimation, was normal and hardly upsetting at all. He had a dull upbringing with
slightly inattentive parents. It is difficult to admonish someone for being unreasonable when you are in the business of making them more reasonable. He would walk Jerry through logic problems to show him that his parents could not be around because they were working to provide him with the education he was so quick to point out. He went to Sierra. He’d referred to himself several times as ‘A Sierra Man’ and still wore his class ring on his fat finger. He was a childish snot and Waxler’s financial situation prevented him from telling Jerry that he was a childish snot, or suggesting that his problems were anything less than titanic in nature, so Waxler lied and said that Jerry’s parents were monsters and that he was lucky to have come through it alive. Because why not? There wasn’t going to be any convincing him otherwise. Waxler’s scruples were in Tahiti, they only vacationed at his office.

After Jerry’s last session, Waxler was falling asleep watching wrestling on television when he realized he hadn’t paid his gas bill. Shortly after, he realized he was unable to pay his gas bill and that it was November. In the morning he would call his friend about publishing his papers on Amanda and thought about how much better his life would be if he was a wrestler, there was more honesty in it. He could be called The Vulture and be a villain on purpose.


Amanda hadn’t been sleeping well. Nightmares. Nightmares were a regular part of her life. But lately they’d shifted away from the Apocalypse and more towards Dr. Waxler. Her nightmares were normally frenetic and horrifying. For the last five days Dr. Waxler had appeared in her room, lit only by the moonlight, sitting at her desk and watching her sleep. She tried to speak to him but she was unable to move, she was frozen solid, leashed to her desk, he sat unmoving and smoke began to curl up from the desk behind him. He would greet her with his customary “Hello Amanda, wont you please have a seat” when orange flickers began to appear over his shoulders she would wake up in a start and search the room for him, gently touch her writing desk to be sure it was still there.

Upon his third appearance, she’d forced herself to stay awake to write her letters. She wrote fifty from Tuesday to Friday. They were hurried and less elegant than she’d like, but she’d wasted too much time:

Dear Bradley Thompson,

I apologize for not reaching you sooner, I have been indisposed. The end of the world is fast approaching, I don’t have any specifics, but it’s coming and it’s my fault. Again, I’m sorry for not reaching you sooner, there seems also to be a conspiracy. Do not speak with Messrs. Waxler or Feynman. They are working against us. Tell anyone who will listen.



Bradley Thompson’s wife is running for Mayor opposite Judge Feynman. It is a small town.


Amanda was late for her appointment. It was unusual. Amanda was still having nightmares about Dr. Waxler. She summoned her courage while she stuffed envelopes with blank sheets of paper. When she arrived, she handed him the decoy envelopes and did a poor job of hiding her discomfort.

“Is everything alright?”
“Everything is great!” This is not a customary response for someone who is anxiously awaiting the end of the world.

The session went poorly Amanda was visibly nervous, fiddling with her hands and sweating. Waxler hadn’t noticed, he was mostly thinking about this next moment. Waxler told her that he’d submitted his papers for peer reviews, that they were going move forward with a full report, maybe a book if they were lucky, but they needed her approval. She nervously nodded and Waxler moved on before she could think twice.

He told her that it was time to move forward with her treatment. They had not made significant progress since she arrived. This was due in part to her complex problem, but also due to Waxlers lack of interest in solving anyone’s problems. She was one of his two remaining patients, the income from her treatment was the only thing keeping him from the gutter. He was an old man and didn’t have any interest in starting over. He did not intentionally damage her psyche, but he was comfortable with discussing the type of pen she used to write her letters for weeks on end. When she’d asked him why he was so curious in the pen he’d said something about her father, and asked her to describe the stamps she used. He’d been walking her in circles for years. Now, if he was going to sell off her story, he’d decided that it was time to move on with her treatment. She might be cured, he doubted it, but at least he would have an ending for his book.

“I’ve decided we’ve been going in circles for too long, Amanda. I think it’s time to try a different approach. With your permission, I’d like to attempt some hypnotherapy in a few weeks. I think it would help us break down some of your walls.”

Amanda, still petrified, agreed heartily and asked if it was ok if she left now. Waxler said it was, and noticed her shaking finally, and assumed she was frightened of delving deeper into her problems, of his sudden conviction and of hypnotherapy. After she’d left, Waxler felt proud and wished he’d done all this sooner. He treated himself to the last of his remaining bourbon and ordered the hypnosis equipment online. He made sure it came with instructions before ordering.


Amanda stood chest deep in wheat. The bulbs gently tapped against her sides. It stretched out and on and on. Gently sloping hills full of wheat and breeze. She began to call out for help but it began to rain fire and she burned until she woke up screaming.


Waxler was bad with the computer. He rarely missed his secretary, but he did now, when he could use the help filling out the forms for They’d rejected his credit card and he had to start over. He was surprised at the cost. It was rejected again and decided that clearing the last of his savings would be worth it in the end. He would probably be asked to go on the Late Night Talk Show Circuit. That was a phrase he’d read in a magazine.

He wiped the condensation from the screen to make sure that he’d filled in his new information correctly pausing only to blow warm air into his cold hands and sent it off to the good people at


Feynman had mostly forgotten about the other two people in this story. He’d become fixated on ruling over a small town. He was going to buy a new hat. He was going to buy a new hat that let people know that he was in charge. If he were closer to the southwest, it’d be a ten gallon affair, but he’d settled on a bowler - something like a gangster in the prohibition. It carried the right sort of edge he’d need against this new lady. She’d probably not wear a hat at all. Rookie mistake. The question now was whether or not to buy leather gloves to menacingly wring when in the out of doors.

These sorts of specifics were keeping him from hearing around town that Ms. McDermott had not only begun writing letters again, but had been writing them with alarming frequency. Since Dr. Waxlers appearance in her nightmares, she’d hardly been sleeping, and when she wasn’t at his appointments, she was writing ever shorter letters to the people in town. She’s reached the end of her list, and started back at the beginning, sending quick updates to those she’d written long in the past:

Dear Ms. Lowell,

Do you remember that letter I sent? If not, read it again. If yes, remember it well. If you don’t remember the letter I’m speaking of entirely: I am ending the world. Sorry.

Increasing Concern,


Judge Feynman’s political enemies had begun collecting the letters from their neighbors. During a town hall meeting months ago - Feynman had addressed a question about Ms. McDermott’s letters - transcribed here:

That kook? She’s harmless. I assure you she is in the capable hands of our Town’s Mental Health Professionals. She is being looked after and cared for. No. She is not dangerous. She’s a tiny little thing. Also, lets remember, I’m the one that put a stop to those letters in the first place. If it wasn’t for me, you’d still be getting the damned things. So lets try to keep things in perspective. So in answer to your question - You’re welcome.

It was about now when the Judge began thinking about getting a hat. He felt he wasn’t carrying the authority he felt he deserved. He also decided that he would not attend any more town meetings and would try not to speak to anyone. He hired some goons to usher him into and out of his car and made aggressive comments to his advisers about the flyers. "That's what the flyers are for." Would have been his campaign slogan if campaign slogans were based on the thing the candidate said the most.


Ms. McDermott was biking to her appointment with Dr. Waxler. The lack of sleep had become persistent. Her face was grey and weak. Her eyes were rimmed red from lack of sleep and stress. She was afraid all the time and reacted to every sound or unexpected motion around her. She realized she’d forgotten her weekly bunch of decoy letters for Dr. Waxler. She made a weak sigh and began to turn around when everything came out from under her. She didn’t any balance left. She fell and shattered the bones in her right arm. She didn’t know their names and didn't feel it mattered when the doctor told her their names. She hadn’t slept and she was missing whole parts of her day and could not remember the last time she’d just felt normal for even a moment and she used to be beautiful she used to be so beautiful and everything just fell out from under her and she broke all the bones in her arm and she didn’t even remember it happening anymore. She just lost all her balance and she didn’t know how to leave the room. They had to get her to leave the hospital but she didn’t know how and she fought it. She fought against them and tried to make them understand what had happened but she couldn’t remember any of it anymore it all fell out from under her and she was young and beautiful and then she lost everything she lost every thing and they knew the names of her bones but didn't know anything about her nobody knew anything about her and she couldn't even remember where she was and she vanished.


They’d called Waxler to let him know where his prized client was. They had to restrain her. She was sedated and restrained. She’d broken her arm. She refused to leave. She’d had a fit. She’d hurt two nurses and a boy who’d come in for stitches. She said she was going to set the building on fire. She was not eligible for visitors, she would not be released to his care, she would be sent to the institution. She would not be hypnotized. She would not be cured. She could not be chronicled as his victory. She would not turn his heat back on. She would be removed to more respectable care. She was another failure in a series of failures.


Feynman nudged his hat forward and did not enjoy this line of questioning. Hadn’t they seen the flyer? He was vaguely aware that he was losing the debate - he was not doing well and would fire his advisers. He did not want to do this anymore. He wanted to have his hand shook and his back clapped. He did not have any interest in being scolded. He did not know she was going to hurt a boy. He was not responsible for the crazy. He menacingly wringed his fingers in the leather gloves he refused to remove despite the debate being indoors. He just confused everybody. He was going to lose.

--- had received an order for 1000 hypnosis packages and had to scramble to fulfill the order amid all the celebration of finally producing a profit for the wild eyed dreamer/Owner/President of who was already getting good at working “I Told You So”s into casual conversation without sounding like a jerk about it. For example:

“Bob? Donny. Do you know where I could buy one thousand stamps? Oh, no reason.”


Waxler assumed, maybe correctly, that he was going to freeze to death. He tried to cancel his order for the SuperHypnosis kit. But the receptionist, Donny, who sounded remarkably like the shipping manager, assured him that the packages were sent today and that no refund would be given, in accordance with’s store policy.

Waxler questioned the use of the plural ‘packages’ and not ‘package’. Donny assured him that the one thousand packages had all been shipped out in a tidy speed. Waxler demanded a refund and Donny got more angry than a good receptionist would. They called each other names until Waxler hung up to call the Judge for legal advice. The Judge was out at a brunch with his advisers. He was holding his fork with his leather gloves, and was just kind of moving his eggs around the plate. He had one last debate today. He was going to lose.


Amanda was going to spend her day being loaded into a truck and then delivered to a hospital like a package. She was comfortable and sad. She listened to some orderlies talk about the weather. The cold. One had a vacation planned. The other had kids. Kids got in the way of vacations, he said. She would never go anywhere. They would never let her go.


The delivery truck, full of 1000 hypnosis kits was speeding around a curve, tipped over, and ruptured on the guard rail just outside of town. Spinning hypnosis disks were thrown all over the highway. The driver was concussed and was unable to move. The police would be called in. Traffic would be backed up for miles. The local news would need to cover it and scrambled their helicopter.


Feynman had a good-faith meet and greet at the hospital. He would take pictures with the boy Ms. McDermott hurt. He would put those on flyers. He would spread them around. He bought the boy a baseball cap from the big city team nearby. They were close enough to care about the little town, to send helicopters to cover their traffic backups. He should have moved there, he told the boy. He said that this town was no place for dreamers. That the boy should run from this place as soon as he was 18 and never look back. Feynman’s advisers ushered him from the room before he was able to scare the boy anymore.


The helicopter pilot dutifully filmed the wreckage for the local news. The police had arrived, but did not seem to be in a hurry to remove the man out of the wreckage. They’d stopped their cars but remained inside. It was cold, he supposed. There would be snow. It would twist in the wind. Swirl. It would keep swirling. The ground would be covered in swirling snow. It was cold, he supposed. It was beautiful, though. It was beautiful. It was beautiful. It was beautiful. It was beautiful. It was swirling.


Reports reached Feynman that a helicopter had crashed in the center of town. It’d hit the gas station. The pilot was gone. Maybe the gas station attendant, Bob, too. The explosion was severe. The fire downtown was substantial. It was working its way towards the school.

Feynman tightened his gloves.


The orderly with the kids had kids that went to the school. The school was going to catch fire. He’d ran out without thinking. Amanda had not been attended to carefully. She decided that it would be best for her to experience the end of the world on her own terms, and not in a hospital or a prison. She walked out the back door when the end of the world started flooding the hospital with victims.


The fire approached Waxlers office from 3rd street. He grabbed his television and then thought better of it. He left through the front door and decided to see if the diner was still open.


Feynman in bowler hat, leather gloves and rolled up sleeves, marched through town with a cigar in his mouth. He directed resources and stood in front of the fire when it approached and yelled for the volunteers to be brave. That there was no surrender under Boss Feynman. They carried him on his shoulders sometimes. It was nice.


The fire had taken half the town. Amanda watched from her apartment while she gathered her things. She thought she heard another helicopter come down but was unsure. She assumed the trains were still running. She assumed the fire would not end. She would head east on the train. She would try to out run it for as long as she could. She was not sure why she never thought to move to the east coast, or maybe to the islands and wait for it there. The winters in this place were bad enough, and now everything was on fire. It was not a nice place to live. Her mother’s apartment was beautiful, comfortable and familiar and it was about to collapse behind her. They would forget about her in the commotion. She decided to let herself be forgotten, she would remain vanished but would have to remember to write Dr. Waxler a thank you letter.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Collecting Turtles

Collecting Turtles

I'm going to snap one day and become one of those people that collects turtle figurines. Not Hummels. I'll laugh at the Hummels people. I'll collect little turtles covered in rhinestones or taffeta or - is taffeta a cooking thing? It's a cloth right? Like maybe if a turtle had a veil. Maybe it'd have a veil made of taffeta. Little sad lady turtle. I'd have a shelf just for little sad lady turtles. Or something. Wait. Not a shelf, display case. Maybe some kind of display case. Even the phrase "Display Case" is full of little shiny turtles. Display case. Sounds nicer, something that implies you need to get in there and see what's going on. Shelf. Shit just sits on shelves. Hummels. Hummels sit on shelves.

I want to become one of those people but then I get depressed because I know I'm not one of those people because if I was going to be one of those people I'd already be one of those people. I'd have to be the guy who snapped. I do not have repetitive interests. I don't obsess. I don’t know how people do that. Obsess. The guy who cracks safes as a hobby - is that a hobby? Safe cracker? Maybe I could crack safes and put the fucking turtles in. Maybe I could have my lady go buy turtles - where is she anyway - what if I send her out to find the little things? Then I could stow them in safes I could stack like Rubik’s blocks and try to solve in order or something - I ever tell you I met a guy named Bob who of all goddamned things solved Rubik’s Cubes for a living? For a living. That's what he did to eat; that's how he put food on the table. One day he was able to sit down and figure out a Rubik’s Cube and then he couldn't help but attach the rest of his life to it - couldn't turn it off - because it's a colorful math problem. Or something. He got all the colors right and boom, this is it, this is who I am, and this is how it goes.

I know a guy who knows a guy who is a professional juggler. Nothing could possibly be more vacant - is that the right word? I'm trying to say that the very job is based upon it being temporary, which is pure madness. Things that you threw are falling. Your job then is to make things fall -- the job is impressive because -- the act. The act is impressive, it's not a job, I don't care how much money that guy makes it's not a job because it can’t be a job. I have a job. Juggling isn't a job. It's an act. It's a skill I guess, but even then I feel like we're getting away from things. We're winding that down to its least important parts. Look, whatever you call it - it exists because it can't exist. It cannot be. Juggling is the act of fighting against what must be. Things fall on the ground when you throw them in the air. That's as if -- it'd be like if you made a living by keeping things on fire. “Look at how much on fire this still is!” I don’t know – it’s just nothing. It's all just nothing, I guess, but this guy, the juggler, he's good at it, he keeps things in the air for a good while and he's got dangerous shit flying everywhere and all the - juggler, you've seen jugglers, I fall into these weird pits where I can't not explain things-- anyway it's stunning. It's stunning but I'm stunned for it being stunning - stunned for him having enough money to buy so much shit to toss around that it requires a van. He's got a van. A robot in Detroit welded together a combustion engine -- which is a wonder of the modern world -- never mind the fucking ROBOT -- I wonder if they have safe cracking robots - anyway - robots put a van together so that a man with a lot of education he's not using can fill it with things he can throw three feet into the air one two three feet in the air and then put them down again – puts them down again! The nerve! "I'll decide when this is over!" The act of putting everything down is a whole separate astonishment. The second the pins are down, something else needs to start flying or the show hits the floor and everybody scatters. But when he does it right - some dummy pays him very real money and he gets to eat very real food in his very real van. Food, water, shelter. Bowling pins, torches, psychopathic commitment. “Good enough. That'll be fine. I'll be fine. Everything will be fine!” He had to quit another job to decide to pack the van. Do you understand? He had to say “Honey, today is the day!” He had to remember to lift with his knees when he was loading his box full of weird, otherwise useless objects into his van and I can't even get out of bed in the morning. Isn’t that something? Depressing, but sure is something.

And it's not like I'm not trying. I am. I'm just not obsessed I guess. I don't have that. I don't obsess. I click on things for a living. Have I explained that to you? That I just click buttons that aren't really there. You can't touch them. There’s not even a name for it. You'd dent your fingertips on the glass if you tried, I never have, but you'd just get a kind of prune hands from pressing into it for hours. Not prune hands. Screen fingers? Sad knuckles? Who knows? I don’t know. Just keep clicking. A lot. All day long. Constantly. Quickly. Fucking job ruined my attention span. Wait. Where would you get safe cracking gear - is that for sale? Is that legal, seems like it should be illegal. Black market, I bet. I bet you could buy it on the black market. I'd have to find the black market safe cracking gear. Is that something I juggle at and then own? Can that juggler just juggle at things - why the middle man? Why not? I'd let him. If I owned a store and was happy I'd let him come in and say "For this sandwich, I present to you these three torches...annnnddd here. We. Go!" and then guess who's got sandwiches? Juggle Joe or whatever his name is. The Amazing Whomever. I wouldn't even mind that he brought torches into the store.

My job manages to be even more nonexistent than one that is fundamentally based on the impossibility of its own existence. I click on things and then they disappear. Sometimes I make Excel Sheets. But mostly it's just clicking. How do you justify that? I can't -- ready? Here, look:

“Hello, I'd like this sandwich. Well, I don’t have any money but I could Excel Sheet at it. Would that be something you'd be interested in? I could click near it? No? But sir, I lugged all this stuff!” No, of course not. I'd be there forever. A juggler would walk over my bones and eat my sandwich. Outclassed! Outclassed in every way. I can't get --- the turtle thing. That's just to sink into. I don't even know what to tell people I do for a living. It’s just clicking. The safe cracking would replace the clicking. Like the men on the beach with the metal finders. Metal finders? Metal detectors. Also - let me be clear - I'm not looking for money - those things don’t even find money. They detect metal. But never mind. Turtles. I'm talking about the tur - Look, it's just about hearing the beeps to make sure that you're still hearing them. Guys who got it figured out, they listen for beeps near the ocean and that’s the very point of existing. It's about being warm near a plentiful food source and using your senses to confirm constantly that you exist.

Or something.

But no beeps for me, that’s nonsense. I will press a black market stethoscope against the steel and listen for the tumblers to finally fall into place and when it opens I will have to shield my eyes from sad little turtles blinding at me from every surface that matters until she shakes me out of it or brings me a lemonade.

Or Something. Anything. Anything that is something.