Monthly Archives: June 2004

a loser wallows

note: this is the first of a series of summer shorts – fictitious stories that aren’t very well thought out and not too good


So I’m sitting here on the toilet. I didn’t feel like bringing a book with me this time. I just want to think about a few things – well, one thing in particular. Hold on. Let me get this piece out of the way.

Okay, so I’m a bit confused. Am I that insignificant? Today I saw her for the first time in two weeks. It was indoors – we were both checking mail at the student center. She said hi and asked what was up so so nonchalantly. Listen – my understanding is that when two people hang out often – let’s say at least four to five times a week, for about three weeks – there should be enough of a connection between the two so that when there is a two-week, unannounced hiatus, with absolutely no conversation, something MUST seem amiss, no? I mean, how many movies, outdoor walks, shared meals, late-night conversations, and bookstore visits must you have before the other person realizes that you have become – maybe not indispensible – but at least somewhat noticeable. Damn.

That’s why I told her I was doing fine, and asked her the same thing. She said she was doing well. Then she had the audacity to ask what I had been up to. Wow. Remember when we’d talk on the phone and make plans? Remember when we used to show up at each others’ dorm room doors and eagerly share the unusual moments of the day? I think I told you once about the black dude at the corner of 50th and Broadway who gives out those free AM newspapers each morning and tells me “enjoy your coffee” every time I walk by with a Starbucks in my hand. Man, it takes effort to share such details in life — did you ever miss it in the past two weeks? And you tell me you’ve been “hanging out with friends”; “going to the park”; “visiting musuems”; “even went to a Yankees game.”

Okay. Okay. Okay.

So I purposely stopped talking to you and stopped asking if you wanted to hang out. But I just wanted to see if you’d come to me and ask. You know – it was just one of those small tests. Well, I just had to know – if I didn’t always put in the first call, would you have done it instead? Every day sucked. I sat in my room. I downloaded bootleg movies and watched alone. I re-read the same websites. I masturbated. I got more sleep than usual. I walked by your residence hall and looked at where I thought your window was. I had an Instant Message box open with your screen name written in it, but never typed a single stroke – only stared at the buddy list to see how long you’d stay online. I know. I was just a friend. But I got jealous and then I convinced myself that I liked you.

Well, it was foolish of me to tell her. Hold on, let me wipe.

I like the water lukewarm because it lets me wash longer.

So at the student center. I asked her — you’re still single, right?

Of course, why wouldn’t I be, she tells me, as if I was supposed to have kept tabs on her life the past two weeks (well, she was right – I had).

The question was just to set the course for what was to follow.

What I wanted to tell you, I begin to say – already wavering in voice, confidence being let out like steam from a rice-cooker, I really missed you the past two weeks, and I know this may come as a surprise, but I really like you.

Oh, she is surprised. She avoids eye contact. I try to think of something to say. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to put you in an awkward spot, I tell her, but be honest, am I way in over my head? It is the first time I use that expression and I wonder if I used it right or if she at least knows what I am trying to say.

Hey Mike, I’m sorry – you’ve been really nice to me, but I don’t think of you like that. I like you as a friend.. yada yada yada.. yeah bitch I know the rest, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard such words, in that order, before; I just thought it’d be different after three weeks of showing me that I was tolerable and even amusing at times. Fuck, I hate it when they run out of soap in here; hope my hands aren’t too dirty. So I put on a fake smile, and said that was cool and apologized again for the awkwardness, but that we should maybe grab dinner sometime soon. Of course she thinks that is “a good idea” but somehow we both seem to know we’ll never ever hang out again. She tells me she has to run and walks away, a momentary contact with the eyes before she quickly turns away and leaves. She was probably headed for the gym or to the park. She has a thin figure. For two weeks a forgotten man, and a chance meeting takes place only to help me to realize that she has never given two shits about me. Talk about feeling like a nobody — well, she had a decent face, but her body – let’s say tabletop on both sides, like most East Asian honeys do – definitely could have been better. I like to use the paper towel to dry my hands and then to turn the door knob so I don’t get the germs of the people who took dumps in here before me and forgot to wash their hands before they opened the door. I like to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror before I head out but not today. I should’ve played it cool and not told her. Maybe I failed a test or something – HER test. Or maybe those three weeks, while ego-boosters for myself, was community service, a charitable sacrifice, on her part. Fuck it. Time to mine the singles sites.



learning to glean

while reading the foreward by tom wolfe for his 80s new york novel, the bonfire of the vanities, i came across an interesting point that he was trying to make: that the task of writing fiction, namely in the novel form, requires a great deal of reporting, and that recording things can furnish a writer with materials to use. wolfe suggests that “literay genius” was is made up of “65 percent material and 35 percent the talent in the sacred crucible.”

material, material, material — what is it? my understanding of the word, at this point, would most likely include:
>> personal experiences – the people you’ve met, the places you’ve been, the things you’ve noticed
>> the things you know – the product of our education, the things we absorb intentionally i.e. films, television shows, pop songs, etc.
>> Imagination – the result of subconscious creative forces that somehow synthesize the two things above and create something that, in our unreflective, conscious minds, seem totally fresh and new

i guess if “material” can be broken down to the things i have mentioned (or anything like it), then this pursuit of material entails tailoring a lifestyle that will maximize the collection and retention of such material. perhaps that is why journalists are often ready-equipped to become writers because of their various world experiences, their tendency to jot these experiences down, and a way with words. for a cubicle-bound schmo such as myself, i think the accumulation of material will require more self-initiative. that may mean re-examining the everyday walks in the city to find details worthy of writing, reading sensational stories in the daily news and taking note of how it affects the way i view the world, or traveling around the world and keeping a perceptive mind rather than going into shutdown-tourist mode. it’s been truly foolish of me to think that i can just sit in my room and just make things up as i go along. i guess some people with great literary talent can take such an approach, but from personal experience, i have seen my limitations.

i guess what i’m trying to determine is how important it is to record the things in my life, and if it is importnat, to what lengths i should go to in order to maximize life so that experiences are fresh, interesting, and even eventful. tom wolfe noted that we now live in a world where there is no such thing as reality and what exists in its place is absurdity. of course, we often feel that life is just a string of predictable events that ultimately produce pre-packaged results — but maybe he has a point. maybe if every waking moment in my life can be useful material for a writing project, then every moment alive is worth living. is it a forced attempt to make life more interesting for myself? a therapeutic measure perhaps? well, as long as i can buy into it, i can’t see where it may hurt. the material hunt begins. i guess i ought to wish really hard for that 35 percent talent.

[6.27.04] books.films

the past week has been a feeding frenzy in terms of the volume of things i have had to absorb. sometimes i wonder if too much new material can have counterproductive effects. hopefully, by listing the film and book titles, i will, at least in a superficial sense, be able to reflect on how the new material made me feel at the time i absorbed it and if it still has any relevance at the present moment. i did take a liking to kurt vonnegut jr.’s “science fiction” writing with my first taste of his works in breakfast of champions and cat’s cradle. i loved the character of kilgore trout – the science fiction writer who “knew nothing about science” – portrayed as lonely, sad, pathetic, but to his credit, suspicious that he may be just a character invented for the sake of a story — i couldn’t help being amused by such an ironic consciousness and the fun it pokes at writing, the reader, and the story. in like fashion, the bokonon religion was another vonnegut invention that i couldn’t stop thinking about – a religion which, straight up, admits that it is a “pack of lies” but only proceeds to build up a theological belief and a following – another ironic twist and perhaps a nudge at existing religious institutions as well. also, in keeping with the spirit of conservative-hating, i’ve watched Hunting of a President (a documentary on how right-wing conspirators ruined Clinton’s presidency) and Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore’s box-office hit documentary) in the same week. considering that Gore did have more popular votes in 2000, i hope people keep their heads straight and get bush out of office, but at the same time, four more years of bush would guarantee a sequel documentary from Moore, no? also, i am happy for Clinton these days as he tours around with his newly released book, banking on millions of copies sold and getting positive press – truly an elvis for the political arena.

but not to bore anyone with what i thought of every single thing i read or watched, here are the latest additions:

breakfast of champions by kurt vonnegut, cat’s cradle by kurt vonnegut
currently reading: the bonfire of the vanities by tom wolfe

dodgeball, the hunting of a president, running on karma, fahrenheit 9/11, bad santa, spartan