Some Whole Wheat Words

And Other Up-Lift

Archive for April 2007

Oh, For Christ’s Sake

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I almost succumbed to another “process” entry. That’s not part of the plan. The plan, in fact, forbids it. No more posting of unfinished work, or of scenes with no narrative that go nowhere. This summer is for short stories and for developing a backbone, skills beyond slavishly cataloging items in imaginary rooms and describing the imaginary facial expressions of imaginary people.

I’m in magazine now, and many of my friends, including some who read this blog, have been left behind. What a stupid system. They’re changing it to something that makes sense now, after we’ve already had to deal with moronic, hopeslaying bureaucracy. It’s like high-school– the new cafeteria, the clean locker rooms, the shiny computers, all installed just after you leave.

I’ve got a job in a bookstore, which has turned me into a stationary target for frustrated teenagers who want to talk about Dragonlance. Tolkienesque offal is better than meth. Maybe.

It’s sort of sad, actually. Any “real” writer of serious fiction can get away with a sci-fi novel; look at Oprah’s new darling, Cormac McCarthy. The Road doesn’t strike me as much of an Oprah book, considering that Mr. McCarthy is famous for brutal, nihilistic violence and despair (try saying the phrase “baby tree” to anyone who’s read Blood Meridian), but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that McCarthy can pen a fantastic book set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and win the Pulitzer. Fantasy, on the other hand, gets no love at all. Name a respected writer who wouldn’t be laughed at for attempting a book about dwarves and elves and dragons. Ursula LeGuin doesn’t count.

Dwarves and elves and dragons are as boring as fuck. The variations from book to book within the fantasy scene are very, very minute compared to other genres. Fantasy is like Drum n’ Bass. It’s stagnant. I’m going to write a fantasy story.

It will likely use too many sentences like this, sentences that don’t make immediate grammatical sense, break off into strange cases, use commas too much. There will be some use of the F-Word, and both a boy and girl. I’m sure that there’ll be lots of dialog and people will tell me to write a screenplay and I’ll worry about the path I’ve tried to choose for myself.

All of my writing sounds the same. Stagnant. Clipped, shallow, and uninteresting. The scenes are unconnected to anything, the ends are abrupt and unsatisfying. You’re bored, my readers, I know. I am too. Imagine: I have to live this. It belongs to me. I’d rather it did not.

I worked very, very hard last year to develop a style of my own. This was a resoundingly terrible idea. Looking back, I can see myself experimenting with voices. I know that the bits of writing that I tossed off in twenty minutes back then are fifty times as good as things I labour over to create now. I sacrificed my development to force out lifeless, repetitive, directionless prose stillborn. These are the stagnant days. I hope that something interesting will finally emerge from them. Right now I feel like a bit of a process entry.

Written by wholewheatwords

April 27, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

(Always) On The Bus

with 6 comments

I keep a folder (boringly marked “today”) of all the things that I write on the bus to and from school. It’s smaller than I thought it would be when I started it.

———-

I’m writing from the bus station again, which is pretty close to “like usual.” I’ve decided that I’ll make it a habit, writing about my day, unless this creaking bus throws a camshaft and kills me. For that, there’s my will, freshly written in my backpack. As long as there’s no fire or water or an excessive amount of blood, I think I’ll be good.

Maybe I should get a small copy in plexiglass, just in case.

There’s no “overall” for today; today wasn’t a sweeping sort of day.

I see some ticket stubs, stuck to the ground. A young smoker with heavy sideburns takes a swig of grapefruit juice.

For the first time in my entire life, my seat on the bus fits my legs. I can use the footrest– I guess this is what normal feels like.

I’ve been reading Bukowski.

I am surrounded by the beautiful, busy, and vapid.

We’re taking a detour, this bus and I. We’re passing through the Don Valley Parkway, next to what must be the most beautiful bus station in the world. I remember this from a long, long time ago. I like it. It fits. It was time for a detour.

It is time for a detour.

Now we’re in Yorkdale. I can’t get over the beauty of that station. I’d want to live there, if I were homeless. I could look up, convulsed with nostalgia or delirium tremens, see the triangle lights and the concrete pillars, and wallow in the innocence of the structure. Imagine it being built around me in the era of guiltless cigarettes, enormous moustaches, disco. The era when the city still slept.

The past is often my trope. I put too much faith in it. Things have sucked as much for ever as they have for today. We’re gliding along the highway now.

I’ve passed a lovely street. Here are its contents:
McDonalds
Tim Hortons
The Saddest Holiday Inn In The World™
Assorted Garbage
Church With Neon Cross

You could be born and die there. Some people have been, I’m sure.

I’m on a bit of a kick about seeing the world around me as if I were a child; the things this child sees make me wonder where its parents are.

Now he and I and the bus are all on the Night-time Dandelion Road, which smells of ruptured skunk.

The rest stops and gas stations look frighteningly like toys. We pass a commuter parking lot where my father and I once stopped to sleep; he had said “you can’t go to university on a bus ticket.” I guess I’m proving him wrong.

My infatuations turn to dust. They are becoming increasingly embarrassing. It’ll happen until I find the girl. The spark.

I’m writing this, I realise, to her.

That’s a good idea.

Hello, my love. The countryside is dark.

———-

Caveat: written while drunk.

You asked me earlier why I cried. I know now. I’ve known for a while.

I saw a sweetness and vulnerability that broke my heart. I realised, through you, that I was just another vulnerable shmuck in this often cruel world. I realised that, though you might never reciprocate the feelings I hold or once held for you, we were comrades. Equal in misfortune, two human beings just trying to get by.

Through a haze, I saw my childhood, as I often do. Myself fresh-faced and devoid of self-consciousness, running across the frosted summer mornings of the prairie. I remembered dreams forgotten for a decade, shapes and colours of nostalgia, sounds of significance, scenes from a distant heart.

I wondered where you were, the morning I learned to ride a bike, the days I moved to Ontario in the back of an old Jeep. I imagined you moving through a whirlwind of your own creation: the chemical smell of watermelon lip gloss, lessons learned from watching older girls. The taste of tears, the feel of pressing a hand against a hot car on a summer day hidden from expectation and parents. Lemonade, dirt roads in unexpected places, freedom and the blinding glint of glass caught in the sun. All the things you’ve seen. All the personal history.

I remember when school was far away, across a field. Books and songs, couch forts, the toys in my backyard, picking chives for supper in the cool of evening. The flowers and the time I used to spend smelling them.

Where were you when I tended the single rose in my garden? What dreams of concrete or secret fences and forbidden backyards awaited you as I made my first steps across the bridge, out of the river valley, into the conservatory? As I marveled at bones millions of years old, where were you? What did you see, and feel, and learn?

I wish I knew the past of others. Creating characters, tending their pasts, fabricating their loves, imagining their lives, cannot compare. The smallest things are revelations, confidences I am honoured to share.

As I built my mind in the libraries of 1974, as I smelled poplar on the summer wind, as I created and destroyed and lived and breathed, I know you did the same. You, too, created yourself, with ghosts and report cards and photographs.

———-

I had seen flashes of it in the peripheral vision of my mind.

At first, I couldn’t find my friends. They disappeared. They didn’t exist. That’s how it started.

I don’t know how long ago that was. It’s hard to tell.

Hot outside today. The white concrete walls of the corpse city bleed moisture. Afternoon sunlight comes in slices through the blinds. It’s very, very quiet here.

When I arrived, when I started living in this building, there were other tenants. I don’t know how many– I never saw them. I heard their footsteps as they clacked across the scuffed tile in the hall outside my door, or smelled cigarette smoke as it crept in through holes in the caulking around the windows. By the time that I rushed into the hall or to the window to see them, they’d be gone.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I’d wake up and it’d be bright outside, the sun high in the sky. I’d hear snatches of muted conversation. I’d want to stay awake, to look outside, but when the thought entered my mind, I’d become aware of a buzzing noise. Then I’d fall asleep.

———-

I think my bus driver is going crazy. He’s dancing around in his seat, throwing his arms out like a member of a rapper’s entourage. People are asking him to stop it and concentrate on his driving.

I think he’s also singing.

———-

The morning was ensconced in a metal tube which juddered and shook as it crawled across the half-melted land. He passed into the sickness of the city under a layer of low clouds quick with smog and the back of his throat tasted of aluminum and gasoline.

———-

I’d never been more tired than I was then.

“Just a little further,” it said. I’m going to call it Cabbage Roll. That’s what it reminded me of. I didn’t have the energy to reply.

The rough asphalt tore at my socks and the rain fell equally on all things.

Cabbage Roll adjusted its scarf, working out a knot that it had made through nervous fiddling. It padded across the parking lot on tiny feet, always a few steps ahead.

“You’re a good person,” it said, bobbing its head emphatically. “I’m glad it was you and not somebody else.” It looked back over its shoulder, brushing a few wet leaves out of its face. I limped onward.

The streetlights reflected dimly upon the windows of the bus station. Nothing stirred. I pushed the door open, entered cautiously.

“You know this place, right?” asked Cabbage Roll.

“I’ve… passed it.” Don’t faint.

“You know what it’s called? What we call it, I mean?” There was special emphasis on the word “we.” I was not part of “we.” Cabbage Roll unslung the yellow plastic No Frills bag from its shoulder, took out a cucumber slice, examined it.

“No.” Don’t faint.

“A Garden of Nobody,” it said, and popped the cucumber slice into its beak.

“Oh.”

Cabbage Roll started to explore the station, mincing around quickly, examining the trashcans and newspapers and ticket stubs. Every few seconds it would stop and press down on the tiles with a foot, testing something. My legs gave in a fluid motion, and I lowered myself to my hands and knees.

“Sorry about this,” it said. “Has to be done.”

“S’fine.” Don’t faint.

“I wish we could solve this ourselves,” it said. It kicked at the litter, clearing a small circle around us. “But I don’t think that’s possible now.”

“Sorry.”

“Oh, no! It’s not your fault. At least, not directly,” it said, kicking tabloids. Finally, the circle seemed to be satisfactory. “Okay. I have to go.”

“Huh?”

“Garden of Nobody,” it said, nervously, adjusted its scarf again. “Nobody around but you, right?”

“Oh.”

Cabbage Roll reached into the plastic bag and pulled out a knife in a brown leather sheath. It placed the knife on the ground, between my hands.

“Okay, this part is important,” said Cabbage Roll, and swallowed hard. “Anyone says they work for the Hotel and that they’d like to talk to you about a job, you take this and fucking stab them in the eyes. I’m not kidding. I don’t care what they look like. Just do it. Then run. Please.”

It looked around the abandoned bus station nervously.

“See you soon. Good luck,” it said, then saluted. It struggled with the door behind me, and left. The bus station was quiet.

I fainted.

———-

And that’s that.

Written by wholewheatwords

April 2, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Posted in prose

Ed Banger

with 8 comments

I think I inhaled about a quart of chemical fog from the Justice laser show last night. My spine has been compressed by what feels like several inches, and the bottoms of my feet feel pounded flat. My neck hurts from headbanging. My ears rang for hours afterwards.

In other words, mission complete. The mashup of “We Are Your Friends” and Paul Simon’s “Call Me Al” was hilarious gold. The crowd was respectful but not friendly, and uninterested in dancing with me. Their loss. I took out my slight frustration on their insteps and heels, inadvertently.

I ran out of energy around 2 AM. I need to get back to the gym. Beautifully dressed hipsters made me feel fat and uncomfortable.

The people I was looking forward to meeting, other Electro nerds with two left feet, never materialised. It’s quite possible that they don’t exist. My loss, this time. Outside, I bummed a single cigarette off of a hipster, lit it with matches in two tries, and smoked it clumsily. The headrush sucked the warmth from my extremities and left me shivering and sick to my stomach, soaked in sweat on a cold concrete stoop at a quarter to three.

I finished off the other half of my wine when we got back to the house and then stayed up until five on a strange couch, looking at the ceiling. I didn’t find anything, but I came to some conclusions. All of which I’ve now forgotten.

Written by wholewheatwords

April 1, 2007 at 12:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized