The judge of all Earth

“When I first met you I thought you simply weren’t aware of what you could do,” says Bryce’s friend Giancarlo, very matter-of-factly from across the table, the usual untapped potential-slash-diamond in the raw chatter. “Then I started paying attention in you and came to the conclusion you willingly downplay it.”

I don’t want to tell him he’s wrong and I don’t want to tell him he’s right but above all I do want to tell him— but can’t— of what happens when things are not held back and ripple outwards, unrestrained, over other people’s lives. I do want to tell him— but can’t— of Cybill, of the apple, of the aggravating consequences, stringencies— I want, almost need to explain to Giancarlo all the gory details and point out the exact moment in time in which you realize you’re playing in a fixed game out of which will only come no prizes but only pain and regret.

But I also want to tell Giancarlo that my skin is burning searing-white-hot and she’s scorching in her own sheets at night herself despite her arrangements and that there’s no guilt involved when something feels so right: But also that if a given line in the sand is crossed and a genie pops out of the bottle then buddy, there is no going back to the old buddy system, come tomorrow, come next week, come what might.

Flesh, my friend? Flesh is a mean, mean mistress.
Know that much.


Faye's coda (a haiku)

He's stuck in traffic
seeing redlights dance in the rain
-- Elsewhere Faye smiles.


On creative writing using ESOL

(I'm breaking character for this one, OK?)

Giving names to my characters was probably the biggest breakthrough on my writing so far. At least that’s the impression that I get— that I can cut loose, looser, no longer hampered by calling someone “F.” or “F____” or a bunch of silly Xs— for instance, that girl who went up to Canada? The one from the nightclub, whose upper lip curls up at midsection like a cat’s whenever she smiles? That’s Faye. Totally different person than Franny.
Franny’s a former girlfriend whom the protagonist-slash-narrator is not entirely comfortable with the idea of recalling to life, so she doesn’t get mentioned very often. And Faye’s a hell lot cuter than Franny, to boot.

When I was in High School I would read this comic book… The Flash, you know, guy in red? Runs fast? Sports as a logo that same jagged lightning bolt you used to give me such much hell about when we were in College?— Okay, granted, I still read those this day & age, but some fifteen, twenty years back either the writer or the editor of said magazine had a recurring joke for whenever he couldn’t mention a particular name or brand:
Whenever the writer needed to call in a brand of fast cars or motorcycles into the plot, he would call them Romanaclef. Like, a motorbike was a Romanaclef 5000 — Get it? It was a pun on Roman à clef, which was exactly what he was doing.
God I used to think it was the smartest joke I’d ever seen. Still find it pretty clever, though.

Given my utter lack of a plot and my inexhaustible lack of capacity of actually coming up with one, being able to call a character by his, her own name is a major headway into giving an iota of meaning to the bunch of words I end up laying down on paper. And it also accounts for my lack of structure, too: I don’t have to map out comprehensive character bios for each of them— just let the characters speak those bios for themselves as we go— take Dennis for instance: Dennis orders the drinks. Dennis knows the coolest bars, the fanciest restaurants, the trendiest clubs. I’ve compared him to the Dean Moriarty to my Sal Paradise on occasion. He gets mentioned a lot. — Now sweet little TJ on the other hand. I think that kid must have been mentioned only once or twice: She’s the former girlfriend who dumped the protagonist-slash-narrator one Christmas Eve a few years back. Amazing in bed too, she was. I mean, if you ask the protagonist. I think he still has the scars somewhere…

Of course if you’re actually paying any attention to this I might be contradicting myself here, just a tiny little bit: Why in god’s name would one ever need to map out a character in a roman à clef is an entirely different story.
But I’ll so kindly ask you to overlook that part.

Now the next step: Naming places in ESOL.
What should I do about names of cities, streets, neighborhoods?
São Paulo has been São Paulo for years here, but what happens when I get to say, Santo André? Santos? I’d been using the same silly Xs or blank spaces for a while but then it started to truncate the text more than I could bear so I ditched mentioning places altogether— but sometimes places are as important to the development of a character than a note on his or her past actions.
So should I find suitable American-based stand-ins? Should I start calling Santo André, Trenton, New Jersey? God what do I know of Trenton… see, there’s a problem right there. Plus that would make official the country switching, as if the language or the character names aren’t enough— and São Paulo’s already such an integral part of the narrative by this time. I’m not sure I want to go and change that— at least not right now and not with this format.
Food for thought there. But I’ll let it flow, ride it along, let the answer find itself.
Let’s see what gives with that one.

Still, major headway has been made.
I can’t tell you how comfortable I feel right now in writing these posts. How much I have been thoroughly enjoying them. Especially now that naming my characters has allowed me to tether one post to the other and despite the lack of a plot, it still conveys a somewhat cohesive sense of continuity— which ultimately I think it is what life’s all about, right?



“Just relax,” she says to me and we start from there only we don’t: From where I’m standing it just seems so easy for her to say it but then she makes another comment, throws some offhand truth to the wind and it’s clear she’s got her own demons too— we all do.
We all do and some nights those demons, those dybbuks, djinns, the screwups, they feast on hungrier and the fireflies twinkling in our eyes go on brief, tentative dates with razorblades yet the pen remains mightier than the sword.

Swords, spades, ploughshares, pens: All different strokes of the same keyboard, some faint plastic clanking ringing through the late hours, remembering the past, creating tomorrow, weaving shadows and candyglazing what needs a little color: I turn my head to subjects outside.
Fact: I make for a lousy main character and I’d rather write instead of everyone else gravitating by me in their own orbits around their own suns. I’d rather be a comet myself, a falling star shooting in, out and through everyone’s life just a little bit, for a little while— see, listen, learn, fact-check, then off to Pluto or Mars, saturnine.

And boy there are copious notes in the back of my head— written down across the years as life gets in the way and everybody dies just a little death every day of their lives—

There’s Jimmy, age 18, about to throw up in the back of my father’s car as we’re parked at some gas station somewhere in our hometown the Summer before we all leave for good, while on the front seat I’m sliding my hands underneath his friend’s blouse as Eric Clapton plays on the radio—

There’s yourself a few years later, telling me you learned how to eat with chopsticks from your father and it’s the only time you’ll ever mention him to me—

There’s Franny not being there the only time I ever really needed someone because it’d gotten so dark and confusing—

—And I’m taking it all in, memory babe, Johnny Mnemonic— Taking notes as the years get shed off like dead skinflakes peeled away one by one, snakelike, a little contrived but that’s okay—

Cybill’s grandfather on TV at an ad for some supermarket. Monika teaching me how to do push-ups Kung-Fu-style with my knuckles. Johnny getting pissed off at a prank that gets a little out of hand. The endless phone conversations with Paul, a poor substitute for actually being there. College with Luke and the time he befriended a filthy stray dog and named it Dust Mite.The hundreds of times Dennis got to order the drinks without looking at the prices on the menu. The handful of times Kristen shied away while making love. The one time Faye turned her face when I tried to kiss her at a nightclub then went up to Canada and got married.