Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

stolen moments from margaret mitchell's house

Hit by a car in Atlanta, ending her life, author of Gone With The Wind died young. Her apartment remains intact downtown, a memorial to her life of letters. I only managed to steal these photographs, and I wonder how strange it is to stare into a person's cookbook and kitchen. How strange to see things left, supposedly as they were in life. If she was a writer like I am a writer, her kitchen would have a pile of dishes only tackled a couple times a week. Food would be piled everywhere, waiting to be eaten. When I am working, and I am generally always working, I do not want to play games with ingredients. 

I can't imagine her putting her novel down, preparing an elegant dish requiring "Arrowroot Sauce" for her husband, then cleaning the kitchen top to bottom, and scrubbing the pots and mopping the floor.

This is not Margaret Mitchell's house. This is just a dream of what a famous author's life should be. Like all the silly kitsch of the fifties--the perfect dad with his perfect pipe and ascot, leaving everything to Beaver--the past must have been more real than this. Her busted ankle aching like devil's fire in the sweltering summer heat, and she was typing away on the heavy metal keys. Need the windows open when it's so hot, but the breeze could ruin everything--unsort 800 pages of life and death. And hot, hotter than any of us can imagine for days unending when all anyone had were little electric fans, cool drinks, and patience against the summer, and her ankle broken in a big, heavy cast making things worse, itching like crazy. The madness of the south, and the heat: that's Scarlett O'Hara's voice, Rhett Butler's calm facade against the madness and the heat. Keep the windows closed against the disorderly work of wind upon the pages, and let it all be gone, gone, and gone.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

extra halloween

september has an absence of great holidays. august, too. we haven't had a decent holiday since july 4th here in the states! that's too long. we need an extra holiday. talk like a pirate day is a great start, but i think it could bleed over into an extra pirate-themed halloween. it's a great holiday. we get to wear costumes, and raid the neighborhood houses for nautical booty: gold chocolate coins and jolly ranchers in the shape of various gems and jewels.

imagine the parties! rum! swordfights! pickpocketing! water-balloon cannons!

we could call it Buccaneer-oween.

all in favor of extra halloween, say "ARGH!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Autumn Come

Down here in Georgia, I thought it would never come. Every day I wondered how hot it would be this time. Wasn't minding it so much because the peaches were still coming in fresh and golden. Sun handed us peaches with one hand, ripe and sweet like biting into a ball of soft honey. With the other hand, it jammed it's fingers into the gears of AC units and despotically demanding libations poured in his name. Loyal grasses bent and broke with their bending. Trees flush with light rushed to store up all that heat until their time in the sun would change. A___ and me were talking logn and hard about how things would change so fast we wouldn't even know it. Soon, the work would come in, the contracts owed would wind their way to my door, and all the sewing done in the heat would come time for reaping.

Change came. A storm blew through in the night. I got laid down by it, deep in my bones, clearing out all the old heat in the deep bones. Had to sweat 'em out. By the time I came to, A____ had a new job in the city, and I had new contracts coming down my way, and everything, everything, everything had changed.

The cold wind came, not biting, yet, just chewing at us a little -- tasting us before the cold days come. The wind and rains came to overthrow the sun. This coup may not last, but it's here at last. We pull out our rain coats, think of pumpkin pies and warm tea by the fireside.

This new paradise, this new dominion of the rains, we celebrate it here.

This morning I inspected my last peach. It had caught the damp rot like I had. It never recovered. I dropped the rotten fruit into the trash and that was that.

Like all good despots, Autumn will wear out his welcome soon enough. For now, we throw damp ticker tape parades in the streets, where the trees throw their leaves down, and cover our heads with umbrellas and hoods. Do not walk bareheaded in the presence of our new king, Autumn Come.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Miserable weather means miserable connection. Busy on a big thing for the day job, anyway. Camped out near the restro most of the day drinking tea. Whatever hit me, I think it has passed over me, like a divine infection demanding rest. I didn't realize how stressed I was until I had to stop and hold still a while somewhere so blissfully quiet I could have died for joy. I'm glad I'm pushing to the end of grad school with just 3 more packets, a thesis and a presentation -- with, of course all the minutiae paperwork and required forms, of course, all blessedly minor in comparison. A few more books to read. Two more trips to Maine.

I had to get a whiteboard to stay on top of the blurry walls between my writing and my MFA, so I don't fall into decay with my game writing day job. Wanna see? Maybe tomorrow, when my spotty connection allows photographs. It's placed near the kitchen and evolves as needs require it. If I find a perfect setup I'll let you know:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I have decided that digs and horses are people. They have been genetically engineered to merge their cultures into ours. Without us they barely function, running around in packs trying to recreate the sense of family they get from families, but lacking in the natural ability to inject themselves with booster shots and healthier food. without them, people are a little incomplete: legs too short and no strong sense of territory, vigilance, and walking the ground we live upon; riding that ground and plowing it and clearing trails for ourselves without the aid of machinery. Horses and dogs are people.

I have neither. I have propped myself up with locked doors, treadmills, automobiles, and soulless things that would never bite me or kick me or buck me if I didn't treat them with the same care and consideration I'd give to a brother.

The delineation between human and non-human is artificial, anyway. I set the line where I see fit. I redefine it after careful consideration and a sense of history.

I live alone in a one bedroom apartment. I dint even have a cat.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Be interesting

The only rule of art and literature and cocktail parties is this: be interesting. Not much different than a cocktail party, writing. Relaxing in some stranger's living room telling a story that has the room eavesdropping. Art in a corner in a fashionable dress that is maybe a little revealing, and music slinging drinks while improvving on the baby grand.

Baby, just be interesting. Be interesting in any form listed in the submissions guidelines.

Make a magazine for cocktail parties. It is laid out on tables before the grand event, and everyone can read them while drinking, and stare at the art. Really good musical pieces are there for anyone with a guitar habit or piano lessons behind them. You can read the stories to each other if you want. People need our help to be interesting sometimes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

scenes from a dream i had

she didn't want her husband to be taken away from her. she broke free from the crowd that tried to hold her back. she jumped onto the back of the train. she called behind her that she was to be left alone for three days, then they could bury her. she slipped into the first carriage and rushed through, searching for him. he wasn't there.

the train arrived in erosion. it melted as it landed, and all the pieces of the train were pulled away by the scavenging men and women among the strip mines. She lost most of her clothes. She had to wrap a cloth she found around her body like a toga. It was probably for the best, because she was quick to find herself among the centurions of rome, constantly training for the war that sent them there. she called out her husband's name, and pushed beyond, where the endless hungry dead pile in makeshift tents and caves along the hills. three days, she had said, and once here, she knew it would take a thousand lifetimes just to find one man...

i closed the book, in the dream, determined to check it out of the library. it was by someone named andrew g____ from the sixties, and i knew it would be grotesque and beautiful. the librarian frowned at my selection. he told me i should get something good. he couldn't allow me to check out this garbage book. we shouted at each other. a crowd formed. eventually, i won the argument. not before he looked up at me with a mad gleam in his eye, like he had already won, and i was a fool for challenging him in this.

the alarm buzzed beside the bed. i woke up before i could take the book from his hands. the dream melted like wet paper, and i can only barely remember the story, the author's name.

andrew goldau? andrew gollancz? andrew geldaur? what was that man's name? he was writing in the sixties, and he's mostly forgotten now. his books are rare, and difficult, and strange.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"The Lady or the Tiger" is up at Escape Pod

I haven't listened to it, yet, because I am at work.

I have full confidence they did an excellent job. I am very pleased to be part of this fine podcast!

fog of war

there are things i know and things i don't. i move my units of troops across the game map, and the lights reveal everything that can be seen and known. these units of mine are crack troops. they do not fire upon anyone who is a friendly, stumbling out from cover unexpectedly. their guns never jam. i can sit down with a spreadsheet and measure exactly how many will die in an encounter with different numbers of my enemies. i know exactly how much they will eat, and how much they will hurt across the map if i push them too hard.

there's a fog of war across the map. i do not know what my enemy knows. i do not know what i do not know.

when i am not driving them forward they must be cleaning their guns. they must never talk to each other because they know that in the next assault the numbers of things will mean that some of them will die.

they move in silence, like ants.

i haven't played starcraft 2, yet. i think maybe i'm thinking too hard about the story of things, in the fog between what would be real and where the pleasure is supposed to be found.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

creating an elaborate daisy chain

I'm creating this elaborate daisy chain wherein things export from here outward into other things, including livejournal, facebook, the official (temporary) website.

If any spot on the chain is broken, it will be like christmas tree lights shorting out and taking all the chain with them.

This does not make me feel good about technology. Especially considering the reason it's gotten so elaborate is that some sites work better with others. Livejournal works better with WordPress, for instance, and WordPress works better with Facebook, but Blogger only works with livejournal, and i haven't even gotten started attempting something like a Xanga or a MySpace...!

The god of the forest walks Manhatten at night. The roaches turn their antennae to the sound of the wind. The streetlamps flicker. Fireflies take over. The cats--no dogs,they're practically people--with their slow obsequiousness deign to stretch like bowing. Possums sing like birds. Birds sing like birds. Flies and lesser vermin turn their heads. Mice poke out from mouseholes to pay homage. Owls spread their wings. Coming up Broadway like owns the place--he does--the forest god struts in his tumescent glory, glowing black against the twilight sky, naked and tall, with a deer's face, so serene.

The people and the dogs think he's just another homeless guy, avert eyes, and think they live in an urban space: artificial and impossible for forests.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

pictures of you

you know how hard it is to photograph a dog, a cat, and a small child? that is what pictures of you look like.

the camera flattens you out, and loses your shape in the blurry edge of energy you have from the microscopic machines that hold your face together. the aqueous glow of the algae in your lips, photosynthesizing and photosynthesizing becomes a blur of smudged green like molded lipstick. the eyes are always red - blame the cameras in the iris.

hold still, goddamnit! can you just hold still long enough for one stinking picture! stop the sea anemones in your hair from grabbing floating fluff long enough to get one stinking picture.

i'll soften the lens as much as i can, but it won't do anything about the pudge in your cheekbones where you store the implants.

stupid post-humans. they never look good in digital, even when they throw their whole self into digital.

Monday, September 20, 2010

man behind me is sleeping

we're getting coffee and chai at a neighborhood cafe before trundling off to work. there was a man asleep behind mirror shades - business suit, nice tie - in one of the comfortable chairs. i sat in front of him, my back to him. she sips her chai and nibbles food. she stares at the back of my computer screen while eating, because she is waiting for me to finish edits on a book -- the purpose of coming here was the wifi where i could review the final changes e-mailed to me -- but there's this man behind me, sleeping behind mirror shades. he hasn't moved a muscle all night. i saw him here before, in the same chair. i saw him two days ago, at midday, when i rolled in for a fix while working on a book. he never leaves.

rumpelstiltskin is his name. he fell asleep before this place was a cafe. back then, it was a forest in a small, country town. he's hidden by the magic that keeps him here. he sleeps and sleeps, while the ground shifts beneath him.

by the time he wakes up, all the cafe and the suburban sprawl will be a dream of chatter. we're here for him, to talk where he can hear, and live our lives. we populate his dreams with this cafe, where the staff hasn't changed since i moved into this town.

all the city is his dream, i think. he'll wake up in a few more decades when the bubble breaks and it all falls into decline: forests taking back the streets, and rivers running where the streets are hot black tar. Everything will crumble in his dream.

i'm moving in two months; i won't be back. maybe a few million days from now, if she --god forbid--leaves me, i'll go on a pilgrimage through the places where people knew us by name. i'll find the man who is currently sitting behind me. he'll be shrouded in his own beard, sleeping on a stump.

i'll order coffee from the squirrels who remember my drink -- americano, room for cream; apple fritter -- and leave a note for the man for when he wakes up.

"there were people here, sharing this place with you. they were happy."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On Hell

A place without the light of God means nothing to someone who does not feel it in this life. Hell, then, is this life, except without all the people convinced of Gods love, who are kind of annoying to the godless ones. No one is proselytizing in Hell. People just live, or remain dead, or whatever. They walk amongst themselves fucking and fighting like they did in life, and they don't even realize something is missing. For them, it never existed to be missed. Have you seen the new bagel shop? The band plays every night, even Sundays. No one bothers about doing anything good. We drift like bohemians from fields of corn to Tapas bars where nothing is forbidden to eat, to opera halls where the dancers recline nude and beautiful while the band plays on and on and on...

Hell is where you never notice the difference.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

dear oprah, or a reading "app" for readers

make me this: a libraryville. i wander the stacks of the application library, earning points for reading different things. my tiny avatar wanders the stacks of literature and non-fiction, browsing shelves to build up points as a reader, unlocking new books, new authors to fill your beautiful shelves that you can share with others and wander at will, along with unlockable perks for your avatar and your library: gothic shelves, sparkling librarian glasses, owls, spiders, various book-related attire.

the books would each load a chapter at a time, thereabouts, upon the screen. one merely has to read the page, and click completed. occasionally, there would be an easy q&a to fill in about the chapter just read to, you know, keep people honest.

begin with the simple classics: frankenstein, a christmas carol, twelfth night, then as you unlock points by reading, you earn points that unlock new libraries: a season in hell, elric of melnibone, i know why the caged bird sings, brave new world. get enough points to unlock contemporary classics: beloved by toni morrison, burning chrome, middlesex. keep at it, adventurous reader and unlock enough points for house of leaves or haunted or vellum.

the library changes to reflect your reading taste: gothic for goths, cambridge for classicists, modern for modernists, and potter-esque for potter-esques.

if you run out of points, by blowing it on costumes and pets for your avatar or limited edition book covers for your personal library, you have to go back to classics to rebuild your pyramid of points: illiad, don quixote, borges, dickens, dumas. then, fair reader, you can use points for vandermeer, kathy acker, aime bender, miranda july.

share your books with friends for half points off every page they read. level-up by sharing your library with other readers.

dear oprah, please put this together for us. facebook would be fine. iphone,too. whatever. send your lawyers after all the rights involved, and secure the developers and artists for the task.

it could be bigger than farmville, you know. it could be the foundation of the future of school.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chasing dreams is what we do here. We wake up with strawberry on our tongue, soon forgotten. The flavor never touches the tongue. Chase the dream and root it out. Lick everything. Lick paintings because they are red. Lick music because it has the ephemeral nature of a dream. Lick books for they fit in your palm like strawberries do in a bunch. Taste and see until you have plucked the right flavor from the pages of the cuckoo's egg that holds inside it the hologram, the closest representative, the distant cousin of the strawberry you dreamed. It came so close to your lips you knew how sweet and dark and full of juice. All through the dream you chase it. In the dream you've almost won. It's in the lovers palm. It's held out to you.but before you can taste it, it is gone. Awake, craving strawberries. Craving. Licking everything that touches the place in your mind where you can harvest them.


I have noticed that all the roads in Georgia warp back upon themselves in a disaster of urban planning. Driving to new places, I often feel like the kitten trapped in the center of an endless tangle of yarn. thing is, the shops don't change -- the restaurants. I pass different boxes and colors and letters that are all relatively similar. The houses in long lines and tracks are all from the same waves of builders, and all look like pretty similar if you squint a little. Painted differently, perhaps.

If I was in a bubble, or a matrix, this is kind of what it would be like. Roads looping back on themselves to maintain the illusion at the edge of the world, and quickly placed assets that convey a depth to the world without actually requiring too much in the way of total variation.

These thoughts kept me up at night. I squinted at the stars, and pondered the possibility of a glass dome. I looked upon the woods at the city limits and wondered why no walkign trails continued on beyond the treeline, and why no farms or ranches extended out that way. The maps told me there were highways, but among the forested hills of Georgia, and the way the roads twist around so much, it would be easy for a skilled architect to hide the illusions. If I took a compass in hand, and walked in a straight line for thirty miles, would I reach the end of the world?

How could I tell? I am trained to go to work every morning, shop at grocery stores and relax in establishments that are indoors. Even the campgrounds are cordoned off around approved rivers. There are wild places, but I am not among them.

Did the ecology collapse outside this bubble place? Did we get sent here to save the life outside of it? Are we experiments, studied or perhaps forgotten.

Late at night, I walk the streets along a path of safety lit by strategically-placed lamps. Last night, I saw a herd of deer grazing in someone's yard. They were small, no taller than my chest. They looked at me nervously, like I was about to chase them off my neighbor's yard. I looked back at them. They had huge, glassy eyes, like black lenses. They held as still as street lamps.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On Nirvana

Now is the time and the time is now. Stand up and claim your destiny. The glittering light of joy inside of you must be thoroughly crushed. Raise your hands if you feel the light inside of you. Everyone raise your hands if you have hope. We must destroy it. The men in masks are waiting outside to lead you to your glorious destiny. They wear masks because masks scare people, and in case anyone is hiding any escape attempts on your persons, the masks will make sure even escapees will not know who are the ones who have come. Boots always look the same. Truncheons will keep you in line. This is your glorious destiny; embrace it. To the interrogation chambers and solemn dining halls of institutions we will send you. Joyfully, you will accept your new place in the world, and stay up late at night wondering if tomorrow is pizza friday in the cafeteria because it is your favorite day. Joyfully you will embrace the electroshock therapy for the feeling afterwards of having touched the cosmic eye, where all your impurities are wiped away until you are reborn holy and clean.

it's time, all you who feel the breathe of god upon your bones to stand and be counted. stand up and announce yourselves. that way, you can be led away from this life, and taken to a monastic place of stark walls and eternal contemplation of the divine.

Why aren't you so happy about this? Isn't this the heaven you asked for? Isn't this the ordered peace you demanded from your Holy God in the next life?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We Were Fish

Used to be, we were all fish. We ate everything that fit in our mouths and moved like it was still alive. Didnt matter what it was. I ate an earring once, and it's still in there, cutting at my stomach lining. I wear the hooks and lures with pride. I got the worm - and the worm did not get me. My boss wants me to remove the hooks because it looks unprofessional, but I want to remember the old ways when we were fish. I remember swimming in an ocean so deep and wide it was everything that existed. There was no such thing as rock. The closest we had were mollusks and barnacles stuck on bellies that had gotten too big and slow. Sun was nothing. The water was our warmth. We pushed ever onward, mute with sputtering mouths, while the whistles of the whales were our sparrows and parakeets and pagers and cellphones. We were fish, in flashing silver swimming always. We made big schools because back then traffic jams kept you safe and we were grateful to be packed together like that, pooping in each others faces. It was a good life when you didn't know any better.

I'm not like them. I remember exactly what happened when we were fish. We swam into swirling matrimonial beds of softest kelp and whisking grasses. We spawned en masse and anonymously like some kind of primordial shadow of Internet pornography. We left the babes behind because we were fish and we had to swim to live, to find food and good water, chasing the calls of the whales who had gone on ahead. Years later these fish would find us - all of us. It takes a village to raise a fish. No one knows who is responsible. We are all equally responsible for all of them. The young ones looked at us with our huge, muscular, shimmering tails, and our hook badges of honor and our empty-eyed pride in being fish who swim in schools and eat anything and keep swimming. The young ones, some of them joined us proudly. Some of them yelled at us for abandoning to crabs and terms. The angry ones swam off.

We were fish. We weren't supposed to care. But, then, some of us did.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm no sucker

I wanted to make sure he understood that I was no sucker for his cheap tricks. I showed up with both me eyes in full working order, no leprosy, and walking successfully on both my legs. I had my own wine, and my own loaves and fishes. I wasn't going to share with anyone because I am not one of those suckers for a gaunt face or a hand outstretched palm. Nobody gives you anything in life. You have to grab it, hold it, and fight off anyone that tries anything suspicious. That's the first thing you learn on the bus before you even have your route figured out, or the cost of the fare. People will take advantage of you let them. But not me.

I walked around in front of all those sick people. I didn't let any of them touch me.

When it was my turn I didn't believe for a minute anything was going to happen. Nothing at all would happen.

The wizard called to me from behind the curtain. I brought all my stuff with me, so he could see I didn't need anything from him. His magic was nothing to me. He asked me what I wanted from him, if I needed anything.

I told him it was all a sucker's game giving away all that to people for nothing.

The wizard gave me a giant bird. It tore my liver out on the spot with a beak like sandpiper - those scalpel beaks. He offered to save me, but I told him where to stick it. It was all his fault about the bird, and I wasn't about to give him the satisfaction.

***Edit to add: typing on iPhones is always a bit wonky. Fixes and changes made.

moon man

He only comes out the night of the full moon. We watch him from the window of our upstairs bedroom. We pretend to be asleep in our beds until our parents turn off the lights. Then, we look up through the window for the sign of the moon. We had hoped when the street lamps were fixed, that they might fool the man into appearing. The man was not fooled.

tonight's the night, a full moon. We brushed our teeth, and rushed into our pajamas. Our parents, we assumed, were clueless. They thought we were eager for a story. We wanted no stories. The sooner they were gone, the sooner we could step up to the window and gaze at the side door of our neighbor's yard. We were excited to see what he would do tonight.

The man, as if he was in tune with the sounds of the neighborhood, waited until even our parents were fast asleep. We weren't asleep.

He emerged, shimmering in the moonlight like a silver fish, shaking off moisture. He was nude and fat and clumsy. He had no hair on his head, and eyes of complete whiteness. He never looked up at us in our window. We waited to see what he would do tonight. The first time we saw him, he danced around the lawn like a cross between an elegant ballerina and a flailing squid. We giggled for days trying to recreate it. Our parents thought we were just being silly. The second time we saw him, he stacked cans of cat food in upside down pyramids, with a single can on the bottom, and the rest perfectly stacked in squares up to a dozen wide. One time, he seemed frightened of the fireflies and whacked at them with limp-wristed hands more like flippers. Our neighbors seemed normal enough in the daylight, and if we ever asked they refused to acknowledge that every full moon, after dark, a man did strange things in their back yard late into the night.

Tonight will be no exception. The moon is full. He has emerged. He stretches, farts loudly. He shakes his elongated feet like flippers. He steps into the yard with the strange empty expression on his pasty white face. Then, he stops. He looks nervously side to side.

A man steps from the shadows: my father. My father raises his old service revolver and fires.

the gunshot wakes up the neighborhood. It's so loud it echoes in my skull for days and days, bouncing around like a schizophrenic bad idea. The police come to collect the man. They are going to take the man to the zoo, and feed him to the tigers there.

Nothing is ever wasted.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I have spent the weekend toiling for my alien overlords. MAZE came in from the editor, ready to be altered and cleaned as needed. I have completed my toiling and will soon pass it back for this round.

Also, I have seen the cover of LAST DRAGON and when you can see it, I will share it here. Also, pending our ability to secure rights on a piece, MAZE may have a cover, soon.

Which means, of course, that soon I can hand these things to the web designer waiting in the wings for these things to start her mission.

So,an update that you might know why the lack of update and the things coming soon.

Oh, and keep an ear out for Escape Pod, who picked up The Lady or the Tiger by me for their fabulous podcast.

Things are happening, behind the curtain, and the show is coming!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Books that are worth reading - to me - do not turn into outlines easily.

Outline your life. You demarcate who you are by birthdays. But, is that really how your year went? Do you remember things in a line? When you read a book, is it the trajectory you recall, or the weight of moments pressing down upon you? It is the weight. It is the weight of life you remember, pushing your mind down deeper and deeper under the weight of what you remember.

Once passed, birthdays and the moments between them all rest like paper floating in the water of your mind. Paper clumps with paper, if it soaks into it, and sinks soon if it floats alone. Islands of paper form your self, floating in the mind's water. When all these moments you've thrown behind you clump up and hold each other afloat and slowly, slowly wash away.

Outline that, if you can. Map it carefully, and measure it and delineate the soggy lines between the papers if you can.

If a book is worth reading, it is generally like that. It is such a connected mass of moments that extricating the individual bits feels like a dissection, which can only occur when something is dead.

I do not like outlines for books. I do not like reading them. I do not like writing them.