Things To Do

I have a lot to do.

One of the things I need to do is sleep, but maybe later. I think I ruined that one for awhile by making some coffee. It tastes great.

It wasn't my plan to wake up at four in the morning, but these things happen. I would love it if I could be awake when I wanted and sleep when I wanted without regard to clocks or anything. Yeah, I know, I can do that now much more than most people, but I feel driven to be normal and run a normal schedule. Also, I tell myself, I need to be around in case I can make a sudden fortune in the stock market, not that I could.

So yesterday I was real tired. After waking up about this time to watch the European GP, I was up all day and night. Slept for a couple hours and now I'm up again. I don't know what's going on.

I do poorly on those "Are you a morning or evening person?" tests. In the morning, pumped full of coffee and before I've screwed anything up, I feel confident and am full of plans. This is when I plan out my day, and it's rarely a boring one. Within a few hours, after putzing around on the computer, I'm free to get started, but by then I've lost interest and just want to take a nap. It takes me until five in the evening or so to get any sort of interest in anything, and by then it's too late for me to get started.

Then, I party like a madman until midnight. Or not.

So I feel pretty good in the morning, but accomplish little. In the evening I also feel pretty good, and accomplish even less.

Not What I Intended

I was thinking about writing about manipulation, but won't. It would be manipulative.

I've just offered an old story for publication. A woman in one of the classes I hosted a message board for inquired about me and asked if I could submit something to some E-Mag she's got. My guess is the instructor told her about something I'd done for his class, but I didn't want to send that one to her. Nothing against online publishing, but I'm hoping to get something published by a magazine some editor may have heard of.

After six months and some rejections, I ran into her and she reminded me that I'd never sent her anything. Today I skimmed over an old story, one that was rejected five or ten times a couple years ago, and offered that to her. I don't know if it will be okay, but I feel a bit better now that I've kept my promise.

My favorite part of the story right now, and one some of my classmates commented on, was a throwaway line or two that talked about sharing intimacies. Something that always makes me sick after a breakup is knowing / thinking that the little games and names and actions she'd done with me she's now doing with someone else. If she, say, kissed me behind my ears I'd treasure that action. Then, it would depress hell out of me when I thought of her doing that to someone else. When she did that it was special, it was unique to me and for me, and the realization that it wasn't something that was born and died with us bothers me greatly. It was a delusion to think that it was anything other than public property, part of her bag of tricks that she employed before me and after me.

I guess I always wanted to be special, to be the sole owner of something, to have something done for me alone, something I inspired in her. And something that she wouldn't do or share with others. I always tried to leave some intimacies behind, would not consider sharing with Beth things I'd told or shared with Debi. For me it was my way of keeping some things sacred, but I've learned not many people do that.

Still, it felt wonderful to think I was the sole recipient of something, even if I wasn't.

Maybe Later

See, I want to say something, but I won't. Like I said the other day, in spite of everythng I hold back, about half of my thoughts are best left unsaid. What I was considering is something that would be manipulative, would have as its sole justification casting me in a favorable light.

Perhaps later, when I'm more rash.

Now I'm going to wonder more about my writing. I just finished working on part of Kicker Chapt 14, which is one of my favorites now. I love the dialogue with Charlene, but it may be too long. I also just love many of the lines, including these:

There are crusts of sleep in the corners of her eyes, which she wipes away. I figure I have them, too, and dig my own out.

I like how she "wipes" while he "digs." Such subtlety!

Anyway, while I'm doing that I'm thinking about TRE. Here's my desire for the universe, writing edition:
1) Get an agent and have TRE published (to universal acclaim would be nice, but not necessary)
2) Follow it up with Kicker, which could be a better book (thereby avoiding the crappy second book syndrome and garnering respect and even more universal acclaim).

The problem is ... I need to make TRE better so someone would accept it. To be honest, I don't believe either is good enough as they stand now. Ideally, I'd want any ms submitted to be one that I can read without thinking of so many changes to make on each page. How long does it take before every sentence is one that I'm satisfied with?

So, I want to water the lawn, but it's too sunny out. I need to wash my car, but worry about doing so with two windows permanently down. I need to clean, but can't because my sister is around.

Maybe I'll finish my runthrough of Chap 14, then go shopping. I need some food, particularly butter. The other night driving home I was starving. I really wanted to eat, but it was too late and nothing was open except chain fast food places. I already went to one of those this year, and can only do so once more. I thought of going to Ralph's Market, but I have food at home and couldn't see spending more money. I didn't have much I felt like eating, but I could have grilled cheese sandwiches, and kept talking myself into that during my drive.

Then, when I got home, I remembered I had no butter. I went to bed hungry, which is probably better for me, and struggled yesterday to find things to eat that didn't need butter. As I discovered, most everything I wanted required at least a little butter. I have no desire to have pancakes without butter, fried potatoes without butter is just plain wrong, and ended up having a dry cheese sandwich. For dinner I had two bowls of Top Ramen (the fancier name stuff, not the generic!) and chewed on some celery.

This has nothing to do with writing, nor with making me look good, so I'm pleased with this entry.

That Writing Thing

I'm not sure how concerned I should be about it, but I'm not overly troubled by my writing. I am, however, still uncertain if I can tell a story.

There are a lot of parts in writing, but the only two I'm looking at now are form and content. Form is the sentences, the word choices, things like that. That's the part I think I do okay at. It's not perfect and isn't as good as most of what I hear or read, but I think my writing is better than some things out there, at least in parts. It's got to get better, and I'm hoping that comes with practice.

The one thing I'm completely in the dark about is the other part of writing, the story part. I may get the words on the page decently, but am I saying anything anyone wants to read? Do my stories "suck you in" and make the reader want to turn the page? I think that's the part of writing that can't be taught, and no matter how well or poorly I put words on the page, unless I'm writing something that interests the reader, I'm toast.

So, today I'm grappling with that. Since that's a frustrating thing, I'm also thinking about breasts, which also baffle and frustrate me.

I'm really sorry.

Broken Promises

Of all the things George Jetson showed me about life in the 21st Century, I feel most cheated about food. The triangular silver unisex clothing and flying cars would be great, but square blue food, or meals in a pill, would make it much easier for me to eat.

I'd really like something to eat that I could enjoy without guilt. I love meat, but haven't had to kill and dress anything to eat it, and doubt that I could unless I was real hungry. At which point I doubt that I'd refuse anything. There's no question that meat eating is violent and that animals are raised and slaughtered simply so I can enjoy them, but the death of animals is nowhere near as cruel as what we do to humans to raise agricultural products. I guess it's like animal experimentation. I don't like rabbits and sheep being tortured, but I'd rather that happened than that we didn't have transplants and modern medicine that the experiments produce.

But torture is exactly what I do to my fellow man so I can enjoy fruits and vegetables. I realize that the gross number of farming fatalities and accidents are down, but I think that's mostly a reflection of the far fewer number of people involved in raising the commodity farm products (wheat, soy, and the like). Twenty years ago tillage equipment could only work four rows at a time, now it handles up to two dozen. So, fewer people working in the fields translates to fewer horrific combine accidents, but there are still far too many people maimed and killed for my liking.

Worse than that, though, is the barbaric and cruel life I force on others so I can enjoy asparagus and berries. The delicate food that must be harvested by hand is something I can enjoy if I ignore the demands I'm placing on others to get it for me. It's one thing to quickly slaughter a cow, it's quite another to sit in plush settings while someone else spends twelve hours, bending over in back-breaking labor, digging and grabbing food for my enjoyment. Even if they got paid $20 an hour, it would be inhumane work.

Although I've never done it, I've spoken to those who have, and I shudder whenever I think of my food requiring someone to labor in the sun, bent over using a one foot hoe, to scrape up and carry heavy weights of food so I can enjoy a fresh chilled bowl of tasty grapes.

Eating meat is horrid for livestock, but the only existing alternative is tortuous to people. I'd trade them both in a minute for something synthetic that didn't cost human lives.

Best Left Unsaid

I'm such a nice guy.

One thing I believe in is this whole "if you can't say something nice..." motto. I also try to keep in mind some useful program dogma, which I also use extensively when I write: What's my purpose of saying it? What point am I trying to make? Am I saying it to show off? To hurt? To appear reasonable or likeable?

Since I have a lot of opportunities to respond to things other people say, I get plenty of chances to practice. Unless you were in my head, a pleasant vacation for anyone, you'd never know how much stuff I don't say. I object strongly to censorship in theory, but of course I do scads of it in my own head. I bite off and swallow about as many comments as I ever make, realizing that my reason for wanting to say something isn't justfiable. It's easy for me to be mean or hurtful, rude or insensitive, selfish or self-serving. I struggle to avoid gloating, demeaning, or hateful comments, but they're frequently the first things that pop in my mind. I hide this from everyone except myself, but there's no denying I think them.

Last night I went a long time not saying things I could. My guess is I came across as not paying any attention, but I couldn't think of anything to say that served any purpose other than to make me look good. I don't think conversation was invented so we'd have a way to show off how clever we are.

When you subtract out, also, all the things I can't say because it reflects poorly on those around me, it amazes me that I can find anything to say out loud at all.

Mirrors, Tape Recorders, and Sobriety

When I was around eight, my dad bought a tape recorder. My best friend at the time, Scott, and I recorded several hours of "The Rusty and Scotty Show" but I have no idea where any of the tapes might be. Then, as now, I didn't sound like myself when we played back the tapes.

This morning a much older man looked back at me from the mirror. I rarely look at myself in a mirror, rarely actually *see* myself, and most often just focus on my hair or cheek or whatever it is that I need to see. Today I looked and the face that greeted me differs quite a bit from the picture of me that I have in my head.

My mental image of myself is around 35 or so. I know, it's pathetic to be so out of touch, do don't remind me of that. I guess I prefer the dream world to the real one and it must be denial that makes me think of myself as still young and desirable. I used to be that way (Really!) and had a ton of well-deserved confidence. Now, when I act that way, it always comes back to haunt me. It embarrasses me, and I find my current behavior intolerable, sad, and-in a word-pathetic.

I'm speaking of "lasts" ... last century, last year, last week, etc. Things still too painful for me to process or look at objectively without wincing, not only for the hurt I caused and felt, but for how blind I was, how fully my inner view deviated from how I'm seen by those I inflicted myself on.

And you thought I'd never end a sentence with a preposition.

Head, Not Heart

I'm avoiding emotions and desires. Instead of fully using all those qualities which make me human, I'm trying to stick with thinking and analyzing. No, it's not fulfilling, but it's less painful.

So, I've been studying up on this Very Good Thing (tm). I've decided it is deserving of that name, even though imperfect. The notion of turning waste into usable energy isn't new, but I like that this plant gives us oil to burn, carbon for filtration and other things, as well as water and some heavy metals.

I'd like to think we could build a lot of these, not only near pig farms to help with this , but even build them near landfills, digging and mining old waste. Not only could we clean up those old places, but we'd get oil to boot!

No, it won't solve all our problems, but in conjunction with other things, I like it. Too bad the NIMBY people who are stopping everything from clean nukes to new refineries won't let it happen.

Book Report

I've just completed reading a "powerful" book that depressed the piss out of me. Another one of those chick-lit type things, this one featuring a main character obsessed with her sister's death. I got the whole "dead sister" thing right away, but was reminded of it on every one of the 270 pages.

Worse was the male character. He's a bastard, a sadistic tough guy, bald, muscled, and tattooed. Treats women like shit, humilitates them, and, of course, wins her affection. Just as in life, women are drawn to this type while proclaiming they want the opposite. I hate men like that because they win. I wouldn't, and probably couldn't, be like him, but I'm jealous of his success. I'm terrifically jealous of every man who can get what I want.

She comes from a dysfunctional family. She enjoys the beatings, the restraints, the sodomy in spite of herself, feeling "freed" to accept whatever he wants. He's so powerful, so assured, she finds him hypnotic. Nothing he can do breaks her attraction.

One-fourth of the way through the book I'd lost all concern for the characters, halfway through I wished them all dead.

Then she has a breakdown, recovers, and breaks it off with him.

The End.

I, Russell

The problem, *my* problem, is with desire.

I think I'd be a better person if I never wanted anything. I had another horrible night's sleep, waking up every hour from another unsettling dream, and then torturing myself back to sleep with unrealistic desires. I hate that I want things, things I can't have and that I should know better than to even consider. I learned about my failings and limits ten years ago and about my jealousies long before that. Why can't I remember that?

I hate that I want what I can't have, that I can't be satisfied with my fringe existence, that I'm unable to handle reality and wish to be treated as special as more deserving men. For God's fucking sake, I just am, and should be content with that.

I've had, though arguably never earned or deserved, the affection and love of women. I'm old enough now that I should be happy being the father figure or kindly uncle. Why do I still crave the rewards of youth? It's impossible for me to have them, and I wish I'd quit trying. Not only do I fool myself when I think it's possible, I set myself up for misery whenever I see anyone or anyting I want.

I hate wanting things. I hate making myself feel foolish. I hate being unreasonable.



My writing engenders as litlle interest as my resumes or existence.

I'm more a character than a person.

Forget it

The hell with it.

Neglected News

Damn. There's no text version, only a Realaudio clip. You can get it from the PBS site.

On the news tonight Shashi Tharoor, the U.N. undersecretary general for communications and public information, listed ten stories that have been pushed off the page by the world's focus on Iraq. He listed them, chosen from over sixty listed by the agency heads at the UN. I know, there's little to be done about the world's problems, but I think it's my duty to know what's happening on my planet. Rises in coffee prices don't affect too many Americans, who pay over three dollars to get it from Starbucks, and happenings in the Sudan and Nigeria aren't as important to viewers of the nightly news as exploding car tires or the fact that a reduced carbohydrate diet results in bad breath. Still, I think it helps to keep things in perspective by knowing that probably 90% of the world would kill for my problems.

The news stories mentioned aren't all bad, either. As Mr Tharoor points out, good news never makes it on TV, but years of fighting and slavery and genocide in places like Liberia and Rowanda have stopped, and the people there are living in relative peace for the first time in their lives. I smiled when I heard that (even though I kinda knew), knowing that existence was a trifle better for a couple million people.

And I laughed--though not out loud--at this tidbit on CNBC. On Wall Street they use the term "factor in" to describe how changes in the world affect stock prices. Thus, if there's going to be coffee shortage, Starbuck's stock may fall (since they'll be spending more for their supply and won't be able to pass on the additional expense immediately). After the coffee price goes up, Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, Dennys, and Folgers stocks will go down. After a time, the prices will adjust (after the panic) and they'll say that the increased commodity (coffee) price has been factored into the stock price.

Today, in response totremendous news from Mexico, one trader quipped "Aliens aren't factored in to the market."


Too discouraged and depressed to write anything.

The front yard and street are full of people taking my present and future, demanding things I can't provide.

Cinco de Mayo

If I were even remotely capable of being considerate of other people, or successful by anyone's definition, today would be my 20th wedding anniversary.

I'm told Cinco de Mayo isn't anything at all in Mexico, that it's mostly an American holiday. If that's true, my guess is it was manufactured, like St Valentine's Day or Kwanzaa, because we needed something in May and we'd already had a whole day to celebrate the Irish. It certainly isn't celebrating anything worthy of much pride. Beating the French earns few points, and even fewer since they ignored the rules and attacked with half the force necessary to overcome a defense.

The fires continue in So Cal. These are all close to my niece and her family (her son, her exes, and their families), but the area they live in is developed and I doubt they're in any real danger. Still, I'd expect they'd have to do a lot of cleaning before the next barbecue, what with all the ash and all.

Speaking of development, in addition to our $30,000 plumbing, the house next door and across the street are both being remodeled. In front of my home our neighbors have parked their SUV before heading off for places unknown. Now it's in the way not only of our plumbers, but also for the cement truck scheduled to arrive for next door. Lots of people running around, all in construction boots and looking more manly than I do, everywhere except across the street. If someone shows up there to work, we can ask them to get hold of the owners and move the truck. In the meantime, I have strange trucks parked on the lawn, enabling the larger delivery trucks to block off the street.

I'd like something good to happen today.

More of the Same

I thougtht we were done with this last year.

In fact, I didn't go and visit my ravaged state, but I had the impression just about everything flammable (all that "fuel" the firefighters keep talking about) was already burned to a crisp. Now, it turns out, this year may be even worse, even more deadly and horrific.

If this is a sign of the final days--and what else can it be?--maybe I should pay more attention to
these people.

In other news, I heard something incredibly brilliant from one of those political pundits. I've been upset for years about how politicians never answer the questions put to them by reporters or interviewers, but now it's clear as an azure sky of deepest summer.

Polotics 101, lesson six: Answer the question you wish you'd been asked.

It always bothers me when they ask a question and the respondant doesn't answer. Worse, no one ever points it out or insists on getting the answer. Since everyone but me knows this rule, now it makes sense.

I still don't like it, though.


I could totally kick those kids's asses on Junior Jeopardy.

I suck at regular Jeopardy!. I've been watching it the last few weeks, though, since
Mario Bartiromo mentioned a couple weeks ago that she'd be on. No, I'm not in love with her or anything, but she's on, talking about stocks, when I watch CNBC to see how much worse my financial future is. Turns out I think she's on next week, but that's not the point.

Watching Jeopardy! has taught me that many more people know a lot more about things than I do. I think a lot, some might say too much, but I'm not very in touch with things and haven't studied the kind of things you know to win at Jeopardy! I know a few paintings by some artists, a little bit about well-known music, but could never compete with the braniacs on the show. I'm one of those "I know what I like" kind of guys, more than the studying ones.

I keep thinking about Rosie on White Men Can't Jump and an article in GQ or some place years ago about a guy who made it onto the show. All I remember is that you're asked to bring five changes of clothes, so it can look like the shows were taped on different days.

But...and this is the key...while I don't get all the answers, I could probably win against the kids. Not today, of course, since the eldest girl--a twelve year old--knew something about Yellowstone Park that I didn't, but I would have won against the eleven year old challengers. Got to figure out how to do one of those Big things, or Freaky Friday, and make me some money.

Minardi Jones

I'd hate to know me.

I've been thinking about the people I've attracted and am attracted to and, other than me, I have no idea what they have in common. I wouldn't introduce any of them to each other, and I certainly can't imagine introducing any of them to myself.

I've heard that we're attracted to people who are about as attractive as we are, but that can't be true. The women who've been attracted to me are always cute, the men run the gamut. While the women were all pretty, funny, and sharp, not all my men friends were funny. About the only thing I can think of that we all shared was an unwillingness to gossip.

People who are attracted to me don't read People magazine. I was thinking of that today when I went to the supermarket and saw all the magazines next to the checkstand. I don't think anyone I've ever been close with has regularly read any of them. Evening that out, though, was a good friend's roomate, who took pictures for Star.

Whatever it is that attracts so many people to follow Britney and Michael Jackson's life, it isn't the kind of thing that causes one to enjoy my company. It doesn't bother me that this excludes me three-fourths of the population, but it may explain why I'm so bored at cocktail parties.

Who the hell would I set me up with on a blind date? I'd hate to do that, and that's why I'd hate to know me.