The Gentle News

Contrary to what you may have heard, vomitting while riding a bike is not at all fun.

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A quick one, before we break

May 28th, 2010 · Potpourri

I fix machines that were not broken,

And say cute things best left unspoken.

I cannot heal the weak or sick,

I much prefer to help them kick.

I teach the rules that have no class

From the text we all keep in our ass.

There’s no degree, in school or verity,

To grant myself austere authority.

So keep your skyward faith and virtue —

I can’t and wouldn’t take them from you.

I seek no truth but constant learning,

For no one fact can quench our yearning.

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Without My Pain

April 25th, 2010 · Potpourri

If you google “without my pain I am nothing” you get a lot of results. If you google “without my pain I am happy” you get only suggestions.

Some years ago, Trent Reznor said or wrote “without my pain I am nothing.” I found that humorous, and responded (to myself and whoever else was listening) with the other one.

My tenth grade English teacher, a large person, sat on my futon in the summer of 2000 and broke it. A few years prior to that, she lectured students adamantly on how certain she was that she would one day die at the hands of an avoidable condition she had no earthly right discussing with teenagers in a public school.

A few days ago she accidentally drove her SUV through the facade of a salon in my hometown. I never hated her, even when a lot of my good friends implied that they thought she was evil incarnate. I still don’t hate her, but I’m a little bit resentful of her sitting on my futon and telling me that one of my friends was on illegal drugs in tenth grade. She knew nothing about him, except that she did not like him. He might have been on drugs, but he probably didn’t take them as often as the doctors and parents told him he should.

The futon wasn’t even really mine, but she did break it.

I am on the back porch right now, shivering in the nonexistent, Texas spring cold. I am not in pain, and I know full well that it’s closer to my preferred temperature inside the house. Yet I sit here, trying to convey how happy I am. I hope some day to have better reasons to sit happily on my back porch at 2:40AM.

I am half way through the first season of House. I don’t know why the show is sometimes called House MD but usually just called House. I do know that I need to read a lot of Sherlock Holmes.

I went to a bar tonight. Last night. Whatever. I went because I knew friends would be there. I was surprised to find more friends than I expected there.

I was too chickenshit to try harder to get B to come with me when we reached that moment where she admitted that she did not actually want to go to the bar.

The only pain I really have to endure right now is that caused by the fissure(s) in my anus. I could start eating right and fix that in a couple of years. Or I could have surgery. Or I could allow a physician to inject botulinum toxin into my anus.

This is as honest as it gets, whatever it is. I don’t need to define “is.” Nobody does, and that’s the beauty of the verb.

The coolest thing about House, MD is that nobody gets him. But I do. You probably do, too, but the coolest thing is that nobody gets him but me.

Fiction, baby. This ain’t it, but I know I could make a lot of it.

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Keeping The Plates Spinning

April 18th, 2010 · Potpourri

I have gradually developed the suspicion that I’m not cut out to work “under” most people who just want a warm body with a little bit of gray matter inside. “For” is OK, under the right circumstances. “With” is ideal, and what I’ve consciously wanted all along. This idea is treading on thin egocentricity again, but I feel it is a concept I need to explore in order to get past it.

I like people, and I have developed a decent internal skeptic’s compass over the years. It required many years of minor trials and odysseys. Here’s a very small cross-section:

  • Getting caught picking my nose once in fourth grade and being stuck with the (in hindsight amusing) nickname “Booger” for several years. Had I seen Revenge Of The Nerds by that time, I might not have taken it so personally. Not that Booger was much of a cinematic role model. All in all, the way it happened was best. The whole “Booger” thing was my first real social heartbreak, followed shortly by my realization that, since they weren’t real, I would never get to meet (or join) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Middle-school bromance with a very smart nerd who knew an excessive lot about Commodore computers, Star Trek, Weird Al, Mad Magazine, and online hyper-erotic text adventure games. He once came out of the bathroom with a small ruler, blurted out a non-whole number between 1 and 6, and extended the instrument to me with the intent to compare measurements. When I expressed my cold disinterest in touching anything that had been in contact with his Alfred E. Neuman, he produced a fresh one, still sealed in plastic. A highly entertaining and educational friend for a 10-year-old reject named Booger to know, but ultimately a disgusting individual. Perhaps “ultimately” is a poor choice of words. Cancer got him between 8th and 9th grades. I still miss him sometimes. We “broke up” between 7th and 8th. The Laura Winslow of his not-so-private Urkelian desire ended up dating the dude who gave me the B-name for quite a while. Incidentally, both guys had the same first name. Incidentally, I’m Facebook-friends with both of them (married to other people) now. Incidentally, do you know the difference between “incidence” and “coincidence?” I could actually write an entire book on how much this kid affected, mostly for the better, my social development. We’ll leave it at this for now: Weird guy. Probably died too young. Wish I hadn’t said so many mean things to him. I’d take back some of them if I could.
  • Making music with other kids in middle-school and high-school, outside of and entirely uncontrolled by said schools. We fought labels, both imaginary and real. We recorded albums. We did local shows. We were completely awful. Wouldn’t change a thing about it, except the part where I lost my copy of that one kinda-fun-but-still-awful album we did. I especially wish I still had those liner notes we made. Every now and then I run into someone who says he has a copy of both, but somehow I never end up with a copies of either. Hint: If you have a copy the “Filthy Immigrants” Khoa-Filty McNasty split cassette and want to make me eternally more complete and gracious, slip it to me digitally if you can.

None of this has any direct correlation to money and employment. I guess I have a long way to go before I’m adept at picking a topic and sticking to it long enough to get my meaning across.

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Once more into the breyotch

April 17th, 2010 · Potpourri

About three weeks from some indeterminable moment today, I will probably become a morning person again. In the spirit of transparency, this means I plan to smoke my proverbial (if not actual) last cigarette later today.

It’s time for some major changes in lifestyle. Or at least one. There are a few employment options I’ve been weighing, and if I choose any of them, the ability to wake up without needing to crawl out from the quicksand of nicotine dependency will greatly improve my desire to get her done.

I have many things to look forward to in this regard. Since the advantages of being a non-smoker are widely known, I won’t go into all the pollyanna platitudes a lot of transitional quitters tend to puke upon their friends. Also, since I’m merely documenting and not preaching any sort of revolutionary call to arms, I will focus on the ways this will help us out financially:

  • Somewhere around one hundred eighty extra dollars in our bank account each month. A little more than twice that if and when my beloved kicks the craving to the curb.
  • Increased mental bandwidth for seeking more favorable wages.
  • The aforementioned ability to attack the workday earlier so that I can finish it more quickly.
  • The goal itself: A better job. I could try to quantify this, but why bother? Any extra income would be tons better than my current predicament, especially if I were to calculate what I’m making based on salary over hours worked. That’s probably why I won’t quantify this right now. Doing so would depress me further. I don’t need that added mental hurdle.
  • Better ability to utilize the otherwise wasted time and energy on selling all the valuable junk we have stacked about the corners of our home.
  • Increased ability to engineer our exit strategy from the quagmire of debt that 2009’s adventures in underemployment left us.

Add all those non-numbers up, and I think it’s pleasantly probable I will once again be a mental millionaire this year. I’m so motivated now that I think I’ll go get that butt in gear right this instant.

It should be noted that iTunes shuffled up Oingo Boingo’s “Nasty Habits” just as I finished this writing.

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A Transcript Of A Future That Already Happened

April 10th, 2010 · Stories

When your mortal coil is sufficiently shuffled and you stand in judgment by that force that once drove you to choose, right or wrong, how you treat the other entities in your custodial care, this is the recording you will review to decide for yourself whether you reach the final destination you desire. You will likely ruminate on whether this is really how it happened, or whether it is truly the same conversation by which all others have been and will be judged. Rest well in the knowledge that, yes, it is true. Dream vividly upon the comforting near-truth and practical falsity that the questions have infinite answers, for the truth is neither knowable to you nor relevant to your net worth.

The man skipped into the room. The non-objectified object of his desire sat in practical silence before a multipurpose computational device, directing the unwitting participants of her simulated universe to perform acts that both pleased and frustrated her.

“So, what do you think of my idea?” asked the man with glee, assuming in error that the woman knew what he was talking about.

“What idea?” responded the woman without diverting her attention from her game.

“They’re blowing up the stadium tomorrow morning. We should go watch it.” Generating this synthetic joy at the thought of seeing such destruction had required resurrecting a memory from his youth of watching a smaller building implosion with his family. He had spent so many computational cycles reliving another memory of picking up peppermint chews from the pavement after a parade that he no longer remembered how he had come to know about the demolition at hand.

The woman spun around in her office chair and objected, “That wasn’t your idea. I told you I wanted to go see it.”

“Oh,” said the man, “well it’s a great idea.” He knew this conclusion was sound, but wondered if he had somehow made a wrong turn in his mindful journey toward drawing it. “Doesn’t matter whose idea it was, it’s something that will only happen once, and it would be cool if we were there to see it.”

Her brow wrinkled as the corners of her lips tugged upward a bit. “Of course it matters whose ideas it was, and building implosions happen all the time. Maybe I’ll call my dad and see if he wants to go.”

They both stood confused, but over completely different and equally important concepts.

“I love you,” he said as she turned back to her important concept and he walked across the hall toward his. Before he reached it, he felt an unexplainable urge to mount his motorcycle, which he had originally purchased to impress the woman but now genuinely enjoyed riding despite her near-complete lack of interest in it. He rode to the corner store to buy cigarettes, which both he and the woman genuinely agreed should be eliminated from their diets soon.

The woman, much quicker than the man in every respect but one, had already changed clothes and kissed him goodbye to leave for her hair appointment within the time it had required him to decide and act upon his notion to ride the motorcycle.

Upon returning from the store, the man recalled an exchange in which the woman had mostly dismissed the idea of driving to the crowded spectacle in light of the knowledge that it would be televised. He could not remember whether the exchange had occurred on that day or on a prior one.

Absent from the truthful script of that conversation, but indelible in his fantasized record of it, was a lengthy debate over the practical difference between seeing a historical event directly and watching it on a high-definition display device. No matter how advanced telecommunication equipment gets, electrons carrying reproductions of photons in one place cannot reach any other place in a short enough time to truly call it live. Also, the quality of the reproduction, by and in definition, cannot be high enough to call it anything more than an interpretation of the event. Only those present and not tasked with capturing it with optical preservation devices could say they genuinely saw the genuine event.

The man later wished that the woman had pointed out that the impossibility of those photons reaching remote eyes instantly and the impossibility of completely reproducing a genuine image of a remote event were in fact the same thing. He wanted her to point out that he was being pompous and redundant.

The woman had much earlier lamented her unquenchable desire for intellectual stimulus. The man had dismissed her thirst as myopic. He held onto his naive faith that she would open her eyes and one day appreciate what she had rather than frequently wish for more. He would likely never make the sincere concession that he had the power to provide her with the interaction necessary to fulfill her thirst without sacrificing his own desire not to be charged with actively providing happiness to the object of his desire.

All of those conversations, the real ones and the imagined recollections of them, had long since ended.

The woman returned from her appointment and they discussed haircare products and haircare professionalism. She asked him to make her a sandwich. His genuine desire to do so was momentarily replaced with regret when she, much hungrier than he had realized, began to make her own sandwich. Determined, he snatched the knife from her and finished the job, telling himself he could make a much better sandwich for her, but knowing that she was far more capable of making it just the way she wanted. He squeaked out a genuine laugh at the obvious joke as he sliced the cheddar.

The woman probably would not have sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on the top of the sandwich as the man had, but neither would ever know if she genuinely preferred it with or without the added garnish.

The next morning, the non-subjected subject of the woman’s desire skipped into the room, kissed her forehead, and asked her what she would like for breakfast. She wondered if he would have commented on her haircut even if she hadn’t asked him to. She wondered if he had genuinely let go of correcting her grammar. She wondered if he noticed that she was not playing a game.

She was pouring genuine interest into a personal publishing project. A smile slapped them both in the face, and before she could punish herself with the realization that he probably didn’t know she hadn’t played the game for weeks, three small animals ran into the room. The two cats and one dog gave their respective opinions on what the humans should eat for breakfast.

They did not eat breakfast, but they had a genuine Sunday. On this Sunday, and for the first time since it was wrongly theorized to be universal truth, matter was neither created nor destroyed.

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