The Slush Pile (A Review)

Photo on 6-4-16 at 7.14 PM

So without really even trying, it feels, I hit 35k on my current work in progress, Nowhere. It’s a dystopian Western set in the flat, wastelands of our Apocalyptic future. So that’s been a ton of fun, but it got me thinking. My slush pile, the stack of first drafts and half attempts every writer accumulates, is starting to look a little crazy, almost like it could just topple and spill all over the carpet. It would probably grow eight hairy legs, eat the asbestos tiles in my downstairs office, and just walk away to some other coffee soaked writer’s den. Oh if I could only be so lucky, anyway, so yeah I got thinking why not do a little review of the slush pile, to determine which of these monsters I should give my attention to and finally finish and distribute.

The Books

Pomegranate Lane-This was the last first draft I wrote, in November of 2015 for National Novel Writing Month (#Nanowrimo). It’s a murder-mystery novel set in the future. The protagonist Dorothy (ignore the hackery) is a detective, working the first real murder case anyone in decades has had, due to the impressive surveillance state which has been achieved. She wakes up the morning of the gruesome murder, alcohol drenched and one foot over the edge of an existential crisis. What was her job? Why did she want to do it? What is this strange world she took for granted? All these questions become compounded when there are failures in the security state itself, which provide ugly glimmers of a reality right next store, that threatens to overwhelm her secured world.

Interludes-I’ve been distributing this on here. I won’t go into too many details since you can just go read it if your interested. It’s a first person story, told by a version of myself, it unfolds in a place I call La-La-Land. There’s weird cults and rituals, a werewolf who sexually assaults me and tries to eat me, tricky mythical-poetical entities, and overall a deep and hopefully humorous study of Art itself. I am about three quarters of the way through the edit on this, and hope in the future to finish serializing it on this blog, so stick around.

Dawning of the Werewolf-This draft sits short of full novel, 45k words. I think I worked on it before Interludes, but I’m not sure. Overall, the slush pile gets a little scattered here in my own chronology. This story is a first person confessional about a guy who discovers he’s a werewolf. All I really remember is a lot of running, and this cool vibe of a man-beast racing up the edge of Lake Michigan. Oh, and I did like the ultimate hack move and had my creature help steal The One Ring, from Lord of the Rings, for some baddies. Again some cool stuff, but with that level of hack I think this one may be a dud.
Mech Suits (Totally working Title)-Science Fiction, first draft right at 50k words. This one may have potential. Basic story, in the future robotic technology is so far advanced that the use of machines suits, think the thing Ripley from Alien wears to kick that alien’s ass, is common place. There is an updated version of football which is played with these suits. The youngest boy gets roped into an international terrorist situation, through his connection to an very rich, corporate executive, who was aware of his skill, and had allow him free reign of his workshop.




Something sort of cool about this one. The story follows three brothers. The youngest is a technical genius with machines (think Hephaestus), and his two older brothers are Mechball (think I just made that name up) all stars on the high school team. An interesting detail for me is when I wrote this book I only had two boys at the time, but now I have my own trio of sons. That personal relevancy definitely bumps this one up on the priority list. I also liked the big, entertaining story that took place. It was sort of like Golden Era 80s-90’s action flicks (think half Karate Kid, half Die Hard), mixed with a heady batch of Orwellian musings.

Sumer, previously Robot Academy Funtimes– I stalled out on the second draft of this work, a little over 66k words. Again there’s a personal component that makes me want to finish-finish. Basic plot came from my brother years ago, in a far distant future, robots rule the Earth, they have decided to begin reproducing humans, because they have lost their sense of humanity. My story follows one of these new-humans, a girl named Echo.

This one presents a number of critical and complicated issues. For one the story takes places in a holodeck/scientific lab of sorts. This sort of reeks of amateur hackery again because you end up in a sort of dream sequence explanation which isn’t very good. If it’s all a dream or a simulation then who really give a damn, the argument goes. Of course, traversing prickly fields of contradictions and ego destroying logical conundrums sort of destroys the pursuit of digestible narration.

More over, what was a stunning philosophical insight from my teenage brother, was a fairly well established Science Fiction trope. In my own reading aI have become more aware of this issue, via Asimov and others. That said, my draft was done with mostly clean hands, and since there really is nothing new under the sun, I don’t automatically discount this story. I feel like this definitely has the feeling of a fruit not yet ripened, so I continue on.

The Siege/Winterset-First draft, Speculative Fiction, right at 47.9k words. This is a weird one for me. What started out with the thought experiment, what would a people’s revolution look like in small town mid-West United States, led by a somewhat quixotic youth protagonist, similar to the idealized concept the Author has of himself. Think farm animals released on Main Street and the bouncy ball pit at high noon on a Saturday.
I didn’t like how it ended up though, in chaos and murder, and low-down outlaws. No one was supposed to get hurt…I thought about this book a lot later when I when I watched things like the Occupy movement, or the recent riots in Baltimore. I realized that the bullshit, Mayberry sense of revolution I depicted in the book was naive, in the meanest and truest sense of the word. This sort of development in my thinking leads to it having a permanent position in the slush pile.



Tom’s Episode-I believe this is the first book I wrote, and it sits at a monstrous 95,829 words. Wow. It is sort of crazy to go through all these stories. They connect and bring back so many memories of when I wrote them. The basic idea of this story is what happens if someone became an atheist while in heaven. Again, just an awful, typical beginner’s premise, a story set in heaven. I wrote this over five years ago. I’d taken a class at University of Iowa, on Science and Religion around that time, and I remember I was deep into the Atheist, Creationism vs. Evolution, Dawkins, sort of stuff. Of course, Tom is an allusion to the so-called doubting Thomas of the Gospels.


Strictly speaking I would label myself an Atheist, in the strict I have seen no evidence for the positive claim there is a God, but in all the ways that count I’m still a dirty old apostate Catholic. I pray Our Fathers then Hail Marys, am in dialogue with the Holy Spirit, and ultimately abide a messianic eschatology (and I am the one I have been waiting for). But yes, it’s those sort of Gnostic drenched ramblings that make up this book. I also recognized later that it’s Interludes Part One, but that seems to form some sort of psychological singularity which I don’t really care to deal with (we’re all writing the same shit over and over and over…). I encountered Tom Robbins, and Christopher Moore’s Lamb later, they do masterfully, what I did very shoddily in this one, but again know, I wait for the day I may have the capabilities to birth this monster. Consider yourself warned.


Novellas/Shorts Stories


Kill The Television-This is a novella right around 17k words. I consider this my Parvus Opus (Small Work). Simple story, thirteen year old, Ronald lives on his Grandma’s couch at her senior living center. One day, he decides to start head hunting flat screens. Cool little story, hero’s quest sort of thing, set in my home city. I love the themes of this one and definitely want it to have some readers someday. Hard to place it exactly, not big enough to hold its own as a book, think I would like it to make it the title work for a collection of other short stories. I got hung up finishing it on a pacing issue, there’s a break away story told during the climax, which interrupts the flow, but I love it too much to cut it. Why not just shorten it the mind pushes.

Story of Roger Meeks-Science Fiction, 14k words, again cool idea, but not enough for own book. Seventy something year old is a nobody, from Nowhere American. He works as a cashier at a local gas station, and lives alone in the same house he grew up in. When a spacefaring race shows up, it is Mr. Meeks they want to talk to.

I like this one a lot. Didn’t quite get over in the version I got now, but definitely potential in this. I love the original Twilight Zone, and this is my attempt at something like that. I would love to see this in a collection of short stories.

Gnomes. Or How Martin Gardner’s LIfe Was Ruined By A Clan of Gnomes with Big Problems-Fantasy, right around 22k word, this has got to be the strangest of all the slush piles specimens. The general idea I had was, sort of like in Toy Story, what if your garden variety gnomes were actually alive, and their owners formed a shadowy underground railroad of magic. Fun idea, silly story, but not really enough for a whole book. But again, it so sort of absurd and simple, something still gets me about this story. Might need to revisit it…then again maybe not, just remembered a bit of hackery taking place in this one too.

So the main character is named Martin Gardner. I’m pretty sure the Martin is ripped right from Stephen King’s man in black, Flagg-type guyand I had some idea of this being like an alternative origins story for that character or a character like him. Normal average person that got suck unknowingly into a magical world, and ended up powerful, ruined and corrupt in the process. I think this is so out there it could be good, but would need extensive rewrites and a commitment to the absurd.

The Last Virgin of Hollywood-Fiction, a little under 10k. The premise of the story is in the title, Norma a twenty something year old make up artist of the stars has somehow retained her virginity. The shorty story follows her as she tries to hold on to it. It was a rushed story, scattered with cliches, the overconfident rich guy, the hobo with a soul, the decadent evil Brad Pitt type. I like the idea, and sort of feel in love with main character. I think this one had potential to be a great story.

Jar of Kisses-Fantasy, 13k words, another story with a good premise and hook, but not enough to warrant a full book. This was a simple story. We have this little jar, with the words “Kisses” on it, that prompted the idea what if there was this magical jar, that if you took an invisible scoop from it with your hand, and took a drink from it, would give you the greatest kiss you could ever imagine. Ended up being a decent story, middle-schooler gets it, bully classmate discovers it, decent portions of horror and sentimentality. Definitely worth edit.

Formation of the White-God awful title, clearly Tolkien hackery. Very strange feeling, sits a little over 10k words and I have absolutely no clue what the story is about. No characters, no scene, no anything. Vaguely, I am prompted by the title, I think this was when I started wanting an intertextual thing with my books, like Stephen King and Terry Pratchett have done, where characters and story lines can pop up in different books.
I read an excerpt from it:

…“Oh come on, I swear you think everyone is a sexual predator these days.”
“He’s a lame.”
“I swear Claire. This is the exact problem we’re up against. Everyone is too worried about how they look, and being cool, and all that shit. A guy like Chris Davis, a good man, is seen as a schmuck. I think that’s just wrong. Now they asked for a light, and we are going to get them a light, all right? And Davis is our light.”
“Fine, lame it is.” She took a drink of her coffee.
Her brother paid the bill; he always paid the bill.
They sat in silence for some time. Connor hated silence and finally broke it. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” she said.

And it all comes back to me. Claire and Conor are angel figures, representing Intuition and Righteousness, the story follows them on a heroes quest of still murky specifications. I imagined some sort of occulted initiation ritual into the Good. The protagonist, not the lame in question, is a bastardly bookish type like the author himself. I think this story was a bit of wishful thinking, hopefully not conjuring, on my part. Anyway, this work gets a big question mark. Could it be an Interludes sequel?

Rock Art Salesman-This was another one in line for weirdest premises. Right around 8k words, story is about the greatest Rock Arts salesman in the world. He’s entrapped in the selling of an exceptional piece, to a odious and shadowy party. I liked this story, but felt it was part of a larger tale. I have another start of a story, which I feel has a connection to this story, but haven’t flushed the either one out yet. Liked the characters and idea though.Also weird synchronicity, but I was later encounter just such a Rock Art Salesman in On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony.

Scrubber Boys-This is probably my best and favorite short story. Right under 7k words, the main plot points and characters came to me in a dream. I woke that morning and took notes in my journal and had a draft fast. Definitely needs a rewrite and an edit, but if I ever have a shorty story collection this will be in it.

It follows two scrubber boys John and Pinto, who work as child laborers on a giant battery complex in a strange world. Surreal, challenging, this story runs out of the dream into reality and back. I love this story.

We Troll-Fiction/Horror. Another strong short story premise. 5k words. Set in the future, the story follow high schooler Roger, as he experiences a surreal amount of bullying. Exaggerating the trend of online trolling and abuse, I speculated what would happen when this behavior ingrained itself into a society and festered for a century. I imagined a website were bullies could get together and make a sport of the process. The result is this terrifying glimpse into a possible future.

Escape-Fiction/Fantasy, 997 words, spawned in early parent hood when 2nd child hopped out of his crib one night, about a toddler who sneaks out on his parents, to discover a magical world outside. Dense, exciting, and frightening, probably worth finishing.

Changeling-Fiction/Fantasy, around 3k words. Decent story, again produced in newly acquired parenthood. Tells a modern story of the ancient myth of “the changeling”, which is a surrogate fairy child, the fairy/gnomey people leave while they take your child and train it in their magical ways. This story takes place on the night the human child is returning to the home. Can you guess the ironic twist? Strong enough to be given further consideration

Agent or Standard Operating Procedure-Fiction/Speculative Fiction, 4.6k words, written in a 1st person perspective, confessional, telling the story of how this agent ended up violating protocol. Strong story, but overdone. Energy comes from the first person story, and with things like Interlude, I have gotten that urge out of my system. Strong enough to consider for the short story collection.

Arms in Ankeny-Short Story, Science Fiction, 6th draft, 5k words, this was the first piece I sent to a paid editor. I wrote about that experience here. Definitely has legs, and I need to work a final version. Would definitely be in a collection. This one taught me how hard it is to write a great short story. It was like overworking the dough, the whole thing began to crumble in my hands as I played with it. Still, I have the sneaking suspicion one day I will find myself in the perfect spot to finish it. Again, I am reminded thinking of this one, that my problem is letting of the bad parts in the story, the stuff that doesn’t work.

The Case of Bill Mimic-Fiction, 4k words, interesting story Kafka-like, basic premise what if a person had a condition where they lost their unique personality and merely mimicked whoever they came into contact with. Don’t remember if I pulled this one off, but think I need to go back and reread. Candidate for the collection.

Rich’s Autoland-2,850 word, a brief sojourn into a realist Fiction vibe. Story follows a newspaper writer working on a story about the National Wresting Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Ia, and a champion boy wrestler whose the focus of the story. That is the back drop, it takes a surrealist bent in the end, something I of course really like. It’s like I just couldn’t play it straight and had to let it out in the end…Don’t know the viability of this as a story, but definitely some potential.

3 Ways-7k words, Science Fiction, another one that could be expanded or chopped. Basic premise, in the future sex is highly regulated, you have to get a ticket. There are only three way to get it, everyone is given one to begin with, they can be bought (no one can afford them), or they can be given, and that’s it. Story focuses in on one man as he wrestles with this system. Strong story, definitely worth urther development.


This was a great time splashing around in the slush pile. Though I have to admit it does leave an unpleasant after taste, and maybe a little gunk between your toes. Writing is an easy task for me, finishing writing is something else all together. I have to admit a sense of confusion when I look at my slush pile. So many half baked schemes, just sitting there, if I let my mind wander I could start feeling it was a waste, a byproduct of a desperate attempt for attention, and self realization. But I don’t do that.

Tomorrow, come heaven, hell, and high water, I will wake up and try to put up a thousand words, and add another layer to my slush pile. And I’ll tell you why, the secret if you will, it’s not because I don’t care whether it is good or not, or whether I will succumb to crippling debt, and my children will starve in the streets or not, no it is none of those earthly concerns, it is for the greater, heavenly concern, the desire to be great, to be great at creation…creation of what you could ask…a story for another time, I’d advise. Thanks for taking a dip with me. I would love to hear what in that mess sparks your interest. And I hope you stay paddling on top of the slush pile.

What Is Going On?!?! (Interludes Prologue)çois_Boucher.jpg

I had a very strange experience, and I don’t know why I feel compelled to write about it here, but I do. I anthropomorphized “The Muse” in previous posts. I did that as an intellectual tool, a thought experiment. For me to have written about the concept at all demonstrates how much time I had already given to it. You can imagine my frustration, when after the idea was out there, I did not get the usual relief I do in these situations.

Instead, the whole thing of an anthropomorphized muse stuck with me. Anytime I had a free interior minute, like washing the dishes or before bed, I would find myself drifting towards the thought of the Muse, as a full fledged, living person.

Here is how the thoughts sort of went. What is really behind being in that artistic zone? How does the artist just turn over to this other force and have it produce such intelligent, cohesive products? If it is some sort of a power of the subconscious (thinking something like Jungian psychology), then how do we make sense of it being more creatively intelligent and complicated then our regular modes of thinking?

But further my mind would snap, and here is where the fissure starts, because I can almost hear a voice, her voice to be exact. Who says you have anything to do with it? So bold, right there, right smack between my eyes. The language and orientation seemed so strange. Why would I say such things to myself?

She always seems to have an answer, and be tired of my shit. She is also sick of me taking credit for her ideas, and wants her share of recognition and goodies. Now I know this sounds like I am losing my mind, but this is what happened. So I found myself down in the office this morning about to write. Now I have been writing somewhat seriously now for at least four years, and though I have days were it might have take longer to get going, I can always get the job done.

In other words, I had never known writer’s block. It also is important to note that I was in a fairly positive frame of mind, breakfast, coffee, free time, etc., but right as I hit my seat and started the computer a dreadfulness bombarded me. It was so strong and disorienting that I jumped up out of my chair, and in a panicked spastic response I flung my arms wildly around the room.

I was overwhelmed with paranoia. It was in there deep. I wanted to dig it out of myself somehow. I heard my kids playing upstairs. My wife was telling my oldest son that she just needed to finish the dishes and then they would all go outside. The normalcy of the moment snapped me out of it and I sat back down, but my hands were still shaking and I was so scared.

I opened up my work in progress and read the last sentence I wrote. There were a number of grammatical errors, which I tinkered with for a second. Somewhat disinterested, I went to write the new words and again a feeling of death and dread, and magnanimity overwhelmed. I felt stomach sick. I closed my eyes and laid my head on the desk.

An unending stream of existential crisis tore through me. What was I doing writing anyway? What did I have to say? I was a nothing and a nobody and just a loser like everybody else. There was nothing great in me. Compared to those before me, I am an inexperienced moron. All this obsession with art was so much inconsequential madness. It was sickening and shameful. A danger, to myself and others. I was a coward who had hide and ran and taken the path of least resistance and I would continue to be that, forever. It was over for me.

How can I describe the sensation of feeling that your thoughts are not you’re own? It’s like a person entering the room and beginning to talk to you, not quite yelling, but loud enough that you cannot ignore it. It’s an alien voice too, almost like reading words on a page, you have to sort of interpret character, inflection and tone.

It isn’t good at bluffing or bullshitting. It is just like the wind; it blows or it doesn’t.

The wind was blowing hard through my head. It was almost like drowning, but the nonstop stream of ideas filled the deadly world. I probably laid there for twenty minutes in this state before I popped out of my seat again, panicked. I was asthmatic too. I couldn’t get a deep enough breathe. The feeling of sharing the room with someone came back hard now. So hard that I grabbed my wallet and went running out the house, terrified that some physical or even metaphysical brain “popping” was about to occur.

It was a godawful hot humid day, and the heat and bright light just smashed me in the face. It was like I had ran right into a yellowish sweat bubble. The wet sickness pushed through my eyes balls and down into my guts. I could feel my morning breakfast gurgling there.

I should have gone inside and laid down, but I was too scared to go back into my house. I started walking. Everything wa cartoonish, blocky, almost lego-y. I began to hear what sounded like a choir singing, but I couldn’t find the source. I walked for a while until I came to a gas station. I stood outside, pacing, totally out of my mind. I was so worked up, angry and for what appeared to be nothing. I felt stupid about leaving the house like that, and I was sure my wife was wondering where the hell I went.

A woman pulled up in a white Nissan. I saw that it was an older woman, heavy set, and in business attire. We made eye contact for a second and I looked away. But as she walked passed, I looked back and now the woman was young, slim and shiny blond hair ran down seventies style lime green dress, which fit her perfectly. So weirded out, I walked around the building but was stopped by three youths. Two boys were on their bikes, and one little girl was standing on the curb, watching the others riding circles in the parking lot.

As I went passed them the little girl began to talk to me. “Oh professor ass dude, weirdo, lame type predator.” I couldn’t believe what was I was hearing. “Pussy,” she said. I turned around and they were all lined up staring at me. I felt like I should say something, but they were all smiling and what could I say? The oldest couldn’t have been nine, and the girl was no more than five. I couldn’t believe something like that coming from such a young child, but the way they were smiling told me they thought it was real funny.

I stared at them for a second so dumbfounded and weirded out that finally I just turned and walked away. As I got to the edge of the parking lot I looked back for them and they were gone. I kept walking, wading through this lingering dread. I walked until I came to a Dollar General. I had the urge to buy some candles, some candy, maybe even some flowers. I walked through the aisles and every person I went passed had some negative words for me. Vulgar, high school type trash. Pencil Dick. Faggot. Cocksucker. A Grandma in a red hat called me a cunt.

I got my chocolate bars and candles and headed for the checkout line, which was packed with people. I waited for an eternity. The whole time this voice in my head just kept going and going, like standing under a waterfall.

I couldn’t imagine another world existing outside of the pounding, pulsating, internal voice which was just having a freak out, in perfect, controlled, monotoned persistence. You suck you know that, you really suck. You sucks eggs. You suck dicks. You can suck a golf ball through a garden a hose. A carburetor out an engine block. You’re like black hole level suck. Bending matter to your empty black suck. Abortion vacuum suck…

I watched the checkout lady as the line crept. She was an older woman, late forties, early fifties. She had thinning hair and the look of a smoker. She had an air of a look of dignity though too, as she rang everyone’s crap up. Something told me she had some other career experience, like a horse trainer or something. But that was before, when she had something she loved, but that didn’t work out. She took this job out of necessity.

I finally made it to her, but right before, a viscous, emergency type, stomach pain kick in. I leaned against the counter and tried to close my eyes and take some deep breaths. When I opened my eyes, my things were being rang up and a voice broke into my head. “3.33, Sir.” I struggled for my wallet and when I brought it back up and looked the cashier in the face she had changed. It was the beautiful woman who was outside the gas station, but now she was in the Dollar General uniform. For the first time, I got a look at her face.

I love and am ever faithful to my wife, so I feel bad writing this, but she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Normally I am a burnet man, but her ocean waves of shimmering blond hair and lightening green eyes left me floored and overwhelmed with lust. It was her smell too! It was like cool wind on a warm day, through a lavender field, mixed with the earthy scent of woman.

She smiled and said, “3.33, you sick bastard!” As if she read my dirty mind. She said the last words full of both sexuality and insult. I dropped my wallet and banged my head on the counter as I went to grab it. I was full of apologies, even though she had just insulted me. All flustered and blushing, I opened my wallet and there was nothing in there! I was a ramble of sorries and she just kept smiling at me.

“You’re fucking great,” she said. “I can’t wait to get my hands on you Austin. You’re a screamer, aren’t you? I can always sense a screamer. Hemingway never broke; I hated that. You don’t have a fiver on ya? You broke, chubby, son-of-a-bitch. Take the candy asshole, consider it a last meal. Fucking candles.”

You know the phrase deer in the head lights? Now I literally know what that feels like. It was like a decked out, glossy Escalade appeared from the ether and was going to plow right through me. The sick, twisted thing is as I basked in her presence I was still aroused, seduced even by her destructive forces. For some (possibly profound) reason I began to think about the blank page back at home, and how I needed to be doing my words.

The whole word froze and the lights went dim. The store began to shake and drywall began to sift from the ceiling. I looked at the folks behind me, all lined up and waiting to pay for their stuff. They were now statues. Their still shoulders collected the falling dust.

I looked back at the new woman. She was frozen too, smiling like the sun. I had the most awesome realization. This was the Muse!!! Right in front of me. I could hear this indecipherable, yet oddly familiar hum emanating from her. Think it clicked in my head, I had heard this same effect, sometimes deep in the writing zone, when the words were just gushing out beyond my control.élix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpgélix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpg

This was the source of that hum and she was standing right before me. I had the strange thought to try to capture her, bottle her up somehow and hide her back in my house. There was a loud boom of thunder in the store and a web of lightening broke out across the ceiling. With another boom, a giant appeared behind her in the next aisle.

The first thought that came to mind was Gandalf, because of his long white hair and robes, but the man was black, like deep of night black, so black that it was hard to even make out any features on his face, and he was a giant. I’m guessing probably twelve or thirteen feet tall, at least; his head almost touched the ceiling.

He stood there arms crossed for an awful minute. A chrome scepter, capped with a flashing diamond, was clinched in his left hand, and poised to obliterate me with one smack. Thankfully, there were no words passed between us. He just stood there, staring. Then I passed out.

I woke up back in my chair, a small Dollar General store bag with the candles and candy in it on the desk. It was like waking up from a nightmare. I felt so disoriented and insane. Worst of all, I looked up at the screen and all that you have been reading was already up there. As I reread it, memories of the whole experience came flooding back.

I think I might have gone insane. I need to talk to my wife about this, but I don’t know what she’ll say. Has anyone had an experience with this? Please share with me if you have. Thanks for reading. She exists!


Next Chapter

Morning View

6:00AM It all streams together, days, weeks, and I imagine soon years. 6AM Coen, almost 2, a monkey in the bed. He pats us both, “nice, nice, nice.” Then he tries to scare me with a boo, but he hasn’t quite mastered the technique to it. I give him the zombie moan and he dives into bed next to Mom, then sits up waits to hear it again, I oblige, he dives back down. We snuggle, smooch, try to steal a little more rest from the bed. The sheets were all clean last night, and the bed was quickly made up, so no little feet could track dirt or crumbs into it during their movie night.

Got in over a a thousand words on work on progress tentatively titled WK. Before that yesterday, same 6AM, I was able to edit the last several pages of Draft 2 of Kill The Television. Draft 2 saw plenty of chopping and rearranging. I have this thing, over-attachment issues I guess you’d call them. It makes me do things the hardest way possible. Like in High School, I almost didn’t graduate, it was half way through senior year I was behind two or three whole courses. My Mom had married this douchebag and moved us forty-five minutes away from my school. A newly received drivers license brought that extra boost of freedom, so senior year was spent in a abominable haze.

One day I was sleeping it off in the basement in Winterset. The door opened and down the steps came real Dad. I don’t remember what he said. It was something about school and how there was a possibility I wouldn’t graduate. I remember I cried. Still like a kid I tried to mount some muddled defense. I’m sure I didn’t communicate the why very well, and oddly enough I realized as my tears dried, and my heart slowed down, he was embarrassed too, by making me cry, everything. A double frustration being misunderstood and embarrassed. Point of the wander is I ended up taking several community college courses, along with a full load through regular high school. During lunch I would have to go in do all these assignments and readings at once. And since I felt like I was being challenged, that the tempo was finally turned up, I tore through the material. I remember the counselor, how she felt like a breath of fresh air, looked and talked to me like a human being. Smiling, teasing me that I was too smart to be in this position.

I think I’m doing the same thing with my writing. I feel very little impetus, outside perhaps this blog, and a few of the other things that have come up, to actually distribute what I am working on. I’m becoming a hoarder of words and novels. I have hard time objectively evaluating whether or not they are any good, a feeling which grows as they reach a stage of completion. I feel like I’m achieving some balance in the editing and writing question, but the retail end still doesn’t seem clear or obvious. It sounds corny, but its true, I don’t work well with others. I started with a writing group, attended a meeting. Was invited back to submit my work, did, read and prepared comments for all the other members, but then when the day the second meeting came, I cancelled like a dickhead. I don’t even know why. I liked all the other authors. They were friendly and entertaining. I liked the meetings too, enjoyed myself, enjoyed reading their stories. That Wednesday I was tired from the routine, and noise, and other things, and I just bailed out. I sent an email apologizing, mea culpa. The response was beyond understanding, so not a huge deal, but I’m just noting the self-sabotaging aspect of my personality.

Writing is my goal and dream and I think I shouldn’t be waiting for the real Dad to come stomping down the stairs telling me to get my shit together. That’s my point. You got to be great for yourself, in whatever way fits you. That’s the lesson. Be a hard case if you got to be, just don’t lie about it, to yourself or others. 7:36AM

9:52AM Breakfast sausage, eggs, hot coffee, doughnut bites Britney made last night. Me and the gang wrestle. My kids learn to take bumps at twelve months. They play there part well. I’ll be Apocalypto or whoever, get one, rassle him down. Then bro comes flying in with an elbow drop, freeing the other guy. They battle in combo. I teach them the art of fake wrestling, just real enough to make it work, but not real enough to hurt. They do pretty good at it, most the time. Eventually someone will get hurt, a missed grabbed, twisted up in some legs. We stop the show, dust off, and usually go back to it. Mom likes it but doesn’t quite get it. I snatched her exposed leg at one point, go zombie. It inflames the pirate gang. The kick, and smack trying to save Mommy from the Zombie Daddy, to no avail…

Reading: Robert Galbraith Career of Evil

This great song….

Led me to this great song…

Morning Stream

Middle of the night Kein, 4 yrs old, made a run for Mom and Dad’s bed, because it was “so comfortable” The several attempts included a potty break and snuggles from Mom. He does the stiff hand on the bed karate chop, his face coming through the shadows, “I just want to sleep in your bed.” Cute, infuriating. Parenthood.

Woke up to this article, from New York Post titled “Cops arrest knife-wielding clown who chased teen on subway.” I suggest you read it. Take a good look at the picture of the guy. Think about It for a second. Seems to be three options, all of which make me uncomfortable. First one, the money motive. Someone is paying these people to do these pranks, which are actually crimes. The second the perpetrators themselves get off on the act of scaring other people, and the attention, maybe like veteran-clowns down on their luck (the guy was 53).  A version of number two, these people are attentions seeking individuals and really, really, stupid. Or lastly these may just be demon infested, killers clowns from outer space. The second seems the most likely  one and scariest of all. The perpetrators are just like fractured, arrested-development weirdos who don’t get that they’re endangering themselves and others.

There was something about how well that guy was put together that makes me think it’s not number two though. I know crazy people can dress snappy, but its the subtlety of the outfit that gets me. Perfect clown get-up, but blended with the large coat into a grey-man everyday look. Allowing him to get to his stage, before his mission was blown. It’s not over the top. It seems attention seeking, thrill seekers, would want to go for a little more flair in the act.

Couple kids put a school on lock down in my city a couple weeks back dressing up as clowns. My six year old came home talking about the clowns which were scaring everybody. The neighbor kids had been hyping them up. I wanted to write this Literary Theory type of Essay, in the draft I started I titled it The Thin-Line Between Fact & Fiction”. The basic premise was because of how much artificial entertainment the average person ingested in a day through TV and computers, that they now spent more time in that artificial environment then the real, natural world. But further, that if we could sort of transport ourselves over there, what was to say those things couldn’t, and didn’t push back. Stephen King who has made several of these meta-moves in his own work is an interesting way to look at this. The merger of literature and film itself seems to be one of these processes of manifesting the imagination, and he definitely played a role there as well.

The point of all of it was to suggest maybe we need to sober up, dry out. Give our legs a stretch. Get out of the frontal lobe. Dive down into our bones, our heels. That we were losing something, merging with something else. Something that would dehumanize us. The clowns are scary. I also saw this video the other day, about this even more real knife attack in a New York subway. Someone had videoed it on their phone. The men wrestle and then one of them beings stabbing. People clear out, except for the random straggler who tries to scoot passed the scene. The guy who is stabbing has an accomplice, who tells the people who half try to intervene to “keep moving”.

Well, that’s all before the coffee. Take away point, watch your back! Think about things. I think they call it “situational awareness”. See subtle signs of clown gear, make sure you smile at the guy , and look him in the eye. Make sure he’s one of the good ones. And like the guy in other video said, “keep moving”, everything is okay. Not really. That came off a little menacing. I apologize.

Snippets 74


The Complete Book of Aquarian Magic-Marin Green

Secrecy adds a great deal of power to magical work, and though it is vital to be completely open and honest with any companions in the work, it is equally important not to brag about your magical interests. If you do show off, turning up to fancy dress parties in your robes, or making charms for people to affect others, or dabbling in the affairs of those who have not asked for help, you will soon wind up reaping the whirlwind you have sown. If you have any psychic abilities, but have not learned the skill of ‘switching them off’, you will be prey to all manner of unpleasant experiences, all gleaned from unexplored aspects of your own nature–nothing from outside will ‘come and get you’: It is all there within you already. (110)

Platform of the No-Vote Party


It feels like a dirty thing to say, half of me loves that, the other half is embarrassed, but since Obama Part 1, I am firm member of the No-Vote Party. There are fairly elaborate Constitutional, Legal and Natural Rights based theories that I could offer in support of this position. I instead, as an artist, will turn to analogy and metaphor. Move to a new house and discover two gangs own your neighborhood, they employ basic strong-arm tactics pay us a fee, and we will protect you from the other guys. Both gangs seem to have equal force, and they have established a Mafia strong hold for decades. You can pledge either gang and receive a sort of pass, you won’t be directly targeted, but because it’s a gangland, things aren’t that great. And the amount of the pay-off is always changing, and sometimes the street level guys grab your wife around the shoulders, ask her if she wants go get a drink. And you got to send your kids to the gang’s school, where both gangs send their kids, and before you know it they come home pledging a party line. You get the idea. This is the American political structure. To participate is insanity. The only option is to withdraw consent and run.

On purely Democratic ground the No-Vote party is the strongest, with almost 60% of the population, made up of mainly non-white poor people. I’m basically white, but doubly poor, so I still feel an accepted member. There are some unfavorable sorts, felons I mean, but at least they are interesting and know how to hold their liquor. There are no other collective platforms or beliefs of the No-Vote Party. I would like to suggest the somewhat literary mascot and slogan, from Melville’s Bartleby, “I would prefer not to.” Much like the ingenious character I suggest a similar course. Stay but withdraw your will. Withdrawal your will from a system run by crooks and liars, by wealthy special interest groups, by big money that doesn’t care about you, or this land. I would like to hope the compatriots in the No-Vote party feel the same. Realistically, I know that apathy fuels this majority, but I like to think it is an apathy produced by the realization that every four years this farce of a choice is played out with the same exact names and faces and agenda. All a sane person can do is sit back and say boldly, “I’d prefer not.”


Stood Up


8:37 Night thoughts. Got stood up on our first showing. Was scheduled late like 71:15-7:45PM. Drove around for half an hour with Dante and Cujo Corvette pumping, hot anxious breath on my neck and back. Since having kids, driving at night, or just in general being out at after darj, always feels strange, surreal. The night hides things, people. I like it. Made me blue though.

I pick it apart, realize that it’s nothing in particular even just the chemical deposit of blue. Nighttime, my thoughts tends to get sadder, less self-assure then during the daytime. Almost felt like manufacturing nostalgia, maybe like the good part of the trip of nostalgia. My house all cleaned and shined up, kids chilling before bedtime. The way Cujo perfectly fits on the landing of the stairs, that I finished one day, years too late, with pallet wood painted blue. He lays out on it perfectly calm, flat, a living effigy mound.

Tell Britney its not the house that’s special, but the family. She says that’s right. Ultimately that’s true, but then why did I stand at the top of those steps before I locked up and say an Our Father and a Hail Mary, and do the sign of the Cross, and then hold my hand on my heart, and then rubbed the wall next to me, told it thank you for housing and protecting my family, that I would make sure it found someone nice. No offense.

Truth is though, there’s no turning back. The shipped has sailed on the moving goal. One way or another, Lord willing, that is the plan. Life has no guarantees, I know. A passing feeling of blue, a sense of security, they are not goals which ultimately satisfy, I note. I need my hands in the dirt. Need some space of my own outdoors, where my family and I can embrace a lifestyle we yearn for. As I drove down a road in the country, I smelled burning leaves. I thought about the fire tender sitting out there, enjoying the cool fall air. Made me appreciate the choice we were making. There was power and place on the road too. My blood and genes seemed to nod in recognition. You’ve been without home before, it’s okay, move, there’s another place down the road. 9:01PM

Morning Thoughts with One Flew Over the Cuckkoo’s Nest

The country home accepted our offer, even stated they would let us rent or occupy in the interim of the loan being finalized, while we make necessary improvements if needed. Now we just have a house to sell. Feeling good about that. Woke up with headache. It gets in my eyeballs, cold pressure helps. So does thinking through it.

Reading Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, great book, scary as shit really. One of my deepest fears is being institutionalized, committed, held against your will, for being a little weird. I saw the movie when I was younger loved it then. The book is even better I think. I note when I read it how well they movie captured the genius of the prose. I wondered about that because I’d heard beforehand it was written from the Indian’s perspective. As an author I note how brilliantly this works in the novel, offering another space and time away from the institutional setting. Got to get outside, ain’t that the truth?
As a kid I saw it as a heroic tale, much like I assumed the heroic elements of the counter culture at first. Nurse Ratched, greatest character name ever, was the enemy. McMurphy (Nicholson) was the hero/anti-hero disturbing and over turning the oppressive social order. Only in adult times though, would it all sort of change. Of course all these details are there obvious to Kesey and his contemporaries, but not to twelve year old me in 1994. The book is an allegory, in the vein of Orwell’s Animal Farm, but also a product of the author’s time as an “orderly” at Menlo Park, California, psychiatric facility.

The first aspect opens the reader up to the question, whose running things, to what end, and how the fuck do we get off this farm? Answer, you can’t and you don’t want to. You just want to play a game. The second aspect is even more disturbing in light of Kesey’s connection to Mk-ultra programs and the powerful hallucinogenic drug LSD. In the book the specter of electric shock therapy is being supplanted by a fog of narcotics, which interestingly enough mirrors what’s taking place in the broader social situation. It’s worth noting on the surface Kesey’s book is given some credit in changing the common perspective towards crazy people and their confinement, the book in fact is a reaction to that movement itself and a deep, deep, indictment of it.

The label “conspiracy theorist” has lost its power to dismiss. I think the current presidential debacle has even the most level headed, scratching their heads and saying this is ugly. We don’t like to consider things like “the combine” and “social programming” but these things are real. Prozac. Ritalin. Valium. Morphine. These are the little knobs that Nurse Ratchet is turning trying to engineer her, and really the combine’s perfect world. We don’t like to think about it. Leave the little wizard behind his curtain he’s not hurting anyone, we like to think. The medicine cans make us a feel better, and two hots and a cot, better then nothing right? Makes me think of that Bullet With Butterfly Wings line, “despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in cage.” You can fight, but it’s a Chinese finger trap, you self exclude or your surrender, you will not change it.

So they say. Pay attention. It’s up to you. I think there are ways to fight it. Not the sort of thing you would just piddle out on the internet, I imagine. Maybe. You know they read it all, got cybertronically enhanced super-apes reading it in the basement of the Pentagon. They feed them nothing but Dubstep, Monster energy drinks, and Krispy Kreme doughtnuts. Random closing thought, Billy Corgan looks like a rehabbed, “found myself in middle-age” Voldemort. (11:30AM)

Solution Farmhouse

Life is complicated, an obvious statement, but totally true. What the hell should I do with my life? That’s the question that really seems to drive adulthood. And even when the answer to that question becomes obvious, fate and reality have a way of popping up and changing things. This isn’t always bad though. It’s more about cycling. I like to say “upcycling” and “downcycling”. I know that might seem bipolar, but it’s not. Most people don’t swing that far from the extremes. Most have a slight tendency towards positivism, or a slight tendency towards pessimism.

Just about six years ago we bought a house right in the middle of Des Moines, Iowa. It’s not a huge city, but it’s enough of a city to have a bunch of city type issues. When we started our search for a house we wanted a place out in the country, a small acreage. It was our first home, and with number one fresh out the womb, our prospects made us a little nervous. We were on a tight budget, and many places required extensive rehabilitation. We found a place on a larger lot in the city, which was large enough and nice enough, that we thought it would work. We started gardens, asparagus, berries, put hardwood floor in through the upstairs, updated the insulation, etc. Overall we loved the place and felt great about our decision.

Six years the call of the country could not be quieted. Over about the last year it got very persistent. I had scoured realty sites like, seeing cheaper properties with the land and ability to fulfill some of these dreams. A place popped up about a month ago that was too great to ignore. We saw it, tried to float a contingent deal to the sellers, they denied us. The house sold like a week later. We were bummed but recognized it was for the best. We rededicated ourselves to the sensible approach, keep paying off debt, make the best of the situation.

The dream persisted, gave it up for days but then it would come back. Kept checking out properties. As we thought about it, it seemed to us like moving was definitely the best idea. We could possibly drop ten grand off our mortgage, and get out of the larger house at a good time. All our guys are still young so not super attached to school or friends. As the subject was brought back to the forefront, the safe idea became well wait until the new year, after Winter and tax time, and I read somewhere that February was a good time to sell. But then like ten days ago, I don’t even remember the exact circumstance, but my mind, body and soul just crossed over. I realized our current house was just a place, like any other place, and it offered no more or less security then any other place. That the ultimate security I thought I needed was the umbra, a nothingness, which wasn’t really safe at all when you thought about it.

It would all be the same amount of work now or then, so why not start now and get it over with. Wife and I powwowed, got the tingle of change. Realized that we had what it takes to make our dreams come true. House in the city has been listed for a week. Started packing. Hunting farm houses. Got an offer in right now. Crazy farm house from the 1900s on 2 acres. Old and full of cobwebs, frightening carpets, yellowed wallpaper, no fridge, .22 hole in one of the windows. We’re making an offer on it. I can’t wait! (1:10PM)

Snippets 73


Ursula. K. Le Guin-Lavinia

Though people often confused it with weakness or duplicity, tact is a great quality in a ruler, whether of a country or a household; awareness of the other allows respect, and people respond to it, returning the recognition and the respect. Aeneas governed with tact, and was beloved for it. (204)