Thursday, May 5, 2011
Somewhere Over the New Jersey and Writing Good...
I thought it was clever, and probably a good move that they did not use that song in Wizard of Oz, but perhaps Newark was a different place then, and not as dingy cramped as it is today – I just spent three days and two nights in the Hilton Newark Penn Station staring at a giant inflatable rat that proclaimed I would carry home a suitcase full of bedbugs and have massive issues from my visit there. Alas, to this point, I have yet to break out in rashes and hives, and considering the surroundings, the Hilton was a Mecca compared to the rest of the city. I am not quite sure why Newark was chosen – perhaps because it is an easy airport with quick access and close to the big city, perhaps it was convenient, I just don’t know. I like to think it was because of the homeless folks that trolled the walkway between the train station and the hotel looking for a random Midwesterner to pickpocket. Lesson to be learned all around…funny, I have never been infested with bed bugs, never been pick pocketed, and to this point, have been close to homeless, but not quite there. Close is a relative term – I did get evicted from the trailer park in college, and did have to live with the owner of the bar on a couch, or hiding out in my girlfriends room lest her roommates see me (that girlfriend eventually became my wife, then my ex-wife, and just like our relationship started, I ended up hiding out and sleeping on her couch again…) Full circle. The next 1,612 words are so are about nothing in particular – so, if pressed for time, feel free to read the first and last sentence of each paragraph, there will not be a test, and remember, none of us are getting paid for this.
That’s not where I started this piece, but if felt good to get at least that point of reference out there, right now I am buzzing along at 500 miles per hour somewhere close to one of the great lakes – I can see the shoreline out the window, and am on my way to Seattle, via Minneapolis. The flight attendant on this flight is one of those all too attractive flight attendants – she has been quick with a smile, and even laughed at my half hearted attempt at travel humor (something about the snack pack with the non-perishable meat and the vegetable oil spread that she probably has heard innumerable times from innumerable middle aged fat guys like myself) and went about her business tending to the rest of us folks looking to go somewhere fast. It is not often that I actually talk on these flights. I, like most of us business people who jet from there to here, tend to keep to myself. Occasionally, I do get one person who wants to discuss their most recent groin surgery, and why they really should be more careful about not getting a window seat, or their drug addicted relative who just needed an intervention and how they saved them from sure fire death by flying to where ever from some small town in Texas to bring multiple week long doses of biblical wisdom and hugs. Most days though, we are all quiet. It is not a social club – flying that is, it is a get out of town club for those of us that do it a lot – we are done being social by the time we get through the x-ray machine. Its nothing personal, it just is. I think I used to be more social, and certainly after a five hour flight to Seattle, nine drinks, and a chicken or pasta meal served lukewarm, I am a little more social – but for the most part, I just keep my mouth shut, and hope the snack pack does not make me too gassy…
Describing beautiful women is not something that I am well versed at. I know in my stomach when I see someone who is physically beautiful, I know when I speak to someone who is engaging, creative, smart, and mentally attractive. I just don’t get much practice sitting down and talking or writing about their hair and eyes and figure and the way they speak and those sorts of things. It is a weakness, and a point of embarrassment for me to sit down and describe the exact color of brown that her eyes are, or the way her cheeks flush when she smiles or laughs, or the way she arches her back when she stretches in the morning. Some people are really good at comparing eyes to an obscure body of water or some geological formation or one of those colors in the Crayola box that I melted on the radiator right away because Brick or Burnt Sienna didn’t mean shit to me. Spun silk and flax and all kinds of exotic fibers just rush right by me when describing hair and I would never think to liken the stretching to a cat sunning itself in the window. I mean those folks who are able to describe in detail down to the creases in her lips and the jaw line – they are good folks. They practice. I am the impressionistic writer. I say general things – and hope you can paint the rest of the damn picture. If not, stand back, you are looking too close and can only see the dots. I see beautiful (physically beautiful) women everyday. Some of them ruin it by talking, but most of them, I never get close to. That’s the way I like it. I am lucky enough to be close to a woman who is, to me, beyond beautiful – see, that’s not a very good explanation – actually, the first thought that came to my mind is that she is beautiful like clean laundry – you know, the smell of the dryer that fills the house, the warm towel, the soft dry sheets – and hell, now I have everyone thinking that I have some sort of odd washcloth fetish, and randomly apologizing to my girlfriend. But that’s what I think about when I think of describing someone – particularly someone who affects me in that way – I don’t think of the actual physical attribute – but the way it makes me feel – for instance, if I were to tell you that when she looks at me, I feel like I do when I take the first sip of a good glass of Cabernet – the sweet warm feeling in my throat, the comforting slow relaxation, easing shoulders – I think you could fill in the blanks about what you thought she looked like. If I said to you that when we argue, I am confused, sort of like when you turn around and your child is not where they are supposed to be, or you cannot find your wallet, you know that 99% of the time there is going to be a solution, but what if there was no solution this time – I think you could sense what that feeling is like. If I described her walk to you as strong, proud, and graceful as a field of poppies blowing in the wind – you could paint the rest of the picture – if I actually tried to tell you how she walked – holy shit, even she would be insulted by the attempt.
I sent my blog link off to a group called Aspiring Authors on Facebook. It looked like I was the first blog to post there, seeking some guidance, advice, maybe connect with one or two folks who were in the same boat I was in – middle aged, balding, and hopelessly putting words on the paper – I think I got one of the three right – but at least, and thankfully, I did get some guidance on something that I have never been a real stickler for – the grammar and proofing and spelling and you know – the stuff that makes writing work – and I certainly appreciate it. I did come to a conclusion about that stuff – I have the utmost respect for the people who can sit down and see instantly what should be crafted to make things sensible and clear. I don’t do that. In fact, I cannot do that. Somewhere, in my neural network, the wires are crossed between make things right, and make things. In fact, I probably would have a hell of a lot more children – they would just be unruly, undisciplined children, given the opportunity to procreate more than I already have. I am good at making things. I never have been good at making things right. My model aircraft carrier was the only one with a ships propeller on the helicopter and the helicopter propeller moving the ship. See, in my mind, the bigger the propeller, the faster the ship. My Lincoln log houses never had four walls. I always ran out of the right pieces, and besides, three really really big walls are significantly better than four strong walls to keep the imaginary bad guys at bay. My math problems always had an answer – just typically the wrong answer. I was smart enough to get it close enough to partial credit my way through college calculus, geometry, high school math, and I am pretty sure that I still have not memorized the 11’s and 12’s on the multiplication table from third grade.
Let me make this clear – writing is not easy. Writing well and using all of the correct things and stuff – well that’s just plain tough. Those folks at Aspiring Authors (they were complimentary, and it made me feel good) had to have been reaching for their air sick bags when they got a hold to my artistic endeavors. For this, I thank them. I have rarely, if ever, been read by a large audience, let alone a large educated audience. I certainly have never been complimented by anyone in New York City, except for when I held the door for some lady who packed eleven bags for her weekend trip to Times Square. Most of all, I have never had anyone actually take the time to read more than one blog entry, and not only comment, but edit in a non-obtrusive way without changing the feeling of the piece – that’s what my crack head friends call “really good shit” – and not to downplay their help with a crude joke, I certainly appreciate it. I would recommend anyone to join the group – who knows, the great author may be hiding out in cyberspace.
That’s my thanks. I think that is enough thanks, but hell, I am not sure anymore about what is enough gratitude and what crosses the line of patronizing babble infused with sweetened bullshit nuggets. (I like that new phrase and am officially claiming “sweetened bullshit nuggets” as my own platitude and way of describing things that may or may not have a direct correlation to things that someone may or may not mention in the near future – to my knowledge sweetened bullshit nuggets is now officially my intellectual property – and to hell with the next person who steals such a wonderful catch phrase. I want to now be addressed and known as the guy who coined the phrase “I just served up a bowl of sweetened bullshit nuggets, and still got the job “ – I can see the SNL parody commercial now, maybe I should go ahead and hire an attorney).
I threw in the title of the piece just for them – my sense of humor tempering my gratitude – hell, I know it’s supposed to be good writing and writing well, but then again, I should get at least partial credit for trying…
Until next time,