Archive for the ‘garden gnome’ Tag

Neil Strauss, Chuck Klosterman and Plastic Sheets: Musings on fear in writing   2 comments

I’m lying naked on a bed covered in plastic sheets. The bed isn’t the only thing covered in plastic.  There are coverings on all the clothing in the closet and anything else made with thread fiber. “I have fleas in my place,” Jen says to me. Not that it meant anything an hour before, shortly after a petulant conversation about contemporary music over a few beers in the darkness of her rear patio. We had met a few days before at a bar in D.C, which lead to the usual cycle of hanging out, partying and then hooking up. The walls of her room are a dull grey, and there are assorted packing boxes on the floor. Jen is leaving the city in two weeks. She smiles and rubs my chest. For some reason we start talking about writing, and I give her the summary of my conundrum; how I was losing my self-perspective as writer, and fell into that void where I kept wondering if I should continue. Her eyes sparkle and she hops off the bed with a resounding squeak.

“You should read this,” she says.

She hands me a book, Killing Yourself To Live by Chuck Klosterman. I glance at the book cover and the back, wondering who the guy with the red bowl haircut wearing heavily rimmed glasses was.

“He did a reading at Wonderland the other day,” she says to me.

The Wonderland Ballroom is probably D.C’s most famous dive bar, so this guy must have been somebody. But, like most post-coital conversations, this one felt a bit random, at the same time, the scenario had a touch of serendipity. Up to that point I’d written a few full-length manuscripts, including a hefty two hundred and fifty page behemoth that had been sitting in a desk drawer for years. I’d wanted to explore a new way to look at writing, and maybe laying naked on plastic sheets with a girl named Jen would be the genesis of that. I thought the book that she gave me would be weird, possibly interesting. I was wrong.

The book was a revelation.

I’d never read writing that was both self-deprecating and open at the same time. With his pop culture prose, Chuck weaved between stories of his life, infrequent drug use and musings on humanity in a way that felt real. What struck me more than anything was the fact that he was speaking about himself. This was a far cry from the stylized writings of Dean Koontz, Sidney Sheldon and other “movie in a book” authors I’d grown up reading. This was inner dialogue on cocaine.

As I read about his stresses over his ex-loves, the ways he would fall into emotional traps and his other thoughts while traipsing around researching why rock stars get immortalized after committing suicide (the theme of his book), a familiarity tingled in my brain, both in the style of writing and manner of delivery. Some of the things he said sounded like things I would say.

Ping. The light bulb came on.

I realized I was a similar creature, a journeyman with that particular mix of visual memory and writing ability to create scenarios from my life that weren’t an unintelligible mish mash of curse words and rambling text. I saw that there was writing out there that wasn’t just about mysterious creatures hiding in church belfries waiting to eat innocent children, that sometimes the monsters in life are right in front of us; in the mirror. A child hides from the creature under the bed because he is afraid; his mind conjures up the most grisly disgusting image imaginable, one only an adult can save him from. Likewise, many writers are afraid. Afraid to put themselves on the block, to speak the truth and let the world have its way with them. After reading Killing Yourself To Live, I couldn’t imagine doing what Chuck did; letting the world know about my personal habits, and the number of women I had slept with, among other things.

Traditionally, I always thought writing was about putting down details that spark the imagination and work the body up into a spicy lather with such lines such as:

She was a tall brunette with a lithe body and sensuous lips. At first glance, Mark felt his heart flutter as she paused in the doorway.

Lines written like this make you think of YOUR ideal brunette with a lithe body, not mine. But what If I was to write on paper the details about my ex-girlfriend’s body? Or all of my ex-girlfriends? I couldn’t fathom dishing out the dirty on Marcus Birdy. But after my foray into Chuck’s mind through his book, I realized what real writing might be. A boxer punches meat, top-class lawyers do lines of coke off supermodel’s inner thighs and actresses date their line directors. Writers write.

So I said, “Heck yeah!” and decided I’d put it all out there.

But I was afraid.

Each time I felt the fear, I imagined a little garden gnome trying to get me to do crazy things, talking in his nasal, ethereal voice. He’d be sitting on my bed, next to a Marc Jacobs travel bag.

He’d say, “Let’s go Buddy.”

I’d say, “Wait, where are we going? I need to go to work.”

The gnome would be like, “Fuck work, let’s partaaaay!” Then the gnome and I would head to numerous strip clubs, go on a shopping spree, buy his and his g-strings for our debut at the “oldies night” in a shady part of the East Village and then end up on a boat to China, singing praises to the two Ukranian women and the saucy septuagenarian who decided to tag along.  I would play guitar all the way to Beijing, where some angry coast guards would think I was somehow connected to the CIA and torture me in a dilapidated warehouse and then issue an apology the next day because they thought I had a high tech listening device safely ensconced in my aforementioned guitar.

But this would never happen because I was afraid. The kind of afraid where you are scared of being judged by your friends, your parents, your high school home room teacher, the cool neighborhood ice cream truck dude AND your grandmother at the same time. How could I write about “real” things? And (egad) sexual scenarios?

Then came Neil Strauss.

After reading, The Game, I realized that there are people out there with massive insecurities that they challenge head on and are brave enough to share all the grisly details with the world. Where Chuck had opened my mind to the reality of “me-speak”, Neil took me on a journey through what I call, “super interesting transformational journalism”. I really got to understand how he saw himself as a person, show he shattered the barriers of his negative self-perception and all the trappings that came with it.  I saw the fearlessness in his writing. It takes balls to tell the world a Porn star tried to have sex with you in a bathroom stall and you had whiskey disk.

I saw that being interesting is relative, and also that your experiences are relative to how you portray them. I researched more books and saw that there were people who wrote about sex addiction and how they overcame it, people who wrote about returning to the real world from prison, people that wrote about being abused as children and a whole slew of topics that would have a therapist booked straight through to next year.

That’s when I realized that my stories, my novels and my writing were just a drop in the ocean of a sea of creative ideas. In an extremely negative way, I had always thought my writing was “nothing” and that I “had nothing” as it related to the stuff I’d already made. I was anxious and worried about people knowing things about me or judging my writing and I didn’t even know that many people.

I was the scared little boy, hiding under the covers with a flashlight, hoping the creak creak of the wind blowing the windows wasn’t the frantic scratching of some malevolent creature only too happy to have a late night Jamaican snack.

Then I thought, maybe the plastic sheets in Jen’s bedroom were a strange microcosm of all my fears. Maybe I just needed to peel that bitch off, grab some bug spray and turn the bedroom into the O.K Corral.

A few years ago I got that book from Jen, and in a few days I’ll release my first novel Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken on Amazon. If Neil can tell people he toured with Motley Crue and only kissed Tommy Lee the entire trip, or Chuck can tell the world about his strange relationship with a girl named Lenore, maybe I can tell them something, and for a little while, let the world have its way with me too.

Sex Drugs and Jerk Chicken is now available on Amazon. For a free sample or to read the book, click here

   

New York: sOmetiMesIJustWanNaRaNT   Leave a comment

SometimesIjustWannaRant

I just noticed something funny about Megatron.
In the recent hit movie “Transformers” there is a scene where Megatron says to Disney-uber star Shia LeBouff, “Run boy!”. I had issues with this. I think he should have said, “Run fleshy man-thing!” or he should have screeched in Deceptagarble, truly making those around him quake in fear.
Either way, I haven’t been writing much lately. This makes sense to me. For the last seven weeks I have been going non-stop. Trip to France, Berlin, and now the ultimate destination: New York.
As a writer, there are the inevitable conflicts which arise in these situations.
Do I (a) go out every night in the city that never sleeps, chasing tall, blonde women for pure sport? Or do I (b) get inundated in the daytime park scene that usually leads to meeting tall, blonde women? Or do I (c) become a true New York ‘artist’, and make a splash on the underground scene in such a way that it will eventually attract droves of tall, blonde women? As you can see, in New York, there is no escape from the TBW’s!

So far, that’s my main observation. There is tall EVERYBODY here. Tall Asian women, tall blonde women seemingly from the highlands of some Eastern-European formerly-soviet-something country, tall guys, tall buildings, tall cups of coffee. It is all here.
I like the buzz—that feeling of never sleeping and existing in a twilight state. I felt this way last night. My last memories are of talking to my cousin late at night about purpose in life, while trying to decide if I should go out or not as hot brunettes kept walking past. (they were Oh-Soooooo fashionable). But, when I woke up this morning, I felt like I was in a different place. I half expected a little garden gnome to be sitting on my bed, and then a voice from that other place would be like, “Let’s go Buddy.”

I’d say, “Wait, where are we going? I need to go to work.” The gnome would be like. “Fuck work, let’s partaaaay!”. Then the gnome and I would head to numerous strip clubs, go on a shopping spree, buy his and his g-strings for our debut at the “oldies night” in a shady part of the East Village and then end up on a boat to China, singing praises to the two Ukranian women who decided to tag along(they don’t’ speak any English of course) and I would play guitar all the way to….

Beijing, where angry protestors would think I was somehow connected to the torch runners and eviscerate me in some Chinese back alley and then issue an apology the next day because they thought my guitar was a torch…. Or a harp. I think harps are banned in China too.

I’m ranting. On purpose.

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I’m still reeling from the fallout of a “sort of “ heartbreak-but-not-really situation. My creative insides are spinning all around as I think of relationships of the past and I look towards the future. New York may have millions of nubile women, (and those who really like messing around in public places) but sometimes, standing betwixt people on the train to work, or just walking through a massive crowd on a Friday at Union Square, I float away and then it’s just me… and her.

Who is she?

Maybe she’s that person I’ve always wanted. Or maybe it’s a version of myself that’s a woman, I dunno. But there she is, standing there, tall and regal, smiling at me. Her eyes tell me that she loves me, and her body responds with touches, kisses and dirty feels. She is mine and I am hers. Then the image ripples and fades, and the real world returns. I’m standing in the middle of a crowd that I don’t’ know. Faces of all hues and compositions walk past, and there, I am truly alone.
That’s when the Gnome appears again, and we raid a Borders book store and argue with women wearing tattoos about the “destruction of the female temple” or some junk.
At this point the gnome would say, “Let’s hit up a strip club.” Then I’d say “No, we have to end this relationship. Its not healthy.” The gnome would then say, “Wow. I really thought we had something here. All those moments shopping, stripping and us in the g-strings getting grabbed by those senile old women who think we were theie boyfriends from the 1930’s. Those moments meant something to me.”
The gnome would want to cry but he couldn’t, simply because he’s a figment of my imagination. I’d go back to reading my books about global warming and start worrying about having a family that will eventually burn—not in God’s hellfire—but man’s sunfire.

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Then I wake up, and my rant is blissfully over. I go to the kitchen and make tasteless eggs and eat them with equally tasteless bread. I look to the sky when I walk outside and say, “today, will be a good day.”

Then I stub my toe on a hydrant and shout. “ Ooooohhh fuckkk!!!”

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Happy Camping.

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