How do you write?

Hi, so how do you write?

Overheard at last year’s Blogger Convention. Blogicon.

Well that was a joke.
Completely ridiculous.
As far as I know, such a gruesome convention does not exist, and furthermore, I can’t imagine anyone brazenly tasteless enough to enact such an ill-fated pick-up line.
Well, almost anyone.

I’m very intrigued by individual writing practices. We (bloggers) live in an environment of authorial free-for-all; the blogosphere is an unregulated and anarchical textual wasteland. I’d love to know how these people, these bloggers, integrate their blog’s ultimate expression (and its practical fulfillment) into their life and the nitty gritty process disguised behind the words they eventually transpose to the digital billboard.

I suppose if I was more social I might have asked, by now, howthey approach this. How do they embark upon the journey that results in a post? I only know the journey that is my own. But I think it’s important for the typical blogger to be cognizant of his working style, of its strengths and shortcomings. Judging by how many fly-by-night blogs I see flaring into brilliant supernova deaths, I suspect many people mistake the urge to write for the simultaneous drive to populate a blog with their ramblings. Maintaining a blog requires an entirely different skill set than that which enables one to just write. It requires a nominally glamorous, artistic and creative ethic that supplies the hard work and sweat that enables one’s words to find life in a blog’s regular fruition. I think this is why many bloggers fail or surrender. They are unaware of the limitations of their own writing habits which ultimately are but a mere portion of a diligent personality’s ability to marry the creative and the practical into a cohesive whole.

The creative nature of writing can falter when it’s confronted with the dreary, rigorous chore of writing and refining the final product. For instance, my writing on AUM is unrehearsed and completely absent of formal outline or structure. I generally set out to write a post with an idea in mind. Sometimes the idea is more detailed than others, but I always have, at the very least, a vague notion of what I will write about. If the idea strikes me in the morning, it brews in my skull all day while I’m pushing the paper at work. During which time my mind is also free to generate new, peripheral ideas or concepts which slowly accumulate throughout the day like bad breath. Often, by the time I get home, the post is generally pretty spelled out in my mind by the time I start tapping the keys. In such cases, it’s a matter of giving life to the ideas and reforming them in blocks of prose. I know the subject of what I’m writing and the only unknown is how it’s expression will be verbally formulated.

And there are times the idea rattling in my head is distantly vague. It’s not until I begin typing that the idea assumes the form of the words I type; in fact, the act of setting down words acts as a perpetuating device which gives rise to new ideas, many of them offshoots of the original one. Essentially, the act of writing acts to induce creativity.

As you can see, the common denominator in both cases is my sense of disorganization and spontaneity. I don’t rely on structure, I don’t outline my thoughts, I don’t strategize posts. For me, the act of writing takes place when my fingers furiously tap out keystrokes. Once again, it returns to my style and subject matter, which is invariably a subjective stream of observations lacking semblance of structure or forethought. Very few of my posts abide by any sort of attributional structure. It’s not often I cite facts or case studies because most of my posts are merely observational or personal interpretations. In this respect, my writing is less methodical than a person whose blog is centered around figures, statistics, or peer-related factoids.

My point is that I’ve allowed my writing style and writing habits to create a unification of expression in my posts; I’ve stumbled upon an accidental synchronicity. If I were to suddenly embark on a series of factual posts which rely on gritty scientific and objectively based interpretations, with references to match, I could not continue to practice the same writing habits I do now. The disjunction would spell certain failure.

A blogger must be aware of the limits of his writing style. This is why I believe “how do you write?” is a very important consideration which fledgling bloggers must be prepared to confront. And if your style does not match the mechanics you choose for your creative expression, you need to adjust one or the other.

Friday night ironies

Well, it’s Friday night and I decided to stay home.
Of course, this is no different.

No different than the other, what, 50 or so Fridays each year. I’m always home on Friday night.
Therein lies my trickery of human expression and suggestibility. Curious, isn’t it?

For I made a simple and neutral statement: “It’s Friday, I decided to stay home.”
The sentence has no overt intention other than to declare an indisputable fact. I decided to stay home this fine Friday evening.

Ah, keeping in mind the sentient party-animals that we are thus born and raised, we likewise tend to atribute and endow observations and statements with surreptitious symbolisms and inferred meanings. We fill in the blanks.

My statement, “it’s Friday, I decided to stay home” is suddenly inflated and hoisted above our metaphysical shoulders and the assumption is that I chose to stay home tonight as opposed to going out; I chose to stay here. The inference is plainly obvious, for it’s a common perception (and even a desire) that a single man, will not, under normal circumstances, choose to stay home on a Friday night. It’s the penultimate expression of “life” or whatever the hell is in keeping with the sacrament of single-living Friday night splendor. And my statement, while superficially innocuous, is subtly distorted into a mirrored counter-assumption that by choosing to stay in, I am in fact departing from a routine (which is left unsaid) in which I go out on Fridays. Even though that is not the case!

“It’s Friday, I decided to stay home.”
The missing piece of the puzzle, the mysterious piece that you don’t consider until it’s spelled out for you because you are so enshrouded in the all-consuming mentality that Friday night obligates one, within the context of normal human social drives, to exit the house in search of booze and women, or barring that degree of wildness, at least a movie and popcorn, maybe dinner….the missing piece that I left out is:
“As I always choose to do on Friday nights.”

Ya see!?

This broadens the concept and lets sneak in the unanticipated revelation that I have no life.
My simple statement, worded so ambiguously that it captivated and deluded normal perception and interpretation, really was just the tip of the iceberg that is my stunted social life. The iceberg which lurks coldly beneath the water’s calm surface.

So I decided to stay in tonight after going out to eat dinner, that is. I went to a popular area Mexican restaurant (of course, there is not much else in my neck of the woods). In this part of L.A., you either got Mexican or you got Chinese. There is a smattering of other foods, but your choice essentially will be sandwiched between the wildly divergent selections of eggrolls or taquitos.

So I ate my dinner alone at a small table in the bar of a crowded Mexican restaurant. If you choose to eat alone, especially on a Friday night, you better have a courageous ego or you risk awkward self-consciousness. I know a couple of people who refuse to do anything alone. They will not eat out alone, will not see a movie alone. I can’t relate. Not when I choose to do as much as possible while alone. I can’t comprehend this urge to surround oneself with people at all times (or rather, I can’t understand the abhorrence certain people have of the state of aloneness). So I sat at the table and observed, because that is what I am…The Observer. I study human nature and I feel most placid when I am able to witness the madness of human interaction from a displaced distance, close enough to engage the aura but far enough to avoid its capture. While sitting in a restaurant with the after-work coed bustle of dinner happenings buzzing along, you note one thing: people talk a lot. Talk and talk and talk and talk. Talk with no end. It’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to listen, much less participate. Many times after I leave work, my lips and jaws are drained from the day’s verbal demands and I literally can’t bring myself to open my lips to utter more than a few lazy utterances in the evening. Picking up the phone can be excruciating.

The option is to get rid of it.

Hmmm, that’s an enticing thought.
Actually, the idea of throwing my cell phone down the sewer drain is both exciting and frightening. The possibility is invigorating but intimidating. We’ve become attached to our cellphones, even if we don’t use them. We have become attached to them in the way we are attached to an appendage, a body part that is retained merely for the sake of false biological impetus, like an appendix. I’m speaking for myself, of course. I realize there are many whose lives revolve around the phone…mine doesn’t. I might find it pleasing to live a phoneless life. I’ve forgotten my phone at home a few times and there is something ascetically appealing in the empty-pocketed sensation of phonelessness and the promise of day long silence, and the knowledge that there is no possibility this quiet flow will be interrupted by the persistent invocation of my cell phone. Not to mention, that’s an extra 40 or 50 dollars each month I’d be saving. It’s tempting but there is always the “emergency” unknown. This world we live in…the promise of life or death, skirting the edge of disaster, gravitates around us all day long. Our phones have become a lifeline. I find it peculiar that our mentality has shifted thus far toward the acceptance of cell phones as savior, as rescuer and security blanket. Much of my life overlapped those recent eras in which we happily existed in the absence of the cell phone teat…if you needed to make a call or thought there was a chance you might, you carried extra change because pay phones were plentiful, however disgustingly sticky and slimy they may have been. Without the cell phone, life is less sure, less controlled, more vast. Unexpected nooks and crannies await in the unseen darkness of existence.

It’s tempting.

Nerd humor

Much of my life has been an ongoing, tumultuous battle in which I’ve sought to exorcise my inner nerd.

Battling valiantly to prove and boldly display my un-nerdiness, to flaunt my amazing coolness in the hopes its mammoth nature would overshadow the slightest iota or trace of nerdiness in my soul.

I did all I could.
I raped, I pillaged, I fought, I conquered, I smoked, I drank, I scratched my balls in front of strangers. All with the ostensible aim to convince the global anti-nerd community that I, in fact, was anything but a nerd.

But sometimes, as they say, it is what the hell it is.
You are a nerd. Deal.
It is not the worst fate.
And if you can accept a life of mutually shared disgust with the cool crowd you once thought you were a part of, if you can accept a life of mentally imprisoned isolation as you whittle away the hours indulging in whatever little pathetic mind or dexterity exercise you happen to be fond of, then you are home free.

I fought it. I somehow deluded myself into believing that I was cool and hip. When I actually cared about being hip and being cool.

Well. I don’t care now. I can’t begin to convey the sense of liberation I experienced as I slowly shed the “cool” affectation and finally accepted that which I was, and in fact, learned to embrace it while discovering a sense of strength and power in this new essence. Power and pride, that’s right.
Nerd Pride. Nerd Power.

Whatever, I’m a big fucking nerd, always have been.
I’m a brown nerd. I’m a big time Mexi-nerd, ese vato.

That’s right you bastards, nerds come in brown too and sometimes they have crappy looking facial whiskers and broad-ass mestizo features.

Aztlan Nerd.
Ha, what a tremendously messed up blog name that would be. But oh so perfunctorily cool in its own self-loathing way.
So my nerdiness…it has suffused my very soul since I was a young child.
I was plagued by that typical nerdy aloofness, that nerdy sense of intellectual impropriety. That Goddamn brainy brawn which cannot be contained, the kind of cranial overload that will eventually trip your mental wires and escape out your mouth in a wave of awkward and clueless blathering which no one in the world (of normal or lesser intelligence) can possibly identify with.

Nerdiness is bandied about and there are so many on-the-fly definitions, I don’t know what the hell a nerd is anymore. Seems there are distinctions to be made. You have the nerd, the geek, the dork, the dweeb. But the nerd is the prototypical classification and standard model, in my mind, of the socially inept miscreant who is nevertheless endowed with a tremendous intellect which alienates him from most people. The nerd’s predicament is the grand circular chicken or egg quandary.

Is the nerd’s intellect the basis of his social dysfunction?
Or is the social dysfunction a precursor to his keen mind which he was forced to sharpen in the absence of a redeeming social life?

You know something. Does it matter?
A nerd is a stain upon mankind and sadly I’ve come to realize I am part of that stain, that big brown shit-colored stain.

I’m the 7-year-old kid who, sitting in a room with a bunch of cool teenagers, suddenly piped in, when the conversation steered me onto this imbecilic course, that “bees and wasps are frequently attracted to bright yellow colors” and sat smugly as the room fell silent for wont of anything befitting a response, cool or not. The teenaged conversation continued as if this minor transgression on the little kid’s part was nothing but a disturbing gnat on the surface of the big ass of coolness they were molding. That’s me, the nerd, sticking my foot in it at ever opportunity. Always piping in my awful 2 cents, wanting to be heard; which for the most part is pretty anonymously harmless, that is, until the age of bloggery. Now my nerdiness has the opportunity to be displayed in all its blubbering and conspicuous glory to the global audience. Well, you know, theoretically.

But what I wanted to talk about, briefly, was the concept of nerd humor.
This is what drove the point home. Nerd humor is why I know I’m a nerd. It seems I share the same jolly, humorously disengaged frivolity that other nerds amuse at when an object of mutually approved comic nature arises.

There is a nerdish sense of humor I’ve learned that only nerds can appreciate. You’ll frequently spot a group of 2 or more nerds laughing self-consciously and too loudly at a joke they just traded which tickles only their fancy. Not yours, not anyone else’s. Nerds have those really atrocious laughs, as well; it sounds like a breathless but vocally bloated unsocialized yelp which cuts like a goat’s bleat.

Nerd humor is…special.
It is a different brand of humor and I frequently find myself laughing alone with the only other nerd in the room.
Nerd humor is quite unlike the emotionally and socially elevated humor most find entertaining. Common humor is born of cultural dissonances which permeate society. This common sort of humor derives its comic quality from the commonly perceived interactions which the majority of people can relate to and experience first hand and which speak directly to inner flashes of recognition on the part of the listener. For that is humor…recognition. The discovery that the joke speaks of a historical exchange within the social history which has taken place within the murky pool of one’s mind. This humor may be linear and reside at a relatively superficial layer in the stratification of comprehension required to “get” it. Most popular comedians indulge in this obvious humor, and in some cases, the extreme superficiality only signifies that the comic’s jokes are but lazy trite jabs at that which the audience can recognize in the sleepy and dusky mental fogginess of its pop culture indoctrination. .

Nerd humor is twisted; not in the common sense of the word, but “twisted” as in unemotionally stringent manner which is only lightened by a self-contained sense of flippancy. Nerd humor is frequently centered around material objects and mechanical concepts which elude humanistic nuance. Nerd humor presupposes a grand sense of holistic understanding of the joke’s esoteric context before the punch line is delivered, a context which only a nerdish-minded person can find the least bit amusing. Or worthy of note. See, this is where nerd humor crumbles for most people…the presupposition which fuels the joke requires intensive innate awareness and ingenuity which will bore most people who will view it as pointless or stupid. Thus unequipped, they lack the desire to build the foundation upon which the joke must rest. So if you have difficulty arousing even amusement from the pre-punch line situational hypothesis, the nerd joke will fall flat.

When George Lopez jokes about the popularized ostensible traits of a Mexican family, it is rather easy for the listener to manufacture the commonly perceived racial reality they have acquired through the medium of pop culture in order to make the joke work. Little mental effort is expended as the jokes have minimal layers of obtuseness between the presupposition and the punch line.

When Mitch Hedberg, one of my favorite “nerd-oriented” comics, talks about Bigfoot being blurry (really being blurry) as the reason for all the blurrry photos, the presupposition requires extra mental gymnastics many aren’t prepared to engage in. Nerd humor essentially assumes that you have already absorbed the underlying sense of irony ingrained in our existence and that the jokes will require little work on your part in order to arrive at the presupposed irony.

Dispirited Man

 

If it was possible to split-frame a specific portion of my life, of my day, I think the most curious contrast would be the one of days like today in which you intertwine my morning saunter as I head to work next to the conjoined scene of my departure from work later the same day. The morning frames portray my robust enthusiasm as I spring to work, an offensive virility bristling in my stride. Each movement issuing from my morning essence would be optimistic and freshly enthusiastic. In the adjoining scene, the evening frame would show me trudging up the evening stairs to my parked car. Slow, devoid of spark, tapered, neutered, a fizzling ember. Is this the same person?

 

Such was today.

 

I had an excellent Day 3 work out in the morning, and on the heels of a good night’s sleep I was set to defy natural physical laws and levitate to work. Which might have been preferable to the drive but the FAA bureaucracy denied me. I literally bounded out the apartment and drove to work ablaze with a demented fiery optimism. When I arrive at work in such a mood, I’m possessed of an incessant loop of witticisms and obnoxious spontaneity (in fact, I’m positive I’m pretty damned intolerable at such times) and there is no corporate prison factory in existence that can subdue me in that state abandon.

 

The day passes. Life passes. Happens and passes.
People pass through my daily stage. Events fly by, pained expressions, shitty timing, off-putting behaviors…
The day marches by lazily and leaves a putrid bloody trail in its wake.

 

You trudge up the concrete stairs and the despondent weight of the fleeting evening sits heavy on your shoulders. Burdens the soul. You scale the last flight, walk to your car, realize it hasn’t been cleaned in months. And you know what? You don’t care. You start the car and drive away, another day. You mind is awash in secluded thoughts and pensive ironies and you wonder how.
How can it be?
How can this morning’s raging fire have been extinguished so abruptly and thoroughly that now you are but a cold ashen figment of obligatory reality, winding serpentine-like through the cogs of the daily clock and how you wonder.

 

Along the way, on the tireless urban road, a mind thinks and it ponders. It cultivates inner deliberation.
Words, phrases hammer in the silence of the mute car.

 

Dispirited
A most depressing word and pseudonym for the demon of spiritual death.

 

To be dispirited is to lose the Self. To lose the vibrancy of a yearning heart after it is trampled to death by the errant chores and vicissitudes of a normal day.
Aspirations and confidence rendered barren and obsolete.
You can be dispirited over a period of life, week, day. An hour. In youth we are optimistic and hopeful; in old age, cynical and crushed by the bleak condemnations of a life discarded.

 

In the car, I thought.
I am. Dispirited.
I feel as if I’ve left the scintillating and golden cast of my former self in the furnace of my faltering sense of glory. This morning, yesterday, 20 years ago, persistently the sense of lost glory. The sour taste of spiritual abandonment and seclusion.

 

Dispirited. Which gripped me this evening. I lost something. Something was taken from me. The most personally endearing item, a prized possession: trust. For one’s dispirit can only be wrought at the hands of other people, of events, of groups, of social structures, of common attitudes. Tragic is the fate of the hopeful enthusiast. Dispiriting is the nature of man who must contend with hordes of his fellow man. The natural human inclination is to dispirit and sap the outstanding and noteworthy optimism from the hopeful like a leech. Cherish your dreams for they will not be long if you must do battle with the dreamless. Hopelessness is like a heavy magnet which draws ethereal hope into the deep abyss; there can be no hope if you insist on a smile. Like a sunbathed mountain peak, a smile is a challenge to be conquered.

 

The day will dispirit; life will dispirit and damper the rigors of your fiery enthusiasm.

 

In the car, dispirited.
Not quite as I was in the morning.
Spirit relinquished the stage to bland inconsequential purgatory.

 

Oppressive cloud of humanity
It’s every way. Here, there, every which damn way. Driving in silence, thinking of a dispirited being, driving the crowded and thick streets oozing of people and flesh and hair and draping clothes. Streets, littered with carcasses. People cross, back and forth. In front of your car. They’re the same people, aren’t they? These people who cross in one direction, don’t they cross in front of your car again, a mile up, in the other direction? Do you ever really shake off these people. Do they not go away?

 

Where do they come from, why do they cross the streets so slowly and cloaked in mismatched patterns and materials; their peculiar off-key faces and deranged features; even the most innocent of them are consumed with oddities and the fire of secret carnal desires.

 

A jungle, a zoo, people overfill. Clothes, so many clothes and outfits and hairstyles and body types and it’s an affront to your sight for we were not intended to see this many people. Nature did not see to it thus…

 

We did not conquer the planet by wielding the tools of our intelligence and technology to rule over this quagmire of disrupted humanity and its rampant common disfigurement. Did we? The human animal is disfigured! This is only apparent to those eyes which witness the infinite repetitious legions of humanity float across its sight. The hideousness, the commonness, the awkward and deranged and repulsive, the street is awash. Man, woman and child, an offensive primal offshoot from evolutionary remains, skin deeply mired in murky human fleshy and brilliant oils, asymmetrical and bulbous faces, clothes equally harmful to behold.

 

Homeward bound!
The dispirited soul will not take.
The oppressive mass will not leave.

 

To yearn for the self, pure, complete, apart, devoid; rescued and cleansed from the spiritual agony of this world’s perfidious (and melodious) demands.

 

The mass of humanity squeezes inwards, presses upon your spirit.
You try to push your way out.
But it continues to squeeze, suffocating, sapping your life of spirit, of light; you push but it pushes back tenfold. The harder you push to escape, the more furious it pushes in return. You soon realize that only by not pushing can “relief” be realized. You don’t push. And suddenly silent, like the soundlessness of a power outage, the mass stops counteracting, mimicking your non-resistance. Now you’ve reached an uncomfortable equilibrium in which your range of movement is the width of your skin.

 

You don’t push.
And you must be happy.

 

 

The Bad News Notification Device

The damned telephone.
It’s handed me nothing but misery, tragedy and inopportune bits of devastation throughout my life.

In ancient eras the phone was but a cacophonous bell-ringing head-rattling monstrosity motored by the purringness of the clickety-click-click of the rotary dial. You couldn’t dial a phone number any quicker than the stupid round dialer was capable of spinning. Purrclickety-purrclick-purrclick…

See, there were limits then. Unlike now…phones are unbridled high-tech masturbatory mega-toys and they’ll happily dial even to your voice’s commands now. Hands free, phone numbers directed with the flow of silent digital airborne instructions.

As I was stating, the telephone is bad news.

It started in 1973 one afternoon when our kitchen telephone rang. The phone was a permanent immutable household fixture affixed to the wall and tethered by the curly-wurly plastic spiral cord. The telephone’s “ring” was really a ring. It was a loud, fire-station decibel RING, damnit. That shit could knock the crust out of your ears. Phones knew how to ring and there was nowhere in the house you could flee its invasive audible cries. Nowhere. That tolling bell, it was either waking the dead or busting down the door, exposing your prone figure while you cowered in the corner seeking to escape its wrath. But there was no escaping that brassy alarm!

In 1973, the kitchen phone rang.
Loudly.
Which makes it even more disquieting…

My mother answered and since I was very young, my memory is hazy. After holding the phone to her ear for a few seconds, she burst into uncontrollable sobs of grief. Very bad news, the worst news. Two of my young cousins, 9 and 10, right around my age, were sleeping in the cab of a big rig my uncle was driving back east during the summer, and along a road in Indiana the axle broke and the truck jackknifed on a bridge and caught fire. The fire quickly engulfed the big rig and my cousins burned to death, trapped in the cab. My uncle was disfigured for life by the flames.

That was the call; that was what the bellicose ringing needed to tell us.
The tone was set for all time.

Evil phones. If it wasn’t the loud bells and agonizing rotary bullshit, it was the subdued peaceful ringing of later models and the soothing (and swifter) push-button replacement of the rotary dial. The buttons gridded on a keypad in which each button, or number, was accompanied, when pressed, by a musical note that tonally chirped back in your ear. The “1” sounded completely different from the “3” which in turn, sounded different than the “8.” The musically adept (to be very generous and kind) had the capability to string together a series of button-pushes in order to create a simple melody; actually, a really awful sounding MIDI-quality concert. Nevertheless, bad news still flourished at the hands of the new generation of phones. Death. Destruction. Illness. Pain. The phone excelled at shrieking misery in our ears.

In time, the telephone’s ringing began to elicit a Pavlovian response from me. Whenever it rang at odd hours or unexpectedly, my first instinct was to reach for a tissue box or dash to the closet in order to dig out a clean black suit. The phone’s ringing was our official Grim Reaper anthem.

Cell phones and their technological serenity and indifference didn’t change the landscape.
Still, the misery visited, courtesy of radio waves.
Still, the death and the despair.
The gift of misery. Carried on the wings of electromagnetic transmissions and alerted within the customizable and individualistic (but really not) chime of an electronically generated custom ring.
I wasn’t a kid anymore. Now the telephone was the scene of arguments, disagreements, bad tidings. I broke up via the telephone a few times. I even had a DMV hearing via cell phone wizardry in which I pleaded to keep my driver’s license and still, to no avail, the phone failed me. And of course, the phone, still the standard bearer of death and misery. Some things never changed.

Bad fucking news.

The telephone is an artery of grievous horrors.
The telephone has always stood waiting, patiently, ready to bellow its harsh sentence at me. Sadistically, it savors the ability to rouse me from the slumber of complacent and happy existence; to smash my hopes with a sledgehammered dose of bad news.

And still, anxiously awaiting its clarion call.