Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Woman with Many Bandages


My commute to work is very far, and passes a refinery, a garbage transfer station and a sewage plant. Ten miles of road are under construction. The other drivers are excitable. Often, they crash. The road is strewn with wreckage.

On the worst days, the ones with the weather and the traffic and the forty-five minutes on the on-ramp, I sometimes feel a teensy bit sorry for myself. Just a little bit. Before I suck it up, of course.

Once a week, I ride the bus, which is good for many reasons, but turns my three hour commute into four. On the bus, I see the same woman every week. She sits in front of me with a knit cap on her bald head, picking at the bandages on all ten fingers. She rides the bus all the way to the airport, even farther than me.

Today, I glimpsed a medic alert bracelet on her translucent arm, and I wondered, is she flying home from chemotherapy? Is she scared? Does she wish that someone would gently hold her hand?

And it made my commute seem so trivial.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Miracles are the Only Reality


Every question has a surface answer and a deep answer, and the deep answer is: we don't really know. Certainty, my friends, is for children. Mysteries and miracles are the building blocks of everything ordinary.

Miracles? Really?

Oh, yeah. They are everywhere.

For example, why do we exist? What is our spirit? And who is the observer in all of us with the constant commentary and the snide remarks? If the observer isn't participating and only observing, what is it doing in our heads?

We use cell phones all the time, but how do they work? Signals, you say? What are they? And why do they exist? Were our prehumanoid ancestors all plugged into the network, without the need for telephones?

How do you explain herd behavior, flocks wheeling as one, and the ridiculous fads you (yes, you) followed in high school?

How can the universe end? How can it begin? How can it fail to end or begin? How do we know there's infinity if we can't count it?

How do birds migrate thousands of miles without eating or resting? How do they know where to go?

How is it that wind is made of nothing, yet a tornado can destroy an entire town?

Why are you here, now, reading this? Of all the possibilities, in all the choices you have made, what led you to this moment and not another?

And that is only the beginning.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Down the Throat of the Mountain


June seventeenth, 2013 was the day Janie Gundy's life ended and purgatory began, but she didn't know the half of it when she shook off the waiter, fighting tears, and ran blindly into the night...

So begins Down the Throat of the Mountain, which is now available online, and can be downloaded in pretty much any ebook format (like Kindle, Nook and iPad. You can read it on your computer.You can even put it on your fancy cell phone if you really want to, but I'm not saying that's a great idea.). It's available through Smashwords, Apple ibookstore, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, Flipkart (India) and the Diesel ebook store. Right now, it's free in all of those places. It's also available through the many different worldwide versions of Amazon.com for $2.99 or the equivalent in local currency. Wow, pretty overwhelming, huh? I bet you want to get in on the excitement, be the first on your block to read it! Right???

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Worst Writer in the World


Down the Throat of the Mountain, one of my novels, is coming online soon...Sorry, I almost threw up, thinking about it. Why all the anxiety, you ask? Because people will make clever and cutting remarks about my writing, and I will be ashamed. My friends might decide (in a secret meeting, perhaps) that I am a self-deluded asshole. Because my writing is so bad, I could die alone and unloved.

But what if I am not the worst writer in the world? What if I'm not even in the running?

A little research shows that there's a lot of bad writing out there. There are even contests: The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, for example, awards the opening sentence for "the worst of all possible novels."

From 1995-98, the Philosophy and Literature Bad Writing Contest  judged scholarly books and articles. This honor was only bestowed upon the nation's leading academics. That is because it takes brains to write a sentence that leaves the reader feeling overwhelmed, confused, and a bit queasy, all at the same time.

The Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award is kind of self-explanatory. Past winners include Norman Mailer and John Updike, proving, once again, that you have to be good to be bad. This is a relief, because I'm not half as good as they are. And thus by extension, I can't be half as bad, either.