2011Archive

Dec 22

what was my process in writing this long-short story?

since I wouldn’t call the story conventional, I’d have to say that writing was the same. to be honest, this was what I was waiting for the whole year, the reason I signed up for the class. I wanted to be creative with my writing. I believe I achieved that to some degree.

I think I was trying to write the way I talk, which can read badly, so maybe that was reflected in the story. Like the fairy tales we read for class, I was inspired to bring my own twist to storytelling. I wanted it to sound like me, without actually being “me” if that makes any sense. I was having a conversation with my friends while trying to think of a story topic when I realized that I should just write about a situation where I can write about a group of friends. I wanted to show them together, how they interacted with each other with dialogue, and then break them into individuals & show their inner monologues as well. You mentioned in one of your comments that my generation is trying to sort of reinvent the word “neurotic”. You might be right, but I feel like it’s not just how we question ourselves and our relationships, it’s also about how we’re trying to be two things at once: to be part of a group, a unit, and also trying to carve out our own individual personalities and selves, both from that group and from the world in general. Sorry for getting philosophical!

Is the story a little slang- heavy? Yes. But I think that’s the best thing about it. I took your advice and changed the screenplay-bullet point form of dialogue to hopefully make it more readable (for everyone). I also hope the slang doesn’t detract from the overall story (or stories, as it were). The feeling I tried to convey through the slang was one of friendship, plain and simple. There were no secret messages between characters in any of the curse words (sorry for the language). It may not be a story for readers of a certain age, but I think the most relatable part of it is the theme of being part of a group, a gang, a unit, a clique, a circle- whatever the time period, whatever you want to call it. I just like to see the way friends talk to each other, because it’s always unique and entertaining, and lifting the veil to that world feels like I’m uncovering secrets, or in-the-know about something. Does any of that make sense?

In short, I was excited to do this exercise, I enjoyed doing it, and I hope it came out okay. I just want to add that writing it was a miracle itself, and deserves a little story itself: a few posts into my story I started having trouble with my computer, which was nothing new since it crashed on me too many times since the day I got it no more than 3 years ago. There was some unholy jingling sound happening every time I picked it up. But it still worked, which was too important with finals coming up so I ignored it, until one day it didn’t jingle and also didn’t turn on. I didn’t panic yet. I sent it to the computer geniuses and waited. I wasn’t expecting them to tell me that it was unfixable. Then I panicked. We’ve heard the sob story before: “I had everything on my laptop!” this goes to include my slang- ridden short story. Holiday miracle!: I have some very nice friends. Friends who would put up with my vegetarian experiment blog post recipes (and melt downs). Friends who listened to me whine about my horrible poems. Friends who inspired me to write them into infamy in short stories. Friends who took time from their hectic finals study time to let me use their computers to piece back together my short story. Friends: you guys deserve an A.

One last thing:

I want to thank you, professor, for your encouragement. You were a model for me in learning how to give criticism in the most positive, talent channeling, problem solving way. Thank you for laughing and not laughing at the right times, and for being patient with me and everyone else. Thank you for putting up with my cover letter confessions, and for seeing more potential in me than I saw in myself. (sorry for getting sentimental!)

Thank you!

Dec 21

 

I rode the subway in London once. They call it the “Tube” there. I sat next to a young gentleman wearing a London sweatshirt. “It really stinks in here,” he said to me, for some reason, smiling. “I hadn’t noticed any smell,” I said, covering my nose with my scarf. He laughed at this gesture, and pulled his sweatshirt up to cover his nose, too. Over the course of another two stops, I learned that the young man was named Kentucky, studying abroad for the summer, and like me was not keen on the combination of B.O. and stale farts. He had jet black hair cut close to his head, dark brown eyes, a perpetual smile, and a short, straight nose, that I dismissed as puny, telling him he couldn’t really smell what was going on in the train with such a small nose, compared to mine that could rival Cyrano de Bergerac’s and was getting the full force of the smell. He laughed at this too, and described to me the noxious gas floating around us.

We had become partners in crime. Our eyes and noses moved around the car and we quietly described to each other what stench each person was giving off like we were naming each taste our palettes could pick up on a plate of gourmet shit. There was the Indian man to our right, who provided the curry powder and body odor smell. There was the Russian tourist to our left who had never heard of deodorant. There was the English businessman on top of us who had a flatulence problem. The foulest smelling cuisine from all over the world was concentrated in our little train car.

At Liverpool Street there was a great exchange of people and even some fresh air. Kentucky and I watched as the Indian man and Russian tourist exited the train, only to be replaced by 4 Italian teenagers with matching orange backpacks. I watched the teens for a reaction to the smell, but was intercepted by Kentucky who had started to ask me questions about New York. Where in New York did I live? Do I take the subway often? Does it smell this bad? Do people in New York have cars? Do I have a car? All of these questions were distracting me from trying to figure out where the damn smell was coming from. I answered his questions mechanically, suspiciously eyeing a passenger every time I caught a whiff of something rotten. Kentucky kept at the questions, until the blaring sound of an ipod (probably to block out Kentucky’s annoying voice) caught us both off guard. The song in question was some kind of rap- rock- metal fusion that can only be achieved through making your own bad demo tape. “It’s so loud,” said Kentucky, once again pointing out obvious facts.

I had enough of the whole scene: The smells, the sounds, and the sight of Kentucky’s stupid smile at all of it. I was itching –literally- to get out of the Tube. The sound of the automated woman on the loud speaker was never so sweet when she announced that we were approaching Mile End station. I couldn’t jump out of my seat faster, and knocked into one of the Italian teens who said something derogatory to me in Italian, or at least I think he did, because he made a ride gesture with his hand afterward. I was happy to be getting out of there. I pressed myself against the door like a parachuter preparing to jump, and gave one last glance to the train. I met eyes with Kentucky, who had lost his smile and felt a pang of sadness at leaving him alone to deal with the entity that was the smell of the train.

The doors opened and fresh air rushed into me, making my clothes fly back upon the impact. I was out! I was free! I ran up the Tube stairs with a gusto that I didn’t know I had in me. I was renewed and joyous! I wanted to run through the streets preaching the goodness of fresh air to strangers, sucking in the untainted oxygen molecules like a cocaine addict. As soon as I got back to the hotel, I ran to tell my friend of the new and exciting drug I discovered. I burst the door open and was about to take a breath of air when she sniffed, frowned and covered her nose. In a disgusted voice she said, “What the hell is that smell?!”

I only vaguely remember what happened next. Who punched whom. Who yelled about personal space and hygiene to the other. What I definitely remember was the 40 minute shower where I washed everything twice, my hair 3 times. The clothes I burned. Then calm fell over me until I recalled that I had to go to Waterloo Station the next day. shit.

Dec 21

blogger’s preface:

this is cutting edge stuff. this is Pulitzer prize worthy, war ending, Nobel peace winning, piece(s) of literature. and i’m only saying that half ironically (the other half is also ironic, as it will be blatantly clear to the {unlucky} reader of this short story that I am no Shakespeare, no Hemingway, no author of any kind- but it was fun to pretend to be try it out [and do a horrible job of it].

one more thing- as I fiddled and toyed with the order of each story, I realized it didn’t really matter where any of them where placed, i.e., the reader can read the stories in any order that want, the meaning of any of the monologues or dialogues won’t be effected. maybe they’ll have new meanings? I wrote hyper fiction by accident, do I get any extra credit for that?

 

 

The Restaraunt

“It’s hot as balls in here” Janie declared, her black cashmere scarf snaked around her chafed neck as she struggled with sweaty hands.

“It’s not that hot, you’re not dying” Arin shot back, a sour twitch of her lip told how annoyed she was.

“That was a great call, it really is just a butler that googles things for you” Mike said, continuing his favorite conversation, which always led Janie into her favorite conversation, one that included her and Mike.

“When did Google become an action? If I said to my great grandparents ‘I’m gonna go Google it’ they would flip their shit. Like with their gray hair and glasses and stuff just being like ‘what is that? Some sex thing?’” Janie did her best impression of two old Jews from Brooklyn and Mike laughed. Their mirrored smiles were making Arin feel left out. She hated third wheel situation and feeling left out. Something needed to be screamed. Tension needed to be broken- or created- she didn’t know which one, but something involving her had to happen.

“What happened when you were waiting for me at the library this morning?” shouted Arin across the table.

“Where all the magic happens?” said Mike, eyebrows snaking up and down his forehead.

“What happened?” asked Janie

“I’ll tell you what this gentleman told me”, said Arin, taking on a formal air in her voice, and flinging her long blonde hair at Mike. “He was at the library late last night, when suddenly he looks up and sees the most beautiful young woman in the world,”

“She had really nice tits” said Mike with an exaggerated wink.

“So he goes over to her and says ‘can I borrow your calculator?’ and he takes it and graphs her a flower” finished Arin, who also made sure to act out the whole scene for Janie’s benefit.

“You graphed her a flower? Why don’t you just graph her a picture of your vagina?” said Janie. Then realizing this might have been going a little too far, punctuated her remark with a creepy smile and a nervous laugh. She looked down. She felt awkward. She thought of Devo and one hit wonders. She didn’t want to be a one hit wonder. She didn’t like those red ice cream cone hats they wore. Janie didn’t want this conversation to be one big awkward Devo song that people would listen to and VH1 would make fun of, years later. Seeing herself spiral into a black hole of awkward nostalgia, Janie looked up again, determined to appear normal. “So what happened next?”

“I got her number! Cr-ack that whip!” Mike did his best Devo impression, which was not impressive, but almost made Janie cry and laugh, which made Arin laugh, which made for a nice ending to an episode of the Cosby Show.

“True story” Arin finished.

 

Mike’s Story

Stale air.

Contents: hot breath, muffled coughs, wet coats, and the occasional whiff of matured fart. Checked my phone again for the time- 4 o’clock, one bar battery left. Pushing it away made that annoying, ear clawing scraping noise that brought eyes in my direction. ‘Where is that noise coming from?’ Looked around like, ‘it wasn’t me, but I need to stare at whoever it was’ and then-

We made eye contact. I stared too much and she looked away, preoccupied with her work.

I saw the calculator and had an idea- nay, a grand idea! Today I am a man. Today I am confidant. Today I have balls the size of my fists, the size of the pot brownies I had last night for dinner for funsies.

Went over to her, special swagger reserved for being a pimp. “Can I borrow your calculator for a minute?”

It was too easy. Who says math nerds don’t have game? Who’s got two thumbs and mad- good pickup skills? This guy.

Later I might realize that graphing a flower is a total pussy move. Later I might shit myself worrying I was too forward, too aggressive. Later arin might call me a creep, and I might tell her (politely) to go fuck herself. Now, I am a romantic. If I could graph a sonnet, a ballad, a box of chocolates, I’d be freakin’ Cyrano De Bergerac-ing all over this shit.

She laughed at the flower. That was to be expected. I went for it: “can I have your number?”

I got it!

P-I-m-p.

 

Janie’s Story

It was so cold outside. The mixture of dewy after- rain and wind slapped around my face and neck as I looked up at the tree by my apartment. The last few orange leaves fell daintily before me and I felt like a younger version of myself. Myself, in my bright pink winter coat, daisy printed pants, blowsy black hair tied back in a messy ponytail in the fall of ’96. I was still in Boston with Felicia, matching friendship bracelets around our wrists, playing with our favorite barbies in my old yard. I liked to pretend my yard was a mini forest; the trees so tall and so many that I could jump into a pile of leaves and hide there with Barbie, waiting for Felicia to come steamrolling through and jump out at her, giving her baby- high blood pressure. She was such a Chuckie, as in 90s Nickolodeon, Rugrats scaredy-cat Chuckie.  Not to be confused with the abandoned doll that murders people.  Red hair, anal retentive little baby girl. Translation: my best friend forever. I was in that phase of childhood where it was really cool to scare people by shouting “doody!” at them. ‘Doody’ was a game changer in ’96. Budding comedienne that I was, I had the scoop on all the buzzwords at the time, those words mostly being bathroom related. So yes, I was (am?) pretty cool.

That little reverie of my childhood made me, like, 5 minutes late for class. My nose was running all over my face, and I kept having to wipe it on my sleeve, like a nerd. If this was still 1996, they’d be calling me booger face. And I’d be crying. Game over.

So I speed-walked my way to school, wind whipping at me hard, and I kept thinking ‘you’re not Devo, wind! You can’t whip it!’ which made me laugh. I made a mental note to say that to Mike later. Dude loves Devo. And I love dude. And then I got a nervous feeling, because I’m in love with Mike. Ooh. Awkward feelings. Friends don’t let friends profess their love to each other over Devo jokes. Not cool.

 

Arin’s Story

The only thing I hate more than waiting is having to wait alone. Standing, staring out at into space, shuffling feet, counting blinks; it’s so fucking boring. My only consolation was that the nice old lady to my left gave me not one, but TWO dirty looks. Wait, did I say consolation? I meant pain in my ass.

Awful, awful day! I always wait till the last minute to start studying for something, and now I’ve screwed myself. Worse still, I know Mike is waiting for me at the library, probably just sitting there, smelling things. Is that a problem, like ADHD? A person will stop a conversation to smell his fingers, rattle off the scents and go back to talking about the wonders of Google. Nerd alert! He’s gonna have to wait for me. Alone, helpless little baby Mike, twiddling his thumbs in the middle of the library like a nerd (alert). And then he’ll ask where Janie is because she’s always late and he always asks where she is. It’s so tiring when two friends don’t have the balls to stop beating around the fucking bush and just go have sex too the [awful] soundtrack of “Whip It” by Devo.

STOP LOOKING AT ME OLD LADY! I know you’re old and you’re bones are brittle, and you have saggy skins under your eyes that makes you look like a sad hound dog, and your groceries are so heavy, and it sucks to take the bus, and you can remember when it only cost a nickel, and the youth today don’t speak correctly and dress like whores, but godammit, keep your dirty looks to yourself! I hate waiting.

 

Dec 06

It was so cold outside. The mixture of dewy after- rain and wind slapped around my face and neck as I looked up at the tree by my apartment. The last few orange leaves fell daintily before me and I felt like a younger version of myself. Myself, in my bright pink winter coat, daisy printed pants, blowsy black hair tied back in a messy ponytail in the fall of ’96. I was still in Boston with Felicia, matching friendship bracelets around our wrists, playing with our favorite barbies in my old yard. I liked to pretend my yard was a mini forest, the trees so tall and so many that I could jump into a pile of leaves and hide there with Barbie, waiting for Felicia to come steamrolling through and jump out at her, giving her baby- high blood pressure. She was such a Chucky- like rugrats Chucky. Red hair, anal retentive, hypochondria little baby girl. Translation: my best friend forever. I was in that phase of childhood where it was really cool to scare people by shouting “doody!” at them. ‘Doody’ was a game changer in ’96. Budding comedienne that I was, I had the scoop on all the buzzwords at the time, those words mostly being bathroom related. So yes, I was (am?) pretty cool.

That little reverie of my childhood made me like, 5 minutes late for class. My nose was running all over my face, and I kept having to wipe it on my sleeve, like a nerd. If this was still 1996, they’d be calling me booger face. And I’d be crying. Game over.

So I speed-walked my way to school, wind whipping at me hard, and I kept thinking ‘you’re not Divo, wind! You can’t whip it!’ which made me laugh. I made a mental note to say that to Mike later. Dude loves Divo. And I love dude. And then I got a nervous feeling, because I’m in love with Mike. Ooh. Awkward feelings. Friends don’t let friends profess their love to each other over Divo jokes. Not cool.

Dec 06

Stale air.

Contents: hot breath, muffled coughs, wet coats, and the occasional whiff of matured fart. Checked my phone again for the time- 4 o’clock, one bar battery left. Pushing it away made that annoying, ear clawing scraping noise that brought eyes in my direction. ‘where is that noise coming from?’ Looked around like, ‘it wasn’t me, but I need to stare at whoever it was’ and then-

We made eye contact. I stared too much and she looked away, preoccupied with her work.

I saw the calculator and had an idea- nay, a grand idea! today i am a man. today i am confidant. today i have balls the size of my fists, the size of the pot brownies i had last night for funsies.

went over to her, special swagger reserved for being a pimp. “can i borrow your calculator for a minute?”

it was too easy. who says math nerds don’t have game? who’s got two thumbs and mad- good pickup skills? this guy.

later i might realize that graphing a flower is a total pussy move. later i might shit myself worrying i was too forward, too aggressive. later arin might call me a creep, and i might tell her (politely) to go fuck herself. now, i am a romantic. if i could graph a sonnet, a ballad, a box of chocolates, i’d be freakin’ Cyrano De Bergerac-ing all over this shit.

she laughed at the flower. that was to be expected. i went for it: “can i have your number?”

i got it!

p-i-m-p.

 

 

Nov 09

-janie: it’s hot as balls in here

Her black cashmere scarf snaked around her chafed neck as she struggled with sweaty hands.

-alisa: it’s not that hot, you’re not dying

-janie: fuck this, I’m audi 5000.

Their group always spoke in a code. janie called it “tongues” as if it were an ancient language. Leora said they all spoke the same- but how could they not when they were all living together for 3+ years. When you see someone everyday for a while, you develop a shorthand. Their hand was very short. Janie never took that remark to heart- she knew it wasn’t easy living thousands of miles away from all your friends and family, so she never said anything. Arin did. Spit fire with bright red curls she didn’t like being called unoriginal. And didn’t give two fucks if it hurt Leora’s feelings.

Gillian was absent, as always. Being a neuroscience major didn’t leave time for games and lunches and witty bantering about nothing like the uselessness of Ask Jeeves.

-mike: that was a great call, it really is just a butler that googles things for you.

– janie: when did google become an action? If I said to my great grandparents “I’m gonna go google it” they would flip their shit. Like with their gray hair and glasses and stuff just being like “what is that? some sex thing?”

-arin: you always bring up sex! You’re obsessed.

-mike: you’re like the sexaholics on tv. Get help, dude.

It was Arin, Gillian, Mike, Alisa, and Janie. That was the group. talking the same, looking the same, but somehow all being very different. Sitting in the dining room. On the quad. On the weekends in the park. Best friends for life. They knew it to be true because of the necklaces and rings made to make it true.

-alisa: what were you thinking?

-mike: I don’t know that I was.

-arin: obviously, you’re such an idiot

-mike: the moment presented itself, so I had to act. It was an impulse based on a gut reaction to react to the action. Or some shit like that.

-arin: you’re retarded.

Alisa interjected at that point,

-He didn’t tell you the whole story: Mike was at the library late last night

-mike: where all the magic happens

-he was at the library late last night, when suddenly he looks up and sees the most beautiful young woman in the world,

– mike: she had really nice tits

-so he goes over to her and says “can I borrow your calculator?” and he takes it and graphs her a flower.

Arin: You graphed her a flower? Why don’t you just graph her a picture of your vagina?

Mike: jeaaalouss. Plus I got her number.

Alisa: true story.

Sep 21

Forget hard. This is fucking hard.

So I thought it would be easy to write a health food blog? Who am I? Rachael Ray?

No. No, I am not Rachael Ray. The following blog post will prove that, just in case anyone of my [1] readers were confused up until now. Glad I cleared that up so that I could go back to my slow mental breakdown about not being able to eat healthy. Just like when I tried to post this blog by Sunday, I failed. And I should have just accepted that.

The roomate’s vegan endeavor was not going well either. Soy milk turned into regular milk. Tofu turned into fish. And I turned into a crazy bitch when all that was left in my fridge was a red pepper and a single slice of cheese. Being resourceful, I scavenged the rest of the kitchen and came up with a pretty good recipe:

  • 20 minutes lying in the middle of the kitchen in the fetal position, arguing to yourself about whether you should get up or not.
  • After getting up, stare at your cabinet for a full 10 minutes before opening it up. Then stare at the contents for 10 more minutes.
  • By now, your internal dialogue with yourself will have been tuned out by the site of peanut butter. Unless you are allergic, in which case you should go back to step 1.
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, then 2 teaspoons, then- fuck it, just finish the whole jar!
  • 10 glasses of milk, 1% low fat, after having talked yourself down from the coffee creamer in the front of the fridge (but the milk is all the way in the back!)
  • 1-2 hours watching Cash Cab in your living room with a 1 box of Cheez- Its until the late-night infomercials wake you up and your roommates give you hardened stares because it smells like peanut butter and cheese powder.

 

Voila: the most satisfying/ shameful dinner I’ve ever made. And it was so easy! Eat it, Rachael Ray.

Sep 14
     

yummers

The first thing that comes to mind when anyone says “healthy” is granola crunching, candle making, organic farming, pony tail wearing hippies that live in Hudson, N.Y. and sell their tye-dye hemp shirts while preaching the wonders of compost. The second thing that comes to mind is tofu. That white, rubbery substance looks like anything but food. An eraser. Play- Doh. Cement bricks. Curd- which rhymes with turd, so by the laws of  the transitive property…you can guess the rest. Pretty much all of these things taste better than plain tofu. Right?

Wrong!

Roomie, my roommate who is a vegetarian and henceforth vegan loves tofu. She eats that shit all the way up. When she suggested we make our first healthy meal centered around that white non- meat, I literally shivered. Already regretting my decision to go cold turkey on Mac ‘n’ Cheese a few days into the experiment, the word tofu nearly sent me running to the frig for the first leg- of- animal I could get my hands on.

I’ve tried tofu before. In one of my “keep an open mind” rants, I put my money where my mouth is at a vegetarian friend’s house and learned a lot about myself that day: One- I sometimes make very bad decisions, Two- spitting food out in front of the person who made it will not gain me any new friends, in fact it might have the opposite effect.

But I thought “Hey, let’s try to keep any open mind here” and 5-6 hours later, I found myself in front of the oven checking on a broiling batch of tofu marinated in teriyaki sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Sounds yummy, right?

I’d like to mention that I’m no food critic. In no way. I wouldn’t know gourmet from garbage (in the figurative way, of course. I would never eat garbage. For free.)

This recipe is courtesy of my roommate, the fearless vegan who is brave enough to try and teach me something about cooking and eating like a human being.

The recipe: Teriyaki Tofu With Whole Wheat Spaghetti

– cut up some tofu in a pan

-throw in some teriyaki sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds

– pop that sucker in the oven and let it broil for 25 min

– prepare the spaghetti: if you don’t know how to make spaghetti, then I have to congratulate you on your many many riches and the fact that you can pay people to feed you. That, and maybe you should give your mom a rest and cook dinner one night.

when the pasta is cooked and drained, add the broiling mixture to the pasta then add more sesame oil, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and sesame seeds.

Dinner!

The verdict:

The teriyaki was powerful enough to mask the rubbery nothingness of the tofu. The spaghetti did a good job of that as well. So in the end, I learned something powerful about food: tofu isn’t not good. Those hippies might be onto something. But if you ever see me in dread locks just shoot me dead right there and then. My integrity will thank you afterwards.

I also made a new mantra for life: The best way to try new things is to have an open mind. And drown the new things in lots of sauces that might defeat the purpose of trying to eat healthy in the first place.

Sep 13

Intro to me:

Me: Jimmy. 21 years old. Junior in Queens College. Enjoys Europe, Wacky Mac and listening to hits from the 60’s.

I like writing, but I love food. In this blog, I, Jimmy, avid junk food eater and mac ‘n’ cheese fanatic, will try to prepare and sample new and healthful foods and serve them to my (less than) supportive roommates. Each week I will make a healthy meal for me and my roommates and they will like it. In addition, my roommate (who will henceforth be known as Roomie Roomerson) who has decided to go vegan for 3 weeks has allowed me to record her experiences in this endeavor. In support of her lofty goals, I will cook her one vegan meal a week. Don’t worry, she can still have her soy milk.

I’m really not a healthy eater. If I could have macaroni and cheese for every meal, I would do it in a heartbeat. And then I would die. Because that’s super unhealthy. There have been days when all I’ve had was bread and peanut butter and weeks where I’d live on cereal and milk. Note: I am not homeless. And I am not {that} poor. It’s just easy as shit to make and it is the best to eat! I’m also lazier than anyone can know when it comes to preparing food. The last time I had a carrot was 1999. Sad, I know. It might be a miracle I’m still alive and well.

Here are the rules: I cannot have any cheese and pasta combination, no cereal and milk, no junk food, no nonsense. Roomie cannot have: any products derived from animals including: meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, beeswax, gelatin, and lard. Good luck Roomie.

what's eating jimmy? a blog about food. and jimmy