Thursday, December 15, 2016

How terrible to see the truth

I breathe the dense, muggy air as I walk down through the park. Everything is gray. It's as if someone has taken a photo editor to the world around me and turned down the contrast. The fog brought a monochrome hue to the park that felt cold and dead. Why am I out here? What’s the point of all of this? I am overwhelmed but a sense of meaninglessness.
I've known that I'm not a nihilist. I don't and honestly can't characterize myself that much, but I've known I'm not a nihilist. I imagine The Victorian as the best of all possible worlds. I know many of my fellow apartment residents don't share my outlook. That's why I'm not friends with Howard. Even though I appreciate Ms. Ellen for all she does I'm not friends with her. The last thing I want to become is jaded, cynical or apathetic. I don't want to be like them. I want to be different. It's about how I see the world versus how they see it. I've always been sure that they're simply blind to the good things in life.
I was definitely sure of this earlier today. I started my day like I had been for the past week and a half, taking a walk. The wind was bitingly cold but that was ok for me. It was well worth the fresh air. Getting fresh air and exercise every day was part of my transformation. Things were starting to turn around. After taking finally leaving my apartment and asserting myself to get the water bottle from Ms. Ellen I felt a control I hadn't felt in years. I realized I had the power to shape my own future. I scheduled and completed three interviews, admittedly unsuccessful, and had another five coming up for next week. I decided to sign up for a GED course. I wrote consistently for two hours a day. I felt like I was finally making progress too. I started making changes on a smaller scale too. I brushed my teeth twice everyday that week. I ate a salad every day. I took a walk every morning in the park. For the first time since I moved to The Victorian I felt like I was moving forward.
Despite the wind, the park was especially beautiful this morning. I guess technically yesterday morning but, I'm going to tell this narrative as if right now is the night of the day the events of my story transpired. I hope you're not confused. Anyhow, the park looked stunning. Fog enveloped the trees, wispy white like silk, or the air of an old woman. Dew reflected the early morning sun, each drop shining, twinkling like stars. I decided to make a wish upon these stars. I said to myself, “I wish Ms. Ellen could see this. I bet even she could find this beautiful.”
I was certain I had said this to myself, inaudible to others until I heard a call from an old man sitting on a park bench, “But how terrible! To see truth when truth is only pain to him who see.” I glanced back at the man momentarily before continuing my walk.
The rest of the day went ok. I added another chapter to my book. I finished working on another interview application. After dinner I went to the grocery store. I bought myself some fresh fruits and vegetables: broccoli, apples, spinach and a couple bags of oranges. I was planning on calling it a night on an overall satisfying day when I saw her. Tall, beautiful, skin white as milk. She was even more beautiful than I remember her the first time. Her ginger hair flowed down her back in waves, like a carrot cake icing. I decided not to come on as strong this time. I knew though something could happen. I had power to decide my future.
“Excuse me,” I called out across the parking lot. She turned around and hesitates. I waited a few seconds before she asks who I am.
“I’m Munny Pang,” I said. I tried to think about something a little less forward to say than “I love you.” I hoped she wouldn’t recognize me from the first time I saw her. I have been eating healthier this week.
“Wait,” she says. “Were you that drunk guy that hit on me at the Exxon?”
Crap. So much for not recognizing me. “Sorry about that,” I said to her. “I was a bit forward there, I admit. But I’m a good guy and you should give me a chance.”
She stared down at me, visibly annoyed.
“Give me one good reason I should waste my time on you,” she snaps.
“Well,” I started. “I am a freelance writer, but I’ve also been looking for other jobs to support myself. In fact I’ve even signed up for a GED course. I’m taking my life by the horns. I’ve been eating healthy and exercising.”
She smiled at me. I felt a warm feeling inside and smiled back until I realized she was smirking.
She responded: “First of all that was a rhetorical question. You don’t look a day under 55, I would never spend any time with you anyways. All that exercise and healthy eating is really showing, how long have you been doing it for, a week? You look like trash, but what’s worse is that you’re pleased with where your life is. You seem so happy that you’re going to have the chance to get a fucking high school diploma. And freelance writer? What kind of writer without a high school diploma gets paid? So of course you’re looking at other jobs. I’m happy that you’re pleased with your unemployment. I’m sure you’re generating enough money to be paying for those fresh fruits. You’re pathetic.”
She stormed off, got into her red Toyota and drove off. I stood in shock. She was probably just in a bad mood. I knew she was a much nicer person in normal circumstances. I still wish I got to know her. As I walked to my car, I heard skidding from the street. Then a crash. Then an explosion. I turn around to see a red Toyota up in flames. Maybe that isn’t her I thought to myself. But as I examine the wreckage I see the plain truth. That was her car. It had just pulled out from the grocery store parking lot. She was most likely dead.
In panic I ran away. I just kept running. I might’ve ran for an hour and a half before stopping. I found myself in the middle of a cornfield, far outside the city. I would’ve been totally lost if I hadn’t run into the railroad tracks. I wanted to consider myself lucky. But I finally began to see that I didn’t live in the best of all possible worlds. I saw I was pathetic. With my life halfway over I’ve done nothing. My best years are behind me. I was still writing this pathetic book for hours every day for ultimately naught. And now the love of my life is gone--no, she was awful to me. I didn’t even know her name. But I still felt remorseful. Maybe not for losing her, but for losing hope. For losing my blindness to the misery of my own condition.
The train came through around 3:30 AM. I hopped on the caboose platform. The train crept at the pace of a funeral march. I noticed I still had my oranges, the same color as her hair. They reminded me of her. They reminded me of a world more beautiful than the one I found myself in. I peeled the oranges and threw off peels like flower petals at a funeral, mourning the death of by beautiful blindness.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trithian and the Quest for the Golden Timepiece of Gul-Thrada

Writer's block sucks. How do you develop a character? Trithian is such an interesting character, but he's so flat. Realistically how would his quest for the golden timepiece of Gul-Thrada change him? What direction should I take Trithian in? Writing is so hard. I've been working on it the past two days and still I have nothing.
I haven't left my apartment in those past two days. Out of courtesy of course. In the 48 hours since the water left I haven't had the chance to shower. I don't think at this point people would appreciate me going out. I guess I could go to the rainbow river. But I don't think people would care to see me bathing in a public area. Courtesy. 
I need to drink though. I ran out of cereal milk yesterday. I haven't had anything to drink since then. There are no liquids in my apartment. I've been sweating a lot too. I think it'll be fine. Things usually turn out ok in the end.
So I sit back at my desk. I stare at my computer like I have been doing for the past 2 days. In those two days I haven't written anything. I remember hearing something about James Joyce spending a day revising only to end up with an extra comma and him taking that comma out the next day. I mean I'm no James Joyce but--. No, no buts. I'm nothing like James Joyce. And I need to get some water. People will just have to tolerate my odor. I think they can deal with it.
I get up out of my chair. I open my door. I beeline to Ms. Ellen's desk. I know she has water. She might not give it to me, but--. No, no buts. I need water, and I'm going to get it.

Monday, October 10, 2016

This is Living?

"Hey, sorry I kept you waiting, you kind of caught me at a bad time. You know, this novel isn't going to write itself."
Resisting the urge to yell at the small, chubby Asian man, the reporter nods back. Did he keep her waiting for fifteen minutes to work on a novel he could work on literally any time he wanted to? She breathes in deeply. The man smiles widely.
"Get in, get out," she says to herself. There is no way this guy is getting into Southern Living anyways. This interview is pointless, she thinks to herself. Unless he's some famous author she'd never heard of. Just because she's a writer doesn't mean she reads. From what the living room of the apartment is telling her though, this is not the case. A cardboard cutout of Darth Maul from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace sitting in the corner of a living room doesn't exactly scream literary. 
The reporter introduces herself. "Nice to meet you," responds the man. "I'm Munny Pang. Spelled M-U-N-N-Y. By the way, in case you were interested Munny is a Cambodian name that means smart."
By the way, the reporter wasn't interested.
"Thanks for stopping by The Victorian!" continues Munny. "It makes me happy you guys are writing about this. The Victorian usually doesn't get much attention, but I think it's a fine place to live."
The reporter smiles and nods. There doesn't seem to be any sarcasm in his voice. "You think so?" asks the reporter.
"I mean it's a bit rough around the edges, but it could be a lot worse. I enjoy the people here too. Have you met our concierge Ms. Davis?"
The reporter thinks back to the cranky curmudgeon that yelled at her for taking a candy from a bowl on her desk. That concierge?
"Oh, you must have seen her, she's the only concierge for our apartment building. I always looking forward to seeing her face. She's not the classic concierge but ultimately she's one of the constants in the Victorian and she always does her job."
Yes, that concierge. Wow, still no sarcasm. He looks forward to seeing her, even out of constancy? From what the reporter can tell the only thing constant about her is her rottenness. The reporter doesn't understand The Victorian at all. This apartment was in a "town making a comeback?" How? Last night she had the worst Taco in her life down the street at the creatively named "Los Tacos." She shakes her head. She thinks to herself this interview is pointless.
"What do you write?" asks the reporter. She figures she'll have an excuse to not interview Munny
if he ends up not being a literary figure of some importance.
Munny's eyes light up as if this is the first time anyone has ever expressed interest in his writing. "Thank you for asking!" he exclaims. "It's nice to talk about writing to a fellow writer. This is so exciting! Thanks for my making my day! Anyhow, I publish fantasy novels. You've probably never heard of the Bala Chonicles, have you?"
The reporter starts walking backwards. This guy is not worth any of her time.
"Anyhow, I try to enjoy writing as a side-gig, but I still dream of being able to make writing pay the bills full time. It's really something I love, it's why I get up in the morning, even if it's not with fiction. Heck I hate politics, but for the chance to be a writer I would even-"
The reporter closes the door on Munny and dashes away from his apartment. What a waste of time she thinks to herself. As the reporter fabricates an uninteresting interview she reflects on how she hates her job. She longs for the chance to write about something important, or better yet to write something important. She hardly considers this hellhole of an apartment complex worth even fabricating an interview. "God please help me," she thinks to herself.
Munny is still shocked and confused that the reporter walked out on him. He begins to think that she thought of him as such a waste of energy she didn't even bother to start an interview, but he  decides to dismisses this notion; it was probably an emergency. Munny sits back down on his couch. He wraps his arm around the Darth Maul cutout. He tries to smile. He begins to cry.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Whiter Shade of Pale

I guess there are disadvantages to having an electric stove. My half-cooked eggs sit in the middle of a pan, no longer cooking. I'm fairly certain power just went down throughout all of The Victorian, if not the entire surrounding area. I stand in the middle of my unlit kitchen, my tired eyes dilating in the now light-less kitchen.
I could interpret my misfortune as a sign. My uncooked eggs could be a symbol for how my efforts get inexorably interrupted and rendered for naught by the will of the universe. I could suppose that this is a message from God. A message that nothing will happen with my life, that my efforts to achieve anything are futile. But I don't think so. I don't believe in God, but if there was a God, I don't think he would tell me that. At least not in this manner. I don't think all of my life's efforts have been for naught. Some of them have yes, but not all. I have life left too. Not as much as others, but I like to see my glass of age as half-full. I have time to find something.
So the eggs aren't a symbol. But they do present me with a real issue of dinner. Considering I skipped lunch today, while I swallow rising feelings of anger at the world for delaying the satisfaction of my hunger, I'm still very hungry. I throw out the eggs. I look in the fridge and find nothing edible without some form of cooking, besides a cold, overcooked, four day old sausage patty. I'll treat myself tonight. I've been working hard and I could use some restaurant food. This dinner could put a bow on an otherwise mediocre day.
I step outside the Victorian and look around. It's dark. I decide not to go in the direction of Howell park for my own safety. The Victorian isn't exactly in the nicest part of town. But it's my home. It's what I have. After contemplating my options, I decide on Los Tacos. Is it the best Mexican restaurant in the world? No. But it is pretty good. Although I've never been thrilled by a meal there I've never been disappointed. It's typical, decent, six out of ten, inauthentic Mexican. I'm still excited for it though. It's still a treat. I pass the Exxon Mobil on the way to Los Tacos and the power is on. "Great!" I think excitedly. Surely Los Tacos will have power too. But to my amazement and disappointment it somehow doesn't have power. They're on the same block. How? My brain wants to keep walking to find another restaurant. My stomach wants otherwise.
Two notes sound as I open the door to the food store of the Exxon Mobil, a major third. Part of me thinks about how this sounds like a clock tower that's too lazy to finish it's job. But I try to stifle my cynicism. Sure, it's not Los Tacos, but it's better than a frozen sausage patty and half-cooked eggs. I examine the place. It's a food mart so I shouldn't expect it to have too much variety of food, but still it's pretty sparse. But they do have an isle of pre-packaged sandwiches.
When I get to the isle I see her. Tall, beautiful, with skin white as milk. I look into her eyes, dark brown eyes like a Belgian lager. I breath in. She's the one. Intoxicated with love I stumble over to her. "You're so beautiful," I say. "I am Munny. I love you." She looks at me disgustedly, grabs her sandwich and storms out of the store. "Drunk guys," I hear her say as the door closes behind her. As the moon shines down on her, her skin turns a whiter shade of pale.
I'm not sure why I did that. She is beautiful though. She looked like an Alisoun, an Alisoun Miller maybe. I'll never get to know her name though. I start to curse myself for acting so stupid and weird, but I decide not to criticize myself for losing what I never had.
I still have a hunger to fulfill, and the best part of my night is still ahead of me. I still have a chance to win a small victory with this sandwich. My one treat, my one consolation for this forgettable day is still ahead of me and I still look forward to it. When I look at the sandwich rack though there is only one kind of sandwich left: a breakfast sandwich. It isn't ideal, but at breakfast I do sometimes enjoy a good breakfast sandwich. Maybe I'll find out it makes an even better dinner.
I go to the cashier and purchase my sandwich. I open the package and take a bite. The sausage is cold. The egg in the sandwich is only half-cooked.