Archive | June, 2010

The Storm

9 Jun

I’ve had, since starting this blog two days ago, lots of ideas on things to write. But here’s my topic that hijacked them all tonight: writing. I was talking to my friend Rachael today and I brought up the fact that I’ve been close to finishing my second novel for near a year now. By close I mean if I actually sat down and got to work, I could have a rough draft done in about two weeks. But I can’t seem to sit down and actually work on it. Part of it is definite laziness. I’d rather read or ride my bike than sit in front of a computer and type. Which, since you’re an astute reader, you’d be wondering why I’ve thus taken on the task of a blog? Well, it’s simple: I want to get back into the habit of writing. Sure my wrists start to hurt, my eyes get watery, my head starts to bob, but… but I am writing! I am feeling accomplished, I am feeling egocentric, I am feeling like what I am doing might actually someday make a positive difference in the world, at least with my novels; and that even though I’m wasting my time (we all are, aren’t we?), at least I’m not hurting the world through my egregious ambitions. I’m a firm believer in the adage, “All the world needs are things of beauty.” So why not create beauty instead of ugliness? Of course, this blog isn’t really creating beauty, is it? No. Probably not in any measurable way. But it’s forcing me (I’m forcing me) back into the habit of writing after my extended break. The worlds of fiction are swimming deeply in my head and I need to start putting some down to paper again. But I’m scared. So this blog is my attempt at wading slowly back to the deep end. One reason I took a break from writing was because I spent three years of my life, possibly more, writing and rewriting a novel. It was backbreaking work, and though rewarding, it was also full of disillusionment on my part. Not the writing so much as the process and the expectations. But what in my life hasn’t been part disillusion? Furthermore, I have been universally denied (with one waitlist) into creative writing programs. Sure they judged my short fiction. Sure I knew that going in. And at least I tried, right? I realize that my short fiction is weak. I realize my long fiction is weak. I realize my abilities as a writer are something of a novice, which makes it that much harder to work towards something that will again, be eventual hurt and disappointment. But isn’t that life? So by extension, isn’t that the writing process? I suppose all this is part of my disillusionment, which, some may call dreams, others hopes, and yet others, nightmares; that is what defines the people who create beauty from those who create ugliness from those who don’t create anything at all. But we all have our place. I hope mine is to someday create something of beauty. That could even be my eulogy: “Justin lived, died, but most importantly, added beauty to this oft-most cruel, unfair, harsh world.” In the meantime, I must try and write when I can; to that end, because I often let everything get in my way, I propose to write a blog every day for at least one month. That is the goal. Some will be funny, others more tending to the serious side of life; some personal, others more general. Though writing, writing is what this is all about. Writing is what I’m about. In fact, without the idea, the notion and concept of being a writer, of living that illusion (disillusion?), I am lost in the sea of tides. My anchor is writing, of weaving thoughts and words together in hopeful climatic harmony; of not being too cliché or boring; of making someone think (if only myself); of attempting my vain goal of releasing things of beauty into the world. Join me if you wish. Writing is a topic to which I will doubtlessly return.

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Apartment hurting, er, hunting

8 Jun

It is quite amazing to me how hard it is to find a decent apartment that actually matches its price. Take today in Missoula, Mont., where I found myself apartment hunting. The first place I visited was a modest, but quite standard price in Montana, studio for $425. It was one of the dirtiest places I’ve ever had the displeasure of considering, for even a millisecond, worthy of my future home. The building was built in 1920, and while that was used quaintly as a marketing appeal (“Look at the beautiful wooden floors and hands craftsmanship!”), it was actually just outdated. The hand craftsmanship, if there ever was any, had probably faded in 1960, when the last update on the place was done. I would feel uncomfortable walking in there without shoes. Nor would I live there if someone paid me.

So on I moved to a place across town, a little more expensive and placed in the basement of a married couple’s new residence. After driving up a mountain, and upon politely knocking I hear a ferocious attacking of the door and stentorian barking from the inside. I back up from the door. After a few minutes of me hearing them putting the dogs outside, the door is opened and I am allowed inside. The room is decent-sized, new and clean but the bathroom is across the hall and the whole thing is viewable from the front door. Basically, they claimed privacy, but there’s not a lot. Also, apparently the dogs will sleep downstairs, next to my room and bathroom. Upon getting to the upstairs, I see the dogs, two large German Rottweiler’s jumping into the back door and still barking, so loudly I can hardly imagine the glass door actually being there. “They’re really big teddy bears,” the lady says. The man walks out back and smokes as the dogs are jumping up on him and barking, he’s shoving them down. “They just take a little adjusting.” Apparently.

The third place was also in a basement. It was dark, but that wasn’t the real problem. The floors raised and lowered at gradual degrees all through it, as did the very low ceiling. I had to duck down the hallway twice just to get into the place. Then in the apartment, I felt not only claustrophobic, but like I was tripping on acid in the room of mirrors or something from Alice in Wonderland. Why did this room shrink as I walked to the window, I wondered. Why is the closet door shorter than my chest?

All those places respectively rose in price too. This reminds me of the classic problem: live in squalor but afford it or go into debt for something comfortable?

Or find a roommate who is never home.

The hunt sadly continues tomorrow.

Orange Juice Kills

8 Jun

Coming back to America, your home, after an extended stay in a foreign country, or countries in this case, should be one of the best feelings ever. Should be. Why is it not? Because airport security, industrially abbreviated as TSA, threw my orange juice away. I was on a flight from Paris to Chicago operated by the lovely Air France, when I was given an orange juice with lunch. Though I had already some Pepsi with lemon, my new favorite taste by the way, and wasn’t in favor of orange juice at that precise moment. But I though it would be a perfect drink before my flight in Chicago, so I kept it for later, and seeing as I had already went through French airport security, I didn’t foresee an issue with that. Or rather, knowing what I already did about American aviation security, I did foresee an issue, but was hoping to bypass it by feigned ignorance, and concealing said liquid.

It didn’t work. Oh, hell, I thought as they pulled my bag aside, rather quickly pulled out the orange juice and told me I had to throw it away. I said I wanted it. The older man who held my orange juice in his hand said I could go out of the security area and drink it. I considered it. But then I figured that I’d win by not giving him the satisfaction of helping me; I think he wanted me to drink it, especially after I told him I was given it from my eight hour flight from France, and the sad look in my eyes when he said I had to get rid of it. He said it didn’t matter that it came from another flight, I couldn’t take it through the airport but I could go drink it. I shook my head. Welcome to America, I thought, when I couldn’t even keep an orange juice given to me on my previous flight. An astute reader should judge that I’m really not that concerned with orange juice in particular, and though I like it, and wanted it, I’m really going to use this as a weak set-up for my disdain for the government that oversees our esteemed TSA agency. For meanwhile, in places of far more importance, oil is spewing up the ocean floor at thousands, or is it hundreds of thousands, of gallons a day, sickening animals who simply wanted to live. And where was our government in permitting an off shore oil well to be set-up with no emergency plan in place? Meanwhile, our so-called health reform makes a mockery of our citizens and the government’s ability to pass meaningful legislation for those citizens, which is, from what I recall, the point of a democracy; something about “by the people, for the people” is its tenant that goes more unnoticed everyday. But we are so much safer for the fact that my orange juice has been thrown out and my one pleasure of the morning gone into a large plastic bucket full of wanted liquids that posed serious threats to our country’s wellbeing.

My point, if there is one outside of general apathy toward our current ruling power, is that our country has spent more time and wasteful resources on a mockery of getting to fly, which, as I may point out, perhaps irreverently, terrorist attacks in the air have killed far less than any current war our country is engaged in, which continues to go on, with no, or little, consideration to those lives. My points in this post are probably too scattered to stick, but when discussing the government, a scattered entity in itself, which doesn’t even have continuity with its missions: does it want to save lives or kill more? Or is it just to make our lives more miserable by denying juice to people who have already been through security and already have flown eight hours and still have another eight to go before arriving home?

I hazily remember reading something that the now banned in Texas, secularist Thomas Jefferson said. To summarize, it went, If a government no longer works towards the ends it was set-up to do, [democracy for the people, by the people yadda yadda], that the people have the power and authority, as well as the duty, to dismantle it and start again. Have we lost that power? Or have we ever truly had it?