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Unsolicated Advice

Thursday, July 28
Last night, a man who doesn't write told me how I should write.

The CSU Writing Conference [Expounded]

Tuesday, July 26
The Writer’s Conference was located across the campus in a sector called: Trinity Commons and it was the conference portion of a church, which made me feel uneasy simply because I say the word “fuck” a lot. I decided to take the train into Cleveland and then walk from E. 4 to E. 24, because I wasn’t going to get a jog in so I decided that twenty city blocks would be a nice way to start the morning. And maybe it might have been, if I didn’t have to dodge 8 homeless guys a day. So when the conference had started—I had had my fill of homeless. A woman walked into a conference room of 70 people and asked for 3 dollars, and my first reaction was to say something “off color about the situation,” and then about 25 people looked at me as an asshole. But I didn’t care—I had been dodging homeless people all day. They were telling me about their stories and their problems, and I felt like a horse with blinders on—it was the only way for me to survive the day. I can’t feel guilty for every wandering soul that passes me by, no one can—your heart just can’t take dishing out that much pity per day, and all I could do was watch these people watching me and thinking, most of you drove in and this is the first homeless person you saw. You have that privilege of pitying that one person. Then I understood the main difference between myself and most [not all] other writers at this conference—I’m acute and most were pathetically sensitive.

From the start—I had my reservations.

Karen Fowler, who had written a number of books and the latest one is called the Jane Austen Book Club, had a one on one conference with me, and she said that it was bold of me to handle 10, but technically 12, characters in 9 pages and she said she had no problems with my work when it came to following the characters and she was very helpful. She said it was a draft away from being completed and that I was one of the strongest writers at this conference. It was nice going into the workshop knowing the questions that people were going to pose, and when the workshop actually started—it was great. The group was very diverse. One woman had multiple degrees and loved saying, “waning her children away from my bosom.” Another woman was in business, and she had did time at the Iowa Workshop. Her story was about seeing Mary in her bathroom mirror. There were two school teachers, and one guy who decided that 18 months ago he was going to write a book. Two other guys were in the CSU MFA program, and one was quiet but very sly about his wit. I didn’t think I was going to like him but he actually has a great eye about life, and the other guy was also a teacher and he was writing his memoirs on high school and sports literature. And then there was a girl who I call “Arlie-Esque,” well read, incredible insight, soulful, mentally strong, all the things that make a writer beautiful—but most importantly, she had a strong threshold for my attitude.

The workshop went well, everybody received great feedback. But mine drew some interesting commentary—the class overall supported my work [they actually workshopped my work without me the day before, privately, it was the first Tran Book Club]. But on my day, my instructor attacked it. She questioned a line or comparison used to Charles Bukowski, because she actually knew the man—her brother and “Charlie” were friends. She spent 12 minutes talking about the oriental table and how she hated how I talked about it, and argued the entire point about it being large and round. She said she saw and didn't see the room. She went paragraph by paragraph and said, “Let’s look at the flaws.” We spent 40 minutes on page two of a nine page story. Then with a half hour left of an hour and half workshop, I asked her if the ending worked and she said that I replicated the formula well. She called my work salvageable. I remember back to when my friend Marc’s work was called trite, and I imagined this must have been what his anger felt like—nerves popping like sores from your head to your nose, and all you can do is stand and feel the pain oozing. I walked off—wondering, “Do I just fucking suck and I’m too egotistical to see?” But the girl that was “Arlie-Esque” had said, “I know it feels bad, but she took a toothbrush to your story, she really believes in it even though she doesn’t sound like she does. Look what she did and not so much into what she actually said.” Then she told me how she read her poems and laughed hard for 5 long minutes. Of all the people there, she was the one that understood. This was my life from 8 to 9 on most days from Tuesday to Sunday. Lectures, readings, and then workshop, and then followed by some bohemian activities. It was a good experience, tiring, exhausting on all my parts, but memorable—but I’ll share a little bit of what I wrote. This is what I read for my public reading [that had to be 3 minutes long]:

Dear James,

Five days ago, I killed a man. When he fell, his body hit the ground stiff and fast. Practice targets never fell like that, they can stand up to multiple clips of gunfire. He only took two bullets to the chest. When I saw him up close, he had dust on his face, his arms were at his side, palms up, and he looked older than my father.

We had positioned ourselves just outside of the capital, moving a couple of miles a day. Usually, it was Lawrence Simons that called the point, but since our platoon was coming so close to civilian territory, he thought Bob McNamara could handle the job for the night. “The experience will be good for him,” he said. But more importantly, Simons wanted to talk to his wife; she was in labor that night.

The platoon advanced and set up camp just edging the man’s yard. That night, he started yelling at us [long after the fact, I found out it was because two of our men were stealing his chickens], then McNamara yelled out rifle and I fired on the man. It just took two bullets to the chest. Children [probably his grandchildren] were screaming from inside the house. And then two women came out and smothered the man with their bodies and tears.

And what Bob McNamara said he thought was a rifle, was actually a broom. He says, “Who the fuck sweeps their house at 10.30 PM?” Once the women composed themselves—they began to curse us. Later that night, I apologized relentlessly and tried to give them two hundred dollars out of my own pocket. They threw the money back at me and spit in my face, and then they continued to cry. When the sun came up, I stayed in the tank’s shade. The sun here makes you feel like you’re always wearing a second layer of skin. I stayed and listened to them cry for two days, stopping only to eat, pray, and sleep.

Simons checked in on me once and while, he told me he had a boy. And that these people tend to do their house cleaning at night, because it’s too hot during the day. “Just keep that mind for the future,” he said. After they buried him, they kept crying. Simons said it’s customary for the family to cry for the dead for 2 weeks. I smoked and read to their wailing, listening as if they were Johnny Mathis.

Louise Santiago is a guy we call Spanish Rice, because he’s part Cuban and Korean. He quit the seminary to join the Army and works as a minister’s assistant. He baptized me at a strip club before we left. I talk to him about God a lot. After I shot the guy, I asked Spanish if God was going to forgive me.

He said that when you confess to God, He grants forgiveness. Just like that, He gives you a clean slate and loves you all over again. I told him that the government forgave me and my mom forgave me. I hope his family will one day forgive me. James, I hope you can forgive me too, but I still don’t forgive myself. I asked Spanish, “What’s the use of believing in God if he can’t help you out now?”

He said, “God understands things get bad, and there are days He wishes He could do more, but all He can really do is offer you a cracker, some wine, and a good ear, and say—tomorrow man, it will be better. It’s not much, but it’s more than a person can offer you these days.”

Is the Lake Clean Enough to Absolve?

Monday, July 11
I told my mom about the eight people, who crossed the jogging path, as they headed towards the lake—dressed all in white. She asked me if they were the Triple K—her name for the Ku Klux Klan. I said that they weren’t, and then she asked me how I could be sure.

“They were black, Mom?”

They walked towards the lake, flowers in hand and then dropped them into the lake. They watched them float far out, and then two of them walked into Lake Erie fully clothed and I watched him baptized the young girl.

I Want My ATV!

Thursday, July 7

A sprinkle of Asian makes everything better—we’re paprika for the soul.

Thanks goes to Cristin for the link.

My Posts Are Getting Weirder

Tuesday, July 5

At the Fourth of July party, I told a girl, “If artists didn’t have art as an excuse for why they watch people, we’d all be perverts.”

I’m trying to understand myself better. I’m completely fascinated by other people’s lives; listening to their heartbreak, trials, sins, tragedies, and secrets. It was why I started watching “Diaries of An Affair,” where couples [with the aid of friends, lovers, and reenactments] would discuss the affair. I’m not interested in the actual affair--usually they’re boring, it’s the process of how these people got to this point, and who the other parties involved were affected. I love the story behind it. There’s a sense of empowerment for now knowing; a bizarre trust, because you are now part of a secret; a bond, because you know feel like you know a private side to a person.

With this insight, I can almost see the appeal of the priesthood [outside of no sex]--but the notion of looking at your congregation and knowing them more intimately than their own husband or wife, better than they know themselves, is exciting. The norm is to “know people” from what their actions and statements, but to “know a person” through their fears and guilt is a new perspective, concept, at least for myself.

My friend, who of late has enlightened me on the world, has been amazing me with this idea that we are just the sum of our secrets. And even the greatest seem so small when measured against what we don’t want others to know. She pointed out a couple of key searches she did. One being on “Forgiveness” and the other being “Confession”
which lead me to this site [http://www.notproud.com/confessed.php] and below are posted testimonials. They could be real. They could be fake; but you can’t help but pity them in someway.

Testimonial 1:
One of the very few problems with being sober is that you no longer get yourself into compromising situations. This is undoubtedly better the next day and in the long run, but it keeps things from happening. I am married, in my fifties, and have an adequate sex-life with my wife. I do not screw around. But we have several friends - women of the same age more or less - who have no sex life at all because of divorce, inattentive husbands or whatever. We are all very close and hug, but it never goes beyond that and never will. I sometimes have a fantasy that they end up in bed with my wife and I. But the only way this could happen would be with lots of alcohol - and that is no longer an option.

Testimonial 2:
I was at my best friend’s BBQ over the weekend and his 23 year old cousin was there. She's an addict and was jonesing big time. I told her I'd give her some vicodins if she blew me and she did.

Testimonial 3:
My husband has filed for divorce but I still love him and have gotten a new screen name that he thinks is someone else just so I can talk to him and find out if he still loves me at all. The person I am with this new screen name he really does like, and other than the location, name, and birth date, it'’s all me... the way I feel, the things I like to do... I just don't know what I'm going to do if he falls in love with my alter ego, and finds out it's me... I think he may hate me forever

This is Me, Being Boring in Person

Monday, July 4
To Do List:
1. Fuck O-Ren Ishii
2. Tell Vernita Green, “Babe, 50 Cent just ain’t fucking worth it.”
3. Insist that Budd stay with his other alias of Mr. Blonde
4. Teach Elle Driver sign language [LOL]
5. Kill Bill
6. Piss off non-US bordering blog community [Singapore]
7. Give Singaporeans a sense of humor
* Note to Self: May not be possible, thus far—no good Singaporean comedians
8. Unite men [and hot bi-sexual women] against fake internet whores
9. Prove that sparklers can be dangerous [when 6,000 are bounded together]
10. Burn Queen Elizabeth II effigy to prove how American I am [fuck you, tea]
11. Spend three hours with a person and fight the compulsion to judge them
12. Get the rabbit in my yard drunk on Remy Martin
13. Promote Josh Minton so he’ll sell me my soul back

MB Asked Me: Which Six Are Your Fix?
She didn’t say it like that, but she talks cooler in my mind and she’s got a bikini wax. So these are my SIX and they aren’t a best of list—it’s the tracks that I’ve been looping when I drive.

Get By [Remix]: Kanye West
2. Down & Out: Cam’ron feat. Kayne West and Syleena Johnson
Back Then: Mike Jones
Breath: Fabolous
5. On the Corner: Common feat. The Last Poets
Hey Man, Nice Shot: Filter

- I’d throw the six fix challenge onto the others, but let’s face it—I attract laziest of lazy. Even I surprised myself when I decided to write these.

And Finally, To the Guys Who Commented About Their Said Person:
Thanks, and keep the comments coming. Even the K.I.S.S. Army had to have started like this. And always remember—no matter how a woman treats you, we always get the last word in—by peeing all over the toilet and leaving the seat up. And don't feel bad, I think most of us did a search for CYBERAGE.COM fake passwords to see how real the deal was.

An Attractive Dunst

Friday, July 1
I was watching a movie called “The Secretary,” starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal. She plays a woman that is recently released from a mental institute, where she was incarcerated for being a cutter [a person that finds enjoyment in bloodletting], and then after her release, she applies to be James Spader’s secretary. It’s an S&M love story. James Spader asks Gyllenhaal to wear restraints, asks her to bring his papers on her knees, and as she reads his dictated letters—he spanks her. Their relationship isn’t about sex, but rather about fulfillment of Spader’s character’s desire to be obeyed and Gyllenhaal’s character’s desire to be needed, relied on when asked, or simply keeping her word. And then I thought about my sexual relationships, and how most of my thoughts regarding them were non-sexual:

After the party, she took me home.
She was part German and part Irish. We had met twice before that night, and she enjoyed talking. She spoke freely about religion, family angst, and traveling—in her mind, this was her being intimate. This was her sharing herself. And that was me, listening like a passenger in a stranger’s car that’s too afraid to change the station as she lightly kissed my chest. I tapped my finger on my neck, and thought about how it that was the same thing; how bored I was; about the Chinese water torture; I thought about how I wished I had driven. In that same breath she referred to her and me as us, and then I thought—I don’t know how to spell her last name.

This other woman looked like an attractive Kirsten Dunst.
She was an aerobics instructor, and infatuated with Austin Powers. I remember thinking—God, she has big hands. She was very explicit on where I could and couldn’t touch. When we kissed, she reminded me about the mass confusion that existed when people drew up the
boundaries to Israel.

She was an Italian with a small mouth and short tongue.
She would kiss hard. She had large breasts, and when my friend asked me about them I said, “It’s kind of like going to Thanksgiving dinner all by yourself, and then you realize that you’re all right on just the right one. And then afterwards you can’t help but to think what a shame it was that you couldn’t doggy bag the left one for later or for a friend.”

She and I were just friends.
We never touched intimately and we would sit up late drinking. Our goodbye hugs were a cheap excuse to touch; to hold one another for an extended amount of time. Neither of us had the nerve to say that we wanted more, and if this was all it was—we were going to be content with the sexual tension.

Relationships—they never seem to be based on what you believe that they are based on, sometimes they are based on what you aren’t. Sometimes they are based on what you wish you were. It’s easy to say that religion, physical attraction, education, background, lifestyle, and goals brought you two together, but I don’t believe it. I think we choose people based on roles that need to be fulfilled.

Be with a small woman, because it will make you feel bigger and stronger. Be with that hulking man because you can continue to masquerade as a little girl. Be with that attractive person, because it means you’re attractive. Be with that ugly person because you want to look understanding and compassionate. Be with that groupie, because you want to feel like a better artist/writer/musician/actor/dancer than you really are. Be with that person that loves walks on the beach, roses, and love songs because you want to look like a romantic, instead of someone gullible. Be with that man that treats you badly because you believe in being with people as crooked as you are. Be with that controlling woman because you’re looking for another mother in your life.

Isn’t an orgasm just a muscle spasm? But it’s a damn good one. And on that note, here are a couple of links that cheapen sex and relationships that much more:

Date To Save
Cuddle Party
Become A Cuddle Party Lifeguard: Cuddle Party Facilitator