Haikus, a bad joke, iPhone-phelia, Salinger and a new short story

To start, two haikus. One silly, one deadly serious:

Once in long while/ as a poison control test/ I eat Taco Bell.

In the autumn I/ go out of my way to step/ on the fallen leaves.

Now I have a bad joke for you. How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Answer: Uh, it’s a really obscure number… you’ve probably never heard of it.

I still don’t quite know what to put in this blog, so I’m trying some things out. Your comments and suggestions are greatly needed and appreciated.

This week’s main ramble is technology, because that’s what on my head for some reason. But mostly how much I have learned to love my iPhone. I’m usually the last to gush over technology. This is my first time ever having a smart phone and usually I’m as low technology and geek stuff as possible. But the times they are a-changing and though the dangers of being absorbed into a cyber-world and falling out of touch with humanity and nature have never been greater, technology has never simplified life more. It’s a strange dilemma and an all new set of life criteria to learn to balance. But that is the way that human culture and, dare I say, human evolution is headed. This ties in to the social media and branding post last week because all of a sudden we humans have some seriously crazy ways to connect across borders, across cultures, across realities, but we also have ways to detach from life in more deadly ways than ever through our technology.  Scared yet? Well, you should be, but you should also be excited like never before. Actually, I’m not trying to tell you how to feel, but take it from a guy who reads a lot of sci-fi. The potential realities both, amazing and horrifying, that are held within technology are kind of intense to think about. And that’s where I’m going to cut myself off. I’m allotting one or two paragraphs per post for rambling. The two people that read this blog already have a hard enough time getting though it.

But seriously, I love my iPhone. I’m not ashamed to say it. My life has never been better since the iPhone 4s entered my life (out of date, I know). Let me count the reasons: 1. I was going to have to buy a new iPod, now my phone is my new iPod. 2. The Calendar, though the new updated version is not as nice as the old one, I still use this all the time as the main way to organize my life. 3. Messaging, sharing, calling, linking things. C’mon it’s kind of scary how easy Apple has made things. 4. The Camera, probably one of the best cameras I’ve ever owned. 5. The Map app. So sweet, even though i don’t really need it since I pretty much never get lost. 6. Reminders and Notes. 7. The internet. What? It’s so crazy that we can get online pretty much anywhere and check our email and look up what different colors of boogers mean. 8. Apps. Just apps in general, and now I am going to get in to my favorite apps. 9. Chess app. 10. Weather Channel app. 11. Flashlight app. 12. Banking app. 13. Audiobooks app. 14. Podcast app and podcasts such as: Radiolab, Stuff You Should Know, TEDtalks, Science Friday, Seminars about long term thinking, DreamViews, and so many more that I haven’t even discovered. I am literally getting my mind blown like every day by how crazy the iPhone and technology in general is getting. I know I’m seriously behind on this stuff and only now catching on to what the peeps have been hip to for years, but whoa! iPhones and the stuff we can do in this rapidly changing, expanding, evolving techno-world are really, really, really nuts.

On another note, I recently watch the documentary/biography “Salinger”. Not that I really need a lot of reminding that J.D. Salinger is my favorite fiction author of all times, but this was a great way to remember why I love his writing so much. Granted, I did not come to like the man behind the writing as much after learning a little more about his life, but my respect for his work, his art, his genius has only bloomed and filled in. I want to take time to make a note that if all you have read from Salinger is The Catcher in the Rye please, please read everything else. Catcher in the Rye is a fantastic book, but nothing that one has been forced to read in high school should be merit to make a judgment on any writer’s work. Salinger lived his life being adamantly insistent that the public should neither know nor care about the author, but be exclusively concerned with the work. I agree with him on many levels, but I disagree with him on more. I have no idea what fame is like, but I would consider the downfalls of notoriety to be an easy trade to be published and read by millions. He did not feel the same. So he became a recluse, hasn’t given the public any writing for over 40 years and never let the press so much as steal a picture of him. Meanwhile he has been writing and crafting every day, presumably, for the last 40 years. After his death he released his work and gave instructions that it should be published in sessions between 2015 and 2020. I am living my life for those five years. R.I.P.  J.D. Franny and Zooey changed my life like no book has ever done.

On that note. I’ve been reading a lot of Salinger short stories lately. Specifically the collected stories that were published in magazines, mostly in the 40’s. Of course they’re fantastic, but they’re pretty different from his novels and other published books from the ’60’s. There was one particular story that wasn’t exceptionally great, but it was very good and it sort of sparked something in me. It’s titled A Boy in France and it was published in the Saturday Evening Post on March 31, 1945. It’s about a young man in the trenches of France during WWII, just trying to find a foxhole to sleep in, and reading a letter. Essentially that’s it, but it shook something loose in me and inspired a short story. So if you can find Salinger’s story then you can read it and see the inspiration. If not, just enjoy this story. I’m not willing to title it just yet, since I literally just finished it a few moments ago. It’s a rough, rough draft, and the ending is especially shaky, but I thought I’d share with you a glimpse into my process:

               The boy took the 50 pound bag off his back and for the hundredth time he thought about the last time, somewhere unseeably far in the future, when he would take that bag off for good and how his griping shoulders would weep with joy. He hated how he hurt, and how the hurt made him complain, and how the complaints made him regret, and how the regret drove him to homesick fever dreams. But there was denying, traveling, at least his kind of a wandering way, was a weary business. And he had to give the aches and pains their place in this adventure. It was only fair.

                The door opened and his incidental bunk-mate, traveling companion and compatriot in rowdy raucousness stepped into the dark, infernal room. Two twin beds, semi-clean sheets just waiting to be dampened by their sweat soaked bodies, a bathroom on the other side of a paper thin wall next to one bed, a dresser filled with dead cockroaches; there were spider’s web in most, if not all, of the corners, a ceiling fan missing two blades and a rusted window with no screen.

                “Nice place,” Axel says, unloading his backpack and heading straight for the shower.

                “Lordy, lordy, am I glad to be off that bus. No shitting you, I think the guy next to me crapped his pants. If I wasn’t as tired as I was I think I might have been tempted to vomit right into his crap-stained lap. Luckily I was passed out the majority of that ride.”

                “Yea. Five bucks each isn’t bad for the both of us. And we’re right by the river. What river is that? What country are we even in?”

                “It’s the river Kwai, that’s the bridge to Terabithia, and we’re in Narnia.” Axel stripped down to his boxer shorts exposing pink flesh striped like a zebra with red sunburnt streaks.

                “Right. So shall we see what Narnia has to offer once we’re settled in here?”

                “Always with the plans,” Axel stretched like a tiger just waking up to a bearable hangover. “Let’s just head to 7-11 in a bit so I can pick up some of that disgusting rice wine and then grab a bite and see what we see.”

                “Right.”

                Axel retreated to the shower and the boy retired to his bed, but not before extracting from his bag a few essential things. How he loathed that bag at this moment. Though he was not so full of loathing that he did not remember the landlocked days of wanderlust when dreams of that bag were his only escape, his seldom joy. He laid down on the bed, which he had been sure to check for mold, blood, and bed bugs before laying down. He held in his hand a 5 year old iPod, and a handwritten note on a postcard.

                He had only 10 minutes or so to ache and to wallow before Axel came out to shake him from his meta-emo-contemplation. It was a good thing to have a man like Axel as his travelling partner. This boy could disappear for days into some inner landscape and fail to extract the sense of awe and the beauty from his exotic surroundings if not properly goaded. Axel was just the man to keep the boy from withdrawing into his more conditioned, shadowy surroundings.

                Only 8 minutes or so left. The boy was having a hard time deciding on the proper music to accompany his few remaining moments of despondency. He chose wisely, he thought, Greg Brown. With the headphones in place the boy could now begin to examine the postcard which he’d examined several dozen times already. On the picture side of the postcard was a photograph from the 1920’s or ‘30s. It was a picture of several boys in scarves, caps, coats and mittens laying down or posing with their wooden, steel-runner sleds. It felt terribly out of place with his present tropical, muggy surroundings, which was the point, it seemed. He nearly fell in to the photograph. He could feel the frozen nose, dripping snot and the pulsing beat of the sparrow’s heart that only young children know about in their most boundless states of excitement.

                He had only 5 minutes left. He turned the postcard around and read the words he had read, reread and memorized forwards and backwards.

My Wanderer,

                Your last letter makes it sound like you are having adventures that most people only dream about. But I hear your sadness, or maybe just homesickness, behind the words. You can’t hide anything from me. I don’t know why you still try. Your living the story of a lifetime right now. Your living your dreams. Your going to look back on this time when your older and be so happy to have these memories. Don’t forget that ok? Just keep reminding yourself. Think about how much your going to have to write about. Your the most beautiful person I know, but I know you don’t see it that way.  I don’t care, I love the way you are.

Love,

Cadence

P.S. just because your traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. How many times do I have to remind you?

                He put the letter down and pretended to be annoyed by her grammar just so he wouldn’t get weepy. He only had 2 minutes. He had told her too many times the difference between you’re and your. But he came to the same conclusion that he always did, he knew she was right. About everything. She always was. And soon he knew that he would be laughing and drinking in another beautiful, vivid town. He’d be soaking in the air and street food and colorful people of a new place. But for now he wanted to put his hands on his chest and see if he could feel the tender parts of his heart to compare them to the knotted muscles of his shoulders. To see if hearts carried burdens in the same way as other parts of the body.

                The shower door opened and steam came out to mix with the muggy air. The boy pretended to just be waking from a power nap.

                “Let’s do this,” he hoped he sounded sincere.

                “That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s hijack a tuk-tuk and cross the border to Burma!”

                “Yea, or let’s just start with dinner.”

                “K, either way. Hey, do you have that magic powder? I’m chafing somethin’ fierce, if you know what I mean.”

                The boy handed Axel the “magic powder”, Axel coated his entire body in the cooling, drying stuff. The boy put away the postcard without it being seen. He liked to keep his bouts of wandering weariness just his little secret.

*And just to make sure you made it to the end of this blog, here’s a secret haiku:

The teacher stops, mid-speech./Students faces turn, green, blaming./Don’t pass gas in class.

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