I used to watch him after school. You can get really close to the basket in the gym if you crawl under the little risers on the short side, rather than the main ones on the long side. I was right behind the basket. From there I'd be facing him as he ran towards me. I had to sit on some of the struts with my head at stomach-level, otherwise, if he just looked across, he'd see me. I could've stood up, but then he'd've seen me. I'm taller'n him. By a lot. That's part of the point.
I used to joke with myself that I could hide in the dark in a way that he couldn't, but it's not really that dark under the bleachers; the flourescents get everywhere, and it's more like a bright grey down there.
So what I had was a great view of his stomach, which was interesting, because when you're playing, or when you're watching people play, the one thing you never look at is their stomachs. He used to wear these normal sized t-shirts in high school -- back before everybody had to wear oversize stuff even on the court -- so when he reached for it his shirttail would ride up and I could watch how his stomach muscles stretched and bunched. It's something you never think about, you just do it, or don't do it. And early on, he did it wrong. You could tell by the way his stomach muscles worked. And as he caught on and started to do it right, you could see the difference in the way his stomach worked.
I learned a lot from this, but that's not why I watched him. I mean, we didn't know each other very well. We didn't socialize. After a while I got really aware of what my belly was doing and I could visualize it in my head and make it do what I wanted it to do that way. And I made sure that I never did what he was doing. He was like a negative example.
I guess it's weird. I don't know. He had something that no one else had. He was always an alternate, and senior year, he didn't even make the team. He improved a lot, but so did the rest of us, and we started out ahead. His thing was that he never gave up. It's not like it sounds. It's not like: "Dude is so cool, he never gives up." Everybody gives up. Everybody gives up. The guys who make the team, the guys who start, like me, we're determined, and disciplined, and all that. We work for it, hard. But none of us work for it if we don't get some idea early on that we're going to be good, if we don't get, like, praise, and encouragement, and "you're a rock star!" and shit. We need to know that the work is going somewhere.
He didn't need to know that the work was going somewhere. He just kept doing it and doing it. It was so obvious that he was never going to get the Stuff. He might never make the team, and if he did, he wasn't going pro. Not ever. Too short. He quit growing at 15 already, it was pretty obvious. He did it beyond the point that normal people get bored. I'd watch him go at it for, like, two hours after school; set up after set up, fail after fail. His progress was so slow you couldn't see it. Not at all. I'd get bored watching him and wouldn't do it for a few months, and when I came back, he'd be better, but so little better that I'd be discouraged. All we ever said to each other was a chin-jerk. But there's something about that ability to just keep doing it that gets under my skin, you know? In what way, I'm not sure.
I don't know if I admire it or not. Dude won a YouTube contest. Yeah. Good for him. But then what? I mean, maybe that time could've been spent going again and again and again at something he was actually going to be really, really good at, and not just good at because he spent so damn many hours. And what about all the other stuff around it? I mean, that username: whiteflightbd. It's not like he doesn't know. His dad pushed that on him. Thought it was funny. Fine, whatever, but he could've done one less dunk and spent that time thinking for a second about how that name was a bad idea. I can't even feel bad for him 'cause I was the rock star in school and he wasn't. He was the weird kind of in, but not really, dude who had people to hang out with but no real close friends. Or maybe he did and I just didn't know any of them. All my friends played, maybe his friends didn't. Maybe that's why he wasn't that good.
I don't know if I admire him or if I think he's kind of sad and horrible. No, I didn't obsess much. But there's something in him that I just don't have, something that no one I know has. And maybe that's a good thing. Because there's something in me, something much more obvious, that he just doesn't have. And I'd rather have mine than his.
***** Please note, folks, this is fiction! I just made it up! I don't know this guy or anything about him!
I'll be teaching a weekend blogging workshop through Kearny Street Workshop this weekend in San Francisco's SOMA district. Saturday is a free two-hour blogging 101 class for absolute beginners. The goal will be to set up your first blog. Sunday is a three hour blog writing and marketing workshop with me and Glenda Bautista that costs $50.
You can get details here or below. Please spread the word to those folks in your life who want more blog in theirs!
Weekend Blogging Workshop
July 18-19, 10:00am - 1:00pm
KSW @ PariSoMa, 1436 Howard Street
This weekend intensive blogging workshop will take
you from beginner basics to blog bragging rights. Sign up for one day
or both, and get into the blogosphere.
DAY ONE: Writing 101 with Claire Light
Saturday, July 18, 11am - 1pm
This FREE two-hour class will help absolute beginners
get off the ground. We will discuss what a blog is; what things
(skills, technologies) you will need to start a blog; how to actually
create your blog; and how to connect with the blogosphere so you're not
casting your pearls into the void.
Prerequisites: familiarity with email programs and
web browers; moderate skill with Microsoft Word; possession of a laptop
DAY TWO: The Art of Blogging with Claire Light and Glenda Bautista
Sunday, July 19, 10am - 1pm
This three-hour paid class is designed around
examining blogging as a writing form, or a written art form. We will
discuss blogging as a form; what are its opportunities and limitations;
what is commonly done within the blogging form and what are some
interesting outliers; what technologies exist to facilitate blogging as
a writing form. We will discuss "blog marketing" not as a commercial
enterprise but as a method of connecting to a community that furthers
the art of the blog. We will also do writing exercises in various
blogging forms, on the internet. The result of this three-hour workshop
will be a number of blog texts and a group project (for example: a blog
carnival, or possibly even a group blog.)
Prerequisites: you must have a laptop with wireless
for the session and have an established blog; this session may not be
ideal for absolute beginners.
Cost: $50 per person Minimum class size: 5
To register by check, please send check or money order to:
Kearny Street Workshop, PO Box 14545, San Francisco, CA 94114-0545.
Or pay online by clicking here and then clicking on the Buy Now button.
Finished Epileptic by David B. The first half was wonderful. The second half kinda fell apart. But that was because it was a memoir, and when kids get into their teens, the world gets immensely larger and it's harder to make a clear narrative out of it.
Still haven't started on Phase Two of Draft Two. Too much other stuff to do.
The thing about Leonardo is that he can't draw a map to save his life. So if he asks you, in that hopeful puppy dog way of his with the big eyes looking so cute (he really only looks cute the first couple times and then after that it gets annoying), "Should I draw you a map?" you should say, "No thanks, I got it."
He drew me a map once and all I was trying to do was get to his mother's house to pick up an armoire, but I ended up parking in a viewing pull-off on the edge of a cliff (it was very pretty, I'll give him that) and then walking through a forest and being accosted by large canines which I suspect weren't dogs (okay, there was only one, but it was pretty big), and then trying to find my way through one of those hedge labyrinths (even though the map said that I had to go through the labyrinth, but it was pretty clear when I got there that I could've just gone around it; it was only about fifty feet wide and seventy feet deep) and I got so lost in it that I spent the entire afternoon there and by the time I got out the other side I had to go back because I had run out of time (I went around it on the way back, by the way.) I never did find his mom's house and, even though I had paypalled the money over beforehand, never got the armoire. It wouldn't have done any good if I had anyway, since I wouldn't have been able to pull the car up to the house.
So after that I would have nothing to do with his maps and told him so and even then one day he tried to draw me a map of how to get from the café we were sitting in to the Scottish Rite Temple, which is easy, you just go to the lake and walk around the lake until you're there -- you can see it from almost anywhere on the lake. But he had to go messing with it. I walked away while he was drawing -- to make my point -- so he hurriedly finished and crumpled it up and threw the map after me.
I heard the wad of paper go "patsch" on the concrete behind me. Then, after a pause, I started to hear crackly scrabbling sounds that were so weird that I turned around and the stupid map had gotten up on its four corners and was scrabbling after me. It was creepy. So I just decided to ignore it and go on my way, but every time I made a turn that it didn't want me to make, it would start making this weird screechy sound and if I turned around it would be up on its hind-corners waving its front corners in the direction it wanted me to go and screeching. It was totally wrong, by the way. It was always pointing either directly away from the lake or perpendicular to the direction you needed to go to get to the lake. I never followed its directions but it kept following me and screeching anyway. It was embarrassing.
So finally, when we got to the lake, I turned to the map and patted my leg and it came running up. To tell you the truth, it was kind of cute, in a creepy, fuck-off-and-leave-me-alone kind of way. So when it got to me I hesitated, but only for a second, and then grabbed it and tore it into tiny pieces and fed it to the flock of Canada geese (with the one, big, grey domestic goose with the orange beak and claws) that suddenly materialized. The map didn't struggle or make a sound. The problem was that the geese were really aggressive and, the moment they saw that I was scattering map parts, they ignored the crumbs and came directly at me. So I flung the bits of the map into the air and ran for it.
And, of course, I ended up running away from the lake and it took forever for me to get to the Scottish Rite Temple since every path to the lake seemed to be manned by aggressively hungry geese. By the time I got there, the dance was over.
And those aren't the only things that have happened with me and Leonardo's maps. What I'm saying is, no matter what you have to do -- even if you have to threaten him with a knife or something -- don't let Leonardo draw you a map. Seriously. Art and orientation don't mix.
It was Lita's favorite movie when she was 16 and, since she did herself in on her 17th birthday, it had to do as her favorite movie for all time.
Menny didn't feel any guilt for being bratty to her, or for her last words to Lita being "I hate you!" because they had fought about Menny being too little to go on the excursion Lita had planned with her friends and Menny had stormed out and slammed the door, and Lita had offed herself late that night before Menny got to see her again and receive her apology. What she felt guilty for, all this time, was how she had told Lita a few months before that her loving that movie was stupid.
"You're not even black!" she told Lita, sneeringly, and Lita said, "You don't have to be black."
Menny didn't like saying "black." But it was true. And that made the whole argument all the more disturbing.
For their friend Angela's eighties-themed, fancy-dress 35th birthday, Robin suggested that, since it was also the 20th anniversary of the film, they go as Rosie Perez and Radio Raheem. Robin could get love/hate rings made and carry a boom box, and Menny could learn the intro dance and go in satin boxer shorts, boxing gloves, and a black jog bra. Menny had never not wanted to do something so much in her life, but she had no words for why. She had no words for it at all, not "yes," or "no," so Robin took it as a given, and got Menny the shorts and gloves the next day. Two days later, the film arrived on netflix.
Menny got started learning the dance as she did with all projects, right away. From the opening squeal of "Fight the Power," through every thump of the break, down to the flicking hips at the end, she felt like she was one gyration away from throwing up. After the second run-through, she could no longer remember what Lita was actually wearing, or how she actually did her hair. Lita's face was now framed by Rosie Perez' fluffy, layered do. Lita was now standing in her room in a shiny blue leotard, over shiny, electric blue leggings, and warmed by a severely cropped black pleather jacket. She was running-manning out the door, thrusting her entire body, incrementally, through the door with shoulder pops.
Okay, this is obviously the beginning to a longer story, which I got stuck on. I'll just post it as is.
The lonely phallus said to the lights, "What art thou?"
"A bright-living, fast-dying phenomenon," the lights said, "neither male nor female. With pretty hair. No, you can't fuck me."
The lonely phallus sighed. "How did you know I wanted to fuck you?"
"Everyone wants to fuck me," the lights replied. "Women want to squeeze the brightness and heat between their thighs, want to have radiant scorch-marks. Men want to dive in, as you do, head towards the light, go back to death, and not forward, irrevocably. I don't know what the transgendered want to do. It's probably not categorical. Children want to give me a wet willy or the chills, depending. Or they want to see how to hold a shifting ball of light between their hands, before swallowing it."
The lonely phallus said, "I am true to my own nature. Nothing else."
"As am I," the lights said back.
The lonely phallus asked, "And what is that nature?
"The essence of light, it is a great secret," the lights said, "but I'll tell you if you give me your mirror."
The lonely phallus looked as pleased as a phallus can look when it is already fully erect, "I was already considering giving you my mirror, it said. "To double your pretty hair."
"Then listen closely," the lights said. But they had already faded by this time.
Okay, so I've finished Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens, which is an extremely mediocre book. Waaaay overrated. Both Pratchett and Gaiman are much better on their own. Also finished Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which is the melancholy, literary, zombie YA nov. It's good, only ... somehow Ryan manages to flub the writing of the key moments and scenes. Like, where a scene turns, somehow the transitions tend to falter, so I don't know the scene has turned and have to go back a couple of paragraphs to figure out what the new situation is again. Argh.
Also, been stuck for a week about a dozen pages from the end of da nobble. Next time I get to it I'll finish it, and then Phase One of Draft Two will be done. I also might have found a novel writing group. Yay! More good news forthcoming in upcoming weeks.
In those days, Marilyn earned her last name. She was a dove of a woman, sitting outside your window uttering plump, satisfied sounds while a scrap of paper whirled uncatchable around your making-waffles kitchen floor.
In those days we couldn't imagine Tom and Al apart. They each had a tattoo: Al on his left buttock of Tom's name in lowercase with "A-L" in blockletters in the spaces between; Tom on his right buttock of exactly the reverse. They eddied in love on the window sill, puddled in love on the kitchen floor, humped big piles of laundry love on the living room carpet.
They were blank walls to one another tAoLm and Marilyn. She couldn't hear him past the glare, and he could see nothing sexy in her. The muffs of her side-hairs dampened sound, bent rainbows around her head. All beautiful men were gay; all beautiful women wore four-inch heels and pony tails. The afternoon was solid; the night was silver, the mornings gold.
That day of taping she lost two sequins at once in the dressing room; looking for them on the floor she saw them configured together with the gash of a stargazer lily stamen like this:
and she knew something was going to happen. In the hallways, as the young clipboard women called "time!" and "time!" and "five minutes please, everybody five minutes!" a breath of ice touched her clavicle and a man walked by her, free and free. Three sequin-shapes wriggled down the left leg of his tight pants and fell out onto the floor. She stood over them, reading an "o," an "m," and a "t."