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I can’t get enough of words

I can’t get enough of words

I like words like other people like pies, cars, dogs or cats, parties, the opera, the outdoors, winning and praise. Words are nice packages of meaning. I see a word and exalt. Even if it’s a word whose meaning I don’t care for. Like dull, puke, force, putrid, or remiss. My mind salutes all words.

And how great it is that I don’t have to pay for words? Every word I’ve used so far in this piece cost me nothing. I never have to rent or buy a word. They are offered up for free in my mental chamber. I’ll never receive a bill for these tasty letter assemblages.

And if this wonder wasn’t enough, I take what I got for nil, organize it into an entertaining semblance, give it a title, and get money. For words, I got for free!

I like to meet other word assemblers. Especially the dead ones who lived long ago. There’s something about word corralers from back a ways that’s fresher for me. Maybe it’s the words they used were newer long ago. New things shine because people haven’t stopped noticing them. They still have the wow factor. Even though those author’s books are read today, they still have that fresh mind shine.

Ambrose Bierce

That was the reason for my time travel visit today to 1870, San Francisco, and the office of The Overland Monthly magazine. I walked into the office of one of its staff writers, the great wordsmith, Ambrose Bierce. Back then you never needed an appointment to visit someone. You showed up and they had to deal with you. It was before the advent of Scheduling, whose concept was invented by Senator Charles Sumner on his death bed in 1874, when he was reputed to have said, “If I knew the Reaper was to have come calling this day, I would have gone fishing.”

I shared with Ambrose that I was from the future. He thought that was a funny concept and wanted to hear more of my story. Writers want to hear other writers words from both their hand and mouth.

I told Ambrose about the time I came from, the device I travel by to other times, and some favorite stories from my travels. I shared a recent time trip to Greece, the year 321 BC. I met up with the philosopher Aristotle after he had just given a lecture on the nature of the Universe and the particulars. I asked Aristotle if he would like to snort with me. We held hands and snorted out loud as we walked through the countryside.

Bierce said my wording was marvelous. I asked him to share with me some his words. He related the story of the dog and the duck. The dog was constantly on edge about the possibility of intruders venturing onto his person’s property. If the dog was asleep, and the wind rustled a leaf, the dog would leap to standing, belching out boisterous barks to the imagined trespasser. One day a migrating duck flying over the property was overcome by fatigue and landed within the confines. Within seconds, the dog was on the duck, with the intention of its demise. But soon the dog was sneezing up a fit due to a feather allergy. It was apparent the dog might meet its own conclusion, when the duck began to sing the ditty, Camptown Races. The dog ceased its sneezing, and during the opportune moment, sang, “Oh! doo-dah day!”

Bierce and I sang a few rousing rounds of Stephen Foster’s words. Then sat in silence for a half hour. Worders often enjoy bouts of quietude. It allows us to watch words prance around in our minds, like deer through the pine forest.

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The things I do to try and get published

The things I do to try and get published

Burton's Gentlemen's Magazine

For the tenth time I sent manuscripts of my book of time travel stories, It’s About Time, for consideration to major publishers, Penguin, Hachette, Mcmillian, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, but they wrote back saying they were not interested. I stopped submitting my writings to them because I figured ten times was enough since I have ten fingers and ten toes and they are enough.

I came up with a new and I was sure a better way to get my writings published. I got in my time machine and traveled to 1839, Philadelphia, and the offices of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, with the idea that due to a dearth of writers during that time period, they would enthusiastically consider what I’d written. With my manuscript tucked under my arm, I asked who I thought was the clerk if I could speak with the publisher, William Evans Burton. The clerk was a sickly, thin and malevolent man who said I could do no such thing. It was then I realized he was Edgar Allen Poe. I looked off and pretended that I was interested in a spider web on the ceiling. This was my way to not let on that I was in the ecstatic state of a celebrity sighting. Pre-1920s, the status of a celebrity hadn’t been invented. People we now consider as famous, back then were just another person who did something during the day.

I’d read that Poe was unkind to other writers, and so after calming down, I looked at him and said, “You must be Mr. Poe. I sincerely enjoyed reading your short story, Manuscript Found in a Bottle. I wish I’d written it.” Poe smiled. A writer loves to hear from other writers that they wish they’d written something the he or she wrote. It’s our way of saying that a power greater than us is the author our word musings, and sometimes the transmission we get is jack shit in comparison to the gems others receive.

Poe said he recently became an editor of the magazine and would be delighted to take a look at what I’d written. With huge misgivings I handed my manuscript to Mr. Poe. He said I should come back in a few hours to hear his assessments of my work.

I left and went for a stroll down the streets of Philadelphia. I came across The Betsy Ross Bespoke Tailoring and Victuals Shoppe. I went in and was met by a cantankerous elderly woman chewing tobacco and sewing a garment. I figured that was “her” and I looked up at where there wasn’t a spider web on the ceiling. Betsy spit her chaw onto my shoes and yelled at me that she had no time for skulking vagrants.

I left and walked a little further until I came across a street musician busking for pennies. He was singing Oh, Susanna, one of my favorite songs. I started to sing along. He stopped singing and asked how I knew that song since he’d only written it that morning. I realized it was the composer Stephen Foster, pre-fame. I looked at him with the celebrity stalker gaze, and he asked me if I was ill. I’d forgotten to pretend look at the cobwebs on the ceiling because we were outdoors. I lied that I wasn’t feeling well, left a dollar in his jar, and went back to walking. From behind I heard him exclaim about the dollar, but then with disdain blurt out that it was counterfeit, the date on it being 2007.

I ran for blocks until I came to the wharf. I looked out at the water. Whenever I feel out of sorts while time traveling, I like to spend time near trees or water because of their relaxing effects. Though after a few minutes, the putrid smell of rotting fish from fisherman’s boats made me nauseous and I left.

I returned to Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, only to discover that Poe had sold my stories to Burton, claiming that he was the author. I called out Poe for being a liar and he slapped my face with his glove and challenged me to a pistol duel. I met him an hour later in a field just outside the city.

Poe brought a box containing two pistols. I chose one and he the other. We marched twenty paces away from one another, turned and fired. My shoulder had been grazed. When the smoke cleared, I saw that Poe lay dying. I went up to him, hoping he would apologize for stealing my stories. Instead he was happy that his dying would help sell a great amount of copies of It’s About Time, making him the talk of the town. I mentioned that he would be dead and wouldn’t be able to enjoy the theft of popularity. He didn’t understand the point and died with a smile on his face.

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A story about how life is sometimes shitty but then okay

A story about how life is sometimes shitty but then okay

doggy

My parents weren’t sure of what to make of me as a kid. I would often walk in circles, with my head hanging down, uttering, “Oh jeez, oh well…never mind.” I would spend hours trying to balance our Pomeranian, Blowser, on my head, and finally got good enough to walk to school, make it through all my classes, come home, have dinner, do my homework, with Blowser pleasantly situated on my noggin. Then there were the times I would have shouting arguments with electrons whenever things didn’t go like I wanted.

When it was apparent I wasn’t growing out of it, my mom and dad finally sent me to the Rodington Blemisphere School for Special Boys. It was an institution whose intention was, “to finally tune the erratic, pugnacious, and malevolent male youth into a fine upstanding cosmopolite.” I suffered through long classes on eloquence and demeanor. Whenever I began to veer off into the erratic, one of the professors would make me march in place and repeat, “I’m not a knave, scamp, nor rascal, thank you very much indeed.”

I became tremendously outwardly repressed, but what was considered by others as bizarre lived on in much greater degrees within me. In class I would imagine that I was an owl, internally writing and singing songs in hoots. When doing homework in the library, I would steal secret knowing glances at books, with the understanding that they were actually my brain that had popped out of my head and enlarged to fill the room, like expandable water toys, or grow monsters, that when you add water they grow in much greater immensity.

Eventually this inward pressure grew so great that I spontaneously escaped through a time travel experience. It occurred like this: I was sitting in Pragmatism 101, when I briefly passed through a tunnel of lights, then found myself sitting on the beach, looking out at the ocean. It was facing right rather than left, so I inferred it was the Atlantic. A bearded man in an old-timey suit that looked like it was from the late 1800s, was standing near me, looking out at the water with a brooding gaze. I liked that he wore a suit at the ocean side because I consider the ocean a respectful place, having been around a long, long time, and that it has the ability to crush any of us without an afterthought.

I went up to the man, apologizing if I was intruding, and wondered if I might have a word with him. He turned to me and nodded. I asked him where and when I might be. He said that were standing before the Atlantic, on the coast of New Hampshire, 11:12am, March 31, 1891. I got all excited and did a jig, barked like a seal, walked backwards saying, “!ereh eb ot lufrednow s’tI,” snorted the sea air like it was free snuff, bent down and kissed the water, then mooed.

I introduced myself. The man said his name was William James and asked where I had come from. I said I came from the future, September 19th, 2018. Mr. James said that although my claim was outlandish, it was clear it was my pure experience, thus true for me. I wanted him to believe it too, and being a fan of his life, expounded his earlier and future history, as well as the tenets of theory of radical empiricism. Mr. James countered by saying that although I curiously knew details of his earlier life, any declared details of his future were fiction to him because they had not been experienced by him, thus admonishing me for not truly understanding the basics of his theory.

I countered by rolling on the sand, uttering a long and continuous, “Ahhhhhh,” and sticking out my tongue. Sand stuck to my tongue, but I did not cease. Mr. James looked at me with disgust. But he could not look away. Soon confusion overtook him and he began humming. Then he ran into the ocean, fully clothed. I heard him slosh around and then yell. He returned to the sand, soaking wet, and lay down next to me. I stopped rolling around, spit out the sand in my mouth, and asked what had happened. Mr. James pulled up his pants leg and showed me where he had been stung by a jellyfish.

I said he was going to be okay, and that he needed to get some vinegar and tweezers. He asked me to assist him since he had difficulty walking. I agreed and he leaned on me as we walked a few miles to his home. Once there he got out the vinegar which I poured on his ankle. I took out the tweezers that I found in a drawer and pulled out pieces of tentacle from his skin. Mr. James was soon feeling better. It was then I felt myself fading away, through the tunnel of lights, and back into my chair in the present day classroom.

The students were freaking out that I had disappeared and then a few moments later reappeared. The professor came up to me, stunned to find sand in my hair, and bits of beached seaweed on my school uniform. He asked me to march in place and repeat the, ” I’m not a knave proclamation.” I sighed, got up and, started to when suddenly a crab leaped out of my front suit pocket and pinched the nose of the professor. He screamed and run out of the room.

I started walking backwards and repeating, “!ereh fo tuo teg s’teL” The students looked at me with a dull stupor. But then a look of recognition took over and they began to follow suit. We all chanted and marched backwards out of the room, down the hall, out the entrance door, and into the fields of clover and lavender.

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I tend to worry

I tend to worry

I tend to worry. It’s my go-to-way of dealing with life. I’m certain things will not work out. They often don’t go down the shitter though. Usually they work out better than I could imagine. Yet the worry continues.

In order to finally create some radical positive thinking, this morning I took my time machine and traveled to 1902 Vienna, and the apartment of Sigmund Freud, for the noon time Wednesday Psychological Folks Society meeting. They were a group of therapists that got together to talk about things therapy-y. In my usual way of doing things to the extreme, I went in, laid down on a couch, and profusely shared my worries.

They took extensive notes, often interrupting to ask me about my relationship with my mother.

When I finished expounding, I sat up, and asked what they thought. They stared at me.

Then Carl Jung said, “This morning I had a session with a new  patient who believes she is a worm. I told her she doesn’t appear to be a worm. She said that’s because she was wearing clothing, makeup, glasses, and a wig. She proceeded to remove these accoutrements. There sitting before me was a worm. I apologized for questioning her, then asked how I might help her. She said that she had a fear of being placed on a hook and used to catch a fish. I told her to avoid going near the docks.”

 

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The Ballad of Chowdenhauser the Moose

The Ballad of Chowdenhauser the Moose

Chowdenhauser the Moose

When I was a kid, I used to get chased by a bully named Mitch. Mitch didn’t like me because my family owned a pet Moose named Chowdenhauser. I was popular with the kids in the neighborhood because of Chowdenhauser. Kids were coming over all the time to pet and ride him because of his loving and natural moose-like ways.

Mitch had a cat named Duncer who was rail thin and craggy. Duncer waited in the bushes outside Mitch’s house, and pounced on unsuspecting sidewalk walkers. Duncer would stick his claws into the person and not retract. The person would then have to get themselves to the hospital so the nurses could inject Duncer with a relaxant and he’d let go. As a result, Mitch wasn’t much liked.

Most of the time Mitch couldn’t catch me because you can’t be that clever when you’re angry. But there was that one time I got over confident, flipping Mitch the bird while I skipped backwards, singing, “Mitch and Duncer had a baby, its name was Muncer the baby, it was boring – it was dumb, sucked its tail instead of its thumb!” Of course I tumbled over myself and hit the ground hard. But not as hard as Mitch pummeled me.

I limped home, feeling like a dud and a half. I went into my backyard and laid out on the grass. Chowdenhauser came over and licked the wounds on my head. He had a tongue that smelled of lavender and lemon grass. I swear my body and spirit healed on the spot. I got up and pet Chowdenhauser right between his eyes, and he mooed. It must have been heard for a great distance because kids soon came abounding. They formed a ring around Chowdenhauser and me, singing, “Bee and Chowy, happy as can be, dancing on the Sun, extra-specially!”