Paving the road to nowhere, one word at a time.

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Location: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

American born, living in Mexico since 1992.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The laptop isn't dead, but the mouse refuses to work consistently. Tracing my finger along a small pad underneath a cramped keyboard never served me from the start. For the want of a properly functioning mouse, I have instead repaired one of the husks of many broken desktops that will never be discarded until time is set aside to remove the dead patient's organs. Thus, my Frankenstein monsters, such as the one I currently type on, are raised from the dead.

This machine's brain is old, and the thought process and nerve centers are antiquated. So am I, then, in some ways. When I ask this monster to do something that it isn't immediately prepared to do, the hard drive sounds like a vacuum cleaner, motor spinning, sucking something into its delivery receptacle, and in a few moments, it complies. It has imperfections and character. I could add more memory and a burner and another hard drive, and other nifty qualities from other machines, but I won't.

Like anything I've ever written, I could edit it over and over again; change the monster into something else, something better. But then it would lose its character. The character of the monster is the most important aspect, the key to beast. Sometimes that's important, especially when one needs to find its weakest qualities. And then, one becomes capable of realizing that every beast has a purpose.

* * * *

I once wrote a story about a baseball player on the fringe of being a professional. He was in the minor leagues, and then wound up in Mexico just hoping for a chance to hang on long enough to get a break somewhere else. He played in a fictitious league here, called the Baja league; I had minor league teams all over the place here. The players barely made money - they were traded for equipment, or even food.

The story was horribly constructed, rushed, and put away quickly. I only let one person read it, a friend who would understand it perhaps, and not care about the literary quality of it. It was his pornography, in a sense, something he could relate to. A few days after I gave it too him, I had to tell him.

"It's horrible. Very horribly written, rushed, with shallow characters and an improbable plot," I told him over a beer.

"I know," he said, looking at the television in back of the bar, not changing expression.

"But I liked it."

The main character was traded to a team with deep pockets. They paid him well, and he started to play well, really well. The owner of the team had this beautiful daughter, who fell in love with the gringo baseball player, but in the end, when her love was unreturned, he was released. It didn't matter how well he played baseball, what mattered was how well he played anything else that would allow him to continue to play baseball.

The story, obviously, was really about me.

* * * *

"Stop thinking of yourself as a writer. Think of yourself as an author," she told me, someone who likes what I write.

This implies publishing, of course, which is a tricky proposition. The world isn’t asking for another novelist. The world wants everyone to watch television. The world lives through viewing itself on an electronic screen. Everyone is making videos, watching movies, and teething on a reality based in a rectangular box.

Meanwhile, I listen to the radio and type.

The monster I've created inside of myself doesn't watch television, or rarely does. He writes, and reads, and cooks, and wonders what factory or warehouse he'll wind up in next. The baseball player in my story is the writer that I see myself as. I can't seem to be able to do what it takes to be an author, to do whatever it takes to be able to write. Instead, I keep having to go back and work in Bukowski's Post Office.

Soon, this monster inside of me will be grinding out a living in a factory again.

* * * *

I remember once when Charlie got into some trouble, that many years ago when he lived in Los Angeles that someone had duped him into doing something that wound up being illegal. Charlie came into the Dandy one afternoon, distraught, holding papers.

"It's the multi-headed Hydra!" Charlie announced.

"Twice, I thought that I killed it, that I chopped off the monster's head, but it keeps growing a new one!"

The government was taking away his social security. They figured that Charlie owed them a lot of money. He had been scammed into doing something that he shouldn't have done so many years ago, and apparently, the action that was taken the first couple of times wasn't adequate.

"Well, Charlie, you can appeal," I told him, reading the letter sent by the Government.

"Already taken care of that, but I need your help," he said, and handed me about a dozen sheets of paper.

On one side of the paper, there were sports betting odds from the sports book, and on the other side, was mostly illegible scrawl written hastily by Charlie, explaining his case against their claim. I read it the best that I could and argued with him because I wanted him to approach it completely differently, and we went around in circles. I finally acquiesced.

"Fine, Charlie, but I'm doing it under protest," I told him.

Charlie nodded. It took a few hours to unravel his writing; not having good eyes, he couldn't even see his own handwriting. He sent what I printed for him. A couple of weeks later, the Government dismissed the case, and Charlie had finally killed the Hydra.

It wasn't his letter that did the trick; it was the simple act of the appeal. Apparently, too much time had elapsed from when the alleged event occurred, in order for the Government to make a case for collecting from it.

Regardless of how, the monster was tamed.


Anonymous Lori said...

It doesn't matter what you do to pay the bills, hon. You're still a gifted author.

11:08 AM, June 19, 2008  

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