The four essays that I wrote this week--totaling 8000 words--is not enough to pay off what I owe the government, unless I get more for the fourth one than I expect, which is highly unlikely. The refrigerator leaks water on the floor. This worries me a lot. Tomorrow I must do prep work to write an essay on Ambrose Bierce, and this week I must also write pieces on Night of the Living Dead, Roma, what makes black music black music, Maupassant, and Jimmy Blanton. That will be a lot of work, but I can't spend too much time on it, because that work is only worth right now what I am paid for it. Which is not much. None of it can advance me. And I also need to focus on the things that might. I am certain that with everything as it is and against me, nothing has ever been harder than what I weekly face at this point.
The plan is to get up early tomorrow--I've already swallowed a fistful of Melatonin to sleep--and work on "Dunedin." With the composition of "Enib Bine" today--a unique horror story--that is seven short stories thus far composed on the year, not counting "Dunedin," which is well underway and should be completed this week--and it's all planned out--and also "Double Loaded Stupid," which I have started. These things also cannot advance me right now, in all likelihood, and thus are not my focus, but they must get done, because I need to have them when I have gotten past the blockade, and in the interim there is the chance that one of them, or whatever the number, could do something, if the right place runs it, and that would be needed money as well--again, if it's the right place. That's a very small group of places right now. It's not The Idaho Review or any bollocks like that; it's Harper's, it's The New Yorker. As we've seen, Harper's won't help my career--it will produce more hatred again--but it's decent money. And as a friend said the other day: "Any one of these things could be the thing that changes everything."
Meatheads Say the Realest Things: Satire from the End of the Civilization, is something that can advance me right now. Humor book with broad appeal. That is why it was potentially essential to write it, which is why I got it done as fast as I did.
These are the seven stories composed thus far this year: "Mission Brick Candy," "That Night," "Cyclops," "A Game of Trocar," "Linesman," "chickchick," "Enib Bine." I would say that "chickchick" is the one that could be news unto itself. It would be polarizing. It's the only work I am aware of right now that pushes back against PC culture by imagining where the world is going to get to. It's a story that would be discussed, debated, its merits alternately extolled, and denied. It would be a fire starter. It's also very good. "Trocar" and "Bine" are horror, but not horror was one has seen or would expect. The same was certainly true--maybe even more true--of "Pillow Drift" in December. "Pillow Drift" is a hugely successful film waiting to happen. "Pillow Drift" is much longer. It's a novelistic story. The other two are not novelistic stories.
Today, after composing "Enib Bine," I ran three miles, walked three miles, and climbed the Bunker Hill Monument a personal best thirteen times. You're not screwing around when you climb the old obelisk thirteen times. A friend said I would live a long time. I have a theory about this. I think so far as things are like they are, and I don't end my life by my own hand, God will keep me going until like 106. If I get to where I am going and have the success that is right there, I am worried I'll get the terminal cancer immediately, or be killed shortly thereafter by a drunk driver. Ironically, I could become someone whom, once back in my house, or hopefully owning houses, rarely comes outside, for fear of something dire happening. Now, I don't care. Really no problem if I get hit by a car, so long as it's clean and I'm dead. I say that, and I keep trying, don't I? Further, I try harder than I have ever tried, which is to say, I try far harder than anyone in history has ever tried at anything. But, that is dictated by my ability. And also what I know that ability can do in this world, the influence and impact it can have, if it's out there. The truth is, if I got to where I am trying to get, I would still climb the Monument. My goal would be to be eight-seven and still climbing thirteen times, and then composing some epic work to last as long as life itself. Or longer.
I did get a "let this kid pass" today in the Monument. My sister thought this was because of my new haircut, but no--I was hatted. I get this a lot. I look much younger than I am. Not that I'm not young. And I certainly am so far as authors go. Emma knocked on my door earlier and asked me if I wanted to go to the market with her because she had to pick up some garlic, and then for a walk. I have nothing going on. I did meet a thirty-year-old MIT grad earlier today. I could not stand her. She wrote in words--are they even words?--like "vaca," "OMG," and "u." Yeah. We weren't meant to love. Now I am talking to a Harvard freshman who likes Tolstoy and Dickinson. I don't care how old you are if you're smart and hot. Well, obviously legal, and not wizened. But it's always case by case. Emma and I sat on a sea wall overlooking the harbor, staring off towards Boston Light in the distance, with the airport across the way, and she told me about the friends she has in different places--the UK, Egypt, Hamburg--who she has met online. She's very witty. She makes me laugh. Her mom left a brownie and some lemon poppy seed bread outside my door.
I have a friend who likes to say, "I wish I had a Monument in my backyard, I'd climb it every day." It's funny how people think when they don't actually do that thing they like to think they'd like. First off, I have to walk a mile and a half just to get to the Monument. Most people wouldn't do that. But if you try climbing it? You're not going to like it. You're going to start doing it once, you'll be all gung-ho for the first twenty-five stairs, and by the time you hit stair fifty, you'll think "this sucks, how am I only at stair fifty?" It's going to be hard to get to the top once, and you're probably going to have to stop and rest three, four, five times. When you get to the top, you'll be done for the day, you'll not want to repeat this for a while, and you probably won't. You see, everyone has something like the Monument near them. It doesn't have to be an obelisk. It's that special thing you find. When I get my house back in Rockport, and I'm not near the Monument every day, I'll find another version of my Monument. Just like I do with everything I do. These kinds of things, they're in you; they're not matters of geography and what is in your backyard.
People are soft, people are weak, people lie to themselves, people don't have a clue what the word purpose means.
The Red Sox lost again. Not a good team. Their record could be even worse. Starting pitching is abysmal. They have no shot in most of these games, and their offense isn't great either. You are on your way to seeing a lost season.
I decided on Downtown on Tuesday that I'd discuss memorable--which mostly means, my favorite--NHL playoffs series and games, for various reasons. I was reading through the hockey history forum on hfboards tonight--I'm a lurker there--and I saw someone had started a discussion about near upsets in the NHL playoffs that didn't quite happen, and they linked to an article from Sports Illustrated written by yours truly about the 1982 Islanders. I did a lot of great work for SI. They should have hired me. It's funny: this place could hire me on staff for hockey, that place could hire me for something else, this place could hire me for this other things, and boom boom boom boom, you have six staff writer jobs, an easy million there, and obviously no one could do that save me, and it would be so easy for me and, ready, like a vaca! So we will talk about that Islanders-Pens series, the Bruins and the Canadiens in 1971--and why Bobby Orr is such a huge underachiever (more Fleming SI); the 1982 Oilers and Kings (which I wrote about for The Atlantic), the 1983 Bruins and Isles, the 1986 Oil and Flames series, the Easter Miracle of 1987, which I also wrote about for SI in a unique way, too, the Bruins and Pens in 1991 and what might have been for Boston, the Pens and Isles in 1993, and the Caps and Canadiens in 2010 with Halak having an all-time showing.
New Zulu status, by the way, when you hit thirteen straight climbs. Didn't stop once.
This is the full Miracle on Manchester game, in which the Kings come back to win against the Oilers after trailing 5-0 in the third period.