Thursday, April 15, 1999

Egg Salad

One of the things that I do to help up-and-coming writers, even those who just want to write One Great Novel & take the money and retire to Fiji never to write another word again, is urge them to try to become a Master Poet like me. I tell them that when you see the world through the eyes of a poet you'll be that much more grateful for the eyes you have, not least because yours are still in their sockets and not being passed around for people to look through.

Just last night for example, someone mentioned flowers. I was immediately overcome by my Muse. In fact Cindy (ancient Muse of Other) went stark raving wild, she tried to sit on my face, I said no, please no, you're a muse, it wouldn't be right, it's like a cross-species thing, but she's a powerful Muse, she works out with weights. Finally I burbled out, "I saw a pretty little rose! / It was a sight to see! / I bent to smell it with my nose, / and it did puncture me!"

If you can write like that you are ready to write just about anything. Now all you need is something to write about. This is the second thing I always tell up-and-coming writers. I say, always have something to write about. I know that's sounds a little abstract to a lot of you, and some of you may be thinking to yourselves, "Dr. Wes is getting too abstract for me again, I just wanted to read more about Cindy sitting on his face, while I finished my egg salad sandwich."

I say in that case you have something to write about, you've got your egg salad sandwich, you've got your dreams. Now let's work on the rest of you people.

To begin with, what do you have to say for yourselves? Huh? “Egg salad?”

See how easy that was?

OK, I know some of you missed that. Tell you what, we'll try a little role playing. Pretend I have an MSW, and you are in a program I'm running. Let's say the state put you here and if you don't do everything I tell you to do I will report your non-compliance to the state and you won't get any money on the 1st and you won't be able to pay your rent.

So by the 15th, while everyone else is celebrating the fact that they make enough money to pay income taxes, you'll be sharing a piece of egg salad sandwich with your new room-mate, a large hungry rodent named Chuck who will live with you by a dumpster that you would have wanted to call Ulan Bator, by and by, but Chuck would have fought & defeated you in committee, so even that dream will have been dashed.

So you decide to comply after all, and now that we've got that little lame rebellion out of the way, I tell you I want you to try a little role playing. So I give you a hypothetical situation. I say, let's say you're oh I don't know a mathematician doing advanced mathematics research at an advanced mathematics research place, say, in Zürich Switzerland, and let's say you have spent the last few hours talking with some really old guys who actually knew Albert Einstein when he went to school there, and Carl Gustav Jung when he taught across the street, and that James Joyce guy back when he had an apartment in the neighborhood.

And these old guys, let's say, tell you all about these dead people and you soak it all up, it's stuff that's never been written down before. And while you're all talking it gets to be tea time, and Fräulein Hilda Denklosigkeit brings in tea and teacups and a platter of weird looking pastries, or cookies or something, you can't tell what they are, except that they were definitely NOT made in America.

OK? Got all that? NOW what do think you should write about? Do you hang with these old guys, take more notes, and write the definitive biographies of Einstein, Jung, and Joyce? Or do you write your own personal memoirs, reminiscing about your glory days in Zürich? Or should you write that long extended fantasy that was inspired by the time the cleaning woman came into the men's room while you were "busy" and your eyes met, and you thought, "Oh, if only she were Hilda Denklosigkeit, and not just the cleaning woman, here to scrub the urinals..."

Or do you write about your craving for egg salad sandwiches?

Answer: None of the above! What you do instead is forget all about it, come back to the US, torture college freshpeople by making them pay attention to algebra for fifty total hours of their lives, then wake up to your evil ways, spend the next twelve years of your life in therapy, live on the streets for four of them, drive a cab for five of them, lose your mind, work in a work shelter program for two years, spend six years working nights as a janitor, lose your job, take up art.

THEN you wake up one day, and say, I got to talk to people about this. There you go, you've got something to say! Just don't ever forget the part about the egg salad sandwich, you'll find a way to work it in eventually.

Next I want to see you all break up into small groups and role play amongst yourselves, taking turns as the social worker, if you all can handle that (But I don’t want you to think you’re being pressured in any way...)

Thursday, April 1, 1999

Your Post-Meds Trans-Galactic News Roundup

Some of you may have noticed that last issue I took a tiny "vacation". I know what you think. You think all us folks at the Real Change are getting rich off the homeless, living in mansions in Medina, and vacationing in the Bahamas, because the officials there look the other way when rich folks like us "light up", if you know what I mean.

HA! You DON'T know what I mean! I don't get paid squat for these so-called columns, and my vacation was in fact a med-induced nightmare!

Yep. I'm on the med-train. I'm on meds. Or am I in-between my meds? Only my state authorized psychiatrist knows for sure, assuming she catches me when I'm in-between symptoms. But others of you may be wanting to know – hey Wes, since when you talk to aliens?

Good question! It all has to do with the internet! A few weeks ago my state authorized psychiatrist ordered me to take new meds that make me drowsy, and drowsy. Instantly, give or take a few weeks, the following message appeared on the internet in front of my face:

The Big Bang is often described as a big bang. After a bang every thing should be moving away from every other thing. But my high school physics teacher told us collisions happen. How could that be?

From pity I responded as follows:

Let me try to penetrate your thick cranium. First there was nothing. Then there was 2.356x10 to the who knows-how-much kilograms of stuff. According to the (known to be false in this context) theory of Albert "Bertle" Einstein: when stuff appears out of nowhere, space comes with it. At first the space is all curled up in a little ball. But then it spreads out really fast. But some of it, near the really BIG chunks of stuff, doesn't spread out so much. That's where stuff gets stuck in the corners of space and bumps together.

Some little time later I noted the following note from Anitra (On whose kitchen floor I have sometimes slept) Freeman:

To summarize Dr. Browning, the galaxies are running away from each other, but some of them don't run fast enough.

"Since when do galaxies run?" I thought. "Galaxies have no legs, they can't run!" I thought. No sooner did I think that, then I received the following in my "in" box:

This is your Universal Internet news update of the day.

Number of hits to our site yesterday: 235,696,777.

Breakdown: 235,696,767 hits estimated to have been due to electromagnetic fluctuations resulting from a gravitational wave disturbance propagated by a minor spiral galaxy which two days ago inexplicably sprouted tiny little legs and began running around aimlessly.

10 hits from a planet called "Earth".

There were also ten messages recorded on our office voicemail. Nine said "How in hell do I get off this galaxy?"

One message said "Mrs. Elroy P. Feelgood, widow of the late Mr. Elroy P. Feelgood, formerly of Pissatchoo, WA, and now living in Miami Beach, Florida, wishes to announce that she will be one hundred years young tomorrow, God willing. Otherwise she will be survived by her good-for-nothing lazy bum son, John.

Our message to Mrs. Feelgood: "Get a life!" As for the rest of you, "the trick is to rub two sticks together," and "How many times must we have to repeat that?"

In other news, there were 953,465,368 supernovas yesterday, killing roughly 10 to the 25 sentient lifeforms. Traffic was light, weather moderate, visibility 11 billion light-years in most directions.

Sports news: The much ballyhoo-ed Universal Reverse Time Travel Races were called off today owing to the failure of the participants to comply with known physical laws. A committee was formed to investigate. We have however learned that ticketholders who had been planning to watch the races from the finish line were reimbursed approximately one million years ago.

Our happy news of the day: You can still read this!

There you go… I hope that clarifies matters…