Facebook Posts: Mar 2008

March 2008

MARCH 31
Scott updated his status.
is baby could come any day now.
MARCH 26
Scott updated his status.
is teaching a seminar on social networks. Meta, huh?
Scott wrote on Amy Kallio’s timeline.
Baby’s looking good!
MARCH 24
Scott updated his status.
tired.
MARCH 23
Scott updated his status.
spent the morning designing ELO t-shirts while wife slept.
Scott posted a link to Electronic Literature Organization’s timeline.

www.cafepress.com
www.cafepress.com
My lovely gravid wife has been stretching out my tattered ELO t-shirts and sweatshirt from back in the day, and it occurred to me that it has been a while since I was able to lay my hands on a new one. Until now, that is. This afternoon, I set up some ELO designs at the ELO Store at Cafe Press. Now available are the classic ELO sweatshirt ($29.99 in ash grey or white — ELO guy on the front/elitera…
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MARCH 20
Scott updated his status.
is watching it snow.
MARCH 9
Scott updated his status.
is laying low waiting for baby.
MARCH 5
Scott updated his status.
is in Sweden for a couple of days.
MARCH 2
Scott updated his status.
is preparing to host the Finns and Swedes.

Fibreculture Futures of Digital Media Arts and Culture Issue

Issue 11 of the online journal Fibreculture is now out. The journal features a collection of essays from the 2007 Digital Arts and Culture conference, including my essay “Dada Redux: Elements of Dadaist Practice in Contemporary Electronic Literature“, as well as eleven other notable essays from the conference. Among the highlights: Axel Bruns on Produsage, Jim Bizzocchi on African Diasporic Orature and Computational Narrative in the GRIOT System, Tracy Fullerton, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, and Celia Pearce on the Gendered Poetics of Space in computer games, Jaako Suominen on Retrogaming and more.

Frequency: Said (tasteful)

SAID (tasteful)

said no way

Maggie discussed her plans for a green burial with her father. This might have been a bad idea. He insisted that she would outlive him, to begin with, that this was just a passing thing and that she would outlive it, first thing. And second, he didn’t think this thing sounded tasteful at all. Her mother’s funeral had been done the normal American way, and that was how it should have been, wasn’t it? Then he was crying. Her sister was the executor, so it didn’t really matter. She just wanted to prepare him.

said way out there man

While he was as big a fan of fireworks displays as any other American, Roger thought that rolling big WWII artillery guns out into village squares and firing charges from them to celebrate the fourth of July was pushing the boundaries of what could be considered tasteful, particularly during wartime. Sure, it gave the local VFW octogenarians something to do, but you couldn’t help but wonder how it made the mothers of all those kids blown up by IEDs feel to see those guns blasting away in their front yard, not to mention the amputees just back home with regrets.

said what do you want

Jenny and Dave got into a debate over whether or not the army’s current recruiting campaign was tasteful. It bothered Jenny that the ads made it seem like joining the army was a kind of extreme sport, with lots of glamor and excitement but little danger. She wondered why they never showed flag-draped coffins or heroic amputees. And for some reason she found the idea that they were giving away video games in high schools particularly repellent. Dave was of the opinion that you can’t pass moral judgment on advertising, the sole purpose of which is to sell a product, or in this case, a patriotic career. Recruiters aren’t paid to give youngsters a well-balanced view of a life in the military. They are paid to recruit.

said what to my mother

Dave has his charms but tasteful storytelling isn’t necessarily one of them. The first time he was over at Jenny’s mother house, he was behaving like a perfect gentleman, talking to her mother about Ireland, until Jenny left the room to make coffee. When she returned, he had somehow shifted the topic of conversation to zoophilia, some crude anecdote about a legendary love affair between a young man and a dolphin off the coast of Galway. Her mother’s face was blanched and Jenny was tempted to pour a cup of hot coffee into Dave’s lap.

said who are you

If he had his way, Johnnie’s funeral ceremony itself would be a tasteful, subdued, and minimalist affair. There would be several moments of silence and many of the women from his past would be there, dressed in black, shedding tears at his glossy portrait while some ambient Brian Eno shit played over the sound system. No religion. Few words would be said as the pallbearers loaded his urn of ashes into a rocket and blasted it into the night sky. The party afterwards would however be epic, bacchanal, an American version of one of those Roman-style orgiastic festivities with pigs on spits, platters of exotic fruit, fine wines served from ornate golden pitchers, jugglers, fire-eaters, face-painting, sexual entertainers, and punk rock. The people he loved and freaks of all kind dancing all through the night.

said do me another man

Charlie loved to take a drink at the top of a skyscraper. He was a sucker for any bar over forty stories high. The top of John Hancock in Chicago was a tasteful place to begin his last weekend with Helen. He arrived early and was halfway through his second glass of fifteen-year-old Macallan when the maitre d’ ushered her into the room.

said what up

What Johnnie loves most about New York is the rush and noise of Times Square, its cacophony and blur, its endless ability to distract, its lack of tasteful pretension. More than once he has wandered there, bombed out of his skull on something or another, and leaned back his head to howl into the night.

said you are the man

Though he’s not a churchgoing man or a believer in much other than what he sees with his eyes or otherwise rockets through his head, as he makes his way across the West, Johnnie praises whatever tasteful god or alien species or random forces may have felt fit to form landscapes so strange and sublime, places that he, driving, endlessly, alone, can begin to understand himself.

said the point is what you like

Tasteful assignations are not really Johnnie’s thing, and selectivity is not his strong suit. While it would be unfair to say that he will have sex with just about anything that moves, the fact that he had random hookups with three different women on three separate late night occasions in three public laundromats in three states during the course of one cross-country journey might be offered as evidence of a certain kind. Something about the vibrations of those industrial dryers aroused and comforted him.

said too much

Helen dated around a little at Google, but she had a hard time finding tasteful suitors among the engineers. She had one date with a multimillionaire programmer who let her wait twenty minutes in his living room while he sat in front of his thirty-seven inch plasma and finished wasting his buddies in some online first person shooter, “wielding” what he called his “BMFG.” He actually expected her to enjoy watching that. While the Internet might be responsible for many new forms of social networks, it had done little to advance the type of social graces to which Helen had been accustomed.

Frequency: Can (sending)

CAN (sending)

can you tell me why

Maggie never had children, but in this dream, she is standing on a white sand dune, and her daughter is running in the sand, running away from her. They are both barefoot and the sun is warm on her skin, the sky magically blue, painted with striated clouds. The child is running away from her but she is calm, even content, watching this life that came from her, reveling in the energy of her youth, sprinting away with the exuberance of one who has only just learned how to run. Maggie wakes in a sweat, wondering just what message she is sending herself.

can you just end it

For all of the intentional dissolution that characterizes his existence, Johnnie is not immune to the charms of stillness, to the appeal of solitude, an easy moment alone. Sunday morning, in a quiet café in Minneapolis, after a rough night of partying with some people he met on Craig’s List, whose lumpy stained couch he had surfed onto the night before, Johnnie is listening to an old man play soft jazz, an instrumental version of “A Wonderful World.” Johnnie feels himself breathing, the music is sending him somewhere. He’s all alone, drinking coffee, and he feels just fine with his place in the world.

can you not water it down

After he had sex with Helen, Johnnie felt momentarily victorious. He had a Leonardo DiCaprio King of the World moment and considered sending his older brother an email detailing the specific choreography of the act, but realized the ramifications that such an act of targeted betrayal might entail, the accentuated unpleasantness of future Thanksgivings, and so on, and decided to keep his counsel for the time instead.

can you make me well again

Charlie was in Rome for a week on business, sending Anna off with her sister for a spa weekend in Sedona. There were aromatherapy massages and a healing tour with a mystic shaman. It was a transcendent place and even if the chanting was hokey, Anna felt like it actually helped for a time, though when the plane landed back it in Philadelphia, it was like the spiders came crawling back in again.

can most of us live

Maggie was feeling more and more tired earlier and earlier at night, and she made a point of watching the sunset every night. During the day she spent time tying up loose ends and sending letters to old friends. She rarely mentioned the disease, preferring instead to recall shared times and memories, and in some cases to apologize for things she had done. She wrote up an old friend she had been forced to lay off when the company was making cutbacks, for instance, whom she had not seen since. She wrote a professor whose classes she remembered had inspired her, a cousin she had fallen out with. At a certain point she wondered whether she should restrict her correspondence to the living, whether it might be permissible to also write some letters to the dead.

can they get what we want

Kent talked Pete into meeting at a minor-league baseball game rather than at the bowling alley, for a change. The word is that the East Coast money is coming through, and they should be able to close on the distressed shopping center within the next month. They’re sending the paperwork Monday. Kent toasts their first foray into commercial property with a Coors Light. Pete somehow manages to snag a foul ball during the sixth inning. Kent should have paid better attention.

can we have a word before we part

The dream of the train again. The train pulling away, and the tracks ahead are broken. Charlie is waving his arms, sending signals to the driver, trying to stop it. The boy is on board. The train is pulling away. The train is moving. The train will surely go off the rails.

can we make it another year

Caught behind a horse-drawn Amish buggy on a two lane highway in the Pennsylvania countryside, Anna should pull forward and pass, but instead she watches the children in the back, watching her. The three children stare with the shock and wonderment of time-travelers. They make do with so little, the people in those communities, in denial of modern technology, plastic, and speed. Yet they seem to have enough. The simplicity appeals to Anna, in a way. What is that phrase about all unhappy families? The horse is clip-clopping very slowly along, yet she does not pass. Anna envies these country people, and she wonders what message she is sending Charlie, and if they’ll ever have a happy family.

can I go now

Charlie and Helen were arguing in the hotel room in Chicago, the same vertiginous argument that they would never quite manage to resolve. Charlie’s cell was ringing and he ignored it, sending it straight to voice-mail. He turned it off so that he and Helen could finish without heat. He would give her that. What could be more important? He didn’t find out about the accident until several hours later, when his secretary tracked down the hotel from his credit card charges.

can you help me with this

Charlie has always taken some comfort in the ability of the city to remind him of his own insignificance. He is only one of millions, all in it separately together. Any of us could be billionaires or die in traffic. You do the best you can to make your own luck and you deal with whatever the fates maybe sending your way. A story behind every one of those windows. Some will drop dead or catch fire in their sleep. Some will be blessed, some condemned. Some will rise, and others will fall from the sky. He gave up on trying sense of it all a long time ago.

Frequency: Your (tested)

YOUR (tested)

your sentence is so long

While most affairs are based on novelty, on the pull of the new and the danger of the illicit, Charlie and Helen’s adultery tested limits of all kinds — of their patience and that of their other partners and friends, of the very idea of romance itself. Charlie’s affair with Helen had been going for a much longer time than his marriage. It was like a song that would not end, a note held for an impossibly long time. It is a wonder they are still both drawn to it.

your word is not so much

It was a period in which promises were made, tested, and found wanting, a decade in which the world grew suspicious and cold. The sky, it turned out, was indeed falling.

your kind is not my own

Helen didn’t answer when Johnnie emailed her that he would be back through town. She had tested the hypothesis that he might serve as some kind of substitute for his brother, and found that it had a good many flaws. She had felt a little guilty about that night ever since, and she hoped that Charlie would never find out.

your America is not the world

Kent met an interesting artist and commissioned her to do a mural on his office wall. The mural was an abstraction of satellite imagery of the surrounding neighborhood, a kind of meta-mural. It would give him, he felt, a better perception of his place in the world. He tested his ambitions against the scale of the map.

your move was not kind

Jenny tested the extent of Dave’s loyalties in a variety of ways. She knew the nature of his work, and accepted that there were differences of political consciousness between them which would never be bridged, but she could make him pay for his work, and she had a certain degree of power over him. So while he might well have helped bring a species of tree frog to the brink of extinction, he had made significant contributions to the Environmental Defense Fund. While he worked for gay-bashing candidates, he gave money to the ACLU and had even attended Pride parades. He would do almost anything to quiet down her righteous anger, and truth be told, it helped him keep a sense of balance. Not that she could stop him from renewing his NRA membership.

your show will not end

Roger always considered himself a more conceptual than representational artist, though sometimes he tested the borders between. His “Rainbow City” consisted solely of one day distributing pastel chalks to three thousand schoolchildren, and encouraging them to draw on the sidewalks.

your play may need one line more

Although she was afraid of his reaction, Anna tested Charlie’s dedication to their relationship when she told him that she could not stand the sense of stasis in their lives, the sense that they had been frozen in a place from which they could not move. She felt like a statue, she said, and marriage hadn’t changed their lives in the ways she expected it might. They need to do something, to move, or to have a child, or join a new church. Something had to change soon. Charlie nodded sadly, suggested they could maybe move across the river again, or maybe she could go back to school or something. Maybe something even more drastic. They could move out West. He agreed something needed to change.

your boy is a mean one

Sometimes their ads tested the limits of tastelessness. In parts of the South, anything is fair game. They took advantage of a series of grisly murders along the Appalachian Trail to bring out the fact that the incumbent was soft on security, and that the state police were more corrupt than competent. The point was completely valid, but the thirty-second re-enactments of specific crimes were, granted, pushing the envelope of civility.

your animal must be put down

Charlie never seriously attempted to quit smoking, though sometimes he tested his willpower by abstaining for two or three days. He knew that he would likely die young, but young is relative. He had already outlasted his old man, and his boy was cheated altogether, even of his youth.

your letter was not kind

Though he was capable of more self-control than his brother, Charlie did sometimes make impulsive moves that he later regretted. Though he had not spoken or communicated with Helen for nearly a year, for instance, he was almost consumed with jealousy at the thought of the other men who were likely enjoying her charms, and one night after several heavy pours of scotch, he tested his hypotheses in a blisteringly accusative letter, going so far as to stumble down to the mailbox on the corner to send it without advantage of a morning’s reconsideration.

Frequency: When (rear)

WHEN (rear)

when did you know

Somewhere back in the rear part of her consciousness, Anna has always known things between her and Charlie would end poorly. Her friends had warned her. He wasn’t the faithful type, wasn’t the safe type, wasn’t the type who would fall into a normal routine, work normal hours, drive back and forth to work from the suburbs. He wasn’t like her father or her friends’ husbands. The thing was, she didn’t want that normal type of guy. Charlie was strong, dark, complex, tender, and mysterious. She never hoped to tame him, but she had hoped that they might one day come to understand one another.

when you said the word

Johnnie found himself in the back seat of minibus in the parking lot of a hamburger joint in Spokane, having sex with a red-haired woman named Annie Lovelace who had a tribal tiger’s-eyes tattoo on her lower back, just above her marvelous rear end. She was a connection he met through a friend and they had just visited a marijuana farm together, and Johnnie was newly in possession of a quarter pound of freshly-cured skunk. He didn’t really understand the significance of the tattoo, and he wasn’t going to ask her. It was a kind of spontaneous coupling. After two double cheeseburgers and strawberry milkshakes, she just stripped off her clothes and rubbed back into him with a kind of purr and said take me. The bouncing eyes stared up at him and he wondered what she saw in him.

when a little thing may turn large

Neither Dave nor Jenny understood the importance that dress-up was beginning to play in their relationship. Some of their routines were more perverse than others. He just loved the way her rear end looked in a plaid schoolgirl skirt, and she evidently had some deeply-rooted unresolved issues with her junior high school vice-principal.

when did you get so mean

Roger drives some old art-school friends who’ve flown down from RISD to witness some of Texas’s finer site-specific art up to Amarillo for an afternoon at the Cadillac Ranch. They absolutely insisted. Roger himself has never cared much for the place, ten graffiti-festooned rear-ends of vintage Cadillacs angled up from a wheat field in the middle of nowhere. When they get there after hours and hours of empty road, Rogers says he hopes they feel like they got their fill of junkyard kitsch. He remarks that he finds it to be a work utterly without social significance, and Lanie, a sound sculptor with whom he once shared a Providence apartment, asks him when he got so stuck up that he could no longer appreciate good old-fashioned Americana.

when we want more than we need

Howard thinks of the security apparatus as a giant beast of a Rube Goldberg machine, a kind of feral robot monster with millions of box-cutter-sharp teeth which might, at any moment, rear up and turn back on its creators with a great vengeful ferocity.

when will we be through with this

Maybe more than any particular drug, what makes Johnnie weep and shake in the Burning Man tent is that this year, the Burning Man is a woman. She is reaching for the sky, a beautiful sculpture towering over the Playa, and when the time comes, they are going to burn her alive. Some circuit in his rear brain loops the phrase over and over again, and he can’t stop it. Burn her alive. Burn her alive. Burn her alive.

when will you end it

Anna is sane enough to recognize that suicide would not be a fitting tribute to her dead son. Nonetheless, she often feels like she is standing over Pandora’s box, and the box is completely empty. Her treasure is gone, and the dark places in the rear of her consciousness sometimes call her toward the medicine cabinet, toward the sleeping pills or straight razor.

when the time has come

Roger is explaining the significance of “Memories of Our Last Roads” to an audience of high school art students, his sense that whatever environmental battle it was we are fighting is already lost, that the age of American empire is over, that we can only hope to land on our rear ends, at best, and at worst, to fall off into nothingness. Their faces are bleak and distracted, and he wonders if most of them aren’t stoned.

when will you change

Johnnie was an impatient child. He rarely won at games. He certainly almost never beat Charlie, who was patient, and capable of being very calculating from an early age. Johnnie took foolish risks, chances that would rear up and bite him in the ass. Of course in the end Charlie looked out for his brother. After Johnnie lost all of his marbles playing keepsies, Charlie would catch up to the dejected boy, storming away from the other children, and casually pass him a handful, just enough to get back in the game.

when will I see you again

Sometimes you say goodbye believing that you will see your friend again, in a week or two, or a matter of months, or perhaps a few years. You rarely consider the farewell as a permanent break. Human relationships are built around the promise of renewal. Sometimes, however, you part ways knowing that this person, who you were acquainted with, or who you knew well, or even loved, perhaps still love, will dwindle off into the rear of the horizon, will float away from you, never to return again.

Frequency: We (tended)

WE (tended)

we know who you are

Like everyone who worked in his department, Howard tended toward paranoia as the best defense, particularly when traveling abroad. While he would never be as desirable a target as a diplomat or an agency operative, the enemies would surely rather kill him than some random American tourist. He was certain his name was on some lists. It did give him a certain edge, the idea that at any moment he might be within a sniper’s scope, the notion that at any moment he might be struck down. In the end he was just another bureaucrat, but sometimes when nobody he knew was around, he’d order a martini shaken, not stirred.

we know where you come from

Howard tended to be prepared. When it rained, he had an umbrella. When the restaurant didn’t take credit cards, he had enough cash. He had a living will. He knew how his resources would be divided and under which conditions the doctors would be legally obligated to pull the plug. Though he had grown up in California, he retained his grandparents’ sense of middle-American pragmatism.

we know what you did

Though she understood Charlie’s deep sense of guilt about the loss of his child, Helen tended towards a more Zen-oriented interpretation of the events and her personal involvement in them, and wished that Charlie did too. Though few worse personal catastrophes could be imagined, was the universe not also freeing him, in a sense, as well? Was it not an opportunity for him to make a clean break with his attachments to Anna and the East Coast and his work, and a way to make a new start, perhaps, with her? She realized how ridiculous this sounded even as she verbalized it and breached the topic with him only once. Nevertheless, she wished he’d lose that hangdog look and see the open sky in front of him.

we must ask you why

For the rest of her life, Anna tended to avoid beaches, and to regard people in flip-flops and bathing suits, carrying their aluminum folding chairs, oversize sun umbrellas, coolers, and boom-boxes to the sands as so many lambs being led to the slaughter.

we need you to be different

On assignment overseas, Howard tended to adhere to protocols strictly limiting interactions with the native population. He was enough of a loner to begin with that the rules didn’t really bother him. If nothing else, it gave him an excuse for his solitude. Still, sometimes a woman would turn his head, and he would wonder what it might be like to talk with her, or even to kiss her lips.

we could learn from you

What Dave tended to admire most about the Europeans was what he’d call their “freshness.” Their food had no preservatives and yet it was rarely spoiled. They made fresh loaves of bread every morning. And even though their countries and cities and institutions were older than American ones, they somehow didn’t seem trapped in them. People were out in the streets, walking around, and trying new things. The people seemed somehow younger, more colorful, more new.

we are your America

While most things in his own life were going fairly well, with good reviews, new commissions, travel around the world, and opportunities to reconnect with friends, Roger tended to think of the past decade as the saddest time he had known, as a period in which idealism was finally and irretrievably lost, or at least in America.

we can try

When it came to relationships, Helen said, Charlie tended not to see the forest for the trees. She said things like that when she got angry with him. Charlie didn’t really dispute that, though he never knew exactly what she meant — if the trees were meant to be people, or relationships, or concepts, or whatever, in her analogy.

we need a hand

Charlie and Anna tended to avoid confrontation, while for some reason he and Helen often had heated arguments, often in public places. The strange part was that he felt closer to Helen after they had argued, while the muted agreements and silent daggers Anna would sometimes shoot his way only made him feel like he was living in a gauze-covered world.

we need you with us

Though he tended to avoid unnecessary human contact, Howard did sometimes go on dates. He recognized that the saddest people on the face of the earth are those who die alone, and he enjoyed sex as much as the next guy. He wasn’t the best at approaching people, that’s all. He tended to do better at making conversation in libraries, where brief quiet exchanges are encouraged, than at bars, where people tend to favor brash garrulousnesses and tall tales.

Frequency: Were (restrictions)

WERE (restrictions)

were you there when they came

A colleague in the French Ministry of Defense tells Howard that the rapid changes in airport security restrictions remind him of the bureaucratic practices of occupation France, when the Nazis would post new regulations nearly every day by hammering edicts into lamp-posts all over the city. He understands, of course, that this is different, but it is frustrating, this rapidité, this impulse to constantly change the rules, is it not?

were you the one

To live a life free of restrictions, unencumbered by debts, or contracts, or gravity. To be faster than a speeding train, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, wealthier than a hedge fund manager.

were they here before us

Howard has an engineer’s fascination with gadgets of all kinds, and follows with great interest the new security technologies. For all of the money that is wasted, some of the research yields new devices that any boy would love to play with: solar-powered surveillance planes that can stay aloft in the upper atmosphere for months at a time without ever refueling, man-killing drones that use global positioning and face-recognition technologies to pick their targets out from a crowd and deliver a fatal payload without the least bit of human intervention. He’d seen video of a Palestinian terrorist dispatched in this way. Once the device was programmed, no one even had to push a button to make the kill.

were two or three one too many

Johnnie recoils at the idea of restrictions of any kind, on his movement, on his behavior, on his consciousness. It’s unlikely for instance that he could ever tolerate marriage, or hold down a nine-to-five office job. He can barely even stand to stay indoors for more than an hour or so.

were my people there

Roger experiences the capitals of Europe as a kind of dream. Governments there are happy to spend money in ways that are unthinkable in the USA. While America will spend billions to develop a better battle robot, for instance, the idea of spending a few extra thousand dollars to designing an aesthetically appealing escalator is completely foreign in country where function almost always precedes form. The Parisians put more thought into public spaces, and design without the kind of budgetary restrictions that cripple public art in America. They have a different idea of what it means to be a great city, a better one.

were they kind or mean

In Tahoe, Kent pays a private instructor to teach him how to ski. While he is a little embarrassed to be out there on the bunny hill, surrounded by preteens, it gives him great satisfaction to be working against the restrictions that growing up comparatively poor had placed on him, to be able to spend money learning the leisure activities of the rich. He’d already hired a golfing instructor willing to work with him on a public course, where he was sure he wouldn’t embarrass himself in front of any of his new country club friends.

were you any different

What Johnnie loves about a good rock concert is the sense of being immersed in a throbbing mass of humanity, free of the general restrictions imposed by society on the individual, free, in a sense, of any individuality at all. It was a sense of being part of an audience, a thing bigger than oneself, a thing that does not expect you to articulate or distinguish yourself, a thing that expects little more of you than to rock, dance, shake, and scream out loud, a thing that expects none of the complicated fore-brain stuff from you, much more of the primal.

were you there to ask them

While Kent’s mother had been bound by the affordances of her 9-to-5 administrative assistant life, his father was a wheeler-dealer, a con man who tolerated no restrictions of any kind. He had abandoned the family when Kent was five years old, though he sent postcards from various exotic locations: European capitals, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, the Alps. Kent was always thrilled when he found one of these postcards in the mail, though he knew his mother would have rather seen child support payments.

were you down all day

Anna is leaping off the high dive, and for a moment her body is in free fall. She is moving without restrictions between the sky above and the water below. Time slows down. She does not want to feel the splash, does not want to penetrate the surface. When the alarm bell rings, Charlie is out of town again and the house is empty and cold.

were you just a boy

There was some story Charlie read when he was a boy, he can’t remember the title or the details, but some story about hobos riding the rails during the Great Depression, which has always made him envy that life, rough and gritty, but without restrictions, free of obligations to society, success, or family. A wanderer in this world, bound only by the rails, tomorrow an open question, around the next bend. He would never feel that free, and he would always love the sound of trains.

Frequency: All (berlin)

ALL (berlin)

all we have is time

Maggie wonders what it had been like for the East Germans who somehow made their way over the Berlin Wall, not knowing if they would get shot in the attempt, not knowing much about the world they would find on the other side. She wonders about the boat people at sea, and the aborigines on walkabout. That aimless journey away from the known, toward the darkness or the light.

all we need is water

When Charlie lived in Philadelphia and Helen lived in New York, they were just as likely to meet for a weekend in Paris or Rome or Berlin as they were to meet in New Jersey. Sometimes Charlie could tie it in with a meeting with the exporters he worked with in Sicily. The ocean crossing and the added expense lent the hotel room assignation some extra allure, an exoticism that they both enjoyed.

all went away from him

They never recovered the body, and that as much as anything else destroyed the both of them. The uncertainty of how precisely the boy perished, how he disappeared from their lives. That bobbing thing could have been a dolphin or a boy. There were so many unanswered questions, and their marital bed was as divided as Berlin during the Cold War.

all must know where to go

Maggie made a list of places she had never been to she might like to go: Machu Picchu, Everest, Madagascar, Berlin. And things she might like to do that she had never done: hang-gliding, scuba diving, macramé. Finally she assembled a list of things she had done in her life and enjoyed enough to do again while she still had time. While her high school boyfriend was no longer available, she could still go horseback riding.

all my air went out from me

After Charlie was married and at the height of the turmoil in their affair, Helen once wrote that she was living in her own private Berlin, and she was waiting for his airlift to come. They were both prone to that type of rhetoric, for a time.

all must part

At his mother’s deathbed, Kent reflects that one of his greatest regrets is that he didn’t have enough money to support her properly while she could still enjoy life. Sure, he got her into one of the best convalescent homes in California once she started to go, but all through the nineties she lived in an apartment complex in LA that reminded of him of nothing so much as one of those East Berlin tenements they built during the Soviet era. He hated visiting her all that time. It shamed him that his own mother was living there.

all must go home again

The same moon is full tonight in Austin, San Francisco, Malibu, New Jersey, Paris, and Berlin, and while it is true that it is the same moon, and all of our characters find a moment to look at it this night, it is not true that they see the same moon. To Anna, the moon is blood red and threatening, while Kent sees a pie in the sky, and Charlie sees a woman’s face, while Roger contemplates putting an enormous neon sign there as an ironic gesture, and it reminds Maggie of a long-ago summer night, while it makes Helen think of a blues song, and Howard thinks about the asteroids that have pocked its naked surface. For some reason the moon makes Dave think about sex, and wonder why he and Jenny have never made it on a beach.

all turn away

In addition to the fact that it is so difficult to gather reliable information there, Howard opines, people just don’t want to know how many civilian casualties there have been in Iraq. We just don’t want to know about that. That’s how it goes with war. The victors alone are allowed to grieve their dead. How often do you think about Dresden, or the fire-bombing of Berlin? The bombing of London, sure, the horror of Auschwitz, of course, but who grieved for Berlin? Someone points out that it’s in poor taste to compare the United States’ war on terror to the Nazi genocide, a just war with a crime against humanity. Howard shuts up and orders another pilsener.

all play the same way

A shuttered window frame in Tuscany, an ornate door frame in Berlin, a view of ant-like traffic from a Chicago skyscraper, the smell of freshly-ironed sheets in a Paris hotel. Helen remembers certain still-life moments of a long affair.

all ask why and find no answer

Roger would like to construct something for the present moment like the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, something massive that reflects the deep and persistent fear, the emptiness he feels all around him in the middle of the American mind.

Frequency: What (sensible)

WHAT (sensible)

what do you have for me

How Dave talked Jenny into an Italian vacation with four nights in Venice and some “eco-tourism” in Tuscany with plenty of good food and wine as a substitute for the Antarctica cruise is anyone’s guess, but in the end she agreed it was a sensible alternative, and they both agreed the gondola ride was romantic.

what can I do for you

They were talking about how the medieval monks led sensible lives, if you think about it, making wine and their own food, no negative impact on the environment, lives of quiet contemplation. The quiet, the stillness so beautiful, and they were all alone, and had never made it in a place like this before, so soon they were rutting, standing up, her back against the archway. A perfect moment until that brother came walking by in his chastising cassock.

what need have you of us

It seemed like a place where nobody knew about global warming or cared about the latest polls. Not a Wal-Mart in sight, not a McDonald’s for a hundred miles, a place where they had lived the same sensible way of life for centuries. Only problem was Dave’s fucking Blackberry wasn’t working. His clients would be pissed off if he didn’t get back to them by the end of the day.

what does it mean in the end

Dave loves old places, places with monuments that have outlasted generations upon generations of men, places where people had built sensible institutions of power, and architecture that didn’t fall down for centuries after its makers died. This kind of place humbles you, with your petty passing concerns. He loves watching Jenny in this kind of place, her passing beauty in its prime, her wonderful body moving in the light filtered through the dome overhead. He could have been in love.

what kind of play is this

Anna wanted to believe that there was a world beyond the sensible, that there would be a doorway, a shining light, a place where souls could be reunited, a place where the boy still lived, a place where her loved ones were waiting for her to return.

what have you found

Helen tries to live in the world of the sensible. She takes long drives in the Northern California countryside, content with her loneliness, taking in the Republic’s remaining beauty, smelling the fruit farms, basking in the light. Work keeps her busy enough that she hardly thinks of Charlie any more, intensely but rarely. And she can drive on when she does.

what would you take back if you could

It is not sensible to dwell on what is lost. It is not sensible to be afraid of water. It is not sensible to want to cover mirrors. It is not sensible to weep after sunset nearly every night.

what is your read on it

Roger was trying to make a wall of light, a kind of visual equivalent of Spector’s wall of sound. He asked for lasers and the funder approved them. The results were stunning and expensive. It seemed the less sensible the request, the more likely it would be approved. He worked on a proposal for space art through the European Space Agency. He wanted to do something with space junk and reflective paint, to make pollution in the upper atmosphere twinkle in the night.

what you want

Every kid can be a brat sometimes. Charlie found himself regretting things he had said in anger, things that had seemed sensible at the time. If you don’t get up and come with Daddy right now, I’ll leave you behind.

what hand is this so old

Most of the trip was absolutely wonderful, good food, friendly people, la dolce vita and all that. Jenny loved it. Dave thought the Italians were sensible people, good souls who knew how to enjoy life. The only time he really got an anti-American vibe was when he tipped a street violinist with a ten-dollar bill. The guy gave Dave a look like he’d just pissed in the case.

Frequency: Not (manufactures)

NOT (manufactures)

not what we need now

Charlie is well aware that he manufactures reasons to move further and further away from Anna, to fail at what may be the most important challenge of his life. He may have already failed, might have been trying to fail from the get-go.

not from what I can see

Roger manufactures synesthesia, at least he tries to. He longs for colors that you can smell, frozen frames of city life that burst with cacophony, textures that press against your cornea.

not made for your little hand

In the weeks after the accident, nearly everything reminded Charlie of the boy. It seemed that every object he saw reminded him of a toy he had given the boy, or would have given the boy, or wished he could still give the boy. The world manufactures the most workaday objects in the shapes it remembers from its childhood.

not because I want it to end

That Christmas is a bitter one for Helen. As Charlie manufactures yet another excuse to see her one more time to explain that he can never see her again like this, probably, she feels a simultaneous desire to give him whatever he wants, whatever he needs from her right now, and a sad repulsion from her longtime lover, who is beginning to take the form and attitude of a broken man. All the Santas and elves and caroling and window displays did nothing to lift her spirits or her deep sense of inner conflict.

not only because of you

Maggie manufactures a pretense to visit an old boyfriend, Tom Wilson, in New York. Married now, bald, two kids, round around the middle, making decent money in the insurance industry, nice little house in Connecticut, and a country club circle of friends. He shows her pictures, he buys her a couple of drinks. She indulges in a little nostalgic tourism. She doesn’t mention the illness. When he asks her if she’s happy, she doesn’t know what to say, instead she sort of half-laughs. Neither one of them can really remember why they decided to break up. It was so long ago. He pats her hand, and says not to worry, that he’s not really happy either, but it goes how it goes. And then, Maggie adds, it’s gone.

not one to ask why

Johnnie has a chemist friend who manufactures LSD variants in a basement lab in Queens. He stops in a for a visit, and later finds himself weeping on a highway bridge, reciting poetry by William Blake and watching the lights stream by.

not in my name

Howard hates demonstrations of all kinds. He manufactures reasons to get out of teams working on security preparations for political conventions, WTO meetings, anything of that nature. It’s not that he disagrees with the protesters. They are often more right than the government that employs him. It’s all of the variables involved, all of the opportunities for the wrong thing to happen. It makes him hyperventilate just to think back to riding the subway during the Republican convention, sweating in a blue pinstripe suit, profiling everyone in sight, not to mention the risk of a common airborne virus.

not for us to know

When asked what does for a living, Roger sometimes says that he manufactures daydreams for a market of people who feel a need to be distracted from banality of their lives.

not time enough to tell you

Out for a night at a superb sleazy mud-wrestling joint with an old punk rock friend and recent responsible parent and who now manufactures a line of baby toys, implements, and apparel for hipster babies (batik tie-dyes, pacifiers that say “boob man”, steal-your-face blankies, leather onesies, and things of that nature), Johnnie reels off lists of new cocktails he has tried, designer drugs he has sampled, and varieties of sexual encounters he has engaged in since their last meet. The mud-wrestling is pretty hot, serious grudge match fantasy material. No, Johnnie tells his friend, no kids yet, nothing like that in the cards, at least as far as he knows.

not what you long for

Howard lives in a country that cyclically manufacturers and consumes its own dreams.

Frequency: But (honor)

BUT (honor)

but you would not say the word

Charlie discovered how difficult it is to honor both your wife and your mistress. It involves a lot of subterfuge, secret meetings, and discrete text messages on two separate accounts.

but I need to think

Howard’s theory is that when you back people up against a wall, honor is the first thing to go. Values mean nothing to you when you feel that your life is in danger.

but I still want an answer

Helen was living in Park Slope when the planes came, and though she wanted to honor the sacrifice of all the brave souls, and she doubted that any other place would every feel like home, and she would miss the neighborhood dogs and strollers and deli, it wasn’t long before she was looking into the Bay area job market. She and Charlie would soon be finished anyway, and she had no firm commitments to anyone or any place. It took two years before she actually packed up and moved out, so you couldn’t say that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but when she did have nightmares they often featured thousands of reams of charred documents, floating down in clouds of soot.

but we still have time

Charlie maintains that there is still some honor among thieves, at least those of the old school, while in Johnnie’s experience, most of the robbers he’s met would steal your four year-old kid’s bike for a baggie of crystals. Different circles they move among. They rarely share their stories with each other. For brothers they don’t know each other very well.

but we must still try

It was a difficult conversation, the first time Charlie dropped the news on Helen that he had made a commitment he would need to honor, a commitment that would have to take precedence over what he and Helen shared. The vase of flowers missed his head by a foot and the window of her apartment by an inch or two. It could have been ugly, but it ended in the sweaty angry kind of lovemaking at which they had always excelled, and at the end of it nothing much had ended or even been resolved.

but this is not the end

Maggie bought tickets for a weekend in New York and repeated an itinerary she and her mother had laid out twenty years before, when she was dying and had wanted to do something special together. Maggie went back to all the same places. The show on Broadway was different and the Plaza was closed for repairs but the walk in Central Park was still the same. It was kind of a way for her to honor her mother’s courage, or at least to try and pull something from it.

but our time is not long

He would not be able to honor their commitment to go to his mother-in-law’s sixtieth birthday because the snowstorm was so bad that he would be stuck in the city for at least another day. He was deeply sorry, but the roads were so bad, he was sure she would understand. Sorry Anna. Awful weather. Give her a hug for me.

but you read another line

It is too easy to confuse honor with strength, or security with responsibility. The orders coming down sometimes made Howard feel like he was living in another country. Freedom didn’t have the same ring it used to.

but I know there is another place

Kent likes hanging out with builders and architects, men of honor and vision, men who can see a scrap of land and imagine a housing development. Men who never ford a river without dreaming of the bridge that ought to be there. Kent understands the boundless spirit of manifest destiny, and believes that spirit has never died.

but I have not found it

Kent was tired of the joke, of course, but the truth was he kept a stack of Superman comics under his bed until he was well into his teens, and he considered it an honor to have a name that reminded the other kids of the Man of Steel. It gave him a role model, something to aspire to.

Frequency: Word (holds)

This is just a placeholder. I wrote this set of ten but then left them in Bergen on a flash drive. I’ll update the post after I return to Norway in February.

WORD (holds)
word could not be still
word before sentence or page
word as the work of man
word after sound before line
word to give what you think form
word more than picture
word to make you think
word that you had said
word is all we have
word is not much

Frequency: By (latin)

BY (latin)

by and large it was a good day

Charlie and Anna attend a Latin mass at Notre Dame. They both light candles and hold hands in front of the votive offering. It’s a kind of depressing thing to do, but something about the mysticism of the old ceremony in the old place provides them with a momentary sense of relief.

by the way I need you

Charlie is torn, deeply conflicted. He had half-planned to send a ticket to Helen and bring her to Paris instead of Anna. But he recognized his own frailty and did the right thing instead. Still he finds himself sneaking off to for a few moments to scribble a postcard to her, just to let her know he’s still thinking of her. A phrase for her in Latin: Amor caecus est.

by the sound of it you need help

Maggie never liked doctors much and hers is of the type who would prefer to spout terminology in Latin to telling her how long she actually has left to live.

by the people

Of course they keep an eye on Paris. A lot of angry young Muslims, a lot of American targets, though generally those youth were more contra mundum, as they say in Latin. More against the world in general, or against the French state, than they were against the American embassy in particular. Still, the threats gave Howard a chance to eat some great food, and a fluent staffer at the embassy did all the ordering for him in restaurants.

by his hand it came to an end

Howard happened to be in Paris during one of the riots, though the turmoil in the banlieues was invisible to him from the Latin Quarter. In a way, the Gallic mode of street protest, burning cars and tear gas and so on, seemed somehow anachronistically charming to Howard. He appreciated the fact that the unrest was visible on the streets, nothing opaque or sleeper cell about it.

by and by

Howard lives a life more spartan than Latin. He isn’t one for nightclubs or even online dating. It isn’t that he’s lacking in desire to get in a serious relationship, or even to have a good time, it’s just that he’s never managed to feel deeply connected, to anyone, really. That kind of exposure seems somehow unsafe.

by the time we found him it was over

A visit to Père-Lachaise was a really bad idea for an overcast afternoon in Paris, but Anna insisted. They wandered the city of the dead, among the elaborate monuments, mausoleums, and headstones. It was as if she had to visit him even she was away. She wept for a few minutes, and when Charlie asked her why, she said it was because they hadn’t written anything in Latin on the headstone. Charlie didn’t weep, though his sadness was equally deep. The boy had never even learned to read English, much less Latin.

by the end we would learn the answer

He speaks Latin and it’s all Greek to her. Does the concept of ending make sense at all anymore when such an ending has already come too soon? It is even possible to use the term vacation when it is fundamentally impossible to vacate the world they have made?

by name they could tell us one from another

He could pick Helen out of a crowd from a photograph shot by a satellite five miles overhead. Her eyes are striking. Her beauty could turn your head, knock you down. Her eyes move you. You could be a Latin lover or an adolescent dreamer, a billionaire or a chauffeur, a masseur or a homeless man. To look into her eyes is to know yourself as you imagine yourself to be, or so Charlie rhapsodized when he had a bit too much to drink.

by the water we set him down

He speaks a phrase or two in Pig Latin to try and make her feel better. It is not right, and they both feel it, that water makes them both want to cry. It is not right, in any circumstances, to feel that wet is wrong. They both try to face up to their fears, to face what is wrong with them, what has effaced them, face front. They both try to breath, to live with what has cheated them.

Frequency: Had (swimming)

HAD (swimming)

had we world and time

Anna always used to think of swimming as an escape. When she was thirteen she won a medal for her breast stroke. But now the sea reminds her of nothing so much as death.

had I made it home in time

Charlie had extended the business trip to Chicago for an extra day. To spend time with Helen, selfish of course, and he would always have to live with that. Anna could spend an extra day at the beach house with the boy, swimming and playing in the sand. It seemed innocent enough at the time.

had I put it to an an end

In his professional life, Charlie was never a second-guesser. You made a deal and you followed the path you chose. If it was a mistake you tried to correct it, learned from it, and moved on. You drew a sharp line between the past and the present. But he had an orphan’s sense of guilt in his personal life, and he couldn’t avoid swimming in contradictory regrets when it came to the mistakes he made in love and family matters.

had we a different hand

Fate might be the last refuge of all broken people. You can convince yourself, if you try hard enough, that it was not your fault that the boy chose to go swimming at that precise moment, that you had no control over the movement of the water, the sudden shifts of the tides, the undertow, the negligent lifeguard, your own distraction. Cosmic forces are at work, grinding us down to slivers of bone, to shadows.

had we some way out of this

There are limits to Johnnie’s self-destructive impulses. Whatever he is doing is slower and less permanent than suicide. There is always the possibility of an escape or a phoenix-like rebirth. He is not completely lost, but he is swimming in waking dreams of fire, not quite hell but close enough.

had the play not come to an end

Helen and Charlie were still young and their lives were uncomplicated. Driving through New York State for a weekend at Niagara Falls, taking country roads. She wanted to go swimming. An idyllic lake, no one else around. Somewhere west of Syracuse. Strawberries they bought from a roadside stand. Birthday suits and playful splashing around. The sun warming droplets on her pelvis. Just watching her lying nude on the shore, her ribcage rising and falling. He thinks of it still, that afternoon that should have gone on forever.

had the change not come

You can’t rely on some eighteen year-old boy raging with hormones sitting in a tower on a beach filled with seventeen year-old girls sunning themselves at his feet, untying tops, applying lotions, calling out to him for the time of day or with information about parties in which fires will burn on the beach and light beer will be drunk from kegs, to notice a four year-old boy swimming off into nothingness. You can’t rely on such boys to save the life of your child from the suddenly angry sea.

had the before not have been so long

Sometimes a storm from the day before, two hundred miles out, will lift up the waves and come crashing down on any who happen to be swimming, the undertow powerful enough everything back to out to sea.

had we not work to do

While Kent was never particularly wanted and certainly not needed at a work site, he loved to be there when the big yellow machines, bulldozers, cranes, and power shovels were at work. Any excuse to put on a yellow hard hat and look over unrolled blueprints with the smell of diesel fuel in the air, swimming in childhood nostalgia and the feeling of being a grown boy among men.

had the men not been so mean

Johnnie is unusually attracted to anything to do with fire, bonfires and torch-dancers, fire-eaters and oil refineries, lighter fluid and charcoal briquettes, wildfires and roasting chestnuts and automobile accidents on the interstate. Pulled towards and repulsed, something primal within him, swimming in adrenaline.

Frequency: One (gathered)

ONE (gathered)

one can be kind

After the closing, Kent gathered together friends old and new (actually, he reflected as he looked around the pool, mostly new) for a pool party and barbecue. Stoli lemonades, string bikinis, steaks on the grill. And, he felt, it was good.

one can be mean

Strategically loose lips, approved up the chain of command, are one thing, but the opposition getting hold of a storyboard so that they already had their response ad ready before the damn thing even aired qualified as a sunk ship. Dave gathered the interns and lined them up against the wall. Time to grill the kids, to find out which little bird needed to be made an example of.

one can give a hand

Kent passed out five dollar lollipops to the ghosts who gathered on his doorstep for Halloween. Times were good, and he loved the way those kids screamed with glee. He liked to help the unfortunate, and even if the kids in this neighborhood lived in million dollar homes, most of their silicon moms were real uptight about the sugar intake.

one can learn

Kent gathered up some paperwork to leaf through, sat out on the front porch drinking iced tea, and watched the neighborhood kids he had hired do the yard work. It was just about a perfect day.

one would not answer the call

Her father surprised her when he brought the priest around to pray with her. Her father had never been that religious. She guessed he was just clutching at straws. Nothing she would have done herself, but she didn’t want to be rude. She gathered up her thoughts. She’d pray not for a cure but for a quick and surprising death, a lightning bolt rather than bedsores and lingering decay. If there was a merciful god.

one could move away

Anna had contemplated leaving Charlie more than once, but as she gathered up her things to pack, it occurred to her that she didn’t have any idea where else she could go, or who could make her feel happier, in spite of everything.

one will not be with us

Anna was never the loopy sort who believed in ghosts or angels or séances or the like, but still she gathered there might be some kind of spirit world, some way in which in which the dead are still with us.

one could show the way

Maggie spent several hours on Amazon and gathered some books on how to die in her shopping cart, but when they arrived a week later and she started reading them, she quickly realized that none of them recommended dying while reading books on how to die. She still hadn’t read War and Peace, and her last page-turners were to be self-help books? Better to read Kafka or koans.

one can say no

The rainbow people girl he was sharing a tent with at Burning Man handed Johnnie a bouquet of wildflowers she had gathered up from somewhere. The flower petals reminded of nothing so much as flames. He said they burned his hands, and he actually sat huddled in the tent and cried and rocked for a while as she comforted him, and he resolved not to have another one of whatever he just took.

one could look up

Johnnie had a long conversation at an LA nightclub with a former Suicide Girl about pinups and suicide. He liked the way she dressed. His top ten list included parachute-less free fall, automobile drive into the Grand Canyon like those two women in that movie, death by Viagra overdose, and jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. Not the Golden Gate, that would be too clichéd, though he gathered that since she was from California, that might be more her style.

Frequency: Or (wan)

OR (wan)

or you could turn a page

Wan with jet lag, Dave pleaded with Jenny to forgive him for whatever slight had been at the root of the breakup this time around. He presented her with gifts from Asia: one of those scroll paintings of mountains and flowers, one of those silk robes geisha wear, one of those fancy fans.

or it could come in a new form

Though she was looking wan and feeling a little sick, the twins’ birthday party was the highlight of her week. As the boys opened their gifts from her, Maggie’s sister gave her a soulful look. The gifts were more extravagant this year than usual, but she knew they wanted a Wii and the robot dinosaurs were a tremendous hit. She wondered if setting up a small trust fund in her will for future birthday presents would be welcomed or just morbid.

or you could come with me

If a few things had turned out differently, Charlie might very well have ended up married to Helen. When he had had to move to Philadelphia, she greeted the news with a wan expression. She was happy where she was, in her little Greenwich Village apartment with everything right there, and things wouldn’t need to change. They could keep things light the way they always had. She wasn’t ready just yet to settle down, certainly not in Philly. Then he met Anna, and like that she was pregnant, and then the baby. Things got complex.

or it could have been before our time

At lunch with the state party chairman, Dave nursed his second martini, while the wan-faced old man sucked down his third, telling stories of the old days, when things were done with a handshake, when you could still trust people, when you could go with the guy you liked rather than the person who matched the demographics of the district according to some pollster’s computer. Dave called for the check before the lizard ordered another. They weren’t going to back his candidate, that much was clear.

or we could work with them

Kent partnered up with a wan little accountant named Pete who liked to bowl. He needed the extra capital. Pete liked to have meetings at the bowling alley. Said it was the only way he could fit it into his schedule, and good to mix business and pleasure. Trouble was Kent had never developed much of a bowling game, and it distracted him, watching this number-cruncher rack up strike after strike, while Kent was lucky if he bagged the occasional spare.

or we could set out for a new land

While he was on the road, unless he was in the kind of place that justified a major outlay (Vegas, New York, Atlantic City), Johnnie tried to live on the cheap. The inheritance wouldn’t last forever. He spent a lot of in time in the kind of roadside motels that hadn’t seen their best days since the development of the interstate system, the type of establishment where wan chain-smoking zombie clerks ask if you’ll be renting by the night or by the hour before handing you clean sheets and towels with your keys.

or you could look around

Maggie decided to take a road trip to Nebraska, where she had been born and gone to the university. Everybody thought she was nuts, but she felt like she need to reconnect with her roots. It was January and there’s not much to see in that part of the world even in summer. She got caught in a bad storm near Kearney, pulled the car off onto the shoulder, got out of the car and wandered out into the fields, snow stinging her face, the world shrouded in wan light.

or you could be my first

Johnnie was on a coke binge in Reno when he met a wan-faced dancer with skin like a bowl of milk who promised him something special if he’d come to her place the next afternoon. She was pretty as a white-chocolate-covered-chocolate so he showed up at the appointed time. She asked him to put on a furry animal costume. It was fun for a while, he playing the lion, she playing the lamb, but something about it seemed strangely asexual and he couldn’t get it up when the time came to close the deal.

or you could ask why

In the wan light of the setting sun, Helen wondered if she would ever feel settled in one place, much less at one with the universe. She wasn’t sure if her trouble was just poor choices in men, or if it came from a place deeper inside of her.

Frequeny: From (tied)

FROM (tied)

from one little day to a long year

Maggie contemplated religion, but her desire for consolation tied with her powers of reason, and so she remained agnostic after all.

from our home to your land

As the tide turned on the real estate market, Kent just kept finding new opportunities. He knew that a lot of people were suffering, but he wasn’t the type to get tied up in knots about the plight of the working poor. They should have been smarter about their leverage while they had it.

from one still point

Long before he decided to become a rock star, Johnnie’s desire to become an astronaut was tied only with his burning desire to become a fireman. He knows every word to “Rocket Man” and sings whenever it comes on the juke, and a shiny red fire engine can still make him turn his head.

from your move to my end

For Jenny, Dave is a source of endless frustration and yet also a release mechanism. He is a sort of toxic waste dump for her psyche, tender at times, but in the main enacting most of the attributes she deplores. Every time she moves to break it off, he’s tied it back up again. In some ways she feels it demeans her to be with him. She isn’t going to change him. She wondered if the fact that it feels so dirty and wrong to be with him isn’t half of his appeal.

from the letter to the page

Roger visited his father in the memory loss unit on his eightieth birthday. Roger felt guilt and regret and anger every time he visited the old man. His own sense of shame at the distance between them, so many loose ends that could never be tied off, so much he wished he would have said before it would be immediately forgotten.

from your mother to the end

Looking through the photo album, Maggie mused that even if she tied her mother for longevity, she’d never come close in variety of hair styles. A short life, but every year of it a different look, from beehive to bouffant.

from the study of your page

You wouldn’t think it from talking to him, but Charlie is a great letter-writer, a fan of the pen and ink epistle. That might have been what kept him and Helen at it for so long. They were tied to a mutual love of stamped letters from far off places, his filled with longing, hers scented with perfume, delivered to his office, opened behind closed doors. He had fine stationary that he only used for her.

from our work to your play

One of the reasons Kent loves spending time with Irene the real estate agent is the fact that her profession allows them so many opportunities for love play. She has the keys for all those open houses. He ties her to the bed with silk scarves from the owner’s closest, and licks whipped cream from all over her body. He loves the smell of the apple pie she always puts in the oven. She claims that smell alone can sell a home.

from the same well another water

Charlie and Johnnie are tied together by blood, though in some ways they couldn’t be less alike. Johnnie is sensitive where Charlie is tough. Johnnie is outgoing where Charlie is reserved. Johnnie is bitter where Charlie is resigned. Charlie sometimes makes mistakes where Johnnie actively seeks out dramas.

from water to land

The question of what you might want to do with the last year of your life, it turns out, is easier to answer in the abstract than when you are actually confronted with it. There were of course people she wanted to spend time with, but Maggie wasn’t really tied to any specific agenda or any specific place, only to the dearness of her remaining time.