Tag Archive: Split City

Because today was a day full of work, and then tonight was a night full of work, and now it is almost today all over again, and I will fuck up today’s work quite thoroughly if I don’t at least pretend I intend to sleep in between.

But there are things that need writing, and will not leave me alone until I acknowledge them.  It’s been a very right-brain-eating-my-face week, and for some very good and very interesting reasons, and some very bad and very interesting ones.  I am sorting through all sorts of flotsam and jetsam, and now here is a list, because that way I can pretend to the things that need writing that I will get to them, at least long enough to sleep.  And maybe, when I wake up again, I will remember what I meant by all this – or, even more interestingly, I will half remember, and make something not-quite-new-but-curiously-rewrought out of the bits.  Upcycled memory.

Words mean things.  It needs writing because it is true.  Because deserve is a blessing and an epithet.  Because need is a plea, a bargain, a comfort, a curse, a coward’s way out, a pretty lie, a naked and trembling truth. Because words mean things, and people mean things by words, and what we mean by things means everything – and when what we mean is not what it means to someone else, things can go very awry, or just very else.

The trouble with torture.  The trouble with torture, O Best Beloved, it’s that it’s predictably and practically pointless to do it to anyone else but one’s very own private, potent, purulently penitent Self.  No one else has the tools to hone the edge of the tool so fine that it cuts precisely where the intent meets the deed, so that the Self is reminded of what it couldn’t be bothered about before any of this silliness began.

Hookers, whores, call girls and storytellers.  We lie.  We all lie.  And the ones of us who are paid the most to lie to other people are paid to do it because our lies sound like something that those people want very, very badly to be true.  Find the truth that your john wants, and feed it out, micron by micron.  Get paid in the coin of your choice for every morsel.  Wrap as much of what you believe or want to be true in it as you can bear – every word that comes out of your cocksucker that you can believe, your john will believe because you believe it, and it will be easier to sell the ones you know are lunacy and pap.  Cut yourself on true words to feed him watered down lies that taste like lifeblood just enough to make him want more.  And while he’s swallowing, pilfer his wallet.  Or tell him why he had the idea to sign the contract.  Where is the line between fantasy and sociopathy?

Brains are tuning forks. Songs are the note to which mine resonates right now.  The shortcut drug is in full effect, and it is digging things up out of trunks long left locked to rust in the dark.  Pieces of Split City are slotting together, and I think I expected that to be a good thing.  It is definitely becoming something very else, though, and I don’t know what I think of that.  I am becoming, slowly, hesitant to think of these things that I am putting words to as part of some linear work.  There are too many parallels, overlaps, whorls.  Plotlines run like fingerprints.  It is confusing, fascinating.  I have told and retold the story of my own life to myself so many times, in so many ways, trying to make sense of it – perhaps I have worn parallel sorts of paths in my brain, so that it creates not single things, but what if bouquets of possibility and potentiality.

We shall see.

Prismatic art

I had a picture in my head that I wanted to share, because it makes a whole lot of sense to me about the way that I create art, and the way that I see the world.

Imagine first that every person, event, concept, experience, and everything that is a noun is a light source.
Imagine next that every person’s viewpoint is a prism.
Imagine then that every time a person intentionally adopts a different view or creates a piece of art even partially based in reality, that makes a new prism.

Now imagine what kind of light pattern that makes, and how all those prisms refract new types and shades of light into other prisms, throwing light and shade and color onto each other and their surroundings and making this amazing field of experience that would otherwise never be possible, if all we had were just the original light sources.

I’ve finally figured out why art is so damned important to me – because a world without prisms would be a boring world, and I hate being bored.

Navel-gazing metaphor time:
We start as babies, lying in our cribs staring up at a mobile of beautiful prisms made by other people, admiring them and watching the pretty lights play on the ceiling. We cannot touch or understand them, but we stare at them for hours on end, fascinated.
We grow to where we can stand, grasping the edges of our cribs, reaching for the prisms, trying to catch the pretty lights, to hold them in our hand. Eventually we will be tall enough to reach what we grab for – and then we learn a hard, nasty lesson, because prisms can cut. And we bleed, and cry, and do not understand why so beautiful a thing that fascinates us would hurt us so. And for a little while, we hate the prisms, and curse them, and we hate the light they throw, even while we are fascinated by it.
Eventually, we learn that only if we grab them can they cut us – if we merely touch them, and if we are careful and responsible, we can make our prism mobiles swing and dance in the light without being hurt. When we are adults, with skills and motor control, we can even make our own prisms, to hang on our mobiles and make our own pretty lights, in the colors we love the best. Whether they are new colors or more of the same is up to us – how bright, how faceted, how intertwined with the others, we get to choose it all!
It is hard work to make your own prism, but you get to make it your very own. If you are careless, it will cut you, and that will hurt like a son of a bitch. But having your very own prism is worth it – and having something so delicate, so beautiful, so amazing, is worth all the risk and pain and work. No store-bought mobile can compare.

I spent a couple of hours writing tonight, and that was the picture I had in my head behind the story. I like making my own prisms, even when the work is sharp enough to make me bleed and cry. This story hurts, and hurts a lot, but the prism it is making is worth it. A mobile of my very own, with pieces of myself and my world broken apart and put back together differently, faceted and casting new and different light and making a whole new world in a different shape, that tells a story all together different from my own. It is a genuinely fascinating process, because it is an exercise in paradox. I am writing about things that I know very, very intimately – and creating people who are strangers to me, who are refractions. “Write what you know” becomes a very different thing, in that context. There is nothing new under the sun, but sunlight looks very different through a differently angled facet.

Now I must only make sure my jeweler’s loupe does not go out of focus.

Yep, I’m feeling archaic and overwrought tonight. Writing emotional things does that. Tomorrow, more fighting-writing, and probably I’ll blog lots of obscenities and about living fiercely. It’s a phase.

Or you are going to feel a hell of a lot fucking worse.” – From Dusk ‘Til Dawn

And, lo and behold, my best got a hell of a lot fucking better, and I don’t feel a hell of a lot fucking worse.

I’ve gotten down a little under 3,000 good words of actual story content today.  No dialogue, nothing that will go verbatim into anything, but everything is Split City, and everything is something that will either fuel the plot or make the world tick over behind the plot, so it’s all directly useful.  I haven’t done anything nearly that productive on something that was my own project in over a year.

My best just got better, and the bar just went up.  Way up.  I’m pretty sure I’m happy about that – happy and terrified.  It’s a little daunting to look at what you can really do, when you focus and give it your best damn shot, as opposed to giving yourself reasons not to have to do the real fucking work.  This is the sharpest my brain has felt in a long damn time, and it feels really, REALLY good.  It’s the same feeling above the neck as a good sweaty workout followed by a hard spar gives me below the neck.  It’s exhausting and satisfying and makes me want to do it again tomorrow – and I have way more than enough bubbling in my brain to do it.

And because I did it today, there is less of a pressure cooker on the inside.  The city is starting to tick better because I am not hobbling myself, and I might get some decent non-chemical sleep.  Genuine joy in creation makes me feel more peaceful than I have in a long time, and more fulfilled than I have with anything I have created in more years than I care to count.  I am starting to have hope that this may be the first big art that I can actually bring to completion, instead of petering out partway through, and sighing and saying “someday…” and never getting around to it.  I want it to live, and I will see it through.  I am determined, and my best just got a hell of a lot fucking better.

And the phrase of the day is: squid saddle.  When you develop brain squids, buy squid tack and squid saddles.  It’s the only reasonable response.

Nice things about being alone in my house: I can eat candy corn for breakfast and work naked in front of my computer on days when I am all ragged out from weekends.  (What? It’s a blog.  I can say thoroughly blog-y stereotypical things from time to time.  I am experimenting with intentional self-indulgence.)


So here’s the miscellaneous update of Stuff That’s Happened While I Wasn’t Writing Things Down:

1) Apparently the ass-back of nowhere, Kentucky has not yet discovered the Internet.  Note to self: import Al Gore ASAP.  So I have to collect all my notes from various gadgets and notebooks and dredge through memory (hyuk hyuk) to get back what I can of the experience itself.

2) The Cumberland Gap is beautiful country.  There is something surreal about going through the weather change between being in a giant meteor crater, going underground through a 2-mile tunnel, and coming out the other side into an entirely different world.  I had forgotten what it’s like to be in a land with seasons and heights when the seasons are changing and there is air and temperature and moisture moving and changing and making a difference.

3) Underground tunnels create their own wind.  Underground train tunnels have closets built into them so that idiots who wander into them and get stuck when a train is coming by can stuff themselves into the underground closet and not get smooshed like a bug on a truck windshield.  Coal trains are heavy, and almost impossible to stop.  Coal trucks, ditto.  Mines are fascinating, active mines are boggling, reclaimed mines are hellaciously fun to climb (by vehicle or foot) and peer at the billions of years of accretion and building and time all pulled up and turned over and crumbling at a touch.  Fascinating and sad and terrifying and wonderful, watching the wild take it back over.  Slag heaps – never seen one before.  Have now.  There is such a thing as fool’s coal – who knew?  Next time, the cast-off casting yards and foundries – skeletons of iron like dinosaurs of industry left to rust.  Shudderingly fascinating.  And more trains.  And, if I can get a functional jetpack, I have been promised that I can trespass on an active mine.  So now I have to find a functional jetpack.  (Apparently there is some concern that I am not *quite* nimble enough to dodge a three-lane-wide coal truck weighing 100s of tons going 70 mph. Piffle!)

4) You can smell an active mine from miles out.  It is a smell like nothing else.  It has its own miasma, especially at night.  Totally unique.  Horrifyingly fascinating.  My inner hippie and my inner industry rat go to war.  Obsession in the making.

5) I found entirely new people in the City, which is something that hasn’t happened in a while.  Pell Mell is a defined personality in a tribe I already knew was there, and one of the rare males-of-power.  Very happy to have met him, and I am looking forward to watching him go running downhill.  InterKid may or may not end up in the books, but he is fucking neat either way.  He is definitely a City denizen, and thoroughly different.  A cool pool of laid-back separatism.  Makes me kind of glad to meet a person who is a denizen who may or may not be involved at all.  Sort of neat.

6) Really reconnected with one old friend and got to know his fiancee (too lazy for accent marks) much better.  I cannot express how happy I am for them – they are disgustingly cutely in love, and it reminds me what love can be like.  Beautiful and adorable and vomit-inducing and fabulous.  Making plans to go up again in a few weeks, and thoroughly happy about that, too.


Above all, I am happy that I have used “happy” more times than is reasonable in this.  Joy tag ahoy, and life is better that it’s getting bigger again!

I know this.  I know that I know this.  I am occasionally a drummer, and often a hummer, and alone or around people who don’t mind that I can only carry a tune when equipped with a sizable bucket, I am a singer.  But, realistically, I am not a musician.  That’s okay – everybody’s got their thing, and while I can appreciate and love and revel in music, I am not equipped to make it with any real facility.

Here’s the problem: ever since I read the thing and then wrote the thing about belligerent essentials, there has been a song punching the back of my brain.  It is a song I am in no way equipped to write, and if I did try to write it, it would end up being a hunchbacked quasimoto of a thing that limped along and said nothing like what I wanted it to say.  Words I can do, and meter I can occasionally do, but words + meter + tune = Motley’s Brain Explodes.  But it has a beat! You can hear it and feel it in the way the words come out in the rant, in the way they line up together to try and kick down doors.  There is a thing there that wants to be a thing that people can howl along with and fling at their enemies while taking back wild spaces for themselves, even if it’s only in their own heads.

Or, on the other hand, maybe that’s just the part of my brain that makes up things telling me that there should be a song like that, and it’s just making up things again.  I don’t know.  But it’s infuriating, whatever’s going on.  My right brain is eating my face.  Everything punchy that the phrases can slip into has the words kicking into the backbeat and distracting me.  Because they pulse, like adrenaline junkie music.  Except I can’t make adrenaline junkie music, so there’s nowhere for it to go.  So I am trying to Rubix Cube this thing that wants to be a song into something I can actually make, so I can get it out of my head at least enough to get around it and back to the things I am trying to work on.

Once again, I am living in a land of arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!  So maybe I will find a big piece of posterboard and a Sharpie marker and write all the phrases that want to line up with stompy boots and kick down doors and stomp to that fucking beat, and then it will at least be out, and not in the way of everything else.  Then they can live in big letters and no lines and be waiting for when I can figure out what in the hell I am going to do with them, and they will not chew on me in trying not to be forgotten.  This is a plan, I think.

Today I pack for a trip to the Frozen North.  Packing includes acquiring and becoming functional in the use of little voice recording gear, so I can make at least some practical use of 20+ hours in the car this weekend.  Maybe some good stories will come out of it; who knows?  I am determined to stare into the teeth of the Feeling Like a Crazy Person Talking to Herself tiger and giving it a good kicking.  It’s the only way I will ever get past it.  With enough practice, it will feel normal, like so many other things.  If nothing else, I can get a lot of good notes on “this is the sound of” type things out of my head and onto the record, so that I don’t lose track of them, and then once I am better at getting my right brain to stop eating my face, I can get more detail of the scenes and people that live in the music onto paper or at least into words.  Now I just have to figure out how to translate that smell-o-vision 5000.

Wet, sticky, and amorphous


I have a movie theater in my brain that does not want to be tamed, and it is driving me insane.  It has visuals and audio and smell-o-vision 5000 from the year 3015, and it refuses to behave.  It wants the city to spring forth from my brain full-formed and whole, so that all anyone need do is walk in like a tourist and watch the world tick over, rather than me crawling along like an inchworm, pen in hand, trying desperately to keep up with the tidal wave of sensory input and failing every time.

The closest thing I can find is talking, because my mouth is faster than anything else and I can get enough fragments out fast enough to kind-of, sort-of keep up with the flow, and inflection is better than punctuation at getting the feel of the beat of the moment.  I can put the pounding of the runners’ boots on the rooftops into the staccato of the words, and I can slink-slide Rav’s hips into the grinding, rolling, lolling syllables of the dance.  In text it takes write and rewrite and rewrite to get that, but in voice it’s all about playing with it the first time, or rolling it around in your mouth until it tastes right.  So talking almost works, as long as the music that makes the movies in my head play is there.  The music makes it go, you see.  Without the music it’s an hours-long slog to make anything go.  The music is a shortcut drug to the liminal space where the city lives.

But what is a storyteller without an audience?  A homeless person yelling in the street, sans this year’s fashionable shopping cart.  And without an audience, even with the music, hearing the sound of my own voice trying to play the raconteur turns sour quickly, because what kind of crazy woman tells herself stories?  Imaginary listeners aren’t much better – imaginary friends are for children and the terminally, desperately, clinically lonely, or for those so unutterably vain as to imagine that there are thousands of people who are dying to hear their stories, if only they knew it.

And so I get stuck.  I trail off, or taper out, or just stop talking all together, wrapped up in the story inside my own head, afraid to ruin it by trying to give birth to it, afraid to realize that I am incapable, after all, of bringing it to completion in any real sense.  Writing is work that I have never really proven that I am any good at working at.  But I am getting better at being naked, and if I bare my fear, I force myself to face it.  So I make it public (heh) here, and record it, so that I can call myself to account for staring it in the face.

I will bring this birthing process to bay.  I will drag this wet, sticky, amorphous thing from my brain, and mold it into something beautiful, so that I can prove that writing is work that I am capable of working at.  Reader beware – no one is safe.  Especially not me.

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