Monday, September 9, 2013

I've Never Drummed Hard Enough

Today, I was celebrating my best friend's birthday. I've always considered him my best friend, even though I've never been entirely sure that he thinks of me in the same way. Anyway, I was drumming a pretty mediocre beat on a practice drum pad while we listened to some of our favorite songs, playing loudly over the TV speakers. This particular song that was playing was especially important to me, because it always makes me think of a certain person that I've cared about for a long time. Then my friend comes in, drunk, and tells me, "Brian, you don't drum hard enough". Naturally, I ask what he means by that, and he says, "Like, for this song, and for life in general".

I can't express to you how sad this makes me. Because he was right. I've never drummed hard enough.

I've always wanted to be a rockstar. I've dreamt about it every day. But I've never thought that I have the talent. Sometimes I blame my parents for that, because unlike all my friends, I never was enrolled in music lessons when I was younger. But then I think about it, and it isn't their fault. They never had the money to give that to me, and I was always introverted as a kid, so they couldn't even have known that that's what I wanted above all else. I never talked to anyone about what I wanted, let alone my parents. Nothing I loved was on the table. Everything I loved was out to sea. It's my fault. Maybe if I ever had the balls to just have a real conversation with anyone, I would be what I want to be today. Maybe if I wasn't so scared of failure, I would be happy.

But I'm not.

Instead, I'm now a spectator in my own life. I get to sit by and watch while other people live the lives I want to lead. They get to be the person I want to be. They know what they want, and they've taken it for themselves.

I'm a coward. I've never even been able to admit to myself, let alone to anyone else, what I want. To this day, I don't even know what it is that I want. All I can do is close my eyes, pull the trigger, and hope I don't hurt anyone that I care about.

"We're going to be together until one of us dies". Never have I heard a more beautiful, sincere statement, and never has anything depressed me more. To have that kind of certainty and passion about literally anything must be exhilarating, but I wouldn't know. The highlight of any day for me is when I manage to break the seal of apathy that restrains my life. I can't even express to you how good it feels for me to care about anything. Even being sad about something makes me happy in a way. But that's rare. Instead, I find myself drifting.

It's so good to feel.

Someday, I'm going to be a rockstar. Someday, I will be happy. I swear to God that one day I will have the balls to be what I want, to do what I feel. I'll tell everyone how I feel about everything, and I'll be at peace. I'll be the man I should be. I'll have direction. I'll know what I want. I'll know who I love, and God dammit, they'll love me too. I'll climb my way out of this ridiculous pit I've dug myself. Sad songs will no longer be the most relatable thing in the world to me.

I have spent so much of my life hiding my sadness, because I've always thought that I wasn't worthy of it. There will always be someone out there with more problems, with bigger problems. But I've come to realize that life isn't like that. Everything isn't some sort of competition. I'm entitled to my sadness, even if you don't think I deserve it, even if I don't. Feelings are feelings, and I feel them. Someday, I will learn to control them, I will learn to own them. And then I will be happy.

Never forget what it is to love. Never forget what it is to hate, to feel sad, to be resentful, to be annoyed, to be happy, to be lonely. And never stop caring. Because the day that you forget, the day that you stop caring, is the day that you stop living.

She's never been there for me. I have a glitch. I don't know who I am.

Always drum your hardest.


Eliot's last post on Classic Brian because, you know, like, fuck it, it's his 21st birthday.

Listen; it's my birthday, and I'm totally above this kind of shit. Because, hey, now I'm 21, and if you think about it, when this blog started, I was 17 years old.

What was I thinking at that point in time? I don't know; I have no idea. It's this same idea, this same ideal. Because growing up is such a fucking arduous task, I decided to document it. With the help of my friends. Because I wanted to give you multiple perspectives, because despite the fact that you never experienced multiple perspectives and never learned empathy, I trusted you. I trusted you to know more what our life was about. And so, hey, here you go, because why would I not give this to you, after, you know, we've been through so much.

This is me.

I've been alive 21 years. This realization, this legal martini and this under-appreciated shot of pumpkin schnapps, they're all I have left in growing up. I can't tell you how confusing it's been. But at the same time, I can't lie to you and say that I've had it easy or have been waiting for this to happen. It's just this thing, you know, growing up, that you have to experience for yourself.

I only say that because everything that I've experienced to this point has the conventional research to that point and I thought that she would be there for me.

... I don't even know who she is. Because, like, yeah, I'm dating Jenn,  and surely by now, you know that. But, hey, why don't you know that as who I am when I input text into this medium. It's a part of you. Blogging is scary. But don't act like it's not the best way of reaching yourself along with reaching your subject matter.

I have so many troubles. And God, I'm so scared. But I'm a late bloomer and a late guesser, so shit, I mean, who ever is going to take dreams away when everyone assumes they're already gone. Who? Fuck you, I'm ending my Classic Brian blogging with a question. Because I have done a great job of figuring out who I am. And, hey, gotcha!, that was why I made this blog up, so, ha!, ha. So, hey, what have you figured out of yourself? Because you have a glitch too. You have a mistake, too. So don't act like that will never occur again. Just, acknowledge it.

Be who you are.

Look, deep inside yourself.

And hopefully you find you.

Because otherwise,

you know,

you'll be...

a fucking worthless piece of shit.

....So I hope you found yourself.

But hey, I love you.


Don't feel discouraged.


You know.

You've got your own life to make completely invulnerable.

And stuff.

I love you,



-- Eliot (two dashes, for fun)

miss you.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Eliot's reaction to Arrested Development's fourth season

I'll try to keep this short so I don't have to write so much. I'll also try to avoid making any Arrested Development joke references in this post because that's cheeky.

I fell asleep during the 14th episode of the fourth season of Arrested Development. I wasn't sure whether to be disappointed in myself or disappointed in the show. It was a little of both.

The Funniest Show's fourth season had a distinctly different feel to it than its previous three seasons, which were a dream. It was sitcom television reinvented. To compliment it to a just extent is unnecessary at this point, which is ironic, yeah.

This fourth season was something different. It wasn't more Arrested Development. It was a new mold, another innovation. And it doesn't leave you the same way the original seasons left you. Here is a really fair argument against the show.

In summation, here were the gripes:

• It wasn't as funny as the first three seasons
• The episodes dragged on sometimes
• It got boring seeing the same scenes repeatedly with an extra line or so of information
• Its self-awareness was gratuitous and detracted from the story
• Celebrity cameos were overabundant and forced in some cases
• Netflix's style of releasing shows to the masses prevents united consumption

I agree with all those things. All those things passed through my mind while watching the 15 episodes.

But in the end, my heart sided with Arrested Development and its creators, Jace Lacob and The Daily Beast be damned. Seriously. They can go to hell.

Here's why you can box up your complaints and ship them up your own ass.

 • No one watched Arrested Development at the same time anyway.
Arrested Development was like a disease to which the masses were exposed and of whom very few were infected. They spread the disease directly to others and soon the entire country had the itis for AD. Sure, if they released episodes one at a time, it'd be cool to watch it as this giant family of infected Arrested Developers, but that's not what the show was about, nor was it what we missed about it. It was never a communal experience, and it has become one now, more or less, with everyone racing to various devices to see it within about a week or so. An hour (or half hour) per week doesn't really fill the hunger of TV fans. People always watched AD at their own pace. This keeps that up.

• The show was saturated with celebrity cameos out of respect.
Everyone wanted to be a part of this show because everyone loved it and wanted to pitch in. I thought it was adorable. Dozens of new funny people scraped out screen time, and I think it's great because it allowed the show a massive cast. It was a comedic inspiration, and everyone wanted to pay respects by playing a part. I think the real winners here were Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogen, who landed the parts of flashback-Lucille and flashback-George Sr., respectively, and did well with them (I liked Wiig better than Rogen, for what it's worth). I didn't necessarily like all the cameos. I didn't light up when I saw the boys from Workaholics on screen, but I was sure they were really honored to play roles in the show and it made me think about what this season meant to television comedy as a gesture, if nothing else. It was like a living funeral.

• The fourth wall has been broken on this show for a long time.
The reason they couldn't reel off a smooth fourth season is because their previous season was cut short awkwardly as they made subtle jabs at their own cancellation and general doom, and also was seven years ago. The time element is impossible to ignore, and with that, you have some gray area there that, if ignored, lowers the quality of your show. Had they just made the narrative, and ignored the gravity of their resurrection as having a tangible impact on their story, they'd be ignoring the most triumphant aspect of the return.

• The structure of the storytelling was a good thing.
Like it or not, this season had to go in circles because the premise of it is "What happened?" So they have a lot to explain, and it wouldn't be AD's style to lay it all out chronologically and run out of breath exposing the next event in the story repeatedly until we're done. That would be boring. Instead, the writers gave fans something to do, keeping with the same active watching crowd that praised the original works. Now viewers are trying to keep the whole timeline in their head, piecing together events and scenes as a means to enjoy what is a fairly arduous expository story. It took a lot of effort for the show to separate itself from the season three ending that all its fans had come to understand as the end of the show. And then to create a position for the finale (being the movie) to take off from was more effort. A lot of basic moves needed to be made, and they found a way to do it interestingly.

• It serves no one to limit the show in any way, timewise.
The episodes dragged on. They were longer. The older ones were shorter. Yes, the quick editing made for a wittier dialogue between show and viewer. But given the opportunity for more show, there's no reason to turn it down. I truly believe that as much as anything else, this show's return was about catharsis. Being able to watch the Bluths again, to see the characters be their hilarious selves was the real win. Fans had gone so long without seeing them do new things, and now, blessed with that opportunity, the writers took serious advantage, and I don't blame them at all. We now had more time to spend with them. No one was pining for shorter episodes. Perhaps quicker editing could've been utilized but that doesn't mean I'd rather cut out dialogue that helps me get to know or affirm what I know about these characters.

• At a certain point, the quality of this season didn't matter.
There were things about this season that were really hard to accept, watching strictly as someone who watched as many of the old episodes before the release of season 4 to immerse myself in AD. I found myself laughing less toward the end of the series, as things became gradually more clear in ways I was expecting, rather than the AD tradition of things becoming suddenly clear in ways I didn't expect and had only subconsciously considered. But while I wasn't laughing out loud, I was smiling. This goes back to the catharsis of having a fourth season. Arrested Development was always unique for being a plot-driven sitcom, and its narrative momentum was gutted by years of hiatus. But when the bell was rung for the new season to begin, every single person involved with the show's initial run came back. Not just the main characters, but a majority of the smaller characters as well. Short of J. Walter Weatherman and Wayne Jarvis, I didn't notice anyone missing that I wanted back. The important thing of this season was that it happened, and that it didn't compromise the spirit of the show. It was pretty much a lock that its spirit wouldn't be compromised because everyone came back to put it back together. I don't think anyone expected to go in and make Arrested Development's best season yet, but to right the wrong of the show's cancellation. The show was back. It was itself, only a little aged.

So yes, in regards to season 4 of Arrested Development, there were some things that I wish were not. The majority of them had to do with circumstance. Those that didn't were understandable choices. At this point, we — the beggar crowd that blamed the rest of the country for canning our baby — cannot complain. If there is a loss suffered at the release of this show's fourth season, it is lost in the time elapsed since the last new episode, and nothing more. We got what we wanted, which is more than we expected, and it couldn't have been done better.

--Eliot Sill

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Some Russian stranger

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, no one has ever recommended I read you. None of my friends my age, to my knowledge, have ever read you. I, in a certain sense, could be considered never to have read you. All the while, I really enjoyed reading The Idiot. Thank you for writing it.

I don't know anything of 19th century Russia. What I do know of it, which is nothing, I know from reading The Idiot. I don't know the type of aristocracy that exists there, I've only read about it. I've read an account of it, rather. I do not know much of anything about what I read, but I read it.

Jeff Kirshman (sports editor Jeff) quoted someone in the final sports desk meeting before last summer, that as an aspiring writer, you should read stuff that intimidates you. OK so he paraphrased. But Dostoyevsky, you son of a bitch, you are intimidating.

The only reason I knew who Fyodor Dostoyevsky was is I remember my dad read a book by him several years back, and so enjoyed his name, Doh stoi yeff ski, that he often said it in a certain gruff, low voice. And that he would, when inquiring about my English classes in high school, ask if I read any Doh stoi yeff ski. He would say it so that the Doh was a regular quarter note, the stoi slurred into the yeff, which was staccato, as was the ski. If you don't know exactly how he said it by this point, I'm sorry for wasting so much of both of our time.

Anyway, my impression of this guy was simple: gruff, Russian (Grussian). After reading For Whom the Bell Tolls, I wondered if Dostoyevsky was like a Russian Hemingway. I wanted to read something by the guy who had inevitiably earned the favor of my father. So while perusing my mom's vintage boutique, Birdsong, located in Elkhart, Ill., right off I-55, where you can fulfill all your vintage clothing/book/miscellaneous needs, and my mom might have Mac(s) with her, and you could pet him, and tell him hi for me, ... I saw an old copy of The Idiot. The cover was black and white, featuring a fair haired and bearded young man, whose eyes carried both frightened vulnerability and determination. This was the Idiot, I supposed. I decided to grab it, and that I would read it at some point or another, and see what this Russian guy was about. I remember liking the work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, so why not Fyodor here?

I met the Idiot, and Fyodor, and a lot of semicolons. The Idiot, Prince Myshkin, which is a great name that I one day would absolutely consider endowing to a cat or dog, is more than a dim-witted royal junkpiece. He's epileptic. That's what "idiocy" is. The disease translates fairly well to the modern slang colloquialism. The Prince is an utter dupe, he takes everything at face value and doesn't learn from being duped in the past. He is, at first acquaintance, the most wholesome person one could ever meet, and never shows any depth of character beyond that. He is honest for better and worse, and has an inherent trust, or rather, love, of everyone he meets.

It's hard to know what you want for Prince Myshkin, should his climax be to climb out from under his illness, to break through and be 'cured'? (The novel used single quotes for every quote, and double quotes for quotes within quotes.) Or should he fall in love with the beautiful Nastasya Fillipovna, who is also crazy? Or should he settle for Aglaya Yepanchin, who is the more decent looking, slightly crazy but more home-y type who loves him for his simplicity. My personal hope was for Vera Lebedev, the landlord's lowly daughter, but it wasn't to be.

Should he even have a love interest? After all, he's mentally ill. Perhaps if he helps everyone else find their dream match, I'll be satisfied as a reader. Also, reading from his perspective becomes grating and difficult when someone is pulling his leg. As a character, he's sympathetic, frustrating and ultimately pitiful.

If anything, Dostoyevsky's writing struck me as brave. Whenever I pick up a 'classic' novel, I fear that it will have a cliche ending, excusable via grandfather clause of it setting the bar for said cliche, but nevertheless disappointing. This novel was unique, and I found it bold to write a story with a mentally ill person as the main character. Because of this, you can never doubt that Dostoyevsky knew exactly what he was looking to do with the story, otherwise he would never have dared to tell it in such a way. If I lived in 19th century Russia, I think I would find it a fascinating commentary on my civilization. As it is, it is a fascinating social commentary given the time and place. The narrative is intricate, but the story was long, at about 660 pages.

Dostoyevsky used semicolons and colons seemingly as often as commas and periods, pretty well thwarting my Ernest Hemingway comparison. But I'd say he tackled the subject he aimed for with the exact type of fortitude and informed confidence that made Hemingway great. And there were a couple passages where the novel gets on a roll and makes you laugh or leaves you agape, similar to how Hemingway throws himself into drunken tirades or explodes his own powder kegs at a climax. It was a translated work, so any superior manipulation of the language itself was lost, which is most unfortunate.

Fyodor. No one recommended you to me. You were dead for a century before I was born. You wrote in the other hemisphere, about the other hemisphere, for the other hemisphere. You didn't even write these words; some bloke named David Magarshack translated them. But hey, I read your story about Prince Myshkin. And I rather liked it. Thank you.

--Eliot Sill

Friday, April 26, 2013

The New Orleans trip, part I

By Eliot Sill

John Steinbeck and I were leaving Texas together. He ended up getting out a couple hours before I finally did, but we were there together, and instead of consuming he and Charley's travels, I was rivaling them. Instead of a dog, a fully equipped truck and a fantastic poetic disposition, I had Nick, Brian, Conor and Nina Horne — a friend of Conor's from Oklahoma University — for companions.

I suppose the most important aspect of my vacation is that I did it. Until a week before, I was fairly committed to the idea of using Spring Break as a sabbatical to catch up on classes and read some books in the solitude of my efficiency apartment, in a city that everyone I knew would be vacating for a week. It would be nice. But I was tired of turning down my friends' expeditions for the sake of giving myself time that I could only hope would be put toward bettering my journalistic aspects. I could only hope to use that time. I would put myself in the arena and wait for the game to be played around me. I needed to leave the arena. The ease with which I did so was liberating. I simply decided to go. A week later, I had gone.

The trip began without ceremony. I left my dog Mac(s) and my mom behind, riding with Nick and Brian out of Springfield (we were to meet Conor in Norman, Okla., and Nina in Dallas). I fell asleep pretty soon after we got on the highway, have vague sleepy memories of the difficulty experienced navigating St. Louis, then woke up in earnest somewhere in Missouri. How nice.

The weather for the first leg of our trip, a 10-hour dive down to Norman, was utter shit. Gray skies made for ease of sight, but eventually those skies opened up and spit and urinated on our silver Taurus for approximately 900 percent of the trip. My driver's license was suspended, so I was useless beyond added conversation and enthusiasm for radio plays of Taylor Swift's “Trouble,” which I had picked up on pretty quickly as what would be a hallmark of the trip. Other hits were Justin Timberlake's “Suit and Tie” and R.E.M.'s “Losing My Religion.” What a crew.

After Nick spent a few hours trying to outrun the rain — which looked on the radar like a Google Maps route line for our progress thus far — we pulled into a Steak N Shake for a late lunch in hopes that the rain would get over itself. I felt the familiar judgment one feels whenever walking into his local Steak N Shake chain; these places are typically filled with locals who have a good chance of knowing anyone who would walk in. I ordered cheese fries and was greeted with phony ass nacho cheese drizzled over my fries. Oh, Missouri. Pretty soon after Brian took over the driving duties, the rain became inconsequential.

Robert once called Missouri “the brooding artist of the Midwest,” speaking about its geography. I don't know if they were his words, but if they were, he can take satisfaction in knowing that the phrase has stuck with me and is warmed in my memory every time I travel through Missouri. Missouri has great hilly rifts within itself that paint the highway scenery in such a way that makes even the 70 mph speed limits not enough to counteract its beauty. Steinbeck wrote of his travels in the time when such interstate highways were just being built, and he saw them as a potential demise of the aesthetic appeal of travel. I subscribe to this belief, if for no other reason than that I've never been wowed by high speed countryside.

The 70 mph speeds, when combined with the gray rainy weather barf, were enough to make Missouri as breathtaking as a pile of wet toilet paper. At one point, Missouri open fired on us with a barrage of hail that changed the 70 mph speeds to 0 mph ones. Nick, driving, laughed in terror as Brian and I sat more upright in our seats and used our hands to hold on to things. Other than that minute-long sample of hell, the weather was drab and boring. Brian, Nick and I were left to commenting on Missouri's alter ego, Missouruh, which is how we referred to Missouri's trashy parts. Brian went so far as to say that Missouri's landscape is just like Illinois' but with hills, which I agreed with in the same vein that I think the ocean shares Illinois' geography, only it has water.

Eventually Brian took us into Oklahoma, which geographically is an impressionable friend of Texas and Missouri that holds no loyalties to either state. It is plains upon plains with minor variations here and there, but nothing particularly characterizable. It is also a big state, and hides Norman from Illinois like the human body hides its liver. We traveled through Oklahoma for exhausting lengths of time.
Our correspondence with Conor to this point had been very little. We were going to spend the night with Conor in Norman before shipping out for New Orleans the next day. Eventually we made it to Oklahoma City, where I saw that one building TNT always shows during city cut-away shots before and after commercials of Thunder games. OKC phased seamlessly into Norman, and suddenly Conor was within shouting distance.

Conor was a friend with whom I had become quite distant over the past couple years, mainly because I kept turning down offers such as these for extended stays with him. Staying in Champaign had produced exceedingly moderate results, but this decision produced Conor O'Brien, right in front of me, when I otherwise simply would not be in contact with him. At Conor's, we had beers like men while catching up and swapping stories and engaging in a random dance-off to please the funk emanating from his iHome. The catching up felt sweet and genuine and more or less I was with my boys again for the first time since Solstice 2011. A game of Mario Party 3 stopped short, thank God, and I went and slept.

I had read John Steinbeck's “Travels With Charley” at a stone's pace over the semester, and was determined to finish it on this trip because the stack of books I was “determined to finish” before the end of the semester was mounting, having been defeated by course readings yet again. Steinbeck was an appropriate romanticizer. He would take a brief conversation had by some local in a stranger, with he in all his writer's pretense and massive, overstocked truck dubbed “Rocinante” — he may as well have been a blog riding an elephant, and characterize an entire state or region with care and poignancy. Many digressions of his tackled seemingly outdated subjects with an uncanny timelessness that made me lower the book in incredulity. Maybe it was his writings, and how he tied these tales of wisdom to the simple fact that he got the hell out and went somewhere, that persuaded me to enlist in this vacation.

I read a lot of “Travels With Charley” before the trip, and this made me want to take Mac(s) with us, though I knew how implausible that was. But the half of the book I read on the road made me glad Mac(s) had stayed back.

That and the fact that we picked up a fifth person just a few hours after leaving Norman and our car became stuffed. Nina Horne, an Ultimate teammate of Conor's from Oklahoma, whose parents live in New Orleans, was someone who had let me sleep in her bed before I ever met her. Maggie Tyson turned out to be one of these people as well, but we'll get to her later. Nina was someone whom I'd wanted to meet since Conor began telling me stories involving her two-plus years ago. Plus she was from New Orleans, so how awesome could she not be? Nina's dad, Kevin Horne, or Mr. Kevin, as Conor called him, had shelled out drinks like peanuts last time Conor, Nick and Brian had visited. He had quite a reputation, and his daughter was friendly, polite enough not to chastise us for singing along everytime “Trouble” came on the radio, which was very frequently. We had to alternate the GPS with the iTrip because the Taurus only had one cigarette lighter plugin. The iTrip was off in city areas, and the competition between “Trouble” and “Suit and Tie” was in full swing. As of this writing, it is still ongoing.*

It was during this leg of the trip, after picking up Nina from Dallas, where I read to the end of “Travels With Charley.” The sun had joined us for the drive from Norman to New Orleans, thankfully enough, making reading a more pleasant experience. I am not a skilled reader. I still pass through stretches of text while thinking about my personal life without remembering to reread the passage. I hate to think of how many intricacies I passed over during moments of sleepiness and bright sun. I hate to think this because I don't like rereading books. I like it in theory, but I am not a skilled reader, and thus read quite slowly. To reread one book is to unread another, and I need not unread any books, few as my kill total stands. I always try and force more interaction between myself and the outside world than is required, because ultimately it is this interaction that keeps one from passing through the world unnoticed. However, I know full well that I still do a lousy job of this. In Steinbeck's time it was more commonplace to talk to strangers, now everyone's just afraid you're here to rape their loved ones, and with understandable reason, given the commonality of such tales of late.

I came to a part in “Travels With Charley” where Steinbeck drove through Texas, which was doubly cathartic when read while traveling through Texas. A memorable passage was of a grand dinner he and his wife (who had visited him during this phase of his traveling) had with some wealthy Texans. He talked of the special preparation with which the meal was prepared. He ended by stating he refused to believe people in Texas ate like that every day. This realization is one that everyone should inherently know about hospitality, but doesn't think to consider specifically. In Steinbeck's journey, he left Texas for New Orleans, which in reading created a giddy excitement in me. I was also heading to New Orleans via Texas. Steinbeck was going to see the Cheerleaders, New Orleans mothers who protested integration of schools. I was going to glorify the unique cultural blend harbored by the city. There we differed, and it was ironic. Steinbeck's writing lost passion after New Orleans. He tired of traveling and this was reflected in his writing. It made me feel good to know that the Steinbecks of the world get tired of projects they enter with ample excitement and are carrying out successfully. For this reason, the book ended quickly after Steinbeck's trip to New Orleans, and I partly wished it would have ended there, but I was thrilled with the parallel nonetheless. Of course, I had been riding the superhighways that defeated the beauty of travel, and was neither writing my experience down as it occurred nor washing my clothes in Brian's trunk.

Nina soon ran into a traffic jam. We chided her for “driving so slow” and she took it well in stride, which while not surprising was pleasant and went to make it easier to talk to her. I wanted to get a start on my next literary target, Dostoyevsky's “The Idiot,” which was, uhh, placed in the trunk for this journey. Our traffic jam slowed to a dead stop, however, and Nina agreed to pop the trunk while I ran out into the middle of I-20 to retrieve it. “The Idiot” scared the hell out of me. Tiny text, imperceptibly thin pages, translated work, 1800s writing, Russian setting I knew nothing about. This was not the timeless Steinbeck writing an acute depiction of a country I already knew in a neat 250 pages. This was Dostoyevsky, whatever the hell that meant. I read that day until it got dark on the road, reading for pages and trying to invest myself in a story I knew a certified nothing about.

We got to New Orleans after midnight.

The city — though we were merely on the outskirts and away from “the city” in the sense one would imagine it — greeted me with a hug of warmth, the kind which I had not felt in months, that of a natural, night warmth. Like an invitation to see someone you thought was angry with you, it grabbed me by the shoulders and led me out of the car. Here I met Kevin Horne.

Nina's dad, Kevin Horne, was here for the same reasons I was. The difference was that he had gotten to stay here and raise a family, and I likely will never get that chance. It only took about halfway into our handshake for me to envy him. His salt-and-pepper moustache was not so flamboyant as to be handlebarred, but was an upward twist away from that level, and nevertheless a prominent feature of his. He sported horn-rimmed spectacles that reminded me of something my mom would find at a thrift store and subsequently try to pass off as vintage-fashionable. His gut toed the preferred side of the line between happily married and fat. He was wearing shorts and sandals, but the rest of this paragraph should have given that away to you already.

Out of the corner of my eye, from the low-lit front yard, palm trees tugged at my attention from the corner of my eyes, as if to say “Hey, see us? We're palm trees. And down here, we're freaking walkway foliage.” I took their arrogant jabs in good stride, knowing that I'd have palm trees in my front yard if I lived in New Orleans as well, and they'd be instructed to convey the same message to any out-of-towners.

New Orleans, for its cultural sublimity, is my version of a dead-sexy Hollywood actress that I can't get out of my head, that I don't admit to my friends just how much I love her based on only surface knowledge. She is the one whom I must have, be she out of my league or not.

We parted with Nina and went over to the Tysons to sleep. We parked our car in front of their yard and nervously walked our way around the house to the back door, where we were greeted by a bug-eyed black and white miniature boxer pug pup with a red, rubber-stubbled ring in his mouth. It was as if we were late to an appointment to play. No humans found us as we snuck up quietly to the bedrooms the Tyson family had sacrificed and set up for us. We quickly, quietly divided rooms, before finding one of Maggie's two sisters — whose name may have been Sarah but I can hardly remember and she shouldn't credit me for thoughtfulness if I'm correct — who gave us the Wi-Fi password so we could get on with our lives after hours spent away from the Internet.

Classic and I shared a room, and the puppy came up to play with us, feeling stood up. We were nervous about making noise and thus were poor playmates. We sent him out of the room eventually, and I turned a light on, read a chapter of Dostoyevsky, and went to sleep.

part II will come out eventually; just wait, knuckleheads.

*- It is no longer ongoing. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Someone should be shot in the face for this

Whoa, that is some delicious looking juice. As we all know, red and green are complementary colors, so this bottle pops. It's a slim bottle, weighing in at a petit 10 ounces. Great, now I don't even have to count calories. But can I draw attention to that red ass grapefruit again? I mean look at that thing! It looks like and uncooked steak or something, or an ocean with the sun setting inside of it. It's goddamn gorgeous, which could not be a more perfect adjective, because I want to gorge that grapefruit or anything associated with it, namely this bottle of grapefruit juice.

Right now, you probably feel like you're watching the hopeful beginnings of a horror movie. We're all going to camp! Where we'll tell ghost stories, eat s'mores, drink merrily without getting caught by the police, and yay! But the title of this post suggests that yay is code for a serious violation. I'm getting there. It is.

The juice itself tastes slightly underwhelming. There's the initial "Mmm!" factor, where you're hit in the mouth with sweetness and red flavory redness. Those are the 33g's of sugar at work on your tongue. It's so sweet, so regularly sweet, so pasteurizedly, processedly sweet. It's not too sweet, but something is fishy. Let's go back to the bottle.

100% juice! Praise Jesus, 100 percent of what's in this bottle is honest to goodness bone raising juice. If you took away all the juice from this bottle, nothing would be in your hand. Even the bottle is made of juice! Plasticized gourmet labely juice. Man, what a great tasting thing. Good thing I paid $1.55 plus tax for this nectar of steak-ocean grapefruit paradise. And BAM! If you don't want 100 percent juice, there's no way you don't want 100 percent Vitamin C. So we'll at least give you a bottle that's only 10 fluid ounces that carries 100 percent of your daily value of Vitamin C. That's 10 percent per ounce. Holy mackerel. By the time I've taken a gulp of this baby I'm already throwing colds off my shoulders. Both shoulders! Left and right. So this grapefruit elixir, that tastes so plainly sweet. How did they do it?

Wait, I thought that was supposed to just say, like, "juice"?

Now the horror begins.

First ingredient: filtered water. THANK GOD THEY FILTERED IT, BUT, I'M PRETTY SURE NEITHER FILTERS NOR WATER ARE JUICE. .......... Wow. Ok. I guess most things have water in them. That doesn't mean they're lying to me, I guess it has concentrated juice or someth—WHAT THE FUCK WHY DOES THAT SAY WHITE GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATE?

Let's examine the label again.

I'm not crazy, am I? That says RUBY RED GRAPEFRUIT! They even specified the shade and color! There is no way white grapes are on that label? Maybe they're really small and hard to see. MAYBE BUT I DON'T SEE THEM. So it's grape and grapefruit. That's why the sweet is so civilized. There's no space in "GRAPEFRUIT" either, I checked. Still there's a bunch of other st—WHY THE SHIT, THE NEXT INGREDIENT IS APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE! LOOK!

So this 100% RUBY RED GRAPEFRUIT JUICE's first three ingredients, the three most prominent ones, have absolutely nothing to do with rubies, red grapefruits, and aren't 100 percent juice. Right now we're at 66.67 percent juice. Jesus. The next ingredient is ruby red grapefruit juice concentrate, as if it's any consolation. It's like when you ask for 100 dollars for your birthday and you get a suitcase, a book about lawns, a 12-pack of Dasani water and 15 dollars. You're like great. I was going to use 100 dollars to feed my homeless friend, but now I'll have to settle for a meal for two from Subway, even though we both hate Subway.

Tropicana, Mr. Tropicana, if you're out there. You sick-witted filthbag, what makes you think white grape and apple juice make a combination suitable to lead the ruby red grapefruit juice bottle into the American marketplace. IF LEBRON IS SCORING THE MOST POINTS IT'S CLEARLY NOT D-WADE'S TEAM, RIGHT? Well in this case we're claiming the team is Mario Chalmers'. It isn't. I'm drinking a lie, living a lie. And what the hell is the word "Tropicana" anyway? It's some dumb word association between Americans knowing that fruit is made in tropic climates and "cana" is a Latin suffix. What a genius combination. If this is the way America views grapefruit juice, America should be deported. It's a travesty. It's a transvestite.

I bought this bottle of 10 ounces — which is really not a satisfying amount of liquid — to taste the acidic quenching sweetness I get when I fang into a plump pink grapefruit. Grapefruits, the best fruit by the way, are made up of crystal shards containing a sweet stinging citric acid packed nectar. And this tasted like grape juice with apple juice and grapefruit flavoring poured in. It's the artificial flavor made authentically, and it defeats the purpose of selling grapefruit juice. I'm hurt by this lie, and I don't know why it's been deemed acceptable to market such a deceptive product.

Oh yeah, it says 3 Juice blend on the front of the label in the bottom right corner. Haha. Joke's on me. You got me Tropicana. For the last time.

Shout out to Espresso Royale for carrying this falsehood in its Caffe Authenticana atmosphere; it fits right in.

--Eliot Sill

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I'll write for whatever fucking blog I want

~ by robert langellier ~

Looks like you dickbags are at unofficial right now.

I can tell because:

nice one, Mada
In France we don't have holidays. Mardi Gras? Nah. St. Patrick's Day? Do they have Irish wine? Nah, okay nah.

I'm not jealous. Unofficial last year was one of the worst experiences I've ever been technically a part of. I trust it's going equally badly for all you suckers. I don't need to be jealous. No, I'm much happier here. It's much quieter, and I can work, and Kristian got me all this wine before he left for EuroTour 2013.

While you guys are busy being wasted little socialites, I'm happily holing up. My roommates all left for vacation, and I've been avoiding all possible contact with these visiting friends from Brussels. You're here for the whole weekend? Yeah, sure, definitely we'll find time to meet up and hang out. Hahahahah. People are drags, and if they're not properly pissed off or completely calm then they're not particularly inspiring. They're not as complicated as these mindbending games of solitaire and they don't blow soft currents of wind on your palms as you shuffle and fold them into each other.

I read something on the internet today that if you're ever feeling down about yourself, imagine that someone somewhere has masturbated to the thought of you. Then I thought, taking into account the few people for whom that is not the case, the sum of sad negativity there still far outweighs the sum comfort taken by the masturbatees. I hope I'm on the right side. Please confirm in the comments.

There are shreds of cardboard all over my room.

Man I'm not even drunk, I'm just shitty.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Conor - Classic Brian.

Y'all Motherfuckers ain't never saw this coming

I find it as funny as you do that I'm writing a Classic Brian, other ex-Classic Brian writers who are (hopefully) reading this. I'm not exactly sure why I'm writing this, and that's what I'm going to start the post with. I guess that's the whole thesis of this post. Why am I writing this, and what am I writing about.

So let's establish some facts. I'm writing a Classic Brian. That's an event. Didn't use to be an event. The idea was that I would write one of these a week. This served a couple purposes. It gave me either A) an outlet for a joke or some artistic pursuit within the medium of essay writing, B) an outlet for some emotion I was feeling or C) both A and B. Also key to Classic Brian was the audience. When I wrote a Classic Brian I could safely assume at least 2 or 3 of the other Classic Brian and a handful of other regulars would read it, mostly from Springfield. It was a way for me to remind them, hey! I'm not with you guys anymore, I'm elsewhere, but I'm still doing stuff. I'm an evolving version of the person you spent a lot of time with. This is what I'm upto, or what I'm thinking about, or something. It helped maintain a lot of friendships I still depend on. It's funny to me how theoretically easy it is to maintain communications with people, while simultaneously being so hard. Classic Brian was a creative way for a lot of us to fight that problem. It was a creative outlet, and also a weekly e-mail to several people we didn't want to grow too far away from saying "heywhaddup I exist." It also bound our new worlds together in a way. Some of my Oklahoman friends would occasionally read my Classic Brian posts and talk to me about them. It allowed them to see how I communicated with the people I was closest withm, and it was a nice way for me to introduce them to and contextualize the people I considered important in my life back home. I know it worked that way for some of you other writers, because just a few months I was at a party in Columbia, MO and one of Robert's friends said he recognized me because I wrote for Classic Brian.

I was like, "fuck yeah I wrote for Classic Brian."

That said, I'm not too terribly sad Classic Brian's dead. * It's dead because I/we didn't need it anymore. ** Some friendships it sustained faded anyway, because yeah, some friendships are going to fade a little bit, and the other friendships proved strong enough to not need the weekly wake up call. I was busy, too. Friday's are a shitty day to have to write a blog post. What's that you say I could have devoted some time earlier in the week to writing my post so I wouldn't have to do it Friday I don't know if you've ever met me but that's not something I'm going to do, guys.

The part that I was thinking about tonight though, and the real reason I'm writing this is because I used to use Classic Brian to sort out the things in my life I was conflicted about. I no longer need that, most of the time. I sortof need that tonight, or at the very least, I was for some reason inspired to sort out my thoughts in public via a blog post again, and I haven't felt that way in a while. Which is a good thing, mostly, I think.*** I, like everyone else, have changed in the past few years. Like, I wish we would've had the foresight to take a picture of Nick every month since our sophomore year of high school, but alas, we didn't. One change I definitely know I've gone through: I work through my problems in a more internal, withdrawn fashion these days. If I'm upset, I'm quieter. I'm mulling over the things that are upsetting me, I'm turning them over in my mind. I'm not writing a blog post about my feelings, with the extremely ironic exception of this blog post. More on that later. I don't really have a choice in this change, it's been a natural reaction to my surroundings, but I feel okay about it. I'm frankly a little embarrassed by some of the more emotional things I posted in the past, and I'm glad I don't normally require such a public outlet for things anymore. It's not an entirely healthy change, though. If the problems involve other people this internalization can hurt things. If you don't communicate problems with the people involved with these problems they often get worse. I recognize that.

So what's upsetting me now? A tiny, million, irrelevant things that don't really matter but add up to a still small but upsetting whole. First, let me establish that I am happy. This school year has been my best year here in Norman. I've made new friends and the friendships I already had have almost uniformly improved. For the first time since I came here I feel like I can really confide and communicate with a small handful of people, and that's awesome, and also probably a factor in Classic Brian's slow death. Things are great, blah blah blah

I'mma only articulate one of the tiny problems that's bothering me, because I feel like it does a good job of touching on most of the big things and because fuck this post is long enough as is and typing is annoying and hard when one of your fingers is broken. The problem is: my finger is broken!

hahaha see?! See?!?**** That was an awesome transition there, guys, and you should re-read it again so you can really appreciate it, although I know it's going to be impossible to ever recreate the visceral reaction you had when you experienced it for the first time. Like Fight Club.

Anyway, yeah, my right ring finger is broken. In early January I broke my left big toe and so I couldn't play ultimate for like a month or so, and then the day before I return to practicing with the team regularly I went to a pick up game of ultimate and got my finger broken by my friend Holden. Veeeery frustrating. When I the toe broke I was like hahaha okay. Didn't find the finger too funny. I can't really write, I can't play piano with my right hand, and I continue to be off the ultimate field. Most of these problems are somewhat easily dealt, but man are they frustrating. I'm very aware that things could be much worse, I'm very aware that lots of other people deal with much much worse conditions, and in general I've been dealing with it, but tonight it sortof got to me.*****

It got to me because our ultimate team, the Apes of Wrath, went to a tournament this weekend and they just came back, victorious and full of team spirit. I decided after breaking my finger that I would be done with ultimate for the semester. I had already been out of practice for a month, and this new injury takes me out for another 2 months, give or take, so what's the point? I'll focus on academics, I'll focus on redliners, I'll focus on having a good time.

Thinking about it again tonight, I don't know if I'll stick with that. I miss ultimate. I miss feeling like I'm getting better at something that doesn't come naturally to me. I miss being a part of a team, specifically this team. These are fun, great guys, and being their teammate has been one of the defining experiences of my college career, easy. I don't get any of that this semester, because of pure dumb luck. There's nothing I can do about my broken finger. I've tried running out into the rain and cursing the heavens as the water beats down on my powerless figure, but nothing's working. If I don't go back I'll never play OU ultimate with a lot of people ever again. Nolan, who's always helped me out when I'm doubting myself. Kit, who was my partner in the Beer Olympics last month. Our team name was the Spoony Bards. Falkor, who's Falkor. These are just 3 names, there are more. Also, if I don't go back at the end of the semester I will definitely be a worse ultimate player for it, come next year. Over the past 2 and a half years I've worked so god damn hard to get in better shape and play at least somewhat decent ultimate. It's really frustrating to see that come undone.

But there's just not enough time in the day to justify going back. The other aspects of my life are improving because ultimate's not in the equation. I'm caught up with most of my classes, Redliners is definitely more organized than last semester when I was doing both things, my life has breathing room, and I like it. I don't want to give that up. I don't know which will make me more happy, and that's really bothering to me.


So if those 4 hyphens didn't make this clear, that's the end of the angsty confessional part here. It's 3:30 in the morning and I have shit to do tomorrow.

I wanna finish by talking a little more about Classic Brian, and why I came back. Like I said, it's rare that I feel like expressing my feelings this way these days, and good riddance, RIGHT, but tonight I did. I'm not sure why I did, but I did, and I'm glad Classic Brian is still here so I can do this on the offchance that I want to. I'm glad Classic Brian wasn't deleted from the internet after months of disuse (interesting reading on websites that still exist from decades ago, on that topic. Credit goes to my brother Sean for this find).

I honestly hope I don't have to depend on Classic Brian for a while, but once in a while isn't bad.****** It was fun writing this, and I feel better. Look! It's like I'm a teenager all over again. I hope it was fun to read, too. It's been too long/maybe just long enough.

*how I will finish my eulogy at Brian Malone's funeral 

**can't decide if this sentence should be included in that eulogy

***let it be known that at this point my computer died and I came back to finish the post instead of not coming back to finish the post! Huzzah! You're welcome!

**** SEE????!?!?!??!

*****Two things real quick: 1) on the subject of other people having it worse, the day after I broke the finger I went to the gym and was thinking about how tough and cool I was for still going to the gym the day after I broke a finger, and then I walked past a dude with one leg working out and I was like "okay, I should shut up." 2) I felt like I would be failing my readers if I didn't use the word sortof in this post.

******also true when it comes to Brian Malone, again. Maybe I got carried away with these footnotes.

Can I talk real quick about how it's bullshit that I only get 200 characters for all of my labels combined? That's bullshit, it's like the hardest tweet of all time. There are so many good fucking labels I wanted to use but couldn't. I'm done here that's it no more Classic Brian I'm burning this website to the ground

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Nick - Graffiti

I made this for a class and I thought you guys might like it.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Light You Can’t Escape

robert langellier

Marc ordered one more drink. Saw the fluorescent light shower on the back of the server’s neck as she bent it to watch the glass fill. She was bone thin, with her skin stretched tight around her elbows, knees and hips and all the other corners of her body. Marc stared at the arching vertebrae bulging from the back of her neck, reptilian, rippling with each little movement of the nape.
            Above the server on the wall were the colored lights of beer companies, liquor companies, advertising themselves. Behind that, in the background, were the darkened windows of the brasserie looking out into the black city street, to which Marc’s eyes were drawn. He felt suddenly hot under so much light and in the face of the dark windows. The feeling made him hyperaware of his situation, of his location at the brasserie and the hour and his thoughts.
He decided to leave. Got up, left before the drink arrived. Swung his coat up from its spot on the shelf between two booths by the entrance and threw it on, swung his scarf over his neck on his way out and tried to loop it, but the loop stuck. He’d tied it wrong. Tried it again, slung the scarf, threw the end over and looped one side, and the second loop didn’t stick. This, all outside the brasserie on the sidewalk, snow falling from above. In a minute it would stop. Marc knew this — the snow never fell consistently here.
He started, and for some minutes he wandered down Boulevard Saint-Germain, looking for a local tabac. It was 9:30. The snow fell at dizzying speeds and degrees, sticking only to the tops of the cars and the heads of pedestrians. The Parisian streets at night were cold, and very dark and very bright at the same time. Lights from storefronts blazed, always in motion at the speed that Marc paced down the busy street, cut off for moments by the shadowed bodies of passers-by that moved alongside him. If one light were shut by a body to Marc’s right, 20 more from grocers and brasseries and cafés would still glare from every direction. It was a world of light, and not a damn tabac in view.
Marc took an alley to the left. Slipped along the pavement to the next street. Whatever street. Rue de neige. Rue de lumière. And there, finally, a tabac. Marc walked up to enter. Through the window he could see the young homme, bending down inches from him behind glass, stacking up chairs. Locked. Sunday, of course. The sound of the metal bolt pitching against its frame caused the young homme to look up, catch the eyes of the good-looking man on the outside. The young homme for a second was stricken by fear, which quickly melted into an apologetic shrug and a return to the chairs. They were to be stacked, and he was to go home. 9:30.
In a sudden burst of drunken rage, Marc slammed his open fist into the glass door. Immediately, with the force of impact, a rush of pain exploded along the length of his hand, and up the ulna to the elbow, where it stopped. Marc recognized that it stopped. The forearm, the hand, were not him, so he didn’t feel it. The young homme, and his father at the bar who owned the tabac, looked up again and did not move. Looked at the clean, good-looking creature at the window, could do nothing but look at his eyes. And with that, Marc struck again, breaking his wrist upon the thick glass of the door of the tabac. The resulting minute crack in the window was imperceptible to anyone but Marc. A couple pedestrians stopped hesitantly on the sidewalk at the noise of the rage, but continued on for fear of the rage. The two men in the tabac remained still, the young homme still holding onto a small chair. Marc held the eyes of the young homme, ready to kill the bastard. To the two men inside, the lights of the Monoprix and the streetlights behind Marc lit up his edges on all sides and made him a terrible beast. Still the young homme did not move — the passers-by straggled on.
Marc’s hand was shooting bolts of heat down his arm. But it did not go past his elbow. He lifted his hand again, clenching his fist, and something in his being slowed his movement at the last second, his third blow weakened by the overrides of his brain, and when his wrist did come in contact with the chipped glass, he broke. Roared with pain, turned around violently and threw his free left arm out at the people five feet from him on the sidewalk, who then began to walk faster than before. The injured man, he burst into the busy street, letting out a long and howling cry, and for a moment everyone paid attention. For ten seconds he was the fear of Saint-Germain. But the noise quickly dissipated and the lights glowed over it anyway, so Marc turned again to the young homme, who by now had escaped to the tabac’s back room with his father. He grinned at the empty room, tipped his hat in a polite and sinister way and continued down the rue for the next métro entrance.
The métro at night is much lonelier than it should be. It’s by day a place of commute and connection, but at night it’s a place to hide from the colored lights. In the métro the lights are pure white, very artificial and bright, no jinks to them but very pure and serious luminescence. Not like the supermarkets and jewelers and pharmacies and cafés that wanted your eyes for specific greeds. Just light to show things and to drag them sullenly out of darkness. One can see how it can be a lonely experience.
Marc stood at the edge of the platform and looked left. No train. He looked right. No train. He looked at the other three people on the platform. Not one of them moved. Not one of them looked at him. The lights of the métro continued buzzing into everything in the underground room, blistering bright. Forced Marc into clarity. He didn’t want it — he was not drunk by accident — but it was métro light and the clean straight plainness of métro light is so oppressive and so chemically reactive to alcohol and quiet that Marc, in a way he had never known in the métro, was forced to see everything exactly as it was. Full of light.
At that moment, movement caught the periphery of his eye. A faint shift in matter to his left, to the stairwell. Marc turned his head, focused. Just in time to see a rat scurry along the bottom step and disappear into the recesses of the métro’s long reaching tunnels. It was no telling to Marc when the rat would ever be in light again. But it had been there in the light, and while none of the other three men on the platform had seen it, Marc had seen it, and he was relieved for having seen it. It was calming and relatable.
It was all Marc could see on the métro ride back home to Raspail. Saint-Sulpice. St.-Placide. Just the rat. RaspailDenfert-Rochereau, Alésia.The rat. At the end of the line, Marc descended the métro and ran up into the clean night. It was 10:15 and now raining. Marc moved maybe a half a block before he came near upon an empty parking lot. There was a large ornate building for which the parking lot was built, but Marc didn’t know what it was. In the middle of the parking lot was a tall streetlight, which towered over the flat ground of the nearly empty lot. It was a vast empty square lit only by its surrounding light poles and the tall one at its center, causing the drizzling rain to glimmer in front of all of it. He moved toward it but stopped at the edge of the lot. His head was still dizzy, but he could easily see the reflection of the streetlight on the wet concrete between him and it — long, and white, and bright on the black surface. A clean little ovular line in the earth coming straight toward him. Slowly, but sans hesitation, Marc paced along the edge, to the other side of the lot. Wherever he went, the reflection of the beacon followed, always pointed, always facing him. It didn’t matter where he stood. The center was pointed and always moving with him and toward him. Marc blinked. Moved back the other direction to the other side of the lot, where the light followed him again. For a moment he stood silent, considering his next move. Listened to the rain pitter on the hard ground all around him. He blinked once more, so as to imprint the beacon of light on his mind as he turned away, and he walked in the other direction, thinking of the rat, the reflection stretching after him at the same speed that he walked. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hell, you were askin' for it

By now, he should have noticed what his watch was telling him: it was past the hour, he was late, and he was blowing it.

Samuel Price couldn't have been any more oblivious to what he was missing at the time, for the interview was the last thing on his mind. For Samuel, routine ruled all in the suburban nation of Ecklandburg, and waking up meant video games for as long as the sun poured through the panes of the basement windows, business when those warm rays turned to a more generic light, and pleasure -- drinks, friends, more video games -- when that light had succumb to nighttime. Stuck in a game of Wii bowling in the furnished basement of his old home, he was patting himself on the back for a finely bowled 216 before it occurred to him exactly where he was supposed to have been at 1:30.

A sick feeling tore through Samuel's abdomen and up into his chest before materializing in his brain: the interview was supposed to start 40 minutes ago, the job he wanted vanished into an ether of laziness and attention deficit. As the feeling made its way through his esophagus and out the back of Samuel's neck in the form of sweat, seepeing toward the sensory perceptors in his face where it became throbbing, red hot reality, Sam slinked back into his chair and stared in amazement, showing a shellshock that would have been more than enough to convince Mr. Essing of his wholehearted commitment. The rims of his eyes became hot and watery, but the pulsating light from the number 216 flashing on his television prevented him from resorting into a cliched despair. He simply sat, and began calculating his recourse, like a population after having suffered from a violent tornado.

Sam made his way upstairs, where his mother was preparing for her first errand of the day, the bank.
"Mom," he began, but was cut off.
"Sam, you're not... done with--" he retaliated her interruption, to admit his guilt before the accusation could beget his regret.
"I fucking missed the interview."
His mother took some time to assess the situation and calculate the next move, like Sam had. She had no answer.
"How did you forget the interview," she said softly.
"I don't know... it was totally just ... inexcusable."
"I didn't know you were still here, otherwise I would've gotten you out of here, I had thought you were gone already."
"Nope, I was playing Wii bowling."
Sam's mother said nothing, as Sam took solace in the fact that she was as hurt by this absurdity as he was. She wouldn't laugh, but be right there in his frame of mind, sharing in his disappointment taking in the gravity of the situation the same way he was.
The silence of Sam's statement lingered in the air, before he broke it as a mercy toward both himself and his mother.
"Should I call him?"
"Only if you have something to tell him other than you missed your appointment to play video games."
"Yeah." He pondered the notion. He couldn't just be "sick," like when he missed days in high school. He needed a reason, a profound and legitimate reason, and he could think of none right now. He set the issue aside.
"I hate being this bad at succeeding," he threw out.
"Well, it's something you'll have to avoid, letting things like this happen."
"And it's just a summer job, at least it's not a permanent job."
"If it were permanent, I wouldn't have forgotten it."
"Well now you won't forget next time even if it isn't permanent."
"Small consolation. I feel like shit."
"Well you can't go back and fix it, so feeling sorry for yourself isn't gonna help."
"Yeah, well neither is pretending this is OK."
"Yeah, well..." she searched for proper words. "If you learn from it, you can make this a positive experience."
"Almost as positive as an internship with Claire's dad's firm."
"Almost," she said, growing tired of the conversation's hopelessness. She disclosed dinner plans as she grabbed her keys and left for the bank.

Sam, feeling slightly decompressed about the issue, went into his old room and sat on the guest bed that used to be his. A jealous montage of his friends working successful office jobs ran through his head, as he pictured himself literally lagging behind as they pacingly walked-n-talked about their bright futures. The future was only as bright as Sam could make it, and being absent from what was a make-or-break interview cast a rather dim light on everything Sam could find to think of.

Sam suddenly felt all of himself, of his weight pushing down on his thighs and buttocks, which were pressed against the crisp, cool cream-yellow sheets of the rigid spring mattress. It wasn't new-age comfortable, and that's what Sam liked about it. He tossed his head back over his shoulders and fell back onto the bed. He glanced at the plain white ceiling for a brief moment and allowed his eyes to crush closed and thought about the things he used to want.

For his eighth birthday, he had wanted his dad to build him a treehouse. In his conception of it, the smell of oak wood and patterns on the two-by-fours that topped the amateurly erected walls would help him to feel independent and removed from the boredom of life in Ecklandburg. His father had always wanted Sam to become a lawyer, but never took him up on building the treehouse in exchange for a pledge to live his life around going Pre-Law. Sam's proclivity for mathematics steered him toward being an accountant, a profession that his father was only distantly interested in and made no attempt to fully understand. By the time Sam's parents divorced during his first year of college, Sam had already defaulted to an allegiance with his mother.

From this daydream, Sam opened his eyes and re-encoutered the blank ceiling staring back at him, motionless and emotionless. He continued to gaze, determined to see his future emerge from the white canvas; to his mind came sheets of paper with printed type on them, though they faded away before he could read them and the ceiling became white once more.

Checking his phone again with contempt for the time, Sam sauntered back into his basement and turned off the Wii. He grabbed his down comforter off the couch, wrapped it around him like a cloak, and collapsed onto the couch devoid of thought, ready to sleep for awhile. He dreamt of living in a tree house, raising only pet animals and bowling scores above 300 on the Wii to pass the time.

--Eliot Sill

Sunday, January 6, 2013