The Naming of Things

Russia’s embrace is at times cautious and polite, at other times a true bear hug.

I should get my degree based solely on this sentence.

Unsolicited Writing Advice

  • If you’re going to write about sex, focus on the wallpaper in the room you lost your virginity.
  • If you’re going to write about travel, tell me about the upholstery in the bus or the train or the plane or car. If you walked, I want to hear about your shoes.
  • If you’re going to write about how much you love fictional characters, describe how you turn pages or swipe across your screen.
  • If you’re going to write about dragons or vampires, emphasize the spaces between their teeth.
  • If you’re going to write about loneliness, measure yourself and measure the world around you. Write about which is more manageable.

The End of a Solid-C Paper

Oh but to have the simple, straightforward life of an essay. A product of late nights and thumbing through books, looking for that quote that will either make or break the entire argument. Hoping that every the book says will be taken as fact, since it was printed and cited, and never replied with a follow up but what was meant. A construction not of opinion or honest reflection but of defendable statements unified by a grand thesis. Highlight or underline, make bold or italic. For emphasis. With set margins and word counts and a one-two-three-kick structure in each paragraph. Polite, safe jokes.

But all I see is you reaching for your pen – blue, blue ink, not the harsh red of criticism and scolding, the red of the Russkis but a calm, sympathetic, understanding blue. Oh, no, professor, leave that alone, this isn’t a joke, ink isn’t for playing with, ink plus this paper equals no grade and a grade-shaped hole, so stop, I know that it’s just that vacation is near and you want to return to Poland as much as I do, and since you’ll get there first, I’ll ask for a postcard if it’s not too much trouble, in a second fill out my course evaluation, no bullshit. But you can’t see that until the grades have been entered, and enter you have to because there’s an end to this paper, and it’s right here on this line.

dilemma from a lease agreement

to train a kitten to be a dog


to tell a puppy he is a cat

I don’t use the Gregorian calendar.

Don’t operate on lunar cycles. My years are not divided by solstices and seasons. I run on the American Academic Calendar.

The Year begins in September, ends in April. May, June, July August – summer exists beyond the Year. Adjacent to. Alongside. How Saturday and Sunday exist outside of the week. How y is sometimes a vowel.

I fall asleep in December and wake in January. Monday to Tuesday. Like any other. The end of April, though, is frantic, frenetic, then festive, and each summer is looked upon as a towel on the beach, as a folding camping chair, as a bed under a wet window – all within arm’s reach of a crowded bookshelf.

In general, women are more interesting than men. I really shouldn’t say ‘in general.’ That’s a rhetorical flourish, filler, fodder, fluff from under the tongue. I don’t know enough women to speak with authority or speak generally, broadly, imprecisely. I mean, sure, I know women – but to the extent that everyone knows women and knows men, knows people and pets: know-know, know of, know about, heard of, seen pictures of, aware of, acquainted with, and met-once-maybe.

In general, men are more attractive than women. Here I can say ‘in general’ because we’re talking about men: simple, measurable objects. Commodities for a specialized market. Facts, numbers, angles, genes, hair products. None of that bonus-points-for-rescuing-a-puppy bullshit. If that drives you, you’re probably more attracted to the fucking dog. Granted, I don’t want to play with every dick in the world, but my eyes are always looking for the good ones.

In general, people, I guess. I like people.

Jelly Beans

that reagan guy was on to something

Your hair got shorter, your glasses bigger, but your eyebrows have stayed the same.

how The Professor Who First Dubbed Me Groucho described me after not seeing me for two years

There is a sequel to The Official Preppy Handbook.

True Prep. I did not know this, and I am just mortified. Is my use of duck decoys as bookends for my Cheever collection still acceptable?


AMC now has a show about the American Revolution. Sorry, but I already watched Liberty’s Kids. AMC, Walter White is dead. Accept your fate as the channel that runs Platoon twelve times a week.

I came from a place of houses and cars. That’s all. No sidewalks. Walking anywhere was a symbol of poverty, was an admission of low social standing and meager means. Meager than most. My older brother and I once picked up a middle-aged woman in a Burger King uniform. The closest one was two miles away still. When we dropped her off, my brother patted his dashboard and proclaimed that “with all this new karma, this baby will run forever.”

A friend of mine visited from out-of-state and explained that people have nicer cars than houses. She said that it was opposite where she was from. She was wrong. Both the cars and the houses were shitty. Everything too new to be retro, too old to be attractive. Conservative. Suburban. Homes for city-feeders – but the cities now without appetite. A place that forgot to introduce tax credits and approve plans for county roads. The housing developers, they swopped in and bought out farms with leaning barns and renamed places Deer Lake Hills, even though there was neither a lake nor hills. There were deer, though. Usually on the side of the road, feet straight out, head back, tongue out. For a day or two.

There weren’t even restaurants because restaurants are places where you can eat something you can’t make at home. Places were called The Grill: Restaurant and Bar, Moe’s Family Style Restaurant, Eddie’s Family Friendly Food. Places where people too old or too tired ordered off laminated lists of their own kitchens, embellished with ClipArt.

Whenever I came home, my parents threw food at me – and not the type of food you want thrown at you. The kind of stuff you try to forget is legal for grocery stores to sell. The stuff you wish it wasn’t socially acceptable to feed children, old people, anyone whose mouth can open and close, really. My parents were always proud that they could put food on the table, but they had to side farther and farther from the table. You can’t survive for thirty years on leaky cartons of Chinese and Hamburger Helper and not become the person complaining theater seats are to small.

My friends came from places south of Cabear Lake Road. Where there were restaurants, driving ranges, two or three blocks of a downtown. Where people turned off their TVs and walked their dogs and hosted family parties on backyards that slopped into the lakes. Places that understood guilt.

What’s the difference between a show you watch to see who is killed off this week and a show you watch to see who is voted off?


The suburbs of Potznan are in An. The flatness there beckoned sprawl. The hills of Potz, the Back-Hills, start shady, then become wooded until the hills are lost under the static waves of trees and trees – the home of hidden lakes and smokeless cabins. The city spread east and east, in the rings and cul-de-sacs of An and Outer An.

All of the houses there have garages and basements, attics and spare bedrooms. Places their owners can stack and store their impulse purchases, their misguided investments, all the evidence of why they will never be smart enough with their money to live in Potz.

Rub it in the carnivores’ faces, sure.
Oh, I’ll rub it in your faces. I’ll rub it in your faces just like you shove and stuff them full of meat. Juicy, delicious, grilled meat. Like steak, brisket, pork chops, and burgers. Oh … burgers. Burgers not made of beans. Burgers made of beef, made of buffalo, of ostrich. Everything falling into place just so …
image… burgers ….