A Wistful List

flying

What you should do sometime in your life:

Get grass stains on your knees.

Grow your own food.

Learn to swim.

Learn to ride a bike.

Learn to fly.

Get kissed.

Get dumped.

Hear a joke that makes you laugh so hard you cry.

Tell a joke that makes somebody laugh really loud.

Believe in a mystery.

Solve a riddle.

Fall in love.

Lose a pet.

Defend someone who is unpopular.

Smell the rain coming from a mile away.

Smell a rose.

Write a list of wistful things. (Such as this one.)

The Authentic Writer

funnykitten

AND WHAT MAKES YOU A WRITER? Symptoms of being a writer are these: You’re always writing something, whether it’s a list, stream of consciousness prose, a song, a poem, a novel, a screenplay, and/or graffiti on a wall. You can’t possibly use all the ideas for stories that you have. You love the smell of stationery and stationery stores, paper, pens, printers, and sharpened pencils. You’re always mulling over something you’ve written, editing it from all angles. You can’t help but read everything you see with words on it (repeatedly, such as that sign that you’ve read over and over again even though you KNOW what it says, or the cover of the Reader’s Digest that sits on the back of the toilet–your eyes refuse to avoid it). You love words and languages, and you know multiple phrases in multiple languages. You’re critical but progressive–you may change your harsh opinions of some things once you see the beauty of them. It’s likely that you have a pet—and if you’re a stereotypical writer, it’s a cat. Regardless of that last jab, you love cat pictures. You can see the beauty of less than desirable things like blotty pens, old books, and ancient word processors. You have haunted, and shall always haunt, libraries (though you would probably arrange the books by a different method than the present one). And you love the sounds of a typewriter; that cadence of tiny hammers and the ratcheting sound of the carriage return is pure bliss to you.

Advice to young men

For young men: Be aware that no matter how many words you use when you’re talking to a young woman, she will consider it a conversation. For instance, if you were playing a sport with a girl and you wanted her to know that it was fun and that she was a valuable member of the team and you made the mistake of saying, “I like you as a friend,” even though the emphasis was on the “you”, there are several things wrong with this phrase. The first one is the use of “I” at the very beginning. When a girl hears you say “I” at the beginning of a sentence, she is immediately fully invested. You are talking about yourself to her. When she hears you say “I,” she reasons that marriage is imminent. The next word twists the deal. “I like,” is what she hears and the conversation has taken a turn for the weird. First of all, you’re talking about your feelings. This is where all girls live: in their feelings. But you said, “like,” so now of course she is imagining you breaking off the wedding, but still wanting to date. You’re going steady with her now, especially when she hears, “I like you…” Now you have put “I” and “you” in the same sentence, so she has hope for that marriage thing again. But then—oh, then—you drop the bomb in her lap and tell her to defuse it or die. You might be thinking, “I didn’t say that.” But you did. You said, “…as a friend.” Suddenly she’s reduced to friend not bride status. So even though by “friend” you meant “valuable member of the team,” she understands that you are breaking up with her. Now don’t get confused and think that you need to spell everything out for every girl everywhere. Fewer words are still better. Short vague phrases such as: “You’re awesome!” and “You’re Olympic!” will work in most cases. Beware of anything that might sound covert. Young women live in the covert. They’ll analyze your every word. They’ll see through your cover-ups. Also, never ever say, “You’re sweaty,” for reasons we will discuss later.

‘Barchive

“Why is it a ‘barchive?” Only because it’s fun to play with words. If people everywhere said the same words over and over, life would be really dull. Lifeless, even. Is it a ‘blog? Sure. It’s a weblog and a webarchive and a selling point for my upcoming novels. It’s an ad station and a support opportunity (I intend to plug the works of other artists and writers like myself). If, for instance, you always said, “I need to wash my car,” then why not change it up and say, “My car needs a bath.” Or you could say, “I wish it would rain buckets on my car today.” Some people only wash their car when it rains.

Free Short Fiction

Ships and Boats

Regulation Generation — a short story by Kurt Gailey

The Commander gave a seethingly contemptuous look at the Second Class PO behind the supply counter. He picked up the pen that dangled innocently from its silver-beaded chain, and he imagined burying it in the PO’s skull.

The Commander reminded himself who he was and how he should act—especially in situations such as this.

“Give me the paperwork,” the Commander commanded, correcting his posture, standing taller and feeling much larger than he was. While he watched the supply PO shuffle through a flight of files, he mumbled, “This is ridiculous. I should be able to just get what I want. My work shouldn’t be hindered with this rigmarole. Highest ranking officer on this skiff and I can’t even get a…”

“Here you are, sir,” said the PO as he slid the papers through the slot in his caged area. He added, “Don’t forget to press hard so the info will go through to the carbons, sir.”

The Commander paused, holding the sheets of paper against the short plank jutting from the slot in the supply cage. The pen, gripped too tight in his fingers, hovered over the paper. His expression was that which would make babies cry. His tough old hands shook almost imperceptibly with the mental struggle affecting his head.

He wanted very badly to put the PO in a strangle hold.

Again he reminded himself of his own position, and calmed down enough to say: “I know how to use carbon paper Petty Officer, uh, Gordon.”

“Of course you do, sir,” Gordon agreed, and added, “You were probably around when it was invented.”

The Petty Officer watched as the Commander’s lips curled into a snarl that would have graced a bulldog’s face conspicuously well.

Through his clenched teeth the Commander spoke, slowly, angrily, “By that you mean what?”

“By that, sir,” Gordon stalled for time to think, “I meeean…that you’ve had a long, distinguished career, sir.”

“Right.” The Commander decided to take a different tack with his thoughts. “You know Petty Officer Gordon, we are currently in need of a full-time bilge-rat.”

“That would require a separate requisition, sir.”

“What!?” The pen on the chain skipped across the page, leaving a long, black, angry line. The pen dropped, and the chain smacked against the chain-link cage. The Commander weaved his fingers through the chain-link and shook the cage.

“Are you taunting me!?” he screamed.

Gordon backed up against the metal drawers immediately behind him and spoke rapidly. “Not at all sir. Just following orders. Regulation seven-ought-one five-ought-two states that all personnel transfers will be treated as requisitions and all regulations per requisitions apply. Which means you’d need to sign some papers before sending me to the bilges, sir.”

“What are you,” the Commander growled, “an autistic lawyer?”

“No sir,” Gordon stated, “just a Supply Officer.”

“I mean, do you have all the regulations memorized, or what?”

“Of course,” Gordon said proudly. “Regulation two states clearly that all personnel should be familiar with the regulations manuals. And, after all sir, I have the easiest access to all the manuals, since they are stored here.”

The Commander released his grip on the chain-link cage, slid his hand along the pen-chain until he reached the pen. He picked up the pen, began writing again and said, very seriously, “If this cage wasn’t here, I’d presently be about kicking your butt up around your ears, Pee Oh Gordon.”

“Physically impossible, sir,” Gordon stated logically.

No change of expression crossed the Commander’s face as he continued to write. He spoke slowly, maintaining a superficial calm. “Somehow Gordon, I knew you were going to say that. You know what I’d really like to do?” He lifted the pen and pointed the chain end at the Petty Officer. “I’d really like to kick the butt of the guy who wrote this requisition regulation. I mean, what is this PRR1GEN3?”

“You really don’t know, sir?” Gordon was puzzled.

Some of the old anger resurfaced. The Commander’s eyebrows tilted toward each other in the center. His eyes creased on the sides.

Gordon took his cue. “Sir, the 1 means this is the first time this particular regulation has been worded the way it is, while the GEN3 means that this is the third generation of the same regulation, even though the wording may have changed. As for the first letters, I bet you could guess what those stand for.”

“Yes, well,” the Commander cleared his throat, “it surprises me that someone in command, some time ago, could so thoroughly defeat the armed forces like this.”

Done filling out the paperwork, the Commander shoved it through the slot. Gordon reached for it warily, making sure not to place any part of himself within reach of the volatile man on the other side of the barrier. He grabbed the paperwork but then found that the Commander would not let go.

The Commander would not let go because he had come to a sudden realization. He decided to exploit the lucidity. “Gordon,” he asked with a smirk, “could you tell me, to your best recollection, who exactly made this ridiculous regulation?”

“Yes sir,” Gordon smiled knowingly, “it was put into effect by one Commander Stewart and co-signed by one Ensign Andrews.”

The smirk dropped from the Commander’s face, as simultaneously the paperwork slipped from his fingers.

Gordon accepted the papers graciously, and with a flip of the finger he seemed to test the paper’s crispness. While reading and checking the paperwork for completeness, he offered quietly, “You were an Ensign once, weren’t you?” Finding the paperwork sufficiently complete, he looked up and asked, “Commander Andrews?”

“Yes,” the Commander admitted, “perhaps a foolish one.”

“Perhaps, sir,” Gordon said, with a bit more courtesy. He turned around, reached in a drawer, pulled an object from it, and turned back around, all with a twist of the heels that some might call an ‘about-face.’

“And here sir, is your black, plastic, spring-action, military issue, ball-point pen…as requisitioned.”