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Good intentions really are just that – and a commitment to a writing practice has the same trajectory as “I’m actually going to stick to a budget this month.” Days spill into each other, become weeks, and you somehow arrive at the point where it’s easier to just start over with a new, different commitment this time.

So fine. I’m just going to keep writing, even if it’s bad, even if it’s pointless. I’ll consider it a daily vacuum sweep of the mind, which it probably needs, after I spent an hour looking at movie trailers on youtube last night. (I prefer trailers to actual movies, since you really do get most of the plot and premise in about 5 minutes, instead of committing an entire hour and a half to some media moguls idea of what women find funny. Hint: they’re usually not.)

This time, my trailer mash up blurred a whole bunch of emotional music- pretty people running through fields – kisses in the rain scenes, leaving me with the impression that I had in fact already watched an entire movies-worth of screen time.


ImageI notice that the hardest thing can be just deciding what to write about. It’s evident every time I sit down and open up this blog – although I’m writing more or less into a vacuum of ether-interwebs-space, and I can rant about any damn thing I please – I still hesitate to actually pick a topic.

It’s not that I can’t think of something to say as I have too much to say. Fuck, I could blog about my breakfast (people have made a whole art project out of it) I could go on and on about Berlin, the creative process, the random things I contemplate and which seem so funny to me, as told by myself. I talk to myself a lot; there’s no shortage of conversation material.

But writing it down is hard. Writing is hard, is the basic conclusion I have come to. Or as someone else once put it: “Writing is easy. You just stare at the paper until blood comes out.”

This morning I was reading a magazine and drinking coffee. I thought about how tactile magazines were, and how much I preferred them to internet news. How screens put an automatic speed filter on your brain (“I must absorb this as quickly as possible before moving onto the next thing”) which physical objects made out of paper don’t seem to.

I read a story about a drone strike, and had a little niglet of an idea – the kind of ‘what if’ that often kickstarts fiction. I jotted something down. Then I read the end of the article, and discovered that someone had already written some fiction to that effect. Boo. Enthusiasm summarily deflated, even though the idea could be bent many ways and fiction is as unique as your storytelling voice.

The point is there are lots of ideas. And there are lots of ways to lose your enthusiasm (thinking about an audience is one, judging your idea before it’s hatched is another). A creative practice involves, I am convinced, spending time every day throwing spaghetti at the wall. It might stick. You might just make a mess and waste some time.

Here’s some spaghetti.

It can’t quite decide if it’s raining or misting or just a bit foggy out today. What the Irish call “soft”, and what I call a good excuse to stay inside. You’d feel like an ass carrying an umbrella, but you’re still going to get wet on a bike.

That being said, there is something very lovely about sitting out on the balcony, under the awning, wrapped up in a blanket with a steaming cup of green tea. Soft Saturday mornings. I’ll take them.

External Weapons

She walked into my office, long legs striding, high heels clicking. What you’d call a real dame, although that kind of language faded out a hundred years ago. Asked to see the detective.

“I’m a private eye, Miss,” I answered, as respectfully as I could with a whiskey hangover clouding my brain. It would last until at least lunch, when I would get a few hours of clear headed sharpness before five o’clock made me thirsty. If I had clients, I’d meet them at the bar downstairs. If I didn’t, I’d go anyways. It made it easy for my ex-wife to find me when her alimony payments were late.

“I’m no Miss,” she said. “And you’re drunk.”

Respectful still, I nodded.

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” she snapped, reaching into her Greta Garbo trench coat. My first instinct was to dive. Women like to carry guns that way, hidden in long fur coats and tucked in thigh holsters. You can usually tell when a man is packing; he walks differently, struts a bit more. Women strut naturally, and it has nothing to do with an external weapon.

I myself have never carried a gun, instead reaching down for the blade I kept in my trouser pocket. It was a light samurai edition; only the handle was grasped in my sweaty palm, but if I slid the safety away it would extend into a beautiful fencing master style weapon.

But what she pulled from her coat and flung at me wasn’t a bomb, or a hand grenade, or even a court summons: it was stardust.

Mehnschelom,” she said, wrapping her tongue around the ancient words, and I felt my chest seize, as if my heart would lift right out of my ribcage and pull all my secret fears with it.

I grabbed at my collar, feeling strangled. “Mmpghm.”

She only crossed her arms, prepared to wait.

“Mmpghm!” The strangling sensation burned and then eased, before a powerful throbbing hit my temples. I began to sweat, and then shiver. My body was rapidly accelerating the hangover; processing the alcohol from last night – was that tequila I smelt? Damn that bartender – and clubbing my head and guts with it.

 Then I blinked and the room wobbled on its axis for one long second; Greta Garbo just watched, and I caught a tell-tale glimpse of silver in her eyes. I should have noticed right away; this one was a witch.

“Pfft,” I said, reaching for a waterglass and realizing I had never, not once, drank water in this office.

“C’mon, let’s go downstairs,” she said, coming around the desk and grabbing my shoulder. “I need you firing on all pistons and I don’t have time to waste.” I staggered after her downstairs to the bar, where the bartender took one look at me and reached for the Jameson; he took a second look at her and put it back.

“Soda water,” she said. “Two.”

I guzzled mine and burped slightly; she pushed her glass over and I drank that as well, slower this time.

“So what can I do for you, ma’am?” I said, managing full words again and remembering not to call her ‘Miss’.

“I need protection.”

“Plenty of hired guns in this city, ma’am.” I smiled, appreciating the experience of sitting in a dingy bar with such a beautiful woman. Cheekbones that could cut glass; thin lips that didn’t look given to loving words. Her silver eyes were covered up more or less with contacts, but when she was annoyed – which she was now – the light shone through anyways.

“And they carry guns,” she said. “I need a swordmaster.”

I felt a sick thrill, probably akin to how a former heroin addict looks at needles.

She took out a package of smokes and offered me one; I accepted, holding up a lighter. Her long blonde hair drifted forward as she leaned in, cigarette in her lips, and touched it to the flame as I lit mine simultaneously. It was the closest we would come to a kiss.

“My name,” she began.

“Is not important,” I finished for her. “You’re not going to tell me the real one anyways.” I glanced involuntarily down at her long legs, which were wearing real, old fashioned silk stockings with a seam up the back. That seam was like a fishing line; it led straight into the imaginations of men. “There are what, a hundred witches registered in the city of Chicago?”

“In the registry, I’m dead,” she said.

“My condolences.” I understood the stardust now; her signature energy flare would be detected by the government immediately, and dead witches don’t cast spells. It seemed an expensive way to get rid of a hangover though.

She inhaled deeply and blew the smoke at the approaching bartender in a clear warning. He backed away and she returned her attention to me. “People are looking for me,” she said. “Not the Department of Energy.”

“They think you’re dead.”

She nodded. “And the Keyes Gang is what made them think that. There was a blow-out blaze a few nights ago; I was supposedly a part of it.” I had seen the arcs of light fizzle and die like fireworks over the housing projects to the south; witchcraft battles could be so pretty. From a distance.

I tapped out the ash directly on the bar. “So they faked your flare and stooged you. Handy how witches don’t leave bodies behind. And now they’re looking for you? The Keyes Gang?”

Another nod. “I need to get out of the city. Quickly.”

“Did you steal from them?”

She laughed. “Nothing that wasn’t mine to begin with.”

I sighed, stubbed the cigarette out. “They all say that. But a dead witch who won’t come to life, who has stardust to throw around like confetti, who needs a swordmaster because guns don’t kill sorcerers – you really expect me to get involved…”

The doors of the bar flew open with a crackle of silver. She threw a glance back at me, reaching into her coat. “You’re already involved,” she said. “Now draw your sword.”

If you have it, you should go here:

Motto is an art book/ zine shop in Kreuzberg that I highly recommend (see, there I go, sounding like a super happy positive travel blog again. But no, seriously go, it’s a fucking awesome store full of weird things to look at.) Especially if you’re the type of person that walks into a room full of obscure literature and claps their hands. If you grope books, like to handle all the pages and have a weakness for exotic bindings and typeset, this is the place for you. It’s almost mildly stressful – so many to look at! How to pick?? What to buy? (Because you know you’re not walking out of there unscathed. Browse all you want. Eventually you’ll  cave.)

I bought a shiny new art magazine and pulled it out at a cafe table. My friend gestured for me to open it up, so we could flip through together and I felt a kind of possessiveness. I realized that I didn’t want him to read it first, and moreover, I didn’t even want him to look at it.

It was like I had bought a virgin at a slave auction and now wanted to defile it in private. I wanted to get to know it at home, alone, to bury my nose in its glossy pages and thumb through all the pages slowly and at my leisure – and yes, again in private. (This post could also be titled Why I Live Alone.) Who knew I had such a Madonna/ Whore complex about my printed content? I finagled it back from him as quickly as possible without suspicion and hid it. (Before you ask, no, it’s not even that kind of magazine. It’s a copy of Frieze.)

People always ask, “so what is your novel about?” I really don’t like answering this question, because it’s long and convoluted and I haven’t managed to condense 80,000 words into a soundbyte. Maybe the fault is mine and I need to work on my elevator speech, but more likely I’m going to lie with one of these:

1. Zombies (no further explanation required)

2. A love triangle (this will be used on guys, who should get visions of Twilight in their heads and back away, immediately.)

3. Life as told by the household plant.

4. A re-interpretation of the Odyssey, in the age of Facebook.

5. A zombie love triangle.

If you are a gay Star Trek fan, you are going to love Into Darkness.  The whole movie is basically a love song between Kirk and Spock.

They start with a quarrel:

Possibly some jealousy issues:

And then, in the usual course of Hollywood taking over science fiction, there’s a severe over-simplification of engine mechanics and spaceflight. Lots of big red stop buttons, running through corridors on tilted camera angles, and a scene where we are expected to believe that Kirk needs to kick a piece of machinery to restore full power to the Enterprise. Seriously?? That works? I knew my mechanic was ripping me off.

Kirk and Spock reconcile:

It’s very sweet, and much more believable than his reconciliation with Uhura. Do they look happy? No, they don’t look happy:

Then Spock goes forth to avenge his lover, er, captain:

And, well, I think I’ve given away enough of the plot already and we know it’ll all work out in the end, so you can put the rest together for yourself. Whatev’s. Pine, Quinto, and Cumberbatch are all pretty fine, so I don’t mind watching them sweat over each other for a few hours. There’s a great chase scene which is nothing more than gratuitous Quinto-butt-ogling.

It would be nice to see the female characters do more than have Daddy issues and shoot phasers in mini-skirts, but apparently in the year 27billion Scotty also still runs around with a flip cell phone so I guess the future’s not all that advanced.