The little dials that adjusted the airflow in my dad’s old Volvo always reminded me of Oreo cookies. I seriously hope that at least one of you knows what I’m talking about. If you look at an Oreo from the side so you can see both of the brown-black cookies and the white cream filing, it looks exactly like the dial you’d use to open or close the dashboard air vents in an old Volvo. It’s strange; as a child, those little dials always made me want cookies, and now that I’m grown, Oreos always make me want to buy a Swedish vehicle.
Anyway, my dad and I logged thousands of miles in that old Volvo during our many treks to and from Anchorage from our home in the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska. On one of the commutes, that song “Once in a Lifetime” came on and my dad turned it up because like most of the rebels at the time, he loved The Talking Heads. I only remember catching snippets of the song like “days go by” or “water flowing under” or “same as it ever was” but the rhythm was captivating so I asked what the song was about. He tried to explain but I missed it; it had something to do with “not knowing how you got where you are”. Whatever; it was just a song and that’s how I pigeonholed it for about twenty years.
Back before I quit drinking, I had a six-pack or so and ended up on my back in my living room here in New Mexico. My iPod was screwed into my head as my eclectic playlist shuffled. I was looking up at the flood lights pocketed into the ceiling and squinting which made weird rays of light shoot through my vision that reminded me of the Zia Sun on the New Mexico state flag. I imagined a Zia laying on his back in the sand looking up at the sun thousands of years ago and seeing the same thing before running to a rock wall and drawing the first Zia sun.
And then I thought about how strange it was that I had a beautiful wife and a huge white fence and an expansive open floor plan living room and a corporate job that’d scare the shit out of Jesse from fifteen years ago and then that song started playing through my ear buds. Epiphanies blossom at the strangest times but this one was forced by the Talking Heads. I knew exactly what that song was about, almost as if I had written it. Everything in life up to that point was incremental. Bit by bit this suburban lifestyle crept up like a hunting house cat until boom. Here I was tucking in my collared shirt and spending my days glued to a smart phone which is nothing like the lifestyle I planned to hack out in the shadow of some Alaskan glacier.
Had I gotten to that tipping point wherein the change had become palpable? Had I or my priorities changed so much that my vision was no longer so myopic and now, all of a sudden, everything came into focus? Well, no, not really. Hell, even ten years ago when I was a drool-faced zombie working seventy hours a week for a new bride and baby I probably could’ve caught the feeling of confusion if I had tried. Maybe I was just too tired to think about it. That life would’ve been just as foreign to the old Jesse as this one is. This is not my beautiful house! That wasn’t my beautiful house either! I guess it’s always been this way. A weird little moment in time that I had never foreseen or planned, a strange existence that I knew was mine but I could never quite explain how I got there. The water had always been flowing under. The days had just gone by. It really is the same as it ever was.
It’s hard to call yourself a writer when you don’t write. It’s almost as if there should be a past tense noun for someone that wrote something once and then slipped back into a normal life of mundane nonsense. A “wroter” maybe. I’ve been living this diurnal routine and I let fiction slip to that thing I could do, that thing I did once and would do again as if it were a project car collecting oxidization out in the barn.
Actually I don’t have a barn; no one in the suburbs does. And I don’t have an old car, or anything that’s antique and rusting. I just can’t get into that nostalgic mindset and I suppose that’s either because I’m pretentions or lazy. Things with “potential” make me cringe. The finished product is where it’s at. I prefer shiny. So maybe it’s the work involved with a writing project that feels so off-putting. The prospect of a rough and then a second and third draft before that coveted final.
I suppose I need to just do it. Holy shit, isn’t that the single best phrase in advertising history? I was eight years old and on vacation in Ohio when I heard it first. Nike had paid the billions required to use a Beetles song in a TV commercial and played “Revolution” juxtaposed against some grainy footage of track stars running in their swoosh laden gear and sweat. The commercial faded to black and then that iconic “just do it” appeared in a white font. I imagine the guy that came up with that slogan was working late one night trying to appease the Nike gods and he was probably wracking his brain trying to figure out a proper slogan when he told himself to “just do it”. That’s when the choir of heavenly voices accompanied the rays of light shooting down from the heavens. It was perfect, and it’s what I need to do. And for the record, a “vacation in Ohio” is like a pleasure cruise in a cesspit; oxymoronic as hell.
I’m a few thousand words away from completing “Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction”, or at least the shitty rough draft, and I suppose I could finish by Friday if I just did it. It’ll be a collection of four short stories and the drivel you find here on The Velveteen Maraca. It’ll be free, so I’ve got no problem saying that you’ll get your money’s worth. And yes, there will be plenty in the book that isn’t on this site and there are things on this site that won’t be in the book so please keep coming back here like addled crack addicts. Thanks for that by the way; I can’t tell you how happy I get when I notice that I’ve gained a new follower or when I get that first read from a previously uncharted foreign country.
This blog, this crutch, has been consuming my writing time. It serves its purpose, but at times it’s like a parasite that only partially fulfils my need to put thought into print. It’s got pictures and statistics and comments and loads of other distractions that keep me coming back but I need to shun this outlet until book #2 is complete. So I’m going to. This is the last post I’m going to make until book #2 enters the editing process. I promise (myself, not you).
Anyway, here’s the cover image. I love it. I didn’t have many followers in the beginning but if you go back to my first post, Wal-Mart, you’ll be able to figure out the impetus behind the image. Lastly, you should to go to www.miemomedia.com if you need professional graphic design services because I couldn’t be more pleased with Miemo’s services.
Miemo’s personal blog can be found at: www.miemonster.net