Would Buy Again

I think I have evidence that the time is ripe for me to start writing my book. I found the time—where, I don’t know—yesterday to leave some seller feedback on some books I bought on Amazon. One of them was this year’s 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said Page-a-Day Calendar. I said a little before 2010 started that I was done with this calendar, because it just wasn’t as funny to me as it used to be. But I had to buy it anyhow, because the authors emailed me after I wrote that and told me that one of the quotes I’d emailed them had made it into the calendar. It was from our dining hall here, and it said,

TODAY’S BREAKFAST PASTRY
TRAIL MIX MUFFINS
*CONTAINS MUFFINS

Clearly, they meant to say “contains nuts”, but they sure didn’t. The other book I got was Relearning to See: Improve Your Eyesight—Naturally!. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a book that tells you ways to sharpen your eyesight without the aid of glasses. In fact, what little of the book I’ve read so far rails against glasses pretty hard, saying that they’re bad for your eyes in a variety of different ways. The main one is that when you look through glasses, your eyes don’t have to work to focus right, and they get lazy and after you wear them awhile you find that you can’t see as well without them as you could before you started wearing them. This claim is backed up with evidence, as is pretty much everything in the book. It’s not a vanity-press thing put out by a pseudoscientist quack (although the author’s name is Tom Quackenbush); it’s a compendious 500-plus–page book full of technical diagrams and foldout eye charts. For this reason I haven’t yet read even past the background into the part that actually tells you how to improve your eyesight. But once I do, I’ll definitely keep you all updated on how I’m doing. Frankly, I’m not happy about the idea of wearing glasses, and this book sounds like a pretty legitimate way of making them unneeded without an expensive surgery that uses lasers to cut my eye. (Think about that description and tell me if it sounds like a good idea when you read it. I haven’t found this in the book yet, but I’ve read reviews that said the book is against LASIK-type things as well, because they amount to having your current prescription permanently emblazoned on your cornea.)

Anyhow, the point I was going to make was that I wrote seller feedback for both of these books. You know, saying whether the seller was prompt and the package got to me on time. But instead of that, I decided to spice it up a little bit.

Review number one: “Not only did the calendar arrive instantaneously, appearing on my desk with a small ‘puff’ sound after I clicked the button to place the order, but the pages had been edged in fine gold leaf. The ho-hum standard cover art was gone and in its place was a 3-D hand-done painting of a metallic dragon destroying a zeppelin. If you ask it nicely, the calendar will also read itself aloud. Would buy again.”

Review number two: “This book arrived just in time for me to use it to defeat my arch-nemesis in hand-to-hand combat. I threw it at his face with a supersonic swirling motion and the power of one hundred thousand papercuts overrode his miracle healing power just long enough for me to jab my poison spur into his secret weak spot below his sternum. Thank you to the delivery woman and to this seller. Would buy again.”

These are why I say it’s probably high time for me to start writing stuff. I have some things planned. First off I need to write something for myself, a kind of essay that lets me clear up to myself what I think about primitivism and civilization, what my standpoint really is, what’s reasonable. If I didn’t hate the word “manifesto”, I’d call it a personal manifesto. That’s something I’ve wanted to write for a while, although I don’t expect anyone but me to find it fascinating. I’ll probably end up putting it here, and maybe I’ll turn out to be wrong about whether people besides me will like it. The other thing I plan to write is a novel. This is roughly the same novel that I’ve been wanting to write since about eighth grade. I’ve started writing it four times now, each time better than the last, none of them really usable. I figured out the problem with the latest one, which is the one that I started writing in National Novel Writing Month (November). I didn’t really know who the characters were. There are two main ones, and they both basically thought the same and did all the same things and did them only to push the plot forward. Also, they were both pretty much me. I still don’t have a firm grasp on them, but I at least realize that I’ll need one. Probably in order to get a hang of writing characters, I’ll rewrite a short story that I wrote in my Craft of Fiction class. That one had a pretty flat main character as well. Part of that is that the point of the story is how very, very flat he is—probably “lifeless” is actually the best word—but I’m sure I could make him seem more real even at the same time that he’s lifeless. And the rest of the story could seem more real too. And it could just straight-up be better written.

The writing will take place while I’m on trains and waiting for trains and hitchhiking and regular-hiking and all that stuff. I would start while I’m in New York, except that I want to go to a wilderness skills school before I start writing the book. Not only do I want to know these skills, but my characters will definitely need to have a grounding in wilderness skills. So I guess in New York I’ll focus on my short story, the one about Tim, and maybe my personal writing thing too. Probably some of it will take place on top of buildings. This is a recent addition to my plans. It started when I found out that a couple people I knew a little bit, but not much,1 like to climb buildings in their spare time. (Let’s call them Shortstuff and Ninja.) I invited myself to their next excursion, and we went downtown. We went to the back of a foppish bar where yuppies buy drinks, and, with no prelude, Ninja climbed up it: on top of a dumpster, up a shed connected to the building, and progressively up architectural stairsteps until he got most of the way to the top. I was right behind him, and when we got there, Shortstuff—she had a hurt leg and wasn’t climbing today—took a picture of us, and we climbed back down. Incidentally, this was broad daylight. We wandered around town, then started heading back to campus. On the way, we found another short building and climbed that, and then when we got back to campus we climbed the arts building, without even really trying very hard to be secretive.

After this outing I realized how well climbing buildings would fit into my plans for next semester. I’ve read a lot online about the parts of a train journey that don’t take place while you’re physically on a train. One part of a trip that you have to consider is where to sleep, and a lot of people online agreed: if you’re in a city and don’t want to be seen while you sleep, and you can’t find a nice forest in a park somewhere, and you don’t want to pay for a motel room (which will always be a given for me), you can just climb on top of a building. No one will ever look there. So I’ve been practicing more with Shortstuff and Ninja. Lately, we climbed a bunch more buildings, and we’re hoping to climb yet more that we ran out of time for. One of our excursions will probably end in one of the three potential camping trip that I might be going on before I leave town. It’s going to be a pretty well packed two last weeks here. And then I’ll be out of school for eight months. That’s a pretty interesting thought. I’m about to embark on the longest stretch of free time that I’ve had since I was four, and it’ll be considerably freer, too, since when I was a toddler I could hardly roam all around the country and climb buildings and hike mountain trails. I suspect that while I’m doing it, I’ll discover that I’d prefer to live my entire life like that. And, barring physical limitations, anything is possible with the right mindset and willpower. So anything is just what I plan to do.

  1. Not the same people I climbed up the arts building with once before. 

File under: writing, reading


Anonymous

History

Is this the 21st Century American young man's equivalent to the "seeing the continent and sowing some wild oats right after university" of the upper class British gentlemen in the 19th? Of course, after they came home they then took up their lifelong responsibility of guarding the family fortune. Will you come out of this actually ready to work for a living?????
In any case, I hope you find your characters, your self, and your mission for the rest of your life. I know it will not be a dull one. Grandma

Reply

Chuck

History

I think it's considerably more constrained than 21st-century young American men, as in just me and a few other weirdos around the country. As far as I can tel, sowing wild oats has gone out of style, and I think it's a shame because now instead of fields of wild oats we have grad-school students who don't know why they're in grad school, or are just doing it because it's the default next thing to do.

I do plan to make money someday, if for no other reason then so I can get rid of my damn student loans.

Reply

Anonymous

History

Glad to hear that, and that you are going to be somewhat more constrained. I know whatever you do it will add another dimension to your already full life. Now is the time for you to do it, too, before those responsibilities kick in. Especially student loan responsibilities.

BTW, when are you going to be in Wyoming again? I would love to see you, if only to give you another batch of ginger cookies. Grandma

Reply

Chuck

History

I'll be in Wyoming for a little over a week between the end of school (May 21) and when I leave for NYC (May 29? 30?). I accept your offer of ginger snaps. After that I'll be in New York until about August 6 or 7, and then I'll be in Wyoming briefly before going off to do GORP one last time. And then I'll come back again to plan out my Big Semester, wrangle up my friends, buy supplies for it, and so on. And from there I'll be off.

Reply

Oxtrox

History

Two things:

first:
I noticed a couple days ago that my bottle of soy sauce in the cabinet says on the back label "contains: soy". No kidding?

second:
I have some experience with climbing things in college. My apparatus of choice was the late fabled Oxford water tower. I found out shortly after making it nearly to the top that the police frown on people climbing at 3am in the morning. Needless to say, they hooked me and booked me. It's called "criminal trespassing" and in my case it carried a $100 fine, 55 hours community service, 30 days in jail, 30 days suspended and 2 years good behavior. After deliberating this for a long time (exactly .00000001 seconds) following the delivery of my sentence, I realized it wasn't worth it.

I tell you this story because climbing buildings that you don't own or have permission will always be considered criminal trespassing, or worse, they may think you are trying to break in.

So I have to say that speaking from experience, DON"T DO IT YOU FREAKIN MORON!!! You're no longer an innocent kid, you're an adult and consequences come from your actions.

Reply

Chuck

History

I plan to use the climbing strategy sparingly, if at all. But also there are differences. For example: they frown on it a little bit more when people climb water towers than when they climb a 7-Eleven. And also I would be in a much better position to exercise stealth… you pretty much climbed the most prominent thing in town, so it's not too surprising that you're of the sort of climber that gets caught. I'd plan to get up in the night after making sure no one's looking, and probably by the back; and then get down in the early morning, either before the sun has risen or before people start walking around a lot. But I'll definitely take your experience into account; I hadn't really deeply considered the legal consequences, and so now I'm definitely forewarned.

Somehow, though, it's possible to do batshit nuts climbing and still remain at large, because this guy does it: http://www.nopromiseofsafety.com/

Reply

Anonymous

History

Good luck climbing in Manhattan! I don't think you'll have much success. Abandoned buildings may be a better choice. Just don't sleep next to the empty spray paint cans. A couple of my friends killed the climbing urge by bagging the Darrtown tower at 1003 ft. Yes they are still alive. I don't recommend this however.

I suggest rock climbing.

Dave

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