It's been three days in my new home, and I'm still feeling surreal.

One week ago, my mother was in a state of high dudgeon. Our money was running out (like it always does, when she's feeling stressed) and there was little to be done. Craigslist had provided me with lead after lead, only to prove frustrating when the poster turned out to have a boyfriend/girlfriend who "just happened" to have come back, sorry, someone who had asked first, someone who was trying to rent an apartment for twice as much, sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Good luck, you're just not what I was looking for. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

Meanwhile, I was consoling myself with drink and good food...of a sort, trying to stay warm, and musing. My room at the BestValue (at the edge of the amazing West Rock Park, home of the Regicides' Cave, some pre-Cambrian rocks, and a hidden warmsprings) had a microwave, but no refrigerator, so I majored in frozen dinner, cheese and olives, and takeout. I'd gotten blackballed at a few pubs (for various reasons), but I had the resources of one of the best package stores around, which gave me the finest in box wine. Drunk, I'd walk into the parking lot and look at the moon, or down to the transient's pub down the hill, where I'd mingle with the locals. I'd also watch TV, constantly, obsessively. I got to know the schedules for Animal Planet, Discovery, and The Cartoon Network by heart, was on a first-name basis with the Monex lady, and counted the days in the week the alternate intro to Jay Leno's show aired. I amassed a whole load of art supplies and read "getting in touch with nature" books, but couldn't, somehow, draw anything much or get out of bed any sooner than noon.

Part of it was the dreams.

I'd lie in bed and find myself transported to the home of my childhood, with the whole cast. Nothing would happen, outside of what I used to call "normal" life: breakfast in my grandmother's 40's-into-80's kitchen, running around the garden with my mother, black-haired and lively as she was, is not, but always will seem to be, doing housework and talking to friends. Or I'd be in Europe, or California, or Midtown Manhattan during the 80's, shopping in high-end cutting-edge boutiques, or relaxing at hotels and spas far more luxurious than this one...Now and then, I'd feel odd, and ask people whether this was...well, real? Of course it's real, and you can stay here, as long as you want...Half-awake, I'd snuggle into my stadium blanket, and smile, feeling home, home...I began to think that I'd one day just cross over for real...

Then Housekeeping woke me, and I'd be drowning in sweat.

But we were, as I said, running short of money.

My mother, each week, would shake her grey head a little more...isn't there anything to be done? Maybe it's you....And one fine evening, I cracked. Here is, formatted as well as I can, what I wrote:

I am an older lady, 46, who's interested in rebuilding her life. I'm clean, quiet, and easy-going, a great cook and housekeeper. The rent, etc. would be paid for with a small trust fund, so it would always be there. I'm a professional writer, I'll also (probably) be going off to some courses this Winter. Immediate? No problem! teleny2@xxxx.com, or call me at 415-xxxx. --

OK, the gloves are off here. I'm sick of being jerked around by people who answer and then tell me a week later that "their boyfriend is taking the room" or "someone else had it first". I'm running out of money and time: I've been at this for six months, I can't stay with my mother and all my friends are out of town. The "wonderful, understanding" people from (name your favorite social service agency) all refer me to Columbus House, since there IS no "battered woman's refuge" anymore, and there ARE no subsidized housing units left. Even so, the place is on triple-overflow, noisy, dangerous to white middle-class ladies such as myself, and no, you don't lounge around reading and taking classes, there are none. I'm not crazy, I'm not on methadone, I'm childless, and I'm white, therefore there's no "program" I can be put into. Even so, statistics show I'd have to wait seven years before being placed anywhere.

So I need a room, fast. I can pay five hundred a month, plus utilities. I don't own any animals right now. I'll take anything with heat, and a floor. Please reply. yes -- cats are OK - purrr

this is in or around New Haven

no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

And a reply came. Please come and see my space. I work for the cable company.

The room is small, but very warm. He's Black, very quiet, and has a white girlfriend, a nurse, who's happy I'm here ("He has so few people to talk to.") There is a large tree, of indeterminate species, with nubby twigs and full buds, outside the front window, and a view of the harbor through its branches. There are monk parrot nests outside, and I can hear them chatting with each other during the day. It is a very beautiful place.

Unfortunately, there is still a problem. My mother. She's like this when I move, since everytime I go somewhere, all she can feel is that one day, I'll move and go elsewhere, and that will be the end of us. So she's cutting off pretty much all money until the end of the year, as well as being paranoid, critical, provocative, instigational...according to her, I'm a basket case.

Other than that, I don't feel that way. I feel very...blank, and I've been getting things in order, as well as I may, always repeating to myself the Confuscian maxim that "after the war is over, there comes time to administer the colony", which in this case, happens to mean furnishing my room, dealing with Marcus the Mystery Man, getting healthier and making plans to get a job. (I'm still drinking, but not as much. My theory is that I'll probably stabilize as a publicly moderate, though sensual-in-private voluptuary. As I should be.) I'm feeling hopeful and organized, and very happy.

So, here I come to the last part of my account: I'd like to thank you, with personally signed Christmas cards to each and everyone who pmails me. You've all been such a great help. So, I'll be taking orders until Friday, to be recieved during the Twelve Days of Christmas. The cards will be either UNICEF or St. Gregory Society Renaissance reproductions and don't worry about the cost, it's taken care of.OK?

Of course, housewarming gifts would also be welcome...at least until Mom snaps out of it....and I wonder whether I'll ever drink at Archie Moore's again....mutter, mutter....

DUDES 1

So, the other day some Dudes came unto me and quoth, what nodes doth epitomize what you liketh most on E2, Dude?

And I spake unto them in return, fuck off, Dudes, I don’t play that popularity game. I have my image as a crank and a sociopath to uphold. Yea, verily. Plus that wasn’t what Lord Brawl meant in his editor log anyway.

But Dudes did insist that the “list” nodes did serve a purpose that was both good for the People and pleasing in the eyes of Wakan tanka, in that they didst open some other Dudes’ eyes to nodes that they didst not hitherfore know about, and that you, Dude (meaning me), are the apex of what we wouldst like to hear or somesuch generally pleasing comments, and thusly and with several servings of pot brownies besides they didst convince me that I ought to write about whatever it was that they asked me way back in the first paragraph. And I spake yeah, Dudes, I’ll do it. Tomorrow, maybe.

So here’s a brief sketch of a surface impression of a partial list of the tip of the iceberg:

Fifteen Elvish Ways to Die: you think you’re funny? You ain’t funny. This is funny. Read it out loud. Do not attempt to imitate. Recall at leisure, and get odd looks from co-workers who distrust people randomly smiling in their cubicles.

So This One-Legged Man Walks into a Bar: if I was the man in charge of E2 and I was told to shut down the site, nuke every account, sow the ground with salt and leave only one node up to mark the spot where this asylum once stood, “One-Legged Man” would be the node. These characters are real people. The situation is realistically imagined and vividly described. The prose is elegant, with dialogue that is earthy but sincere, without trying to impress you with its earthiness. The node links to one node that taught me something interesting about a subject I had never deigned to learn about. And the last line comes at you somewhat like a subway train, in that you know it’s there long before you see it and it still knocks your boots off.

INFP by JohnnyGoodyear: I could be the guy in this writeup, if I had led his life and had his eye for detail, his maturity, his willingness to expose himself, and a machete. Note: it's distinctly possible that this is fiction. The above still stands.

I Bought a Mac: I have never read anything else that uses so much technical jargon and has so much feeling in it. My fellow geeks, we are human.

What the World Wants to Know about Newts: god damn this is funny. I wish I could believe it was all made up.

It was a dangerous, stupid infraction and I deserve the ticket by Chras4: lots of people think the world wants to know about their pain. Very few of them can write well enough to make the world care. I will take one ticket to wherever this person wants to take me.

Crown-Of-Thorns starfish by dancaboulet: it’s factual, and it covers everything from introductions to arcane detail. Written by a guy who knows exactly what he’s talking about and why it is interesting.



DUDES 2

And Dudes didst belabour the point and ask me furtherlike, what nodes of your own are you mostly pleased with?

And I furrowed my brow as if like in great displeasure, but verily we all know how much Dude likes to talk about his own shit, so here:

Kosher: sometimes you really need to have all the information in one place. Before I tackled this one, the Kosher node was an unorganised conglomerate of snippets of information, along with some misinformation. There was no overview at all for the subject, which is one of the most fundamental concepts in Judaism. A high school student looking for information on kashrut for his homework would have found little to help him here. I wanted my w/u to cover the whole shebang. Looking back at it reminds me that I do need to edit it and incorporate new information that I’ve discovered, but as it stands I think it does the job some good.

The History of Science Fiction: another one that I put bucketloads of sweat into. I think it’s my longest factual, and it took a hellish long time to research and write. Honestly I think I could have covered the newer stuff better, and the cyberpunk section looks mighty sparse, but I’ll leave that newfangled stuff for somebody else to cover in the next installment.

Report from the bombing of Dizengoff Centre: look at the dates. Do the math. That’s how long I spent trying to write this node. I’ve probably written a couple million words while trying to find the ones that described this shit. The actual writing finally came out in a single night, with next to no editing. Having gotten it out, I would like to delete it, but I cannot because these are some of the truest things I’ve ever written. I am naked on this screen.

She’s So Cute: I don’t care how many times I have to say it. We ain’t free of this bullshit yet.



DUDES 3

And Dudes spake once more, questioning me so: “what nodes would you send a new noder to in order to learn how to write for E2?”

And thisly was my reply: “Dudes, know ye that there is no correct answer to that question. For verily hath each and everylike noder hir own style, and it profits ye not to attempt to write like them, and their snares are ever encircled by other snares and suchlike. And Dudes, I would truly hate to tell ye, “write like So-and-So and that other one” and have to downvote ye because ye attempted to mimic that style and failed like miserable sods. For I cannot be Borges, for I hablo no Espanol and have never worked in a library or thought quite so much about labyrinths, and neither can Michael Crichton be that chick that writes all the upmarket romance books my wife likes so much, for the inestimable Crichton cannot write bosoms for shit. Mainstreamish science fiction thrillers yes, bosoms no. Ye gotta find your niche, Dudes.”

There are no sekrit formulas. There are no cheat codes. Aside from my comments on the above nodes, all I can offer is a few guiding concepts that you’ve probably heard before:

Your life is more interesting than you thought, but not for the reasons you thought it was. Look at your life – no, closer. What have you done that nobody else has? Not the first true love abandoning you and the being misunderstood as a child, everybody’s done that. Nobody wants to hear about it, or about how you nearly committed suicide in high school and dared to break the invisible barriers in college, or how sucky it is to get old. Being human, we know these things. Regardless, you ARE a unique and beautiful snowflake. You may, from a distance, look like all the other snowflakes, but you aren’t. Find out why and let us know.

It is easiest to start out writing factuals. It is also easiest to start out writing daylogs. It is also easiest to start out writing fiction, and poetry. Pick a field you like. The only reason factuals seem easier to write is that anybody who has graduated from middle school has had some practice writing them. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: most high school homework assignments are merely average, and so are most factual writeups. Writing good factuals is as hard as writing good fiction, except you haven’t had as much practice at the fiction. Start now.

Expect rejection. Expect to have to learn more. Expect hurt feelings. Do not despair.



SOME BLACKFOOT DUDE:

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. – the last words of Crowfoot, April 1890.

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