Flann O’Brien | The Third Policeman, excerpt
When I awoke again it was later in the day and a small man was sitting beside me watching me. He was tricky and smoked a tricky pipe and his hand was quavery. His eyes were tricky also, probably from watching policemen. They were very unusual eyes. There was no palpable divergence in their alignment but they seemed to be incapable of giving a direct glance at anything that was straight, whether or not their curious incompatibility was suitable for looking at crooked things. I knew he was watching me only by the way his head was turned; I could not meet his eyes or challenge them. He was small and poorly dressed and on his head was a cloth cap of pale salmon color. He kept his head in my direction without speaking and I found his presence disquieting. I wondered how long he had been watching me before I awoke.
i got a weak body… can’t smoke, allergy… but i still enjoy my life ^_^
My last full day alive, the ninth of december, I am staggered hung-over. We had gone to the country, to this beautiful old pension made with yellow-clay and logs, half-hanok, half-log cabin, where they had all old garbage around to make it feel rustic and it did, even if the things were old rotary dial telephones left outside in the yard, it felt like in the country, in the past, they must have done that, put their rotary phones out in the yard.
We didn’t stay there, we went into town, into Gangneung, and to the beach, where we looked over the east sea, to the horizon, which the air was refracting and making jagged. The sun began to set and we started carousing in different size bars; the first was a self-serve bar with coolers of small bottled foreign beer, to indulge your beer pretension, to satisfy your expertise, the second was small and rickety, it was an old sagging american-style house, with a tiny door and liquor, and it had a club-ass name, bumpin? the third bar looked like it was stolen out of a grand hotel in the mountains of colorado and the barman had long hair and a leather cowboy hat and a woolen poncho.
Caroused, we shot soju with galbi and spent ourselves finally in a noraebang, nearly dead, we got separated and a taxi took us forever the wrong way out in the woods, and then back to the log-cabins. We fell on the floor at five something, the cracks where the wood and yellow soil weren’t flush sticking sunlight and darts of iced northern air on our tops, our backs burning, ondal and sleeping pads, but none of this is the point, it was my second-to-last night alive and the next day, the ninth of december, my last full day alive, we were all hung-over, staggered hung-over, and in the bus station, my “friends” (I use quotation marks to mean ‘so-called’ friends) can’t just eat a smoked egg and feel pitiful, they’ve got to go to lotteria, walking past a hamburger spot called winner’s, with checked tile up to the chest-line and a deli mirror and chairs like mcdonalds used to have, chipped spun-plastic shells, only they don’t swivel, to lotteria, while winner’s was empty and lonesome, lotteria, it’s too full, do I hope to not eat here? Not too-full enough, they find a place and I am too tired to quibble, who am I to demand anything, it’s only my last goddamn day alive, only I don’t want to milk my omen for anything but my own pleasure, not make people feel bad about it, only let them make jokes, I framed it as an omen! Shouldn’t that be enough to not hurt anybody, they don’t have to think about it, let me circulate in the thought of pure fate, fatalism. It embarrasses me terribly when someone says something kind about me as a result, I feel like (am) such an asshole for doing this to my mother I haven’t seen in two years, my brother, my sisters I haven’t seen for two years, my partner, my pa, people I promised I’d meet (again) someday, I just wanted to play with it, but I’m starting to see the joke of it works the other direction, nobody can get mad at me for making them feel sad, how could they believe it, it’s an omen—
In line, they order quickly, they know what food is here, before I’m ready I am asked, I can’t remember saying anything but surely it was my unpleasant, obsessive need to eat something I haven’t eaten before, I only noticed when they gave me the food, it was called an european frico burger. I thought it was a frisco burger for a while, but what would a european frisco burger be, it was frico, a frico, some deep-fried cheese, do italians do that? but surely not like this, fried sweet cheese, I mistook it for sweet-potato, that sweet, black olives and a yellow pepper and a soup of gross paste and a hamburger, I ate some of it, gross, gross, fucking gross. My partner reminded me of a tantrum I once threw, “why do you people think food has to taste good, what spoiled fucking shits, food is food, if you fuck up your dinner, eat your dinner and tomorrow hope you don’t fuck it up again, but how dare you demand that your food taste good”, I’m sure I attributed it to individualism somehow, but in the lotteria, I feel it would be ideologically noncompliant for me to throw this gross fucking food away, try better to not have ideologies is a good habit, a good practice, have practices not ideologies, but who is not too weary, after that kind of night, to not rely on your abstract rules for living? Each bite makes me more tired and not nauseous but wears me out, the others, my friends (nothing so-called about them, only a passing bitterness and only played at, I haven’t been really bitter in ages, only better and better in playing at it) tell me the lesson is to always order the normal burger but I don’t want to go to lotteria ever again so that lesson is useless for me. I am the lesson for them, I harden what they already know into fact, how could they forget after the frico european burger with fried cheese and black olives, gross, eat the food, time for the bus, we pass winner’s and there, a sense of entitlement, because I’m going to die, even if I’m not, the entitlement exists now, and I buy a hamburger and some fries and think of taking a picture of the spun-plastic chairs and I try to swivel them, this is when I find out they don’t, and think of the small things from america that I still miss, like these kind of chairs and I eat the hamburger and the french fries on the bus, and then sleep the hours on the bus, where the bus driver has turned the heat up to its highest setting, already dried out and over-smoked, still there’s no way to stay conscious, the afternoon of my last full day alive.
Justin Bieber | As Long As You Love Me
As long as you love me (love me, love me)
As long as you love me (love me, love me)
As long as you love me
We’re under pressure,
Seven billion people in the world trying to fit in
Keep it together,
Smile on your face even though your heart is frowning
But hey now, you know girl,
We both know it’s a cruel world
But I will take my chances
As long as you love me
We could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke
As long as you love me
I’ll be your platinum, I’ll be your silver, I’ll be your gold
As long as you love, love me, love me
As long as you love, love me, love me
Fyodor Dostoevsky | The Brothers Karamazov, excerpt
‘ … I was just sitting here, and you know what I was thinking to myself? Take away my belief in life, my trust in a good woman, destroy my faith in the order of things, convince me that, on the contrary, everything is just chaos, disordered, damned, and perhaps diabolical, drive me to despair at the thought of losing all earthly hope—I shall still want to go on living; having put this goblet to my lips, I shall not tear them away until I have drained it! Or rather, when I’m getting on for thirty, I shall probably throw the goblet away even if I haven’t emptied it, and leave for good… I don’t know where. But until I’m thirty, of one thing I’m sure, my youth will triumph over everything—all disillusion, all revulsion against life, everything. I’ve asked myself many times whether there’s a despair on earth that’s powerful enough to extinguish this frenzied, perhaps even indecent, thirst for life in me, and I decided apparently there was not, at least not before the age of thirty, and then I’ll no longer want it, or so it seems to me. Some feeble, sniveling moralists, especially poets, condemn this thirst for life as vile. This trait, this thirst for life, is in one sense, it’s true, a typical Karamazov trait—in spite of everything you have it too—but why should it be vile? A very strong centripetal force exists on our planet, Alyosha. I want to live, and I do live, although it’s against all logic. I may not believe in an ordered world, but the tiny, sticky leaf-buds of spring are dear to me, the blue sky is dear to me, one or two people are dear to me—though for the life of me I sometimes really wonder why—and so is the occasional human achievement, which perhaps I long ago ceased to believe in, but nevertheless still can’t help respecting from sheer nostalgia … I want to take a trip to Europe, Alyosha, and I shall leave straight from here. I know I shall be going to a graveyard, but the dearest, most beloved graveyard! The beloved departed lie there, each gravestone testifying to such splendid past lives, to such passionate, fervent belief in their achievements, in their truth, in their struggles and in their learning, that I know already that I shall fall to my knees and kiss those stones and weep over them—and all the time knowing in my heart that it has long been a graveyard and nothing more. And I shall weep, not from despair, but simply out of happiness that I’m shedding tears. I shall be intoxicated by my own emotions. I love the tiny, sticky spring leaves, the blue sky, there it is! There’s no sense in it, no logic, it’s instinct, it’s a gut feeling; one loves one’s first youthful impulses… Do you understand anything of my nonsense, Alyosha, or not?’
Kurt Vonnegut | Slaughterhouse-Five, excerpt
I looked through the Gideon Bible in my motel room for tales of great destruction. The sun was risen upon the Earth when Lot entered into Zo-ar, I read. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
So it goes.
Those were vile people in both those cities, as is well known. The World was better off without them.
And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.
So she was turned to a pillar of salt. So it goes.
John Steinbeck | Cannery Row, excerpt
A well-grown gopher took up residence in a thicket of mallow weeds in the vacant lot on Cannery Row. It was a perfect place. The deep green luscious mallows towered up crisp and rich, and as they matured their little cheeses hung down provocatively. The earth was perfect for a gopher-hole too, black and soft and yet with a little clay in it so that it didn’t crumble and the tunnels didn’t cave in. The gopher was fat and sleek and he had always plenty of food in his cheek pouches. His little ears were clean and well set and his eyes were as black as old-fashioned pin-heads and just about the same size. His digging hands were strong and the fur on his back was glossy brown and the fawn-coloured fur on his chest was incredibly soft and rich. He had long curving yellow teeth and a little short tail. Altogether he was a beautiful gopher and in the prime of his life.
John Steinbeck | Cannery Row, excerpt
Hazel got his name in as haphazard a way as his life was ever afterward. His worried mother had had seven children in eight years. Hazel was the eighth, and his mother became confused about his sex when he was born. She was tired and run down anyway from trying to feed and clothe seven children and their father. She had tried every possible way of making money — paper flowers, mushrooms at home, rabbits for meat and fur — while her husband from a canvas chair gave her every help his advice and reasoning and criticism could offer. She had a great aunt named Hazel who was reputed to carry life insurance. The eighth child was named Hazel before the mother got it through her head that Hazel was a boy and by that time she was used to the name and never bothered to change it. Hazel grew up — did four years in grammer school, four years in reform school, and didn’t learn anything in either place. Reform schools are supposed to teach viciousness and criminality but Hazel didn’t pay enough attention. He came out of reform school as innocent of viciousness as he was of fractions and long division. Hazel loved to hear conversation but he didn’t listen to words — just to the tone of conversation. He asked questions, not to hear the answers but simply to continue the flow. He was twenty-six — dark-haired and pleasant, strong, willing, and loyal. Quite often he went collecting with Doc and he was very good at it once he knew what was wanted. His fingers could creep like an octopus, could grab and hold like an anemone. He was sure-footed on the slippery rocks and he loved the hunt.
Dave Eggers | A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, excerpt
We’re best at the long high throws. Like when you take four or five steps and rip it— It’s almost like a shotput approach, the steps, four or five quick, one over the other, kind of sideways-like—and then you slash away with that fucker, it’s such a violent act, throwing that white thing, you’re first cradling it to your breast and then you whip that fucker as hard as you possibly can while keeping it level, keeping it straight, but otherwise with everything you can send with it you whip that fucker like it had blades on it and you wanted it to cut straight through that paperblue sky like a screen, rip through it and have it be blood and black space beyond. Oh I’m not going to fix you John, or any of you people. I tried about a million times to fix you, but it was so wrong for me to save you because I only wanted to eat you to make me stronger, I only wanted to devour all of you, I was a cancer—Oh but I do this for you. Don’t you see I do this all for you? I have done this all for you. I drink you to make you new. I gorge myself on all of you, and I stand, dripping, with fists, with heaving shoulders—I will look stupid, I will crawl, drenched in blood and shit, I will—Oh look at those birds on their stiff tiny legs and—There is nowhere I stop and you begin. I am exhausted. I stand before you millions, 47 million, 54, 32, whatever, you know what I mean, you people…and where is my lattice? I am not sure you are my lattice. Sometimes I know you are there and other times you are not there and sometimes when I’m in the shower with my hands scratching around my head I think of you all, all your millions of heads and legs, standing under the buildings shuffling them around, carrying them, taking them apart, making new buildings—And I am with you there, when you’re under that fucking building all centipedey and everything you motherfuckers—And then Toph catches his, he flexes with a fury, his muscles just these taut strings, his mouth open, teeth straight and pushing so hard against each other. And when I catch I do it, too, I flex and yell and vibrate—Can you see this? Goddamn, look at that fucking throw did you see Toph in the distance, blonde and perfect—It’s up there and rising, Jesus fucking Christ it’s small but then it stops at the very top, for a second blotting out the sun, and then its heart breaks and it falls—And it’s coming down and the sky is all white with the sun and the frisbee’s white too but I can see the thing, I can see that fucker I can make it out and I can run under it I know where that fucking thing is, I will run under and outrun that fucker and be under it and will be there to watch it float so slowly down, spinning floating down I beat you motherfucker and I am there as it drifts down and into my hands, my hands spread out, thumbs as wings, because I am there, ready to cradle it as it spins just for a second until it stops. I am there. I was there. Don’t you know that I am connected to you? Don’t you know that I’m trying to pump blood to you, that this is for you, that I hate you people, so many of you motherfuckers—When you sleep I want you never to wake up, so many of you I want you to just fucking sleep it away because I only want you to run under with me on this sand like Indians, if you’re going to fucking sleep all day fuck you motherfuckers oh when you’re all sleeping so many sleeping I am somewhere on some stupid rickety scaffolding and I’m trying to get your stupid fucking attention I’ve been trying to show you this, just been trying to show you this—What the fuck does it take to show you motherfuckers, what does it fucking take what do you want how much do you want because I am willing and I’ll stand before you and I’ll raise my arms and give you my chest and throat and wait, and I’ve been so old for so long, for you, for you, I want it fast and right through me—Oh do it, do it, you motherfuckers, do it you fuckers finally, finally, finally.
"Lies I’ve Told My 3 Year Old Recently
Trees talk to each other at night.
All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.
Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.
Tiny bears live in drain pipes.
If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky.
The moon and the sun had a fight a long time ago.
Everyone knows at least one secret language.
When nobody is looking, I can fly.
We are all held together by invisible threads.
Books get lonely too.
Sadness can be eaten.
I will always be there."
Raul Gutierrez, Lives I’ve Told My 3 Year Old Recently
"Naota: My brother, I mean - how much do you like him?
Mamimi: It’s hard.
Naota: You saw the sign at our bakery, that bread’s old.
Mamimi: Or like a panda with a mean face, or like sandals with pressure points drawn on them, or the smell of a blackboard eraser, or a Sunday morning where you wake up and it’s raining. Well, I like him more than hard bread."
I tell my mother
I’ve won the Nobel Prize.
Again? she says. Which
discipline this time?
It’s a little game
we play: I pretend
I’m somebody, she
pretends she isn’t dead.
The Committee Weighs In, Andrea Cohen
1. Spit it into her voice-mail, a little slurred and sounding like the shot whiskey you downed for courage. Feel as ashamed as you do walking into work in last night’s clothes. Wake up cringing for days, waiting for her to mention it.
2. Sigh it into her mouth, wedged in between teeth and tongues. Don’t even let your lips move when you say it, ever so lightly, into the air. Maybe it was just an exhalation of ecstasy.
3. Buy her flowers. Buy her chocolate. Buy her a teddy bear, because that’s what every romantic comedy has taught you. Take her out to a nice restaurant where neither of you feel comfortable and spend the whole night clearing your throat and tugging at your tie. Feel like your actions are more suited to a proposal than the simple confession of something you’ve always known.
4. Whisper it into her hair in the middle of the night, after you’ve counted the space between her breaths and are certain she’s asleep. Shut your eyes quickly when she shifts toward you in askance. Maybe you were just sleep whispering.
5. Blurt it out in the middle of an impromptu dance party in the kitchen, as clumsy as your two left feet. When time seems to freeze, hastily tack on “in that shirt” or “when you make your award-winning meatballs” or, if you are feeling particularly brave, “when we do this.” Resume dancing and pretend you don’t feel her eyes on you the rest of the night.
6. Write her a letter in which the amount of circumnavigating and angst could rival Mr. Darcy’s. Debate where to leave it all day – on her pillow? In her coat pocket? Throw it away in frustration, conveniently leaving it face up in the trashcan, her name scrawled on the front in your sloppy handwriting. Let her wonder if you meant it.
7. Wait until something terrible has happened and you can’t not tell her anymore. Wait until she almost gets hit by a car crossing Wabash against the light and after you are done cursing at the shit-for-brains cab drivers in this city, realize you are actually just terrified of living without her. Tell her with your hands shaking.
8. Say it deliberately, your tongue a springboard for every syllable. Over coffee, brushing your teeth side-by-side, as you turn off the light to go to sleep – it doesn’t matter where. Do not adorn it with extra words like “I think” or “I might.” Do not sigh heavily as if admitting it were a burden instead of the most joyous thing you’ve ever done. Look her in the eyes and pray, heart thumping wildly, that she will turn to you and say, “I love you too.”"
R. McKinley, “8 Ways To Say I Love You“