Stories to Not Write

the continuing saga of stories I will never write:

Alternate History of Humanity on a Planet where there is no metal.

Alternate History of Humanity with a Bonobo-like culture.

The Same Five Minutes of the Same Person’s Trivial Activity Set Concurrently in 100 Parallel Universes.

Infinite Futile Time Loop Attempting A Different Hairstyle.

Jack and Jill Successfully Fetch a Pail of Water Without Incident.

Audiobook of Fourteen Bleating Lambs.

Man Gets Sued for Being Sued by Inventor of Lawsuits.

Boy Meets Girl.

A Memoir of Lukewarm Applause.

(thank you very much)





Live Your Best Life Now

It’s a good idea, isn’t it? “Live your best life now”. Live in the moment. Carpe Diem. Be Here Now. Just do it.

Mindfulness (as opposed to bovine acceptance) asks us to focus on the trivial details in front of us as a way to distract ourselves from ourselves.

Meditation asks us to pay no attention to the mind behind the curtain. You can have your thoughts, it tells us, as long as you ignore them.

To be happy, do the things that make you happy. Enough should be enough. Live the dream, be the dream.

It’s all good.

Today I read an article in The Atlantic entitled “what I learned from cancer” and I’m generally happy for the guy who got to finish writing his important book (if we all work on being antiracist all the time we can change the world) and has a little baby at home and is only 37 and is colon-cancer free after one year.

My reality is that it’s hard to focus on “being a creator” when you’re in cancer limbo, waiting for the next bad news, when treatments seem to be working so you’re adapting to the side effects and then the treatments stop working but you still have the side effects, when they remove one tumor only to have another one pop right up, when the fact is that advanced malignant cancer is a living thing that’s really good at doing what it does, adapting and working around whatever is thrown its way. What I’ve learned from cancer is that cancer never stops learning, and that I haven’t stopped learning from it either. The article’s past tense (“What I learned”) doesn’t sit well with me. You think you’re done? As Al Swearengen said on ‘Deadwood’, “making plans is a good way to make God laugh”.


I just finished the new translation of the Odyssey, by Emily Wilson. The Odyssey has always been one of my very favorite books and I loved this version. One thing I liked is how they often describe a person as god-like when they mean impressive or somehow striking, and it made me think about the few people in my life that I would ever have described as godlike. These are not the famous people I have seen, or the geniuses I’ve worked with at various tech companies, but more or less ordinary people I’ve known who somehow, by the way they carry themselves and by their inner nature, struck me as if they could have been inhabited by gods. I think of one person in particular, a woman I knew a long time ago named Olivia, who was inordinately graceful, and who carried herself so calmly and with such dignity that she seemed to me like a queen. In real life she was working as a retail clerk, as was I, in a bookstore, and she was something of a goth girl, into heavy metal and tattoos and at one point sadly hard drugs too, and was not the most brilliant person but artful, sweet and regal. She was my idea of what it might mean to be godlike.

They Live

Years ago I worked for a very Trump-like troll of a man – Lew Lengfeld, late owner of #Booksinc – a narcissistic sociopathic ignoramus who used to spout the darndest nonsense at weekly company meetings, also a spoiled rich brat.

I was managing one of his bookstores in San Francisco. One Christmas season he called me to to tell me that one of my employees had failed to ring up a sale, according to a buddy of his who snitched. Said it was ” a black guy”. I asked for a description because my several black employees all looked very different from one another. One was talk and bald. Another wore dreadlocks. Another was very short and thin. Lew said it doesn’t matter, just fire one of them.

He claimed that our night manager, a Chinese American man, was letting his friends come in with shopping carts and walking out with them full of expensive art books

When told of a long time employee’s cancer his first reaction was to ask who I was going to get to replace her.

Every week for five years I had to sit in a meeting with this turd bucket listening to his fatuous opinions on all sorts of world events.

It was his world and we were just living in it.

People like that. They live.