Anti-style

I slept six hours last night. My eyelids aren’t heavy but my face feels worn. I haven’t showered in a long time but I’m not ashamed. Bad hygiene has a storied literary past. Hemingway was a filthy slob and he turned out fine. All my clothes are dirty. They sit in a dank closet, growing mustier by the moment.

I’ve been avoiding laundry. It’s not that I’ve been busy. I’m barely working right now. I’m working around 4 hours a day but I don’t want to wash my clothes or my body. I don’t want to do anything that isn’t reading or writing. There’s not enough free time. No matter how short my working day is, it’s not short enough.

When I first started writing, I’d only write for an hour every three or four days. Sometimes I wouldn’t write for a week or two. There was no editing. I wouldn’t even look twice at what I had written. I wanted to get it out and then move on.

Now I sit down to write in the afternoon and I don’t leave my desk until dark. And I edit. It’s tempting to say editing is painful but I’m going to resist. Editing isn’t painful. It takes focus and time but it’s nothing like real physical or emotional pain. People who write need to calm down when they describe what they do.

Because I lose my days in writing I forget to wash my clothes or get food. When I realize I’m on the verge of passing out from hunger I walk down to the 24 hour subway with the bullet proof panes. This subway is in a former crack war wasteland, so the owners put up bullet proof glass to protect their migrant sandwich artists from getting riddled with bullets as they squirt mayo on turkey subs.

Meatball marinara footlong. Tastes like rubber and salt but it cements my stomach. They put material from exercise mats in the bread. At least I won’t go to sleep hungry.

I went to pick up a check from my old job today. It was tense because I quit without giving a notice. Well, I told them I wouldn’t be coming in the night I quit. Wrote an email saying if I found myself pulling decaf shots of espresso at 11 pm one more night I would lose my mind.

So I lost my job to save my sanity. Fair trade. But I left one last check behind. It was 75 dollars. Now I can eat and take the metro for another week. My pants have holes in the crotch but I can afford express sandwiches. There’s a roof over my head. Life isn’t bad.

I should be memorizing cocktail recipes. New shop opening soon. The restaurant industry is out of control. You need a doctorate to serve people now. They make you take tests. I should be grateful; I should be a good worker and learn the material.

They’re paying me to make cocktails and fine coffee. Tell a story about where the coffee comes from and how the climate influences taste. Give detailed tasting notes and guide the customer to the perfect cup. Work with sophisticated instruments to achieve perfect extraction. There’s also a food menu filled with precious dishes. More like ornaments than meals.

The science of coffee sends me to sleep. And I don’t care about cocktails. Or gazpacho blanco. I have the palette of a yahoo. But this is my job and I should do it well. I do believe that. So I’ll study and play my part until I leave this place. Soon enough.

It’s hard to concentrate because I’ve been thinking about writing. Have to keep experimenting to find the right voice. Sometimes bad writing inspires me. Makes me want to get better. Sometimes I hate eloquence and ornate prose and want to strip my style down. Fewer metaphors and adjectives. Create a mood and tell a story using only the essentials.

I wonder what that would look like.

Author: The Empty Subject

Born curmudgeon

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