Archives for: February 2009
The things people need to see.
Thursday, February 26th 2009
The second episode of my sitcom is going to introduce all of the lesser characters. We don't get to meet them in the first episode because people need to focus on Ric and his family before they start taking on all these other people and their situations. People can only feel so much at a time.
David will get introduced properly. He'll be in the first episode as the narrator but he'll only be in the background. He's the neighbour's kid in the show, just like he is in real life, and also just like in real life he sees everything and takes notice. He also thinks about what he's seen, through meditation. Every episode starts and ends with David meditating on what's been going on with Ric, which will make the show a lot more spiritual than most other shows. David's parents in the show are actually Sarah's Great-Uncle and his wife. David's parents in real life weren't nearly as old as Sarah's Great-Uncle and they were a lot louder. I heard David's dad shouting quite a lot back when he lived here. Once he shouted at the landlord and the landlord didn't know what to do. It turned out okay though. David's dad apologised. I heard the whole thing from my room.
So the Great-Uncle is Ric's neighbour, and they make a good team because the Great-Uncle was an astronaut too, only he never went into space. He didn't want to take the risk. He helps Ric adjust back into life on Earth. They talk over the garden fence in almost every episode. He's often the one who distracts Ric from his roll-up at the start of the episode. It would go like this:
RIC lies on his folding-back lawn chair. He has a tall glass of guava juice on the little table next to him. A ROLL-UP is in his hand. He is just about to light it when up pops GREAT-UNCLE from behind the fence.
UNCLE: Heya Ric!
RIC: Oh! Great-Uncle! You scared me there.
UNCLE: Sorry about that, but it's an emergency.
RIC: An emergency?
UNCLE: Yeah, I've just gotta know one thing.
RIC: What's that?
UNCLE: Why does nobody ever look good on their driver's license?
There's a pause for a laugh because everyone will realise that it wasn't really an emergency and that the Great-Uncle was just teasing. They'll go on like that for a while across the garden fence, swapping jokes and fake-worries, and then the Great-Uncle will call Ric over to see his latest creation. Great-Uncle's been working on a statue, you see, but the joke is that the statue is completely different in every episode. Great-Uncle can't make up his mind about what the statue is going to be! Sometimes his statues will feature into the plot a little bit, like he'll make a naked lady statue and then leaves it out in the garden (but you only see the back of it) and everyone sees it and some people get upset and then some of David's friends come and spraypaint his door. Great-Uncle's wife will be in it too. She's quite wise because she's got the NASA console that answers questions. She's always solving problems and helping people out, but she's not afraid to be sassy and point out people's faults in a funny way.
The landlord says that when he leaves forever with Celene and the grocery kid to Greyton, he's going to send me a little bit of money each month so I can get by. I'm going to ask him to instead give it all to me at once so I can start my television company. Sarah says she has a friend who is really into photography. I could hire her to do the cameras. Some of the local kids could be the actors. You can make people look old with make-up.
I think it's going to be a pretty good sitcom.
The way it is for sharks
Tuesday, February 24th 2009
Sarah will be all alone in her house-sitting house now. Well, not alone. There'll be the chores to do. And the dogs.
She'd better be careful, really. Dogs are good at knowing the score. They know that the people who are usually on top are away and that they are now the leaders of the house. They are going to try and get in all the best rooms and sleep in the best beds. They are going to try and put the TV in their room and tie up the phone for ninety percent of the evening to show their dominance. And if they win, if you let them jump up at you to lick your face or let them lean weird against you even once, they will win forever and they will not let you forget.
Whenever you see the grocery kid's dogs they will tell you how they won their battle against him. They practically scream it at you in dance. They can't just be cool with this one victory they scored over this one guy who happened to live in their house, which probably happened years ago. No, they have to then try to take over everyone that he knows too. People do this all the time. Whenever I see the grocery kid's dogs (which hasn't actually been in years, but still,) I think of Clar and how she tries to dominate you as soon as she meets you. Only she doesn't jump up at you and try to lick your face – people don't do that, obviously – she uses sarcasm and this voice and she points out obvious things you said in front of the group, and she'll refuse to laugh when you say something funny.
People don't like to think of people behaving like this, but that's the way it is. That's why people and dogs get along so well, because they use the same tricks to get ahead and can't be cool with defeating just the people they needed to defeat when they were young. Sharks aren't like that at all. A shark could go one hundred, two hundred years without talking to anyone and still be fine, so long as there is food.
When I got married to Celene or to the landlord's mother, I don't think I was thinking much like a shark in those particular stages of my life. I was going along with the dog way of doing things. I don't think it was natural of me to do that and I think that might have a lot to do with why the marriages didn't last too long, relatively. I wouldn't try and do it again. I wouldn't marry Sarah or even Nikky if it came right down to it. I'm not like the grocery kid's dogs or like Clar. I won't try to control you then tell all your friends how I won against you whenever they came round. I'll love you, and it will be real, but I'll know the whole time that it won't be long before I'm alone again. Only it will hurt you more than it will hurt me. I'm sorry, that's just the way it is for sharks.
Even the sandwich girl got a computer console.
Monday, February 23rd 2009
“Morning your wife,”
“Morning Sarah. Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, fine thank you,” said Sarah. She'd slept in the spare room with the dogs but she didn't mind the dogs. These ones were calm and understood what you said and behaved like people – good people – not like the dogs that the grocery kid uses. David poked his head around the door. Late as usual!
“Morning Sarah!” he said and he looked like such a little prince. But in a bad way.
“David!” said Sarah. She's shocked by his being there. It isn't usual. “Where did you come from?”
“Oh, just the attic. I've been living up there the whole time.”
“That's why you haven't been answering Sharky's e-mails,” said Sarah.
“Well you should you know. He's so worried. Shame, David – you shouldn't do that to him.”
“Okay I will. Now what's for breakfast? I'm starving!” So Sarah went to go make pancakes, leaving David to take his place at the dining table next to her Great-Uncle, who was using most of the table to work on the statue he was making out of cold steel.
“David, I'm old and past it. All I have left is this statue I'm making.” said Sarah's Great-Uncle as he shaped the metal with his hands.
“No you aren't, Great-Uncle,” said David. “Don't talk like that to me, I'm young.”
“I am, it's my truth. I'm just a human and that's why I can't be alone. That's why I married my wife,” he said. His wife nodded.
“I was the lady who made the sandwiches at NASA,” she said to David. “There were just twelve of us then. When the astronauts went up, you'd see their faces everywhere. Every day of the week would belong to one of them. Monday was for Buzz Aldrin, Tuesday was for Alan Shepard and so on. We had photos of the hands and chests taped to our consoles so that we would know them intimately.”
“Please go on,” said David politely. She did.
“When they came back, we never got to see them again. They were bundled in and out of the building through NASA's back entrance, away from our sight. Their faces were a lie we never allowed to tell. They took all the posters down, and the wall-clocks and desk calenders. When we saw them on TV, we knew that they had hired actors. It's obvious to me now that they came back different and we were being spared the horror of their transformation. I'm glad -you- never went up there, Great-Uncle.”
“I was much safer down here, wife. You can't lose yourself here on the ground. People will always remind you who you are. You just need to look at them and they'll tell you.”
“Would you like some tea, Great-Uncle?” said Sarah. She had brought in some tea on a tray. Yes, she had heard everything.
“How many cups of tea do I have left before I die?” he said. Sarah sat down at the wife's old NASA computer console and did some sums. After a while, a little slip of paper came out of the slot and Sarah read it.
“Ten,” she said.
“Let me think about it.”
Sarah experienced work
Thursday, February 19th 2009
So Sarah's week ran out on Sunday. I didn't write about it as it was happening because she was on the computer most of the time and when she left at night I had to spend the whole time till bed catching up with all my website. It's kind of exhausting being with someone all day, every day. Whenever you laugh at something you've read or even just thought about, they want to know what's funny. Whenever you sigh or groan or make any kind of sound like that, they want to know what's wrong or whether you want some tea. But no, those are just the sounds I make.
It went like this: Sarah would be on Facebook, checking her messages while I watched TV or thought about my sitcom or working on my statue. I'm nearly done on the other foot now. Sometimes, @groombridge would show up and want to chat or I'd have something I wanted to check or look up and Sarah would get up and go make some tea or lunch or just a snack. One or two times, she would pretend to be me when @groombridge came to chat and then she'd play little jokes on him. She'd say that I was just about to move to America or that I was just about to go on TV. She doesn't know that one day I really will move to America. @groombridge didn't get the jokes at first so I had to start typing and explain it to him.
She made me a lot of snacks – more than I'd usually make for myself on a normal day. We used up almost all the food she'd bought on Monday and brought it all down to sauces and rice. I don't eat rice because I don't know how to make it and Sarah left before she could do it. I'm pretty sure that the landlord can do it though. I will ask him when the time is right.
This week she's been staying with her great uncle and his wife for some more work experience. They're really old, like over eighty old, and there's two of them so it will probably be a lot harder. Next week she's housesitting for a friend of her mother's. It's like doing caring but it's just the house you have to look after. It's a good way to get used to all the housework and cleaning, says Sarah. You get lists of things that have to be done every day. She has to water plants and she has to feed two dogs. I don't think I'm cool with dogs. The grocery kid has a few of them. I don't let him bring them around here.
So Sarah's on her career path now. Soon she'll be in England and caring for people and making them snacks and asking them if they want some tea. I won't be in England but that's okay. I'm a shark, we're made to be alone. It keeps happening to us but we can just keeping getting on with our thing.
I finished that game with the robot. The end wasn't anything special. There was a big guy I had to fight but by then my towers were so great that it really wasn't very hard to deal with. After that it just told me to look out for more games from the people who made that game. Yeah, thanks. Why can't the game I played just go on for longer?
Food is the most important part of your day
Tuesday, February 10th 2009
Sarah came in earlier today, at about mid-day. She had lots of shopping bags. She didn't put them on the ground, she put them on the counter where it was easier for me to get to them. I didn't have to bend over to pick them up. These shopping bags were different from the usual shopping bags. They were thicker and had more colours. The food inside was different too. It all looked the same as each other.
“Food is the most important thing in the world, Sharky. You can't live your life eating bad food,” said Sarah. I agreed with her. If you think about it, a huge percentage of your life is spent eating food. If you have bad food then you have a bad life. “I bought organic stuff where I could, but everything's vegetarian and I eat most of it so I know it's good.” We had a lot of fun putting it all away into the cupboards. Sarah wanted to throw my old food away but I'm not ready for that yet. I can still eat it when she's not around. Then she showed me the receipt for it. “I used my mom's card to pay for it but I promised her I'd pay her back by, like, the end of today.” I didn't understand the receipt. I thought it was maybe a typo or an error but I took it into my room and added up all the prices and it still came out as the same total. I gave Sarah the R100 I had for pizza on Friday and the R10 I had stored up for a tip.
“That's all I'm allowed,” I said.
“Sharky, that's not enough. We need more.”
“I don't keep the money any more,” I said. I think things were better back when I did used to handle the money. Stuff was cheaper, too.
“Oh Sharky, what are we going to do?”
“I don't know!” I said. I really didn't. I didn't want Sarah to get in trouble with her mom.
“My mom's going to be so angry!” she said and I felt even worse.
“Can't we take it back to the shop?” I said. The grocery kid has taken things back to the shop before. Sometimes he buys the wrong things.
“No, we can't take it back to the shop!” she said. I've never felt more awful. I looked around at the cupboards full of food that Sarah's mom bought but didn't want. I thought of how strange it all looked in its packaging. I thought of Sarah's mom just tearing the packaging apart and ruining the food because she didn't want it. “Where's your money, who keeps your money?” she said.
“The landlord,” I said, quietly. She calmed down when I said that. She knows that the landlord is cool.
So then she brought the landlord up here and she told him the whole story. He looked at me with his arms folded.
“That's a lot of money for some food,” he said.
“Food is the most important thing in the world,” I said.
“Can't you just take it back to the shop?” he said.
“No,” I said.
“Please,” said Sarah, “He eats so badly. I just want to do this thing for him. The landlord sighed. It was a good sign, I knew. It meant that he was giving up. He always gives up when there are enough people looking at him hard. He went upstairs and came back with the money for Sarah.
“Oh hey, I thought you were going to write a cheque. That's a lot of cash!” she said when she got it.
“I went to the bank today,” he said. He's such a liar. I would have heard if he'd left the building.
Afterwards, Sarah was making me a new lunch with all the new foods. She wasn't upset any more. Everything was back to normal, except the foods, but that was the good part.
“Hey Sarah,” I said while she was at the stove. I was working a bit on my statue but my mind was on other things. “Don't tell Nikky that I couldn't pay, okay?”
“Just don't tell Nikky about this.” She didn't say anything for a while. She was chopping vegetables.
“Okay,” she said. I was glad she said that.
The food was pretty good.
I got a message this morning that promised a week of pure love.
Monday, February 9th 2009
I woke up and I could tell that today was going to be something. I got out of bed and smoked a cigarette (not a roll-up, unfortunately. I'm still learning how to do them,) and thought hard about what might be coming. I concentrated on the spot where David used to be and I remembered that I'd got a call on my phone a while before I'd gotten up. I put my cigarettes back in their place in the box and hid the box in the cupboard under some things. I'm not scared of anyone finding the cigarettes and getting me in trouble any more – I'm past that as a person – but I just like to have everything in its place. I'd hate it if there were boxes of cigarettes lying about everywhere.
So I checked my messages and in my messages there was a message from Sarah. I listened to it and the message told me some things I had to know. Nikki (Nicole)'s parents were back from holiday, she wasn't staying with Sarah any more and Sarah wanted to start her work experience here with me! Today! The message was already three hours old and I hoped so much that there was still time to tell her to come round and that she hadn't forgotten me and gone on to do something wonderful and adventurous with someone else. I called her up on my phone and she hadn't made any plans – she was just watching a TV show about doctors at her house. She said she'd be over. I quickly ran into the bathroom and had a shower and brushed my teeth. I boiled the kettle because I knew she'd want some tea when she came over. I got so worked up that I decided to have another cigarette but I smoked it too fast so I didn't enjoy it and then I got worried that my breath smelled and that I smelled so I had another shower and brushed my teeth again and then I realised that the kettle had gone cold so I turned it back on and waited. When it had boiled a few more times I called Sarah's phone to check if we were still on.
“I'm coming now Sharky, let me just have a shower quick,” she said. I said okay then I relaxed. I boiled the kettle a few more times then tried to watch TV, but it was just the news and some weird movie about dreams so I stopped. I ended up playing that game on the internet with the robot and the tree. This time I even made it past all the flying guys. After that, flying guys became no big deal. They were just one more thing that could come at you. Life is full of things that seem hard at first but then become just one of those things. War is probably like that in some countries. Or being in jail.
Sarah came over at two thirty. She caught me at a bad time because I was further in my game than I ever had been before and I'd forgotten to boil the kettle for a while so the water was basically cold and useless. I put the game on 'pause,' but I couldn't stop thinking about how far I was and how the flying guys weren't this big barrier than held me back any more. Sarah put the kettle back on and she acted big and excited about her first day at work experience. She told me about how many rich, old people need feeding and looking after in England and how they pay you so much English money to stay with them and just be there, and how the English money is worth so much money. You pay these agencies to set you up with old people and they move you around like a samurai ordering his peasants, assigning you old people who you have to touch with your youth and your life. She had all these booklets that told her the secrets of old people.
“There are three kinds of infections,” she said, reading some of the secrets aloud. “Bacterial, fungal and viral.”
“Which is the worst?” I asked. She looked over her notes. She'd highlighted a lot of things in yellow.
“It doesn't say,”
“I don't think sharks get any of those,” I said helpfully. “So you don't have to worry.”
“You might have to fake getting sick,” she said, flipping her pages, “So I can practice.” The way she said it made it out to be something I'd want to do but I wasn't so sure. Practicing you're sick is a good way to get good at being sick for real. I don't want to give my body any ideas.
“You don't have to worry,” I said again and she smiled.
“Let's get this party started, okay?” she said. She was talking about the work experience. We didn't really have a party. “I'll make you some tea.” and then she did. She had to boil the kettle again because, hey, water doesn't stay hot forever, but she did that and then we had tea.
“Can I check my Facebook quick?” she said as soon as I took my first sip of tea. I don't use Facebook. You can't do anything if you don't have a page on there and they won't let me make one. They say that my name is fake but it isn't. So I sat for a while and watched Sarah do her thing. She has so many friends and they've all got something to say or show her. Nikki is on there. David is on there. I even saw Moe, but apparently he never comes on or updates his status. One of her friends was sad, so she wrote something nice. One of her friends wanted to meet up and do something fun that they haven't done in a while, maybe a picnic at Kirstenbosch. She said, yes! Soon! But not now. She's on work experience. Then she fed her pets and built a recycling centre in her town. Then she spent a long long time writing twenty five things about herself because a friend tagged her so she had to do it.
I got pretty tired at some point, I think around Thing About Sarah 14, so I lay back on my bed and thought about my statue some more. When I woke up my tea was cold. Cold tea is disgusting. I asked for Sarah and Sarah asked me how I was. I said I was hungry and I was. I hadn't eaten in hours.
“I'll make you something to eat Sharky, you don't worry about a thing. Just stay there and let me take care of you.” I did what she said and she went into the kitchen. I really wanted to get back to my robot game and find out what else was on the upper levels but I thought that maybe Sarah wouldn't want me to be doing that. It would be hard for her to care for me if I was off fighting robots. Instead I sat up and tried to meditate but I couldn't stop thinking about the game. That didn't go on for very long though because Sarah didn't know where everything is kept in the kitchen and she said that she couldn't find any food. I pointed it out to her.
“Yuck, this is was you eat?” she said. I nodded. “This is all tinned stuff.” I nodded again. I looked at the cupboards. Not all of it was in tins. There was some custard and flour and tomato sauce. “What's this? Franks in spaghetti hoops? Oh my god!” she said, holding up the tin she was talking about.
“You have to take the sausage bits out first because I don't eat meat,” I explained.
“Sharky, I'm going to get you some nice food,” she said. “I'm taking -care- of you now.” I got down and looked hard in my cupboard at my food. I guess a lot of it isn't very good. I've never thought of it as good or bad before – it's just my food. That's the magic of Sarah. She knows whether things are good or bad.
“Can I have the spaghetti hoops, please?” I asked her. “Two tins.”
“Okay, Sharky,” she said.
“But you have to take the sausages out first,”
“I know. I'll do that.”
“Are you going to stay?”
“Not for much longer. It's getting dark.”
While she made the spaghetti hoops I went back to my robot game but she'd closed it by accident.
I can make roll-ups now.
Sunday, February 8th 2009
The grocery kid brought a lot more masking tape with him today. He saw that I hadn't used up all the masking tape he'd bought last week and then he got hard to deal with.
“You mean to say that I brought these bloody rolls of tape with me all the way from the shop and you didn't even tell me?”
“Don't pressure me. I've got a lot going on right now,” I said. He seemed to get taller. Almost as tall as me.
“What have you got going on?” he said. “Just tell me what they are, quickly.” I didn't get the chance to tell him. “You don't do anything. All day you sit in here on your bloody bum and moan and complain and do nothing. Not one thing. The rest of us all've got to go out there and work, all our lives, just so you can stay in here and play with your f-ing tape and your f-ing bottles and your f-ing computer screen.” He was getting wild and dangerous and trying to go for my weak spots so I tried to change the subject. You know, bring it down a notch.
“Whatever happened to your friend?” I said.
“What?” he stopped dead.
“Your friend, the play director. I was thinking about him the other day. He was always round here.”
“He hanged himself in prison,” his voice was hard and sharp. “You knew that. You -knew- that. I don't -believe- you said that.”
“I'd never be able to hang myself. My neck's too big for the rope.” I said, playing around to keep the conversation going, but he ran out the room.
“This is what my life came to!” he said as he went. He pretended to say it to himself but he was saying it to me really. He wanted me to feel bad about his friend even though he's the one who should feel bad. He liked it better when he was trying to get my weak spots.
I told you he was a jerk.
Knocking on doors.
Thursday, February 5th 2009
I've noticed that I write a lot of my blogs on a Wednesday. Guys, this is not intentional. I've never been one of those people who attaches a lot of significance to a day and then does the same thing on that one day forever, or for a long time, at least. Except maybe Friday because that's usually pizza day and it's got all kinds of associations with good food and good people. None of the pizza punks have said anything interesting, by the way. I would have written it if they had. I'm just back in the old pattern of not talking to them when they knock on the door and then picking up the pizza when they've gone. It's a system that works.
The landlord comes over almost every day, but I've said that before. He never used to come over on Sunday because he had to go to church. I've not been to a church in a lot of years. I'm from another planet so I don't have to go. I remember it being pretty boring though. Sundays are also the day that the grocery kid comes around and drops off my food, household things and luxury items for the week. He hardly ever comes round otherwise, even though he lives just down the road. Back when he was the landlord and the landlord was just a kid, we used to hang out quite a lot. He would bring his theatre director friend in too and we'd put on records and I'd show them my new paintings if I had any and they'd tell me what was up with their plays. The grocery kid would write the plays and his friend would direct them but they weren't very good. They were all about how bad the government was and there were never any jokes or interesting characters that you could relate to. But it was still nice to hear them talk about it because there was always something going on and lots of gossip and it felt like progress. Often they'd have to stop the plays or do them somewhere else because people complained about them. They snuck me into one once and I didn't see much to complain about other than that it was really boring. After a while, they said that the police kept coming round their house and then the director friend started acting really weird and cried all the time then he died. I didn't see him die, I just heard about it later. No one came over to visit me for days and days when that happened. I ran out of food and household things and in the night I ran down into the street, trying to find the grocery kid's friend's house. I'd be more calm about it these days but I remember being pretty out of it. I got lost out in the street and eventually found my way back to the building and knocked on the landlord's mother's door and she was in and made me something to eat. After that, the grocery kid and I decided it was best if he stopped being my landlord and he moved into his friend's old house. I tried being the landlord for a while but that didn't work out.
Mondays are the days when I put the garbage out. I never used to do this – the landlord did it for me – but nowadays I do it nearly every time. It's like a special project or a secret mission. I get to go outside when everyone's in bed and it is so exciting and scary because anything could happen in the dark and my blood trembles every time and I always feel like running back up the stairs as fast as I can. I never do though because I'm supposed to be quiet when I go out. I wouldn't want to wake anyone. Being woken up is probably one of the worse things I know. Once, while taking out the garbage, I went to knock on the landlord's door as a joke but I set off the alarm and I must have woken up everyone. I felt so guilty when that happened. I kept thinking of all the people waking up in the dark and wondering if it was the end this time, if maybe the world had finally found a way to get inside and destroy them. The landlord knew it was me. I said that it wasn't, but it was.
So I guess I do have some special days. I never saw myself as the kind of person who would. It's good to make discoveries about yourself like that. I guess it's a lot like knocking on a door, only the door is yourself. Sometimes an alarm will go off, or sometimes your ex will make you some dinner and say it's going to be all right. Sometimes you'll keep knocking but no one will answer. Not today, the door seems to say. You just have to take the money and get out of there.
Fighting robot: Tell me everything.
Wednesday, February 4th 2009
The main bad thing with being a robot is that your entire life is fighting. Even when you're not actually fighting, you're preparing to do it soon. If I don't fight, other robots come out of nowhere and will kill my tree. I don't want that to happen because the tree is more than a tree. It's a metaphor. It's like this:
Tree = life = home = happiness = tree
I could live without my tree, sure. I'm a robot and robots don't specifically need trees, only rocket-fuel and somewhere to sleep. But because of the metaphors and the way metaphors relate to feelings, I can't imagine living in a world without my tree. It's as much a part of me as my robot hands or robot feet.
You might wonder why I got so attached to this tree in the first place. Aren't I probably from some futuristic robot city? They probably don't even have trees in places like that. Why did I come all this way and hang around this one tree that can't even move? Why don't I go back to my own kind? The answers to these questions are all emotional and real ones.
So every day I go out and I defend my tree from all these other robots who are trying to get at it. I can punch and kick and fight these robots, sure. I can do flips in the air that do a lot of damage. I've got combos that I can upgrade. But that's not enough. If you're serious about defending your tree, you've got to have a plan. You've got to build towers. Each tower is special – they've all got their own way of killing. You can't just use the same kind of tower over and over. You've got to be smart.
The towers are a metaphor too, I think. I build them and it takes time and effort and gold. The other robots can't build them. They weren't expecting to find all these towers here, they thought it would be a free ride to the tree. They underestimated me. They didn't know I could do towers.
The landlord came in this morning and mentioned over breakfast that everyone has to be out the building by June. This meant me, too.
“Do you expect anyone to fight you?”
“In June. When you throw the people out. What if they fight you?”
“Don't be silly, Shark.” he said and then we finished our breakfast.