Originally published in Willow Springs 77
From the author
Notes on “Schematic”
“Schematic” began as a short screenplay written for a class during my first year of college. I attended college in my hometown, so at the time, I was still living at my parents’ house. My dad had a collection of vintage pinball machines in the basement that I would go home and play whenever school got to be too stressful (like, if a boy talked to me, or if someone complimented my shoes). Other times, I would walk in the front door and hear my dad playing, the chimes of the game coming up through the floorboards. It’s an old house, so it was always a kind of haunting experience. At one point, the lights on one of the games weren’t functioning properly and my dad went around studying the schematic like a crazy person, trying to figure out how to fix it.
Last year, when I decided to rewrite “Schematic” as a short story, I was surprised to find that the words were already there. I didn’t have to think about it at all – they just came out of my pen. As someone who likes to ponder and revise, I was extremely suspicious of this process and put the story away for a while, just in case I was having some kind of lapse in judgement. But I was still happy with it when I looked at it later, so I sent it out. I wish this would happen again, but it would probably require black magic.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
I still listen to the same music that I did when I was thirteen: Radiohead, Oingo Boingo, David Bowie, Captain Beefheart—with the exception of Daft Punk, which I found later and, for two years now, has overtaken my life. It’s not that I haven’t found anything better, it’s just that I can’t stop listening long enough to search. My children are just as bad. Right now, they are obsessed with The Velvet Underground. The four-year-old likes the way Lou Reed sings, “I can’t stand it anymore,” —“ I key-Ant stand it any Mo-Ah Mo-Ah!” The two-year-old is fascinated by lines like, “Caught his hand in the door/ Dropped his teeth on the floor.” I understand this totally. Music was my introduction to the strangeness of words. I remember being five, trying to find out what the hell the lyrics to Bowie’s Life on Mars were about. I’m pretty sure that I became a writer just to take back some of the power those lyrics (and others) had over me.
Booze: I used to write for a wine and spirits magazine. People expect me to know what to order at a bar, but I don’t. I still don’t know what to order.
I have one tattoo. I want another. The problem is that I can’t decide if I actually want one, or just want the experience of getting one. It is a very succinct kind of pain—wholly satisfying. I would get a Jean de Bosschere illustration on the inside of my arm—the one where the guy with the tall hat is sawing the leg off a giant horse. It would be so cool.