Saturday, October 16, 2010

Josh Grimmer: Before the Flood b/w State of the Union for October 16, 2010

And the rain came down, like they were hoping
The great grey belly in the sky split right open
They sing hand-in-hand to the river
The Lord will keep us forever

- Piney Gir, “Great Grey Belly”

Growing up in the New Englandy area, we got more than enough weather. Insane humidity. Snow for days on end. Buckets and buckets of rain – every year, without fail, on my birthday. We never really got event weather. Two of the three big weather memories I have come from age five or so. There was a night where we got what seemed like ten feet of snow. I went to bed, things were fine. I woke up and the snow was easily twice as high up as the very highest I could stretch my neck.

About six months later, Hurricane Bob came and knocked a bunch of trees down. This was expertly rhymed about by Meg earlier this week, so I feel like I don't need to talk about that. Nothing really notable happened, weather-wise, for another 15 or so years.

I had just failed out of Bridgewater State College (go Bears). I wanted to major in English until I realized I couldn't read. I have this horrible block in my brain that forces me to shut down the moment I open a book. It gets worse as I get older. It's amazing that I can stand to be around my wife, considering how she's always walking around with her face buried in a book. She's like Belle, except she's friends with two talking candelabras. Anyhow, after the English debacle, I switched my major to physics. I love physics – I'm too dumb to major in it. Oh, and I slept through class every day. That didn't help.

So I failed out of school. A lot of people do that. I moved back in with my parents. A lot of people do that. I lived in their basement and wanted to kill myself. A lot of people do that, too. After the initial adjustment period, life sort of rolled on like it does. Job to job, paycheck to paycheck. A basement full of crap – clothes, records, comic books, whatever. I wasn't really dating, I had a terrible car. I worked at Blockbuster Video (RIP) for the stunningly insulting rate of seven dollars an hour. I could feel another low coming along. It was one of those periods in my life – one of a few – where each morning I woke up felt like another loss. I was fighting with my parents every day, my mom especially. I never really got along with my mom. I was a terrible son, she was a terrible mom. We decided to just kind of live with that.

It all came to a head the night of the hurricane. Whatever hurricane it was - I honestly don't remember the name. Norma? Jerry? Partario? I forget. It doesn't matter. Really, it might not have even been a hurricane. All I know is it really started dumping down when I was at work. From 5pm to 1am, all it did was rain. Oppressive, painful rain. If you went outside, it hurt. I somehow made it home with my broken windshield wipers and dim headlights. I got in, took the hottest shower you could possibly take without melting, and went down to my bedroom.

By the time I got home, the water had risen to just beneath the lowest stair. The I fumbled around in the dark for the light switch. The whole basement was flooded. All my stuff - the aforementioned records, clothes, comic books – was destroyed. I sloshed over to my bed to find it soaked through. I pulled back the covers to find a family of mice, huddled up for warmth and hoping not to drown. I wasn't about to shoo them away, so I went back up to the living room and fell asleep on the couch.

Remember my mom? Well she shoved me off the couch at about 5am, asking me if I was on meth. If I had been on meth, I wouldn't have been asleep. That, as they say, was the last straw. I'm pretty sure that's what they say. I had spent years threatening to move away from home. After years of making excuses to stay, I finally had my excuse to leave. The flood might have been the best thing to ever happen to me.

I quit my job. I sold my car. I bought a plane ticket. Four days later I was in Los Angeles. I'm never going back.


Oh, hello there. Welcome to this week's State of the Union post. Yeah, it's a bit long. I decided to shove my weather essay in there, just to save space. Consider that space saved.

Weather week! What did you think? Favorites? Unfavorites? You probably shouldn't talk about your unfavorites, that's not what we're here for. I personally enjoyed Patrick's essay about tornado monsters and supercats. I really enjoyed weather week. The whole shebang.

Now, as for this week, it's buildings and food week. We've got a handful of essays, one from a new contributor, even. Who will it be? Well, obviously you don't know. It's a new person. Duh.

Deadlines! Friday, October 22 – I want your essays about Halloween. Costumes, candy, spookiness. Remember the time you dressed up like the Roadrunner three years in a row? You could write about that. Or the Ghostbusters costume you made all by yourself that turned out to not actually be what the Ghostbusters wore. Write about that, too.

The week after that, I think we're all going to write about moving. Why? No reason. Just figured it would be nice to write about. I just closed my eyes and thought “what is the first word that pops into my mind? Moving! Oh, moving. What a great topic!” That is the genesis of this incredibly random topic. I'm certainly not moving to North Hollywood next month, that's for certain. Wait, what? I am? Oh shit. Oh that explains everything. No wonder I'm full of box-related dread. Poor Peepopo won't know what hit her.

Here's my challenge to you, readers. Hell, writers too. Everyone within the sound of my voice – leave more comments. I know it's not just the writers who are reading this. Without getting too pretentious, I'd like each essay to open a discussion here. Get people talking about stuff. I dunno – listen, it's late. I just want people to talk to each other about the stuff that they write. Ask questions. Prod. Whatever. Is something unclear in the text? Ask about it. I feel like Meg and I do a pretty good job of editing this stuff, but sometimes ambiguity slips through.

Still looking for a logo, still looking for more writers, still looking for more readers. Tell your friends.

Oh, and one last thing – if it's playing in your town, go see Tamara Drewe. It was directed by Stephen Frears, who also did The Queen and High Fidelity. It's about a bunch of writers. I mean, it's about a bunch of stuff – love, infidelity, teenage obsession, nudity – but so much of it is about writing. And most of all, it's brilliant. Go check it out.

Grosses bises,

Josh Grimmer, Editor-in-Chief

Josh Grimmer lives in Hollywood with his wife and cat. He kinda sorta runs this blog, and has another one at Twitter him up at


  1. You, J. Grimstein, are a funny man. Here's something odd: the older I get, the more I meet people who write, and write beautifully, but DON'T READ. That is SO WEIRD to me. I grew up assuming writers were readers. There's a whole conversation we will have to have about this, in person, possibly in November, probably when Meg is in town and we drive up to see you.

    And what the hell is this about moving to N. Hollywood???

  2. It's not that I don't read, I just can't read books. I read every essay that passes through my inbox - for better or worse. Usually better, though.

    I also read the newspaper whenever I get the chance. The op-ed mostly, but I still read Bob Ryan's columns for the Boston Globe.

    If I've done my math right, you and Meg will be in town right after we move. What I'm saying is bring housewarming gifts.

    And thank you, by the way, for the lovely compliments. It warms what little heart I have left.

  3. What was that crack about for "better or worse"?

    There... some dialogue.

    You are awesome. Hang in there. Keep making me feel accepted!

  4. This cracked me up, Josh - I love the idea that a shower COULD be hot enough to melt a human. You're writing is crisp and funny, when it's not cutting to the quick.

    I wonder if more people don't leave comments because of the hoops you have to jump through. I understand why they're there but it's a little confusing to just comment with a name. Took me a few tries but I'm very simple. Just a theory.

    Our moms should get together and have a bad mommy party. They can talk about all the awful things they did, or forgot to do, or still don't know they should've done, and laugh and laugh.

  5. Steve: Better, hooray for reading. Worse, I really have trouble with it. I can't edit for too long without getting a massive headache.

    Barbi: I had to strike some kind of balance between letting a billion ads for erectile dysfunction pills get posted in the comments and just allowing no comments at all. I know this isn't great, but it's the best I could do.

  6. Also, I would read a lot more if I owned any of these books:

  7. "If you went outside, it hurt."

    I like that line. i don't want a dialogue about it, I just want to like it.