A friend once commented on my half-hearted hemming and hawing as I considered possibly foregoing an afternoon cup of coffee; “there’s a line in the show Twin Peaks, ‘every day, once a day, give yourself a present.'”
“Present? I like that.” I ordered that cup of coffee.
I had heard of Twin Peaks before, but was still unfamiliar.
“What’s Twin Peaks about?” I asked.
“It’s a crazy show that takes place in the woods.”
That was all I needed to be intrigued and this being 2007, I added the series to my Netflix DVD queue. There was a variety of other titles ahead of it. I almost forgot about it, until one day, two discs arrived.
I had the plan that allowed for 2 DVDs at a time, and each disc had only 3 episodes, but in one night I devoured those first 6 episodes along with a large helping of Shrimp with Lobster Sauce and Crab Rangoon. As the dark gray of a windy October evening thrashed the trees outside, matching the ominous potential oozing from my tube TV, I was entranced. I returned those discs right away and anxiously awaited the next two installments, repeating a limited binge every few days. I think I even upped my plan to 3 DVDs at a time.
I was at a point of partial professional burnout as a manager in the souvenir photo industry, but the world of Twin Peaks stirred a new invigoration in me. A flat world stretched into the 3rd dimension, and the energy released resembled a restless adolescent curiosity. I felt like one of those high school students, a world of possibility ahead, frenzied by learning the troubled secret life of a popular peer. I wanted to sneak out of my bedroom window. I wanted to be a Bookhouse Boy. I wanted a night in disguise at One-Eyed Jacks. I wanted to follow the cryptic advice of giants and clues whispered by dancing midgets in my dreams. I wanted to find, not just a fish, but a Pacific Northwest worth of bizarre enchantment, bursting out of the percolator.
.Sometimes you should give yourself a present, and sometimes that present should be a story that has you both bright-eyed and nervous, a complex cup of coffee in its own right that has your senses buzzing and attuned to the ripe messages confined inside a beloved log, ones you may not have been expecting.
Jeff Phillips is a washed up varsity cross country skier and storefront theatre method actor. For two years he was co-host of The Liquid Burning, an apocalypse themed reading series, and for just shy of three years, he co-hosted the Chicago reading series Pungent Parlour. His short fiction has appeared in Seeding Meat, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Metazen, Chicago Literati, and Literary Orphans. He is the co-founder of Zizobotchi Papers, a literary journal dedicated to the novella and a regular contributor of short stories and essays at the site Drinkers With Writing Problems. You can find him on Twitter as @TheIglooOven or at theotherauthorjeffphillips.com