Stream of Consciousness

To the women unfortunate enough to have loved me

What faults of mine have you inherited? Do you hear the echo carried in the wind, whispering your name off some distant shore of a shared memory? And, do you look back at them lovingly? Wondering if maybe, just maybe, if I had been a better man, see some future that would never be come to life, sucking in the air straight from the lungs of a failure into something much more? And do you ever remember the words whispered to each other as the sheets, dampened with our sweat, clung to our bodies that summer day after a fight (and who says make-up-sex isn’t the best?)? Do you wear the scars like a road map, keeping score of where you’ve been and not where we’re heading? Like head on collusion, never speaking as we watched time slip by with the future was still ahead of us.

To the women I’m fortunate enough to have loved. What misfortunes inherited have you shrugged off your shoulders, a negligee of neglect. Days when I vanished, having you wait by the phone wondering what version of me would come home. Thank you for the days spared to me. For the warmth of your arms, holding me when the world seemed to big for me to perceive. Thank you for the inspiration, ambition, and depression. For withholding the knowledge that you knew I’d written our break-up poem the day of our first kiss. Thank you for holding open the door, knowing that no matter my passion, my exit route was mapped out months in advance. And thank you for leaving the porch light on, knowing that I’d come back seeking out the answers of what I did wrong.

For all the hours we spent together, talking on the phone, texting past reasonable hours, sitting in the parked cars outside abandoned homes, hands in firm grips because we both knew that I was a flight risk no matter how happy I’d become because I knew there was always an opportunity for me to fuck this up. For the days we spent on beaches, on patios, in diners and kitchens making homemade pizzas that we wound up burning because we were young and easily distracted. How I count the seconds until the day I cross your path and see a familiar smile spread across your face. And you pass me by without a second glance, an unrecognizable relic from a life long forgotten.

Work

Original Tales, Borrowed Worlds

A few things have made themselves clear these last couple of months. None more certain than the boat I’m on is taking in too much water. And while three of us are trying to toss the water out, two others are intent on bucketing more in. It’s hard not to feel stressed out about this. Honestly, this is the same song and dance we’ve been doing since I arrived several years ago. The only difference is my role in the whole mess of things. And while I’m rebellious by nature, when it comes to what pays the bill, I fall in line rather quickly. And I will protect myself from being axed by any means necessary. So when it came to my ideas of activities, I remained silent. None of that mattered to me at the time. It’s not that I don’t have ideas; it’s just at this moment, I’m not interested in seeing them coming to fruition. Mostly, because I don’t know where I stand in the current regime. And where I’ll be in a few months.

One thing I do want to bring into the department is tabletop role playing games. Duckie and I toyed with the idea in the past. Back when Crissy was still around, Duckie was still in the department, and I was on a path to possible supervisor position. Except, none of that happened. Crissy left. Duckie left. And my life took a turn. (Though, let’s be honest, had it not changed, they didn’t want me because I came with some risks.)

Since I’ve been binge watching Geek & Sundry’s We’re Alive: Frontier, the want to introduce the children into the world imagination driven gaming has increased. So much so, that I asked Shaun if he’d be interested in partaking in it. I received a shrug. I’ll try to convince the cousins to play too, but they’re children of short attention span and YouTube videos.

Dungeons and Dragons was my original intent. After reading articles how to make it kid friendly (focus more on the story, less on stats yada yada yada), I still didn’t know how to make it work for a library setting. (Actually, this is a lie because there are several ways for me to make it library friendly.) I looked into D&D-esque children’s RPG texts, but none of them hit the right feeling. The closest was Little Wizards, but I wasn’t feeling the whole kids-with-magic ordeal. (The last thing I need are kids fighting over who gets to be Harry Potter.)

And that’s why We’re Alive: Frontier breathed life back into the vision. The world takes place in the We’re Alive world (if you haven’t listened to the podcast, you’re missing out!) but the game play is based on Outbreak: Undead. I’ve never played this one before, nor have I read the guide book. But part of my resistance to wanting to introduce children to this game is the use of firearms and that most of the baddies will be humans. And that’s when Max Brallier’s post-apocalyptic series comes in.

I never read the series, but its potential of RPG storytelling isn’t lost on me. When the first novel came out, it was described as a cross between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Walking Dead. How could I not be intrigued? The books are extremely popular at the library. So much so, that I purchased my own copy today because it was never on the shelf at work (we have four copies in circulation).

I’m assuming that Outbreak: Undead is limited in the monster category while D&D (and those like it) is too packed with magic. So I started looking into other games. The one that seems about right is Kids on Bikes. But I’m still looking for something that could work that isn’t too rule-bloated for a elementary aged kids. Once I find the perfect rule book, I can use the world that Brallier created for this series and create adventures within it. Hopefully that assists with our need for getting more butts in the seats while still promoting the joy of reading (read the book, get inspiration).

Let’s see how it works.

Work

Dear Diary,

Something happened. Something I swore wouldn’t ever happened. But it’s done. I’ve done it. It’s out there now and I can’t reel it back in. I created original characters and content for [redacted]. Which means, [redacted] now owns something I created. That’s how this works, right? You’re bamboozled into needing a job and the only people who want to hire you know you’re creative. And they spend years on you before they start asking for things here and there. It’s mostly PR related things, sure. But then the clincher happens and you’re asked to create something for them. Mostly because they’re afraid of copyright infringement. Which, they’re in the right to, because we’ve totally skirted the edge of that legality on more than one occasion.

While it’s been my intention from the get go to create new content, my goal was always to base it on characters my predecessor established. Just replace his writing flair with my own nuance.

But I adapted [redacted], a beautiful children’s book by [redacted]. And within my adaptation of the story, I added a new character that wasn’t featured in the original story? Why? Because I wanted to, that’s why. This character was voiced by V. And, sure, maybe I’m bias, but I loved her reading of the character. So when the director told me to stop using other people’s works for my puppet shows, I quickly thought, “Well, shit. I have a character already. Might as well use her.”

Thus R.F. was born. And today, I finished the first short story that I’ve written in ages. Mind you, this isn’t an original story. It’s based on Stone Soup, a folktale that’s been rewritten hundreds of times in different ways (most notably, by Marcia Brown).

If you don’t know the story of Stone Soup, let me give you the run down. So a new guy in town (usually three new guys in town) are hungry, but they can’t find anyone who is willing to just give them some food (shocker, I know!). So they settle down in the center of town and make a show of bringing out a big, old kettle. They fill it up with water and some stones, and light a fire underneath it. Of course, the townspeople are curious so they go an inspect what’s going on. No one’s ever heard of stone soup, of course, because it’s a flat-out lie. But the three guys sell it up. And people all want to try it. But there’s something missing. Potatoes. Someone volunteers that. Still, it’s missing something. And someone volunteers that. And the list continues until they made an authentic soup with the townspeople none the wiser.

But my story is met to set up a bigger tale with the characters created. While I won’t focus each new puppet show on the trio created for this rendition of Stone Soup, I do plan on using them a few times down the line. There are stories to be told and these just happen to be the voices that are speaking to me right now.

My only regret this work-for-hire business means I won’t be able to keep any of them should I leave [redacted]. We’ll see.

Stream of Consciousness

“If You Love Me, Come Clean”

Sometimes I think about all the things said and done. The collected heartaches and tears. The journal pages filled of questions, asking if I’m enough.

What’s a life measured in? The years spent from birth to death? The hours spent behind a desk? Or the moments spent with those you love?

All these books in my library and no librarian in sight.

The only thing separating us is my emotional baggage, a wall of anxiety, and my unwillingness to let go.

Stream of Consciousness

“I still don’t know how I even survive”

Mornings aren’t any easier. Thirty-five years old, still trying to make sense of the world. On more than one occasion, adulthood has felt like a child playing dress up. Wondering when it’s suppose to set in. Wondering why it’s even a struggle to comprehend the roles we’re given. Punch in the numbers. Punch in the clock. Going through the motions without feeling. Punch out. Go home. Sleep. Repeat.

It’s easy to feel jealous of the youth and all their wasted potential. Ever wonder what you’d do if you could do it all again? Probably make the same mistakes. Just with better technology.

Saw a kid with Apple AirPods the other day. Nothing looked more ridiculous. Disembodied earphones. Fashion statement or poor design? Or brilliant marketing tool of making something so ugly into something you’ll dish out hard earned cash for? Saw an adult with Apple AirPods the other night. Skimming a novel. Nothing looked more pretentious. So desperate. So utterly sad, pathetic.

It’s all so overwhelming in this underwhelmed society. Moving on with the new fads. Thinking of starting a podcast. Thinking of starting a side hustle. Thinking of writing a book of poetry. Lyric essays. Short stories. Feeling trapped in myself. The world is just bleak.

Stream of Consciousness

After BoJack

One day, you’re gonna look around and you’re going to realize that everybody loves you, but nobody likes you. And that is the loneliest feeling in the world.

—BoJack Horseman

I.

How do you write a breakup poem for a love you no longer mourn? Because you come to realize that love isn’t extinguished no matter the flame metaphors. It’s a favorite record taken from the turntable, placed on the shelf for a rainy day when you need to remember who you were before all the pain. No. Love is an old friend who’ll never be a stranger no matter distance. It’s remembering the good outlasted the bad. A country map, the atlas, marking where you’ve been, not where you’re heading. Love is Frost’s two road poem. A diverging path of familiarity, but not always the one you take. Love is never extinguished; it’s an energy transformed.

II.

How do I write a love poem when the fear of losing you clutches my chest? How do I say you’re beautiful without it being a compliment paid to one friend from another? How do I explain that your touch doesn’t hurt? That when we’re together are the happiest I’ve been in years? That it doesn’t matter what we watch just so long as I’m close to you? How do you tell someone how you feel when you lost your voice? Express the regret I have at not handling things better? How I would never had kissed the wrong lips between her and you had I known that you existed? That our paths would one day cross? How do I write a poem declaring that you’re the first and last thought I have each day, no matter the mood? That just the thought of you can force the tears dry and a smile to spread? How do I explain to you that a third of my breath is yours should you ever want it?

III.

How do I write a poem explaining difficulty of letting myself fall & see where we land? The hours I spent talking to married women wanting an exit, and that exit happened to bear my name. Those who stole my time, taking the vulnerability I offered in good faith. To Selina, whose words echoed on the screen. Showed me my flaws and brought me to my knees. Who worked a future in my imagination that wasn’t hers to offer. To Jenny, too afraid to break my heart because she couldn’t have my blood on her hands. Never responsible for her actions. Escaped one marriage to run into another. To the coffee drinker in need of someone to give up control. Whose time I wasted with nothing to offer except a bed and regret.

To the mistakes I made to get to where I stand, not regretting a second of them, knowing that I will do them again if I had the chance.

How do I write a poem about you without giving you my history? Because I like you and that sorta scares me. Because I know what it feels to kiss the girl in the fast food parking lot and knowing there’s no future. Because I know what it feels to wait for an answer that will never come. I know what it feels to love a person for ten years and lose them. Because I know the difficulties that come with being in a relationship with me. That I give it my all, but ignore their feelings. That behind every I-love-you there may be an escape plan. Because I know love isn’t a flame, but we can still be burned. Because I’ve learned that saying I love you isn’t the same thing as being in love.

Because I don’t fall for people. I plunge.