Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell

On the brink of death, you have a lot of time to think. You’re no longer working on the abstract sense of time that waking, living humans are accustomed to; you begin working on dream-time. The time where a single minute can span hours, even decades, of your life.

The writing bug has bitten me; you can tell by the amount of Iggy Pop music I’ve been consuming. And while this blog is on my mind, it hasn’t been in the forefront. Not for a while, anyway. Not since I left my job at the public library. Not since COVID forced us all inside. While I am writing a post for it, I don’t foresee it being published any time soon. My mind is running with ideas for the future, for my creative outlet. And I think the post I’m working out might be the first in a new outlet.

An old voice also visited me, which would explain the Iggy Pop. The above quote is from the story I’m writing. And I’m taking it from a different angle. A more Tim O’Brien angle. Mixing the story-truth and the happening-truth in order weave the tales I created post high school and during my college years. And rather telling it from the point of view of the character as it happened, but I will now tell it in my present voice.

So in the meanwhile, this blog will be filled with song lyrics, poetry breaks, and book reviews.


We’ll try this again — again

Photo by Min An from Pexels

I started my book blog – The Book Hunter’s Journal – on 27 June 2009 with a post about a $3-bag book sale at the McAllen Public Library. My partners in crime were, of course, Monica and an excited Squid. With my 446th post, made on 17 June 2013, I said goodbye to the blog and remained focus on this one. And I’ve been here since.

Continue reading “We’ll try this again — again”

Prelude to Lessons in Love & Loss

Some part of me acknowledges my prematurity of the post “Of the Sea.” Not because the feelings expressed within the post have dissipated, but what follows is depressing. I’ve traversed a three-year road, and here is where I stand. I’m not look over my shoulder, and each day I fight the urge to take a gander at what I lost. A few months ago, I made a promise to myself. It’s been a trying task.

The purpose of “Lessons in Love & Loss” isn’t a depressing one. It just reads that way. It’s a three-part post: Letter to Jeanna, Letter to Shaun, and an epilogue post still being stitched. These posts will not appear one after the other. At least, I don’t anticipate posting them in such a meaningless fashion.

 I expect “Letter to Jeanna” ready for posting by this weekend. In addition to these future post, I’m working on a lyrical essay inspired by an episode of The Memory Palace. I hope that this, too, will find a home on the “pages” of Chapin City Blues.

Now that we’re all caught up, I’ll leave you at the fold. Take care dear readers.


The End of Phase 2 Pt. 3: Notes.

From the pages of Thought Processing (my handwritten journal):

Purchase a copy of Yes Please by Amy Poehler and highlight the shit out of that book.

Screw the partnership. Start writing posts for the books we carry and hopefully others will follow. Maybe ask local writer friends to write a post about their favorite book (the one that said this is it. I’m a writer/reader/book lover). (Michael Jones, Richard Sanchez, Anne Estevis, etc.)

Start working on “Stories for Shaun” in lieu of “Letters to Shaun.” Regular WordPress blog?

What’s phase 3? More about life and writing? More books? More posts about being a father? Bug Ashton about new banner.

Write. Write. Write. Never stop writing.

Possible post titles:
1. Lessons in Letting Go
2. Letter to Jeanna—”The Greatest Bastard” Damien Rice.

Stop being so afraid of moving forward, goddamnit!

Find “gift of fear.”

“They are not long, the weeping + the laughter.”

There are shards of memories I want to share with you. Maybe to put together, or maybe to bury. Truth is, I don’t know what I want to do with them. The only thing we can be certain of is that these pieces aren’t meant to hollow a path to return to us. They aren’t bread crumbs from a crumbling romance grown stale and moldy. They’re simply shards of memories. A declaration. A proclamation. Just reminders that it was never in my intention to let you down.

Sometimes I forget [illegible] There are times when you don’t get a rejection. Sometimes this [illegible] rejectionlessness eats you up more than a no would. You begin to feel that you are so unworthy of anything

There are times when you don’t get a rejection. And, at times, this may seem worse than if she had just said no. A part of you There’s nothing you can do about this one. Asking again is just a set up [for] ridicule. If you were clear of your intentions the first time, a second time will not garner you an answer.

Never expose yourself to the world [illegible] Several people will say personality trumps everything else. However, I’ve noticed the vanity of those around on a day to day basis. This is not to deter you from trying to meet someone who is “out of your league.” There are no leagues. Just shallow and the deep. Shallow people are the here and now. They say things like, “Can you blame me for They create superficial high standards. They care only about chiseled features or unnaturally large tits. They worship cosmetics like a Christian Catholic on Easter Sunday.


I wonder when I grow old, my face will remain scowled. As if my expectations of the world have left me perpetually disappointed.


A Memoir of My Voice

A few years ago, after Shaun was born (or maybe before Shaun was born), I started a blog called Letters to Shaun. It still exists, but I haven’t made a post in such a long time. Because I can never commit to writing projects that span more than a couple of pages. Because I lose sight of the projects. Rarely do I ever outline posts or, for that matter, stories. Everything is on whim. Whatever comes to mind as I clickety-clack on my laptop. As much as I lied to myself then, there was a lot of anger towards Jeanna after our separation. (I can’t call it a divorce since we were never married; calling it a break up seems juvenile.) A lot of this anger and resentment spilled into the letters. As much as I tried to cover it up. As much as I tried to say that the decision was mutual. I still blamed her for the breaking up a family that I longed for. In the long haul, I abandoned the project as I do most projects and continued focusing only on this blog. And even this gets ignored from time to time.

I go weeks without a post. I’m sure there exists a month without an entry. Spur-of-the-moment ideas grab me and I write. Several of these don’t get posted. For instance, I intended the Valentine’s Day entry for the second of February—the day after my realization. Even though the words existed in my head, they never poured out in a manner that I found worthy for a reader’s eyes. I suppose it’s as the saying goes: We are our greatest critics. I just want days where I’m not so hard on myself.

Since middle school, teachers told me I had a gift for coupling words into sentences, into paragraphs. They instructed me to work on my voice. To write the way I speak to others. In college, I honed in on my skill. I made my decision before picking up my college application. My hobbies led me to major in English. I imagined living in a house that doubled as a library—my own personal library. I saw a desk with a computer and a typewriter. (I typed my earliest essays on a typewriter, much to the professors’ surprise and dismay.) I lost myself in books and essays on the craft. And still, nothing hushed the voice that leaned against the back of my mind. “You’re not good enough. This is not good enough.”

Words poured and poured and I hit backspace each time. I yanked the sheet out of the typewriter, balled it up and tossed into the trash can, missing it each time. I spent hours late at night staring at my essays and just thinking I missed something. The ones turned in were shit. Second guessing myself led to rambling pieces which I shamefully turned in.

I started writing short stories. I started a LiveJournal blog. Every day, I wrote. Not caring about the style. Not caring for the run-ons or fragment sentences. Not caring for punctuation (something I’m still terrible at). I dotted my prose, these fragmented thoughts, with ellipses. I plagued each post with vernacular and clichés (No one instructed me to avoid them, yet).

I started reading other people’s blogs. I read online stories. Poorly crafted pieces that stretched for a few pages or for volumes. I tried writing poems, working on the scrawled pieces from my adolescence. But each time, I returned to prose. I learned sentence structure. What to avoid. How to punctuate for effect, and not for grammatical purposes. And still. The longer pieces eluded me.

Abby, a friend of mine, noted my habit of jumping from one blog to another. She called me the gypsy blogger, never staying with a blog host for more than a couple of months. I married WordPress while having a love affair with Blogger. (I cheated on LiveJournal with MySpace, who was a passing fancy.) Tumblr came later, though it didn’t please me the way the others had. I mended my relationship with WordPress, later buying a URL to signify my commitment to the blog host site.

And still, the style and purpose of this blog has changed violently over the years while remaining the same. I tried other projects. A Book Hunter’s Journal ended when I made this my full-time blog. I ended letters to Shaun when I saw what it did to me. How unhealthy I became remembering moments of happiness with Jeanna. There have been a slew of porn blogs. None of which caught on. There was one on Tumblr, Fuck Yeah Amateurs. I gave that up after receiving several complaints. Complaints made with good reason. I passed the blog along to another group deviants and made my peace with the disgruntled girls by purging every post and starting from zero. (Maybe there’s a post in this, but this is not the time or place for it.)

And here I sit, staring at my screen and narrating my thoughts. Remembering my history. Trying to recall my junior high self who brimmed with potential. Trying not to have the image of emptying a can of Coke into a glass and watching the fizz rise. Staring as it overflows the cup before it bubbles down until you forgot it was there in the first place.

Because that’s not the life I want to lead. Where potential just bubbles down and dissolves with the rest of me. It’s a frightening thought.