Chapin City Blues

Writing is writing whether done for duty, profit, or fun.

Things to Come

June 5, 2017

Nothing dull ever happens at [redacted] even though most days pass at a slug’s pace. Friday, however. Man, fucking Friday. We often joke that life at [redacted] could fuel a television series for years—I imagine a cross between Seinfeld and The Office (UK or USA). And if our work life were a TV show, it goes without saying that Friday was the cliffhanger season finale. Maybe, one day, in the distant future.

Back in February, I started thinking about writing again. Something other than this blog and press releases for work. I’ve written a poem here and there. Nothing major. Just lines on the page that I hope will grow into something more. Of course, this gets me thinking about returning to college for an MFA in creative writing. It’s a thought that’s popped up several times in the past, but my bank account just doesn’t see it in the cards. Besides, there’s my relationship with Shaun that can be affected. My time is already divided between work and him with a splash of social life here and there. Throwing school into the mix will just place more responsibilities in the way. And right now, I’m trying to figure some shit out.

Then there’s the whole rust factor. This December marks the ten year anniversary of my college graduation. And all I have to show for it is a couple of press releases published in a weekly that doesn’t even hold my byline, one short story published in a college literary magazine, an essay published in a newsletter, this blog that only a few strangers read, and a job at [redacted] that becomes uncertain as the days go by. I’m not complaining. Not really. But something needs to give, right?

And, again, the realization sets in—all I do is complain about it. Complain about this stagnation. No one told me to stop writing. I chose to. No one told me to stop going to poetry readings. I sheltered myself. No one told me not to spend time on reading old works for revision purposes. I hid them away. I created the creative block—this Trumpian wall—in my mind to hinder myself. I don’t need a muse—shit, I wrote volumes of work before Jeanna. Before I even got laid in high school. And, yes, inspiration is nice; it’s just no one said it had to be romantic. Shaun inspires me every day to do things. I’ve painted more since he’s been around than I have in the years prior. I’m not good at it, but that doesn’t matter. I still do it.

Writing has always been my thing. As has storytelling. In elementary, I penned my The Munsters/The Addams Family-esque short story about a haunted house in which a family of weirdos lived. In high school, countless of compositions books went filled (and unfilled) with bad poetry. (I still have several of these, but I’m too afraid to even open them.)

It seems the trouble, lately, is getting started. That’s where the outline comes into play. In the past, I stood firmly against the outline. Writing should be a wild ride, a road trip without a planned destination. For instance, at the beginning of this post? No idea that I’d end up here. Just look at the intro paragraph. And I’ll by no means change it because that would mean changing this paragraph and I’m already done with this paragraph.

Will the outline help me? Who knows. But I’m willing to try anything. Either way, even with a road map, writing will still remain a wild, wild ride. It’s just that now I have an inkling of where I want to get to.

Waiting for the Bus

September 24, 2015

And there we were. Standing on the corner of First and Adams, waiting for the bus to arrive. The way she leaned up against the street lamp, infinite scarf hanging off her neck—did she make that herself, I wondered, but thought better than asking her because she seemed too self-involved with that cigarette pressed lightly on her ruby red lips. I dared not to speak a word to her, though we lived several endings in my mind. I wondered often where she got off or where she was leaving. Making a conversation with such a beautiful woman, unheard of! No, better just coax my time. Wait until a moment arrived and have something pithy to say to her because she seemed the type of girl who wanted a man who knew his way around the words, not the stuttering bastard that I can transform into whenever I open my mouth. It didn’t matter who I spoke to. Not really. Close friends still had me up against the wall when it came to speaking, but they didn’t know. They thought it was all part of my personality, though, in a way, I guess they’re not exactly all wrong. Still no matter how much time I spent around a person, beautiful or not—interesting or banal—I still froze up in the mouth and sputtered out words like a helicopter zipping by.

Once I thought I offer her some sort of mint. Did I really want to come off as the guy who carried mints in his pocket? The type of schmuck who ate garlic and onions for his lunch? The sort of guy who knew his halitosis reached the farthest nose in the office? The type cheapskate who picked up women at seedy bars and sprayed Binaca before introducing himself to the women who just came in for a quick drink—‘Ello dere, babe, sprits sprits, soy Carlito. You wan ta have dee sexo con migo? And where would I get mints, anyway? I didn’t carry any, though there were some tucked the top drawer back at the office for those just in case moments.

Twice already she looked my way and smile. That smile of hers sent grown men to see therapists because they’d never seen something so amazing and beautiful before, and feared they would never experience anything that topped it. What’s the point, Doc? One look at that smile and I knew my life was over. Over, I tell you. Over, Doc. I gave her my best half smirk. The sort of smirk that should say that I’m available for a conversation, but wouldn’t know where to begin because nothing can distract me away from that smile of yours. Such a beautiful smile.

The forecast threatened rain, but she didn’t carry an umbrella. This made me feel a bit insecure about mine. How does one hold an umbrella while waiting for a bus in a dignified fashion? Resting on my shoulder like a continental soldier? Tip pressed against the ground with my body sort of leaning upon it? Tuck it underneath my arm while I made small talk about the clouds overhead?

Three cars sped by. Two of them honking their horns and shouting obscenities at her. She seemed unfazed, but I felt my blood simmering beneath my skin. Who did those chumps think they were? Where do they get off talking like that to a lady, to this woman? If I had the nerve, I’d…what? What would I do? Certainly not go speeding after them. Certainly not shouting an obscenity at them. No. No. Dear little old me would never hurt a fly even if that fly deserved it. I gave her a weak smile, an apology for my sex. Don’t think nothing of it. They’re not worth the misery. Don’t give a second thought. Because that’s the kind of woman she was. Even acknowledging bottom feeders in muscle cars gave them the satisfaction of gaining one’s attention. Ignoring them just injured their egos. Sure they might speak louder, become more offensive, but they wouldn’t break you. Wouldn’t get what they’re after. And that made you stronger. I marveled at her genius. At her strength. At her ability to stand taller, sail higher than anyone I’ve ever met. Oh yes, this woman. With her smile. And her courageousness. This woman excelled all other women in my life.

The drop landed on my nose. For a second, I froze thinking some bird, flying by, had decided to use my head as a porta-potty. The second drop fell. And a third. And before I could count a forth, the rain came down heavy. Even in the white noise of it all, I heard her tiny curse. How had she not brought an umbrella? How could she not think this far ahead? Or maybe she didn’t have good enough fortune to own one? Or maybe the one she owned was lost in transit some weeks ago? And while I pondered the workings of her mind, the opportunity presented itself to me with neon flashing lights. This was my chance to break the ice. To make that first move and spark up a conversation with her. And we’d lose ourselves in each other’s words. And she’d playfully slap my chest when I’d say something funny and utter something in the lines of, You’re just too much, Phil. Just. Too. Much. And I’d shake my head and waggle my brows and we’d board the bus hand in hand and sit on the only empty seat at the back of the bus and just lean into each other, still laughing, and thinking about where we go from there. And I would learn what she did for a living—a nanny for two snotty little brats who lived uptown with their tyrannical mother and pushover father, but she only did this while she saved up enough money to open the vintage record and book store. And I’d tell her about my job, explaining how it was only temporary even though I was entering my fifth year. And we’d fall in love at that exact moment. And we’d never look back.

Before I even fumbled with my umbrella, the bus—the number nine—pulled up and opened its doors. She trotted inside, leaving me standing alone in the rain. I smiled at the bus driver and boarded.

“Oh well,” I said. “Maybe next time.”

A quick note about this piece. It’s unedited. It’s just a stream of conscious piece that I typed while listening to a jazz radio station on Google Play Music. Even though it was typed on the spot without any planning, I was inspired by something I heard today on a podcast about how we tend to “draw conclusions about someone from the most superficial evidence.” Maybe in the future, I’ll come back and revisit this stream of consciousness and feed it more. Who knows. The podcast that inspired this piece is linked below.


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