Personal

Things to Come

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.

Stream of Consciousness

Waiting for the Bus

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.

 

Personal

How did we get there?

Oops. I forgot to NaNoWriMo today. Instead, I spent most of the day (and taking a break from) cleaning my study and organizing my bookshelves. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m a hoarder. And it’s only a matter of time before you read about me.Better Days I managed to throw away several back issues of magazines and will attempt to throw away a few more after I shift through them and rip out any recipes I’d like to try.

I chatted with a friend (as in the ex-girlfriend type) and we talked for a good hour. So much to vent and so much to learn. Some secrets were shared, but I’ll not share them here because they’re too private. Advice was given, though I’m uncertain if I’ll listen to it. In the end, I noted that I’m not seeing any solutions to my problems. I’m pining for a girl who doesn’t love me (and I question the validity of her affection in the past), while having these feelings for another girl and flirting with another one. It just makes me long for better days when I felt a little more certain about my future. It’s cliché to say it, but my room has become a metaphor of my life. The more I try to clean it, the more stuff I uncover and the more of a mess I make. And now I’m wondering about other things because of all the things I’ve learned.

I uncovered several short stories, a novella, a handful of poems, and several scraps of unfinished tales or ideas that I jotted down. I threw away several repeat copies (done for creative writing courses), keeping only one of each (the ones with the better notes in the margins from peers). I found a few items from Jeanna, things she drew for me back when we were young and in love. I kept those, too. Because they meant something to me then, and continue to.

Break time’s over. I’ll write more interesting things later.

Personal

“I’m not gonna teach him how to dance, dance, dance”

Last night, I compiled my fourth playlist since I started up again. The soundtrack to a fake romantic comedy about a girl who works as a barista. Inspired by nothing and everything. I made two copies. One for Angela (I promised her one way before it ever came to fruition), and one for me. A good amount of time spent on thinking about it, I realized that it’s something I may attempt later in the future. I just need to carve out the story a little more, and pepper it with romantic comedy clichés—”[T]his song sorta gives it the kissing in the rain feel. Which, as we all know, is romantic (but not in real life as rain water is really dirty due to all the pollution in the air).” For those of you reading this and wanting to recreate my playlist (I’d totally share it with you if I had the ability and disposable income), I’ll add the track list at the bottom of this post.

Angela's copy
Angela’s copy

For the cover and CD art, I used a collage by Ashton Cutright entitled “Summer Reprise,” which you can buy at Etsy. Ashton and Miranda’s CDs were the first to feature art on the cover and CD label. It’s something I’m probably going to add from now one because, as I’ve stated before, I love making these CDs and creating arte for them adds to the fun. Like scribbling doodles on the cassette tape sleeve.

Ω  Ω  Ω

<blockq

Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission
Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission

So the above happened today. Upon receiving my copy of Serving Him edited by the sultry Rachel Kramer Bussel, I noticed the packaged open. No explanation. No attempt to tape up the violation of my package. It’s been some time since I received an erotic book to review in the mail. About a year, actually. Copies have been sent to me via e-mail for Kindle or Nook readers (I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, and I use the Nook app due to Amazon’s tight ass restrictions on their Kindle app). It’s sad that Ms. Bussel may take the same route because the USPS decided to open and lose several packages because they suspect that their media mail service is being abused.

I started the book, checking off Lori Selke’s “What You Deserve.” I won’t review the story here (not yet).

Ω  Ω  Ω

My coworker told me his creative well has run dry. It’s something I’m familiar with. However, there’s never been a time that I couldn’t write. It’s just what I write isn’t worth reading or worth the time spent writing it. Words, good or bad, never failed me. I can’t begin to imagine what he’s going through.

I force myself to write something every day. Good or bad, just keep writing and things will get better. I read as much as I write and I’m reading less these days. I need to change that. Need to switch off the TV and the computer once in a while and just start writing.

  1. I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You – Black Kids
  2. Teenage Angst – Placebo
  3. My Body’s A Zombie For You – Dead Man’s Bones
  4. Ah Uh Mi Hed – Shuggie Otis
  5. All I Want – Kodaline
  6. Memory – Sugarcult
  7. I Love Rock And Roll – Zombina & The Skeletones
  8. Recycled Air – The Postal Service
  9. Make Me Fall – Nina Nesbitt
  10. Sideways – Citizen Cope
  11. Breathe – Sia
  12. True Love Waits (Live in Oslo) – Radiohead
  13. Geek Love – Nerina Pallot
  14. Teenage Angst (Piano Version) – Placebo
  15. Swimming Pool – Freezepop
  16. I Melt With You – Modern English

Doldrums

“The past is gone but something might be found”

And you can trust me not to think
And not to sleep around
If you don’t expect too much from me
You might not be let down
Cause all I really want is to be with you
Feeling like I matter too
If I hadn’t blown the whole thing years ago
I might be here with you

Why don’t I have any Gin Blossoms albums? I must do something to correct this error in my music collection.

I returned to the soundtrack of my youth, remembering how stupid it was being so stupid. Youth is wasted on the young, the saying goes. Making us old farts think that we’ve lived life enough to know that we wouldn’t waste our teenage years acting like adults. Days it feels like life is wasted on the living.

Last night I started what I hope is my first draft of “Holding Hands with Eloise.” Without giving too much of my premise, think 90s romantic comedy with a twist inspired by my current occupation. I figured that each chapter will jump through the timeline (so, essentially, you’re getting two romantic stories, one doomed and one blossoming). The ending will have both timelines collapsing on each other, causing something of a conflict that I’ll probably carry over to another story (and I want to make this as annoying as possible in hopes that people love my work after they finish reading it).

Meanwhile, I’m beginning to hate my place of employment. I know I’ll end up writing a letter to HR bitching about all the shit we’re put through in hopes that someone gets off her ass and does something.

This post doesn’t push forward any revelations, except one. The swinging door? I’m locking it.

Doldrums

Hand in Unlovable Hand

In Singapore they hung people, right in the mall, for that. Her father didn’t like it and he said that was one of the reasons he never invited her there. –William Gibson

A few years ago, I found myself at a fork in the proverbial road. Like Robert Frost, I pondered the consequences that came with each. Shrugging it off, I took the familiar path. And because I’m the sort who wonders, I thought a lot about the other road, mainly where’d I be at that present junction. My idea spawn a fictional blog that I never came around to keeping up with (it never started, actually, outside that I’m not hoarding the URL).

I found myself thinking about that other road, though it’s clear that no matter what path I chose, the ending would still be here. It might have just taken a little bit longer.

With my current situation in full motion, the idea came back. Where would I be if things had ended? Another idea, another fictional biographical story born. However, as I tweaked the kinks and holes, I realized I’m done trying to reinvent myself.

The story stopped being my What If, and a character’s What Is. I’m not sure if most writers do this, but I’m guilty of putting reflections of myself into my stories. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about “David,” and wondering what a person outside of myself would handle a conversation with an estranged father – so estranged that he doesn’t even recognize his son. Of course, this stemmed from my recent run in with Javier. I thought I’d put all the anger and hatred aside and grown up as a man. I still felt the bitter taste of betrayal and abandonment when he opened his mouth to greet me. This man isn’t my father. My mother played both roles. She was the one that – poorly – attempted to tell me what was happening to my body. She was the one that warned me what girls were like – she was completely off that one, by the way. There were things she couldn’t explain to me, and I never pushed her to. She was my support and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

But the more I think about “David,” the more my mind focuses on this new nameless (as of now) character wandering about as the only world he’d know vanished seemingly over night. Divorced. Having to “divide” his friends between his ex. Finding out that he can love again, even though he will always look over his shoulder in hopes that she is following.

I started mapping the beginning and the end, because it’s obvious that even the ending I have already planned isn’t the ending that will come to light. It never is.

That’s it. That’s all I have for now.