Chapin City Blues

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

If you haven’t already guessed, I work for a public library. I’ve been doing so for nearly a decade now – just one year shy this December. It had been a childhood dream – one of the many dreams, actually – to work in a library. Even in my adolescence, I often daydreamed about working …

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“Tell each other stories”

October 16, 2016

“So when do you think you’ll publish a book?” he asks. There’s nothing condescending hiding within his voice, but his weasel smile still angers me. There are times when I want to trust him, but this isn’t one of them. The knowledge of what he’s capable isn’t lost on me. I know better than to share my secrets with this tiny man.

“I don’t know,” I say. Yeah, I do. There were plans in the past where being a published a writer was the end game. I imagined penning the novel that would move people. That would grab men by the balls and women by the heartstrings. That would make the readers uncomfortable with themselves. Make them question what gets them hard. What gets them off.

These days, those plans are behind me. I write when I can. The need has dried up. And I’m ok with that. There are time when I think about getting started again. Let my boredom create worlds and people. Let my fingers clatter away at the keys. Hear the orchestra of pen to paper as my scrawl fills journals. Wake up to the sound of a character’s voice.

Every project I started these days has ended up the same. Unfinished. Forgotten. Left in the note-taking stage. And it’s not something I want to tell this man, because as I recalled the only reason why they hired me in the first place was because I possessed a certain skill of molding words into images. Images that captivated people. That drew others to me.

“I haven’t written enough,” I tell him.

At home, I busy myself with television. I vowed to read a hundred books this year, and only managed twenty-two so far. I spend as much time with Shaun as possible. And by that, I mean we’re both on our respective devices while the hours figuring out puzzles. That is until I realize that the best days are burning quickly. Then we tend the garden. We run. We play hide-and-seek, and each time my heart catches in my throat when I can’t find him. And when he seeks up behind me to catch me, I feel relief.

The dreams returned after a few year hiatus. In them, we’re happy. They started off as memories. False memories. Memories from another dimension where we didn’t split at the seam. And they become heavier. I feel her lips on mine. Her touch upon my skin. The heat of her breath on my neck. I shudder awake. I stare at the darkness of my bedroom. I listen to the whirl of the fan, of the a/c. I have never felt more alone than I do after one of those dreams.

And just like that, the voices come to me. Almost in unison.

“Hey,” they say. “We’re not finished with you just yet.”

An Atheist Christmas Special

December 25, 2014

I’ve dodged the question for several years now. The number of times hasn’t grown since my announcement of “converting” to atheism. If anything, it’s lessened. And that’s not because people have become more accepting to my “lack of” views; it has everything to do with my lack of interest in talking to the general public. Still there’s one every year who cannot help but to ask. Sometimes it’s condescending. Sometimes it’s mere curiosity. Usually, it’s annoying. Over the commotion for the world around us, the question pours from his mouth and becomes a thorn to my temples. My head quakes with an urge to launch into a diatribe filled with frothing words. And it hangs in the air like a Pisces breath.

“If you’re an atheist, how can you celebrate Christmas?”

The question comes in various forms throughout the year. “If you’re an atheist, what do you believe in?” “If you’re an atheist, where do you get your moral value from?” “If you’re an atheist…?”

I wasn’t raised atheist. I didn’t have the same luxury that you did. I found my (non)religion on my own. The set of morals I grew up with are common sense. Doing bad things to others is wrong. If you can’t realize that, it’s not religion you’re missing—it’s empathy.

But why Christmas?

This might come as a blow to you put-the-Christ-back-in-Christmas folks, but your lord and savior wasn’t born on Christmas day. The Bible makes no notation on his birth date (or year, for that matter). And considering that the good book is riddle with historical and scientific inaccuracies, it wouldn’t have mattered. And call me a religious conspiracy theorist (as one such friend mocked), but Christmas started off as a pagan holiday. Christians made a habit of lying to non-believers, stealing their pagan celebrations and beliefs and altering them into something that resembled their own.

But why celebrate if the religious connotations are present?

Because I don’t see them. Santa Claus (despite also being St. Nick) isn’t a religious figure. Nor are elves, flying reindeer, the tree, consumerism/materialism, eating pork tamales (because it’s one of the forbidden foods), etc. I just see it as a time of year of being around family and loved ones. A second Thanksgiving.

A Father Christmas

“Jesse’s gone into dad mode,” Monica tells me as we head out for our monthly excursion to Barnes and Noble. She’s come to this conclusion because Jesse has asked for a flashlight. It’s reminiscent of their father’s Christmas wishes.

I think about it for a bit. I know there won’t be anything waiting for me underneath the Christmas tree. Still, I think, wouldn’t it be cool to find a nice tool set, the kind that comes with a set of Allen wrenches? It’s a giddy thought. Somewhere along the lines, I stopped expecting toys for Christmas. As adult, you have to buy your own toys. Christmas becomes more about getting things you wouldn’t get on your own, but know you need around the house. And right now, I need a set of Allen wrenches to dismantle an unused crib.


As few of you know, I work at a library. The library world is a family one. There are relatives you love and cannot be away from. There are relatives you hardly speak a word to. There are relatives you wish would just fall off a cliff. And there’s extended family members you haven’t met before.

Last month, we learned that two of our patrons were homeless. The family found themselves in a tough spot. We gathered food and boxed it and presented it to them for Thanksgiving. In lieu of our usual secret Santa gift exchange, we all agreed it would be nice if we gave this family a Christmas they couldn’t afford.

Altruism, for me, is always done in the shadows. In the past, whenever I donated money to a cause, I always wrote in my nephew’s name. Now, I write in Shaun’s. I don’t do nice things because it makes me feel good. I don’t do them to get into heaven. And I don’t do them for recognition. So when it came to this gift giving, I didn’t expect to get any. However, it became a photo-op and they wrangled me in. I stood off to the side, hoping I’d get cropped out in the final edit.

This is the time of year when people boast about donating money, food, and their time to charity. They puff out and beat their chests declaring the amount of good they do each year. They want to measure up their good deeds like men in a circle jerk comparing their erect cocks. The better and exponent the deeds, the bigger their wings, their halo, the cleaner their conscience.

People should stop expecting rewards for doing nice things. They need to stop pretending that the season of giving comes only once or twice a year. It should last all year round. They shouldn’t take credit for something their church does each year, when they didn’t lift a finger. That’s like sport fans saying they won a game when they’re not even on the damn team.

Linus’s Speech Revamp for a Secular Crowd

wpid-img_20141225_082835.jpgEvery parent wants what is best for their kids. Our job is to raise and guide them the best we know how. Sometimes we tell little white lies—the stork, Santa Claus, gods and monsters—to give them magic in the world. The end game is always the same. We want them to excel where we couldn’t.

I only bought Shaun one present this year (three if you count accessories). He looked thrilled to see the new tablet that awaited for him inside the box. A tablet he could take home with him to his mom’s. I loaded all his games and placed a few dollars in his Google Wallet. And he spent his morning counting, finding, and putting puzzles together. When got tired, he sat on my lap and asked to color. We sprawled out on the floor and colored the pages I printed for him. We watched a movie together. We talked. We sang songs. We ran around. We played with his toys from last Christmas.

And I thought about the parents of the kids killed this year. I thought about the families of the police officers murdered in cold blood. I thought about the families of the people who murdered those kids and those police officers. Imagined what their Christmas must be like this year. That dark cloud hanging over their heads. Several people already labeled me anti-police. I stand against a system that allows officers to act as judge, jury, and executioner in cases where the suspect posed no threat.

Is it safe to assume that all these parents had the same wish for the kids that I do for Shaun? It wouldn’t matter if my kid came out of the closet some years down the line. Wouldn’t make me flinch if he told me he was born in the wrong body. Wouldn’t bother me if he served in our military. I’d be proud if he chose to become a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, or journalist.

What I want most for my kid is that he grows up happy. The he knows he’s loved even when things seem bleak. That he can come to me no matter what. That he is good and kind and understanding to the people around him. That it’s not about how much you have as compared to your neighbor, but that your neighbor has something.

And if you ask me, that has little to do with Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or whatever. And it has everything with being a decent human being.

Merry Christmas. And Happy Holidays.


February 16, 2013

I don’t drink, but I’m one angry drunk. Someone once told me that drinking is a lot like not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can bring out the same demons that alcohol can, only it’s less fun (which, I believe, is a matter of opinion). Take for example, I want to believe that I had more fun chatting with my friend Grace on Facebook ’til one-in-the-morning than I might have drinking. Because I, you know, had to go into work this morning.

Someone also once told me that staring at a computer screen before you decide to hit the sack can cause your mind to believe it’s day time, or some shit like that. Basically, you’re tired, but you mind wants to play. So after hopping off Facebook last night, I couldn’t sleep. And it’s not a complaint. I’d do it all over again because I got to get some things off my chest that I haven’t (due to censorship and pride) been able to say online and at work, respectively.

However, the lack of sleep (and the inability to call in sick) left me grumpy at work. Something that both Mike and Angela picked up right away. Angela told me to drink my coffee for the both of us (she’s given up her two main sources of caffeine), so that my nerves wouldn’t be wound up. Fat chance, though. I never told you about Brittney, have I?

See Brittney was a gift from Workforce to alleviate my stress. When Ms. Lopez left us, the books were taking longer to shelve because there was only me. Stress built up. My coworkers did help me after a bit, realizing how broken I was becoming. But Brittney arrived and things were supposed to go back to normal, like when Ms. Lopez was there. And for a short period, it did. A very short period. Like an hour.

She lodged a complaint against the department because we don’t do anything but sit around. That day, however, we managed to read the shelves (me), decorate the department (Angela), finish the puppet show (Mike), get the A-stand set up (Ruben), decorate the glass shelves and display books (Michael and Angela), and shelve a cart (me) all before her lazy ass did one thing. She believes (and maybe it’s our fault) that she’s staff that she’s capable of doing the things we do when we’re not shelving. And while we do recruit her when she’s needed, she’s not supposed to anything but book/shelf related duties. She also stated she hated taking orders from us that Alexa played favorites because she spoke to us (we’re her staff that’s what she does). It left me pretty fucking annoyed.

This week has been one annoyance from Brittney after another. Starting with her inability to comprehend or complete a task. When we get carts, we get what’s on the cart. Sometimes we’ll divide up the sections (nonfiction, fiction, and easys) and head off. But most of the time, we get what we get, sort them, and shelve them. No. She’d rather do the easys because all she has to do is sit on her fat ass and roll. And even that is too much work for her. The other day, Michael and I divided two carts and sorted them. One nonfiction and one easy. A complete cart of easy was waiting for her. I told her that she didn’t need to sort them because they were in order already. Her reply was, “I’m not taking the whole cart,” as if that were an insane, impossible task to perform. Alexa told her she didn’t want her breaking the carts into smaller parts. Mike told her to take the whole cart. Angela told her that it would be easier to take the whole cart. The entire day at work was spent telling her to take the whole cart. She broke them up in sets of twenty and took an hour to do each set.

Today, Mike, Angela, she, and I shelved books. She dumped most of her cart on Mike because she was in the mindset that we were “dividing and conquering,” though her conquering skills need work. Mike managed to finish his cart of nonfiction; Angela managed the same. I managed to finish my cart of nonfiction, fiction, and easy. All three of us were done before she even dented her cart of easy books. I started reading the shelves while Mike and Angela started opening the new supplies that came in and taking inventory. Britteny? Hovered. I gritted my teeth. I wanted to bark at her that the easy shelves needed reading (according to Angela, Brittney stated she’d done six Thursday and another six Friday, which, of course was bullshit). After a while, I found myself leaving wherever she parked herself. I couldn’t be near her. I kept seeing red. I just imagine taking all the pent up anger I felt and smashing her shitty face with it (not literally, it’s NEVER okay to hit a girl, no matter how fucking annoying she is). I purposely let it slip that she was annoying me to another department worker because Brittney goes there after lunch. I’m hoping that word slips that she’s pissing me off by her inability to do anything but exist.

I don’t mind volunteers who slack off, because they’re not getting paid. But Brittney’s getting at least eight bucks and hour to piss me off. And that, my dear readers, is uncool.