07 November 2016

Courier Bold

After the first time my cooter tried to kill me, I decided it was time to pursue some of that fancy higher education people so often brag about reaching. That way I could outsmart my twat the next time it plotted a coup. I managed to eek out a nice little history degree before cancer kicked me in the learning curve the second time.
But during the time spent chasing that paper, I had started writing again. It began as coursework, and progressed to therapy. I wrote my way through required papers to the point of irritation for those left to read the tomes. After I wrapped up the first few years of study, I found myself writing for more than instructional purposes. I wrote about sick life more and more; connecting with others whose experiences were similar to mine. I found humor in the story; that kooky main character The Volatile Cunt, the hilarity of public puking, parenting with pus-filled bed sores. Time and time again, I turned hospital nights into inspiring tales of spilled wound drainage and filling my kid's pockets with stolen jello.

I still find humor in the story.

After correcting the cooter, round two, I wanted to learn more, so I went back to paying for it. This time, I focused a lot in writing-heavy courses; comprehensive studies in American Literature and Art. American Humanities. American Labor Movements. American Women.

It wasn't by design, but by curiosity.

I'm nosy as fuck, you see.
Or, "constantly inquisitive" as I like to say.

This curiosity, and developed love, was propelled by one of those deeply passionate addictions that I get. The one to know more. The need to know how it got to be like this.
How it got to be like this.
There had to be someone who could tell me. A history professor. Perhaps a sociologist or two. Throw in a couple of those classy political studies guys along the way and I'll be damned if I didn't get myself a graduate degree in this history nonsense. Every step I needed to move foward, semester after semester as I endured being a godamn "nontraditional" student, I ran into the same face over and over.

Bill Meiers.

Eventually, there came a time when I questioned whether I was on the right course of study. Nobody fucking pursues a degree in such a soft major any more.
History though? Focused on AMERICAN History? Are you a fucking dick?
Yes, yes I am. It's a great history, this country of ours. Come get drunk with me some time. I'll learn you something.
 I considered a change in focus that would have meant fewer opportunities for some of the less pertinent writing that I had engaged in. I discussed my inability to make decisions nearly every day with that old familiar face in graded-paper form. That was the year I won the Penland Prize for Short Fiction.

Bill Meiers.

So I kept at it, and earned a few paying gigs. Thrown in a few poetry compilations. Wrote a one-act play. Sold some shit. I slugged along and slugged along. I sat at a computer month after month after month, drinking random alcohol and spewing nonsense at a screen (much like I am now,) while I read and researched the bullshit of expert after expert to fill in blanks on the bullshit I had to say about the same exact fucking thing. I got through the chest-deep American-made horseshit by these delightful moments in which America was where I grew up. I didn't write that stuff for me. I wrote it for the sheer joy that it would bring to that familiar face.

Bill Meiers.

I remember the day way back when I met Professor William Meiers, who preferred you call him "Professor Meiers, or Bill Meiers, or anything except Billy, which is what my mother calls me, or a Plespisbut, which is what the Roman's might call a stick up the you know where,"
He was the kind of guy you remember.
His first required assignment was a paper on the current implications of changing technology on behavior, and whether or not "society is becoming more rude."
I gleefully waited in the back corner as he collected the works the next day. The fluttering rustle of papers filled the room as he walked about the students, lending out his hand at each individual seat. His striking blue eyes would glance down to breeze the first few lines before he would look up and scan the writer's face; seemingly tying the words to the creator's brain with a piercing gaze.
Maybe that was how he could tell the Madisons from the Jordans,
He traversed the room slowly and I followed his progress throughout. Now and then he would comment at a line in the paper he received; here and there a name made him smile. At the triplicate phone case of the third Madison his head turned slightly; wondering if he was allowed to comment on the Madisoness of it all, I suppose.

Bill Meiers.

It had been a longer trip the second time cancer came around. It made me much, much more cynical. On top of the way relationships in my life fell apart, and fell apart, and fell apart.

Finally he had reached my seat upon his journey to collect printed thought. He was a slight man, as a hobby he enjoyed marathon running. Routinely he would participate in triathlons, when 25 mile runs weren't already on his agenda. His grey hair had long since seen the passion he had for life, all 5'7" of him the very embodiment of a twinkle in the eye. He prefered to maintain a connected gaze while he was handed your work; I like to think he had limericks for features to remember them.
Although I nearly always caught his eyes flashing Dolly Parton's voice when they connected with mine.

Is Society Becoming More Rude?

My smile was slightly crooked as my gaze met his, my paper now in his hands as he looked down to the nearly blank top page.

"Fuck You"

His bright blue eyes shot up suddenly as he tried to suppress a chuckle. "Bwah!" He turned bright red behind his smart glasses; the pressure of laughter caught just beneath the surface. His attention turned back to the two lonely words upon the page.

"Indeed, Joleen. Fuck You, indeed."

Bill Meiers is the reason that I could write again, have written these last few years, and the mind that made me think that I can keep doing it. He regularly connected me with people to help build a name from my words; but more imperatively, he changed writing from an emotional outlet into a real piece of who I am.

My daughter stared college this past fall, and the first class I demanded she take was Professor William Meiers Monday/Wednesday Comp 110.

His first paper can be tough, but if you listen, he'll make you tell a story.

Bill Meiers passed away yesterday and the only thing I can do about it is write.

Because if there was a man who has more life in him, I have not yet met that soul. As Bill Meiers was everything that L-I-V-I-N' is supposed to be. And we are all less for it that Bill Meiers could not be with us longer.

So if there is any one thing that I have written that you have read, will read, could read, can read, might read, or should read; let it be this:

Thank You, Bill Meiers.

01 November 2016


I never intended to get this far.
Down the road.
Into this mess.
Without a plan.
Away from myself.

Everyone talks about these directions they follow; towards a goal, off the beaten path, trudging along, climbing the ladder. They ho and they hum, hand shielding their eyes as they squint into the distance, and they anticipate the moment when the happiest existence possible peaks into view on the horizon. The quest for that glorious destination propels them forward, day after day; on to bigger and better things, finding themselves, getting somewhere. Navigation has long since been engaged, a monotone of instruction spewing forth from a tiny voice that exists only in the peripheral. 
"Merge onto the freeway."
"In a quarter mile, take the second left."
"You'll never be right."
Or whatever it is those fancy gps-thingys say. I use a map. Like a godamn truck driver's daughter is supposed to do. The only navigation I need to see out of the corner of my eye is the glowing neon of a 24-hour diner's Hot Coffee sign.
The directions are pretty straightforward; do this, get there
But nobody moves at the same speed. And there's not one other soul caught in the traffic jam that's on the same route as you are. On top of speed traps and trap queens, there's all that other metaphorical nonsense too; missing guardrails, detours, broken stoplights, checkpoints, sinkholes, aggressive drivers, bumps in the road, the rat race, highway to hell. 
Image result for bat out of hell
Meatloaf's bat out of hell.

But continue onward, the directions do. Travelling around curves, rolling through highs and lows. People seem so keen to stay the course. Focused on the path laid out before them. Hearing nothing but the dulcet tone of that guide on the journey, the voice from nowhere.
The one from everywhere.
So condescending,
"Your destination will be up ahead."
Always in the distance that promise of open road; the glimmer of that last red light just around the bend.  Mile after mile of burning the oil, the croon from the corner offering instructional advice.
"Turn around when possible."
"Stay in the center lane."
"At the end of the road, go right."
I don't understand directions.
Says so on my 1st grade report card. 
Mom will dig it out if you ask her to.

So I guess they say I never have understood directions.
I don't find that to be accurate. I understand directions perfectly well. It's that I question under whose authority that the instructions were issued. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Miss Mosser. If that was even your real name. Who are you to tell me left from right.
I need to know neither
I'll get to the same place as everyone, eventually. 
I don't need it to be plotted out for me. I can clearly fucking see the direction I'm headed. Even when it's dead fucking wrong. 
I always want to be the one in charge when I drive into the pond.

This giant sense of "NOW WHAT" encompasses me a lot more now than it ever used to, I never needed an itinerary before. Just Trucking and all that. But fuck, the price of diesel what it is right now, I can't afford to Keep On Keepin On. 

I think I have to pick a new direction.
One way, or another; one way or another.

I think I've known for awhile.
The construction along this road tore my tread to shit. Absolutely destroyed my alignment. So you see, I had no drive system. And everybody said the way would be nicer for it, but I wouldn't know.
I had already long passed there.

For now, I'm going to take the road to work and make it through the day.

I'm just waiting for my truck to warm up. 
And I know there's a diner up ahead.

19 September 2016

I Feel That.

I anticipate that one day I will be spontaneous. 
It'll come on suddenly, maybe after the morning meeting. I can see it probably being a Tuesday, mid-October seems likely.  
Surely no one will expect a strange outburst from me. 
I might not even be wearing a Tuesday Teal work-shirt. I might switch things up and wear Muddy Monday Brown. 
Flip the script all together.
Spontaneity is wild like that. 

I'll start telling myself now about this upcoming spontaneous day; I need time to prepare. I'd rather not catch myself unaware. I'm not great with changes to my routine.

I recently had an emotional outburst. 

This picture doesn't pertain to the writing. 
It just makes me feel better. 
It looks like they're holding hands. 
I fucking hate emotions.

Moving really shook my jar a little. 
Rattled my jam. 
Not the physical actual labor of moving, that bothered me none at all. The fluidity in which I can relocate an entire household is an absolute vision of mastery. It's almost as if I pack and move boxes like an organized professional. 
No, I won't help you move.
It's the newness of new things that has me feeling new. More aptly: I need a definitive idea of what in the fuck is going on before I can proceed. But the development of a new routine takes time; and in the interim, there is no fucking routine. And a lack of a clear plan has put a loop in my brain. 
And here I am, loop in my brain just fucking whirling, while one new thing after another swirls by and pushes around and lands on top of my face. The black and white constantly blending to grey. 
Life just muddled as fuck. 

I think people call these "growing pains." The problem is that I've been 4'11" since seventh grade, and the closer I get to forty, the less likely that I'm going to hit any kind of late bloom. And all things considered, I think I'm adjusting as well as any parent could to their only child graduating high school and becoming an adult.

I bought a yellow key. 
I'm not saying that this is the only contributing factor to my current state of disarray; but I do blame it solely on that. 

I'm not going to let this one get the better of me. Not this time. I'm carrying the yellow key. I'm okay with just getting coffee wherever. I'm embracing the thought of unplanned shenanigans. 
Well, I am now. 
I just had to get used to the idea.
I'm still getting used to the idea.

The yellow key makes me look at things differently. 
That's not accurate. 
The yellow key is just a yellow key. It comes into the story as nothing more than a yellow key. It just so happens to be new, and on a keychain that is often in my hand. And I tend to look at my hands during conversations in which I am uncomfortable. Which is all conversations.
I stare at the yellow key with fifty million things racing through my mind. I stare at the yellow key and I don't say a word. I jingle it to a rhythm only I can hear, and I let my head find a melody.
The yellow key gives me a distraction, a moment to find the groove for my speeding thoughts. It pauses the race just long enough to give penalty flags time to fly when my mouth opens. 

I recently had an emotional outburst. 
I felt bad. 
And I cried. 
At the same time.
A disheveled mess of feeling, dumped out unexpectedly. Oh sure, I saw the build-up when I looked back. But I just never figure that emotions can catch me if I keep moving. 
That's why I'm always ready to walk away.
Keys in hand.
October 18th, I figure. 
If you guys want to plan something spontaneous too.

05 June 2016

Full Frontal

The mirror in my hallway has been waiting to be hung since the day I moved in.

I've been here six years.

It's not that I'm not capable; the art adorning every damn wall throughout my third-floor walk-up quite points to the opposite. Except the framed middle finger. That points up.
It's also the answer I give when someone asks if I "need help with that?"
No, I don't need help. I put this desk together my own damn self.
I've mounted shelves and installed wall brackets to hold bicycles. 
Yeah, I've fabricated units and assembled some shit.
Hell, I sanded and stained the entire length of my balcony deck when I moved in, just so I could be certain of the last time it was done.
I daresay, my toolbox is pretty nice. 
I have a hammer drill.

None of this impresses me when all I can see is my feet.

The mirror is a two-man job, you see. 

No, you probably can't see either.

Don't get me wrong, you can get a titty-pic in the frame if you stand way up the hallway and lean at just the right angle. But it's just such an awkward pose that it takes a good ten minutes to un-kink my back and I don't see the gains outweighing the cost.
I'm just not sending enough titty pics to warrant a yoga class.

Less than two months until the move to a new place. 

I had decided, after the third or fourth time of asking for help, that I wasn't going to press the issue any further. The godamn mirror could sit on the fucking floor. I've never had the nerve to handle an entire view of myself at once anyway. 
I'm sure I could piece together a whole image in my mind if I was tortured and it was my only option for survival. 
Like a color-by-number but with random naked texts. 

Self-confidence is a son of a bitch. 

Especially when you have none. 

I look at my feet a lot.
Which is perfect,
because I have a mirror that sits on the fucking floor.

I didn't ask to be a feminist.
You don't have to fucking ask to be a feminist.
You dumb cunt.
Didn't ask. 

Gender roles are eerie.
Dictating assignments based on the placement of hormone generators seems about as logical as the assumption that I'm not capable of holding a higher position; "like a woman could do my job."
   I'm sorry my internal nutsack doesn't make me qualified to walk with such a load of shit in my pants.
I have no time for more responsibility as it is; it's not like I don't have a dinner to make anyway, amIright,

I'm far more offended by the suggestion that I better be a good cook.
Bitch, I am a good cook.
Do you not see the size of these thighs?
These are rib-eating thighs.

You should be impressed with all of the other shit I can do.

Or not.
I don't really give a fuck if you're impressed.

And that's when feminism landed on me.

I turned out to be a lot of things in life that I never intended to be.
Fighting the system from within.

Less than two months until the move to a new place.

It's only one suburb over and up to the left, BUT IT'S ONE SUBURB OVER AND UP TO THE LEFT. It's a nice end-unit townhouse next to the local park and bike trail. There's a micro-brewery a few blocks over, and a farmer's market every Saturday. It's ten minutes from work, and in a straight godamn line even. My tattoo parlor is right up the way, and my favorite bar is practically blocking the path to get there. It's everything I looked for in the next direction I wanted to take, BUT IT'S ONE SUBURB OVER AND UP TO THE LEFT.


I bet"it's complicated" is an option on the application for the new fucking Rotary Club.

Are the Suburb² Police going to want to catalogue my tattoos on Instagram?

Do I have to pay higher taxes if I turn down the chance to live in an abandoned factory?

These questions haunt me.
Along with "What in the fuck makes you think that I can't do your job even better than you just because I'm a woman?",
"are pork rinds a meat?"

Doing that change thing again.
Willingly, it seems.

Inevitably; it was.

There's a great story that gets passed around my family every few years, mixed in with the fantastical fish tales of dead brothers far and wide, and I've heard it enough to believe that it happened.
The sun glitters upon the edge of a blue rimmed water in a quiet valley; the sound of the local station blaring from the pool-side radio warbled by miles of distance and static. A sleepy family spots the scenery, here and there dozing on the woven plastic chaise-loungers of the 80's whose click-to-set sound you either remember or you don't. In the corner of the small fenced yard, a grill puffed out a succession of intervals known as "Summer Minutes," the bursts of charcoal-fused water vapor ticking the afternoon lazily away.
Next to the indigo depths of the in-ground pool of water, a few small children bantered wittingly about. Well, I was witty. Jimmy was bantering. Jake was small. We were all children. We were all about.
There are few details that I recall with accuracy and certainty.

If there were ten people at the poolside on this particular afternoon, it's safe to assume there are twenty different versions of what happened next.

I know that one moment I was next to the water...
... the next, a light glow rose above my head as i looked up. The movement of everything so slow-motion; my eyes coated in a yellow I could not blink away. Moments felt like i was sinking and so fucking heavy, nothing different there. 
 The quiet, though.  
 Quiet I will never forget.
 The space above me began to bubble and my reach was plucked upward, my arms raised to cover my face from the boiling point just above my head. My nose began to burn and my chest felt so empty; I remember little else. 
 I've been drowning ever since. 

For years, as the story was told, everyone knew that Jimmy reached down into the water as I sank and pulled my tiny self to the surface. It was Jimmy that saved me, of this we were certain.
I think Jimmy pushed me in.
Never was my older brother a fan of being shown up by a girl. I asked for help, I'm sure I did, as I began to sink into the water. I asked for help at least three times before I looked down at my feet.
Less than two months until the move to a new place.

If i wasn't so stubborn, that mirror would stay on the fucking floor. 

I'll do it myself, I know that I can. 
I'll get my kid to help me, I know that I could. 
I'll give up on it, I know that I should. 
It wouldn't matter if I was a man.

It should come as no surprise that I fucking hate the color yellow.
And asking for help.
But even more than that,
I hate looking in the mirror.

Less than two months until the move to a new place.

12 May 2016


It's summer hat season.
This quite excites me for a number of reasons; the biggest of which is my ability to find a brim so floppy and low that I can avoid interactions with any other humans during the sunlit hours. A hat procured purely for the purpose of shielding my eyes and facial expressions from the prying gazes of the daywalkers fluttering about on their nice-weather way. 
A hat that exclaims, with unequivocal certainty, 
"I don't want to fucking talk to you."
Nailed It.

I've worked the third shift for nearly a decade straight, and sporadically for a lot longer if the years of bartending hadn't been more drinking than working. The overnight nets a creepy accumulation of odd characters and various miscreants; it's where the devious go to relax. There's an assortment of duty-bound fuck-ups and cash-strapped down-on-their-lucks. Even the atmosphere holds the scent of decaying promise; the whiff of early morning bakeries swirling in the air while rotting dumpster essence is spritzed like perfume by the rumbling garbage trucks that pass by. 

Obviously I love it.

Third shift is rough-and-tumble. There's very little polite conversation; hell, there's very little conversation at all, and the bulk of that is rude as fuck. Pleasantries don't apply after midnight. I learned that at the players ball.
Hey. You Up?
Third shift doesn't offer excuses, it's just fucking there, tucked away all nonchalant-like; a forty-year-old carnie with nothing but a shadow for company. The hours turn to overnight and the logical world powers down. The irreverent come first, creeping up slowly as the midnight hour passes. Out beyond bedtime and defying all the rules; hitting the bars and bro time and wooo! They aggravate the convenience store clerks precisely enough for them to blow off making coffee for the post-booze crowd delivery men. The bread risers and newspaper tossers. The road crews line the counter with a flourish of reflective neon green; the chorus line of groaning at the lack of fresh java an eerily choreographed show.

A grunt and a point. 
That's all the communication required to get a fresh cup of coffee on the third shift.

Sometimes a loud sigh is merited, but manners dictate a kind "rough night?" is uttered to the frazzled coffee/smoothie/drunk-guy burrito maker clerk that is on duty. If you're not willing to comisserate on the shittyness of the night for another third-shift worker, you have no grounds upon which to lay your own bullshit circumstance. 
Because it doesn't matter who you are, and what you may be tasked to do; you surely have not done everything right in life if you are heading in to work as the moon looks on. From the burrito clerk at the convenience store to the manager running the overnight at a multi-billion dollar shipping hub, nobody has had a smooth road if they landed at an alarm that beckons before the previous day even ends.
Nobody has much to say on third shift, and even less room to judge. I don't know why the guy at the gas station wears socks and flip-flops all year round. I know his idea of Good Morning is to silently stare, and that's okay with me. I don't care if the guy from the toll booth is a creepy pervert, I have an EZ-Pass. I don't ask why the guy sneaking garbage into the megaconglomerate corporation's dumpsters doesn't use the ones out back by the loading dock like the people that run #1 Chinese Star Restaurant do. I usually don't even mind when the counter girl has to give me change in all quarters because the safe with the paper money is locked until the manager comes in.

I care about none of this stuff just the same as these people don't care about my tattoos. They aren't even impressed by the escalating ridiculousness of my hats. They don't mind that I walk in singing; they could care less about my mumbling narration of my activities as I swear at the cunt coffee for being so hot. Try that shit around a daywalker one time and see how fast they yank their Northfaced toddler away to the other side of the store.

I mean, I still do the exact same fucking thing during the daytime. 
But you should watch how quickly suburban moms usher their douche-lings into retreat. It's hilariously comical, in a "I'm sad that you are teaching your children to be so hateful" sort of way.

I"m not always great at expressing my feelings in spoken form.
I'm not always great at expressing my feelings.
I'm not great at feelings.
Or expressings.
Or spoken.
Or always.

I'm not always great.

Third shift doesn't need me to be great. Third shift is pretty happy that I showed up, and even happier that I am both cognitive and functioning. Third shift knows that I just want to get the work done and go the fuck home. Third shift doesn't expect me to do anything more than today; which is fucking terrific, because by 11pm, I've got a good start on today.

Third shift doesn't care that I have nothing to say; no answers, no questions.

In the middle of the night, I'm able to respond to nearly every sentiment I encounter with a bob of the head. After dark, I can express sympathy with a tilt of the chin. I'm able to convey agitation with a wobble of the jaw. Excitement comes in the form of a brisk down-shake of the dimples. Curiosity flashes in a swing of inquisitive blue eyes. Humor gathers in a crooked grin.

I've been known to make it to dawn before even saying a word. 

There's so much to say, you know.
So it stands to reason.

I don't have anything to say.
You know.

10 May 2016

Just Another Day

I'm not trying to catch a break.
I'm just trying to not catch the clap.

Do the kids still say the clap? Probably not. Unless it's a hipster dance move. What do the kids catch in this day and age, the Pokémon?

I'm just trying to not catch the Pokémon.

Eventually you get tired of people trying to push you off the soapbox.
I know I am.
I can't even stand on it anymore, it hurts my head like the buzzing of a million "me!"s. There's no room for reason or logic on the soapbox at this point; what with all the hollering of bullshit and greed. Hell, it's been some time since I've lost sight of where to right the wrong. And who was right in their wrongs. What is right with the wronged. When to write of the wronging.
And Why?
Maybe I'm on the wrong side of right.


I've been using my brother's ashes as a stand to hold the Golden Snitch.

One nice perk of being on the soapbox; at least up there you can see what's coming. It's once you've lowered yourself to new depths that you get slapped with all sorts of shit from unknown angles. People can't wait to step on you. Or push you down further.
What's under the soapbox?
All the mittens you lost as a child, is my guess.
Either that or your willingness to compromise. It crawled in there years back when you got all high and mighty; you know the day. The day that started like any other but went on to become the first time you stood for something. The day you won an argument with management on merit and solemnly looked into the distance knowing that someone, somewhere (third shift in a union shop, preferably), needed your help. The day when you thought you took a side.

Funny thing about the soapbox; it doesn't really have a side.

It's never been a problem for me to stay balanced on the tiny perch of integrity that comes and goes like the tide.

(If we could all just take a moment, a brief pause from the obviously depressing direction this is heading, and recognize the word craftsmanship that I applied here. It's never been a problem for me to stay balanced on the tiny perch of integrity that comes and goes like the tide.  Like, A SOAP-BOX. HAHAHAHAAAA.)

It's never been a problem for me to stay balanced on the tiny perch of integrity that comes and goes like the tide. I have this ability to let most things wash out around me and still pick up the pieces that need handled with care. I understand the mechanics of what happens under the surface; I know what needs spinned.
I like bubbles.
The last part has no bearing on the progression of the writing, nor is it a metaphor. Getting lost in laundry thoughts always leads to bubbles. It's inevitable.
Like getting tired of people trying to push you off the soapbox.

I live in the fucking middle.
I see both sides of everything.

I've been known to hash out points from both sides before anybody else even speaks. I understand all of the issues that everybody has all the time ever. I can pre-solve problems. I didn't ask to get on the soapbox, I was elevated to it by the stairway of doing the right fucking thing.
I've tried to stand tall for the benefit of others, even when things are swirling around me. I've fought the good fight and fought the power and raged at the machine and Florenced the machine. I've taken the hits and bled some colors; I've run out of laundry references.

Why are people standing on soapboxes? What's wrong with milk crates or step-ladders. I mean, they'll never be real ladders, but they try.

I think it's a pretty even compromise; my brother and the snitch.

In the long run, you don't just get tired of people trying to push you off the soapbox; your eyes get tired of watching your back, your chin gets tired of taking shots, your knees get tired of standing tall. Your stubborn nature pushes up on one corner of the platform, your faith in man tugging at the other. Suddenly the day comes that topples the soapbox end over end.
 You know the day.
The day that started out like any other but by twenty minutes in, you realize that you've been getting fucked. Not even done with your coffee and you take a jizz shot of cognizance to your consciousness. You've been getting fucked by believing in integrity and merit. Suddenly it dawns on you that you've taken it pretty fucking hard in the ass under the guise of the greater good.
Half way through the day, and you're still ruminating over how many times you've probably been fucked that you missed because you didn't notice where the dick was until way too late. You've been getting fucked by the assumption that honor and morals and hahahahahahahaha.
The day that points out that you've been fucked by the voice of candor that you've spouted from atop your box of cleanliness, so high and mighty.
Fucked by hypocrisy.
Fucked by nobility.
Fucked by nearly everything you believe in.

The day that you start using your brother's ashes as a household prop.

The day that you notice that you've been getting fucked so hard that it feels like blisters.

Fuck I hope it's not Rapidash.

08 May 2016

Sew Buttons on Ice Cream Cones

I wasn't born to be a mother.
I wasn't born to be much of anything, for that matter, I think it rather surprised everyone when I became something.
Something other than a fuck-up.
(yeah, maybe i'm still working on it.)

With my lineage, the mother part was probably more expected than anything. Unless you count "resident of a correctional facility" as an expectation. Didn't Get Pregnant in High School was my most touted superlative prior to being voted Most Free Spirited in the closing days of my senior year.
It's a damn shame that I look so young now; frequently when my daughter and I are together people speculate that I was a young teenage mother.

Assumptions piss me off; I worked really fucking hard to not get knocked up as a moppet.

So what if she's good bit taller and already looks closer to grown-up than she should. One of us needs cookies to survive, so what if it's me. So what if she's more refined and demure and doesn't break into song in the middle of the grocery store like I do. One of us has to go on a rant about the necessity of late-night rule-breaking at Hogwarts; so what if it was me. So what if I never sleep and listen to music too loud while I drive; so what if I get into emoji arguments on the internet. One of us has to check the mail and keep an inventory of the food and monitor gasoline levels, so what if it's her. So what if she always has clean socks. So what if she knows when to go to bed and eats healthy meals.

I ate yesterday.
Slept then too.
I think.
I definitely drank.

The greatest misinterpretation of my lust for life is presumption that I am immature, or even worse, incapable.

I suppose I can accept "immature." The regularly visible wizard robes don't exactly lend themselves any sort of gravitas. Singing questions to the surprisingly startled customer service industry workers isn't quite the cultivated behavior expected by the fourth decade.  The Harry Potter tattoos aren't exactly screaming of a developed opinion in any steady-income-providing area of expertise.
I could easily see how one could surmise that my behavior is adolescent; perhaps even saving hurt feelings by offering a kind comment on my "youthful spirit."

Despite a lack of insight into all of the years I struggled to remain carefree while drowning under cancer treatment, a snap judgement of my ability to connect to my now-teenage daughter obviously qualifies you to determine what kind of parent I must be.
So what, you think I'm immature.
I'm ok with that.

Fuck you if you think I'm incapable.

Nonconformity is not the enemy.
Laughter is not a battle cry.

As a fledgling my daughter was a wonder of joyful delight. She was well-spoken and adorable, just as smart as all could be; she would sit, barely age three, at the counter to greet customers as they entered the sewing shop where we spent our days. Just a wisp of a thing, usually singing along to the pop hits on the radio mounted to the wall, the notebook perched in front of her covered with various notations of sheer brilliance undecodable to anyone else's eyes. She would intensely welcome any new interlopers and demand to know their business in the kingdom she ruled; pen poised to scribble at a moment's notice if needed.
Customers would chuckle, and state their purposes with a patronizing tone, mistaking her glare at their condescension for a furrowed brow deep in concentration. She'd look over at me with a sigh and walk the hem-seeker to a dressing room at a pace she thought they could follow. She would use manners and make people smile, she waited on nearly every person to come in for tailoring services. In her down time, when she wasn't busy visiting the barber and the baker, she wrote letters to her favorite musicians and drew pictures for the mail man.
What an asshole.

Once school began, the daughter became as fascinated with the quest for knowledge as I had always been. Everything was questioned. Nosy little shit. Learning was another grand adventure to the monkey. We lived in a different neck of the woods than where I had originally hailed from, but her dad's hometown was where we settled for the start of her journey to master everything. The early years of my kid attending elementary school in a small town that focused so much attention on individual students made the benefits of living there greatly outweigh the prejudice and bigotry (during school hours.) 
Life for her was structured around whether the day needed gym shoes or a paint shirt, godamn it; not whether or not your pap worked at Armstrong or Woolrich. 
One explanation of why I could never fit in around that secluded corner of the county: I didn't have a Pap. I was basically the walking embodiment of someone who didn't like the chicken wings at the Hotel. Because I didn't like the wings at the Hotel. I din't like them at the Linger, Legion, or Copperhead either. I liked them at Happy Acres. 
My heart was still three valleys and another creek away.

As death and disease tend to bring, change came when my brother died and I was diagnosed with cooter cancer. After a pretty relaxed (and not in any way disruptive, disastrous, or detrimental, and I'm completely lying) period of mourning for the loss of a close part of my life, I needed to relocate to a larger city with more options for cleansing the corruption of my uterus, such as it was.
I dedicated most of my energy and all of my spirit on the fight to get through treatment. It was not an easy stretch of time on anyone near me; panic and depletion, exhaustion and sickness, aggressive abandonment of hope. I tried all that I could to distance my kid from the soul-sucking leach that cancer disguised itself as to no avail; she refused to remain in residence at a place where I was not. Not long after I signed a lease in glorious West Philadelphia, the daughter unpacked her things and called the tiny apartment her new home.
I've pondered a few times on how different it must have been on her innocent mind to go from a rural house with a half-acre backyard to a third floor two-bedroom with two windows. It didn't bother me as much because I was entirely dead inside by then. Chemotherapy had long since destroyed any sense of existence that would long for a connection to the outside world. I am certain my daughter felt some reprieve from the bleakness when her father decided to try his own version of outer-city life on for size as well. Even so, she would go on to finish her primary education in the nicest urban neighborhood I could afford.
Eventually, I slowly started to climb the recovery rope and was able to start working again. The contractual ladder of learning my new trade hoisted me further along and I was able to procure a relocation to the near-suburbs just as the kid landed on the brink of middle school.
Not that she didn't absolutely love school in the city,
it was just... different... for her.
Hint: She's fairly light -skinned. And she's not wearing tank top.

I guess I could have moved back to the middle of the mountains at that point, but there's no fucking way that I would move back to the middle of the mountains, so that was out of the question. I had seen more of the world, and I had not given up hope.

So as close to the suburbs as my union paycheck would allow me to creep I went. And the daughter landed her flute-playing self in a middle school with a band program.
I worked every shift I could to support us, and I pushed her. She studied and she played, and I worked and I pushed her. Her dad helped. By the end of middle school, she was devoted to the flute and her music and kept near-perfect grades and she wanted her eyebrow pierced.
So what if she has an eyebrow ring.
Freshman year she joined marching band, which was an astonishing act of commitment for my timid girl; and then she added jazz band, orchestra, and color guard by the end of the year. Sophomore year, she also played in concert band and symphonic winds and she asked if my tattoo artist would ink a small music note upon her wrist. If she finished the school year with a 3.85 or better GPA, I replied.
So what if she has a little tattoo.
Or ten by now.

At least I know it's quality work.
I pay for it.

Fuck you if you think I'm incapable.

My daughter will make your life better just by being a part of it.
She is fair in a way that a closed mind will never be. She is compassionate for things I could never understand. She is intelligent and resourceful; she is courteous and helpful; she is caring and she is beautiful music.

So what if I'm unconventional and talk about titty pics with a high school daughter. So what if my kid knows my opinion on both big black cock and the merits of anal on a Thursday afternoon. So what if cooking dinner after working third shift means having a 9 a.m. beer while you and your daughter make pizza.
Tattoos, so what.
Write on the walls, so what.
Cursing girlfriends, so what.
Jean jackets, so what.
So what if a 17-year-old senior takes off from high school early on a Friday in May to have burritos at the bar and hear her mother talk about how her work night consisted of a full hazmat response that was caused by vibrating boxes of dildos getting loaded into tractor trailers. Again.
So what if I've told a few stories about my past, and all of the glorious mistakes that go with it. So what if my daughter chimes in with the "because you were poor" when I talk about holidays. So what if we remember things together, and experience things differently. So what if I speak to her like she's a human being who society will soon expect to make, and answer for, her own decisions.

One of us has to be willing to talk about how we got here, and where to go next.
And what to do when you fuck that part up.
 So what if it's both of us.

Just because we're different doesn't mean we're not perfect.
So what.

03 May 2016


There's this place that I belong; on the verge of nowhere at the edge of something. It's become a safe place for me, quite undefined and murky as fuck. It's cloudy and ill-conceived, with no discernible borders but a rather ambiguous threshold.
Morals come and go, depending on a good orgasm count. That's not science or anything, just my opinion. I've done the research, sure. Maybe even formulated a hypothesis or two. Skipped over a few principles on my way to a climax.
Even so,
I try not to cross the fucking line.

The line gets hard to see when your life is murky as fuck.

I started taking classes at the local university the last semester of my ninth grade in high school. It was this wonderful program that allowed for smart dipshits like me to take college-level classes in areas where we excelled, rather than resorting to criminal mastermind behavior. The benefits were imagined to be multi-fold; the completion of the first year of college would likely ensure that I remained dedicated to pursue a degree, the added course load and challenging work had the potential to keep me from illicit activities, and a change of scenery while boarding in a dorm room miles from home would be beneficial to my depression and anxiety issues.
Spoiler Alert: tanked three for fucking three on that lot.

I was a delightfully engaging and thoroughly attentive student; scoring points with faculty and students alike. I discovered new history, and learned the geography under my feet. I delved into the economics of why I didn't have any money, and computed the statistics it would take to get me the fuck out of there. I soaked up knowledge of this groovy new technology called "the internet" and  opened the connectivity to other oddball outcasts such as myself.

And then on the second day, I remembered that I was unsupervised.

There is plenty of evidence (in court storage) to negate the alleged positive effects of dropping a fifteen year old into the center of a college campus. A fifteen year old with a propensity for dark doings. Living in a dorm.
Are you fucking mad?
I stayed for the next semester too, because of course I fucking did.
After that, I believe the juvenile probation officer deemed the campus to be outside of my "house arrest zone," as if the 500 yards surrounding my home was a hot new hangout where all the cool kids went. My depression got a little worse after that; being confined to a repurposed train station in the heart of an empty valley is enough to drive anyone off the tracks. And rails. Oh, I did rails. We ALL did rails.

The biggest lesson that I gleaned from the hours of community service, the weeks of juvenile confinement, the months of reporting for cup-pissing, and the surprise visits to the my section of the back-country by obviously-lost government family service workers, was to keep my fucking mouth shut.
I learned all sorts of other things along the way too, things you only bring up on drunken nights or in blog company. Like rolling joints with tampon wrappers and bible pages; how to fake basketball; using the phrase "behind you," drinking Jacob's Best beer, how to hide in a drainage tunnel, the chemistry of chewing pills, where the biggest drainage tunnels were, the proper method of destroying a hard drive, the importance of hand-drawn plans, how to stitch up a shin gouge from crawling in a drainage tunnel that was too small, and when to keep your fucking mouth shut.
I learned all sorts of wrong things along the way too, things I don't usually bring up even when I am drunk.
Those are the skills I use while dealing with management.

There's this place at the brim of nothing and the corner of somewhere that I like to stand. Teetering between knowing what the fuck I'm doing and seeking gratification for no deed I've left undone. Wanting to stand poetically backlit by my sanctimonious rantings on incorruptibility; knowing where I come to be, where I come from, where I came last.

Whiskey and motherfucking water.
It burns, and oh god how it burns.
It burns in the way that only whiskey does, caramel smooth and hard. It burns in the way that you fucking know is going to hurt later. YOU FUCKING KNOW. And you swig the water, smiling with false confidence, like the water... like the water can stop the burn. 

There's this pace of trying to belong that I keep trying to meet. Like eventually I'll get to the point of being dead inside wherein I experience a period of regrowth.
Maybe I think orgasm is the skeleton key to unlock the alternate universe where I don't hate myself.

I don't know when I crossed the line.
Some days I would tell you I haven't.
Some days I would show you a video.

14 April 2016

Going On Tour

Do you remember the summer after high school?

The blur of graduation a slight fade behind you; the horizon of your future unrealistically at your feet. That frozen moment to which your lust for innocence is clinging (*snort*); a joyous respite in the midst of that sea of change.

The Summer After High School.

So full of hope, bursting with pride, or in my case an overwhelming urge to get arrested; Graduation ignites these things within developing minds. It triggers a reach toward independence, a desire to grow in your own direction, and temporarily offsets insecurity with a taste of freedom. It breeds the false confidence demonstrated while vocally slinging lofty personal and professional goals to all those far and wide.
As if somehow seventeen-year-old Me could have nailed this one.
"Ah, yes, thank you for asking, third-in-law's divorced sister's gynecologist. I DO want to elaborate upon my desire to barely scrape by in a field I hardly studied (while earning any one of my three degrees) but am certain I can learn to love without cutting myself."

I did stuff.
And things.
I specifically remember that there could be things.

It was the 90's.

Man, I was really into jam bands for a while there (a crusty twirler,) and the summer after high school was a cavalcade of ribbon-laced spins, and shows, and I want to say camping? I was committed to toe the line, but I had a little time before the boot came down, and I got them wandering feet.
Not even I know if that's a line from a Phish song or not.
It fucking could be.
I was bit by the concert bug much earlier than graduation. The normal rite of passage that comes with turning sixteen meant so much more to me; driving meant road trips to see live music. Concerts are the only thing (aside from causing my mother any further suffering, of course) that kept me out of detention facilities after arrests number one through... all the ones after that. I had a job in the kitchen of a pretty popular family restaurant along the highway making around forty dollars a week. and gas was only ninety-ridiculous-fucking-cents or whatever. And a case of beer was like thirteen fucking dollars.

Still fucking is, Natty Light.
Still Fucking. Is.

 On the weekends we would load up anything we could fit into the two-tone hatchback '91 LeMans and we would fucking head.
Phish. Dave Matthews. Rusted Root. Gov't Mule. Big Head Todd. O.A.R., Live (the early "Beauty of Grey" years), The String Cheese Incident. Poe. Even fucking Hootie. Any band that played at any venue (mostly colleges) within a few hours drive of where we were.
We didn't have GPS or Google Maps.
Yes we fucking got lost.

The journeys that turning sixteen allowed my hillbilly ass can hardly be recounted in words (yet). There was something in my gypsy-truckdriver cross-spliced genetic code that planted my ass on the road before I had a choice in the matter. Mistake me not, I was happier than I had ever been; I drove places. Within months of acquiring a driver's license I had memorized exits by mile marker between my house in the village and the city of brotherly concert venues that I now call home. The tiny valley that threatened to close in on me suddenly opened to a whole new world; I finally had a way over the fucking mountain. Before I even had my first delivered pizza,  I saw Laser Floyd.

I still know all the exits by mile marker.

I don't remember much about the summer after high school, except for the shows. I recall certain faces, most of them long dead; and with first thought I conjure up the smell of holding hands.
Fairly certain he went on to hang himself.
But, oh how we drove, to shows.
I saw bands that no longer exist. I saw bands that shouldn't still exist. I saw bands in bars. I saw bands in barns. I slept in my car, I slept in the yard.
Another fucking Phish lyric.
I think.


It stands to reason that my only child would have inherited one oddball gypsy quirk or another. Turns out she got them all. All. She's a professionally trained twirler, for christsake. And she marches with the motherfucking band.
We started going to concerts together in 2006, the daughter and I. November, to be precise. Citizen Cope at the Electric Factory. It was a great show, and we've seen Cope three or four times since. Once with his talented counterpart.
And another four dozen or so other shows of various artists.
Awolnation. Anberlin. Imagine Dragons. Matisyahu. Warped Tours. Punk Shows. FESTIVALS.
Dancing in the rain;
 bass player on the train;
handed a drumstick in the crowd;
hang with the band before things get loud. 

Those aren't even lyrics.
We did those things.
We raced a band from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. We talked books with acoustic and tattoos with hard rock. We saw a band on every record tour of their eight-album existence. We've seen human hamster balls and rotating drum kits; heard it all from orchestra accompaniment to striped-down ukulele.
One time, we went to a show at an all-Christian college. 
Creepiest. Crowd. Ever.

The daughter and I enjoy going to shows.
I've pushed her into the pit, and pulled her to the front. We'll hit the fuckin merch table later. She's learned that we're not trying to leave the parking lot early, and she better elbow a bitch in the tit if they creep any closer on the left. There's no point in boozing, you're going to sweat it out on the floor, you need to have water; and the first motherfucker that steps on my foot will be credited with the start of the melee. 

Unless it's acoustic. Never fuck with the music.

Creativity is such an important part of what kept me alive as a teenager. It still does now. It's a dark world inside a mind that never shuts the fuck up. The sound, the melody, rhythm, harmony, whatever other words describe music; that shit is so godamn soothing to a loud brain.
A pattern for the beast to follow.
Music is the force that allowed me not to fall into the trap of delinquent-cliché that plagued so many of the characters in Mark Twain's musings. 
When I started to notice the same intensity in her that I struggle with in my own right, introducing my daughter to the beautiful distraction of live music seemed natural. She was propped up by a few brilliant caring coaches and one insanely-dedicated music teacher, always supportive grandparents, and a Dad that basically kicks ass; add to that a rather off-the-wall mother with a passion for living the best life, and she was able to pull that ingrained ferocity into a desire to learn and produce her own preoccupations. She found a way to turn that ill-lighted uncertainty into crisp notes of soulful spirit.

I've seen this coming since that first time 2nd-grade Simmy played the harmonica to a crowd in West Philly.

Her Summer After Graduation.

Twenty One Pilots tickets.

From a stadium concert in
 Hershey, Pennsylvania
to a dream show in
Red Rocks, Colorado.

And all the sandwiches on the way.

Top priority of the summer.


23 February 2016

Over Here

His girlfriend is his homescreen.

She's pretty.

I didn't intend to see the pic.
There's an orchid on my dining room table, a recently new acquisition. I wouldn't grow a plant under normal circumstances; but this was a gift that I've resigned myself to being in charge of, so the orchid falls under my gaze upon regular intervals out of sheer spite. I walked to the kitchen to get a whiskey glass, as had become apropos to the situation. My feet glided on the smooth floor a millisecond faster than normal, my pussy-like reflexes being heightened at the time, and I spun quicker than my controlled grace typically demonstrates.
Picture a godamn five-year-old being a ballerina.
In the midst of a smile-filled twirl, my eyes were drawn to the orchid just as the cellphone on the table glowed to life; the backlight illuminating her already bright cheeks, their caramel color bringing to mind the sweetest of sugar.
She's quite pretty.

I'm rather certain there's some bullshit psychology that explains exactly how I got here, despite my adamant protests of not knowing how I got here.

My superpower would be Justification of My Actions.

I've been confused for so long over what constitutes emotional achievements and how to appease the society gods of interpersonal relationships. Marriage worked really well for me, I swelled with pride and fat. Mostly fat. Ick. Even way back before my Women's Studies degree, there was something about the patriarchal construct of  the modern definition of marriage that made me swell up.
Divorce looked better on me, way less fat. No fucking pride whatsoever, though. I learned a lot about loyalty when I had none. And it's surprising how cheap you can feel when you pay for everything. Also strange, the people that come out of the woodwork to stick their dick in you when you lose a few pounds and a husband.

Fuck, the stupid shit that I did would sell movies. And arrest warrants in Minnesota. It feels like I've barely payed the penance for those crimes and it's already time to commit more. Even way back before my American Studies degree, there was something about the plutocracy that made me want to rebel against the societal definitions of moral behavior.

In all honesty, I've had but one person that I've leaned on throughout the years, and the only reason he survived the knife I stuck in his side was because I knew enough first aid to patch him up after I stabbed him. I didn't want my kid to grow up without a dad; and say what you will about the big guy, he's one hell of a man in my book to be good at that.
But my outlook on dedication changed after the divorce, as you would expect. You'd have to read my earlier heart-wrenching tales of discovering infidelity, his hating of my dead brother, and lack of desire to cosplay as a single wizard to understand the full expanse of my heartache. Even after all that, I really have my heart set on growing old in the Appalachians until Stu finds me dead some morning after drinking. That's as close to retirement planning as I've gotten. But until then, I'm going to keep getting up and going to work.

I spend my days just trying to find stuff to do until bedtime.

Relationships have never been part of the stuff I do. When you know who you plan to die with, it matters very little who you spend your life with. I've tried a few here and there. The young ones fall in love a lot faster than I anticipated. I grew out of that phase real fucking fast. The old ones are way too demanding, with their "babe" and their "enlarged prostate." The ones that are my age don't understand why I have the life experience of the latter but yet still refuse to take off the wizard robes while we fuck.

Godamnit, why did she have to be fucking pretty.

It was one of those things.
You know, those stuff and things.
That happen.
Unintentionally random that slipped into a feel good before I knew it. Like a shocker, but if shocker actually meant "once a week." It was ideal for me, of course; I'm just passing time until Stu gets over his humping-the-leg phase. In fact, I've made it relatively clear with a decade of tattoos and inappropriate comments, that I have absolutely nothing to offer. If, for whatever reason, a person was able to laugh at my comments and/or appreciate my tattoos, I used the phrase "meaningless sex" as often as I could in everyday conversation to establish a baseline.
I was even like a half a dozen in before someone gut-punched me with the girlfriend.
You know, the pretty one.

I make no apologies, except for that one on facebook for appearing to be such a hipster. I'm not looking for a thing, I don't need any stuff; I'm good on both stuff and things. I offer no explanation of my retirement plans to the people that I meet; I hardly think that would be normal. I'm rather aggressive, and demanding. Offensive. Crass. You know what, let's stop with the adjectives. A crafty cunt like myself could go on all day. Even way back before my History degree, there was something about the oligarchy of decorum that made me want to stick a finger in the ass of society.
Here's the thing about being so outwardly unrestricted: I anticipate that when I do engage, it is with others as open as myself.
I think I deserve heads up about pretty girlfriends.
My insecurity isn't strong enough for this, guy who is apparently trying to stick it in my ass.

So here I am.
It's Monday/Tuesday.
Today he giggled.
I must be funny.
Because there's no fucking way I'm that pretty.

As far as sidepieces go, I'm conducting research, feel free to email me your experiences at banjosboobsbooze@gmail.com

16 February 2016

Oh. Captain.

My demons are smarter than I am. 
They have the ability to adapt, something that took me years to figure out. Just when I think I get a handle on them, they get a handle on me. And then I get a handle of Captain Morgan. And I should know better than to try to battle my own demons while drinking.

Sometimes being me makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong.

Insecurity is the worst of the monsters I know. Next to politicians and rapists. I consider self-loathing and -depreciation to be more fleeting; triggered by a moment or feeling that can easily be glossed over by any number of pharmaceutical or recreational distractions. 
I prefer hiking. On Xanax.
I can momentarily be dissuaded from hating myself with cookies or booze, a great book, music, a well-made wizard robe, or a good hat. Six to nine beers and a few shots and I'll show you the floppy titties. Take me to see live music and I'll sing louder than all of the assholes next to me. Sometimes a dick in the mouth will even stop me from insulting my own personality. (Sometimes.) Let me throw on some Gryffindor gear and I'll woo you with my magical fucking personality.
But I know insecurity never really leaves. 
Insecurity is my imaginary friend.
Insecurity makes me wonder how fat I'll get when I eat twenty-two cookies. Insecurity gives my beer all the head. (Insecurity gives a lot of head.). Insecurity reminds me that I'll never be a real wizard. Insecurity makes me hide in the shower to dance. Insecurity thinks she can drink Captain Morgan. Insecurity fuels my crippling addiction to buying hats to hide the enormity of my forehead.
Insecurity does the dumb shit.
Insecurity can't associate names with certain dicks anymore. Insecurity married the same guy twice. Insecurity just opened her third fourth fifth beer on a Tuesday afternoon. Insecurity can't let you in. Insecurity stopped writing when things got hard to read. Insecurity does shots. Insecurity doesn't sing out loud when the house lights are up. Insecurity always fucking ends up being a side-chick.

I was made to believe that middle age me would have my shit more together than this. 

When I was younger I never noticed paralyzing uncertainty in the people I felt to be in charge. The late 30's appeared to my decades-younger eyes as an assemblage of confident people in tennis shoes spending weekends building stone paths to the shed. Inviting the neighbors over to witness the marvel of sound coming from speakers disguised as rocks; their polo-collared chins bobbing in unison as they agree on the craftsmanship of the newly prefabbed cabinet that housed the margarita machine. What my not-yet-developed eyes failed to see was that behind the shed doors was the stash of liquor bottles and rolling papers that prompted doing manual labor for three early morning hours on a Saturday. 
I've long since learned that the best thing about having chores as an adult is that you can drink beer while doing them.

This coping to feel good enough thing isn't going to go away, is it?

Hell, I give everything I do 150%. 
Failures and all.
I guess it stands to reason that the loads I allow to drag me down are going to bear the weight of a thousand bullshit metaphors. 
Blah, blah, blah,
concubines on my soul.

I haven't slept well since 1984. 
The album by Van Halen. 
I've never physically slept well. 
I find it hard to fall into a slumber, which is a nice way to say my brain never shuts the fuck up. They say I used to talk to people while I was sleepwalking. I have no recollection, because fuck memories, but I want to say it was between the ages of seven and nine? On multiple occasions I could be found sleeping on a neighbor's porch after wandering over to coma-chat in the middle of the night. Mom got tired of running me down and used to hold me to the couch for the first half of the night. I remember that, because I'd wake to be comforted by the dulcet monotone of Data explaining human emotion. Mom loved Next Generation. Which sort of explains my tendency to engage in irrational behavior that only stands to destroy my operating system; it could be that my programming may be inadequate to the task of sustaining functional relationships with anyone that understands my true worth.

For so long I've been saying that "tomorrow will be better" that now it feels like I'm chasing the clock. Pushing one foot down onto the hour hand and stacking a case of beer on the other. Getting through the day and doing what I can to just maybe finally fucking sleep, so that I can get up for work because perhaps tomorrow will be better. 
Like Jean-Luc Picard, I wait for the dawn.

The problem is that I get up a lot earlier than dawn. So I basically have, like, a good six or so hours of waiting. And most of the time I can tell if the day is going to be shit before the sun even comes up. How in the hell am I supposed to believe that tomorrow is going to be better if today is fucked before it even begins? I'm already a day and a half behind the promise of tomorrow before yesterday really ends. 

What if I'm okay with never feeling good enough, is there some kind of complacent compromise that the demons and I can come to? If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are.

Insecurity stands in the rain quoting Star Trek at the sky because she drank too much rum.

I am your Captain.

08 February 2016

Gilly Wagon

Play circus music at my funeral.

Fuck, bring an actual circus to my funeral. The music will follow. I want clowns and jokers, the kind of dickheads with water-squirting flowers and ill-proportioned balloon animals. I'd like monkeys in tutus and a bear on a bike, but only if the bear is treated right and wants to be there. Get at least three troupes of mimes. The popcorn girls should all be dressed like the receptionist from Beetlejuice. Stretch a tightrope around the room and get a bunch of those acrobatic poodles to do their thing. If you need a lion-tamer, Mom knows a guy.
No fucking elephants.

Because by now I've decided that this is supposed to feel like a poorly run sort-of action-packed somewhat unethical travelling spectacle. That's a little long-winded to stretch across the marquee, so it just says LIFE. Most of the neon is burned out, so it kind of just flashes LiFe; and the F is prone to not working at all and then it just says LIE.
Still a circus, none-the-less.

I was a young parent, out of the teens by barely a whisper when motherhood slapped me in the tit. A lot of my methods and means were based on the parenting I had seen; so I was crazy, but I was also very strict about it. The toddler years for my single offspring were quite rigid and structure, I didn't have a lot of patience for children at the time. Once schooling began, I managed to mellow out somewhat. I guess not issuing homework in kindergarten IS the teacher's decision, no matter how strongly I disagreed. I'm sure there was a sigh of relief around the tiny faculty lounge when my life fell apart. Grandma was way easier to deal with at those parent-teacher conferences.
I was a bad mom for a year(ish). I know I was a bad mom, because I distinctly remember my six-year-old saying "you're being a bad mom." That little shit was right. I let her grandparents shoulder a pretty large portion of her upbringing in the months surrounding my divorce, the death of my brother, and learning of the uterine cancer. It sure didn't flow as smoothly as that sentence made it seem. There were giant uproars, emotional upheavals, and devastating consequences everywhere. It was a real three-ring show.
I'd probably still be there, stuck under the big top, if I hadn't taken a break to run away from the circus. I mean, it was months of cancer treatment or whatever, but it really cleared the peanuts from my head. And my cooter.

I trained to be a better mom while I was sick.
I read all of the Harry Potter books.
(I changed the mind about the circus at my funeral. Make it a WIZARD circus. We'll work on the details of that another time.) 

It took a few years the get a handle on being a ringleader. Parenting seems to involve a lot of trial-by-error, something I liken to trapeze work. Or being shot out of a cannon. There's no way to teach those things without doing them yourself. Raising a child is the same.
 Sometimes that is easy: I've learned to cook, a skill I can pass on to my daughter through demonstration.
 Sometimes it is hard: I have exactly zero discernible healthy emotional coping mechanisms, I have to learn them from my child.

I've been very open with my daughter when it comes to the past, present, and future. The lessons of anything are discovered better when they are shared. Any asshole can slap some bullshit justification on their actions to find something teachable there. But it takes a different kind of honesty to understand the education that comes from living the consequences. You don't show someone how to breath fire without first making them swallow a few flames. Or in this case, sifting through the ashes of all the bridges I've burned.
It doesn't sit well with other people that I speak to my daughter so candidly and without reservation. We've had more than a few encounters with hecklers in the crowd. I don't believe in hiding behind the guise of "good manners" as a justification for not addressing uncomfortable issues. Shaving your asshole, using alcohol as a substitute for emotion, accidentally fucking the wrong person a dozen times, figuring out the drugs, falling out of love, getting those multiple orgasms, when not to suck the dick, where to shotgun a beer, why you need to know how to pick a lock, how to ALWAYS call for a ride... these are all things that need to be discussed, and so much more. 
Jizz-in-the-face happens, whether you tell them or not.

 If you're going to be a freak, you can't hide from the spotlight. I use my experiences as props for the show; jump through a dead brother hoop here, throw a cancer there, juvenile delinquency stealing cotton candy over in the back. Every night under the big tent; a parade of fucked-up relationships and irrational obsessions. I stand upon my soapbox making callous fun of my own eccentricities;
"This is why we don't do the bad drugs."
"Your cooter will beat the shit out of you. So much mucus."
"That is what happens when your insecurity drinks tequila. And that. And that." 
 Barking out their impact 140 characters at a time.

I gave up trying to hide my damage.
Salvaging through the scrap is how I keep this circus on the road.

05 February 2016


Pour yourself a breakfast whiskey, I'll tell you about the time my dead brother and I hid a motorcycle in the dressing room of a sewing shop.

Jake had a dysfunctional aversion to rules, no idea where he picked that trait up from. Classic youngest child, as you would assume even if you hadn't been following along. The five siblings in my family span a small stretch, with a gap of sixteen years between the oldest and the youngest. The two eldest of the brood both flew the nest to engage in their own regurgitating obligations before the last kid even started school. The remaining three were within five years of each other, and this paragraph must contractually end with a sentence about Jimmy.
The early departure of my big-hairing, big-dreaming sisters forced me into the odd-birth-ordered role of a middle child. It's not where I would self-identify, but it is where I am. Behind Jimmy.
Fate made Jake the youngest, but it was Jake that made it fucking matter. This son of a bitch didn't listen for shit. From a very young age, he just sort of did what he wanted rather than what he was told. He was very polite and respectful about it, barely ever argumentative, and then he'd simply go on doing things how he pleased.
With that shit-eating grin.

Before I started middle school, we moved to the next county over and the adjustment was a little much for my older brother. We relocated from a quiet, small town with a few thousand people to a tiny, comatose village where the 2014 population was 71. There were no stores, red lights, or even gas stations, for miles. The post office was in someone's basement. There was a church on both corners. Hell, it was a little much for all of us. But Jimmy took it the hardest. Within a short time, he repacked and hightailed it to the extra wing of the eldest siblings nest, back to the golden land of hoagie shops and Schwan's deliveries.
Which left Jake with me.
We got partial custody of a dirt-bike in the split though. Meaning we could ride it, under the condition that we understood that it would always be Jimmy's.
Man, we went everywhere on that fucking thing. It was some junk brand bullshit, like a Kawasaki mini-80 or some nonsense, but we beat the balls out of it. There was a stone quarry nearby, and as soon as the gates closed at the end of the daily shift we would zip around the half-ass barrier on a well worn tire-path. The rock piles were fifties of feet tall, at least a dozen of measurements. (I have no idea how high it was. It still looks like a million miles to my childhood eyes.)
It wasn't the mounds of shale that we were there to tear apart; it was the old, empty reservoirs tucked back against the blasted away mountainside.
Fucking dirt bowls.
These long-since dried up pools were nothing but dry-packed earth; a dirt-bike's wet dream. Exactly four other children in the village shared our love of motorsports and/or defying authority, and soon on the regular our gang was riding dirty.
And muddy.
Shale-dust covered.

The quarry, understandably, took up issue with our journies into the depths of their playground. They gave reasons such as"safety concerns," "blasting zones" and "not a playground," and sent 'Ol Officer Watson to usher us out. By that time, Jake had graduated to a 125cc piece of garbage and I was relegated to the mini-80. (My little brother had outgrown me in both height and size by early adolescence, it's not like I had a choice in dirt-bike engine size at that point.) Officer Watson didn't spend much time chasing us anyway, he'd just spook us enough to make us scurry home; where he'd show up for coffee and to tell Mom what we were up to.
We were't allowed to ride in the quarry any more. I mean, it had always been posted No Trespassing By Law, but now Mom said, so it was really No. The quarry installed a new gate, and then a new road, to keep interlopers out. Once the watchful eye died down, we snuck out under the cover of night, pushing our bikes until they could be kick-started away from nosy ears, and navigated the new obstacles blocking the way to the old reservoir playground in the back.
The bastards had filled them in.
Where there had once been beautifully proportioned basins, the peaks carved with grooves from hours of kick-assery, there was nothing. The sloped hills of packed dirt had been dozed level; the dips all filled with broken shale and childhood dreams. Without any dirt on which to ride his bike, Jake resorted to the pavement. The law got mighty tired of chasing his eleven-year-old ass around the single road that winded it's way around the village. When the township finally threatened to issue Mom a fine, she took the dirt-bike away.

So it's their own fault they had to pull him over on a riding mower after that.

Boys and their antics, people tended to chuckle.
Country bucks make their own code, the authorities shrugged.
Jake never heard a rule he couldn't bend, a law he couldn't weasel out of; but his approach to criminal mischief eventually became so creative that the State Police would get involved. He nearly beat me to his first real arrest; luckily his burns were severe enough that the judge overlooked the fire-bombing. An arson charge at twelve years old totally would have trumped my lowly B&E at fourteen.
Accumulative totals put his juvenile record way thicker than mine, so I call it a draw. Sure, he may have a few dozen violations for motor vehicle/farm equipment incidents, and a handful of community service hours for misconduct, and that stuff with beating a dead horse; but it just so happens that my charges were a little fancier than his. I got the judge that used big words.
Throughout our teenage years, both Jake and I cultivated a deep mistrust of the authorities and what I would call a "rebellious side" and what court documents called "a detriment to the community." We had grown rather close through a common goal of avoiding getting caught, and developing the knowledge of what to bring the other at juvie. Beef jerky is a strong bond.

Soon after my high school graduation, a string of things occurred that altered my trajectory. After a series of particularly troublesome visits by various detectives, sergeants, a pastor, and an old probation officer, I didn't see much opportunity to untangle myself from that life. It was high time I shipped up, shaped up, and wised up.
So I did.
And then I got knocked up, and then showed up at my brother's door. Well, it was my door. he had moved himself into my bedroom at Mom's. While I had entered my twenties trying to salvage some good from my mistakes, he had dropped out of school and started turning wrenches in a garage.

I had a daughter.
He had more motorcycles.

We put the crib in the corner of the living room, a worn brake pad under the left leg so it wouldn't wobble. Jake made a mobile by hanging an old stuffed Pooh from the wall by a noose; an effigy of time gone by. I went to work with Mom, she had opened a sewing and tailoring shop on Main Street in the county seat a few miles away. I learned the trade from my mother, with my own daughter in tow, and became quite skilled. I grew rather fond of sharing the days creating with Mom set to the backdrop of toddler giggles. A way perhaps, to repay all the tears that my illegal empire surely cost her.
Mom would start her day earlier than I, so each morning I would load the carseat into the back bucket of Jake's '85 Trans Am and he'd give me a ride to town. There was a nice little picnic area right next to the river and if the morning was nice, we'd stop on the way to enjoy the view for a moment.
And get so fucking baked.
Most nights after work, Jake and I would have a beer while Mom made dinner. Or Mom would take the grandkid for a walk in the woods while Jake drank beer and I made dinner. It pissed Mom off to have beer in her fridge, so Jake kept his 40's in a cooler on the porch. He'd drink one before telling Mom he was going to "run across the bridge" (his best friend lived on the opposite bank of the creek), and then you'd hear one of his motorcycles roar to life from the driveway.

I guess he grew tired of pushing them to the road before starting them.

I'm surprised they started at all, as many extra parts there were laying around. Jake had a dirt-bike, a street bike, and an old school bike. Every one of them was in a perpetual state of rebuild, and an entire fourth could be assembled with the leftovers in his bedroom. There were shocks on the floor, heat shields by the door; a chain for a paperweight, holding down the notebook pages of hand-drawn gears, and crayon-based wiring diagrams. A wardrobe in the corner leaned open from the weight of a frayed banana seat; brake cables coiled on the windowsill gave the image of a sun-seeking reptile.
I used to go in and lay on his bed while he was gone, having raided his stash and being quite ready to nap. I'd doze off now and then waiting for the whine of gears in the driveway to indicate I could drink another beer; waking every now and then to pull a headlight assembly from beneath a lumpy pillow, half listening to hear if the phone would ring and Jake would need a ride. Usually he was at a bar, or needed pulled out of some mud. Occasionally he lost his keys, or a wheel; and at least once a year he got picked up from the police station.

Every so often the phone call was different.
I'd tell Mom to keep an eye on my sleeping child before grabbing my "juvie-kit" (clean clothes, band-aids, pick, beef jerky) to make my way to help him out of a predicament of sorts. Sometimes it was an upside-down Ford Probe. Sometimes the DEA would be there in fifteen minutes. Sometimes the fire started "before he got there." Sometimes the paramedics don't know where the road is. Sometimes it was beating a dead horse.
Local law enforcement had wisened up a bit since the days of good old Officer Watson, and they paid attention to what Jake was driving pretty regularly. I've come to understand, in the years since he has died, that scrutiny probably contributed to his irrational cycling through motored vehicles. Every few months, Jake would work some ridiculous deal trading his wooden bed F150 for full-side Blazer and a snowmobile. Or his Camaro and a mo-ped for an Accord and a Ninja. At the time, I likely contributed it to his mechanical obsession; but now I'm more convinced it was to throw the law off his tail.

The call instructed me to meet him behind the Opera House.

In real life that's not nearly as dramatic as it sounds, but holy fuck. That's nice, right?
Like spies.

The Opera House was the old building on Main Street that housed, along with the barber shop and the health store, the sewing shop that I had come to call half my own. We had expanded over time and now had a larger shop, complete with multiple dressing rooms, for those days when both the town's lawyers wanted their pants hemmed. Or, gasp, two brides on the same weekend.
I showed up to the Opera House and unlocked the door. Out front. Without being seen. Because it was after 9pm on a weeknight and there's not a single motherfucker on Main Street. My paranoia convinced me that there might be a faint siren from the direction of the police station a few blocks away as I stepped into the shop, so I left the lights off and quickly made my way around the sewing machines to the dark exit in the back room. I turned the lock and kicked the bottom of the door to slide it open; years of ivy growth on the other side had long since claimed the doorway and concealed the entrance from unknowing eyes.
My eyes adjusted to the darkness of the alley to find my brother curled up to a wall tucked under a rusty, forgotten fire escape. His black Ninja Zx-6R glinted silently as he leaned on the seat, poised to flee if needed. Jake looked relieved as I brushed the ivy aside to open the door wider, and he offered a shit-eating grin as he maneuvered the motorcycle towards the door.

"Give me a hand, would ya?"

I moved to the left side and grabbed the handlebars to steer while Jake gave a push to get the front tire over the small step. It was close enough to not fitting without the added frustration of the clutch cable snagging on the antiquated lock of the creepy back door, but we worked with silent haste to move the motorcycle into the room. A few minutes later, the kickstand resting on a piece of discarded plywood, the Ninja was safely nestled behind the dressing room curtain.
Jake changed his shirt and we each sat at a sewing machine, noiselessly chewing on beef jerky as our heart rates returned to normal. Sporadically a set of lights would reflect through the shop window and my little brother and I would instinctively duck behind the desks, caught in the same game of Flashlight Tag we started when I was nine.
Once the street was empty again (it was a school night!), we slipped out the door and into the dark. Once in the car, Jake leaned over and pushed a few buttons on the radio, as if concealing a 400lb street-machine behind pastel-striped panels of fabric to avoid police detection was a perfectly reasonable evening. Neither of us spoke, and my gaze settled on the motorcycle helmet perched on Jake's lap. It tapped slightly against the gear shift as he found what he was seeking on the radio, turned up the volume and leaned back in his seat.

I looked out the front window and put the car in drive; both of us singing as Main Street faded from the rearview mirror.
"The first day of the rest of my life
 X stand behind the mic 
like Walker Kronkike 
Y'all keep the spotlight 
I'm keeping my rhymes tight 
Lose sight of what you believe 
And call it a night"

I miss him.