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.