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.