Thursday, June 4, 2009

Be Careful With The Bread

Last night, I had this dream. It made me kind of sad when I woke up today...


It was 1 am and I couldn't sleep. I got in my car and drove to the 24 hour grocery store. The place was completely dead, so I went to one of the registers and opened the checkout lane. I stood there for hours, but no customers came through. There was something comforting about standing there for all those empty hours. As dawn approached, I was pretty exhausted. I was about to close up when a lady wheeled her cart around. I scanned her items, trying to look like I had done this before.

"The key," I thought, "was to be very careful with the bread."

Behind the lady, another woman got in line. She had a few things in her arms and looked about my age. Then, a heavy set guy in glasses pushed his cart in behind the second lady. After I'd finished ringing up the first customer, I greeted the lady with just a few items. I recognized her as a girl I'd had classes with in high school.

I didn't say anything about remembering her, but when I finished ringing her up, she said, "Can I talk to you?"

I glanced at the guy behind her. "Yeah, just a minute."

She stood by the produce while I finished with the guy in glasses. He was kind of grumpy--a guy who was displeased with everything, but wouldn't complain about anything. I thanked him, turned off the light above the register, and walked over to the girl from high school. She looked like life had made her very tired. Somehow, it made her prettier than I remembered her.

She glanced at the lettuce, carrots, and melons. "Can we get out of here?

I nodded. "Sure. Let me clock out."

We walked to the manager's office and he gave me some cash. Then, my old classmate and I walked out of the store.

I hesitated and almost turned to go back in the store. "I should get some smokes."

She looked over her shoulder at me. "You can bum some of mine." She held out a pack of Winston's and I took one. She tossed her groceries in her car and turned around. "Is there somewhere to sit?"

I nodded. "Over by the side of the store."

We walked to where a bench was hidden away between the store and some bushes. She started talking about a friend of ours who had put together an artistic gymnastics thing, something like a ballet mixed with interpretive floor exercise. I had apparently received an email about it, but never responded. She said it would mean a lot to our old friend if I showed up. The performance was at 6:30 that evening, but there was a small dinner gathering before the show which was happening at 5:30. She said I should come to that.

I told her I would try to make it.

I needed sleep, but wanted to stay with her a while. I wondered if she was telling me about the stuff that evening because our friend wanted me to show up or because she wanted me to. I started rambling about different things. I can't remember what I was going on about. We both sat and smoked in the cool shade. She was quiet and seemed disinterested. I said something about how I was boring her. She didn't deny it, but told me she was just listening. She stood up to leave. I asked if she wanted to see my shop. "It's just across the street."


We crossed to a concrete slab covered in rusting metal and motor oil stains. I opened a garage door. It rattled as the peeling white paint and dirty glass slid above my head. Inside, worn out, dirty tools were pushed against the walls. We stood on the concrete, smoking as the hazy morning sun twinkled in and out of clouds. She looked around at all the junk.

"My son would like this."

I studied her face. I didn't get the feeling she was married. "You should bring him around some time."

She nodded. "Okay." We were both kind of quiet. Finally, she said she'd better go. I was so tired. I told her I'd see her that evening. She didn't smile. She nodded and walked back toward her car. I stood in the garage, my mind stuck on her. I closed everything up and walked to my own car. I needed sleep.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

By The Time The Embers Cool

I don't want to die, but when I do, I hope I go with dignity.

I've accepted that life is never perfect and that I'll probably die alone. I hope it doesn't deeply hurt the person who finds the body. I hope the organs are of some use. My body probably isn't the best temple for ransacking, but whoever can benefit from what's left is welcome to it.

I want my body cremated. Graveyards look good in movies, but in real life, are a waste of pasture land. If people read my saved pages, that's fine by me. I won't be a very private person when I'm dead. However, I think it will be better for all involved to reduce me to a happy memory by the time the embers cool. The dead are a nuisance when they linger.

On the other hand, I probably won't protest a statue in my honor.

The ones who will need looking after are the ones left behind. There will be tears I never expected. Some people are made that way--wired to cry at funerals the way some are wired to cry at weddings. Give them a hug for me.

Eat what's left in the fridge. Recycle the trash I didn't get around to dealing with. Take the clothes and guitar. If I go on the toilet, eating a sandwich--tell it like a funny story.

It's what I would've done.

But, for now, no worries. We'll deal with my dying when the time comes...and by "we," I, of course, mean "you." In the meantime, there's a lot to do and probably a couple good years left. I've just got to remember to look both ways before crossing the street.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Something In The Writing That's Broken

I haven't been around people much over the past few years. Some days, I don't even see a car drive by. It's very quiet here and beautiful.

Sometimes it's lonely.

I'm beginning to dislike a lot of what I write. It's getting harder and harder to remember how life used to work when I was a part of things. Every character and conversation feels like a bad approximation of experiences I haven't been close to in almost a decade.

Maybe it's not something in the writing that's broken.

Experiences, passions, and hope are critical for every writer. Friendship and love are good things. These days, I talk to dogs mostly. I should leave my house and have a face to face conversation with a human being.

I bet it would make me sick or give me a headache.

That might make a good story.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Consistent In My Cowardice

Clouds are moving in and the sky is lovely tonight. It's orange at the horizon, turning purple, and then bluish-silver where the clouds break apart in front of the moon. Most nights, there are stars out, but not tonight. Rain's coming.

I miss the taste of cigarettes on your tongue the way you miss whiskey on your lover's lips. Or I think I do. We've never kissed like that.

If nothing else, I'm consistent in my cowardice. I haven't asked a girl out in over five years. It was difficult then. Now, it's beyond all comprehension. I smile a little when I think about it. I can't bring myself to cry over a situation of my own making. I remember that whining is unproductive and unattractive.

You'd get bored here. Sometimes, I get bored here. I'd play you a couple songs on the guitar, maybe show you my bad screenplays. We'd watch some old movies and talk about dumb books we love. Maybe we'd get as far as talking about our dreams and making each other our favorite foods. Before the end of the season, though, you'd realize I'm out of good ideas and you'd go looking for the next guy.

I'd go through that period of hanging out with my friends again; telling them it doesn't matter, that you're a hell of a girl and deserve all the happiness you can get. For a little while, I'd wonder what's wrong with me. Then I'd shrug and settle back into writing bad songs, tiresome blogs, and getting used to the quiet house again.

A few years ago, my mother said that I was like my father in that I didn't get scared easily. Maybe she forgot about how I squealed when the snake fell on my head or the way I get nervous when I'm up high on a ladder. I'm not brave at all. I can't walk into a room and sell anyone my ideas. I can't place a complicated order because I'm not comfortable speaking to another human being for that long. Regular things scare me. I just don't jump when they do. I walk away.

It's important to learn to live with your faults and I think I've done that. I could list every little thing that's wrong with me: my bad knee, my different-sized eyes, my crooked teeth, my social anxieties, and my inability to articulate even the simplest idea. But I like who I am. I make some mistakes, but I think I'm kind of alright. It's just that I wouldn't expect you to think so. I guess no one thinks they're the bad guy. Maybe I am.

Oh. You're getting married? That's happening a lot these days. I guess I'm reaching that age. Old enough that people are starting to wonder why a girl hasn't taken me off the market. Gay? Not the last time I checked, but I'll admit, I haven't really put it to the test in recent memory.

I worked with my brother recently and he told me that the next day, one of his clients was hinting around, wondering why I didn't have a girlfriend. His reading of the situation was that she wanted to know if I was limp in the wrist. Maybe it's just that I'm so sweet. It doesn't seem to be a virtue for a guy. Maybe it's my lisp. I've always had a little trouble with soft "s" sounds. Most people don't notice, but I do. I've always hated my voice. I try to talk like Nolte, but that man was born with a special gift.

Maybe that's the reason you're not here and this house is so quiet. Who would subject themselves to an evening with a guy trying to talk like Nolte?

I'll probably never ask another girl out again. I have trouble just saying "hi." I've seen the way other guys do it, but when I try, it comes out all wrong, like, "Hey. Oh, sorry. You're busy. I'll come back later."

...And then I never do. Which I guess makes me a liar.

It wouldn't bother me, except that there's all this cool stuff I want to show you. You can see so many shooting stars out here and I've got goofy hats that are great to wear. My eldest niece plays a really cool dinosaur game and the youngest one does a hilarious imitation of a zombie. I also bake some tasty treats.

I can't remember if I was ever a good boyfriend. I'm sure I had my moments. Right? Anyone? Hmm. Well, maybe I was just saving up all those moments for the right girl.

I don't know. You'd get tired of it after a month or so, but maybe it would be a pretty good month. I'm a considerate lover when I'm drunk. Foreplay buys me the time I need to figure out what I'm doing. Think about it. If it sounds nice, get back to me. You know I'll never bring it up. I probably won't even say "hi."

...And there you go, off the elevator and gone forever...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty (Blog Action Day 2008)

"Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbor's children starving?" -Charlton Heston, "Planet of the Apes"

I'm a chubby American with plenty of clean water. I have a car, a television, a computer, and an internet connection. I have a guitar and thousands of books. I've acted in films, flown in planes, owned a suit, gone to concerts, and eaten in restaurants. All this is the lifestyle of someone who lives about $9,000 below my nation's poverty line.

I have never been to a place where only one vehicle is shared amongst local farmers. I've never been to a village with no doctors, no stores, no schools, and no promise of a prosperous future. My nation's definition of poverty sounds like a joke in poor taste compared to the rest of the world. The citizenry of my nation doesn't have to share, because Americans can afford just about one of everything for each person.

My mother lived on her family's farm, waking early every morning to milk cows, even on the morning she got married. My father grew up in a small house, keeping all his clothes hanging on a single nail. I never lived through the kind of poverty my parents grew up in.

Sometimes my friends give me a hard time because I don't have enough cash to go to a movie or buy comics. I don't go bowling or to spook trails. I like to bowl. I never show out for trips to the amusement park. Instead, I spend a lot of time reading used books and playing guitar. It's what I can afford, but I never feel poor. The privileges of my life are not entitlements. I'm lucky.

But I do feel disconnected.

I wonder how much perspective I've lost living in a nation four times as wealthy as any other country in the world. I want to understand the lives of people in far flung corners of the world. Nationalism and insulation from the rest of the world keeps Americans from empathizing with those we might recognize as part of a common human struggle. When we're able to stop looking at the world as divided plots bound by pride against one another, perhaps we'll realize the responsibility we all share for the quality of life on our planet. Perhaps we'll see beyond the political capital gained by philanthropy and recognize the necessity of humanitarianism for its own sake. I know hope and empathy are not pragmatic solutions, but maybe they are a place to begin.

For more information on Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty, visit:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lies about the Japanese

I remember signing online with a free Juno dial up account as a kid. I remember when a friend gave me a link to his personal web site, not as a link pasted in a quick email, but on a scrap of paper--in the days when bookmarks were just lines you typed out in a text file. I remember when savvy users' personal websites consisted of little more than an animated .gif, Nintendo cheat codes, and their favorite jokes about Yoda's balls.

These (many) years later, the "web" has become a different place. Along came high speed connections, Web 2.0, and the glorious maturation of the internet as the new opiate of the masses. Now everyone fills hard drives with MP3's like hot cakes. Baby's are embedded with microchips giving them a social networking IDs before they can even crawl (okay, only in Tokyo).

A few hundred blogs and more than a couple lamentable picture uploads later, the search engines have my number--or at least my URL. Privacy settings are a nuisance to those who don't want to subscribe to your narcissistic drivel and more often than not, turn your page into a complete dead zone. It's tricky territory. I want to share, but not with all the ex-girlfriends, potential employers, and overly sensitive family members who have instant access to the things I'd hoped would just stay lost in the soup.

It makes me feel beat down and uncreative. I suppose these are the natural pitfalls of living in a well-connected global community. I have to get used to living in constant fear that everything I do will be documented on someone's cell phone video and uploaded somewhere.

I hope you guys like watching me pick my nose and will forgive me for my large ass.

Sometimes, I'm grateful for all this openness. I find myself reserving sailor talk for wooing. I don't think pictures of my ding-dong are quite as funny now that my nieces might decide to take the browser out for a spin. Even my friends have started to notice. I'm more careful...and more lame.

I'm jealous of kids who work at Taco Bell and can't type three words without using an expletive. I'm jealous of the people who post videos showing the world degrading videos of their girlfriends. (Not because they're using the internet for it's intended purpose, but for the fact that they have girlfriends). I'm jealous of those who stand tall and are free to be total a-holes without the worry of who might land on their little corner of the internet.

I find my careful habits bleeding over into my regular life. When someone feeds me a line, I no longer make the factual statement, "You're full of crap." I smile, nod, and try to construct a gently worded way to excuse myself from their shenanigans. I evade to not make waves. After all, it wouldn't do to have them stop leaving me glittery comments.

I know I don't need anyone's permission to be crass. I'm an American, imbued with all the sense of entitlement that implies. It just doesn't feel like I'm allowed my normal allotment of mistakes and jerky moments, anymore. There's a cloud of anxiety hanging over the world when you live in an era where everything is saved in someone's cache. Every day feels like a day that will live in infamy.

Maybe I'm just a worrier. I'll stop. Scout's honor.


Okay. Good aimless post. High five. We'll do it again soon. Next time, I'll try to avoid "balls," "ass," "crap," and lies about the Japanese. They're good people who love babies. Who knows? They might even read my blogs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

If there's one thing I love, it's pandering...

A friend of mine recently complained that my blogs weren't interesting because I usually post short prose instead of personal essays celebrating myself. Sadly, my life is not the stuff of good blogs, but if there's one thing I love, it's pandering. So, I sat down to write one of these more "personal" blogs...


Dear Blog,

Is it hot today, or what? I've been in the same clothes all week. I guess that makes me a conservationist. It's like I always say, "No point in wasting soap if ladies can't find where you live." Same goes for deodorant.

I wonder if anyone's twittered anything exciting. I'll just fire up the old dial up connection and find out. Hey, look! The Health twitter says research proves coffee is good for me. Last week they said it would stop my heart. Oh, sweet! The Orioles won last night. My friend Kris had a good time pushing people over at the skating rink. And woot! has a deal on bluetooth earmuffs. What a way to start the day! I love Twitter.

Better get some breakfast in me. I've got a lot of research, writing, and note taking to do. Let's see...I've got rice and mustard or rice and ketchup. Oooh! There are some jalapenos left. Good thing I bought 45 cans when they were 50 cents each. I'll eat some rice, mustard, and jalapenos. Now, that's what I call a breakfast!

Okay. Enough stuffing my face. Time to write. I'll add more to this later...

...Boy. I sure am terrible at taking little breaks. I get unproductive after a while because I keep doing the same thing over and over for hours. I mean, sometimes I play tunes in the background or check twitter, but I need "real" breaks. I should get away from the computer, or even away from the house. I've lost all imagination for that kind of thing. I used to be really good at finding cool things to do to repair my brain, but these days, I spend as much time as possible just being boring.

Maybe later, I'll write a blog about people smootching or someone making a terrible choice. It's fun to poke around in the lives of characters. I like the little things that make them who they are, even if who they are isn't someone nice. There's usually some small part of me in my stories. It's fun creating something personal, even if other people think it's not.

Wait. Was that passive aggressive?

Okay, back to writing about things for work...

...I'm out of tea. I should make more. Holy crap! It's already lunchtime. I'll put on a pot of rice and stir in some ketchup while the tea is cooling.

So yeah, blog. Now I'm stuffed and feeling a little sleepy. Allergies have bothered me all this week. I think it's going to be a slow, tedious afternoon. I'll check back in later...

...Wesley Crusher just tweeted about how awesome songs from the 80's are. He sure does love 80's music. Oh, and that comic book writer just tweeted something about eating a steak so rare its heart still spews fountains of blood. He's so zany and shocking. Yawn.

Oh well. Back to work.

Whoops. I ate rice with mustard AND ketchup without blogging about it. That was kind of slack. I'll try to do better. The sun's going down, but it's still hot. I've got a fan in the window, but so far, it's not doing much.

I think I should shave and crank some tunes. I've been on an Elvis/Roy Orbison kick lately, but I'm kind of tired of all that. Maybe I'll put on some Ice Cube and Clarence Carter. Why do I always shave so late in the day? It's weird. I need new razors. Mine are dull. Maybe I'll grow my beard out.

Wow. I'm out of tea again. I've gone through so much water and tea today. It's crazy!

I just tweeted about being out of tea because I thought it was too insignificant to send out a mass email about, but too important to keep to myself. I guess I'm blogging about it, too. That pretty much covers all the bases. Aren't you glad you came by my blog to get a glimpse into my life?

I should go to bed, but I have insomnia. My friends are all getting back from exciting evenings on the town. They're signing onto chat applications and ignoring me. Oh, wait! I've got a live one. I'm gonna go chat for a bit. I might post some clever tweets, too.

My friend went to bed after we chatted for an hour about whether it's okay to fart during sex. It's late and I'm beat. I would go to bed, but I still can't sleep. I think I'll look for deals on Macs, even though I can't afford a new computer. I'm too brain dead to do anything else.

Gee, this day has been WILD. I didn't get as much writing done as I would've liked, but I kind of dig this new blogging style. It's filled with so many possibilities. Maybe I'll write another one like this tomorrow. Or I could just copy and paste this one, since all my days are all pretty much like this.

Anywho. I'm going to try to sleep for a few hours.

Goodnight, Blog.




...And that, dear ones, is the reason I don't write those kinds of blogs. There are only so many fascinating insights I can pull from the gold mine that is my life. I sometimes post about dreams and personal reflections here, but it's far from the staple of my blogging life. If I knew how to weave the thread of my autobiography in a way that didn't make it a sleep aid, I'd pay tribute to myself a million times over, but alas, I'm not that guy.

I rarely do anything that would interest others and when I do, it's never interesting to me. I could write about film and video shoots, the wildlife I see, or trips to big cities, but those are exactly the things that exhaust me. It exhausts me just thinking about them. Fiction is more exciting for me. It's a mistake to dismiss fiction as detached and impersonal. Fiction requires the writer to make difficult choices and feel empathy for characters he'd be afraid to know. It forces the writer to face pain, joy, bittersweet remembrance, and hope.

Sometimes my life is like that, too, but on those occasions, it's something I want to keep for myself. Writing about it spoils the magic. You're better off imagining what's in my pants than having me provide the description. Trust me. Turning one's life into a literary topic erodes all the things that make it special. Real life is fun to live out, but it rarely has the makings of a good read. Those mundane moments are better left off the blogs.

Besides, that's what Twitter's for.