I always knew this day would come. It probably should've happened a long time ago, but I just needed the right motivation. Due to my chapbook coming out next month, I had to get a legit web address that wasn't a blogger account to promote Slow Burn.
I didn't upgrade too much though. I just used a customized Tumblr. I built two Wordpress websites last year. I didn't feel like building another. This blog isn't going away though. It's been an archive for 8 years and will remain that way. I'm just not going to be updating here anymore.
I've loved this little space on the internet though. From time to time, I'll go back and read posts from years ago. Some are embarrassing, but I typically see what I was trying to pull off-- an idea, a thought or a musing. I'm grateful that blogging websites were created. I might not have become a writer otherwise.
Not many people can say or would care to have everything they've ever written stashed somewhere. A Mind Awake contains about 95% of my writing. For the most part, I really like most of what's I've written the last 3 years. For some reason, 2008 had a lot of action going on when it comes to short stories.
By no means do I feel like I have "arrived", but I've grown a lot as a
writer and a person since making my first post in 2005. Writing is a
process. I'm glad I got to do the first leg of it here.
Anyway, thank you to anyone who ever read or commented, it meant a lot. Moving forward, you can follow me here: www.lifeisaslowburn.com
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
He could hear the rain exploding on his bedroom window before he even opened his eyes. It sounded like someone was hosing down the building. He said out loud "It's raining." He was right.
The crashing thunder was what woke him up or maybe it was his dog burrowing deeper under the duvet which ultimately led the dog to burrowing deeper under him. He thought about it a while and couldn't make up his mind what had made him open up his eyes.
"I guess I should get out of bed," he said out loud and then he got out of bed. His dog stuck his head out from under the covers and decided to get up too. The dog was usually given a bowl off food when he got out of bed. The dog was also right.
After the man put his robe on he decided to make a pot of coffee after he fed his dog. He usually made coffee every morning. This morning was no different.
When the coffee finished brewing he poured a cup for himself. He gave the dog a bowl of water. It didn't seem right to give a dog a bowl of coffee, so he never did. It had crossed his mind though.
He stood by the window watching and listening to the rain. The sound of the rain reminded him of Paul Simon's Graceland album which reminded him of childhood family vacations. When rain hits different surfaces it sounds like percussion instruments that Africans played on the album Graceland by Paul Simon.
While drinking his coffee in front of the window his neighbor who he thought was nice walked by. He thought she was nice because she had a nice wave. They would usually wave to each other and this day was no different. He started waving and when she looked at him she screamed out loud and looked away.
She startled him and he spilled his coffee. He wasn't sure why she was screaming until he realized that he had spilled coffee on his penis. Spilling hot coffee on your penis is typically painful. This instance was no different.
He walked away from the window and closed his robe until he could get to the bathroom to ensure none of his other neighbors would scream and potentially cause him to spill more coffee on his penis.
Burning your penis doesn't have a prescribed remedy that he knew of. The man decided that putting Neosporin on the inflamed red skin was the best option. He thought this because Neosporin had worked well on cuts and scrapes, so he figured it would do the trick.
It was still raining outside. He didn't know this by looking out the window though. He was afraid to go outside now, let alone look out the window. He knew it was raining because he could hear Paul Simon's Graceland.
The dog had burrowed back into the bed. The man noticed and said "Dog, you've got the right idea!" He carefully took his robe off and got back into bed.
Friday, February 01, 2013
I'm wrapping up the final touches on a chap book that I'll be putting out in April. These are some rough draft excerpts from a story that I decided not to use or develop for the book. I'll probably never use them, but I didn't want to lose them. Now I'm rhyming...
She sent me a copy of Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter about 6 years ago when we were still friends. The contents of the box also included a handwritten note, an awkward picture of her from childhood and a few other books that I had lent her a year ago. I had to keep the letter and picture in my desk at work so my girlfriend wouldn’t find it. It don’t remember it being inappropriate, but her tone sounded like she was in love with me.
Neither of us were very good at hiding it.
I’m on Facebook talking to the girl I sat next to in third grade. We’re exchanging stories about what we recall from 1989. I believe us to be polar opposites regarding everything in life, except small talk. My strongest memory of her is when she told me to say “Who died and made you king” to another classmate who had made fun of my sweat pants. She was the first girl in Kentucky that I fell in love with. Granted, I was 8. She tells me that she’s in love with Jesus now. She’s 31.
Needless to say, she’s still on the market.
I can’t remember her name.
She’s the only girl that I’ve ever met on a dating site. We bonded over our mutual love for pre-World War II Blues. She liked Ma Rainey.
Her nose was striking, but I can’t recall what the rest of her looked like, just her nose. I’m not sure if beauty is in the flaw or if I just wondered if the rest of her body was proportionate to her nose when she was naked.
She stopped calling when she found out I was her fuck buddy’s boss.
She tried to hide her face in the scarf that was loosely wrapped around her neck, but I could still see that her mascara was running-- because she had decided not to anymore. Our arms tightly wrapped each other as I watched her trembling face transfer from her scarf to mine. Winter had decided to arrive fashionably late that year.
“I’m just so sad.”
“I didn’t even like him that much.”
“You’re not crying because of him.”
Monday, January 07, 2013
This is a piece that I wrote for a reading I did this past weekend at the Highland Inn Ballroom in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was called the Holiday Hangover. The name kind of says it all.
I Died That Day
The Princess Bride Should Have Been A Christmas Tale
“Stop playing with your dingy son.”
My father was still yet to graduate my brother and I to advanced slang for male genitalia.
Now that was a word that I might have learned a little too early in life.
If cursing was an education, Chris Feldmann, my brother’s best friend, was Doogie Howser. He had his PHD in swearing by age 12. Kevin, his little brother and at the time, my best friend, was always on the receiving end of Chris' rage. I have to admit though Kevin was a cocksucker and from what I can tell from his Facebook page... he still is to this day.
Hot tears streamed down my face as snot dripped from my nose. The only remedy available was the sleeve of my winter coat that was two sizes too big. A hand me down and an unflattering one at that. My mom had pulled it out of my brother’s closet and put it in mine after the first “cold snap”. We lived in Florida though. The low for the week was 55. A fucking windbreaker would’ve sufficed.
"You're still going to get presents." She said.
Her words didn’t even come close to soothing the sting of the low blow that I had just been dealt which I was why I was actually playing with my dingy in the first place. Touching my junk had always brought me comfort at a young age... and still does to this day.
"Well, where do all of the presents come from then?" I blurted out, still clinging to the innocence of my childhood as I was watched it disappear into the sunny south Florida December day... that promised a high of 64... with no chance of rain.
“When you make your wish list for Santa, don’t you always give it to me?”
My mother replied with a slight grin on her face. It was as though she was finding some sort of satisfaction out of breaking my young heart and destroying the false reality that she had built for me in the first place.
“Also, don’t you always get what you ask for?”
She always seemed pleased with her ability to spend my father’s money.
She should’ve been a politician.
I bet she created the phrase “golden parachute”.
The term “black widow” was fashioned for her.
It’s also been rumoured that the hit song “Evil Woman” by the chart topping pop rock band Electric Light Orchestra was about my mother after they encountered her at a “meet n’ greet” back in the 70’s.
My father stood by... dingy in hand.
Kevin had been riding Chris’ BMX bike for the better part of an hour before Chris appeared from behind Craig Alderson’s house. He tore across the yard in a fury that could only be matched by one of the rage zombies in 28 Days Later.
As he cleared the driveway it was hard to decipher audible words coming out of his mouth, but he was either swearing... or speaking in tongues. Words and phrases that I never knew existed were exploding on my face from across the street, then again that was probably just the spit that was coming out of his mouth.
His 12 year old frame advanced through our boring suburban neighborhood like a steroid infused CGI version of Eric Bana. He sounded like Joe Pesci in Home Alone after Kevin McCallister had beat the shit out of him for 2 feature length films, but with rabies.
I knew Chris wasn’t after me as I sat fearless on my shitty blue huffy that I had inherited from the kid who had stolen my bike a few weeks earlier. I later found out that the hoodlums called their thievery a “gift exchange.”
As I glanced behind me Kevin had already abandoned Chris’ BMX bike and was already two yards over blazing a trail towards Mrs. Geier’s flower garden. He looked like a young Forrest Gump after he had broken out of his leg braces. He was already crying, anticipating the abuse that he was about be dealt at the hand of his brother.
Honestly though, I didn’t feel bad for him. At 7 years old I was new to collecting baseball cards and Kevin had invited me over to trade some cards earlier in the week. At the time I had no idea who Pete Rose was and my dad gave me a similar beating to the one Kevin was about to receive when he found out that I had traded his Pete Rose Rookie card to Kevin for a Bo Jackson card that said “Bo Knows Baseball.”
I thought it would be worth more since it was in black and white.
When I questioned Kevin about it later, he too referred to this as a “gift exchange”.
I cheered as Chris pummeled Kevin’s face in a bed of lilies.
But through the blood curdling screams and the sight of Chris’ fists flying through the air at a speed that could only be matched by E. Honda from Street Fighter 2... only one thought was bouncing around in my head and unfortunately it wasn’t regarding Kevin’s well being.
It was the only coherent properly enunciated expletive that came out of Chris’ mouth as he spit and slurred.
I had to know...
“What... was a cock sucker?”
We sat in silence as we ironically watched my mother’s favorite Christmas Special, How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
Though many details regarding this particular story that I am telling have been embellished, this one has not.
I cowered in the corner of the couch feeling like Cindy Lou Who catching the Grinch in the act, but being sent back to bed with a glass of water or in my case being threatened with not receiving any Christmas presents that year.
I wanted to stab my mother in the heart with a candy cane, but I probably would’ve missed since her heart was two sizes too small.
Watching The Grinch with my mom was like watching a gangster movie with Ice Cube before he starred in Are We There Yet and its critically acclaimed sequel Are We Done Yet. Every time the Grinch did something heartless my mom let out a cackle that could only be rivaled by Fran Drescher.
I could tell that she found enjoyment watching the Grinch rip off Whoville and mistreat his dog like he was Michael Vick in a Santa suit.
As Whoville’s torment was coming to an end and The Grinch was making his conversion to Christ, my mom abruptly got up from her la-z-boy that she been plastered to, and randomly wandered into the kitchen for a cup of hot chocolate. As the credits rolled she appeared in the doorway and put me on notice Catherine O’Hare style that it was "time to say goodnight Johnny.”
“In a world without Santa Claus I don’t want to be awake anyway.” I spouted.
I gave her the finger in my brain, but I didn’t know what it meant, and if she’d asked me where I had learned to put all of my hatred into my extended middle finger, they would’ve filmed a certain PSA about me.
“I learned it from you mom!”
After I hugged my father, I bypassed my mother and did the best Kevin McCallister impression that I could muster and said “Goodnight Johnny” as I headed to my bedroom.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to sleep on the hide-a-bed with Fuller.
As Chris stood up from Mrs. Geier’s flower bed he raised his hands in victory as though he was about to receive an MMA Championship belt for defeating his brother in a classic “ground-in-pound” match up.
Kevin’s body appeared lifeless, but I could hear him whimpering as Chris brushed mulch and what was left of Kevin’s self-respect off of his jeans. He gave his little brother one last glance before spitting on him and again uttering the greatest word I had ever heard.
If I had known what a slow clap was at the age of 7, I would’ve started one for Chris Fucking Feldman as he made his way back towards what was rightfully his, his BMX bike.
There was a lump in my throat, and what felt like a bowl full of jelly in my stomach as I laid in bed that night. Tossing and turning and holding my dingy, I felt my sub-pre-teen angst growing inside me as my hatred for parental figures was surfacing at least 3-5 years earlier than most children.
I woke up to a tear stained pillow, and the loss of my youth had not subsided nor had my belief in Saint Nick. My father was sitting at the kitchen table ruffling the paper and complaining about democrats while my mother made breakfast out of Bisquick instant pancake mix.
It became apparent that she faked everything in life, even her ability to make breakfast from scratch. My floppy blond mop had been styled into something resembling a rooster while I slept due to my Dennis the Menace-esque cowlick and damp pillow case. My mother commented on my new “do” as I sat at the kitchen table scowling.
“What’s wrong Johnny?” She said with contrived sympathy.
My angst grew four sizes larger as I stared her down. I decided to go for the gold and ask her the question that had been plaguing my thoughts, dreams and ability to function.
“Mommy.” The one word that I knew could work in my favor and manipulate her stone cold heart. “Why did you have to tell me that Santa wasn’t real?”
Her mouth gaped... similar to what I imagine her asshole looked like after meeting ELO years earlier.
She started to stutter and stumble over her words. After regaining her composure of getting hit by the adorability of a toe-headed seven year old. She put her hands on her hips and said the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard an adult say to date.
“Well, sweetheart, as a new believer in Jesus Christ I didn’t want to wait any longer to tell you that Santa wasn’t real and for you to confuse the two. Because Jesus is real. Not to mention, he’s the reason for the season.”
The fires of hell burned inside of me. I wished I was Damien from the Omen. If she was worried about me believing in Jesus before she sure as shit should be worried now. She had replaced the magic of Christmas, not to mention my childhood, with superstition.
I took a deep breath and thought of Chris Feldmann in all of his glory. I pictured Kevin’s lifeless body after being annihilated, because our fates were about be the same. I stood up from the table and looked my mom dead in the eye and with more defiance than the occupy movement said what every 7 year old thought after being told that Santa wasn’t real.
“Mommy, you’re a cock sucker.”
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
I wrote this a few weeks ago and forgot to post it here. Only spent a few minutes on it. I like the basic idea of the story. I'm planning on expanding on it. We'll see.
Being alone wasn’t the problem.
The loneliness was what kept him up at night. Most days no one even talked to him, just at him. His parents commanded him what to do. Teachers demanded homework assignments. classmates berated him. He had become a good listener. Talking would’ve been a privilege.
The volume was turned down low on the CB. He didn’t want to wake up his family. His brother was in the next room, parents were down the hall. His brother was always having nightmares and screaming in his sleep or walking around out in the halls throwing blankets and pillows. Locked doors keep most everything out, especially your brother.
He had no problem just listening. The chatter of crackling country accents coming across the airwaves were comforting to him late at night, especially when it felt like he was the only one alive. His brother and his friends would actually talk to the truck drivers traveling in and out of Kentucky on I-75. Mainly, they were just trying to piss them off.
A few of the other guys in the neighborhood had CB radios as well. Their parents would buy them anything to keep from hearing that they were bored. Over the summer they all made up handles to use while they harassed the drivers. This was their upper middle class training for sticking it to the blue collar working class. You’ve got to start them young.
He sat Indian style on his bed underneath the covers with a flashlight listening to the men talk in between static pauses. Not a whole lot was said. The talk was centered around bears. He had overheard his brother explaining it to one of his friends a few weeks earlier and found out that they were just trying not to get pulled over.
An hour went by of small talk and channel checks. His eyes were heavy and his body was now stretched out over the length of his bed. The flashlight’s beam had grown dim. He reached to turn the radio off, but heard a muffled voice came through the speaker that said his name.
Sitting up slowly in his bed he stared at his bedroom door. The voice had to be his brother having one of his night terrors or even his father coming to whip him for being awake or alive. He actually preferred it.
The voice crackled through the CB once more saying his name. No silly handle. No channel checks. Just his name. He was terrified as he sat in silence.
He hadn’t spoken to anyone in a long time.