On Coping.

"I just don't get it. They act like
it will somehow change their whole lives
if they chop all their hair off
or go clothes shopping
when the fat lady's done singing..."

I slide the tip closer to his edge of the oak
as he dries a glass with a dirty rag
and waits for me to finish my rant.

"...Or they call to let you know
how much mind-blowing sex they're having
with the vultures
and how much better it is, or will be
once a time and a place are set.
Then the line goes silent for a few seconds
while they wait for some kind of response
and you try not to laugh into the receiver.
Why do women think that whoring it up
will somehow ruin your life?, which is going nowhere
anyway according to their spiteful phone calls
at two in the morning."

I stir the ice cubes around
with the two little, red
cocktail straws
and drain the remains as he takes his cue
and switches hats.

"Because they're all fucking crazy, man,
and don't know how to handle losing guys like us..."

This is the kind of service people who attend
an empty Monday Happy Hour come for.
He further guarantees himself a good tip:

"...They spread their legs because they can't
bounce back from it like we can.
They're in denial that the loss is their own.
This next one's on me, you ready?"

"I thought you'd never ask," I say with a sly smile
as I make a mental note to thank her
for suggesting I go back to living how I did before
she tried to save me
from myself.

I'll get around to that when I'm damn well ready.

Currently reading:
"Ariel" by Sylvia Plath.



I discovered something disturbing
upon bathing at my new residence for the first time
and couldn't wait to ask:

"Isn't it weird taking a shower
with a window facing the road right next to the tub?"

My new roommate's lived here all his life
so his reply was No.

The strategy to avoid some of the awkwardness
is simple:
let the hot water run for a minute in order to fog up the window
prior to stepping in.
Still, it feels a bit unnatural to lather up with people walking by
and when cars pass by
my mind plays tricks on me
by assuming that they're slowing down to watch.
Granted, they can't see much other than my lathered head
and tattooed arms
but that doesn't make me feel any less vulnerable.
I can't imagine how a female ever managed
to use this shower, unless she was very short.
And besides, the neighbors across the street
have an elevated view from their second-floor windows
thus allowing them to see lower.

My mind wanders and imagines how many amusing nights
could be spent by a couple of young perverts
living across from this house if a few attractive females lived here.
It sounds like something out of an 80s comedy
with all of those aspiring young actors who grew
to have nasty coke habits in decades to come.
Most of our neighbors are elderly, however
so this whole shower window scenario is somewhat of a waste
like clean clothes on a dirty body
like soggy cole slaw at a cheap diner that never gets eaten
like the time I spend thinking of foolish notions such as this.

While taking my nightly shower the other evening
I heard a muffled crash come from the street.
A car was backing out of a driveway
on the opposite side of the road
and had hit a snowbank in the process.
I finished showering, put clothes on, and got in my car.
As I passed the spot where the sound came from
I noticed a large dent in the side of a pick-up truck
parked on the side of the road opposite of that driveway
from which the car had backed out.
That was no snowbank he hit!

I drove on by, lighting a clove cigarette
and laughing to myself.
It's a good thing no women live here,
those potential creeps wouldn't deserve a free show
if they can't even drive.

Currently reading:
"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers.


12:01 a.m., time's up.

My parents had been feeding some wild cats in their backyard for a year, three generations of felines stalking the neighborhood. A bond formed between them, names were given, the quality and frequency of the food put out for them increased, and a desire to adopt them as house cats came about. Unfortunately, it was too late to fully tame the animals. Once a cat reaches a certain age without human contact they are doomed to remain feral forever, the window of opportunity being closed. The confused creatures went so far as to come in through the sliding glass door when invited in order to get out of the cold, however. One of them, a pitch black panther-looking specimen whom my mother dubbed Midnight, even slept over in the house a few times. Being the youngest and friendliest of the bunch, Midnight was the one with the most potential to be converted into a bonafide pet. He learned to use a litter box and perked his ears up responsively when his name was called. No matter the amount of food given and toys supplied, though, he would not allow himself to be touched and was constantly scanning the perimeter for possible threats like a paranoid junkie making a deal in a back alley somewhere. It broke their hearts to admit it, but my parents finally came to grips with the fact that wild animals have to remain that way.

That didn't mean that they didn't still want a new addition to the family. Several animal adoption agencies were contacted over the course of a few weeks. Upon visiting my family tonight I got to meet the kitten they chose. Fluffy, uncoordinated, and still nameless, she hid in the corners of couches and under pillows. I held her in my lap as I read a few chapters and stroking her pristine fur brought a noticeable sense of comfort to both of us, at least for awhile. That all changed when I looked through the sliding glass door and saw Midnight patiently waiting for his nightly dinner and romp in the living room. My parents told me they'd cut off the wild cats, "the Knuckleheads," as they now called them, a few days ago. Midnight was the only one who still kept his nose glued to the screen door every night since then in the hopes of coming inside again. He wanted to be tamed, but Nature said it was too late, and Nature always wins. Out of pity for his old friends, my stepfather brought some sliced chicken breast left over from dinner out on the patio for the cats. Midnight glanced over his shoulder at his siblings devouring their alms, his portion included, but quickly fixed his gaze back into the warm, well-lit living room. His silent vigil became too much to bear, guilt being a leading cause of human action, so a few minutes later my mother went and closed the blinds. I was grateful that I wouldn't have to watch the painful process of detachment anymore firsthand. Being weened off of something is no easy task, especially a relationship of sorts. The kitten in my lap tired of my company, plopped herself down onto the floor, and scampered into her box in the next room. I finished the chapter I was working on and got up to gather my things for my departure.

After saying my goodbyes I went back to the living room, turned on the patio light, and cracked the blinds. There he was, still pasted to the same spot waiting to come inside and say hello as best he could, though not as affectionately as a domestic cat. Not able to leave him there like that I did something out of character and banged on the glass door with my fist to run him off. He bounded into the night, hopefully to find a warm shed to sleep in and a female companion to pass the time. My mother asked what I was doing as she cradled the kitten in her arms and brought her over towards me. I faked one last stroke on the head of the kitten and realized that it'd take awhile to accept her now. Walking out the door I turned and looked one last time at my mom holding the new cat, the two of them symbols of what the problem I have with most of the world: It's hard to find loyalty anymore, at least in humans. Us Midnights don't stand a chance.

Currently reading:
"The Pleasures of the Damned" by Charles Bukowski.


Late-night conversation with an equal adversary.

Thanks for calling, but I'm not saving your number. I have a bad habit of embarrassing myself via telephone when I'm lonely and the books aren't enough.

How about we call it a friendship and I forgive you for anything you might say? Stop being ridiculous.

Wish I could, but I know myself too well. Appreciate the attempt at self control if nothing else. Remember why I had to leave the last one. You're the opposite. Do the math.

Oh, David.

Please don't call me that, I only let one person call me by my full name.

Take care, I'll see you around.

No you won't. Running into you at the store the other day was a fluke.

A fluke is a fluke only if you let it be, and otherwise it's a whale. So stick that in your smoke and pipe it.

I've learned that not letting things be only leads to over-analyzation and/or forcing what should come freely. Have you ever been told you're too smart for your own good?

No, but I've told myself that being smart hardly matters and that the good and kindness do.

Tell that to the good and the kind, ask them where it's gotten them. They may persuade you otherwise.

I don't think they would, if they're smart.

You've got me there, though not really. Don't worry, I only go for cynics.

I'm not worried, I knew that already. I would only frustrate you in being peaceful and laughing at some things that you might think are very serious.

You assume too much then. I also see your silver lining. I just don't laugh at the size of the cloud.

I'm only teasing, David.

I asked you not to call me that.

Fine, I'm going to call you Esther.

A name like Job would be more fitting. God revoked his family, his health, and his love just for the hell of it and called it a test.

I don't know...

Or Jacob. He too once fought an Angel, though I forget who won in his case.

That's not very nice of him.

She started it. She usually does...

. . . . .

I woke up three hours later with the phone still in my hand. I'd never fallen asleep mid-sentence before. It was as peaceful as they'd claimed, like the sound of snow hitting branches on a quiet December morning. You never forget your first.

Or your last.

Or any of the ones in between.

Currently reading:
"Winesburg, Ohio" by Sherwood Anderson.


I read this to his answering machine:

save this message
because it just may be the last time you hear my voice again.
how dare you call me after all this time
like nothing ever happened
like you didn't leave your flesh and blood
in the wind
for wanting to improve himself.
I'm thankful I got into the union
and not necessarily because of the money
but because of the half-dozen men who have taken your place.
when I needed you
you were too involved with what you can't see
and now that I see you're only about yourself
I want no part in it.
and when they ask where I am this holiday season
say you don't know, and feel honest
because you probably never will again.
I still have nightmares about the father I once had
but I won't let myself live them anymore.
save this message
because it's the last you'll hear of me, pal.


it only smells like me in here now

returned her Christmas present
threw the spare hair-tie she kept on my gear-shift out the window
got rid of the book of crosswords she couldn't handle alone
crumpled the junior high-esque note she left on my desk
re-alphabetized the movies I'd planned to watch with her on my shelf
bought a pack of smokes for the first time in a month
swore I'd never go for a broad who could barely walk and chew gum again

but I really didn't get rid of her until I washed my sheets today.

Currently reading:
"The Childhood of a Leader" by Jean-Paul Sartre.


This veteran fought under Gen. Electric.

Laying in bed at 3 a.m.
tossing and turning and dreading
going to work in three hours
I roll over on my back
stare at the ceiling
eyes drawn towards the light fixture
in the center
like the end of some tunnel
with walls that get darker and greener
as sight wanders further from the center.

It's an image I've noticed since I was seven.
My parents had just gotten divorced and
on weekends I'd go across town to
stay with my old man.

("Visitation," they called it
institutional as a prison.
What an ugly legal term.
Redundant, I know.)

My room then had a ceiling light
like the one in my room tonight
and the ones in rooms I've occupied
between then and now.
I'd stare up at it for a few minutes before bed
or during the day if no one was around to play
which was quite often.

It seems that was good practice
for years to come.

Sometime after that I grew up.

Called my mother today
to feed her what she wanted to hear
regarding the state of things.
She told me she was showing my senior picture off
at work and a colleague of hers two years my senior
had her jaw hit the floor and wants to meet me
says she likes guitar players.
I reminded my mom that I don't look the same
as seven years ago
more haggard
the years have taken their toll
the scars are permanent.
In true maternal fashion she laughed off my self-doubt
before telling me about this girl
and I quote:
"Has her Master's, seems genuinely nice, long brown hair
cute, but not drop-dead gorgeous like Gwendolyn was."
I jiggled my phone to see if I was hearing correctly
if she'd really gone


She did.

Then I heard my stepfather in the background
spewing out a sequence of drunken slurred words
asking why the hell she would say something like that
after four years of getting over the one that got away
and thankfully
finally being there

She parried through the phone in typical maternal fashion:
"I tell it how it is, Dave. You know that."
I do
since that brutal honesty
is one of the many good traits she's given me
and also one that gets me in trouble.

In my head I visualized a girl better than the last
but not as good as the first
another numbing mediocre
and realized then and there that
the fate of any potential anything was sealed.

I appreciated her honesty
but also my stepfather's going to bat for me
even though I've been moved to clean-up since those days
after a few clinch comebacks in the bottom of the ninth.
He's become a better teammate than my real old man
since he cut me off a year ago
despite the letter's I've sent
trying to reconcile.
I wonder what he tells his family
when I don't show up for the Holidays.
I was never really one of them anyway
the darker son of the black sheep of the weird family.

I'm sure I'm out of the will
a sinner not to be spoken to
regardless of blood
or paternal instinct or responsibility.
My father doesn't even know where I currently reside
probably never will.
It won't be the same
ever again.

I wonder if he's ever stared up at the light in my old room
and seen that same tunnel.

I'll never hear either of them laugh anymore.
They've found what makes them happy
and it isn't me.

And even though it hurts less
with every paid bill
with every song sang alone in the car
after every night spent in the company of loyal friends
and every other reminder that I'm alive
the reality of loss still rears it's head once in awhile.

So hey,
It's no wonder I can't sleep tonight.

But it sure is nice having something familiar
like this ceiling light
at the end of the tunnel
to make things bearable
for now.

And I'm sure that new girl
will warm my bed just as well
as long as she doesn't get to know me too soon.

Currently reading:
"The Wall" by Jean-Paul Sartre.


Some advice on un-packratting.

It's a tedious thing.
It's a tiresome
tedious task throwing
out all the relics of the past
both pointless and poignant
that don't quite make the cut
when you're packing to move
into a new place to call your own
until it's someone else's.

And if and when you find those notes
from the hands of familiar strangers
long tucked away in remote corners of desk drawers
and other dark places:
Let the Whores you fell for
and the Saints who fell for you
(or vice versa, whichever version
of the Truth is correct)
die with the deposit you know you won't get back
from the landlord too cheap to be honest.
Respect their choice to go with better bets
or your refusal to let yourself be lost
in someone else, depending on the case
(and, again, whichever version
of the Truth is correct).

Calling all cars.
Calling all friends to help pack the boxes
and end tables and plush chairs
into that truck on that sweaty day you move.
Calling, once the word is out, will mostly
get you forwarded to voicemail.
When very few
and by that I mean one or two
show up, don't be surprised.
But next time you fire up someone's water heater
or fill their belly with fine food or drink
on a week when their pay checks were light
don't forget to put it on their tab.
This is not a world run by any Golden Rule anymore, folks.
It's littered with IOU's
so next time you need a favor
you just may have to pull one out
of your wallet, so thick with business cards
of endeavours long gone under
that you take it out of your back packet
for long road trips.

Or better yet:
if you're like me
just throw them
(the friends, that is
or at least their contact information)
into that same dump-bound heap
of old phone bills and broken clocks
and business cards
and most importantly
dime-a-dozen lie-laden love letters
that will never see the colors of the walls
in your new place
your new start
at least not while you're home.

Currently reading:
"One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


"Matthew 7:3"

It never ceases to amaze me how fast
those around me are to point out the voids.

I remember drawing a picture when I was six
and in typical six-year-old fashion
the sky
was represented by a two-inch-thick
band of blue streaming across the top of the page.
A good four inches of solid white paper
lay between it and the top of the tallest tree
(aside from the obligatory m-shaped bird
drifting aimlessly and unsymmetrically
somewhere in that expanse of white).

I handed my daily masterpiece to my mom
and she suggested that I give it to her friend as a gift.
Upon receiving my innocent pastoral and taking
a minute to analyze
his first words were these:
"Why don't you extend the sky all the way down?
The blue sky should touch the green grass."
Instantly and without remorse
I ripped the paper from his hand
stubbornly declaring that it was
and I could make
any which way I damn well pleased.
My mother was standing nearby and overheard
my lack of receptiveness
to this uncalled for constructive criticism.
She made me apologize to her friend
for being so defensive of my art
and suggested that I go sit down
and drag my sky to where it belonged

I apologized to her friend
with fingers crossed behind my back, of course
but refused to edit my picture.
I ripped it up over the trash can
as her face flushed crimson with shame
and I quickly explained that I intended to start over.
I didn't.
That would've been selling out.
I'd rather throw my work away
than have to change it for some fraud
who believed that the blue sky ever touches the green grass.
The very thought of having to succumb to that
put me in such a dither.
I didn't mind the fake apology as much as I resented
being asked to change my creation for someone else's sake
by my own flesh and blood.
That episode is my first memory of
hating a loved-one
for a few precious

Last week I was reminded of that ancient incident
as I discussed tattoos with an acquaintance.
Most of my left arm is already covered in ink
and all but the back of my right forearm is done.
This genius had the nerve to tell me
to fill that space with something else soon
to complete the effect
even though his body is void of tattooing
or any other permanent commitments
for that matter.
I didn't tell him about the Biblical parable
of the man with the speck of sawdust in his eye
being called out by the man with the plank in his.
I didn't tell him that I'm waiting for something
meaningful to happen again that warrants
a new permanent image adorning my skin.
I didn't tell him that I'm laid-off right now
and tattoos aren't exactly free.
And I sure didn't have my fingers crossed
behind my back this time
when I told him how and where to get off.

Believe me when I tell you that
vengeance tastes better
aged seventeen years.

Currently reading:

"Sifting Through The Madness For The Word, The Line, The Way" by Charles Bukowski.


When all else fails, doctor the truth up for entertainment value.

"I was out last night and had some stuffed flounder
that reminded me of your mom's. That was always my favorite
recipe of hers. I still remember the time the two of you made it
on my birthday years ago."

I like to catch 'em off-guard
with a random opener like that sometimes,
its the equivalent of having pole position in a race.

"Wow," she says, "long time no talk. How've ya been?"

I stubbornly ignore her question
like I foolishly ignored her love
at the end of our time together and get right
to the meat:

"He doesn't need to know the whole story, Beth."

She flounders for a few awkward syllables.

"Whattaya mean by that?"

"Oh, you know...the minor details."

Again, more floundering. I stoop down to the level
I'm pretending
not to be at for the time being
and get good and specific.

"Look, he was my friend long before he was your lover."

A series of rhetorical questions that might've worked
seven years ago when we were an item
and not the present strangely familiar strangers
like the thumb tack on the floor and the somnambulist,
followed by a request to explain further.
(Apparently 'specific' varies according to gender.)

"We always hate the ones who've done our women
wrong in the past, and we all know my modus operandi.
Keep it vague for my sake, OK?
I'm tired of losing friends over women."

Suddenly it clicks in her head and she swears to leave me out of it,
whatever picture she intends to paint when the time comes.
I have enough shame to live with as a result of the last few years
and thankfully she respects that
which is far more than I deserve.
I counter with a truthful blessing:

"I'm happy for the both of you. The more I think
about your personalities
the more sense it makes. You guys deserve each other,
in a good way."

I practically watch her blush though we can't see each other.
Yeah, that's the reaction I wanted; let her know he wasn't lying
about how surprisingly supportive I was when he broke
the news to me
at the bar that night:
my high school sweetheart fell for him
and vice versa.
It must've come as a shock to them, but nothing
these days.
Like I told her, I've lost enough friends over women.

We make small-talk for awhile.
Then she decides to try to return the favor
by hitting me with a back-handed compliment of sorts:

"Dave, you were right about Liz."

I keep talking like I didn't hear her, to no avail.

"She's a bitter back-stabber."

More rambling on my part.
Anything but the "You told me so about so-and-so" speech, not now.

"I see her for what she is finally. You're a good judge of character."

Oh Lord, haven't they learned that giving someone like me credit
for mere observation (which is all any of this is)
is just more pissing in the wind?

"Well, let's just hope that's true and I really did place my bet on the right new couple."

There, I disarmed it with a positive spin
for the time being,
just like I always do
for the amount of time it takes to end the conversation and get away.

"Goodnight, Beth."

"Ditto, Dave."


But for Christ's sake,
Why can't they just let me be wrong when I want them to?
I'd like to believe that the cynic in me is as terribly mistaken
as the realist.

Currently reading:
"The Night Torn Mad With Footsteps" by Charles Bukowski.


A Mission Statement, An Explanation, A Reason To Wake Up.

It came up in the shower today, my stance on death and dying. Perhaps the chain of thought was brought about by the combination of the act of scrubbing the dead skin off my body and the fact that today at a gas station I ran into someone my former self once almost knew before another 'death' of sorts occurred. Parts of us, physical and otherwise, die every day: the body gives way to wear and tear, the soul takes beatings from which it can never quite recover, the spirit recesses back into the smallest speck of light behind the eyes. My entire identity died and shed like the exoskeleton of a cicada when I came home from college prematurely, despite my full scholarship. For the record I didn't fail out, or even technically drop out, I was asked to leave to gather what was left of myself. In a way I'm grateful, a new man. This second post-college phase of my life has proven to take me in an entirely different direction than I'd ever expected. Each morning, other than Sunday, I don workboots and make my wage through physical labor as a proud union tradesman. I never thought I'd be the type to have to shower after work instead of before, but some things don't pan out quite as we plan them. Ones dreams are usually the first part to die, at least until new ones are born.

As I lathered the shampoo I chuckled sinisterly to myself while thinking back to my first reflections on the topic. Notions of an unexpected passing of a sacrificial nature snuck into my head even at a young age. I specifically remember this warped fantasy I had about wanting to save the lost ring of the cute little twelve-year-old I had a crush on from the raging inferno of our school. The recurring daydream ended with my charred remains, ring in clenched fist, being discovered by construction workers hired to clean up the debris. Pretty morbid stuff for an elementary school kid, probably inspired by watching "My Girl" one too many times. In my disturbed little mind I tried to save the girl and died in the process and in a lot of ways the scenario hasn't changed. It wasn't until this evening that I realized the connection, though. And as I get older and love and lose more and more the parts of me I swore I'd save for someone go with them. Sometimes I wonder if I'm still as immortal as I felt at seventeen, and who would care to what extent if I were wrong. Would they play a song at my funeral if I asked them?

It's only now that I can talk freely about these candid issues because, quite frankly, I'm already seen as a lunatic by enough people to justify total transparency. My parents had me in therapy on and off while growing up because of the divorce, but it was always "I don't like when Mommy..." or "I feel bad for Daddy when..." kinds of discussions. Unfortunately, and to my detriment, I never really said all that I felt and thought about. There has never been a venue to bring out such dismal things like my eagerness to go quickly and unexpectedly as opposed to slowly and painfully in a hospital bed somewhere with tubes and needles penetrating my wrinkled skin and a few cards from multiple generations of aloof offspring propped open on a nightstand. Is it so wrong to want to somehow go down swinging? I had no choice in the decision to be born, I've made a couple foolish decisions to die in multiple forms in the past, and now I'm choosing to live again on my own terms. That's why I hope that someday I get to die on my own terms, too, and that I still have enough left of the Me that I feel I really am inside somewhere to justify this name being inscribed on the headstone that will mark the final resting place of the shell of the man that never gave in until the twelfth round.

What matters now is how I get there, like a writer who knows the beginning and end of a book but leaves the middle to be figured out over the course of those long nights behind a blank page with a bottle close at hand to keep warm. I may be my own worst enemy, but I'm also my biggest critic in many respects. That being said, I can honestly say I'm still no Failure. I know who I am and what I'm meant to do with my time on Earth. I may have strayed from the original path, but that doesn't mean I'm down and out just yet. Maybe it'll come time to check out the next time I pick up a hitch-hiker without thinking twice, or I'll be forced to swerve into a tree to avoid a kid on a bike, or get shot by a stray bullet fired during a scuffle while trying to stop a hold-up at a convenience store. No, it's time to put away childish things; there never was any ring to rescue to begin with, there aren't any heroic ways out now. It's the middle of my book in which I'll prove my worth, the part where I finally get all that I want: a secure job, a nice house with a nicer mortgage, and a loving wife and two-point-five kids to make it worth waking up every day. You have to eat a fair share of what Life deals you in order to appreciate the longing for the American Dream. And as for the grand finale, the most I can ask for is to go in my sleep, the kind of deep sleep that happens after you've already woken up once during the night and rolled over gracefully after checking the alarm clock and seeing that there are still several hours left to rest. Yeah, that's the way.

Currently reading:
"Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch" by Henry Miller.


Fifteen Percent Is a Slap in the Face.

It was late and I was laying in bed drunk when she called
just as far gone as I was that time at her bar
when I'd left my number on a coaster next to her hefty tip
and a note I'd written in the bathroom acknowledging her advances.
The message was a blunt one offering to lay some pipe
since she'd made plumber jokes
in between the free shots she'd given me
in an attempt to loosen my tongue, so to speak.

Her speech slurred through the phone
but my equally ossified ears understood:
It was the end of her night out playing pool and
she wanted to cash in her chips and call in that favor
since her boyfriend had cheated on her the week before
and I was a good means of revenge, if nothing more.

It'd been a few weeks since I'd gotten any
a few months since I'd made the offer at the bar where she worked
a few too many strong cocktails that night to say No.

The anticipated awkwardness wasn't present when she showed.
Her tight blonde curls smelled of smoke and spiced rum.
It didn't take long for the clothes to come off
but I should've hit the lights first.
Bad tattoos and stretch marks marred her torso
her tired breasts sagging into her armpits
as she laid back on my bed, ready.

I knew it'd take awhile to finish with that kind of lousy inspiration
and it did.
I'd never had to work so hard to get off in my life
even after I'd turned out the lights.

After wiping the sweat from my face, rolling off, and cleaning up
I asked if she wanted to stay
not thinking she actually would.
(It was still that early phase of being newly single
where I didn't mind sleeping alone.)
She said she'd stay awhile but had to leave before sunrise
in order to be home when her five-year-old son woke up.
That was the first time I'd heard that excuse before
and suddenly felt bad for taking advantage of a mom
though she was probably the guiltier party in that respect
since she was the one who'd dialed.

We laid there for two more hours with the tension somehow fading
despite the terrible romp in the sack
and for the first time since the last that mattered
a female ran her fingers through my hair
and down the length of my body.
I'd almost forgotten how good that felt, even contrived intimacy
after a one-night stand. I was honestly upset to see her go
though I fell soundly asleep right after.

A friend of mine asked why that bar became taboo for us
and I finally gave in and told him about my moment of weakness.
When his laughter stopped I made him swear not to tell a soul
and swore to myself that if and when I ever go back to that joint
I'll leave an even bigger tip on the bar for her:
"Don't let your kid turn out like me."


"There's a fine line between Loser and Legendary." -- Robert Mahoney

There's a miniature oil slick floating on top
of this orange-tinged cocktail that's more vodka than not
because not everyone knows how to wash dishes correctly.
I feel my face redden
at this memorable token of my current state of affairs
but the familiar high-pitched clink
of the ice against ice against glass
manages to lull the beast back into hiding
at least for the time being.
But let it be known:
I blame God for my drinking.
He's the one who gave me opposable thumbs
I just found a good use for them.
Your only argument could be
that I do it for the effect and not the taste.

And after a bout of said debauchery
I sat on the pot at home reading how Auden did it better.
The open window pissed me off
since it's oil season
so I closed it a little too enthusiastically.
The window caught
the edge of my roommate's shell-shaped soap dish
and sent it crashing to the floor
cheap porcelain shooting everywhere.
Another drunken shattered fumbling
to hinder the opposite sex.
I tiptoed back to the toilet
and swore I felt the white glass
piercing the soles of my feet
but in reality it was the pain of a phantom limb
amputated and cauterized a long time ago.
I use that fire-healing word now
because it's safer than love:
at least you learn your lesson the first time you get burned.

Chalk it up to another botched maneuver.
Fuck, I couldn't even smoke right today;
all the ashes kept flying in my face
and I'm pretty sure I swallowed a few in my car
on the way home from work.
"Work," if you even want to call it that.
For the last half of the day
I sat at our bar of choice
buying Johnny, my broke partner, drinks
the loyal alcoholic that I am
the faithful freeloader that he is.
He's got a wife and a mortage and kids.
I've got nothing
but jealousy.
He's even got me beat when it comes to
that illegal rite of passage into the typical blue-collar world
I'm being sucked into against my weak will.
But soon I'm sure, like him, the headlights behind me
on a paranoid drunk-drive home
will turn out to christen my path
by being accompanied by rollers.
Better judgment says I should take the two dents
on my rear bumper
that I don't recall acquiring
from two different nights
that I don't recall ending
as a sign that maybe I should stop
before the self-fulfilling prophecy comes true.
Until then, however, I'll continue to binge at the bar
from time to time during (Almost Slightly) Happy Hour.

After that costly ordeal with Johnny
I drove home
and managed to remember
to throw apples out for the deer
that another one of my coworkers is going to shoot
the one who's become my surrogate father
since mine disowned me a year ago.
It's unethical and illegal to bait deer
but it's no secret
that I'll take any father
or any meat
any way I can get it at this point.

Speaking of which
my stripper friend called late last Monday
asking me to come visit her at work.
I told her I couldn't because it was the middle of the week
but reassured her that I still had her toothbrush
from the time she stayed over a few weeks ago.
Christ, now they're the ones calling me.
If my former friends and lovers
could only see me now
they'd know that the last laughs are theirs
and the scabbed knuckles and empty bottles
are still
and will always be

(And why hasn't your old man called?
Because deep down
he knows you're on your way to becoming him.
The ice cubes are passing through your lips
as you kiss the cup and suck the temporary sanity.
Oh, come on, kid
finish the last few stanzas despite the vodka;
the spins won't last too long
the truth will help you sleep.)

Somehow this all comes down to one
OK, a few, but for argument's sake
we'll call it "One"
I'd been dreaming I pulled into my driveway
walked upstairs to my room
and saw her sitting on my bed waiting to talk.
Not necessarily smiling, not coming back
just acknowledging my part in her life
good or bad.
Something, I did something, right?
Affected someone?
Inspired an action requiring more energy
than that required to flick a fucking booger?
That's what all this has come down to one way or another.
When the hubcap she bought me
came off somewhere
I took it as one of those signs
and then when I found it again
five days later in a neighbor's yard, broken
I ignored the omen entirely.

I knew I'd be OK
just like I know now.
Because when I was done on the toilet
and finished reading that Auden poem far better than mine
I pivoted the ball of my foot over on my heel
and sure enough there was no blood on the tile.

Currently reading:

"The Rosy Crucifixion: Book Two, Plexus" by Henry Miller.
"The Selected Poems of W.H. Auden."


a shot from the hip, no wonder it missed.

one of the girls you were always jealous of called last night
just to tell me this tool of an actor reminded her of me.
I said it was strange since we didn't look alike at all.
then I realized that he plays a jerk in a lot of movies.
"maybe he's been typecast, too," I said.
she thought it was just his hairy chest
but told me I could believe what I wanted
like she didn't know I would do that anyway.
you'd know better than to bother;
you should've never worried about those broads
but then again
I should've never given you reason to.

once the gin hits my lips
the shit hits the fan
and those who know what's best
hit the deck
like you
they hit the road.
it's not something I'm proud of.
it's just the way it is.

I never understood why Hem and Fitzy
and all those other handsome old devils of the Lost Generation
used to call it "getting tight."
all it ever seems to do is loosen my tongue
and that's what hurt you on more than one occasion
enough to eclipse the hundreds of times it brought you pleasure.
therefore, according to my enabling logic
it's only right that it should be the drunk me that apologizes
once every few months
though if it's any consolation
I'm painfully sober right now.

last week I indulged in a Tuesday night pity party
chasing bad lines with good beer.
I'd go out on the porch for a smoke every couple drinks
the increments shrinking
the smoke-induced gag-reflex growing
as the night wore on.
I saw that spider in its web on the railing again
and burned it with my lighter again
and watched it drop into the bushes again
though I knew it'd be back again
since home is home
no matter the pain.

driving home from work yesterday
I rubbed my temples and felt two bulbous pimples sprouting
on either side of my forehead
growing where the brim of my hat holds the sweat.
for a second I thought my former female fan club was right
and I was finally taking on the role entirely
by budding horns.
I laughed and flicked a butt out the window
timing it poorly
as a car was passing me in my blindspot.
I'm pretty sure it flew into her window
but didn't stick around for long enough to find out.
I turned at the next intersection and cringed
as I got stuck behind a car I swore was yours.
that used to happen with the first Great One, too
but it's much worse now
since Nissans are more common than Volkswagens.
besides, you never forget your first
but it's your last that really matters.

come on, what d'ya say?
I can't do another season alone, baby.
not in this room with the chipping paint
and lousy ventilation.
give me one more shot
before I give myself one
or twenty
depending on how you choose to interpret.
I promise you'll never catch me
looking up and to the left again;
I've trained my eyes to hide the lies.

this all sounded so much better three minutes ago
before it happened:
the overanalytical pseudo-sign of the night.
I coughed and a fortune from a Chinese dinner months ago
that was laying on my desk floated down and fell on my bare toes:
"To remember is to understand,"
and the LEARN CHINESE section read:
"Xiang-nian ni = Miss You."
well, in that case
xiang-nian ni, honey
but suddenly
after re-reading all this
I remember
and I understand
that I deserve to never rent movies
or cook for two again.

Currently reading:

"The Selected Poems of Dylan Thomas, 1934-1952"
"The Rosy Crucifixion, Book One: Sexus" by Henry Miller.


more bad poetry!!!

We get paid the same
whether marching or fighting
and sometimes we just want to lay down our guns.
But goddamn it all if I haven't been laying pipe by day
and trying real hard to do the same by night

and for what?
you all know as well as I do
(enjoy that, it doesn't happen often
or at least I won't admit it)
that I'm just trying to find the right hole to crawl into
to hide myself forever
in the warm, gushy center of a girl I can stand
and who can stand me
or at least pretend to
in the hopes of finally being able
to hang up the holsters for good
and end the shitfaced Casanova charade.

I winced when she said she liked giving better than receiving
and I told her that she spelled her name wrong
when she entered her number in my phone;
we were obviously doomed from the start.
I made sure she knew this by spilling my cocktail
on my lap when it came time for my friends to leave
and she suggested I go with them and call her the next day.
I arrived home at five in the morning
my jeans reeking of rum
my shirt of marijuana
and I've never smoked that stuff in my life.
I deleted her number
and her existence
from my memory
since my headboard has already been whittled down to
next to nothing
and the sober me would rather wake
next to no one
than one more
to curse the day my old man didn't pull out in time.

No, it's not a fish that you can catch
and it sure as hell ain't a lilac bush blooming
or the top wrung of some morally depraved ladder:
it's a limp prick against a warm ass
as their respective owners fall out gracefully and quietly
into that good
knowing they'll be able to do the same every night
until the last
unless they somehow fuck it up irreparably.

Yup, that's it in a nutshell, folks.
But someone declared every-man-for-himself
and we've all paid the price ever since.

On your mark...
get set...

currently reading:
"ask the dust" by john fante
"slouching toward nirvana" by charles bukowski


"There Are No Atheists In A Foxhole"

"Boy," she said from the doorway,
"only you can have a late-night
drunken rendezvous that ends
an hour later
with the girl leaving in tears."
I wasn't sure whether to take it
as a compliment
or a cut-down.

"No, it wasn't like that.
She's a friend,"
and the words sounded strange
coming out of my mouth.
Sometimes the lines blur on me
after the double-vision sets in
as the rounds
and the funds
and the good judgment
go down.

The sick cycle of hurt people hurting people
and the Superman Complex
failing again;
"He can't even help himself,
how can he save someone else?"

Woke up alone next to Miss Mossberg, 20,
and noticed that I'd missed the bottle a little
and the point entirely:

Loneliness is the water-torture penance
that must be paid for my last five years,
and this forked tongue in sheep's clothing
can't talk its way out of it.

But we're all guilty:
we've all trampled those
long ago
with our respective
and worse
have become the very things
that we stubbornly claim made us
the ways we are
in the process.

Lord, give us strength
to deal with those
whose fears never dealt with them.

"Boy..." she said from across the hall,
and it didn't matter
how I took it anymore.

Currently reading:
"The Red Pony" by John Steinbeck.
"My Side Of The Mountain" by Jean Craighead George.


it's a fun game, everyone always cheats.

i just got off the phone with my mother. i feel bad for lying to her, but i'm sure she saw right through it. she's always known when i'm being evasive. i suppose being a bad liar, or at least an obvious one, is a good quality. i got quiet on the phone when she asked if i've been making deposits in her bank account and quickly suggested that maybe the bank made an error as soon as i recovered from the initial surprise of the question. i've put a couple hundred dollars in over the past few months because times have been tough for her and my stepfather isn't always the most supportive husband in the world. i failed to remember, however, that she is more or less a detective and checks and double-checks every coupon and bank statement and line of shit from friends and family until she's comfortable that she has that ever-chased Truth. she must've gotten her bank statements and realized that she did not put the money in, and that my stepfather sure as hell wouldn't have. at first i was going to admit to the whole thing and say i figured it was the least i could do since i have dinner there once a week. when the moment came, though, i decided to bluff my hand at the last minute by suggesting that she shouldn't look a gift benjamin in the mouth and not to mention the bank's error to the teller next time in case they try to take it back. it'll all pan out in the end i'm sure. i told her the other day when we went for a ride to spend some rare quality time together that she only sees the tip of the iceberg in regards to my life. i promised to have some surreal stories for her when we're both old and it doesn't matter anymore, and that if she only knew how ridiculous my life is at times she'd flip her shit. when that day comes and i tell her about all of the crazy shit i've done and that's been done to me i'll be sure to soften the blow by telling her the truth about where the money came from back when i was twenty-three and making more money than i really needed. and if by some chance that plan doesn't work out, if one of us happens to pass unexpectedly, i'll tell her in another life when we're both rabbits.

there are so many things i wish i could tell her right now, though. i opened up somewhat during the long ride to the catskills we took on sunday, but not as much as i could have. i expressed my current fears and troubles without getting too morbidly specific as to what's led up to them. (wow, i'm an asshole. my ear just itched and i wanted a sip of this yuengling, but i was too wrapped up in the damn moment to think and i almost scratched my mouth and poured beer in my ear. this should be an interesting night.) i told her how i'm stuck in this godawful rut where i work six days a week just to come home and read alone in my room until i get tired enough to fall asleep; how i'm terrified of being alone, that i feel like it's impossible for me to meet anyone decent, and that it's probably for the best that i don't have my own place right now because i'm scared of what i might let happen if things ever got any worse for me and i literally saw no one after work; and that my biggest fear is of turning into my father, which she laughed at. she tried to reassure me that no matter how many times i say it scares me i will never be him. i informed her that i'm already showing some similarities in terms of mistakes made at this age, which i only know because my aunt tried to tell me about what charlie vahsen was really like before being brainwashed by the ghosts of his past and bogus religious leaders. the drinking, the womanizing, the driving loved ones away inadvertently: those are the patterns that i see forming, and i'm scared shitless of ending up middle-aged and alone because of my own downward spiral fueled by an addictive personality. i told my mom that i wish my old man could be normal enough for just long enough to share his own life lessons with me himself and come down to the level of us sinners, but that'll never happen. why is it that i have to try to overt disaster on my own instead of with the help of a parent who went through it already? i'll never let that happen to the kids i'll never have. my mother and i sat at a bar in new paltz over dinner as this conversation came to a close and we came to an understanding that most wouldn't understand, but that somehow made sense to us: she told me i should try relaxing by smoking weed like she does as i took a sip of my pint of sam adams summer ale as we locked eyes and understood and accepted each other's vices. growing up has a lot to do with learning to see your family as ordinary people with ordinary flaws, and loving them anyway.

which is precisely why the shit my stepfather pulled a month ago pissed me off beyond belief. my uncle ray on my mother's side, the one who went to jail for fifteen years for murdering his wife with his bare hands after coming home high and finding her in bed with someone else, was recently arrested again. he's sixty-three years old and has a six-year-old daughter with an illegal peruvian immigrant who left him after the kid was born. as poor as the timing was in terms of his age, that little girl basically saved his life by forcing him to come out of the depressed slump he was in for long enough increments to care about someone else other than himself. the thing about ray is that even though he has a good heart he makes such poor decisions at times that always lead to sour endings. the apartment he's been living in is in shambles beyond belief. when i went down to florida to visit him and my other uncle in march with the ex neither of us could find a place to sit amongst all the clutter that covered every surface of the place. child services got wind of this state of affairs via a nosy neighbor who hates ray and the police came on a wednesday night when he happened to have his daughter for a scheduled visitation and took him away for endangering the welfare of a minor due to the state of his living quarters. my family didn't know what had happened for a couple of days, and as soon as we were informed we were all heartbroken. to imagine this man back in a cell for the first time in fifteen-plus years over something so stupid and easily avoided was very distressing. he doesn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, and my uncle who usually bails him out (though never literally) was financially tapped at the moment, so immediately after finding out the bad news at work i drove to my mom's and laid six hundred dollars on the kitchen table and told her to send the money down there to get him the fuck out of jail. the look she gave me as i counted and spread the bills out for her was part astonishment at my having that kind of disposable income (i make more than her now), part parental concern for an overzealous son, part proud love for having raised a man who doesn't have to think twice about doing what has to be done to take care of blood regardless of the circumstances. and that's what family is to me, unconditional love. which is why it pissed me off when i found out the next day that my stepfather had been giving her shit about her brother, making false accusations and assumptions in his nightly vodka-drunk stupor. she shouldn't be criticized for caring about her family, and the fact that he ran from his at such an early age and left his wife and kids to fend for themselves only puts him further out of the realm of being able to talk. and what our family does and how we take care of each other should not concern him anyway, no one asked him for help or an armchair quarterback suggestion. she regretted telling me about his stance on the matter as soon as she told me because she heard me get pissed off over the phone upon hearing that. then she told him my sentiments about his sentiments and that only made things more awkward for their home life and the monday nights that i visited there for a couple weeks. we'd still have the bullshit construction talk about our current jobs for fifteen minutes in the living room before dinner, but we both sensed the tension. one saturday at the bar after both of us had worked for our other boss the three of us stumbled upon the topic and the beer took over my mouth for the best for once. i laid it out there to my boss, how i'm loyal to my family no matter what and that you can't turn your back on people you have no choice but to love, and he agreed. my stepfather tried to chime in but i only further solidified my point by telling the story of the six-hundred-dollars, which he hadn't been able to give so suddenly if his own biological son in his thirties had needed it. that shut him up and things have been fine ever since. like jeffers said, "dig deep your heels," because sometimes it actually works.

a couple weeks ago i was coinstarring it up at price chopper and had to go to the customer service desk to cash in my voucher. i was standing in line behind an elderly gentleman on one of those motorized courtesy carts that supermarkets have. he turned his chin up from his lowered position and told the woman behind the counter that he had a comment to make about an employee. i instantly curled my toes and clenched my teeth in anguish because i just wanted to get my damn money and this sorry bastard presumably had nothing better to do with his gimp ass than bitch about some zit-faced teenager's poor work ethic. that's why i was so surprised when i heard what he actually had to say. i knew i was wrong as soon as he started speaking: "you probably don't hear this often, but i have some positive feedback. i just wanted to let you know that daniel is a wonderful person. have a nice day." the lady jotted some note down on a sheet of paper and i checked to make sure she had written "daniel" somewhere in the sentence. she smiled, he smiled and rode his handicapped cart away, and i felt like a suddenly less cynical asshole. i stepped up to the counter and said "that was nice." she glanced up at me from her paperwork and agreed, though both of us knew that the other felt somehow bad for always assuming the worst about people. she asked how she could help me. part of me wanted me to be honest after such an awe-inspiring experience, but i settled for handing her my cash voucher instead. and when we told each other to "have a nice day" after the transaction we both really meant it for the first time in too long.

i just went out for a smoke. there are two huge cardboard boxes sitting on the side of the driveway. my landlord is finally going to re-do the shower that's been falling apart ever since i've moved in. about ten tiles are missing and water is getting into the basement. it took a phone call to him and a couple angry (though calm and sensible) conversations with my roommate (his daughter), but it's finally getting done. it'll be nice to be able to take a shower after work and not worry about the fucking wall falling apart any further or stepping on any gross bugs that come out of the gaping hole near my feet. i had to go as far as to threaten to have it fixed myself and then take the fee out of the rent, which probably sent them reeling. my rent's always on time and i fix whatever i break, but the fact that the house is one hundred-twenty-years-old and needs some basic maintenance is not my fault. if i break something i fix it, like the railing on the stairs, but i'm not going to go out of my way to pay for the upkeep of their investment. anyway, i laughed at my small victory as i pulled on my cigarette and stared at the boxes. then i looked down and saw the massive spider on the railing that i thought i killed last time i was drunk and smoking out front. it was in the center of its web so i took my lighter and started chasing it with the flame. i'm pretty sure it escaped into the nearby ivy with most of its limbs, probably to return in a couple of days once its stubborn nature gets the best of it yet again. i guess i can't blame it though; we all tend to return to what feels like home, even when it only hurts us over and over again. which is the only reason i stayed with the last one for so long. a few weeks ago i temporarily unblocked her on instant messenger to see what she was up to. she took the opportunity to try to pour salt in the wound via away message. i used to half-jokingly say that she didn't really want to be with someone like me, she wanted to be with some yuppy who drives a sports car and hikes on weekends and is probably named something snobbishly wholesomely american like "brock davenport." it was a running joke of ours, but we both new i was fairly serious about it because our interests were so different. anyway, as soon as she noticed that i had unblocked her she put up some smartass away message about how she couldn't wait to spend the next thirteen days straight on vacation with brock. which was probably just spiteful bullshit, but still. no, "dave," "but still" nothing. you know that it made you feel better, one way or the other. either she really did find someone who could finally fulfill her needs since you never could so you should be happy, or she's such a vindictive bitch for lying and trying to hurt you so far after the fact that you should still be happy because she's an evil cunt whom you never should have given the time of day, let alone two years' time. either way i win, which is nice. i blocked her again (yeah, how seventh grade, i know) and went to sleep soundly knowing that i was finally over it. from then on i've honestly only missed being with someone, cooking for someone, telling my stupid stories to someone, sleeping next to someone...not her specifically. it's a definite step in the right direction and i'm glad that she was the catalyst without even realizing it.

the time frame on that recovery was pretty impressive. it took years to get over the first one that really knocked me for a loop during my precious college era. i pined over that one for far too long, probably because i associated her with the last of the innocence in my life, if there ever was any. it came full circle about a month ago. we had been talking here and there online and she mentioned that she wanted to get her first tattoo and asked if i'd take her to my guy. i jumped at the opportunity and quickly made some final decisions about the idea i'd been tossing around in my head about my next one: the plumb, square, level, balanced tribute to my current construction job(s). i scheduled our appointments for later on that week and tried not to feel like a kid before christmas because i hadn't seen her in so long. we had dinner first and then went to the tattoo shop to take care of business. she decided to go first so she couldn't see the process being done to me and then chicken out. i tried to keep her distracted with conversation and laughter, but most of the time she winced and grimaced and i wished i could somehow take the pain for her. part of me wanted to offer a hand to squeeze, but the other part knew better than to push it. i downed the beers as i watched her make the facial expressions that i hadn't forgotten and kept telling myself i've made it this far and will be ok with having her around as "just a friend" if that's what it takes to have her around at all. her tattoo was completed and then my artist had to design mine, which took awhile. sometime during the process i told her she could leave since her friends wanted her to go out that night. she stuck around for another twenty minutes, but when i suggested that she leave again she took me up on it and headed back to where she belongs. i was there for her when she needed me and that was all that mattered, i didn't need her there to sit through a process i'm used to by now. and somehow it meant more that she left me there and i was ok. on a smaller scale it represented my life somehow. i still had my friends (i've spent over two grand on this silly hobby, this guy better damn well consider me a friend) and my beer and my sense of humor to keep me going, and i still will regardless of who decides to leave my life again at any point. if there's one thing my mom taught me it's to stick to my guns when the going gets tough; only pussies get going. and i tried that once or twice, it ain't for me.

i told you before that i'm normally pretty bad at lying to others, but that doesn't mean i'm not great at lying to myself. so in all fairness i do still think about it every day; or, more accurately, every night. and sadly, the thing that makes it go away most times is my own vanity: i always tend to come to the conclusion that i would never be able to successfully handle writing that last one, making all of those final statements, penning the uberblog. but hey, whatever works, right?

speaking of work, i kinda have to go there tomorrow in order to get paid. and shit, my foreman won't even be there to take charge so i really have to step up to the plate and teach the kid i'm working with a thing or two about being a plumbing ninja. let me go the fuck to bed already. goodnight, fools...and i say that lovingly.

currently reading:
"the pearl" by john steinbeck.


i've never reeked of apathy.

i think one of my biggest flaws is how greatly i let others affect me. it's not that i'm impressionable and succumb to peer pressure; it's more that most of my actions, especially when drunk and/or in one of my pensively decisive moods, are directly results of people who have little say in their own lives, and should therefore not even remotely impact mine. she's single and finally talking to me again like nothing happened three years ago: i'm foolishly hopeful to the point of texting her once in awhile (GASP!). the other one's on a whored-up revenge fuck binge: i'm wasting time writing bad poetry about how i don't and never cared. they laugh and memorize my embarrassing stories and memorable lines to throw them back in my face later: i drink excessively in order to inspire those cherished moments so at least maybe when they regurgitate my crippled history i'll be assured that someone out there is paying attention once in awhile. it's a hell of a way to live, basing your life on reactions you may or may not get from others, but i suppose we're all guilty of it to some extent.

my mind just drifted off in a totally different direction. i'm going to go with it, pathetic blog notes be damned!

i found some old cologne bottles i had at my mom's house a few days ago. she set them aside for me in a ziploc bag, probably to quarantine the stench of cheap fragrances that were somehow acceptable in junior high. i brought them all home and set them out on my shelf in the bathroom in case i'd ever feel inspired to deviate from my age-old standard, Polo Sport.

the first night home i smelled the phallic green bottle of Brute and instantly remembered the days when my childhood best friend of six years and i would drench ourselves in that stuff every friday before donning our camo jacket and white t-shirt uniforms at the ice rink. he fell off the deep end with drugs and stealing and getting in trouble with the cops so we parted ways. aside from the mistakes made by my close family, his downward spiral into the world of hard drugs is what most inspired my choice to never go that route. to this day i still haven't dabbled, not even with a little maryjane. it's not that i think i'm better than anyone, it's that i've seen what it's done to so many i've loved. the fragrance made me flash back to those times crucial times of character development further confused by hormones and it was bittersweet. i put that green bottle down and tried to remember the good times we had together before my old friend slid down that slippery slope. the ironic part is that he wound up becoming a plumber in local one in new york city. we both found the same fate somehow, but my tattoos are far better.

two days ago i opened one of the same two brown round bottles i rediscovered. i had just gotten out of the shower so i splashed some on my chest. the smell wafted up quite quickly and reminded me of who used to wear it, and probably still does. i'm not sure what it's called, but for all intents and purposes we'll give the formula a working title of "Dad." it's unfair that even though i haven't seen him since november i'm still walking in his shoes in my own right, making the same mistakes he did at this age. i glanced in the mirror and told myself i wouldn't let myself go too much further down that road. i wish that somehow maybe he could waltz back into my life again and be fucking normal for long enough to give me some fatherly advice in order to avoid his fate easier, but i know him better than i know myself in some ways and that'll never happen. he's too far gone to be the man that i need him to be, too preoccupied with his precious notion of an Afterlife to care much about his time alive, or as my mom always said: "so Heavenly bound that he's of no Earthly good." it's a shame that construction workers have taken on his role in my life, but i'm thankful that i have at least that much. i glanced in the mirror again and splashed some more on myself; a little of that cologne would just make me miss him, a lot of it would constantly remind me not to ever let friends and family go by the wayside for a belief like he has.

yesterday i sprayed some Fahrenheit on after cleansing the sweet stench of failure off my body via soap and water. that was another fatherly fragrance, but it somehow had a less negative association. he never actually wore that stuff so it didn't really remind me of him so much as it did how i acquired it. he bought it for me one time because the other stuff i had been wearing was so cheap (probably the aforementioned Brute) and he wanted me to have a touch of class. i laughed to myself at that one, then and now.

last night while brushing my teeth i opened the last bottle, Stetson, and sniffed it. that was another one of those lame colognes i used to rock hard back in the day, probably before i even needed deodorant. i'm pretty sure i just liked it because there was a cowboy on the label. i capped it and thought of who it reminded me of, though not as warmly as i would have like to been able to. i was never close to my grandma on my father's side for whatever reasons: the distance, the fact that it was hard to have a conversation with her because she was partially crazy (runs in the fam). when she passed a few years ago i didn't cry and i felt bad. if anything it was good for it to happen at that time because my father and i hadn't been speaking for several months over a lyric he misinterpreted in one of my band's songs. (yeah, he's that nuts.) he called me up to give me the bad news and invite me to the funeral, and after that we started talking and seeing each other again. maybe grandma knew her sacrifice would somehow benefit her offspring. maybe her last gift to her Stetson Stud, as she used to call me (once the Handsome Teddy Bear days were over), was worth more than all of the five dollar bills in christmas and birthday cards she ever gave me combined. too bad it didn't last.

just like the one bottle my mom ever bought me, Curve. that came as a gift to try to get me to wear something than Polo Sport for a change, and change i did. i started wearing it when i had first moved out of my mom's condo three years ago, thus beginning my manwhore days. the already double-digit number of notches in my headboard skyrocketed: doubled, tripled, quadrupled, quintupled (?) so quickly that i found it hard to have parties eventually because the girls would have all realized my game and joined forces to beat me into submission and castrate me. there's one memory of that horrid Curve stench that really sticks with me, though. it was the mo(u)rning after, i didn't even have my bed moved into my room from home yet. we woke on an improvised mattress of some sort and she looked at me funny, like it meant more than it should have. i dodged the glare by stuffing my face back into the pillow which must've been covered with the stuff the night before to cover up the smell of the beer spilled on it. i found out later from her angry friends why she made that pained facial expression when it happened, and why she had been looking so deeply into my eyes for comfort during the act: she was a virgin and i didn't know it. another one bites the dust, kid. great. i never wore that cologne again in that apartment after that, not until the few times i wanted to smell like the asshole i knew i'd wind up being again later on that night somehow. i like to play the part sometimes. i like to play myself. i like plays on words.

so today it was back to good ol' Polo Sport, and it'll probably stay that way for awhile. scientists claim that the sense of smell triggers the most memories, and my little sniff down memory lane only proves them right. i've had enough of that for awhile, though. i'd rather be the me that i have been by choice for eight years now than the me that other people have tried to make me via cologne. and besides, i know that sometime somewhere someway this lovely fragrance will find its way into her nostrils and make her gag as she guiltily remember me, and maybe even regret letting it end like it did. it's only fair that i get to ruin potentially pleasant things for them once in awhile, too.

currently reading:

"the selected poems of robinson jeffers"


Jacob was a sissy, he only took on one

maybe it's just the lighting
that makes you look
like a total bitch
in that new picture you're so proud of,
or maybe it's that I know now
what he's in for
what THEY'RE in for--
and that it ain't worth it.

we should've had the lifespan of
a carnival goldfish
or maybe even
fireflies in a mason jar
but instead you tried to stick me in hell.
you came back to check up on me
and saw me sprawled out
with my hands folded behind my head
and a surprisingly cold bottle of suds
between my grinning teeth
so you stormed back out,
slamming the doors behind you.

stay the hell out of hell this time,
'cause really it ain't that bad
and unlike YOU ever were--
it's MINE.
you aimed for water over my dam
but only got it under my bridge
and I'd say I don't give a rat's ass
but I never understood that saying.

I've wrestled a few Angels
in my time,
and believe me:
you weren't one of 'em.


johnny, pass me the sawed-off!

it's nights like this i wish i still lived in my first apartment so i could smoke inside.
part of me wants to kick my air conditioner out of its perched window position and light up
even though there'd be hell to pay because my roommate would flip.
i'm already paying hell, i might as well go all out and get some satisfaction out of the deal.
but i won't.
i have enough unchosen battles to deal with, i don't need to go around picking fights.

unless, of course, i'm drunk at our bar after five too many gin-and-tonics
looking for someone i hated in high school for no reason
and still hate now for plenty
to look at me the wrong way.
her brother is next to me and in worse shape than i am
all two-eighty, six-four of him.
he's running his mouth off and itching just as much as i am
for the dirty look trigger to launch us into battle
or cuffs and the drunk tank
or a coffin if the kids have knives.
we can't even walk or talk straight
but we're cocked and ready to land punches;
just aim for the middle image of the bastard.
"you got my back if shit pops off?"
"yeah, man...i'll..."
"that's all i needed to hear. you need another yet?"
"yeah, this one was watered down."
"how is she?"
he squints his eyes and realizes he's hammered enough to answer.
"i don't know, she's never home anymore."
"is she seeing someone?"
"how would i know? i didn't even know you guys
were going out again until the night i had to dodge beer bottles
in my living room."

we laugh and try not to choke on the ice as we drain the remains
of our overpriced cocktails.
after that last remark i see it for what it really was
despite my drunken haze:
the scariest relationship
but not the scariest
i'd much rather be getting bitten and scratched and screamed at
and baptizing infidels in beer
than what i've had since:
my room and a few dozen books.
day in, day out.
nothing to look forward to
besides a beer and a smoke
and maybe an accidental death
via tractor-trailer on the road
or chop-saw at work.

i guess what it comes down to is always having been in singular form:
only child, sole inhabitant, diagonal sleeper and filler of empty beds.
one apprentice in the company worth paying more to run work.
one man the other boss can count on working every saturday.
one friend that everyone likes to drink with,
or at least see drunk,
since the fireworks always fly
usually at his expense.
one friend who's been through enough
to make it worth the call
when you can't figure
your own shit out,
even though he might
actually call you
after you get what
you need.

when's it my turn to pluralize?,
or at least have someone else
to bear the burden of being
my "one" once in awhile.
they say it's lonely on top,
but why do they have to
trample the one
stuck on the bottom?

appreciated by all the wrong people
for all the wrong reasons
or the right people
for reasons that are admirable
but not enough to get me out of bed in the morning
without swearing that i'll climb right back in after work
and try in vain to read the doldrums away
or at least back far enough
to silence the calls from behind the dust ruffler.
he should've taken all the shells
and not the ones we found on the beach.

there are only three beers left in the fridge
a pity party foul on my part
but this was impromptu.
it comes like a two-minute piss you have to let fly
after a tight-kneed drunk-drive home.

those soul windows welled up with them a few minutes ago.
they haven't come in a long time, especially for no specific reason.
they just did.
it almost feels good.
to feel something touching my face
besides sweat and dirt.

she just told me i was in her dream last night.
i was at her house apparently.
i apologized if i did anything rude:
overstayed my welcome, pissed on the toilet seat.
she said it wasn't like that.
"it was pleasant."
i didn't tell her about all the dreams
i've had about her for the last three years.
but we're friends again, it's not so bad anymore.
funny how that works.
sometimes all you can do is settle for having someone in your life
in some capacity
even if it means you get spontaneous tattoos
so you can accompany her for her first
(and tell your artist to charge her the minimum price
and you'll pay the rest of it after she leaves).
i'd still give her the shirt off my back
and the rest of my life if she asked
but it doesn't hurt to think she won't
because i know now it wasn't meant to be.

and i guess that's where i am right now:
analyzing the connotations.
"pine" is better as a verb than a noun.
for the first time in years i'm not pining, though.
that word implies wanting the past, and i'm finally done with that
it's more of a "yearn,"
more of a wanting the future
wanting what's left to come
before i die
in my sleep
of totally natural causes.

talking to her for the last half hour has totally changed my mood
and not in a false hope sort of way.
it's just nice to talk to someone who knows
or knew
despite the beer.
despite the cold sheets.
despite the fact that tomorrow will be just as monotonous as today.
i guess i can stop now.
i'll be ok for the night.
funny how that works.

currently reading:

"crime and punishment" by fyodor dostoyevsky.
"the flash of lightning behind the mountain" by charles bukowski.


this is why i don't pursue a career in stand-up.

Publish Post

the other night i came home and overheard what was going on in my roommate's bedroom downstairs. her boyfriend was sitting on the bed listening as she drunkenly belted out show tunes along with the broadway musical they were watching in her room. this isn't the first time i've witnessed this psychotic activity. i don't know how he does it. i would've killed the bitch a long time ago, spiritually or physically, if i had to sit through that kind of wine-fueled supercaucasian nonsense. she's a sweet girl for the most part, but that there is one broad that is definitely safe from any failed romantic onslaught on my part; sometimes you just have to be thankful to know what you sure-as-hell don't want. love through process of elimination seems to be the name of the futile game during these perilous times of searching for what mockingly seems to be right under my nose. (she just doesn't know it yet. none of us ever do until it's too late.)

and a greater part of me would like to blame my old man for what i appear to be turning into, what she causticly cursed me with, who i never thought i'd live and die like: him. the nightmares where he comes back to criticize my life some more are becoming more frequent and vivid, i wonder if he ever dreams of his estranged son like that. after another night of intoxicated text-message frustration last week i ripped the chain off my neck that has the stupid gold ring he gave me right before we stopped talking and threw it against the wall as hard as i could. i woke up in the morning to find that the ring was now flat on one end from the impact. i guess it was as gold as our relationship was healthy. i knew i should have given it back. but one useful thing he once gave me suddenly went missing about a week ago. the tooled brown leather belt with two tan stripes and a buckle i picked out suddenly disappeared from my room one day. i had worn it the night before, taken my jeans off while leaving the belt in them, gone to work the next morning, and when i came home the belt was gone. granted, i had a couple beers the night before, but i wouldn't have taken my belt off and hidden it somewhere. i'm a creature of habit and always keep things in their designated places due to mild OCD. the search i conducted throughout the house left me no closer to solving the mystery. it's as if i wasn't meant to have it anymore since i'm clearly not meant to have him. fuck, here i go again. i just read in my book of ancient chinese war philosophy that taking things as omens should be avoided to squash fear. sorry, i can't help it. let me just blame the missing belt on the fact that i'm not the only person that ever sets foot in this house instead of some supernatural phenomenon. it's a lot easier to believe that some asshole just stole my shit arbitrarily, so that's what i'll try to convince myself of.

speaking of belts, what the fuck is wrong with me? why is it that i always loop my work belt counterclockwise around my waist, but my (now missing) "i am definitely not working right now" belt always goes on clockwise? it's just one of the many quirks i have and can't explain.

i'm pretty sure my face is somehow crooked. the last pair of aviators i had, before i sat on them in my car in a rush to leave stupid plumbing class, sat on my face oddly with one side pitched down. i figured it had to do with the fact that they were defective, but my theory has since changed. i recently bought two new pairs, one black and one red, and they both sit on my face in the same lopsided fashion unless i make a conscious effort to straighten them. it's one of those things that occupies my mind more than it should, but that i doubt anyone else notices.

kinda like how cigarette smoke is two different colors: blue when it's wafting up from between your fingers, brown as you're expelling it from your lungs. sometimes on the porch at night when no one's around to join me in my cancer habit and nobody feels like picking up their phone i just stand there under the light and make the smoke go blue brown blue brown blue brown blue brown until there's nothing left but the butt and maybe nothing left of my mind if such a trivial nuance, if it even really exists, fascinates me so easily.

ground control to major tom: you're losing it exponentially in a fourteen-by-twelve room, and this is supposed to be the "fun" time of year when leaving the house is all the more practical due to the weather. meanwhile, all i want to do is hide in my air conditioned cell and alternate between reading and sleeping and waiting for a message to save me from some horrible fate that i haven't wholly made up for myself yet. self-fulfilling prophecies be damned, this ain't exactly easy to break out of.

my mom and stepfather are going to florida for a week. my grandma's caretaker can't be at their house for the next three nights so i'll be filling in for her. it should be interesting, considering the old lady and i can barely communicate (recurring theme, i know) due to the language barrier. it's cool though, we'll get by. i'll take her for a walk around the block like she used to take me when i was a kid; people dig that coming-full-circle, cycle of life shit. we can watch tv, she laughs at sitcoms even though the dialogue means nothing to her since it's in english. but hey, there's always the other universal language: humor. let me give you an example. ok, so she's eighty-seven years old and pretty much has some form of early alzheimers, or is at least a bit senile. she can't remember what she had for lunch half the time. this means that i get to face the guilt trip every time i go there now. the sleeve on my left arm is always disappointingly new to her, and she asks me why i drew those things on myself and if they're permanent while scrunching her face up as if the sight of my ink physically hurt her. it gets awkward and i tend to make excuses to leave the room abruptly when it happens, but last week she cracked me up. she asked if that was a woman on my arm and i said yes. then she asked why i can't get a woman in real life instead of painting one on my arm, followed by the most sinister little brothers grimm fairytale witch cackle i'd ever heard. alrighty then, grandma's got jokes! i'm workin' on fixing that problem, dammit, but it's one of those things that just gets more out of reach the harder you try. eh, at least we both got a good laugh out of it at my expense. it's one of those moments that i'll remember fondly when she's gone. let me go knock on wood. balls, there i go with the superstition again.


just go listen to "for meg" by on the might of princes.

but seriously, it's bad enough i took a nap for an hour and a half so i'd wake and be ready to down enough to get rhode island drunk and then start typing, but to have that be the first thing i see? this past week has been hectic enough, i don't need the added insult to injury. green may be her favorite color, but it's a hell of a color to see the world through all the time; wanting what you can't have, missing what you did. and maybe it's a little sad that this, for me, is therapy, but to each his own. drinking alone on a wednesday night may not be all that classy, but it suits me just fine. three people in the last week have kindly suggested i curb the habit a bit for awhile, and they're probably right, but i don't see the harm if it's used a productive tool to unwind in my room. i'd say it helps me imagine a better life, but it's no psychedelic. alcohol is clearly a depressant, but if used properly it can heighten the creative and painfully honest aspects of my inner being and thereby allow me to escape reality in a more direct way than reading. i really need to stop tossin' 'em back in other places as frequently, though. i don't remember the impact that put the small dent in the back of my car sometime over the course of the last week, but i can tell you i was probably extremely intoxicated and should not have been behind the wheel of anything with the ability to exceed five miles per hour. it scares me to think that i can sink that low at times when it can somehow be rationalized, and it's only a matter of time before it catches up with me like the rest of my mistakes. the whiskey tastes right tonight and the beer is cold and i'm ready to let go of form and go with the flow. i usually try to give my rambling some sort of coherent structure that segues nicely from one topic to the next, but i have so much to say that writing a fucking essay just doesn't seem feasible, let alone fun. it's sad that doing a stream-of-consciousness sort of rant is about as recalcitrant as i get, aside from the whole drunk driving thing, but i'm really not all that exciting most nights; a loud-mouthed lush at best (or worst), a boring bookworm at whatever you consider the opposite. a world of extremes i am, folks. no happy medium, no happy anything. but this part of it all makes it worthwhile, the putting it down in pretty little words that from a distance seem to amount to something. not that i want to have to do this for the rest of my life. no, i only do this right now because i feel i have to for my own dwindling sanity. i want someone to somehow find a way to make me want to put this drunken documenter side of me down: like a tired veteran putting his rifle in the closet, like an ex-alky locking the flask away, like a cleaned-up junkie burying his spoon, like a happy young man focusing all of his attention on the positive energy shared with his loving partner instead of having to face his fears head-on at night with a drink in his left and the mouse in his right and that ever-laughing escape sheathed just feet away. but let's be real, that day is not even on the horizon for me or someone like me. so for now, cheers. (i know what this paragraph made you think, and i don't have an answer: how many times will i try to say the same thing in a different way? there are only so many spins i can put on the same situation, the same desires. if i were you i'd stop reading too, or i'd try to do something about it. remember: it's not the accident that holds up traffic, it's the passersby turning their necks.)

i'll try to spare the majority of you (haha, only like eight people read this) by getting to what you're probably most curious about first. no, i have not hunted anyone down in the heat of the moment and broken multiple bones. even yours truly tends to simmer after awhile, though there was a period when pounding my right fist into my left palm and fantasizing about the plan of attack in the shower was not unheard of. frankly, he's not even worth it. no long-term good would come of revenge, and i think i made my point already, though i don't quite remember much after killing the bottle of hundred-sixty proof rum and dialing his number. there's nothing i can do now but learn from it, and be leary of trusting anyone again simply because of their alleged rank in my hierarchy of friends and acquaintances. when it comes down to it, the guy you'd have as your best man in your wedding would do you dirty quicker than the bum next to you at the bottle return sometimes. it's not a matter of fixed loyalty based on title, it's a matter of what people want and how much they're willing to sacrifice to get it. (and though, like i said, the ass-kicking daydreams have stopped, i still like to think about asking him the one simple question that always came from my mouth during those violent little mental scenarios: "was it worth it?") and the band is one thing i realized i'm not willing to sacrifice. i didn't realize how much i had missed playing during that year hiatus, and things were just starting to come together for us. we'll even have a bonafide singer soon since our top-secret future vocalist gave us his word he'd be ready to take on the commitment in two months. at first i thought i could let it go by the wayside, but after about a week i put the scenario into perspective. either i lose a friend and a band, or i just lost a friend. it's hard for me to swallow my pride and bury the hatchet, but i know i can maintain a professional relationship with him for a few hours a week at practice because i love the band more than i dislike him. at first i considered the notion selling out, and i guess in a way it is, but i see no other way of continuing to function at a somewhat healthy level without reaching some sort of compromise. as mentioned in my previous entry, there are far too many turds in this current shitstorm to convince me that being stubborn on this matter would behoove me in the long run. i can be a big boy, no dirty looks or menacing remarks. just don't talk to me about anything other than the music after the amps turn off for the night or expect me to ever want to chill one-on-one again; we've both lost that privelege, this is just making the best of it for the sake of one of the other entities both of us cherish. the tension will fade with time, it always does. it's just a matter of getting there. the always-applicable irony in it all now, the band we saw reunite in may and the album he introduced me to that saved my life and whose title is on my arm: "where you are and where you want to be."

the coke just stopped fizzing in the tall, tantalizing cocktail i just made. it's ready to be sipped now. ahhhh, the sweet taste of the cherry coke dripping from my beard onto my lips. manna from heaven, ladies and gentlemen. this is why i'm hot.

someone ran over one of the wild bunnies that runs around at the end of my road. i saw the flies buzzing around his cute little cotton tail the other morning and took it as an omen, as i tend to do in such cases. twenty minutes later i arrived at the plumbing supply house to pick up some fittings for my boss when a counteromen intervened. the dew was fresh on the seven a.m. grass as i walked towards the entrance of the building and a rabbit froze in its tracks a mere five feet from me. he looked my way as i said hello, then ran off around a corner. last week i went to the mall and got dinner with a friend whom i haven't seen in awhile. he laughed and walked away as i veered towards the small black rabbit in the display window of the pet store muttering the equivalent of cute obscenities to myself. it's something i always do at the mall, i instantly turn into lenny from "of mice and men" whenever there's a lagomorph (look it up) present. it's pretty queer that a six-foot, two-twenty puerto rican plumber like myself can have his whole day lit up by something so absurd, but i try not to question good things. that's why i've decided that once this temporary roommate across the hall moves out in august i'm going to go get a new dwarf rabbit and keep it in there. has to be black (so i can name it leroy), has to be female (so it won't try to hump me, and so the name leroy makes no sense), has to be better than the zero company i have around the house now. i know it will make me happy somehow, just like i know i will be having a stern talking-to with my roommate's obnoxious and carnivorous cat about what will happen to it if it ever so much as glances sideways at leroy. so it is written, so it is done!

my friend and singer from an old band who moved to the city and works on the production of the martha stewart show is drunk-texting me as usual. it happens about once every three weeks, mostly in the form of song lyrics. that kid cracks me up, i wonder how he lives from day to day down there. tonight he's telling me how he's drunk on wine and miserable and is going to a dive bar to try to pick up girls. i told him i wish i was there to be his wingman, i'd talk him up to them and say how he's martha's favorite. he said he's just her favorite because of his oral skills. i said that's because he goes the extra mile south. he said girls love that. i said good luck with the ladies tonight. sometimes the timing of a conversation is more important than it's depth; i just remembered i have friends who reach out and touch me once in awhile. god bless drunk-dialing, even though i'm pretty sure it's hurt me more than helped me in my past.

speaking of which (so much for the no segues threat), i was heading home from a three-hour stint with my side-job boss and stepfather friday and mustered up the balls to call her. i got her voicemail, as hoped for, and said what i had to get off my chest without getting sappy. i told her how i ran out of cd's to listen to in my car and popped the mix she had made me in out of desperation, and how all the songs suddenly made sense; it was in essence a break-up album, which is why the lyrics didn't click back then and just bummed me out to the point where i tossed it into the back seat and wished it wouldn't ever apply. but when i heard "how's it gonna be" and a few death cab songs and "leaving on a jet plane" last week it all came to me at once. three of the songs made reference to rain and storms and it just so happened to be pouring as i rode around listening to it and scratching my head, looking for the truman show cameras. i told her how appropriate the songs suddenly were, and that i hope she finds what she's looking for, then moved on to what i had really wanted to tell her: that i'm sorry i "embarrassed" her, as she said the last time we spoke, and that i am just as proud to have gone out with her now as i was during those early days of our relationship when we'd go to the diner and i'd be glad that people saw us together. i told her that ever since she said she regretted going out with me and i was an embarrassment i had hoped she'd call so i could tell her to go fuck herself, but that my feelings had changed. i could never do that, even after all the shit we put each other through. i told her i give her credit for not calling me first and that she's stronger than me, even though she doesn't see it, and that's one of the things i always loved about her. i told her she can hate me all she wants, but i don't regret a thing and i wish her only the best. i hung up and sighed in relief as i turned my car onto my road and headed back to pass out for a couple hours. once again, i need to stop driving drunk, but at least i slept knowing i said what i had to. she didn't respond, and i'm still not sure he has, but there was a strange myspace comment left by her brother's account on my page today saying "You just couldn't stay away......" (six periods, not three) and i'm thinking that was her. it was hard for the moths to stay away from the porch light during my last cigarette break, it's hard for me to stay away from anyone i miss. and though i try to pawn it off on just missing the feeling of being with someone, i do think that there are qualities in that raging bitch of a female that i will never find in someone else: namely, her total willingness to admit she's a raging bitch of a woman, just like my blunt acceptance that i can be a total asshole. birds of a feather, sparrows on our bodies. and how i said in a previous paragraph about misjudging friends: i may do that more than i know. during a serious conversation with someone who really doesn't know me that well i was called out on missing this one more than the rest based on what's been written and read here. i guess i have to take an outside opinion more seriously than my own in this case since i'm rather biased. it was hard to hear that it's not who i'd like it to be and who it was for so long, but it was good to hear that someone actually took the time to read into what i say more than i do. and to be challenged on my own battlefield by someone who barely knows me. sometimes it's an honor to be outdone. thanks, bro.

to be cropped out of a picture, and poorly: there is no worse a fate. for the love of god, don't leave an eighth of the person's face in. do you have any idea what the psychological effects of that are on someone? don't read into that too much, i just looked at someone's myspace and saw that they had done that and instantly recognized whose face had been slaughtered, and rightfully so since one night during my first few weeks of being single i mistakenly...yeah.

i normally try to remember certain somewhat important facts through simple devices. if i need to remember something in the morning i'll throw something from my dresser on the floor so i wonder why i deviated from the norm and remember why i did it, etc. i tend to do the same with lightswitch configurations when multiple lights are involved, but never bothered to do so in this house until tonight. previously, when going out for a smoke, i'd hit both switches until the porch light came on, but not anymore. oh no, friends, i now have it embedded in my subconscious that the switch closest to the door is the switch that must be up if i plan on going through that goddamn door. it's a sad way to have to look at life, but it's how i get by. simple associations like that are why i tested well in school, and how i used to help her study inane vocab words for her speech therapy classes last summer when i lived in the last house. it helped her as much as it did me, she always got those questions right. unfortunately, i failed the final. this wasn't supposed to be about her. stream of consciousness, right.

i've been working my ass off for my other boss. our company was pulled from the job last week by the union hall because our contractor didn't pay the hall what he owed them so my apprental friend and i went to work for my previous non-union employer who usually keeps us busy for a buck-twenty on saturdays. it was an important job because the wire plant we've been working in is shut down for two weeks and the system we were installing had to be up and running by the time the workers returned. that meant working last week, saturday and sunday, and a couple nights this week. burning the candle at both ends has been rough, but i can't let this guy down. he's relying on me even more than i'm relying on him and i want to keep his business afloat. he put a lot of trust in me on this job and left me to work my pipefitting magic even though i'm just a kid. it all paid off last night when he called me drunk to ask how our second-shift session went. i told him we finished a three-inch line and that we're in good shape. he stumbled through a few bud-friendly words and told me i'm doing great and he's proud of me. for a man of few words that meant a lot, especially since he told me at the bar a few days ago that at the fourth of july party my mom confided in him about my father's absence and how i look up to him and the union guys i work with. we've been being pretty honest with each other during our post-work barroom confessionals lately. on sunday, after eight pints and three shots, he looked me in the eyes and asked if i'm ok. i told him what's going on at my mom's with her and my stepfather and how it pisses me off to no end that he gives her shit over nothing and i have to hold my tongue. his green eyes looked towards the ceiling for a moment and even the beer couldn't talk for a few seconds so i knew his response was sincere. he was blessed with two daughters, but no sons, so i know that that's the way he sees me. he makes me count the cash he pays me in front of him because he wants to be sure we're squared up and never second-guesses my hours, he's that kind of guy. i just wonder if when i'm pulling those wrenches to make the both of us a buck he sees the scars on my forearms that i try to hide. if he only knew how funny it was that the factory we're working at is right across from my old therapist's office, and that i saw him driving a few weeks ago and wanted to flag him down for an impromptu roadside session. alcohol's great for that and all, but sometimes i like to make professional heads explode with the bad movie that is my life.

i told that same man a few weeks ago about the dream i had that night. i was running late in the morning and my mom was hounding me about it, saying i'd be late for school. i told her i wasn't going to school, i was going to work construction that morning. and in there was the sign: i'm not going back to college, at least not now, not for an english degree and a teaching profession. i've accepted my fate as a proud union pipefitter, and i'd rather do this if it means i'll make more money and be able to support a family more comfortably. now all i need is that family. or at least a good woman for future prospects of a household. haha. i'm an old man trapped in a twenty-three-year-old body.

what they say is true: what you learn drunk, you remember drunk. i hit the right light switch on the first try while going for the smoke break i just took, despite the numerous cocktails and empty beer bottles on my floor. the biggest mosquito i've ever seen hovered around my head and i went to swing at it, but played it off like i was just scratching my beard when i realized i would miss. as if a bug would call me out for being a drunken fool. driving to work in a few hours should be fun, i'll sweat it all out in the morning.

there's a pair of pants i want to write a very short story about. i have these blue plaid pajama pants my mom bought for my five years ago when i started college, as if i'd wear them. i kept them around since i'm a packrat and can't throw things out, even if i don't use them. ever since i've had them every girl who's spent (too much) time in my room(s) has wanted to wear them to bed every now and then (when they were on the rag). i've never had the heart to tell any of them that the previous girl that they automatically hated used to wear them, and that i never bothered to wash them since they were rarely used. it was pretty motherfucking ironic (i know, recurring theme) that they all gravitated towards these goddamn pants and i'm pretty sure i could get a decent couple concise paragraphs out of it, the way they feel so comfortable feeling like they're the first. well, honey, you're not. and you won't be the last. i'm not done searching yet, and even if i were i'd keep fucking it up until you left. that's how i roll. so much for the very short story.

and the only thing more embarrassing than having a peebottle in your room for drunken lazy nights is emptying it the next day when no one's home.

ok so i'm weird and have a hair thing and she cut me a few locks over the course of those two years. i'd always lose them after awhile, and sometimes they'd pop up. i couldn't get rid of them, even after she left, and i lost the one i knew of the other night. i woke up and checked if it had disappeared inside my pillow case and to my surprise i found a different lock of her hair that had been lost a long time ago. i pulled it out of the pillow case and took a look and saw that it was pristine. i must have lost it right after she gave it to me, probably in a card of some sort for some occasion. the hair looked like it had just been cut from her head, like it could have been resting on my pillow in early march with no problem. it was somehow harder to look at than anything i've seen in my life, it somehow brought me right back to reality. she was once here, she used to be real to me, she used to fall asleep naked against my body and we wouldn't worry about anything other than waking up in time for work in the morning. i threw it in my desk drawer and swore not to take it out again. i may be a packrat and a bit of a masochist, but i know what'll put me under.

fuck this. i'm going to bed. and waking up to go to work still drunk in five hours. i'm really not as bad off as it seems, don't worry.

if you turn the other cheek fast enough they miss.