Friday, September 28, 2012


“It’s peculiar how a very simple act by a woman can get absorbed into the fabric of a person’s whole day. The act, which then becomes thought, bangs around in the brain and the imagination makes you re-live the moment over and over again. Each time you cringe a little more and blush a little harder”, said Joey.

Ryan looked up from his newspaper.

“What the hell are you babbling about”, asked Ryan.

“I’m just saying the things I've done, maybe, the things I’m ashamed of seem to linger in my brain and I can’t seem to get past them”, said Joey.

Ryan nodded and folded his paper and tossed it onto the dashboard of the municipal works van.

“You’re going to make me talk about this hm? You can’t just let me sit here and read my paper”, asked Ryan.

Joey nodded slowly and took a quick sip from his coffee cup. Ryan sat back and squinted at Joey.

“Okay, here’s what it is. You’re a human being and like all human beings you have an imagination. Now mind you, some people are more imaginative than others but you have it all the same. But what you’re referring to, with this constant thoughts dwelling on your past, maybe re-imagining your life, is nothing more than a human condition. We call it regret and you’re not the first person to feel bad about things in your life. Life in general is hard. If life were easy, everybody would be doing it. Sure, everybody’s alive but few are really living. Regret, embarrassing memories, that’s just what life is all about. Makes us who we are”, said Ryan.

Joey looked out the window and sighed.

“So it’s all about a girl isn’t it”, asked Ryan.
“Of course it’s about a girl”, said Joey.

Ryan sighed as well and looked out the window.

“Do you love her”, asked Ryan.
“I think so. But, she’s… out there”, said Joey.
“She makes you feel differently about the things you were pretty certain on before”, asked Ryan.
“Yeah, I get so embarrassed about my past, my thoughts, my imagination around her”, said Joey.
“She’s different than your usual type of gal”, asked Ryan.
“She’s… adventurous. I’m not even sure she likes me. She’s hot, she’s cold. I can’t figure it all out. She makes me mad.”, shrugged Joey.
“I see”, said Ryan, “So you’re replaying all the moments from your past, looking for where you screwed it all up. Why it makes you so mad”, asked Ryan.
“I suppose”, said Joey, “She really rattles my cage, you know”.

A car outside screeched to a stop at a red light and a horn blared.

“Let’s get to work”, said Ryan.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not Sure At All

I don't know what you mean.
I don't get it.
I'm completely in the dark
about what you're trying
to say to me.

I'd prefer you just said it,
plainly and as straight
forward as possible.
Because I don't

I can't be sure I'll
even get it then. It
might be a total
mysterious concept
to me.

But I'll listen,
and I'll try,
and pay you mind,
and heed your words
as best that I can.

I'm not a mind reader
or a gypsy psychic or even
a lucky carnival worker,
so I don't know what you mean.

So just tell me. Just say it.
Use that wonderful
vocabulary and spit it out.
I probably won't be mad.

All I know is what I know
and all that doesn't seem
to help me know what you
want me to know.

I'm just not sure at all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Holy Macarena

Connor liked to dance. He’d been dancing his buns off ever since his oldest sister’s wedding back in the 1990’s. He was all about the Macarena and loved that pseudo Latin beat. Any opportunity he had now to show off his incredible dance moves he took full advantage of. He’d trained in high school and college and was a master of many dance forms. He could salsa and meringue and even some hip-hop stuff. He could swing dance and foxtrot and even waltz if the moment called for it. Dancing was his love. All thanks to that strange Macarena song his Aunt Kathy made him dance to.

This is where I’m stopping this story.

My imagination is one cruel son of a bitch. I was literally about to write about Conner in a hospital bed. I was considering having his legs blown off in Afghanistan by a road side bomb. Either way, I was about to be very cruel to this fictional character.

That doesn’t seem right for some reason. There’s no reason to bring anybody down on a Wednesday.  Plus, it just didn’t seem right to write about something that likely has really happened to some poor soul and it would be insensitive of me to try and express the pain and hardship someone wounded in such a way would experience. I’m not the right person for that story.

I will instead talk about something a little more worthwhile today. Perhaps we should take a look at . This organization has dedicated itself to the development and empowerment of our brave soldiers that have been wounded in combat or through their service in the US Military. So guys like my fictional Connor have a second chance at an active and fulfilling lifestyle.  

I think that’s a far better story than anything I could make up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Electric Green Light

Why is there an eerie green light that emanates from under the first few steps of an escalator? It’s creepy and makes me think of the made for TV version of Stephen King’s, The Tommyknockers. Why a green light though? Is it because we’ve been trained to believe that green means GO and it’s safe to use this giant metal device that looks like it would eat you if it could?

The escalator at the Jackson Blue line train stop was recently repaired and the light shining from under is exceptionally bright. It makes me think the machinery is some sort of hell-spawn clockwork that is merely biding its time before the great mechanical-revolution the Mayan’s surely predicted. I think it’s waiting to snag your shoelace and pull you down through its great, grinding staircase teeth and mash you up into bloody, bone pulpy goo that it then uses to fuel its engines.

Can you imagine all the machines on Earth suddenly glowing with that same escalator underglow? The kitchen blender suddenly deciding it doesn’t like your protein shakes or margarita mixers anymore and now has a taste for a blended you. A murder-colada, if you will.

I once had a 1985 Dodge Reliant that had a similar green glowing dashboard and I sometimes wondered if it made the interior of that car look like it was designed for death.  As if the car had a will of its own and its sole purpose was to drag your stinking corpse down to hell, all to the sounds of John Denver on the radio.

I remember as a child, I was in a mall waiting for my mother or sister or something and I was standing near the escalator. I was pretty fascinated by the rolling, undulation of these giant metal stairs. The moving railing was something of a marvel and deserved investigation. So I kicked it. The railing and the whole escalator came to a complete halt. I was shocked. What had I done? Had I killed it? Broken it? No matter what it was I knew it meant trouble for me so I did what all children do. I ran.

Sometimes I do wonder if the Underground Escalator League of Evil is looking for me and that green light is sort of a bio-scan. Like, they know where I am at all times and they are plotting their revenge for the murder of their mall escalator brother. I think they are in cahoots with the Elevator Union of Chaos.

I know it’s completely silly to be fearful of a machine take-over of the planet. That’s just so dumb. It’s not like the machines could ever run our human lives. Wait, I’ve got an e-mail text message video sound file I’ve got to listen to while finishing this game of Words with Friends and reading up on the release date for The Avengers 2: The Avengening.

Did you hear something? Sounded like an escalator? What’s that glowing?


Monday, September 24, 2012

Love Sick

Ray entered the community center meeting room and sat on one of the hard metal folding chairs set up at the far end of the small meeting room. He didn’t want any of the free crappy coffee or day old muffins placed out on the folding table. This was his fourth meeting and he’d yet to say anything to anyone. He knew there was something wrong with him but he just wasn’t sure how to articulate it. He didn’t really think this group was helping with his obsession.

“Okay, I think we’ve got a good size today, it’s after 6:00 so let’s begin”, said the volunteer counselor.

The counselor looked at the 13 faces now staring back at him and smiled at each one.  Ray thought the counselor was running these meetings for school credit or something. He was wiry and nerdy and balding and was probably having a terrible time in the dating world. There was no money in volunteering with people that were obsessive. Ray wondered if any women found the counselor even the slightest bit attractive. Ray chuckled, imagining the counselor driving around town in a used 1990’s Hyundai trying to pick up the chicks.  

“Ray, something amusing you tonight”, asked the counselor.

Ray was startled and quit smirking.

“No. I was just thinking about something. No”, said Ray.
“Why don’t you share it with the group? We’ve yet to hear anything from you”, said the counselor.

Ray frowned. He should have guessed that his luck wouldn’t hold out. He figured he could get through these meetings without having to participate. He was only going because his family was worried about him. Ray figured it was an issue he could handle on his own so the meetings were only for appearances.

“I’m not sure I’m really ready to share”, said Ray.
“I think you are Ray. You’ve had an opportunity to listen to everyone’s issues now they should have a chance to hear yours, maybe they can help”, said the counselor.

Ray looked at the group. It was a sorry bunch of cat lady’s, sex offenders and stalkers. He didn’t feel like he was anything like these people. The counselor was nodding at Ray, trying to encourage him to participate. Ray sighed and cleared his throat.

“I’m in love with love”, said Ray.
“Can you explain that a little further Ray”, asked the counselor.

Ray shifted in his folding chair. His butt was starting to go numb.

“I said that I’m in love with love. I fall in love with women too quickly and I imagine a lifetime together; kids, a house, growing old and dying. I do this with almost every woman I meet. I want so badly to be in love with someone that I romanticize every part of our relationship, even casual friendly relationships, until I drive her away.  I obsess over the object of my affection to the point that they aren’t comfortable being around me and they run away. The rejection is intolerable. It sends me into a deep depression, so I look for someone else to fall in love with, who then also rejects me, which makes me more depressed, which again, makes me look for love”.

The counselor nodded and sat back in his own folding chair. The metal made a squeak that sort of disrupted Ray.

“Sorry”, said the counselor, “So let me be clear. You are obsessed with being in a relationship?”
“Yes, essentially, yes”, said Ray. “I want it so badly. I want a woman to love me so badly and I put all this pressure on myself to try and make her love me. She never even knows what kind of inner turmoil I’m going through as I try to play cool and aloof outside”.

Ray felt a little lighter. He’d never really said it out loud to anyone. He’d always just stared at his own reflection on drunken nights, whining about his loneliness and failures as a man to find a woman to love him.

“What does your obsession entail Ray”, asked the counselor.
“I think about these women. I think about them too much. I imagine too much about them. I get upset thinking about them out with other men like a jealous boyfriend might. When in reality, I’m not even their boyfriend. In fact, most of the times the women don’t even know how I feel about them, or if they do, I’ve already made them too uncomfortable to even speak with me. So I think about them and I can’t sleep. I can’t get up off my couch because I’m wishing so much the girl was there with me. I can barely tolerate my family parties because I’m always there solo. I can’t stand to see other couples together when I’m so alone”.

“Have you been hurt by a lot of women Ray”, asked the counselor.

Ray thought for a short while. He remembered high school girlfriends. Girls he knew in College. Girls he knew after college. The loves he’d had in his life. The many relationships with women he’d had as a grown man.

“Yes. I think I have been hurt by a lot of women. I love women though. Even through all the hurt I’ve had to deal with. I still love them”, said Ray.
“Do you have a healthy relationship with any women in your life”, asked the counselor.
“Healthy? No. I don’t think I do”.

The counselor leaned back again and looked at the half interested group.
“Does anyone have anything to add or to say to Ray about his obsession”, he asked.

Ray looked at the faces of the group and no one had anything to say. Ray looked at the counselor.

“Let’s give Ray a hand for sharing with us today and hopefully, over time, we can help Ray beat his obsession”, said the counselor as he led a small applause. “Now, Mary, last week you were talking to us about your 47 cats. Have you made any progress on saying good-bye to them”, he asked.

Ray blinked and sat back. He felt a heaviness return to his shoulders and imagined his current obsession telling him she loved him and everything would be alright. He closed his eyes as Mary said she hadn’t gotten rid of any of her cats. She’d gotten more. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chase me

On the playgrounds of my memory
I remember her chasing me
around trying to kiss me. I’m only
eight and I think girls are icky but
I’m a little flattered by her

I run and she chases, all the while
she’s making kissy noises,
“Mmwah, Mmwah, Mmmwah”,
I try to hide behind a flagpole
but she finds me and lays a
sloppy little girl kiss on my
cheek and then runs off
giggling as I wipe the wet
expression off with my sleeve.

It isn’t until later in life that
I realize how much I liked being

And how much I miss it.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I can see myself standing on the far side of this wordless valley, waving my arms, yelling something but the wind it too strong so I can’t hear what I’m yelling to myself. I’m sure it’s something silly like, “Windy enough for you”. I know me pretty well and I’m sure I would make that kind of joke to myself.

More important than the obviously hilarious things I would say to myself is the fact that we’re in this wordless valley. On the bluffs there are lots of free range words, munching and chewing on the grass, but they won’t come down to the valley and get organized into a coherent herd.  So I and me are left kicking stones at each other while we try to figure out a way to get those damn words to come down here and start making some sense.

I suggest that we just start pulling them down into the valley. I of course agree with myself and so we start pulling any words we can find into the potato Crabtree muscle legs.

Clearly that plan failed as just pulling random words just makes for a whole lot of nonsense. I suggest that we use some bait and try to lure the good words down in the hopes the less, more useful articles will follow. I ask what we could use for bait. I shrug at myself. Neither of us seems to know what words like.

“I’ve got some peanut butter and jelly”, I say.
“Oooh, you know that phrase is all we can write when we have writers block”, I say.
“Yeah, repeating Peanut butter and Jelly, peanut butter and jelly is just lazy”, I say.

The words moo on the bluff as if to mock us.

“I know”, I say, “Let’s start a fire behind the words and then they’ll have to rush down here into the valley, then we can pick off the words we want, sort of like the caveman did versus the wooly mammoths”.
“Yeaah, I’m not sure about that. I mean the liability of starting a fire. I mean what if the fire went wild and innocent things were damaged or hurt”, I ask.
  “I see what you mean”, I say, “So, what should we do?”

I look up at the words on the bluffs and the hills over this valley and sigh.

“I think we’re just going to have to wait until they decide to come down here”, I say.

I look at me and then up at the herds and then back at me.

“You suck. Let’s burn ‘em”, I say.
“You’re so weird”, I reply. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Third Story for Today

This is my third attempt to write something today. I’ve written two other short stories this morning about the relationship troubles of a couple named Barry and Virginia. One centered on Virginia’s decision to leave Barry for complicated reasons known only to her and his convulsive heartache. And the second story involved the actual break-up conversation between Virginia and Barry. I stopped both stories near their conclusions because it seemed to be hitting me too close to home.

I understand that as a writer you have to leave a piece of yourself on the page. I know that there has to be a large amount of the emotional turmoil that a writer knows that has to be presented. But for once I thought I was going too far, that I was almost too autobiographical and that would be unfair to myself and those people that I think would know who it was I was referring to.

The purpose of these pages it to entertain and not drag out or dredge up my own insecurities or emotional desires. My job as a writer is to bring up your insecurities and emotional desires, or at least make you think about them in a certain, perhaps nostalgic, way. To boldly present my personal emotional thoughts on certain subjects (other than my employment woes) just ends up like reading my diary and frankly, that’s a pretty boring ass read.
(It’s actually more complaining than this believe it or not).

One of the problems I have with living alone is that I really allow myself to indulge in my fantasies. I get into a long thought chain that drags me across the vivid jungle of my imagining mind. Then suddenly I find myself standing at the shores of these blank pages and I start to spout out my own emotional business instead of writing something that encourages you to explore our collective emotional business.

For instance, yesterday I wrote about love. And I felt like that was a subject we explored together, maybe had a little chuckle about. Other than that though, I haven’t thought much about love. That is to say, until this past weekend when I felt like I fell in love with someone? But know better than to actually do so. Take a deep breath, it is okay. I’m not entirely convinced of it myself. I know that it would be foolish to fall in love right now, how it happened I’m entirely unsure. Something about how comfortable and soothing I find her. Her smile and her voice, her energy, her spirit, sigh…. I mean, so these two stories I was writing about Barry and Virginia was the detailed destruction of their fledging, perhaps one sided love story.  

It got too personal for me. I can certainly profess what my thoughts about the concept of love are, but when I have to practically apply it to my own life I can see the danger and heartache it actually can cause. So Barry and Virginia’s stories were doomed to fail; or at least get shelved for the time being.

There’s a word I’m very familiar with; unrequited. I think it’s the most painful word in the English language.  I’m sure we all know the trouble with that word. Maybe someday I’ll be able to finish the Barry and Virginia stories and they’ll have a happy ending, or at least a satisfying one. 

Monday, September 17, 2012


It’s curious the impression a person can make on your heart. In fact, it’s rather a surprise when you realize what a mark they left on you. There’s sort of a classic “ah-ha”, moment that comes out of nowhere and smacks you across the face when you realize that you miss someone. It’s not because they’re deceased or because they moved away, but because you love them and they aren’t there to love you.  

Love takes many different forms and it’s a very curious and oft demented sort of thing. It has no shape or form or substance yet we crave it and long for it and try to mold it into something that feels real, reciprocal and warm. We want it. Everybody wants, on some level, to be loved and to give their love to someone. It’s in our nature.

This occurred to me while watching (what else) The History Channel yesterday and the topic of the show was Lost Civilizations. It described how Archeologists and Paleontologists are rethinking the age of human civilization based on discoveries of societies that pre-date what we thought were the oldest human cities. It seems human beings have been living in well organized and well conceived cities nearly 2500 years earlier than previously thought. Those people wore jewelry, organized streets, family homes, government buildings, defensive positions, had a complex language and even art.  And we know a lot of this by the way they buried their dead.

The graves of these ancient peoples were adorned with the items of life. These items were left by loving family and friends to help carry them into the next world or whatever afterlife they imagined. This basic human emotion, love, was the support column for what a complex and evolving society needed. They took care of each other and missed those that were no longer with them. I can only imagine their idea of romance or if they even had a word for love. But the concept of it, of believing in some force connecting us all, was very real.

Just outside the destroyed city of Pompeii the body of an ancient Greek solider was found. His body was just in front a portion of the harbor where many residents tried to take refuge and escape the volcanic ash and pyroclastic flow of 500 degree gases. From what they can piece together, this solider appeared to have been helping to direct the people of Pompeii to somewhere safe when the concussive blast of Vesuvius’ eruption hit him. It’s been surmised that he did this because he loved his people, maybe his family was there and he was doing what he could to help them simply because he loved them.

I thought about the people I love and have loved and how I miss them. I thought about the loves I didn’t get to have, the loves that I wanted and were spurned from, the loves I didn’t even know where there until they were gone. I thought about hand holding and how that simple act between two people speaks volumes about our need to be together (Or at least my need to be with someone).

Love is something that can make us feel sick to our stomachs or joyful beyond belief. Love is the validation of our existence in the eyes of another person. It is the thing that gives us all meaning and purpose. It is our historic and human destiny to love. That’s why it’s so painful when it’s gone or ends or shifts into another form. It’s part of our human make up. It’s as real as the wind and hard as the sky and its potency echoes through every fiber of our being.

I love.  

Friday, September 14, 2012


He had a late summer swagger
as he strutted down the street
in his shiny sharkskin suit. I thought
they had stopped making those but no
one told this slick suited swain.

His aviator sunglasses were
merely the frosting on an
otherwise unremarkable
purple shirt and tie cake.
His gait was in tune to the music
in his head.

It wasn’t reality to him as he
grooved along the sidewalk
passing the squares and rubes.
The party was in his mind and
he was the V.I.P. and no one else
was invited.

He strutted the way I imagined a
Cro-Magnon would have strutted
in a shimmery sharkskin suit.
His arms all a dangle, swaying
wildly as his bow legs did their
best to look smooth.

I imagined his thoughts and
his confidence in how good
he felt he looked while ignoring
the snickering condescension of
the pretty smoking girls.

His suit, that silly, shining suit
was the punch line to a joke no
one had wanted to hear. It was the
rim shot to a bad pun.

He went on his way rocking it
down the sidewalk till he was out
of view. Something inside me told
me he probably owned a boat and
there was a very sexy bikini girl waiting
for him.

I rubbed my expanding gut and sought
refuge in my cubicle to hide from the
eyes that might write a poem about

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dude, that’s gross

This morning on the train I was treated to the non-stop chatter of two Twentysomethings discussing the vagaries of hipster living. I’ll share with you my pain. I think it’s important we explore this together and try to remain calm. This conversation took place between a very skinny young man, possibly gay, but hard to tell. He had a lisp and sounded like a valley girl, but again, in this day it’s just too hard to tell. Plus I have no “gaydar”. The other participant was a very heavy set girl, likely heavy all her life and was likely bitter about it. In the 1990’s she probably would have been a Goth girl instead of a hipster chick. (Also you have to imagine each line of this conversation as if it were a question, even though it isn’t. It’s just how they talk. The emphasis goes up at the end of sentences like a question, even when it’s not a question) 

Girl: “I’m going to see Say Anything at Dirty Nellies”.
Guy: “I don’t like that place. It’s like, a bar and it’s gross”.
Girl: “I know, it is so gross. Bars are weird”.
Guy: “Why is Say Anything playing there? Did they have a fall from popularity?”
Girl: “Their album sucked”.
Guy: “Oh yeah”.
Girl: “Yeah. It sucked”.
Guy: “Dirty Nellies is a long way to fall. I mean, that place. I was with my friends there and there was a guy like, sitting by himself at the bar and I went to the bar to order a drink and this guy was like sitting there, by himself and I felt bad so I like ordered him a PBR and when he got it he was all like, what’s this? I was like, I was being friendly and he was like, oh. Then he told me about his divorce and all this stuff and I kept looking over at my friends and they were laughing at me. It was gross”.
Girl: “Yeah, bars are so gross”.
Guy: “Oh my god yeah. Then he was like, are those your friends and I was like, yeah, so he was like well maybe you should go back to them and I was like, Duh”.

At this point in their conversation I was wishing the CTA had a different policy on hostage taking on the train. Since the transit authority still frowns on that I was forced to be within earshot of their continued conversation.

Girl: “Did you hear about Ashley?”
Guy: “Which Ashley? The one with the boyfriend that was mean to me?”
Girl: “Yeah, that guy is a dick. Wasn’t he a racist or something?”
Guy: “I don’t know. I don’t know why he and Ashley were together”.
Girl: “They’re still together. Four years. She’s so gross”.
Guy: “She is so gross. She thought that you and I were a couple at that one party. You remember. I think you were there. Were you there? When she said that we were a couple?”
Girl: “Oh my god I do remember. She was so gross”.
Guy: “So gross”. 

I was praying Ashley had the good sense to dump these two idiots as friends and get on with her life. Then I was mad at myself for wasting even a minute of thought on it.  Then things got serious.

Girl: “Are you going to Riot Fest?”
Guy: “Pssht, yeah, right. That sounds fun”.
Girl: “I’m going to see NOFX”.

Now I’ll pause here because as an old punk I have a little soft spot in my heart for NOFX. They are still one of my favorite bands of all time and while not everyone likes them, they are still performing and kicking ass as far as I’m concerned. So this next statement made me want to strangle this guy with his own skinny jeans.

Guy: “Does anyone even listen to them anymore?”
Girl: “I doubt anyone listens to NOFX anymore. Like, I was like one of the only people at my school to listen to them. So I doubt if anyone still listens”.
Guy: “Yeah, those shows are gross”.
Girl: “I wish (some band I’ve never heard of and I couldn’t catch the name) were playing. Then I’d be all over it”.
Guy: “Oh that’d be so good. They make me cry, especially with the banjo parts”.

In my mind I think, I wonder if they know Steve Martin plays the banjo. Then I wonder if they know who Steve Martin is.

Guy: “I don’t want to go to work. My boss like, never thanks me for anything I do”.
Girl: “Don’t go. What’s your boss going to do?”
Guy: “I know, right” (I really don’t know if this was a question or a statement. I really don’t).

After exchanging some weird and awkward good-byes the guy finally got up and off and blissful silence descended through the train car. I shuddered and hoped that when I was young I never sounded so silly. I’m sure we all did though to the ears of our elders. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Still Hot

Larry just couldn’t cool off. It was a cool morning; less than 66 degrees, but Larry was still sweating. He’d tried a cool glass of milk but the sweat on his upper lip made it taste funny. He took a cold shower but as soon as he got out he started shivering from the heat. He’d stood naked in front of the air conditioner and cranked it up as high as it would go but his back side was still drenched in sweat. He took his temperature with a thermometer and it was normal. So it wasn’t a fever. He started to wonder if he was dying.

He fell back onto his bed hoping it would be cool, but it wasn’t. It seemed just as hot as everything else in his house. Larry could swear he could see the wavy heat lines coming off his body. His legs seemed heavy and his head felt like it weighed 200 pounds. He tried to clear his throat but it felt like his esophagus had been replaced with shards of glass and sand. He stood up and wavered as he felt another wave of heat course through his body.  He wiped his sweaty nose.

Larry’s phone started to ring and he went to answer it. It was his boss, wondering why he hadn’t come to work yet. They were all expecting his presentation on the Care Management account and Mr. Perkins was waiting. Larry tried to explain that he was too hot; that it was just too hot to worry about Mr. Perkins and the Care Management account. His boss didn’t seem to understand the words Larry was using because he just kept saying, “What?”

Larry hung up on him. He knew that he had probably just been fired. It was okay though; he didn’t much care for the job anyway. He went to his window and tried to see if there was any kind of cool morning breeze that would wash over him and provide some relief from this unyielding heat. There was none. There was only the constant drone of the world going to work. His hair was soaked with sweat. He started to feel like he was covered in ants, fire ants, and they were trying to eat their way across his naked skin.

He ran back to his shower as fast as his heavy legs could carry him and turned on the cold water again. He hopped in and could swear steam started coming off him as the cold water met his flesh. He thought there might have been a sizzling sound. There were no ants on him. The cold water provided a moment to clear his head.

“Hell”, he said out loud, “I died and went to hell”.

He then dismissed this idea since he was pretty sure hell wouldn’t have cold water readily available in the shower, although that was just Catholic hell. What if the Greeks were totally right about Hades? Maybe it was his curse to be forever uncomfortably hot.  Perhaps it was his punishment for being so lusty in life. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been so hasty to dismiss sweet Connie DiCastro that night after prom just because she was just a little overweight and not one of the “hot” girls. Maybe he was drinking too much coffee. Maybe he was putting too much Tabasco on everything. Maybe the sins of his mind were somehow made real and this was his enflamed curse.

Larry felt his grip on the world loosen. The cold water was now useless as he still felt his body was on fire. He thought the tub was filling with his sweat faster than the water rocketing out of the shower head. He threw open the shower curtain and looked at himself in the bathroom mirror and screamed. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hard Days

Today I dressed in a very patriotic fashion. I’m very red, white and blue. I also remembered to wear my American Flag lapel pin. I do this because I do remember what happened 11 years ago so very clearly. In the few years I’ve been writing this blog I’ve written about September 11, 2001 several times. It’s just one of those things that will always be a part of me. I do what I can to remember and if that involves wearing something patriotic then I will do it.

I still get teary eyed thinking about that day. All the lives lost, that would be lost following the attacks, the years of war and terror that permeated the globe for so long. It’s hard not to feel sad about it all. I certainly wouldn’t compare my feelings of sadness to anyone directly affected by these tragedies. I didn’t know anyone personally in the towers or at the Pentagon or on board any of the planes. All the guys I knew that went to war all made it back safely too. So my sadness is tempered with a sense of gratefulness for the losses I didn’t have to experience.

Every generation has something tragic to mark the passage of time. The Kennedy assassinations, the Challenger accident, the first Trade Center bombing, Columbine, 9/11, earthquakes, hurricanes’, tornadoes, some manmade, some the result of nature, but there’s something to mark the time when we were one thing and in a few hours were changed forever into something new. When we looked in the mirror our reflection was a little different, perhaps more serious; perhaps with a sense of the fragility of our lives and of our time.

I complain about the tragedy of my life all the time but I like to think I do so with a sense of respect for those that have persevered and passed before me. I think that I complain because I know that they struggled to give me the opportunity to have the right to complain. I know that if they had imagined me, they would want more for me, for everyone. No life should be spent in a small cubicle being harped at my little Napoleons and Isabella’s. That seems to cheapen the blood spilled over the annuls of history.

Some days are harder than others, but today is especially hard for a lot of Americans. We went from a country about to focus on its domestic policies to one focused on kicking ass. American’s like kicking ass, we’re pretty damn good at it. I’m not saying that all American’s are war mongers but we do seem to enjoy a good fight. American soldiers are volunteers. There is no draft anymore. Our troops are men and women that put their lives on hold and dedicated themselves to the defense of their country. So citizens feel connected to them in an intangible way. We love them and do what we can to honor their sacrifice. There has been a lot of sacrifice.

11 years later and I still sometimes cringe when an airplane echoes overhead. The fear and vulnerability that day exposed is still with me. The bravery and courage and fortitude showed on that day by so many Americans still makes my chest swell and prideful tears tempt the corners of my eyes. The further we move into the future from that September day doesn’t dilute what I feel. What we all must feel. It’s only the generations after us that will have trouble connecting to it. The children born after 9/11/01 will not be able to grasp the significance of that day; much like I’ll never be able to fully grasp the emotions of 12/07/1941 and Pearl Harbor, or 11/22/1963 and JFK’s assassination.   They were all hard days.

I can only hope the hard days get less as the world matures and hard days fade into hard memories. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Faster than Ever

Two o’clock in the morning
was dominated by the
rhythmic thudding of a neighbors
bed banging against some deeply
shared apartment wall.

I’m not sure if it was sex
or some kid rhythmically pounding
against the walls
to keep the doldrums of sleeplessness
at bay. It sure kept my sleep at

If it was sex, then that couple
should be named
Mr. & Mrs. Metronome. Either way,
it kept me awake for far too

When I finally slept, it was fitful
and seemed dreamless. When I woke
I found mystery scratches and strange pains,
a twinge in the neck and an
out of breath feeling.

I realized it was Monday morning
and I felt a twist in my bowels. I felt
the stress of the day already mounting
itself firmly on my shoulders.

I looked in the bathroom mirror and
saw how worn out my face looked,
how many gray hairs were jutting out
of my head. They’re unruly and have a
path all of their own.

I took a breath and tried to steady
my will. I looked at the clock and
20 minutes had vanished in an instant
and I had nothing to show for it. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Don’t Tell Me

A crumpled cringe came
over my face when I
heard about your good

I felt a twitter in my heart
and my cheeks flushed
with bubbling blood while
a panicked sweat burst on
my forehead.

Of course I’m pleased,
how could I not be?
I am the most ecstatic
I’ve ever been.

You made coffee.

I couldn’t believe it.
You never make coffee.
It’s terrible, but you made it.
I’m proud you made the effort.

You didn’t make the coffee?

You’re in love?

I guess that’s good news too.  

For someone.  


Thursday, September 6, 2012


Nothing brings a frustrated tear to my eye faster than being micro-managed. I can’t stand it.  If there was a way to not have to deal with it I totally would. But life being what it is at this time I am forced to suffer under the cruel and microscopic management of my current employer. The more I am told what to do the more I become resistant. It’s the rebel in me. I cannot stand being told what to do, especially when I know what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s like telling the rain that it is not getting things wet enough.

It makes me wonder what I might have been involved with in my past lives. (If there are such things as past lives). There is a deeply rooted rebellious streak in me that I often struggle to keep under control. You say it’s blue, I say it’s azure. You say it’s nice out I say it might rain. You say things are pretty bad, I say they could be worse. There’s something of a contrarian in me. I do try to keep it under wraps though with a fun loving sunny disposition but underneath I’m a roiling, boiling crock pot (crack pot) of disgruntled rebels.

I didn’t make any investments in my future. I had simply assumed that life would happen whether I was prepared for it or not. I’ve been proven right so far but it certainly hasn’t paid off as well as I had foolishly imagined. I think I was still pretty optimistic in my 20’s. I was still vibrant and relevant and everything revolved around my demographic. It was the late 1990’s and everything seemed possible, so why bother to make any real investment. I was going to be an artist. Either a writer or an actor or a writing actor or an actor writer; it was all possible and any job I had was just that, a job. It wasn’t anything serious.

The dividends of that sort of thinking have not paid off and now I’m middle to late thirties and I’m being micro-managed by a nearly blind, bad typing Napoleon. So I rebel like a 20-something. I pout and I complain and put off dealing with this little Elba resident until I can calm down enough to complete the task as requested.  It takes a lot of my soul away. It adds to this feeling of being defeated and harnessed to a cart full of boulders, destined for the troll mines.

I’m told there’s always time to change. Change is what people do when they have money; or at least enough security to change their station in life. I’m broke and not so secure. I wouldn’t survive a month of unemployment. My life would certainly change then. This blog would change to a Minute with Homeless Michael in no time. No longer would there be stories about seeing pretty women on the train. They’d all be about that awesome piece of bread I found in the park that was unfortunately taken away by pigeons and my archenemy, squirrels.

I feel a certain amount of regret I wasted so much time dealing with micromanagers instead of doing things that could make my life better. Of course, what would I write about if my life was perfectly happy? How boring would that be? I’m sure reading my complaints about my crappy job aren’t all that entertaining either, but at least I get to write things about Troll mines and epic battles with bread stealing squirrels.

I’m still going to try though, to get out of the doldrums of this micromanaged life however. As Popeye famously stated, “I can stands what I can stands but I can’t stands no more”.

Is it wrong that I occasionally rooted for Bluto as well as Dr. Smith on Lost in Space? See, Rebel.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


This morning I’ve struggled against the tides of complete and utter blankness. This page has been covered in meaningless and empty words over and over again. I’ve been trying to find a story or a poem or even a clever anecdote to tell but this page has been mocking me all morning.

There’s nothing that comes to mind that can convey the right feeling or words today. I’m hot, I’m hungry, and I’m searching for something to sustain my soul. Instead I get a lot of phone calls and e-mails and mail and more e-mails and more phone calls and before you know it I’m drowning in a rolling sea of work. This is not what I want of course.

I’d always prefer to sit here and write about the amazing adventures of say… Arnold the Space Trucker. He’s a regular Joe chucking his way through the cosmos delivering and picking up all sorts of space related travel items. His only companion is the sparkling voice of Velma, the logistics manager at the Spaceco trucking company, over the communicator and she soothes Arnold’s bleeding heart.  

See, you’d read that. However, poor Arnold never got past the first paragraph because I couldn’t figure out why I should even care about Arnold. Maybe it was the name, maybe I should have called him Jet or Sven or maybe Brock. Maybe then he wouldn’t have seemed so pitiful. He would have been a hard case then. A tough, scarred up, gun toting Wildman with no rules but his own. Jet or Sven or Brock would go about loving gals in every space port and then leave them with his own special brand of birth control; murder.

Arnold on the other hand would have been a mopey, wide eyed romantic, carefully planning his next visit to Omega 12 to see Lurleen and maybe finally have the courage to tell her that he loved her, before that rotten Biff Brohanson arrives with his brand new Space Cadillac and whisks her away and then probably murders her, or something like that.

Yes, this page is a complete and total mockery of what I’d like to do every day. So any fine young, impressionable, beautiful women looking to get this served up every day, let me know. Oh yeah. Hot stuff here. Sizzling.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


There’s something to be said for a long holiday weekend spent mulling over the complexities of single life; most of that time spent in either a drunken aggravated stupor or laying on the couch trying to feel better about being in a drunken stupor so often. I have to say that thanks to some wise words I was able to get over some of the issues I’ve been having as of late involving the fairer sex.

I’ve been kind of a prick lately when it comes to my alleged moral justifications regarding the behavior of others and how it was making me feel. I was reminded that I should not judge other people so harshly. I was reminded that I cannot expect people to live a life by my rules. Everyone lives by their own moral code and what may seem immoral to me might not be for someone else. I can only hold myself to a certain standard and not others.

It was as if a great weight was lifted off my chest. While I might not agree with everything people may do or say with their lives it is not my place to judge them. It’s their life and I shouldn’t be so arrogant to think I know better. I do however, still have to watch out for my feelings and be upfront with things that do bother me. I can’t expect people to change based on my feelings but at least they’ll be aware and have the opportunity to make any changes they deem appropriate based on their own conscience.

I can’t make people change however and it’s wrong of me to want to do so. People are people and if I don’t like or agree with a person I can always choose to remove them from my life. That’s not to say I’ll abandon anyone who might have a contrary opinion to mine, I’m all for hearing a different opinion. But if there is a fundamental character flaw that I don’t like, I don’t have to subject myself to it. I have the ability to remove myself from that situation.

I have to refocus my energies on doing things that make me happy and not dwell on the things that make me sad or upset me. My mother is famous for saying that we have to choose to be happy and it can take a lot of effort. But in the end, it’s worth it.

I will have to stop wearing my heart on my sleeve so much and not get myself so deeply invested in my imagined, “could be’s” and “maybes”. I have to find a woman that is interested in the things I’m interested in and be willing to explore those possibilities with me. I have to hold off on imagining the wedding and our 2.5 kids playing in the yard.  That’s just setting myself up for depression and failure.

My mother suggested I try and find a lovely nurse who believes in me as writer and would be willing to support me as I stay at home and complete, "the great American novel". So any nurses out there willing to support a writer (fringe benefits include breakfasts, laundry completion, hugs, kisses and bed making) I'd be happy to meet you. 

I feel better than I have in a while. The dread of August has given way to the possibilities of September and I feel unfettered by broken hearted worry.