Tuesday, December 31, 2013


            So end already 2013. It’s not that you were just cruel or unkind, rude or impatient, somewhat stupid and annoying; it’s that you were all of those things. I had a very rough 2013 in which I discovered the renewed joys of unemployment, new levels of human loneliness, the wonders of financial worry and extensive napping. Well, the napping wasn’t so bad.

             2013 certainly had its low points. There was that old chestnut death, creeping in to ruin things. He came in and messed up the joint, flipping tables, ashtrays, breaking mirrors, spitting on the floor, pooping in the corner, you know, the usual. There were a few too many tears in 2013. They stained 2013 like the Roman’s marked the “unclean”. The emotions of 2013 were dizzying and stupefying.

             Then there was all the unholy humdrum of the most unfulfilling work at the beginning of the year and then the search for some sort of similar unholy humdrum work towards the end.  It’s been a true hell 2013, for my wallet and my sanity. Nothing trumps sanity likes hours of TV focused on the cooking prowess of amateur chiefs in England, hot dogs, coffee and hours of cruising the internet for a new job.
            This passing year did have its fun points though. I did get to go to Dallas for the 50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination. I know that sounds a bit morbid but it was still a great get away. It actually sounds like a trip Wednesday Addams would enjoy now that I think about it. I lost weight at the beginning of 2013 due to some long walks and that was good.  I seem to have found those pounds however at the end of the year. They were right where I left them actually and in the last place I looked.

The hardest part of 2013, above the unemployment (which constantly hangs over my head like the sword of Damocles) was the impossible search for someone to pass the maddening time with. That’s been the worst part of 2013. I hung my heart on the wrong women a few times too often. It certainly felt like a trip to the gallows. My legs kicked and twitched in the breeze of unresponsive women. It hurt. Or as I think of it, it was a pain in the neck.  

Odd numbered years seem to always suck. I don’t believe in numerology but I can tell by looking back that 2013 had a huge stick up its butt. So I’m hopeful that 2014 will show more consideration and courage than 2013. I can hope all I want, of course, I know that the most constant thing in life, every passing year, is the eventuality of life. It happens whether we want it to or not. It’s more how we roll with the punches and the curves and the accidentally stepped in dog poop on the sidewalk while walking to the bar to meet a beautiful woman. Taking it in stride so to speak.

2014 has to do a lot of things to make up for its lousy, country, backwoods cousin 2013. I hope the opportunities presented in 2014 are multiple and many and easy to find. Easy as finding a penny face up on the ground.  So beat it 2013, get your crap and hit the road. Your rotting corpse of a year is stinking up the joint and we think you overstayed your welcome. 2014, you’re room is nearly ready. Thanks.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Arose Such a Clatter

            “Okay, you’re scaring me,” said Elvin
            “Shhh… Be quiet,” said Chris.

             Chris carefully stepped along the snowy rooftop toward the chimney while Elvin cowered in the sleigh.

             “I really don’t think this is a good idea,” whispered Elvin.
            “Just be quiet. Trust me, this is going to be hilarious,” said Chris.

             Chris balanced his way along the roofline and made it to the chimney. He looked down to see if there was any glow from a fire at the bottom. He didn’t see one, but then, the flue could be closed. It was a risk Chris was willing to take.

             “C’mon Chris. I really don’t think she’s going to be impressed. I think she’ll call the cops,” said Elvin.
            “Shut up man! She’s going to love it,” scolded Chris.

             Elvin looked out toward the street and then back out over the yard. There were no cars or other persons about. Chris stepped up over the chimney edge and dropped his feet into the chimney channel. He started wiggling his way down to his waist when he got stuck.

             “Elvin! Elvin! I’m stuck! I’m stuck!”

             Elvin poked his head up from the sleigh to see Chris’ flailing arms waving frantically. Chris’ eyes flashed with panic as he looked at Elvin.

             “Oh man, oh man, I knew this was a bad idea,” said Elvin.

             Elvin hopped out of the sleigh. Two or three beer bottles dropped from the sleigh rolled along the roof and fell to the ground below. They didn’t break but landed with a snowy flump. Elvin gulped and started shuffling along the roof toward the trapped Chris.

             “C’mon man! Get me out of here!”
            “I’m coming man, damn it,” said Elvin.

             As Elvin moved along the roof he saw some lights flick on from below. He heard the front door open. He froze.

             “Who the hell is up there,” yelled Stephanie from the ground below.

             Elvin looked at Chris. Chris looked at Elvin.

             “Chris? Chris are you up there,” demanded Stephanie.

             Chris shrugged and continued to try and struggle his way out of the chimney. Elvin tried to silently move toward Chris.

             “I’ll call the cop again Chris. I’m not putting up with this,” said Stephanie.

             Chris stopped and looked at Elvin. Elvin threw up his hands and looked about wildly.

             “Uh… Ho-Ho-Ho! Merry Christmas! It’s Santa Claus,” yelled Chris.
            “God damn it Chris,” said Stephanie.

            Elvin made it to Chris and started to pull on Chris’ arms but couldn’t get him free. He couldn’t get any leverage and couldn’t lift him. Chris was also wildly overweight. He’d been gaining weight ever since Stephanie dumped him.

             “Are you stuck,” asked Stephanie.

             Chris looked at Elvin again and sighed. Elvin shrugged and started back toward the makeshift sleigh to get another beer.

             “Yeah. I’m stuck. Please call the fire department,” said Chris.

             Chris put his head down and felt like he was about to cry.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Struggle

            James stared out his apartment window and squinted against the winter sun. He looked up at the lazy clouds drifting across a turquoise sky. It was peaceful yet it didn’t touch him. He was so far away from its basic natural beauty. He wasn’t a part of it. It was something that was going on somewhere else. It was an abstract that he couldn’t wrap his tired mind around. His stomach growled and he remembered that at some point he’d have to eat, but even that seemed like a hassle.  

             The sunlight streaming through the window felt like a laser on James’ face. It was hot and uncomfortable. It made James feel annoyed. It was too hot for a winter sun. He stepped away from the hot sun and the window and looked around at the same old stuff in his apartment. It was unchanged. As if it were a photograph from some terrible scrapbook. It was another day. Another hour. Another mortal coil. James thought about praying for help. He thought that maybe asking God for some kind of sign, something to help him realize that everything didn’t suck. Then he remembered that God didn’t work like that, at least not since the Old Testament.

             James entered his kitchen and looked at the pile of dishes in his sink. He figured he’d have to wash those before he could eat. He was out of spoons and forks. He still mindlessly went to the fridge and opened the door. He stared at the nothing inside. There were radishes, carrots, one egg, old bologna, three slices of cheese, garlic pickles, and a giant polish sausage. James sighed and closed the door. He left the kitchen and slowly dragged himself through his dining room toward the living room. He sat on the couch and decided on a cigarette for breakfast.

             He inhaled and wondered about the unknown depths of existence. He exhaled and the smoke drifted up through the streaming sunlight. The blue smoke slowly danced up toward the windows and blanketed the old, unchanged items in the room. James thought of tango dancers as the smoke swirled from an unseen breeze blowing in from one of the many drafty old windows. The smoke plumes dipped and spun until they vanished into whatever nothing existed at the microscopic level.

             A fire truck screamed down the street and James woke from his waking dream. The dogs next door started howling in mimicry of the wailing sirens. James felt himself getting sadder with each passing minute and yet he didn’t think there was any way he could really explain this sadness. To himself or anyone else for that matter. It just lived in him, wetting the corners of his eyes. He smashed the cigarette out in the ashtray and stood up. He stretched, cracked his back, and moved back toward the windows.

             He imagined a woman. A beautiful woman getting off the bus. A woman that wanted him. He wanted to see her. He wanted her in his arms. He wanted to tell her, any her, that he was there for her and he was okay and she would tell him that as long as she was with him she’d never let him get so down. She’d support him and subtly encourage him without being a nag or judge him when he failed.

            James squinted against the sunlight.

Monday, December 16, 2013


            Carrie hung the wreath on the front door and stepped back to gauge its straightness. It just didn’t look centered. She’d moved it eight times and was getting more frustrated with each hanging. She just couldn’t get it right. It was too high, too low, or just askew.  She stepped back toward the wreath and adjusted it once again.

             “I hate you,” she said to the wreath.

             She took the wreath down and fiddled with the small hook on its back and then re-hung it on the door. It looked too saggy to Carrie. It looked like the face of a condemned man on the gallows, moments before the hangman was to pull the lever and drop the floor out from underneath. Carrie groaned and took the wreath down again. She was starting to get cold. She wished she didn’t have to dress her damn house up for the holiday. But her family was expecting her usual Christmas decoration extravaganza and she couldn’t bear the thought of their judgments if she didn’t have her house decorated in all the best Holiday finery.

             She delicately re-hung the wreath and stepped back. She looked at it from the left and from the right. It seemed to be okay. The little Christmas cardinal looked to be centered in the middle of the wreath and the fresh pine cones were pointing in the right directions. Carrie took another step back onto the top porch step and took another look.

             “The 11th time is the charm,” she said.

             She wiped her hands together and stepped up toward the house. Carrie opened the front door and closed it behind her only to hear the wreath pop off the door and flop to the porch. She closed her eyes and bit her lip. She balled her hands into fists at her side and swallowed the scream building in her throat. She turned and threw open the front door to see the wreath in a clump at the threshold. The rage, the anger of the holidays, the damn curses of a long year spent dealing with the divorce, the custody of the dog, the dating, the leering eyes of her annoying family, the unrequested opinions and advice of too many mouths boiled over in her.

             Carrie looked down at the wreath and in an instant of fiery hate, kicked the wreath clear off the porch and into the yard. A torrent of cuss words streamed from her mouth as she jumped up and down in the doorway and onto the porch. She screamed at the world, at Christmas, at Santa Claus, at God, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. She pounded her heels into the wood of the porch. She grabbed a string of icicle lights she’d so delicately hung hours before and pulled them away from the eaves. She tore at the pine garland she’d wrapped around each banister of the stairs. She chased after the plastic Snowman on the lawn and tackled it to the ground. She punched its smiling face and she continued to call it a commercial whore.

             A strong cold wind blew some snow up into her face and it woke her from her frustrated rage.  She looked up slowly to see old Mrs. Calloway watching her as Mrs. Calloway’s little annoying dog yipped and yapped.

             “Are you alright dear,” asked old Mrs. Calloway.

             Carrie stood up from over the vanquished snowman and wiped the snow from her coat.

             “No. No I’m not. I don’t think I’m going to do Christmas this year,” said Carrie.
            “Oh my dear, but you must. Your house is the belle of the block every year,” said Mrs. Calloway.

            Carrie sighed and looked at her demolished Christmas decorations. Her front door was still open and snow was blowing into her foyer.

            “Mrs. Calloway,” said Carrie.
            “Yes,” said Mrs. Calloway as she stepped closer to Carrie’s front white picket fence.
            “Merry Christmas, now, go screw yourself.”
             Mrs. Calloway stepped back from the fence and her little annoying dog started yipping again.

             “How dare you young lady,” said Mrs. Calloway.

             Carrie didn’t care as Mrs. Calloway continued to express her indignity. Carrie walked back toward her porch, up the stairs, to her front door, stepped inside and slammed it behind her. She wondered what Puerto Rico was like at Christmas.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lucky Day

            Secret Agent/Astronaut/Heart Surgeon Nick Dryer crashed his high performance flying spy-car through the front doors the evil ACRID Corporation. He deftly swerved passed the security desk, mowing down faceless drones and mercenaries. He drove up the staircase to the office of the mad genius and CEO, Creighton Lawless.

             “You’re one o’clock is here Mr. Lawless,” said Nick as he pressed the machine gun button on his steering wheel.

             The office doors exploded apart in a hail of gunfire. Nick tossed open his car door and leapt out as the car continued to speed forward and demolish Creighton Lawless’ large oak desk and then burst through the window behind it.

             “I cancelled my one o’clock,” said Creighton as he fired the automated laser cannons at Nick.

             Nick dodged the lasers and pulled his trusty side-arm from his shoulder holster and started to return fire. Explosions burst all around the smartly appointed office. Splinters and shards of all kinds sprayed through the room. Nick hardly flinched as flames licked his arms. He focused and aimed at the crystal chandelier above the evil Creighton Lawless. Nick pulled the trigger and his bullet sliced through the air and knocked the heavy chandelier from its mooring. Creighton only had a moment to leap out of the way before is shattered to the ground. Creighton’s laser cannon fell from his hands and skidded to a stop at Nick’s feet.  

             “Game over Lawless,” said Nick.

             Nick lowered the barrel of his side-arm at Creighton’s head. He was about to say some other pithy thing when he heard a thud and felt a pain in the back of his head. His legs gave out and he crumpled to the floor. Creighton looked up at the security guard holding the broken remains of a table lamp over the body of Nick Dryer.

             “Oh my god, I think… I think I killed him,” said the security guard.

              Creighton stood and dusted himself off. He looked at the security guard and then back down at the blood trickling from the back of Nick Dryer’s head.

             “Holy Shit, I think you did kill him,” said Creighton.
             “I didn’t mean to. I mean, I just meant to like, knock him out of something,” said the security guard.
            “I mean you really knocked the crap out of him. I mean, I think I can see his damn skull,” said Creighton.
            “Oh my god, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…,” said the security guard.

             The security guard dropped the broken lamp to the floor and stepped backwards. Creighton looked at the security guard’s nametag.

             “Your name is Osgood,” asked Creighton.
            “Um, yeah, Randy Osgood. Today is my third day here at ACRID Corp. I just, I just started my shift when this guy burst through the doors. I thought he was like, just a crazy person or like an old person that lost control of their car and crashed through the doors all accidental like.”

             Creighton smiled and put his hand on Randy’s shoulder.

             “Randy, today is your lucky day,” said Creighton.
            “My lucky day hm?”
            “Oh yes my friend, very lucky,” said Creighton.

             They turned away from Nick’s body and started toward the broken office doors as the sprinklers turned on to douse the flames.

             “Can I ask you something,” said Randy.
            “Of course,” said Creighton.
            “Where can I get one of those lasers? I think my kid would love one,” said Randy.

             Creighton laughed and escorted Randy toward the secret elevators that lead to the bio-weapons division.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Brain Hots

It is cold out
but my brain is

A zombie feast
fit for the elite
of head chompers.

Hot brains,
cold winds,

Late night chauffer,
no complaints,
early morning aches.

Sun blaring in my
face, heating my

Squinting against
the grey matter

She warms me,
it pains me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


            Amy passed the mail carrier as she exited her apartment building. He nodded a quick good morning to her and warned her about the cold weather outside. He was bundled and wrapped in several layers of scarves, snow-pants and jackets. Amy had her head wrapped in a woolen cap, a scarf and her normal wool winter coat. She thanked him for the weather update and marveled at the strangeness of being warned about the cold weather of which she was clearly prepared for. She pulled open the heavy apartment exterior door and stepped out into the winter.

            The sidewalks had yet to be shoveled and Amy could see the various foot prints of the other early rising workers bees that inhabited her neighborhood. She saw the long unbroken wheel tracks of the mail carrier’s cart and the tiny shoe prints of the children that lived across the street. Amy trudged forward toward the train station several blocks away, cursing her cheap walking to work shoes. She had meant to buy some new winter boots but just hadn’t had the time. Or at least, just didn’t really feel like going shopping.

             She shuffled along the sidewalk as cars slowly made their way over still snowy streets. There was a strange muffled sound of snow being mashed under the car tires as they drove by. It was a curious winter deafness. The world had been silenced by the snowy blanket covering everything. Amy sniffled and couldn’t believe that her nose had started to run already. It was terribly cold, the mail carrier was right. She looked up away from her carefully measured snowbound steps and up toward the train station. The sun had yet to rise and small particles of snow were still swirling in the air, backlit by the bright orange-ish halogen street lights.

             The snow looked like flecks of gold, or glitter, twisting in the air. The snow twirled and rolled around the streetlights like a swarm of angry bees. It would slow and speed up depending on the strength of the bitter wind. Amy shrugged her shoulders up against the cold and adjusted her work bag. She continued to press forward as her mind started to remember this walk on warm summer mornings and how much she took those lovely walks for granted. Now she just wanted to get to the train station and get the whole day over with.

            A snow plow truck roared by as Amy waited at the cross walk. It’s heavy plow scraping loudly along the asphalt street, shooting sparks up as it hit the imperfections in the road. Amy stepped back out of fear. She didn’t want to get his by the sparks or sprayed with the snow. The sparks made her think of the snow falling around the street lights. They were so similar this morning. The snow and sparks were golden flashes that disappeared as quickly as they appeared.

             The cross walk signal changed and Amy started her walk across the street. The cold wind sharpened and Amy could smell the freeze in the air through her scarf. It was electric smelling and harsh. She stepped up to the curb and turned toward the train station.  She looked up again at the snow dancing around the lights illuminating the train station staircase and she felt she was akin to the snow. She felt that she too was just another flashing snowflake drifting around some giant light. She wondered if she sparkled. She wondered about her place in the world.

Monday, December 9, 2013

You're So Cool

            I can’t stand inspirational phrases. That poster with the cat barely hanging on to the tree limb, being told to “hang in there”, has always bothered me. I know that that cat is long dead. I know that the eventuality of our mutually shared finality got the better of that animal. It hanged in there and yet was its life better? Did hanging in there, perpetually gripping that tree branch, really prove to be a good life philosophy? Wouldn’t it have been better if the cat figured out how to climb down and do something else until that fateful day when its owner forgot to feed it for seven months? The flood of well-intentioned yet meaningless posters telling us all to just do things, or try things, or accept failure are perfect for this immediate gratification world. I hate it all.

             I don’t go in for the generic, fix it all with a phrase society we inhabit. We all have problems. Some of our problems are bigger than merely rising to challenges or overcoming adversity or going for a run to look at a young sapling struggling to reach up to the sun. Some of us have emotional issues, psychological issues, confidence issues, relationship issues, family issues, job issues, success issues and the regular inability to deal with the frustrations of daily life. Your cheap phrase about remembering the sun shines even on a cloudy day makes me think you’re an idiot. Thanks for the science lesson turned into a motivational statement, jerk.

            I think the only one; the phrase that really makes the most sense to me is simply: Be Cool. Seriously, just be cool. Just stop being a dick all the time and just be cool. Don’t put a valueless statement about kittens over the honest personal connections you have with people. Cool means being compassionate, honest, straightforward, and accepting without judgment. It isn’t easy to be cool either. There are tons of layers to being cool. I suppose that’s what makes it cool. It’s hard. It’s not just something you can slap a hopeful phrase on and expect everything to suddenly click into place and life will suddenly become clear and more focused. I certainly fail at being cool, often, and my life is fuzzy as hell.

I certainly hope this isn’t taken to be some sort of inspirational article. It’s not my intention to inspire, just to relay my sincere distaste for the crappy, boring, fake, useless, selfie obsessed, pandering to the lowest common psychological dollar. Everyone has issues, stop telling me it’ll be alright as long as I keep reaching for the stars. Do you know what happens when you reach for the stars, you burn up in the atmosphere. Stop looking at the stars and just remember that everyone has deeply rooted issues and your issues are not more important than anyone else’s. Stop preaching your self-actualization nightmares to all of us. Be cool damn it.

         Now, go back to living life to its fullest, keeping calm and carrying on, dancing like no one is watching, smelling the roses, making lemonade, walking on the bright side of the street, and keeping a stiff upper lip. I won’t get in your way.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


You push me away,
you pull me closer,
you tell me it’s done,
you call me back.

The mood is up,
you bring it down,
you ask for more,
you give less.

You ask for the truth,
you say it’s lies,
You say it’s my fault,
you apologize.

You take the blame,
you remain blameless,
You want without giving,
you want it your way.

You want me to be sorry,
you can’t tell me why,
You keep ending it,
you keep starting it.

You want my tears,
you don’t want the rest,
You call me crazy,
you can’t resist.

You got me going
all over, without making
a move.  


Wednesday, December 4, 2013


            The road was boring. It was just endless miles of open country without definition or form. It wound backwards in rolling mediocrity and plainness. The fields kept going, cultivated, cut up and numbingly flat. The highway was without any bumps, hills, curves or substantial feature except for the occasional ker-flump sound of the tires rolling over a poorly patched, tar filled crack. Eric sighed and adjusted himself behind the steering wheel. He thought of Celine.

             She was always on his mind and yet was the reason Eric had endeavored to run away. She was the epitome of sexual desire to Eric. She filled his mind with erotic fantasies to the point of torture. She didn’t want Eric the way he wanted her. It burned him to the point of being a jerk. He’d say things to her that weren’t quite right, almost embarrassing, things that just weren’t part of his normal character. Or at least the character he tried to project to others.

             Eric drove past a murder of crows scavenging the carcass of some poor mess of former animal along the side of the road. They cawed and cackled as he zoomed by. Some of the crows took flight while others were oblivious to his passing speed. He looked back at them in the rear-view mirror against the graying asphalt. He shivered a little at the thought of the circle of life and the carnivorous elements of existence. He gave the car a little more gas, speeding up to put more distance between himself and the crows, and the thoughts of Celine.

             Sexy Celine and her beautiful shape, the curve of her hips, her short yet perfectly formed legs, her soft skin and watery blue eyes. Eric could almost see her in his mind’s eye against the boring and shapeless environment of the Great Plains. He was barely paying attention to the road as his mind lingered on Celine. He lingered on his desire for her. His dreams of their togetherness. He thought that if she were with him right now, in the car, this drive would not be so bereft of meaning. Maybe his soul would not be so alone. He’d have her hand to hold onto as the miles rolled by on the odometer. He’d give her a little squeeze and she’d squeeze back, maybe she’d flirt a little and hike her skirt up exposing a little more of her upper thigh, nothing distasteful, just enough to make Eric consider pulling the car over and make love to her in some barren field. He imagined her soft lips on his, her hands moving about his body with passionate frenzy.

             A car zoomed past Eric’s on the right. They honked at him as they passed and Eric snapped back into the present. He realized he was drifting into the right lane slightly. The damn thoughts of Celine had tortured him again. She’d never squeeze his hand back. She’d waste her time on men who wouldn’t love her right. On men that couldn’t ever comprehend that she was more than just a good time gal. Eric cleared his throat and focused on the bland road ahead.

            The sun was setting in the west but there were no shadows cast. There was nothing around Eric but the road and flat fields, nothing to cast a shadow or image of the passing of the world into night, forward into a new morning. He wondered if she’d miss him. He wondered if she’d even notice he was gone.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The How Not To Survive Guide to Bears

When I was small I was taught that if you were being attacked by a bear you should play dead and the bear would leave you alone. It seemed fairly reasonable to my young mind. Later I heard that not only should you play dead but you should defecate on yourself too. By doing those things you would be saved from a vicious bear mauling. So be dead and shit yourself when confronted by a blood thirsty animal.

This advice seems to have stuck with me and has tempered almost all of my decision making as an adult. When confronted with an uncomfortable situation I play dead and shit myself. As you may imagine, this tactic is not very fruitful in say, a cubicle when dealing with a boss or superior who happens to be “correcting” you for a mistake. So you’re left sitting in your own filth, holding your breath for as long as possible. Oddly though, the boss or superior will eventually wander off back into the corporate woods, shaking their head.

This bear survival advice has also not worked very well when it comes to trying to build up the courage to speak to a beautiful woman in the hopes of building a relationship. I mean, I really would like to kiss her, but she’s so pretty that I’m intimidated, so I play dead and shit myself again. The next thing you know you’re always playing dead and smothered in your own feces while surrounded by gorgeous women, all of them wondering what that rotting shit smell is.

             This advice has failed me as an adult, but it is so deeply ingrained into the fabric of my psyche that I find it hard to escape. It’s like a deadfall, used to trap bears ironically. I’m impaled on the posts protruding up in the deadfall, looking up at the sky, wondering why the hell I ever listened to that stupid advice about defending yourself from a bear attack.

             Frankly, I’ve lived in Chicago my entire life and the very possibility of being attacked by a bear is next to ludicrous. So why in the world would I need to follow such terrible bear survival advice? I suppose it was only representative of the horrors in my life; the metaphorical bears created by childhood fears. I’m aware of these fears, I’m aware of the potential that exists to escape these fears. But I’m trapped in the deadfall, while the very blood lusting bear-fears growl and swipe at the edges above me, keeping me trapped.

             The bears have been keeping me from success, writing, love, adventure, and living with purpose. I’m tired of being dead and shitty. I hope I can find a new and better survival guide to get me out of this, otherwise, these bears will be the real death of me and my childhood fears will triumph.