One of the most widely spread bits of advice to writers is to write. Write something every day. Pen to paper, fingers to keys, it matters not. Just write something.
I would like to officially call bullshit on that.
One of the most widely spread bits of advice to writers is to write. Write something every day. Pen to paper, fingers to keys, it matters not. Just write something.
I would like to officially call bullshit on that.
Two years gone by and what have I to show for it?
I have nothing new to bring you. I still write for almost all the same websites I did before my hiatus from here. I am still married to the same woman (which in itself is cause for celebration; fuck the naysayers, because they don’t mean a thing). We’ve been through hell the last couple years. We’ve also found some pockets of joy in that hell, like a man who escapes drowning by finding some air in his capsized canoe.
It’s hard to remember all at one time. I don’t foresee sitting down with a pipe in my mouth, like Hal Holbrook playing Mark Twain, and pounding the last two years into one post. “Ah remembuh, was back in the summah of Twenty-Aught-Eleven… .”
Please. I’m no oral historian. It’s amazing I can remember what I ate today. Eggs and grits, for the curious.
So I’m afraid we’re going to have to adopt one of the gimmicks used so frequently on the Island: the Flashback. When I remember something worth noting, I’ll note it as such, either in the title or within the post itself.
How we got from there to here is certainly an interesting story, but one I can only tell in chunks, small blocks of non-sequential memories. A lot of it hurt, and my brain has tried to get rid of it the way you throw up a bad ball-park hot dog. It will all come back, though, and it will all come forward.
Bear with me.
I’m making a point.
EXTREME CLOSE-UP: A human eye, opening suddenly. The camera pulls back to reveal X, lying down on the ground.
What happened? Am I… am I back… on the Island? Oh gods, no! I can’t take the… where the hell am I?
CUT: A bare foot kicks X in the ribs. A female voice speaks. It is his wife, COOTIE.
Get up, doofus. Help me unpack.
CUT: X, still sleepy, gets up and staggers about the room.
So this is… are we… home?
CUT: Cootie, who smiles and takes a sip of sangria.
Darlin’, home is wherever you are. But if you’re talking about the new apartment, then yes, we’re home.
Are we in New Otherton?
COOTIE approaches X with a box cutter.
Stop it. Now get some boxes empty before I cut you. Ain’t nothin’ to me to cut a bitch.
CUT: X stumbles out onto the balcony, which overlooks a busy Knoxville road.
WALT! WALTER! WAAAAAAAAAAAALT!
Roll opening credits.
Oh yes, there will be spoilers. You have been warned.
Within the span of twenty-four hours, LOST fans across the world seem to have gone through all the stages of grieving, moving quickly from, “I can’t believe it!” to “You know, it’s okay. I understand it and I accept it.”
The last ten minutes of the finale of LOST completely negated the entire previous existence of the show. Why would anyone think it would be a good idea to show us all of our favorite castaways dead? And why would the writers have the stainless-steel balls to expect us to be happy about it? The cast of Gilligan’s Island didn’t all gather around the empty port of the S.S. Minnow, waiting for Gilligan to finally realize he was dead so they could all cross over.
Folks, this is the biggest Long Con in the history of modern television.
It isn’t even the fact that major questions went unresolved. I was prepared for that. I can deal with some ambiguity in my storytelling; in some cases, it is imperative. What bothers me is the feel-good, happy-crappy, go-into-the-Light Tangina bullshit we endured. This was a Universal heaven everyone entered into which is a straight giggle, when you see how the Christian faith has embraced this show is a metaphor for their own belief system.
I’m sure some of the more hardcore Christians just braced when they saw the stained glass window that encompassed the symbols of six major Faiths from around the world, allegedly symbolizing the Paths of all the LOSTies who are now dead. I noticed no pentagram on that window; apparently all the Pagans on the plane were in another room, drinking beer, fucking and watching the original Wicker Man. All this, the whole Party at the End of the World, to tell us that an entire storyline, what they called a “flash-sideways” and which had been ongoing all season, was simply the characters in the Afterlife. Desmond, everyone’s best friend, went around gathering everyone up, telling them they were dead and drawing them all together to this one place so everyone could let go and move forward.
LOST at its heart has always been an action-adventure show. A particularly well-written one, covered in a pastiche of literary, religious and pop culture references, but still an action-adventure show. Imagine if, at the end of 24, Jack Bauer and everyone who ever died by his hand or around him, all met at the United Nations Building and were told by long-dead President Palmer that they were all dead and were free to go off to their specific multi-national Heavens. There would be outrage! “Where’s my closure,” fans would cry. “Where’s that last final explosion?”
“Well,” I would say, “Jack’s finally out of time.”
It was a cheap way to end the show. It smells like having it all be a dream. What LOST told its viewers in the last ten minutes of that episode is that they don’t care what you think. The show ended. It had a fantastic ending. All that stuff in the church and the bright light that engulfed the entire place, covering everyone (including people that made no sense, such as Baby Aaron, who apparently never got to grow up at all, even though he was four years old two seasons ago) was the worst, tacked-on, non-sensical and needless ending that only made you happy if you were willing to give up your intellect and expectation from a series that set the bar pretty high and give yourself a warm fuzzy because maybe, just maybe, that’s how you want to die.
But LOST didn’t even make us face our mortality. It downplayed it. Cheapened it. Jack’s martyr death meant nothing in the face of the sticky-sweet ending scene which, in hindsight, seems less Little House on the Prairie and more the final shot of the New Year’s Eve party at the Overlook Hotel in Kubrick’s The Shining.
I am cross-posting this on all my blogs. Allow my righteous anger this time. You really get to see it so rarely.
You know, this blog still gets hits on a post I wrote last year called, “Porch Monkey 4 Life.” It’s about how the movie Clerks II totally changed my way of thinking and my life.
You can still read the post on this blog. .
But unfortunately, it seems like most people don’t want to read something inspiring or, in my opinion, well-written (for once). All y’all want the damned shirt.
You know what? I want the shirt. I deserve the shirt. Tell Mr. Smith I wear an XXXL.
But you can’t buy it here.
So… if you got here with the phrase, “porch monkey 4 life shirt,” please click this little linky.
Spring for your own duct tape.
If you want to start getting your life back, read the original post.
Then watch the movie again. Because you need it.
And there are various reasons why this is true. Some of them are personal. Some of them, oddly enough, are legal.
I will say this.
We have gone ahead and just cleared out a room for Eris. She lives here now, seemingly full time. The weirdness and the chaos have been absolutely overwhelming and bizarre. It’s amazing we were able to bear up under it.
So yeah. I know it has been a while since I posted. I just haven’t been able to. Sorry.
When things calm down, I’ll be back. That will be, hopefully, sooner than later. And the time may come when I’ll be able to talk about the Wretched Spring of 2010. When I can, I will.
Right now, I can’t.
It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It just means I need you to trust me. That’s all.
I haven’t been on Facebook. I haven’t been on my own message boards. There is a lot going on.
As I write, Cootie is taking down the Jolly Roger from the living room wall. We have bins packed. The living room is partially in bins and boxes. We are moving into our new house March 6th.
This is good. This is coming up fast. Holy shit.
The Mogwai, who has realized that switching schools again is not going to be easy, is cranky. I think behind her eyes are little breakdowns, happening at the speed of teenager, wondering if she’s going to be able to adapt to a new social environment, a new neighborhood and a new full-time sibling.
I am having nightmares about work. I am making phone calls and arrangements and keeping an ever-changing list of logistics in my head. When? Where? Who? What the fuck? I am feeling the stress of things. This is evidenced by the fact that I have cried at least once a night every night this week. Really? Please, place my ovaries in a diaper.
And out of nowhere, I hear this song. Actually, I hear a Jesse Lacey cover of the song, “Accident Prone” by Jawbreaker. I don’t ever remember hearing this song ever before but somewhere, in a very dark part of my head, I know that I am supposed to remember it. In fact, I am supposed to have a memory associated with that song. I don’t know what it is. And now the song is fucking with me.
We move in a week. Things are weird. I am dealing as well as I can.
I’ve been in far worse situations. At least it’s only nightmares and an old Jawbreaker song.
Oh, it’s been a crazy month indeed and I must say, I am very proud of us! I am proud of us because Cootie and I have done a lot of things right. For instance: we knew that we were going to have to move so we sat on our tax return, much to the local liquor store’s chagrin, so that we would have money to move. It was wise! It was smart. It was the right thing to do.
In our search for housing, we made the school zone our Number One Priority. Not only was it important to us to keep the Mogwai in a school zone where her friends would be around, but we wanted to find a district that be more to the Boy’s liking. He is not happy where he is and told us repeatedly over the last couple of months that if we could get him into a better school, he would move in with us. This is something that we all want, so we confined our searching to those areas. It was compassionate! It was parental. It was the Right Thing to Do.
And it didn’t matter. Not one little bit.
Everything within the school zone we were trying to stay inside of was either A) nasty, B) fuck-off expensive or C) both. Sure, there were plenty of apartments around. We checked them. We also checked the reviews. We found an apartment complex that seemed like it would be perfect for us until we read the stories about brown recluse spiders falling from the air vents in a tenant’s bedroom. Let me repeat that.
Brown recluse spiders. Falling. Out of the air vents. In the bedroom.
Look. I grew up watching horror movies. I’ve seen that scene before. And after being bitten by a black widow spider last year, I do not wish to live it. That is terrifying.
That was also $825 per month with a pet fee.
We tried, Me Brothers, we tried. We were willing to take a place that was almost okay, but even that wasn’t completely in the right school zone. And really, it was a workable compromise. If we hadn’t looked at The House before that.
Way out in the East part of town, The House was a thing of beauty and wonder. A three bedroom, two full bath piece of masterful 1950’s architecture, this place was everything we wanted and more. It had a walk-in pantry with an automatic light. You open the door to grab a can of peas, the light goes on. By itself. It had a deck on the same level as the top of the carport. And since it was on a hill, you could see the whole neighborhood. And I could see myself on that deck, grilling some kind of meat and staring down at my neighbours like some kind of benevolent overlord.
This doesn’t even factor in the built-in cabinetry in every room or the patio with the raised-bed gardens that already had a mature rosemary bush growing. Nor does it consider the fact that living there would put Cootie about ten minutes away from her folks and at least one of her sisters, a good thing all around. Family close by can be a good thing.
It was beautiful. What it was not was in the right school zone. We were also afraid we weren’t going to be able to pass the credit check required to attain it. But we applied for it anyway, just in case, even though we knew it was the Wrong Thing to Do. Too far away from where Mogwai wanted to be and, as I said before, keeping the kids’ needs in mind is the Right Thing to Do.
Oh, wait! Then we found out that Mogwai is failing three of her classes and about to flunk out of a fourth! Really. How does a child who stays on the computer as much as she does have an average of 37 in Tech? Unfathomable. Suddenly, staying in this school zone doesn’t seem that important. In fact, maybe a change of educational atmosphere would be a good thing. And the Boy… well, the Boy just wants away from his school.
Does The House look even better? Why, it sure does! In fact, it smells like Tabula Rasa! We move, we get a real clean start after the obligatory year-in-the-shitty-apartment that all couples are government mandated to go through after they first get together. It’s perfect.
The real question became… could we get The House? We gathered personal information on each other like Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Application filled out meticulously. Credit report obtained. Paycheck stubs copied. Everything faxed over to our potential landlord. Our potential landlord… the lawyer. That’s not daunting at all, when you’re sweating the credit check.
Turns out the guy is really nice. Business-like and efficient, but he let some of his sense of humor show through when I met him. To give him a big fat check. For our deposit and the pet fee. And to clarify that the rent at the new house would be the same as the rent we’re paying for the spore factory we’re living in now.
So, yay! We got the house!
Cootie and I sat down and made a good, solid, sound fiscal plan. To-do lists were started, planning for the actual move began and we had it all set. We were going to be able to pay our last month’s rent at the apartment and the first month’s rent at The House. We were ready to start setting up utility transfers and cable change-overs and all that good stuff that you do when you are ready to move into a new house and change your lives for the better.
Cootie and I were discussing that very thing on the way home from work the other night when the truck made this fantastic noise, almost like a painful slap. “Huh,” said Cootie. “I bet that’s not good.”
“I bet you’re right,” I said.
“Oh, look,” Cootie said, motioning toward the dashboard. “The battery light just came on and the engine temperature just shot way up.”
“Hmmm,” I said. “It may be best to find a place to pull over.”
So we did. And the tow truck driver was awfully nice. He took the truck to the nearest garage and he took us home.
The next afternoon, I called the garage to see how progress was going on repairing the truck. “We didn’t even know what it was here for,” the garage owner said.
“I left a message on your machine, ” I said.
“We were so busy this morning I didn’t even check the machine!”
So I told him what I thought was wrong with it. He told me they would try to fix it as soon as they could. “Please try to finish it today,” I said. “It is our only vehicle.”
“I hear that a lot,” he said.
An hour later. The phone rings. It’s Ron, the garage owner.
“Hey, Jeff! That belt that you thought broke was fine. We actually found it. It’s in good shape. But the reason it came off was because of the power steering has too much play in it. Keeps slinging off that belt. So you gonna need a new power steering pump.”
Open wallet, insert Eris.
Another hour goes by. The phone rings! And it’s Ron, the garage owner.
“Hey, Jeff! The reason your power steering pump went out is because your pressure hose split. Pumps just don’t go out by themselves. There’s usually a reason. I figured there’s a reason. Pump goes out for a reason. We got the hose ordered and we’ll see if we can get ‘er fixed today.”
“I knew there was a reason that pump went out because pumps don’t go out by themselves!”
“Well, gimme a call when you get it fixed.”
At this point, Eris had already gone through our bank account and was publicly masturbating with my rolled-up checkbook.
I can’t say bad things about the garage that fixed the truck. They got it done in one day. The truck handles better than it has in quite a while. Hell, Ron came to pick me up in his van at my apartment, took me to the garage where I paid for the repairs, then pulled old leaves out from under my hood while the mechanic topped off the power steering fluid. And this is the guy that owns the business!
I don’t begrudge paying the tow truck. I don’t resent paying money for the truck to get fixed. Hell, all I have had to do to it in almost ten years of ownership is put some brake pads on it and some oil in the engine. The truck has run like a teenage dream of a seventh heaven. This visit to Truck Hospital has been a rarity.
It’s just… we really needed that money for other things.
Of course, it is important that we have a safe, well-working vehicle.
But it is also important that we move out of this shithole apartment into The House, which lives in a strange place all its own, in a new school district, a new neighborhood and a new chapter in this particular story. It is the Next Step. And to be honest, I’m not sure how we’re going to get there now.
Experience has taught us that Eris runs both ways. Where her Chaos brings destruction, it sometimes leaves joy and unexpected windfalls in its wake. And sometimes, it just says, “Fuck you!” and runs off into the hills laughing.
Yeah, it’s an ambiguous ending. I can’t tell you how it ends if I don’t know.
Res ipsa loquitor.
You know what’s interesting for me? No, not you. Tell me what is interesting for you later.
An interesting thing for me is to take a look back at myself over the past year and see the changes that have occurred. The big ones, for me, weren’t even intentional. They seem to be natural by-products of the events that took place.
That doesn’t happen anymore.
I can longer edit what I say. Whatever happens to pass through my transom just comes flying out. Oh, I’ll think before I speak. But that thought process has turned into:
“I really want to say this.”
“You should totally say it.”
And then I do. Regardless of who is around. Now, I usually get loud and obnoxious when I’m drunk, but that doesn’t even matter anymore. If you could look closely into my head, you would be able to see a place where it looks like giant badgers have eaten their way through a huge slab of drywall. That empty place is where that inhibition used to be. I didn’t really have many inhibitions left anyway, so I think we’re just going to clear a majority of those that remain away, give the place a nice loft-space kind of feel.
All that P/A behavior does is one thing: it pushes the button on your own internal time bomb. You are setting yourself up for a massive implosion, which will probably happen in a very nice restaurant. I have people who hate me. I’m sure there are people who would be far, far happier were I dead. They could sleep at night, they could take my picture off the dartboard, all kinds of good things would happen for them if I were out of the picture. And that’s fine. Odds are, I hate you too. But don’t act nice when you’re around me, okay? Because I can tell. I can smell your fake bullshit. happy face from across the crowded sanctuary. I can see it through the sneeze guard at the Shoney’s salad bar.
It is doing nothing but keeping you mad and pissing me off. So do us both a favor. Either avoid me or tell me in no uncertain terms to fuck off. I am a professional fuck-offer. No big. Just so we’re clear, neither of us have to pretend anything and Jesus looks down from Heaven and smiles on our attempt at living an authentic life.
I was actually told at work today that I am like “…somebody’s grandpa, who just says and does whatever he wants because he’s old and he can, except you’re not old.” Learn from your elders, kids. Because here’s the weird thing that happens.
When you decide to just be who you are, you will find that society begins to mold itself around you, instead of you having to mold yourself around it. You can feel your soul start to grow back. It’s itchy at first, like puberty, but you get used to it. You get used to the off-side looks, the expressions of shock. You learn who your friends are. Hell, you may lose a few friends. It happens. Of course, everyone around you is going to be happier if you are doing exactly what they want you to do. Is that going to make you happy?
You should maybe think on that. You should make a decision about that maybe.
And certainly, you don’t have to do a goddamned thing I do. Most would agree you’re safer and better off not doing anything I do. Fine. I am not here to tell you what to do. That is not my job.
All I’m saying is that if you’ve known me for a while and I seem really different now, it’s because I am. I have learned a few things and actually decided to put them into practice. I think I’m a better person for it.
A ruder person, a person you probably don’t want to take to meet your Pastor at your weekly “If It Be God’s Will” dinner… face it. Most of you probably think I’m an asshole. I have tendencies towards assholishness. Who doesn’t?
But if I am an asshole (and I’m not thoroughly convinced I am), then I am an authentic one. I’ll be the asshole who didn’t lie to you. I’ll be the asshole who told you what he really thought. I’ll be the asshole who gave you the honor of being himself—a real person, not another goddamned Barbie doll replicant with the perfect everything and the same shelf life as an irradiated Twinkie– in your presence.
You all know I don’t do well with linear time, but sometimes it is the only way to get across a concept.
I am forty goddamned Earth years old.
I had a hard time dealing with that fact. I didn’t want the people at work to decorate my cubicle on my birthday. The last thing I wanted to see was black balloons and little cardboard signs telling me I was “Over the Hill.” Fuck that. They haven’t found the hill yet that I’m over. I have long been a proponent of the rock and roll lifestyle. It has worked well for me.
So… now there are a couple of issues.
I have asthma now, which is really inconvenient and, sometimes, scary. I have had coughing jags in the middle of the night that have lasted for two hours, my chest muscles pounding with the pain of the hacking, unable to stop the tears, Cootie unable to do anything but touch me, just to reassure me that I’m not alone. Those are terrifying times. I have meds now. Hopefully, those times are over.
The doctor didn’t bitch about me about my weight. I know I’m over the line. Like I said in my last blog, it has been an emotional weight-gain. I spent two years in a shitty relationship and I coped by eating and drinking. Then I got into a fantastic relationship and have been in an amazed party mode for the last year.
Let he who has ears, hear.
I am five feet, ten inches tall.
I need to lose as much as I am supposed to weigh in order to weigh what I am supposed to weigh.
Here’s the funny thing… I’ve done this before. In the past (again, using linear time), I have lost an entire person’s amount of weight.
I can do it again.
So… this month, I get to start a diet and quit smoking completely. Oh… and find another place to live (see previous entry).
I realize I do not have to do these things. I don’t have to do anything but die.
I just don’t want to die right now. Believe me, this is a refreshing change of pace over the past couple of decades. As Chuck Pahlaniuk says, “There are plenty of ways to kill yourself without dying dying.” And I have spent a long fucking time committing passive-aggressive suicide.
But this whole situation forces me to look at the larger situation.
What the fuck am I doing?
I think it is time for a lot of things to change as I begin this long slow slide into Summerland. So… many decisions have to be made.
I realize I have to move somewhere (and fuck-off fast, too). Where do I want to live? I have a family and we get to pick. We’re not powerless in this situation.
I realize I have habits to change and/or break. How am I going to do it? I have choices. I have options. What do I want to do?
I realize I have to work, but I do not know if I want to keep the job I have. “Oh, but the economy…” Yeah, I know. But people still get to pick what they do. Is it too much to ask for meaningful work? Some say, “No.” I say, “Fuck those people.”
It’s time for change. And it’s time for me to change the way I deal with change.
And it’s time for me to do the things I really want to do, and I’m reasonably sure I get to do those things my way.
And I think I’m gonna.