Skip to content

Where Do I Stand? (An Apolitical Rant)

02/03/2012

These are some of the most trying and irritating times in America. No, i’m not speaking of our economy or rising crime. It’s an election year. Meaning you can’t go anywhere on the internet without seeing a political cartoon or an abortion debate. Literally any news story or forum thread can (and does) degenerate into an overblown debate with walls of text and arguing of ideals.

You can’t argue ideals, people. They’re intangible, philosophical. It’s a waste of energy trying to control the other side. Guess what? Some of us don’t care about politics. I’ll live my life the way i’ve always lived it. And that’s awesomely.

But where do i stand? I don’t even know myself, really. I tend to lean conservative because i was raised right and that’s where the money is. I disagree with a lot of conservatives though, especially the black-and-white, callous pundits.

Here’s what i believe, somewhat.

The Government:

Look around next time you’re driving. Watch the news every now and then. People need government. Most don’t know what’s good for them. They think it’s okay to act on any little urge and impulse. They think it’s “freedom” to do so. Damn the consequences. They don’t have a basic understanding of denial-of-self. I prefer a bigger government because most people are dumb as a piece of wood and guidance is necessary. The government, though not fully trust-able, isn’t trying to poison us or enslave us. They’re not pumping toxins into our water and they’re not dropping fucking alzheimer’s-causing chemicals into the air. If anyone’s doing that, it’s the pharmaceutical companies. I’ll get to them later.

Abortion:

I think it’s disgusting. It’s not about “No man can tell ME what to do with my own body” and it’s not about preventing deaths from back-alley abortions. That’s absurd. True, since abortion’s legal, it’s your choice if you want to do something that awful to yourself. I can’t deny you that. But don’t make it about feminism because it’s not. It’s only necessary if it’s needed to save the life of the mother, which i assume is pretty rare. Even House has only tackled the issue once. And really, i can’t see it being okay for a woman to carry the baby of a rape. Just imagine having to look into the eyes of the man who raped you. I wish there was another way to take care of it but nobody’s come up with it yet.

Death Penalty:

Nope. Not me. Nobody deserves to die. Nobody. Evil should be locked away and studied. Put them in a 4’x4′ room with nothing in it and let them sit there forever and think of what they’ve done. Who gives a damn about “cruel and unusual”. Who gives a damn how much it costs us. The cost of perpetuating evil supersedes it. Make them smash big rocks into smaller rocks. Don’t kill them. There’s no real way to justify murder. Sure, i like to write violent and mean crime stories but it’s fiction. Nobody deserves to die.

Gun Control:

I agree we need some measure of gun control. There’s a lot of crazies out there. But you can’t take guns out of people’s hands because then only criminals will have them. Guns exist. In an ideal *cough*bullshit*coughcough* world, maybe people shouldn’t have guns. But they’re here. There’s millions of them all over the world. There’s no getting rid of them. There are some bad, fucked up people in the world. I know i said nobody deserves to die but if you come near me or my family and my life is in danger? You sir, at least deserve a new hole or two. Besides, guns are cool as shit. Have you seen someone shoot a Fitty Cal? In person? Don’t tell me that’s not cool as shit.

War:

It’s been around since the beginning of time. War. The military is necessary. You can’t stop war. I agree our reasons for entering another country should be more closely scrutinized. But really, what do we know? We don’t know why they’re really going over there. I bet the soldiers don’t even know. Regular people like you and i aren’t qualified to know these things. We don’t know what threats there really are. The government can’t tell us because the dumb among us would freak out. And shut up about a one-world government. It doesn’t mean the Antichrist will immediately rise up and enslave us.

See? Writing this is boring the crap out of me. Politics are dreadful. I’m not done though.

Immigration:

Don’t really care. Their food is amazing. They’re nice people. I wouldn’t have had most of my girlfriends if it wasn’t for immigration. I know some of the illegal folks are a problem but most of them aren’t a problem. They’re actually helping keep prices low, you fools. The only problem is telling the pilgrims apart from cartel guys. And why are people only concerned with Mexican folks? Is it because they’re our closest neighbors? I love Mexicans. Their women are great, their food is amazing, their culture is rich and old. It sucks the cartels are causing us such problems because i like foreign people.

Welfare:

This is needed. People abuse it sure. But people abuse wives and kids too. Maybe we should get rid of them too, huh? I grew up dirt poor and i’m not sure how we would have managed without welfare. We are an overabundant, rich nation. We owe it to those lesser than us. Have a heart. And yes, drug test them.

Drugs:

Don’t legalize them. What are you, stupid? Yes, weed is pretty tame but it still fucks people’s brains up. They’ll have a wrecked life and they just can’t figure out why but there they are every morning sucking on a bong. People don’t think clearly when they stay high. I’m speaking from experience here. You have prescription pills. Those are more binding to the nation than meth, coke, and heroin combined. Take some of those instead if reality is really that hard for you.

Gay:

I think it’s a gross and unnatural lifestyle and it’s not at all biological. That’s insulting to humanity. However, these are people just like the rest of us and they struggle like the rest of us. Why do you care if they get married? Marriage is a big, outdated joke anyway, stop defending it. I have lots of gay friends and they’re awesome and nothing like the gays on TV. Men aren’t supposed to act that way, really. Stop.

What else do those idiots argue about? Is that everything?

Religion? Churches shouldn’t be taxed. They provide tons for their communities. Stop being mean and petty. People never report that stuff.

Westboro Baptist? I believe in God. Deeply. And i’m pretty sure he never gave any of us the right to criticize or judge how other people live their lives. Burn it down for all i care.

Global Warming? Yes we have a responsibility to take care of things but look how big and unpredictable the earth is. We’re not the ones in charge, not by a long shot.

Airport body scanners? The TSA folks are not all perverts, you paranoid fucks. They’re actually very helpful and polite. This goes hand-in-hand with ‘War’ above. You don’t know what threats we really face right now. Sit down. Besides, those scanners are cool as shit. It’s like finally being in the future.

Red light cameras? Don’t run red lights, asshole.

Redistribution of wealth? Shut the fuck up and move to China, asshole.

So what am i? Neo-Con? Libertarian? Tea-Partier? Moderate? Independent? Any other numb-nuts label they came up with? Some of us don’t care about politics, remember. Voting is useless unless you’re voting on local officials and laws. Didn’t the 2000 election teach you anything. It’s not about who you want to be our leader. It’s about who THEY want.

Please don’t argue any of these points with me. I won’t bother. I’d rather argue about who’d win in a fight, Batman or James Bond or something. The answer is Batman.

Deadpan Delivery (aka I Love Aubrey)

02/01/2012

Can i just say how much i’ve fallen for Aubrey Plaza? There, i did. I’d only seen an episode or two of Parks and Recreation before, although now i watch it all the time. Mostly because of Aubrey but also because it’s pretty damn funny. Just look at her for a second. Or a minute, i’ll wait…

I’m not jumping on a bandwagon here, promise. I’ve had a thing for her for quite some time. Long before that Warcraft commercial that made her super popular (Look at those legs when she’s on the couch). I love deadpan delivery, especially when it comes from a sad, quirky, brown haired, brown eyed girl. That’s my type, you see. I don’t like blondes so much. They have too much fun.

I don’t really remember her in Funny People because i only saw it once and i felt like it was too long and it didn’t know when to end. The part with Eminem yelling at Ray Romano was hilarious though. But i’m sure she stole the scenes she was in. Here, let’s look at another picture.

Don't give me that look.

I love the black eye liner and i have to tell you something else. My favorite thing right now is black nail polish. Especially if she’s not wearing anything else that’s black. It hints at a darkness and a sadness that any normal guy would find attractive. And not because i have a savior-complex or it’s easy to take advantage of sad girls. Because it’s not, trust me. Also, i got past that savior-complex thing a long time ago. And i didn’t even have to pay a therapist! Sad girls are not easy. That’s part of why i like them so much, because it’s a challenge. That and they usually say the most interesting things like “I want to eat your brains. And i will!”. <–True story.

Back to Aubrey. Her delivery is what i admire most. She doesn’t care what’s going on around her and she doesn’t smile or laugh at her own jokes. I’ve been working on my deadpan delivery. It’s not easy because my jokes are so funny, you know. They even make me laugh and most people can’t do that. People have always told me to “be more enthusiastic” and i used to be all “Oh shit, i better be more enthusiastic then!” but now i don’t really care. Why pretend, you know? Then you’ll just end up running around like a fucking oblivious dork everyone sniggers about when you’re not around. Everyone needs at least a small degree of self-hatred. It’s healthy.

Anyway, Aubrey Plaza is the crown princess of deadpan. She doesn’t get a lot of screen time in P&R but it’s fine. It makes her appearances that much more memorable. Look at this music video she’s in:

http://music-mix.ew.com/2012/01/31/aubrey-plaza-j-tillman-father-john-misty-hollywood-video/

The range. The emotional depth. The eating of flowers. Even the bloody face is attractive on her. She does crazy well.

Look, i went on and on about this chick. But can you blame me? Sad, quirky girls have this hidden sexuality that’s never overt or threatening. I’ve never been one for the All American Girl, i find them typical and droll. And not droll in a cute way like Aubrey.

Here, one more picture for the road:

You shouldn't smile more, dear.

Oh my.

The Best Comic Book You’ve Never Read

01/26/2012

Image

It’s too big for a movie, too real for an HBO series. Stray Bullets by David Lapham. When i was just a young lad at the tender young age of 15 or so, i was a comic book nerd. Yeah, that’s right, 10 years before it was cool to like geeky stuff. I was geeky stuff. However, i had loving parents who loved to shelter me. I had to be careful what comic books i brought into the house. Not to mention, i was too young to drive and there was nary a comic book store nearby. Reading something like Stray Bullets would not be tolerated. I’d have to hide them under my mattress like a porno and that would depreciate the value.

I wanted to read Stray Bullets so badly. Preacher too. It wasn’t until i was an adult that i went on a quest to track down all the shit i didn’t get to see when i was a teenager. This is how i finally read Stray Bullets, the single best crime comic ever written. In fact, it’s one of the best American stories ever written. It’s right up there.

The story starts off simply enough. It’s the modern day (most of the series takes place in the 80s) and Joey and Frank are disposing of a body. We’re never really told who the body is, and in true Stray Bullets fashion, things go from shitty to fucked-off in no time. By the end of the issue, everything looks like this:

Image

It's Susan Smith all over again!

Yes, like any great 90s indie comic, Stray Bullets is in glorious B&W. You know what? It wouldn’t have worked in color.

Issue 2 starts 20 years earlier, with Joey as a child somewhere in the background. We’re at a Star Wars showing with two obviously bad guys who murder a back stabber in an alley. Then one of the murderers himself gets offed. Typical Jersey night, right? Except little 7 year old Virginia was peering around the corner and saw the whole thing. Something happens inside her and just like Joey in issue 1, things get fucked off.

Image

The signature cover.

Virginia (aka Ginny) freaks out in school and stabs a boy. Then she gets in a fight in the woods on Halloween and ends up left for dead. Ginny becomes the muse of Stray Bullets, the driving force. Nearly every plotline (and there are TONS of plotlines) involves little Ginny somehow. David Lapham is a master storyteller in that regard.

Stray Bullets is an epic tale, spanning a decade or so and damn, if it’s not uber-realistic. Anyone who grew up even remotely poor will recognize these people. It’s a big big cast of people caught up in shit lives amongst awful and hidden criminals, the mysterious Harry pulling the strings somewhere.

There are just a few major story arcs and myriad subplots that all add up into this brilliant piece of American literature, Pulp Fiction style. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen on the big screen, like nothing you’ve ever read.

There’s drugs, sex, murder, pedophilia, spaceships (you’ll see), infidelity, theft, a magical cow, more drugs, more murder. It’s 40 issues of gut-wrenchingly real people and situations. Even space cadet Amy Racecar is explained beautifully. Not one character in underdeveloped, no matter how reprehensible they seem on the surface. Even the enigmatic hitman Monster is sympathetic. Barely a word is uttered by him until he won’t help someone unless she marries him.

It’s a heartbreaking practice in a kind of noir not seen many places. It’s at points poignant and terrifying and funny and incredibly sad and manic. It was left on hiatus way back in 2005 and there are no current plans to continue the cliffhanger. Lapham has since moved onto things like Deadpool for Marvel or his own Young Liars for Vertigo. Both are brilliant in their own way but neither comes close to Stray Bullets. Lapham will return to his baby someday, i’m sure. Even one issue would be enough to finish the whole series, Lapham is that good. Pleeeeeeeease.

So where can you find this modern crime masterpiece? It’s not so easy, no. Most issues are out of print, although if you had enough gusto, you could probably track them down on Ebay or Amazon but they’re pricey. How did i read all 40 issues and the Amy Racecar specials? Well i definitely didn’t download either a program called Comical or a program called CD Display and then download the entire series via a torrent program. That would be illegal and i’m not savvy enough to do that kind of thing, you know? I’m no criminal. SOPA for life!!

The Key to Writing Women (If You’re a Man)

01/24/2012

Get Rid Of Slimy girlS

It seems daunting, i know. To be a man and write from the perspective of a woman. But i can help. I, too, was afraid of writing a woman. Sure, there were some girls in a story or two but they weren’t really at the forefront. I remember i did an exercise in my creative writing class where i had to write as the opposite sex and i didn’t do so well. But after the class was done, i wrote 3 stories told from the point of view of a lovely lady. I think i may have the key to writing women, which i’ll share soon because it’s a simple little tweak that will change the way you write women.

So many of my peers do it wrong. They look at women from an outside perspective. They write women how they see them. The problem here is that many writers (especially the males) are the heartbroken type. They have what we call in the industry “issues”. They’ve had bad relationships and it’s given them an insidious, underlying misogyny.

It’s a little bit alarming and it’s everywhere, not just in writing. Men are so misguided when it comes to women and instead of dealing with their issues (like i did), men would rather just put it off onto women. It’s easier to just shift the blame onto someone else than to work through it yourself. Look, if you’ve had tons of shitty relationships and you hate women because of it, guess what? It’s time to look at yourself instead. Take some responsibility, you chose that “crazy ex-girlfriend”, you’re just as much to blame for the shitty relationship as she is. I don’t have any crazy exes and all of my relationships, though ended, were interesting and sublime to be in.

“But what about the key to Writing Women you spoke of earlier?”

Shutup, it’s coming. I’m not done preaching at you yet.

I’m pretty selective when it comes to women and it works. One girlfriend worked for Geek Squad and modeled on the side and she was absolutely beautiful. One was in a naval brig for 6 months. One taught Tae Kwon Do. One was a 6 foot tall escort. One could probably quote the movie Clerks word-for-word. Are you getting my point here? Choose wisely. I love and miss all of my exes.

If you think all girls are annoying, stop picking annoying girls. If you think all girls are bitches, stop picking mean girls with no redeeming qualities. If you think all girls are dumb, fuckin’ a, stop picking dumb girls. You should come at girls purely and with no judgments or projections because you’ll just end up sabotaging the whole thing and proving yourself “right” about your judgments.

I’m digressing more than i wanted to, sorry. But it’s relevant, i promise. Your view on women will drive how you write them.

Back to the misogyny in male writing. Most don’t even realize they’re doing it. But they’re projecting their hated ex onto the redhead in their story. She’s tied to a chair for a vague and underdeveloped revenge. The guy in the story punches her in the face over and over until teeth fall out and her face collapses. Pretty disgusting, i think. That’s an actual example, by the way. It’s one of the stories that inspired me to write this.

The only girls in my peers’ (i hate calling them that, actually) stories are strippers or teenage prostitutes or unrepentant bitches deserving of awful revenge. It’s immature and your work won’t be remembered for it. Find another way to get over an ex. Therapy works, there’s no shame in that. Or just do what i do and drink her away. It’s worked for me so far.

“So? The key?”

HA. Still not there yet, rude person. Keep reading. Always wanting more, aren’t you…

Although i thought The Average American Male was well written and funny, it suffered from a hidden misogyny. Unfortunately, it’s a wholly accurate example of the modern average American Male. And thank God i’m not average. The Delivery Man is another example. The women in that book are ruthless career women or tossed-aside conniving prostitutes.

Look instead at James Ellroy or really any good noir writer. You can’t have noir without a badass chick in it. I love Ellroy’s work. It has such a macho, brutal edge to it. But the women in his stories are brilliantly done. The women support the men and the men (secretly) rely on the women. Such is life. Or life amongst the more intelligent folk.

You’ll have to change your negative, shitty view of women if you want to write them effectively. I think women are wonderful, interesting creatures. They’re not a total mystery to me like that idiot Stephen Hawking. He hasn’t been with a woman in like 30 years, what does he know anyway?

It’s an energy, an unspoken knowledge between me and women. A secret garden, if you will. It’s not about getting laid or having affairs. It’s simply a connection. It’s shared experiences. I have this connection with married women, foreign women, ex girlfriends, girls i’ve never even spoken to. It’s a deeper understanding of things. Anyone can find it if they just looked for it. In fact, i’ll give you some resources when i’m done, which is soon.

All that said (and i’m sure i’m forgetting stuff i wanted to impart), what’s the key? I promised it’s very simple and it is. It works for me, i love the stories i wrote from the perspective of women. They always want more. That’s it, that’s the key. No matter how happy they are, how content they are, they always desire a little bit more. It’s a passion, a longing that most men lack.

Women always want a little more.

99 Problems...

If you can convey that one little point somehow in writing your women, it’ll work. It has worked. The other stuff should fall into place. It did for me. Now i love writing women, it’s a blast.

Think of it this way: You have this cool character, maybe he’s an assassin or a former secret agent or even just a badass bank robber. He uses knives, knows some shady people. He has a badass convertible he drives sometimes but most of the time he rides his badass motorcycle.

Now just imagine this character is a woman instead. See how much cooler that is?

Some resources, you misguided, misogynist asshole:

The Game by Neil Strauss
http://www.amazon.com/Game-Penetrating-Secret-Society-Artists/dp/0060554738/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1327434052&sr=8-3

Zan Perrion
http://www.zanperrion.com/

The Red Queen by Matt Ridley
http://www.amazon.com/Red-Queen-Evolution-Human-Nature/dp/0060556579/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327434135&sr=8-1

James Ellroy
http://www.amazon.com/James-Ellroy/e/B000AQ50RC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1327434179&sr=1-1

Everyone Needs a Muse

12/29/2011

There  it is. I’m officially enrolled in Creative Writing and Publishing as well as Post-Civil War American Lit. I don’t like Brit Lit and Colonial Lit sounds like a total bore as well. I hate Shakespeare and i don’t know much about Dante. World Lit is probably a mess because most translated works i’ve read were bogged down with details and did not translate well. I’m looking at you, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

What’s that? TWO English classes in one semester?? And both are on separate days but in the same classroom?? I know what you’re thinking and yes, i will be leaving random objects in the classroom on Mondays to see if they’re still there on Thursdays. Or maybe i’m insidiously ingratiating and integrating myself into Montgomery College’s  prestigious English department. No not that. The first thing though, yes. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Perhaps you’re wondering how i will write all those papers. Because English classes correlate with writing papers. Well, genius, if you’ll let me finish. Christ i hate typing sometimes. The creative writing class only requires that i turn in 3 stories before the end of semester and i have more than twice that to turn in, maybe even thrice that. I’m not going to write any new stories either because i’m not doing stories right now, i’m working on the novel. It’s hovering at around 8,000 words. It’s not much but if i can do that 9 or 10 more times, i have a novel. So anyway, the English classes will be okay i think.

I’m also ready for my next week vacation to Reno. Plane ticket is purchased, window seats and all. I’m going to see someone very important to me. I don’t want to say much because she might be reading this and i don’t want her to know my true feelings just yet. But she’s really important to me and one of the biggest reasons i’m writing today. You could call her my muse, i guess. Everyone needs one of those. She’s asked me what i want to do but i don’t really care what we do. I’m mostly just excited to see her, i haven’t seen her in over 7 years. That’s a pretty long time. Anyway, i know we’re spending a day in San Francisco so i want to go to Rogue’s Brewery. Maybe throw a pissjug or two at the Oakland occupiers. Yes, that’s a Trailer Park Boys reference. If you’ve never seen Trailer Park Boys then why are you reading this?

So that’s that. Also my partner in crime at work is quitting so now i’ll be left alone with these fools. It is not good. Now i’m just trying to remember all the stuff we wanted to do when one of us quits. Maybe wreck the toilet or something? IDK IDK.

I wanted to use this line today but it never came up so i’ll just use it out of context.

What are you, as dense as the fog i drove through this morning? Shit was deep. It was zero visibility, couldn’t even see 10 feet in front of me. I was about to pull out onto the highway this morning because i couldn’t see any cars coming but i had my windows down (because i am so smart. SMRT. I mean SMART) so i heard a car coming. It was dangerous and creepy.

I’m sore this morning and hungry so i’m gonna go pretend to work now.

Pee Shy

04/01/2011

I came to a figuration over the week. Figuration is a word, it means the same thing as realization. It’s not even telling me it’s spelled wrong so that means i’m right. Anyway, i noticed a pattern in my life and with how i deal with women. I’m going to keep it vague for now because i don’t have all of the facts and it’s just a theory (are you listening, scientists?). I don’t know who the hell reads this and some of my friends would read it and not tell me they’re reading it so that’s another reason i’m being vague. But it has something to do with a cycle i put myself into with girls i’ve dated or slept with. It’s stupid and kind of petty but now that i’ve noticed it maybe it’ll change and i can find a decent girlfriend. Anyway, enough of that. Instead of telling about my whole weekend last week….end, i’m just gonna tell a funny story from it.

Me and my friend Shiloh went to this German festival in Tomball. If you don’t know what Tomball is, it’s a cowboy town. Like big time cowboy town. Not rednecks like where i live, old fashioned cowboys n shit. Anyway, we. got. drunk. The thing i noticed about Shiloh and i is that we’ve never hung out alone, it’s always been in groups. This was the first time she and i were by ourselves. We are no good for each other. She needs someone to keep her in line and that’s not me right now. I’m too much of an instigator. We’ll wreck each other if we’re not careful. Enough prefacing, SHIT.

We spent the festival talking to strangers and running around like crazy and messing with carnies and getting smashed. At one point, Shiloh had to use the restroom but we had no idea where we were or where the closest restroom was. So we walked down this dark alleyway thing and she decides to just go behind this car. I was to hold the toys we got at the festival, a teddy bear made of hundred dollar bills and a pink flamingo marionette puppet, and wait on the other side of the alley for her.

“Don’t listen to me pee,” and i wait for her to go.

But as soon as she starts (i wasn’t listening, don’t worry), a small group of people make their way down the alley. Shit. I tried to whisper to her without drawing attention to myself but she doesn’t notice. There’s no way she’ll finish in time and she’s mostly in plain view as soon as those people pass the car she’s next to. I panic and turn away from the alley and pretend to play with the pink flamingo puppet. Don’t mind me, i’m just a strange guy in an alley by himself playing with a pink puppet. Nothing strange going on here. Then i looked up as the group was passing and all of them were looking at me. I can see Shiloh next to the car behind them with a big smile on her face.

They continue on and Shiloh gets up and runs to me and tells me they were so distracted by me and the puppet, they didn’t see her being unlady-like next to the car a mere foot or two behind them. It was an accident too, i just panicked and got embarrassed, i wasn’t trying to distract the crowd from Shiloh at all. Well, maybe subconsciously i was.

It was a wild wild night and i barely survived it. We barely survived it. I don’t think Shiloh and i should hang out alone too much. We’ll end up in jail or hating each other.

From September

03/02/2011

I wrote this on a forum a few months back and it’s been one of my favorite writings ever since.

Hung out with the niece today, it was kind of a long day actually. I was supposed to grill with my brother but we went out for margaritas instead. Got shitty service until that one bartender arrived. She loves us, or maybe just me. Hopefully just me. Everyone tells me she’s just trying to get me drunk.
After that i took my niece to Plato’s Closet so she can sell some clothes. They bought everything except her shoes. But wait, i forgot. Before that, while we were in the car on the way over, hannah gets a phone call (that’s her name, hannah). All she says is “Yeah” then “Ok”. I thought it was my brother getting onto her, he’s pretty strict. Then she tells me it was her boyfriend and he dumped her. She’s distant, not too upset. At least not yet. We leave Plato’s Closet and i make a joke about finding Ed Hardy clothes elsewhere. Hannah doesn’t laugh, damnit.

We try this other place and it’s an Asian girl this time and i say “Herro” without realizing i said it. The Asian girl doesn’t seem to notice. Hannah doesn’t laugh. She has a great laugh, i need to hear it.

Then she wants to go to the used book store across the way. It doesn’t smell like old man like i thought it would and they have a decent selection. There’s a gay and a geek behind the counter and they’re talking about tv shows i don’t care about and the whole store can hear them. I find a really old James Ellroy book, a Dave Eggers book, All the Pretty Horses, and a short story collection. Hannah finds some pink book. I flip through He’s Just Not That Into You and then i hate myself for a full minute. I find hannah and tell her that i heard this old woman fart and it was pretty loud. Still no laugh. Damn these teenagers.

Nothing too interesting has happened all day, i didn’t get into any confrontations, didn’t do anything stupid. I’m worried hannah’s gonna think i’m a bore now.

We go get some smoothies but hannah can’t handle all the people so we left to this park where me and my brother and all our shithead friends used to hang out and get high at. Hannah wants to swing, she doesn’t want to go home because she’s just gonna end up crying. So we swing. Well….she swings, i mostly just drag my toes back and forth and watch the skater kids not skate.

“How do you deal with breakups?”

“I drink myself stupid.”

“Ok but what about after that?”

“I dunno, i just think about it a lot. Wait it out.”

“Breakups are always so bad.”

“Yeah i don’t like relationships because i know i’ll have to break up eventually.”

“People breakup and get back together all the time, right?”

“Sure. I still talk to this one girl and we broke up like 5 years ago. We’re really close.”

She seemed to accept that. Thank god, no crying. I’m bad at emotions. Except laughing, i’m good at that. Then we left to go home finally. But my brother wants a smoothie so i go to another smoothie place. It’s right by the margarita place, maybe the bartender will see me trying to cheer up my heartbroken niece. I told hannah how i was talking to my friend the other day who told me she’s been stealing stuff, like a lot of stuff. And she’s 26. That’s our thing, hannah and i. We tell each other stuff we don’t want anyone else to know. It’s an interesting bond. She tells me about stuff before she tells her mom sometimes. She’s 16 and she’s probably partied harder in her day than any of my friends.

On the ride home i told her to find someone she can actually see and that long distance relationships suck. Then we got on another subject and i reminded her of how when my brother first met her mom, there was this curse or something that caused everyone to fall down the stairs at least once. She asked me if i ever fell and i said yes. That dumb dog she used to have peed right at the top of the steps and i slipped on it and slid down the stairs on my back and i was sore for 2 weeks. Then there it was, the laugh. It’s a loud laugh, it almost hurts my ears. Maybe she was just really upset but she laughed the whole ride home from that one story about the time i slid down the stairs on a dog’s pee. You have to hear her laugh, i can’t really describe it. She makes a great audience, sometimes it’s embarrassing.

Anyway, it was a nice change from all the emotional bullshit i’ve been putting myself through lately and all the partying. That gets old sometimes. Hearing hannah laugh though, that never really gets old.

How to Talk to Your Hero (Just Ask)

02/08/2011

I saw an interview with Cameron Johnson a while back. This is a guy who made his first million before he graduated high school and at age 15 was appointed to the board of a company in Tokyo. He did things like sell Beanie Babies for a profit and he was also one of the pioneers of selling gift cards at a discount. Anyway, the interview. He won the reality show Oprah’s Big Give. I don’t generally watch reality TV and I definitely don’t watch Oprah but from what I can tell, it was a show where people run around with money and help people and charities the best way they can. How Johnson won was he managed to get the Blue Man Group to play a charity at this school and to donate $10,000 to the school. Do you know how he did that? He asked. That’s it, he just asked the Blue Man Group.

That philosophy of “just ask” stuck with me.

In September of 2009, James Ellroy was about to release a new book, thus finishing a trilogy he started in the late 90s. I’d been waiting for this book for about 8 years; James Ellroy is my favorite writer by a long degree. His books were so dense and frenetic and violent. He was a writer’s writer. I wanted this book.

I started looking online for any book tour he might do for Blood’s a Rover, I wanted to meet the guy and get some books signed. While looking, I came across a website that said “James Ellroy is now giving interviews and advance copies of the new book for review” and then it listed his publicist’s email address and phone number. Ok. “Just Ask”.

I emailed the publicist (from my work email because it had the company signature and it looked all cool and official) and I told her I’d like to interview James Ellroy for ChuckPalahniuk.net and I’d like a copy of Blood’s a Rover for review. I figured if I can’t interview the guy, I’d at least get his new book for free. Keep in mind, I hadn’t even asked the webmaster at ChuckPalahniuk.net if I can interview someone for the site yet. I’m not employed at the site, I was just a member on the forums. I could be screwing myself.

Ten minutes later, James Ellroy’s publicist emailed me back and said sure he’d love to do an interview and when would I like to interview him?

Really. It worked. “Just Ask” worked. I must have stared at my computer screen for an hour. It didn’t feel real. I even told her in my reply that I could interview him via IM but apparently James Ellroy isn’t very computer literate so in 4 days I’d be calling James Ellroy in LA. I OKed it with ChuckPalahniuk.net (whew!) and wrote down tons of notes and potential questions.

I knew I had to record this interview so I internet-researched voice recorders and cell phone recorders and I drove around to 3 or 4 Best Buys before finally stopping at Radio Shack and finding everything I needed for this ridiculous interview I still couldn’t believe I’d nailed.

Two days after the initial email, I received a very nice hardcover copy of Blood’s a Rover, even though I wasn’t going to review it because there was already a review for it up on the website. I just knew how easy it was to get an advanced copy because I’ve received them so easily before. Just Ask.

I took the day off work even though the interview only took about 20 minutes. With my heart in my throat I called James Ellroy and he answers “Hi, James Ellroy, who’s this?” and I instantly recognized his voice. It was incredibly difficult not to act like a dumb fan. I wanted to sit and BS with the God of American Crime, the Demon Dog himself but I kept it professional. If he didn’t give me an answer I liked, I rephrased it and I made him answer. I had to pull out tricks I’d learned from all that self-help stuff I used to read.

The whole time I’m on the phone, I’m expecting him to get mad and end the interview but it never happened. In fact, the whole week before the interview, I expected his publicist to email me and tell me it was cancelled. Besides, who was I anyway? Just some scrub out of his league or something. Anyway, if Ellroy didn’t like a question, he told me he’s not going to answer it. That simple.

I was scribbling on my notes the whole time and my voice was shaky and quiet the whole time but i pulled it off. I told him I’d email him when the interview went live and he said “Please do” and we hung up. I’d just sat on the phone with my hero for 20 minutes. And all I did was ask.

Where does that leave me now? Well, sometime this year the interview will be published in a collection of James Ellroy interviews. I did back flips when i received that email. I went on to interview Garth Ennis (of Preacher and Punisher fame) and now ChuckPalahniuk.net has been pulling interviews from some pretty big names since mine. I like to think I opened the door and set the standard for it.

Just Ask.

http://chuckpalahniuk.net/interviews/authors/james-ellroy

Dog Days Are Over

01/10/2011

Second verse, same as the first. Last weekend was like the weekend before. Party time then family time then recovery time. Add a bunch of driving to it and there you go, that was my new year.

The words are floating around in my cortex again, angry i haven’t let them escape. I can see them, they’re white and 3d and they float like a Windows screensaver. They drift by like a marquee. I hate them sometimes those words. They carry a lot of pressure; a lot is at stake with those words. And they’re always there, always.

I managed to leave work early on Thursday so i can get to Dallas before nightfall. It’s a stop at Walmart for some motor oil and bug juice and hair-color and then i can get out of town and get away from these burdens, they’ve become too heavy again.

Outside of Walmart, i pop the hood to insert the juices and oils and this old lady is waiting for me to pull out of my stop. Too bad, Ethel, i have business to attend to. When i open the hood, she pulls off and i avoid eye contact because get over it, i’m not even parked close to the door. I dump in the oil and the engine stinks a little because i really need an oil change but i’m bad at doing that. Then it’s the bug juice and as i’m dumping it in i remember my trip to Colorado not too long ago. Only one of the hoses works, the one on the left side of the windshield. That and the bug juice leaks, it’ll be gone probably before i get to Dallas. I decide to put in the other half gallon of it in too, just in case. I go to the trunk to get it but the old lady in her gold Lexus is back, waiting for the spot again. Well shit, she can have it. I toss the empty bug juice jug into the trunk and shove it shut.

I pull out and i’m off to Dallas and there’s a small line of cars behind the gold Lexus, including the little Walmart security car with its lights swirling. Whatever, i should have stayed longer. I should have lint-brushed my car before i left or littered the parking lot with empty cans and fast food bags first.

I have some McDonalds to eat, a chicken sandwich. I had a horribly obese craving for a burger but the grill wasn’t working so it was only fried stuff available. “Ew” i said to the nice Mexican lady when she told me. I felt bad she had to repeat saying that all day probably.

I’m tailgated all the way to Dallas, 6 or 7 times total. I’m going 80 the entire time but one after the other, there’s a car right on my bumper. Do they not see the mile or so of cars and 18-wheelers in front of me?? Entire lines of cars slow down and so do i but for some reason, any car that’s behind me doesn’t think they have to slow down. Over and over again i’m dealing with this but i’m not pulling into the right lane because then it’s back and forth between it and the left lane so i might as well stay in the left lane. Fuck. What’s the need to go fast all the time? Is your life that boring that your only thrill is driving 30 over the speed limit and anyone who’s not driving 30 over is an asshole?

I’m hungry and i have to piss when i get to Will’s and the fuel light came on as soon as i got there and i need to shower so i can put this color in my hair and get rid of the grays. Luckily, Will is cleaning house so i can slip past him with my dye and take a shower. There’s a heady pint of beer on the table in the living room but i’m in a hurry.

It’s bitter cold in Dallas, much colder than Houston. Will says he’ll drive to Two Rows for a pint and some food, which usually turns into 5 pints and some food and maybe a shot or two. This is good because my car’s dirty and the fuel light came on and i don’t feel like stopping for gas anyway. At the bar, before we sit down there’s a beer in front of Will, they know him that well. I order myself a red pint and it’s cold in the bar because people keep walking in and out. The only females in the bar are the bartenders and waitresses, just like everywhere i go. I feel like girls are in this hive and lately the hive has decided to not go out anymore because guys are dumb and they just want to get laid and ruin everything.

DJ and Jaime are joining us and there’s a blonde Will knows sitting a few seats down surrounded by weird old men. There’s two seats between her and Will so we put together a maneuver to get Will across those two seats by getting up and moving around when DJ and Jaime arrive. It works flawlessly but the blonde gets up and leaves seconds later. We eat some great nachos with fresh jalapenos on them and order shots of silver Tequila but she pours the house stuff instead. Will is too drunk to drive and the bartender hands him the wrong ticket and he signs it and walks away so she tells me she gave him the wrong receipt and i tell her just to split the tab in half. She asks if it’s the same tip i gave and i say yes and leave so Will tipped her $8 just like me and she made $16 on a $60 tab. He probably doesn’t tip her enough anyway.

The next day Will doesn’t remember falling on his face in the kitchen or that DJ drove his car home and Jaime drove us home. I slept on the bed in the guest room instead of the couch and i woke up confused and i didn’t know where i was and i was full of anxiety like apocalypse had started and i wasn’t ready, i was sleeping off a hangover. I move to the couch and it’s New Year’s Eve and we remember it’s time to watch the season finale of Peep Show so we load it on the internet.

But we want bloody marys. The only problem is there’s no Clamato and we have to go to the store to get it. This will be difficult but we manage it well. Two bottles of Clamato and some organic celery (cheaper than the regular stuff). These will be amazing marys.

I don’t want to get wasted, i’m not ready and i’m sick as shit from last night. Just a mary or two and i’ll be fine. Except it turned into 3 or 4 of them and i’m not sick anymore and we’re both hungry so we order Pizza Hut because i want stuffed crust and for some reason Pizza Hut is the only place to get it even though it’s been around for like 20 years.

Are you still reading? Is this interesting? My little exploits? The weekend’s not even over yet, we still have New Years to celebrate.

——————————-

We’re meeting DJ and Jaime again, it’s a house party this year. I don’t want to be in a bar spending all my money and getting in trouble. Besides, my ID’s expired and i don’t feel like convincing door guys to let me in. We’re going to a place called Blue Mesa even though my stomach is wrecked and i ate all that pizza earlier. I just want to party is all.

It’s a super-nice place and there’s a bunch of people at the table, apparently it’s Jaime’s cousin’s birthday too. The girls at the table are cute, the guys are dorks. Kind of. One of them was funny. I spend my time getting out of my own head and not being arrogant and judgmental so i can actually talk and not sit there and stew like i always do.

I love the way these girls talk, especially this one with the curly hair and the mark by her lip. She talks like she’s from the streets and she’ll kick anyone’s ass but she’s dressed like she’s going to a ball. Her friend has this bountiful cleavage and people keep moving around the table so i ended up sitting right across from her and it was like Seinfeld said; it’s like an eclipse. Look once and look away, don’t stare.

I don’t order a drink because i’m sick and i don’t feel like the waiter seeing my expired ID because i don’t think i can convince him to serve me in my condition and i’d rather avoid the social embarrassment it might cause. I don’t even know if i can eat but people tell me the place’s tortilla soup is good so i look at it on the menu and it does look good so that’s what i ordered. The waiter sucks and i’m downing water after water, including Jaime’s glass that i’ve commandeered.

When i turn to listen to the dudes talk, it’s boring stuff. Computers, video games, racing cars. I turn instead back to the females and it’s hilarious tales of falling in the mud in a nice dress or drunken shopping and i’m much more entertained by them than the dudes. Dudes are boring. The tortilla soup evens out my stomach finally.

The crowd makes one more stop at another bar and the door guy doesn’t notice my expiration date and it’s a cool bar with a cool DJ who plays movie clips and then a song related to the scene. Then we leave and get beer and head to the house party.

At the party there’s girls in dresses sitting around a table playing drinking games and people in the backyard around a fire pit and i’m introduced to several people i don’t remember. It’s less than an hour until the ball drops and i wonder if i’ll kiss anyone this year but i doubt it because the only girl i know so far is DJ’s wife. It’s a pretty typical party, people get in fights or get kicked out and girls fall into walls or puke by the back fence. Some woman and i make fun of some girl who nobody really knows because she’s back there puking and barely alive. I tell Will i found him a girlfriend and the woman laughs and says he might have to wipe her off first and i say nah. Then we’re in the back yard later and this girl Brianna with amazing legs tells DJ to go get her friend (the curly haired street-talker) because Brianna doesn’t like the guy she’s talking to. DJ complies and as he’s bringing her out, the guy she was talking to gets mad and tries to stop him. They’re an inch from each other and the other guy didn’t know how close i was watching the situation and if he made a shift in the wrong direction, i was ready to destroy his night. Finally DJ takes care of the street-talker and i calm down. Some Jewish wanna be Seth Rogens get kicked out for packing a bowl in the hostess’s room, then she goes out back and smokes a bowl herself. We’ve had enough, it’s time to go.

We sleep at DJ’s until the morning time then head back to Will’s and sleep some more. David’s back from vacation and he brought a bunch of shot glasses because i’m collecting them, one from each state. I thank him and sleep for a few hours, then get up and watch Netflix for a few hours, then watch Knight and Day, which wasn’t actually a bad movie. We watch a documentary about Skid Row and i go to sleep again, not leaving the house that day.

The next morning i wake up late and shower and leave to my sister’s house. It’s not far and when i get there i immediately play Halo: Reach with my nephews and i only win once. Then 2 of them leave so i decide to play with the twins instead. They’re still giving me dirty looks but the boy twins warms up to me when i create a game of flinging water on him from an empty bottle and the girl twin warms up when i sit on the couch with her and hand her a toy she can’t reach and take the socks she was carrying in exchange. They’re stomping around the house with Juiceboxes in hand and i chase them back and forth and they laugh and crash into walls and then it’s time to go, which is always sad. I hug the twins and Matthew the millennium baby (he’s 11 now) and head off to my car but my sister runs out with Jacob the boy twin and his head is bouncing around like he’s a doll and he’s laughing and he wanted to say goodbye because i guess he didn’t know i was leaving.

Then it’s back to Houston and this blog is too long so i’ll just say that 2010 was the best, hardest year of my life. I had so many breakthroughs and dreams come true and all i want to do in 2011 is top 2010, build on the foundation i’ve established and it’s already looking good so far. I don’t really have any specific resolutions, i’m constantly resolving anyway. I always feel the need to improve on things. I don’t care how happy and pure i am, there’s always a need to learn more and push it farther. I have a drive now, which is something i’ve lacked for a long time.

Young Liars (My Christmas Story)

12/27/2010

This will be long but if you make it to the end you can see a picture of my adorable niece. DON’T SCROLL DOWN CHEATER.

I’m back at work and and i’d rather be anywhere else. Four days off wasn’t near enough because they’re all back. All these desperate weirdos shuffling around, glad to be back at work. I want to be back in my dark, warm room with the door shut and the fan humming back and forth across me. Instead, here i am writing this, subtly looking over my shoulder making sure nobody’s reading over it. I really should go get the machines in order. Start getting more samples ready for analysis. Answer an email or two.

I wasn’t supposed to go anywhere over the weekend. I was gonna shut myself in and only leave in case of a dire emergency like no more beer or someone cuts the tip of their finger off and they can’t drive them self to the hospital or dial 911.

But ten minutes after i was home from work on Thursday, my mom asked me to go to Sam Moon with her. It’s right next to Plato’s Closet and maybe i can get my mom to buy a couple shirts for me for Christmas. I’m not in the mood to drive but somehow i ended up doing it anyway.

Who cares? Who cares about my mundane holiday weekend? It’s just a bunch of shit that happened and i’m gonna try and make it interesting with my words. But really, not a lot happened. Sam Moon was full of women wandering around and only one pretty girl with a great butt who i hope was following me around.

Jeremy is working. He’s  barely been at work for 30 minutes and i can hear him clinking around with beakers, silently hating himself and liberals. This is a guy who brags about being boring. He slides out his chair finally and sits down. I don’t acknowledge him because if i do, then i have to talk to him and that’s kind of like a special sort of torture at 730 am.

Then that night Keely invites me to Molly’s Pub and that’s not something you say ‘no’ to. Her friends are crazy and pretty and they look like these typical white girls until they open their mouths and speak and suddenly i kind of forget i’m there with Keely, even though she’s the prettiest, most interesting one out of the bunch. Her friends take up half the bar and even though we’re only there a few times a year, everyone knows us and hangs out at the table. Maybe i cheated and came to Molly’s a few times with boisterous friends of my own but still. I’m more well known because of Keely’s friends.

I look at the other guys milling around our table and i’m so different than they are. Guys owe it to themselves to improve upon their insecurities and learn from their idiocies. But they’re not doing it. It’s obvious. I know because i went through tons of self-improvement. But look at these guys and all you see in their eyes is neediness and perversion and the girls are completely unaware of them because of it. Keely’s friends are showing me extra attention this time at Molly’s and it’s only because of how i feel on the inside. You can play it cool all you want but if i can see all that bullshit in your eyes, a girl definitely can. I’ve known the coolest, toughest guys in the world but as soon as a girl shows up, it all gets lost and replaced with this horrible, romantic saint. Pulling on her hair and begging for her love and secretly writing up poems in his own head.

This is why i wasn’t supposed to go out this weekend. I’ve been way too paranoid lately and it’s making me hate people when they don’t really deserve it. Or maybe they do, who cares. They all want so sit in their sad, small worlds anyway.

Hugo walks up and talks to Jeremy about his weekend. He tells Hugo a bunch of mumbles and then says he’s glad he’s finally back here. He was getting bored. Then before Hugo can reply, Jeremy says how next weekend (another 4 day one), he’s not leaving his house, not watching any “Yay it’s the New Year” things, not watching any fireworks. What, he’s just gonna sit and wait for the moment when he gets to return to work again? This 9-5 bullshit is the highlight of his livelihood. This bothers me for so so many reasons.

The next day is Christmas Eve and i’m not at all able to fully function after the night at Molly’s. Whiskey drinks and $3.50 schooners of Smithwicks will do that to a man. I don’t fall out of bed until 1pm and i have to eat something before it’s too late. Somehow i manage to put together a breakfast of scrambled eggs, unevenly cooked bacon, and ham fried in the same pan as the bacon. I toast a bagel and butter both sides and give one half to my mom and my plate is gone quicker than it arrived. Now we have to plant some trees she ordered from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Or house was built on a clay topsoil so the only hard part of the planting was digging out the 3 inches of red and grey and tan clay. We put together a nice mixture of miracle-gro and dirt and fill in the holes around the trees we put in and the whole thing takes maybe an hour but the soles of my work shoes (Adidas) are coated an inch thick with clay and mud and any time i step wrong, i sink down into our work. The outside cats run back and forth in the dirt and grass, attacking each other when they’re not looking. They’re not too interesting in our tree, thank God. They’d tear it up for sure.

I walk to my machines and people i barely know and can’t stand say “What’s up, Stephen” or wave at me  from across the room. The water fountain tastes like pencil lead again. The usual people lean in the usual places. Jeremy still sits there working, glad he’s not at home really making something out of himself.

After the trees are planted, i need to go to town and buy AJ his present from the comic book store. Hopefully they’re open. What kind of comic book store is closed on Christmas Eve? Hopefully it’s still in business.

I force myself into my car and head off but first i have to stop and buy the only cure i can currently stomach for my condition. Clamato juice with hot sauce even though i’d much rather have a beer right now. I’m in no condition to be in public right now but i don’t really have a choice in the matter.

If the comic book store is closed, i’ll have to go to Walmart or Target and it’s not something i can fathom right now but i arrive in the shopping center and the store is open. I can’t see inside because the windows are completely covered in posters of superhero shit i don’t care to read. I wonder if they have Young Liars. I wonder if they’ve heard of Young Liars.

I’ve been at work an hour and the only thing i’ve done is work on calibrating one of my expensive machines a little bit. They’re worth about 100k a piece and i work on 6 of them. That’s more than half a million dollars of equipment i muck around with everyday and i don’t even have a degree. The talkers have arrived and they’ve only been here for maybe 5 minutes and they’re already talking Christmas. Where does this morning energy come from? Crack?? I’ve been here for 4 years and i still can’t get used to being awake this early.

I walk into the comic book store and it’s instantly awkward. There’s a couple people playing computer games across the room and the heavy middle-aged man behind the counter says Hi but i can barely send a response back. I need more Clamato but it’s in my car. I feel like this place will be a disappointment. There’s nothing in the middle of the store but tables and all the comics are on the walls. The trade paperbacks, where i’m most like going to find Young Liars, are behind the kids playing video games. I want to get AJ a nice Spiderman comic or action figure but the only thing i see so far are old indie comic toys or World of Warcraft toys. I almost turned around and walked right back out to my Clamato juice.

There’s no real order to this guy’s comics. It’s Marvel with DC with Image with video game guides. Not even alphabetically thrown on the shelves. I’m not going to find Young Liars here for sure but i look anyway. Some of his books look like they’re from his private collection or something. I find a hardcover of Ultimate Spiderman Volume 1 and the cover’s a little wrinkled so maybe i can talk him down a little on the price. But i doubt it because i’m barely able to hold my head up correctly.

A few more kids jingle the bell on the door and walk in and the guy knows them and they talk game cards for a minute, then this girl who looks like a fat Annie walks in and they talk for a minute but i don’t listen and then she’s gone. The kids are here to play some card game, apparently the place has card tournaments. I see the sign for them when i check out the statues but why would AJ want a statue. I read comics a lot when i was his age and i doubt i’d like a friggin Spiderman bust for Christmas.

I can’t be in this store anymore. All i want to do is move these fuckin card tables and organize everything. His shelf for new comics has no order either. This guy doesn’t care about comic books. He’s a gamer fag. I know i’ll regret it but i ask the guy if he has Young Liars and the look of perplexion on his face lets me down gently. I don’t know why i had him special order it because that means i have to come back here. Maybe i’ll just ignore his call when it comes in and then he’ll have Young Liars for the next guy who comes in hungover.

He knocks 10 bucks off of the used comic book because it’s wrinkled a little and i thank him and this other dude comes in looking for dice and the guy behind the counter knows ALL about dice apparently and this store sucks and he should quit trying to small-talk me and just give me my nephew’s comic book so i can get out of here and go lay on my couch for the rest of the day.

I need to go check my machines again. My arms are rubbery and tired because i started my regiment this morning. As many push-ups as i can do before my arms give out. Every morning until i’m in shape. It’s pretty bad when my arm gets tired just from moving a mouse around for too long. There’s an odd burning smell in the air but there’s pretty much always an odd burning smell in the lab. Newton is here and he says What’s up Butthead and i tell him to shutup and i check my machines and sit back down.

The rest of that day was spent in front of the TV and by the end of it, my soul has turned black and dead. How do people watch so much TV? It’s all soul-burning commercials showing us people happier than us buying things we can’t afford or don’t want to afford and it’s reality shows about rich people living their rich lives and it’s hard not to see it as this big conspiracy to keep the poor poorer spending all their money so the rich can get richer. TV is horrible.

My brother calls and needs me to bring him some clothes so he can go to this Christmas party and he invites me and i say yes because i want to hang out at his gym for a minute and ride in his giant truck because i haven’t had the chance to ride in his giant truck yet. So i get everything together and head to his gym and the weather has turned cold and a storm is starting.

Joel is working now and the way he talks is he uses words you’re only supposed to read or write, not say out loud. Words like ‘essentially’ or ‘upon arriving’ or ‘en masse’. His voice is way too loud and fake-happy and he can never seem to tell when the other person doesn’t give a shit.

I down a beer on the way to the gym and the rain gets worse and worse. The wind blows leaves directly at my car and it’s nearly pitch black and torrents of rain assault my car so it takes me longer to get to Josh’s gym. I just didn’t want to get pulled over.

When i get there he tells me his windshield wipers aren’t working. Great. I don’t want to drive, i want to ride in the big truck. He insists on driving though, even though the rain is awful by now. I convince him to not take the back roads because i don’t want to die and the freeway is lit up so not having wipers won’t be so bad. He says he can see but my side of the windshield is all fogged and the ride to the party is terrifying but we manage to make it there.

I’ve been at work 2 hours and it’s time to go find coffee. Maybe i’ll run into Callie. I love running into Callie.

There’s a girl from Alaska at the party so we talk about it for a minute, i spent a summer up there. They know how to drink, this should be a good party. I get volunteered to run downstairs and let someone in the gate because this is the ghetto and there’s no code to get in. It’s still raining and cold and i manage to slosh in every puddle i pass but i make it to the front gate and let the dude in and i run back through all the same puddles and my feet are wet and that was bullshit but at least my shirt’s dry.

The gay guy who lives at the apartment keeps telling me to take off my shirt because i’m all wet but i’m not going to. Besides, me shirt’s dry, if anything i’ll only take off my shoes because of those fucking puddles. I tell him i have a beer gut and i’m not taking off my shirt.

The party is a blur of shots and beer and trashcan punch and my brother telling me to watch my mouth because he doesn’t want to get into a fight at this party but how am i not supposed to say something when this one guy had his tongue pulled out in his hands and he’s trying to fix his piercing IN THE MIDDLE OF A PARTY you ugly slob and somehow i manage not to say nigger or faggot which is good because there’s a few at the party. I never actually call gay people faggots or black people niggers, i only call my friends that. I’m not really a bigot but fag and nigger are my two favorite insults when my friends fuck with me.

My brother and i throw glowsticks at each other across the apartment and i deflect one right into this girl’s back and it’s funny because she was mean to my brother and hurt his feelings and i nailed her pretty good with the glowstick but i blamed her friend. Then i did the same thing to her friend’s boyfriend because he looked like an idiot. Oops.

We leave the party early and go pick up my car and race the whole way home and i don’t really remember being at the house but somehow i made it to bed and slept the whole night.

The coffee was terrible because it’s an off brand because the company’s not spending any money until after the new year and nobody really knows how to make coffee with this off brand. Also there’s no creamer because we ran out but Emily appears and she seems really happy to see me even though she’s dating that pale red-headed guy with the beard and ugly teeth and bad jokes and i hate red-headed guys (they’re evil) but i like red-headed girls. Those are some of the prettiest ones around. Emily has great skin-tone but i’ve never told her that because i can’t think of a charming way to say “I like your skin”, it only sounds creepy. Didn’t run into Callie, damnit. I need to see her.

Finally it’s Christmas so we start cooking the organic whole chicken and wrap the last few presents and then we eat the chicken spiced with a rub i made full of Tony’s and salt and pepper and garlic salt and garlic pepper and a little bit of curry and a little bit of paprika and a whole stick of butter and my mom cooks some fresh sweet potatoes and stuffing and everything tastes perfect, especially the first whole chicken i’ve ever cooked. Next time i’m cooking it on the grill.

And now i’ve been invited to lunch at Red Robin even though i hate that place and i can’t really afford it but hey, Callie might go and Emily will for sure go so i think i’ll go. What if i’m still writing this at 1130? That would be funny.

Then my sister arrives and she has all 6 kids with her. It’s so rare to have all 6 kids in one place but it’s always a riot when that happens. Everyone’s tired though, especially the twins. It was a nice gift-opening. AJ loved the comic book, thank God he didn’t have it already. Matthew and Timothy disappeared to play with their Legos and the rest of the time was spent entertaining the twins with talking ducks and Christmas bows and toy cars that light up when you push the button. The twins are barely two and they’re the cutest things i’ve ever seen. It’s Jacob and Abby and they saunter around like they’ve already figured out the world is theirs. Jacob has perfected this hilarious scowl and Abby’s hair is a wreck and she’s gonna break a million hearts, totally adorable.

Let me tell you, it’s heartbreaking when they cry. I wanted so bad to help them stop crying and they’re not even my kids. They’re way too cute to be crying like that. They love the bells hanging on the wall and like any kids, they’re more interested in the boxes and wrapping paper than the actual presents.

Half of the computers aren’t working right now so maybe today’ll go easy on me.

It’s sad when it’s time to say goodbye to all the kids. I call Matthew nerd-boy until he yells at me and calls me lonely and then i tell him i hope he trips and falls and his face lands in the mud and he tells me he hopes i fall in lava and i tell him that’s impossible and he says nothing’s impossible.

We load all the kids and toys in the van and Jacob is squeezing the car and making it light up over and over again because he likes the little click it makes. He’s barely two years old and he’s already discovered the joys of catharsis. It’s dark and cold and i wish the kids would have stayed longer. But then they’re gone and i promise my sister i’ll come see her when i’m up in Dallas this weekend and that was that. That was my Christmas.

I wasn’t supposed to do anything but i did anything anyway and it turned out beautiful and i wish i could rewind it and do it again and make those twins laugh again.