Thursday, June 14, 2012
Monday, March 28, 2011
I can hear them in the next room, watching the Price is Right.
“Ese, you out of your mind? $300 for a washer/dryer? You loco, hombre.”
“Jinga tu madre, that shit is cheap.”
It’s been going on like this for a week, maybe ten days. I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been sitting in this cell. Part of the problem is that I just keep replaying the last month to figure out where it all went fucking wrong. Really wrong.
Whenever I would see people on the 6 o’ clock news, I always thought, ‘How can you be so fucking stupid?’ You hire a hit man to off your wife. You embezzle $300,000 from your company. You tee off on the noisy upstairs neighbor with a 5 iron. It’s fucking obvious you’re going to get caught.
Yet, somehow, these people keep doing this obvious shit and actually have the audacity to look fucking surprised when the cops show up and they get tazed on the front lawn in front of their wife and kids.
Now I know.
You want to know the secret?
It’s not sexy, but it’s 100% true. Unfortunately, I know exactly how it happens, because it happened to me. It’s hard to believe that a month ago I was graduating law school, had a job, had a girlfriend, had a whole life.
And now it’s all gone. And why?
Little mistake by little mistake. That guy with the 5 iron? What you don’t see is all the shit that happened before he blew up and broke six of his neighbor’s ribs. The act itself is merely the result of dozens of tiny, incremental mistakes that shift your reality to such a degree that the guy that started out is not the guy swinging away without yelling ‘fore.’ No, he’s a changed man. And the really amazing part is after the act, he’s immediately changed back, staring at his neighbor howling in pain, and the 5 iron in his shaking hand thinking ‘how the fuck did I come to this?’
Little mistake by little mistake. That’s almost always the answer. Most people are rational reasonable actors. They tend to do the right thing. But somewhere in the loop of life, you can get stuck with feedback. The sound hearing itself, amplifying itself, and hearing itself again until it reaches a crescendo of mind splitting proportions. And when it’s all over, all you had to do was shut the amp off. But it never occurs to you once you get stuck.
At least it didn’t occur to me.
No, I listened to that feedback and ignored the consequences. At least I didn’t get tazed. Well, maybe getting tazed would have been better than getting blown to hell and back, but that’s merely a matter of opinion.
And I continue to look back. Where was it that I could have made the decision to avoid sitting in this cell with a bunch of Mexicans laughing at me and saying ‘No Ingles’ motherfucker? Now that I look at it, there were a bunch of exits off of this particular highway. And why didn’t I take them?
Because of a girl. Well, three actually, but as usual I’m getting ahead of myself.
So I’ll go back to the beginning.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
But then I realized, some things are just for me and my dad. Maybe some day I'll post it, but as ok with everything I am right now, this one is a bit too much for me now.
Strangely enough, in my opinion, today is my birthday. Sure, I was born on another day, but as I described to a friend at the time, 'the day my dad died was the first day I felt like I was working without a net.'
And I still feel that way. That's not a good or bad thing, it just is.
I hope you don't understand.
Thank you, Dad, thinking about you.
Regular posts to follow next week.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
With the passing of your time, though you seldom come to mind I remember the day
Sure as winter follows fall, sure as maybe I will call, just remember the day. ~ Robert Plant, "Far Post."
Just remembering the day. Six years ago, and sometimes it seems like a lifetime, other times, the wound is still fresh. I guess ultimately that's what you need to do, stitch it up, lament the pain, and move along.
For the first time in six years, I'm going to celebrate Christmas. It was my father's favorite holiday. I can't say I'm 'over it' per se, but I do know that I finally am feeling out from under. And it's good to feel that way.
It's also nice to feel like there were good times. And there were plenty of those.
So why do we remember our dead? They're no longer with us, obviously, but they take up mental and emotional space far greater than their actual presence ever did.
The conclusion I've come to is we remember for our own sake. Hoping against hope that it all means something, that when our predetermined time arrives, others will keep us alive. So that we can matter. So that we can believe. So that we can live on. If only for a second.
So Dad, you can rest easy, you still live on through me, my sisters, and even my mom. Though you may not have gotten everything you could have hoped for, you did get immortality.
It's the only gift I have left that I can give you.
But what else can a son do? All men are sons, and all of us secretly dread and aspire to the same thing: that we too can play it the way you played it.
You didn't play it perfectly, but you played it well.
A week and a half ago, I had a dream about my dad, and I haven't had one of those in years. I was on a couch, watching tv, and inexplicably I looked over and my dad was on a couch as well. He looked at me and said "Son, you've got to sleep more than four hours a night." He then got up, covered me in a blanket, and said "Son, just relax, it's ok."
You know what Dad? You're right as usual. Everything's ok.
Happy Birthday, Dad.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Save a prayer for those haunt you.
I don't mind if you still love me." ~ Jerry Cantrell, "Leave Me Alone."
The world is a lot smaller than I previously thought.
A good friend of mine invited me to a book release party last night. So a hearty 'howdy' to Joe and Brett, who were great company. Oh, and Katie too. I also managed to get talked into cooking again by my boss, but that's another story for another time.
I had a fucking blast. I got to meet the author. I'm sure it's no surprise to any of you how much this meant to me since my one goal in life at this point is to finish my book. I don't even care at this point if it sucks, I just need to get it done. Oh, the book.
"How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide." The author's name is Aaron Goldfarb, and I have to tell you, I don't generally like anyone, but this guy was really nice. He took time out to say hello and say a few encouraging words, which is incredibly cool. His blog is funny as hell too. It's located here. Give the guy some love, anyone who's written a book deserves it, because it's fucking hard as hell.
How do I know this? Well, as I said, I've been writing a book which is responsible for my lack of attention to this blog, among other things.
I started out writing a book with the working title "Fucking Mexicans." I actually had 90 pages finished, then in a fit of rage (which when it comes to my writing, is not rare, for instance, I have about 40 posts for this blog in queue that I will never post because I can't stand to read them. That's right, the shit I put up is actually better than the shit I don't put up, so you can thank me for that later.) I deleted it. All of it. Character sketches. Outline. Treatment. Every last fucking word. Enough self loathing for you?
So what have I been writing? You may ask. You may not care. I wouldn't blame you.
The haunting. It never leaves me. There's always a look, a place, a name, a girl. It all factors in.
And with no further ado, or any at all for that matter, the current project is called "Old City Stories." It's a collection of short stories about the places I live and love. A bit of back story is necessary at this point.
As you all know, I used to practice law. "Practice" being the key word. After much soul searching and discussion with my wife, it became apparent that I couldn't do it anymore. I've lived too much of my life for others, and at 38, for the second time, it is time for me to live for me. Typing those words is weird. Anyway, back to the book and my life.
I've been holding out on you all. I'm actually training to be a bartender. And I love it. It's so nice to actually have people come in and be happy to see me. For ten years, I would pick up the phone and the person on the other end of the line was dismayed. Now, when people see me, they're happy. What a change. I'm sure it's the booze, but I'm ok with a little self delusion.
Anyway, one day I was sitting in the bar, waiting for my first customer, and I thought "Hey, fuck it, I should write a story about this." I don't know what inspired me to think that, but there it was. So I started writing notes. A Conflict arose. Characters entered next. The scenery was already there. And so it goes.
It gets really difficult to write. Some days I stare at the computer screen and I want to scream. Nothing comes. It's all around me, the inches I need, but they don't cooperate. Why anyone would choose this life is beyond me, but that's a continuing theme in my life. The choices just seem to happen without any regard for my tastes. So I slog through the best that I can.
That's what haunts me. The knowledge that it's all around me, and I just can't seem to find it. It's like being blind in the spring. The beauty is all around you, but you can't see it. Torture. Degradation. The half an inch you need, just out of reach.
And isn't that really the basis of failure? Reaching for something that is just a half an inch out of reach? You strain, you feel the arm muscles tighten, you look at the raised fingers, but at some point, you just know.
It's not enough. Your best just isn't good enough. And that's what writing is for me every single fucking day. So why do I do it? I don't know. Compulsion? Perhaps. Crashing by design? Most definitely.
So I've promised my wife that I wouldn't delete anything anymore. Hopefully, I'll come out with something cohesive and serviceable, but even if I don't, at least I'm trying.
And isn't that really what you can do? Try? It's all I've got left, and who knows, maybe I'll actually be successful.
More to come.
Oh, why is the world smaller than I previously thought? The editor of the book by Aaron Goldfarb is a girl named Amy whom used to be a waitress at a lunch place I used to go to back when I was an 'important person.' It was good to see her again, and I'm glad she seems to be heading in her dream direction.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Can't You Hear Me Knockin' by The Rolling Stones.
Holy Mother of God, this song is unbelievable. I just busted out Sticky Fingers and once again have to bow to the genius that is the guitar playing of Mick Taylor and Keith Richards. They dance around one another like a couple of belly dancers and it's hypnotic and beautiful.
Yup. This is the one.
Monday, October 4, 2010
I'm pissed off. Yes, yes, I'm sure you're shocked. So I'm contemplating sending the following e-mail to the City of Philadelphia, budget crises be damned.
Dear City of Philadelphia,
While I'm cognizant that you're currently facing a massive budget shortfall, despite the fact that you manage to tax everything, and I mean everything, to such a draconian amount that Satan wonders how the fuck he can blow all that money on hookers and coke. However, I have enclosed an invoice for services rendered and I do expect that I should get paid. You may be asking yourselves 'who the fuck is this guy?' It's a fair question, so I'll deign to give you as thorough a response as possible.
I'm the guy that stands on Second Street, having a cigarette. Now I understand cigarette breaks are normally noncompensible, however, while I'm taking these breaks, I have to endure the following:
-Someone, usually staying at the Hostel located nearby, will stop and ask me questions. I understand that I'm incredibly sexy and intelligent looking, but despite this, I do not speak Dutch, German, Swahili or whatever the fuck language these people speak from a country I couldn't find on a map with a GPS, both my hands and a fucking flashlight. I do not understand you, this is why I tilt my head to the side like my dog does when I ask her to complete a math problem. No, I don't know why the United States hates you, but I do know why I hate you. While I appreciate the fact that your country's history probably includes goat rape, all we have here in Philadelphia is the birthplace of Democracy. So fucking shove it, and we can even vote on the foregoing should you so choose.
- I don't know if you can park there. I'm sorry, have you ever seen 'Parking Wars?' Yeah, it's about the Philadelphia Parking Authority. From what I can tell, they are the most powerful agency in the city, surpassing even the Mayor's office. Yes, I know parking is a bitch. Yes, I know you're from Jersey. Yes, I may even feel a little (and I do mean little) sympathy for you. That being said, I do not control the parking authority. I've even got tickets from them, and I'm a fucking douchebag when it comes to signs. Let me make this clear, I went down to parking court with my wife (my attorney as well) and yelled at people. This is what I like to do and this is what makes me feel that my life is worthwhile. So while I do commiserate with you, I do not like being yelled at, so fuck yourselves. Your parking, despite your commitment to the contrary ideal, is not my fucking problem. Figure it the fuck out.
- Yes, I did probably hit on you ten years ago. While I understand you're now married, have three kids, and unhappy about it all, it's not my fault. I assure you, you were only one of a million I hit on, and extremely unsuccessfully I might add. Again, it bears repeating, it's not my fault. And to further make you feel shitty about this, I will affirmatively state that when I was younger, I fished in the 'dumb, drunk, and slutty pool.' Of which you were an inhabitant. If you actually did sleep with me (which is highly unlikely) then you have something to bitch about. Just ask my wife.
- Yes, I do understand you're homeless. No, I don't want to buy the shit you just took out of the dumpster behind Pharmacia. While I appreciate a good deal as much as the next guy, a half drank bottle of Miller Lite at $1 seems just a bit too risky, considering the cap is off and the bottle appears to be steaming. While I also appreciate the fact that your urine has a higher alcohol content than Everclear, and it is well known that I'm such a huge risk taker, some risks are just not worth the payoff.
- Do not look so fucking helpless and clueless when you wear a Nazi SS Uniform at the Khyber Pass because 'you're making a statement' and you get your brains beat in on Second Street. I do love the law, and yes, I will agree that assault is illegal, I will also have to state that some people have it coming to them. And you're one of them. Oh, and stop bleeding on the sidewalk, show some fucking courtesy.
- I apologize, I'm not in the business of giving you a credible alibi in case you committed a crime. If you steal a purse, I'm going to yell and point. At you. I once had my wallet stolen, and let me tell you, replacing the money is easy. The ID's and credit cards are hellish. I contemplated changing my name to Juan Valdez so I could get free coffee, but the DMV didn't seem to have a sense of humor. Oh, and fuck them.
- I am not the Cruise Director for Old City. I know, I know, this may come as a shock to many of you. In an effort to continue to be helpful, I've decided I'm going to answer all requests with 'On my cock.' Hopefully this will let the person know just how much contempt I have for them, as I do not like to veil my sarcasm and distaste, as like whiskey, they are much better straight.
"Where can we go dancing?" - 'On my cock.'
"Where can we eat around here?" - 'On my cock.'
"Do you have a cigarette?" - 'On my cock.'
"Do you have any change?" - 'On my cock.'
"Where can I park?" - 'On my cock.'
"Where is Independence Hall?" - 'On my cock.'
So, City of Philadelphia, as you can see, my newest 'On my cock' policy will yield the appropriate response to pretty much any question. If this policy does not meet with your approval, feel free to suck my cock.
Taking all the foregoing into consideration, including time, labor and materials, I estimate the following outstanding balance for services rendered:
I will not accept any checks, especially third party out of state checks as you are hobo ass broke. I prefer cash, although I will accept the deed to City Hall in lieu of cash.
Please deliver to Night and Day, P.O. Box 666, First Bank of America, Philadelphia, PA, 19106.
NOTE: If people comment that they want me to send the above e-mail, and come up with an amusing reason to do so, I will consider creating a new e-mail address and invoice the city for my time. Let me know, it could be funny if they actually respond. It could be even funnier if they actually pay me. Hey, fuck it, if the head of the Philadelphia Housing Authority can get a pension after running up millions in sexual harassment settlements, I can certainly get paid for 'helping tourism flourish.'