We could drive out to the mountains,
leave the city and the shadows behind,
the stacks of paper bills and paperwork,
the jobs, the chores, the heartaches;
search the wooded valleys
for blue jays and cardinals
listen to the quiet rumbling of brooks,
see the majestic power of mountains,
the colorful peace of sunsets and rainbows,
sleep beneath a ceiling of stars,
the Milky Way spread out
like God’s amazing brushstroke,
look into the flames of the campfire
crackling deep into the night.
We could find ourselves
away from the bustle and chaos
and open our minds to dreams.
The stuff that dreams are made of:
sunset clouds and sparkling snowflakes,
the sunbeams that peek through leaves
deep in a lush green woodland,
ocean waves splashing under the boardwalk,
the smell of wood burning in autumn
and the leaves alive with color; red, yellow, orange,
notes of quiet music fluttering out through an open window
as translucent white curtains blow with the summer breeze,
butterflies fluttering over a lake in the mountains
that reflects snow-capped peaks and blue sky like a mirror,
the horizon past the ocean at night
as the moon ripples silver light over the water.
I’m a magnet for crazy experiences. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m a creative type. Maybe God fills our lives with crazy, fucked up (in my case) experiences so we have things to write about, paint about, sing about, play music about, dance about, and whatever else we all do. But still, that doesn’t make it any easier for us. Or maybe it does a little. Maybe that’s why I’m doing this.
I did try to do things “the normal way” for a while. About fifteen years actually, and it was going really well for me until all the shit went down. The “my wife is gay” shit. I guess we all try to be “normal” at some point. I was married, had kids, was going to church every Sunday, had a good high-paying corporate job. I still have most of those things and I guess I should be grateful. Just not so much the wife anymore.
Well, I guess it’s time to start actually telling this story. I had a lot of trouble getting girls all through school, up until college. Probably because I’ve always had self esteem issues and it was always hard for me to approach anyone I had any sort of romantic feelings for. There were crushes, and there was the one girl I know of who had a crush on me. I crumpled up her love letter and pretended I didn’t ever get it. In retrospect I should’ve given her a chance. I mean what did I have to lose?
Anyway, there was the girl I dated in high school. She was a lot of fun, and she was a cheerleader and sang and danced in the musical. The sister of the starting quarterback on our high school football team the year before (he’d graduated). Very pretty. Miss popular for the class one grade lower than me. And I was a total dork and a nerd. Go figure. The only reason I had the courage to ask her out was everyone else dated her too so I figured she’d probably say yes. And she did. And we made out a lot. But we never actually had sex. And we broke up just before senior prom when she cheated on me, so I ended up having to go with a friend. Story of my life.
So I didn’t end up getting laid until my second semester in my freshman year of college. She was another beautiful one, with long blonde hair I used to love to brush and comb for her (but maybe it was really for me). I’ve always had a thing for hair. And like the other girl, she’d been with everyone, only this time it wasn’t just dating and making out she was doing.
I met her one night when I went over to a friend’s dorm room to play Magic the Gathering. You read that right. Magic the Gathering got me laid for the first time (indirectly). Did I mention I’m a big dork and a nerd? My story’s full of Magic the Gathering, Star Wars, Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, you name it. So there was this pretty girl sitting there with long, blonde hair and a sunburnt left arm. And I remember that was my door into the conversation.
“What happened to your arm? Looks painful.”
She smiled slyly. “Oh, I woke up and decided to drive to Ocean City today and my arm was hanging out the window and got burnt pretty bad.”
“You just up and drove to Ocean City?” I was imagining beatnik road trips to California, something I ended up doing a few years later.
I grinned. “Jack Kerouac style.”
Her smile widened. “I love Jack Kerouac.”
“What’s your name?”
“Like Janis Joplin.”
She smiled and nodded. “What’s yours?”
“Like Jerry Garcia.”
I grinned. “I love the Grateful Dead.”
“Me too. What’s your major, Jerry?”
“I’m an English major.”
“So am I.” At this point I vaguely remembered her. She’d come to my room once to drop off a CD for my roommate and I told her he wasn’t there. I remembered her face. It was a pretty face that reminded me of hippies in the sixties for some reason.
“Do you want to come to my room and smoke some weed?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said. And I grabbed my Magic cards in one hand and her hand in the other and we left my Magic-playing friends and headed to my dorm room. It didn’t dawn on me until later that one of them had probably invited her there and I’d just ran off with her. I don’t think they talked to me much after that if I remember correctly.
So we ended up in my dorm room sitting on the floor smoking a joint. So many times there was a circle of people sitting in there smoking, but this time there were just two of us. My roommates had disappeared for a few days as they did often.
So while we got high, our minds filling with the warm haze of marijuana and my dorm filling with the sweet stink (which was probably always there residually), we talked about literature, poetry, music, and whatever else.
“Have you ever read James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’?” she asked as she puffed.
I shook my head. “My friend Buddha’s read it a few times. I’ve read ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,’ but haven’t read ‘Ulysses’ yet.”
“It’s a great book. I’m taking a class on Joyce. I’m a senior. What year are you?”
“Freshman,” I said.
She smiled a sly grin. “That’s cool.”
“I’ve actually been writing more lately.” I puffed in a big lungful and coughed a little, then handed her the joint. “I’ve been working on this crazy stream of consciousness type story that follows one character for a while, then a piano falls on his head or something, and it follows somebody else until it randomly stops following her and follows an insect or something and sort of keeps going on like that. Experimenting with perspective and character. I think it’s a comedy but I haven’t decided yet.”
She chuckled. “Sounds cool. Sounds surrealist.”
I smiled. “Yeah. I’m definitely a surrealist.” I thought about all the LSD I’d been doing with my roommates and occasionally with my friend Nick. That’ll be another story, though.
We finished the joint. “Hey,” she said. “I’m over 21. But since you aren’t, I know a bar where they don’t card and they won’t care if I buy you drinks. It’s on the other side of town. Wanna go?”
I shrugged. “Sure.”
We stopped by her dorm for a second and she got one of many bottles of Southern Comfort out of the fridge. She chugged a little and offered me some so I did the same. I pretended I didn’t see the naked couple resting in the bed next to us.
Then we left the dorm building and got into her pickup truck, talking more about poetry and literature on our way. “This is Bunny,” she said.
“Huh?” I asked as I got into the passenger seat of the truck. “Bunny?” I was a little buzzed and stoned but I think even if I’d been completely sober, I’d have had no idea what the fuck she was talking about.
“My truck,” she said. “His name is Bunny. I always name my cars. When the transmission jumps, it kind of feels like a bunny hopping.”
“Oh okay.” I started trying to think of a good name for my used Chevy sedan.
She drove for a while at an alarmingly fast speed until we reached the other side of town, a neighborhood full of strip joints and parking lots it seemed. And lots of overhead highway bridges with huge concrete columns. And there was this tiny bar tucked in the middle of everything.
We got out of the truck after she parked and she vomited all over a street sign. “Sorry,” she said to me with a grin. “I’ve been drinking all day.”
“All day?” I asked. “I thought you drove to Ocean City and back.”
“I did,” she said. “I started drinking before I left.”
She threw up on the sign a few more times and then we went into the bar.
For the next hour or so, she ordered me drinks and I got shit-faced and she got even more shit-faced then she already was. It got to that point where we were both so trashed we just said whatever the hell we felt like saying. “So how many women have you been with?”
“Seventeen,” I lied, putting totally unnecessary pressure on myself for later.
“I’ve been with about thirty men, including your roommate.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I know.”
“You ever been with an older woman?”
“Yeah,” I lied again. “A few.” I’d never even had an older girlfriend.
We talked and drank a little while longer. Then we went back to the dorms. She drove fast as ever, but a little more erratically.
When we got back, we decided to go to my place since her roommate was there. And then it happened. I won’t get into details since this isn’t one of those kinds of stories, but I will say it was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t the mind-blowing, life-altering experience I thought it would be (that would come later). May have been because we were both trashed out of our minds.
We ended up becoming boyfriend and girlfriend for several months at least, but it wasn’t quite a year. And it was the kind of relationship I wish I could have now. We had a lot of fun together, but there was no pressure. We just made each other happy and that was it.
I’m too old for that sort of thing now, though. Life’s shortening up and I guess it’s time for me to start seeing if I can find some sort of soulmate or something before it’s too late. I’ve had my fun. I tried the family thing. I think it’s time to hold out for something real. Even if it takes twenty years.
But I’m probably not ready for that shit anyway. I mean I just found out my wife is gay a few months ago. I need to stop reeling before I even think about that sort of stupidity.
Letting Erato Go
I’ve learned not to chase my muse,
but to watch her fly,
let the butterfly go with the wind,
rather than grabbing a wing,
dusting off the beautiful color.
I’ll capture her beauty in words:
The oranges and yellows of an autumn fire.
The blues and whites of a boundless sky.
The pinks and purples of a spreading sunset.
And I’ll dream of her,
and in my dreams we’re always together
in a cabin by a mountain lake
or riding bikes along the beach,
listening to the quiet rumble
of waves rolling in beneath the moon.
A 6 year old’s take on current events
I was explaining to my two oldest kids what was happening between Russia and Ukraine. My (at the time) 6 year old son’s response? “Well if you replace the ‘t’ with a ‘p’ his name would sound like Vladimir Poopin.”
In the Storm
Now I’m writing love poems
for people who don’t exist:
my muse Erato;
a fictional construct,
the personification of a feeling
that escapes me like a feather
blowing away in the wind.
I’m drowning in an ocean,
carried up by a tsunami in a hurricane,
and I’m reaching for a mirage;
a life preserver that isn’t really there,
but out here in the chaos,
I’m hoping real help finds me soon.
Maybe a coast guard boat signaling a beacon,
maybe a fishing boat pounded by waves,
but one that keeps on going
until “I think I can”
becomes “I thought I could.”
The Green Lie
In the mirror, his eyes speak with green life: hope and wonder which don’t match his emotional state. They say eyes are the windows of the soul, but they’re really just the tools your body uses to see, and his eyes are excellent liars. Everyone always says he has pretty eyes, shining and green. They gloss over the death his soul is experiencing. It’s a compound death that has multiplied exponentially over time. He smiles sardonically at the life in his shining green eyes. Those pretty green eyes of death.
I had an epiphany today. It happened while I was driving to my mom’s. She’s in a retirement community, she’s 78 years old, and she doesn’t remember things so well anymore. She needs a lot of help and a lot of the time, it’s up to me. It’s gotten way worse since my dad died right before COVID hit, a little over two years ago now I guess.
Anyway, I was driving alone in our family mini van, thinking about all of my problems. Thinking about how my wife discovered that she’s gay and wants a divorce. Thinking about what that’s gonna mean for our four young kids aged 3, 5, 7, and 8 soon to be 9. Thinking about how all of my friends have significant others and how it seems like I’m the only person in the world not getting laid right now, and it’s been months. Thinking about how COVID isolation has taken away so many friendships and relationships, so many people whose support I could use right now. How when I was at church this morning and my three oldest kids were in Sunday school, I was alone in a room with the youngest. How everyone there probably knew I’m getting divorced soon and they all seemed to be avoiding me (this was probably all in my head, maybe…).
It seems everyone’s going to either treat me like a pariah now or feel sorry for me and try to help me like I’m some sort of victim. There are the true friends who really do want to help and are really there for me, and then there are the ones who want to cross the “help a divorced friend” badge off their Boy Scout list. Reminds me of when I was recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. What I really dread is when they start trying to fix me up with their divorced and widowed cat lady friends.
So here I am driving down the road thinking about all this shit and my million other problems (too many to list here), and the epiphany I came to was that I really don’t give a fuck anymore. About any of it. I don’t give a fuck that my wife is gay and I’m getting divorced. I don’t give a fuck about not getting laid. I mean that’s what porn and hands are for, right? Besides I’ve gotten laid enough to last several lifetimes now and I realize it’s all bullshit and illusions anyway. If you don’t know what I mean then maybe you’ve just never gotten to the point where I am now, or maybe I’m insane.
I realized I don’t give a fuck about any of it. I don’t give a fuck that I’ve been rejected by five literary agents who didn’t even care enough about my query letter to read my book. I don’t give a fuck about the other guy who hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Maybe he’ll reject me, maybe he won’t. I can self publish on Amazon anyway so I don’t give a fuck.
While I was driving, I started shouting “I don’t give a fuck!” while I was driving down the street over and over. “I don’t give a fuck! I don’t give a fuck! I don’t give a fuck!” Just like that. Anyone who saw me and could read my lips probably thought I was a crazy person. I don’t give a fuck about that either.
And at first I was maybe trying to convince myself, but by the time I got to my elderly mom’s retirement community, having screamed “I don’t give a fuck!” all the way there, it was a truly cathartic experience. I truly didn’t give a fuck anymore, and it was an amazing experience releasing all of that. I was laughing hysterically. Just letting it all go.
That’s when I realized it’s time to write my memoirs. And I think you’re in for a real treat. There’s drugs, sex, and rock and roll, and more drugs, sex, and rock and roll. There are cross country mystical adventures where I ended up in Mexico, sleeping in a parking lot using a concrete block as a pillow. There’s the time cops pointed guns at me ready to shoot until a close friend stepped in and saved my life. There are countless courts, a few jail cells, some beautiful women, plenty of insane lunatics, and more late night epiphanies than you could ever hope to shake a stick at.
I’ve come face to face with death many a time and realized that either he didn’t want anything to do with me, or maybe I’m here for some strange reason I just haven’t figured out yet. I’ve totaled many a car, had some serious car accidents I walked away from without a scratch. I’ve stood up to gangsters, drug dealers, and mafiosos with just plain intimidation getting me through unscathed (with very little to back it up most times). I’ve won a few fistfights, and lost several, sometimes very badly. I’ve squeaked by with barely enough money to buy food, and I’ve lived it up in the lap of luxury, eating at fancy restaurants and going on trips all around the world.
There have been hospital beds, skinny dipping adventures with stinging nettles, legendary drug and alcohol binges, stages where I played music and read poetry, sometimes to hundreds, sometimes maybe thousands. Enough LSD to make you go insane several times over, ecstasy and raves, cocaine and manic depressive episodes ending in psychiatrist visits. Hundreds of black outs. One time when I came out of a blackout, I was driving on a highway. Still can’t explain that one.
Celebrities I made friends with for a night, acquaintances who would go on to become celebrities. There have been God moments, coming to Jesus moments, religious epiphanies, all sorts of questioning and doubt, and ultimately faith and peace (though not always). I could go on and on but I’ll just start writing it and let you read it.
Don’t worry. I’ll still post plenty of depressing poems, too. But as I feel so inspired, I’ll post stories that’ll make you laugh and cry, sometimes maybe both at the same time (is that possible?). I’m not gonna pull back any punches. If you want family friendly shit with no cuss words, these won’t be the stories for you, because I’m gonna be completely honest, and honesty has a shit and a fuck in it every once in a while. Maybe even a dick and a cunt here and there.
I’ll change all the names because I don’t want to incriminate anyone or ruin any reputations. And all of this is true. Though for a lot of it, I wish it wasn’t.
The problem with life
is that it keeps on going after the happy ending
and going and going,
and the suffering always comes back.
The evil queen survives her fall
and returns to steal away your dreams
with black magic and poisoned apples;
the skulls and daggers
always hidden under beds,
under clothes in dresser drawers,
in the dark corners of basements and attics,
the places in your mind you never clean
so they’re shrouded in cobwebs,
tormented by mice and rats
and the vaguer things in your imagination,
dark monsters hiding in closets
with the skeletons.
I’m in the place between places,
in the hours between days,
on a highway that goes on and on,
waiting for a bus in the rain
in Alice’s purgatory,
a lonely wonderland lacking wonder
where it’s perpetually 11:59 PM
on February 29th
in a year that isn’t really a year,
and in the nights when the moon doesn’t shine
and darkness shrouds the scene
from gray to black,
I’m lying in bed alone
next to a woman I don’t know,
and I’m breathing,
but not really alive.