Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Day Jobs Are For Punks

In my younger, less responsible days where any sum I received was treated as a though it held an expiration date, I acquired myself a minor, but definitely not scoff-worthy, amount of debt. When combined with student loans, this seemingly manageable debt became closer to impossible and so I let it drag my credit score off into the night placed upon Hell’s front doorstep. Because, fuck it.

My resume is filled with retail and restaurant experience, because what else was I supposed to do in college? Those jobs allowed me to take the classes I wanted and to have time off for band practices and shows, which at the best of times were often enough to be considered a full time volunteer service. This makes my resume impressive only to other restaurants. Armed with this and the idea that I would one day like to own my own café or maybe a bar, I decided to start working my way up in the food industry. My versatile degree made me that much sexier, and in time I was an evening supervisor for a health store café, which was glorified babysitting, but my future job prospects didn’t need to know that.

When the health store became too much (drunk dials from the boss and constantly having my job threatened because I wasn’t doing the things that I was never told to do got old, what I can say?) I looked at my savings and figured if I found a job within two months, I could survive. So I called them up and quit, citing the abusive conditions as detrimental to my health.

I found a job at another restaurant as a shift manager, which was kind of fun. It paid me enough to eat Chinese takeout once a week and make sure local bookstores kept in business. Soon after, just about everyone above me quit and I was offered the job of Assistant Manager, which I was only interested in the idea of. I’ve always considered myself the loaner type, who would rather show up to work, do their job and leave. Running an entire restaurant sounded tough. But, if I wanted to own my own place one day, this would be a great learning experience. That, and the price tag was beautiful. I’d be able to knock out all of my non-student loan debt in six months, tops. And get more work done on my tattoo sleeve.

I took the job. To sum up the experience, five months into the gig, I told my boss about a time when I had no money to pay my bills. I had to constantly ask the utility companies not to shut me off and I was stealing a large amount of food from my job at the time just so I could eat. I followed this story up with: I was definitely a lot happier than I am now.

The experience taught me that while real jobs are nice and so are the looks you get from friends with Graduate degrees when they find out you’re making more money, they’re also pretty fucking stupid. In that entire year, I wrote about thirty pages. On a normal year I turn out a draft of a manuscript and a handful of short stories (Or, what Stephen King does in the time it took you to read this.) While writing pays so much less than my current day job, it also defines a lot of who I am. I am a writer, not a restaurant manager. I lost sight of this when I was working an insane amount of hours, trying to keep a sinking ship afloat so that some guy I’ve never met can make more money to masturbate his ego with.

One day, after the end of my year in middle class, I was organizing my writings and I set my very first manuscript on top of my printer. Then I set a draft of a novella I’d finished recently. And then I set a small collection of short stories I want to rewrite. On top of that I set the manuscript for novel in progress. These are all works unrelated to She Sees Metaphors. I looked at these and for the first time in that entire year I felt like I was successful, or on my way to success. That small pile of words made me happier than any paycheck or title to add to my resume could ever hope. I’m now slightly broke, back to hourly wages, and pinching my pennies, but I can honestly say that I am probably the happiest mother fucker who isn’t on drugs right now. Which, knowing this town and its kids, means I’m probably one of the most miserable.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Is The New Sunday

Sorry, sorry, I know it's a day late. I had an unusual Sunday, starting with an early shift at work and ending with me changing the hippy's car battery (which is about as impressive and manly and I'll ever be around her). There was also a lovely post Valentine's Day date which included cheap chocolates, Middle Eastern food, and Attack on Titan, which might be one of the greatest things in animation, ever. There's also the whole long work stretch I'm in. Eleven straight days of the day job, which is rather frustrating considering that I stepped down from management and took a $1,000 a month hit to have more time to focus on writing. As you can see, that's working out splendidly. I'm glad my superiors are still getting their days off though.

Okay, enough whining, here we go:

As we near the end of the month, the hippy and I are gearing up to move in together, thus ending our lives as a couple that never fights. Between conversations of who gets what bedroom (yeah, that’s right, we’re having separate bedrooms) and the general excitement of what we’ll do with the living room, we manage to sneak in conversations of how long term we see this going. (Outlook positive, shit yeah!) And with this has come talk of one day having children.

Since the two of us agree that yes, we would one day like to have kids, barring any major relationship troubles, I figured I might as well get tested. I was due for a checkup and, let’s be honest, nobody wants a chlamydia baby. So I scheduled an appointment and all of my confidence that I am clean drained away faster than my mother’s pride in me as she reads this post.

Growing up Catholic, I learned three things about sex before marriage. If I do it, I will go to hell, I will have babies, and we’ll all have AIDS. (It was the 90’s to be fair.) This later warning has been burned so deeply into my subconscious, that when getting tested is combined with anxiety and paranoia problems, every Queen song becomes less classic rock and more of an omen for a difficult future.

In summary, I am clean. (Shit yeah!) But there is one detail with getting tested that bothers the living hell out of me. After my doctor stepped out of the room to order blood work for my HIV scan and came back with the paper to take upstairs, she informed me that because of my tattoos, she ordered a Hepatitis scan.

Here’s what I wish I had said:

Excuse me? Look at these. No, really, look at them. See the detail? See that mother fucking detail? Does this artwork look like it was done in some creep’s basement with a needle he found on the floor of his van? (0r her van, let’s not be sexist.) No. No it does not. I clearly went all out on the quality of art, and with that came a clean shop. So take that hepatitis test, and shove it, Doc.

What I said was:


It was my first blatant bit of tattoo stereotyping. I’m generally used to people asking me questions about how much it cost and if it hurt and “Is that a bird??” So yes, I am a little salty over it. But then again, maybe I deserve it, because I’ve been carrying that Queen joke around for a while, knowing full well that it’s in bad taste. Unlike this.

In writing news, She Sees Metaphors will be returned to me later this month by my wonderful editor. There are still a few quirks to work out after that, but with the ISBN and barcodes nearly in the bag, I do believe that it is safe to say that the novel will most definitely be released this summer. Let’s hope I didn't jinx that.

So yes, all is looking bright with my future, and as the days to come turn to the present moment, I would like to raise a glass to remembering that none of this is being taken for granted. Day job aside, I look forward to spending the next year with the hippy, reading as many books as I can, writing every chance I get, and making the best of it.

This entire post has been brought to you by Lexapro and That Shit Works.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Love At The End

Forgive me, longtime readers (all five of you), as this week I recycle a post from yesteryear's dismissed blog in favor of simply having nothing this week. I've taken a few days off from the day job to focus on finishing up the first draft of a novella, which will be a part of the anthology novel that I hope to release late 2016/early 2017. This first draft is close enough to completion that I think it warrants my undivided attention for the next week or so. But enough of that. Kick back, grab a drink and enjoy yourself as I regale you once more with a story straight from a dream. I myself will let the brain rest after tonight's writing stint and kick back with a glass of Jack, watch Heavy Traffic and cap off the night with The Walking Dead (the click and point game, not the TV show, which can get fucked after killing off Emily Kinney). 

I love you...

Sometimes I hate my dreams.

Not the ones  that everyone encourages me to follow, like go to college and get a job that makes more than 12k a year. Not the ones that “those who care” hear and react as though I want to try shooting heroine into my urethra, like try to get a novel published and make a living as a writer. I'm talking about the ones that happen after I close my eyes and hope I wake up on time to catch the bus for work.

I've had some fairly traumatizing dreams. I've been drugged with a parasite whose effects mimic opiates and acid, but the side effects include minor to severe decomposition. I've wandered underground tombs where my friends lose their minds and light each other on fire and speak with mold and moss doppelgangers. I lived in a world where sprout cock (a disease where spores appeared all over your body and produce a porn worthy penises) exists. At a party, the things that nightmares are made of wander the room and when I close my eyes, I can still see them clear as day. And these are just the ones I tell people about.

There is one dream, however, that nearly made me cry upon waking. Not because of its surreal ugliness, but because it was just... amazing.

The end of the world was happening. An asteroid was heading right for us and no one was making it out alive. Everything was a sad shade of blue, like a higher power wanted us to see the end in the right tone. I was alone, sitting on my bed and trying to call my parents, just to say goodbye. But the phones were out in south Texas and I couldn't reach them. I took a breath, kept it together and reminded myself that they and my youngest brother knew that I loved them. They didn't need a final phone call. They knew. Right?

I tried to rest easy. I had spoken to the one man who was going to live, a man who had the means to travel to another planet with life, and he promised me that all of our art and history would be remembered. This gave me a sense of comfort, as though an angel appeared as said I would pass through the gates of Heaven when this was all over. It was also pretty damn random and unrealistic, but this is a dream and such things are to be expected.

Out of ideas, I thought about trying to find something with high percentage of alcohol to drink. But not before I sent out a text message to her: the one girl that I wished I had just given the whole truth. It was simple, direct, cheesy and clear. After that, I tossed my phone aside and nearly stopped breathing as the door to my bedroom opened. My brother and sister stepped inside. I honestly hadn't expected to see them and I think the look on my face was more akin to irritation than joy.

“What are you guys doing here?” I asked.
“We thought we should be together for the end of the world.”

Dream me, kind of an idiot, figured they'd want to go out holding their significant others and thinking of the future they wished they could have.

“But what about [your boyfriend] and [your girlfriend]?”

They told me that they had said their goodbyes and now it was time for us to be together. I smiled. What else could I do? Dying alone was taken off the table and the only two people in this city I can't live without were with me. And so, with the end just moments away, we stepped outside and waited, holding each other, three frightened siblings, hoping the end was quick.

I started to say a prayer, or rather recite a poem. I had heard it in the film, The Grey, and it never left me.

“Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I'll ever know. Live and die on this day... Live and die on this day...”

The asteroid broke into the atmosphere and we could hear it from its entrance point miles and miles away. This was it. Life was coming to an end. I took a breath and I had a thought. I really, really hoped that when I died that there was nothing. No Heaven. No Hell. Just peace. It was the last self revelation I would ever have, and the final signature on my divorce papers with Roman Catholicism.

The sound was heard all around the world, and with it the knowledge that countless lives had just been Alderaaned. But for us, that was it. A cold front washed over us and a silence followed, so heavy that even nature respected it. Then, nothing. We waited and waited, but all we accomplished was standing in the cold. Back inside, we sat down, confused and unsure of what was going on. They told us we were going to die, and yet here we were. Was it just going to take a while before it killed us? Did someone seriously fuck up their calculations? Despite our varied interests, not one of us knew the science of such a disaster. Hell, our knowledge on anything with science went as far as high school and college. So what could we do but keep waiting, together as a family?


And be too much of a chicken shit to see if I got a text back.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Twelve Fucking Pounds

Waking up for a day job on a Sunday morning has always been one of the most depressing things in the world to me. Where the service industry is concerned, Sundays do not bring out the best the world has to offer. The interesting and the kind and the generous are all home, hung over, cuddling their loved ones, watching Netflix while the day of rest hours pass by, creeping closer to Monday morning’s reminder that most of us are slaves to some kind of wage. In my line of work, Sundays tend to bring out the silver spoon crowds, straight from the massive halls of some church just moments after the pastor has given them permission to go out into the world and completely forget everything that was just said. If you want a firsthand example in favor of the argument that religion is a fashion accessory and not a way of life, pick up a waiting job and serve some angry middle age bastard who still has the taste of communion wafers and wine on their tongue, and try to keep smiling while they bark at you as though personally have done something hideous to them. It’s not a pretty way to go about the day, and yes, people like this come at all business hours of the week, but they’re usually diluted in the crowd, like pepper in a mixed drink. Some sips, you just don’t notice them. But sometimes it all clumps at the bottom and when you take a drink you realize that it’s all fucked.

So yes, what else is new (or not so new)? While I wait for my second editor to finish her run on She Sees Metaphors, I’m dabbling in a few other projects, one of which will take point and become my second release. It’s an all ages novel, which is proving to be an incredibly tricky thing for me to work on, as not having characters who say “fuck” or detailed descriptions of sex is… odd, I guess. What do young people do when they’re not running around dropping f-bombs like a crazed war tyrants and trying to get intimate with someone? Quite a lot, I guess, but it’s unusual to focus on the non-subversive. As for details, all I will say for now is that it is an anthology novel in the magical realism/fantasy genre, although I am trying to add gothic elements here and there, if I can.

I have gained twelve pounds. I know that listening to someone who is thin whine about their weight is annoying, but I don’t give a fuck, I gained twelve pounds. I went to the doctor’s the other day, and after stepping on the scale, worried that I would have lost weight as can be the first sign of having some sort of disease, I saw that I am now heavier than I was during my last visit. I was devastated.
“It’s your winter coat,” the hippy said. “You’ll lose it once it’s warm and you start biking again.”
Me: *uncontrollable sobs*
“And, well… you do have a deep fryer now…”
Me: “Hey, let’s not go pointing fingers and assigning blame where it doesn't belong.”
So yes, I am now a part of the obesity epidemic that is plaguing the United States. I am a part of the problem, not the solution. All may shame me and my disgusting ways. I am now starting to resemble my sister’s cat, a vile creature that I am currently babysitting.

Meet Jerri/ Niece Cat/ Duck Tail, as she shoves her face into my blanket and drools into it. This is one of her good angles. 

And finally, my deepest thanks to my friend and colleague Chris Galford for his amazing endorsement. . Kind words from Chris are nothing short of humbling and I could not have asked for a better first review. 

Now excuse me while I go eat my feelings.