If birth = midnight
And death = 11:59 pm
What time is it right now?
Why was that your answer?
If birth = midnight
And death = 11:59 pm
What time is it right now?
Why was that your answer?
Two teachers are in the lounge. One has clearly had a bad class. His palms cover his eyes. The other teacher is pouring himself a cup of coffee nearby.
Teacher 1: I don’t know if this is working. They just don’t get it. It’s like I’m speaking another language.
Teacher 2: You’re the French teacher, right?
*This will be a tiny scene in the novel I’m working on–tentatively titled The Start of Something.
Stacey is a early-twenties co-worker/pseudo-girlfriend of Bill, who is almost 30.
Stacey: I want to be famous.
Bill: Oh, yeah? How famous?
Stacey: I’m not…sure, exactly.
Bill: Well, do you want to be Harrison Ford-famous, or do you want to be, like, guy-who-can-make-a-pancake-look-like-Harrison-Ford famous?
Stacey: Ummm. Who’s Harrison Ford?
[more fiction/story ideas slowly coming to fruition]
So, my life changed on a Saturday morning at my friend Keely’s house. Her parents are the kind of parents who like to get up early on weekends and show up in the kitchen wearing sweatsuits and those watches that gauge all of the steps you take in a day. They eat grapefruit and her dad sneaks decaf coffee, I’m told. I stayed with Keely because, well, my folks are fucking insane and I couldn’t handle another Friday Fiasco while huddled in my room with my shitty PS2 and VCR—yes, they actually still exist–and listen to their bullshit about bills and childcare and cleaning responsibilities. Nope. Had to go. Keely is quickly becoming my best friend, but I’m not a hundred percent she’s feeling the same way. We have geometry and band together. She likes football players and I listen to music she’s never heard of. But we’re getting there.
They had like three opened boxes of brand-name cereal–the stuff my mom never buys because the store brand, she says, tastes just the same for a lot less. I’ll understand when I’m older, she says every time we go–most of the time I don’t even say anything. Maybe I’m rolling my eyes or something, but she feels she has to defend every purchase every week while my kid sister Bailey and I stand there avoiding embarrassment. Mom hates that I’m a teenager, but I try not to make shopping too challenging. We’ve been going without dad my whole life. At least, I don’t remember him ever being around us while she’s ripping up expired coupons or asking some poor bastard kid if they have any more of the nearly expired meat in the back.
Keely’s parents are the anti-myparents. They kiss in front of us. They exercise at the same time–together. Before I really knew Keely, I used to see these two out running around our neighborhood at like crazy hours. 6 in the morning when I still hadn’t fallen asleep and at dusk when Mom’s struggling with Bailey to stay in her day-bed. They never yell. Not at each other. Definitely not at Keely. The have a cat that shits everywhere except the litter box but they’re never pissed about it. One or the other just takes care of it and zips up for a brisk morning walk, I guess.
But that morning, I learned something that was almost devastating. I mean, it was devastating to me, but I kept my cool and didn’t say anything about it in front of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence. I sat at the table and was scrolling through the same stuff I’d seen just hours earlier before I actually fell asleep, when I tasted something different. I know there’s probably no way to back this up medically, but you’ll have to trust me. Trust and teenage girl don’t usually coincide, I know, but hear me out. I detected a different taste. The cereal really did taste similar to the crap Mom buys, but it wasn’t just that knock-off flavor I missed. It was more of how I felt about an hour later.
I felt kinda shitty and pissed off. Keely’s cat seemed to be all up in my face everywhere I sat. Her parents stupid-ass sweaty workout gear was annoying me because it was piled on the floor by the hallway closet. Keely herself kept asking me what I wanted to do and I just wanted to fucking rip her head off and tell her to leave me alone.
It was her cereal.
Really, it was because her cereal hadn’t been laced with whatever the fuck my mom’s been sneaking into my food for who knows how long.
At least, that’s what my school therapist figured out a few weeks ago. I’ve been an ADHD kid for years, but I just fucking found out at my pseudo-best-friend’s house last month.
He’d heard her say the words. She’d repeated herself after a long pause as a few other students strolled by. The electric glow of the generic vending machine reflected from her glasses when she had started talking, but his eyes dropped to her mismatched socks before her sentence was complete. Twice she’d told him and all he could focus on were two socks–one yellow, the other perhaps a fuchsia. It bothered him that he didn’t immediately know how to spell fuchsia. When she asked if he was okay and if he heard her, his gaze rose a bit and found some new delight. It wasn’t her hair. Nor did the earrings he’d bought her arrest his attention.
He was being let go by his first fuck and he could only focus on the Braille script on the men’s room sign behind her right shoulder. Perhaps this meant that being suddenly single and only a year into college was not going to be as disastrous as he’d thought.
They were that couple well past the beginning stage. The ones who call each other MCM and WCW week after week. The ones who quote shitty amateur poets’ words they found on Pinterest. The ones who create insanely long hashtags that we must assume are inside jokes that a grand total of each other gets. Senior year in high school they had matching shirts made at the spring carnival.
One time, I saw them both go into the girls’ locker room about ten minutes before gym class ended. He came out just seconds before old Mr. Tipton stormed in after we once again disappointed him with our immaturity and lack of respect. They say she miscarried just weeks before prom, but those types of rumors swarm high schools like ours.
So yes. I was one of the passersby that fateful Braille day. I passed once and neither said anything to me. They hadn’t really much all year. College is so funny that way sometimes. It’s so crowded constantly around campus that the people you see who went to your high school seem to just meld into the mix. You know it’s them, but since you don’t really talk much (then or now) it’s like you’re seeing their Doppelganger and you just want to move on with your day.
So I’d passed by them and could feel something was up. Human interaction is so consistent in that regard, isn’t it? Two people I don’t really give a fuck about are breaking up, and even though I didn’t hear all the words she’d said, I’d realized he was getting shit-canned. Right there outside the commons during finals week. I suppose it was a dick move to circle back, pretend to peruse the vending machine for something then stroll away, but I had an opportunity and I took it by God.
So I saw what he saw–the Braille–and shuffled away. I had my earphones on, but I do that most of the time even though the cord is stuck into just my pocket so I don’t have to fucking deal with any bullshit from people around campus during this time. Finals week sucks. Everybody knows it. Hell, the teachers probably hate it just as much. We all just want to go on vacation, but these tests or whatever projects have to be completed in order to justify them handing us certification of some sort. I’m over it. And I’m over every other person from my classes sharing their stressfests.
In a way, I felt a little bad for the guy. He was getting dumped by a very (physically, at least) attractive girl. She was one of those girls who you knew didn’t have a lot of girlfriends.
(more to come….maybe)
A friend, his friend, and I are participating in Camp Nanowrimo, which is similar in nature to the full-blown November madness of Nanowrimo—National Novel Writing Month. (By the way, the annual event is not restricted to the US, so it’s a bit of a misnomer.) Anyway, even though I’m in the middle of a career change, a relocation, being on online instructor, waiting tables, and being a dad when I can, I’m going to try to write a little bit.
My modest 12,500 monthly word count is going to focus on stuff I’ve put down in my notebook. I carry this bad boy with me almost everywhere I go. I happen to be one of those freaks who will suddenly jot something down if it seems at least mildly story-worthy. These will all be raw ideas that will need refinement. My goal for the month was to get off my non-writing keester/derriere/bottom and get something out in a readable format.
Finally, I don’t really anticipate a lot of feedback from any of my readers. It’s always welcome, but I don’t want anyone to feel obligated. This writing is for my soul.
So…the next post will be the first item I find in my notebook that I think could eventually turn into something.
In the spirit of practicing what I preach, here was yesterday’s first warm-up writing. This, and the 19 to follow, are obviously rough drafts that may or may not find their way down Revision Lane someday…
Day 1 – A first
This was a first that speaks to my nervousness around the opposite sex. I had to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 or 12 at most. I know I was still in elementary school. My mom took us to either King’s Island or Cedar Point for a day about once a year. We have some family in Ohio, and we must have made a weekend out of it–not entirely sure. Anyway, my older brother was either on his own or with a friend that summer day at the park, so I was left with my mom. We were in line for a ride I called The Octopus. That may very well have been its name, but I distinctly recall this multi-legged ride with spinning cars at each end to be white with red stripes.
I can remember thinking it would be fun to ride this ride with my brother and not with my mom. I sensed that she was pretty much over riding rides at this point in the day and her life, so I probably said something like how I didn’t want to ride the stupid Octopus. Whatever I said was typically ignored or not met with adult conflict. No. My mom looks around and sees a girl about my height who is standing alone a few inches behind us.
“Young lady, would you like to take my place and ride with my son?”
She clearly had not been asked such a question in her life. Her gaping mouth suggested that no one had even ever referred to her as a young lady.
By this time we were being rushed forward toward the entrance gate to the ride. The guys operating that day couldn’t have known I’d just met this girl seconds earlier when my mom accosted her in line. Later, I remember looking down from my vantagepoint and seeing my mom’s cryptic grin–something that, then, made me think she was pleased by seeing her baby grow up. Nope. It was definitely because she got me in the end for back-talking her.
The girl was as forgettable as this tiny memoir. She had long skinny legs and our knees touched once or twice as the motion of the mid-air car swayed us around. I’m sure I didn’t talk to her. I told the story several times at school the following year and probably even wrote about it then.
It’s well over twenty years later, and I can still see those bare skinny knees and my mom’s devilish grin a few dozen yards below me.