Thursday, March 31, 2005

poetry submission

she looked at me in a way that said, "I want to draw you inside"
and all I could do was draw her reason into me
she knew me - she held me in her arms,
but more in her heart
and in that place,
in that moment
I grasped it-
I felt her inside me the same way
touching me in a place so long untended
knowing me in a way I never thought possible
reason to follow through was reason enough
and in that, all was said and done

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

through a child's eyes

Jason was seven years old, and had already developed a healthy hatred of his parents. "They used to be the shit," he would say, "until I started going to kindergarten - that's when they became total assholes."

"What was that, young man?!"
"I said you and Dad are assholes."
"Go wash up and get ready for dinner."
What a bitch.

Jason, do this. Jason, do that. "Why don't you get off my fucking back and do it yourself?" They never listened to reason.
"You just wait until your father gets home!"
"Fuck," he'd reply, before defiantly stomping down the hall to make his bed.

"Alright, class... I want you to think about what you want to be when you grow up. Okay, Jason, let's hear you first."
"I want to be a sniper, so I can kill my parents." The boy had an active imagination - most children want to be assassins, but he knew exactly what kind he'd be.
"A sniper, eh?" she asked with an encouraging smile on her face.
"Yeah, a close-range sniper! I want to see that bitch go down with my own eyes.... fuck looking through a scope!"
"Well, why not use a knife or sword?"
"What do I look like, some kind of pussy?"
Nobody noticed Michael's nervous reaction; his answer of 'sword ninja' would have to be rethought.

Jason was watching cartoons, with the volume turned up to overpower his mother's nagging. That's when he first noticed a man dressed in black, trying to sneak in through the back door. "Shit, a close-range sniper!"
It was foolish of him to yell that out, because it alerted the sniper to his failed attempt at stealth. The sniper quickened his pace to try to get to Jason's mother before the boy could warn her.
"She's mine, asshole... go snipe out someone else!"
The sniper was racing Jason down the hall, when Jason's mom yelled out, "No running in the house!" They both stopped.
"Fuck it, take that bitch out."
"Thanks, kid."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


When Marcos and I got home from buying ice-cream, the house was strangely quiet. We had rushed home, knowing that the dinner that Megan had prepared would be already waiting on the table. Marcos wanted to run in and eat his dinner as fast as possible, because he couldn't wait to try out the flavor of ice-cream that he had picked out. It just hit me so hard to go from this rushed excitement, to abruptly be slapped with the reality of stepping into a silent house. I knew right away that something was wrong.

Maria had taken the baby to their room, and Megan was in the kitchen by herself, silently staring blankly out the window. Neither Marcos nor I were sure what to make of the scene, and he wasn't sure how to act. He looked at his mother with a deep concern that you never expect to see in such a carefree, young child. He took my hand, and waited for me to somehow fix things.

"What's wrong, what happened?"
She knew that we were there, but didn't respond to my questions. Her eyes shut tight for a moment, and it was then that I noticed that she had been crying.
"Meg, are you okay?"
She paused a moment before answering, but she didn't turn to face me, nor did she open her eyes. "The police came by."
"Why, what happened?! Is Maria okay?"
My question seemed to break her from her stupor. She turned around to look at me, and said, "No, ... no, it wasn't anything like that... " She looked at my worried expression for a moment, remembering again that just like her, I was concerned about the family. She seemed to again see me as a husband and father, but when she regained her train of thought, her expression again changed. "They were looking for the knife that killed that woman."

This was a very strange thing for me to hear, especially in the context of being so fearful that someone had been hurt. I've been thinking about that split-second since it passed... a father's fear suddenly transformed into a fear of a different kind, and the concern that someone may have been hurt suddenly transformed into knowing that someone was hurt, but it not mattering as much as the chance of being caught. For just a second, I forgot about my family, and was alone in the room... it was so strange, because I never stop thinking about them... it made me wonder if I remembered them when I did it... was it for them, or was it for me?

My mind quickly recovered, and I could again feel my son's hand in mine. I remembered where I was, but not soon enough for her last hope in me to be salvaged. I don't know what expression she saw on my face... I wasn't to be found behind it, but apparently the expression was revealing. As my eyes came back into focus, I found hers staring wide at me; she seemed shocked and conflicted.

"I... I don't understand, Manuel... why?"
"I don't know... it just happened."
"But you've been so wonderful lately... you've been the husband I've always dreamed of, ever since..." She stopped herself from saying more as she looked off to the side slightly, seeming to piece things together. I don't know if she understood... I barely understood, but something clicked in her, and as much as she wanted to hate me, her confliction prevented her from taking a clear stance. She quickly looked back at me, as if to ask a question, but she couldn't seem to form the words.
"I think it just had to happen... I think I needed it."
She seemed to understand, but not understand. Despite everything that she thought about people who do such things, she seemed to realize that it had made everything so much better for all of us. A forgiving and loving smile seemed to approach her lips just slightly, when Marcos said, "Mommy, are you okay now?"
She looked at Marcos, and any trace of that smile simply fell away. I watched her posture straighten slightly, as if she was building up some sort of inner strength... I watched her intently, hoping that her smile would return... that simple smile that would indicate a happy ending to all of this. It never came.

She held Marcos in her gaze as she spoke to me. "Maria found it before they could; I think you'll be safe. It's in the drawer over there... just take it and go." She was looking so intently at Marcos, as if he was the source of her newfound resolve.

"Just go, Manuel."

She didn't look up; her eyes were locked onto Marcos. As I sadly let go of his hand, she snatched it from me, and pulled him toward her. I silently took the knife and began to leave the room, watching her all the while. I was hoping that she'd at least give me a glance, if not that smile that I so longed for; she gave me neither.

Monday, March 28, 2005

what to be

I think a lot about my role in life - about what I'm seeking to pull out of this human experience, and what affect I'd like to have on things.

I do have a certain love for the normal life. I like knowing myself capable of normal things, and also that in some ways, I'm exceptional. Competition, compensation for feelings of inferiority... a man can thrive on this. This can be that which he feeds on and eventually chokes on. I do enjoy it - I enjoy knowing it's in me, but I can't imagine making a life of it. It's but a lesson to give the human experience a sort of context; if mistaken for the human experience, it becomes a distraction.

I also enjoy knowing. Thinking observing, writing things like this - it feels closer to me. Casting experiences into a useful form, and finding myself within them. I'm more curious than competitive, and I think I'm better at this than the other. People read me, minds find pieces for themselves, but still, it reveals such limitations. Every answer asks numerous questions, and I am hidden beneath them. Minds can't find me this way, they're too occupied with scraps and fragments.

I don't think I live to be human; I think I live to be humanity. I want to be every tear of pain and joy, in every eye that can or can't see the answer laid out before it. I want to be the loudest cry, the softest whimper, and the breadth in-between. I want to be the question and the answer, the reason for asking, the excitement in sharing, and the fear of being revealed. I want to be the very breath we breathe, the active force that draws it, and the consciousness of it being drawn. I want to be all of us, as me.

I don't know what that makes me, and I don't know why.

Friday, March 25, 2005


This is a still moment. A pausing between events and emotions, a break from pretending. Let the sounds of those around and within me play their own games, while I stand off to the side. I become separate; I regain perspective.

Why do we put ourselves here? Flooding our lives with experiences, hoping that a trace of what we touch will make itself known. We live and live, but how often do we learn? How many sounds and textures manage to break the surface – what portion finds its way to us? Experience screams so loud that it drowns itself out, its message failing to reach this tired mind.

I only had a moment to remember – their world is again calling for me. It’s demanding that I set down my pen, wear a respectful smile, and return to pretending. It’s begging me to forget; memory makes us too real. Life has no patience or allowance for anything of significance. I could drown in days like this.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

a bad day for Mathias

I was in line at McDonalds when their breakfast cut-off time hit. They made sure that everyone who was in line before 10:30 had the option of ordering from the breakfast menu, but started making the big transition to lunch. The hashbrown cookers suddenly transformed into gourmet french-fry chefs, imitation egg mix was substituted for imitation ground beef, and cranks were turned to switch the menu display.

“You guys aren’t serving breakfast?!” A whiney bitch in McDonalds… what were the odds?
“No, Ma’am, we start serving lunch at 10:30,” the manager said. I’m sure this conversation was part of the 10:30 daily ritual for him.
“Who eats breakfast at 10:30?!”
The manager shrugged at her and continued working.
“I can’t believe this! It’s 10:33!!” I did a bit of math in my head and decided that 10:33 is, in fact, after 10:30.
The manager ignored her and took the next order.
“You just lost a customer!”
The manager seemed devastated.

Shawanda was partially in the right here. Apparently, some people do prefer breakfast at 10:30 AM, and possibly even at 10:33 AM, but what she probably failed to realize is that the manager was following the corporate standard for his demographic. That’s right – believe it or not, McDonalds hires morons so that they don’t have to pay them jack shit. Most think this to be a coincidental trend, but they actually do it intentionally. Because it’s no mistake that their employees are idiots, they’re able to plan ahead for those employees’ idiocy. They don’t trust such morons to make business decisions… all the decisions are made from afar, by people who are qualified to do so. Silly Shawanda… the manager’s GED qualifies him to be a chain manager, but it doesn’t qualify him to decide when lunch begins – that’s a job for the professionals.

“Mathias, come in and sit down.”
”Yes, Sir,” he said nervously.
“It seems that we just lost a customer in Manhattan.”
“Oh, really? I hadn’t heard…”
“How could you not know?! It’s all over the papers!”
“Oh… oh yes, Shawanda Williams… she prefers breakfast at 10:33 AM.”
“And why weren’t we able to provide that service for her?”
“Well, after years of research, it was decided that the most profit was to be made by an immediate transition to lunch at 10:30 in most of the metropolitan areas of New York.”
“Our stocks are plummeting, Mathias! Word is out… Shawanda has gone elsewhere for her breakfast!
“Well, McDonalds’ policies have always been about pleasing the largest possible customer base with substandard products. Quantity over quality…”
”Quantity?! Since when did McDonalds ever care about quantity?”
“Our most famous slogan is ‘over one billion served’…”
”Get out of my office!”
Mathias was demoted to chain manager later that afternoon.

McDonalds serves the worst coffee known to man. After grabbing my food, I went to the restaurant next door, to get some coffee to go. Low and behold, Shawanda was in line ahead of me, buying some sort of breakfast sandwich. She had a victorious smile on her face.

“That’ll be $8.49, Ma’am.”
Shawanda tried to hold her smile as she thought, “That’s too much for an egg on a roll! You just lost a customer; I’m going to McDonalds next time.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

daddy's little girl: perspective #3

Maria didn't think anything of the visitors at the door until she heard the fear in her mother's voice. When one of the men said, "Megan Ortega, we have a warrant to search your house," she knew what was happening. This was the moment she feared and secretly expected to come.

She knew he did it - she had seen it in his eyes when he so casually told her that such a notion was ridiculous, but it wasn't real to her until this moment. It didn't matter until now... her father could do whatever he did, and it wouldn't involve her; she now had to decide how involved she would be. She didn't have to make that decision - it came to her naturally.

She put the baby in her crib and stepped into the hall to see what was happening. Two men walked past her, trailed by her mother. She recognized the second man, and for a moment thought that he would say hello to her, but he instead frowned and quickly broke off eye contact. Her mother followed them into the kitchen; she seemed upset and distracted, probably unaware of what this meant.

"We're going to need to take any knives, scissors, or other bladed objects with us; please stand over there, Ma’am." As Maria heard the sounds of silverware being taken from the drawer and put into a bag, it finally hit her. She wasn't sure if they knew what they were looking for, but she now knew. She'd seen her father stare at that knife for minutes at a time, as if he had somehow stuffed all of his memories into its nicked and worn blade, and was trying to read them back out of it. This was the first time that she visualized him in the act, killing that helpless woman with that same contemplative look on his face... she vigorously shook her head and forced the image from her mind. She had to focus; she had to save him.

They were too busy looting the kitchen to notice her running to her parents' bedroom. In two minutes of horrifying panic, but unshakable resolve, she searched the room with every ounce of stealth and speed that she could invoke in herself. Finally, in the back of a drawer by the bed, behind some books and a pile of photographs, it met her hand. It was wrapped in an old cloth, but she could feel the flat of the blade through its wrapping.

After taking it into her hand, her panic quickly gave way to deep questioning. She stared at the object in her hand, picturing its form under the wrinkles of the cloth that contained it, wondering why this little object mattered so much to him. Why this? What did her father see when he looked at it so intently? How could he do such a thing?

The sound of footsteps in the hall brought with it the sense of urgency that she had momentarily forgotten. She slid the knife, still in its cloth, into the back of her pants, and pulled her sweatshirt over the part left exposed. By the time the bag of blades came to claim her father's knife, it wasn't to be found.

She made herself unseen until the men had already been gone for a while. In the kitchen, she found her mother still upset, still not understanding what had occurred, and having no idea what she had done. She wondered if she did the right thing, or if she was as bad as him.... that question confused her even more, because she still couldn't imagine him doing something so horrible. Her mother was busy pouring the burnt stew into the sink, but Maria couldn't keep this to herself anymore; she hugged her mother from behind, and began crying, with her face pressed up against her mother's lower back. Megan was startled at first; she asked Maria why she was so upset, but in ten minutes time she would deeply regret having asked that question.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

daddy's little girl: perspective #2

Megan was preparing dinner when she heard the knock at the door. Her husband and son were out buying ice-cream for dessert, and Maria was in the living room watching the baby. This was going to be a nice, quiet night with the family; she had been looking forward to it all day.

She wasn't expecting company, but surprise visitors were always welcome. She had already darted halfway out of the kitchen when she remembered that the stew was about to come to a boil. "Oh, damn!" she exclaimed as she stood there, trying to decide on a course of action. She finally ran back to the stove, lowered the temperature slightly, and hurried over to the front door.

"Hi, Mike!" It had been a long time since she'd seen her childhood friend, but she really enjoyed their occasional conversations. "How are you..." she wondered who the other man was as she uttered these words, but it then struck her that this may not have been a social visit. The look on Mike's face confirmed her suspicions. "What's going on?"

She really had no idea why they were there, and her 'friend' was just standing there awkwardly, leaving her to fend for herself. While the other man handed her a warrant and told her that her home was about to be invaded, Mike did nothing to defend her. She expected him to stick up for her, or to at least tell the other police officer that she wasn't a criminal, but he didn't lift a finger. She looked at him, pleading for his help, and said, "Why?!"

Mike didn't answer right away. He stood there judging her with his eyes. He clearly thought her some sort of lowlife scoundrel, and had come to her door, just before dinner, for the sole purpose of accusing her. She was betrayed. She still hoped that he'd rip the warrant out of her hands and defend her innocence, but he instead said, "I'm sorry, Meg. Just let us in, and it'll be over soon."

Tears of anger welled up. He was using their friendship against her. He was taking advantage of her vulnerability to further his career. All those years that she bragged about his work as a police officer, and this was how he repaid her. He had never been a friend, and now his true nature was exposed. When the other man violently pushed her out of the way to gain entry, Mike did nothing but carelessly walk right in after him.

Monday, March 21, 2005

daddy's little girl: perspective #1

Mike internalized his thoughts on the situation as he followed his partner up the steps.

"I'm not so wild about doing this, Trev."
"Just let me handle it."
"No.... she should hear it from a friend."

Mike knew Trevor's lack of a response as a response of its own. This was a hard situation; the job often crossed over into personal relationships. Mike had known Meg since grade school, and although they didn't speak often, he had always considered her a friend. He hoped that she'd still think the same of him after today.

After Trevor knocked on the door, both he and Mike instinctually rested their right hands on their holstered guns. Catching a glimpse of how threatening his partner looked in that stance, Mike quickly let his hand fall loose to his side, not knowing what else to do with it. He was there as a cop, but was also a friend. He put an awkward smile on his face in preparation for the door opening, but a stern look from his partner reminded him that this was a serious situation. He again wore a commanding face, but his hand remained hanging at his side. The door then opened, and a familiar face appeared.

"Hi, Mike!" she said in a tone of cheerful surprise. "How are you..." as she realized that two uniformed policemen were standing at her door, a touch of hesitancy appeared in her voice. "What's going on?"

Mike opened his mouth to speak, but wasn't sure what to say.

Recovering for his partner, Trevor pulled the document from his pocket and offered it to the woman. "Megan Ortega, we have a warrant to search your house."

Quickly looking to Mike for guidance, she fearfully exclaimed, "Why?!"

Mike waited for Trevor to respond, but Trevor instead gave him a supportive look. "I'm sorry, Meg. Just let us in, and it'll be over soon."

As tears began to form in her eyes, she stared at Mike angrily. It pained him greatly, but the job had to be done. He looked back at her with apologetic compassion, but he wasn't sure if it came out as a smile or a frown. He found himself unable to penetrate her anger.

Seeing the situation becoming too emotional, Trevor pushed his way past Meg, into the house. Mike sighed deeply and followed him inside.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

subway adventure

After work on Friday, I was on the subway, on my way to have dinner with an old friend. We don't see each other that often, but used to hang out a lot and did a number of gigs together, when we both lived in New Orleans. I was coming straight from work, but it was a Friday, so I was in jeans.

Out of nowhere, came an old lady who looked to be in her nineties. There's a special bench for people with special needs, which is akin to handicap parking, but the open spot next to me was closer to the door that she came in through. She was really slow, and it was clear that she wanted to sit somewhere fast, before the subway started to move.

As she sat down, I quickly looked at her ass, to see if it was wet. It looked a little damp, but it may have been a shadow. It didn't look drippy wet or anything, but I only got a quick glance.

I lasted about three seconds before I put my hand on the bench between us. She was probably too old to notice, and others probably thought that I was hoping to brush my hand up against her wrinkled ass, but really, I just wanted my hand to intercept any puddles of urine coming my way. Getting piss on my hand would be fucking disgusting, but it'd be an easier situation to deal with than getting her piss in my jeans.

I couldn't handle the anticipation for long. At the next stop, I got up and stood by the door that I'd eventually use to exit the subway car. People rush over to the exits long before it's necessary all the time, so I just looked like another New York moron who can't fucking sit still. This was a strategic maneuver intended to spare the old lady's feelings, but also to save me from getting her piss all over me.

I mentioned the situation to my friend when I met up with her a few minutes later. I told her that I believed it to have been caused by a purely rational fear. I think she agreed... she fucking better have.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

poetry submission

I'm lost to myself right now
sitting down to write, wondering why it matters
why put forth the effort?
yes, yes... this is an outlet for obsessive thinking
but right now, the mind wants to sleep
yet these fingers remain active
writing these words of their own design
-a sort of doodling touching on diligence
decisions come with more resistance than questions
and with new decisions made,
I'm left feeling drained
and maybe even fulfilled
touched by the promise of new things thrust into motion,
I just want to sit back and observe for a while
to let life live itself through me
while pretending that I'm really here
I'll let you read of and into me,
but sometimes I'm harder to reach than you'd imagine
-sometimes I barely am

Friday, March 18, 2005


There's a guy who serves my coffee at a little bagel joint by work, who told me that he's fulfilled his dreams. We have short, casual conversations daily, and he once managed to slip this statement in. The very thought of it sends my mind into numerous directions.

This guy's working ten to twelve hour days, seven days a week, for a low wage. He's putting the extra time in right now, simply because they're allowing him to; I sense that he'd do more if given the opportunity. Spanish is his first language, though he speaks English well; I'm guessing that he's from Mexico or somewhere further south. He probably has a lot less going for him than I have, and when he said that he's accomplished his goals, I assumed that his goals were related to becoming established here. That's a safe, but broad assumption, and because it was so poorly formed, I'm going to instead leave the question open. I didn't ask him what his dreams were... that's a little odd, it seems like such an obvious question.

I don't think I've ever accomplished a dream. In fact, if you asked me what my dreams are, I wouldn't have an answer. If you name your goals and succeed, what does your life become after that point... basking in your former accomplishments? If you name them and fail to see them fulfilled, it taints everything that you did accomplish in life with your primary failure. In defining our dreams, we're defining ourselves.... we're putting a label on who we are, and that's forever the standard by which we'll be weighed.

Who are we? It looks great on paper to be someone who can be characterized and summarized, but is that what we should be seeking? What's more significant - a lifetime, or each moment lived?

I have some definite directions that I hold to, but not goals. "Don't you want to be a musician?" No, I am a musician. "Do you want to be a successful one?" I don't know. "What about this writing stuff?" I'm writing, so I guess that makes me a writer, but beyond that, I have no idea. I'm just me, here, right now... one who's accomplished nothing in life, and has nothing to accomplish. I've been accused of being happier in the last few years, but I've never been accused of being happy. Motives, thoughts, and emotions last about as long as it took me to write this, and each next step can potentially take me anywhere. There's no winning or losing for me, there's just the game being played.

I don't buy into all this status shit; a man is what he thinks and feels. According to our culture's economic mindset, I have much more than the guy who serves my coffee, but that's not what I see, and I don't think that's what he sees. He's whatever he sees himself as, and he sees himself as someone who's accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish in life. I both envy and pity him for that.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

raven's rollercoaster ride

When I woke up that morning, my friend was already gone. It was probably around noon, and he had the courtesy to let me sleep, but not to stick around. It didn't matter; I'd just play his bass guitar for an hour or two until he came to get me. Time and activity were irrelevant on Saturdays when I was seventeen.

After getting up from my usual place on the floor, I kicked my blanket and pillow into the corner of the room, and plugged his bass in. I was barely halfway through the day's first song, when my friend's younger brother came into the room. "Cool, you're finally awake... I want to show you something."

Everyone in this family was a unique character, and my friend's fourteen-year-old brother was no exception. He was my brother's age, and my dad still hated him from years ago, when he squirted liquid soap into our fishbowl, which was inhabited at the time. He wasn't much different at fourteen, which is why I liked him. He was mischievous, ballsy, and impressionable - everything you want in a friend's little brother.

There's one sibling left unaccounted for at this point, Raven. Raven was their three-year-old sister. She was sophisticated in many ways, modeled after their mother, but she was also just a child. She wore makeup and high-heels, but carried dolls around. She was also engaging and affectionate, but she'd often snub you, because you weren't cool enough to socialize with her and her dolls. At three, she already had her own twist on the family heritage of being cool and intriguing, yet enigmatic.

Raven was waiting in the hall, excited to participate in whatever trick my friend's little brother was going to show me. I was barely awake at this point, but followed the two of them to the living room. He sat down on the couch, put Raven on his lap facing toward him, and made sure that I was looking.

He hugged her sweetly and said, "I love you, Raven." Without any delay, she responded in kind and hugged her brother, with a big smile on her face. After a few seconds of this, he grabbed her by the shoulders, whipped her back to an upright sitting position, quickly looked her in the eyes, and growled, "I hate you!" Raven instantly burst into tears, while I burst into laughter.

Hugging her again, while rubbing her back, he said, "I was just kidding, Raven... I love you." Her crying stopped immediately, and her smile returned. The experience of a moment before was very traumatic for her, and she seemed glad to have her big brother there to console her. The consoling only lasted for a few seconds before he again thrust her back and angrily proclaimed his hatred toward her.

This went on for a little while, with her reactions instantly following the lead of her brother's demeanor. I wanted to tell him to stop, but I was laughing so hard that I could barely breathe, let alone speak. Really though, what did I know about raising a three-year-old anyway?

I think that the story could be used as a metaphor for the emotional ups and downs of familial interaction, contrasting the stoic environment in which I was raised. Maybe it could then be said that my friend's little brother was somewhat deep, showing me what family is really about. I mean, Raven was experiencing both the best and worst of her brother in quick, potent doses, and I was given the unique opportunity to witness this interaction first hand. This little girl knew that she was both loved and hated - most people don't learn that until many years later. I consider her lucky in a way.

My friend's little brother was sharing this intimate moment with me, and I think that he taught me a powerful lesson... some would say that he must have been a teacher of sorts. I instead like to think that he was just an asshole kid who wanted to make me laugh my ass off before I even had a chance to take my morning piss. Lucky for me, I have one of the most controlled bladders known to man.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Life often seems so vague and untouched, like a dream that shifts in and out of focus. To be so overwhelmed by the moment, then to step back and question that moment's significance - I feel like there's more than one me wearing this skin.

They say that in the moment before your death, your life flashes before your eyes. Maybe this defines me, maybe I'm trapped in that moment. I own my mortality; it's here with me, holding my hand. It's whispering in my ear, speaking of ends wrapped up in beginnings. Life is passing by before me, just out of reach, just beyond my grasp... and so I see, I marvel, and I maybe live.

But that's the point, isn't it? Haven't we just been dying since our birth? This view of the whole doesn't care about the present - it cares what the present resolves into. Every silver lining accentuates a dark cloud, and therein is the real meat to life, the part we gloss over. Why can't we find beauty there?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

rand the hatchet #4

James and his brother, Peter, stood quietly in the crowd. The ceremony hadn't yet begun, but it would soon. An often overlooked aspect of funerals is that the moment of waiting can be more intense than anything that transpires during the actual event; there's a certain climactic energy to the silence that sometimes serves as a nice starting point for stories like this.

"This is really pissing me off, Pete. This just isn't right." James kept his voice down for obvious reasons.
"It'll all be over soon, Jim... don't do anything stupid."
"It just isn't right. It's just not right."

Ted's widow and his two teen-aged children were close enough to hear them, but Peter figured that they weren't bothering to listen. Ted's wife wasn't making a peep, but her head was tucked down into her lap, and her entire upper body was shaking violently; Peter assumed that she was crying. He observed James staring intently at the casket, with a silent rage that he knew all too well. "Just don't do anything stupid."

The company limo pulled up gracefully, and two girls solemnly stepped out. They were wearing their ceremonial robes, which were crimson in color, and looked to be made of a thick, heavy fabric. They slowly ventured toward the podium, scattering rose petals, creating a beautiful and colorful path. James and Peter couldn't hear the words that they were chanting, but already knew their song, "Make way, make way, for he is coming."

"This is all his fault, Pete."
"He'll hear you, Jim..."
"He just shouldn't be here."
The brothers bowed their heads along with everyone else, as Rand emerged from the darkness of the limousine.

Rand was in his everyday-wear, consisting of a flowing purple robe, with gold sewn into the sleeves and collar. This robe only had a ten-foot train, and he wasn't even wearing his formal Papal hat. He was dressed like he was stopping off at the funeral just after doing some grocery shopping. Ted's widow started weeping harder when she saw that only two girls were carrying the train of Rand's robe.

Most of the people at the funeral were Ted's friends or peers; these were people from an age that was quickly diminishing. These people grew up playing catch in the street, waiting eagerly for the ice-cream man to drive by. Rand's era was a time of progress... this created a world that they just couldn't keep up with. This was a time of computer games, easily accessible pornography, and wars fueled by economics... this was a time when things made sense for once. They were lost in this era... they didn't have the energy anymore to toss a ball around with their kids, and they couldn't afford to get them ice-cream. They were quickly dying out, and Ted's failure was just a bit of Rand's reality slapping them in the face. As Rand finally arrived at the podium, one of the girls who had scattered flower petals rang a bell, and the entire crowd stood tall and sang, "He was coming, we made way, and now he is here."

Rand pretended to survey the crowd, but wasn't really paying attention. "I want to thank you all for coming, but today, we're here to honor Ted. Ted lived a good life, until he finally decided to end it, leaving his loved ones to fend for themselves."

Ted's widow started weeping audibly.

"Ted was an adequate sandwich delivery boy, and at fifty-six years of age, he was the oldest delivery boy at the deli."

James' face took on a darker shade of red, and his hands clenched into fists.

"Having to work two jobs to fund his son's three years of junior college, Ted's fire quickly burned out, much like his son's education did."

Peter noticed his brother's knuckles turning white, but lacked the courage to say anything.

"His friends called him a good man, with a big heart. He was just one of the guys; he was very.... average."

James couldn't stand it anymore. "Ted was a data processor!"

The entire crowd gasped, and even Ted's family looked back at James in horror.

Peter's heart dropped. He wanted to save his brother, but didn't know if it was possible anymore.

One of the girls pulled a crossbow out from the folds of her robe, but before she could aim it at James, Rand lifted a hand, signaling that it was okay. Pretending to make eye contact with the crowd, Rand continued, "This is true. Ted was once a data processor at my company until we automated his job. Even though he wasn't very good at doing..."

"Ted was a good man, and you ruined his life!" James had gone too far; Peter backed away from him slowly.

"Son, the Lord works in mysterious ways." While the rest of the crowd responded in unison by saying, "Amen," James approached the podium so that he could look Rand in the face.

"You're a monster! You take pleasure in ruining the lives of good people!"

Rand sighed and nodded at one of the girls in robes. Before Rand could say, "Forgive him Lord... he knows not what he does," a shuriken was lodged into James' ankle, causing him to lose his balance and fall backward into Ted's open grave. His screams of pain pierced the ears of all around. Rand glanced down to see that James' left leg was folded under him, and other bones appeared to be broken as well. His cries were finally muffled when the casket was lowered, and dirt was thrown into the grave.

After the crowd sang the 'Baptism of Earth' song (a joyous hymn about forgiveness) for both Ted and James, the clouds above parted, and a booming voice resounded, "This is Rand the Hatchet, with whom I am pleased."

Monday, March 14, 2005

dumb question

I hate it when magazines answer the question before they ask it.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

astounded but not speechless: decay

There's an old lady that sits near my desk at work. She's been with the company for twenty years easily, and is a section supervisor. She's dying.

She's very nice, and we tease each other a bit throughout the day. It's really light teasing... the toned down kind that you do with old people who grew up watching silent movies that would put one-line captions on the screen, expecting their viewers to read at the speed of eight-year-olds; they just didn't have room on the screen for vulgarity. When I go for coffee, she asks me what I brought back for her, and I give her the brown bag that my coffee and muffin came in... she also gets the few muffin crumbs that are sitting at the bottom of the bag. When she looks over at me, trying to hold back a smirk, asking me if I brought her anything to eat, it's like she's saying, "Rand, my body and mind are falling to pieces. I'm dying, Rand... please don't let me die."

She doesn't use a cane, but she has a pretty cool cane that folds up into three sections... it's locked up in a drawer in her desk. I've never seen her use that cane... most probably think that she has it because she's old and has arthritis on particularly cold days. I think that she has it because she knows that the day is soon coming that she won't be able to walk without it. I'm guessing that she has a walker and a lung-machine hidden in the closet... there's nothing wrong with being prepared for the inevitable.

I think that she's married... nobody wears wedding rings around here, so it's hard to pick up the details when you don't really care to ask. She's mentioned preparing dinner for 'us'... so I assume that 'us' includes a husband. Maybe he's already dead, and she still prepares him dinner so that she feels a little less lonely. Dead or not, I picture this guy resenting her long nights of weeping, seeing death coming for her.... too afraid to just end it prematurely. Really though, what's the difference between a few weeks?

I don't work long days... my time is valuable. She's here hours before I come in the morning, and stays at least an hour after I leave. You're probably thinking, "God... they're working her to death," but no, that's not what's killing her. Old age is killing her... it's eating away at her bones and curving her over. It's pricking her fiercely when her joints are pushed too far, and it's mocking her whenever she looks in the mirror... as her skin hangs loosely off of her face. The memories of her youth taunt her day and night, reminding her of how little she's accomplished, and how incapable she now is of accomplishing anything more.

She got a haircut recently; I could already see her scalp, but after a haircut, it's even more visible. When she wears long-sleeved shirts, she puts rubberbands on the sleeves, so that when she pushes them up, they stay in place; I'm guessing that she doesn't like to push her sleeves up too often. Bone grinds against bone as she bends her elbows.

"Hey, is that a new perfume you're wearing today?"
"No.... that's just the stench of my impending death."
"Hmm, smells a bit like strawberries."
"Common mistake... it's actually composed mostly of lye... it smells fruity because as you breathe it in, it's eating away at your olfactory sensors... much like the way that time is eating away at every barely functioning part of my body. I'm withering away, Rand... please... save me. Oh god, I think I just shit myself."
"Weird... your shit smells fruity too... that lye is really something."

She's a nice lady; I think I'll push her down the stairs to end her misery.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi.

The picturebook still sits open, but its pages are never turned. Every face but one stares at her blankly. Only one of these faces had ever truly seen her; only one ever made her see herself.

She finds comfort in watching him, pretending to live behind closed doors, pretending that it's real. As much as she longs to bring him close, she can't reach into the page. She holds him in her mind, pretending that it's enough.

Sometimes, she listens for a knock at her door, but no one ever comes to release her. He once tried, but she turned him away, taking this piece of him instead. They stare into each other's eyes, but she is hidden from his sight. Conjuring memories of his voice and touch, she returns to the moment that holds her captive, trying to forget what could have been.

Friday, March 11, 2005


i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi.

Their meal now finished, and one glass of wine deep, she knew that she would spend the rest of her life staring into his eyes. Another moment of silence came, but this one was filled with an expectation. She waited in the safety of his presence, until he finally said what she was hoping to hear. "I'd like to see you again." She answered him with a smile, and this time didn't turn away.

She knew there was something about this that wouldn't last, so it was decided that she would capture the moment. When he reached across the table to touch her hand, her hands were already busy pulling the camera from her purse. It wasn't until she was staring through the camera's lens that she realized what it meant. This lens had always been her shield, but now she knew it as her prison... a closed door that she didn't have the courage to be free of. As the smile faded from her face, that look of warm concern returned to his. He again stared into her, reaching past the lens. Her finger fell... the deed was done.

After she sadly put the camera back into her purse, she had trouble engaging his eyes; there would be time enough for that later. Although his hand was still extended, he would quickly learn to take it back. She didn't know if he understood. She wasn't hearing his words or feeling his touch... his expression was now locked into place, and he'd only ever be a name, a face, and a memory.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi.

New realizations and understandings built up to this moment, but this was more than a moment... this would be a memory. He had asked a question, and she was taking her time in forming an answer, but the question didn't matter - his eyes were doing more questioning than his words. The silence they shared allowed them to share so much more, and this first night that he was truly seeing her was the first night that she was truly seeing herself.

She now understood its reality. Once locked away alone, behind doors closed by her fears, she now feared going back. This was real, but it still felt safe. There was something in this that had captivated her; she would be owned by this moment.

No words were being spoken, and he was beyond her reach, but she had the memory of his voice and the memory of his touch. Their eyes interlocked in a moment that seemed it would last forever. She knew she'd never be the same; she now understood and felt too much. Her fate had been chosen for her.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi.

They emerged into a crowd of people waiting for their tables. There was something too real to the scene... nameless faces attached to bodies... failing to look at her, but standing there able. She didn't have the power to lock them away, but he was there. For now, he could see her.

He only left her for a moment, but didn't leave her sight. She stood stiff, fearing the scene that he had thrust her into, yet she found some comfort in watching him. She tried to imagine him on the page, to hold his image in her mind. By the time he returned, their place had been claimed, as had his. He didn't smile when he came close, but looked at her with warm concern. She realized that her fear was visible, and wanted to smile to show him that she was alright, but she was too shaken to pretend. He looked into her; this was the image of him that would stay with her forever.

As they walked through the crowd, his hand gently met her lower back, and suddenly she understood the difference. His soft touch was guiding her in a way she hadn't before known, and a new kind of comfort seemed to wash over her. She acknowledged his touch with a slight smile, but only turned her head back toward him so far. She wondered if he saw her smiling at him; she wondered if he ever would.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi.

The doorknob rested in her hand patiently, waiting to be pulled into the room, but she wasn't yet ready. It was moments like these that she could do without, but life can't be experienced through closed doors. In preparing herself, she first realized how afraid she was. She didn't want him to see her fear. She took a deep breath, and tried to form the right face to greet him with. The door was then finally welcomed inside.

She waited until the gap was wide enough to release her before looking up at him. He smiled at her just enough to show his interest, but not enough to offend her fragility. His eyes were soft and kind, and there was a courage in him that she didn't share, but was deeply drawn to. "It's good to see you."

She let him hold her gaze for just a moment as she realized how unusually safe she felt with him. They had shared a few short conversations before this night, and when he had asked to take her out, she accepted without having to convince herself to do so; she now remembered why. She was reserved, yet clever... clever enough to know that his words were carefully chosen. She could tell that he saw how shy she was, but accepted her anyway. She caught herself smiling back at him more than she was comfortable with, and blushed slightly. Her eyes quickly returned to the door as she closed it behind her.

Monday, March 07, 2005


i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi.

She flipped through the pages of the photo album, pausing briefly to examine each face that stared back at her. She was nervous about the date, but looking at these photos calmed her; there was a certain safety that they were able to impart. Her life was captured by these pages.

The photographs didn't represent memories, but moments. These were snapshots of her life... faces with names scribbled below, as if she'd otherwise forget what to call them. The book reminded her of how many she'd met, but now it was asking how many she'd known. Names and faces... she wondered who these people were.

Her question was interrupted by a cautious knock at the door. She closed the picturebook and slid it under the bed, fearing that he might somehow find it. She swept the wrinkles out of the bedspread and stood a few feet back to make sure that the book was well hidden. Her secret was safe; he wouldn't know where to find her.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

banana update

This is unfortunately the last you'll ever see of these bananas.

mama's boy

I just caught myself speaking to a car that was honking outside my window. He was holding the horn down, which is really loud and distracting for those of us who happen to live in these cozy luxury apartments. Anyway, after about three seconds of that guy sitting on the horn, I caught myself saying, "Please stop that."

It's funny... I'm here alone in my apartment, talking to a driver of a car who can't hear me, and I can still feel my Mom's parenting coming into play. Right as I finished saying my request aloud, it was like I could feel her watching me... waiting for me to finish the sentence. This is still ingrained in me from when I was very little... when I'd want something, and I'd request it, she'd sit there tapping her foot, waiting for me to show some manners and to finish the request off appropriately. The 'please' was in there, but that's only part of it.

I finished off with, "... before I fucking kill you?" I could then feel my Mom's nagging presence go away. That crazy old bitch.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


I'm never going to tell any of you who I work for, and I'm going to do my best to leave out every possible detail about my work itself. I've been talking a bit about my co-workers, but it's all really speculation about people that I don't know. If my employer or any future employer becomes aware of this site, I want them to rest assured that I'm not doing any negative PR for their company. If you somehow manage to figure out my company's name, please don't post it... I'll have to delete any such comments; I don't want this to in any way interfere with my job.

You'll notice that I haven't even mentioned the nature of the business that I work for, nor the actual work that I do for my company. We can do a little Q&A if you'd like I guess.

Q: Well, you mentioned that you're a software engineer at your company. Is this true?

A: Yes, that's right.

Q: And the company that you work for is very large, right?

A: Yes.

Q: What kind of programming do you do for them?

A: Okay, this is an interesting question. Usually, one is asked what languages he programs with, rather than the type of programming that he does. The nature of the programming done is really more reflective of the end result and purpose of the programs. I'm familiar with most computer languages (as they are all quite similar), and I am doing database programming and windows programming at this job.... perhaps that answers your question.

Q: Well, let me be more blunt here... what do your programs do?

A: I guess I don't have a way out of this one. My programs are used to guide elevator logic.

Q: You write programs for elevators?

A: Yes.

Q: I don't get it... what the fuck is there to do? You push a button, and the elevator goes to that floor....

A: Let's keep this civil... I'm better at this shit than you are... I'll fucking crush you...

Q: I'm sorry. I'll rephrase my question...

A: Seriously, I'll make your stupid ass cry.

Q: I know. Okay... I don't understand exactly what your programs would do to guide elevators. Could you expand?

A: Elevator logic isn't quite as simple as you'd think. When you push a button to call an elevator to your floor, if there's more than one elevator, logic has to be in place to decide which elevator should come to your floor. When you're in an elevator and you push a button, the elevator might not simply go to that floor... what about picking up people along the way? It's the little things that most people overlook; that's why I'm so good... I think of the details.

Q: I still don't get why this would be a full-time position.

A: Okay... here's a little bit of elevator theory for you... I'll try to keep this in layman's terms. Say that you're on the second floor, and you press the '6' button. Does the elevator have to go straight to the sixth floor?

Q: I'd say so, yes.

A: Hah! Why couldn't it go to the eighth floor first, then come back to the sixth to drop you off?

Q: That would be fucking stupid... it'd be much better to just go straight to the sixth floor.

A: That's right. And do you know why everyone knows that?

Q: Well, common sense I guess...

A: Nope! They know that because we did years of research, testing out both methods. Guess who wrote the logic for both methods... ME!!!

Q: Why the fuck is your company so big? Why are there people on your floor doing data entry?

A: Wow, you don't know a damn thing about the elevator business, do you?

Q: Seriously Rand, you're a bit of an asshole, and now that I've heard you explain your job, I'm much less intimidated by you.

A: You know what we call people like you in the elevator business?

Q: No, and I don't really care to know.

A: We call you fucknuts! How do you like that?!

Q: Okay, I think this interview is over.

A: It sure is, fucknut!!!

Friday, March 04, 2005

rand vs. his apartment

6:35 PM - Rand gets home from work. He touches nothing related to piping... he takes off his jacket and sits at the computer. Even his pants stay on; Rand is a procrastinator.

6:39 PM - Rand hears a 'pop' in his bathroom, and it sounds like running water. He investigates to find that there is now water pouring out from underneath his sink. The water is steaming hot. Rand moves all of his belongings out of the path of destruction.

6:40 PM - Rand calls his super's cellphone, to leave a short message on his voicemail.. just chitchat really.

6:52 PM - Rand's buzzer rings. It turns out that it's some hack electricians that are working on the apartment one floor above and behind Rand's. Rand goes down to open the door by hand, since the button that's supposed to open the front door of the apartment complex doesn't actually do anything. The electricians look at the water that's pouring down from the ceiling in the walkway in amazement... it has nothing to do with the apartment that they were working on though... or does it? Time will tell... or will it?

7:05 PM - Rand wonders if he'll be able to shower in the next week. Rand recalls the last time that his bathroom was 'fixed'... there was a constant drizzle from the bathtub faucet (a separate faucet than that which controls the shower)... the drizzle was stopped, his bathtub faucet disabled, and the tile removed to expose wood and bare nails; a part would arrive in a week to allow them to finish the job, seven weeks ago.

7:08 PM - Rand feels fine, but notices his chest getting a little tight... Rand's mind is always the last to know of his anxiety status; his body is the second to last to know.

7:12 PM - Someone from the Indian Restaurant below the apartments rings Rand's doorbell to let him know that water is leaking from the restaurant's ceiling. Rand is thankful for this news.

7:25 PM - The super calls inquiring as to the source of the problem... Rand investigates a little closer to find that it's coming from the wall behind Rand's sink, not from his sink's pipes. The super is in in Long Island, and will rush over.. he'll arrive in one hour. He wants Rand to try to catch as much as he can in a pot. Rand puts a pot under there, finds it ineffective, and walks away. Rand will dump the pot out as soon as the super arrives, and will pretend to be tired from doing water catching for an hour.

7:33 PM - Rand, being a pioneer in plumbing and housecare, names this procedure a 'wall enema'. Rand is quite clever.

7:36 PM - The super calls Rand to see if the water has stopped; it hasn't. The super informs Rand that the hot water has been shut off by someone. Rand tells the super that he'll call him back in a couple minutes to let him know then if it has slowed yet.

7:40 PM - Rand calls the super to inform him that the water is, in fact, still going. Rand also notices that very little of the water is travelling through is apartment... most is going straight through the wall to the floor below.

7:44 PM - Rand hears some chick entering the building saying, "Oh my God..." in repetition. She knocks on Rand's door, they chat it up briefly. She says that the landlords never repair jack shit. She gave up trying, and has a dog, so she won't press her luck (pets aren't allowed). Rand has it penciled in on his lease that it's void if the bathtub isn't repaired... Rand has an out, should he ever need it.

7:50 PM - Rand decides that this counts as mopping his bathroom floor. Rand is now a responsible single male.

7:52 PM - Rand decides that it's okay for him to shower at the gym across the street if he should so desire. Rand may be gang raped tomorrow by a group of old men with lean, wrinkly dicks... Rand's favorite.

7:58 PM - Rand changes out of his workclothes, into his 'it's raining downstairs' clothes.

8:01 PM - Rand remembers that the chick said that she too sleeps with earplugs on because of the honking and loud radiators... she has a dispenser affixed to her wall. She offered Rand free earplugs any time he runs out. Rand decides to post this.

8:02 PM - Rand posts the earplug thing.

8:06 PM - The super calls Rand to see if it's still raining. "Yip." Super says that it might be the heating pipe. "Okay." Super's on his way. "Cool."

8:09 PM - 'It's raining' shoes, but work socks. Small oversight.

8:16 PM - Rand's bored... this happens around 8:16 on any given night though. This must mean that all is now well... except for the water thing.

8:19 PM - Rand relieves boredom slightly by opening a beer. He doesn't understand why it works, but there's some sort of time quantum shit that happens when alcohol is introduced to his bloodstream. Rand also has a theory that he has less blood than most people... meaning that he's more prone to quantum activity.

8:22 PM - Rand has no intention of ever eating these bananas.

8:25 PM - Rand realizes that things like this never happened when he was 28. Rand reminisces on the days of his youth. Rand's only a few sips into his beer, and can already feel it... Rand needs to eat more during the day, and he should also get more blood into his body somehow.

8:28 PM - Rand notices that the raining water is no longer hot. Cold showers tomorrow... or there's always the gang rape thing.

8:31 PM - Rand decides that if he had any friends, he'd have them over for a nice little formal cocktail party right now. All guests would be instructed to act surprised when the super barges in on their party, and to scoff when asked to step out of the bathroom... "We were in the middle of a conversation!"

8:33 PM - Rand thinks fondly of the $1,700 that he payed the real estate broker to find this apartment for him. Rand debates whether it's worth paying another such fee to find a new place or not... Rand doesn't know a way around going through a broker in NYC if he wants to get an apartment to himself. Rand decides to move in with a rich old lady, or perhaps an old man who Rand meets during a gang rape session.

8:35 PM - It's now been two hours since the pipe burst. Also, Rand realizes that he will now get a hell of a lot more web traffic because of the words 'gang rape' which appear on his site. 8zero8 had a similar idea recently, but posted words such as 'Pamela Anderson nude'. Silly 8zero8.

8:39 PM - The super arrives, sticks his hand under Rand's sink, gives the pipe a slight handjob, and the water stops. Rand's glad that he wasn't able to stop it two hours ago... Rand figures that this is a great way for the super to practice getting off his ass. Rand mentions the exposed boards and nails from the last project, but his comment is blown off. This is expected in this situation, but Rand figures the jab is called for.

8:41 PM - Rand's not sure if the adventure is really over... he has no idea if he should stop typing this shit yet. Rand can hear the shower dripping... separate issue.. one to never be resolved. Rand supposes that the adventure goes on, but the adventure can take on many forms.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

astounded but not speechless: Bobblehead

I'm terribly fortunate today. I had nothing planned to write about, but went to the cafeteria armed with pen and paper anyway. Completely devoid of inspiration, I sat at the smallest empty table in the room, and it just so happened that Bobblehead was sitting at a table diagonal from me.

He was sitting at an otherwise empty table, doing that split-second 'nod off' thing where you fall asleep, your head falls back, and you wake up right before it crashes into the wall behind you. In this case, it wasn't a wall, but a large window; he just left, and there are no glass shards lodged into his skull. Damn. I just thought that this was too fucking perfect though - he was doing that falling asleep head bobbing thing that we've all done, but I had already given him his nickname for other reasons. Satan's blessings come to me daily; thanks bud, I owe you one.

Bobblehead works on my floor, and is quite obese. I believe that he has a medical condition, and the pain that he feels in even the slightest movement is visible; it's sad. He doesn't even speak in a normal way, he has this quiet yell that he does - even talking requires a good deal of exerted energy. He doesn't seem to be all that bright, although I think that the pain involved in speaking outweighs the desire to impress his co-workers. I've only heard him speak once when it wasn't required of him; he was having a conversation about God and faith - your normal 'my life is going to get better' shit. I really do feel sorry for him.

As you can imagine, walking is very difficult for him. Sadly, his job requires him to walk around a good bit. Most people don't think about walking; when he walks, it looks like every movement is intentional. It's like he's concentrating so hard on getting each step right. I may just be witnessing him trying to ignore the pain. His whole body pivots with each step, as his weight is carefully shifted over to his forwardly positioned leg.

I named him Bobblehead because when he turns his body, his head turns toward his intended direction first. When he turns his head, it doesn't just turn, but it rolls into its new position. It looks like his head isn't really attached to his body, but is more floating in a bowl of water. It's unnatural when he does that head turning shit, and it freaks me out. That fucker.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

family reunion

"He doesn't even look like me." It began only a few weeks after Ryan was born.
"He's just a baby, Patrick. He hasn't grown hair yet, and his face will change as he gets older. You'll see." Ellen didn't realize that a pattern was emerging. She was a new mother, who had been waiting for her son to be born for so long. A mother's hope can blind her to even the worst things set into motion. "Besides, I think he has your eyes."
Patrick looked over his son, and failed to see the resemblance, but the issue would lie dormant for a few years. He held his tongue and turned his attention back toward the television screen.

"I don't get him, we have nothing in common!"
Ellen swiftly shut the door and stepped near enough to Patrick that he would hear her lowered voice, but far enough that he wouldn't accidentally strike her as he flailed around the room. "Please, keep your voice down... he'll hear you." She tried not to cry, knowing that it would make Patrick even more upset; he wasn't a fan of feeling guilty.
Patrick had a talent for speaking his mind when drunk. This had been a popular topic over the last few months, and his drinking had been escalating. "He's not even mine, is he?! You were sleeping around on me, I fucking know it!"
The tone of her response wasn't defiant; it was more pleading. "No, I never..."
"Don't lie, you fucking whore!"
Fearing for Ryan's emotional health, but feeling trapped and not knowing what to do, Ellen approached her husband to try to soothe him. "I swear, Patrick, you were the only one..."
He struck her as she came into range.
Ryan sat silently in the next room. He was turning six in a week, and it was only in moments like this that he didn't wonder what his present would be.

The next few months were difficult on everyone. Patrick had never hit his wife before that night, and although she forgave him, he couldn't forgive himself. His drinking accelerated, and because he didn't trust himself to be around the house while drunk, he would stay out for days at a time.
The name 'Ryan' hardly ever crossed Patrick's lips. Favored names were 'him' and 'the boy'. Sometimes, when Ellen would call to find out where he was, he'd use the name 'stranger'.
Eventually, Patrick simply never came home.

Over twenty years had gone by since Ryan had last seen his father, but a wealthy relative had recently died, and they'd both be at the funeral. Neither wanted to see the other, but both would attend; money was involved.
To Patrick's amazement, his son didn't seem so different than him anymore. "It's been a long time. You look good."
"Thanks." Ryan despised his father, but so deeply desired his affection that he found himself forgiving him.
"So, I hear that you have a boy now. How is he?"
Ryan's voice quivered slightly as he replied, "I don't know, I haven't seen him in a while."
For the first time, Patrick smiled fondly at his son; they now had something in common.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


It turns out that some people who know me personally are reading this; this is quite surprising. I'm used to speaking to people who don't listen... I'm used to not being heard. I see a world of depth and wonder, but I have trouble communicating that to others, and much worse, I have trouble handing over to them what I've gained.

I'm used to being invisible. I have no flashy package to make you want to know me, and even if you did, I come off as very enigmatic. I'm a bystander, the last man in the room, somebody's friend, or somebody's relative. I'm nobody and nothing, and yet that's the biggest lie of all... but it's a lie that I can't break. I return to that lie because I sense that it's what others want me to be.

I can't force myself on you, and I can't answer the questions that you haven't asked. I can't make myself seen or known. I don't really think that I'm too strange or unique, but I don't have the energy to lead you over that short bridge to my perspective... I'm shy and withdrawn, but really I'm just tired of trying to make my voice stand out above the noise.

When you tell me that you're reading this, I'm not sure what you're trying to say, but what I hear is that you're actually listening. It doesn't mean that you understand me or that you even like what you're hearing, but it means that you find something here worth exploring. Even if my words don't touch you in any way, I now know that you find me worth the attempt. That means something.

If you threw my CD on, my own mother wouldn't know that the music was mine. If you were to ask some of my closest friends the motives behind my actions, they'd instead answer with their own. Nearly every time that I try to verbally express a thought, a stranger passing by steals the other party's attention. I'm invisible. When you say that you're reading this because you want to, you're telling me that you can see me.