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Posts Tagged ‘all my friends have Big Personalities’

|| April 5, 2011 || 9:06 am || Comments (7) ||

Oh y’all. Sometime a while back I was reading the comments on a friend’s site (the post was a screed about  the lack of blowjobs in modern society or something) and in those comments was a short, patient and to the point blurb. Said blurb communicated, in essence, that ‘Hey, it’s totally worth the time and the effort to wipe instead of shake after you go pee, because that makes your penis more palatable to a woman. Also? Manscape it up a little, der.’  The poster’s name was every bit as fanciful and intriguing as his advice: It was Mayopie. Right there in those comments I declared him my Internet Boyfriend and have loved him ever since. He’s hilarious (but like this: HILAAAARIOUS) and passionate and really kind-hearted. Mayopie has a temper that is amazing to behold, and we all know I love a good righteous lather. He can string together words in a way that causes a confused puppy tilt to grace your head, because you’re all, ‘We were just talking about chainsaws and now we’re at Baryshnikov and holy shit, it all makes sense.’

I’m kind of stupid.  I have this problem where I fantasize about how cool it would be to have certain things and then I find a way to have them. In the last twenty years, I’ve owned 37 cars, 8 motorcycles (have 2 now), several boats (3, 2 are tiny) and a couple of utility trailers. In other words, I’ve spent every dime I’ve ever made on stuff I’ve gotten rid of shortly after I received it, have very few things left and have even less money. But when you and I are driving down the road together and you say, “Those are cool cars,” I can probably say, “Yeah, I had one of those.”

Please don’t mistake this for bragging. I am a moron. I bought an El Camino once, parked it, a mouse moved in and I gave it to him. “Ralph’s El Camino” became its name, before it was towed away by a guy who said he could sell it for me and I never heard from him again. This is not the stuff of bragging, but more of hanging your head in pitiful shame. But then…

I hopped on craigslist the other day as I often do, again, because I am born from dimness. I don’t have much money nowadays, but what I do have I still like to spend frivolously on things I don’t need but have always wanted. My thinking is usually quite rational. If I had to put it into words, I’d say it’s something like, “I want that. La la la la… gonna buy that thing…. La la la la.”

And there she was. A vision, really.  A beacon of desire.  Exactly what I’ve wanted FOREVER and have never been able to find. Something I probably won’t use at all, but something I will always think about using. Something that the idea of having is actually way cooler than having.

When I saw the price, I thought it was a misprint. I thought there was no way it was still available, as I know values there disappear quickly. But the ad had only been up for ten minutes and I gave it a shot.

A few minutes later, I was driving to the middle of nowhere to pick up my 1966 Mini Travel Trailer. Can I get an AHHHH YEAHHHHH? (Deep voice, please.) Yeah.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly as advertised. Leaking, missing about 6 windows, ceiling coming down… all after having been told on the phone it didn’t leak at all. Well, this isn’t the first time I’ve showed up, felt that I’ve been completely mislead, stood there looking angry and defiant then bought it anyway.

Normally when I buy something, I call all my friends and family and let them know. I can usually hear their eyes rolling over the phone. Kind of a swishy sound. But this time, they all seemed excited. It was weird. This one seemed different.

In the last year I’ve made a lot of changes. I made a major career change and now I write, restore and sell antiques and have started doing a lot of things I never thought I could do before. One of those things is now replacing glass and leak-proofing camper ceilings. Can I get an AHHHH YEAHHH? Yeah.

Three days later, all windows have been replaced. The ceiling and moldy insulation have been removed. The rotted girders have been replaced and the leaky roof sealed. What’s left is merely cosmetic and can be completed for a cost of about $50.00-$100.00, including curtains, cushions, etc. Add a coat of baby blue paint and in a couple of weeks you’ll see a fully restored, leak proof vintage mini camper that will sit unused in my driveway.

If there’s a point to all of this, it’s this: I popped on twitter and saw Jett talking to someone else about some kind of festival happening in… Alabama, I think? Not too far away, and though “festival” denotes the congregation of more people than me and one other person, Jett said I should go and I considered it. And ever since, when I look at “Sweetness” (that’s the camper’s name), I think how cool it would be to be chilling out with Jett at a festival, hanging inside my camper and her saying, “We should go probably go outside,” and me saying, “Yeah. Probably. You go ahead. I just have to pee,” then locking the door behind her.

Jett is one of my favorite people. You can just tell when someone’s genuine and not trying to manipulate your perception of their character. With Jett, you get what you see, and what you see is a person with a golden heart. For me, she’s been a source of great wisdom and when she asked for a birthday post, I jumped on it. Because not only do I want her to have the best birthday ever, I want her and everyone to know that I think the world of her.

Happy Birthday, Jett. I hope you get everything you’ve ever wanted.

|| April 4, 2011 || 5:07 am || Comments (2) ||

Christopher is this really amazing guy. He’s been around these parts a long damn time, and I keep expecting him to tire of my nonsense and wander away. I like him a very lot. I respect him.  Chris is crazy-intelligent, both from a brain standpoint and a heart standpoint. He is a complete dear. We are going to eat pastries on a sidewalk together someday, and point out important landmarks to one another.

The Internet is a very strange technology. We blame it for the detachment and impersonality that it spawns, and with good reason.  But it is also a space we travel that is frictionless until you bump into a reason to stop scanning and start really looking.  It was when I came across Jett and her tales of the Superior clan that I slowed down – hung around really – and began to read this beautiful (and funny) prose and some incandescent poems that she produced on a regular basis.

I should say that I teach political theory. It is a field punctuated by very difficult books.  As part of the work I do with students to prepare them for this kind of tough reading, I assign them poems.  This is my excuse for indulging in one of the great loves of my life. Folks don’t read enough poetry these days, although they do profess love for lyrics in their favorite songs and commit many of these songs to memory.  In this, poetry is alive and well.

When I first came across Jett, she was in school. Some of her writing was done on the fly in the cafeteria or Student Union building, I think. A lot of us are forced to write on the fly, but very few of us can pull it off with the aplomb and verve.  Well, Jett can, and has continued to do so through the years. The intimacy she shares with the language is something to behold and to be envied.  There is no barrier between her considerably pure soul and the words she uses to express herself.  She is a fountain of creativity in this respect.  Here she is in the confessional mode in a poem titled “There are Forevers”:

I am a burden more to myself

Detonated at a word, a scent

Left picking shards from my clumsy heart

Afraid the crystal would simply shatter.

These are the words of life itself – the embodiment of the vibrant matter that shimmers in us all.  But it takes a special person to notice and bring it to the surface.  I know I feel alive and grateful for the life I have when I read Jett.  Her writing has become dear to me.  It is nourishment from a most creative soul that lives to share bits of herself with others.

And so she shares tales of her children, of her husband, her working life of clients/patients, her childhood, her mother, and especially her stories from the road.  Jett cannot help but to make sacred the profane. She is incapable of writing a dull line. Inanimate objects take on life when she words them. All this is a feat, I say.  I have learned not to cross her:

You traveled down the hall, trailing words behind you
And I hesitated, lost in the picture of me
Flinging a heavy volume in the direction of your head.
It was a dictionary:
I wanted to give the words back, but
With heavily-compounded interest

And so I took one on the noggin and it continues to do me good. I wish I had the talent to return the favor with a combination of words that would leave you, my friend, breathless thanks to the new way to see yourself they would afford.  “Why I am saintly,” you would say.  I lack the talent, sadly, and so I hope you will accept a simple thanks on this celebration of your fortieth year.  I am so grateful to you for all your words, and for your friendship too.  Beannacht! (Blessing in Irish) May you know happiness and health and music all your days.

|| April 3, 2011 || 10:38 am || Comments (4) ||

(all apologies to both Ann and Beej, but man, I whooped it up on my birthday and then I took a six-hour nap yesterday and so now their posts get stacked in one entry)

I first noticed Ann across a crowded internet because of her spectacular bangs and a look of bliss on her face. This little glimpse of her was via a picture, and in it she was dancing. The thing, though, is that she was different from all the other dancers I’d seen (via, yes, pictures) at this party in that everything about her said unselfconscious and completely sold out to the moment. If any of you knows a dang thing about me, then you know I love that sort of person, so I went to her website and told her I thought she was a little slice of heaven. Since then she has decided she’d like to be my friend. (And yes, Ann, I do have to Google and thesaurusize from time to time, but don’t tell nobody)

Happy Forty, Jett!

You are La Isla Bonita. And this is my Spanish Lullabye (ever-so-lightly inspired by The Material Girl).

Y yo te amo [hijo te amo? Eeeeooo Te amo?]…Tropical the island breeze, all the nature wild and free…

Now, Jett, you would never write “tropical the island breeze” because that makes no fucking sense, does it Jett? I guess if it had a comma “tropical, the island breeze” but that is forcing the words to fit. You don’t force words to fit, you make words SAMBA.

It’s possible that I don’t have the lyrics 100% right, because I did not go and Google them as I normally would. Do you know why I did not go and Google “My Spanish Lullabye” Because I have this feeling Jett, that you never have to google or thesaurus-size your posts. Your vocabulary, Jett–it’s formidable. You can get a way with phrases like “as it is wont to do” and no one will go “well lahdeedahdeedah…

la la la la la-ah, tropical the island breeze, all the nature wild and free, this is where I long to be

La Isla Bonita.

What I am telling you in this Spanish Lullabye is that your words give me pause. They make me stop and read each and every goddamned one. Which after 2.5 years in blogland I’m no longer wont to do. See? “wont to do” is clearly not my San Pedro, Jett.

I love your words. I want to be where the sun meets the sky, when it’s time for siesta you can watch them go by on your blog. I love your style. I love your authenticity.

Have a great birthday and a fantastic year.

A young girl with eyes like the desert
Okay a middle-aged woman with brown, the eye color is.

Bejewell is a badass. A compassionate, hilarious, dorky, good writer of a badass. She’s teeny and foul-mouthed and hot and sensitive. She once mailed me Fonzie, and no one can pick a Christmas ornament like Beej can pick a Christmas ornament. Oh man do I ever love her. She says to stand in front of your mirror and perform this aloud, like spoken word. I totally did, but I drank a six-pack first. I give you permission to, as well.

Jett the Superior

The old lady’s name? Well her name, dear, is Jett.
She’s sharper than a Gillette.
I can’t think of anyone else
I would rather Aid and Abet.

Sometimes she’ll send me a letter and I’ll
Break out in a clammy, cold sweat.
If she told me to march I would fall right in line
Like a hungry new freshman cadet.

She’s Classic–  like a shiny silver Corvette
Or an old-school 80’s cassette.
She’s brie on a toasted baguette.
Crepe Suzette.
An IBM floppy diskette.

Sometimes she’s louder than David Arquette
With a tiny touch of Tourette,
But her writing can leave me as sated as if I’d
Just smoked a post-sex cigarette.

With one post she can make me feel powerful, strong –
An inspired
and wired
Her stories make me forget
and reset
And help me let go of regret.

There’s no one I’d rather sit down with to have
A hot cuppa or long tête a tête
She’s a much badder bad ass than bad Boba Fett
And her whole blog makes my panties wet.

Happy birthday, dear Jett. 40? Yes, but don’t fret.
It’s just red in this game of roulette
And for you, a stack of blue chips I would bet that
Still coming’s the Very Best Yet!

|| April 1, 2011 || 5:05 am || Comments (10) ||

René is one of those people that stirs up powerful things in me; she reminds me that I am not saint enough but that –oh hell, shucks– sinners are just as okay as saints, but in a different way. She is so, so soothing, this friend of mine. I feel as if I am forever running to her, wailing with scabbed knees, and she never doesn’t have band-aids. Her voice is like having your hair smoothed by a loving hand. She is creative and funny and compassionate and I love her.

Here’s the thing about Cherie: She just sort of came in under my radar. This is not surprising, because she is all stealth, that one.  At the same time, she’s a decipherer, and she’s got eyes for things that most people don’t (or can’t) see. If the world had any sense, it would be in fearful awe of her. If it had any sense, it would not take its eyes off of her, it would ask her advice, it would take her out for ice cream every fucking chance it got.

What happened is, I just got kind of sick of being me.  The truth of the matter, much to my daily dismay, is that I am an uptight, overly fiddly, vaguely prudish New Englander with annoying tendencies towards wholesomeness, introspection, and peacemaking.

I’m not white bread, necessarily.

I’m whole wheat bread with no high fructose corn syrup and those pointless oatmeal bits on top.

It’s disappointing to me, too.

So that is why one day–probably in March because this is kind of crap I pull in March–when my daily dismay was even more dismaying than usual, I created a new me.  I don’t mean I tried to improve my actual self, although I appreciate your optimism. I mean that I created a handy new sidekick to keep tucked inside my soul.  I created my own personal Tyler Durden.

I made her Southern (‘cause, really, I’ve always wanted to be Southern) and tough.  This me did her hair up right and remembered to wear lipstick.  She talked no jargon.  She didn’t sit in meetings and keep the peace; she punched the non-stop talkers in the face until they shut up.  She kissed with tongue.  She didn’t just think “What the hell you lookin’ at?” She actually said it.  I liked her a lot.

She propped her boobs up and looked you in the eye.  She stomped around in red cowboy boots, buffed to a shine. She hollered when she saw you and sang like a banshee.   She whipped shit into shape and announced her arrival with an airhorn.

She believed in Jesus.

She wept when necessary and kicked ass when necessary and chewed her nails down to the quick when necessary.  She made art constantly, whether it was necessary or not.  She bled and sweat and cried and yelled and laughed and did all those I would do if I weren’t such a wholesome little pansy.

I loved her something fierce, that other me, because who wouldn’t?  Every day I put on my practical shoes and smiled pleasantries at the annoying of the world, nodding, while she hunkered down in the back of my brain, loudly flipping them all off.

We were happy, she and I. As happy as you can be when you’ve made up an imaginary friend in your 30s, of course, but I’ve lived my whole life having no pride so that was fine.

Then, one day while I was mostly busy working hard for my dollar, she stomped out of my soul and into my Twitter stream.  I looked and there she was, a sweet foul-mouthed angel from Alabama named Jett. And Jett was just like the little punk devil that perched on my shoulder and popped her gum in my ear, except she was real.  And she was so much better.  She was so much more clever and twisted and kind and loud and funny than my pathetic little…awwww, damn.

I considered my options.  I looked away dumbly for a bit.  I swore profusely for fifteen days straight.  I wept gallons of oceany tears.  I rent my garments, but they were my garments so no one could tell the difference.  I looked at Tyler Durden, Delusional Cherie Edition, and knew what I had to do.

I plucked that little Southern punk of my shoulder.  She clung to me with her toenails and stretched long and transparent as I pulled.  She looked ridiculous that way, flapping in the wind like a dime-store kite.

I looked at Jett Superior and I pouted.

“Quit sulking,” she said.  “Just let her go.  We’ve got to go do some shit.”

So I did.  And we did.

But I kept the red cowboy boots.

They fit real nice.

|| March 31, 2011 || 5:07 am || Comments (7) ||

Laurie, on the internet, is wry and funny and perceptive and writes like sentences are formed up in her very marrow. Laurie, on the phone, is solemnly hysterical and incisive and sharp as a freshly-stropped razor. Sometimes a friendship is written on the inside of your wrist without you knowing it, and then when a person shows up you instinctively recognize them; you can say anything without flinching internally as you do so. Man, do I ever like this woman. She is a force to be reckoned with.

“He reminds me of my first serious boyfriend,” I said. “An addict alcoholic who drove around delivering pizzas with a 40 between his legs. I was so in love with him. He was perpetually stoned, read three books a week, had The Atlantic and the New Yorker on the back of his fucked up toilet. That’s still my type, but I’m older now. I can hang out with this guy for five hours at a coffee shop and never necessarily see him again.”

You laughed and told me I was Janeane Garofalo and that no one ever moves to Dayton, except I’m not and I did.  Now? Five hours over coffee is fine, I promised. It’s so much better than wrecking years on a person with ultimate designs on other voices, bodies and rooms.  I learned everything I needed to know for a lifetime on that date at Planet X before it burned down, except that that brilliant stoner’s naked butt was cute, and honestly? I could have done without that. It was enough to make out in the car with the ice storm hitting the windows around us after, to slide inside across the frozen lawn alone, leaning against the door giddy from it all. The rest of it doesn’t do me any good now.


I tell you things, Jett Superior. I open my mouth. I talk on the phone, the Alabama smoothness of your voice flowing over my line, making me hate everything less, I admit it. I do things I don’t normally want to do for certain people for no reason, and I don’t know why.  You have some voodoo working.

What I didn’t tell you about that 90’s boy because it’s come back little by little since we hung up was that he wore this stupid hat that I nonetheless loved, and a hoodie from the Gap that I stole. The night before he moved away, a few months before I followed him, he punched a wall on a bad trip and ended up dumped on my porch the next day by a roommate who had to get the truck back and couldn’t afford the dead weight of a guy with a broken hand who couldn’t drive or carry anything.

“I’m sorry to make you babysit him,” the roommate said. “I just can’t deal with his shit right now. He’s a liability.”

Well, then. I was mowing my lawn on the first warm day of the season, while this man I thought I loved stood across from me, bracing himself with his feet between mine, bloodshot, still drunk and crazy.

“Do you wanna go to Santa Fe? DO YOU?” he said, swaying from side to side while I surveyed the concrete and thought what a fucking disaster it would be if he actually hit it. He thought he was hilarious when he was wasted, and he giggled thinking of the two of us taking this shit show on the road to New Mexico. “Do you wanna sign on for this? DO YOU?”

Hell yeah, I did. I was a stupid late-bloomer of 23. I wanted all of that ugliness, for some reason, then. I think I mistook it for beautiful, or maybe it was just the only way I thought it could be.

Well-placed moments sucked me in. He waited outside the ladies room in an Ohio gay bar that he took a friend and me to as a favor because we wanted to dance, to give me a kiss never yet surpassed, a kiss I can feel to my toes right this second, a kiss I’d tweet out to make the world jealous if I could, because it was that good and I’m a geek now. He quoted Whitman to me even before he knew of my deep attachment to everything that man did and said and stood for.

“Once, I pass’d through a populous city…Yet now, of all that city, I remember a woman I casually met there, who detain’d me for love of me; Day by day and night by night we were together,—All else has long been forgotten by me.”

He told me I was his soul mate — a phrase I still hate — until he changed his mind.

“You’re too good for anyone,” he said, and Lord knows there’s nothing I hate like a coward. “And you’re certainly too good for me.”

I waited out another acid trip later. He swung back and forth on our friend’s shed door while I sat on the back steps smoking, sober. He’s married now, I understand, and has some kids. I hope he quit drinking, but I don’t know.

40 years. 40 is amazing when you think about it, but it’s better when you don’t.

Jett: horseshit.
nobody moves TO Dayton
me: it would have been better if i’d never seen him again.
Jett: You need therapy.
me: i don’t write about my life on the blog, you see.
me: shut up. i know.
i did.
Jett: DAYTON, either
me: i moved there on purpose.
in a teal cavalier, with only what would fit in it.

I’ll sit on a beach with you soon, I think. I imagine a fire there. Answers will come clearer, or fade behind the moon, who knows?

We’ll have our way with our partially-shared 40th year. It’ll bring things into focus. It’ll kill. The bass will drop so right it’ll fix any possible busted groove. It’ll play our favorite songs on a loop.

I’ve never seen your face. How is that possible? No, really. How is that possible?

Happy birthday.

|| March 30, 2011 || 6:06 am || Comments (9) ||

I like Kevin a lot; he’s on the shortlist of people I’d like to step out from behind a keyboard and have a protracted conversation with me. I have a feeling that, within the space of three beers and one philosophical disagreement, I’d find his perspective indispensable.

|| March 28, 2011 || 5:07 am || Comments (3) ||

Scott has the distinction of being the only person to have been invited to guest post twice on my voyeurnal….well, at least until the end of this week, anyway. I love the way that his brain connects dots and his pencil adds other dots to connect to as necessary (hint: that sort of thing is always necessary….haven’t I taught you people a thing?) I once said I wanted to lick his brain or something of that nature and I think that made him afraid of me for a very, very long time. Then I had a dream about his wife going fishing, which was somehow less weird and Scott seemed to take a shine to me a little thereafter. Or something. Who cares? The point is this: Scott’s brain drops my jaw and his writing makes me want to find better ways to present my own dots and their connections.

I’ve never fully escaped the awkwardness of having returned empty-handed from my much lauded quest to find the ultimate answer to everything. I cringe when I remember how people gathered to see me off with great adulation and the highest of expectations. I might die on the road. It might take years, decades. Everyone knew, I was sure, that I would return with that answer. I was the cleverest of boys after all, resourceful and creative. I felt as though the hopes of everyone rested upon my silly, overrated shoulders.

In times since, sitting quietly in the corner of coffee shops and writing my wandering words, doing my small work, I’ve imagined eyes falling upon me with consternation, disappointment and dismay. I hear questions they do not ask me. “What happened? Why are you here? Where the hell is my answer?” I never make eye contact. I try hard as I can to look like someone else, someone who never accepted a mantle from anyone.

The truth is that I slipped back without fanfare after only a few miserable days, convinced that answers could not be found by going away. There’s nowhere to go. Roads lead both ways and neither direction has anything in particular to recommend it. Everyone from there quests for answers here, and vice versa. We were assholes and fools, all of us on that road. This was the answer I found, though not one anyone wanted to hear.

I’ve never stopped looking for other answers, though. I’ve discovered a few, I think, though they’re not particularly sexy. One of the keys to human life, for example, is getting up in the morning to do the work at hand. Inspired yet? I know. Another secret is recognizing people who bring you joy and people who bring you suffering. The distinction should inform the way you love them. In your love for hurtful people, for example, do not become beholden to them, or let them become so to you. If a person brings you comfort, healing or joy, on the other hand, love them as often and in as many ways as you can. Bear their burdens and let them bear yours. Most people bring you both joy and suffering, of course. Life is messy. Err on the side of wary but sincere communion. And remember, you don’t have to know someone for very long or in any particular form to know them well. Maybe you have only read their poetry. Maybe you have spoken their funeral. Maybe you have only seen the amazing curve of their back from across the room. Maybe you have borne their children. Maybe you have written them a few emails or tweets. Maybe you have raised them from birth. You can still love them with all the means at your disposal, and find creative ways to enjoy them with all of your senses and talents, and make yourself available to be consumed by their appetites. These are all answers, secrets to life and joy, mysteries unveiled. You cannot discover these things by questing for them, however. You have to live life in all of its mundane reality with your eyes open and focused. Everyday heroics. Commonplace glory.

New people set out every day to find the answer and bring it back. I wish them luck. I applaud their enthusiasm. I feel kinship with their naivete. I want them to feel free to return to us. There is no shame in hopeful energy and youthful bravado. Who knows? Maybe there’s something out there after all. It could happen. Anything is possible.

Later. Love.

P.S. – This piece was inspired, such as it was, in reflection upon my having recently turned forty, an experience I share with our friend, Jett Superior. Happy birthday, Jett Superior. Hello, friends.