Big Mac – Writing post number ten-o

This little piece of delicious is about the last time I had a Big Mac.  For this prompt, we had to set the scene using descriptives from all the senses.  I try, hope you like.

The only time I can say that grease smelled sweet was when I walked under those golden arches and through those glass doors.  Wafting hot air was a pleasant welcoming from the frigid outdoors.  I never dressed appropriately for cold weather.  It wasn’t very busy that night with one cash open serving a hungry line of three.  Already knowing what I wanted, I entertained myself by watching a whale of a woman feeding her portly children.  The chubby fingers of her left hand were jamming fries into her full mouth while her right hand held a cheeseburger in front of a two year old’s bulbous face.  That’s it, keep ‘em good and lazy.  We’ll have robots or tubes feeding us soon, anyway…maybe even microchip stomachs…

“Next!  Next, please!”  I turned my head to see a skinny, Jamaican teenager with heavy, purple eye-makeup glaring at me.

“Ma’am, what can I get for you?”  She kissed her teeth and began to examine the long florescent pink nails she had been tapping on the red counter just a few seconds before.  I ordered and stepped to the side to wait with the other indulgers of fake food.  Starving, the anticipation was killing me.  My mouth watered as I watched the cooks drop fries into the hot oil.  Drink after drink being filled from a waterfall mixed with syrup.  Click, whoosh, click, whoosh.

“Those apple pies look mighty tasty,” I said out loud, laughing with no one in particular.

Feeling slightly awkward from my outburst, I turned my attention to a Toy Story 2 movie poster standing as tall as me.  ‘The toys are back in town’ it read, making sure that Thin Lizzy song would be stuck in my head for at least as long as I stood here.  Annoyed, I picked up a nutritional brochure and flipped through, looking for the items that made up combo number one.  How many sit-ups will I need to do, but won’t do, to work this off?  As expected, a billion.

Finally, my tray was ready.  As my stomach growled and sweat beads started to accumulate above my lip, I wondered when it got so hot in here.  The decision of where to sit was overwhelming.  I hadn’t even eaten yet and I was already getting tired.  A crazy idea passed through my head – maybe I could sit with that obese family and ask the mother to hold my Big Mac while I nibbled at it.

The cleanest table was by the garbage so I decided to sit there and ‘prepped’ my meal.  I opened up the cardboard box to see my burger leaning slightly to the right.  Placing both hands on either side, I squeezed it back into a tower.  I lifted the top half of the bun and a thin patty to remove the pickles sitting in a puddle of ketchup underneath it.  The sour wetness that now coated my fingers disgusted me.  Instead of using a napkin, I licked it off, wincing.

The time had come.  I picked up the burger between my childlike fingers and with my small mouth, bit into the large mass.  Biting down, I could feel the softness of the bun sticking to my palette, the grainy meat separating over my tongue, and the secret sauce oozing into the back of my mouth.  Patiently chewing my food, I breathed through my nose.  Swallow one, then two.

As I ate, I could feel what this burger was going to do to me.  The gurgles, mild pains, and movement in my intestines signalled a red alert.  Even so, I continued to mindlessly eat that Big Mac until the bitter end.

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Are you there God? It’s me, God – Writing Post number nine-o

Hi Fan! (not a typo…)  After a wee bit of a hiatus from this writing outlet, I’m back with a vengeance (a small one but, what do you expect, I am a midget).  I’m back in class and this here is my newest assignment:  To write a story from the perspective of an unreliable narrator MEANING, you’re not sure if you can trust his/her story.  PS – yes, that is a shout out to you, maiden Carole Anne.

My mother had always wished to name her first born son, James, after that rebel without a cause.  But, it was the 50s and my father called the shots.  When the big bosomed nurse slapped my ass and announced that I was a boy, my mom cried with joy.  Another girl to add to her five would have been a disappointment.  My father passively pulled out a pack of large Rothman’s from his breast pocket and drew out a stick.  Tapping the filtered side on the windowsill he was sitting on, he spoke in his grave voice, “Godfrey is his name.  God Donagh.”  You would have thought it was a G. D. joke but my father didn’t consider it so.  He knew what his mighty genes had produced and it sure as hell wasn’t a Terence or a Willie.

I hated my name for years.  The relentless teasing in the schoolyard kept me home most days.  “Let’s see if God’s magical powers can stop this rock from hitting his God awful nose.”  As they laughed and rocks hit me, I cursed my Dad.  When he asked me about my beaten up face, I told him it was his fault.  “It’s my stupid name!”  “Godfrey, it’s probably because you’re a puny, weird-looking chicken-shit.  Your arms are twigs,” he grabbed my left arm and shook it with force, “and it don’t help that you’ve got that odd birth mark that makes your hair go white,” he said while twirling his cigarette-squeezing fingers at the part of his head where my birth mark would sit. “Jesus, Godfrey.  Stick up for yourself.  Don’t you know who you are?”

At sixteen years old, I officially dropped out of high school and found solace in my basement bedroom.  With the back of my head resting in my palms, I lied down on the plush brown carpet and spent my days getting lost in thought while listening to my Sgt. Pepper’s record.  Days turned to nights and back to day again, blending into one.  My new hobbies were sleeping and smoking copious amounts of marijuana.  I let my thoughts spin and spin intertwining with what I knew were message-filled dreams.  The messages were so vivid, – evil is lurking, you will save us, praise will be thrown at you – they must have been coming from someone.  But, from whom?  My future self?  My father eventually kicked me out calling me a “good for nothing parasite”.

It was not until five years later did the devil and I finally meet.   The scuffling above my ceiling signalled that a new tenant was moving into unit 404.  Curious, I stepped out and used ‘checking my mail’ as an excuse to be in the foyer.  Flipping through the flyers, my eyes tracked his movement from the building’s front door to the stairs.  He was carrying a television to the top floor of the Cobble Hill brownstone.  I waited a few moments and started back up to my apartment.  We ran into each other on the 2nd floor landing which is exactly what I had hoped.

The freckled-face smiled at me, “Hi, I’m Carl,” he said as he stuck out his hand.  Even though I hadn’t dreamt about him in years, I instantly recognized his face.  This guy was a genius.  No one would have suspected a ‘Carl’.  “Hello, Carl,” I grabbed his hand and gave him a wink, “I’m God.”

The dine and dash

You’ve just sat down at a restaurant and your server comes over to get your drink order.  She smiles to encourage you.  You think she has a great smile.  You ask her which red wine she’d recommend and she points at the Pinot Noir, it’s her favourite.  She pours you a taster and you’re into it.  You let her know that she not only has a fantastic smile but good taste.  You notice she’s not taken by that because she already knows these things about herself.  She thanks you politely.

You’re drinking the wine a little too fast because the server is playing it cool.  She’s taking her time to take your dinner order probably so that you order more drinks later.  You were planning on it anyway.  You’ve known what you’ve wanted to eat from the moment you glanced over the mains – the pasta with duck ragu.  You love duck.

She finally comes over and you playfully joke around a bit before you order.  You’ve got her laughing.  She softens a bit, tells you your shirt brings out your eyes and walks away.  After dinner, you ask her to join you for a drink.  She can’t for obvious reasons but tells you she’d love to meet you after her shift is over.  She brings over a whiskey on the rocks and says this one is on her.  You think, what an awesome girl.

The food was delicious, service impeccable and you are completely satisfied.  When you receive the bill you learn that her name is Clare.  You look the bill over, decide – you know what?  I’m not paying for this one – and, walk out.

Uhhhhh, tap tap, is this thing on

What?  Walk out?  Excuse me?  I don’t get it.  Didn’t you just say that everything about your meal was awesome?  You didn’t even say bye to Clare!  You didn’t even leave a tip.  So confused!

The other side

This story isn’t over.  We need to see how Clare feels about all this.  She feels the patron’s actions were cold and unwarranted, a little misleading.  She would have understood more had he given her a reason even if it was made up.  Forgot your wallet?  Just got an emergency call and your mom’s in the hospital?  You need to drop your videos off before the store closes (so creepily American Psycho)?

But, he chose to just disappear giving Clare the impression that it was all just for entertainment, you know, something to do.  Respect?  Well, there seems to be a lack thereof even though some kind of relationship was built.  Clare wonders maybe he thinks she’s a robot who doesn’t have feelings, her own thoughts, and can be turned on and off as he pleases.  An object!  Maybe that’s not what he actually thinks but that’s how he has made Clare feel.

The cower and then slowly move backwards 

Even my own brother agrees with me on this one.  He calls it the ‘pussy-manoeuvre’ – girls are the ones with the pussy but guys act like one.  I know, this is old news.  I’ve been online and have looked at forums with women asking ‘why?’ or ‘what does it mean when he does this?’  Most of these questions are answered by men with the air of “yeah, we’re dicks but that’s what that means or why we do that,” like women are supposed to just accept it.  Ohhhh, it’s not his fault; all men are like that!

Most men can’t be honest with women.  I find it interesting how guys can be frank with their male counterparts and can tell it like it is.  But with women, they can’t handle it.  Is it because they’ll hurt the woman’s feelings with honesty?  Well, ignoring them doesn’t really avoid that, you just don’t know about it.  You’re afraid she’s going to go nuts?  Well, really, that’ll just give you all the proof you needed to know your decision of giving her the ole heave-ho was a solid one.

At the end of the day, people need and should respect one another.  Respect comes with honesty, integrity, and balls.  I’m not saying that after one date you need to explain yourself.  We all know when we’ve passed the line, when the ‘dine and dash’ just won’t do.  And you might be thinking that I’m all talk.  No, I’ve called up dudes with major anxiety (where I’ve practised what I was going to say beforehand) because I felt that, out of respect, they deserved my telling them.  Dining and dashing is just so selfish.

Grow some balls!

Grow some balls!  Or, I can give you mine.  I find them kind of gross and I’ve never dined and dashed before.  Seems exhilarating!

Dateopia

What I’m about to tell you is of no laughing matter except to the universe.  I’m single and have been since 2004.  I know – it’s crazy.  Or, is it because I’m crazy.  Those who know me say it’s because I’m picky, haven’t found the right person or, have bad luck.  To that I say, perhaps.  If I believed in a god, it would be because the path of singlehood is the one I’m supposed to take.  If I was talking to a therapist, perhaps it is because no one compares to my dad.  If I was talking to a dog (god backwards), it would probably smell my crotch (they all do!  I swear, I’m clean).  Anyway, what I’m getting at is due to these circumstances, I have had to resort to online dating.

Online dating?  Well, you did say you were crazy.

I’ve never been afraid of online dating nor have I ever felt weird about doing it.  My first online date was in 2000 when I met a dude via ICQ.  I’m not kidding.  This was around the same time Napster was blowing up and took 20 minutes to download a song.  So, might as well talk to random dudes while my tunes downloaded.  The dude told me he had been messaging girls with the name ‘Jane’ and I ended up being one of them.  We swapped pictures and then started hanging out.  In 2004, I met my last boyfriend on Lavalife which ended pretty soon after I agreed to call him my boyfriend.  Agreeing – that’s kind of a bad sign, huh?

Fast forward to 2000 and late!  I mean 2008.

I move in to my new apartment in downtown Toronto with two newly single sisters who are somewhat embarrassed to tell me that they’ve just opened up an online dating profile.  I hear the motivation (excuses) behind it:

  1. I was drunk when I started it
  2. I went out on the weekend and there are no cool guys
  3. I’m on the rebound and this is a quick, easy solution
  4. I’m just doing it for fun and am totally not serious about it
  5. Curiosity – I just wanted to see what’s out there
  6. I was scanning the profiles before I signed up and I really wanted to message this one guy.
  7. Boredom made me do it
  8. I didn’t even create it.  My friend/sister/roommate/dad/priest/cat did.

I say:  “What?  No way, man, save the excuses.  That’s awesome – been dere, done dat.”  The sisters and I go buck wild.  Three dates in a week sometimes two in a day.  It’s a fun time, even the really weird ones.  I’ve had my fair share of awkward dating moments:

  • conversation (oh, you were diagnosed as psychotic),
  • kisses/makeouts (I can’t breath, too much tongue),
  • fights (I wasn’t artsy enough and therefore, didn’t get him and we all know, I’m a feisty mofo and I don’t take that shit especially when inebriated),
  • law breakers  (aren’t you going to pick up your dog’s poo?  OK, guess not….),
  • super effeminate dudes (I know you’re artsy but are you sure you’re not gay?),
  • aspergers (I love these guys but it’s a tough date when he tells off the server),
  • the smiling silent ‘starers’ (for obvious reasons),
  • knowing people in common (you did what with my sister at Laurier?),
  • body explorations (uh, that’s my bum hole you’re tapping with your finger?)

As I’m simultaneously combusting when the situations happen, I’m actually thriving in the moment.  It is the best shit that can happen.  Think of the stories I have now!  There have been many great dates too but those stories are yawners.

Your awkward dating moments sound like a blast and I want them too!

Look, you don’t need to get sarcastic with me.  All I’m trying to say is that online dating ain’t that bad and no one, I mean no one, needs an excuse to do it.  And it’s great for loads of attention especially if you’re female – you get tonnes of messages right away because you are the ‘new’ face online.  Can’t say the same for dudes but keep on trying with those messages, fellas!  Most messages are from duds but there are a few hopefuls in there.  There are also quite a few guys who seem legitimate and worth messaging and when you get a response, it will most definitely end up in a date (if you choose it to).

Don’t be shy.  Give it a try.

We do everything online and are in this virtual world on average 3 hours a day (I made that number up).  So, why not let it be the ‘place’ where we find our potential boyfriend/husband/lifelong partner/fuck buddy/one night stand/drinking companion/etc.  Both my sister roommates did eventually find their future husbands online.  How about me?  Well, I’ve put off marriage and finding that lucky man so that I can share more dating moments with you.  I currently have a profile on OkCupid (I’m CousinSteve) and Lavalife (Smidgey) and am pretty sure I will have one for as long as I’m single.  Have I convinced you, yet?  (smiley-face)

Novel Excerpt

So, here’s a little taste of what I’ve been working on for the past bit.  It’s a really small section of what might be the 1st or 2nd chapter (not sure yet – this is how much of a draft it is).  Anyway, for those of you who want to know, now you know.  Peace, Love, Awkward.  Oh, and I have not yet mastered proper writing formula i.e. when to start a new line for speech, etc.  xo!

I step into the gym and it’s bustling.  Girls, girls and more girls in uniform running their fingers along papers taped to the white walls.  They are excited, giddy, and full of energy.  Unfortunately for me, all I feel is an overwhelming pang of fear sweeping over me.  I’ve never done well with new situations.  I start to feel nauseous, get cold sweats, and my voice turns into a whisper.  When I first walked into the school, the girl with braces and black zigzag tights directed me here but neglected to tell me how this all works.  God, help me.  Now I actually have to open my mouth and ask someone.  Just the thought of having to speak to someone I don’t know makes me nervous.  Why does it appear that everyone in this room knows what they’re doing?

“Do you need any help?”  Startled, I turn to look at the wired-hair teacher, her eyes looking at me from over her glasses.  “No, I think I’m fine.  Thanks.”  “Well, you let me know if you need anything.”  Stress and defeat weigh heavily on my shoulder.  You might be wondering why I didn’t say anything, why I didn’t ask for help.  It doesn’t make any sense.  You’re totally right – it doesn’t make any sense!  I’m awkward; plain and simple.  When possible, I kibosh conversation involving people I don’t know and then stew in whatever misery that follows.  In this case, it means being completely confused and uncomfortable.  I hate that I’m like this but I can’t wallow in that sorrow.  I’ve got to figure out what’s going on.

Moving into the gym, I notice the tarp we are walking on.  I assume that’s what’s giving off that musky salt smell.  No one wants new shoes scuffing up the freshly polished wooden floors especially that weasel-faced janitor standing by the blue garbage bin.  His eyes darting around making sure we are all keeping things unsoiled and in order

Squeezing through the dense room of girls makes us look like packed sardines.  The girls in the room fascinate me.  We are all around the same age but some of them look like they’re 25.  Tonnes have makeup on, their hair looks like it took them hours to do this morning, some have their kilts rolled at the waist so that they’re hiked up to above mid-thigh, and others have painful looking stiletto heels on.  I look down at myself and my kilt just grazes above the knee, my hand-me-down white buttoned blouse is two sizes too big, my brown loafers are dowdy and old man-like, and remembering what I looked like in the mirror this morning – my braces and frizzy hair, I could pass for at least 12.  The memo brigade has disappointed me again and forgot to send me that crucial ‘first day of school’ message.  Not that that would have really made a difference – who am I kidding?

“Girls, please stand with your appropriate homeroom teacher,” crackle the speakers speckled around the gym.  Looking left, then right, then in front of me, I decide to move diagonally towards a corner.  Corners are a good place to hide, to go unnoticed.  I sneak by a few loud girls “Oh, my God-ing” mixed with “I looooove your new shoes!” and other such squeals.  They seem to already know each other.  Checking the list of names I notice mine’s not there.  “Excuse me, but you’re obviously a minor niner and you wouldn’t be on that list?  Yours is over in that area.”  Her stretched out finger directs me to the stage at the end of the gym.  Obviously a minor niner?  Jesus.  Do I stand out that terribly?

Walking closer to the stage, I see Stacey Clinton waving at me.  “Over here dummy!”  Finally, my first sense of relief, someone I actually recognize from elementary school.  “Isn’t this exciting?!” she screeches at me.  I’ve always hated when she speaks at that interval like she wants everyone to hear her.  But, then again, I could never understand that as I’d rather avoid all attention.  “Sure, yeah, this is cool.  I guess.”  “OMG, we’re in high school, Bennie!”  Before I can push myself to respond with a more thrilled tone, someone taps on a microphone and says “Welcome, ladies!”

Blooper reel

Wow, reading this the next day, I realize how silly this is.  I woke up and thought ‘I should delete that post’.  But then thought ‘No way, man!  I can’t censor myself.  Who the hell do I think I am?’  I have a feeling that there will be more blooper reels mostly to show people how I think.  I’m actually very curious to know if other people think about shit as much as I do.  And, I don’t mean think about things on a philosophical level; I mean stew, dwell, overanalyze, etc, and then shrivel and die.

Here are two very different awkward moments in life that we all at one point have faced or will face.  Why did I select these two types of moments?  I don’t know; they just came to me.

Hugging

When do you stop?

Close friend:  Doesn’t really matter.  If it is too long or too short, you can make a joke out of it.

New acquaintance:  Do you hug just long enough to get your arm around and then move back?  One fluid movement – you’re in and then you’re out with no pause in between.

The new lover:  Does whoever let go first have the upper hand?  I find that when one person slowly starts the let go, the other person let’s go right away as though the other person all of a sudden has a contagious virus.  So, does this person now have the upper-hand because they obviously don’t care and almost push their potential loved one away from them?  The “I don’t need you anyway” manoeuvre.

What type of hug?

The ‘type’ of hug only really comes into play when it’s an acquaintance.

The one-arm hug:  Always tricky if you’re facing each other.  One might make the mistake of lifting the other arm for the two-arm when the other person evidently was only going for the one-arm.  If you’re both coming in from the side, it’s never a problem.

The back tap hug:  I’m not sure if this is offensive (offensive in the way that you’re not good enough for a real hug, just a few taps) and/or should only be done from guy to guy.

The back rub hug:  A little intimate without getting the bodies close.  Sometimes these are followed with regret when you realized you’ve done it because you are attracted to the other person but they already have a significant other and you know this.

European hug:  Kissing is just not necessary when hugging and unless the person warns you, you are allowed to be as awkward as you need to be.  It’s bad when you’re expecting the two side kiss but they’re already moving back after the one and you’re leaning in with your lips pursed.  Or, if you’re really brave, you might pull them back for that second kiss because you’ve already committed.  Other times, you’re not sure which side to start on and because you’re taking too long to decide and are still moving in, you end up kissing each other too close to or on the mouth.

Unexpected hug:  These can be either a pleasant surprise or a disastrous awkward moment.  The awkward part here is the reacting too much, almost like you’re overcompensating for the unwanted/overwhelming feelings that the unexpected hug is giving you.  This hug is usually accompanied by a “Oh, well, ok!” or a “cuddles!” (that one might just be me).  Of course, the realization afterwards that your reaction was obviously ‘too much’ makes you want to curl up and die.

Reaction to a dog smelling your crotch and/or butt.

This is probably one of the most awkward moments that I can think of.  First of all, dogs smell other dogs’ asses and enjoy it.  So, we all know what I’m getting at here.  Does this mean that my crotch and/or butt smell like a dog’s ass?  I don’t know if it’s because I’m a good height for crotch sniffing but almost every medium to large sized dog that I encounter smells my crotch.  I’m clean!  Totally…clean….

Here are the situations:

1.  The dog poking its nose in your butt.  You can always kind of sense when this is going to happen – let’s call it our sixth scents.  We react in a variety of different ways.  My way is the cheek clenching followed with an ‘oopsies!’

2.  The dog poking its nose in your crotch.  I try to be discreet about this one.  I’ll usually just use my palm and push the dog’s head down.  But, the nose in the crotch can get embarrassing when there is a larger group of people and the owner decides to yell at the dog with a “Get your nose outta there!”  Again, I swear, I’m clean!

I’m thinking of making this an ongoing series.  I went out with an OkCupid date and he said that he’d love it if he made the blooper reel of my online dating personal essay.  I haven’t created that essay yet but I liked the idea of having a blooper reel because I’m so awkward.  So, here it is.  Share your stories with me!  Except for you.  I’ve never really liked you.

Doing the dance of unfamiliarity

We all get planted in new and unfamiliar situations whether it’s by choice or forced.  You know, like the time you were forced to go to overnight camp for a month when you were nine and became known as the lesbian because you spoke too closely to someone’s face.  That was not something you or I was used to or expecting and would have loved it if our or my parents flew back from France to get you/me.  However, during these times of stress and severe trauma, we are allowing ourselves to learn what it means to be ourselves and how to figure shit out in a world where every one and every place is different.

I don’t get it!

The best way to figure the rules of a situation is to observe.  Actually, that’s a lie – it isn’t.  Yesterday, my second day in a new city, I was parked on the south side of the street and couldn’t park between 9:30-11AM because this was when they cleaned the street.  At 9:25 I noticed people were getting into their cars and moving them or were just sitting in them.  I thought, oh god, does that mean I have to sit in my car for 1.5hrs?  I don’t know!  I drove around the block to notice cars double-parked on the other side of the street (it’s a one-way street), notes on double-parked windows saying “call me if you need me to move my car”, and people just standing around their cars.

After eight times around the block, I started to panic.  I couldn’t keep driving around the block for another hour!  So, I pulled over behind the double-parked cars and was satisfied.  I’m doing what ‘the people’ are doing.  I walked up a bit to check out the cars and no one was in them.  Uhhhh, so do I leave it here or do I sit in my car?  Ugh!  I couldn’t just leave my car there and I wasn’t willing to wait an hour in my car.  It was terrible.  So, I drove back around to the front of my apartment and pulled over; I had noticed the sweeper had gone by.  It was only 10am but thought it would be fine to park at that point.

Getting shown the ropes

I was getting out of the car and a man named Ricky says to me:  “I wouldn’t leave your car if I were you.”  Apparently, there was a notorious anal ticketer who hangs around until exactly 11am.  Ricky clarified:  “You turn your head for second and she will get you.  You gotta stay here until 11am on the dot.  I am willing to sit here until then because I don’t want to waste money on a $45 ticket.”  So, I sat down with Ricky and Frank, another participant in the action, on the stoop beside my car and chatted until 11am.

This chaos happens every Tuesday morning.  At first, it was stressful – I didn’t know what to do or the rules behind the Tuesday morning cleaning when everyone else seemed to know exactly what they were doing.  Even after some careful observation, I was nervous that I would be doing something wrong.  What if I did choose to stand beside my car for an hour.  Would I look silly?  Would I be wasting my time?  Only until I knew what to do, until Ricky saved me from brain despair, did I feel relaxed.

If you don’t get it, get some confidence

That might sound like a small thing to stress out about but we all do it so some degree.  It could be ordering at a new restaurant we’ve never eaten at before, that uncertainty that your new outfit is actually cool, or when you play on a new sports team.  But, once you feel comfortable, you own that shit.  It feels good when you get some reassurance and it feels even better when you can reassure someone else.  You’re so confident now that you can inform others and this power of knowledge is such a great phenomenon.  This is why people gossip but that’s an entirely different topic.

What’s your point?

I guess all I’m trying to say here is that it’s good to force yourself into the unknown and it’s OK to make mistakes, to be scared, to be unsure.  I’m such a shy and insecure individual that these moments of uncertainty allow me to build more confidence.  I saw Ricky walking around and I’m pretty sure I would have asked him what was going on.  You might think that this is all very obvious.  However, I’m one of those people (I think there might be two of us) who used to ask their friends to order food for them at McDonald’s and who stayed at home for university because I was too afraid – making friends did not come easy.   So really, putting yourself ‘out there’ is a great thing, pushing your boundaries is character building and just think of all the stories you’ll have to share.  I have way too many but that’s mostly due to my hyper-aware brain.  Again, that’s an entirely different topic.

Bukowski – Writing Post Number Eight-o

So, here is a blog/writing assignment.  It was supposed to be a personal essay on something/one that/who inspired you.  I wrote it like my blogs so, I technically killed two bird with one stone here.  I’m not sure why I found this so difficult to write but it was one hell of a task. 

Have you ever been inspired by a sandwich?  Perhaps, a grilled veggie on a foccacia or a creamy egg salad on sourdough?  Well, I have.  After not having read fiction for years due to a heavy university textbook load, I picked up a novel by an author I had never heard of before.  The back cover promised a plethora of hardship, cynicism, sarcasm, and badass-ness and, I dug it.  I left high school reading Jane Austen and kick-started the new growth of my personal library with the novel Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski.

The love affair begins

I finished the book at the beach in Malta.  While reading, I was so captivated that I didn’t realize a bee had flown in between the pages.  When I saw its head peak out, I realized the protagonist’s fighter mentality had seeped into my psyche.  Instead of throwing the book away from me and doing that girly “ew, there’s a bug” dance I would have normally done, I dropped the book, stepped on it, and killed the bee.  It was one of the few books that made me smile when I was done – that smile we produce when we are completely satisfied, like biting into your favourite dessert.  I had found my new favourite author who became my literary idol, hero and imaginary dreamboat lover.  A drawing my cousin gave me on my birthday hangs above my kitchen doorway like you might find Jesus. The following explains why.

CHINASKI!!!

I had never read anything like Ham on Rye.  The rawness and vulnerability of the lead character, Henry Chinaski, sucker-punched me in the gut.  I could relate to this guy – the way he thought, the way he spoke, the way he couldn’t connect with most people.  “This guy” was Charles Bukowski since his novels were written semi-autobiographically.  As teenagers, Bukowski and I both had a visible ‘flaw’ we were extremely embarrassed about, strived for affection but far from any attention, had a dry sense of humour, carried strong opinions and spoke with complete honesty.  Maybe it was the fact that he was willing to write about the ‘nasty’ and the ‘dirty’, the stuff most people don’t talk about, that truly fascinated me.  Although we had much in common, unlike him, I’m not a womanizing dirty old man, raging alcoholic who’s obsessed with women’s legs and betting on horses.  But, I will never say that I don’t aspire to one day become that person.

Maybe I can write…maybe

Charles Bukowski’s matter-of-fact and frank way of delivering thoughts, emotion, humour, a story, inspired me to write.  His words were simple yet meaningful.  The language I use in everyday life is simple, in speech and in written form.  His style made me realize that I didn’t have to have an extensive vocabulary, know every expression under the sun, or write magnificent prose to tell amazing stories.  I could just write and write with confidence.  It wasn’t about becoming the next Dostoyevsky, Twain, or Faulkner.

Don’t try.

Those are the two words Bukowski had engraved on his tomb and they will be the words I’ll keep close as I continue to write.  What do they mean?   It doesn’t mean trying as in being ‘motivated’; it’s when you try too hard.  The moment you try, everything becomes bullshit, phony, and insincere.  Be yourself.  Write how you want to write and not for an audience as this will stifle you.  Keep it raw.  Keep it meaningful.  Keep it beautiful.  Keep it real.

Hot, southern summer nights – Writing post number seven-o

Here’s another descriptive piece I did for my first creative writing class.  This piece is homage to my last night in New Orleans.

I was unsatisfied with my time in New Orleans; with the plastic beads being thrown at my head with indiscretion and cheesy 3-for-1 drink promotions that blanketed Bourbon St.  I had yet to discover the raw and vulnerable lyrics of blues and the desperate cries of brass I had dreamed of burning into my soul for many nights before my departure.  Why else would anyone come to New Orleans?

The cobblestone roads were hard to walk on in my gold high-heeled shoes.  The uncountable clicks of my heels and the growing pain in my feet were indication of a long night searching for that dream, that expectation.  I didn’t want to leave disappointed.  This had to be the night.

Shayna and I decided to have another go at the Chart Room where the drinks were stiff and the bartender friendly the night before.  The floor to ceiling French doors were wide open to the street as the hot and sticky air flowed in and out leaving a slight shimmer on our faces.  We made our way passed the wooden circular tables and walked up to the bar that took up most of the room.  “Vodka-7 and a vodka soda,” said the tall, thin bartender.  Excited that he had recalled from the night before I asked, “How did you remember?”  He just smiled and gave a quick wink.

We decided to sit on the stools at the bar because this was sure to get men noticing us, talking to us.  The red tattered walls were covered with pictures and kitschy local memorabilia but the dim yellow lighting made it difficult to see it all.  Candles flickered along the bar and on every table.  A sultry voice filled the room from the jukebox as locals chatted appearing to be interested in what the other was saying.  Within minutes, Shayna had drawn in a young local with a simple head tilt and a smile.  Her back now turned to me, I gave the room a once over trying to spot potential company.

In a far corner, a beautiful black woman was fanning herself.  As dark as it was in the bar, I could still see how bright red her lips were and the glitter on her eyelids.  She was laying her head against the wall with her eyes closed.  She looked exhausted.  A man who looked like a greaser from the 50’s stepped out of the washroom, walked over to her table and sat down next to her.  He whispered something in her ear and she started to laugh; her bosom bouncing up and down.

I sighed, turned back around and took a long drag from my drink until it was done.  I looked up and the bartender said shaking his finger at me, “I think I know what you want to hear.”  He walked over to the jukebox and stood there tapping his fingers on the glass looking for the song he wanted or rather, I wanted.  The next thing I knew, he was waving me over and Billie Holiday was filling my ears.  As I got closer, he put his hand out and asked, “Care to dance?”

Non-religious and counting

As I sit here pantless on my couch, picking at my very chipped nail polish, I wonder when.  When did it all go wrong?  When did I say, “Are you there, God?  No?  Honestly, I didn’t think you would be.  OK well, if you’re listening, I’m sorry but I think our relationship is over.  I mean, you’ve always been kind of distant in a non-existent kind of way.  Like, I’m really starting to feel like I’m nagging you with all my demands and no one likes a needy woman.  I just don’t like what this relationship has turned me into.

“The other day, I thought I saw you in my peripheral and got a jolt of excitement mixed with fear in my stomach because I wasn’t expecting to see you, you sneaker upper-on-er, you.  You’re almost as bad as that devil guy.  But, when I quickly turned around, all I saw was my reflection in the mirror.  I thought you seemed kind of short, even in that brief instance, but I’ve never actually seen you so, how would I know?  Anyway, was that supposed to be a sign/symbol/metaphor of who God is?  Am I….God?  What I’m trying to say is…I’m leaving you, for me.”

What in God’s name is she going on about?

For God’s sakes do we need to talk about this?  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!!  Fine.  Let’s talk about this.  I think I might have had the conversation with God in my early 20s.  I lost my mother at 13, high school was shit which led to me being depressed in my late teens/early 20s.  That, combined with conversations about ‘poo’ with my Dad (I’ll get into that in the next section), is when I started to turn my back on religion because science started to make more sense.  Where was God when I truly felt terrible?  How could God let me feel this horrible and then I’m told I’m lucky to be alive?  Fuck.  You.

On the 7th day, God created (wo)man….or was it the 6th?

Can poo be used to explain our scientific existence over religious explanations?  Obviously!  Get your head out of the gutter and get serious.  For as long as I can remember, my family (including extended) has gotten a kick out of toilet humour – the Maltese like British humour which contains a healthy amount of toilet.  So, using feces would be the best way to make us really understand a concept and of course, keep our attention.  This here (sorry dad) is a dinner conversation at Orchard’s – our common dinner spot since no one cooked in my house.  It definitely affected me since I remember where it happened and the gist of the conversation 10 years later.  This is the convo, paraphrased:

“It’s truly amazing what we know and what little we know about space, our universe and how vast it is.  We have no idea where it ends.  The difference in size between us and the universe and beyond is like how viruses are to us and maybe even more so.  Just like a microscopic virus, we ourselves could be in someone/thing elses body who is much bigger than ourselves.  We could be so insignificant that we are in someone’s poo.  And one push for them, is like millions of years for us.”  “Dad, that makes so much sense.  We probably are in someone’s poo.”  “How’s the burger?”  “Pretty good.”

But, my dad never once said he didn’t believe in God.  After his poo talk, which probably happened again because poo is funny, he always said that “someone” would have had to still create all of it.  It can be hard to believe that this all just happens to exists.

So uh, do you believe in God?

No.  I don’t.  But, I ain’t no Athiest either.

When I told God that I was leaving him for me, what I meant was that I would rely on myself from now on.  Work on myself, better myself, and move beyond the depression so that I could function in my ‘lucky’ existence.  I’ve never once thought that I gained strength to overcome depression because of God.  That notion drives me insane.  I don’t understand how people can attribute all their successes to ‘God’s help’ or ‘God’s will’.  No, it’s because you fucking did it.  God gets way more kudos than he deserves.  Give yourself some God damn props!  That being said, I’m not a religion basher.  I’m more of a religion-basher basher.  I completely respect those who have faith in a god and all I expect in return is not to be preached at.

But really, the only reason I can get away with denouncing God is because I’m baptized and will go to heaven anyway.  Sucks for all you non-Christians!  (wink)