13
May
11

Serendpity

 I entered the doors of the now deceased Kincora’s with one objective: Whiskey. Lots of whisky. No chaser. Straight up. This was my test-your-limits-of-alcohol-consumption stage of life and I sought to do just that; whiskey aided in this experiment. When you partake in numerous alcoholic episodes you pick up on strategies such as eating beforehand to boost up your drinking stamina, or not eating at all to get more bang for your buck. On this occasion, I opted for the empty-stomach approach, while simultaneously attempting to hone this technique called “Not-Breaking-the-Seal.” What goes in must come out and when it comes to mass alcohol intake, you can expect a lot of coming out. Legend has it, if you urinate at first reactionary urge; you’re doomed – just a fool running to the bathroom every fifteen minutes.

That night I decided to be no fool.

My co-worker, Josh, and I had spent a couple hours knocking back our bitter beverage choices with fury, when Sarah entered the picture. When I first started working at Dick’s she was a regular employee, she quickly took a promotion and I hadn’t seen her since. Sarah was familiar with this substance called whiskey and definitely was not shy in its presence. We didn’t know each other at all at the time, but our reindeer games went forth as we bonded over whiskey drinks.

After hours of being on top of the world, chain-smoking, and chatting it up with strange alcoholics in a dark, loud room, I decided that I was now going to Break-the-Seal. “All right! I proclaimed, making sure to give both Josh and Sarah adequate eye-contact. “I’m doing it! I’m going in!” And with that I made way to the restroom. All I know of what happened next is that it was glorious. It was relieving. And it took a really long time.

A really, really long time.

Sarah started to become concerned.

“Man, she’s been in there for a while…”

“Yeah,” Josh agreed

“Maybe you should go in and check on her?”

“I’m not goin’ in the fuckin’ ladies room! You crazy? You go check.”

Sarah found me with my head slumped against the stall. Apparently, in my state of relief and relaxation, I had fallen asleep.

“She’s passed out in there,” Sarah reported back, “I tried to wake her up but it is NOT happening.”

At my next moment of consciousness I was staring up at an unfamiliar woman peering over the stall’s edge. “Do you need any help?”

I gathered up every ounce of cool I had left. “I got this.”

I made myself decent; splashed my face, and soon found myself standing at the other end of a cigarette out front. The rain was coming down pretty steady, but my recently purchased wool hat provided all the necessary shelter. It was time for us all to part ways. My damage had been done and it was officially time to retire. Josh really wanted me to take a cab but I refused. My objective was home; I knew how to get home and some nosey cab driver would only complicate the situation.

At this point, I lived in this little green bungalow on California Avenue, one of eight – we called it the Green Ghetto. During World War II, West Seattle was littered with these things. Now, my place of residence was one of the last to remain; home to a friendly group of characters that didn’t mind hanging out together or just leaving each other alone. I spent twelve years of my life finding my way back to that little green house, with its chipped-paint and cheap rent and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to find my way home that night.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up on my couch; I was thirsty. It will always puzzle me how one can drink such quantities over the course of a night and yet still wake up so thirsty. In my haze, I grabbed water. Plenty of water. Where the hell is my back pack? I thought. I frantically began searching for my back pack. I ran up and down the stairs – in my room, out my room, checked outside – looked in strange corners I would rarely enter.

Fuck. Great.

For the life of me, I had no idea how I got home, where my back pack was, or, better question, where the hell my hat was. I could have sworn I was wearing a really awesome, recently purchased hat. With my tail between my legs and my ego knocked down a couple of notches and my incredible thirst,  I walked to the bus stop – at least I wouldn’t be late for work; at least I could do that right. I snatched up a bus schedule upon boarding the Metro and scanned it looking for the Lost and Found number.

New plan: one, call up Metro Lost and Found and see if left it on the bus and a kind Samaritan turned it over; two, ask Josh if I even left with my back pack – maybe I just left it at Kincora’s. God, I hope I left it at Kincora’s

While the bus escorted me to my next destination I pondered all the contents of my back pack that I may have lost.

Dirty work shirt? Meh. Who cares about a dirty work shirt? Some journals I been writing in over the years? Why the hell was I even dragging them around? I’ve never filled one all the way through…What was that banjo song I wrote a few weeks back? I’ll never replicate how that thing went. I think I liked it…I really liked that back pack…Did I pass out in the bathroom?

Once downtown, I got off to transfer to another coach that would trudge me up the hill. I lit up a smoke and headed to bus-stop-number-two on the daily journey. Most of the time Downtown treats me all right. Some instances can be a little sketchy but my slight scowl from not wearing my glasses, carefully placed tattoos and my general she-could-have-a-knife appearance allows me just enough breathing room from the common city dweller. If someone speaks to me, I speak back and I always remain skeptical. Out of my peripheral I noticed someone speeding up to my pace and lingering. I looked over.

“How’s it goin’?”  They inquire.

“Goin’ good.” I said with tired confidence.

“MAN. You were fuck-ed UP last night!”

”Yeah,” I replied with a nervous smile. “It happens…” I kept aim for the bus stop and took a heavy puff of smoke as the stranger broke away.

Did he see my back pack? He sure as hell saw me…but where?

As soon as I walked into to work, Josh had a big cheesy grin on his face. I smiled weakly back as he let out a loud, jocular laugh.

“Hey, did I leave with my back pack?”

“From the spot? You had a back pack?”

“Yeah. You don’t remember if I had my back pack? How ‘bout my hat? Did I have my hat, you remember?”

Josh’s face took a more contemplative form. “I don’t remember, dude. Honestly. You make it home all right?”

“Yeah…I made it. I just don’t know what the crap happened to my back pack. Eh, can I use your phone?”

“For sure. I left it upstairs. It’s in my pants pocket.” I climbed the steps up to where the bathrooms and coat hangers are located, pulled out the folded bus schedule and grabbed Josh’s cell phone and dial with hope.

Of course, a phone call of importance always takes the scenic route. One operator leads to the next. The reception goes hay wire. I call back and am put on hold. Finally, I end up talking to the first person I talked to, who has had the information the whole time, and hang up feeling like they’re all laughing at their little desks…What they hell did she mean, I have nothing “matching a back pack” – do they have the  back pack or not? I don’t get it. This is serious!  I’m not trying co-ordinate an outfit, here…

I began my shift just as puzzled as when I woke up.

“Any luck?”

“Nah. They have nothing “matching a back pack,” I parrot. “Maybe I left it at Kincora’s?”

“Maybe. I really don’t remember, dude…I tried to get you in a cab, but you were like ‘nooooo.” Josh broke out that same shit-eating grin he wore at my first arrival. “You remember what happened before you left?” He asked with an ear-to-ear smile.

“Oh yeaaahhh.” This was the part that I was hoping really didn’t happen.

“Passin’ out in the bathroom! HAH! You were takin’ hella long and Sarah was like, “You should go in there” and I was like, “Fuck. I ain’t going in THERE.” Finally, she went in and, dude, you were passed out! She couldn’t get you to wake up so finally she got the bartender to go in there to getchoo.”

“You don’t remember if I had my hat with me?” I probe, hoping to focus the conversation away from that incident.

“Nah. Don’t remember you havin’ a hat.”

“Great….”

It’s all I could think about for the next eight hours, especially with Josh hanging the whole bathroom ordeal over my head and my boss preaching: Maaaiiiinn-taaaaaiiiin. Just say that to yourself whenever you go out drinking. Maaaiiiinn-taaaaaiiiin. You don’t gotta get wasted every time you go out.  You’re not gonna impress anyone; always better to Maaaiiiinn-taaaaaiiiin. C’mon, repeat it along with me – it’s like a mantra. Maaaiiiinn-taaaaaiiiin…

By the end of my shift I just wanted a decent night’s rest and to know where my back pack and hat was. I rushed out at the end of my shift. Just as suspected, Kincora’s wasn’t open. Well, suppose I’ll give ‘em a call later, I thought. I trekked through downtown, giving up all hope. I wondered if there were any other mysterious pedestrians among the crowd of faces that had seen me or my back pack the previous night.

Oh well. Too bad about that back pack, better pick one up next paycheck…how the hell did that banjo song go? I wonder what kind of back pack I should get. I barely even got to wear that hat around town. I could always hassle Metro again tomorrow- and I’ll try that Kincora’s thing again. Maaaiiiinn-taaaaaiiiin.

It had been a long day and I was ready to throw in the towel. There’s always a sense of relief I feel cruising over the West Seattle Bridge, hitting up 35th, just making it back into West Seattle; the knowledge of being able to scour the terrain care-freely. I can get pretty much anywhere in with the confidence that I can make it from Point A to Point B with relative ease. I made my way up the steps from California and now stood looking eastward toward my tiny, comforting home. There stood eight small houses before me, facing each other, four to a side; mine to the furthest right, next to the alley. As I closed in on my dwelling, there seemed to be an object on the front steps. I don’t usually wear my glasses so I allowed myself to get nearer before I confirmed my suspicions.

BANG! BACK PACK.

In what seemed to be delirious dis-belief, I lifted my precious Swiss Army back pack with all of its wondrous pouches and pockets and air-flow back cushion. I set it back down and yanked the zipper to one side. My hat! Check. Why is my hat wet? Dirty work shirt. Check. Journals! Check! My stuff! My sweet, dear, lovelies!

No way.

I opened the door with hurried fervor and sat on my couch with my bag at my feet. There was no question that the contents had been rifled through. Everything was disheveled. My hat was wet. I reasoned that in my drunken state I probably got sick of my new hat being dumped on and put in my bag on my way downtown. What happened afterwards could be anyone’s guess. I made it home, which was the most important part. But, how my back pack made it home was the mystery at hand. I placed my hat on the coffee table and pulled out my dirty work shirts. Next came my notebooks. Who woulda thought? I pondered over whether or not the person who found my bag read any of the crap I scribbled down on those pages. I would have. I would have read every word and judged the person that lost track of their back pack.

I remembered the time my friend Emma got smashed and accidently left her bag on the bus. The sorrow she felt over having to let go of her paperback edition of Moonwalker with all her favorite Michael Jackson quotes underlined, I remembered her Smurf lunch pail that Margie had given her that she used to house an array of trinkets. I remembered how pissed she was when the culprit that found her back pack mailed back her ID. “Fuck that ID,” she would say after opening the envelope. “The inconsiderate muther fucker sent me the most useless, replaceable item outta my entire back pack!”

For a moment, I felt an incredible gratitude towards the kind soul that found my bag. I decided that I was going to read every page that I had scrawled on in those notebooks. It felt good. As I thumbed through the pages I considered what the person that returned my bag thought while they read through years of a stranger’s gibberish and hoo-hah. I found things, ideas, fragments that I had all together forgotten. I saw things that I found enjoyable to read. Huh. I wrote that? Not too shabby…I was thankful. I hoped that the person that kindly decided to find out where I lived thought that my chicken-scratch wasn’t too shabby – that maybe I seemed like a pretty decent person that ought to have their writing back. I found that banjo song I was worried about. Why did I think this was so great?

After finishing up my notebooks, I continued into by bag – so far nothing was taken. I opened the front pouch and found a pay stub. My address. That’s how they knew where I lived. This wonderful human being rifled through my bag, foond my pay stub and dropped my bag off at my door step. All the stress and tensions of the day quickly wavered away. I decided I was never going to carry around multiple notebooks like I was going to fill them up in one day – that would only last a couple weeks. I gotta have something to write on. Maybe that’s how I’ve acquired so many journals throughout my life. Maybe if I were to lose one at least it wouldn’t be jam-packed with irreplaceably crafted sentences and doodles. To this day, I always have a notebook on hand. One – at least if I misplace it I won’t be losing too much. Most of the time I toss my pay stubs away prior to exiting the bank but, on occasion, one will find its way into some random spot in my bag. I’ll catch it every now and again. Smile. And shove back to where ever it came from. You never know when you’re gonna need one of those…

02
Sep
10

John T. Williams Will Be Remembered

Seattle – August 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm a homeless Native man was shot to death. The Seattle Police Department knew him as John T. Williams, the descendant of a wood carving family. Many officers knew him by name and many hated him. There is no doubt in my mind that they hated him and that he was murdered. How do I know that he was well known among our local community of officers? How do I know that he was hated? Quite simply, I work at Dick’s Drive-Ins on Broadway. I’ve worked there for over 5 years and I have witnessed the mistreatment of Mr. Williams firsthand – along with the whole homeless Native posse that oscillate between Downtown and Broadway.

At Dick’s he was known as Poop E. Pants – as none of us knew his name and he was notorious for circling the Dick’s parking lot daily, pestering patrons for change, with fecal stains on the back of his pants. It wasn’t until an officer disclosed his name that we knew him as John T. Williams. An officer once pointed out to a fellow employee that he was a wood carver and (according to the officer) even has a carving in the Smithsonian.

When one thinks of Dick’s Drive-Ins they think of customers who care (somewhat) about what exactly they eat, family business, and charity (as Mr. Dick Spady is well known for his local contributions). This makes Dick’s Drive-Ins an easy target for the homeless and the fiends. In some light, John T. Williams could be considered both. He was homeless and alcohol was his drug of choice. He was relentless to get what he wanted, but he was never violent and no way was was he deserving to be blasted away.

Beyond loitering and drinking in public he understood the law and would give you no reason to use force upon him. He would let you bully him away but would not act violently towards you. Time after time I’ve witnessed managers escorting him off our lot (they say it hurts the business). Time and time again I have witnessed the cops being called on him. Not one of those times did I ever see him try to attack or hurt a single person. He might curse you to high heaven, flip you off and call you a bitch – but he would not lay a finger on you.

He got hit with trespassing, but he wouldn’t let that stop him – as I said earlier, he was relentless – he’d come back and let the cops get called on him. He’s been charged with misdemeanors and indecent exposure, but you couldn’t get much else on him.

On the misdemeanors: He was a drunk and a vagrant. He may have carved beautifully, but he was a drunk. When you’re homeless and want to drink the only place you got is the public. He was not selfish, he was part of the homeless Native posse – a band of alcoholics who hang out on Pike Street and ask for change. All they have is each other and they make sure to look out for one another.

On the indecent exposure: Due to his excessive use of alcohol and continuous beratement he was blinded. He often times came by Dick’s with excrement, if not on his clothing, running down his leg.
He earned the title “Poop E. Pants.”

He didn’t just come to Dick’s as Poop E. Pants. Sometimes he was Poop E. Scrubs, Poop E. No-pants. Poop E. Skirt, Poop E. Boxer-Briefs. Once he shocked us all by bearing bright orange skinny-jeans with (as Janet’s PR would put it) a “malfunctioning” zipper. And yes, he was quite trim for a homeless guy.

In other words, he was a pain. He consumed the SPD’s time and would never have the money to pay off any ticket he was issued. Though many of my co-workers got quite a chuckle over him. I find the issue no laughing matter.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen Mr. Pants up at my work and I’ve seen how many times the cops came to waste their time on this guy. I’ve witnessed officers take his unopened beers, shake them up vigorously, laugh about it and send him on his way because they had nothing on him. I’ve seen my managers (even a fellow employee) go onto our parking lot with a metal pole in attempts to intimidate him. Of course, they wouldn’t hit him with the pole. If they were to strike him it would be wrong. Unjust. Which is exactly why he never pushed, hit, or provoked…it would only give them reason.

It’s been reported that he was shot anywhere from 4-6 times.

Cops hated this guy. They hated him and he was murdered. He hated them right back, he wouldn’t go away – why would he? His ancestors were here much longer than some young cop barking commands at him. He was home.

It was witnessed, by fellow employees, that he spat on an officer days before he was executed. It was witnessed by myself (days before the spitting incident) that he was pushed and shoved by a female officer in front of Dick’s as she told him to get lost, and as she did the other two male cops laughed and smirked as he swore at her, turned around and walked down the street. Reason for dispatch: panhandling at Dick’s Drive-In.

If I were John T. Williams and I got pushed by a cop as others laughed about it – damn right I’d spit on the next who told me what to do.

Mr. Williams was found with a 3 in pocket knife and a piece of wood. I don’t believe for one second that he threatened to harm or endanger any officer – or any one for that matter. An eye witness reported the Seattle Times that he didn’t even “look at the officer,” and I’m damn sure he was just carving. Many of us at Dick’s were impressed with how long he could hang on to a single piece of wood. He even had one board in particular for nearly a month, slowly working away at it. Some co-workers would scoff, remarking that there was nothing on the board, thinking he was walking around with a “sign” as all the junkies on Broadway do…It was no sign. He was showing his carving and asking for change.

In his final weeks he started yelling at the ground and became less responsive to officers. Honestly, he probably just stopped caring about what they had to say – he wasn’t the only homeless Native downtown, and he certainly won’t be the last – and just as Dick’s Drive-Ins is an easy target for the homeless, the homeless are an easy target for the police.

Treat someone like a dog and they will act like a dog.

I know his posse – I’ve had beers with them and conversed with them. I too, am Native American. It’s a sad issue and my heart goes out to all of them. None of them would harm a soul…unless provoked. Some officers make it a part-time job of provoking.

I’ve sat back and watched Mr. Williams get abased by co-workers, bosses, and others who consider themselves “authorities.” They’ve all taken their turns to speak, now I am taking mine. Please, listen.

Authority is merely power without presence. Mr. John T. Williams gave no one authority over him and neither will anyone else from his crew. I pray that he wasn’t used as an example to the other homeless Natives and I pray that the ones that were close to him are given some space for the time being. They have just been provoked. His murder has not not solved one damn problem, it has only created more. Seattle’s homeless Native population is the main issue at hand and recent actions only cause for more tension. I hope the officer in question sleeps well through his paid vacation…he will need plenty of rest.

When officers are murdered they die in Glory, they become Heroes. No one hears on the news about the bribes they were taking, they drugs they were wheelin’ – the drug dealers they were pining against each other and setting up – they die with Honor and become Heroes.

I’m not saying all cops are assholes. In fact, I’m positive that many are out there doing what they think is right and abiding by what they understand to be the “law.” Many strive to make communities safer and are genuinely good human beings. There are a few officers out there that I know personally, I respect what they do and and their hearts are in the right place.

What I am saying is that others die, too. No one will know their story and many won’t care. What I am saying is that it’s a damn shame that there are officers out there laughing and smirking – happy to see Mr. John T. Williams get lost. It’s a damn shame that he be used as an example to others on the street who stick with what they believe in, who are alone in their battles and that back talk the living daylights out of “authorities.”

The day after Mr. Williams was shot to death, the parking lot at Dick’s Drive-In was eerily empty. No one harassing customers. Instead, a few Natives stood out in front next to the newspaper bins – the prime begging spot. The junkies took a day off and out of respect let the Natives have it. I hope some officers, out of respect, give a little space to the homeless Native posse. They are grieving hard. I hope, out of respect, justice is served.

20
May
09

“Had a Bad Day”

Actually – I’ve had a bad three weeks, but that just happens to be the title of a crappy Muzak song that I’m constantly forced to listen to at work. It also happens to be the song that caused me to cheer up. I guess my whole crappiness started around the time I lost my backpack…

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been doing nothing but screwing off and dinkin’ around – pretty much just getting wasted and not focusing on my priorities. It could all just be because I really didn’t want to go to school this quarter but managed to force myself into doing it anyways. It was during my weeks of inebriation that I managed to get blacked-out wasted at a party that I didn’t even want to go to, stumble around incoherently, scrape my knee, and lose track of my backpack.

I’m pretty sure some damn cabby found it in their backseat and kept it all to themselves because of all the awesome treasures inside.

Bonnie even made up some story about how cabbies like to instill education in their children and that maybe the cabby gave it to their kid and now this kid – with my graphing calculator and trig notes – is gonna become some genius who discovers a cure for cancer or something. Nice try Bonnie.

I called all the cab companies around and was told “I’m sorry, we have nothing matching a backpack.” I know he went straight to his Cabby Circle and bragged about the sweet loot he scored off of some drunk chick who happens to be a very generous tipper around 3 o’clock in the morning.

I can get over losing all my notes for the quarter, I’m over having to purchase another copy of “Heart of Darkness” and I sure as hell don’t care about my dirty work-shirt. It was the loss of my graphing calculator that stabbed the knife in and it was the the fact that I’ll never see my composition book (that’d I’d been working in for a couple of years) that really twisted the blade; especially since I know that I had just written down a couple of songs for my banjo that I, for the life of me, will never remember.

Well, I finally got my bike, that’s been settin’ brokenly in my kitchen for the past year, fixed and I finally got my ID renewed (which expired nine months ago) so I thought things would finally be pickin’ up, but I just can’t seem to dig myself outta this funk. And my ever so unstable living situation surely hasn’t helped.

So, I decided to surround myself around some good company and have a barbecue down at Lincoln Park on Sunday and kick it in the sunshine. The barbecue was good – ate some meat, drank some beer, hung out with friends I don’t get to see that often because I’m too busy at the Pity Party, but I also managed to play hookie from school on Thursday and Monday – which translates into “I didn’t do any homework. I just spent a bunch of money.”

Yup. I somehow (I know exactly how) didn’t care that I practically threw six hundred dollars down the drain – only two-fifty actually went to a “good cause.” The rest – Down the Drain.

It was yesterday when I decided enough is enough: Time to undo all the damage I caused over the last few weeks and get back to business. I put myself back on restriction – no more alcohol or “fun” until the end of the quarter – it won’t be too bad, just two more math exams (with some homework on the side) and two five page papers and a history final. All will be well.

Yesterday also happened to be a test run. I knew Bobby had the night of drinking in mind – but, alas, I said no. Of course, he replied with “Well, just ’cause you goofed off for the last three weeks…you can’t come over and watch Southland with me? C’mon, you’re not really gonna do your homework anyways.”

You bastard – you were the cause of a lot of goofing off and I’m not falling for it this time. No. I will not watch Southland with you. Yes, I will do my homework.
And that was it. I passed.

So I did end up doing homework, which felt productive, but I’m not too convinced that I’ll be doing Summer quarter this year. All that crap crammed into eight weeks…and the sunshine…and the bike rides…and the FUN. Well, I might take one class.

Anyhoo.

I couldn’t get any sleep last night – a good sign that I’m back – and so I got some history crap outta the way and started a book we have two weeks to finish. I had every intention of going to sleep at a decent time, but it gets a little hard with the thinking and planning and once 5:30 hits and the birds surely aren’t shutting up there’s no going back.

I will repair all the damage I have done. I will be productive and I will go to the coffee shop at six in the morning and force myself to read a damn book (which is actually really interesting) and I will not make a repeat of the previous incidences.

It was at the coffee shop when the “Had a Bad Day” song started blaring. Man, I hate that song. Not just because it’s crappy, but (as most crappy songs do) it gets lodged in my damn brain and I just can’t shake it.

The first time I smiled about that song was when an old co-worker came up to me and said, “I got a lot of respect for that song.” Then he told me some elaborate story about how this gal was addicted to drugs and turned her life around and that’s what the song is about.

I replied, “It’s a guy, Kyle.”

He shook his head and that was the end of that for a couple of days – until he came up to me and said, “You know, I think it IS a guy. Huh.”

Huh.

Well, I was sitting at the coffee shop, getting into my book when the song kicked in and I thought, Kyle’s got a lot of respect for this song.Then I turn to the left of me and there’s this bum guy with his cup of coffee staring out the window nodding his head up and down to the song. For some reason, perhaps the sleep deprivation, I couldn’t help but smile and think – He’s got a lot of respect for this song.

25
Mar
09

Stephen Claussen is Dead (may 20, 2008)

First of all, I awoke at 5:50 am – only I thought it was pm – so my first thought was ‘my boss is mad at me.’ (right after, WHAT TIME IS IT?) I ran into my living room to turn on the TV and see if the “morning news” was on. It was. Damn these undefinable evenings! I lied on the couch watching the news; wondering if I was really in condition to go to class. While mustering up the courage to get moving and factor radicals and contemplate the Swarzchild Ratio and so on, a tidbit of news perked my ear….Stephen Claussen has died following a plane crash in New Jersey.

Stepen Claussen is the guy who brought Keiko the Whale’s plight to international attention; resulting in Keiko’s freedom, a movie for the kids (Free Willy), and the awareness of the mistreatment of captive whales. Stephen Claussen was young and self-educated. My props and condolences go to those who care.

After a little self-motivation I got up and on my way. While on the bus at way-too-early in the morning I noticed this lady standing in front of me. She had a secretive smile as she listened to her iPOD (you can tell by those stupid white earphones) and all I wanted to know is what the hell she was listening to. She had short hair, was a little older – but fit for her age and I wanted to know what was so damn entertaining. I am also one of those people who will read over your shoulder if you sit next to me on the bus and I happen to have nothing with me.

Anyways, she kept pulling the iPOD out of her pocket and looking at it for a moment, then would put it back in her pocket. Wash, rinse, repeat. Finally, I got a good anlge and I noticed it was “Will You Be There” she was listening to. She also had the video downloaded onto it; so, she was watching the video. She would pull it out periodically and watch Michael Jackson dance around and put it back down and look at it again. Wash, rinse, repeat. I smiled, now knowing what she was smiling about. I wished, for a moment, that that damn iPOD was mine and I was watching Michael Jackson dance around. Then I wondered – did she know Stepehen Claussen had died?

25
Mar
09

Little plastic hats and little plastic gloves…and getting old

Where do all the the little old ladies of the world get those plastic, see-through bonnets and those matching gloves? Is there a special section in Bartell’s labeled “little old lady aisle” that is only visible through the coke-bottle lenses from a pair of 1960′s frames? I do believe so. I’ve never seen these items in any local pharmacy or grocery store. Yet, I do see them littered all over the city on a rainy day atop many a little-old-lady head.

It doesn’t even have to be raining – it could look like it has rained or may rain in a few days or so and these ladies will be milling about fully geared up on a mission to god knows where – or BINGO. And what exactly is the function of the plastic see-through glove? To keep your hands dry? What happens to an old lady if they make contact with water? Do I have to wait until I am, in fact, an old lady to get these kind of answers? Is there a special old lady initiation ceremony where I will receive a little plastic, see-through bonnet to protect my hair and little plastic gloves to match so my fingers don’t get wet? I surely bet so.

This is also where my bright flowery shirt, color co-ordinated slacks and pair of sparkling white KEDs will be handed to me. The glasses, of course, will have been updated by then and the fake gold jewelery and fake pearls must be self-provided. Then I can finally get my little curly-haired yappy dog. This will also be about the time my friend and I sit on park benches, doing crossword puzzles together and getting in pointless arguments. I might say something like, “No, Emma. I said 27 across.”

And she will retort with, “Well, If you didn’t mumble all the time…”

Then I might say something like. “Well, you just never goddamn listen to me….Look, now you’re upsetting the little curly-haired yappy dog.”

Then she might say, “Pish,” and then we’ll go our separate ways with our little plastic see-through bonnets and gloves and all the young girls will say, “Where in the hell did they get those?”

22
Mar
09

Shut Up!

I never really got what the big deal was about telling people to shut up. If they are speaking (and drunk) they should probably shut up. I’ve even told myself to shut up on many occasions – at least in my head. The other day, however, I was sitting in a Mc Donalds with my biggest hangover of the year trying to nurse myself back into health. I was leaving for a camping trip that day which meant I got really wasted the night before and didn’t eat that much – when your wasted you tend to forget things like nourishment and human decency; unless it is thrown in your face. For some reason, a Happy Meal will always do the trick…I guess it goes along with the whole wanting to be pampered thing and feeling like a helpless child.

So, anyways, I get to this Mc Donalds, order my Happy Meal (which wasn’t making me too Happy) and I decide to sit there, for way too long, and not throw up my cheeseburger and fries when suddenly there’s a swarm of customers – including a couple of young women and about five kids. I sit there grazing some bun of my burger while watching these children scream and want in there little-kid ways and the whole time the main-mom one is sreaming at her kids telling them to SHUT UP! None of the kids were older than five and this “mother” is yelling SHUT UP every ten seconds.

I wanted to slap my cheeseburger in her face and tell her she’s the one that should shut up. I imagined myself rising from my seat, squishing the burger into her face and yelling, “You ain’t Little Richard, Lady!”

My mom never told me to shut up – neither did my aunts and uncles – I’ve been told to be quiet or “hush” (my personal favorite) but never shut up. I wanted to tell that lady that she was just turning her kids into a bunch of unheard misfits who will probably go to there class and tell their teachers and other classmates to shut up ’cause they don’t want to hear them anymore. But I’m not that type of “in yo’ face” person – maybe if I’m drunk – but I was also really hungover and went to the bathroom to vomit, instead. I left feeling angry about these neglected and unheard children.

But wait – there’s more…

So I get to my cousins house to rendezvous before the big trip and all I hear is my cousin’s girlfriend tellin’ her kid to SHUT UP! We also had a couple of other kids who went along and she was tellin’ them to Shut Up, too. By day three I about had it with the trip. I realized that last year when we went to Idaho – she was really pissing me off around day three – 70% of what comes out of her mouth is something that shouldn’t be uttered around children. While we were sleeping in the tent and other kids wandered over our way she was yelling Shut Up! at them.

She later realized that they weren’t “our” kids and stopped, but I don’t think she should have been yelling that in the first place. If she can recognize that yelling SHUT UP! at other people’s kids is wrong – why is it okay to do it to her own?

Note to self – Don’t hang out with Blair more than three days…Have kids – then listen to them.

Oh, yeah – and the Happy Meal thing doesn’t work anymore.

22
Mar
09

Spaghettio’s and Kool-Aid and nothing at all…

It was in the eleventh grade when Mrs. Lemcio asked us to write about what home meant to us. During this episode of my life I mostly skipped class, smoked a bunch of pot, and drank way more alcohol than I should have. So, it was under these circumstances that I wrote that home was Spaghettio’s and Kool-Aid. At first, I think I was just trying to be quirky, but then I began to explain how there was always Kool-Aid in the fridge – at my house, Grandma’s, Aunties – at any place considered a home, to me. And when my cousin would stay over (and when he came to live with us) his mom sent him with a plastic grocery bag filled with Spaghettio’s and extra packets of Kool-Aid. I never really liked Spaghettio’s until he came to live with us – we shared many Spaghettio lunches together.

After my mom got sick and my dad and I moved around, life was filled with hot dogs and Top Ramen – I hadn’t seen a packet of Kool-Aid or Spaghettio’s in several years. So, I left the classroom confident in my esoteric writing skills and went on to continue my gluttonous ways.
When I came back to class I saw a grocery bag on my desk and figured (in my slightly intoxicated state) that some one had carelessly left their belongings behind. I looked inside the bag and found two cans of Spaghettio’s and two packages of Kool-Aid (the fancy kind with the sugar already measured in it). I looked up at Mrs. Lemcio who said, “Welcome home.” I never ate the Spaghettio’s, nor did I drink the Kool-Aid; I promptly placed them in my cupboard where they remained for the next several years until the Green Ghetto got torn down.

Bobby came over late the other night – drunk and vulnerable, like he does every year around his birthdate. What am I supposed to do? He asked – Be a grill cook my whole life. I can’t be a drug counselor, that’s what he is – and I hate him. Bobby’s going through a mid-mid-life crisis. I think it’s funny that he comes to me when he needs someone to confide in – I’m really not the best candidate. I’m too selfish. Besides, I don’t even know what I should be doing, myself.

When I was little I wanted to be a tree…I think the most profound thing I ever said was, “Look, Grandma, the trees are angry!” –while watching the trees contort in the wind. When I got a little older I wanted to be a secretary just like my aunt Marva; Office Administrator as she recently has corrected me. I thought it was cool that she got free pens, binders, and paper.
It was the summer between middle school and high school that I decided that I wanted to be a film director…before that was actor/comedian, then screen writer. Any of the above would be a suitable way of life – ultimately it is film director that leads my passions in life.
For a few years I just went through the motions of life – rote memory…

Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Repetition, Repetition
Ain’t it neat, neat, neat

…that’s from the beginning of a book I never finished – that, hopefully, someday I will. Why not, it took Vonnegut twenty-five years to finish Slaughterhouse-Five. It could take Becera twenty + years to finish The Life and Times of Petri Falter (I’m only on five).

I’ve always sort of winged it through life – starting with some bullshit (Spaghettio’s and Kool-Aid) then backing it up with some hard facts. I think I, too, went through a mid-mid-life crisis a while back but pulled myself out with some good ol’ fashioned shit talk.

I told my boss the other day that I finally remembered what it was that I wanted to do with my life. I told him I had just lost my focus for a while. Of course, I mumble so he thought I said ‘compass’. I kind of liked that better so I joked, “Yeah, I lost my compass and couldn’t figure out what direction to go.” I suppose I still don’t have a direction. I go to school (college)…and less then one percent of the world population graduates from college – I’ve always liked being part of the minority. And I work. R. Buckminster Fuller said that work is man’s necessity – and essentially his only religion. And I know what I want to do for a living – to make people feel how I feel by showing them images and illustrating them with words and music.

I guess that’s all the direction one could ask for…




And I quote…

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