Snippet

A snippet of my life. (What a stupid word.)

I sit at the desk I bought for $60 because it was the cheapest and assembled with only half of the required hardware because it was not included and also because I am not quite the handyman I would like to be. I sit in my $30 chair from Walmart, which exists in literally the same exact universe as the desk. The fabric which lines my chair cushion is a cheap sort of of suede knock-off, which leave a perfect impression of my ass cheeks whenever I stand up. At some point I will fall on my ass, let out a giant sigh, and throw this chair into the middle of the street. Right now I am calmed by the candle my lovely girlfriend bought me, which is called “Caribbean Market,” and I wonder if its creators have ever been outside of Minnesota, or wherever they come from. I am also calmed by a couple of beers from after work today. Also by some pot, which creates a much better effect knowing that I bought an ounce for only $50 – a huge discount that gets me higher than the drug, sometimes.

I type on my $200 Windows laptop, which basically runs on a small memory card I had to put in because the computer is cheap and would crash every time I went to write something. I have a backpack, which is one of my most used items. It is black and I bought it on eBay for close to $10 and then waited two months for it to ship from China. When the zipper broke days later, I refused to buy another, as the whole point in having this one is in the price I paid for it. By now, my girlfriend has sewn in a patch from our trip to New Mexico on the left. On the right is a pin from Melanie Martinez, a pop artist whom I admire. The backpack has two more of her pins, and it is held together at the top by a zip-tie. It used to be a knot that I sewed into the backpack to replace the zipper, but I broke that as well. During a panic attack, I also ripped the front pocket off to get to my anti-anxiety medication. If this backpack can be sewn together again, so can I. Or something like that? Sew can I. haha.

Lately, I listen to bands I grew up with like Catch-22 and NoFx and Against Me!, but I will listen to a lot of different things. Not anything, though. No one on Earth listens to everything. I have always adored music, but I listen to podcasts and audiobooks more than anything else these days.

I have worked at the liquor store at which I am now a “beer manager” for about two years. In that time, the last beer manager was arrested for stealing upwards of $100k from the owners. One-hundred thousand dollars. At a liquor store! I really do love the owners that I work for – one Indian woman and one from Wyoming, who were both thrust into the business at the will of their husbands – but sometimes I’m grateful for the last beer manager making such a mess of things and acting like such a terrible person. It makes things much easier for me now, as my basic job is just to order things and then not steal them.

I dropped out of my local community college this semester, because I have genuinely not learned anything in the couple of years that I have spent there. This is not to say that the teachers are unintelligent, but that they seem to hate teaching. In every class I had this semester, all of my teachers took the role of arbitrator, telling the class to talk about something while they would pop in and out with the “correct answers.” I’d rather someone just actually teach me, and so I have been collecting the (not to advertise) Great Courses audiobooks. I can have a trained, more sophisticated professor with better credentials talk at me for like, $30 a semester. Too bad it won’t matter in any part of the real world, but a girl can dream.

If you forced me to make a plan for my life – and I’m pretty sure you’d have to force me – it would be to fix my garbage car and buy a conversion van with my girlfriend, where we can realistically pay around $75 a month for rent and actually do things and be happy. But if you told me that I’d be stuck in this basement with spiders, and terrible neighbors, and no running car for years, I’d still be by her side.

 

Snippet

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I’m Sorry, Mr. Bukowski

While walking around the lake again today, (yes, the lake that is in the town which I claim to hate so much. I cannot completely rationalize why I do not fix my car and get out of here instead of always walking around the lake, but I do know that it can be damn comforting sometimes, proving that maybe I don’t hate this place as much as I claim. But, yes, I do) I realized something that makes me somewhat sad: I cannot handle the work of Charles Bukowski. Yeah, I’m 23 and a dropout and a millennial, so I understand that, theoretically, he should be some sort of patron saint for me. Today I began listening to Ham on Rye and was almost immediately turned off. Bukowski begins the novel (which is pretty obviously just his real life) by recounting his first memories; the first is of his coming into consciousness underneath a table. The author recounts being entranced by the table and its cloth, but not by the humans in the room. Charles then remembers his parents fighting, and his grandmother being in the room, who he callously punches in the face. This is all objectively funny, but knowing that it thrust into existence a man who would quickly begin to loathe life and all that it has to offer is just too much for me at this time.

I’m depressed, sure. Socially anxious? Sign me up. But to suggest that even Bukowski was absolutely hopeless directly after birth is not only tragic beyond entertaining, it’s also just wrong.

On Writing was the first work I read by Bukowski, and in all honesty, all I can say I have finished by him. The book is a collection of mostly letters to editors and publishers and what some may consider friends. The book is endlessly funny, and I laughed while reading a book more than I can remember in the last few years.

 

Today at the park I walked passed someone who I had been in class with this semester. This was a class that I had dropped out of, and so I found the sight of him interesting. He is a late 20-something who ​was in the military, was injured, and was now looking for his next step in life. I really do wish this guy – I can’t remember his name at the moment – luck. Not because ‘the world is a hard place’ or anything like that, but because this guy has the most intimidating military in the world under his belt as a reference and is still not progressing much further than I am, it seems. I hate to say it, but I don’t think that Clement Park will in the future be regarded as a breeding ground for genius.

A note to the reader: I misspelled genius on the first try.

 

My attraction to Charles Bukowski is the same one that I have for many artists: the act of taking something mundane and making it interesting. It’s what all of my favorite artists can do so well – David Sedaris, Marc Maron, Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor, Max Bemis, etc. The thing my personal favorites do, opposed to Bukowski, is pull themselves out of their darkest states. That is where the real comedy resides. I’m not trying to put a label on Bukowski, (not that it would ever matter) but the works he writes are closer to tragedy than anything else. To simply dismiss one’s potential as a life of misery is a truly foolish act. This makes my struggle with Bukowski one that is too close to home sometimes, as I too, can often feel hopeless. So the catch twenty-two becomes that I resonate with this hopelessness which makes me feel better, but then I know that I don’t want to feel hopeless because it makes me feel worse.

So, I am sorry to the late Mr. Charles Bukowski, and to the baby-boomers who based their ideals upon the Beats generation, and I am sorry to the countless college students my age who think that ‘YOLO’ might be a serious lifestyle, because that sucks. If I can walk around some stupid, old-person ridden, goose-shit strewn puddle and be constantly amazed at how transformative the act of going outside can be, I am positive that so many, like Mr. Bukowski, have sold themselves short.

People are meant to struggle, and to have things to deal with, and to not be okay all of the time. It’s so trite and kitsch, but if that shit didn’t happen life wouldn’t be worth living. It is often a struggle for me to not break down every day, but I know (and I’d argue that deep down Bukowski knew) that there is a reason behind the bullshit. And even if there isn’t, you hope that there is so that you can try and be a more empathetic, compassionate, understanding human being.

 

As I’m writing this, my roommate’s dog is letting out the most annoying fucking bark I swear to God you have ever heard.

Walking Is Still Honest

I love walking. My car currently doesn’t work, and so I do a lot of it. My work is about a mile and a half away from where I live, which gives me quite a nice walk through the largest local park, which has a big lake in the middle. Most days I go into work at 9 a.m., and the walk is largely empty of pedestrians. When I leave, however, the residents of the assisted-living homes really come out to adventure. On Saturdays especially, there are maybe 60 or so elderly wandering the mile and a half long trail around the lake. The worst part of walking this lake (for anyone who is under the age of 60) is the problem of passing someone. I am not a particularly fast walker, but these old people really keep an inconvenient speed. This morning, for example, I spent maybe half of my walk consoling myself that passing the old man and his assumed grand-daughter was wrong. Instead of passing them, and causing a distraction with my tattered backpack and black skinny-jeans, I stayed behind them. This soon gave me anxiety, as I felt like I was following too close behind them. “What are ya, tryin’ to kidnap my Sally?” I envisioned the old man yelling.

This thought caused me to hunch over and slow my pace even more. Now if someone saw me, I thought they’d assume I was some junkie, trying to wake himself up from last night’s bender with a walk around the park. What a disgrace.

This thought caused me to suddenly perk up. I wanted to speed-walk around these losers, show them who was boss. I wasn’t any junkie, I was on my way to work! Sure, it was at a liquor store, but I just supplied the junkies, I wasn’t one myself.

The town I live in is also not so conducive to walking, and so leaving work proves to be somewhat problematic as well. I could wait at the nearest stop light, which takes an average of 12 minutes to change – or I can, and always do, j-walk across the six-lane street with my after-work beer in hand.

This must make me look like some sort of local degenerate, but I have surprisingly never run into any problems. I am generally listening to an audiobook or music on my walk home, but sometimes I leave my headphones mute – hoping that someone will say something about me, thinking I won’t hear it. At the thought of this, I’ll turn around, call them out in front of their trembling grand-something, and I’ll prove to be the most victorious person at Clement park. What a victory.

Instead of ever actually doing this, I try to smile at everyone along my walk. Having this terrible Rambo-esque narrative in my head at the same time sometimes makes me nervous, however, and I often come off as standoffish. This is also because I am extremely standoffish.

My current after-work routine is to buy two beers, and finish one when I am halfway around the lake. I then walk to my town-favorite port-a-potty, where I know I will always have to urinate. It’s pretty crazy being in that port-a-potty. I know that it’s not going to smell as bad as most port-a-potties because it’s on a “work site” which I pass every day on my way to work, but have never seen anyone actually working in. There is one skinny, long turd sitting on top of the blue water. It’s been there since the first time I used this port-a-potty, and it has always been this way. The toilet is filled mostly with cleaning supplies, and so the smell isn’t too offensive inside. In fact, when I’m in that port-a-potty, and I’m looking up at the almost translucent white plastic that is the roof, I almost feel as though I could be anywhere. My family went to the Grand Canyon when I was little and I still remember the port-a-potties. I can relive that experience whenever I want in this one, specifically. Sometimes I pretend I’m at the Grand Canyon, sometimes it’s in the jungle, sometimes I pretend I’m a construction person in some grandiose Japanese city.

When I get out of the port-a-potty, I have one more smaller park to walk past. This is the park which is directly in the middle of the suburbs. This is the wild west of white, suburban, elderly neighborhoods. A couple days ago I was walking, doing the mute headphones thing, and I watched an elderly man with headphones on, stumbling along the dirt next to the walking path. The woman 20 feet behind him gave out an odd look and so I looked down at my feet. I heard a loud, hollow clank and looked back up. The 60-something with the headphones had ran directly into a light pole. He then tried to make it look like it was just a part of the song he was listening to; something he had choreographed in his basement and was finally trying in public. Okay, when the chorus comes, spin around the light pole. Don’t hold back, Gary, don’t hold back. The woman walking behind him looked embarrassed, almost sad. She looked like someone who would sometime soon have to share a meal with this man.

One of the other things I love about walking is the wildlife. I live in a state where people travel from all over the world to see some of the vast wildlife, but not much beats seeing the geese and ducks be assholes to each other at the park. In the daytime, the geese will often block the sidewalks; in response to almost anything the geese do, the ducks will yell at them. When people come to walk by, the geese hiss and make you feel like a dick for getting some fresh air. I’ve also seen the geese block traffic, on the main roads at that. They’ve done it since I can remember being in a car. Knowing this, shortly after I got my driver’s license, I was speeding down a hill from Taco Bell back to my high school with my two closest friends in the car. It was here that I made my first (and only) decision to kill a goose. Three geese, actually. I saw three geese being assholes, thinking that they could rule the streets of Littleton, and I mowed them down in my 2001 Ford Focus like a madman.

I also like the idea of “going to the beach” at my park and on my local walks. Sometimes I will sit on the goose-shit-ridden shores of the Clement Park lake and think to myself: I’m super glad we got to get out to the beach today.

I have sold alcohol to the many elderly people of Southwest Littleton to know that they are not necessarily my type; I have also grown up with the many dropouts who inhabit the skatepark at Clement, and come into my store routinely to dismiss life and skate the day away just blocks from where they grew up. And I can’t judge, because when I’m at that park, I hold back on my fears and failures and I just walk, and for a few minutes it’s all alright.

Clutch

My clutch is going out. I have a 2003 Jetta, which I have made faster over time, not that it matters or is important or is a good thing to do, but now the clutch is slipping. I could make the car slower, theoretically, and the clutch would last maybe a year or so, but I refuse to do that. I also would need to reassemble the radiator attachments, should I drive my car again. A couple months ago, after a terrible lunch with my mom, I left her driveway in a fury, hitting her car in the process. Both of my parents were inside the house and too intoxicated to hear the noise, but I checked and there was only a small scratch on her plastic trim. My car, however, (which already did not have front bumper) lost its radiator mounts. After this happened, I furiously drove my car back to my house, where I parked it on the corner of my street. I left it there, knowing that it shouldn’t, and hopefully wouldn’t leave its new spot for a while. The next day, however, I received a text message. At the time, I had borrowed my girlfriend’s car. She was in school and I had gone to a library for the day. “This is Mike, your neighbor. I need you to move your car so that I can go to work in the morning.”

What? What did my car being parked in front of someone else’s house have to do with you getting to work in the morning? The end of our street belongs to a third neighbor, not to the man who sent me this message. I didn’t respond. He then called me, which I obviously didn’t answer. “Hey bro, I work at 7 a.m. tomorrow. I need you to move your car so that I can get to work, otherwise I’ll have to call the cops and get your car towed, and I’d really hate to do that,” said his voicemail. I had never really spoken to this neighbor. A previous conversation with the 10+ year owner of the house we are staying in proved to me that no one had really talked to this neighbor. I seriously doubted the fact that someone could call the cops to have another person’s car towed, and a quick Google confirmed: this guy was a dick who wanted me to rush home for no reason.

I did not do that. Instead, I picked my girlfriend up from the light rail station at which I had been waiting and casually drove us home. When we arrived, it was raining and I found my car packed like a sardine between two giant, empty trailers. I knew the neighbor to be a welder, and he used the trailers to move his products to and fro. They were not there when I left my car, however. I ignored the asshole neighbor, and the next day went out to look for a new car. I had found one just like mine that theoretically only needed a new battery and throttle body, (two easily replace-able parts) which I removed from my car, got into my girlfriend’s and went to look at. During the day, I spoke with the man who owned the Jetta, who seemed like a fairly honest guy. “I fucking hate German cars, man,” he told me. He explained in detail everything that had happened to him with the car. I told him I’d be back to see if we could work out a deal.

I picked up my girlfriend and drove back the 40-something miles to Aurora to look at this broken Jetta. Ryan, the guy who owned it, put in my throttle body and battery. By this time it was dark and pouring rain. Honest Ryan, who only wanted to sell his car for $1000 did all of this by himself in the dark. I offered to help, but he only yelled for his younger brother to come out of the house and hold a flashlight up. Standing in the pouring, freezing rain, shivering because I was cold and also because I had little to no help to offer, I felt my phone vibrate. Then again, and again. I checked it, and Charles, the person whose dad’s basement my girlfriend and I live in has called me seven times. I still do not have time for this shit, so I tell him I will talk to him later.

“The neighbors need you to move your car, he has to work in the morning and can’t get to his trailer,” Charles’ text says.

“Well I’m not moving it tonight, so tell him he can wait,” I respond. This started a fairly serious argument. Serious because Charles is an admirer of Buddhism, who wants to be a monk at some point, who I had now gotten to curse me out over text message. My rationale in all of this was that I had parked my car on public property. And even if it wasn’t public, it wasn’t this neighbor’s, it was the neighbor who didn’t have to complain about anything. And also, I wasn’t home: I couldn’t do anything right now and that was just the fact. Why was Charles arguing for me over my parking spot?

The Jetta didn’t work out. Soaking wet, I got back in Amber’s car and we went home. “Why can’t you just fucking move your goddamn car?” is what Charles immediately greeted me with when we got home. This began another – this time physically verbal – argument. I wasn’t quite listening to Charles, though I remember him saying something about the neighbors.

“What the fuck do you care about the neighbors?” I yelled. “It’s not like any of you have ever fucking spoken to them!” Amber convinced me that I should just move my car. She was right, like always, she just took a less anarchistic approach. I grabbed the tools I needed to put the car back together, and headed outside. I the rain, with the neighbor staring me down from his garage, I put my car back together.

When I was done, I spun out, and drove the whole twenty feet back to the front of the house we currently live in. “Why you gotta drive like that, son?” the neighbor asked. This is where I could fill another ten pages saying everything I wanted to reply with. But, Amber knows me too well and led me back inside. I spent the night trying to ignore things, Charles spent the night yelling upstairs about me, and his dad spent the night in semi-neurotic silence.

So, I’m not sure if I should replace that clutch or not. I walk a lot now, which I quite like. I also like driving, though. And more than anything, I like not being anywhere near this city.

 

Clutch

South Desert Storage – 6

Fuck the owner of 1A, I thought. I work here, I take care of these units, I do my job at making this place a business. Who the hell are these people to come into 1A, and threaten Bob and Joe? Or me? I want that owner here, I thought. I want to tell him to leave, to get the hell out of here and never come back.
I went to 1A and opened the door. I stared at everything in the unit – a baseball and baseball bat, some board games, Jack Daniels, old ashtrays, a twenty-something year old Honda Nighthawk (which I ended up putting back), rugs with dust on them, an antique rifle, an antique handgun, more Jack Daniels, Paul Mall Reds, a machete, a dog collar, and a pair of black cowboy boots. The China tea set was still in the middle of the room. Without thinking, without blinking, and I swear to god, without breathing I ran to that machete. I picked it up and with all of my might I swung it at that tea set. I shattered it and the Jack Daniels. I cut the board games in half, and I sawed through that dog collar. I was on my way to the cowboy boots when I heard an enormous bang.
I turned around to see the man. It was the man from before with the cowboy hat – the owner of 1A. He was holding the antique pistol in the air. Smoke was coming out of it and he looked like some zombie who’d started a marathon race. I still couldn’t see his silhouetted face, but he was about 30 feet behind the unit. Behind me.
I froze, but I still had adrenaline pulsing through me. I turned around with the machete held high in my right arm. “What do you want!” I yelled.
He slowly lowered the pistol until it was pointed directly at me.
“You’re going to kill me over some crap in a storage unit?” I asked. “What do you want?”
He was still standing in the same spot, but the word “everyone” flew into my ear as if he were right next to me. We both still didn’t move, I still couldn’t see his face.
“W-what do you mean ‘everyone?’” I stammered.
He pointed his gun to unit 2A. The door flew open and as if someone in the back of the unit had thrown it, a VCR tape flew a couple of feet and then slid right to where I was standing. Bob & Joe / Last Tape was written on a piece of duct tape that was attached to the VCR tape. I looked up when I heard the sound of the motorcycle from 1A being started.
The man was leaving. I don’t think this is the last time I’ll see him, though.
By now it was evening. I quickly locked every entrance to the units, got in my apartments, and locks all of its doors and windows as well. Then I got my VCR player out.

I rewound the tape when I put it in, but it still began in the middle of a frame. It was Joe, younger looking though. She was sitting on a wooden porch somewhere. Her face looked so terrified. I played the tape and found out Joe was at some sort of party. Someone (I’m guessing Bob) is grilling hotdogs and hamburgers. There are other people there, maybe five or six. They all look like family, old and young. They’re just talking, two kids are running around in the grass, a couple is standing off to the side. Joe won’t stop looking at something though, with that horrified look on her face. Why did that man want me to watch this? What would anything with Bob and Joe have to do with him tormenting me now?
“Grandma, are you rich now that you sold your store?” The girl running in the yard comes up to ask Joe.
“Hey,” says Bob, smiling at her. “It was my store too. Your grandma isn’t the only rich one.”
“No. No, we are not rich. Stop it. No!” Joe is in the same spot, staring the same way, but she’s yelling now. “We are not rich! Shut up!”
The girl begins to cry. One of the other adults tells the person behind the camera to shut it off. The tape goes to a black screen.
I fast forwarded the tape but I couldn’t find anything else. Just this one scene.
I need to talk to Joe again.

Honk

Everyone in Chicago honks. I’ve only been a couple of times, but that’s what seems to be the case. If there is a pedestrian, or another car, or a bird or spec of dust in front of your car, you honk at it. And you honk until it goes away. And then again, perhaps, for good measure, should it have the audacity to come back. Like any tourist in a town, my goal is to blend in as much as possible; to scoff at those looking through maps, as if I know any better where I’m going myself. If I were to drive my car all the way to Chicago, I’d immediately begin honking at everyone in sight in an attempt to make myself seem like a local.
In all reality, a honk is something more likely to cause more problems than solve them, if you think about it. Say some elderly man was staring at a traffic light and forgot which color he was supposed to go on (something I’m convinced is a very real epidemic), and then the impatient driver behind honks. Now this elderly person not only has the problem of figuring out which light means ‘go,’ but of figuring out where the hell this honking sound is coming from.
Even if the honk a driver gives out is completely called for, and the driver receiving the honk is completely competent, the only thing a honk will do in that case is get the driver being honked at to be even worse at driving. “Oh, you didn’t like how I changed lanes,” they’ll think “you’ll love my braking technique now that you’ve annoyed me, too!”

via Daily Prompt: Honk

Neophyt

You walk up the steps, uncomfortably because of the dress shoes you never wear and the shirt you never tuck in. You don’t know how these things go, though. You hope your deodorant is worki- fuck. You just remembered you got the deodorant without the anti-perspirant. You try to keep your arms down at your side as much as possible. You see lots of faces, some you remember, lots you do not. You hope that the 2 Altoids you popped in the car will cover up the cigarettes they followed. You know they won’t, though. These are good people, they don’t smoke. Right? Can these people smoke? Probably not. They’ll see through your plan, down to your browning lungs and yellowing teeth. You are, perhaps, their vision of Satan himself. You spot your friend, you’re not entirely happy with them at this point. You are even second guessing why you’re friends with them in the first place. They recognize your discomfort and you both walk ahead of everyone else and sit down. You ironically pray that this will become easier with time.

Neophyte