Wednesday, November 9, 2011

going rogue

My random ramblings now have a new home:
There I will continue to learn, be unrepentantly foul-mouthed and weird, and hopefully get better at this writing gig. Stop in and say hi.
P.S. I love you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

beautiful 'burbs

The tentacled grasp of corporate America is tight around Overland Park, Kansas, a Kansas City suburb that has become famous not for any geographical wonders or architectural achievements but for its dull landscape populated by strip malls, big box stores, churches, and chain restaurants.

Given the city's inability to offer any shopping or dining experiences outside of what was tested on target demographics in focus groups (with a few fine exceptions), it's easy to dismiss the whole place as soulless, and after a day spent interacting with the other humans only while sitting behind a windshield, waiting in line at Target, or asking for your ranch dressing on the side at Applebee's, odds are you'll be hungry for anything genuine, no matter how fleeting.

Having grown up in Stilwell, which is just south of the OP, I spent the majority of my teenage years bumming around the 'burbs looking for beauty, and I'd find it in unexpected places: the picnic table in an office complex courtyard; a mosquito-filled neighborhood park; an abandoned farmhouse still filled with the former residents' furniture, curtains, and documents.

Granted, the farmhouse was bulldozed years ago to build a Wal-Mart, but on a lazy Sunday afternoon this spring I went out again in search of beauty in the 'burbs, and here's what I found. From a distance it may appear mundane, but sometimes you've just gotta look a little closer.

A sassy, windswept tree

on the soul-crushing median of a four-lane suburban street.


A puddle of spring rain

in the joy-melting parking lot of a mostly abandoned strip mall.

Greenery and new life

amidst the hope-destroying landscape architecture of a former chain restaurant.

Charming wind chimes

hanging on the decaying patio of a long-closed Thai restaurant that is surely the harbinger of doom.

More to come...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

the worst kind: part II

I’ve always gotten hung up on ugly women. As a general rule, no woman is exactly like another, but an ugly girl is special -- her lack of looks has forced her to fine-tune the ability to make a man feel like much more than he is.

My last ugly girl seemed to embrace it like she was trying to win. I’ve never met another woman who owned so many baggy jeans and flannel shirts, as though by wrapping herself in layers of fabric she could bury her flat chest and barrel of a ribcage. And she never took off the yellow-tinted sunglasses that hid the dark circles beneath her eyes, the memento of an old meth habit.

But she had this way about her. She was so shy she rarely made eye contact, so everything she said took on an ethereal quality, as though she were speaking to some invisible entity, almost pleading, hoping that angels would hear.

She seemed to think that if she just ignored me hard enough the effect would backfire, and I would boomerang back and bust down her invisible walls. Though by nature she seemed aloof, she wanted nothing more than for someone to just sit with her, someone who didn't want to be anywhere else. I felt honored to be in that audience.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

beach thoughts, part II

As a kid, thanks to repeated viewings of the old western Gunsmoke, I always had a grand ol' idea of Dodge City, Kansas, so I was nothing less than thrilled the first time my family decided to visit. The occasion might have been a family reunion, but it could also have been a wedding or a funeral; these things all tend to blur together in my mind. 

I expected to find handsome sheriff Matt Dillon keeping the law, shooting the bad guys off their horses with a pistol from a hundred feet away. I imagined saloons with swinging doors, dusty cowboy hats, busty women in lacy dresses, and flame-haired Miss Kitty slinging suds behind the bar. I imagined boozy ne'er-do-wells sweating it out for the night in lockup while doofy Deputy Chester paced around the police station, ignoring the drunkard's taunts.

So I was disappointed to find just another lazy, humid, impossibly sunny Kansas town, a west with all of the wild tamed out of it by phony old-timey storefronts and a watered-down imitation of Boot Hill. There might have even been a staged gunfight in the dusty streets, the excitement of which was quenched considerably when the men who just got "shot" stood back up and dusted of their trousers only moments later, sporting not so much as a bloodstain. 

But I do remember having lunch at a dirty, divey bar/grill with my family, which even then was the kind of place I felt at home. This was the first time I encountered a functional shuffleboard (unlike the relic in my grandmother's attic that had been weighted down by decades of dust and junk), and though I didn't know the rules I derived endless enjoyment from sliding those metal pucks across the lacquered wooden plank dusted with sand. It was also the first time I ate a patty melt, and I still remember the way the white sandwich bread, heavy with butter and grease, squished like a wet sponge between my tongue and the roof of my mouth. I've still never had a bar burger so delicious.

I also remember my aunt's backyard, where there was a single cactus standing tall amidst a patch of dead, brownish grass, a gnarly old plant that was deep green and almost menacing. I had never seen a cactus that big before, only the little ones sold in grocery stores, the kind with thin, almost soft needles that my mom had to dig out of my back a few years earlier when, without considering this particular consequence, my dad brought one home as a present for my brother and me. I wanted to touch it, but I knew it would hurt me, so I regarded this cactus with something approaching reverence.

And that summer in Dodge City, that cactus was as wild as the west got. Whenever possible, I always did like for things to be exotic.

South Padre sunrise

South Padre sunrise, a few minutes later

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

beach thoughts, part I

I'm on South Padre Island with my brother. Today while lying on the beach I recorded the following boozily meditative thoughts. Or perhaps meditatively boozy. Or maybe just drunk and sun-soaked. (Most likely the latter.)

Before you get old enough to know better, you might consider it a good thing to be strange; I know I did. "Why be like everyone else?" I might have said, and then I might've sucked down another mustard packet and insisted everyone join me for a fifth shot of Jager. 

But I'm 28 years old (only three weeks away from 29), and I just mistakenly stuck my hand in a coil of seagull shit thinking it was a auger shell. Lemme tell ya: Slowly becoming strange is not for the faint of heart. 

I'm cooking in the sun while visiting South Padre Island with my brother, who is enjoying the waves and is the most relaxed I've seen him in years. It's 2 p.m., and despite having vowed never to drink again a mere 24 hours ago, I'm already half a bottle of pinot grigio in. Lacking a corkscrew, I was smart enough to make sure it was screw-top.

And every day I can feel myself growing stranger. At times I think personal choices have fucked me out of the status quo; at times I think it's bad luck; at times genetics. It's most likely a combination of the three. And there is not a day I don't wish I could sear it right the fuck out of me.

To be stupid and happy; oh, to be stupid and happy.

An older couple playing in the water. And yes, they are playing, splashing and riding the waves and all. I like to think they're here as a last resort because she's a drunk and he's a pervert: "Honey, if this doesn't save us, nothing will." And I think it just might save them. It just might.

Out in the water my foot came down on something unnaturally squishy and smooth, the same between-the-toes squish as the wad of used toilet paper I smashed with my bare foot in a bathroom stall while camping one time (or maybe it was St. Patrick's Day). I don't know what the ocean squish was, not even a little bit. It didn't move enough to be a fish. Then again, I don't know what most of the food at Korma Sutra is either, but I still love it. Sometimes it's best just to go with things.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

a very shiny bedguest

I've been working my ass off since July, and while my constant companions have been stress, anxiety, and the strange creatures who inhabit coffee shops after 10 p.m., I've finally managed to quit my day job and strike out on my own as a freelance writer. It probably will not be sustainable long term (I'm neither naive nor a dreamer), but I'm going to take advantage of it as long as I can. Which means, for one thing, the return this silly blog. 

Today I will share this new phrase I just made up: shiny bedguest. Its Urban Dictionary entry would read: "A beautiful individual with whom you share your sleeping space. Can apply to lovers, pets, hookups, friends." Such as: Last night I hooked up with this chick; this morning I discovered she was a very shiny bedguest indeed. OR I have a shiny bedguest this weekend, so I will probably need some more Oreos.

I also spent some time in San Diego last weekend feeling very lovey-dovey toward the beach and the sunset. But now I'm home and will get back to being generally bitchy and strange; in other words, the regularly scheduled programming.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean

Happy tree on Coronado Beach

Friday, July 8, 2011

the worst kind: part 1

Today my neighbor will learn that she lives next to a criminal, an unrepentant, lifelong criminal – the worst fucking kind.

She never should’ve left her door unlocked. Or rather, she never should’ve let me know she left her door unlocked. She should’ve slid her key in the lock and twisted it half a turn clockwise. She should’ve made a show of it, holding the key at eye level as though to say, “Don’t even think about it.” 

Instead she nodded at me from down the hall and said, “You might want to bring an umbrella.”

She’s a heavy-set, middle-aged woman, the oldest person in the building by probably 20 years. She’s always giving this type of advice to the rest of us. If it’s going to snow, she’ll tell us to bundle up; if it’s going to be hot, she’ll warn us that “it’s a real scorcher.” I don’t know whether she has any kids of her own.

“I don’t mind getting wet,” I said.