Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday On Friday - "Coffee Mandatory"

Love is supposed to last a lifetime... until another comes along.

Just so you know, I never planned to fall in love.

It started out as nothing more than a relationship of convenience. Like sex for a green card, or the wash of a windshield for a couple of bucks at a stop light in Santa Monica. A fucking transaction. No emotion… no feelings. Just a need meeting another need. No romance, no flowers... just the glare of a naked bulb at sunrise, and the grunting of guilty pleasure heard on the other side of a thin kitchen wall.

After a while, like with any illegitimate relationship... and enough lying to yourself in the mirror... eventually you decide that maybe its okay to take next step... the public step. A coffee house. The thought was innocent enough in your head, “It’s just a cup of coffee. What could happen?”

Until you get there, and you wonder if this is how they feel in Amsterdam... ordering heroin... in a brothel.

At first, there’s that self-conscious thought that goes, "people don’t really do this in public... do they?” Followed by a second thought that you should just go finish your business in the restroom like the upstanding citizen your parents always thought you’d be. But you stay... you take your seat in the big room with all the other upstanding citizens... and you lose yourself to the overwhelming urge that brought you here in the first place. To take this private need to the next level. So you do. In front of God and everyone... if only God were watching.

I never planned to fall in love.

Years pass, and things go on like always. Public meetings, intimate rendezvous, long mornings after a bad night’s sleep. Every encounter making you sink deeper and deeper into what was such an innocent addiction. Days and nights became the same to you. Multiple jobs, endless hours... and only one thing remains the same. The need. The intense need, the unsatisfied need... the aching need.

Until another comes along.

As the glare of the naked bulb at sunrise still calls after you like a line out of a song by Mumford & Sons, the something new doesn’t call like a selfish bitch... it whispers softly in your ear, like the one that got away. It draws me to a softer place... a darker place, later and later in the night... after the glare of day, and all its distractions, goes away. And unlike the whorishly obvious coffee brothel, it is subtle and almost... caring. And the scars of years are replaced by tender strokes to a raw-rubbed ego. The only thing required in return was to think, and feel... and write. And whatever words came out were good... were accepted. I was accepted.

I never planned to fall in love. Not like this.

More years pass, and things change... drastically. The flutter and surge of my heart, gentle ego stroking, the sideways-smiles-turned-lustful... change. Flutters turn to questions. Surges to pain. The lying, sideways smiles, with their promise of fulfillment... turn to insistence. And whispers turn to ice at the harsh dawning of a new day, when I know it has become... the same.

I look up from the computer. I see the light of morning enter through the fog of early June. “When did this happen?” is all I can say, in a hushed voice, raw from not speaking. I turn my head the other way, toward the kitchen, to the glare of a naked bulb at sunrise...

...just so you know.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday On Friday - "Friday Turns 100"

Words to live by.

I keep a notebook.

No, not a Mac Book, a notebook. The kind you write in. The paper kind. And a pen. I’ve been told I’m an old soul… fossil old.

And since I don’t even own an iPhone...

(choking gasp of horror over morning coffee)

Let me explain… no, there is too much… let me sum up.

Okay, whenever I get a random thought in my head... something that, for the merest moment of time, I like the sound of as it floats between my ears, I write it down. In the same notebook I use for work. Sideways, in the left-hand margin... so I won’t forget where I put it. Sometimes, these random thoughts end up in a story. Most times, they end up forgotten… tossed in a drawer, or worse yet (the horror…) under the bed (another column for another time). And sometimes, like bullets from a 9 mil in a drive-by, they get used all at once. And if you think you know me… and you will think you do, the longer you read me… then you know that these are (some) of my words to live by.

“I have no desire to be friends with my past.”

While, for many, the past can be looked back on fondly... first bike, first kiss, first car... for me, my past is looked back on for some other firsts… first stolen bike, first punch in the face, first death of a loved one. And while I would not trade any of the lessons learned from it, my past and I are not now, nor will we ever be, on good terms with each other. Every now and then, we pass each other on the street… and nod. And that’s enough. Because with every passing nod, another page in the notebook is filled.

“Talent doesn’t pay the bills, working does.”

Obviously not an original thought, but since when did a teacher like the past ever claim to be 100 percent original all the time? Still, this one is for the times (many) when the thought of sitting on my bony ass waiting for something better to come along became more than just a thought... and it took some kind of tragedy to shake me enough to start something, or stop something, that shoved a wrench into the gears of my creative machine. Hell, I hate working three jobs. But it beats starving. Yeah, and I’ll sleep when I’m published.

“Sometimes drunks tell the best version of the truth.”

So, after you finish reading this, have a few cold ones, read it again, and leave a comment… preferably on my blog, to reduce the chance of having me ask the publishers to take it down. When you do comment, please let me know exactly how many shots, pops, or rips you’ve had, so that I can rate your truthfulness by the volume of your consumption.

And remember, there are no wrong answers.

“Intimacy isn’t given… it’s earned.”

And people wonder why I don’t make many friends.

In a previous article, I covered the three kinds of “friendlies” every writer ought to know. This is the other side… the dark side… of that. For lack of a better term, they are, “the un-friendlies”. Part Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, part Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy, “un-friendlies” are those Twitter followers or Facebook friends you wish you’d never clicked “okay” for. Sure you could block them, or just try to ignore them, but sooner or later they will always come back... with a bunny. As I enter into this phase of my writing life, I will try to remember to be polite to everyone, and always, always keep my head on a swivel… so it doesn’t end up somewhere else.

And finally...

“Handshakes are for people who can’t afford lawyers.”

This should be self-explanatory. It’s the California version of, “get it in writing”. California has always lead the way in defining how to put a price tag on friendship (community property, “palimony”), and on the number of lawyers per capita in the United States. I have one friend who is an attorney, and while I did not run number 5 by him before I submitted this column to the editor (something to do with “billable hours”… I really didn’t understand it all), I do know that he would have to agree with me on this one. Off the record.

Bonus thought...

I will conclude this first official effort by explaining that this article is my 100th published article for In saying that, I want everyone who just made the effort to follow this one all the way to its conclusion to know that it is my wish that we all, as writers… as readers… get what we wish for ourselves in this creative venture comes true even wilder and better than we ever could have imagined. But be careful what you wish for, because...

“If wishes were Unicorns, they’d shit rainbows.”