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store credit for the soul

Since my first death (we undergo several of these within our lifetimes as they forcefully usher us into maturity), I no longer saw my substitutions as a measure for survival. It seemed as though the act of surviving suggested a leverage over chaos, as if it had been an option. That choice was made for you, be it by a higher being or a peer. We only have as much common sense as we paid for, and it’s a self-service gas pump. It was a measure that disciplined me into prevailing. I wasn’t so much a survivalist as I was a prevailist.I was on the road and wouldn’t get off it lest blown-out tires or piss stops. I had plenty of sense in my tank to keep me on the road for a far as I could. My old man was to thank for the first death when he tried to drown me in the fourth grade; much was learned from his failure.

I won’t bore you with the details surrounding the drowning, so I’ll skip that part. I wasn’t taught something so silly like, “never give up,” with the intention to “fix” me with a fearlessness in life. It was more like the drowning had asphyxiated me with a fearlessness of death. That’s something one learns to come to terms with when one nears eighty years of age. Not a deluging baptism by your father with a can of cardinal red in his hand bequeathed to him by the king of beers at the age of eight. I wasn’t taught to fight the injustices that befall me, nor did I believe flapping and flailing would help -fighting, flapping, flailing most likely end in failure for everyone anyway, given they have the sensibility to fight only in fights where victory is feasible. I’ve outsmarted a few bullies in my reign on the playground and blackmailed a few employers… been doing that since I was eight. Another thing I learned from the deluge was how to embrace death with open arms. Death doesn’t play favorites, and even he gets ennui. I didn’t have any older role models or older wiser relatives to teach me otherwise. I saved myself from drowning and walked out of that stupid swimming pool myself. I never liked pool parties after that.

There was one relative I did have that was technically disqualified because she wasn’t related by blood. That’s not to say a relative must be related by blood. Incidentally, she was just the only one that came close to fitting in the bill. It was my grandmother, of whom I referred to as Gramma. She was the woman that raised my father, and she wasn’t genetically related to him either. She was related by chaos.

Gramma had been hospitalized from a simultaneous stroke and aneurysm the led to a full right-side paralysis of her body. Her memory was permanently impaired as her short-term memory bank had been completely robbed. The precious moments of her life were insured up to a year after the adoption of my father which meant all the transaction records of my brother’s, mother’s and my deposits into Gramma’s memory bank had been discarded. She had trouble retaining new memories. Lost them within days. My own memories said nothing else aside from Gramma having been a strong dedicated woman whom loved us very much.

She walked us (me, and my baby brother, Morris) to and from school, bought us pizza with what little money she had most every night -I had many memories of her and shared them with no one. Not once. I was suspected to have been too young to remember. Keeping them to myself wasn’t a choice. I’d wondered many times, in fact, whether divulging this information would resuscitate the Smolensk family. Then attempted it during one of our ever-silent dinners when I was 10. I was 10 years old the last time my family ate at the dinner table together. We remained hopelessly content with having to introduce ourselves to half of Gramma upon each visit. There existed cruel, eventful bags of poo that were never to be fully cleaned up the moment they’re ignited on our porches. These bad-mannered poos were forever wedged into the trenches of our soles to walk with us until our last step. The meaning of family stuck beneath the shoes of the Smolensk’s.

Gramma found my father on the streets in Czechoslovakia in his 13th year and forced to disavow her wealthy and insensate husband and snobbish children. She was 48 when offered a choice between her family or the second option, which she had chosen. She moved to Davenport, Iowa, as an old woman with a penniless name to raise my teenage father. The mysterious motives that empowered her justification to make such a manic decision will eternally elude my understanding. My father subserviently maintained bimonthly visits to her hospice since the doublefucked-up accident. During my visits, of which were numbered few, Gramma’s inability to recognize me remained adamant. This also led to her conviction of my having been a beautiful and healthy young lady, which was discovered when she verbally complimented me, and would remain her belief until I spoke. On several occasions this happened. Sometimes I neglected to speak at all and never accused of being rude for doing because upon hearing my voice, she became both appalled and ecstatic. She believed she had heard my father’s voice coming out of a young woman.

That comparison wasn’t the reason my visitations had ceased, despite my wishes for it. It’d have been easier. Nor was it the deleted files she no longer had of me. And it certainly wasn’t her calling me a beautiful young woman because I’d already been learned in tolerance of misogyny since grade school. It was her having no memory beyond my father’s 14th year, and was never able to recognize the man next to her bed as my father, despite the frequency of his visits.

He told her about his life, his girlfriend and their kids (mum and dad never married), her grandchildren, -the same story upon each bimonthly visit, sometimes more, as far as the story could go, for 14 years. I couldn’t watch that. As unfavorable as he was, I could see then, that his love I hardly saw transpired into this halved woman that raised him. I stopped going because I didn’t want to give him amnesty. Not for half a person. But I had a keen sense of empathy I picked up along the way. More so when I spent 2 years and 11 months dying. He’d been dying for 14 years. This kind of demise makes you take your soul back from the Lord and give him store credit. That kind of feverish demise that gives you the kind of pain that tempers the mightiest mettle.

A slow churning burn, perpetuating a kind of compressed incineration. The kind only intended to leave a forest charred of chlorophyl, so blackened, even the light must humanely avert their gaze as was left to the mercy of the taunting kiss of the wind. It singed inside your heart, the walls constantly lacerated then cauterized, and the love you have for this person was the taunting fuel supply. You let it burn you because you’re afraid this person would be extinguished, despite your knowing that to be illogical, but you’ve forgotten how to feel everything else besides the pain that was here, now, hoping, foolishly hoping you could be the one exception in time. A love that burns, and does nothing else. Day and night and day and night and day and night and repeat until you see a change. Until something changes. Or wait. For 3 years, knowing nothing could change, for as long as the burning continues to burn …until it doesn’t. You can stand no more, you listen no more to the crackling embers of your mettle and hear your thoughts coughing. “A love that continues to burn me down with despair, or the home of those that warm me up with hope?” You ask yourself. Because you realize there’s no one else there that could ask you, there’s no one else in that fire. You must ask yourself to demystify the motives to make your choice. My father chose to stay engulfed in despair for 14 years. He chose to see his mother than to see anyone else.

I could never distinguish whether that decision was indicative of his strength or stupidity, but a decision that damaged more people than necessary could only be selfish. A blind devotion to something that keeps people apart was a devotion that kept everyone apart. My devotion to substitutions like Autumn and whatever else, taught me be a part of everyone. I may not have had any dependable living relatives, but my Gramma didn’t need to have those memories she lost of me anymore as I would forever remember them for her, embodied within the annual visit of Autumn. I knew very early on that any chances of my growing up as a regular boy had been drowned when I was eight.

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New Years Err-ve


Your last few minutes before the imminent actuation of 2012 were probably expended on the disintegration of your own liver through [a hopeful] self application. Or, as I had, had done anything else inconceivably bland. Like disassociating reflections irrelevant to a conducive purchasing of a new calendar, because you had spent the afternoon voraciously venturing anywhere the free trains found a track to roll upon,  while a concealed half-empty booze bottle blackmailed my thalamus to transform my more tranquil temperaments to those that thwarted the terror of singing aloud to my Regina Spektor playlist in the style of Jonathan Richman with a veracious sincerity to move passengers. Of this endeavor, I’ve an obligation to impart a word of advice; “project your voice as thunderous train rails will big-league your thunder on principle. Try the candid musical at Whole Foods! …My concert didn’t move anyone. Expect to move their narrow-mindedness away.” 

Of my last minutes of 2011:  spent swallowed supinely by a subterranean silver serpent, spanning seven serially spacious cylinder-shaped stomachs. Counting down the demise of 2011 with unacquainted patrons on L.A.’s Metro Goldline, was a disproportionately grievous but accurate reckoning of my lone dejection. I had already been privy to the dejection. And I hadn’t stigmatized an opposition to gang-related public countings. …or chantings. 

It was a reminder of the dejection to be on that train anxiously wanting to negate it by being somewhere among people I just met but knew the signature laughs to, subconsciously suffocating because of the possibility of 2011’s implosion engrossing the train into an ink-blackness, billowed broodingly the looming nebulous darkness deflating downwards mocking the touchdown of a buoyant balloon toward the pinch left of that little white promise. Fostered, finally by my indolent yet conscientious cerebral constitutions. I had no wishes to be reminded of these or other things behind the sun before I had my coffee from the fresh pot of the new year. …But their merriness know no mercy! Further exasperated by an unflinching off-key acapella belting of Auld Lang Syne in the key of ‘Contentedly smug assholes’, whilst the more musically declined of intoxicated invalids, will have exponentially expressed evident existential enjoyments to a greater degree than my own, as their overwhelming voices slurred every other word of theirs into my charitable coherence. Finally, they impart insensitively echoed  cheers and chants condescendingly commanding me to “have a happy new year…” 

“‘have,’ is an interrogative!” I’d always wanted to clarify. …cavalierly!

I prayed midnight would not catch this train. Moments before my physical boarding of the train, I’d sent my roommate a text asking his fetching of the phone number to the coffeehouse of which, laid at the ends of my cross-hairs of my steel serpentine missile. I warned them of my impending tardiness. “By 2 minutes”, as specified by my infallible meticulousness.

I had gone to work earlier that day which, coincidentally, was also a coffeehouse. The difference between both cafe’s was a corporate dictatorship, of which mine had lacked warranting my merriment as opposed to counting down the cooking of 2011’s goose behind a cash register. An earnest elation emanated from not having to tiptoe around an invisible ladder of hierarchy. But during my shift New Year’s Eve easygoing-ness, I inadvertently noticed a pattern, perpetuated amongst peculiar patrons; their collective consensus to adorn an indifference to the induction of the new year, 2012.

Ironically, I’d have imposed an indifference of my own caliber towards the discovery of a mass banality under ordinary circumstances, but this banality had especially fingered my fancy as it inconspicuously instituted intelligibility. Indifference was the answer. The essence of life was a dim corridor of endless possibilities to be revealed by the light. But high-up above the essence of existence, the chandelier of chaos swung subversively, illuminating innumerable flickering candles of curiosity infinitely over innumerably transparent possibilities, indifferent to a possibility’s consequence coveted by your necessities.

Having expectations sprouted a salacious susceptibility to somberness. Frowns and grimaces issued. But not having expectations didn’t do that. And contrary to popular banal belief, not having expectations did not prohibit our capabilities to comprehend cheerfulness. Flashy smiles and grins! An indifference instigated an honest humbleness alongside an extinguished egotism.

Upon arrival to the stop, my watch had sweetly slipped some spare minutes to me. But it wasn’t enough to implore my running. My evening’s habiliments included a trench-coat, of which, a contraband whiskey water bottle cooperated with, a sweater vest, fitted slacks and,  finally, pointed Italian boots which merited a significant level of respect, possibly higher than the deterrence of my lone dejection.

I was 2 minutes from the coffeehouse which of whence commenced the hooting, hollering, honking, whistling, clapping, slapping, hugging, kazoo-ing, laughing, screaming, crying, burping, dragging, lighting, spitting, facebooking, smoking, splashing, calling, texting, twitting, screeching, emailing, singing, scratching, clawing, brushing, caressing, kissing, …to the consistent clicking pair of Italian heels on the pavement.

Pacing perfectly, obstinate to stay on-beat, the clicking was immune to twinkling notes in the crowded chords. Perhaps it were the chords who saw no twinkling in the clicking? The enchantment of the crowd’s casual camaraderie seemed inexplicably indiscernible to the piano’s careful chords, chaotically conforming celestial crescendos. The stark clicking continued as the chords always twinkled it’s keys behind his lead. It only click with absolute certainty in time. The meticulous metronome clicked consummately but had always leaded clicks ahead of the keys. The clicking time of which it was a virtuoso, but the chords twinkling of keys gracefully followed behind wherever it went, cursed only ever to hear them nearby, never beside their grace. Never else, besides the clicking.

I found myself mangled among a crowd of friends at the coffeehouse and had forgotten to devise an exit strategy. The sight of it illustrated the clustered cords collected behind an affable entertainment center of a living room of which my disentanglement deplored dusty discouragements. The schemed departure was a quirk of which I’d conditioned myself to prepare aiding my avoidance revelation of my really being a fleshly incarnate of ineptitude abominable in crowds. In hindsight, allowing myself to fall victim to such a state to begin with, exemplified a higher degree of cowardice in comparison to the requisite of a delusional vindication for a fallibly foreshadowed flee of your own prevarication. (enter dream sequence below!)

I stood, shuffling and fidgeting anxiously around sipping my water bottle of whiskey a few minutes in repose,  while they indecisively deliberated among themselves about going to a bar, to which they decidedly went after all. Confessedly, I wanted to join them. But embarrassingly there was a longstanding fear I had inhibiting my being among a group of real nerds. I had the mental aptitude and meticulousness for detail that real nerds possessed, though it demanded more. The preconceived shortcomings I had among them germinated from never having dedicated the incomparable amount of time they mantra’ed into endlessly effortless eccentricities.
I was afraid my arrest would be demanded to justice, or the hauling to the gallows of my malnourished flesh-bagged bones, and spilling of my blood would be chanted for if I had, say,  mistaken their dismissal of my presence to be subtle acceptance and, out of a displaced sense of courage, expounded an obtusely vague reference in regards to some sort of basement pop-culture wonder, errant of a minor detail, I’d be tossed to the repressively enraged mobs o’ subordi-nerds in which they’d have a frenzy inthe defiling of my body!! And those nerds! They will defile me with an overt courteousness, I’d have an inclination to shake they’re unsatisfied hands as I picked up my shuffled, tattered remains of my wits! And poker cards! This floor was filthy! …no it’s not your fault, Craig. I forget the nerdy public brandings! Imagine it! being forced to stand publicly in place! My posture is guaranteed to receive not an smidgen of envy! …and the nerds that setup  the display of your sickly body! They say ‘please’ and are dressed stereotypicall-y! Real nerds are to lazy to have a big bang theory! …or a little bang! …sorry, it wasn’t directed… yeah, I know… well how would I…? Digress now! Okay! I will if you promise to continue wearing large t-shirts! with the logos that can’t be paid a single cent  for it’s lack of sense! …and it’s pastel shade from overwashings!

Digressed. ‘would you mind‘?! They ask me! the nauseating formality! Certainly not! It was implied I had no choice! but your tone! So gentle and exudes a gracious politeness! …I feel bad for not having a choice!”  AND THEY STAMP!  Stamped with such stamping! The atrociousness absent! …fingerless fingerpointing! Devoid of detriment! you misunderstood monsters!  fraud!  They say…? at me? poseur!  one of them murmurs, but he’s hiding his face! I can’t tell if he’s actually trying to talk to the guy next to him.  infadel!  Bravo! I yell back at him. I did not not anticipate your originality! ‘Why thank you!’  he yells back a moment later. and stamped with black sharpies the exact opposite  fury exemplified during the holocaust. A full-blooded nerd could be compared to a German Nazi to some degree.

Of course, that statement would be pushing the boundary, but you wouldn’t think so after witnessing the kind of passive, unobtrusive contempt so mercilessly managed, it’d flabbergasted you to anomalously deteriorate into a state of catatonia to which even the thought of suicide seemed as feasible as cutting down a tree with a piece of bark. Fuck that shit! I’ll spend New Years alone with the shitty whiskey in the water bottle.

Even the whiskeyed water bottle in solitude to the fantastical Pulp albums on New Years morning presented a deficit in the standardized quality of torment my fearful fortune favored. I counseled a relationship till 4. (Rather than embellish the rest of that in full detail, which included hours of hysteria, a secret cave off the train tracks, a search for a little girl’s stuffed animal, and a chocolate breakfast burrito, I’ll summarize.) 

Notes from counseling (I basically had to reiterate these few lines multiple times in order to get the message through. I think they’ll help someone… if you listen to the words you use.)

-Irrational arguments are ones you make excellent points… that are irrelevant to the topic. They only sandwich more layers into your shit sandwich, but with gummy worms and waffles. (Plus, you sacrifice validity and maturity by reintroducing an already digested topping.)

-pedantic arguments are the ones where the past is brought up as ammunition for a new argument, which is also a repeat performance. And sometimes, this is done accidentally and will snowball into something else if you have Stubborn’s Disease.

-childish arguments are pedantic arguments, but have become childish because of your employ of, “I wasn’t the one who started it.” or the ‘shut your mouth when you’re talking to me!” and my favorite:

“you did this to me once remember, I’m doing the same thing back.”  the ol’ i get a freebie because this fight had already been had, but we’re not going to learn from it, nor any of the other fights we had and will ever have. -Then followed by the consequent, “how can you be mad at me for doing that?! I was going to use the freebie i think you know I technically justified.”

I don't know how to optimize my content with photos.

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