Blogging, and Speed Writing

first off, once again, have said it before, it’s still abundantly clear, i suck at blogging. i spend way too much time committing my thoughts to Wastebook, and almost no time putting them here, a far more stable platform.
some days, i ain’t exactly heaven’s brightest ray o’ sunshine…

speed writing 12/5/15
prompt: a stripper at the office Christmas party

when Carter told me, i was floored. old man Pettigrew was a real Scrooge anyway, and the office parties were generally sad affairs, unless the employees pitched in and brought desserts or deli trays.
so yeah, when Carter told me Pettigrew was springing for a stripper, at a party with men and women in attendance, i couldn’t believe it.
in retrospect, the old man had been getting more and more eccentric lately – like when he talked about paying everyone in postage stamps, and he’d taken to locking himself in his office with the shades down, loud Wagnerian opera blasting from inside, with Pettigrew singing along in gibberish.
there was a pool going as to when he’d have a stroke, and another for when they’d haul him away to the laughing academy.
on the day, for once he put out a decent spread, all kinds of goodies, and with the employees contributions it was a real feast.
best party ever…
until the cake was wheeled in. red and green, Christmas colors, and when it broke open, out popped Pettigrew, dressed like a cut-rate Brunhilda in a Santa cap, singing in gibberish and flinging costume pieces off indiscriminately.
they took him away. december 19th.  dammit, i had january 4th in the crazy pool.

prompt: write about what you can’t see

never cared for the dark, and being blind has always been a nightmare of mine.
so when my eyes started going bad, and surgery wasn’t an option, i freaked out. anxiety attacks, pretty severe, until the doctors told me i wouldn’t lose my eyesight completely. that and the anxiety meds , helped a lot. the world was just going to grow dim, even in the brightest sunlight. i had my house outfitted with high lumen bulbs, and figured i would make do.
sitting in my bedroom one night, reading with the help of three intense lights mounted over the bed, someone said, “think it’s bright enough in here?”
i live alone, so i levitated three feet straight up, and looked around for who had spoken.
“give it up, kid,” the voice said. sounded male, middle-aged, with some sort of accent. “you couldn’t see me before your eyes got screwy – no chance of it now.”
“so… uh… who are you? what are you?”
i was pretty sure i was going batshit crazy.
“i ain’t nothin’ and no one. but don’t worry, you’ll hear from me again…”

prompt: so how did the house catch on fire?

one of the reasons i stopped smoking was a bad scare, falling asleep with a lit cigarette. i figured if i couldn’t trust myself n ot to end up in a burning bed, i had no business with the nasty habit anyway.
it was a rough six months, but i quit.
my uncle Mack, on the other hand, didn’t. he’d been puffing on those horrible, smelly, cheap cigars all my life, and when he and aunt May came to visit for the holidays, i set out the rules, knowing he’d ignore them.
no smoking in the house, period.
if he smoked out back, put the soggy butts of the stogies in the trash bucket i’d thoughtfully provided.
if he smoked out front, take the butts around to the back, NOT THROUGH THE HOUSE, and use said bucket.
i don’t know why i bothered, i knew he’d ignore me, but it was one of those stupid, futile things you do just so you can say you’ve tried.
four times, very first day of their visit, i shooed him outside.
i looked at my bank account and considered subsisting on ramen and mac and cheese so i could put them up in a hotel.
woke up the next morning, could smell the cigars he’d smoked in the night, and found the butts in the toilet bowl.
seven times i sent him out back that day. it seemed as soon as i turned my back, or left the room, he lit up.
if i didn’t want to stay in their will, i’d have kicked them out into the street.
(that’s when i ran out of time, but it was going to end with the uncle setting the christmas tree on fire)

prompt: you see a celebrity hitchiking

it was in the vast wasteland of arizona when the starbucks triple espresso-red bull-mountain dew concoction kicked in, and the air was suddenly filled with ravens, their cries of ‘nevermore’ providing a greek chorus to the music Sandy had playing… her Justin Bieber mix.
hellish enough indeed, and i wondered if she was secretly a Canadian were-moose, trying to pollute the vital bodily fluids of this pure-blood Texan with her evil sexual magics.
i clenched a handful of pixie stix between my teeth and threw my head back, choking on the sugary sand pouring down my throat.
Sandy slammed on the brakes, and as our speed dropped from its raven-evading ninety-five to thirty, she used the handbrake as well, spinning us across the asphalt like a carousel gone mad.
orbiting us in our dervish-like deceleration i saw a bearded figure in a bathrobe, shorts, and flip-flops, carrying a bowling ball bag.
“Sandy, Sandy, goddamnit, we can’t stop here, we have no bust of Pallas, and i can’t stand the thought of those demon bird feet getting tangled in my hair!”
Sandy’s antlers were showing, and they’d replaced her ears, so she couldn’t hear me.
“Hey Dude, need a ride?” she asked the hitchhiker.

prompt: your great-aunt leaves you a restaurant

i’ll never know why Great Aunt Maggie Fay, Southerner to the core, decided a Greek-Indian fusion restaurant was a good idea. even less idea why she thought to open it in our little town of Hadley, population 1803, and less clue how it stayed in business for 23 years.
as to why she left it to me, this i understand.
she’d hated me ever since i was a baby and had vomited all over her faux fox fur stole.
no, i’m not imagining that hatred or the reason for it – she spelled it out in her will.
so, after all the legal issues were handled, i owned ‘Shiva Nike’ – the land, the building, the adjoining lot used for parking, and a twenty-three year tradition of tasty but incomprehensible food. a menu board in Greek and whatever the hell Indian dialect she chose was a staple of the place.
no translations – ever.
no explanations – ever.
the menu board changed daily. only one employee, the cook, a wizened old albino, knew what his scribblings meant, and he didn’t tell anyone.
so, first thing – change the menu and the restaurant name.
ever had 1803 people standing outside your restaurant with pitchforks and torches, burning you in effigy?
fun times, you bet.

listening to: “Once Upon A Time In The West” – Dire Straits
mood: rather sad



Them Ol’ Revolvin’ Door Police Blues

okay, first off, let’s start from the same place.
the mid and late 1970’s (which in Central Texas meant sometime around 1957), Central Texas, small town.
your faithful correspondent is a teenager – long-haired, smoking, drinking, toking up any time there was pot to be had – be it halfway decent import, or the infamous “Peach Creek Shit” – which was grown along the banks of Peach Creek, which also served as the sewage and drainage system of the black side of town.
what’s there to do in Scintillatin’ Smithville for young ‘uns?
you drive up and down the stretch of Hwy 71 that ran through town at the time, from the U-Totem on the southeast side of town to the “Y” on the northwest end of town, where Texas 95 split off from 71.
you do this for hours, night after night, playing your music loud, windows down, waving at your friends who are pacing the same ‘cage’ you are.
most of the cops were okay. as long as you weren’t blatantly breaking the law, they didn’t hassle you.
and then there was Butch… be fucked if i can remember the buttplug’s last name… who, when on duty, rousted kids on the slightest suspicion.
and because of some past encounters, had a special hard-on for me and my friends. Butch is why i was 22 before i could hear the word “assume” and not twitch – because it was my experience it would be followed by “the position”.
damned embarrassing when it happened in class.
so, Butch dated a girl in my class, my best friend’s sister, and of course, he was a perfect gentleman with her.
he also put his dick in any other girl he could get to hold still for it, and some, we suspect, by force.
so one night, another friend of mine and i were headed under the river bridge to smoke some dope. under the bridge had its own set of rules. you cut your lights, you often cut your engine and coasted in so if the cops were staking the place out you might have a chance of ghosting out again,  you didn’t make a lot of noise, you didn’t hassle the other kids down there, you didn’t poke your nose into other people’s business.
so we’re headed down, my friend cuts the lights and the engines, and sure enough, there’s a bad, bad sign… no other cars are down there, which generally meant a cop was down there waiting for a chance to roust us, see if we had anything suspicious in our cars… which we Oh-So-Certainly-Did at that point.
now being the natural-born-coward i am, my sphincter had hit a ’20’ on the 1-10 scale. my friend turns to curve around and make our escape… and we see the cop car.
and it’s rockin’ with the motion o’ lovin’.
i’m all ready for us to just keep on goin’. but my friend is a mouthier smartass sumbitch than me (hard to believe, i know), and he stops the car. gets out of the car, takin’ the keys (FUCKER!), and goes to peer in.
and being a dumbshit, i go with him.
the girl in the backseat? we know her. we also know she’s Underage.
the cop? you guessed it. Butch. pants around his knees, motherfucker hadn’t even taken his equipment belt off.
and my friend knocks on the window.
the girl’s eyes widen to the size of small moons.
Butch appears to have a minor seizure, turning around to see my friend making the “roll your window down” gesture, so loved by our local police.
window rolls down. i seriously think in retrospect, Butch was wondering about the logistics of killing all three of us. “apoplectic”, yes, that would describe his expression.
my friend says “you’re never going to roust us again, are you, Butch?”
tense head shake.
“in face, we can do no wrong, right?”
very tense head shake.
“well then, you and (name redacted) have a good night.”
and we walked away.
it may well have been a week before i shit in anything wider than a micromillimeter stream.
(and yes, we abused the hell out of our new freedom, we were teenagers, what do you expect?)
this speaks to Butch’s character. he was a bully, and we had him by the balls.
so later another little Butch indiscretion comes to light.
see, as a good citizen and public servant, he was a school bus driver.
and as a shithead pervert, he was exposing himself to small children, and using his position as a figure of authority to shut them up.
brought up on charges? don’t be ridiculous. he was let go by the Smithville PD, was hired by another small town PD, with a recommendation from Smithville’s chief.
because fucking pigs take care of their own.
found out later, when he was hired, our chief had heard rumors of his predilections. hired him anyway.
because fucking pigs take care of their own.
all of this was thirty years ago. back in the good old days. before cops felt so threatened. before we gave them military equipment.
so in a literal case of “what do you expect from a pig but a grunt?”, i’m not surprised by anything cops do, and how easily they get away with it.

because fucking pigs take care of their own.

listening to: “Raise What’s Left of the Flag For Me”, Flogging Molly
mood: disgusted

For No Particular Reason…

for no particular reason today, i remembered a series of incidents from a place i used to work, incidents that occurred so frequently they became their own in-joke, and their own ritual.

back in ’78 & ’79, when i worked at Tracor on defense contracts (no, it’s not as exciting as it sounds – we made the housings for flares and chaff rounds that got bolted on to combat aircraft), we had a quality control engineer who was, to put it bluntly, crazy as a shithouse rat. he’d get in a mood, and no block, no matter how perfectly cleaned, would pass inspection on its first pass. in those unenlightened times, this was referred to as “Joe’s time of the month” or “Joe’s on the rag”.
yes, as i said, unenlightened.
problem was, Joe could be in one of those moods for weeks, at one point, months at a time.
at first, we tried to find the imaginary issues Joe failed the blocks on. rapidly realized that was futile, because they were imaginary.
so in our area, the ‘block cleaning area’, there was a large metal table where outgoing blocks were placed prior to going to QA.
so, we’d put a perfectly clean block on the table, the three of us in the department chorusing “SHIP IT!”
Joe would downcheck it. we’d put the unaccepted blocks to one side for a couple of hours, do absolutely nothing to them. wouldn’t even run them through the chemical bath again.
then we’d return them to the outgoing table, with “FUCK IT!”
they’d come back to us again as ‘unacceptable.”
off to the side they’d go for a few more hours, remaining untouched, and then back on to the outgoing table, with “TO HELL WITH IT!”
and that was, generally, when Joe would approve them, and away they’d go down the line to have the actual flares or chaff inserted, the electronic firing mechanism bolted onto one end, so on and so forth.

for some reason, i truly have no idea why, i remembered that today.


listening to: my printer chugging along
mood: productive

Speed Writing Stuff

starting with “It was a dark and stormy night.”

it was a dark and stormy night. then a cold and rainy day. a snowy night followed by a bright but cold day then an icy night, and on through the days and nights of the year, while Ed stood in his front doorway and watched the days pass like bad special effects in a cheap made-for-tv movie. season followed season and year followed year, while Ed checked his phone, trying to gauge how fast time was passing outside his grandfather’s old farmhouse.
he was dumbfounded enough by the impossibility of it all, so it was slow going, but eventually Ed pegged it at about seven-and-a-half minutes a year. he didn’t feel the cold or the rain, the wind or the sun… in fact, his central air-conditioning kept running like it was the same day he’d opened the front door to find time flying by – a warm May afternoon.
it was hypnotizing, and Ed didn’t feel too concerned about the fate of his wife or children because things in dreams – or hallucinations – didn’t affect the real world, and he lived fully in the real world, so there was no doubt what he was seeing wasn’t real in the least.
the houses in the neighborhood aged, quick flickers of motion evidently people going to and fro, and still Ed watched, and wondered which of the drugs he’d done in his youth was bringing him this flashback.
finally, growing bored by it all, Ed stepped outside.

write about a haunted character.

empty spaces on the walls where pictures had hung.
it was the first thing she noticed every time she came home.
he’d left most of the furniture. they had been her decorating choices anyway, but every picture he’d been in, he’d taken with him, leaving not a trace of his image anywhere in the house, every little bit of him gone, not a sock under the bed, not a prescription bottle in the cabinet, not a food he liked that she didn’t in the cupboard. the garage was spotless except for what she stored out there, and that wasn’t much.
she wasn’t sure what had gone so terribly wrong. they’d had their issues, just like any other couple, but one day he’d gone from loving-her-and-exasperated-by-her to just-plain-gone. everything had been fine in the morning, and when she’d come  home that evening it was as if he’d never lived there at all. she couldn’t even find their marriage certificate, their joint checking account was a single account, only her name… she’d look at the mortgage papers but that was useless as she’d been buying the house when they’d met, he wasn’t involved in that.
he’d even taken the smell of him, leaving the house smelling of her patchouli candles and Febreeze.
later that night her eyes went blank and unfocused when she found one of his combs at the very back of a bedside table drawer. dressed only in her nightgown she took it out the back door, across the two acre field to the ravine, and threw it in, on top of the his body, and everything else that had been his.
she wondered how her feet had gotten so dirty, rinsed them off, and went to bed.


in the daylight, it wasn’t so bad. scenic, actually. a ruined church in a country full of ruins, a country where the scars of war weren’t covered up with ugly concrete bandages that pretended to be schools and offices and stores and churches.
a country that wanted to remember.
at night, the ruins took on a different tone. the church was a place where people gathered, and mourned their dead, and wrote the names of the dead and messages to their departed loved ones on scraps of paper they threw into garbage barrel fires, to be carried up to the heavens as ash. the people spoke their own language, quietly, in whispers, and prayed their conquerors had no spies in the crowd.
not that it was likely, given the differences in their appearance, but no one could completely discount the stories of humans working with ‘them’.
and when daylight returned, there were their overlords, asking in the politest of terms if the people would really prefer ugly concrete bandage buildings, put up free of charge, new and modern and convenient and comfortable.
and the people smiled politely, and said, “thank you, but no.” they returned to the crumbling remains of their home, and tended their little gardens, and their flocks of sheep and herds of goats, and pointedly looked away when the bright shiny trucks came through their towns, with free food, and supplies, and medicine, and books.
and when someone died of malnutrition, or disease, or exposure, or simple old age, their names were added to the remembered war dead, names on paper, thrown into fires.


listening to: a very quiet and peaceful house
mood: good, albeit very barely awake

Writing the Horror Out

some of the sweetest, most kind and gentle people i’ve known have written some of the sickest and most depraved stuff i’ve ever read.
writing can be purgative, it can release your inner monsters out onto the page, freeing you from them (at least for a time). it’s something i have no small amount of personal experience with, the source of stories and rants in a file to be destroyed by the executor of my will, stuff no one should ever see.
and so, i’m not in jail, or dead. 🙂
sometimes, the monsters aren’t our own. sometimes the horror isn’t of our own imagining. sometimes it’s reality, and like our imaginative horrors, it gets stuck in the grate of our minds, and it sits there, periodically swelling up in an infection of ugliness.
two ways to deal with those… write out the source of it, or just drain off the emotional pus and keep going.
i have one of those from September 11 i still haven’t dealt with, and i recently picked up another. this new one isn’t going to be around for long, Creative willing and the creeks don’t rise, as i have a story already brewing up about it, and i’ll be incredibly glad to get rid of it.

sometimes silly people ask why we’re writers…


listening to: “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”, Don Henley
mood: haunted

Some Speed Writing Stuff

sometimes she feels so lost. she looks around the life she’s made for herself, and it’s everything she wanted when she was younger – home, family, career, and it’s all morphed even beyond that into a larger home, a bigger family that looks great in all the photos, and a very successful and lucrative career.
and she thinks about running away, and leaving her four really-not-so-perfect children, and her boring husband, and the mortgage payments and credit card debt and compulsive shopping, and too many drinks every damn night, and vicious dog-eat-dog work environment.
leave it all… and be who? who is she without all that? what would she do? she has to do something; that’s the way she was raised, taught in school, and college, and church, and her job.
she has to do something , she has to be someone.
and she is… well, she thinks she is… and she’s completely lost.
nothing brings her happiness… she still loves her children, and she guesses she loves her husband, but they’re joyless loves of expectation and duty, loves born of expectations she’s no longer sure she wants to give a shit about.
and she dreams of flying, wings beating furiously against the sky, two-ton weights tied to her feet.


it had been nine years since they’d last talked. they hadn’t parted on bad terms, he’d gone his way, his childhood friend another, and life got busy for both of them, and like always life tended to focus all their attention on what they could see six inches or feet or yards or miles in front of their faces, and out of sight, out of mind, and things had happened, life milestones, and each had thought of the other from time to time, and sworn to call, sworn to email, sworn to text… it was easy to swear, hard to actually do.
and then the police had dragged the lake, completely unrelated case, and found the car, and Harlan’s body, and Evan had heard from the cops first, and did he have contact information for Richard?
they’d sworn they’d never talk about the it, they night they’d watched Harlan die of alcohol poisoning, when they’d put him in his car, and rolled it into the lake.
and it was one hell of a non-reunion, Evan and Richard sitting in separate interrogation rooms, just a wall between them, each wondering if they other would remember a story concocted nine years before.


something spoke to me about the house. i could ignore its infamous past, and i thought the decor was… interesting. Madame Pantanay’s Frolic Society had been a high-end establishment, decorated in classic, gilded and opulent style, and once it was finally mine… well, mine and the bank’s… i’d decided to keep the themes, adapting them to decorations in rooms for other purposes.
my sewing room was the nursery, bright cartoon animals on the walls, and the over-sized crib to hold bolts of cloth and other sundries. i turned the dungeon into the guest bedroom, as my weird friends found the idea endlessly amusing. the doctor’s office became my library, a comfortable, but austere, chaise lounge replacing the examination table.
everyone’s living room needs a red velvet swing, and the former bar/parlor area obliged. i’ve taken to to listening to music while swinging… very relaxing.
a large kitchen is always a plus, and i opened the girls’s actual sleeping accommodations into storage, a guest bedroom, and music room for my piano.
victorian painted lady, former bordello, eclectic home… certainly not a suburban box like all the others.


i got lotsa friends… friends who think they’re comedians.
that was my first thought when my hungover brain focused through blood-shot eyes on the worn army duffle bag in the middle of my floor.
what had those schmucks done  now?
the dead rat in my air vent had kept them laughing for weeks, and i had long ago made checking to see if sugar was really sugar and salt was really salt a standard procedure.
so… a duffle bag.
i tried to shake off the Jack Daniels fog and find my legs. not that i’m a cripple or nothin’, but me and Jack had talked for a long time the night before.
i hit the head, brushed my teeth with my finger, and debated coffee before unwelcome surprises.
good idea that.
coffee it was, and i was on my third cigarette when my eyes finally allowed me to read the tag on the bag – Jack Carlson, Private Investigator.
yeah, that was me, right apartment and everything.
$100,000 in large bills, and a dead midget wrapped in cellophane.
i don’t think this is the work of my funny friends.


listening to: “Porushka – Poraniya”, Kukuruza, “Gornitsa”
mood: productive, but getting hungry

You Know, I Suck At Blogging…

now i can put some of that down to a stealth case of depression this past month, but part of it’s my posting on Wastebook. lots of interesting things end up there that might’ve ended up  here, had i come here first.
but i didn’t, so they sit on the Zuckenstein’s monstrous misshapen creation, and lazy prick that i am, this blog is ignored.
i’d like to say that’s going to change. i’d also like to say i’m the Emperor of the Known Universe.
but i am looking at ways to change the frequency with which i don’t post here.
this also tends to end up being where i dump far more personal stuff than i would generally post on Wastebook.
lucky y’all.
it’s not really an author’s blog. it’s more my personal psychic dumping ground and traveling road spew. yeah, you get stuff like speed writing pieces, but you also get reminiscences about my life, philosophical naval-gazing, and general bullshit.

listening to: “Magnum Opus”, Kansas, “Two for the Show”
mood: productive

Some Speed Writing Stuff

a list of “L” words, made into sentences, and strung together into a narrative.

The lunch lady loved Tuesdays. That was Meatloaf Day, when the bodies of the inevitable victims of teenage lust were ground up and served to the remaining students. There was no lack of ketchup to sweeten the pork-flavored loaves. Ed looked at Caroline, sitting lonely at the end of her own long table. There were few students left, and even so she’d never spare a second glance for a loser like him. It was why they were still alive, unlike their late classmates. If he could the keys to the school’s Land Rover, she might consent to go on the lam with him, instead of waiting around like lambs to be slaughtered. Down the road, past the fields of landmines, out into a world where teen sex was regarded more lackadaisically.

haiku, containing “sweat”

her sweet, post-sex sweat
passion’s fragrance, pooled on skin,
spread by ceiling fan

she wants the good life.
i offer blood, sweat, and tears.
she snidely declines.

we live in Hell’s pit
i swear it on my ball sweat,
chafing everywhere

welcome to the South
horses sweat, men perspire, and
our women glisten

so, regular exercise,  noun, verb, adjective, and adverb, and i’ve got to come up with a noun. my brain screams “VAGINA”, but we have this rather creepy dude in attendance who tried, badly, to sexualize everything, so i just wouldn’t use that word, but it’s in my brain, and i cannot for the life of me think of another noun other than VAGINA. and so finally after minutes of brain-lock, i came up with ‘tupperware’, to join ‘run’, ‘peachy’, and ‘slovenly’.

“just fuckin’ peachy, thanks for asking,” i said, even though he hadn’t. his slovenly ass hadn’t budged off the couch all morning, while i’d been running hither and yon, returning everyone’s tupperware.
just another post-funeral chore.
i wish he’d died, instead of mom.
if he was still sitting there watching football when i got through heating up church-lady-casserole for supper, he might join mom in the grave faster than expected.
no grieving, no tears, hell, he’d been reluctant to leave the television for the funeral, and had sat there like a lump of sun-fermented shit wile everyone came to the house to express their sympathies and mouth their inanities.
i hated him more and more every second and considered if prison would be better than living with him.

list of words, one per minute, work ’em into a narrative.

i swore i’d run for it, i’d bolt, if she told me the kid was mine. no amount of tears were going to fix it this time, she’d cheated on me with every friend i had, and i wasn’t sure even a paternity test would convince me.
“well Wendy, it’s been a blast and all,” i said, when she claimed it was mine, “but you’ve been a home for lonely cocks, including, i’ll admit, mine, for so long, i figure you can find someone with more money and less dignity to take care of you. let him watch you fuck someone else, maybe he’ll get off on it.”
she tried to look wounded, but couldn’t sell it.
“nobody left on the list, asshole. you’re my last chance.”
“hold on, let me see, Wendy,” i said, “see if i can give any fewer fucks… no, i can’t. i’m outta here.”

mood: mellow
listening to: the documentary “History of the Eagles” on Netflix 


Lemme Tell Ya A True Story…

(tl;dr i’m more proud of honorary degrees than the one real degree i have)

so, i was born and raised in a small Central Texas town, and up through the last half of my 8th grade year, i was an inmate of the Smithville ISD. starting in 4th grade, we were divided into “A”, “B”, & “C” classes. generally “A” was the above average students (although one year they reversed it as i remember), “B” was average students, “C” was below average.
I was always in the above average group. never had to study, didn’t understand those who did. “where you in class? did you read the book? what more do you need?” i was actually a bit of a dick about it.
then came puberty. and where before my mother and i had lived with her parents, come the hormone storm, my grandmother could not cope. she was only semi-joking when she claimed i’d become “demon-possessed”. she’d raised two daughters, and a teenage boy was a metric buttload more than she wanted to handle.
understandably so.
so mom and i moved to Del Valle. closer to Austin, where she worked, which helped make us living on our own viable.
and i got to learn a whole new set of rules and games, courtesy of the inmates of the Del Valle ISD.
rule 1: new kids are fags.
rule 2: smart kids are fags.
rule 3: (learned later) kids who don’t smoke are fags.
rule 4: (the Most Important Rule) fags get their asses beat like they’re pinatas.
i got used to eating my lunch sitting on a closed toilet in the bathroom.
and mom got used to seeing me with new injuries. and didn’t have any problem at all writing excuses for days i chose to stay home and avoid the gauntlet.
being my mom, she was ready to go down and visit fire and fury upon the school district, but i convinced her that was a Bad Idea.
every kid knew, you don’t rat out fellow inmates. it would end in nothing but more pain, and make things worse.
(folks who know me are already aware, but for those of you just tuning in – i can’t fight for shit. never knew how, never learned. my idea of tactics stop at the forward charge, and using my limbs (and body) as blunt objects)
so, i learned i wasn’t smart. smart got me hurt.
and eventually i wasn’t the new kid anymore.
and things got better.
until they found out i didn’t smoke. see rule #3 above. i started smoking at age 13 to remain a non-fag. smoked for 27 years.
(before Del Valle, walk up behind me without me knowing, smash cymbals together. i’d turn around and ask you why. after Del Valle, same situation, i’d be stuck to the ceiling like Sylvester in the Warner Brothers cartoons. my friends used to like to smash trash can lids together next to my bedroom window in the middle of the night to see how loud i screamed.)
we moved back to Smithville after a semester of misery and i was back where i belonged.
i’d just picked up a few issues.
while in subjects i was interested in, i still didn’t have to study. subjects i didn’t give a shit about, i failed. i simply didn’t care enough to learn, and didn’t know how to study if i had. if lack of interest and reading the book (and occasionally attending classes – more on that in a bit) weren’t enough, i failed. (and thus began my family’s obsession with my own personal most hated phrase in the English language – “you’re smart enough to do anything you want. why aren’t you (doing whatever we want you to)?”)
and i was living in a sort of cognitive dissonance – on the one hand, if i was interested in the subject, it was kind of hard to avoid noticing i was smart, although i passed it off as classes simply being “easy”, and my disdain for those who had to study grew to outright scorn. and on the other hand, if i failed, it reinforced my lack of smarts, because being smart gets you hurt.
(odd example of dissonance in action – algebra. freshman year, was failing halfway though, Ms. Baker put me on an introduction to algebra workbook so i’d at least get half credit for the year. breezed through it in three weeks, straight A’s, and spent the rest of the semester in study hall. sophmore year algebra. new teacher (and one of my favorite people ever), Ms. Smith. i failed. hung out over at her house a lot, a lot of kids did. she and her husband helped cultivate my interest in classical music and history. during the summer between sophmore and junior years, a discussion we were having became an argument, and she would not let me walk away, everywhere i turned there was a short, cute redhead in my face. without realizing it, i drew back a fist. she said, “You wanna hit me?” “Yeah!” “Fine, you pass algebra this next year, you can deck me!” “What about him?” (referring to her husband) “You don’t worry about  him!” “Fine!” passed algebra, straight A’s. didn’t hit her.)
never cheated, was never tempted, even in subjects i was failing, except once (more on that later). so, junior year, chemistry. a semester on organic chem, a semester on inorganic chem. loved organic, breezed through, hated inorganic, with predictable results. (yet i never thought that in the same year, same basic course, one half of it was easy as hell, the other half so hard i confirmed my stupidity… cognitive dissonance, it’s not your friend)
now, all through high school, the lesson i’d learned at Del Valle – if you don’t want to go, don’t, and get that excused absence courtesy of Mom – kept escalating. and the truant officer couldn’t nail me, because i wasn’t playing hooky out in the wild, wide world – i was at home in my jammies, reading and watching PBS.
remember, this is before the days of “if you’re absent too many days, you don’t move on no way no how no matter what your grades are”. my junior year – the height of this behavior, i was absent more than i was there by three days. yes, skipped half the year and three days into the other half.
teachers and school officials knew i wasn’t sick all that often, but they couldn’t prove it because of my shameless blackmailing of my mom. “write the excuse or i don’t get to make up the tests i missed.”
and i was also running a moderately profitable business in selling stolen pink hall passes and, my specialty, exceedingly readable, and thorough, miniaturized cheatsheets, each carefully hand-crafted for the customer. extra-fine tipped pen, a very steady hand… it was artisanal cheating. and while my customers sometimes got caught, they never ratted out who’d provided their cheat sheet – ’cause after you catch two different students using identically hand-crafted miniaturized brilliance, you know there’s a third party involved.
so while i’m breezing through courses like advanced biology, and failing German and chemistry (among others) i start picking up correspondence course credits so i’d be able to graduate. they were easy, so very much like that “introduction to algebra” workbook.
comes senior year, according to school counselor, i’ve got enough extra credits, i should graduate, even if i fail a course.
and chemistry looms before me again.
they’d changed it to inorganic first semester, organic second semester, and i’m limping through inorganic. it’s all going to come down to the final. i wanted to pass, i really did. i could fail and still graduate, but it had become a bit of a steelcage deathmatch between me and the world of non-living chemical reactions.
so, for the first time in my life, i considered cheating. i created one of my best pieces of work, everything i might need to know, on a 4 inch by 3 inch sheet.
and right up until the exam, i was going to use it. but at the very last minute, i decided to maintain my clean record. i had maybe a minute before Mr. Albrecht started passing out the exams, and i did Not want the sheet on me, or i might be tempted, so i balled it up and tossed it onto a desk, three desks away from me. good shot, landed right out in plain sight. no way i could get up and get to it during the exam.
and Mr. Albrecht saw it as he came back to the back row, handing out the exams one by one.
yes, i made it. i was planning to cheat up to the last minute, but decided not to, and threw it far enough away so i couldn’t use it, even if i changed my mind.
quite noble of me, i thought.
he, and the principal, Mr. Stacy, who’d been wanting to nail my ass for four years, disagreed.
i automatically failed the exam, didn’t even get to take it to find out how i might have done. instead i was in the midst of an enchanting conversation with Mr. Stacy.
but it was okay, i could afford to fail a class and still graduate, and i was doing fine in everything else.
(until recently i didn’t realize that my admission of creating the sheet identified me as someone they’d wanted to nail for three-and-a-half years. funny ol’ world, innit?)
so, second semester begins. i’d forgone ordering a class ring ’cause really, jewelry commemorating my time as an inmate didn’t appeal to me, but i’d ordered my invitations to graduation.
and three weeks before graduation, the guidance counselor tells me he’d miscalculated. i didn’t have enough credits to graduate. and three weeks was far too short an amount of time to race through a correspondence course and get the credit for it.
he smiled when he told me. and i smiled back, because lunging over the desk and choking him wasn’t even a fantasy. i’d been fucking them for four years, now they were returning the favor.
mom wanted to interfere, i told her no. i deserved it. i’d bought the ass-fucking, it was time to lie forward and think of England.
getting my GED was one of the easiest things i’d ever done. really, if that was all that was required to get an equivalency degree, most kids probably could’ve taken the exam their freshman year and exited the system, should they choose.
so that’s why i wasn’t upset, but rather amused to find i’d stashed the only real degree i have behind my Bachelor of Arts in Medieval Metaphysics from Miskatonic University.
i may have bought that piece of paper from a gaming company, but years of being a part of a group of independent, if-it-works-use-it, self-styled magickal practitioners… i’d earned it. (okay, maybe not the ‘medieval’ part, we tended to qualify more as chaos practitioners than historically based) (and no, don’t ask me if what we did was real or not. depends on your view, and more importantly, on my view on any given day.)
and now i’ve added an ordination from the Universal Life Church, and a Doctor of Divinity degree from same, earned by years of studying religions and theology, even though i paid for the doctorate.

for me, my life earned me two degrees and an ordination. the GED? that was kindergarten shit.

mood: reminiscing 
listening to: “Copperhead Road”, Steve Earle