Sans Pants (Books, Coffee, and Cellphone Etiquette Pt. II)

So I answered the phone and it was my mother wondering if I had enough money this month to pay the rent, which I did, and then the conversation evolved into why I’m still single and why I don’t have a girlfriend or kids and why I haven’t bought a house yet. Even though seconds before, she was asking me if I could afford my rent. How would buying a house be an expectation when I can barely pay my rent? A mother’s perspective is something I’ve never understood. Best intentions without any of the actually reality that holds the rest of us down and keeps us from our dreams. I asked her how she was doing and she said the same things she says every time: the dog is getting better at learning how to be a dog owned by a human, dad is still working nonstop even though there is no way he can keep doing construction for the rest of his life and he’s already almost sixty years old and it’s taken a toll on his body, and how my niece is getting so big and I’m missing the best years of her life, and how I never show up to all of these miniature parties that the rest of the family throws almost spontaneously. These are always the things she talks about and they never change. The dog is always learning how to be a dog, dad is always working, and the niece is always growing as if it were a surprise to everyone that kids grow up. These are the conversations people have with their mothers at around age thirty.

After we were done talking at about noon, or one or whatever it was, I went to the fridge to drink the last beer from the night before. After I spent too long looking for a beer I had already drank, I decided it would be a good time to put on pants. Then I realized that I had answered the door and accepted my book, and the mailman sent the signal to space, and I had closed the door only to reopen it to thank him awkwardly, all sans pants. It was one of those mornings. Pants could wait. Luckily I still had two or three cigarettes left in my pack of cheap smokes that are bought only by people who spent the previous thirty minutes or so scrambling for quarters. So I went outside and smoked two of them, knowing I would have to buy another pack in about fifteen minutes. Mornings are the worst. Not the worst, but they can be pretty awful if you had a rough night the night before.

I checked my phone after talking to my mom to make sure that I hadn’t texted or called anyone that would create the morning shame spiral that also follows a night of heavy drinking. This was around the time my phone died, if I remember correctly. My phone was dead and this gave me a new kind of paranoia. Who did I talk to last night? I’d have to wait at least five minutes for my phone to charge enough of its battery for me to find out. I went to my desktop and logged into all the normal things that could create the same amount of shame. Nothing there. When my phone finally charged, I realized that I hadn’t talked to anyone in nearly a week, except my mom, and that created something entirely different from shame. I was just sad to realize that I hadn’t talked to anyone through my phone in almost a week. With texting and social networking and everything else that comes with owning a cellphone now, I should have a few screens of recent contacts. But I didn’t.

I went back to the book I finished but couldn’t remember reading any of it from the night before. I know that I loved reading it and it was one of the best books I’ve ever read, but I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it. It was a mystery to me. I could read it all over again if I wanted. I bet I’d remember some of it. So I looked it up online and read a synopsis and remembered everything I read from the night before. It was about a girl who left everything to go and find everything only to realize that everything and nothing were essentially the same thing. I didn’t get the significance at the time, but I thought it was a cool way to word it. When you have everything, you want nothing. That’s the same, right? Because when you have nothing, you kind of want everything. Or at least anything. So maybe I could rephrase that a little better. Everything, anything, and nothing are all basically the same thing.

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Books, Coffee, and Cellphone Etiquette

There was a knock on the door early in the morning. I wasn’t planning on getting up that early, but when someone knocks on your door, you kind of just have to answer it. So I answered it.

The mailman stood there with his little computer thing that sends a signal to space to let the company know that the book I ordered has finally reached its destination. Someone has to know that someone has received a package. That’s the way the world works now: a little handheld computer thing sends a signal to space after waking me up in the morning. Technology is used mostly to cater to the consumer, if you really think about it.

The book wasn’t that good, if I remember correctly. Something about a guy being discontented with the world and a bunch of pointless characters that really didn’t do all that much to better the main character’s life, but for some reason he still kept hanging around them until he couldn’t take it anymore and eventually goes home. Every chapter was some version of that routine: pointless conversations and little to no description of what they were doing or where they were while they were doing whatever it was. Most books are being written this way, as if it were some new style that millennials invented to feel original about themselves. Anyway, that’s how the day started.

I remember that all I had to do that morning to make the coffee was press the little button on the bottom of the machine. I was probably drunk the night before and prepped the machine to be ready for the inevitable hangover which usually followed a night of Friday night drinking. It’s surprising how much preparation and productivity happens when you anticipate a miserable morning. So I pressed the coffee button and the machine made that weird bubbling sound that always reminds me of what my stomach sounds like when it’s trying to digest something it doesn’t like all that much. Since I’m not a big food person, sustenance could always wait until the headaches and indigestion passed. This usually happened around noon, unless I had something really important to do. And by really important I mean something like running to the library at the university to print off about seventy pages of the same thing so the little monsters can learn how to read and write in accordance with the state standards that let the teachers, parents, and students know that they are learning all of the same things everyone else is learning in the state and that the best outcome for everyone involved is that everyone progress at the same rate learning the same material. I guess some people would call that really important. But it rarely feels important.

After I grabbed the book from the mailman and he did his little scan and beep thing with his computer, I shut the door before saying thank you. I tossed the package on the nearby couch and opened the door again to give a pathetically vocalized “thank you” to the mailman, which I’m not entirely sure he heard, but it let me feel good about myself for saying thank you to the mailman. I’m not sure how many people thank the mailman anymore, so it gave me a certain sense of charity and high moral ground for the morning. Then my phone rang.

The thing about cellphones is that nobody answers calls anymore. They will actually ignore the call and then immediately text you back. You know they must have been looking at their phone, saw that you were calling, let it ring itself out or they ignored the call, and then they decide that they don’t really want to actually talk to you, but they are open to communicating with you as long as there are no spoken words. Everyone in the 21st century is a writer of sorts. And maybe that’s why books are becoming so casual and conversational and lacking in anything of substance and permanence. Maybe it’s a good thing. But when a parent calls your cellphone, no matter how old you are, you answer it. It’s just polite.


This is mostly just a freewrite from this weekend. I don’t have much time lately to sit down and write long enough to get a story to some form of resolution or feeling of closure. Well, most of my stuff doesn’t get finished. But writing is pretty fun. If you were to see my desktop, it’s full of Word documents that I can open up and start trying to finish weeks after starting them, but I never do. Oh, well. Hope everyone is doing well.


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Where I Almost Am

For the last five years, I’ve been going to school to be a teacher. Even when I was just majoring in English, I was still in school to eventually become a teacher. From the Marine Corps, to community college, to university, to grad school, it’s been a long road getting to where I almost am. I’m in a city that I sometimes love, I’m in a house that is nice but a little lonely sometimes, and I’m student teaching now and inching ever so close to getting certified and eventually having “my own” classroom. The education/Masters program I’m in is exactly what I needed for this time in my life. The support I get from both the program and the school where I am student teaching is amazing. I’m learning more about myself, my subject, and how schools work and what they are supposed to do than I ever have in my life. The students are great and know how to do what needs to be done but still somehow push the limits of my patience. It’s a great experience.

I figured I’d leave something positive on here as I won’t be able to write for the next few weeks (possibly a month) due to a giant teacher assessment thingy I need to be working on and the internet is becoming a huge distraction for me.

I hope all is well as February comes to a close.


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Generation Temporary

“What is it about our generation that makes us go out and buy albums on vinyl?” Laika said over the phone. “Seriously. There is no reason for any of us to own record players. But everyone I know owns a record player. Everything is available online now. There’s seriously no reason.”

“I don’t know,” Connor said, grazing his finger through his small record collection. “Maybe our generation is sick of everything being temporary. Like, even families are temporary now. Relationships are temporary. The modernity of your tablet is going to run out next week. Everything is temporary with us. So we like the idea of something sticking around for the sake of sticking around, you know? It just feels right. I can’t explain it.”

“I kind of see your point, but it’s not convenient at all.”

“Neither is having to buy a computer, download a software, create an account with the company, sync it with your bank account essentially and then search through an online store and select and download all of your songs. And then you have to transfer it over to your device or phone or whatever. I just have to go pick up a piece of plastic and put it on a table.”

“People could make the same argument about computers versus typewriters though,” she said. “Just put in a piece of paper and start typing. You don’t even have to press Ctrl+P! Just type and you already have a hardcopy. Things that aren’t very convenient can be practical too, like computers and tablets and phones and iPods. Get with the times, man.”

Connor laughed.

“I actually really love my typewriters,” he said. “I mean, yeah, they aren’t very convenient or anything. But sometimes it’s fun to get on there and just see what comes out with no backspace or cutting and pasting. It’s fun for poetry anyway. It’s seriously the only way I can get myself to write a poem. Poetry and computers don’t mix well with me. And you don’t have to be distracted by the internet. Sometimes I wish a had a computer that didn’t hook up to the internet.”

“You could just unplug your router. Or not go on the internet.”

“Yeah, but it’s there. I know it’s there. And sometimes I have poor impulse control, you know. Like, just knowing it’s there is enough to not be able to get my head in the game.”


I bought this whole album on vinyl this last week and don’t even know why. The whole thing is on youtube for free. It may or may not have inspired this small excerpt of a really lousy story I’m writing.

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I Swear I’ll Drive All Night

I’ve been thinking a lot about sad songs and how they are something that I’ve loved since I was a little kid. I loved hearing them. I loved people being real in front of a microphone, or piano, or guitar, or anything. I just loved that people could find such an amazing way of expressing their emotions, even if they are kind of embarrassing sometimes. Of course, most of these songs were not understood by the younger version of me. I didn’t know what heartbreak was in the context of a relationship. I experienced a lot of circumstances and emotions at a very young age and it kind of warped my understanding of how a child is supposed to behave and what things a kid should be interested in. I didn’t like the popular songs on the radio because they weren’t something I could relate to. I thought I had to relate to something to appreciate it, so I always gravitated to the sad songs because I was sad a lot of the time. Anyway, this song is something I’ve been listening to for the last few days and it captures too well how I’ve felt the last few weeks.

I also stumbled across this little quote while reading a book about the lasting impact of a famous rock star: “…being sad and listening to a song about sadness helps you feel better, not worse, and rock music doesn’t lead you to kill yourself.”

Here’s to feeling better!

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Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional

Going through a breakup is something I’ve never been good at. There is so much confusion, second guessing, memories, regrets, wishes, hopes, dreams, and everything else that seem to just takeover everything all at once. I know when enough time passes, everything will be fine. But it just feels impossible. It’s a lot like running away from something for dear life. Every time you turn around, the Thought Monster is there just a few feet behind you.

You still love her, it says. Remember all those times she smiled at only you and you felt like you were the king of the world? Remember how she made you feel like Superman? Remember how she was always cold and wanted nothing more than to be close to you because she said you felt like a heater? Remember how there is nowhere for you to go in this town without being reminded of some magical time you spent together? Remember how many special moments happened that were only shared between the two of you? She’s sharing them now. She doesn’t think they were special. In fact, she hates you for them. She’s mad at those moments. She wishes they never happened.

And you keep running. And it feels good for a time, but then you look back again.

“Just one more time,” you say. “Just to see if it’s still there.”

And it is. It’s always there.

Call her, it says. She’ll say she loves you. You know she does. She just forgot.

And you keep running. You hate yourself for looking back. But you do every once in a while. And it’s always there.

She’s smiling at someone else now. She’s making someone else feel like Superman. She’s still cold but she has a new heater. She’s making new memories and sharing new moments. She’s taking him to all of your spots.

So you keep running. Before you know it, you can’t run anymore. You just want the Thought Monster to eat you. At least then you could stop running. And you slow down. It gets its dirty claws all over you.

You’ll never get over it, it says. And the worst part is that it’s your fault. She was perfect. You’d still be with her if you hadn’t fucked it all up. And you’ll do it all over again next time, if there is a next time. No one could love you. She’s the only one who could. And she’s gone.

You can’t take anymore. You rip the claws from your shoulders and start running again. You learn that the Thought Monster feeds on tears. So you stop crying, finally. You look back less. You run faster than you ever thought possible. You sometimes forget that it’s even there. You still look back sometimes. It doesn’t hurt as much. Just a little. Just enough to remind you that you were in love once. The kind of love no one can understand, and you know they aren’t supposed to.


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Overwhelmed by Nothing and Everything

Sometimes I’ll say something, or a series of things, in front of a group of people (most of the time they are my family or friends), and immediately after I say that something (no matter what it was), I realize that I just said something terrible, or I at least think it must have been perceived as terrible. Or maybe they didn’t get some joke. Or maybe I didn’t actually say what I thought I said. Or maybe I didn’t say it how I meant to say it. Or maybe I didn’t say anything at all. I don’t know. These things happen all of the time and I don’t know why it bugs me so much. But I’ll go home after these things happen and I’ll dwell on them for the next week or so. And that’s not an exaggeration: I actually think about these things for weeks at a time. Not only do I think about these things for weeks at a time, but I’ll go out of my way to ensure that they don’t happen again. I’ll try to avoid the people I may or may not have embarrassed myself in front of. I’ll try to not have to be around them if I can help it. I’ll just plain act weirder than the initial misunderstanding that has me acting weird in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle of self-doubt, self-consciousness, and insecurity. And they all just build and build and build on top of each other to the point that eventually I feel like there is a giant weight on my chest and everything feels overwhelming. I’ll look at the stack of papers that I have to go through to get some assignment finished; I’ll look at the mountain of laundry building up that I know I need to do or I will surely run out of clothes soon; I’ll look at the other 75% of the book I’m currently reading and feel like there is no way I will ever finish it. At the end of the day, I’ll basically have sat around doing nothing. I will waste my day sitting around thinking about all of the things I should be doing but can’t bring myself to do. I’ll waste my day worrying about potential things that I may or may not be missing out on. Either way, I end up wasting so much time thinking about how little time I have to get all of the things done that I need to do by this certain time. And all of these feelings tie back to my initial fear that I may or may not have come across in the way I wanted in front of a group of people. Everything feels overwhelming when you don’t know how you are perceived by others. I don’t even know if I perceive myself correctly anymore. I legitimately don’t know how to be a person sometimes.


Filed under Free Writes and Exercises, Non-Fiction