Friday, December 24, 2010

Father-and-Son Fleshlights: A Christmas Story

"Father-and-Son Fleshlights? You are disturbed." Even miles away I can imagine Chris, his face contorted into a mix of humor and disgust.

"Well I think I could make millions on this idea," I say, "Perfect for the mom-on-the-go who needs a gift for everyone in the family. Two Fleshlights in one package? What a bargain, am I right?"

"You are more wrong than I ever thought was possible."

I should point out that this conversation is taking place on the phone, and the "Father-and-Son Fleshlight" business endeavor came from a conversation I had earlier in the day. I'm at my parents' house and have decided to call my friend Chris to wish him a merry Christmas (Eve). The conversation immediately turns to inappropriate humor, because that's how our conversations tend to work.

"Aren't you at your parents' right now?" Chris asks, "Can't they hear you and your disgusting business ideas?"

"No, I'm downstairs in the kitchen," I say.

"But can't they hear you from there?"

"No, they're upstairs, I'm in the basement."

"Your kitchen is in the basement?"

"No, this is the basement kitchen, the other one's upstairs."

"Two kitchens? You never told me you were a millionaire. I want a car."

"I'm not, we just have... two kitchens."


"Uhh..." I stutter, "I don't know."

"Like, why are two kitchens necessary?" he asks.

"In case the other one breaks I guess."

I have not been able to stop thinking about this. It's ruining the holidays.

Extra bathrooms make sense, because two people can poop at the same time without having to touch butts. Extra living space? Also reasonable, everyone needs their space, it keeps people from killing each other. Extra bedrooms make sense because condoms break, and you have to have a place for the screaming, money-hemorrhaging results to sleep. Hell, I can even understand having a table for dining in your kitchen and an additional table in a dining room. One is casual and the other is formal, and it's nice to have extra seating when you have guests.

But an extra kitchen? This makes no sense.

And I've never questioned it. I've always accepted it as the other kitchen. I spent my childhood questioning the motives of religion and government and authority (a great way for an eight year old to make his parents uncomfortable), but never once did I say, "Mom, why the fuck do we have an extra kitchen? Who built this fucked-up freakshow of a house?"

The realization that my childhood home is some hideous monstrosity with unnecessary appendages is a little unnerving.

And the fact that it was like this the entire time and I didn't even think about it is slightly traumatizing for me. This building deceived me, tricked me into thinking it was a loving home when in reality it's a disfigured monster.

"Hey Mama, why is our house a disgusting freak with extra limbs?"


I can't believe she still loves me.

It turns out that the woman that used to live in this place used to do a lot of canning and baking, so a second kitchen makes sense. I'm a little suspicious that she was a serial killer and used the second kitchen as her personal torture chamber and mortuarium, but I keep quiet about my suspicions (but seriously we live in the middle-of-nowhere. Nobody could hear the screaming. It would be the best serial killer hideout ever).

I guess that's what family is all about, looking past the unnecessary appendages and hideous disfigurements and accepting them for the fucked-up mess that they are.

I'd prefer it if my parents' house had a hot tub, billiards, and mini-bar room instead of a second kitchen.

But it's still home.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Road Rage

I'd rather not be writing this, because it's embarrassing.
But part of my new policy on life is admitting to all of my unsavory behaviors and poor choices, because it keeps me from repeating them in the future and falling into unhealthy patterns. Simply put, it helps me be a good person, which I've been all about lately.

You know how you hear about road rage on the news, reports of people slamming their brakes, getting out of their cars, and screaming at each other in the middle of the street like psychopaths? And you think, who in the hell are these jackasses? What the fuck is wrong with people these days?

Today, I was that jackass.

I should start by explaining how I spent my morning and early afternoon. My friend PK (stupid abbreviation, I know) and I decided to take a trip to the mall. I had to try on a pair of boots so that I knew the size to order online later. We visited a few stores, but PK could tell something was off about me. I was being mopey, thinking about certain places I go and some of the people I spend my time with, wondering if they were really helping me become the person I want to be. PK did his best to entertain me and snap me out of my morose, but I was having none of it. I can be kind of a dick like that.

So instead of sharing our usual chatter, our inappropriate jokes and poorly-planned puns, PK was forced to listen to me drone about how I always feel like I'm falling behind while my friends have new successes with careers and graduate schools. He emphasized that a lot of my friends are three to eleven years older than me, so of course they're farther along, but I didn't really listen. Like I said, I can be kind of a dick like that.

I dropped PK off at his apartment, which happens to be in the same house I previously lived in for three years. On my drive home there's an intersection, it's a turn I'd driven countless times during my three years living in the neighborhood, a left turn onto a one way. I carefully looked to the right, and after a single car passed, I made my left turn.

There was a honk, and I looked up to see a car facing mine, a car going the wrong direction down the one way. There was a girl inside, waving her arms in the air and rolling her eyes as if I'd done something wrong.

And before I knew it, my car was in park, and I was outside her window shouting, pointing at the One Way sign and telling her to back the fuck up. Back your car the fuck up and turn around you fucking moron. Don't roll your eyes at me like a snotty bitch.

Other words used: stupid, cunt, dumb, retarded, ass, damn. My vocabulary wasn't exactly extensive at the time.

It was so classy. Classy, now there's a word I'm proud to have in my vernacular.

Moments ago I had been pondering self-improvement and the secrets to bettering myself, and here I was yelling at a girl like a lunatic. This was a horrible step towards improving myself.

I've told a few friends what happened and have received nothing but applause, cheers and high-fives. Even through text messages and phone conversations, I could feel the pats on the back.

But I'm still so embarrassed, the way I always am when I release emotions, affection or rage, it doesn't matter. The feelings are different but the embarrassment always lingers.

Because these feelings mean I'm losing control, the control I work so hard to maintain to keep myself from acting like a crazy person, to keep myself from behaving like those people on the news who commit assault over chicken nuggets.

I was probably accurate when I described that girl using some of the awful, derogatory language I used.

But I hope she accepts my apology.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Under Where?

I wake up to a typical morning.

I roll out of bed, scratch my ass, and eat a bowl of my roommate's breakfast cereal. I do a few push-ups and sit-ups because I tell myself that it will wake me up even though it never does. I reluctantly take off my comfortable sweat pants (the ones that are one size too big and hang over my ass) and exchange them for a fresh pair of jeans straight-off-the-hanger.

I go to my medieval literature class for some super-mature discussion about knights humping things, stop by the bank to withdraw money and totally not flirt with the teller, and then stop home for a few hours of eating and homework before my next class.

It's such a bland day. Look at me, being all normal and shit. This day is awesome. I'm being a productive member of society. I'm educating myself, and in the evening I'll go to my job, which pays taxes and everything. You wouldn't even know that at this time two years ago I was dating a lesbian and popping Vicodins like breath mints.

Then I go to Czech class. It's towards the end of class, and I'm fumbling through words like I normally do, nervously tapping my foot as I do so.

And I feel something sliding under my heel. I rub my heel on the ground, trying to figure out the texture, but I can't discern what has put itself under my foot. So I look down.

There is a pair of my underwear sneaking out of the leg of my jeans, caught under my heel.


How did it get there? How did I not notice this? How did I miss that there was an extra article of clothing attached to myself the entire day?

Some classmates notice, giving me awkward glances and nervous smiles as I clumsily snatch the clothing and toss it in my bag.

And since I know you're all curious, it was a pair of blue, plaid boxers. I know I'm not supposed to be wearing boxers anymore, but I still do. Besides, it's not like there's much of a chance of somebody taking my pants off and seeing them anyway, so fuck it.

Now I'm wondering what else could be attached to me, what else could be inside of me that I'm completely unaware of. What embarrassing attributes have gone unnoticed by me but not by others? What aspects of myself have I left unattended?

I can't come up with a way of forcing the answers to the surface.

So I guess I'll just keep going about my everyday life, waiting for them to present themselves at the most inopportune moment possible.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Czech 104

For those of you who don't know, I've been taking Czech as my foreign language requirement.

For those of you who don't know, Czech is the language of the Czech Republic, formerly part of Czechoslovakia.

If you can't figure it out at this point, check Wikipedia or Google or even those dusty encyclopedias at your parents' place.

Czech class is hard for me because you're supposed to talk about your life: your work, your education, your family.

My work history involves having sex on deli counters, getting drunk at six in the morning after a night shift at a factory, spending time in a record label office drinking on the job, handling perverted library patrons. I've worked a lot of jobs, each place more ridiculous than the next. At this rate I'm going to end up giving hand jobs to Charlie Sheen for Wal-Mart gift cards.

My education involves writing disturbing stories and discovering bizarre mythology. Just the other day my medieval literature instructor showed the class five-hundred year old parchment made of fetal lamb skin. More recently she showed us vulgar illustrations, one of the tamer ones involving a nun pulling penises from some kind of penis tree. My writing involves alcohol abuse and abortions and anonymous sex and sexual domination.

My family consists of wild rednecks and wealthy socialites and a wide variety of people who aren't even related to me that my direct family has never met. My direct family has difficulty understanding that I have another family that doesn't involve blood, and even more difficulty understanding that even though it's an additional family, it doesn't change the way I feel about them.

It's hard to explain these things in a foreign language when you can barely explain them in English, especially when you don't even know the Czech word for "dominatrix," the word for "record," the word for "fuck."

I don't know how I'm supposed to talk about my life in a foreign language when I don't even know how to translate, "So last summer I got wasted in the office with my boss and we went to the bar and she told me about all the nitrous she used to do and then I went to a different bar with some friends and this guy tried to sleep with me but I just wasn't feeling it so I went home and then my lesbian ex-girlfriend came over and we split a bottle of wine and then she left to fuck a sorority girl and I jerked off and went to bed."

The other day my teacher asked us to talk about who we call on the telephone, who helps us, who we help.

And all I could think of was a phone call I had made earlier that day, asking a dominatrix for career advice.

So when I'm called on in class, I blank out and blabber like an idiot, trying to figure out how to say something normal, something that won't result in a room full of horrified faces and the social ostracism I've been so terrified of since middle school. And I wish I could figure out how to tell my instructor why I'm having such difficulty.

But I don't know how to say it in Czech, so I can't.

So I handle it the only way I know how.

Studuju, píšu, pracuju a piju.

Sometimes all at the same time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Bench

My friend Chris is a nurse. He works long shifts at inconvenient times. He misses dinners and parties and concerts. While other people are out drinking and fornicating like animals, he's cleaning up body fluid and pushing needles through skin. When other people are watching football and dancing to pop music, he's changing bandages and watching people die.

I don't know how he does it. He says smoking helps. But there has to be more to it than that.

A few months ago while on a run I stopped by his apartment to see if he was around. His roommate answered the door and told me Chris was in his room. I found Chris on the floor in front of his mirror in his underwear. He was on his knees, his left hand resting on his lower back and his right hand stretched out in front of him, his palm facing the floor. It looked like a yoga position. He saw me in the mirror and gave me a nod.

"What the hell are you doing?" I asked.

"Trying to figure out what sex position I look best in, what the hell does it look like I'm doing?"

This is the kind of person Chris is.

Last summer Chris attempted to kill himself. He swallowed a bottle of pain killers. It would have worked, but Chris had to be dramatic and chase it with half a bottle of whiskey. It ended with him waking up at four in the afternoon the next day in a puddle of vomit, feeling like a dumb ass. He doesn't even like whiskey, and a week later he regretted getting rid all the porn he didn't want his family to find after he was dead. Thankfully I'm a good friend and copied some of mine onto his computer. In return he gave me half a bottle of whiskey.

This is the kind of person Chris is.

I don't see Chris very often. Our schedules conflict and we have different groups of friends. We used to share a mutual group of friends that bordered on family, but after an unfortunate death and some lesbian infidelity the group sort of fell apart, with the few gatherings we have being tense and unsatisfying, an almost forced ritual of togetherness, the way families are supposed to be I guess. But Chris and I try to get together occasionally to grab a few beers or get dinner or work out.

The other week we were lifting at the gym, which has always been intimidating to me because of the massive behemoths that roam the floor. But going with Chris made me comfortable, because he's confident and strong and has that similar tinge of craziness that I have.

There's something about the environment of the gym, about the way it leaves me insecure and neurotic, that makes me more open to talking, especially with Chris. We shared our insecurities about our educations and our jobs and our friends and families. Somehow exposing these other aspects of myself makes me forget about the beautiful girls on treadmills and muscled giants on weight benches.

Chris and I were closing our workout with the bench press, which is always the piece of equipment that I find the most intimidating. People don't ask how much you can lift with your biceps, how much weight you can pull with a triceps curl. They ask how much you can bench. Being on my back, legs separated, padding beneath me and a heavy weight above me, my exhausted body covered in sweat, it makes me feel vulnerable and exposed. It's practically sex... well, sex without the alcohol and performance anxiety.

"I hate the bench," I told Chris as I stretched myself across the black padding. I glanced over to see how much weight Chris was putting on the bar and he gently slapped my cheek to move my line of vision.

"Don't look," he said. I heard the smooth slide and clink of him putting the weight on the bar as I stared straight at the ceiling far above me. Slide, clink. Slide, clink. Slide, clink.

"Let's do it," Chris said, helping me lift the bar over the rack before letting go, "I've got you covered, don't worry."

Of course I still worried. I expected the bar the crush me, but it was surprisingly comfortable. It was heavy and challenging, but I wasn't concerned about it falling onto my neck and choking me to death and being on the news as that scrawny dumb ass who died at the gym.

"Breathe," Chris would say when he noticed me struggling, "Relax. You're fine."

As I finished my fourth set, Chris steadying the bar on my last lift as I placed it back on the rack, he patted me on the shoulder.

"You're up thirty pounds this week," he said.

"What?" I asked, contorting my face to show my obvious disbelief.

"You can do more when you don't worry so fucking much about it."

I haven't told Chris how much that single statement has seeped into other aspects of my life, how it's changed my feelings about my education and work, how it's made me realize that I've been handling everything fine and carrying the full weight of my life to damn near the best of my potential, that it's made me see that despite being crazy and prone to ludicrous behavior, I'm still doing much better than the majority of my peers, but I'll get around to saying something.

Because there's plenty of time, and for once, I don't have to worry about it.

Friday, November 5, 2010


I've always avoided having pictures taken. There always seemed to be something fake about collecting as a group and pasting on smiles for a series of shots of whatever event you were enjoying (or not enjoying) at the time.

Hey guys, remember that time we dressed up and went to the photo studio as a family?

Oh look, a picture from that time we all sat around a table at Olive Garden and smiled. That was so memorable compared to all the other times we went to Olive Garden.

But more than that, I wasn't exactly comfortable with documenting what was going on in my life. When you spend years fueled by alcohol and pheromones, swayed by hormones and bourbon and the opinions of others, the decisions you make aren't exactly the type of events you want on the record.

Did anybody get a picture of me busting Billy's nose open? We could edit it so the picture is all black and white except for the blood! That would make a sweet profile picture.

Home burglary? More like Kodak moment, am I right? Fuck... was the camera stolen?

Somebody get a camera! I'm about to experiment with drugs normally reserved for cancer patients.

I should totally send this picture of me spending the night in jail to my parents!

Guys look, I'm about to take six shots of Jim Beam and sleep with a stranger, I sure hope somebody takes a picture of me missing work tomorrow.

It just seemed irrational to want photographs of myself during a point in my life that served as a terrible reflection of me as a person.

I'd also lay some of the blame on that Nickelback song about photographs. I would have lost all of my cool credibility if I participated in anything that could possibly be construed as related to Nickelback (but my techno jam sessions were and still are totally acceptable, I don't make the rules).

But now, I'm starting to wonder if maybe a picture or two would have been nice. Perhaps a picture would help me explain certain aspects of myself. Maybe it would be easier to explain that when dating a Latina veterinary student I didn't love her, but knowing that I couldn't made me feel safe. Or the way it felt when I realized I was losing Paul to Denver. Or that while I felt justified beating a knife-wielding mugger senseless with two gallons of milk, a nagging guilt still scratches at my stomach from time to time, berating me for leaving him on the parking garage floor. Maybe a photograph would show the way the blood and milk splashed into peppermint swirls on the pavement.

And a few naked pictures of exes would be cool, not for blackmailing or because I want them back or anything, but for bragging rights. I mean, the lesbian was crazy hot and the Pakistani guitarist, well, he was a Pakistani guitarist, you'd be crazy to think that's not sexy. How are people supposed to know I managed to score out-of-my-league lays if I don't have photographic evidence?

There's still a chance for a recovery of the missed photographs. They say a picture says a thousand words.

Too bad I can't draw for shit.

It looks like I have a lot of writing to do.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Shrunken Head

So there's this bar a few blocks from my place called The Shrunken Head, and while my roommate and I don't manage to make it there as often as we'd like, I love it.

I'll admit I'm a little biased. It's owned by my former boss's husband, and both my former boss and her husband are great people and have helped me out on several occasions.

But you can't argue with an amazing burger, a variety of other delicious German food (try the schnitzel!), a Happy Hour that boasts a liter of genuine German beer for only $4.00 (several beers on tap) and a warm atmosphere hosted by one of the most attractive bar staffs in Columbus.

Not that a bar staff should be judged by how attractive they are... but seriously, damn. The girls and boys that work that place know how to work it.

I'm starting to feel guilty about objectifying the staff. Yes, they're sexy, but they're also incredibly friendly and helpful, and are more than happy to assist you in finding the meal or drink that is right for you. The girl that served my roommate and I the other evening offered us several samples of draft beers before we finally decided what we wanted.

On Tuesdays The Shrunken Head (or "ze Head") hosts a swing dance night, the perfect event for active couples looking to add some spice to their work week.

And the concerts, I can't even begin to keep track of all the musicians and shows The Shrunken Head hosts. Over the summer I went to an event featuring Wisconsin-based group Null Device. The Shrunken Head may be a small venue for shows, but that's what makes it such a unique experience. Even when excusing yourself to get a drink at the bar (and I must remind you, the bartenders, both male and female, are hot), the band is still right there, the music is still pulsing in your ears.

The Shrunken Head doesn't quite fit the stereotypes most traditional bars and restaurants fall into. As of now, it doesn't seem target a certain group. It doesn't appeal only to hipsters or rockers or young professionals. The bar appears to take on the philosophy of its owners: it is what it is, and almost anybody could find something to like about it. It's that comfortable neighborhood bar that is fading fast in American culture.

The Shrunken Head is on the corner of 5th and Neil in Columbus, and you really ought to check it out. They have a website (here), but I tend to get information about their menu and upcoming shows from their Facebook page.

I hope you'll join me for Happy Hour!

Sorry Mom, Sorry Dad

Apologies to my parents, who are probably better off not knowing that I swear, or drink, or... do the other things that will occasionally be referenced on this blog.

And I'm already on a tangent, but could we have come up with a better word than "blog?" It's such a disgusting word.

So I'm not going to call this my blog. I'm going to call it my journal. Because that's what it is, and it's so much less gross than the word "blog."

I don't really have high expectations for this bl... journal. I'm just going to use it to post about what's going on in my life, how I'm slowly becoming less crazy (writing is the first step, and holy shit you guys, it's so much cheaper than therapy) and share the music or books or art that I find interesting.

So why take it to the Internet?

Because not only is it much more manageable than the half-dozen folders full of Word documents I have, but because even if just one person reads my writing, it's worth it.

My friend Molly says my writing makes her laugh. My friend Paul enjoys my music suggestions. My friend Robin says my writing helps her understand her sexuality. My friend Chris says my writing saved his life.

That's what makes exposing myself to whoever stumbles upon my writing feel right. The embarrassment of my insecurities and actions doesn't matter if somebody laughs or cries, or in Chris's case, decides that maybe, just maybe, there's an alternative to taking a bottle of pain killers and praying for death (which is something Chris should have been able to figure out anyway, but hey, I never accused him of being smart).

So every few days, I'll pull something new and revealing about myself from under my bed to share with the world.

And hopefully have a little fun with music and humor and politics and literature along the way.

Of course, before sharing my journal with the usual venues of Facebook, Twitter, and the like, I'll be sending a link to my parents, who are responsible for raising such a mess of a human being.

Hi Mom! Hi Dad!