Friday, April 29, 2005

"Careful, men! It could be carnitas!"...

No comment necessary....

CLOVIS, N.M. - A call about a possible weapon at a middle school prompted police to put armed officers on rooftops, close nearby streets and lock down the school. All over a giant burrito.

Someone called authorities Thursday after seeing a boy carrying something long and wrapped into Marshall Junior High.

The drama ended two hours later when the suspicious item was identified as a 30-inch burrito filled with steak, guacamole, lettuce, salsa and jalapenos and wrapped inside tin foil and a white T-shirt.

Ken & Rosa get married...

Is it a title meant simply to scare the hell out of you? Or... is there more?

As you know, the new book is just trucking along. In fact, you might not know that I'm over 6,700 words into it now (with over 230,000 words of research - it hurts)! Today, I reached the story of Ken & Rosa's wedding and thought I'd share this little highlight with you.


On Monday, May 16, 1988, Rosa and I woke up early and boarded an Amtrak commuter train to Los Angeles. Wheels were turning, and not just the wheels of the train. We were bound for Seattle, bound to get married.

My father had not only agreed that we should get married up in Seattle, he's insisted upon it. To him, it was a great idea. He was more thrilled, it seemed, than Rosa, who was already making comments about how I was "forcing her" to marry me. But my dad had rules. First, he wanted us to get married in a church. No problem; he'd pay. He'd take care of everything. His other condition was that we attended "wedding classes". Wedding classes? I'd never heard of such a thing! But, sure enough, they existed. We attended a week of them, one-on-one meetings with the pastor of the Christ Lutheran Church in Orange. He said to us things like, "Knowing each other's favorite flavor of ice cream will not make a marriage last. It takes work and a commitment to do the work." and "Once you are married, you will no longer be Ken and Rosa but one family and, so, you must put aside the needs of Ken and Rosa and make the needs of the family most important in your life."

No amount of wisdom or pithy sayings would help us, though. We were doomed from the start.

There was no way for us to know that, though. We changed trains at Union Station in Los Angeles and boarded the Coast Starlight, which would take us all the way to Seattle. Now, when I had made the reservations, I wanted a room with a bed. I wanted the trip to be perfect. But I was young and didn't know much about train travel, I only knew what I'd seen in the movies. So, when the Amtrak employee took my reservation on the phone and suggested "First Class Coach", I thought I was getting a deal. Train travel isn't like it appears in the movies. "First Class Coach" turned out to be "Coach", and we had to endure the next two days in a small chair that only barely reclined. The air conditioning in the car was set on something close to "Arctic" - and they ran out of blankets, given them to the elderly. The food in the dining car tended towards such treats as microwaved prime rib. A child kept kicking the back of my chair.

But the excitement and the potential of the trip was palpable. Rosa took roll after roll of pictures from our cheap, little camera of everything that flew by outside her window, mostly coastline. (We threw away about 90% of these shots when we got back. After all, how many pictures of coastline can you look at?) I couldn't sleep, though we were on the train two days. Rosa slept quite a bit. She was an incredible sleeper, could sleep anywhere under most any condition. As I was awake, I watched her sleep and contemplated her becoming my wife.

Arriving in Seattle, I couldn't find my dad but he found me. I still looked vaguely familiar after all those years but my dad… looked old! His hair was almost entirely grey and he'd put on quite a bit of weight. What had happened? I was in my 20's and he was in his 50's - that's what had happened. We had a day to relax and, before we knew it, it was Friday, the day before the wedding. The few family members Rosa had invited, those who could stand me, couldn't make it. I had invited two people, Rob Sassone who would be my best man and Sean Roberson who would not. He would video tape the event. Sean flew in that night tanked up on airline booze. Rob didn't make it.

What to do? I took Sean aside and said, "Look, Rob was supposed to be my best man but he was supposed to be here for the rehearsal. I feel terrible asking you under these conditions but…" Turned out, he was only too happy to be my best man. He hadn't brought a suit but we'd worked around that.

My dad brought us to the tux rental shop where he'd reserved my tux: a white-jacketed affair with black tie and black pants, which had a shiny stripe down the legs. A racing stripe, I called it. The shop had nothing in Sean's size on such short notice. The nicest clothes he'd brought had been slacks and a sweater.

We had the rehearsal and Rosa went off with Blanche, my step-mom.

My dad said, "You guys can't stay at the house."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because you can't see the bride before the wedding," Blanche called out.

Sean and I exchanged glances - of course. But my dad and reserved us a hotel room. Sean and I checked in and then bought a case of "Mickey's Big Mouth" beer from a local liquor store. Sean was a pretty big guy; most of that would be for him. We filled the tub with ice and planted the beer within. And that was my bachelor party, two guys drunk on notoriously bad beer, watching MTV on the hotel television, and smoking all they could.

The next morning, hung over from Mickey's, which is actually worse than death, I showered, shaved, and got into my tux, laughing at the racing stripe. Sean crawled off the sofa and got himself ready as well. He passed out again in the car as I drove to the church singing, "I'm getting married in the morning! Ding Dong, the bells are gonna" forgetting the rest of the words, hoping to force myself out of the hangover. When we passed the dead moose in the road, I worried about portents for a moment but just for a moment.

At the church, Sean and I were sequestered in the back, where my half-brothers, Dwight and Richard, merely teenagers, awaited us. They'd had a fun night with Rosa, playing cards games and wanted to know what we'd done. All we could say was, "Coffee. Get us coffee." When Rob walked through the door, I didn't know whether to hug him or hit him. And then, the wedding began and I had to walk out. I turned to Rob and grabbed his shoulders, "Stop me from doing this!" I said on an impulse. But it was too late.

Soon, I was at the front of this little, Methodist chapel in Fall City, Washington. Sean, in a blue sweater, stood by my side. Rob, in his finest (albeit goofiest looking) suit, pointed the camera. The minister asked me if I was okay and I told her I was fine. I was far from fine. I was a wreck. I hadn't seen this part of my family, now sitting in the pews as the only guests, in years. Rosa and I were miles away from having a stable relationship. And, to top it, of course, I was hung over.

But then, she walked into the chapel, my father walking her down the aisle. Her dress, hand-made, was beautiful. Her dark brown hair fell down past her shoulders, framing her face in curls. And what a face! It was a face I could spend years looking at and continue to crave. Hers was a beauty that made you want to cry. She was the most beautiful woman in the world and, even to this day, after everything that has happened, remains in the top three. I loved her more than any man had a right to love anybody.

And we were married.

The reception was held at the Snoqualmie Falls. Walking on the path overlooking the falls, I told Rosa about a dream that I'd had when I was just a boy. It was a dream about a girl and there was a waterfall in the background and I had known that she would be the girl that I would marry.

Vicky has said that the story I tell about our wedding had better be superior to this - I have no doubt it will be.

Ice pick enlightenment…

I'm thinking that this is the point where people worry, where they say, "I don't think you working on this book is such a great idea."

You see, writing this book takes a great deal of research. Since it has to do with my life, the research is in all the emails, letters, etc., that I've saved over the years.

Well, last night, I was reading the emails that led up to when I left for the Grand Canyon. Up until this point, I could read them fairly objectively. Then, I read one I write to Rosa, one particularly thoughtless, cruel one, and I could feel that ice pick in the chest feeling, where if it wasn't for that you'd collapse into a ball so you don't know which is worse.

I wasn't expecting something to hit me like that. It took several hours before I felt like myself again. (A strange way to look at it since I was myself back then, too…) But everything seemed so hopeless back then and I sounded so helpless. And is it any wonder that when people hear about Vicky, they say, "I'm so glad you're happy!"? Because the underlying message is, "God, you were so pathetic." And I was, I'm not denying that - I guess I just never realized that I was.

And I had always mentioned that nobody bothered talking to me about suicide until after I went to the Grand Canyon but, in fact, that's not true. Turns out that both Annie and Lori emailed me in the weeks leading to my trip out there, saying they were worried about me. I wrote back and lied to them, telling them everything was fine - and then went to the Grand Canyon anyway…

One thing about this whole experience, writing a book that no one is likely to read and will probably never get published, is that I'm seeing things a bit clearer. And isn't that why we write?

A whole world of Warcraft…

Recently, Vicky has noticed that all I seem to do is play World of Warcraft. She might be right, of course, but it would inevitably all be her fault.

See, when I bought the game I warned her.

"It might swallow my soul," I said.

"Fine," she replied, looking at something else.

"You may never see me again."


She should have listened.

The problem, of course, lies in how much time I have to finish - and how unlikely that's beginning to look. I signed up for half a year, 26 weeks. Thanks to a game mechanic that makes resting your character mandatory after each level, it takes me just under a week to move up one level. And the top level is 60. Do the math.

So, if I won't be able to finish it - and serious, how am I going to be able to ignore the army of other games coming out? - why do I keep playing it? Cause it's GOOD! It's GOOD! It's chocolate and marshallowy (cough) delicious GOOD!

And Vicky would see this if she played, too. No doubt about it. She would have a great time and would be able to spend time with me… via my Paladin or Druid or Priest…


Wouldn't it be great to say "No-siree-Bob" to someone actually named Bob?

(Hey, what can I tell you? The site was down for the past day and I had to test it!)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

My brain on life…

I don't have what you would call a close relationship with reality. My brain tends to do what it will no matter what the circumstances are. This started after my trip to the Grand Canyon; the whole thing kind of slipped my bonds with reality in a big way. There was one time, for instance, when I went into Weinershnitzel and talked to Teresa, though she wasn't there… not really.

I thought it had gone away, and it pretty much has. But yesterday, here at work, I took a drive through Washington with Rosa. It was a lot like the times I went to the Grand Canyon before I actually went to the Grand Canyon. You might even say it was like Billy Pilgrim becoming unstuck in time, because I know the trip happened nearly a decade ago.

You see, I never left my desk. But it felt very real. There I was, driving a Ford Taurus up through the mountains, and I looked over and Rosa was sitting beside me. In the next second, I was back at my desk, here at work.

So, you might say I have Fast-Track Authority to senility. Or, maybe, I get to enjoy things a bit more randomly than most people.

And so, I happened to be on the freeway this morning, heading into work. The freeway was wet; it had been raining. We weren't going that fast but the guy in front of me stopped abruptly and I tried to stop, too. But I didn't stop. I slid. I pushed down harder on the brake, and the wheels locked up.

There really wasn't anything I could do.

Suddenly, I was back at the gas station, where I'd stopped on the way. I had to wait for the car in front of me before I could pull up. And the woman pumping gas possessed the most incredible beauty and, yes, was a little plain. It was that "girl next door" kind of beauty, if Korea was next door (because she looked decidedly Korean). And then, I was standing over Vicky, waking her up before I left. She and I have been fighting recently and she wouldn't be too happy to hear I had another accident. Then, I was somewhere listening to the story of when I totaled that Saturn that I'd put on the "Ken 3.7" CD. In fact, I think that was blended in with looking at Vicky, almost as if someone had turned on the CD player for me, so all these things were blurring together.

And then, my car stopped. And I didn't hit the guy. There was enough room. The guy behind me nearly hit me! And I continued on my way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Eight Beatitudes...

I was coming home from work today and starting thinking about, of all people, Jesus. I thought about some of the things he said and began to doubt that folks today would like it much.

For instance, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus delivered his eight beatitudes. They don't really work too well today, though, and here's why:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. But the poor can't get a living wage or a social safety net - OH NO!

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Unless they're in the Middle East because the US will be back to kill more of their family real soon.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. But the Conservative Death Cult gets it now!

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Mind you, the meat is tainted with mad cow and the water is filled with mercury, but you get the point.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. So, this obviously doesn't apply to any of our fine boys at Abu Ghraib or any of the United State's many other torture facilities.

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. Now we know why nobody's seen him in so long...

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. There goes (burning) Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condi, DeLay... well, the list does go on and on, doesn't it?

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I guess all those Iraqi's are laughing now, aren't they?

To book or not to book...

It was once a verb and I... well... never mind.

With 1200 more words to the new book, I was going to post it here. But then I got to thinking about who reads this stuff and wondered if they were really as interested in reading about my past as I am in writing about it.

So, with that in mind, I thought I'd tell you about what I'm wearing.

You see, I had to dress fast this morning and I dressed in the dark. (Long story. I won't bore you with it.) (This time.) What ended up on me was a pair of blue pants, a purple shirt, and a black jacket.

If anyone knows which flag flies those colors, let me know. I might be able to get into an embassy party tonight!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Still think they're not looking to enslave you?...

This is quote from Tom DeLay appears in the current issue of The New Yorker:

I blame Congress over the last fifty to a hundred years for not standing up and taking its responsibility given to it by the Constitution. The reason the judiciary has been able to impose a separation of church and state that’s nowhere in the Constitution is that Congress didn’t stop them. The reason we had judicial review is because Congress didn’t stop them. The reason we had a right to privacy is because Congress didn’t stop them.

These evil men you helped elect, either directly or indirectly, are and always have been looking to do just one thing and that is to enslave the world in hate and war and fear. And they don't care if they hide it anymore, either.

Don't be fooled. Stop kidding yourselves.

The new books begins...

This morning, I laid down the first thousand words in the new book. I thought I'd share them with you now. This book is going to be incredibly person, as you'll probably notice, which means I'll only include some cuts for you to read here.

Here's the first:

The first time I wanted to kill myself was NOT in August of 1983, even though that would have seemed more meaningful. But we'll get to that. The first time I wanted to kill myself was around 1974.

I was in the third grade.

I don't remember what trauma had gone on at the time but I remember that I'd had enough. You see, I wasn't the most stable child and I hadn't been raised in the most stable environment. I was a nerdy kid stuck in a world that didn't seem to care, raised by a pretty unstable, single parent, tormented by equally unstable siblings.

My father had left four years before, when I was five years old. I remember the day he pulled his old Ford out of the driveway of our home for the last time. My mother had woken us all up like a fire alarm and we didn't dress before heading outside. This was in a by-gone day when all children wore pajamas - or so it seemed to my five-year-old mind. My mother screamed like someone having their guts ripped out without the benefit of anesthetic as my dad tried to get into his car. I didn't look at the others, my brother Keith or my sister Audrey, because my eyes were riveted on what was going on before me. I knew I couldn't miss a moment of it. Even as my dad slammed the car door and started the engine, my mom continued to scream. And then he began to back away. She tried to hold on to the car door but something inside of her couldn't do it and she let go. And he drove away.

I don't know how we ever got back in again.

But we did. And my mom took good care of us, though I can't imagine how. We had nothing to begin with, except the house. My dad let her keep the house. Even that was a struggle; I remember hearing her screaming about how hard it was for her to keep the house. Whenever we would ask for some luxury or even those necessities that weren't yet a priority, she would scream.

Actually, my mother would scream a lot. She'd scream about how hard her life was and how lonely she was and how awful we kids were and how much of a burden we were and how terribly we treated her and how rotten we were and… well, it just got worse.

But she was the only mom I had and, as much as I hated the screaming, I never hated her.
To be honest, I couldn't. My mother had drilled such a deep sense of guilt so far inside of me, an issue I still live with today, by telling me over and over how much she sacrificed and how I should get down on my knees and thank her and what a louse I was… I just felt sorry. And I felt that way most of the time.

My mom's life was hard and she passed it down to me, to all of us. She couldn't help it. It was practically genetic.

Meanwhile, in the first few years at least, my dad would occasionally pop up from out of the blue. He would show up, looking like he was doing pretty well for himself, and take us three kids (but never my mother) out for a good time. This usually meant a Disney film - there were so many in the early 70's - though he'd always complain about the film as if he hated Disney. Now, the truth was that my dad didn't hate Disney. He loved Disney. And he wasn't doing pretty well for himself. He was struggling, too. (Though, for the record, he never struggled as much as my mom.) But, while my mom was always blatantly honest with me, sometimes painfully so, my dad was never much of a communicator. He didn't necessarily lie but he did leave a whole lot out of the conversation.

What this created, though, was distance. And the distance created, in me, a desire to bond. I never did bond with my father but I worked incredibly hard to that end. My father had once wanted to be an actor so I worked on being an actor. My dad played the keyboards… so I became a writer, though that's not quite the same thing. Like all children who come from a broken home, I had a need to feel accepted, a deep, empty hole in my gut where most people have love.

So, from my father, I learned a sense of urgency. From my mother, I learned guilt. Together, these were an impossible combination.

I could never interact with others on a normal level. Because I was funny, I quickly became the class clown. But there was also a temperamental side to me, which caused no end of trouble. In addition to all of this, I was a small child, thin, because we never had a lot of food in the house, and awkward, thanks to misdiagnosed double-vision not dealt with until I was in my late teens.

And so it was that, on that day in the third grade, I was in the playground. I'd done something stupid, owing, if I remember correctly, to a lack of proficiency in sports most people take for granted in boys. The kids were laughing at me and I remember that I'd had it. In my young mind, I was done with this shitty life. So, I ran out into the middle of Raitt Street, which John Adams Elementary faced, and awaited my fate.

Now, wait. Let's stop a moment and think about this. What's the worst that could have happened? Death? Hardly! Broken legs - tops! What good would that have done me or my mother, and how would that have stopped anyone from laughing at me? It wouldn't have.

So, I guess I'm lucky a teacher walked out into the street and asked me what I was doing.

I remember looking around… and there was no traffic.

Monday, April 25, 2005

New Pope completely DOPE!...

The headline reads Pope Benedict Vows New Battle For Souls...

This is one Pope who ain't gonna take no shit, yo! He's gonna go all Inquisition on yo ass! He's convertin' and takin' names!

(What can I say? It was either that or "First souls, then he annexes Poland"...)

Now them's some food additives!...

First, it was the woman finding a finger in her chili...

Now, a man has found skin in his sandwich! (Mind you, it was a chicken sandwich so it could have been chicken skin...)

Let's not pussy-foot around, people! I'm waiting for the guy or girl who finds an entire human head in their salad!!!

... and, no, a head of lettuce does not count.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

More Randomness…

What can I tell you? Sometimes a guy just wants to get stuff off his chest…

1) Last night, while at the gym, I noticed Fox News devoting nearly 45 minutes to that weirdo lady who claimed to find a finger in her chili. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, of course. What with wars of aggression, an economy that has been plundered, and a populace that is so far in denial it thinks Condi is black, what else are they going to report?

2) Ever notice that televangelists praying looks a lot like someone caught in the throes of a bowel movement?

3) So, I saw this televangelist on TV this morning (at the gym, of course)(it’s where I watch all my telee), and I suddenly felt so embarrassed for anyone “of faith”, at the media is so fond of calling it these days. Not only to believe that there’s a higher power, but to believe that there SHOULD BE? Not only to believe that you are some importance – that this higher power has any interest in you – but to believe you SHOULD BE? It’s not just the height of arrogance but the deepest delusion. How sad.

4) It seems so appropriate that the new pope was once a member of the Christian – oops, typo there – I meant Nazi – Youth. And his retort is so transparent, it’s funny. “Uh, they made me do it. That’s it!” Yeah, that’s the ticket.

5) Cheney admonished the Congress to stop doing it’s job and to fall into step with (burning) Bush. Considering all the times he’s told people to fuck off on national TV, can’t one of them return the favor?

6) This morning on Fox News – what can I say, I’m at the gym and it’s on – they were talking about how the COST OF FREEDOM is the abolition of the “Death Tax”, which is actually the Estate Tax. For anyone buying into their bullshit, please note that this will only have an affect on you if you make more than $1.5 million… do you? And what the fuck do you care, anyway? You’re fucking dead!

7) More Christian weirdness. I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t worry. God is in Control”… and I thought about trying that at work. Next time something goes wrong. “Don’t worry. God is in control.” Why do you allow such nonsense when our employers surely would not?

8) The US Forest Service is going to start selling off our national forests… because we can’t afford them. The phrase you’re looking for is “cognitive dissonance” – it just doesn’t make any fucking sense!

9) How is it that, with video of the ice caps melting, people still insist there’s no global warming and feel just peachy about driving their SUVs?

- but, whoops, that one hits a little too close to home, so I should stop now…

Friday, April 22, 2005

Cindy nearly kills me…

As with most stories, this one's tough because I don't know where to start.

I'll start with last night. I'd just had what my dentist calls a "Deep Cleaning" but what she really should refer to as "Vengeance!" My mouth was hurting quite a bit and Vicky was doing what she loves to do. She was cleaning. "You can have this cherry yogurt if you want," she said.

And, so, I did.

I took it today for lunch and it sat in my cooler… being cool.

The cooler was given to me by Cindy, who you've all read about. I'm sure I mentioned her somewhere along the way. But I guess I never mentioned the cooler. Cindy had given it to me when I first got my apartment. To keep my lunch in, she'd told me, and so I did. It's actually one of the last things I have left from those days - and I'm glad to have it. It's something consistent, from a time that, though I don't particularly care about leaving it behind, can't leave me ahead fast enough!

Of course, I started snacking on my "lunch" well before lunch. After all, I was going to Best Buy at lunch to buy a new MP3 player. I wanted a new MP3 player to listen to my Audible books on. My current MP3 player didn't do that. Vicky and I went out to Best Buy last night and, of course, I bought another one that didn't do that. But I found another on line and, at lunch, I'd return the one from last night and buy the RIGHT one.

And so, there I was snacking on cherry yogurt. Actually, this Yoplait Light is more cherries than yogurt. It's a veritable bowl full of cherries and I love it!

Then, I saw I had an email from Cindy.

From Cindy?! I choked on my yogurt, practically choking to death on a non-solid… which would have been embarrassing.

Cindy's email said, "Drop dead in the deepest pits of hell, you son of a bitch! I hope your dick falls off and your brains get eaten by worms and your eyes bleed all before lunch! All before you buy your fucking MP3 player! All before you…"

Oh wait. I read it again. It said nothing like that.

I really should be wearing my glasses.

It was actually very nice, telling me I shouldn't be so hard on myself.

Cindy, you see, is a My Side reader, which just reinforces my belief (if mistaken) that My Side is THE MOST READ BLOG ON THE WEB READ BY THE FEWEST PEOPLE… or something…

So, there you go. You never know who's reading this thing. (And not writing comments. What the hell's wrong with you people, anyway?!) Teresa Alaniz could be reading it! Sean Mullin could be reading it! Rosa could be… but let's not think about that.

And, so, Cindy and I are talking once again. Vicky told me she doesn't consider Cindy a threat… but then she doesn't consider Selma Hayek a threat either, silly girl.

Oddly enough, she considers Tim Clostio a threat… which is probably why she hates him so...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sometimes too human…

The new book's going to require copious research and, so, research has begun. What research? I've saved most of the emails I've sent and received over the past four years, plus the My Sides, plus all the letters I've written, plus various and sundry… I've only recently started and have already accumulated nearly 200,000 words… We're talking a mountain of research.

Enough to fill a Grand Canyon.

And I've been spending nearly every waking minute thinking about it. There's this chasm that separates me from the man I was, this divide between where I was and where I wanted to be, this division between me and everyone else during those years, this isolation… and all of these things bring me back to the Grand Canyon. A Grand Canyon that separated my fractured selves. A Grand Canyon that kept me from my dreams. A Grand Canyon the divided me from my loved ones… kept me isolated and alone…

And so, we have a working title: A Grand Canyon. One Man's Journey Through Depression.

But, of course, it's so much more than that.

As I pour through pages upon pages, I find out that I'm not only more human that I'd like to be but I'm more of a louse than I ever thought I was. For instance:
  • I said the worst things about Rosa in the instant messages Cindy and I sent back and forth in the first days of our relationship.
  • Then, I lied to Cindy and used her.
  • A year later, while I carried on with Sherryl, I was pursuing DeAnna.
  • For the first couple years after we split, I did little else but insult Rosa - often in public.

As I read more and more, this image of myself as selfish, petty, small, and rotten becomes clearer and clearer and all the while I made myself out to be worthwhile, profound, intelligent but I was just a turd. And, again, I've only started.

If you want to get a good picture of yourself, save everything you write and everything people write to you for several years and then, go back, and see if you turn your own stomach. I have.
And, as I face this, I'm forced to contemplate another dilemma. How do I paint these women who were part of my life during these years? At what point does the subject matter become prurient? Or too personal? It's a difficult road. And a play filled with dick and fart jokes would be so much easier...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Welcome to my world…

Vicky got a taste of what it's like to be in Ken's world last night.

We went to Crate & Barrel to register. There will be more places but C&B was going to be the first. They gave us a scanner to take around the store and scan the items we wanted. So, we walked around, picking out plates and glasses and whatnot. It was fun. Actually, I probably had more fun than Vicky; I think my peppiness (Peppiness? Abundance of pep?) gets on her nerves.

After a couple of hours, we were done. We had scanned 42 items.

We went to the Registration Station (the station for registration). The first thing we had to do was pull up our account on their computer. Vicky had already set one up so she inserted the scanner, as we'd been instructed to do, and put in our information… and it didn't come up. She tried again… and it didn't come up.

An employee came over to help us.


So, Vicky decided to just set up a new account.

The employee had another idea and asked her to go back to the first screen.

And she tried again.


And it was at this point that we noticed that the scanner now showed ZERO items scanned. ZERO.

All of our data had been erased!

Vicky was quite frustrated, as you might imagine.

I told her not to worry. We'd do it again at the larger C&B at South Coast Plaza this Saturday. We'd have fun. It would be nice.

But still… 42 items… two hours of work... gone!

But I'm used to things like that happening. She's not. But I love her. It's a minor inconvenience. Life is filled with them and, in my world at least, we had fun doing it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Stepping forward…

I think it started in 1995. I'd just finished my third novel, Revelations, and was going to start the next one. On the screen, the cursor set at the top of the page and I typed, "A Hex Upon Rynia. The First Rynia Novel." The first. In the end, there were four. I remember thinking how arrogant I sounded, so sure that I'd even finish the first one.

Then, in 2001, I remember telling the once-cast of 40 Carats, sitting outside of Sherryl's place at the cast party, that I would go on to write my first play. Rosa asked me why I'd made it so public, considering I'd never written one before, and I remember saying, "Now, I have no way of backing out."

And so, a behavior pattern was established… whenever I'm not sure if I can do something, I tell the world I'm going to do it, which shames me into doing it.

Last week, I finished Vampire Society and immediately began looking around for my next project.

I'd started a book about a guy who goes to the Grand Canyon to kill himself. Then, I thought, a better story would be about a guy who's father wants him to drive him out to the - but, wait, I thought. These books aren't about "guys"… they're about you. And it became very clear to me that I was trying to write a book about me, about my own life.

I wish I could explain what goes through a writer's head. It's quite true, you should know, that a writer doesn't quite know what's going on. He doesn't know exactly what he's doing but he knows exactly what he should not do. This is clear.

Right now, I don't know what's going on as far as this compulsion to write about the Grand Canyon… but it's there. And I've tried to avoid it, but I can't.

I had Tim Clostio over this weekend and we hashed the whole thing out. I listed all the things I could do and then told him what I kept veering towards. There are a lot of things I could do but, like it or not, I think I know what's going to be done.

I don't know what I'm doing… but I'm certain that what I should not do is fight my body's natural inclination or lie to myself about it.

Why write a book about my trip to the Grand Canyon? I'm not a non-fiction writer! But, then again, I am. I have been for years. And I have hundreds of thousands of words about that journey alone, in emails and My Sides. What is that journey? Is it the story of a failed marriage, of me losing my wife? No. Because the first question I think, when I put that question into the context of a story is, "What happens next?" This is what happened next. This is the story about a man who thought he'd lost everything and pretty much did, and who tried to hold everything together until he found himself in a car, heading out the to Grand Canyon so he could jump over the side. And that is only the first half. The second half is about a man who's trying to recover from his mental breakdown and win back the woman he lost, until he realizes that he really has lost her and has to find his way alone. The story ends with Vicky - not my life, just that story.

So, why write it? Because only I can. I survived the depths of depression and living with my back to sanity and I can tell the story. I can tell people that it is possible to survive, that you don't have to jump - you don't even have to get near the edge. How? I don't know how. I don't know how I survived. But I did. And before I marry Vicky, I think it's time to tell the story. Why NOT write it.

So, there you go. I'm announcing my first autobiographical book…. Now, I have no way of backing out.

Surprising Vicky…

As most of you probably know, I don't write about everything on this Blog. Some things remain just between me and, well, me…. At least until later, when I finally write about it. (This is important, as you'll see in the next My Side.)

This comes in handy because Vicky sometimes reads this site and would have found out far too soon if I'd written about the surprise party I was planning for her. Yep. We threw it this weekend at Trish and Clay's place. Trish and Clay are friends of Vicky's. Actually Trish, along with Paula and Billy, will be Vicky's chicks-of-honor at the wedding, and it was with these three that I planned the fun.

It had started over a month ago. I knew I couldn't plan it alone - face it, party planning is best left to women cause men suck at it… except when it's for a guy's party… But this was for a woman's party, so…

Originally, I was going to throw it at our new home but quickly saw that it would be too small and there'd be kids there and I didn't want kids there - it's hard enough to walk with cats under your feet! But Trish was kind enough to offer her place. Paula offered to make the cake and she makes wonderful gourmet cakes. And Billy offered to supply food. Sounded good to me!

But then, we had to figure out how to get Vicky to the party. How? We went through several plans. Then, Trish invited Vicky to a "girl's night out". Vicky picked the restaurant but it was in the wrong direction for Vicky to have to drive out to Trish's. Then, Trish changed the restaurant. Then, Vicky's grandmother went into the hospital and - let's face it, there were several times when this party looked like it was SUNK!

But Vicky showed up Saturday afternoon, nearly on schedule (the whole party was nearly on schedule - which is good enough!) and she was very surprised. The theme was Purple Princess, since Vicky loves purple and her nickname is Princess. (No need to send your condolences… I'm fully aware!) So, we had lots of purple things and princess things - for instance, the cake was a plush purple pillow with a tiara on it. We all had purple martinis. We ate on purple plates under purple balloons.

She had a great time and I was the best boyfriend in the world… which is good, because I won't be her boyfriend next year… and I certainly won't be planning any surprise parties… so, Vicky, don't expect one!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The world just gets weirder…

A few things I haven't had a chance to comment on that are just plain wrong:

1) John Bolton. "The United Nations doesn't exist." Mr. "Let's Tear Up the Treaties" at the State Department is going to be our ambassador to the UN???

2) Apparently, there are so many guys that want to do Britney, her being pregnant has to make the front page of every paper in the land.

3) Intolerance and ignorance is not just becoming more politically incorrect but, rather, some folks in Congress are raising issues when people try to push tolerance and education.

4) The emergency military spending bill that just passed at over 80 BILLION contained a baseball stadium for DC… which is important militarily because…

5) Starting today, cigarette lighters will be banned from all flights in the nation… but you can still pack your GUN!

6) The worst terrorist in the nation right now is white. His name is Eric. So don't feed me bullshit about threats from Iraqis or Iranians!

7) John Negroponte is a war criminal who ordered the murder, rape, and disappearance of many people in central America during the Reagan years and now he's being fed to us as the next "Intelligence Czar".

Okay, so that's more than a few. I was feeling generous.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dear Vicky…

Yes, you heard correctly. Today is my Vicky's birthday. Vicky turns 27 today but, for all her 24 years, she still looks 18.

We plan to enjoy a quiet evening together with dinner, a movie, and some champagne.

… in bed.

Yep. Strange as that may seem, that's the plan… which you probably don't find very strange because it has to do with me, right? Well, it's Vicky's doing, not mine. You see, back on Valentine's day, Vicky gave me these Romance Lotto Tickets. Sadly, they weren't the pornographic kind… dammit. So, I scratched off a ticket and got a movie date. Yippie! Took her about two months to honor that one. Next, I scratched one and got a movie with champagne in bed… ooookay….

So, we're mixing both together and coming up with tonight. Weird? Sure. But I figure she should start getting used to that pretty soon.

Now, before you start sending tons of presents, remember that Vicky likes money - truckloads of money - in large bills. Just send them to me and I'll see to it that they find her…

… for the most part…


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Monster Errors…

Sometimes I think the worst thing about this online life we lead is the propensity for hidden mistakes.

For instance:

I've been loving life at Lintgear - I've been loving it so much I've been dying to get out. So, my resume went up onto Monster years ago in the search for a new job. Mind you, with little luck… actually, none!

I've gone into it every time I've moved to change my address and contact info.

Then, today, I got an email regarding a job I'd applied for through Monster, requesting a hard copy email. No problem, I thought, but I couldn't help wonder what my email looked like over Monster. It looked like a mess, of course.

I scrolled down, making sure everything was right and then got to the "References" section.
And the first name in the "References" section…… was Rosa. THERE'S SOMETHING I'VE FORGOTTEN TO UPDATE!

You can probably imagine now why I haven't been able to find a new job...

Monday, April 11, 2005

Vampire Society… Finished!

Well, I finished the first draft and that is, for all intents and purposes, finished!

This happened Saturday but the damned Blog site was down so… welcome to Monday.

I'd forgotten what this feels like, this odd sensation of closing the book, quite literally. You spend so much time with these characters - five years in this case - and, suddenly, they no longer belong to you. They've served their purpose and now are to be read, not written about.

You feel as thought you lost them.

My actor friends might imagine how it feels when a show closes and the leave their character behind and then add years to the time you spent with them and add the fact that you created them yourself, lines and everything.

I'd forgotten how hard that is and I'd forgotten what inevitably follows. I refer to it as "post-partum depression" because you feel as though you gave birth… but you also feel like the baby left home the same day… I sat out on my patio Saturday night, drank a few screwdrivers, smoked a few cloves, and imagined I was sitting in the living room of Abigail Ayrnes with Abby and Nathan West and Arthur Silvada - the stars of our show.

"I never got a chance to redeem you," I said to Arthur.

"I was never meant to be redeemed," he said.

"And you," I tossed at Nathan.

"I know," he said. "I was your voice. I was the narrator. Now that the book is done, I'm surprised to find I can speak."

"Speak? You can sing if you want to." I'd given him that ability, even if he'd never used it in the book.

Abby walked over and knelt in front of me. "What about me?" she asked. "How are you going to leave me behind?"

Vampire Society is mostly about Abby. "I don't know," I answered, taking her hands. "I've known you longer than I've known Vicky. I guess, in a way, it's not cheating to be in love with you but, let's face it, you're a Rosa character."

"I am not," she huffed, standing.

I followed, still holding onto her hands. "Think about it. Short mexican girl, curly red hair."

"Rosa's hair wasn't red."

"It was when she died it. Oh, never as red as yours but she would have liked it that way. Holding on to you would be as wrong as holding on to her. I've been able to let her live her life, it's time I let you live yours."

"Sure," she sighed.

"You've got a good start. You should be fine."

And she tilted her head up to kiss me.

And Vicky shook me awake. I'd forgotten that I'd moved inside to lie on the sofa.

The book's not finished yet, I know that. In two weeks, I'll have a copy printed up - thanks, Vicky! - and I'll make my corrections and take a few things out and add a few things and, with any luck, I'll have a final draft. (After spending five years writing it, do you really expect me to go through multiple rewrites???) When all that is done, I'll be ready to start submitting it to agencies… and getting rejected…

Is it any wonder I like theater so much? You get your rejection out of the way at the beginning!

What's to come? I'm not sure. I don't think I want to work on a play; I've rediscovered writing novels and love it! A book, then. And, here too, I waffle. Should I pick up an old work that I haven't finished? Maybe, but there's this idea coming in through my peripheral vision… an old story…. a mix of several… a lonely writer… a failed marriage… the Grand Canyon… a monster storm… and the sunshine at the end…

… We'll see.

Friday, April 08, 2005

I Killed Jon Benet Ramsey...

Well, I can't say I've reach 89,000 yet, but I'm close. And, as promised, I have that poem:

I killed Jon Benet Ramsey
Just as surely as if I was there
I killed her with every tabloid I read at the supermarket
I killed her with every television show I watched
That told me all the salacious details of her young body
I killed her with every joke I listened to or told
I killed her by not providing protection for any child
Or a good world for them to live in
I killed her by allowing killing
With every selfish thought and unkind deed, I killed her
I killed Jon Benet Ramsey

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Home Stretch…

Why do they call it that? Does one stretch differently when they're at home? What's that have to do with coming to the end of something? Do you stretch your end at home?

It's all so confusing.

So, anyway, I hit 88,000 words in Vampire Society today. This was a book I wasn't too sure would hit 80K and here we are at the cusp of 90K! I'm very close to the end. This morning, I actually outlined the last few scenes, which is actually one long scene and all I outlined were points to hit. I have so much to fit in because, perhaps surprisingly, so many threads are coming together at this late date. Even after I thought I'd wrapped things up, it turns out that this book has been one long string of dominos.

I'm actually going to finish it. I'm shocked.

Tonight, I'm going to write a poem I've wanted to write for nearly 10 years. Actually, I should say that I'm going to "try" to write it. You never know. The poem is called "I Killed Jon Benet Ramsey" and is about how each of us is responsible for the other, like it or not. I first got the idea back when the poor girl was killed. Then, as this book has progressed, I realized it was the perfect poem for Abby (one of Vampire Society's protagonists) to write. And so, I will. And so, she will.

I'll probably post it tomorrow.

I really wasn't anticipating finishing this book until the summer but I guess it just had to come out. It's like giving birth… without all the blood… and the machine that goes "PING"!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Now and Then...

This is the only NOW you'll ever have... no.... this one...


This one....

When we stacked all of our junk up against the garage door - keeping in mind that our garage was converted to a spare room - we never expected water to seep in during the wetting winter on record. But it did. And I was just lucky enough to have put the box that has everything I have left of my life with Rosa on the ground against that door.

Yep. You got it.

Wet box.

Vicky gave me a big Rubbermaid container to transfer everything into.

... I did that today.

One of the first things I saw was that, with our old wedding album, there were two packs of extra inserts. Just like Rosa to buy extra she'd never use and leave me to clean it up. I tossed them, thinking that would be the last time I'd ever clean up after her... two years after I last saw her.

Then, the wedding album on top, I just opened it up for shits and giggles.

... and there we were.

God. We were so young. She was so beautiful. I was actually not too bad looking, believe it or not.

In all the pictures, we smiled.

And I felt that pain in your gut like someone trying to force a '57 Chevy into your liver and my breath caught and I put the book away. I packed up the rest of the box. And I put it at the bottom of a stack of other boxes.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Pain both existential and physical…

First, the physical.

Thanks to our hike last weekend (told in OCMetroblog), Vicky found she really liked hiking. So, I let her pick us a hike to do this weekend. Saturday morning, we went out to Crystal Cove State Park.

We got there a little later than I liked, around 9am - I hate hiking in the heat, and were shocked to find that one of our water bottles had spilled out into the backpack. It was already warm and half of our water was gone, which alone should have been enough to tell us to leave the hike for another day…. after our deaths! But, no, we went.

Now, I've been on some tough hikes and I've been on some long hikes but should have known that any hike featuring it's own Hell Mouth was one we shouldn't have tried. The trail was incredibly poorly designed; we up straight up one ridge and straight down the other side, then straight up one and straight down another. Up and down. Up and down. No shade had been devised, nor was there any place to sit. Thankfully, though, we made it to a picnic area and got to rest. Now, this park is shaped roughly like a triangle, and we'd finished one side. With two to go, we continued. The trails followed service roads and washes, connected only by narrow tracks cut in the middle of very tall mustard plants. And it was hot. It was the hottest day we'd had in a while… and we were walking right in the middle of it with only half of our water straight up the side of one ridge and straight down the other.

Talk of getting a Jamba Juice or having an ice, cold beer kept us going. I gotta tell you, Vicky was a real trooper. Not once did she say she couldn't go any further. She knew what we'd gotten ourselves into - we couldn't stop! We had to get back to the car! And with no shade and no place to sit, once you started there was no stopping.

When we finally made it back to the car and returned to the visitor center - Refill our water bottle, please! We're VERY thirsty! - we found out that the hike, which was supposed to have been 3 miles long, was probably closer to 7 miles straight up and straight down!

Vicky, welcome to hiking.

Doing this Saturday meant that we spent the rest of the weekend in agony. (I, for one, forgot to put sunblock on the back of my neck. It's still red.)


Then, I awoke at 5:30 am this morning, which thanks to the time change was actually 4:30… dammit… from a dream that left me feeling, well, pretty bad.

It went something like this…

I was flying back from the east coast after a business trip and met this woman on the plane who… even in the dream world, I couldn't forget her. She was engaged to be married and we talked about wedding planning and our future spouses - spices? - but there was much more going on there. I was captivated. I got in the car with my co-workers back at LAX and told them about her. I'd learned her name (since forgotten) but never got her number or anything about her.

"There should be number like 1-800-WEDDING," I said at one point. "That way I could call and give her name and ask about her. She'd be listed in their database because she's been setting up her wedding, too." It was one of those stupid ideas that only makes sense in the dream… but even my co-workers thought it was a little nutty.

But then, she called me, being more resourceful or something. She was going to be coming down my way and wanted to get together on the pretense of further comparing wedding notes.

We met back at my place, which looked nothing like the home Vicky and I share. Vicky was gone so I quickly tried to set it up as more a love nest than a place where you plan weddings. Vicky had these bootleg CDs (don't ask me why) but every time I opened a case a N64 game cartridge was inside. The girl was already over and wanted to know what I was doing. I told her. And we agreed we were both very attracted to each other but didn't want to louse up our weddings and, after all, we'd probably never see each other again. So, we were both good… we behaved… until she left. Then, the fact that we'd probably never see each other again made it that much more important that we kiss goodbye.

… which was when I woke up.

And I laid there in the dark, next to Vicky, wondering what I'd just done. I hadn't done anything. It was a dream. But even in my dream I was less than honorable. I was deceptive. And a familiar fear kept me from getting out of bed, the conviction that I didn't want to cheat on Vicky - I didn't want another relationship to crash and burn because of my stupidity. And, yet, I couldn't even control myself in a dream…

The difference between paranoia and perceptiveness lies in the beholder, I guess...

Friday, April 01, 2005

Praying for Death and Dying from Prayer…

(And, before you ask, this is not an April Fool's joke...)

Just a few things…

Schiavo. A single word that encompasses so much stupidity. We all know the story: Coma, feeding tube, death. Tom Delay and the Republicans (sounds like a band!) made so much noise about this and ignored the real problems with the nation, bringing the media right along with them. Why? Well, Delay had problems and had to find a distraction. Michael Jackson wasn't good enough. So, they picked a dying woman on a feeding tube and said it was unnatural for her to die. Unnatural. Death is unnatural but keeping a vegetable alive on a feeding tube is.

Hello, NewSpeak!

Let's face it, folks. I don't see the outrage that all dying people should be given feeding tubes to allow them to live - all the people in Iraq, for instance. It's a non-issue. And, yet, the Repugnicans use this distraction to spread such disinformation as "Hospices are Evil" (did you hear that one?), while keeping such news from you as the commission that found ONCE AGAIN that there were never any WMDs or the study that found more proof of humanity's inhumanity towards the planet or the dwindling oil supplies or any of a hundred other things. Look at it this way - in one year the name Shiavo will be forgotten and we'll still be living on a doomed planet. (Doomed for all life, at least…)

The Pope. He's been dying for a long time now. We'd better get him a feeding tube! The vitality of the Catholic church is proven by this dying man at its head. It's an embarrassment and a sham!

The Praying Doctors. Last night, at the gym, I saw a story on the news that made me want to vomit. (And, if you've never seen someone doing that while running, it's not pretty.) There's a pair of conjoined twins being operated on in LA. Last night, the doctors came outside of the hospital with the family and prayed on television.

You know, when I was a kid, there was a joke about praying doctors. The point was they couldn't be that good. But we live in a society where we have so little faith in science and so much in our moronic superstitions that we take comfort in doctors who pray. Public displays of faith have become so grotesque of late, God's taking Tums. There's nothing wrong with having a spiritual life but when it comes before common sense, you have a problem.

And, folks, our society is full of them.

Full of it as well.

We obviously aren't a society interested in what's important. Our values have become so twisted that more people are interested in who wins a talent show on television than in who is running the nation into the ground. This week, (burning) Bush appointed a former chief lobbyist for the Safari Club, a club that kills captive wildlife for trophies as the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And nobody even blinked.

If anyone with any power ever decided to stand up for common-sense, rational thinking, it seems painfully obvious that the majority of Americans would be angrily, militarily opposed!

We should all be very ashamed.