To My Nephew

Everett, welcome to the world.

I know it’s been a crazy couple of days having left your mom’s tummy and having been catapulted into a place where you have absolutely no frame of reference for anything at all.

I can only imagine how stressful it must be to see the light of day, to feel the air on your face and to be overcome by the feverish pace of these large weird looking creatures that kind of look like you but kind of don’t.

I know it must be strange to be so bombarded by all these weird sensations, by all these feelings of wanting to just go back into the warm dark place you were so rudely thrust out of in the middle of the night.

I know that it must be strange to just want that so badly but here’s some disheartening news, you can’t go back buddy.

This world of sights, sounds, sensations and light is your new home.

Don’t worry though, you’ll get used to it and if you ever have a hard time just yell for mom or dad and they’ll help you out.

I want you to know that your mom and dad are some of the coolest people I know. They are funny, down-to-earth and incredibly empathetic and they will do whatever they can to help you get used to this world.

It’s really not so bad once you get the hang of it.

This world is a big place, it’s a huge place and there are so many places to go, so many things to see and so much to experience that it’s basically impossible to see it all. A lot of people never even get the chance.

It’s gonna be a bit weird the next twenty years while you figure everything out and try to get a handle on what it all means, chances are you’ll get into a good groove with it all though and learn to be awesome, just like your mom and your dad.

Don’t be afraid to try new things, don’t be afraid to meet new people and do your best to avoid the sketchier parts of this big world.

There’s really nothing productive happening in those corners anyway.

By the time you’ve gotten into a good groove you may think at some point that there’s nothing you can’t handle, that you have it all figured out and that nothing can hurt you. Believe me, it’s an easy trap to fall into, but you can’t let yourself think those things.

Don’t ever let yourself get too comfortable and too confident because chances are that when you do, some big thing is gonna come along and knock you down and show you that, no, you really don’t have things figured out just yet.

Life is long though and you have plenty of time to explore and experience and get a better hold on things.

That’s not to say you should shield yourself from getting knocked down though, you can try to avoid it, but you also need to accept that it might happen.

It’s true that some of life’s biggest lessons come with getting hurt and despite those sparingly occurring instances, life and this world are still pretty cool places to be.

You’ll feel love, you’ll feel hate, you’ll feel anger, and you’ll feel frustration but you will also feel happy and you will feel joy.

You will learn at least some new thing every day and you will carve yourself a place in this world that’s meant just for you.

It’s a huge crazy place but if you work at it, you will find a place that fits.

By the way, my name is Mike and I’m your uncle. I want you to know that I wish you every good thing that’s ever been possible and I want you to try your hardest to be awesome. I know that you will.

Good luck and Godspeed Everett.

Love,

Your crazy uncle Mike 

The Girl in Blue

I’m sitting here with my brother in this nondescript coffee shop on the edge of town and minding my own business.

As I look up and look over to the table outside to see if that douchebag with the ear-buds is still sitting in the spot I like to sit in to smoke when I’m here at this nondescript coffee shop on the edge of town a girl walks in.

She sees me looking in the direction of the door and I look at her and maybe my glance was too long and she knew it. But now were here and there’s this thing that may or may not exist between me and this girl I’ve never met.

She sits at a table across from me but still on the other side of the room as if to say, I know you looked at me and I’m waiting for you to come talk to me but I think, I could be imagining this entire thing.

Really, there’s nothing that special about her. Her cheeks are red from the cold bite of the wind outside and she knows that she doesn’t need my attention.

She’s dressed in a simple blue shirt and black trousers and the shirt is old. I can tell it’s been worn more than any simple blue shirt. It has buttons down the front and it curves her body in way that suggests the mystery beneath but doesn’t say anything overt.

It’s just a blue shirt and I’m fascinated by this girl I would’ve never even noticed had I not been looking in her direction when she walked in the door.

She smiles and it seems like she’s laughing at something. I don’t know if she’s laughing at the fact that I keep looking up, glancing in her direction, and maybe the fact that this whole series of events is ridiculous, this whole scheme of a dance to initiate something is just so ridiculous but also so necessary.

Maybe she’s laughing at something else. I don’t know. Maybe she’s laughing at me.

I’m thinking I should walk over to her and say something, maybe try to make her laugh but then I think the things guys think, would that be cheesy? Would that be too desperate? Would that be inappropriate in this situation? What am I gonna say anyway? Probably something stupid. Probably I’ll open my mouth and say hi and she’ll look in my face and laugh and I’ll retreat with my tail between my legs. She probably doesn’t like the way I look anyway, she probably doesn’t go for bigger guys.

I go outside for a cigarette and to quiet my mind a bit.

The douchebag is still sitting in the spot I like to sit in and he’s not doing anything, he’s not drinking coffee, he’s not smoking, he’s just sitting there checking his fucking phone and I want to tell him to get out of here and let me sit where I want to sit. I don’t say anything though. Instead I go over to the bench down the sidewalk a bit and sit and smoke.

While I’m there I’m just thinking about this girl in the coffee shop. Why am I so drawn to this nondescript girl in this nondescript coffee shop at the edge of town. I sit and smoke and psych myself up because I’ve made up my mind that when I go back into the coffee shop I’m going to say hi to this girl.

Just hi, if nothing else.

I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. I think about what I’ll say and then tell myself that it doesn’t matter what I say. Just say hi.

As I finish the cigarette I stand up, I stand tall and I walk back into the shop and I look at her and I think she may have looked at me but I’m not sure and I lose my nerve.

I walk over to my table with my brother and I’m keenly aware of how my mouth is hanging open and how I have my naturally pouty face and I think, she probably thinks I’m such a tool.

And then I sit down and I start writing this fucking diatribe. I edit as I go, tweaking the words and adding the commas I need to add and every now and again I look up at this girl.

I think maybe I could walk to the bathroom and pretend to go to the bathroom and then I’ll at least be near her table and then maybe, just maybe I’ll open my fucking mouth and say hi. Just hi.

Finally, I do it. I cook up some insane situation and tell my brother I want to go sit in the comfy chairs over by where this girl is sitting and as I’m walking over I say, in a smug fucking tone, holy shit, I say “What are you working on so hard?” and she looks at me and she says simply… “I’d rather not share”.

The Woods

The autumn colors are burning your eyes with a cool breezy flame and there’s a quiet in the air on this day of days.

I stand before the vast, the immense and I wonder, what is it out there that calls my soul? What is that has me leaving the comfort of home for the openness of it all?

I’m halfway there, I’m halfway to that place where my mind can rest and sink in the depths of a silence so overwhelming that it’s scary. It takes you to a place you don’t know when you’re in the midst of the activity of the rest of the world.

Out here though, with the wind on your face and your body holding that light sweat from the layers of warmth that envelope you, the coats and the shirts you’ve piled on in order to maintain a comfort that shouldn’t be possible out here in the woods.

It’s quiet. You’re alone and you can think. You can think about the things that you’ve done and about the things you need to do. You can think about that girl you kissed a few months ago who has all but disappeared no matter your desires to have her stick around. Maybe she wasn’t right, you tell yourself. What’s the point in prolonging something that should’ve ended in one moment?

Out here though, you know you’re back where you started all those months, years ago when you had nothing to say was yours, when you had no real reason to wake up in the morning but you did anyway and you lived because there was simply nothing else left to do.

You’ve thought about putting an end to things but then you reconsider and decide to just take an extended sabbatical either because you’re too much of a coward to take the action necessary to put a stop to the things in your head, or because you’ve simply resigned yourself to the concept that there’s no escape and that there never will be. You keep waking up in the morning and you keep going to bed every night and waiting in the interim for the intolerable to pass because the intolerable does nothing if it doesn’t pass.

You look into the fire you’ve made with your hands, with the wood that lay around you, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from the notion that you can still create something is enough for you in this time and place, but you still worry. You worry that it isn’t enough and you worry that you need to do more in order to keep yourself comfortable and sane in this vast expanse of quiet. The trees tower around you and you look up at the fading blue of the sky and it’s all you can do to just lower your head and take a deep breath, maybe thank whoever exists beyond the immensity for the peace that you feel here.

“I trust you,” you say to the everything and the nothing that you imagine exists, “Guide me to where I need to be. Give me peace, patience and strength.” And the breath comes and the loosening of your shoulders comes and in that moment you feel the wind on your face and you hear the stream that lies to the north about 200 yards. It’s speaking a language it’s spoken for thousands of years, it’s delighting in it’s path to where it meets it’s end. There’s something to be said for that delight. You can’t grasp it at the moment but you wish you could.

Soon the night falls over you and your spot out here in the open and you crawl into the temporary bed where you’ll lay your head tonight and you may feel tired and you may lie awake for hours thinking about why it is the way it is and what you can do about it, but you know you can’t do anything about it besides maybe detaching. After all that’s the reason you came up here. You wanted to let go for, at the very least, a night, and listen to the wind in the trees and the crackling of the fire and you wanted to experience the fear and exhilaration of knowing there’s danger in the world. A monster could come and devour you as you lie defenseless behind a canvas wall and still you lie here and you wait and eventually sleep finds you. Then you dream about the hills you’ll have to climb and the valleys you’ve seen and in the morning as the light from the sun hits the canyon walls you’ll open your eyes and take a deep breath and feel the wind on your face and maybe things will be alright.

On Doubt

I have to ask myself why I’m trying so hard. Why am I causing such an intense amount of friction within myself to get something to happen, something that, in all likelihood, never will.

I used to think I was just working hard toward my goal but it’s starting to become apparent that, realistically, my goal will never become a reality.

I pray to god, just please give me what I want but I still wake up in the morning and nothing significant has happened. As for why I think something significant will happen in the hours between midnight and six a.m. when most of the world has shut their eyes and laid their heads on pillows of synthetic goose down, I will never know.

I don’t know why I keep after this impossibility.

Even if I do make a wave somewhere it lasts for maybe a good day before I’m back to being a struggling millennial writer living in a condo my parents own and relying on the government for the seven hundred dollars every month that I use to pay for cigarettes and groceries and little else.

I push and I push in whatever way my mind, in all it’s twisted glory can dream up, most recently I’ve taken to harassing literary agents on twitter and based on my alienation of several of them thus far it doesn’t appear to be going as planned.

I need to accept that my writing is simply writing. It’s not some great undiscovered work no matter how good I feel about the words I’ve managed to vomit onto a blank space in the center of my computer.

I love this shit. I love the stuff I manage to put out so it causes a tiny crisis in me anytime I fail to get the attention of someone and I fail to get acknowledgement.

I feel in my heart that my stuff is good so why aren’t I making a living off of it yet?

For now it just sits here in a small space in some vast corner of the world’s collective knowledge, it just sits and it waits and it says something that is substantial to me but in the grand scheme is just another small rant by some anonymous something that’s taken to writing how it feels when there are 7 billion other anonymous somethings that feel just as much as the author.

That’s the thing about it though, I write because I have to get things, these parasitic things that claw and gnaw at me out of my head and I have to put them in the light of day and I have to analyze them and pick at them and determine just what it is exactly about them that cause the friction.

I write because I have to get these things out, and no other reason.

My hope of course is that I’m saying something substantial with them, something that could change lives but I kind of know I’m not. I’m just saying things, vapid things that have no impact on others but for some unknown reason cause me incredible stress. I’d love to change lives and I’d love to get paid for the things that come out of my head but they’re inconsequential, they’re meaningless, they serve no purpose to anyone besides me to scrape out the grime that collects on the folds of my brain.

I need to accept that this will go nowhere. I need to stop worrying so damn much that my words are not being read, I need to be ok with the fact that what I write will not make me famous, it will not be a catalyst for my career, and it will not buy me that house in the mountains that I pray every night for.

My writing is just writing, just a collection of words on some inconsequential page somewhere on the internet.

It’s not a masterpiece no matter how strongly I feel about it. Just words, simple words put together to try in some deft attempt to explain how I’m feeling to myself.

I need to learn to accept that.

My words don’t mean anything and they never will. I should stop. I just can’t.

The New City

The sunrise was nice this morning, pink and blue clouds awash in the orange blaze of the morning sun. I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t woken up early this morning.

I have to say that I feel relaxed now, I feel respected and acknowledged and free. Things that had all but been out of my grasp before I moved.

The new city is normal, as normal as any other city on the endless grid of vast land in the middle of America.

There’s a view of the mountains from my window and I can sit out on my deck and watch the kids play basketball and the clouds roll in over the farm fields bringing the rain we so desperately need to feel comfortable.

Longmont is down to earth, it’s like Boulder crawled down out of it’s own ass and got a little fat and the people are nice, they smile at me and treat me with respect, as if I matter somehow to the world.

In Boulder, I was a cancerous mass that people looked away from, that people were afraid to engage because contact would’ve made them ill.

I existed like that for years, until I forgot what it was like to be a person and I accepted things as they were.

It was that little madness that lived in my gut that screamed when it got dark and I tried to sleep but that was just sad in the light of day.

I hung out with the tattooed girl the other day we just bullshitted for like two and a half hours and then I gave her a ride home. I don’t think there’s anything there but I’m happy to have a new friend.

She told me she smoked a bowl before we hung out and it was weird that I felt kind of mad, I didn’t want to talk to a drug but she held her own, so much better than I would have.

I would’ve been so lost that words would get caught in my throat and my mind would vomit thoughts making my eyes red and hot.

There’s a reason I don’t smoke anymore but I need to remind myself of that reason every now and again.

I need to remind myself of the intensity of the thoughts in my head.

We’re good now though. We’re happy, me and the two minds. 

The Wanting

How many words can be written about it, this quiet restlessness that sits in your chest and aches with every breath?

You’ve tried to talk softly to it. You’ve tried to encourage it’s efforts and quiet it’s soft screams.

You’ve left for weeks at a time just to escape it but it’s always there riding with you in the front seat, fiddling with the window button, fixing the rearview pointing out things behind you that you thought you’d left behind.

You’ve gone to the woods, to stare up at the trees that envelope you, you pray for fog to make the feeling go away or at least to match the color of it.

It stays with you and asks why, over and over and over like some child and you’ve told it just be quiet, you don’t how many times.

As much as you try to ignore it, it’s with you every morning in the soft light and at this point it’s more of a companion than anyone you’ve ever met.

It’s the one thing that’s stayed with you over the years. It’s the thing that makes your eyes heavy, that makes you try to make the things that you want, that calls out to you as you try to find the dark at night.

It’s the wanting, it’s the desire for the things you’ve never had, for the comfort of being alone and for a girl to rest her head on your chest.

You carry on though.

You wake up every morning not because you have to but because it’s what you do.

You live every day waiting for the chance to see the land of dreams again to grab a hold of something there that has eluded you in the normal light of day.

It sounds sad, but it’s better than that. It’s quiet and it’s comforting, sometimes it’s cold but it’s fine because you prefer the cold. If you could live somewhere without the sun beating down on the back of your neck, that would be fine.

It’s a friend more than anything now. That longing for something you aren’t sure you want anyway. 

Really, is there any other way?

The Tattooed Girl Who Works at the Minister’s Coffee Shop

She was covered in tattoos, head to toe. There was even one of a storm trooper helmet that had the words in script surrounding it, “Daddy’s little trooper.”

I can remember the day she was buying cheap beer for a couple of guys from Denver that were coming to fix her car, she didn’t have her gauges in and the skin on her ear lobes just hung. No comment. I don’t know why I was so fixated on that, not that hanging earlobes is bad or anything but it was something I didn’t have the regular pleasure of seeing everyday, it was bare, and vulnerable as it to say “fuck you for staring,” I noticed though, and I didn’t say anything.

She spoke softly. Her voice was calm, nothing like the tattoos would have suggested.

It’s not like I was in love with her either, it wasn’t a crush, it was just this thing where I wanted to see her again. I’m not clear on whether it was the potential of friendship or something else entirely. I just wanted to see her again before I left.

The day I noticed her earlobes was the same day I drove her home, or to a friend’s house, I don’t know. Her car, a car she had purchased a month before with 170,000 miles on it had died and she was walking across town. I was sitting outside the other coffee shop and she said “Whassup man?” to me before I could notice her coming. As I flicked my cigarette and looked up the flint in my brain caught and sparked and I recognized the face. That face was the one that had served me coffee at the coffee shop/gift store on the other side of town. It was run by a minister. I rarely went there anymore but when I did, she was there. We got to talking though, and she told me things that were boring and then I offered to give her a ride because I’m a nice guy.  

That face though, and the tattoos and the tone of her voice made something click.

The drive to her house was fine enough but for some reason I was so distracted I was afraid I would get into an accident. I was nervous too, my voice did that thing where sometimes it’s hard to get the right words out and sometimes you mess them up and you’re paranoid that they can hear you fucking up your talking. I couldn’t relax for like a half hour after that.

Anyway, I went back today, not specifically to see her, but because I wanted to sit on the patio and smoke.

She was there and she told me about some problem with her apartment that I could only hear snippets of over the sound of the coffee grinder. I responded, as I figured was probably customary without hearing what she said, by shaking my head and saying “That’s bullshit.” I went outside then and smoked, eating my sandwich, drinking my coffee and then I smoked some more.

An hour probably passed by the time I decided I wanted to leave so I gathered my trash and instead of throwing it in the bin outside I went back inside, threw it out and then stood by the counter waiting for her to look up. She asked, “You out?” I said, “Yeah, this is probably the last time I’m gonna come here too.” Then I did this thing with my eyebrows as if to imply some unnamed ritual and she said “Damn, well let me give you my number.”