100 Word 100 Day Challenge
Today is Day 1 of a 100 Day Writing Challenge. For 50 days leading up to my move to Los Angeles, and for my first 50 days out west, I’ll write exactly 100 words every day, no more, no less. I’m hoping this will free up my writing a bit. I believe creation spawns creativity. I also find comfort in the doing. I’m moving in 50 days from today, and I find comfort in carrying a little bit of constant with me into my new city, my new life. For better or for worse, let’s see how this works out!
Hello, my name is Blanca. I have came to your face on the website and wow. I am not married from another land and you look like my suitor. Are you married because I hope no? All I ask is the money for the plane and I will be at your location within the time given to me. I have also pictures for you to gaze. Respond to this internet message with the card of credit number and the social security number of you. Please do not resist the temptation between us. Accept instead my love forever yours. Love, Blanca
Dear Blanca, I just received your message. Based on your photos, I can’t believe you picked me! There’s nothing more I’d like than to make you my forever love. Unfortunately, I am in a bit of a bind and could use your help first. Yesterday, the Prince of Saudi Arabia kidnapped my brother. I need to wire $1.2 million to him before sunset tomorrow. Can you help me? Please, Blanca, send me your credit card information, and I will forever be in your debt. Once this whole ordeal is dealt with, we can start our lives together. Love always, Eric
An Open Letter to Penises: I’m not a prude, but let’s talk. Pictures of you aren’t welcome as much as you think they are. Stop showing up whenever you feel like it. I wouldn’t crash a wedding I wasn’t invited to, so don’t crash my phone sans invitation. And if they are welcome, be careful, ok? At least try and act like you’re meant only for me. Two photos with different grooming is a dead giveaway your owner has you stored in his phone for multiple victims. If you’re going to violate my eyes, at least make me feel special.
I applied to be a substitute in LA. I got a response telling me they received the application and that I should expect a response in the fall. In the fall?! I’m sorry, do they know who I am? I’m a fucking all-star sub. I usually get there BEFORE school starts. I only use the bathroom during passing periods. Sometimes, I make eye contact with students. I pass shit out. On days I have coffee, I may even smile. I don’t take no shit from no students. And I mean I’m really attractive. They clearly don’t know who I am.
I don’t think there’s anything less attractive than elbows. Have you ever seen someone and thought, “Look at the set of elbows on her!” I fear they haven’t evolved as much as the rest of the human body. They’re usually dry, and there’s always a dash of too much skin around them, and it kind of hangs close to the joint like sad mashed potatoes on a spoon. Come to think of it, they kind of remind me of the skin on most joints: knees, toes, knuckles. These are all super unattractive body parts. The human body is kinda gross.
The hair-flip emoji is my favorite. She just gets it. I’m not sure a situation exists where she can’t be thrown in there somewhere. Think about it . . . When the answer is yes. A: Did you get your homework done? B: Duh (hair-flip emoji). Any humble brag. A: I’m like, a rally good blogger. (hair-flip emoji). Words of encouragement. A: My dog got hit by a car. They don’t think she’s going to make it through the night. B: Yea, but like you looked rally good at work today. (hair-flip emoji). The hair-flip emoji is a badass bitch.
Dear future lover: Fall in love with my charm. Love me for who you think I am, and allow me to do the same to you in return. Let me build you up on a pedestal fit for a politician. Hand over your agency. Let me consume your humanity. I will infiltrate your body with my own self-loathing and give you my scars. It may hurt a little, but not as much as when you fall (and you will fall.) You will fall and break my back. You will fall and you will fail me. I am counting on it.
I had dinner at a BBQ place with Justin. We talked about the usual. How’s work? Any good auditions lately? How’s the love life? It’s ok. Had a great audition for The Onion yesterday. Love life is non-existent, considering I’m moving soon. I walked home after dinner and noticed a beautiful man smiling at me. Maybe my love life isn’t non-existent. He’s really checking me out! He flirts with me, but I can’t hear over my music. “Excuse me?” I say, in as charming a way as possible. “You have barbeque sauce on your face,” he responds. Yep. It’s non-existent.
All I want is a friend, that’s all. Just a male friend. Just a male friend who’s attractive. Maybe just a single, male, attractive friend. Just an attractive, single, male friend who finds me attractive. I just want an attractive boyfriend who finds me attractive and is kind. I just need an attractive, kind boyfriend who’s in love with me and doesn’t look at anyone else but me, ever. You know, just a gorgeous, kind, patient, masculine husband who’s obsessed with me and loves his mother but will never take her mother’s calls over mine. I’m not asking for much.
Oedipus Rex. Food poisoning. Hey bro! Bad acting. Wandering eyes. Republicans. Asparagus. Substitute teaching. Bad breath. Taxes. Impotency. Hairy backs. I’ve got an early start in the morning. China dolls. Migraines. Excessive sweating. Golden Girls. The face one makes when they sneeze. Assholery. Brightly lit empty gay bars at 4 AM. Words like escrow and malpractice. Dirty fingernails. Malort. The smell of rotten vegetables with no vegetables in sight. Cats. The sound of chewing. The sound of breathing. The sound of lips smacking. Eye rolling. Bedbugs. Desperation. Dirty apartments. These are a few of my favorite forms of birth control.
So this one time, I mistook a 7th grade boy for a girl. I hate pronouns. And the whole class pointed and laughed, as if 7th grade isn’t horrific enough. Hair starts growing in odd places. Voices start cracking. Hormones get all fucked up. Moods shift quicker than they do on any reality show. And the whole time, you just gotta act super cool. And super cool equals acting like you don’t give a shit, which is virtually impossible when your field has never been riper for the picking of shits! I mean seriously, how does anyone survive middle school?
There once was a fetus like none other you’ve seen. He had silk blonde hair and bright eyes of green. The fetus was hungry, and so in the womb he ate. His tasty satisfaction was his first cellmate. He consumed his twin (he was just having fun). Where once there were two, soon after there was one. I wish I could say the story ends there, but there is more to be said of the boy with blonde hair. His dead fetus twin was the first murder of four. Come back very soon, and I’ll be sure to share more.
Remember the story of the cannibal fetus? This is part two. I’m sure it will treat us. We always enjoy some rhymes of gore. Admit it or not, we always want more. If you recall, our bundle of joy devoured his twin like a dog with a toy. When he was born, he took his mom’s life. I’m sorry to say, his dad lost his wife. All in all, these events seem trifle. For when he was five, he found his dad’s rifle. You may ask yourself, how could that be? Come back soon to tune in to part three.
All before he was one-day old, our fetus took two lives, so we’re told. For five years to follow, it seemed like peace won, until one day when he found his dad’s gun. A safe is safe when it’s locked up tight. Otherwise, it causes more than a fright. When our five-year-old boy mistook a real gun for fake, his own father’s life did this real rifle take. After bullets flew from the gun to his dad, the former fetus never appeared sad. Three of four deaths have we witnessed thus far. Do come back soon to finish this noir.
Three deaths have there been. Are you sure you want more? There’s no need to fret; we’ll settle the score. Years passed from when he was five; I’m happy to say he stayed alive. He eventually fell for a beautiful woman with greener eyes and hair just as golden. Our boy and his wife expected a child. A baby boy to be meek and mild. Nine months of pregnancy passed with a flash. On the day of his birth, oh, let’s not be brash. Tune in for one more demise of a poor soul with blonde hair and green eyes.
Are you having fun yet, or are you sick of the rhyme? I promise today we will finish in time. The tragedy soon ends. I give you my word. Three lives have ended; so we have heard. Our fetus-turned-father went through quite the bother to father a child just like him, do you follow? On the day of his birth, he too, killed his mother. Now our fetus-turned-father will father a motherless bother. Call it back luck or karma, either way, it’s so keen. To destroy the life of a fetus with silk blonde hair and bright eyes of green.
I’m in the process of purging for my move out west. I feel like this life is giving me a test. GODDAMNIT I CAN’T STOP RHYMING! For the past five nights, I’ve stayed awake in bed, coming up with rhymes. I. Need. To. Stop. Ok, moving on…I’m in the process of purging for my move because I’m only taking what I can fit in my car. I figure it’ll be cheaper to buy new things than to rent a U-Haul for such a big move. I guess that’s all. I’m just glad I wrote more than two lines without rhyming.
I overheard a student of color bullying another student of color in school. She called her ugly and black. Because she put both adjectives in the same sentence, I have to believe she feels black is ugly or bad. I recognize I am a white man observing two young black girls. I don’t know their world, and I don’t know the challenges they face. I also don’t think racism fits in a 100-word post. This is meant as nothing but an observation. This brief interaction is an example how racism has the power to condition people to believe its lies.
I have absolutely nothing to day today, and this is only Day 20 of 100. I’m screwed. What did I get myself into? This seemed like a good idea 21 days ago, and I figured if I just said I’d do it, then it would simply happen. But there’s a fine line between staying open to the possibility and forcing something that shouldn’t happen. If you’re actually reading today’s entry, you should probably just stop now and skip to the next one, or the one after that, depending on how long this block will last. Five. Four. Three. Two. 100.
Confession: I used to believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. The day I found out the Easter Bunny wasn’t real was the same day I found out Santa and the Tooth Fairy weren’t either. It was a terrible day. Confession: My parents told me it was illegal to not go to college. I believed them until I was in 12. Confession: I used to think if you got murdered, you went to hell. I have no idea why. Confession: I used to think E.T., Scissor Hands, and the librarian ghost from Ghostbusters lived under my bed.
Confession: I used to have two imaginary friends who were orphans. They lived in electrical boxes at the very top of street posts. We went everywhere together. Confession: I used to run as fast as I could up the stairs because I thought hands would reach up, grab, and pull me under if they caught me. Confession: I used to think banks were places where you bought money. With money. Confession: One time my mom said “I don’t have any money,” and I thought we were broke. I freaked out because we were going to end up on the streets.
I have so much to do today, but Facebook. There’s so much happening on Facebook. There’s a Koala cuddling with a human. There’s a pug falling asleep on top of another pug. ON TOP OF ANOTHER PUG! There’s a drugged up sister who believes there’s a zombie attack because her brothers tricked her into believing so. It’s really funny, you just gotta see it. There’s some crazy Snapchat shit happening on the Facebook. There are pictures of food! Actually I could do without those. There are vaguebookers! Actually, I really hate vaguebookers. Ok, I have GOT to get to work.
Ways to make my non-existent ovaries ache: Want kids. Want or own a dog. Wear baseball T’s. Shop at Trader Joe’s. Be kind to your fellow (wo)man. Play an instrument. Don’t be on Grindr. Smell clean. Love your parents. Be spiritual, whatever that means to you. Know what you want, be content with what you have, and know the difference between the two. Listen actively. Push me; question me, and expect nothing less from me. Be interested in me, and desire me to be interested in you. Crave eye contact. Love food. Love my friends. Love my family. Love me.
An open letter to penises. The ugliness of elbows. The sassy hair-flip emoji. A letter of requests to my future lover. Another letter, this one to Blanca. The travesties of BBQ sauce. My favorite forms of birth control. The ugliness of pronouns and the even uglier process of puberty. A 5-part tragedy about a cannibal fetus, in rhyme. The struggle to stop fucking rhyming after you’ve done it for five entries in a row. Writer’s block. A two-part childhood confession. The joy of the Facebook. Several ways to make my non-existent ovaries ache. 25 entries down and 75 to go.
What’s the difference between action and intention? Which one do you hold at higher regard? Is it really the thought that counts? Do actions speak louder than words? I wonder how often these questions are taken into account during moments of conflict. Let’s look at the difference between two intentions that have the same result. According to Merriam-Webster, murder is “the crime of deliberately killing a person,” whereas self-defense is “the act of defending oneself.” Both result in death. The intention of one is to self-preserve, whereas the intention of the other is to annihilate. One action. Two intentions.
Julie had contemplated pitching Beth’s shirt for a while. They broke up about six months ago. Every time Julie opened her drawer, she saw it and was flooded with memories of their relationship and the sting of their separation. Julie and Beth’s breakup wasn’t easy, and neither woman reached out since the day they split. As Julie picked up the soft shirt, she realized while she missed her person, she wasn’t angry anymore. If felt refreshing. After giving it some thought, Julie returned Beth’s shirt with the note, “I found your shirt. Thank you for all the memories. Sincerely, Julie.”
As she was waiting for her date to pick her up, Beth had a hard time sitting still. To keep her mind off her nerves, Beth went through some mail and came across a small package from her ex, Julie. Her heart sank. Beth recognized the shirt right away. She was furious. Julie had the audacity to mail her a shirt she left at her house over six months ago. And the note! Thank you for the memories? SINCERELY? Why did Julie have to come back into her life right as she was beginning to put herself out there again?
Confession: I hate the Cubs. Not because I care about sports, but because parking in my neighborhood is impossible. Confession: I’ve stolen three books in the past three years as a sub for Chicago Public Schools. Another school confession: Quite often, when a student is talking to me, I am nodding pensively, all while thinking, “DUMBASS. DUMBASS. DUMBASS.” Confession: I yelled at my mom today, felt bad about it, and cried for about ten minutes. Confession: When I hold the door open for someone and they don’t acknowledge my presence, it sets me into a murderous rage. I’m an asshole.
Dear Kiiara: I heard you missed me in the basement. I was busy with your sister. She’s a good substitute for you. You don’t mind? Then quit your stuttering. Your words are spare change, unlike your kin’s words of gold. Don’t care what I say to you? Then you wouldn’t mind I never loved you. I’d say I’m sorry, honey, but we both know that’s not true. Just let me let you go. You should leave the party. Go out the back door so no one knows. Join the bodies on the pavement and watch me burn this house down.
You’re sexy. Why did you shave? Gain some weight. You’re too tall. You should shave. You look weak. You’re too effeminate. You look stiff. Come over for drinks. Your smile is too big. You look odd. That’s sexy. What are you wearing? Have you considered Botox? Don’t be so stressed. These pictures won’t work. Loosen up. Where’s your energy? Beautiful. This isn’t going to work. Do I know you? Clearly we won’t get along. Do you know who I’ve worked with? Do you know who I am? I’m a local celebrity. I’m not gay. The ugly side of the biz.
I didn’t realize I was an addict until my substance went missing. How can a human being personify a drug so beautifully? I feel empty, and yet my craving is growing inside me, begging for more, scratching my insides like a sharp clawed monster. I know I could shoot up again. We would both enjoy that. The thought is a fun one to play with, like a curious child playing with fire. But what happens when my substance feeds my craving one too many times? What happens when the monster inside is stronger than me? When will I lose control?
Human nature has a brilliant way of balancing out pain and the forgetfulness of said pain. If childbirth were easy, there would be many more hungry children on the streets. That being said, if women remembered the pain of childbirth, we as a species would cease to exist. The same goes for any process resulting in pain: riding a bike after falling, dating after slowly mending a broken heart, owning a dog and knowing you will live longer. The peaceful knowing that life goes on and on. Yes, “this too shall pass,” but not after the perfect amount of pain.
I dove into your ocean only to willingly drown myself. I lay on your bare chest, for you wear nothing so perfectly. Warm, brown skin. Thick, blonde hair. Sharp, blue eyes. Chiseled, statuesque features. A body that fits so harmoniously with mine. The more I write, the more I hate myself. I gave you my allegiance, my personhood, my humanity, and you graciously took me up on my “ask for nothing in return” clause, devouring me whole in exchange for cheap words. Cheap words I bought from such beautiful lips. Your misidentification of feelings caused me a world of hurt.
Do you still love me? Yes. Are you still in love with me? Undoubtedly yes. Are you in pain? Yes. And do I want you back? Yes. And do I want you to love me? Yes. And do I want you to be in love with me? Undoubtedly yes. But I am grateful, for you showed me something beautiful. What’s that? You showed me the deep capacity I have to love another person. You showed me the deep, rich capacity I have to madly, selflessly, passionately, with all my heart, love another human being. And for that, I am grateful.
I am not loved. The idea of me is loved. The idea of me is. The idea of me. The idea. Idea. The idea. The idea of me. The idea of me is. The idea of me is loved. Then let it be. I am an idea. I am the idea. You’ll wish it weren’t so. I will penetrate your being with the vastness of me. I will infiltrate your left brain and make it right. You’ll be so full of me, so full of the idea. So full of me. Do you still love the me you’ve carelessly created?
Breathe me in. Take me out. Consume me whole. Swallow me entirely, then spit out my bones. Break me down and build me up into the idea of the man you think you want me to be. Break me down again. Misidentify your feelings and communicate your lies until it destroys me. I’m asking you to. I’m allowing you to. I’m begging you to. Swell me up and take me in. Hold on tight and use what you want. Take what you need. Open my mouth and crawl inside. Scrape out my insides. Scratch your way out. Now walk away.
My name is Nestor. I do good in Reading and bad in Math. I am short, with short hair and short finger nails. My brown lips curl upward in the shape of a smile, but my black eyes scream out for help. I have seen things. I have sent cracked bottles in my mind out to sea with messages of desperation. Some will fall to the bottom of my soul. Others will land on the sandy beaches of my mind. Some day I will let the crazy out. Teachers. Students. No one will be ready. No one will expect it.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Be still, and know that I am. Be still, and know. Be still. Be. Be still. Be still, and know. Be still, and know that I am. “Be still, and know that I am God.” This too shall pass. This too? Yes, this too. This too shall pass, my love. So sit with me as our feelings wash over our bodies. Do not hold them. Do not clench them with your fists. Just be and allow them to do the same. Be still, my love, and this too shall pass. Be still.
Do you want me to want you? Is that why your posture changes when you walk by? Do you want to cause me pain? Do you attempt to push me down in order to raise yourself up? When you see me, does it scare you? Do I threaten your existence? Is it me that you fear, or the annihilation of yourself? There is room on earth for the two of us, you know, just not in the same room. You repulse me, and unlike you, it is not because of the projection of my own self hatred. So walk away.
I am a house. I am a clean house in a clean suburb with clean windows and clean shutters. I have inviting wildflowers gathered around my front stoop and a tethered tire swing behind me. I have a beautiful red door in my center with a gold handle and a gold knocker. My door swings out. It does not swing in. It does not revolve. My door does not revolve. My door is strong. You may enter, but you must knock first. If I let you in, and I will let you in, please stay. Stay a while with me.
It’s time we part our ways, sweet man. The things you’ve shown me through action are unlike anything I’ve seen. Through you, I’ve witnessed love as a verb. Through you, I’ve seen that I am capable of loving deeply and being loved deeply in return. Through you, I have experienced true fear, actions that result from true fear, and the unconditional open arms of acceptance in the aftermath when the dust settles. The person I was when our paths first crossed is not the same person I am today, and I am grateful for that. I will always love you.
Denial. Isolation. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Depression. Acceptance.
The cheater becomes the cheated. The departer, the departed. The intentions we leave behind become aggressors and hunt us down. Make us prey. Make us pay. I stand in front of a mirror and bare my soul to myself. A naked shell of a man. A little too skinny to be loved of a man. I shave down every single hair of a man. Once skinny, now invisible. Once a man, now a boy. Shed my skin. Purge my thoughts. The merging of the past and present created this mess. The tear of 1986 unites with the purge of 2011.
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. The signature scars strewn across our bodies left behind. Scars ingrained as a result from past stumbles. Past mistakes. Past lessons. The reminders from where we’ve been. The memories we dare to relive. Open my closet and let the crazy out. The fragments from my past are like silk gowns. Won’t you try them on for size? Dance in them around your kitchen. I’ll show you around my mind like a museum guide. How much time do you have? Will you stay with me? There is so much to explore inside.
I’m floating in a sea of sound, wrapped in bubble wrap. I’m dancing form dimension to dimension. There are seven in total, each a different color, each separated by the void of black silence. I am hopped up on hops. Hop hop hop higher until I am. High. I am high. High I am. Am I high? God, my mom will be so – there is a blue Slurpee in my hand. How did I get here? I remember my lips out the passenger window, kissing the wind. I remember Rusted Root. I remember Jesus. How did he walk on water?
In 1917, Sigmund Freud wrote “Mourning and Melancholia,” and while I admittedly have not read it, I think I’m beginning to understand the difference between these two states. Both are reactions to loss. Mourning occurs when someone has lost someone. This loss is tangible and takes place in the conscious. Melancholia, on the other hand, is the experience of loss that takes place in the unconscious. Both are the feelings of deep sadness from a loss, but with melancholia, one does not understand or know what they have lost. Such a feeling of hopelessness. I can’t think of anything sadder.
The walls of the world catch up to you, slowly creaking closer to your skin. Suffocating. No way out. You walk down stairs without looking, and you miss a step. Your heart falls out of your body. You dream about drowning in a black void with no differentiation between up and down. You dream about the ones you love and trust the most turning their backs on you. You grip on to the devastation you feel like it’s your duty. Like it’s the only way to live. What crimes have you committed that deserve the punishment you put on yourself?
The first time I saw your face. We caught each others’ eyes, unintentionally at first, then far too intentional throughout the night. The first time our knees touched. Our legs dangled over the edge of the pier, toes dipping into Lake Michigan. The first time we kissed. Our lips were there before, but we had no recollection of it. The first time we realized this is more. We sat on my patio with white lights overhead and fresh flowers on the rail. The first time we fell asleep together. Our bodies fit like puzzle pieces. Each time was the first.
The last time I saw your face. So many words locked up in our eyes. Our unconscious selves intertwined in ways we were not able to explain using the limitation of spoken words. The last time our skin touched. “It’s so easy.” It was so easy. So easy, and yet the untying of our knots felt complicated. Undesirable. Counterintuitive. The last time I saw your face was the first time I stood on the edge of something more. Not more. Different. The uncomfortable kind of different. The I want to go back to the way things were kind of different.
Word. Words. Unnecessary words. Useless words. The slow us down and close us off kind of words. The “let’s not share so much” kinds of words. The “let’s not overcomplicate things” kinds of words. Words that furrow your brow. Words that dig holes. Words that tie knots. Words that start fires. Start feuds. Start wars. Words that build ourselves up and tear others down. Words that tear ourselves down in hopes that others will build us back up. Words that go fishing. Words that vaguely ask for help. Words that scream out of desperation without asking for help. Words. Word.
The words I would say if I thought you would listen. The feelings I’d express if I thought you could care. The love we would harvest if your field weren’t so barren. The soil we could mix if I knew you were there. But life isn’t cyclical the way I once needed. No, life’s not cyclical the way I once dreamt. My life is no circle, there’s little rhyme with no reason. I go forward in time, 3 months every season. You look so confused, are you stopping your time? I won’t wait for you. I must reap what’s mine.
Mother Nature is on Father Time’s tight schedule. Father Time travels at 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, and 24 hours per day. Together, they can do wonders with the world. It is common practice and human nature to take Time and Nature’s jobs into our own hands, but unfortunately, little good can come of this. Steadily, Time ticks, reminding us to let him be our healing source. Gently, Nature flows through our bodies, whispering all the while, “let me run my course. Let your father and mother take care of their children. Trust that we are enough.”
Jimmy’s a first grader I’ve had the pleasure of working with this year at his school. “Cap’n America, why is your nose so big?” “That’s not a nice thing to say, Jimmy. Let’s get back to reading, ‘Mr. Fly.” “Oh, I’m sorry. . . Cap’n? Why is your nose so . . . long?” I should explain . . . Jimmy thinks I’m Captain America. A few months ago, I convinced him that I was. I wish I could say it was to make learning more exciting for him, but in reality, I just needed some excitement in my life.
The problem, Peter Pan, is not that I have changed, but that you have stayed the same. Years of a friendship growing apart has lead me to this conclusion. My dear friend Peter, you flutter and play with the other little boys, and while I remember how delightful that once was, it’s not the life I care to live anymore. While I know I Can find you, second star on the right and straight on ‘til morning in the little town of boys, know, yourself, that I will be ready to welcome you if you ever chose to grow up.
Talking bodies, kissing bodies. Bodies that dance a slow parallel dance. Bodies that move like the lava in a lava lamp. Bodies that pick up where the other leaves off. Bodies with no beginning and no end. Bodies that flow in and out of time, of sleep, of each other. Bodies that sleep kiss. Bodies that sleep kiss. Bodies don’t sleep better than these two bodies on this one night. The sunlight creeps in our eyes. The sounds of the birds flow to our ears. The night slipped by us and the morning sadly greets us. Two bodies say goodbye.
I’m feeling anxious today. Sad, really. I leave for California in two days. All I can think about is how I’ve said goodbye to people. Have my goodbyes been enough? Am I grateful enough? Am I loving enough? An I enough? Anxiety has a frustrating way of replaying moments in my head in an incredibly negative way. “Remember so-and-so? You pulled away from your hug with her too quickly. She probably thinks you were being insensitive.” Fuck you, anxiety. But this is where my head is today. This is not poetry. It’s not humorous. It’s not creative. It’s me today.
“Derek, I need you to change seats. You are too distracting where you’re sitting.” My tone even surprised me. “But Mr. Feltes, I wasn’t doing nothing wrong!” “This is not a conversation, Derek. Move.” Derek grabbed his things and sulked off to the other side of the room. I immediately felt bad. I was too quick to act. I should have communicated my expectations with him more clearly. I gave Derek a minute, then knelt down beside his new desk and said, “Derek, are you angry?” A pause. “Yes.” “Ok. Are you angry at me?” A longer pause. “No comment.”
“You’re allowed to be angry. I’m sorry for reprimanding you in front of your friends. You deserve better. Take some time to be angry, then feel free to move back to your seat and continue your work when you’re ready. Ok?” I saw the wheels turning in his head. About five minutes later, Derek moved back to his seat. ” We cool, Derek?” “We’re cool, Mr. Feltes.” “Thanks for being respectful even when you were angry. You’ve come a long way this year.” “You too, Mr. Feltes.” From then on, Derek gave me a hug every time he saw me.
I officially start my road trip this afternoon. I’m heading to the burbs for dinner with my family. Thursday, I’m off to Kansas City, Friday to Denver, and Saturday to Phoenix for a long weekend. Tuesday, to San Diego, and then up the coast to my new home. I never pictured Chicago to be my final destination, but it doesn’t make this transition any less bittersweet. I can easily say my 3 years here have been the best so far. I’ve learned so much and been supported by so many. Until next time, Chicagoans, stay awesome and keep in touch!
I left my parents’ house early with a tearful goodbye on Thursday. My drive through Iowa was, well, it was Iowa. Kansas greeted me with a mix of torrential downpours and eerie tornado weather. This was followed by miles of nothingness. Colorado was amazing. I’ve never driven in the mountains before, and it was an experience. I’m not sure my car appreciated the uphill battle, but it was really amazing. Saturday was the best. I never knew Utah was so beautiful. Bright blue skies and orang mountains. So in three days, I’ve seen rain, snow, tornado weather, and the desert.
How do you play it cool when Melissa McCarthy is sitting two tables away from you at a cafe? There are times in life where I forget how to be human. Really, though, how do you human? You don’t want to look at her too long, but you also don’t want to look around her. And if you make eye contact, do you smile or act like you don’t know her? Moments like this make you ultra aware of your surroundings and how you’re supposed to act. Ok, she’s getting up to leave. I think I just peed a little.
A savvy and successful actor in Los Angeles has an agent, manager, and publicist. They all sing the actors’ praises to others in the industry and on social media, and he, in return, does the same for them. Things continue to go well for this actor, until one day, someone notices the actor and manager look strikingly similar. As it turns out, this actor, agent, manager, and publicist are all the same person. Is he a sleaze, someone only doing this to benefit themselves? Or does he have split personalities? Hell, maybe he’s just brilliant. Who am I to judge?
2,100 miles. 33 hours. 8 states. Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and California. 17 gas stations. 4 books on tape. Me, The Melody Lingers On, and The Devil in the White City, Room. Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, California. 1 long road trip. 1 tired car. 1 new alternator. 100 degrees. 1 week. 7 days. First week in my new home. 1 new roommate. Ten hours on agency submissions. 13 Cover letters, headshots, resumes, envelopes, addresses, and stamps. 13 completed agency submissions. 2 job interviews. 1 print agency meeting. 1 improv show. 2 improv classes. 2 celebrity sightings.
On Saturday, June 11, 2016, over fifty people were brutally murdered, and over fifty more were injured. This act has been the largest mass shooting ever reported in the United States. The shooting took place at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida during pride week. According to one article, the shooter saw two men kissing, and this upset him. In 8 years, President Obama has given 15 speeches as a result of mass shootings. How many words can he and his team come up with to sooth America? How many acts of terror will it take for change to occur?
There are many things that can’t be done wrong, but the making of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is not one of those things. If it is not making a mess when you are eating it, oozing out of the sides, or dripping on your fingers and onto plate, if you do not need to take a shower when you’re done, then you did something wrong. Toasted bread. Real peanut butter. None of this creamy unnatural crap. Raspberry jelly with seeds. You have to be able to see the seeds. It is a messy, and beautiful, and delicious thing.
I used to read Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a kid. I say read, but I think I stressed about them more than anything else. I remember getting to the agonizing point where I had to do one of 2 things: “Go to page 29 if you decide to open the door,” or “Go to page 45 if you decide to walk away.” What the fuck, man?! How was I supposed to know which decision to make?! More often than not, I chose whichever decision seemed safer. Then, I went back, and read through the other option.
I know, I know. My life was SO hard. I mean, no, it really wasn’t. But I do think, if nothing else, this says a lot about my personality. The plus side is I spend a lot of time researching various options. I never jump into anything without thinking it through completely. Actually, that’s not entirely true. There was this one time I ate a piece of candy my kindergarten teacher gave me directly after she told the whole class to wait until lunchtime. She caught me and made me spit it out. To this day, I still regret that.
Ok, so ONE time I didn’t think my action through completely, but I promise you, I learned my lesson. Overall, though, I will say I do plenty of research before making a decision. And when I say research, I mean it in all senses of the word. Before I moved to Los Angeles is a great example of that. Spreadsheets, books, word of mouth, actual trips to visit, etc. Man, I did a lot of research. I researched neighborhoods, casting directors, agents, churches, the weather, things to do on the weekends, and the list goes on, and on, and on.
So that’s the plus side, and it’s a big plus side! The downside, however, is equally as large. While I do plenty of research, I also do plenty of stressing. The thing is, I rely on my research, but sometimes it is a bit too compulsive for my own good. I rely and take comfort in research because it makes me feel like I am in control, and because I want to be in control all too often, I put too much emphasis on my decisions. I feel there is always a right and a wrong way to do something.
The problem for me then, is that in real life, I can’t go back and change my mind like I can with Choose Your Own Adventure books. I have to live with the decisions I’ve made, or sleep in the bed I’ve made, as they say. I have to say, I really struggle with this! I don’t have a happy ending or clean answer for my issue, but I will say what does help is when I remind myself that no single decision will make or break my life. Life is a collection of millions of decisions, not just one.
To be vulnerable. Vulnerability is strength. It is courage manifested in honesty. It is laying your life in the sand just before the foamy tide comes in. It is opening a door and walking through the entryway without turning the light on first. It is sitting cross legged at the bottom of a pool then coming up for air. It is the knowledge of what is below and the acceptance of what is above. It is the energy that creates the tree rings around our hearts. It is the only way to forgive and the most supreme way to love.
The angels of the city are lonely. They roam the streets with papers about themselves and photos of themselves, always looking through you with glossed expressions on their faces. They never look at you, and they always want something from you. Always grinding. Never working. Always wanting something. Something just out of their reach. The city keeps the angels apart. The roads are too clotted. The schedules are never barren. The black and white hierarchy keeps them comfortable and static. The angels in their city, they all want more, but they never want anything else. Schedules. Appointments. Meetings. Pitches. Brands.
The loneliness can be palpable sometimes. It can cut you like a knife. For me, it sits in my chest where my anxiety lives. Some days, I don’t want to get out of bed. It’s easy to feel safe in bed and not worry about life outside my room. I am not usually like this. It comes in waves, but when it does come, it hits me hard. It is an overwhelming and dark experience. I have felt loneliness before, but nothing like this. I am not one to want to purge my feelings, but today I’d make an exception.
The flakiness is real in Los Angeles. Real real. I have been cancelled on more times in the past month than really ever in Chicago. People are busier here, I really believe that. And it’s a lot harder to get places here. But I have never known so many people to just cancel last minute like this. I’ve been canceled on from potential dates, potential roommates, and potential friends. I fully realize this post is a completely uncreative bitchy one, but that’s because it is what’s on my mind at the moment. Creativity has taken a backseat to my frustration.
Web series idea: The frustrations of finding a place to live in Los Angeles called SEEKING HOUSING. Each episode would consist of me visiting an apartment and experiencing the craziness on the other side of each door. Each episode would be half written by the actor and myself and half improvised. I have seen enough crazy things already to write at least 5 episodes myself, but I want this to be a collaborative experience for all actors involved. For the audition, I think I would have each actor pitch an idea of a crazy roommate situation and go from there.
Speaking of crazy potential roommates, so far, I have seen four fish tanks in one room. I have had someone tell me he watches porn on a large projection in the living room. I have been told someone has orgies pretty regularly. I saw an ad on Craigslist that had one picture, and it was a photo of the bedroom door. That’s it. Just the door. I was told I couldn’t use the living room. I was told I couldn’t use the kitchen. I was told if I’m pretty and could cook, I could live in one place for free.
Oh, I’m not done. I was told by a landlord that I would not be meeting the roommates before I signed the lease because I would not be friends with them or interact with them much at all. I was hung up on. I was cancelled on minutes before a showing. I was told the potential roommate was LGBT friendly, as long as no one hit on him or his friends. I was told I must be quiet after 10:00 pm. I was told the room would be a one-month trial and that there would be an evaluation after that.
I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up.
It’s fascinating. You abruptly exited my life with no warning or discussion, and yet the memory of you floods my senses, with even less warning or discussion. That one song on the radio. The taste of a spice in my food. The smell of a certain cologne on a passerby. The image of your goddamn face in a photo. Delete. I wish I could delete. I am envious of those with little or no memory of the past. I delete the file on my computer entitled, “My Love.” Now I’d like to do that with my memories. Control, Alt, Delete.
I had a great conversation with a friend last night. It was a reminder of the importance of surrounding yourself with people that believe in you. A group of people that consistently fights for you. It takes a village to raise an actor. Bonnie Gillespie says “Don’t leave your own party.” Don’t run down the street after the one guest who snuck out. Instead, party with the guests that choose to stay because those are the ones who value your presence. Those people are your tribe, and my tribe is the Hollywood in which I choose to be a part.
I was warned, but I had no idea how prevalent it was. Flakes are all around us. At first, you can’t tell a flake from a human, at least not until it is too late. They smile, breathe, and blink, just like regular human beings. But I assure you, inside, something is terribly, terribly wrong. Perhaps there is a connection between flakes and Scientologists, since they both seem to breed here in Los Angeles. They seem to feed off of committing to meetings, hikes, and dates, and cancelling at the very last minute, or sometimes, just not even showing up.
Chicago, without a doubt, has more rats than any other city in the United States. I can’t tell you how many rats I had seen during my 3 years in the Windy City. I learned extremely quickly to stay away form alleys at night, and not out of fear of being pickpocketed, but because the one time I walked through one, I heard and saw rats jumping off garbage cans as I walked by. The sound of their claws on the garbage cans was enough to turn away, and it really didn’t help to see them in the shadows either.
One time after exiting the train, a rat actually ran into my foot, shook it off, turned around, and ran away. And on more than one occasion in Chicago, I remember stopping so that a rat could cross in front of me on the sidewalk. These goddamn vermin are simply not even afraid of humans. That’s the worst part. If they kept to themselves in their alleys, fine. I can even give them the train tracks. That is a compromise that I could work with: They can take the alleys and the train tracks. But no. They have no respect.
I wish I could saw that I left all rats behind when I moved to Los Angeles. I don’t think I am asking for too much, now, am I? Well, apparently, I am because just tonight, I noticed something scurrying in the palm tree right outside my second story bedroom window. I then saw a long tail, followed by two small ears, and two beady black eyes. There was a fucking rat right outside my bedroom window in Los Angeles. They won’t leave me alone. I know rats are everywhere, but right outside my bedroom window? Give me a break.
If you are ever told you are too fat, too black, too gay, too tall, too short, too anything, take a breath, turn around, walk away, and trust in your gut, your heart, your soul, that you are enough. That you are not too much of nothing or too little of everything, but rather that you are the perfect amount of “youness” that there is. That no one can do you quite like you, and that you only fail yourself when you try to live up to the projected expectations of society. Trust that you are enough because you are.
Trust that you are enough because you are, in fact, enough. Because there is no one else quite like you. Because when you try to be something for everyone, you end up being nothing for yourself. You end up not being the you that you are meant to be. Because no one can do you quite like you can. Because while results can be duplicated, creativity cannot. Because thoughts can be mimicked, but genuine satisfaction in oneself cannot. Because you are you for a reason. Trust that you are enough, and spend your life discovering this you that you are.
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, for as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. I will see no evil. I will hear no evil. Let freedom ring! Freedom, where are you? ‘Cause I need freedom, too. I break chains all by myself. Won’t let my freedom rot in hello operator, please give me number nine, and if you disconnect me, I’ll chop off your behind every great man is a great woman. Woman. WOAH, MAN.” – Melania Trump
“You! You, over there. Yeah, you, all y’all with your guns and your puns and your rootin’ tootin’ funds. You high kickers and low browsers. With your rootin’ tootin’ boots and your highest flashin’ bash, and Russia! You betcha with your rootin’ tootin’ gun clingin’ proud owner of your guns. And the mothers! With their babies and their babies’ babies. And the fathers in the fields and sons in the streets. All y’all goin to work work work work work, simma simma wer wer wer wer wer, dimma dimma DIM SUM! Dim. Sum. And dim sum more! Russia.” – Sarah Palin
I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I literally have one thousand more words to write by August first after this post and I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit. I am shit.
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When you send a text message, and the blue line goes about 95% of the way across your phone, then suddenly stops, and the text doesn’t go through. When you turn your car around to catch a parking spot and someone steals in right in front of you. When You pass the last gas station for a long while and your gas light goes on. When you hold the door open for someone and they pretend you don’t exist. These are all of the little things in life that make me want to commit an irrational yet completely justifiable felony.
I will not pretend to believe that I don’t care what other people think of me. When we attempt to be everyone to everybody, we end up being nothing to ourselves. I firmly believe that. I also believe I’m sharpening my tools as to who to listen to. Who to surround myself with. Who to model my life after. But I’m also learning to let go of those who make me feel like shit. Those who project their own hatred and fear onto me. Bitter people do not want others to succeed. I’m finally figuring out who those people are.
Something’s happening to me. I’m changing. I can’t explain it. I am stronger every day. Every experience is making me a sharper individual. Los Angeles tries to beat you down, at least in my experiences. A few parking tickets, much higher rent, the impossibility of finding a new roommate and place to live, flaky individuals, the impossibility of finding part time work. Normally this would make me want to quit, but somehow, it is becoming my fuel. It is all giving me the reason to get up and continue to strive to be better and to succeed. And I will.
There are four keys to success: Money, Connections, Talent, and Hard Work. Let’s start with money. I hate to say it, but those with money have more advantages than those without. Living in Los Angeles is tough and expensive. There are the necessities (rent, gas, food, etc.) but if you aren’t investing in workshops, headshots, classes, etc., then you are screwed. You can find a way to survive in LA on a not-so-high-paying job, of course. But it you are barely making ends meet and don’t have the funds necessary to actually promote yourself as an actor, rethink your tactics.
The second key is Connections. Start building them now! It is about who you know. When I first moved here, I got a part-time job at a fitness center, all thanks to an actor who works there that I cast in a short film in Chicago. They weren’t hiring, but because I came highly recommended from a reliable source, I got the job anyway. It’s true in the business as well. When you have a professional and/or friendly relationship with people, they will help you out, and vise versa. It is about who you know and also who they know.
The third key: Talent. This really does come from a culmination of the other keys. You can foster your talent, just like you can foster your connections, but it takes a special and talented individual to be able to be vulnerable over and over again in front of a camera and casting directors, on set, or on stage in front of a live audience. The amount that goes into acting is ridiculous. It takes talent to be flexible, memorize lines, bring truth to a character, build relationships on stage, and be ready to take new direction at any given moment.
The fourth and final key to success in this industry, and by far the most important one, is Hard Work. It is the driving force or fuel for any actor. It takes work to make money. It takes work to build relationships. It takes work to foster your talent. You get the idea. Steve Martin once said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you,” and he was on to something there. It takes hard work to be so good and to get what you want. Hollywood is full of “slactors,” but with these four keys, you are bound to succeed.
It’s the eleventh hour. The final stretch of a race. The moment you feel you’ve already given everything you can give and have nothing left. It’s the moment you are sure you can’t raise the bar any more, but your trainer knows you can. It’s the Friday morning of every single goddamn work week in corporate America. It’s the voice inside telling you to push just a little further. It’s tech week. It’s the, “why the hell did I come up with ‘4 Keys to Success’ and not 5 so I could be done with this?!” It is so close!
100. Blanca. Eric. Dick-Pic. Substitute. Elbows. Hair-flip. Future-lover. BBQ. Friend. Birth-control. Pronouns. Cannibal. Fetus. Murderer. Pregnancy. Karma. Purge. Racism. Screwed. Some confessions. Facebook. Ovaries. Review. Intention. Julie. Beth. Cubs. Kiiara. Model. Addict. Forgetfulness. Ocean. Grateful. Idea. Consummation. Nestor. Be. Threat. House. Man. Anger. Merge. Inside. High. Melancholia. Claustrophobia. First. Last. Words. Circle. Parents. Jimmy. Peter. Bodies. Anxiety. Derek. Anger. Road-trip. USA. Melissa. Personalities. Numbers. Terror. PBJ. Adventure. Choices. Research. Downside. Decisions. Vulnerability. Angels. Loneliness. Flakiness. Housing. Crazy roommates. Endurance. Memory. Party. Flakes. Chicago, LA rats. Enough. Trust. Melania. Sarah. Shit. Backward. Felony. Community. Strength. Money. Connections. Talent. Work. 99. End.
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