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When I was ten I had special powers. In a platonic game of truth or dare between my cousin and myself, I was asked what my “deepest, darkest secret” was.

“Well,” I remember starting out, “I can control things with my mind. But don’t tell anyone!”

She just looked at me and we moved on to the next “truth” or “dare”; most likely truth because that’s what I always picked, and I didn’t have the sadist’s penchant for giving entertaining “dares”.

I could communicate mentally with animals, and by staring into their eyes, they could “feel” my thoughts.

One time, in a parking lot behind an apartment complex, a black cat stopped to look at me. I then proceeded to stare at it for several minutes while approaching it slowly, hoping to make it trust me with my mind.

As I got older, I fought off being controlled by demons whenever I had an evil thought, knowing they were the cause; though I assure you my thoughts were no more evil than any other twelve-year-old’s. My darkest thoughts were confined to fantasy images of gore, a phase I went through after drawing Stimpy with his head cut off and a gratuitous outpouring of blood. I think I just enjoyed drawing all the blood.

I was in my pool, trying to control the water with my hands, even telling my father that I was “talking to it”, whatever that meant. He just smiled as my mother did after I told her. Had they laughed at me, who knows how I would have turned out. They never mocked my over-active imagination or told me to shut up when at age five I would tell them endless stories about alien wars and horrible monsters.

It was Franny with whom I can most relate in Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, who claimed that, at the age of four, she was able to fly around the room when no one was home, her proof being the dust on her fingers from touching the lightbulbs.

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Charles Bukowski once wrote that he hated talking to other writers about writing. He didn’t say why, but I know why I do: they are other writers, and I want to be the only writer in the world.

All through grade school up until high school my peers would butcher words and sentences from readings that I would recite flawlessly. It went straight to my head.

However, I once lost a spelling bee thanks to an extra “n” (I must have spelt “Bananan”); I was one of two remaining contestants.

I then began to write in high school, earning praise from English teachers, which doesn’t come cheap, despite attendance being the only price of a passing grade. In a creative writing class I wrote and read a piece that was met with applause by my peers, from whom I was mostly estranged, so I knew they really liked my writing and not me. I then considered myself a writer.

I held onto my writing abilities as my art skills declined (I am now a mere cartoonist) and I lost interest in music.

I have this image of a writer who is eccentric, hyper, cynical and Woody Allen-ish; or bitter, violent, possibly alcoholic or drug-consuming (the aforementioned Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey), but these people are more poets than writers; they live their work.

I am not one of these people.

There was one day when I was looking out my window in my late teens and as I stared at the tree in front of my childhood home, realized that I would never be a rockstar and should stop thinking that I would be. It was in that moment that my inner-rockstar creed changed; a creed that bore no words but was more of a state of mind. I can’t imagine myself ever being a rockstar writer like Kesey or Bukowski. But I am still a writer.

There is also something awkward about hearing another writer talk about their methods. I usually just don’t care. And if they are better than me, something which I am willing to admit, if not always to their faces unless pressed, then I wind up being jealous and know that they wouldn’t divulge their secret technique if they had one anyway; or, if they were born with some kind of writing talent, there is no way I will ever possess it as they do or understand it and they may not even understand it themselves.

When I hear one of my peers talk about writing, I feel as though I am hearing myself sing. It is mostly awkward, and there are all the real mistakes that transcend the ones on the page: the personal, embarrassing flaws that I know I, being cut from similar cloth, must have as well.

This wouldn’t happen if I were the only writer in the world.

 

There were two weeks during which I only ate sardines. Those weeks being an exception, I usually eat well. I can no longer eat sardines.

I usually make chicken cutlets or minute steaks (which I am growing sick of) and a side of some kind of vegetable; lately they have been frozen. The drinks are usually the same, as well: tomato juice or iced tea. Soda occasionally, but with guilt.

My diet is neither poor nor rich, but altogether monotonous.

I first tried eating only beans, so as to save money; canned chickpeas and the more expensive Cannelinis. I did this for almost a month until I made chicken cutlets one night and realized how miserable and hungry I had been all along. I then knew that I would have to spend a significant amount of time and money on food.

Sometimes I try to make the steaks rare, but they are too thin. I’ve also been working on my cutlet technique. I once made macaroni and cheese from scratch. I over-salted it and did not forgive myself, but I was still proud.

There was also a time when I only ate pasta, but there is only so much Penne and Angel’s Hair one can take. It almost always comes out al dente now. Sometimes too al dente, depending on the brand; after over-cooking a generic brand, I was too cautious on my usual brand and ate it almost raw.

When I used to shop at the Asian Food Mart, I would buy a bag of pot stickers and several packets of cheap Udon. I would make large bowls of soup, seasoning the broth with Sesame Oil and Soy Sauce, boiling the pot stickers first and then the Udon (Udon cooks very quickly, and unlike pot stickers, if it falls apart, is not so appetizing), throwing in chopped portobellos, mung bean sprouts, lettuce and spinach and occasionally a Brussels sprout or two. Of course, for the Brussels sprouts to boil properly, they would have to be thrown in first, as I learned after eating rock-hard Brussels sprouts in several of my own meals.

I bought my first Brussels sprouts at the Asian Food Mart, ironically enough.

Now for a late lunch, I will be eating the wild card of the Bachelor Diet: leftovers from eating out. My microwave is broken, so I will be heating the Shepherd’s Pie in a pan, low flame, ignition by means of lighter in lieu of a working pilot light.

 

I go through seasons in which I become interested in only one thing and with great tunnel vision, be it literature, music, Death Metal, or Anime.

When I am in Literature Season, I read compulsively. Or re-read my favorites compulsively, and if I’m lucky, make new favorites. This is my favorite Season. I am currently in the middle of my second reading of Stop-Time by Frank Conroy.

When I am in Music Season, I look for new artists, usually with an electronic or indie style. I may also feel encouraged to write my own music and have a go at creating my own tracks.

In Death Metal season, I will be going through hard times and will feel down. I will listen to dark Industrial in this season as well, wishing I could be an industrial artist myself. I begin to play my guitar in drop C and work on faster speed picking. The song that inspires my Metal playing the most is Nile’s “Lashed To The Slave Stick”, and it may just be my favorite song, metal or otherwise, if only too grating on the ears to be listened to casually.

Anime season is the worst and most vacuous of them all. Nothing else could have me wondering if I should spend close to a hundred dollars on a six-inch figure of a little girl.

I am now in Anime Season. A time not to create, or to think, but to consume.

Figures

My used figure arrived in the mail this morning. An Anime figure, Anime being my guilty, embarrassing pleasure. I had waited several weeks for it to arrive, and as I opened the packaging with a straight-edged razor I had acquired from working in retail (I would put the box cutters in my back pocket and forget they were there, taking them home; my posterior is intact as well), I was then amazed at the sensation of opening something truly used.

I had bought used clothes online before, but they were always packaged neatly, even professionally. But this box bore my name and address on it, hand-written on a loose-leaf label, with wobbly penmanship that now brings to mind the underside of Woody’s right boot.

Save for some bits of dirt and a slight smell of stale cigarette smoke detectable upon close inspection, the figure itself was in excellent condition and I was stunned at the detailed sculpting; I had never owned a Japanese figure before.

I had taken interest in figures recently, after looking at my old childhood toys, the majority of which were snarling monsters. I took home with me from my old action figure collection, well-preserved since youth, a green figure with many eyeless heads, all bearing their teeth. I later learned, never having seen this monster before, that his name is Biollante, and he once fought Godzilla. I was surprised he was not in “Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee” or its sequel, but I suppose King Ghidorah and his Mecha counterpart were enough to satisfy the need to have an abomination with at least three heads on its shoulders grace the screen.

Since bringing home the green monster, I have purchased a used NECA Alien, with only the tip of its tail missing. I have always appreciated Giger’s art, even if I am unable to look at his work for too long without feeling cold and depressed. But the Alien figure itself is very fetching, with its clear, phallic head and its aggressive upright stance. Even his small second mouth comes out, and ever since I was little I appreciated moving parts on a toy as long as they were unconventional (triggered arms were not unique and their movement had no importance; my action figures never made contact with each other out of respect for paint), especially if they emerged from and retracted into some hole like a snake on a certain Mighty Max toy I remember or the multiple heads on a deformed, muscle-bound version of Venom.

After buying the Alien figure and realizing it was not a waste of money, I bought one of Clive Barker’s Tortured Souls, unused. Talisac it is named, and it is probably the grossest figure in that series. I would describe it but I really have no interest in it anymore. Not too shortly after buying this figure, I regretted it a little, it being so grotesque and in that way an eyesore. But I was very much into death metal at the time of the purchase; an interest that comes and goes seemingly without warning. The figure went with the music.

Metal

I had but a month ago aimed to create a metal album with a stranger over the internet, him on vocals, myself on guitar and bass, using an in-program drum kit. I had made and sent him the first track. His response via text message was a declaration of it being “awesome”, complete with an explicative for emphasis. I couldn’t be more pleased with these results but knowing I had promised a ten track album I then realized that I no longer cared about metal anymore; I had essentially, pardon the expression, “shot my load.” Metal season for me had ended, most likely with his praise. Perhaps I selfishly craved recognition, and after gaining it, lost my drive.

However I got drunk a week later and recorded four more guitar tracks, the fourth, during which I was most tired and intoxicated, being mostly mistakes that I would have to edit out to cobble together a decent song.

I’m guiltily opting for the excuse of a hard drive crash.

The cool weather brings back three memories. In chronological order: one of the first Halloweens I ever missed, one of a lover I cried for, and one of my first drug experiences. And always, the cool weather reminds me of all Halloweens, it having been my favorite holiday as a child.

Bordering between a cool summer day’s temperature and what would be felt and instantly labeled as the coming of winter, is this cool weather that arrived yesterday. It surprised me as I awoke and found my dining room to be slightly chilled. And with the new weather’s surprising arrival came the influx of memories, and if I had to pick a side, they are unwelcome. But still they come, and I can feel them in my solar plexus, causing tight, choking melancholia.

I’d imagine animals sense the coming of fall in a similar way.

Halloween

I can’t remember how old I was, but the first Halloween I missed was when I was very young, though by age and physical appearance I was not as young as I should have been to have wept so hard; it was less than ten years ago. My mother forbade me to trick-or-treat, on account of my poor, or at least mediocre, school grades.

I remember looking out my window with the shade halfway down, the golden sunlight coming in, and crying audibly and bitterly as my neighbors and friends congregated on the street in costume, maybe wondering where I was, and their parents then leading them off to hunt for candy door-to-door.

Love

An awkward memory by my standards, but I’m sure the opposing party in this story appreciates it for its beautiful sincerity, and conceitedly enough I hope they cherish it: A candid moment, shared in our local park on a bench atop a hill. No one else was around, at least not visibly, and while I don’t remember the conversation preceding my outburst, I finally confessed through imminent tears, “I don’t want to lose you.”

I then cried in her lap. It was Halloween and I was in middle school.

Drug

Very alone and in high school, it was in the same park, but in a different locale and with a completely different feel altogether. My first experience with marijuana. In an area meant for many a chess player (although none I ever saw), I sat behind a checkered stone table amidst some curling vines and foliage. It was a cold day in fall and I was in a light jacket. There was little privacy, and cars passed by not too far off. Nervous and paranoid, I took out a small bag of extremely potent, smelly and arguably laced kush.

I smoked it quickly out of a crusty black one-hitter (a small metal pipe resembling a crack pipe in shape and size and, ultimately, the smoker’s demeanor when in use) that I had borrowed from the seller of the weed; a habitual smoker himself with long hair and stubble to boot, occasionally wearing a hat bearing Rastafarian colors.

After inhaling the smoke and coughing vigorously, the drug began to take effect not a minute later and not at a more inconvenient time when I had walked over to a nearby deli to buy a drink. Paying at the counter, blotches of color began to cover the cashier’s face. I remember clearly: a bright yellow, scratchy blotch, it’s shape not unlike that of a country or state.

Later, as the images in my school textbooks fractaled before me, my mother would ask if I was alright, to which I responded that I may be coming down with a cold; and I certainly looked ill . The poor dear, she did not deserve the following years of drug-related shenanigans, and perhaps I didn’t either.

All just memories of harrowing Autumns. The season is not to blame.

“Who goes there?” my landlord questioned playfully, hiding what was most likely minor annoyance at being interrupted. It was ten o’clock at night on a Tuesday and as he stood in the door I could faintly hear the TV from upstairs.

“I’m sorry, Mister B!” I replied, feeling like a dumb child. “I seemed to have locked myself out!” And in almost the same breath: “Also, the garage door is jammed.”

He then hung his head, feigning a more annoyed response with a sigh that bore both real and comic distress; a reaction that came with the temperance that only a patient father of three could have mastered, imaginably through much practice.

“Let’s go take a look”, he said, or something to that effect, and then crossed the threshold of the relatively clean doorway onto the porch in ankle socks soon to be sullied by the outer elements. The wearer seemed to neither notice this detail nor care, even as he came down the porch steps and set foot on concrete. I can’t remember if he had the obligatory barefoot-on-pavement waddle or tip-toe, but either way, nothing short of a cactus would have caused a misstep.

I followed behind, and, having shoes on, know I had no waddle of my own, but nonetheless felt like a naive duckling behind a determined drake, having perhaps destroyed the nest in some idiotic way.

Prior to the garage ordeal, I had went grocery shopping, commuting to the supermarket by way of racing bike. As I left the house, I couldn’t help wondering what it was I forgot. I then realized it was my bike chain, and quickly retrieved it. But it was only later, after having purchased two steaks, chicken breast, a gallon of iced tea, half a gallon of tomato juice, spaghetti and jar of tomato sauce did I realize that I was carrying a good deal of bags and a backpack would have been really quite useful.

I then mentally crossed my fingers and hoped I could get away with riding with it all on my handlebars, but a minor detail seemed to prevent that, at least in the traditional style: the handlebars on a racing bike curve down. I stared at my bike for almost a minute, confronted with a round hole and a square peg. I suspected a man not very far from me, leaning against the window of a pizzeria, to be watching it all, but after looking over at him again I realized that the empty space in the air before him was thankfully of much more importance. We did exchange a brief glance, however, but his dark, far-away eyes, reminiscent of a hard-drug user’s or perhaps of a small animal’s, saved me the trouble of having to nervously smile with embarrassment.

Finally I put my groceries over the brake cables, hoping I would not be left with a fixie braking system by the end of the night. It seemed to work, and after a few push-offs, I was on my way. Fortunately, the distance was not great, and I took my time, monitoring my groceries as they brushed against the spokes, which weakened the fragile membrane of one of the bags. I tried to correct this problem by leaning to one side, but naturally it was impossible to ride in such a manner without driving into traffic, and so I would have to resume my original posture, only to lean again; I repeated this, bee-lining, hoping I could minimize the chances of what turned out to be inevitable.

A noticeable popping sound, onomatopoeically a “pah” or a “pwah” (considering it was from an air-sealed jar), resounded, which was followed immediately, if not spontaneously, by the sound of shattering glass.

Believe it or not, I still don’t consider myself a poet, despite what I then uttered to myself: “the sauce is a loss.” I do not know where these words came from, but they seemed to be reflexive; If I had dropped a baguette, I most likely would have pronounced it deceased with equal rhythm.

I made it home, imagining myself limping. I made sure to take inventory of my groceries the moment I got in, in hopes that if by any chance I had been hemorrhaging food all the way (as I did not dare to stop during the moment of crisis, should anyone be watching), I at least had the steaks and the now-bereaved cousin, tomato juice.

Fortunately it was all there, sans sauce, and I then made my way to the garage to put my bike away and proceed to cook myself a late dinner.

And then I jammed the garage door.

I had also forgotten my keys in the house, so I was forced to ring the bell despite many cartoonish tries involving my full body weight at fixing the garage without waking or bothering anyone. I kept expecting to see someone looking out their window to see who was burglarizing their next door neighbor, but no one seemed interested.

Eventually, the handle of a hedge trimmer proving useless, Mr. B then pried the door loose with a crowbar and small push from myself. I apologized for the hundredth time and we parted ways, having bonded as landlord and tenant.