Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Dwelling Part 1

The Dwelling
I didn’t expect for things to change that day. I was almost done with the book, sort of dancing around the last few pages in the hour that I had left in study hall. Gail was in the library. She would always decide that there was some sort of valid research to do on days that I simply felt like reading a book, sitting alone by myself. The two of us were good like that. We were friends that knew we couldn’t always handle one another. She would need her library days, and I would need mine filled with the satisfaction of reading about similar feelings on death and isolation.
It wasn’t as if I felt completely out of place anymore. I was seventeen, a junior, with a license at the beginning of the year, and yet no car to use it with. In this sense, the thought of being somewhat impressive to all those who would only be around for the most minimal of time periods anyway, was one that managed to live in a divine place of lost reality in the back indexes of my mind. In any case, it wasn’t as if having a car of my own would have changed anything. Ferris Bueller got laid without a car and a best friend with issues, and yet I wasn’t somebody who even came close to his particular understanding of the world, especially at seventeen. No instead of planned excursions in the nearby big city (there weren’t any even reasonably close, but rather spots closer to civilization and those farther away in my small town) I instead planned out how to spend the weekend if there wasn’t some form of fliered recklessness happening.
I would sit in my basement, listen to old records, play video games, possibly steal some beer from Dave’s fridge, or tap into the full liquor cabinet located right next to the entertainment stand that was only occasionally visited by my mother when there was a free enough moment to blink in her life. Dave wouldn’t notice the beer missing. He never drank it. It was more so there as a party supply. There were imports regularly available for him to impress business partners, and some domestic for the Cretans. I hated my stepfather in the grandest sense of the word, and yet considering that the two of us had grown beyond used to each other in the past ten years, it didn’t matter much if a few things went missing. He owed it to me.
Lucas would come over, most likely, the two of us spending the time to get drunk and only talk about what other people were currently doing. We would eventually get so pissed at each other over what moves were cheaper, that one or the other would throw the controller, and the night would inevitably end. Either that, or I would sleep over at his house, and we would play video games in his computer room. It seemed as if my entire life was flashing before my eyes in a different series of rooms where I would spend time trying to focus on something that was less than worth it. And yet there weren’t necessarily other answers for me, out there, if there wasn’t a show happening that weekend, then there wasn’t something happening in my life.
That particular weekend at the beginning of November did manage to come together in the grandest senses of the word. I had already known about a show. It was Saturday, said to start at seven, but more than likely destined to start at eight-thirty. It was in a familiar location, Anderson firehall; a shithole in a terrible location. Our lives would become fixated there for a time, everybody drawn towards sounds of distorted fury.
I was by no means somebody who would consider themselves a punk. Punk seemed like something that died a long time ago, newly refined incarnations of what certain subjects thought or expected it to be, only seeming somewhat trite in their half-hearted attempts. In any case, there would be all the right prospects on that Saturday. The girls with all the right piercings and parental issues. There would be the ones angrier than most, running around in circles as they thought about what to say once they all stopped looking. There were those like Lucas and I. We didn’t consider ourselves anything. Emo was something that had become commercialized in tennis shoe ads, and while Indie seemed like a word that meant something, as each minor detail and lyric became more mainstream, the jocks making mix CDs with Jimmy Eat World and Lynyrd Skynyrd in similar occupancy while the girls latched onto the faded imagery of it all. He was cute in tight pants. I like it when he sings about doing cocaine. It makes him sound like a bad ass.
I was instead a hybrid. There were cool things intertwined with not so cool ones. Things that quickly gained hype, and those that would never truly fizzle. Old records held as much shelf space as new ones, and in this way, I would have things to talk about with her when the occasion arose. I knew that for sure. I was just waiting for some quaint feeling of circumstance. Something that told me, even if it were in a cold whisper, that things were on their way to being better. Good news existed, if only I had the time to think about such a notion. Instead I was slowly starting to drift off of the map. I needed to come to a few realizations about people I thought I knew, and furthermore to live life in a bigger way. Encloses spaces and basements with some solace are ideas that a man can only survive on for so long. Like Columbus, I needed to explore uncharted territory. Then again, he wasn’t looking for America, so much as a shortcut to somewhere else. I needed that shortcut, and lucky for me, Gail hadn’t gotten much work done in the library.

She walked back into the room with the largest smile I had seen on her face in awhile. It’s not as if Gail was ever the type to hate life, so much as she was used to its cruel verdict. We had become friends out of our lack of social skills, both stationed in the very back of the room for Earth Science, and having to pretend like we both cared. Through this, we fell into each other, and quickly her and Lucas did the same. We created our dynamic and it worked for the first two years. I consider those the golden years. We weren’t at all conflicted with who we were. It just made sense to dwell in our own absentmindedness, and attempt to forget about each long and painstaking day with a vital and highly reliable session of bitching in one of our houses. I had the basement, Lucas the computer room, and Gail her living room. Both parents worked the late shift at the hospital. They would only all see each other on weekends. She always had problems sleeping in that house.
I became the same way once Dave bought something bigger. All of my childhood had been spent wondering a backyard and structure that I had acquired all of the secrets of through my own sense of conquest. There wasn’t one section, one stair with a small creak in it that I didn’t know about. And then all of a sudden one day they decided to move. I was farther away from Lucas, but closer to the video store. I rented everything R rated, and attempted to figure out my disposition. High school happened and Gail treated it like a disease. I found out that she was in walking distance. It made things easier, and yet there were different ways of discovering. Instead of making paths through bushes that needed trimmed, I would instead try to think of the easiest way to walk from her house to my house under the influence. It became something like a level. There were many diversions, and yet I perfected it those first two years.
However, our quaintness was on the way out. She came back from a summer at camp, (a concept that still puzzles me to this day. Since when do sixteen-year-olds get sent off to camp?) a newer version of her former self. Her breasts were as big as they were before, and yet she had lost weight. I saw some of them noticing on our first day back, and they continued to notice until the very breaking point. She had always had plans before that Friday. We had made them together. There was usually an excursion to some distant locale in our parents’ cars where a band was fine-tuning their guitars for another three-chord progression, and yet that morning nothing was coming to mind for the night. Instead, it looked as if we were all free, but more importantly than not, Gail was.
There was no doubt in my head that she had been thinking about possibly falling into their quaint little world. After all, we only had two years left, why not explore the unseen, take in another view of the world, one more full of diminishing traits and fully tapped steel outlets for shedding the prospects of youth. I was older and so was she. It didn’t make sense for us to continue our walks in all the glory that was our original anti-social nature. No, instead we all needed that stepping stone, that clean cut path to the true manifestations of ourselves, and Gail was more than happy about it. I knew that from the second she walked in. I couldn’t stop thinking about how she was carrying herself. It didn’t effect her anymore, and I was on my way to being on the right kind of warpath.
She set her notebook down and sighed. It wasn’t a normal sigh for Gail, but rather like one you hear in movies after the key scene happens. I didn’t look up from my book at first. I attempted to act like I didn’t care, and yet knew that it was a changing scene all of a sudden. It was something that was no longer simply talked about it. It was going places.
“Hello again.”
“Did Kratzer kick you out again?”
“No actually, I decided to come back down to talk to you about something.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
“So we really didn’t have plans for tonight, did we?”
“No, not really. I think I was gonna go over to Lucas’ and tell you about it, why?”
“Well, I know about something going on.”
“Really, what’s that?”
“Nick Tipton just invited me to his kegger, Henry.”
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah, and he flirted with me. He’s totally into me. Isn’t that weird? I mean, can you believe it?”
“Uh yeah, I guess. I mean, your boobs are bigger now.”
“And that’s what it is, you think?”
“Yeah, most likely. I mean, Nick dated Cynthia Barton last year. That’s what he’s into.”
“Well, in any case, I think he’s probably into me for a lot of other reasons.”
“Somehow I doubt it, but whatever you wanna think Gail.”
“Jesus, are you gonna stop being a prick, so we can talk about this in an adult fashion?”
“Sure, okay.” I set my book down, letting the last few pages linger. I didn’t really care to think about what was going to happen in the end quite yet.
“Alright, so I’m invited to a keggar, which means finally a Friday night spent somewhere other than one of our houses.”
“Well, that’s great for you Gail. Really. I’m glad your boobs are big enough now to warrant some kind of popularity.”
“You’re an asshole, and he said you and Lucas can come too.”
“Really?”
“Yes, really. I made sure to ask about it because I knew the two of you would throw hissy fits if I couldn’t get you in.”
“Well yeah, that’s sort of true.”
“I know it is.”
“So, we’re all going to a keggar tonight then?”
“Yes we are.”
“Shit… Eve’s gonna be there, isn’t she?”
“Yeah, most likely.”
“How do you suppose I handle that?”
“I suggest you go and get really drunk. The rest should work itself out.”
“That’s what I was thinking too.”
“Well good, then we’re on the same page once again.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” My stomach instantly sank as I began to think about the inclination of possibilities. Eve Cardellino, my number one pick in girls from high school I would date, have sex with, marry, beat someone up over, lose in a fight for, attempt to survive the apocalypse with, and think about in the bathroom with a locked door and nothing but old Playboys in Dave’s stash. He never noticed those being gone either.
She would be at the party, most likely wearing something new, or borrowed. She was single again. Her former boyfriend Vince Percinsky had broken up with her right before tunneling off to college across the state, but not before getting head from Randy Loren’s little sister in the back of his BMW on the fourth of July. These were the things that spread like wildfire, even to the far reaches of my tight little outside circle. High school was a newscast of rumors and jaded looks, and like a bad reality TV show, I hated being involved in the process of the characters finding themselves, yet couldn’t switch to the next channel. I had seen so many things ten times over again already anyways.
Of course, the fact that she was going to be at the party was only a small minimal portion of it. We knew each other in the vaguest sense of the word. A few classes taken, a few words spoken, some conversations not fully realized, and ultimately never enough time to make a lasting impression. Yet I felt sparks and she had to know that I could never even think about being anything other than completely in love with her. I wasn’t one to make friends or play it cool. She probably knew. I was always nervous during our exchanges. She could tell. I knew that she could tell. However, for some sort of reason, I thought that none of it mattered. Just so long as we were in the right locale, it would become what I had always hoped it would be.
Needless to say I had become rather proper at building a world filled with all of my own personal shades of disillusionment. Eve and I had it all at one point. She sat in front of me in sophomore English. I thought about our carelessness in the real world. How I would be successful in some sort of excursion and she would be the one at my side, wearing something far too expensive and waving like all the rest. I needed to get out of the house that weekend, out of the mindset, and above all else out of my own skin.
Gail and I discussed the repercussions of what our Friday night could turn into. She was more the smitten with the idea of Nick being into her to the point where he would at least except some kind of sexual encounter before moving on to the next prospect, and for some strange reason I was okay with it too. Nick using Gail simply meant that if the chance did occur, possibly Eve would use me, and I was ready to be used. It didn’t need to be something like the fantasy. I simply wanted something to talk about for once. We walked off in different directions at the end of study hall. Our lockers were both far away from everything. I saw Eve in the hall and gave her a small smirk as she said hello. We had become those kinds of people, and it meant something. I waited for Lucas outside of the chorus room. He was late as usual.

“Seriously?”
“Yeah dude, apparently Nick wants to jump Gail’s bones, and so that means we’re in.”
“Well this is quite the development. I thought we were doing jack shit tonight.”
“Me too. Isn’t this fucking awesome?”
“Yeah, I guess. I mean, no doubt there are gonna be at least a few drunken prospects.”
“That’s exactly what I was thinking.”
“You were thinking about Eve.”
“Well yeah, but that’s beside the point. I mean, if shit falls through with her, then I’m down for somebody else.”
“Well look at you. I’ve never heard you talk like this before. You’re really building yourself up for a letdown.”
“Yeah, I know, but as my best friend, you really shouldn’t be the one telling me this Lucas.”
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right with that one.”
“And besides, I think I probably have a better chance with Eve then you do with whoever you’re thinking about.”
“I don’t know who I’m thinking about, which makes tonight seem full of possibilities.”
“Definitely.” I looked inside the room to once again see a disheveled Ms. Gallows walk out of her office, ready to force us into singing the same three notes over and over again until we got them right. It seemed a bit tedious, practicing for a concert that didn’t amount to much other than an event that our parents didn’t have to pay for, and that most of them would more than likely fall asleep at. It was an easy out, though. There wasn’t much to it, except for the higher educational concept of learning how to deal with Ms. Galloway on a daily basis. It made prison seem breezy and the future a distant thought in my head. Time would tick slower for awhile.
“Well, the rats out of the cage.”
“Shit, let’s go in. We’ll discuss future possibilities later.”
“Good call.” Lucas and I fell in line and sung parts we knew too well. I couldn’t focus on much of anything, though. There were too many pieces floating around all of a sudden, so many notions to consider. I had a problem choosing a number at lunch as Lucas pulled into the drive-thru. We were always out of school early on Fridays. It made things more comfortable for all those subjected to spending the majority of their time in those faded hallways. That particular day had been more unbearable than usual. There was a pep rally full of recycled routines, all of which didn’t boost school spirit, but rather spite towards all of those who continued to think subjecting all of us to such a diminishing feeling of livelihood was a good idea. Lucas, Gail and I sat in the top row of the bleachers, pretending like we didn’t care.
I looked at the tracks on a mix Lucas had made, and was simply waiting to hear once we were in the car. Gail mostly kept her eyes fixated across the gym at Nick and his friends. They were good at faking interest, and yet also breathed in the dysfunction that propelled our school to a position of power over all others in the region. We enjoyed building ourselves up. We liked pretending that there was such a thing as self-esteem. It made losses easier to live with, and there was no doubt that that Saturday afternoon would be a loss. We always lost. It became as ritualistic as the pep rallies; the boosters sold, and the ads bought in publications that only offered statistics and quotes of faces full of too many mass assumptions. They would be at Nick’s on Friday, though. All of them would be there.
I didn’t see or look for Eve in the gym. I didn’t want to ruin what potential there was. She was probably flirting with somebody or at least having them attempt to flirt with her. Most were bad at it. I was excruciatingly bad at it, but that didn’t necessarily mean that I would give up. I knew about things. Things some could readily consider cool. This was my niche. I knew where it would go. I just needed time to think about it more, or possibly less.
“I don’t know if it’s gonna come together like that tonight man.” Lucas chomped on his hamburger as I took a sip from my diet Pepsi. My mother was always buying diet for some reason. It’s not like anybody in the house needed it except for Dave and he didn’t drink soda anyway.
“Well, it’s gotta in some way. I mean, I’ll make a mix, and just casually slip it on. That’ll do it.”
“You’re gonna attempt to impose your musical tastes on all the popular douchebags of our lonesome high school?”
“Yeah, why? Do you think that’s a bad idea?”
“I don’t know how they’re gonna take to it. I mean, what are you thinking?”
“Pixies, Bob, Pavement, maybe Built to Spill, Bright Eyes. I don’t know. I haven’t finalized any set playlist yet.”
“Well that’s good. You should probably just forget about it then.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s not gonna help ya get the girl Henry.”
“You don’t think.”
“Dude, the music we listen to isn’t there to help us get the girl. It’s there to help up deal with the idea of not getting the girl.”
“You’re right.”
“I know, but fuck it man. I mean, make it anyway. Maybe when everyone passes out you can try to swoon her with Cat Power or some shit.”
“That’d be good.”
“Yeah, definitely. Maybe ‘Fade Into You’ too.”
“That’d be a good ender.”
“I know. I’m thinking in terms of my own night as well.”
“You haven’t even picked a notion yet.”
“Well we’ll see who appeals to me.”
“What if no one does?”
“Then my life’s not gonna change all that much. I mean, there’s always the show tomorrow.”
“That’s a good point.” We continued to spend our afternoon like we thought our night would be. The basement and records, followed by dinner at his house. Mrs. Mills always cooked. It was the most practical part of her repertoire, which carried with it all the right kinds of vices. She handed us a joint before Gail picked us up in her mother’s green Ford. Nick didn’t live that far away from Lucas, and yet it almost seemed as if it had gotten too cold out to simply walk there. We were all preparing for some form of hibernation, and in a sense, paring off for the long winter that was ahead of us. It was easier if plans were simplified when the roads were bad. There would be a point A. and then B. Most likely her house followed by mine, or maybe a movie. In any case, it wasn’t going to be nearly as cluttered, or at least that’s what I hoped.
I could feel all our nerves in the car as “Get Me Away from Here, I'm Dying” played over the stereo. It was a normal pick for all our mixes. This one was Gail’s and it meant something. Mine was in my right sweatshirt pocket, stationed in case of the right outlet, or possible emergency. It was something to listen to alone in a room, and if anything else, it would carry out that particular advantage at some point in its own quaint existence.
“This is funny, what all of us are doing right now.”
“No, it’s not. This is what people normally do Henry.”
“I’m really high.”
“Yeah, me too man. Me too.”
“Man, I’m glad I didn’t smoke. I don’t know how I’d handle Nick.” Gail was already so close to being a distant figure in the vast abyss of our former high school manifesto.
“You don’t think you could handle him stoned?”
“I can’t handle much of anything stoned, with maybe the exception of you guys.”
“Well, okay. Of course, I don’t think he’s really gonna care all that much.”
“What do you mean?”
“He means that Nick Tipton just wants to hook-up in which case you could talk to him about garden hoses and he’d pretend like he was interested.” Lucas managed to sum it up better than I ever could.
“You both honestly think this is just a one-time thing, don’t you?”
“Well you’re not seriously considering dating him or some shit, are you?”
“I don’t know. I’m gonna see how the night goes. I mean, it’s not like you wouldn’t date Eve if the rare occasions arose.”
“Yeah, that’s true, but I’ve sort of given up on the fantasy, Gail.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, I’m more so looking for something temporary in Eve.”
“Bullshit.”
“Whatever you say.” The three of us remained quiet until she pulled into the driveway. A few cars were following the trend set earlier of pulling into the yard. Gail followed suit as we saw Stacie Hall and Julia Curtis walk past her car, giving their typical stuck-up looks of disapproval. We instantly felt out of place as more car lights peaked in through Gail’s back window before finding their own parking spots in the middle of everything.
“Alright, let’s go in.”
“Okay, fine.”
“Guys, just try not to embarrass me, okay?”
“Fuck you. Don’t embarrass us.” Lucas was on the defensive.
“Yeah, really.”
“How could I possibly even attempt to embarrass you?”
“By getting too drunk, throwing up everywhere, talking to people like Eve about how I’m sort of in love with her. Any shit like that.”
“I’m not gonna go there Henry.”
“Well okay, then I guess we’re all cool.”
“Yeah, I guess so. What about you Lucas?”
“Hey, I’m coming here with no intentions with the exception of getting hammered. So I think I’m better off than the both of you.”
“Alright fine, let’s go then.” Gail was taking the leadership position for once in her life, and it seemed almost beyond fitting. We stepped out of the car and started walking towards the house. I had never seen it before. The Tipton’s had managed to find one of the most perfect of locales for drunken high school festivities. It was on a back road, on top of a hill, mostly surrounded by woods; the sounds of supposed normalcy only being further hushed by the location. It was manifest destiny, and the three of us had finally found where the right place to settle was.
Gail stepped up to the front door, the two of us mere statues of tension behind her. She rang the bell as Nick answered in an instant. It was a scene all its own. People were intertwined in the fixtures, all managing to start earlier than us, and not necessarily the better because of it. He held a red plastic cup and a look of moderate success. Lucas and I tried our best to handle the situation with doses of regular exposure. It didn’t help that the joint had sunk in instantly. Things became flashier as they passed from one room to the other.
“Hey, you guys made it.”
“Yeah, we did.”
“Well awesome, come in. You didn’t have to ring the bell. I mean, it’s a party.”
“Sorry.”
“No, it’s not big deal.” Gail followed Nick in as Lucas and I gave each other a look before following suit. Nick led her into the living room where Dr Dre was pouring out of a state-of-the-art sound system. A few girls in tight tops that only demonstrated the idea that something such as colder weather had not effect on their own faded senses of self, danced in the middle of everything; an overabundance of male spectators, some from our high school, members of various team, others Nick’s older brother Kurt’s friends, who hadn’t become fully functioning members of suburban society after graduation, but rather more so continued to frequent the same parties. They were responsible for the keg in the basement, and so in that respect I couldn’t necessarily be too judgmental. It was just a strange enough scene to walk in on.
“So do you guys want the tour or…?”
“Uh yeah, sure.” Gail couldn’t contain herself, all the attention starting to overwhelm even us, as Lucas and I rolled our eyes in unison.
“Okay, sweet.” We walked out of the living room, away from the spectacles and into other spaces large enough to hold multiple appliances and possibly stuffed African game if Mr. Tipton was that type of person. The kitchen was mostly dead, with the exception of a few half-hearted attempts at conversation from Nick’s friend James, hitting on some sophomore. The bedrooms were not yet full. There were several empty ones, for guests, and those drunk enough to stop worrying about what was going on downstairs. Part of me started to stake out potential crash spots, and yet it was over-zealous thinking. She wasn’t anywhere in sight. Like most beautiful anomalies she would arrive late with a crew of guardians, all eventually getting drunk enough to branch off, and yet the overabundance of libidos surrounding us began to sink in. I would have to act fast, and with just the right amount of grace and repetition.
The basement seemed a bit more alive. There were other females unwinding and leaning against boys sitting on couches. The keg sat in the back corner, still full of enough life to bring Lucas and I into a more blurry perspective of supposed high school normalcy. Gail walked back upstairs with Nick to get liquor as we both took cups and headed for the keg. It was cheap, and looked like dehydrated piss, yet we were both content enough to drink it and find a corner to plant a flag in. The first cup went down the roughest of all, but by the second things had begun to pick up.
“She’s still not here yet.”
“Yeah, I know Henry. Did you honestly expect somebody like Eve Cardellino to show up on time to one of these things?”
“I thought there was a possibility of it. I mean, what the hell else is she doing?”
“Sitting alone in her house, thinking about how much her not being here is having an effect on you.”
“I wish.”
“Yeah, I know. Don’t worry about it. She’ll be here, unless she’s going to some college party or some shit tonight. Ya never know with attractive high school girls. They always seem to have some kind of other plans.”
“So I hear.” I looked around the room again, hoping for some sort of answer. She would be a vision when she arrived; making the most divine of entrances, and yet I knew this was destructive thinking. It was just a party. A normal thing. I was stationed in the background of a John Hughes’ movie, and there were other things currently taking place. Conversations with parents about the future, joints being smoked in the back of the library, late night excursions with the prom queen and a Rolls Royce, these were all things that would occur in towns like ours. It wasn’t too small or too large to be anything other than a scene shown edited for cable on a Saturday morning.
“What if she’s upstairs?”
“Impossible. The keg’s down here.”
“For some reason I don’t see somebody like Eve drinking out of the keg.”
“You’re right Henry. It’s probably champagne and caviar upstairs.”
“Could be.”
“Listen, just play it cool for once in your life. I mean, that’s what I’m doing.”
“Yeah, but you’re not necessarily going for everybody.”
“My girl for the night will find me.”
“You think?”
“Oh yeah, definitely. That’s how these things work. You gotta wait for them to get sort of drunk first, and then bored with the typical conversation on sports and youtube videos, before the decide to wander into the depths and talk to people like us.”
“I think I’m gonna go upstairs.”
“Fine, but you’re making some kind of huge mistake man.”
“Whatever you say Lucas.” I refilled my cup and walked back up. It was somewhat different, a few new faces intertwined with not so familiar ones. Gail sat alone in the living room, on the couch, a glass with brown liquid in hand. I walked over and decided to check in, trying not to notice others other than her, or have them notice me.
“So how are you holding up?”
“I’m fine. Nick’s just talking to some other people.”
“And you’re waiting here for him?”
“Yeah, he said he’d be right back.”
“Well, this is a pathetic scene Gail.”
“Shut-up. It isn’t a big deal, and besides I’d say the possibility of me getting some action tonight is much better than you and Lucas combined.”
“Yeah, I guess. Whatever though. Eve isn’t even here yet.”
“And when she is?”
“Then I’ll play it by ear. At least I’m not the guy sitting alone a couch.”
“Well, I’d say you are now.” Gail stood up from the couch with a fury. I could see her defensiveness in plain view, painted elegantly with the make-up that Lucas and I weren’t used to. Things weren’t the same all of a sudden, and I couldn’t just sit back and make fun of it like before. This was something she cared about, and in that respect we would always start by drawing are own separations.
“You’re ditching me?”
“It’s a party. It’s about time we were social.” She walked through the room, past the girls still fighting for attention. Some guys were in the thick of it now, spilling beer on the floor and laughing hysterically. I felt weird watching. It didn’t seem like something I could stare at from a living room couch. I stood up quickly. More than likely Lucas would still be downstairs, waiting for someone to make their way over to him. I walked past pictures of Nick’s family. They all had their issues, and yet were good at faking it for the camera. I wished I were the same way. I walked past a few pictures being taken that night. If someone looked at them now, I would be that person in the background, somewhat discontent, and also very high on flashing lapses in judgement. It wasn’t my nature to be permanent anywhere other than my bedroom. I always managed to stock it full of nuts for the winter.
More hapless wanderers had migrated down into the basement as I could see there was a line for the keg. Lucas remained in the same place. It was his moon landing, and yet there was somebody else present. Phoebe Shetler stood leaning against the wall next to him, as drunk as the rest of us were. I all of a sudden felt more than alone in the bigger picture. There were persons upstairs and all around that I could attempt to start conversations with, and yet it wouldn’t be for any supreme purpose.
With Eve in the back of my head, it all seemed like the highest of conquests. I reveled in the fact that I was setting such a high standard for myself. If anything else, it allowed the thoughts of dreams shattering into blackness seem more dramatic. Phoebe looked like an easy out clause, and yet I wasn’t at all resentful of the fact. Lucas’ plan had worked conveniently. She found him and they would pretend to relate to one another. If anything else, that’s what I wanted to do with Eve.
I didn’t need further inclinations of possibilities, and at the same time I could see myself not caring all that much later if it didn’t happen. She was in a different world, and while drawing parallels seemed like something that would inevitably happen; I wanted her to make the crossover. I wanted Eve to be my girlfriend so I could have somebody to stand next to during sets. I wanted her to make mixes that rivaled my own, and above all else, I wanted her to be cool with everything else. I had my own addictions, and yet I saw her grasping onto them like confetti at a parade.
We would be good for each other, if anything else to at least show the other what it was like on another side. I hated the separations and yet they were always there. It wasn’t a fictionalized thing, but rather something we all came to accept. People had their uses, and I was just the person at the party whose friend was sleeping with the host. Those were the majority of the looks that surfaced that night, and yet I saw things differently as I walked back upstairs. It was a smile of the highest earth-shattering quality. I saw myself sinking and eventually ending up in some sort of parallel dimension where things were almost the same, but didn’t have as much of a sting to them. She would be the surprise that I forgot to look for.

“Well, I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“That’s the first thing you say to me?” I moved away from the basement stairs and stationed myself on the other side of the wall next to her. She held a glass like Gail’s, filled with some variation of a mixture. My beer was full, and I felt like saying everything. People walked by us on their way to other stations of the house. The living room was a place to view the most drunken of actions. Crowds of raging hormones encircled certain sophomores with cameras and phones, taking pictures of them making-out for all kinds of the wrong attention; two girls with no significant answers in front of them. Older girls stood off to the sides, silently judging, words flying around from bumper to bumper. They are so slutty. What the fuck is wrong with people? I didn’t think Greg was into that kind of shit.
The kitchen and basement were there for refueling. The sound of the keg slowly drying up filtered up the wooden stairs. I would be stealing soon; hiding sips from whatever can was available, in my left sweatshirt pocket. The mix was something I would soon forget about, as it didn’t seem like the right time to bring it up. I had to move things along in subtle standard motion. Things still needed to sink in for her.
I watched friends of friends walk past. Group partners from forced Science labs, and team members from my third grade basketball experience. Dave thought sports were a good idea. I tried to resist, soon figuring out that he simply wanted me out of the house for a long enough period of time to have sex with his wife. Needless to say, the pattern didn’t continue. I wasn’t talented in the least bit, and the concept of practice outside of the designated guidelines of team practices just seemed heinous and repetitive. Who runs drills at home? I would usually just try and find a place to hide.
“Sorry. I just didn’t expected to see you here. I mean, this isn’t necessarily your thing, is it Henry?”
“Well no, but Gail wanted to try something different so Lucas and I tagged along.”
“Well, I guess that makes you good friends.”
“Yeah, I suppose so.” The silence hit like a dust storm. It was slow and subtle. I could hear a new radio hit filtering in from the living room stereo into our spacious hallway. She was a new one, not nearly as slutty as some of the previous ones, but that just went along with the notion that she was only sixteen. It would eventually come full circle, everyone calling her a whore in the privacy of their own homes.
“So how’s that beer?”
“God awful.”
“Yeah, I can never drink beer. I always need some sort of liquor.”
“I kind of hate liquor.”
“Why’s that?”
“Several puking experiences.”
“Really? Are you gonna elaborate at all?”
“Well, during the summer Gail’s parents were gone, so we all got pretty trashed and then walked to the show at Coplin firehall, because it’s really close to her house, and I think we smoked too. I don’t remember.”
“What, pot?”
“Uh yeah.”
“I didn’t know you did that.”
“Really? I mean, I have been since last April.”
“Well, yeah I didn’t know. But continue, I guess.”
“Anyway we walked over, and I was drunker than I thought, and halfway through The Manageable Claws set, I ran outside and puked on the stairs.”
“Well that sounds embarrassing.”
“Yeah, it would’ve been if these two girls hadn’t puked a few feet away like ten minutes earlier.”
“So you lucked out?”
“Yeah, I guess I did.”
“So uh, who are The Manageable Claws?”
“You’ve never seen them?”
“No, I always see their name on fliers, though, before Mr. Grobin tears them down.”
“Fucking administration.”
“You said it.”
“They’re Josh Frick’s new band. Do you know who that is?”
“No.”
“Oh, well he goes to Northwood. His band before that was called Body Patrol.”
“I never heard of them either.”
“Yeah, I guess you wouldn’t have. Well Body Patrol was pretty bad ass. The Manageable Claws are better, I think.”
“Well, sweet. I need to go to a show one of these days.”
“Yeah, definitely. I mean, there’s one tomorrow at Anderson firehall. Do you know where that is?”
“Yeah, isn’t it like forty minutes away.”
“Yeah, about that. Anyway, I think Lucas is driving tomorrow, so if you wanna come, you can.”
“Oh yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I know I’m going to the game tomorrow, and then I’m not sure. I think Nick may be repeating this whole deal tomorrow night right after the game too.”
“Well, that’s cool I guess. I mean, I was sort of just planning on getting drunk tonight, and listening to punk rock tomorrow.”
“Well that sounds like a plan Henry.”
“Yeah, I guess.” She hadn’t come out and said no yet. It was something to consider, and possibly she would. A repeat of a similar night seemed like overkill to me. There was no point in being a drunken mess in the same location. We all needed to get out and look for the things that made it flow like vessels. I couldn’t spark her attention for much longer. Friends were yelling for her to get into a picture. People were jumping off furniture and turning up the volume in the living room. It all seemed like a headache. I glanced over as Gail and Nick made their way upstairs. We both looked at each other differently as she passed. I had lost faith in Gail somehow, and also in myself. I didn’t feel right about anything, and each time the front door open, I cringed a little bit.
I was in the hallway for what could have been five minutes or an hour before Lucas walked back up. He looked right over at me with a smile and an empty cup. Mine had run dry as well as the both of us searched for a solution.
“Holy shit man. It’s fucking crazy down there. Phoebe’s like all over my shit, and they’re playing like spin the bottle for some reason, and she totally shoved her tongue beyond far down my throat. It was like fucking ridiculous. I popped one like instantly.”
“Well that’s great Lucas. I’m glad you came up to talk about your erection.”
“Actually I was looking for more beer. The fucking keg’s kicked.”
“I figured.”
“But uh, what about you? Is Eve here?”
“Yeah, we briefly conversed. I told her about the show tomorrow. She said she was gonna consider it.”
“Well awesome. Planting the seed man, that’s good.”
“I guess…”
“No trust me. It is.”
“Gail just walked upstairs with Nick.”
“Really? Well that was quick.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Whatever, though. At least we’re fucking here in the middle of everything.”
“I suppose.” I didn’t know why everything was hitting me as depressing. I suppose it was just the kind of person I was. I was always the person to come to a supreme realization before making my way to feeling up a girl. It never came together, and I was always left somewhere in the dust. I followed Lucas into the living room, as we both spotted a case of beer on the floor, opened, and at least attempting to be hidden underneath a chair.
“We’re gonna take those.”
“Good call.”
“Just try to be stealthy about it, okay?”
“Will do.” I stepped down on the floor to tie by shoe, and sneaked a beer into the left pocket. Lucas just reached in and opened it right in middle of the living room. It appeared as if all those present were too hammered to notice something gone, and while we would later hear angry screaming through thick walls, it wouldn’t change much of anything in the long run. He walked back down into the basement as I searched for Eve. She was easy enough to find, stationed in the kitchen; sitting on the counter downing shots with Colin Minor. He was a senior, track runner, and more full of shit then I ever could be. Her friends enclosed the circle as I sighed to myself. There was a line for the bathroom in the hallway. I opened the back door and walked out.
The night was clear. The sky had a few white clouds floating over a moon that lit the backyard like a spotlight. I walked towards the woods, noticing how I was stumbling a little with each set of steps. I took sips in-between branches and ultimately found the right tree to relieve myself behind. I was zipping up again when I saw her run out and vomit in the nearby bush. Jane Leonard had crossed over awhile ago. We were more than acquaintances once, slow dancing at middle school dances, and at one point spending a day of mindless hanging out in the mall. She was with Joyce Feiser; I was with Lucas. Following are typical middle school excursions, she downshifted into a brand new crowd that was just forming. Those with older brothers and richer parents, all offering some kind of solace for the summer before high school. She fell right in, and although we would occasionally talk in selective situations like gym class, Jane Leonard somehow managed to go the way of the Sega Genesis before my very eyes.
I zipped and walked out into the yard. It was a lot of puke as she finished coughing up the rest of it. I felt more sober with each glimpse into reality. It would all ware off in a matter of time, the alcohol, intoxication, infatuations, and falsified fantasies about where we could all end up in four years. I wasn’t going to see any of them again. That was for sure. The party was just a way for somebody such as myself to dabble in different ritualistic practices. It was like learning how to grow corn from the Indians before slaughtering every aspect of their culture. I was picking up on the right notions, figuring out how one should act if such an occasion should happen to fall into my lap again.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m not sure. I think I need a second.”
“Well okay. Do you want me to go in?”
“I don’t even know who I’m talking to.”
“It’s Henry, Webb.” She looked up at my face, wiping away some leftover residue.
“Oh, well… What are you doing here?”
“Gail’s currently fooling around with Nick.”
“No shit. Since when?”
“Tonight.”
“Well, things move pretty fast anymore.
“You said it.” She stood up slightly embarrassed as I breathed in heavy. It was colder out. I could see my breath floating away with each word spoken. It was like all my own personal vices and convictions were drifting away, and instead I was stuck in some sort of bizarre parallel universe where everything came back together again, but not in a way that it normally fit, but rather in a way that only further prevented it from coming back together again. I hadn’t spoken to Jane for some time. Our homeroom conversations had been predominately about other people, or possibly TV shows we watched on weeknights. Life as a middle school student offered with it fewer complications.
If I could go through a day avoiding getting my ass kicked by the ones that smoked in the bathroom, or ridiculed for my own lack of knowledge on subjects of little worth in the grand scheme of things (sex, drugs and the perception of what thirteen years of angst had to do with the first two) then I would consider it a good day. This concept became blurry in high school, and not just for me, but for all of us. Jane was somebody I used to know, and now she was someone coming back to the ground with bloodshot eyes and stained clothes. It wasn’t what I thought would happen to us; both so involved in the contrast that we forgot how much of a simple thing it used to be.
“Man, I’ve never seen you at one of these things before.”
“Yeah, that’s what Eve said.”
“Eve Cardellino?”
“Do you know any other Eves?”
“No, I guess not. Were you trying to get with her tonight or something?”
“Yeah, kind of. Fuck, I don’t know. It’s not like it was gonna go anywhere. She’s inside probably fooling around with Colin.”
“You really think?”
“They were flirting in the kitchen.”
“Oh. Well that sucks. I was sort of hoping to get with Colin tonight.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, we have Trig together. He’s always flirting with me. I guess I fucked it up, though. I got too drunk. I didn’t even get the chance to attempt to be slutty.”
“Well, that’s too bad.”
“Yeah, I guess. Did you drive here?”
“No, Gail did, and she’s probably sleeping over which means I’m gonna have to walk back.”
“You live pretty fucking far Henry.”
“You still remember where I live. Well that’s funny.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Nothing, don’t worry about it Jane.”
“No, I was just sort of curious. What’s with all the overabundant animosity?”
“I don’t know. I guess it’s just weird, the more and more I think about it.”
“What is?”
“Me being here, happening to run into you, puking in the backyard. It’s sort of surreal, is all.” She looked at me like it was all different. I suppose I wasn’t being as sympathetic as I should have been. Of course, it didn’t matter. We all had our plans and priorities. They would fall through eventually in the grandest sense of the word, and yet she didn’t need to hear my highly skeptical view of the world that she felt somewhat settled in, her best friends abandoning her for fuller cups of coffee and hands grazing uncharted regions of blouses.
“What the fuck’s your problem Henry?”
“I’m sorry?”
“Why are you always such an asshole? I mean, Jesus I feel like you’ve been negative ever since high school.”
“Well yeah, that’s true Jane.”
“Yeah, but why? I mean, I don’t get what you’re anti-social thinking-outside-of-the-box point of view is getting you.”
“It’s not getting me anywhere. I don’t know. I just… I can’t help but feel like being here is just such a fucking drag.”
“Why, because you’re not making out with Eve right now?”
“Well yeah, I suppose that’s part of it.”
“And even if you were, do you think it would change much of anything?”
“I don’t know. What’s with the fucking interrogation all of a sudden?”
“I’m just trying desperately to figure you out?”
“Well don’t strain yourself Jane. It’s not like it’s some kind of big secret. I just hate most things.”
“Like drunken high school parties?”
“Yeah, I suppose that’s part of it.”
“Well then why did you come here?”
“Why did you come here? Why are you a regular at these fucking things?”
“I asked you first Henry.”
“I didn’t have anything better to do, and I figured Eve would be her, and despite the fact that I knew nothing big would happen, I couldn’t help but at least build up some sort of idealistic fantasy about the possibility of something worth it happening tonight.”
“Well, it’s like that with me, except there’s no Eve. It’s more so whoever seems interested.”
“Yeah, but I don’t understand that Jane. I mean, typically the guys, who are here, are assholes. How could you possibly consider falling for them?”
“I don’t know. Why are you all head over heels for Eve? She’s just like the rest of them.”
“I don’t think so. She’s different.”
“So are some of the others. You just can’t judge like this people your entire life.”
“Oh, well that’s some kind of fucking statement. You judged me the second we started getting into this. I should have just walked in, left you out here alone, puking your guts out. Maybe then you’d come close to having some sort of similar perspective to me.”
“I don’t wanna see things like you do Henry. We’re different people now. I grew up, and you’re still that loser who sits in the back row and reads comic books.”
“So what?”
“So, maybe if you weren’t such a loser, you’d fit in better.”
“Because you really fit in well here Jane. Jesus Christ, you were throwing up in the backyard five minutes ago. Nobody inside gave a shit.”
“I’m glad they don’t. I don’t wanna be embarrassed by it.”
“Well, what if I went in and told them?”
“They wouldn’t care. I’d just say you were full of shit and we’d go our separate ways again.”
“Because that’s how simple it all is, right?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“I hate being here.”
“Well then walk the five miles it takes you to get home.”
“I’m sleeping over at Lucas’. It’s not even a mile.”
“Oh.”
“Yeah…” We were both quiet for a few seconds.
“Sorry.”
“It’s okay. I am too.”
She smiled a little as I started to laugh. Jane and I walked back in together, seeing the death of our former conquests lip-locked in the corner of the kitchen by the sink. We moved out quickly, eventually ending up on the couch in the basement where people had already started to dissolve into the carpet. Some had left gracefully, finding the right dirt roads to drive down drunk. They would all make it home in one piece. It wasn’t as if everybody was watching and waiting for them to make mistakes. I sunk into the couch as Jane leaned against my stomach. We were tired and both coming down to a similar level.
“So are you still walking back?”
“I don’t know if I have the strength right now.”
“Well maybe take a nap. I think that’s what I’m gonna do. I’ll call somebody for a ride tomorrow.”
“I guess that works.”
“Yeah, it does.” I was starting to blink longer and with less frequency. She moved her back up against my stomach before the two of us settled in perfect synchronicity with one another. She was still somewhat uncomfortable though, and it hadn’t quite dawned on me yet.
“What’s in your sweatshirt? I can feel something.”
“Oh, uh… The CD.”
“What CD?” I pulled it out of my pocket and showed her its sparkle in the dim basement light.
“I made it for the party, but was too much of a pussy to put it on. I figured most people wouldn’t like it.”
“Well, you’re probably right.”
“Yeah, I know.” I set it down on the floor as she looked into my eyes.
“So, I’m sorry that things are so different now Henry.”
“It’s okay. It’s supposed to get this way, I think.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Her head came closer to mine as we kissed softly. She tasted like regurgitation, and yet I hid my disgust and continued to become more comfortable on the couch that had likely gotten more action than I could ever even come close to fathom. It was quick and I enjoyed. She fell asleep before I did. It felt like I had just drifted off into heavy-eyed perfection when Lucas tapped me on the shoulder, slightly.
“Dude, let’s walk back.” I opened my eyes disoriented.
“Uh… okay.’ I stood up, letting Jane’s head fall back on the pillow. She didn’t rise, but rather rolled over more comfortable. I took one last look at how beautiful she was before grabbing the CD from the ground and heading back up the stairs. The scene was much nicer as we walked out; a mess of bodies stationed in various positions on the floor, surrounded by all of their addictions, content with the night and all that it offered. The moon was still out as we started to walk back. It was still cold enough to see things pass.

“I’m exhausted. Why didn’t we just sleep there?”
“Because shit got weird. I didn’t wanna have to walk back by myself, and I wanna sleep in my own bed.”
“What shit got weird Lucas?”
“I got head from Phoebe tonight.”
“Fuck off, no way.”
“No, it happened. We started making-out, and then she gave me head in the bathroom.”
“That rules. It’s like fucking Fatal Attraction or some shit.”
“No, not really. After she… ya know, swallowed, she fucking puked everywhere.”
“Well, that happens.” I tried to hide the subtle smirk that was making its way to my face.
“I guess.”
“Jane was throwing up when I found her in the backyard.”
“And then you made-out with her afterwards?”
“Yeah, how’d you guess?”
“I just sort of figured, judging by the scene on the couch.”
“Well yeah, we did. It wasn’t too spectacular, just something we were settling on.”
“Well whatever. It’s not a big deal. At least we all kind of hooked-up tonight.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It’s weird that we’re not talking to Gail about this right now.”
“Yeah, I know. She’ll find out sooner or later.”
“I guess so, but you never told me what you did about Paige after she threw up.”
“Oh, uh Wendy gave her a ride home, and I came and found you.”
“Well that’s some story Lucas.”
“Yeah, I suppose. It’s weird. I mean, I don’t really see it going anywhere other than tonight. I feel like if I talk to her about it on Monday at school or something that she’ll get all freaked out.”
“Yeah, I know. I don’t think much is gonna happen with Jane either. It was just one of those circumstance make-outs.”
“Those are the best.”
“I guess.” The walk seemed farther than before. The two of us were still reasonably drunk, and beyond tired. There was more to think about then to talk. A few cars passed with speed, both of us somewhat tensing up, the thought of having to deal with suburban pigs in our weakened condition seeming beyond tedious. The light was still on in Lucas’ house as we walked in the front door and locked it behind us. Both of us pissed out the rest of the lingering alcohol in our stomachs before retiring to separate rooms. I shut my eyes and yet sleep didn’t resurface quite yet. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the entire situation. Eve and Jane were lingering in their own elegant fashions, while Gail was most likely packing a bag and heading off to another settlement. It was all becoming a different form. I tried to focus on other things. Sex with celebrities or idealistic fantasies set in the not too distant future where I managed to figure it all out before the rest. I would walk into banquet halls, the finest dressed, order the most expensive thing on the menu and think about what it used to be like.
They would see me at bars ordering rounds for my new friends, or driving something that I hated but enjoyed in the same vain sense because it was just flashy enough to spark newfound interest. I couldn’t drift away in the night, or stay and dwell in my own perfected stance. Things wouldn’t necessarily be better, but rather just as different as they always seemed to be. It would all be something to get used to, and soon I would stop thinking about everything as larger than life, bigger than the small spec of reclusions I would later become. I could lock myself in my room, close the gate, and watch all visitors from security cameras. People would talk about it in papers. Why he never accomplished anything again and decided to just hide up on the house, alone in the hill. They would assume that things happened. Maybe a lost and long forgotten love died tragically and after the wake, I simply couldn’t handle being a social drunken mess anywhere other than in the comfortable confinement of my own home. Or possibly it was something else, something bigger that only I knew about. I would spend my time in a normal way, the occasional visitor filling a minimal void before returning to their own viciously construed existence.
I would fall from grace with false dignity, possibly being too fucked up to function on camera or getting photographed publicly cheating on my wife with somebody met one beautiful night, full of different livelihoods. She would get the kids and the account, while I wallowed alone in the house. I would take their pictures down and let them spark like firecrackers in the ash. She would see my obituary one day while feeding her children breakfast before pre-school. I would feel like Hemingway, and be sick of Salinger parallels. She would reflect on the idea of our briefness quickly, before some other temporary suburban annoyance filtered into her once elegantly faceted mindset. The dog needed taken out. Another dead goldfish or skinned knee, all seeming somewhat minimal as death lingered and eventually became the farthest thing from her mind. She was far too busy living her own life.

Living Alone by H. Donald Cabinet

I remember, in youth, dressing up for this holiday. Incognitus, soliciting sugary sweets on the eve of All Saints'. As a resilient twelve-year-old caterpillar, the bulky, modified sweat suit could not discourage my candylust. Not even the teenaged boys who sliced my pillow case with box-cutters. Not even the older girls who giggled (perhaps adoringly) at my tinfoil anthropod appendages.

n/a

n/a

he said that he was definitely sure that someone loved him and that he was definitely sure that he loved somebody. he was laughing as he was singing. i believed every word because he doesn't lie about the lonliness. leave the word "hope" alone. it's a dumb word...you've never liked it. you are eternally impressed with everyone for only moments and let down but never hold it anywhere near their heart because it might hurt them. this hate may take a longer while to toss up into the air. finding feathers along the way, too many for a flying thing to still be flying or alive. strong perfume and brightly colored fingernails calm me down. a presence. gray swans, gray goose, this shit means something to me. you'll be okay, you're just going to be feeling sad for a little while. go ahead.

70 Miles

Slugged down thin beers (not as many I had hoped),
Found myself driving over the never-plowed snow
Of Johnstown, downtown – the 403, to be precise.
The rust was silent as I cursed at each stop light
And my words, they started spreading over the pines,
Down into the ancient basin of chained-to-there’s,
All made stolid by the flood, 1889.
I was leaving; again, I was going to be fine.

I looked slowly up to the night sky above me,
That morning I had watched a trial on my TV
Of a man who killed another man then he placed
The gun beneath the curves of his broad beaten face,
Didn’t fire, they found him sitting in peace.
No lawyer would go near him, they could sense the storm,
Said he should have pulled the trigger again, at least.
As a cozy star does its part to keep me warm,

The car slowly turned into a soft feather bed,
I turned on the stereo, heard mundane music, I read
Warnings on the backs of big trucks to help tick the miles
Off. I knew that it was going to be a long while
Til I saw the Pittsburgh lights wrap around the turn,
Til I would dart through the tunnel like a hot knife,
Til I was forced to lock my own car doors, I have learned
That I crave a constant fear always in my life.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Roomates

“Oh man. I just told her that she was cute and needed to be squeezed, and I did. Oh man!” (laughs)
*shit. shit shit shit shit shit*
“Oh? So, uh, did you make out with her?”
“No, but we live together, so there’s plenty of time for that.”

She was the last one to use the bathroom. Obviously she’s never gotten the Dad-like speech. He hates when people don’t use the bath mat and get water everywhere. He hates when people use the bath mat but don’t hang it up. The bath mat is on the floor AND there’s water everywhere! He’s going to be home soon. I’m just going to leave it on the floor… Oh god. The toilet is full of shit and a used tampon. Sick! Should I flush it? I want him to see this. This is reality. She’s a mess. God. I’ll flush it. I guess I’m not that mean. I’m not hanging up that bath mat, though.

Living Alone by H. Donald Cabinet

Contorting my creaking bones into an antenna, I poach Wi-Fi signals from a retirement complex. Just to check e-mail, blogs, and the assorted web ephemera to which I subscribe. I am less than comfortable. The snapping sound of leather soles on tile as the executive director rounds a corner. He peaks into my cube. Each surprised, he asks what I am doing and I make a taciturn case for wireless, non-intranet internet at the office.

Monday, October 29, 2007

oh, fuck.

i just got the heaters out for the first
time this year.
questions in a world of blue by julie cruz.
crying into my hands into my blanket,
with ritz in my lap, wondering where
her daddy is.
telling her i love her, and it being
the only kind of love i feel capable to
express.
waiting.
"the only thing is time"
it is the only thing. moments, even.
how many moments before you (r.bunny) and i
can die like we said death would be,
on the couch, side by side
listening to the same song and not being
sad, but being sad together. or anything else.
it really wouldn't matter.
love or attachment, it doesn't matter
what anyone thinks it is, or what we are,
or what all of the pain we went through,
means. what this means is that i'll
still be field-grazing, sky-staring,
slip-wearing vole...now just different,
and a deeper depth that i'll ever be
able to show. to you. (r.bunny)
so let's be alone, apart,
and you can write your letters
and i can have my anger and my death and
perhaps rebirth.
as what? into what?
not sure. we'll see.
How do you convey outoftown to internet?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ben Cluckner walked through the woods behind his old elementary school. The leaves were crunchy as ever and the wind made itself apparent on his bare arms. He was there to remember how unfettered his life once was, and how much he hated being a kid. He looked up at the sky, through the leaves, burnt with oranges and red. It was blue. The sky. He was lost. "You don't know what I mean."
He watched swings swing no one. He loved the wind for doing so. It kept him company most days and most days he wanted to watch the things it did to the loose pieces of everything. Receipts, leaves, dust, glitter, ribbons, hair.

(how her hair blew how her hair blew nothing else was there then)

He put his headphones on. The music was too involved and too exclamatory for him right now. But for some reason it fit. "It's over."
And he was shocked. And the leaves blew. And he smiled and got shivers again. Wasn't the wind. He knew he'd keep remembering little things, until he couldn't think of things anymore. He didn't know that nothing important would happen to him for seven months after that. He didn't know the wind would be different after today. To him, anyway.



In a library downtown Libby Myers huddled in between two big chairs. She didn't want to sit on either of them. She got out a red book. It was small, with two words, written in black sharpie-capital letters: AUTUMN TIMES.

She opened the book to a blank page and began to write:

I can't stop coughing today. In the coffee shop there were two little kids, a boy and a girl, making farting noises. I was trying to hide my laughter when who appeared to be their father gave me a dirty look. I pretended not to think his children were wonderful little creatures of joy. Fuck that guy. Whatever. I just hope he appreciates them. They put too much cinnamon in my warm apple cider. Still good though. For my throat. I miss everything all of the time. I'm feeling alone. I feel like crying but I'm afraid if I start I won't stop. I still think most things are quite strange and beautiful but now that I don't have anyone to share them with…they don't seem so great anymore. I'm too full of thought. I need to be startled. Someone surprise me. Please.



Ben got back on his bike. Blue, rusty, some might say shitty. He rode down hills and up hills, across streets and through backyards. The colors and the way they were all constantly moving. The cold blow, and the motion, cutting through time and space properly advancing forward quickly, solitary. Winter will suck, he thought.

"I'm gonna be so cold." That, he said out loud. To the approaching gray.



"It's really okay. Seriously." Libby felt weird. Some guy in a suit spilled his coffee all over her as he was putting the vhs tapes he had just checked out into his briefcase.

"Here, come on, I have an extra t-shirt in my trunk. You can just keep it. It's no big deal. It's cold out there, and I don't want you freezing to death."

"I don't mind."

"Haha, I like you."

"Oh."

"Well, come on, I gotta get back to the bank in a half hour." Christ, Libby thought, another boring man in a boring town. They walked to his car together. He made a few non-witty jokes and she laughed at every single one. She wasn't sure why.

"Okay, so here ya go. I know, it's a little small. It was my ex-wife's. Sorry. I mean, she just had small tits. Jesus, I'm sorry. Here ya go."

"Thanks." Libby took the shirt. Something was going to happen.

"So, uh, you want a ride somewhere?"



Ben pedaled faster. He was getting pretty cold and wanted to get home so he could make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, watch some old home movies, and pet his cat. Oh yeah, milk too. He would drink it. A little smile worked it's way out of his mouth. That's gonna be so good!



"Turn right here, yeah."

"Can I show you something first?"

"Uh…what?"

"I'm trying to put together this space I just bought. I want to build a studio…for photography and stuff."

"You take pictures?"

"Yeah."

"I'm pretty cold. I think I just wanna go home and get warm."

"Well, there's a bathroom in there, you could change…"

Libby was only half-sure what she was getting herself into. And only half-sure that she wanted to get herself into what she thought she was getting herself into. So that's, what…one-fourth awareness. Not bad.

"Okay. Show me."



Fuck this is good. Ben chomped his sandwich, taking a sip of milk in between each bite. The best way. The only way. On the screen in front of him, he watched himself. 5 years old. Perfect. Blue and yellow striped shirt. Little kid jeans. Barefoot. Fall time. I was a good little boy. I miss myself.



The shirt was tight on her. Tight enough to be suggestive, even though it was his suggestion. Fuck, what am I doing? Who is this dude, and why did I come here?
"Want to fuck, or what?" The bank man came up behind her. She let him take off his ex-wife's tiny tee. Breasts were exposed, and roughly handled. She let him. He turned her around and she stopped feeling ground. He moved in and breathed on her mouth. She closed her eyes and felt wetness and warmth, and a beautiful castle crumbling into dust.





Fuck this is good. Ben chomped his sandwich, taking a sip of milk in between each bite. The best way. The only way.



Libby watched her feet as she walked. One foot in front of the other. One of her favorite things. Step and step and step and step and step until stop and somewhere new. You were what the wind was making with illuminated leaves. She read it when she was younger. Only a few years. And yes, it was right. Nobody will ever be exactly how you want them to be. I will always be in love with every boy I've ever known and it will never go away. She saw the leaves, felt electricity. Her skirt was static and shocking her pale legs. She was okay then. I remember the time he gave me the ribbon he picked up from off the street. It was blue, yeah. When I woke up it was weaved through my hair. It was a windy day and when I opened my eyes his were looking right back at me. There is nothing like this.



Ben turned off the television. He went outside to check on the wind. He ran into the street and shouted something. He noticed the sun was going down. Fallow Periods. Lucinda light. I forget what it's called. It's pretty. He began to walk. She always asked me if I ever watched her when she didn't know I was watching her. I wasn't aware enough and she always was. I was spending all my time in the moment and all the time in her head was somewhere I sometimes didn't notice. Fuck. Fuck. Gosh. Most times.



"Hey Mom. Yeah. No, I work that weekend. Yeah. I'm sorry. Soon. I know. No, we're not seeing each other anymore. Yeah. Well, I don't know how to explain it. It's kind of…it's something…yeah…yeah…okay. Yeah, I'm fine. It's okay. Talk to you soon, Mom. Love you. Bye." Not seeing each other anymore. Let the apples fall. Pretend that everyone is shit until they prove you wrong. Don't let your heart get cold. It's okay. It's okay.

" Hmmph." Libby reached her front steps. She got out her keys. She opened the door. She looked outside. She closed the door.



Ben Cluckner kept on walking.

from the only woman who really knows...

it was raining.
"hang in there."
"yeah, i will."
"it's only a matter of time before your life is great again."
"yeah, i know."
"no really, it is."
"yeah, i believe that."

yeah. i think i do.

Living Alone by H. Donald Cabinet

The grilled chicken is heaped on a mound of iceberg, almost ripe tomatoes, and surprisingly crisp radishes. Balsamic vinaigrette on the side. I dip my fork before skewering each piece of a balanced bite: chicken, lettuce, and either a radish or tomato. I alternate with every forkful. With practiced percision, I attempt to cut a large morsel in half. Dressing erupts with my forceful thrust, spattering my keypad and LCD monitor.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

stills

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

hm

Living Alone by H. Donald Cabinet

The second time I've phoned her this week. "Only when you need something, " she says. My heating oil supplier is making an injudicious man-child out of me. Although, it's not a difficult task--to disparage a grown man who spends so little of his earnings that he has accrued a credit score of nil.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Weekly Selections















i'm telling you anything random!

dear matt,
(this is how my brain functions before i go ahead and get my energy balanced and whatnot.) here in the doctor's office waiting room, the air has that not...natural air-conditioned smell. i just finished the queen mother cup of all queen mother coffees. and i mean it. this shit was fabulous like something crazy. my left bicep muscle, which is exposed in my sweater-vest, just twitched a bit. my hands smell like fruit. i guess i'm nervous.

i'm not moving, but everything else is.
very fast.
all of the sudden, i once again have very high hopes for myself. a new camera, Brooklyn and Sacramento, prettier hair and face, success in college. hopes/dreams. either/or. my favorite elliott smith.
the first mix CD i made for you for this package is being played. oh, it sounds real good. "without life, love goes on and on." i'm telling you anything random!
my mom has been a royal mess lately. i know why, yeah.
#1. her oldest daughter is going 6000 miles away in exactly one week. #2. it's like family tradition to go crazy.
carol anne and her son killed themselves the same way. grandpa's family is fucked up beyond words. grandma never sleeps. bi-polar, manic-depressive shit. dad's side is the same. uncle charlie fell asleep in snow on purpose. he wanted out, too. but he was saved. okay.
anyway, mom and i both went crazy together almost. my grandma cried, grandpa cried and told deep secrets, very over-whelming. but so fucking safe. i guess it was like me wanting to fall asleep in the snow, but i was saved.
now there's the holy mother between my breasts. just dangling there.

this is such a bad book!
i'll tell you more things you dont want to hear:
i really like you. or that ghost inside of me does. you know? i'm alone around crowds of people. even in disney world or at the beach. i felt the opposite of lonely with you, though. both times. for the whole sum of 6 days. haha. i dont know. i just want to meet more people, places and things that make me feel the opposite of lonely.
"i want to drink what they spill."

cara, my little sister, reads quickly.
what would happen if birds started walking more than flying?
taking a break now to eat a mango nectarine...

i'm just going to end this letter now. i'm sure you've had enough. i wont proof-read, because if i do, i'll rip this up entirely. so listen, dont think i'm crazy. think i'm good. not well, but good.
father, son, holy spirit, amen.
---------------------------------------
Now I dont have your address. I guess maybe I never did have it. I've proof-read now, though. So I wouldnt send it anyway.

2005





To H Donald

Keep your head up. I know it's tough to do simetimes, but it's the only thing we can do, you know? I almost gave up a lot of times when I was really young. I woke up every morning and I didn't want to get outta the bed. When I finally did I would just go to work at the grocery store and then after I would go to my friends' house. We would all drink a lot, that's just what we did. I would talk about how everyone at the store was so demeaning to me and how they would roll their eyes sometimes. I would get so drunk that I would have to be carried home most times. I kept hoping that I would drink so much that I wouldn't wake up the next day. I iintentionally tried to do that a couple times.
Then I got pregnant. It was just to some guy, Dennis. He had big shoulders that I loved. He told me the things that a teenage girl like me needed to hear, about how he was going to take care of me and I wouldn't have to worry about the things I was worrying about. Then one day, I went over to his apartment and he wasn't there. His landlord said she didn't know where he went. I haven't heard a word from him. I was scared at first, I didn't know who to turn to. I didn;t know how was I was going to raise him, but when he came into this world, it changed me. That was 20 years ago this December. And now I can't imagine my life being any different. I was happy after having Paul. It was hard doing it on my own, but he's a good boy and never gave me much trouble. He's moved to Pittsburgh now, going to college at Chatham on a partial scholarship for film. He loves movies. I really miss him being around, but I'm so proud of him.
I guess I';m just trying to say that it's not all bad. There are peaks and valleys on the wave that our life is on, and we just have to ride them out. Having Paul changed my life, and something like that can change yours, too. Don't be sad lol, your life can change for the better in an instant. You don't have to be lonely, because there are people all around you. and they all want to see you smile, I know I do :)

a year




i'm days from this wish and when it happened i wasn't accepting. i feel after that, and then after that, and then this that i've rolled over to something so simple---the vigor and intent to create and place him into new atmospheres...whatever is the most pleasing and full and experimental and intense and happy.
fall days. it's happening. i know i can call him to meet me on the highest hill but when he arrives there's no recognizable look on his face. i keep calling and i keep waiting and he'll always be ready to meet me, but never all the way. probably never.

Living Alone by H. Donald Cabinet

It's morning, finally. I methodically reverse my Honda Accord into a bewilderingly convenient parking space. The lot at work is crowded like opening night at The Globe, except for this one space. I step from the car, hit the central locking control, and--as I shut the door--realize that my keys remain in the ignition. I consider calling my mother, then see my cellular phone on the seat. My lights are still on. I recline impotently on the car next to me. Rest, rest, perturbed spirit.

i'll probably be doing this everyday


i'll say!


some cats i know


leaving



her bedroom





mid afternoon

The Separation of Church and Mate

So, this is what's going to happen
Five years from now, I'll be 25
I'm going to be somewhere not in Pennsylvania
Unless it's Philadelphia
I won't be in Scranton
but you will
Well, there or Arizona
Arid or humid?
I know you'll choose the latter
I probably won't be married because I still have ADD
and a line-up of crushes that could fill a broadsheet newspaper
You'll probably be involved
I'll still live with a roommate, but most likely alone
I'll fuck random men to fill the void
but you won't care because you won't know I still exist
I'll pass the hours writing history in action
and you'll be attempting to write the book you never publish
And then I'll get a call from your best friend
My original sin
He will ask if I will come to your wedding
And I will probably get choked up and wonder to whom
But I will still go
When I get there, I won't get lost
but I'll try
just to have an excuse not to see you happy
Hunting for parking will be a challenge I will make harder
And the entire time I'll recall the instances I tried to tell you your worth
Maybe today when you see all the people packed in pews you'll finally be convinced
I mean, there's no goddamn parking, and I've been driving seven blocks
Audis and Mercedes
When did you start associating with people like this?
When I finally enter, I see unfamiliar faces -- except your mother's
She nods and shoots a warm, tender smile in my direction
Really, I think it's out of sympathy
I secretly know she hated you when you decided I was no longer the one
Finally, the ceremony will start
I will see her come through the cherrywood doors
And I'll sigh because she's not as beautiful of a bride as you deserve
Or maybe this is what you get for making two years of my life undateable
because all I could think about was you and coffee sleeves and the gardenia-filled gazebo near the pond when you said, "This is where we'll get married."
I look at her and all I can do is fight the urge to exclaim my hate
...or my regret
For not taking you back when you asked
For dropping the goodbye cake
For ever doubting you'd wind up like this in the first place
But you look happy
and for that I feel content
I know if you look at me for one second
I will immediately feel a rush of blood to the place it counts
My heart, of course.
(But OK, maybe there, too)
But instead I will race out to beat the traffic of cars
driven by people I don't know
and probably don't want to

Living in Pittsburgh,

Try to fight me, I'll fucking end you
Try to mess with my boys, I'll fucking deck you
Try to talk to mah girl, I'll fucking punch you through the roof
Try to brush against me in a bar, I'll start a fucking fight
Try to say my mom's a whore, I'll knock you the fuck out
You tout that New England Patriots bullshit and I'll fucking knock your head off.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

it's okay with me.

old room, at the beginning.





walks i go on.

Photos, Music, Puppets, Etc...

If this show is coming anywhere close to your home, go to it.



You can find some tour dates here.

Living Alone by H. Donald Cabinet

For the third consecutive Tuesday, I hold a cold bowl of Kashi Good Friends and look through the kitchen window at my un-evacuated garbage can. Several phone calls to City Hall and Municipal Waste, and there it sits. I am just fed up with insincere, smarmy pleasantries on the horn. I set the cereal down, slip into my shearling moccasins from last Christmas, and depart to carry the stinking bags to the dumpster behind the local taproom.

The Start of Something New


























































So it's been a little under three years since I took the first photographs for "Sound Structures." Now that it's coming to a close and down to just editing, it's time to start something new. When I came up with the idea, I had no idea that it would start this soon or last as long as it has to. So now I've got two overlapping projects, and the scariest part is that the second doesn't have an end in sight - goal, yes. timeline, hardly.

The project is about my dad and me, and I'm not sure if I can shed my need for instant gratification; maybe that's why this post exists. Either way, this is the start of something new, something with an outcome that I can't be completely sure of yet.

Paul Danbury, age 14:

But I guess that’s what dreams essentially are, though; just some heightened sense of perception. You just really feel dreams. It’s pretty intense, and sometimes I think that I am actually experiencing my dreams like I would experience any other waking moment, but after I think about it for a spit, I always reduce that notion back to just thinking that I had an extra sense of sense. When everything else was shut down in my body, I could actually take some time to entertain those cavernous thoughts that I had every single second of every single day. I know that I’ve heard that dreams are pretty much just actualized thoughts, but I’m talking about the ones about feeling up girls and unhooking their bras, and driving a fast blue car down a sleek highway in some loud lush rainstorm; the ones that I wanted; the aspiration kind of dreams. I knew those kinds of dreams were there, usually, but when I had to look at other things and taste all the air all the time and smell the pungent fragrance of a rainy morning, I just couldn’t give them the attention they deserved. That feels strange for me to say, because while I’m walking around all the time, I’m thinking all about dreaming, and all about my dreams, but the second I would utter a word to anyone about any aspect of them, they would shatter into a thousand brittle shards. So, I just didn’t talk about them, ever. I didn't talk about anything. I don’t know why people always say to follow your dreams, though. They should tell you to be more selective about just which dreams you should be following. I’ve learned that I have a lot of dreams that come straight from the hottest pits of hell itself.
How do you take a photograph to illustrate an idea without a subjective blur?

How do you tour a sub-cultured America to find your self in other people without losing yourself to predetermination?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Living Alone by H. Donald Cabinet

Uncomfortable in just a t-shirt and shorts. An empty basket somehow heavy. Holding a block of sharp cheddar close to my bespectacled face, I assure myself of the legitimacy of this particular dairy cooperative. I fondle the fresh produce, feigning comprehension and appreciation. I gaze at shingles of carved fish behind glass. They gaze back. In the personal hygiene isle, I remember--with a sigh--the list that I had assembled at work, now resting on the kitchen table at home. Futile.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Now make this exist here...



Click and make big...

ART ON THE INTERNET

mcd



we gotta keep up or it's gonna eat us alive

we gotta keep up or we're gonna be left behind

we're gonna have to jump to this next stepping stone

without the internet we'd all be alone