Category Archives: who is sean?

Changes, or "It’s Not That I’m Throwing Out The Baby With The Bath Water – I’m Just Throwing Out The Babies."


In keeping with the spirit of my last post, I’ve been doing a lot of culling and a lot of changing. I do not feel bad about either of them. If anything, I feel better than I have for as long as I can remember. Looking back over the arc of my life – I’m hard-pressed to find myself in better alignment between mind and body than where I am rightfuckingnow.

Let me break it down for you –

I’m in the throes of a fucking massive overhaul.


Think of it like this – I am a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. Throaty-as-fuck 426 Hemi under the hood. Lots of miles. Rust. My alignment is off just enough to notice(I veer to the right). Most of me is made up of original parts, but I have some foreign parts as well – lots of scar tissue from “accidents,” a couple of knife wounds, some bullet fragments. One owner. And like I said before – lots of miles.

Now that you have that image burned into your mind, I want to tell you what’s been going on with me over the last week to ten days or so.

Not only am I taking the opportunity to use the beginning of a New Year/Decade to weed out all the malcontents and misery addicted people from my life, I am also using it to get myself closer to something resembling “healthy.” I’ve spent so much of the last decade or so working on getting my mind/spirit “right,” that it would be a shame if I continued to neglect the vessel that contains me as well.


Basically, I don’t want to feel like shit anymore.

I have abused the fuck out of this body. Over twenty years of smoking. A life-long addiction to soda and sugar. Terrible eating habits. Awful sleep patterns. Years of abusing alcohol, narcotics, pills, etc. So sedentary at times that it’s hard for me to even believe that I used to be a pretty good athlete, a Gym Rat who was always hunting for an open gym to play hoops with anyone, any time(and I am sure there are plenty of people out there still in shock that a lumpy, “Elmer Fudd-lookin’ motherfucker” like me schooled their asses from time to time, too).

I took the beginning of a fresh year as a way to start working on getting myself not only back into something resembling the shape I was in when I was in the military, but to try and make it so that I don’t drop dead in the middle of the night standing there bathed in the low-level lighting of the open refrigerator as I’m rooting around for another Coke to chug.


I mean – and as per the usual, we’re on Front Street here – if I was able to quit my fucking drug/alcohol habit(s) in the manner in which I did(I made the decision to stop – and then just fucking stopped), why shouldn’t I be able to make this shift as well? In the long run, this will save me the agony of the early adult onset diabetes I had penciled myself in for, not to mention save my kidneys and liver the trouble of having to filter out all of that crap I’ve been dumping down my throat since childhood.

I made myself an appointment to go and see Gilles Obermayer, who is not only a health magician, but a member of my ever-expanding family(he’s engaged to The Wife’s Aunt, Rosie, who is also a healer – acupuncture wizardry). I was a little bit nervous on my way over to see Gilles, but then I really thought about it, and realized, that for once in my life, I was really doing something good for myself, and that I needed to be forthright and straight up about everything that I felt was wrong with me. Both Gilles & Rosie have come and done work on me in emergency-type situations(me falling down a flight of stairs, or my back locking up on me so badly that I couldn’t stand up straight), and in talking with them, they’ve made it clear that I have a pretty good understanding of my body, and about what is or isn’t working properly. Which is a bonus.

Gilles made me feel right at home immediately, and we got down to business – taking our time talking about every single malady and possible Costanza I had fears about. Talking about my diet, my sleep patterns, the way my body feels when resting – you name it – we covered it. I told him that it felt to me as though my “fire” had gone out, and that anything I felt passionately about was now bordering on being a chore, or a task that I couldn’t bring myself to complete without great and concerted effort. And I told him that throughout most of my life, the one thing that had always been a constant was that “fire.”


I’ve been having problems with my right hip & lower back since I had hernia surgery back in June of ’07 – when the doctors cut me open, they realized the injury was much worse than they originally thought, and that almost the entire abdominal wall on my right side was shredded. They put a bunch of that titanium mesh inside of me, hoping that the musculature would grow through it, like lattice, and become whole again. Because of this, and my irrational fear of re-injuring myself, it has been hard for me to maintain the strength of my lower back. I’ve felt all along that the problems I have with my right hip(it constantly feels as though a tendon needs to “pop over” my hip bone, and like my right leg is a taut line, ready to come unhinged at any time) are related to the surgery/lack of activity as well. As I relayed all of this information to Gilles, he kept on nodding at me, as if to say “You’re not too far off.”


After we finished talking, Gilles went to work on my body. As he was kneading and working on my muscles and joints, he kept on asking me if he was hurting me. I explained to him that I have an almost ridiculous threshold for physical pain, and that he shouldn’t worry about it. I could feel my body loosening throughout his systematic and methodical manipulations – I also felt great relief when I felt my right hip pop into the place where it is supposed to be, so much so, that I teared up a bit.

Validation is such a powerful thing, especially for someone who feels hyper-connected to their instincts like I do.

After the session was over, Gilles and I sat down to talk again. He broke it down pretty simply for me – my liver channel is not functioning properly, causing my body to be in an almost constant state of depression. Without question, my bad habits tax my liver far too much, rendering it unable to do the work it needs to do for me to be and feel healthy. Some of that can also be attributed to the titanium in my abdominal wall – a normally functioning human body will be in a constant state of battle with anything foreign residing within it – which is why some people are not able to heal body piercings, or have trouble holding ink from tattoos(both of which I have obviously never had any problem with).

Gilles then gave me instructions on how to change my lifestyle and diet to help my body heal itself from the damage I have done to it over the years. As he was talking to me, I could feel a Great Weight being lifted off of me – as if me taking just this one tiny little step was the opening of a doorway that was never going to close.

For me, that hardest part of my life has always been conquering that initial fear of the unknown. Once I’ve gone beyond that threshold, I can usually create the necessary drive and discipline to apply the knowledge I’ve gained, move forward with it, and grow.

And that is exactly what I am doing.


I haven’t had a soda, or anything containing refined sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup in almost two weeks. Not only did I power my way right on through that addiction, but I am drinking – wait for it – water – liters of it daily. If you know me at all, you know that for years, as soon as someone offers me a glass of water, I break out the old WC Fields line – “Water? I never touch the stuff – fish fuck in it.” – because for some reason, my body was conditioned to only consume things with sugar in them. Probably because I was a sugar addict, and a terrible one.

Not anymore. Done.

Because I’ve spent years dumping spoonful after spoonful of sugar into my coffee, I gave that up as well. I replaced it with two cups of Yerba Mate’, but I cannot drink anything with caffeine in it after 5PM. No raw foods – everything must be cooked or at room temperature for me to eat it. No cooling foods(foods that cool the blood), like broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach. No turkey or lamb. No eating after 7PM. I’m working really hard on some of his other recommendations, like me being asleep by 11PM(he knows this one will be rough for me – I’ve always been a night-time creature), and getting at least seven hours of sleep per night(I usually sleep no more than five – anything more than that and I feel hungover – which he said was a product of me conditioning my body to need to be awake and continue to consume all of that sugar).

The Wife tells me that I am already losing weight, and that my skin looks a lot better. All I know is that I feel fucking great – I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Most of my usual aches and creaky bones seem to have given up, and I no longer feel their dull throbbing. I haven’t had to slather my lower back and hip with Tiger Balm in two weeks. I don’t feel like I am dying after walking The Gracie for an hour in the evening. I wake up feeling refreshed – and actually hungry, which is totally a new one for me. Breakfast used to consist of one French Press full of coffee, coupled with at least half a pack of smokes* before I felt even remotely human.


All of this is hard fucking work. I know this is not going to be easy, but I also know that this is worth it – I’m not getting any younger, and my chances for reversing or changing all of the damage I have done to myself decreases annually.

This change, this personal revolution, is a necessary one. I have a lot of work to do in this life, and I am not going to be some sloppy, unhappy mess of a man who looks back twenty years from now and laments the fact that I didn’t align the physical me and the mental/spiritual me when I had the chance. I’ve worked far too hard conditioning the latter, while taking the former for granted. I cannot stomach seeing the me in the future that I was headed toward.

Removing a lot of miserable and negative people from my life, no matter how extraneous they might have been, has been a great help for me. I feel like a raw nerve emotionally – incapable of even reading something with a negative or woe-is-me connotation to it, my instant reaction being one of repulsion. And as I said in the beginning of this Ramble, not to mention the previous one – I just cannot roll with misery addicts any longer. I’m done with it.

I’m doing this for me.

*Before anyone starts to yammer on in the comments or in e-mails about me quitting smoking – please understand that this is a long-term goal. If I am making all of these crazy lifestyle changes, eventually I will get to a place, after lots of exercise and creating new habits, where quitting smoking will be as easy as can be. Until then – please leave me be about it. Thanks.

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Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, or "I Prefer Being Called A Soothsayer To Being Called A Prophet"

I’m just going to go ahead and get this out of the way right out of the gate – I know this is not only the end of 2009, but also the end of a decade, which means The Interweb is currently flooded with “End of The Aughts” posts from everyone. While reading a lot of them(I ain’t got nothing but time and nicotine stains on my hands, you lovely motherfuckers), I’ve noticed this common theme:

“WHAAAAAA! EVERYTHING THAT EVER HAPPENED IN THE LAST YEAR/TEN YEARS SUCKED!!!”

It has been very painful for me to read all of this negative bullshit. I mean – I’m a humanimal just like most of you, so I am prone to disappointment and whatnot like anyone else is. And being a member of the current state of our society involves dealing with a lot of extraneous shit that will find a way to drag even the most positive-thinking person into the quicksand of negativity. I get all that, I really do.

But enough is enough already.

(This is the part where Sean puts his funny Philosopher Jones, Esquire hat on – if you want to read something else – now is the time to go ahead and do so – you’ve been warned)

When I am feeling flushed with frustration or anger over the things I see/read/hear from people who are wallowing in their own misery, I try to always remember this very important piece of writing right here:

Feeling deeply the difference between oneself and others, bearing ill will and falling out with people — these things come from a heart that lacks compassion. If one wraps up everything with a heart of compassion, there will be no coming into conflict with people.” – from Chapter Two of The Hagakure

It seems very simple, but in fact, this is a very hard idea to follow through on. I work on it every day – reminding myself over and over again that we’re all just human beings sharing human experiences – what might cause me to react one way will cause another person to react in a totally different way – all based upon our own personal needs/wants/environments, and how those factors influence our emotions.

Sometimes it feels like trying to untie knots with your heart while blindfolded.

I’m a Sagittarius – so this shit is all a naturally-occurring part of my natal blueprinting. Just go through this here site and read the posts tagged “The Spiritual Misadventures Of Sean” if you need proof of that aspect of my being. Most of my life has been nothing more than a Spiritual/Philosophical Quest of sorts – trying to find answers to the big and heady questions most people never think about once they settle into their holding pattern of adulthood and the responsibilities that get thrust upon us once we go out into this Great Big World – the only difference being that I have always been this way, from the moment I was able to comprehend language enough to use it to verbalize what was happening in my scattered little mind.

ANYWAYS…

Back to the “End of the Year/Decade” tip – I’ve written before about how much I cannot stand the fact that people seem to think that being snarky somehow denotes that they are intelligent beyond the comprehension of others. And after reading through a lot of these Year End lists and posts of doom – I’m kind of hoping this trend goes away for good. Seriously.

Maybe this makes me some kind of hippie idealist or something, but no matter how bad my life appears to be in the moment, I always know deep inside the core of my being that I AM GOING TO LEARN SOMETHING FROM THIS. And that right there is the key for my monkey ass – learning. If I’m not learning, I’m not an active participant. If I am not an active participant, I am dead. So – I try very hard to remain, in some way, positive. Even when the shit is b to the a to the motherfuckin’ d. It is just too goddamn easy to get all caught up in the misery of disappointment or struggle. And that shit is just a power trip anyway, stomping your feet and acting all indignant because things just aren’t going the way you had them planned out in your happy little fantasy of what life was going to be all about for you, as if you somehow have the power at your disposal to CONTROL EVERYTHING.

People who lead miserable lives will always cling to that misery. They will say stupid shit to cover up their own insecurities and doubts, and do it in a way that gives them the quick elation that one would get from an inhalant, or possibly from snorting huge rails of methamphetamine. That’s where all that snark comes into play – people lashing out at other people because they have some need to feel superior to something, when in all reality, they hate themselves so much that they feel nothing but inferior to everything.

Like Roberto Duran once said – “No mas.” I’m done with negativity. Done with misery addicts. If you want to roll with me, you have to drop that shit. Not having it.

AAAAAND BREATHE…

Moving forward, 2010, or as it was told to me in an e-mail from a good friend – MMX: The Year We Save The World™ – is all about me getting shit done. Grinding it out. Honing my skill set. Working on my craft. Writing, writing, and more writing.

And working much harder on attaining this very important goal that sometimes slips away from me:

Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee

I hope that each and every one of you that I call a friend has a wonderful and amazing MMX. You deserve it.

Love,

Sean

Please enjoy the video –

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Filed under i used to be stupid, jealous insecurities, laziness, nuggets of infinite wisdom, who is sean?

Gimme Three Steps, or "I Ain’t Never Told Nobody This Terrible Tale About What Happened To Me When I Was Living Down There In The Ozarks"

I’ve never told anyone this story before, other than my father when he was dying. He had asked me why I had always dated so many “crazy women,” and I had given him some crass-as-fuck answer like – “because they fuck better” – so, late one night when it was just me, him, and the morphine – I told him this tale. He was halfway out the door at that point, but raised an eyebrow and said “Sean, sometimes you are the dumbest motherfucker I have ever known – but I love you anyway. Stop being so stupid” – and then he fell back into Morphine Dreamland.

Running away was always the easiest thing for me.

I was living in a very dark and smoke-filled apartment across the street from the main campus of the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville was an interesting little town, although I very rarely ventured outside of my cave. Smoke runs. Odd-houred journeys to the laundry room of the apartment complex down the hill behind me. One very ill-advised and spontaneous joyride in a running car that was left idling out in front of my tiny apartment building.

I left it at the Denny’s off the highway – I‘m not a fucking savage. I really wanted a Grand Slam and a bottomless coffee. I wanted to see other haggard and restless night-time faces.

Most of my days were spent with me sitting on the floor, either devouring a book or trying to write one, depending on how I was feeling that morning. Some days were Writing Days, others were Consuming Days. Most days were Who Gives A Fuck Days, spent in a haze of discontent and loud music.

When I was leaving Brooklyn to head down that way, I made some sort of deal within myself that I was going to force myself to get well in some way. Being smarter than the average payaso, when I shipped my belongings down ahead of me, I stashed a decent amount of the strain of marijuana I was smoking daily into a few of the boxes – so as not to upset my innermost system. I promised myself that I would not buy more – what was there was what was there, and that would be that.

There were a fistful of reasons as to why I had run down to Fayetteville – a friend and mentor I had just connected with deeply had been killed in an accident, the finalities of my Grandmother’s passing were set into motion, as the home I spent large portions of my youth within was sold to a neighbor, and the tumultuous and terrible relationship I had been in when moving back to Brooklyn from Phoenix had finally imploded into a fireball of deceit and indiscretions that made even the druggiest and sleaziest parts of me shudder.

So I ran away.

A friend of mine from the Internet had lived down there her entire life, and she and I spent a ridiculous amount of time talking about how I just needed to get away from the lunacy of the situation I was living in, so that I could heal and write. She certainly didn’t lie to me about her town – she told me it was small and basically nothing more than a college town. What we did talk about was how low the crime rate was, and how cheap it was to live there. According to her, it was the most liberal town in the entire region – which was a huge selling point for a cat like me.

I stayed with her, her ex-husband, their five year old daughter, and their roommate for about a week to ten days, and then I landed the aforementioned apartment right off the campus. The rent on this place was retardedly cheap – less than four hundred duckets a month. I paid the landlord for three months in advance so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything other than getting my head together. I borrowed a car and went over to the truck yard where all my stuff was at, and started bringing it on over to my new Secret Hideout.

The friendship between my friend and I was already horribly strained – not for any other reason other than the two of us both being very headstrong people who were set deeply into our own roles in our heads. She was a very strict vegetarian who was trying to align her mind and body into some form of healthy, and I was a very strict carnivorous hedonist who was hell bent on self-destruction. It wasn’t good for me to be staying over at their place – my presence was creating a lot of tension within their household, as I found myself really getting along with her ex-husband, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t good for her at the time. She and the roommate and I would go to the gym together, and I’d watch with awe and respect at the level of commitment she had for getting herself healthy.

It almost matched my level of self-loathing that I had brought down to The Ozarks with me.


I think it was my second or third day living there when the police knocked on my screen door in the middle of the afternoon. I was very set on getting myself back on a Spiritual Path of sorts, and had set up an altar on top of my refrigerator – nothing too fancy, but somewhere that I could burn incense and focus during my daily meditation. When I opened the screen door, one of the cops, the younger one, asked me if I was “one of them Satanic-type of people,” which made me laugh in a way that didn’t translate too well. I mean – who thinks a statue of Buddha is Satan?

“Is there something I can help you with, officers?”

The other cop had decided it was okay for him to walk past me and enter into my apartment, and he was walking into the other room where I had music playing. The younger cop was sort of standing in a way where he was blocking the doorway, with one leg jutting across the threshold as he leaned into the door jamb all casual-like.

“We came over here because we got a complaint about loud music. You wanna come on in here and turn this racket off?” – the older cop was obviously not in a playful mood.

I realized in that moment that I probably wasn’t someone these gentlemen were used to – a Yankee covered from head to toe in tattoos, with strange incense burning in front of a statue of what they thought was Satan, blasting Public Enemy in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday. As I started to walk into the bedroom, I saw that the older cop was using his baton to lift the flaps to the cardboard boxes that I had yet to unpack, as if casually looking into my belongings was part of the call they had received.

“You looking for something specific there, officer? I just moved in two days ago – I still have plenty of unpacking to do.”

He just gave me a twisted look as I turned the volume down. His younger partner was now standing in the doorway to the bedroom – in the exact same position he was standing in the main doorway to the apartment not two minutes earlier. It must have been part of the Fayetteville PD’s training program to block doorways from possible perps or something.

“Just try not to play your music so loudly – your neighbors will be less likely to call us and complain. If anything, turn down all that bass. My idiot nephew is your downstairs neighbor, and his mother has been calling me since you moved in bitching about some scary guy covered in tattoos who listens to loud rap music upsetting her half-retarded baby boy who’s trying to get a degree in some bullshit. My sister annoys the shit out of me, so can you do me that favor?”

I smiled and told him that I would do my best.

After they left, I looked at the top of my bathroom counter and realized I had left out a pipe with some weed in it, so I took it as a sign that I should be thankful and try and honor what the older cop had asked me. There was no sense in dicking around with fate or jail time any more than I needed to. I also went out of my way to go downstairs and apologize to his mouth-breather of a nephew, who looked like he was going to shit his pants when opening the door wearing his favorite WWE t-shirt – I even shook the kid’s hand and told him if he needed anything to just come on up and ask me.

Because I was all about being neighborly and shit.

After a couple of weeks of hiding out in my cave, I decided to venture out to the main drag and have myself a few cocktails. I figured that since it was a Thursday night in a college town, the odds of me getting into trouble were pretty slim. What I forgot to factor into the equation was that this was The South, and trouble can be found anywhere if you didn’t fit.

I spotted a place that had some Harleys in front of it, and went inside and plopped my ass down on a stool at the bar. The bartender couldn’t have been more than twenty-five. She was pretty in an awkward way – jet-black hair pulled into a side ponytail, pale as fuck, wearing a black tank-top and a schoolgirl skirt, and flashing a couple of really shitty tiny tattoos on her bare shoulders. She was doing that whole I’m-over-here-cleaning-glasses-pretending-you-ain’t-sitting-at-my-bar-even-though-I-keep-on-staring-at-you thing, so I called her over and asked her for a Jack and Coke.

Now – I had developed myself some terrible habits after spending most of my adult life working in the service industry. I was always respectful toward bartenders, servers, and the like – but I’ll be damned if I didn’t say something if something was wonky. I always tried to temper it with a little humor, because I know I always appreciated complaints that were at least presented in a funny light.

“Excuse me, Miss? Would you mind if you actually put some liquor in my glass – I mean, if it’s not too much to ask and all?”

Elvira, the Mistress Of Dickson Street made her way over to where I was sitting, picked up my glass, and then dumped it right into the sink – all while staring me down in a way that I wasn’t able to decipher – it simultaneously said Fuck and Fight. I heard one of the big gruff boys at the end of the bar make some smart-ass comment to her, and she shot him a steely glance. I then watched her as she poured me a Proper Cocktail – again, while she stared at me intently.

“What’s your name?”

“Sean.”

“Where are you from, Sean?”

“Brooklyn.”

“Well, Sean from Brooklyn – my name is Emma. I’m from Little Rock. Came up here to go to college a few years ago, and then I never left. You ever ask me to put liquor in your glass again, and you ain’t gonna leave here neither, okay?”

I let a real slow smirk move across my face and lit up a smoke. Emma smiled and giggled a little bit, and then went back to pouring drinks and polishing glasses. Every now and then I’d look up from the notebook I was scribbling in to see her glaring at me some more. There was a group of extremely drunk kids hanging out over by the pool tables, and a few of the local bikers hanging out at the other end of the bar. They were all taking turns glaring at me, too.

One of these things is not like the others. Obviously.

After downing my fifth Proper Cocktail – which I surreptitiously used to choke down a Lorazepam, I decided it was time to march my crooked ass back down the hill to my cave. I called Emma over to thank her and to settle up the tab. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught one of the bikers giving me the hairiest eyeball I had ever seen, so I decided to keep my flirting to a minimum, so as not to suffer the wrath of the natives.

“So – where do you live, Sean from Brooklyn?”

Emma was giving me the are-you-man-enough eye, while leaning herself over the bar toward my position, lots of exposed and glowing flesh billowing out of her black tank top, like a Siren Call, only without melody.

742 Taylor. The bottom of this hill. Apartment number one.”

She then leaned in even further, reaching with her still-wet hands from washing all of those glasses to grab at the back of my head, kissing me gently in the middle of my forehead.

I really hadn’t planned on this little exercise taking place. Hell – I just then remembered I didn’t even have a bed. Whiskey always made me do dumb shit. This was definitely in my Dumb Shit Sean Does wheelhouse.

Fast forward an hour and a half or so, and I am now not only still buzzed from the benzo/whiskey treat I’d allowed myself, but I have smoked a bowl of my NYC red-haired reefer. I was sitting at my computer, listening to some Miles Fucking Davis(Miles and I had reconnected and our love affair was getting mighty goddamn deep down there in them Ozarks), trying to uncoil some sleeping literary ambitions out from under my nervous system’s warm little blanket of drugs and hooch.

I realized that my intoxicated ass had left my front door open when I felt Emma’s hands rubbing my bald pate as she cooed some ridiculous nonsense at me. I tilted my head back in my chair, and she was leaning down, grinning at me. Things are a little hazy from there, as there was a lot of grunting, pushing, and pulling going on – lust and alcohol always made me an odd beast.

Laying around in a pile of clothes and blankets on the floor, smoking and replaying shit in my head as Emma slept softly – I was watching how her back would rise and fall as she filled her lungs with air when I noticed something shadowy move in the other room near the front door.

I noticed it a little too late, actually.

It only took a matter of a few seconds before the gun was planted firmly in the middle of my forehead. It only took half a second after that for Emma to roll over and start laughing her ass off. It took less time than that for me to realize I’d just been burned something fierce.

“Alright, Sean from Brooklyn – give us everything you got. Money, weed, whatever else kinda drugs you got stashed up in here. You do that, and we won’t kill you, understand?”

Emma was still laughing while she was pulling on her clothes. The big greasy biker guy kept on calling her “Baby,” but she never said his name once. I had about a quarter pound of that marijuana stashed all throughout the apartment, and gave them about half of it. Homeboy rifled through my wallet, and got pissed off when he saw there wasn’t any money in it.

“You’d best cough up some motherfucking cash or I’m gonna put a hole in your head, Sean from Brooklyn. I’m not fucking around here – GIMME THE CASH!”

I stared at him for a good long second – this was the same dude at the bar who had muttered something to Emma – and in that good long second I thought about taking him down. I mean – what good was all that military training if I wasn’t going to use it, right?

“I’m from New York City, man – nobody keeps cash in their wallets unless they’re a fucking tourist or a target. The cash is in my front right pants pocket over there – it’s about three hundred – just take it and get the fuck out of my goddamn house.”

As I watched him pulling the cash out of my jeans, Emma walked over to me all sassy-steppin’, as if this little home invasion/strong-arm was no big deal or anything. I took a step back away from her, and she started to laugh again.

“Oh, Sean from Brooklyn – I ain’t gonna hurt you, honey. This is just your Southern Comeuppance, that’s all. Y’all Yankee motherfuckers always think you’re so fucking smart and slick, but just like we seem like yokels and morons to you – you do to us down here.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. What the fuck else was I supposed to do – she had a point. I let my guard down, thinking that my regular sense of reality would help me out in an alien world. I was goddamn wrong, and I was man enough to laugh at it.

Emma gave me another long and weird kiss as I watched homeboy count the cash he snatched as he put the pistol back in his waistband. Again – a fleeting idea to tackle him and put the gun to his head popped into my head, but I realized that was fucking stupid. No sense in me getting shot or roughed the fuck on up when it was all over now.

“Okay Sean from Brooklyn, we’re gonna leave now – but don’t you ever think about coming into that bar again, you got me? You show up – you disappear out in the woods. And don’t you even think about calling the cops, okay?”

I just stood there like a big dummy.

I watched them walk out the door, Emma looking back at me through the screen door with a look on her face that said “I’m really sorry, honey.” As soon as they were down the front stairs I kind of collapsed on the floor. I was half-laughing, shaking, and half-crying. What the fuck? Nothing like getting set up by some fucking hillbilly motherfuckers – but they were pretty goddamn smart. An old con, one I shouldn’t have fallen for but did. Lesson learned.

After that, I rarely went out while still living down there in Fayetteville. I made nice-nice with the two kids who lived upstairs – I never told anyone what happened, but positioned myself as the neighbor who kept his eye out for everyone – hoping it would be reciprocal.

The one time after that when I did go out was after my father had already been diagnosed with cancer and I was already gearing up to go and take care of him. My friend Carole rolled into town from Louisiana with Fruity Jim and Crazy Wayne.

We had us a hell of a ball – but that’s another tale altogether.

I do still feel guilty about jacking that car to go to Denny’s, though.

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Filed under drugs are bad, i used to be stupid, nuggets of infinite wisdom, who is sean?

Ramble On, or "Awkward As Can Possibly Be – That’s Me!"

The clicking underneath the opening of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” sets my mind reeling into Flashback Alley.

I remember the first time I had the record, Houses Of The Holy, in my hands. Twelve inches of a new world for me to explore. The eerie cover art, with a naked prepubescent girl standing on some rocks that are jutting out of somewhere I’d never seen or been to before – it reminded me of those old books about Irish folklore and Faeries my little sister and I had as kids, the paintings and illustrations inside becoming Nightmare Fuel for the long-off-in-the-distance hallucinations of my Drug Years.

I was probably fourteen years old or so. Music was just beginning to grab me by the balls, right around the same time hormones started to play with my mind and cause me to notice girls and their breasts and the way that they smell when you lean in real close to them. Girls and Rock And Motherfucking Roll, a conflagration inside of my belly.

Never-ending fire, with no need to stoke it.

I had just started experimenting with drugs around this time as well – nothing too heavy yet, just smoking marijuana pilfered from an older brother of a friend. He would sneak enough for us to roll a joint out of his brother’s sack, and we’d get high before baseball practice.

Those were always the days where I felt like I could hit a ball seven hundred feet. The spinning of the ball as it was released during batting practice slowed to a crawl, being able to read the laces and see the ball connect with the aluminum bat in my hands, watching it rocket off of it as I pulled the orb into the stratosphere that was left field.

Endless Summer.

I was about to start High School then. I wasn’t necessarily a popular kid in Middle School – I was far too awkward for that. As smart as I was, I was very shy and gangly. I had just lost a bunch of weight during the winter due to a terrible bout with pneumonia. I had my Bar Mitzvah late – I mostly did it out of respect and love for my mother and her family – being Jewish was something I understood and had already come to terms with, but wasn’t necessarily high on my list of identifying characteristics. Maybe if we had stayed in Brooklyn I would have thought differently, but being Jewish in Phoenix was just a target on my back, especially in regard to the awkwardness and grief I caught from all of my classmates – it was as if I were some kind of alien dropped into their world.

But, being Jewish was how my mother and her family identified, and I wasn’t about to upset them in any way. My mother asked me if it was something I wanted to do, and I saw in her eyes in that moment that she was subliminally suggesting that it was something that I should do, so I agreed.

I went through all of the training necessary to learn enough Hebrew to pull off a Bar Mitzvah in less than six months’ time, memorizing and practicing all of the singing from a cassette tape made for me by our Temple’s cantor every morning before school, when my mother said my mind was “fresh.” I would stand in my bedroom, slowly pulling clothes onto my weary and hormone-infused body, singing along with these tapes. My sister, who always identified with my father’s Catholicism, would walk past my bedroom door, shaking her head and making faces at me because of the terrible nature of my singing voice.

There was something magical about hormones and a foreign language coupled with the rapid succession of time and a need to complete a task.

ANYWAYS…

Around the week before my Bar Mitzvah, I became really ill, coming down with a terrible bout with the aforementioned pneumonia. My lungs were full of fluid and phlegm, my body ached and was hot to the touch. Thankfully, every single older Jewish woman from my mother’s family had made the pilgrimage to Phoenix to witness my “coming of age,” so I had plenty of matronly love being spent in my direction – each one of them having some magical cure-all to take away my illness.

My mother’s grandmother was the eldest in the posse, so I latched on to her advice, being the smart and very attuned to the nuance of respecting one’s elders type of cat that I already was. Her methods were simple and old school – flush it all out with lots of hot tea with lemon and honey, and eat as much grapefruit as humanly possible.

We burned that poison out of my body.

Not only did I remove the poisonous pneumonia from my body, but I somehow managed to slim myself down a bit – which was good, because even though I was constantly active – playing basketball daily, baseball year round, and riding a skateboard everywhere I wanted to go – I was just a lump of a kid. As lumpy as could be. Not portly, but just this husky mess of a boy.

Being Jewish got me my first date, too.

My mother had started sending me off to these Youth Group dances and stuff like that. I was always awkward and self-conscious around people I didn’t know, but my mother would tell me over and over again – “Seany, just act like you’ve been there before – that’s how you learn – stop being afraid already.” The Temple we belonged to was a new one, so it really didn’t have a Youth Group as of yet, but my mother was able to find out where she could send me to get acclimated to being around other kids that were supposed to be like me.

I was sent to a dance at a Temple in Scottsdale, full of kids from all over Phoenix. I would go to the dances at my school, but they were always an exercise in me improving my avoidance skill set, as opposed to me actually being brave and asking girls to dance. Dancing has never been anything I was drawn to – it’s just not in my box of tools. I have plenty of rhythm, and I can sit behind a drum kit and break out the funk to let loose an entire room of jump-stepping, but dancing? Not gonna happen, my friends.

Sadly, this has continued into my Adult Life – I never dance. I danced with The Wife at our wedding for one song(Nick Drake‘s “Northern Sky“), and then once more at another wedding we attended, when she forced me to do it by putting the juju on me and telling me it was “bad luck” for the newlyweds if I didn’t comply.

ANYWAYS…

I only knew a few of the kids at this dance, from my own Temple’s incredibly archaic and terrible Sunday School classes that I had been expelled from for being out of line and telling the instructor that she was an asshole for telling me my Iron Maiden shirt was inappropriate to wear to a Temple. I milled around near the walls, like any scene out of a teen movie from the 80s – just skittering and sputtering my way through the motions of being there. The music they were playing was horrible and not like any of the Rock And Motherfucking Roll I was used to pumping into my system of my own accord. No Thin Lizzy. No Iron Maiden. No Kiss. No Aerosmith. No Sex Pistols or The Damned, for sure.

I found a side door after a while, and I snuck outside to smoke a cigarette.

I was standing over by a column next to some bushes, cupping my smoke in my hand near my side when a girl came over to me to see what I was up to.

“Are you smoking?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh my God, can I have a drag?”

“Sure.”

I watched her as she took the cigarette and put it to her lips. The way she dragged on it told me she wasn’t really a smoker, and her black nail polish told me she wasn’t like the rest of the girls inside. Her dress was nice. She had pretty hair – black, with a little wave to it that hung over half of her face. Her eyes were blue, and she smelled like flowers.

“I’m Hailey. You should come inside and dance with me.”

“I’m Sean. I – ummm – I don’t really dance, Hailey.”

“Will you dance with me if I get them to play a good slow song?”

“Sure. But only if you get them to play a Led Zeppelin song. I bet they don’t even have any. That’s all I really listen to.”

She took my hand at that point. No girl had ever held my hand before. I was trying so hard to look and be cool. I didn’t want her to know that I was terrified. I mean – how the fuck was I supposed to react to some girl who just randomly came outside, caught me smoking at a Jewish Youth Group dance, and is now holding my retarded hand? And now this beautiful girl, Hailey, is dragging me back inside of the big room where the dance is going on. The kids that I know are all looking over at me. One kid, Don, nods at me like he’s giving me his approval in some way.

Hailey and I are standing in front of the disc jockey now. She’s asking him, over the din of some terrible J. Geils Band jam, if he has any Led Zeppelin. The disc jockey keeps on cupping his ear to hear her voice, so she reaches over and grabs him by his skinny tie and pulls him in close and shouts into his ear –

“You need to play ‘Stairway To Heaven’ so I can dance with this boy!”

The disc jockey looks over at me, smirking. Motherfucker.

I cannot hear what happens between them next, because he puts on “My Sharona,” and the sea of awkward Jewish teens is churning to the sound of The Knack like the world is about to end, the room a whirling dervish of hormones and lunacy. I want to disappear underneath his table, to crawl under the banner that says DISC JOCKEY ENTERTAINMENT and hide there until everyone else has been picked up by their parents. I could do it – I could totally hide there for hours and hours without anyone knowing I was there.

“Okay kids, we’re going to slow it down a bit now. This next one is a special request – from Hailey to Sean. You kids behave now.”

Fuck.

Hailey is dragging me out into the middle of the area where all the kids are dancing. I have no idea what the fuck I am doing. She takes my hands and places them where she wants them – one on the small of her back, and she gingerly raises up her ass so that my hand is resting right at the top of it, while she takes my other hand and wraps it around her and into the back of her neck. She squeezes her way into me, even though she is roughly the same height as I am, and puts her head into the crook of my neck where it meets with my shoulder. I can smell how clean her hair is. I can feel her body through my own, every nerve ending inside of me on fire.

It feels as though the song lasts for hours. Just the two of us, slowly swaying there in space, our bodies communicating with one another as if nobody else in the world were alive but us.

Hailey chooses this very moment to softly put her lips on the side of my neck, kissing me gently and kindly. I have no idea if she can feel how much I am shaking. I know I am shaking. Violently. But she takes my face in her hand and turns me to face her, opening her mouth slightly as if to say something, but then kisses me full-on.

Thanks, Mom.

After the dance has ended, all of the kids are milling about the parking lot, saying their good-byes and see-you-laters to one another as they search out parental units amongst the fleet of cars. Hailey is dragging me through the lot, hands stuck together like Siamese Twins. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see my mother standing next to her car, watching me cut my way through the masses of kids, being dragged by a beautiful girl. She’s smirking at me.

Hailey introduces me to her mother in a blur. I am polite – my mother trained me well. I don’t really know how to make small-talk at this point in my life – I’m only fourteen years old and have just had my first real kiss, so my mind is all aflutter and in a different world altogether. Hailey’s mother looks just like her, only older.

My own mother has made her way over to Hailey’s mother, and the two of them are doing the introducing one’s self game that mothers must do when their children become intertwined. Hailey is taking to me, but none of it sounds like English, all I can do is stare at her mouth as she forms words that slip and slide in front of me. She’s still holding onto my hand, even in front of our mothers.

Hailey kisses me on the cheek as our mothers say good-bye to one another, some plan set in motion for us to spend some time together in the future, but I’m in no way understanding any of these dynamics. She shoves a piece of paper into my shirt pocket and gets into the car with her mother – not once unlocking her eyes from staring at me.

“Were you smoking, Sean? I asked you not to let any of these people see you smoking. I don’t want people to think you’re a hooligan.”

I smoke with my mother in the car on the ride home, as she asks me how I met such a nice and beautiful girl. I’m just watching the inside of the car filling with smoke, the way the street lights work their way through the little clouds, illuminating them and the spaces around them.

“She came outside and caught me smoking, actually. I had never seen or met her before.”

The next weekend, Hailey and I went to the movies. Her Uncle was our chaperone. She and I spent a little bit of time on the phone during the preceding week, but I wasn’t very good at talking to girls yet, so I didn’t have much to say to her. I just listened as she talked about school, her friends, her little brother – but I didn‘t retain much of it. All I could think about was the way her body felt next to mine, the way her hair smelled, the softness of her lips on my neck – I was smitten, but had no idea how to talk about any of it.

Her Uncle was in his mid-twenties. We met up at the mall near her house across town. I was an idiot, so I was wearing black parachute pants and some bizarre shirt that looks like a knock-off version of the jacket MJ rocked in the “Thriller“ video. She still had on black nail polish. Her Uncle was wearing a Ramones-like leather jacket, had a face full of stubble, and was holding a paper cup of coffee. Hailey greeted me with a warm hug and quick kiss, which her Uncle immediately made a face about. He asked me if my parents were cool with us seeing an R-rated movie, and I laughed and told him it was no big deal.

He went and purchased us tickets to see “The Breakfast Club,” while Hailey and I sat on a bench in front of the theaters, her hand already fused into the palm of my own.

When her Uncle turned around to walk back over to where we were sitting, I noticed he was wearing a Led Zeppelin t-shirt.

“Hailey tells me you love rock and roll?”

“Yeah. I kinda want to be a guitar player. I love Led Zeppelin and stuff like that. It’s all I really listen to. Well, and I like some punk, but most of my friends think that stuff is too noisy and loud.”

He gives me an odd look, and then chuckles something to himself about the way I am dressed – something about “nice pants, loser.” Hailey is asking him if he needs to sit near us in the movie, if her mother gave him instruction to keep us separated. Again he starts to laugh.

“I’m supposed to sit right next to the two of you. That’s what a chaperone does. Maybe if you two little lovebirds didn’t make it so obvious to your mothers that your hormones were insane, I wouldn’t have to be here at all. They don’t trust the two of you alone. I’m blaming Mr. Rock and Roll here for that one.”

I’m not too sure what he means by that, so I just play along and laugh with the two of them. Shit man, this is my first date, and already someone is making fun of me? If I was terrified at the dance, that feeling is nothing compared to how stupid and weird I feel right now.

In the theater, her Uncle decides to sit on my right, while Hailey is sitting on my left – Monkey in the Middle. As the previews are starting, Hailey leans into me and kisses me on the mouth. Her Uncle reaches down with his left hand and grabs hold of my right knee with enough force to pop it loose from its mooring to the rest of my leg, muttering into my ear with violence in his voice – “None of that shit today, Mr. Rock and Roll – you understand me?”

I suffer through most of the movie with an aching and throbbing hard-on that I try and cover up with Hailey’s jacket. She has her hand on my left leg, and has been whispering into my ear throughout much of the movie. None of what she says makes as much of an impression as the process of her whispering does – each rush of air into my ear causing more pain in my lap, more desire to kiss her. Her Uncle, who I now realize is as stoned as can be, has eaten not only his popcorn, but also mine. He is now drinking my soda, and every now and then he grabs my knee to reinforce the edict he had previously laid down for me about “that shit.”

After the move ends, we wander around the mall for a bit, Hailey’s Uncle keeping a distance of a good ten paces behind us, watching our every move. He keeps on making these sounds whenever we sink into one another while we walk, sounds that remind me of the promise of violence, the way he crushed my knee and my libido in one simple motion.

Outside of the mall now, my mother has come to pick me up. Hailey and I embrace, and defiantly, we kiss good-bye. I felt a little bit more empowered with my mother being in the vicinity – as if her Uncle couldn’t lay a finger on me in front of her. Hailey feels warm and sweet. I ask her if I can see her again, and she lights up and smiles, nodding her head quickly, and then giving me another kiss to ram the agreement home.

I tried to call her a couple of days later, only to have her Uncle answer the phone. I asked him if I could speak to her, and he immediately started laughing into the phone in a very sinister and terrible way.

“She’s not allowed to talk to you, Mr. Rock and Roll. I told her mother how grabby and kissy you were. She doesn’t want her daughter hanging around with some doper who just wants to get his rocks off. Go buy a guitar and get your rocks off on your own, punk.”

I never saw her again.

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Filed under dumbassery, i used to be stupid, jealous insecurities, rock and motherfucking roll, who is sean?

Cornelius Fakers, or "Protect Ya Neck On Ye Olde Interweb"

So – upon reflection, and after reading through that last Ramble I posted, I’ve come to a very crystal clear conclusion about myself:

I sure as shit hate me some motherfucking Cornelius Fakers.

Allow me to break down the etymology/Seanism for you – a Cornelius Faker is someone who is not who they present themselves to be. Taken from Fight Club, when Ed Norton’s character in the movie scribbles “Cornelius” on his name-tag at the Men Together Support Group meeting, and Meatloaf’s character – Bob – says to him upon looking down at his name-tag – “It’s okay, Cornelius – you can cry.” We all know what a Faker is – so, me being me, I slammed those two words together and came up with Cornelius Faker, which can be used to describe someone who is basically masquerading as something they are not.

There are plenty Cornelius Fakers running around out there in the world, free as a bird, not being held accountable for their fakery and their petty deceptions. I mean – let’s get on Front Street here – I was a Cornelius Faker for years. Full of so much shit that I couldn’t stand to be in the same room as my fakery, the stink of my lies oozing out of me like the sweat of ten thousand Phish fans at a festival in the middle of the desert in July. I lived that life for quite some time, actually – running game on people, making up who I was with each new smiling face I encountered. I think it was mostly out of insecurity, with a smidge of boredom thrown in for good stoner logic measure. Seriously – what was more fun when stoned out of your mind than creating a new persona to wow yourself with?

I had no shame. Truly.

I used to fake people out with all sorts of ridiculous shit. I remember once being at a house party, and telling someone that I had just met that I was writing a book from the point of view of a midget porn star. I explained, in very stoned but glorious detail, how I had come to the realization that these little studs were the norm in skin flicks from the mid-to-late 70s. Every fuck film from that era always had some weird scene where there was a little dude getting blown in the background by some blonde starlet – I used Behind The Green Door as an example of what I was riffing on, although the couple I was talking to had never seen the movie – which was perfect for my ruse.


I saw that couple at another party a few weeks later, and they actually went out and got a copy of the film and saw what I was talking about.

See? Mission Accomplished! I was able to get attention through my Cornelius Fakery.

And that’s really what this type of humanimal is all about – attention. They are usually pretty bright people to begin with, but they lack the social skills and the ability to articulate their lot in life without the crutch of being full of shit. I don’t want to go whole hog and say that all Cornelius Fakers are sociopaths, but that wouldn’t be too far off. Most of them live in this really dark and focused tunnel, where all they see is their con or game playing out – they miss all the nuances and details of the things happening around them. Daily life shit, like what their friends actually think of them. Hell – two of my closest friends when I was in my mid twenties tried to talk to me about this shit one night, and it took years for it to register – I was that deep in it.

But – the lights did come on in my head. Around the time I hit thirty or so, I started to live on Front Street. I stopped bullshitting people. I stopped creating elaborate tales to try and make myself seem like a much more interesting person. I was already interesting. I was already “cool.” I didn’t need to come up with all that fake shit to be Sean – the real shit that I had gone through was totally and ultimately way more entertaining than any ruse or tale I could conjure up. I could hold up my end of a conversation without commandeering it with some fake-ass shit to make motherfuckers pay attention to me.

I learned to breathe and listen.

In this super-infused-with-every-miniscule-detail-that-ever-happened Interweb Generation we currently live in, it is very easy for a Cornelius Faker to sneak up on unsuspecting people and steal their attention. I know – it has happened to me, more than once.

I got conned pretty fucking hardcore back in 2005. And, unlike other motherfuckers – I ain’t too proud to lie – it was a woman who burned my ass. Well, I am pretty sure it was. I met her in an online community of sorts, where everyone has profiles, like MySpace or Facebook – but this one was geared toward people of a different lifestyle. I had been on the site for a few years, and had amassed a decent number of friends/people that I knew – some of them even in Real Life. I had just found myself on the ass-end of a shitacular relationship that had ended in a really terrible and torturous manner. I was fragile. I was lonely. I was easy pickings.

It started off pretty innocently – messaging back and forth. You know – regular random shit that people do when they are trying to connect with another person. Likes, dislikes, all that junk. We’ve all been there, right? She touched on all of the emotional pressure points that I needed to have touched at that time – telling me she liked my writing, that I was “hot,” that she agreed with the way I saw the world. It was like virtually meeting someone who got “it.” That’s what so many of us use The Interweb for – to make some kind of connection with people that lets us know we’re not alone, that tells us we’re not so freakish and scary – hence, all those sites for Furries and all of those sites for Neo-Cons.

ANYWAYS…

After a while, it became pretty apparent that this woman and I needed to meet. She supposedly lived here in NYC, and the cell number she gave me was for this area. We talked on the phone a few times late at night – her tiny little voice so cute and weird at the same time. She was supposedly a photographer, and taught classes at Parsons Design School – and even had a gig for me as an assistant, since I was having a hard time finding work at this point.

When I went to Parsons one afternoon to surprise her – they had no idea who the fuck I was talking about.

Riding the train back to Bensonhurst, I came to the realization that I had probably just been burned. This person never had any intentions of meeting up with me – all of the shit she said was probably bogus. I asked a friend of mine if he had ever talked to her, and he was hysterical – she had been sort of playing the both of us. We decided that night to fuck with her head a little bit, to get a little bit of Brooklyn Justice going for us.


Tragically, he was killed in a terrible bicycle accident less than two weeks later.

With all of the hurricane of the death swirling around me – I kind of ignored her calls/texts/messages. I wasn’t in any kind of space to listen to anyone at that point. I was in the midst of one of my biggest and most disturbing freak-outs of all time. I was still reeling from the death of my grandmother, the death of my failed relationship, and then the death of my friend – and I came to the brilliant decision to move my ass down to Fayetteville, Arkansas – to get away and collect my head, my soul. Plenty of my friends were aghast at my decision, but they were all smart enough to know I was freaking out, and needed the space to freak out.

So I moved.

It wasn’t necessarily the smartest thing I have ever done – but it served it’s purpose. I was able to get my head together. So much so, that when she made another attempt at conning me – I was ready this time.

You see, she created another bogus profile. And she came after me again. I even started to fall for it, until I started noticing subtle nuances in her messages – nuances that led me to believe it was her all over again. This time, she was pretending to be a girl who had brain cancer – she even went so far as to steal some girl’s brain scans that had been posted on the internet somewhere, and tried to pass them off as hers. Me, being the late-night paranoid motherfucker I am, well – I was able to blow those fuckers up and pull the right name off of them. I contacted the girl the scans belonged to. I told her what was up, and she e-mailed me back, saying that this person had been stealing all of her information over the last few weeks, trying to take her entire identity.


I decided to go along with the plan that my late friend and I had agreed upon – pretending like everything was all hunky-dory, and that she had conned me. So she would get lazy. I sent her my number late one night, and she called. Sure enough, on the other end of the phone was the same tiny and odd little voice. She confessed to creating that fake profile to talk to me. She confessed to stealing some poor girl’s identity. She confessed to only wanting to know why I had stopped talking to her in the first place. I played it all off like it was no big deal at all – letting her get good and comfortable with all of it. I told her that my father was sick, and that I was coming back up to NYC for a few days before heading to Santa Fe to take care of him, and that we should get lunch so we could talk about all of this in person. She agreed.

OF COURSE, the plans she and I tried to make when I was in NYC fell through on her end – she had something that always seemed to come up. I told her not to worry, that we would work it all out when I got back up after taking care of him. I went to Santa Fe, dealt with the hardest shit I have ever dealt with in my entire life, and then scooted back up to The City.

We would talk a lot. She would text me at all hours of the day or night. She was constantly e-mailing me pictures of her in NYC, trying to quell the questions I had in me about her real whereabouts – since I had become quite crafty, and was tracking her IP Address, which resolved to just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. I asked her what she was doing in Wisconsin one night on the phone, and the connection suddenly went dead. I tried calling her back, but she let it go straight to voicemail. This pattern continued for a few days, until I had the miraculous epiphany of all epiphanies.

Most people, and I’m sorry to say this, are not very smart when it comes to passwords and things of that nature. A mobile carrier will always set a phone’s password to *1234 for every phone – it’s just how they do it. And a lot of people never think to change it. They figure nobody can get into that shit, right?

Wrong.

The next time I called her and it went to her voicemail, I punched the numbers in and waited. The automated voice told me she had 13 unheard messages. 13? This was excellent news. I sat there on my bed, smoking and chuckling as I heard dude after dude asking her where she was – each one of them using a different name for her. Her voicemail was set up in a way that it read the number the message came from before hearing the actual message. I started writing the numbers down, corresponding them with the names these poor bastards were using for her. I did this for a few days, compiling a list that would eventually have seven dudes on it – five from NYC, one from Florida, and one from over in Scotland.


I knew I was about to flip the script on her. I was just waiting for the right time, the perfect moment when an opponent leaves themselves too open, where one magical and well-placed blow will end the whole dance. I had all the cards now. I could, at any moment, do the simplest thing like placing a call to one of the dudes, and blowing her entire little game up. But I was being patient. I was waiting for her to really slip up.

I know it sounds like I was obsessed and maybe even a little mentally unstable – which is probably true. My father had just died, and here I was, drowning my sorrows in whiskey, Xanax, reefer, and a wild goose chase with a Cornelius Faker of a girl who really didn’t deserve a nanosecond of my time. Hell – I was even taking calls from her while loaded at the bar, and begging her to come and meet me, knowing all the while that she would never do such a thing – she was not real.

Every now and then on the phone with her, I would let a name slide on out of my mouth – one of the names of the other dudes she was running her game on – like, “Yeah, my boy XXXXX down in Florida was telling me about some chick named XXXXX that he’s been talking to. She sounds like a real piece of work. I hope he doesn’t get burned again – he can’t take much more of that kind of shit,” and then she would react all freaked-out and hang up, only to call back ten or fifteen minutes later saying she had “lost her signal” or some other shit. It was seriously the best cat and mouse game I had ever been involved in, yet I knew all along I had won.


I finally blew her up one night when I was really good and hammered, laying into her about the ways in which people like her hurt people, about how she abused and destroyed someone’s trust. I told her that I had contacted the girl that she had stolen the brain scans from, and about how my late friend and I knew what she was doing months and months earlier, and about how I was just carrying out the string of what he and I had discussed that night. I told her that I had the names and numbers of the other dudes she was playing, and read them off to her one by one, listening to the sound of her whimpering and crying on the other end of the phone.

“Why? Why are you doing this to me? Please don’t call them! Please!!!”

Those were the last words I ever heard her say. I hung up the phone in between her sobs and gasps, feeling like I had done what I had set out to do. There was no need for me to call any of those dudes – they needed to figure the shit out on their own. Not my problem. I was able to free myself of this Cornelius Faker, this terribly wired emotional terrorist – freeing myself also from the feelings I had somehow developed for someone so twisted and full of lies. Yes – I had feelings for her. Those types of people always prey on our feelings. Sad, but a terrible truth.

After all of that – I am always a little leery of anyone who enters into my little world. Can you blame me? This world is overflowing with Cornelius Fakers, people trying to suck the energy and goodness right out of you through your little flat-screen monitors. Yes, I know that we’re all Nigerian Millionaires in waiting – we just need to send that initial wire transfer over there to unlock all that loot we’ve been promised. But at least in those cases – we know what we’re dealing with. Right? A Cornelius Faker is a little harder to spot at first – but I know how. I really do. If you ever find yourself wondering if someone you’re dealing with is one – shoot me an e-mail. I’ll gladly help you suss it out.

Cornelius Fakers. Sociopaths. See?

Be careful out there.

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The Winding Arc of Personal History, or "How I Never Learned to Discern Friend From Foe"


That right there is your humble narrator on a trip to Magic Mountain in 1989 – the one in the baseball cap. Yes, I know I was sexy as fuck in High School – that’s why I was fighting the ladies off left and right to go hide in my room and listen to Iron Maiden records in the dark with a bottle of Jergen’s.

Late last night I was having a very deep and personal IM conversation with someone from my past – a person who has witnessed the metamorphosis of who and what I have become over a certain period of time in my life. One of the interesting things that I took away from this conversation, was that even back in the early part of this decade, I was already well on my way to becoming this thing that I am now – a man who doesn’t like to suffer my own foolishness for very long.

You see, back then, I had just got off the streets. I had been homeless for a patch there, and my ability to decipher who was or was not my “friend” was a little askew. After spending your nights rummaging around in fountains outside of churches to procure enough silver to drop into the Coinstar machine so that you could get some non-perishables to carry around in your beat-up Dickies satchel, your ability to see things for what they are is a little off.

Trust me on this one – I know.

While homeless, I spent a lot of my time hanging out outside of the coffee joint at a very rich and ritzy mall smack dab in the highest-income bracket Phoenix had to offer. They had this huge patio area that was perfect for me to loiter in. I would usually go in, buy myself a cup of coffee, and sit out there for hours, scribbling away in my little notebook/journal thing. I tried very hard not to bother anyone there – I just wanted to be around people who were going about their daily lives. I never begged anyone for change or any of that shit – wasn’t my style. Plus – asking people for help of any kind has never been something I have ever been any good at.

I wasn’t the type of cat to make my situation – my homelessness – my thing.

After a while, this weird phenomenon started to occur daily. The young kids – all in their late teens/early twenties – would just randomly come around and start talking to me. Some of them I knew peripherally, seeing them at this spot all the time, acting all foolish into the night like I used to at their age, hootin’ and hollerin’, making all the older folks uneasy and skittish. Some of them I’d noticed in different ways, observing them in the late afternoons, knocking out their classwork in silence at their tables, shoving their schoolwork into overstuffed bags and backpacks as soon as their peers arrived on the scene. Those were usually the girls – it seemed like they didn’t want the boys to know they gave a fuck about school, or even about their futures. So very Rydell High of them, I know.

Mind you – I am playing with time and space right now. This is not necessarily the chronological order of things as they actually played out. A lot of these kids were already sniffing around, back in the previous months when I was running around with Chongo and The Squirrel – before The Squirrel had her massive freak-out and Chongo was able to finally act as if an Agent of Karma, leaving me with nowhere to go but the streets. If you happen to be someone from this period of my life, and you’re reading this ramble and take offense at what I’m riffing on – that’s your problem – not mine. Go write your own shit.

ANYWAYS

These kids started to swarm me a bit, just pushing the envelope on personal space without any regard for etiquette, sitting down at whatever table I had occupied, pulling smokes out of my pack as if I, like them, had parental units funding my lifestyle. Far from the truth. I never had it like that even when I was a kid – I always had to work for my own shit. Regardless, I now found myself in a situation where I needed to draw lines in the sand with these little Trustafarians-in-the-making.

I started keeping all of my shit stowed away in my satchel, with the straps of the thing wrapped into the legs of whatever chair I was sitting in. I didn’t trust people very well – what with the never-ending array of shit that would invariably end up missing – smokes, lighters, pens, hell – once, one of these little fuckers even stole my bar of soap out of my bag when I left my satchel on the table. Who the fuck steals a homeless guy’s bar of soap? Was it a trophy of some sort?

I was trying really hard to find a job – but Phoenix was a tourism-driven Economy, and this was Post-9/11. Resorts were laying people off left and right. Restaurants were folding all over town. All of my contacts from that world wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole – who was going to hire someone without an address or a phone, let alone someone who had a history of abusing cocaine? I was using a friend of mine’s telephone number as a point of contact for potential employers, but nobody was calling him at all. People looked at me funny when I handed them a job application that had a PO Box as an address, even after I told them that was just where my mail went.

Everything was kind of closing in on me.

I certainly wasn’t going to call my family and ask them for help – that would have been stupid of me. I did, at one really desperate and panic-stricken point, call someone that owed me some money, only to have them tell me(I shit you not) – “I’m really kind of struggling myself right now, my job is only paying me $75k, and I’m still used to making more than that – wish I could help you, good luck bro!” To this day, I still cannot look that individual in the eye – and I probably never will.

I’m not sure how it finally played out, my memory of this particular snapshot being a bit hazy – either I called her, or an ex of mine did – but my grandmother ended up floating some cash so that I could get into a ratty, rent-by-the-week joint. I had been keeping my homelessness from my grandmother – still calling her every Sunday as if everything were okay for months, using coins I had collected from those church fountains, continuing the illusion that my life was “on track.” The ex deposited the check into her account, took out enough cash for me to put the money down to get into my spot, and then rationed the rest out to me for a little bit until I found a paying gig.

Funnily enough, I ended up getting hired on at the very same coffee spot that I had been spending all of my time at – the Manager of the place interviewed me maybe two days after I got off the street, and gave me a morning shift. Which, on my first day, I came close to blowing, as I did a very typical Sean-move and overslept. She was stern but fair with me, and truly ended up being one of my favorite people I have ever had the joy of working for/with.

Meanwhile, all of those rotten kids were still buzzing around me like vultures. Most of them begging me to glad-hand them free coffee, pastries, or whatever else they could get their spoiled hands on. I was just thankful to have a purpose other than wandering the streets aimlessly – a job that allowed me to feel like I was worth something again, even if it wasn’t where I had been before. Unfortunately, I still spent far too much of my time there at the spot, because heading back to my little rat-hole meant dealing with all of the crackheads and shady nature of a rent-by-the-week joint.

Some of the kids found out where I lived, after one of them had given me a ride home one night. Now possessing a cell phone again, my number started to circulate amongst them. Late night “Hey man, you got any weed?” calls starting coming in. Random people knocking on my door. Getting accosted in the laundry room by drunk Navajo bikers asking me if I knew where to get any methamphetamine. The odd sexual encounter with friends of co-workers.

Basically – life getting back to normal. Or at least Sean Normal.

I remember sitting in my place with the aforementioned friend. We had just returned from the coffee spot, and she was incredibly agitated about the way that some of these kids spoke to me, the way that I let them sometimes treat me. She was going off – talking about how they all had no idea how lucky they were that I even gave them the time of day, and about how I needed to start really thinking about closing my door to them a little bit more. About how they were all using me, as if I were some cool accessory they could show off – the older cat with all the tattoos and the wisdom the could milk off of him. The guy that had been through it. The guy who was too nice to tell them to fuck off, even when they deserved it.

I remember the next morning, waking up and thinking that my life needed to be more than all of this. I sat on my bed, watching the way the light caught my cigarette smoke in waves, floating up to the ceiling. I remember standing in the shower, hot water scalding me as I brushed my teeth, thinking about all of these people in my life – about how they were all a distraction from a much larger disease.

I had hardly ever in my life had any real friends.

It was mostly my own fault – I kept myself so guarded after my teen years. I had been betrayed – or so I thought – by so many different people. It felt as though every time I had ever trusted anyone enough to let them “in,” they were sinking a knife in between my ribs while shaking my hand or hugging me, talking shit about me behind my back or just flat-out demeaning me in their presence. Here I was – a grown man – lamenting for the loss of my High School sense of self? What the fuck was that all about?

Back in High School, I was the really smart kid who didn’t want anyone to know he was smart. I started getting high and hanging out with all the metal and punk kids my Freshman year – distancing myself from all of the other kids in the AP classes I had tested into. I was talking back to my teachers. I was ditching classes. I was running with kids who weren’t like me – most of them had no choice but to be who they were, as the system in place wasn’t going to lend a hand to them, wasn’t going to show them that they mattered in any way. To me, school really was a prison with bells. The High School I was going to was full of kids I had grown up with after moving to Phoenix. It was also full of a lot of kids who had prosperous families. Not all of them, but plenty of them, received cars for their sixteenth birthdays, being the exact opposite of me. Most of them were tooling around, having a great time in High School. I couldn’t say the same – not with me riding around on a beat-up skateboard, having grown men jumping out of cars to kick my “punk” ass, because people didn’t understand a kid with blue or purple hair back then. That High School was a nightmare for me. I could have run circles around everyone academically if I actually applied myself, but it was just so much easier to slip through the cracks in that place – to disappear into a cloud of smoke.

I just didn’t fit there.

I got asked to leave that school before the second semester of my Sophomore year had even started. During finals week. My mother was so disappointed in me – a kid who had scored a 1275 on the PSATs while having a 103 degree temperature – she didn’t know what to do, where to turn. I had to beg the Principal of the “Alternative” High School to let me go to school there, promising him I would get no lower than a B-average. Promising him I would have perfect attendance unless I was genuinely ill. No cutting classes. No bullshit. He made me not only sign a “contract” of sorts, but he made me pinky swear with him right in front of my mother. Dude didn’t play around.

I remember the first day I was allowed into classes there – I was fucking terrified. In my mind, all of these kids were refugees from Juvie, burgeoning hardened criminals. I wasn’t sure if I belonged there. I remember sitting in that first class and noticing that the other kids wouldn’t even look at me. I figured there was going to be some sort of hazing, some sort of rite of passage that I would have to endure and survive. It was English class, and the teacher handed out a Xeroxed copy of a Vonnegut short story, “Harrison Bergeron.” We went around the room, with the teacher calling on one terrible reader after another, kids reading words that didn’t appear, or words being mispronounced in ways that made my mind hurt.

Then the teacher called on me.

I sat there for a second or two, coming to a decision – I wasn’t going to try and keep acting like The Stoned Kid anymore. I was going to be me, irrespective of what anyone else wanted me to be. I didn’t care if I was friends with any of these people, not in this moment. I wasn’t going to hide who I was – I was just going to be Sean.

It took a while, and after many stops and starts, I started to make friends there. My Junior and Senior years at that school were great, other than my little trip to The Bughouse at seventeen, and the weird shit that happened upon my return that caused me to drop out for a little bit. After some prodding by my teachers and some friends, I went back to school, and finished up with my class. And I felt really good, like I had not only made my family proud – but also my teachers.

But I disappeared after that – drifting my way into some basic writing classes at the local Community College, since we didn’t have any money for me to go to a University. I hid out, away from almost everyone. Ditching the people I had grown close to, keeping myself somewhat separate, alienated. I was embarrassed on some level, the kid who was smart but couldn’t even get a grant to go to school because his parents made just enough to ruin his eligibility. After my father left us again – this time for the last time – I joined the Navy, completely cutting all ties to everyone I had been close with – most of them very puzzled as to why I would do such a thing, me being this overly-political kid with huge problems with our government and everything, and me not even giving anyone anything resembling a set of reasons for why I signed myself up.

After all of that – I still couldn’t maintain any friendships. I tried to rekindle some of them when I returned after my time in service, but most people weren’t warming to the idea, and I really couldn’t blame them at all – I was a terrible loud-mouthed prick at that point. I would run my mouth about all sorts of shit, pissing everyone off around me in less than ten seconds flat. After trying and trying to get people to trust me again – I just ditched everyone. It took me years to realize the mistakes I had made, to own my own bullshit and behavior.

I was pretty alone for a long time after that.

I remember deciding to walk to work that morning instead of taking the bus. I kept on thinking about all of the friends I’d had in my life – all of their faces sliding into my vision, some with a huge red X super-imposed like on a Game Show. Some of them looked warm and kind. Then my mind starting moving quickly into scenes that had baffled me – scenes of conflict and strife, scenes of gossip and bullshit, scenes of misunderstandings that would never be explained or unraveled – not with my propensity for running away from shit that made me vulnerable or uneasy.

And now?

Now I’m older, but not necessarily so much wiser. Sure, I’ve been able, at least over the last few years, to develop real friendships with people. And in this ridiculous age of The Internet, lots of faces from my past have sprung back into my view – some by my doing, some by theirs. And even though I’m still scattered a bit emotionally when it comes to the concept of friendship in the traditional sense of the word, I’m learning to pick and choose my spots a little more. Learning that not everything is easily explained away. Learning that even at the age I am now – I’m not always the best judge of character when it comes to friendship – and that’s okay. It’s okay, because I am a better friend to myself than I ever have been before. I’m honest with myself, and in my dealings with other people – especially with the people I hold close to me. I’m not going to allow myself the old and all-too-familiar refuge of hiding behind easily-built walls. I’m not going to run from genuine and justified confrontation in regard to my behavior or my reaction to the behavior of others – because that’s just bullshit.

Just know this: if I call you “friend,” it means something.

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A Static Line.

I’ve been stumbling around in this really weird Half-Light World for a few weeks now. It’s kind of fitting that Autumn has finally started to draw her curtains on Summer – I just cannot seem to produce with the Sun hanging up in the sky. I’m coming to the conclusion that I am probably much more of a shadowperson than I will readily admit to.

I spend a ridiculous amount of my time throughout the day constructing things that never get completed. Sentence fragments hang in the air like a mist, only to evaporate by the time I actually get home to try and spend time nurturing them and bringing them to life. I sit at my desk at The Job daydreaming. Replaying memories and snippets of conversations from my past, putting them under a microscope to study their mitochondrial signatures. To search them for weapons of mass destruction. Sometimes I wish I could scoop these memories up and hold them close to my face, to breathe them into me.

The Cycle Of Haunting.

The Job requires that I rise early, to be there at an hour where I can start hitting the phones and get my shuck and jive on for people before they have their second cup of coffee. Cold-calling people in an industry that is slowly dying, what with so many unfinished buildings all over Brooklyn – Ghostly Tombs erected for Captains Of Industry that will never materialize. Constructs that will stand empty and cold, like a Soviet Dream.

This parallel is not coincidental.


Most mornings, when my alarm rudely interrupts whatever terrible dream I’m immersed within – I’m as grateful as I’m groggy. But there are some mornings…

I have the same hang-dog eyes. I make the same terrible guttural sound when clearing my airway of phlegm from smoking for far too many years. Waiting for the shower to reach an acceptable level of heat, I lean into the mirror, checking my eyes and face to make sure I am still me. I. Myself. Looking down at my hands as they struggle to hold my weight, I see the same wrinkles, weathered workaday creases next to similar scarring from long-forgotten pugnaciousness.

The Daily Inventory.

Enshrouded by the rising steam of the shower, I do my final check off for the symptom complex of my impending demise. Looking deep into the browns of my eyes, hunting for the tell-tale signs of yellowing from the shut-down of my liver. Opening my mouth wide and true to study the wall of my throat for a signal, searching for the larva of the first polyp. Prodding and pressing at my lymph nodes, fingering them for a hint of mass, for tumors.

Brushing my teeth in the shower, I feel around with my tongue, snake-like, blindly studying the make-up of the spongy tissue above my uvula. This is usually the part of The Exercise when the coughing fits begin. Choking on toothpaste and gasping for air, I try to hold myself steady in the stream of water. Submerging my head underneath the showerhead, pulling the steam into my face like smoke. I cough so hard. So hard that my balls ache. So hard that my ribs feel broken. So hard that I see little black spots in the ambient corners of my field of vision. My lungs spasm and contort, breaking loose the pollutants and the muck. I spit it into the drain, watching it sometimes sit right on top of it before the water erodes it away like soft earth in a downpour. It’s like a fucking death rattle.

Like his Death Rattle.


Standing on the train platform, surrounded by fellow commuters. My mind always drifts into these odd and terribly paranoid places. Do they know? Do they see me as I see me, as someone doomed to be a disease-ridden Gregor Samsa of sorts? I try not to look anyone in the eye. The people who cannot stand still, their milling about makes me boil. Why must they always circle me like vultures?

Riding the train, I still maintain distance – as much as one can when smashed together like cattle. Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is my home. This is where I belong – I never should have been taken away from here. There are moments, fleeting, yet still emotionally crippling – where I see his face superimposed over that of a random commuter. These things, they happen. You cannot be touched by death in this manner and get away scot-free, without revisiting it.


The Job, the grind of it – it keeps me in a delusional place. The people I work with are good people. The people I work with are kindhearted and seemingly genuine. The people I work with all have a Secret History, just like me. Just like everyone who breathes the air, who stalks the ground – all of us with locked doors. The Job is a means to an end, a mostly-pleasant distraction with a monetary reward. The Job, at times, allows me the ability to wear a mask, to appear like everyone else. The people I call on the telephone cannot see that I am rubbing my feet together underneath my desk like a cricket, cornered. The people that I call on the phone cannot smell my anxious sweat. The hands that I shake in meetings do not know that I lay awake at night, fighting sleep and dreams.

So many empty buildings.

So many unfinished constructs.


Sitting at the desk in my office at home, I can see the skyline. Every night The Empire State Building glows a different color. Every night I can see the flickering lights of the buildings, the amber rising up into the starless sky. Every night as I sit down to write, I think about those days, the roles we all played. Sitting staring across rooftops, into the inky night of Manhattan. Looking across the courtyard into the open windows of neighbors, studying their patterns, witnessing their private movements.

As a child, I knew nothing of Death – it never touched me. But we are never not children to our parents, and the loss of both of mine has certainly touched me. Orphaned. Detached. Their deaths were years apart, but are held together by some form of connective tissue, like Siamese Twins – never fully separated.

I remember the first death so hazily. I was infused with so much raw emotion, so much self-righteous anger, that in retrospect it seems to have overshadowed the finality. His death, however, lingers. The intimacy of it all, the combat and the struggle – I cannot shake his ghost. I see him staring back at me in the mirror. I see his reflection in the sheen of a parked car as I walk by. I hear his voice wrapped around the timbre of my own. I feel him in my DNA, writhing and rising to bask in the light of me.

To say that these experiences haven’t shaped me would be a terrible lie. To not share them, to not write about them, would deprive me of the opportunity to unravel these knots, to identify these feelings. To not write about them would be wasteful. To not share them would be selfish.

To not write about them would be another empty building.

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Filed under i'm still an angry motherfucker, nuggets of infinite wisdom, who is sean?