Month: March 2013

Wild Hare

Cash, ass, or grass, baby. No one rides for free.

That’s what the faded old bumper sticker on the back of my ’57 Chevy says, and it’s still true all these years later. Pay me, lay me, or fly away with me; ain’t nobody gets off easy.

I’m a busy guy this time of year. I got shit to do, and not a lot of time to do it. People think that Santa cat has it hard, but I got it just as bad, you know. Hiding Easter eggs and leaving candy isn’t an easy gig. I may look cute and fluffy, but brother, all these years on the job has made me hard as nails. I gotta keep away from asshole dogs trying to chase me and shit like that. It’s rough being the Easter Bunny, man. Real hard.

I speed down the highway in my trusty Chevy, windows down, Elvis blaring on the stereo, the wind whipping my ears back. I spark up a joint and inhale. Fuck you, Bill Clinton, you pussy. Be a man and admit you torched a few in your day. Hell, I bet that greasy fuck still lights up a fat J when that bitch Hillary isn’t around. Coolest president ever, man.

It’s dark and my headlights cut through the night. I look down at my phone to check the time; 12:43 a.m. Shit. I press my lucky foot down on the gas pedal and the old Chevy protests, lurks forward, and then catches up to speed. Don’t fail me now, baby. We aren’t even near done yet. I’ve made decent time so far, hitting up the East Coast in under an hour. Forty states to go in less than eight hours. I take another drag off my blunt, the cherry lighting up the interior a pale red. I exhale and the cab of the pick-up fills with acrid smoke and billows out the window into the cool March night. My next stop approaches and I step on the brakes, the old engine whining to a halt. I park the truck, get out, and walk around to the bed, grabbing the sack. It rattles as the plastic eggs clack against each other. I reach for a few wicker baskets and walk up the gravel road to the houses clustered there.

Once inside, I fill the baskets with loot. I see a plate of carrot sticks on a side table next to an ugly floral couch and sigh. I fuckin’ hate carrots, but know the kiddies will be disappointed if I don’t take some, so I take one in my paw and bite a hunk off, crunching loudly as I chew it. My stomach churns as I swallow and I fight to keep from gagging. Would it kill the little rugrats to leave a snifter of brandy or something?

Finished with this stop, I hop back in my truck–no pun intended–and haul down the road to the next houses, repeating my routine: basket, eggs, take a bite of whatever stale produce that’s left out for me. As I chew a mouthful of limp lettuce, I think of Santa and his cookies and milk and I hate that fat sonuvabitch even more. Pretentious shithead. He has eight reindeer and a magic sleigh, and I have an old beat-to-shit Chevy.

After a few hours and countless carrot sticks, celery, and bits of lettuce later, I find myself in the Midwest, which has always been my favorite part of the country. Down-home people, simple and honest, just like I like ’em. Much to my delight, one house left me a plate of cookies and glass of Coke. I chow the cookies down, the crumbs falling on my hairy chest, and I half-assly brush them away with a fat paw. I reach into my bag and fumble for my flask, finally locating the stainless steel container at the bottom. I unscrew the cap and pour a generous amount into the Coke and guzzle it down in a few long gulps. The carbonation tickles my nose and it twitches. Real fuckin’ cute, I know.

I let out a long belch and excuse myself. I wipe my paw across my mouth. Not bad manners, just good booze my granddad was fond of saying. I let out a contented sigh and start to make my way out the back door when my nose starts twitching again, but this time, it’s not good. A rancid, sulfurous odor fills my nostrils and I recoil in disgust.

Goddamn it. I was hoping I wouldn’t run in to this fucker tonight, but I guess I’m not so lucky. I know instantly who I’m dealing with: The Egg Man. He’s a lesser known figure of Easter, but he’s gaining some popularity. He’s the guy that goes around eating all the brightly decorated hardboiled eggs. He’s a fuckin’ slob of a beast, and I hate running into him.

I creep into the kitchen and sure enough, there he is, hunched over a plate of eggs, his fat fingers clumsily peeling the orange, pink, yellow, green, and blue shells off. There’s a pile near his feet and he shifts and I can hear them crunching under his feet. He’s shoving egg after egg into his gob, and I can see bits of yolk stuck to the outside of his mouth. My stomach flip-flops again at the sound of him mawing these things. It’s a sick, wet sound and he licks his lips, spreading the yolk around more.

He stops briefly, lifts up his right leg a bit and lets a demonic fart bomb explode from his ass and he laughs a simpleton chuckle.

I try to maintain my composure, but the smell is too noxious and I cough. The Egg Man whips around, dropping an egg on the ground. He looks down at it and back at me, and I can see the hatred in his eyes. He steps forward, crunching the egg under a giant booted foot, squishing the contents underneath.

“You…” he growls. I can see him making fists with his meaty hands. They open and shut as he clenches them.

“Hello, you fat bastard. Happy Easter.”

“Fuck you, Rabbit. This is my holiday now, bitch. Why don’t you take your gay little baskets and get the fuck outta here?”

“Fat chance, you pathetic piece of shit. This is my turf. Find your own holiday to exploit. I hear “Worthless Piece of Dog Shit Day” is up for grabs. Perfect for you.”

“You want some of this, Easter Bunny? Come and fuckin’ get it!” He lunges at me, his thick-as-tree-trunk arms flailing wildly as he grabs for me. I bob away from him and punch him in the kidney. He howls in pain and doubles over.

“You asshole!” he howls and doubles over in pain, clutching his sides. He looks up at me, and snarls. I can see bits of colored shell stuck in his teeth and I fight the urge to vomit.

He forgets I’m a rabbit and I weave away from him effortlessly as he reaches for me again and again.

“That the best you got? Come on! Hit me! Hit me as hard as you can!” I taunt him. He screeches in anger and tries to grab me again, but I move away too fast for him. He trips over a chair at the table and falls to the ground with a hard “thud.”

I go over and stand above him, my lucky foot on his chest, keeping him pinned to the ground.

“Koo koo ka-choo, motherfucker,” I spit at the Egg Man. He tries to reach up at me with his chubby arms. I can see his fingers are dyed from all the eggs he’s eaten. I press my foot into him harder and he squeals in pain.

“Like I said, asshole. This is my holiday. Get the fuck out of here, you worthless piece of garbage.”

The Egg Man groans at the weight of my foot on his barrel chest and finally relents.

“Okay, okay, okay…you win this time, Bunny. Just please, let me up. I promise to leave you alone!”

I glare down at him, staring hard into his black eyes and I let my foot of his chest and kick him hard in the kidney. He chokes as his breath leaves him.

“Bastard…” he coughs as he tries to get up. He makes it to his hands and knees and starts coughing. I kick him in the ass and he lurches forward, hitting his head on the kitchen table. He gets up on one knee and wheezes as he hauls the rest of him up off the ground.

“Suck my dick, Bunny,” he gasps as he stand up.

“Yeah, that’s what your mom said last night, Egg Man. Get the fuck out of here. I got work to do.”

The Egg Man flips me off, stumbling as he leaves the house. The wooden screen door bounces on its frame as it shuts.

I clean up the kitchen a bit, not wanting to draw attention to the activities that went down while the owners were sleeping. I finish up my duties, and make my way out of the front door, but not before I spot the plate of carrot sticks resting on the foyer table.

I grab one in my paw, shove it in my mouth, and take a huge chunk out of it.

“Happy fuckin’ Easter.”

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Two Stories

Jake is playing video games and ignoring me. He’s staring intently at the television screen, jerking his body in synch to the character as he shoots the pretend enemy. He clicks the buttons on the controller in rapid-fire succession and lets out a victory cry as he murders his foe. I tried playing with him once, but my novice  skill level made Jake angry and he hasn’t let play with him since.

I’m laying on my back on his bed, my head hanging over the edge, and I stare at the ceiling fan above me whirl around, focusing my attention on one blade, but I get dizzy and stop.

“Die, motherfucker!” Jake yells. His sudden outburst startles me and I sit up. “I’m going to fuck your mother, asshole!” he yells again.

“You realize this is a fantasy world, Jake. They can’t actually hear you,” I say to him. He grunts in reply and shoots a guy in the head. Blood splatters the screen and I cringe at the reality of it.

“Yes, I realize this.” He sounds annoyed.

“I mean because if this were real life, you’d be a murderer and in jail, and probably on death row. I bet you’d be some guy’s girlfriend, too. What’s your opinion on anal rape, Jake, because I’m pretty sure you’d be getting raped.”

“Jessie, don’t you have anything to do instead of distracting me from my mission? I’m almost at a checkpoint and I need to focus.” The entire time he’s talking, he’s mowing people down with his rifle. It disturbs me he’s being so blase about all the death he’s inflicting, real or not.

“If I had known you were going to ignore me all afternoon, I would have stayed home and been alone by myself, Jason.” I never understood why he wanted to be called Jake instead of Jason. Jason is a much better name, in my opinion. Why Jake? What’s wrong with Jason? I dunno…I just like Jake better. It’s like men named John who go by Jack. But why? I don’t get it, Jake. Some things aren’t meant to be gotten, Jessie…

I sit up on the bed and stare outside the window at the other houses in our suburban neighborhood. I live three houses down from Jake and his family. Our parents have been friends forever and Jake and I grew up together. We’re an odd duo, me and Jake. Once he hit puberty, he got incredibly handsome and tall and started lifting weights and has a pretty decent body for a seventeen year old guy. He’s really popular at our school and everyone loves him. I, however, hit puberty and gained fifty pounds and am only five feet four inches. My mother tells me I’m going through my “ugly duckling phase” now. If I knew how long this phase would last, I’d feel better about it, but it seems like there’s no end in sight. I don’t know why Jake still hangs out with me, to be honest. Maybe out of pity. I think his parents threatened to take away his car if he doesn’t pretend to be my friend. Despite his motives, I’m glad I still have him.

Jake is still yelling at the tv, but now he has on that silly headset that lets you talk to other players in the same game. A stream of obscenities and insults flies out of his mouth as he kills more people. I get up off his bed and walk over to the window. I raise the blinds and notice how dusty they are. I run my finger along one of the blades and look down in disgust at the thick layer of grime that’s on it. I wipe my hand on my jeans quickly as if the dirt is going to start eating my flesh. I unlock the window and push it up. Jake’s window doesn’t have a screen on it. He told me he took it off because it makes sneaking out of the house at night easier. When he does, he usually comes over to my house and we walk down the street to the park on the corner and sit on the teeter-totter. One time I stole some wine coolers from my parents’ bar down in the basement and we sat on the playground equipment, talked about life, and drank the kiwi-strawberry-banana-mango liquid. I feel like a thirteen year old girl, Jessie. Don’t your parents have better booze? I lied and said they didn’t, but really I was too scared to drink anything harder than this.

A cool early spring breeze blows by me, carrying the smell of the blooming lilac bushes below and I close my eyes and breathe in deeply. The scent takes me back to memories of our childhood when Jake and I would build forts behind the bushes by the fence that separates his yard from the neighbors. That was our sanctuary to protect us from the world, where we’d go to get away from everything that plagues two 10-year-old kids.

I straddle the window ledge, letting my foot dangle outside. The sun feels warm on my skin. I reach up and balance myself as I bring my other leg outside.

“Jake? I’m going to jump,” I call out to him. If he heard me, he doesn’t reply.

I duck my head under the window and scoot myself further on the ledge, trying hard to keep my balance. I shut my eyes again, take a deep breath, and push off the ledge. I’m only two stories up, but the fall to the ground seems like it takes hours. I land hard on my right leg and feel it crumple beneath me as my ankle snaps. The smell of the lilacs is more powerful now and I crawl on my hands and knees to the bushes.

They saved me before and they’ll save me again.

Blink

I stare at the blinking cursor on the blank word document in front of me. Funny it’s called a word document when there aren’t any actual words. The cursor flashes steadily, reminding me with each pulse that’s another second that’s gone by without writing. I start counting along. One…two…three…fifty-five…almost a full minute. How quickly that time passed; how little I’ve gotten done in those fifty-five seconds. I start thinking about life and how it applies to this very situation. People stare at an empty screen, waiting for something to fill it up as time slips by them. The next thing they know, it’s years later and they still sit and stare at nothing. Pretty heavy stuff, man. You dig?

My creativity and general lust for writing has been non-existent in the last month. I have no good ideas, and the ones I think of are also not good. Fuck it, I should just write a story about vampires. The last resort is always vampires…or zombies. Hey! What about vampire zombies?!  Step aside, everyone; I got this.

Aside from the idea stream running dry, I just don’t feel like writing. Well, that isn’t exactly true; I feel like it and then stare at my computer for an hour, and then give up, clearly defeated and disappointed in myself. I tried to identify exactly what my deal was, why I just haven’t had it–whatever it is–for a month. Part of it is the new job. Before the job, I didn’t have much to do than write. Now I’m employed, I come home and just let the bustle and commotion of the day ooze out of me. I’m tired physically. My feet and back hurt and I can hear the voice of my late Grandma Esther say to me, “you need to get better shoes. And stand up straight. If you don’t have good posture now, you’re going to end up hunched over when you’re my age.” Okay, Grandma, I will. Mentally? Mentally, I’m exhausted. I sit out on the patio for hours, contemplating my life and other really philosophical stuff.

But mainly, my problem is him. Wait–let me capitalize Him. Make Him the proper noun he is without personalizing this too much. He (also another name for Him) and I are no more. We were and now are not. Kind of like when Madonna dated Dennis Rodman. He and I, me and Him, we had this thing. It was a pretty good thing, great even, at least to me. We wrote together, as this was our shared thing. He is more talented than I am, and I was intimidated by his success. Not in a bad way or anything, but more in an incredulous “you want to write…with me?” And write we did. Many lazy weekend days were spent across from each other at a table, laptops back-to-back, in some sort of word version of Battleship. We’d each be off in our own fictitious worlds, yet sharing the same air…and ashtray. It was indescribable sharing this with Him. I never shared my writing time with anyone before, and He was my first. My ex-husband never really cared much for my interests or hobbies or what I was passionate about. I never let him (notice the lack of proper noun-ing) read my work because I knew he wouldn’t be interested in it. But He was, and I will probably always love Him forever for that one small thing we shared.

But He stole away my want to write. Perhaps He was my muse and I didn’t realize it at the time. Or maybe writing now reminds me solely of Him and Us and it’s still too raw of a wound yet.

Or maybe I’m just being lazy and making excused and trying to blame Him.

Whatever the case may be, I continue to stare at the blinking cursor, waiting for the words to come back to me.

March 10, 2013

Hi.

It’s now 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2013, and don’t tell Jamie, but I’m sitting on her bed. Also, if you’re reading this, Jamie, insert Jedi mind-meld here.

It’s been a fairly quiet and uneventful weekend for me, which normally, I wouldn’t complain about, but I’m finding myself to be particularly lonely these past few days. The aforementioned Jamie is working at SXSW here in Austin and has a really bonkers schedule because of it, so I haven’t seen her or our mutual friends, who are also doing the SXSW thing. It’s just been me and Jay the Cat, and I think he’s getting irritated with me trying to talk to him all the time, and when he wants to talk, I’m not in the mood to do so, or it’s like, 3 a.m. in the morning.

Are you awake, Erin? No, Jay, I’m trying to sleep. But I have something to tell you. Can it wait, Jay? I need more sleep. But it’s really important, Erin. Sigh…okay, Jay. What is it? Can I sit on your chest and put my paws in your face? What? No! But I really like doing that, Erin. Leave me alone, Jay. And keep your paws out of my face. I’ve seen what you do in the litter box…

Lonely, a bit bored, and a bit of depression is kicking in. Real talk time: I haven’t been taking my medication. Now, before you give me a stern lecture on the importance of maintaining my mental health, which believe you me, I know all about it, I just want to clarify that I haven’t been taking my medication because I can’t take it. Well, that’s half-true, I guess. I obviously lost my health insurance when I quit my job, so that also means losing my prescription drug benefits. I’ve been anti-psychotic-free (oh, how crazy that makes me seem when I say I take “anti-psychotics”…) for over two months. I should have had more foresight before moving and made an appointment with my psychiatrist to request a three month supply, but I’ll be the first to admit I kind of left Nebraska in a toot and wasn’t thinking about piddly stuff like that. I regret this error on my part and am finding myself in a bit of a depression crater at the moment. Nothing serious or worrisome, mind you, but I can definitely tell the ol’ synapses are misbehaving. I suppose I can see if I can request a refill of my prescription and see how much it would cost out-of-pocket, but I’m not too hopeful for that option since I’d probably have to make an appointment to do so and being here in Texas might be a touch tricky. Plus, I’d have to wait until I got my first 80 hour paycheck from work to be able to potentially afford this and that’s not for another week, so I guess I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing. Besides, my new job’s health insurance is only about 5 weeks from starting, and I’ve gone this long without any brain pills, so I think I can go a bit longer. And I’m also fairly certain the medication has slowly leached itself from my body at this point, so it’s all me now anyway.

*Side note: Out of curiosity, I just googled how long anti-psychotics stay in your body and was directed to a question forum. One of the responders to this person’s query stated, and I shit you not, “…I’ve been taking fish oil tablets 3 times a day and they seem to help with my symptoms especially voices, so you may want to try it out.” HOLY HELL. That’s a new one to me. Fish oil tablets: good for your heart and for quieting the voices in your head.

Where was I? Oh yes, loneliness and depression. I realize my depression is increased due to loneliness. I’m no dummy. I know how my brain works–er, doesn’t work. My loneliness is also effecting (affecting? I never get these two words right…) my current living situation. Allow me to explain, because you know I will.

While alone, I tend to occupy myself by thinking. Some of it is deep, some of it is goofy stuff that I think about. I’ve been toying with going back to school lately. When I moved here to Austin, at first, I wasn’t too concerned about finding a job because healthcare, but after spending a few days on job search sites, it was becoming painfully clear that if I wanted a decent, good-paying job, I’d have to have a higher degree than an associates. There were a zillion and three jobs for nurses, and obviously, you need a bachelor’s degree. Even jobs in the cardiac device industry need some sort of bachelor’s degree, so naturally, I want to better myself both mentally and financially, so it’s really a no-brainer here. However, this is where it gets muddled. Do I want to stay here in Texas and acquire this degree, or go elsewhere? My sister-in-law and brother have been trying for nearly ten years to get me to move to Idaho, and they lure me there by saying there’s a brand new hospital in their town and the local community college has an excellent nursing program. I admit, this is becoming more appealing the more I think about it, mainly because they’ve offered to house me while I go to school. Here in Texas, I won’t have that luxury. I realize that no matter where I attend an institution of higher learning, I’ll have to pay the outrageous out-of-state tuition fee inflicted upon those unfortunate souls who go outside of their home state for education. But if I moved to Idaho, stay with family there, that’s going to ease some of the financial burden of being in school and working part-time, and I imagine I’d be able to get my degree faster in that situation than staying here in Texas and trying to keep my full-time job to pay for bills, as well as taking classes when I can manage them. Point for Idaho. Sorry, Texas.

But, again, I’m smarter than I like to let you all think I am and realize that my current job offers tuition assistance, but in instances like that, if your job is willing to help pay for your schooling, you’re going to have to sign a contract with the HR devil and commit to working for that company for x amount of years after you’ve gotten your degree. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m not sure I want to stay in Texas for another 4 months, let alone potentially four years. Here me out on this one because I mentioned this earlier and got my hand slapped for this thinking. As you know, I moved to Austin to be with a man. Things did not work out with this man, so I’m really in no way obligated to stay here. I like Austin, it’s cool, it’s hip, the people here are ridiculously friendly so far, and the fact it’s the music hub of the world is pretty dang awesome, but I didn’t choose Austin. Austin chose me. What I mean by that is, circumstances led me to being here and those circumstances are no more. It’s not like I wanted to move here…that sounds rude and wrong and not what I’m trying to convey, but get what I mean? If I hadn’t moved for the ex-boyfriend, I wouldn’t have picked Austin as a place to move on my own. I don’t think, anyway…regardless, I’m not sure I want to stay in Austin for long. I don’t regret this move at all. It came at a time when I didn’t realize I needed it most, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to do so. It’s that old saying of “you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.” And that’s how I feel. I’m glad I’m here and contemplating my future from this point than still in Nebraska, hating myself for not taking a chance. I’m not one to think very highly of myself at times, but good on me for making such a big leap.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate it here, but it doesn’t feel right to me, either. You ever have that feeling of “this is where I’m supposed to be”? Where everything feels right and perfect and you think you’ve found your happiness? I realize it’s a somewhat rare feeling, but it happens. I also know I’ve been here two months. I’m adjusting. Hell, I just started going to work without my GPS on my phone to guide me and I’ve almost been there a damn month. These things take time. Nothing is instantaneous, unless you’re mixing chemicals together. So again, I realize I’m being somewhat unfair to Austin, and not giving it enough chance to woo me. Having said that, I must praise my intuition and while I wanted to live life through rose-colored glasses, I knew the potential for life always being unpredictable. I’m not a pessimist and doomed myself for relationship failure from the start by saying “this’ll never work out.” I’m a realist and while I wanted to spend many years with Ed, I had to keep my track record in mind and understand this may not be the case. I didn’t expect it to happen so goddamn quickly after I moved here, but again, life is silly like that. Anyway, pedantic rambling aside, I kept the possibility of things not working out between us in the back of my mind and devised A Plan. This plan is such: give Austin six months. Feel it out, test the Texan waters. If it really isn’t your thing, hey, at least you tried and can say you did and can do something else. No harm, no foul, and chalk it up to experience. So that’s what I’m going to do…or at least this is what I’m telling myself to do.

Here’s more silliness to add to this mix, though. I brought this up on Twitter earlier and a new friend shares the same hesitance of being here. She’s also from Nebraska and moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area about a year ago. We lamented about thinking Texas really wasn’t for us simple Nebraska girls, how much we missed our family, etc. I mentioned that I don’t want to be thought of as a failure/disappointment for not staying in Texas. Maybe this is part of my extremely infuriating and annoying habit of genuinely caring what people think of me. I know I shouldn’t care, I know my life isn’t theirs and I have to do what is best for me, but in the back of my mind, I can hear people saying “that Erin is a goddamn quitter,” and that upsets me. Stupid, I know, but this is me we’re talking about here. I don’t like to give up on things that by all means should have been laid to rest fair sooner than I let them go, e.g. my marriage. Allow me to remind you it took Mr. Zulkoski and I two years to get divorced. So there’s that plaguing me, which is nice. I just don’t want to give up, but part of growing as a person is realizing when you should move on.

Blah. Blah, blah, blah.

This is me, this is where I’m at right now. I obviously have a tremendous amount of thinking to do still. But for now, I’m going to tough it out, give myself more time to adjust, try not to be so hard on myself, which I know at least 80% of you are screaming at your computer screens right now, and see where this silly life takes me. I know from nearly 32 years of personal experience that it can change without warning, so I guess the only thing I can do is buckle up and enjoy the ride.

As always, thanks for reading.

E