Month: February 2014

Cans of Quarters

When I was a teenager, my mother’s boyfriend used to keep quarters in old coffee cans sealed with duct tape.

“I don’t trust banks,” he’d say when I asked him about the Folger’s cans.

“How much do you think you have?” I asked one day.

“Each can probably has two hundred dollars in it, so times that by thirty. There’s more in my room, too. Don’t be gettin’ any ideas, girly. I know how many cans I got. Where’s your mom? Tell her I’m going out,” he replies, dousing his hand with Brut aftershave and slapping his wrinkled and beard-stubbled face. Most of it lands on the collar of his grey work shirt, staining the collar. It looks like blood as it soaks in, darkening the fabric.

Six thousand dollars is lined up in rows under my mom’s floral dresses, neatly pressed and carefully hung jeans, and her white nursing uniforms, starched stiff and a shade of brilliant white. I walk into Dennis’s room after I hear his ancient Ford pick-up truck roar to life and the sound of gravel ricochets off the side of the house as he peels out of the driveway. He and my mom don’t sleep together because Dennis snores and has that thing where he stops breathing in the middle of the night and my mom got tired of having to either shove him to stop snoring or wake him up to make him breathe again. I wish he’d die in his sleep sometimes. Just stop breathing and never wake up again. I don’t like Dennis much, but my mom isn’t interested in why. She likes him for some reason.

I tiptoe into his room, still cautious he’s around, even though I heard him leave, and open his closet door; more cans. I do a quick count and come up with twenty-six. A little quick math in my head means he has just over five thousand dollars in his closet, and all together, we have $11,000 in quarters in our house, just sitting in rusted coffee cans.

I take a step back and sit on the edge of his bed, my mind trying to grasp the amount. I start thinking there has to be more cans. There has to; a guy like Dennis probably has them squirreled away all over the house and garage and his work shed out back.

I’m furious at him for letting this money just sit here when I think about all the things it could be used for. My mom takes the bus to and from work each morning, a trip that’s about an hour each way. If she had her own car and could drive, it’d take her about 20 minutes and she could come and go as she pleases instead of having to beg Dennis to borrow his truck when he’s home if she needs to run to the grocery store or something. We have old hand-me-down furniture that is from my dead grandparents and the fabric is faded and torn and stained. Our water heater is probably as old as I am, and if you want a hot shower, you better be quick, since the hot water runs out after three minutes. My Converse sneakers are duct taped at the toes because I’ve worn them so much, the top ripped from the bottom. Instead of being able to get new ones, Dennis just wrapped them up. Good as new, he said after he threw the shoes at me.

I am angry, and have to get out of his room before I smash everything in it. I go into the kitchen and pour myself a glass of milk and grab a few cheap store brand chocolate cookies that are supposed to be Oreos, but aren’t. I plan on where to look for more cans. Garage. Shed. Basement. The creepy root cellar that’s attached to the side of the house and that I hate going into when Mom asks me to get some jars of tomatoes and green beans she put up last summer. Whenever my friend from a few houses down, Gracie, comes over, we try to spook each other out by going down there. It works every time and after a few minutes, we come racing up the stairs, trying to knock each other back down into the dank and mildewed cellar.

I finish my snack and start my adventure. I check the basement first. My weight creaks the old wooden stairs with each step and I pull the string for the single light bulb at the bottom. The string brushes my hair as I walk by and I swat it away. I look in the obvious places first, behind the stairs, window wells, under the old porcelain sink next to the washing machine, and come up empty. There’s an old shower in the basement that hasn’t been used in years, and I pull the cracked plastic curtain aside. There are ten cans on the bottom. Two thousand more dollars. Next to the shower is a storage room and I go inside. Lining the bottom of the closet, under the shelves that house boxes of my old toys and various other junk, are more cans. I quickly count and come up with nineteen. Almost four thousand dollars. In our house alone, we have $17,000. To my kid brain, that’s a lot of money.

I run up the stairs from the basement, yanking the string to the light as I do, and it breaks off in my hand and the bulb rocks back and forth violently. I slam the door and burst outside, nearly falling down the back steps. I grab the rickety railing to steady myself and run to the garage. With some difficulty, I lift the garage door up and the first thing I see on the back wall above Dennis’s work bench are shelves of coffee cans. I walk up to the shelves and heave myself up on the bench to get a closer view of the cans. Some have tops off and have screws and bolts and stuff, but some are wrapped shut in the silver tape. I count those and come up with ten. Quick investigation of the rest of the garage and I spot more cans under Dennis’s bench, but those are all empty, waiting to be filled, so I leave, bringing the heavy garage door with a loud bang and go out back to the garden shed.

A quick moment of panic overcomes me as I see it’s padlocked shut, but I noticed a set of tiny keys hanging from a nail near the garage door when I was in there, so I go back to the garage to get them. I hold my breath as I try the first key. Nothing. I try the second, and the clasp pops open and I take if off the lock. There’s no light in here, so I open the door and let the sunlight fill the shed. Rakes, hoes, shovels, and garden hoses hang on the walls. Our broken lawnmower sits in the corner, covered in cobwebs. Empty buckets line the floor and I look inside each one. A mouse had nibbled through the plastic of one and I see an abandoned nest at the bottom and I shiver. I hate mice. The other buckets have dead bugs at the bottom. I see the wheelbarrow with the broken handle in the other corner, and it’s covered with a dusty blue tarp. I lift the cover and find six cans.

I close the door and lock it, and return the keys to their spot on the nail in the garage. I go back to the house to wash my hands because they’ve gotten filthy rooting around the garage and shed, and to find a small notebook and a pencil so I can keep track of how much money I’ve found so far.

My hands smell of lavender after I wash and I bring them up to my nose to inhale deeply. I find a small spiral notepad Mom uses for her grocery lists and a pencil in a drawer by the fridge, which I open up and grab a grape soda pop. I sit at the table again and take three long gulps from the can of pop and let out a loud belch. I crunch the numbers on the pad. Thirty cans in Mom’s room, twenty-six in Dennis’s, ten in the shower, nineteen in the storage closet, ten in the garage, and six in the shed…that’s $20,200. I recheck my math twice and come up with the same number both times. I drop the pencil and it rolls off the table to the floor, but I don’t care. I’m too busy staring at the number I’ve scratched on the paper. Twenty thousand dollars…and I still have the root cellar to explore yet. I’m a weird combination of really excited and really mad. We can use this money and this selfish bastard isn’t doing anything with it. I wonder if my mother is aware of how much money is in these cans.

I finish my pop, belch loudly again, and toss the can in the trash can and go outside to the root cellar. I really hate this thing and am nervous to go down in it, but I vaguely remember seeing coffee cans down there the last time Gracie and I dared each other to go inside. I take a deep breath and turn the knob to open the door. I’m hit in the face with the smell of wet dirt and try not to think of all the spiders and other creepy-crawlies waiting to jump on me, and I slowly take the steps down. A cobweb brushes my left cheek and I swat at my face to get it off, the web sticking to my hand. I brush it off on my jeans and shiver. I grab the old flashlight that’s resting on the shelf at the end of the stairs and click it on, the bean of light dim. It probably needs new batteries. The dust particles in the air get stuck in the light as I move it around and it reminds me of the light sabers from my favorite movie, Star Wars. Gracie and I went to see it at the dollar theatre a few weeks ago. She has a crush on Luke Skywalker, but Han Solo is my favorite.

Jars of vegetables line the shelves. There’s so many that the wood sags in the middle due to the weight. I pass the flashlight around the small cellar and spot what I’m looking for: coffee cans. Lots of them. I can’t believe I didn’t realize how many there are down here. The shelves that are on the wall next to the house are full of them and I feel my heart race as I count. Fifty cans. Holy cow. Ten thousand dollars sharing room with pickled beets (gross) and the corn I helped Mom shuck and cut off the cobs last summer. I have to sit down, so I plop myself on the dirt floor.

I’m lost in thought and don’t hear Dennis come home until I hear his heavy footsteps come down the cellar stairs.

“What the fuck are you doing down here?” he yells.

I turn my head quickly behind me and the light of day shining behind him as he comes down the steps makes his silhouette terrifying. I scramble to get up off the ground, but he’s on top of me in a hurry and grabs the back of my shirt to lift me the rest of the way up off the ground. My feet aren’t touching the dirt and I suddenly realize I’m in very deep trouble. I start coughing as my shirt collar chokes me and he tosses my against the shelves on the north wall. Some jars fall to the ground and shatter, spilling the contents.

“Answer me, goddamn it! What the fuck do you think you’re doing down here?” He shoves me against the shelf again, forcing me back. I can feel the wood pressing into my shoulder blades and I’m overwhelmed by the pain. I try to move away from him, but my foot squishes into the spilled vegetables and I can’t get my footing. He forces himself into me. I didn’t realize how strong he is until then. He’s crushing me. I’m somehow still holding on to the flashlight and I try to beat him with it, but he takes it out of my hand without much effort.

“You stupid brat! You’re going to pay for that!” He elbows me in the jaw and the pain from my shoulders goes away and explodes in my face. A flash of light appears in my vision and I see stars, just like in the cartoons. My eyes well up with tears and I start sobbing.

“Please stop hurting me!” I manage to choke out. “Please, Dennis, I didn’t do anything wrong!” I gasp for air.

“The fuck you didn’t! You shouldn’t be down here! You tryin’ to steal my money, you dumb little bitch? Is that it? Fuck you!” he screams into my face. I feel spittle on my nose and cheeks mixing in with my tears. I can also smell alcohol on his breath and the sick sweetness of it makes me want to throw up. My stomach lurches and I gag. Dennis brings up a meaty forearm and presses it into my throat and I gasp for air. “Stupid little cunt,” he spits again, shoving his arm harder against me. Eventually, I pass out and slump to the ground. Dennis kicks my head as I lay on the ground, breaking my nose. He spits on me, and his phlegm lands on my bruised cheek and mixes with the blood running from my face.

He leaves me in the cellar, but returns with an ax from the garage. I saw it hanging there earlier. Dennis, drunk and full of rage, starts haphazardly hacking into my unconscious body. He chops away at me, piece by piece, the sweat from his forehead falling on my pieces. He leans the ax against the railing of the steps and stumbles up them once again. He returns a few minutes later with the metal trash can we put leaves and grass clippings in and starts putting my body inside, my parts thumping against the side and bottom.

Dennis then tries to lift the garbage can upstairs to do whatever with me, but it’s too heavy and the cellar floor is a sloppy mess of dirt and mud and he slips and falls and his head comes down against the blade of the ax he set next to the stairs and it lodges into the back of his head, killing him in an instant. Our blood mixes together on the floor.

My mom won’t discover what happened for another few hours or so until she returns from her job at the hospital. Both her only child and boyfriend dead in the bottom of the cellar, her child in the bottom of a garbage can, and her boyfriend impaled on the very weapon he did it with.

At least with Dennis gone now, she can use the money in the coffee cans to buy herself nice things, just like I wanted.

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Six Songs of My Life

A little over a month ago, NPR ran a story asking for the six songs of your life:

songs you carry in your head and in your heart that remind you of sometime or someplace or someone. You hear the song; you remember. You remember; you hear the song. Like an optical illusion, two memories braided together in your soul.

Damn. Well said, NPR.

I’ve been thinking about this and trying to find my own six songs. It isn’t as easy as it seems; I’ve been alive for 32 years, and music has always been with me. My dad told me when my mom was pregnant with me, he put headphones on her belly, so I mean it in the most real sense that music has been with me from the start, and its never left me. Some of my fondest memories of my dad include the two of us driving wherever and always listening to music; he’d thump my knee with his massive hand in tempo to the song playing. My mother taught me the fine art of car dancing, a skill which I have honed over the years and am a self-professed pro. I got car moves, baby. In fifth grade, I started playing the trumpet, which later evolved into playing the French horn (insert fat girl/French horn jokes here). There’s something wonderful about seeing a page full of musical notes and scanning it and being able to hear the song in your head without hearing it first, but of course, hearing being played is also an experience that can send shivers throughout your body. I miss playing an instrument, and often wish I hadn’t neglected my trumpet or had my own French horn still, but the trumpet can be cleaned up and oiled and brought back to life. I’m sure I can find a used French horn on the internet somewhere for a reasonable price, as well.

Anyway, here are my six songs for the moment. I’m sure after I’m done writing this, I’ll hate my list and want to revise it, because that’s how I am.

Song One: “Coming To America” by Neil Diamond.

From what I’m told, when I was a wee tyke, my parents were huge Neil Diamond fans and would often cue up The Jazz Singer record and make baby me dance to it because that’s what parents do with their infants. Plus, I’m sure they felt some sort of patriotism playing this for me, given my birthday is July 4th. Clever, Ma and Pa.

Song Two: “Lady In Red” by Chris DeBurgh.

Back in 1986, my mom was the manager of our hometown swimming pool, which was pretty spectacular for a kid in the summer to be able to swim when you dang well pleased because your mom was the boss. I remember one time, my family went a few hours before it opened to clean and whatnot, and my dad heard this song playing on the radio and turned it up. I was in the water, doing my thing, and I remember looking over toward the pool office where my parents were and they were dancing to this song and while I was only five-years-old, I remember thinking how silly it was, but in my adolescent brain, that this was somehow important to see. Every time I hear this song now, I’m taken back to that hot summer day and seeing my mom and dad dancing in their swimsuits.

Song Three: “All For Love” by Bryan Adams, Sting, and Rod Stewart.

1993 was the year, and I was sporting a massive crush on Chris O’Donnell, thanks to the movie “The Three Musketeers.” As you know, this song was featured on the soundtrack to the movie. The soundtrack was also the very first CD I ever bought and I would play it constantly while playing with my Barbie dolls, involving them in dramatic love triangles with my Joey McIntyre from New Kids On The Block doll. I was a weird kid.

Song Four: “Head Like A Hole” by Nine Inch Nails.

I want to say I was a sophomore in high school when I first heard this song, so that would have been 1997 or so. Up until that point, my musical tastes involved all the generic pop played on the radio, but I had just discovered there was a now-defunct alternative station from Lincoln that played music I had never heard before, like The Flaming Lips, Jane’s Addiction, The Breeders, etc. Plus, my brother had left some of his CDs at home when he came back for the weekends, so I started listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ugly Kid Joe. Anyway, being from a small town, the thing to do on the weekends was to cruise Main Street (how iconic) and my best friend, Corey, and I would do just that. We’d pile into his tiny Pontiac Grand Am and drive up and down and up and down and up and down for hours, laughing, talking, and listening to music. He was acting somewhat secretive and excited one night and he said to me, “I have a new band you have to hear.” Bring it! The band was Nine Inch Nails and he had me put the Pretty Hate Machine CD in my Sony Discman that we played through the cassette deck. I recall a few feelings about what we were listening to as the album played: one, was the bass lines in a lot of the songs sounded like the bass line between scenes on Seinfeld; two, was thinking if my parents heard me listening to this devil music, I would be grounded; and three, my musical taste would forever be influenced by this album and that I couldn’t go back to the schlock-y pop music I had listened to. I was forever altered, and Nine Inch Nails became my favorite band, and Trent Reznor stayed with me for damn near fifteen years after that night, but due to his recent hissy fit about his latest Grammy performance, I’ve decided to retire NIN and thank them for the many amazing memories I have of them. I’ve seen Nine Inch Nails in concert three times over the span of time, and they do put on a great visual show for sure. “The Fragile” will always be in my top 20 albums, as well, but sometimes, you just have to break yourself off from certain artists, and NIN was that artist. Thanks for the time, Reznor.

Song Five: “Hanging By A Moment” by Lifehouse.

In late 2000, I was living in Grand Island, Nebraska, going to a private college that ended up closing due to lack of funding shortly after I had enrolled. That was weird. I ended up finishing the semester at a community college in a town 25 miles away, but by then, I had decided school just wasn’t for me, so I quit and started working at the call center for Cabela’s, the outdoor retailer. That was a fun gig for the most part; I worked there with my friend and roommate, Brandy, and we’d get into all sorts of shenanigans. Good times. I also ended up meeting my would-be husband at that job. I had seen him around and we ended up being put into a training class together and the rest is, how they say, history. While we were dating, this song came out and like the dopey, lovesick birds we were, we decided this was our jam, yo. It ended up being the song that we played when we walked out of the place we got married. Things change, as they always do, and we’re divorced now, and I can say with certainty that I hate this song. It’s one of the very few songs that I have let hold a negative connotation for me and I can’t listen to it any more. I think I still have this album on my iPod, and if I do, it’s purely for sentimental purposes as even though the relationship didn’t last, it’s just a reminder that it happened, but there isn’t enough money in the entire universe to get me to listen to this again.

Song Six: “Beautiful Day” by U2.

I love U2, but this song…there’s a story behind it. Shocking! As I mentioned above, I used to live in Grand Island, but ended up moving back home with my parents in 2001-ish. That’s when they began having marital issues and long story short, one morning, I woke up to them screaming and my dad stormed out of the house and began walking the 4 miles into town to go to work. I got in my car and followed him and took him to work. As I was returning home, this song came on the radio. I was instantly angered and had to stop my car and pull over to the side of the road. I had gotten a bottle of orange juice at the gas station before I started home and I took the glass bottle and threw it against the side of my car, shattering it into pieces. That’s one of the first times I’ve ever let myself become so angry that I had to do something physical to express it. So. Needless to say, this song kind of gets to me when I hear it now.

Okay, so, I know the assignment was six songs, and honestly, I could have at least doubled this list, but I’m going to breach etiquette for a moment and include one more song. It’s my post, I can do what I want!

Song Seven: “Last Goodbye” by Jeff Buckley.

Jeff. Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. You silken, golden voiced god. This song is glorious and I love it. I listened to this on constant repeat when my marriage was ending. I mean, with lyrics like “this is our last goodbye; I hate to feel the love between us die, but it’s over” and “kiss me out of desire, not consolation.” Oddly enough, I can still listen to it. I haven’t let it get to me in that regard, which is silly, I suppose. I’m still weird.

And there you have it. These are my songs. Like I said, I could keep going, because there’s always a song for everything, and that’s the beauty of music. Music is essential. Without music, I’d lead a sad existence for sure. I want to leave you all with this last song: Beethoven’s Ode To Joy. I carry this one around with me always.

As always, thanks for reading.

E

I Want To F. Scott Fitzgerald

She tries to stare at him without him noticing she’s doing so, but he turns his head slightly to her and she quickly looks away, feeling her face flush. 

“Are you okay? Your face is red,” he says. She burns hotter. 

“I’m fine. Hot flash, I guess,” she replies, bringing a hand up to her cheek in a vain effort to hide the red skin.

“…little young for menopause, aren’t you?” he jokes, laughing. 

He caught her looking at him and he’s teasing her, damn him. He always teases her. She doesn’t mind. It makes her feel the familiar butterflies she always gets around him. Damn him again for making her betray her usually calm demeanor. 

“How’s the book?” he asks, nodding to the thick hardcover collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald stories she’s been trying to read for a few weeks. 

“I love it. His language is gorgeous. I wish I could write as well as he does,” she gushes. 

“He does have a way with words, doesn’t he?” His voice is mellow and low, almost quiet. He looks up at her and smiles. Goddamn butterflies. 

“It’s like he’s writing for me sometimes. Not the fancy words, though. I don’t think I’ve ever used half of the vocabulary he does or phrases things as well, either. He’s all, ‘I wish I’d done everything on earth with you,’ and I’m all, ‘I like your butt.'” 

He laughs loudly. Butterflies again. 

She finds herself staring again, but she is unashamed of it this time. She can’t help it. He is easy on her eyes and she takes in all his features carefully, studying him from his hairline to jaw line. She thinks of another Fitzgerald quote as she looks at him. “Her heart sank into her shoes as she realized at last how much she wanted him. No matter what his past was, no matter what he had done. Which was not to say that she would ever let him know, but only that he moved her chemically more than anyone she had ever met, that all other men seemed pale beside him.” She sighed in spite of herself. 

He notices and looks at her again. “Sure you’re okay?” he asks again, a look of concern wrinkling his eyebrows. 

“I promise. Just thinking. Nothing important.” 

He offers a small smile. 

Butterflies. 

 

February 17, 2014

Hey now!

Good Monday, everyone.

I probably shouldn’t write this, but I’m going to anyway because well, that’s just what I do. I fail to grasp the concept of “over-share” sometimes.

Yesterday, someone from my past dug himself up and presented himself to me again by way of a very random and unwelcome message. I do believe the words out of my mouth when I saw I received a message from Vaguebook was “oh, what the fuck?”

I haven’t heard nor seen this person in nearly four years. Seeing his name made my skin crawl. All of my bad memories of him came slamming back and my stomach churned. His first message was two words: “I’m sorry.”

I read them over and over. For what? You have a lot to be sorry for, pal. 

I probably shouldn’t have replied, but I did because I was curious about why he decided to contact me after so long.

“Care to elaborate on that?” I asked. “And you win the award for most random message ever.”

He sent the message in the morning and my reply was shortly after, but he didn’t reply to me until late afternoon. Needless to say, he ruined my day, but that was my fault for replying, so I’m equally to blame for my attitude during the day.

“You were the most kind, caring, honest human beings that walked the face of this earth. Probably still are. I didn’t see it at the time,” was his reply to me.

I was with my mom and her husband walking around a store when that message came. I stopped in my tracks. I was livid, but tried to stay calm both in composure and my reply to him.

You stupid piece of shit, I thought to myself. Of course I’m all of those things, and yes, I still am and always was. 

I walked, trying to find an appropriate reply to him.

“Yep. Thanks for that, I guess. You weren’t in a good head space four years ago. I only hope you’ve found some peace since then. I have.”

“I’m glad you have.”

“Well, getting there, at least.”

“If you’d rather not talk, don’t feel obligated.”

“Just taken aback as to your sudden correspondence is all. You’re the absolute last person on earth I ever expected to hear from again. Not really sure how to process this at the moment.”

“I’m a bit surprised you’re willing to talk to me.”

“My curiosity was piqued. Don’t get used to it, though.”

By then, I could tell he was trying to get me back into his old game of saying nice things about me. That’s how it all started with us. I was in the last few months of my failing marriage and he was a friend of a friend and we had started hanging out more often. He’d tell me what a bad husband mine was being, that he was “doing it wrong,” and what a good woman I was and how stupid my husband was for ignoring me. His words got to me. I fell for them. Thus began our inappropriate relationship that lasted for about 8 months.

At the time, I thought he was amazing. Wickedly smart, sharp sense of humor, and he encouraged me to write more. We also drank together. A lot. I was with him when I got my DUI. I couldn’t drive for a month as punishment for this, so I stayed at his apartment during that time. He’d take me to work in the morning and pick me up at the end of the day, stopping for a 24 pack of Busch Light on the way, and together, we’d drink it all during the night. In case you missed it, that’s 12 beers a piece. I was so oblivious to what was happening. I was glad to be away from the tension in my house, away from my husband and all of our crap…

I nearly lost my job during our time together. I was making incredibly foolish decisions. I’m embarrassed for myself and what I did during those months. I was with another man while I was still married. To my “credit,” we never slept together. It was an emotional affair. Sometimes, those are far worse than sexual ones.

During our time, he was dealing with his own problems. He was in an on again/off again relationship with his girlfriend. They were off when we started hanging out. He used me as much as I used him. I recall it was my 29th birthday and I was with him. We got extremely drunk. He got incredibly depressed. There was a confrontation between us when he reached the point where he wanted to kill himself with his father’s shotgun. He went to the gun cabinet and took it out–it wasn’t loaded, thank fuck. I remember wrestling the gun out of his hands. He was a scrawny, weak man, so it wasn’t that difficult, but that scared the shit out of me, and honestly, it still does. Things could have gone so much differently than it had. After that night, I tried staying away from him, but he lured me back in. Because I’m mentally retarded, I went back.

But then, thanks to an amazing friend who slowly got me to realize this was a horrible situation, I started easing back on our contact. And besides, he moved on to another woman by then. At first, the three of us would hang out, but then I quickly realized their relationship was more than “just friends.” I started backing away more from them both.

Then, one night, they had gone out drinking and called to ask me if I could drive them home. Given my situation a few months earlier, I didn’t want them driving, so I went to pick them up. I was taking them to some random person’s apartment and trying to get directions from the girl he was seeing where I was going, but she was drunk and incoherent and having trouble telling me where to go. I was driving down a street and suddenly, saw a pair of headlights from a car coming up behind me at a very alarming speed. This car slammed into the back of my tiny car and sent us spinning in circles into the intersection. The car sped away and mine was slammed up against a light pole at the corner of the intersection. The impact happened behind me, and he was sitting behind me, but the force of the crash forced the back seat into the front, and he was jammed between my seat and his. She was in the passenger side, screaming. What the fuck just happened?

We were all okay for the most part, aside from the usual bruises and whiplash, but those two ended up going to the ER in an ambulance while I stayed by my destroyed vehicle. I had hit a sprinkler head going up over the curb and water was spraying all over me.

The only contact I had from him after that was the next day when both were home from the hospital. She had lost her cell phone in the collision and wanted to see if I could go look for it. My car had been towed to the city lot and I had to go there anyway to get important things out of my car since it had been totaled and a complete loss. I took a friend with me and we got what I needed and looked for her stupid phone, but it wasn’t there. We went to her house to tell her and she became frantic, accusing me of not looking hard enough.

That was the last time I ever saw them again…until he contacted me yesterday.

I had heard from our mutual friend he had gotten married. I laughed and shook my head in disbelief. I would think about him every now again over the next year or so, mainly to berate myself for getting involved with him, for further damaging my relationship with my now ex-husband, for being so goddamned stupid. His memory faded further over the years, but feelings of contempt would creep up when I heard a song from the band, Tool. He loved that band and we listened to a particular album over and over, so when I hear a song from that album, my muscles tense up and I get instantly furious all over again.

To hear from him yesterday was truly awful. All of my memories of him flashed before my eyes like I was dying. This is it. I’m dying and I’m forced to recall this motherfucker in my last seconds? Fuck that.

“I won’t bother recontacting you after this conversation,” he wrote.

“Thank you. I’ve put you in my past and was hoping you’d stay there,” I wrote back.

“Vanished.”

I hope for his sake and mine he’s true to his words this time.

February 15, 2014

Good afternoon.

I was writing a story earlier this afternoon for a super online publication called Pure Slush, since Matt, the creator and editor of the site seems to find me a good writer (thanks, Matt), and my father noticed me typing away and asked what I was doing.

“Well, I’m writing, father.”

“Ooh! Like writing writing? What about?”

Mildly annoyed by being disturbed while I’m in The Zone, I briefed him on what I was doing.

“You should write about how wonderful your father is,” he said with a flair of dramatics.

So, I will just because he was being sassy to me and I want to sass him back.

WHY MY DAD IS SUPER AWESOME, BY ERIN E. HOFFMEYER

MY DAD IS SUPER AWESOME BECAUSE HE’S MY DAD AND HE’S OLD BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN HE STILL ISN’T MY DAD. MY DAD IS 63 AND THAT’S LIKE, A MILLION YEARS OLD IF YOU WERE A DOG, BUT HE ISN’T A DOG, HE’S MY DAD. MY DAD HAS WHITE HAIR AND WRINKLES BECAUSE LIKE I SAID, HE’S A MILLION YEARS OLD AND PROBABLY PLAYED WITH GOD AS A KID BECAUSE HE’S THAT OLD. MY DAD WORKS WITH ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT BECAUSE HE’S SMART AND STUFF. MY DAD IS REALLY PICKY SOMETIMES AND HE LIKES TO TALK A LOT ABOUT WHY WHOLE MILK AND REAL BUTTER IS MUCH BETTER FOR YOU THAN SKIM MILK AND MARGARINE. HE SAYS IT’S BECAUSE OUR BODIES KNOW HOW TO HANDLE THAT STUFF AND NOT ALL THE CHEMICALS AND I BELIEVE HIM BECAUSE HE’S SMART. MY DAD ALSO LIKES TO DRINK BEER AND HE PUTS SALT AND PEPPER IN HIS BEER BECAUSE HE’S ALSO KIND OF WEIRD SOMETIMES. MY DAD USED TO WEAR REALLY SHORT JEAN SHORTS WHEN I WAS A KID AND ONE TIME MY OLDER BROTHER’S GIRLFRIEND COMPLIMENTED HIM ON HIS LEGS AND THEN HE ALWAYS WORE THOSE DAMN JEAN SHORTS BECAUSE HE WANTED TO SHOW OFF HIS LEGS. HE ALSO USED TO WEAR KNEE HIGH SOCKS AND HIKING BOOTS WITH HIS JEANS SHORTS SO HE KIND OF LOOKED LIKE A MEMBER OF THE VILLAGE PEOPLE. MY DAD USED TO HAVE A COOL MUSTACHE BUT HE SHAVED IT OFF ONE SUMMER AND HIS UPPER LIP WAS BRIGHT WHITE BECAUSE HE USED TO WORK OUTSIDE AND HIS FACE GOT TAN BUT NOT HIS MUSTACHE. MY DAD USED TO LOOK LIKE DONALD SUTHERLAND IN THE 70S. IT WAS COOL. MY DAD IS ALSO COOL BECAUSE HE’S LETTING ME STAY AT HIS PLACE WHILE I LOOK FOR JOBS. I REALLY APPRECIATE MY DAD LETTING ME STAY HERE BUT HE DOESN’T HAVE MUCH FOOD, JUST CANS OF TOMATO SOUP AND SARDINES IN HIS PANTRY AND I DON’T MUCH LIKE EITHER OF THOSE THINGS. I LIKE MY DAD AND AM GLAD HE’S MY DAD.

THE END.

So there, old man. Here’s your damn story. Now shut up and leave me alone and drink your beer, you soak.

As always,

E

Persuasion

I can be persuasive.

As Winston Churchill has said, “my most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.”

I, too, was married once, and I feel my power was also strong with my former spouse. Never mind it didn’t last, though, but that’s beside the point.

I can persuade. I can charm. I can make others see my point of view. They may not agree and change their minds, but at least see things from my perspective.

I will also fight for myself or for who/what I believe in. I will not, however, compete. If I have to somehow prove my worth, that’s acceptable to an extent, but to have to be made to feel like my worth is being matched up against someone else? No. I am who I am and proud of that, even though I don’t always display confidence in that statement. If you can’t see or value me as I am and are judging me against others, you don’t deserve to have me. I make no apologies for myself unless I have done wrong,  and if that’s the occasion, I will be the first to admit it and apologize.

I can persuade, I will fight, but I will not compete.

Pick me because you want me, not because I won some game.

The end.

February 13, 2014

I’ve sat in front of my laptop, the screen casting a pale light on my fingers, for about a half hour now. With it being Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I felt obligated and clichéd to write about love and whatnot, and I wrote 400 words before I sneered at what I had written and deleted them all. I tried redirecting my approach and started over, but I didn’t like those words, either. What can I say about love that hasn’t been recycled before? What do I have to add to the coffer? Nothing, really. Just typical garbage, which is frustrating for me, a self-professed romantic. Granted, Valentine’s Day is a silly day out of the year where people feel pressured to spend money on junk jewelry (oh, Robert, this heart-shaped diamond pennant is just what I wanted!), cheap chocolate that will undoubtedly have a chocolate covered cherry in the mix, and schmaltzy cards with a picture of a kitten hugging a teddy bear or some inane bullhonk like that, and flowers that will die like your love in a few years.

This stuff isn’t romantic to me. It’s a nice gesture, sure…I like chocolate and sometimes buy myself flowers because I like them, and a kitty hugging a teddy bear is pretty stinking cute, but when it all comes down to it, to me, it’s how you profess your love the other 364 days a year that really matter. To me, it’s paying attention to someone and picking up on things they say they would like, such as a book they haven’t read and would like to and then surprising them with it later. It’s cooking a meal for them. It’s asking if they need anything if they’re sick in bed and bringing it to them. Little things that end up stacking up. To me, that’s love. Being attentive and showing you care sometimes means far more than regurgitating the words “I love you.” Not that those words are a bad thing. On the contrary. But, sadly, people abuse them like anything else in life.

This is a truly terrible segue, but this is also romantic; probably the most romantic thing I’ve ran across in years: Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved letters. I’m in awe at the words, I really am. Brilliant composer and greatest lady’s man. Leon Phelps ain’t got nothin’ on Ludy, man. Observe and be in awe with me:

In the morning- My angel, my all, my self – only a few words today, and indeed with pencil (with yours). Only tomorrow is my lodging positively fixed. What a worthless waste of time on such – why this deep grief, where necessity speaks – can our love exist but by sacrifices by not demanding everything can you change it, that you not completely mine. I am not completely yours – Oh God, look upon beautiful nature and calm your soul over what must be – love demands everything and completely with good reason. So it is for me with you, for you with me – only you forget so easily, that I must live for myself and for you, were we wholly united, you would feel this painfulness just as little as I – Oh, wherever I am, you are with me. I say to myself and to you, arrange that I can live with you. What a life!!!! as it is!!!! without you –I love you even more deeply but – but never hide yourself from me – good night – as one bathing I must go to sleep so near! so far! Is not our love a true heavenly edifice – but also firm, like the firmament…

Good morning while still in bed thoughts thrust themselves toward you my eternally beloved now and then happy then again sad. Awaiting fate. If it will grant us a favorable hearing – I can only live either wholly with you or not at all…

Yes I have resolved to stray about in the distance, until I can fly into your arms and call myself entirely at home with you. Can send my soul embraced by you into the realm of spirits – yes unfortunately it must be – you will compose yourself all the more since you know my faithfulness to you, never can another own my heart, never – never – O God why have to separate oneself, what one loves so, and yet my life in V [ienna] as it is now is a miserable life – Your love makes me the most happy and the most unhappy at once – at my age I would need some conformity regularity of life – can this exist in our relationship? — Angel, right now I hear that the mail goes every day – and I must therefore close, so that you will receive the L [etter] immediately – be calm, only through quiet contemplation of our existence can wereach our goal to live together – be patient -love me – today – yesterday – What longing with tears for you – you – you my love – my all – fare-well – o continue to love me – never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.

Forever yours

Forever mine

Forever us

Are you freaking kidding me?! 

That is, by far, one of the most gorgeous things I have ever read in my life. The last six words melt me, scoop my melted self into a mold of me, puts me in a freezer, takes me out when I’m set, and then melts me all over again. That, my friends, is how you do it. Goddamn Beethoven.

I can’t compete with that, so I’m calling it quits for the night. Effing Ludwig showing off and stealing the show. Jesus.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Don’t eat the chocolate covered cherries.

As always,

E