Tag Archives: relationships

My Reoccurring Nightmare

I’ve been having this weird reoccurring nightmare. The thing is I’m not up on all that dream interpretation jargon. My brain keeps trying to tell me something, but I keep missing the point. Maybe you could help me figure it out.

The dream takes place in a vast palatial estate in the middle of the forest. I have no idea who owns the property or why they built so far from civilization. All I know is that the beds are always filled and that the guests have no clue how they got in them.

While this can be a jarring experience, the guests always seem to settle in. No one ever makes a break for the exit. Besides, where would they go? Every window looks out onto bark surfaces. The pantries are surrounded by towering evergreens. The dining hall is built upon a swamp and the bedchambers sit in a field of reeds.

The forest is well on its way to reclaiming the building. Maple seeds swirl through the skylights, vines droop from the rafters, and pollen is built up on everything like snow. Muskrats swim beneath the floorboards, frogs congregate on the windowsills, and raccoons and crows fight for perches on the shingles. There are cobwebs in every corner, nests in every crossbeam, and cocoons in every gutter.

For its part the estate refuses to go quietly. The support beams are always groaning, the foundations are always settling, and the shutters are always slapping against the side of the building.

The estate has a footprint the size of a castle, yet there are no grounds, no carriage houses, and no paths leading to the front steps.

There’s only one way to find this place.

I come here on nights when I’ve spent too much time pacing the apartment, too much time in the kitchen drinking, and too much time on the pillow thinking. I lie down in the city and rise up from my bunk in the woods.

Despite the size of the estate I can’t help but think of it as a cabin. Perhaps it’s the pine strips stacked floor to ceiling, the hardwood screeching under foot, or the log furnishing. Perhaps it’s the quilts hanging from the banisters, the moose antlers, or the smell of maple in the air.

I breath it all in. Continue reading My Reoccurring Nightmare

Caught Cheating on My Novel

1. My Novel has caught Me

Jill fidgeted beneath the booth, struggling to find a comfortable spot on the cushion. Feeling her movements, I dared not ask what was wrong. She’d been straying from eye contact all night, afraid I’d see something I didn’t like.

She set her phone on the table, like a paramedic waiting to be called away at a moment’s notice. When it lit up on its own, she read the screen out of the corner of her eye, failing to hide her smirk.

This was the first time I’d seen her long locks up in a big bun. The frizzy strands stood spiked up in the back. In this light, with the dust particles falling slowly, her hair looked like a crown.

“What is it?” She caught me staring.

I motioned toward the bun. “I like what you’ve done with the topmost region of your head.”

She rolled her eyes until they landed back on her phone. “Aren’t you supposed to be a writer or something?”

I bit my thumb. “Sorry, I meant to say, the upper hemisphere of your face has many fine attributes this evening.”

She laughed, easing my tension until she picked up the phone and started typing. Peaking over the top of my menu, I watched her eyes glaze at something on the screen.

I cleared my throat. “What’s a good wine pairing for Mexican food?”

Jill shrugged, this was her area of expertise, but she couldn’t care less.

When the waiter came, I ordered the chicken enchiladas with a glass of Rioja.

“You’ll want something stronger.” Jill cut in. Offering the waiter an empty smile, she ordered, “Two Tequila Sunrises, heavy on the tequila.”

I fumbled through the drink menu. “So that’s a better pairing?”

Jill shook her head. “No, but you’ll want it.”

She waited until our food arrived to spoil my appetite.

Plucking the umbrella from her drink, and casting the straw aside, Jill downed half of her cocktail in a single gulp. Gasping, she gripped the side of the table. “The reason I called you out tonight is that I wanted to do this in person.”

I froze, an archeologist standing in the middle of a rickety old bridge, watching the ropes unravel.

Seeing my panic, Jill chuckled. “No, it’s nothing like that.”

It was exactly like that.

Jill searched for her words on the happy hour menu. “You’re such a prolific writer. I envy your artistic temperament, I really do. So many people are trying to get published, but you’re one of the few who’s going to make it. I honestly believe that.”

She swallowed. “It’s just that your life is going in a different direction. Your work requires you to lead a solitary existence, while mine keeps me social.”

Jill rubbed her hands together. “We’ve always been a few degrees off. When I’m getting warmed up to go out, your process has drained the life out of you. When I just want acknowledgment, you give advice. When I ask for advice, you play Captain Hindsight.”

I stayed frozen, fearing a nod would be an admission of guilt. Glancing away, I noticed my fork wobbling across the plate.

Jill lay her hands flat, a diplomat reaching across the table. “I think I’m speaking for both of us when I say, neither of us are very happy with this relationship.”

Ripples spread from the center of my Tequila Sunrise. The cubes in my ice water bobbed up and down.

Jill sighed. “I knew this would happen. Now you can’t even look at me.”

A droplet shot out from the center of my cocktail.

“No, it’s just that my drink is going all Jurassic Park on me.”

Feeling vibrations through my shoes, I looked over my shoulder.

A giant hardcover book barreled across the parking lot. Its angry eyebrows cut through the title. There was teeth in place of the author’s name. Its eyes glared with the smooth reflective texture of raised print. It charged toward the restaurant on tiny yellow laceless shoes, hopping from one leg to the other. I didn’t recognize the book until its cover shown red beneath the streetlight.

Crouching into the booth, I turtled up inside my suit coat. The window behind us creaked, the hardcover was leaning on it, rubbing its four fingered gloves against the glass.

Jill squint at me, “Do you know that thing?”

I couldn’t help but peak up. To find the first edition focusing its big bulging eyes on me, its breath fogging up the glass. Howling, it burst the parking lot lights, set car alarms off, and shook our silverware off the table.

The book stomped toward the entrance. Punching the handicap button, she entered sideways. When a greeter stepped into her path, the book knocked her into a bowl of peppermints. When a bus boy came to the greeter’s aid, the book grabbed him by the vest and flung him over the bar. The entire wine menu came crashing down on him.

I ducked under the table, cursing Jill. “Why did you have to look at it? You could’ve just kept texting, but you had to draw its attention. Whatever is about to happen is all your fault.”

Jill drove her stiletto into my toe. I screamed.

The hardcover spotted me falling into the aisle. A string of drool seeped through her teeth, spilling over the words: A NOVEL. Drinks toppled with its every step. Ice crunched beneath its tiny yellow shoes. Entrees landed face first on the floor.

A wet clump of something warm plopped into my hair. Cheese streaked down my forehead, followed by a dollop of sour cream. My enchiladas landed in my lap, searing my thighs. I tried to wipe them off, but it was impossible to see in the shadow of the hardcover. The great book huffed, covering half my face in spittle.

2. I'm in trouble now

I turned to find the hardcover pointing at Jill. When the book’s mouth opened and closed, my name flickered across her face.

“Who the hell is this?” The hardcover’s voice boomed.

Jill crossed her arms. “This was just leaving.”

The hardcover lift me up my collar. I had to cock my head to avoid getting scalped by the ceiling fan.

The book’s eyebrows crossed into an angry V. “You kept putting me off and putting me off. There was always something, wasn’t there? You had a stack of dishes weighing down your countertop. You were buried under a pile of laundry. You had to get up early for an interview. You kept telling me how important I was to you, but it took weeks before you did anything with me. Now here I find you wining and dining some bipedal bimbo.”

“First of all,” Jill placed the toothpick umbrella in her palms, “this isn’t wine it’s a cocktail,” she spun the umbrella, “and second of all, I’m not dining tonight,” she pointed to the empty table, “and third, wait, what was the third thing you said?”

The hardcover grit her teeth, towering over Jill, the girl that dare defy her.

“You’re nothing special, missy, just the latest in a long line of distractions.”

The hardcover flung me into the booth. The salt and pepper shakers spilled into my hair. Jill spun around, making sure her phone was alright.

The hardcover positioned itself to block me in. “Remember that mystery minx, that crime caper streetwalker, that noir whore you tried to run away with? What about that Sci-Fi-siren, that steampunk-strumpet, that little retro-history-hussy? Neither of them stuck in your head as long as me. None of those horror-harlots, terror-tarts, and jaw-dropping-jezebels had a premise like mine. Remember how you kept telling me how original I was?”

Jill’s phone vibrated. Looking at the caller ID, she grunt, letting it go to voicemail.

The hardcover bit its lip. “I’m not stupid. Of course I knew what you were doing. I just kept telling myself, ‘He’s just experimenting with those tragedy-trollops and fantasy-floozies, so that when he comes back, he’ll share what he’s learned with me.’”

The hardcover placed a tiny glove between its massive eyes, a gesture that looked faintly like she was rubbing her forehead.

“I kept my head down, trying to ignore all the short-skirted-short-stories you’ve been chasing, all the fan-fiction-vixens you’ve been posting, and all those Lovecraftian-Lolitas you’ve been publishing.”

Jill cocked her head. “Jesus, that’s the most alliteration I’ve ever heard come out of anyone.”

“I’ve been meaning to edit that.” I whispered out of the side of my mouth.

Jill’s phone vibrated again. Ignoring it, she covered her mouth, directing her speech at me.

“She’s list heavy too. All her examples come in threes. She sounds unnatural.”

I nodded, “I went a little crazy with the thesaurus when I started her.”

Jill picked up the phone. She muttered. “Hey… No, we’re still in the middle of it… We got interrupted… Yeah, no I’m fine… That’s not necessary… Really, I’ve got the situation under control… No… Oh, God damn it.”

The hardcover snorted back its tears. “Who is she talking too?”

Sitting up in the booth, I saw myself in the book’s big wounded eyes.

That’s a good question.” I said, shaking the salt from my hair.

Jill buried her phone in her purse. “That? That was no one. Just um…”

Before she could come up with an excuse the floor shook again. Reaching for my cocktail, the ceiling fan came crashing down onto the table. I rescued my drink in time. Guzzling it up, I found the ‘sunrise’ portions eclipsed by the tequila.

Looking over my shoulder, I saw a giant laptop computer pacing the bar. Its eyes took up the majority of its screen. Its teeth made up the center of its keyboard. Cartoon arms had sprouted out of its monitor. A pair of little legs supported its base. It waddled toward us, knocking over carts as it came.

I pointed my thumb over my shoulder. “Who the hell is that?”

Jill ducked into the booth. “I never wanted you to find out like this, but the entire time we’ve been together, there’s been a blog in the picture.”

Slamming my glass, I said. “I knew it.”

11th Hour Valentines

What started as a Photoshop tutorial on how to create a heart balloon, turned into this, because things just kind of turn to cobwebs when I leave my mark on them.
What started as a Photoshop tutorial on how to create a heart balloon, morphed into this, because things turn to cobwebs when I leave my mark on them.

Ten years ago, I wrote a piece on the bar close mating ritual. I had a lot to say about it back then. Turns out, I still do. So much so I had to split up my entries.

Don’t worry, this rant doesn’t come from the perspective of an outsider looking in, no, it’s the confession of a participant. It’s racier than my usual fare, but the subject matter demands it to be. Don’t worry, there’s no judgements here. Why would I preach when I can immerse you in the sin?

If reading this makes you feel a little dirty, then my work here is done.

11th Hour Valentines

It’s last call. It’s the lightning round. It’s anybody’s game. It’s the final countdown. It’s your fifteen minutes to claim. It’s the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve. It’s the eleventh hour before Valentine’s Day. It’s the last round of a speed date, no pressure.

We go from looking for a soulmate, to someone to fill a space. We detach our heartstrings to make ourselves more appetizing. We go from real things to physical flings. We took our shot, now we’re rebounds just looking for a layup. Casting off our spines, we bend over backwards to lower our standards. We were your sour grapes, now we’re your low hanging fruit. Our desperation is in season. Come and get it.

It’s the end of the world. Time to find somebody to share it with. There’s a mushroom cloud on the horizon. We don’t want to leave a lonesome silhouette.

We shoot through the crowd, like comets looking for celestial bodies worth orbiting. Circling one, then another, looking for an opening, holding our breath until we can get into your atmosphere.

The clock is ticking. The window is closing. The train is leaving. The pod bay doors are down to a slit. The spark is running out of string. The stars are aligned. The sundial is ready for the ritual. We’ve got to sacrifice someone to our ego.

Time to blow as many kisses as we can, and hope that some of them stick. Time to throw ourselves into a pair of open arms, and hope we’re well received. We’re suicide kings with daggers for brains, and hearts hovering over our sleeves. Time to play the hand we were dealt.

Be happy to strike fool’s gold. Be happy to find a zirconium in the rough. Be happy with a forgery. It all looks real in the dark.

It’s bar close. It’s winning time. It’s the last few feet before the finish line. The night is young, but we’re aging out of it.

It’s okay if you’ve lost your focus. We’re all a little unbalanced, trying to find our footing on a point that’s tipping.

Clock Face

Magicians work the room, with linguistic tricks, slight of mouth illusions of wit. Weeding out volunteers from the audience, they blow smoke on mirrors, until all their competition has disappeared. Oh, they might seem like they could conjure up a magical evening, but really, they just want to take you home and saw you in half.

Social scientists step outside of their element, synthesizing chemistry from agents that were never meant to bond. They mix extrovert acids with introvert bases, with no mind the explosive consequences.

Self promoters put themselves out there, doing all they can to raise brand awareness. Stealth marketers close their deals, converting lustful leads into sexual sales. Night traders place their bids, buying low self esteem, selling their own as high. Shifting market value, they all have unspoken agreements to attend to.

Wingmen pilot their jocks into chosen targets. Pouring on the Whiskey to keep their Deltas from throttling back. They’re on the lookout for landing strips. They navigate their mates through kamikaze compliments, looking to help a friend scratch a one night stand into their night stand.

A confederacy of drunkards speak in man code, nonverbal cues and raised eyebrow clues. They challenge the competition to a staring contest. They offer their olive branches with balled up fists. They speak in two tones, one for each gender, flirting with one, threatening the other.

We throw psych out eye contact, like basket ball players, concealing passes. Don’t feel so bad, you’re just a means to your friend. We invite strangers to our table, introduce them to our secluded sidekicks, and flee the scene. The old booth bait and switch. Now your someone else’s entertainment.

We’re tired of being flies on the wall, eavesdropping insects, people watching parasites. We want to get some blood in the game. Give us a sign worth decoding. Give our hungry eyes something to snack on. Give our subconscious Sherlocks something to deduce, something that isn’t so elementary.

The pickings are getting slim. We couldn’t make the midnight kiss, give us the two AM illusion of bliss. We couldn’t cast the real thing, so let’s just role play the honeymoon scene. Let’s choose the mystery box. Let’s see what’s behind door number three. Let’s roll those dice. Give our dignity a chance to break even, for our status to go from “creepy” back to “harmless.” Give us time to wait for your raised chin to turn back into a subtle smirk.

Come on and give us a little win.

Spades call each other out. Pots have words with kettles. The glass home owner’s association lobs their stones at the other tenants. Staggering out with torn clothes, they mock each other’s nudity. Resting their heads on the bar, they draw attention to the splinters in our eyes, ignoring the planks in their own.

Fighters are just lovers who can’t get their shit together.

We know better. We swore we’d never do this again, but when the beat hits that dead horse, we’ve got to get our groove on. We can’t hear our conscience over the cognitive dissonance. Desire is our song, but dejection is our jam. We let it play, hoping that somehow it will turn out differently. This broken record, is the dictionary definition of insanity.

There are so many mixed signals, foot traffic has no where to go. We’re deers in headlights, when you want to call it an early night. We boogie on the barrier. We grind through the gridlock. We’re an unstoppable force hitting on an immovable object, a match made in collision. It takes two to tango. It takes two to play chicken.

The dance floor is an ongoing crime scene. Federal Agents claim jurisdiction over our libidos. Our eyes wander as we examine the evidence. Buttons are undone as we check each other for wires. We walk around with our flies down, hoping that someone will blow our cover.

Let’s follow our leads, find a nice soft mattress to carry out a sting operation. We’re just two confidential informants exchanging information.

Finger Heart

Wake up to the morning after interrogation room scene, to the entrapment of a state of the union conversation. Last night was a dream come true, but now anything you say can and will be used against you. That gas station food you shared on the way, that retroactively counts as a date. Your partner recites the night with the clarity of someone who didn’t have enough to drink. They read your words back to you. You might want to have your lawyer present when you go for brunch.

We make plea bargains for relations without relationships, docile deals for compromising positions, visitation rights for those long lonely nights. Making the walk of shame out of their jurisdiction, we wonder what the hell happened.

Some of us get sloppy. We leave an orgy of evidence. We don’t bother planning an escape route. We try to get caught. Show us to your cell. Handcuff us to your bedpost. We’ll get off with good behavior. We weren’t looking to cut and run. We were trying to end up here.

“Love” is a word we so rarely get to use in context. With our backs against the wall, just give us a reason. Tell us that you want something serious and see what happens. Do you really want to put a term on it? Because we’ve got all this meaning, we’re just waiting to attach to something.

Be our high time hookup, our last minute lover, our eleventh hour Valentine. Be our crisis point crush, our cab ride cupid, our wooer under the wire. Be our fail safe flame, our infatuation for when we’re in a bind, our escort under exigence circumstance.

You can be the hangover cure we didn’t know we needed. The unnamed number in our caller ID. The mistake we look back on fondly. Be our happy accident. We’ll be the missing piece that still doesn’t fit into your plans.

Maybe we won’t be yours for long, but for a moment we’ll be somebody’s something.

Seduce the Words out of You (Audio Blog)

(Download the instrumental version here)

This piece first appeared on Loren Kleinman’s blog on writing. Check it out at lorenkleinman.com, and follow her on Twitter @LorenKleinman. The above photo was taken by Keane Amdahl follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned.

Seduce the Words out of You

Writer’s are told to draft everything before rushing in. We’re told to have an outline to refer to when we get stuck. It’s a good check against writer’s block. It’s hard to lose the plot, when you can see every link in the chain. You know what happens next. You know your responsibilities. Your role in the relationship is defined. Continue reading Seduce the Words out of You (Audio Blog)

Breaking Up With Your Story (Audio Short)

Writing a novel is like being in a relationship with a high maintenance person. Novels want all of your free time. They want the leading role in you day planner. They want you to take them everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re out with friends that you never get to see, your novel has something to say and you’re going to listen. Sneak your phone out and type a few paragraphs.

Your Novel looks at your short stories and says, “Who’s that then? They seem pretty cute? Is there something going on between the two of you that I should know about?”

Looking back on your relationship, your novel is never what you thought it was. The ruby colored glasses come off and you see all the edits you’re going to have to make, all the couple’s retreats and all the counseling. You will constantly doubt if it’s all worth it.

Then publishing your novel is like planing a wedding. First you have to find a place. Then they have to set a date. Then you have to send out the invites. It is work.

Like any relationship, writing a novel takes commitment.

This audio short is about what happens when you think you don’t have what it takes to see that commitment through. It’s my third piece to feature music. The first two were poems this is a fully realized short story. Enjoy!