Thank you to all who have been following Ordinary Handsome these past few months. I truly appreciate all your support and comments, and wish you and yours all the very best for a wonderful, healthy, and creative 2015!
I mark my life by pissing in the corners.
Mamma boiled eggs in the kitchen, tossin’ me the shells, tellin’ me to lick my plate clean, eggs don’t come cheap no more since we had to put some chickens down las’ spring and hafta buy from the Jew down road. She don’t say it mean, she just mean we poor and cain’t afford no useless scraps ‘round the kitchen, ‘specially when I’s an extra mouth to feed. She call Daddy a no-good trucker, she shoulda done better, shoulda married someone who could so somethin’ useful, like sellin’ cardboard boxes for winos to live in. Continue reading “Cronic: Corners”
Reading through some of my older works — mainly Cronic right now — is like glancing through an old diary. It brings back vivid memories of places and times, rooms, weather, moods.
Cronic, if I’m remembering correctly, was written in five different houses. My wife and I moved a lot when we were first married, from a comfortable (if messy) bachelor apartment to a house of our own. It was the last completed novel I wrote before moving down here to Virginia, and we’ve lived here now for seven and a half years. Wow!
I typically spend between two and three years on a novel, but this one took me a lot longer. I quit writing for a number of years before I tackled it. Mostly, I was burned out, fed up with my job, and mentally exhausted and frustrated from lack of interest from publishers. Enough, I told myself.
Marriage was a great inspiration. Ange, who is a remarkable artist and a writer, brought back a lot of the creativity I was lacking. Cronic was a big leap for me. I think of it as my first real novel. Maybe that’s why she’s so sentimental about it. And re-reading it, for the first time in seven years, has brought back a lot of nostalgic feelings. I tried to honestly capture something very different. It’s got a “screw it, I’m doing this the way I want to do it” attitude.
I remember writing some of it, but not all of it. At some point, it became a blur of pages piling up on my desk. I remember certain paragraphs and phrases, but I’m reading it more than editing it, and it brings back waves of feeling. It was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever written, but one of the most satisfying. I think, within those pages, I finally acknowledged to myself that I was a writer, for better or worse. Even if no one ever read it, I did what I set out to do and was happy with it. I can look back at it now, seven years later, and see the flaws and a few “what the hell was I thinking?” sections that I would now approach differently, but overall, I’m not going to mess with it. It is what it is: brutal, yearning for expression, and a means to welcome back my imagination.
And dude, it was a hell of a ride.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
I see the light in his eyes, the buzzing, carnivorous light. I see the years of emptiness and his unfaithfulness to hope. There is no hope in those eyes, not really. Not even desperation. Just a blindness and a fury and an exasperation that he can’t understand what it is he is feeling. It’s cold but it’s also rote; rehearsed to the degree that it has become real. He can’t separate himself from feeling… or not feeling. Some people may call it sociopathic, but I call it a vast wasteland of emptiness. And there isn’t anything more frightening than peering into the eyes of someone who doesn’t even know who or what he is. And
wrapped around my
Some may have calculated the circumference of the earth, but to see a stainless steel cable surround your foot, anchored to the armrest of a ’61 candy red Thunderbird is to give one an overwhelming perspective about the size of the real world.
“You bein’ a very bad kitty.”
I was sleeping, flying, snoring when I woke up in the middle of the air. Mamma tossed me like straw. Her temper was up and I could see a river of sweat pouring down her face. Her eyes were dark from an ugly brown mascara, and I could see the spit on her teeth, hissing at me like she was a bobcat. The house smelled like overcooked bacon, or maybe that was her smell… greasy and damp and musky.
“I been calling you for the past five minutes, Charlie Kitten,” she yell. Only when she yell, it came out hoarse and thick, like a hunk of cabbage was jammed down her throat. “Your Daddy’s gonna be home in five minutes, and you just layin’ there.”
She threw a dirty ashtray at me, and the ashes hung in the air like a dirty sheet. I could almost see the cigarette butts casting shadows on the linoleum.
The sun baked the whole house, even the summer kitchen where everything was s’posed to stay cool.
“Do as I say, or I’m telling your daddy to drown you.” She turned around to leave the room, then stopped. Sometimes Mamma just stopped whatever she was doing and looked at the walls. Sometimes she hummed something sweet, but it always come out muddled and off-key.
Chuck Berry was playing now, something about riding around in his automobile, and Mamma woke up from her little trance. “Did you clean your plate like I told you? Betty’s in the garden, picking me some peas.”
We didn’t have a garden, didn’t have one for nearly two years, but that was Mamma’s way of saying she didn’t remember where Betty even was, even though she been dead three years. Continue reading “Cronic, aka Charlie Kitten”