Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Huge Budget Hollywood

Having recently watched 'I Am Legend' and a few other newer movies, I have decided to write a brief letter to Hollywood, asking and entreating the producers and writers to hear my pleas.

Dear Hollywood,

It has come to my attention (forcefully, with Dolby Surround Sound), that certain things in many of the recent movies being released simply don't work. The reasons for these numerous troubles are varied, but I've decided to give you a short 'heads-up' in regards to some of them, in case the overpaid film-designers in your ranks haven't done their research, or are too lazy to care.

1. Stop shortening film titles. There is no logical reason why 'The Way of the Peaceful Warrior' needed to be shortened for the movie version to 'Peaceful Warrior'. We're not so dumb as you think, and have the brain capacity to handle more than a three-word title. If you greenlight a script entitled 'Night in the Desk of Calvin Coolidge', there is no need to shorten it to 'Coolidge'. Titles aren't simply for exhibiting the lowest-common-denominator of the subject in summary.

2. Bad script alert: If you receive a script with any of the following lines of dialogue in it, the script is bad. I'm serious.

A. "No, that's impossible! We killed you!" No one wants rehashes of Freddy Krueger stories or badly made things in a similar vein.
B. "Get me the _______" (name of a person or superhero like Cobra, Daredevil. Also: President, Secretary of Defense, Media, etc...)
C. "So what you're saying is..." This is always used to introduce really obvious backstory, and it's like a slap in the face. EXAMPLE: "He's a real loner. He's complicated and keeps to himself." "So what your saying is he doesn't trust anyone?" "Yes."
D. Any dialogue where a white kid talks in a really false and overexaggerated street-slang and using overemphasised hand gestures. We get it. You're setting up this character to be the butt of some dumb joke about how he's not black, to make the dull character doing the joking more witty. The thing is, it's transparent and DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE. Also, other stereotypical bullshit.
E. Any dialogue that begins with "Think of it this way..." This is usually just an excuse to take your space-jargon or other 'technical' description and translate it into something for the audience. "Think of it this way... The air will be pulled displaced from the room and he'll suffocate." "Oh, thanks for pampering me. I was too dumb to know carbon monoxide could hurt you."
F. Any narration in a preview that includes the three words 'in the dark'.
G. "You gotta be kidding me."
H. "This could mean the end of..."
I. "I grew up in the sixties."
J. "What are those things?"

The list goes on and on... Anyone with suggestions can place them in the comments to this post.

3. No matter how much you think it's great, Man fighting CG is old. We know it's CG. How do we know? It doesn't look real. Why doesn't it look real? Because it isn't. Seeing Will Smith fight off packs of roving cannibal-mutants in 'I am Legend' would have been a lot better if the 'mutants' mouths didn't stretch like taffy to unbelievable proportions whenever they screamed (making noises no human larynx could, I'll add). Also, while I'm bitching about 'I am Legend', if your foreshadowing is really obvious and statement-oriented, you haven't done it well.

4. This one is a big one, Hollywood: ENOUGH WITH THE TRILOGIES. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 should have been called 'Men Fighting on Things that Roll Down Hills', and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 should have been called 'What the Hell is Even Going On? Johnny Depp's In It, That's All We Know."

5. It grows embarrassing for everyone when a movie spawns B-sequels that begin to have nothing to do with the original. American Pie, anyone?

6. Let Keanu Reeves and Cameron Diaz go. They've been trying really hard to do it themselves. Just... just let them go.

7. Oh, also, can you start levelling the volume in your DVD releases a little more? Please? It gets really annoying having to turn up the volume twelve notches so I can hear the dialogue, then clutch my chest in seizure when someone in the movie kicks in a door and makes my fucking windows rattle, forcing me to grab the remote and hit volume-down in a mad panic at 1 in the morning.

There's so much more... I can't focus on it there are so many weirdnesses to fix...
If anyone else has anything they'd like added to the letter, feel free to post them in the comments.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sinister Events Strike in the Heart of My Small Town

Article from 'The World' newspaper, Coos Bay, Oregon

Cows lead police on chase in Coos Bay

December 7, 2007 - 11:33 a.m.

COOS BAY — The Coos Bay World reports that two cows have led police officers on a chase through the streets of Coos Bay.

A driver stopped for gas for his truck, which was towing a livestock trailer. After getting his fill, he drove away. His cows stayed behind.

According to the Coos Bay Police Department, the driver of the truck failed to properly close the back door to his trailer and the cows got out.

The two cows led police officers on a chase through the streets of city, rushing up toward the high school, past the U.S. Post Office, back downtown and even into the bay.

At last check, the chase appeared to be slowing down near the waterfront.

The following image was not taken from the newspaper, but does demonstrate the nature of these criminal, devilish cows well enough, I think:

And this image sums up the nature of the police in my town, as well as local sentiment quite well:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dadda, Painter Need Surgery

I woke this morning and, after bidding my little boy 'good morning', was greeted with the same statement for which this post is titled. I stared for a moment. Did he mean the word 'sugary', as in wanting some sort of candy? Had I simply heard him wrong, or he'd gotten his words crossed?

"Dadda, Painter need surgery."
"Uh... wow, kid. Do you mean sugary? Candy?"
"Dadda, Painter surgery. Please."
"Yeah, sick. Painter need surgery. A doctor."

So that was that, he did, in fact, mean 'surgery'. No doubt this idea of his was spawned from my own surgery I had earlier in the month, though it wasn't something I'd ever explained to him. He just assumed I was 'sick'. That's the cutest thing I've ever heard of. I did go over the notion that he required no surgery, though he kept pointing at his stomach.

"Need surgery."

Creepy as hell, that was. I pictured him being a character in a Stephen King tale.

I think I mentioned something in a previous post about posting an image of my surgical aftermath, but I can't remember and I'm not going back to check right at this moment. Here you go-- My disgusting, abdomenal, post-operative self:

Most fun. And yes, I look ridiculously pot-bellied, and they shaved me. I don't know what I'm up to with posting this picture and the one in my last post, showing my disturbing, permanently injured, ever-bloodshot eye, but it's certainly not showing off my good looks (of which, by now you'll realize I have none).

And here's The Little Boy Who Wanted Surgery (I may use that as the title of one of my children's books, at some point, along with my previous big hit "The Little Boy with Ants in His Heart"):

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Just a quick note on my new book, Skep, which is coming along well enough. I'm at about 24 poems in, and will continue until the vacinity of 80. A 'skep' is a sort of natural beehive, usually constructed out of hay. What does that have to do with a book of poetry? Enough for what I have in mind. Below are two pictures of my work in progress. Yes, this is a college-ruled pad and yes, my handwriting is fucking tiny (three handwritten lines fit within one college-ruled space qualifies the term 'fucking' in this statement). For no particular reason other than to give indication of what writing this small does to me, I've separated the two images with a picture of my right eye, which has been bloodshot since I was a kid. I actually have a permanently injured eye, so the bloodshot nature of it never goes away. My left eye is normal. Look in my author images (main page) and you can spot this bloodshot right eye in action here and there.

I should have it completed in a little less than a month. Yeah, I put some effects on the pictures. If interested in what these particular two poems are about, look through my Twitter posts (, for the titles of the poems: Stingray, and In a Flock of Strange Things.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Appearance Links

I've had more than a few people lately explaining a difficulty they've been having with my main page ( The trouble seems to be that they're trying to locate some of my work online, for passive reads, but don't like navigating through the archives of online mags and the such. I use my main page for several purposes. The first and foremost is to post a bio, some author images, and a complete publication history / editing history, etc... The Twitter posts add a bit of me to the page, as well. The page is simple, and I post all on a single page, able to be scrolled through for long durations, or quick-linked from the sidebar, whatever your flavor is. The page is mostly designed for editors, who, after correspondence with me, via submissions, subscriptions, and other various queries, can take a look around if they'd like to get to know me on paper. This blog,, is a much more personal page designed to allow a little access to me outside of publishing and the such. You know, what I'm up to, all that.

However, the people that have contacted me recently (and there have been mentions in the past, as well), feel my Publication History on the main page would be greatly enhanced by posting appearance links as well. They think it's great I link to all mags that have or are planning on printing my work, and that I link to the editors of these mags as well, but people don't want to wade through archives searching for my work. So, from here on out, I'll be adding appearance links to any online/electronic publications in my history, for anyone who'd like to read any of my published work.

I suppose anyone who follows one of those links and reads something of mine has an interest, and so anyone who does so is free to email me with any opinions or criticism they may have. I may not follow it, but I'd love to hear what people have to say. It's one thing to print in mags, and you know there are certainly readers somewhere that have gone through your poem, but it's another thing to actually get feedback from readers. It's a kind of proof, really, that yes, someone read what you wrote, which can offer a much-needed dose of momentum to someone like me.

So there.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Recuperation is Swift but Shaky

Having undergone my vibrant and unruly surgical procedure, and had my junk laparoscopically and systematically 'improved', I have been spending some time at home recovering. With the exception of the tightness that has overwhelmed my entire abdomenal region, I'm doing well with it all. I tend to heal rather quickly, so I wasn't entirely worried about it. Mostly, my worry was in dealing with the surgeon, who, despite any argument I could muster, would still end our relationship by slicing into me with a scalpel. There was no avoiding it. My doctor/surgeon was a talented young buck, but the ways of medicine still frighten and elude me.

Still, I'm recuperating and feel around 80%, and by this time Saturday, I should be back into my normal frame of juggling regiment with whimsical sloth. This is how I expect to be feeling by then:

To anyone out there debating whether they'd like to have an inguinal hernia or not, go ahead and weigh your options, but my ten cents is that you should avoid the situation. Sure, you get to meed new people, network with the rising stars of American McMedicine, and they get you wasted at certain, crucial points on difficult to pronounce drugs, but the overall testicular shrieking and the folding of your gut like origami just ruins the party.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Literary Life and My Crotch are Spread Too Thin

To the Grand Republic of Blog Purveyors,

This is a quick update on various happenings that have occurred and are slated to occur, as well as a touching commentary on the nature of my busted crotch, for which I am to undergo a magnificent and vivid surgery.

First off, a great thing has happened in that some of my spoken word is going to get some radio play in Scotland, on SHMU, November 4th, 2-4 p.m. GMT. The time zone difference equates to the following in the U.S.: 5-7 a.m., Sunday the 4th. This has been set up by the excellent Michael William Molden, of Cauliay Publishing, who has graciously invited my work onto his broadcast, as well as showcased some of it on his site. The link, for those of you wishing to experience this joyous occasion, is You can tune in live for the broadcast, and I'm fairly certain you could access it later, if you're the sort that likes to sleep in the wee hours of the night/morning. The show goes out to around 200,000 listeners.

I'd like to thank Mr. Molden, the academy, the little people, and everyone in Aberdeen, Scotland. I shant forget you.

Blood and Ink, the collaborative effort disseminating all sorts of how-it-works information on the arts, and of which I am a contributor, has moved to a new home with wordpress, and can now be found at It appears in connection to the site of the illustrious Elijah J. Brubaker, illustrator extraordinaire and all-around great guy you should love and buy things from. Go. Right now.

I've begun a new book of poetry, and have managed to gain some print in quite a few lovely mags in the last few months, for which I owe much. You can find any of these magazines and publications listed on my main page,, under 'Publication History'.

Now, on to the crotch. Everything always ends there, doesn't it?

I was recently diagnosed with an inguenal hernia, after a bout in the E.R., where I was seen clutching myself and shivering. For those without knowledge of things inguenal, or who haven't studied up on this sort of hernia, it works like this:
Yes, that's what happened to me. In fact, this is an actual photograph of me, except they got some of the 'dimensions' wrong. Anyway, the randomnity of the pain is horrid, and I've now had two different doctors wring out my junk like a dishrag.

Though I was seen in the E.R., and diagnosed but 5 days ago, the repair of this problem is slated to take place this Monday, the 5th of November. They're going in through my stomach area with wriggling little night-vision cameras to fumble around in my guts, and build some things in my groin from the inside. This pelvic strike is to take place with me unconscious, anesthetized, and most likely, drooling into nightmare. I have enclosed several images that, in an abstract way, symbolise the way I feel about this entire situation.

And here is the hospital wherein the adventuresome surgery will take place:

That's all for now. Wait, no... we took Paint-paint out for Halloween last night in his spankin' cool costume, which was a blast, even though I had to limp the entire way.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Flash Gordon: Saviour of the Universe

Recently, my wife and I decided to rent Flash Gordon: Saviour of the Universe Edition from our local video store. This is the one in which Max Von Sidow plays Ming the Merciless, and Queen plays the soundtrack. The movie is everything I remembered it being, and there was certainly a bit of cheesy, embarrassing nostalgia involved in viewing the film, as I loved it when I was a youngster.

In the special features of this edition, is an entire episode of the 1930's era Flash Gordon serial, starring Buster Crabbe. I'd never actually seen the original serial, and have only a rudimentary connection to the comics and stories that have involved Flash Gordon over the years. We thought the special feature was neat, so watched it. Near the finale, my wife and I both began exchanging looks of confusion and intrigue. I'll explain the scene in question, as it had both of us laughing to the point I was unable to contain my laughter and had to leave the room until I could get ahold of myself.

The scene in question is in Episode 1 of this Flash Gordon serial. I've included screenshots. In the scene, Flash has been captured by Ming and his minions and has been tossed into an arena to fight.

He is noticeably worried about the situation, as can be seen in the screenshot below.

I am noticeably worried about the situation.

I mean, seriously, what's going to happen to poor Flash? He's a good-lookin' guy, probably plays sports, knows his way around a stiff drink and a loose lady, but come on... He's just crash-landed beside some giant lizards, been abducted by another humanoid race that seem to wear an awful lot of bondage-like gear, he's trapped indefinitely in an alien world, the chick he likes is being held beside the evil lord of this strange place (who probably has the hots for her, too), and a bunch of metal-clad guards have just tossed him into an arena, presumably to face something malicious, horrible, and life-threatening.

When thrown into this terrible predicament, this magnanimous and dire situation in which his very life could be on the line, all he sees is this:

Nowhere to hide!

That's right, three iron-barred gates... and THEY'RE OPENING. What's going to happen? Is this the end of Flash's life? Will he never play football and score with chicks again? Mortal combat is approaching... But what infernal horror is about to be unleashed upon him? Ming seems pleased at Flash's fright, and indicates what a weakling Flash must be, by pointing at him in front of the metal-clad guards as if to say "Look at the wuss from Earth. He shall surely pee his pants."


Then the gates fully open and, panicking, Flash gets into a fighting stance. It all comes down to this tense confrontation. Will it be inhuman monsters? Murderous machines? Claw-sporting animals with a thirst for the young jock's blood? Wait... here they come... it can't be... no... NO.... THEY'VE EMERGED! it's, it's....


Well, okay... just two saber-toothed jews in diapers, and one regular, non-saber-toothed jew, but still in a diaper. The three attackers, making grunt-drool noises, slowly lumber after Flash, who must fight for his very life. Mostly, the saber-toothed diaper jews only seem to want to wrestle, kind of greco-roman style, and Flash finds this to his advantage. He must have wrestled in high school, because he knocks the creatures around for awhile. However, the saber-toothed diaper jews only seem to get more aggressive as the fight continues, and soon, they gain in speed, rushing poor Flash again and again.


It's only a matter of time. Flash is human... inevitably, his energy will run out while defying death by fighting these superhuman, razor-toothed, incontinent, lumbering semites. What can be done? He valiantly pits his blonde, buff self against them, waging epic, pectoral skirmishes again and again, but in the end, he is defeated. The diapered ones make their final play and catch Flash off guard.

It's over.

After subduing Flash Gordon, the creatures are called off. Flash has failed. His semi-girlfriend nearby, beside Ming screams out, "Oh Flash!", but nothing can be done. The three creatures hold him down and drool and grunt some more, but seem incapable of inflicting any further damage to our hero. They just kind of crawl around on him and make goofy noises. Ming is pleased.

Mwa ha.

The episode pretty much ends on that note, with no further episodes on the disc. I watched it several times, unable to control myself. So take note, modern world: The Earth can be a pretty tough place. We have famine, disease, inequality, confusion, malarchy... but beware, for one day Ming may send us his horde of saber-toothed jews in diapers, and on that day, we will know what poor Flash Gordon went through, and all of our world's problems until that moment will seem as but the minuscule trifles of lesser things.

Beware, for the day will come...

Friday, September 28, 2007


Now that I've got a wee tot myself, I've been going through the memory banks and trying to remember the things I liked when I was his age. I'm having trouble with it, because he's 2, but I do have a couple of memories that I can draw from. I had a plush zebra that I slept with incessantly, among other things. Painter has a donkey. I remember my parents both had really big paychecks come in one year, when I was 4, and we had a gigantic Christmas. It was the one year wherein they decided to officially spoil us, even once. Out of the huge medly of toys I received that year, two stand out. These are the greatest toys ever made. No matter what toys you liked when you were a kid, these beat those toys up all day long.

The Speak & Spell is pretty obvious. I played with mine from the age of 4 until 8. I rigged it to alternate power sources, I toted it everywhere. It is no wonder I later became a writer. I spent my childhood staying inside and spelling shit all day.

The only difference is that my Godzilla figure shot its fist off with eye-blacking power, and his other hand was replaced with red missiles that were best launched with a trajectory leading them to my toddler brother's head. I have no idea why this toy had rockets for one hand, or what sort of bizarre marketing that was, but I loved the thing.

Painter plays with Hot Wheels cars. That's his thing, for now. We've got a thousand, at this point.

And when he falls asleep, I play with the Hot Wheels cars.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Wings of Icarus

For those interested, Andrew David King and Tony R. Rodriguez have a new ezine looking for good work, Wings of Icarus. Send your best.

More information can be found in their guidelines.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The House

In a much earlier post, you might remember I posted a number of images that showed my grandmother's house sitting in the waterof the Coos Bay flood, a year-and-a-half ago. The house was salvageable, but had to be gutted completely. It's taken some time, for which my grandmother has been in a series of trying and stressful situations with insurance companies and grant-workers, various other organizations relating to the flood that occurred, but finally, something is happening with her house. They're raising the house ten feet in the air, and rebuilding the ground beneath it. Here are the odd, surreal pictures. Keep in mind that I spent three of my high-school years in this house, and now my bedroom is 15 feet up in the air. Unfortunately, we couldn't get any pictures of the water at it's largest height against the house, as we didn't have enough time to wade out there... this was a very sudden flood and receded after a day or two, then happened again, then receded after another day or two. Here's an image (note the mailboxes for an indication of height):

And here, a year-and-a-half later, are a couple of the house-raising images:

The above image shows the house at about 12 feet off the ground, and it took around 6 hours to raise it with water-pressured hoses attached to specialized lifting jacks. I don't know the parlance or terms for these sorts of machines. The entire interior of the house has been gutted and removed. This is a house on the outside only. There are no walls, no pipes, nothing. There are a series of large beams running through it, which you can see in the above images.

It was strange standing underneath my high-school bedroom and looking up at the ceiling, which was now 15 feet higher above me than it used to be. Walking under the house in general is surreal, as you can look up into it, and it just seems like you're looking up into a two-story house who's ground level has been destroyed, though it's really just a one-story house up on beams. What a trip. I'll post an image or two of the finished house when it's done. They're currently pouring a new, huge concrete-walled foundation beneath the house at the level it's at in the above picture. The house will be raised a total of 10 feet, once all is said and done, and remain there indefinitely.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Interviews with the Twilight of Blood and Ink Pigs of 2007

It has been a small time since last post, but my initial point to this ugly little thing was to post about once a month. Much has been happening recently, and it's difficult to boil it into a format I can quickly type.

The writing has been going well. In the last year, I've written two novels, one of which is gigantic, and 4 books of poetry, at around 80 poems each. The last, 'In the Twilight of Pigs' is a bit different for me, but has worked out well. I've currently got it tied up in a few handpicked submissions to a few handpicked magazines that I'm hoping will handpick me back.

I'm going to start a new book of poetry later tonight, though am giving serious thought to working on some short stories for a collection, instead.

This year has gone well for me in the small press. This year thus far, 2007, I have poems appearing or forthcoming at Takahe, Skyline Magazine, TheEclectics, Kafla Inter-continental, Prakalpana Sahitya, Riversedge, Four Volts, The Verse Marauder, Paperplates, Small Spiral Notebook, My Name is Mud, Red China, Coconut, Ancient Heart Magazine, Ascent Aspirations, Kritya, Dispatch, Sein und Werden, Ceremony Collected, EOAGH, Unfettered Verse, Wandering Army, Wet Asphalt, The Persistent Mirage, Static Poetry, Pemmican, Tryst, La Fenetre Magazine, The Smoking Poet, First Time, Greensilk Journal, LostWriters, The Swallow's Tail, The Written Word, Wicked Alice, East Village Poetry, Tipton Review, Going Down Swinging, Ken*again, Bergen Street Review, The Scribbler Ink, Ygdrasil, Venereal Kittens, MEAT Journal, Brave Little Poem of the Day, Chaotic Dreams, The Flask Review, Clockwise Cat, Bolts of Silk, Death Metal Poetry, Salt Flats Annual, 2000, Blue Skies, Faulty Mindbomb, Ceremony, Breed, Ceremony Collected II, Flutter Poetry Journal, Rokovoko, Enfuse Magazine, Conceit, edificeWRECKED, The Aggregated Press, Halfway Down the Stairs, Riverbabble, The Cynic, Har√Ľah: Breath of Heaven, Poor Mojo's Almanac(k), and most recently, The Blotter.

I am very thankful that things have turned around lately. I'd be stupid not to be.

Maisy and I are trying to move to Portland, and were hoping to be there at the start of September, but now it's looking like we'll have to wait another few months. We spent too much money trying to scout out a place to live there, and everything we got a lead on went bust. We can always wait until tax season, and then use our return to move, if we have to. Especially now that we've paid off that ancient student loan of mine that septupled in size long before Maisy and I ever met, and for which I didn't even attend school with ($1500 loan that turned into nearly $8,000 worth of debt over seven years, with most of these years seeing me homeless or on the verge, spare-changing and groveling about my little town to keep alive). I almost miss those years, as much as they battered me at the time.

Painter is growing and talking galore. Today, he woke me up by shouting, "Oh, mail! Dada, mail!" I love it. I've gotten all milky and dopey in previous posts about how much I love my kid, but jesus, it's powerful, right? What a scampish, bright little man he is. Anyway, being a stay-home dad is enjoyable, though not without it's difficulties (cabin fever, for one, getting my boots pissed in one morning, for another).

I've been writing for Blood and Ink for quite a few months now. It's a sort of repository for a few writer and illustrator colleagues to post articles we're writing on the different facets of creating art. I've been focusing on publishing in my articles mostly, but have some new work to place there soon on various forms of poetry (Ghazal, Sonnet, Pantoum, Fugue, etc...). I've just realized that I have yet to mention it much here. A shame, as it's worth your time. The articles at Blood and Ink are written from the knuckle, truly.

Also, I've been doing interviews with certain celebrity writers over at Interviews with the Dead, for some time now. The people I've interviewed thus far are Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Homer, Kobayashi Issa, Walt Whitman, and Dante Alighieri. Most of these were difficult interviews, but a few of these authors were cooperative, sort of. Interviewing the dead is always hit or miss. I've contacted Mark Twain and he's consented to an interview, so I've been preparing questions the last few days.

Oh, and you may have noticed the syndicated Cat and Mouse strip at the top of my page. This is a product of my illustrious friend Elijah Brubaker. Visit him immediately at EJB Comix.

Enjoy the rest of Summer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Jahul Needs You

To my various compatriots, of which I believe there are in numbers less than three, I announce that Jahul can now be found on YouTube, as well as Google Video. See him fulfill his destiny, watch as he resurrects the unfortunate, witness as he ascends to paradise on the Holy Receptacle, view his chase and conquering of the fearful Child of Light, and you can even experience the trailer for his feature-length, forthcoming film, "Jahul: Beast of Time". Yes.

To locate him in these bins of showmanship, approach Google Video or YouTube and search for 'Jahul'. You will find him in a driven mood. It is his gift to you.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Poor Ed, He Can't Be Trusted, and Neither Can His Kids

This is Ed, and Ed loves his video games.

Now, Ed is 30 years old, and grew up with video games in vast production. They eclipsed books as a source of his childhood fun. As he grew older, like all of his friends, more adult games were released. When he was 18, he voted, then went out and bought a pack of cigarettes and some porn, because he was 18 and could these things. He was a grown up, finally. This delighted Ed.

When he turned 21, he went out and had a drink in a bar, then a few more. He could. What a wonderful thing being a mature, consenting adult was. No wonder his parents knew so much: They were grown ups and had choices. Ed is now 30, and can vote, be tried as an adult, own a home, buy pornography, cigarettes, prescription drugs, alcohol, hire prostitutes (in Nevada), and rent movies where people are decapitated, shot, starved, screwed, anally raped, beaten, and even killed as part of genocide. He can serve in the ARMY and question authority, and can perform any variety of sexual acts with consenting whoevers. His tastes are his own, because he is an adult human being.

But Ed recently discovered a hitch in his natural right as a grown up:

It seems the one thing Ed can't do is play Manhunt 2, a game he's been looking forward to, on his Wii or Playstation 2, or ever in the future on his Xbox, because it's been rated an 18-and-older game. Wait... 18+? That should be fine, because he's 30. Ed was 18+ before it was cool. But it seems he won't be allowed to play this game as is, because it's been banned in the U.K., Ireland, and refused (at the last second) by it's distributors, who now won't carry it.

Does that make any sense? It doesn't to Ed, that's for sure. He's 30, so an 18+ game should be all clear, right? Unfortunately, this particular 18+ game has now been banned in two countries, Ireland and England, and both Sony and Nintendo, who were slated to release the game in the U.S. on July 10th, 2007, now will not. The reasoning? The game is an 18+ game, and both companies have refused to sell an 18+ game.

Ed is confused. He's upset. He's getting pissed off. What possible problem could there be in a 30-year-old man, and a man weaned on video games his whole life, playing a game rated just for him? Banning Manhunt 2 because it received an adult rating is the same as banning a movie because it's rated R. Others may not like or approve of the game, but it's Ed's choice if he wants to buy it. And he does. He wants to buy it bad.

So, as it is, Ed won't get to play the adult game he's been waiting on, since he's an adult who, as the basic message can be perceived, isn't smart or trustworthy enough to buy something he's legally entitled to. It's a shame, too, because Ed's been getting awfully tired of being given child-like games. The games made for kids are great for kids, but Ed is a grown man, and no amount of hopping around collecting coins in the form of a cute, smiling animation in a virtual world is going to satisfy Ed's need to be a grown up that can both handle and satisfy himself with the material he decides to buy. He isn't the sort to watch handfuls of Disney family movies in his little apartment all day, and he doesn't want to play the video games of them either.

Ed can't play Manhunt 2, wherein an escaped patient from a mental institution goes on a killing spree, but he can certainly watch the myriads of movies on the exact same thing. He can read Silence of the Lambs, if he wants. He can watch it on the news, certainly. He can rent all the Friday the 13th movies he wants, wherein an unkillable lunatic in a mask goes about on a rampage, killing innocent people in horrid, disturbing ways (and Ed can even play the video game based on it some time back, which was released with a rating appropriate for him as a CHILD, when he played it).

Does the video gaming world realize they have created a vast demographic of adult fans that they aren't serving at all? A demographic that's slowly leaving because they're getting tired of being programmed down to? This game was slated to be released, is finished, and ready to ship. Now, it won't until Rockstar Games dumbs it down and makes it 'happier' for us all.

What use is a rating system if everything is for kids?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Shit, Kurt Vonnegut Died

There are remarkably few authors that have managed to snag my adoration. By adoration, I mean an unruly and logic-defying literary crush. I've had a few, and a small number of them have carried on into the present. Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, Dante Alighieri, Dylan Thomas, Hart Crane... hell, when I was very young, old Stephen King was in there. Kurt Vonnegut held a strong running in me.

Kurt Vonnegut was an author whose works I met, like many young writers, in a passing phase, but whose work, unlike other authors I read in that time period, stuck around in my head for some time. I read Slaughterhouse Five, Galapagos, Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, Mother Night, Deadeye Dick... about a dozen or so. I even read Sirens of Titan and that book of short stories, Welcome to the Monkey House. I've actually written poems based on imagery in my head that I somehow kept from reading his descriptions of Dresden's firebombing. I read his son's book, too, hoping to learn more about the author I couldn't know.

It somehow does bug me that I'm writing about him now that he's dead, because of it. It makes me feel like a phony asshole. I don't know if it's supposed to bug me when an author I've crushed on dies or not. It didn't bug me much when Bukowski died, or Burroughs, and it doesn't bug me that Vonnegut has. It seems appropriate, I suppose. Conclusion. End of book. Now we can watch our culture slowly boil all the flavor out of the books he wrote and footnote him in annotated textbooks and tribute anthologies, the occasional indie rock song that utilizes a term of his. Hey, that sounds dire, but it's not. It's the tragic stipend of having written, popularly. I was in love with Vonnegut's work for awhile, but it's difficult to discern from reading them if he enjoyed them as much as his readers.

Have a good one, Mr. Vonnegut. Thanks for being human, and for the books, as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

You Sap

It’s been some time since I mentioned the fatherhood thing, which was to be my original subject of this online journal. The reason there hasn’t been much in the way of parenting posts is because things regarding fathering and raising my baby kid happen with such incredible frequency that they begin to blend together into one, long memory. The minute I have something I want to post, something I’ve come up with or even a basic observation, something else will occur, and I just can’t keep up with all the parenting happenings I’ve wanted to place here, online. So, I’ll keep it brief and give an update from time to time.

While going through numerous pictures on my backup drive, I found some of the early images of Painter, and found myself shaken considerably by the sheer amount of change he’s already gone through. Two years ago, I looked no different than I do now. But the difference in Painter is astounding. Sure, all kids change considerably between birth and two. They have to. It’s still baffling to me just how much difference there is. I know that the shocked sensation I felt was only due to having been with Painter for two years, and his growth and development have been somewhat analog to me. Things slowly change, day by day, and you don’t notice so much until you see an old picture. But it still catches me off guard when I note this:

and then look at this one, taken on his second birthday.

This has occured during the time I’ve had this blog.

Being a father is both incredible and completely mundane at the same time. I love it. It’s like finding a buck laying on the ground, but every time you leave the house. And I get at least another 16 years of it (or until I get outmoded by his more interesting friends, somewhere in the vacinity of junior high). Fuck, I hope this next decade doesn’t go by too fast. I’m digging every minute of this.

Of course it will. And so will I. And so will you.

So for now, I get to hang out with my little man and my wonderful Maisy, most days, and write novels and poetry, and publish and revise and do most of the things I like doing, and I can even feel generally good about it. I’m ugly and broke, but that’s never really hindered me with these things.

I hope I see this the same way in hindsight, much later, and remember what a lucky piece of shit I was.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Un-Wii-sonable Wait

I’ve been trying to locate a Nintendo Wii since November. My wife bought me a copy of the new Legend of Zelda title, for the Wii, with the plan of also securing me a Wii for Christmas. Unfortunately, the near impossibility of securing a Wii in my little town proved too much, and I ended up with the game, but no system on which to play it. Shortly after Christmas, I bought a second game for the system, believing I’d be able to play it after a short while, when stores became able to stock the system more regularly.

After 5 months, still no Wii. The problem with obtaining one in my town can be broken down quite simply, by store. There are only 4 stores locally that sell the product, so if you want a Wii, you have to get it at one of those 4 places, unless you order online. Online poses a problem, as just about everyone who claims to have a Wii for sale will only sell it as part of a ‘package deal’, requiring that you also purchase a handful of other merchandise as well, in order to buy the Nintendo Wii. There are many places to order a Wii online, I’ve discovered, without a ‘package deal’ but these are almost always overseas, and are selling the PAL version (the U.S. version is different), which means I’d forever on have to order my games from Europe or Japan, not buy them here, in my town, as the local games would be incompatible with my system. I am also unwilling to pay a vastly marked-up price to the scalpers on eBay. So, online is out, for now.
No Wii for you, young man.
Why don’t I have a Wii? Here is a description of my encounters with the 4 stores locally that sell them:

1. K-Mart: After months of phone calls, I’ve discovered that K-Mart seems to never receive a Wii in their shipments. They hint that they do sell the product, but I have no proof of this and, as far as I know, they haven’t received a Wii ever. While most store personnel won’t give out times of freight arrival, you can figure it out pretty easily. After checking back time and again, they just never seem to get a Wii. They had some at launch (they say), but after that, as far as I know, they’ve never had another. I consider calling or going into K-Mart to look for a Wii is pointless and I’ve about given up on them.

2. WalMart: This is pretty much the only place in town that seems to be receiving Wiis in their freight shipments (or so they tell me). Unfortunately, WalMart employees are very fond of telling me that they have absolutely no foreknowledge of when their freight will come in. They say it’s random, and have no idea what time of the day or night it will arrive, much less the day. Could be 2 in the morning, early Monday, or it could be Thursday around 4 in the afternoon, or any time before, after, or in between... just anytime. They have no idea. So, getting a Wii from Walmart is, for the most part, a random occurrence that you can’t plan or strategize for. You simply have to be the lucky, random person standing in front of the display case on that lucky, random day or night, when they unload their lucky, random freight, which has that lucky, random Wii inside of it. No amount of waiting in line or staking out the area seems to help. I may as well be waiting for one of Willy fucking Wonka’s golden tickets.

Of interest: WalMart does guarantee you a Wii online. Hearing this, I went to check it out. It was, of course, a ‘package deal’. They’ll guarantee you a Wii and hand it over, if you buy a certain number of other pre-selected items from a check-boxed list. I think you have to buy seven items, and they’re all quite spendy. The cheapest you can get away with this is for $628. Considering that’s nearly 3 times what the Wii costs (and the cost of the Wii is a major selling point), that’s a pretty disgusting business practice. It’s also a hell of a lot more than I have to spend. I kind of want to just buy the product at its advertised price with the money that’s been sitting in my pocket for 5 fucking months.

3. Sam Goody: After dozens of phone calls over the last two months, several stops into the store to speak with employees and whonot, I was finally told by a manager yesterday that their Sam Goody store hasn’t received a single Wii since launch. That was 5 months ago. In 5 months, they haven’t received one. Not one. Is my small town too insignificant for the heads of these companies to send a couple of Wiis? Apparently so.

4. Fred Meyer: Many of my friends managed to get Wiis in the last few months, so the question has to be asked, how did they do it? Where did they go to buy a Wii? Fred Meyer, for most of them. Apparently, Fred Meyer was getting Wiis in somewhat regularly after the November launch. That’s where everyone seems to have gotten their Wiis. When I heard this, I was stoked. Perhaps I’d get one soon! No. Perhaps not. In February, I began staking out Fred Meyer, believing that the launch/Christmas craze had died down and I wouldn’t have to wait outside of a store for a day-and-a-half to buy a Wii. I figured things would be more relaxed now. Well, ‘relaxed’ is one word for it. I went to Fred Meyer for my first 3-hour sitting session in the store, waiting on the next freight shipment (I know when the electronics freight arrives at Fred Meyer, and so am always there when it arrives, twice a week) at the start of February. It is now half-way through March and they haven’t received a single Wii since I first started showing up for their freight arrivals. That’s nearly 7 weeks of freight arrivals I’ve sat in the store waiting on, and still nothing. Over and over and over again. In what way can you say you sell a product if you never have it? I pose that same question to K-Mart and Sam Goody. If 5 months go by without you being able to supply a product... guess what? You don’t have it. You don’t sell it. You haven’t been able to carry it. Stop advertising that you’ve got the product, because you don’t. You’re lying to get my business, hoping I’ll come in and buy a bunch of other shit.

Today, I went down to Fred Meyer for the shipment (I’ve got it down to a science now, and don’t have to wait long at all), and was informed by an employee that their regional office sent a letter stating they ‘probably’ wouldn’t be getting a Wii for at least the next several weeks. That would make it, if ‘several’ means 3, about 2.5 months that I’ve been waiting for a product I can’t get. The sad thing is that no one else is there. I’m the only guy waiting for a Wii at Fred Meyer. It’s just me, by myself, patiently waiting time and time again. So, if one comes in, it’s mine. I’ll get the Wii. I don’t have to beat anyone else to it because the line starts and ends with myself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter that I’m the only one waiting for a Wii, because it never shows up.

What pisses me off most is how many ‘package deals’ online you can find. They’re all over the place. Think about it: a ‘package deal’ admits that the company offering it does, in fact, have a supply of Wiis to sell. They just want to make more money off of you (probably trying to recoup the losses they’re seeing in the PS3). What irritates me is that these stores are taking many of the Wiis they get and setting them aside for their money-making schemes and package deals and whatnot, instead of selling them to the people that want to buy them. So, one of the major reasons I can’t get a Wii yet is because certain bottom-liners want to cash in on the lack of stock, by cranking up the price. This is illegal, of course, as the price of Wii’s are somewhat fixed, so they arrange these ‘package deals’ instead. Best Buy does it. Wal-Mart does it. Toys R’ Us does it. Look online... everyone’s doing it.

So I have games at my house I can’t play, and I already ditched my old system. With thumbs this anxious and unappeased, it looks like I’ll simply have to twiddle them for a few more months until Nintendo stocks the United States, and the stores therein stock their urban counterparts, and then, by trickle-down availability, the stores in my small town will finally get a couple of Wiis, hopefully one of which I’ll manage to buy.

Also, eBay needs to fuck off. Scalping is illegal in real life. Why is it tolerated online? Probably for the same reason email scams are tolerated online. Nobody wants to fuck with it until something jabs at them, personally.

Either way, this wait for a system is un-Wii-sonable and disheartening. You don’t realize how inconsequential big business thinks your small town is until demand for something kicks up. When that happens, you start to get it: Your yokel-cash isn’t as good as metro-credit, and you’re just going to have to deal with it.

I should say that my take on this is subjective. I haven’t really done any research on whether the larger, metropolitan areas are having such a Wii drought. It might be interesting to call the Portland or Seattle Sam Goody and Fred Meyer stores and inquire as to the last time they got a Wii in their shipments. Something tells me it wouldn’t amount to months.

UPDATE 4-11-07: Though I was told by Fred Meyer that they wouldn't be getting any Wii systems in for at least the next several weeks, it seems they got three of them in yesterday, and promptly sold them. They tell me not to come in for a few weeks, at least, and so I stopped going in. Then, when I'm just about to reinitiate my shipment-waiting at the store, I find out they actually got a few and sold them when I wasn't there. Now I'm pissed. I suppose I should have been rigid, and resumed my active wait a week sooner than they told me. To their credit, they did try to call me and tell me they got three Wiis in, because the store personnel I've encountered thus far at Fred Meyer have been very nice to me. Unfortunately, my baby boy broke the phone a week ago and so I've been having to use my cellphone solely. I didn't get the call. I didn't get a Wii. I really hope those three Wiis weren't the only shipment they're getting for the next two months, like last time. I'll be even more pissed if I go down there and have to wait another nine weeks because I missed the one damn shipment when the product arrived.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and the Clerically Ill (Ongoing) Part 6

The Good:
Matt DiGangi and Editors @ Thieves Jargon

An interesting email, part preformatted response, part additional talk about my work. Basically, they're passing on my submission, but said they all came to the consensus that I'm interesting to read and they’d like to read more in the near future. Of note is that this was probably the most elegant and well-written rejection I've ever received. They know sound at this publication. I comes across clearly.

The Bad:
Nancy DeCamillis @ Sculptural Pursuits

I received an email from the editor stating they had received my poems, but that they wouldn’t be considering my submission because they thought the poems good, and would rather me resubmit them for their about-to-end contest. This contest was scheduled to be decided at the end of the week. Oh, I'm sure they would have preferred that. It costs $35 bucks to submit to their contest. I don’t think I need to spell out what a collossal money-grope this is. How does that work, exactly? Thanks for submitting, but we won't read these, because we read them and we'd rather you re-submit them with money? I suppose I’d end up in their magazine next year, if I won. A little couth could go a long ways here. If you’re going to excavate for contest entries, at least have the courtesy to be inobvious about it. I can smell a product pitch a mile away, and it’s not as if this is a broad demographic we’re hitting up: poetry related to sculpting. What possible big demand could there be for poetry relating to sculpting? It’s like a magazine for rap songs that rap about country songs. It's kind of strange that I even had some sculpture-related poetry to send, but I did, and thought I’d see if they were interested. $35 oily dollars... I’ll pass, thanks.

The Clerically Ill:
Editors @ A Public Space

Preformatted rejection. Nothing of interest at all. The reason this qualifies for ‘Clerically Ill’ is their submission and tracking system. I found their online submission form (and the trend of using them in general) to be pretty cold and atrocious. It's also a hideous way to waste your time, going to the site day after day, entering in your username and password, clicking sign-in, then seeing your submission listed with the word 'received' next to it for several months. That's around 90 times I went to their track-your-submission page, believing that I would only know their response if I continued checking the site. In the end, after checking and checking, they finally decided to reject the poems, which was fine, but then they sent me an email to let me know. This was frustrating. Of course, I prefer an email but what possible use does the sign-in-and-track-your-submission page serve if they just send you an email when they’ve decided anyway? It renders the entire check-back process this publication utilizes void. They should ditch the track-your-submission page, as it convinces writers that it’s the only way they’ll know if their work was accepted or not. Submitters might check it day after day after day, only to discover at the end of the long wait that they didn’t need to type in their username and password and wait for the results to load those 90 or so times. They could have skipped it and waited like they would for any other magazine. The track-your-submission page has to go. It’s one more straw on a lively back.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Loser (Ongoing) Part 3: The New Kid

Well, I did it. In an earlier post [The Loser (Ongoing) Part 2: License to Drive], I mentioned I would eventually compile another list for my THE LOSER line of posts, and one on the schools I had attended in my lifetime. This proved more difficult than I initially thought. I discovered when trying to create the list that most of the schools I attended were nameless in my memory. I could only rummage vague scenarios that took place with certain schools, and a few sharpened details only for each. My memory is highly architectural. While I can't remember the name of a school, or who my teacher was (or even their gender, for that matter), or any students or things I may have learned, I remember very well the layout of the schools. I can draw any of them to what I'm certain are accurate degrees, and I even remember the layout of the playgrounds, where the school was located in regards to surrounding streets and other buildings, hills, but in some cases, I have no idea in what city I was even in. My memory of these schools is like a composite of Google Maps, wherein I can remember exacting details about the school, but nothing in regards to which school it was, or what the hell I did there, and who with.
There is also the possibility that the order in which I went to these schools is warped. I know some of them I only went to for less than 2 months. For instance, in 4th grade, I did go to all of those schools, but in what order only makes a vague sort of sense to me. My attention during this timespan was focused on anything but school. I hated school by this point in my life. It was for other kids, ones that understood what the teacher said and had friends to jump around with, not ones like me, who was perpetually confused and spent most of my time trying to stay away from everyone I knew I'd be leaving behind in a matter of weeks (when you're that young, and you know you're leaving behind a bunch of people you've never really met or known, they cease to exist the minute you get in the U-haul and drive off, so getting to know them or paying any sort of attention to what they say is pointless and tiring, as well as damaging).

I managed to find details on most of them that I can state with certainty. There were a few sparse memories that I had to question, because they simply didn't fit with where I was when the memory supposedly takes place. For instance, I remember finding dirty pictures in my teacher's desk in 6th grade, in Olalla, but that memory has a female teacher, and I know for a fact that the teacher in that memory was my 4th grade teacher, not 6th. I do know I found dirty pictures in my teacher's desk in one of those grades, but I can't be certain which. I still think it was 6th grade. Anyway, I've had to discount memories in which things don't make sense, or in which I may have combined several unrelated memories into one.

The other problem was with a couple of instances in which I don't remember a school at all, but logic would dictate there was one. At the end of 4th grade, I have no idea what I was doing. I know I wasn't going to any of the other school mentioned in this list, but I couldn't have gone on to 5th grade without finishing 4th, so obviously, I attended a school somewhere. In this instance, I do remember leaving the interstate each day to go to school, but I don't remember anything about this save the act of expecting school and leaving the interstate each day. I can't clarify these things without a ton of research, which I don't want to do. I know what you're thinking: Why don't I ask my parents? Certainly they'd know, right? Well, my mother left when I was eleven, for good, and my father died last year. My stepmother's knowledge of the schools I went to starts halfway through 5th grade. My little brother remembers some of it, but he was several grades behind me and was too young to remember most of it.

As stated, I've compiled the list, for better or worse, and here it is in all of its dysfunctional wonder. I numbered the schools, and added small paragraphs outlining specific memories I have in that time, usually relating to that school. In entries where I couldn't remember the name of the school, I've simply stated "No Memory of Name". Enjoy your stay in my educational experience, and while you're there, have a fun time kicking your eyes around in my childhood. I suggest a stiff drink, as you go. After writing this and rummaging through these memories, I certainly needed one.


1. The Little Red Schoolhouse - Petaluma, California: My wonderful introduction to the world of education and instructor-based learning. Activities involved crafts, bead art, bean art, the recurrent secret society of toy thieves, and a cursory introduction to graham cracker consumption. I learned to count to ten in spanish, discovered a preference for a pretty classmate that wore a shell necklace each day. She generally considered me funny and lively.
Memory: I owned a Speak N' Spell, my favorite toy by far, and one day an instructor at this school saw it and took it from me, stating that it belonged to the school and I couldn't take it home. I protested vehemently that it was my own toy, and that I'd brought it with me that day. The instructor made the basic accusation of 'liar', and proceeded to use the opportunity to begin a long-winded learning lesson on lying, and why it was something only naughty little boys did. In the end, it took my mother's arrival (she was angry from having received no tips that night at the steakhouse in which she worked) to get the Speak N' Spell back from the sinister clutches of the academic establishment.
Memory: My largest memory of this school is also the most confounding. Another young boy ushered me out into the parking lot one day, and brought me to the driver's side of a car. Sitting in the driver's seat was a fat woman wearing thick glasses, asleep in the parked car. He opened the door, undid the button and zipper on her pants and pulled back the edges to reveal her black, hairy crotch. The woman didn't seem to wake up, and the young boy thought this was a marvelous thing to show me. I didn't talk to him after that. In hindsight, the woman was obviously pretending to be asleep. I shudder at whatever shady and bizarre reasoning she must have had for letting young boys expose her in a car outside of a pre-school.

2. No Memory of Name - Petaluma, California: My kindergarten teacher once asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. When she got to me, I told her I wanted to be an architect. Several days later, my dad came home steaming angry from a visitation with her. Apparently, the kindergarten instructor, a hippyish sort of woman, had called my parents in for a conference wherein she accused them of being communists. Her logic was that no child wanted to be an architect, and that my wanting to be an architect was obviously caused by my parents telling me what I had to be when I grew up, and that I had to be an architect. My father was enraged and my mother wanted me pulled out of the school. The teacher was certainly warped and had a very half-baked notion of kids, as well as a rather tilted notion of what communism actually was.
Memory: My mother had a collection of Franklin Mint coins, and some of them were blue. I stole them one day and, walking to school (though it was 1980, I was allowed to walk the half-mile to school by myself each day), I stopped at a convenience store and tried to buy candy with the fake blue coins. The owner let me fill a large bag full of candy, chuckling the entire time. He threw in a toothbrush at the end and sent me on my way. Being the kid with the big bag of candy made me instantly popular, for about three days.

Memory: The boys would get together and play 'Chase the Girls', which involved a pack of girls running all over the playground with boys chasing them. When we caught a girl, we didn't really know what to do, so we just let her go and started chasing again.

Memory: My mother hired a girl from the 6th grade to babysit me a couple of times. This girl would sneak into my room after I fell asleep and wake me up, trying to kiss me and coax me into feeling her up, though I didn't know that's what was happening at the time. I just thought she was weird. Her name was Tamara, same as my original mother's name. I also walked into my classroom one day to see a crowd of students. Making my way in, I found that everyone was pointing and laughing at two boys that were giving each other mouth-to-mouth saying 'wake up!" over and over again. Everyone was laughing and thought this was hilarious. I was a little germophobic back then, so I found this scene I'd walked in on a little troubling, for sanitary reasons.

3. No Memory of Name - Somewhere near Petaluma, California: This new school was somewhere outside of Petaluma, and nearer Santa Rosa. I have many memories of this time though few regarding the school.
Memory: One particular memory was of some trouble that occurred in the restroom. I was in the restroom at school and an older kid pissed on my shoes. I was horrified but he was much bigger and older than me. So, I removed my shoes and sopping wet socks and threw them away in a garbage can, and went back to class barefoot. My teacher noticed my bare feet, of course, and then asked what had happened to my shoes. I told her I didn't have any. She sent me to the principal. He asked the same question. Now, pressed and worried over the trouble I was in, and due to my fascination with some television shows like Miami Vice, wherein all the bad guys were always doing crazy things because of drugs, I told my principal that my dad had sold my shoes for cocaine. My father was not pleased with the concurrent phone call, and the principal took me out and bought me shoes, thinking the real reason I had no shoes was because of poverty.
Memory: Speaking of poverty, I learned how to steal cable television during this time period, which was quite a feat because cable was pretty new. I also spray painted my neighbor's classic car, newly remodeled, with some brown spray paint I found in a field. Before this, my mother had grown angry at this neighbor because he invited me into his house and gave me ice cream that turned out to have a lot of rum in it and she smelled it on my breath.
Note: Buckle in. This is where things start happening.
1st Grade
4. No Memory of Name - San Jose, California: The shit had hit the fan. My parents, always fighting, had separated. I don't know where my mom went, but my dad stayed and took care of us. After a while, we were sent to our mother's mother, somewhere in San Jose. This was an odd arrangment because this grandmother would not tell me where my mother was. Months went by and she still wouldn't tell me. I only wanted my parents back. In the interim, I went to a school near an old Victorian house that I lived in with my grandmother and my little brother. My grandmother was roommates with an ancient, mad woman (who actually owned the house and was letting us stay there) who had mental problems, or advanced senility. Either way, the old woman hated us, and my grandmother wasn't so fun to be around either. I remember nothing about the school except that it was surrounded by a cyclone fence and my grandmother would only walk me so far on the way to school, and then make me climb over the fence, because she didn't want to walk the extra block necessary to reach the front of the school. I think the playground was pretty large, if I remember right.

5. No Memory of Name - Somewhere else in San Jose: We moved quickly, into a different living arrangement in San Jose, but what seemed a million miles from the first place.
Memory: I was still in 1st grade, and I remember Hot Wheels cars were prevalent at the school, and the teacher had a tarantula in a terrarium. I remember one day I though there were two spiders in the terrarium, but it turns out the tarantula had shed it's skin. I discovered at this point that my grandmother had an addiction to McDonalds, and mostly spent her time talking about Avon, which she delivered in the area with the quick secrecy of a drug-dealer.
6. No Memory of School Whatsoever - Mystery City, probably California: Throughout my adulthood, I've tried to logic out where this time of my life had me living. The grandmother who we'd been sent to live with moved us from San Jose to some other place. It was a city, I know that, and we lived in a hotel room somewhere around the 7th floor. There were a lot of old people in the hotel. I remember little but the cat and Avon. I know I went to school at the time, because my grandmother would wake me early to get ready, but I don't remember anything about the school. My grandmother, in line with her oft-quoted statement 'Children are to be seen and not heard', was very uninformative. We weren't told where our mother was, what had happened to our father, or where we were. This hotel we lived in may as well have been on Mars. I still, to this day, don't know where it was, except that it was in California, and was somewhere within 10 hours drive from San Jose, though I don't know which direction. It was in this hotel room that my fantasies of my father coming to rescue us wilted into futility. In the end, his mother came and visited us for a weekend, but we still had to live with the Avon loving, shut-your-mouth grandmother in the hotel.

Summer Occurred. We moved again. I had finished the 1st grade.

2nd Grade

6. No Memory of Name - Somewhere in San Rafael, California: My grandmother moved us again, into another hotel room in another city, but this time she told us where we were. San Rafael, California. I remember beginning second grade with a lot of purple school supplies, a discount benefit of the Avon saturation my grandmother had unleashed on us. The schoolroom had weird partitions that could be removed to turn a large room into two smaller rooms. The school was crowded. Logical, I was there less than two months.

7. No Memory of Name - Outside Ft. Benning, Georgia: My mother contacted us. Several days before, the grandmother explained where our mother had been, and that we were going to travel on a plane to go and see her. My mother had joined the ARMY, it turned out, and had been in basic training, then got stationed in Georgia. She sent some money and my grandmother flew the three of us to meet our mother in Georgia. To my surprise, my father was there as well, having patched things up with my mother. I had my parents back, though the grandmother moved in with us as well.
Memory: We lived in this small and shitty trailer park on the edge of a canyon that looked like death. There was even a cemetary at the bottom of it. I stole some cable channels and these kept the grandmother distracted enough to keep away from me. This was the first school I attended where whites were the minority. I got my ass beat constantly.
Memory: One of the black kids in my second grade class claimed he was psychic, and would often demonstrate odd tricks of this. The teacher would play 'around the world' with flashcards. It worked like this: She'd have two kids stand up. Then she'd flip over two flashcards, each with a number on them. The first of the two students to yell out the sum of the two numbers won, and then she went on to the next two students. It went around the classroom each day. The psychic kid would stand when it was his turn, and he'd turn around backward so he couldn't see the cards. The teacher would flip the cards up and he'd yell out the answer without seeing the cards. He always beat the other kid with an answer, and he right more than half of the time. One particular day, when he was wrong, he ran over to the door and bashed his head against the vertical, chickenwire-glass viewport in it. His parents took him away and he didn't come back for weeks.
Memory: I was there 6 months. I got beat up a lot. I learned several things. One, that teachers favor kids that can read exceptionally well, which I'd been doing well since teaching myself how to read when three and four. Two, stay away from water moccasins (very poisonous snakes that nearly had me in a lake, one evening). Three, getting kicked in the mouth while kids crowd around you yelling 'cracker trash' and 'dirty white' is no good.

8. No Memory of Name - Tumwater, Washington: My mother was relocated to Ft. Lewis, in Washington. No memories of school, but I know it was near a bulk warehouse grocery and there were electric fences on the way to the school. I remember the fences because they nearly knocked me out one afternoon when the grandmother dared me to grab the wire. I came to and thought she'd kicked my legs out from under me. I swore. I met a Laotian kid named Dongchi, who puked in the dirt one day and got mad at me for telling his mom. Again, I was a bit germophobic.

Summer occured and my mother and father split up again. With our mother and grandmother, we relocated to Federal Way, Washington. I had finished 2nd grade.

3rd Grade

9. No Memory of Name - Federal Way, Washington: A round school. Completely round. You could walk in one direction in the hall and eventualy, come right back to where you started from. I loved this. I began reading books by William Sleater. Lots of them. I liked this school somewhat.

Memory: There was a Korean kid who caught a bee one day, and holding it by the wings, threatened to throw it on anyone he didn't like, which apparently was everyone.

Memory: The principal got on the intercom one day and told us all to stay away from the far fence, and that a man had been arrested. Later in the day, our teacher gave us a long explanation of why we shouldn't talk to strangers, especially if they come near the school and try to get you to climb over a fence to hang out with them in the woods.

Memory: I had this longstanding fantasy of building a gigantic stage on the grass near the street, and enthralling the entire student body with my flawless cover of Michael Jackson songs. I'd have lights and pyrotechnics... the works. This never occurred, of course, and I lost interest in Michael Jackson pretty quickly after I discovered I liked Madonna, instead. Apparently, I couldn't let myself like more than one singer at a time. I suppose I had rules I kept up.

10. No Memory of Name - Tacoma, Washington: On a hill. Large playground. Tetherball.

Memory: I have only a single memory of this school, involving a mishap on Valentine's Day. I was a new kid (I was always a 'new kid', at every school, multiple times every year. I was the 'new kid' for about a decade), and I started school here just before Valentine's day. All the kids, including myself, made little construction-paper receptacles that we were to hang on the wall, so that valentines could be dropped into them from our classmates. I made mine as interesting as I could, so that the kids would think I was cool or something. I got sick shortly thereafter, for several days. I had been given a list of my classmate's names, and so took the opportunity of being sick at home to make out valentines with all the names from the list. When I came back to school, it was Valentines day. I went around putting the valentines in everyone's paper baskets. There were several girls that I had chosen to give handfuls of candy hearts, instead of the one or two my mother told me was appropriate. At the end of the day, everyone took their receptacles down and went home to count up their valentines and eat the accompanying candies. I stared into my paper basket. It was empty. No valentines. No candy. Nothing. No one liked me, it seemed. I started crying and my teacher felt awful for me. It wasn't until after I started crying that my teacher explained that maybe my name hadn't been on the list, because I was new. I didn't believe her, though it was probably true. She felt so bad that she wrote me a valentine and gave be a bag of candy she kept in her desk.

Summer. I had finished 3rd grade.

4th Grade

11. No Memory of Name - Somewhere between Olympia and Seattle, in Washington: Nintendo came out. My thirst for this was satisfied early on, due to my father having taken a job at Boeing for good money. He bought us the Deluxe Set, and my lack of friends became, with the arrival of that particular 8-bit gift, unimportant to me. We lived near a guy named Mark, who was some sort of cousin to my mother, but who I had never heard of or met. I watched Poltergeist 2 at his apartment once and it scared the shit out of me. I went back and watched it many times. Same with Nightmare on Elm Street. Missing my dad became staple. My parents had worked out a custody deal, finally, and he saw us on sparse weekends, but it never seemed like enough to me. I had begun disliking spending time with my mother. She tended to talk a lot of shit about people, was judgemental, and paranoid about being judged like she, herself did. She wanted my brother and I to follow odd rules of etiquette, wear little getups, but we were poor, white trash, and I certainly wasn't going to make any friends in our shitty neighborhoods dressed in a little suit and spouting off my knowledge of salad forks and saying 'yes maam' to every beckon or statement from my mother.

Memory: I have little memory of the school I attended, but I remember it had two levels, and was built on a kind of hill. Mostly, I remember my Nintendo.

12. Olalla Elementary - Olalla, Washington: For some reason (I still can't remember how this happened), my little brother and I ended up in our dad's custody for a short while. We moved to a strange little community in Washington, with my father and his new wife. There was a new school, for us, as well.

Memory: I had a big, red-headed teacher, really overweight. She wore stretch-pants and was fond of making chalk squeak in a manner that made you want to cover your ears. She was incredibly lax.

Memory: I remember getting picked on heavily by classmates. I had learned, in all of the moves, that the primary components that called attention to you from bullies were size and the close-knittedness of the community. If you went to a small town school, you met small town kids, and they'd pick at you if you weren't like them. If you went to a large school, one more urban, you'd only get picked on if you were smaller than everyone, or had some sort of obnoxious blemish they didn't want to look at. I, myself, was horribly small, and didn't break 100 pounds, or 4 ft 10, until halfway through my freshman year in high school. I was the shortest and skinniest kid in school, wherever I went. I also had the longest hair.

Memory: Once, I was asked to stand next to the merry-go-round at recess, because there was something funny I had to see. I stood there and they spun the merry-go-round, and a boy kicked my feet out from under me while swinging around and, literally, knocked them far from the ground, causing me to land on the back of my head and knocking me unconscious. When I came to, a few moments later (I think), they were all laughing. I took a swing at the kid, but he was almost two feet taller than me, and was over 5 foot. He was sort of a man-child. He had thick black hair on his arms, a unibrow, popeye arms and a muscular build, and a kind of Frankensteinian giant neck and angular head. He just dodged my pathetic swing and laughed harder. A few weeks later, another kid that sat in front of me in class turned around in his seat and hawked snot on my desk. I informed the teacher and she said I should clean it up and that the bully and I needed to deal with the problem amongst ourselves. Though these kids were always larger than me, usually by a wide margin, it paved the way for my ultimate wuss-ness. It happened so many times in so many schools that, after a while, it ceased mattering that they were bigger. When I'd been picked at enough, after a few years of it, a kid could even be smaller than me, and my stress would react the same. I had the flight response down pat. I had no fight response, however. It simply wasn't in me. I liked everyone, even the bullies. They seemed like they'd be fun to hang out with, if they'd just lay off me.

Memory: Going ahead for reading. I read so well that the instructor felt something should be done. The teacher decided that when it was reading time in class, I'd simply leave and go to the 6th grade room and read with them, instead. I think the actual impetus behind this was that I was pissing off the other kids in my 4th grade class because most of them didn't read so well or fast, and couldn't keep up whenever I was picked to read aloud, which was very often (my teacher bored easily and liked giving me the long, boring sections of our reading-aloud time).

Memory: I was approached one afternoon by a girl in an alternate 4th grade class. She stated having a friend that liked me, and that wanted to be my girlfriend. I said sure. She pointed at the girl in question. Wow, my girlfriend was really cute. I wrote her a love note at the end of the day and had the friend give it to her. That night, after pressuring my father for back-owed allowance, I was given 5 bucks, and blew it all on penny candy. Literally, 500 pieces of candy. I put it in a bag, drew pictures on the outside, wrote a love note and attached it, and took it to school the next day. I gave the bag to the friend to give to my girlfriend, who I learned was named Danielle. This seemed wonderful to the friend, and later, I received many smiles from my girlfriend across the recess yard. We still hadn't met or spoken. We were too embarrassed. That afternoon, the friend approached me again and said Danielle wanted to break up. I shrugged, a little put out by this. I didn't really know her, so in the end, could only consent. While waiting for the bus, I saw Danielle, my now ex-girlfriend crying in a line to get on her bus. Her friend came over to me again and said I was a big jerk. I didn't understand. The friend explained that Danielle breaking up with me had only been a test, to see if I would fight to stay with her, and that I had failed the test, and was a big jerk. I apologized, horribly confused, but then my anger rose a bit so I told her that she and her friend Danielle could keep the candy and fuck off.

13. No Memory of Name - Ft. Lewis Military Base: We ended up with our mother again. I believe she pulled some sort of legal action that really enraged my father. Oddly, when we moved back in with our mother, she stated having to go away for a short while, and immediately sent us to live with a black family she knew, in or very near Ft. Lewis Military Base. She enrolled us in school there and disappeared for many weeks. I had a pretty staunch case of xenophobia over living with the black family, mainly due to my last interraction with black people, which had been in Georgia, and involved getting beaten up more times than I can remember. The family turned out to be great, though. The dad was pretty strict, very different from my dad. The mom was really warm and soft-spoken, very different from my mother. They had an Atari, which was a step down from my Nintendo, which I hadn't been able to bring or set up. They had a dubbed copy of Nightmare on Elm Street but absolutely refused to let me watch it, even after I explained I'd seen it a dozen times. My xenophobia about black people started up again, however, when I went to my first day at the new school, on the military base. White was the minority again, and everyone sure liked to make sure you knew it. Not so many beatings as before, but a shitload of bully behavior. After all the moving around, however, I had become expert in talking someone down out of a fight when they wanted to throw one on me. It was difficult picking a fight with me. My mother returned shortly, and we moved into a tiny apartment, where she wasn't all that present. She had resumed dating openly, and was busy with other things my brother and I were never really kept in the loop on.

Memory: Different schools go through different crazes, and at this school, MARBLES WERE ALL. Everyone collected marbles. Steelies, Hazels, Chromies, Antique-ies... I must have owned a hundred pounds of various marbles by the time I left this school. I remember going to school with a purple crown royal bag full of my best marbles one day, to play the game and win some more. I'd gotten good at it with a couple of the other kids. When my crown royal bag came out, however, I was only mobbed that day and had my shit ruined. Four black kids had shoved up on me, pummeled me to the ground and taken my marbles while two of them kicked me around. Lame. I tried hard to keep my father's message in my head: "People are people. Don't be racist." But this portion of my life contained a poisonous difficulty: It was becoming a trial trying to avoid being racist when I was always getting beat up by kids of another race, most of which like to use the phrase 'white trash' or just plain 'whitey' while they did it, which was pretty fucking racist. The two kids from the black family I had stayed with for a short while saw a lot of these beatings, and they felt pretty bad for me, but could do nothing. They were geeky kids, I was a real outsider, and small, and the bullies were none of these things. The bullies were in charge.

It should be noted I met some nice kids at this school, but they kept a distance from me after seeing what the other kids thought of me.

Memory: My teacher kept up the process my last teacher had spawned, which was to send me to the 6th grade room for reading. Other than reading, I had fallen drastically behind the other students. The reason was simple: I'd moved around so much that I no longer cared about much of anything. I was the epidomy of outsider. I didn't fit at all, anywhere, and just when I'd start to meet someone that I liked in a school, we'd just move and it'd be back to square one again. My life had become square one. There was a secondary reason behind my having stopped doing any work in class: Just as schools change in their recreational crazes from one to the next (one is into hot wheels while another has a marble craze, etc...), different schools have crazes in their curriculum, as well. I'd be learning subtraction at one school, and the first few cursive lower-case letters, and then I'd have to move to a new school. The new school would be doing division, introducing fractions, and be done with cursive entirely, now starting Danelian writing. So I started out behind. Very behind.

None of these schools seemed all that interested in giving me a tutor, and none of the other kids liked me much, and my parents were simply unavailable for homework analysis. Most teachers expected me to not only make up half a year's back work, hundreds of worksheets and tests, but to keep current on what the teacher was teaching at the moment, as well. With something like mathematics, this is impossible. You can't be expected to work equations that contain variables and fractions if you don't yet know your multiplication tables, or how to divide. You'll have to learn those things first. I was expected to learn this on my own, and do the work based on it at the same time. I couldn't, and didn't.

Most of my teachers saw me as that all-too-common lost cause. Poor trash with irresponsible parents, or lazy, and teaching me anything was more of a trial than their wage needed. In most of these schools, I remember it being a source of contention that my records had yet to arrive from the last school. There were times when I jumped from one school to the next, to the next, without my school records catching up to me fast enough. The few teachers that did try to help me catch up grew frustrated quickly: "Okay, now just divide the bottom number into the top number. What do you mean, you don't know how to divide? How many times does 5 go into 25... you don't know? What's 5 times 5 then. You don't know that either? What's 1 times 1, then. Still nothing? [sigh] Let's move on to history then. Who were the first ten presidents? You don't know? Okay, just who was the first one? You still don't know? GEORGE WASHINGTON. It was Washington. He's one of our most important presidents. How could you not know that? Who's our president now, currently? You still don't know?! It's REAGAN! How can you not know that? It's all over the TV!" So I stopped paying attention in class altogether. I was already in the hole, learning-wise, and getting out was a mysterious and improbable venture.

Memory: I remember especially the night this new teacher called my mother to inquire about 'Special Testing'. My mom was vehemently against this, feeling that there was no reason to prove or disprove that I had a learning disability, or worse. After some nagging and talks of responsibility, the teacher convinced my mom to let me undergo 'Special Testing'. They brought me into a building somewhere near the military base. There were two 'technicians' that asked me a lot of questions, then had me do some tests on paper. My mother learned, at the end of this long and tedious day, that her son had a high intelligence quotient, and the reading level of a college graduate. How could this be? Why hadn't I been getting good grades? Why did I not know the material when it seemed obvious I could, easily? My mother decided it was because I was lazy, not because I had been systematically removed so far from my element that I no longer had one, or a steady home, or friends, or regularised parents.

When people asked me where I was from (this happened often because I was always the new kid in class), I didn't know how to respond. Where exactly WAS I from? The last place I'd lived for six months? From California? From Georgia? From Washington? Who knew? I didn't. I was just lazy and screwing off in class, apparently. So, my teacher advised my mother to send me to a special school each day, for gifted kids. I remember the teacher saying it wasn't too long a drive each day to get there. My mother vehemently refused this, and was very angry at the mention of it. She didn't want me singled out, she said. She wanted me to be a normal boy, finally. Going to a 'gifted' school, to her, was the same as going to a 'retard school'.

When my mother denied my going to the special school, the teacher took the next logical course of action, which was to tell my mother I'd need to be held back a year and repeat the 4th grade, at the end of the year. My mother exploded and argued. In the end, her constant bickering and volatile behavior got the school to keep their notes off my record, and to not advise the next school to hold me back. So, I'd be pushed forward, and not remain in 4th grade another year. She was not so successful with my little brother, who was also scheduled to be held back a year, in the 1st grade. He ended up having to repeat it. Either way, we were in different schools by the end of the year, anyway.

14. Garfield Elementary School - Olympia Washington: I took up the violin, which was of interest to me. After several weeks, my mother had it taken back to the shop we'd rented it from. She said it was the money, but I'm pretty sure she thought I just wasn't getting good at it fast enough. Also, my father was a musician, which she didn't like anymore.

Memory: There was a kid that could do backflips off the playground platforms and I thought this was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. I benchmarked the moment in my mind. To this day, it's still one of the clearest memories I have of growing up. That huge backflip. It paved the way for my introduction to gymnastics, which was only a few years away.

Memory: The teacher at Garfield (almost all of my teachers growing up were short women with glasses, I don't know why), disliked me from the start. She sat me in the back of the room and wouldn't ever call on me when I raised my hand. I was trying to keep up with the curriculum, not wanting to be held back (which, despite the last schools concedance, was still in the air because I was in a new school). This teacher got annoyed with me when it came time to read aloud, and rarely let me. I think she thought I was unbalanced and odd. She definitely thought I was the product of horrible parenting and treated me as such. Then, it happened. The disciplinary action she devised to help me move forward: No lunch until I was caught up. Though I was poor, and had free 'hot lunch' on the state, I wasn't allowed to eat it. She would walk with me down to the cafeteria, pick up my lunch with me, and then promptly walk me back to the classroom. The other kids ate in the cafeteria, then went out to lunch recess, which was the largest recess and a needed escape from the classroom.

The teacher would sit me at my desk in the back of the room, the only student in the room, and set my lunch several desks away near the window (my theory on this is that the breeze could blow the smell of my food to me, making me want it more). She would then give me five worksheets and I couldn't eat my lunch or go outside until I finished them. Because these were current, from the year, they were more advanced than where I'd been, again. These were quizzes asking me to name all 50 states, the first 30 presidents, label all the european countries... I didn't know the material, and these were just quizzes, not explanatory texts. So I was doomed to take tests covering things I did not know, fulfilling worksheets and papers, all of which I failed at, miserably, and I didn't get to eat my lunch for weeks, or go outside with the other kids. Many times I started crying. I was miserable and felt like I was in prison. The teacher treated me like I was a horrible young man that caused trouble. I think she thought I was failing the grade, and all the worksheets and quizzes on purpose, because I thought I was better or something. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I was beginning to think I was complete shit. And now, I was hungry, as well.

Of course, after several weeks of this, though I absolutely dreaded sicking my mother on the situation, I finally relented and told my mother. It was what I knew to expect: Doberman off it's chain tearing up someone's leg. My mother actually called her a cunt and threatened to beat the shit out of her. She showed up in the classroom wearing her military battle fatigues and combat boots, her hair pulled so tight her eyes watered. She meant business. Curt, angry, piss-on-your-grave business. And then she yanked me out of school again.

15. No Memory of Name - Logical somewhere near Olympia, Washington: I have no idea where I went to school after this, for the remainder of 4th grade, which would have been for a few months. I know it had to be somwhere near Olympia, and that we lived in an apartment complex just off of Black Lake Boulevard, on a hill above a Safeway, which later became a Barnes and Noble. I had to have gone to school or I wouldn't have passed 4th grade. I can only assume the remainder of this school year passed without incident, as did I.

Summer came, and another custody switch. I had finished 4th grade, apparently.

5th Grade:

16. Olalla Elementary School (again) - Olalla Washington: I went to this school for half a year while living with my dad and Bonnie, his wife and quickly, more of a motherly figure for me. I identified with her much more than my actual mother. She cooked. She talked to us. If I got a smudge of dirt on my pants from playing outside, she didn't flip out and persecute us for being bad. She had no real interest in corralling my brother and I into strict modes of behaviour. She had raised 5 other kids and knew boys were boys. 5th Grade started out tough, because the curriculum had advanced another notch, and I hadn't. But I caught on somewhat and had an instructor that was pretty intrigued with me, so took the time to explain things to me more. After a month, I had slowly wrapped my head around fractions, powers, and began checking books out of the library.

This teacher was fond of asking me what I thought about current events, and always seemed to get a chuckle out of my responses. I still had no friends, but the bully behavior of the other students had subsided mostly, likely because I'd gone to this school before, with these same students the year before.

Memory: There was a swimming trip to a local pool and I had forgotten to get a parental signature allowing me to go. The Friday came and everyone boarded a bus to go swimming, and I had to stay behind. Unfortunately, bad planning and the suddenness of discovering I couldn't go culminated into an odd situation. My teacher left with the students to go swimming, and I simply sat in the classroom all day by myself. No one around. I suppose I could have gone to another classroom and hung out, but I didn't. I went through everyone's desk instead. It was righteous interesting the things I found in those desks. After awhile, I grew bored and went to the principal's office, intent on calling Bonnie to come an pick me up.

I was bored. The principal thought I was just some kid from a class trying to skip out of school. I tried to explain but he kept cutting me off. He told me to go back to class. Eventually, I did. At the end of the day, my class returned and all were excited and chatty about having gone swimming. I was a little depressed about it, but then it was time to go home, so I was pleased. I went outside. My actual mother showed up while I was waiting for the bus, which was late, to go home. She laid on the tears and hugged me and loved me and all that. She said she missed me and that I was her baby boy and all that, too. My brother saw her and ran over. There was big hugging and the whole mess. Then we got in her car for what I thought was the weekend. It turned out to be a full-scale kidnapping that infuriated my father and Bonnie.

Not wanting to involve the authorities again, and trying to maintain his life, my father finally let it slide, knowing that things would iron out somehow. That's my theory, at least.

17. No Memory of Name - Between Olympia and Tacoma, Washington: I don't know what school I went to, but it was somewhere between Olympia and Tacoma and off the main interstate a few miles. I'd been to so many schools at this point, I didn't even pay attention to the name of my teacher, much less any other students or the name of the school. I had done well in the last school, catching up to some extent, but once we shifted to yet another school, my framework simply collapsed and I was back to square one again. I was tired and did no homework. I didn't do anything in class. I just read when asked and kept to myself. I did continue reading the William Sleater books. Interstellar Pig and Singularity mesmerized me somewhat. I also read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, and hooked myself on him. Miraculously, I passed this grade, barely (maybe my mother spoke out again... who knows?), but though I moved ahead, again, the hole was only deepening, and I would have to pay for it sooner or later.

Summer. 5th grade completed.

When the school year began, I went to the same school I finished 5th grade in, for a very short time in 6th grade. Again, I don't remember it at all. I have vague memories of a latino man sitting down with me in a large, large classroom to explain something, but I don't remember what or when, or even where. What I do remember is waking my mother up one night upset, and when we sat down to talk about my 'nightmare', I admitted I hadn't had one, and that the real problem was our living situation. I asked my dad's custody that night, finally and ultimately. My mother lectured me about what that actually meant and I agreed with her, to my mother's dismay. I didn't want to live with her anymore. Ever. I said as much and there was some awful emotion that night. It took less than a week to switch parents again, but this time, it was for good.

18. Olalla Elementary - Olalla Washington: My triumphant return to Olalla. In truth, though I attended this school three separate times, I didn't spend more than a full year between the three enrollments. This time was no different than those previous. A few months. The reason for this was my father's decision to relocate us all to Australia, on the other side of the world. He had begun the long process of gaining citizenship and had even begun giving away and selling large belongings, like his new truck. Life began to speed up tremendously. I went to Olalla for a few months, and was enjoying being a 6th grader.

I was, again, trying to pay attention and get my knowledge built up, but was still having trouble. It could have been worse. I knew a couple of kids now, and while they weren't friends at all, they didn't mind if I hovered near them at recess, and every now and then, they'd kick the soccer ball my way so I could kick it back.

Memory: My mother was outraged by my father's decision to move to Australia with us. She feared losing us forever. And my father suspected she would try to interfere in whatever way she could. Bonnie was upset during this time period, because my dad was her husband, but they couldn't seem to ditch his crazy first wife. And for obvious reasons: Kids were involved. Also, various rounds of getting-even, revenge, playing mean tricks... things badly divorced young people do at times. Bonnie was older than my father by quite a margin, and just wanted to relax and start doing the wife and mother thing. I think she was a little freaked out at my brother and I. We were strange kids that acted and reacted in unpredictable ways. I was also fiercely independent at this point, and didn't want much interraction with anyone, mainly because I'd had so little growing up.

I spent most days on a bizarre kind of autopilot, and talked to myself too often to be healthy. My germophobia and anxiety over any sort of confrontation had increased as well, and drastically. One of the answers to the problem of my real mother was struck upon quickly, and was also the answer to the money problem we had in trying to save enough to move to Australia: Leave the area, and move in with my dad's mother in Santa Rosa, where I had once been born. This would solve the money problem, letting us save while we stayed with grandma, and placing a vast distance between my prodding, engaging mother and struggling, easily gotten-at father.

19. Brook Hill Elementary - Santa Rosa, Califorinia: When I enrolled in this school, I was told by my father not to get too comfortable, as we'd be moving in a couple of weeks to Australia. After a week, my frustrated father told me it would be another two weeks. Two weeks later, he was told two weeks more. This went on until nearly the end of the school year, with me telling my classmates I was moving to Australia in two weeks, over and over and over again. Australia became a kind of heaven to me. It would be wonderful. There would be a new start for my father and I, for Bonnie, for my little brother. It was to be the Succre promiseland, yea.

Memory: There was an Iranian family a block away and their son, Nabil, and his older brother used to beat on me righteously. Nabil just didn't like me, I don't know why, and his older brother was a prick. This guy didn't even go to elementary school. He'd just show up to fuck with the younger kids. He used to rally up the first graders and get them to fight one another. He liked to pressure Nabil into taking swings at me, and when I tried to fight back, would shove me around and let Nabil work me over. It was shitty. Seriously, a fight with Nabil would start in this manner: "Hey pussy, what are you doing? You swinging on the swings? How come? Swings are for pussies. You want a problem? I think you do. You're using my swing. Get off. Now you're standing on my bark. Get off my bark." WHAM. I'd back up, my eye stinging from the jab. The older brother laughed and watched.

Memory: I developed this monstrous crush on a girl in my class named Claire. I finally worked up the nerve to tell her, and she was completely insulted and disgusted. Bad news. I felt like shit for weeks. But, at least it was only temporary. We'd be moving to Australia soon.

Memory: I had a teacher that was also moderating a schoolwide spelling bee, and I applied for it. The instructor (and I've never understood why) discouraged me from entering the spelling bee again and again, but finally relented and signed me up. I studied and studied, though the word list they gave me was simple. The toughest word was 'Pneumonia', which wasn't tough at all. It was an easy word they chose to trip someone up because of the 'pn' part. I had dreams of acing the bee, then going on to state, or wherever the next level spelling bee would take place.

In the end, with the entire school staring at me, which made me wish I were dead, I threw the first word, acted confused and shocked, and then got the hell out of there. The word? 'Memorabilia'. I just left out the first 'A' and sealed the deal. I didn't realize when I signed up for the spelling bee that I had a horrifying fear of attention. I thought this would subside if I was doing something I was confident about. I was wrong. It was overwhelming. Had I been chained in the chair, in front of all those students, I would have chewed through my own arm to get out of there. My mode was simple: Just keep moving, just keep going... it's temporary... all I have to do is slide my way through this last, short leg of this school and it'll be over. Australia. Starting over. Clean slate.

Memory: The Australian consulate made their decision finally (I thought it had already been made, and it was just a matter of time): No Australian citizenship. Anticlimax. Sorry. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars. It's too bad you gave away your truck and belongings and uprooted your life to be nearer the consulate, because we're declining. We'll tell you straight: You're too poor. Thanks anyway, and maybe we'll see you on a vacation sometime. Make sure you bring money.

Summer arrived and I had completed elementary school, which was nothing short of a lop-eared miracle.

7th and 8th Grade:

20. Bell Junior High - Golden, Colorado: Two straight years in one school. This was just what I needed to get myself under control and start figuring things out. I was radically undermature and socially obscure when dealing with other kids. I had few positive experiences with school, but now, being in one place for a while might prove beneficial.

Needing to move out of our grandmother's apartment, my father moved us to Golden, Colorado. Even I don't know how he came to this specific location. I imagine he liked the name. Golden, as a small town, turned out to be horrid for me. The worst of the worst, and by leaps and bounds the most violent school I ever attended.

For the first time, I lived in a suburb. Suburban life was acridly volatile, I discovered. Gang culture, via MTV and the news, had infiltrated small towns everywhere. Though my neighborhood was pretty much all white, with moderate incomes and a close-knit vibe, things soured immediately the first time a kid at school claimed to be a Crip. The kids were obsessed with gangs, and especially the specific actions mentioned in Eazy-E songs, which became the main impetus behind most of my neighborhood's motives in criminality. Almost overnight, weight-benches appeared in yards, kids began stealing beer and their parents' Bacardi. Thievery exploded in Golden. And there was trouble for me at every turn. Beatings. Many many beatings. More than I'd ever run into before. And these hurt more, because the kids, as well as myself, were now older. I had turned twelve. I ended up spending the majority of the two years in Golden (the longest I'd ever lived anywhere, by a wide margin), in isolation, trying to keep myself hidden from the notice of the other kids, who had formed banded groups of anger and sought mainly to get into fights. The more people in these fights, the better. But they certainly weren't above jumping you as you walked along the edge of the park and taking something of yours. Shoes, watches, and especially your school things were common things to have stolen from you, often by the force of numerous thieves at once.

It may have only been junior high, but I hated everything about it and especially the other kids. Shit got real weird when I started school in Golden, Colorado. My bike was stolen the first week. I got beat up the third day. My neighbor was an insane shut-in that boarded up his windows so no one could see in. The high school kids rode the bus with the junior high kids, which was an awful predicament. They weren't as violent, but they were much smarter than you, and much, much bigger. Most had little brothers in my school, as well, and delighted in starting fights among the younger kids. The way to do this with the least amount of repurcussion from another older brother, was to focus on someone who didn't have one, and that no one liked much. The new kid. This should have been my name at birth.

Memory: Early on, one of my teachers grew worried at my isolation-prone behavior. I didn't talk. I didn't move much. I was startled so easily and tended to get panicky in a full classroom. My eyes were sunken in (this is the time my insomnia began, and it didn't clear up until my twenties). I had also begun entertaining notions of suicide. Not so seriously at first. But later, it was a running option in my mind. The idea of suicide evaporated from my mind the moment we left Golden, after eigth grade. Anyway, the concerned teacher, in that first term, contacted my father and advised I see a 'counselor'. She didn't mean the school kind that help you think about possible careers for your future. She meant a shrink. My father didn't like this idea, and saw no problems with me. I think he thought I was just a creative kid that liked to be by myself. He asked if I wanted to see a shrink, and I said I didn't, but later changed my mind. I agreed, and every Wednesday, during third period class, I was excused to go and talk to a 'counselor'. She was very concerned with me.

She used tricks to get me to talk, like providing snack foods and sweets, which I did see through easily, but I was there to talk, so I went along. I made her cry at one point, I don't remember how, or what I was talking about. Seeing the 'counselor' didn't help me much. Having spent so much time on my own, in my own head, I was achingly self-aware. I went to see her for the company, mostly. This didn't help me, but it was a nice vacation in the middle of the schoolweek, if for even a half-hour. I would have done as well if they'd let me hang out in the attic for an hour every now and then. Moving around so much and with all the 'new kid' bullying closed me off entirely. I told people what they needed or wanted to hear so they'd go away satisfied, leaving me alone to be me, play my Nintendo, whatever kept me from being bored or in the spotlight with my violent neighborhood.

Of note is that my little brother did well in this town. He had been held back a year, and so was a year older than his classmates, as well as a year larger. The easiest way to deal in Golden was to be the bully, yourself. I didn't listening to my little brother brag about fights he won. I thought it was Golden getting into him, and I hated it. He stopped associating with me much once we hit Golden. I suspect he thought I was strange. He'd have been right.

Summer came and I had finished seventh grade, gearing up for eighth grade.

Memory: I had an English teacher (they called it 'Language Arts' back then) that was quite pleased with me. He was a gigantic human being. Irish, pale-skined, tall, broad, old. His name was O'Hanlon. One day he assigned a poetry assignment. We had to write a poem. I did mine and, a few days later, O'Hanlon announced to the class that he wanted to share an amazing, powerful poem with them. He read aloud and, to my horror, it was mine. It was about a man fascinated with a particular star, who lost most of the things in his life because he wouldn't come down off his roof. Doing so might cause him to lose sight of the star that he couldn't take his eyes off of. Anyway, O'Hanlon had seen enough of me to know not to attribute the poem to me in class, knowing I wouldn't want the attention. He just read it. However, his teacher's aid, when handing back the poem, congratulated me and several of my classmates overheard it. I got socked in the stomach after class, just outside the door. "Nice poem, faggot." the young man said. I denied writing it, but it didn't matter. If it hadn't been the poem, the punch would have been because of my pants, or shirt, or my hair, or large feet.

Memory: My father began having trouble in Golden, as well. His boss was a prong, and my dad started going through jobs quickly. He began collecting more guns, and at one point had to draw a pistol on a game warden so he'd leave us alone and let us go home. My father was beginning to feel trapped in Golden, and he wasn't pleased about it. Neither was I. His beard began falling out, though he was still in his early thirties. My brother developed strange sores on his head, under his hair. I lost weight. My father's theory was that we were too close to the nuclear power plant, Rocky Flats. This is possible, I suppose, but I think heavy waves of stress slamming into us had a lot to do with it.

Memory: Snow snow snow snow snow. I once woke and walked to the bus stop at 28 below zero. Much different than the west coast weather I was used to. When it snowed, the schoolbus pulled up in chains. You didn't get out of school for snow.

Memory: I saw girls getting into fights in Golden, as well. They were the most violent and animalistic fights. There was more blood when girls fought. Girls slammed each other's heads on the ground over and over again. Girls bit and tore out clumps of hair. They screamed names at one another while they fought. Boys didn't do that. Boys just punched and kicked one another, sometimes ended up wrestling on the ground, until somebody won. My parents were pretty oblivious to what was going on with me, and for good reason: I didn't mention it ever.

Memory: A kid in my grade picked a fight with my little brother once, and threatened him with a knife. The next day, my dad told me I had to go kick the kid's ass. Jeff Jackman, the kid in question, was quite literally twice my size. He weight was more than double what I weighed (I came in around 85 lbs), and he was around 5'6" or so, whereas I was around 4'5". Again, I was usually the smallest kid in whatever grade I was in.

So, I tried to bail but Jeff heard about it and the neighborhood kids captured me and dragged me down to the local park, sometimes carrying me, sometimes dragging. There were dozens of them, some in high school. They were taking me to 'The Diamond', which is what they called the baseball diamond in the park. Apparently, the awful situation had escalated without my knowledge, and the fight was to be a huge neighborhood event. We didn't get to The Diamond, however, as Jeff Jackman came down over a hill and charged into the crowd, slamming into me while they still held my arms back. We hit the ground, a circle formed, and I was stuck in it with big Jeff Jackman. I dog-fought this kid for around 15 minutes, dodging his meaty arms and hitting him over and over again. It didn't seem to be doing anything to him at all. I was exhausted after the first few minutes and couldn't breathe well. Jeff was even more tired, so I kept hitting him. Finally, someone's parents must have noticed and called the police, because a cop arrived and drove me home. Jeff lived at the edge of the park, which the kids vouched for, so the cop let him walk home. When the cop car pulled up at my house, no one was home, so he just told me to go inside and cool off. My nerves were shot, and I was exhausted. I fell asleep almost instantly.

The next day, I had a black eye and my shoulders were killing me. At school, Jeff looked fine. But he did stay away from me and my brother after that, at least. A kid named Ben Hult had watched the fight and, shortly thereafter, befriended me to an extent. We weren't close, per se, but he was kind of a popeyed tough kid, and hanging out with him kept most of the bullies and roving bands of other kids off me. Ben was the closest thing to a friend I had ever obtained, and so I tried to hang out with him as much as possible.

Memory: A girl in my Home Economics class, Rachel, asked to be my girlfriend a few months later. I was surprised, but said sure. We started hanging out. She was aggressive and a real tomboy, and was prone to picking me up and tossing me about, which aggravated me. She was my second girlfriend ever. One night, she came home with me on the bus for Halloween, a bag of costume makeup in tow. We went out trick-or-treating in my neighborhood (she lived across town), and kept giving me angry looks. I was confused as to why. The next school day, she dumped me for some guy named Gary, and said she was breaking up with me because I hadn't tried to kiss her on Halloween. I hadn't been aware of the necessity of this, or that it was a requirement of some kind, in her mind. I felt bad and tried to kiss her. She acted disgusted by this and left.

She and Gary called me on the phone a few times after that to tell me how happy they were together. It was odd and juvenile. I told them if they called me again, I'd shoot Gary. Gary hung up and gave me dirty looks for the remainder of my time in Golden, Colorado.

Memory: My father announced that, after I finished 8th grade, we were moving to Coos Bay, Oregon (once again, I have no idea how or why he came to this destination). For the second time in my life, I was actually pleased to hear we were moving (the first being my expectancy with going to Australia). When we finally left, I felt the cliched sensation of a weight being lifted. I swear, the Sun came out when we hit the highway and didn't go down for a week.

Summer, and a complete transfer to Oregon. I was done with junior high.

9th Grade / Freshman year

21. Willammette High School - Eugene, Oregon: When we arrived in Coos Bay, Oregon, in our U-haul, we pulled into a hotel and rented a room. My parents began looking for a place to live while we stayed in the hotel. After six weeks, they gave up and we had to leave Coos Bay behind, opting to travel up the coast more and look for a place to live (and my father to work) in the larger, Eugene, Oregon. We found a place instantly. I was terrified of starting high school, owing to the horrid occurences and daily life I had experienced in Golden, Colorado. It turned out fine, however. Eugene was laid back. No one really cared about fighting one another much, or at least, not where I could see it.

I made a couple of temporary friends (we were moving to Coos Bay as soon as my dad could find a place down there) and started freshman year in high school. There was virtually no bully behavior. Everyone seemed fine. I could pay attention in class, and though I was in the lackey math class, I had a fine time at Willamette High School.

Memory: I affectionately refer to this as 'The Summer of Death'. It occured just before starting my freshman year. First, on the 4th of July, I was struck full force by a speeding rocket that shot down out of the sky, directly into the orbit of my right eye, nearly knocking me unconscious. The rocket was an illegal firework from Wyoming that we had picked up on the way to Oregon from Colorado. It was hefty and had a lot of force behind it. I couldn't see out of the eye for nearly three days, and it was fucked-up looking for almost a week. The impact and heat from the rocket's fiery propellant had burned my eyelashes off and melted my vision into a strange, warped eyesight, as through colorful, badly blown glass. A few weeks later, I was caught in the undertow of the swollen Willamette River and spent about a minute under water, being taken downstream. I snagged my arm on some blackberry brush that the river had swollen over, and was able to pull myself out against the current. My father nearly had a heart attack, having seen it happen and, for nearly a minute, racing down the river's edge in his truck trying to find me. I thought I was dead, for a moment. About a month later, I was struck by a car in a crosswalk and ended up on the hood, up against the windshield. I've written about this in another entry (The Loser 2: License to Drive), so you can view it there.

Memory: To impress a girl who was on the swim team, I went out for the diving team. I had been enrolled in a gymnastics class and really enjoyed it, so thought I'd give diving a try. I could flip any which way, so figured diving would be fun. I was on the team a couple of weeks. The problem was, I didn't swim well at all, and couldn't float. I made a special arrangement with the coach that I would dive, but not do any of the swimming events... just the diving, which I was good at, it turned out. Unfortunately, at our first swim meet, the coach cancelled my diving and signed me up for the 500 meter, which is 20 laps in the pool. I hadn't been able, at that point, to complete 2 laps in a pool without going under. Due to the insane stress of having both teammates and an opposing team, as well as coaches and various crowd members staring at me, I managed enough anxiety-energy to make 7 laps before going under and having to be pulled from the pool. As I climbed from the pool, being pulled by my coach by the wrist, I turned my head and saw the last competitor make it to the end of their 20th lap and get out of the pool, as well. I felt ridiculous, and sick to my stomach. "I told you I only wanted to dive. I can't fucking swim like that." I told my coach. "You'll do better next time." He said. "No I won't. I'm gone." I quit the team right then and went and changed my clothes. The girl I had joined to impress, and who had taken fondly to me while I was on the team, hated me once I quit. She wouldn't even talk to me but to call me a quitter. Sure, I was a quitter, but I know the difference between struggling to achieve a goal and getting an overly-encouraging pity applause after failing miserably.

Memory: I had decided I wanted to be writer by then, but the creative writing classes weren't available to freshmen, so I signed into a journalism class. I was complemented early on by the instructor, who thought I showed a lot of promise. For once, I was in a class where the other students seemed to like me, as well. They all enjoyed when it came time for me to read my articles, and I finally began enjoying a bit of attention. Unfortunately, it went to my head, and my articles began displaying streaks of humor here and there. The class loved this, but the instructor frowned on it. Humor didn't belong in true journalism, I was told, and when it came time to get the prerequisite consent to take the advanced journalism class, the following term, the instructor promptly denied it, saying I wasn't suited for the advanced class. She was probably right, though my junior, senior, and community college years were all spent writing articles for school papers.

Memory: I made it a kind of game to ask women out on dates. My absolute fear of attention had subsided to small extent. I now figured that since no one really liked me much, or had in my schooling career, I may as well do what I wanted. So, I had this list I made. Every time I asked a woman on a date and she refused, I'd add her name to the Rejection List. It hit 24 before we moved again. All rejections. No one was interested at all, and it certainly wasn't for my lack of trying. Girls didn't like me much. They found me humorous, yes, but most of them stated their reason for declining my advances was due to attraction. They didn't find me attractive. There was one girl in particular that voiced this very well. Her words (in a note) were "You're a loser and you're fuckin' ugly! Why would I go out with you? I don't need to date ugly guys. Fuck that." Though her spelling was awful and she was missing most of her punctuation. The note went on, as well.

Memory: I grew over a foot in around 7 months, and finally climbed above 100 lbs. I was almost normal sized. Three weeks before the end of the school year, my dad took me down to Coos Bay, where he and I lived for almost a month alone, in a strange little mobile-home that had been turned into a house, with additions, and I went to another school for 3 weeks. After we'd been there a month, he had a job and Bonnie and my little brother came down to join us. The entire month my father and I spent alone, we ate nothing but breaded chicken patties out of a box from a wholesale grocery outlet, cooked in our only pan. We ate them cubed, sliced, wadded up, between bread, with gravy, however you can possibly prepare prefabricated, generic, precooked junk chicken patties on a budget of about 3 dollars a day.

22. Marshfield High School - Coos Bay, Oregon: I went to this school for three weeks of my freshman year, and then the remainder of my high schooling. As for those first three weeks at the end of freshman year, all I remember is a Home Ec class that emphasised an awful lot of pancake making, so I got to eat pancakes in addition to the horrid chicken patties. I do remember being made fun of by a cute red-head in the mall who was walking about with some friends. The cute one pointed and laughed at my sweat pants, and much later, years later, I ended up dating her, for better or worse. I met a man named Elijah Brubaker, who, over the next few years, became one of my closest friends, and still is. I was in gymnastics outside of school for another four years, pole-valted for the track team my senior year, was a cheerleader (don't ask... okay fine, it was the girls), and made a lot of friends. The awful moving and shitty people seemed to have subsided finally, and I was able to be somewhat normal for once. As normal as I could be under the circumstances. I still had insomnia problems, and later devolped a case of hyperthyroidism, which I was able to cure, but that did mess up my life somewhat for a year or so after high school.

Memory: I had a girlfriend my senior year, who, after going out for two months, broke up with me on Halloween because I kissed her. Due to this and the what happened with my last girlfriend in 8th grade, and their juxtaposition, it is any wonder I've been able to figure out anything about the opposite sex whatsoever.

Memory: I had an instructor forge my name on a scholarship application because he thought I was a talented writer.

Memory: I took two straight years of creative writing, junior and senior years, and had a deal going with a faculty member that I could do this instead of taking English, which is what happened. I didn't take English my last two years of high school.

Memory: I met a ton of people via this school, including the ever-present Elijah Brubaker. I broke through the back yard of this ramshackle, abandoned house above a rotting beach and stole a machete I found on the ground. A few months later, I met Elijah Brubaker, and discovered the house was not abandoned, and that he lived in it. So, my first connection to this man was in stealing his favorite machete. After that, we became good friends and still are.

Memory: Several months before graduating high school, my father again announced we were moving. This time, to Phoenix, Arizona. I adamantly refused. After a month (and a trip to Phoenix that I didn't go on), he changed his mind and decided we'd move to Portland, Oregon. Again, I refused, and when the day came, my family left. I had a few days to figure out where to live. I had no job as yet, and had only just graduated weeks before. With my family gone, and nowhere to live, I asked a favor from a friend of mine, and managed to stay with him and his parents in their house for awhile. One month later, I had a job, my own apartment, a car, and had enrolled full-time at the local CC.

Summer passed in a drunken blur of responsibility and alchohol, and irresponsibility. All were welcome.


23. Southwestern Oregon Community College - Coos Bay, Oregon: I attended because of the forged scholarship, which I won and didn't know about until my name was announced at an assembly. It was small and only lasted a single term, but I managed to get enough financial aid to continue going full time. I dated, had troubles with a writing instructor, and began living on my own for dirt cheap while working full time and schooling full time. Somehow I managed to get drunk constantly and lose my virginity, then write some books and crash some cars. I did this for two years. Then I was done with school and driving. I wrote more books.

There you have it, my jump between 23 different enrollments in 20 different schools. 19 of which were before junior high. If you managed to read all of this and glanced through this terrible window into my bizarre and leap-frogging childhood, and if you have time for one more ominous question... I ask you this:

Am I educated?