A Supposedly Good Poem

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There’s that point
in a poem
where imagery breaks down
and the words don’t even know each other
and even if they did,
even if they introduced themselves
like strangers at a party
and then talked for hours
and got tipsy
and shared stories from their childhood
and then slowly established a friendship through the years
and were best friends
and one of them got married and the other one didn’t
and then they grew apart as they got older
and eventually moved away from one another
and only sent letters once a year in the end,
even then
the poem wouldn’t make any fucking sense.

What’s the Difference?

Communicator Word Processing Typewriter

 

This is what I wrote my first novel on


Being grateful is a test.

 

A few weeks ago, my wife was sent to get a CT scan. The doctor thought she might have an obstruction in her gastrointestinal tract. She was having nausea and pain.

 

Turns out her appendix, which is usually the size of your pinkie, was extremely swollen. They sent us to the hospital. The doctor initially thought the measurements were incorrect, her appendix was so engorged. It had to come out. So my wife had the operation. A scary thing, but happens every day, and in a week she was making a good recovery. Then they called us back in. They found ‘neoplasm’ in the appendix. Neoplasm is a no panic word substitute for cancer. She had a rare form of it. That’s why her appendix was swollen. It was full of mucus produced by the cancer cells.

 

They said it was a low grade cancer, an oxymoron if ever there was one. The good news was that they were 99% certain they had gotten it all. The bad news was the 1% chance they had not. The only way to be certain was to perform a right hemi-colectomy. That’s where they remove the entire right-hand side of your large intestine, along with blood vessels that feed it, and a lot of lymph nodes. Then they staple the large intestine to the small intestine. A much bigger surgery and a much longer recovery time. Also, an increased chance of bad things that can happen. Like the staples not holding and stomach acids leaking into the body. Very bad. Or worse, when they test the lymph nodes they took out, the cancer was present, meaning it was spreading.

 

Things got a little more emotional before this surgery. You start thinking about things you don’t want to think about. A lot.

 

She had the surgery and everything went fine. They tested the lymph nodes and it came back negative. And yes, the road to recovery is looking a lot longer. But we were, and are, very grateful. A lot of people aren’t so lucky.

 

Like so many facing a nasty situation, we prayed and promised and meant it. We’ll change the way we are living. We’ll strive harder. Take time to do the things we never made time to do. We’ll go to church more. Eat right. We won’t sweat the small stuff. And so on. We will, in short, be better at this gift we call life. And like so many other promises, they’re really hard to keep. I was tested, I believe, almost immediately.

 

After the post-surgery goods news of being cancer free, I took the elevator to the ground floor and headed for the car. The path consisted of a short walk past some tables situated outside of the gift store and food shop. Then right into a hallway that stretched a distance to a large atrium. After the large atrium, there was another hallway and then the stairs to the car. As soon as I got off the elevator, I found myself behind a group of people. I followed them slowly past the tables, lost in thought. We took a right into the hallway. We were creeping, and I was in a hurry for some reason I can’t remember. I look up and realize the procession in front of me is one family. A grandmother pushing someone in a wheelchair, a father, a mother, and two small children. They are moving really, really slow. They are also spreading themselves out so that they can effectively take up almost the entire hallway. The mother looks back and sees me behind them. She turns back around and does nothing. Nothing. In fact, she lets the smallest girl veer off far to their left. The girl is walking, head down, playing a tile game of some sort inside her head. It would have been cute in other circumstances, but now they are taking up the entire hallway. And when two people in oncoming traffic have to swerve to miss the small girl, the mother does nothing again. We are still not to the end of the hallway. I’m getting irritated.

 

Then, we finally reach the atrium. I move to the right and immediately speed up, taking long strides to pass. The atrium is about fifty feet across. Big. But about half way across, I realize I’m not going to make it. You see, now that they have hit a wide open space where people can get around them, grandma is doing everything but jogging behind the person in the wheelchair. Much like the same type of people do on wavy county roads. They drive a cautious 45 during the curvy parts where you can’t pass. But when they hit those open spots where passing is allowed, they’re in a fucking dragster. So I realize that I’m not going to make it and I slow down. I’m also aware that I’m racing a grandmother pushing a wheelchair in a hospital. I see how ridiculous, in a matter of seconds, the whole thing has become. I ease off the accelerator and relinquish the road to indifferent mother and grandma juggernaut.

 

But she spots me from the corner of her eye at the last second and looks back. She slows down slightly and says, “Oh, sorry. Did you want to get by?”

 

I smile, say no, and head straight for a bench in the atrium. I sit down, stare at nothing, and count my blessings. I ending up doing good. And kept that up for a couple of days even though, as we all know, when it rains it pours.

 

In no particular order, here are some things that have happened within a week of the surgery.

 

A fender bender. Although the fender wasn’t bent. I was heading across two lanes of traffic to a small median. I scoot across and am waiting for a car to pass. The car pulls past me and into the median to my left, heading across the two lanes of traffic I just crossed. It’s clear now, so I start to move forward, but notice that the guy who was moving to my left is no longer moving. I punch the brakes. I’m right next to the rear of his car. And although my bumper slid over his, leaving a long paint stroke of maroon, and even though my tire was resting on the very backside of his bumper as we both stopped, I had to lean out of my window and ask him if I got him. I wasn’t sure we had actually hit. We did.

 

He gets out and his first words are Oh, great. Thanks a lot.

 

He immediately has his panties in a wad. I say that everybody’s okay and this stuff happens.

 

Yeah, but this same thing happened not a year ago. Guy demolished my bumper. Tried to get me to not call insurance. You do have insurance, don’t you? Accusingly.

 

Yes, I do I say calmly. Do you want to look at it and see if you think we can buff it out?

 

It’s not on me to see if I can fix it.

 

Okay, I’m dealing with a whiny prick.

 

He continues on and for some reason suddenly states, like it’s a threat and not something you would normally do anyway, that if need be we can just call the police.

 

Okay, call them. And why would you not get a police report? He continues to stew and wait for the police, but now he is impatient, as if he wasn’t aware that calling the police would mean he would have to wait until they got there. He asked me, because the median is small, if we should move the cars. I say no, because you aren’t supposed to. I’ve already got my flashers on. I’ve already taken pictures of the paint stroke and two, centimeter chips on his pristine bumper. He goes over and stares at it for the fifth or sixth time and actually says it just gets uglier every time I look at it. Seriously, dude. I’m looking at him and thinking the same thing.

 

The cops arrive and without going into detail here, the funniest thing was his demeanor. He was already in a courtroom somewhere in his sassy little mind, and was talking and behaving as such. The cops take our information and, after the guy’s calmed his nerves a little, I tell him that he can handle this anyway he wants, but that it would only take about $150 to fix it and never know it was there. If they didn’t try to rip us off, I would hand him the cash and we wouldn’t be looking at a possible rate increase. He obviously didn’t have much experience with cars and explained that they charged him $1,200 last time to replace his bumper. Okay, like I said, however you want to handle it.

 

He had asked to exchange insurance info earlier, right after his assumption that I didn’t have insurance, and I had not immediately given it to him then. I was outwardly calm, but inwardly pissed at his whole demeanor. After the cops left, I gave him my contact and insurance info. I ask him if he wanted to write his down for me.

 

Why would you need mine? He asked through narrowed eyes.

 

Even though he had offered to exchange the info earlier. I put my hands up. You’re an idiot, dude. Whatever. I smiled as best I could and told him I was sorry for the trouble. He finally asks me again where the paint shop was I was talking about. Then he tells me it might be a few weeks before he can get around to it. Makes sense. A guy who is so bent out of shape over a bumper scrape that he was about to wet himself in public, and seems to think of the paint as a symbol of shame and embarrassment, who seemed to have an out of body experience at the thought of someone violating his prelude, is sure to not make it a point to cover up a blemish on his ego.

 

I handled this one good, too. Inside I was thinking are you fucking serious, dude. This isn’t even on my radar. This doesn’t matter. You sure as hell don’t matter. And I have my wife. The big picture is good, and you’re not even in it.

 

There’s more.

 

I signed on as a contractor through a company that had me working for another company. The recruiter was nice and the people at the company were nice to work with. But a while back I was approached by another contractor working there. They had given him a four day notice. Wow. Okay. I start asking my recruiter to find out a hard date for my end of contract. It hadn’t been agreed on beforehand, it was just agreed to last three or four months. But now I could feel the end was near. I have a family to support and a need to know when the end is coming. I don’t need it sneaking up on me like it did for this fellow. My recruiter couldn’t get an answer from them.

 

A couple of weeks later, I got a congratulation from the recruiter. They had extended my contract. They were happy with my work. Which was awesome, except that I realized my contract, as far as their records were concerned, had come to an end without me knowing it. Yes, they extended it, but they could have just as easily not extended it, and I would have been taken by surprise like the last guy. I continued on for a couple of more months and then another contractor was gone with a one day notice. I start asking again for a hard completion date. They say they are checking on the budget for next year. It’s a month before Christmas. I’m thinking they might ask me on or at least wait until next year. Nope. Unlike the other guys, I did get a two week warning. And when I asked to extend that for a day to get some vision benefits, they did that with no problem. But there really couldn’t be a more horrible time for my job to end than with my wife less than a week out of surgery and a month before Christmas.

 

And what about tax time? That’s always been a net of sorts in January. But thanks to me not being able to afford a $650 a month payment on both of our student loans, the government, as of last year, began taking out taxes to pay it back. So there’s a $3,000 yearly net gone. Kids, don’t ever take a student loan unless you’re forced to, and even then only take what will get you barely by.

 

A girl attacked my daughter at school for no reason. Really, she did.

 

An uncle died from a type of colon cancer. This was before my wife’s second surgery. So we had that very real possibility of an outcome looming in our peripheral.

 

One of our vehicles is sounding like it may be on its last leg.

 

The other one needs a part that’s close to $200. We can’t drive it until we get it.

 

The car that needs the part was hit by a Jeep. This time it was someone else’s fault. My quarter panel was dented in. But no, I didn’t react like that pecker-wad did when I clipped him. I had my son turn the wheel to make sure the wheel didn’t scrape anything and then we went our separate ways. No drama.

 

My son’s new thyroid medicine was making his problem worse. Both my wife and son have changed their medications as a result.

 

We have no health insurance.

 

During and after my wife’s second surgery, I missed three days of work. So, one of my last paychecks I just got was a fifth of what it would have been.

 

My mom was checked into a hospital back home for what they told her was a heart attack. Then they weren’t sure. Then they kept her in there for three days. Then they sent her home, unsure of her status.

 

I’m in such a state of mental fuckedupedness, that when my recruiter gets me an opportunity with a good company, where I can again work from home in my pajamas, keep us afloat, and save us from homelessness, I manage to fuck it up. How?

 

I hate tech tests. I’m a web developer. And a lot of companies buy into these ridonculous online testing where they ask you silly hard questions or a bunch of irrelevant questions that don’t pertain to your niche. I always, always, do horrible on these tests. I actually got hired based on some of these tests once, but I still hate them. And since I always fail them, I got to the point where I would just tell the recruiters ‘No.’ I don’t take tests. You can get hired without taking tests. There’s no need for me to do something that’s just going to make me feel like less of a developer and not get the job. So I stopped. And this recruiter tells me there is a test.

 

I panic. I have no choice but to take the damn thing. And so I procrastinate, and wait until late at night and I’m tired, and then I take it. And what do you know? It’s a decent test. No crazy questions you have to know both physics and calculus to figure out. No trickery. Just real-world questions. Except for one. And it triggered something in my head. It opened the flood gates of negative emotions tied to these tests.

 

The question was what’s the difference between an Interface and an Abstract class? I had researched this question before for these same types of tests, back when I took them. Abstracts are more functionality and interfaces are more how to. There are five or six more technical differences, most subtle. I couldn’t remember them. I got flummoxed. Irritated. I was tired. Saw myself failing. Could see a picture of some nit-picking, test designing know-it-all laughing at my lack of understanding. Feel free to dive deeper into my childlike psychology if you’re a glutton for meaningless emotional reactions, madness, or depression. And since at my very center I’m a sarcastic comedian and writer, I referenced Andrew Dice Clay. That’s it. You read correctly. On a test that could decide the quality of life and welfare for my family in the months to come, I made a reference to the man who is the reason you can’t remember how the Little Miss Muffet rhyme actually ends.

 

Dice once told a joke about a math teacher who asked him What’s the difference between 9 and 2? His answer was Yeah, what’s the fucking difference?

 

This was my exact feeling at the moment. Yeah, what’s the fucking difference? And so I wrote something to the effect of wondering how the Dice Man would answer that. A few questions later, there were a couple of questions that referenced an earlier question. One that at first, because of the insanity I had succumbed to, I couldn’t remember. And I thought, you know, if I had short term memory loss I wouldn’t be able to get these questions. So I mentioned that in my answer. I was on a roll. Never mind that a person with short term memory loss wouldn’t be taking a goddamn software test. Never mind the fact of how important this is. Never mind that everything that’s snowballing down the steep incline of dread and helplessness could be stopped in its tracks with one good grade and a follow-up interview. Never mind all that shit. What’s important right now is for me to lash out mentally like a five year old idiot whose time for bed is past. To have an online mini-tantrum. To throw a giant fucking wrench in the middle of all those Life gears and see what happens.

 

And so I did. As soon as I hit submit, I immediately regretted it. But that was it. Everything that was hope flushed down the toilet in a few keystrokes. And I’ll get that call from the recruiter. I know I will. Um, yea . . . They, uh, decided to pass for now on moving forward. And that will be the floater. The one piece that wouldn’t flush. Come back to stare me in the face.

 

So you may wonder why in the world I would even confess to something so amazingly stupid. Why not just keep my mouth shut and never tell anyone. Hey, I just failed another test like I always do. No big deal. And the only people who would know would be the recruiter and the few people who grade the test, who print it out and pass it around the office maybe. Reference it as a joke in meetings and such. Well, here’s why.

 

I’m a writer goddammit.

 

So you’re a writer. So what? That means that you have to be a crazy person? All the writers who are reading this, by the way, just answered that question silently, to themselves. It’s kind of a prerequisite. But I’m not just another crazy author with otherworldly idiosyncrasies and questionable predilections. The problem is that I’m writing software and not bestsellers.

 

You see, some people know when they’re 10 what they want to do with their lives. Like four or five people. Then there are some folks who know when they enter college what they want to do, or have some sort of idea. That’s a good bit more. Then there are the people who, even after four years of college, with degree in hand, still have no idea what they want to do with their lives. I believe this is the majority. But I knew at an early age that I was a writer. I started my first novel before I was out of high school. So my parents, recognizing my interest in writing, put me in architecture school. Of course.

 

We made paint. We made paper airplanes. Drew walls with bricks. Drew plants. Camped out in freezing weather in cardboard projects. After 3 ½ years, they decided I couldn’t paint good enough and stopped letting my parents give them money. I didn’t even know they could do this. But they did. I was out. I moved to electrical engineering. I hated it. I told my parents I needed a break. I had spent those years in a 12 x 16 efficiency apartment with a fluorescent light above a twin bed. They said no, I had to keep going. So I stopped going to classes. I knew they were important. Knew if I didn’t go, that I would fail. My grades would drop. But I would wake up in the morning and not be able to convince myself that getting out of bed was worth it. I should have withdrawn, but didn’t know any better, so I zeroed out 13 hours’ worth of classes. Drug my GPA down to a 2.98.

 

Then I spent over a decade climbing up the management chains. I was a manager at a rental company. I figured out, after 13 years, that the title of Regional Manager wasn’t the Promised Land. It was a way to make sure you worked 70 hour weeks and stayed on the road. So I went back to college. Now you could point the finger at me. I went into computer science, and not journalism, like I should have. But I had a family by that time, and knew I’d have to take care of them somehow. I had, by this time, turned into a dad myself. And so like my father, I just picked something that I knew was around to stay and made good money. So twice I took the wrong path. It seems that Father Knows Best isn’t always true. We fathers tend to worry too much, and not always for the right reasons.

 

The problem with taking the wrong paths in life is that those paths are like the branches of a tree. Here’s a horribly long metaphor.

 

When you start out, there is no tree. Just a big playground with lots of toys and no worries mate. No path. Just time. Then you graduate high school and you suddenly notice there’s this huge, nasty Oak that’s planted right in the middle of your playground. You try to climb it and realize that the trunk is as big around as the merry-go-round, so climbing it looks almost impossible. The nearest branch is 30 or 40 feet above you. You know there are people up there. You can see them swinging from the branches. But you have no fucking idea how they made it up there. It looks like magic.

 

You start climbing it anyway. You have no choice. Besides, everyone else is doing it. When you get a couple of feet off the ground, someone walks up behind you and kicks you in the balls really hard. You fall to the ground and begin crying. You look around for some help or sympathy. But there is none. A guy does walk up to you though, with a knowing smirk on his face and says, “Friend, That’s Life.” Then he walks off. And now, at least you know the tree’s name. Life. And you also know that not everybody who says they’re a friend actually is.

 

It takes a long time to climb the tree and reach that first branch. And when you get to that first fork in the tree, a nice person greets you and gives you a piece of paper. The paper states that you have climbed the tree to the first branch. Then the person who greets you leans forward, smiles, and shoves you backward. You hit the ground, the breath knocked out of you. At least they stayed away from your balls this time. Now there is a makeshift wooden ladder nailed to the tree. You see that you can climb to the first branch anytime you want. As you look around, you also notice that you’re on the same playground you’ve been on all along. Nothing has changed. Except now, you have a piece of paper in your hand. When you look at it, you want to smile, but can’t. Because now, the people who dropped money freely from the trees, the ones who made it so you could go to college without taking 10 years to do it making $10/hr, those guys want their money back.

 

After climbing back up to the first branch, and after yelling at the branches above for weeks on end, someone lets down a rope for you and you climb slowly up that rope to another branch. You’re making money now. More than you ever made in your whole life, just like you knew you would. But now you realize that the cost of living in this tree is extremely high, and there’s always people around, at least one on every branch it seems, that would like to throw you and your whole family off the tree. As a few years pass, you realize that the branch you are on is weak, and that the same people who let the rope down have chainsaws. And they sometimes trim whole sections of a tree away before they’re finished with their morning coffee. The amount of warning you get is the sound of the chainsaw cranking. Not very much. But you climb and climb and climb. And you see after a while that you’ll never be able to pay the people back that were throwing money at you freely. You see that just existing in this tree is nearly impossible.

 

You’re a good climber. But you’re tired of falling out of the tree, with your whole family in tow, at the smallest fluctuation in wind currents. You look at a branch you saw long ago. One you really wanted to climb on, but never did. Now you can think of nothing but getting to it. You know that it is your only shot at happiness. But it costs money and time to climb it. You have neither. And when you climb down to the first branch to try and get on your happy branch, there is always a representative from the Department of Everlasting Bills and Trouble standing there. These people follow an evil entity called Policy, a deity that robs its believers of the ability to reason or use logic, and implores them to feed off of your desperation.

 

You climb back to the end of your branch. It’s cold out. All the leaves are gone. Your family huddles around for warmth. You hear a chainsaw cranking. In a few moments, you will all fall to the ground again. And when you do, you will march right back to the same fucking branch you’ve been climbing forever. Because that’s the only branch you’re allowed to climb. And you’ll stare up into the cold, dark recesses of the branches. And you’ll hear a faint, but repetitive voice asking you questions that might get you back to a branch, one that looks exactly like the dreary one that was sawed out from under you a few days before. The questions will all seem reasonable enough. Except for one.

 

And you won’t know the answer. You won’t even really give a shit what the answer is at this point. But you’ll know that there are people out there who could answer the shit out of that question and then stand there, proud and glowing, on their pedestal of Giving a Shit. And you’ll know that they are there because they love this branch. And you’ll know that you’ll never be there, at the top of this particular branch, because you’ve grown to despise the branch. Not because you really hate it, but because the one path you should have taken two decades ago is lost forever. And you know that branch is the only one you could reach the top of. And because a total loss of hope is always overwhelming, you scream back up into the tree.

 

“YEAH! WHAT’S THE FUCKING DIFFERENCE?”

 

 

 

Nadia G.

nadia-g-2011

 

 

What do you get when you cross Rachel Ray with Elvira? Nadia Giosia. Host of Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen and comedian extraordinaire. A steamy, gourmet mix of girl-next-door and bombshell-dominatrix-of-the-kitchen. If you actually thought Emeril was kicking it up a notch by throwing an extra pinch of salt into his dish, then you might not be ready for Mrs. G. Can I call you Mrs. G.? Nadia’s badass humor and succulent, themed dishes will turn over your giggle box while activating not only your saliva glands, but a couple of other glands as well. High heels, tattoos, and spatula. Can a dude in a recliner ask for more?

 

One night not too long ago, my publisher asked us writers about ideas for summer dining. Two of my ideas were interviewing Food Network Stars. Sounds silly, unless you’re up really late at night, two sheets to the wind, staring at pics of Nadia G. on the Internet. Then it makes perfect sense. So I began stalking her publicly, not in forced silence like before. I emailed her a bunch of silly questions. Along with a Restraining Order, I received Nadia’s answers to my questions.

 

[Shawn] I read that you hate baby corn. That bothers me. No question there, just wanted to let you know that it bothers me.

[Nadia] *enter showdown music

 

[Shawn] What makes you food horny is your favorite dish?

[Nadia] Thankfully I haven’t reached the point where I depend on food to get off, I can count on liquor for that…  I mean ‘humans’, I mean ‘next question’.

 

[Shawn] I’ve noticed that everyone on YouTube loves you. It’s always a plethora of thumbs up . . . thumb ups . . . thumbs ups . . . anyway, people dig your style. Except for two people. Every video that has you in it. Two thum . . . two people who have a problem with it. Exactly two. You seem to handle people who don’t get it very well (Kathy and Hoda in 2011, Hoda looked genuinely frightened), but if you like, I know some people who can take care of these people (not Hoda and Kathy, but these two haters). Or, are you hating on yourself secretly so you don’t come off as too perfect?

[Nadia] Lol, I’m not hating on myself, (at least not on YouTube.) But I gotta say: whether the comments are positive or negative, I always have a blast reading them. My fav this week comes from user ‘4v10h17r19d20’, who writes: “I deserve exile and a miserable death crushed under a thousand falling Trees .” …Fascinating stuff.

 

[Shawn] You’re always smiling, and it seems genuine. Can you even make an angry face? I just think a real smile is important. I won’t name any names, but there’s another Italian on the Food Network that could never visit a tribal village where showing your teeth is a sign of aggression. Like a female version of Jim Carey in The Mask. Seriously, you could remove her lips and no one would notice. Can you send a pic of a really angry face and a really happy face? I’ll let the captions be a surprise when the paper comes out.

[Nadia] Naw, I’m not always smiling on my show. In fact, a few months back I pitched ‘Mildly Depressed Kitchen’, but the network execs insisted I do a “travel show”. Go figure.

 

[Shawn] What will your last words be? Okay, that sounds dark and creepy. But look, you should take some time to think this out. You don’t want to fly off the roller coaster tracks and have your last words be something like Oh my gosh! Or something that everybody else uses like Holy Sh!t. You want something unique that defines you. I see a business model here. Custom Last Words Inc. You want something like Christian Slater’s “Talk Hard.” Or something mysterious like Walt Disney’s last words. There’s something that will stick.

[Nadia] I think this is an excellent business model. Particularly if the fine print reads that grieving family members would only have access last words via subscription. Just kidding. …It should be a one-time fee. Personally, I’ll go with something deep, like: “A straight road has no turning.”

 

[Shawn] What’s your philosophy in exactly 33 words? Oh, easy you say? Then also make it exactly 148 characters excluding whitespace.

[Nadia] “Après moi, le déluge”.  How’s 4 words in French?

 

[Shawn] Baby corn hater.

[Nadia] Hissssssssssssssssssss.

 

[Shawn] To keep a long-standing argument going between me and my wife, do you put sugar or cheese on grits?

[Nadia] I’m gonna go with cheese… and jalapenos… topped with crispy applewood  smoked bacon bits… that have been sprinkled with maple sugar :P.

 

[Shawn] When do we get an autobiography? Or a biography (hint hint)

[Nadia] Eeeeinteresting proposition…  

 

[Shawn] What’s on your bookshelf right now?

[Nadia] Right now I’m reading ‘Tropical Animal’ by Pedro Juan Gutierrez. As for my bookshelf, its stocked with Junot Diaz, Donald Ray Pollock, Chuck Palaniuk, Irvine Welsh… and Stephen Hawking – but that’s just to make me look smart (I can’t be f@cked to ponder on the time/ space continuum.)

 

[Shawn] Your Wikipedia entry is scant. If I can’t write your biography, can I write your Wiki? It’s a trick question. Anybody can write your Wiki. But can I?

[Nadia] Please do, my wiki sucks! It doesn’t even mention that I’m the first chick in history to go from net to network, OR that I got nominated for a Gemini (it’s like the Emmy’s, but in Canada and nobody cares) …OR that I may or may not be unicorn.

 

[Shawn] What’s next on the chopping block? Any branching out to different areas? GrindHouse 2? Reality TV? Talk Shows?

[Nadia] These days I have a lot on my plate. I’m currently working on an album, called “Don’t Tell Your Husband That You’d Schtupp Ryan Gossling When You’re Drunk”.

 

[Shawn] Garfunkel and Oats?

[Nadia] I loved ‘Pregnant Women Are Smug’ — it inspired me to write ‘Bitch, Nobody Cares About Your Wedding Blog’. (Yes, yes, it will be in my new album, don’t worry.)

 

[Shawn] If you could Clone yourself for a day, what would you have your clone do?

[Nadia] That’s an excellent question. I’d probably train it to be a hedge fund manager, so if my album doesn’t work out…

 

[Shawn] What would you like to say to Hunstville, AL?

[Nadia] “Heeeeeey, Huntsville! …” (awkward beat). 

 

[Shawn] Baby corn hater.

[Nadia] Hissssssssssssssssssss.

 

[Shawn] It looks like you’re going to get to do some travelling with your new gig in 2013. What’s the approach?

[Nadia] It’s a comedy-travel series called ‘Bite This’ – where me and the BK crew prance across the USA eating our way out of as much trouble as we can get into. Its kinda like ‘Spinal Tap’ meets ‘Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives’. But with better shoes.

 

So, if you want some more Nadia G. on your plate, take a look at http://bitchinlifestyle.tv/ , where you can get a brass-knuckle coffee cup, watch G’s music video, or get some kickass recipes. She’s also on the Cooking Channel, Facebook, and all over YouTube.

 

This article will also be available in the Valley Planet on July 11, 2013.

 

 

Kurt Russell

Rook_perched_on_telegraph_pole_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1350129

 

 

You’re driving down the highway minding your own business when someone swerves in front of you. Your reaction is to cut left, and you do, right into oncoming traffic. You see headlights, and then nothing. Muffled voices awaken you and you see two paramedics through a haze of pain. They are working feverishly on someone next to you and you see one of them motioning toward you. They’re coming around, they say. No, help me with this one, the other one says, we can save him, maybe. The other one’s a goner.

 

You’re angry at this dismissiveness until you look down at what’s left of you and realize the paramedic is right. You have maybe 10 or 20 seconds, maybe. You can still speak. You look up at the one that was paying attention to you and say . . .

 

What? What do you say? Quick, you only have 10 seconds. I’ll wait . . .

 

Your last words. They’re kind of important, don’t you think? I mean, you don’t want your wife or boyfriend hearing from the paramedic that your last words were Horsely shiiiiiit, wherthafus my legs? If your last words are mediocre at best, no one will remember them. If they’re catchy, wise, or mysterious, you’ll be remembered for a long time. But the worst case scenario, worse than not being remembered, is saying something memorable that is completely stupid. It wouldn’t matter how awesome your life was up to that point. It would be like landing a thousand free-throws in a row, and then missing the basket completely before walking off the court.

 

So you need to prepare. Come up with your last words now. Or better yet, a set of unique last words for a few different situations. You wouldn’t use the same set of last words for dying after being struck by lightning as you would if you got shot while doing a hooker. Or maybe you would. I’m only saying think ahead. That way you don’t get struck by lightning and tell your golf buddies I never get my money’s worth. It won’t have the same punch if you get them mixed up.

 

And practice. Ever had some asswipe say something so rude and left-field to you that you couldn’t immediately think of what to say back? Then you walk away wide-eyed and fuming, only thinking of something that would have put them in their place about twenty minutes later. Too late, though. You lost your chance. It’s the same with your last words. There’s a window and then it’s gone forever. But you have less a chance for screwing it up if you practice every day. Take one of my lines, for instance.

 

When I go, I’m going to pick out one person close to me that I want to freak out, get a far-away look as I stare through them, and say with a slight, knowing smirk, I’ll see you shortly. Doesn’t seem like much at first, but it’ll stick. It will. And when that car swerves over into their lane a little, it won’t be just some incident that needed a horn to correct. That was almost it, they’ll think, as my last words echo in their paranoid mind. Popcorn went down the wrong way for a second in the theatre. An NDE for sure. Death will be lurking in every corner for at least six months, trailing off slowly after that. And even better, if they do kick-off in a few months, then you’ve got your name stirred into the concrete foundation of a new urban myth. Did you hear about that guy in Huntsville that told that nurse he’d see her shortly, and then Boom! someone broke into her house and locked her in her freezer. True story, bro.

 

So I practice my last words every day. Like on the person at the drive through.

 

Will that be all, sir?

 

Yes, I say, staring malevolently at the speaker, and I’ll see you shortly.

 

Um . . . Yes, sir. Please, pull to the window.

 

Or after my children tell me goodnight. It’s okay if they don’t understand the big picture, or what I say makes them lock their bedroom doors at night. The main thing is that I’m ready when the time comes.

 

So as we start off this bright and shiny Summer, remember that death is waiting for you around every corner. Be prepared, and practice often.

 

I’ll see you shortly.

 

 

Defriended

Fairytale_Trash_Delete

 

 

So I’m in the bookstore and I walk up on an old friend. I worked with her a few jobs ago. She’s the sweetest thing since chocolate-covered bacon. I smile and say, “Hey, girl!” It takes her a second to place me because last she’d heard I’d moved away. That, and I resemble one of her old English teachers. Then she recognizes me and we catch up. The basics.

 

Something is mentioned about connecting and I ask, “Are you still on Facebook?” And she says, “Yeah, you deleted me.” There is a horrible silence. I reach for my skin and try to step out of it, like Bugs Bunny. It doesn’t work. I ask if she’s sure about that, but now I’m remembering a while back when I got really drunk and got on Facebook. I was irritated at the time. Not at her, but at the world in general. And I started looking at all the posts, which were, at least for that day, just irritatingly stupid for one reason or another. And I was like, “F@ck this.”

 

I started deleting people left and right. I wasn’t using a scalpel either. I was using a large, medieval mace. People who never posted got the axe. That’s what Facebook is for – posting. If you’re not going to share, go away. You don’t get to hang around outside the forum, hiding behind a bush and peering in the window like a voyeur. No peepers. You want to know what I’m fixing for dinner, tell me about that marvelous cupcake you had yesterday. It’s a give and take.

 

People who posted pictures of their garage. Deleted. You know who you are. And this is someone I would still have lunch with. Your workout equipment in your garage doesn’t excite anyone but you. And the fact that it excites you to the point where you run for the camera is a little disturbing. Garages are not for picture taking. Garages are not for parking cars. Any middle class American can tell you, garages are for hoarders with no organization skills to hide things from the outside world. If someone came to our house and saw a set of wooden golf clubs setting by the couch, they might ask if I play with them. No, I would say. I got them cheap and I think they’re worth about $70 a piece. You gonna sell them, they would ask. Um . . . no, I would admit. Oh, they would say, and then the conversation would trail off. I would be forced to psychologically reconcile my squirrel-like habits, using the same scarred mind that gave rise to said actions. Not an ideal situation for keeping my ego above poverty level. The same thing applies to whatever is in several large, blue plastic containers in our garage. We take them with us from house to house every time we move, but I’m not sure if we have ever opened them. Most have labels, so there’s no need. They may contain bodies, mason jars full of quarters, or large mutant spiders. Maybe that’s where my workout equipment is.

 

People who I friended because I thought their life was interesting, but later learned it wasn’t. Sometimes you can compare yourself to boring or stupid people and feel better about yourself. But for these sad sacks, the empathizing would only lead to a soul-sucking sadness. Like those Harry Potter soul eaters. Expecto Patronum you catatonic droolies. Deleted.

 

And the last category that gets you thrown into the fire is happiness. Yes, that overrated floozy of serotonin. My friend suffers from a plethora of happiness. A very rare, but emotionally draining disease that can lead to giggling, nice comments, and smiling in general. I’m not against using happiness recreationally, but when it wraps its colorful claws around you and causes constant delight, it’s time for an intervention. How can I think this way? Come now, you do too. When is the last time you’ve gone to see a really good movie that was happy all the way through? Doesn’t happen. Why? Because happy means nothing without a little conflict. A little pain and suffering. And when do we really get into the movie? When we root for the protagonist because on some level, we sympathize with them. We feel their pain and struggle. We want them to overcome. To win. If there is no struggle, no pain, and the protagonist frolics through the movie with seemingly no life problems, what do we care? We have problems, they should too.

 

And my friend’s posts were too happy. Plain and simple. Deleted.

 

But here’s the kicker people – I still consider her my real life friend. And you know, denizens of Webtopia, even though some of you may not see it, there is a huge difference between a virtual friend and real one. With reality TV, manufactured news, and all of our emotions pent up in pixels, the lines between reality and virtual are becoming fuzzy. A Facebook friend is someone you share life events with. That’s it. Nothing special, because you are sharing the same thing with everybody. And let’s not forget that it’s nothing more than a glorified form of blogging. That translates to writing. And not everyone is a writer. Not everyone can draw you in with a story.

 

Reading Facebook posts is like reading a series of mini-biographies. On a scale of one to ten, most biographies suck. They’re not a huge portion of book sales, cornering 1% of the market. So know this, if you get deleted, you’re not getting defriended. It just means you’re boring. And that’s okay because you’re attempting to excel in a really boring market.

 

Happy sharing!

 

 

The Next Exit

I-80_Eastshore_Fwy

 

I’m scooting along on a stretch on Hwy 40, travelling at about 76 mph, as I head to work. To my right, and slightly ahead of me by a car length, is a big ass truck. To my left, more commuters. It’s a three to five lane spread, depending on the stretch of road and if there’s an exit nearby. We are approaching an exit. A car is suddenly on my right hand side, moves past me and gets directly behind the big-ass truck, then, sans the blinker, moves over in front of me. I won’t say cut me off because I didn’t have to slam my brakes on, just give a nice, sharp push. The truck that was following this car in the other lane is sliding slowly up past me and headed to claim his spot behind the big-ass truck. Then it happens.

 

The car who had to suddenly be in front of me decides they need to be not only back in their lane, but needs to take the current exit, another two lanes over. The problem was this: the exit was directly to everyone’s right, like at a 90⁰ angle to the right. So they swerved drastically to the right, cutting in front of the truck that was next to me, squeezing between his front bumper and the back of the big-ass truck and missing both by a couple of feet, and then across two more lanes, and disappeared.

 

I express my usual verbal opinion to an empty car. “Stupid F@ck.” There used to be an exclamation point in there, but I’m a little numb to idiots now days. Let me put this in context.

 

I had to work a few weeks in Nashville this month. When I first got on the highways surrounding Nashville, I looked up to see a digital sign over the road telling me that “201 people have died in car wrecks in Tennessee so far this year. Don’t be next.” A definite WOW factor in their message. And I applauded them for not being politically correct and putting it out there for idiots to chew on. After a week there, I read a paper that told me that on the stretch of road I travel every morning, there had been 43 wrecks since the first of the year. That’s an average of one accident every three days. And that was only for a stretch between two sequential exits on that road, not the whole thing. So of all the sections of highway you might want to screw around on, this would not be the one.

 

Flash forward a week later. I leave work and head to a massive bookstore west of Nashville. As I approach the same exit I take every day, I head to the right fork, which actually takes you back left (thanks Nashville, makes sense). But that was muscle memory. I meant to head down the two lane fork to the left, which takes you back right (thanks Nashville, makes sense). Then it happens. I glance once in the rearview and suddenly cut across four lanes of traffic. I made my exit. And I immediately expressed my usual verbal opinion to an empty car. “You stupid F@ck! What the F@ck are you doing!” Exclamation points and all.

 

I can see that sign overhead indifferently ticking off one more body count as it tallies its statistics. My wife and kids back home crying over my grave. Some guys with the TDOT steaming my remains off the pavement. The guy behind me saying the same thing about me that I say about other people. I’m shocked at myself. I am a man possessed. I must exorcise this demon immediately. As I drive, I begin pondering what caused me to act like an idiot, putting myself and others in mortal danger.

 

Anger. The driving and layout of the roads in Nashville is sometimes horrible. You might move through three different exits in the span of a few minutes. And if you miss one, you’re out the fifteen to twenty minutes it takes you to follow whatever road you’re on to the next turnaround. You have no choice. Late for something? Too bad. Extra gas. Extra time. Extra late.

 

Idiot factor. You feel like an idiot for missing it. How hard can it be, you say to yourself, to figure out which freaking exit to take? What are you, a moron? Yes and no. Sometimes, things appear to be arranged to purposely confuse you. Take the road names themselves. Even-numbered highways run East-West and odd-numbered run North-South. So interstate 65 runs North-South and I40 and I440 runs East-West. Then you have I24. It runs at close to a 45 degree angle, but more north and south than east and west. Go look on a map and tell me what you think. And right where I24 connects I40 and I440, it’s completely vertical on the map. So if you’re trying to decipher how to head east on I440, take a connecting road that runs north-south on a map, and then ramp onto I40 headed east again, and you know you need to head north on this connecting road (I24), do you translate that north into I24 east or I24 west? Quick now, you’ve been driving for a couple of hours, you have to piss like a Russian race horse, you’re late for work, and if you miss the exit, you’ll be late for both things. You’ve got a mile to decide and you’re surrounded by idiots on all sides. It’s raining. And . . . Oh, you remembered that west takes you back towards Nashville, so that would mean north is actually west and HOLY SH!T THERE’S THE F#CKING EXIT! NOW! NOW! NOW!

 

In short, it’s a high-pressured, instantaneous decision made by an idiot with dementia. So how to override this seemingly involuntary, knee-jerk reaction?

 

Know that you are filthy rich.

 

When you tell someone about your commute to work, do you relate it in miles or minutes? More than likely minutes. We measure our morning drive in time, not distance. It’s time we are battling. You don’t think about anything beautiful that you might pass by every morning. You don’t think about landscapes and things along the way. You think about whether or not some idiot is going to cut you off. If there’s something in the road you won’t see until it’s too late. Whether or not your boss is going to give you grief over those 10 minutes. Or you go into a catatonic daydream state. You know, where you sometimes think back and realize that for the last 15 seconds, you have no idea what’s been happening on the road around you? I did that one time on the way to Birmingham and lost close to a minute. Was on a straight-away and looked up and was on the other side of a curve. I’m not certain, but I think I went for about a mile and half in internal-movie mode. That’s some scary sh!t.

 

So the clock is our Master. We bow to it with our pedal. We look at shaving off a few seconds by passing 3 cars before we get over. We race to the next red light. We see every other car as an obstacle. As lost time waiting to happen.

 

The only way to win is to change the music. Put on a slower song. Ease back on the pedal and let them all pass you by. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. There is something very Zen about actually going 45 in a 45 and watching cars pass you. I imagine myself as a multibillionaire. Nothing to do for the day. Out cruising in my 15 year old car as a disguise so no one will know how rich I am. Look at them scurrying to their little jobs. It’s a mind trick. And if you do the math, driving an extra 6 miles an hour for 25 minutes isn’t going to save you more than 2 or 3 minutes. It’s just not worth it.

 

So come fellow billionaires. Let’s take our golf carts to our garages, pick out our crappy, incognito ride for the day, and head to work at a leisurely pace. And if we miss that exit? Who cares? We have all the time in the world. We’ll take the next exit because we can. And maybe, if we’re lucky, one of those peons hurrying to work won’t kill us and we’ll live to see another day.

 

 

 

Life is . . .

Maidu_hut_recreation_-_Maidu_Interpretive_Center

 

I am standing naked on a

smooth, round Earth.

There is nothing here but me.

No objects and no people.

I am tired, so I look and see a chair

is behind me.

I sit.

 

I am young and time passes

slowly and there is

nothing to do.

I am bored.

I get old and then

I die.

What was the point of all that?

 

I am young and time passes

slowly and there is

a ball in front of me

RED

against all this whiteness

and I think that’s neat.

I play with the ball and

it bounces and bounces and it is

sometimes hard to catch.

Years pass and

I am bored.

I get old and then

I die.

What was the point of all that?

 

I am young and time passes

slowly and there is

nothing to do.

There is nothing here but me.

No objects and no people.

I am tired, so I look and see a chair

is behind me.

I sit.

There is a noise to my left

and I look to see a PERSON

We are a little nervous,

two people in two chairs and

no other people anywhere and

what in this glassy white world is

there to say?

But we speak

We get to know each other

and have long talks and

smile sometimes and

when we get older we find

a bouncy red ball and

laugh together at the fact that just

bouncing it back and forth to each other is

so much fun.

Years pass and

we get old and then

we die.

A sad ending, but… worth it.

 

I am young and time passes

slowly and there is

nothing to do.

I look down and there is GREEN grass

beneath my toes.

I wiggle my toes and smile and

look behind me and there is a small hut.

Water starts to hit the top of my head and

it is cold so I step into the hut and look back out

and marvel at the water as it

leaks slowly from the grass onto the

Earth’s white surface.

There is a door, a window, and a bed in my hut.

I am happy to lie down and rest in my VERY OWN hut.

Years pass and I walk out of my hut and there is a large

HOUSE sitting just a red ball’s throw away.

It is the size of twenty of my huts.

It has grass also but it looks a little…

greener.

And there is a large, majestic gate

surrounding it and there are tons of RED balls

on the grass.

Some red balls are very LARGE.

I walk over to the gate and press a GOLD BUTTON

and I am excited to hear another person’s voice.

“Yes?”

They are nervous like me but that’s ok.

“Hi, would you like to play ball?”

I am smiling.

“NO,” they say. “I don’t know you. Please go away.”

Now water is falling from my head as I

go back to my LITTLE hut.

I grow old and bored and I can only

look at all the other balls in the green, green yard

with the mean gatekeeper.

I am lonely and angry and mad and so I

throw my red ball at a window in the big house

and it breaks and I am scared but happy as I

run back to my hut.

No one ever comes out.

Years pass and

I am bored.

I get old and then

I die.

What was the point of all that time

I had to spend not getting the things I wanted?

 

I am young and time passes

slowly and there is

nothing to do.

I look down and there is GREEN grass

beneath my toes.

I wiggle my toes and smile and

look behind me and there is a LARGE HOUSE.

I walk across the most wonderfully colored grass

to my VERY OWN house and smile and fall asleep

on the softest bed ever.

When I awake, I look out my window and there is

a small little hut across the way.

I am worried at what kind of creature could

live in a hut that small.

It could come out and take one of my balls from

the grass and so now there is a large gate

wrapping around my house.

And a good thing too because sure enough

someone has come from that small little hut

and is trying to get at my grass and red balls and

maybe they even want to come and take my

house away.

They walk over to MY gate and press MY GOLD BUTTON

and I can hear a crazed excitement in their voice.

“Yes?”

I am nervous because I do not know if they

can get in.

“Hi, would you like to play ball?”

I am frowning

and I knew they wanted to take my red balls

from MY grassy yard.

“NO,” I say. “I don’t know you. Please go away.”

Now I cannot leave my house

or they will come in and take my things

and so I am trapped here forever.

Years pass and

I am bored.

I get old and then

I die.

What was the point of all that time

I had to spend trapped in my house?

 

I am standing naked on a

smooth, round Earth.

There is nothing here but me.

No objects and no people.

I am tired, so I look and see a chair

is behind me.

I sit.

Anything can happen now

I guess.

 

 

Check out my project on Kickstarter.

Sorry, Charlie on Kickstarter

 

 

 

Read This And Win $1,000

Sorry, Charlie cover

There’s a particular type of sinking feeling you get when your Kickstarter project is 2/3 complete and underfunded. You don’t want to give up. Can’t, really. But you can see the water spilling over the bow as the women and children fill the lifeboats. It’s looking like I’m going to be on the not so wonderful side of that fully-funded statistic. Here is a snapshot of my sadness.

Kickstarter progress

See that plateau? That’s a horrible plateau. If it was a pool of water, you would not want to drink from its stagnant waters. If it was a ship headed to the New World, there would be a mutiny, the captain looking over the edge of his last diving board. If it was a rabbit, it would be a shaved rabbit, with the mange and a Scotty-Don’t haircut, no front teeth, spray-painted yellow and orange by vandals, curled up under a sopping wet newspaper inside a garbage can, slowly gnawing off one of its own front legs. You get the picture.

In one of my last posts, I laid out a few things I had done wrong concerning the project. But it’s too late to fix most of them. So I am going to go post crazy and stoop to the lowest form of selfish, spamtastic, advertising. A slutty form of SEO and guerilla-anti-reverse-subliminal-prodding. I’m not sure what else to do really. I’ve thought of publicity stunts. Like a bomb scare on The Bachelor. No good. I’ve thought of using phrases like California Earthquake gives rise to giant spiders. Don’t panic, I would never stoop that low. I want to shoot this to you straight, like Brandon Knight, and not irritate you like a sprained ankle. Nor would I capitalize on Prom fashion or Mother’s day this year. That would be petty. I just want to do something that cool like Justin Timberlake SNL Saturday Night Live. I want to be like Oz The Great and Powerful and do something beautiful like Danielle Fishel. Nor will I even mention North Korean nuclear threats imminent for fear of giving people a hangover 3 about the whole thing.

And I surely won’t filibuster you like Rand Paul or Google Trend you to death with statistics.

I’ll just say that you should go to Kickstarter immediately and pledge at least $20 to the Sorry, Charlie project. And that’s all I’ll say. Here is the link.

Sorry, Charlie on Kickstarter

 

 

The Pope. The Pope. The Pope. The Pope. The Pope. The Pope. The Pope.

The Colors of Autumn

Maple-oliv2

A cool wind brushes my face today and I realize, with a surreal clarity, that today is the first day of Autumn. Maybe that’s not what the calender says, but I know this breeze is the first of its kind this year. A refreshing harbinger of seasonal change and nature’s yearly metamorphosis, the wave of air nudges me slightly, inviting me to be a part of a cycle that has run its course for millions of years.

I close my eyes for a moment and a nostalgia-undefined bathes me in a memory that, though it swallows me whole and I float momentarily in its comfortable bliss, does not lend itself wholly to me but rather reaches out to slight me with its dreamlike tendrils and then fades completely, leaving behind only a whisper of pleasant recollections lost to time.

The swath of wind continues its path around me like a gelatinous parcel of time, plucked from Mother Nature herself just for me, and reforms itself behind me as it mingles with its airy brethren to continue on a never-ending journey.

Though my eyes are closed, I can see. I can see the crimson, water-colored maples sliced in half by the power lines next to our house. The acrylic yellow oaks placed carefully at intervals by a hand more knowing than our own, intermittently scattered to balance a picturesque landscape weighted heavily with evergreens who appear oblivious to Autumn’s protocol. The dry crunch underfoot as small feet wade through ankle high leaves on their way to all the neighbor’s houses with sweet expectations. The blur of color through the backseat car window, the bright canopies mixing together like a spinning color wheel. The orange peel horizon bleeding to a dark red, and then purple, matching the freshly painted forest, tree tops outlining a jagged graph of nature herself as the colored leaves and woods meld into one giant, charcoal landscape, as if the Universe itself had punctured the atmosphere and leaked its heavenly ink down on our world, all the while filtering the stars and keeping them above, something to focus on when the world turns dark. The glassy, upside down reflection of ocher and scarlet leaves on a clam, early morning lake, still sleeping under a blanket of mist, yet to stir.

I have stood in place, feet planted firmly like a statue, and traveled through the mountains of my hometown, the forests of my past, the streets of my childhood on Halloween, the wayside tapestries of youthful road trips, and the colorful horizons of lakes and rivers.

 

 

Don’t forget to check out my project on

Sorry, Charlie on Kickstarter

 

 

The Perfect Couple

perfect couple

 

Me and my wife have seen

the perfect couple.

 

We’ve seen them dating with their

hands in each other’s back pockets

and smiled when they’ve shown us

their expensive chains and lockets.

 

We’ve seen them in the gym

forty minutes on the treadmill

keeping in shape and staying trim

each with quite the zeal.

 

We’ve seen them at their weddings

singing songs of love and crying

as they recite their vows with joy

and sanctify the knot they’re tying.

 

We’ve seen their network of friends

spanning far and wide

and a new car every year

’cause their friends enjoy the ride.

 

We’ve seen them at the restaurant

never arguing, that’s true

and attending all events

and laughing right on cue.

 

Me and my wife have seen

the perfect couple.

 

We saw one just last week

they weren’t together anymore

“- separately quietly,” she said

but they were still tied up in court.

 

It seems that after all

they both still had their flaws

but they looked so good together

through all the hems and haws.

 

An hour ago we fought,

something mundane and silly

and making up was quick

just a simple kiss really.

 

We haven’t been the perfect couple

for over twenty years

and toiled a little here and there

with blood and sweat and tears.

 

And here we are still

with all love has to broker

and happy as a lark

to be a couple mediocre.

 

Don’t forget to check out my project on

Sorry, Charlie on Kickstarter