Posted by: chance47 | 05/18/2017

Fuzzy

 

If I had to venture, I would guess that the first time they appeared was when I was nine or ten. Around the same time that I became ashamed of my body.  

I was an easily startled young boy, full to the brim with equal parts quiver and humor. Shaking and hairless. If physical contact was made, I responded with a flinch and an internal massacre. Breaths would shorten and a catch in my throat would pitch my voice, already a soprano, a few steps higher.  

One day, when I was a startle away from burrowing into the wood chips of the school playground, black and gray, with a hint of silver, quills emerged from the backs of my arms, my shoulders, my calves and butt. Curved and piercing spikes unsheathed from my pores. With a flick of a muscle a razor sharp and painful dagger would present itself to warn others.

Don’t touch.  Not worth your time.

It was how I made it through the days sometimes. Those certain days. Oftentimes, I was quite a joyful and entirely too talkative child. Making up for my tactile dysfunction.

So this is puberty, I would often think.

Walking down the hallway, entering the cafeteria or, most horrific of all, boarding the bus, I’d bristle.  I’d hunch my shoulders, make my already wide stance as broad as possible. On the bus, someone would take the seat next to me and I’d swallow my breath and flare my nostrils.

Mind the spikes.  Please, not any closer.

When an arm would graze my elbow or the skin of their short-clad shins brush mine, my eyes would close and with a twitch my spines would push out an inch. Dermal antennae.  

“Tsss,” they would wince. “What was that?  What are you?” They’d switch seats and share whispers with others about the terror seated across the aisle.

When I’d move, a slight sound of tch-tch-tch would float above me. An early warning system for anyone curious enough to come close. Once, a brave and foolish soul, sitting next to me on a particularly bumpy bus ride, asked me, “What’s worse?  Being poor or being a fag?” He tried to bruise me, lacerating his own skin. The smell of iron and salt wafted from his wound.

I suppose it’s a rite of passage to fear your body. And I feared. I was ashamed and scared of my eggshell skin. It wasn’t something I was taught. Not a value instilled in me or a misguided moral given to me. It was learned however. It seemed fated for a youth of my status and history. I owned a skin too early cracked and roughly razed.  

I remember my body failing me, at a very young age, in the back bedroom of a Section 8 house over a particularly hot summer. A secret, full of innocence not knowing where to go and without consent, had scarred my skin and seeped into my bones. Calcified and festered.

Despite growing into a monster, I could express physically how I felt for those I cared about. The ones that offered me harbor were given tight squeezes with just a hint of distance. A reasonable facsimile of a good hug. My mother received the bulk of those exchanges. Rarely, but sometimes, my father.  

The quills remained through the torture of junior high and the disaffection of high school. I learned how to augment my prickly self with wardrobe and attitude.  Valuable tools for keeping things out of reach.

While rushing between seventh period science and eighth period social studies, I would often find myself on the bullied end of a pack of should-have-already-been-high-school-drop-outs. They loved to destroy your books and your dignity at the same time. One would hold your face to the ground while another would use your folders as make-shift skateboards to slide across the newly waxed floor. With some kicks, some spit and a well timed “Faggot” they would leave, laughing as your shredded homework and broken pencils lay before you. It took so much energy to get up off the floor. It happened every day.

One day, taxed too far, I flexed. Black and gray, with a hint of silver, quills sprang to attention. My arms wildly swiped through a blur of frustrated tears. I felt my secret weapons gain purchase in something firm yet giving. I looked to find my plumes lodged sideways through the throat of the most wretched of my attackers. A bubble of blood escaping his lips. His shoulders twitched as his neck muscles strained against the opening of his trachea. A final spurt of spit and mucus mixed with blood shot from his larynx and he crumpled to the floor. I turned to face the others. They ran and I gave chase. Tch-tch-tch. I worked efficiently and with a wild grace never before possessed.

There, I thought, Slide on that fuckers.

I graduated high school, not knowing, not really, how to hug my friends.

It’s no surprise that my rodent armor went with me to college; a sprawling campus surrounded by a town exhausted by an indifferent government. I called upon my skeletal halberds when walking home through the depressed alleys to the cheap off-campus housing that was all most of us could afford.

And that one night, when I was particularly vulnerable, when my dear friend answered a knock at the door not knowing that urban ogres waited patiently for access, my protruding friends were at the ready. The intruder’s punches, aiming for what they assumed was a glass jaw, were sliced to the bone. Tendons were severed and those that lived were left with appendages hanging loosely at their sides.    

Not. In. My. House.

I graduated fatherless, bruised and supposedly educated. I’d embrace my friends with dead arms and a practical squeeze of the shoulder to express to them that I cared. They knew the deceit of the hold.

By the time I made it to Chicago, my mutant defense was no longer hidden. My shiny black and gray, with a hint of silver,  needles no longer retracted when safe. I wasn’t, so they were always bared. The weight of my armor pulled my frame and stretched my muscles. I was unable to look people in the eyes, let alone touch. I tried my best not to scratch or poke or jab.  I was tired of hurting people.  

One night, untouched and feral, I tried my best to shed my skin. In my tiny bathroom, with a fresh razor in my hand, I shaved, hacked and sawed away at each spike. I tore the spears, one by one, from my pores. I was shorn, plucked raw and bleeding.  My skin, ruined and ghostly pale, was a maze of crags with no solution. I strained my ear, listening for tch-tch-tch, only hearing the buzz of the bathroom lights.

Years went by, full of empty bristles and distance. No black, no gray and certainly no silver. I was relieved, I guess, to no longer be deadly, but at the same time crushed by my body, still failing me.        

One morning, on the train to work, a gentleman with the broadest of shoulders boarded. He looked like a reformed hallway tyrant. He had a thick neck and arms wider than my head. All of this was complemented with a beautiful Grecian profile. Where my body had failed, his body succeeded. He grabbed the seat next to me. As the train filled, the standing passengers crowded and sardined their way to the back to make way for new boarders. Everything became cramped and enclosed.

This chiseled man, all full of things to make one jealous, inched ever so closer to me. I drew in my arms and shrank my shoulders as much as I could. The train, shaking back and forth, made it impossible to stay stable. I held my breath. Sweat beaded and trickled down my chin. Then I heard it. Tch-Tch-Tch.

No, I thought, not now. Please not now. Please. I was doing so well.

His dense forearm grazed mine. I drew the sharpest of breaths and waited for him to flinch. To draw back his arm. I waited for the puncture and the blood, but nothing came. Instead, I could feel the individual hairs on his arm. The tension in his muscles as he readjusted. He pressed his forearm, not with intention but accommodation, further into me. His warmth spilled over to me.

I can’t. I can’t. I can’t breathe.

I closed my eyes and a knot hit my throat. Unable to speak or even squeak, I slowly, slowly exhaled.

“Oh,” I whispered.  

That night in college, my tiny bathroom, the bus, the hallway in junior high. I know how it really was. What really happened.  But memory can be a fuzzy thing. Sometimes that’s better.  

My flesh has done the only thing it knows how. It tries, at times more successful than others, to protect me. That summer, in the back bedroom of a Section 8 house, my body didn’t fail me. Like any good mammal, I adapted.     

It may have been minutes, maybe seconds, but I sat there with my sandpaper skin resting against his. As my body relaxed and my chest widened, I allowed the tears to fall down my cheeks. Within a few stops he was gone. Without that warmth my body began to tighten and curl. Ready to flinch.  

Remember. Remember this touch. Exactly as it happened.  

I realized what my fuzzy memory had forgotten.  I knew, now, what I was missing.

Posted by: chance47 | 06/14/2016

Orlando and We

Forgive me. But I think it’s kind of like a souffle. A symphony. A trophy winning sports team. Or a finely tuned sports car. The finest cream and the perfect temperature. A mournful cello and melodic flute. An athlete for offense, one for defense. Intricate parts, well oiled and working in unison.

Humans have, within, a nearly infinite ability to create. When we work together the act of creating not only becomes easier but more meaningful.

In one person there are billions of cells doing their best to create.That’s how powerful us tiny humans are. One of the cruelest things, I think, is how beautifully complex we are but in the scope of the universe, horribly insignificant. But that’s only if you are looking at the stars. It’s difficult, you know, to remind ourselves to look at what’s left and what’s right.

When we create, when it is done, we thank the people who helped us. We acknowledge all of the hard effort given and we are grateful for the little part of ourselves we had to sacrifice to make it happen.

Though we don’t like to speak of it, just as the ability to shape and form something beautiful lies within us, so too lies the capacity to destroy. A symphony of hate, a recipe for disaster, a deadly machine. Terrorists. Like creation, when they work together, the more devastating the result.

And I get it…there’s a coping mechanism in place. Something to protect our hearts. We must find the single, simple reason as to why something horrible has happened. One thing, not in ourselves, that takes all the blame, owns all the hate or shoots all the bullets. If we cannot find that one thing in ourselves, then we know we are good. All of our cells are working.

We call them a monster. Call it god’s will. Just the way things work. But in reality, if we could somehow go back to the moment it all began, we’d see dozens of moving parts. Pieces clawing to each other and taking form. Maybe, just maybe, we’d see a misfire or a disconnection. But I don’t think there would be just one thing. One faulty part. One reason as to why it’s broken.

You see…it is about bigotry. It is about hate. It’s about homophobia. Toxic masculinity and misogyny. It’s about radicalized religion with an agenda. It’s the availability of assault rifles and a culture of violence. About mental illness and neglect. It’s terrorism and it’s tragedy. It’s Orlando and America. All of these ugly bits collide and then they destroy.

But I do know this. The ground doesn’t remain fallow. The solution is creation. Is a symphony. We can’t fix one and ignore the other and hope the machine can keep limping. It requires the whole team to make it work. We are the machine, we are the recipe.

Posted by: chance47 | 06/18/2015

Terrible Beautiful

“It was all terrible beautiful, wasn’t it?”

“Terribly beautiful?”

“I was being poetical.”

“It was a lot of things.  All at once.”

“No matter what went down, I woke up every morning and thought, ‘This is it.  I feel possibility.  It’s there.  In the air.  Possibility.’  And sure, by lunch I was telling myself, ‘Just wait.  Wait it out.  A year, two.  You can leave.  You’ll make it all happen.  But wait.  Just wait.  Be still, be patient.’  Nothing seemed like work, you know?   It was painful.  I was lost.  Waking up and moving forward hurt.   But to do it.  To move, to learn, to try.   It wasn’t work.  Like an actor… ‘Remember this.  Someday it will be useful.’  And it wasn’t all bad either.  God did I laugh.   I smirked and smiled.  I made eyes at people and planets came into view.  We skinny dipped, drank beer, hid in forests.  Hung out at malls without a dollar to spend.  Late night milkshakes.  Painted nails.  Hair dye.  Secrets.  We had secrets.  If people didn’t move, we could run.  The world only stood still when it was all good.  We didn’t need parents.  We were parents. ..”

“We barely had parents,” she reminds me, as if I needed it.

“We didn’t have much of anything.  But it was enough.  Everyday it felt like it was all beginning.  We would shift into greatness and be better than all that came before.  But we didn’t, did we?”

“Things…people…it all gets narrowed down.  This or that.  Directions, I mean.  Things got…closer.”

“Smaller you mean,” I snapped.

“No…things we could reach.  Lives we never knew we wanted. It got warmer.”

“We were colder then, weren’t we?” And I laughed.  “I don’t remember summers being so unbearable then.  Now I suffer through the humidity and dream about swingsets in parks after closing time.  I remember when people would say, ‘I don’t know what to do with you’ and it didn’t mean something messy.  Square pegs and all that.”

“But those things…”

“I remember catfights and pool parties.   I remember when you could smoke a cigarette and not think about cancer.  Where you didn’t it feel it wearing your body down.  Nothing wore the body down.  We were…pliable.  We bent in the wind.  Climbed trees in church yards and raided haunted houses.  We explored.  When was the last time you explored?  Sneaking to clubs and wearing old man pants…at the same time.  Hours long walks where the only thing to see were people sitting on porches.  Cardigans.  I remember cardigans. Mix tapes.  We created things and saw them, not for what they were, but what they could be.  People could say, ‘You’re so crazy’ and it wasn’t exhausting.  I remember Myrtle Beach.  God, do you remember Myrtle Beach?”  I paused to catch my breath.

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Posted by: chance47 | 05/31/2013

Flashcard Insomnia – Vancouver Part 2!!!

 

shark-club-vancouver

Immediately my nose was assaulted with sweat, faulty deodorant, lingering clove and dear-god-is-that-fruit-punch?

Alison, grabbed my hand and pulled me through a sea of bodies onto a dance floor no bigger than an unfinished basement of a two bedroom house.

Arms, elbows, sleeves and fingers flew past my face.  They made only passing impressions on my vision, because the first and most prevalent sensation I was dealing with was oppressive heat.   Heat full of sweat, perspiration and gyration.   In a cove fit for thirty there were at least a hundred people.  Bodies pressed tightly.  Your black sweater becomes my black bandanna.

I suppose now is the best time to mention…I have a problem with proximity.  Hordes of people and teeming dance floors typically cause a mass stage of anxiety induced panic within me that can only be cured with a hit of Klonopin or a week of therapy.

When in Vancouver…

I let Alison take me deeper into the mass of black and musk.  Further and further.

Finally we reached a bar.

“Thank FUCKING SCIENCE,” I said.  “I need a drink.”  I pulled out my wallet to buy another round with my fake, play-for-pretend Canadian dollars.

Alison jumped up and threw herself halfway onto the bar.

“KIKO!!!!!   KIKO!!!!”

Kiko turned around.   Maybe twenty four years old…I feared only twenty.

“Alison!”

“Two please!”  Alison smiled.   Furnished for us were two Red Fruit Punch Gatorades.  I looked towards Alison with what I could only hope was stabbing daggers and intense judgement.

“Nowhere this late can serve alcohol,” she said, “Where do you think you are???”

I stared at her for a moment.  I let my eyes bore into her face.  Her expression refused to change.

“I think I’m in OZ,” I said.

“HA!   Ha ha hahahahahahah!  Not yet!” Alison laughed.  “Be back soon!!!  Dance or something!”

Now I was alone.  Behind me, behind the bar, bodies were amalgamating into one huge shared brain.  I was resisting it with all of my might.

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Posted by: chance47 | 05/16/2013

Classy Boy

image

Why it’s Chris Evans also known as Captain Amerigetonmyfacenow!

Posted by: chance47 | 05/15/2013

Ouch of the Day

This morning on the train another rider competed with me to get a seat.   A seat, I clearly had earned.  In response, he took a little leap to grab the seat and stepped on my foot.   My response…I flapped my arms in frustration and made some vaguely avian guttural noise.   I went full on bird.   Why?   Cool points definitely lost.                   

Posted by: chance47 | 05/10/2013

Soothe of the Day

This song is so catchy!

Posted by: chance47 | 05/10/2013

Flashcard Insomnia – Vancouver Part 1

“My hands were pulsing way above my head.  A position that I can’t say I was used to.  But when among the company of the Chinese and Korean-Canadian Mafia you had only one choice.  Convince them you are having a great-major-rocking-fun-fun-time.”

 

vancouver

I just woke up about an hour ago.  Insomnia has grabbed hold.  But I woke up with an old memory fresh and resurrected again.

A few years ago my best friend (Lauren) and I took an amazing cultural and culinary tour of the Pacific Northwest.  Specifically Seattle and Vancouver.   It was the first vacation I had been on in over a decade.  It also happens to be the best vacation I have ever had.  I could blog and blog about the food we ate.  The drinks we imbibed.  It was all amazing.  But, to be honest, the memory holding strongest to me now is of me in a strange basement, pretending to be drugged up, dancing for my life and praying I knew how to get back to my hotel room.

I had never felt so alive.

I had an inner mantra while taking this vacation.  “When in Rome.”

I didn’t care how much money I spent…what I ate…how far I walked (AND BELIEVE FUCKING ME IN SEATTLE THAT MEANS SOMETHING).

seattle hillsLauren, for her part, had a similar, yet modified mantra.  She was long committed to a lovely (SEE:  I can’t-stand-him-secretly-adore-him-not-so-secretly-love-him-but-despise-him-because-it-is-funny) man. So she ate, spent, walked, and danced with me wherever we went.  She also encouraged me to “meet” new people.  I had a great wingperson.

While in Seattle I did what Romans do.  I danced until near dawn and then shagged a Seattlite named Joe rotten until the sun came up.   Hey!   It was vacation.  What happens in the pacific northwest…needs to be blogged about.

With Joe behind me…figuratively not literally…Lauren and I headed to Vancouver.  We had days of food, drinks, culture and fun.  On one of our final nights we decided to visit Vancouver’s version of Boystown-Chicago.  It was as gay and brazen as Chicago…it just happened to end at 2 A.M. regardless of the night (who knew??????).  Lauren and I had danced our asses off at a bass-thumping, pulse-pounding gay mecca until near close.  A couple we had met…a STRAIGHT COUPLE…because in Vancouver not only are they that cool but it was the only place they could go to dance without being molested (IMAGINE)…had mentioned an after party.   I was game.   Lauren was exhausted.  As was the male counterpart of the couple we met.   But Alison and I (yes I strangely remember her name) were ready to keep dancing.  She told me she knew of an after hours party.  It moved around, but went until dawn.  Lauren made sure I had cash for a cab and had my phone on me and bid me farewell.  As did Alison’s’ husband.

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Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012-300x375

I initially kept myself from reviewing “Hannibal” on NBC for several reasons.   None of those reasons happened to be Bryan Fuller.   I have never made it a secret that I think he is the most talented television EP and creator currently working.   He devises such amazing shows full of sumptuous performances, saliva inducing scenery, savory visuals, and tart-tangy-yum-yum dialogue.  In short…I would eat Bryan Fuller up.  I kept myself from reviewing the show because I wanted to see how it would hold up.  I’m glad I waited.

“Hannibal” takes what he does at his most fanciful and combines it with his more macabre sensibilities that he has explored in “Dead Like Me” and “Heroes” (SEASON 1 ONLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  I have long been a fan of Mr. Fuller.   I still hold his “Wonderfalls” and “Pushing Daisies” in my top ten television series of all times (remind to make that list at some point).

Fuller’s “Hannibal” may soon find itself within that very same top ten.  The performances are uniformly superb.  The production values STELLAR.  I could go on about concurrent themes, the use of food imagery and the all around CREEPITUDE that the show exudes, but I fear it would turn into a dissertation.

Fans of “Silence of The Lambs”, “Hannibal”, or “Red Dragon” (or even the superb “Manhunter” featuring Brian Cox) will not be dissuaded by this show’s interpretation of the source material.

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Posted by: chance47 | 05/07/2013

Soothe Of The Day

No matter my stress…no matter how hard…heh…or tense…There is a great equalizer.

936full-michael-fassbender (1)

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