“I’ve had so many knives stuck into me, when they hand me a flower I can’t quite make out what it is. It takes time.”
― Charles Bukowski

We spend our lives discarding things until there’s nothing left to toss away. We are the snake perpetually shedding its skin. Friendships, lovers, addiction, food, morals, children, pride, money, memories, ethics, kindness, and rage. Hours to days to years to decades, a lifetime of erasing who we are, who we were. Who we don’t want to be anymore.

We achieve gain from loss. We sell to buy. Burn to build again. Kill to induce change. Maybe that’s the natural evolution of the mind and heart, the unending desire to slice off parts of us to combat and transform our relentless fatigue. The parts that don’t matter. The diseased parts.

I wonder where all these lost and outdated things go to plead then die. Maybe it’s a surreal hell, a bottomless canyon of lonely gadgets, twisted souls, piles of forgotten intentions, plastic bones, and toxic silence. Humans and inanimate objects united in the suffocating truth of not being needed anymore. Screams buried in ash and shadow. A compass stuck pointing south.

There are times when we should throw something away but can’t find the strength to do so. That same addiction some defeat continues to haunt and harass others. A bored partner who doesn’t feel nor offer love anymore but the other still does and always will, to the detriment of both. The depressed folks who crave simplicity of thought inside a tranquil mind but never find it. There are winners and losers in every situation. When we discard things, the resulting effect will be either pleasure or pain, depending on the value assigned. All shiny objects eventually dull and must be exchanged for something polished, luminous, and unique. It is the cycle of distraction, this compulsion of ours to lose and replace, subtract and add.

The only question to be answered is whether we care about the things we leave behind. Or if we should. Or if we ever did.

Does a snake grieve for old skin on those dark, empty nights in the hole?


[This will be my last post for a bit. It’s time to unplug from the online world in an attempt to recharge the creative batteries and whatnot. Plus, I’m just burned out on writing and all things digital and artificial. Keep writing. Keep striving. And you best vote for Clinton. Seriously, Trump is a racist misogynist who would destroy this country. This should be obvious to all.]












El Niño



I’ve never been the type of person who gets all that upset when a celebrity/famous person passes away. I didn’t know them, it’s easy to be indifferent when you aren’t connected to someone. I might quote them on social media to show respect and whatnot but I’m not hurting or traumatized. But yesterday’s news shattered me.

José Fernández died in a boating accident. José Fernández, 24 years old. José Fernández, beloved pitcher for the Miami Marlins. José Fernández, who suffered tremendous hardship just to make it to the USA from his birthplace of Cuba. José Fernández, the kid with the electric arm and smile-inducing charm. José Fernández, a superstar.


The handsome hurler was the kind of pitcher you rooted for even if he was facing your favorite team. His repertoire of pitches was nasty as hell, and his energy and kid-like enthusiasm were infectious. He could wow us with a wicked curveball and make us smile with his endearing goofiness. Even the get-off-my-lawn old-timers were like yeah, that kid’s pretty freaking awesome. He had that rare ability to melt the hardest of baseball souls. José Fernández was the main attraction every time he toed the rubber. We were all mesmerized by his sick strikeouts and his genuine joy for the game. He played baseball the right way.

Yesterday was difficult. I got emotional a few times throughout the day because a man I never met died unexpectedly. He was so young. So talented. So happy. The silly boy inside me will miss him. The jaded adult inside me will miss him. He was unique and awe-inspiring and warm-hearted. He will never be forgotten.


José Fernández served time in a Cuban prison for attempting to defect to America. He once rescued his mother, who fell overboard during the voyage that ultimately proved successful. He dove into turbulent seas to save his mom. Come on. I can barely save chicken thighs in a Tupperware bowl, and this remarkable human being risked his own life for someone he loved. He was an inspirational and courageous man.


The baseball world is mourning the loss of a phenom who brought flair and authentic exuberance to the diamond. I can’t fully articulate my thoughts at the moment because this tragic news is so very shocking and sad. But I have been soothed by the responses of fans and other baseball players on Twitter. There is a ton of pain being expressed, as well as some wonderful memories. Baseball will never be quite the same without José Fernández.

Rest in peace, kid.




A Game of Submission

Alcohol Vapor

“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.”
― Harper Lee


A pattern has revealed itself on social media over the last few months that makes me feel uneasy and a bit suspicious. My view on this matter might not be a popular one, but it’s something I take seriously. To be fair, the folks alluded to below are good people and they’re talented, this is not an indictment of their ability to create, to craft an engaging tale.


1- Writer befriends editor of respected journal/lit mag on Twitter.

2- Writer chats up that editor. Humorous anecdotes, sports talk, books, etc…

3- Writer sends a story to his/her new BFF editor.

4- Writer announces he/she is thrilled to have that story accepted by the above-mentioned editor.


1A- Having friendships with editors is fine.

2A- Sending them a story after conversing with them is not fine. It’s bad form.

3A- It’s a cheap way to enhance your chances of a future publication. Was it the story or your friendship that led to the acceptance? A combination of both?

4A- Let your writing speak for itself. Write a story. Send it out to magazines. That’s it. Don’t pollute the process.


I feel it’s imperative to honor the submission protocol by letting our integrity trump the obsessive goal that we all have as writers to get a story published, especially if that journal is considered hip and/or esteemed. Validation is a seductress. But you have to earn the addictive nectar she holds in her palm, you can’t use chicanery to pry it from her grip. We should be judged solely on the potency of our stories, not the self-serving connections we’ve engineered on social media.

I haven’t been writing much lately because of the nonsense I see on social media. The same writers tweeting the same writers at the same journals. The writing community can be a bit cliquish, narcissistic, and repetitive. Every story is “phenomenal” because it’s perceived as nice when you tell someone that their work is great. But it’s dishonest if it’s not the truth. It’s not nice or supportive to compliment a story just to play the kind and courteous game.

Popularity is not a goal of mine. I’ve seen writers blow up on Twitter because they have invested vast amounts of time and energy in building a following, which is fine on the surface. They know that if they relentlessly praise other writers, regardless of authenticity, they will receive the same praise back when a story/poem is published. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty smart to do that if you’re chasing accolades. But what if you’re chasing honesty? Some of these writers are truly gifted, I admire their talent. They deserve the spotlight. Others are a product of wireless manipulation, vigorous self-promotion, and a dollop of plastic acclaim. Popularity should be a result of exceptional writing, not the machinations of a duplicitous impostor.

This also applies outside of the digital world. Folks who are always overly polite. Folks who think saying extremely positive things to the point of redundancy is proper and noble. Sincere kindness is a wonderful thing, it brightens the soul. Artificial kindness is emotional terrorism, it darkens the soul. Maybe I’m being hyperbolic, but deception lurking in a compliment is both harmful and unacceptable. Tell people the truth, not what you think they want to hear. You can soften the blow if you want, but be honest and direct. How can we grow as writers and humans if we’re being spoon fed a diet of fraudulent or exaggerated praise?

It’s okay if you don’t enjoy a story of mine. It’s okay if you don’t like me for whatever reason. But shoot straight with your words. Tell me I’m a hack. Tell me I’m a raging, selfish prick. Tell me I’m ridiculously handsome and charming and a “phenomenal” writer. Tell me you secretly desire to poison me with a delicious cocktail of antifreeze and grape Kool-Aid.

Just be honest.





Star Spangled Blather


“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

― Elie Wiesel

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, chose not to stand for the national anthem during an exhibition game. He gave a rational and profound reason for doing so. He broke no law. He exercised his 1st amendment right. He did not physically assault anyone. He did not murder anyone. And, as expected, white folks blew a gasket. They took to social media and eviscerated him with an antiquated savagery usually reserved for the worst of the worst in our society. His crime? Not standing for a silly song. Insanity. Four out of thousands of horrific tweets are below. It was a like a digital KKK meeting. 



The connection between sporting events, nationalism, and the worship of all things military is baffling to me. We take our families to enjoy a day at the stadium and feast on nachos, hot dogs, and the physical prowess of our favorite players. We root root root for the home team. Or, in my case, the away team because I’m a rabid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Nationals. We indulge in over-priced beer with our friends. We escape the monotony of life by distracting ourselves with a dose of loyal, authentic fandom. The last thing on our minds should be empty, worthless gestures of patriotism. We shouldn’t be forced to take part in a ritual that has nothing to do with blasting home runs, tossing a touchdown, or eating popcorn and snow cones.

Standing for a song written by a massive racist slave owner, Francis Scott Key, might seem patriotic to a majority of folks. And those same folks probably have zero empathy for the plight of black Americans, how being oppressed for centuries impacts and changes your vision of this country and its customs, its white privileged patriotism. How exactly does a song show devotion to your country? How does standing up like a sheep highlight your respect for veterans? Ask yourself why you stand during the national anthem. Could it be you’ve been programmed since you were a child to stand at football games? Do you also play the anthem when you’re at home chilling on the couch? Do you play the anthem when you go to church? Do you play the anthem at a wedding? Do you play the anthem when you’re at work? No, but you must stand at a Bengals game on a lazy Sunday or you’re disrespecting veterans and your beloved USA. Please.

Colin Kaepernick is a courageous man. He said no to tradition. He said no to having senseless pride in a bigoted song. And why did he decide to protest?

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

He wanted to shine a spotlight on police brutality, the unjust treatment of blacks by those in positions of authority. If you read his quote and still think he was wrong, then shame on you. The racists love to say that black folks, especially the #BlackLivesMatter movement, are too violent when they protest. They burn cities to the ground! They assault innocent people! They loot! Well, Colin Kaepernick protested peacefully and quietly and white America still raged. It makes not a bit of sense.

I have respect for veterans. I understand and appreciate the service they’ve provided for our country. They fight and protect while I read and write. I would never question their bravery and character. But coercing us to honor them at sporting events is beyond the pale. If you truly want to show your pride and/or admiration, why not send a care package overseas to military personnel? Why not donate money and time to help veterans who struggle when they return home? Many suffer from PTSD and addiction, and some end up on the streets. Help them if you’re so concerned about saluting veterans. But no, folks would rather trash a football player than actually do something positive. Race, as always, plays a significant role in how we digest a situation and react to it. In 2016, we’re annihilating a man for the inspiring act of remaining true to his longstanding personal convictions. White folks hate when a black man/woman speaks out, especially when they also refuse to bleed red, white, and blue just because it’s some warped artificial tradition.

We are not obligated to do anything, we are a free people. Don’t walk with the herd, don’t drink from the community well. Voice your beliefs without being concerned with the opinions and ridicule of others. Veterans deserve respect, as do teachers, mental health workers, philosophers, scientists, artists, Colin Kaepernick, and so many others. There’s room on the pedestal for folks not wearing camouflage and medals.

Love your country and military with the entirety of your heart if that’s your thing. But don’t mock and denigrate others who may not share your fervor for a nation with a history steeped in rampant prejudice.





Beautiful Misfit



In layman’s terms, the goal is for a clinician to be able to take a person in crisis and read him like a book. Even when they have to read between the lines.


Recently, I stumbled upon an article in Cincinnati Magazine regarding suicide and the search for a solution of sorts, a way to predict who might be most at risk. With the use of computer programs, video recordings, and actual suicide notes, the scientists, doctors, and researchers hope to identify various word patterns and phrasing that will pinpoint when a person is on the brink of taking his/her own life. To examine and decipher the words of someone having dark thoughts is an intriguing concept, and one with the potential to reduce future suicide attempts. Hopefully, this creative approach proves effective.

I admire the folks mentioned in the article for devoting so much energy and passion into helping those struggling with mental health issues. It’s a fascinating and insightful piece. Also, the title of this post was pulled from the article, it was part of a suicide note when a gentleman referred to himself as a beautiful misfit. A haymaker to my soul.

You can read the article here


How can you tell when another human has moved beyond ordinary despair or sadness or frustration or confusion, and in defiance of his body’s biological imperative to survive, is at risk of ending his life?










If Stephen King (Richard Bachman) ever pens a sequel to his chilling Thinner, I might be in the running to have the lead character based on my last few months. Well, minus the implementation of a gypsy curse as a dark tool of vengeance. And a strawberry/blood pie to share with the family.


Weight Loss Update

March – 216 lbs.
June—   199 lbs.
August- 189 lbs.
Total Weight Shed = 27 lbs.


How a Depressive Dissolves Hunks of Fat

1- Refrain from consuming frozen dinners of any variety.

2- Pine for disappeared things for hours, days, a fortnight.

3- No cola, soda, pop, ultra-sweet tea, sugar in coffee etc…

4- Introduce your body to the couch, as Luther Vandross plays tenderly in the background.

5- Avoid fast food. The ease of grabbing a prepared meal is eclipsed by the future hardening of your arteries. And your heart will probably explode when you turn 52.

6- Rage against society, hypocrisy, dishes in the sink, unrequited love, yourself.

7- Incorporate fruits and vegetables as best you can. Salted caramel gelato is neither fruit nor vegetable, sadly.

8- Dwell intensely on what could have been.

9- Guacamole. Eat it while nude. Eat it when crying. Eat it to forget. Just eat it for the rest of your days.

10- Continue to play the fool, it’s a good look.

11- Portion control. Portion control. Portion control.

12- Use bird bones to spell her name on the floor of your bedroom.

13- It takes a couple of weeks to develop a pattern of eating. Be patient. Because after those opening weeks, it becomes much easier to stay on point. I rarely think about junk food anymore.

14- Imagine what flavor of e-liquid she would be when you vape like a fiend. Strawberries & cream with a hint of quinoa, a splash of debilitating silence?

15- If you fail, it’s okay. Try again. Be persistent. Set a realistic goal and pursue it with a steadfast confidence.

Do the above things and you will be on your way to becoming a new you. A rearranged you.

A Thinner you. (Cue spooky piano)