Sunday, February 28, 2010

Let's try this again

Rewrite for first part of Vacations from Raised by White Trash

Growing up we went on a lot of vacations. More precisely we repeated the exact same vacation a lot of times. If you're the type of person not interested in geologic wonders, historic points of interest or any culture other than your own it's a good way to spend a few weeks every summer.

One night some time n the late seventies at a family dinner enjoyed while sitting in the car at a drive in restaurant our parents told us they had bought a cabin at the lake. The lake of course being the Lake of the Ozarks an enormous body of water in southern Missouri not far from Branson. I thought about this as I ate the onion rings I had slipped over my fingers. A habit that has left me with two burn scars. I loved the idea of having a lake house. You know a little second home we could run off to when the pressures of our small town got to be too much. "What did you do this weekend?" my classmates would ask. "Oh" I would reply adding a pause a bit dreamily but still somehow non-chalant " we spent a few days at the lake house"

"Let's go there now!" my brother yelled through a mouthful of fries.

"Splendid idea" I chimed in. The word splendid was one that I was trying to incorporate into my regular speech. I don't know where I picked it up but I do remember it replaced the word "capital".

"It's a school night and it's not going to be ours for a few more weeks" my mother replied.

This made me suspicious. "Why won't it be ours?" I asked just a little bit frantically "Is there someone living in it? if it's our house why can't we just go whenever we want to?". I was beginning to worry that they had been taken advantage of. Somehow tricked into buying a house that wasn't really for sale.

"No, nobody lives in it. It's only for vacations" my mom tried to explain.

"Do you have to wait until you get paid? How much did it cost?" I demanded. She ignored me on the question of price but instead said "Buying property isn't like buying a car. It takes a few weeks to close the deal".

This is sounding better and better. Not just a lake house but property and there was a deal being made. "Will we be able to bring friends?" Not that I had a lot of friends I wanted to expose to my family but maybe a summer property would ease the blow a little.

"Well", my mom calculated "the cabin sleeps nine and we can bring the camper for eight more". Nine people!? this place must be huge! I may not remember it correctly but I think my respect for my stepfather went up a little. Think of it. A Summer House.... on the lake.

To be fair I was never told it was an actual house. It was always referred to as a cabin. In my excitement and imagination I had added the house part myself. My memory started to correct as we got closer to the lake I still didn't see any actual houses. I did see mobile homes though. Dirty lonely ones set back in yards cut out of the surrounding woods. I started to get anxious. This was not going to be splendid.

When we found the lot it was situated off the side of an old highway. There was no driveway so we did the classy thing and just drove off the shoulder and right into the front yard. We parked in the shade of a honey locust tree. A pretty name for a tree that created an unending supply of long spikey thorns. These three to six inch long harpoons were solid enough to puncture tennis shoes, flip flops and the the front right tire of the family car.

The cabin itself had three different colors of shingles and the two windows facing us didn't match. It was way to small to be a house at best it could be though tof as a largish shed. "Well" I thought to myself "At least it's not a trailer". I had been taught that there was nothing worse than "trailer trash" and that somehow even with all evidence to the contrary we were superior to people who lived in mobile homes.

I tried to rescue some sense of satisfaction by telling myself that if we ever bothered to meet the neighbors they would probably say "Oh, you're the ones with the actual house". They would probably envy us and want to seek shelter within our real and solid building. The first sign of a strong wind they would be huddled in the front yard begging to be let in. We would allow this of course because we respected all types of people. Even the inferior white trash forced to live in flimsy homes with wheels. Or at least once had wheels.

It's generally accepted that people can cry when in the presence of intense beauty like a painting. an amazing sunset or the birth of a legitimate child. I was thinking of this and how the opposite of beauty can have the same effect. A tear ran down my cheek. This was not splendid at all.

The inside of the cabin was about four hundred square feet with walls alternating dark wood paneling, dry wall, a bluish off panel and to tie it all together cracked plaster the color of diseased toenails. I suggested we take the paneling off the walls so maybe we could at least paint it all one color. Of course we couldn't because there were no walls behind the panels.

For lighting there was one bare bulb hanging from the right half of the ceiling and a circular fluorescent tube for the left. Neither had glass globes over them nor did they give off much light. This didn't matter too much since the far wall has dominated but a Pabst Blue Ribbon sign meant for outdoors. Because the signs original purpose was to draw broke rednecks from miles away to purchase cheap beer it gave off plenty of light. In a twist of irony it was the only light bright enough to read under.

The kitchen was the size of a medium sized walk in closet. The bonus to this was we would never really expected to help out with food preparation. There was simply not enough room for more than one person in there. The stove was a leaky gas adaption that didn't kill us outright but probably helped us sleep at night. Come to think of it it may have something to do with the low test scores my nephews seem to have in school to this day.

There was a bathroom complete with a sheet metal shower stall that shifted with body weight. Move back and forth fast enough and you could recreate the sounds of a thunderstorm. For convenience there was no door. Instead there was a thick plastic folding curtain that never opened or closed all the way.

The cabin came furnished and, true to my mothers word, it was technically able to sleep nine people. One full sized bed and three ancient fold out sofa beds all smelling of dust and mold. Guest number nine would be sleeping on what we called the chair bed. The chair bed was the least comfortable but most coveted since it the only bed you didn't have to share with a gassy relative.

Not long after arriving an elderly couple appeared at the side of the highway that made up the property line of the front yard. She was wearing a denim sundress that allowed dimpled doughy under wave in the breeze. The man next to her was dressed in overalls, a white t-shirt and a blue and white striped baseball cap. He looked like someone was trying to pass him off as an old time train engineer.

My stepdad introduced himself and shook hands and pointed at each of us and recited our names and social position in the family. "yep" the man seemed to agree with who my stepdad thought we were. Then he continued as though halfway through a speech. "My brother built that place 'bout 15 years ago. He weren't no god for much and drank too much to keep a good job so he just made it out of scraps he brought home from job sites."

"We offered to help him get himself a good trailer but he wanted to do it himself. We got a phone if you have an emergency..." This was the wife speaking. I don't remember what followed. Something about property lines and trees but I was having some realizations that didn't sit well with me.

For one these people weren't jealous of us for having a the only house for miles. They pitied us for not having a trailer. "Hey we have a real house we live in all the time" I wanted to say just to let them know we were still better than they were. Before I could speak up the phrase "...made it from scraps he brought home..." was starting to take full effect.

Today a home made of recycled or reclaimed materials is very trendy and I would probably be proud to own one. A few summers before we had built a fort in a tree from scavenged boards and that was really cool. I guess it's all a matter of context. This wasn't a clever construction project this was a house made of trash. Not even a house! Just a cabin. And even that was an exaggeration. Not splendid... no not splendid at all.

After a few bloody mishaps with giant thorns and my generally sour mood our mother decided we were underfoot and sent us to see the lake. "Why don't you kids go down to the water. Just follow the road. Come back before it gets dark". If she ever thought it wasn't a good idea to send young children down a highway to a large body of water unattended she never let it show. She probably had a lot of confidence in our abilities to handle problems or her own ability to replace us if she needed to.

When we went camping I always liked hanging around the boat docks or going swimming so this perked me up. I guess even though we weren't "on" the lake we were at least "at" the lake. All was not a complete loss.

There was no boat dock, though, and no swimming beach just the highway plunging directly into the water. I knew on some level that the lake had been made by damming rivers and flooding valleys but this was the most obvious evidence I had ever seen of the process. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal but when I was five years old my parents had taken me to see Deliverance at the drive in. The "squeal like a pig" scene didn't scar me like it probably should have but the very last few seconds of the movie did.

If you haven't seen it or don't remember the last scene of the movie is a hand, obviously belonging to a corpse, shooting up out of the water of the calm waters of the newly made lake. A lake made from flooding a town. A lake like the one I was now looking at. Now even the lake part of having a lake house was ruined for me.

That first night I lay awake under the blankets that we hadn't been able to sell at garage sales and tried not to freeze. Every sound outside came from an imaginary Deliverance lake corpse that could easily get through walls made of wood paneling if they knew we were there. How could they do this to us? I wondered. What did we do to deserve this terrible place.

Then I remembered last years vacation

Thursday, February 18, 2010

As important as it is to have good friends to turn to for companionship or in a time of crisis it's at least equally important to have a good enemy. For people like me it's perhaps more important.

A friend is someone you can vent to but a good enemy gives you someone to vent about. The right enemy can even create stronger friendships and even prolong a love connection. It's often said, usually by me, that a good relationship isn't based on liking the same things but on hating the same things. For example if you both like Dutch Paintings but one of you likes composition and subject matter but the other likes color pallet or painting style you can still hang your Vermeer in the grand dining room but there will still be friction as to why it's there.

Not so with shared hate though. One of you can claim "I hate her shoes" the other can respond "I can't stand how she talks" you then declare "she's a nasty slut" then you can't argue with "She's so stupid I hope she gets hit by a truck". Unlike a work of art you don't have to agree on the specifics of why you hate the person. Those differences somehow melt away when on the negative side of the spectrum. You're a united front and closer for it.

For me it's especially important to have an enemy to take the brunt of negative energy and dark thoughts that seem to multiply in my psyche like evil bunnies. Basically I have to have someone to think ill of so if I don't have someone I don't like to direct it at then I end up directing it at someone I actually care about or at least related to.

Going to school in a small town means it's not unusual to see people that are best friends one year to be enemies the next and then in high school they go to prom together. I had those kinds of enemies but I also found a really good one that lasted for years. I can still remember the exact moment he came into my life.

In third grade we were given short stories to read that would have some sort of moral overtone we would then discuss as a group in class. Our first one was about a shopkeeper from the late 1800's who finds himself being bullied by the illiterate wagon driver that delivered the products to the shop. The wagon driver was physically abusive and most importantly would tap into the barrels of whiskey drinking down a good portion of it. The shopkeeper being tired of the abuse ordered a barrel of wood alcohol that looked exactly the same as the whiskey barrels except for the label. Since of course the wagon driver couldn't read he drank the wood alcohol and subsequently dropped dead.

To me the moral side was obvious! If you're stupid and abusive someone will poison you. It's also a good lesson on not pissing off the people who touch your food before you do.The teacher was not content on my assessment and decided for good measure she would ask the entire class one by one if they thought what the shopkeeper did was right or wrong. Most of us agreed that what he did was right and justified and that he didn't really kill the mean man it was more of an accidental suicide. Admittedly with a little help from our hero the shopkeeper. One of us did not agree though. James Bilby.

Because our last names were similar we were seated next to each other. He had been writing or drawing and so hadn't looked up during most of the discussion. When the teacher got to him he said "The shopkeeper is wrong because it's never ok to kill anyone".

Even then I knew that just wasn't so. At that age I had a short list of situations where it was ok to kill. 1. if someone kills your parents or someone in your family, 2. Someone is going to kill you 3. you're at war". I'm still proud of how insightful I was at the time and still stand by convictions. However the list of reasons that make it okl someone has grown to include such things as "taking your parking space two days in a row, wearing a mullet and asking me why I'm single". I've also lightened up a little on the "killing someone in your family" exclusion.

It was at that moment I made James my official nemesis. There was just something about his arrogance and confidence about something he was so obviously and completely wrong about that made me crazy. It was that moment I looked at him too. I mean really looked at him. He wore jeans and a t-shirt like the rest of us but his t-shirt was more like underwear. He was pasty white with curly mousy blond hair that looked like it belonged on an abandoned doll. He was always shiny because of a thin film of sweat or oil that covered him no matter what the weather. None of these things were his fault of course and there was no good reason for it but at some visceral level I just hated him.

That Fall the school held a parent teacher conference. This was an annual occurrence that I always assumed my mother and stepfather would rather avoid so being the thoughtful kid I was I made sure not to let them know when it was. I didn't count on my brother having the same notes sent home. So this year we all went.

There's something surreal about your classroom at night. The windows you normally look out of all day are now darkened. Now instead of the playground and trees you see yourself and the room reflecting the room back to you contorted in the cheap glass. The corners now had shadows in them covering up the lint and hair that was normally collected there. Even our teacher was wearing a dress with big blousey sleeves, make up and had gotten rid of her glasses for the evening. This felt like a betrayal to me somehow. Like she was trying to make school look better than it actually was. A little bit older and I would have pretended not to know her. I would have looked her in the eye and said "your voice sounds familiar but I really can't place the face". I wasn't that quick yet so I just resented her in silence.

While we waited around for my parents turn to talk to the teacher I started noting the other families and my classmates parents. I was surprised at how old they were. Did some of these people bring their grandmothers? Were we supposed to bring ours? My confusion makes more sense when you realize my mother was twenty four and my grandmother was not yet forty years old.

It didn't take long to realize it was more than the age of the adults that made my family not like the others. First of all a lot of the kids looked like miniature versions of at least one of their parents. I however didn't look anything like the adults I was with. For me this was a little more evidence for my "swapped at birth" theory. Secondly in other families everyone had the same last name. I realized immediately how much more convenient that would be also saw it as a loss of individuality at home.

When it was my moms turn to talk to the teacher I showed my little brother where I sat and the contents of my desk. I was about to show him how well the sharp point of a compass could etch the fiberboard our desks were made of when a shadow blotted out the fluorescent light. "Oh is this your desk, Jim?". James was there with his parents. This gave me the opportunity
pass unfair judgment on them too.

Even if they hadn't walked up to his desk I would have had no problem spotting them in a crowd. They were merely older shinier versions of James. His mother had the thin blond hair that was probably clean but looked dirty and his father was completely bald. They both had the small turned up noses James did. In my mind I dubbed them Porky and Petunia the pigs from the Warner Brothers cartoons. Though technically a Petunia should be a brunette.

My stepdad knew the father and told me later that the family owned and operated a large animal processing business. The business wasn't large the animals they processed were. It was where people took a cow, a pig or a deer to be made into little freezer packets wrapped in white paper. Maybe they've just grown to look like the animals they've slaughtered for so long. This took on special significance when we read Animal Farm.

At the parent conference meeting Porky and Petunia had somehow gotten it into their minds that James was special and argued with the teacher for special classes in math. This was so they could advance his "spark of genius". I was sure I had a spark of genius but since nobody was willing to argue the point for me I had to take the same lessons as the rest of the dumb kids. Oh well, I didn't like math that much anyway. James was given a fake stock portfolio to invest in and every day he would look at the Wall Street Journal and track his fake wealth. This segregated him from the rest of the class and added more to his general weirdness.

I didn't have him in class in fourth grade but fifth grade had us sitting next to each other yet again. Our teacher, Ms. Sobanski, was sort of a cliche teacher type. Her hair was colored a shade of black so unnatural it looked as though she colored it in herself with a magic marker. Her permanent gray roots would stripe her head right down a part that was in a different position every day. I'm sure she thought where it was didn't matter since nobody paid attention to such things. The gay kid in the 2nd row did pay attention to such things and even wrote it down in a notebook for future reflection.

Ms. Sobanski lived in a tiny row home that my bus passed by every day on the way to school. Often times I'd see her leaving for school or coming home. She always wore dresses printed with tiny flowers on a background of off white that was roughly the color of smokers teeth. Her shoes were three colors of exactly the same style. They looked like blocks of wood with the material from old car seats held together with rusting buckles. It looked as though she was able to dress herself entirely in materials she found laying around an old farmhouse.

As fascinating as I found her fashion sense and living situation I never really thought much else about Ms Sobanski. I hadn't even taken the time to make up a nasty nickname for her since she came with one already installed.

Our fifth grade classrooms were connected to each other by a hallway and a little meeting room so it was decided that since we couldn't go outside during recess and because we were all going crazy that we would have a math competition between the two classes to blow off some steam education style.

Our class was very excited since we had James who was well known for being the math genius. Who even had special assignments because he was a genius. James however told the teacher that he didn't want to play with us because he didn't like competing. The teachers agreed it was ok and he retreated to his math corner, his version of Canada so he could avoid the upcoming conflict. Even I was disappointed that our ringer had wussed out. "Come on" I thought "you're nearly eleven years old. Be a man"

The rules of the contest were simple. One student from each class would go to either side of the chalkboard and one of the teachers would read aloud an algebra problem. The first one to write the answer correctly would win a point for their team. They teams were too evenly matched and the score was tied or close to it most of the time. It was getting boring and the kids were getting restless.

To spice it up the other teacher, Mrs. Baker, the teacher that I had hoped I'd get all the previous Summer, made the problems more complex. It was also decided that the person who won got to stay up at the board competing against the students This made for champions and real competition. It also added the the regret I had at not having Mrs. Baker for a teacher since now she knew how to appeal to my competitive side.

Before I could get called up to the board Marcus Johnson from the other team had taken out 10 of my classmates. My side decided it was time to pull in our ringer and started chanting "Bilby, Bilby .. . He ignored us as though he were deaf and continued to work on his math assignment. It wasn't until Ms Sobanski walked over and leaned down to him and asked him to do it that he gave in and approached the board. Marcus Johnsons winning streak ended there and Jameses started.

In almost no time at all the 25 students that were our competition fell to James and his superior math ability. It was obvious he was superior and the other team had pretty much given up. Then a girl from my class I vaguely remember being named Stacy yells out "Make Steve go up against James". I thought "Steve Hedges is dumb he wont' last up there". But everyone knew that . No that's the not the Steve they meant. They were all looking at me...including Steve Hedges.

Later I asked Stacy why she did that. Why she wanted me up there competing against a math genius. I was hoping it was because she saw in me a spark of genius nobody else did. Or that she believed in me and only I could come to save the class. Of course it could have just as easily been that she had singled me out to fail. It was none of these things instead She replied "because everyone knows you hate him". It wasn't the reason I thought but it was certainly one I could respect. It seems Stacy had an evil streak not unlike my own.

Jameses strategy was to write out the problem as it was being read and start to do the problem in his head as he wrote it. My strategy was to let him write it and guess the answer before he did. I had done some math of a sort in my head and realized I couldn't really lose. After all if I didn't get the problem solved before he did it was no big deal since everyone else up 'til now had lost too right? There was no shame in losing against a genius.

I went up to the chalk board and found the longest piece of chalk in the tray. Jameses face was impassive so I looked at him and smiled and said "Hi James!" and waved. The combined classes laughed. I could pretend it was a calculated gesture meant to unnerve him in the spirit of competition but really I was just being a dick.

We each lifted our chalk ready for the problem and I moved my feet apart in a pseudo karate stance. Ms. Sobanski slowly read the problem, James started to write out the numbers and I just guessed at the answer and scribbled it on the board.

I got it right. Both classes yelled in triumph! They weren't teams facing each other anymore. It was them and me against the smart kid. This is probably what it felt like to score the winning goal or shoot the winning basket. Two things I've yet to experience.

The losing math genius who had proclaimed not to be competitive turned red and stomped his foot and yelled "that's not fair he didn't show his work!". This was the first time any of us had ever seen him have any type of emotional outbreak. "HA" he was a fake. and now I knew it. He wasn't heard over the cheering so he said it again to the teacher "That's not fair he didn't show his work". I stated that showing work wasn't part of the rules and I couldn't have cheated off of him since I got the answer before he did. Looking back I should have said "WAY before he did" just to make the barb sink in a little bit more but being quick to annoy people was a skill that still needed developing.

It was a very satisfying moment to see him there having a melt down because I had beaten him at what he thought was best at. But that moment didn't last long. I saw him standing there in his short sleeved white collared shirt he had started wearing sometime in the past year and khaki pants with white tennis shoes his fat rolls stacked perfectly on top of each other like the cartoon spokesman used to sell tires. As he complained to the teacher wearing a flower print polyester dress and off white naugahyde shoes her fat rolls also stacked on top of each other like the wife of the cartoon spokesman used to sell tires I knew I was in trouble. They looked so much like each other that I knew she would take his side.

"Ok let's do it again because it was close" Ms. Sobanski announced. The classes were in an uproar of "no fair" and "He lost!". I didn't fool myself into believing the kids wanted to see me win I knew they just wanted to see him lose. I went somber since I didn't know if I could pull this off again. I looked at him.. went from somber to a smile that didn't quite reach the rest of my face a look I had probably picked up subconsciously from Richard Nixon and said "ok, let's go". That smile flustered James even more and I took note of that fact for future reference.

Ms Sabanski read the problem, James wrote it down, I guessed. In seconds we both wrote the same answer at the same time. This guessing system was really working! My drive to annoy someone I thought of as an enemy has surpassed my meager math skills. But this time it really was technically a tie. We were given another problem, James wrote it, I guessed it. Another tie. You could feel the tension mounting in the air. And since there were 50 kids in one classroom on a humid and rainy day you could smell the tension too. Everyone went silent in anticipation.

Another math problem, longer this time. James wrote it out as the teacher read it. She paused and I guessed and wrote an answer. Then that ugly, poorly dressed probably celibate teacher added a second part to the problem. James didn't have an answer yet since he was still writing out the problem. I had already guessed, so I lost. It was obvious I had been set up so there were a lot of "you really won" and "She is such a cheater" in the halls and during class over the next week. I had the feeling I had won and lost at the same time. A unique feeling few people ever experience. When Al Gore had the presidential elections stolen from him I felt like the only person in the world that could know how he felt.

I never found out if James thought he deserved the win and Ms. Sabanski never said anything to me about it either. When asked he would just say that he did it faster and would walk away if he could or just put on the deaf act he was so good at. He never defended himself and never fought back. This refusal to stand up for himself didn't sit well with our classmates.

I think fifth grade is when the cruel gene is activated. James was now everyones target not just mine. Nobody wanted to actually physically attack someone they knew wouldn't fight back but there was a general feeling of needing to get him. The opportunity came a few days later when one of the other boys farted. As the rest of the class giggled, pinched their noses shut and made makeshift surgical masks out of t-shirts someone yelled "James did it". From that moment on James always did it since he was the only one who would never deny it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

random things today.

Watching a commercial on a new suv with dvd players in the back seats with headphone jacks for each seat I had to wonder what my white relatives thought in their covered wagon from Kentucky to Missouri. Where they proud of their top of the line wagon with actual shocks and spare wooden wheel? Did they show off with pride the modern color of their canvas cover? I could imagine them dreaming of flat paved roads and of places where they could stop for a quick bite to eat or spend the night. Windows and soft seats probably crossed their minds as well. I guess it's good they didn't know they couldn't live without CD players, Radios or DVD Players... since none of those things had been invented yet.

Campbell's has a new commercial boasting 32 feet of egg noodle in each chicken noodle soup can. The ad shows a boy literally sucking the noodles off a billboard across an alley. After the commercial runs I don't think about buying soup. I think about that proud look on the mom's face that her son can suck the noodles off a can of soup.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

and.. go

I looked at my old intro and realized it would make a better chapter. So that left me without an intro.. here's a draft

There are a lot of different possible scenarios that can occur that will cause people to actually decide to write about themselves. I imagine one would be a realization that your accomplishments may be of interest to posterity and perhaps there is some clarity that only you could lend. Another reason people may be motivated to write is the insistence of their peers to do so. Least noble of these motivations is when the future author takes a long look at himself in the mirror and says to his reflection "I'm so damned interesting I should tell the world". Since I was only 6 years old when I had this epiphany I probably said "darned".

Legend has it I learned to read by sitting in the lap of my mother and grandmother as they read aloud passages of soft core housewife porn and readers digest condensed classics pointing at the words they were saying. I say 'legend' because I don't remember ever really learning how to read. I can imagine myself pushing to learn what letters meant in order to fill in the blanks left out in the more juicy parts. Or maybe even just to figure out who the shirtless guy on the cover of Love on the Open Sea was the book was and why he was kissing the shirtless lady. And was that the same guy from the cover of The Masters Desires?

Reading early meant learning to write early and there are several examples of my first attempts at short stories moldering away in a basement in Missouri. I took a look at some of them and I have to admit most of it is uninspired with poor suspension of disbelief. Only a story about a rascally letter R sneaking in to other words to change their meaning held any real promise. In retrospect it was so close to an episode of Sesame Street it is quite possibly the youngest attempt at plagerism attempted in modern times.

In eighth grade I approached a teacher to for a suggestion for a book about being a writer. I was expecting him to leap at the opportunity to help out a future author. To praise me for my initiative and to parade me around in front of the other students for them to take note and point out that I was an example future greatness walking among them. Instead he said "What will you write about you haven't done anything". I was hurt and a little embarrassed and dropped the subject.

Several weeks or possibly months later a drinking buddy of my stepfathers asked me what I was going to do when I grew up. I replied that I didn't know yet but my sister chimed in that I was going to write books. My stepdad smirked and said "what are you going to write about you haven't done anything". I don't know what it was exactly that caused it but I was now inspired. Maybe the fact that he was layed off from a job where he carried bags of flour into a truck. Or maybe it was the can of generic beer in one hand and a styrofoam cup of tobacco spit in the other. Coming from a teacher the words depressed me but coming from him they motivated me.

"Screw Him" I thought. It wasn't the first time I thought that and probably not even the first time that day. What does he know anyway?

I was starting to discover that it was his habit to keep someone from reaching too far in life as a way to keep them from falling too far. He was, in his own way, trying to protect me from "acting above my raising". It was nearly considered a sin to think you were better than your family and your community.
Newly energized by the fear of becoming a version of my stepfather, his friends or any of my uncles I started my first Diary. Only girls kept diaries so I kept my writing hidden and even enjoyed the idea that I, a boy, was keeping a diary anyway. Kiss my ass society! I'll do what I want.

In high school my diaries were changed to journals and had very little direction. Some were hateful descriptions of people at school. Some were entries like "went to band practice". A few were simple outlines of bad stories. Now my journals are called blogs and are the same format with more words.

The dream to be a writer never really died but it was a neat and tidy excuse to put it on the back burner when you knew you had to do some living first. Thirty was the first idea since I was convinced I probably wouldn't live past thirty five anyway. Seems extreme but my mother was 36 when I left home and it seemed so very very old. The promise to go write full time at thirty five became the promise to write when I turned forty. Now at forty two I'm getting serious I've gathered notes, talked to sources and looked in the mirror and said to my reflection "I'm so damned interesting I should tell the world".

Back to writing.

It's amazing how brilliant and creative I am when it comes to NOT writing. The excuses roll through my mind with such ease and mass that need only to pluck the closest one and it's a perfect reason to write tomorrow. If only avoidance were an olympic event.