Log in

11 April 2011 @ 10:49 pm
She'd waited almost three years to tell me about the miscarriage. We'd been cruising the downslope of our latest attempt to be friends. I'd never tried to stay friends with anyone I'd dated before, and so I thought we'd already gone through that brutal honesty permutation in one of our early, more naive cycles, the one during which I told her I'd read her email, and she admitted airing to her sneering friends my issues in bed. But then she always was the measured one, calculated; she'd reserved her big gun.

My circuit-breaker instincts snapped, switched me to the off-position. Toward the end of our relationship, the real one, not these echoes that stirred us every six months, this blank state of mine issued forth much more brutality than any of the fights that caused it. Quiet then violence. And when it got quiet again, I'd remind her again that I wasn't attacking her with my silence, I was protecting myself. She'd argue in a volume just below mine that no one makes me feel any particular way, that I let them affect me. Stupid as we were, we never admitted that we argued different points even when we both realized it.

"I knew you'd react this way. That's why I never told you."

I looked at her trying to remember the girl I used to love, the one who liked animals dressed in people's clothes but hadn't seemed to like me in a long time. I knew what she said was a lie, but still there was some truth to it. I just kept looking at her.
Current Music: baby says - the kills
01 June 2010 @ 06:38 pm
No kid dreams of growing up to be a data integrity analyst for a specialty retailer.
04 November 2009 @ 12:25 am
When I told her that I don't love her, it's what I thought she wanted to hear. Our conversation had followed a predictable arc leading to detail-less stories of past relationships, faceless nameless collections of pronouns and epiphanies. I told her about feeling moored to a house in which I don't sleep anymore in the middle of the desert with all the world's oceans calling my name. She spoke of recently deleted texts from him, the boy who wriggled his way free of her expectations by telling her he loved her and nothing more. When I told her I don't love her, it was the truth.

She rested her chin in the heel of her hand. I followed her eyes to a scene of no particular interest.

"Yeah, I know," she said, "And that's why this isn't gonna happen."

She leaned into me as I walked her back to my apartment. I felt the heat of alcohol rising off her skin and in her breath. Her arm locked in mine, the weight of her body pulled in haphazard directions. I'd offered her my bed since I usually sleep on my couch anyway.

"I don't care if you sleep in the bed with me," she said.

I wondered what our sudden tugs-of-war looked like to each stranger we passed.

She eased into me, and my body instinctively curled around hers, creating pockets and filling voids. She pulled my arm across her and held it to her chest. Earlier she told me how the last him was just a pattern into which she fell, collapsing parts of herself to fit.

"What wasn't working?" I said.

"It was nice to sleep next to him, hold hands with him. I don't know. Have you ever been in a relationship where the sex was really bad?"

"No. Most of them were built on great sex, but that's usually not enough to sustain a relationship." It was a joke meant to peak her interest. The look of minor disappointment on her face, I imagined, was the same she gave him when evaded her with his proclamations of love.

In my bed with the palm of my hand pressed against her heart, I told her softly that I knew what she meant about having someone to sleep next to, but she was already asleep.
27 August 2009 @ 09:16 am
I ask her to be my substitute wife for the weekend. I explain exactly what I want her to do in the most un-perfumed language I can piece together, but I can still hear that newly-single, cloying desperation clinging to each word.

"Whatever. I don't care," she says, "Just make me feel beautiful."
26 August 2009 @ 10:06 pm
Last week on my way to work, I got an email from a friend that I haven't see in over two years, from whom I haven't heard a single word in ten months. The subject line just read, "Logan," and I knew what it was going to say before I read it.

From about 1995-2000 I managed a store called Shinder's in a dingy little suburb of St. Paul, one of 13 Minneapolis-based, Frankenstein's monster amalgams: part newsstand, bookstore, and comic book shop that made all of its profits on sports cards, collectible card games, and adult videos. The friend who sent me the email last week was my assistant manager. I don't recall which one of us interviewed Logan; all I remember is that he was still a senior in high school and not quite 18 which, given the nature of our 5' X 12' Adults Only room at the back of the store, made hiring him tricky. Logan was willing to do all the crap that no one else wanted to: fill the pop cooler and deal with all the kid crack, er, Pokemon cards and pogs that kept showing up in shipments and bringing with them scores of snot-faced, sticky-fingered rug rats who liked to run and spill and scream dragging along their parents whose eyes were filled with either the boiling summed rage of their every acquiescence or a look that said to me, "I'm going to let my kids treat your store as their personal playground/cafeteria/toilet for the next three hours as my personal thanks for selling us $30 worth of cardboard first thing Sunday morning, asshole." I was happy to bring him on to deal with that for $5/hour.

Logan was a skinny kid, not particularly tall. He dressed like a homeless version of Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas' character from the American Pie movies), favoring an army surplus jacket that swallowed his narrow shoulders and vintage pants that showed his socks. The last time I hung out with him, he sported a fedora...nine years before they started selling them at Express. His eyes sat spaced widely apart. Somehow his big nose and small mouth balanced each other out (sort of like Jenny Garth).

As he grew more comfortable and found his rhythm in the shop, Logan would unleash tiny, one-lined furies of his humor on us in a way that made me think he didn't think anyone else working there smart enough to get the full joke. When he used to ask me if it was all right to take a smoke break, and I said yes, he'd reply, "Sweet, sweet cancer." After he turned 18, and I asked him to necessarily tour the Adults Only room to straighten up and/or discourage some of our seedier customers from stealing, that line morphed into, "Sweet, sweet anal." Sweet, sweet whatever became a mantra from the store. And that was brilliance of Logan's approach: everyone wanted in on his shtick.

The owner of Shinders insisted all store personel wear these obnoxious yellow customer service buttons that had our mascot (the Groucho duck from "You Bet Your Life") saying in a comic book balloon, "May I help you?" The buttons were about the size of a big orange and had pins on the back as thick as toothpicks which left noticeable holes in your shirt. Everyone hated wearing them. Whenever I asked Logan to put on his button, he'd say, "I really don't like talking about my flair." I'd never even heard of Office Space at the time, but I watched it to get in on the joke.

The email my friend that I don't really know anymore sent to me last week read, "I just thought you would like to know...I just found out today...Logan apparently passed away last year. Renee thinks it was a drug overdose."

"Damn," I replied. Logan was about eight years younger than I, 27 or 28 when he died.

When I got the chance, I went to Google to try and find something more about it. I sat there at my computer for ten agonizing minutes in which I couldn't remember Logan's last name.

It came to me just as I started doing something else. My search didn't come up with much. I found a private Facebook page that may or may not be his; I don't have the heart to add him and wait around wondering. There was a link to an Amazon wishlist, most of which was added four years ago: Bukowski, Curb Your Enthusiasm, William S. Burroughs, Bill Hicks, all things that reinforced this was Logan's. I wondered if that was all I was going to find, all that was left.

Deep in the search, past all sorts of Dutch language links, I found one that read, "Logan: November 2008...what I wouldn't give that right now. i love you logan." It was broken, but I got the name of the person who posted and found her on MySpace. She really couldn't or wouldn't answer any of my questions, saying that she didn't find out until a month after it happened.

I guess the reason I'm writing this is just in case someone out there hears what happens and searches for Logan Van Deen. I want there to be something for them to find.

I have a handful of pictures from a Star Wars themed, drink-a-room party my roommates and I threw (I think this was New Year's Eve 1998). Each of us decorated our rooms as different systems with different specialty drinks: Dagobah, Hoth, the forest moon of Endor. There are 18" pictures of stormtroopers lining the walls. a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Darth. Logan was the only person from work who came (though I doubt I invited more than 3 people from work). He was a lot younger than the rest of us and with his black clothes and jet black hair stuck out. I want to say he didn't drink, but he might have sipped a little weed with my brother from our balcony. He was the weird one, the one who left all my blond, suburban friends wondering "Who the hell is that?" and "Is he going to steal something?" In the picture I have of him, he's sandwiching, oddly enough, Jessica (formerly Pfeiffer) with my brother, just an odd trio standing under the raised blasters of ten stormtroopers. Jess and my brother are smiling. Logan has his mouth open in a sort of a smart-assed snarl, as if the whole scene isn't quite funny enough to make him smile. That's the kid I remember.

I saw Logan for the last time on a commuter bus on the U of M campus in early 2004. We rode for less than five minutes together from a parking lot down Washington toward Coffman Union talking small talk. He was majoring in History or Economics. That's the last time I thought of him before last week. So if you see me out, you can ask me about Logan Van Deen, but, my memories eroded as they are, I might not be able to answer. You can say you're sorry, but there are a lot more people back in Minnesota that need those condolences more than I. You can say anything you want. Just don't ask me about my flair.
"As she stands there searching my face for a reaction, I drink her in, like a glass of the rawest alcohol, filling myself with a fiery jealousy for the man with whom she'll eventually choose to spend her life."
Current Music: love and communication - cat power
06 May 2009 @ 05:08 pm
In those heels, she stands over six feet tall, so she needs to bend down close to my ear to ensure no one around us can hear.

"Listen," she says, "I don't want you to think that just because we're going out that it's going to turn into a repeat of two summers ago." Her lips are so close to the back of my neck I can feel the heat of her words on my skin, almost feel her smiling.

I can smell the same perfume she wore then. That sweet wave of nostalgia rushes in through my nose and mouth, sweeping through my body.

"I don't have any expectations," I say. I turn back to my computer screen. "But let me ask you, did you shave your legs this morning?" I turn back toward her in my chair, put my hands on my lap, and lean back.

She looks down at her feet. A grin spreads across her face and blooms into a full smile. She levels her eyes on mine, and I know the answer.

"Smartass," she mouths and walks away.
06 May 2009 @ 03:23 am

There's a prayer on her lips when she reaches up to kiss me. Drowned as I am in the grind of my mind's lumbering machinery finally put into motion after months of dormancy, I can't make out what it is. I only try to match the immediacy of her desire. I'm not her religion, I'm just shiny as a mirror.

Later, perched on her bed, I look up from the base of her altar. The gears and springs and levers in my head hum in a quiet whir now having located their purpose. My mouth on skin and my fingers inside her urge out her prayer again.

"God," she says.

She clamps her eyes shut, throws her head back, buries her teeth into her bottom lip. My engine drives her toward a destination.

"God," she says.

Her body quivers. The skin of her thighs cool against my cheeks. Her fingers clutch my hair, run across the backs of my ears, lost children searching for a home. This is automatic for me, programmed in the language of sighs and moans from every woman who ever sought something intangible in me, every woman who felt I'd failed them when eventually they couldn't find whatever it was they were looking for.

"Oh, God, Michael," she says.

I am a vehicle. I'm not her religion. But she wants me to be.
I just wrote nine pages. After reading and rereading everything I've ever written during these insomnia-filled nights, I feel confident saying about this latest piece: It's. Really. Fucking. Good.

Of course I've never said that about anything I've written before, so maybe it sucks. It probably sucks because in accordance with the bargain I made with My Little Blond Friend, once I put it through the rewrites, she'll do the leg work submitting it, and if it gets published, I have to quit smoking; unconscious sabotage is surely at work. Either way, she's quite the muse.

I'm sure reading books again after The Long Waste hasn't hurt either.

See you in the The New Yorker.
Current Music: don't dream it's over - crowded house
01 May 2009 @ 11:49 am
Hours spent toggling between this dry, white space and rereading with surprise all the words that have dripped from my fingertips here in the past eight plus years still haven't given me the slightest idea where to start. I've built my dams high and strong since moving to the desert.
Current Music: geraldine - glasvegas