Cracking an egg always produces something worth sharing. Sometimes it’s worth eating, sometimes it’s worth serving to others, and sometimes it produces a decayed and grotesque mess of rotten flesh and meat not meant to survive for long.
Eggs sustain life. To Salvador Dali, they signified imagery he saw in the womb, a symbol of desire to return to what he called the “intrauterine paradise.” You can fertilize an egg to create life or you can dwell on eggs plucked from chickens pumped with chemicals—or, if you’re Milo Moiré, you can push paint-filled eggs from your vagina and create a painting as they explode on a canvas beneath you.
In the ancient world, eggs symbolized the potential for life, life itself, fertility, rebirth. Some ancient cultures believed the world itself hatched from an egg. Christians use the egg to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus—rebirth. Some cultures believed breaking an egg could destroy demons while others believed they possessed magical properties that could cure people. In American idiom, ‘to lay an egg’ is to fail while having ‘eggs on your face’ means you’ve in some way made a fool of yourself. (more…)
(Note: This is the latest installment of an ongoing column. Click here to the index for previous installments.)
I was working the counter when some old knucklehead sashayed through the doors and wanted a thermostat for his car. His complexion told you he had money: he was in his 60s and his face was smooth and more or less wrinkle free. Meat on people who don’t worry year in and year out about food and housing tend to maintain a youthful elegance. His face wasn’t taut or shiny, which ruled out plastic surgery. He was simply a man whose concerned lay outside the sphere of struggling to make ends meet.
Like most people with money who found their way into the part store, he was clueless. He knew the year and the model but not the make or the engine size or the OE thermostat temperature. He somehow knew he needed a thermostat and expected me to procure it for him. (more…)
I’m depressed. I don’t want to get out of bed. When I do, I sometimes have to persuade myself that life’s worth living. I have a wife and kids—they’re also central to my internal arguments.
I am a failure. Every month is a struggle to scrape enough money to pay the bills, and it gets harder every single month. I’m a failure as a writer and as an artist. No one reads me and no one cares what I have to say. I’m a failure as a husband, a father, a son, and a brother. I ignore my family and I’m not sure why. I just don’t want to interact with people on some days. On the flip side to this, I want to interact with everyone on other days, but almost everyone—with the exception of my family—dismisses or ignores me. I try to reach out to talk to people, most ignore me, and this fires me into a spiral of self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness. On most days, I feel like an unknown or unwanted person. I’m persona non grata personified. (more…)
(Note: this is the latest installment of an ongoing column. Click here for the index to previous installments.)
My wife had two kids from a previous relationship. I helped raise them since they were toddlers. I consider them my children—I never use the word “step kids.” As far as I’m concerned, they’re mine, even though their father’s in the picture and picks them up every other weekend. They’re good kids—innocent and naïve—but a bit too obsessed with video games and YouTube, as with most kids their age. As a child, I couldn’t imagine choosing to sit indoors all day. But we live in a different time, I suppose.
They’re good kids. They don’t ask for much because they know we can’t afford much, but they do want things every now and then and it’s hard to look them in the eyes and tell them why they can’t get it. We’re broke. We can’t afford it. We’re poor. I’m a worthless bastard who’s failing you guys and your mother. Although they understand we can’t afford much, they still feel the pinch, the pain. You can see it in their eyes on occasion: disappointment—and it hurts. (more…)
The Street Kid: A Beautiful Journey
The street kid has been a prominent metaphor throughout my fiction, and there is a reason for this. In fact one could argue, I am The Street Kid. I go by Phoenix, Phoenix The Street Kid, and this is because of the way that I have attached meaning to the idea of a street kid just trying to make it in the world, expressing their innocence and resourcefulness, just trying to survive. I have a very picaresque idea of the young homeless kid, and this has no doubt influenced my perception of the homeless and my writing. Serving those experiencing homelessness has also influenced my writing and vice versa. My writing and my life would be very different if I didn’t serve the homeless population. (more…)
Bipolar mania cranks my libido to eleven. When I’m manic, I want fuck all the time. It’s crude, I know, but there’s no pretty or poetic way to phrase it: mania inspires a more or less constant hard-on.
Fortunately, my wife’s libido matched mine, and we’d eagerly wait for the kids to go to sleep and leap into our room and fuck like insane rabbits. It was sometimes beautiful, sometimes raw and perverse, but it was real and honest and primordial.
We had sex seven days a week, sometimes two or more times a day. It was beyond amazing. Then the pills hit me. I forgot to mention the doctor prescribed me Trazadone in addition to Klonopin and Lamictal. Those pills killed my sex drive. I don’t know if it was a combination of the three or one in particular, but once I’d started my regime, my desire to have sex plummeted. (more…)
“My passion was dead. For years it had rolled over and submerged me[…]” –Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea
Suicides aren’t always dissatisfied with life. They’re certainly not cowards. Few people who consider themselves brave could commit the ultimate act. In the aftermath of suicide, those left behind search for answers or meaning. Sometimes they can find answers, sometimes meaning doesn’t exist, sometimes the suicide is the result of a brain wired differently and given free rein to act on its impulses.
If you reduce the physical universe to its most basic components, you’ll find most of the building blocks are comprised of empty space. When I experienced suicidal depression, I experienced the sensation of the emptiness of the physical universe. Every second of every day. Every atom contains emptiness. Since I was composed of atoms, I was mostly empty–physically and emotionally.
And that emptiness weighed on me. It strangled me. It assumed a three-dimensional form and embraced me, suffocated me, asphyxiated me. I was never more informed or aware of the emptiness of the universe than when anxiety and suicidal depression descended on me. (more…)
(This is the second installment of a series, previously titled Notes of a Miserable Fuck. Click here for the first part.)
I’m never more conscious of my financial situation than when I consider my family. My parents–and, by extension, my siblings and I–were poor, yet our life was no better or worse than my life now. And my wife’s life. And our kids’ lives. And, in that respect, I feel as if I’m failing them.
As a kid, I went to Las Vegas two or three times, we went to theme parks in Ohio and visited Chicago a few times. My father owned a boat when I was a child and we’d take it onto Lake Michigan and spend hours cruising around.
I can’t share those or similar experiences with my kids. We haven’t flown on airplanes–I haven’t been on one since I was ten years old–or cruised Lake Michigan or spent time in Chicago. We don’t go shopping for anything other than necessities, we don’t go to amusement parks or engage in overtly capitalist notions of fun. Part of me doesn’t mind. The anti-capitalist part of me thinks it’s probably not a bad thing. But the kid in me, the sentimental fool with thousands of sentimental memories, regrets and resents it. As foolish and trivial as that may sound, it’s the truth.
I decided to cut short my vacation. Having worked ten years at the same job, I’d felt I’d earned and deserved a break. A selfish act: by dropping out of the world of work, I slowly plunged my family into a worse situation. Money was tight, food was cheap and basic, and life’s adventures contracted. We were in a precarious situation. Always poor, we were now impoverished, and I had to change that. I had to take steps to alter our situation. (more…)
(Author’s note: this is the first part of a series. Click here for part two.)
It was sometime around Thanksgiving, maybe a day or two later, when my boss wanted to talk to me. He spoke in an even tone, not somber but not enthusiastic. I’d be out of work at the end of February, he’d said. My position–data entry and accounts payable–was going to be automated.
I couldn’t respond, didn’t know how to respond–I’d held the job for nearly eleven years, showed up day in and day out, without suspecting anything, taking my job for granted, and now, over the course of a single conversation, I was obsolete. (more…)