Just Plane Silly

Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentleman. We’re talking about flying today.

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I love flying, but I’m terrified of heights. I can be perfectly fine staring out a couple inches of plastic window separating me from an uncomfortably thin atmosphere and be fine not being able to see roads, but I get shaky on a ten-foot ladder. If that strikes you as monumentally dumb: don’t worry, I think so, too.

Actually, before we get into the flying, let’s take a second to talk about open-sided escalators. These are the escalators that on, say, the right side, typically hug the floors of the building. The left side, meanwhile, is attached to nothing and overseas the open space in the center of the mall. At the Dimond Center in Anchorage, Alaska, it overlooks the ice rink on that side. In the 5th Avenue Mall, there’s a shoe store that takes up the bottom floor.

If you’re still having trouble picturing it, I’m talking about something like this:

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Yeah, screw those things. I get terrible vertigo if I look over the edge of those, and every time I step on one to come down, I’m convinced I’m going to trip over my own feet and plummet to my death. And this is probably going to sound a little weird, because it is weird, but I always plot out my strategy of defense were a sudden earthquake to detach the escalator from the walls or tear it in half. I know which angle to hurl my body for maximum opportunity to catch the railing of the closest floor and pull myself up to safety.

Now, I do the same thing on planes. I know that the back seats on the plane are the ones with the highest survival rating. I’ve got the Exit doors and hatches figured out, and I’ve mentally gone through what I would do if I were to survive a crash, both in the ocean and somewhere in the mountains or something (Would I survive in Arctic waters? Probably not. Would I cannibalize my fellow passengers? Probably. I’ll worry about brain worms later).

Strangely enough, though, I never get anxious on planes, not even as a kid. I think it probably comes down to, once it gets to a certain height it just stops being scary and starts being absurd. Twenty feet? Ahhh! I could break my back! 3,000 feet? Haha that’s just ridiculous. Why care? I can walk around freely in this giant metal tube filled with other people. It doesn’t even feel real. That guy is snoring. This chick is writing her memoirs. It’s like a really crowded living room.

Or an elevator. I’m fine in elevators, and I’ve seen tons of films where the elevator detatches and crashes, mangling everyone inside. I saw Devil, where some malevolent force starts murdering everyone in the elevator. That movie was garbage, though. So.

Anyway, I know that elevators have safety catches on them, and I know that if something were to happen with the plane, well, at least I can blame someone other than myself. The fear just isn’t there. A little turbulence actually thrills me. The closest I ever came to being terrified was when I got kicked out of Canada and had to take a rickety little plane from Vancouver to Seattle and that plane got struck by goddamn lightning.

Man, but I do love planes. Some are better than others. By that I mean their coach seats are a little roomier or you’ve got an extra armrest or something. I don’t generally shill our the extra dough for first class, but on the handful of times I did, THERE’S an experience, too. Kick back and relax, watch some movies. Some airlines have headrests now that bend in a little bit to support your neck if you decide to nap. Others will provide packaged pillows and blankets (instead of recycled blankets they used to give out which, more often than not, smelled like pee). Just let me kick back and relax while a man-made machine shuttles 100 other people and me 600 miles an hour through the air.

And sure, sometimes the people you get seated next to suck. There’s the occasional crying baby, or the guy who was so much in a hurry to get to the airport that he forgot to apply deodorant, or the lady who’s spilling over the seat like some kind of meat comforter for your side.

But sometimes you’ll get seated next to a guy who buys you shots all night long, or a gorgeous Peruvian that you get to spend three hours getting to know, never to see her again, or you meet a guy who teaches you that life is a decoy duck.

Sometimes you’ll just get a weird story. I almost had sex with a stranger on a plane once, almost ten years ago. That’s a big no-no, generally frowned upon by anyone with decency and, by all accounts, fairly uncomfortable to pull off in the strict confines of an airplane bathroom. I was all about it, though.

I had a window seat (typically my preferred seat) and she had the aisle. A slender woman in her fifties took the seat between us, already drunk from airport cafe liquor. It was this woman, this center seat lush, that I got to know first.

I was co-writing a romantic-comedy novella with my friend Skyler at the time and as such, I had my notebook out. She asked where I got my ideas from. I told her sometimes I wrote from personal experiences. She asked if I ever had an experience on an airplane before. “Haha! I’m just kidding,” she said. “But maybe not.” This is not the woman I almost slept with on the plane, although I’m sure that would have been a given.

This lady proceeded to buy a Bloody Mary for the girl in the aisle seat (who gave it to me once the lady passed out), tried to hook me up with her lawyer niece, and then tried to fall asleep on my shoulder. When I got up to use the bathroom, she grabbed my ass.

Upon returning from the restroom, she was knocked out and I started having a whisper conversation from the aisle with the girl in the aisle seat. The lady in the middle woke up and switched seats with me, so she would be in the window and I would be in the middle.

Game. On.

The girl and I talked about all sorts of stuff for close to an hour. She was 23. I might have lied about my age, but she knew I couldn’t legally drink. I don’t remember which of us made the first move, but we kissed, made out, talked some more, kissed some more, and then she pulled away from my lips with a smile and said, “Too bad we’re about to land or I would have given you that experience she was talking about” AND THEN THE INTERCOM COMES ON AND THE SEATS HAVE TO COME UP AND THE TRAYS HAVE TO BE SHUT AND I ENDED UP IN SEATTLE WITH A TEN FOOT ERECTION.

Ahem.

I wonder what ever happened to her.

But yeah, I love planes. I wish meals were still comped, even if they were those terrible fake eggs or two-day old turkey sandwiches they used to give. I wish I still got free little snack packages. Hell, I’ll even take the peanuts and those are too salty for my taste. I wish half the time they give me a complimentary drink, they wouldn’t walk away with the rest of the can. These are first-world problems. I should pack a lunch, or get something in the airport during my layover. I should cut back on my soda intake (although if I ever die in a plane crash and I didn’t slam, like, three Cokes, I’m going to be fucking pissed).

Planes are cool. Flying is even better. I have often entertained the idea of taking flying lessons to be a pirate, but in the same vein that I hardly trust myself to walk down an escalator without dying, I’m convinced I would immediately crash a plane on accident.

Airports suck. Not a fan. SeaTac and O’Hare in particular can blow themselves up and down a mountain for all I care, but airports give me planes and planes give me rides, and my dissatisfaction with airports can be saved for another time because I want to end with my favorite thing about flying.

I love the take-off and the landing. I love leaving in the middle of the night and I love the window seat when it happens, because I can see all the lights of the city. It doesn’t matter which city. You can see the businesses that are open late and the street lights, the houses with one light on in the bedroom or the living room, and maybe they’re reading a book or playing video games or having sex or doing taxes, crying or painting or thinking about all the years that have been wasted, or all the things that have been accomplished. The city, any city, every city lights up like a jewel, and the plane takes you high up above it, pulling away, distancing you from hundreds of thousands of lives continuing on, each one focused on momentous things, despite that as you pull away, you see just how small and inconsequential everything is in comparison to the entirety of the world.

That is so beautiful and so sad and so awe-inspiring that we’re all so small and we don’t give a shit. We just keep doing us.

I also love landing during the day. You get such a clear look of the country-side and how the lands looks around and because of the cities we have settled. You get to see the work that went into building these places, and the monuments or the parks or the lakes or the bridges that define them. Landing in a city during the day screams You Are Here. And as the plane descends and the buildings get larger, the cars become visible, you can make out the ants that are people, there is this feeling of reconnecting with the world. You’re literally coming back down to earth from a sojourn through the skies. You were above and apart from the world for a while. That’s amazing.

Flying, man. Not just for the birds.

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Kisses Have Pictures Beat

I was on my way home, riding in the back of a cab and staring out the window at the downtown lights in the darkness of night. I don’t know why, but my mind found itself thinking about the last woman I truly opened myself up to, the one that, two years ago, destroyed any notion of trust I had and brought me to my lowest point during one of the most tragic periods of my life.

I don’t know why I thought about her. She broke a promise to be there when my grandfather passed away. She didn’t so much as send me a text when I was dying in the hospital, nor after. We tried to be civil for a while. I reached a point where I decided, after six years of friendship and love, I couldn’t – rather, shouldn’t – have her in my life anymore. When I cut my ties without a word, silence was my response. Well and truly done, then.

You know what I think it was? A couple weeks ago, I saw her at the bar. She was with friends and she was drunk. We walked past each other and someone jostled me on my right just as she put her left foot forward. Our elbows bumped into each other. I flinched. She didn’t. She kept going forward, never noticing me. I kept going forward, quietly relieved.

In the back of the cab, I went from thinking about the shitty parts to the last time it was good. Before she lied, before she left. We had rented a hotel room just for something different
We had sex. It was good, but it was always good with us. Afterwards, we turned the television on but kept the volume low. We lay there, curled around each other, talking for hours about everything and nothing.

She got up before I did the next morning, ready for work. I blinked awake and called her over. I sat on the edge of the bed, arms around her waist, and we kissed. Passionately. Desperately.

I knew it was the last kiss between us that would ever mean anything. It was a farewell and I felt my heart breaking as the door closed, though it wouldn’t be complete for a few months further.

People like to talk about their first kiss. Their first kiss ever, as if more often than not it wasn’t a bumbling, awkward thing. But that very first kiss isn’t the only special one. It isn’t the only one with a story. Often times, it’s hardly even the best story.

I have kissed a lot of women, and I’ve kissed many more times. I haven’t always remembered them. It hasn’t always been women I liked. There have been instances when alcohol or grief or anger has driven me into the arms of a woman who would receive me.

One time I spent an entire evening trying to hit on a girl and when it didn’t go anywhere, I kissed her friend – who I had known for years and worked with – at last call. And while I was attracted to the second woman as well, that was still a really shitty thing to do.

First kisses are weird. They can be bad. They can be great. They can be awkward.

Not too long ago, I finally got to take a woman out on a date that I had fancied for quite a while. We spent eight hours together. Dinner, movies, drinks, karaoke, back to my place to relax. We kissed for the first time and despite how many hundreds of times I’ve kissed someone before, this time I had no idea what to do with my hands. The kissing itself was fine, enjoyable and Lord, she was beautiful, and maybe it was because I liked her so much and I psyched myself up, but as she pulled away from my house, all I could think was that I had fucked it up.

We’re just friends, still, if you were wondering.

The first kiss is something special. Not just the first kiss ever, but the first kiss with each person. The first time you and someone else decide maybe there’s enough chemistry to lock lips. It’s different with everyone.

I had a first kiss with a woman in Texas while Katrina raged around us and Black Sabbath played on stage and that’s the most metal fucking thing that’s ever happened to me. She and I still disagree about a lot of things (mainly my attitude), but I still hold so much fondness for her as a woman, an artist, a musician, and an animal enthusiast.

I had a first kiss with a woman in a Bed, Bath and Beyond. Who the fuck knows why? We weren’t dating long. I liked her a lot, but our relationship was full of whimsy and randomness and so we were surrounded by towels and mattresses and we kissed and it wasn’t spectacular. No fireworks went off. No parade marched through. But it was cute, and it was our kiss, and we’re still close. We had Easter dinner together this year.

My first “girlfriend” was when I was in 4th grade. She was two years older, a black girl, and while I didn’t and still don’t give a shit about interracial relationships, there were some boys in her grade that felt a white guy shouldn’t be hanging around and I got my ass kicked a handful of times for it. Which didn’t stop me for a second because I have more balls than brains sometimes.

We played Spin the Bottle, she and I, and some other kids in the neighborhood. We kissed. That was nice. But then she wanted to “French” and I chickened out. I did. I didn’t want to be bad. Now we’re introducing tongues?! What is that madness?

…I don’t…wait a second.

I have no fucking idea who the first girl I kissed with tongue was.

I do, however, remember being in Germany. After a night of drinking through Oktoberfest, I wound up drinking at a party hostel and dancing on a table with an American girl from the Midwest. We laughed off demands to get off the furniture, we drank our ass off, we stayed up til sunrise. I never actually went to sleep that night, so we ran into each other again as she checked out of the hostel to move on, on to her next destination. I remember she kissed me. I had one hand on her hip and she had her hands on my shoulders. It was a sweet moment, and we both smiled as we separated and she moved out the door.

First kisses and last kisses can be the same, sometimes, and they can be worthwhile.

I have kissed sober and drunk, clean and sloppy. I have kissed with passion and pecked with disinterest, and kissed with a hunger, a need for a connection. Sometimes I got it. Sometimes I didn’t.

I did a theater show once and afterwards, after I had signed some kid’s copies of the program and said hello to my friends and family, a girl cornered me and shoved me against the wall and plunged her tongue down my throat. She said seeing me on stage was just, MMM, yeah.

Which is ridiculous,because I’ve seen recordings of my shows and I’m a terrible actor.

I was in a show with another woman,one I had a small, nothing-serious crush on, and instinctively, we kissed gently before the show started. We both smiled, she said, “We just kissed”, we both laughed and then nothing ever happened again.

First and final kisses can be the same and be completely pointless.

Final kisses…

The last kiss on the lips of someone you care about can be a haunt.

That fucking hotel room.

The doorway of a three-story mansion, my birthday, good food, good sex, good movies but my ex is distant and I ask if she wants to break up and she insists she doesn’t, and we kiss so goddamn tightly and I find out two days later that she got drunk and confessed to a mutual friend that she did, in fact, want to end things.

That wasn’t the last time we kissed, but it was the last time it meant anything.

That kiss with the Canadian girl in the back of a cab in Barcelona where I’m pulling back and desperately cranking the window open because I’m convinced one or both of us is going to vomit at any moment.

Kisses, man. A picture may say a thousand words, but a kiss will tell stories, and it will pull inside parts of you that you didn’t know you had, emotions positive and negative that have no goddamn names.

Physical intimacy is a beautiful thing. Being close with someone, being accepted by someone and having a mutual need or desire for each other is enticing. That moment where two people feel each other out – does it work, does it not – and you get that heat and that taste, and their hair is in your face or your hands and their clothes are twisted in your fingers and people are watching, or maybe they’re not, maybe there are candles, maybe it’s Bed, fucking Bath and Beyond, and there’s just a moment. A moment where nothing else matters. Whether the kiss is good or bad, there’s that one moment.

I look back on my past with lucidity, and I view the good with the bad with the embarrassing. I’ve had kisses that are forgettable. I’ve had kisses that I miss. Ones that are checkered and that shouldn’t have happened and ones that should have happened much sooner than they did.

Hell, there are kisses that never happened that haunt me for the sake of never being known for sure.

And there will be kisses to come, I’m sure. Good and bad, both with stories. Hopefully, too, one of those will be the start again of something truly special. Something that makes the rest of it just a footnote.

She, of the Pale Stars

This first line was something I had wanted to write around, so after keeping it in my back pocket for a while, I churned this piece out this morning. I could have done better, probably, but I’m not feeling so hot physically or mentally, so anything will do:

She was a glass of wine dressed in sunset
The kind of eyes it took
A cold shower to wake from and
A drink to forget
The shadows fell long from her
Winding, twisting
Insisting every secret I had be traded
For a whiff of her incense hair
For a glimpse of the smokey way she moved
She was autumn colors, but I took the fall
The dream ended in ripples across the pond and
She left me dead in my sleep

My friend, Halia Janssen, took the same line and wrote this superior piece, which I will share to make up for my own half-assing it:

She was a glass of wine dressed in sunset,
A silhouette bathed in light of the crescent moon.
She was the echo in my turbulent midnight dreams
Wandering the pangs of our reverie
Hiding in shadow, intangible to say the least
She is my heart, my laughter
Forever out of reach.

The Beautiful Last Breath of Day

Dusk. That’s what it’s all about, baby. Any point in the year but especially during autumn, when the dark comes a little earlier, the trees start painting pictures and the little breezes begin to nip at the nape of your neck. That’s the ticket. That’s the stuff.

Up here in the summer it can be light for 15, 20 hours a day. In the winter, it will be black skies on your way to and from work. Right now, though, is that sweet spot where I can walk home from work, and cross the bridge and look over…

Oh, darlin’, the way those colors fall asleep in front of the mirror that is the bay, draping themselves over the shoulders of the mountain just beyond it. Tangerines into citrines, emeralds into aquamarine, oceans into ebony, and there – just beyond that canopy – you can see those starry eyes just opening, just coming awake for the artist’s hours.

Last night I looked down on the stream coursing beneath me. No fishers disturbed its steady path. No fish broker it’s surface. It bubbled and burbled and ran on, serene under the last heavy breaths of day, an excerpt of perfect naturalism away from the noise and metal drudgery of the downtown that existed just a short distance nearby.

On my way home, the port sits to the left of me. At dusk, a handful of solitary cars pull away to head home, their headlights breaking through the pale most of September evening. The shipping containers look lonely out there as the darkness gradually envelops them, and warehouses that look long abandoned sit like haunted sentinels with halogen lights casting sickly glows across the rocks.

I want to break into one so bad, but I never have time except my days off and I’ve got too many things to do, and I’m lazy, and also that’s illegal.

To my right is what appears to be the train repair station. It opens up at night and locomotives and cabooses and whatever those middle parts are called (I think they’re just cars?) chugga-chug lazily along the tracks until they’re between the walls, under the roof and sidled up next to a platform. I can hear the rough but unclear voices of the engineers as they call instructions to each other. Or maybe they’re just shooting the breeze while they work and sparks fly out and skitter across the ground.

I round the bend and enter was stretch of road where there are no steady lamps to guide my journey. Just leaning trees on one side – leaves changing clothes into something more vibrant – and reliable pavement on the other, trembling under the occasional vehicle lumbering past. The breeze was on my back last night, a cool, coaxing push that led me upwards. I relied on familiarity to guide my feet up until I found the pale white light of the gas station parking lot and the final vestiges of sunlight sank down behind the horizon.

Then I was home. Then the euphoria slowly faded.

Dusk, baby. That’s what it’s all about.

FIVE OH: A Recap

Until recently, it had been a long time, years, since I had been on a legitimate date (as in, they even showed up). Longer still since it had gone well. It’s been a long time since I’ve met a woman who made me fire on all cylinders. I have dated and I have loved, in a way, since the woman who broke me almost irreparably, but I’ve closed a lot of myself off since then.

It’s a different experience to meet a creative person who brings words to me and sparks an inspiration and drive that I lost somewhere amidst a lot of funerals and broken promises. Somewhere along the line, I had stopped believing that trying was good enough because even my best friend of 15 years won’t see or speak to me. It’s a bit different to have someone invested in my writing and my words after most people I cared about left.

So it’s difficult to let that go after a few months of really trying to build it up and make it work. Emotionally, I mean. When everything about a woman, from shared familial experiences, to creative endeavors, to aspirations and personality and lord, I find her gorgeous…It’s difficult to not cling to that, to not ignore all the signs that, bro, she’s just not that into you. No matter your words, or your humor, or your beard.

And it hurts to finally find a muse, one whom I can attribute a few posts for inspiring and more than one poem and realize that that aspect isn’t going to happen. Call it a night, pull the cards.

I don’t regret it. The inspiration isn’t minimalized by the revelation. It hasn’t vanished. I still want to write and be better and keep getting people hooked on nothing more than the way I phrase things. There are posts I never would have written otherwise. I suppose that’s the point: these emotions that will never find a home somewhere else should mold themselves into something that can benefit a reader who needs them. I just don’t need to put myself in a position again where wishing on a star leaves me stung.

This is my 50th post and it’s a big whine. A little self pitying, but here’s the best place of any to vent it, my word whiskey. I’ve had 49 other posts of various genres and topics,  so whether you’re new to my blog or you missed some posts or you want to share with your friends, I’ve organized the bastards by type. Here you go:

The Post That Started It All:

The Begending Of The Inn

About Writing:

Jered’s 3 1/2 Magic Rules For Writing
Behind The Curtain: Why I Write
Fucks Given: Sex and Swearing In Writing
Create a Horror Icon In Six Steps
Against “Against YA”
Care Needed: Remakes
Care Needed: Reboots
Care Needed: Sequels

Life and Personal Experiences:

Love Is a Bowl Of Pho
The Swim
The Darker Side of Karaoke
Life Is a Decoy Duck
Life Was Simpler When I Was Dying
My First Porn Star
The Importance of Talking About Suicide
Orphan Tears

About Family:

Bompa: A Grand Father
Tutu: A Grand Mother
Santa Wears a Black Hat
Daddy Issues

Short Fiction:

In a Pinch
Something Sweet Part 1: Goodbye, Horses
Something Sweet Part 2: With a Kiss In the Wind
Something Sweet Part 3: Something In The Water
Something Odd Part 1: Beer Run
Something Odd Part 2: An Unexpected Invitation

Personalized Flash Fiction Birthday Gifts:

Birthday Notes I
Birthday Notes II
Birthday Notes III
Birthday Notes IV

Poetry:

Passion
A Toast
Heat
4AM
The Anatomy Of a Kiss
What A Muse Meant

Assorted Other Musings and Updates:

Testing Doesn’t Equal Teaching
What If Godzilla Was One Of Us
Rooftop Music
The Liebster Award and Me and You
The Goddamn Facts
Bloghopper
A Memorium
The Last Few Days
Checking In
Three Tens of Sober

Reblogged Posts From Other Bloggers:

My Opinion and My Advice and Listen To It: Paranormal and Supernatural Stuff
Life From First Person POV

And there you have it. My first 49 blog posts, two of which are from other talented folks. I hope something here can make you feel some kind of way: love, laughter, anger, sadness,  happiness, inspiration. I started this blog to let some of myself out and to share projects and opinions and (hopefully helpful) advice and it has been an absolute blast so far. Thank you for sticking with me! I look forward to th next 50.

What A Muse Meant: A Shower Poem

Years ago, I used to write a lot of poetry. A lot of poetry. It was before I took to long-form writing but I had the itch to get emotions and ideas and concepts out and poetry was the simplest way to do it. There are tons of different kinds of poems, too, so I got to flex my muscles with haikus, iambic pentameter, acrostic, couplets and more. I ended up primarily doing the kind that don’t necessarily rhyme or have a consistent structure but follow a rhythm. Maybe they sound better read aloud than seen on a screen, I don’t know.

Anyway, back then I would often be in the showet when a line I loved or a verse I craved struck me and I would weave most of or all of a poem in the shower. From the ceaseless depths of my creative soul, I decided to dub these “shower poems”. I know, thanks for the applause.

I moved on as I got older to writing short stories, then longer short stories, then novels. My poetry trickled awat and stopped. Only recently have I been taking a crack at it again. This poem isn’t necessarily more special than other poems I’ve posted on Word Whiskey. It’s not even necessarily better. It’s just the first shower poem I’ve had in a while:

The stage fits her like a tight dress
The spotlight, a necklace
Dark hair shines like Tahitian pearls Curled back behind her ears
The microphone in hand seems to alleviate any
Fears she might have had
The bad day slips away from her
She slips away in turn; the music
Burns through the air
The words slip out, smooth as silk, rich as gems
Every him hee-hawing in the crowd is cowed into silence
There is only her

Her body moves on the river of the beat
She sways in place and her face says
She is somewhere better
Her lips play with a smokey smile
Enticing under closed eyes, while
Her hips keep time
A metronome in the form of a woman
Hypnotizing, mesmerizing
With that form, a form of pleasure
Treasured; and still pale in the shadow of
That Voice

Her voice box is a paradox rising up from the deep
Lipstick on scotch
Ballet on the edge of a knife
A primal elegance feasting on innocence
One hunger replaced with another
Carried on the night with a tight grip on the mic

The final notes fade gently
Like turning the last pages on the latest entry of your favorite series and
Serious eyes size up the stage stranger
Dangerously alluring during and after performing
Silence reigns in melody’s wake
She takes a deep breath and glides away as easily as she swept in

Veni, vidi, vicit
Fin