Tag Archives: literature

An Update of Sorts

Hi readers,

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted so I figured I’d put out an update post. No writing tips here or new work, but I will be posting a satire I wrote later this week.

I have three updates:

  1. I started an MFA in creative writing this summer, so I’m currently writing from Lisbon, the location of my summer residency. I’ve learned a lot over the past two weeks and I look forward to sharing my observations.fashion-coffee-time-lifestyle-medium
  2. I plan on refocusing this blog. I’ve gone back and forth with it, but I’ve decided to get back into writing satire. Most of my early readers appreciated my satirical approach, and as a result, those were my most popular posts.
  3. I recently edited and revised my self-published books. As a whole, the four books went on a decent run when I first published them, but I’d still like to reach more readers. Each book has been polished and I’ve added the satirical layer found in the fourth book, the annotations by the EJO scholar McCarthy Gables, to the first three books. One of the benefits in self-publishing is that it allows for revising and re-editing. With that said, this should be the last time that I’ll look at these. If you’d like a copy of the final versions they are on sale right now. Feel free to click the links below:


Farmers and Cannibals

But the Angels Never Came

Just After the Fall

The Church Peak Hotel: Revisited


And thanks!





Writing with Style 5: Writing Discomfort

While its easy enough to simply say a character feels uncomfortable, I find that showing the discomfort goes  a long way in making that discomfort feel real. First, it’s important to identify a “symptom” of the characters discomfort. This could be anything as long as its repeated throughout the event you are writing. It could be a look, sweat pouring from the character’s forehead, cottonmouth, or anything else your imagination can contrive. despair-513529__180The trick is repetition. In the excerpt below, you’ll see my approach to showing discomfort in a new coming of age novel I’m working on. Like everyone else who writes bildungsroman, I’m trying to write the next Catcher in the Rye. I’ve bolded the repeated “symptom” so you can easily see what I’m talking about. Check it out:


from Untitled

“Jordan!” she said with a gasp and her hand over her chest. “I double checked my calendar twice. I was so worried. I—I thought you must’ve been in an accident or—I didn’t know what to think—I—”

“It’s fine, Grandma,” I said as I hugged her. She smelled like old-lady perfume and incontinence. “There was a bad traffic jam and I was sitting in it for over an hour. Must’ve been a ten car pile-up. I saw two ambulances coming back the other way before it all cleared up. Looked pretty bad.”

She gasped again. “That’s horrible.”

I felt a little bad because she didn’t think to question me, but what was I going to say? “Hey grandma, I’m late because I slept off a hangover, got in a fight, popped some painkillers, did a line of coke, had some sex with a girl I’m not dating, and then hung out by myself at the skatepark as I came down from the drugs.” Obviously, I couldn’t say that and if I did, it would break her tiny old lady heart. It’s the same with mom. You have to lie to them for their own good. They don’t want the truth. They just want to hear that you’re doing well and you’re happy and they don’t need to worry about you. That’s all they want.

After that my visit with grandma was uneventful. We watched the TV and drank tea and played cards at her little kitchen table. We didn’t talk at all while we played gin rummy and I couldn’t help but focus on her tiny ashen hands, so white I could see the green and blue of her veins. A fine mist from a humidifier sprayed into the air behind her and the room was so hot I stripped down to my white undershirt.

I still felt the hangover from the night before, and the smell of old person caused sweat to bead-up on my forehead. After the final hand grandma looked up at me and leaned back in her chair.

“You’re mother says you’re doing well in school. All A’s?”

“Yea,” I said and I wasn’t lying. I had straight A’s since freshman year.

“And you’re applying to colleges this summer?”

My palms were sweating now and I was glad we were finished with the cards. “Yea. We made visits last year. And mom wants me to apply to five schools.”

Grandma nodded her head and smiled. She was pleased. “No one from our family ever went to college. I wanted to go but there wasn’t enough money. Your mother is so lucky to have met your father. Without him, you would have grown up like everyone else in the family. You’re a lucky boy.”

I felt like I’d puke right there and my eyes started doing this thing where the bright light made them twitch. Sweat stung my eyes, and I couldn’t look at her anymore. Every time I looked at her the light in the room pulsated around her head.

“We’re all so proud of you,” she said.

I couldn’t take it anymore. “Well,” I said. “I have to get going. I’m meeting up with a friend tonight. We’re studying for a test in physics.”

“Ok,” she said. “Is it with that friend I met last summer? What was her name? Hm. Miranda?”

“Yea,” I said quickly. Grandma must’ve forgot I go to an all-boys school.

“She was such a nice girl. So polite. And pretty. That’s the type of girl you hold on to and never let go.”

“I better not be late then,” I said. And as I stood up and grabbed my shirt from the back of the chair, I started to feel good again. I hugged grandma in spite of the old-lady perfume and incontinence. “I’ll see you next month.”

An Update of Sorts

Hi folks,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, so to please my millions and millions of dedicated, hard-core fans, I’ve decided to sit down for a moment and share what I’ve been working on.

Number 1: I don’t actually have millions of fans. And, just to update everyone, I’ve made no recent attempts at acquiring these millions. Lots of writers do that B.S. but this one doesn’t have time for all that.

Number 2: I just said number 2. So yes, I still find poop jokes funny.thSHW7SCEH

Number 3: I’m still posting Writing as Art and plan on going through the back log of submissions. I’d like to post all of them. But, as per usual, I won’t do this as a weekly sort of thing because I still hate tying myself down with self-imposed deadlines.

Number 4: I’m still looking for representation on a novel I finished a year ago. But I’m not doing this actively. So, in other words, for those of you who know how the biz works, I’m not actually doing it at all.

Number 5: I’m still ghostwriting books for other authors and my email is always open to anyone who’d like help with a book.

Number 6: The last point sounded too serious. And, to stay true to my nature, I still make jokes in serious situations. Poop.

Number 7: I’m editing my self-published series, Whom Cain Slew, with the addition of the final book to be self-published as a compendium style book thing, a Super Book, if you will.

Number 8: As the careful reader may have noticed from the previous bullet point, I still use unnecessarily complex sentence structure whenever the mood strikes me. This includes run-on sentences that aren’t punctuated correctly and seem to go on and on without making sense also without making a point and furthermore blah blah blah blah

Number 10: I still skip the number 9

Number 11: I’m still annoyed by update posts. If you couldn’t tell,  I have a hard time taking this sort of thing seriously.

Number 12: I still use a computer as my primary method for writing. From time to time, I’ve been known to write on a piece of paper or a block of wood. When I was a child in school, there were many times when I wrote on my arm or hand.

Number 13: I’m working on a new bildungsroman. For those of you who don’t speak German, I’ll translate: coming-of-age novel. I’m enjoying this one and I’ll be sure to post excerpts as I write it.


I think that’s all. Update over.

I Know why They’ll Vote for Trump

While the media has sought explanation after explanation for Donald Trump’s success in the polls, I think I finally have it figured out. The following short story is based off an experience I had a few weeks ago. It’s another example of fictionalizing an every day experience. In this story, I take some ordinary men talking about an upcoming election for a home owners association and compare it to the upcoming Republican primary election. th (14)This is written as an allegory, but the only hints are in the title and the final sentence. Here it is:


I Know why They’ll Vote for Trump

So I walked back down the gravel road and saw Ned McCumbee and Skip Wright standing beside the old white Camaro parked at the end of the driveway. Caked in dust, the car faced out towards the road and didn’t seem to mind McCumbee’s weight, all three-hundred pounds of it, sitting heavily on its hood.

I had passed the men on the way out to pay Miss Evelyn Thompson a visit. She was an older lady and a tree threatened to smash the roof of her house. She had called from her house-telephone and I could tell because the number didn’t match the one she had given me the week before. “Could you come take a look at it?” she had asked.

Well, that tree was in need of a professional. “Sorry, miss,” I had said, “But I can’t take it down. You’ll need a professional for that. I got the name of a guy. It won’t cost you much. I’ll call him for—”

But she interrupted me and asked for his phone number. “No, I’ll call. Don’t you worry. I’ll call.”

But she wouldn’t call. I knew right then and there. She wouldn’t call and later that summer the tree would come down on its own.

Anyway, I was on way back from speaking with Miss Evelyn when Skip Wright noticed me from his place standing across from the white Camaro. He waved his big hand with his long noodle of an arm. I had managed to pass by unnoticed on my way up, but they noticed me this time. Maybe they’d been talking about me after I passed them earlier.

“It’s been awhile,” I said nodding my head towards Skip. “Heard you’ve been out of town. Didn’t hear what for.”

Skip sucked his lips into his mouth. th (13)He only had one or two teeth, so whenever he spoke, his lips went in and out of his mouth slackly. It seemed as if he were chewing on them, but he had nothing to chew with. “Yep. Been back down in Georgia. Yep. Went down not a month ago. For my son’s surgery. Yep. Wife’s still down there. Emergency surgery. Had to take out nearly half his colon. But he’s ok now. Tough goin’ for him. But he’s ok.”

“I’m sorry to hear—” I began but he kept saying what he was saying without noticing me.

“But I figured I’d come up here and check out the place,” he said rocking back on his heels. His noodles for arms were behind his back and his lips sucked all the way in his mouth. “Make sure it ain’t been robbed. Figured I’d come back for the meeting too. Heard there’s a meeting this weekend. Ned told me so.”

From the corner of my eye, I could see Ned McCumbee who sat with his arms crossed on the hood of the white Camaro nodding his head.

“I’m glad you’ll make it out,” I said. “We’re having a vote on officers and—”

“Yea, I heard all about it,” Skip interrupted sucking in his lips. “What officer are you?” he asked. “I know George was president, but he’s out now for stealin’. And I was thinkin’ that we don’t have no president.”

He stared expectantly. I must’ve bit my lip and I know I looked away. “Yea,” I said. “Well I’m the acting president. Last meeting they voted for me as vice-president. But—”

“Well, if there ain’t no president, I think I should be president. I figure—why not? I can do it.”

“Well,” I began and couldn’t help but smile. I looked down at Ned McCumbee and he was still sitting on the white Camaro. “There’s a lot that goes into the position. It’s a lot of work and a lot of know-how.”

“I can do it,” he repeated. “I’m gonna turn this place around. I’m gonna do it for the people. That’s what I’m good for. I’m good for the people.”

“Well,” I said. “We’ve done a lot already—since George resigned. We’ve…” and then I listed all the things I fixed as the acting president for the association. “Now there’s three spots open for officers. And I need people who’ll do the work. The big thing is communication. We made a website and we’d like to start handling things through email and—”

“Oh I don’t have email,” Skip said. “Nope. Don’t have a cell phone neither. That’s how they get you. Learned that from when I was with Hell’s Angels. Nope. Don’t do nothing with a phone and nothing with a computer. I don’t even like talking on the phone…”

Then for several minutes Skip spoke about his distrust of the government and his trust in conspiracy theories and his favorite conspiracy shows. While he spoke, I half listened and waited for a moment to interrupt. For a brief moment he stopped and sucked in his lips. He rocked back on his heels.

“Yea,” I said. “Well, most of what we do for the HOA is on the internet. The papers we file are all electronic. We talk through email, so—”

“Yep,” he interrupted. “And I think I’d be good for president. Ned here thinks I’d be good and everyone else thinks so too. It’s ‘cause I’m here for the people and we need something different. With George trying to steal our money, we need a change. George couldn’t do a damn thing right. But I’ll know what to do to get this place back in shape. I’ll know what to do.”

I didn’t try a response. “Alright,” I said. “I’ve got to get going. See you two at the meeting.” But this is what I wanted to say: “It’s a job for a professional. It’s a job for someone who understands how the association works. Sure, confidence is great. Sure, it’s fun to make gossip and baseless accusations. Sure, it sounds good to say that you’ll ‘do it for the people.’ But the real world takes special knowledge and special expertise.” I didn’t say this, of course. Neither would have understood. When the vote comes up in the meeting, a few folks might cast their ballots for Skip Wright. It’ll be the same few folks who’ll vote for Trump.

Writing as Art 2.0: Mirage

th (12)Writing as Art digs deeply into the literary, structural, and poetic devices that make writing an art form. Well, its supposed to at least. The excerpts and short fiction presented are chosen from a list of submissions sent by authors around the world. But that doesn’t mean the excerpts are artistic or even well written. You see, when I first started posting these excerpts, I provided running commentary  demonstrating the authors artistic choices. I don’t do that anymore because my readers thought it was weird and hard to follow. So instead, I just post the excerpts that are sent to me and let my readers decide. Some are good. Some aren’t. Either way, let me know what you think in the comment section below the excerpt. Don’t feel like you need to hold any punches.

For this week, we have an excerpt from Jean Blasier’s novel Mirage. Check it out and let me know if its art or just cleverly written or just a bunch of crap.




The cab turned left off Sunset, past the Bel Air Hotel now emerging from the fog, its manicured lawn glistening with dew.

Lily put on her glasses and checked the directions again.  “Are you sure this is the right road?” she asked the cab driver for the third time since they left the airport.  And for the third time the cab driver responded, “Stone Canyon.”

Inside the mansion at 1520 Stone Canyon, Tim Michaels was looking out the front window, as nervous as his soon-to-arrive guest was excited.

“Dad, sit down.  I’ll get you a cup of coffee.”  Molly Michaels, Tim’s daughter-in-law, hated to see her father-in-law all wrought up about this woman who, after all, had invited herself to California.

“I don’t want any more coffee, sweetheart.  Does this sweater make me look fat?”


“Did I ever show you a picture of Lily from grade school, Molly?”

“Yes, you did, dad.  But that was a long time ago.”

“Thirty eight years.  She moved to Pittsburgh after eighth grade and  broke my heart.”

“Seems odd, doesn’t it?   All these years and you never heard from her.”

“We moved to California and lost track of Lily.”

“Until last Saturday.”

“You could have knocked me over with a feather when that letter arrived telling me she was coming here.”

“How do you suppose she got your address?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe one of those searches on the internet.”

Molly fluffed up one of the pillows on the sofa.  “Did you ever try to find her with one of those searches?”

“Yeah, I did once, after Barbara died, but there was no trace of a Lily Spitzer who used to live in Sandusky, Ohio.”  Tim picked up one of the chess pieces off the small table in front of the sofa, polished it on his sweater and returned it to the board.

It was the perfect time for Molly to say something she’d been wanting to say ever since she heard that this woman was planning to visit for an indeterminate stay.  “I think you should be careful, dad.  I mean, you don’t know anything about this woman.”

Tim looked out the window once more.  He checked his watch.  “You’re going to love Lily, Molly,” he said, ignoring his daughter-in-law’s counsel.  “She was the life of every party.”

“I’m just saying, I can’t believe she invited herself indefinitely.”

“Just until she gets settled.”

“Did she say that?”

“She said she’s hoping to stay with me for a couple of days to look around.  She’s never been to California.”

The cab pulled into the circular drive of the mansion and stopped at the front door.  Lily and the cabbie had a few words about the fare before the driver got out, walked around and opened the rear passenger door.  He picked up a scuffed, cardboard suitcase from the floor of the back seat and then helped Lily out.

While Lily stood there looking up at the brick and columned two story house, the driver walked up the three front steps and set the suitcase on the Carrara marble entry.  The suitcase looked ridiculously out of place.


That’s it. Let me know what you think by commenting below. Oh and if you’re interested in the author, Jean Blasiar, she’s a playwright and author of the Emmy Budd mysteries. Check out her website: Jeanblasiar.com


It Leans

Hi folks,

It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted. I’ve been flooded with writing jobs lately, I’m revising one of my own books, and I’ve been sending out short fiction to journals, magazines, contests etc. etc. etc. So what I’m trying to say is this: sorry I’ve been silent here on the old blog.

Tonight I break my silence. The inspiration for the following fictional piece comes from a scrap of particle board I saw leaning against a road sign in my neighborhood. I picked the board up and snuck it into my trash a few weeks ago. For some reason, I’m not sure  what, I started thinking about that board as I was driving home yesterday. So as an exercise in creating symbolism, I wrote this:


It Leans

The board sits there leaning on the sign at the corner of Turkey Trot Lane and Red Fox Drive. A month or two ago it had appeared in that spot. The top of the board is jagged. There’s a screw sticking out of the bottom corner. thQ738M5EN

A month ago it looked old. “From a dresser?” a friend asked as I took the corner driving up Turkey Trot Lane. “Or a table,” I said.

It still looks old. But now it’s weathered and grey too. Maybe it’s been longer than a month or two. But I can’t remember when I first saw it.

Other cars pass the board. I watched a car pass it a day ago when I was walking up the hill. And cars driving in front of me—they pass it too.

Maybe the driver was thinking, the one driving in front of me yesterday, hey, someone should pick that up. Why doesn’t anyone pick that up? That never would’ve happened years ago. People leaving trash out on the road. No respect.

But he didn’t slow down. He didn’t stop.

Or maybe he didn’t see it at all. That’s more likely. He didn’t see it. Maybe he saw it a month or two ago when the board first showed up. But he doesn’t see it now. And, if I’m being honest, I don’t see it most days either. Today it caught my eye, but most days—

Anyway, I know I should pick it up. Some days, when I see it, I think to myself, just stop and pick it up. Put it in the dumpster. It’ll take a second—that’s it. It’ll only take a second. But then I take the turn up Turkey Trot and the board is gone. It’ll be there tomorrow, I think. Someone’ll get it.

So here I am today about to take the turn on Turkey Trot Lane. The board is there leaning against the sign. It leans there and I can’t help but make comparisons. It leans there like the dentist appointment I need to make. It leans there like some sad kid whose dad won’t come to see his baseball game. th10V2VGTBIt leans there like global warming or carbon emissions. Maybe it leans it there like that extra ten or twenty pounds we all wear on our gut. Or maybe—I could go on and on but I think that’s enough.

As I approach the turn I slow down. I notice the board leaning against the sign. I take the turn. It’ll be there tomorrow. Someone’ll get it.


Fictionalize it!: Part 2

Welcome back to my three-part series on fictionalizing every day experiences. Last week I wrote a short memoir-like story from an event that actually happened to me (more or less). If you haven’t read it, click this link: LINK. This week, I’ve taken that story and transformed it into a completely different genre with characters, a slightly different conflict, but the same basic theme. I also maintained a few of the objects and images. I chose to write this as a contemporary romance–the type where a thirty-something lady finds a new man but is still troubled by the death of her late husband. I always get a kick out of writing romance because its so easy, andth0H9BO0OV so painfully overwritten.  Check out the transformation:


The Keychain

“What the—”

Bella’s lips quivered as she stepped out into the moonlight to find his gaunt figure casting shadows—moon-shadows across the marble terrace.

“William…” She mumbled the words, and the words tumbled and tumbled across the terrace falling flat without ever reaching his deaf ears.

Emanations of pulsing pain reverberated out into the moonlight and she traced the origin of each pulsation to the core of his damaged being. “Will…” She began again as she looked down at her weathered white dress, but couldn’t say the rest of his name.

She took another step towards him. “I loved him too much,” she repeated. That was what she had said inside. That’s why he came out here.

“Just go inside,” he said. And after he spoke, after she heard his voice she couldn’t stay away. Not now. She ran to him and her hand found the pocket of his suit.

“That hand is not a hand,” he said as he routed it out of his suit pocket. “It’s rot. A growth. And if I let it stay, the disease of your hand will infect my thigh, and then—”

She reached in the pocket again and found his keys. That was what she had searched for the first time.

“Remember this?” she asked hysterical with tears forming in both eyes. “Remember?”

She held the keychain-picture of his partner in her hand. “Remember?”

The partner died, shot in chest years ago.

“I loved him too much,” she repeated. “That’s why.”

And there were tears in his eyes too. She wanted to touch his eyes. She wanted to know that the tears were real.

“Let’s put it back to how it was,” she said. “He’s gone. But we can put it back to how it was.”

She felt his heart beat against her hand, his hands still limp at his sides. “He’s a memory now. A memory.” And memories can’t be cared for—not with hands.


Fictionalize It!: Part 1

Howdy folks and folkettes,

This week I’m starting a three part series on fictionalizing every day experiences. Why? Well, because that’s what writers do and I think ya’ll might benefit from seeing how I take a real event or story and transform it into fiction. Let’s face it: fiction writers take their own experiences or experiences from others and turn them into stories. These things don’t come out of thin air.

So, to start it off, I’ve written a literary version of one of my own experiences, sticking to the actual event and experience as truthfully as possible. Next week, I’ll look back at the “real” version of the story and rewrite it by changing the setting, characters, narrator, plot structure, and genre. And then finally, I’ll invite you folks to submit your own fictionalized version of the story. So, here it is, the “real” version of the story.



“What the—”

I looked past the railing of the back deck to the little rock oak in the woods. On the ground beside the tree, I saw the weathered white of the birdfeeder. Dropping my kindle on the table next to the chair I got up, passed through the gate at the top of the stairs, walked through burned-up grass past the ugly hill of dirt and weeds and rock still there from when the yard was graded.20150809_190542_resized

“Too much damn seed,” I said out loud. Yea that’s right. I talk to myself when I’m alone. Who doesn’t?

I picked up the birdfeeder and thought of that time a year ago when the face board of the front porch rotted out because the bird seed fell in the crack between—well, the crack between the face board and the board behind it. I don’t know what that one’s called. Who cares.

“We’ll need to find a new place for it,” I had said to my wife. I swore and talked to myself as I routed out the rotten wood and filled it with epoxy.

“It’ll be better out there in the woods,” I had said when I came in from patching the hole. “I’ll attach one of those—what do you call ‘em, little arm things right to that tree.” I pointed through bathroom window.

“We won’t be able to see it then,” she had said.

I shook my head. “You’ll see it fine from the back deck. Unobstructed view. I’ll screw it right to the tree.”

And that’s what I did.

A year later I squatted beside the feeder next to the tree. I took off the top and dumped some seed on the ground. I hung it back up on the arm-thingy attached to the tree and walked back up to the back deck to my chair and my book.

An hour or so passed. My wife walked out and my daughter was napping. “Hey,” she said. “Hey. Look at him!”

She pointed towards the feeder. It was some yellow and black bird. I don’t know the name. But I wasn’t thinking of the name either. I thought of the screw in the tree and how some folks say it’s harmful. I thought of the wood rotting out on the front porch. I thought of all the destruction we cause in caring for things that don’t notice us. I looked up towards my smiling wife noticing the bird on the feeder. I looked back over at the bird.

It isn’t the bird, after all, that I’m caring for.


And that’s my story. Check me out next week for the rewrite.

Bad Writing Advice

We’ve all received bad writing advice at some point or another. Usually, the advice starts with one of the following: “always do this” or “never do that.” I actually work with someone who tells her students that they should “never use the word ‘that'”. Anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows THAT I don’t believe in limiting our choices when it comes to expression. I think it’s best to know how and why certain words, literary techniques, literary devices, etc. are used so that we CAN use them when it’s appropriate or when it serves our artistic purposes. untitled (5)So, to help battle against all the bad advice out there, I’ve made a list of literary “TRUTHS” that aren’t actually–well, true. Here’s the list of bad advice:

  • Never use personal pronouns when you can use a characters name
  • Don’t end a sentence with the word “it”
  • Never use digression
  • Never use flashback
  • Every character should be well-developed
  • Never place a comma after a prepositional phrase when it begins a sentence and is under 5 words
  • Never use an oxford comma
  • Always use an oxford comma
  • Always use the word “and” before the last item in a list
  • Never use sentence fragments
  • Never use dialect
  • Spell everything “correctly”
  • Don’t use a “hard” period
  • Don’t write in short sentences
  • Don’t write in long sentences
  • Don’t ever use flowery language
  • Avoid using plain or simple language
  • Don’t be repetitive
  • Always describe your settings in detail, so the reader can see what it looks like
  • Don’t ever bore your reader by describing the setting. Let them picture it for themselves
  • Always attribute your dialogue so the reader knows who is speaking
  • And most importantly, don’t ever use the word “that”

Well, I hope this list is helpful, and the next time you hear someone sharing one of these literary truisims, don’t be afraid to question them: “Why can’t I do ‘THAT'”



Now What?

I wrote “Now What?” earlier this week. I’m working on a voice for the narrator of my next novel and these short flashes of fiction are a way for me to experiment with narration. I’d recommend this strategy to anyone thinking about writing a novel with a first-person narrator. It’s nice to have the voice down from the start. Check it out and let me know what you think:


Now What?

We were packing up the old town house. We’d lived there for a year but what’s a year. I don’t mean that as a question. It isn’t one.

Like I said, we were packing up but I was already done. I packed the night before, so my Civic wasn’t out back behind the house. It was parked down the road next to a pick-up truck or a van.

But this isn’t about my car. It wasn’t even a Civic. It was something like that though.

Anyway, one my housemates, the big one, had his whole family there and he had too much to take back.

“Does anyone want this shit?” he asked. It was stuff from the kitchen.

I took another sip of something. I don’t know. Mimosa maybe. Or Bloody Mary. I think I liked those then. Or maybe I looked out towards the river. But I don’t remember thinking much about the river. It was part of me then, always there past the field and the road from town.

“I got room for it,” I said. Well, that’s not exactly what I said. I said something like it.

And I did have room for it. My parents weren’t there yet, but they were bringing a van to carry my big stuff. My brother wasn’t there yet, either.

“Alright, dude.” That’s exactly what he said. I remember it.

Minutes passed and I hadn’t moved from my lawn chair out in front of the townhouse. I felt the grass between my toes, well, most likely. I was barefoot then—usually at least.

Someone’s parents broke into laughter. It was a woman, but I don’t remember which one. Probably the big one’s mom. Everyone else drank quietly and focused on the packing.

And then one of the other guys was sitting beside me. He might’ve been there for a while, but that’s when I noticed him.

He shook his head at the big one and the big one’s family. But he was drunk too, and I was drunk. The whole damn campus felt drunk. It always did. Well, it felt that way at least.

And then I saw my parents walking across the lawn. And then I don’t remember much. The rest of the afternoon blurred into one or nothing depending on how you look at it, and then I was in the car and my brother was driving. He was probably driving fast, but I don’t remember. I was singing. Loudly.

And then I was home or the place I called home. Summer. But not summer break. And I wouldn’t be going back. I wouldn’t ever be going back. And I was on my parents’ back deck, the same place I spent every summer, a place where I surrounded myself with friends or buddies or alcohol or all or both depending on how you look at it. I looked up and saw blue and green and the leaves on the trees were full for the first time since fall. The first week of May, and for the first time, the leaves were fully there.

“Now what?” I asked it out loud. “Now what?”

And today, years later, I ask the same question. I’m married and have a career. I’ve made something of myself, I guess. But when the leaves come out, fully out, I ask out loud sitting on my own deck, the back deck of my own house, looking up at the swaying trees with the blue sky behind, “Now what?”


Hope you liked it. Thanks for reading!


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