is to be read from the beginning, as most things are.


Submission Anxiety

It doesn't feel like my writing will ever be accepted into a lit mag - big or small. "Your piece is not going to be a go for us".

Being teachers pet all throughout my college writing career hasn't seemed to have gotten me anywhere.

It seems like every press hails their literary tastes as "experimental" - meaning they won't favor my simple style, devoid of rough sex or Bukowskieske wit. But who would want to be such an asshole, anyway?




i made a fucking website. for fucking class. i'm fucking famous.


fin confetti
start there ^


I might have adopted some of his anger. I used to hate everything about him. I remember doing homework in the kitchen late at night. Most of the lights were dimmed, which made the room turn orange. My dad’s large ass was planted, as it always was, in his recliner. The blue fabric seat had faded from his consistent weight, and it creaked heavily when he pushed against the arms for leverage to get up. My dad, not even turning from the screen, suggested that I start running more. He asked me to get him a glass of water, as he did every night. But not just any glass of water. I couldn’t use the blue glasses, because they were horrible. And I needed to fill the glass a quarter full of ice, no more. I couldn’t stand his precise directions anymore: these are the kind of people you avoid, always water plants twice, pick up sticks before you mow the lawn, separate the forks and spoons in the dishwasher. I filled his glass with purified water, let a drop of spit fall onto the ice, and stirred it with my dirty finger.

I used to look at the window in the TV room to see in the reflection what he was watching. I wanted to hate what I saw. Most times I saw a distorted nature show, or re-runs of the Andy Griffith show. The colors and shapes disconnected, skipped around on the window. A few times I saw blurry images of naked bodies. A bare chest would dance across the square reflection, two mouths would meet, their sharp features making them look angry. I would pretend to do my homework, push the end of a tough eraser onto my forehead, and watch the artificial pixels dance across his large square glasses. It was as if he turned his head just right, they would arrange to form a picture.


{so it ends.}


part 9

My father became fully estranged when my older brother Paul was about two. My family took a trip up to the blistering cold of Buffalo where my grandmother pulled out a large kitchen knife and threatened to “take care of” the product of my father not marrying a Polish woman.

I wonder if when I’m older I’ll think of my childhood in the same way, as just a collection of bad memories. There were always good things, and comparing my fortunes to the way my father’s impoverished life was spent always made me think that there was nothing for me to complain about. But I can’t help but remember the bad times. The temper, the laziness, the anger.

I remember riding in the backseat of my father’s red blazer when he got cut off by a motorcycle. Enraged, he gripped his fat fingers around the steering wheel and pushed the gas until he was only a few from the speeding bike. My mother, screaming in the passenger seat, pleaded for him to stop. We turned off of our exit. The angry biker was not only following us, but mouthing “fuck you” and displaying a thick gloved middle finger. Now my dad sped up only to break sharply, keeping his squinted eyes on the rear-view mirror. All I could think about was the sticky sound of his fingers squeezing the wheel.


part 8

Walking through the sticky mass of concrete blocks that make up the internal employee walkways, I couldn’t help but wonder what Tallahassee looked like when my dad was pouring concrete on the ground I walked on. What he was like back then. I wondered if they had expanded the mall since he worked on it, if the innards of the building were something my father’s hands had touched. I’ve seen photos of him back then, much slimmer and sporting a stringy pony tail. I’ve inherited his toothy grin, the way his whole face seems involved in a laugh. My round eyes squint like his, and the tops of my cheeks lift toward the ceiling.

There are very few photos of my father before he met my mother. His past is something I’ve had to piece together from the few times he left himself vulnerable and let a story of his childhood slip out.

I never saw a photo of him as a smiling child.

There’s one photo that’s outlasted his purges of the past. He can’t be more than four years old, wearing a pair of tattered overalls, and placing one tiny hand on a dusty cow. His mouth makes a straight horizontal line, and the grainy quality of the picture makes everything look dirty, even his usually bright eyes. Money was tight. The children got one pair of jeans a year. Once, when he was 8, my father helped his dad chop up a fallen tree. The blade slipped off of the tree and went straight into his lower calf. The whole time he lay there bleeding all he could think of was the inevitable beating he would get from his mother when he got home.

Sometimes I would get information from my mother. We would sit on the dense carpet of my room among my piles of clutter that drove her insane, and I would ask about his many siblings, his past two marriages, his navy life. It was always easier talking to my mother. My dad would sigh heavily if I probed too far, or he would start lecturing. If I asked him about his school, he would go off about Catholicism, nuns abusing children, and institutional religion. My mom just talked to me like a person. Sometimes I think I should have let his past die as he wished, and asked about my mother and her family instead. I knew a similar amount about their childhoods, but because my father’s was forbidden, I tried to eat all of it up.

When I was nine I asked my Dad what happened with his past marriages. He paused, still holding a half-dissected pineapple and a juicy knife. His eyelids wrinkled closer and he said “I caught one in bed with my brother, and the other in bed with a woman.” He resumed meticulously slicing the soft fruit, and handed me the tough core to chew on. I couldn’t help but wonder “he has a brother?”


part 7

In third grade, I devised a plan for me and my two best friends to start saving up all our tooth fairy and Christmas money, so that when we graduated high school we could buy my grandparents house in New Jersey and live in it together. My dad hated my grandparents. He called my grandma a wacko hippie, bringing up times when she joined cult-ish help groups, or when she asked my brother “what color is your headache?” I didn’t care. I just liked roaming the creaky halls of their old house.

I drew out the four story house from memory, sketching all the rooms and furniture, and carefully labeling everything. That’s the only way I really knew how to mimic my mother, the kitchen designer. I couldn’t read through her two worry lines nestled between her eyebrows. I could absorb everything she said, but she said it with such indifference compared to the rantings of my father that I didn’t feel I really knew her. Instead I watched her work, I watched her bony fingers gracefully pull out a scale rule, push three times on the tiny silver back of her drafting pencil, and trace a perfect line of miniature rows of oak cabinets.