One year ago

I'd just returned from Paris: my second European business trip, my second transatlantic fight with Girl. But this one felt different: I felt 99.44% over her now.  When it was Brussels I'd said Those Three Words three weeks before and she had not, one of several reasons tensions further strained while I was away. So when her texts were distant I called her that girl who signs your yearbook 'Have a great summer!' and she called me the person who could hurt her more than anyone.

But that was then and this was a year later, couple months more than. So this time when she inflamed my texts ran cold. She asked to meet and I insisted on a public place.

In a bar near my Happy Meal McMansion we sat diametric at a circular booth. After drinks arrived she said, like only she could, "I guess I've known for a while that I love-d you."

And my head spun.

One year later she would be engaged and I'd have a REALTOR(tm)-brand listing agent. But we had a good chat today.

You ain't free

Appreciation to Kendrick Lamar for the inspiration and beat

New Year's 3 and you wanna tell me after talkin all baller
that we can't be cause that thing you call a ring but I call a collar.
How you told me it was he on the leash But now I see from the gleam of sparkled marquis
that you're on the tether. Cold weather.

Cause these hands, you see
fulfill that need
And not by degrees not by decree not by the likes of your facebook friendlies.
They only touch your face and wrap your waist
and fill every space and touch every place that he
These hands could be just where you need
And your body for me is A-B-C. It's 1-2-3, then Go, make you moan and bring the oh and pull your thighs to frame my cheeks
and make you scream through my walls.

Few more squares and I'll be there on the far side
while you decide if suicide of the life you hide behind the Good Girl eyes might be
a bad fucking idea.

As the sacrifice you provide when you concede the needs for Girl
is a price too high to survive, set aside that you more than imply
more than a winking sigh
more than a line you'll be my third try at a wife
more than roll those eyes that get me high when they hold on mine.
But you say it straight. Happiness ain't on y'alls plate
ain't your fate and you ain't no saint but can't see
how you can be with the PPP and ass-tight jeans on the pillow queen that turns so mean when I make a scene cause you ain't seen what I been seein' so in the end it means by any means and by all means
that how you be is all I need
and all you will be is all I would need
and you and me could be We and we would see how you could be.

Or not. But your happiness is somewhere that ain't M.S.B.

How does love feel?

They say it is a difficult feeling to capture in words. But I can describe what losing it feels like.

My entire core feels herniated. My heart has been ripped from its moorings, though a small chunk of chambermeat hangs from the aorta. The rest of it has been rent and slung across the carpet. It lies in blood and flaps, the edges of which are scalloped and shred.

My throat is tight and sore. This, combined with my difficulty breathing, foggy head, physical strain, sore dull flu-like achiness in back and joints, lack of motivation and interest, distractability, frustration confusion anger, all conspire to make difficult speaking. And writing: until this the only thing I could write were text messages consecutively considerate then sad then needy. Because I can't let Girl run from this. Maybe I should right now but I can't.

So when I'm not at turns drilling into work and having vulnerable a.f. convos with colleagues I'm back in bed high and listening to playlists.  

Okay, so those aren't all feelings. I diverged from the topic sentence a bit.

Pantryraid: ruining lives

One night some months ago I was high and looking at the Nutella and thought 'I wonder how vanilla wafers would taste with that.' I had some already or put them on the list. Either way, I soon combined the two. First taste and I understood I'd discovered something powerful.

I like them with whipped cream, but if you're unsure, just consider it a serving suggestion

I like them with whipped cream, but if you're unsure, just consider it a serving suggestion

No different than other great fusions--mac&cheese, pb&j. Simple and a little decadent. Maybe comforting, maybe lush and sultry.

This is downright dirty.

I've intro'ed the combo to several folks, all who now regard me with loathing, as though I were the local pusherman. 

Yet they keep talking to me if for no other reason than to lay blame for their new addiction. One fuckable friend now texts me snaps of her Nutella impulse purchases and late-night cravings. Below she sent her Christmas dessert in the hotel.

hotel wafers.jpg

Meanwhile, Girl says she came home to find Boyfriend knuckle-deep in the Nutella jar, 'Nilla crumbs scattered round. "And he watches what he eats," Girl informs me (just in case I wasn't aware). 

I joke that in a parallel universe 20 years from now he ends up on My 600 lb Life. She defends him, insisting it won't happen.

"I'm talking about Parallel Universe Boyfriend." Sigh.

Seriously, don't try them. Either 'Nilla wafers or their full Vanilla competitors. They ruin lives.

The Reasons

I've always been a communicator. In Kindergarten I won "Most Talkative" and repeated the feat in 6th grade. Had they collected superlatives at each school year's end then I no doubt would have been reigning defending. I wrote short stories and poetry through middle and high school--self-published an anthology of my and several friends' work. My first major was journalism, and my second college try was in broadcasting. I dropped out again to work fulltime in talk radio.

But I went corporate because that's where the money was. Even so, I wanted more than numbers. I had zero desire to be a consultant until multiple people I trusted described the job as storytelling. I found that to be true, though through less appealing media (maybe some would rather read a slide deck of frameworks than a novel but I'm not among them).

Oh, and there was that whole divorce thing. It left me with a lot of processing to do. I heard the voice of Stewie saying if you can't get that novel written now then you never will. So I did. Wrote my first draft in five months--finished it on Christmas Day 2014. I expect the final, publishable draft of it to be complete in 2019. 2022, tops. But the catharsis was worth more than any agent contract.

New relationships, new priorities. My ex liked calling us "joyless little strivers". My new girl was a hippie at her core, despite being a good little company drone 9:30-6. Soon my time away from the office was filled with lots of sex and laying around--far preferable to fretting over bills, optimizing future vacation plans, and trolling Crate & Barrel for the perfect silicone spatula.

But unwedded bliss had its costs. She's young and in a complicated relationship, which complicated our relationship. Still the writing gave me solace--and the complications gave me creative fuel. Meanwhile, work didn't do for me what I wanted anymore. 

So I face a convergence: single, no children, not getting any younger, no need for a big house, no desire to climb straight up the corporate ladder. And a burning wish to find out, can I write for a living? Can I tell the stories I want, the way that I want, and do it well enough that people will pay good money just to read them?

Tall order. I'll be "competing" with great storytellers--people who've been at this for decades, logged tens of thousands of hours more typewriter time than have I. Authors who long ago corrected errors I don't even know I'm making. So I need runway. Time and space to make those mistakes and continue learning by reading rejection letters and best sellers and Pushcart Prize winners. I need an arbitrage play--time arbitrage, since servicing a McMansion mortgage ain't cheap, and the very thought of that hanging over my head without a predictable income stream makes the walls feel closer.

Turns out one of the cheaper places to live in this big world is also among the most exciting and inspiring: Thailand, and the whole of Southeast Asia. I have friends from school in Bangkok and a stepbrother just across the border in Cambodia.

Now or never. And if the worst thing to happen is I work a few extra years on the tail end then it was worth the cost. Money may have a time value but so does life.