Waking up to morning sex...at noon. After I finish I like to stare, touch, and admire.
Cinnamon Oatmeal with Brown Sugar, Flax Seed, Raisins, and Milk.
Errands. Picking up my tailored pants.
Meeting up with Becca at her salon in Greenbrier Mall. She cuts my hair—shaved sides and back—teased poof ball on top. Afterwards, I treat her to Panera across the street.
Tuna Salad Sandwich with Lettuce and Tomato. Creamy Tomato Soup. Chips. Honey Green Tea. Ginger Snap Cheesecake.
“If you could live in one restaurant, what would it be?”
Work at China Wok for a few hours.
Back at home packing.
Teriyaki Noodles with Tofu and Mixed Vegetables. Carrot with Ranch.
It’s shortly after 11 p.m. and 2012 is so very near. Stopping by some apartment off Barberton where Art is partying with some Russian friends of his. They’ve got a plethora of random Russian cuisine finger foods set up on a table. Having one shot of whiskey.
Then, to Elliott’s place on 16th street. Raging bonfire and friends. Weezer and Devo in the background. It’s a calm ending for 2011. This past year deserves a mellow resolve. Counting down...watching the TV screen inside. Seeing the thousands of people fill up Times Square. Remembering that Anthony, James Graves, Kevin, and the kids are amongst the madness. I send out a toast to them in my head with my cup of champagne.
“TEN...NINE...EIGHT...SEVEN...SIX...FIVE...FOUR...THREE...TWO...ONE! AHHHHHH! Happy New Year!”
It’s after one am. I invite Margot over to the house. She got stuck at work. They made everyone stay until midnight in case the restaurant got busy. Here. A lot of unnecessary arguments are had over stupid issues about people she has ought with (because I was with said people at the bonfire tonight). Also the fact that the guy she hooked up with a few months ago is contacting her tonight through text doesn’t help the vibe. This idiot is trying to hook up with her again. Last night it was the same thing. She’s a wall to him though and attempting to break him down by calling him out on how much of a douche bag he is. I’m irritated that she’s even communicating with him at all. Even though the two of us are not dating, we have been hooking up and, in a way, pretending to date currently. I guess my irritation is justified in that I feel we should respect one another by not communicating with past hook-ups or lovers while this is going on. But whatever. What’s the point? I know this isn’t right. I know we don’t match and this won’t go anywhere but here...where we’ve brought it with all of it’s broken pieces and disheartening history. This is going to stop. For both of our sakes, separation is the key to success. Oh boy two thousand twelve, here I come...
A bowl of Lucky Charms.
Sleep sometime after 4 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 12:16 AM
Crawling out of bed at about 9:40 a.m.
Egg and Cheese Biscuit and Cinnamelts from McDonald’s. Orange Juice.
Back in Chesapeake one last time for Mae rehearsal. Practicing the set for our European tour.
Pear. Banana. Coffee.
Feeling musically prepared for this trip but not so much mentally.
Afterwards, with Mark, Jacob, and Zach at Chic-fil-A.
Spicy Chicken Sandwich with Lettuce and Tomato. Waffle Fries. Sweet Tea.
Political discussions and such.
On the way home I receive a call from Phil Gray. He’ll be coming into town while I’m gone. He leaves me with these last words in regards to being in a foreign place...
Phil: “Remember, nobody can read your mind.”
Me: “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Taking a nap...
Practicing a few Mae songs on piano.
Polenta Provencale with Lentils. Honey Green Tea.
Watching City by the Sea (2002).
Margot comes over and I help transfer a bunch of files off her old laptop and onto her new one.
Lying on the bed together and watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother (2005).
Sleep next to one another...a little before 4 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 12:12 AM
Alarm goes off at 11:20 a.m.
Cinnamon Oatmeal with Raisins, Flax Seed, Brown Sugar, and Milk. Orange Juice.
5-hour Mae rehearsal at Dave’s in-laws. Practicing in a freezing cold room above the garage. An old tour friend of ours, Billy Reed pops in to visit.
Banana. Pear. Trail Mix. Coffee.
Back home...and immediately amidst all the hectic motion of new roommates moving in. I take on the role of clean-up crew and separate the salvageable junk from the real junk. Helping lug dressers and beds and desks around.
Tuna Steak with Fettuccine and Onions. Baby Broccoli. Carrot with Ranch.
1435 is the meeting place for the New York bound Live-Crew. Everyone’s here hanging out until midnight. I snag Anthony and a few others for a quick game of basketball on the Friend’s School courts. I’ve dubbed this “The Last Game” as Anthony will be leaving us for a long time. It’s an unequal ratio for teams. Anthony and I versus Skippy, Kevin, and Mo. Mo is a sporty black friend of D’Andrea’s who has obvious ballin’ abilities, and with an all-star cast of strong players this will show to be a challenge for the duo. But we cut straight to the chase knocking down four rapid shots before they even reach a score of two. We kill it in the end with a win of 6-5.
Taking the kids to the China bus station next to Rick’s Café. James Graves, Josh, Kevin, and the others are fully prepared for the New Years New York 2012 adventure, with a bottle of wine, cans of PBR’s stashed and spread out evenly throughout everyone’s bags, winter jackets, and an open mind for the great nights to come. I would be joining them but I have prior European obligations with Mae—my own adventure to look forward to. I open my arms to give Anthony one last hug. He’ll be continuing his travels across the country and moving to San Diego/Mexico. Watching him depart from my life for a time::::::an internal tear is shed.
Peanut Butter Bagel. A bowl of Lucky Charms cereal.
Watching Dive!: Living Off America’s Waste (2011).
It’s tough being the patriarch of this house, but also a natural role. I’m going to be a good father.
Sleep around 4 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 2:07 AM
DREAM: In my parent’s old house in Ocean Lakes. Some kind of party going on. Josiah bumbling around looking for something to drink. I can sense he’s had quite a lot already...
Me: “Stop drinking! There is no more alcohol in this house.”
At some point I find him unsatisfied on a chair in the living room. I lean over him and announce, “You don’t trust him do you? That’s been your problem this whole time.”
I suppose I was referring to God.
Waking up around noon.
Cinnamon Oatmeal with Flax Seed, Raisins, Brown Sugar, and Milk.
Mae is notorious for being last minute. Here we are a few days before a European tour and we’re just now rehearsing. But with a touring history such as ours, and the fact that we’ve performed these songs thousands of times before, this is nothing.
In the old tour van with Jacob and Mark carpooling to some place out in near Moyock where Dave’s in-laws have offered us their garage space for practice.
Me: “Man it’s been a while since I’ve been in this thing!” referring to the van.
Jacob: “And I [we] don’t miss it one bit.”
Me: “Actually, I kind of do.”
Eating a bag of Potato Chip Trio with Honey Oolong Tea and a Banana.
45 minutes before practice, Dave is texting us that he doesn’t have an amp. Zach only has about an hour to rehearse. And now Mark just remembered he left his bass in his car.
Me: “We are unprepared as fuck.”
All we can do is laugh it off for the 30-minute trek into the backwoods of Chesapeake.
Everything works out and it’s a fairly productive rehearsal as we brush through select songs...“Dusting off the cobwebs” as Zach would say.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Hummus. Pear. Strawberry Yogurt.
I grab Elisa and D’Andrea and we drive to a house show in Kings Grant where Elliott’s band, You’re Jovian and a few other punk bands from New Jersey are playing. Socializing—breathing in the brisk smokey air—loud guitars and drums—antique pick-up truck as a backdrop for the stage.
Back home. Making dinner with Elisa. Macaroni and Cheese with Lentils and Mixed Vegetables. D’Andrea joins us at the table. She’s a little sheltered and not used to such a free-form atmosphere but eager to be a part of it.
Poker night happens. It’s been at least 3 or 4 weeks...
The topic of Superman comes up after James Graves claims he can see anyone’s cards by just touching them...
Darren: “Superman can do anything.”
James: “No he’s a fictional character. He can’t do anything!”
Darren and Art are left to split the pot as to avoid a game that would continue on forever.
Watching The Pledge (2001).
Sleep 4 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 2:00 AM
Around 7 a.m. I wake up to the expected rustling movements from my sleeping partner. God, the way she touches me. It’s that same feeling you get when dipping into a hot steamy Jacuzzi::::an ultra pleasing satisfaction that cannot compare. I like early morning sex. Afterwards, I pour her some lemon water and pop open a beer for myself. We lay there, my arm around her, and her sweet head pressed against my chest.
Her: “You’re my best friend.”
Back to sleeping...
Waking up at 1:22 p.m.
Cinnamon Oatmeal with Brown Sugar and Milk. Orange Juice. Biotin (1,000 mcg).
Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Hummus. Potato Chip Trio. Honey Oolong Tea with Aloe Vera Juice. Prunes.
Josiah gives me the rundown on what was going through his mind when he angrily knocked over everything last night. Dilemmas in male competition and social anxiety.
Marinated Tuna Steaks with Onions, Curry Fettuccine, and Baby Broccoli.
People pop in and out of the house...hanging out in the dining room...90’s tunes on the radio. Rachel and her dog, Kino surprise us all with their presence. We all give her big hugs. Earlier I found this mini-horse painting kit. I pass it on to Rachel and Josiah and they do it up on the kitchen floor...
Kevin: “I never thought I’d see Rachel painting horses in the kitchen.”
Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies for everyone.
I get into this decorating mode. Pulling out old posters and pictures. Filling the blank spaces on the walls. Anthony records a song on his Mac Book while I roam around adding more color to the house.
Sleep sometime later...
Posted by James Robert Smith at 1:54 AM
Waking up at 11:16 a.m.
Instant Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Hummus. Potato Chip Trio. Honey Oolong Tea.
Pear. Fig Bar.
Tofu and Mixed Vegetables with Rice and Garlic Sauce.
Reading an interesting blog article on natural and dark ecstasy...
“People are constantly exposed to furniture and flat shapes and non-biological structures in our civilized urban life, but the human mind was not created to be surrounded by the Euclidean geometric shapes. Human consciousness is designed to be surrounded and immersed in the psychedelic fractal geometry of biological forms kaleidoscope of organic earth.”[ii]
Finally off...back home.
Everyone’s over here...
Friend’s School. Competitive 4-on-4 basketball game in the 37 degree cold. Hot steam emitting from the urine. Foggy breath. Freezing fingertips.
We do another game of 2-on-2. Before we start I take a short look at the picnic table where all the bystanders are gathered smoking their cheap cigarettes and chitchatting and playing guitar.
“Look at that image over there. I wish someone would paint that.”
Back at the house. Unwinding.
Josiah hobbles downstairs into the dining room where a few of us are. We greet him and all of a sudden he pushes the free game box over and turns over the lounge chair and tosses the folding chairs in the air, and in a drunken fit causes mass destruction to the whole room. Something tripped in him. I knew he drank a whole bottle of wine but he was happy and jovial earlier on the courts. I tumble on the ground attempting to restrict his movement. Skippy and Kevin help.
Kevin: “Dude, what the fuck is your problem?”
Me: “Just breathe, man.”
We let him go and he saunters upstairs to his room and mumbles, “Don’t worry. I’m taking a vow of silence for a year.”
On the way he knocks a few more things over...
Skippy: “I think if Josiah actually takes a vow of silence I wouldn’t even be mad at him.”
Later, Margot stops in and provides wine...sipping on it, lounging in the living room getting into a discussion on the existence of ghosts and aliens, and paranormal experiences.
In my room with her, lying down and falling asleep...
Waking up briefly and considering some things...
Pondering the meaning behind what Josiah did earlier. Not to give him any excuses or justify his freak-out actions, but I think I get what he was doing. He was rebelling against all the urban man-made obstructions that surrounded him in this house, and there are many. The dark ecstasy was too much for him. Destruction seemed to be the only solution. Get rid of everything. Clear it out. Make way for natural whiteness and emptiness. Bring back the nature in all of us.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 8:15 PM
DREAM: I’m a runaway in Germany. On a motorcycle zooming through the countryside on dirt/gravel roads—sometimes through neighborhoods. Everything is foreign. The terrain unfamiliar. A gang of other motorcyclists track me down. A helicopter overhead. But I’m too fast and agile. Later on I hook up with an entourage of bandits who have the same reasons to run. An officer of the law joins our brigade to test us and see if we slip up any information. Sitting around a table. I’m conscious of what I say being careful not to mention anything related to the fact that we’re renegades and not just travelers.
Waking up a little late for work. 12:18 p.m.
Banana. Orange Juice.
It’s a China Wok Christmas for me this weekend. Just another workday.
It’s busy. Non-stop. The tips are either really shitty or very generous.
Quotes from customers...
“I can’t believe you guys are open for Christmas!”
“Thank you for being open!”
One guy off Lynnhaven Parkway hands me a dollar bill as a tip and says, “Sorry. But Merry Christmas though.” Oh that’s real thoughtful of you. Order $20 worth of Chinese food then act like you can’t afford to tip the guy who just trekked over here on Christmas day.
During my hectic delivery travels...certain songs come up on my iPod that strike familiar chords in the memories of my heart...memories of a fond friendship lost. It seems like a lifetime has past since I’ve even allowed a genuine thought to creep up. And there you are peeking through the recesses of my mind for at least three and a half minutes. Then it’s back to the grind...
Just when I think it’s over, another bagged order is waiting for me at the restaurant. C’mon, it’s 10:30! I want out of here!
Stephanie threw a Christmas party at her place. I was going to attend and bring Margot but I knew I didn’t have interest in social stimulation. I’d rather relax and chill with my eyes glued to a movie.
Heading to Margot’s place in Bay Colony. Cracking open a beer while I’m driving...even as at least four cops pass me along the way. I was tired of waiting for that moment of resolution when the bubbly liquid soothes my senses.
In the den. Chowing down on Vegetable Lo Mein and a few Miller High Life’s. Watching TRON: Legacy (2010).
Eating some of her Grandma’s homemade Pumpkin Raisin Bread.
Sleep 4 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 11:56 PM
DREAM: I’m delivering for China Wok. There’s a kid’s festival going on. I park right next to a stop sign in the gravel. Leaving the car running while I deliver this bag of food. I notice a gang of husky red necks corral around my car. One of them opens the door. I run back to the car to investigate but I try to be nonchalant about it.
“Soooo...what are you guys doing?”
Some of them stay in the car as I prepare to take off. A cop pulls up behind me and gives me a ticket for being parked at a stop sign...
“No. No. No. You can’t be serious!”
After receiving the yellow piece of paper I follow the cop up the street and demand he take it back.
“Look man, this doesn’t make any sense. I was only parked there for a minute. I can’t afford this.”
He has no sympathy.
Alarm goes off at 11:11 a.m.
Egg and Cheese Biscuit and Cinnamon Twist from Bojangles. Orange Juice.
It’s Christmas Eve and I’m working a full day shift at China Wok.
Peanut Butter Bagel. Potato Chip Trio. Honey Green Tea.
Just another day delivering...
Snapping the peas on the down time.
Nicole drops by. It’s good to see her. Mental stimulation and analytical practice is a given when spending any time with her.
Steady orders come and go...
Finally off work. I stop by Harpoon Larry’s where Margot is working. She asked me to visit. I sit there at the bar and eat my Tofu and Mixed Vegetables with Rice in Garlic Sauce while she tends to a few tables. It’s just my presence that makes her feel secure and comfortable.
Unwinding back home.
A bowl of Cheerios with Brown Sugar and Milk.
Watching TRON: Legacy (2010).
Sleep around 4 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 3:22 PM
Waking up around 1 p.m.
Scrambled Eggs. Cinnamon Bagel with Butter. Instant Cinnamon Swirl Oatmeal. Orange Juice.
My dad and I watch the perils of lions hunting for buffalo on TV.
“The eternal dance of Africa.”
We drive to Greenville to visit some other family members, my great-aunt Susan and Dolores. Susan lives in a mobile home right across the way from where my grandma used to live before she passed away.
We sit around drinking Coffee and snacking on Fudge Cookies. Looking through old photos that Susan has collected in a shoebox. All of them find a favorable resemblance between her son, Bob and me. I’m shown a yearbook photo of him, clad in the classic 60’s black framed glasses similar to the ones I currently wear.
Dolores: “You even have his mannerisms, too.”
It’s so amazing to see all these frozen shots in time from a generation past. Photographic. Black and white. I notice how much the young and beautiful Susan in these pictures looks just like the actress Tina Majorino, popular in movies like Andre, Waterworld, and Napoleon Dynamite.
On the hour-long trip back to Goldsboro. I listen to my dad up in the front tell stories of his struggling hardships growing up after his dad and mother split up. I never met my dad’s dad. He died before I was even born (1981).
Dad: “He drank hisself to death.”
My dad starts to recall his upbringing and memories...
Dad: “Christmas time used to be...like I was saying earlier we always came to Greenville. We went to my granddaddy Smith’s and stay a night or two there then we go to my other grandmother’s. Then we go back to grandma Smith’s cause they had the farm. My uncles and them would always have firecrackers and we’d shoot firecrackers. We used to have a good time. And my dad and all them they’d always go out to the barn. ‘Ey...ey...c’mon’ They always go out to the porch...they’d be sneaking around like no one knew what they were doin’.”
Me: “What were they doing?”
Dad: “Drinking whiskey. And down at the back of the barn they’d go down there and they stay down there all day long drinkin’. ‘Les’ get a lil snort’ Used to have a lot of fun. My uncle Bill. He’s dead now. He was always an entrepreneur. He always had a little store and he was selling bootlegged whiskey. He’d get at different houses and drop off a pint of whiskey. I used to go with him in town once in a while. One time I told him, I said...I had this big light, ‘Let’s put this light on top of the car like we the police.’ Went over to this black people’s house and ain’t nobody come out! [Haha] This one black guy. His name was Robert Lewis. He loved my daddy. He’d be down at that farm all the time.”
Remembering my grandma’s deathbed...
Dad: “That’s something I won’t never forget. Whenever we took her off the machine. We were all in there. And as soon as they unplugged it, in about a minute...I was holding her hand and you could see the color just changed...I think she knew she was gonna die. One day I come over there she said, ‘Son, I wanna go to the house.’ You know, the trailer. I said ‘Okay.’ I went and picked her up. I had to carry her. Went to the trailer. Sat down in her recliner. In about five minutes she said, ‘I’m ready to go.’”
Me: “It’s good she had the opportunity to have that realization. Not just go like that. To resolve everything in her life. I think that’s the way everyone should be able to die...”
Dad: “A lot of people do. They notice. I guess it’s something that maybe God does...in your spirit. You kind of know it’s your time.”
Me: “Your body is on a time clock and it knows when it’s time.”
Recounting his upbringing and early childhood...
Dad: “We had a nice...I mean like a Leave It To Beaver type family. We had a nice home. My daddy he had his own business. He had the jewelry store. We were living a good life for that time. He was talented in watch repair. I mean he could fix anybody’s watch. If you couldn’t get it fixed you’d take it to him, he’d fix it. He used to make jewelry...”
[RING RING RING]
Cell phone rings and interrupts the story.
Dad: “We grew up in a house in Columbia. Like I said, I was in seventh or eighth grade [when his mom and dad split up]. From that point on I really didn’t have anywhere to live. I stayed with my uncle JW. He had a little utility room. I slept on a little cot. I didn’t have a room or anything. Then one year I stayed with a friend of mine. He had a house in Columbia...a big house. He let me stay up top of the house...”
Me: “What about grandma. Why didn’t you stay with her?”
Dad: “She couldn’t afford for me to stay. We didn’t hardly have any food. Judy [his sister] and I, we’d come home for lunch, and her and I split a sandwich for lunch...I didn’t have any clothes or money. I went to school. I didn’t have anything to buy lunch for school. At that time lunch was like a quarter. And I had to borrow a quarter every day to eat lunch.”
Dad: “Before my mom and dad actually split up my dad wanted to move to Asheboro. He went up there and got a job at a jewelry store. He would work up there during the weekend. He wanted mother and all us to move to Asheboro and start over, start a new life. And my mother didn’t want to. She didn’t want to move to Asheboro. Sometimes I think maybe if we had moved there we might of all still been together. I don’t know...”
Dad: “Columbia was a town...there was nothing to do there but party and drink. It was just a bad environment cause there was nothing to do there. Her friends would always get together and party. My mother she done traveled everywhere. She went to Canada. She did a lot. And my dad did very well at his business.”
Me: “It’s interesting...just that one choice to not go up there.”
Dad: “I always thought that maybe if we had moved...”
Me: “It could have changed everything. I mean who knows, I might not even be here.”
Dad: “You’re right...”
Dad: “At those times things were different. The town of Columbia was like a little thriving little town. They had the main street. They had the stores. There was a drug store there that everybody hung out at. We had a movie theater there. Maybe 8, 900 people lived in this town. At that time when you were younger things were bigger. We always found things to do. In front of the theater there was a gas station. Everybody hung out there. We all went up there and they’d park their car and we’d all sit there and talk in front of the theater. We’d ride around town...circle the block. At that time that was what we did. That was our life you know. We were right there on the water. You know, everybody’d go to the beach. We usually every year, we’d go to Nags Head and vacation for a week. Go fishin’. Uncle JW he lived with us. We had a two-story house. At that time we had no air condition. You’d sleep with your front door open. We kept little puppy dogs. I used to love our little dogs...little collies. Somebody poisoned one of them. The other one his name was Skippy, Skippy and Trixie was their names. Trixie got struck by lightening one day...”
Then recapping my childhood memories at the house in Dudley, North Carolina that my dad used to live at and I used to spend summers there.
Dad: “Yeah we had a good time there.”
Dad: “Remember that day you set the woods on fire?”
Me: “Yeah I remember that. The fire marshal came out.”
Dad: “Y’all camped out over there in them woods.”
Me: “Yeah. We’d make clubhouses. Remember that one time I ran into Trey? Had to get stitches.”
Dad: “A lot of people never go anywhere. My granddaddy, he never left the farm. He didn’t go anywhere. If he went somewhere he had to be home at dark. I have a lot of good memories from out there on the farm. They’d take me out there every summer and drop me off. I used to cry. I was homesick. I’d sit on that porch with my granddaddy and I’d look at the road. I say, ‘Somebody’s comin’! Somebody’s comin’!’ My grandmother she was the sweetest lady. She loved all of her children. I don’t care what they did, if they did something wrong. My daddy he was bad to the bone. She’d say, ‘James, you know he loves you, son.’ I said, ‘Gradmamma, he don’t love us.’ ‘Yes he does’ ‘No he don’t.’ I said, ‘Look at him. All he does is drink. He don’t never help momma take care of us.’ Every time I’d go see him, he would cry. He’d be drunk. It was such a waste of life cause he was so talented. He had a good business. He was well known. He was really gifted at what he did.”
Dad: “He used to drive. Him and a friend they’d go bullfroggin’. Catching bullfrogs. Big ole’ frogs in the ponds. You eat them. The frog legs. You fry em’ like you would chicken. They were good! I used to go get em’. Me and my cousin Joey. Him and I go bullfroggin’ sometimes. We’d put the boat in the pond. Springtime. After it rained. Lots of bullfrogs. You’d see em’. You put the light in their eyes. You’d always have to be careful for snakes. We’d get a whole sack full of frogs. Clean em’. Fry them things up. We’d have a pole with a gig on it with 3 points. Shine the light on em’ and it blinds em’. Then you gig em’. That used to be a popular thing.”
Dad: “Uncle JW. He’s a very interesting person. He has a lot of stories to tell you. About how he’d make money and a lot of stuff about his childhood too. He has a lot antique stuff. Stuff from his mother and all that. Stuff from the Civil War. You know they had slaves.”
Dad: “The people on my dad’s side were like entrepreneurs. Like they were always successful.”
These are the kinds of stories I’ve been waiting to hear...
Upon arrival we head over to my dad’s neighbor’s place a few houses down the street. They’re having a Christmas party. Lots of food and random people I don’t know. Small talk and forced laughs, but not too unnatural...just finding a way to adapt to the older upper middle class crowd.
Eating Chicken Wings. Veggies. Fruit. Chicken Salad Sandwiches. Sweet Tea.
Erika, his beautiful wife from Honduras walks out of the room. And I ask my dad, “Are you happy with her?”
Dad: “Yeah. She’s a good girl. I believe you should bless people when you’ve been blessed.”
Power napping in the Christmas room that’s decked out with a picture-perfect Christmas tree, fake flowers, and niceties that match everything you would find from a photo in Southern Living magazine.
Before I take off for Virginia Beach my dad tells me when I go to England that I should ask someone on the street where I can “spend a penny”. He won’t tell me what it means.
Driving the three hour or so trip back...in the night...blasting music.
Using the $30 gift card for McDonald’s that my dad and Erika gave me in a Christmas card to get French Fries as a snack.
Talking with my mom on the phone for the rest of the way home. Working through our respective life struggles...
Me: “I have eight or ten arms flailing around reaching in all directions. I just don’t have time to take two of them and give one person all this attention.”
Back in my humble abode...
Settling in my bedroom.
Eating a bowl of Cheerios with Brown Sugar and Milk.
Sleep 4:42 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 3:18 PM
DREAM: Watching a scene where a woman is swimming in a bay. A man opens the back door to a house to find his lover bloodied from something as if she was severely punctured. She’s in shock and starts to whimper in a repetitive baby-like tone. The man doesn’t know what to do. I’m forced to watch the scene again but now I’m actually standing there on the porch. This time the girl jumps up out of the water and runs to the garage. Her walk is in slow motion and I can see the details of the wounds. Her face is flat as a pancake and enormously long. Eyes caved in. Still bloody. A grotesque and terrifying image. Ghostly. She’s more like an evil spirit. I attempt to taunt this monstrosity by making my presence known. She immediately charges in my direction. I cower and am forced to close my dream-eyes to try and wake myself up.
Half awake now, I feel a pulse beating rapidly in my right arm where it’s tucked away under Margot’s head.
Getting up around 11:30 a.m.
Instant Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal. Coffee. Biotin.
In route to visit my dad in Goldsboro, North Carolina. It’s about a 4-hour drive. The GPS suggests I95 but I prefer to take VA-17 because it’s more scenic and nostalgic, as well it is less stressful. Masta Killa and random oldies on the stereo.
Egg Salad Sandwich with Tomato. Potato Chip Trio. Honey Green Tea.
I pull up into the driveway of my dad’s big green house, custom-built. He’s lounging in a lawn chair with his neighbor buddy, Keith, sipping on beers. I haven’t seen him a long time, normally it’s once a year and his first words are, “Why you got purple shoes?”
He’s disappointed I didn’t bring my “geetar” as he likes to pronounce it. So I’m sent off to a pawnshop with Erika, his young Honduras wife, to retrieve a $50 one (she pays). Even though she’s not well versed in English, she’s quite a talker. She’s got a sweet demeanor and provides the classic supportive wifey role for my dad.
Back at the house. Keith takes my dad and I to his garage next door. Two shiny Harley Davidsons parked side by side. Vintage motorcycle brand and motor oil company posters with busty women in bikinis on the wall. He offers me a shot from a jug of moonshine he got from a friend. Between 150 and 190-proof, he says.
Keith: “White liquor is pretty smooth. But I’m gon’ tell ya. It’ll creep up on ya and it’ll knock your dick in your watch pocket quick...I mean, I drink it like it’s water...A whole jug’ll put you in your grave. But a whole shot...in 45 minutes you’ll be in pretty good shape. You’ll be loose.”
My dad invited some other neighbors and friends over...
Out on the back porch. Ribs slow cooking on the grill. Mexican beers. Wine. More moonshine.
Joe, a neighbor of my dad’s whose a Vietnam veteran recalls, “My daddy used to have a jug of it sittin’ around all the time...One time I got a little messed up in Nam and uh, I shot six elephants. Cause what happens is, in the highlands in Vietnam, they had red clay, right? So the elephants went and layed down and rolled around in it. And we were pretty messed up with five back. And one other guy goes ‘I see pink elephants!’ So I shot the damn things. Rolled them up with an M60 iron pound.”
Keith: “No wonder they didn’t get you for killin’ elephants.”
Joe: “They tried to do anything to me I’d shoot them too.”
Talking about the old wooden rollercoaster that used to exist in an amusement park in Ocean View.
Me: “Yeah they blew it up in a movie...in the 70’s.”
Dad: “That was the first rollercoaster I ever rode on.”
Eating a bunch of tasty well seasoned Ribs with Butter Beans. Chugging Tecate and Dos Equis.
Summertime-like weather with a cool breeze—nothing at all that resembles Christmas. Carolinian southern twang hot in the air. Alcohol buzz in my blood. My dad’s been off work for a week or two so I guess he’s trying to enjoy himself. He’s always been one to facilitate liveliness even in his 60’s—he loves music even though he can’t play a lick on any instrument or sing all that in tune. But this is the reason the “geetar” was a must. I’m provoked into playing a bunch of tunes. Christmas songs. Oldies. “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog...” Even Weezer and The Shins pop up somewhere in the mix. Eventually, the stereo is cranked up with classic songs from whatever decade seems appropriate. More Oldies. Swing. 80’s Rock. I smoke a Black & Mild off to the side and watch Erika and a Puerto Rican lady of similar age (early 40’s) shake and twist and dance without inhibitions. My dad and I join in. This is the opposite of what I expected when I came to visit. Not the demographic I’m used to partying with but it’s the same spirit of LIVE, just within the constructs of an older generation. It’s good to see my dad happy and enjoying himself.
After this realization I announce, “The older you get, the younger you stay!”
Unwinding with 4 slices of Pumpkin Pie.
It’s not even midnight and I can’t resist the urge to take a nap. I’m beat. That moonshine and those beers put me out.
Sleep 3:30 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 3:24 PM
DREAM: Silvery apartment condo with an LED security enforced glass door. I press a glowing red “4” button to open it up. The mob is after my wife and I. We cheated ourselves out of a deal with them. Inside. We’re safe now. But recalling just a few days ago when they somehow got in before we arrived. I trot around the whole place to make sure they’re not hiding anywhere. There are too many rooms and closets and spaces they could be. At the far end of the loft is a game room where I find family members and friends competing in a game of pool. Hors d'oeuvre spread out on a counter. I grab a crinkle pastry dipped in a berry Jell-O. Everything seems to be jovial on this side of the loft.
Waking up at 1:43 p.m. from a hard sleep.
Instant Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal. Orange Juice.
Helping Anthony record a harmony part for a new song he’s doing in the bathroom.
Tweaking decorations in the house.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Hummus. Potato Chip Trio. Honey Green Tea.
Watching Peacock (2010).
Picking up some cool stuff from the thrift store—touch lamps, books, bread box.
Hanging up sheets in the living room.
There’s a built-in clothes hamper in the hallway upstairs that’s full of random towels and clothes belonging to who knows who. After opening I find the shape of the pile still in tact.
Margot treats me to Bangkok Garden [Bangkokky] as a favor for taking care of her the other night when she was deliriously drunk and threw up...
Eating Chicken Pad Thai and Spring Rolls with Thai Tea.
She pulls out her credit card and says, “Thanks for cleaning up my vom.”
Back home. The cavalry’s here—people use our place as a station of sorts. We’re like TCC: from here, go anywhere.
Showing Nikole, a potential new roommate and friend of Elisa’s, the house.
I drive over to Margot’s place in Bay Colony to make Christmas Cookies, a tradition she has taken a liking to and to which we did together last Christmas…
Then settling down to watch the first of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie (2011).
Stuffing my face with Cookies and Milk.
Me: “Okay so we made Christmas cookies. Now, we have to make Christmas cookies [emphasis on the cookies]”
She knew what I meant. She hops on top of me and we go at it. This could be the last time we ever get the opportunity to have sex in this den. After it’s over...
Me: “Well that was cute.”
She follows me back to the house and spends the night.
Sleep shortly after 4:30 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 3:17 PM
Waking up just before 1:30 p.m.
Fruit and Nut Bar. Banana.
Dropping my car off at the Progressive service center for repairs caused from the sideswipe done by another driver. They give me a Chevy HHR rental to use in the meantime.
Then, to the bank to tweak some problems with a new credit card I just received in the mail and to discuss re-financing of my auto loan.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Hummus. Potato Chip Trio. Honey Green Tea.
Meeting with a new roommate.
Darren cooked up a curry dish with Steak, Broccoli, Peppers, Onions, and Rice. Sharing it at the card table with him and Devon.
It’s boy’s night out on the Friend’s School basketball courts. We compete in two 3-on-3 games with a misty rain in the air, slippery shoes, and knockout moves.
Eating a bowl of Cheerios with Brown Sugar and Milk.
Rummaging through the clutter that has built up against the walls of the house, mainly the dining room. Paul Simon provides the soundtrack. Hanging up pictures torn down from the wrecking crew that plowed through here a few days ago. Sweeping. Cleaning. Organizing. Reaching far down into the forgotten cracks and crevices where lie hideous spider exoskeletons, old mix CDs encrusted with tamarind crystals, onion shavings, and lost paper notes with clever epiphanies.
Watching Peacock (2010).
Sleep 5:30 a.m.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 2:49 PM
Waking up around 11:16 a.m.
Egg and Cheese Biscuit and Cinnamon Twist from Bojangles. Orange Juice.
The Christmas season makes the traffic in Hilltop even more hellish than normal.
= = = = = = = = = = = = =
The sprawl. I’m a slave to it.
Zippered into the cattle.
Obstruction after obstruction.
No anger resolution.
Punch the upholstery.
Vocalize my malice.
No difference. It’s over.
Peanut Butter Bagel. Potato Chip Trio. Honey Green Tea.
The sun is such a nuisance.
Busy. Busy. Busy.
No time to sit.
Just another sunlit zoom-zoom day.
Anthony sends me an excerpt through text, “‘My interest in Neal is the interest I might have had in my brother that died when I was five years old to be utterly straight about it. We have a lot of fun together and our lives are fucked up and so there it stands. Do you know how many states we’ve been in together?’ – Jack Kerouac in the original On the Road scroll.”
Me: “thats whats missing in our relationship...we’ve only been in one state together.”
Anthony: “I think we’ve been through enough emotional ones to last awhile.”
Finally off work. It’s 10:30.
Settling down in my room eating Lemon Chicken with Rice and Mixed Vegetables and a Mickey’s.
Watching Last Man Standing (1996).
Scheduling. Organizing. Planning.
Apple Pie. Milk.
Becca is cutting a significant portion of Anthony’s long flowing hair off. After, I invite her up. On the bed, I prop my feet up on her back and we catch up on things, analyzing the people in our lives.
Sleep at some unreasonable hour.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 1:22 AM
DREAM: This kid is taking drink orders behind a bar outside. He specializes in frozen alcoholic drinks. I pick the ginger rum. After a while everyone gets anxious and impatient because it’s been hours. He explains that it’s going to take a long time because they need to stay in the deep freezer.
Alarm goes off at 11:35 a.m.
Before I leave for work, I kneel over her in the bed. Pulling the sheets off, revealing her glorious naked figure. I scan over the curvatures and slick features. She’s so fucking beautiful...but a fucking mess internally and it’s such a fucking shame.
Banana. Fig Bar. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
Grilled Egg Sandwich with Mayonnaise and Tomato. Potato Chip Trio. Vitamin Water.
Margot does a surprise visit...
Complimenting my 4-day-old shaven face, “I like you with scruff.”
Riding around. She brings up something trivial about being left out of last Friday’s activities at The Belmont and how I didn’t invite her. Of course this was the day after her little breakdown with me so I didn’t necessarily want to see her so soon after that fiasco. It still baffles my mind how one-sided she is when stating her feelings. She has no ability to put herself in anyone else’s shoes. I run my mouth, lecturing her on this subject...
Me: “Margot, you know I’m a really understanding person. And I’ve been incredibly understanding when listening to you. The least you could do is return the favor.”
The day continues and so do the orders. Not much time to pop a squat for more than a few seconds.
Boston Crème Donut and Coffee from 7-11.
Elliott drops by and rides around on a few deliveries.
Tofu and Mixed Vegetables and Rice and Garlic Sauce.
Finally off work.
I was forewarned about a destructive rampage at the house so when I arrived that’s exactly what I witnessed, at least the after math of it. Anthony informed me the other day that Josh would be visiting the house. I knew what was in store. But apparently he brought along a mass of kids from Norfolk. The place is a complete wreck—pictures torn off walls—couches turned over—clothes—records—food—covering every square inch of the floor. Should I be upset? Having no time to comprehend the scene I retreat to my bedroom immediately.
Margot was at some Christmas-Sweater party at a co-worker’s house in the south end of the oceanfront. She calls/texts me, super duper drunk, not angry drunk, but anxious and tender drunk.
“I MISSS YOU...COME GET MEEE!”
But she almost sounds upset—crying. It’s nothing but a hazy daze she’s stuck in. I trek over there and pick her up. In the passenger seat she’s exhausted and still crying about how much she misses me...
Me: “I’m right here. It’s okay.”
Her: “I don’t feel well.”
I hand her a brown grocery bag...and shortly after, chunky liquid starts pouring out of her mouth. Some of it misses the bag and drips onto her black tights. It’s a mess. I escort her out of the car and into my bedroom. Pulling off her clothes as she stumbles around. I put them in the wash and tuck her under the sheets. I’m her caretaker for the night.
Downstairs, talking with James Graves and Leisa. Sipping on a Mickey’s. Leisa tells us of an interesting professor-student romance that developed from last semester at her college in Eugene, Oregon.
Anthony picks up around the house attempting to clean up as much as possible.
A broken VHS tape is found and some decide it’d be a good idea to tie themselves up in the VHS plarn...
The house made it into Wikipedia...
“Although the biggest part of Virginia Beach’s culture is dedicated to getting LIVE. The epicenter of live activities being 1435 Taureau Ct...aka 1430-live. Robert’s blog documents the events that happen there, a year after they occur.”
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
I hear her moving in the bed. Awakened, she mutters crazy things that don’t make sense. It almost sounds like a baby when it’s first learning to speak. It’s quite adorable.
Eating a bowl of Cheerios with Brown Sugar.
Joining her in slumber around 4 a.m.
Around 7 I feel her soft hands on my bare shoulders touching, poking, pining for my attention. I’m in a dreamy daze and don’t respond enough for her liking. She’s more coherent now and little by little she wins me over—she slips off her panties—I know what that means and yes, I’m up for it. It’s the second night in a row that we’ve had sex. I’m okay with that. But where do we go from here? Is this not the same path we walked down many times before? Being intimate with her is enough to make me surrender. . . . . . But I’m supposed to be a man with wisdom. So I’ll think on this...
Back to sleep.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 1:39 AM