Bill

I met Bill because a Spanish man was furiously masturbating for 8 hours straight 2 feet away from me.

…Yeah.

I had broken my ankle playing dodgeball, or as I was telling people, “I fought a bear. And you should see the bear. But you can’t see the bear. Because he is dead. I fought a bear and murdered him.” I was on a lot of morphine guys, you must understand that. And as a side note I totally get morphine addictions. It’s the best. I could have broken a few more of my bones for fun while on morphine and laughed it off like I just saw a child fall in the supermarket after screaming bloody murder for more Oreos. It was pure hilarity.

I got to the hospital at a brisk 10pm and was told by a scary German doctor that I wouldn’t have surgery until the next morning. So after he massaged my bones around and my girlfriend at the time left for the evening I got wheeled into a room and they told me to go to sleep. What they don’t tell you is that they are going to wake you up every two hours to check your vital signs but they will only give you pain medication every 3 hours or so. So every time those horrible horrible people (they were great but when you’re in pain you say mean things to nice people) woke me up, the nurse and I would just sit there and listen to the man on the other side of the partition really giving it to himself. At first I played it off as normal because that’s what the nurse was doing. She was acting like she was sitting at a coffee shop on a bright sunny afternoon. Maybe everyone does this in the ER? I don’t know. I’ve never been to one. I could be the prude one in this situation. But, just to make sure I wasn’t a straight crazy person, I made sure to mention something to the nurse before she left to restart the countdown of waking me up again in two hours.

“Hey” I said “so, that guy?”

“Oh yeah. I thought you couldn’t hear him. He is here a lot. He doesn’t know any English and tries to scam doctors out of drugs.”

“And…the….”

“Oh right, the masturbating, yeah he does that almost the whole time.”

It was at this point that I realized I was absolutely the crazy person because my response was verbatim, “oh. Well. Alright then.” And then she left. And he stayed. And I tried to sleep to the soothing sounds of what I can only assume we’re two birds of prey fighting for scraps.

The next morning my surgery was scheduled for 10am so they started to give me morphine at 9. It was the best, for the record. A minute or two into that magic erase liquid seeping into my veins like molasses in January my mother walked in. Panicked is the word I’d use for her. And justifiably. Her first born was in the ER. He hadn’t been since he was a baby. I get it. But again, I was on drugs.

There was hugging. And lots of “how’s” and “whys.” To which I slurred back one cohesive word –  “IdunnoMom.” Then the silence hit where she just looked me over in anguish. Then that silence was broken by a Spanish man beating his crotch to a pulp.

“What’s that?” My mom asked.

“A Spanish drug addict jerking himself off,” I replied with a smile on my face and my eyes rolling into the back of my head.

My mom freaked out. She called nurses. She yelled at doctors. She yelled passive aggressively at the Spanish man which did not deter him in the slightest. He was persistent if nothing else.

Hours later my surgery occurred. More drugs. Some new pieces of metal holding my leg together and a lifetime of knowing when it’s going to rain hours before the sky darkens. All great things. When I awoke I was being wheeled into my new room which prompted me to break out into a rousing rendition of “on the road again.” Fun fact: you can scream in jubilation post-surgery and no one will stop you. Give it a hearty try if you get the chance.

When I got back to my NEW room it was 10pm. My mother had gone ballistic for hours which was just long enough for her to convince the hospital to put me in a single room turned into a double with a cloth partition in the center.

When everyone was finally gone I was left alone in a dark room with my ankle pounding and swollen with 2 hours until I could have any more drugs. And I started to cry. As you do when your life is taking a sudden negative turn you didn’t expect and you’re no longer on morphine. A few whimpers in I sniffed loads of mucus in hard (gross, but true) – and during said sniff the television on the wall across from my bed and in the middle of the room turned on. It was on Fox News.

“Bill O’Reilly is a fuckin’ moron.” A low raspy voice rang out into the void of darkness now lit by Bill O’Reilly’s forehead. I opened my eyes and looked over to the blue cloth partition. I had no idea anyone was over on the other side until then. Probably because I wasn’t hearing anyone violently whisper in a language I couldn’t comprehend while flogging his own bishop to no end.

“Ha. Yeah.” I wiped the tears out of my eyes like he could see them.

“I’m Bill. You are?” He asked like he actually wanted to know.

“Ryan.”

“How old are you Ryan?”

“I’m 22. How old are you?”

“Old enough.” Bill pushed his words out with force like if he didn’t sharp shoot them into the world they’d dissipate before he could say them. “What are you doing here? This a vacation for you? Palm Springs or this? Those your options?” Bill was funny.

“I broke my ankle playing dodgeball. Although I’ve been telling people I fought a bear.”

“Yeah I’d stick with that story. The first ones not so great.”

“I caught the ball though! That’s what counts. I got the guy out and held onto the ball through twisting my leg like a pretzel.”

“Yeah, well. Alright then. Still. I’d stick with that bear story of yours twinkle toes.” Bill was really funny.

Bill and I talked for the next 12 hours straight. We covered everything. My College years. His prison years. His Harley collection. My Kia Sorrento. His family. My family. Bill O’Reilly’s stupid face. Favorite kinds of rocks. The best and worst nurses (the tall one my mom yelled at was the worst. She was bad at sponge baths. Scrubbed too hard.) How morphine rocks our socks off. His terminal cancer. Everything.

The chemotherapy didn’t work for Bill. He said it made him sick and he’d “rather be dead than do all that bull shit again.” So that’s what he was going to do. “I got 3 days. Maybe 4.”

I wanted to ask if that scared him. Thankfully I didn’t have too. “Good riddance!” He raised his voice slightly and coughed. It was lung cancer from smoking since he was 13, hence the John Wayne-esque tones coming from his tar ravaged throat. His words, not mine.

We only stopped talking for an hour in the morning when Bill’s entire extended family came to say goodbye. Bill reacted like they were going to too much trouble…like they were trying to pay him for lunch and he was shoving the credit card into the waiters face assuring them that he’s got this. His brother had ridden Bills Harley to the hospital and parked it outside so he could look at it from his window and say one last goodbye. I don’t know why but that’s the part that still makes me cry sometimes.

Bills wife was long gone. The room consisted of Bills brother, a gigantic balding man with a goatee and a riding vest on. His cousin was also there. Also huge. Also bald. Same vest. There were 3 other impressively large guys he called brothers as well but they weren’t and they also had the same vests on. One older woman whom never said aloud who she was to Bill was there as well. She only talked about whiskey. Bill loved whiskey and she just so happened to bring some. And by some I mean a lot. Bill was pleased.

As the family members cycled in and out of the room they would say hi to me when they got to my side of the partition that was still blocking my view. When they’d say hi Bill would yell “that’s Ryan! He fought a bear!” Bill was really very super-d duper funny.

At the end they all cried along with Bill. Through the tears I could hear Bill over and over “y’all are being pussies and it’s wearing off on me.” They’d all laugh quick and then go right back to sobbing openly with each other. When they all left I didn’t say anything for a few minutes. I didn’t know what to say.

“What do you want to do, Ryan?”

“What?” I was startled by the conservation. Bill wasn’t crying anymore. He was back to spitting his words.

“You’re young. What do you want to do now?”

“Well, I guess I just want my leg to heal.”

“No!” He shouted it. “After that you idiot. You have an after. So. What is it?” I had an after and he didn’t. That’s what he meant. I thought about it quickly.

“I want to be happy.”

“Oh yeah?” You could hear the smile while he talked. “And how you gonna do that?”

“I honestly don’t know.” I honestly didn’t.

“Do you want some advice?”

“Yeah. Please.”

“When you’re really really sad just put your hands up in the air and scream like your life depended on it. It releases endorphins into your brain or whatever. You’ll feel better immediately. Also get a dog that loves you.” There was a few seconds of silence. “And that’s pretty much it.”

“Thanks” I said. You could hear the smile in my voice. “I will.”

My eyes grew heavy from not sleeping the entire evening and I slipped into a deep sleep while watching more Fox News in silence. Two hours later they woke me up and handed me crutches. I was leaving the hospital. I put on regular clothes and stood up for the first time in three days. I lumbered on over to the wheelchair and through the sweat and the pain I got myself into it. The nurse started to push me out.

“Wait!” I said turning around to say goodbye. I was in such a daze of drugs and pain that I’d almost forgotten.

But when I turned he wasn’t there. “Where’s Bill?” I asked the nurse in a panic.

“Oh him? It’s time for his sponge bath so he’s down the hall. I’ll say goodbye for you.” I reluctantly accepted her offer and was wheeled down the hallway.

As I was adjusting in my seat and waiting for the elevator to come I heard some screams from down the hall.

“Ow! Owwww! Woman I’d rather see my ex-wife than you.” His voice echoed through the hallway. “You’re the god damn devil!”

And I smiled. Because I never saw him but I knew him. And he knew me. And I never had to say goodbye. But mostly, because I knew that giant nurse was scrubbing him way too hard and he would hate it if he knew I told all of you about it.

And I miss him.

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I Forget What Love Feels Like: Free Write

I forget what love feels like. That sounds overly dramatic, and it is. But hear me out. The last time I was in love was almost three years ago now. I remember being within love. I know that everyone experiences the state of love differently. For me it’s always been a very cerebral process of adding an asset to my life and then adapting to being plural by making the relationship better than both its parts. My brain does that by itself. That is not an effort that I wrote down years ago and then repeated due to overwhelming success. In fact, every relationship I’ve ever been in has failed. If you’re not currently in a relationship or married, every romantic relationship you have ever been within has failed. That’s one of my life hypotheses I always harp on along with white people being the worst kind of people hands down. Those are two of my strongest beliefs…..yeah. Come on over, ladies.

Let me get back to my initial point. If I was to act out a love scene right now, which in the future I will most likely have to do since I write films that have me in them and I use films to act out relationships I wished I had in the first place –  so chances are I’ll have to act out being in love at some point in future, it would be just that. Acting. Acting to me is remembering. Remembering that time you felt that feeling, extrapolating it, blowing it up, and then putting it back together with everything you have and performing those moments in time. And right now I’m having trouble remembering.

When I was in love I was a better person. Well, not better. Nicer. Yeah, I’ll go with nicer. My demeanor towards the world as a whole was brighter, at the very least. I am now three years out of love and my view of the world is filled with bird shit on the windshield that wasn’t there before. Turns out though, that most of the time I prefer the bird shit. It’s just those nasty moments before sleep where you can’t help but feel alone in the bed that is meant for two and only serves one. Those moments in time are easy to act out. I have memories of being alone that are from last night. Not a very far reach.

I’ll take it from another angle. My favorite love sense is touch, which is not my favorite life sense (smell, for those baby birds out there wondering.) The best way I can explain it is….Okay, here is a scenario.

You are in bed with your significant other. A person whose faults you’ve come to terms with. You wake up before them and they are facing the other direction. They moved a bunch during the night, hitting you in the face multiple times, but you love them so you resist the urge to beat them with a pillow in the dark. Their body figured out around 4am that it wanted to be the little spoon and it took that position against your will. That’s not the way you wanted to sleep, but you didn’t want to wake them up and you have to get up in a few hours anyway for something you don’t want to do, so you settle in as big spoon and fall back asleep. Now, you’re ass hole internal alarm wakes you up 10 minutes before the actual alarm goes off. You roll slightly to turn the future alarm off then your body rolls over to see their back. They didn’t put on a shirt the night before. It was warm when you two went to sleep. Now it’s cold and they are asleep but shivering. Their back is full of goose bumps. Your hand runs over their shoulder, feeling the bumps against your skin. The hair on their arms raise up to meet your touch. Their torso adjusts but they don’t wake up. You put your hand in between their shoulder blades and wait for your hand and their back to be the same temperature. Then you move your hand over to their arm to keep the part of their body the covers aren’t reaching warm and you watch the goose bumps fade away. You kiss the back of their neck and then slip out of bed as to not wake them. When you’re getting dressed they wake up and watch you without saying anything. Right as you’re about to leave they make fun of you for wearing that piece of clothing from your old life; the shirt or the shoes or the pants that scream “single and not trying to impress anyone.” Their reward for making fun of you is a kiss goodbye. You turn around halfway out the door and show them a tender spot on your face. “You did it again you know. I’m going to have a black eye and the entire world will know who did it. It was you, by the way. I don’t want to be coy about this, you beat me in your sleep, and I’m gonna hashtag the word beat when I tell Facebook what you’ve done.” Then they give you the finger and say “I love you” simultaneously.You say you love them too and now the rest your day is a countdown until you can love them in person again instead of looking in the mirror and poking your eye to remind yourself of how love is a particular kind of insanity that you can’t believe you’re lucky enough to be a part of.

That’s what love feels like to me. I can describe it in detail. I can act it out. But I can’t actually experience that moment right now.

Love is learning the shape of someone’s back.

Love is forgiving them for the terrible things they do in their sleep.

Love is learning the amount of noise you need to make to “accidentally” wake someone up before you leave for the day so that the last thing you do before you go is say goodbye. They will think it’s a coincidence it happens every time but it’s not. It’s only the byproduct of you not being able to live with the thought of it not happening.

Also sometimes, I mix up forgetting something with wanting something.

I’m Afraid

I’m afraid I’m not talented enough to succeed. I’m afraid that even though I put every fiber of my being into achieving my goal, it still won’t happen because I’m just not good enough.

I’m a writer. Out of all of my hobbies, writing is the one I have invested the greatest amount of true work hours into. Malcolm Gladwell said “… researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.” That might also remind you of a Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song aptly named “10,000 hours,” and for a very good reason, they are based on the same principle. To become an expert at anything according to Mr. Gladwell, you have to put 10,000 hours of practice into whatever it is. To writers, those hours can easily be translated and then subsequently measured by word counts.

So, let’s do some math! Well, I guess I’ll do some math and you just have to keep reading this. Good, I’m glad we had that talk. I am 8 days from being 26 years old and in the spirit of rounding up, let’s just say I’ve been alive for 26 years. I have been literate for 22 of those years. I have been writing stories for 10 of those years. On a weekly basis I average 800 written words, most of which are not publishable. That number includes weeks that I’ve written 20,000 words (that happened one time – it was a very good week) and others when I have written absolutely nothing.

4 x 800 = 3200 words a month

3200 x 12 = 38400 words a year

38400 x 10 years = 384000 words all time

For reference the book I just finished reading, Divergent, has 105,000 words. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is 76,944 words. Ulysses by James Joyce is 265,000 words. The longest novel ever recorded is Mission Earth by L. Ron Hubbard coming in at 1.2 million words. Granted, L. Ron Hubbard can sometimes be described as a  psychotic lunatic, but you have to give it to the dude, he wrote a whole hell of a lot of words. For even more reference, my debut novel Odessa Red (available on Amazon.com) is 45,093 words.

Now, this is not to say that the number of written words automatically equals the quality of your product. It’s just saying that as a writer, the designation I identify myself with the most, I am a relative novice. And in that light, here is the cold hard truth: I’m not good enough yet, but I’ve invested too much time and effort to stop now.

On a related note, I truly love writing and because of that love it doesn’t matter how many times I fail, I will never stop. But what you love and what you’re good at are two very different subjects. I know why I love writing. The idea that words in a particular order that did not exist previously can create entire worlds is absolutely amazing to me, and my ultimate goal is to create worlds that I love and that others can fall in love with as well.

I want that very badly, but I will never say that I want it badly enough that I will definitely succeed. I honestly don’t know if I will succeed, and I think that’s the point. I might not be good enough. I might not have the talent to describe the worlds in my dreams. But that has nothing to do with whether or not I will keep writing. I doubt myself often; mostly at night right before I fall asleep. I ask myself why I keep doing this. Why I try so hard. I read books and think that I’ll never be able to encapsulate a story like they did. But then I fall asleep, wake up, get out of bed, and do it all again. Because the elation brought on by success outweighs the misery of failure. Success hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t know if the previous statement is true or not, but I want it to be true so badly and not trying is a great way to never find out if it can be true.

Everyone has something like this in their lives. I love writing. Ask yourself what you love. I don’t know how you feel, but I know that I’m glad I’m afraid of what I love and I think you should be too. Fear drives me toward an unknown future and personally, I’d rather be afraid than be nothing at all.

First Post Titles are Super Boring

I always go back and forth on whether or not I should actually have a blog or a vlog. That tough decision is not because I don’t think I would have material or writing ability – It’s mostly because I am as unreliable on the internet as I am in real life.

When I say I’m going to do something, I am going to do it. My word is final unless some incredible extenuating circumstance get’s in the way and makes it impossible. When I say I am unreliable I don’t mean that I go back on promises or that I cancel plans just because I don’t want to do something. No, my problem comes before the plans are made and before the promises are doled out.

Before I go on let’s get this out of the way now: I can be a pretentious overbearing offensive crude and unrelenting ass hole. I know this because people have informed me of said behavior. I won’t now get in to why I believe I am this way; so as of now just take my word on it. These characteristics are in no way unique. Talk to most cynical artists and you will find these qualities right on the surface. Ask any writer who actually calls themselves a writer if they have ever fought with some form depression or intense anxiety. I guarantee you most of them will say they have. That’s just how it is. Art can be such a positive and bright force, but only because it has to first rise from a very dark place.

For just that reason, I have no problem with who I am. My friends very much understand what they are signing up for when they step into my life and I step into theirs. I will sometimes hurt them with the truth and I will sometimes offend them with opinions, but never will I mislead them or be false in any ways. I will almost always choose distancing myself before having to be false. I’m as good at burning bridges as I am building them. If you are my friend for long enough I will disappoint you but at the same time I can be the most loyal and loving person in your life. The pros come right along with the cons.

I’m not going to say I will update this on a regular basis because every time I do that I am lying to myself which seems counterproductive. What I will say is that when I have any major updates I will let you internet peeps know.

Also, on a side note, BUY MY BOOK AND STUFF. (link in the sidebar)