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Muse

In love, despite any efforts to stray—my “type” has always remained—the artist. As artist-lovers know, the path can be colorfully romantic, but, often unrewarding. Male artists are sensitive, but selfish, they are passionate, but mercurial, they are full of hope, but also self-doubt. For the women in their lives, it is a constant battle between holding them up and fighting to stay relevant as an equal, a lover, and a muse. Continue reading “Muse”

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Relapse

My landlord went crazy sometime at the end of June. To tell the background of my summer homelessness would mean attempting to articulate the irrationality of human behavior. Does that sound vague? It was meant to be; partly to spare the landlord in question, and partly to spare myself the wrath of publicly declaring one man’s instabilities and mental aberrations. Though, I am not the type to spare my subjects, in this case, it is only necessary to say that, Craigslist is never good at belying mental illness, until it is too late. Continue reading “Relapse”

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My Break-Up With Booze in 12-Steps

Arguably, my longest relationship has been with alcohol. This was almost natural, since I went to high school in Wisconsin where we started constructing beer bongs before we could drive. As a fourteen-year-old, I remember a friend’s dad mixing me hot toddies at the bar in the basement (which also functioned as a taxidermy studio). He used to make koozies out of squirrels, which will give you a real good picture of my roots and the cornerstones of my cultural heritage.

Alcohol and I have a long and tumultuous relationship, one that has inspired heartache, but also some winning times. Needless to say, a post-break up narrative on the subject is a little tricky. It’s like pouring through an old photo album, and like those pictures of an ex, it’s easy to dismiss the fights and romanticize what were undoubtedly some hazy, but first-class nights.

Booze and I…we have traveled the world, walked on beaches, sat on rooftops, lazed on river banks, warmed next to fires… For every really terrible drunk story, there are at least as many, “best night of my life stories.”…but for addicts, “chasing the dragon” is real. You always want that one amazing night back.

Continue reading “My Break-Up With Booze in 12-Steps”

A Mirror

Very rarely are we given the opportunity to see ourselves through another pair of eyes. A birds-eye view of our own life. A first impression. A last impression.  I received word of this piece and wanted to share. I met this writer in Vietnam. Then he wrote about me. 

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Saigon. It’s 9 am and I’m nursing an ick dastardly hangover. I’m staying at the Red Dragon Hotel, and I’ve navigated my way downstairs for the free breakfast. I do not want to be disturbed from my private pain.

“Are you enjoying that book?”

Oh god. Someone’s talking to me. To make matters worse, with an American accent. I look across the dining room through my sunken eyelids and make out a girl with big eyes and bigger brown hair. Go on then…

I’ll call her Cake. It’s 3 hours later and we’re in the Vietnamese History of War museum, making conversation over genocide and war. Amidst the gore, and through the emergence of my stupor, I realise that this girl is oddly beautiful. Initially, she hadn’t really struck a chord with me, possibly due to what seemed like my impending death, but as the day wore on I grew more than accustomed to her unkempt, wild hair, large green eyes, dark olive skin and big, red pouting lips. We make friendly chit chat as we leave the museum.

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Fixtures

For two years, there was a homeless woman living in the alley next door to my first floor duplex. She had erected a massive fort out of plywood, tarps and shrap metal; an intricate, multiple-tiered fort with a ladder, a closet, and a bed made of blankets and garbage. The police never made her dissemble it or move, probably because she was mostly peaceable and any zoning violations were constructively irrelevant in Tucson.

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The End

It could be timing, or love or age or all three. In the end, we strive for a moment we can sit down and say, “I am happy. I have what I need, to stay put, dare I say… settle.” A friend recently sent me this quote: “With the adventurous lives that we live, the real challenge is seeing the adventure in stability.” After over two years of wandering and displacement, it seems I have finally found a comfort in “home” and love. With that, I have obtained an artist visa and decided to remain in Berlin to pursue my writing, life, and other endeavors.

After two years of living Wayward Betty, I am retiring the project. It is interesting to look back on her as a character—she is me, but I am not her. A friend of mine recently noted me that she gave me the kind of strength I needed, an armor and a kind of shield, the kind of person I would have been without weaknesses and doubts. She is the outfit I wore to face the world and I penned her with the greatest admiration.

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Stray Cats (Notes from Berlin)

My first floor Tucson apartment was infested with stray cats. At night I heard them scratching, screaming, fucking beneath the basement floorboards. They made stray cat nests next to the heaters and swaddled cat-babies in the alleys. The ghetto-living was punctuated by a shattered window next to my bed, which looked starkly into a dusty alley lined with desert weeds.

One morning, I awoke to a patch of sun and something else warming my feet. It was furry. When I moved, it moved. Within seconds, I felt the slow crawl of hunting paws first along my legs, the my belly and slowly onto my chest. Before I could wrestle with nature’s invasion, the stray cat put its face in mine and gave a long, almost grateful, “Meeeooooooooow.” After breathing her cat morning breath in my face, she pounced towards the window and made an escape before I had time to offer a cup of coffee.

Throughout that summer, the cat would return occasionally and she was, sweet for a stray, prowling for bowls of milk, or just a warm nights rest. Knowing the elements, I didn’t begrudge her.

Continue reading “Stray Cats (Notes from Berlin)”