First Man, Working Man

Time, lost.

Paycheck, monotony, two weeks to months “temporary” now become the equivalent of an assistant manager, fifty more cents and a shred of authority. It’s easy to play pretend when you’re getting paid, so you do it as much as possible. Keep a lid on those anger issues, hide in the back and prep food, wash some dishes, pretend that you’re not stuck in a love rectangle with the only attractive girl that works the cash register and the rest of your coworkers that Saturday. Flits of joy when you finally get invited to the parties, to drink on the job, to equal the misery you’ve all decided on for yourselves. Half of us have college degrees from art schools and the other half have a coke problem before the age of 25. Looks like we’re both taking turns slicing meat today, we’re no different.

Always make it to work, my Dad would say, no matter what. Hungover? Drunk? Did that many times. No sleep? I’ll take a nap in my car. Suicide attempt by an old flame? Show up to deliver bread in the same button-up you thought would make you look more attractive, nobody will complain if you show up on time. Some ethic is instilled in us that lack anything else to claim, we’ll persist to earn that measly sum. To impress people that benefit off of our little lives. They smile nice, that feels good.

You’ll take on the sixty hour weeks, not saying no feels the same as always saying yes to you. Abundance of opportunity and showered praises, yes, you’ve finally become appreciated. That’s all you ever want, that’s why you put up with this shit. Life and your friends passed you by, rewarded for their compliance with social standards, you’ll try to justify your failings while still comparing yourself to perceived success. You haven’t done anything you actually liked in a long time, but at least Overtime gets paid out a week after you ask for it.

There’s stories, but they’re all the same. You hate the customers, but without them you’re left with yourself. Armies of drunks behind the counter, it feels like we’re brothers in arms, these other small Texas town rejects. I’ve got tongs, i’ve got a loud mouth. We’ve got a twenty year-old alcoholic that looks like a Mario brother, last weekend he punched the toilet so hard the seat cracked. Want to tell him that your pizza slice isn’t long enough? Yelling at homeless people became a treasured pastime. One time a shot-girl grabbed my forearm and laughed at my joke even though she couldn’t hear me. A frat-boy ran up and down the block crying with his pants ripped from ass to ankle, his wallet got stolen. I stayed up every night ’til seven in the morning and cried quiet screaming when I thought God only created life to laugh at His cruelty.

The first time I stepped behind a grill I didn’t move for eight hours uninterrupted. Grease caked into my pores and I got a half-off discount on my burger meal at break. I was high on Thanksgiving so I wore sunglasses at night and said hello to my friend who tried to fight me when we were drunk. I danced in the street back then and spent nights smoking pot in a garage. I gave up on possibilities and chased the life I knew was meant for me, knocking off the trivialities, I still messaged girls on FaceBook instead of talking to them in real life.

Radio Stations, TV Stations, the same apathy, everybody in management curses each other for their incompetency. We’re a big market, so they say, we’re worth the investment from Corporate. They saw fit to have me train on a teleprompter for two weeks before we went live. I got the job because I was hot shit at my internships, my last one I was hired for a joke resume I submitted on a whim. You get far in life for being a smarmy asshole if you know how to do it with a wink, a lesson I learned at the perfect time. My boss was a grown woman that told me every day how much she hated her job and how retarded everybody was, especially our audience. She still told me that I needed College to be happy.

Never completely competent, always exactly enough. A warm body, functioning limbs, could hit buttons on a computer and mumble an excuse for long wait-times. That one rich restaurant gave me chances, I repaid them by not showing up to work as some sordid act of defiance. I arrived to my firing ceremony with a newly-shaved head and combat boots in all black. I looked like a Nazi and celebrated with my unemployed friends over a dollar chili dog dinner.

Hoisting up a projection screen held together by bungee cords and Home Depot piping, in the next life i’m standing fifteen-feet high on stacked shipping containers. There’s poisonous snakes in the dead grass below and we’ve got a Drag Queen show coming up in a few hours. On the Fourth of July we promised fireworks, instead we gave them a cheap licensed stock video and our boss went on one of his “meetings” at midnight. The company credit card bought me twelve boxes of pop-tarts.

The only true reward was the pain of humiliation, wearing uniform red polo tucked into boy shorts, pressing the button on the children-train while your High School crush walks by with her friends. They didn’t know you worked there. You still have three months left to go before you quit, that job interview was promising enough to leave before they could throw you in the battle-boat pool for your birthday. 

At last, we’ve finally exhausted all options but stand-up comedy. The last thing left to live for, I paid five dollars to get ten minutes of stage time to an audience of chairs in Los Angeles. I went on another joy binge, quitting my job thinking I would never return to the restaurant industry, blowing five hundred dollars on a solo train trip to the beginning of my life. Making a brief stop in my hometown to watch my brother’s reluctant graduation from High School. No greater pit of Hell than the entertainment industry, the last dream I hung my neck on, the only thing that got me through the years of bullshit frying my brain with pot and telling girls that I had art in built into my bones. Years of toiling in dirt clubs only to feign success and reduce your life behind you into a fractured imagery, family and friends didn’t know if you ever there to begin with. 

My mom cried at the train station when I left. She didn’t know it might’ve been the last time she ever saw me alive.

Career in Crisis

Life’s complicated when you’re an internet celebrity.

I’m so proud of my baby boy. He was always so flamboyant, so ecstatic about life. He’d get up and give these passionate speeches during the news… had no idea what he was talking about of course, but he was only five years old. He was meant to be a star.

He’s just so smart, I love my baby boy. I remember the first acting audition he had, I pressed and dry-cleaned this suit we bought from the Men’s Warehouse. He wasn’t going to a wedding, he wasn’t going to a dance. He was going to be a genius thespian, and he needed to look the part. $300, worth every penny.

Sometimes I worry for my beautiful baby boy. He seems to be on TV just about every day. There’s always some event, some dire consequence, news bulletins in airport waiting areas and during my hairstyle appointments. Before you judge me: being a one-woman management team is very stressful. The money’s nice, sure, but try taking hourly calls from the Jews at Cable News about this or that national tragedy and tell me i’m crazy. Long-winded promises of riches and the necessity for swaying votes and the like. I’m just kidding, not all of them are Jews.

My baby boy is convincing, he gets it from his mother. They tell me he gets coaching before he goes on-air, but I know he doesn’t need it. I taught him to believe what he was saying, even if he didn’t understand it. I’d tell him to watch my eyes in those meetings with the principals — the convincing is in the eyes, more important than the words. I always had to find ways to get him out of class, find new reasons to move schools, new identities. Sometimes I wish I could be a normal mom and go to PTA meetings, argue with those rich debutante bitches from the Country Club and watch my son do a tap-dance.

I pray to God every night for my baby boy. I pray that we continue to get work, I pray that he one day will stop making that little eye twitch when he gets nervous under the camera light. I know it sounds like i’m praying for something bad to happen, but really, it’s going to happen anyway. I’m just praying that everybody’s able to get something positive out of it. Sometimes, my baby boy calls me really excited, telling me about how he sees his face “trending” on the internet. He thinks it’ll last forever.

My baby boy is more famous and important than any magazine celebrity you can imagine. Sure, he got gypped out of Time’s Person of the Year. Can’t win ‘em all, I guess. But he’s a social media phenom now, he was in a debate with representatives on CNN a few months ago! Or was it last year? Either way, he was devastated that nothing got changed by the lawmakers. Why does he care? I told him to remember: he wouldn’t have a job if they did anything about it. 

WE wouldn’t have a job.

Elemental Detritus

Performing Friday night at the Downtown Art Walk

Our first show was behind a tattoo shop, Tuesday night. We got extremely lucky on the first go, opening up for Texas-touring band Fuckvirus. You had to walk through the parlor chairs to get to the back garage, concrete walls sprayed over in graffiti and a mustached-man selling Bud Light out a rolling party cooler. $5 scribbled in black sharpie on a cardboard sign, I wasn’t ID’d so I bought four.

I hid my backpack under a parked car, and I watched the frontman of the opening band crowd-surf christ-like carried around the circumference of the garage, only about ten people there. Play it loud, the fish restaurant next door will regret that lease, the laundromat the next. I threw up behind the big amp after our first song, I trashed the bathroom after the next. I thought I could handle performing drunk, screaming pig-squeals after the girl I like ditched our show, but that mirror looked like it needed a few more cracks and a knuckle-blood stain. Needless to say, we earned a reputation.

Next show at an art gallery fundraiser for muscular dystrophy, always some deformity that never gets cured. We went after the child ballet, headliner of the night. The mosh pit got so violent that the Cops had to mace and jail our number one fan: Jenkum Jimmy. He had a tiger tattoo and a coke problem, we watched from the foot-high wood pallet stage as he bit the tip of the nose off of the smallest pig. He ripped his tank-top in two and barked nigger at an all-white squadron as they made him dogmeat, our title track Criminal Spacewalk beat in the background. “Free Jimmy” t-shirts sell out at every one of our shows. He got stabbed in the drunk tank.

We were always the youngest band in any circle, we made our T-shirts out of plain white Hanes iron-on patchwork on top. The drummer’s mom’s van’s trunk was our merch table, we never got any groupies. No glory for a death metal band in the early stages, none of us were pedophiles either. I’ve known these guys since elementary school, we’ll die together if we’re lucky. Our last bassist lost his right index finger in a bicycle chain, we went on hiatus until Craigslist gave us a 35 year-old with his own transportation. He’s the one we could do without, hopefully the cirrhosis kills him after our friend can afford the prosthesis.

I used to be afraid of running out of ideas, but High School bites ass and learning about Dark Arts Satan keeps me satisfied. I read Aleister Crowley and Lovecraft an hour a day, I do one hundred push-ups and one hundred sit-ups and exclusively drink sugar-free Monster. I’d cut out this babyfat myself if I had a big enough knife. Sometimes my cat looks tasty, but the last time I tried to lick him he licked me with the whole of his claw, I dig the scratch deeper into my cheek so I get a cool scar. 

The first time I smoked pot it was sprayed over with WD-40, I felt my blood pump to gasoline and my eyes crystallized when I looked into fluorescent lights. I was inspired to write, but all that’s in my notebook is scribbles and dick drawings. My parents couldn’t tell the difference, teenage is about learning how to be a convincing liar, they were too busy watching the nightly news to hear me crack in and out of the window of my locked-door demon den. They want me to be famous, I want me to die at 27 and become the tortured tearjerk legend.

All goals end in glory if you adjust your expectations. 

A Psych Hospital Memoir

When you spend enough time here, you become an expert in compartmentalization. It’s just another day that a girl chokes herself to purple with the ends of her shirt. Her death = someone losing their job. The reason why that other guy was fired? He was rumored to be sucking on her nipples during the night shift.

She spent every day starting new fights with her supposed chola attitude. Staff took great pleasure in the opportunities they had to put her in the restraint chair with necessary roughness. An older man I worked with recounted with a laugh how he got to slam her into a wall after she swung at him with all of her five foot fury. She was supposed to stay at the hospital for a year. She escaped from her Techs while she was being taken across the street to the hospital. She got in a car that was waiting for her outside and sped off. The staff was devastated.

This happens more often than you think. I know i’ve been desperate for pussy in my life, but luckily God gave me enough of a conscious to avoid the somewhat sick and handicapped. Unfortunately, some aren’t so lucky it seems. We had this one patient — 11 year old girl from Honduras or some place like that. She was a big girl, about 5’6, 150, basically my physical match. Embarrassing to say, but true. Her favorite thing to do was bash her head into the wall, scratch herself, run up and down the hallways testing the angled doorknobs and generally being a nuisance. Her first weekend in the Children and Adolescent Unit she pushed me into a wall and tried to steal my badge. Restraint chair soon followed.

Even violent patients can earn enough “Empowerment Points” to afford some ice cream sandwiches.

Another time, she tried to steal a stabbing pen from behind the nurses station, me and another Nurse had to wrestle her to the ground. Restraint chair. Fighting other patients. Restraint chair. Encouraging a sociopathic girl two years her junior to scratch herself to get attention. More pussyfooting from the hot Columbian doctor, slap on the wrist, return to the usual. A nuisance is the term that other employees used. It’s not so much of a crime if you agree without saying anything. Arms-length observation at all times. Happens to the more destructive patients. She was with one of our Evening shift employees, he was known to be pretty slow. The nurse walked in on his rounds while this man, 25 years old, was kissing this child on the mouth. He noticed the nurse standing in shock.

“Ah shit, am I going to jail?”

“Uh… yeah, bro.”

A coworker of mine told me about how she once sucked her boyfriend’s dick in a patient’s room. The patient woke up and asked if she could suck him off too.

This all used to get to me, on the ground level. Walking in between rows of pacing people, head on a swivel like they tell you to do. Your coworkers sure love to dramaticize the environment — it’s generally not as dangerous as they train you to feel. Pain happens here and there, not to everybody, and on little frequency. It makes them feel a little justified, I realized eventually. How else do you feel good making $9 an hour as a 30 year old? Let’s make the scene feel a little scary, like not many people could do this. In truth, it’s exactly what it is. Unskilled gruntwork. Filling out papers that nobody reads. Filing them away where nobody sees them. The patients would receive the same amount of attention if all of these papers disappeared and most of the things they were documented on simply were forgotten. They’ve got to give every employee something to do, just like public school. Formatted business.

Recreation Staff gets paid as well as all other staff. Have hour long lunches, only about three “groups” (playing DVD’s) a day on the weekend, and can freely cancel those groups or kick patients out as they see fit.

We all take peking orders from the Doctors, the supposed harbingers of intelligentsia and expensive education. In reality, we all know that most of them take about a semester of Psychology. But there’s money to be made with Pfizer, there’s an imagined air of circumstance around these brats. Of course, not all of them are bad, but the level of authority they are given is mostly unwarranted.

I once fed an old man his dementia pills stuffed in pudding while he looked me dead in the eyes and jerked off.

It’s trite hyperbole now to believe that the nerds on 4chan are nazis — obviously because these accusers have never met real ones. The one I worked with was schizophrenic, and had a tattoo that said “Eat Shit” right above his asscrack. I know this because we have to check every room when we do our rounds, and he made sure that he was changing and moisturizing when we passed by. He would call me a “fucker” every time I handed him his tray of food, apropos of nothing. He was the most hated patient I think i ever met. He was awfully industrious, swapping meds and working with two other patients to make a shank out of the metal lining of one of the Unit’s doors. If i’m stabbed on the job, i’m not allowed to fight back, i’d get fired. He’s mentally ill after all.

Revealing of the true nature of this Hospital, he stayed there for three long months in the Forensic Competency Restoration program. It was of great importance that State money be spent rehabilitating a former meth dealer with a penchant for violence against police officers and patients who wouldn’t share drugs with him. “We’re working on getting him out of here, we’re dealing with the legal system,” the Doctors would say, as he continuously racked up legal charges from patients and staff alike. He didn’t leave until he spit in a Doctor’s face. The next day, the police arrived promptly at 6 AM, took him in handcuffs, and supposedly sent him back to prison. He was released days later.

Same deal for a less politically-motivated patient with a great love for throwing piss and shit onto the Nurse’s station computers when our backs were turned. He kept asking to go back to prison, else he’d keep covering his hands in shit and punching people who walked into his room. The State however didn’t want to give up on him either, so he stayed a long two months even after breaking a patient’s nose to the point of surgical restructure.

I was named Dracula, the Antichrist, and Sean Connery.

The issue of yourself is always at odds with your environment. I was hired with a then-recent diagnosis of Bipolar 2, and the idea of living with such a thing was unbearable. To this day I can’t be sure if this is my case or it was created to prescribe me the back-order of generic medication unused filling the brims of Walgreens shelving, but i’m too far titrated now to even consider the alternative. I’ve had the daily habit of staring at the ground with my pugface jowling, my Dad always told me our family wore our emotions on our sleeves. Watching these lost people pace back and forth all day, stopping to do some sit-ups or laugh into their t-shirts. At least there’s some happy moments, I mumble to myself. You say this could never happen to you, until your shoe company goes bankrupt and your wife divorces you, so you have a manic episode and walk into a Starbucks screaming about the evil wizards sending shockwaves to your brain.

This system was always doomed to fail most of it’s patients. The luck that some psychiatric medications have in being effective were mostly what lead to success. Take our 10 year-old, for example. A kid practically raised in the system — in and out of the Private and State facilities. His mom didn’t want him, that’s for sure. Every day this kid would start punching and kicking patients to avoid going to the one-on-one school classes down the hall. His therapy sessions, like they were for all the kids, were glorified performances for an audience of Residents. Doe-eyed world change hopefuls who were so empathetic that they wanted to make six figures telling kids from the ghetto that they needed to use crayons to express their feelings. Patients like these are doomed to these facilities for the rest of their lives. Moved in between units over the years. Befriending staff, getting excited when they see them like old friends.

The slightly adept use this to their advantage. As we’ve all theorized, the nightmare abusers of the system are totally real, and in fact mock you for your stupidity in whatever attempt you’re making in a normal life. One patient I had spent all of her approximately fiftieth stay talking to her Observation about what she was going to spend her Social Security endowment on once she had reached a certain age. She had a full calendar drawn on a styrofoam dinner tray — scheduled days for socialization and the weekly expenditure of her new Labrador Retriever. She bragged to me once that when she took the Aspergers test in grade school, that she was only one point under being considered competent for regular education. And so began her life of spending every other conversation reminding you of the creative names women in prison had for menstruation.

Wednesday is Movie and Cheetoh day.

A Book Called Pimp Behavior

An Interview with soon-to-be-known Author, Thaddeus D. Washington

Arriving with a posse in a gold-painted stretch limousine Tesla, famous local pimp Thaddeus D. Washington strutted up to the front door with gambler zeal. At first having trouble with the height of his hat under the average-sized doorframe, he recovered style and made his way to the seat in front of me. His presence mocked the masculinity of everyone in the room, we all melted, and felt our penises shrink about three sizes that day. He requested that everybody, including his crew, leave us alone for the interview.

HARVARD MILK: Now, Mr. Washington…

THADDEUS D. WASHINGTON: You will hencefo’th refer to me as Thaddeus, White Devil. 

HM: …Thaddeus. When did the desire to pursue the whole… “Big Pimping” lifestyle begin for you?

TDW: Lemme tell ya here, little bitch-boi. It ‘dun stawted with the beginnin’ of mofuckin’ time itself. Way back 6,000 yeahs ago, when da Earth got shit out by the man above, pussy was a market yet to be conquered. Then those mofuckin’ Egyptians revolutionized the game and started sellin’ it wholesale like Costco and shit, liquidation of assets and all dat. Now, obviously, slavery was some evil shit. BUT. It brought us da pussy game, can’t hate a Pharaoh-ass nigga for not knowin’ where they ethics would lead. Game’s a game, respect.

HM: I see… well it says in my notes you weren’t always a pimp… in fact it was only a recent development for you.

TDW: You can’t make money bein’ a college professor of Sociology, learned dat shit da hard way. Add onto dat, the fact that I am technically still a Caucasian-American, they didn’t give me no tenure or nothin’. They dun displaced me with some dirt-skin from overseas with a crayon degree and that fish smell on they greasy-ass collar.

HM: Has being Caucasian been difficult for you in pursuit of this new career path?

TDW: I been workin’ day in and out to be rid of this complexion shit. Face-paint be the best I can afford at the moment, I flew in da makeup guy from CATS to clean me up every day. The second I can afford dat Transition Surgery, you won’t even know I used to eat hot dogs at the mofuckin’ ball game. As for da job itself, bitches be bitches no mattah the whiteness of yo teeth. Roll in with attitude, let ‘em know who’s boss, beat they ass with the wire from the Electric Car charging station in front of Whole Foods. They join the squad.

HM: Do you feel like your brief career in Academia and research helped to influence the way you approached writing Pimp Behavior?

TDW: I got a street degree in Bitch Management, graduated Magnum Cum Loud *laughs*. Really doe, I did so much research shit back when I was a Paleskin, puttin’ it in easy-to-read format was not difficult to do in all re-al-it-ty. I want to show people that pimpin’ ain’t somethin’ erryone can do, but fo those blessed with da ethic, of sound mind and spirituality and shit… set yo mind to it, you can be a hard mothafucka.

HW: What kind of things can someone expect to learn from reading Pimp Behavior?

TDW: I be takin’ you to school mothafucka. Starting basics: how to dress, act right. How to survive on a diet of only Cognac and maraschino cherries. Where to buy yo suit, how to walk and talk. It’s all shit previously unspoken on in modern Pimp circles… can’t say it all, yougotta fork over dat dough to make dat dough… ya dig?

Swallowed up by his posse, Thaddeus then disappeared into the crowd, leaving behind a signed copy of his book and a cloud of motel-smelling cologne. It will be available for purchase on street corners around the country, apparently carried by his most loyal “Bitches” and “Hoes.” Also on Amazon Kindle Selects.