Burst of Steam/Greasing the Wheel

Every day I find myself slipping further and further into madness. The news coming out about the current administration is gut wrenching and mindboggling. Every day I ask myself, “Why is no one doing anything?” And there may be people who are, but it just feels like it is getting worse by the second. Granted, it is all about what is being fed to me through social media. My drug of choice happens to be twitter. It is there that I get most of my current events. And there I have surrounded myself with people who share the news that happens to paint a world that is falling down around my ears.

Try as I might to end the “crazy” by steering clear of these sites I cannot. I am drawn to it like a battered wife back to her abusive relationship. I tell myself that I deserve it or it’d be worse if I wasn’t informed. All the while sending myself to an edge I may very well fall over.

The problem with social media is it gives us the opportunity to share our thoughts. But that is a double edged sword. Because while you are allowed to say what it is that roams the halls of your mind, it doesn’t absolve you from the consequences. There are things no one should utter because it would put one into a world of literal turmoil. While more often than not the things I want to say are just blasts of steam building in my panic, they could be destructive for my life as they could be seen as threats to those who would seek to make myself an “example.” And these moments of rage are just that, me venting my frustrations at the lack of power I have over my surroundings.  So they’re better left unsaid, even though they would feel amazing to say them.

The one way I have developed to cope with this insanity is to welcome death. Sure, that is a bit extreme but it’s the only way for me to accept that I am a fleck of dust in the big scheme of things. It also makes it where I am not as distressed throughout the day. I’m even nihilist adjacent, saying to myself “let’s see what happens.”

There is no point to this post, mainly just venting. I am more so attempting to get the writing wheel spinning again, since it has been some time and I am really rusty.

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Flash Fiction Challenge #2

I was going to wait to post my entry until a later date because I have ambition to submit it into another competition. However, I can’t contain myself after the feedback I received. Each person was awarded a score of 1-15, with 15 being the highest (aka first place) in this challenge. I am proud to say I was awarded a score of 14 (second place) which earned me enough points to continue on to the next leg of the competition.

The following is my short story. My group’s assignment was: genre, political satire; location, drive-thru; and item, a wine glass.


FAST FOOD NATION

Ginger Stickler’s red station wagon came to a stop at the end of the long drive-thru line. Her blue eyes followed the string of cars up to a man, wearing a white shirt, pants, and a paper hat, standing next to a large sandwich board. A tablet computer hung around his neck by an American flag lanyard.

“Do you know what you want?”

She turned and looked at her unkempt, twenty-four-year-old son, Josh, sitting in the passenger seat. His brow formed a single line above his eyes to match the one formed by his lips, as his thumb ran up and down the screen of his iPhone.

“Why do we have to go to In-N-Out?” he said.

“Because it’s a Christian restaurant.”

“That seems silly; a business can’t have a religion. Doesn’t that alienate a sizable portion of customers? Can’t we just go to McDonald’s?”

“You don’t have to come here,” she snapped, “You could just go somewhere else if you don’t like it.”

“I can’t, mother. You’re driving the car.”

Ginger sniffed and sat in silence as they followed the line into the drive-thru proper, right where the man in white stood. She rolled down her window.

“Hello, welcome to In-N-Out,” he said, “Today we have started a new promotion. Our eight-year menu is no longer available, and now you must vote to pick which burger will rule for the next four years.”

Ginger’s eyes widened as she clutched her invisible pearls.

Josh leaned forward to look around his mother.

“What are our options?”

The man straightened up and pointed eagerly to the sandwich board depicting three very sloppy dishes.

“Here we have the blue, rise above, freedom for all burger. It’s a tofu patty on a gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, flavor-free, from scratch bun, with a sprinkle of flour on top. Extra dry. There are no condiments on it, but we give you a bag full of them if you ask. It comes with a side of birth control and citizenship if you are not currently one.”

“I think we’ve made our choice,” Josh said.

“We certainly have not. What else is there?”

“There is the red, super awesome, kick-ass, glory to god burger. It is a three-pound all-beef patty, smothered in garlic butter, topped with ten onion rings, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, blue cheese crumbles and all on a white bun. However, I would like to note that the beef patty may have fallen on the floor, and the buns may or may not have brushed against the cook’s genitals. But, it’s super delicious. It comes with all the fries you want, as long as you pay for each, individual sliver.”

“Is there anything else?” Ginger asked.

“Yes, ma’am. The third option is a single slice of Kraft cheese, still in the plastic.”

“Oh,” Ginger’s shoulders slumped.

“Obviously it’s the blue burger,” Josh said, as he sat back and returned to his phone.

“I don’t know. We can’t tell where all those ‘free’s’ went. How can you make a bun without it? It’s suspicious.”

“You want a ball basted bun?”

“Do you have any nutritional information?”

The waiter stuck a hand into the front pouch of his apron, pulled out a brochure and gave it to Ginger. She opened it up and read. The blue burger listed out every ingredient individually with each calorie accounted. On the other side, someone had taken a red pen, redacted every item, and had written at the top, “100% all good.” Beneath that in tiny print said, “Don’t be a pussy.”

“I’m going to go with the red burger,” Ginger said.

“Mother—”

“That is one red,” the clerk tapped in Ginger’s order to his tablet.

“Blue for me.”

“And one blue. You’ll get your total at the window.”

The two pulled further into the drive-thru in silence.

“I can’t believe you would choose that unhealthy, killer monstrosity.”

“I’m sorry, that other burger sounded so tasteless. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

The car pulled up to the front window.

The stern-faced employee already held a bag in his hand.

“Here are your two red burgers,” he said, with a Russian accent.

Ginger took their meal.

“No, that was one red and one blue,” Josh said.

The man stared back at Josh dead-eyed.

“Yes. We all get together and decide it’s only red burger for you.”

“But—”

“That will be one hundred and forty-eight dollars and thirteen cents,” the cashier said.

He held out his hand.

Ginger’s bottom jaw dropped, as she blinked in quick succession.

“Oh my goodness, that’s pricey. How much are the burgers?”

“They are twenty dollars. You pay more in tax because them,” the clerk jabbed a thumb over his shoulder.

Ginger peered through the drive-thru window into the dining room. Twelve people in suits sat at tables draped in silk cloths eating steaks off gold plates. A blonde haired man toasted to the room with a wine glass filled to the brim with a red.

“How do I get in there?”

“You don’t. This is for large donor only.” The man still had his arm stretched out. “You pay.”

Another man, wearing a white linen facemask and sporting a rifle, stepped out from behind a bush, just to the front of the station wagon.

Ginger hurriedly dug through her purse for her credit card and handed it over to the cashier. The man took it, slammed the windows shut and glowered at her from behind the glass.

“Can I have it back?”

The man glared as he pointed for her to move along.

As they drove through the end of the drive-thru, a missile shot up from the roof of a Korean barbeque restaurant across the street, arched over a sushi kiosk, and exploded into the In-N-Out, taking out a corner of the restaurant. The people inside screamed and then broke into cheers, peppered with applause.

“We should have just gone to McDonald’s.”


JUDGES FEEDBACK:

”Fast Food Nation” by Joshua Hensley-Cline –   WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – {1689}  I love how you politicize everything–literally everything–in your story. The idea that establishments can have religions and values and political alliances is reduced to absurd rubbish–wonderfully–in your hands. The missile attack ending is spot on.  {1666}  You did a nice job with the genre here. Your parallels were clever and humorous, and I appreciated the way that you incorporated a consistently increasing sense of absurdity to keep building the pace and upping the critique of today’s political environment. I think the reaction of the people in the restaurant to the Korean bombing was my favorite moment and a bigly unexpected surprise..  {1746}  Haaaa! This is great. Oh, the heavy symbolism. I think the whole premise works really well, and the dialogue made the whole thing A+. I laughed out loud a couple times. Good work!  WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – {1689}  Good news: You have enough imagery and imagination to turn this story into a film. Bad news: I think you have may a bit too much going on for this little story to handle. I love when you focus on the family. Stay on them. Give them one problem to solve. Have them shadowed by one crazed political figure. Let that drama play out. Then you can launch your rocket.  {1666}  First, I have a couple quick grammar notes: “wearing a white shirt, pants, and paper hat” should read “wearing a white shirt, pants, and a paper hat.” A series should be written with parallel construction, so the article “a” must apply to all items or be repeated for each one it does apply to. “‘Why do we have to go to In-N-Out,'” he said,” should have a question mark, as your character has asked a complete question. Similarly, “‘Hello, welcome to In-N-Out,’ he said, ‘today…'” should read “‘Hello, welcome to In-N-Out,’ he said. ‘Today…'” Overall, it would be helpful to review these grammar standards with regard to quotations. In terms of your narrative, I think you did a better job developing the meaning of your red burger than your blue one. The celebration of excess, white trappings, ambiguous ingredients, possible contamination/corruption — it all worked nicely for the former. Your critique of the left wing (as well as of third party contention) felt a little less developed. It was hard to nail down the meaning of the “bag of condiments” that came with the burger, and the nature of the “candidate” lost some clarity for me as the narrative moved on. At first it felt like you were settled into the burger being too plain, pure and boring to beat the monstrosity on the other side, but when Ginger became suspicious of these qualities rather than simply uncompelled, it made me question how your critique was directed.
Overall, I thought this piece was really nice. Even the overarching assertion that American politics can be treated like a cheap, greasy thrill by under-invested “customers” who pay too dearly for it was a solid, subtle theme.  {1746}  The Russian part is hilarious, and tied the whole thing together (that’s when it clicked for me, but I’m a bit slow with all of that). That said, the Russian’s lines could be cleaned up/more realistic/less offensive. I think “This for large donor only” and “You pay” stuck out to me most.

Nothing to add, merely to relay

As much as I don’t want this to turn into a political blog it will inevitably trail that way sometimes. Especially because people insist on making laws or having ideas for change that will or won’t hurt a community I am a part of.

It’s funny because before the whole election I had little to no interest in politics. What was happening beyond my bubble was far beyond me. Which is what I feel so many Americans felt. We were disengaged because we had always trusted the system to work for itself and it was in that complacency that things began to go haywire.

The only law that mattered to me and my life was gay marriage. I wanted the knowledge that I could one day wed the person I wanted to be with. When that finally happened, for me, everything else became moot. And, again, I was complacent.

As it turns out this was the week to attack the rights of anyone under the rainbow banner of LGBTQ.

Let us begin with tRump’s pick for the head scientist of the department of agriculture. He is a gentleman that believes that homosexuality is a choice and that we are on the same level as pedophiles. It’s lucky that he is headed for the department of ag because he appears to be useless anywhere else. What terrifies me is that he is not the only one that thinks this way, and I imagine that most of those that inevitably will fill the remaining administration will probably have similar ideas on the topic.

For a brief moment I understand where they’re coming from with the logic “it’s a choice.” Yes. To some degree it is in fact a choice as everything we do in our life is a chosen by us. However, by choosing to conform to the straight life because it’s the “right way” would cause harm to the person doing the choosing and those around him. In addition, who the HELL would want to knowingly choose a life of pain and heart ache if they had ANY want/desire/attraction to the opposite sex. It would stand to reason that one would just choose the “normal” way and be done with the whole issue. But they think it’s for sexual pleasure, and yes it is, but what if I told a hetero man that he could never have sex with a woman again, but only men because it was right? They would say absolutely not because they’re not hardwired that way.

When I get to the pedophile shit I just cringe because his statement is accusing me of doing just that, and there is nothing I despise and loath more than a person that sexually abuses a child. As having been abused myself (not by an adult but by an older neighbor boy) I find it insulting. I am too an extreme that if I knew someone had harmed one of my loved ones as a child I would seek vengeance however it may be. I’m like a rabid dog when it comes to protecting the innocent, so to lump me in with someone that abuses a human, that is still struggling to understand what it is to be human, is infuriating.

It just shows me that most of those that fly the Christian moniker tend to be the least empathetic people, especially when an R is attached to their political affiliation.

Now… This last issue is not one that I am super strong about because I am not transgendered. I don’t know anyone personally, so that fight is not one that I feel I am in. However, I know what it’s like to be ostracized by society because of who I am, so I know when the bully on the playground picks the next victim I have to stand up to defeat him. Trump going after trans in the military is pointless and just dumb. They want to pretend that it’s about keeping a cohesive unit or that the other soldiers are in danger, but again it is because they lack any semblance of a heart. If they tried to look at it from the other person’s side they would see that their fears don’t even exist. Most trans people are more terrified of being outed because it could result in an even harder life.

Every morning when I wake I am terrified what the day will hold. It’s stressful. It is honestly wearing me down to the point that I have finally just accepted that the world is doomed. The life we lived is no more and now the powers that be have an agenda that benefits only them and no one else. That is why I have become very nihilistic. I genuinely hope that they fuck our shit up. I want them to ruin the country so that it will be on their watch, under their command, and all their fault. Unfortunately they will not see it that way and will spin it to be someone else’s doing because no one in politics can just own their bull shit.

I dislike writing about politics because I am not as well versed on the topic as I should be, nor do I have anything new to add to the constant chatter that buzzes around these issues. I wish I did have more to add/say/reveal but ultimately I have nothing. I am absolutely helpless. Knowing that my communities way of life is always in the hands of those who are not a part of, nor care for is soul crushing. It is in this powerlessness that I come to two very different metaphorical roads in my mind. Both are scary. One leads to me accepting myself as a victim under those that seek to oppress me; or I seek to be the one with the power, fueled by my rage. The second is more enticing because it gives me the illusion that some sort of war is being won, but I know that road leads to radicalization and inevitably ends up hurting the overall cause. Yet, on the other path, I have to take what is given to me with a smile and keep moving on, all the while have my spirit torn apart.

Kathy Griffin, “Strong Black Woman”

Kathy Griffin is my queen and I will love her until the day I die. We share the same birthday and the same sick sense of humor, not mention we also don’t give a fuck what we say. I imagine that has to do with us being Scorpios but… that is all conjecture.

When I saw her photo I have to say I was a little appalled. I couldn’t understand what it was my Diva was trying to accomplish. As I thought about the artistic implications it was a comedian holding a fake head of a president. What I came to believe was the statement the photographer was trying to make was that she would verbally behead this dude, because that it what she does to all public figures. I say “public figures” because you’re allowed to say and do whatever you want toward a person with that title because it is part of the first amendment.

Should she have done it? Probably not. I don’t know why she didn’t foresee the backlash from the photo. Yes, most of America does seem to hate him, or so the polls tell us so. (However these were the same mother fuckers that said Hillary was going to win, so take that how you will.) There is also the fact she is a comedian known for saying whatever she wants and being ruthless. That is the reason so many adore her. So for her to do it is really par for the course.

The reaction though… Is harsh but probably deserving. I have formulated a test for myself to see how I should respond to such things. I just replace Trump with Obama (I do in so many situations because sometimes it’s the only way to get through the day) and gauge my reaction. If a comedian had done the same… I would have felt precisely how I do now that it was in poor taste and shouldn’t have been done. To think she was trying to awake some kind of sleeper cell to take retribution against the president is the real joke. (I mean, who is she awakening? The gays and women? We’re dangerous but not known for being gun toting nuts that accost people in the supermarket or subway.)

One of my favorite of the comments posted on Twitter the day the photo premiered (I don’t know how else to word that reveal) was that it was a “Satanic ISIS” ritual. There are quite a few things wrong with that statement. First and foremost, ritual? It was a photo. Unless you saw her doing some sort of voodoo and chanting about his headless corpse, I don’t see how it’s even a ritual. All she did was hold it up. Second, satanic? Even the satanic church tweeted out that they had nothing to do with the photo. You know why? The satanic faith is all about the self and no one else. Third, ISIS? Yeah… that’s who ISIS wants. The Islamic based terrorist group wants a white woman without even a hijab to make a statement. And finally, Satanic ISIS? Those are two very opposite ideas of theology that have nothing in common at all, except in the mind of the nut job reading conspiracy theories all day who sees them as a threat to their white “christianess.”

What she’s going through is rough. I can’t imagine the horrible messages she’s receiving from the other side of the fence about it. She’s said she’s been getting death threats, which is no surprise. To that I hope she takes legal action, because, like she has said before in one of her stand-ups, threatening someone’s life is a crime.

Whatever may come next I know she will pull through. She is a fighter and this too will pass. She’s apologized for the photo, she had the photographer take it down, I don’t know what else she could do. At this point it is a waiting game. If Ted Nugent, who literally threatened Obama at one of his shows, can get an invite into the White House I imagine the same could be said of her.

Stay strong, Diva. Just know, some dude you don’t know is in your corner and will always be a fan.

A man of no land

Today I am no longer an American. The ideals of the president elect do not reflect how I feel is the American ideal. He and his ilk represent the selfish bigotry of the dark side of humanity. I hate everyone that voted for him and I despise any person who voted for a third party and are upset with the results. You brought this on yourself.  

I have resigned to the fact that I am here because I was born on the wrong continent. I have no attachment to the people or place that I am. It is not my home nor will it ever be again. The very site of the American flag disgusts me. It represents hyprocrisy and lies. I piss on it. I spit on it. Fuck that fucking flag. 

This is truly a turning point in my life. I have so much anger and hatred in my heart that I will never be the same. At one point I felt love for my fellow man and now not a speck remains. 

I will be told I’m a poor loser and I don’t care. I truly don’t. I have sat through 8 years of these people bitching about Obama and the bull shit republicans have pulled only to pass the entire government into their hands. Of course the government was broken because they threw the fucking wrench into the gears. They broke it. They were why nothing got done and the things that they did were in spite of them. They were nothing but obstructions. They should be hanged for their crimes against the government. 

I have resigned to never stand for the pledge or anthem, nor will I applaud or show any semblance of respect for the armed forces. Fuck them. They’re nothing but a bunch of uneducated hicks that had no other options available to them BUT to go into the army. 

I will forever refer to any and all that voted for orange face douche bag as racist misogynists because that is what they are. 

I know without little doubt I will once again be demoted to a second class citizen being a gay man. The ideals asshat sold on the campaign trail was more devisiveness and derision. It did not speak of community and togetherness. It spoke of white male christian privilege. 

I cannot wait for the day when they are no longer the majority. And imagine how obnoxious they’ll be as a minority. It’ll be the temper tantrum antics from the last eight years. 

Sure call what I’m doing now a temper tantrum. It is. But it’s also resigning myself to being nothing and realizing I hate everyone and everything. I have no respect for authority or my elders. I no longer show respect to those I do not feel have earned it. 

My American dream ended this election. My very Americanness has ceased to be. I am no longer a citizen of this ridiculous country. I hope this truly is the beginning of the end. And I hope it all goes in a blaze of glory. I don’t want to limp away from the wreckage. 

And there’s a dick

Last night while attending a friends birthday BBQ, a discussion was brought up of a scenario I for the life of me did not know happened and find mind boggling that even continues to occur. 

Imagine that in a board meeting room there is a machismo-bro executive and a well dressed young woman alone. Then without warning or apropos to the subject the man produces his genitals from within his trousers and let’s them hang there. This was the scene painted for me that occurred to a friend of my roommate. 

The thing I can’t seem to grasp is what the fuck were these men thinking and what was their end game? Do these douche bags think that their dicks will be so entrancing these women will just drop hypnotized to their knees and begin giving them oral sex? Then the thing that frustrates me further is this was an actual event that occurred and this woman isn’t pressing sexual harassment charges. 

How is this okay?! This asshole should be fired from his position and be mandated to register as a sexual offender. This is unwanted sexual advances. 

What followed this tale were four more almost identical situations with varying degrees of severity. One story had a man completely naked with an erection in a women’s restroom. Another was a guy getting nude and walking into the ladies facilities where his co-worker was otherwise indisposed. 

I am dumbfounded! I wish I had the gall to be alone in a room with a man and just whip my dick out and just have it hanging  there to see how they would respond. Not in a sexual way. In no way would I want them to be overwhelmed with sexual desire that they feel the need to pleasure me. Oh no. That is the hopes and wishes of an egomaniac. I just want to see how uncomfortable they get and if they would report me to a superior. 

Then the most terrifying is how casual these women were in these situations. I even remarked that I would post these stories on Facebook and tag the offender so that others could see what huge pieces of shit they were, but one of my companions was so mortified by that notion he begged me not to. If I didn’t know how kind and giving this one friend of mine was I would have to question his character. 

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a woman. 

Are there similar moments anyone knows of?

High school sweethearts

Today my husband encountered something that shocked and astounded me. 

He’s taking the photojournalism class I took last semester and today they did the assignment for “portrait.” One of the volunteer models was this 15 year old boy. 

My husband said that this boy had brought another along with him and they were being playful with each other in a way that gave him the impression that they were together. They were lightly touching the others waist or arms. Nothing that screamed “hey! We got a gay here!”

All of the students in the class grabbed a model and disappeared to do the assignment, other than my husband and this boy. He went up and asked him to be his model and they took pictures.

As they were walking my husband asked if he and the boy were together and the boy said “how could you tell?” 

It turns out that this 15 year old boy and his boyfriend are engaged to be married in a year. A year. He’ll be sixteen. His fiancé is 18. 

What I find so shocking is that in my conservative, bible buckle of the Bible Belt, town that not only do this boy’s parents accept him as a gay man BUT also have given permission for the two to be married. That’s insane!

I shouldn’t be this amazed, my mother alone is testament to the power of love and acceptance, but I think this a testament to change. Real change. 

While I wish the best for these two, part of me thinks that they won’t make it very long. Teenage romance has it tough already, the fact that they’re also gay men doesn’t really add to the potential success rate of this relationship. 

Pessimism aside, the fact that I even have this story to tell brings me so much joy.