Friday, March 14, 2008

Hope your Hungry

Today was beautiful. I walked along the lake for two hours looking over the wonderful city of chicago. It was very peaceful. I should do that more often.

This is another true story that i apparently blocked out of my head, until it came back to me when i was talking to my friend's girlfriend. So thank you Maq Attack.

It is hard for me to form into words how much I loved pudding as a child. I loved pudding, Especially Jell-O’s chocolate pudding. The first time I had it, I was four years old being babysat by my Aunt Karen. She was looking for a quick snack opened up the refrigerator and asked me

“Chris do you want some Jell-O pudding?”

I can remember knowing full well at the time that I had never tasted pudding, I hardly had even heard of it. But the answer to my Aunts question seemed so obvious to me.

“Of course I want some Jell-O pudding.”

She plopped it down in front of me and gave me a cereal spoon. I scooped up my first bit and watched as the chocolate substance took the shape of the spoon; it fit into its oval contours perfectly as if it had always been meant to fit into this one spoon. When I opened my mouth and let that treat hit my tongue the wave of endorphins that released in my brain nearly caused me to seizure. It was like there was a party in my mouth and everyone was high. It tasted so good I was almost angry.

Who had kept this from the world, this wonderful thing? Who hid this fantastic sweetness which could end wars, save lives and bring together broken homes? What angry bitter man bent on filling the world with hatred and sadness was keeping this delicious treat from mass consumption? I asked my Auntie this question. She laughed.

“You haven’t seen Bill Cosby; he sells this stuff on TV.”

WHAT!? Bill Cosby, as if it wasn’t good enough, Jell-O pudding was being sold by Dr. Huckstable that good and glorious man. I made up my mind that day that pudding was a gift from God and it was good.

For the next few years pudding became my edible sidekick. He was in every brown bagged lunch that went with me to school. He sat in my cubby-hole and kept my jacket company while I expanded my mind…or tried to. Two hours into school and my mind would wander; my eyes would leave the blackboard and turn towards the classroom door, where my lunch sat securely and alone. I’d look straight through the thin brown paper to see my prize sitting there waiting to be devoured. My teacher Ms. Heidi who was an old woman who usually looked liked someone who had just been scared by a ghost; yelled at me to pay attention. But even she with her wild hair, her crescent moon glasses and her old skin couldn’t distract me.

At Lunch everything else in my bag was wolfed down. The sandwich was destroyed; I ate apples faster than most goats. But it was all to spend my time with the pudding. Eating it slowly as if it had a secret I could only hear by tasting it, and I wanted to catch every detail. This would continue for years, pudding followed me everywhere, family vacations, sleepovers, to the movies. I had even started developing systems and collecting survival knowledge.

Rule #1: It is okay to put pudding in your pocket. It will be good for two hours, but then your body heat will destroy the consistency.

Rule#2: You can eat pudding with a fork, a knife, a Spork, a spoon of course, your finger, you can lick pudding. But don’t ever drink it through a straw.

And never forget if you put it in your back pocket for any reason don’t leave it there longer than five minutes because you run the risk of premature leakage or busting. And nothing is worse than a small child with a big brown stain on his pants.

At the age of twelve my parents decided they would grant me my wish and send me to a sleepaway camp. Camp Pinewood which was located deep in the depths of a Michigan forest, the cabins were made of wood and surrounded by trees and wildlife. Camp fires burned every night and every day something new and exciting happened to widen our worldly perspective.

Horse flies were the most common animal and children would sudden jump in pain from having been bit. Any child was at risk, during the middle of a rousing momma joke a boy would jump slightly and lift his shirt to reveal a large piece of skin missing from the bite.

It was around this time that I developed a fear of horse flies which hasn’t quite left me.

Other events such as: mosquito hawk attacks, capture the flag tournaments, and playing with snakes are all memories I have of Pinewood. But the memory that really sticks with me was the final week cabin showdown; which included running, biking, archery, and a pudding eating contest.

Never before had I looked forward to such a meaningless activity. Until this point I hadn’t even been aware that the camp had pudding to eat, let alone enough for a whole competition involving its consumption. My reserves had run out days ago and I was quickly feeling the effects of pudding withdrawal.

So when the camp councilors sat us down at a long wooden picnic table for the competition I was excited to get my fix. The Table sat 7 people on each side, enough for each cabin’s “best players.” I sat in the leader position, first on to start off for our team which had been named 2Legit2Quit because we were.

I sat anxiously looking at the red headed freckled boy who sat across from me. This poor sap didn’t know what he was getting into. I was the Muhammad Ali, I was Michael Jordon, I was the Bugs Bunny of pudding, and I couldn’t be beaten.

And then they sat it down in front of me. A giant silver bowl the size of the sinks barber shops wash your hair in and it was filled halfway with….something.

“Ladies and Gentleman Your Pudding.”

Wait a minute. This was our pudding. No. I wanted to raise my hand and express my concern but no one else seemed to see the mistake. But this wasn’t pudding. It was too dark for one. It didn’t have that pleasant light brown tone that invited you in. This was dark, so dark light failed to escape it, a dangerous dark which like a brightly colored neon frog warns: DO NOT EAT ME, I WILL FUCK YOU UP.

At the same time its consistency was all wrong. It wasn’t like Jell-O pudding, no this was watery like someone had filled the bowl with dirt and then sprayed a hose into it. Goosebumps covered my body and my stomach gave me a quick jerk as if to say

“Don’t do it.”

“Alright.” The ref said. “This works as a train. You start as soon as the person before you finishes. First to finish all seven wins.”

Then he blew the whistle. The ginger in front of me threw his face down into the pudding imposter and started gobbling it up. When he came up for air it was like he’d just gone bobbing for apples in horse shit. My team was shouting, GO! GO!

I took last look at the sickening pool, and then dove in.

Oh god, it’s warm and much more watered down than I thought. Instead of acting like real pudding and taking the form of my face this tried to invade me. Every hole filled instantly with shit brown chocolate. I opened my mouth and it came pouring in like fan mail. It tasted like sour milk with the consistency of cottage cheese. First liquid ran down my throat, then a lump of something, then liquid then a lump. If I didn’t swallow right away it felt as if it began to curdle in my mouth.

My whole body reacted. There was an over abundance of this mess in my stomach and it didn’t want it so my whole system threw into reverse.

Before I know it chunks of brown vomit came shooting from my mouth slowly refilling the bowl. My teammates unable to see my predicament called for me to eat faster. That we were going to lose because of me.

I stared down at that shit like pudding now combined with vomit and stomach acid.

We can’t lose, if I don’t finish we’ll lose and everyone will hold it against me.

I lowered my head and submersed myself into the bowl. Because of the clumps of vomit it was like I’d put my head in a bowl of jellyfish that danced around my face waiting for me to open up and invite them in. When I did, I threw up again, filling the bowl past its original point. I lifted my head and the smell was horrible. The fumes burned my nose hairs. I looked across to the ginger that had brown clumps of shit stuck in-between his yellow teeth.

Bile, toxic yellow and neon green flew from my mouth into the bowl. The whole competition stopped and watched. They saw me as in anger I pushed the bowl away from me so violently that I tipped it over. My bile, vomit, spit, pudding ran down the length of the table filling its cracks and holes. The other campers scattered away to the sound of girl’s screams and shouts of “Gross.” Other bowls were tipped over in the process and in the end a river of shit water and vomit cascaded down the side of the table like the waterfall in hell. It slapped against the dirt with a sickening naturalness as if it had always wanted to be there. I turned my head, breathing deep, sweet glistening off my face. Thirteen campers, two councilors, and one ref were all staring at me. Big brown chucks of whatever was stuck to my big lips.

They looked at me like we look at homeless people with pity and self assuredness. That was when I passed out, all went black as my head tipped forward and I landed face first on the table.

I don’t eat pudding anymore.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vroom Vroom

1 year ago this week, my girlfriend and I were involved in a terrible accident that broke her pelvis in 7 places and left me physically unharmed but emotionally and mentally damaged. In that year we have been through much and have made our recovery. I've written about it a few times but this is the piece and will also be the last time i write about that incident. I hope you enjoy.


I was rich once.

I’m not bragging. I really want to make that clear, it’s just a fact of life: there was a point in time when my father had money. So growing up in that environment I’ve seen many cars parked in the family space. There was new car every couple of years to keep up with my dad’s moods: A big black mini-van, a Toyota Sierra we used to go on road trips when my dad was feeling familial. He’d trade that in for a sporty Toyota Celica; silver and curvy, flashy, the kind of car that makes you want to have sex. What he really wanted was Ford Mustang but he wasn’t allowed. My mother and I both thought this was his mid-life crisis. We would learn much later that my father was dealing with his fear of aging, not by buying a car but instead was spending nights in the arms of another woman; who unlike the car was not silver or flashy or sexy.

After the sports car was the SUV with a built in GPS, a car that sat the whole family plus two more. It had a built in TV so those in the back rows could watch DVDs on those long road trips that my family didn’t take anymore. It was a car that I loved and would be the first car that I would drive when I turned sixteen and was given the death warrant known as a “drivers permit.” Four months later the once bright and brilliantly black monster, proof of American superiority had been humbled by rash turns and clumsy parking. The driver-side door was severely dented and scratched from a particularly bad night when I tried to pull into the garage with teenage reckless abandon. From that day on the door wouldn’t just creak but would scream the kind of scream that can only be produced by bent metal dragging along car frame. That strong soldier of a car held on as long as he could until eventually he died the death of most honorable veterans; old and alone it passed away from its injuries sustained during its formidable years. It was replaced by a PT Cruiser, a small car which basically resembles that of a hearse for tiny people. When my mom drove my little brother to school, I would imagine the neighbors watching it pass by their front windows and exclaiming,

“Well Janice, looks like another munchkin’s bit the dust.”

After a few years my parents decided to give the car a paint job. One day I was looking at an ugly car painted a single color. The next I walked to the garage to see an ugly car painted half red and half black with the words KAT MOBILE painted on the side and KAT CRZR as its license plate. Great I thought, people will no longer think we are a funeral home for midgets; now they will think we have become extremely tacky pimps. I wouldn’t dare say these out loud as this was a gift to my mother Kathy. So I just nodded in approval.

All of these cars have floated in and out of my life but only one car has ever truly left an impact on me…That is the car that tried to kill me.

I saw this show or heard this saying, or read a bumper sticker or a fortune cookie somewhere about how someone right now in the world is carrying a gun with a bullet with your name on it and he doesn’t even know it.

I feel like that is true for a lot of things: bullets, knives, drugs, buses, there is a strand of AIDS virus out there someone is carrying around and they are just working their way to giving it to you. The trick being to avoid it long enough so that you can die of old age before any of that stuff finds you. I also find it funny where these things can hide.

For instance I never thought the car that would try and kill me would belong to my girlfriend. The car was a red Chevy Malibu and was actually the reason I found my way into dating my girlfriend in the first place.

In high school after she had unintentionally dented someone’s car with the Malibu she called me. I was actually at a party with my high school girlfriend. I answered my phone and heard this girl’s voice babbling incoherently through her sobs and I had to leave to find out what she was saying. The simple act of calming her down made us friends, and then we became best friends. Three years later I asked her out.

Two years after that and I’ve seen this car many times. It was a dark red brown color like blood that had rusted to bike metal. Everything inside of the car was gray, the seats, the floor, the emergency break. The entire interior was the sickening color of old people. It had a dent on the roof from where a tree branch the size of a bazooka fell during a thunderstorm and landed hard on the Malibu. It had a crack in the side window from where squirrels had dropped nuts on the car and even smashed the back window like how you see in action films.

Despite it’s name this Malibu was no vacation, sleek and cool in the saddest of ways, simple and useful the way a horse and carriage were. This was the car I rode in to four weddings, the car I rode in to meet my girlfriend’s crazy drunk abusive father, the car where our first fight took place.

Stated simply I hated this car. Nothing good ever came from it. But it still surprised me; like how you think the worst thing that annoying weird guy at school can do is talk to you too close, but then he brings a gun to class.

It was six in the morning and we had been up all night. Since 7pm we’d been out and we’d been fighting since 10pm. A hard nail biting, f bomb dropping, you’re a fucking crazy person, fighting and we were tired.

We merged onto Lake Shore Drive, a hint of the sun rising behind the lake. Too tired to talk or breathe I closed my eyes and rocked to sleep…Suzie did the same. Her eyelids were heavy and her body was ready to collapse. Her eyes shut closed like curtains and as we drifted to sleep the car drifted left. As Suzie’s foot got heavier we accelerated from 40mph to 60. The car cut across two lanes of traffic and stayed in the left lane for thirty seconds before it drifted over more. As if it waited for that one stretch of LSD where there is no curb. Where a car can transfer from concrete to grass without disrupting the sleeping passengers so it can torpedo towards a light pole at 65 head on. I wake up when I hear Suzie say…


I see the telephone pole close as it can get without contact. Suzie has turned the wheel of the car as far as it can go but it doesn’t do much but save our lives.

A direct hit would of wrapped us around 400 pounds of steel pole, broken every bone in our bodies and killed us on impact.

Instead that pole clean ripped off the entire driver side of the car, popped off the back wheel and sent us flying. The car tumbled twice the airbag came out and gave me an uppercut across the face. When the car finally stopped spinning like the dreidel from hell we were facing the wrong way down the LSD, head lights coming at us at 60. When I could see straight I kept trying to figure out when all of this had happened. When I got out of the car I wondered how the fuck I was still standing. I quickly waved down the cars who quickly called an ambulance that not so quickly came to clean up our mess.

The car looked as if God had picked it up and played hacky-sack with it. This would be great except for my previously unconscious girlfriend who was still in that car and who as of right now couldn’t move her legs. The paramedics cut her loose and moved her while she screamed. The firefighters prepared for clean up. A man who was walking on the beach was taking pictures of the crash and of me. I got all of our personal belongings together and wondered why I wasn’t this coherent everyday. I wondered what was going to happen if Suzie couldn’t walk again. A firefighter grabbed me by my shirt and started yelling.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing huh? You ain’t about to steal this shit, put it back and get out of the fucking street.” Confused I could only say one thing…

“But I’m her boyfriend.” The mans grip softened but almost accusatory he asked

“How’d you get here so fast?”

“I was in the car”

Without thinking he let me go. A look I never thought a man like this would make stared me down then looked over to the sheet metal that used to be a car. The backside pushed to where there was no backseat, all the windows busted. Front side of the car gone, along with the driver-side door and the back wheel. The fireman looked at me and I think I saw him find Jesus.

“You were in that car?”

Monday, March 10, 2008

Family issues.

My family has been going through a lot of shit lately. Most of that drama has been caused my by sisters chemical imbalances which causes her to do stupid things all of the time. I spend my days watching as my mother and father try to deal with her inexcusable behavior. This is a look into what my family has been going through. It is true. There are a few things i know i need to work on and i will eventually but this is the rough draft.


There are some things in this world that brothers, older brothers, are never supposed to go through. There is a whole list as long as my arm of experiences that older brothers don’t want to know about, let alone see. I remember being thirteen and walking into my house, opening the door and being met by strange words.

“I got my period today.”

My eyes rolled and my body heaved.

“Uhhh… that’s nice.” That was that, and I assumed that would be as bad as it got for my entire life. I assumed that the next time me and my little sister’s vagina would have anything to do with each other would be when I was holding her new born baby.

This was my mistake.

Now I’m twenty-one and coming home from school. I have a little brother who’s older than my sister was on the dreaded P-DAY.

“Cara’s boyfriend is over” he says. I look over to her room and see that the door is closed.

What is amazing about children my brother’s age is that they can be in situations like this, but are blinded by their innocence. What is amazing about people my age is our ability to deny the obvious. A sixteen year old girl with her boyfriend in a closed room is not a room you barge into, unless of course the very idea of that person as an actual person with sexual feelings is impossible.

There are things a brother should never see. At the top of that list is walking in on your sister while she enjoys the less romantic moments of sex. The rest is a flash of images, skin everywhere, clothes everywhere, a brief pause, and then comprehension. The words “WHAT THE FUCK” fill the room from a voice that sounds like me but I’m not sure.

Cara is my adopted sister. Needless to say we’ve always had our problems. I have this memory of me sitting in the back of my mom’s car. And her telling me that we are going to be adopting a girl. I was young and remember my thought being…

“Aren’t I enough for you”

Apparently I wasn’t and we adopted her a year later. She was eight months old when I first held her in my arms. No bigger than a loaf of bread. Her name was Ashley then. But as I held her in my arms in that small purple room, another name passed through my head.

“Cara, her name should be Cara” and it was. My mom allowed me to name my sister; I suppose hoping that it would connect me to her. That using the name I gave her would make me care for her, the way parents let their kids name dogs.

I won’t lie- I never wanted a sister. Sharing isn’t something I’ve been good at until just recently, and the idea of sharing my parents was not very appealing.

Once, when she was two, I was holding her and she looked at me with those deep brown eyes and then stuck her finger up my nose and tore away the skin inside. My blood shot out covering her hands and my shirt, the blood red like candy. And covered in my blood, she laughed. As my mother stuffed my nose with toilet paper I stared at her through the mirror in our bathroom and tried to convince her of what I knew to be true.

“She did it on purpose” I cried. She laughed, “Don’t be ridiculous, she’s only two.”

I stared at myself covered in blood like John McClane.

“She meant to do it” I said. “She’s the devil.”

“You can leave my house” I say to the male figure. “Get dressed and get the fuck out.” I leave the room and pace around my little brother thinking about everything.

Should have named her Ashley is what I think. Cara was cursed. If she was an Ashley she wouldn’t have anger problems, would do better in school, wouldn’t keep running away, wouldn’t be such a slut.

I give them five minutes to get dressed. Try and forget the fact that I’ve seen so much of my sister I know what she’s insecure about. When I head back their clothes are on and oh my God he’s that guy: Baggy pants, Timberlands, XL T-shirt and a band aid under his left eye. This is the guy I’ve been making sure I’m not my whole life. I can’t help it but the N-word flies into my head. He steps up to me like he’s going to tell me something. He’s big- arms are bigger than mine, hands like monkeys. This sixteen year old boy looks like a man and he wants to “talk.”

The first time Cara left. She sat us down and told us she didn’t love us that we weren’t her family and she wanted to leave. My mom took her keys and opened the door. My dad cried. I tried to talk to her- walked into her room, her white walls turned gray from all the drawing she’d done on the wall in pencil.

“You won’t make it out there.” She ignores me and keeps packing her clothes into a duffel bag.

“You’re not smart enough, you’re not tough enough.” She’s still ignoring me, stuffing all her sweaters into the bag.

I step closer.

“You’re not pretty enough, this world will tear you apart; you’ll end up pregnant and trapped. Just stay here.” She finally looks at me.

“Fuck you.”

“Using grown up words doesn’t make you grown, Cara.” I can see she’s going inside herself, she’s about to have another one of her episodes, who knows what she’ll say now.

“Fuck you, you think you’re so fucking smart always running your mouth like you run the place.” Ever since she started hanging out with those Hispanic girls at school I can’t understand a word she says. “Your all full of shit, I don’t fucking love you guys, so just go.”

“Think of where you’d be without mom.”

“Mom’s a bitch.” I moved closer, fast. I think I just wanted to shake some sense into her. As I stepped in she raised her fist and landed a hard punch across my face. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared her down. She looked at me with no sign of love or recognition. She meant to do it. And at that moment we were dead to each other.

Now with this punk in my face I think of our paths.

“You get out of my house.” Cara starts swearing at me, the guy looks at her and then back to me.

“Fuck you man.” Before I can control it I’ve already balled my fist. He takes the first shot like a champ; right to the nose but the second, the fourth, the tenth, the twentieth. Soon he’s on the ground and I can feel his skin go tender under my blows. Cara is screaming when I’m finished. My fists clenched, standing over a boy balled up and crying. There’s blood on my hands now, deep breaths, and sweat. I look at Cara her eyes filled with water. Behind their wetness is fear. There are some things in life, a brother should never see.