The Person You Most Suspect

I have been sitting on a particular subject for a post for quite some time now. I guess when you are really postive that a certain someone is quietly observing you and everything you do–which would only naturally include punching your name into a Google search box in order to inform themselves about you–the idea of blogging about them and what you think they are up to as it pertains to you, could have dire consequences. The most probable consequence might be nothing more than their hurt feelings, though I might suggest hurt feelings can be the impetus to a whole slew of scenarios that unravel because  you’ve mischaracterized some soul who wasn’t up to anything close to what you’d been surmising–other than the part about plugging your name into that big-brother search box. On the other hand, maybe you make the post, as I am now, and that person reads it and decides to put their plan to enslave you, own you, torture you, and finally eat you into supersonic hyperdrive.

Yes, if you read that carefully, you could distill this episode down to one simple paranoid thought: Is this person basically Hannibal, and is he or she currently engaged in the time-honored sociopath’s orgasmic ritual of allowing me to go on living.

You see, the thrill isn’t just in the capture, the pain, and the kill–no, if what I’ve read about some of history’s best and brightest regarding serial killers is true–then a big part of the plan for you (or in this case me) is them watching you go about living your life like normal, all the while delightfully relishing in the not-so-misguided belief that it is they who are ultimately allowing you to keep doing just that. Sick as that sounds, if they are committed to their cause, then ultimately it isn’t really untrue is it? If someone is actually sitting around, debating the date they will put operation extinguish-your-existence into effect–well, unless you yourself have identified the individual and are making preparations to combat them on that fateful day, it would seem to me that they do, in fact, deserve to feel like they hold all the power.

So, let’s say you are near one-hundred percent positive that an individual, who in some social sense you “know,” is mapping out the remaining days of your life in their own-blood-ink onto the pages of a diary wrapped in the human skin of some, but not all, of their previous victims. Hold that thought for a second, and then answer this question: what are you prepared to do about it? (Not sure what movie that is from, but Morgan Freeman’s voice comes to mind).

If you are me–and thankfully for you, you are most definitely not me–you walk the line of believing your gut and dismissing it as just another one of your schizo internal ramblings; a fabrication based on bad films, nicotine, and the over-consumption of chocolates and aspartame infused beverages. And nearly every single day you lean in favor of the seemingly logical notion that anything so perverse couldn’t be true of anyone, and that your imagination is simply getting the better of you. Thus, you do very little about it. You ignore the gut feeling that nature gave you in order to sense impending doom so that you may run as far away from it as possible. You write a blog post about it instead, believing that airing that particular scenario to the world will somehow fortify the more sane notions in your skull that suggest that anything your gut might be telling you can’t be believed–and that your life is not a movie, and fiction, despite what they say, is still stranger than the truth.

And maybe, just maybe, you sit back and hit the publish button on your blog–in the hopes that admitting to all of the above will be seen by said person, and that he or she will become disillusioned with you now that they know that you know and thus some of the thrill of the sport of it all has been diminished for them.

After all, would you still eat a pig if right before you went to slaughter him, it said, “I knew you were going to eat me all along.” If your answer is yes, then perhaps you are the very person my post served to foil, though apparently most miserably.

Beep, Beep. She’s Dead.

I run to clear my mind. That makes me one of millions who do it for the very same reason. Just how much crazy can actually be removed during a run of three or four miles is debatable. Most days, if I’m blaring my music loud enough and mimicking the structure of what the guitar player in each track is doing with his hands, with my own left and right hand, I can put a good deal of my lunacy off for the duration of the run itself. But, somedays–like yesterday morning–no amount of music, pounding, increase in speed, or anything else will remove the thoughts I’d rather not have. And, again like yesterday, too often the impetus of something disturbing only occurs to me because I am out there running in the first place.

I’ll admit, yesterday morning I had the music down pretty low. I was already feeling a bit skittish about the possibilites of either vehicular manslaughter or early morning muggery. So, let’s call the volume of my iPod Shuffle a four out of ten. My wife was out running as well, which is also the norm, but had left sometime after my own start–so I had no visual on her, and due to our recent return from vacation (cat burglars, you missed your chance. our cat is still here by the way) Ariele’s house keys were still at the sitter’s. Girl is always on my mind, but knowing I’d have to keep a keen ear out for her return to our abode was the thought leading the majority of the crazy parade marching within my skull. Would I be showering? Would I be on the roof? Is the buzzer broken, and how long would she be locked out? Basic stuff.

As I crossed an intersection, with the light, a lone black SUV with tinted windows sat awaiting the green indication that would allow its driver to proceed to their destination. For no particular reason that I can figure, the driver honked his horn–beep, beep. There wasn’t anyone else around at that ungodly hour, this is Williamsburg, Brooklyn after all and hipsters–even the ones who jog, and many do–don’t usually patrol the street prior to seven AM. After a quick scan for the intended recipient of those devilish toots, I made a quick spin to see if the driver was trying to flag me down for directions, or if it was even someone I knew using their horn to say, “good morning.”

Couldn’t make anyone out, there were no additional honks, and so I continued on my way. So did the SUV, making a right turn at that intersection and fading off into the distance behind me. Panic set in, and in less than two seconds my brain decided it knew exactly why the SUV’s driver had made those honks. Clearly the driver had Ariele bound and gagged in the back, and either she had managed to scream my name or, and far more likely, her abductor had been tailing us for sometime and already knew that I was her husband. Being the sick twist that is an entry level requirement for purveyors of such misdeeds, he had decided to take the game up a notch–in his head, his own thinking was, “I’ll give this guy a sporting chance. I’ll honk the horn, if he has either the courtesy or balls to come over to the SUV to see if I need something, I’ll release his wife and never bug them again. And if he doesn’t, well, then what happens to his wife is meant to be–I gave him a chance, one last chance to save his bonnie lass (he’s a Depp fan apparently) and he blew it.”

I didn’t bother spinning around to chase the SUV to at least get a plate number, something I might have done a decade ago. Nor did I spin around and attempt to immediately find my wife out there, to verify her safety–zig zagging up and down every block at double speed in the hopes of catching at least a glimpse of her to reassure myself that my brain simply hates me and gets a kick out of making the rest of my body perform ridiculous tasks. Ohhhh… if I didn’t need that brain for other things, I’d give it a good punching for certain (shake of head to self).

Ariele made it home of course, which was a real relief to our cat, because in the time between my safe arrival home and hers, I had informed our cat that it was possible her mother wasn’t coming home that day. Laying the ground work for the kitty version of the seven stages of grief–after all, they are like twenty stages in human stages.

90 Days in the Amazon

It’s pretty common for people to write blog posts about their failures and successes using Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and CreateSpace services. I figure, without having ever interviewed a single other blogger about it, that a big part of their decisions to write about the experience is nothing more than a ploy to get more eyeballs on the book or books they, like me, are so desperately trying to get people to read. The results of such bloggings I do not know–and originally I had planned on never writing such a post, out of some sort of misguided desire to keep the goings-on of my own publication a mystery.

Shameless self-promotion that this type of post can be, I’ll try to do something I believe a few might haven’t–and that’s be totally honest about what exactly has happened with my own publication thus far because of Amazon’s services. Clarity is not always my speciality, so let me expand a bit on that last inference: I truly believe that in the interest of propelling their book(s) even further, that some people have drastically inflated their sales numbers in the hopes of making it seem like the book is a smashing success to that post’s readers, believing that very misdirect will spur an immediate sale by the unsuspecting dupe taking that misinformation in. I’ll admit, it is also possible a few of the existing blogs that have covered this same subject were dated in that they used KDP in its earlier stages, before Amazon tweaked it, and as a result did, in fact, garner larger volumes of sales despite also being a first time unknown author.

Writing about Amazon has me feeling a touch of the willies, because while I am extraordinarily grateful for their services and what it has allowed this guy to do, I also find them to be a tad frightening in regards to how much information they compile on each and everyone of us–not to mention, what the company’s contributions to the publishing world might ultimately spell out for various others in the profession. The topic of Amazon Publishing Services itself can lead to some very heated conversations, and for some it is an exceptionally polarizing institution. But, like my politics, I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with bits and pieces presented by both sides of that conversation. Doesn’t mean I’m not a little paranoid that some nut-bag who truly hates Amazon isn’t going to use the other big brother of the world, Google, to hunt me down and put my head on a stake in front of Amazon’s offices as a warning to any future writers thinking of travelling the same path I have thus far–and yet, I press forward with some details for the casual reader of long-winded drivel. Lucky you.

Today will be my 90th day with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. And in order to take full advantage of a few key services they provide during that time, I had to agree to only sell the ebook version of my novel exclusively through Amazon. I wasn’t even able to sell it on my own website, by which I mean, I wasn’t able to make an actual transaction, money for book, using my various blogs. Linking to the book’s page on Amazon was totally fine, and that’s precisely what I did. Now, bare with me, as I deliver some numbers and a bit of the everything that I did to achieve what I am confidently deeming a successful first 90 Days in the Amazon.

Total copies of My Dead Friend Sarah OBTAINED by readers via Amazon only, ebook and paperback, as of today and at various price points set by yours truly: 13,136

I think this is incredible by the way, but before we get our collective panties in a wad completely, let’s take a look at that number in more detail shall we?

Total copies of My Dead Friend Sarah PAID FOR or CHECKED OUT using Kindle’s Lending Library by readers via Amazon only, ebook and paperback, as of today and at various price points set by yours truly: 688

If this number impresses you, as it sorta does me, then you are in the right. Why? The average traditionally published book, in all forms, sells about 500 copies in a year–or so I’ve read. I won’t be linking to facts, but you are certainly welcome to fact check my facts yourself. On top of that, the average book self-published in paperback using CreateSpace sells a scant 25 copies in a year. So, I welcome any kudos you might want to throw my way, because, as you might have surmised, just putting my book onto Amazon is NOT what led to 688 actual sales, nor is it even solely responsible for the success I had giving away 12,448 copies using exactly two of the five Free Days that Amazon KDP allowed me to use. On that second day of the promotion, for most of the day, My Dead Friend Sarah was the number one most downloaded book in suspense/thrillers by the way, and it felt awesome. It should be noted though that ereadernewstoday.com was kind enough to include my title in their morning post of 5 freebies, and without that having happened, I believe the total of books obtained for free that weekend would have been far less–somewhere around 3,000 to 3,500 I think.

I was quite hesitant to use any of the Free Days at all, people should be paying for the creative output of others and all that, but I do believe that because of whatever algorithm Amazon uses to feed Free Books into the display system titled “Customers who bought X also bought Y and Z,” that it most definitely boosted exposure to My Dead Friend Sarah. No question about it really, but while that certainly put my title in front of new eyes, I can honestly say that I don’t believe it was primarily responsible for my books sustained momentum of roughly an average of 7.6 sales/day. Not completely, and maybe not at all.

I’m run various self-administered tests using different combinations of Facebook ads, Google Adwords, blog posts, my own participation among other blogs, boards, etc. And, during the times that I have had absolutely no time to perform those mixtures of hocking my wares, there was a markedly drastic decline in daily sales. Many days, as few as zero. On the days that I have found the time to institute one, two, three or more of those efforts towards promoting my book, the sales have always been better. Even as I work in advertising, I was surprised to see what a difference it tended to make with regards to selling books, when i shouted about the book from digital rooftops.

Total books sold via all methods of selling, including the original paperback run-turned-failure with LuLu, paperback sales made by hand to co-workers and friends, and one or two via Amazon’s expanded distribution offer that put my book onto an infinite number of other online retailers: 720 books I believe.

Given the disappointing figures of other self-published and traditionally published works, and I’m talking the numbers that are far lower than that earlier mention of the industry average of 500/year and the self-published 25/year, I’d have to call the early stages of my self-publishing career a success. In my mind, 1000 units PAID for was a realistic goal for the end of 2012, and I’m not that far off from there. I’ve got a few other promotional tricks up my sleeves that I’ll be unleashing into the world during July and August, and I have a tremendous amount of positive energy going forward, as so many of the reviews for the book have been overwhelmingly positive.

Now, as long as Amazon doesn’t get cranky because of this post, and decide to yank me from their service entirely–I’m off to work on my next book, that, unless I ink a deal with a traditional publisher, I will most definitely be putting out using KDP and CreateSpace again. For me, the 90 day exclusivity clause didn’t really hinder sales. Most of my friends, family and other immediate buyers were cool to take a chance on downloading The Kindle App for their iPads and computers, if they didn’t already have it, or in fact have a Kindle. And for their continued support and purchases I am forever grateful to all of the people helping push my book out there.

Will I do another 90 days with Amazon KDP? I’ve got a little bit more time to hem and haw over it, but as of right now, I can’t honestly say that being able to put My Dead Friend Sarah out on Nook or iBookstore would make a noticeable difference. Not yet anyway.

Hope this answers some questions for some folks, and if you hear in tomorrow’s papers about a suspicious accident involving your favorite paranoid writer, please do be a dear friend and if you haven’t read My Dead Friend Sarah, give it a shot, tell a friend, or in lieu of that, mount up and concoct some charges against the beast that is Amazon–after all, my cat will need some diapers, and kitty diapers aren’t cheap.

Colin Hay Wants to Know

Above this text you will see a quick screen shot of some of the most recent searches that have led fine folks like yourself to my blog. I don’t pay much attention to this little blurb, and when I do, most days I find phrases along the lines of, “new fiction, paranoid thoughts, sober this or that” and the occasional long string of words that clearly indicates someone has Level 9 Paranoia way worse than this guy. Yesterday though, I was initially amused to see, “peter rosch dui.” I’m an open book, and while I sincerely regret having ever put myself in the position to get a DUI, I have no issues with people knowing about it–in fact, I should probably regale everyone with the fine tale of my night’s stay in a Bronx jail cell at some point. That was a real treat, let me tell you. After a quick trip down my own memory lane though, I started to wonder, “Who could it be digitally knocking at my door?” Why would anyone be on the hunt for that information? Who is trying to dig up dirt on this lowly private citizen, and what exactly do they intend on doing with that information when they find it? The little sliver of my brain that produces happy thoughts suggested, “Hey, maybe someone is doing an article/review on My Dead Friend Sarah.” Of course, this was a short lived notion, and it wasn’t even seconds before my brain started to fabricate as many other possible scenarios in which someone out there was doing a slow and methodical hunt for dirt on yours truly. It was a situation that I carried with me quietly, and shared with some friends, throughout the day. In retelling the story to my family last night–and only then–did I remember to myself, “Douchebag. You are not the only Peter Rosch on the planet. There are in fact a couple more famous than you, not to mention the man who co-created you, you egotistical sack of baloney.”

So, Dad, is there something I should know?

Agents of Sloth

My paranoia never leaves me completely, but it’s seemed relatively quiet upstairs the last few days–if I didn’t know better I’d say the curse had been lifted. I hadn’t give much thought to my current state of bliss, at least what bliss is for this guy, until I started formulating ideas for this very post. It wasn’t the first time my mind put wondering against the notion that some day I’d not be able to write for this blog anymore, and that perhaps I’d have to change the title to Level 9 Happy Goodness Times. In and of itself, that thought proves things are still cranking up there. The battle between my brain and me rages on, but at times it plays a quieter game–moves to destroy my sanity with the more subtle themes of self-doubt and dread. I think my psyche knows that if it positioned every evil twist, potential fate, and the doings of others as over-the-top Hollywood blockbusters, that in time those fabrications wouldn’t impact me with the same ferocity. And so, this past weekend, it decided to play me a quieter head-film, in the vein of an Indie feature that dwells in subject matter one might describe as more probable in the real world, and only seemingly less heinous due to the lack of guts, blood, and booming soundtrack.

I spent a great deal of time working on my next novel on both Saturday and Sunday. It was equal parts rewarding and frustrating, not too disimilar from the efforts I put against My Dead Friend Sarah, but perhaps with the additional creative-crushing notion kicking around that the table of my life has now been set with some lovely place settings, at least according to some, and this second book will serve as the metaphorical meal for those waiting patiently at this table to consume it. Yeah, there might be a little more pressure this time around–no one even knew I was writing the last time, and even I had no expectations going in to that one, other than to complete a rough draft of a full story in a timely fashion, rather than give up just twenty-two or thirty pages in, like had been the case in previous attempts made by a younger, and often pig-stink drunk or hungover from having been pig-stink drunk, version of myself.

If you care to know, I can tell you that in spite of the laundry list of thoughts that worked feverishly to prevent me from putting pen to paper on the next book, I was still able to get quite a bit done by committing to the doing of it as though the results of my labor meant nothing to me or anyone else–even though they eventually will. Only by committing to writing was I able to ignore the following gems of delusion that seek to keep me lethargic and in a permanent state of sloth: This story had been told before, You can’t write in 3rd Person, People were just being nice about the first one, Did you read what you wrote in the last chapter–laughable Rosch, The title is taken, The title is taken because someone is writing the exact same plot as you at this very minute and will publish their story long before you are finished, You are missing out on a great day out there that could be your last, You aren’t getting paid squat to write this book–mind telling me what the point is friend, Wouldn’t our time be better spent coming up with a gadget people really need, Being a writer isn’t a real job Peter, stop wasting time on this and let’s butter-up that resume with actual accomplishments.

It’s going to be a long, slightly different journey than the last. Here’s to hoping the part of my brain that likes me continues to do just enough to beat back the parts that most definitely don’t.

One Man’s Lullaby

Why am I the way I am? No one thing could be to blame, but it is worth mentioning that my mother and/or aunt used to sing this song to me as a wee little lad. Found myself humming it this afternoon on an otherwise nice walk with the Mrs. Thanks ladies. xo

The Worst That Can’t Happen

When presented with opportunities, I’m prone to mentally constructing the worst case possibilites of my involvement with something first, and I do so feverishly. You might regard this as a pessimistic attitude, and a regretfully sorrowful way of living. You’d be wrong. The key word back there, or phrase I guess, was ‘prone to mentally constructing.’ I do not believe in those scenarios. I do not prepare for the worst. In all actuality, I think everything that I am a part of is going to turn out amazing. I go into every project believing that it is a chance to do something great. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a wasteful amount of time dwelling on the outcomes one might deem far far from less than favorable–in the bad direction of less than favorable if you catch my drift. Death is tops on the list, always–but, how that death might occur is different from one project to the next. I’ve probably bored you to tears with other stories about potential near-misses, crazy trains of logic that outline how I might go if such and such happens–at times keeping a blog about one’s inner most sickness can be daunting. So, I’ll hope that you’ll grant me an apology for any overlapping themes. It’s Sunday, so I’m going to get to a point quicker than normal here–ask me to do anything, and I’ll believe (if not full-on know) that there’s a chance it is going to turn out incredible–but, and it’s a big but, don’t think for a minute that I haven’t given consideration to the litany of scenarios my participation in your event my bring down upon me.

When I was asked to participate in The 48 Hour Film Project a month or so ago, after a little bit of buttering up by my good friend Jordan, I enthusiastically agreed to join the crew, as the director no less. I had no doubt we could make something great–it didn’t even matter that I’d not worked with a single soul who would be joining me on that journey. I was confident whatever we did would turn out grand. And, as hopefully the link below shows, I believe it did. But, you can be sure that in the weeks prior to the event itself, I had managed to craft dozens of scenarios that were anything but successful completing a short film with over twenty friends and strangers, having it screened at NYC film center, and watching it enjoy a nice smattering of applause immediately after its unveiling. I believed this could happen, but I also gave quite a bit of thought to some of the following, and a hell of a lot worse:

I’ll be outed as a faker, a man who said he could direct, but actually has no business storytelling whatsoever. (This one is as obvious to a creative as any.)

The police will no doubt take notice of the spectacle we are creating with that little magic video capturing device, and stop us. This will lead to a citation at best, and at worst, would remind them upon running my name that I was due to report to prison for having not completed a DUI course correctly some years ago. Given the location, I’d most likely end up in The Tombs downtown this time–for no other reason than I hear that name mentioned far too frequently on Law & Order SVU.

We’d not have a crew to lock-down sets, and this would of course lead to an acute inability to control the crazies who come out when young people are making a mockery of their miserable lives by enjoying themselves with fancy clothes and cigarettes on their desserted alley streets. (Yes, I am referring to myself as a young person. Deal.) And armed with whatever the city version of a pitchfork might be, would proceed in beating us down for having the gall to do something for the sake of passion.

Getting zapped by electricity due to not really understanding the hows, whys, and whats of modern day grippery. (My word, created by using the word Grip. If you are in the business you know what those surly bastards are up to.)

And finally, at least for this list, the thought that, not unlike all my creations and co-creations, that some how putting something out there at all, with my name on it, will lead to the harshest form of criticism of praise: a good ol’ fashioned stalking, beating, abducting, torturing, and slow demise. (Oddly, this particular imagined outcome makes nearly every list of every single thing I do, because I clearly have an ego the size of an elephant that my poor self-esteem does a magnificent job of hiding.)

Without further ado, here’s the only real result of having participated in The 48 Hour Film Festival. And it’s called, Pickle.

Pickle

Happy Meal Romeo

It’s summer in the city. A time when few things, if any, titillate me quite as much as seeing couples–married couples mind you, and preferably with a child or children–warring with one another in the most public of places. I could care less what they are fighting about, and while I might delight in the degree of hostility the verbiage their exchange over near-nothing carries, even I am aware that I will most likely not be able to use each observation of a particular couple to my advantage. I’ve got a life, and I can’t be bothered with tailing and keeping tabs on all of them, and frankly, I don’t need to. So long as there are marital problems–and given the staggering rate of divorce here, there appears to be no shortage–I will be A-OK. Assuming I don’t die from utter exhaustion.

I work hard. I’d say I probably work harder than most. Nope, definitely harder than most. When you rent or own a total of seven apartments–in Manhattan no less–and furnish each of them to match the varying tastes of the women who inhabit the seven neighborhoods those very same seven apartments are located, and do so impeccably, there is no downtime. Aside from the two afternoon hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays that I afford myself in order to enjoy the fruits of all this labor, you will almost always find me working. I’ll allow that there must absolutely be a few minutes in every day that my body and brain insist I sleep. I’m not sure when those minutes actually take place. My addiction is demanding and I’m okay with that. Hell, at least McDonald’s is still relatively cheap, because I doubt any of what I do would be working if I didn’t at least ordered a small bag of fries.

Let me try to get straight to the point. I sleep with mommies–all races, sizes, and religions. The only guaranteed similarities of the women I bed is that I find them at McDonald’s on the aforementioned afternoons, and that each and everyone of them has been defeated. That probably sounds like I am the one doing the defeating, but what I mean to say is that each of them has let all the trials and tribulations of being a married housemother crush what I am sure were once very vibrant spirits. You might call that easy pickings, but let’s be fair to me here; nannies far outnumber actual mommies in this town. And the fairly recent demands Bloomberg put on chain joints to display the caloric counts of Big Macs and their brethren, coupled with the desire–even in defeat–to still be the best mom in the world, has driven most self-respecting mothers to take their children to Subway, at the very least. It is nothing like the salad days I enjoyed when I first started this back in the late nineties.

I’m not going to bore you with how this situation came to be. It is too late for that, and it is too late for me. I recognize that my addiction is a huge problem, but my admission on these pages isn’t because I am hoping to stop by coming clean. If anything, I’m either writing all of this down because I’m proud of the small degree of joy I’ve brought into the lives of what I believe to be exactly three-hundred and eighteen women, or because I’m worried that if I don’t record it, in some fashion, no one will ever know what I was up to, other than tirelessly working.

I don’t kiss and tell–I never have–and so, if I were to keel right over on my way to job number three of six tomorrow morning, the few friends I have would only remember me as the buddy of theirs who worked himself to the bone, and for what? A simple studio apartment in Lower Manhattan with nothing more than a mattress, cable, and only a forty-two inch, not even LED, flat screen TV amongst countless empty containers of Chinese take-out? I could live in one of the my other six apartments, each with all the usual creature comforts, but I’ve tried that, and on far too frequent an occasion some mommies have had the nerve to perform an I-was-just-in-the-neighborhood-pop-in to see their Happy Meal Romeo. To put it bluntly, that’s simply not part of the deal, not a part of my deal anyway.

To say I was surprised to see Meghan outside of my primary address yesterday morning as I stumbled home from job five of six would be a lie. In actuality I’d been rather disappointed that in over two decades not one of them had ever bothered to stalk me in the realest sense. I wasn’t hoping it would happen, but had been preparing for it to happen nonetheless. And there she was with her infant son, Gabriel, tucked neatly into a nearly five hundred dollar Britax B-Ready Stroller–you don’t experience the volume of success I’ve had without knowing the baby gear bullshit inside and out. Meghan was peering up at my studio window on the third floor of the crusty pre-war building that housed it. Only now, she just barely resembled the woman I’d fallen so madly and deeply for at the St. Marks McDonald’s just two short days before.

It was a Wednesday, which is a day that over the years I had systematically removed from my hunting schedule. It’s a pitiful day to operate, for far too often a couple’s weekend argument will resolve itself by Tuesday evening. I surmise that the thirtyish hours between Sunday evening and then is enough time to let cooler heads prevail for what I can only assume to be the sake of the children–I couldn’t really say for sure, having never taken that dreadful walk down a hypocritical aisle. Either way, in the early going, I learned through trial and error that on Monday, mommies are still too mad. They hate all men based on the actions of their husbands. With my skills a Tuesday afternoon is doable, but by Wednesdays they have lied themselves back into a momentary illusion of contentment with the state of their sad lives. While I can still work with that, I’ve got a small window of time these days and it’s far easier to catch them on a Thursday of Friday when old pre-monogamy habits can be gently reignited.

It is no hump-day for me, and I was there for a chocolate shake, nothing more, until I saw Meghan. Not so defeated as to have given up physically; she was young and her body had obviously rebounded quickly. But in her eyes there was an infinite black sadness that all the florescent lights there could not fill.

Yesterday morning, the difference, and I spotted it from a half-block’s distance, was the just slightly brighter than dim hope she now possessed in those same peepers that had pulled me in so quickly. A connection between us, as I saw it, no longer existed. Like so many before her, the very quality that had immediately hooked me forty-eight hours before had been robbed from me–by me–in what normally took three or four beddings at a minimum. There is nothing remotely attractive about a confident woman. Plenty of men may disagree and fortunately for those poor bastards we live in what some might refer to as the era of confident motherhood. While I wouldn’t go so far as to label Meghan’s demeanor yesterday morning as self-assured, it was clear to me that if we were ever to be a thing again, it would only be after she had returned to her husband, her material things, her land of pre-nursery-school-school interviews and daytime TV. Only then, might we ever be able to again enjoy one another completely.

These things can take time; she certainly won’t be the first woman to eventually crawl back into a red and yellow booth smelling of smooshed pickles and ketchup, hoping that schmuck of a clown will help her eat her feelings. And when she’s reached that place of desperation again, I’ll be obliged to rescue her once more, and I’ll even have a new toy for Gabriel by then.

Until that time however, I’ll have to stay at my Chelsea dwelling and pray that none of the few mommies I’ve bedded in the last few months in this area are feeling up to steering their strollers my way. There are inconveniences to my hobby, I’m sure that you’ve hypothesized more than a few–but would be more likely to cast aspersions my way than offer me even a shred of sympathy. And I can live with that; if you are married I’ve no doubt that eventually I’ll be helping you too. Together, we can all live happily ever after.

Memorial Elevasion

Last Friday morning I came bebopping down from my Jefferson-esque deluxe apartment in the sky filled with a special kind of piss and vinegar that only the promise of a three day weekend can impose upon a stinkin’ thinkin’ fella like myself. LIke many New Yorkers, I was only mere hours away from hopping into some form of transportation to skedaddle from my Point A to a Country B in order to rid myself of a little of the city’s oppressive this and thats. My mood was aces, my demeanor, spirited, and as I bounced off the elevator into the lobby to head out into the world I might have even been humming Matthew Wilder’s Break My Stride. “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, oh no…” and so forth.

On the other side of my building’s lobby’s wall of glass widows and electronically locked double doors were two towering gentleman in orange jumpsuits. They had tool belts, tool boxes, and each smoked a cigarette–a sure sign of questionable character–while standing there, peering into the lobby like sharks on the other side of a flimsy Jaws sequel aquarium attraction looking for the rube who’d set them loose–and after a moment of hesitation, one in which I rapidly considered recoiling back into the elevator while feigning a look that communicated “Oops, I forgot something,” indirectly to these mindless stealing machines–I decided to be their Dennis Quaid.

Precision Elevator was embroidered on the left chest pocket of their matching garb. A nice touch I thought, and as I inched closer I could see that there were indeed all manner of tools in their belts and boxes–sinister in their appearance, think torture table instrumentation from any spy, slasher, or film about dentistry. As I made it through the first set of doors into the foyer, I tried to decide if I the adult thing to do was inquire about credentials. After all, it was the start of a holiday in which countless city dwellers abandon their abodes, and posing as elevator repairmen seemed like a clever way to get inside a building with the very tools required for picking the cheap locks contractors had outfitted my condo building with, if not every condo building in greater Williamsburg.

I opened the second door to the outside world, and before I could utter the first syllable of my credentials request, the first gentleman entered and in the thickest of Russian accents said, “We are here to look at elevator.” He hadn’t even bothered to put out his smoke before joining me in the foyer, and his buddy was quick to put his foot in the door just in case I decided to try any last minute slam-and-go maneuvers–you know the kind; where you let a door close on someone and act like you had your head so far up your own ass that you totally missed seeing them there, so you act hurried and give the person a shrug while holding your cellular to your ear that says, “I’m sorry, so busy I can’t even come back to open the door for you.” Aren’t we all armed with that routine?

They had gained entry, but they hadn’t made me a believer. I decided to situate myself under the steel awning over the entrance of my building under the guise of having a smoke while texting in order to assess what options I was left with. I began mentally cataloging everything of worth in our own apartment. There wasn’t much I cared about losing to these thieves. We live an almost ridiculously minimal existence at this particular address, so if they started or finished with our unit the joke would be on them. If they got around to ransacking our apartment in the middle of all the others, its lack of quality thievables probably wouldn’t have the same impact. But then I remembered our cat, Target. If they were to break in, there was a good chance she’d escape and probably end up in a ditch by the side of a road somewhere, meowing for money, and doing unspeakable things to try to make it by in a cruel world she’d never asked to have been born in.

Panic set in, and I debated going back into the lobby to demand those credentials. I’d noticed the two of them weren’t doing anything other than milling around inside the lobby and staring back at me. I figured they were trying to decide if they should wait for me to leave before emptying out this modern day Whoville, or worse, come back out and throw me into a van they most certainly had parked around the corner (for I saw no van out front while trying to assess their legitimacy) only to deal with me later. I could leave right then, with my life, and hope that the cat might bury herself under the bed until they were gone–this seemed like my best option at that point.

Then, as I was feigning playing words with friends, I remembered, “You have a working cell phone now idiot, and Ariele put the super’s number in there for you.” A simple text was made to that very gentleman, it read something like this: “Hey dude, it’s Peter from Unit XYZ, I just let a couple of dudes in to repair the elevator and I’m concerned that they might be Memorial Day thieves of some sort.” I hit send and waited impatiently. Tick, tock, tick, tock…

“Cool. I’m here. I’ll come get them.” He wrote back.

I would say I was relieved, and I was for a moment, but it was truly short lived and any peace about the situation was almost immediately replaced with the realization that the super was in on it too. And barring that scenario, the elevator needed repairing? When would its cables be snapping, and would me or the Mrs. be the unfortunate rider on that fateful plunge. I headed to work and the sweet docile tones of Wilder’s Break My Stride never returned.

Memorial Day Weekend Watch-Outs

I’m sure many of you are amped up, out of your minds, and ready for a three day weekend to fill your bellies and souls with food, drink, and good times. I too am looking forward to a break from the insanity that the everyday tends to load punishingly upon our shoulders. Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, and so I’ll be keeping my own busy as I plow ahead on my next book in between gorging myself with the many delectable meats, cheeses, and chocolates I suspect will find their way to my mouth regardless of my own attempts at keeping them minimal, manageable, and at bay. Have a great time out there, be safe, and keep an eye out for some or all of the following possible scenarios that might make for a less-than-stellar weekend.

Poison Drinking Straws at Movie Theaters, Cement Trucks, Bar-b-que’d Meats Discarded from Tall Buildings, Children’s Birthday Party Scams, and don’t be so nice to someone that they decide to follow you home and kill you.

I’ll be back next week with my own observations from what I’m sure will be a weekend that lends itself to a countrified slant on my own brand of sweet, sweet Level 9 Paranoia. Until then, enjoy my silence.