My Little White Room

Every so often, I am treated to a lovely dream by my frenemy, my brain, in which I find myself awaking in a little white room upon a very sterile white twin bed, tucked under spotless white covers–tightly, and unable to move, even though there are no signs of restraints being used to prevent me from lifting myself from the bed to investigate past what my eyes can see: a small white table next to the bed, a glass with what appears to be water, and a window not much bigger than two foot by two foot on the wall to my left that might have the outside world on the other side, but the sun is so bright that everything is blown-out, and thus, not discernable.

Sometimes a human–possibly a doctor, researcher, agent, or any other manifestation of authority–enters the room to check on me. I try to speak, but I can’t. They do no speaking themselves, and reveal nothing as to the nature of my detainment. Usually this person hovers over me, staring at me, saying nothing and performing no examination or other molestation–just delivers a grin that rides the line between sympathetic and pleased. When he or she is gone, I’m left there to ponder what events might have taken place prior to my awakening, what are the circumstances surrounding my detainment. But there is never any true recollection–just speculation and the construction of numerous possibilites that might explain how I landed there. This is usually followed by a temporary bout of panic that either grows to the degree necessary to awaken me in the reality we call reality, or is just enough to seemingly reset the dream–and have me find myself in that same little white room again, for what feels like the very first time. And repeat.

Some might refer to this as a reoccurring dream, but it doesn’t happen with enough frequency for me to classify it as such–unlike say, the dream I often have where I know I’ve only a few days until a long prison term, and I spend much of it trying to figure out how to prevent a destiny I know I’ve already cemented for myself, despite not knowing what actions did the cementing.

I tend not to read too much into dreams–at least not my dreams–and these two narratives in particular are probably only a three on a ten scale that measures a dream’s disturbing-factor, ten being the most twisted ones that leave me not wanting to ever go back to sleep. But maybe, like so many things I think and imagine, that which is disturbing to you–a ten on your own scale–has become commonplace for me, my darker thinking routine enough to no longer see the spectacle of it all. Often the first thing that comes to my mind regarding the outcomes of a situation revolves around a twisted little nugget of a possibility that my friends and family might not have hypothesized if even given a day to dwell on potential scenarios.

Ugh. It almost sounds like I’m bragging, and maybe I am, but I certainly hope you won’t hold it against me–let it feed whatever insecurities you might have just enough to consider, and then put into action, a plan that finds you abducting me and reconstructing my Little-White-Room dream in order to get back at me. On the off chance that you do go forward with this very complicated form of retribution, please note: the bedside table is on the left of me, as is the viewless window, and the door to the room, which has no knob, should be placed to the right of my bed and in the farthest corner from me in what I can only guess is about a 12 x 12 foot room. Thanks!

Animals In The Know

Dear owner of the dog downstairs,

No need to apologize for your dog’s dislike of me. Oh wait, you didn’t apologize, nor have you ever apologized. Like your dog, you seemingly have zero respect for the rest of the world and the personal space of its other inhabitants. Even so, there really is no need to apologize. Your dog gets it. I hate him, and I hate you. Hard to hide that kind of negative energy from some of nature’s special little critters. And so, in a weird way, even as I loathe your beast, there is also a growing respect for his ability to see through my mask of ambivalence–so, don’t get too bent out of shape about it. You might be thinking, “Gee neighbor, you must hate dogs.” I have used the word “gee” for a reason, I believe it helps me paint you as the lumbering moron I believe you to be for my readers. Anyway, I don’t hate dogs–anymore than I hate people. Some dogs suck, like yours, and some people suck, like you. Part of me should be fearful that you might come upon this blog post, do some quick math via google, and ultimately decide to unleash the filthy mutt (bad choice of words, since I’ve never seen it on a leash) to feast upon my flesh. I’m pretty sure you don’t do much reading though, call it a hunch. Well, until next time, I’ll be honing my ability to trick your dog into thinking everything’s cool. “Keep your enemies closer,” and what not, right? Enjoy the rest of the day that I almost allowed you to let me ruin for myself.

Sincerely,

The dude upstairs who hates your dog, but respects the keen sense of energy fields it, unlike you, possesses

Sunny Central Park Stroll With My Demon

As I’ve mentioned before, a good deal of my brain activity in any given day is put against speculation of what dark deeds other people around me are scheming or engaged in at that moment. Typically, I don’t have to work very hard to fabricate exactly how their actions are going to impact me, directly or indirectly. These individuals aren’t always out to get me specifically, on occasion I’m sure I am only fated to be the collateral damage of whatever plans they have for someone else that day. It isn’t always about me, but as of late, I find myself wondering more and more if maybe I shouldn’t turn additional attention towards myself. What things am I doing daily that serve to destroy me?

I’m a big believer in the Shadow Self. Carl Jung defined the Shadow Self as “that which we think we are not.” To shed a touch more light on the concept let me just plagiarize a bit with this little nugget from the interwebs: You may believe that you are not like your neighbor who does this or that bad thing, but if those negative qualities you judge, were not also a part of you, then they would not trigger your emotions. You might be nodding in agreement, you might also be nodding the other direction in disgust or boredom–wondering how come your gracious author isn’t just talking, per usual, about something like, how he thinks the recent uptick in the number of hangover cures, morning-after recovery kits and beverages, is actually all part of a big brother style black-ops operation to slowly rid the world the chronically underachieving. Perhaps I’ll post proper about that little gem over the coming weekend, and so if you aren’t into a more meta post right now, I encourage you to come back in a few days for something only seemingly more disturbing that what follows here.

Part of any proper recovering addict’s or alcoholic’s Shadow Self, would be the disease of addiction itself. AA oldtimers are big fans of the saying, “While I’m in a meeting, my disease is out in the parking lot doing push-ups.” My knee-jerk reaction to the utterance of that phrase is usually something along the lines of the silent version of this sound, “Pffffft.” Most likely because the disease itself wants me to believe I’ve been cured. One need not look any farther than Zelda Rubinstein’s declaration, “This house is clean” to understand that if you’ve had demons, those suckers aren’t really ever leaving for good. And if you don’t keep making smart decisions (for example, in the case of the family from Poltergeist, moving out of the house immediately after that supposed victory) the spiteful little bastards will speak to you from time to time, coaxing you back into the very hell you left, with promises of renewed, consequence-less good times. They, or in my case, the other me, is shrewd. And I’ll be damned, because yet again, those cutesy bull-shit-phrases that litter the walls of the rooms of recovery are wickedly on point.

My life is a sensational dream; I couldn’t ask for more than I have, and my gratitude for all of it is through the roof. And yet, as recently as yesterday, just mere moments after finding near peace with everything going on in and around me thanks to an hour on an Upper Eastside couch, the voice of my demon was as loud as it had ever been. Wondering–almost aloud–as we strolled through Central Park on such a lovely day, “What would it be like if we made an effort to throw it all away? Wouldn’t that be quite the experience? To go deeper down the rabbit hole of madness and filth than ever before, if only to see if we could resurrect ourselves yet again.” My Shadow Self knows the way to my heart; my disease knows I’m always up for a challenge, and as twisted as its coaxing might sound to the average Joe, I found myself drawn to the idea. To destroy everything I’ve worked so hard to create, just to rebuild it again–from scratch, heck, without even scratch to get started. That’d be something.

On the other side of Central Park, we could get started. We still knew a few bars there from our first six years in New York City. We’d be well on our way into this new journey before lunch, and any of the various paths it might lead us down would only serve to strengthen our own understanding of what is at first hedonistic and sinfully enjoyable, until it also further educates us on what it truly means to be without hope, scratching from dark corners, without so much as a dime and not a friend left. With rapt attention, I listend to my disease, the demon within, as he held me close, shielding me from the beauty of the park and twisting the reality of what I have, while feeding me truths about many of the world’s injustices, the worst in people, reading me the troubling and sensationalistic headlines from the discarded rags that pass as news that we occasionally found underfoot. He had my curiosity, he had my attention, he had everything but my smart phone–which buzzed in my palm, only to tell me that someone had hearted the picture of my cat that I had posted on Instagram earlier that morning.

The Demon, smart SOB that he is, didn’t curse me out, didn’t continue trying to talk me into something other than heading to the subway to make a beeline to work, and didn’t let out some twisted tortured yelp as though I’d vanquished him once and for all–nope, he simply wished me a good rest of the day, and right before he left said, as casually as my very best friend might, “I’ll see you around, Rosch.”

Which of the Seven Circles of Hell?

“I don’t think I should have to work overtime to convince anyone that I deserve future kudos. But, this is the world I live in. Anyone who doesn’t religiously talk-up their own bullshit, no matter the validity of its purpose, the enjoyment it provides others, or the sincerity of its intent on the betterment of life or mankind, is left sitting amongst the also-rans. Barnum couldn’t have foreseen the utterly egomaniacal nature and ease of future communications when he said, ‘Without promotion something terrible happens: nothing.’ It is no longer enough to be fantastic. You have to be fantastic at letting people know just how fantastic you are, and I hate it.”    – Elisa Hardwick, from my forthcoming novel But I Love You.

To quote one of my own characters from a book I’ve not even finished might just be the epitome of the very type of behavior the quote itself references. But alas, I’m a man who enjoys having people read what he writes–and to some extent it matters very little whether they enjoyed having read it, or found what I had written loathsome, dull, or unrealistic. In the latter instances perhaps I get the tiniest bit of satisfaction in knowing that I’ve managed to trick them into wasting some of their day on me. It’s a dark part of my personality that I currently work very hard at squashing with a trained professional on a comfy couch on the Upper East Side. I’ll get there.

To shout about the things I put out into the world goes against everything my sobriety and my leanings towards Buddhist practices would have me do. Indeed, my own preference would be to put content in the form of books, music, musings, ads, and the like out into the world for it to be found naturally, on its own time, and because others made the discovery of it serendipitously and then shouted about it themselves. But, I’m not perfect. I don’t aspire to be perfect, and perhaps I’d be labelled a fool by most to not use what life throws at me in order to give my other pursuits their best possible shot at an existence beyond simply existing. I try not to let what others might think of me dictate my actions, but I do let it inform them.

So, is it wrong to post the commercial I wrote for AXE, here on my blog, because it is garnering so much attention and in theory could lead to a few people finding and purchasing my novel? Maybe. Maybe not. For those of you who share my disgust in regards to self-indulgent, self-congratulatory postings, tweets, and the like (Yes, I do it. A lot of it, but it doesn’t mean I care for it) perhaps you can take some solace in knowing that so far my triumphs in the realm of advertising, present and past, have not meant squat to the readers of fiction. Even fiction that is based in the complex realities of who I used to be.

But, maybe it’s only because they haven’t been exposed to it yet. I am still surprised when people who I consider close friends reveal that they only just found out that I wrote a book. And so, at the risk of having perhaps only myself condemn me for all eternity, I have decided to embed the Susan Glenn commercial here as well–tag the fuck out of it–and maybe earn a few more followers of my regularly scheduled programming. It’s worth a shot, no? It’s also important that any readers of this post know this: I do not consider myself solely responsible for the creation of this branded film. It was only through the rigorous efforts of many people, both agency and client, that a film the likes of this one could ever make it out into the world. And so I thank them all, and last, but most definitely not least, I thank the brain of my good friend and partner, Nate Able, for co-creating the idea from scratch with me. It was our baby, and it’s nice to see it doing so well so early in the world.

Enjoy, and if you feel so inclined, why not take a chance on my book. Good day. I said, Good day.

The Scent of Evil

If memory serves, and previous stories might suggest it doesn’t always, I haven’t worn cologne since I was a wee adult–let’s say seventeen or eighteen roughly. Back then a little Drakkar Noir was all the rage. I can’t say it did much for me. I don’t recall having washboard abs, an attractive woman on my arm at all times, and anything better than a twelve dollar haircut. I could tell you that I simply haven’t needed it as an adult, but am open to the idea that someone out there might vehemently disagree with that assessment. And, to be sure, I’ve dabbled in power scrubs, shower gels, and for a short period of time wasn’t a stranger to taking toothpaste and using it as soap on my hands in an effort to remove the sweet stank of cigarette smoke.

I’ve got friends that wear various scents–male friends I mean. And I suppose since I think I know them pretty well, I don’t tend to lump them in with the remaining male population that walks amongst us. Most of the time when I catch a whiff of an approaching male, the very first thought I have is, “What is this guy trying to hide?” You might think I am referring to simple body odor, but you’d be wrong. Logically, I can make all sorts of rationale as to why that is the most legitimate reason for bathing in the stuff–but, for some reason lately–and maybe it’s because quite a few of the most recent interactions I’ve had with these walking roses have also included awkwardly friendly salutations–I find myself surmising that the wearer has something far more sinister about him, something that he is trying to camouflage with microscopic atoms of smell-goodness.

In my book, some far more likely reasons for seemingly having drenched oneself in artificial flavorings are the following: The guy is most definitely an alcoholic, and without more than a little splash of Polo, he’d be caught vodka-tongued at his day job. (My own solution to this type of pollution had been AXE Snake Peel Scrub. That and a sick-sized wad of breath mints.) Or, maybe he wears it all the time so that should he cheat on his spouse or girlfriend, pick up a bit of a prostitute’s scent in the process, he can then douse himself in his brand to cover up any trace evidence his lovely back home might be able to detect with her sniffer. Finally, I could be mistaken, but I do seem to recall from some readings on serial killers and the disposal of bodies that many of the chemical substances used to breakdown human remains–bones, skin, organs, etc.–can leave a fella quite pungent with the stink of crimes most foul. If I was chopping and dicing bodies in my bathtub, I think I’d give some serious consideration to a quick spritz of CK One before leaving the house in search of my next victim. At least that’s how I’d go about it.

Thusly, if you are a gentleman, and you smell real, real good–don’t be surprised if you overhear my inner thoughts say, “I’m on to you buddy. You smell just a little too good.” And if you are hearing my inner dialog about you, then I probably have much bigger problems to resolve–but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised, as I’m told the various spawns of hell, the real flesh and blood demons that walk amongst us, smell absolutely grotesque.

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

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.