“Streets can be eerie, Streets can be dreary.”

“Do you wonder, darling,
who sees you on the street?
Do you wonder, if you looked up,
whose eyes you would meet?
Do you wonder at their lives?
Where they’re from,
or where they go?
Do you want to ask?
Would you like to know?
You know most people move
in ways like you.
How many of them
do the things you do?
Do they bite their nails,
or pop their gum?
Do they stand too close
to where the trains run?
Would they recognize
something in you?
Do you see yourself,
somehow, in them, too?
If you looked up
from you tired feet,
looked around at the people
on the eerie, dreary street,
would you know them at all?”

*”Streets can be eerie, Streets can be dreary” is a Lady Lamb lyric. I didn’t come up with it and don’t have any rights to it.


Writing Prompt: You are the interpreter for the wind. What is it saying?

“Child, I know you’re cold and feeling small. I know my gentle touch sends a chill into your bones. I know you want me to leave you alone. But remember a cool breeze on a hot night. Remember your lover’s hair tossed just so. Remember power outages where you played Uno with your family, and how that was the happiest you all were together. It is in our nature to be happy.

Though you love me when I’m like this, I can’t keep myself small. I must blow and howl and gust, just like you must cry and wail and knock your fists into things that will hurt you. It is in our nature to storm.

I am a part of you. I have been with you your whole life, and I alone will continue after you’ve died. I will not leave you, but you will leave me. One day, I will try to tousle your hair after a hard day and you will not be there. I will sigh and moan and regret your loss, but I will also move on. It is in our nature to keep moving.

You do not always like me. But sometimes you do. That is enough.”

“How to Be A Writer”

All my life, the most prevalent advice on this topic has been deceptively simple. Q: How do you become a writer? A: Write.

This seems so ridiculously easy that anyone should be able to be a writer. If you love writing, just write, right?

Well, I have a complicated relationship with writing. I’ve been writing stories since I leaned to write. I was telling stories before I learned to write. I’ve been questioning the world around me since I could speak. If you’ve ever know a precocious child, you know that their favorite question will always be “Why?” even after you’ve given the best explanation you can give. I was like that. Luckily, I grew up in an environment where it was not only accepted, but encouraged. If my mom didn’t know the answer to my question, she would send me to my papa. If he didn’t know the answer, he would make something up. He told me that the sky was blue because it was reflecting off of my grandmother’s eyes. He told me that light bulbs worked because flipping the on switch made little blue monkeys inside the filament run, which made them hot, which made them glow. He was, and still continues to be, my biggest fan and greatest collaborator. He played “imagination games” with me. We would look at a spot and try to name all the colors we could see. We would try to think of three new uses for everyday objects, bonus points if you could think of a really good scenario in which to use them. I would tell him ideas and he would turn them into entire worlds. His memory has never been great, but he could retell stories from memory like nobody I’ve met since.

What I’m trying to tell you, is that I’ve basically been conditioned from a young age to be a writer. When other kids were playing guns or dolls or tag, I was in the garage putting on book signings, with my stuffed animals in line, ready to love me and my work. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said “A best-selling author”. No lie. Until, somewhere in middle school, I realized how many people want to do that and fail. That’s when my relationship with writing became complicated.

I still wanted to write. I still had a need to express the way I saw the world and the people in it, but my confidence in myself started flagging. I tried to be like other writers I knew of. Even fictional ones. I remember trying to be like Jo March, from Little Women, and put my hair up like she did, had special “writing clothes”, even tried writing with fountain pens on unlined paper. In high school, I decided that I’d take after the beatniks. I would only write if I were high. Some of it was really good. Some of it wasn’t. I even had a brief stint at my dad’s when I tried to Hemingway my way through writing. Which meant locking myself in my room with a bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes, willing myself to just put something, anything down on paper.

All of this because nobody told me the most important thing about writing: It is so hard. You can have endless worlds built, characters fully formed and fleshed out, a complete religion set up,  but pulling it from your mind is still hard. Putting it down, whether it’s electronically or on paper, is so damn difficult that sometimes it doesn’t even seem worth the effort.

But when I told my papa about those feelings, he told me the truth about writing. He taught me the real secret. He said, “Anyone can learn to write. But the people who must write are the ones who call themselves writers.”

I can quote that for you because I wrote it down.

That’s why I call myself a writer, even though I’ve never been payed to write, even though I don’t write every day, even though I haven’t finished any novels, and even though I have never actually participated in NaNoWrMo (National Novel Writing Month). I write meta about fandoms. I write thoughtful Facebook posts. I write articulate emails to my best friend when I have feelings about things. I write blog posts like this one. I must write. Sometimes I do it better on paper, sometimes I do it better online, sometimes I have to get drunk to get my thoughts out, often I have to have a cigarette in my hand, but I must do it.

To anyone struggling with the realities of writing, please remember this. If you feel the pull to write, you are a writer. Any writing that takes effort counts. And you don’t have to have writing credits to be a “real” writer. You just have to love doing it enough that you continue, even when it’s difficult.

❤ Eli

Happy Holidays

I’m writing this post from my new tablet keyboard, bought for me by my wife for Xmas.

This was my first Xmas with my new in-laws, and it was weird. I have only ever celebrated this holiday with my own family or my wife. I have never done anything for this holiday with anyone else’s family for any reason. But this year, we did Thanksgiving with my family, so we did Xmas with hers.

I’m here today to talk mostly about how strange families are and how odd a holiday based on pagan traditions with the name and face of Christianity is.

I’ll start with families. This family has traditions that are different than my family’s traditions, which pretty much makes sense. For example, my family opens stockings Xmas eve. This family opens everything Xmas morning. Not much of a difference really, just a few hours. But it  makes a difference when you’re used to one thing and end up getting something else. I certainly miss my family today, more than I expected to. I’m hoping that we can go see them today, even.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about (which I think about pretty much every year) is the oddity of this holiday in general. I write Xmas for exactly the reason that conservative Christians are worried about. I’m trying, actively, to take Christ out of Christmas. Knowing that the origins of this beloved holiday are predominately pagan, I am acutely uncomfortable with any Christian aspects of it. I don’t like the songs that talk about the star or the three wise men or baby Jesus in the manger. I like the ones that talk about sleigh rides and snow men and even Santa. I don’t put an angel on top of my tree, or even a star. I try to stay true to the origins of the holiday, especially since I lean towards paganism myself.

My wife and I have talked this year about what we want to do for a tree next year, when we will hopefully have a little more room. We’ve been talking about doing a little extra research and making a wiccan tree, or something that more accurately reflects how we both feel about the whole thing. With more planning than this year (we bought our tiny, pre-lit tree on impulse one day), this seems like a totally achievable goal.

Which brings me back to the family thing. I’m a little worried about how my wife and I are going to start our own family traditions with all of the traditions of both our families looming over us. I’ve never really thought about how married couples start their own traditions. It must be something that every new little family does, but it’s not one of the things that people talk about when they talk about new families. Maybe it’s supposed to be easy and just happen naturally. It’s definitely something I’m going to need to talk about with my wife.

I hope your holiday, whatever and however you celebrate, is as nice as mine has been.

❤ Eli

❤ Eli

As promised.

Here’s what I’ve written today of my recreation of Howl for my generation. I’m thinking of calling it Howl for Millennials.

This is what I’d written previously.

incomparable cul-de-sacs of suburban longing and
disgust in the mind leaping toward poles of
Happiness & Irritation, illuminating all the qui-
vering time of Life between,
Cocaine solidities of study halls, backyard family barbecue
yawns, tequila drunkenness in the frat houses,
store-bought over-the-counter joyride neon
flashing cop light, sun and moon and tree
violations in the Save The Earth Club,
ashtray rantings and just sleep slip of mind,
who chained themselves to free bus passes for the endless
ride from up-town to library down-town on no sleep
until the noise of wheels and children brought
them out panicking dry-mouth and
bawling broken of beauty all drained of belief
in the drear light of dorms,
who sank all night in submarine light of dining halls
floated up and sat through the stale pizza after-
noon in wretched student centers, listening to the death
of originality on the loudspeaker,
who talked continuously seventy hours from book store
to dorm to job to dorm to party to the third
story window,
a lost generation of state-of-the-weather talkers jumping
down the cliff out windows off bridges
off classroom desks down from the stars,
debating sobbing vomiting reciting formulas
and histories and names and brain wastes
and medications and armed forces,
whole intellects massed in regurgitating for one hour
maybe two with dulled eyes, meat for the
Dean of Students cast on the pavements,
who vanished into nowhere wastes of dropouts leaving a
trail of unambiguous pay-stubs of minimum
wage life,
suffering summer-day sweats and library knuckle-crack-
ings and migraines of hangovers under sleep-with-
drawal in common area’s bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the
square wondering where to go, and stayed,
leaving only their own broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes on sidewalks sidewalks sidewalks meandering
through snow toward lonesome bars in grand-
father night,
who studied Shakespeare French Mathematics dep-
rivation and healthy habits because the psych de-
partment vibrated at the thought of illness,
who loned it through the endless notion of taxes seeking vi-
tal information that was the only vital information
who thought they were only asleep when midterms
gleamed with academic excellence,
who jumped in cheap cars with the frat boys of Greek
Row on the impulse of winter midnight street-
light smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through semesters
seeking comfort or sex or beer, and followed the
brilliant philosophy major to converse about America
and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so left him
for another,

Hey Welcome Back, You (Me)!

So I’ve had whooping cough and have pretty much been sleeping for the last several days. Whatever. Feeling better today and instead of just rambling, I’ve decided to work on a poem that I started probably about a year ago. It’s, well, a version of Howl by Allen Ginsberg written for my generation. It’s derivative and probably would never stand up against the original, but it means something to me, so I’m going to keep working on it. Right now, I’m going to post what I’d already had done and when I decide to stop working on it for today, I’ll make a new post with what I wrote today.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
moonlight, grasping hysterical lonely,
pushing themselves through the half-lit streets at night
trying to catch the light,
brokensoul poets sobbing for some lost heavenly
connection to the distant illumination of the
quilted night,
who under-employed and uniformed and wind-chilled and sober sat
up smoking on the porches or stoops of
cheap apartments drifting up toward the sky
before going to work,
who bared their brains to school under florescents and
saw literary giants trapesing through lib-
rary shelves illuminated,
who passed through community colleges with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Oxford and Plathian tragedy
among the armies of scholars,
who were lauded by the academies for papers &
publishing dreary odes in the school’s subset of the
local paper,
who shivered in unheated rooms in blankets, burn-
ing their money in inefficient heaters and listening
to the high wind through the wall,
who got busted in their public indecency fingering some
girl or guy in the bushes by the library,
who ate their shoes in winter or drank their book fund in
summer time, ruin, or distilled their
blood night after night
with starlight, with Riddlin, with anxiety nightmares, al-
cohol and papers and endless reading,

Why I Support Teen Girls Even Though I Don’t Like Them

Okay, this is something I talk about a lot. Teenage girls. They get on my nerves. Not as much as teenage boys do, but enough. They are stereotypically interested in things I was never interested in as a teen. You know the stuff: hair, makeup, prom, boys. While I am fully aware that not all teenage girls are focused on these things (mostly because I gravitated toward several who weren’t during high school), I’ve seen enough of them who are.

I wouldn’t ever say that teenage girls shouldn’t be interested in the things that they are. And I would never assume that a girl is stupid or worthless because of interest in things that I am not interested in. I think the main problem I have with it is how many of the interests are forced on them by media and then denounced by people as shallow. I want girls to see that happening. I want them to understand that magazines are pushing makeup at them and then people wander around telling them that they shouldn’t wear makeup. I don’t want teenage girls to stop liking makeup, I just want them to be aware that there is a double standard.

And I want them to stand up for what they like. When people tell them that they’re wearing too much makeup, I want them to say, “I don’t give a fuck what you think about my makeup. I like it and I’m going to wear it.”

“I like dying my hair. You can go fuck yourself if you don’t like it.”

“I’m going to read my shitty teen drama romance because I like it and it gives me feelings. Feel free to get the fuck out of my face about it.”

I want teenage girls to use the word “fuck” more often. Can you tell?

I will always support teenage girls. I won’t ever want to talk about hair or prom with them, but I will support them in what they like and I will stand by them while we dismantle the shitty patriarchal double standard surrounding their interests.

Too Goddamn Early

I’ve just sat here staring at the blank screen for a literal 5 minutes. I suppose I should put something down here. My partner and I are going to go do laundry today, but I have to be at work by 11:30. So we have a small window of opportunity and we’re seizing it. Of course, since I normally wake up at nine, I had to get up at 7 to be able to go through my normal morning routine. Not a fan.

I can’t really think about anything other than work this morning, so I suppose I can write about that. I’m not really supposed to talk about it on social media, but let’s just say it’s a multi-billion dollar fast food chain. That’s just vague enough, right? Anyway, I’m a manager there and it sucks. It really does. My store manager is over-worked and kind of mean. But, you know, I get that it’s hard to be a female in a top management position when the directors of operation and the head of maintenance are all male. They expect her to be hard, because that’s what management is to them. But I feel like if she would be more vulnerable with the crew sometimes, they would respect her more. I know that as soon as she was more open with me and told me how much shit she gets from our directors of operation for caring as much about her crew as she does, I respected her a little more.

I’m really of the opinion that positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement. I don’t think you should bully people into doing better. They may perform better, but in the long-run, they’re going to feel spiteful. If you are using what we call effective criticism, then you are building people up in the same breath as you are saying they still have work to do. Why wouldn’t you choose that kind of criticism every time? What’s the negative side to that? And it can be hard, so hard, to do that instead of snapping at someone and saying they screwed it up. But just like everything else you have to learn to be a manager, it’s going to take practice and patience. I think it’s better for everyone, honestly.

Well, I have to get ready to do laundry. Until tomorrow.

❤ Eli

Dear Teen Me

Dear Teen Eli,

Do you go by Eli yet? You might not. That’s okay.

I’m close enough to you right now to remember how you feel and think for the most part. Even if I couldn’t actually remember, you left enough evidence everywhere. You left it on your body and in notebooks and on scraps of paper that sometimes randomly resurface, as if by design. I will never regret the scars or the half-filled journals or the notes that cry out for help. I don’t want to come back and tell you that everything will be okay. Mostly because I know you’ll hate me for it like you hated everyone else who said it to you, but also because I know you know that it’s inevitable anyway. You’ve long known that everything will right itself in the end. You live by the family motto, “This too shall pass.” You write it on your arms, your pants, foggy car windows, any surface you can find. But I know how often you replaced “this” with “life”. I know you’ve thought that dying might be what rights everything in the end.

But I also know you make it. I know that through the years you’ve probably made as many poor choices and you did good ones. They aren’t things to regret, though. These are the stories that connect you to other people. These are the strands of your life that inexorably twist together to make the strength you cover yourself in now.

I don’t have much of a message for you. I just want you to know that I understand. You’ve always been afraid that when you grew up, you’d forget.

Well, you haven’t.


You (Me)