Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Condensed Story Of My Life So I Don't Forget - Part 2

I was born in a red brick house
with a Christmas tree
and silver spoon in my mouth...

My childhood is a blur. All I can really remember are the things that my mom has reminded me of since high school was over. My best friend was Alex D., who was the same age as me and dad went to college with mine, and therefore we were destined to be friends. He lived six houses down the street. We would turn on the hose in the back yard, and make things out of mud. We'd play with the balsa wood airplanes I'd beg my dad to buy me at the hardware store. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What can I say? We were kids.

My brother, Paul, was born on April 29th, 1991. I don't remember ever being close with him, even though we shared a room until I was twelve. Even though we were siblings it felt like we lived in two different worlds, which is still true. I started to drift away from my family at a young age, though, and sometimes I blame myself for being so distant from him. We still don't really talk. Even Robby (who, at this time in the story, is still just another friend at my elementary school) hung out with Paul more than I did. Paul got a MySpace a few months ago and I didn't know what to do when he put me in his Top 8. I know that's a silly example, but that's really the best I've got, and that may say more than I meant it to.

I was teased a lot as a young kid. My only social saving grace was that I was the class clown and was also a pretty good drawer. Chuck Jones was my idol, and I drew every day - pictures of Looney Tunes, cartoons, even charicatures of my teachers and classmates. I even met Chuck Jones in fourth grade, and my mom still says that's one of her favorite memories of me growing up. If it weren't for my ability to draw, I think less people would have even considred talking to me. I remember my parents bought my clothes for me, and my parents, if you didn't know, have a pretty detatched sense of fashion, especially for young boys. Flamboyantly bright striped polo shirts, shorts that were too short, jeans that were too, back then, tight. I remember one time someone called me "gay" at school, and I went home and asked my mom what "gay" meant, and she said very straightly (no pun intended): "It means happy." So the next day, when I was called gay again, I said "Yep!! And I'm proud of it!"

There is one important memory I remember from that time - one that would seem so trivial, but one I always think about when I sit and "try to figure out where it all went wrong." I was at Alex D.'s house, and it was fourth grade. He told me that I needed to have my parents stop buying clothes for me, and that people thought I was.. well, gay. Or something. We were in his family room playing Sonic 3D Blast on Sega, I remember this distinctly. Before we left to walk back to my house he gave me a pair of his jeans to have, because they were cool, and I remember feeling guilty, somehow, but also trendy - daring, even - at the same time. As strange as it sounds, I look back on this as the first time the world of my parents stopped taking precedent, and the little moment that allowed the rest of my life to take the course it did.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Condensed Story Of My Life So I Don't Forget - Part I

My name is David Neff. I was born at Tucson Medical Center at 10:36pm on September 14, 1987. I was a C-section baby. The two names picked out before for me before my birth were Bradley and David. My mom told me that the second she saw me she knew I was a David. I also know that my parents called me Homer before they had any idea what to actually name me. David, incidentally, is also the name of my grandmother Mildred Neff's first son, who died shortly after childbirth. My dad told me, when I eventually asked, that my naming was entirely unrelated. I was also, as I'm told, my grandmother Neff's favorite grandson. Sometimes I wonder if that's because I was her oldest son's first son, or that I was named David, and I lived, which somehow made up for her first son, who is buried somewhere in Ohio in a graveyard I've never seen.

When I was born my mom owned a piano store called Pro Music, which was located roughly around Broadway and Wilmot. I was, as my mom has told me, the "store baby," but it didn't last long, as the recession that hit in the late '80s led to the store's eventual buy-out from Hachenberg & Son's Pianos, which is located, funnily enough, directly across the street from the music store I work in now. My mom says she has never regretted selling it for a second.

I was born into a house - some-address-or-other on Indian Ridge Dr, which is located off of Tanque Verde Road, between Grant/Kolb and Sabino Canyon Dr. My parents sold the house to a couple who ended up having a child named Ben who, funnily enough, became friends with my younger brother Paul in preschool... but that hasn't happened yet. At one and half years old my parents moved out east, past the furthest bus stop, into 49ers Country Club, into the house that I now and forever will call my home. It was the third house built in my neighborhood and the previous owner hadn't upgraded a thing since. We moved in shotly after I was born, a year which also brought Tucson's only white Christmas my mom (a Tucson native) has ever seen. She said they took me out in the snow, and she and my dad joked about it being God's gift to me for being born. My home had carpet which was a funky orange, before it was remodeled years later, and I remember peices of the ceiling were falling out in the family room. My mom's Yamaha grand piano was in the living room, which is, mind you, seperate from the family room, though they were right next to each other. There were wood panel walls and window shades. There was a tacky bar that connected the kitchen and the family room. There was a striped body-pillow that we kept out there, because I used to sleep on it as a toddler.

The rest of my early childhood are the regular cliches of any other. I was the first born. I, like every other child it seems, started reading and recognizing symbols and talking at a very young age. I was never very exploratory, unlike my younger brother, and, as I've been told, always behaved very well in public - aside from the time I pooped on the floor of PDQ Records, which my parents have never really fully explained to me in detail but I can probably figure out either way.

I was baptised with my mom, which I didn't know until a few months ago. My mom was raised in a spiritually conflicted family, apparently, half-Jewish and half-Christian and, due to her gender, the definitive religion seemed to kind of pass her by. She was neither baptised or mitzfah'd, if that's what you'd call it. I went to church as a very young boy. I remember getting a pin for each chapter of the Bible I read. It was a mildly conservative Methodist church. My dad was raised Methodist. Once I turned the age of five, I remember trying to get out of going to church weekly. When I was about seven years old, due to a poor engineering decision, I was near-fatally electrocuted at my church while trying to get a drink of water on the playground of Sunday School. All I remember is trying to scream, but I couldn't, because I was stuck to the fence by the water fountain, and I was knocked unconscious when I hit the concrete. I remember waking up to paramedics, my Sunday school teacher and my parents. They were checking for burns. They said I was very lucky. After that I had to sleep in my parents room for a number of months, and they sent me to a children's psychiatrist because I was having ultra-realistic nightmares based on the Little Golden Books my parents would read me. I still don't understand how or why that all worked like it did, but sometimes I wonder if it scrambled my brain. After that, I never wanted to go to church again.

I remember now that my babysitter Lisa told me, after my parents got divorced many years later, that it took her so much by surprise, because my family was always seen as picture-perfect to everyone in the congregation. For some reason, that is something that has stuck with me for years and pops up every time I sit down and think about it all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Writing, simplicity and bongs

Okay, this is it. This is going to be the time I sit down and write something even though I don't feel like writing. Maybe I'm a better writer when I'm level-headed. Maybe if I treat writing more like a daily task I will get better at it. Yeah, that's what I could do. I'll write for half an hour a day. Just about whatever. That will help.

Maybe if I just start writing I will become inspired anyway. Yeah, it could loosen me up a little bit and the wisdom would just start pouring out. I think I like the sound of that. Maybe then I would feel a little bit better about ignoring my roommate fucking her boyfriend. If I write something good, it would make for a better excuse for being alone. If I write something very good, maybe it would make me seem mysterious or something. That might attract someone, and then I wouldn't have to be alone. But then I probably wouldn't write. Or maybe I would. I hope I wouldn't start writing only because that person wanted me to. That would make me feel awful.


It's too easy to be complex. And I don't mean that in a self-indulgent way. I'm not saying I'm complex, or, more importantly, that anybody else isn't. That whole last paragraph was simply thinking of the opposite of the line before it. You learn before you even have pubes that day is the opposite of night, and up is the opposite of down, and if you tell someone not to give you their lunch money, it's opposite day, and in actuality, you do have to give them your lunch money.

Wait a minute, wasn't that last paragraph, just a paragraph saying the opposite of what the paragraph before it had to say? Damn it... I think I'm seeing a pattern here.

It's much harder to be simple. I have such an attraction to simplicity. But not simple simplicity - simplicity that looks complexity in the face and with understanding and empathy and says... "No thanks!".. and maybe smiles coyly and walks away. Yeah, that's what I need. I think.

Why my mind went to the complex/simple thing, which are too vague of words anyway, I don't know. It just felt right. I think it is because I was talking to Keegan the Artist and he told me that he is complex, and I thought that was a funny thing to say to someone. It is also a funny thing to say to someone while you are cleaning your bong. He keeps his bong very clean, which is admirable, I think, especially for a stoner. I wonder if simple people let their bongs get dirty. I should ask him. Maybe I should wait 'til he's stoned, first.

Well, I'm tired, and it's finally quiet next door. Maybe I won't go over this a million times and edit the little nuances over and over all day tomorrow. This can be, like, a raw exercise in writing, or something. I guess.
Okay, goodnight.

Monday, October 20, 2008

andrew cohen - a short story

Andrew Coen

I thought about Claire and Andrew Coen the son of a bitch while Johnny and I walked toward the wash. Scattered along the dusty path were Coke and Mountain Dew cans popped with bullet holes from Andrew Coen’s .22. I had seen him out here shooting before with his buddies, showing off the gun that they all so admired, even Claire. It had been over a year, I’m sure, since she thought about me, before high school, and she wouldn’t stop popping into my head every time I saw one of those cans.

The water was flowing in the wash, and as tradition Johnny and I had decided to walk down and pretend we were kids again. Johnny said it was like one of those boy movies where the group of kids go down and have an adventure, like Stand by Me or The Outsiders. Except here there was no forest. And here there was no green and no misty fog hanging over the horizon, and there were no train tracks to skip along or old baseball fields to pass by. There was only dirt and weeds, and an occasional gopher hole or Coke can.

Johnny talked most of the time, as he likes to do, while we walked down the path. He talked about how his mom moved out, and how he knew his parents, any day now, were going to announce their divorce. He said it was because of her and this guy she met in the church choir. Johnny had always been a smart guy, much smarter than me at least, and because of this I tended to drift out of conversation and let my mind wander in its own more sensical world.

By the whim of a holey, lead-filled Coke can, I remembered the only time I was ever beaten up in school. It was second grade. We were in line, boys on the left, girls on the right, on our way to P.E., and behind me was Andrew Coen the son of a bitch. As we marched, in my infinite stupidity, I stepped on one of the little cracks between the concrete. Andrew Coen poked me in my sad, chubby side and said:
“Step on the crack and break your mother’s back!”

I didn’t respond.

That night Andrew Coen’s mother, incidentally, slipped on a freshly mopped floor at Chic-a-Fillet, shattering five segments of her thoracic vertebrae, rendering her completely paraplegic. The next day Andrew Coen kicked me in the balls while I was waiting for the teacher to unlock the door for homeroom, and in a fit of fury called me “son of a bitch.”

I continued to be engulfed by my past as Johnny and I walked. I pretended to listen to him, an art I had nearly perfected throughout my relationship with Claire. The water soon came into sight, just beyond the mesquite trees, and I snapped back to his semi-monologue. Johnny was talking about these two girls, both friends, whom he had dated one right after another.

“When Ally has a boyfriend, it’s like no one else exists,” he said. I agreed. “And Jen says she’s too busy, and that she’s in the middle of ‘growing up.’” He paused and looked at my shoes sweeping up dust. “Like no one else is growing up! What’s with everyone and this ‘growing up’ shit? Who the fuck isn’t growing up?”

“At least she’s not dating Andrew Coen,” I said, “the son of a bitch.”

“You know, I was such a nice guy to the both of them,” he concluded, “which means, I’m sure, they have nothing but awful things to say about me.”

I laughed. It was when Johnny said things like that which made me remember why the girls liked him so much. I hid my envy well, though; taking pride in that Johnny held me to a high standard - that he could be as sophisticated as he was able, with no apprehension of appearing pretentious.

From nowhere a loud bang exploded in the near distance, and my head jolted toward the noise. I looked at Johnny, and he looked at me, and a small flock of birds abandoned their perches hidden in the landscape.

“Eh,” Johnny said simply, and kept strolling, attempting to assure me with his apathy.

“What do you think that was?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he looked at me and replied aptly, “Probably Andrew Coen, the son of a bitch.” He was a clever bastard, he really was.

Somewhere along the trail I arrived in my childhood again, or what I guess you could call my childhood. It was only a few years ago, really - my sophomore year in high school, and Claire and I were laying on my futon. I was rubbing my hand up her legs, near her thigh, and kissing the back of her neck. My nose scraped her cheek and I felt nervous because it was so big. She grabbed my hand for the first time and stopped me. She turned around and told me she loved me like a brother, like a father. I listened to her say how it hadn’t felt right for a while, but that she needed me in her life, and that she didn’t tell me before because she didn’t want to lose me, and that…

“Huh?” Johnny asked me. We were walking still. I had sighed, apparently.

We arrived, and Johnny and I skipped rocks across the deep and filthy water. There were spots where large logs interrupted its flow, like pimples on the face of a supermodel, like Claire had when we first started dating. How beautiful she had become, but always was. I knew I was the only one who would ever appreciate that. One day, I said to myself, she would realize that, too, and leave Andrew Coen and come back to me.

The sun beat down on me and Johnny, as it does in summer, and we bonded more like the boys in those movies than we would ever admit. I strayed shortly upstream in search of some more skipping rocks. Distracted, I saw a very large leaf. I took it and put it in the water. At that moment it became my own brilliant vessel, which I sent on a miraculous journey westward. I pulled out my wiener and started to take a piss in the weeds, admiring my ship's trip abroad. Suddenly, from the East, my eye caught sight of another leafy vessel chasing mine, avoiding the shipwrecked tumbleweeds, in full motion. Beneath it was a trail of what looked like red oil, creamy and vicious in the untainted water.

With a zesty crunch, Andrew Coen washed into the weeds. There was a large gaping hole in the side of his head. I remembered the bang and the birds and the sudden sound of his .22. I stood frozen for what could very well have been an hour, but was likely only a matter of seconds. I called Johnny over and put my wiener back into my pants.

“Holy hell,” he said, and that was it.

I said what I thought of, which was nothing, and stood in shock and horror and happiness.


Wow, it really has been a long time, hasn’t it?

Is it pathetic that I listen to your mix over and over?

I’m sure you don’t do that with mine.

I’m sure you need me less than I need you.

Everybody wants me to be their journal. I can’t save you, and I can’t help you. I’m sorry, I know you know I’m just as lost as you, which is why you come to me. And because you know I listen. I know that. I know that me writing this only furthers my position as your journal. And that my music only encourages it, too. And I know that being honest only drives you away. But I don’t know what else to be. I’m not that different. I’m a person, too. But you already knew that.

I have been thinking a lot lately. I’m starting to think I shouldn’t have gone to Flagstaff. You made me a mix and you made me a mix, and we laid there like lovers while we listened to them. I rubbed your side and you scratched my back and we both pretended like it was okay. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized, on your mix, all the songs are third person, about “you,” and all the songs on mine are first person, about “me,” and that says so much. I had forgotten what it felt like to be in love. I got home and cried again, and felt guilty, and stopped myself again. I tried to write a song about remembering and nothing came. I felt pathetic.

You’ve been in and out of a big relationship since me. I have been on four dates and never cared to see any one of them again. It’s not attraction anymore. I know you still appreciate me. I am just tired of being an idea. I’m a person, too.

I have a lot of passion, but passion isn’t enough. I have a lot of space on my couch - what do you think about that?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

september 30 2008 4 am

I am so scattered. I just don't know what to write.

There’s this big bump in my popcorn ceiling, and it really screws up the whole shadowy-starry effect it has. I was staring at it after the movie finished. Sometimes I just sit here and stare at it. I don’t know why. It’s comforting, I think. I’m listening to Randy Newman’s Sail Away, which has become one of my favorite albums of all time, and my favorite album to listen to on vinyl.

The movie I was watching wasAlmost Famous, which I love. I love it because it talks about rock music, which is dead to most people, I think, but not me. When I left to take a piss I thought about how I could write about rock and roll, because I can feel and I can write. But you wouldn’t understand. Or maybe you would. I don’t know what would bother me more.

Kyle died today.

There, I said it. Kyle died today, and I’ve never had a friend die before. No, it never would have even crossed my mind. I feel like I am in this strange world, a bastardized version of my day to day routine. I sit behind the cash register and hit F12 and take their cash and then something hits me that this is my life and Kyle is dead and I haven’t cried yet.

Too many people have written about death, it makes this feel even... less. That's all I can think to say about it. There is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre.

My mind has been so scattered. Whatever used to be my center has become invisible. I’ts still there, I just can’t feel it or see it, and I never know when I’m using it. Maybe I don’t.

God, I miss being in love. Maybe not being in love, but I miss loving someone. I miss the feeling of communion. It’s been over a year now, and I feel so lonely and it feels futile to talk about and ungrateful to think about because Kyle is dead and I’m alive and I’m lucky for that.

All I’ve been trying to do is the right thing. I let Daniel punch me in the face tonight because he said that would end it all - all the drama (I know, it's a terrible word to describe what's really going on) - and I punched him first, but it didn’t do anything. It was then I realized how fucked up everything has become. How did we all start out on the same plane, and turn out where we are today? Are we really that different?

Why haven’t I cried yet?

I didn’t with my grandparents. Not until I went to their house in Sun City, and it was empty. That old wooden tree clock was still ticking louder than hell, and I found a ninja turtle of mine in their couch in the guest room. I don’t want to go there again. Never.

What makes me so sad is that only a handful of people really seemed to mourn Kyle. He was already dead to so many of us, and that’s such a hopeless way to go. It’s not that I didn’t love him, exactly. You have to understand that. I did. He had an old soul – something his mom told me her Tai Chi teacher told her about him, if that makes sense. Even if it doesn’t, it's still true.

Mike didn’t come tonight, which was smart. He knew not to come because he has always been the smartest out of all of us, which he would renounce and I would try to convince him of, and he would never believe it. But his instincts are more distinct and acute than anyone I’ve met in my life. That’s why we love you, Mike. That’s why if you died, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

I told you I’m scattered. Shattered, even. Lost beyond comprehension and waiting desperately to find someone who really gets me and reminds me how wonderful life really is, because it really is, and I know that. I just want to feel it.

I’ve tried to hard to do the right thing that now I can barely tell the difference.

I told you I’m scattered. I read your blog, Maria, and I thought it was beautiful in the way that it was you coming out and showing yourself to the world, in a hopeless gesture of expression that says that you are human, no matter what it says.

My life hasn't been bad, just very strange. I can't believe Kyle is dead.

I'm sorry, I just don't know what to write. I told you I was scattered.