Oh, Hey! I’m Published!

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You know that book I was going to be featured in? Well, it’s officially available for purchase!

You can order it directly from the publisher here, or if Amazon is more your style, you can order it from them here.

I worked quite hard on this piece, and though it’s hard to believe that I got published in this book full of super talented writers, I also know that my hard work paid off, and I’m thrilled to see that I’m talented enough to be among them.

As a reminder, the piece within the book focuses on some feelings around my mother’s passing, and how things will be different, moving on. I could say more, but that would be a spoiler!

I’m so thrilled that the book is finally available for y’all! PLEASE feel free to let me know what you think about the piece!

Inspired by Inktober: “Teeming” (Day 13)

Well right now, I’m teeming with anxiety about having nothing valuable to say about this prompt. That feeling is stacking on top of some latent self-doubt about whether or not I’ll even be successful as a writer, and it’s making me feel like I have nothing to work toward. I believe every word I’ve written so far has been garbage, and that each word from here on out will continue to be garbage. I’m sure it’s far from being garbage, but hey, it’s the teeming anxiety. I guess I can just blame that. Is it even to blame, though? Or is that just becoming a good scapegoat to cover up for a deeper problem? 

I wish I was teeming with anything other than the current feeling of helplessness in the lack of inspiration that I feel. There are at least feelings in pity, self-doubt, and depression; for me right now, it’s just a fat pile of nothing. There’s nothing happening in the well of inspiration other than it becoming much drier. The thing is, there are a lot happening in my life (mostly unfortunate things, if I have to be honest) that should fill me with every ounce of inspiration I would ever need. Yet, here I sit, forcing each singular word out of my mind as if it forgot how to craft words into stories, like it thoroughly enjoys. Why the hell are brains like this? You have these wicked cool creative things you enjoy working on, and your brain periodically thinks “hmmm, nah, not today” so conveniently when you finally make time in a hectic schedule to work on them. Excuse my “French,” but it’s bullshit.

I love creating, and I love writing, but I loathe moments when the lack of inspiration takes over everything. All day, my mind runs through the coolest lines, the coolest ideas, but I get the fewest opportunities to feed into the inspiration the moment in happens. It’s as if my mind selectively decides when to throw out its creative spark plug, and it couldn’t care less about how much work it takes for me to go and find it, again. Hopefully it shows itself before I sit myself in front of a blank word document, again.

You don’t deserve this garbage, but I guess I don’t, either.

Inspired by Inktober: Day 10 (Prompt: “Gigantic”)

Hey, everyone! I got very inspired by some of the Inktober prompts going on this month, and I decided to try and write for as many as time allows. I started pretty late into the game with day 10’s prompt, but better late than never, right? Either way, I hope you enjoy my start into this journey!


I sometimes think feelings are bigger than we give them credit for. They can be so big that they spill to into the world and spread to those around us, and they can be so big that it fills the senses, and changes the lens in which we see life. Feelings are bigger than this country, this world, and maybe even the vast expanses of this galaxy. We have no way of measuring how big a feeling is, maybe because feelings themselves are too big to measure. We may just cry if we get too sad, or too happy, or too angry, but we can’t possibly know how big that feeling is. 

Feelings are sometimes so big, that we only see the feeling itself, and not the intricacies within it. You see a girl crying and you feel that she’s sad, but do you see that she’s crying because she lost her job, her mom, and her spouse all in the same 6-month span of time? You see a small child jumping for joy about his mom buying him a new video game, but do you see him jumping for joy because it was the first game she could afford for him in the ten years that he’s been around?

Feelings are gigantic, in ways that are either full or overwhelming. Sometimes we want to feel so much of a feeling that it leaves room for nothing else, but sometimes we forget that too much of a feeling forces out the kind of feelings we need to protect ourselves. Maybe feeling one feeling entirely is too much for our bodies to contain, and that’s why the general sense of feelings are so easy to see in others. 

It’s hard to know if I’ve even felt one feeling so strongly, that I’ve moved all feelings aside. I know I’ve felt so sad that I’ve cried, felt so happy that I giggled, and felt so angry that I tensed up, but has that feeling itself ever been so big that it’s actually taken over? Has it ever become so big that it spilled out of me and soaked into someone else? Has it ever been so big that surrounded me, and disguised me as the feeling itself?

How can a thing be so minuscule, but so gigantic all at the same time? Sometimes we can hold ourselves back from expressing it, and sometimes it’s bigger than anything we’ve ever seen, leaving us with no choice but to let them overflow. Sometimes it’s harder to contain than it is to express it, and holding the feelings back is how the dam can burst. If that’s the case, some of us must be so eager to something break. 

And maybe that’s why feelings are so big; we’re supposed to see them, feel them, and be aware of how big their existence truly is. They must be so big so that we can’t miss them. They’re gigantic because they’re omnipresent, and no matter how much we try to ignore that, they’ll never be contained. Feelings can seem small, and they can feel like too much to handle, but they can never be forced to be smaller than they are. They know their own potential, and have no fear about how much of that potential they will show. That’s what makes a feeling so big, so gigantic, that we may never have a grasp on what it truly means to feel.

Thinking of You (Creative Nonfiction)

When I think of you, I think of coffee shops with cozy chairs and wooden tables. I think of the smell of espresso, quirky baristas, and lattes with just enough sweetness. I think of kisses on the comfiest couch in the shop, and sitting as close as possible without looking like one of those couples. I know that people would glance, but I imagine laying my head on your broad shoulder to give them something more to look at. A part of me would hate every bit of becoming that couple who constantly shows how much they’re into each other, but I feel I’d love every bit of it because it’s you. I think of spoons clanging against mugs and fingers poking at laptops being the background to the way the smoothness of your voice tells me, for the very first time, that you love me. I think of that being the only way I’d want to hear it.

When I think of you, I think of fireflies on a humid summer’s night. I see warm lights and I feel comforting heat, surrounding me and singing softly into my ear about everything being alright. I imagine us singing along, harmonizing and creating something beautiful with only breath passing between our lips. I picture your arms around me, the glow from the fireflies against our faces, the blue in your eyes disappearing against the orange beams, but the beauty in them never fading. I’d tell you that I want to feel like this for as long as I could, and I think of you holding me even closer. I think of not knowing if that made you smile, but feeling that you did.

When I think of you, I think of coming home during a snowstorm. I picture myself brushing the snow off my coat, slide my boots off of my feet, and hearing the soothing sound of your voice as you offer to warm me up with a cup of cocoa. I think of blushing, how you’d know I would prefer tea, and how you would believe that tea couldn’t warm your soul the way a cup of cocoa could. You would make yours with all of the works: whipped cream, marshmallows, and a dash of cinnamon, because you wouldn’t believe in too much comfort. I think of you getting some of that whipped cream in your dark-colored beard on purpose. I imagine you’d do this just to make me laugh, not because I may have had a bad day, or because you would think it was required of you, but simply because of your natural impulse to spread happiness.

I think of you in situations where thinking of you doesn’t seem logical. I think of you bringing home flowers when I’m taking my dog outside. I think of making you a spaghetti dinner when I’m folding laundry. I think of us sampling hummus, cheese, and locally roasted coffee at farmer’s markets when I’m driving to work. I think of sending you songs I know you’ll love when I’m washing dishes. I think of all the ways you could propose to me when the time feels right, how often we’d make midnight ice cream runs in our pajamas, and all the ways you’d turn sadness into smiles when I’m simply staring at an off-white wall in my bedroom.  

But I don’t just think of hot cocoa, fireflies, and farmer’s markets when I think of you. I think of text messages that you don’t reply to. I think of waiting in my chair at work, or while sitting on my bed at home, even just hoping to see you typing a message, simply so I would know that the intention was there. I feel that the emotional gravity would pull at my stomach, twisting and tearing it down with debilitating force. I imagine the gut wrenching would spiral into days, maybe even weeks, before I draft a message asking if I’m still worth while, without actually using those words. I think of you ignoring that text, too.

I think of a canyon between us when we’re sitting on the same couch. I think of you making more eye contact with your phone than you make with me, as if the entire scope of your vision could only handle a web page. I imagine hearing one-worded answers when I ask about your day, and I picture me spewing long-winded rants to my dog after you leave about how I just knew that I felt the foundation of our relationship crumbling from the moment it started. I’d punish myself for not trusting my gut, for keeping it quiet when I knew it should be the most important voice to trust. I think of picking up my dog, burying my face in his black and white fur, and sobbing after I hear your car pull out of the driveway.

When I think of you, I think of getting caught in rain storms that flood streets and drown plants. I feel it soaking my clothes and filling my shoes, making every movement feel heavy. I imagine how crippling it would be to want to rip those clothes off and wring them dry, but knowing I’d have to wait until no one was watching. I imagine the water rushing out of my shirt and scattering across my bathtub, some staying stagnant against the white base, and some slipping into a dark unknown. I think of how wrinkled and darkened the clothes would look after all the trauma, and wonder how I became pathetic enough to sympathize with pieces of fabric.

Thinking of you is fragile hope in a pool of chaos; it’s knowing that the train is on its way to a broken bridge, but thinking just a few more seconds of looking into your eyes will make the brakes work faster. It’s feeling that we’d still have time to redirect the whole damn thing, despite all of the noise. It’s realizing we bought the wrong ticket halfway into our journey.

When I think of you, at the end of all of the clashing chaos, I think of trying to unlock the front door during a snowstorm with frostbitten fingers. I think of hot cocoa that tastes like salt, and I think of drinking it in silence. I think of fireflies that sting, and harmonies that clash. I think of the perfect latte spilling onto the white sweater I wore on our first date, and you being too distant to care. I think of roses dying, spaghetti dinners with mushy pasta and watery sauce, and getting your taste in music entirely wrong. I think of how many pieces a heart can shatter into when you hope for forever, but end up with a box full of your stuff, and a good-bye that only one of you prepared for. I begin wondering if the shattering started way before that moment.

Thinking of you makes me feel whole, but also like the wholeness evaporating, forcing itself out of my pores and clutching onto some hope on the way. I feel complete, like pessimism in the midst of getting your heart broken. I feel new: sometimes like a star forming in the sky, but more often like a newborn baby feeling the world’s cold embrace for the first time. I feel the most fragile sense of bliss, knowing it could slip through my fingers and explode into thousands of small fragments across the kitchen tile. I feel that you wouldn’t be there to see how the pieces broke, yet, I think of you scooping them up with your hands, trying to make them whole, again.

How to Be Single for Seven Years

As we sit in this coffee shop, the clinking of spoons against ceramic cups becomes more apparent within the lingering pause in our conversation. We’ve already caught up on each other’s jobs, social lives, and reminisced about the “good ol’ days” of high school, so I can just feel that the conversation is about to go…there, to a place cultivated by an amount of bitterness only known to me and the several blank word documents I’ve talked to about it. I don’t want to get into it, but they’re about to ask, and I know I don’t have enough tact to get the hell away from the conversation without appearing socially anxious. I’m sure as hell not prepared to answer with 100% of the truth, and I feel the cyclone of thoughts whipping through my brain as they ask that dreaded question. In a panic, I let the amount of time I’ve been single slip past my lips, forgetting that human beings are usually more concerned about my single-ness than a blank word document would be. 

“You’ve been single for seven years? Seriously?! How?” 

Ah yes, how could something like that happen? Though I can’t confirm without bias, it could be because I am one ugly-ass guy. All those tea tree facial washes, masks, and the implementation of a regular skincare routine to keep my face from erupting in pockets of pus is what’s keeping the boys away from my face, right? Or maybe it’s the non-chizzled shape of it, and the way my features were just thrown together in a way that doesn’t resemble Ryan Gosling, or whoever is considered the god of beauty among gays, right now. Oh, right, gay boys like six-pack abs, and I definitely don’t have those. Shit, I fucked up. I fucked up bad. How could I let myself go by not keeping up with a seemingly unanimous set of fickle standards? Shouldn’t I know that my worth is completely dependent on whether or not a boy thinks I’m cute? 

Maybe I shouldn’t let them know that I have feelings for them. Here I was, thinking this technique was a helpful way to avoid the infamous “do we like each other or not?” dance. I should have known this would completely backfire on me, though; who the hell even says how they feel about people? Losers, apparently. Only clingy, desperate losers tell love interests that they “seem like a great guy” and “we should go out, sometime.” Since I’ve consecutively used those phrases quite often with guys, I guess that makes me a mega loser who knows nothing about dating. Damn, who knew I was fuckin’ that up for a whole seven years?

I should also try not to be so understanding about them cancelling on me three times before permanently flaking out. I don’t think boys really like that kind of generosity, right? I’m assuming they don’t, since I’ve had a large handful of them go ghost on me after I tell them something along the lines of “don’t worry, I completely understand the feeling of getting sick two hours before we were supposed to meet for sushi,”  so I guess this might actually be an act of rudeness? It’s hard to know, since it’s not all that easy to talk to ghosts. Wait…are men actually ghosts? Do I need to learn how to perform a seance for the sake of a better love life? Damn, where the hell have I been these past seven years?

Should I not be trying to maintain a sense of fashion? I think that could also be why guys haven’t wanted to keep me around; my nice sweaters, button-ups, and moderate-to-above average sense of color coordination must SCREAM that I’m not ready for a relationship. It’s completely logical. Maybe I should dumb it down to cargo shorts and sandals everywhere I go, since caring about how you dress seems to be a concept that men don’t like. I mean, they always say they love the shirts I wear, but I guess that’s the equivalent of a left swipe. 

Am I…am I really this out of touch? 

Thank God that I have a friend who cares enough about my self esteem to ask how I, a boy who hasn’t even existed for a quarter of a century, am not several-years deep into a relationship with the man of his dreams. In the seven years of wondering what the hell I’ve been doing wrong, I’ve definitely never thought about how this could be happening to me. 

…wait, that wasn’t a rhetorical question? I’m actually required to answer a question like that? I didn’t realize that this was becoming a sadist/masochist sort of friendship. Well, do you think you’d want the word-vomit version, or the nice little version that makes me look like I’ve got my shit together?

“I wish I knew.”

Nailed it.

“Well, I have a gay friend that I can set you up with, if you’re interested.”

Oh, well of course I’m interested! We, as gay people are absolutely incapable of knowing what we want in a partner, so the only solution must be to entrust a straight friend to save us from society’s crippling pressure to find love! 

“Maybe. Do you have a picture of him?”

The only reason I’ll ask this question, and the only reason I’ll smile as you slip your phone out of your pocket and start to open the Facebook app, is to trick my brain into thinking this isn’t a complete waste of our time. If only my brain could then trick my heart into fluttering as you shove the screen in my face the same way you’d shove a nervous skydiver out of a plane.

“See? Isn’t he cute?”

Oh, bless your heart, straight friend. No one thought to explain to you that attraction is complicated for gay people, too. What you meant to say is “what do you think, friend with standards that aren’t solely dependent on the suitor’s sexuality?”

But because I’m a hopeless romantic of a human being who’s halfway down a slippery slope to desperation, I look at the picture of your gay friend anyway, performing an internal sigh (that I have to actively prevent from becoming external) as I feel nothing when seeing his face, other than sympathy. Trying to put both of your gay friends into an awkward situation is pretty messed up.

“I mean, he’s okay. Just not really my type.”

Well, he likes all the same geeky stuff that you do. Maybe go out to coffee with him and give him a chance?”

Ah, yes, we’re both gay, and we like the same geeky stuff? Shit, why aren’t we saying our vows right this very moment? Sure, I bet we’d have a grand old time chugging some iced lattes and chatting about the latest episode of Supergirl, but, oh, I don’t know, I feel like being in a relationship with someone is a bit deeper than that? You know, maybe at least feeling some sort of romantic jolt through my veins upon looking at their face? Something that at least tells me “you know, being with this guy would make up for hating myself for the past seven years.” They don’t even have to be drop dead gorgeous, because let’s be real, I’m far from being just plain gorgeous. I just want their face to at least make me feel something.

And as much as I want to blame you for thinking our matching sexual orientations meant we’d be boyfriends for life, I secretly wish that it worked like that. But since that’s not how it works, your assumption actually becomes such a blatant disregard for our complexity as human beings, and that’s no way to make us feel like you’re doing us a favor.

“We’ll see, we’ll see. I just don’t want to waste our time.”

“Well, have you tried online dating?”

Have you tried online dating?

Imagine all of the problems you’d have as a straight person, and double – no, wait, triple – that amount of frustrations, and you’ve got yourself the full experience of being a gay man on a gay dating app. If you don’t look like a white Olympic athlete, you’re knocked down a few pegs on the romantic totem pole. If you don’t at least look like the nice guy who never gets the girl in heterosexual rom-coms, you might as well just delete your account. However, all of this can be reversed if you describe yourself as “masculine.” The Grindr scientists (AKA: real life love experts, obviously) will tell you that this is a proven fact. You could even use “masc” for short, if you really want to show the boys that you’re made of 100% testosterone.

As a boy with a somewhat visible gut, barely toned arms and legs, and a solid balance of masculinity and femininity, I think there’d be some serious repercussions for even looking at my dating profile. The gay gods would surely smite them with some sort of punishment, perhaps condemning them to being single for seven years (at minimum). I guess I lost eighty pounds and became more confident about my identity for no reason!

“Yeah, I’m not having much luck, though.”

“Yeah, online dating can be rough. But you know, sometimes it’s better to just be single, for a bit.” 

You’re absolutely right. I need plenty of time away from the companionship and security of having a boyfriend. I mean, I do enjoy being single, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being able to just take my pants off after a long day at work, slip on some gym shorts, and play some video games to escape the crippling stress from the day. I’d never be able to do that while in a relationship. Could you imagine doing that when you have a significant other? It would be catastrophic. Think of how your partner of several years would feel about just the thought of you in an oversized shirt and gym shorts, sprawled out on the couch on a Friday night with a PS4 controller in your hand and a slice of pizza on the coffee table, relaxing after a particularly stressful work week. I mean, there’s just no way they’d even be able to comprehend that, right? I should be able to enjoy that for as long as possible. With that said, how long is a good amount of time to wait? Maybe…seven years?

“You’re probably right.” 

“And I mean, you’re only twenty-four, so you have plenty of time.”

You know what? You’re totally right. I mean, you’re too old for romantic consideration in the gay community when you’re…forty, right? Or is it forty-five? Maybe it’s fifty, but only if I can get my shit together and acquire bulging biceps, calves of steel, thighs that could crush boulders, and abs that can slice apples. But even then, my eyes already start getting heavy once eleven o’clock rolls around, even if the horror game I’m playing is inducing stressful amounts of adrenaline, so I guess this transformation into being “too old” is already under way.

I guess I have less time than I thought? Either way, it sounds like I have 16-22 years to find a guy (which, apparently, could take more than seven years), date him enough for him love me, and somehow get him to marry me before the gay community hands me a death certificate, all while trying to achieve personal career goals, maintain a social life, and take at least a moment or two out of the day to tend to my sanity. I have plenty of time! 

“True.”

“I wouldn’t even worry about it. Being in a relationship is overrated, anyway.”

I know, right? So overrated. That’s probably why I’ve been single for a whole seven years while you have a boyfriend, my best friend is married, and every week, I groan at yet another engagement photo on Facebook of a couple in my age group. I don’t even know why I groan at them, because professing the deepest romantic love for someone, despite all of their flaws and shortcomings, is overrated, right? I shouldn’t even feel jealousy about a luxury in life that the gods are clearly hiding from me, which, according to what you’re implying, must be for my protection. It’s definitely not because they want to see me struggle through conversations like these for seven years (or more).

But I mean, I should just consider this a blessing, right? Having someone to love you so much that they’d want to spend the remainder of their life loving you is just so overrated. Having someone to come home to and hold you while you watch Broad City in bed because you just need a down day, someone to be your partner in crime for all of your shenanigans from baking cookies to fighting the crowds at concerts, and someone to grab you by the shoulders, look directly into your heart through a broken look in your eye, and tell you that you’re more beautiful, more talented, and more valued than your insecurities try to make you believe…I mean, it’s just not what it’s all cracked up to be. It’s just…not a luxury that anyone should want…right?

That must be why couples always look so happy; they’re thinking about dumping each other.

“Totally.”

Stained (Creative Nonfiction)

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The day I drove one hundred and twenty-six miles to visit you, I noticed a tiny white line of only two centimeters in length on my favorite pair of burgundy shorts. Where it came from is shrouded in uncertainty, and what substance dared to try and desaturate them is still a mystery, but it took only moments of being in your home before it made its debut. I was in distress, making it known with the tone in my voice and a lingering, disappointed gaze at the stain. I heard a similar tone in your voice, but when I looked into your eyes, I didn’t see that tone in the way you looked back at me. I saw a deep, but distant ocean in those eyes, a harsh contrast to the radiant glow of the hair on your head and the beard that framed your face so perfectly. It was then that I felt the stitching of that singular strand of time come undone; I wished that you had felt it, too.

I started forgetting about the stain while you kissed me gently, holding me in your arms before we ventured to explore the area you lived in. The stain was less of an issue when we were both sweating in the one-hundred degree heat, a choice we should have known we’d regret. The stain was an afterthought while we drank raspberry rose iced tea, both a reasonable and futile attempt to cool down as we continued to sweat on the way back to your humble abode. The stain became a non-issue by the time you took me out for Indian food before fighting a sudden rainstorm to see a sci-fi movie that interested you more than I. Maybe kissing in the rain before seeing that lackluster movie would have washed the stain away for good, but neither of us even remembered that the stain was there.

The stain was out of mind by the time you told me “I think I just want to be friends,” words that snipped through me like scissors through silk. Those words separated the threads holding me together, the thought of us on our way to a deeper connection being torn before it could even reach the seams. The tears that followed only stained the moment after I read your text message while sitting in my parked car, though I knew this stain would bleed into other moments to come. It was then that I learned how frustrating it was to be stained by something as invisible as a stream of clear liquid coming from your eyes, your own body making it known to the world that something deep inside of you has become more jaded. 

After I thought I removed those stains, I noticed the white streak on my burgundy shorts, sending a small, panicked pulse through my nerves as I held them over the laundry machine. Not sparing a single moment, I grabbed the stain remover and sprayed the gel-like substance onto my shorts with the intention of destroying the white streak; I wanted nothing more in that moment than for that stain to just be gone. I attacked it with the rubbing motions the bottle expected of me, the feeling of rejection rearing its stupid, ugly head again because I was about to let one god-damn mother fuckin’ piece of shit stain get the better of me. I’d be damned if I let a two-hour drive I made just for one boy, a weekend only one of us thought was worth my efforts, and one moment of having my guard down taint something I loved with a simple little stain of only two stupid centimeters in length.

Days passed one after another, making the stain less and less noticeable, but only because life with the stain became more and more habitual. Through many stain-removing applications and agonizing anticipation as I spread the shorts out to be analyzed, I still see it there; I still see us there. I remember noticing it, I remember hearing what sounded like feigned concern in your voice, and I remember trying to lick my thumb and wipe it away, as if that was the simple, one-step that would keep the stain from ever existing. Though the white streak is still visible, the temptation to remove it has vanished, replaced with a sort of comforting hopelessness, knowing it was never meant to disappear. It was just an arrogant little stain, daring to suggest that my happiness couldn’t exist alongside it.

It sucks that I’ll probably always see you in that white smudge every time I pull those burgundy shorts out of the bottom drawer of my dresser. It sucks even more that it will probably always sting, not just knowing, but also feeling that you remained spotless.