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The RV Stalks At Noon

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Hey Gang!

 

I admit that I have an overactive imagination. I can’t help it. I have been creating these overt, elaborate plots of nothingness for no reason. For example, I once went for a walk on a trail in the back woods with some friends. Along the way, we found barrettes, a small pillow, and a blanket. As a precursor to my revelation, this is adjacent to a campground and fishing; well-travelled it is, as Yoda would say (did you read that in his voice? J). What then unraveled in my mind was that there was a serial killer on the loose in the woods, killing people while they sleep and burying them along the trail…and we were next! Completely true story! Not the murders, the imagination.

Another instance is that, on a date,   we sat and made up stories of all the people around us. We sat next to kings and queens, spies, and everything under the sun. It was a fun night and rare that you meet someone who shares that imagination with you. I understand that my imagination is ridiculous but it is fun and makes the mundane seem like a festival. However, it does get to me. I get uber-paranoid because I let my imagination run. For instance, I was driving through town and the car behind me mirrored every turn that I made. It was unnerving because I thought of every Creepypasta and episode of Alfred Hitchcock that was even remotely similar and it made me freak out. I started going faster, and they matched my speed, I slowed down thinking they would go around but nope, they stayed behind me. I finally whipped into my parking lot to see them speed past and into the distant night. I let out a long exhale and contemplated my sanity.

Fast forward to now. I come to work and every day there is an RV camped out in our lot. We share a rather large parking lot with a couple other corporate buildings. This isn’t your average RV; this is the watch-the-back-windows-for-someone-mouthing-“help” type of RV. It has not moved in 2 months and I have to say, it is a bit creepy but it is bringing out my inner sleuth. I have seen a balding man come out of it once and walk up to the building. The next time I saw him place something on the back bumper and then hop in a little S10 with filing cabinets in it and drive away. Below are the theories I have come up with:

  1. He works there and is having an unfortunate circumstance where he cannot afford a house
  2. He may be in the movement of not planting roots.
  3. He is a murderer that is on the move and needs to be mobile to finish his awful deeds
  4. He is using the RV as a kidnap shack in the open because he secretly wants to get caught
  5. It broke down after he was traveling the world, making it by ship from Russia and is too attached to just leave it
  6. He is a member of a secret society that only live in RVs used in ‘80s horror movies
  7. He is Illuminati….
  8. He may or may not be a vampire, which means I am living the real version of Fright Night
  9. He is a meth dealer who used to be a chemistry teacher and now has cancer but this is his way of paying for the bills and not leaving his family in debt (followed closely by his sidekick, Jessie).
  10. I need to get a life.

It’s definitely one of these!

-Chris

 

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Campfire Tales: Mr. Raccoon Has His Day

Campfire Tales: Mr. Raccoon Has His Day

Hey Gang!

I decided to go with some friends to this beautiful campground close by last year. We drove the 30 minutes or so to the lake where our campsite was. The trek to the location was somewhat far in, about a quarter of a mile. This made it quite difficult to lug all of the equipment to the campsite. I am very much a minimalist. I enjoy having a tent, a sleeping bag, matches, a hatchet, and gumption. All of which failed me, but I will get there later.

My friend brings a multi-tool furniture contraption that is a sink, a stove, a wrack for dishes, and a waste disposal. This, as you can imagine, weighed a ton. It took us around 30 minutes to get everything set up. I put my tent together in no time, situating it near the clearing facing the water. It was beautiful and blue, shimmering with the setting sun. I wanted to watch it each morning as the yellow rays crept over the gentle ebb and flow of the water’s motion.

Chad puts his tent up rather quickly. It is a one-man tent. He has all the bells and whistles: sleeping bag, inflatable mattress, in-tent warmer, three fleece blankets, and three pillows.

“Nice hotel,” I scoffed.

I am man! I went to the woods to chop wood and fish. To scour the land and rough it. The thought of having “amenities” was deplorable. Plus, why the heck would someone need three blankets when it is 80 degrees out?

Juan was unfortunate enough to not have a tent. Chad gave Juan his spare tent, which turned out to look more like a coffin. It was only suitable for lying down. Seven feet long by 2 feet wide by 2 feet high. Perfect for sleeping or practicing being dead, your decision. He put his up with some help and we decided to wander. The day was filled with amazingly uneventfulness. The wood gathered was from a bin near the front for 10 dollars a cord. Most of the time was passed by sitting in silence as the trees swayed and the sounds of nature surrounded us. Nature is beautiful and I love being in it, however, being in a hot forest while bored is not conducive. I walked down some trails, which led to other people’s campsite. We saw each other and the immediate response was, “What the hell are you doing in my woods?” I have no idea why but it feels instinctual to stake claim in wooded areas. “This is my area, that is yours. Keep it that way!”

I eventually find some downed trees and take a stick. You guessed it! Carved wood. I tried to make a spear for fishing. It just sounded right. In the woods, I could only imagine a bigfoot coming out and killing me. Irrational, I know. I admit, I have a flair for looking into paranormal stuff and cryptozoology. Urban legends, folklore, and cyberlore are my favorites as well! (Maybe I should post a few of my favorites…) So, I became obsessed with the fear of possibly seeing a mythical beast. I mean there have been sightings in the area…in the 70s. On top of that, Chad would give little quips about “creepers.” Those people who surprise you or you catch watching you. Basically, a boogeyman in real life. I already have an overactive imagination and had just started reading stuff about the dark net. Not conducive to being in a tent alone.

Night comes and I have freaked myself out. We look up at the stars and they are amazing. Massive out in the woods. I enjoy it but I hear those sounds of the night. Wood creaking and people at campsites in the distance. Guitar carries across the water where a lantern glows. A sound cracks from behind us and we walk over to investigate. Nothing. We go back to the table and talk about nothingness. Another pop followed by thrashing of paper. We shine a light and see a raccoon as big as a medium-sized dog shredding through Juan’s tortilla chips bag. Its eyes glistened a greenish white.

“Hey! Get the hell outta there!” Chad screamed into the night and the little booger ran away. We laughed about it for a while and made sure to secure our food before heading to sleep.

(To be concluded…)

 

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Campfire Tales Part 2: Creepy-Crawlies and The Scream That Ended The Trip

Campfire Tales Part 2: Creepy-Crawlies and The Scream That Ended The Trip

This was the first time I had ever camped, except in my ninja turtle tent in my bedroom floor as a tot. I feel like that doesn’t count.

I know one thing, the dark is pretty terrifying. Let me clarify, what is in the dark, or the possibility thereof, is terrifying. I use this preface to go on about when our noses started to run. We had no toilet paper, tissues, or paper towels. However, in the darkened exterior of the camp, about 50 yards away, was the public restroom. Ben essentially made fun of me when I proposed we both go look for toilet paper. It didn’t bother me. At least this way, when the three-eyed beast came to eat me, I wouldn’t be alone in its stomach!

I carried my gas lantern as Ben led the way to the outhouse. It was impossibly dark only three feet away from the lantern. This made my mind go to places I didn’t know possible, which is kind of impressive for me, no?

We get to the bathroom and he opens the door. I peek around inside, slowly lifting the lantern up to illuminate the small, dark space, and notice cockroaches all over the bathroom. Ceiling, floor, and walls were covered by long, dark insects. I was blown away from disgust.

“Got it,” Ben says as he takes a roll from the bathroom.

He passes in front of me. Now, the entire time he was in there, all I saw was the left side of his body. As he passes, I see the right side of him…which is now home to about four massive cockroaches. I try to emote but it comes out in stumbles.

“Er.. You..On your back…Cockroach! Dude! Dude!”

Now, there are two versions on what happened next. Ben’s recounting and then the real story.

Ben said it freaked him out that I was yelling. That’s why he jumped.

What really happened:

He had a look of shear horror as he ran into the darkness swatting cockroaches off his back. I was dying laughing at this point. Grossed out and laughing.

He skulks as he is visibly embarrassed. We go back to the fire and blow our running, cold noses as the fire dies out. It is then the cold sets in but above us are stars; billions of stars unlike anything I had ever seen. We stood there looking upwards in the cold for quite a while.

Ben then decided he needed to go back to the truck for something. I thought, “Oh god…I have to be by myself in the dark with a broken lantern (lantern broke, I guess a breeze blew by and knocked it over. I blame karma).”

He went off and I became hyper-aware of my surroundings. My ears perked up and I could hear every insect landing on a leaf from 10 meters away. It was terrifying for no real reason. I felt like I was being watched the entire evening and now, by myself, it was amplified. He finally skulked back but the feeling never left me. We stood there growing colder but still in awe of the heavens above us for a while longer.

That was when we heard the lack of frogs croaking. It was silent. I remarked something to him for a moment, I can’t recall right now, and that is when we heard this blood-curdling scream coming from where we fished not but a few hours ago. We looked at each other in shock. The scream continued and moved up towards us as if it was coming up the hill. We were immobile. It then sounded like it went through the woods, which Ben’s back was to, and then flew over head and away. Its scream drowned out as it flew into the distance.

“So, go to sleep?” I said.

“Umm, yeah,” he quickly retorted.

We dove into the tent and set up the partition between us. We joked about the sound for a bit, calling it a witch, and then went to sleep. The next day, the boredom and monsters finally got to us. We decided to fish one last time in the main river and head home.

I guess that’s how most people camp, right? Fear and boredom?

Stay tuned for my next campfire tale: Mr. Raccoon has his day!

-Chris

 
 

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Campfire Tales Part 1: Chris, Ben and the Infinite Boredom

Campfire Tales Part 1: Chris, Ben and the Infinite Boredom

Hey Gang!

So, it is getting that time of year where being outdoors becomes a life-goal. I have decided to tell a few stories of literally the only times I have been camping. It is funny, my best friend Ben and I have this saying: We can never be normal. It does not matter how boring the activity we do is, we never have a genuine normal experience. There was one time where we hung out, went to best buy, scoped out chicks with our 17-year-old eyes at the mall, grabbed lunch, and started our way home. Nothing abnormal happened. It was a beautiful sunny day with the windows rolled down and the breeze coming in through the small s10’s windows. Once again, it was completely normal, until a huge yellow jacket flew into the cab at about 55 miles per hour. We swerved and screamed as it landed on us and around us. After what seemed like an hour, the bug flew away and we breathed a sigh of relief, laughed, and yelled “Why?!”

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These are some more (s’more, get it?!) of our stories that should have been a relaxing or uneventful tale, but took a sharp right. I think it makes for a better story anyway.

We found this great little place off a major lake a few years back. It was great and we wanted to spend the entire weekend camping in my massive tent that is bigger than my dorm room in undergrad. We get there and it is probably a hike of about an eighth of a mile in to where we camp. The walk way is beautiful and green. The path laid flat by lawnmowers. It had a natural elegance to it that I couldn’t put my finger on.

We put the tent up and went for a short hike along a path. We wound around and found a small two-person boat someone had repurposed as a bridge. The earth showed signs of recent flooding. The trees bent over the river in towering ways. It was quite beautiful. Until we got lost. I am not sure how it happened. Maybe it was the boat that threw us off or maybe our imaginations that ran wild when we saw cigarette butts and old, empty beer cans. Whatever it was, we got lost. I guess “lost” is a harsh word. We could see houses about a mile away and we could hear traffic but we could not find a way out of the wooded area or where our campground was. We felt crazy and slightly embarrassed.

“What if this is how we die?” I remember joking but not.

We found our way out as the sun began to set. We went fishing at a little pond about 100 feet downhill from where our tent was. We caught small sunfish most of the day and finally gave up on catching the big ones. We walked back to our tent as the sun set. I don’t really remember what we ate for dinner or anything like that. I do remember one thing….

We were so bored. I mean the bored that sent you into crazy fits. I remember at one point we were gathered around the fire as the pink sky faded into night. It was quiet except for the buzzing of insects and the croaking of frogs. Orange and black alternated around the foliage near the fire. I remember looking up at Ben, as he carved something out of a large branch, and thinking about how much he looks primal. It was all so very primal. I too was carving wood; a wooden shiv because what do you do with empty time.

We grunted and laughed every once in a while. We eventually found out that we each had been creating shivs; his more brilliantly crafted than mine, I admit.

END OF PART 1

 

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Adventure Time!

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Hey Gang!

It has been entirely too long! I will not let this happen again. I have been writing a conference paper about postmodernism and jay-z which I hope turns out well. However, I have yearned to write which only reinforces how much I truly love writing and in an environment with every one of you that are so talented and creative. Thanks for being you and deciding to read everything I have written. Truly humbled, thanks!

***

It’s like that visceral tin taste in your mouth when someone asks if you have ever tasted a penny.

No.

It’s like when someone asks you what you did last week.

Yes.

You recall the week itself. The highs, the lows, and the mundane. You remember you laughed incredibly hard from a friend’s joke but you remember pouring a bowl of cereal for yourself in the morning. The sadness of unwanted news and the neutrality of tying your shoes. Yet, what is it that you recall?

Those spike. Those spikes in the midst of everything that imprint on your life. Emotion bleeds through everything. A raking scar of a memory. You sense it. It is palpable. Then it begins to leave. It begins to fade away. It becomes amorphous. The substance is there, that central message, but the structure is gone.

That penny taste. It lingers.

I say all of this because I recently had that feeling of a memory that was so paramount in my life until it drifted. It came back with a vengeance and I could not be happier.

My mother used to appease me when I was younger. As I have said before, we were not very well off. Feast or famine was quite regular. However, I never found it to be that way. 

On the way home from school each day, my mother would allow my six-year-old self to navigate our way home. Often we would get lost but I remember what she would say whenever I got us lost.

“Don’t worry, Chrissy. It’s just another adventure,” she’d say.

It’s funny to think about it now. I don’t even think she knows I remember that kind of stuff. So small. In a life so full of moments, how amazing is it that we are able to remember anything in particular.

I recall one time we were unable to afford heat for a week or so. So, we bought a couple blow-up mattresses and slept in the front room. We had this old, metal electric fireplace that we put right in front of us and turned it on. I remember how cold it was. Outside of those three comforters was what felt like subarctic temperatures. I remember laying on my side and my mother making me laugh which made me grow warmer.

“It’s like camping, kiddo,” my mother said. “Just another adventure.”

What is funny is that I do not have heat at my new apartment but, off in the corner of my room, I have a small electric fireplace that makes me feel warm and a little more at home.

These things that should have been terrible were more like sailing on an ocean. You knew that the storms caused the boat to rock but they would eventually subside.

When I was at my lowest just a year ago, I was laying on the ground, wallowing in my own sorrow. I voiced how scared I was about the future. About the past. About the now. About everything.

“What do we say?”

I did not want to hear it. I stayed silent.

“What do we say?”

“Who knows, we say a lot,” I said with too much resentment.

“It’s just another adventure,” she said, having paid no mind to my projected attitude.

Funny thing, it subsided. I got up figuratively and literally.

Just a week ago, I contemplated why i was doing all of this. I had no life. My friends were moving on and I was here learning about the fragmentation of the subject.

What the hell was I doing here?

Then, somewhere, deep down, I hear a voice. Not my mother’s but my own. It came from somewhere other. Some time other. Some time ago.

“What do we say?”

 

-Chris

 

*You’re the best, Linda*

 

 

 
 

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The Shark and The Coin

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Hey Gang!

Well, This week has been pretty epic. Just finished my first short story and sending it around to friends to be edited and critiqued. Hopefully I can get that sent off to literary magazines in the coming months. So far I have gotten great responses but there are a lot of really great writers out there so we will just have to see! Fingers crossed, right?

This has always been a dream of mine really. To be a writer. Although I have been published, it has been in a journalistic fashion, not creative writing. I am so happy to have been freshly pressed, if not, I believe I would have never met and been inspired by those individuals who comment on here and share their stories as well. However, I am an individual who enjoys tangibility. I want to one day pick up a literary magazine, open it up to the table of contents and see a title of a story nestled just above my name. It’s something that would be amazing. I would always remember the weight of that magazine, the feel of it, the volume number and date, the photo on the front and every minute detail because it is the casing of an embodied dream.

There is this industry term called Jumping The Shark. Most people are familiar with the saying but I feel like it has such a negative connotation. It’s origins are from an episode of the TV show “Happy Days”. It was an episode where The Fonz puts on skis and literally jumps a ramp over a shark, and I think he even gave a thumbs up and said his signature “Ayyyy” in mid-air but I can’t quite remember. I saw that episode as a kid and to the critics and most television viewers, it signaled the end of the series. That was the episode where people believed the writers had run out of ideas.

I admit it is a ridiculous episode but I like the overall idea of what happened. I took it as my own, really; I used jumping the shark in other terms.   I think it is the idea that we have to break the monotony, our own “Hail Mary”. I think of it as a way of living in a state of understanding that the way things are can be changed by doing something amazingly drastic. I won’t be jumping a shark anytime soon but I do break the monotony in life. Those lulls where it can get boring, I try and spice it up. In high school I took a nice long road trip down the entire eastern side of Missouri. It took two days but it was fun. I got in massive amounts of trouble from my mother but I went with my best friend and we still talk about it.

In the fashion of that road trip, I decided to do multiple things to get me here, in this seat, typing this blog. I remember the part in “No Country For Old Men” where Javier Bardem is in the gas station and he gives his creepy diatribe about the coin. How it traveled 22 years to make it right there in front of the man. His life plotted out on either side of the coin. It’s a tense moment but poignant. I only say this because those decisions, no matter how crazy, led to here and now. I took that mall cop job, I went to college and grad school on a whim. I switched to journalism from pre-law because I wanted to write a review of a new album at the time by The Shins.

Now, I put my skis on to jump another shark. Maybe a whole line of them. I am going to teach a 100 level class in the fall and then next summer I will be taking a big leap off of a long ramp. One of my best friends is in the Army and he is being stationed in Japan. I have always wanted to backpack around a country and, while he and I have plans to do so in Europe in a few years, I feel like I needed to do something on my own. That’s why I have decided to go there next summer and backpack around Japan for a week or two. I figure it will be the break between semesters and it will be the perfect time to just breathe. I have gotten my hands on Rosetta Stone and am going to actively learn that language.

Jumping The Shark. Maybe that isn’t the right phrase. I wrote this with an idea but the more I think about it the more I believe maybe I was wrong. Maybe these aren’t about taking leaps to break the monotony. I wonder about this because of that coin in “No Country For Old Men”. It’s about destiny and our grasp on it, isn’t it? I spoke of tangibility with my writing and now I think that’s what these “jumping the shark” moments really are for me. In the show it was a surreal moment that was an attempt to make the show more exciting and it failed. I believe it was because they lost sight of what the show was about and the anchor that held it in place. They lost that tangibility and familiarity of the show’s origins.

I realize now that all of these things have made me a bit closer to me. I push myself into these instances that really test who you are. But what about that coin? It was Bardem who chose the diverting realities on each side of the coin. When the man won, Bardem said that it was his now and not to mix it with the other coins because then it would just be a coin. What about that lifeless coin?

I suppose we are all born with coins. We may give them meaning on each side but we are not at their mercy. We know what we really want when we flip the coin, giving different value to each side, and when it lands, we are either happy or we feel lament. That lament can be an amazing thing because you know you have lost what you truly wanted in that flip of the proverbial coin. So, with each flip, it guides us, guides me. I will be in Japan as of what my coin says today but that is a year from now and, hopefully, many exciting coin flips away.

-Chris

 
 

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