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The last couple of months have been filled with rock stars, strippers, drugs, girls and way too much alcohol. Cool, right? Late nights and lots of confusing mornings… If being backstage has taught me anything it's that I am completely out of my element.

It's 6:30 pm as I'm wiping the drool off my face and fumbling around the nightstand for my glasses. I laughed and shook my head, instantly followed by a long swallow and a groan- I could feel my brain still sloshing in last night's bourbon. I submitted back to my pillow and continued to chuckle. "What the fuck am I doing…" I muttered as Cassidy hopped into bed, realizing I've finally come to. Her brown eyes told me everything I already knew, and I hated her for it.

I pulled her close and we hid from the cold under the blankets. Her warmth angered me, why hadn't she been here the entire time? The sun had already set and the outside world was muffled under newly fallen snow. She began to nibble my fingers as my other hand caressed her back. The painstaking silence was broken with Slash, who seemed to be turned up to 11, shred my ringtone.

"Jumpy, are we?" I said to Cassidy as I reached across her to answer the phone.

"What it do!?" I greeted the caller who had also been a cohort from the night before.

"Dude, you're the biggest pimp I know!" His voice was crackly but managed to show some amount of enthusiasm. "So, how'd go last night, playa?!"

Cassidy didn't take her eyes off me as I let out a long "goooood…"

"Shit, man. I'm so hungover. I've been puking all day." He sourly admitted.

"Yeah, I just woke up. Feeling a little fuzzy…" Cassidy had weaseled her way out of the covers and let out a whine, thinking I was finally getting up for the day.

"So what's the deal, man? Did you take that chick home? She was all over you at the bar!" He already knew the answer, he just wanted to hear it from me.

"Yeah… I'm a pussy though, I didn't do anything… I think I'm gay, haha!" I paused for several moments, giving the statement way too much thought. "Kept it old fashion, we just cuddled."

"Nice. Always leave them wanting more…" I could tell he was disappointed, not the story he was hoping for. "Well, whatever you're doing is working. Pussy or not, you've got more chicks then anyone I know!"

"Wha…?" I said, completely confused by his statement.

"Yeah, man. You've got a different girl every time we go out! How many numbers did you get last night?" He was being completely sincere which further confused me.

"They're just friends, man. It's not like anything ever happens." I quickly tried to repiece last night's debacle and reached into my pocket, still wearing my jeans. Sure enough, two cards. I tossed them on my desk. "I don't know, a couple I think. They just gave them to me..."

"See, that's what I'm talking about! Pimp." We both laughed.

We continued to banter back and forth until Cassidy grew impatient with our conversation. She kept nosing me, she must have had to piss as bad as I did. I pulled myself out of bed and stumbled to the back door, the air took both our breath away. She hesitated a few minutes before mustering enough courage to put her paws in the snow. "Sucks to be you!" I said as I shut the door behind her and headed to the bathroom.

The conversation lingered with me throughout the rest of the evening. I'm not a pimp. I'm anything but… He was right though, there have been a lot more girls sniffing around then usual. It's not like I've suddenly become hot, what am I doing different? I couldn't pin point one thing other then my lack of caring has somehow been confused as confidence. I honestly could careless about having sex, last night was proof of that. Maybe girls can pick up on that and they feel comfortable around me? Like, they don't have to "worry" about being hit on? Or maybe they see it as a challenge, that they will be the one to "break" me? I'm certain it's the first one, if anything at all, but I find it pretty odd.

It's not that I don't like sex, because I do. Any girlfriend I've ever had knows I have a healthy sex drive, maybe to the point of annoyance. That's just it though, any enjoyable sex I've ever had has been with someone who has meant something to me. The "random encounters" just can't live up. It's takes a certain comfort level before you can truly enjoy the moment. If that hasn't been achieved with someone, why force it simply to spill some fluids? After all, I can do that on my own...

The arrogance in this rant has made me sick as well, but bear with me. I am not Leon Phelps. I am the anti Phelps, which has apparently given me an edge. I am not ruled by the vag and in most cases I don't even think about it. In conventional warfare, most women don't know how to react to this. They're certainly not interested in my striking good looks or the car I drive. However, something needs to be said about a genuine conversation, eye contact, and a few smiles. I usually leave it at that and walk away. What a mind fuck. They're left standing there in disbelief.

There are thousands of reasons for why I walk away and almost every single time it has absolutely nothing to do with the person I was talking to. I've been able to talk myself out of feeling anything for someone for so long that I've lost all ability to take things to the next level. As sad as it is, my phobia of anything beyond casual conversation may have sabotaged potentially one of the greatest relationships of my life… But then again, maybe I'll surprise everyone and "sell my car and go to Vegas. 'Cause somebody told me, that's where dreams would be…".

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Recently I decided that I needed to take a sobering look at my life. In an effort to figure out why I've constructed an impenetrable barrier of genuine feeling, I cleared my mind and went exploring. I thought about my past and how every decision I've made in life has lead up to this exact moment of contemplation. I thought about the future and how completely selfish I am. The next several years seemed to have no consideration of family, friends, or the inkling of a significant woman. That disgusted me. My stomach went into knots and I realized I might be worse off then I thought.

That's when my phone rang and Slash started shredding the solo to Paradise City as my ringtone. All the self-deprivating thoughts I was having prior to the ringer completely melted away as my mind was flooded with sights and sounds of Guns N' Roses. My imagination ran wild as the band rocked sold out arena shows and Slash pounded Jack from a brown bag while sitting on a dark Hollywood sidewalk. I didn't feel bad about myself anymore, I wasn't even thinking about myself anymore. The montage of Guns N' Roses continued until the room became silent, the phone stopped ringing. Suddenly the pit in my stomach didn't ache, the thought of being alone didn't scare me, and the realization of me being a selfish prick didn't bother me as much.

Fantasy is my cocaine. One little dose of alternate reality can make anything in this world good and it transcends into every portion of my life. Pop culture is my Dr. Feelgood who's constantly hooking me up with movies, television, books, blogs, videogames, and music to mentally take me away from my existence. Every aspect of my day is in an effort to leave behind the world I've created for myself, subconsciously or not.

The thought will be completed soon. Well, as soon as I stop daydreaming...

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A tear gently ran down Schuyella's cheek as she packed away the last of her memories.  The box was overflowing with backstage passes, tour t-shirts, and seemingly insignificant keepsakes that encompassed her life.

"It all just fits in a box... All of it.  My entire life..."  Schuyella used the sleeve of her hoodie to wipe her nose.  "Mom.  Mom!  I'm all packed."

"Schuyella, do you really need to take all of that with you?  You know your father's house is so tiny."

“Ugh, Mom...  Of course I need it all.  It's MY LIFE..." No one seemed to understand Schuyella, the least of all her parents.  They were good people and cared for young Schuyella the best they could, but the divorce caused damaged.  She hurt in a way that was poetic- wearing thrift store jackets that set her apart from normal kids who didn't hurt, spending time alone thinking deep thoughts, and a casual roll of the eyes or a sigh to let everyone know she wasn't satisfied.

"Fine, Ella.  Give your stepfather a hand and take this stuff down to the car."  Schuyella gladly agreed.  It was the last step before she started her new life.

The Pacific Northwest was a far departure from her rugged desert lifestyle but young Schuyella felt at home in the cool, damp mist.  The dark clouds seemed to emulate they way she felt on the inside. 

Schuyella’s new life began as abruptly as she’d arrived and she started school the next morning.  Wearing her favorite ironic hoodie and filling her ears with white molded plastic, she drowned out the world with hipster emo tunes that gave her the piece of mind that someone, somewhere in the world was just as misunderstood as she was.

Sitting at a lunch table alone, gazing out the window into the deep pale green forest, a subtle “excuse me” penetrated her sadness wall.  Startled, Ella ripped the earbuds from her head and addressed the stranger.

"What?  ...I mean, can I help you?"  Schuyella was caught off guard and annoyed by the interruption but some how it didn't matter once she set her sights on the strange character’s face.

"I could smell you from across the room..."   The young man said, slowly looking away.

"Huh?  Is that some sort of pickup line?  I don't smell…"  Schuyella completely confused by the young man but was instinctively transfixed.

"There, from across the room, I could smell you.  I don't even know why I'm telling you this, you'd never understand."  Suddenly his eyes flash green and he turned and walked away.  Gone as quickly as he had appeared.

"Hey, wait!"  Ella shouted.  It was too late, the cafeteria door slammed shut.

Gaining the attention of surrounding tables, Ella sunk back in her chair and tried to figure out which earbud went into which ear.  “Those L’s and R’s are so tiny…” she thought to herself.  One more annoyance in such a troubling world.

“So, I see you’ve met Briward” a friendly but unfamiliar face said as she sat down across the table.  “He’s dreamy, isn’t he?  …Don’t even think about it though.  He’s… different.”

“What do you mean, ‘different’?”  Ella normally would have thought such a straightforward conversation with a stranger would have been awkward, but her curiosity surrounding Briward gave her an unfamiliar confidence.

“He’s apart of the Culligan family, they adopted him when he was young.  They’re a like the Partridge Family, only darker…”

“Like musicians?  I’m a musician, played the guitar for years but recently picked up the bass,” Schuyella said while hiding behind her bangs.

“No, Schuyella.  Not just normal musicians.  I warned you, stay away from Briward.  Just trust me…”  The young girl’s lips tightened and eyebrows dropped, she was deadly serious.

“How do you know my name?”

“Everyone knows you, Schuyella.  You’re the new flavor of the week.”  The young girl smiled but her jealously shined through.  “I hope we have a class together, next time have lunch with us so you don’t have to sit by yourself.”  The girl motioned to her table of friends while standing up.

“Sometimes I prefer to be alone, but thank you…” Schuyella let her gaze return to the forest where she lost herself once more.  What did the girl mean about Briward being different?  Why did she tell her to stay away from him?  As the questions mounted Ella’s eyes became fixed on a large tree.  The tree towered above the rest and green moss rose high into the mist.  Briward suddenly emerged from behind the base and motioned for Schuyella to come out and meet him.

Schuyella rubbed her eyes.  Realizing it wasn’t a dream she quickly gather her books and hit the exit.  Briward was on the other side of the door waiting to greet her.

“How did you get over here so fast?” Schuyella said.

“There’s things about me, Ella, things you wouldn’t understand…” Briward said, again slowly looking away avoiding eye contact.

“Talk to me, Briward.  Make me understand…”  Ella pleaded.

“Schuyella, do you like music?”  Briward’s eyes met Ella’s and penetrated into her subconscious.

Breathless, Ella replied “I, I love it… It’s my life.”

“Make music with me.  Make my creative juices flow, Ella.”  Briward never blinked and his eyes glowed a bright green.  Schuyella took a long hard swallow and nodded her head.  “Here, give me your hand,” Briward reached for Schuyella.  She gently placed her hand in his.  Chills ran down Schuyella’s spine and her knees became weak.  Suddenly Briward flipped Schuyella onto his back and he began to run.  Faster and faster they raced through the forest until they became a blur.  Bounding over ravines and leaping from tree to tree, Briward made his way to the most secluded part of the forest.

The two made their way into a clearing where Briward had an expansive stage set up.  Full lighting, blasting speakers, and every instrument imaginable.  Schuyella was mesmerized.

“Ella, let’s rock.”  Briward picked up a guitar and let out a wailing riff.  Schuyella, proud of her new found bass skills, plugged in and rocked a spine shaking rhythm.  The two rocked the forest for hours, exchanging glances and face melting solos.

Suddenly, Briward’s guitar became silent and he became very still.  “Ella, stop your amazing rocking!” he shouted.  In an instant a blur came rushing through the field and jumped onto the stage.

“Well, well, well.  What do we have here, Briward?  A mortal?”  The strange creature bellowed.

“Easy, James.  We’re just here to rock.  Maybe melt a few faces…”  Briward negotiated.

Ignoring Briward, James began to circle Schuyella.  “What is that smell?” he said as he brushed back the hair from her face.

“Stay away from-“ Briward started to say before Ella interrupted with “Okay, that’s it.  What the fuck is wrong with you two freaks?  I took a friggin’ shower this morning.  Jimmy, you smell like a donkey’s nut sack.  Brian, take those ridiculous green contacts out.  I’m done.  No more Twinkle, no more Schuyella, no more long gazing into Brian’s eyes!”

“What are you doing, Sky?!  You can’t break character.  We’re in the middle of a scene!”  Brian’s voice was shaking with anger.

“Sean, stop fucking narrating.  ‘Brian’s voice was shaking with anger…’ what the hell is that?  You think you’re fucking Steven King or something?”  Schulyer lashed out.  Sean began to think that the Twinkle thing may have been a bad idea himself.

“Schuyler, you do look beautiful though.  You make a hot woman…”  -Sean

“That’s it.  We’re done here.  Jimmy, you ever fuckin’ brush my hair back like that again and I’ll punch you in the nuts.” –Schuyler

“Hahaha, you’re the Hugh Grant of storytelling.” –Jimmy

“What?  What the hell does that even mean?” -Schuyler

“Did you just say he was the Hugh Grant of storytelling? Hahaha” –Brian

“Hahaha” –Sean

“Hahaha, alright douche bags- let’s play a song.  Jimmy, Brian, Sean…  Welcome back.” -Schuyler

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The façade of my vociferous "happily single" column onslaught can no longer be kept up. That really bums me out. It has nothing to do with putting my foot in my mouth or the painstaking conversations that will ensue once a certain few get their hands on this confession. No, the lies can no longer continue because an amazing woman has crept under my skin. "Under my skin" is such a disgusting and horribly visual phrase. Like a splinter starting to fester, turning red as it swells. That exactly is how it figuratively feels. That's right, I just said exactly and figuratively in the same breath.

"You know what I mean though" as I scratch my head and start to back-peddle. I had just finished explaining to one of my many "relationship experts" how I've finally found someone who has everything I want in a girl but that I just don't want it right now.

She looks at me like a disappointed mother, "what's wrong with you?" Her eyes were piercing and the question was so simple and direct.

I took a deep breath, my mind raced with thousands of brush-off answers until 'fuck it' popped into my head. I stalled for several more moments, looked her right in the eye and said, "I'm scared…"

<

"Sean, I've never taken you for a liar but that's one of most honest things you've ever told me…" The disappointment disappearing from her face was followed by intrigue that my pea-sized heart might actually be beating. "This girl is good for you," she continued.

"Yeah, as good as a hole in the head." I've always had a way with ruining moments.

The fear of the past, while still ever present in my mind is greatly overshadowed by my fear of the future. Things are good. Yesterday was good, today wasn't bad and I'm sure tomorrow will be fine. I love that. Life is stable, controllable and running fairly smoothly. Allowing someone to become close to me could seriously screw that up. I mean, for all intensive purposes, life has taught me that things will eventually become messed up. I'm not necessarily saying that the girl who gives me the warm-fuzzies will be the one who fucks it up. I'm pretty sure I can handle that on my own. That scares me the most- I don't want hurt her. Not now, not ever.

I try to look at things as objectively as possible and I realize how pessimistic that sounds. What else do I have to go off of though? The formula I've concocted to achieve life's goals over the next several years is an extremely selfish one. There's never been a thought of someone else in my plan and I'm struggling to figure out how to incorporate that.

"Woah, slow down, Sean." I keep telling myself. "You're not even with this girl and you're talking about 'life plans'." However, this is a declaration of honesty and it is something that honestly needs pondering. I'd hate to sabotage something before it begins. Scratch that, I refuse to sabotage something before it begins. If I'm going to allow this constant festering to grow into a full-fledged infection then I need to be prepared for the sickness. Too bad love isn't something that a dab of ointment and a few days rest can cure.

As it stands at the moment, I am certainly not "happily single". I am horribly confused, brain beaten, stomach twisted and trembling with excitement as I write this. Though a splinter is the perfect analogy for what I'm going through, it's a horrible representation of what she means to me. I'll work on that. Along with allowing my mind to wrap around the concept of someone becoming significant to me. And me, possibly, becoming significant to them….

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I have a picture hanging on my bedroom wall of a beautifully discontent woman. The LA skyline is in the background, black and white. The woman’s tank top is white and her hair is black, rich sun-kissed skin glowing. Her eyes are closed but if she were to open them she’d be looking at her shoes. Her posture, however, is what ties this picture together. She’s confident. Her shoulders, cheeks and lips have not been defeated. Her head is heavy but her spirit is on fire.

I find myself thinking about her, usually before I fall asleep. I lie there and wonder what went through her mind 3.7 seconds before the picture was taken. 3.7 seconds is the amount of time I’ve decided it would take to position herself in such a way once this particular thought crossed her mind. People rarely carry themselves with this subtle indestructible confidence- and then her head lowers. It’s like she filled her lungs with that smog soaked air and is about to take the first step into her newfound realization.

I have the timing down but I can’t figure out what’s running through her mind. I’m afraid if I did, the picture would become meaningless to me. The mystery and my interpretation is all that matters. The truth would shatter that along with the 3.7 seconds of perfection leading up to the click of the shutter. Is that what I want though, the bliss of my imagination?

As the last few paragraphs have proven, I have the ability to build things up beyond their straightforward impressions. Given the right circumstances I can completely disconnect from reality altogether. That somewhat worries me. How many times have I been wrong? I’ve stepped back for several seconds, taken a breath of sweet mountain air and marched on into my perception- possibly not reality at all.

I’ve found it hard to stay grounded lately, especially when I’m left alone with my thoughts….

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