Sunday, August 28, 2016

Writing Difficulties

You'll get over it. This always passes. You've thought you've lost the knack before, but it came back. It always comes back. Don't worry. Be patient.

That's what everyone says to me. It's what I say to myself when I'm too depressed to write. Nothing hurts worse than to be out of touch with one's muse. There are columns to write and the remaining twenty percent of a short story to finish. It's a good one, which is why it hurts to set it aside from this long. Even putting down these few words is trying. It shouldn't be this hard to communicate with the world. When I'm healthy, words flow easily from my brain to my fingers, as if guided by unseen forces.

I have fifteen sessions remaining of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, for short. The process only lasts for twenty minutes, but I have to go every day, Monday-Friday. Tomorrow I begin another week. Three more to go. And in the meantime, I'm beginning to learn the habits and the demographics of Uber drivers. I've learned the midday traffic patterns of southern Maryland. Sometimes I chat informally with the driver who takes me from office to transit rail and back. Sometimes I am too tired from the depression and the aftereffects of the treatment to want to talk to anyone.

This much is true. I have always hated hot weather and despised summertime. When I was younger, my unrequited hate was due to the fact that I find the temperature and humidity intolerable. Now, I hate it for a different reason. I am almost always depressed in the summer months. August is about to subside and I wish it good riddance. Now it's time to get my life back. But I'm not quite there yet.

Be patient with me. If it were my call to make, I wouldn't have had to take this respite from productivity. An underlying condition may be sapping my strength and compromising my energy in a different way. I see a doctor on Tuesday. I don't like being this dependent on medicine and doctors and never have.

Quote of the Week

“I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down. I’m very proud of this team,” she said. “But I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today. I strongly believe that.”- Hope Solo

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday Video

Everybody plays a game,
We don't have to save a name,
Every day come sun array,
I say good's just playing for safe.

I don't have to say no more,
You've got more time waiting for,
Don't care if I break the law,
I want more and more and more.

Everybody plays a game,
Voice inscription play for safe,
You've got more time waiting for,
I want more and more and more and more

And more and more and more and more
And more and more and more and more
And more and more and more and more
And more and more and more and more

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Quote of the Week

"I therefore think that I was right in trying from the outset of the Olympic revival to rekindle a religious awareness."-Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday Video

Do you not hear me anymore
I know it's not your thing to care
I know it's cool to be so bored
I sucks me in
When you're aloof

It sucks me in, it sucks it works
I guess it's cool to be alone

Will you never rest
Fighting the battle of who could care less
Everyday you wake up late
Sometimes I wish I was
That way

And you think Rockford Files is cool
But there are some things
That you would change
If it were up to you

So think about your masterpiece (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Watch the Rockford Files
And call to see if Paul can score some weed.

Do you never rest
Fighting the battle of who could care less
Unearned unhappiness
That's all right, I guess

I've got this great idea
Why don't we pitch it to the Franklin Fucking Mint
Fine pewter portraits of
General apathy and major boredom singing
Whatever and ever Amen

Oh well maybe not I'll try again
This should cheer you up for sure
See I've got your old I.D.
And you're all dressed up like the Cure

You never rest
Fighting the battle
Of who could care less
Unearned unhappiness

You're my hero I confess

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Virginia Trip Pictures


Click the picture to access the full collection

Monday, August 15, 2016


This upcoming vacation will be more like a Staycation, but I'll enjoy the time off. See you next week.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Quote of the Week

"I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love's not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I'll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time."-Sylvia Plath

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday Video

Never was a cornflake girl
Thought that was a good solution
Hangin' with the raisin' girls
She's gone to the other side

Givin' us a yo heave ho
Things are getting kind of gross
And I go at sleepy time

This is not really happening
You bet your life it is
You bet your life it is
You bet your life it's

Peel out the watchword
Just peel out the watchword

She knows what's going on
Seems we got a cheaper feel now
All the sweeteaze are gone
Gone to the other side

With my encyclopedia
They musta paid her a nice price
She's puttin' on her string bean love

This is not really happening
You bet your life it is
You bet your life it is
You bet your life it's

Peel out the watchword
Just peel out the watchword

Never was a cornflake girl
Thought that was a good solution

Rabbit, where'd you put the keys, girl?
Rabbit, where'd you put the keys, girl?
Rabbit, where'd you put the keys?
Rabbit, where'd you put the keys?
Where'd you put the keys, girl?

And the Man With The Golden Gun
Thinks he knows so much
Thinks he knows so much, yeah
And the Man With The Golden Gun
Thinks he knows so much
Thinks he knows so much, yeah

Rabbit, where'd you put the keys, girl?
Rabbit, where'd you put the keys, girl?
Rabbit, where'd you put the keys?
Rabbit, where'd you put the keys, girl?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Nanny State, One Driver at a Time

I’m not the sort of person who actively worries about the growing encroachment of government. Some of my friends and associates have Libertarian leanings, and I respect their views, though I don’t usually fret about such things the way they do. Most of the time I am far more fearful of unregulated capitalism, of corporate hegemony, of the inherent flaws and corruption in private enterprise and big business. Those are my regular bogeymen, but I must say that I now understand a little better why some are fearful of a mindset they fear is on the rise.

Today I renewed my driver’s license in the District of Columbia, where I reside. Seven years ago, the process was much easier and straightforward. I provided the clerk my active Alabama license, the state where I had lived before, which was promptly shredded right before my eyes. After providing basic personal information, like height, weight, eye color, and hair color, a new picture was taken and I was issued a temporary DC license. A couple of weeks later, the new one arrived in the mail. I’ve had it until very recently, until I recognized it was time to re-certify.

Going to the DMV is one of those adult responsibilities than everyone hates, but must endure. Little did I know how difficult the process would be. I had to provide no less than five separate forms of identification. My canary yellow-colored birth certificate came first, then my ancient Social Security card, a card that I had signed with pride in fourth grade and had partially bleached red when it ended up taking a swim in a washing machine. It is in dire need of replacement.

Following that, I had to share two additional pieces of information, both of them required in order to prove my residency. One of them was an recent bank statement dated within sixty days of that precise moment in time, that being today. The other was an active saving account statement that followed the same parameters. In truth, I could have chosen two of fifteen different options, but these were the easiest to find.

If I lacked any one of these five crucial documents, my application would not have been processed and I could not have received a new driver’s license.

The reason for these changes were said to be for security reasons. I have no doubt that the additional documentation made someone or some group of people less fearful and less afraid. The new requirements resembled a mini-background check for a government job, but it was also an opportunity to pacify skittish government officials and frightened citizens. It was many things rolled up in one. The process put in force a more efficient, structured system of documentation might conceivably help identify the next radicalized terrorist or crime network. Someone must have felt that demanding additional documentation like this might be worth the increased government vigilance and the added headache it caused every citizen.

But this is not all. Attention to detail like this restricts undocumented immigrants from lots of privileges: legally driving, registering to vote, voting in elections that require IDs to be provided before casting ballots, establishing formal residency in the District, and a variety of other basic rights granted to citizens. The logic of these new measures forces District residents to prove that they belong there: they work, pay taxes into the system, and are in the United States legally.

And there were a few other new and interesting wrinkles to the process. People with insulin-dependent diabetes and glaucoma were required to specify on their re-certification forms the nature and existence of their health condition. If any driver felt that he or she had limiting factors impeding his or her driving ability, these had to be noted on the form as well. The most novel new reform specifically targeted elderly drivers. Any driver aged seventy or older now must be checked out by a doctor and officially signed off on before he or she is allowed to get behind the wheel. Reforms like these have been debated for years. DC seems to have taken the plunge.

I left the DMV $47 lighter in the wallet, with an obligatory awful license picture, and full of unexpected reservations. Do any of these new restrictions really make us safer? For once, I’d like to have a political leader who would address immigration reform effectively, with some definitive, dignified answer. Instead, some leaders have decided to take a more punitive, more paternalistic approach.

Aside from that, I can only say, as I have said many times before, that we are living in an age of terrorism. Eventually terrorist tactics will prove ineffective and those who seek to harm and maim will pursue other strategies. I wish I felt more at ease with myself and the world around me, but I’ve always felt afraid of some unknown force out there.

That may be a very human affliction. The only thing that’s ever really changed is the word or term we’ve used for nerves and fears. Politicians and leaders prey upon our insecurities, as they are such an easy target. Yet somewhere the voice of sanity can be heard, and if we listen hard enough, we can be won over to a world not dominated by fear, not punctuated by constant anxiety and existential angst. This is our challenge.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Making Progress

Most of my writing this week will center on composing short stories. I've made progress on one of them and hope to complete a full draft by the end of the week. Fiction writers are much more marketable if they offer a collection of stories at one go, not just one at a time. I'm in the process of acquiring an editor to make the process easier. I'll post regular updates about my progress.

Until then...

Monday, August 08, 2016

The End of Snobbery

Six years ago.

I'm working at a PAC for a liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Our offices are located at Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. It's a part of town that started out nice, deteriorated over time, became a gay ghetto, and now has entirely re-gentrified. It's not far from my apartment. Depending on how I'm feeling, I've been known to walk it in one go.

Today I've been doing research on potential donors. When I'm done with that task, I'll begin the formal process of publicizing our slate of endorsed candidates this election cycle. Everything will go up live on our website. Once I'm done for the day, I walk five minutes towards downtown from the office. A feminist website has scheduled a happy hour for anyone who might want to attend.

Upon arrival at the bar, I realize I'm the only man in attendance. I'm not surprised. Part of being an male ally means that I anticipate being outnumbered from the moment I walk in the door. It would be nice to see more men in attendance, but that's a complicated issue that would take a separate post for me to even begin to explain. I'm also one of the oldest in attendance, which doesn't surprise me, either.

Several college-aged women's studies students have turned out for this event, too. They represent a cross-section of the city's many major universities. These young women are enthusiastic and full of energy in the ways only nineteen-year-olds on their own for the first time in a big city feel. Even though I stayed at home for undergrad, I haven't forgotten what it feels like to be free from parents and more or less in control of major life decisions.

What bothers me is the way the two feminist leaders, both regular written contributors to the website, respond to their adoring audience. They act as though they'd rather be anywhere but here. They do not engage with the other women they've expressly called together. Surprisingly, I have an unexpected degree of renown among the daily readership. I've gotten engaged in the cause and have been offering, for free, a wide variety of different essays and creative pieces to the Community section.

Once I introduce myself, I recognize I am not a stranger at all. Are you an editor? I'm asked this on more than one occasion by more than one student because I leave frequent comments and post on a regular basis. I can see how a person might form this conclusion, but I quickly deny it.

If offered the position of an editor, I'm not sure I'd accept. This is a website and a platform designed explicitly to raise women's voices. Men have had their say for a long time. But if achieving a fan base was my intention, I've surely succeeded there. I've been at the height of my creative powers. Movie reviews, book reviews, first person essays, biographical sketches. Everything works.

Like so many writers, I'm very shy in person. I confess that I'm nervous. It's suggested that, for that reason, I order a drink, but I don't partake. In addition to interacting badly with medications, I don't drink for religious reasons. And, there's a secret reason I rarely mention. Writers are often disproportionately inclined to be alcoholics. The work we do is insular and private. It requires enormous discipline and very little face-to-face time.

I engage one of the real editors in conversation. She doesn't smile. Instead she stands next to a second editor who doesn't appear to be an especially very warm individual, either. They both possess an abrasive hipper-than-thou attitude that the college students are too busy making merry to observe. I have no such illusions. If I was an editor, I'd take care to work the room, making my way through the crowd, shaking hands, and trying to make everyone feel at home. But this is not my event and I don't get to set the terms.

Gesticulating to the huge crowd of attenders crammed into a tiny room, one editor points out the obvious. They know you, one says. This is undeniably true. It is also true that she doesn't really want to speak to me. Both of the editors act as though this obligation is beneath them. Their attitude is snobbish and standoffish. They do not engage with the young students who are desperate to know them, to grab hold of them somehow and have that success rub off on them. That ends up being my job, a task I perform because I believe their dreams should be nurtured and not summarily cast aside or ignored.

What I am seeing is not feminism as I understand it. That is a belief system based on integrity, equality, and fairness. In the hands of those who want to feather their own nest and boost their own profile, I see smug hipsters and professional skeptics. If this is someday my fate, I vow to never forget where I came from, to answer every question from every awestruck undergraduate. Midway through my conversation with one jaded editor, she rudely pushes me aside to talk to someone else she'd much rather address than me.

In time, I will discover that these two feminist leaders were miserable living in the city. Within months, both will move elsewhere and find comfort elsewhere. I will remain, finding DC life mostly to my satisfaction. Life here is not for everyone, but I closely control the people with whom I must interact. Otherwise, the dynamics and leadership of the site change with time. A new generation has control. They are much kinder people. I'm thankful for the change.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Quote of the Week

"The basic discovery about any people is the discovery of the relationship between its men and its women."- Pearl Buck

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Saturday Video

Is it getting better, or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you, now you got someone to blame?
You say one love, one life, when it's one need in the night.
One love, we get to share it
Leaves you baby if you don't care for it.

Did I disappoint you or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love and you want me to go without.
Well, it's too late tonight to drag the past out into the light.
We're one, but we're not the same.
We get to carry each other, carry each other... one

Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?
Did I ask too much, more than a lot
You gave me nothing, now it's all I got.
We're one, but we're not the same.
Well, we hurt each other, then we do it again.

You say love is a temple, love a higher law
Love is a temple, love the higher law.
You ask me to enter, but then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on to what you got, when all you got is hurt.

One love, one blood, one life, you got to do what you should.
One life with each other: sisters, brothers.
One life, but we're not the same.
We get to carry each other, carry each other.
One, one.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Tyranny of Structurlessness, An Excerpt


This work was originally published by the second-wave, radical feminist Jo Freeman in the early 1970's. Though it address the subject through a feminist lens, it does show what happens when anarchy is embraced through movements and even small gatherings.

The full article is here, but I'll pick and choose some segments that may prove to be food for thought. You may be surprised if you find elements of yourself in this essay. I recognized many such traits in myself, and the effect was not always comforting. Still, we need to be aware of the patterns and fallacies we can fall into, in spite of our own best intentions. There is far too much here for one sitting, but perhaps these segments will be instructive for you.

Elitism in Structures
Correctly, an elite refers to a small group of people who have power over a larger group of which they are part, usually without direct responsibility to that larger group, and often without their knowledge or consent. A person becomes an elitist by being part of, or advocating the rule by, such a small group, whether or not that individual is well known or not known at all. 
Elites are not conspiracies. Very seldom does a small group of people get together and deliberately try to take over a larger group for its own ends. Elites are nothing more, and nothing less, than groups of friends who also happen to participate in the same political activities. They would probably maintain their friendship whether or not they were involved in political activities; they would probably be involved in political activities whether or not they maintained their friendships. It is the coincidence of these two phenomena which creates elites in any group and makes them so difficult to break.

 The Star System
This is one main source of the ire that is often felt toward the women who are labeled "stars." Because they were not selected by the women in the movement to represent the movement's views, they are resented when the press presumes that they speak for the movement. But as long as the movement does not select its own spokeswomen, such women will be placed in that role by the press and the public, regardless of their own desires.
This has several negative consequences for both the movement and the women labeled "stars." First, because the movement didn't put them in the role of spokesperson, the movement cannot remove them. The press put them there and only the press can choose not to listen. The press will continue to look to "stars" as spokeswomen as long as it has no official alternatives to go to for authoritative statements from the movement. The movement has no control in the selection of its representatives to the public as long as it believes that it should have no representatives at all. Second, women put in this position often find themselves viciously attacked by their sisters. This achieves nothing for the movement and is painfully destructive to the individuals involved.
While engaging in this trial-and-error process, there are some principles we can keep in mind that are essential to democratic structuring and are also politically effective:

Principles of Democratic Structuring

 1)  Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks only by default means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored.
2)  Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them. This is how the group has control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise power, but it is the group that has ultimate say over how the power is exercised.
3)  Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it. It also gives many people the opportunity to have responsibility for specific tasks and thereby to learn different skills.
4)  Rotation of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that person's "property" and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does not have time to learn her job well and acquire the sense of satisfaction of doing a good job.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Is Donald Trump the Antichrist? (No, Really)

Donald Trump is many things to many people, most of them rotten to the core. Thinking people rightly see him as a threat to Democracy and basic decency. But you don't have to go to college or be highly educated to see the threat present in his ascent. I see an electorate that is underwhelmed and even discouraged by the major party candidates, but when it comes time to cast ballots, each voter's true beliefs and real colors will win out in the end. I can only hope that the American people will follow good sense and vote as though the nature of our republic depended on it.

The Donald has, by now, most assuredly not left a neutral impression on anyone. He has been running a reckless, undisciplined campaign and yet somehow has always lived to fight another day. Our mistake may be in viewing Trump as, deep down, perfectly reasonable and a rational human being. Surely he must be having us on, we say to ourselves. The final joke may be on us.

A supremely disorganized and thin-skinned politician, there may not be any method to Trump’s madness. Could it be possible that he fits the diagnostic criteria for a personality disorder, at minimum? 

In a recent interview printed in the July 2016 issue of The Sun Magazine, psychiatrist Gary Greenberg discusses the possibility that Trump is mentally ill.

I'm not sure it's useful to think of Donald Trump as crazy. Many have said he has narcissistic personality disorder, but psychiatric disorders diagnoses can distract us from more troubling realities. The reality of Donald Trump is much more disquieting than a diagnosis of mental illness would suggest. He's a menace, an amoral clown, a mean, power-hungry bully--and apparently a perfect fit for these times. He doesn't even sound crazy to me. He sounds like a horrible human being.

Christians have long advanced the idea of the Antichrist, Satan incarnate. Usually this belief is framed in the context of the inevitable but impossible-to-predict Second Coming of Christ. As it is taught, the Antichrist will rise first. Then and only then will Jesus return in triumph to right the wrongs that came before. In reality, there have been Antichrists in every generation, individuals who epitomized pure evil. Antichrists have occurred in every generation and will continue to occur until a person of great rebellion arises.

It is dangerous, however, to label certain individuals Antichrists and try to predict Christ's coming based on those assumptions. Early church leaders mentioned the Antichrist openly, not necessarily to help us recognize him, but to urge us to ready ourselves for anything that might threaten our faith. If our faith is strong, we don't need to be afraid of what lies ahead. God is in control, and he will be victorious over the Antichrist. Yet, we need to take care to guard ourselves against the persuasive tactics undertaken by the Evil One. 

The New Testament book of 2 Thessalonians devotes some time to a discussion of the final stage of the End Times. The authorship of this book is shared between three First Century A.D. early Christian missionaries. Paul, Silas, and Timothy wrote the text. It is very much a collaborative effort, directed at the Thessalonian church, which is located in modern day Greece, not far from Turkey. 

Don't be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don't believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. Don't be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed--the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. 
He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.

Civilization has at least a veneer of decency through law enforcement, education, science, and reason. Although we are horrified by criminal acts, we have yet to see the real horror of complete lawlessness. This will happen when the restraining forces are removed. The closest example that might apply here is the terrifying aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. One could also cite the beginning stages of a particularly destructive riot, before control has been reestablished by police. We have recently been asked to imagine a radically different reality that challenges the bonds of supposed decency that hold together our civilization and every civilization that has ever existed.

To return to the inquiry with which I began, I ask again whether or not Donald Trump is the Antichrist. I'm perfectly serious. He may not be THE Antichrist, but he might be our latest Antichrist, designed to put the fear of hell into even the most fervent non-believer. We are taught in Scripture that no man will know the day and the hour, and many believers have waited impatiently for Jesus' return for centuries. There was a time where I shared their frustration, believing that times were surely bad enough now that the Second Coming must be imminent. And yet, what we were wishing and praying for did not occur. We might well be waiting the whole of our lives, or perhaps not. 

Whether we are people of faith or not, we need to be wary of Trump. As mentioned above, he is an ungodly man not above using any single tactic to ensnare and fool those who will not accept the truth. I have been dismayed at the number of Christian conservatives who prefer the literal devil they know rather than Hillary Clinton. Numerous biblical passages, addressed in their proper context, reveal that these religious leaders should recognize Trump is, at minimum, a false prophet leading people astray.

I pray that the eyes of those who have cast their lot with Trump will have their eyes opened. God is neither a Republican or a Democrat. He challenges every single one of us to live the fullest and fairest life we can. Jesus made relatively few political statements, and seemed to focus mainly on matters of theology and right living. The closest he came to committing himself to anything resembling political policy was when he was asked whether it was acceptable to pay taxes to the Roman Empire. His reply was typically brilliant and skillful, but non-committal. It was executed with the deftness of an attorney, a professional well-versed and familiar with man's laws, not God's laws.

People of faith might serve a greater purpose if they followed Jesus' lead. Quakers, in particular, are often fixated with political causes and activism. Nothing is intrinsically wrong with this stance, but sometimes it impedes and obscures what should be our greatest priority. Maybe, just maybe, Jesus is returning soon. As we are taught, he will come like a thief in the night. And before he does, let's prepare ourselves for what is to follow.         

The Voyeur Mafioso, Part 9 (Final Installment)

Part 8 here.

I may have lost a bit of privacy, but they can’t get much from me. Should I arrive home to find my apartment ransacked, I’d find it a trifling annoyance, entirely wasted effort. I keep no records and I wipe clean where I’ve been the instant my work is done.

The FBI is far more dramatic in its dealings. The tend to ambush a person from four sides at once. No, this is not law enforcement, nor is it the auspices of the United States government. This is someone who knows a little more than he or she should. I’m going to need another phone, because this one has clearly been compromised. In fact, it’d be best if we adopted new phones for everyone.

My invisible superiors have no doubt formed these conclusions well before I have. My phone beeps, comfortingly.


I’ve always been the sort to cut my losses. It seems we’ve been infiltrated by someone who has hacked into the personal information of everyone on payroll. They know our names now, but their motives are difficult to gauge. Some people do it only to prove that they can. I suspect simple revenge as a motive.

Nothing links me to the videos. Should we need to dissolve our business endeavor, it does make me sad that my best work will be destroyed. What was at first only a job became over time a labor of love. I recall the book Fahrenheit 451, whereby a totalitarian state burns books to control information. A secret society becomes the keeper of literature. Once a book has been memorized, it is burned to prevent incriminating its owner.

If only I could condition my brain in the same general way. Visuals are ephemeral, though I do remember a few details here and there. I mostly remember middle school study hall, the way girls only had to run their fingers through their hair to produce desire and longing. It seems silly in hindsight, but that’s the way it was for most of us.

I don’t dare return home for several hours. My main concern is whether or not someone’s trashed the place to find evidence. Like I’ve said, it would be a waste of time and effort. I’ve never made copies of any of my work and I’m too careful to resort to rookie mistakes. Being sentimental is a liability to too many. I officially do not exist beyond my nondescript title of pornographer, my physical address, and my pseudonym.

Today is a brand new ball game. Every last ounce of me is telling me to flee, to get the hell out of here before it gets nastier. I travel light and have few possessions. My work computer may already be in the hands of someone else. The only other tools I use regularly are the camera and my adjustable lens. I should probably smash both to bits.

I won’t be the one holding the bag at the end of this. Having disposed of all potential evidence, I’m going to the airport immediately. I’m going to get out of the country while I still can, and wait for all of this to die down. From now, I’m off the grid at an undisclosed location. It was fun while it lasted, but I have too much to lose. Now I feel a new terror that goes well beyond documenting a middle aged woman trying on lingerie. What do I do next?

Monday, August 01, 2016

A Few Thoughts

Dear Readers,

The final installment of "The Voyeur Mafioso" will be posted tomorrow. I am currently working on a collection of short stories, so to whet your appetite, I posted my favorite to this blog in installments.

Writing this story has been a labor of love. With this particular work, I've gone through a minimum of twenty separate drafts, and almost constant fine tuning along the way. This is my first attempt to make my main character an unreliable narrator. He justifies and rationalizes his vocation immediately, but one gets the sense he may be lying to himself. I'll leave it up to you to determine how you will perceive of him.

The story is also an attempt at a feminist narrative. We live in a world where certain men routinely violate women's boundaries. The deliberately unnamed protagonist may not find the content he records especially arousing or sexually charged, but he carries water for those who do. His hard work and the risk involved give him a kind of clinical detachment. He's a cog in the machine and knows it, but also is resigned to his fate. He was a failure and an underachiever earlier in his life. Now his life has some purpose, though the audience may find it deplorable.

The fact that an organized crime syndicate is funding these sorts of acts is crucial. It confirms that a black market exists for the content they peddle, and that what is clandestinely sold is in fact illegal and immoral. But before we stake a claim to the high ground, we must consider the world in which we now live. With the rise of the Internet and related technology, real privacy is becoming sparse.

Many people take risks by recording graphic videos and pictures. I'll go a step forward and say that there is a chance some of mine are floating around out there, too. As so many do, I posed and primped for past relationship partners, sometimes at their request, sometimes because I enjoyed the ability to seduce someone who meant a lot to me.

I don't suppose this is a comfortable read for anyone, but it was never written as such. Every detail is presented through the perception of one person. We have to trust his judgment, which as we know is called into question. He may be lying to us, the readers, and the rest of the world. In a purely first person account like this, there are no other characters to balance out the rest of the plot. Either we accept his reality, or we reject it.

Are these the ramblings of a chronic liar and deplorable person? Or, do you pity him and feel sorry for his lot in life? There are no right or wrong answers.  

The Voyeur Mafioso, Part 8

Part 7 here.


In a large mall, especially an indoor one, one can choose from any number of stores. Though the customers may not, I happen to grow bored with the same body types, the same bubbly, overly tanned cheerleaders and sorority girls. After winning the trust of my superiors, I can now be given the autonomy to be a bit more creative with locations as I see fit. Stores specifically designed for women are out. There’s no way I could obtain access there.

Young mothers with children are usually too preoccupied to know what I’m up to, but children can be either great helps or great hindrances. For one, they are unpredictable and can get in the way. I have better luck at nondescript chain retail outlets that appeal to modest wallets and pocketbooks.

The best video usually is produced by those skilled at concealing a camera, then having enough panache to sneak back in and retrieve the day’s rushes. It is rumored that one such person, our most popular, profitable, and proficient employee is a female store manager at Victoria’s Secret.

For those assigned to beach detail, five hour’s drive south, I’ve heard that a man at a swimwear shop, one frequented by women in their early twenties, is its store manager. Those are coveted positions, providing one almost a vacation, but I hate hot weather, hot sand, and the people attracted to it.

Someone like me would have no chance at success there, which is why my skills lie elsewhere. I don’t usually retrieve anyone else’s footage, but, like earlier, from time to time I do when needed. Truthfully, I’m not even sure why I’m here today.

It makes me nervous, more nervous than normal. For me, it pays to be paranoid. But why would anyone set me up? I’m popular with the viewers and I make decent bread. Maybe someone’s got a lens pointed my direction this very moment for a nice reversal of fortune. Maybe not, but I keep getting that same sixth sense that I’m under surveillance, with or without the benefit of technology.


I’d respond, but I can’t. My only communication with the real world by company equipment is by e-mail, and only then when submitting the day’s work. Who could this be? Is this for real, or is someone trying to scare me? We always try to be careful with identities. Whoever this is must have some inside track to know how to find me. This phone is hooked up to an e-mail address and telephone number specifically reserved for work. Both change every three months.