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Behind My Nose

A bitter, yet heady bouquet of outwardly focused criticism, observation and praise.

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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

I'm a leftist bookseller, writer and sometimes activist. I'm not "high-energy," "outgoing," or "outdoorsy," nor do I enjoy sports (except for watching football) or other pointless activities such as kayaking, entertaining large groups of acquaintances in my home or tossing pointy objects at targets. I love to write short fiction & essays. I love laughing really hard and breathing fresh air. I'm a transman. I live with my partner, Kris, a narcoleptic bulldog, a hound dog and a cat.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Foiled Again

I’m going to start telling people I’m an accountant. Every successful writer has a lot of writer friends, but not many writers have accountant friends. This will, no doubt, put me in high demand in literary circles. I’m not an accountant, by the way. I do book keeping at a bookstore, and I also work on the website. I did take accounting classes once, but they were out in St. Louis County, and by the time I drove out there after work in the Central West End (where the bookstore is) it was dark and I couldn’t see my Mapquest directions, which I had to read every time I drove to the classes because they were in different high schools in various parts of the county. I’m night blind and have absolutely no innate sense of direction, so I went to the wrong school one night, got fed up with the whole thing and went home. To be fair to myself, I had completed most of the classes required for my community college Accounting Certification. It was, in fact, the last class I ditched, and the vile capitalist instructor had indeed instructed the class (half of whom were black) not to extend credit to those people who live on the North side of St. Louis, most of whom are working poor black people. Three nights a week he bragged about accounting for the military, various pharmaceutical companies and the miscellaneous white, catholic, heterosexuals who found themselves in his in-home office. So, finding myself at the wrong high school on the wrong night was probably my own subconscious way of thumbing my nose at that son of a bitch, even though that night I thought I was just stupid.Now I’m one credit shy of my certification, which I’ll never get because I just can’t bring myself to go back without becoming homicidal. Over the years I’ve spent here at ye olde bookstore I’ve come to the disturbing realization that writers are a little like that accountant sometimes. Before I came here I was an over the road truck driver. I spent many nights listening to Amy Tan and Wally Lamb books on tape my psychotic ex-girlfriend/truck driving partner borrowed from the library. The truck’s tape player was pretty crappy and I only caught ¾ of the story out of the buzzing speakers over the diesel engine, but it was enough to form the notion that writers knew something I didn’t, which is patently untrue.“Patently untrue.” That’s a phrase from my girlfriend’s repertoire. Even the word repertoire is somehow hers. These are the ways I know I’m not a writer. I leech language from others. I guess we all do, but I do it chronically. I’m a mimic. I can’t even spell. I just spelled mimic wrong and my Microsoft Word spell-check caught it. The fact that I can’t spell, I’m a mimic, I am not an accountant, and will probably never write the great Pakistani novel (the Great American Novel gold belt buckle should be given to Alice Walker in my humble opinion, and if not her then someone equally qualified), even though those things are true of me, I do know just about as much about life, the universe and everything as your run of the mill writer, I just don’t have enough writer friends to actually be able to say I’m a writer with a capital W. I know writers who would read this and complain that real writers with a capital W would not actually have friends. Instead, they would have hangers-on who would worship every syllable that floated from their whiskey soaked tongue and then die young under tragic circumstances. If this is true then I’m halfway there. I don’t have many friends, and I could easily get rid of the ones I have, I’m sure. As for dying young under tragic circumstances, I’m not all that young by Eileen Myles worshipping standards, and the most tragic circumstance I’d have the nerve for is jumping from a bridge since, technically I’m not legally allowed to own a firearm. I’m afraid of heights, and Mapquest probably couldn’t direct me to a satisfactory bridge. Further, it would have to be a rainy night if I was going to do it the most tragic way, and as I said before, I’m night blind, so there you have it. Much like my early aborted accounting career, my stint as a writer is foiled.The bookstore where I work was formed from hippie dreams in 1969. Of course we are in the Midwest, so when I say hippie, I mean that in the most Christian, non-threatening, “Gee kids wouldn’t it be nice to be a hipster for Halloween?” way possible. At least that’s the way hippies were thought of in Effingham, Illinois, where I grew up. That may not exactly be the best example of overall attitude in the Midwest considering they erected a 198 foot cross made from what I can only guess is aluminum siding. Or maybe that is just the reason we should consider them the bellwether of Midwestern thought. St. Louis erected 630 feet of Westward Expansion monumental stainless steel minus the religious overtones, but if you drive a few feet further you will see the road sign green billboards that scream JESUS at you. Sometimes I like to scream JESUS back at it just to make a point. One time I drove past the JESUS billboard and just after it was a billboard advertising New Year celebrations at the Riverboat Casino with a giant picture of a Rod Stewart impersonator. I really think that says it all.The other night, I actually spent some time with Eileen Myles, and I have to say that I like her a lot. I have two things that Eileen doesn’t, 1. I’m younger and 2. I’m transsexual. Those two things coupled with the fact that I’m almost an accountant makes me vastly more interesting than if I just described myself as 33, divorced, bookseller. Theoretically, I would be almost as interesting as Eileen Myles and quirky enough to throw her a little off balance, which is exactly what happened. When we parted I really genuinely liked her, and when she moved to hug me she dipped her head out of the way a bit in case I slugged her.

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