The Story on the Page

Sandra unlocks her apartment door. She removes her shoes after a long day on her feet. Doubles at the diner always take everything out of her. The apartment is quiet. She sits down and lies on the couch. She pulls out her phone and it is lit up with a text from her fiancé.

gonna b out late. with charlie.

Sandra sighs. Joseph has a habit of not working at all. He also has a habit of staying out late and spending what money he does have drinking and doing drugs with Charlie. Joseph has become increasingly distant. Sandra texts back : ok… i love u. be safe. She puts down her phone and grabs the remote. She turns on the TV. A television show she enjoys is on Netflix. She watches it for about 25 minutes. No response from Joseph.

She decides she is hungry. She goes into the kitchen and makes a sandwich. She had never been one much for cooking and neither had Joseph. But, she enjoyed making him sandwiches. She savored the few moments where he would be present while she made the sandwich. Sometimes, she took too long to make the sandwich because she wanted Joseph to stay around a while longer. Unfortunately, he was always in a hurry and would get aggravated with her when she did that. But, she still did it. She sits in the chair Joseph usually sits in. In that chair, he blew her off when she wanted him to have dinner with her family. He had plans with Charlie that night. She often wondered why Charlie took priority.

Charlie was one of Joseph’s long-time friends. She wasn’t quite sure how they met. All she knew was that they had lived together a while before she met Joseph. Charlie was a good guy. But, he was a little immature. Although he meant no ill-will, he indulged Joseph’s proclivities simply because he thought it was fun. Sandra often wondered if Charlie was aware of the damage he was having on their relationship.

A text pops up on her phone. But it isn’t from Joseph. It’s from her coworker, James. James had worked at the diner long before Sandra and became her mentor. He is a little older. A single father. He has no interest in relationships or most people in general. He just likes to smoke weed when his daughter is with her mother. He is one of the more good-natured man he had ever met.

Hey! I just got some GAS. Do you wanna smoke? 🙂

She only hung out with James when Joseph was out. James was ok with that. There was no attraction between the two, but James always did nice things for her. He bought her a rose for Valentine’s Day. He smoked her out almost daily. Joseph didn’t really do anything for her. Sandra pretended to be ok with it. Sandra often wondered why James was a better boyfriend than her actual boyfriend.

“sure! ^,^” She texts him back relatively quickly. She goes down the hall and changes into more comfortable clothing: sweats. She grabs her bong and heads into the living room. The television show she enjoys is still on. She sits down and watches it and looks over at Joseph’s chair.

In that chair, he casually told her he had quit his job that day. It was ok, he insisted. He had money saved. But, as time dragged on, he was unmotivated in his job search. That was when he started hanging out with Charlie again. Charlie was around a lot after that. He was in the apartment all the time. Sandra often wondered why Charlie had to be around all the time.

James knocks on the door. Sandra opens the door and he is standing in the hallway with a cigarette in his mouth. He walks in and sits down on the couch. He was at the house often, so he habitually made himself comfortable. The show Sandra enjoys is still on.

“Man, I love this show!” James says, chuckling. He’s already a little high.

“Me, too.” Sandra says, smiling. James pulls out his weed and breaks it down to pack into the bong. He takes a hit, clears it, and passes it to Sandra.

“How was your day?” He asks on his exhale.

“It was good. Made decent money. Billy came in tonight.”

“Did he get his normal two coffees?”

“Of course.” Billy was a regular who always came in and ordered two coffees: one for him and one for his wife who passed away. Sandra often wondered what a love like that was like.

“I love that dude… He’s been doing that ever since I started at the diner. So, about 3 years now. His love is just so pure. It’s beautiful.”

“Mhm…” Sandra secretly wished Billy would one day not order the second coffee and would turn to her and profess his love to her. She secretly wished that of a lot of the men in her life who appeared to love so much. Sandra often wondered why she wished this.

She and James hit the bong a few more times and continue to watch TV. Her phone lights up.


“What the fuck?!” James looks at her strangely. She hadn’t meant to say that out loud.


She sighs. She doesn’t like to tell him about her relationship troubles. “I told Joe I loved him and to be safe and all he said was ‘ok.’ Who does that?”

“Joe, apparently.” He laughs. “You know, you really deserve better than him.”

James had never voiced this thought, but always felt it. The same goes for Sandra. But, still she says, “I love him, though.”

“Yeah, but if he’s not putting in the same effort as you, does he love you?”

“I mean, he-“

“No, seriously. It’s great that you love him. And I’m sure he loves you, too. But… That feeling isn’t enough, ya know? It’s not really love if there’s no mutual effort there.” Even though he’s high, James is still the same deep, caring guy. Sandra looks at him. She knows that she can’t say anything to James to change his perspective. But, he doesn’t know Joseph like she does. Sandra often wondered why she couldn’t just listen to James.

After a few more episodes of the show they enjoy, James leaves. He tells her to have a good night and she says she’ll try. She turns off the TV and gets on Facebook. Joseph was tagged by Charlie in a photo. They’re drunk. She notices a girl in the background who’s tagged. Her name’s Charlie. Sandra thinks that’s a funny coincidence. She browses some articles that her friends have shared. She has been home for a couple hours now. She heads down the hallway into her bedroom and gets ready for bed. As she lies down, she hears the door open. Joseph was home. He rustles around noisily in the kitchen. He makes his way into the room with a bag of chips.

“How was it?” Sandra asks.

“Fine.” He lies down beside her, crunching his chips. He grabs his bowl from the nightstand and takes a couple hits. “I gotta take shit.” He gets up and heads up the hall to the bathroom. Sandra cries a little. She wonders if things will ever change. She often wonders if Joseph is ok. Or that he’s ever been ok. Or that he ever will be.

She hears puking in the bathroom. She sighs… She rolls over in her bed and notices his phone light up. To resist temptation, she grabs a book from the nightstand. She hears more retching. She tries to enjoy her book and become engulfed. But, the story on the page seemed to pale in comparison to the story currently being written in her own life. She feels sweaty and nervous. She hears a flush. He had finished puking and was about to finally take his shit. He groans loudly. She feels flush. The phone lights up again to remind her that there’s an unread text. It’s meant to remind Joseph, but at this point, she is more curious about it than he is. As she reaches over to put her book back in the night stand, she peeks at the notification. He has a text from Charlie…

hey cutie. had a great time tonight. again. lol. do it again soon? ;-*


Let’s Get Lost

“Let’s get lost.”

She said to me, passing the half-spent joint. I inhaled.

“Uhm. Ok.” I said on my exhale. I sped past the driveway of my house and turned out of our neighborhood and onto the long country road behind it. We had just made a beer stop. The 12-rack of PBR seemed like it wouldn’t make it past the night. I grabbed one and cracked it open. I handed it to her. I grabbed one for myself. We lit cigarettes and rolled down the windows to let the oddly-warm Ohio summer night air roll through our fibers. She held the joint up to her lips and flashed me a smile. She looked away bashfully. We had only just started dating. We were in that phase where she took photos of me in my bedhead and pajamas and showed her friends how “cute I am.”

She wants to get lost. That soft twinkle in her sky-eyes told me she knew where we were going. I didn’t. I don’t think she knew the location. But she definitely knew the destination. And that’s what I love about her. She is so not-me. I am the pragmatist to her whimsy. Sometimes, I’m the downwind to her upwind. I stop her in her tracks when she’s trying to soar. And in those moments, I am more lost than I care to be.

“I got the art internship!” Upwind. She had applied for one in California. She’s so excited, eyes twinkling. I am not.

“Can you even afford to do that?” Downwind. She is worse with her money than I am with mine. And I once spent an entire paycheck in one weekend. But that wasn’t my concern. I know she could get help from people. I know I would help her. Yet I harass her over her lack of money. For weeks, I point out every pointless thing she buys — even the gifts she buys for me that I actually cherish — as an illustration of how she can’t do it.

“I turned it down.” I feel conflicted. The twinkle in her sky-eyes had faded. I am happy she will remain here in Ohio. But, deep down, sad that I have crushed her dreams.

I took a turn onto a backroad I had never been down. I looked over at her. The wind was blowing her hair around behind her head. Her eyes were closed and she had a content grin on her face. We were high. We were young. We were happy. We were free. She looked at me.

“Do you want to hear a story?”

“Sure,” I said. She recalled a memory in fondness:

“When I was a kid, I watched an old Bob Ross tape my parents had… I know it’s cheesy as fuck, but… He was actually so happy to be painting. And I was just like, a kid. And I just liked being happy. Like a kid. So, I started painting. I realized I was actually pretty good at it! And then, when my parents got divorced, I kinda threw myself into it. The whole time they were arguing and fighting and in court… I was just painting. I spent a lot of my free time in the art room at school. The art teacher really pushed my art. She told me I really had potential. No one had ever encouraged me like that. Art kept me on the ups throughout high school. I never really thought about that until just now…”

“That’s awesome, babe.” I smiled at her. She smiled back and stuck her cigarette between her teeth. She turned up the music and we traveled down the road. It was just me, her, and the open road. We were going nowhere of importance, yet we were going somewhere important. We wanted to get lost.

In the weeks since she turned down the internship, she stopped painting. She just watches TV now. We don’t talk as much. I can tell that my presence reminds her of her missed opportunity. But, she loves me too much to ever harass me about it. She loves me too much…

I know that I’m causing her so much pain. And it causes me pain. But, she’s genuinely convinced she can’t do it now.
And I don’t know what to do. I want to help her.

“Let’s turn here.” She pointed at a side road that went up a hill. We went up the hill. It plateaued off into a clearing. The clearing then dipped down into a grassy shoreline for a lake. We had no idea where we were. We were high. We were young. We were happy. We were free.

“Let’s get out of the car.” She stepped out of the car and I did, too. I admired the car as I stepped out. I had just finished repairing it a few weeks ago. It was a ’55 Porsche Spyder — the kind James Dean drove — that my father and I had found relatively cheap (it was a replica) and fixed up. We modernized the interior as much as we could and fixed it up to run like a champ. There were a lot of memories in that car. It was my dream car. I grabbed a blanket from the back seat.

We trekked downhill to the grassy shore she had the beer in her hand and I had the blunts in mine, blanket tossed over my shoulder. We found a nice place where the full moon reflected in the lake beautifully. I laid out the blanket and we sat down. I lit up a blunt. We looked at the view of the lake through the perfect frame of trees and foliage that nature had so generously put on display. It was like it was just for us. I looked at her. She looked at me.

“It’s so beautiful,” we both said simultaneously. I kissed her. We made love for the first time that night. Right there. At that lake. On that shore. We lied there for a while in the moonlight.We talked about life. I learned so much about her that night. After a while, we headed back to the car. The car that had gained yet another memory. I kissed her on the cheek and held the door open for her. I got in the car and looked into her twinkling sky-eyes. I was lost.

I love her. The memory of that moment from almost four years ago hits me as I walk out and look at my Porsche. I get in it and begin to drive. I want her to do what she loves. Because I love her. She deserves the world and I can give it to her. She can still get the internship. I called them and told them she would take it. I pull into the long driveway I was searching for. I get out of the car and shake hands with a man in a nice suit. He looks at me. He looks at the car.

“I will give you $35,000 for it,” he says after carefully inspecting my cherished car. That’s more than enough for me and her to move to California together and live for the duration of her internship. I feel conflicted. But, I know what I have to do.

“That sounds fantastic! I need a favor, though. Can I have it for one more night?” He obliges my request and I leave. I drive around a while and stumble upon the lake again. I look out at it and I rush to her place. I pull in the driveway. I can’t wait to tell her. I get out of my car and rush to the door. She answers it and she looks confused. I’m going to tell her tonight. But first, we have to do something. Before we can begin our adventure together in California, I think we need to put a cap on our adventures here. At the same lake we started. I look at her:

“Let’s get lost.”

those who fix

those who fix
the problems of others are often
those who need fixed the most
the longing of the incognito heart:broken
down and the words that plague are sharp. (unspoken)
they are covered by the fogs need to mix
into my being; so my heart may never soften
and i am left to conversations with a Ghost

those who fix
endeavor to find problems
where none may exist  to find purpose
but all the while their self-ignorant neglect
is just a cry of desire for what others can’t reflect;
and plummeting myself into hell gives no fix.
i just thrust my mind into a parlayed bedlam
caused by my own freud-need to play amicus

to do the things you want

to do the things you want
you must do the things you ought:
sleepless weekdays and twenty hours awake in work
creep toward weakdays and plenty of burnout to spare.
the compositions daunting and deadlines drawing near
as my watch keeps taunting me with the secondhand-imposing jeer;
the strains of life generate a brain that is fraught
with neuralgia.but therapy comes as art:repair-
ing us and declaring us fit to acquire the things for which we search
to do the things we want.

it is warm in february

it is warm in february.
the sun is out(the flowers
gleaming never seeming to be sad..)
the social bees begin to have galas in local trees
and the luxuries of modernity begin to seem so meaning- forget and your demeanor grow dour
before technology was your mistress nature was your loyal comrade
and now-it is warm in february

i have been slowly tearing

i have slowly been tearing
out my hair by the roots
waiting ,highly,
anticipating the news
while my internal monologue is slowly recreating
but the answers i have are scarcely ever placating
and dialogues we have are rarely never fearing
and i approach the subject shyly


i have slowly been tearing
up at the thought of no you and me
me and you — there is not two
just the one to make me pleased
an ashtray full of cigarettes and no thing full of regrets
just splendid-melancholy sublets in the underbelly of this;lifes complex
but when the subject is broached is it nearing?
or simply,just a case of deja vu.


i have been slow-ly tear-ing
down my wall of apathy(
we equals you and me
be-ing happy);
is not a flee-ing chivalry
where virtue is a heresy
damnable by despondency
and hypocrisy is my mediocrity
dressed in denim jeans
and a plain pocketed tee!
eternity cannot be
the here-now.i see:
my faith in me
was just a plea
to spare me from eternity?

Dying to Self

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about finding yourself where I shared my thoughts on finding yourself by losing yourself in Christ. Well, this time I am going to take that a step further and discuss the act of dying to the self. Let’s take another look at what Paul says about the idea of living in accordance with the flesh, or the fallen self:

“But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24, ESV)

Now, Paul is pretty clear about his meaning here. We must put off the old self and don the new self. But, there’s more to it than that. This is not simply an act of removing an article of clothing and replacing it with something else. The self is not merely an interchangeable facade we can switch to and from whenever we please. It’s far more engrained into our flesh. We can’t see the Kingdom of God if we continue living in the flesh. Let’s look at what Jesus had to say to Nicodemus about the subject.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered,“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1-8, ESV)

Jesus says we must be “born of the Spirit.” Well, the implication here is that we are in the flesh, as Jesus says we must be born again. We were born in the flesh. Therefore, we strive to appease the flesh. Even the most selfless manifestation of the flesh is still of the flesh (the actual validity of selflessness is another topic not to be discussed quite yet). So, how do we become born again? How are we born in the Spirit? In Romans, Paul issues an encouragement to his audience:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:9-11, ESV)

So, then, we are not in the flesh when we have the Spirit within us. Rebirth in the Spirit comes when we are no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit. But, in order to be born in the Spirit, we must die to the flesh. But, why do we have to die to self in order for the Spirit to abide in us?

Well, the Holy Spirit is God. This is a foundational belief of the Christian faith. As God, He cannot be in the presence of sin (“God is light,” meaning morally pure, see 1 John 1:5). The flesh — the self — is sinful and fallen and depraved. Therefore, the Spirit, being fully God and holy and pure, cannot dwell with the flesh. So, the solution is dying to the self to make sure we are poised for the Spirit’s indwelling. But, “dying to self” is still an abstract concept at this point. However, Jesus gives us some advice on how to do this:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, ESV)

Self denial. A radical concept. How do we deny ourself, though? That’s still pretty abstract. Take up your cross daily. Ok, the cross is symbolic of death, reinforces dying to self. Still not very practical. Follow Jesus. A little more practical, but not entirely applicable to life. So, let’s break down each of these commands of Jesus’.

1) Deny Your Self

Denying your self is a foreign idea to the western mind. Our culture prides itself on self-sufficiency. You make yourself or you break yourself. But, what Jesus is saying is that that is not the Truth. Jesus is saying that, in order to be His disciple, you must forfeit control over your own life. This is not to say you truly have control over your life, however it is to say that you must seek the will of God. Seek happiness in God. That pursuit will look different for everyone, but I can tell you it is not seeking him anywhere other than where you’re at. If you are under the pretense that you need to leave where you are and get in a better situation to find Jesus, your faith is then contingent upon where you’re at instead of who Jesus is. That is not the kind of faith that Jesus deserves, nor is it the kind of faith He desires. If you can’t find your faith in the situation you’re in, you won’t be able to truly find it, no matter where you go. Seek Christ whether in the respite of peace or in throes of suffering. Deny yourself any notion of control over your environment. Let Christ’s glory determine your situation, not your situation determine Christ’s glory.

2) Take Up Your Cross

Daily. Take up your cross daily. The idea here is that dying to self is not a simple, one time event. It is a continual process that we must be active in. We are participants in our own death, with the hope that Christ is our resurrector. Every. Single. Day. When you wake up every morning, pray for the Spirit and pray that you can deny yourself as the day moves forward. Jesus was not passive in His death, so you’re not allowed to be either. Be active in the death of your self and allow the power that raised Christ — the power that dwells within you, too — to raise you to life and rebirth you.

3) Follow Jesus

This is perhaps the hardest part of dying to self: following Jesus’ teachings. The reason this is difficult is because it requires constant and intent studying of His teachings. It’s a commitment. What essentially happens as a Christ follower is that you’re constantly involved in higher education. You are constantly a student, learning His teachings, applying them to your life, and longing for the day when you can walk up to the Dean and look Him in the eye to say “I gave my all.” However, you’ve already been granted graduation. Your efforts in the school of life are not to gain your graduation or to prove you’re worthy of it, but rather to thank your Dean for the reception of graduation.

When we die to our self and become reborn, don’t let yourself think that this is the path to salvation. It’s not. Only Jesus is the path to salvation. As my pastor said last Sunday, “These are not things we do to be saved, they are things we do because we are saved.” You should die to yourself because you love Jesus and He saved you. You should die to your self because you’re unworthy and you received salvation anyway. If you’re dying to yourself to prove your worth or to earn your salvation or to be pious, you are submitting to an idolatry that places your actions above God’s grace. Die to yourself because you love Jesus and He deserves your life, fully. He doesn’t need your life, — He needs nothing — but He deserves it. Give it to Him.