Excerpt from My First Novel Yellow Socks Confessions of a Non Don Juan

June 4, 2012

An Excerpt from my 2010 novel Yellow Socks- Confessions of a Non Don Juan

 

Skeleton Woman or Things Like Me Don’t Happen To You

 

Christ it happened again. Another notch in my “girls that want to be my friend” belt. It made sense. We were perfect friends and she was real cute too. I kept thinking that I was ok with it. I’d be happy just being a friend again. I keep turning to God for strength to accept my fate as “Friend to all women” that I’m attracted to. My acceptance level seems to be ok. I go to my happy place. I go to my cave. I say the serenity prayer over and over I am sure that I will be ok with this. Yes I will. (no I won’t)

 

Cut to a scene from Fight Club

 

TYLER

Stop it! This is your pain — this is your burning hand. It’s right here! Look at it.

 

JACK

I’m going to my cave. I’m going to my cave to find my power animal!

 

TYLER

No, don’t deal with this the way those dead people do. Come on

!

JACK

I get the point, ok, please!

 

TYLER

No, what you’re feeling is premature enlightenment.

 

Ok. I get the idea. Feel the pain. Feel the hurt. Feel the rejection saturating my heart until I bleed more than just these words all over the place and finger my open sore of a brain as it wants to dwell on her over and over again. Screaming and roaring her name with anger and grief and sometimes a slight relief that it’s done and I know that she will not reject me again unless I go back for more and more or less or a little bite of her cheeseburger and a sip of her Pepsi to tide me over until the next one comes along with better food and spirits for my, for me for. Four scores of seven years itch as I scratch the weathered tired out mongrel of an ego that was left stray years ago in a pound for wayward hearts and letches that can only love and never be loved.

 

The pain of being a friend. A friend. I’ve heard that “Let’s just be friends” millions of times in my life as I gargle a new mouthwash and toothpaste hoping my breath will be the answer to my problem. My problem is as follows: me, myself and I. We altogether are the problem. We want to be loved so bad that we give off the vibe that scares the shit out of women so they just want to be friends. Friends. Friends. I think to myself that will be fine. Friends is ok. It’ll do. I can accept that. Bullshit! Feel the pain I tell myself. Embrace it. the pain is your friend. To hurt is to be alive. I’ve never been so alive. I’m alive. So alive.

 

“Did you ever hear about the skeleton woman?” Morton asked.

 

“Was that a Glam rock band from the seventies?” I ask.

 

“Ha. Ha. Nah. It’s an ancient Indian story. This guy was fishing in the middle of a lake. He was totally into it. He was relaxed. Not a care in the world except catching the next fish. All of a sudden he feels a tug on his line and he yanks it up. A skeleton appears on his line. He doesn’t realize that it’s attached to his line and he gets scared. He starts paddling his boat away from it but it follows him. He still doesn’t realize that it’s attached to his line. He gets out of his boat and runs into the village and he is carrying his fishing rod and the skeleton is still right behind him. He jumps into his Tee Pee and it follows him in. He lies down and tries to hide not looking at it for a while. When he finally turns to look at the skeleton it has changed into the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. She is his. The moral of the story is that he was minding his own business doing something he enjoyed and that’s when the right woman came along. In other words when you are not looking for love is when it will find you. ”

 

“I know that but it’s so fucking hard to stay focused on other things without thinking about how much I want to be loved. Fall in love. Ya know?” I responded.

 

“I know. I know.” Morton said.

 

“We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.” Tyler Durden

 

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Livin’ the Dre .a . . uh . . . Cliche

June 21, 2011

I sit once again in the comforts of the coffee shop in Collingswood, NJ. I’ve always liked this place. The décor and the music. The owners are great. The workers are great. There’s always an interesting mix of customers. Some I know and most I don’t know. This may become a new hobby of mine: hanging at the Groove Ground in Collingswood. Writing. Drinking coffee.  Living the dream. Living the cliché.

 

I always thought that the people sitting on their computers typing away at a coffee shop were douche bags. Hey look at me. I’m a writer.

 

Yesterday it was slow and casual in here and I had odd conversations with truly weird people. The good kind. The ones that aren’t phony or pretentious just off the wall naturally. I like misfits that are real. In a progressive town like Collingswood it’s hard to separate real people from posers. Down to earth interesting people versus fake pretentious “hipsters”. They do what they think is cool because their little crowd are into it. They are usually the ones that see me reading John Fantte and know who he is. They make comments on my John Waters or William S Burroughs T-shirts. They fool me at first.

 

I assume because they like what I like then they might be cool. Unfortunately I am into a lot the “hipster” culture. I like the things I like because I like it, ya know? I get into a movie or a writer from someone I know that says “Hey Rich. Check out this (fill in the blank) if you like (fill in the blank). I usually end up liking it. I used to dream about hanging out with people with common interests. It was always the hipsters. I tried and saw how annoying and fake these people are. The more I immersed myself in the culture the more I disliked the people and could spot one a mile away.

 

I guess I’m judgmental but who gives a fuck?

So today the Groove Ground was crowded and loud when I walked in and nowhere to sit. I was ok with that because there were seats outside and I could smoke and drink coffee and write at the same time. I bought my drink and found a seat and settled in. The crowd dispersed. As some of then left I noticed their styles were similar to mine. Same glasses. Same hat that I wore yesterday. When I looked at each one I thought “douche!”.  At least I’m not wearing leather sandals like this “douche” “hipster” standing next to me right now.

 

Fuck it. I’m over it already. Just wanted to write about it.

 

My life is still moving along with or without them.

 

I might be living the cliché but I’m also living the dream. My dream, my thoughts, my life. Me.

 

Maybe I’m the cliché douche judgmental pretentious self righteous hipster. Ya know what? Right now I don’t care. It gave me something to write about for the day, right?

EDITOR’S (that’s me) NOTE: I got a better look at the guy with the hat and realized I knew him and he is a pretty cool guy and not a hipster. I guess my Hipstdar isn’t on all of the time. My Gaydar still works for what it’s worth.


Epiphany Shmiphany

June 20, 2011

 

I’ve been waiting to sit down and write about an “epiphany” I had a little over a week ago. Epiphany. For such a soft word that is almost pretty as it rolls through my mouth it is a powerful word. I’ve had these changes in attitude and  realizations ( a harsher sounding word that’s way less powerful). I was basically going to tell you about the “epiphany” that I have told you about and have experiences over and over. I guess I should mention it briefly then move on, huh?

 

I was watching a documentary about Hubert Selby Jr, author of classic novels like Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream that were made into fantastic movies, about a week and a half ago. Learning about the struggles of the life of an artist is just rehashing what I already knew. An artist is born that way. Born to struggle through life so he can create art. That is his purpose and contribution to life. In a world of money oriented and materialistic people, we the artists, are giving instead of taking. As soon as we share our creations with at least one other person our art is art.

 

Ok, I’m not going to go on on and on about my purpose in life and your role in it. Basically I was just reminded of what I need to remember and keep forgetting. The struggle is the burden and consistency and I have to comment, react and create from it then give t away.

 

“I am an American artist I have no shame.” Patti Smith

 

The past few weeks have been terrifying, incredible, amusing, and on and off weird.

 

I’ll start with right now. At this moment I am sitting inside a coffee shop in Collingswood, NJ. I just finished talking to a friend I’ve hung out with only a few times but when we see each other there is this bond we have and we end up in deep conversations about art, music, addiction and sometimes the meaning of life itself. Ha. He’s in a similar situation as me and we always get along.

 

I went to the welfare office at 7 am this morning and spent over 2 hours trying to get some kind of assistance. I followed it up with a visit to unemployment to waste another hour or 2. It wasn’t a complete waste. My unemployment is back on. I just had to fight for the weeks they held back. This is fantastic news after waiting almost a month without the money and bills are adding up.

 

When you’re broke. Really broke. You start thinking about every coffee, donut, dinner out, pizza delivered, soda, etc and you over analyze what you wasted money in the past while still spending the same money on the same things. Oh yeah, the air conditioning is killing my roommate and me. Both he and my landlord suggested I turn it off and leave the house each day and hang at a coffee shop or somewhere with internet connections. These days that’s pretty much every coffee shop and eve restaurants and bars.

 

I went home after the unemployment office. It was about noon. 5 hours spent on trying to get help and it was semi successful. I still had the entire day ahead of me. I still do. I rubbed one off watching Judge Pierno or whatever her name is to relax. Not long after I got a phone call from the lady I spoke with at the unemployment office to tell me that all of the past money owed to me will come through. I was more floored by the fact that the woman called me back as soon as she found out than I was about the money. That was just really nice. I was ready to get out again and head to the pharmacy and then relax at the coffee shop. I am relaxed despite the caffeine.

 

I just ran into a girl I knew from a group I used to attend. Young, beautiful and great body and she is a fellow writer. A talented writer. I had such a crush on her a while back. I had so many fantasies about her in the past few years. I haven’t seen her since this past winter when I fist grew my beard and hair long and she called me a Wooly Mammoth and I was embarrassed and I was already anxious borderline agoraphobic. Weird. It was just a cute little name-calling and borderline flirtation that helped speed up my already progressing reclusiveness.

 

Irony. Now that I am leaving the house I run into the girl that I not only had a crush on but made me not want to go out anymore. I have to admit when I first laid eyes on her I got a little anxious and I pretended not to see her. I wanted to hide and jump up and call her name. I didn’t. I went back to writing what you just read. What I just wrote. I felt comfortable when she approached me on her way out. She was actually working, looking for a story to cover for one of the publications she writes for.

 

We talked a little bit about writing and how good it was to see each other then she left and here I am. This is the message of my writing today. Random events that mean nothing and mean everything to me.

 

When I got here I randomly started talking to a guy I never met before about misery versus happiness. I happen to be learning and relearning that life is a struggle and it’s what you put into it. This is before I met the others here today.

 

Last week I went to Philly to sell my cds to a shop where I’ve known the owner for a while. We had a great talk and he gave me a great price and I left a happy man. I wandered to a coffee shop I’d never been to greeted by 3  barista angels that worked the registers and coffee machines. People talked to me and greeted me like I was someone. I grabbed my drink and tipped then sat right outside so I could smoke. Huh… I haven’t had a cigarette yet since I entered the coffee shop. Usually I jump right out side and smoke. If I did that I wouldn’t have run into my friends. Shit. Now I want a cigarette. . .  .

 

*Dramatic pause for Rich Hillen Jr’s cigarette break*

 

Great smoke break. I’m texting my friend maybe girlfriend that lives in New Orleans all about my day. She’s another story. We’ve been talking about moving in for a while but we can’t afford it yet. A long drive and she has a pooch.

 

Just 3 weeks ago (maybe 2 and a half weeks) I was so desperate and stressed about my financial condition and it’s slowly pulling itself together.

 

Once I had my “epiphany”, I felt better over all and knew things will work out if I make the effort and try not to feel or come off desperate. I was ready.

 

My roommate told me about a music shop in Collingswood that would probably give me a good deal on my amp I’ve wanted to sell. I headed out one night to sell the amp and I ran out of gas within 4 blocks from the store. I laughed. My gas gage isn’t always working right and it says that there is less gas than is in there. I was on empty and was planning to get gas after I sold the amp.

 

This teenager appeared out of nowhere and started pushing my car. We couldn’t budge it for some reason. I was a foot from the corner street wedged on the curb. I called my close friend that lived in Collingswood and he was on the road going to a show and couldn’t help. I was pretty far from a gas station. I racked my brain finding someone in the area that could and would help me out.

 

I called my filmmaker friend who I’ve worked with on a few projects and he came through for me. I was still in a decent mood. I was also lucky enough to have had a gas container. So my friend picked me up, took me to the gas station and back to my car. It worked out because he wanted to talk to me about his upcoming projects. Just as we pulled up near my abandoned giant red beat-up 1994 Lincoln Towncar there was a Mini-Cooper in front of it and my cell phone rang with an unrecognized number. I just said to my friend that it looks like my mom’s friend’s car and it was my mom on his cell phone. I laughed again. My mom and her friend were parked there checking to see if I was ok. I was. They left. It was starting to get windy and a storm was on the way. I gassed the car up, thanked my friend and drove off to get gas.

 

I debated going to the music shop because of the gas problem and the storm brewing. I went anyway. It was a great decision. There were 2 women sitting in there with a guy that worked there. I jumped right to business and didn’t even check out the ladies. I wanted money. I knew exactly how much I wanted for it and the guy looked at and tested it. He left to get the owner to look at it and appraise it. While he was gone I looked at one of the now noticeably pretty women and she said “Hi Rich.” I knew those eyes of hers. It’s been over 20 years but you don’t forget her eyes. I said hi and I was a little uncomfortable yet happy. Memories rushed through my head of all of the nights I hung out with her, her friend and my weirdo friend. Many drinks and many other things. I tripped on acid with this girl at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She was at my college graduation party. One night we got really stoned and went back to her place to look at her art (she was an incredible artist). We had a most memorable passionate night that we agreed not to tell anyone about. I wonder if it made it special because it was a one-time deal. It doesn’t matter. Here she was face to face 20 years later and looked the same.

 

I knew she lived in the area for years and heard about her musician boyfriend/fiancé through a friend of mine. I did run into her once 10-12 years ago and it was a brief conversation because we both had somewhere to go. So you can probably guess who owned the music shop I was standing in hoping to make a buck from. It was the infamous boyfriend/fiancé or whatever. Then I talked to him about the people we had in common. We talked after he paid me righteously for the amp of course. I left feeling good.

 

Then came the storm as I was leaving. A physical storm followed that Sunday afternoon after “helping” out my uncle who is really my great aunt’s live in boyfriend clean offices. I pulled muscles in my arms and shoulders. This triggered my infamous Trigeminal Disorder. The pain was at its’ worst since I was first diagnosed with it in 2005. I was running out of pain meds and I couldn’t refill them for a week. I took migraine aspirin and sleep aids. I spent most of the next 3 days away to escape the explosions in my face. I was in extreme pain for 3 days then the recovery took a day or 2. I was finally back in the world and that’s when I sold my cds and hung out in Philly.

 

This past Saturday I did my usual “helping” out my uncle whose not my uncle. Afterward, I met up with my adopted mother, the one that raised me, to have lunch in honor of my adopted father whose 2nd year death anniversary that also fell on Father’s Day. We were supposed to meet up the next day but she changed her mind and we had a great dinner and conversation.

 

On my way out I ran into another friend I’ve known for years sitting on a bench and I voluntarily joined him. This is a big step for me to be social and I hung out with him for an hour in the hot sun drinking an iced coffee from Starbucks. I was in a good mood. I headed home and watched some movies and did a little writing.

 

Sunday was Father’s day and my adopted father’s death anniversary. It was an awkward day. Having 2 dads can be difficult. My focus was on the dead one who raised me and not my biological father who came back in my life as an adult and has been there for my for over 20 years now. I called him and text him. We decided we will celebrate when I can afford it. It ended nicely.

 

Shit. This was a random bit of writing that went on forever. If you’re still reading, God bless you and thank you for sharing my life as it’s still spinning in and out of Epiphanies, pain, poverty, good memories and hopes of tomorrow, meanwhile, living in the moment no mater how good or bad it gets.

 

Ride on.

 

Right on.

 

Write on.

 

 


I want to be Different so I can Fit in with the Different People

December 20, 2010

Hipsters, scenesters I don’t wanna be-sters. At one time I thought I wanted to be one. I always loved the word “hip” but I found out that there is a “crowd” for everything including the “hip”. Ever day, every month and ever year I realize more and more that I am a misfit, an outsider or a freak as I was called in High School.

 

Not that I ever tried to fit into a group but found myself hanging with different “in crowds” through the years and I always come to the same conclusion. I don’t fit. I won’t fit. Now I realize that I don’t want to fit. I don’t really care. I have enough trouble fitting in my own skin at times.

 

The other day I went to Fishtown in Philadelphia to do a book reading and signing of my novel at cool book store called Germ Books. They specialize in UFO, conspiracy theories and occult literature. I might have called it hip at one point. I was semi-early and the owner wasn’t there yet so I went to the corner to a coffee shop. I walked into the shop and the place reeked of hipsters. They didn’t literally stink but there was an aroma of another kind.  An aroma of pretentiousness. Maybe they all weren’t pretentious but I got that feel.

 

Now over the years I have gown less and less tolerant of “clicks” or “gangs” of people. I get extremely uncomfortable around a group of more than 3 people especially if they are of the same age, race, uniform etc. This is no different.

 

The band King Missile had a song called I Want to be Different. The lyrics were spoken and the singer says “I want to be different. I want to fit in with the different crowd.” I used to feel that way.

 

For a moment I thought “This is where I should be reading my novel.” Then immediately thought the opposite. These people would be too worried about how they appear in front of one another and not paid any attention. I assumed that they probably couldn’t afford my novel anyway. Ha. I can be so judgmental at times. Hey- I’m human.

 

As I waited in the long line watching these people and  feeling uncomfortable it hit me that I was dressed and carried myself like them. I had the look and I wish I didn’t. These feelings combined with my claustrophobia and semi-social anxiety I fled as fast as I could to get out and drink my coffee and have a smoke before the reading.

 

When it was time to read I looked around at the sparse room of a handful of people and thought how much better it was in the bookstore with people that are truly themselves and interested rather than part of a click. I don’t want to be the “in” event or the “hip” person to see. I want to be me, whatever that is at any given time and be around people that are themselves. Outsiders, freaks, misfits.

“I’m Hip” -Maynard G Krebs


Don’t Read This- Another Day

August 3, 2010

The night was moist. No. The night was dark. Wait. The night was quiet. Who gives a shit? The night is the night. It’s after 1 am in the morning and I finally decide to write something after a few day hiatus. I hate not writing everyday. I hate not doing something creative. Is this creative? We’ll see how it goes.

My cousin came over for the day with her 13-year-old son. They are visiting from Alaska. We hardly know each other. We got to talk a little this past Christmas and at Grandmother’s funeral this past January but it was very little. We’re even friends on facebook but we hardly know each other. We like each other we’re family. Even if it is my adopted family. The entire family has treated me like their own since I was adopted at age 11.

So, My mom, my cousin, her son and I went to lunch and then went to Granmom and Grandpop’s grave site. My cousin’s son or my 2nd cousin made rosary and he wanted ot bury it at the site. He did. It was sad yet a beautiful gesture. Grandmom really loved him. Her only great grandson.

We all came back to my mom’s house where I’ve been living for a while to hang out. I went into my anti-social world and on the internet on my porch to smoke. I edited my Serial Killer Coloring Book a little and wrote and returned a bunch of emails and got too hot and tired and went upstairs to nap. I woke up just in time for dinner with my cousins and mom. Of course I went out for a smoke and some coffee until dinner was served. We talked for a while and then I excused myself and went back to work on my project and played around on facebook. It’s as if my computer projects and internet world is more important to me than family I might not see for another year or more.

The next thing ya know I’m off to pick up a friend for a meeting and off I went. My Monday night meeting is the same one I’ve been going to for ove18 years every Monday. It’s my other family. It’s not just a spiritual event it’s a social event. I hung out talking to friends for hours and came home exhausted. I don’t know whether it’s my Bipolar disorder, social anxiety or too much caffeine but I am worn down and into feeling up to writing. I have to do it anyway. Right? Writers write. Right? Here I am feeling anti-social, depressed, tired but can’t sleep and I somehow feel the need to tell you this. Share it with the world. I only want to be social online and on my terms. I should have skipped writing this and just went to bed. I’m going ot go do that. Don’t read this ok? Thanks.


“I Think I Get More Enthusiasm From My House Plants . . .ha”

June 30, 2010

“I think I get more enthusiasm from my house plants…ha” she wrote me in an email.

She ended it with that. She basically told me flake or no flake that she feels like she’s wasting her time on me. It wasn’t worth much more effort on her part because I don’t seem interested in it at all. I was. I am. I’m just a flake. No. There’s more to it than that. That word is a cop out.

I just don’t seem to be real enthused about meeting new people even though I make the effort. I keep starting new relationships and then fade out or put it off. Whether it’s dating or hanging out with close friends I just put things off or don’t follow through on getting together, returning phone calls or emails. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a guy, girl or in between. Ha. I guess it’s not a good time for me.

I can make excuses like I’m self-absorbed and into my writing and other creative projects. I’m depressed. I’m bipolar. I’m an Alcoholic. I’m a drug addict. The anniversary of my father’s death recently passed. I’m unemployed. These facts are all true but they are just excuses. I deal with these issues daily. Generally speaking I am happy for the most part. I just can’t seem to take interest in socializing outside of my comfy little internet realm or at 12 step meetings.

I have to go to the meetings to help maintain my sobriety, spiritual level and help others. I get to socialize as a bonus. I have to socialize there. When I was working it was also a forced socialization with my co-workers that I liked dearly and the customers I could take or leave.

Sometimes I leave social situations in a bad mood, sad or depressed for some reason. Even though I receive the validation I used to crave, I don’t really care about it anymore. Like I’ve written before I don’t know what’s happened to me in the past few years but I am a different person. I’m ok with it overall but it’s so noticeable that it concerns me sometimes. Isn’t life supposed to be a mix of inner reflection and socialization? Are we not as humans born social creatures?

Maybe it’s the internet that’s changed me. I can have all sorts of relationships and socialization without leaving the comforts of my living space, my mind and my feelings. I don’t have to face people when I’m down or too happy. I can be whoever I want to be on a social networking site. I end up being me anyway. I can be self centered and write about me and promote my projects without interruptions. I don’t have to listen to other people talk about their trips or interests. Don’t get em wrong, more than half the time I am interested in listening to other people once I’m in a social situation. Other people can be interesting but sometimes I just don’t feel like it. I also leave the situation feeling down for no reason.

The past ten to fifteen years I have been dealing with people in my life that are as flaky if not flakier than me. They cant commit to anything. They don’t show or cancel all of the time. They do the same exact things that I’ve been doing and it used to drive me nuts. I learned ot accept that few people do what they say they are going to do or won’t say because they know they won’t follow through. Now I’m one of them. My motto used to be “a commitment means –come hell or high water I will be there”. Now it seems to be this wishy washy decision that I put off to the last minute. I usually back out.

I don’t know if this has to change or not. I was forcing myself out socially at least once a week to try and be a social human being again. After a few months I stopped. I go out when I have to and once in a while if I feel like it. I return emails when I feel like it. I pay bills just on time at the last minute. I do chores at the last minute when I have to. Like I’ve said repeatedly I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s working for me so far so I shouldn’t really worry about it. I just don’t want to lose friends and become a total recluse. I might enjoy it for a while but I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.

I’m going to try and be more social and bring more enthusiasm than a house plant to the table. I love life and I love people so something has to change. Meanwhile I plan on staying home all day writing and such an go out later to a meeting.


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