TAYLOR JACK NELSON
I am trying to be vegan and I am trying to be gluten-free and I am trying to be healthy. But after not eating anything all day because finding healthy food that I enjoy is too hard, I get some sort of Chinese chicken and mozzarella sticks from the deli at Walmart and a corn dog from Weinerschnitzel. I eat them all in my car, savoring the delicious artificial flavorings and fillers and chewy processed MSG-filled deliciousness that a salad just cannot provide. I let myself enjoy this.
At home, alone, I see a cute guy on the internet. Shirtless. I find more cute guys on the internet. Naked. I go into my room. I kneel on the bed. I am hard and I am fucking them. Cock and ass. Men bent over, or lying on their backs, taking me inside them. Pleasure all around. Then, the height of pleasure, and an ultimate release. But then, after, it seems it was a release of messiness. Cum everywhere. And lube. I’m left, naked and exhausted. White goo on the sheets, on my flaccid penis, on my hands, on the hairs of my belly and in my belly button. Now, even as I want nothing but to sleep forever, I must clean up the sheets, my penis, my hands, my belly, and in my belly button.
That night I watch a movie. Such beauty and artistry. Such an exclamation of the wonder of human experience. I watch it—I consume it—with several glasses of Chardonnay and a pair of pizza pockets from the gas station across the street. It is blissful—and then I remember that I bought cigarettes at the gas station with the pair of pizza pockets. I stop the movie and go to smoke.
I have not smoked in…however long. At least I have not truly smoked, truly enjoyed it. Now, with the Chardonnay at my backing, I lean against the trunk of my car and stare at the tree in my building’s parking lot while enjoying my cigarette. As a child, and as a teen, and for a brief time as an adult, my favorite tree was the giant willow tree in the backyard of my childhood home where my parents still live. Under that tree I played. I swung from its viney branches and I swung from the swing that hung from it when I was very young (before the branch it hung from fell). After I moved to the city, my parents had to have that tree cut down because its frequently falling, rotting branches were a hazard to their grandchildren, my nephews. Then, I acquired a new favorite tree. This tree grew tall, somehow, through the asphalt of the parking lot and around a chain link fence. At my childhood home, there had been another childhood tree that the city made us cut down because it would soon have grown to be touching electric wires that hung next to our house (a small price for electricity to our home I suppose). But this new tree, this tree that had conquered rock and concrete and chain link, this tree had a trio of electrical wires penetrating right through its center and no one who dared order its destruction (and likely no one to defend its preservation should its destruction be ordered, for my landlords did not care for such things). This tree is my new favorite tree. I suppose, once I move, it too will be cut down and I will have to find a new tree.
READ THE REST IN PECULIAR VOLUME TWO, ISSUE TWO
1. It’s important to me that you know that I am completely content. I may be trying to do a lot of things that are difficult and it may be a struggle, but there is no discontent in this struggle. I realize I’m not exactly indicating unhappiness with anything I’m saying, but one might assume that I am unhappy, and that’s just not true.
Also, I recommend reading this story once with the endnotes and once without (the order doesn’t matter), but as the reader, you can do whatever you want.
2. When I first learned to drive, I used to get these foods from the Walmart deli all the time. This food, this disgusting processed food, was a symbol of my freedom. I was still a minor and living with my parents, but I had money and I had a car. I could choose what I wanted to eat and I could buy it. I stopped regularly buying this kind of food shortly after high school, but every now and then I still buy it, and it reminds me that I am free. I suppose I needed that after restricting myself so heavily. Of course, just because I’d been feeling restricted does not mean that I wasn’t completely content. Remember that. It’s important.
3. Weinerschnitzel always reminds me of my father. There are several fast food restaurants I almost never went to as a kid. Most of them are because my dad didn’t like them, so the whole family missed out (Burger King and Taco Bell come to mind—now they’re my two favorite fast food restaurants, though I don’t eat at them often because I am trying to be vegan and I am trying to be gluten-free and I am trying to be healthy). Weinerschnitzel was the one that we didn’t go to because my mom didn’t like it (and probably rightly so). The few times I ate there as a child were when it was just me and my dad, and it was usually while sitting in the front seat of his black pickup truck.
4. On Facebook.
5. On Hairy Dude Tube.
6. My boyfriend is at work, so I have the apartment to myself. I’m happy to have the space, but I’m also happy with our relationship. He’s happy too. We are two people who are completely content.
7. I don’t know that I should tell you what the movie is. I love it, but your reaction to my reaction to it might be altered if I tell you the title. People tend to either love or hate this movie. I’ll give you a hint. I’m watching it in October as a Halloween movie. Even though I think it’s very much a Halloween movie, I don’t know that most people would agree with me. It’s probably best if you just imagine it to be some generic beautiful movie you’ve never seen.
8. The trick is to cook them in the oven. I thought everyone did it this way, but I was recently ridiculed by my best friend for taking so much extra time by not just putting them in the microwave. He hates me for introducing him to the right way. Waiting is terrible.
9. It was probably sometime this summer. I haven’t smoked regularly (by “regularly” I mean a few times a week; I’m never a heavy smoker) since last Fall/Winter. Something about the season makes me want to smoke I guess. My partner thinks I haven’t smoked since before we met three years ago. We’re fine though. Completely content.
10. I could write an entire story about that fucking tree swing. There was a platform on one side of the tree. You couldn’t carry the swing up the ladder to the platform (it didn’t reach) someone had to throw it to you. This was good because it meant you always had someone with you. It kept you physically and socially safe. You also couldn’t get on the swing while still standing on the platform. You had to grab onto the rope, letting the wooden disc you sat on hang a couple feet in front of you, and then leap from the platform onto the swing. If you missed, you fell a good six feet. I fell frequently, but the threat of the fall was worth it, because if you made it you went flying forty feet to the other side of the tree, and then back again for several minutes. It taught you to be brave. I’d probably still be brave if I still had that tree swing. Now I’m just content.
There were birthday parties revolving around this swing. Years after the swing fell, neighbor kids that none of us recognized would occasionally knock on our door and ask if they could ride the swing. I was a damn happy kid.
11. The giant branch that held the swing fell when I was about ten years old. Branches falling when I was a child was not uncommon at all. I have really good parents.
12. By “such things,” I mean anything that involves anything to do with anything related to our apartment building. Which is fine, because it means we can have four cats even though we’re only allowed two. Hence us being completely content.
13. I have a second favorite tree as well. It is much smaller, only about ten feet tall. It’s next to a bus stop on campus. There’s nothing immediately special about it, but once it protected me and an armful of library books from the rain.