What follows is another chunk of the story that I abandoned. Be nice, please.Continue reading “It Starts with Butts #2”
What follows is a smaller section from a story that I had to abandon. Be nice, please, and thank you for reading!
Lena Cage hailed from a long line of people who owned, grew, and operated great butts. While it may seem a rather ribald detail to offer about someone, it is in fact that truth.
The butts that composed the Cage family operated healthfully in the normal fashion.
They provided ample cushioning when sat upon.
They passed waste like champion derrieres.
They provided hours of amusement including but not limited to: slapping, pinching, poking, farting, farting on ill-natured people, and consensual acts of sodomy (between peoples of appropriate ages) after the Supreme Court ruled the anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional in 2004.
At present, Lena’s bum was rather tender.
She had been in car for some time with her mother and brother. They had been collecting and organizing a caravan to Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in North Olmsted.
Today was the day that they were going to inter Lena’s father.
They had just picked up Lena’s grandmother, her mother’s mother, and were on there way to pick up an Aunt that Lena never had anything to do with who lived close by the cemetery.
“You know, there’s still time to give the Old Man a proper Viking funeral… You know: light him on fire and let the birds pick over what’s left from the pyre” Lena said.
Her brother chuckled.
Mom didn’t say anything. She looked like she was having a hard enough time piloting the car.
Granny clucked her tongue in disapproval as she tried to mortar her ass around from the front passenger seat to properly give Lena the skunk-eye.
Ever since Lena was a small child, she could not figure out the point of funerals. She understood that people die on a regular basis. But what the actual point of getting a bunch of people together in a poorly decorated room to cry over the absence of someone they loved escaped her even today. It didn’t produce immediate closure. It didn’t make sense.
The closest that Lena ever got to solving this mystery of life was when she realized that people on a very large scale, are selfish.
They want things. They want what the advertisers (regardless of where they see the advertisements) tell them that they want. They want what their neighbors have. They want what other family members have, even if it is something that is a part of the person’s personality.
With funerals, people are selfish because they seemingly want to feel miserable about missing the recently deceased.
Why else would funeral homes still be in business?
In most cultures even today there is no ‘big ceremony’.
In certain areas of India along the Ganges, it takes time before the body of a deceased family member is disposed of properly.
In Tibet, the body of the deceased is taken to a mountaintop where it will eventually become fodder for the birds and other animals. The beautiful part about this was that this practice was commonly referred to as a ‘sky burial’.
When she was in high school, Lena read about the life of Korean families during the time of the Korean War.
Since most families were poor, they typically stayed together. That is, they didn’t separate like American families when a child becomes a legal adult. When there was a birth in a Korean family, the oldest member of the family would take a jug of water and go down to the banks of the local river and wait to die.
Lena saw that there was a beautiful kind of poetry in the idea of the oldest member of a family sacrificing (for lack of a better word) their own life so that the youngest, newest member of a family could have a solid chance.
Still in the process of mortaring her ass so she could give Lena her what-for’s, Lena couldn’t help but compare this ideal to the life that her Grandmother has led thus far.
By all accounts, Grandma was a nice person. To people outside of the family, she would be pleasant, engaging, and hospitable even.
To people who were family, who knew how she was and what she had been through, she would continue to uphold the facade that she would for outsiders but there was always an underlying tone in her voice that would convey that Grandma didn’t give a shit about anything else other than the next family get-together and if everyone, even the really distant relations, was going to be there.
As the years bore on, Granny’s attitude worsened.
Retired, and with nothing to do, Grandma sat around feeling like a privileged senior citizen.
She came from the point in time when you worked at a job you hated so that you could support your family and so that you could eventually retire from the very job you hated. What the people of her generation failed to realize is that you needed to be active. You needed to be mentally engaged. If you weren’t, everything atrophied: Inside of your body and outside of it as well.
As much as it pained her to admit this, Lena couldn’t fault the woman for how she turned out to be.
Lena’s grandmother came from a time when women were responsible for the children, the house and everything that has to do with it and above all else, the happiness of the husband.
Lena could never understand why most women of that day and age accepted that kind of life.
‘Its practically stone age thinking’, Lena thought to herself.
Ever since Lena could walk, her parents knew that she was an independent spirit.
Since Lena’s first day of school, she knew that she, and she alone was responsible for her own happiness. The idea that it was the woman’s job, the woman’s place in life, to make sure that her husband was happy (instead of the husband being smart enough, being man enough, to be in charge of his own happiness) lest she get beaten for doing a poor job of any of it, raised Lena’s hackle’s.
Lena knew that her Grandmother had suffered that fate for a long time. Her grandfather was dead long before Lena had been born. Lena could only imagine what he would have thought of her should he had been alive during her time.
Regardless of her Grandmother’s personal history, Lena couldn’t help but cringe at the idea that she shares the same genes as this person. Here’s a woman that is in the winter of her life. When she retired, she sat on her ass so much her legs atrophied nearly to the point of complete uselessness, and then she decided to go out and get a job.
Just so that she could have something to do. But that wasn’t enough for Grandmother. Eventually, she retired from that job and with nothing else to do, she became the Matron of her family that no one wanted her to be.
It borders on the point of ridiculousness. If Lena isn’t on her A-game at family functions, she’ll get cornered by her Grandmother and will have to suffer through the endless one-way conversation slog about cousins and distant relations that Lena never gave a shit.
Granny had succeeded in turning around so that she could properly give her granddaughter the nasty look that the ‘Viking’ comment had merited.
Looking at her Grandmother, Lena tried to force her facial muscles into something of a smile. She was out of practice. She hadn’t done much of it since her father had passed away.
“This woman would never take the jug of water and sit down by the river waiting for Death”, Lena hissed to her brother.
What follows is a section from a longer, abandoned story. Be nice, please.
At no one point in his life did Edward Roache ever contemplate getting stabbed in the ass.
But it happened.
And it fucking hurt.
Edward was a quiet young man. He often blamed his parents for that.
Prior to Edward’s birth, his parents had been married for quite some time. At his mother’s behest, Ed Sr. got on board with the idea of having a child regardless of the fact that they were in their late 30’s at the time.
Given the Roache’s rapidly advancing age, Ed was their only heir.
Edward’s singularity, combined with the fact that they didn’t live in a neighborhood brimming with children that young Ed could play with, coupled with the fact that older, first-time parents seldom realize what they have fully gotten themselves into, did not provide Ed with the oral ferocity that most people from his generation are armed with.
Midway through Edward’s formative years, Mrs. Roache saw fit to remove herself from the lives of her two Edwards. Since Edward’s birth, Esme Roach had been nursing the thought that being a parent, for her, was a mistake.
She loved both of them. She really did. But she couldn’t reconcile the fact that her peers, other women her age, were enjoying their lives. While there are some enjoyable aspects of being a parent and raising a child, Esme couldn’t convince herself that the work that needed to be put into being a passable parent was the reward that she was looking for.
So she left.
Ed Sr. did the best that he could do. This was no small feat considering the fact that Ed Sr. never had a father of his own. His parents, (Ed Jr.’s grandparents) had divorced when Ed Sr. was very young. This was before divorce had become as commonplace as it is today. Combine that with the fact that he hailed from a point in time where men didn’t really have anything to do with their own children (because it was considered ‘the woman’s job’) and you have a middle aged man trying to complete a marathon when he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
What no one realized at the time was the fact that his parents put Edward on a slippery slope. When a family goes through a trauma like divorce, children either shut down and wait for the dust to settle or they act out because they don’t truly understand what is going on.
In Ed’s case, it was the former.
Ed didn’t mind being ‘the quiet one’.
Everyone else outside of the Roache family thought otherwise.
Edward could come across as cold, intimidating, and sometimes rude, all by keeping his mouth shut. It didn’t matter how many times he assured people that everything was fine, that he enjoyed listening to them talk (for the most part), that he just didn’t like talking. Everyone, at some point, left Edward alone and moved on to someone more ‘entertaining’.
That is not to say that Edward’s life was the life of a hermit. There were a few friends here and there that stuck by him and that he opened up to even if it did take him years to do so. There was even “a” girlfriend for a very brief period of time.
As a teen, the one thing that sucked for Edward the most about being raised by his father was the loneliness.
Everything changes when you are a teenager. Your outlook on the idea of family and how you look at your family, how you see the world and your place in it: for teenagers, it’s really easy to get sucked into those handful of moments that make you feel like a drop of ink in a bowl of milk.
What all teens fail to realize is that the real trick lies in knowing that it’s going to be ok.
Everything will be fine.
Friends are going to come and go. It’s ok to have a lot of them.
Life is change. It can’t be avoided for long.
If there were one insight that Edward had wished his parents imparted on him at that time of his life, it would have been that.
Now in his 20’s, Ed realized that his struggle with the idea of change was his cross to bear.
As he grew up, Ed was never able to shake the feeling that his mother left because she couldn’t love anyone more than she loved herself. She had enjoyed her moments with Edward when it was her weekend to have him. But that enjoyment was usually dwarfed by her moments of unbelievable self-centeredness.
The last time that he saw her, she had made mention about the day that she found out that she was pregnant with him. She was at the doctor’s office and the nurse who was examining Esme offered her the ‘morning-after’ pill.
“Why didn’t you take it?” Ed asked as a vague feeling of numbness crept up on him.
Shame and a slight twinge of regret flitted across Esme’s face.
“I thought about it, but I couldn’t do it. I wanted to be a mom”, she told him.
That was the last time that they had talked. It’s been over a year. He found an odd sort of comfort in the fact that he was nearly an abortion.
Blind as most twenty-something’s are, Ed didn’t realize until years later that there were traces of his mother present in every female that he was romantically linked with.
The last relationship that Edward was in started at college.
It was the 2nd semester of his first year. Rebecca was outside with a bunch of her friends, one of whom Ed had gone to grade school with. Everyone was smoking. Back then it was still considered fashionable to be an angst-ridden 20-something with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth.
Ed was smitten with Rebecca before he had lit his first cigarette.
She was short, had a head full of teeth, and a type of feminine confidence that he had never encountered before.
Rebecca became a substitute for the hole in his life that his parent’s had never bothered to patch.
Ed did everything in his power to be a part of this young woman’s life: emailing, instant messaging, calling, practically stalking… It was pathetic. What he didn’t realize until it was too late was that he was trying to make someone love him who didn’t want to love him.
This occupied 2 years of Ed Roache’s life.
Ed knew he was working way too hard and getting nowhere. He couldn’t help himself.
Rebecca saw this but she didn’t want to decide how she really felt about him.
Eventually, they both agreed to just be friends.
After some time, ‘Friends’ became ‘friends with benefits’.
‘Friends with benefits’, finally, gave way to being a ‘couple’.
Ed’s happiness knew no bounds. He finally got ‘the girl’. He accomplished the one thing that he had invested a significant portion of his life in. Ironically, his accomplishment was awarded to him as soon as he stopped trying.
Ed should have known that things were wrong when she told him that their relationship had to be secret. At the time, she was still living with her parents. She had just gotten out of a relationship and her parents would never let her live it down if they had found out.
“What’s the big deal about that?” Ed asked.
“I have a habit of relationship-hopping,” she admitted.
Like the big, dumb, idiot Ed was, he allowed it. The satisfaction in knowing that they belonged to each other was enough for him, even if they did have to hide it.
In all romantic relationships, there is a certain level of OCD that permeates the first couple of months. For the first couple of months, the only thing that matters is being with the other person. Responsibilities? Those can wait. Outside interests? The only thing that is interesting is the other person. Living for your self? How can you live at all without them?
Eventually, that initial obsession wears off allowing reality to set in. Reality officially takes hold when you finally see all of the things, even the shortcomings, you had missed from the very start.
What Ed didn’t see at first was that Rebecca treated him like garbage. Oogling other guys in front of him, always hanging out with her friends and never his, never showing an interest in the things that Ed was interested in: it was bad.
On top of that, they never had sex.
They did the normal things that boys and girls learn to do to each other in high school but it never progressed past that because she was a virgin who was saving herself for marriage as dictated by her faith (that being Catholic).
Hindsight has shown Edward that Rebecca’s virginity was part of her allure. She was vocal about it. She was not ashamed. And it was something that most definitely would not leave her until marriage.
This is not to say that Edward thought that he could change that.
Every person currently on the face of the Earth relishes being a ‘virginity thief’. At some point, every one has been a part of such thievery. Edward is no exception to this.
It took Edward the better part of a year to see his relationship with Rebecca for what it was: a thing that shouldn’t have happened.
It wasn’t until their first Christmas as a couple that Edward realized just how miserable Rebecca was.
She didn’t know what to do with her life and she didn’t know how to deal with the fact that she was legally ‘a grown up’. Like most twenty-year-olds who are too chicken-shit to acknowledge that they are their own problem, Rebecca responded to her own inadequacy by taking her frustrations out on the people around her.
Ed had been taking the brunt of her emotional turmoil for fear that she would stop loving him.
Ed became thoroughly sick of her shit shortly after the New Year.
So he made up his mind to break it off with her.
After returning home from breaking up with Rebecca, the person that he had spent a significant portion of his life chasing, Ed climbed the flight of stairs that led to his bedroom.
It was late.
Ed Sr. was all ready asleep.
Ed was greeted by their boxer, Crankshaft.
Ed’s mind was reasonably elsewhere.
As he tiptoed up the stairs to his bedroom, his eyes drifted naturally towards the ankle-high laundry chute door just outside the door to his room.
Thoughts began to float across his mind. The days of when he was a lonely child who used to tie twine around his G.I. Joe’s and have them jump down the shoot, the other end tied to the handle of the metal shoot door… using the chute as an echo chamber to distort his voice… hollering down it to communicate with someone in the basement… All of these memories bubbled to the surface.
For as lonely a child as he was, he was pretty happy.
At the top of the stairs now, Ed caught site of Crankshaft, as he was about to go into his room for the night.
Ed looked at the dog.
Crankshaft looked back at him like he knew what was wrong.
Ed really needed a hug.
“Come here, Cranky” Ed whispered.
The dog dutifully obliged.
When the dog got to the top of the landing, Ed proceeded to squat down, and felt the corner of the cold metal of the laundry chute door bite into his left ass cheek.
Trying not to knock the two of them down the stairs, Ed hugged the dog, went into his room, and laughed himself to sleep.
Here lies the very first article that I wrote for an online publication. The original article can be found here.
On Saturday September 17th and Sunday, September 18th, Tremont will be hosting their 13th annual arts and cultural festival at Lincoln Park. The park is located at 1208 Starkweather Avenue. Saturday the Festival starts at 11am and ends at 6pm. Sunday the festivities begin at 12pm and end at 5pm.
According to the Tremont West Development Corporation web site, “The mission of the Festival is to celebrate the cultural and artistic diversity of Tremont and Greater Cleveland by encouraging the artistic and cultural endeavors of its visual and performing artists”.
What you can expect is food, music, dance and poetry performances, art your children can participate in as well as art that you can purchase.
On the surface, it may seem that the goal of this festival is to raise money solely through merchandising. This is not the case. After speaking with Festival Manager Scott Rosenstein I learned about the beginnings and overall intent of this festival.
In September of 1999, Rosenstein, along with several other residents, (notably Jean Brandt, founder of the Brandt Gallery, Tremont’s longest running art gallery) started this grass roots promotion of area artists.
When questioned about the popularity of the festival over the past 13 years, Rosenstein feels that he is subjectively pious. Folks really look forward to it and Artists reactions to it have been favorable. Many of them have participated multiple times. This is with good reason, too. It is standard procedure for the artists to submit a survey regarding their experience in the festival. Over the past two years, well more than half of the artists have had positive experiences with the park layout, the amount of sales they have made and the level of help they have received from the event staff.
Speaking as a former resident, I have often wondered what it was that attracted artists to Tremont.
Initially, I thought that it was the churches. It’s the first thing that even a casual observer would notice. There are a lot of churches in this neighborhood. It doesn’t even matter which direction you from. I-71, I-90, I-490… All of them have a church within view. According to “Cleveland on Foot” by Patience Hoskins, there are 25 multi-denominational churches within 1 square mile of this neighborhood.
After speaking with Mr. Rosenstein as well as doing some research of my own, I have come to the conclusion that it is the combination of the religious presence of the area as well as the history of Tremont.
Take the site of this weekends festival, Lincoln Park, for example. In 1850, Mrs. Thirsa Pelton originally bought the site with the intention of opening a girl’s school. Unfortunately, she died before the school could be built. As a result, her heirs surrounded the park with a fence and locked the gates. In response to this action, Tremont residents repeatedly tore the fence down because they felt that this was an area that should be open to the public. Bitter litigation ensued further resulting in the city’s purchase of the park. The residents celebrated the opening of Pelton Park on July 4, 1880 with a barbecue and additional festivities. It wasn’t until 1896 that the park was renamed Lincoln Park.
The history of this community runs deeper than most people, locals included, seem to realize.
The original settlers of the neighborhood we now know as Tremont hailed from New England. These people were economically better off than most and they were in search of an area outside of downtown Cleveland to build their homes. They settled in Tremont in 1818.
In 1851, these same settlers, through a remarkably nebulous set of circumstances, decided that the area known as present-day Tremont would be the future site of Cleveland University. Initially, classes began in an off-site location due to the fact that the future of the school depended on said proposed site. It was the intent that this area was to be named University Heights. Hence, the names of the streets like Literary, Professor, College, etc.
After a full year of operation resulting in the awarding of 8 degrees, attendance declined rapidly during the fall of 1852. By 1853, the idea of Cleveland’s first university was abandoned. Supposedly this was the result of a personality clash between members of the board of trustees.
8 years later, the Civil War started.
While it’s fairly obvious where the war occurred very few people realize that Cleveland was the site of one of the largest Civil War camps. In July of 1862, Camp Cleveland was organized and located in the area that is presently known as W. 5th, W. 7th, Railway Avenue and Marquardt Ave. For three years, the camp housed visiting units, confederate prisoners, and served as the training ground for 15,230 officers. The camp closed shortly after the end of the war in August of 1865.
Facts like these seem to be easily kicked to the side when it comes to the rejuvenation of a local area. While it is good on many levels that this sort of rejuvenation happens, people become more concerned about the trend that a local area produces as opposed to the history of that area.
There really is no happy balance between the two.
Personally, I think it has to do with the fact that a lot of us had to suffer some very terrible history teachers throughout our formal education. We’ve been conditioned on some level to think that history is boring.
History isn’t boring. It, like everything else in life, is what you make of it.
Tremont is a testament to this.
With its flourishing restaurant scene, the economical growth that has been stimulated by shopping area known as Steelyard Commons, and its budding art scene, Tremont is well on its way to being a hotbed of Culture in Cleveland.
The following was an article that I wrote for an online publication. The original article can be found here.