Yes folks, this is happening. I’m hittin’ the road starting this week!
Where to Von? I honestly don’t know. I’ve got gas, I’ve got maps, I’ve got information and communication technologies, and I have
a badge-wearing wingman to help drive and navigate.
Why are you doing this Von? Life-wise, I need some sparkly fresh brand new so I can feel the wow again. Creatively speaking, my writing is uninspired largely because I’ve deprived myself of Befindlichkeit, which is a big pretty German word for self-discovery. Discovery is tangible – what you experience with your senses within current time/space – but self-discovery requires a more metaphysical…event, let’s put it. I’m gonna position myself in physical places I’ve never been before, connect cosmically with what or whoever has a cosmic charge, and throw myself into uncertainty, allowing reactions to happen in whichever plane of existence that happens.
And no, I am not using any drug, natural or manufactured, in order to encourage these events forward. Clean and sober and open-minded. That’s how this is going down!
I will regularly post to this blog, at least to let you know I haven’t been slaughtered. Since I’ll be working off of WordPress for Android, my posts might be more Instagrammy than verbose; I’m sure you’ll understand. :)
I will tell you I’m not doing the Atlantic seaboard or New England; I’ve done that drive four times in the past ten years. Something fresh and new means in the guts of Merica! Maybe even up to oohhhhh Caaaannaaaddaaaahhhhhhh
This is Von Simeon, signing off, and leaving you with a sweet song to remember me by…
“You know what my dad calls this place?”
I look above and around the chinch hanging on the walls and between tables, leveling my eyes at the sight of wooden peg games on each table top. A myriad of names pop in my mind.
She laughs as she says it, “Honkey Bucket.”
I’m careful not to laugh too loud. “I will never UNknow that! Let your dad know I’m gonna use it.”
We’re both being sensible; eating as much meat product as possible. While she does the ham-bacon-sausage trifecta, I go for grilled catfish ‘n’ eggs. We discuss the benefits of packing food vs. stopping to eat where we go. “My plan is to save every dollar towards gas.” “Me too.” I tell her about hurricane sandwiches, where you take the whole loaf of bread out of the bag, dress with nonperishable, processed foods, then return all of it back into the bag, the idea being, you can survive a hurricane landfall with this bag ‘o’ food. Yes, the butts are their own sandwich, or you can give them to the dog.
I reach for my phone. “Let’s talk route.” As Google Maps activates, I watch her watch our server pour water into her glass. Just as I think, ‘ooh, there’s a side spigot on that pitcher,” she says, “Umm. That was Sprite.” I want to laugh, but the server’s expression indicates she’s kicking herself internally. “It’s okay,” we both say, and the server explains, “I just got here. Haven’t had my coffee. I’ll get you another cup.” She says, “I totally understand,” as the server whisks off.
I felt compelled to admit I’ve never been a server. Either I was the manager or I was in the kitchen. “Hard to hit the floor when you’re not ready,” I assume. She’s the opposite; she prefers service positions. “Yeah, but sometimes once you’re talking to people it wakes you up.” I nod. That’s why I was never on the floor. I hated dealing with people, but I loved telling them to go fuck themselves. That’s when I realize, this person is good for me. I need someone who is naturally friendly and compassionate who I have no sexual attraction to. We can compliment each other without complicating each other.
I swipe the screen to enter an address somewhere in the American Midwest. The blue ball indicating our current location shrinks as the image expands upward, displaying the green penis of Florida and the expanse of North America above it.
In an act of complete abandon, a huge leap of faith on my protective part, I position the screen towards her. “Pick our route.”
She tightens her face to scrutinize the options. “We’re taking our time?”
I’m amused as she rubs her chin, clearly putting much study to the North America map.
“Either 20 or 40 but west for sure.” I have done the Florida to New York drive too many times, sorry Atlantic seaboard. I want to see some new shit. I hope she wants to see the Grand Canyon.
She points to Louisiana, a certain city I’ve never hung out in, just driven through. “I can talk to her about staying the night.”
“That’s cool. Definitely save on getting a hotel. But we need that confirmed before we leave.”
She nods assuredly, “Oh that’s fine.”
“She needs to be cool with us showing up at 3 in the morning with a dog.”
“Oh that’s fine.”
The paranoid part of me is screaming, but I let her rock out. I have to do this; I have to resolve my crisis of faith, and it starts with trusting this person.
Neither one of us has the will to clean our plates. Maybe if we had smoked prior to brunch, but, oh well.
I lift our ticket from the center of the table. “Honkey Bucket’s on me.”
There should be more people out here than there is.
No matter, as the rental chariot of the day, one Ford Fiesta, slides into a parking space in front of Paradise Grill. Immediately the smell of salt rushes up my nose and through my skull, making the center of my scalp tingle.
Bob unloads, overexcited to be out of the house and in a public place. His black nose busies nudging bush branches as I and my proven co-captain journey towards the deck.
Bummer. The grill is closed.
We find my favorite two Adirondack chairs vacant over to the right. She pulls out her pack of smokes while I wrangle my dog to at least try to stay in the vicinity. I let go of his lead and let him visit with the people making the short climb up the side wall to reach the deck we’re on. Cloudy night makes the full moon a full smear up and to the left of us. The Gulf of Mexico lap lap laps in quick tempo as the tide shifts out. The water is a soft grey, perfectly reflecting the clouds above it, creating a silvery soft vortex opened only to us three, a portal of infinite possibility.
I sigh. “I wanted to do something to commemorate this day, but the grill is closed.” I smack my own forehead. “We drove right past that Circle K. I coulda stopped and picked up some beers before we made it down!” I stay looking at her. In her amiable style, she says, “No worries,” and I assume it’s because we still have a whole ‘nother cigarette to burn. I shimmy forward on my long seat and straighten up to announce, “Come on. Before we get comfortable. Everyone back to the car.”
The Circle K has a long faced woman working the counter tonight. This is such an important day, a successful day; today I got rid of that last bit of trash. Consciously amending my sobriety clause, I wind past the salty snacks and to the double door coolers.
We’re doing it. We’re gonna have an alcoholic beverage, because that’s what you do when you succeed; you raise a glass and you let yourself be giddy. My eyes scan the options and I frown. No Dos Equis.
There it is.
“If you’re gonna fall off the wagon, do it with Sam,” I proclaim as I lift the sixer off its shelf. That’s when I notice the wine case. Shoot! I saunter over and see it’s the bring-a-bottle-to-a-dinner-party variety. I figure one cannot go wrong with a Chateau St Michelle Riesling if it’s already chilled in the case. She grabs the bottle while I return the stock. “I think it’s a cork. Yeah, it’s a cork,” she says fiddling with the top. “We’re gonna need a bottle opener.”
“No we’re not, we still have the tool bag.” The tool bag. One of the things I told her to keep up with when we loaded the car. ‘Be familiar with this bag; it’s going on our trip.’ She pointed out I was missing needle-nosed pliers. Add to travel list.
“We have a flat head screwdriver and a hammer.” Over the top of the bottle she’s holding, I mimic the screwdriver in my left, the hammer in my right, and one focused hit to the head. “Bottle opener.”
Although we should probably add a corkscrew bottle opener to the tool bag. Add to travel list.
The twenty dollar bill in my wallet turned out to be a ten dollar bill, so back to the original plan. We head back to the beach; this time, over to the long bench overlooking the south part of the deck. The tide had carried out some more. I use my key chain opener to serve our beers. We toast to our great day, clink necks, and enjoy the deep amber…
[NOTE: Got big news for you, but why just blurt it out when I can make it a three-part reveal? :P Here's an attempt at flash NON-fiction...]
“The thing is, it’s been a long time since I traveled with anyone across the country. Thirty two states I’ve done completely on my own. But when I did have someone I could travel with, it was nice. I liked the company. That’s why I’m putting it out there; I need a wingman. A travel buddy. I figured since you’ve been trying to get out of town for awhile and you really don’t care where you’re going, as long as it’s outside Florida, I should give you a try, you know, see if you can really hang the way I need you to hang.”
She nods with understanding, then cranes her neck.
“You see, I have severe trust issues, like, SEVERE. I’m always the go-to person, the rely on person, the one who has to start and end the fights, you know…”
“The Protector type.”
“I can see that about you.”
“Well, I’m a practical person.”
Her order arrives but she’s not touching it. I float my left hand over her tray and insist, nonverbally, she start, but she waves me off, nonverbally saying, I can wait.
“You have to understand when I’m out on my own, I do whatever I want. I engage whoever I want. I plan to be in a state of constant discovery. If not discovering new places and scenery, then discovering how far over the edge can I push someone.”
Now that was a deliberate line because I want to see her reaction. Instead, she offers this:
“I can tell you’re the kind of person who does things within reason.”
“And if you can reason an action, you’ll do it.”
“Also yes. And I need you to go along with it, see? Something’s going down, I give you an instruction, there’s no time for discussion, you do it, you’re in, you’re out. Just like that.”
“Like, if I call your phone, you NEED to pick it up.”
“Right, because if we’re travelling together, what other reason can there be for you to call?”
“Exactly! And if I’m on the other end and I say, ‘go to the car, get the tire iron, bring it to me now!’ you gotta do it.”
Her face turns up, and she makes a half snarl, half sneeze expression to her right side.
“I’d come back with like, seven tire irons because I wouldn’t know which one you’d prefer.”
Left fist into right cupped hand signaled confidence in this proselyte possible progeny.
“Right! And if I only need one, you throw the rest!”
She stands and mimics one crazed urban ninja, tossing tire irons like shurikens.
My order is delivered to the table. The tattoo-sleeved, dark-haired, bearded fella would have been flirtable had I not caught the flatness of his ass.
I part my meal, she divvies hers, and we share plates across the table…
Three years ago, I discovered and fell in love with Chan Wook Park. Not familiar? He’s the director of Oldboy, Mr. Vengeance, and Lady Vengeance, a powerful revenge trilogy that I find, alongside many other movie fans, exemplifies the consummate redemption tale. Yes, I’m including Tarantino’s Kill Bill volumes, and you guys know how much I love Kill Bill.
Imagine my elation when I noted my Netflix queue was repopulated with Lady Vengeance! Hit A then A again on the Xbox controller aaand…
Love this movie. Gorgeously shot, beautiful sets, Vivaldi stitched into the operatic story, with a flash presentation that offered me several moments of, wow, I wasn’t ready for that! Here’s a director after my heart: he celebrates friendships and femininity amongst the criminally dispositioned as well as mocks the sensationalism of religion and the superficiality of broadcast media.
Powerful scenes abound in this movie, and they could only be conveyed by the strength of all the actors; I mean, everyone was invested in the wickedness of his or her role. The one scene where Geum-Ja is alone, smoking in the salon chair and laughing mad gave me an ohhh I’ve been there moment. There’s another scene with a dog licking the barrel of a gun, which forces you to wander into your dark self and confirm your position on the matter. And Jenny, oh boy. Jenny is SO the daughter I’d have if I’d let men make decisions for me. Not gonna get all meta about Lady Vengeance or the rest of the trilogy; I’m sure there’s plenty of blogs that have covered it all ad nauseum. I’m sharing with you why it matters to me.
Like any good artist, if you’re gonna approach a medium or a technique you’re not familiar with, you gotta study the masters. When I happened across Chan’s work, I was studying contemporary writing techniques, particularly this avant garde styling called “flash fiction.” Chan Wook-park helped style my work to relay intensity with grace. I applied it to my schooling, and the results, along with some nods to Chan, you’ll find in I Blew Up Juarez.
So are you for or against revenge? I now find revenge to be futile. It is a projection of righteousness and the dominion of absolutists who believe in Right and Wrong. Revenge is an aspect of emotion, and emotion is ruled by Ego. I strive to be ruled by Logic.
Have you executed revenge? Many moons ago and during the time when my ego defined my existence. Along with my art studies I picked up the works of Sun Tzu, Confucius and the Baghavad-Gita, and honed my living philosophy to attenuate the rationale for revenge. Now I find it ephemeral, pleasing only to the ego, like a one-night stand or the last cigarette in your pack. Once it’s done it’s done and you’re left empty and wanting, so why bother?
However, I understand revenge. I sympathize with those who have also committed revenge. Artistically, I absolutely plan to exact a revenge tale in the other Johnny books. I can’t deny how enjoyable a solidly executed redemption tale is to read or watch.
Growing up, it was simple: “Are you American?”
If you weren’t American, the next question was, “What are you doing on our base?” If we didn’t like your rationale, we took our American liberty to whoop your ass.
If you were American, the next question was, “What base you from?” To which, you’d want to offer a city we liked, else we whooped your ass.
See? Simple living.
I didn’t grow up with the tendency to cubby-hole all the social interactions I have, like insular Americans (what I call Americans who have ONLY lived in the United States) put in full practice in their modern living. The working vernacular is “marginalization.” That’s defining your comfort with a person based on how they appear, what color they are shaded, how they smell, and which socially acceptable attributes they display.
Because it is not natural for me to pronounce my race/sex/ethnicity/nationality/sexuality/etceteraetcetera, I don’t do it with my art. You don’t see emblazoned across my website banner VON SIMEON – ULTRA-BLACKTINO NON-NATIVE WOMAN WITH SEXUAL TENDENCIES YOUR PARENTS DISAPPROVE OF… I mean, honestly, that’d be a busy header! Instead, I go with Plato, Socrates, and Cato: Von Simeon – what I do, thus what I am/who am I to others without intention/where my mind is when affected by society. Nice ‘n’ Neat.
I promised myself when I released my novel, I would not campaign with an adjective before the word ‘author.’ I am merely that – the author of my book. The last two months I did decent with general sales but absymal in representing my work without getting forced into a social cubby-hole. I received derogatory statements regarding my sex, my race, my ethnicity, and those statements then erroneously defined the quality of my book.
Bookstore owners demonstrated the same abject marginalization. There was an opportunity for I Blew Up Juarez to be featured in one of Tampa Bay’s [adjective] bookstores. According to the bookstore owner, she is well connected in her sub-population and felt her endorsement for my work would be a step up in the [adjective] reading community. A bystander to our convo in her store looked me straight in the face and pronounced, “We need to support all [adjective] authors”, then provided a heavy nod to indicate insistence, or maybe because he summitted that soapbox too quickly? To which I blinked my large brown eyes to him and replied, “Thank you for that, I have copies in my car, would you like to purchase one?” The bookstore owner looked at him, and he said, “I wasn’t prepared to purchase a book today.” Ah. Yet you’re in a bookstore…for…?
Like so many other [adjectives], everyone’s ready to politick about what should be done, but no one necessarily wants to be the one to take action. I retrieved my review copy of I Blew Up Juarez from her last week; I didn’t care to play to grandstanding, even if they are my “people.”
Don’t get me wrong, there are some hilarious moments. I gave you some negative examples, but my common exchanges are mellow; if anything, people tend to react much like Brian does at the dinner table:
Hands steepled, staring intently towards the wall, I too, assumed the form of our beloved high functioning sociopath as I mulled over what went wrong.
Wrong, wrong, did it go wrong? Is it wrong? What’s wrong? Could it be not wrong? Nothing wrong? What’s wrong? Is it wrong? Did it go wrong? Wrong!
You get it. It’s ART. Like an Escher tessellation, stare at it too long and you’ll see something different entirely. And when it’s completed art, you definitely cannot revisit it. It’s out there. It’s DONE. To analyze after the fact is bad juu juu.
But what if it’s wrong?
Here’s what I decided to do…
Book’s been out officially since 4 April, that makes 80 days as of this post date. Technically, I’m coming premature on my decision, but, (this the part where I release the steeple to point the definitive index finger) fuck it, it’s my book.
What had happened was, ([CHORUS]: And then, riiight!) I went through a publisher to release I Blew Up Juarez. In the T minus 1 hour of wrapping up production, right at the all-systems-go point, she decides not to associate with this work. Demonstrating complete lack of professionalism, she wanted her company logo emblazoned across the cover artwork, and I said no, so she got butthurt and pulled out. Infuriating, considering I compromised artistic license, time, and patience to meet the publisher’s needs.
Since it’s release, my astute readers are pointing out the wide, gaping hole in the lemniscate-like track that is this fast paced story, a true sin in the literary world: you do NOT introduce a character without validating his/her purpose. This is Composition 1000, and I’m looking terrible! The fifteen chapters omitted during production were initially agreed to be more for Book 3 than this book, that’s why they were out, but she should’ve caught the dangling character.
Technically it’s the publisher’s fault but since now I am the publisher, well, I’m making an executive decision.
…I shall publish an epilogue to I Blew Up Juarez for release this holiday season. With my impeccable discipline and (hopefully) people leaving me the fuck alone while I work, the fifteen chapters that were omitted in the story will be provided in full splendor, and, with deft styling, will bridge Book 2 to Book 3 handsomely.
*SIGH* Now that feels right.
And here’s the gift that keeps on giving: all of you who have purchased a copy of I Blew Up Juarez from me since its release to today (Eastern Standard Time, don’t get cheeky) will get [WT]The Epilogue FOR FREE! Why? Because you fuckin’ rock.
And now we DANCE!
This morning’s dream I was revisiting one of the locations where I was sourcing data for my Penn State University graduate research. What played back was the moment I visited with an informant, an octogenarian, a lifetime resident of the town, and his face when I entered his living room. He was standing, but you could tell it was difficult for him to remain standing, so I insisted we sit after he clasped my hand in greeting. You could tell his wife at this stage in their marriage had succumbed to full-time care-taking, as she shook her head at him and told him to stop staring. But his face, dear reader, it was the most awesome face I’ve ever observed! His blue eyes were wide and brilliant, the lines around them were lifted, his smile was half mooned and fixed in awe. Although his skin was liver splotched and Northern Tier pale, there was a glow. I’ve never experienced such genuine appreciation for my presence, and I doubt I ever will again. The glow, his glow, was what woke me up this morning, necessary after quite a tumultuous week.
So I was motivated to look up Ye Olde Thesis, the first work I published as an adult. Mom has a hardback copy, the other, for whatever reason, my ex insisted on keeping. But it is a public work, and accessible on the Webby Web, and if you are in need of a Dostoevsky-esque work to help you get to sleep, feel free to download: https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/paper/8320/
Appendix C has all the phenomenological aspects of my research experience, but my fave part is the thesis conclusion. I’ve cut and pasted it for you here, and bear in mind, this was my mindset seven years ago as of this post. My writing style is much sharper and I’m less idealistic, but the question, Can communication technology bring communities together? is still very much fresh in my mind:
I don’t consider this research as “work”. It is and ultimately this is merely
data collection. But for me, this thesis is insight to the rural way of life, the
culture of PA and an overall validation that I’m doing my part to positively
contribute to a rural dweller’s well-being.
I kept a thesis journal the entire time at Penn State University. When it
came time to prepare this reflection, I sat and read all my entries. It was
humorous and insightful and depressing all at the same time. I found the entry
that described this idea about communication technology and its impact on
society. To read it now after the research experience is humbling. Where my
mind was at then and where my mind is now is the same, except now I can run
my mouth and use science to back it up!
I close this thesis with the actual journal
May 20, 2007: Discovery. I haven’t really accomplished a damn
thing in the realm of this MS other than realizing how frightened I
am of people that are genuinely smarter than me. As much as I
avoid competition I find that it’s essential in order to get things
done around here.
I’ve whined and moped enough. Feigned interest and appreciation
enough. There’s plenty of people leaving this institution that truly
deserve the degrees they are awarded. I, on the other hand, am
sitting here waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Let’s face it: the two things you are good at is 1) telling people what
to do and 2) running your mouth as if you know what you’re talking
about. How transparent do you want to continue to be?
What do I like? I like the way I was raised; amongst different
groups of people within a very isolated community. I like to
interface with people, and I seek out those that have something
strikingly different about them. I like to fix things and situations
because I tend to be the one in the room least likely to panic. I want
to help. I always want to help, to the point where I sacrifice my
efforts for the greater good.
I’m a fan of technology related to communication. The Internet,
cell phones, GPS, GIS; it’s all useful. I don’t care to know how it
works; not anymore anyways. But I have this notion that of all
technological advancements afforded to us, communication
technology has helped a good majority of us to connect with one
So can communication technology bring communities together? I
think of how I grew up on base and had to correspond via letters
and anxiously wait for a response. I listened to local radio stations
and we watched European and AFN channels on TV. Now, with the
advancements in technology, the means of communicating have
garnered a quicker response time and have brought separated lives
much more closer [sic], even if in all dimensions except physical.
I figure that I’ve learned more about rural communities to respect
them and to certify that these areas are enriched by many aspects.
I think by investing in rural communities, by making communication
technology more assessable, community and economic growth can
But of course, what is most cherished about these neighborhoods is
that there is low reliance on mechanisms that speed processes
along. Even in that one reading where the guy had to invest in
another phone line since his ordering system was upgraded by his
distributor, people are really ambivalent of investing in anything
that changes their way of life. So how do you “sell” communication
technology in a tradition-heavy, low maintenance community? Will
the investments benefit a few? How will local government and
businesses assist in this investment? What would it do to a
I feel that collaboration has proved in many dimensions the
capability of people to change for the greater good. I think people
that dwell in rural areas are afraid of what they do not know, and
naturally shy away from strange technology. We also are
experiencing a population aging and thus contributing to the local
economy by lesser and lesser means.
Communities that have similar issues but are only limited by
distance can develop a grass-roots e-organization with the ability to
talk to each other on how to manage similar problems. I think
about the distances that female Australian farmers travel just so
they can carry dialogue and not feel so alone in the world given
their regional isolation. We need to know that we aren’t alone in
this big world. We can shatter barriers by promoting dialogue
across shoulders without the stigmas of physical features. And I
think when people are given an opportunity to learn from one
another without working thru a middle man (like extension offices
or government agencies) we feel a sense of empowerment and
capability. And from there, anything seems possible. And
communication tools like the Internet can help.
That sounds about right. –IMES