Let us forget for a moment the solipsism at work in cataloguing the obsessions in one’s oeuvre — particularly when said oeuvre is severely limited — or that cataloguing things in general comes with it the implication the cataloger has way too much time on their hands. Or let us not forget, because cataloguing this kind of shit is so much fun (!) and allows us to examine a defining aspect of literary and human history: the gone and the ongoing. From sadism and retifism to nymphomania and satyriasis and everything in-between and seemingly unrelated, writers who have made art of their obsessions have driven me to mine my own. And to be clear (which I’m rarely ever; purposefully), my writing is practically a compendium of my various and varied obsessions. This means discovering them is not exactly a needle-in-a-haystack proposition.
The truth is that I’ve tried to avoid referencing my own work here (or at least not deal directly with it) because I’d hoped that it might speak for itself. However, hope is a silly, clingy thing. So let us forget forgetting and talk about me.
1. Let’s talk about polka-dot panties: I cannot rightly pinpoint the moment polka-dots became a “thing” for me, nor can I truly explain their allure. But if explication is totally necessary, the first bullshitty thing that comes to mind is the female body covered by the female body aesthetic. See, polka-dots are circles and circles have curves. Women are not circles but they do have curves. Curves on curves. Mmmm. Simple but pseudo-intellectual enough to make me feel smart. It’s okay to laugh. I am too.
“I closed my eyes, all I could see were her polka-dot panties and the stray hairs that would peek out from the elastic that shrouded her pudendum.” – from One Fat Englishman; I Fuck Everything
Not my proudest sentence. Word insists a semi-colon and not a comma should separate eyes and all. Word is right. But when you’re thinking with the head in your pants and not the one on your neck, OEN HNADED TPYING is king of all. It’s really bothering me. My high school English teacher is red faced rubbing the back of his neck. “Help me understand…”
2. Let’s talk about vomiting: Usually I associate vomiting with binge drinking because it’s the only time I vomit. Nothing glamorous or sexy (outside of fetishizing it) about that, but I certainly give it the old college try!
“I held her hair back as she apologized through heaves of vomit.” – from One Fat Englishman; I Fuck Everything
Ah yes, the embarrassing cliché of a woman who can’t handle her swill and the chivalrous man rescuing her most treasured asset. I don’t think I can mansplain away the misogyny at play here, but I can admit it might’ve been funnier had the narrator let her puke all over her hair. It’s another sentence that could’ve been worded better or differently. I’m getting kind of angry at this.
3. Let’s talk about CISCO, that most glorious of bum wines: At the time I wrote these stories,
I was poor and good Irish whiskey was an alcoholic dream-of-dreams. So the best way to get blotto for peanuts was this sickly-sweet shit. My buddy Adam Strange and I used to wax hopefully about someday doing CISCO sponsored readings and being awarded lifetime supplies of it. It probably won’t happen, but CISCO reps; if you guys are reading, HMU.
“[…] and drank more Cisco which tasted like grapes and liquor.” – from I Am Not Unfond of Assymetry…
At this point I’m starting to question the wisdom of decontextualizing my sentences. It’s rather embarrassing. Anyway… grapes and liquor. If you take the alcohol away from grapes, they’re too sweet for me and leave a waxy residue in my mouth, so whatever romantic notions of being fed grapes while reclined on a divan lack punch for me. I much prefer getting loaded on Cisco and fooling around on the floor in a dim lit room.
4. Let’s talk about foreign languages: Growing up in Texas, I was exposed to Spanish at a young age. Throughout the years I’ve displayed varying levels of fluency, but the real drop-off was when I decided to focus on learning Portuguese. I was so driven to learn a language I had no real need for that I just couldn’t keep up with Spanish anymore. Surprising fact, perhaps, because the two languages are so deceptively similar. Inveterate dabbling: is it unbelievably pretentious? You bet. Indicative of a privileged position? Yup.
“I sighed with relief saying, Meu Deus, SIM! Finalmente meu amor, você chegou! – from Houdini
How Nabokovian! The narrator is so pert and worldly! The absurdity at play in comparing anything I’ve written to one of the literary masters is not lost on me. What I’m highlighting here is that I’m not married to any notions of purity in language. I don’t believe mixing phrases and idioms from other languages devalue my primary language (nor does it necessarily enhance in my case). I don’t adhere to any Orwellian standards of the word.
In conversation, I’m obsessed with code-switching. When I hear bi or multi-linguists converse, my ears perk with excitement because I can’t wait to hear them replace words with other words more comfortable or familiar to them.
5. Let’s talk about masturbation: This is probably the most recurring theme throughout the collection. From an outsider’s view, these stories are either evidence of my strong sexuality or an illumination to the contrary. Admittedly, there’s not a lot of intercourse in my life, so the hand benefits.
“[…] I debated whether I should join my fellow Dionysian devotees or if I should masturbate at the electronic altar of this beauty.” – from One Fat Englishman; I Fuck Everything
There are six stories, and yet, three of my five obsessions catalogued here appear in one story. It’s not my favorite story nor is it the strongest in the collection, but it speaks to probably one of the most regretted times in my life. I was away at college and I spent more time being depressed and lonely, spending whatever snatches of privacy I had masturbating to internet porn as opposed to studying or placing myself in meaningful social situations. Sure, I made friends and had fun, but I was always excited about getting some time alone with my hand and the image fetishized and dehumanized. Or something. Don’t get me wrong. I love porn.