Author archive for Peyton

Poor Little Me 4

Poor Little Me 4

Other people must sleep well. They must, because the world keeps functioning with some kind of steady rightness.

I don’t sleep well.  Or, that is to say, not since a time before my memory of any sleep I have ever had. My memory of my past life is not very good. That may seem like a dramatically fictional statement, but what I mean by it is for more pedestrian. I simply have never had a very good memory for my own life. From what I can tell, it is hardly unusual for people to have foggy memories of their childhood. However, even at a young age I distinctly recall being unable to remember anything from a few years before. Even now, I feel my college years begin to slip away from me, just as I felt high slip away in college.

The earliest that I remember being obsessed with how poorly I slept was middle school. Even then, the memory is a palimpsest; a story told to a person told to a person, although the person was always me. You begin to buy your own fictions.

It never stopped. I know many people have trouble sleeping as teenagers, but it never stopped. I wake up tired every morning. I have woken up tired every morning since the beginning of time, as I reckon it. When I do wake up. When I haven’t been up all night.

Drinking helps.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the inability to sleep well is not principally horrific because it makes you tired. Its central horror is that it turns every day into wondering when you will get to sleep again. Spending your time waiting for the next time you will be asleep is a select kind of hell. Being unable to give a complete shit about the life around you because you can’t wait to be unconscious again saps what I can only imagine is a great deal of pleasure out of life. We reserve a special pity for those in comas, caught in a kind of limbo between life and death…but I spend my waking life dreaming of that limbo.

I can’t take satisfying naps. I can only fall asleep in the middle of the day for obscene periods of time that leave me feeling painful and unrefreshed.

The cliche bemoans us spending a third of our life asleep. Given the option in times of unemployment, I have spend as much as half the day (really, as much as two-thirds of the day) in bed, indulging in fitful and disappointing orgasms of sleep.

I don’t dream of a better waking life — indeed, I rarely dream. I daydream of a dark and dreamless sleeping life. Not death. Death scares me appropriately. Sleep is defined by waking, as everything is by its opposite. Really all I want is to wake up one day and feel satisfied. But isn’t that the goal of it all? Satisfaction?

If I haven’t been satisfied by anything else at this point, I can’t really ask it of sleep.

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Poor Little Me: 3

Poor Little Me: 3

I miss every girl that I’ve ever known. I genuinely do. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about most of the women that I’ve known in my life.

 Most women that I have ever met silently accuse me of being a misogynist — some of them loudly. I’m not. I’m just an asshole. Except for my sexual attraction to them (which is, at best, lethargic most of the time) I treat women exactly like men. The problem is 1) I don’t treat most men I meet very well, and 2) at this point I’m not sure that most women want to be treated exactly like men. I think maybe they want to be treated equally, but differently; and I don’t know what that differently is. Or something. Or not. I don’t know.

 But none of that is to say that I deserve any sympathy on that point. I’m still a lumpy crap of a person with a very-likely dysfunctional brain.  Which is what, deep down, I think that most people with an alcohol or drug problem think of themselves: that they’re missing something in the chemistry of their souls they can supplement with something else. But unlike them, I’m pretty sure that I probably can.

 Sitting at home I find myself pulling two, three beers from the refrigerator and bringing them into the other room with me. The reason for this is that I now drink a bottle of beer so quickly that if I only bring out one, I will be constantly running in and out to get another. Even with three beers, I can finish all of them before the last turns warm. Lukewarm even. Hell, it’s nearly ice cold. 

Given the chance, given the challenge, I think I would do almost anything for my friends. I’m so bothered by visions of my funeral where nobody comes, that I’m tempted to draw up a will stipulating that all of my money go toward food, alcohol, and travel money for anyone who wants to come. But, then again, what’s the point? I didn’t buy anyone’s love in life. In general, I’m closer to a dog than a human sometimes; eager to please to the point of annoyance, content with the scraps of human affection, but not to be trusted as part of the family.

 After typing that last part, I realize it’s not fair, accurate, or particularly true. The thing about the dog, anyway. 

Every time I talk to someone I really like I’m painfully aware of how inadequate I am to be their friend. When I hug someone I do so with a steady grip and my eyes closed, because I love so much to be close to another person. Every time I sit down to write, I know how unimportant what I have to say is. Every time I get on stage I feel almost paralyzed by the mediocrity which wafts off of me. Even walking down the street, I feel like an outsider and an outcast, with this one exception: I’m not that special. But you knew that.

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Things That are Bothering Me Right Now

Things that are bothering me right now:

Hey chain coffee place, I’ve been going to you for years, and when I order a medium coffee, I don’t think I should have to go through the (albeit objectively uncomplicated, but nonetheless unnecessary) extra step of telling you I want it to be hot. You don’t have to ask if I want hot or cold coffee. Hot coffee is the default; it has always been the default, and it always will be the default. I don’t care how popular your new line of cold coffee drinks is. I don’t care how blazingly hot it is outside, or how seemingly outrageous it is that I want to drink a piping-hot cup of coffee while the souls of my shoes are melting off on the asphalt. The onus for categorical specificity lies squarely on the shoulders of the iced-coffee drinkers. And the best part is: they know it! I promise, coffee attendee, that no one who wants an iced coffee will ever walk up to you and say, “Medium coffee, please!” and expect you to know that they want it cold. The will say, “Medium iced coffee, please!” Because they know what they are…they know what they are. All I’m saying is, let’s have some mutual respect. I don’t make you go through the extra step of putting ice in my coffee, don’t make me go through the extra step of telling you I want it hot.

Hey people who play Trivial Pursuit (classic blue-box genus edition) at the local charmingly-divey bar with the extensive board game selection (i.e. Guthries.) Please learn to put the answer cards back into the card shoe in the correct manner. Have a little dignity. Now, some of you may not have grown up playing Trivial Pursuit as frequently and competitively as I did, and I’m not expecting you to either agree with, or understand this particular pet peeve, but that isn’t going to stop me from demanding it. Notice, if you will, that the question cards which accompany a Trivial Pursuit set have two distinct side. One side has six color-coded questions which stretch the full length of the card. The other side has six answers. The answer side has a blue bar covering approx. 1/3 of the card, inscribed with the word “Genus.” What, one asks, is the purpose of this blue bar? It is so, when the card is properly inserted into the question shoe, the blue bar is the only visible part of the answer card to stick up over the lip of the shoe, and not the answers to the questions. Also, this leaves the question side situated in such a way that when the shoe is placed in front of a questioner, he may pull a card out to ask a question directly, without have to turn or contort the card to read it. I would like it know that until now, I have been single-handedly responsible for the organization and maintenance of the TP cards at Guthries, but no more. I expect you all to pitch in.

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You’re On My Mind

I see you.

I see you all the time.

I see all the things you do.

I see you taking a watery shit between two dumpster, all the while grinning like a happy dog.

I see you shuffling about and talking to yourself; sitting around talking to  yourself; pushing carts and dragging bags and talking to yourself. I see you talking to yourself while you read a book you’ve found called “Payback is a Mutha” by someone called Wahida Clark.

I can still see you dead under a viaduct, surrounded by red and blue lights. I can never forget seeing you masturbating next to the river, lazily abusing yourself like you’re having a picnic. Sometimes I smell you before I see you. 

You’re talking to me while I’m trying to read, and so I can’t help but see you, to actually stare at you while you tell me about the album you’re writing. To stare at your mouth while you tell me about the song you’ve written called “You’re a Sweet Taste of Candy in My Heart.” To stare fixedly and sick at the one tooth still left clinging to your gums, looking like a piece of rotted corn, wet and black, while you sing to me in a weird castrato voice.

Through the window of a passing bus, I see you standing by the side of the road eating an entire roasted chicken. You’re throwing the bones under passing cars, and I see you wiping the grease off your hands on a bunch of pansies and marigolds in a stone planter on the sidewalk. I see you wiping your hands on flowers.

I see you looking at me with need, hunger, anger, weariness, suspicion, terror. I see you looking at me with dead eyes. With black eyes. With one eye, or none. Always, with asking eyes. I see you looking back at me, and looking away. And I never look away: Because I see you, but I don’t care.

And later, when I’m home (and because I have one) I think about you, and the things I’ve seen you do, and I laugh. And then I pull the shades down tight, and do the secret, nameless, shameful things I do when I’m alone, and nobody can see me, ever.

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Irish Oatmeal Stout

Irish Oatmeal Stout (adapted from beerrecipes.org)

Ingredients:

  • 0.5 lb. Flaked Oats
  • 0.5 lb. Special B
  • 0.25 lb. Crystal Malt (1200)
  • 0.25 lb. Chocolate Malt
  • 6.6 lbs. Dark LME
  • 4 fl. oz. Dry Flaked Oats
  • 5 oz. Malto Dextrin
  • 1 oz 5.5% AA Fuggle (Bittering)
  • 1/2 tsp. Irish Moss
  • .5 oz 4.5% AA Willamette (Aroma)
  • Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast
  • 5 oz. Corn Sugar (Priming)

 

Primary Ferment: 6 Days 

Secondary Ferment: 4 Days

This is a great stout, folks, for those of you who prefer a drier, Irish-style oatmeal stout. We’re going to start by adding the grains slowly and evenly, while we raise the heat to 150 degrees. Now, ideally this should take about an hour, but it’s hard to be patient, right? And, if your hands are shaking like mine were because you just quit smoking, it’s going to be difficult to control that pour. I suggest lighting up just one last cigarette to steady the old hands.

Now, after you let that simmer for about 20 minutes (or, as I like to call it “two scotches”) you’re going to remove and rinse the grains over the brew pot with a half gallon of hot water. The water should be about 170 to 180 degrees, but you’ll know it’s hot enough when you accidentally spill it on yourself and scald the shit out of your torso. Next time you’ll have another cigarette, and steady those hands up, now won’t you?

Go ahead and discard the grains, and add the malt extract, oats and malto dextrin. Bring this to a boil, and add the Bittering Hops. Let that boil for a while. At this point, you might want to take a nice cold bath to take care of those burns. Also, a cigarette and a scotch helps to take the edge off. By the time you’re done with that, you’ll probably be ready to add the Irish Moss and Aroma Hops, boil for twenty minutes, and add cold water.

You’ll want to let the wort cooled down to at least 70 degrees, so now is probably a good time to run out for a pack of cigarettes and a…let’s see…yeah, you’ll need another bottle of scotch. Probably the cheaper stuff this time, since you spent a lot of money on that Irish Moss, and that malto dextrin isn’t too cheap, either. Old Smuggler is a decent blended scotch, right? Anyway, you can get a lot of it, cheap. So get that. Get Old Smuggler.

When you get back, and the wort is sufficiently cooled, transfer it to your fermenter, and dry pitch the yeast. You’ll want your starting gravity to be about 1.05, or whatever. At this point, it’s always very difficult to time the primary and secondary fermentations, but you’ll know it’s done when you wake up in a handicapped stall Koala Kare changing station, in the women’s restroom of a local public pool. About twelve days or so, judging by the number of cigarette cartons around you.

Now, recipes vary on this next step, but my personal advice is to not try to figure out the horrible things you’ve done over the last fortnight, and just go ahead and add the priming sugar and five ounces of corn sugar to the ferment. For a smooth, even finish, you should bottle condition the stout for about two weeks, but I’m willing to bet you won’t be able to resist drinking it straight from your five-gallon fermenter with a turkey baster, and weeping into the living room rug. A great all-seasons stout!

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