Archive for August, 2010

Big Spring Avenue, Newville, PA

Posted in Memoir with tags , , on August 31, 2010 by sethdellinger

Some of you may remember a few years ago, when my blog was on LiveJournal, I did a series of blogs that were a memory of each place I’ve ever lived.  When I imported those entries to this current WordPress blog, it looked like they came along, but they never actually posted.  So, in an effort to finally get them all on here, I will be posting them over the next few weeks.  If you’ve never read these, enjoy!  If you already have, read them again!  You’ll know which ones they are because the titles are addresses or town names.  Thanks, here’s the first one (ps, these are in chronological order, so today’s entry is the first house I ever lived in.  And perhaps I’ll end the series with a brand new entry, set in my current apartment?)

 

Big Spring Avenue, Newville, PA

That old house was the damndest house. It was structured almost labyrinthinely, with halls winding back on themselves, unexpected back staircases, two patios, two balconies; like those places you hear about where voices told an old woman to keep building, and she did, and nobody stopped her.

            To a kid, it was a marvel. It seemed all houses must be built like this: with surprises. And of course, it was ugly, too. Shit-brown hardwood floors in some rooms, and elegantly finished wood in another. Gray wood paneling on some walls, and on others, wallpaper that seemed to have been designed solely to confuse, a mix of paisley and leopard print. It was at this particular woozy wallpaper that I was staring the day my father came home as a stranger.

            It is the kitchen wallpaper to which I refer.  It was mostly green, with some yellows. It was a flower print, mainly, with other little slapdash touches thrown in, in case anyone thought for a moment it made any sense. As I grew older, I started seeing pictures in the patterns, the way starry-eyed teenagers see turtles or tits in clouds. Men riding bicycles were in that wallpaper, as were wedding cakes, rocket ships, shovels, and Falcor, from The Neverending Story. I was staring at this wallpaper when my father walked into the den—which is facing the kitchen, with a big wide open door between the two rooms—and I had no idea who he was.

            I thought at first that one of the Green boys had broken into my house and was about to kill me. The Green boys (on the off-chance you’ve never heard of them) were the most rotten, vile, badass kids Newville had ever seen. One of them was even mildly retarded. Every time something horrible happened, it was blamed on the Green boys, and there seemed to be more Green boys than Baldwins (a reference that would have made sense even in 1984). There were so many Green boys, in fact, that I had no idea what any of them looked like. All badass boys were simply Green boys.

            Much later in life I had a dream once that my sister fucked one of the Green boys, and it still stands as my most mortifying dream ever. (For the record, I’m pretty sure she didn’t.)

            He entered the den and it is the first time I remember feeling that stomach-dropping sink of fear, the kind where you almost instantly puke. This feeling shares a home with the ‘I slept past my alarm’ feeling, as well as the ‘cop lights in the rearview’ feeling, but it is more intense and coercive. It’s the same kind of fear you get when your car starts to go off the road, or a relative tells you to ‘sit down’ before they start a conversation.  Such in-depth fear is quite foreign to such a young person. 

            I leaped from the dining room chair (at this point, still quite a feat for me) and padded my little feet around the gray tiled kitchen floor, to position myself behind the kitchen table (a table, incidentally, which I can no longer picture in my mind, at all). He was closer, perhaps by ten feet, and still advancing. Finally I summoned enough child-courage to address this advancing (grinning) man: “Who are you?”

            The man only grinned and kept advancing. I questioned him again, “Who are you?” Still no reply.

            The fear was incredible now. I thought I would die. Have a ‘hard attack’ as I thought they were called. My body trembled, my saliva flowed uncontrollably (this happens), my voice shook, and finally, tears. I turned and ran from the room.

            I ran through the laundry room, which was really a concrete hallway painted some sort of color, with a makeshift bathroom on the left hand side (with walls made from, I believe, plywood) and the washer and dryer on the right. Quickly through the laundry room, out the back door, down the six concrete steps of the slab back porch, into the bright preening sunlight of an unassuming day. There, I find my mother where I knew she would be (hanging laundry? Digging in the garden?) and I explain our frantic situation. It is no longer my frantic situation; obviously now my mother is in danger, too. The Green boy can’t be far behind me.

            Before my mother can fully grasp what I am saying to her, the man steps out of the back door, onto the slab porch, still grinning. My mother gives a small but serious laugh.

            “Oh honey, that’s your dad! He just shaved his beard, is all.”

            Dad, don’t feel bad. There’s no way you could have known.

Audio Poem: “Soon, Again”

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2010 by sethdellinger

So I’ve finally moved out of the two “New Jersey” collections and we move into the Seth-living-on-his-own era.  Well, not really on my own.  The collection Ridiculous Things was written immediately after I moved back to PA and was living with good buddy Duane.  Unfortunately, this collection has not aged well.  I was really shooting for the stars with most of the poems in it; they’re mostly “concept poems” that were great as concepts but either I was not skilled enough to pull off or they just were not meant to be.  Hpwever, there are a few genuinely good ones, especially this one that I present to you in audio form today:  “Soon, Again”.  Check it out:

Soon, Again

Someday I know I’ll just start waking up
at six o’clock in the morning again
and drive to my old high school
bleary-eyed and pissy
and walk unflinchingly into the first classroom
I see, ready to go again.
Or, failing that,
it seems certain
that one day soon the old friends
will drop by and pick me up
and we’ll scurry off the the drive-in theater/pizza shop
to play pool and the juke box and smoke reefer
for a few blissful hours;
or, failing that,
it seems certain
any day now some pals from way back
will knock petitely upon my door
holding a red bouncy kickball
and invite me to the church down the street
which boasts a really large green lawn
upon which we will play a long sweaty muddy game
of kickball, the kind with baseball rules,
except you can throw the ball at the runner.
Or, failing that,
it seems certain
that any time now
I will crawl directly back inside my mother
up the wrong way
and settle down inside the scarred womb
among the sinew and bloody tissue
to once again hear the songs of angels
and the sleep of forever.

Something Ron Said Once

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 28, 2010 by sethdellinger

(to Tony Magni, who was having trouble hearing Ron)

“Why don’t you take the dick out of your ear and put it back in your mouth where it belongs?”

Everything Was Fantastic and Nothing Hurt

Posted in Memoir, Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2010 by sethdellinger

I had never had to break up with a girl before.  I had been slow in figuring them out–or they had been slow in figuring me out.  Either way, I had never imagined that once I actually had a girlfriend (and one who let me have sex with her, at that!) that I would ever do any breaking up with her.  I figured I’d always be so happy just to put my hand on a boob, or my tongue in a mouth, that the first one who agreed to it would be enough forever.

It was this kind of thinking that kept me with my first “real” girlfriend for 3 years, despite the fact that we were obviously as mismatched as possible.  Looking back on it now, I can’t even remember what we must have talked about.  We did spend a lot of time together, and I have many memories that are not unpleasant (and more than a few that are unpleasant).  Three years is a long time, even when you spend 8 hours a day in school.  So there was a lot of shared history by the time I realized I had to break up with her–but I still don’t know what we talked about.  (not to mention we were each other’s first everything, if you get my drift.)

But I did realize, eventually, that we were a bad fit.  I probably realized this because having been with her for three years, I had finally learned a bit about women and was at that point recieving some other very tempting offers from girls a bit more like me.  I spent weeks agonizing over how to break up with her.  Have you ever had teenage sex with a girl whispering I love you in your ear, knowing full well you are going to break up with her soon?  Well, it’s not as fun as it sounds.

I don’t remember much about the day I did it.  I remember it was in my bedroom, sitting on the bed, and I said it’s time for us to part ways.  It did not go well.  She cried and I was stoic.  I drove her home that night and it was a long drive.  When I got back home, my dad was in the living room watching TV.  I sat on the ottoman and made some small talk as though nothing had happened.  Then I tried to mention off-hand I broke up with her but my voice cracked and a tear jumped into my eye.  It was so hard, I said, as I started crying for real.

**************************************************************

Two and a half years earlier….

The greatest thing about finally having a girlfriend was it finally gave me reasons and methods to be some sort of badass. 

My friend Mike (I haven’t changed his name because everybody is named Mike) was dating her best friend, so we were a little group, the four of us, double dating, driving to and from school together, the whole bit.

The biggest problem in Mike and I’s lives, however, was that we were still virgins, all four of us.  I doubt it was such a problem for the girls, but it devastated Mike and I daily.  Then one day at school, the girls announced to us that tonight would be “the night”.  My girlfriend would be staying at Mike’s girlfriend’s house for the night.  This house was reachable by both my house and Mike’s house by bicycle (Mike and I were both driving by this time, but not our own cars, and we had curfews that missing cars would belie), and so it was agreed that Mike and I would both bike to the house in the middle of the night and somehow or other, all four of us would lose our virginities.

Mike and I made our own specific plans.  We chose a good spot about halfway between our own houses where we’d meet up on the bikes at precisely midnight and then go the rest of the way together.

Around 11pm, I opened my bedroom window, climbed out and walked around the house to where I’d laid my bike that evening, so I didn’t have to get it out of the garage.

Biking down country roads, alone, at night, in the silence that accompanies said action, is fucking scary.

It was a longer ride than it seemed in my mind to get to the meeting spot.  Since my family had moved out to the country a few years before, I hadn’t done an extensive amount of biking.  I grew up in the small town of Newville, where everything you could imagine was reachable by bicycle.  My brain was not equipped to deal in country miles.  After what seemed hours, I finally arrived at the spot.  No Mike.  I didn’t have a watch (and no, you bastards, this is way before cell phones) so I waited.  I checked the drainage ditches along the sides of the road in case he was laying there, hiding from passing cars (in the country when you’re a teenager, you somehow assume all passing cars are somehow going to tell your parents or the cops that you’re out late), but he wasn’t there.  I waited what I can only say was “a long time”, but I couldn’t tell how long.  It felt like at least an hour.  I couldn’t call out for him, because we had chosen a spot right in front of a few houses.

The thought of biking all the way to Mike’s girlfriend’s house–which I just now understood was really far away–all by myself just seemed like too big of a task.  I assumed he’d missed me, too, and gone on ahead, but if he hadn’t, I’d show up alone, and it would be awkward.  I got on my bike and rode home, climbed into bed sad that I was still a virgin, but somehow relieved that I hadn’t had to go through with the plan.

The next day, Mike told me he’d been hiding in some grass alongside the road and that he never saw or heard me.  It didn’t occur to me until years later that he’d been absolutely lying and he’d never even left his house that night.  Lord knows if the girls were even waiting up for us.

*****************************************************

One year after the bicycle night…

Her and I had been driving for hours in what seemed like a circle.  Why I even ever thought the two of us could navigate Philadelphia was a mystery to me.  I didn’t even bring a map, I kept thinking.  If there’s one thing I learned about traveling from my parents, it was to always bring a map.  Did I somehow think we were adults who could do things like drive around cities?  What a fool.

I didn’t want to fight.  I had seen couples who got lost start fighting and it always seemed foolish.  It accomplished nothing.  And so the more tense we got, the more calm I forced my exterior to appear, and the more I love yous I said, and before I knew what hit me, there was the sign for the Turnpike–always a surefire way home.

Once safely on the Turnpike, after smoking a few relaxing cigarettes, she turned and said Seth, you’re a good man.  It was the first time anybody had ever said that to me, and I’ll never forget it.

****************************************************

One year after the Philadelphia trip…

It was a Friday night.  I remember that for certain because we were coming from a high school football game (she was a cheerleader, so I attended every single game, and carried all her gear to my car afterward.  This provides a serious high for any teenage boy, to be seen carrying his prominent cheerleader girlfriend’s things to his car after a game).  It was October and she wanted to go to the “haunted house” that is put on in Newville every October, and which is walking distance from the football field. 

I did not want to go. 

I’d be in my mid-twenties before I even started watching horror movies, and even now I don’t like things like “haunted houses”–though I do now love horror films.

Back then, I was scared of everything but trying my best to learn how to hide it.  This is Central Pennsylvania, home of tall corn, taller trucks, Joe Montana, and Three Mile Island.  Five-foot-tall men who scare easily are not the preferred type, and I knew that, and so was consistently doing things like this that every fiber of my being told me to turn from.

We got in line for the haunted house.  I remember she was still in her cheerleading uniform which I–surprise–found very sexy, even after 2 years of having sex with her while she wore the damn thing every Friday night during football season (and after home basketball games, too).  It’s amazing how long a 17 year old boy can stay transfixed on a detail.  So even then, that night, I tried to stay transfixed on the uniform instead of what I assumed would be the bone chilling terror inside the haunted house.

She noticed how I was looking at her and backed me against a wall, slid her hand down my pants.  She wanted to get me off right there, in line!

But I wasn’t aroused.  After a minute or two of attempting to get me going, she asked what was wrong.

“I’m just a little…scared,” I said.

“Of the haunted house?” she asked.

“Yep.  Just a little.”

She withdrew her hand from my pants and, looking me square in the eyes, said You pussy.

That’s another thing she said to me that I’ll never forget.

 

******************************************************** 

Eleven years after the haunted house…

i was out shopping about a week ago with a close close female friend of mine i didn’t need anything we weren’t shopping for me we were shopping for her so of course it stands to reason we were spending alot of if not most of our time in clothing stores i like shopping for clothes with women at least if it’s a woman i like i like to be just honest enough that they believe me about how things look on them and besides if i’m spending a day shopping with a woman chances are i find her deliriously attractive to begin with and have on immense blinders and truly think everything looks good on her anyway so i rarely get bored while clothes shopping with women except for when they are a woman who takes forever trying clothes on and this particular woman friend of mine happens to be the type who takes forever trying clothes on so about two hours into the shopping excursion while she is in a fitting room i wandered out into the mall and spent about five minutes looking at this kiosk that was all about some homeschooling-over-the-internet thing and they had a nice display and i picked up some of the books children’s books and educational books and felt the heft of them paged through smelling the smell of them remembering when i thought books were like shiny little stars with worlds in them like ameoba in a toad’s pee-puddle and i would feel the pages the coarse roughhewn pages like they were an heirloom quilt and when i had had my fill of standing at the kiosk reminiscing i wandered back into the store and halfway to the back i saw her.  Not the friend i was there shopping with but the first girlfriend the first one ever she still looked like she was 17 although a bit more like a woman now in fact she looked very good–not as good as the friend I was shoppign with but very good nonetheless– and although i immediately turned my head and pretended i hadn’t noticed her it was like i could smell her hair and the minty basement smell of sex with her and could see from a distance the way her lips aren’t lined up right and the sad swing of her braless breasts and i wanted to turn to her from across the store and say ‘i never knew you and you never knew me and that’s pretty much all there ever is to anything but we tried’ and then promptly turn and leave.  but i didn’t.  i meandered around the store at a safe distance so she could see me, so she could remember, too.

 

**********************************************************

Fourteen years before the shopping trip…

We sat at the back of the bus, my friends and I.  We had finally graduated to that level of bad-assness.  We were the big kids on the back of the bus, though I was of course never “big”, but I had some major seniority on bus #10. 

Lately, though, things had been all about our friend John, who had recently become the first of us to lose his virginity.  Each and every bus ride now, for the last week, had been filled with tales he’d tell us about what it was like.  We all wondered what this girl would be like.  John was an athlete and not unpopular, so she must really be something (I’d learn later that John had made up every sexual encounter with the girl; he ended up being a virgin longer than I was).

We were sitting in the school parking lot in the morning, waiting to be let off, when John said There she is, and he tapped on the window as a young girl passed by.  She stopped, grinned ear-to-ear, tapped back on the glass and blew a kiss to John.

That was the first time I ever laid eyes on her, and I remember thinking I was slightly unimpressed.  If only I knew how good she’d look fourteen years later while shopping in a backwater mall.

Just a little over a week until Hey Rosetta!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 26, 2010 by sethdellinger

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

by Hey Rosetta!

You cringe, you complain,
you sing, sing, that old refrain:
the roof is falling in,
the roof is falling in.
I’m not kidding–
you can probably feel the wind.

No, no, not again (my darling sleep)
Put your head on my legs (breathe it in)
It’s not time for your untimely end, yet (no sweet release)
No no no no no no no not yet

You’ve got this feeling you’ll live to get what you give.
You’ll be an old man soon.

You wait, you waver,
you think, think, always must consider,
cause every path’s a problem,
every turn is trouble,
and you’ll probably never solve them,
so why not love them?

No no this is not allowed (my darling sleep)
Wrap that busy head in sound (breathe it in)
Rocking gently inside this (the din be peace)
No, no, no, no, no, no, yes! yes! yes!

You’ve got this feeling you’ll live to get what you give.
You’ll be an old man soon.
I’ve got this feeling i’ll be an old man soon

I know it’s messy but you’ll make it right,
you don’t want pity you want pride:
a king, a lion, a god among men
and children who cry when the thunder begins.
Their heads fall to their chests
while you watch from a great height
with your head high
and your eyes on fire…

Doesn’t my life rule?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 24, 2010 by sethdellinger

While living in Erie for three months, I’ve known the entire time that I lived very, very close to the lake–probably just a few hundred yards away.  However, it has been more difficult than you might imagine for me to find access to the lake or even get it into view from the neighborhood around where I live.  This is mainly due to the land along the lake being zoned industrial, and said industrial plants being the secretive types that hide behind fences and well-placed tree-lines.  A few weeks ago I did manage to find a nice lake-side park in a residential area about half a mile away.  However, today I was riding my bike around my neighborhood, very very close to my apartment, and turned down a side street I’d never thought of turning down before because it looked just like a dead end trashy alley, but alas!  It opened up almost immediately into a tiny, unnamed park with a fantastic view of the lake.  This excites me, as I just love being around the lake—reading, writing, exploring the coastline, etc, and to have the access so close is very convenient!  I took some video of the view–doesn’t my life rule?

Lawnchairs, Complications, JUST GO, and Blossoming

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 22, 2010 by sethdellinger

1.  What is it about a certain demographic of people that makes them believe that anytime they are watching music outdoors they must be sitting on lawnchairs?

2.  I am really really loving TurningArt.  If you haven’t seen me posting about it on Facebook, TurningArt is like Netflix but for art prints.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a major “art” guy.  I don’t know a whole lot about it, but I do enjoy me some art and over the past few years I’ve begun developing some favorites and some more solid opinions, and I thought TurningArt might help me gain a better appreciation for various kinds of art, much in the way that Netflix has helped me explore new genres of film.  I’m on the “every two months” plan at TurningArt–I get a new print to hang every two months (art takes a tad longer to drink in than a movie does).  My first print for the past month or so has been Peter Roux’s “A Statement of Complicated Mourning #2”.  This is it:

I know at first glance it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to it, but I’ve been really studying it as I come and go out of the apartment every day (it’s hung at the top of my entry stairs) and I’m starting to really dig it.  I’m starting to see some things about why it’s titled what it is, and the skill that is there that at first glance might not be evident (I will, however, spare you my amateur analysis).  I’ve now put the rest of Roux’s prints at the top of my queue.  I might have a new second favorite artist!  (Jan Vermeer will always be my favorite, I think).  Here’s how awesome the print looks hanging in my apartment, in the frame that TurningArt provides:

3.  I’m trying very hard to not immediately turn into a “bicycle guy”, as I know it’s something I just recently picked up and I don’t want to be one of those people who just jumps into and out of passions, but I’ve just got to vent:  having only been an active biker for about 3 weeks now, I am appalled at how motorists ignore us.  Please, when you see a bicyclist, consider the pyhsics that are acting upon them.  When we slam on our brakes, we take the risk of flying off our bike.  It is not like being in a car.  Also, once I’ve stopped for you, just go.  Do not then wave me on after I’ve stopped.  Restarting is not as easy for us as pressing a pedal, so please just go so I can restart properly.  And while I’m ranting:  where have all the bike racks gone???  I’d have rode my bike to the Gin Blossoms concert tonight, except I was down at that festival yesterday during the day on my bike and found only one bike rack, which I did not trust to have any vanancies when I got there tonight.  Bike racks, people, bike racks!  Speaking of the Gin Blossoms show tonight…

4.  They were OK.  They were obviously great musicians but not exciting performers, which sucks when you’re not a huge fan of the music to begin with.  Still, I’m glad I went.  It was cool to see so many songs that are radio staples.  Here is a picture I took:    I must admit though, I left early and ended up watching a local band on a stage down the street.  Check out this video I took of the Gin Blossoms’ “Follow You Down” (which they opened with).  The sound quality is horrible!  My camera is no modern marvel but it usually records sound alright.  What do you think happened?

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