Golden: Part 1

The money in my bank account was starting to trickle down into numbers I was not comfortable with. I had left my job at the hospital for greener pastures, of which there were many, and was living off my savings while continuing my career as a writer. In three months, I released three books that had been shelved indefinitely while my editor/ girlfriend ignored me, and started to see other people for the last six months we were together. She thought of herself as an actress while her talents rested in the B to C categories, a few steps behind ________ (insert crappy soap opera here).
July had started and while I had been gone from the work place for three months I was still sleeping on my old work schedule. I had a set routine of things to do during the day trying to make a living from self-publishing but I would not see the fruits of my labor for another three months. I needed to get out of the house. I applied for a job with the County and I was told at the interview that I was over qualified. The last time I heard this it was a bad thing and I was never offered the job at Stryker. This time around the county was excited to hire me with little training needed to get me started.
I was checking my E-mail and shorting through messages on Facebook when I discovered a hidden file of messages that I didn’t know existed. There was the usual spam and junk mail, women claiming to find me sexy and guys saying I somehow inherited a million dollars from relatives I never heard of. There was one piece of mail that stood out, it came from a man I’ll call Nick Golden.

Hey Matthew, Have just last week discovered your writing skills through your ‘After the Day’ novels. Also, I’ve enjoyed your blog & FB page. I’ve assembled and am adding to my writing team on a TV Web Series. I took my writing training at Writers’ Workshop at Iowa U. in the mid-sixties; my filmmaking experience was mainly in Scandinavia. This series, is a near-future (2029 start date in pilot) account of an American Dynasty family, with five generations still alive and living on the post-collapse America. The politics and base assumptions seem to be aligned with yours. An economic collapse based on dollar collapse and aquifer death are principle inciting incidences. Then China comes in to collect on their collateral for their defaulted loans. If you have an interest in a ‘work for hire’ project which is right down your alley, pls be in touch. I think your character development, ear for dialogue and plot savvy, can work well within our Saga long-arc story-line. (Whereas your novels treat the domestic scene, we couple domestic with Commune-building. competition to rescue the Dynasty’s legacy, and rescue America, with international intrigue.) I’m at my S. CA home right now. I alternate between here and “Walden Lodge,” a log hunting lodge on five acres near Bellevue, WA.

I called Nick and he answered on the second ring. It was the first phone call I had in months that wasn’t a telemarketer. Nick started talking and that was the end of my side of the conversation.
“You are a hard man to find. I couldn’t find anything about you online. I was about to send a private dick out to search for you.”
I didn’t know what he was referring to, my email and Facebook page were public, there was also the comment section of my blog that could have been used.
“If you are interested in working on the television show I can email you the contract right away. This is going to be big. I’m looking at selling it to Netflix. Everyone is going to want a piece of this. I used to run a production studio in Norway. No one is going to want to pass this up.”
“Ya send me the contract and I will have my guy look it over.” My guy was my friend Judd who had just started his own company from home and worked as a freelance writer for a short period of time.
While I was trying to figure out how I was going to start balancing a second shift job, writing, and working on a TV show, my “girlfriend” sent me a text. I had not heard from her in 10 days. The last time we spoke she was asking me for money. Did I mention she worked as a nurse and made $40+ an hour. She had made several financial mistakes during the three and a half years we were together and now debt collectors were calling and she wanted to be bailed out.
“How much do you owe?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Well the first thing I would do is sit down and figure that out.”
“It’s more than I have.”
“How do you know if you haven’t added everything up?”
“I just know. Don’t you trust me?”
“It’s not about trust, it’s about numbers. If you want me to sit down with you and make a plan I will do that but I’m not just going to give you money when you won’t even figure out what is going wrong.”
“My mom gave me $400 dollars without asking any questions. Why can’t you do that?”
“How much do you want?”
“$800”
“How are you that far behind? You make four times what I did at the hospital. What are you doing with your money?”
“It’s none of your business.”
“Then you’re definitely not getting any money from me. Figure out what you’re doing wrong then call me.” I hung up the phone.
This time around she wanted to have lunch. This was something we would do several times a week and these days I barely saw her, never received text, and when I did try to contact her she would say everything was fine and that she was really busy. She never had the balls to break up with anyone.
I sat down across the table from her in the hospital cafeteria. It was a safe space, one that people wouldn’t start a conflict in, normally. She was in her scrubs and already had her food, French fries with ketchup.
“You’re mad at me,” she said eating her food.
I shook my head like I didn’t know what she was talking about. “It’s been ten days.”
“I’ve been busy,” she said. Then went ahead telling me about putting her house on the market, the bathroom remodeling job that had been taking forever (because she was fucking the handyman), putting the house on the market, the kids, the other guys kids, refinancing the van… eventually I droned her out. I didn’t care. She had no interest in me anymore and I just wanted her to say it was over so that I could move on, but that wasn’t how she worked. “So, what have you been up to?” she had a look on her face like she was expecting me to say that leaving the hospital was the worst choice I ever made, I was miserable, and that there weren’t any jobs out there. Everything I told her was the opposite.
“I have a job with the County now, Union, and full benefits. Same pay as here but no fingers or blood to clean up from the floor. I was contacted by a Hollywood producer to start writing for a showing being produced for Netflix. He wants to fly me out to Seattle to work with his group. I’m trying to schedule an interview with a Kurdish Sniper who fought ISIS in Syria for a spy thriller based on the War. A girl from Twitter is helping put it together.”
“Who is this girl? Do you like her? Why are you talking to her?”
I sat back in the chair, this was what she had been waiting for, something to use to turn on me. I had never cheated on her, always did as I was asked and now was her moment to make me the bad guy, regardless of how ridiculous it was.
“She works as a journalist on the side in Norway,” I said.
“So, you like this girl,” she said working herself up. “That’s nice. That’s really nice. So you’re leaving me?”
I tried really hard not to laugh. This was becoming absurd.
“I haven’t seen you in ten days. You appear out of nowhere asking for money because you can’t get your shit together and this is what you can come up with? Ya I’m leaving. It’s obvious you don’t want me around.”
“After three years your leaving me?”
“Take care, Kelly.”
There were messages after that. Mind games to act like she was the victim. She wanted to ultrasound for the child she had aborted early on in our relationship. I told her she could have it but of course she never showed up. She would send questions about other stupid things, excuses to write me. I told her if she wanted to talk she needed to call, I was done with this texting bullshit. She never called and I never heard from her again. A week later she posted pictures on Facebook having dinner with the Handyman who looked like Sloth from the Goonies. It was finally over.
The contract had been printed out and Judd went over it explaining that there wasn’t anything to worry about.
“Don’t talk about your books while working for them. Anything you bring up becomes property of the company. Also, whatever you create for them they own. You can’t talk about the project outside of the group for three years. It’s standard stuff.”
I signed on the dotted line and faxed it to Nick. It looked like I was going to Hollywood.

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Adventures in Cooking: Part 4

If there is one person who’s position in the kitchen, I never fully understood it is Jeremy. The always fun, unreliable, will steal your CDs when you are not looking, sell you weed, steal your weed, borrow money, steal your money, crackhead you could not help but to love. There wasn’t a place in Olga’s where Jeremy fit. At times he would cook in the kitchen but usually he was found in the dish room. You would not see Jeremy for weeks and then he’s running around like he is at home and collecting a paycheck before he disappeared again. He could do any job but was like the man with no name in those old western movies, he comes into town, fucks shit up and leaves riding off into the sunset, until he comes back after people had forgotten the problems he caused last time. People liked Jeremy and that included me as well.
Jeremy wasn’t the youngest member of the crew. That was a stunning blonde who worked as a greeter taking people to their tables and broke the hearts of many men when they found out she was only 14. I don’t know what is in the water in Portage MI but she looked like she was a grad student in college. It’s moments like that when I read stories about teachers in trouble for having relationships with students when I want to see a picture of the girl and say “she looks older than him.”
For a seventeen-year-old, Jeremy was able to do things I couldn’t pull off at 21. During the Christmas rush each of us was assigned a “special” drink to help get us through the shift. I brought rum, good old Captain Morgan, thinking it would go well with the Pepsi we served. Nate Dawg, being the cheap ass that he was, didn’t bring anything even though it was his idea. Junior brought Gin that nobody else wanted. Jeremy showed everyone up by bringing a large bottle of Parrot’s Bay coconut flavored rum. Paper cups were everywhere in the kitchen, labeled with names and disappearing quickly. Stress levels subsided and work was more like hanging out at the club than the usual shit show it would turn into. When the manager walked through and saw the smiles on people’s faces and the heard the laughter, she couldn’t figure out why everyone was so happy on the busiest day of the year. The line was going out the door. Dishes were piling up. Tickets were stacked on top of each other at the grill. Servers were short staffed with extra tables assigned to each of them. The dish bitch couldn’t keep up. And yet we were loving it. Jeremy, in his own shady way had saved the day, and for that we loved him.
Jeremy disappeared again after that as he always did. He would reappear in my life as the long-time friend of my future brother-in-law. The family knew him well and treated him like family knowing that he didn’t come from the best home.
That short time I worked with him was educational for me. I was not familiar with the life style of a crackhead. I was naïve enough to trust people and learned the hard way the truth of certain situations. One night a group of us hung out at my place, a cheap $400 a month apartment in a complex called Maple Ridge. It wasn’t a bad place at the time but when it went down hill it took a nose dive into a pile of shit loaded with napalm and cockroaches. The last month I lived there a man was found dead in his apartment, shot several weeks before, and management didn’t discover his body until he didn’t pay his rent. Somehow nobody heard the gunshots.
There was Nate Dawg, Rob, Jeremy and his friend Jason, Rob’s married girlfriend, and me sitting in the living room taking shots of cinnamon flavored liquor. The whole thing turned into a shit show when we went down the dark path of talking about our childhoods. Rob had grown up on an Indian reservation where he impregnated his girlfriend at the age of thirteen and she later killed herself. He discovered the body and ended up in an institution after that. Nate Dawg remembered the day that his father shot his mother and the only thing that saved her life was the bullet being reflected by a can of soda. Rob’s girlfriend had her first child at thirteen and married her boyfriend who she was kind of sort of separated from, almost, but not really. Jeremy sat back not saying a thing and Jason was the silent side kick that just liked to get high.
That night everyone passed out in various places around the apartment. Rob’s girlfriend threw up in the toilet and fell asleep on the floor. Rob slept in the tub next to her. Nate went home, living across the street in the trailer park. Jeremy and Jason slept in the living room and disappeared by morning. I don’t know how they got home or if they even went home. Neither one owned a car and didn’t ask for a ride. They were simply gone.
A few days later I went to do a workout and opened my CD cases to find them empty. Maybe I left them in another room? Maybe they were in the car? Maybe they were… oh hell those crackheads, after everything we went through. All the days at work, the parties, giving them rides, loaning them money that would never be repaid, covering for them on toke breaks, and this was how you repay me. That was the last party I would have at my place. My Matrix soundtrack was never seen again along with the Hackers soundtrack, MDFMK, and a few other CDs that I actually paid money for. You have to remember this was a time when Napster was around and we were burning CDs like they were going to disappear forever. Years later, Jeremy would admit they stole them, said he was “sorry” and that was it. There was no remorse, no attempt to make it up to people he had wronged. The world of a crackhead is a selfish one and when I see a man scratching his arms as he walks up to ask me for money, I have no qualms about telling him to “fuck off” and before he can retort I say “if you can ask me for money you could ask someone else if they want fries with that.”
The last time I saw Jeremy he approached my car after I went to the ATM, with his hood up, not saying a word until the last minute. I had my knife in my hand when he said “hey” and I replied “Jeremy?” He was thin, unrecognizable except for the voice. He saw me and wanted to say “hi.” He was sort of living, but not really, in the apartment complex behind the credit union and of course he was using the spot to sell weed among other things. We parted ways with myself feeling freaked out and thinking he was going to be found in a gutter somewhere.
The last conversation my brother-in-law had with him was around that time. Jeremy popped in at the house, unexpected as usual, and acted like he always lived there. He was bragging about selling drugs full time and how some guys were so desperate that it made him feel good about himself. “I have never been so desperate. Like who needs weed that bad?”
“What are you talking about?” Jimmy asked trying to make sense of the story.
“This guy comes up to me and wants to buy weed but he doesn’t have any money. So, I tell him to fuck off but he won’t go away like I’m going to give him some for free or something. So, he says he’ll suck my dick if I give him some and I think, it’s been a while and I’m not sucking his dick so it’s not gay. I’m just getting some head and I already have some girls that do that, so why not?”
“You got a blowjob from a dude. You are so fucking gay.”
“I’m not gay. He sucked my dick.” Jeremy was bragging about getting a blowjob to the wrong guy.
“Get the fuck out of my house. We are done.”
Jeremy left and as far as I know they never spoke to each other again after that.
Years later, my ex-wife ran into Jeremy. He was still alive and was finally arrested. With no prior record the judge made a deal with him and he joined the Army. There was no surprise that he would be shipped to Iraq. He stated that the army was the best thing that happened to him and that it changed his life around. I don’t know how many tours he did or how long he was in, but I heard he was living somewhere down south and is married with kids.
I don’t know if this is one of those stories of redemption or not, I still haven’t seen my CDs, but I guess it goes to show that some people, if given enough time, or pushed into the military, can change for the better.
To be continued…

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The Second Coming Civil War?

On January 1 of 2019, James Weasley Rawles wrote a post for his Survivalblog.com about a coming Civil War. Unfortunately, people are taking this poorly argumented post to heart. Prepper channels all over YouTube shared the message with their own interpretations and crappy excuses for why their personal wet dreams will come true. One channel, Praxis Homesteading and Survival Skills, created a video called “USA Food Riots Within 60 Days” using the current government shut down as an excuse to blame poor people for the coming riots they predict. Of course, the logic behind this is the lack of funding for programs like WIC and food stamps, which I would like to point out are NOT affected by the partial government shutdown. While Rawles doesn’t discuss this argument in his essay he instead takes a religious tone instead.
The history book was thrown out for this essay, making claims that the FBI was once nonpartisan and could uphold the law without discrimination. J Edgar Hoover would be wetting himself with this praise if he was here today. Rawles comes across like a Muslim Cleric in post invasion Iraq talking about a war between the godly and ungodly, whatever the hell that means? Then he caters to the Trumpets pointing out the landmass map of red and blue states while complaining about the colors used for the demographics. I can’t figure out what kind of religious purge he is envisioning, or why he thinks 87% of the population that label themselves at Christian are being oppressed and unrepresented. I guess when you live in your own world, isolating yourself from the rest of the country you start to think that people who are different are a danger and need to be “taken care of.”
I have seen this before in my own life. People who are not satisfied with how their lives turned out trying to find someone to blame for their own mistakes in life. If you work in a factory and your job is shipped overseas, well you blame the poor or immigrants. Another school shooting it must be those gun hating liberals trying to take our weapons. Doesn’t matter the shooter came from a conservative home where guns were readily available. Rawles has become the front man of the conservative blame game. Why shouldn’t he? If works great for other outlets like Blaze and FOX news. Give your viewers someone to hate and sent them on their way, hell they will even throw money your way to keep hearing the message. It’s like their own person self help guru feeding the flames of their discontent and pointing them in the direction of their own self destruction. For a group who talks about fiscal responsibility and moral leadership both are lost somewhere on the horizon of their past.
Post that have followed the new years essay have been about funding for the website and asking for money. Rawles won’t use Patreon and instead ask for cheques to be sent to help keep things up and running. Survivalblog.com has become the southern welfare states of America, hating gays, the poor, and minorities while not seeing they are what they attack. In the words of Ron Swanson “people are idiots” and the last day has shown me how right he was.

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The Cat is Out of the Bag

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who is worried about the current world situation. Bob and his wife (names have been changed for safety) have started to buy food for storage and try to figure out other things they might need for surviving the Hitler… I mean trump administration. By the time we left the restaurant, we still had not heard about the threats made towards Iran or the friction between ourselves and one of our greatest allies, the Australians. What we did know was that Trump had ordered a raid on a house in Yemen that resulted in the deaths of 9 women and children and one 8 year old girl who was a US citizen. Keep in mind we have not been in Yemen since early 2015. When the white house was asked about this they stated it was “collateral damage.” There it is. The status of humans in this country or others doesn’t matter to the president of the united states. While others would have pretended to care this guy does not give a shit. That is what scares the hell out of me.

I found out a few weeks ago, that I am going to be a father. While many would say “there is never a good time in life to have a child” my question is: what about a time in history? The scientist that run the doomsday clock have moved the minute had to the closest time ever set even beating the height of the cold war. My long term concern of climate change has been something I always thought would be something I could teach my kids to adapt to and survive.  Now with the crazy nut job that the few in this country elected I don’t know if any of us will be around more than a few years from now.

My friend Bob has a right to be concerned. His daughter is old enough to remember the good old days and still adapt to the new world she will be growing into. My kid however, all of this crazy shit, will be normal. Maybe that’s for the better. There won’t be a chance to deny what is happening or a longing for what we once had.

With the new year, and a new job title that I will have in the coming year (dad) I started to take some steps to try and adapt to the new world. I cleaned out my house taking several boxes of items to the local goodwill. After all the things you own end up owning you. I took out the canning jars from the basement and sorted the seeds I would be planting in the spring. Currently I have four lights focused on tomato and pepper seeds for future planting. My closet was cleaned out and books thinned out to make space for those I would read and concentrated on those that are important and educational. By important I mean classics, anything pertaining to survival.

While my girlfriend and I have discussed moving in together there is one thing that stands out, both of us are upside down in or mortgages. Neither of us can sell. The upside is that I have a huge yard that I can grow food for us in, and I can use several square feet of the house as a tax write off for a personal business. Eventually we will get tired of paying so much for two houses we don’t need but then we have to figure out who’s credit is ruined because of the mistakes made by Alan Greenspan and George W Bush.  The world is changing and my life is changing with it. the garden I hope will relieve some burden from that stress while providing organic healthy food for the three of us.

If I had a child during the bush administration I would have told my child not to join the military, a large problem solve with a simple statement. These days I will have to teach all of the material from my books plus some extras. Camping, fishing, hunting, gardening, shooting, archery, trapping, and much much more. The world of my books, a science fiction/ fantasy world of dystopian rule has become reality. Thanks Trump.

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