Saturday, April 17, 2021



Me and a buddy had an apartment at Brown Trail apartments in 1976. We did everything we could to make sure it was a 24 hour 7 day a week party there.
Somebody brought Cathey over. She was 17, and they said she was a Raiderette. She was the first Raiderette to ever come to our place.
So there she was, a gorgeous long legged blonde with a shapely figure and those blue eyes-- did I say she was blonde-- and I dont know how it came up but I managed to tell her that her ass was a little big for my taste and she slapped me and left.
Forty years later when we started going out she asked me why I had said that to her all those years before.
"Because you were so pretty, and your legs were so long and your entire body so lovely, and your bosom so firm, and you had those Cupid's bow lips, and all that blonde hair and I could barely stand there in front of you without fainting"
"Yes" she said "But what about my ass?"
I blushed and hung my head. "It was perfect too."

Rest In Peace Cathey, Gone Too Soon
9/11/1959 ~ 4/15/2021

Tuesday, March 23, 2021



It would have been Mom and Dads 74th Anniversary. Its hard for me, at the age of 63 and them being gone 35 years now, to believe they had ever been this young.

"In a rush this weekday morning,
I tap the horn as I speed past the cemetery
where my parents lie buried
side by side under a smooth slab of granite.

Then, all day long, I think of him rising up
to give me that look
of knowing disapproval
while my mother calmly tells him to lie back down."

- Billy Collins -

Poem gathered at "Alive On All Channels"

Sunday, March 21, 2021


I moved into my new house a few days ago. It needs a little TLC. And curtains. I woke up last night at 3am, thinking about the damn closet light that wont come on. It would be nice to have a closet light. I went in the kitchen, bare beamed and buck naked, got a butter knife, took the cover off the closet light switch, crossed the terminals with the butter knife and the light came on! Top wire was a little loose. Project complete!

Tonight I plan to tackle the doorbell. If anyone wants to stop by, or wants to learn about how a doorbell works, the show starts at Midnight.

Monday, March 15, 2021



"People are always getting ready for tomorrow. I didn't believe in that. Tomorrow wasn't getting ready for them. It didn't even know they were there."
Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Friday, March 05, 2021


Back when I first got on FB, and there were all my sisters old pals; Suzi, Carol, Susan S, and Maureen O. And I’d leave a comment now and then about an old girlfriend from 1972 who had moved away. I’d say (imagine a really whiny voice) “Where is Rhonda? Why? Why is Rhonda not here on FB? Y’all have to find her for me.” They would laugh at me and say they lost track of her, maybe she was still in Phoenix, or Utah, and what was her married name?

And for a year or two, I’d ask about her every now and then, in as whiny a voice as I could without whiny voice font. Really, I’d just liked to have known that she was OK, and I wanted them to know I had not forgotten about Rhonda I.

But after two or three years of this, I changed my tack. I started pretending I was mad at her (in my mad whiny voice).
“Forget about us finding Rhonda! Why is she not LOOKING FOR US! We are all right here, just waiting for her to show up!”
And they would all laugh at me and promise they would look for her.

Then-- after six years of asking about her-- about three years ago Susan S sends me a message. She has found her, and there is a pic of her in a white sweater, waving, and she had a black beret on, and I’d have recognized her anywhere.
Susan said “She is still in Phoenix!” and I just got the feeling that was that, and really shouldn’t ask a bunch of questions. I was satisfied to see this pic, and to think that she was doing well.

So another two years go by, and I’m at a bar last year and Carol is there.
I’m talking with her, and I say “Hey guess what I got?”
“What do you have Steve?”
“I’ve got a picture of Rhonda from a couple years ago! Susan found her!”
I said it like I was bragging, like I was something special.
Carol says “That’s nothing. I see her all the time on Facebook!”

 So now I’m all set for my imagination to start running wild. Why didn’t Susan tell me? How is it everybody is friends with Rhonda except for me? Maybe she's hated me for 49 years.
but no, Rhonda could never have a bitter heart. So I went looking for her on FB. It wasn’t easy. Didn’t know her last name. I can’t see Carols FB page because she blocked me years ago. I’m way too liberal. I voted for Reagan twice and Bush three times, I like less government control mostly and own 4 guns, but I’m a whacked out Liberal. And on Susan’s page, I cant find any Rhonda’s. Finally, I get a brainstorm. I’ve got my sisters log in, so I go to her page and look at Carols page.

There she is on Carols page.

So now I have to figure out what I want to do. Should I friend her, even though my overall gut feeling from Susan is that she isn't looking for new friends? Or should I just go ahead and inflict myself upon her!
I went back and forth for a long time. Part of me said, like Rick said in Casablanca “If she can stand it so can I” and another part said “Stop being so weird and overthinking this thing. If she doesn’t want to be friends, she’s a big girl and just wont accept the request. It really is just that easy!”

I tell you what. If it wasn’t for COVID, and all the isolation, it might have taken me a lot longer to contact her. But she accpted the request that same day. She seemed delighted to be found. Its been such fun chatting it up, getting reaquainted, and being able to trade gifts. And a blessing too!
And that’s the story of how I finally came to send Rhonda a friend request months after having located her, and years after whining to her friends that they must find Rhonda for me.

One big question I had for Rhonda was whether she remembered a poster she gave me in 1972. It hung on my wall long after she moved to Phoenix. There is no way she could know how much the poster had burned itself into my psyche, and how it had seemed to be the theme of my whole life, and got me through the numerous heartbreaks I’ve had, and love found and lost, and found again.
It took my breath a little when she replied "I wondered if you would remember"

Amazing. You can still buy the exact same poster after all these years.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021


In High School they tested me to see what career I should choose. They recommended I be a preacher. I shit you not, that is what they said. You probably should not drop acid before you do such an evaluation.

Monday, February 08, 2021


 Continued from “Return To Living”

...That is how I came to remove myself from a burned out trailer and rejoined the world of the living. Its August of 004 and now I’ve got an apartment and a job. The kids live just a mile away. I'm back in their lives for the first time in almost two years.  I can walk to work at Subway Sandwiches, two blocks. It pays 6.50 an hour, plus a sandwich a day, and all the cookies I can eat. That’s a major move up from eating dry ramen noodles right out of the pack, although they do make a nice crunchy little snack if you are so inclined. Its an end to eyeballing the chickens that run across the Chester Boyer road right up the way from the old trailer and trying to run over one when I would pass by. Dinner. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Out at the trailer I did do a little work. An occasional odd job and a couple tile jobs where I didn’t charge near enough. I had a guy’s lot I mowed from time to time. Perhaps my most steady job, that I kept for about 6 months was as a sampler at the grocery store. You’ve seen them; usually little old ladies with a booth set up, sampling little cups filled with the latest Ritz wheat cracker, and maybe she has some peanut butter or a slice of the California Happy Cow cheese to go with it.

Having been a chef for 30 years, it felt a little like being in the old chef’s graveyard, or on Lumpfish Row haha,  but for 3 days a week it let me get out of the trailer and engage with human beings and talk to strangers about food. I had fun. I’m good at being a loner and isolating myself, which I had done at the trailer. But I love people. I love talking to them. It makes me happy to see them. And I was probably the best food sampler ever. Not probably. I WAS. The lady I worked for told me so. At Thanksgiving I sold more Spiral sliced hams than anyone in the nation. I had women lined up around the block to buy a ham. I got a bonus!

Its because I’m loud. And when called upon have no problem calling attention to myself. I remember at  Kroger one day-- I don’t remember what I was selling-- a woman popped her head out from an aisle about 4 rows down.
“Steve Bulletholes?” she says.
“YES!” says I.
And she starts walking toward me. I don’t recognize her at all until she is about ten feet away. I hadn’t seen her in about 5 years.
“Well, I’ll be,  my old friend Terri! How are you Terri!” I say.
“I’m fine. How are you Steve?”
“I’m good. But I have to ask you. How did you know it was me from thirty feet away?”
She says “Steve, I knew it was you when I walked in the front door. Don’t you not have an inside voice?”
And we both just laughed. Dumb question.

Then one day the display lady brought me a chef’s hat to wear. I told her I was not going to wear a chefs hat to sell anything at a grocery store display. It was humiliating enough to be a chef reduced to this, but I had to draw the line somewhere.
“You’re my best guy” she pleaded.
“Not going to happen.”
"Then I have to let you go"

Funny, how you start out to write one thing and something else just falls out. This is what I was supposed to write:

I had the apartment and the Subway job for about three months. But I was still spending a good portion of my paycheck on dope. And I don’t mean pot. I mean serious adult dope that ruins lives dope. And after about 3 months I was far enough behind on the rent that on the 5th of December I had to go to my apartment manager and tell them they may as well start the eviction process. I still owed for November and didn't have a red cent to give them. Whatever break I’d gotten getting out of that trailer, I had  blown it . And then I had to go to the Ex Mrs Bullets.

She was pretty calm. She said “C’mon, I’m going to take you down to Kelly Girls and they will find you another job.
I said “Kelly Girls? That’s like office work, right? I talk too loud and laugh too hard to work in an office”.
But like before I just did what she said.
We got down to Kelly and the manger, Liz, said “We don’t do walk ins, but I can schedule you for an interview tomorrow morning”. An interview was set for 9AM the next morning.
I worked my shift at Subway, and sometime during the night I got cold feet. I can’t work for Kelly. I don’t know anything about office work. And the next morning I called Liz at Kelly.
“Liz, I ended up having to work this morning. I’m not going to be able to make it in” I lied.
“OK Steve. Would you like to reschedule? And I want you to know if you reschedule, and cancel again, then I cant reschedule another one. Ever”
It was a cusp. I hadn’t trusted anything I’d done in years. But someone was willing to tell me what to do, and I guess I could trust that.
“Sure!  Let’s do tomorrow!”
And I made it to the interview. I could tell Liz liked me. That is always a good thing, when someone likes you. I think part of why she liked me was something I learned at Subway. That it is a good thing for people think YOU LIKE THEM. Smile, say hello, be pleased to meet them.

I told her that I needed a job within two miles of my residence because of transportation issues. This was on Friday 12/10/2004. She called that afternoon. She had a job at the airport. “Too far” I told her.
An hour went by. She called again.
“I have a job at 4510 Blue Jay Way. Its in your zip code. Can you be there Monday morning to interview?”

So duly I arrived Monday morning. Talked with the manager. He said they did communication systems for the airlines industry.
‘I wont have to talk to pilots, and talk them down when something goes wrong up there, will I?” I asked.
“No Steve, we don’t do much of that around here.”
I could tell he had a great sense of humor and he liked me. I liked him. Liz called that afternoon. I started the next morning at 8:00 making 12.50 an hour.


I started the next morning at 8:00 making 12.50 an hour. Double my wage at Subway. It was a Tuesday, the 14th of the month. I managed to get 40 hours in by Friday. I turned in my time, and on Monday the 21st I got my check. Apparently, Kelly is fast getting you paid. Between that and the check I’d received from Subway on Friday I paid rent in full.
Paid in full.
I’m not real good at saying it, but Someone was sure looking out for me. Through all of this, including those darker days at the trailer, Someone was looking out.  I continued to work both jobs for a few months. It was quite a learning curve between using computers and learning office etiquette. Around May of 2005 the company offered me a job as a full time regular employee. It’s a large corporation with a top-notch benefits package I was no longer the best Kelly Girl ever. (That’s what Liz called me).
And I’m still there now.
Sixteen years later, and I'm still there now. 
Believe it or not but I still talk too loud and laugh too hard. But some people in the company will call me just to hear me say "Good Morning". I give the best good morning in the business.

Its amazing what can happen if you follow some instructions. Learn to say OK, you're right. One thing I think I’ve learned about all this is that we seem to continually mess up Gods plan. God doesn’t always plan it, any more than we plan for the pooch to shit on the living room floor or chew up a new pair of shoes. But He allows it, and then goes to work when you let Him. He uses it, and we learn to use it too. It can become our ministry.

It would be a few more years before I finally quit doing dope. But that is a whole ‘nother story.

See the chef on the pizza box?
Thats the ultimate degradation right there. Being the model for a pizza box cover.
But a mans gonna do what he has to do!

Friday, February 05, 2021


I lived for 18 months in a  burned out trailer. Like my son says, I just kinda threw in the towel. Fell out of love with being a chef and got chewed up and spit out trying to be a tilesetter for a few years. It was excruciating, and by the time I got to that trailer with no electricity and no plumbing I didn’t care if I ever worked again. And somehow in Gods good plan, the trailer and Arnold blessed me with blessings that extend to the present.
(follow linky's)

But this part of the story is about how I got OUT of the trailer. Its quite simple really.
I let someone tell me what to do.
My ex wife came out there one day and said “You cant do this. You got two kids that need you. What do we have to do to get you to re-engage?”. She may not have been as pleasant about it as all that. But when she decides the heavens and earth must move, the heavens and earth shall move
I told her I had no drivers license, no social security card, no birth certificate, no prospects, a car that didn’t hardly run, and no telling how many warrants out for my arrest.
I said "Frankly, I have never heard of anyone being quite as lame as I am right now."
When I look back, that right there may have been the finest thing I have ever said.

Well, the first thing we did was go downtown. She pretended to be my sister so that we could get a copy of my birth certificate. We went to the post office and I filled out a voters registration card. With a Birth Certificate and a voters registration you can get a Texas ID Card. I could not get a drivers license. Wouldn’t you know that my license had been suspended for some time? A result of the stack of registration, inspection and no insurance tickets I had piled up.

So when she dropped me off at the trailer, she said she would be back in a few days and we could go get an ID Card. I got out of the car, and the wind was blowing about 40 miles an hour. As she pulled away, my birth certificate blew out of my hand, and I had to chase it a half mile down the railroad tracks. If I’d lost that certificate she would have skinned me alive.

So 3 days later and here she is. We go get me an ID. Then she takes me to her neighborhood, where the kids live. “Your going to find a job today” she says. We went to the grocery, where I applied. We went to an MRI Imaging place, where I applied. We went to an IHOP, where I didn’t want to, but I applied because that’s what she told me to do. I was wanting to ask how I was going to get to these jobs, my burned out trailer being 15 miles away, but figured I'd just follow instructions for now.

Then we went to Subway Sandwich shop. I walked in and found the manager. I said “I was a chef for 25 years, and I swore I would never work food service again, so…HERE I AM!”
She said “Can you close?”
“Yes ma’am, I’m the best closer in the business. You’ll walk in in the morning and wonder why your job just got easier, and your coffee suddenly started tasting sweeter.”
She hired me on the spot.
But the ex Mrs Bulletholes, she wasn’t done. We went across the street to an apartment complex. It was like the cheapest in the city.
She said “Go in there and rent an apartment”
“But I don’t have a deposit. And working at Subway isn’t enough money to rent an apartment.”
“Tell them you do tile too”
“But...” and I started to say my car doesn’t run good enough to do tile, but by the look on her face I changed my mind and just said “OK”
(As an aside here, let me say there are three thing I’ve found to be very helpful things to say in any given situation: “Youre Right”, “I’m Sorry” and “OK”. There's a fourth one too, but it takes some practice knowing when to say it, and you don’t really say it out loud. It is “SO WHAT?” and you say it to yourself.)
So I went in and schmoozzed the nice apartment lady and walked out with a lease in my hand, based on having a job I hadn’t actually, you know, started yet. 

That is how I came to remove myself from living in a burned out trailer and rejoined the world of the living. After almost two years I would be able to see the kids regular again. But that’s only half the story. Its difficult to keep an apartment on Subway Sandwich wages, especially if you are doing dope. And despite bankruptcies, foreclosures, divorces, evictions, being a deadbeat dad, the degrading of basic moral fiber, and 18 months of living in a burned out trailer, I was still doing dope.

To be continued...



Deceased Pope Formosus was impeached by Pope Stephen the 6th and the Catholic Church in 897. Formosus body was exhumed; he was dressed in the papal vestments, seated on a throne and he stood trial, dead as a doornail. He was found guilty of being unworthy of the office.
The damnatio memoriae (erased history) was applied to Formosus, all his measures and acts were annulled, and the orders conferred by him were declared invalid. The papal vestments were torn from his body, the three fingers from his right hand he had used in blessings were cut off, and the corpse was thrown into the Tiber, later to be retrieved by a monk.
Following the death of Stephen VI, Formosus' body was reinterred in St Peter's Basilica and further trials of this nature against deceased persons were banned

Thursday, January 28, 2021


 Last year I was on pace to pretty much double my blogging production from the last several years. 
Sixty posts in July had me on track for over one hundred post for the year. I hadnt had a year like that in a long time. My best year production wise was when I first got clean in 2009.
340 posts in a 365 day period!

I'm not sure why I fell off last year. COVID Fatigue? Isolation? Politics? Lack of Interest? Probably all of the above. Also, after 15 years of blogging sometimes you just run out of stories to tell, especially if you stop paying attention.

Anyway, I know a lot of people that write about writing but never actually write anything. 
I'm not going to start doing that, but maybe this will help jump start me for 2021.

Sunday, November 22, 2020




I am inside U Break It We Fix It holding my sons’ shattered iPad. “Hello,” I call out. No one answers. The counter glows white, and the walls are empty. “Hello? Hello?” I wait a few minutes before calling out again. “One minute,” says a raspy voice from the back of the store. Hope swells in my chest. Here We comes. We will fix it. A man in rumpled clothes emerges. I put the shattered iPad on the counter. “Don’t put it there,” We says. I quickly lift it off the counter. We sprays sanitizer on the spot I touched and wipes it dry with a paper towel. I hold up the broken screen so We can see It, and a little shard of glass drops to the floor with a plink. “Yeah, no,” We says. “Yeah no, what?” I ask. We says the soldering work required would cost more than a new iPad. We says it would take weeks. “Possibly months.” To be sure We asks me to read the serial number off the back of the iPad. I read the numbers, and We silently types them into a computer. “Yeah,” We says. “It isn’t worth it.” I just stand there. “But if I break It, it says We fix It.” I point to the sign that is the name of the store. Even if We has to send it far, far away. Even if it takes the handiwork of one hundred mothers with long white beards and God inside their fingertips, We should fix it. We promised. Even if all We ever do is just try to fix It, We should try. But the man is gone. He has already disappeared into the back of the store.

The next week, I return to U Break It We Fix It with a whole entire country. It’s heavy, but I manage to carry it through the parking lot leaving behind a trail of seeds and the crisp scent of democracy and something that smells like blood or dirt. Across it is a growing crack. A child, too young to be alone, is out in front holding a broken country, too. “Store’s gone out of business,” says the child. I shift the country to one arm and try to peer in, but it’s shuttered and dark. “Told you,” says the child. “Out of business.” I text my husband: “U Break It We Fix It is closed. I’ve come here for nothing … again.” When I look up the whole parking lot is full of children holding countries. “Is this U Break It We Fix It?” they ask. “It once was,” says the first child, “but now it’s closed.” The children hold their countries closer, like a doll or an animal. I want to drive them all home but they’re all holding countries and there are far too many of them. “I’m sorry,” I say too quietly for any of the children to hear. I don’t ask them where their mothers are or how they got here or how they will get home.

Instead I walk quickly back to my car. A little shard of glass falls out of my country with a plink. I pick the shard up and hold it to the sunlight. A rainbow, just for a second, falls over the children. Plink! Plink! Plink! Shards of glass are falling out of the children’s countries, too. It sounds like an ice storm, but the sky is blue and the children are dry as bones. I don’t want to stay to see what happens next. I drive away. I leave the children cradling their broken countries. I have no idea where any of them live, or how to fix anything, or what to do with this shard of glass. At a red light, I put the shard in the glove compartment and forget about it for days.

In Exodus, the first set of ten commandments (broken by Moses) is not buried but placed in the Aron Hakodesh (the holy ark) beside the new, unbroken tablets, which the Jews carry through the wilderness for forty years. I imagine the broken tablets leaning against the unbroken ones telling them secrets only broken things know. I imagine the weight of the broken tablets, and the heat, and the thirst, and the frustration. Why didn’t we just leave the broken tablets behind? What good is all this carrying?To know your history is to carry all your pieces, whole and shattered, through the wilderness. And feel their weight.

“Mama,” say my sons one thousand times a day, “can you fix this?” Hulk’s head has fallen off, or the knees of a favorite pair of pants are torn, or the bike chain has snapped, or there is slime on Eli’s favorite polar bear, or the switch is stuck, or the spring broke off, or Superman’s cape is hanging by a thread, or … “What even is this?” “Oh, that?” says Noah, my nine-year-old. “It’s where the batteries are supposed to go.” “But for what?” I ask. Noah and I study it for a whole entire minute. “I have zero idea,” he says.

What breaks most often in fairy tales are spells, and when a spell is broken the world is restored. The beast turns back into a prince, the kingdom wakes up, and a girl’s tears dissolve the shards of glass in a boy’s cold heart. I look up the word “spell.” It means the letters that form a word in correct sequence, and it means a period of time, and it means a state of enchantment. All of these things bind. But there is one last definition I catch, at the bottom. Spell also means a splinter of wood. What binds is also what cracks off. A spell is also what strays from the whole. This splinter of wood feels like a clue to a mystery I hope to never solve. I add the splinter (that is, a spell) to the shard of glass in my glove compartment. I leave them there together in the dark.

We are knee-deep in broken things. I wade through the kitchen, and the news, and our yard. The dryer is making a sound. The country is divided. Tree limbs are everywhere. “How did the switch break off the lamp?” I ask Eli, my seven-year-old. He shrugs. “It’s like a miracle,” he says.

In Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” a demon makes a mirror in which the image of whatever is good or beautiful dwindles to almost nothing, while the image of anything horrible appears even more horrible: “In the mirror the loveliest landscapes looked like boiled spinach, and the kindest people looked hideous or seemed to be standing on their heads with their stomachs missing.” The demon’s disciples travel all over the world with the mirror until there is not “a single country or person left to disfigure in it.” Then they fly to heaven to distort God and the angels, but the mirror shakes hard with laughter and shatters into a “hundred million billion pieces.” The air fills with mirror dust, and the glass blows into the eyes and the hearts of people everywhere. Each shard has the exact same power as the whole entire mirror. Whoever gets mirror in them is cursed with a hardened heart, and with seeing the ugliness of everything.

In Jewish mysticism there is a phase of Genesis called Tsim Tsum that is like the inside-out version of this fairy tale. The glass is not from a demon, but from God. According to the cabalists, in order to give the world life, in order to effect creation, God must depart from the world God created. The creator must always exile himself from the creation for the creation to breathe. God contracts to make space so that the world can exist. But right before the departure, God (like a mother) stuffs divine light into vessels that will be left behind. The vessels cannot contain God’s light, and burst, and shards of light are scattered everywhere. Gershom Scholem explains that we spend our lives collecting the offspring of this light. We spend our lives trying to make what once was broken whole again. This, according to the cabalists, begins the history of trauma.

In “The Snow Queen,” the good widow crow wraps a bit of black woolen yarn around her leg to grieve her dead sweetheart. I feel I should wrap something around my leg, too. It is almost the middle of November. I grieve for the past four years. They were such sick and tired years and so much fell to pieces. There is so much mirror dust in our eyes. “Move on,” texts my mother. “Up and out,” texts my mother. I get up and go to my car. I open the glove compartment. The shard is in the shape of a country that seems vaguely familiar, and the splinter is long and sharp like a tongue. I should’ve stayed with the children and helped them pick up the pieces. Maybe if we had put all our pieces together the pieces would’ve spelled something. Maybe it would have been a word we need, and now we’ll never know. I drive back to U Break It We Fix It. Someone has painted over the sign but the words are still legible like a body under a thin sheet. The store is still dark and shuttered and the parking lot is empty except for a crow who has a bit of black woolen yarn around her leg. The crow stares at me. “Hi crow,” I say. I notice something shiny in her beak. She drops it at my feet. It’s a shard of glass that fits with my shard of glass perfectly. When I put the two pieces together it looks like a transparent hand reaching out to help someone up. I want to jump for joy. We have only one hundred million billion pieces to go.In exchange, I give the crow the splinter. She picks it up in her beak where a tongue begins to grow. “Sit down,” says the crow. And I sit down in the middle of the parking lot. Just me and the crow on a soft autumn night. “Listen,” says the crow. And I listen. And she tells me a fairy tale I’ve never heard before about a whole entire country that almost disappeared.

Sabrina Orah Mark is the author of the poetry collections The Babies and Tsim Tsum. Wild Milk, her first book of fiction, is recently out from Dorothy, a publishing project. She lives, writes, and teaches in Athens, Georgia.

[Paris Review]