Category Archives: Roland

The charred and laughing remains of Roland Bland.

I’ve heard other people say things that sound a lot like, “My life is a Roman Polanski film,” or some such thing. Do I believe in people when they say these kinds of things? No, of course not. And what happens when you doubt a thing that someone insists has happened? Life turns around and teaches you that you’re an idiot.

I will now share in brief detail the story of the recent past and the near future. The story of how my life turned into a very fucked up art-house film. Well, I will tell what I remember.

I was in the woods somewhere in Massachusetts, killed a fish after watching it swim around in a small bucket full of lake water, listened to it bang its head against the tin cylinder until I no longer remembered who I was, and then I cut all of its fins off with my pocket knife, put it back in the bucket of water, slowly poured the water out, laughed a bit, until the fish laid on its side, sucking at whatever little life liquid was left. I drank cheap vodka, ate trail mix, smoked Benson & Hedges cigarettes for two days, watching, gazing, until I was sure my fish was dead. Then I bit its head off, got in my Navion, drove somewhere, crashed somewhere, walked somewhere, and forgot everything.

I woke up in the infirmary of a county jail near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were pumping me full of drugs that made me groggy and clumsy and sad. I’d blink my eyes, and I’d be laying in a bed talking with my lawyer friend (the one who recently sold my house). I’d blink my eyes, and I’d be crying in a damp jail cell. I’d blink my eyes, and I’d be in a court room, I’d catch glimpses of phrases: “in the second-degree,” and “Carl Potts, a 16-year-old boy,” and “bludgeoned him with a tire iron,” and “unfit to stand trial,” and “motion denied,” and other blurry ideas that have now completely escaped me. I’d blink my eyes, and I’d be holding on to bricks in a wall, grinding my teeth in agony, realizing there was a corrections officer behind me, inside me. I’d blink my eyes, and I’d be sitting with my lawyer friend again.

All I really know is that I am “out on bail.” Most of my money is gone. My lawyer friend told me I will be convicted. My lawyer told me, “as a friend,” that I will spend 15 years in prison, with a plea bargain.

My Navion iQ was impounded for evidence. I have just under $28,000 left, all in cash. I’ve made a decision to run. And so I am running. Terrified. I will never again see anyone I’ve ever loved. I will never again hear a beautiful woman say, “I love you, Roland Bland.” Instead, it will be an “I love you, Peter Samsa,” or an “I love you, Gregor Clarke,” or something equally absurd and meaningless to my soul. My lawyer friend tells me there’s a guy I have to go see in Indianappolis, a guy who is going to give me the neccessary paper and plastic, a guy who is going to make me disappear and then reappear with an entirely new identity. New name, new face, new life.

A few months ago, things were bubbling up inside of me. I knew big changes were coming. I was right. I looked at myself in a mirror this morning. My knees buckled. I can barely recognize my own face at this point. There are new scars all over my body, and inside my body too. A few months ago, I knew who I was, I knew where I’d been, I knew where I was going to be in the future. All of that is gone. There used to be security in knowing everything, and now there is a strange cousin of security… in knowing nothing at all.

Soon, everything will be gone. And soon, everything will be brand new. And soon, everything in the world will be staring at me, waiting for my next move, waiting to react to my reaction. Soon, Roland Bland will be a ghost, and I will be an entirely new human being. I am not lying when I tell you how very little I still know of my self. But, at the very least, I know that I have the audacity to call myself human… even after everything else that may or may not have happened.

On the road again.

/////ROLAND/////

I’m on the road. I’m on the road. I’m ON THE ROAD. I did it. My lawyer friend, Bob (he’s not a friend, I actually hate his guts and I’m pretty sure he fucked Louisa when we first started dating, but he’s the only real estate lawyer I know), is taking care of the closing on the house and all of that. I sold all of my photography gear, a ton of antique furniture from the basement, and every god damn shred of Louisa she left behind. Her mother is gone. No, not dead, I’m not that lucky. I put her up in one of those 55+ senior living communities. Rent’s paid for 6 months, by me of course, and after that… well. Let me put it this way: I am never going to see that atrocious old bitch ever again.

Speaking of which, I did get a mysterious letter from Lou a while back. A few weeks, I think. She said nothing important. A few apologies, a few “I am doing well” type statements. I got the overwhelming sensation that the woman has lost her mind, just like I’ve been doing lately, and I simply don’t care. She didn’t leave a return address, so I assume she wasn’t hoping I’d write back or, even better, come by for a visit. So, what is the answer? Fuck Louisa, fuck her mother, fuck me, fuck everyone.

Me and the road. Goodbye, New Jersey.

I bought (sort of) a 2008 Itasca Navion iQ Mobile Home. I put down a pretty serious down payment, and once the house is sold, I’m going to be kind of rich so… I went for it. I am in love with this thing already! I set sail one week ago, after some neurotic preparations, and I feel like a new man already. This thing, it’s amazing. I’ve got a big fridge, a two-burner stove, full bathroom with a decent shower, queen-sized bed, great stereo system, two LCD TVs, DVD player, tons of storage… it is like home. Except I don’t want to crawl out of my own skin every time I step inside.

Before I left, like I said, I sold pretty much everything. I wanted to have a fresh start. So I went shopping. I did some major, major shopping. I got myself a ton of camping gear, so I can stop and spend a night in the woods anytime I want. I bought a laptop computer, so I can write more, and I can research where I’m headed on the road, and keep up to date with the lawyer. I went a little nuts and bought 73 DVDs (mostly old samurai movies, a few westerns, and everything Will Farrell ever starred in) for the boring nights. I also started drinking alcohol a few months ago, I mean heavily drinking, so I basically have a full bar in the RV now. I think my bill at the liquor store was $436.07 or something like that. I also bought a lot of CDs, but just the stuff that would be good for the road. I got a lot of The Eagles, Waylon Jennings, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Juice Newton, Johnny Cash, and under the recommendation of the nice lady at Best Buy, I bought a CD by some band called “Notorious BIG” or something? I think it’s space jazz, I don’t know. In case I’ve never mentioned it, I’ve never been a big fan of music. I listened to some orchestral music when I was a kid but, I don’t know, it just never did anything for me. I like some of the old country stuff because it’s better than silence, it sounds good on the highway, and it’s easy to tune out when I want to.

I like to look up things on the internet when I roll into a town that looks different than the rest. Right now, I’m just east of Amherst, Massachussetts. Camping next to the Quabbin Reservoir. On yelp.com, I found a bait & tackle shop in a town to the north and tomorrow I’m going to try fishing for the first time in my life.

I figured it’s a good idea to head all the way up to Northern Maine, and then travel across the entire country to Southern California and then up into Oregon and Washington, and who knows where after that? I’ve been to the south a bunch, as my family hails mostly from Georgia and Kentucky, and I don’t feel a need to travel down there anytime soon. I’d like to first focuse on the places I’ve never been.

Up here, I haven’t met anyone too interesting yet, but I sure hope to soon. I think once I get up to Caribou, Maine (that’s my starting point, when I will really start this trip), I am going to try and go through all of the big cities. I have no time restrictions, and money really isn’t an issue. To be perfectly honest, I think I will probably off myself at the end of this trip, so I’d really like to “Carpe Diem,” as they say. I will turn this trip into 6 months or a year or two years, I will make sure it is the greatest time of my entire life, and then I will die with some dignity. Maybe I will drive my Navion iQ into the Grand Canyon or off of Niagara Falls. Or maybe I will get piss drunk one night, throw gasoline all over the interior, light it up, and drive straight into a small-town gas station and make the biggest fireworks display those poor people have ever seen.

It’s exciting to think morbidly now. I was always afraid of that. Not really afraid, but it never seemed right. It never seemed to be what normal people did. And, since I’ve spent my entire life trying to blend in and do what is expected of me, it feels pretty good to stray from that. I’m still thinking about murder as an option, just because it seems like it would be a lot of fun, but I’m not sure. I really think my ass is too sweet, and I wouldn’t fare well in prison. Maybe right before the end. Right before it’s time for me to die, I’ll try to kill 1,000 people in one fell swoop. I don’t know. That’s a long time away. For now, I have to get some rest. The old man at the bait & tackle shop said I should get up at 5 in the morning if I want to catch anything good.

Is it wrong of me to admit that I really only want to catch a fish so I can slice and dice it and taste its blood? I’ve been fantasizing about it for hours now. I might eat it raw. I can’t wait!!

Navion iQ

////ROLAND////

I am selling the house, that’s it. I had it appraised at $280,000. I’m sure if I try and sell it for $250k, it’ll go quickly. I’m going to give the mother-in-law a cut of the money, and tell her to fuck off. I don’t care anymore, I really don’t. Lou isn’t coming back, and I’m not going anywhere. So, my answer to all of this? I am going somewhere indeed.

I’ve always wanted to get a winnebago. I am going to get one. I am going to drive around this country until I don’t hate myself anymore. I am going to buy a big fucking winnebago, and I’m just going to go. I will finally do all of the things I’ve been too petrified to do. I will drive to Graceland and have gay sex with an underage Elvis impersonator. I will visit the baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown. I will gamble away $5,000 in Las Vegas. I will try to smoke some drugs, although I’m not sure I’ll enjoy that. But it’s worth a try.

I’ve decided to embrace the bad language and the evil thoughts too. I have been drinking everyday, and I like it. And I’ve even gone out to get drunk, in bars, with people. Everyone is sad in bars though. And there are too many young kids with fake IDs. I did meet a nice guy named Fred the other night. What a name for a guy in a bar, Fred. We talked about They Might Be Giants, the nerd band we both loved in high school. And we talked about freedom; Fred is a rider of motorcycles. It was stupid, just a small talk that lasted less than an hour while we both got shitfaced. But it was the most human contact I’ve had in almost two years now. He said he’d see me around, and I really hope he’s right. I’ve gone back to that bar every night for the last 4 nights, but no Fred.

The Winnebago is on my mind a lot though. I have seen a few movies where people travel around in winnebagos and have great experiences. They meet American families, and travelers, and transients. People in RVs have a good time. That’s what I want. No, no, I don’t want it. But I need it.

I woke up the other morning and saw that the water in the neighbor’s pool was pink. I wanted to laugh, but I cried a little bit. I can’t believe I did that. I can’t do that anymore. No more playing with sharp objects for Roland. If I want to hurt someone, I should stick to self-destruction only. The innocent are innocent.

I don’t have a lot else to say right now. I am in transit. Things are changing though. Things are looking up, even. I certainly don’t think I’m cured. But I am looking at things differently now. I have more power than I give myself credit for. So I’m going to work on that, building myself up. Maybe I’ll find away to use my energy wisely. No more sharp objects though.

Hopefully I’ll be able to write about my new Winnebago pretty soon. I am excited. Ha! Me, excited? Who knew?!

Medium Hazelnut, please.

Someone asked me something the other day, and it was the worst question I’ve ever been asked: “Roland, when did you become such a sad sap?” The reason this question upset me is because I know the answer, I know the whole entire miserable story. I just don’t know how much of it to tell. On the other side of this issue is the idea that I’d rather spend my time making a newer, happier story– instead of recounting the long sad one I’ve been living these past few years. And how much of the sad story can I tell while simultaneously living my new and fabulous life, without expecting to somehow be dragged back down by the old pains? Where does the grey area live? Is there a proper equation for this type of thing? There has to be an equation, there always is. And I will find and understand it. Eventually. Because I am a finder of things, and I am an understander of things.

The funny part is that this all happened to me while standing in the deli waiting for my coffee this morning. The woman behind the counter- her name is Joanne, and I’ve been eye-fucking her five days a week while she whips up my hazelnut coffee, for a few years now. So on this one particular morning, when she asked me the worst question I’ve ever been asked, I didn’t say a word at first. I couldn’t. Nobody in the deli wants to hear about death, disease, abortion, and abandonment. So my brain (which thinks way faster than it speaks) went through the merry-go-round of my current ‘reliving past memories versus forming new present realities’ problem, and then I managed an answer to her question: “I only look this miserable when I have to deal with you, you miserable cunt.” Whoa.

Uh-oh.

“Roland, what the fuck?!” Joanne and I have exchanged witty banter for a long time now, but this came from a violent and primitive place inside of myself that I did not know existed. I had momentarily lost control of my mouth. I DON’T USE WORDS LIKE THAT.

I scrambled to justify it all to myself, while trying to outwardly display something that looked/sounded like regret. Truth is, I felt amazing and alive and I was having a hard time holding back my laughter. “I… I’m so sorry. I don’t know what… I’m really, I can’t believe.. Joanne, I…”

I was walking out the door while my labored apology was still skipping and stumbling and bouncing around the air in front of my mouth. I was slightly embarrassed about saying “the ‘C’ word” in public and I was mortified by the fact that I would have to find a new place for my morning coffee.

Mostly, though, I couldn’t stop myself from feeling like this was the greatest thing to happen to me in years. Speaking such unkindly words to a woman who has never done me any harm, well… I don’t know how to explain it. This is a very new thing for me. The bad words lately and the fantasizing about death… Oh. You know what else? I did something the other night. It was atrocious and it was beautiful.

There had been a bag of old lightbulbs hanging from a shelf in my basement for ages. None of them worked, and I was pretty sure that they were never going to magically start working again. I sometimes have a hard time parting with things like lightbulbs, because of an experience I had as a kid. I was visiting some family members out in the deserts of California, and at some point we passed by a peculiar roadside attraction. There was some poor old bastard who’d built a castle out of garbage and scrap metal in the middle of nowhere. But I was in awe of this idea. I mean, this was aesthetically magnificent, and it was completely made of busted hubcaps and shredded truck tires, burnt-out lightbulbs, rusty plumbing fixtures, all of the things that normal people throw away. I admired this man’s vision. So much so that I think he spoke to me in a dream one time, and told me to never throw away anything unless it looks broken. If it is functionally broken, that’s fine. Things don’t have to work to be beautiful. So. I kept my lightbulbs (and many things that are pointless to bring up right now) in a plastic bag.

Once again, I don’t know what possessed me. But the other night, I smashed the bag of bulbs on the ground until I knew they were all broken up pretty well. I hopped my neighbor’s fence and dumped the bag’s razor-sharp contents into the shallow end of their swimming pool. Now, I haven’t seen the water turn red yet, but I’ve been watching and waiting. As excited as I am to see the event and then the reaction, I must admit I feel very satisfied just having set it all up. Maybe I will feel even better if I don’t watch. But no, I’m watching as often as I can. From the upstairs bedroom, which has a perfect view of the neighbors’ entire backyard.

Here’s the thing though: all of this stuff is making me feel wonderful. Like I’ve awoken within myself some quiet potential to be a monster. Or maybe not even a monster. Maybe I can just be an ill-tempered joker. A player-of-jokes. A man who makes hilarious things happen. Hilarious things that may sometimes involve a little blood or emotional despair or financial ruin. I could be a superhero, or a diabolical anti-hero. Well, I don’t have a motive or a message. Do I need to have a message? Do I need to have a cause or something to prove? Or is it possible that I can just… have fun at others’ expense without thinking too much about why?

I’ve done everything the right way for as long as I can remember, and look where it has all gotten me. I’m too old for my age. I’m all alone. I don’t smile anymore ever. I dread waking up every single day. I already know that something has to be done. So maybe until I figure it all out, maybe it’s alright for me to make some mischief along the way.

And the underlying truth is the important thing here: I seem to be losing control of myself when I least expect. So perhaps letting off a little steam is healthy for now, that way I can hopefully maintain a bit of control, instead of doing something truly horrible– something I won’t be want to laugh at.

So that’s settled then. Fun. Harmless fun that may require a band-aid or two, but never anything more than a few stitches. Yes. And laughing. It is time for some fun and laughter. You know what else? I should really sell this goddamn house. I hate it here. Why am I still here? She’s never coming back, and though I never say it aloud, I know the only reason I’m still here is because I’m waiting for her. You know what? FUCK HER. I should get the fuck out this place.

I will be a one-man roadshow of cuts and bruises and minor upsets. I will… Well. Whatever it is, I will surely be something more than what I am today.

The Oriole Incident.

My name is Roland Bland. There are some things that I need to say. The silent brooding, something I’m quite famous for, is getting old. And it might even be getting dangerous.

When I stepped off the porch this morning, to go collect the mail that’s been piling up in the box, a bird shit in my left ear. I figured it was a rain drop. When I used my pinky finger to smoosh the water around, so I could restore my hearing back to normal, I instantly knew I wasn’t simply dealing with water. The damn bird must’ve dive-bombed me, because the excrement didn’t land on my ear or on my shoulder but in my goddamn left ear. Not going to be a good day.

I’ve heard stupid people say things like, “getting bird poop on you is a sign that it’s your lucky day!” No. Today is not a lucky day. Like any other rainy day here, the air outside is thick enough to gag an asthmatic mongoloid child, and everything faintly smells like human piss and dryer lint. The tires on my bike haven’t magically re-inflated, my mother-in-law still refuses to die, and the usual stuff is all over the paper: floods, economy in the toilet, one of my childhood heroes accused of rape. No. Today is not my lucky day.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, but I think it’s important to give you a little bit of context. I’m 34 years old, I do freelance photography (for weddings, bar mitzvahs, junior proms, all the usual stuff), and I live with the mother of the wife that left me two years ago. “Why is that,” you ask? Because when I say the word “left,” I mean that same old cliche that’s in too many sad movies: she went out for an abortion and never came back. When I went to pick her up that day, the apathetic nurse informed me her brother picked her up. And before you ask, no, she doesn’t have a brother. I got a letter from her a week later that read:

Roland,

I am writing to tell you not to worry. I am OK. I am not coming back but I am OK. I knew you would never forgive me so I had to leave. I am sorry. But I am just too tired of being sorry all of the time.

Goodbye,
Lou

Fucking bitch. I don’t want to think about it right now but when she got pregnant, I was ecstatic and I thought she would be too. Turns out, I didn’t know her nearly as well as I thought. But that’s a story for another day. Right now, my biggest gripe is that, after two years, her mother is still living in the apartment upstairs and she refuses to die. At this point, I’d even settle for just a stroke that renders her permanently speechless.

Of course, when she came down this morning (the usual stuff: she knocks, waits 1.3 seconds, then opens the door and walks in as if someone said “we’re not busy at all here, please come in!”), she started in with the lucky day crap. She’s gotta be, what the hell is she, like 88 years old now? Something like that. The woman is unstoppable. She has fallen down the stairs four times already this year, had a massive heart attack 7 months ago, and has been newly-diagnosed with diabetes. But no, she never dies. And she probably never will. And all the time, she tells me how terrible life is for her because her only daughter left her alone to rot in an attic apartment, and no one cares enough to check in on her anymore. Yes, it’s all guilt aimed at me. Despite the fact that I take her food shopping once a week, clean her cat litter box, take out her garbage, and bring her the mail every couple days. And I think it’s been exactly two times (TWO TIMES!!) that she’s asked me how I’m dealing with Louisa’s disappearance.

Again, I don’t want to bore you with the details. But now you know what I’m dealing with. And now you know why every day feels like “just the usual stuff” to me. I’ll say more about it all later, but right now I need to make a declaration.

Something has to change. I refuse to keep going on like this. I’ve been so depressed, my therapist even disowned me last month. Now, there are sometimes spans of three days when I don’t speak a word to anyone other than my dead houseplants. I’m scaring the crap out of myself. So I have to fix it. I was never like this before. Three years ago… I still had friends, a beautiful wife, a great job that I actually loved, everything was great. I’ve always considered myself to be pretty adventurous in spirit, even though I’ve always been very conservative in my actions. But I swear to Christ, something has snapped inside of me. And very recently. I am losing my shit. God, I never even used to say bad words, and now I do it constantly; it’s become like a nervous tick. And there are days when I spend all day (literally, ten hours at a time) thinking fantasizing about walking up those stairs with a kitchen knife (I have some good ones that I recently bought off of late-night infomercials. I tried the thing where you effortlessly slice a beer can in half: it worked!) and just carving that old windbag up and cooking her in the backyard BBQ like a fish filet. I think about whether or not the neighbourhood dogs would eat her cooked flesh, and I wonder which marinades taste best to dogs.

But I’m not a violent guy! That’s the thing! I’m a nerd, for cryin’ out loud! I don’t know what’s happening to me. But something has to change. Something has to change, something BIG has to change. Things have to change NOW. And if not now, then soon. Or something terrible is going to happen. I know, I know, another stupid cliche. People always think they’re going to explode, and then they never actually do. But I’m telling you. But, am I telling YOU. Something. Perhaps MANY THINGS. Something is not right with me. I don’t know what to do. But I’m going to do it.

After cleaning out my ear sufficiently, getting rid of the old bag, and having my morning coffee, I did finally manage to relax enough to settle down and read the paper. It was a boring experience, the usual stuff again, and I felt lonely. I know I’m losing my mind, and I need to find a way to save myself. But I think I can hang on for another day. I hope I can hang on for another day.