Gray Sky Paradise: Chapter 3


Chapter 3: Lingua Pura

I get to the school with ten minutes to kill so I drink a bia hoi by the temple. I am about to teach middle school and I’m gonna need a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.06% to handle this shit.

In the previous episode of Gray Sky Paradise I mentioned that Vietnamese people are cool with foreigners from a murderous empire living within their borders. Well, it’s not all grace and forgiveness. No one is that nice. They give us visas because they want our English. The locals work themselves to the bone so that their children may learn the language of boardrooms. English can get you out of the village. And so that’s why all of us young alien bandits are here, drinking all the beer and taking all the money.

It only works one way. The word trade runs from West to East, not East to West. For example, Americans don’t pay for Vietnamese slackers to come get drunk and drive motorcycles the wrong way up Fifth Ave. This is because no one wants to learn Vietnamese.

I would feel guilty about my privilege, my superpower of knowing English, if I had opted to play this game in the first place. But I didn’t ask to be here. I just faded into consciousness one day and people were yelling at me to get things. Go get good grades, now go get money! Man, hey, what if I don’t feel like it? What if I don’t like this stupid game? Is there a different planet I can go to?

The old man by the school gate is banging the drum now. Time for class. I pop gum to cover the booze breath and rise to my feet. This old guy is a probably a Vietnam War vet. Only here they’re called American War vets. Did you know that 26 Vietnamese soldiers died for every American? Only the toughest, most bulletproof bastards survived that kill ratio. This old guy spent the late ’60s gutting Marines in the elephant grass. I nod at him as I step on campus.

It’s time to fight a war of my own: three hours of hard time teaching seventh grade. A class of seventh graders is a mob of young monsters who just got a double shot of hormones for their 12th birthday. There are sixty of them in each class, and they have no patience for this pale alien standing before them. Teaching them is difficunt, undignified work. But I do it because it pays better than my consultant gig. I spend more time teaching than consulting. But when people ask what I do, what do I say? Oh, I’m a consultant of course. I’m 30 now so I need this weapon in my small talk arsenal to lend myself legitimacy.

As the curtains close on the schoolday I’m fucking zapped. I toil in jobs like this because I’m not a good enough writer to make decent money writing, which stresses me out, which makes me party more, which makes me write less and spend more, which makes me have to work more. Round and round we go! I’m so tired of being alive.

I put in headphones and return to the bike. It’s Friday evening and I have made it to the top of the mountain. Let’s go party some more.


To be continued


I Did Not Get Laid This Weekend

But it was close. Friday night I was talking to this friend of mine on the bench at 4 am and we were smashed but I knew we’d only be doing it because we were drunk. It was quite difficult, but I refrained. I felt like a god damn Boy Scout and I was proud and thought “It’s OK, I can try again tomorrow!”

So Saturday night was round 2. I was at this rave with dumb trance music way out by the river. I don’t understand trance music. I’m too old. It’s not for me. Trance music is fundamentally unappealing and seems like it should only exist on the soundtrack of Blade Runner 2049, but not in this reality. But it’s what the young girls listen to.

So my friend who makes like 100k a year or something was there with his fanny pack full of substances. In addition to some other things, I had a few hits of this Japanese weed. That shit was otherworldly and I kept forgetting what I was saying halfway through each sentence. It was like my memory was getting wiped every five seconds. I was like “Hey, what’s up, my name is… uh, hi, what’s up, I’m… Fred…what’s up?” I was so high that I was trying not to fly off the Earth’s surface.

Eventually I stumbled into a promising situation and was performing oral sex on a girl from Prague in the bushes, but her gay best friend cockblocked me when I tried to get her home. “You have a boyfriend!” he kept telling her. I knew she had one, but I was trying anyway, which probably negated all my karmic goodwill from the night before. So they left, and by that point the dawn was breaking over the water and everyone was yawning and had already paired off. I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I was not getting anything that night. It felt like when you watch a receiver catch a pass and then drop it for no reason. It’s too bad. Meaningless sex is underrated. It’s actually quite meaningful. It always washes away the agony of another eternal, deeply unfulfilling workweek. By the time I got home it was 8 am but I fired up Tinder anyway. As if a hookup was going to happen at that hour, when the birds were chirping. But hey, they say you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take! Well, that morning on Tinder I missed 100% of the shots I did take. So I jerked my sad Sunday erection and passed out.

Now comes the aftermath. God damn this is a serious, record-setting comedown. Maybe the top 5 of all time. I’m all anxious and panicky. It would have been totally worth it if I had gotten laid this weekend, but I didn’t. I am 30 and single and I’m pretty sure my 60 year old gay father, who is also single, is getting more ass than I am. Why couldn’t I have been born gay? It would have been great. He took me to a gay bar in Denver. Talk about a target-rich environment. You have to try to not sit on a dick.

The Good-For-You Weekly Review (#3)


For Friday, March 16th, 2018

Saturday: Getting high at that silent disco party, and absorbing all the fake life and fake energy from everyone else who was under the influence, was enough to keep me in the game for at least one more week. It was a blur but I do remember unironically donning my Ray-Bans at 3.00 am.

Sunday: Sundays are always a crash landing. I took a walk between classes with my TA and I didn’t really try to make conversation because I had no energy, and later I felt guilty about being aloof.

Monday: I was writing Chapter 2 of Gray Sky Paradise before my night class and had the nauseous, shattering realization that I’m still about five years or so away from becoming a truly good writer. You can become a surgeon in less time than it takes to become a good writer.

Tuesday: I woke up at 6.00 am and felt superior to everyone who was not already awake, and I worked out twice and felt superior to everyone who only worked out once that day.

Wednesday: I woke up at 7.00 am and I only worked out once; I hated that I was again a common slacker, and I revered the version of myself from Tuesday.

Thursday: I was doing sprints and came to a pause in front of a noodle joint, right as the girl I had sex with on Friday was walking out with her friends. If they had walked out ten seconds earlier, they would have seen me blasting through at top speed. But instead they saw me staggering and gasping, with spit on my shirt.

Friday: This post would be more interesting and funnier if I worked on it more during my lunch break, but on my lunch break I’m going to have sex with the Ukrainian girl from Gray Sky Paradise (Chapter 2). She’s not actually Ukrainian, she’s from Belarus, but I took creative license because “Ukrainian” looks a little cooler on the page than “Belarussian” does.

(EDIT: We didn’t have actually have sex. It was a weird situation.)

Gray Sky Paradise: Chapter 2


Chapter 2: I’d Call This One “People Watching In The Café,” But It’s Mostly Just Girl-Watching

Chapter 1

I do lunch in a café by the Lotte Tower. There’s a behind-the-palace-walls vibe here. An American woman is chastising the counter staff for giving her a bag of raisin cookies that was baked yesterday. “No, I want them baked today.” I hate white people.

Right now you can find me upstairs by the window. ESL teachers discuss the weather, and some businessmen with vague faces also discuss the weather. You people are all the same! Why are you all so boring? Korean diplomats and their fat children chew vacantly while they do boring things, like taking selfies with their coffee mugs.

The girl who brings me my coffee avoids eye contact, which reminds me that I have colonist in my DNA. When I turn 30, I’ll be the same age my grandfather was when he came here to kill Communists. Not very long ago US Marines were skeet-shooting Vietnamese infants in the rice paddies. If a foreign power ever spilled blood on American soil, we wouldn’t forgive them until the sun burned out. But Vietnam is cool. They let the children of the killers return to the scene of the crime and yell at them about cookies.

A foreign girl, probably French, walks in and she is exquisite. She has a thigh gap and a scarf that is probably made of ancient silk. All the men fix their posture. She makes me self-conscious about how loud I’m chewing my baguette. She doesn’t look at me once, which annoys me. Have I lost it? God damn, I need to get laid, it’s been two days. It was the Ukrainian girl who looks like an Eastern-bloc Zooey Deschanel. I went through her phone when she was downstairs talking to her landlord. It was a who’s-who of local dick, categorized by city of origin. I was saved as Fred Boston. That same day she was also messaging John Liverpool. He wrote lol too much, which is why she didn’t text him back. You gotta know the fundamentals, son! If you show any excitement, these girls will kill you.

My phone vibrates. Rachel has messaged. Hi Rachel. She slept over on Tuesday. There is a party tonight and she asks if I’m going. I am going. But I don’t want to go to the party with her because I want to remain a free agent and find a new girl at this party. I live in a constant panic that there might be some girl somewhere I haven’t kissed yet. It’s always more girls more girls more. I am on an unsustainable scorched-earth rampage. I think I was JFK in a past life.

I read Rachel’s message on the phone’s lock screen but don’t open the message, because then I’ll be active on Facebook and she’ll know I’ve seen it. When I do this I feel like a spy or a dark genius. But everyone does this. Everyone knows this trick.

I have to go to my afternoon teaching job now. As I exit the café, the girls behind the counter giggle. I don’t go for locals. That’s for the short, fat, bald dudes who are too ugly to talk to Western girls. Going local is easy but if you go local it doesn’t count; she’s only with you because you’re not from a village.

But somehow, the white girls I take home when we’re both drunk, and the booze has literally turned us into different people, into hilarious supermodels – well that counts.

I wish I were short and fat and bald, because then I would have been forced to develop a personality. I bet I would have been really goddamn funny. Instead, I’m tall with a good hairline but I’m also kind of boring, so I’m cursed to coast on my looks until I’m 35, which is when my face will melt.

Anyway I hope I get laid tonight for the sake of 35 year-old self.


Now I’m riding. Out here on the streets the smoke hangs like a volcanic ash cloud and cops leer from under the bridge. Somewhere, a chicken is being strangled. A man in a Mercedes SUV has parked in the middle of the lane and everyone has to slow and pass his car single file. This one man with money has changed 200 people’s days. I pray that unspeakable evils befall him and his family, and then I roll up onto the sidewalk to get around the jam. We’re still in that last primitive decade before robotic cars so you can still break the rules. The future is really going to suck. As long as it never gets here, I’ll be good.

To be continued

The Good-For-You Weekly Review (#2)


Friday, March 9th, 2018

Saturday: I bailed on a video shoot I was supposed to help with, and said I had been called into work but that was a lie I was just napping instead, and now the video is blowing up on Facebook and getting mad shares and I sincerely regret not being in it.

Sunday: We went to the banana island in the middle of the river and drank rum on the beach all afternoon, and some old Vietnamese dudes invited us to their barbeque, and they had forearm tattoos signifying they had taken part in the Cambodian invasion of 1978, and they got angry at me when I said I couldn’t chug a full cup of vodka.

Monday: I found a new spot by the lake to do my sprint workouts, right in full view of a few bars – I have to drive ten minutes from my house to get there (and I could easily do sprints in the alley by my house) but that’s not conspicuous enough; I want to be seen.

Tuesday: I got a pay cut at work and didn’t fight it so that they’ll give me a good reference, then at night I got upset about it and did 30 sprints and ate a full meat lover’s pizza.

Wednesday: At dinner someone made a really dumb joke that made no sense, which really relieved me because normally I’m the one who says dumb stuff.

Thursday: I had beer with a tutoring client, a real estate developer, after our lesson and he drinks way faster than I do, which really relieved me because normally I’m the fastest drinker in the group.

Friday: I spent this morning filming some boring videos for the YouTube channel I work for, and what should have taken two hours took three because everyone in the crew kept taking selfies.

Gray Sky Paradise: Chapter 1


Chapter 1: The Far Easy

HANOI – Friday, early. There was a bike wreck by the pagoda so I am running late to the office. An unfortunate young man on a semi-auto got chewed up by a cement truck. In  Vietnam you often witness some vehicular Darwinism before your first coffee.

I, of course, would rather not be heading into work right now. I would rather have joined my European housemates when they all went out “on the piss” last night and snorted ecstasy in the bathroom at Vibes. They were out until 5.00 am and I think most of them got laid, too. Drinking all night is pretty awesome. My New Year’s Resolution was to drink more. But I’ve been too busy working. Right now my life requires me to go full capitalist.

I park the bike and purchase a banh my sandwich from the old lady in the alley. I am very tall, and some regulars in the nearby café gawk as I pay for my breakfast. Every one of them points and proclaims “hai mét!” (two meters!). Every morning they are shocked to see me. Even though they see me every morning.

Being blatantly stared at always sets my mood on a hair trigger. It reminds me that God gave me the gift of NBA-caliber height, a gift I squandered by not playing basketball (I was always trying to be different and that’s a surefire way to fuck yourself over now and forever). It reminds me that I fumbled my destiny which then somehow led to me slumming about in the Far East.

I get up to the 6th floor and obediently take my desk. I greet my co-workers, a trio of young graduates named Chinh, Linh, and Minh. I once jokingly compared them to Huey, Dewey, and Louie and they didn’t get it. I tried to explain by showing them a picture of the ducks, and they thought I was saying that they looked like ducks. They were offended. Tough crowd out here, man.

I log on to my computer and start pretending to work. This is accomplished by opening a Google Doc my team is working on and typing a blank space into it every few minutes so that it always says “Last edit made 3 minutes ago by Fred Colton.”

Gotta stay sharp this morning though; the CEO is in the office, having one of his “hands-on” days. Every hour or so he suddenly materializes next to me. He’s quite good at this; I have never once heard him approaching. This guy was a Viet Cong sniper in his past life and fought the Americans. In his life before that he was Viet Cong too and fought the French. In this life he would still be Viet Cong, but the wars are over now. He asks me about something work-related and I’m irritated that he is bringing up work, at work.

My job title is “consultant.” The sole qualification for this position was “knowing English.” This is because a long time ago, people who spoke the English language killed everyone else, so now there are actually jobs where all you have to do is know English. How’s that for a lucky roll of the motherfucking dice? My company needed a pet foreigner on staff to legitimize their international communications. When my co-workers ask me to proofread a contract I feel like a high priest with divine knowledge of a secret code. This is the perfect job for an entitled deadbeat like myself. My life in Asia is a simulation in which I can pretend to be special. The name of the simulation is “The Far Easy.”

My co-workers are all bilingual, and I am not, which makes me the dumbest person in the building. They like to practice their English with me.

“Fred,” says Minh. “It is your birthday this weekend?”

“Yes, it’s on Sunday.”

“Cool!” Minh says. “How do you celebrate birthdays in American cunture?

Vietnamese people sometimes conflate the /L/ sound with the /N/ sound, which sometimes gives us words like “cunture” instead of “culture.” I never correct a coworker’s speech unless they ask, because it makes me feel like an imperialist. As a result of this, they continue saying things like “cunture” and “difficunt.”

“We just have birthday cake, pretty much,” I tell him. “Same as here!”

But not really. Vietnamese youth keep their celebrations chill and buttoned-up. They will never explore the full limits of hedonism. In fact, many Vietnamese women don’t drink at all. People over here don’t party like Westerners do. Westerners turn it up. All that comfort becomes numbing and they try to escape said comfort by partying like they’re trying to die. Birthday weekends bring shots and pills (see: “ecstasy,” second paragraph) and an 8.00 am bedtime. Well, actually that’s every weekend. In two days I will be 30. I have many hours of partying to get through before then.

I look at the windows, where my reflection is superimposed against the gray city. I have arrived at my destiny and it’s a weird one.


To be continued


The Good-For-You Weekly Review (#1)


Friday, March 2, 2018

Saturday: To counteract my limp job performance I went to lunch at my boss’s house; Vietnamese lunches last for about four hours, I’m all for hospitality, but, goddamn – no lunch should be longer than the movie Titanic.

Sunday: My one night stand had to leave at 10.30 am to take her housemate to get an abortion.

Monday: I realized I kind of have a death wish when I crashed my motorcycle into another one who was running a red light (I did it on purpose, to teach him a lesson), then he asked for money, but he left when I drew up to full height (6’7”), took off my helmet, and screamed at him (the best part of living in Asia is standing up and ambushing people with your height).

Tuesday: In the evening I did 5 Duolingo Spanish lessons; this is actually the 8th time I’ve started learning Spanish.

Wednesday: I learned how to play the ukulele in an hour, because the guitar is a highly transferable skill.

Thursday: I changed my Tinder bio to a Justin Bieber quote (“My momma don’t like you and she likes EVERYONE”) and the responses have been encouraging.

Friday: I’ve been up and working and vaguely stressed since 5.45 am – if I don’t get laid tonight, I might drive into a Mack Truck next time.

Drunk Post: Work / Life Balance

A long time ago I had a series on this blog called “Drunk Posts.” Well Drunk Posts are back! Do not go read the old ones, they’re not great. I’m about to clean house on Everything must go. I’m going to torch the old posts like they’re incriminating evidence. They are incriminating evidence, of me being a bad writer.

Anyway, let’s dive in, muchachos. Here we go on another blog post that will top out at 40 views and not make me famous. So, I’m up late sippin’ some cool, cool Tigers. I have to report to work in seven hours. I feel like the Death Star tractor beam is sucking me in. I’m so tired of working, but then again I am also tired of free time, which I always squander. Well hey you can’t win. That’s how life is. Working sucks, free time also sucks – basically, everything kind of sucks.

I have to work for 10 more years, until I’m 40. When I visited America I discovered that my great-aunt left me a trust fund! So where are my gold diggers at? I am not above partaking in some gold diggers. I’m too boring not to. I get girls currently but it’s only because I’m tall. But all height, no swagger. No wit, all cheekbone. It’s depressing.

Anyway. There is, however, a catch; said trust fund is locked up until 2027. Nine years until I cash in that sweet sweet white privilege. Though by the time I get it, I’ll probably have some dumb kids and will have to take them to Shoe Barn or something. Which will be disappointing. Currently, I am used to spending my money on fun. It feels boring to spend my money on rent. Being responsible and spending my money on my kids will not be fun. I’ve been responsible before, and it wasn’t that great. I can’t wait to leave my wife for a gold digger though. I’m not joking honey! I’m a basic dumbass dork, I will do it!

I’m also working on writing some stuff that might actually be somewhat good, finally. It’s not going to be a book or anything. I’ve given up on books. I’m going to just blog, while wallowing in unfulfilling anxiety, forever. This thing is just going to be a few serialized blog posts, a semi-autobiographical story. A story starring me if I were a little cooler. The blog equivalent of a miniseries, I guess. I’ve spent the last three months hammering away on it and I only have about three pages to show for it. Every single sentence has been disassembled and reconceptualized a hundred times. And after the whole thing is all tightened up and posted, it will still get 40 views, and not make me famous. Three months of work so far! I’m embarrassed with how long it’s taking. Writing is stupid, and I’ll delete this later.



What was it like? The west coast was on fire and back east the winter wind hits your face like acid. It was too cold to go outside so I just holed up in my mom’s attic apartment and never left, like Anne Frank. I was worried about money the whole time I was home. I hustled all fall to save money for the holidays but was fucked as soon as I got off the plane. I live in Southeast Asia, which is a cheap alternate universe where everything costs 1950s prices. There, I am a member of a fake aristocracy. But in America the fakers are exposed. Parking in Boston costs like $50. In New York my friends wanted to get Korean barbeque. It’ll be like $75 they said. They are bartenders in Manhattan; they spend money like rappers. I said yeah that’s fine because I wanted to look like a cool guy who has money. But I’m not that; I am writer, which means I’m fucking destitute. My destiny is to scramble and be a scrub. The whole dinner there were alarms going off in my head as I thought fuck! This삼겹살구이 costs like a dollar a bite! 

A burner phone from Wal-Mart costs $80. The number got recycled and had been reincarnated into my possession. On Christmas Eve some texts came through for the old owner.

hey Daniel

hope you’re doing great and not alone on Christmas

My mom was in the other room with her fiancé. All my friends in Asia were at a Christmas party. All my friends in America had surrendered the game and become fathers, and so they were with their kids. So I actually was kind of lonely! I felt like I was an astronaut stranded on another planet or something. I think I was lonely mostly because it was snuggle season. It’s only during snuggle season when you want a wife. When it’s hot out the burden of the bachelor is light. But when it’s cold outside you just wanna cuddle on the couch and put your hands on some titties. Nonsexually. Just for comfort.

So anyway I really appreciated this misfired text. I texted back thanks! I didn’t say I wasn’t Daniel. So poor Daniel never got the message. Daniel, I am sorry and I hope you weren’t alone on Christmas.

On Christmas I saw my nephew. He’s 3, he is a joy, he’s perfect. He made me want to have my own kids, which made me pretty angry. I should be able to be happy without kids.

Love was in the air at home, it’s cuffing season, everyone is getting serious. My best friend got married. My mom got married too. My stepdad is a cool dude but I won’t go into it because my dad reads this blog and I don’t want to make him sad.

I visited him in Denver. He is out of the closet now. He’s 59, on the grind, making up for lost time. He dyed his hair and beard purple, and he walks through the world like that. He has a level of confidence that I did not inherit. In the 80s he got married and had kids because he had to play it straight in Reagan’s America. So that means the reason I was created was to be part of his alibi, which I think is kind of funny. I like that part of my origin story. It sort of explains my stupid life a little bit.

New Year’s in New York was weird. At 11:59pm we all gathered around and waited for the DJ in the bar to stop the music for the countdown, but the DJ just didn’t give a fuck (time isn’t real man!) and just kept spinning. We all checked our phones at 12:01 and were like shit! We missed it.

I got super high with the girl I was visiting and on the 1st we ate bagels and watched Netflix for 10 hours, with my hands on her titties. Late that night I took a bus to DC. I did miss her. If you got a bad thing with a girl, leave her. And if you got a good thing with a girl, still leave her. I’ll see her again. I don’t like her a crazy amount but if she fucks more people than I do before I see her again, I’ll be upset. It’s all a competition, don’t you see. It’s all about stats.

I’m back in Vietnam. Back in the money, back on the hunnies. 2018 is more of the same. Not a good thing, but not a bad thing either.


Professional Writer

Your boy just got his annual royalty check. How much was it, Fred? How much did you make? I made $180. You know, you shouldn’t be able to call an amount that small a royalty. The irony is annoying. Where the fuck can you be royalty with $180? Here is how you pay a writer: you find out what a lot of money was a hundred years ago, and you pay him that. $180 was a lot of money in 1918 I bet. It would be more acceptable to call $180 a royalty if it were 1918. But it’s 2018. I picked a dumb dream, I spent thousands of hours getting good at something stupid. Kids, go pick up a basketball. But don’t write. Get out of the library, before it’s too late! Worst case scenario, your dream will come true.

So here I am, on the other side of a happy ending, back to teaching English. It is profoundly unfulfilling. Life has regressed to a slow montage of unceasing agony. At work I’m in the bathroom watching motivational videos on my phone so I won’t jump off the roof. Fittingly enough, there is a funeral procession outside the office right now, I hear the dirge drums and wailing flutes. It was probably another writer who killed himself. Shit, you know what, right now would actually be a good time to jump off the roof. I could piggyback on this funeral and save my family some scratch. Anyway so when is this nuclear war with North Korea gonna start? Enough with the foreplay. I for one am looking forward to it.


TOKYO – I am on a layover in Narita International’s Terminal 2, where it’s 7am and I’m drinking a $7 Kirin. I just bought a book of short stories by Pulitzer and Booker Prize-Winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro that I knew I wouldn’t finish but I bought anyway. It cost $15, which is way more than a paperback should cost, and somehow I still bought it. Why did I do that? I guess I wanted the Japanese girl at the counter to think I was cool or interesting because I bought a book. No, not a book – a prestige paperback. I don’t know why I specified the counter girl was Japanese. This is Tokyo. Of course she was Japanese. I got to talk to her as I paid, and I like talking to Japanese girls. There’s something about their exotic pronunciation. And their mysterious, breathy cadences. It’s like they have ancient secrets they want to tell me.

Anyway so now I’m in the food court, where I was gonna make an effort to read this book and then I remembered I made a Facebook post in Vietnam before I left, so I put the book away and got on airport Wi-Fi to check the stats and now I’m sucked into the Matrix. As of this moment my post has 65 reactions. God damn this post is killing it. God damn I am cool. 65 reactions is a lot for a middle-aged white man. 65! I am reading the list of people who reacted to it, and imagine that they are all thinking about me right now. Not doing anything else at all; just hanging around, thinking about me. If they are guys, they want to be my best friend. If they are girls, they definitely want to fuck me. When I first tried cocaine, you know what it felt like?* It felt exactly like getting a lot of Facebook likes. Dopamine baby. The first syllable is “dope” for several reasons. I did it again, of course**. But it was never as good.

All right, so I’m on the way to Boston for my first homecoming in years. I don’t want to go; I am extraditing myself in order to fulfill familial duties. I must kiss new babies, attend my mother’s wedding, and charm my grandparents to solidify my spot in the will. It will be a state visit pretty much, I will pretty much be a diplomat. Also, I will be forced to detox, which if I guess I do need. I’ve been getting high and trying to write the next day and that doesn’t work. The drugs zap my head. I feel my thoughts dissolving before they can connect. Feel my vocabulary shrinking. The posts I’m working on become unsolvable mysteries.

As much as I need to go home, I’m fighting it every step of the way. I’m looking out the big windows and I feel like I would kind of rather just stay here in Tokyo. I like the simple novelty of a different country. Especially Japan. There is a mystique to Japan in the winter. There is a clean voltage running through it. You feel like you’re Somebody here, you feel cool here, and you feel smarter than you actually are. Japanese people don’t feel this way in Japan, because they are always in Japan. You don’t feel the novelty on your block, you have to leave. Foreign novelty is why I have exiled myself from the homeland.

Actually that’s only 0.0001% of it. The other 99.999% of it is girls and money. I went abroad because I can’t get girls and money at home. At least not as many as I want. In the homeland, I’m just another clone. Overseas, however, I’m a rare import, a limited edition Ken Doll who doesn’t have to compete for the treats. Being an expat is playing life with the cheat codes on. If it were up to me I wouldn’t go home until the sun burned out.


I have put away my phone and returned my attention to my beer. Mmm, it’s frosty. Some nearby American soldiers, who under orders and therefore can’t drink, watch me gulp it down while I’m watching some nearby white girls. Actually, “leering” is the right verb. There is something about Airport Girls. They wear sweatpants and no makeup, so I can extrapolate into the future and see what they will look like as a stressed-out suburban mom. And I like what I see; it’s real. And they project a cloud of hot pheromones because they’re four time zones removed from their last shower. Gah! These pheromones bring out the inner wolf and make me want to charge into battle or something. I wish these girls could know how cool I am, with my 65 reactions.

One of the Airport Girls nearby is a British girl who also lives in Hanoi. She was on my flight here. We have never officially met but have a ton of mutual friends. We have caught eyes already and recognized each other. I get up to find my gate and I have to walk right by her, and if I were a confident, cool man I would say hi. I don’t say hi. I don’t say hi because I’m not drunk. There is no inner wolf, actually. When I was a shy little kid, I assumed I’d be someone different when I grew up. Definitely someone cooler. Instead, I stayed exactly the same. Kids, it doesn’t get better. If you’re shy and weird now, get used to being shy and weird.

The prodigal son is coming home today. I’m 30. When I left I was 26. I went to 10 new countries, I published a real book with a legitimate publisher, got shoulders and biceps, got a motorcycle, banged 100 girls, and dropped acid.***

So much happened, and I can’t believe that none of it changed me.

*If you know me personally, this sentence is not true.

**Neither is this one.

***All at the same time!

Getting Sunday Brunch With Your One Night Stands

You gotta go at noon because it’s most crowded at noon and everyone sees you and knows what happened, which is really cool. You get a lot of social cred if people know you got laid. If you’re in cargo shorts but the girl is still in a dress, then there is no debate about what happened. They know you met 12 hours ago and you banged, probably twice, and then banged again in the morning. Like about thirty minutes ago. They know she forgot her earrings on the dresser.

At Sunday brunch people wear sunglasses like they’re in the fucking CIA and think they can get away with watching you “discreetly.” They’re surprised and mildly ashamed when you catch them looking. Haha! People are stupid.

These days the girls have all been blonde and 25. Like they all came off some assembly line and I am their type. 25 is not 18, but I’ll take it! When we’re young we give strangers the hottest versions of our bodies. Later we give our spouses the saggy version of our bodies. The version that looks like a microwaved marshmallow Peep.

So the girl and I get in there and we sit, we order sandwiches, and add each other on Facebook. The girls are always hotter on Facebook, everyone is hotter on Facebook. So it goes on this planet of vain chimps. You know what, we gotta start calling each other out on this shit. Enough with the filters and the megapixels! I see you right in front of me and you’re not fooling me motherfucker, you look like the stunt double of whoeverthefuck you’re pretending to be online!

Well, here we go. Face to face with the girl. We have to talk now! Oh man this conversation is agonizing. What to say. Say something! I was drunk last night and I was high last night but we’re back in reality, squirming in the hot light of day and my fake charm is fading by the second. Now I’m in trouble; if we hang out for too long she’ll realize I’m weird and boring. The Saturday night me is not the real me. On Saturday night I’m the hit single off a bad album. Me on Saturday night is the polished and amplified me. Me with a filter! Haha, that was a nice callback to the previous paragraph. I’m a good writer.

After a small eternity the sandwiches get here and she keeps saying they taste good. She’s talking more than she’s chewing! She always takes so long to eat.

Welcome to the Good Life

Having money’s not everything/not having it is.

-Kanye West

I stopped writing. I can’t do it anymore. I started three jobs and so I just go to work. Therefore things haven’t been happening to me and I haven’t been thinking.

Man, I don’t have the drive to write this thing right now. I’m just gonna do one draft. The old me, the jackoff who took himself very seriously would have gone back through a million times and sliced it down until it was all killer no filler. But I don’t have the energy to be artistic right now. So fuck it! There will probably be typos.

I haven’t been on WordPress in two months. When I logged on the format had changed. It’s not better – there is no functional improvement – the site just looks different, like a cousin of itself. It’s the WP office geeks justifying their salaries by moving the buttons around. I can relate because I also have an office job now and most of my workday involves tricking my boss into paying me to perform simple tasks which I have made seem difficult. I feel like a con artist but hey, we are all out there lying for money. Making your boss think you like being there when in actuality you just have a passion not being homeless. Jobs are stupid, the world is stupid, this is all stupid.


Each day I am rousted from my slumber at 5 am when the old ladies in floral-print pajamas start killing chickens in the alley (I live in Vietnam).

Out the door at 7.00. The effects of last night’s sleeping pill holds hard, so until about 9.00 am or so I’m a pessimistic nihilist. I gun the motorcycle to work in a haze, my mood a toxic aura, semi hoping a semi-truck flattens me into bean paste. By 9.00 the drugs have released me from their black curse and I like my life again. I get into gear and don’t get home till 9pm.

God damn I’m a hustler baby. I’m working like I owe child support. I’m working like a Japanese salaryman. I was probably a Japanese salaryman in my past life and will be one again in my next life. I’m working three jobs because I had no money at all for most of this year and I like money. I like cold drinks and gourmet sandwiches. I like throwing too much cash on the table and punching eject without taking part in the complex arithmetic of dividing a restaurant bill. Make the other diners think oooohhh what is his job? Who is THAT guy?

I worship currency and the simmering high that it provides. This smoothie place offered me a VIP Discount Card because I go there every day between shifts. I didn’t take the VIP Discount Card because I work too hard to get excited about 10% off a fucking smoothie. I will gladly throw money away because it’s a validation of my efforts, my motherfucking value. Meanwhile the whole world is broke and crying. I’m a piece of trash, the worst man who ever lived.

I am not a smart man but I am a white man and that means the jobs are there if I want them. They are there for me because my murderous ancestors broke the world and rearranged it. The jobs are there and the privilege is quite real but I still have to get out of bed and go get the money, which is a hassle and gives me a martyr complex and makes me forget I’m one of history’s few fortunate sons.

It requires significant thrust to break free of the financial gravity that wants to keep you at zero. Nonstop effort, running around and hitting your marks, doing things you don’t really want to do but you do them because there’s a gun to your head. Each week feels like a century. Each week is one of those weeks where all day Tuesday you think it’s Wednesday. And on Wednesday you think it’s Thursday and so on. By the time Friday afternoon hits you’re numb. And it’s perfect. The life of a drone is best for me because I squander all my freedom. When I have free time I don’t learn anything or help anyone. I don’t write anything good enough to get me famous.

That starving artist lifestyle was stressful man.

So I get the money and bring it home to me. I’ve been frantic for so long but now I’ve found the balance. No wife kids or puppies. Instead I have a motorcycle and some girls. Things have come together. And it won’t get better than this.

What Happened in Bangkok

Hi there.

Here is a link to a new thing on my other blog about my last Bangkok trip. My third post in 9 months. You could say the writers block and the fear of imperfection is very real.

Let me know if the link doesn’t work. And if it does work, well you better click on it and be sure to say something nice.

OK ciao for now.

Please Love Me

There is a new post on my other blog. My public blog, the one that I started explicitly for validation.

My second post in five months. I am on a roll! It’s about Vietnam; I wrote it to impress people who live in Vietnam here with me. Specifically the girls. I wrote it to counterbalance the weird and awkward stuff I do in social interactions. I wrote it so that these girls will say to each other “Hey, Ben is boring in person but he’s an amazing writer. We should all go have sex with him now.”

Well here it is:
There is no “like” button because I’m afraid I won’t get many likes. You can leave a comment though. I will have to moderate it before it goes up, in order to ensure that only the most glowing of comments will appear, with the desired effect being that I can do no wrong.

Bye for now.

What Happened In Malaysia



This was like three weeks ago. The Indian girl left on Saturday morning… well, wait, she was actually Scottish but her parents are Indian. She has nothing to do with this story, but I’m starting with her because alluding to a sweaty morning bang is a snappier way to start than with something like “I went to Malaysia this month.”

I went to Malaysia this month. The house party the night before I left was a Class-A Rager. I wrote a post a while back about being done with drugs and partying but it was a lie so I deleted it. After the party I slept two hours then motorcycled to the airport out in the rice fields, which is of course where a Vietnamese airport would be.

My visa is such that I have to leave the country every 90 days or else I become an illegal immigrant. Some slight ironies there. I was going to Malaysia because it was cheap and close. I had promised my family I’d visit them in America that week, but I ended up not being able to afford it, because I’m a writer. Actually I’m a legitimately published writer. And actually I’ve been pretty mad since the book came out – everyone thinks I self-published it. Amazon has polluted the prestige of authorship. Have you shown it to a real publisher? everyone asks. Just to summarize: My dream kind of came true and no one knows it did.


I got there at sunset. As I went up the jetway I realized that I knew nothing about Malaysia. I had always been simply aware of its existence, in the same way you know that there is a planet called Mercury out there.

But suddenly there I was in Malaysia.

I Googled “Malaysia” in the immigration line and I read for about twenty seconds, long enough to learn that once upon a time it was a British possession but today it’s ruled by someone called an “elected king,” which is a fact that I found mildly interesting.

The Malaysia that presented itself to me from the train window was a bland one of condos, and featureless factories, and gas stations with attached Starbucks. Did I actually come to America after all? This could be I-95. It was overwhelming how underwhelming Malaysia was.

Then we went by a mosque, with little mini-mosques spread around it like in Aladdin. There we go, baby. I came all this way — show me the exotic stuff.

We cut into the city and I saw the diamond spires of the Petronas Twin Towers. I had to look away. Seeing a landmark is always too surreal for me to handle the first time.



At the hotel I graded papers, napped, did a Tabata workout and ordered food. I was excited. I had never ordered room service before. I was so excited I couldn’t press the right numbers on the phone. My arrival moment. Who orders room service? Published authors, that’s who the fuck orders room service. Except in my case it was going to be just once because I only made about a dollar off that book.

“Can I get some curry and a black coffee for room 1209?” I said.

“OK,” said the guy on the phone. “You have to pick it up on the 5th floor.”

“Oh.” I was in a towel. “Well, can you bring it up here, please?”

“No, we do not have room service.”

He said it like he’d had this conversation two million times and was sick of always being on the front line of this awkward culture clash. These Westerners and their royal expectations!

All right. I went down and got my food. While I ate I fired up Tinder. Half the girls on it had hijabs. Their bios said no sex no alcohol. So don’t you dare disrespect my God by asking to meet for a drink.

Hm. I remembered from my twenty seconds of Googling that this was a Muslim country. The signs were not boding well for my big Saturday night out. And I did have to go out; I have been cursed, you see. In exchange for breaking the hearts of all the girls who have had the audacity to love and commit to me, I have to now try to laid every Saturday night.

You want to go fuck everything? Well you can do that. But you can never stop.



So at 2:00 am I was downtown, in Bukit Bintang, in my tightest T-shirt, on a dance floor the size of a basketball court, dancing, indulging, living out my curse, worshiping at the altar of self, of me, of my own pleasure.

Oh man, it was something else that night. Good vibes, high energy.  I had pulled a 21 Jump Street and infiltrated a group of Dutch college kids. I’m pretty much 30 but I look younger; my mother has some Blackfoot blood and gave me a few sweet strands of melanin-laced Native American DNA that’s kept the skin around my eyes tight longer than it should be. I feel very superior about this. I think about this all the time.

The girl I was with was blond and kind of tall so we fit together proportionally like figures on a wedding cake. We were kissing and kissing and kissing. It was that usual Saturday magic. We were both breathless. It was getting to the point where if we kissed any longer she was going to get pregnant with her clothes still on.

“Let’s go,” I said.

“No,” she said.

So we kept kissing. And I really mean kept kissing, for a full hour. I was giving it everything I had. She was into it. She kept pushing me up against the table. Bottles were falling over.

At 3:00 I said “Let’s go,” again, and she said no again, which inspired images in my head of jets crashing and trains colliding into each other head-on – failing, I am failing! – and so I called a timeout and went to the street and had a bottle of water. Three whores from Ghana came up, one after another.

“Handsome guy, let’s go.”

“No,” I said.

“Why not?”

“I don’t pay for it.”

“Why not? You are rich.”

This is how a working girl thinks. He has money; therefore he buys sex. Neither of those facts were true about me. But there was something endearing about hearing this new perspective. This is why we travel, isn’t it?


Back into the club. 4th quarter of the game. Time for the comeback. The Dutch girl was still there and we made out for another full hour, and at 4:00 I invited her back again and she said no again, so I got a taxi.

God damn, that was a lot of kissing.

At the hotel the cab fare was 20 ringgit.

“Actually it’s 30 ringgit,” said the taxi driver.

“No, the meter says 20.”

“After midnight there’s a 50% surcharge.”

“I don’t believe you,” I said. “I’m paying the meter and the meter says 20.”

“There is a sticker on the window with the rule,” he said.

I looked. Sure enough, there was a sticker and it said “50% surcharge after midnight.”

I was beaten. Tonight had been a string of very small disasters. I drew another 10 ringgit and paid up. “You probably made that sticker at home,” I told him as I slammed the door.

I didn’t actually say that.


In the morning I had to do laundry and called down to the desk.

“Is there a laundry service?”

“No, you have to do it yourself. Down on the 5th floor,” said the receptionist.

“This is barely a hotel, you know that? Do you want me to work the front desk for you too?”

I actually did say that, but only after I’d hung up.

Then I took the metro downtown. I had to figure out where to change lines, which was a little fun. I like the puzzle of a new city. I went to the base of the Twin Towers with the rest of the lemmings.

We all stood there, identical. Everyone, including me, following the same programming to get the same picture. I saw myself in the glass panes of the lobby door. Sweaty polo shirt plastered crooked on my torso, sunglasses on and camera held up just like every other dope. I got my dumb little picture and then beat it and got on a random bus.


From the bus I saw a white girl across the road, alone, standing next to a banner with Malaysia’s elected king on it, taking a picture of the towers. She was getting a good angle on them. She was going to have a better picture than everyone else that day. My kind of girl.

The bus hummed through a roundabout and then exited, shooting off into the city like rogue comet. When I looked back, I’d lost her.


Then it was dark. I was eating alone in the market and it started raining so they consolidated everyone under the umbrellas and put a British guy at my table. He was ten years older than me and looked precisely like John Oliver, which I did not bring up because I hate being unoriginal and I’m sure he hears that a lot.

He said he was the head of the English department for an international school.

“They put me up in a six-star hotel for free,” he said. “And I save $5,000 a month.”

I flashed back to unregistering my domain name because I can’t afford the $27 annual fee.

I lied and said, “Yeah man, I’m doing pretty well too.”

Maybe we were both lying to each other? I hope so.

We split a big bottle of beer. We spoke of women. He’s doing about as well as I am. In that we both do so well that we don’t enjoy it anymore — but if we didn’t have women at all, we’d hate that too. And if we just had one woman for the rest of our lives, that would be even worse.

The moral of the story, I realized halfway to the bottom of my glass, is that everything sucks.

The sky sealed back up and the rain stopped and we parted ways. I was pretty annoyed that he hadn’t offered me a job.


So I went to a pub where there was cricket playing on the flatscreens. The owner sat down at my table on the sidewalk. He was an Irishman because of course he was, this was a pub. He was huge, old, no hair, all belly.

“I know the general of the Thai Army,” he told me. “I met him when he came here.”

I don’t what it is about my face that makes people say things like this, but this happens a lot. I have a listener face. I hate it. This must be another curse. I’ll mention going to the gym, and dudes will yell I HAVE A SIX-PACK! at me.

“In Bangkok we have parties,” the Irishman said. “They pick me up in a limo on the tarmac and off we go. You can have anything you want. Drugs and girls.”

“Heh!” I said, because I didn’t know what other sound to make.

I ordered a Guinness, thinking he’d say it was on the house. But he made me pay.

“Sometimes the parties are out on the islands,” he said. “The officers bring death row prisoners out there with them. Do you know why?”

He was smiling hard. I was drinking hard. The man was straight out of the underworld.


“The generals kill them! They’ll have the prisoners run across the marshes and they’ll take turns shooting after them. These guys were going to die anyway.”

“Oh man,” I said.

Then there was a girl standing at our table. “Which team do you like?” she asked. She was talking about the cricket on TV.

“I don’t watch cricket,” I said.

She was either Indian or Pakistani. Young, and perfect English.

The pub owner gave me a hoo boy! little eyebrow raise and gave the girl his seat. I saw deep joy in his eyes. He was rooting for me. He was remembering what it was like to be a young person — and still look like a person — and to talk to a woman who wasn’t a sex slave.

So there we were. The ogre across from me had been swapped out for a young doll. She turned out to be Indian, which meant that the girl from the first sentence of this story now kind of had something to do with it after all.

This particular girl was 22 and an exchange student. From the East Coast, which apparently means the same thing in India as it does in America (money). Rich dad who had divorced her mom for a younger one.

She told me she was hitting up the whole street and making friends with the bar owners so they would give her free drinks. I didn’t get free drinks, even in exchange for listening to tales of rape and murder, but she got free drinks simply for being 22. Well, and female.

“Does that always work for you?” I asked. “Just walking into a place and getting drinks?”


She had glasses and a long white patterned shirt, a kind of shirt which I’m sure has an Indian name, and tight blue pants. She definitely had curves.

“What do you do when you’re not drinking on the streets?” I asked.

“I do standup,” she said.

“In English?”

“Of course.”

“How do you deal with bombing?” I asked.

“I don’t bomb anymore.”

I was starting to think this night wasn’t real. She had fallen out of the sky right next to my table. If this went well then my curse would continue, and I was going to have to stay single for another ten years or something, because this night would end up being further encouragement.

There was soon more beer and we got on to sex talk pretty fast.

“What’s your top score?” she asked.

I thought that was a cute way to put it.

“On Super Mario Brothers?” I asked.

“You know what I mean.”

“One hundred,” I said. “Both with women, and Super Mario Brothers. I can’t get past the shrooms in the game.”

“Mine is seven,” she said.

“Oh my God, that’s so many. That’s the most I’ve ever heard.”

I’m not witty. I’m already tall and handsome; no one gets a third superpower on top of those two. But I’m good with basic irony.

“Let’s go to another place,” I said.

If she follows, you’re good.

She followed.

We walked over to the next bar. I was wired, alive, in the hunt. There was that feeling that it could fall apart at any second. That uncertainty is better than the connection.

We sat and then of course we were kissing.

I moved my mouth to her ear. “Let’s go,” I said.

“No,” she said.


All right. That’s it – you lost, I thought.

At least in that instant I got the inspiration to write this piece. I could write about not getting laid and then intersperse it with the horrifying stories the Irishman told me. Talk about the Malaysian skyscrapers as well and god damn, you’ve got yourself a blog post, son.

But for now — you lost, man. Go home.

“I don’t have data on my phone,” I said. “Can you get an Uber for me?”

We went out to the street. Stood on the corner. When the Uber came I opened the door, pivoted, and fired the Hail Mary pass.

“Let’s go.”

The ball was in the air. She paused for a hundred years, and then another hundred, and then said, “OK, but you’re not getting lucky.”

I was getting lucky.

We were in my room. This was the entire reason to get a hotel. The logistics. You can’t get laid in a hostel.

“I’m glad you’re here,” I said. “Now we can watch Malaysian TV.”

I turned on a soap opera and she groaned and kicked a pillow at me.

“OK, pillow fight it is,” I told her.

More kissing. When she took my shirt off I put one hand in her underwear. She was ungroomed, like the 80s, and like every decade before the 80s I guess.

She nodded down at herself. “I wasn’t ready for anything like this tonight,” she said.

“Me either,” I lied, and put her thighs around my head like earmuffs.

A minute later she said, “Do you have a condom?”

“No. I didn’t expect anything like this to happen,” I lied again.

“Go get some downstairs.”

There was a 7-11 right nearby. The guys in the lobby watched me go across the parking lot and come out with my hands in my pockets. They knew. They gave me huge breathless grins when I came back in. They probably saw this ritual all the time.

On my way back up to the room I was drifting slow, taking my time, leaving her space to bail if she wanted.

I unlocked the door. She was still naked under the sheets.

“I’ve never slept with a guy on the first night,” she said.

“I hear most guys are disappointing the first night. Myself included.”

“I’m going to talk about this in my standup,” she said.

I wondered what jokes, what angles she’d seen tonight that I hadn’t.

“And I’ll write about you,” I told her, and crawled onto the bed.


She left and I set two alarms and ordered a wake-up call and was surprised when the front desk said they’d do it. I had expected them to say that in this hotel, I had to call and wake myself up.

It was critical that I woke up on time. If I missed my flight I would have no money to re-book. I would be literally be homeless in Malaysia. Hot dread was in my veins as I slept.

The Uber driver took a while getting me to the airport. It was 50km away and he snuffled along in the slow lane the whole time. It was like the car was trapped in a dream. I was pretty sure we wouldn’t make it in time. I thought about being a white beggar at the base of the Twin Towers. That car ride was the closest thing to pure terror that a safe white prince like me can experience.

But I made it. I got on some café wi-fi and saw my photo of the Twin Towers was killing it on Facebook. It made me happy for 30 seconds. And then everything sucked again.

I boarded and the plane took off.

“Please crash,” I thought.

These Days

There is always a party. I routinely return home at 7 am and go to sleep on Winnie-the-Pooh bedsheets, because these sheets are what the landlord had laying around, and that’s good enough for me. Again, I sleep on Winnie-the-Pooh sheets and I’m 29 years old. Also, I am now down to only three pairs of boxer briefs, which means “Underwear Days” are a thing in my vocabulary. I am probably the most single man in the world.

What else? My travel book is being published next month but I’m hesitant about how to brag about it on social media. I think I have to go sarcastic/ironic with it. It’s a Real Book, but the Communist censors cut most of the teeth out of it. All that’s left of it is the literary equivalent of an in-flight magazine. All that’s left of it is basically a few listicles on where to find pho. Essentially, I have as much bragging rights as the dweebs who edit math textbooks.

What else?

Uh well I got a job making YouTube videos, but not because I’m talented. It’s because I live in Vietnam and there’s only six white people here. I am definitely not on camera because I’m handsome enough to be on camera. I mean – I know I’m not a bridge troll. But I’m also not a model. I’m what they call HIV (Handsome in Vietnam). Being HIV, so to speak, allows me to occasionally lure women onto my Winnie-the-Pooh sheets, too. My life is sort of a joke.

I’ve been in Vietnam for a year and I’ve had a few drugs, a few motorcycle crashes, a few thousand drinks and a few epiphanies that didn’t last. For the sake of exploding my perspective and getting inspired, I should leave soon. I’ll make some videos and then I’ll leave. I’ll go to some more parties and then I’ll leave. I’ll buy underwear when I leave.

Not Sure What To Make Of This One

I remember feeling proud of myself today for not knowing who had been nominated for the Oscars. I then remembered that I hate people who brag about not knowing popular things.

I went to the café and the staff stood up when I walked in like I was the President. I remember this really annoyed me but I’m not sure why.

I keep forgetting people’s names when I go out.

I need to try some new hobbies because maybe there is something out there that I haven’t tried yet that I’m naturally good at.

I mean, probably not but hey.

I have a Rain Man-ish affinity for dates and so I remember this day in 2004 I was in London with my grandparents. I had never been abroad before. I was so excited I was having trouble breathing. I thought that this girl Allison from school was going to like me a lot because I’d been to a foreign country but then I went back to America and she didn’t give a shit.

I’m in Asia now and I haven’t been home in two years.

I was on the motorcycle today and finally felt at peace in the anarchy of traffic, in this seething hardscrabble doomscape where people crash and get hit all the time. I can make time slow down and I can find the gaps and I can predict when someone else is about to do something stupid.

I got to work and took off my motorcycle helmet, which is a helmet that I think looks cool, like something Daft Punk would rock, and one of my students walked by and said it looked like a rice cooker.

I don’t know about this writing thing, or about this reading thing either. I have been reading the same book for like 3 months now and I’m only 40% through. I might not ever read another book. I might be reading this book forever. I might be doing everything that I’m doing now forever.

I need a haircut.

Benjamin Has A Blog


I. Unmasking

My editor uses words such as digital marketing and platforms. She is in the business of making her bosses rich by farming out the grunt work to me. And it has been suggested that I start a new blog under my real name — a blog which should be fit for public consumption — in order to start marketing my little travel book.

Fuck it, let’s do this. My name is Ben (nice to meet you) and here is my new blog.

It’ll be a showcase or maybe a portfolio or some other word that’s just as douchey. I’ve taken stuff I wrote a while ago and cut, edited, and focus-grouped it to within an inch of its life. So! You should follow it, like it, love it. Just so when I go public on Facebook, there’s at least three likes on that first post.

(Oh my God, please at least just click. You don’t even need to read it. Just… click. I’ve been slinging words into the empty void for so long now that I’m really not above begging.)

II. Laura

When I date women, I don’t say I’m a writer, I don’t even make an oblique reference to the SIGNED BOOK CONTRACT sitting in my closet. Maybe that’s why Laura didn’t text me back. Maybe she thinks I have nothing going on in my life. Damn! Laura was hot. She wanted to hang out. It was a layup. Somehow I blew it.

So this new blog is the last card I have left. This is a blitzkrieg. I may be underwhelming in person but now everyone is going to see that, in the fake realm of the Internet, I am a genius*. In the back of my mind With all of my mind, that’s what I’m hoping for, I’m pushing all my chips in on this blog. I’m so cool!

Joke’s on me though because I think I remember Laura saying she doesn’t read much.

III. Etymology

Fred Colton is a pretty dumb name, I’ve realized. I was watching GI Joe 2 when I was drunk on the couch at 5:00 am on Christmas morning, and learned that Bruce Willis’s character is named General Colton. I didn’t know that! Has everyone been thinking that I took my name from GI Joe 2? Probably not, but hey I’m not immune to a solipsistic worry or two.

My family is of German descent (see: “blitzkrieg,” above) and as of the 80s (after 150 years in America) we were apparently still sticking pretty hard to the ethnic names thing, because I was given the middle name of Friedrich. I shortened that to Fred, because this is 2017 and not The Sound of Music. I picked Colton because I wanted a surname that starts with C, because I used to be a big Michael Connelly and Lee Child fanboy.

One last takeaway: Fred Colton dot com will continue to exist. It’s where I practice writing and it’s where I make my confessions.

All right. Well, that’s all for tonight, kids.




*Although when it comes to expressing yourself, writing is kind of cheating, because you get infinite chances with which to restate and refine what you’re saying.


Journal: Election Day 2016


I’ve been in bed with food poisoning. I’m not surprised, because everything I eat is prepared by unwashed hands in a Vietnamese marketplace that plays host to a population of sewer rats. Every meal, you spin the barrel on the revolver again.

When I emerged from solitary confinement we had a new president. I say that I’m worried, because it’s just something you have to say in social situations. The truth is that I’m too white, too male, too straight and too Christian-adjacent to be worried.

But let’s not kid ourselves. It’s not like a savior got shafted. Hillary probably wasn’t going to help you. She was Sameness. She was the perpetuation of this broken machine that crushes everyone and sucks us dry. You were still going to have to go to work on Monday.

Anyway, this is America’s problem. In theory, I care, but it’s hard to. I live in a foreigner’s settlement on a faroff planet, where the headlines don’t really touch us. We’re alien bandits who drive motorcycles, drink all the beer and take all the money. The locals don’t like us much, but they need what’s in our heads.

We know it won’t last. Eventually, the proper dark forces will coalesce over this nation, someone loud will take charge, and we’ll have to pack up and worry about reality again. Until that day, I stay prodigal.