Monday, November 07, 2005

The TrishKen Triangle...

I've often thought Vicky really blew it by marrying me - I mean, really bought a lemon. Well, this weekend helped illuminate my point pretty well, I think.

Let's start with the new book and work our way back. As you faithful readers probably know (both of you), I hit the 10,000 word mark last week. This new book is really a return to roots for me; I'm casting off all pretension in my style, bringing everything down to a basic, simple style, while amping my sarcasm up to 11. It's a lot like my writing used to be back in the days of the first My Side (which was a newspaper column)... but with more cussing. The thing is, it's such a risk for me, I'm not really sure if it's any good. In fact, as I hit 10k, I was pretty sure it probably sucked.

I asked a few people if they'd be interested in reading it for me, screening it, if you will. Enter Trish, Vicky's Matron-of-Honor, good friend, and her one link to the guy who used to write My Side. She said she'd love to read the 10k and so, in one fell swoop, she was reading something a lot like the My Sides I wrote in high school, which she might have read... now and then became one a little bit.

Then, it got worse.

See, back when I wrote My Side, back in high school, I was the guy to beat. I was voted most talented in the year book. I had teachers expect me to be on Broadway, some of them said they expected me to win a Pulitzer. There was a lot of pressure to achieve great things.

Which I did not do.

Not only did I not achieve great things, I barely pulled out good things.

It still happens today. I have actor friends who expect me to ace auditions, which I never do. People think that just because I've written 10 books, one should get published. They don't. People have this limitless capacity for hope, which doesn't help me any because I can't help but let them down.

And defeat isn't something that helps you sleep at night.

A few months ago, a guy named Eugene David, a guy I was good friends with in elementary school, wrote to me through Classmates and asked me what I'd been up to. Hmmm... failed married, dead-end job, living in an apartment, never been published, not a working actor - I didn't have much to tell him. Now, of course, I'm married to a wonderful woman with a nice home but the expectations that were placed upon me back then were never met. In short, I failed. I'm a failure.

Put that on my tombstone.

Along with pepperoni. I love pepperoni.

So, Trish is reading the book - you remember how we got there, right? - and she reads the following:

Carl Olek was a man quickly approaching middle-age who had moved to Arizona for the dry weather. He needed it because his joints would swell and ache anywhere else he lived, a conclusion drawn after living in only two other places. Carl didn’t have arthritis. He’s busted his knuckles time and again as a child, beating the crap out of people. As a child, Carl had been a bully and he’d liked beating the crap out of people a whole lot; he just hadn’t realized that it would put him in a shithole like Seligman, Arizona or that he’d end up tending bar in a place like the Log Cavern Tavern and at no point did he ever think he’d ever run into John Gabriel in such a place. Or that John Gabriel would be telling him his fucking life’s story.

Carl Olek, you see, was a real person - he may still be a real person. I was friends with him in elementary school. He was kind of a bully - I got to know him through Jeff Hollenbeck, who I was friends with for quite some time. We only stopped being friends in Junior High school, when he got more into drugs than with hanging around dorks. I was the dork. I was more drawn to reading and making up stories than to sports or drugs. I didn't choose well.

Vicky and I were in Lancaster Saturday night, having dinner at her mom's restaurant, when the topic of these 10,000 words came up. Vicky, so tired of hearing me wonder if Trish had read it yet that she wished she could have put me inside a vacuum tube that would have sucked me over to Trish & Clay's house (no, Tim. Not that way!), she pulled out her phone and immediately called Trish.

And Trish had read it.

And she wanted to talk to me.

"Is Carl Olek based on a real person?" she asked.

He was, I told her.

This came as a surprise to her and not for the reasons you might think. You see, she knew Carl Olek.

She knew Jeff Hollenbeck.

She knew these people who expected me to succeed. And, yet, she knows I'm a failure.

And, so, it all comes full circle - or, at least, it did this weekend - Trish, Jeff, all those expectations, all of my failures - there's no escaping it. There's also no way that I can hide from Vicky how shortchanged she got by saying "I do".

... pretty crappy way to start the week.


Vicky said...

It still amazes me that Ken can have such a low opinion of himself at times. To me, my family & friends he is a wonderful person. In spite of what he may say, I am very lucky to have found him, let alone be married to him. I am living a very happy life with Ken. He loves me...I see it every day in his eyes when he looks at me. All of my family & friends see it...this weekend when we want to visit my family, my grandmother said that she knew immediately that he was the one for me...she could see the sparkle in his eyes when he looked at me. Saturday night she said that his sparkle was still there and that she was so happy for me...for both of us. She calls him her grandson. I didn't fall in love with Ken the actor or writer...I love my Ken, the one I plan to spend every day with for the rest of our lives. He is the love of my life.

Jenn from WA said...

Interesting thought that came to me this weekend while watching late night TV. The quote goes as such: " When you change how you see things, the things you see change too."

Ken - I'm an avid reader. I don't know any of the folks you mentioned. So if you want a valid opinion from a person who has neither met you nor knows your abilities...I'm all for reading the book. Vicky has my address or email me at

AND - You can't be a complete write every day an entertaining piece for the world to read.

Tony said...


A few words from a stranger?

Let it go. The past, I mean. Stop living in the shadow of failed expectations from high scool. Don't be Al Bundy, living in the glory days of the touchdown that should have been.

Your wife loves you. Live in that.
The one thing that will drive her away is a constant dwelling in the failures of your past, which did not include her. Move forward. The only real losers ar those who stop trying.

"The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity"
-Lord Darkness, Legend

Trish said...

Ken, I have to say I am kinda bummed. I can't believe you think that I think your a failure!.. I don't at all. First, let me explain a little bit about high school to those reading this. We didn't know each other in high school. I knew your name, I knew who you were, but we never spoke. I didn't know the path you were one. My brother was senior in 84, I was a freshman. I knew a lot of juniors and seniors. I had one neighbor/friend Lacy Holmes that was involved in drama and I had asked when I met you if you knew her, you said you did not. So that was that. I realized that we didn't know the same people. Then you ask me to read your 10K, so I happily agreed. I happened to recognize the name Carl, mainly from jr high school, I think. My best friend in jr high dated him or something. I really only remember him as being a bully and mean to her. Not a friend by any means. As far a Jeff goes, we did hang out, although I didn't do drugs or sports. One of his best friends in high school was my neighbor, James Daron. So that's pretty much the extent of our triangle.. I think back in 1997 or 98, I saw James and Jeff on and we emailed a few times. I don't recall your name coming up. I seriously don't think any of those people would consider you a failure but if they do.. who gives a shit! I'm sure more than half the kids in Valley life's didn't turn out as planned or expected. It's called life. Shit happens. I know my life wasn't planned out this way. I never really had a "real" plan.. but I am very thankful for where I am and what I have. One thing I am very thankful for is my friends, which since the day I met you I have considered you. So, stop dwelling on the past and focus on a wonderful life with Vicky, your FRIENDS and the unwritten books in your head.
I would still like to read the rest of the story, so get to work!

Kenneth La Salle said...

Thus Ken gets bitch-slapped... which is not to disparage any of those fine people who done slap me like the bitch I am.

Let me add, however, that my admission of failure is by no means meant as self-pity. I own my failure; it's just a fact.

As for Trish's comments. Well, you'll never believe this but I now remember Lacy Holmes! Funny, huh?

I consider myself extremely grateful for my friends and family and all of the good luck I by no means deserve. My personal philosophy, however, has always been own of accepting resposibilities for the things I screwed up. Good and bad, this is me taking them both.