My book “The Gay Road Less Traveled” $2.99 on Amazon, supermodel Cricket and artwork by the super talented Matt Mateo Humphrey
In September of 2005, the Peace Corps sent Michael Levy to teach English in the heart of rural China.
“When I finally relented and agreed to go to Dog Meat King, I did so with no attention of eating the meat that gave the restaurant it’s name. But as a sat in the restaurant, hungry and happy to be with my friend Jennifer, I felt a Moment of Truth emerging from the greasy haze. Was I about to go fully native? Maybe there’s no really difference between dog and pic I thought to myself. I lifted a dog cube with my chopsticks and stared at it. The face of my brother Eliot’s golden retriever appeared in the veins of the meat. To my horror, my mouth began to water. I licked the meat. The sky did not fall. I popped the cube in my mouth. I chewed. I swallowed. It tasted like chicken. Kosher was of course out the window.”
“All of this is thanks to the Leadership of the Communist Party and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” teacher Qing said. “We will get rich now and develop and catch the West. Then we can develop True Communism later.”
“You do not have to worry about the quality of the meat. We can buy it in Walmart.” I was taken aback. “Walmart sells dog meat?” “Yes” replied Jennifer. “The price is also low, always the lowest. Walmart has the lowest prices in town.” I shook my head in disbelief. It was bad enough to think of a dead-dog section of Walmart, but what was even more unbleievable was that they could undercut the proces of butchers in the open markets, who were squeezing out a subsistence living.
My first class at Guizhou University started with everyone telling me their names, rather the American names they had given themselves. The worst student in the class had chosen the name Moron, which was ridiculous, but far from the strangest. There was “Anvil” a butch girl with a bowl cut, and an effeminate boy who went by “Dandy.” Two skinny girls inroduced themselves as “Shitty” and “Pussy.” Shitty explained her name by telling me it “sounded friendly.” Pussy told me she liked cats. There was Shmily, which she explained stood for “See How Much I love You” and Larple “I am a little fat, like a large apple.” There was God, Red Hero, and Waiting G, as well as two brothers named Stone and Stone Crusher.
Jackie raised his hand after Moron sat down. “His namee is Gordon, Mr. Mike, not Moron!” Jackie yelled. “But his English is very poor so that you cannot understand him!” Jackie was looking sternly at Gordon. “His Chinese is very poor, too! He is a minority person, so he has difficulty learning!”
Beautiful Boy – a father’s journey through his son’s addiction to crystal meth
I found the most interesting parts of this story to be when the father described parenting his two younger children, second-guessing himself and constantly worrying that he was the primary caregiver of a child who became a meth addict.
“Through Nic’s drug addiction, I have learned that parents can bear almost anything….I shock myself with my ability to rationalize and tolerate things once unthinkable. The rationalizations escalate….It’s only marijuana. He gets high only on weekends. At least he’s not using hard drugs….At least it’s not heroin. He would never resort to needles. At least he’s alive.”
“An alcoholic will steal your wallet and lie to you. A drug addict will steal your wallet and then help you look for it.”
“Anyone who has lived through it, or those who are now living through it, knows that caring about an addict is as complex and fraught and debilitating as addiction itself.”
“Along with the joy of parenthood, with every child comes a piercing vulnerability. It is at once sublime and terrifying”
“But here’s the rub of addiction. By its nature, people afflicted are unable to do what, from the outside, appears to be a simple solution—don’t drink. Don’t use drugs. In exchange for that one small sacrifice, you will be given a gift that other terminally ill people would give anything for: life.”
“In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain wrote, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” He was quoting a Neil Young song about Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. When I was twenty-four, I interviewed John Lennon. I asked him about this sentiment, one that pervades rock and roll. He took strong, outraged exception to it. “It’s better to fade away like an old soldier than to burn out, ” he said. “I worship people who survive. I’ll take the living and the healthy.”
“I tried everything I could to prevent my son’s fall into meth addiction. It would have been no easier to have seen him strung out on heroin or cocaine, but as every parent of a meth addict comes to learn, this drug has a unique, horrific quality. In an interview, Stephan Jenkins, the singer in Third Eye Blind, said that meth makes you feel “bright and shiny.” It also makes you paranoid, delusional, destructive, and self-destructive. Then you will do unconscionable things in order to feel bright and shiny again.”
Meet Hector, a beautiful A-list Chelsea party boy, complete with six-pack, street smarts and Upper West Side bff.
Meet Hector, body ravaged by AIDS, wearing caftans with pockets full of Kleenex, saying goodbye to his last T-cells, facing his death with humor and grace, trying (unsuccessfully) to find detachment.
“My new psychiatrist says gay babies need a erotic/romantic relationship with their fathers such as straight babies have with their mothers, but since the likelihood of the gay babies getting such paternal affection is slim, they grow up the way they do.”
“TV Guide was harassing me about getting their empty guide to emptiness. Threats from creditors filled the mailbox. I scrawled on the back of one “I did not order TV Guide because I never would and I never will. I am ill and you are harassing me, desist!” Jury duty notices? I scrawled across the jittery forms “AIDS!AIDS!AIDS!AIDS!”
Listen then to this wonder! How wonderful it is to be both outside and inside, to seize and to be seized, to see and at the same time be what is seen, to hold and to be held – that is the goal where the spirit remains at rest, united with our dear eternity – Meister Eckhart
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I tried to go to work today, but left after a couple of hours, apparently I am still a bit emotionally fragile. On the way home, I stopped at the St, Vincent de Paul thrift store on 34th and treated myself to 10 (ten) books for $1 (one) .
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I read this book last week, sitting with my mom in the nursing home, until she passed away. Zippy’s sharp humor and funny observations helped me through a tough time in my life.
“…she waited until she and my grandfather Anthel were just home from their honeymoon, and then sat him down and told him this: “Honey, I know you like to take a drink, and that’s all right, but be forewarned that I ain’t your maid and I ain’t your punching bag, and if you ever raise your hand to me you’d best kill me. Because otherwise I’ll wait until you’re asleep; sew you into the bed; and beat you to death with a frying pan.” Until he died, I am told, my grandfather was a gentle man.”
“That cat doesn’t have a lick of sense,’ I said, sighing.
Well, honey, he’s not right in the head,’ Dad said, flipping his cigarette into the front yard.
I glared at him. ‘And just what do you mean by that?’
Dad counted on his fingers. ‘He’s cross-eyed; he jumps out of trees after birds and then doesn’t land on his feet; he sleeps with his head smashed up against the wall, and the tip of his tail is crooked.’
Oh yeah? Well, how about this: he once got locked in a basement by evil Petey Scroggs in the middle of January and survived on snow and little frozen mice. When I’m cold at night he sleeps right on my face. Of that whole litter of kittens he came out of he’s the only one left. One of his brothers didn’t even have a butthole.’
“I stand corrected. PeeDink is a survivor.”
“What kind of good deeds? Like Girl Scouts? Because I got kicked out of Brownies and they won’t give me another chance to keep my clothes on at camp.”
“My mother was good at reading books, making cinnamon biscuits, and coloring in a coloring book. Also she was a good eater of popcorn and knitter of sweaters with my initials right in them. She could sit really still. She knew how to believe in God and sing really loudly. When she sneezed our whole house rocked. My father was a great smoker and driver of vehicles..He could hold a full coffee cup while driving and never spill a drop, even going over bumps. He lost his temper faster than anyone.”
“I respect every way in which you are a troublemaker, now get up and do what your mother says.”
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My ex came and got Squeak from me, to spend the weekend with him and Possum. He has also made it painfully clear that we will never be together again, also that he never really loved me, at least “not the way I am remembering it.”
It’s 4:30 in the a.m., and I’m not sleeping. I take Cricket for a long walk, there’s a full moon and the air is electric.
My mother is 61 years old. She has refused her dialysis and it is simply a matter of time. Over the next week, I will take her lunch and sit with her, reading my book or watching TBN. She continues to pray that I will “be healed” from my homosexuality and will find a nice Christian wife. I lie to her and tell her I am going to church in St. Petersburg, and it gives her some small comfort, so that’s okay. If she doesn’t pass away this week, I will be forced to have our final goodbye on next Sunday, as I am financially destitute, plus I’ve used up all of my PTO and my bills and rent await.
I feel like my mother’s mental health robbed her of happiness and that she never really enjoyed a good quality of life. When the moon is full like this, and I am feeling restless and anxious, I worry that my mental health will soon betray me as well, and I am pessimistic most of the time. I fear I will always be alone, ending up in some nursing home with nothing, just like my mother.
Cricket knows something is wrong. She is a good girl, smart and intuitive and empathetic. Cricket gives me a lick, then curls up next to me on the bed and starts snoring. She will be there for me in the morning, tucked in and sleeping against my stomach…she knows she is loved and cherished, anyway.
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The Gay Road Less Traveled – John Jernigan
$3.99 on Kindle, the Kindle app is free for any cell phone
Artwork by Mateo L’Artiste, models Possum the Boston Terrier and Cricket the French Bulldog
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Home alone on this Saturday, with no money and no man, I organized my library and discovered I am RICH!…in books. I do have several date possibilities for tonight, with different men, including Jim Butcher, Chuck Palahniuk, John Burdett and R.A. Salvatore.
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The sign on the board at the front of the St, Vincent de Paul thrift store said “10 Books for $1.00” Yes, please, 45 books later, I had six lovely bags of books, including Chuck Palahniuk, Don’t Let’s go to the Dogs Tonight, Wicked, A Wrinkle in time, Snow Falling on Cedars, Kosher Chinese Tiger Levy, and one of my all time favorites: the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time Mark Haddon. This is a great story and adventure, with a leading little detective who suffers from fairly severe autism or savant syndrome.
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From the Parc Thrift Store in Pinellas Park, hardcovers 50 cents and paperbacks a quarter, including Precious, Running with Scissors, Water for Elephants and The Petting Zoo.
From the HEP Thrift Store in Clearwater, 25 cents a piece for paperbacks, including the Bears and I, the Reader, To Kill a Mockingbird and one of my all-time favorites, the Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck.
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I had this great idea to send messages to four men on the facebook telling them how much I liked them, that I cared about them, that I would would wait on them for “as long as it took”, that I knew they cared about me, and finally that I was in their city and wanted to hookup asap. Brilliant, right? Of these 4 guys, three are in relationships and the 4th is…eccentric. Here is my message to them:
“Hi GUYS NAME, I know it’s been a while since we had any communication. I just wanted to tell you that I still like you a lot, and I miss you. I feel like we had a real connection, and you are still the most adorable guy that I have ever seen…so 100% just my type. In my own way, I had such a true crush on you, and actually started to care about you. I get the impression that you really liked me too, I know you did, and I think you would easily start to care about me if you allow yourself the opportunity. Listen, I am coming to Ft. Lauderdale/Birmingham/Pensacola this weekend and I really, really would love to hook up with you. I would love to have you come spend the night with me here, anytime you drive over/down. I hope we can make a true “love connection” and I’m prepared to wait on you, for as long as it takes! You should also buy a copy of my book, after all, you have your own chapter (I used GUYS 1st Name Last Initial when describing you)…have a good day handsome yours truly, seriously YOURS TRULY John Jernigan
Sounds pretty good, right? Not so much…
My 1st guy, who I actually did develop an online crush/affection for last year, messaged me back with the quickness! “Hey guy! Awww, so nice! Are you here through Sunday? I have to go see my dad this weekend, won’t be back until late Sunday” He had his escape plan ready to roll!
The 2nd guy, the cutest little fella that ever lived, responded “i was and am at a bit of a loss for words… very flattered of course…” When I messaged him back later with April Fool’s he didn’t respond, just ignored me
Guy #3, my smart, distinguished and eccentric friend, replied “Hey John, glad to hear all is well. I’m moving to Savannah, GA within the month, Stay in touch. ” Glad to hear all is well? I just told you I was smitten and stuff…you responded with well sorry leaving the state 😦
The 4th, and final, guy’s response was sad and truly made me realize the mistake this April Fool’s attempt at funny was. This sweet fella, let’s call him “Beth”, is smart and sweet and also the first and only man my age that I have ever shared uhh physical affection with…I sent him my message, no response, nothing. At around 10 p.m. I logged into the facebook to wish him an April Fool’s and: he had unfriended me! I can’t even tell him it was a prank, whatever he did he really did, like he disappeared entirely to me, he made himself invisible, even in searches. I hope he will read this and understand I was just trying to be funny, as usual. What’s not funny and is actually kind of sad is that I would love to have any of these 4 beautiful men for my own…but I will likely always be alone, trying to be funny and trying to make everyone laugh, while I just want to cry.
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This year I made the effort to celebrate this holy holiday, with a couple of different facebook posts. Here is my first post:
I want to say Thank you! to all 27 of you who bought my book for $3.99 on Amazon 😦 I have some fantastic news, I signed a contract with a $15,000 advance from Random House for my soon-to-be-published 2nd offering, Giggle, which should be released by summer.
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Jamie: Ok….if this is an April Fool’s joke…it ain’t funny. If it is not…Congratulations!!!!!!
April 1 at 9:25am · Unlike · 2
Pamela: No one in their right mind would give you $15,000 in ‘advance’
April 1 at 9:34am · Unlike · 3
Glen: GREAT NEWS JOHN!!! I knew it would Blow Up for You!
April 1 at 10:22am · Unlike · 1
June: If this is another one of your jokes I am done with you!
April 1 at 11:12am · Unlike · 4
June: You have to understand my doubts. You have tricked me MANY times before!
Me, late that night:
April Fool’s Bitches!
John Jernigan: Sadly, this is an April Fool’s Post! I really just wanted to put it out there that less than 30 of my facebook friends have purchased my book, reminding you that the Kindle app is FREE for any cell phone and my book costs $3.99 A publishing house did tell me that if I could self promote and sell 1000 copies or so, they would likely pay for a 5000 book press: only have to sell like 920 more 😦
The good news is that through guilt or clever marketing or whatever, 8 copies were bought in the next 2 days…bringing my sales total to like 53 😦
Based on a true story, an impassioned and propulsive debut novel about a headstrong girl from Far Rockaway, Queens, who is trying to find her place in the world
Written in an urban vernacular that’s electrifying and intimate, On the Come Up introduces a heroine whose voice is irrepressible, dynamic, and unstintingly honest. Thirteen-year-old AnnMarie Walker dreams of a world beyond Far Rockaway, where the sway of the neighborhood keeps her tied to old ideas about success. While attending a school for pregnant teens, AnnMarie comes across a flyer advertising movie auditions in Manhattan. Astonishingly, improbably, and four months before she’s due to give birth—she lands a lead role. For a time, AnnMarie soars—acting for the camera, flying to the Sundance Film Festival, seeing her face on-screen. But when the film fades from view and the realities of her life set in, AnnMarie’s grit and determination are the only tools left to keep her moving forward.
“It came to her just before sleep, an idea crystallizing in the dark—how maybe the size of your world ain’t what matter, whether it expand or shrink up or expand again—how maybe it was about finding your place in it. Hurdles to jump. You jump. Erase the lines, draw new ones. Chart a course and follow.”
I’m pretty sure I’m related to Frank…
Angela’s Ashes is a 1996 memoir by the Irish-American author Frank McCourt. The memoir consists of various anecdotes and stories of Frank McCourt’s impoverished childhood and early adulthood in Brooklyn, New York, and in Limerick, Ireland. It also includes McCourt’s struggles with poverty, his father’s drinking issues, and his mother’s attempts to keep the family alive. Angela’s Ashes was published in 1996 and won the Pulitzer Prize.
“He says, you have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”
“It’s lovely to know that the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.”
“I don’t know what it means and I don’t care because it’s Shakespeare and it’s like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words.”
“Come here till I comb your hair, said Grandma. Look at that mop, it won’t lie down. You didn’t get that hair from my side of the family. That’s that North of Ireland hair you got from your father. That’s the kind of hair you see on Presbyterians. If your mother had married a proper decent Limerick man you wouldn’t have this standing up, North of Ireland, Presbyterian hair.”
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”
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a snippet from my book, The Gay Road Less Traveled, $3.99 on Kindle
“How Can I Love You More – M People”
When I went to pick out my new baby at a kennel in rural Alabama, the owner invited me into his house and led me down into the living room. In a big baby playpen there were two litters of French bulldog puppies playing, nine puppies, and all seven weeks old. There were two or three black puppies, a few brown, a light tan one, and one white puppy with a big black spot on its back. I noticed this puppy was slightly larger than the rest, more active, and she was not being nice to her littermates. She pounced on one of her brothers and knocked him over, then rammed the smallest puppy (the tan one) with her head, shoving it across the playpen while it squealed and cried. When the white puppy saw us she ran to the edge of the playpen and stood up, screaming and whining and imploring to be picked up, which the owner did. “That’s part of the problem right there” he said as he held her. “Every night I put the puppies to bed and they all go to sleep, except her, she screams and cries until my wife comes and gets her and puts her in the bed with us. She’s a smart little thing.”
I like to think I know a little bit about dogs. One thing I do know is that when choosing a new puppy, you’re supposed to pick one in the middle, not the alpha or the runt. The owner hands the puppy to me. This pot-bellied little grunting pig was the boss of this pack, no doubt. I should probably choose one of the brown puppies, still, this thing is white and black, she’ll match my two Boston’s, she’s female (only girls for me, dogs I mean) she’s smart. One test they advise doing with a puppy is to hold it in your arms like a baby, on its back with its belly exposed. If the puppy will stay still and be held it will likely be a good dog, because it’s secure and comfortable enough to let its guard down. I try this with the puppy. She bucks and whines and goes all stiff like a child having a temper tantrum. I try to rock her and hold her but she screams REAL loud like a hyena or something. I put her back in the playpen where she immediately pounces on one of the other puppies and lays on top of him, gnawing on his ear. She is adorably cute. I must have her! French Bulldogs have big ears, but they have to grow into them, this puppy’s ears are still all droopy and not standing up yet…she looks like a little cricket. Cricket.
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an excerpt from my book, The Gay Road Less Traveled, which I hope to have published in 2016
Ain’t Got No/I Got Life – Nina Simone
On the Monday after Thanksgiving I return to sell plasma at the donation center in Wilton Manors. The center is busy, there are lines of people waiting to check in. Once the donor checks-in, we are called into cubicles to see the not-nurses/screeners, who OK or deny our donation suitability. I get in the queue for the check-in kiosks. 20 minutes later I type my ID # and present my thumbprint, to be scanned into one of the three computer terminals. The screen identifies me, but instead of popping up a screen of 35 questions like “Do you currently reside in a home with an individual who has hepatitis?” the computer screen flashes “Client not appropriate for kiosk, declined. Proceed to special screening intake.” I get in line for the not-nurses, and 10 minutes later, I am sitting in a cubicle with one of the screeners.
“The computer said I wasn’t appropriate to do my questions and that I needed to come see you” I tell the somewhat big-boned not-nurse whose name-tag says “Beatrice.” I am growing a little concerned.
an excerpt from John’s book, The Gay Road Less Traveled, available on Amazon for $3.99.
I’m learning as I go as to how the bathhouse works, while trippin’ real real hard. We pay $17 each to enter. What is expected and normal is to rent a locker for $10. You put all your clothes in this locker and walk around naked, in a towel. There are also little rooms for rent ($25) that lock, with little half bed/bench combos. Kevin & Chris pay for their lockers and are given keys. The attendant asks for my $10. I decline. The attendant says I have to get a locker, where else am I going to put my clothes? I primly tell him that I’m keeping my clothes on. I distinctly remember the aura and color of red coming off of this guy as he argued with me. Chris tells the attendant he is sure once I get inside I will want to come back out and get a locker. Now I had dropped acid a good 20 times in my life, but never like this. Not sure if it was because I was tired after the long weekend, or because it was 2 hits, or maybe the acid was industrial strength, but I proceed to have a kind of out-of-body experience.
An excerpt from my book, The Gay Road Less Traveled, available on Amazon’s Kindle.
Johnny wakes up and runs to the living room to see his gifts. The entire couch is covered with toys, there are some more on the floor and he has a huge stocking full of candy. He sees Stretch Armstrong and his nemesis, Stretch Monster, a big Godzilla-like monster, the Millennium Falcon, the Death Star, every Star Wars figure out, a Rubik’s cube, a Magna Doodle, a Sony Walkman, a Legoland space ship, all of the Superfriends, the Hall of Justice and the Legion of Doom, G.I. Joe, and of course Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Aquaman and Shazam underoos. Johnny looks at all of his presents, not realizing his mother makes $6000 a year as a teacher’s aide, that his grandparents are on a fixed income or that there is approximately $400 worth of toys in front of him. Johnny doesn’t realize how much he will cherish these toys in the next year (Stretch was his constant companion, until he starting leaking gross gel from his stomach, and his life-long loves of R2D2 and Chewbacca were born on this early morning). Like the honey badger, Johnny don’t care. He looks at all of his toys and candy, with his mother and Granny standing there all happy and proud, and says “This is it? This is all I get?” Johnny stamps his feet and shakes his head, No, crosses his arms and starts to whine about the unfairness of it all.
Johnny’s mother starts to cry. Johnny’s Granny curses, then goes and smokes one of his grandfather’s cigarettes on the back porch, muttering something about a “bag of switches.” Johnny settles in to play with all of his fantastic toys, clueless, oblivious, spoiled rotten and ruint, while his mother cries and his Granny talks herself down from committing some child abuse.
Brenda commented on this.
Facebook friends, a friend of mine who used to be one of the hard working under appreciated social workers for the State here in Pensacola has written a book now available on Kindle, John Jernigan’s “The Gay Road Less Traveled.” I purchased it tonight to start it, couldn’t out it down, it was so funny. Graphic, real, and hysterical, John’s writing is endearing, funny, smart and if you happen to be drinking coffee, it may shoot out of your nose at some point during one of his vignettes. You can read it on Kindle.
44 minutes ago
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Brenda Seriously, I think john’s writing is as funny as some of David Sedaris’…
35 minutes ago via mobile · Like
Brenda N., if you have a Kindle, buy this book and read it, totally your sense of humor!!!
31 minutes ago via mobile · Like
The Gay Road Less Traveled – John Jernigan
available on Amazon for Kindle
The St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on 34th in St. Pete practically gives books away, 10 for one dollar! On at least a weekly basis I stop in, adding to my library. On my last visit I found a Jonathan Livingston Seagull, hard cover, in excellent shape, not bad for 10 cents.
The Tarpon Springs thrift store sign said “Books $1 each or a bag full for $2.99.” Naturally, I spent 30 minutes agonizing over which books made it to John’s house, including Clan of the Cave Bear, A Wrinkle in Time, Water for Elephants, First Lord’s Fury and Naked.