In the past year Long Shot Books had the honor of releasing Charlie Lefever's latest book, Find Me When You Come Back.
In this collection, Charlie makes the case for unrequited love. With each piece you'll be falling in love and yearning for your dream girl. You may find yourself in a storage room, crowded by shelves of pasta and bags of flour, standing so close to her that you'd never want to leave. You might inhale the scent of the ocean and allow yourself to float away for a while. You'll be mesmerized with how “the yellow of the sun & the blue of the ocean mix in [her] eyes.” In time though, you may think you're leaving her behind, only to realize she wasn't coming with you.
You'll know what it means to love fully, forever—"No one in the whole world will ever Love you in that exact, particular way that I Love you." By the end, you'll see love everywhere.
Find Me When You Come Back spills truths that transcend time.
Contact Charlie at email@example.com or LSB at firstname.lastname@example.org to pick up your copy of Find Me When You Come Back for $12.
Check out this great performance of the opening piece:
Charlie Lefever is a queer writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Their work, best described as creative nonfiction with a surrealist twist, is featured in Pretty Owl Poetry magazine and forthcoming in the Arlington Literary Journal. Charlie enjoys writing by hand in the company of their two cats, one pup, and many houseplants.
Follow them online here.
Written By: Ash Catcher
Friday was my first day off in 2 weeks, I know exactly what I am doing, work yourself to death and trade it all in for a 5 hr round trip to a frozen ass lake. I had no idea it was gonna snow the entire time on my way to Lake Wallenpaupack and yet here I am underdressed as always and wearing tennis shoes, I tried skipping rocks, and all it did was make that weird sound ice makes when you try to break it. Like that “Wooooooooooooosh” sound. It was kinda cool, this lake is one of the bigger ones in PA. I also stopped off at Lake Harmony wish is said to house the cleanest water in PA.
That was frozen too so I am not sure if that ice was 100% ph crystal but you know I can only dream and speculate. I am trying to visit all of PA’s greater Lakes, I went to Erie in November, I have been to Noxx a thousand and one times, and now I can tick off Wallenpaupack, and Harmony off my "Lake List”. Well water am I waiting for? I think I am strapped for ideas of what to do with the few days I have off now, I go to the gym like every day after work, I run several social media accounts, a feminist blog, a door blog, now a coffee blog, which I am still playing with. I don’t know I just know I should be out there seeing, and doing more.
I have picked up some new hobbies, aside from lake investigating, I guess I could bring some PH strips next time and test the contents of the water if that was really my thing. I enjoy scenery and science, but what I really like lately has been rocks. Mostly they have been coffin shaped respectfully but I have acquired a various collection of rocks over the past few years. I have no idea where this has stemmed from. I just started snagging rocks during my day trips. I am thinking this year when I start going to the beach again that I will be collecting and labeling sand samples.
As far as writing goes, I plan on keeping up with weekly blogs, I think they are oddly satisfying, it helps with all those skellys I am trying to get out of the cosmic closet. But hey isn’t that what drugs are for too? This year, I am not just planning, or putting out the intentions for more spiritual growth, and connecting more with nature. I WILL be doing that stuff. So look alive, or as alive as we can be right now, eat your veggies, and stay alert. I am listening to too much vaporwave, and solvetwave. I have a feeling that this year is about to be super interesting.
I’ll see you next Wednesday degenerates
I just finished a book I spent eight years working on. It's about a kid in high school. I'm sure with that level of information, you can think of at least 50 other books about kids in high school. Some stories may take place at a party, others at prom, graduation, or all three. The protagonist may be struggling with planning for the future, navigating the minefield of a social life, or dealing with some supernatural shit, or all of the above at once. So I'm clearly not the first person to write a story about high school.
When I'd describe the plot of my book about a maladaptive daydreamer, I was often met with comments like “Oh, like Inception?” I used to get all worked up and rapid-fire list ways how my book was nothing like Inception (if anything, it gave off more Walter Mitty vibes), and it left me feeling like I was wasting my time.
I let that hold me back for like eight years.
In fiction, you can narrow down the plot to pretty much any novel into seven basic categories. This concept is so well known it even has its own book and Wikipedia page. Basically every story can be summarized into these categories:
1. Overcoming the Monster
2. Rags to Riches (or Riches to Rags)
3. The Quest
4. Voyage and Return
To add an extra layer of unoriginal-ness—just about every conflict possible can be sorted into the six main conflict types:
1. Man vs. Nature
2. Man vs. Self
3. Man vs. Man
4. Man vs. Society
5. Man vs. Technology
6. Man vs. Supernatural
I won't break them all down here because there are much better articles that do this already—my point is, a lot of this has been done before. That can be discouraging. It can make you question why even bother writing at all if you can't put anything 100% new out there.
I'm not advocating that we all be formulaic, plagiarize, or give in to mediocrity. I'm saying we shouldn't let the notion it's been done before deter us from telling our stories. You can tell them the way only you can. We've got a great thing going for us—we've got as many stories as we do folks to tell them.
I'd say instead of pressuring ourselves into being wholly abstract (which is probably egotistical at best), we can focus on sharing stories that bring us to relate to one another. Being inspired by one another doesn't make our stories unoriginal. It doesn't make you a hack.
There's fellowship in shared experience. I'm glad I'm not the only one who had an awkward first date, experienced a breakup (or five), wrecked my car, pissed off my parents, or felt nervous about post-grad life.
Written By: Ash Catcher.
Paranoia to the max.
No thank you man, I am just trying to relax.
Pheromones up in your face.
All your coke n blow are laced.
Thought you had control over me.
Well I feel sorry for you, why can't you see:
You’re just broke and boujie.
IPA’s all day, and still no bed frame.
You’re just so broken and boujie.
Feeling slightly stupid
Strung out on all the drama.
I am sorry dude, what is your name again? Did you say Connor?
All up in your head, and in the clouds.
I hear you don’t have much going for you now.
Hey man life is short, that's why I look at cows.
You’re so broke and boujie.
IPA’s all day and still no bed frame.
Almost pushing 30.
Put on display from some cheap lay.
If I look at your face in pictures now,
All I got to say is wow.
You’re so broke and boujie
All of fake ass friends sipping on each other’s kool aid smoothies.
I don't know if you know this but your piece of work.
Your antics they just drive me berserk.
Being with you was a fucking chore.
Like taking out the trash.
It's something that I hate.
I know you stay up late looking at my cache.
If we ever see one another again, I'll chalk it up to fate.
Sick of all the fakeness in this place.
Your house of lies is crumbling.
Cmon just do it, fucking eat a salad.
This years ending soon, your opinions still are not valid.
Feel that? It's the universe calling, she is sick of your expanding face, and all the lies.
Sick of all this broke and boujie
Ignoring me in public
But stalking my Insta story.
You guys like to hoover around me like Sputnik.
Do you think I wouldn’t find out?
I knew you were full of yourself, but now I know you just like to reroute.
Back to all the radicalism.
All your “Social Anarcho Lives”
Who are you fooling, you grew up in Bucks County
Why are you trying to act Delco all the time?
You don't have to lie to me anymore, I don’t trust you anyways.
You’re so broke and boujie
Strung out on cheap cocaine, and codependent smoothies.
Lust for breakfast, tasteless, tackiness, trading all your school lunches.
When are you going to address all those vices, and crutches?
Written By: Ash Catcher
I think that is the most stupid generalized, over asked question someone has asked me. So I am gonna rant and rave all about it.
Like art, there is just a shit ton of music out there, for every person's interest, all walks of life, demographics, and languages, which I am listening to Ukrainian 80s synth pop, in a few mins I may be throwing on Mongolian throat singing, and or Japanese industrial music. It varies, and like my moods, that shit's gonna change, like time on a damn clock. I cannot recall a time where I did not have some mild form of social anxiety and musical ADD. I just let that shit flow. I keep reassuring myself if things were more open and you could have just one night out at a club things wouldn’t be so bad. Ya girl's just gotta dance this out. I am not stressed out, I just got something that is knowing away at my psych ya know. I am not sure what it is, but music really has been a saving grace.
On days I am not working, and nights- they’re few and far between, I really want more time to create. I feel like I have been manifesting this moment for a while now but I am pretty set on taking myself and my art further than I ever thought possible. I am very shy when it comes to sharing my art. It's something that I am trying to steadily get over, in addition I am also super shy about what kind of music I share with others as well. Music is such a personal thing for me that I feel like sharing it with another person is super intimate. That's just how I see things. I could sound crazy, bit when I tell other people that sharing music is pretty personal to me, because ya know memories and shit I can tell you for a fact I am not exactly open to sharing 100% with what I listen to with others, um cause some of it is weird as fuck.
I am sure I am not the only one who misses techno, and house music, all the music I have discovered when I was younger is also apparently the taste of a middle aged white man, so I am flattered and semi creeped out. Maybe I should try and branch out. I used to fuck with digital streaming music hard as a kid, my Apple Music library could satisfy me for weeks, and weeks. But after they locked my account I became super bitter about it, and immediately invested in vinyl. I have been collecting them for roughly 15 years now. I have I want to say 100 or so records, I have been obsessed with 7 inches lately. If it's not broke don't fix it. It works, I can find some weird original pieces, which I don't know why is really important to me that I don't have something that someone else has. I guess that is a squirrelly aspect of me I just need to accept. Nut up Ash.
For not being that inspired lately, I can happily say I woke up after sleeping in till about 9 am, fucking unheard of for me, but I just don't listen to music, I listen to my body too, and apparently I am listening to hella indie, and way way too much beach boys. Send help! But maybe just a song suggestion would suffice. Music is that personal additive, its like something a little extra that you add to your coffee that you don't tell your guest, and when they choke on the coffee gasping “Is that cinnamon I taste?” You reply back and say “No, that's the Newest E.P from Pup, it's just as spicy, but way less calories.” I am not sure my humor can translate via text very well.
Whatever I would be dead without music, like WAY more dead than I already am.
See ya next Weds!
I originally wanted to make this into a Things I Like video about Airborne Toxic Event's self-titled album for our YouTube channel. Then that idea was whittled down to just being about their hit “Sometime Around Midnight” (and I don't care if that makes my taste basic—the song is a masterpiece). Then that idea resulted into a flood of other ideas I thought would be a big enough deal to warrant an article. Before I get into it, I do want to talk about how much I love it, and I promise I'm going somewhere with this.
“Sometime Around Midnight” is a story compressed into a five-minute and four-second song. Basically, Mikel Jollett runs into his ex at a bar and realizes he's still in love with her. She's acting like she's having the greatest time in the world with some other guy, while he's remembering how she looked when she was his.
The beat starts off slow as he's describing the encounter. He starts getting bolder when he sees her leave with someone he doesn't know and his blood's boiling and his stomach's in ropes. Then in the most angst-filled way he shouts, “Then you walk under the streetlights / And you're too drunk to notice that everyone's / Staring at you / You just don't care what you look like / The world is falling around you.” Then he ends with telling himself over and over again “You just have to see her” even though he knows it'll break him in two.
Outside of the genius lyrics, angsty vocals, and master instrumentals, there was something else I liked about this song, but I couldn't articulate it right away.
Finally I realized I liked it because I had this experience too. This song was one of the things that helped me get through every past breakup. I felt understood. I couldn't imagine not having this song in my life at that time. Yeah, I'd survive it and move on, but there's something so special about a song that resonates with you when you need it.
Back in 2012 when I was getting ready to graduate, budget cuts to our arts programs (among others) were finally coming around—or at least, finally being talked about publicly. Around the same time my school was shoving the going to college route down our throats on top of pushing kids towards math and science fields. My family was also telling me to study something practical, instead of art. I genuinely think they both meant well. The school was probably just looking at stats and saw the growing need to fill those jobs in the next few years. My family wanted to make sure I could get a job. I get it.
Science and math make vital contributions to our lives on a daily basis that I am grateful for, but hear me out: Not everything you do is required to result in massive change that affects the lives if billions of people. That's a lot of pressure. By no means does art cure disease, stabilize economies, or save the world from meteors.
But that song might mean the world to one person. A poem might help that person put words to what they're feeling and help them make sense of what they're going through. That reassurance that we're not alone unites us. It's invaluable insight—especially now, in a social climate hell-bent on driving us apart and pointing out our differences rather than what we share.
A friend once made a comment that history was written by the winners—those who are first get to write how it happened. The runners-up just get to push the winners' narrative. That story is a recounting of what the winners consider to be important to pass on to future generations.
Art is by the underdogs. (There are some elitist jerks and gatekeepers who say otherwise, but this doesn't include them.) You want know what people cared about? What they were hoping for? Afraid of? Mull over the lyrics to that song, pick up a chapbook or a novel, or go to an art exhibit. Entire art movements sprout up because people want to be heard.
Art exists on the margins outside of statistics. The answers we give can't always be charted or graphed. What gets you through that breakup can't be found under a microscope. Your joy isn't always a result of careful calculation.
Sometimes you just need to be told, “I get it.”
I doubt that's the reaction to “Sometime Around Midnight” that Mikel Jollett intended, but well, here it is.
New year 2021! All new Ash Interviews good good! I am so excited to see what this year brings!
Next time you're reading something, or listening to a song, or watching whatever it is you aren't already endeared to, try writing down your thoughts. Not the ones about the last time you shaved under your arms or if you have enough cheese to make it to the end of the week, the critical ones. How ruthless are you when it comes to new entertainment? Are you looking for the positives or leverage to pull the content down beneath you? This isn't a trap. You very well could be open-minded or accepting. Better yet, imagine everyone in your life judging you in the same way you pass judgment unto others. Is that a scary thought to you or a reassuring one? If it's the former, this silly, pseudo-analytical, slightly hypocritical blog post is for you.
I get angry sometimes, because every time I check, I still have a pulse, yet I find myself stuck in David Foster Wallace's Hell. Everyone is hiding beneath seven layers of irony and eschewing potential in favor of picking the lowest hanging fruit, just to quip about how far down they had to bend in order to grasp it. We have pseudo-criticisms such as Red Letter Media constantly in pursuit of shlock and the propagandist brood of Jon Stewart's Daily Show clipping and recontextualizing news items before sidestepping any criticism sent their way, because after all, they are only comedians. It's criticism without accountability. That's to say nothing against those of us who enjoy our guilty pleasures (though the scripted pundit droogs can take their millions and piss off, considering the damage they've done to modern discourse via the snarkument style they've popularized and their bastardized narratives). I'm a huge fan of B-movies, bad songs, and think Mystery Science Theater 3000 has (or, had, I should say; I refuse to watch the latest seasons) some of the finest comedy writing in television history. At the end of the day, love them or hate them, RLM are successful filmmakers. Many people find comfort in their series and have enjoyed their original movies, which aren't much better than many of the films they lambast on their show, Best of the Worst. Rambling aside, my point is that they are putting their best foot forward and contributing something, even if that foot is wearing an ironic clown shoe.
I'm not sure when this trend (which I very well might just be imagining) began of seeing one's love seat as an authoritative throne. To acknowledge the obvious, yes, anyone can have valid criticism and everyone has the right to an opinion. We know. Some things are so abundantly clear they don't need announced, and some people are so dense they refuse to accept that until they are laid out plain and clear. My point is, if you're on the bench, you have no skin in the game. (I refer you to the analogy of the angry sports fan, beer gut and all, shouting at a famous player on the TV for missing a pass that this couch potato clearly could have caught had it been him.) I'm starting to see myself like a washed-up musician when I hear the sound of scoffing. "Where's your masterpiece? If you're so much better, where's your 'Bohemian Rhapsody?'" It's easy to laugh like you wouldn't make such a mistake when you'd never be willing to even put the effort forth. Maybe it is a diversion of my own but nobody reads my books, so, this rebuttal is never in relation to my personal works. One aside I can't allow myself to exclude is the post-modern trend of blockbuster movies not taking themselves seriously, or, if they dare invest in the stakes of its own narrative risk being branded with the modern scarlet letter of "humorless." The obvious example, as it popularized the quipping trend for modern audiences are the Marvel movies. (Once again, I'm not saying every one of these films is worthless; I enjoy a fair deal of them. I'm merely pointing to a cultural phenomenon with which they are associated.) At times, it feels as though the directors (or should I say, producers) are winking at the audience to say, "We know this is just a comic book movie. We're above it, too." They could take their storytelling more seriously but they're just too fuckin' cool. The issue with this constant quipping is that it's hard to accomplish anything if you don't try in earnest. Sometimes, to win big, you have to go all-in. I would say that Indiana Jones and Star Wars have a great deal of humor by way of quips but also know when to respect their material.
Remember way back, before I went on a schizophrenic tangent about pop culture, when I asked you to write down your thoughts on whatever you're listening to/reading/watching? Now, try making something of your own. See how much effort it takes to write a corny poem, how frustrating it can be to make a shitty movie, how many hours go into writing whatever song your friend posted on Bandcamp that you made fun of behind their back. (Hopefully that last thing hasn't actually happened to anybody.) Hard work is humbling. Behind many of your least favorite movies is a life spent loving cinema. Some of the bands you love to hate the most have gotten someone through a rough time in their lives. That book you pointed out has a typo also has sixty thousand words spelled properly. One of the best pieces of advice I heard for public speaking is that everyone in the audience wants you to succeed. They are on your side. Nobody wants to go to a bad show. Maybe every now and then you will get a heckler but to paraphrase Minor Threat, "At least [you're] fuckin' trying."
-Todd Daniel Crawford