Creepy Crawlers, Wonder, and Optimism


Hello, Sternal Journalists!

How to introduce this one? With an admission, maybe: I’m letting myself get excited about the next 6 months. I’m allowing myself to feel like, even though many things are still bad and unresolved, a lot of the epidemiological news I’m being exposed to is making me feel like the world could genuinely be better in 6 months than it is now.

To me, that’s very novel. If you’re reading the Sternal Journal by now, you probably know that doesn’t mean I think everything will be “fixed” or “normal.” Rather, I hope a finally vaccinated, Trump-shushed society is able to do much better at making things better than we’ve been able to for some years now.

But something pretty inconsequential I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks is who is the Julian that will be unleashed into the world once the world is welcoming unleashed humans. It’s been a weird year for many reasons, but to quote DJ Khaled:

“I CHANGED A LOT.” (Not “Finga Licking,” sorry for any confusion). I’ve become someone who meditates most days. I journal. Right now, I’m taking a serious fiction writing class with a writer I adore.

(Did I do something that made her say, “I think you need to explain what Animorphs is to anyone who doesn’t know” on day two of the class? Absolutely. Is there any way I can convince you it came up organically? Doubtful, but I swear it was.)

Point being: this has been a very tough year, but I’ve done a lot of exploring and experimenting with who I am, what I want to do, and what makes me feel peaceful.

I’m excited to see how all of that translates to a more normal world, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried I’ll ditch it all once I’m safely allowed to be in a crowded bar telling jokes with names like “Peeny Phiseeny” and “Merkin Revolution.”

I absolutely want to be doing those things, but I want to be doing them through the lens of Julian2021Unleashed: I Changed A Lot, whatever what means. So! In the spirit of trying not to let myself forget the Julian I Changed A Lot Into over the past year, below is a weird stream-of-consciousness poem I wrote inspired by my friend Joe and our creative relationship.

Joe has always been a champion of me and I of him. We are the Most Writing is Bad Boys, and we won’t let you forget it. Again, the below isn’t really supposed to be funny, but I think at times it is. I’m not even sure if it’s supposed to make sense or tell a story.

But I hope, by codifying within the Sternal Journal, I’m able to push my (hopefully safe in the) near future self to keep doing weird things and experimenting.

Without further ado:

What I like About Joe’s Writing

What I like about Joe’s writing is the boyish joy that comes through.

When I had my Creepy Crawlers oven, the way I looked at that little bug-atorium case I had filled up, it was absolutely I mean I think I’ve been chasing that feeling since I was 5 and never come remotely close.

And while I bet Creepy Crawlers was conceived of by some stuffy oh shit Mattel execs who wanted to sell an E-Z Bake Oven for boys, there’s a version where the genius was 

a 34-year-old vibing on life in a modest apartment paid

a big amount for him, small amount for a corporation

to write up 50 to 70 but no more than 70 ideas about what kind of ovens little boys would like and he’s got

one Tecate tallboy in front of him,
one Tecate tallboy in the fridge,
a lime sliced in four on the counter next to 
a knife,
a joint in 
the ashtray,
a pot of straight down the middle mediocre, scooped from a big-ass-canister-so-much-plastic-it-doesn’t-go-to-a-landfill-it-already-is-a-landfill 

and so now we rest our case he is indeed vibing on life, and he gets to the vicinity of entries 30 to 35 when he looks out the window to the truly beautiful if you can muster it brick wall, which is the only thing he sees normally, but today is different because today he sees

a millipede, named for it’s thousand legs; 
a millipede, but we all spend at the very least two thirds of an elementary school recess believing there is a bug in the world belegged by the millions;
a millipede, which I didn’t really know they had those around here but it’s not like I know where they do have millipedes, so I can’t reasonably tell him to go back to where he came from because if he got up on 500 of his legs, puffed out his teeny-weenie exo-skelular chest, and squeaked, 

“Where the fuck do you think that is? The fuck do you think I’m from?”

I’d be a speechless bigot;
a millipede, I also don’t think they actually have a thousand legs, but I also also am not gonna tell one of them that;
a millipede, seen by the 34-year-old copywriter paid by the Mattel corporation to vibe out and look out the window and come up with 69 nice

pieces of shit 

for the one little scribble of 14 letters when he, who is now fully Joe in my mind, no longer hypothetical or past, but present, he sees the millipede, 



“Ohhhh shit,”

and sends deep into the future to my little pudginess staring at the Creepy Crawlies, 

then deeper to the far future, to me “now," looking back on the life I’ve built chasing 

that feeling, 
that vibing, 
that vibe.

Most writing is bad, but bad writing can still change you. 

Oooooh, weird, right? I liked it. I hope you liked it. I think it’s more interesting to put it that way then to tell you once again to check out Joe’s horror comic Kickstarter or the Turtle Power-style rap I wrote and performed for it (I’m very proud of this collaboration, please listen).

Anyway, here’s to hoping our new selves all get to meet and we have a great time learning about how we CHANGED A LOT sooner than later.


  1. Buy a She’s Been Trying to Staff Forever shirt. I know factually (or anecdotally) that some of you have been thinking about it, and it’s only one more until the bulk order discount is triggered, meaning it goes form making $50 for Shower of Hope to over $100! So! The next person to buy the shirt gets a bespoke haiku from me. (You may also just make a donation if you don’t want the shirt. I’ll also write you a haiku for that).

  2. Start your day listening to Prince. I did this morning and it put me in a great mood.

That’s all for now! Much love to all!