Wednesday, April 18, 2018

the rays of sun coming in through the blinds

...are lines against a back - her back - not just a back, you can touch. Not the lines, either. I suppose. It's light, electromagnetic radiation, but you touch her skin and cover up the line and then run your fingertips back and forth. For a second you could convince yourself that like the bed and the shared space and this feeling, everything is warm, that the snow that keeps falling well into April is a trick, an illusion, before you know it you'll be cursing the lack of A/C and the stifling heat of an 89 degree room. You've gotten used to it over the years but you worry if she will want to sleep here and wake up to stifling nature of it all and the feeling of sweat.

There's a hug in a store, a restaurant, any place, and each time it gets a bit easier, the self-consciousness becomes less about self and more about conscious decisions to affirm this. If people are looking they can look, really, maybe, where was I? In the store. Nobody is looking. It's 11 pm and the greeting card aisle is empty but the two of us. The hug feels safe and reassuring and like something that should last forever.

Each dress looks good. You don't understand. You have color preferences, black, blue, maybe a few others, but every one of them looks just right on her. You wonder if puke green would for a brief second and then admonish yourself for such a stupid question; of course it would. She shows you pics of herself over the years and every single one looks good. She scrolls through; different hair styles, different colors, different clothes, different poses, things change but you still find yourself enamored with each one.

Some days you wake up alone and the first thing you smell is the pillow next to yours where her hair rested the night before, until the most painful part of each night; saying goodbye at 2 am, getting up from this space, this warmth, this holding and sharing, walking out to her car, flip flops ungainly down the stairs and against the slick sidewalk. We're back to the fucking April snow again, but I'm kidding myself if I say it'd be easier to say goodbye at 65 degrees than it is at 25. It's for the best, I suppose, both parties need sleep, right? You're not convincing. Is anyone?

There's anxiety in arguments and conflict. There always is. Remember how you shake when you go to class? When you discuss politics with parents? Sometimes when you get home from work even though nothing happened that day? There's shaking. There maybe always will be. Your doctor originally told you to take the Xanax daily, years ago, the prescription still says to do so, maybe the daily anxiety would be better but resistance is a hell of a non-drug and forgetfulness is a hell of a non-remembrance. But you remind yourself that even though you can't communicate, even though you've bungled something or been shitty or whatever, you have each other. There's a walk into the treeline after one such occasion, after argument and shaking and music and the sounds of birds permeating the silence when your brain can't construct a thought. Their are paw prints on the trail and joggers and people with dogs. Suddenly, a jaunt off the beaten path, she takes a sharp turn away from the people, maybe that's the key to everything, the road less traveled; so say inspirational posters and occasionally your brain when you discuss which restaurant to eat at. The details of what conspired in the woods thereafter are messy.

There's some future to construct. There never really was. Now there is. Of road trips and coming home and cat pictures and someone having your back. Life is hard alone; it's hard together too - what isn't - but the little texts and pics and smiles and kisses mean even on the worst days there will be highlights, and I suppose that's about as much as you can ask for, not every day can be a good day, but hopefully the bad ones are a little less severe now. She reaches out to touch you on the couch while you eat the noodles she brought to you. It was a bad day. It's much better now. You still don't know what the best response is when you get the late night text saying "I love you." Han Solo is cool, but that gets old eventually, right? Say the same but amend a "too" onto the end? Why is this so hard? It's not. Her responses are great. No big deal. Sorry Finn. The next morning, it's 10 am and phantom phone vibration sensations set in. There's an excited anxiety for the first text. Or all of them. Or what to respond. Maybe you just wanted to ring out one more Star Wars reference. Stay on target.

In a car you share string cheese and eat it like corn on the cob, she laughs and you laugh and now you have a reference, an in-joke, you can always come back to it and smile. It's not just the humor, the ridiculousness, it is that shared moment, the positive upswell brought forth by the spontaneity of the hilarity, the warm expressions, her head thrown back and her hair draped down across her shoulders and the car seat. A strong feeling of contentment.

You have it a lot lately. Other feelings, too. Your boss won't communicate. Your money is still evaporating, months after you figured it couldn't get any worse. It didn't. It just never got better. There's a class in a few weeks. Remember all the times school made you want to self-harm, hide, disappear, give up? You're walking back in. Fifth time is the charm now? You can't remember how many times. Does it matter? Failure is the beaten path this time, and the side jaunt feels distant. Your closest friend is in a strung out medical emergency. Travel is probably over, the immense luxury afforded to you in tatters, like the car whose brakes are squeaking again. Remember all those friends who left? They never came back. But there's a voice inside you that says you have more support than ever, a feeling that maybe this time will be different, because something very important is different, and there's no more doing this all alone. You're used to that, the alone-ness, you have to unlearn it, but it's worth it, and you feel optimistic about things. Not all things, but some things, for the first time in a while. The early part of the year was rough.

It's the evening. There's no more light coming in through the blinds. In nervous excitement, you keep peeking through them, every few seconds, waiting for a green car to show up. Your neighbors might suspect you for drugs if they weren't dealing themselves. You know that the light doesn't have to come through the blinds and onto her back later on when she lies there. She's right next to you. The light is already in the room.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Odds

The asshole friend gets his entire education at NYU Tisch School of the Arts paid for by his mom. He knew how to use the special effects software they used in Lord of the Rings in high school, he taught himself. Just like he taught himself triple rack focuses, lighting, camera work, professional grade photography, advanced piano, editing, some screenplay writing, audio design. Whiz. Wins hundreds of dollars in high school in film festivals across the country. As a kid. Goes to college. Graduates. Gets complimented by a famous indie director when he shows him a film he made.

Ten years later his presence is gone. The blog he used to maintain has no posts for years. His IMDB page doesn't have any new films listed. First for two years. Then three. Then four. The program he made to help women on campus immediately report unsafe situations is barely downloaded by anyone, languishing at the end of the Google Play store and the Apple store. Richard Dawkins, the narrator for a game he once made, a raging sexist Islamophobe. He texts me one day tacitly admitting he's... depressed? In a bad place? Years of work for nothing. Now living in New York. I'm sure it's expensive. He could move back home, but his parents are long ago divorced and hate each other, and most of his friends are spread across the state or country.

My mom told me a long time ago if she could go back in time she would go to college and become a nurse to help people. She couldn't go to college because she grew up poor. Nobody in my family has a college degree. That includes my extended family; grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. All the same lacking piece of paper. My cousins girlfriend is in med school and wants to work in a hospital. He (cousin) works in a factory and his parents, who own two houses, let him live in their older, smaller one for free. That uncle (his father) makes really good money, well into 6 figure incomes. He hates women and black people. Most people in their family do to some extent.

The present author could, as originally envisioned, self-publish a collection of poor short stories that have now been rejected from all 40+ attempts to get them published. But to do so would require hundreds of dollars, tying a full name to an existence that family could dig up, and using a medium (Amazon publishing) that would get even more meager views than this blog does. Of course, the benefit would be the 0.0000000000001% odds that it gets lucky and catches on, but such odds are so low that, as enumerated in a bunch of pithy, unglamorous, poorly written blog posts over the last several years, perhaps life is about knowing when to give up on them, and use that $300 dollars commissioning a cover would take on covering 3 months worth of insurance so that the present author can panic a bit less about money for 90 more days. If that's not worth the price of admission, well, then who knows what is.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Time Flies; Time Doesn't Fly

A common English idiom maintains that "time flies when you are having fun." Common parlance also routinely admonishes a slow work day for being one in which time descends to a crawl because of the lack of activity. That the very awareness of time, and the lack of busyness, creates a scenario in which one's existence may seem extended, even if uncomfortably, and even if only by perception and not objectivity. Given the generally universal behavioral drive towards living (as opposed to, say, dying), one might proclaim that, then, "having fun" is indeed against one's aptitude for survival, given that it can trick your brain into perceiving time as shorter; thus, to increase one's very existence on this planet, or at least, their perception of one's existence on this planet, one must be constantly under a state of suffering of the ignominy of routine boredom, something that, to the present author's chagrin, comes easy. However, given also that said time at work or ignominious boredom can often lead one to a certain l'appel du vide, one must also surmise that, no matter how one chooses to express their time, one is either flying towards death, or in the case of the latter, perhaps falling into it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Tradeoff

The present author gave up the privilege of college education - thousands of dollars a year many are told from a young age, cruelly but realistically, are unobtainable to have - in order to enjoy the privilege of travel. Of seeing more countries in one's 20s than most see in a lifetime. Of course, the present author now can both no longer travel, nor afford a 4 year degree - much less achieve comfortably, either - so the tradeoff, in retrospect, was more of a loan against the future, in desperation, to try to create any semblance of enjoying the present. The memories of the unique and wonderful experiences are there, but they've been replaced by rust spots on an old Camry, the knowledge that a 2 year degree is meaningless (so say the stats, the data, the present author's father, friends, and more), and realization that if it was supposed to be fun while it lasted - said economic fortune and geographical privilege - and it wasn't, really, then what does that leave the rest of life, when even said luxuries are gone, replaced by the mundanity of a 100+ year old house, a breaking down car, a breaking down body, a passion (writing) whose ability to conjure up worlds and characters has disappeared, possibly forever, storytelling fun enough until everything needed to be said had been said (poorly), and what was left was staring, like we all do, at an LED screen, cursing the blank space, the social media, the newscaster, the world.

Monday, April 2, 2018

cut off at the knees

'Family obligations' as a term feels apt, insomuch as so much of what we do for family is out of a sense of obligation. One wonders where this obligation comes from; the financial stressors of raising a kid that as one gets older one recognizes and seek to pay back? Who knows. Is enjoyment something that should be a primary goal? Is knowledge? My teen self would have said the latter at all costs, but as years of self-harm and depression and anxiety took its toll, my cursory answer began to morph.

I'm a shithead. I don't really deny that, and I have made mistakes that a lot of people have and haven't made, and have committed a lot of fuckups, even ones I am sure I am not aware of. So it behooves me to question if obligations - to friends and family - are worthy endeavors. Life is not full of doing only what we enjoy, but the balance has never been, perhaps, what we most want, what Keynes and others envisioned 100s of years ago as efficiency skyrocketed and technology flourished. We commit ourselves to displeasure to try to wring pleasure from what we can, in ways that are inefficient and temporary (large TVs? Backlogs of video games to never play?).

In the last few months the present author has fraternized with people whose values are, to say the least, consistently inconsistent with said author. While in some cases these values are superficial and manageable, in other ways they represent deep-seeded values, how one sees other people, women, PoC, trans individuals, and more. In many cases, these people are family, in others, they were attempted friends. We all grapple with when we draw the line, and life is full of compromises and the like. Peter Jackson in his movie directing history with LotR and the Hobbit was not terribly kind to animals in the filming process, and the movies, much like the books, are replete with racism and sexism. But I do enjoy them I suppose, as my partner pointed out to me, so there is value to be gained.

Is there value to be gained in these other social events where discomfort reigned? But perhaps more fundamentally; is the discomfort a result of a toxic combination of social anxiety, introversion, and perfectionist standards? Many of my closest friends have, unintentionally, misgendred other close friends of mine, and while I correct them, it seems to only fix itself temporarily, before resorting back to he/she in inaccurate ways. But I accept them given our relationship and their other values. Or perhaps accept is too strong a word, because even now we talk less and I cringe at their statements at times and their pushback to things I value, denigration of PC culture and the like that escapes their lips.

So I wonder; do I like LotR because it is easy, but not the family and social fraternations because it isn't, and with effort I could not only address the poor jokes and environment but also derive value? Do I shortchange myself and others the chance to grow? Or if I don't, do I indirectly or directly harm others by condoning their behavior? The internet is littered with articles and op-eds as Thanksgiving approaches about how abandoning and at least countering the bigoted uncle is not just Good, but Required.

As I sat at a kava bar with anxiety increasing, wishing for a hit of Xanax or something, I wondered the same. As I sat with family members who joked about black people or women I wondered the same. Do I compromise on what is easy and not what is hard? Do I owe a family who loves me more leeway or time? Do I cutoff too many people out of a perfectionist demand I never even meet? Am I a hypocrite for doing so? Do we all, in the end, reveal ourselves to be nothing more than contradictory trash heaps of hate and flaws and insecurity and bigotry so much so that selectivity is flawed and overdone? Find out more next time, on a blog in an empty corner of the web.