Tuesday, December 22, 2015

On A Galaxy Far Far Away

I have written fondly of Star Wars previously in this blog. So it was that, Thursday evening, at a movie theatre whose bar and restaurant upfront were blaring cantina music, and whose crowd of people contained a veritable onslaught of people in Star Wars clothing, I found myself eagerly anticipating the movie that I had been clinging to for so long, in a fictional universe that I have loved like no other, and continue to love like no other.

There was a period, without about 30 minutes to go in the film, that I realized that I did not want it to stop. I was in love, although one has to ask if I ever fell out of love in the first place (nope). I went home with dreams of Star Wars floating in my head, of how much I'd love to create a Star Wars story one day, of Jedi and Sith and bounty hunters and the like.

I would see the movie again, on the following Sunday, an evening show where I adored the movie just like the first time, warts and all, it is not perfect but it is perfect for me, I suppose, isn't that what relationships are really, anyways?

And yet even the afterglow of a galaxy far, far away can't diminish the reality of the lead actors being younger than me, of them being born into a world where they can live out their dreams, of the reality that I will never create something that will touch someone so, that I will never do anything of significance, that most people don't and won't, until they die and are gradually forgotten; and so then why am I attached to the idea of significance, when a mere 50 years is all I have left, and death is a much longer state? We all are, I suppose, headstones aren't for the dead but the living, but it's true that this living person will never create a galaxy far, far away, much less one near.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Parental Compliments

A good parent, it is said, should encourage and foster in their children, the pursuit of their dreams and aspirations. Given, however, that dreams and aspirations almost never come true, one wonders why this standard is established as such, and why parents aren't expected to instead support the validity of dead-end, pointless jobs and careers that the vast majority of their children will inhabit. To wit, the present author's parents continue to assert that said author has innumerable talent in certain areas. Given that this supposed talent has not; A) manifested itself, or B) resulted in any monetary or critical affirmation, it is easy to say, then, that said parents are enumerating impossibilities as potential realties. While some may take this and use it to further their delusions of grandeur, most will take it as a sign of failure, when in reality, the expectations were never realistic to begin with.

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Body and I

My body and I don't get along. I will swallow the pills at 8pm, every night. By 10pm, the pills will be kicking in, and my body will be telling me it is time for bed. On nights where I forget my pills, my body will tell me no such thing, and I will lie awake past 2am, 3am, 4am, mind racing and brain hyperactive.

My body and I don't get along. One set of pills tells me I am always hungry, causes a sharp increase in weight gain and chance of diabetes, the same set of pills that cause the fatigue and will me into bed will me towards snacking when I am not sleeping.

My body and I don't get along. My wrists look like they could snap but the weight gain is getting to me and the skinny jeans don't require quite as tight a belt as they used to, the pants fit a little more snug.

My body and I don't get along, the nightmares are common and so are the night sweats, and my pajamas are sometimes done after one use, tossed into the laundry pile because to sweat through them again would be gross.

My body and I don't get along, never had a full hairline up front, it's not receding, it just never filled in, when it's cut short you can see how high it is, it makes bangs nearly impossible.

My body and I don't get along, the yo-yo master chose me to knock the chip from my ear in 4th grade with his yo-yo because I had "big, floppier ears."

My body and I don't get along, sore back from 9 hours a day at work sitting at a desk, jaw popping and snapping and locking from a condition my mother passed along, spine curved and causing the left side of my chest to protrude past the right side, I am unsymmetrical.

My body and I don't get along, need 60+ ounces of water a day just to prevent cramps, permanently thirsty and dry mouthed from drugs that rendered my lips and mouth parched in perpetuity.

My body and I don't get along, body forever seized in akathisia from the sudden quitting of one pill, I was fainting and they feared seizures, wore a monitor around for a day because of it.

My body and I don't get along, because through it all, I hate it, and I suppose it hates me, and I will forever cover it with clothing, even when swimming, or summer, I will forever hide it, and neither of us will get along.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


"I support global warming," he says, smiling, chuckling to himself, apropos the general positive reaction in such a statement from the table, people tired of snow, of cold, of endless gray. But knowing - knowing indeed, the results of the joke - of catastrophic global warming, of droughts, and storms, and fires, and blizzards, and lost lives and lost money, the joke loses its appeal, a light-hearted reference that underlies the relative disconnect between public knowledge and scientific knowledge, the relative public illiteracy on the greatest challenge facing human kind. Nobody would laugh at a bumper sticker that read "I Support Superstorm Sandy" or "I Support California Droughts," but the information imparted is the same, and feigning ignorance is not a feign worth indulging when much of the public will plead it.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Killer Mike was Wrong

He said "be the best you you can be. And the best you is probably about average." It is obvious, then, that Killer Mike was not speaking to the present author, whose "best you" is decidedly awful.

Monday, November 30, 2015


Memories can be bittersweet or they can be memories of something bittersweet like when your dad told you the next "home run" meant you'd go inside and on the very first pitch you launched one out of the yard and over the street and into the neighbor's yard across the way, your farthest ever home run and a crowning achievement but already then it meant time to go inside.

Memories are now all you have of the people in the hostel in Chicago and drunkenly talking to them and making connections and laughing, laughing, laughing and sharing stories and talking about life and other things, and the vodka bottle still lingers like the sunrise you saw that morning as you crawled into bed only to wake up a few hours later.

Memories can be sad and frustrating like the time you were hit or choked or yanked or made fun of. Memories of school and friends who weren't really friends but who you hung out with any way because it's all you knew and had.

Memories can be of missed opportunities like the time in Austin, Texas when the girl said she liked you and took your glasses and walked inside the bar and proclaimed she was "way too fucked up" and you could have followed her and her friends and who knows what could have happened but you were embarrassed and said you had work the next day and that was true but now you wonder.

Memories can stir up feelings of self-worth and possibilities but also melancholy and feelings of youth and time lost and things that will never happen again and they'll haunt you forever until you're old and memories are all that you have but time blurs them together.

Memories are what you should try to make but perpetually avoid because living in the past does no good and how can you make memories unless you're living in the present and preparing for the future but sometimes it becomes too much and the past swallows you whole anyways and now the memories lead to tears and that's ok because at least then you know that something real and beautiful happened.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Childhood is a series of events in which one is told that they can't have what they want by a parental figure.

It is then apt training for adulthood, in which one is told they can't have what they want by society.

Time, Who Has It?

It's a simple matter of arithmetic, really. If one, as a statistically normal adult, were to work the statistical average of 40-45 hours a week, and sleep the statistical average of 7 hours a day, one finds that an average week already has 90 of its 168 hours taken up. This leaves less than half of the week in which one can pursue leisure activities, but even that is a bit of a red herring, because there is housework to do, driving, grocery shopping, and much more. In reality, only about 40 hours of a standard week is one in which a statistically normal adult can pursue enjoyment. This seems rather stunted, and I often wonder, if given the choice, would humanity be willing to give up 50 years of technology and production for, in turn, 20 more hours a week of leisure time? When we live in a post-scarcity economy, have terraformed planets, and conquered aging, what will the balance look like, then? I suppose we will not know, alas, burdened by still living at a time when the mode of production has not diminished. So we work away, tirelessly, as we have for decades, knowing that the future will have it so much better.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

50 Shades of Grey

It is ever present. The grey sheet that washes over the sky and fails to reason or dislodge or co-operate. It will cover the skies and prevent sun, stars, or moon from whisking you away. From it will come condensation, frozen, cold, layer upon layer of it. Inside the claustrophobic walls of your house is where you will be, shielded from the grey blight, huddled with blankets for warmth. The breeze will no longer be cool and refreshing but instead will be harsh and uninviting. Waking up in the pitch black of early morning to remove the hundreds and thousands of pounds of snow from driveway and sidewalk alike. Having to leave for work earlier. And still doused in the grey, grey, grey, everywhere, sky to ground, trees leafless, snow a polluted mess of mud and grime from cars caked with salt. The greyness could be permanent, for all you know, stretching on beyond the horizon as far as the eye can see. Only time will relinquish the hold it has. Only time.

Friday, November 13, 2015


What began as breathlessly escaping
Effervescent, trembling, shaking,
Goosebumps arisen to meet the touch
Of quietly huddled, mumbled "hush-"
But clumsy is as so it may,
To be a youth in throws of day,
And night whose quiet, cold embrace
Did cause a heart to shake and race,
But as with all that flowers soon
There left an awkward, silent room
And timid closeness shared and hovered
From sweat beneath the fitted covers,
Arise, at last, to stumble gaily
Out amidst the hallways, stately,
Of flesh consumed and flesh remade,
In the dying sun of bloom filled May.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sooner Rather Than Later

It occurs to the present author that a significant part of one's childhood is spent listening to those whose dreams haven't come true tell you not to give up on your dreams. In many case, these very instructors and teachers and parents and adults have given up on their dreams, for they have realized the impossibility of accomplishing them. Given that the realization of futility is an all together depressing and melancholic affair, it stands to reason that the sooner we can attribute this event to children, the sooner we can get the hardship it creates out of the day. With that in mind, it is perhaps best that we never tell kids to pursue their dreams, or to dream big, for not only are we lying to them, we are creating a scenario in which the teens and 20s - ages where depression is most common - are that much more difficult and hopeless to navigate. This author suggests that, from an early age, and as early as one can conceptualize the idea, we should inform children that their dreams will not come true, but instead they will live a life of repetitive mediocrity as part of a larger system of values and production that reduces their importance to the world to a simple dollar value. Once the children have overcome the malaise that this brings about, they are much more freer to accept mediocrity and not be weighed down by the impossibility of expecting greatness.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Futility of Attempting

It's been said that one must at least try to accomplish their dreams and goals, for if one does not even attempt to achieve them, then how can one complain about not accomplishing them? But given the futility of results that come about when one pursues their dreams, and the massive energy one must expel in order to, ultimately, come up short, one has to wonder if the utilitarian response is simply to never attempt to achieve one's dreams, and instead attempt some sort of apathetic mediocrity. Not only does this preserve energy that could be used in the pursuit of leisure time, it also prevents one from pouring their heart and soul into a fruitless pursuit. That this very author of this very blog is pouring copious amounts of time into a novel goes against this very post. That said novel will never be published, read, or edited by anyone else, however, supports the fundamental thesis of the futility of attempting to pursue one's dreams.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


It's not hard to think - if one were predisposed to do so - that the world at this time of year - this time of year involving several holidays dedicated to the act of both A) eating junk food and B) spending money on consumer goods - is perversely against you. That for over two whole months, candy will be left out in dishes, adding calories to a daily count, tryptophan will be imbibed amidst endless carbs and saturated fat, and hard earned cash will be spent on things that, as already established by this hereto blog, do little to assuage the human condition of suffering. And yet, to go against these very events, holidays, gatherings, and their concurrent proliferation of consumer spending, is to be labeled an outcast, a cynic, a loner, or even worse. To wit, this seems to suggest that a world that goes against you; frothing with calories and unhealthy consumption, both literally and metaphorically, is the preferred order that has been established by the multitude of collectivism that we call society. That this renders these times appreciably destitute is merely another facet of the human condition.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Clothe Me

Given that the present author grew up in a household in which the clothing of said author was pre-ordained by one parental unit, and that this meant that the author could never truly acquire and wear clothes that the author truly wanted, it goes without saying that, given independence, the author found an entirely new world opened up to them in terms of purchasing, and wearing, selected clothing. And while the job of the present author requires button down shirt, business khakis, and belts, and not, say, skinny jeans, or trendy t-shirts, the limited freedom that the weekend offers is something that should be taken full advantage of. Given, however, that the present author lives with his sister, and does not want to seem extreme in choices of clothing and jewelry, the end result of clothing choices is such that the author dresses still rather conservatively, not too unlike he did as a kid.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mind Killer

It has been said, by an author whose works are rather famous and prolific in number of sales, that fear is the mind-killer. That, while undoubtedly true, also seems to suggest that fear is really the only mind-killer, when in reality, there are multiple mind-killers of varying degrees of efficacy and chronology. Boredom, for instance, is a mind-killer. Stress is a mind-killer. Anxiety is a mind-killer. And this doesn't even get into the less metaphysical realm; smoking, for instance, is a mind-killer.

What this is to suggest, ultimately, is that the world is full of things that can damage one's thought process, ability to reason, and feelings of comfort. That we have so adamantly worked to alleviate these problems over time, with little to no success, explains much about people's desire for means of escapism.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Making Money Matter

Dear reader, it has come to the present author's attention, not for the first time, that this author's dream of living in a large city whose metropolis engages and changes on a second-to-second basis, is a relative impossibility given the current author's resources. Lacking any sort of college degree, a resume that contains more than fast food and administrative experience, and any marketable skills, the present author can simply not afford the starting, bare minimum rents of 700-800 that occupy cities like Miami, New Orleans, and Chicago. Given that the present author also expects that new employment will come with a pay cut, these numbers become even harder to play with. To wit, there still remains some hope that perhaps several people could be wrangled into splitting some 3 bedroom apparatus in which the rent is 1200-1400 a year, allowing it to be split in thirds and made more manageable, but that also creates an incredibly precarious situation if one or both other residents were to move out. It also, even when divided in thirds, represents a significant rise in housing costs from where the present author is now.

That the dream of living in a big city, much like the dream of being a writer, is entirely a false hope and impossibility, is not lost on the present author. That this is all together depressing seems merely a fact of life.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


As a kid, the only time you're told to be quiet is when you're in the presence of others, being rude, yammering on, but your curiosity and opinions are cute or a good sign of intellectual adventuring.

Growing up isn't any harder than being young, but there are facets of every stage of life that are challenging.

Perhaps the hardest thing about growing up is learning your voice, for the most part, doesn't matter. You can shout into the void, into the web, onto paper, into a co-worker's ear, but for the most part, the words and streams of consciousness will live and die amidst a very small number of people, and most times, it will live and die only amongst yourself. Your voice, your story, may go untold. A tragedy, if such a thing could be called as much, for the over 7 billion people on this planet are unique like a fingerprint, each with their own upbringing and values and knowledge and background.

You may call it cynical but I like to think of it as being realistic. My voice, for instance, confined to anonymous online accounts and family, a history of failed attempts of short stories and a god-forsaken blog with perhaps no regular visitors. I know that I really have nothing valuable to add to the void, nothing painstakingly original and human or touching or challenging, standing on the shoulders of those before and yet still failing to stand taller than them.

But I'll continue to throw my voice into the void, for what other choice is there? At least, then, I can say I tried, and here one day will lie my body, and I will have been hopelessly alone, but a stubborn asshole all the same. Insignificant, another mind lost to time and space, barreling towards the heat death of the universe, all from the nothingness of death.

Monday, October 19, 2015

On Decline

It occurs to the present author, as post activity and view activity declines, and brainstorming has resulted in no new ideas for this hereto blog, that, like all endeavors undertaken by both the present author and most humans, this too shall end in failure. That a modest attempt at regular internet content, in the form of vapid and self-aggrandizing posts, managed to last a half a year, to this point in time, can be seen as a small pyrrhic victory against the unending onslaught of procrastination, laziness, and writer's block.

If any of the non-existent readers of this blog have enjoyed the self-deprecation, horrible use of multiple textual voices, and totally unrelatable posts, then I would like to propose that you examine your health and value systems.

This is not to say that this blog is closing - far from it - and the present author would like to continue semi-regularly to it, but as the months have gone on, it becomes clearer and clearer that regular content is harder and harder to come by. Perhaps some spark of creativity lies just beyond reach, waiting to ignite a storm of posts.

Or perhaps that's just the electromagnetic shock from the car door on the way in to work.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


It occurs to the present author that, National Novel Writing Month has been attempted by said author on three separate occasions, and yet, has only been successfully culminated on one of those occasions. That said occasion occurred back in 2007, during a period of incredible depression and social anxiety, and boredom from college, is a point not lost. The two other attempts, occurring in both 2008 and 2011, started off promisingly enough; the present author accrued about 15,000 words in a few days, but around that point, both times, hit a wall. Given that said author now has a multi-page outline of the novel that the author wishes to embark on, as well as several scenes floating around inside the author's head, it is hoped that the most recent event, here in the year 2015, will be more of a success. Given the distinct challenge that it is to actually write a 50,000 word novel (which is, it might be added, an extremely short novel), this is unlikely.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Of Colours and Contours

Last few days of window down, hair blowing, music playing, darkness entreats earlier upon your worldview, soon it'll be bundle up and suffer the dry chill, no more breeze in you hair or wind in your face, except to remind you of its putrid existence, or perhaps yours.

A few nights of nightmares, disturbing ends, humans crushed into a pulp on the assembly line, blood and guts sprayed every which way.

You told your sister everything that made you sad one day, as you sat there with her, spilling everything out, words barely escaping a sparse tongue, she listened attentively. Then you woke up, the dream was over, and everything you said was true but nobody heard it except your subconscious.

The lawn hasn't been mowed in a month, you're waiting for the mean neighbors to complain to the township, perhaps they won't, you like the way the grass waves at you in the breeze, as if saying goodbye, for it will soon be covered with snow.

Leaves are starting to change colours, removing green from the contours of the land, dotting the eye line with reds and yellows and oranges, not unlike the sunsets that will soon disappear for months on end beneath the gray skies of winter, clouds and clouds and endless clouds. Your home state has the 2nd highest incidence of seasonal affective disorder.

If it's true that only the good die young, doesn't that explain why you are here?

The deck needs replacing, it's falling apart. The car needs replacing, it's falling apart. The phone needs replacing, it's falling apart. The sidewalk needs replacing, it's falling apart. The plant needs replacing, it's falling apart. Your life needs replacing, it's falling apart.

Reach out to different people once a week, never hear back, ask someone how they're doing, never hear back, relegate yourself to your room, talk to yourself instead.

In the morning darkness you try to keep lighting to a bare minimum, wouldn't want to convince yourself that you're supposed to be awake, the exhaust fan in the bathroom screams at you as you take your shower, there is dust clumped in it, a stink bug - they're everywhere - is lying dead on the window sill, you've had the house sprayed twice for them to no avail, invasive species are a pest, quite literally in this case.

It's another Monday and you'll likely have thousands more.

Friday, October 9, 2015

What Promise Once Held

It occurs to the present author, the present author being one who is closer to the age of 30 than the age of 20, a both thoroughly distressing and utterly contemptible reality, one might add, that one finds that the amount of potential expected from one declines as one grows older. It is to be said that, one day, while the present author was still in elementary school, a man who the present author new and was a business partner of the author's father, boldly exclaimed that said present author, i.e., me, has "the kind of brain that ends up at Harvard or MIT." That the present author's brain ended up at neither, or, really, any higher institution of learning, rendered the praise ultimately unfulfilled. Such praise, however, is a facet of childhood; one can be an athlete, or go to a good college, etc., etc. But as the years coast by into middle age, one finds that such expectations are gradually lowered, and much celebration is to be had for the simple act of getting out of bed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Of Money and Writing

The present author - one who is, as of this current date, unpublished (unless you count this blog) - has made several attempts over the years at getting short stories and flash fiction published in literary journals or contests, to largely (read as: entirely) failed results. However, in doing so, the present author has a growing collection of short stories sitting in one Google Drive. It came to the attention of the present author that, perhaps, after a sizeable collection of stories is completed, they could be grouped together as a sort of collected work, and self-published on the hulking behemoth that is Amazon.

One thing that all who make art are told, repeatedly, is that you should never do your work for free. However, given that the present author is under no life situation in which money could become scarce, or food and shelter could be hard to come by, the present author has concluded that, ultimately, any self-published collection will be instituted at the very low price of "free." This is because, given that the amount of money one could expect to make from charging for what would appear to be, to the consumer, a totally unheard of and random collection of stories from a nobody, is just a few dollars, and given that free self-publications on Amazon are downloaded approximately 400% more than paid ones, the present author has made a value based judgment that getting out there is more important than a few dollars. The extremely fortuitous life situation for the present author in which money is a factor but not a factor of survival also plays a large role.

To wit; the present author has made every attempt to avoid monetization of any work - be it videos, blogs, or writings, - in a vain attempt to make some sort of generalized statement about how money corrupts art. At the same time, the present author would love to be able to make a living solely on writing, but alas, given that doing so is, quite literally, statistically, more difficult than being an NBA player, such delusions will remain as such. We are left with, then, a piddling attempt at notoriety, by way of a soon to be self-published collection of mediocre, at very, very best (and likely much worse) short stories, that will be cast into the void of the millions of works on Amazon, forever lost to the seemingly infinitely expanding content taking place on the web.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Remember When You Fell In Love?

You were so, so young then, sister not even born yet, dad supporting you off-and-on with his arms, as you floated on your back in the coolness of the chlorinated water, entire pool empty in the morning, he would teach you how to float, how to swim, before you knew it you'd be in the pool, still so young, without any flotation device, you'd never learn how to use a lifejacket because you'd never need one.

In class swimming lessons in elementary school you knew it all already, knew the frontstroke, the breaststroke, the backstroke, could open your eyes underwater without goggles if need be, could hold your breath longer than just about anyone, the water was just an extension of the ground to you, another perfectly natural habitat.

Over years and years you'd swim in pools at the place your parents kept in the beach town, and in the lake itself, never worried about rip-tides or waves, at times dashing out into them where they were as high as eight feet, and red flag warnings were in effect, but it did not matter, because you could swim with the best of them, and there was nothing the water could do to triumph over you. In the pool, you'd be challenged by kids who were on swim teams and took private lessons, and you never lost, not once, they could have sworn you had to be on a team in school. You could swim from one end to the pool and back, and then again from one end and back, all in one breath, head down, arms sliding under the surface, legs carefully churning but never splashing.

You can remember when you started to drift away from the water, tired of being made fun of when shirtless, tired of a curved spine rendering your chest lopsided, tired of kids and their meanness, self-conscious now like you'd never been. In high school, Dan would ask you to join the swim team, but you would avoid him and avoid committing, sure you were that you were not good enough to be a swimmer, sure that you would be made fun of, sure you didn't want the tight fitting suit over your skinny body. And as the years went on, you stopped, no longer swimming over your high school years, then college, then 20s, the pool and the lake becoming distant memories, the freeness of floating and gliding and the comfort of the cool water lost to time.

Then, one day, wearing a shirt and swim trunks, you decide to walk into a pool, you're far away from home, and maybe people will wonder why you are wearing a top, but let them wonder. Immediately, frontstroke laps, and it's like riding a bike, you're so comfortable, so smooth, so fast, and while you can't hold your breath like you used to, you remember to only tilt your head one direction, and your eyes still don't sting form the water, and you know exactly how fast you are going. And then there's the other strokes, and they all come back, and then the freedom of the water and the feelings of it washing over you, of your hair matted down, of your body feeling weightless, of the propulsion and movement, and you're in love again, and you're home, for hours amidst the water, back and forth, side to side, and you know that this is where you always belonged, and it's like an old friend has come back into your life.

But you wasted it, and now it's already Fall, and all the pools are closed, and the beach is closed, and you have to wait until next year to feel the water again, and maybe then you'll learn to appreciate again what you once lost.

Monday, September 28, 2015


As the gradual dimming of the moon under the influence of an eclipse took place last night, clouds moved in. By 10:50, just a couple minutes after the eclipse's peak, they covered the moon, and would remain that way well past the point in which the moon would return to 'normal.'

The eclipse, however, was interesting. In driveways throughout the town, groups of people stood staring at the lunar occurrence, perhaps rekindling some romanticism or astronomical indulgence, or just enjoying a warm night in September with a chance to see something unique. I watched from my bedroom, nighttime music washing over my ears, as the dimming of the moon slowly inched onwards, second after second, minute after minute, a temporary occurrence that would soon be relegated to a distant memory, one that would grow fainter and fainter as time passed, not unlike the moon. As with all things, this moment in time will be lost, the event will be lost, just another small moment in a life full of moments of impermanence and temporary reprieve.

And then the clouds moved in, covering it all, rendering the end meaningless, impossible to see. People went back inside, and I crawled in under the covers. A fitting metaphor, perhaps - such was the eclipse - a temporary thing that would soon be washed over and rendered non-existent in all but name, the end winked out of existence by the doldrums of a now cloudy night. I laid awake for hours, listening to the same songs over and over, knowing that it would be the last supermoon eclipse I would see, knowing that 2033 was outside my life expectancy, knowing that the small and rather unique but largely unintimidating event was just another disappointing reminder of what could have been.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Sports Car Named Desire

Forgive me, dear reader, for a self-indulgent post - and an honest one; perhaps too much so - but still, self-indulgent and not contractually obligated in any way (forgive me, also, for throwing every single form of sentence punctuation at you all in one go). I have spoken, on a few different- or perhaps couple - occasions, of the Four Noble Truths; in somewhat laymen's terms. I have most often doted upon this because of the notion that life is suffering, and that suffering is driven by immaterial desires of, as is the cast of most of humanity, temporary and unimportant goods and wants. I don't think that all desires are manifestly bad, but I would go so far as to argue that they can easily become a sort of perpetual existential calamity; a way to judge ourselves not against real results, but against perceived things we desire and often fall short of. Or, as Killer Mike so eloquently put "Be the best you. And the best you is probably just about average." He also dispensed the advice to purchase, for the purposes of consumption, better beer, suffice to say his advice is likely correct an inordinately high amount of times. To desire better beer from here on out will be established as a perfectly legitimate desire.

It seems, of course, non-controversial to maintain that some desires are both good and natural, which I am suggesting from here on out. To desire, to, say, be loved, to have enough to eat, to have shelter, to understand candy corn, the aforementioned better beer, none of these are particular egregious desires. Me thinking it'd be fun to have a convertible, someday, probably is.

Anyways, as you have likely stumbled along with me in this writing and have reached the point in which you go "alas, pedantic authorial creator of this blog, what is the point of this hereto post?" I believe it necessary that I further, if briefly, elucidate the greater point I will attempt to make by way of a few notable, if dull and non-concerning to the reader, life experiences. We now tread very personal ground, here, and I offer the most prolific apology that I can from my station at the end of an LED light and a tactile keyboard. At least, I would like to think I need to offer one.

It was 5th grade, the year was 1999, and I had walked about a quarter of a mile to the nearby park, to sit under a tree and cry for the evening, by myself. You might ask "why is a 10 year old crying by himself under a tree during the evening?" I might be inclined to say "because the 10 year old is a little *****" but I'd like to refrain from sexist gendered slurs and too much self-deprecation. Instead, I will dare to suggest that I was the victim of some nasty private school white boy bullying, such as that people frequently made fun of the following;

1) My inability to pronounce "th" as in "three" or "thinking"
2) My perceived intelligence
3) My quietness

It would be at the end of the school year, between 5th and 6th grade, that I could add "the size of my nipples" to that list, but that is oddly specific and no, I don't forgive the girl who relentlessly made fun of me for it, and yes, I hated going swimming if she was around, and fuck you, you know who you are. Although you will never read this.

Well, anyways, that got rather nasty and crude quickly, so let's reverse gear a bit. I don't suspect that the bullying I received was any worse than what hundreds of thousands of children go through every day. The bullying did not turn physical until high school, when punches and attempts to pull me down to the ground by way of my backpack got added to the list, but it was a culture shock to go from a school through 4th grade whose bullying was aggressively stamped out and rather minute in nature, all things considered, to one where the bullying gauntlet was almost seen as a right of passage. Indeed, it was these friends I made in this school and who continued to the same high school as me that would maintain their verbal and physical abuse, not the "other" high schoolers who I was warned would "walk down the halls and randomly punch people." While my high school was a violent one, to the point of several statistical deviations higher than the mean, I myself only ever felt threatened by my "friends."

To get back to an earlier point, I spent many nights in 5th grade crying in bed, to the point that on one occasion, my sister went and got my mom because she had heard me crying for a long time. I sort of vaguely expressed a general meanness from my peers, but never really specified who or what, and my parents would be stonewalled by me throughout my life due to my complete and utter inability to open up to people. I was not raised to wear my emotions on my sleeve, and damnit if I wasn't going to go down without doing so.

I had those teary nights, general feelings of sadness, and anxiety about school rather frequently during the years of 5th-8th grade, but it wasn't until high school, when, as previously mentioned, the bullying added a physical element, my grades began to suffer, and my teachers told my parents that I was a loner, that thoughts of suicide entered into the equation. I had known what living with general sadness was, now I was learning to live with feelings of self-destruction. Anything less than a 4.0 was failure. Anything less than going to college was failure. Anything I wore was ugly and would get me made from of. Any way I wore my hair was ugly. And on and on. I was never knifed, stolen from, suspended, nor did I suffer from fear of a roof over my head or food on my table, but my weak spine and inability to communicate just made it all too much. That it would become even worse in college, staring down the barrel of student debt, a violent, criminal roommate, and social anxiety so bad that I never wanted to be seen in public or even be around people, is perhaps funny in retrospect. At the time, I viewed college as the potential for a fresh start.

Of course, as usual, the feelings were never shared, but by my senior year of high school, I was off-and-on self-harming and spending entire days after school or work in bed reading up on suicide and painless ways to end one's life, supplementing my depression with healthy doses of cynicism and misanthropy. The latter two of which, I am glad to say, have long been abandoned. The former of the three which I still practice to this day.

The numbers, of course, are disquieting to myself. The weeks of feeling sad started in 5th grade, at age ten, and the thoughts of suicide started at age 14, in grade 9. That I am now 26 means I have spent 61.5% of my life fighting off endless crying fits, sadness, melancholy, and anxiety, and 46.1% fighting off my own self-destruction. To say that it is wearying would be an understatement.

Alas, it becomes a sort of calculable certainty, then, that something about me is so inherently broken, so inherently unfixable, that I will always be sad. Over the years, many things have changed, from my job, to my school, to my friends, to my hobbies, and yet the feelings have remained relatively steady, with only temporary breaks or lulls, but the firm knowledge, deep down, that the bad times will always return.

It also becomes familiar. It is hard to remember times of happiness, of weeks or months where I'd wake up, and, while not necessarily jump out of bed, feel alright about myself and the day ahead of me, as opposed to wondering if it'd be easier to step in front of a train or a semi-truck. The malaise has lasted for so long that it is, in many ways, all that I know. And tens of thousands of dollars in drugs and therapy and hospitalization has done little to stem the tide, perhaps only so much as doing enough to prevent it from being as bad as it possibly could be.

So I come back to the Four Noble Truths. That we derive our suffering from desire. Perhaps I work too hard at trying to achieve something that I will never achieve. Perhaps the state of my existence is such that I will forever be foiled by the acquisition of just one thing I would really most like in the world. And that my desiring of it only makes things worse. That I need to let go of the desire of this thing, that I need to accept it will never happen, and that I must deal with the hand I have been dealt. But fuck, if it isn't hard to lie down at night and avoid thinking "why can't I have it?" well, I don't know what is. All I desire, right now, is happiness.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

It's a Lazy Way to Say That You've Been Burned

"Cynicism isn't wisdom" croons Nana Grizol amidst a song about breakups and sunsets and reflection, and perhaps there's a point at which cynicism renders a life materially worse, but as a defense mechanism, it can be justified or understood, even sympathized with easily. To me, cynicism was a belief system, as a late teen - from about age 18-20 - I was full of the idea that everyone sucked, including myself, the world sucked, and, perhaps not-coincidentally, was a rabid libertarian bordering on minarchism.

But my cynicism was misplaced. I have never been cheated on, the victim of a horrible crime - with perhaps the most flagrant abuse of my body simply being a male staff member at a mental hospital spying on me as I showered, but as uncomfortable as it is there's part of me that realizes that he may be the first and last person to like my body. I've never been mugged or robbed or even been in a car crash as a driver. You see, I now, to this day, believe that people are mostly alright (excepting myself, of course), and just trying to get by and do their thing. My cynicism has been replaced and disputed time and time again by the lack of "shit happens," in my life. But I've known and met people, who have connections, close connections, to things like suicide, rape, assault, drunk driving, and if a world has ripped away a life or treated one cruelly multiple times, then cynicism is a defense mechanism, and one that can be understood. So, sorry, Nana Grizol, maybe for a white middle class dude cynicism isn't wisdom, but for some, it's not a lazy way to say that you've been burned, it's a way to say that some things exist outside our world, and some of them are truly awful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Miami Is

Miami is image oriented, the billboards, they're littered with skin even more than average towns, men walk in swimsuits that fit tight over every contour, in the hostel room, a woman stands conversing in Turkish with a man, she is wearing a thong bikini and nothing else, she bends over to pick up a dropped brochure. Along the beach people yell across the street and sidewalks, vanity is the affair here, bring attention to yourself over the heat and humidity of 100+ degrees Fahrenheit. The hotels chauffeur wealthy older white folks, and their spoiled white kids, all with fake tans and tank tops and fake ray bans, while the Spanish language twists through the air and its pervasiveness is greater than that even of English. Miami is sticky and vain and loud, it is diverse from those who speak Spanish but the anti-blackness is still there. Miami has coffee that should be considered as good, if not better than Seattle, from Cuba or Colombia and rich and strong and not bitter at all. Miami is America, truly, the good old tradition of slow and lacking public transportation rendering the use of cars and taxis and Uber vital. Little Havana's real restaurants are little known and the tourist ones have English language staff. Cuba Libres go down easily, order them anywhere here and they'll be better than back home. Miami is where people go to relax but deal with having to look pretty to do so, for that is Miami, more than New Orleans, more than Austin, look good in a swimsuit, conventionally, or die trying. Miami is the only airport with a Victoria's Secret right there in the terminal, as though travelers need the lingerie they need to wear in Miami, because if you thought sex sells wherever you are from, in Miami is oozes from every street corner and commercial, like the radio that goes back-to-back-to-back with laser hair removal and plastic surgery and boob jobs. Even Wynwood, perhaps Miami's most decorated non-ethnic neighborhood, is all visual, blocks and blocks of street art with political messages interspersed with the human form, always lacking clothing, always revealing, colours and bold lines and sharp contours and skinny people and large bosoms, and then you know Miami is more self-centered than even New York, or Boston, or Chicago; and that like New Orleans, it's all about the party, but unlike New Orleans, here they will judge you for your transgressions, your taste, your attire. Miami is loud and judgemental. Miami is looks. Miami is the TV, relentlessly turned to a volume of eleven, blasting its message nonstop, allowing nobody to avoid.

Learning Alone

Not that act of learning, alone, but learning alone. Learning aloneness. It's an appreciably challenging skill, one that age neither coaxes nor stunts. We're told form an early age to eat with others, see movies with others, walk with others, live with others, our entire education through college is in class rooms and cafeterias with others, but then when you have to do something alone, there is no learning, just the discomfort. Eat at a packed restaurant, table for one, the hostess asks you twice, have to confirm that someone, anyone, would eat at a restaurant by themselves, there are no tables with just one chair. The sharing economy makes some thing easier alone, you can get from place to place alone easier, and thanks to technology you can use an elongated rod to make it look like someone is holding the camera that is taking your picture, you don't want all of your pictures on social media to show you're alone, you have friends you do things with, you eat with, you walk with, you're not truly alone, nobody is, and pity the poor soul who is.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jealousy is Hardly Flattering

I've mentioned, previously, a sort of short-handed version of the four noble truths. To paraphrase them crudely but in a way that retains the point; longing and desire for temporary satisfaction (such as that provided by 'stuff,' or anything else we long for) and aversion to temporary dissatisfactions, keeps us in the cycle of rebirth. I'm not a believer in rebirth, but I know a fundamental truth when I see one, and that is that our longing for, our desire for, things that are temporary, or rather meaningless, or unattainable, becomes a very dangerous manifestation and source of angst, or jealousy, or even madness, in worst case scenarios.

Alas, social media can make this an all too easy to fall into trap. When I see two people who I find interesting, whose works I find enjoyable, discussing with each other, on, say, Twitter, I wish I was involved, that I could pick their brains, that I could be apparent and recognized as part of the club, much like we wish we were the cool kids in school, or I wish I was not eating lunch in the cafeteria alone, such as I did.

But even the physical world, or that outside the internet, has its traps. When I see a group of people talking and laughing together at a restaurant, I wish I could be a part of it, such is my absence from social gatherings so complete and transfixed, that remembering the occasions when I did embark on such events requires going back years or even more than a decade in my life.

Death, of course, is the easy route, and if one does not believe in rebirth, then it matters little that nobody will be at your funeral, that nobody will care about your passing, because by then, you will be dead, and disposed of all truncated communal and affirmative pursuits. I suppose, in the scheme of the vastness of the universe, the miniscule timeframe of existence is meaningless even if one were to cure cancer.

That this post has little point, does nothing towards absolving feelings of displeasure, of longing, or jealousy, is worth considering. These words, like trillions and trillions of others, echo into the void, rendered meaningless and repetitive by smarter minds who already have shared them.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Three Things People Are

It has come to the attention of the present author that September is now upon us. What this means is many things to many people, but what it means to the author is that, among other things, over 18 months have been spent on two online dating sites, and a year has been spent on Tinder. The results of these experiments so far, are null; that is, no new friends, dates, or anything in between, but the experiment has still been an educational one. It has come to the present author's attention, that, wading through people's profiles, messages, texts, and everything else people spill onto these sites, a lot of people are, fundamentally, terribly lonely. Of course, this is a supremely pressing health concern, given that those who have no social connections and live alone suffer increased mortality at a rate comparable to obesity or substance abuse, but fundamentally, it is also somewhat of a revelation. To wit, the present author and a close friend have deduced a theory; that is, that the vast majority of people fulfill two or more of the following criteria during their day-to-day existence:

1) They are lonely
2) They are bored
3) They are horny

This seems an immature deduction on the face of it, to suggest that people are simply bored, or looking for love or lust, but given job dissatisfaction rates, rates of feeling lonely, and rates of sexual dissatisfaction, and, in the author's personal experience of the readiness of people on dating sites to spill out medical conditions, sexual proclivity, and wants and desires to people they barely know, it is probably a fairly accurate one. It is no revelation that people want to be loved. Some people want to be fucked. Some people want more out of life. What is perhaps, a revelation, is how many people, cross-gender, cross-ethnicity, cross-class, cross-anything, really, appear to be falling short of these needs and desires. Spend a year or two on a dating site occasionally swapping messages and texts, and you'll see how quickly some people, many people, just jump headfirst, share everything, and desperately reach out for contact, either purely platonically or more intimately. It's a sad revelation, ultimately, that so many people just want to feel desired, but we're too busy desiring stuff to desire each other.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On The Possibility of a Date/Hangout

I hesitate to call anything a date, especially under the auspices of what this Sunday, presumably, will entail; a day out at the beach. To suggest a date is to suggest something more, and I view things through the lens of self-deprecating assumptions. Perhaps, it should be called hanging out. And nothing more. To suggest a date is to suggest something I've never done before, while hanging out, even though I am years detached from last doing so, has a loose familiarity with my existence.

To clarify; this upcoming Sunday is one in which I am to spend time with a girl on the beach. Why the beach? Well, dear reader, your question is an astute one, and one that I myself curse. After all, while I am a rather capable swimmer, I have not gone swimming in well over a decade, on account of not wanting to ever be shirtless in the presence of others. Indeed, just wearing shorts is something I have not done for years, and would like to continue as such, but alas, here I am, walking, I suppose, head-on into a locale of minimalist clothing. I suppose I might feel more comfortable if I had the physique of, say, Ryan Gosling, but my aesthetic of "Peter Crouch with a lopsided chest, horrible skin, and scars all along my arm" will have to suffice. Perhaps, of course, I am making something out of nothing, and as the day approaches, the event will simply become avoided and reduced to a "oh I can't make it after all" and I'll be left Sunday doing what I always do. Which is nothing.

I'm sure, either way, as Sunday approaches, anxiety will set in; about me, my looks, my personality, and how after about 5 minutes I fully expect the girl to want to abort the meet up at all costs, leaving me with an hour and 15 minute drive home covered in the coarseness of sand and curses of a tepid, worthless existence. At least, it appears for the time being, Sunday is supposed to be a nice day if one enjoys warmth and sun. The weatherman, however, does not assign a probability to social failings and existential angst. Perhaps that's a market that has yet to be tapped.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Never More, Forever More

I recall thinking to myself years ago that I would not put off my next international trip any longer. Of course, life has a way to conspire against that, and from housing costs, to lack of friends, to excuse making, and here we are, almost 6 years after the original plans, and I have yet to have gone to Asia.

I recall thinking to myself years ago that I would not put up with one more Goddamn winter, of ice and snow and cold, slippery roads, shoveling, drafty windows, and pitch black morning and evenings saturated with weeks of endless cloud cover and biting wind. But as always, here I am, as summer winds to its close and I sit 3 months removed from snow and cold and trying in vain to use my light box constantly so that my mood doesn't plummet with the lack of sun and warmth like it always does. That I would move somewhere warm and sunny.

I recall thinking years ago how I would quit my job, one that has caused no shortage of panic attacks, breakdowns, self-hatred, and immense amounts of displeasure and distressing angst. The people, the work, the monotony, the angry co-workers, everything conspires to create a toxic environment. yet here I am, as I have been since January 2009. Because what other options are there for a college degree-less schmuck like me to make $12 an hour? None, I suppose, not least in a cheap Midwest city where any store or restaurant or movie theatre or what have you starts out at the $8.15 minimum wage.

I recall thinking that one day I'd be in a big city, so that every night I could walk around and explore my surroundings, and see something new every day, and meet new people, and try new restaurants. That the penultimate boredom of a small city and its bite-sized downtown and entertainment would no longer wear on me. That I could say I was in Miami, or LA, or New Orleans, or something where it's "cool" to be there, "cool" to live there, not just because it sounds cool but because the city is cool, and fresh, and exciting, and diverse.

Of course, all this is, I suppose, possible in a way. One can imagine a life in which I quit my job today, move far away, and start again. But of course, to do so requires not imagining responsibilities, or realties, of looking for new work that can cover the rent of a large city, even though such may not exist. Of selling a house, of being completely without contacts in a new place, of spending lots of money and time, of living with all new people, of having to pay hundreds of dollars to return home for holidays, of not being around to help out family.

I suppose we all have our "never mores." Things we vowed we'd move on from, never succumb to again. But I also suppose that too many these "never mores" are really "forever mores," destined to haunt us to our grave, until we sit on our deathbed and wonder how we steadfastly held on to the things that held us back so, so adamantly.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Never Learned Skills

It is, sadly, readily apparent that the present author lacks the requisite skills that one might expect a 26 year old resident of the third planet of the sun to have with regards to socializing. Specifically, one finds that the present author has no skills when it comes to texting and emailing etiquette, how frequently to do so, and in what form, formats, or tone to do so. Indeed, while texting and emailing in a social, non-business context is generally formulated over time in junior high, high school, and college, the complete and total lack of having contributed to such communication renders the present author inept when using it. To wit, entering into a potentially new relationship in which the early tendrils of socialization are done via text is a source of anxiety for the present author, as every text becomes a moment of self-doubt, questioning, and trepidation. "Is this text too long?" or "Is this too soon a reply?" or "Have too few text been sent? Too many? Too few questions? Too many?" That this is something the present author must stumble into at age 26, rather than, say, age 12, is both a painful reminder of social ineptness and isolation, and chance to reflect on a lack of social aptitude with the sort of painful self-deprecation that is easy to call home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Everyone Wants to be Pretty

As I have said before; given the limited traffic this blog receives, it is rather easy to be completely open and uninhibited in what I say here. There will be no comments, no criticism, no anger, just the unending silence of a vast and inescapable web. There is a strange and commutable comfort in the silence and lack of attention, I am sure we all know what it is like to be free from the glaring eye of a boss, or co-worker, or peer, and how freeing it can be when it occurs.

A young woman confided to me the other day (I say "young" because, technically, she is young, although she is only a few years younger than me) via text-based communication that a 50+ year old man had hit on her as she worked at a hospital. My immediate response, and the one I then exchanged back to her via said text-based communication, was that the event sounded uncomfortable. To be hit on by someone over twice your age, especially as a woman, I imagine, is not at all a highlight of the day.

But, alas, given how I am perpetually wrong on issues of and pertaining to, well, everything and anything, I was wrong here, too. Indeed, being hit on had actually brightened her day significantly!

Why, you might ask ("you" being the nonexistent reader of this blog), would this brighten her day? Well, in the apparent spirit of confidants who long know each other (to which neither of us are to each other at all) she said that she is almost never hit on or flirted with, and that to receive the attention of one that suggested that she was "pretty" was something that made her happy.

Of course, I then was a bit flummoxed on how to respond. Do I sympathize? After all, in my 26 and a half years of existence, nobody, not a soul, has ever flirted or hit on me, so I suppose I could relate, in a way. Being complimented certainly feels good. I can't say I really want to be complimented on my looks by someone twice my age, and given that I am a white male, such compliments hardly come with the sort of harmful baggage that they could if our sex was flipped. But I guess, so to speak, one needn't look a gift horse in the mouth; a compliment or flirtation from an 80 year old serial killer, as deplorable a source as it is, would be the first time someone not from my family would have complimented me on my looks face-to-face. Then again, it's easy to imagine myself feeling worse that the only person who thought I looked good made a habit out of killing people. But I digress!

I see the degree of severity our search for looking pretty damages us. One, after all, does not approach someone for the first time at a bar, restaurant, club, class, social gathering or the like, that they "hear across the way" or "smell across the way" or, God forbid, "taste across the way" but rather, they approach someone they "see across the way," someone who looks attractive, or interesting, although the two constantly overlap. I can imagine that, especially as a woman, where the already draining baggage of looking attractive is amplified and magnified, going through life with little to no complimentary attention could become a source of extreme self-doubt.

And yet, we constantly fall back on our animal instincts, instincts that have often caused us to reach a species high-point when we break them, not rely on them, and say "you have to be attracted to someone physically" or post on our social media how beautiful/sexy/hot someone is, knowing full well that we are potentially alienating those outside "conventional" attraction, alienating those who have never had those words said to them. Not that it's your job to "break" conventional attraction, your responsibility to not publically display your attraction to someone, your responsibility to deny visual cues and ignore the easiest and fastest way to indulge yourself in observing someone, but as often is the case, sometimes the things we say hurt the people we don't say them to as much as the things we say to hurt do.

I see this every day, myself, in things I do. After a year's worth of "liking" every single girl on Tinder, no questions asked, I have received 4 likes back. That I have rotated my photos, my profile info, have switched tones completely, and tried many other things, only illustrates the point that I am, alas, not at all physically attractive. In fact, there is a rather long laundry list of ways I don't meet conventional standards of attraction that I will not bore the previously aforementioned non-existent reader of this blog with. That I have never been approached at a bar, or other social setting only reaffirms this. That my friends - or at least, those who were my friends, ostensibly, in high school - told me to my face that I wasn't much a looker, well, if it looks like a duck, and acts like a duck, then it certainly is a duck, forever doomed to shitty insurance commercials and the banality of modern society. Where was I? Ah, yes. It becomes a bit draining, to be constantly reminded that one is not attractive, or good looking, or what have you. As I said, compliments feel good. I suppose everyone just wants to be adored by someone, and we all have our shallow moments.

I could,  then, use this passage to link to the relative onslaught of studies suggesting that good looking people receive better grades, better pay, more positive social interaction, and I would sound bitter. I suppose I already sound a bit the latter, but the point of this blog is hardly academic, and this post has rambled on a bit.

So, in my bumbling causative reaction to the young woman's assertion that being hit on by an older man made her feel good, I simply suggested that, as long as the man wasn't creepy or persistent about it, then, well, I am glad it made you feel good. I could have interspersed my complete lack of said experience, but such trifling concerns of mine are as such, and I did not want to deflect the moment into a "woe is me" story, when clearly she wanted some attention.

Perhaps my response wasn't the response she wanted. Perhaps it was. I am rather sure that if someone hit on me, my first reaction would be to wish I had a CAT scanner to ascertain what was wrong with them. That is probably not an endearing response, but given a rapidly approaching third decade of existence of no social indulgences or revelations related to physical attraction, affirmation, or compliments, it is the one I fall back on. Given that such experience will never occur to me, the overwhelming evidence suggests that, not only am I destined to be forever ugly on the inside, but forever ugly on the outside, too.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

No Guides for Low Lifes

It's taken for granted when one is in school how many social and professional resources are at ones disposal. Especially in college, there is a cornucopia of networking and learning opportunities, from dormitory events, to lab assignments, to campus clubs and activities.

The social dynamics upon leaving the school system once and for all are of course an abrupt change of pace. The relaxed opportunities to meet people are gone, as most of one's connections are made through work; not living quarters or activities, and thus the dynamics of interacting with people is severely changed. It is hard, for example, to befriend someone who is your boss, or is a co-worker you don't see outside of the dress code and busy-work of the office or wherever your job may take you.

There is no guide, then, to making connections or friends once one has graduated from the forced social structure of education, and the temporary stature of jobs when the economy is booming further illustrates the difficulty of new social bonds. For me, everyone I knew from school; whether elementary, junior high, or high school, is long gone, many of them physically thrust to all corners of the country or even world, the others a natural result of the drifting that occurs when you no longer have classes or lunch breaks together.

And of course, it becomes hard to re-forge the types of bonds that grow and are tested by the perils of school, particularly in a smaller city where the resources of a large metropolitan area do not exist. It's easy to go to work, go home, call it a day. It's easy for social isolation to become the norm, for office work and house work to occupy free time and sleep the rest of it. It's easy to go through entire years without meeting new people, without forming new relationships, and without having someone to laugh at dumb jokes with, or cry on a shoulder with. For a low life like me, whose social life deteriorated completely to the whims of isolation, anxiety, and apathy, many, many years ago, the difficulty in somehow rebuilding what was lost is higher than ever. There is no guide, no step-by-step instruction, no easy function you can attend. The world spins on. That it spins on without anyone knowing of my existence is just a facet of life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I guess it's a matter of terminology, equivalency, the like, to suggest we seek comfort in what we do, but suffice to say there's an element of truth there. We seek comfort in our skin, in our homes, in our jobs, comfort whether it's basic safety needs or general ability to exist and feel at peace or at home. The grand irony, of course, is that too much comfort becomes a sort of pox upon one another, eventually become a disquieting source of discomfort; of angst and doubt and fear. Skills can atrophy, passion and happiness can atrophy, everything becomes a menagerie of meaningless meandering through life, of being sick of the job and sick of the house and sick of the regular, day-to-day. Maybe it's comfortable, maybe you can coast by each day fine, not worry about being challenged or having to stick your neck out, find things come easy to you, but eventually such existence will wear you down, much like a complete lack of comfort would. There's no perfect ratio; all I suggest is that if you ever find yourself wholly comfortable, unchallenged, and lacking in risk taking, switch it up, before you become a husk of a person that this author has.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Cure for the Sunday Night Blues

Sunday Night Blues is a fairly well-documented condition (and, I might add, a good band name, for those who are looking for one). It is also, I might add, an entirely curable condition. Or at least, in a roundabout manner. See, the feeling occurs due to the upcoming end of a work or study-free weekend and the onset of going "back to the grind" so to speak. This fear and angst is most common, then, in those who have a traditional work or study week.

The cure to this condition, of course, is to simply reach the point in which the weekend is no less stress, anxiety, or depression free than the week, thus preventing a case in which Sunday night seems to be the penultimate ending of a slightly higher point. By creating a situation in which all days are equally miserable, then there is no need for an onset of an acute condition on a specific day of the week. Instead, the entire week can be one of perpetual angst and sadness.

The fact that this cure doesn't so much exorcise Sunday night blues so much as create a situation in which said feeling is the default state is neither here nor there. Sunday nights, under this new condition, will officially be no more worse than any other night.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Supply and Demand

Supply and demand is probably one of the most basic, crudely simple, and well known economic ideas. It's not a universal, and one reason it is so popular is because of the aforementioned crude simplicity, but it serves a point and has a role in common discussion.

A sort of argument about supply and demand is constructed in defense of capitalism when referring to products, or creations, that fail to sell. That is, it is said that, if someone has a passion to make something, and they do make it, but nobody buys it, well, at the end of the day, the lack of demand is what it is, and the people have spoken, and the creator needs to look to other means. This is seen as a necessary and morally informative facet of the free market system. That it is a democracy, and that if nobody buys your product, creation, idea, or service, then it is you, the creator, who is at fault. Something that meets a demand needs to be created. Not just the whim of a creator with little demand.

On its face, it seems logical. At the end of the day, we all labor 40+ hours a week towards the capacity to make money and in turn convert that money into things we enjoy. And so if something is created that is outside that causative chain, then it is unfair to expect us to buy or consume said thing.

I would argue, however, that this idea of having to create something that meets a demand is inherently immoral given the current construct of modern society. We talk about say, a book, or video game, a movie, or new invention failing to sell because people simply don't like the product, but the reality is that it is not so much people individually choosing to pass on a product, but rather a sort of rejection formatted through years of marketing, consumerism, and corporate scheming. The rejection of, say, a passionately written 100,000 word novel is not made by a wholly democratic, open, and individualistic "invisible hand" but rather by a mob of people whose very wants, desires, and likes, has been formed by forces completely outside of their control. Nobody is immune to it. All of our fashion choices, media choices, food choices, product choices, are fashioned in a large part by the advertising we see, the friends that are thrust into our lives (whose choices are also influenced by advertising), the culture we are born into, the religion and class we are born into, and much, much more. Things that are working at a much larger scale than an individual, micro-level. Thus, the entire idea of expecting someone to do something that meets the current demands of the market is immoral, because it puts an individual or small group in a position of having to cater to entities that are much larger and more powerful than they are, and also pits a creation against the collective identity of a society that is often left to the whims of modern commercialization. Until the system is more democratic and more formed by individual opinions unbiased by these institutions, the idea of having to create something that there is a demand for will always be unfair for the creator.

It behooves me, then, to simply summarize that our nominal decision making regarding the quality of a product is not as open or democratic as many like to suggest, but is instead a function of society and commercial entities at large, which is hardly fair to a small individual who is chasing their passion. That is not to say that products and creations aren't rejected because they fail to meet the interest of people, indeed, that is often the case, and I can not sit here and simply say that everything that has failed or been rejected was done unfairly so. But it is interesting to reflect on the fact that, if you are setting out, as an individual, attempting to make something that you are passionate about, or do something you love, you are not attempting to meet the demand of people, but of the corporations, cultures, and predispositions that have formed in and amidst our society and continue to be pummeled against us. It seem rather cruel, then, to expect anyone to come out on top. Only a lucky few do. Perhaps when someone fails to achieve success with their creation, we can offer them congratulations for trying. Many people never even get that far.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

From 5th Grade to Decades

The present author is under no pretense that this blog, in all its mediocrity - indeed, to call it mediocre is perhaps a stretch - creates more than very minimal traffic and little presence of other readers. This is, in a way, freeing, as it allows said author to be brutally open and honest without fear of any sort of response or commentary from the peanut gallery, so to speak. That this exact realization allows the following post to amalgamate on these very poorly-travelled and even more poorly-constituted pages is something that any and all readers may feel slighted by, nonchalant about, or, ultimately, completely and entirely unaffected, as this blog does well to impart.

I can recall being sad as early as 5th grade. I had just transferred to a new school, from one private school in which peace, co-operation, and anti-bullying was an ethos, to one in which everyone was spoiled, arrogant, had inflated feelings of self-importance, and were frequently verbally and physically violent. I was not prepared for the culture shock. I remember one day, walking in our local neighborhood after school, and going to a nearby park, where I sat up against a tree and cried all evening, finally returning home and confessing to my mom that my peers were relentless towards me; my name, my clothing, my manner of speech (it wasn't until 6th grade that I learned to pronounce the "th" sound in words like "three"), and I was wilting under it all.

I did not change schools.

I certainly learned, at times, to be more aggressive. It was in 6th grade that I started swearing vociferously. It was in 7th grade that I got caught making fun of another kid's looks. It was how I tried to defend myself. If there was someone lower than me, then I would not be picked on. But it didn't work. My name from 6th - 8th grade in some circles was "Chode Scrotum" and I did my best to hide it from my parents. They assumed, I am sure, that I did not know what either word meant, such was the discussion of sex in the house that there was no discussion of sex in the house. At times, one of my supposed friends would come up behind me, like he did to others he perceived as targets, and choke us until we begged him to stop. I saw one boy bite off part of another boy's breast as they fought. I saw endless recesses spent playing "Smear the Queer," a game in which the boys got together, picked one to be a target, and threw things at the target's head as hard as possible. At times, this "game" turned into loose brawls, with fists and feet careening wildly off of one another. I saw one kid get punched in the stomach so hard, he immediately keeled over and puked out his lunch. You could see the chunks of the orange he had just eaten 20 minutes ago in the vomit.

I stuck with the friends I had from that school into public high school, warts and all, for they were my only friends. My freshman year, one gave me a bloody nose slamming my face into a bookshelf. Another punched me in the arm as hard as he could, leaving me with a swollen green and purple welt that didn't go away for weeks. He was testing to see if I was "French." I did not cry, and ergo I wasn't. To cry was to admit defeat. Or to be French, apparently.

I confessed to a friend my freshman year, amidst the first rotten grades of my life, amidst teachers calling me a "loner" to my parents, amidst near constant bullying, that I was thinking about ending my life. He did not take it seriously. I did not take my life seriously. It seems we weren't far apart on some things.

By my sophomore year, I started to drift apart from these friends, and their calculated cruelty. This, of course, created new challenges, for now I truly was alone. Sitting in a cafeteria in high school, hundreds of kids around, and I being the one and only one sitting alone at a table elicited fear in me. It made me an easy target. It made me an easy source of ridicule. So after many awkward, solitary lunches, I simply started skipping lunch and spent the lunch break in the library, sometimes doing homework, other times idly browsing the web. The quietness appealed to me.

By my senior year of high school, my social life was in ruins, and I was simply existing as a person who went to school during the week and worked 16 hours at McDonalds during the weekend and slept or played WoW the rest of the time. At times, I would lie in bed at night thinking that college would be a fresh start for me, that things would be different, that the nights of lying on my floor self-harming, crying, and listening to the most depressing music I could find would be over. That I would find something I love. That I would make new friends who were good people. That I would do better in school. That I would be away from parents.

I was wrong, of course. College was, as I quickly learned, even worse.

I stayed in the dorms when I first went off to our in-town university. My roommate in college was a violent mam; he would walk down the dormitory halls in his steel-toed boots, kicking everyone's door, hoping to catch someone opening it so that the door would open and "bust their face in." He stole, frequently, from our suitemate. He shot airsoft guns at people from our 3rd floor room as they walked on the sidewalk below. One morning, he came back at 3am with two other guys, shirtless and laughing; they had dropped acid and robbed a convenience store, than ran all the way back to the dorms. I don't know why they all lost their shirts. He would smoke weed in the room frequently, during which times I would excuse myself, hoping that the RA, who was quite literally right next door to us, wouldn't bust him and get me in trouble too. He would blast his music throughout the day, even when I asked him to turn it down. It did not matter to him. Humorously, there were many weird ironies about him that I now laugh about. He was a Jewish anti-Semite who blamed Jews for 9/11. He was spoiled, so much so, that after spending thousands of dollars one day at Best Buy on a sound system, video games, and other assorted gadgets, he called his mom up and demanded she increase the limit on the credit card they had given him. That he was such a gross consumer of material goods was made ironic by the fact that he was a rabid anarchist.

So once again, I was going to the library during the day, hiding form my roommate and finding a secluded corner where I could use my laptop, and eating at the cafeteria by myself when I was hungry. I learned to eat at non-peak hours. 2:00pm lunch was much less busy than 12:00pm. 7:30pm dinner was much less busy than 6:00pm. It was less awkward to eat alone then. And if I always scheduled an 8am class each day, I could eat breakfast during the very quiet 7:00am hour. Still, I had tricks for when I had to eat when it was busy because of my class schedule. I became very good at pretending to be on the phone; holding my Blackberry up to my ear and feigning conversation, so that if someone saw me eating alone, they could at least operate under the pretense that I did know people, as I was talking to one on the phone, apparently. I became very natural at the pauses and nuances of simulated phone conversation.

By the weekend, I was driving hurriedly home to my parent's house, enjoying the 48 hours in which I was completely free of my roommate's existence and no longer rendered hopelessly anxious as to what violent or criminal act he would do next. The thought of NARCing occurred to me, many times, but he was a popular weed dealer, and to do so would be extremely easy to trace to me - his quiet and non-weed using roommate. He knew everyone in the dorms it seemed, and it was easy to see a situation in which, if he got in trouble, I would be a target of retribution. So I simply tucked my head down and hoped to get through the year unscathed.
I went to therapy a couple times, it being free to students and all, but eventually drifted away from that. By my second semester of college, my anxiety, particularly that of the social kind, was so high that I was scared of walking outside and being seen by other people, or of being in a classroom with other people. I looked hideous, my voice was boring, I had nothing to offer, and I was convinced that everyone could see me for the loser I was the second I went out in public; so I simply stopped going out at all, spending now entire days in isolation in the farthest corner of the library, where nobody ever went, and nobody could ever see me. I walked to and from it with my head down, hunched over, hoping to attract as little attention as possible. The very idea of being around people made me sweat and shake in fear. When I would see old classmates on my path to the library, I would quickly divert and try to find a way to avoid them, so that they would not notice me. Anything to do with people became a stressful event.

Of course, this all affected my grades... poorly, I might add. And so after just two semesters, my college experiment, my fresh start, ended in failure.

There have been many years since then, since 2008; hundreds of hours of therapy and psychiatry, many different drugs and drug combinations, some prescribed, some simply bought online in shady corners of the internet. further attempts at college. A 10 day stay in a mental hospital that became one of the most formative experiences of my life. Perhaps one day I shall write about them, too. But for now, I simply realize, that having spent 16 years of my 26 on this planet dealing with sadness, dealing with the reality that I do not like myself, much less love myself, that this is part of who I am, a part of me, and that I will be living with it forever.

I suspect, also, that some of my deep-seated hatred of men derives from the behavior I saw from them first hand, and the anger at times embarrasses me and blinds me, but it remains all the same. I suspect, also, that I will never truly get over some of these experiences, forever clinging to their damage as a way to absolve myself of my sins. Perhaps one day I will grow a spine and move forward in life. Or perhaps, as I suspect, I will be continually rendered inept by my own failings and insecurities, razor blade in hand, listening to whatever music will get me sad as fast as possible, and swallowing whatever pills my doctor tells me to take.

That the present author decided to share this post relating to the fact of perpetual sadness, one which could have been succinctly expressed in less than 1/10th of the length of this post, is not a fact lost at all.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Looking Forward Looking Backward

It occurs to the present author that, for many years, the weekend was something to look forward to. It meant, during early school years, freedom from homework and classwork. It meant, during later school years, freedom from bullying and difficult tests and projects. It meant, during college, freedom from a violent, criminal roommate.

Given that the present author strongly detests the current employment maintained by said author, it stands to reason that weekend would still be something to look forward to. Instead, due to an ever-present strain of ennui, weekends have actually become something to not look forward to, as angst, boredom, and loneliness often conspire to render them even more unpleasant than an already unpleasant week. The weekends, then, become a 48+  hour ordeal of survival, of trying to maintain some sort of activity and avoid the mental traps that render one both habitually depressed and hopeless. That these ordeals have been survived, albeit extremely poorly so far, is a condemnation of the present author's ability to both maintain a decent life and to find enjoyment and pleasure in things. That today is also a Friday, and the last day before the weekend really kicks off, is not something that the author has lost sight of. Let the anxiety and pernicious waiting game begin.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No K Cupid

The present author, over the last year and a half, has taken, as previously mentioned, some small steps towards enhancing a social life that is completely bereft of any actual face-to-face contact. These small attempts involved signing up for sites such as OkCupid, Tinder, and POF, under the pretense of meeting both men and women. It occurs to the present author, however, that not many people use these sites under that pretense, as, even with the small amount of likes the author's profile has received, less than 5% of them are by men, none of whom replied to further inquiry. This, perhaps, isn't too surprising, as the sites are marketed, ultimately, as dating sites, not friend sites.

What is perhaps most striking, though, is the present author's prolificacy at both failing to attract interest, and scaring away what little interest there is in the space of just a few days of sending messages. But perhaps foremost, some boundaries should be explained. It just goes to happen that the present author did not include religion, drug use, size, ethnicity, income, or relationship status as deal breakers in the veritable onslaught of questions and characteristics allowed to be chosen, but did name the act of already having a child as being the one and only thing that would prevent any sort of "dating" to transpire. The present author could certainly befriend one with a child, but never anything more. That 14 of the 22 likes over the last 18 months on OkCupid have been by single mothers is a source of cynical humour to the present author.

But, to wit, even when interest is given in the present author by non-single mothers, of which 6 people have evolved into the stage of "regular messaging," (4 on OkCupid, 1 on POF, 1 on Tinder) it has taken, at most, only a week of exchanging said messages for the other party to lose all interest in the author and cease all communications. This is, of course, not unexpected, but still creates a sort of mental proclivity towards assuming that the present author is both boring and ugly (both of which are undoubtedly true). Even when the author attempts to extend an interesting olive branch, by asking questions of the other person which may be considered courteous or showing some sense of intrigue into the person's life, the conversation eventually fizzles out. This demonstrates that the present author's limited and awkward social skills definitely translate even worse to written messages than they already do to verbal ones.  That the messages come off as stiff and unnecessarily formal is also a strike against them.

So it goes that after 6 dried out conversations, several other failed attempts, and months spent without a single face-to-face meeting, the present author is resigned to the fact that he is both; uninteresting, and un-dateable. This is not new knowledge to the author, and indeed, has been known for some time, but the veritable failure of anything even remotely close to friendship transpiring from the triumvirate of websites being used to ascertain just as much is, ultimately, a self-damning reality. That the author should seek to change themselves in order to perhaps appear more desirable as a friend or social contact or romantic interest is not something that is lost on the present author. It is simply something that is unattainable.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Holden Caulfield Hates This Place

Phonies. Everywhere, really, office is inundated with fake laughter - you can easily tell when it's happening - fake greetings. One co-worker lies so often that he'll change his story multiple times in the same day, he's the same one who steals food and toilet paper. I don't think anyone here cares about anyone. There's enough talking behind of everyone's backs, makes you wonder what they say about me, so I just try to keep my head down. So many phonies. Everyone puts on a face. Maybe that's the nature of being a salesperson, shoveling fake trends and facts to try to market yourself, or your product, to try to make money, put on a smile and tell someone how great the bullshit really smells. Can't help but think, though, the profession here makes it all worse.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Weekends

They drone on like all weekends, really, but now sweaty and dousing out rising body temperature with endless glasses of water. Still enjoy the heat way more than the cold, it's easy enough to drink water and take a walk, much easier than bundling up and shoveling, and glasses fogging up, and black ice. Still, the weekend can become a sort of tepid thing; all boredom and longing and futile attempts at writing, or reading, or playing a game, or watching a movie, anything to keep the mind active and busy, off of things, off of frequent disappointments and loneliness. It's been said fear is the mind killer but I think dullness is perhaps even more so, fear heightens the senses at the very least, fear can be a motivator, boredom just dulls the senses and creates and endless malaise. The cicadas outside clash with the sound of a running fan, loud and steady, pulsating, occasionally accentuated by the laughter or talking of people down the street hanging out on their front porch, having some drinks and some food, and then there are the lawn mowers too, archetypal human inventions that consecrate a relatively painless job to the altar of fossil fuels. At least if I sleep through the weekend, the nightmares will make sure something intense happens.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

To Be a Good Writer

It occurs to the present author, having spent a prodigious amount of hours over the course of existence consuming literature, that many famous and worldly authors write in ways distinctly frowned upon by teachers, critics, and literary types. And while it's easy and, perhaps, lazy to find people to say something to the effect that 50 Shades of Gray is "trash," it is harder to find someone say that, CS Lewis, for instance, is often very religiously heavy-handed and preachy, something that would not be considered a positive writing trait if one were to contribute such to a story in the pursuit of a creative writing degree. And yet, CS Lewis is rather often considered a landmark fantasy and science-fiction writer. Or take the case of one Robert Heinlein, a man who wrote about women deserving to be raped, a man who wrote positively about the Vietnam War and of nuclear war, and a man who delineated entire political thought into dialogue scenes between two characters, one who was often a foil for Heinlein's beliefs. While Heinlein is criticized much more today than in yesteryear, he enjoyed decades of being both financially rewarded and critically esteemed for his work.

This is not, of course, a phenomenon strictly held by the literary world. What it is, however, is a product of two distinctly uncontrollable things. One of those things is your birth. To say that the "Golden Age" of sci-fi took place in the mid 20th century - which many people do - is to say that a golden age can occur without any contributions from marginalized people; women, people of colour, LGBT, religious minorities, etc. Sci-fi was, at that point in time, strictly a white man's endeavor. And so, your chances of getting published and selling were at times a direct result of how you were born.

It is also a product, entirely, of luck. That an uncountable multitude of works that have been published and sold lavishly go against what is considered "good writing" is something that gets to the heart of whether or not writing can ever be considered good in the first place, or whether or not generally perceived ideas of "good" are true in the first place.

That Heinlein said that women deserve to be raped, and that E.L. James at times ignored ideas of consent or failed to use accurate, modern depictions of sexual slang, likely mattered little to each of them, respectively. Laughing all the way to the bank does not require one to read the critique of a supposed literary critic. The people have already spoken.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Happiness is Fleeting, Sadness is Forever

Perhaps Buddhist philosophy regarding impermanence is true in that we die, but then again, if you believe in rebirth, you could theoretically be sad over and over again until you reach enlightenment. That I do not believe in rebirth means that any sadness, while decades long, will be rendered moot, eventually, by the cold inescapability of death.

I spent Friday through Sunday in the heat of 110 degrees, sunlight, hostelites, music, Chicago, and fun times. Mom can be proud that I only cried 5 times on the way back home, to my drab hometown of 75,000 people (310,000 if you want to call it a "metropolis" but that's being generous), there are no hostels, no nightlife, no scenic views, no palm trees, no year round summer, no music, just the boring staccato of another rust belt city grinding on towards the perpetual notion that this part of the world can be saved. I made friends on my journey, friends I will never see again, thrown away to all corners of the earth and relegated to a number on my Facebook friends list, maybe I'll check in on their profile every now and see if they're happy, that'd be the ideal, happiness, but there's nothing about it that sticks. The closest ones were from Ann Arbor but they're all going away for college. My closest friend I made on the trip was adamant about being from "St Fucking Louis" and I can't say anything will ever pull me there.

I had firsts of course, first club I'd ever been to, not the first time I'd been up until 5:30 drinking, but the first time I had done so in awhile, suffice to say my work day is one of 'where am I?" and "who am I?" Everyone I met was both kind and incredibly sociable, even teasing out words from a recluse like me, who would have thought? Part of me wanted to just return, tell my job to fuck off and drive back, or just take a roadtrip, but there's that impermanence again, all the friends you meet on your journeys are friends you'll never see again, just common travelers who all have to return or go on their own way like you, that's why I have to get out of this town, start again, hit reset, find a big city and make connections, I have none here, nothing but sadness and fleeting moments that grace my existence when all seems lost. Take another pill, show up for work, go to class, go to bed. No palm trees. I spend every day here slowly dying. Hopefully it won't be permanent. I will never reach enlightenment.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

On HG Wells, Duly Noted

To say HG Wells is that of an considerately influential and popular science-fiction writer is not a statement of controversy. What is perhaps most remarkable about his continual fame, is that, much of what he wrote, if written today by someone trying to break into the world of science-fiction authorship, would be soundly discounted as amateurish. HG Wells, perhaps most notably in both his novel War of the Worlds, and novella The Time Machine - two of most popular works - uses the narrative devices of sci-fi to push, usually fairly inelegantly, a political point. The Time Machine rambles on for entire passages about the evil of both class hierarchy and communism, with the surrounding story almost superfluous in its existence, only 90 pages long, and with the non-political points all used up rapidly to develop both the world and the one and only character we really get to know - and not all that well do we know him, I might add. It could have existed, rather succinctly, as a period drama, or an essay. HG Wells, like many sci-fi authors, seeks to demonstrate some societal critique by setting his story against the backdrop of some futuristic setting, but the trivial way in which he discusses politics and science often feels like the prattling of a high school student's attempt at writing a dystopian novel. That War of the Worlds has the entirety of its conflict quickly resolved in the span of one insular paragraph near its end is not without frustration. And while the point of the buildup to it perhaps makes the journey more valuable, one still can't help but wonder why Wells was seemingly so bad at showing and not telling, and yet his work is considered to be a hallmark of the sci-fi genre. Certainly, ostensibly political works don't have to be subtle or sneaky about their dealings, but when ideas are presented drily in the form of a rant from an omnipresent narrator, and not naturally through the setting or characters of the story, well, it behooves the present author to say that, in all likelihood, the political message could have been delivered better.

Monday, July 13, 2015


It occurs to the present author, upon a recent re-reading of the well-reputed and historically significant novel Frankenstein (the 1818 version), that the Monster of that story is, in many ways, a relatable creature. To wit, the Monster in Frankenstein shares such characteristics with me as;

A) Rabid ugliness
B) Social ineptitude
C) Desire for human contact

The Monster was born into the world without consent (as we all are), and placed in it with a degree of physical characteristics that deemed him, according to society's standards at the time, horrendously hideous and unspeakably ugly, as am I.

That the monster is also 9 feet tall and inhumanly athletic, however, is not something which the present author is, much to the dismay of the childhood self of the author who wished to play in the NBA. That the Monster also murders several people is, again, something that the present author has never done and will never do.

That the Monster died of his own choosing, however, is something that parallels to will be revealed, in all likelihood, in time.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What is the Internet?

Nostalgia is a powerful drug. I don't think there's anything particularly controversial of that fact. Nostalgia is what will in part drive me to seeing the next Star Wars movie at midnight in December when we're likely laden with snow and cold. We like to think we're better than it, that we can take off the rose-tinted glasses at any point, that we can see past the seemingly natural inclination to filter out the bad and only consider the good of what once was. Perhaps some are better at that than others. Perhaps not.

Today is July 10th, 2015, not a particularly infamous day by any respects, another that will be lost to the menagerie of time. An animated movie comes out today, called Minions, which anyone who has spent any time online knows about all too well. Minions, the seemingly shapeless, formless yellow creatures from said movie, have infiltrated every level of the web, paraded non-ironically by people on Facebook alongside text entries formed of New Sincerity, and paraded ironically by those who see a moment to contribute to the ever lingering postmodern irony of the 80s and 90s now weaponized into internet pop culture in a sort of ironic twist of fate itself. They are pictured alongside any idea or any statement someone wants to make, grievance they want to air, reinforcement they want to give, or personal diatribe they want us to endure. They are a corporate device of epic proportions, not unlike many internet fads in recent times (Paul Blart just zoomed by on his Segway, I suppose). And some of us, well, in our postmodern irony, decided it's ok to laugh at them if we are laughing at the Minions, not with them. What a strange twist on modern mannerisms.

It's impossible to use a major social networking platform without seeing them, the Minions. But then again, that's true of anything that enters the cultural lexicon these days. There's little agreement on internet eras - indeed, a medium so young is hard to divvy up - but I think it's very permissible to consider, at least in part, the internet as being pre or post Facebook. Facebook; of almost a billion and a half users, an amalgamation of content and the single greatest source of personal information that has ever been constructed by humankind, has become a sort of lens in which we view the aforementioned cultural lexicon. Minions may litter our timelines now, but before that was Left Shark, and before that was some other meme, and so on and so on. While the same can be found on Twitter, the character limits and profile limits render a sort of barrier between the content and the user. We can easily divorce ourselves from a site that doesn't require our real names, our real photos, our real history. Facebook is the giant, the one that collects our entire lives - that we contribute all too willingly - and disperses them amongst... what? The machinations of the global corporate infrastructure? My picture of me at a concert appears next to the Minion, the shark, the doge, with everyday seemingly making it more and more likely that the trend is commercial, that my info is sold to the highest bidder, that the content I see is not made by the people I have on my friends list but instead by the algorithms behind the scene that prune my content so that everything I view is formed on Facebook.

It's easy, at times, to look upon Facebook, or Twitter, or Youtube, these corporate giants, these progenitors of our news, our jokes, our content, and wax poetic of an earlier internet era. Of not having to worry about ad block, or commercials before videos, or the idea that anything conceived is filtered through the Terms and Conditions of one of the largest companies on earth. Minions, after all, are a purely corporately contrived icon, like so much of what passes as popular content these days. The commercialization of the internet has been such an overwhelming success that one wonders if there was ever really a chance for the medium at all. I Am Carles was many things to a strange cultural niche of people, but it's easy to see it as a weirdly prophetic final gasp of the individual internet landscape. It wasn't always pretty, or nice, or even, perhaps, relevant. But it just was. There was no driving factor behind it from a CEO hell bent on profit margins. Is it any wonder the blog has disappeared from internet lexicon over the last few years? A blog is individual, it is textual, it is - frustratingly to the corporate world - not a Minion, not a commercial entity that can be spread like wildfire and posted to every wall and timeline imaginable. And so it fades away as another internet fad, disparaged to far corners where people commit more than 140 characters to an idea. Much like books - forever displaced by e-readers and tablets - which can fire up an ad before we even have a chance to get to the content we want to view on them. I can read Frankenstein after I see a - you guessed it - ad for those goddamn Minions.

Back then, even with Myspace, which was never what Facebook has become, or Google, when it was a simple search engine and nothing more, the internet seemed a bit wilder, quirkier, dirtier, less filtered. The trendy icons and content were made by individuals more often than by a corporation that studied behavior online and sought to create the most viral hit imaginable. Of course, to grow up during that period means anything will seem a bit wilder, quirkier, dirtier, and less filtered; when it's viewed through the guise of rapidly progressing adolescence, of parental restrictions and peer pressure. But there was a time when we didn't communicate what the new internet fad was on the internet itself, but in hushed tones at lunch the next day at school, because there was no way to get in touch with 345 "friends" in one quick post.

And it's all perhaps most uniquely frustrating when years of internet use have blended posts and content and writing styles together, but now it's all repackaged by some suit in a generic office trying to make you click it just one more time, so they can make one more buck. Vice is Gawker is 4chan is message boards, spunk has been around forever, inserting swear words into your piece and at the same time feigning self-awareness at what is truly bad content, irony, meta-irony, sincerity, new sincerity, parody, analysis, it's all just endless developments of styles and genres and ways to communicate that have been developed for centuries before us and centuries after us. Only now, it's impossible to avoid, it's curated by our timelines and walls, and our friends can't wait to tell us about it, and... oh my God, it's just like newspaper was before the web! One truly wonders what the 1800s Minions were. Hopefully for our ancestors sake, they spoke a bit more cohesively.

Regardless, it's easy to look back on the earlier internet with fondness and forgo the negatives; that back then, the modern landscape of information could be horribly fractured. Use this site for a map. Use this site for news. Use this site for email. Use this site for music. Many of these sites had endless copies and rehashes, there was no one-stop convenience, no grand source of information other than the internet itself; but by virtue of that wildness, there was no Great Filter, no corporation signing off on anything and everything that was posted or written or made.

It's also easy to ignore that, in all likelihood, the internet was a more dangerous and fear inducing place back then, remiss of cultural dialogues about what is truly appropriate in internet space, or who the internet is for, or how we can make it more inviting. From a purely logistical standpoint, the laws and regulations of various nations had little to nothing to say about the internet, such was its explosion so rapid and complete that the law was either clumsily applied in overly restrictive ways, or haphazardly applied in ways that didn't protect the people it sought to.

And so from the 90s and aughts we have now sprung headfirst into a form of content and communication so immense that even TV, the giant goliath of all goliaths, the thing that either killed us all or brought us all together, depending on who you read, is slowly losing to the web, losing users, losing content, losing relevance; its death prolonged by the corporate giants who have stakes in it, just like some day, the corporate giants that were birthed on the internet as it is now will vainly try to swim against whatever revolutionizes the world next. And yet, for all my ruminations on the past, of a less commercial internet, we've all, as a species, swam forward over time immemorial further and further away from the dystopia. To hear some people speak, you'd think the internet is dead, media is dead, the future is hopeless, and I will complete this sentence only if I can get it sponsored. By the way, here's a clip of something I didn't create, just to get hits! And it has a Stamp of Content Approval from Facebook itself! Now appearing on your Timeline for the next 30 minutes only! I kid, of course, but prophecy is laden with doom and gloom more often than optimism, and one wonders if that's why news is a natural extension of tragedy.

What is the internet, then? Is it the wild west of the earlier years, still, of individuals and rule breaking and subcultures? Is it just another commercial venue? Is it - dare I say it - just TV with a new skin? Was it ever anything else? Or has it always been something else? I don't know, perhaps nobody does. That's why all the guesses; by people, by CEOs, by creators, of what the next big thing will be, of how to latch onto it, and how to bring it to the forefront of our daily communication, or even of what to do on the internet in the first place.

In the meantime, sit back, and revel in whatever Minion your aunt has posted to Facebook. Perhaps the greatest irony is that we were the Minions all along; spewed out by corporate culture, and laughing at ourselves all the way.