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.