“Obey God.” This is a phrase I hear from uber-religious people… friends, family, and strangers. But I don’t understand it.
There is evil in the world. Bad things happen to good people. That’s a fact. And the justification I have repeatedly heard — even from my own minister when I was younger — was that people can do bad things because God gave us free will. Having faith would be meaningless if we didn’t have free-will… it would all just be a puppet show.
So if we have free-will, to try to live the best life we can… then what is the benefit in “Obeying God”? I can get behind ‘try to follow these general good ideals’, but ‘obey god’ sounds more like an irrevocable checklist.
If you really think you’re gonna be judged at the end… I would rather be judged for something I created, than for how well I memorized the textbook.
To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist…
– Clayton Cubitt
I have to agree with this. It’s not to say that you shouldn’t want to be good. But it shouldn’t be the ‘why’ of you doing something. I see plenty of people buy nice camera equipment or take classes out of a desire to become artistic. But the people that stand out… the people that get noticed, they do it because they have to do it. They might occasionally stop and plan — that’s good craft — but they just as likely will be overcome by a glimpse of something and react instinctively.
It isn’t to say you cannot be good without that passion. Just that when you find your passions, those are places where you will really stand out.
In this neighborhood, I somehow never would have expected to be discussing the winter olympics with my neighbor when I walk home at 1am.
Small observation, regarding television shows: I like Aaron Sorkin shows. Yes he’s an incredible writer. Yes, while he has a definite liberal bent, he has no trouble calling out stupidity wherever he sees it.
But… but… it occurs to me tonight–while I have Studio 60 on in the background while I work–that he writes stories about people getting up and doing things that are important to them. The characters are driven by something, so they go out and do something about it. So many shows are about poor, put-upon characters. People who are beaten down, discouraged, unhappy, or bad. But Sorkin writes stories about people doing something important to them.
I don’t feel better about myself just because I’m not as pathetic as whoever on whatever reality show is popular this week. I like a little real inspiration in my entertainment.
It was easier to deal with being a clueless fuck-up, while dating. When things fell apart, I could look and say “Wow… I was an idiot there… shouldn’t have done that.” But it seems to suck a lot more when a productive, meaningful relationship falls apart. There’s nothing simple and detached to blame. It’s just a loss of something really good.
So… as this occurred to me, I’m of course thinking how much easier it all once was. But at the same time, I am also going through some photo archives. And when I got more than a couple years back in the archives, it got kind of depressing. I had some great times. But my life was stagnant back then, for so many years. To look back and see it in full color… it’s disheartening.
So I can’t take solace in the past nor the present. And it seems the price for higher highs is lower lows.
Okay… pretty photo chaser:
Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love & something to hope for.
– J. Addison (via Holly)
If you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind goes when it wanders.
– via Holly
Seems very fitting right now. *shrug*
Better to be ridiculous and make an impact, than to be polite and unremarkable.
Things that strike me about Geneva every time I visit:
- trees, trees, trees
- slate sidewalks
- greeting strangers
- they big sky
- the big fucking lake
- children playing on the sidewalks
- Queen Anne’s Lace
- names ending in vowels
- the smell of fresh, green air
I like her because she smiles at me and means it.
Being a “nice guy” is like being an alcoholic, in that you’re never really cured. There’s always that little bit of something in the back of your mind, waiting to jump out and take over your life again. So I speak from personal experience, but hopefully at a distance. It certainly feels like a drastic change occurred in my life within the last few years. And there’s plenty of evidence to support that. But I’ve been feeling like maybe I’m in a unique place, able to see the issue from both sides.
For the sake of less arguments, let’s define what a “nice guy” is. You’ve met them. You know them. You’ve listened to them talk, and talk, and talk. If you’re a woman, you think they’re your sweet, vaguely clueless friend. If you’re a man, you’re friends with them; but you find yourself shaking your head a lot at what they do. And if you are them, you have a justification for everything I’m going to say, anyway.
The “nice guy” label doesn’t come from a good place. Although these men probably are pleasant overall, the name has nothing to do with desirable personality traits. It comes from what is a common refrain, when discussing male/female interaction with these men. “Women don’t want nice guys. They want assholes.” Or “I’m a nice guy, so women never want me.” You know you’ve heard this dozens, if not hundreds of times. Most likely among guys talking to guys. If it’s a guy talking to a woman, I promise you he has a crush on you, but doesn’t think he has any real chance; but maybe if they can just convince you…
Those discussions always proceed with great amounts of logic and reasoning. Always with the logic. Like many things in my life, I always felt safe retreating to logic. “Well… if you look at it in this common sense way… A + B = C, then I’m right, even if it didn’t work out.” And while I was almost certainly correct, it was completely beside the point. I was trying to use logic as a defense in human relationships, which are at their core, completely illogical.
The nice guy will eventually tell you where he has firmly positioned himself in the whole scheme of relationships. “I don’t even try anymore.” “I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy.” “She wasn’t what I was looking for, anyway.” “I just can’t meet women, because of X”.
And the nice guy is going to do this…. over, and over, and over and over… the nice guy telling you about their dating life at 25 will sound pretty much the same at 30, and 35, and…
Why are we like this? I would guess a little bit of conditioning, and — if current science is to be believed — a little bit of biology. Second point first, ‘nice guys’ are almost always geeks to some extent. While they may not wear a pocket protector, the personality quirks are still there. Often with a strong leaning toward Asperger’s-type traits.
But the conditioning part is what interests me most about all this. “Why did I think about men, women, and relationships in this way?” In general, everyone you’ve met shares the same large cultural reference pool. So it’s probably not a question of strictly ‘what’ you’re exposed to. I had the same interests as anyone else. And to some extent, they even matured as I got older. But especially when you’re talking about the sexes and how they interact, there was always a certain amount of unflattering naiveté. Like I was looking at the world through a Norman Rockwell painting, or Disney colored glasses. Women are great, but you put them on a relatively chaste pedestal. Dating always leads to something more involved when it goes well. Sex is great, but it’s walled off in it’s own little world. I would like to say it’s a sort of junior-high point of view of the adult world. But I’d guess junior high kids today are less clueless than I was.
Many years ago, when I first started questioning the “Women don’t like nice guys” mantra, I said that maybe it’s not ‘assholes’ they want so much as confident men. Confidence is absolutely an attractive trait. Real or faked, it gets me better results in both business and personal life, regardless of whether I actually know what I’m doing. But… like everything else… I don’t know if this is really so clear cut. Confidence is a symptom of a personality that is outgoing, that takes initiative. You’re not sitting back examining life, but you’re actually participating in it. You’re engaged, good or bad.
Those kinds of traits absolutely run contrary to the mental process of a nice guy. These men don’t want to exert themselves on someone. “I’ll just tell this person I’m interested in about myself, and if they’re likewise interested, they’ll let me know, and we’ll…” …whatever. It sounds so mature, and logical. But relationships don’t start out like you’re drafting some mutually beneficial contract. Looking back, every person I consider important — every relationship, male or female, that means something to me — initially flared up in my life like a struck match.
What about sex? For nice guys, it’s this great thing that will come about after you’ve established a relationship with someone. While you’re by no means celibate or ashamed of sex, it’s not part of this early connection with someone. It’s a secondary, or tertiary stage. This one is harder to discuss intelligently. If relationships — as I said earlier — are completely illogical, sex is completely insane. Sex is hormones coursing through the blood telling you to do ridiculous things that probably even violate the laws of physics. What on earth made nice guys think this blood/sweat/magic thing can be left out of the discussion? A romantic relationship doesn’t lead to sex. Sex is part of a romantic relationship. Leave it out, even initially, and you’re leaving out a vital ingredient. The unspoken promise of sex, the looks, the hand on the other person, the holding, the actions themselves. Some female friends recently stated that while yes they wanted nice men, (presumably with a looser definition than mine), they wanted nice men who would put them over the arm of the couch and fuck them. The idea that women want to have sex isn’t shocking. But the sheer directness and central nature — that struck out at my dormant “nice guy”. Every woman I’ve asked about this has agreed with the main point, without question. Even better? The women who made the initial comment are the geekiest, most intelligent, uber-nerdy, (honestly… Asperger-ish) women I know. Apparently there are no “nice women”.
How do I think of life and relationships now?
Life is chaos. Try to simplify it and make it manageable and understandable, and you’re actually stripping out the things that make it worth living. If you dive into the chaos and let things swirl around you, it’s fascinating what you will see and experience. A hour of unexpected, new, exciting things is worth many times even the most enjoyable pre-planned day.
Relationships are similar. Don’t go in with a plan. Just go in. Interact in every way that comes up. Say every stupid thing that comes into your head. Forget everything you’ve ever seen or read, because every human relationship is unique. If there’s a connection, seize it immediately. And if not, that person still fits in your life somewhere.
I notice my taste in women changes over time. I would like to say it’s getting more refined, but that’s really just a nice way of sayin I act less ridiculously.
Today, I’m wondering if the hardest part of losing someone is that you keep having things you want to share with that person.
So last night as I’m heading out the door, I get a call saying I can come pick up my replacement lens, today. Whee!
So… I head out the door. And I end up having a very enjoyable night. To the point where I’m sitting on the Metro on the ride home, realizing I’m smiling like an idiot. Probably freaking out people across from me.
I fell asleep on the couch. So when I rolled over and finally opened my eyes this morning, I was facing the bay windows. And the first sight of the day was a crystal clear, deep blue sky. The white curtains were swept back, and three of my favorite portraits were propped up against the wall.
I wake up, just in time to get a call from one of my clients saying that, without provocation, they had negotiated a 50% increase in my fee for a monthly project I do.
“Do you think I’m a whore?”
Well… you know… not ME. I only wish I had that kind of problem. But it’s a topic that seems to come up on a not infrequent basis. Women asking me as a representative of the male gender, if I think so-and-so physical act or mental desire made them a whore.
My 2 cents:
First and most obviously, “if you have to ask”, you’re probably not. If you’re that conscious of it and concerned at the same time, then no, I doubt you could be a whore, no matter what happened.
You aren’t screwing around for sheer physical pleasure, regardless of whatever warm body it is. By the very act of asking the question, you’re showing concern for what the other person thinks about the act. I think what makes a whore a whore is when the other person (people?) involved in the act don’t matter at all in your mind.
But regardless of the length of time together or current intimacy of the connection, if someone makes you feel very good in any way, and you both know what you’re getting out of it, then I really don’t think there’s anything to feel bad about.
#1 – Nothing is as difficult as you think it is or remember it was.
#2 – You know you’re getting old when you injure yourself peeling an orange.
When I moved to DC back in the late 90s, I wanted to live in Dupont Circle. Nothing really shocking about that. You ask any young white person back then where was somewhere cool to live, and you can be sure that would be the first place off their lips. Possibly the only place, depending on how much they knew the city. Even Adams Morgan was still a bit questionable back then. (I remember them moving the Adams Morgan Day festival to the Mall one year to avoid gangs in the actual neighborhood).
And for the whole time I was trying to get settled in the city, Dupont Circle did glow as this ideal place to go. It’s always filled with people. It’s as safe as a big city gets. It had nothing to do with the tourist-DC. It has food, and entertainment, and people yelling strange things on the street.
I didn’t actually end up there, but wasn’t too far away. But everything that glows, fades. The circle itself isn’t much different, but the way I looked at it did. I’m not going to bore you to death by examining why my perceptions changed, but they did. The circle was still a decent place to be, but it didn’t feel magical anymore.
In the last year or two, I’ve spent a lot of times at various places around the circle. I’m not drunk enough to claim that it’s in any way magical again. But I think it’s one of the closest things DC has now to the big city image you see in melodramatic movies. In particular, I love sitting in the coffee shop, facing out the giant, old windows. They’re the biggest, highest-def, brightest movie screen you’ve ever seen. Sit there long enough and everything will walk, roll, or shamble past, eventually.
You have no idea how hard it is to not pull out my camera and spend all day taking pictures of the people passing by.
I have confirmed that yes, I can get drunk. It was not just watching the vice-presidential debate that made me wobbly last time. And I discovered that I’m a cheap drunk.
Ended up at Spellbound last Saturday after spending the day with friends.
I’d had really tiny amount to drink before going out. Maybe half a cup of beer (in the kitchen-measuring-tool sense — I don’t know the names of different glasses), and what amounted to a small shot glass of rum creme. I elaborate just to point out that it was nowhere near enough to get me drunk. And even then, it was a couple hours and some walking later before we even got to the bar.
The first rum and coke tasted good. There was some vague sense that I knew I’d had a drink, but nothing I could put my finger on. A Rum and Coke is the most advanced drink I can order right now with a straight face. (I made the ‘mistake’ of ordering a Rum and pineapple juice a couple months ago in the same place, and the bartender put it down in front of the woman I was with.) I wasn’t too far into the second one a while later when I knew it was gonna hit me. And about halfway through, it started to.
The first time I was drunk, I only knew because I was unsure about walking to my apartment from the front door. But this time I was nowhere near my apartment. The bathroom, just on the other side of the room, was going to be a big enough adventure. I finally decided I couldn’t lean on the bar forever. At this point I thanked several gods that there was a railing extending the entire length of the room. I was still able to walk, but with the effect of being half full of water that was sloshing around, throwing your balance off in random directions at random intervals.
And if there was any doubt in my mind up ’til that point, it was banished when I had to stop and shake my head to clear it before attempting to use the urinal.
I made it back out dry and alive, and spent the rest of the night leaning on the bar talking to friends. No more drinks, please. Pulled out my camera and snapped some shots in the last 10 minutes before they kicked us out.
This lead to a new discovery for me. Drunken stairways. It’s like you enter this little pocket universe where normal physical laws don’t apply. Because I swear that with every step up, the center of gravity in the room would change!
I was a little nervous at the thought of ‘walking’ home. I was trying to plan out — in my head — all the places I could stop along the route to sit down.
But… I was surrounded by other drunk people who were not happy that the crepe place was closed. (It does normally stay open for the after-hours crowds). Amazingly quickly — for a group of normally indecisive people — it as declared we’d head up to The Diner in Adams Morgan. This made me happy: Good food that I don’t often manage to get, and people to walk with a bit further and keep me from falling over. That’s not a short walk, and it wasn’t a beautiful night or anything.
Adams Morgan at 3am is a busy place. And The Diner, even more so. We got in amazingly fast, considering. And by the time I was halfway through a breakfast, the food, the walk, and the fresh air must have all conspired to sober me up.
That was that. We split up there, and after walking a friend of a friend back to their hotel, I made it home a little after 5am, just in time to fall asleep while transferring the pictures off my camera.
I was talking with a friend while writing this; about what could’ve happened in certain situations. I said something about how my “good intentions”* would have been nowhere to be found. And I know that sounds bad to a non-drinker, because it would have to me 6 months ago. It sounds like the stereotypical “I got SOOO drunk and didn’t know what I was doing and did something stupid and…”. But that’s not really it. I’ve been conscious of everything the whole time I was drunk, and was capable of self-contol. But it is similar to when you’re tired and exasperated, but without the negative parts. I lose my inhibition and stop caring what I “should” be doing. Kind of just leaves you with your own conscience as your guide/censor.
I see potentially interesting and educational things in a situation like that. But it also scares the fuck out of the part of me that normally tightly controls how I release every little thought or idea. When I first mentioned I would drink, someone (probably Shannon or Stephanie) said they thought it would likely cause me to unwind and maybe actually be able to communicate freely. With two caveats, that seems likely. First: I’ve only been drunk twice, so I don’t have much of a data set yet. And second: in neither situation was I around people I typically have in depth conversations with.
So… wait and see.
In the mean time… as I said… cheap drunk. Two rum and cokes.
*Why are ‘good intentions’ so seldom any good? Mine have done nothing but cause me trouble. I rather stupidly bitched out a friend last year, at a point where it seemed like every time I tried to do anything “right”, it would explode in my face. Note to self: the next time you consider doing or not doing anything “because it’s the right thing and will lead to less problems later”; just don’t fucking listen to yourself.
I haven’t tried to make New Year’s resolutions since I was in elementary school. And I’d surely break every one of them if I tried now. But I’m not going to try. It doesn’t fit with the way I handle those kinds of things.
But the New Year does make me introspective. Retrospective? Contemplative? One of those -ives. So in the last few days I’ve been thinking about how my life is going.
I am healthy. Compared to many of my friends, and most of my family, I’m incredibly healthy. I am secure. Living in a decent place. I’ve been running my own business for over 4 years, and making a living off it. And the number of ways that has changed my thinking for the better are innumerable. I have every toy I’ve ever wanted, and learned that I’m happier with less of them. In recent years, I’ve gotten back in touch with many old friends, and made many new ones. That’s probably the best thing on this list. And those friends and family let me take pictures. I don’t have “that 1 special woman”, but I do have so many women in my life that mean more to me than any of the past “1 special womens”.
And I have a cat.
I’m not happy with my life, because to me that implies being content. And I have way to many things I want to do, to be content. I am, instead, just very happy.
I’ve been drinking alcohol sporadically now for about 2 and a half months. The selection has actually been fairly limited, partly out of ignorance and partly out of opportunity. It’s been largely beer, wine, and cider, with a handful of mixed drinks. Overall I can’t say anything had the least effect on me other than some Margaritas drunk during the vice presidential debate. (Although it may have just been Palin that was making me feel a bit woozy.) Even that was just barely, really. I’m not particularly anxious (nor even worried about) getting completely smashed, or anything. (There is a kind of academic interest in seeing what effect it would have on my social skills, as that’s been a discussion topic for years, with other people.)
But if it’s normally having no noticeable physical effect on me, and the taste is only enjoyable about half the time so far, then what exactly is the appeal to drinking? Alcoholic drinks cost considerably more than soda and ice tea. And some people can’t seem to decide if they should be annoyed at me when I ask about drinks. I don’t think they can really grasp the concept of being completely ignorant of the topic.
That’s just it, though. I am — well, was and mostly still am — completely ignorant on the subject. How many things in life can you claim to be completely knowledge-less about, that are still very common and popular activities? This is actually exciting. Learning something new. And being able to do so anywhere, with anyone. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a whole new subject from scratch. Two and a half months, taking pretty much any opportunity that came up. (Don’t worry mom, it was surprisingly few). And I still barely even scratch the surface. And those people that decided I am being sincere seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of it as well. I think everyone likes passing on what they know… and this is a topic everyone knows. No matter what the disparity in knowledge, no matter what the lack of previous social interaction… this is something that always seems to connect. Imagine being able to try something completely new at almost every place you go.
Recently I told someone I had a crush on them. (no… not that person. nope, not them. No…. oh just give up, already!). Briefly, the night before I was gonna say it, I thought for a whole half second that maybe it was better not to say anything. It’s not specifically the potential rejection that worried me. Just that I love the stupid, giddy feeling that comes when there’s someone that you like. The feeling is just pure “good”, and there’s all the possibility and all the potential in the world. And no matter how it turns out when you finally tell the person, that feeling is gonna change. And for a second, I didn’t want it to.
I feel better. I deposited a couple big checks today. And given that it’s also the first of the month, which is when I normally pay myself, I took the opportunity to pay off my credit card, which is the only real debt I have. For years I had kept the balance down to nothing, by paying it off every month. (And relatedly, never getting an increase in my credit limit). But early last year, I got hit with a series of expenses, such as needing to replace my old laptop earlier than expected. And while it never even reached $4,000 at it’s worst, it still bugged me knowing that it was there.
But now it’s gone.
I took that picture above while I was just walking home yesterday. I’ve been here so long I very easily forget how much there is to this place. Almost any kind of travel refreshes my vision of the city. And I try occasionally to take pictures of that ‘bigness’, because I know enough people who don’t see it every day.
This is an open letter to almost every woman I’ve ever met. It’s certainly specific to every woman I’ve dated, and even several of my friends recently. It’s not for one specific person, but there are certainly several people it can apply to.
You simply don’t get to be upset that I haven’t fixed a problem you never told me about. Or more realistically… you don’t get to expect me to feel bad about it. I didn’t know it existed… I couldn’t even contemplate it much less solve it.
And no… “I should have known” is not acceptable. If you have a problem, it’s your responsibility to bring it up. And no; hints and insinuations and a cold shoulder are not acceptable substitutes. I, and from what I can tell – most men, simply do not get a hint. Ever. At all. Period. This is not an exaggeration. There are no exceptions. I mean any hint. EVER. Period. Zero. Zilch.
I’ll be the first one to agree I can be an asshole. I can be insensitive. I can be inappropriate. But if I am one of those things, tell me. Because if you hold it in and it makes your life hell in some way, and you come back to me weeks, months, or years later… I am not going to feel bad. And that’s only going to make you more upset… to which, I repeat… I won’t feel bad.
Most of the trouble I cause in my world comes from an inability to stop myself from talking. At least 95% of those instances revolve around me being agitated to one extreme or another about something. And while I well know I should keep my mouth shut when I’m worked-up, I’m not always successful. I could argue that most of the agitation is caused by someone else making inappropriate comments in a similarly excited state. But being occasionally unable to ignore such provocations–as you would expect from any rational person–isn’t something to be proud of.
I seem to be able to better handle it in business than my personal life. But then you won’t survive long in business if you take it personally, for various reasons, (mental health, upset clients, lack of objectivity, blah blah blah). And I’ve found that even when a client does go off the deep and attempt to take me with them, if I just keep quiet and wait a day or two, cooler thoughts will prevail without any intervention from me.
But friends and family have signed some waiver. They’ve probably seen me behaving like a jackass at some point, and still decided to continue talking to me. So my guard is down, my filters are off. While there’s still plenty of things I shouldn’t say, I usually don’t see them coming until they’re on the way out of my mouth. In extreme cases I’ve cut off any meaningful conversations with certain people, in order to avoid conflict. But I don’t like that, and it’s not friendship, to me.
I don’t have an acceptable excuse. I don’t have a solution. I’m still working on it.
Failure is being without resource or hope. You have nothing and nowhere. You’re not only homeless, but literally on the streets, with nowhere to go, and no one to turn to. And you have no idea what to do to make it better.
To me, that was always the ultimate worst outcome of failure. (Sure, you can argue death would be worse, but if I died, I don’t think I’d care any more about the failure aspect. And I’m looking for real suffering, here.)
Look at street people. Talk to them. Or, try to anyway. Most of the real, hardcore street people are not there because of a single bad turn of events in their life. Losing your job and getting kicked out of your apartment does not directly equate to peeing yourself and sleeping under a bridge for 15 years. I’m not trying to make any judgment call about these people except to say that they’ve usually got larger issues than a rough patch in life.
So barring extraordinary circumstances, no matter how bad the average, healthy person fails, they’re never likely to hit that perceived rock bottom.
The whole point of this is then to ask: if I simply cannot fail like I always worried, then what’s stop me from trying… anything? What have you always dreamed of doing, but you feared the worst? Well if the worst isn’t a possibility, then what’s stopping you?
Sitting in a bar in one of those moments where I have absolutely nothing to say to the person across from me, a thought popped into my head.
Through much of college and the early years of my life in DC — including and especially my last job — I dealt so much with dysfunctional, damaged people. People who needed more than they could return. People you constantly had to be there for, totally sacrificing yourself. People who had to hear that certain something from you or they would just break down.
Those are very tiring people. In fact, I’ve become less tolerant of them. I’m not very proud of that. It wasn’t intentional, but I just ‘saved’ one too many people, one too many times. And suddenly, while I would do my best to be supportive in any given moment, afterwards I was hard-pressed to follow through. From vast experience, I was an expert at knowing what such a person needed to feel stable, but it just wasn’t in me any more to try and save someone.
But life changes. I generally work alone, now. And the scope of friends I come into regular contact with has greatly increased. Either by divine intervention, luck, or just inevitable odds, I seem to be surrounded by ‘healthier’ people, who don’t constantly ‘need’. And I’m not really sure how to handle it any more. When did I forget how to just sit back and talk with someone; someone who didn’t need to hear all the right words?
I don’t want to be constantly supportive at the cost of my own life. It’s fucking exhausting. And in my head I have constant ideas, and desires, and plans. But … I don’t know any more how to talk about them to… a normal person.
So I get off the metro around 3 AM, and start walking up the street to my apartment. Not for the first time, but for the strongest in a while, I ask myself, “wow… what the fuck are you doing walking through downtown in a major city at 3 AM? you’re a redneck from nowhere. they look at you funny here.”
But then… I don’t really care how they look at me. Just wish more of the cute ones would touch me.
I’ve had serious urges to go back to my home town or some small place and live. Aside from the whole “things to do vs. isolation” argument*, I wonder why I’m where I am. Certainly on my last trip home, it occurred to me that while DC may be infinitely more complex and dangerous, it’s the devil I know. Confronted with a questionably dangerous situation in my home town, I was lost as to how to react. While I’m by no means “citified”, I haven’t lived in a truly small town since 1993. I think in my hometown, it’s more of that whole lord-of-the-flies, go-with-your-gut, redneck, survival-of-the-fittest thing. And I have no illusions as to where I stand under those conditions. Whereas most things in a city, even the bad things, usually involve a whole line of decisions. And when you over-think things as much as I do…
Ideally, I want to reside somewhere under “live and let live” conditions. But it doesn’t seem like those kind of places exist any more.
*New thought for me: Do you think maybe people marry younger in small towns simply because they’re bored? Or put less offensively… because to move on to the “next set of stuff” you do in small towns means being part of a family?
I went on my first bike ride of the year, today. This of course means I’ll be walking bowlegged tomorrow. But in the meantime, it felt good. Afterwards. When I’d had a chance to drink something. And breathe. Though the ride did actually go better than the last one I remember. May have had something to do with finally breaking out the WD-40. But I’m going to pretend its all about this tower of masculine fitness that i call my body.
I’m trying to decide something, though. Every time I ride down on the mall, the ride west always seems at least twice as hard as the ride east. And the change is so sudden that I can’t believe it’s always from taking the east route first. I think the southern path has more loose gravel and stone. It’s terrible for traction.
So I sat down by the tidal basin and read for a while. No more cherry blossoms. And hence, no more tourists. Really was nice out there though. Watched a storm pass over Fairfax and head south. This heavy cloud ringed in orange, with stretched, cottony strands connecting it to the ground.
Likewise, I didn’t feel like cooking last night, so I picked up a sub at Potbelly and ate it in Lafayette Park behind the White House. This park is, as they say, spitting distance from the actual building of the White House. It’s kind of nice. They generally keep the homeless people out of it. And there’s enough tree cover to block out the street noise. Of course, any time you hear about someone jumping the fence, or stabbing someone outside the white house, or pulling a gun, this is where they do it. But, you know, psychos can have taste, too.
But I’m sitting there eating and reading and looking around. And I have a thought that still frequently comes to me. It’s really hard to believe that I’m sitting and eating, a stone’s throw from, depending on how you look at it, the single most potent seat of power in the entire world. It’s hard to believe you can get so close. It’s hard to believe that it’s me who’s sitting there, so far away from the little redneck town in eastern nowhere, where I never had friends much less hope. It’s hard to believe that simple building over there can raise up men to another planet, or kill so many people right here at home.
Then some birds started squawking and having birdy sex on the grass in front of me.
A couple weeks back now, it was a minor news story because, depending on how you write your numbers, the time and the date were about to spell out 01:02:03 04/05/06. I’ve been lazy about writing this down, so I’m sure no one cares any more. But I have two responses to all the things I read about this phenomenon:
1. People said “this will never happen again”. More optimistic people pointed out, “this will happen in another 1,000 years”. I think you should all go and demand your money back from your school teachers. Unless I’m totally off my rocker, this set of numbers will happen in just another 100 years. And every consecutive 100 years, until we change the way we tell time.
2. Everyone and their mother’s poodle was saying that at the precise moment, they would stop and hold their breath, or look up in the sky, or cheer, or… . Why? Yeah… this is a cute novelty. But why does a coincidental label cause you to declare this a special day, worthy of effort and commemoration? What kind of sad life do you have when you don’t aim for that kind of special-ness every day?
Why has patriotism become a thing of war and conflict? Why is the word only brought up in connection with fighting soldiers and those in context with them?
About 3 weeks ago, I walked down my street thinking, that although it was bright and sunny, it was still undeniably winter. The sun was still harsh, and the air still smelled of… nothing. A week and a half later, and spring was here. The air is fresh, and the light is a bit more hazy. The tree in front of my windows has started to bud. When the leaves scorch under the sun to a dark, forest green, summer will be here again.
Went to see Walk the Line tonight, with Shannon, Ash, et co. Joaquin Phoenix really did an amazing job of mimicking Johnny Cash, right down to the smallest nuance.
Random fact: Once of the songs used in the movie, Dark was the Night, by Blind Willie Johnson, was one of the recordings included on the Voyager spacecraft.
Some of the story line was kind of getting to me though. Not literally, so much as relatively, in how it compares to my own life. Most of the time, lately, there’s been something just on the edge of perception that’s bugged me. Left me feeling slightly queasy. It makes it hard to work; hard to concentrate. I can still pound out the non-creative work with no trouble. But I can’t focus on the important stuff. And I haven’t done any personal artwork in a while.
The artwork, I can just find some time and do. And once I “do”, I’ll feel considerably better. The rest of it is a combination of things. Some of it is not doing the bigger things I know I should do, especially related to my business. The day-to-day is a hard thing to see past. And some of my problems are caused by several ruts I find myself in. And for both situations, the best way for me to react is a cold turkey change. I have to break my daily routines, and live with what’s best instead of what’s most comfortable. Comfort does nothing for me, but accomplishment gives me… ‘warm fuzzies,’ as that shrink said back when I was… 2… 3?
The only problem is that all those thoughts come in the middle of a movie out in the suburbs. And when I say “a sudden drastic change”, I mean sudden. While the movie was great, and there was no way I would walk out on it, every fiber of my being was telling me to get back home and change something.
Wow… I’m being… like… meaningful, and shit.
God I could go for some chocolate.
There are really times that I hate the world. Being mugged on my doorstep. Having some punk-ass fool threaten me when I go to the mailbox. Have people try to slam the door in my face while shopping, and then laugh. I hate the idea that I have to be on guard against other people’s pointless maliciousness; on a regular basis. The act, or threat, itself is not the problem, so much as the inability to do anything productive about it during or afterwards. It’s powerlessness. Not in the sense of weakness, but in the sense that there is no action you can or could take that would make a good outcome. And I don’t handle frustration particularly well.
I’ve talked much shit, in person and in this journal, about the strength necessary to work for yourself. The ability to even conceive of something so outside the social norm. The necessity of having the skills and contacts to implement any such idea. The intestinal fortitude necessary to deal with the overwhelming incompetence and bureaucracy you’re bound to face. The natural assumption—and admittedly most often result—of a successful attempt at controlling your whole life instead of just 16 hours of it, is a wonderful sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Like you’ve broken out and are now master of your destiny. But few good things don’t have a darker side to them. In what passes for one of my more sullen moments recently, I thought about what that control actually meant. My greatest fear since going out on my own has been failure, resulting in ending up living on the street. It’s not a fear I can simply ignore. The street very literally looms large in my life, just outside my giant bay windows. I cannot walk more than a block anywhere in this city without being pan-handled to by someone supposedly living on the street, with thoughts of “There but for the grace of some desperate clients…”. It’s a simple enough fear on it’s own; really not just limited really to people who work for them-self. But I think the limited—very limited— success I have had so far (knock wood) makes it all the more vibrant. I’ve proven that I can control my own life successfully. But the street is still out there. Not everyone who ends up there fell on hard times. Some people went there with conscious effort. The temptation is ALWAYS there not to do the more unpleasant tasks. Not to deal with the difficult people. Not to make the awkward calls. While I, and most people that would be considered mentally healthy, choose to live a cleaner, more peaceful lifestyle, complete control really means complete control. There’s no safety net… no business or social requirements that keep me off the street, anymore.
“Beware the dark side, Luke”
Morbid and ridiculous, I know. So I often pull myself away from the window with a bit too much force, and look at my apartment. And I think about how much crap I have. Things unnecessary to every day life. And if I ever did end up out of here, how much would I regret that DVD, or those new jeans, or… Certainly inspires some serious cleaning and purging binges. And makes me cringe every time I get a frivolous, meaningless gift.
I have no doubt I am seriously fucked up. But then… would I be better off worrying about mortgage payments and what Allison thinks of me?
Of course, when I look at my cat, nothing in the world can keep me from smiling.
*Editor’s Note: No… I wasn’t particularly depressed when I wrote this. I had intended to write many things that night, which had been building up over the holidays. But when finger was put to keyboard, that’s all that came out.
I don’t go more than two days, without thinking of something I want to write here. Some of them are so prolific and meaningful, that it almost makes me feel intelligent. Some of it’s just pointless crap that’s pissing me off. Okay… some of the pointless crap ends up in the “…bites” section below. But that’s what it’s there for. All those personally meaningless little thoughts or stories. Trying to preserve the real estate at the top for something more personal. But part of my problem is that I’m my own worst audience. No one could hate my work as much as I do. Wether it’s something I design, or some picture I took, or some words I wrote… as long as I know they’re mine, I’m incredibly harsh towards them. And often when I’m thinking about writing, it’s as I walk around town. In just a block or two, I’ll have an entire entry written in my mind. And even assuming I do remember it by the time I get home, I’ll already start picking it over, and editing it to death. My best writing is stream of consciousness. Thinking with my fingers, I guess.
I mentioned design. Yay, I’m a designer! Even started my own studio. And ya know… design is really fucking hard for me. Long before I get to the above mentioned critiquing of my own work… it’s hard. Somewhere along the way, my mind decided that when it’s time to be professional, my otherwise highly creative thought processes go pfft… out the window. I have an extremely hard time getting into the mental space where I can do design work, as well. And when I travel? Forget it. No work I’ve ever done on the road was worth shit. I’m just obsessive enough to worry about every project. Each new job means that every drop of my energy, concentration, and … you know… brain juice, goes into that effort, for at least 4 days. It inevitably ends with me staring at an email telling myself to press Send so that I won’t be able to make any more changes. And as soon as I hear that whoosh of an outgoing email, a 20 pound weight drops from my chest. I bounce up from the chair, smiling, and looking for something to eat and someone to talk to. (Unfortunately, my friends have real jobs, and don’t want to talk at 3 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning). If I can keep a string of design work going, it kind of eases up. I can stay in the mental place I need for doing that work. The ideas continue to flow. But once I’ve shut it off… I have to go to all the work again of getting back there.
God, I so much prefer being a manager.
This, folks, by the way, is one of the most beautiful women I know:
That is all.
Hmmm… since the Juliette and the Licks show… what have I been doing? When the hell was that show? Mid-October, I think. So there was Halloween, of course. Went to Autumn’s party early in the evening, followed by chiarOscuro around 11. Both parties went better than expected, with opportunities for me to talk to several people I don’t get to see anywhere near as much as I’d like to. Think I’ve finished my last painting, since then, as well. Well… mostly finished. Still some small details I want to touch up. May send it to New York when it’s done, since that’s where the unwitting models live. Went to the Uruguayan Embassy for an art auction by a friend of a friend. Jill visited last weekend. No change since college. Still a tiny little ball of energy crying out “love me!”. Her visit led to me seeing Regina and Raphael for the first time in 5 (!) years. They’re still way too fucking cute.
Lot of work. Not a lot of money. I’m tired. In, oh, so many ways. But still… I’m here. And that something to start with.
I’ve been watching them as they put an addition on the top floor of the building across the street. They’re about ten stories up, and roughly horizontally parallel to my front windows. And God how I would love to be up there with them.
Can you imagine the feeling of standing up there on top of the world with nothing around you? None of the safety nets and railings. None of the warnings and notices. In this town, were everything must be made new again on a regular basis, the rooftops are ignored. You can still see aberrations from the 50s, 60s, and seventies. Up there, there’s still glass-walled cooling towers and rooftop basketball courts, straight out of a Baretta episode.
I’ve been up there once before, myself. Not across the street, but down in Puerto Rico. We’d built the forms and watched them poor a concrete rooftop. I can distinctly remember sitting on the tarred portion of the roof, watching the cement dry. Looking out over the valley in the middle of the rainforest, knowing that no one else but the few of us up there had this amazing view.
It’s not a particularly sweet or pleasant job. It’s dangerous, dirty, and tiring. My father worked as a roofer many times while I was growing up. Most of my memories involve him coming home sunburned, with new scratches and scrapes, and tar melted to his boots. A couple times I worked cleanup, shoveling broken tiles from around the house into a dumpster. There’s some family bonding time you don’t see on the Pax channel.
There are times where’d I’d love to be up there, without politics, coming home tired from work and not stress. Knowing I’d just built something on top of the city, and never the exact same thing twice.
It’s a beautiful day.
I sat in Lafayette Park behind the White House, eating lunch and reading Cory Doctrow’s new stories.
A cloudless sky and bright sun was casting strong shadows through the trees. A powerful breeze only a few degrees cooler than the general temperature gave me that wavey-haired, 1980s-MTV-video look. Flocks of pigeons swooped through the walkways. Quiet people lined the paths, on benches and in the grass. The leaves covering the ground showed me that fall has started even if the trees don’t show it yet.
As I sat there staring at it all, I think the woman two benches down believed I was contemplating wether she would taste good with ketchup.
(Pictures to come.)
Have you ever been floored by the intensity of the moment you’re in? That feeling that there’s something so special about where you are, right then. It’s one thing to enjoy where and what you are, but it’s another to feel that your in a moment that’s unique in life.
I can remember this feeling happening to me twice in my life so far.
Throughout grade school, I went to camp each summer at Casowasco. So when the opportunity came to work there while I was in college, I didn’t hesitate. While this was no summer that changed my life, and I never met the love of my life who surely passed by me a split second too late, it was incredible. If you have any appreciation for nature, this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve found in North America. And it’s just used enough. Not overrun in an effort to squeeze every dime out of it. So it stays beautiful, even after months of campers. Working in the kitchen, I would get up before anyone else, and go down to the dining hall. Walking down a quiet, empty road in this beautiful place I was getting paid to live in for two and a half months.
That was the first time.
Friday night was kind of busy. I didn’t get to vegetate at home, as I usually would. There was a gathering after work. Afterward I went to dinner and the movies with a coworker and his boyfriend. About half past midnight, we were walking back from the theater. (note: Do not go see The Core unless you’re interested in Hillary Swank‘s “blow-job-lips”). It was a nice night, and we were walking up from an underpass, into Foggy Bottom, and the lights of Downtown started to appear over the horizon. And the last 10 years came rushing back to me in a split second. It nearly stopped me in my tracks. The sheer amazement, of how I can go from such meager beginnings in East Bumpafuck, NY, to find myself walking into Washington, DC after midnight with friends.
That was number 2.
I don’t have a point. And I don’t think this writing was especially good. These are just those unplanned moments that become marker’s in my life.
There are times where I manage to get outside myself. Where I can stop thinking about my issues, stop thinking about the things that are hurtling towards me. And even the things that are of concern to me.
Let’s face it, even those commercials asking you to feed starving children in Africa appeal to your desire to feel like you’re helping someone less fortunate than yourself.
I still think of myself as the boy from a small town; but I don’t know how real that is any more. I first noticed in college that I have a certain amount of adjustment time whenever my environment changes. For the first couple weeks of school, I was running into walls, tripping, and knocking stuff over. Not so much later, though, I was smoothly moving through the dorms, half asleep and half nekkid, with no problems. Now I see myself doing that in DC. I can really walk the street and feel like I belong there. Hell. Just the fact I feel anything but paranoia on the street is a major change, since I was assaulted.
I don’t know how to describe the feeling really. Very peaceful. Very alive. Very “just is”. According to the quote taped up to the wall over my desk, I guess this is happiness.
Is there anything on earth that smells better than the freshly washed and still damp women’s hair? I just wanted to grab the head of the girl in front of me on the bus and bury my nose in her hair. If ‘soft’ had a smell, this would be it.
Running a close second, of course, is fresh pepperoni. You sniff some fresh pepperoni and you know exactly why you’re a meat-eater. The flesh, the grease, the texture.
The books today are, in no particular order, Teenagers from Mars #’s 3 & 4; WildCATs Version 3.0 #4; Global Frequency #2; 100% #4 (fuckin’ finally!); Wolverine #183, Fight for Tomorrow #3; Wolverine: Netsuke #4; Uncanny X-men #416.
It is now, one month and counting, until BWM2003
Since I bought my new computer, I tend to sit on the end of the couch typing. From that position, I have a direct view of the flight path leaving Washington National Airport. Pretty regularly, a plane takes off from there about every minute or two. Thankfully I’m far enough away so that the only time the sound reaches me is when the weather is right.
Just yesterday I was on those planes. After a seven hour delay in New York, I finally got back from my thanksgiving trip,
I noticed I was feeling much the same as I did after my last trip to see stacey, at her graduation in May. I remember more about small town life than the lack of shopping. There’s definite atmosphere to those places. While there’s never a lack of stupid people, there is much more common sense and decency. I tend to come back a lot less angry. I walk through town on my way back from the airport, and remember like some bad dream the pent up stress and anger I usually experienced walking those streets on any other night.
A great deal of it is caused by the utter insanity I call my job. As anyone about their job, and you hear about the projects they’re completing and the clients they’re dealing with. But not at DKG. You simply hear about the problems that exist with other workers. It’s insane. The sheer, utter, petty, useless infighting that goes on.
I once again very much questioned why I am staying there.
The problem is that question leads to oh so many others. If I did leave, then what? Do I travel again, and if so… to where? Nearer to my friends, who may also move again at any time? To another big city, or small town, where I again know no one? Back to Rochester, which I admittedly loved at the time, but find hard to look back on as anything but a quiet little town anymore.
I wanna get back on the plane. I don’t care where it’s going. But when you’re sitting there in the airport waiting for your plane, all there is to do is read and watch the tarmac.
Do not go gentle into that good night
“Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
— Dylan Thomas
There are times I think about dieing. It’s not morbid. For most people, it’s a fact of life. And while I have every intention of living forever, I am forced to acknowledge there a situations I put myself in that are very dangerous. It’s like how I never worried much about violence in the city until I was jumped. My neighbors seem to be pretty cool people, raising families and enjoying their retirements. Except for the guy next door who occasionally photographed some porn, and eventually found himself chopped into little pieces. And while the least favorite part of my flights home to New York are the drives from the airport, I remember every time I step foot in the airport terminal that this is the city one of the planes took off from.
Goddamn, I must be bulletproof.
No. That’s not it.
I read something recently. That you truly own your life once you accept that whatever you do, your continued existence is in your own hands. That nobody is here to protect you. Even if they were… this is your life, not theirs. “Public Safety” is a ridiculous idea and a myth.
Ya know… this is my life. And I will damn well do what I want and need to do. I cannot live my life as if someone might come at me with the knife next, or set off the nuke outside my window. That would be obsessing about what could happen instead of what is happening,
When I leave this city, it won’t be visions of a mushroom cloud that make me do it. That cloud could appear before I press the next key, but there is nothing I could do to stop it.
If it comes, I will face it face-forwards. If someone decides to kill me, they will certainly be in barely better shape before I’m gone.
There is a great line; I think it is in Red Dwarf. Something to the effect that, “If the Grim Reaper shows up for me, I’m gonna bloody well rip his nipples off!”
I better post this now, just in case.
I want so much to be earnest.
I want so much to have something that makes my mind race and my heart pump. This apartment should be a mess because it has become a pit-stop between destinations, not because it’s become a nest to an invalid.
But nobody forces these things on you. You really have to just grab on and enjoy the ride.
But here I stand, watching the various streams of activity, trying to reason which one will lead me to the “most”. I know this doesn’t work. I really can’t reason this out.
Would someone please send a whirlwind my way, to sweep me off my feet? Oh wait… that is me waiting again.
I can remember being a kid and wanting to learn to do so many things. I wanted to learn to tell time, so I could get a watch. I really wanted to learn how to walk down stairs like an adult. The letters I got from my grandmother in Texas looked so cool, I would fake her cursive with a scribble.
I now walk everywhere without a thought, which explains why I fell on my face earlier today. I refuse to wear a watch, because I won’t be a slave to time. And I’m lucky if I hand-write anything, much less in cursive
I can’t remember the last time I wanted to be an adult.
I had a dream saturday night. Weekends are the only times I have any hope of remembering my dreams. Once the alarm wakes me on the weekdays, I forget anything that was running through my mind.
This time I fell in love.
I don’t remember her name. And the location was pretty fluid. My dreams tend to have all the realism of a Salvador Dali painting. But she was incredibly cute, with an evil grin. She did her best to take advantage of me.
If you think the worst thing in the world is to love someone and lose them, try falling in love with a dream. At least in real life you can go to sleep to escape the loss.
I have no strong feelings in any direction (other than to castrate the asshole revving his engine out on the street at 11 at night).
I am neither happy or sad, excited or bored. I’ve tried just vegitating in front of the television, but found I had to get up and do something. Of couse, I look around for a while and found I had nothing to do.
Man, I’m not even in the mood to download pornography. What is my world coming to?
It did just occur to me, that I seem to have broken out of my mood swings. I can’t remember the last time I was in a serious funk. And I haven’t been especially hyper or horney about anything in months. (Which isn’t to say my libido is dead… we’re talking a matter of degrees here).
I don’t know why, but this is a very good thing. I ccertianly wouldn’t say that I’m becoming mellow or anything. More like I am once again remembering who I am.
30 days baby… then I’m free. (After all, I’m pretty cheap already.)
Have you ever had a dream about someone so amazing, so beautiful…
that when you woke up, you were incredibly depressed to find out that they were not real?
It looks like it will be a beautiful day out. I turned off the TV this morning just to listen to the sounds coming in the windows. Cars rubling down the street, birds chirping, taxi drivers cursing.
This is the second time this week I have had this feeling. Where everything seems to be freeflowing. Most of the time, I feel little different than when I was in scchool, locked into schedules and appointments. Maybe it’s an early onset of spring fever, thanks to the weather. But I’m not going to complain. To feel like every step you take is somehting enjoyable, that you really want to do… how often does that happen?
We’ll see how long I stay in this mood. In an hour and a half I must report for jury duty. I’m gonna put some people in jail! (Am I allowed to send people to the electric chair?)
Oh, I’m tired. But it’s been toop long since I posted anything. Mainly cause I’ve been a lazy ass, and have gone to bed early all week.
Oh to hell with it. My mind is so shot tonight I caan’t even ramble. And I only intend to subject you to the highest quality rants. So tune in.
i dunno wether to be thanful or annoyed with my parents. my mother anyways. I grew up piss poor in a small city in the middle of nowhere. Of course, I didnt know it at the time. And even looking back now, we sure lived better than many other families in the same situation. But there we were… living $5000 a year below the poverty line.
So as a result, the idea of conserving money was long ago drilled into me. not so much conserving money, but being responsible I guess. It did me good when I was in school, scrapping by on every last penny i had.
It has gotten out of hand though. I had learned to save money, and any time I ‘splurged’, I would feel bad. This kept me from doing it too often.
Now though, I live on my own. And obviously, you pay for everything yourself when you live on your own. But I no longer feel bad just when I splurg on something. I feel bad everytime I spend money. So, my day to day living, the requirements of life, are causing me grief. Toilet paper should not be a moral dilemma.
Nothing anyone can help with. Nothing a therapist would be able to deal with. Just an irrational paranoia I have to get over with.
Yes…here I am again. Back by popular request. Sorry for the absence for all my regular viewers (both of you).
Thought I would try to think up something besides school and the job search to bitch about. Unfortunatly there isnt much else in my life right now.
So if not my life…how about my mind. Im sure its got to be good for something.
what is important to me. kind of a transendental type question i suppose. But actually, I know. I wanna have fun. I dont see any other point to life.. You ain’t takin nothing with you when you go. And history eventually forgets everyone. So I toss my ego out the window and just make myself happy. Come on, it’s the most enjoyable thing in the world for everyone.
I dont just mean playing around. I have fun when I am working too. I have fun just talking to people. I even (dont tell my mom) occasionally have fun cleaning.
Have a friend with a similar policy (I think). Sara tells me that the most important thing in the world to her is to smile. She never seems happier than when she s. And with as beautiful a smile as she has, I can see why. (Wanna see it?… Go to my photo section and look under the friends area)
dont worry… I promise next time to bitch some more. Gotta live up to that nick name.