What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gosling; Rarely

wrong Gosling...

“the Man that will make such an execrable Pun as that in my Company, will pick my Pocket”
–John Dennis according to an epistle written by Benjamin Victor in 1722

2 a.m. came with the caterwauling of two geese. I’m guessing the noise was a result of a fight they were having with a Bremerton raccoon. The prize for said was their eggs. I’m certain they lost, the geese. This is the nature of a Bremerton raccoon, they are not long on loss. They fight pit-bulls and Rottweilers for trash-can scrap lunch, in fenced yards, like a backyard cage-match. And they win. And this morning, a Sunday morning, we are deep into spring. Being on the business-end of Memorial Day weekend, I imagine that this time of year marks the salad days for the Bremerton raccoon.

Brief Aside: I’m not comfortable with the spelling of the word: raccoon. And I have no idea how to spell: brief, without the crutch of spell-check. I didn’t realize this until the raccoon became an integral character in this story. I am 43 fucking years old. My Vest Pocket Dictionary, prepared by the folks at Webster, is of little help. It does contain the word: rabid which is not ironic but it does strike me as counter-intuitive for reasons of comedy. Brief-adjacent, let’s move on.

The caterwauling was desperate but also a bit resolved to the idea that the geese were on the losing end of a battle for the survival of their line. They only get one shot a year. And they generally nest in the same spot every year. They’re territorial that way. And the blackberry bushes along the shore of The Port Washington Narrows are not easily protected from hungry raccoons. The geese lose this fight more often than not.

Maybe these are all clues to the ignorance of anthropomorphizing the geese and their actions, or lack thereof. But it must feel terrible to be so helpless in protecting one’s young. I would be terrified.
And isn’t all great parenting predicated, nay, motivated by fear? No? Okay…

When I was young, I can’t pinpoint the age exactly, but I remember the place, I was abused by a caretaker. Using the term caretaker in this context is both ironic and counter-intuitive. I’m aware.

Aside: I’ve tried to write about this abuse before. Several times. This is the point where I always lock up. I have countless unfinished drafts of this story. They all conclude with the previous paragraph…

…26 minutes pass as I watch the cursor blink at me disapprovingly…my stomach hurts.

The abuse wasn’t at the hands of my parents nor were they to blame. But when the events came to light and the dust had settled, it felt like I was being blamed. If not blamed per-se, I was never assured by my folks that it was not my fault. My entire life I’ve owned a portion of the responsibility for that violation. I still hoard some of it…jealously…

But this morning, in the cries of two roughly evolved dinosaurs, I heard the fear of my parents. The fear that I possess as a parent. The anxiety that these things happen, that some things can only be prevented in hind-sight with a DeLorean. I heard the cries of generations as they digest the horror that some predators cannot be stopped, that some bells cannot be unrung, and some eggs cannot be uncracked. Indeed, in a cruel world where: “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet” is a platitude, the cries of the geese were probably an annoyance to my neighbors as they were trying to convalesce from drinking heroic amounts of alcohol in celebration of remembering. But for me it was a moment of Zen. I was also recovering. My convalescing is quicker as I drink like a hero every day. A simple hangover was no match for my instant of clarity.

I am not protecting my kids reliably…

That was 2 a.m., it is now 5a.m. and the sun is up in earnest and people are moving. And I am tired. The kind of tired that sleep is powerless to remedy. I’m tired of struggle of survival of caretakers and geese and raccoons and eggs and omelets and kids and parents and cruelty and platitude. My fear is that rest is countless miles from where I sit. Miles not counted by my own weariness but by the blood and sweat that life requires of me, of us all. We got quotas to fill, kid…

But: for now…I’ll try…

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Human Dum-Dum

pats0 self-portrait

“I swear, gentlemen, that to be too conscious is an illness – a real thorough-going illness.”

–Fyodor Dostoyevsky Notes from the Underground

Bukowski once said something to the effect of: It was writing and the bottle that kept me alive…something like that. For a while, maybe a year…or two, I’ve been trying one half of that equation–vigorously. I haven’t really been writing a lot, and it’s a bit depressing. So I think I’ll try both halves and see how that works out.
I’m not sure why I set an arbitrary 1000 words per post rule. I think I do this to myself for nefarious reasons. I can’t be 100 percent sure. I can remember why I didn’t want to go over that number, but I can be under. This is me giving myself permission to do shorter blog posts. Clearly, this is a throw away paragraph and will not be in the final draft. What? How did you do that, you scrappy paragraph? Well, at any rate–I can’t stay mad at you, you rapscallion.
That last paragraph was a breach of the trust that we have built as writer and reader. And I apologize. This is obviously a blatant attempt at word-padding. And it is beneath us both. But you try and tell that paragraph to get outta here. You can’t; can you? I ain’t mad. Group hug: me, you, and the paragraph.
I recently quit my job. I tried to stay on as long as I could. That’s a lie. I could have stayed on longer, but things were getting dumber there and I’d lost my sense of humor about the entire mess. So, I gave them my three days notice and bounced. Generally, when quitting a job I give two weeks’ notice as a courtesy. But that is if I’m moving on to another opportunity. If that company was inclined to terminate my employment, they would not give me two weeks’ notice. They’d tell me to hand over my keys and leave the property. And I was less quitting my job than firing them as my company. So that’s a justification. But it’s an honest one. As honest as can be expected from the likes of me. This is our unwritten agreement. That made me giggle more than it should’ve.
The fact is, I came up with a philosophy years ago that follows–roughly: “There’s gotta be an easier way to die broke, and we all die broke”. I don’t know if it’s a life-hack or a rationalization. Either way, I’ve a propensity…possibly an addiction…for hitting the reset button on life. But, I’m not the one who made the button red and candy-like. You’re welcome, Ren and Stimpy fans the world over. This blog gets read in Korea, though I’ve little evidence that it’s gaining any traction in that time-zone. But I regress, daily. That made me a giggle an appropriate amount.
Of recent, I tried a thought experiment. I did it on accident at first, but then it became more deliberate. It happened on Facebook, the: “Boys of Summer” (Don Henley version) of the internet. I’d over-estimated the collective intellect of Facebook (I realize that people get offended when one questions another’s actions intellectually; I don’t like it either but as the great sage Lil’ Weezy is wont to quip: “I don’t go around fire, expectin’ not to sweat”.) I commented about Planned Parenthood in response to a hoax video that I’d already known as a farce (me and the rest of the interweb), that The Face had not come to terms with…or: with which Facebook had not yet come to terms. I do not mean to be vulgar. The baby parts “selling” video…it’s not real…Bing it, or Google it, or check out the front page of the internet: Reddit…it is fake.
My next post is about my interactions with some people whom I love. People with whom I can discuss a great deal of issues. But people who seem to have determined that the suggestion of Planned Parenthood–as a positive–communicates that you are pro-abortion. Which is unsettling for this pro-choice/pro-life human dum-dum…

That’s Me in the Corner

let it shine, this light of mine...burn it down...what?!?

let it shine, this light of mine…burn it down…what?!?

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” –Napoleon Bonaparte

I haven’t been here in a while. I’m sure my absence has not gone unnoticed. My hands can feel the lack of intimacy they once enjoyed with my laptop. They are fumbling and clumsy and my brain struggles with both recalling ideas and monitoring my two left, thumb-heavy, hands. Some topics are harder to live with than others. Every time I come to the thought of this post, I find something far more satisfying to think about. This is my rationalization, in a paragraph or less.

I’ve given you a summation of my faith as it was influenced in my youth. This post is about my own journey into Christianity.

Like all worthwhile things in which a young male can find himself entangled, my Christian faith began with a girl. More to the point: a girlfriend. Her sister–who was ten, or so, years her senior had taken her to a church service. When she returned home she called me in an excited state. She was raised Catholic-ish and this church was an entirely different experience from that. She had enjoyed her time at Family Worship Center.
Family Worship Center was an Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Bible-Preaching, Pentecostal-Leaning group of people who were, and still are (as far as I know), being manipulated by a portly, affable, charismatic man, and his family. I wouldn’t learn that for a few years. When my girlfriend called me she invited me to a meeting. Looking back, it seems to me that, given her excitement, a young me might’ve had a hard time turning down such an invitation. At that time in my life I sought any excuse to leave my parent’s house and hang out with my girlfriend. I had little trouble. The conversation ended in what could be best described as an adolescent tiff. Read: deeply unsatisfying.

After the phone conversation, my girlfriend and her sister prayed for me. This was revealed to me after I had reconsidered my initial reaction to her invitation called her back and accepted. My young mind had a hard time contextualizing this fact. Once I had given my life to God and asked Jesus into my heart, I put my girlfriend’s prayer in the “miracle” category. It was the first sliver of evidence that God had any interest in me. As I age I’ve come to realize that my reconsidering an irrational reaction to an invitation does not require divine intervention. I react irrationally then reconsider said reaction all. the. time…it’s how I roll, to use the parlance of the youth of a decade ago…

Boring. I started this post 6, or so, months ago. It felt like a good idea. I felt an obligation to explain something about myself. That obligation was made up…it was manufactured in my 41 year-old child’s brain, not to say I have a 41 year-old child. I, at the age of 41 (and into 42), have a child’s brain. Not to say that I extracted the brain of a living, healthy, and happy child and put it in a jar and added that jar to my collection of jar-bound treasures. I mean my brain is child-like.

I’m reading a book about writing a good memoir…I know it sounds like a circle-jerk, but it is a tad more satisfying, trust me. The author writes that the secret to recalling a memory is to hear the screen-door slamming. I agree with her: sound, or certain smells, or the mental image of the glimmer in a friend’s eyes are very reliable place-holders for memories. This is why I spent most of my twenties and the bulk of my thirties trying to forget most of those things. I hate letting all that hard work go to waste.

It’s like a detox…why would I want to detox? I spent a lot of money on those toxins. What kinda scam you runnin’ here, doc?

I regard my childhood memories like a street-person who has a vibe that can only reliably be described as: unhinged. I don’t want to be disrespectful, and as such, I want to acknowledge their presence. But I don’t want to lock in. I do not want to be the Hanoi landing-pad for their cerebral refugees.

My memories are like a distant cousin who went off his meds, against the wishes of everyone, save the voices in his head. In this scenario, I am me–nursing my third Ranger IPA because we are at a family reunion and I’m starting to catch a buzz and I need to keep my shit together (those of you who know me get that joke). The fresh beers are across the room–behind me, and I’m headed to the bathroom with one half of one warm IPA. My un-medicated cousin is standing on line for the same bathroom which originated my trip from being cold beer-adjacent to being loony cousin-adjacent. Then, he turns around and starts explaining the minutia of President Obama’s birth-certificate. And some things he’s been reading about Operation Jade Helm 15 on the web. So I’m stuck drinking a shitty beer and listening to things that I don’t believe or care about.

My childhood is like 9/11: of course I have questions. But I don’t want any fucking answers. You need to have your larger can in place before you start opening cans of worms like some kinda asshole–it’s just common sense.

So I’m not writing that post. Not now, maybe never…because I don’t have to. I went to Kaua’i to help build a Christian church community and during that time I realized: “I don’t give a fuck if anyone believes in the saving power of Jesus’ sacrifice”, because I don’t believe in it. It was just something someone told me and I believed it (and I mean, really believed it) for a couple of decades because it was a great distraction from life. At least it was for me.

I’ve gone into every situation thinking that it’ll work itself out. That is my resting face, life-choices speaking. That idea was never more challenged than when I went to Kaua’i as a church-planter and came home as a Deity-indifferent alcoholic. That shit did not work itself out. What the fuck, life? But life knows that I play the role of bully and victim seamlessly. I come by both honestly, and I’ve no predilection to apologize for either.

I do not regret going to that beautiful island-county, don’t get me wrong. I learned one very important life-lesson. I have no real sense of who I am. I don’t never know if I ever did. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing an impression of the person that the people around me wanted me to be. And I don’t know why that is. I know the blame falls on me. The onus rests on the individual to be said individual. That is true. But, why would I do the foot-work for a therapist who is destined to relieve me of a hard-earned buck or two? Or, mayhaps, I’ll die and it’ll still be a mystery. Either way, I’m no fan of spoilers. Let me enjoy the movie.

I am not a Christian. Nor am I a materialist. I’m comfortable with a reality that transcends my understanding. But, I’m not gonna try and figure it out. I figure that if that transcendent entity has an interest in me, it knows where to find me. If that happens, I suspect it’ll have some questions for me…I will have some questions too. You see: I’m a lover, not a fighter…but I’m a passionate lover. So, pack a lunch. Either way it goes down, calories will be burned.

One other thing, to nobody in particular, don’t give a person self-awareness and then demand that they deny themselves…that’s a dick move, bro…(or sis, ladies?)

That’s Me in the Corner: Prologue

courtesy of morguefile.com

courtesy of morguefile.com

“Look, as sentient meat, however illusory our identities are, we craft those identities by making value judgments: everybody judges, all the time. Now, you got a problem with that… You’re livin’ wrong.” –Detective Rust Cohle form T.V.’s: True Detective

I recently-ish received a text from a friend (I think) that read: “I just can’t figure out why you’d uproot your family and move to Kaua’i”. That was the gist. You know me, I don’t do research and I don’t remember quotes. I remember the general feel. I’m a wordsmith; I don’t need exact quotes. My answer to the text was dismissive as I felt that was the tone of the text-volley. But as I studied on it, I found it to be a good question. Not that the text was a question or even good. But it led me to a good place of introspection. The text would’ve been better if it had read: “Why would a person, of seemingly sound intellect and pure intention, uproot his family and move to a small island under the auspices of helping to start a church community only to return six months later with no allegiance to that church or any church whatsoever?” Now that’s a good fucking question. But that’s just one man’s biased opinion. And there’s a good answer. That may also be one man’s biased opinion. I can sleep with that.

This series is called: “That’s Me in the Corner”. It is in reference to the R.E.M. song titled: “Losing My Religion”.

There are those among you who may have a knee-jerk reaction to the term: “religion”. I get it. I know I’ve said in conversation: “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship”. I hope that is true for you. It turns out it isn’t for me. Were it a relationship, personal to me and my dear savior Jesus Christ, there would be no reason for me to be reprimanded for suggesting that–for example: the story of Noah wasn’t an historical narrative or for positing the idea that maybe Christianity isn’t the exclusive route to reconciliation with God, the God of the Bible. If there are people who feel obligated to hold me to a specific narrative concerning my rapport with one of my friends, in this case Jesus. I have a hard time parsing the distinction between a religion and a relationship. Maybe that’s just my ignorance. I trust you’ll forgive me.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

I’ll never forget my first interaction with the Evangelical Christian Church (I’m sorry if it annoys you, but I am going to err on the side of caution concerning capitalization in this post. I don’t mind offending with my ideas, but I’ll be goddamned if I’m gonna offend with semantics. Whether or not I’m goddamned for my ideas is an issue for another post. I will not be the author of that post.). My mother had involved herself with a para-church (a para-church is sub-set of the church proper which operates under its own rules…but that leash has its limits) organization called: Aglow. She invited one of her friends from this club to our house when I was tweenish. Her friend was a Spanish-Catholic woman named: Dora…I shit you no (which is Spanish for: not). Dora traversed our house in a tambourine-jangling holy-water-sprinkling one-woman parade-boogie. It was a cleansing. She even blessed my ZZ Top El Loco poster which featured no less than 100 pounds of weed in the foreground. My brother Ryan and I found this hilarious. It was a cleansing that I was glad my dad didn’t witness. Who needed that shit-storm?

My dad had his own ideas about how I’d relate to the babe in the manger. There was a stint when we had to go to an Evangelical-Free church (there is no reality where-in I could understand the distinction nor explain what Evangelical Free actually means…my best effort: boring as fuck) on account of the fact that his boss went there, and–I imagine–my dad felt guilty for one reason or another…at any rate: we had to go. The only upside: cinnamon rolls and hot cocoa at the Manchester Inn. Yes, that Manchester Inn. At that church I was forced to go to a Sunday Skool Klass. I remember having a sense of separation anxiety that I cannot, in my present state, justify and which seems laughable at this stage of my life. I can remember not wanting to go because one of the “students” was the first bully that I encountered against whom I gathered the courage to sucker-punch one day at recess. He was a dick to me…then I made him cry in front of our entire class. So that was awkward. One day, out of the clear blue sky (in the interest of full discloser on the ambiance tip, the sky was probably gray and precipitous), my dad decided that my Guns and Roses poster was “satanic” so he tore it down. The poster was a cross with the death’s head depiction of each of the band’s members lined up in crux fashion. You know, the cover art for the album: “Welcome to the Jungle”. This concludes my dad’s influence over me, spiritually speaking.

I’ve had my own forays into the faith. This is a prologue. The dirt is yet to come. I have nothing against anyone who felt it important to introduce me to Jesus, or encourage me into a deeper understanding of the gospel. I have also felt that compulsion. I still do, if I’m being honest. Which I rarely am. Leastwise, not compulsively. We’ll get to that…

Churchill’s Dog

You using that leg?

You using that leg?

“That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what is known as The Artist’s Reward.” –Ernest Hemingway

Churchill’s “Black Dog” is sniffing around my leg again. He’s not hanging around to hump it or piss on it. He’s waiting for me to be done using it. Then, he’ll pick it dry and clear the bone of marrow. Who knows what next, but my liver is well preserved so–if he’s smart–he’ll go for the heart. It’s not getting any softer, dog.
In the past, I would’ve kept this a secret for a while. On account of my shame. I’d have driven myself crazy imagining people drawing a corollary, or even worse, the direct cause of my depression being my recent religious conversion to: godless heretical heathen, or–what I call: reasonable seeker (6 of one and all that rot). I spent the bulk of my thirties both worshiping the son of god and being profoundly depressed. I medicated with prayer, pills, and lots of sweet, sweet booze. Nothing worked. And maybe the cocktail was to blame. But I’ve neither the time nor patience for armchair shrinkery. I probably have the time. But: time sans patience is a cruel trick.
It’s been a while since the dog has tracked me so tenaciously. I’m still mourning the loss of Kauai in a strange way. I don’t harbor the delusion that I could get back what I had when last there. But I haven’t felt “at home” since I got back to The Evergreen State. We were squatting at a friend’s old house and now we are house-sitting for another friend until this spring upcoming. The house is beautiful and I’ve always felt comfortable here, but it’s weirdly unsettling. Like playing house–with hubris. I have a new job. I think I can say without fear of hyperbole: I fucking hate it. And mayhaps that’s the crux of it all. With one caveat, I fear leaving this job will give me no reason to get up…no goal to employ the “one foot in front of the other” trudgery which is a wickedly effective salve to the soul. I’m too close to chance it.
The job is as Sisyphean as any I’ve had. I run a front-end loader around a rock quarry, digging out of various piles of rock. I then take those scoops of rock up a hill and dump them into a feeder that services a rock crusher. I am literally pushing rocks up a hill. I will grant you: it isn’t the same rock over and over again. But in a freezing December down pour when the entire quarry turns slick and purple–like animal husbandry–it is impossible to distinguish one rock from the other. At least from where I sit.
Worse still, is the complete lack of imagination shared by almost every one of my colleagues. Good conversation is a welcomed oasis. But it is every bit as deep and engaging as a mirage. I am a pretentious asshole. I own that part without loss of sleep (usually). I whittle the hours of my life there listening to podcasts and engaging in tumultuous inner-dialogue.
I work really hard to not carry that frustration home with me. But it is impossible. On good days I’m disengaged from the rest of the house. But on days when I am engaged I vacillate wildly between lashings-out and sullen apologies. And none of it feels real. It is all forgotten by the next morning. I wake up with a vague sense of failure behind me and more rocks and hills in front. Kristy has been my hero through it all. I nearly lost her.
I had come to fear that our trust was beyond repair. I was wrong. A definitive stance on such a topic when both bodies are breathing and willing is almost always: premature. But I’m no marriage counselor…you do what you like. I had a couple of friends do their best to help through that situation. I appreciated their help, but–in the end–I had to weigh the loss. There is no easy way to sum up twenty plus years of life. It becomes a gut thing at that point. Thank god for small miracles. Whatever that means.
I can say that there was one standout text that I received during that time. That time when I was scared and confused about what the right decision was for the future of myself and my family, whom I love. And I am aware that there are those among you who feel as strongly as anything that there is no confusion to be had in the face of such a decision, to you I say: I envy your self-assurance…I’ve never had it. But this text was as succinct as it was dismissive. It read: “I heard the news; disappointed man”. That may not be an exact quote, but it contains the exact sentiments from the text which originated 2-sometimes-3 time zones west of Bremerton. One: the qualification of “the news”, he hadn’t heard it from me, I’m not sure how many sources he’d consulted, but–nevertheless– it was “the news”. And Two: disappointment, the bastard-child of outright condemnation. The term: “disappointed” carries not the authority of its unavailable father, but it knows how to appease its father without over-stepping its bounds. “I lack the authority to condemn you, but good luck trying to parse the difference within the distinction, asshole”. Message received.
I had hoped to end this post with an heroic assertion: “Fuck it, I’m quitting my job!”…that’s not happening. As I write these final words, it is 8pm on a Sunday night and I’m staring down the barrel of a dismal, albeit short, but dismal week…shortish: half- day on Wednesday–that’s Christmas Eve. Santa’s Birthday I get off, that’s Thursday. But then I work all day Friday and 6hrs on Saturday. So–yeah–shit-storm week. With no end in sight. But, after talking to my friend Matt, I realized that my job is not the problem. It is not the solution. But neither is quitting said. The problem is adjustment…I’m not adjusting well, and quitting my job would be useless and reactionary. I have no problem with being reactionary. But I despise being useless.
And to the dog: find another leg, motherfucker. I’m still using this one…

You May Be Right

This is called foreshadowing, folks...

This is called foreshadowing, folks…

“The unexamined life is not worth living, man” –Demetri Martin

It has been since March last I darkened this particular internet doorway. Apparently having fun is no reliable bridge-troll on one’s path toward the flight of time. But there has been some fun, kiddos…fear not.
My family and I have moved from the Garden Island to the Emerald City (Emerald City adjacent) after only lasting one half of one year in paradise. I guess we’re just purgatory types; who knew? I have yet to determine whether or nether the leaving of the Island County of Kauai belongs in the W (win) or L (loss) column of life. My honest suspicion is that it’ll land in the WGAF (who gives a fuck) column. This is a column reserved for the score-keeping of existential crises too complicated to solve in the years I’ve been allotted. It’s best just to move on. Mayhaps I’ll revisit the issue.
I had hoped to get more writing done during my time in Hawaii, but like my friend Matt says: “There’s a reason why the folks from island paradises didn’t take over the world” (do not allow the quotes to fool you, that was a paraphrase…a poor paraphrase). The point being: warm, satisfied, happy people aren’t long on lofty ambition. Those ambitions are best left to cold, white, sexually repressed folks–you know–like they got in Europe. And he is right. It is rare when Matt is wrong about such. I did manage to get some writing done for the natural foods store where I was employed for the bulk of my stay. I was the lead copy writer and editor for the blog that accompanied their website…our website. This was and is no small source of pride for me. I even wrote this post which inspired a woman to tears. She shared this moment with me while I was ringing her up at the counter (I was also a cashier, and a shift manager, as well as a closer. But I’ve already bragged about that position so I won’t bore you) having no idea that I was the post’s author. This was the single greatest highlight of my writing career to date. A close second, my meeting Walt Morey–author of: “Gentle Ben” and “Run Far, Run Fast”–when I was in grade-school. He also authored: “Sandy and the Rockstar”, but at this point I’m showing off–sounding like all of the other needy and desperate Walt Morey groupies or “Morey-Whoreys”: as we are wont to call ourselves. At any rate, it was huge for me.
While on the island, I made a grip of great friends and three of the best friends a boy could want. The final reckoning of a short history of all things me might reveal that I lost more friends than I gained during that period of my life. I face said with no regrets. But, again, the numbers aren’t in.
Jesus and I broke up while I was there. That makes it sound like an event. It was not an event, it was a series of events, spanning somewhere between 5 and 10 years. The chronology is squirrely(It’s a squirrel!). We still love each other. I’m just not apologizing for things about which he’s never considered. Also, I’m not constantly pestering him to put in a good word for me with his old man. My indifference toward god has been a source of consternation more for his (or her, ladies?) followers than for the actual being who seems to be unaware of my disbelief…much like my prior belief. More on this up coming.
Tangential Aside Alert: I think, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that “facial scrub” model is the toughest modeling gig out there. Have you ever noticed that these heroic women are rubbing what amounts to sand all over their faces whilst smiling ear to ear? Practically beaming, really. I use an apricot scrub to promote the radiant glow of my pallid, Irish, pock-marked crater-face. When I use this scrub, I imagine myself looking like Gilbert Gottfried. Like Gilbert Gottfried receiving a prostate exam. From a gigantopithecus. Like a gigantopithecus somehow mustered his (or her, ladies?) way through med school and somehow through an horrific karmic tale of woe became the family practitioner in charge of Gilbert Gottfried’s prostate exam. And the ape has an OCD habit of needing to use two fingers. No one knows why this is, but most suspect it’s on account of Aladdin. This is how I imagine my face looks while using an abrasive facial scrub. So, yeah, those ladies are pretty much heroes…suck it, fireladies (or men, fellas?).
I’m not sure what is to become of this blog. I may be over it, and you might be too. I’m not sure. I’m still writing the short-story from which I shared the first two chapters on this very page. But I will not be posting the ensuing chapters here. I plan on finishing it and handing copies out to some folks (who may be tortured–your play, Obama.) for their frank and intelligent consideration. It just seems like a more productive plan.
So here we are. If you are disappointed in my lack of prolifery (not to be confused with pro-lifery…I’m not anti-life either–don’t get the wrong idea–I love life, mostly. rather this is a modification of the term: “prolific” with which the human language mill has yet to ketchup), I am truly sorry. I did not see this coming either. But we are moving forward. The muse, she mumbles and–when I am not being a lazy pile of waded shit-stained toilet paper–I listen, usually. But hey, you know what they say, progress and some other stuff…

It’s Been a Minute: But Fear Lightly

smile and the whole world in his hands...

smile and the whole world in his hands…

I’m still working on chapter 3…My brain produced a new plot element that has to be included in chapter 3.  This called for a re-write…after an existential melt-down…forgive my stating of the obvious, won’t you?

It’s been tough…this adventure to the garden isle.  I’m having a hard time finding my rhythm.  Especially with regard to writing time (the time I use to write, not time that I’m writing…I don’t write time, I just act like I do…I’m aware).  I was telling my friend that this was the hardest button to swallow.  He said it was worse than I thought because now I’m mixing metaphors.  He was right.  It is rare when Matt is wrong on such.

So read the first 2 chapters and comment.  I will be using the comments for editing when I write the second draft for publishing.  We are gonna get through these dark days like we always do: together with liberal amounts of hyperbole and hubris…Mahalo

Live Free or Break Hard: The 4th in a Series: Breaking Hard is Up to Do

My possessions...

My possessions…

“Your part can be the king, but unless people are treating you like royalty, you ain’t no king, man.”  –Jeff Bridges

We’ve moved in to our new place.  Our stuff is shoe-horned in to a cottage-like 800 square foot ohana-unit.  An ohana-unit is an addition to the main house…sort of like a mother-in-law house…it can be attached or not attached…ours is attached.  Essentially it’s a duplex that doesn’t play fair.

I show up to check the place out, having taken possession of the keys.  I meet my neighbor.  He tells me he is the rightful heir to the throne of Hawaii…or Kauai?…it’s complicated.  He tells me that on his grandmother’s deathbed she prophesied that he would be the man to take the throne, ushering in the new iteration of the kingdom of Hawaii.  I posit that when said happens he will wish he hadn’t received so many shitty tattoos.  He is a large Polynesian man…so I posit this silently, to myself.  I am in no position to piss-off the future heir.  Beyond that, there is some doubt in my mind concerning the king’s mental stability.  He tells me that he owns half of Oahu and the bulk of Kauai.  He tells me he is a Tahitian pearl dealer who travels often.  He tells me that the government tried to take his life when he lived in California so he fled to Lihue.  He tells me that the local government is afraid of him when he darkens the doors of council meetings.  He tells me that he is a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army.  I believe that last bit to be true.  As for the rest–I’m skeptical.  I treat him like the king of Hawaii.  There is no shame in bet-hedging.

I have a new job working as a “closer” at a locally-owned natural food store.  The “closer” position is quasi-janitorial.  I work, for the most part, while the store is still open preparing the place, for the final hour after closing, to mop the entire store and put all the furniture and implements for the following day’s events in their place.  I know, it sounds glamorous…because it is.  I’m not going to insult your collective intelligence via the assertion that I don’t want to sound braggy.  I love to brag.  But, in all seriousness, I do love my job.  The work is honest, and my co-workers are super-nice.  Like: I’m-being-punk’d-level nice (to “borrow” a Daniel Tosh-ism).  The customers are nice, for the most part.  There exists a small faction of passive-aggressive, angry hippies.  Natural food stores have a way of creating said.  The evil hippies are a manageable inconvenience.

The job awakened muscles long dormant.  I have an unhealthy relationship with sedentism…it’s abusive, really.  I also started collecting bruises on my arms like merit badges celebrating my ignorance of physics.  I tend to treat the implements of any job that I do, even the simplest machines, as though they are the guards of my imprisonment.  Because they are.  I shove them around, unaware of the path of least resistance, choosing–instead–the shortest looking path, and abusing my person in the process; until I am riddled with bruises.

TANGENTIAL-ASIDE ALERT:  There has been a ton of ink–and no inconspicuous amount of imagination–wasted on the concept of machines, having gained sentience, taking over the world and ruling humans like heartless over-lords.  Needlessly complicated much?  Machines rule over us sans self-awareness.  Not because they’re clever, but because we place so little value on self-awareness.  A man watches his favorite show on “his” television.  During a commercial break the T.V. tells him that it is a piece of shit and that he should get a new one.  “The T.V. makes a valid point,” thinks the man.  “What am I–some stupid monkey that happily watches an inferior television?!”  “I’m fucking better than this!”  The new T.V. tells him his phone is a piece of shit.  The new phone tells him to plug it in.  “I’m starting to lose my motivation…I need to be fed,” it whines.  “Plug me in then we can go get a new car, you know, one of the ones in which you can control me from the steering wheel…we deserve that much.”  The new car is now in on the racket.  “I need new oil, and you really shouldn’t wash me with such an abrasive detergent.  What the fuck are these, stock wheels?  The idiots at the factory put these on, you’re smarter than those idiots.  Aren’t you?  Of course you are.”  You get the point: machines rule us and they’re simpletons.  Just like us.

At any rate, I do not play well with machines.  It is an injurious shortcoming.  I’m working on it…slowly.

I’m not outdoorsy.  This has only become more evident in Kauai’s immodest setting.  She just keeps trying to get my attention and I give her none…well, very little, to be honest.  I play the unimpressed house-wife to her needy, preening husband.  We are more comfortable with our roles than we care to admit…at least I am.  It feels like a character flaw, not going to the beach every chance I get.  Because it is.  But, it is one of my least obtuse flaws.  It affects me alone–generally.  I have been to the beach around a half-dozen times.  Over the span of thirty-ish days, that’s not bad…for me.  My family love to be outside, so I try my best…I try the best I’m willing to try, which is decidedly south of my actual best.  I try…kind of.

The most popular question asked of me is: “Where are you from?”  Quickly followed by: “I’ve heard the Seattle area is beautiful; why would you want to come here?”  I tell them that Seattle is beautiful…that it is like the super-popular cute girl everybody loved in high-school…gorgeous and vapid…who inexplicably goes through a goth period.  Now, granted, the goth version of this girl is way more interesting to talk to, and we love her intensity.  But nobody wants to have that heavy a conversation for three-quarters of the relationship…it’s about balance, folks.  This description is followed by blank stares and uncomfortable chuckles.  For a second, I am the goth girl.  And it feels delicious…

Pacifism: My Passing Fancy

"Kitten Thinks Of Nothing But Murder All Day" --Headline: The Onion

“Kitten Thinks Of Nothing But Murder All Day” –Headline: The Onion

“From pacifist to terrorist, each person condemns violence–and then adds one cherished case in which it may be justified.” –Gloria Steinem

I’m a bit of a pacifist.  I can admit it.  I say I’m a bit of a pacifist because I still deal with really violent thoughts–with almost no provocation–most of the time.  The other day my family and I were sitting in a restaurant, enjoying our respective meals, when this man and his mother walk in (at least I hope it was his mother, she could’ve been a Cougar who was misinformed about the proper shelf-life of said behavior, but I digress, the “mother” wasn’t the issue, the man was).  He was a ruddy and rotund man with the fashion sense of an irony-impaired Bruce Vilanch.  But–beyond that–he walked with a swagger…the kind of swagger you might expect from a hunter who just dropped an animal large enough to feed his whole community.  This guy’s accomplishment was finding a well-promoted dining establishment.  He was so fucking proud of himself for conquering a task that could be achieved by a 5 year old with a smart phone.

I wanted to punch him as soon as I saw him…I mean really punch him…like when you think about punching someone, but instead of a solid punch after which the guy (or lady; I’m not sexist…ladies?) falls to the floor and stays there, this punch (the hypothetical punch I’m imagining in this moment) goes right through his skull…all the way through…entry wound…exit wound…the whole bit…and he’s just suspended there looking at me like: “What the fuck just happened?”  And I’m looking at him like: “I just happened…I’m what the fuck just happened…that’s me.”  Then I pull my fist back through and he just drops to the floor…and maybe seizes-out…I don’t know…the details get cloudy at this point…but in the end he’s lying on the restaurant floor with his brains marinating in a grayish-pink puddle.  I don’t know where that thinking originates…I don’t know why I was thinking that…but I do recognize, if I’m being honest, it is…decidedly…un-pacifistic…

Pacifism is not a popular life-choice…it makes people uncomfortable.  I have a friend who calls pacifism boring.  He’s, of course, right (they are rare moments, when Matt is wrong)…it is kind of boring…there is no conflict in pacifism…there is no hero’s journey in pacifism.  Nobody wants the Incredible Hulk to come out and give a quick lesson on resolving conflict with our words.  I guess the pacifist version of the Hulk is a calm and peaceful Bruce Banner, so yeah, case in point: boring!

The argument that I can’t understand–to be honest it makes me want to skull a body–is that pacifism is a utopian construct that’ll never work.  It is as popular as it is intellectually lazy, the sentiment: “Oh yeah let’s all get together and talk through our issues and get to understand one another and hug and it’ll all be okay.”  I’m not advocating unfettered hugging, but the rest is exactly what pacifists are asking we try.

All we are saying is give peace a chance (I borrowed that from somebody…either Jesus, or somebody bigger?).  Give it a chance.  Is that unreasonable?  Let’s get down to it.  We’ve tried the other way for thousands of years now…over and over again shedding blood over the most insignificant issues wrapped in the most manufactured minutia…so committed to the concept of force are we that in the U.S. we spent around half of a century in an arms race supposedly meant to aid in the peace process between two super-powers that actually nearly bankrupted one and left the other with such a hunger for war that it now goes out and manufactures reasons to pick a fight.  “Iraq aided Al Qaeda…no we meant they had terrible weapons with which they meant to harm the west…no what we meant was Saddam was an asshole.”

It’s true Saddam was an asshole, but who isn’t?

I can’t wait for the day when a President declares “open-season” on all of the asshole leaders in the world…then he (or she…ladies?) is sitting there, proud of the announcement they just made when, all of the sudden, a well-armed murder of troops storm the oval office and the president is like: “What the fuck guys, I didn’t mean all the assholes…I meant most of them.”  Then she (or he…fellas?) is carted off and hung…

Whatever–the point is: we’ve tried the non-pacifist way…we know it doesn’t work…it never has.

So why not give the other way a shot?  If it doesn’t work you guys can tell us: “We told you so!”

You guys love that shit…

On the Art of Survival: One Incompetent’s Opinion

and then they were gone...

and then they were gone…

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” –Aristotle

Anybody seen these shows on T.V. that highlight end-times preppers?  I could never be a prepper, I don’t have the attention span survival requires.  I learned this sad fact while playing Call of Duty 8: Revenge of the Whistleblowers.  It’s a game where-in your character sits in a basement hacking NSA Agents’ twitter accounts pretending to be them and apologizing to their wives for made-up affairs…I know; it’s convoluted.  Anyhow I was sitting there playing about half-way through mission 3: “The Regression of the Phoenix” when I became very bored.  I wasn’t in to it.  It was too much.  And that’s me sitting in my comfortable living room, on a couch, beer within arm’s reach, a toilet just a pause click away, heat, electricity, every creature comfort imaginable.  I was out.  That’s when I thought to myself: “I’m just not cut out for this sort of thing”.  I was born to live in civilized environs.

Who are these people that fetishize the breakdown of society?  What do they have against a heated Japanese toilet with sphincty-rinse?  Who are these people that jump to the idea of revolution at the mere utterance, a muttered utterance, a mutterance (that’s mine), of gun control.  When was the last time you used a gun for something important?  Because I use ice-cold beer and hot and cold running water every fucking day.  Think about what you are sacrificing.

So impatient am I with the concept of survival that I warn anyone who gets into a car with me, before we set out on the journey, that if there is even the slightest car accident and one of them dies, or is knocked unconscious, that I would begin eating them within 15 minutes–tops.  I’ve seen survival stories where people wait days before eating the dead among them.  What is the point?  You’re merely delaying the inevitable.  If we are in trouble and we’re unsure when rescue will arrive I know that I’ll be eating well…and I don’t mean your thigh or ass…I’m going sweet-breads.  For me it’s all about the heart and liver…maybe some brains.  15 minutes that’s my threshold…I don’t care if I hear sirens in the distance…they might not be coming for us…they might not even be real, for all I know they’re a product of my brand-new-concussion-reality that I just received as a gift from the dashboard.

I have a friend who is into this survivalist thing…I mean deep.  He has all of his stuff ready to rock…he has, what they call, a “bug-out” bag; which is a backpack loaded with the essential supplies needed to get to somewhere safe and plot your plan to free the lemmings from the surly shackles of tyranny.  I don’t know all of his plans…preppers are cagy.  But I was with him one time while he was making this bracelet…it was super-cool looking…it was made with braided cord like: three and half million feet of it.  He was braiding it by hand and I asked him about it and he told me it was a survival bracelet which is basically a really convenient way to carry a shit-ton of cord on your person.  It was clear from that encounter that I wasn’t built for survival…on a mental level.  He was sitting there making a bracelet for a pretend day that might never come, and he looked so happy.  He looked like a grandmother knitting a new hat for her granddaughter.  I mean, I think the inner-dialogue was different.  Where the grandmother might be thinking of cold days made cozy with the tender love of grandma’s hands, my buddy was probably thinking about choking out some zombified despot who had the misfortune of stumbling upon his forest-compound, and now my buddy thinks the zombie-wanderer is after his powdered eggs.

And that’s the rub isn’t it?  All these people who are preparing for the end of it look upon people, who haven’t gone to the same lengths of preparation as they have, with disdain.  They think things like: if you aren’t prepping, you’re already dead.  They justify abhorrent behavior, like killing people who have found their hide-out.  So if shit really does hit the fan even at a fraction of the velocity survivalists expect, the earth will be left to re-population by hyper-vigilant, hyper-paranoid assholes whose view of humanity is just a tad bit more hippy than Stalin’s.  I mean if you really want to see if survivalists could rebuild society, you need only put Alex Jones and Ann Coulter in charge of a compound with a population of about fifty like-minded people and see how that works out…I think that’s a very apt simulation…I’d love to see that…there is a reality program that I would feel comfortable calling: “Preppers”.  Just a cross-section of humanity calling each other sheeple and screaming at each other to “wake up” and “face reality”…I figure: “do the math” would be an oft used assholism in that show (this is a pitch by the by, I’m talking to you: Jeffrey Bewkes, and Leslie Moonves.  This is a CW vehicle, to be sure).

That just leaves me wondering: what’s the point?  You work your ass off to survive really horrible shit so that you can be stuck with a bunch of emotionally broken people for less than a generation before society implodes again…and the concentration of crazy is just going to become thicker and thicker…and the gestation period of chaos shorter and shorter.  I’ve seen the exponential rise of crazy on reality television…we all have.  I remember watching the first Real World on MTV and thinking how crazy it was to film the human equivalent of putting two small crabs into a Dixie-cup.  Fast-forward like ten, or so, years and you have Jersey-Shore which is nothing more than an exponential power-up of crazy version of the Real World…an explosion of lunacy that even the most jaded and cynical television exec would have to admit: “I did not see that coming”.

And that is us.

Just a bunch of human crabs stuck in this Dixie-cup fighting over beans and rice, becoming less and less human until our devolution becomes so complete that all that remains is a single-celled organism that splits and kills the other…just a lightning flash of life and death undetectable to the naked eye over and over into perpetuity.  What is the fucking point?

I’m a bit of a prepper myself.  I have my bug-out plan.  Currently, I’m testing various syrups to see which flavor is most compatible with the barrel of a pistol.  Because, even though I know I’ll only have the gun in my mouth for the blink-of-an-eye period one needs to squeeze the trigger to its perch, I do not like the taste of metal.  Plus: I have a strong gag reflex.  It is my strongest characteristic.  Like I said, I’m just not cut out for that sort of thing…

I’m too soft…