Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vanity Affair

There has been a sudden attrition in my postings because a lot has been on my mind and I've been too exhausted to elucidate much of anything. Earlier this week I deleted the Facebook app off my phone because it was becoming a terrible habit and only caused me to be more stirred up with all the bullshit people post. Introspection and self analysis are difficult to perform when you are distracted by a million things around you but as the noise has died down I'm finally finding some clarity.

When I finally got out of my parents house and had freedom I have been driven to accomplish something with my life. Now a decade later, I'm worn out by being rebuffed so many times by the obstacles my childhood created in my path. In a way the adamantium leg shackles have been a blessing in disguise; they have forced me to slow down and analyze the shit out of my goals and their motivations because with everything being such a slog I didn't want to put effort in the wrong direction. All living beings have a hard wired need for safety but as humans our memories, feelings and the concept of the future many times turn into a struggle to feel in control. I'm not a trained psychologist but I've read enough and analyzed myself and others enough to know that most people who have detrimental behaviors are trying to simply calm their brains down and feel safe. 

One major way people find safety is attempting to feel significant in society. I read this article (http://www.hb.org/do-not-be-controlled-by-your-need-to-feel-significant/) yesterday and it resonated with much of what I've been thinking. As I've analyzed many of my desires and pursuits, I've discovered that up till now nearly all of what I strived for was tied to the need to feel safe/in control/significant. Because our world is fucked up, most people are chasing something that eludes them like a mirage. This is where the "all is vanity" phrase from Solomon comes to mind. I always hated hearing that as a child because it was bandied about many times in the context of "worldy pleasures" promoting the idea that you should be of "sober mind" aka a fucking buzzkill. Now I'm seeing it from a different perspective that is helpful and hopeful. 

All pursuits, if done for any reason but pure necessity or simple enjoyment, are vanity. Two people can do the exact same thing but one is doing it for approbation while the other person doesn't give a rats ass who sees or knows. It's not the activity but the motive that is what makes something pointless or vain. Finding that peaceful state of mind in anything other than accepting a few truths is impossible. 

First you have to accept the fact that happiness comes from within and is contingent on nothing but your mental state. 
Second you have to accept that no matter how powerful you become in the world, you will still be out of control of a lot. The only guaranteed things in life you can control is what actions you take and your reactions to others. 
Third you must learn to accept yourself. This is hard if you don't feel safe because subconsciously the two are linked. If you don't trust yourself, it's probably because you don't believe in you or like who you are. Externally you don't trust others either because of bad experiences and / or you don't feel you are worth their love. 

Much of humanity is having a dissatisfying love affair with vanity instead of courting themselves. Yeah I've hung out with some famous, rich, powerful people, I've done some cool things, been some cool places but they mean jackshit in the grand scope of life and happiness. Be passionate, but for yourself. If there was not another soul on the planet what would you do with your life? We don't get much time on earth and it is a tragedy for anyone to spend it investing in a trollop named Vanity.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

On the Edge

Morning breaks upon a form atop narrow precipice
A day spent striving not to fall, not to fail
Beautiful panoramas proffered but ignored
Attempting perfection, pleasures spurned
A prisoner guarded by motionless butterflies
Exhausting effort exerted, stoic stillness
Fear of fluttering wings, consequences unknown
Tired eyes stare, willing minutes to forever pass
Secretly wishing nightfall, for nothing, for peace
However, if dawn returns bringing the same fate round again 
May erstwhile day be remembered
Though the ground seem far away and surrender unconscionable
Flying is only learned by at first letting go and falling. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thanks For the GloMar

A lot has been stirring in my subconscious as I shed more and more of the ideas that I grew up with and also actually get a chance to grow up. My parents expected me to act like an adult but treated me as a child when it came to making decisions for myself. Arrested development makes for some odd and uncomfortable reactions to things as an adult because you never learned how to handle situations properly. Probably the biggest fear I have which creates a constant baseline of anxiety is that I will be abandoned by the people I care about if I do something wrong or, for no reason at all. After a lot of introspection I realized that growing up I believed that if I had refused to obey my parents they would have tried to beat me into submission and if that didn't work they would have kicked me out or signed me away to some fucked up religious organization. I also believed that if I ever did something worthy of legal repricussions (like drugs) they would have called the police to come get me. One day when I was about 10 I had enough of my mom being cruel to me and screamed "I hate you". When my father got home from work that evening he pulled me aside and said "if you ever say that again you can find a different place to live". 

I only have that one concrete incident (and the knowledge that it was okay to stone rebellious children in the bible) I can call back on as a basis for my fear so I have questioned whether I created this anxiety in my own mind. That was further compounded after I shared these feelings with my girlfriend and she said "that's ridiculous. Parents wouldn't do that nor can they legally abandon you". The only way I have been able to calm myself down is to meditate on the idea that I will be okay no matter who I lose in my life. Telling myself "so and so will never abandon you" doesn't help because I know that nothing is guaranteed or completely safe in life. 

If my brain is the origin of this paralysis then why can't I just shake it off? I finally decided it was time to just ask my parents how extreme they would have been. Last night I made the call and posed the question to my mother of how far they would have gone. I understand that it's hard to know exactly what you would have done in a situation years later but basically she GloMar'd me - "I can neither confirm or deny because I'm not there now". I was hoping she would have said "no, we would never have done anything that extreme" but she said "we loved you and would have done whatever we thought was best." 

The conversation left me a bit down because where was I to go from here to get rid of this constant cortisol drip? When I told my girlfriend about my mothers response she became so furious I was a little taken aback. I know my parents aren't evil and tried to do the best they knew how so I just accepted the lack of resolution and figured maybe I was just sensitive and weird in my own way. As we talked about why she was so angry it started dawning on me - when you GloMar, it's as good as saying yes while leaving enough doubt so the onus isn't on you. I have felt extreme anger towards other people's parents where I wanted to beat them to death with my fist for the evil they perpetrated on their children so her anger began making sense. Despite not providing confirmation, my mothers response coupled with my girlfriends anger helped me understand that my fear was real but also that I can now let it go because it's not all in my head. My brain isn't fucked up with some weird misinterpretation of events and there is a very good chance that if I had pushed the limits at all, my fears would have turned to reality under the auspices of my parents genuine yet misguided good intentions. 

Today I feel a whole lot more relaxed because I don't have to fight the doubt and guilt of being tormented by a fear that I may have created. It was real and I can let it go knowing that while nothing is guaranteed, people who aren't fucked up don't just abandon you without good reason. Sometimes no response is all the answer you need so if you have something tormenting you, go ahead and ask questions. As they say, "knowing is half the battle".

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pop Culture - A Context for Fun

Growing up cut off from essentially every element of popular culture (fashion, movies, TV and music) made it difficult to relate to "normal" individuals in any capacity that was fun. People would make jokes and most of them went over my head because I had no clue what they were talking about. I have actually had a few moments where I've laughed at something I heard years prior because I just gained context and understood what had been said finally. Living without context for the humorous banter in everyday life is like playing Apples to Apples with children - it's fucking boring. 

I've tried catching up on much of what I missed but until recently had mostly just been keeping up with what was current. Recently, thanks to my girlfriend, I've watched some classics such as: Top Gun, The Goonies, Platoon, The Never Ending Story, Mad Max, all the Harry Potters, Hook and some others. For no reason at all I spouted out "bangarang" at work the other day not thinking anyone had heard me (or caring if they had) but then it put a smile on my face when I heard a chick start chanting "Rufio, Rufio". We had shared a pleasant memory invoked by me uttering one word that we had a shared context for and it made my day a little brighter.  

I've written some stand up before and while it has been well received, I usually have someone say that it's too intelligent for most people and that I should dumb it down. Part of what makes things funny (to me) is the satisfaction when something clicks and I understand what the joke is. You give people just enough clues (many times a pop culture reference) and the punchline and they'll connect the dots and feel proud of themselves for doing so. 

Words and their definitions are the context for concepts and language. Pop culture is the context for fun and humor and it's a shame to withhold that from anyone. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Undead Dreams

They chase me through my dreams
Decomposing flesh and bones
Desiring to feast on me
Insatiable hunger for life 
Feral zombies roam

Without haste they pursue
Yet still feels like they are closing in
If I don't exhaust myself 
I'll soon be one of them

Somehow I'm burdened with a child
Inconvenient for quick flight
This responsibility unasked for
But can't in good conscience leave
I fear will be my downfall, the vicious end of me. 

A stroller wheel catches in the mud
As we make across a meadow
The hoard of cannibals at my back
Closing in, screaming, necrotic fingers scratch my skin
Suddenly I awake with pounding heart. 

I calm myself with reassuring words
And though zombies are surreal
I fear I will I never rest 
With such terrifying visions in my mind
They're power source nebulous, undefined

The things I want are also what I fear most
Desires turned weights slowing me down
I've got to get somewhere before death comes round
Maybe if I keep moving I can elude, escape
Perpetually in motion a harder victim to take

No one ever escapes the inevitable
Slowly acceptance comes
I'll be overtaken one day
But why poison the interim with anxiety
Making now miserable, frittering days away. 

Thus when I lay back down
The dreams again stir
And zombies crawl out the dirt
To feast upon my flesh
A new tactic I try to tired to resist. 

I sat down upon the grass and watched them gather round
Their faces held confusion that I did not run or fear them now
They stood in a circle unsure of what to do
Then wandered off grunting in search of new prey

Sitting now alone, unmolested, free
I drew my knees to my chest thinking
Why had they dispersed?
Flesh and blood were there not putting up fight
But fear nourishes dream zombies not mortality consumed

Running just spread the scent across the countryside
Like pheromones attracting a mate that wants to eat my insides
Fear embodied searching for fear to feed on
So I let it go, continued sitting
To watch the undead scavengers wander on. 

Out of Sight Punishment

Yesterday I had the singular experience of sitting in a court room for three hours with an acquaintance to see if he would end up going to jail or just be allowed to pay a fine and walk out. I've only been in court once before which was a civil court but the experiences were about the same. The first thing anyone with half a brain realizes is that it's not a place to fuck around. You are expected to show respect for the process of our legal system and the position of judge: if you don't, you're not going to be in that room for long. Sitting in both civil and criminal courtrooms is like watching a film of what not to do with your life. The sheer boredom is bad enough but being around that kind of power is a little scary and unsettling. There is an appeals process in our court system, but that doesn't mean you won't have to sit in jail for a good bit of time waiting for a more merciful or understanding judge and that is not a position I ever want to be in.

In days gone by, punishments for offenses were a public matter which I believe was probably a deterrent to making bad choices. Today unless you choose to go to a courtroom or visit a jail, most of that side of life is hidden from young people. I have never stolen anything from a store in my life because I saw my sister steal a pack of gum from the supermarket when she was around 5 or 6. Our mother's reaction and the repercussions of my sister having to go back to the store to apologize made such an impression on me that theft subconsciously was off the table. Before we had the media bombarding us with images and daily casualty statistics, wars were far bloodier and people seemed to be more stoic about loss of life. Without extensive media coverage you were left with written articles and maybe simple news stories but nothing of that conveys the horror properly. Veterans either don't talk about war or they talk about the glamorous parts which furthers offsets the reality of battle.

While we could simply be becoming softer as a society, I feel that we get passionate about what we are confronted with directly in our eyes like what happened in Ferguson. Part of the success of the civil rights movement is because they were able to get national media attention directly putting it in everyone's faces. Out of sight is out of mind for most people and hearing an anecdote passed from one person to the next does very little to effect change. When my children get a little older, I'm going to bring them to a courtroom for an afternoon because they need to see that there are consequences to actions and feel the weight of the power and authority that our legal system has. I'm not trying to scare them but instead show them that there is a world that remains hidden until you cross a line and it's not a world you ever want to be part of. People blame video games and entertainment for violence in youth but maybe it's just the fact that just like the one sided war stories of veterans, they aren't being exposed to the reality that jail, war, prejudice etc all have a very real and very ugly face that they should be forced to gaze into.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guilt Free Parenting

Coming from a belief system where divorce was basically a mortal sin but also a guaranteed way to fuck up your children, I've struggled a lot with guilt over the path I have taken. My oldest child is a 9 year old girl and recently she has been acting out with huge tantrums and general hatefulness. A few weeks ago when I was with them for the weekend she brought her younger sister to tears because she lashed out and said "you're ugly". She also screamed at me that everything was my fault when I told her to correct her terrible attitude. 

Not having anything close to a normal childhood or friends of a similar age to observe, I was unaware that much of this behavior is actually fairly common at this age. My girlfriend informed me that while my daughters turmoil may be elevated by the divorce, it is definitely not the precipitator of my daughters angst. That was a huge relief to hear and I've relaxed over the whole situation considerably. I was a bit nervous to bring the kids around someone I was in a relationship with because they are so astute, it doesn't take much for them to figure things out without you telling them and I didn't know how they would react. This past weekend the three oldest came and hung out with us and had a blast. 

Guilt is such a powerful engine behind much of what we do; but just like fear, actions derived from guilt are never healthy.  I've seen numerous times where parents have caved and done things for their children because they feel bad about something in the past but it only cripples them further enabling the dysfunction. If you are doing the best you know how, then you should release the past and not allow any guilt to effect your actions. 

They say that you are a product of your environment but I think that's only partially true. You are a product of what you choose to become with the knowledge of the range of those possibilities being what your environment informs. I'm not worrying about my kids or the influences that come across their paths because I am one of the influences. Ultimately they will choose what they believe and how they interact with the world regardless of how much I do or do not shelter them.  I don't need to feel guilty about getting divorced or that I let them watch a certain movie or let them listen to a certain kind of music. It's not what goes in that determines who you are but what you hold onto and put back out there that makes you the person you are. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Devil May Care

A couple days ago my work for this week was suddenly canceled so I scrambled to find something else to fill in till next week. The first thing that came up was a gig doing something I find rather stressful but I figured what the hell, I'll give it another shot. Indeed, the first day was stressful as I blundered my way through till about 7 hours into the day I remembered what someone had told me "it takes about two years of fucking up and getting yelled at to get good at this". 
With that cheerful exhortation in mind and since I was only booked for a couple days, I decided why stress out? If they don't like your work, they can bring someone else in for the next time. 

My "devil may care" attitude regarding the outcome of future employment freed me up to relax a bit and I actually somewhat enjoyed the remainder of that day and the next. Not only did I not hate it, but I felt like I learned and became more skilled passing some of the two year training markers. 

Unfortunately there is a lot of pressure placed on people to perform when they are trying to learn or achieve something. That's why children can become masters at things because they are simply playing and not thinking about the ramifications of success or failure. 

Nothing is really so serious that it needs to wreck your life with stress. Try - either you'll get it down or you won't. Unless you have ridiculous expectations for your life then you will find your way and for some people the "way" is constantly finding the way as they become an amalgam of experiences and skills. "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can". I'm chanting that right now. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hotel Capers

A friend reminded me today about a funny anecdote from my days living the posh life in the back half of a Hyundai Sonata. A couple years ago I made friends with complete strangers through a Facebook group for people who had survived our rearing in a homeschool cult. One virtual friend and her husband were taking a trip across country so we decided to take the friendship to the next level - they were going to let me shower in their hotel room. Since I was working late they gave me the hotels address, we said goodnight and I followed my gps to the hotel around 5am getting a cat nap in the parking lot. Around 10am I received a text with the room number and the insistence that I come avail myself to warm running water. Never having met them in person I felt slightly awkward but I was smelling funky so what the hell right? 

When I reached the appropriate floor and hallway, I saw that their door was cracked and I heard the TV playing loudly. To be polite, I knocked and when I received no response I slowlypushed the   door open to find an empty room and Jerry Springer playing loudly. Springer seemed completely out of character but maybe they stepped out to give me privacy? I sent a text "hey, I'm here, do you want me to leave the door cracked?" After a minute of no response I figured "screw it, I'm jumping in the shower". The shower was marvelous and when I stepped onto the bathmat I noticed that I had a message "no, we are here". So I wrote back "you're kidding right?" By that time I had dressed and as I opened the door, the maid was in the doorway hand up as if she was about to come in "are you checking out?" She said in broken English. I suddenly had the sinking feeling that I was in the wrong hotel. Shit, I never asked what the name of the hotel was. I quickly mumbled "yes, I'm leaving" and briskly walked to the elevator as my phone rang. My friend said "we are here, where are you?" It was then that I decided this elevator is taking too long. Fuck it and tore down the stairs as if I had just robbed a bank. 

When I finally made it to the correct hotel (on the backside of the one I trespassed in) we had a good laugh over my accidental infraction. I'm probably the most unintentional criminal ever with my several counts of trespassing, one website hacked and other things that won't be named being committed without malice. For all my zeal as a fugitive from the status quo, that angst has always been against society and culture but not so much legalities. While I still feel that many of them are there for the greater good, this experience put a little fire in my veins for adventure and coloring outside all the lines. 

Cutting Teeth

A year has passed since I decided to move out of a normal habitation and instead bed down in the back seat / trunk of my car. I clearly remember so many of the nights when I drive by the street or parking lots I slept in or the stolen showers, freezing, behind closed gas stations or in lakes. Much of it was difficult but it was also exciting and freeing not to mention economically beneficial. If I was to ever live in such a manner again, I would get a slightly larger vehicle so that there would at least be a place to shower and a chair or small couch to relax on. There was one night I clearly remember towards the end of December when I didn't have any work and was sitting there, key off, in the drivers seat for god knows how long in a movie theater parking lot and I felt like I was starting to bug out. It's not the solitude that was the problem but feeling confined in a way I can imagine prisoners or those suffering from cabin fever experience. 

Much has changed in my life since my break from normalicy. I've had some people leave my life abruptly, been lied to, been blessed in many ways, learned a greater depth of what I am capable of and can endure, came face to face with many fears (which I'm still working to overcome) but mostly discovered that the world is not what I thought it was but instead is what we make it to be each day. Unfortunately most people only look out for themselves and will throw some kindness your way if it benefits them. Most people also don't deserve to be let into your life closer than you could scope them with a sniper rifle. If you find someone who actually thinks of other people as much as themselves (and sometimes before themselves), you are lucky. It's those closest to you, those who you let inside stabbing range that can really fuck you up so you have to be selective as to who you open up to. Instead of obliterating you with a high caliber round, the can simply wound you permanently.  I'm resolved to do my best not to talk about other people to those it doesn't concern. With the exception of my writing, I'm also attempting to close down my borders significantly because as I'm getting older, I've realized that most people aren't worth having close and I'm actually good with a small group of loved ones. 

The nature of my life has changed slightly due to having a relationship I'm committed to but now there are just two people in tandem seeking out a life that's outside the "status quo". I don't have the same amount of time to myself or type of freedom as before but that is the nature of sharing your life with someone - it's not just yours anymore. Sure, I've cut a few new keys to add my ring now but I love our life and can't wait to see where it takes us next.

"All I need in this life of sin is me and my girlfriend". 

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Matter of Principles

While celebrity sex tapes and nude photos being leaked are nothing new, the latest exposure of several celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, made conversation today by the people I was hanging around. I don't mean to be judging anyone and hope that this doesn't come across as "holier than thou" but as a matter of principle I refuse to look at any of JLaw's (or the other celebs) pics leaked pictures. They were not for my eyes and not released with her approval so as a matter of respect, I will abstain. Do I know her or would it make any difference in the world if I did look? No, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans of difference in the grand scheme of things. However, despite not making an iota of difference to the course of the world, if we don't have principles that we stick to, then what do we have? 

My principles are probably stupid to most people but whether they be right, wrong or neutral, I believe in sticking to what you believe in despite the impact it may or may not have. I generally do not watch horror movies because I don't like people being evil for the sake of evil however, something about characters like Javier Bardem played in No Country For Old Men (I know it's not a horror film) do not bother me. Yes, they are doing evil things but it's based on a principle not random choices. Emotions are what make us human but it is principles that are needed as a check and balance against those emotions. Most people who are professional card players or stock traders will tell you that they have a set of guidelines  they follow and when they don't, that's when they fuck up. 

You can change what you believe as time wears on and you see things differently because of experiences that you have but if you have some principles, if nothing else, hold them sacred because otherwise we are left with varying stages of chaos.