The Desiderata: Part 1

Part One: My Disease

Hey Gang!

I must be honest. I suppose what follows in the proceeding posts is really my catharsis. My fall and redemption. I bare myself. In my core I have felt hollow for quite a while. I think it came through my writing when it came to fruition. There was a disjointed feeling when it came to writing this blog. It just wasn’t fun for me any more. I felt as if I had run out of things to say, which my friends know is an extremely hard thing for me to achieve. I was angry with myself. I could not point my finger towards one dastardly reason or another. It was just there. Shut in a room where I actively hide the key. I ignored my craft.

Once, I considered myself a writer before being a human. That was me, first and foremost. I was writing feverishly. I loved that and then came some winter in the life of my writing. It became baron. A wasteland of creative output. I didn’t have writer’s block (which in my opinion doesn’t exists), I had something else. The monster in the room was out and held me prisoner. I was unable to write. I would have great thoughts to bring about and when I sat down, I thought to myself, “This is shit. Complete shit.” I would then walk away. I kept saying that loathsome mantra until it became an infection. My disease that corroded me. I was used and done.

Weeks passed and I began to develop some stories. However, my submissions were rejected and I took it very personally as it was the most personal thing i had ever written. It felt like they were saying that not only was the piece not good enough but that I was not good enough. I crawled into a shell. I was trying so hard to get published. I had ambition out the wazoo yet it wasn’t enough. My disease began to spread with a vengeance. I became fearful of my own laptop. It mocked me.

“You aren’t good enough”

“You’re wasting your time”

“You should give up”

“No one will ever read your work”

“You have failed”

These poisonous mantras continued. That was until a series of events built up to become my antidote.

(continued)

It’s Kind of a Love Story

Hey Gang!

I have had weight issues most of my life. I call them issues because it is not really a problem in the sense that an issue is easier to fix than a problem. You solve a problem but you address an issue. I guess this is the culmination of my address. The one to myself and all of the versions of myself that I have been. All those roads that led to this place. This position where I find myself. But first, let me take a selfie….

Kidding. I do want to go to the beginning.

I was in a terrible car accident when I was four and I had thee unfortunate circumstance of remembering it wholly. The glass and twisting of metal. The ways the car bent around me and compressed my mother’s body. The screams thereafter. It all haunts me to this day. That trigger when you hear screeching tires in the distance that bring you back to that day. These memories in the periphery that somehow engulf us. Mold us and shape us. Molded me. Shaped me.

I got older and I blamed a lot of the crash on myself. Probably because I was only in traction for a year and hold only a two inch scar and yet I see my mother’s scars. That guilt I still have. It caused me to go into a deep depression at around 13 and the way I coped was food. Plain and simple. I ate and got depressed and then ate more. I never wanted to think about that day and that was my coping mechanism. How do you tell someone that they remind you every day that you should be mangled and ripped like them? How do you say to someone, “I am sorry that the crash was so unfair. That you have so much metal in you and I only have a few scars.”

Visible scars I suppose.

It’s funny to think about now. There is this terrible cycle that becomes a part of you. You become depressed. This depression causes you to eat. One day, you see yourself and how much weight you have gained which makes you even more depressed and so you cope by? YOU GUESSED IT!!! EATING! This cycle is one of sadness and disgust but within an individual. There is so much that people whom hate overweight people have to say about it all. They say, “How can you let yourself go?” and things of that nature that somehow suggest portion control. However, it is my contention that being overweight (or underweight) is a symptom to another problem and not the problem itself. Take, for example. during the renaissance, individuals that were overweight were seen as beautiful and important not because being overweight is beautiful but because it was a sign of wealth. You had the money to eat and you did. So you gained weight. The reverse is now a reality. The less money you have the less healthy food is available.

Empathize with me for a moment. You have to pay the bills. You know you have two kids and $650 rent due in a week. You also have the light bill and the cable bill plus gas. You know this leaves $20 for the next two weeks. Do you think buying salmon is a great idea? Do you think buying a large box of quinoa is going to put food in three people’s bellies for two weeks? Or maybe go to mcdonald’s and make it last off the dollar menu.

Being overweight taught me quite a few lessons. I met people whom were completely facade driven. They saw you and made snap judgements. You see how you are judged and you begin to judge yourself. This is commonly known in communication as the “looking-glass self”. I see what the world tells me I am and I did. I looked an saw this overweight beast in the mirror that I did not recognize. Until i was about 23. I started a job that forced me to be in shape. I started losing weight and really started to see something better in the mirror. I started to look in magazines and see these muscular adonis-type figures that were becoming more hallow. This body image was being forced on me by people in a room somewhere in L.A. who thought that this is how I should look.

I hated the way I looked up until then. But then I made a promise to myself. Each week I would look in the mirror and say what I enjoyed about some physical part of me. The first week i said, “I like my eyes. I have nice eyes.” The next week I said, “I like my lips. I have nice lips.” Years go by. I had the support of my friend Nate, luckily, and my adventure continued. I liked more and more of myself. I began working out and eating right. No more fad diets or weight shakes. It was about me. It was beautifully about me. I would treat myself at each milestone. I would buy an album I always wanted. I would by myself shirts and ties. New shoes. These material things were trophys. Each one was representative of a goal I had met.

Now, I have lost quite a bit of weight and I am almost at the lowest weight I have been at since I was 14. This is sad but true. However, it doesn’t matter what size I wear, i always carry around that weight. The weight from the accident that ignited the physical weight I gained. I have forgiven myself for not being as injured as my mother. I now look in the mirror and see myself. All those parts I said I liked combined into what I am. What I have become. Now when I see myself in the mirror I see all of those liked pieces that have become an individual I love.

So, I guess when you love yourself you become open to loving other people. Such a beautiful world.

I suppose gaining all of that self-efficacy and self-esteem makes you someone you can love and who wants and deserves to be loved.

All in all I guess it’s kind of a love story.

-Chris

Where The Stars Dwell

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Hey Gang!

I sit in my convertible as it flows down the asphalt veins of the back roads of Illinois. I bifurcate myself. Sitting in the passenger side, just outside myself, I feel the cool air whipping around the other me. Darkness is all around except for the fluorescence of the headlights and the neon glow of the odometer, speedometer, and other displays in the Solara. I see the surroundings, or the lack there of, and look up.

I notice I do not pay attention to the road ahead and swerve somewhat as I am enamored with the stars above. Out there, where there is no light pollution, where fields are random from below but from above have so much purpose, that place is where stars dwell. I see myself looking above at the massiveness of it all. The beauty of the stars and surprising absence of the moon. The stardust all around. The feeling that at the horizon is the end of the earth and beyond it is infinity.

The driver hears “Take Me To Church” by Hozier and turns the volume up as the piano keys hit hard. The passenger reflects. The passenger reflects on the past few months when he wrote papers exploring postmodernism and bystander effect. Empathy and socioeconomic status. Hyperrealism and commodification. Race and gender. So much theory and so little time.

The passenger recalls the writing and stress that kept him from writing. The work that kept him from doing those things he loved. The times when he could not recall what he had done day-to-day as time became a measure of tasks and not guided by sunrise and sunset and the time set by generations before. It had become relative. Relative to tasks accomplished and tasks needed.

The driver looks to the road as he laments a truck ahead. It spoils the emptiness that the driver enjoys cutting through in the blackness of the night.

The passenger ponders.

It is weary from lack of sleep. It breathes for the first time since January. The passenger reflects on the cookout he had just been to where one of his best friends had invited him and only him to come. He talked about life and its changes as hamburgers and hotdogs grilled and caught fire, laughing at the memory. He remembers seeing his friend’s wife and child and how exterior it all feels. Remnants of a lifetime ago and yet closer to reality. He sees them struggle with the child and how much trouble they are having financially and yet how they have a family unit. This tight cell that somehow becomes an antibody that attacks incoming diseases; money issues, illness, car trouble, time apart all of them taken down by the antibody.

“Ordinary Love” by U2 comes on in the vastness of nothing and the driver turns it up. He comes to a stoplight that seems blinding in juxtaposition to what he has just gone through. This is the first sign of civilization. The first sign of reality coming back.

The passenger looks away as the driver takes off, gravel spitting behind the vehicle. He thinks back to his friends. They were struggling, fighting to keep the cell, the antibody thriving and it was working. Where so many people would see that as miserable, they were truly happy. The passenger reflects on those around he and the driver and sees none of this. There ship is a vessel that goes through such turbulence in the sea and yet stays whole. The grand ship always reaches ports intact. However, others around him have boats that sail among, not the rocky waters of happiness, but the placid waters of content. Those waters where the boat does not bow to waves but is a steady course.

The large buildings come into view as the driver slows the steel and fiberglass horse.

The passenger realizes how his is a boat on waters so still and calm that it is not moving. The mountains high are beautiful but familiar. Just beyond the horizon he sees the large ocean of happiness as waves crash somewhere out of the cove. The passenger grabs the ores and starts to paddle away from where he sat and all of those others that float along with him.

He realizes that he is not happy but content. However, he wants to be closer. The two become one as the roar back into reality under yellow lamps overhead and trees are replaced by stone buildings that tower in the orange sky of night.

I may go into uncertain waters where the high tides of happiness are met with the low tides of sadness but where the highs and lows are better than the void of feeling. The highs and lows are what I crave. The void is left for the darkness in the country where the stars dwell.

–Chris

The Modern Ape

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Hey Gang!

There are three things that one must accept in this world. 1. Sharks are the perfect predators, swim accordingly; 2. Dolphins are able to notice their own reflections, one of two which includes humans.; 3. We are, be you creationist or evolutionist or evolution-creationists, all just animals. We are beautiful, flawed creatures that are incredibly close to the things around us. We go to higher education and think that that somehow makes us better off than the box jellyfish. This fact is actually quite amusing because, take away all of those niceties that we take for granted: shelter, electricity, friends and family; what you are left with is the complete sense that you are alone.

You are not alone.

FACT: Eating a banana is 50% cannibalism as we share about 50% of our DNA with the banana, which is actually a berry.

I bring this up because the other day I remembered something that I had forgot long ago. A simple theory that Nate and myself made years ago, when we were in our teens. I was reminded of it when I was at my desk, wholly frustrated with a project i was doing. Whenever I get frustrated, I play with my Rubik’s cube. I never really have the goal of solving the puzzle. For me, it is about the ability to clearly think one one thing. There is nothing more than the rotating, oscillating form in front of me. So, I almost jumped out of my seat when a deep, kind voice said, “There’s a video for that you know.”

I turned around and saw a lanky, tall man I knew to be a professor staring down at me with amused eyes. I laughed and said, “Yeah, no one will ever solve this thing.” (I say this in reference to an old film called “The Wedding Singer”, it does not compute).

“Yes, they have. I think there is a way to solve it,” he said as he pointed to my computer.

He truly meant to look it up. So, I appeased. We found a video with step-by-step directions and i must admit, the puzzle made sense. He laughed and I finally realized how stupid I felt. THE MAN HAD SOLVED IT MANY TIMES BEFORE! He knew how to solve it and basically walked me through the steps like a small child trying to learn how to ride the bike.

I was insulted and yet, I was elated.

I felt a jolt of excitement. He left but I started looking at the puzzle in a different way. It started to make sense.

FACT: Orcas have an additional portion on their brain that allows for the feeling of more emotions than humans.

A few moments later and I realized this feeling. It was primal. I am guessing this is how humans felt when Prometheus brought them fire. I realized, however, that my demeanor must have seemed archaic to someone who knew the puzzle. The design was there in front of them and I was this grand creature twisting and turning the pieces aimlessly. It must have been a funny sight. I felt like an ape who had just started to figure out what good a tool a club was.

I laughed pretty hard at that as I thought of myself like an ape making calls and hunched over on the ground. I imagined myself grunting at the puzzle when it did not turn out how I wanted it to.

This is when I remembered the theory of “Angry Hot”.

FACT: We too were once single celled organisms, for about half an hour, much like the Gromia sphaerica, or amoeba.

Nate and I contended that there are women out there so hot that it would actually cause you to go into a frenzy. So, attractive were these women that it caused men to go primal. This was a thought process of two 17 year olds but there is actually a precedent. Women are, in evolutionary theory, able to make men more primal. There is a hip to waist ration that women have (.07) that causes men to find them more fertile. The primal act of mating takes over and you get a truly attractive person eliciting a response from another animal. So, “Angry Hot” can happen when other males are around to contest the attention of the female. 

Are you bored yet?

Listen, all I am saying is, we truly are close to that primal self. The one that kept us alive in the cold winters and scorching summers. We are still animals.

FACT: We are made of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms. Hydrogen and helium began our universe, followed by carbon and then a supernova occured and spread out these elements. Every creature on earth has elements of these basic natures. Zinc, iron and more. These make us up and were brought to us by an exploding star. Thus, every creature on this planet is made of stars.

Animals, we are animals. We breath and we fight and we make tools. We do these things and we see ourselves as better than other animals. Yet, I am an animal, as are you. We are all animals yet we have no communal sense. Why hurt this animal or that animal? Why get pleasure out of pain? Why pass by a homeless person in need of help? Why hate another person for their beliefs, values, skin color, or disabilities? Why do all of these things to better your life? That is like poison for a species as amazing as the ones on this planet.

Be animals, not beasts.

We are animals but we, every entity from the cold-blooded to the warm-blooded to the photosynthetic, are made of the same things that bind us together.

Us modern apes, we are all made of stars.

 

-Chris

PS- Good to be back! Hope you enjoyed it!

Exit Music for a Film

 

FADE IN:

EXT. TYBEE ISLAND. BEACH- DUSK

Two young men, CHRIS and NATE, are at a beach that is lively and beautiful. Wind whips around them just enough to blow tiny grains of sand around. Children run up to the cold water’s edge as it ebbs and flows to shore. They mock its to-and-fro motion.

Nate sits on a sand dune. His darkened sunglasses reflecting the ocean. Chris stands at the water’s edge. He takes his shoes and socks off; he lets the icy water flow over his feet and back out to sea. The water comes in, goes out, and with it, goes the sand beneath his feet. The gritty sand beneath his feet pulls him down with every cycle.

Chris closes his eyes and is in the moment. He hears the seagulls’ calls all around him. The sounds of the waves hitting the shore. He feels the warmth on his skin that had been lost all of these months in the long winter. He begins thinking of the past five days he had spent in Georgia during his spring break.

FADE TO MONTAGE:

-Chris and Nate playing paintball. Nate gets hit on the head. Chris gets shot multiple times in quick succession.

-Chris taking a huge bite of a Newk’s sandwich

-Chris taking pictures of Senoia, Georgia where “The Walking Dead” is shot.

-Chris and Nate shooting posters of Zombies at a shooting range.

-Chris cheering the Black and White Knight at Medieval Times.

-Chris and Nate playing games at Dave and Buster’s.

-Chris and Nate driving in the car through most of Georgia.

-Chris and Nate eating at a restaurant. (Chris watches a large ship with the letters “MOL” on the side cruise around and around the bay.)

EXT.TYBEE ISLAND. BEACH- DUSK

Chris opens his eyes.

He once again takes in the moment. He wholly revels in being ever-present. No thoughts of the future or the past, just here and now.

NATE (O.S.)

Is it cold?

CHRIS

Yeah, really cold.

Chris looks back at Nate. He looks disappointed by the revelation that it is cold.

Chris turns back to the ocean.

He looks out and feels small and large at the same time. After all of the traveling he has done, he feels like the world has become smaller. His jaunt home a few hours away. The other side of the Atlantic, but an arm stretch away. He takes pictures of the waves as they roll in.

CHRIS

You know, waves actually start out in the ocean.

Like, far out there. We only see them when they break

on shore. There are these tiny cycles on top of each other

that move the waves forward until they hit the shore and then break

up.

Chris looks back to Nate who nods his head. Chris thinks it is incredibly powerful that all of this is happening. Life has become unpaused in this moment and is happening all around. Some sort of cacophony of majesty just for him. He revels in it.

He looks at the ocean and he notices that the beauty has begun to fade. He wonders how long one can look at beauty before it fades. He asks himself, “How long is paradise, paradise? When does it become nothing?”

He decides he doesn’t want to find out. He looks back at Nate who is still sitting down. Chris walks up next to him.

NATE

I am glad we came. It was definitely worth it.

CHRIS

Yeah, it’s beautiful. I like how it was spur of the moment.

NATE

Yeah, this is a good way to end the trip.

CHRIS

For sure. I didn’t know what we were going to do.

I knew we were going to find “it”, I just didn’t know what “it” was.

NATE

That sounds like the end to a movie or something.

Wide Shot of the beach. The two look miniscule.

Begin “Exit Music (For a Film)” by Radiohead.

FADE TO BLACK

Adventure Time!

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Hey Gang!

It has been entirely too long! I will not let this happen again. I have been writing a conference paper about postmodernism and jay-z which I hope turns out well. However, I have yearned to write which only reinforces how much I truly love writing and in an environment with every one of you that are so talented and creative. Thanks for being you and deciding to read everything I have written. Truly humbled, thanks!

***

It’s like that visceral tin taste in your mouth when someone asks if you have ever tasted a penny.

No.

It’s like when someone asks you what you did last week.

Yes.

You recall the week itself. The highs, the lows, and the mundane. You remember you laughed incredibly hard from a friend’s joke but you remember pouring a bowl of cereal for yourself in the morning. The sadness of unwanted news and the neutrality of tying your shoes. Yet, what is it that you recall?

Those spike. Those spikes in the midst of everything that imprint on your life. Emotion bleeds through everything. A raking scar of a memory. You sense it. It is palpable. Then it begins to leave. It begins to fade away. It becomes amorphous. The substance is there, that central message, but the structure is gone.

That penny taste. It lingers.

I say all of this because I recently had that feeling of a memory that was so paramount in my life until it drifted. It came back with a vengeance and I could not be happier.

My mother used to appease me when I was younger. As I have said before, we were not very well off. Feast or famine was quite regular. However, I never found it to be that way. 

On the way home from school each day, my mother would allow my six-year-old self to navigate our way home. Often we would get lost but I remember what she would say whenever I got us lost.

“Don’t worry, Chrissy. It’s just another adventure,” she’d say.

It’s funny to think about it now. I don’t even think she knows I remember that kind of stuff. So small. In a life so full of moments, how amazing is it that we are able to remember anything in particular.

I recall one time we were unable to afford heat for a week or so. So, we bought a couple blow-up mattresses and slept in the front room. We had this old, metal electric fireplace that we put right in front of us and turned it on. I remember how cold it was. Outside of those three comforters was what felt like subarctic temperatures. I remember laying on my side and my mother making me laugh which made me grow warmer.

“It’s like camping, kiddo,” my mother said. “Just another adventure.”

What is funny is that I do not have heat at my new apartment but, off in the corner of my room, I have a small electric fireplace that makes me feel warm and a little more at home.

These things that should have been terrible were more like sailing on an ocean. You knew that the storms caused the boat to rock but they would eventually subside.

When I was at my lowest just a year ago, I was laying on the ground, wallowing in my own sorrow. I voiced how scared I was about the future. About the past. About the now. About everything.

“What do we say?”

I did not want to hear it. I stayed silent.

“What do we say?”

“Who knows, we say a lot,” I said with too much resentment.

“It’s just another adventure,” she said, having paid no mind to my projected attitude.

Funny thing, it subsided. I got up figuratively and literally.

Just a week ago, I contemplated why i was doing all of this. I had no life. My friends were moving on and I was here learning about the fragmentation of the subject.

What the hell was I doing here?

Then, somewhere, deep down, I hear a voice. Not my mother’s but my own. It came from somewhere other. Some time other. Some time ago.

“What do we say?”

 

-Chris

 

*You’re the best, Linda*

 

 

Universes, part II

 

 (Hey Gang! This is a post that is from another blog that I write for a newspaper’s website. It was unfortunately censored. I decided that I would uncensor it and publish it here.)

I sit here now, talking my brother out of making me into an incidental chat roulette star while I type. I think about a conversation I had a day or two ago. It had to do with meeting women. A friend was talking about hooking up with someone downtown and how he was going to wear this shirt and tell this lie, or that lie. It was beyond me because I have come to the conclusion that nothing awesome ever comes out of downtown.

How many individuals have found “the one” while grinding?

How many have found their soul mate while jersey turn-piking?

How many have found Mr./Mrs. Right white “dropping it like it’s hot”?

My guess, not a lot.

That is one thing you learn with age. You actually want more than a crazy story and one night stand. Conversation because increasingly more of an attractive trait in someone. You begin looking for those people, not in clubs, but in your favorite places. People who share some common interest with you and it is visible. Sometimes you do meet someone and there is a click, mentally more than physically. You may get their number or just hope to see them again but there is always that part of you that is hopeful. More than attraction. Optimism in an emotion. Embodied in something that is not soaked in alcohol or other things.

I remember thinking how great it would be to strike up some kind of conversation with someone at this Laundromat or while walking around Barnes and Noble. Something where you relate on another level. Outside of school or bars or clubs. Outside of your world. Your universe colliding with another. That journey outside of yourself in another is a beautiful thing, I believe.

Your friends may talk about their latest conquest but you have that moment. That one moment when everything was in its place and you met someone, out of billions, that made you stop and give up your time willingly. They gave theirs. It became time for you both. The person may not be the one but they mean more to you in that moment than a night at the club. Being present with someone can be an incredible thing, if you give in to it. Take your headphones out and put the phone away. Pay attention to those around you because they may be paying attention to you.

I may be a hopeless, I would prefer hopeful, romantic but it is truly incredible to meet someone organically and in a place where no one is desperate or intoxicated.

A place of chance.

A place where two people met by random happenstance.

A place where universes collide.

-Chris

 

The Importance of Oatmeal

 

 

 

Hey Gang!

Long time no talk. Oh grad school and all of that. I have been working on a few papers and it has unfortunately taken up most of my time; however, I sneaked away to write this post!

I have been playing video games online with friends for quite some time. It is a brilliant way to keep in touch and I must admit that I truly enjoy playing some of those crazy games with my friends. I was gaming not too long ago with a friend and we were talking about him getting a Playstation 4, which I have, so that we could play some newer games. I told him I would give him some money to buy it and he said it was too much.

“You gave me oatmeal,” I exclaimed.

“It was just oatmeal not money,” he replied.

We continued to play and I basically said ‘deal with it’. The game ended, we said our goodbye’s and signed off. My brain was swimming with my reaction to him saying it was just oatmeal. I believe I had mentioned it before, but I was dead broke. There were times when honey on a butter knife was the extent of lunch and ramen noodles were a regular meal. All three meals. I was having blinding migraines from hunger for a while. Post-college and without a decent job as I waited for grad school to start, I could not afford the luxury of food (for more on this, read The Best Of All Possible Worlds).

My friend was employed but only in marginally a better place financially. He saw what I was going through and he gave me all of his oatmeal. I cannot tell you how amazing that felt. I have never been that happy in my life. It was such a humbling experience to know that at any moment you could run out of food. To know that every dime you had was already spent. Some ethereal clock that ticked down until it reached zero and everything you had was gone. I ate that oatmeal like it was four-course four star meal. Strawberries and Cream, Apple Cinnamon, Dates and Raisins, and Vanilla Swirl were among the favorites of flavors. Sometimes I would only eat a bowl of beans but I knew that I had a sweet treat for dinner as well. I had oatmeal.

There is something that truly clarifies life’s meaning when you are that poor. I know there are individuals who have been worse off. There are people starving all over the world and yet, when it comes to you, you look at yourself. The world becomes so much smaller. So much simpler than it was. It is about finding your next meal and being creative. A sleeve of crackers with butter on top becomes lunch and dinner. Water no longer quenches thirst but satiates hunger for a brief amount of time. The only worry is if you are able to make it until the next time you eat.

My mother helped as much as she could but she was no better off. Part time work was scarce and temp work was mainly for industrial individuals. I only tell you this because I think it is important for myself to reflect. I have been doing so since he said it was “just oatmeal.” Now, from a place of comfort financially I look back and I must say…i miss it. Do not get me wrong, it was terrible but there was a primal simplicity to it; something deep in that chaos that gave me strength. I was able to see something in myself then that I had never seen. When you know where the bottom is, when you find your personal limit, it changes you. You are able to see how far you had fallen and recognize the true beauty of life. No more wanting. It is about being content. Then, when you have a meal or you open the fridge on those hard days and see food or look at your gas tank and see half a tank of gas, life is beautiful.

Now, I am in an okay place financially but I never stray too far from the me that existed before September. My circumstances changed but I did not. I do not regret that it happened because I was able to see myself break; literally and metaphorically. My body was pushed to limits and my mind as well. You realize that just because something breaks does not mean you are not able to mend it. I always said that my body would break before my spirit but they both eventually succumbed. When they were mended, they came back stronger.

I look at all of this around me and I am thankful. My mother is healthier, I am getting healthier, I have so much and yet I am bored. My life is on pause. I am working towards a goal but when you know your primal self, that id that speaks “food, water, sleep”, it becomes so enlightening that you miss it. The kindness of people just as down on their luck as you was beautiful. I have met individuals that are the smartest scholars I have ever met and make 100k+ but 10 of them are not worth one of the beautiful, hard-working people I met. That showed me kindness. That took a chance on helping me and kept me encouraged. That gave me oatmeal or gave me words of wisdom. These things are lessons I learned and it shaped my ideologies on what it means to live in this world and to being a human being. You realize how important money is and how loathsome is that truth.

You learn about this world.

You learn about yourself.

I would have never understood any of this; not to this degree as we were not very well off when I was younger.

I remember these things because of a friends kindness.

I remember it whenever I see a smiling Quaker on a cylindrical box.

The memory is what brings me back to the importance of oatmeal.

– Chris

Beautifully Insane

 

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Hey Gang!

 

Is it me or did it get a little dark in this blog for a while? It has been a bit of a wild ride this past year but I must admit that there is a change in the wind. A change that I hope is for the better.

Well, it is 2014 and I can not help but reflect on the past decade. I have grown immensely as a person but it was not without learning a few lessons along the way. These are a few of the lessons I have learned that I hope you may be able to integrate into your life so that you will not make the same terrible decisions as me.

 

1. DO NOT EAT THE SHELL

It was a few years ago when I was not as well off financially as I am now. I was living with my mother and our money situation was not the best, so treats were very much a luxury. You can imagine how ecstatic I was when my mother surprised me with a large bag of ranch flavored sunflower seeds. I substituted those for all of my meals. I ate the entire bag of those delicious little seeds in about four days. It was terrific and broke the monotony of Ramen noodles and rice. It was terrific right up until the point when I had not used the restroom for three days. (I will substitute “poop” with “bunny”. It just classes up this story a bit more, I believe.) So, a few days go by and I had yet to bunny. It was distressing. I could feel a hardening in my stomach and I actually could not fully stand upright because of the pain.

I sat down to watch television when my stomach let out a god awful roar and I knew I had to bunny. I got up and ran to the restroom. What then happened was easily top ten of the most painful moments of my life. Passing that bunny was a combination of giving birth to a demon mixed with watching the television show “Ghost Hunters’. It was a terrible experience. As I sweat and cried, I wondered what had happened. I then realized what it was: the seeds. I had eaten the seeds with the shell on and they did not dissolve. So, my bunny was basically like shrapnel coming through my intestines. The next few days were filled with shrapnel being passed and fears of some sort of intestinal damage. I thought, “This would easily be the most embarrassing way to die. I will end up on that show “1000 ways to die” and that will be my legacy.” Luckily, this was not the case; however, I still cringe and pucker every time I see a bag of unshelled sunflower seeds.

 

2. SOME JOKES ARE ON YOU

I truly enjoyed playing jokes on people. I loved to prank individuals all of the time, specifically those who were very….deserving. Some sort of karmic equality by distress. I pulled on of my favorite pranks when I was about 18 years old and it was on my aunt. She is a goofy woman. A bit high strung and also a bit strange. She is very into being at home and spatially oriented. He property is her property. That being said, she is also hilarious. She is one of those people that are accidentally hilarious. She would go on tirades about one thing or another. Blame the president for problems with her water. Blame her allergies on the people next door’s cooking. Yell the “F” word every time she forgets something. Forgetting something small. Like, forgetting to get the channel changer a few seconds earlier when she had gotten up. Just hilarious. I must admit, as a youngster, I may or may not have enjoyed to exacerbate her insane rants.

This all came to a head when I had a girlfriend around that time and she found out. She teased me for hours about it. She was very explicit. This was beyond ribbing and I was very embarrassed. So, a prank came to mind a few days later.

My best friends and I were out and about. We would drive around and smoke cigars and usually find some trouble to get into. This was one of those times. Nate would often unroll condoms and place them on random cars’ antennae. This was hilarious for some juvenile reason. This night I asked him for the last condom. I then went in to Walmart and bought a travel size bottom of unscented lotion. I think you can see the dots connecting. We drove up to her house and stopped at her drive way. I filled the condom to almost the brim with thick white lotion, rolled the window down and flung it onto the cement. It splattered and white goo went everywhere. We took off and I went home soon after. A few days later I came downstairs and sat down with a bowl of cereal. My mother was crocheting and we made idle chat but then she said, “Oh my gosh, Aunt … called and you know how she has been having trouble with her neighbors? Well, they must have had sex and thrown a condom at her house or something. She found a big ol’ nasty condom filled with sperm the other day.” I burst into laughter.

“I think that is gross,” my mother said.

I then divulged the entire story. She looked at me for a moment with her mouth agape. I thought her reaction would be anger but it turned into a chuckle which turned into a laugh. I asked how she cleaned it up and my mother said, “A rake. It made the condom rip and it went all over.”

We both died laughing. A decade later and I still hear her ranting and complaining about the worst neighbors she has ever had and the nasty surprise they left her.

 

3. PARTNERS IN CRIME IN TIME

As you know, I have been best friends with two individuals for about 14 years. In that time we have done some of the dumbest stuff that I can think about. Ben and I threw Molotov cocktails on the back roads at night. Lit pumpkins on fire and ran from the farmers that chased us away. Nate and I have gotten into more drunken adventures than I can recall and been in more strange circumstances than I care to think about. The three of us created what should be an Olympic sport which we entitled “Asphalt Skiing”. One is able to do this by having a truck or car with a spoiler. Then have a person drive around a parking lot while another hangs on to the back and skis on the asphalt. In case you were wondering, yes I did film this. It was hilarious. However, the friction caused the treads on their shoes to melt away. For months we told people about this sport. We were truly proud of it. Most thought we were insane. Maybe we were but does insane recognize insane?

These crazy things that we did seem like a lifetime ago. In a way, they are. We are all doing so much more than we dreamed. We are a bit tamer now and those things were done by three young men who were trying to figure the world. Now, I look back on it all. I look at when we broke into a skate park and then had to hide from the police patrolling the area. It was crazy. All of this seems crazy but I was never alone in it. Fast forward a decade and we are still best friends. I look at it all and I see we were partners in crime but somewhere down the randomness of time we became brothers and it has been a pleasure.

 

 

 

So, three small life lessons that I have found helpful. More than stories. They are applicable, I believe. The stupidity of past acts that come back on us. The bonding over a joke and karma. The stupidity of the past that becomes the fond memories of the present. These are just a snapshot of the crazy things that have happened in my life but there is so much more. It builds a foundation on which I build my life and I realize I am one lucky person. I have a lot of fond memories and I am excited for the future as I try and live in the moment more and more.

The thing I know more than anything is that I am weird gentleman. I love doing weird things, having a weird sense of humor and meeting weird people.

Weird may not recognize weird but it sure does attract it and I am okay with that.

Happy New Year, my weird and beautiful friends!

 

-Chris

And Sweetest in the Gale, Part Two: I Thought I Saw a Cape

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the on less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

– “The Road Not Taken”, Robert Frost

Hey Gang!

Round Two! Ding, Ding!

So, I spoke about a hero of mine. My cousin. He died but is not dead. He was but still is. The man he was is not the man he is. Time and addiction are corrosive to our very being. It is the erosion of our foundation by hit after bump after tablet after drink until we are the husk of what it was that we were. Shadows cast larger than our frame show the greatness that these small bodies once held.

I tell this tale objectively as I am able. This is but an observation. It began a few days after the incident of part one. I was looking forward to meeting with him as it had been months since I had seen him last. It was a beautiful day. The sun shone bright through the skeleton-like trees and a bit of nip in the air was present as he walked up our sidewalk with his mother. This man that is before me looks like my hero. Take a photo and compare them a few years ago and it seems like it is him but I know the truth.

They come in and sit down. He begins to talk about government conspiracies and hacking groups that are monitoring him. He discusses legal issues. You never have a discussion with him when he is like this. You sit back and hold on. You try to keep up with him as his mind unleashes these thoughts and streams of consciousness that are inconsistent. Expletives fly as there is an idealization of crime and objectification of women along with the paranoia of government involvement. Reason is not there any longer and I must admit that I do not shatter this narrative fantasy in which he lives. I listen and try to accommodate. I try to be part of the reality that mental illness and prolonged drug use has helped him construct. Why do I do this? What would happen when the reality you escape to is better than it is and what would happen if that was shattered? I would rather not know.

This time to pretend is sobering to me. How did this happen? The man I looked up to, saw as a father figure in lieu of my own is now a  memory. Our lives are too similar for this disparity.

He is five years older than me and our mothers are the oldest, my mother, and the youngest girl, his mother. We were inseperable as kids. they would come over and we would play for hours. Well, he would play and I would try but I did not “play right’. So, I would watch him play with my G.I. Joes in the Ghostbuster house and watch him unfold these elaborate tales. When they left i would do the same.

Beneath his collar, I thought I saw a cape.

A tragedy happened and they came to live with us for a year or so. He taught me about everything. We talked about girls, video games, and music. He is the reason I got into music. We would lay next to one another on the floor of my small apartment and watch MTV. Hours and Hours of music television. We would sing along to it and began talking about the beauty of Nirvana. The genius of Blues Traveler. The insight of Weird Al Yankovic. The poignant nature of Garbage. These beautiful realities we discussed. He told me facts about the bands and he knew so much more than me about science and math. I would go to school and tell my teachers facts that he taught to me. They would be shocked that I knew such “advanced” things. Five years advanced, maybe?

At the tale of his shirt, I thought I saw a cape.

We got older and he began getting in trouble. So, he moved in with my grandmother and helped her. We would go out and visited them every weekend. It was the highlight of every week. He eventually got to be in high school and should have been too cool to hang out with his 13-year-old cousin, but he did not. We still were close. He began drawing these incredibly elaborate pictures. Beautifully detailed. Talent that was natural. He had the detail that artists study at specialty schools for but he never had a lesson. They were dark and comical, much like our humor. However, cracks began to show. He eventually began getting in even more trouble and decided to extract himself by going into the Navy. I cried as he left the train station. My best friend was leaving.

Beneath his white, long sleeved uniform with a flag on it, I thought I saw a cape.

Years pass and we grow apart as distance filled the gap. I talked with my aunt the whole time but I went into a phase where I started putting distance between myself and my family. I grew up. I started drawing. Music was life. I was training to go into the Navy. I made friends and we started hanging out. My cousin stayed in the Navy. He became a man. I think I began to do the same. He leaves the Navy and eventually marries. They move away and our lives begin to go different ways. I went to college where as he tried to be the family man. He tried.

I see him again, I did not see a cape.

We come back to the present. His talks about conspiracy and delusions of grandeur. I look hard for my hero. His cape fell somewhere far down the line. My hero died sometime ago. I miss him. The person who always took a step up the mountain of life just ahead of me. Now, the only steps I have are my own and it frightens me. He tells me he may go to the local community college. he tells me he wants to get his degree in information technology. I do not know if he is being truthful or if it will come to fruition but for a moment, I thought I saw a glimpse of an old, tattered cape.

When he came back, we hung out quite a bit. He would regale me with all of his life stories. Tall tales that were not tall to me. He looked at me one day as he exhaled smoke from his lungs and said, “Chris, I want to write a book one day. I’m going to tell you stuff and you write it down. Like my biography. You can be my ghostwriter.”

So, with this post, I am no ghostwriter. I have written about a ghost.

-Chris