Say Anything…

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Hey Gang,

It has been an insanely long amount of time since I posted. A lot has happened in my personal life and professional. I graduated, you may now officially call me Master Chris, and I got a job. Here is the thing that I have learned in a relatively short amount of time.

Lesson: You are youer than you.

You probably recognize this from a quote by Dr. Suess. I know most people wouldn’t quote Dr. Suess in a fashion such as this, but I find that it is true. There is a point when you have to reevaluate the steps you have taken in life, the baby ones and the strides. This can be as simple as what you ate for breakfast (Was that too high in calories?…Great, straight to my butt!) or it can come from a deeper place (Is this the ‘forever’ person?….Am I fit to be a parent?). Either way, there is something that we all have to do when we come to crossroads such as these. I did this as well.

I am working at a relatively easy job, with decent pay. It is actually incredibly relaxed as it is a non-traditional role. However, I must admit that something is missing. One of my favorite musicians died not too long ago. BB King had an amazing record called “The Thrill is Gone”; this is how I feel about this new job at this new point in my life.

I ask myself, “If it is all so new, why does it feel so old.”

I am sure you have experienced this too, dear reader. Maybe even as you are working and reading this. Whatever activity you did today, there may be that feeling of deja vu. This feeling of being lost in the woods and suddenly you see a tree but it gives no solace as you have seen that tree multiple times but you are still lost. You realize you have just been going in circles. Maybe this melancholy harkens to you now or some other time.

It is funny to think about it. In this new role, I watch the person who does my same job work fervently as they get things done, a rigorous pace that is on track to cause hypertension, anxiety, and even death. I try to speak of life and things that follow but they talk about work. To everyone, they speak of work. I know that work is their life but it is a fairly simple role. It is only made difficult because you seek a challenge where none can be had.

I realized not too long ago that I need stimulation on a deeper level. It is much like dating in that way for me. You do a job and you find out it isn’t the right fit for you so you have to have an awkward break-up with them. (“I’m happy working this organization but I feel like we have grown apart.”, “I’m sorry but there’s some employer else…”, “They’re not better than you, just different…they have dental.”)

I have chosen the next step. To get my PhD. It just makes sense for me. I loved teaching, as it was the only thing that made sense to me. It is a far cry from the professional role I am in now that has some esteem to it. I realize now that money is meaningless. Fact: Joy can only increase, due to income, until one reaches $75,000 annual salary. After that, it levels off. I realize that money is meaningless to me. You can’t buy the feeling you get when you see a student finally understand a concept. Work dozens of hours and get those worksheets done, but you have missed the silent beauty of the world. You missed some incredible even in a forrest. You missed watching the sun rise and set on a day that will never return. The inescapable cycle we experience regarding work is the hardest pill for me to swallow.

Say “mirror,mirror on the wall, how can I be happiest and end this living life withdrawal?” I think once you hold that mirror up to yourself and you see the person you are, you are able to say, “This is the person I am trying to be” or “This is the person I hoped I wouldn’t be”. The latter is mine. However, remember that the person in the mirror is tentative, fleeting. Tomorrow is a new day but you are youer than you and that is truer than true.

Being you should be a gift. You are all beautiful. Be organic and be truthful. If something isn’t working, make sure you look in the mirror, as I always do, and be honest with yourself. The person in the mirror waits for directions, it waits to be what you feel you want to be. All you have to do is speak the words and put it to task. A job, a love, a longing, an addiction, anything. Just say it. Say something. Silence kills the thing we want to become, the reflection in the mirror stale if you neglect the nectar of life, which is the true you.

You have to say something to that reflected you.

Say anything…

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The Desiderata: Part 2

Part II: Air and Beautiful Things

I knew the solution! I knew that I knew it. It came to me when I found a rumor or legend or falsity or truth about Socrates. I am sure many individuals have heard it but it was knew to me. For sake of your eyes, I will paraphrase, hopefully doing the story justice. Socrates was asked by a student what the secret to success was. So, Socrates and the man walked down to a river and waded out until they were up to their necks in water. Socrates then submerged the man and held him there until he turned blue. Then he let the man up. Socrates then asked him when he was under water, just before he broke the surface, what did he want most.

“Air,” the man said.

Socrates continued, “That is the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you wanted the air, then you will get it. There is no other secret.”

So, I had it. I needed it to be more than just a want to write. I needed it to be biological. I needed it to be in my genes. It had to be part of me. I had to eat to live. Sleep to live, Write to live. I finally had success nailed down and thus I had my writing nailed down. Easy!

I grew uninspired even more than ever. I wanted it more than air. To be published. To write the greatest thing I had ever written and damn anyone who didn’t think that my short story was anything short of incredible! I began to become bland where I hated myself even more. I actually bored myself (yes, it is possible!). A few days ago I was shuffling through Barnes and Noble and I decided to go through the writer’s reference section. I ran across titles that all had the secret to becoming a great writer and get published. They knew what Socrates didn’t somehow. They cracked the code! Yet, it was all just words on pages. Until I found a title that was quiet and yet spoke volumes. No get published quick or “write the perfect sentence now!”. No, it was simple: ‘If You Want To Write” by Brenda Ueland. I picked it up and I have been devouring it. It is such a beautiful book because it really is more than a “be a writer” books. It is really about looking at your creative side and then seeing how some of the greatest artists of all time were not the tortured money hungry individuals that so many of us are today. The type of creature I had become. I read it and learned of van Gogh’s impoverished lifestyle and yet how derangedly happy he was until he went insane. The beauty of the stars through his eyes must have been incredible. He painted what he saw and we are only fortunate enough to see a minutia of that. His paintings are worth millions now. However, when he was alive, his income generated by his paintings total was $109.

She started talking about being truthful. I looked at my own truth and I thought about the first thing I ever wrote as an adult. It was an episode of Smallville. It really was terrible. I laugh now. It was bizarro coming back from outer space and this conflict as he made Clark see the true side of himself. I did this for one simple reason. I was a geek. Still am, really. I wrote it for my best friend Ben, most of all. We had always loved that show and I had an idea. He encouraged me to write it because he wanted to read it. I wrote it and he read it and loved it. I decided to begin a few short stories and eventually began writing more and more screenplays. The first two screenplays I ever wrote were simply to entertain my best friend and my mom. They were really just caricatures of us but in the future and with subtle tweaks. All “what if” scenarios.

I smile now as I remember it. I think remembering our roots is a beautiful thing. This is my DE-evolution. I am going back to that idea that I am simply writing for my best friend. No more criticisms needed from critics in papers or individuals at publishing companies. I will write for my best friend and if people decide to publish it, they can. It is nice to know that my harshest critic is also my best friend.

In the end, I think Socrates was right. You do have to want “it” more than air. What I want more than air is to entertain my best friend and hopefully others will enjoy them as well. This is why this series of blogs are called the desiderata or “desired things”. I am going back to the beginning. Telling stories of my DE- evolution and all of these small, beautiful, desired things.

– 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

Forget Yourself

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Hey Gang!

So, I have been bogged down with taking notes on the textbook that I will be teaching to students this year. It was a terribly dull and arduous four days of taking in-depth notes but i feel as if I could teach speech to great white sharks in a volcano! (can you imagine?)

While doing this is beneficial, it is also quite dull and sucks the creativity out of me. So, I felt uninspired to write. I did take breaks in between to play my bass. I would play around on the strings as I thumped the E string, emitting a beautiful, warm thud that dissipated. I played strings erroneously.

Then, I moved into my old default: Pixies- “Where Is My Mind”. It was the first song that I learned to play and it has always been my go-to song whenever I need to think. My hands, knowing the song all too well, move on their own. They play the opening warm melody and in my head I can hear Kim’s high, angelic voice ooo-ing.

Then I started to remember a conversation that I had via text with one of my best friends. We started talking earlier in the day about perspective. I told him that I was feeling so much better because I was back at school. I felt like I had purpose again. A place. Something was new.

He told me what I had assumed for a long while. He felt alone and was feeling unambitious as well in his austere lifestyle in the military. I couldn’t blame him.

I kept playing as I thought about that conversation and it gave me this mental picture. I usually try to think of things as analogous and metaphorical as possible. It helps me visualize a problem or an event. I guess it is just the way that I am wired.

I saw this boat drifting in the darkness. Rain poured down and the ocean swelled as wave after wave crashed upon the darkened vessel. It bowed and tilted under the stress of the ocean as it went along aimlessly in the mercy of the environment. Then, ahead of the vessel was a beacon. Bright and warm as it beckoned the vessel back to shore.

For some reason, I just started playing notes on my bass and eventually came up with a song that I entitled “Beacon”. I sent the rough recording to him and he seemed to enjoy it. I hope it made his day a bit better. Maybe he even got a bit inspired to play a bit or pick up a pencil to draw again. Either way, I hope it helped.

This got me to think of the past year and the amazing cast of characters that have stepped in and fallen out of my life in that duration. I remember talking to people and when I spoke of feeling insufficient; so much less than, they would usually have the same response but in different terms:

You need a girl.

I suppose the idea was if I were to be with someone or “be with someone” that my situation would be solved. That everything would be fine.  I see this a lot in the people I have met. Love, or the semblance of, is some sort of cure all band-aid for us. Love is the answer, the drug that satiates some sort of unexplainable hunger. Love is that part of us that needs to be filled for us to be full. To be a whole person.

I wondered for a while, during my little break between note-taking, about that idea. Should I have done that? Should I have just been with someone and let that preoccupy me?

Would I be whole?

Then I answered my own question when I thought about what I had just asked myself, should I let it preoccupy me. Thus meaning that somehow Love, with a capital L, would be a distraction from whatever was the real problem.

I feel like I talk about a lot of things on my blog when relating to relationships but I hardly ever talk about love. Maybe platonic but not romantic. Even if you read Clocks, you still only read about that closeness that I admire and would enjoy. Love is different and more complex than synchronicity.

I have never been in Love. Sounds great but just never has happened. Optimistic it will happen but what I do know about the subject is that it is not a bandage. It is an added attribute, not the prosthetic limb to “complete” me.

No, I know what I was looking for now. There are some things greater than love. They overthrow its throne, in my belief. They are what can take the ship from sea and what has been my goal all along.

The power of self-respect and self-efficacy.

These are what complete us. They complete me. That moment when you look in the mirror and know who you are is brilliant. It’s a symphony that exudes such delightful notes. It slips seamlessly from chord to chord, note to note. It plays a song unique to you.

It’s your song, now just to listen!

Once you understand yourself. Respect yourself. You can be open to the world that is truly beautiful. Let fall to the wayside those who try to break down what you have built in yourself. If you lose yourself, it is only you who can find you.

Hear your song and then, when you gain the power of self-respect and self-efficacy; when you know yourself, you can finally know how beautiful this all can be. The complexity of Love and pondering its meaning as a standalone entity and not a bandage. The revelations of just how close you can get to another when you are you. You are able to be present and live without regret because, in the end, you are doing what you know is true to you. You are true to yourself.

You finally see, with unfiltered eyes, the beauty that is life.

-Chris

 

 

I found this quote today that inspired this blog from one of my all-time favorite authors and playwrights and I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music- the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasure, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget Yourself.

– Henry Miller

 

And Then The Moon

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Hey Gang!

 

“No man is so utterly dull and obtuse with head so bent on Earth, as never to lift himself up and rise with all his soul to the contemplation of the starry heavens, especially when some fresh wonder shows a beacon-light in the sky…So natural is it to admire what is strange rather than what is great.” – Seneca The Younger

 

I am a tourist.

The sun shown through my eyelids creating a pink hue as I rested my head on the metal siding of the large warehouse where I had just started working. I remember being exhausted from the job. I had never done factory work and the labor jobs I had had in previous weeks were hard but fun. This was different. This was a job of standing in a single place and repetitive movements. After a few days I could barely walk or stand. My back felt like two baseball bats were on either side of my spine and I took fistfuls of Ibuprofen just to get by.

It was break time and I sat by myself on the hot concrete as I was just a temporary employee. That’s the way it has been over the past few weeks. I jump from job to job and learn the new tasks. I am always having to tell my back story. Eventually it runs out in monotonous splendor. Yes, I am with a temp agency. Yes, I am from here. I do, in fact, know that I look Hawaiian. I am going back to school soon. This is not my career.

They ask me “What the hell am I doing here?”

It would bring me down because I was perpetually the new guy but in most instances it was an amazing bit of fun.

I worked in frame molding shop which was fun and hilarious. Although, they had me put the frames in shipping boxes. I have previously stated that I came from a single parent household where my mother raised me. She really had no inclination for using tools and things like that. To this day she calls me to help fix the TV when she hits the wrong button, which is usually the power button.

So, I put most of the molding in the bins and when I am done they ask me to help box. What I didn’t know was that they had a compressed air staple gun that had to be used. I stapled carefully and slowly as I was afraid to staple myself to…myself. It was at the height where you realized, “I should be careful here. I DO want kids some day.”

Later, I worked a day labor job for a cat fanciers competition. We set up tables and placed cages. I helped set up tables for vendors and they were all very great people. The one thing that scarred my frontal lobe was the cage I picked up that had skin and fur still attached to it. I mean, I am not a cat kinda guy but I felt bad for that poor feline.

I worked at a non-profit organization where we took donations.

PSST! Come closer to the screen. I don’t want anyone else to read this. Generally, the people who brought donations in brought TV’s, Computers, Laptops and all sorts of gently used electronics. We shook their hand and when they asked if people were going to get a use for it, we would say, “It’s going to help us out a lot. Thanks!”

The “help” came as they drove off and we picked up those TVs, Computers and the like and launched them into recycling bins. I would often pick up the biggest TV and heave it through the air into a bin with other TVs. It would crash and green circuit boards would go flying. This is how it was. We would toss these electronics that were treated with such care right up until we slammed them into a box. They would then be shipped off and taken to a recycling center where the money they get from recycling goes back into the agency…but you didn’t hear that from me.

Finally, I worked at this factory that shipped an unnamed product for sore muscles. I helped pack the materials but I had never worked in a factory before. I didn’t mind lifting more than a hundred pounds quite often in my other jobs but this was working at machines I had never used before in heat up to a bit over 100 degrees. We stood there and did the same action over and over. They kept asking me how my back was and I am a victim of pride so I would never admit that it hurt so bad I wanted to cry. They pushed me harder and harder and never spoke to me after I told them I was going to get my Master’s degree. They treated me like a pariah and even talked about how I wasn’t keeping up and it pissed them off.

It was my second day.

So, I was sitting on the side of the building with my head resting against it. They all sat laughing a few feet away, never acknowledging me. I looked down and saw this gas station cup that had tipped over and ants were walking up to the spillage of caramel colored liquid and then walking back to the crack in the concrete. I watched them for the entire 15 minute break. The pain in my back and knees faded as I thought about these ants. Doing this one job and following orders. I thought to myself, “I wish I just saw one ant go off by himself. Just see him thinking ‘F#$% The System’ and walk away.”

Those ants stuck with me as I returned to work. At lunch, they all talked around me. I was there in presence but never acknowledged. They all spoke of baby mama drama and how good the chilli and hooch was in the county jail. I couldn’t help but realize that I had nothing in common with them but I wanted to know them. They looked at me and just saw a guy passing through. A name and a person to do a job. Nothing more. A removable object.

I am a tourist.

My back hurt so bad I could barely move and after one of the men basically said he likes to go fast and didn’t want to work with someone who didn’t know what he was doing, I quit the week long assignment after 3 days. I came home and lay in the floor as Sofie came over to play. My breath was shortened by the sharp stings of pain along my vertebrae.

I slept that night in a daze of pain relief medication. The next day I went with my mother to pay bills and I was really bummed about the whole situation. I felt as if I had failed again.

We go into a thrift shop, as we always do this time of the month and I wander around. I look at the trinkets and gadgets. The old sterling silver table lighter and the porcelain choir singing. The not-so-gently used furniture and the questionable lamps. Then, at the back corner I find a bit of treasure. I found a telescope!

For anyone who has been reading a bit, you know I am a nerd about space. I memorized the constellations when I was a kid and am a regular subscriber to “Astronomy” magazine. If you were to look at me and talk to me you would never think that I was enamored with the way a Quasar is formed and fueled by a supermassive black hole.

This 1967 Jason Explorer 400 was mine. It was dusty and dirty but I took it home and cleaned it up. I took it outside and sat beneath th clear night sky. I tried to find stars but they only looked like blurry twinkling dots. The moon was just an obscurred light bulb. I took out the lenses and switched and then I saw it. I went outside and then then moon peaked out from behind the large oak tree out back. I caught a glimpse of it.

I had been frustrated that day, from pain and from feeling like I had failed, but I found triumph in that I saw the moon. It’s porous surface became clear. I looked at the craters and felt so close to its’ surface. I am not sure how long I sat there but it seemed like moments. In all actuality it was more than an hour.

I came back inside and thought about it. How great it was and then I thought back to those ants. Those ants still stuck with me. They did what they were compelled to do. I admired them.

I am a tourist but I got to meet people who were compelled to do these jobs. They were being paid much more than I but they were still doing these jobs that are incredibly hard. They go on behind the scenes. The people who do the small things that we never even know about to take for granted are some of the greatest people I have met. They are parents and husbands. They work hard and they play hard. They do what they have to do because they are compelled to do it. They may not like the job but it is about self efficacy and being able to use that money to do what needs to be done. I have met amazing people and objectionable people but I enjoyed meeting them all the same.

Even if I was just passing through.

These were foreign and strange jobs and people whom I was glad to get to know. I was in a place where just a few dollars helped but I gained a lot from these jobs. I gained knowledge of what was on the other side of the fence. The moon was my little win. It was that beacon that heralded the message of, “Keep your head up. Keep searching.”

I am a tourist now but it is not permanent. So, I enjoy the sights now and keep them for later.

 

– Chris