The Looming Monster

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Hey gang!

Sometimes I wonder about me. The other me. The insecure part of ourselves that tends to bleed through. I always wonder what that part of me would be like if it was the me that is the most prevalent part.

We all have these masks that hide our crazy, right? In dating, I call it the “three month monster”. Three months, I have found, is the amount of time needed to have that ugly part of us rear its’ head and snarl.

“I never want to hear about your ex because I worry they are better looking than me,” it squeals.

“I feel the need to drag you down because I feel like I don’t deserve you the way you are,” it says slobbering in your ear.

“I cannot let people in,” it growls.

These things are hard to hear or understand when it’s external. We think my gawd! this crazy so and so is frightening. I need to jump out of this relationship with or without a parachute! Burn it! Burn it with fire!

However, sometimes, when we look at ourselves, we can see that creature. We face it, whether we like it or not. What does yours look like?

I know what mine looks like. It’s large and looming. Somewhere in the corner of the room. Its head hits the ceiling and it crouches its bulk to fit. It grumbles in my ear from afar. It tells me I’m insecure about my worth, it tells me I’m not good enough. It reminds me that I am completely un-whole.

I am sure you’re thinking to yourself, “This dude has issues.” You’re right. I do. Who doesn’t? I feel like to live a decent life, you have to have some issues. If you don’t, what have you come up against? What struggle has shaped you the way water shapes the earth it runs across?

However, when we realize our issue monster looms over us, inside of us, what do we do?

Do we confront it? Do we hide it? Do we embrace it?

This image of me in the corner is ever present but it is up to me, to us, to remember that it is merely a part of us. We are gatekeepers. The masks we have hide them. I suggest getting rid of the mask and confronting the beast. It’s the only way to truly move forward. I recognize the me-creature who whispers to me things about myself I hope aren’t true but I take it with a grain of salt and smile.

Why do I smile?

I smile because, without me, there is no monster.

Rotten Hamburger

Eject, Emit, Expel, Gag, Heave, Hurl, Nasty, Puke

 

Hey Gang!

My aunt’s birthday was Monday. The family got together, which rarely happens, and we all went out to dinner. It was a great day. The End.

Kidding.

It was a fantastic day, but I couldn’t help but realize how different I act around my family. I’ve been to college and I consider myself a somewhat douche-y intellectual. However, above all, I consider myself a good dude. It takes family to remind you just how awful you really are.

My family has always been a pretty dark humored bunch. Dark humor tends to come about from dark circumstances. My family is no different. We yell and we cry and we laugh through the dark times, of which there seem to be many. Usually, I am silly and goofy and joke about fun things but when I get together with my family, I can tell how much I change. Normal things I find taboo tend to  come front and center for cracking jokes about.

I drove down a few back roads on our way to lunch. The cool air ripped around us while we remained toasty inside, to my lament. I always enjoy things between 65-67 degrees. My aunt likes her temps between 73-hell fire degrees. It was her birthday so I said, “Well, I suppose it’s okay that I have back sweat for a little while.”

“Turn down that road over there,” Josh said pointing left. As we’ve gotten older and dealt with our own demons, I notice our bond growing. Pain knowing pain. He points down an old road leading to town.

“I thought you were hungry? Eyes on the prize,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” Josh said as he sat back into the passenger seat. He looked the smallest bit defeated. I would have felt bad had I not been hungry enough to literally eat a person (not the whole person, just, like, a leg or something).

“Well, we should go by there after dinner. There’s a creeper* van back there for sale. Who the hell would buy that?” he shook his head.

“I mean, maybe it’s meant for kidnapping,” I said. “You know, long windows and all that. Pretty easy stuff.”

We laughed. What follows from there is a conversation only meant for those in the car. However, I will tell you that, by the end, Josh had a Haram and massive house where they stayed in a particular wing and cleaned or made love to him. I, on the other hand, was madly rich because I “procured” people. Basically I was like the other side of Taken but for high class individuals. No garbage, drug-laden prostitute dens. Sultans only!

We grabbed dinner and hopped back in the car. There was a lot of heavy breathing and burps, as usually follows a trip to Golden Corral.

Josh mentioned he felt like he was about to throw up. I told him he should just let loose as it wasn’t my car.

“Must’ve been all that ROTTENNNN HAMBURGERRRR,” Josh said in a gravelly voice and glass shattered in my mind.

Isn’t it funny how things in our childhood drift away? We say or do something that is funny or terrible in the moment and then time happens. You fall in and out of love, go through school, and live your life. All the while, this one event gets pushed further and further back until someone casts their line out, hook it, and reel it to the surface.

All I needed to hear was “Rotten Hamburger” and that old memories wriggled on the hook like an angry bass.

I was seven or eight; Josh would have been twelve or thirteen. We spent most of the day together and had McDonald’s. He started feeling nauseated and we went home. He started throwing up and I was an asshole. I decided to peek my chubby brown face around the corner and lightly taunt him.

“Oh, not feeling so well?”

*blargghhhh*

*huffing*

“You know what it probably was? That hamburger. Didn’t it taste funky?”

*wretch*

*heavy breathing*

“Chris, shut the hell up and go sit down,” my mom yelled to me as she rubbed my cousin’s back.

“That’s it. It must have been that ROTTENNN HAMBURGERRR”

*violent barfing*

“It was so brown. I bet the cook didn’t even wash his hands when he served it up. I can smell all that ROTTENNN HAMBURGERRR.”

*coughing*
*brown puke*

I repeated it in differing ways, each time met with a concert of burping, puking, gagging, and farting.

I finally weaseled my way between my mom and aunt to continue my verbal assault but I stopped in my tracks.

It was the combination, really. The mixture of the sour bile smell mixed with a big mac all swirled up with half-digested fries hung in the air while the toilet in front of me bled brown, chunky liquid. The high pressure of vomit smell and the low pressure of disgusting brown chunks everywhere met and created a tornado in my stomach.

I felt dizzy and stumbled backward. To the kitchen, threw my head into the sink and through up so hard my back popped. It was one of those vomit sessions where it just keeps coming and when you finally feel like you have nothing left in you, it comes again.

My cousin walked in watery eyed behind me. I turned for a moment to see him smiling.

“Must’ve been that ROTTENNN HAMBURGERRR,” he smirked.

My stomach convulsed and a symphony of terrible noises came from my body as I hurled everything I had into the sink.

A split second later, I was back in my car’s driver’s seat.

I nearly crashed laughing. I apologized profusely.

“It’s okay. It’s funny now,” Josh said.

It is funny now. All of it. When you’ve known someone your whole life, you’re watching their life movie while living yours. My movie left that scene on the cutting room floor but for his movie, it made the cut.

I realized how much of an asshole I was as a kid. Doing anything for a laugh. Then I thought about who I was just hours before when talking about the creeper van. I’ve come to realize, for better or worse, we are our truest selves when around those who hold a mirror up to us and show us who we were.

-Chris

 

Momento Animalis

Gorilla, Monkey, Primate, Animal, Portrait, Face

Hey Gang!

I recently came across the Non-Human Rights Project (NhRP). Essentially they are proposing we treat animals such as elephants, wales, dolphins and, most notably, chimpanzees as “persons”. Steve Wise, founder of NhRP, made it his mission to treat them as civil cases much like the women’s rights, civil rights, and gay marriage movements. It isn’t quite the same, of course, as he isn’t saying the personhood for animals is at the same level as the previously mentioned, but he is saying that we have different concepts of what a right is and those groups eventually found legal rights in America.

It’s funny to me that this search is even a search. I think his argument should be pushed through but probably not for the reason you think. You see, I, of course, have empathy for chimps and other animals great and small, however, I also see that we are all animals.

I have this quirky thing I do sometimes. Unfortunately, I am going to make you step into my head.

Picture this:

You walk down the street and there are animals everywhere. Chimpanzees skulk along busy sidewalks as they chip and chirp to one another. They stop into small stores and grab a bite. The smell of exhaust permeates your senses and they drive through the busy metropolitan streets that other chimpanzees built by sheer mental fortitude.

You walk further down the street and look down an alley. There, in the darkened hall of brick and mortar are two chimpanzees brutally assaulting another. It feels barbaric and you want to stop it but the sheer brutality of it makes you realize how much of an animal they really are. How uncivilized they are. You run away. You cross street after street as you try to forget the tableau of violence you stumbled upon and end up at a small park. You see chimpanzees roaming around. They crawl up trees and down them. They run openly in the park. A chimpanzee sits on the black, metal bench across from you. In her black fur covered arms, two small brown eyes blink back at you. She begins breast feeding the small chimpanzee. She looks at the baby with delight. Her eyes are large and round with a watery glisten to them as she looks at her tiny progeny.

You look down at your feet and, when you look up, you are surrounded by monolithic grey creatures. Their tusks jut out in front of them and their trunks sway back and forth. You’re in a grassy area surrounded by tombstones. In front of you is a small mound about the size of you. A tombstone just behind the dirt mound says the elephant died at the age of two. You see them walk in time as the elephants’ trumpeting trunks scream into the darkened sky. They circle the grave shaking their heads back and forth crying out in emotional pain. They’ve lost something. They’ve lost someone.

You’re back. You’re reading this and wondering why I’m juxtaposing these things.

What makes you a person? If you think it’s because your part of a community, you’re right. So are they. If it’s because you think and feel, so do they. If you think it’s because you speak and articulate, so do they.

I only spoke of this, not to show you how close to humans they are, but to remind you of the animal that YOU are. We are animals navigating the world. We give meaning to society because it’s a natural thing to do in the animal kingdom. Insanity is defined by Miriam – Webster as extreme foolishness or irrationality. We share over 99% of our genes with Chimpanzees and yet we cage them. We cage our own creatures because we fear them. In Africa, Human Zoos were quite common just a century ago. These dark skinned people looked so odd and different. They dressed strangely and worshipped different gods. They were lesser. It’s archaic to say that now and even more so to imagine it happening again. Creatures caged simply for the oddity of existing.

We make laws not meant for protecting them as entities but as things.

How can one thing hold so much over another. If they’re “things” then so are we. Look at how similar we are in “thingness”.

Replace the city street scene with humans. Is that brutality still animalistic or is it just “human nature”? Is it a mother feeding her child or is it indecency? Is it a funeral or are they just upset animals?

I could show so much more here of how we are nothing but animals who out number most semi-large mammals and how we are ruining the planet for the others.

In the end, this whole post was meant to do one thing. It was to show you that you, an ape, can read what another ape wrote. That communication is happening and you understand me much like every other animal on earth understands those within their own species.

This is your reminder that you are part of something bigger in this world.

Remember that you traverse the same ecosystem as every other creature and you are just as fragile.

Remember how it feels to lose another human creature. Then think of other animals’ losses and how much they feel.

Remember, when you stroll through the zoo, that you share 50% of your genes with every creature there. Expand that to every living creature on earth. One creature looking back at another.

Remember why you have hair all over you and why your teeth are structured the way they are and why you have opposable thumbs and why you still have a tail bone.

This is your reminder.

This is your memento animalis.

30 Signs You May Be In Your 30s

 

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Hey Gang!

My least favorite addiction happens to be the clickbait lists found scattered across the Internet (I’m looking at you Buzzfeed…). I can’t help but read them.

“Article”: 15 things that only humans know.

Me: Hmm, I’m human. I bet I can relate to these!

That’s really what it is all about. They give out broad generalities to make you say, “Hey, that’s me!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on the type of entertainment they’re presenting. If anything, I’m congratulating them with a bit of my own pastiche. What I am saying is I’m not sure if my celebrity husband is Chris Pratt. I always thought of myself as a Ryan Gosling kind of guy but if a Buzzfeed test says I’m going to marry Chris Pratt, I guess I better go look at rings this weekend (I hear he is single! *squeal*).

I thought it would be fun to do something not broad at all. I want to be incredibly specific and use personal experience (my cells have decayed for about 31 years now).

Here is a list of 30 signs you may be in your 30s.

  • You hear any song by UB40 and think, “Hey, that’s pretty good!”
  • You think of dating as being an interviewer. You’ve moved past the phase where you want to hold them and watch the stars float overhead in the moonlit night. You’re now asking them direct and hard questions. You like long walks in the rain? Cool. How is your 401k? Do you have health insurance? What’s your student debt like?
  • You look into the mirror and notice a slightly receding hairline. You pull some hair down to cover it and tell yourself, Man, this bathroom lighting is awful. Better switch to LED bulbs.
  • You look at your growing amount of gray hair and believe you are “pulling it off” but really you look like the creeper who lives in the house down the street that everyone avoids on their morning power walks.
  • 10 p.m. is REALLY pushing your bed time.
  • You find it harder and harder to meet friends for drinks because the usual response is, “I wish I could but the kids really want to go to skyzone tonight. Have a drink for me!”
  • You notice your body is changing but not in that look-at-me-ma-I’m-a-growing-teen kind of way. It’s more so pops and cracks that make you think, That didn’t sound good at all…
  • You get depressed because your favorite restaurant started putting a calorie count next to their menu items.
  • If you have kids, you realize why your parents always said, “I hope you have one just like you.” Because you did and you kind of hate your younger self a.k.a. your current child/part-time hellspawn.
  • You begin “drunk-proofing” yourself. Okay, keys are in my right pocket, phone is in my left pocket with 911 speed dialed at position 1, I.D. and 20 dollars are in my shirt pocket, and I drank 16oz of Pepto-Bismol. Tonight is going to be awesome!
  • Fast forward to the day after you “only had a couple drinks.” You realize you had 4 beers and 2 shots. Someone may have bought a round but you aren’t sure. You also realize that obviously Daenerys Targaryen said “dracarys” and your brain is on fire from a massive hangover. You may have lost your soul from vomiting as well.
  • You get mad at your friend when you ask them what they are doing and they say, “Me and Beth are going to Tanner’s Orchard. Pretty stoked!” What makes this worse is that you are 30% mad because you wanted to hang with the person and have a friend brunch, but you are 70% angry because you weren’t invited and you fucking LOVE orchards (I mean fresh apples? Come on…).
  • You love brunch. Like, a lot. So much so that you may actually go by yourself even though you know they will put you over by the bathrooms at the tiny table or the table on the patio closest to the curb where inevitably someone is smoking and you think, What is this? A Jim Jarmush movie? Who still smokes?
  • You eat one, just one, piece of pizza and you gain 30 pounds. This is directly averse to when you were in your 20s and could eat 4 slices of pizza, 6 hot wings, and 8 beers. You would then be hungry roughly 3 hours later. Never. Gained. A. Pound.
  • You get really into loose-leaf tea and craft beers for some reason. Like, really into them.
  • You realize dating on apps is probably the worst thing on earth but you still have no idea how to hit on someone in public so you walk up to them and whisper, “Swipe right” lightly into their ear.
  • You hear Sade’s “Smooth Operator” and your shoulders gently sway left and right uncontrollably.
  • You begin statements by saying “when I was your age…” without any semblance of irony.
  • People between 18 and 24 look like toddlers playing dress up.
  • You start looking for “practical” cars. They most likely have heated seats, no spoiler, and “get great gas mileage.” Most times people will call it a van but you have to reiterate it is a mid-size SUV.
  • Kombucha becomes part of your diet. You hate it but you hear it’s “so good for you.”
  • Your doctor says, “That’s just part of getting older” way too much for your liking.
  • You’re super worried about when you should start getting a colonoscopy. (Including right now after reading this.)
  • You’re perpetually “hangry” due to only eating things that are supposedly good for you even though they taste like Styrofoam had a love child with cardboard.
  • You read non-fiction and actually enjoy it. Like, you seek it out. You sit down (probably with a glass of that oolong tea you brewed at home with your new tea set from China) and you open the book. You probably read the forward as well.
  • You refuse to date someone who has never heard of All That, Are You Afraid Of The Dark, or Bill and Ted’s Awesome Adventure.
  • Speaking of dating, you have come to the conclusion that people in their 30s who are still single are insane. You then have an existential crisis because YOU’RE in your 30s and still single so you must be crazy and it hurts your soul.
  • You don’t feel “immortal” like you did in your early 20s. This means you probably avoid super dangerous things like walking over sewer grates, getting too much sun (Luckily you wear enough sunscreen you look like the creeper from the Little Baby’s Ice Cream commercials), and you have your own grave plot picked out.
  • You track your steps.
  • You’re perfectly okay with not being okay all the time.
  • You love being in your 30s because you have a decent job and enough life experience to know what you want out of life and who you want in your life because you are awesome and so is your aforementioned life.

 

Until next week, friends!

 

-Chris

The RV Stalks At Noon

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Hey Gang!

 

I admit that I have an overactive imagination. I can’t help it. I have been creating these overt, elaborate plots of nothingness for no reason. For example, I once went for a walk on a trail in the back woods with some friends. Along the way, we found barrettes, a small pillow, and a blanket. As a precursor to my revelation, this is adjacent to a campground and fishing; well-travelled it is, as Yoda would say (did you read that in his voice? J). What then unraveled in my mind was that there was a serial killer on the loose in the woods, killing people while they sleep and burying them along the trail…and we were next! Completely true story! Not the murders, the imagination.

Another instance is that, on a date,   we sat and made up stories of all the people around us. We sat next to kings and queens, spies, and everything under the sun. It was a fun night and rare that you meet someone who shares that imagination with you. I understand that my imagination is ridiculous but it is fun and makes the mundane seem like a festival. However, it does get to me. I get uber-paranoid because I let my imagination run. For instance, I was driving through town and the car behind me mirrored every turn that I made. It was unnerving because I thought of every Creepypasta and episode of Alfred Hitchcock that was even remotely similar and it made me freak out. I started going faster, and they matched my speed, I slowed down thinking they would go around but nope, they stayed behind me. I finally whipped into my parking lot to see them speed past and into the distant night. I let out a long exhale and contemplated my sanity.

Fast forward to now. I come to work and every day there is an RV camped out in our lot. We share a rather large parking lot with a couple other corporate buildings. This isn’t your average RV; this is the watch-the-back-windows-for-someone-mouthing-“help” type of RV. It has not moved in 2 months and I have to say, it is a bit creepy but it is bringing out my inner sleuth. I have seen a balding man come out of it once and walk up to the building. The next time I saw him place something on the back bumper and then hop in a little S10 with filing cabinets in it and drive away. Below are the theories I have come up with:

  1. He works there and is having an unfortunate circumstance where he cannot afford a house
  2. He may be in the movement of not planting roots.
  3. He is a murderer that is on the move and needs to be mobile to finish his awful deeds
  4. He is using the RV as a kidnap shack in the open because he secretly wants to get caught
  5. It broke down after he was traveling the world, making it by ship from Russia and is too attached to just leave it
  6. He is a member of a secret society that only live in RVs used in ‘80s horror movies
  7. He is Illuminati….
  8. He may or may not be a vampire, which means I am living the real version of Fright Night
  9. He is a meth dealer who used to be a chemistry teacher and now has cancer but this is his way of paying for the bills and not leaving his family in debt (followed closely by his sidekick, Jessie).
  10. I need to get a life.

It’s definitely one of these!

-Chris

Campfire Tales Part 2: Creepy-Crawlies and The Scream That Ended The Trip

This was the first time I had ever camped, except in my ninja turtle tent in my bedroom floor as a tot. I feel like that doesn’t count.

I know one thing, the dark is pretty terrifying. Let me clarify, what is in the dark, or the possibility thereof, is terrifying. I use this preface to go on about when our noses started to run. We had no toilet paper, tissues, or paper towels. However, in the darkened exterior of the camp, about 50 yards away, was the public restroom. Ben essentially made fun of me when I proposed we both go look for toilet paper. It didn’t bother me. At least this way, when the three-eyed beast came to eat me, I wouldn’t be alone in its stomach!

I carried my gas lantern as Ben led the way to the outhouse. It was impossibly dark only three feet away from the lantern. This made my mind go to places I didn’t know possible, which is kind of impressive for me, no?

We get to the bathroom and he opens the door. I peek around inside, slowly lifting the lantern up to illuminate the small, dark space, and notice cockroaches all over the bathroom. Ceiling, floor, and walls were covered by long, dark insects. I was blown away from disgust.

“Got it,” Ben says as he takes a roll from the bathroom.

He passes in front of me. Now, the entire time he was in there, all I saw was the left side of his body. As he passes, I see the right side of him…which is now home to about four massive cockroaches. I try to emote but it comes out in stumbles.

“Er.. You..On your back…Cockroach! Dude! Dude!”

Now, there are two versions on what happened next. Ben’s recounting and then the real story.

Ben said it freaked him out that I was yelling. That’s why he jumped.

What really happened:

He had a look of shear horror as he ran into the darkness swatting cockroaches off his back. I was dying laughing at this point. Grossed out and laughing.

He skulks as he is visibly embarrassed. We go back to the fire and blow our running, cold noses as the fire dies out. It is then the cold sets in but above us are stars; billions of stars unlike anything I had ever seen. We stood there looking upwards in the cold for quite a while.

Ben then decided he needed to go back to the truck for something. I thought, “Oh god…I have to be by myself in the dark with a broken lantern (lantern broke, I guess a breeze blew by and knocked it over. I blame karma).”

He went off and I became hyper-aware of my surroundings. My ears perked up and I could hear every insect landing on a leaf from 10 meters away. It was terrifying for no real reason. I felt like I was being watched the entire evening and now, by myself, it was amplified. He finally skulked back but the feeling never left me. We stood there growing colder but still in awe of the heavens above us for a while longer.

That was when we heard the lack of frogs croaking. It was silent. I remarked something to him for a moment, I can’t recall right now, and that is when we heard this blood-curdling scream coming from where we fished not but a few hours ago. We looked at each other in shock. The scream continued and moved up towards us as if it was coming up the hill. We were immobile. It then sounded like it went through the woods, which Ben’s back was to, and then flew over head and away. Its scream drowned out as it flew into the distance.

“So, go to sleep?” I said.

“Umm, yeah,” he quickly retorted.

We dove into the tent and set up the partition between us. We joked about the sound for a bit, calling it a witch, and then went to sleep. The next day, the boredom and monsters finally got to us. We decided to fish one last time in the main river and head home.

I guess that’s how most people camp, right? Fear and boredom?

Stay tuned for my next campfire tale: Mr. Raccoon has his day!

-Chris

Campfire Tales Part 1: Chris, Ben and the Infinite Boredom

Hey Gang!

So, it is getting that time of year where being outdoors becomes a life-goal. I have decided to tell a few stories of literally the only times I have been camping. It is funny, my best friend Ben and I have this saying: We can never be normal. It does not matter how boring the activity we do is, we never have a genuine normal experience. There was one time where we hung out, went to best buy, scoped out chicks with our 17-year-old eyes at the mall, grabbed lunch, and started our way home. Nothing abnormal happened. It was a beautiful sunny day with the windows rolled down and the breeze coming in through the small s10’s windows. Once again, it was completely normal, until a huge yellow jacket flew into the cab at about 55 miles per hour. We swerved and screamed as it landed on us and around us. After what seemed like an hour, the bug flew away and we breathed a sigh of relief, laughed, and yelled “Why?!”

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

These are some more (s’more, get it?!) of our stories that should have been a relaxing or uneventful tale, but took a sharp right. I think it makes for a better story anyway.

We found this great little place off a major lake a few years back. It was great and we wanted to spend the entire weekend camping in my massive tent that is bigger than my dorm room in undergrad. We get there and it is probably a hike of about an eighth of a mile in to where we camp. The walk way is beautiful and green. The path laid flat by lawnmowers. It had a natural elegance to it that I couldn’t put my finger on.

We put the tent up and went for a short hike along a path. We wound around and found a small two-person boat someone had repurposed as a bridge. The earth showed signs of recent flooding. The trees bent over the river in towering ways. It was quite beautiful. Until we got lost. I am not sure how it happened. Maybe it was the boat that threw us off or maybe our imaginations that ran wild when we saw cigarette butts and old, empty beer cans. Whatever it was, we got lost. I guess “lost” is a harsh word. We could see houses about a mile away and we could hear traffic but we could not find a way out of the wooded area or where our campground was. We felt crazy and slightly embarrassed.

“What if this is how we die?” I remember joking but not.

We found our way out as the sun began to set. We went fishing at a little pond about 100 feet downhill from where our tent was. We caught small sunfish most of the day and finally gave up on catching the big ones. We walked back to our tent as the sun set. I don’t really remember what we ate for dinner or anything like that. I do remember one thing….

We were so bored. I mean the bored that sent you into crazy fits. I remember at one point we were gathered around the fire as the pink sky faded into night. It was quiet except for the buzzing of insects and the croaking of frogs. Orange and black alternated around the foliage near the fire. I remember looking up at Ben, as he carved something out of a large branch, and thinking about how much he looks primal. It was all so very primal. I too was carving wood; a wooden shiv because what do you do with empty time.

We grunted and laughed every once in a while. We eventually found out that we each had been creating shivs; his more brilliantly crafted than mine, I admit.

END OF PART 1

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

A Life Less Ordinary Part II: Jazz and Chuck Berry’s Ding-a-Ling

PROLOGUE

Omission (n):

1.someone or something that has been left out or excluded.
I have decided to omit the time period between the events of part one and part to of these blogs. I feel that it is an important precursor to say that events transpired and that said events were terribly personal. I feel that those are my own. After this prologue, I shall jump into the moment when the dark skies cleared.
-Chris
###
I needed release. I decided that the only way to achieve this was to drive. I think that the mind and body are connected and at the time of the event my body and mind were out of sync. My mind never present where my body resided. I was thread stretched too thin. I was being compressed. I lost my identity to someone else. Someone I didn’t know. Someone older and more assertive but someone who wasn’t me. I felt like an actor. I felt like a poseur in my own body.
I drove my mother’s convertible out to my friend’s going away party, as he was leaving for Georgia. It was a fairly decent get together. I was feeling somewhat awkward because I knew no one but I played with my phone in the corner for a bit and had a beer or two. I eventually made small talk with a friend’s parents and we sat together the rest of the time. I was just trying to forget the events of the past few days and what was to come.
I had a typical “me” moment of freaking out. My friends niece was running in between tables that everyone was sitting around and she got about two feet from me and fell…hard. My friend’s mother said, “Aw, look what you did Chris…” She was joking, of course, but from others’ perspective it, in fact, did look like I tripped a 3-year-old. I slinked out of the room and went to the bathroom as people were giving me the evil eye. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it was having all of those elderly and middle-aged eyes looking through you like you were a monster. I had three options: 1. run back in there and begin a long speech by starting with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I implore you…” 2. Go back in and pretend nothing happened. 3. Run out to my car and drive away.
I chose option 2.
Afterwards, we had our goodbyes. It was sad seeing him go but at the same time I know we will keep in touch so I simply said, “Until next time.” I had gotten him a cigar and a box of oatmeal (that’s an inside joke for another time).  I got one for myself as well.
I left with a bit of sadness in my heart but I couldn’t bring myself to go back home. Home, that word now sounded like prison. I just needed to be outside. To be simple. To be alone for a bit. Alone from everyone and everything. Even my own thoughts.
There is this really beautiful stretch of road that only has a few houses on it. It is scenic. Rolling green hills and cornfields, soy bean fields and cow farms; it was all so simple. I decided to go down that rocky gravel road instead of heading home. I put the top down on the convertible and plugged my phone in to turn on Pandora. I had been obsessed with a song by Lil Green called “Why don’t you do right”.
So, I turned on some jazz and lit up my extremely large cigar. The wind blew around me as early 20th century jazz came through my speakers. I would take in a long draw while Louis Armstrong growled in front of his ensemble. Hollow horns and woodwinds came through my speakers out in the forgotten roads as the sun turned a warm honey-yellow.
I just lived in the moment. I had nothing on my mind but where the steering wheel would turn and when.
I take another long draw and listen to those old songs that popped and crackled in my ears. Wind blew off the corn fields, giving off their musty scent. I took in everything sensible. Aural, Oral and touch were preoccupied but everything else was sedate. My mind was at the mercy of my senses and I reveled in it.
Those old voices spoke to me from decades ago. I could feel the emotion conveyed by Billie Holiday, Doris Day and their contemporaries. I was back in a different time. I was in another place. For a few hours worth of driving, I was transported to a place where I was a tourist and it was beautiful.
My cigar began to wain, as did the sun’s light just as a song came on that I had never heard before. It was “My Ding-A-Ling” by Chuck Berry. It is one of the greatest songs I had ever heard for people as semi-immature and perverse-minded as me. I listened and hung on to every word that Chuck sang about how much he played with his ding-a-ling and I cracked up. It was a live performance, so he had the audience sing along with him and I obliged.
The song ended and as the sun nestled just over the horizon, making the sky turn pink, I slowed the car down a bit and took the cigar out of my mouth. I looked around and saw nothing but cornfields. I grabbed the steering wheel hard and screamed at the top of my lungs loud and hard. I took another deep breath and followed up with an even louder yell.
Finally, I screamed into the setting sun, “I AM ALIVE!”
I sat back down and drove on. The cigar made me feel a bit light headed as I drove back but, in the end, I found that life is complicated and sometimes you have to just step outside of yourself for a minute. You can scream into the night and not go gently.
It’s like a beat, life. It is never one thing or the other. It’s this and that. It’s everything and nothing but only when you will it to be so. Stand still and you live but are you alive?
Are you alive?
Yeah, life, plays by the rules you set.
Life; it’s a lot like jazz.
-Chris

Forget Yourself

https://i0.wp.com/ak9.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/2996197/preview/stock-footage-subdued-lighting-and-tight-focus-on-the-hands-of-a-cellist-in-action.jpg

 

 

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