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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Among Beasts

Artist: Benjamin Thompson
Artist: Benjamin Thompson

Hey Gang!

If I have trouble finding my way to this computer to type out a story, it is usually not from writer’s block. No, rarely is that the case. Offline I probably say too much and I try not to bore you with so many of those terrible details. I also try to stay away from topics that are taboo to speak of. Those things that make us grip our knees a bit harder when someone brings the topic up. I must ask you to please begin gripping at this time.

I was walking around a store back home a few weeks ago and I remember I was just meandering through each aisle. Never really checking on anything; just observing. I truly enjoy those minutes where you are almost oblivious to your surroundings. You are just present. Well, I remember walking down the aisle and something happened that hasn’t happened to me in a long time. I saw the woman in front of me take her bag and shift it from the side of her where the bag was facing me and then to the other side of her. I saw her knuckles create a death grip around the strap as she walked sure-footedly past me at a brisk pace.

She saw me and thought, “There is a guy that is going to rip my purse from my shoulder and run through this large department store with it, making a quick getaway.”

Her irrationality was insulting. I wasn’t dressed in a manner befitting whatever stereotype she probably held. I had nothing on my head but glasses. Yet, to her, I looked as if I were going to snatch her purse.

I would like to say this hasn’t happened before but it has. The cause or why they believe that this would happen is not the issue for me. The issue is what that means to me, to us, people who have had this problem. Don’t mistake this as a simple race thing. Ask the Indian person who finds hate for being mistaken for a “terrorist”. Ask a person of middle eastern descent what they have experienced. Keep going with these. Keep asking the same questions. Then ask, “How does it feel?”

I remember when it first happened. I was 11 and at a store with my mother. A woman walked past us and gripped her purse tightly as she walked by while giving me a dirty look. I asked my mother why she did that and my mother said, ” Don’t worry. That’s her problem. Don’t make it yours.”

I suppose she was right. It happened later as well. A few friends and I would walk around a store and the LP people would follow us. Some might say I am mistaken and I will say that I can’t blame them for believing that. It makes me angry that I work so hard to be an individual and it is all for not.

Color me grey.

I want no color or identifier. If this is what comes with it; let me be grey. I think of myself as a proud person. I don’t celebrate any side of my heritage. Black, White, Shoshone; they are of little relevance to me. They are like having green eyes or blonde hair. It is a trait, not who I am. I live this way and I treat others this way. We operate on the maxim of how we wish to be treated.

In my ignorant bliss that is devoid of color, I am drawn out when things like that happen. It brings you back out of that cloud you are in. It sends this cold feeling down your spine and your cheeks turn warm. You feel disbelief. You wonder what you did that caused it to happen. You. You. You.

It seeps into you. It reminds you that no matter how hard you try, you will always be thrown into reality, or at least our culture’s reality of what you are. I can get degrees all day long but I still know what it feels like when people look at you with resentment. Not of stature but of what you represent. I am sure you may have different views and I would love to hear them but I have to say mine. I know this has happened to many people but why don’t we talk about it?

A little more than 100 years ago, my hometown had one of the largest race riots in the country. This is not a southern town, by any means. This is the capitol to one of the bigger states that were part of the union. 100 years is not a long time.

I look in the mirror and I see a semi-handsome, devastatingly charming, and funny young man (hey, my self-esteem isn’t too bad, right?). That is who is in my mirror. To the world, I am many things. I am a statistic. I am a thought that someone has conceived from watching too much Law and Order: SVU.

This problem comes from both sides. I may seem like a criminal to some but to others I am not part of that group because I don’t speak colloquially.

I let this bother me a few weeks ago and it hurt. I thought of what people did for women’s rights in the early 20th century and for civil rights in the 40s 50s and 60s. The dreams of those people . I wonder if they are embodied today?

I remember this old philosophical saying that played in my head while my hurt writhed and turned in on itself until it was anger. “He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”

Isn’t that easier? To be that beast. Be the entity that is no longer at the mercy of social niceties and norms. Not sociopathy but something close. I thought that after all these years of speaking in a vernacular that showed nothing of regional dialect and of reasonable poise, years of gaining knowledge of myself and the world around me; I thought that it wouldn’t hurt as bad as when I was 11 but I was wrong. It cuts a bit deeper.

Beasts. I have met a few. They are frightening individuals but only because they enjoy being a beast. I won’t do that.

I love meeting new people and enjoying new cultures. When someone says the “n” word or speaks poorly of white people, they both cut deep. I am every bit as much white as I am black as I am Shoshone. Why is it that those traits have created a barrier of hate between me and getting to know a culture or a person?

Ambassadors. More than 40 years later and every person of color has to be an ambassador to their race. For multiracial individuals, you have to be able to represent more than that. You have to blend into the palate.

I am tired of being an ambassador or a surprise when it comes to education and the like. I love my caramel skin but to me it is a symbol more than anything.

I wish I could sit here and be more uplifting about this. I wish I could say, “but on a happy note!” There is a blurring line but it isn’t prominent. I sit here typing to you and all I think about is how much work I have done to be an individual and something as simple as a word that is said, not even about me or to me, can bring me down to a base level. It doesn’t matter who says it or what race they are. The word has meaning.

Words are powerful. Words are dangerous.

I will always strive to be the individual I want to be. I don’t want to break stereotypes because that means I was in one. I want to be outside of a stereotype. I want to keep my skin tone but cover it in grey. I want all of these things for me and for others because it is dangerous to be among beasts.

-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

 

What Are You?

Hey Gang!

 

I keep wondering how to begin this. I thought about having some sort of diatribe about when I was young or something along those lines but i think it should start with what has prompted this post, usurping one that shall be written soon. This inciting incident occurred a few weeks ago.

I was out with some friends at our local watering hole. I must admit, it was somewhat uncomfortable. I am used to being up and around. People being as loud and funny as I am. I will say I am a rather boisterous fellow. I remember a while back I was telling a story about how I shouted and a girl turns to me an says, “Wow, it must have been loud because you already speak so loud.” My first thought was something like , “Da Fuq?!” but then I realized she was just stating her opinion and there was no malice there. But that’s just me. So, I surround people as loud as me and who are as care free as I try to be. Those who love to dance to know music and freestyle rap about cleaning the house. We sometimes just yell for no reason incoherently. Would you be my neighbor? (kudos if you get the slight reference)

 

So, I am sitting in this dimly lit bar with wooden walls and wooden boards that creaked from aged use. A deer head hangs just above the big screen that plays my college’s baseball team, losing by the way. I had gone out with my friend Nic and she was meeting with some of her friends. So, there I was amongst a few people whom I didn’t know in this bar that looked like there may be a speak easy in the next room but upon my snooping I found that it only held an old jukebox. These people were very quiet, almost eerily quiet. I love awkward, revel in it. I think it is one of the funnier things that can happen in interpersonal communication but this was more of that silence and awkward conversation where everyone just wants to pretend they got a call and run away.

I tried to make idle conversation but it was just a sea of light laughs and bobbing heads. Then, a man in a leather vest came in and sat down next to me. I enjoy everyone and I will always be nice to individuals…well almost always. So, he sits down and begins talking about extremely conservative views. Gun Control, Homosexual Marriage and he spoke extensively of the ineptitude of “Jews and Orientals”. I don’t think I have ever been offended by someone that much in one sitting. Clenched jaw and bitten tongue.

So, I am talking to a young man who went to the same school as I did and I was telling him my epic “Interstate” story.

“Hold on, man, I don’t mean to interrupt,” the leather clad opinionated man interjected. In my head I thought, ‘yeah you did but go on.’

“I just can’t wait to hear you impression of Bryant Gumble,” He slaps me on my shoulder and begins laughing.

“I’m sorry man I had to,” he continues.

“Nice,” I say. Nice. I said nice in replace of the terrible things I wanted to say to him and ignored him for the rest of the night. He could tell I was upset because I never acknowledged him and he would tell a racist joke that just wasn’t funny and I wouldn’t laugh. Everyone else would because it was extremely uncomfortable and awkward when he said it but I was just fine being passive.

His comment was in regards to my voice not fitting in to his stereotypical colloquialisms that come along with his views. I guess everyone has their opinions but I have dealt with this before. Not this blatant, more subtle of course, but I have dealt with it my whole life.

As most of you know I am multi-racial, never say mixed; dogs are mixed. This aspect has always made me the odd man out. I always say that growing up, I was “almost black to white individuals and almost white to black individuals”. I always fit in the grey area. White individuals always accepted me but I was always that multi-racial friend. Black individuals felt that I wasn’t relateable.

Everywhere I would go, I was asked the same question: What Are You? It was offensive to me. These individuals couldn’t place me. They couldn’t use snap judgment on me in the way they were used to and it caused some sort of dissonance. I have always been a kind person, especially on that question, and so I answered them. Most of the time they would say, “You look Hawaiian or something”. I went to Hawaii and they said I looked Hawaiian. I am not Hawaiian. It would be great to have Polynesian slash Samoan roots but I don’t have them.

What Are You?

Now that I am older, I answer them honestly. All the races I am. I answer it but in my head I think, “this means nothing.” Race, the way they look at it, is categorical but to me it is a trait. I am right handed, multi-racial, and it takes me forever to grow facial hair. It follows in that line. I can’t tell you how many times I wish someone would ask more. Know me. No more ‘what are you’ but ‘who are you’.

I am pretty much a giant. 3 feet from shoulder to shoulder and 6’6″ and some change. So, I have never been shy about anything when it comes to a ‘what are you’ question but still, something just doesn’t sit well with me. Because of all of these things, I no longer care about what is on the person’s outside. I ask about the deeper questions and you would be surprised how open people are when you get real with them. When you ask them their honest thoughts and feelings you can connect on a level that is unbeatable. I do this with strangers because it is a chance to hear a new story. People are books; if you just read the title, you miss out on the chapters that lay within.

What Am I?

I am the fifth generation that came from a slave, to which we have copies of the sale papers when she was bought.

I am an older brother.

I am a journalist.

I am a lover of life.

I am a man with the blood of generations of laborers and farmers running through his veins.

I am more than my body can hold.

When I go back and think about all of the things that people have asked of me that were superficial, ie how tall am I, what race am I, how big of shoes I wear etc, I feel more and more distant from them. I get that I am not exactly the person who blends in but I guess the outside matches the inside. I have never been the type of person to sit by and let life go by. I want to embody life. My body may be big but my personality is bigger and I wouldn’t have it, or the friends whose claims are the same, any other way.

-Chris

 

 

A Brief Thanks!

I just wanted to express my gratitude to all of you who have commented and liked my previous post. It was funny, I usually blog twice a week and yesterday was “blog day”, which just so happened to be the worst day since my “college woes” incident. It was a dominoes effect of bad. You know those days where a whole bunch of little things build up to be one big, bad thing? Yeah it was like that. Then, i sit down and check my email and it had over two hundred emails, almost all from wordpress. I was like, “am I in trouble?” Then I checked it and saw that I had been FP’d.

Okay, so I was ignorant to this slang of FP’d meaning freshly pressed and I was thinking “is this a derogatory slang?” I had to look it up and actually find out what it meant haha. Did I really just admit that?

Anyway, I said brief, right?

My point is that I was having a bad day and I went through all of those comment of individuals that shared their little wins and stories and some that even said it turned their day around reading it. Little did they know that I was having a bad day and reading all of the extremely nice things everyone said and all of the stories and wins really turned my day around. It was the most paramount moment since I started writing a few years ago.

You guys have no idea how thankful I am for your kind words and amazing stories. I sincerely appreciate it from the bottom of my awkward heart!

 

-Chris