Wednesday, May 30, 2012


You've heard the argument before - hell, we all have. Is being 'more connected' causing us to be 'less connected?'  For the longest time, I would have said yes.  I don't know on how many occasions I'd rather have a text message or three instead of an entire conversation.  Yet, when engaged socially, I certainly don't shy away from a good conversation.  Is this just a matter of reaching my own comfort level with the advancements in technology, or am I finally becoming comfortable with the pacing of the new communicative methods?

Let’s start small.  I grew up on pen-and-paper mail for staying in touch.  I was writing letters before it was given the moniker 'snail-mail.'  That's not an indication that I'm old - I’m not, by any stretch - I began spreading my writing wings at a young age.  I was sending hand-written letters to my grandfather by the time I was six; typed, by eight; and taking writing tips on my short stories by the time I was ten.

I didn't have much to do at that point in my life.  The status of my parents was in the air.  I was acclimating to being a latchkey kid.  I was shifting between three different school districts.  Tight, cramped corners and hidden hallways all looked welcoming and friendly, as if to say, "Come in - we have hot cocoa."

I became attached to our word processor.  It was a beast of a machine - about two feet high, two feet deep, and three across.  The screen was monochromatic, built into the hulking rock, and it was a gigantic eight inches diagonally.  I began writing the first shorts on there.  I drafted the earliest revision of the Manhattan concepts, Miza, and the fallen angels on this amalgamation of silicone and cinder block.  I conceptualized worlds upon worlds, while all being within each other.  I hid my body away, and stretched my mind from here to the galactic center.  On occasion, back again, too.

This disconnect was hard to grasp when I was first brought around to cell phones and gadgetry.  Despite being in middle school for the Clinton era's march of the internet (which, Al Gore did not create, people, and, for fuck's sake, even now there are so many people that say he did), our most accessible outlet was a public library terminal.  My first chat-room experience, eBay, and midget porn were all witnessed at that terminal.

I only regret setting up the eBay account.  Seriously, it was created within weeks of eBay going live, and has cost me so much money from all the awesome things I find on there.  At least the chat room and porn were free.

I was accustomed to not having a huge, virtual world following me everywhere.  I was comfortable being sociable as needs be, introverted otherwise.  This is likely why now, ten years after major internet saturation, my perspective is reaching a hazy grey.
At first, I found the technology novel.  Texting was brand new, and it didn't make sense why people wouldn't just call someone.  Of course, my first cellphone looked like it was from the Matrix movies - not convenient for such things.  Then I bought a Nokia taco-phone (n-Gage).  With that, I could play games, surf the web, and - most importantly - play music.  This was an eye opener for me, as I refused from that point on to be separated from my phone. 

Good lord, I played so much bad music on that thing.  I had the complete Katamari Damacy soundtrack on there.  We lived in Florida, and on the warm afternoons, I’d roll my windows down and crank that like I was the most gansta playa ever.  Same goes for Cowboy Bebop.  I also had Radiohead and Soul Coughing on there, largely to sing along to.  I knew there songs so well I was a virtual Tony Danza, only in a mobile format.

I don't like complete silence.  I had several ear infections that got pretty bad when I was a kid.  While only a partial factor, my ears are constantly ringing with tinnitus.  Sure, you can zone it out, but in a silent room, it's like a child screaming two inches from your ear, while you're hung over, under-caffeinated, hungry, and doing the walk of shame, in yesterday’s underwear. 

Just the thought of that makes me want to punt a child.

Back on point: I found a launching pad and expanded my interest in tech from there.  We all have our basic reasons we like something - color, fashion choices, popularity, function, blah blah blah.  I like to be able to sync up a keyboard and jam the hell out.  That's why I have an 'old' phone (came out March of last year): it lets me do just that.  But, the more I use it, the less it's a 'phone.'

This is an argument I established years ago.  A telephone is simply used to communicate an audible conversation from one point to the next.  These things - these are personal communication devices.  Or, they were.  Nowadays, they're full on micro-PCs.

Yet, they all depend on sociability.  Would you have one of these if you had no one to keep in touch with? - To talk to?  Would you have virtual social circles, short-form interpersonal conversations, or even an email account that you actually used if you didn't have one of these?  The device allows us instant contact with everyone, and, at a pace we can all feel comfortable with.  I've always said, a phone call goes both ways, and the same can be said of all this cyber-centric communication.

An era is always passing.  You always have some doofus walking the streets with a sandwich board proclaiming doom and gloom.  In the case of how we communicate, though, we're all just remembering fondly and moving forward steadfastly.  The era is dying, and there were no heralds to bring in the next.

Well, unless you count falling off a pier while texting a herald.  Me? - I call that fucking hilarious.

In a future that's going to contain face-mounted personal computers, smart glass windows, and flexible circuit boards, there is little now that will be familiar in another decade.  The best trait of mankind is that we constantly adapt.  So why waste the time complaining about the adaptation, and instead, share my stories on your Facebook or Twitter? 

I'd love to meet your friends, without having to meet them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


In 60 days, I had written 65 pieces, and posted 51.  60,000 words typed and edited.  Nothing like discretion - honestly, they were well written.  I just felt like I could do better.

Rather than progressively churning out the daily whim, I pulled the plug for a week - gave myself a few days to just observe, and think.  This was a good chance to just be alone with my thoughts and not have to be accountable for their output. 

Let's start with the most basic observation: I dislike people.  This isn't a typical agoraphobic response, ie: being afraid of all the bodies.  I mean, that factors in, but I just don't like being around stupid people.  Not inferior people, so much as impolite.  I think that's the kicker: show some damn human decency.  For years I've gone on about how much I dislike children, but I think my problem is with their idiot parents.

On Sunday, I spent four hours in IKEA.  First of all, no mortal should ever spend four hours in IKEA.  I couldn't read American road signs properly for half an hour after leaving.  Compound that with the screaming migraine of a 2-to-1 child-to-parent ratio, and it was a nightmare. These kids were running every which way, shrieking their heads off.  At one point, I sat in a chair, just to have some child climb up the arm, over me, and onto the back of the chair.  The mother smiles and declares how cute and curious he is.  Ma'am? - He's nearly ten, and feels like the weight of a Humvee while he uses my groin as a foothold while climbing the Mt. Fucking Everest of chairs.

The only thing curious is the amount of restraint mustered to prevent hurling this child out a thin glass window eight stories up.

This experience reinforced something I'd known for a while.  I'm accustomed to my own happy, silent bubble.  In a way, it has left its mark on me.  Sometimes, I just require isolation and silence.  This is a pretty straightforward point.  I can take in a lot and keep going through the day.  I used to have my solitary commute as decompression time, but so much of that is spent in traffic now that it just adds kindling to the bonfire.

I still feel like I could do better.  That's the one nagging thought that makes me want to keep writing little essays and asides.  Can't say that I've ever met someone who was exceptional at a craft, without exerting their skills within that craft.  Sure, there's some leniency for natural talent, but even that can be honed to a perfection.

With that, I make one more mark in a man, cleaving the ineffectual block in twain, bringing shape to the shapeless.  If, "Only those evil live to see/ their own likeness in stone," then I may as well immortalize myself in paper and ink.  Seems to last longer.

 -Quote from Why?'s song, "By Torpedo or Crohn's."-

Monday, May 21, 2012


You can tell a lot about someone by their reaction to pain.  This is, of course, addressing the wide arrays of pain – emotional, physical, and mental, etc.  Some people can freak out at the lightest prick of a needle; others can withstand the crunch of a sledgehammer.  Then, there’s me and the story I have for you.

I was born a typical wussy towards pain.  The slightest bump and I’d be shouting about it.  In retrospect, I think I was just searching for attention.  Or, for a great chance to do any of Michael Jackson’s dance moves.  Yes, my childhood existed in an era before he was weird.  Alright, it existed in an era predating his child sexual assault issues.

Fine: it existed in the same era that his jerri curl was lit on fire while taping a Pepsi commercial.

My parents favored corporal punishment.  Hell, were I to be a parent, I would favor a corporal punishment, just, maybe, a little more judiciously.  And so, I began to build a resistance to pain.  Over the years, we’d add a crack to the skull, lacerations to my back and legs, a few biking scrapes, and that gets me out of the teenage years.

Did I ever tell you about how half my finger was sliced off in a freak ice skating accident?  Great story, this one.  It was a church function, and maybe my second time on ice skates.  I thought I was so rad as I went around in circles jamming out to Jamiroquai on my Walkman.  The previous summer, I’d met several girls at a Baptist summer camp.  Alright, one I’d met at a music competition that was really into me but I was, like, fourteen and oblivious as I had eyes for a hot blonde.  The other was from the Baptist camp, and apparently, she liked me, too.

Either way, one of them snuck up behind me and jabbed me in the ribs.  It startled me so damn badly I unintentionally pulled a Dick Van Dyke prat fall.  Everybody laughed, and we got back up again.  A few seconds later one of them tried to grab my hand, and started freaking out.  I saw she had blood on her hand, and reached out to see what was wrong, just to see part of my right, ring finger dangling by a bit of sinew. 

I did not feel a thing.  Not even “phantom limb.” Or, “finger.”  Or is it “appendage” in this case?  I was actually quite beside myself for a good ten seconds just in pure amusement.  Then, my mother heard the commotion, physically ran onto the ice, did her nurse thing of chipping up chunks of ice and balling it up in and around my finger and hand, and scooted me out to her van.  As we left, they reversed the flow of skaters on the ice to help break up the blood I had oozed everywhere.  Hilarious and disgusting.  We arrived at good ‘ol Ira Davenport (only as a matter of necessity), where they reattached my finger.  Only, with a slight turn counter-clockwise, but who’s looking?

I’ve had my fill of pain and discomfort.  I’ve held a cane, and had steel supporting my feet.  That created a pain I still have daily.  I don’t medicate it, though.  I’ve been offered a daily prescription, but I just don’t see the point.  Pain is a reminder that everything’s working, so why would I want to prescribe it away?

Now, I’m not talking about prescriptive necessity.  If the Doc wants to give me five days of percocets after having three teeth pulled: let’s do this.  When I had my eyes out last March, they gave me a full ten day run.

Let’s start with the exquisite joy of having the outer epithelial layer of your eyeball melted away.  Then, in the case of my right eye, jockeying out the cornea.  After setting a new one by squeegeeing it into place, running  a few more scans, sculpting it with a laser (yes, you can smell the skin burning), and then setting  a glass lens over it while it heals.  All in all, my eye was propped open for about four minutes, and, while I would never deal with that again, I would absolutely encourage anyone to look into the process.  From what Rae tells me, Lasik is even easier (mine was a PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, with some remodeling on the window treatments).

Of course, I only ended up using the percocet for about three days.  See, while Rae was at work, I would be inverted on the couch watching Netflix.  Oh it was a grand time – I watched all the Care Bear movies, Voltron – even Up.  Several times.  The first time, though, was very early in the day – about 9 or 10:30.  Part way through – while I was on the percocet, mind you – I really wanted a balloon.  So much that I put on my hoodie and shoes, a hat and my safety goggles.  These were a really winning pair of facial accessories, solely intended for purpose over fashion.  They looked like huge swimmer’s goggles, but with a near-black tint.  The idea is to tape them to your face so that you don’t squish your eyeballs while sleeping.

I sleep like a dead salmon, so this is a viable concern.

Anyway, I go thrusting out of the house in my pajama pants and a hoodie, and could swear to this day that I went to CVS for a balloon.  It wasn’t until I was regaled with the full story two weeks ago that I knew better.  I had gone back to our old apartment for one last walk through.  Alright, that’s a lie: I’d gone back to take our toilet paper.  Seriously.  I am not giving my toilet paper to someone who will not enjoy its cottony softness on their bum the way that I can.

I ran into one of the maintenance guys on the way out, and he began going on this grand yarn.  Apparently, that same time I’d gone for balloons, he’d escorted me back to my apartment after I’d gotten into an argument with one of our neighbor’s lawn globes.  They’re about the size of bowling balls and all colors under the sun – know what, let me put it to you this way: I had frequently used her trashy front yard as a landmark for directing people to my house.  I’d apparently had the cognizance to inform him of my medicated condition, but he’s been cracking himself up senseless since then.  I do remember that afternoon, waking up on the couch, and thinking the pills weren’t cutting it.

So, I stopped taking them.  Presumably – to the best of my knowledge – before I did anything stupid.

I don’t allow my life to be held back by pain.  This sensation is a natural reaction to an adverse element.  It’s heralding a new phase in the healing process.  I don’t like running simply because my feet and legs will hurt just as much either way.  I don’t do this to give me some justification for the pain. 

I do this because I can.  Because I can handle the pain.  Because it makes me stronger.  Because, at the end of the day, I define my life – not my pain.

Doing this

i am not doing this for you.

I don't care about wearing steel shanks to make it happen.

I'm not doing this for your gratification at seeing me.

I'm not doing this for something to brag about at the water cooler.

I"m not doing this for your worthless ounce of recognition

Against the pounds of effort, sweat, and pain that I'm pushing myself through.

I'm not doing this for the five minutes we see each other

against the 24 hours a day i'm with myself.

I'm not doing this because twenty nine years of nike commercials have finally scrubbed my brain.

I'm not doing this to make a goddamn point.

I'm not doing this for an excuse

I'm not doing this so you have a reason to second guess my motives.

I'm not doing this for you:

I am doing this for Me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Anyone who's known me for more than a month knows that I dislike wearing socks or shoes.  They’re uncomfortable, restrictive, and I never feel grounded while wearing them.  I feel like Hank Azaria in “The Birdcage”: I put shoes on, I fall down.  Usually, in a hilarious fashion.  I would even venture as far to say that I hate them. 

I dislike bandying about the word “hate” – not because I’m some love-everything, peace-freak-hippie-dick: I’m not.  Too many people describe things they “love” and “hate” as freely as describing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I find it very unbelievable that people can truly love or hate so many things so intensely, that for a person to turn and say they love or hate me – well, it greatly diminishes the effect.

No, my desire is simply liberation.  Shoes are a marketing enigma-turned-phenomenon.  The concept of taking such a simple, utilitarian product and converting into what it is now boggles the mind. 

Let’s start with a basic concept – pants: simple, easily designed, worn by most everyone.  These evolved into jeans.  In time, the yellow stitching was changed to white, and, eventually, back to yellow.  There’ve been brand names labeled on the backside and along the leg.  They’ve been worn, faded, bleached, emblazoned with rhinestones, and even blown out to fit three midgets and a circus inside of each leg.  But, the core concept has remained the same- and at all levels of consumerism, to boot.

Now, there are the odd rarities.  Spanx, or janx, or jerkoffs  - whatever those Mel Brooks looking tights are.  Those are just awful.  Please, people – go back to the rest of your wardrobe and try again.  Know what? – go to your grandparent’s wardrobe: there’s better clothing in there than those awful things.

Shoes have become this high profile concept.  Now, they’ve had the same modification for ride and comfort, but the big kicker for me is in the assumed reputation garnered not by the maker, but by the wearer.  Apparently, some brands make you look cooler.  I have yet to see this actually work, but, from the lines I’ve seen outside of a Foot Locker two hours prior to some new shoe being launched, I’d say there’s some credibility.

See, that’s the kicker – these companies are selling you something.  Problem is, it’s not the shoe.  It’s the image of the shoe; the allure, prowess, and prestige promised to you simply by placing their full-leather upper upon your feet.  If I’m spending $160 per shoe, these things better turn me into Hermes, dammit all.

Not herpes, you jack arse – Hermes.  From Greek mythology - Mercury in Roman.

Where was I? – Oh, right: The people lining up to buy these shoes aren’t there for the comfort, or the fit.  They couldn’t care, really.  They want the glory of wearing those hot kicks around the yard.  Honestly, I feel bad for them, and I feel bad for the yard they’re going to wear them in.

Just last year I bought my first pair of Nike’s.  It was an ordeal.  I wanted good, comfortable shoes for retail work.  After a bit of try-this try-that, I found a nice, squishy pair with good support.  You’d think I was done – No!  Oh, my goodness, no.  See, I didn’t realize there was this entirely separate line of shoe with the same technology built in, and they were so popular.  And they were $225 a pair in my size.

Couple of things: are you people fucking mad?  $225 for sneakers?!  That’s gas for six weeks.  I will chew through those things by the time 42 days have passed.  Also, what technology do you have in your shoe?  The club-foot uglification tech that Skechers toning shoes use?  Do these have Transformer mini-bots in the heels? I’m holding a pair of shoes already overpriced at eighty dollars – what reality do you live in where it is perfectly practical to sink nearly four times that into footwear?

Simply put, the shoe manufacturers just have phenomenal marketing.  They have so thoroughly convinced the consumers that the brand is what you really want – not the shoes – which even their sales staff has bought in on that. 

While working with my last employer, they frequently used a rather horrific mantra: Drink the Kool-aid.  The context would be something like, “We all support the company, and believe in their mission.  We all drink the Kool-aid, man!”

For those who don’t know, this is actually a Jonestown reference.  If you don’t know what Jonestown is, you were probably born in the last twenty years.  Let me just quote the always credible (sarcasm) Wikipedia, as they sum up my entire problem with anything referencing Jonestown:

“To the extent the actions in Jonestown were viewed as a mass murder, it was the largest such event in modern history and resulted in the largest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001.”

That loss of life included over 200 children, force-fed the same cyanide-laced Kool-Aid their parents were drinking as a form of “revolutionary suicide.”  Revolutionary concept – killing the next generation with the same poison you’re drinking for your own beliefs.

This is something done generation after generation – forcing our beliefs onto our children, expecting these children to be a perfect, carbon copy of ourselves.  In the case of Jonestown, that narcissism was going to be broken, so, the children were spared ever being an individual. 

You have to ask yourself what kind of poison you are passing around for others.  Not just literal ones.  I mean, I try to include small doses of arsenic in all the cookies I bring to social functions (good news, guys from the last job: If you’re still alive, you have one hell of a tolerance level).  No, on a broader spectrum our entire worldview can permeate toxins into everyone around us.  Small social interactions like blessing a sneeze or greeting a friend, all the way over to interacting with retail employees that you’ll likely never see again, and back to emotional output you leverage around household pets.  These are all environmental factors that are within your control, and far too frequently, people force their Kool-Aid down the throats of any physical body they can sink their fingers into for five seconds.

I say, be done with it.  Take a minute to see you being a dick, breathe deeply, and move on.  I can’t stop someone from trying to push the poison in my face, but I can take it upon myself to stop it at me.  I can strap on my shoes, and simply dance to my own beat, bringing the entire world a better rhythm.

Or, you can use them to kick in the skulls of all the people who irritate you in a day.  But, how does that make you better than the people trying to crush yours with the heel of their boot?

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I’m not one to believe too much in the Darwinist iteration of evolution.  I mean, why do monkeys still exist if we’re evolved from monkeys?  I mean, they’re just as stupid as most humans, so I can see that bridge.  For the larger part, it seems that evolutionary theory is just that – a theory, and, it just seems nice on paper.

How does that explain more modern “evolutions?” Of recent note, micro-organisms that rapidly populate from the ocean to consume massive oil spills.  Or fungi that can devour petrochemical plastics without the need for oxygen, making them perfect for plastics in landfills.  I don’t think these are evolutions any more than the fire evolved into a toaster oven.

Mother Nature, Gaia, earth, life – whatever you want to call it – is pissed, and is simply learning to fight on the same level as its enemies.  It is not evolving: it is adapting.

Viruses – such as smallpox – have acted as an adaptation to booming populations.  Bubonic plague then popped up a few centuries later.  Rampant AIDS epidemics in central Africa.  The planet has reached its tolerable limits, and is devising new microorganisms on a daily basis to level the playing field.

There are means by which humans have helped the process.  Take tools and gunpowder as an adaptation.  Both useful in carving our own homes into the Earth, as well as burying fellow sapiens inside it.  We adapt to destroy our enemies just as efficiently - why should we be surprised that nature is doing the same?

Guerilla tactics were an adaptation to a battling in a foreign land.  The approach was modified to allow our soldiers to fight a campaign on foreign soil optimally, with weaponry we were already comfortable using.  While in the forests of a brave new world, we used guns; nature is using the same simple-celled microorganisms that have been at its disposal since day one.

I think adaptability is a better wording for the way people change over time.  We are hardy folks, having a build that hasn't evolved as much as adapted to the lifestyles we put our bones through.  We have not evolved with the technology.  Hell, I think people may be devolving judging by the fact we need legislation to prevent people from texting on their cellphones while driving – and they still do it. 

No, we have adapted to all the quirks and changes in day-to-day life.  My grandparents – parents of proud baby-boomers, and much like most of your eldest family members – were the last of an era that did not have to adapt so quickly.  They did not have new computers coming out every six months (let alone the internet), 75-mile-per-hour cars, infra-red cookers, or a pill for every mood of the week.  This was a joking stab at the future when they were just kids, and now we’ve adapted ourselves to it. 

If you think you’re done adapting, too, you’re just lying to yourself.  True, the baby-boomers are the grandparents now, and they love the tech and the toys as much as the kids.  I don’t mean that way, though - this all affects our personal growth.  Something – until I lost my last employment – I realized I was quite content forgoing.  See, I develop emotionally at an equal pacing, from day to day.  If I am pricked with a pin one day, I have already begun healing the next.  I'm even a little more resilient to the pain.

This, when you think about it, makes sense of why nature is constantly throwing more things at us, forcing us to adapt.  We become better suited to live in its world, and it helps weed out those that don’t want to grow with it.  If that’s just the natural order, it would be a great disservice to being alive if I was exactly the same person that I was a decade ago.