April 25, 2013

The Lost Art of Writing Letters

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here, but novels pull people away from writing other things. Tonight is an exception though.

My heart is heavy this evening.

 If you had told me 6 years ago that I’d be sitting here tonight with tears in my eyes over news of an execution in Texas tonight, I probably would have gone into a fairly long one-sided debate about the need for capital punishment. See, on May 2, 2002, someone I had been close to since 8th grade was murdered. It wasn’t a crime of passion or a cold, calculated assassination. He simply went home at the wrong time startling the man in his apartment in the midst of a burglary. This man shot him twice in the chest and left him crumpled in his doorway to die before making his way to the car where a second man, the driver, was waiting.

 It didn’t take long for the two of them to be caught. One testified against the other, of course, and both were sentenced to prison time. But, truthfully, both received more time for the drugs and weapons offenses that initially led to their arrest than for the death of my friend—a not-yet-20-year-old who had yet to walk in a bar and buy a drink, get married, have children, or graduate college. I was angry. Rightfully so. But, that’s not my point. At that time, I became very pro-capital punishment. I wanted harsher sentences for everyone, and I definitely felt my friend’s murderers should be sitting on death row.

In the meantime, I went back to school to finish my criminal justice degree. In several classes, the death penalty was a topic I chose to research. Time and time again, though, the research I conducted showed how at odds my opinion was with the statistics. I experienced an increasing amount of cognitive dissonance when I would come across extensively researched articles proving that the death penalty did not lead to a decrease in the murder rate for the states that utilized it most. It was difficult for me to read the numbers of the exonerations. And the cost of the death penalty alone was enough to leave me with resounding questions about its usefulness in this country at all. But, I could not simply let go of the emotions, the anger and frustration and hurt, I felt at the thought of someone I had loved in life and still loved in death having been murdered was too much to just let go because of research. To do so would have felt like a betrayal, I guess.

I was so deeply torn and couldn’t figure out a way to reconcile my emotions with the facts. It was this deep internal rift that eventually led me to write an inmate on death row.

 Looking back on it now, I realize that I was hoping I would get a return letter from a monster. That somehow, in writing this person, I would be absolved of my mental anguish and find an easy answer to the debate taking place inside my head. In essence, the person would be such a horror that my problem would be resolved for me with very little effort and work on my part.

 But, that didn’t happen.

 In the least.

 In truth, I met my closest confidant to date. In one of his early responses, and possibly to impress just a bit with his wide range of knowledge, he touched on the topic of quantum physics and the collapse of the wave function as if this was casual conversation for him. In the 5 years we have written one another, I have learned more than dreamed possible when I first put pen to paper, stamp to envelope. I learned about myself—to accept myself the way I am. I learned that flaws are fine to have as long as I always try to learn and try to be better. I will always be a work in progress. If not, then what’s the point of living? I learned about me…who I am, who I want to be, and who I will never be again. I learned about him and his own life, his experiences, prison subculture. We helped each other past mental roadblocks. It became a true friendship with the give and take we experienced.

 I learned to accept death—his, my own, my loved ones’. Death is a part of life. It’s unavoidable and beautiful in its own way. And, it’s nothing to fear. I have also, and possibly most importantly, learned that love can begin in the oddest of circumstances when preconceived notions are thrown away.

 By writing someone who was supposed to be the scourge of the Earth, I renewed my faith in humanity. 

Next month, he is scheduled to be executed for a crime I don’t believe he committed. The Innocence Project of Texas is involved, and we have high hopes, but there are never guarantees in these matters. I know this because I have been through half a dozen executions of his closest friends. Some of them I have written and visited myself. Some were admittedly guilty of the crimes they were charged with…But, none of them deserved to die.Tonight, the last of those friends is gone. Robert is the only one left. And, in a month, I may lose the person who knows me better than anyone else in the world. I am hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.

At the end of it all, though, if Robert is executed, the state of Texas can never take away the memories and love he has given me nor will his death reverse the changes that have taken place. Writing that first letter set me on a course to be a better human being. I am forever changed because I learned that I was wrong.

 I could spend the time arguing against the death penalty, but I encourage you to look it up for yourself. Experience your own cognitive dissonance. It may lead you to the very thing you needed in your life all along.

October 6, 2011

Chip Off The Old Rocker (repost)

My birthday was a few weeks ago. My dad died around that time in 2006, and in fact, his funeral was on my birthday that year. So, of course, he's been on my mind some. A friend of mine recently lost their father as well, so I decided to share this once again.

When I'm getting to know someone, one of the first questions I ask or perhaps one of the first things I check out on an internet profile concerns music. Quickest way to turn me off? Tell me, "oh, I listen to everything." Really? Do you? You listen to gospel, classical, New Wave, grindcore and country and hip hop and sludge metal? The confused look on the person’s face tells me that individual has no idea what I'm talking about. I usually attempt to ask if he or she has any favorites...favorite band or singer or song or album or anything. The response isn't usually too encouraging and typically involves a statement about how tough it is to make such a choice. To me, all that means the person probably haven't vested that much interest in music and might as well be dead.

Music is life.

I learned that whole deal at an early age thanks to my dad. He wasn't the easiest person to live with...certainly to be raised by. He was a mean drunk who couldn’t go a day without drinking, and he had quite a drug habit. All in all, his temper was wickedly short to put it mildly. I don't think he was really cut out for fatherhood.

He died several years ago. Cancer. We weren't close, but it was still a big loss. It’s always tough to watch someone you love suffer as much as he did in the last few months of his life, but I think it was even harder for me because I held a lot of resentment towards him for me not really having a childhood. I mean, going to court at 3 because your daddy was arrested for distribution of cocaine isn't exactly keeping up a stable environment conducive to child raising. And, the violence he was often prone to didn’t make things any better. After I found out he was sick and even more after he died, I had the desire to let all that go. Why hold on to it? It certainly wasn't doing me any good.

I just really had no idea how the fuck I was going to do that.

Gradually, it happened on its own without any effort from me. I think the harder I tried at it, the more I failed. So, I let go. I had other aspects of my self-exploration to deal with. I've changed a good bit in the last 5 years or so since my dad died... a lot had to do with a musical evolution that started with a suggestion to listen to Baroness. Music—music I like anyway--is my Xanax, Prosac, Zoloft. It elevates my moods. Harmonizes my emotions. Frees my spirit. It makes me more social, gives me goosebumps, and  clears my mind of all the clutter of the day. Somewhere along my evolutionary road, I began to realize that Dad taught me all that. I can picture him clearly singing along to Don Henley's (from The Eagles) The Heart of the Matter. "I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter. But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter. But I think it's about forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if you don't love me anymore." He'd turn it up on that part when he'd have company over and tell them to listen to that shit closely. It's a decent sad-old-bastard song. I can still sing along to most of it even now. And of course, Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" could get him laughing and fist pumping like a champ...crazy old fuck.

He introduced me to some greats. Janis, Jimi, the Allman Brothers, the Stones, Zeppelin, Cream, Bread, Foghat, the Eagles--Hotel California still gets my hips moving, like it or not. The Doobie Brothers, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and more, more, more. Dad knew his shit, and it makes me smile to think back to him laughing, smiling, even tearing up over songs. I got my love of sharing music from him, too. I don't remember much about growing up....side effect of a fucked up childhood...but I do remember him making people listen to the different songs he loved and keying them in on the best parts while they had their drinks and whatever else may have been on the menu that day. 

The realization that Dad taught me how to love music and really open myself up to it led me further. I got a lot from the old man; I’d just never been able to see it before. He gave me my openness, quick intelligence (he was a human calculator, no lie), my ability to speak my mind without fear, and my rebellious, non-conformist attitude—you should see pics of him in the 70s. All in all, so much of what I love about myself came from the person who also put me through hell growing up. Eventually, I just saw the balance in things. He wouldn’t win a Father of the Year award, but he helped shaped me into the person I am today.


I would be much less of a woman if it weren't for you teaching me how much music could mean...how much it could move you and connect you to others. Thank you. It is about forgiveness, isn't it? I love you, you crazy sonofabitch.



October 2, 2011

Why You Can't Give Up On Love

No woman will ever satisfy me. I know that now, and I would never try to deny it. But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a woman, either.

This line is from an essay in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. It’s something people almost instantaneously disagree with whenever I bring it up in conversation, but it’s also something so inherently true that it reverberates in my mind each and every time I attempt to dwell on the ideas of love and relationships. Invariably, talking about love leads to talking about marriage and the belief in finding that one person out there for you—you’re other half, soul mate, the yin to your yang.

I can’t help noticing the absurdity of this.

With life-long, monogamous relationships, people believe there is one person in the world who satisfies all their needs, that no one else will ever do, and that in turn, they will satisfy all their partner’s needs. Despite the fact that people grow and change, people believe they will grow and change in complimentary ways which never puts their union at odds. You will continually support each other’s endeavors even when you’re not in agreement with those endeavors. You will be an anchor for your partner even when that partner is being a selfish baby and even when they are too busy to be there for you. There’s no marriage clause about picking up your dirty underwear, not picking your nose in the sanctity of your bed, brushing your teeth EVERY single day at the very least, or blowing loads of cash on useless toys. And, even if there were, people would violate them left and right because marriage is wholly unreasonable. That’s why adultery is so commonplace. Vows mean nothing in the long run.

I know a lot of people are ready to argue with me here; it wouldn’t be the first time. I have friends who do it all the time. So, to back up my argument, I decided to conduct a little social experiment. I opened profiles on 2 dating sites just to see how many married men would contact me in a month’s time. What I hoped to show was just how callously people treated their vows even if they truly love their spouses. It seems to be a fairly common occurrence, and people tend to argue that it only happens with weaker minded individuals. I think it’s the impossible task of finding every ounce of satisfaction through just one person that eventually crumbles a person’s resolve, but maybe that’s just me.

Or not.

In just 1 month, I was contacted by 15 admittedly married men. That’s nearly 4 adulterers actively seeking an affair per week. And these were regular dating sites not the kind which caters strictly to affairs like Ashley Madison. On these sites, I filled out my profiles completely, and the messages poured in on their own. I never looked for anyone to contact myself. I never sent the initial message—never reached out to anyone. Obviously, I didn’t have to…those men were ready, willing, and able to find someone.

Even more telling, though, were the men who weren’t married but were absolutely unconcerned about what I want. I state numerous times in my profiles that I am not looking for any type of relationship and that I don’t believe the commitments, boundaries, and expectations that go along with relationships actually work to make and keep people content. Still, I received messages in droves from men who stated they were clearly looking for long-term relationships. Even when I pointed out the discrepancies to these would-be-suitors, I was told it didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter? What I think and want is so vastly different from what you want, but that doesn’t matter….

I think I’ve found a big part of the problem without intending it.

People (generally speaking of course) are very much self-absorbed. That’s the whole idea behind capitalism and the very principle this country demands. Each person worries about his or her self and when it comes to other, the attitude remands to “survival of the fittest.” In essence, what another person needs or wants is of no concern when it comes to your own happiness. We let others suffer so we can succeed. It’s the American way. Relationships haven’t seemed to escape that selfishness even though the idea is to form a union with your other half. The actions of partners are completely contradictory to the very fundamentals of the union they so readily joined. This self-absorption leads to fighting. Fighting leads to unhappiness. Communication breaks down. Boredom sets in, and then you find yourself surfing Plenty of Fish for the next available easy lay who won’t (maybe) get you in trouble with your spouse if you manage to sneak away long enough to get in a good screw.

Either that or you screw your spouse’s good friend.

I used to think those kinds of things only happened on soap operas, but my own friends have proven me wrong. If there’s less than 50,000 people in a tri-county area where I live, and I can count several instances of observing this occurrence within this area, then it must be a fairly common occurrence overall.

So, did we learn about love and the drama it entails from films and t.v. or did the film and t.v. pick up on common themes based on realistic events?

Tricky question, no?

Let’s look at some of my favorites. First, High Fidelity. Guy falls for girl. Guy and girl fight and grow bored. Guy cheats on girl while girl is pregnant. Girl ultimately leaves guy moves in with a pony-tailed, patchouli-scented asshole. Girl and guy reunite because they have nothing better to do.

Weird Science. Guys make woman in a garage like 2 little perverted Mary Shelley characters. Guys then ignore woman in favor of 2 bitchy girls from their school.

Almost Famous. Married guy in semi-famous band sleeps with underage girl. Girl falls in love. Guy ignores girl around his wife. Girl attempts suicide. Guy finds out wife is sleeping with his bandmate/friend. Guy attempts to make up with underage, suicidal girl.

Tommy: The Pinball Wizard. Man goes to war and is taken prisoner. Woman believes man is dead; remarries. Man returns home. Woman and new husband kill man. Witnessing child becomes deaf, blind, and dumb and is transformed into a pinball god. (They must have been seriously stoned).

That 70s show. Bossy, chatty girl dates moron. Moron cheats on her all the time. Bossy girl then dates scientologist, moron’s friend. Scientologist cheats but chatty girl takes him back then later cheats on him with moron. Chatty girl eventually dates creepy foreign kid who is also friends with moron and scientologist.

Music isn’t even safe from this theme. Take the lyrics to Old Man Markley’s song Do You Like You Do—a song featuring male and female vocals. She asks why he treats her like he does. He asks why she loves him like she does then explains, “I stay out all night ‘cause I know I can. Believe me when I say I’m not that loving kind of man.” Her reply? “Oh baby, I just can’t stay true. I got another boyfriend, too.” Now, I fully love this song, but the message is pretty clear just as it is with movies and television shows alike (and we didn’t even delve into the black pits of daytime soaps, reality television, and Beverly Hills, 90210).

In the end, I think it’s a little of both. I think media played on and intensified dramatic life events. People go from enemies to lovers before 2 hours have passed. People in the strangest circumstances fall in love and live happily ever after until one of them becomes sick with cancer and dies. But at some point, people love intensely and set our expectations for what love could (should) be at a high level. Real life can never compete. With capitalist ideals, we feel we each have an opportunity to be successful. We’ve grown to desire our lives to be meaningful; we feel life has no purpose unless it’s spontaneous, dramatic, and meaningful. Yet, most people fall into daily routines and ruts which vastly contrasts the type of life they crave. Media feeds into that. We want the kind of life we see play out before us on screen, and that is why monogamy and marriage fail more often than not. One or both of them will realize they’ve been living on auto-pilot with no concern for finding meaning or purpose other than being married and raising children (which can still be rewarding, but in this case, meaning delves deeper. The picture is larger). For those that actually don’t end in divorce, I think those people must give up on the big picture.

We’ve killed what love can be by putting boundaries and expectations on it. The media constantly reminds us of the love we’ll never really have, and every failed marriage just strengthens our resolve to find it. That’s why no one I know can sit down in a conversation and agree with the points I’ve made. Their eyes often betray the truth, but to admit it out loud would mean the end of their search for the one thing which can make them whole and finally bring them true happiness. And, it’s so much easier to find that happiness in someone else than to do some self-exploration and find it within themselves.
September 24, 2011

This Is My Generation, Baby

Entering the last days of my 20s has caused a bit of reflection on my part over life up to this point. I’ve become nostalgic for the days of my youth and filled my DVD library with cartoons from the 80s and 90s. Nostalgia led to reflection about my peers, and ultimately,  I’ve become increasingly interested in the behaviors of these peers and in American culture in general—the drives and motivations of my generation. Unfortunately, what I’ve found is a pervasive lack of humility, almost total self-absorption, a detachment from learning and knowledge, and rampant apathy. It’s not everyone, but it certainly seems to be a common, embarrassing trend. And, I’ve come to blame, at least in part, the primetime drama Beverly Hills 90210.

If you’re like me, you can open up your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or whatever your social networking poison may be and find incredible amounts of bullshit. There’s constant complaints about every little change these sites make, for one thing. This basically amounts to griping about a free lunch which we all should know is a little absurd. In your feed, you’ll find relationship drama and hidden messages in status updates directed towards someone that the poster doesn’t have the guts or maturity to confront face to face. You’ll find people who make fake profiles to be able to escape unhappy relationships for awhile. Bragging about material possessions is as commonplace as gripes about not having enough material possessions. Of course, there’s also a lot of repost-copy-and-paste statuses concerning any variety of social issues and causes, but where’s the activism in pressing 2 keys? Posting your shoe size in your status isn’t the same as actually taking the time to advertise a link to a breast cancer research organization which depends on donations and grants. But, you sure can find advertisements for music videos. Look, Lady Gaga made over $60 million last year; she doesn’t need the advertising, but for HappyBlankies, a company that donates blankets to orphanages and hospitals for every purchase you make, posting a link and giving this free advertising can only help spread the love to children who really need it. Music videos are easier and fun, though, so that’s what you find covering your social feeds. Seeing any kind of altruistic post, however, is fairly rare. And, at least in my experience, someone with goals who is motivated to have a successful career, has a desire to learn, or and has productive, enriching hobbies is very scarce.

I’ve also found that people my age, give or take a few years, seem to have very little success in relationships. I might know one couple who has been together more than a few years and is still happy, but more times than not people would rather be miserable with someone than learn to be content with themselves. Most people I know including myself are divorced, and the others fight constantly, do the breakup-makeup routine, or need antidepressants and/or drugs to achieve any sort of stability.

Here’s where the blaming begins.

Beverly Hills 90210 originally aired in 1990. I was born in ’81, so that puts me as a preteen/teen when the show hit its peak. The same is true for people near my age--20-somethings and 30-somethings alike. The show was marketed as  a primetime teen drama, the first of its kind. It’s since revolutionized television making these sorts of shows an entertainment staple for the last few decades.

The plot of the show focuses on a group of teens in “dramatic” situations set in posh Beverly Hills, California (as the name so creatively suggests). These kids are all attractive and live in upper middle class neighborhoods. These kids and their families have absolutely nothing in common with mainstream America. They do, however, represent an ideal which only succeeds in strengthening their appeal. The point, seemingly, was to have individuals who the common folk could look up to face a number of social issues such as unplanned pregnancy, AIDS, drug use, etc in an effort to help the viewing public cope with these problems more constructively in their own lives while simultaneously providing exemplary entertainment. The creators of the show really got this whole idea very wrong.

The characters of 90210 were supposed to be a very close-knit group of friends who all attended high school together. Apparently, said creators’ idea of close-knit friendship is vastly different from mine. I consider friends to be people who care for one another, strive to help each other, and who find enjoyment in each others’ company. To be considered “close-knit,” I’d say these friends would be as close or closer than family. On the show, these characters were constantly in turmoil with themselves. Friends become enemies and vice versa in an hour timeslot. Relationships begin, end, and become rattled with infidelity. Gossip is rampant, and the kids’ prove themselves to be spoiled brats. Not one of the characters that come and go over the years is someone a parent would want their child to idolize—something that was inescapable considering these are television characters who are beautiful, wealthy, and desired. In the season’s pilot, Brenda, the character played by Shannon Doherty, lies about her age to seduce a guy well into his 20s while she is just 16. The next episode shows the group to be extremely shallow and materialistic with Brenda in the lead. And the rest of the season involves characters who are liars, law breakers, and backstabbers. Then when the show actually tackles a social issue like AIDS, the discussion of safe sex only hints towards the entire group being sexually active, and by the end of the show, Brenda does sleep with Dylan (played by Luke Perry). In the very first season, girls were shown how to be vapid, manipulative sluts.

The rest of the show wasn’t any better for sure. Brenda has a pregnancy scare right at the beginning of the second season. She then attempts to hide a trip with Dylan to Mexico that her parents forbid her to go on but eventually gets caught. She is grounded but sneaks out to see Dylan anyway. After her parents tell her she can’t see Dylan anymore, she decides to move in with him. She ends up going to France for a few months and cheats on Dylan while he cheats on her with Kelly, another member of the group, in Beverly Hills. This ultimately leads to their breakup by the end of Season 3. This is just one character’s main storyline over 3 seasons span. That’s not to mention the crimes, sex, scandals, emphasis on material wealth, lies, addictions, and more involving the other characters over the years. Nothing is taboo with this group from sleeping with your best friend’s boyfriend, to screwing your teacher, to breaking into a school to change grades.

Is this really any different from daytime soap operas? No and yes.

Daytime soap operas have always been ripe with extramarital affairs, fights, backstabbing, manipulation, and overly dramatic bullshit. Everyone in the rather small casts would ultimately end up screwing everyone else unless the person was a known blood relative with no regard for anyone else involved. Consider Victor Newman on The Young and the Restless. He has been married to 8 different women sometimes multiple times and had various affairs with other women including with his own son’s former wife and the mother of his grandchildren. These shows are meant to be intensely dramatic for sheer entertainment value, but they’re on during the day and focus mostly on an adult audience, mainly housewives. Even primetime dramas like Dallas were focused on adults and had little appeal for younger generations.

With 90210 and the advent of teen dramas, the focus was drawing in a younger crowd, and they worked. Scores of young girls were able and more than willing to drool over Jason Priestly and Luke Perry while envying and copying the characters played by Shannon Doherty and Tori Spelling. The show aired after school was over and after homework was likely to have been completed but not so late as to concern parents about letting even their 10-12 year olds watch it.

Those early preteen and teen years —the years which my peers would have been watching 90210—are pretty impressionable ones. Personalities are really budding, hormones are changing, and the brain is becoming more fully developed yet still not able to realize between an entertainment figure and a role model. Independence becomes more important as does the idea of romantic relationships. Being influencing by characters on a show like 90210, where it all started, or even envious of the popularity of people like Snooki from The Jersey Shore, who has her own Halloween costume this year can make some major changes in the forming self. In my time reflection, I’ve seen how deeply that influence can cut.

Here I am about to celebrate the very last weekend of my 20s, and I find I’m surrounded by a culture which approves of people keeping the tags on clothes to show off the brand and who are continuously trying to gain success and happiness through material possessions. Teen pregnancy has become a commodity which is glamorized on television. Teen moms make 6 figure incomes to act like complete white trash in front of a massive world-wide audience. Divorce rates continue to climb, and America continues to have the highest rates of depression. Children carry cell phones and spend their days playing video games instead of visiting museums. Jersey Shore gives us a glimpse of “reality” these days by proving people have become a real version of a 90210 cast. All in all, the things I see every time I open a social network are reminiscent of 90210 and the shows created in its image over the last 21 years.


What can be done?

Not much I’m afraid, but really I have to send a big thank you  to Brenda, Brandon, Kelly, Donna, Andrea, Steve, Dylan, and David. Thanks, guys, for showing us the art of being fake. 
April 24, 2011

The Spirit of Easter

Nutosaurus rex: just wanted to say happy easter. you must love today.

me: why would i love today?

nutosaurus rex: your kid and candy

me: stupid holiday

nutosaurus rex: i'm not saying you're excited about the rising of jesus. just the nerd ropes.

me: i'm on a candy free diet

nutosaurus rex: why? is that why you were snippy towards me?

me: i've been off the goods for a couple months

nutosaurus rex: why? were your tits too perfect?

me: oh boo. it's not good for me.

nutosaurus rex: neither is a lotta shit. you liked candy. figured you'd never quit it.

me: i had to. i feel better about not finding happiness at the bottom of a nerds box. 
March 30, 2011

These Days

My windows are rolled partway down while I drive home this evening. The warm, humid air ruffling my bangs hasn’t really affected the heavy aroma of slow-boiled cabbage permeating every inch of air space in my car; I just can’t shake the smell.

I’m on the way home after work. It’s a 45 mile drive. Some people tell me they couldn’t commute so far day in and day out, but I love my time on the road with my favorite bands cranked up to speaking-blowing volumes. Today with the breeze forcefully caressing my skin and the beauty of the sunset before me, I couldn't ask for a better time. This must be why the song “These Days”  by the Black Keys sucker punches me straight on, no holds barred.

Dan Auerbach’s soulful croon makes me smirk with the line “Men come in different shades. That’s how we’re made” and its universal truth. But in the next moment, his sorrow surrounds me like a blanket. “that little house on Ellis drive is where I felt most alive. The oak tree covered that old Ford. I miss it, Lord. I miss it, Lord.” All his emotion spills through my speakers and threatens to spill from my eyes. I am completely overtaken.

And in that same moment I realize how much I love everything I have and everything I am.

I have that small house. That simple life. My existence is surrounded by the beauty of Spanish Moss covered trees and punctuated by pink sunsets not violent colors so obscene. The minutes spent hand turning the earth for the garden in my front yard or sitting around the room laughing with friends will never be seen as wasted times. Even as Auerbach fills my ears with his melancholy regrets, I realize more than ever that my choice to live this life instead of making the choice for something more glitzy has made me a better person.

Georgia, despite popular opinion, has not and will not ruin me. And, here is Dan Auerbach to attest to this truth.

My car is filled with the scent of cabbage because the woman who delivers medicines at the pharmacy where I work cooked a meal today. She woke up early. 5 a.m. early. She labored in her kitchen, this 65 year old fairy godmother of mine who can tell the dirtiest of jokes. The ham baked to tender, juicy deliciousness in the oven while she cut cabbage and let it boil then simmer its way to perfection. She cooked rice with neck bones added for flavor and whipped up a batch of Jiffy cornbread muffins. And she did all this before coming to work at a place where she is often taken for granted. We enjoyed the meal at lunch cracking jokes and complaining about the natives, and when the day was done, she offered the entire batch of leftovers to me to take home for myself and my roommates. Her giving nature never ceases.

I had to leave a kidney as collateral that I’d actually bring her dishes back this time.

The Southern Sunday dinner smells only add to my appreciation of these days. My days. And it makes me embrace the woeful nature of this song even more intensely. I realize how many regrets I would have if I left my life behind to chase after greener grass; that realization makes me understand the sadness in this song all the more. And a tear rolls down one cheek.

I may look back at this time one day and miss it, but for now, there is nothing wrong with living in my little corner of the world.

My hand to God
I didn't mean to
After all
That we've been through
Men come in different shapes
That's how we're made

The little house on Ellis drive
Is where I felt most alive
The oak tree covered that old Ford
I miss it, Lord. I miss it, Lord

These blood red eyes
Don't see so good
But, what's worse is if they could
Would I change my ways?
Wasted times and broken dreams
Violent colors so obscene
It's all I see these days
These days

Watch what you say
The devil is listenin'
He's got ears that you
Wouldn't believe
And brother, once you go to him
It's your soul you can never retrieve

These blood red eyes
Don't see so good
But whats worse is if they could?
Would I change my ways?
Wasted times and broken dreams
Violent colors so obscene
It's all I see these days
These days

February 4, 2011

Isn't It Ironic?

So I’m standing around at a NOFX concert…

Yeah, I know. I should have thought this through a little better.

Anyway, I’m standing at this concert and I have a total Final Destination moment. This happens due to the summation of several factors.

1. I am on the second floor of a bar/club and I can feel the vibrations of the double bass drum from the band playing on the ground floor.

2. The entire building seems to be made completely of wood.

3. There are numerous men who are much too big to be jumping around like kids who are, indeed, jumping around and punching at each other like children. Hereafter these men shall be referred to as fatties, huge bitches, or big ass motherfuckers.

4. These huge bitches are making the floor bounce like a fucking trampoline right underneath my feet.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = death trap.

In my mind, I see these fatties causing the floor to give way beneath us. It would splinter like a frozen sheet of ice covering a lake and start to break away. The stage would begin to collapse, sparks would fly, and all this wood would begin to burn. With all the alcohol spillage, it would ignite quickly and the entire place would be engulfed in flames. After suffering a broken ankle in the fall , I would be trampled while trying to make my way to the exit and I would die while the fat cells of some of those big ass motherfuckers who fell on top of me dripped onto my skin.

Sounds like a good time, huh? I probably had marginally more fun than that in real life since I didn’t live out a scene from Final Destination 17. In fact, before the night was even over, I walked out and left the person I accompanied there while I waited not so patiently in the car. My last text read:

I am ready to fucking go. It is freezing. I have beer everywhere. I don’t care who you talked to. I am not going to wait out here another hour while you chat people up.

I don’t understand the point of throwing a ham sandwich at a Jewish guy. That is the theme of the evening. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a worse crowd in all the many concerts I’ve been to in my lifetime and I’ve been in some rough ones. It doesn’t take much when you’re 5’4 and have a vagina. Unless I’m there with a guy as a pretty, tattooed accessory, I’m in the way. But still, Metalheads seem to have nothing when it comes to the sheer unadulterated ignorance of a collective punker crowd.

We’re going to hurl crushed, mostly empty beer cans at a band we paid 30 bucks to see. We’re going to ironically insult them by tossing processed pork. We will smoke pot in the middle of the crowd because we’re rebels, baby. We don’t have any rules. It’s anarchy, bitches. Fuck yeah. And we’re going to run around a room in a circle punching and kicking other people in a mass of sweat and stink and cigarette smoke. It’s ironic dancing. Everything we do is ironic. And that’s how we fight the system to take it down, doll face. We do drugs that people have negative opinions about then act in completely inane, violent ways. It’s okay though. It’s all irony, you see.

What? What’s that you say? That doesn’t seem like a sensible approach to accomplishing a single fucking thing? Yeah, you’re probably right.

NOFX, though not exactly my thing, put on a great show. But as I’m standing there frozen to the spot in midst of my Final Destination montage with beer drying on my Chucks and jeans, sore, possibly bruised and bleeding, makeup ruined from the water that had been splashed in my face from a hurtling plastic bottle, I realize this is really not how I would like to spend the last few moments of my life. There’s no value in this experience to say the least. So I squeeze through the crowd and go sit in my car to work on my book. I’d rather have been mugged and murdered sitting in my car in the middle of Atlanta than drown in adipose while flames lick my toes and creep up the legs of my beer soaked jeans. In fact, after measuring my options, the risk of getting mugged and murdered on my way to the car or while in the car seemed trivial in comparison to sharing one more moment of my time with such a negative entity.

Tips for Punkers (and anyone else who acts like a fucktard at concerts):

1. I don’t care how hot it is--do not take off your shirt in a crowd. Your armpits always smell and you look like a dick. Keeping the shirt on minimizes the amount of sweat you insist on depositing on someone else when you rub against them on your way to do more punching.

2. A band will likely not come back if you throw lunchmeat at them. I know this is hard to process, but I would never lie to you.

3. Learn phrases like “pardon me” and “my bad.” When you trample someone a foot shorter than you, he or she may be less likely to elbow the fuck out of your ribs on your way by if you simple use such a phrase.

4. It’s probably a bad idea to pound 8 beers while participating in the equivalent of the Running of the Bulls.

5. Having a standard look is the same as a uniform. Uniforms are, ironically, a symbol of oppression. This leads me to think you are, likely, oppressing not liberating yourselves. Being a “punker” is not a way of dress. It’s supposed to be a way of life.

6. Respect the fact that some people came to actually watch the band. It’s tough to understand right now, I know, but it’s true. Just think about it for a while. There are people in these crowds who have no less right to be there than you who absolutely do not have any desire to run around all crazy like and get punched or knocked down onto a hard concrete floor.

7. Some of you are way too big to be running around like that. You’re going to kill someone or possibly have a heart attack. You should slowly work up to that amount of aerobic exercise.  Also, some of you come to these events just for the punching. I know you got made fun of when you were younger, but let it go. Between fight dancing and Call of Duty addiction, you’re all becoming pretty scary and you will never get laid.

8. Not wearing deodorant is not a form of rebellion. It’s fucking stupid.

9. Those guys at the front of the crowd who work for the venue get tired of picking your drunk asses up and redistributing you when you’re having a “blast” crowd surfing. They’re doing it for a reason. If one of you happened to fall and break your neck while this was allowed to go on, your pathetic ass would sue the shit out of said venue. This rule has a reason. No one wants to pick up 30 people over the course of 4 hours because you all persist in your stupidity.

10. If 1-9 are still giving you some trouble, perhaps you should stick to something simple. Use some common fucking sense.

about me. not really.

dear you,

i don't talk about my child or being a mom. i don't talk about my garden. i won't mention my craftiness (often) or how much i save each week with coupons. if you're looking for that sort of thing, you're in the wrong place.

instead, let's abandon the tethers of domestication for a moment and remember what it's like to laugh at vulgarity and the world at large.



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