RAISED WITH WOLVES


Spending too much time on airplanes
May 16, 2014, 1:55 pm
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Hemingway always gets me down. 

Yesterday I flew from Casper, Wyoming -layover in Denver- to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I read “To Have and Have Not” by Hemingway, which is a subtle commentary on love, and an not so subtle commentary on Capitalism, the American Dream, and the choices a man makes and how those choices define one’s life. 

Hem has a knack for writing true and honest characters. His heroes are flawed, the way people are flawed, the way I am flawed. Often, reading a Hemingway novel is like looking into a mirror– the way literature should be. 

It is so easy for me to go about life not really thinking of the consequences of my actions. I’ve spent a lot of time (maybe all of it) just trudging on and on to the next thing to the next girl to the next place to the next event to the next something. It is easy to just keep moving without really analysing the universe I’m creating around me.

That’s why art is important. Too often in pop media we are presented with characters who embody a certain ideal. Flat good guys and perfect bad guys and usually you can tell who is who within the first few minutes. But hey, it is entertainment, it is escapism, and it is good for you, to an extent. 

Art exists to hold up a mirror. Art exists to expose the self. So Hemingway bums me out because his work is often an meditation on the human condition, which is after all, my condition.

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Master and Commander
April 27, 2014, 3:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I used to think I’d be a pretty good cult leader. Not like one of the weird sexual ones, or creepy murderous ones., I mean the kind of guy who can get a group of people together and get them to do something fantastic. Five years ago I felt like I could do anything. I’d recently graduated college and I was probably still coasting on that pseudo intellectual high. I felt invincible, and I felt like a character, not a person, a character.

A few friends and I bought a school bus. One weekend we were eating at a mexican food restaurant in Angleton, and the next weekend we were driving a 36 foot school bus home. That is when I learned that things just MATERIALISE when you really want them to. I learned that if you really want to do something, you just go out and do it. You do it. You absolutely just go out and make it fucking happen.

So I thought I’d be a pretty good cult leader. I was reading lots of Kerouac and Kesey and the doors of perception and drinking a lot of red wine and I thought that we could make anything we wanted materialse. And I guess I was right about some of it.

I never did become a great spiritual leader. I never became much of anything, actually. I do live in a house with roughly 66% of my friends in downtown Houston. But I haven’t converted any of them to my way of thinking. I haven’t even converted myself to my way of thinking. I’m a bad practitioner of the hodepodge Zen Christian Mystic school of thought that I supposedly espouse. I haven’t even seen the bus in a year or two. It was supposed to be vehicle to my enlightenment. It is sitting in Tucker’s back yard in Angleton, Texas. Even as I sit in a twin bed, alone, in Kenai, Alaska. The bus is growing weeds around it and it’s paint is fading.

And I never became the leader of any sort of cult. .



In St. Louis, thinking about a girl.
April 13, 2014, 5:24 pm
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I’m sitting at another airport bar. If I really gave a shit anymore I would have crossed that statement out and started over. It’s hackneyed. The lonely traveler. The brooding artistic type. The writer who drinks too much.

But I’m not a writer, really. And I’m not really all that brooding anymore, so it stands.

 

I’m sitting at another airport bar. This time in St. Louis, Missouri. I’ve been here a few times. The first time was after a three hour drive from Springfield because I was too unaware of my surroundings and google wasn’t quite as smart as it is now, and I didn’t know about the airport IN Springfield.

So I drove three hours through the mountains in my Ford escort and blew out the clutch. From St. Louis i flew into Dallas and then into the bowling alley that passes for an airport that is Midland/Odessa. I was a groomsman in my a college buddy’s wedding. Our friendship began to dissipate that day, which is fair, I guess.

I used to spend a little time in St. Louis. I’d drive up from Springfield, where I was going to college, to see baseball games and bands play and so on. And now every time I pass through, always on a layover, there is a girl from my past on my mind.

My friends in houston know her as “good handwriting girl”. I know her as the girl that got away, and although we never dated, never kissed, never really even held hands. I am still talking about her seven years later.

She was beautiful, motivated, quirky, funny, artistic, honest, trustworthy, sacred, and smart (smarter than me. I’ve only admitted this about one other woman in my life. Shout out Jennifer Dedman! Deadman?). I loved her. I think she loved me. But I never made things happen because I was too afraid of finality. Too afraid of hitting the bullseye and being stuck there. I think this happened to her a lot. Guys were always telling her that she was the type of girl you married, but not really the kind of girl you dated.

I thought we were soulmates. Honestly. I thought that for a long time. Maybe I still do. I sound like Ted Moesby (I arrived to the HIMYM party about a decade too late, forgive me. I was busy). Moesby or not, I thought that we were cut from the same cloth, and I think that’s why I delayed our romance. I thought that she would be there on the other side of my twenties, after I was done with all the raucousness that has come to define the past seven years of my life. I thought that since we were so similar, that I didn’t really have to worry about losing her.

I realised this as I stepped off the plane into the St Louis airport.

 



clocks
October 1, 2013, 10:27 pm
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My life is measured in fuck ups. How many years since I broke so and so’s heart. How many months since I threw a punch at one of my best friends. How many years since I smashed beer bottles at my lovers’ front steps. How many years since I was a complete coward regarding the love of my life, How long since I did irreparable damage to the girl who loved me the most. 

I should probably get a better perspective on things.

 

It’s really dragging me down.



Mt. Washington part 1
September 10, 2013, 5:27 pm
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The sky above Pittsburgh wept.

Tourists snapped pictures of the skyline- at hubristic towers of jericho- from a Mt. Washington overlook.

I imagined the sound of flashbulbs, but of course no one used flashbulbs since the 1930’s or something.

Watching the tourists, I wondered, very self consciously, if they noticed me. Their cameras sounded like cockroaches now, which made my skin crawl, so I put my headphones over my ears and I could no longer hear the cockroaches. I could only see the tourists, but I couldn’t really see individual people any more, just a group of tourists, taking pictures of the pittsburgh skyline.

I smirked self righteously. They were missing the whole point.

“You’re missing the whole point!” I said out loud. I couldn’t hear myself over the music in my ears, so I don’t know if I said anything at all, but no one took notice of me at any rate.

What they were missing, was a great convergence in the sky. Emanating from behind the mountain, where the sun was setting, was a dogfight of colour.

My toes curled in my shoes. I was not wearing socks. My mouth curled into a grin as pink, gold, purple, red converged above us, behind us, around us, inside us.

But their attention was on the static, the monolith, the immovable, the secular.

I squinted down at the city, gripping the overlook handrail, and Pittsburgh was as I had seen it a hundred times before, and always would be. I craned my neck back around and the sky above and around me began to bubble and fracture, reds and purples and like a plague of Moses, I was sure the sky was going to break open and engulf us all.

“You’re missing it”. I whispered to faceless tourist horde, taking family pictures with the urban panorama behind them. “Pitt” heather grey sweatshirts and proud parents and I wondered if I would appear in any of the pictures and if God was about to speak from the purple canyon above the city.

There wre fissures and cracks and the clouds began to crumble and all I felt was peace. Overwhelming doves flying like rivers peace. Violent red shaking peace. and God’s love.

In the reflective glass windows of the UPMC building I watched, because one does not simply look at God directly, as a golden rod extended cross the Allegheny and split Mt. Washington in two and tourists inched away from me as I began to clap and I realised everything would be fine.

But damn was I thirsty.

So I trudged up the cobblestone street, and I’m not making this up, no hallucination, Shiloh Street is Cobblestone. I held myself against the cool fall wind as kids played on the sidewalk, using expletives of which they didn’t know the meanings.

I walked into Packs N’ Dogs which had been replaced with a movie set. I was suddenly directing and I had clearly mastered the art of subtle low light and attention to minute detail and melancholic set design.

I collected a six pack of shiners together from the cooler as extras moved in the background, shifting in their seats, wiping mustard from the corner of their mouths, and I struggled to pay the cahsier, whom I knew well enough to realise he had been replaced by a much better looking, and more well-defined jawlined, actor. I exited the building slowly, every step intentional and back out onto the cobble stone street into dim hazy twilight and CUT!

I found myself alone, in the dark, drinking my six pack from a grassy park on the other side of Mt. Washington. A new image of the city shone beneath me, sparkling beneath the hollow moon.

there was a perfect calm draped over Pittsburgh, and i basked in it, feeling teh grass with my toes and fingers like a dog that’s been cooped up inside all day. The grass glowed, buzzed, with a blue fluorescence, like millions of tiny neon lights. I breathed deeply. Breathed in the surrounding night, which held me so close I could hear its organs churning inside, and suddenly I was completely empty, and for the first time in months I could actually hear myself.

the frenetic jarring stumbling voices went to sleep. The manic jittery juvenile storm fell silent.

Most of the time, it feels like there is something writhing inside me. It is vaguely demonic and it is loud. When it stops moving, and it leaves me for a few hours to days, it takes with me anything remotely positive, and I know beyond all doubt that I’ll have to kill myself just to feel normal.

But as I sat there in silence, the city glowing beneath me, the grass like tiny blue sparks, I felt neither the maniac nor the darkness, nor the myriad of constantly competing voices. I was emptiness, and I was me, finally.

My phone buzzed in my pocket. I’d forgotten all about that thing.

ANGELA ❤ lit up on the screen. I smiled widely and answered the phone.

I can’t remember what she said because I wasn’t listening. I could hear her, but all that was registering was “I might even love this woman and that is so strange. Everything is so strange.”  And I looked out over the city and way out at the 40th street bridge where it hovered above the river and I could see my own future and I knew that I would always love her. How strange indeed.

“No, I can’t come over right now”

“Maybe later?”

“Yes, I’m sorta dealing with some things. But life is beautiful and you are beautiful and… I’m pretty sure I love you”.

She didn’t respond to that. Instead she told me to enjoy the night because it was mine.

I finished my six pack and headed down the hill to my house. I opened the door to find an empty house, besides my dog, who wagged his tail excitedly and brought me a sock.

I heard voices outside, and upon investigation found Mike and his girlfriend, Jennifer sitting by the fire pit, beers in hand.

“Dude, where the hell have you been?”

I smiled, “Oh, just around”.

Mike looked at his girlfriend knowingly. “He ate some mushrooms. Like the kind that faeries live on and dance around and shit.”

And I was. Eight hours had passed and I was coming down slowly like a big Boeing circling DFW. The ground still slanted away from me unnaturally and the whole world was breathing heavily and the walls shuddered and the grass moved like worms and Mike’s face was plastic but otherwise I was coming down.

“Take me to get some beer.”

“Why don’t you have some water”

“Because I want beer.”

On the ride back to Packs ‘N Dogs, I told Mike about the sky cracking open and the tourists and my brief directing career adn ow i’d stared at a baby deer on some magical stair steps for what seemed like days and that we knew each other intimately now and the deer knew as well as I did that I was fully in love with Angela.

“Nah, man, you’re just on drugs,” Mike said as he pulled into our driveway.



Pigs is Pigs: Part Deux

I had never been to jail before. I’ve told this to Christian girls interested in my perceived bad-boy image and they have responded with disappointed frowns and gazes out the car window. I guess everyone assumes that’s been part of my adventures, but up until that night in Pittsburgh, I’d managed to keep out from behind those bars. I know I’ve been lucky and haven’t gotten caught doing a lot of stupid things (running from cops and their dogs while drunken Leif called his parents on his dang credit card comes to mind).

I have a certain disdain for authority. It doesn’t sit well with my psyche that any man can have complete control over another man. THAT sounds a lot like slavery. The idea that my rights can be taken away by the judgment of a man who has the IQ of a high school jock, and a six month Jr college certificate, kind of infuriates me.

I ruminated on that fact as I sat on the floor in a ten X eight jail cell with seven other men, all in various states of sobriety and mental capacity. I sat there for twenty two hours before I got to talk to a judge and hear my lengthy and damning charges. I slept next to a steel toilet on teh concrete floor for minutes at a time. I endured mind numbing boredom. I watched a dope-sick man collapse into a coma-like state. I sat next to a guy who snorted coke from a band aid. And I took to saying things like, “my people don’t even know where I am, mayne.” and, “Oh, I stay up in Mt. Washington, my crib isn’t anything special”. Assimilation helps smooth out certain tribal displacements. 

Even though I was only in county for the night, and day, and night again, I had the visceral realisation that jail is meant to break you. Even if the charges don’t stick, and you walk away a free man; sitting in those tiny cells, with nothing to look at, nothing to do, nothing to feel or touch or really say, is torture. It is a reminder that the ruling class can take everything away from you if you get out of line. So that next time I see a cop I just say, “Yes sir, thank you, sir” and move along like the rest of society. It is so one thinks twice about challenging the status-quo. 

When I finally did get to speak to a judge, at about eleven pm the next night, I felt like a dog that had been beaten and kenneled after shitting on the floor. I looked up at the woman whose word held the keys to my freedom as she read off my charges, which included, “evading and eluding, possession of illegal weapons, harassing a police officer, resisting arrest,” and a few more I’m choosing not to mention. And then she let me out on OR, which means I was bonded out on my own recognizance. Is that a word? Oh well I don’t know.

I walked out of the jail without a cell phone (it was in the work truck that had been towed and impounded) or any money. I stuffed the court orders and paperwork they gave me in my vest pocket, held myself close, and started walking in the below freezing Pittsburgh night. I was so happy to walk, to be free, to be a real person again. I walked across Liberty bridge, the wind whipping against my face, shoving my hands deep into my pockets for warmth. Snow littered the ground, glowed in the pale moonlight. I trudged up Mt. Washington, and into our empty house. I went to sleep alone that night, wishing that God or my Mom or Stephanie, or  my friends or the myriad of women who didn’t love me were there to talk to. I just wanted to talk to someone who cared about me. Although being alone wasn’t half bad either, as long as I was “free”.



Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion

One of these days I’m going to compose a definitive list of things that severely depress me. Then I’m going to run all the text together and paste it over a picture from Donnie Darko or a picture of Ethan Embry looking very pensive.

Image

Here’s a preview (spoiler alert!)

The smell of dollar stores.
Cheap little knockoff brand toys that will disappoint the children who receive them, and have not yet come to understand the necessity of the impoverished faux-excitement to save  their parents pride.
Putting on a shirt that I bought a few years ago and haven’t worn much, only to take it off and leave it on the couch and say, “I still like you very much shirt, today just isn’t your day”, and feeling guilty for excluding him.
Wondering if I travel because I love being on the road or because If I chose a home I’d have to actually start making decisions about my life.

Just in case you’re writing a book about me, those are some damn good details to include. It will add a certain Miranda July flair to your book, you know, in case it isn’t already white and awkward enough.