Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Romance of Suffrage.

Finally, it is here.


The big day.


The sun shone brightly, the back of my neck housed colonies of sweat beads. I felt nearly nauseated with anticipation. The planning and money that had gone into this moment made my head spin. I sucked in the crisp fall air. Months and months of preparation for one lone day, albeit memorable. The results would dictate so much. The decision was never simple.


You had to know your stuff. You want to live with no regrets, to know all of the intricacies. You want to be happy. But when I saw the face of my choice, of my person, I knew it to be right. I had zero doubts. It was instantaneous with us. We have so much in common. Our views, passions, and goals line up flawlessly. Isn’t that what matters most?


So I jumped in, head first. Splash. Soaked. Submerged. I was committed, early on too. I did not waver. I made my preference known. That is the way to do it. Wear it proud. You must believe in this person wholeheartedly.


So I stand there with a trembling body, wrecked with nervous excitement. I have thought of this moment for so long. My first but not my last. It is finally my turn. My ballot is punched. The woman sits in her chipped black fold up chair with a kind smile, pointing her finger out to me. The chair whines. I take what she is offering me with gusto and slap it to my chest.


I voted!


Today is going to be a good day.


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Monday, October 13, 2014

A fragment of my fiction:

I saw it in her eyes after all of this time. How had I missed it there before? This picture of her howled. Perhaps I chose to ignore it out of fear. I wanted her to stay. I wanted her to love me. In my dreams we were that couple. I sweep in easily and give her all she ever dreamed of. Somewhere entangled in her dark hair were all of my wishes. Each one was a cog in the wheel of plans I had envisioned for us. It was foolish to think it so simply. I always thought that I knew very little back then but now I realize that I may know even less in my current state. I imagine her with flaws so undefined that only I can root them out. I welcome them. She is imperfect in ways that can only be justified in the irrationality of love. To find her was a reconnaissance. It is not as if the planets aligned, with her it was something more spectacular. In her I find things everyone craves, but I’m not inclined to share. If I’m selfish then so be it. The way she speaks, her lexicon and all of her bright ideas, make me stumble. She defeats norms. She side steps my paper thin charm and forces a genuineness I was always lacking. Fact or fiction, she creeps into my mind. I tell her I rarely think of her as some sarcastic quip to make her laugh. She knows better. How does she always know better? I hope the supply of reasons why I ask myself this never runs dry.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I’m not entirely sure that I ever knew

Looking back on it now, as I have always had a tendency to do in the silent moments that find me, I’m not entirely sure that I ever knew. That probably sounds like bullshit now, you know, after the fact. But I think I mean it, for the most part at least. I’m sure I meant it then too, I suppose.


The truth is that in this world we know very little. There is a minuscule amount of certainty in day to day life. The few certainties we do receive are unpredictable, like death, for instance. Death will come when it comes and there is not a damn thing we can do to stop it. Is there not some organic romance to that though? We all plod about waiting for fate to descend upon us and grant us with whatever obstacles are ahead of us. Our control dwarfs in comparison to the volatile reality of life. Every aspect is randomized by human nature.


This should be taught to children rather than fairytales. Fables of human travesty or blunder are paramount. Perhaps that is cynical. Maybe children do need happily ever after to establish and perceive hope. But I find it harmful to parade children around, filling their heads with unattainable fallacy. If they are so dear to us, if we love them so much then why not give them the greatest chance to succeed despite the unpredictable nature of mankind? Be honest with them. Let us put facts into their minds, not fiction. Do we not owe them that?


The world is but seven billion lives trying to survive, all spinning their webs with persistence. I replay my life like a movie, each image flickering upon the screen in my mind. So many things to regret, so many things to cherish. But in between those moments in which we reminisce and obsess over are the moments I believe I lived the finest. The simple moments that dictate each day, the moments I pay no mind to, like how I take my cup of coffee or which shoe I put on first. Our lives are filled with tiny decisions that mean nearly as much as the larger ones we make. Because there is very little control, very little in the way of predictability. There is only a heart that beats and lungs that breathe.


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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Death of the Opinion

Opinion |əˈpinyən|
noun
a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

I grieve for the opinion. The Death of the Opinion as an institution should be more publicize than it has been. I’ve been clamoring about it for quite some time now. Have we become so desperate to be right and to prove a point that we have lost sight of a word’s very meaning? I tire endlessly of people using "it is just my opinion" as an excuse to end an argument or justify a terrible action. The opinion is not an excuse for bigotry, hate speech, or discrimination of any kind. The opinion is not an excuse for ignorance.

With the age of the internet and the peak of social media comes a certain belief that we all possess expert knowledge concerning everything. We are starting to believe that every subject demands our point of view to be explained on various social media outlets. I realize I run the risk of sounding hypocritical as I type on my blog but it is a risk I'm willing to take. For this is an epidemic. This is especially true in America where using freedom of speech as an excuse to run your mouth went out with the trash long before the internet was born. Despite what some uneducated Americans may think, we didn't invent Freedom of Speech.

I may sound like I am a proponent of McCarthyism, as if maybe when I'm finished writing this I'll pack up and go hunt down some communists. This is far from the truth. I'd be willing to bet that the Death of the Opinion as an institution irritates me to no end because I partially put it here. As a young adult in the social media era I take partial credit for its hand in all of this. But it is time to see the error of our ways. It is time to move past the Facebook arguments about whatever socio-economical, domestic, or civil moment the news is shoving down our throats. We are feeding the machine, we are sacrificing ourselves right into its unkempt teeth.

We must allow ourselves to seek the rarity of the fight. Instead of spreading unsolicited opinions and wasting energy on the flavor of the week why not save yourself for something that matters deeply? We are not forced to pick a side or to feed the rage machine. An essay in n+1, number eighteen summed it up best, “We assert our right to not care about stuff, to not say anything, to opt out of debate over things that are silly and also things that are serious -- because why pretend to have a strong opinion when we do not? Why are we being asked to participate in some imaginary game of Risk where we have to take a side?” We should tire of hearing ourselves speak for a change. Humility is a principal we need to instill in one another.

Robert F. Kennedy believed that “it is not enough to allow dissent. We must demand it. For there is much to dissent from.” I never want to make anyone feel as though they should not fight for what they believe in. My only wish is that we could realize the importance of a dedication to one or two issues. The RFK book that I read this quote in also had an entry he wrote where he quoted Plato as saying “A life without criticism is not worth living.” Next to the quote in pencil I had scribbled “He obviously didn’t have to deal with social media.” This is the summation of what internet has done to my belief in our fight for right and wrong.

The internet is a miraculous thing, honestly. When you sit back and think of all it does and all it can do it is truly astonishing. But what is disheartening is the way in which the general population wastes it. If we are all dead set on providing our opinions on each subject under the sun then perhaps we could take a moment or two to research the facts. We have more information at our fingertips than any generation in the history mankind yet there is a serious lack of education here.

This is also due to the fact that the internet is a mostly unedited aggregate of information. It is easy for people to promote falsehoods but this is not unique to the internet alone, it is a craze of the media. Could this be a majorly unaddressed issue? It is so easy for people to lie without much punishment and to advance their fact-less information. Perhaps we need a database for people who spread falsehoods in the media and make people be held responsible for the stupidity they foster within their audience. There once was a certain code of trust you enter in with the media, at least on the civilian side, that is violated daily now. We trust them to provide us with the truth. A trustworthy bond with your newsperson is rare, unlike the heyday of CBS News in the 60s and 70s, there is no Walter Cronkite to be found. USA Today wrote that "few TV figures have ever had as much power as Cronkite did at his height.” With the readily accessible state that we receive news and information now we will never see this again. But the Death of Journalism is a post for another day.

I once told a friend of mine that I should wear a shirt that reads: I HATE THE INTERNET. We had been going back and forth in a jumbled discussion for two hours as we often do when he comes home to visit. We touch on various subjects, the majority being politics. One that we both agreed on is that the disenfranchised undercurrent that our generation has with politics is largely due to the fact that most are uneducated on the subject. This becomes blatantly obvious during election years. But it runs deeper than only politics.

Many of the themes I've written here I complained to him about, but what I always came back to was that simple phrase. I hate the internet. I feel somewhat guilty about this because I don't hate the internet, it is a misguided statement born from frustration. I'm disappointed in the internet, like I'm its parent. I expect so much more and better from the internet because it is a magic tool. We must utilize it to become the best we can be, to know as much as we possibly can know, and to cram our minds with the aggregate.

We may not all become experts but we can make an effort to cite expert knowledge. Maybe then, and only then, can the opinion experience a rebirth.

“Truth is not an imperative, but something that must be discovered. Unlike liquid opinion, truth does not always circulate. It is that which you experience, deeply, and cannot forget. The right to not care is the right to sit still, to not talk, to be subject to unclarity and allow knowledge to come unbidden to you.”

ch950119

[To read more from the n+1 essay: The Intellectual Situation - Against the Rage Machine, click here.]

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lucky Me (poem)

It takes only one thought,
As if thoughts were the highest form of currency,
For me to get lost in you.

Though I have been scared to admit it,
My feelings are entrenched in you,
As if you were my foundation.

When framing images from life,
Hold me in place for the moment,
Until I close my eyes to see you.

There is a dream in the sky,
Displayed like commandments,
Instructing us to come together.

Knowing the truth now,
As if all before it were fiction,
Something rare deserves the attention.

Bring this in even if only at a whisper,
The words between us blossoming forward,
As if they were endlessly paramount.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Limited or Limitless.

My mind is on continuous loop, unable to completely devote itself to one subject. Just this morning alone I've worked on my novel, a short story, a blog post, played guitar, and read some passages from a JFK book I recently acquired. In my adolescence I hoped this would lead to something akin to the "Renaissance Man" phenomena of the Enlightenment and beyond. Polymath, Greek for having learned much, has always been a goal I have ventured towards. But to be this way takes a certain drive that I often find myself praying to no one in particular for. If I can not reach this capacity then I may end up being someone who is simply good or even mediocre at so many things instead of being great at just one. That is my on going nightmare. Does anyone strive to be simply good at something? I guess there are some out there, content to go through the motions. They do just enough to get by. Those people, on days when I feel particularly down, receive my envy.

What type of masochist devotes themselves to multiple ventures? Who would choose to worship all deities? Renaissance humanism and their basic tenet was that humans are limitless in their capacity for development. The school of thought being embrace knowledge and develop to our full capabilities in the realms of intellect, art, social and physical practice. To be a great thinker and to do great actions. Perhaps that is the two moods I ever feel, limited or limitless.

I do not fancy myself in the same circles as da Vinci or Francis Bacon but I do strive for greatness.I always feel like an ass when I say that I'm destined for more than just good. Dreaming of being better is nothing to be disparaging about, it is what catapults us to so much more than we may have known we were capable of. I do strive to commit myself to the efforts of man kind. I seek to be a house with many mansions. Robert F Kennedy loved to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw and say "Some men see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask 'Why not?'" To sit idly by while the world passes is a sin that I have never been capable of wrapping my mind around. RFK felt similarly. How can so many be so content to allow others to shape their lives and discover the things that propel them? If the world was filled with those who waited then we would be within the direst of straights. I want to ask "Why not?" But I also want to answer the question too.

Someone once told me that not everything has to be grand on such a massive level to have that effect. Maybe I should strive to be great and worry about the grandness of it all later.

ch950104

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Habit, or Tick (short story)

I had developed a bad habit. Or maybe it was more of a tick, I'm not entirely sure. I tried to ask my dad the difference but he told me to go back to sleep. In his defense it was late. It was also a school night but that distinction means very little to me anymore. At one point it meant that I needed, at the very least, eight hours of sleep to function the next day. Now I know that was not the truth. Coffee has awoken that truth to me. It has a weird tendency to do so. My father devours the stuff, even with dinner. Gross. I, now, love java but mostly need carbonation with dinner, or any meal actually. It was one of my things, you know? Like only using eight ice cubes in my drink. What a pain that was at restaurants with crushed ice. There was no way to anticipate the temperature of your beverage in those situations. It is a shame. I’m not horribly fond of the unpredictable nature of anything. I want to know. I used to say that I have to know but my father was quick to distinguish the difference to me. It took some time for me to understand but I got there. I have to have oxygen to survive. I want to watch Jeopardy promptly each evening. Even if Trebek is a substandard host to me. My mom finds him to be handsome. Our television does a great job because we do this split screen thing so I can watch baseball AND Jeopardy at the same time. Volume stays on Jeopardy though or else we would not hear the answers. On average I answer somewhere between 67% to 71% of questions correctly. Mom says I should take their yearly audition quiz but I worry I’d get pummeled. Maybe one day. That is the nice thing, it should be around for awhile! My dad gets mad sometimes when I yell answers at the TV or get frustrated by the baseball game. I’ve knocked my dinner off the TV tray before, that really upset him. We always record Jeopardy, just in case, though I have only missed three in two years, I swear. To watch the recorded copies would probably be nice because you can fast forward through the many commercials. Sometimes we watch old episodes that I have on tapes. Like one time mom got me a tape from a garage sale and I was thrilled because Peter Sagal was a contestant. Now he hosts NPR’s quiz show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” which coincidentally I never miss also. This is not irony, as some people may mistake, just simply coincidence. It is a common misconception sadly. I enjoy the commercials on the older tapes, it is like being in a time machine. The bad part is when you see a commercial for a product that is really entrancing but the product is no longer made. This has happened to me a few times. But skipping the commercials has its upside. I also like to use the restroom in this time. It is a race! I have to finish up before they return from the break. I wash my hands, thoroughly, with the warmest water possible. My hands always turn red like a beet. They shake. My skin started to crack after I began this. The skin is like a poorly built structure, like some of the old homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. He was a very interesting guy, very meticulous but also kind of careless. I think I may be this way as well. I read a biography about him recently. His second wife died at their home after some disgruntled workers axed them and set the home ablaze. He was not home however. He was salvaged. So I wash my hands to recover from the negativities (and germs.) As he recovered and many others like Bobby Kennedy after President Kennedy was assassinated. “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which we live.” I recite as I wash. William Appleman Williams said this, Bobby liked this quote. I like this quote. If only his life had not turned even more so tragic. So I wash. But my skin is dry and mom tried to get me to use lotion but I hate lotion. It is gooey and lingers. My dad made me go to the doctor after a while. The best part about the doctor is the magazines in the waiting room. I try to find the oldest ones because you read old news but it is worded to be so current. It wasn’t horrible. They gave me these gloves. I think that they (parents, doctors) think that I do not know that there is lotion within them. I know. I know there is and I still hate it. But it does not really feel like it. There is no stinky lingering. So I wear them. Most of the time I cut the finger tips off and play the counter tops as if I’m Glen Gould on a steinway. I play for my fish Freckles, he is my biggest fan, even though he is only a beta. We got him at the store. There were some others placed in front of him but we made eye contact. We connected. He is the Molly Ringwald to my John Hughes! I feed him four pellets twice a day. Mom says that is “practically what survive on.” She gets upset, or used to at least, because all I want to eat are frozen dinners and peanut butter and butter sandwiches. I have expanded a little though as of late, now I will eat rice. I love rice. It is hard to hold the fork though because my hands almost always hurt. But I can’t stop. My dad says it’ll pass like the other ones have. He must not pay close attention because I still have all of them. Then some times they get worse.

ch870218

Monday, July 14, 2014

Work Space or Creative Sanctuary?

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I spent some time cleaning up my study a bit this afternoon. Now I'm left feeling as if I can’t tell if I’m relieved or if I’m going to have a panic attack when I’m working and can’t find things. Clutter to some can make them feel crazy, yet clutter can also be simply someone's life. I know that when I'm working, especially on my novel, if I need something I want it to be right where I left it. The creative zone, for me at least, is a very fragile existence. When I am flowing there is no stopping it but if I have to wander off to find a quote or a picture that I remember inspires me I do not want it to take long. There is something to be said for having your own private place to work, one in which you follow no one but your own rules.

There is a great piece by the NYT's Gretchen Reynolds entitled "What a Messy Desk Says About You" from last September that is worth a gander on the subject.  Messy vs Clean is all about personality traits. Many have studied the personality traits of all the different people on this planet and how it affects each and everything we do. We live in a world that enjoys analyzing every bit of the world and all that resides in it. This has its pros and cons obviously. Results are mostly varied on this particular subject. “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition which can produce fresh insights.” Dr. Vohs and her co-authors conclude in a study mentioned in the piece. This gives me a little hope that I can still achieve greatness with papers, sticky notes, and books spread out across my desk.

Some may see a messy desk but I see blood, sweat, and tears.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Nostalgia |näˈstaljə, nə-|


Nostalgia |näˈstaljə, nə-|


noun


a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations


DERIVATIVES


nostalgist |-jist| noun


ORIGIN late 18th cent. (in the sense ‘acute homesickness’): modern Latin (translating German Heimweh ‘homesickness’), from Greek nostos ‘return home’ + algos ‘pain.’




We pine. Nostalgia is in some ways is a very fickle thing. While we may find ourselves awash with emotion over a particular moment in time we feel as though the image or thought may never leave us. We worry that we may never shake the feeling. This is almost never true as we are often onto a different mind set mere minutes later. Having passed on from what we once knew, we remain with our feet in the mud of our current lives. This existence of ours is all too changing.


Yet we eventually let ourselves wander and return to it, whether it is hours or days or months or years later. Something will rouse the powers of recall. The memories may become damp over time but they refuse to disappear. In this way it is the opposite of fickle, it is sustainable. Nostalgia is forever lasting. For a moment in time the bits of bygone days captures your imagination so much that in later days you'll pray for some type of science fiction-created time machine to transport you back. To return to the past for various reason. To return to your since deceased grandfather so he can bounce you on his knee, your round infant face deep with joy. To return for one more moment with your childhood best friend before they move away and your daily life and relationship is changed forevermore. To return and cherish the moments when you meet the one you will love for the rest of your days. Emotional artifacts that elicit such a strain on your heart are what count, not the trappings of tragedy or oversight that create regret filled scars upon the mind.


Nostalgia owns the innocence of wanting to relive, not change! Nostalgia owns a fantastical yearning for targets known only to your soul. Those feelings are only magnified by concrete items such as photographs or old home videos. They lend a voice or face to the airy pictures and voices that paint a vivid landscape across our minds. These time blown generated memories are easily trumped by viewed timepieces of the naked eye. They stay with us like a finely poignant song that hits just the right spot. Imagine a world without memories, as if we were idly floating by like the walking dead. Some may wish it were this way, to forget and to proceed on. But in my time I have chosen to incessantly remember, just as I hope the memories choose to regulate the memory of me.


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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Want To Believe

Why are we so desperate to believe in something beyond the logical or concrete existence we live in?

This question puzzles me a great deal. I don't pretend to be a religious individual, I have my doubts in just about everything. The only times I've ever found myself in a state of prayer was concerning either a family members' health or amidst a Red Sox game. I have always been skeptical about any discussion of the afterlife. In the last year or so I've wrestled with the existential crisis of oblivion, of how when we die all that we have strived for disintegrates. Every book that I've read, all of the knowledge I have taken the time to accumulate during my lifetime, will vanish. That is a depressing notion. I would assume that is why everyone is consumed with the concept of leaving a mark on this world, whether it be through a child or an idea or an invention, etc. Why do we so badly want people to remember us after we are gone? What does that actually accomplish for us? I may never know the answer to this.

On the subject of death and the precious time leading up to it, I contemplate something more metaphysical. Today I was discussing with my partner in over-analytic crime (and best friend) Josh about the human ability of intuition. I posed the question: "Do you think it is possible for people to intuitively and subconsciously sense what is going to happen? Or do you think what we perceive as hints before the fact are just coincidence?" I asked this because on this day (July 2nd) in 1937 was the last time anyone heard from Amelia Earhart before her disappearance over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.  Before her fateful circumnavigational flight of the globe, in the Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, she said of the trip: "I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system, and I hope this trip is it."

Josh, being the skeptic that he is, surprised me saying he believed it to be a little of both. "I'd like to think that you can grow that sense like a muscle. You just have to try to pick up as much detail as possible." But he did imply that we may read more into what people say after historic and/or tragic events. This is an unfortunate truth, I believe. "She may have just been saying she was retiring. She may have known more, who knows." That is certainly the easy and most accepted way to view it. I think that is why it'd have to be intuitively. Perhaps she perceived these feelings as the impression that it may be time to retire, but could the feelings be a misinterpretation of something more?

My interest in this type of phenomena dates back to many other subjects, one in particular being Jeff Buckley (a favorite musician of mine.) In the days before his accidental drowning in while swimming in Wolf River Harbor, a slack water channel of the Mississippi River located in Memphis, [according to David Browne's excellent biography Dream Brother] Jeff spent time getting in touch with friends and loved ones. The day before his drowning he phoned his former drummer and friend Eric Eidel who was living in New York City at 5am. "Hey... It's Jeff. I've been thinking about you and wanted to see if you were doing well. And to say I love you." Eidel, in Browne's book, explains that Jeff wanted to see that everything was good. Eidel said "It was quick, but it seemed like it had a point." As detailed in Browne's book, Eidel was hardly the only friend contacted in those days leading up to his death, it was simply one of many out-of-the-blue calls received. Most of which were to people Jeff had barely seen or spoken to in years. I recall reading this biography some six or seven years ago and being stricken with this passage. Could he have known? Or do I just wish for my idol to be something more than a mere man when he wadded into the water for a swim?

It is all very heavy to ponder upon. I have been a scaredy cat my entire life, I can't even watch cheesy scary films. I can't help but look over my shoulder as I type this. The goosebumps are numerous. I posed the question to some other peers and got varied responses. Most seemed to believe that deep within the recesses of our minds, hearts, and souls we can quantify things subconsciously that we would never be able to explain. One friend described it as a belief that certain people are better in touch with a sense of death, using JFK and Lincoln as examples.

This leaves me wondering how many would want to be in touch with such a thing?

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