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The Cottage and the Wilderness

It’s a Herculean task.

Sitting through a book or movie. Or writing either one.

These long works of art are not what I’m meant to write.

I find my talents are more suited for the essay. And no, it isn’t dead. If you think they’ve been replaced by those top 10 lists, then you’re on the hunt for clickbait and should suffer the consequences of trying to please everyone at the expense of prose.

I say Herculean because if you still have energy, you’re not wasting your time in front of a television. Sure, you’ve got a long ride and you’re a passenger in the 27th seat. That’s a reason to invest time in a movie, book, or binge sesh.

But if you’re going to live a full life and continue to ask “what’s next” and that’s your motto and you’re stickin’ to it, then what business do you have sitting down for longer than 30 minutes at a time?

Apparently that’s my attention span these days. After 30 minutes I require something new to spend my hard earned energy on. 

Why don’t I just watch sitcoms? Well I do. Huge fan. But I’m trying to get out the door. I’m trying to shake off the sluggishness of having to quarantine.

Like: “Do you hear me, America? I’m trying to get back to business as usual with you, but I was on the bench so long I put my feet up.”

I’m trying to work up the courage to go to work today. And I am trying to figure out just why it’s so goddamn hard right now.

Picture this:

Through this wilderness

You find a cottage

Then you rest.

You don’t have to hunt

Or even travel very far.

You have a routine.

Then, you run out of 

Convenient food,

It turns out someone

Else owns the cottage,

But you can stay there

At a price:

Everything you have.

You love the cottage, 

And everything before 

Was wilderness.

Now you must decide

How you will eat

If you will stay

The food is theirs

It isn’t yours anymore

Society is distant,

Hunger is iminent,

It is time to face 

The wilderness

And hunt.

But you have gained

Weight staying at the cottage.

It’s difficult to hunt now.

Wouldn’t it be nice

If someone else hunted?

Yes. But it’s. Just. You.

So you hunt.

You let the hunting

Change your attitude

Let it change 

Your physique

Let it change 

Your appetite

As you dine on

A hunters diet

Leaving behind 

The domesticated one

…Until the next resting point.

That poem is my path. If it resonates with you, then…

Hunt. Well.

A Little Shy of the Workhorse

Forget the past. This is the time: Now. The present.

I rely on social security benefits. I have the unpleasant psychotic, disabling disorder of schizophrenia. With equal parts of bipolar disorder to accompany it.

I’m supposed to rely on social security benefits.

I’m used to relying on the government when I don’t have the presence of mind to hold a job. Then the pandemic hit me. I had a panic attack on the floor of my package handling job when the pace of packages started to outweigh how much I could focus on their destinations one at a time. Never mind the next step of this position, the sorting into different state codes. 

On a usual day, it’s easy shit. I made $200-$300 a week on a part time basis. Now I’m sitting in the basement in my sisters house, barely able to afford food and cigarettes for the week. All my social security (apparently I receive the maximum benefit amount) has to go to rent. I’m screwed.

How did this happen?

I told you, I’m used to relying on the government when I’m going mental. I tried going back to work. I tried 3 times to get back in the swing of work. I completed two weeks at a bakery, then quit because everyone thought they were better at my job than I was. I got no slack for being new on the prep line. I then worked up the courage to go back to the local airport with a different company. Turned out they worked for the same contractor as a former employer and there was no way I was going to work in the same terminal hall as the company I willfully walked away from. My third attempt was thwarted by finance regulations when the potential employer, a finance agency, found out I owe on college loans I haven’t been able to afford paying on in years. I should have seen that one coming.

That’s 3 attempts to get back on the workhorse. It’s 3 strikes right? Right now, I’m out of motivation to return to work.

My resume says I’d be great in a warehouse as long as I don’t have to operate a forklift seeing as I still don’t drive. On that tangent, I’ve been trying to visit the local motor vehicle office to find out if my public transit record of riding without a ticket is still holding back my very first license. But if I can’t handle packages without panicking, how in the world am I going to handle traffic, acceleration dynamics, interstates, and god damned pop-up stop signs?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve turned into a scared little boy. Like the world has become more than I have been preparing for it to be. Like me and my girlfriend, the world, have been drifting apart lately. She thinks I’m a twerp and I think she’s actually gotten too fucking heavy.

Right now, I could afford breakfast for this week. Which, sure as you’re born, I’m gonna eat for dinner too. As for cigarettes, it’s a dirty expense. 

Right now, I can claim unemployment benefits on what I earned two jobs ago. I can collect Social Security every first of the month. But maybe cases like mine are the reason jobs haven’t been pounced on once pandemic additions expired. We do want jobs. But I don’t think my mind will let me back on the floor of a warehouse, or on a food prep line, or back at the airport any time soon. I have experience in nothing else. And don’t tell me I can write my way into the middle income class, because I’m going to give you a stiff finger.

My best scenario includes low debt from transit tickets so I can (finally) grab my driver’s license and start driving for the myriad delivery services and cab alternatives that are all the rage right now.

Or, you know, OR, the progressive opinion in Washington D.C. prevails concerning universal monetary safety nets (or whatever they’re called in congress). Who knows, maybe I’m not the only one heavily reliant on government assistance programs.

But if it is that I’m just a scared little boy, and I haven’t got the mojo to stand when the world sends waves to my surfboard, then I’m going to need some training in courage under fire before my walk echoes some sort of bravado the way it did when I was in school.

Aw man, now I miss SCHOOL!!

Be Well.

Something About Harry

Harry Potter is a scrawny boy with glasses and untidy hair. He’s from England. As a matter of fact it all takes place in England with one rare scene in America and a photograph from Egypt.

    In the beginning he is forced to live in a “cupboard under the stairs” and left out of the magical world. A world which he discovers he is wonderfully a part of at the age of eleven. An age at which he seems to have no skill or talent other than letting snakes loose at the zoo. Which in the end was a feat of magical skill.

    His aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon are a questionable folk. They put on airs of high class and society but treat their nephew like trash. Their son, Dudley, bullies and teases Harry nearly every chance he gets. But that’s where Harry was dropped off when he was around one year old and has been living there ever since.

Let’s discuss who left him there and why.

Albus Dumbledore is the Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Minerva McGonagall is the deputy headmistress and professor of Transfiguration at the school. 

An evil wizard by the name of Voldemort had just killed Harry’s parents in the name of a prophecy he had heard and truly meant to kill Harry. But the killing curse must not have been uttered properly. For instead of killing Harry, it split off a piece of Voldemort’s soul into Harry, who has been living with it all his life, unbeknownst to him (Harry). 

These secrets aren’t revealed until much later in the story, and you may wonder why I tell them so soon. Well I assume you’ve heard the story!

    Anyway, a boy with a dark connection, like holding on to the soul of a dark wizard in the shape of a lightning bolt on the forehead, can get very far it turns out in the world of magic.

    I ought to mention that it is my view that throughout the series of books and movies, our protagonist Harry Potter has a fight brewing within himself and it is between his parent’s blood, and his connection to the Dark Lord. 

    The way it mathematically or not turns out is that Harry gets everything that makes him… him… from his father, his eyes from his mother, but his very viscera belong to the darkness within. The nightmares that begin in his fifth year, the anger he’s had since he could remember, and his skill at curses, talking with snakes, nearly everything except quidditch comes from the split soul of Voldemort. Quidditch is a sport played on broomsticks. That’s enough about quidditch!

    Harry Potter is a complicated hero. And he is a hero because of something Dumbledore reminds him of in the very last book:

“It is not how you are alike, it is how you are different.”

    The difference is that Harry’s life was full of fond memories of friends, goodness, and honesty. While Voldemort’s life was full of deceit, cruel social withdrawal, theft, murder, and bigotry. Truth be told, Harry had plenty of opportunities to make a darker decision, and it didn’t take a large complicated dilemma to point it out. 

    Harry Potter led people, just like Voldemort led people. It took more prodding on Harry’s part. Voldemort needed a following so he could purge the magical world of non magical blood, which he saw as “impure” and to defeat those who would stop him from murdering Harry finally. 

What I think JK Rowling was intending with Harry was a simple unlikely hero type. He isn’t prepared for any challenge he faces until he has to prepare for his toughest challenge of all; the defeat of Voldemort- by death. Imagine having to kill 7 parts of a man’s soul before you get to kill him and free your world of his serial killer legacy thereby bringing peace to that world, oh and by the way, that world is the world of charms, curses, spells, and incantations, potions, and magical creatures. Imagine not knowing you were a magician by bloodline and that magic is real and that there are magicians who want you dead and it is your duty to kill them first. 

I imagine you would want to learn as much magic as you could so that you could be prepared for the many challenges and battles ahead of you. Is that what Harry wants? Let’s examine the boy’s motives shall we?

Harry Potter’s motives change over the years of the story told of him. In the first year, we know he just wants his secondary family  off his back. Especially Dudley. But his chances at normality pass him up at every opportunity. Harry Potter doesn’t get normality. At best he gets events of conscious euphoria: riding the back of a hippogriff, flying on his broomstick, realizing he has a godfather who cares for him, drinking potions of luck, winning school competitions, and the like.

But Harry’s normal is usually filled with a moodiness he doesn’t understand, or that he, at times, attributes to his current circumstances. Harry is a dark hero. He is atypical and marked by a dark curse that no one fully understands until the author reveals her secrets. Revelations on a schedule that leaves the reader completely amazed and excited to turn, if not pages, chapters in order to get to the jelly in the middle of the doughnut. The beauty is, there are so many doughnuts you could read for ages.

It is a marvelous feat of Rowling’s to have created such a marvel. Such a treat. I don’t mean that simply as a boy with a connection to uncommon magic, I mean that as a boy with a connection to dark, destructive skill. I also could have chosen my dark side. I know what I was born into, I could have faded away in to gangs, murder, grand theft, and drug abuse. 

As the sorting hat said when it placed Harry in his first year:

“You could be great, you know. It’s all here…no…?”

We could all be great big assholes. But it is not how we are like assholes, but how we are different that matters. That makes us heroes of our own world of magic.

That’s the lesson as I see it. 

Be Well

Chimps Against Mere Summation…

We are addicted to summing up things. Topics. Subjects. Objects. Songs. Movies. All fair game for our minds that want to be able to tell someone else about the work of art, yet once they sit down to create art of their own, what do they do? 

What we usually do is summarize our idea. Adding up all the pieces too soon so we have a name for the art. This was almost called “The Case for the Working Title”. That’s a lie. A lie with just cause that can be ignored easily for simplicity’s sake.

Further to my point actually. And the point is: summary brings the sum of the parts and since minds who aren’t known for mathematical prowess often settle for addition in their logic than what is truly necessary for art: subtraction, division, and patience.

True works of art are those that have been given the effort required to make the typical piece a masterpiece. Often that work requires the subtraction necessary to cut out the unnecessary, the division to create sections within the work and the patience to work on each section individually.

But to sum up the art in your own mind without leaving it vast in its presentation to your awareness is masterpiecide. Masterpiecide is not a word, but if you divide the words involved and subtract them from the main word in order to examine their necessity- that is, their purpose- within the word, you will understand the definition of big words like “masterpiecide” (murder of a masterpiece).

An idea comes to you in pieces. And sure, you’ll need to refer to it and describe it to others, but what I want you to do is not give these titles and limits to the art before it is finished. Name it at the end perhaps. Maybe the name is the whole reason you have an idea, that’s fine too. But if you can’t see past your title or summary into the work itself, then you have a problem that requires the order of operations (aka P.E.M.D.A.S.).

An idea can be very complicated or very simple based on how much of the elements of PEMDAS are contained in the very conception of it. You may not find parentheses or exponents in typical artistic idea conception, but if you want to create a larger project, you need Multiple sections which comes from Dividing the idea into Additional parts and Subtracting that which isn’t logically part of the idea as a subject. 

Chimpanzees have nothing to do with Volcanoes unless you connect the subjects or include the world both of them occupy.

As an idea, even chimpanzees divide into male and female, young and old, is it raining in their habitat or is a volcano erupting soon and no one has relocated them because they’re wild chimpanzees who are left to die under these tragic circumstances as by local law- which may be tribal and the chief’s son may be training the chimpanzee to perform human like activities, behaviors, and just when an emotional connection is getting stronger with the chimp, ash begins to fill the air.

    The Chimp Story above could be a hand painting, a computer graphic image, a written work of fiction, a screenplay, a comic book, part of me sees a children’s game there where candy erupts out of the volcano instead of “liquid hot magma” (technically: lava) as the children pretend to be chimpanzees. 

You could even build the volcano with the children out of couch pillows, papier-mache, or cardboard, and have them draw chimp faces on paper, cut out the faces and eyes, stick a hole punch in two sides, attach yarn and you’ve got chimps and a volcano. All you need is candy, a timer, and someone’s willing to throw candy out of a pile of pillows.

All that from using the order of operations on an idea and leaving the idea vast enough to not stick a name on it. Just a working title. “The Chimp Story” isn’t a real name, it’s a working title used to refer to the idea after it’s been… operated on.

So don’t sum up the idea too soon. Let it breathe. Let it come to you in pieces. Relax, some people don’t even have ideas. Be grateful. You may want to file the pieces all under a name, but that’s how you know you have an idea. All I’m saying is, you might have many, even if it comes to you as one.

Be Well

Fifty Bucks

The night is a dark place to be. But for three individuals, it was just what they needed, or so it seemed…

    Lexi was a beautiful blonde who went by the nickname Sonya Blade. Tonight she had a bit of a problem. A man tried to steal her purse. A man she knew somehow. She figured she must have dated him at some point, he was rugged and a bit too focused on the purse.

    He would have gotten away with it. He won the purse in the struggle. After which Lexi ran into the bookstore to phone someone, and the man began searching the purse by streetlight.

    That was when a traveler who had seen the struggle stopped his vehicle and started a fight with the thief. But the traveler was also losing the struggle. Looking up from the ground, he saw the thief get distracted by something in the window. The thief blushed and an evil smile flashed over his face.

    The traveler seized his chance and gave the thief the upper cut of the century. Then he turned to see what had distracted the man, and saw Lexi buttoning back up the navy blue striped white cardigan hoodie under her jean vest.

    Wishing he had seen the distraction himself, he gathered up the things in her purse still lying in disarray on the ground. Lexi came out to help him. He handed her the half full purse. That was when the brown paper bag fell out. 

    Stacks of bills in rubber bands were just visible as the bag landed like a cat between the two. 

    “Did you…?” The traveler said.

    “Did I what?” Lexi said. Picking up the paper bag and putting it back where it was. Then she paused and reached into it. “Here’s fifty bucks. Thank you.”

    “Fifty bucks?”

Dreams, right?

Be Well.

Governor Abbott is Going to be Fine

I wish I could just say “Hoping for a speedy recovery” but this isn’t one of those cases.

I’m hoping this governor of Texas gets a chest full of this stuff. Mostly because he’s been downplaying the negative effects of COVID-19 and restricting mask mandates in his state on the local level.

He’s even been in court on the mask mandate issue trying to convince the world that he, as governor, has the authority to counter “disaster response measures”. 

But the truth is, Governor Greg Abbott is going to survive this. He’s going to be given expert medical attention beyond the norm, just like former President Trump, the Downplayer in Chief, who didn’t have Abbott’s chances yet still got monoclonal antibodies and got to return to work within a few days.

Abbott, Governor of Texas, had been vaccinated before he tested positive for COVID-19 which automatically gives him a much bigger head start on recovery. The virus probably won’t land him in line for a ventilator, he probably won’t become bedridden with tubes crawling out of his body while his lungs fail and fail and fail, he probably will recover quickly, perhaps so quick that he won’t take the virus seriously enough.

That’s the real problem here. The antagonists to the nation’s progress and defeat of this virus never get the full list of symptoms possible and therefore never see the light. They are robbed of the first-hand experience that people like Tom Hanks- which is to say people with some public sway or at least with a possible public platform useful in a pandemic- went through in late 2020 where he and his wife came down with the virus before vaccines and were just hoping that they came through it alright.

Hanks is a protagonist of the nation’s progress against the virus. Not a hero, but a supporting character. Of course, the true heroes are on the frontlines in hospitals and emergency vehicles, treating the sick, testing the concerned, and vaccinating the willing.

The point is: The Governor from Texas is a COVID villain. Causing cases and deaths due to the misuse of his platform during this pandemic. It only serves him right that he tested positive for the virus at some point. If you don’t protect yourself, you leave yourself exposed.

This is also a reminder that vaccinated or not you can still get the virus. So it is important to wear a mask in settings the virus may be as well. It’s probably safe to just travel with a mask in your pocket just in case. And of course, to wear one where it is mandated, because there is a high probability that the virus can be transmitted easily in that area.

Get vaccinated.

Wear a mask.

Be Well.

The Taliban Steals The Show

Overwhelmed by the news of the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, I am urged to express my thoughts.

It has been a tough year, and there are many stories worth talking about. None more so than the events arising out of Afghanistan.

As of now, the leader of the Taliban sits in the capitol of Afghanistan, Kabul, in the government offices built for more legitimate officials. Since they have taken the land, they have inherited a problem.

What will they do next?

The answer to that question is no one knows.

Everyone is waiting for the evacuation of refugees, migrants, and US allies from the region while we all hold our breath hoping there are less casualties from the effort.

Also holding their breath are the population of Afghan women who choose or are forced to stay behind in the region and will be forced to observe the “guidelines of Islam”. Guidelines that have historically been challenging for their livelihoods, lifestyles, education, their bodies, and their very lives.

President Biden is taking massive heat from journalists, former and current members of the military for the decision he made that launched this strain on Afghanistan. The decision to pull American troops from the nation and to declare America’s longest war: over.

The war has not been successful. If it were, the Afghan government would have held off the Taliban from systematically and swiftly overtaking their land, and Afghan leadership would still be at the desk instead of fleeing at the first glimpse of Taliban forces at the gates of Kabul.

In terms of intention, the story of “success” is a different tone. The US assassinated Osama bin Laden who was responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on US soil, and put a stop to Al Qaeda. According to his remarks on the situation in Afghanistan on August 16th 2021, these two historical actions were carried out 10 years ago. What has been taking place in the region has since been nation building- not what the US had put boots on the ground for.

In that sense, it is my view that the President is justified in his decision to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan.

There was intelligence that the Taliban sought Afghanistan, but most were betting on the Afghan government to protect itself. In that mission they have failed miserably.

It is the main reason people are feeling as if the entire nation building mission (not the intention) was a failure. So those who entered the country of Afghanistan in uniform between the years of 2011 and 2021 and either lost friends, family, fellow soldiers, and witnessed other life changing horrors are feeling a punch in the gut right now. As if the past ten years was all a waste.

But that isn’t the President’s fault. The responsibility of riding a bike once the training wheels are off falls on the person riding the bike. Not the person who lent them training wheels and took them off TEN YEARS LATER. That’s long enough to learn how to ride a bike. And far long enough to learn the ways of war enough to defend yourself against an army of terrorists. 

Some say it was due to the lack of an Afghan Air Force. Maybe. That’s a strategic angle I don’t have the pleasure of knowing the accuracy that statement may or may not contain.

I know it’s gobbled up hours of news television. And there are other pressing matters. Like Haiti, vaccinations in schools, vaccine mandates, the looming drop in unemployment benefits, the toll of the virus itself, the storms off the eastern US coast, and a whole host of other issues that deserve attention as well.

I’ll tell you one thing I don’t hear enough of on this issue. Blaming the Taliban themselves for how fast they took over Afghanistan. It’s obvious who’s been training harder over the past couple of decades.

Be Well.

Dude, What is Omni?

You’ve gotta be some sort of asshole. 

I don’t want to hear how you’re Omni this and Omni that.

Dude, what is Omni?

If you were All knowing, then you knew my sister wouldn’t get the vaccine.

You knew that she would be hospitalized and somehow expect to leave within a day.

You knew how this would affect me.

Dude, what is Omni?

If you were All good, then would this virus have been unleashed on the world? 

Are we just Sodom & Gomorrah to you, motherfucker??

You don’t play with us.

If we are made in your image then you gave us all that shit.

What is Omni?

Dude, WE are Omni. 

We are the humans who see everything you were supposed to see but couldn’t stop from happening in all your fucked up sense of “Grace”.

In the words of Costello’s henchman Delahunt from ‘The Departed’- “so where the fuck werre ya?”

Where the fuck werre ya? In your Omnipresence to stop the woman who prayed the most in this family from…

She’s still alive. I have hope. But my prayers are small and simple:

“Be where you’re supposed to be.”

“Be here now, Jesus.”

“Where are you, my God?”

But you should recognize the flaws in my prayers are not the humility of your servants, but the pleads for mercy from those who have relied on you before and now believe that there is no sense in you.

But something must save my sister.

If it does, it will be science.

There is not a prayer in smoldering hot hell for you anymore.

Death is the end.

(How could you let death stick around too. If I were God, death would have been outdated by some point.)

Even science only comes so far…

I love my sister.

Be Well.

Kitten Back and Chillin

While everyone’s photos and memes out there are sooner or later to produce pictures of cute cats and adorable little kittens, we have a cat problem here in these Colorado suburbs.

Your cat video is likely to include a young kitten chasing a ball of yarn or sleeping next to your two year old. 

My cat video would be the last time I saw a black cat stare at me then pretend to walk away just before turning directly opposite from me and taking a shit in our yard.

There are three well known stray cats in these parts. One is a black female, known for her heat-wail. The other black cat is a male, known for sleeping under our trampoline and not giving enough of a fuck. The last well known stray around here is an expectantly dirty and heavily furred ginger cat. 

I’ve affectionately or not given them names.

“Bitch, Shut Up” can be a name if you give it a chance. You have to mean it and repeat it. 

I worry about that cat. She has no luck in her love life. I know very little about cat heat, but I suppose that’s how it goes; the less you’re in heat, the less everyone has to hear about it! Well the longer you suffer heat and you’re a cat who has to wail to the entire surrounding area that there’s available cat tail… if you only follow the sound of the screams I would make if I was dying… like “Bitch, Shut Up”.

That’s why I’ve named the cat “Bitch, Shut Up” instead of taking her to some animal shelter to be put down. Come to think of it, I’ve only seen the Bitch once!

“Yard-Shitter” needs to be put the fuck down. That one will make me call pest control in the long run. I think he was roaming with some fluffy haired white cat two nights ago “so he think he a player.” Which could also be his name. But it was so offensive the way he turned his back to me and shat in my fucking yard. It was a test! That mother fucker!

I was so sick that day I couldn’t effectively chase him out of the yard, then the asshole showed up in the backyard this morning, I stood up to face him and he struts under the deck.

That’s some masculine ass cat. Like, king of the hill, alpha male psychology. We have to get his shit out of our fucking yard! Am I obsessing? Fuck you Yard-Shitter!

“Hermione’s Cat”. I almost miss this cat, we haven’t seen it around in a while, it was here when I first moved in. Kept scaring my little sister who thought it was a fox.

I understand, you can’t be too trustful of cats who are led to the streets. I went to visit my grandmother one day and I hadn’t found out that she’d passed yet, but there was a cat sitting on her barbecue grill like nobody was concerned. I rang and rang on the doorbell but no answer. I thought she was just ignoring me again. 

I walk back the way I came a few paces, and there was the cat still sitting there with it’s leg raised, about to lick itself to full exposure.

Ps. Hermione Granger did have a cat. It’s name was Crookshanks. Mrs. Granger is a very complicated “Harry Potter” character.

Be Well

A Shit I Took

I sat down, and right away- like the first firecracker on the 4th of July, but I was waiting for the second splash. The diver with nerves who can never breach the surface quietly enough.

That’s when I spread my cheeks over the toilet seat. We’ll get some goddamn splash now.

Why do people say they’re dropping kids off at a pool during this task?

Some parents! They’ll never see those kids again!

They say they’re praying to the porcelain god, but if he’s swallowing the kids you brought to the pool, what does that make him?

A porcelain… monster.

But back to the splashes. 

You know, you never want your ass to become a bidet. I didn’t know how to spell that until right now. Thanks to Google, I didn’t say “you never want your ass to become a buddy”.

Here’s my point with the splashes and it’s just this: they let you know when the shit is over. All they have to do is disappear.

I’m not gonna hang out on some white monster’s mouth if I’m not hearing any splash!

Be Well!