Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Invisible Rebel

The hardest thing about writing a serious blog is getting started. I usually go for funny, and for me, funny normally comes pretty easy. Serious is difficult. I have all sorts of thoughts I think make sense, but trying to organize them in a coherent blog is something else entirely. I said a while back I wasn't going to write stuff like this, but for the last few days this has been bouncing around my head, and I've sort of been involved in some mental mastication with it (ooohhh...that sounded naughty). So I figured, what the hell, let's write it down, put it out there and be done with it. So I'm going to reach down the throat of my soul, grab a handful of viscera, and see what I can dredge up (by the way, I love words, especially ones that sound EXACTLY like what they mean. 'Viscera' is a great example. So is 'screed'. Those are two of my favorites at the moment, but there are many others, like, well, mastication for example...but I digress). So here we go...

You ever wonder who you are? I have. I did. And I do. I have come to accept that I have up until very recently defined myself as "anti". I had opinions about everything, and I always defined myself as "not that". More specifically, if I perceived something to be too popular with the masses, too common, maybe even too human, I would internally feel myself ramping up to rebel against it. That's right...rebel. There's the obvious rebel...the guy/gal with the tats, the sneer, the 'fuck you' attitude, the fights, the drugs/alcohol, the...whatever. It's all exterior for all to see. Then there's me. Normal looking (by most societal standards), a home owner, a guy who is concerned about his lawn, pays his bills, takes care of his family, and works like a dog. The middle class looking guy you encounter every day...on the exterior. Yet, when people get to know me, I usually get the same reaction, "Holy are MUCH DIFFERENT than you seem." That's me. Anyway, I've rebelled against everything: popular music, how people groom themselves (ask me about a debate I had about French tipped pedicures), how people drive, what people eat, what they do for entertainment, relationships, sexuality, and on and on and on. I had opinions, strong opinions, on all of it. It was how I defined myself, but why? All it usually did was cause argument after argument. The thing is, being "anti" is nothing. It's not a state of's essentially a formless state of nothing. But it's safe. When you choose to 'be' something, you take risk, and you open yourself up to ridicule and rejection. I've played it safe for a long time, because I didn't know any different.

I grew up in a family where expression was non-existent. It wasn't safe. To express your uniqueness was to open Pandora's box for some pretty harsh derision (another great word). My dad, even though always drunk, was a master at it. He was wicked smart, funny, and fucking cruel. If you presented something of yourself that brought attention, something unique about yourself, it was open season (me coming home with a pierced ear at nineteen years old. My dad, although caught off guard, did not miss a beat. After a nanosecond pause, his comment: "Nice. You wearing a maxi-pad too?" Like I said, funny...and cruel). In a house like this you learn to lock yourself down both spiritually and expressively, and, believe it or not, you develop a sense of humor. It was the only thing my dad respected, and if you could come up with a quick and witty retort to one of his quips, he would laugh and go away. So you become light on your feet...mentally agile. And stunted. And anxious. And withdrawn. And "anti". If you're nothing, then maybe you'll be ok.

As I've thought about this, I've also come to realize this is not actually true, even though I've lived it. I do know who I am, it has always been there, I've just kept it locked down, down, down where I couldn't see it, but to those who have known me well, they could see it. I've been talking to people lately, and there has been some common themes I'm beginning to accept as to who I am:

-I'm smart. I've always hungered for knowledge. I find physics interesting. I like words. Space and the cosmos FASCINATES me. I like arcane (another great word) knowledge. I will have just met you and talk for half an hour about ancient Assyria because I actually WANT TO KNOW, and you'll be surprised that I already know something about it and the Aramaic language. I will probably win at Trivial Pursuit, and I'm a motherfucker at Scrabble.

-I'm funny. I can make most people laugh (a nice benefit to a fucked up childhood learned defense mechanism), and I love to laugh. If you can make me laugh, I will walk through fire for you. I see humor, admittedly sometimes foul, in EVERYTHING. There's nothing I can't make a joke out of: Mexican radio stations, how Apple products are wrapped, clogged toilets, frustrations with dumbasses in the checkout line, and on and on and on. Take me to a party, get some drinks in me, and set me loose.

-I'm charming (another defense mechanism. Please like me!). There's not a social situation you can put me into, no matter how foreign, that I can't mingle, talk, and mingle and talk, WELL (although there is a good chance I'm anxious as I do it, but you'll never see it). Big business Christmas party? No problem. Rednecks wanting to talk trucks at the water slides? You got it. Heavy metal concert? Of course. A roomful of computer people I have never met and I'm there alone? I'll work the room. A bunch of bros talking MMA? I'll profess my admiration for Frank Mir. Racing? Open wheel or stock car? A room full of women? I'll flirt and make them feel pretty. A roomful of guys? I'll have them talking football and tell fart jokes. Meet your mom and dad? They'll LOVE ME. They always do.

-I'm sensitive. I used to fight this, because I thought it was a sign of weakness. But that's wrong. Allowing yourself to feel is the bravest thing a person can do. To shut down and not feel is cowardly. I think I've been guilty of being an emotional coward in the past...but no more.

-I can be cruel to the ones I love. I'm smart, I'm funny, and I'm fucking OBSERVANT. Just like good old dad. Guess the apple doesn't always fall too far from the tree, huh? Whenever I'm hurt or emotionally fearful, which is only possible from the ones that mean the most to me, I will deconstruct you bit by bit for fear if I don't, I will cease to exist...and better you than me. I have a laser beam of focus, and I can burn right through you. I have done some incredibly hurtful things to people who meant the most to me and didn't deserve it, and I have to live with that shame. Upside, if you want to call it that, I see it now for what it is and as the fear ebbs, and I have a better sense of self, the lashing out just keeps fading...

-I'm intense. See above. It can also be a good thing because when I'm motivated by a noble goal, or even love, I'm tireless in my devotion to it. However, I have been told this can be hard to handle for some folks.

-I'm actually a nice guy. I used to think that was a personality flaw. Now I realize that makes me very rare indeed.

-I can be anxious. See cruelty...

-I'm loyal. I used to think loyal was boring. No, it's of the highest value.

-I'm successful. I have all the trappings to indicate as such.

-I'm caring.

-I'm artsy. Obscure music, fiction, and art is another thing of mine. It just happens to bore others on occasion.

-I'm complex. I used to think I was the simplest guy in the world. Well, apparently, that was me being delusional. I have now been told time and again I am occasionally unpredictable, tough to figure out, have a brain going a million miles an hour in a million different directions, and often apply complex solutions to simple problems. I will lay out concepts that seem very basic and linear to me that leave others scratching their heads, and this can lead to frustration for both parties.

Actually, there's a lot more, but I used to think of these things as commonplace characteristics inherent to any human being. I'm beginning to learn that was just my reflexive self deprication kicking in (don't want to seem boastful, I may not be liked otherwise), and I never really embraced it for the uniqueness that was me. Folks would praise me for some of these things, and I always dismissed their nice words, because I wanted to hear something different. Remember, I'm anti, therefore those things could not be true. Funny thing though, you hurt folks by not accepting their kind words. Your act of ego control really only damages others, who knew? And then, because they can only take so much rejection, the kind words stop, and your anti is blissfully fulfilled. It's the most cosmically fucked up Catch-22 ever (told you I was smart...if a little dysfunctional), but I'm ready to be done with it. A Catch-22 has no answer, and you will go insane looking for it. But what you can do is take that big old bag of burden, set it down, appreciate the lessons you've learned from it, and walk away....

(I used to rebel against white tennis shoes. Check out my new faves...although I had to go online to find a pair that was different and hard to find. Hey, some things change slower than others:)


Monday, February 23, 2009

Things You Don't Want To Hear At 11:45 PM

Things You Don't Want To Hear At 11:45 PM

OK, I had to leave for the Bay Area early this really early, and since I 'm going to be out of town for a few days, I needed to pack and get all my stuff together for the week. Naturally, because I am a procrastinator, I put it off as long as possible. Plus, I went to a friends house to watch some of the Oscars, and then went for a walk when I got back to my home (side note on the walk: there was a very light rain going on as I walked, not enough to get you wet, but enough to cause little droplets to form on your jacket. Anyways, the sensation of cool water droplets on your face as you walk was, well, nice. Very grounding. It just lets you know you're still blended with you're an element within the elements. I don't know if that makes sense, but that's the best I can explain it.  No, I'm not high right now by the way...). By the time I finished my walk I still had to clean the kitchen, do some laundry, and clean up the living room. At this point, it's now 11:00 PM, and I have to be up at 4:15 AM. I start packing and take a shower, and am now ready to contemplate going to bed. It's now about 11:45 PM.

I fire up my new laptop and climb in bed. I have never known the joy of watching TV on your laptop in bed, but thanks to Hulu, I am now watching the Conan O'Brien finale from New York that I missed on Friday as I lay in my incredibly comfortable bed. I'm thinking to myself that at this moment, life ain't so bad. I have to admit, technology can be pretty damn cool. And so, just when I think my evening, although going to cost me a short night's sleep, is going to end on a high note, I see a light come from under my bedroom door.

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, my 11 yr. old and 13 yr. old daughters were still up. On a school night. What the hell. I get out of bed to go ask them that very question. I walk into their bathroom as they're brushing their teeth and state, "What the hell???" My daughters calmly explain to me that they got caught up playing James Bond on their Wii. They look at me with big, brown unblinking eyes as if this makes perfect sense even though it's a school night. I momentarily consider calling my mother to ask her if mild retardation runs in the family. But, I have seen my girls test scores and grades which consistently puts them in the top 5% of their age group. I decide against making the call. My 13 yr. old then pipes up with, "Oh, and dad, I have some home work I forgot about." I look at her. "Aaaaand, the toilet's clogged." When I ask her again, why, at 11:45 at night we're even having this conversation, I get the big, brown, unblinking eye treatment again. I reconsider making the call. Hmmmm...maybe Down's Syndrome might explain it?

I pop the toilet lid and look inside afraid at what I was going to see, and, believe it or not, I was surprised. It wasn't nasty. In fact, it was almost kind of...well, it wasn't nasty. Inside the toilet was what looked like a giant, white, cheerleader's pom-pom. This pom-pom, from what I could tell, had sucked up every bit of water in the bowl. All of it. The bowl was just a perfect mound of snowy whiteness inside. A giant toilet paper sponge. I look at my daughters and ask, again, "What the hell????" Again, big, brown, unblinking stare. Hmmm...maybe not Downs...wonder if they ate lead paint chips when they were babies?

Long story short, after some mild struggles with splashing water and bits of toilet paper slooshing (my word) over the side of the bowl, I get the toilet unclogged and send them off to bed. But I'm left with this very fundamental truth: If you're going to tell somebody the toilet is clogged, do NOT wait until 11:45 at night. It's a Conan killing buzzkill.

The girls with the big, brown ublinking Eyes...and some mental function issues:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Somehow A Rainy Sunday Just Seems Appropriate

I had "The Talk" today, and as you can imagine it was less than fun. And it's raining, which, really, just seems...perfect. So, with that little nugget spiritual fun-ness out of the way, I can go on to other things like maybe slamming my hand in a car door or, if I really feel up to it, go around my house kicking heavy table legs (my dining table works really well) with my bare feet. So many options...

Lyrics rarely speak to me but I've been listening to this song over and over. I don't normally share this stuff, but I was hoping maybe if I put it out there maybe it helps. Somebody once told me that. We'll see. Anyway, here it is:

Changing Man by Paul Weller-

Is happiness real?
Or am I so jaded
I can't see or feel - like a man been tainted
Numbed by the effect - aware of the muse
Too in touch with myself - I light the fuse

I'm the changingman - built on shifting sands
I'm the changingman - waiting for the bang-
As I light a bitter fuse

Time is on loan - only ours to borrow
What I can't be today - I can be tomorrow

And the more I see - the more I know
The more I know - the less I understand. 

I'm the changingman - built on shifting sands
I'm the changingman - waiting for the bang-
To light a bitter fuse

It's a bigger part -
When our instincts act
A shot in the dark - 
A movement in black 

And the more I see - the more I know
The more I know - the less I understand.

I'm the changingman - built on shifting sands
(I don't have a plan)
I'm the changingman - waiting for the bang-
To light a bitter fuse

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hugh Hefner Is Ruining Fast Food Drinking Straws

OK, not really, but I'm going to feature him, well, his dick anyways, prominently in my rather off color analogy.

As part of my never ending quest to prove there isn’t ANYTHING I can’t have an issue with, I am now going to bitch about fast food drinking straws. More specifically, I am going to bitch about how they’re packaged. But first, a little history…

Remember how back in the day a plastic straw was a robust thing, not easily mutilated, and if a person had some sort of oral fixation, they could chew on it for hours. Additionally, they were packaged in their wrapper kind of loosely, and you could bang one end on the counter thus popping the other end out of the paper wrapper…and then blow into the open end and launch a paper missile into the face at the person sitting across from you (yes, there’s more penis allusions on the way..stay with me…). It was, simply put, good times. Now, let’s fast forward to today, shall we?

The straw of today is a sad little thing. If you were to chew on it, it falls apart. You accidentally bend it, it splits and breaks thus making suction (he heh...I said "suction") impossible. And if you bang it too hard, it folds in half. That’s right, the modern drinking straw is just like Hugh Hefner’s dick. Once proud and mighty…but now weak, bendy and ineffectual. But I digress…my real complaint is the wrapper.

The paper wrapper seems to be made from leftover material from the ass gasket manufacturers of America. It’s that super thin shit that if it gets a drop of moisture on it, it instantaneously begins to disintegrate. Dreaming of ripping off the paper with your teeth? Well, go for it my friend…but only if you like the feeling of a giant spit wad stuck to your front teeth. Splash a little soda on it, and it adheres to the straw like it was painted on, as if the little spit wads that will form if you don’t get it all off before you put it in your soda will somehow add to the drinking experience. Um…it doesn’t by the way. But the most infuriating thing? It’s how goddamn tight that wrapper is ON THE STRAW.

The wrapper on the straw now is like a fucking condom, except why are we trying to protect our soda from the straw (or vice versa). I’m reasonably sure neither has the clap or herpes (however, that Coke looked kind of slutty! Ha! Get it? It was a “Coke whore”! hahaha…No? Fine. Anyways…). Even if you’re willing to deal with the bits of ass gasket in your teeth (forget just ripping it off the end with your fingers…they took out all the slack…ain’t gonna happen) and you magically get that one end open, there is no chance of a vigorous missile launch (Again, another Hef’s dick analogy. Thank you). You can blow it like you’re trying to land an acting job, but you’re just wasting your time, it ain’t coming off. It’s just too tight. My question is this: Why?

Why did they change the wrapper? Did the fun police come by and see much too much mirth and merriment was being had by 11 yr. olds with their straws in burger restaurants? Did the woman sue McDonald’s for an eye injury shortly after her cooch healed from her hot coffee drive through spillage incident (or was that why she spilled her coffee? Paper missile right in the old orbital)? Or is there a giant conspiracy from the ass gasket manufacturers of America to pawn off their product on an unsuspecting populace?

To tell you the truth, I truly do not know…other than this is yet another sign of the coming Apocalypse, and I plan to have ring side seats to watch it as the world continues to fall apart…albeit with bits of ass gasket in my teeth (hey man, gotta have a soda when watching the Apocalypse ringside, right?).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My first (old) blog...huzzah

So, I’ve been trying to write this blog for a few hours now. I ate some tacos, did some texting, and took a nap (unplanned….was very tired) on my sister’s sofa. Now I’m sitting on the same sofa with her laptop and attempting to write this, watching tv (first it was a show about this lost Caucasian tribe they found in ancient China nobody knew existed, and now Dave and Conan), having a conversation with my sister, and IM’ing various people. Normally, I make fun of this kind of over-connected stimulation, and I don’t know if I could do it every day, but right now…yeah…it’s kind of fun. It’s my second admitted act of hypocrisy today. What can I say? I’m on a roll.

Anyways, as I was on my Sisyphean commute to the Bay Area at an ungodly hour of the morning, I heard a radio station ad for 7-11 (or some place like it) for their newest breakfast creation: the taquito omelet. Wow. Really? Doesn’t that seem a bit of a stretch? I like omelets, I like taquitos…but this just seems like a bad move. I mean, they’re clearly running out of ideas. I will eat almost any breakfast food imaginable, but I do have my limits (side bar: somebody accused me of gorging on pastries and donuts for breakfast on a daily basis, and I just want to say this is patently untrue. Then again, while this person can be an enigmatic story teller, they can get carried away and prone to, well, let’s just say exaggeration, and I’m sure the next time they relate this story I will have graduated from pastries to inhaling five pound bags of granulated sugar for a morning pick me up, and then eventually the story will evolve to me walking around with a high fructose corn syrup bottle hanging from an IV that’s running to a direct line right into my carotid artery 24-7. Anyway, yes, I do like the occasional bear claw…and while mainlining a kilo of C&H’s finest has some appeal, I’m not there yet). It just sounds…desperate. What next? The donut guacamole burger? The biscuit and gravy spaghetti plate? The hot wings and pancakes? Wait…we do have chicken and waffles, but that’s pretty much for when you’re really drunk and it’s three in the morning. But I digress…it just seems like we’re such an ADD nation that we have to keep creating new and, well, certainly interesting, food items to keep people coming in to our ‘artificially flavored, instantaneously prepared, seven thousand year shelf life processed food’ delivery kiosks (also known as Johnny Quick, AM-PM, and 7-11). These places need to calm down and pare it back to what they do best: low grade gasoline, 148 oz. oil drum sized sodas, thirty six flavors of corn nuts, and racks and racks of chocolate donettes. If you’re going to go slumming for breakfast, let’s do it right (make mine a bbq corn nuts, a Coke, and maybe instead of the donettes, a berry pie. I’m feeling reckless…wait, you got one of those five pound bags of sugar laying around…..or maybe some corn syrup?).

As I continued my drive I tried to make a call. No signal. This is too perfect because I was going through the Livermore area, i.e. some of the most technologically advanced real estate in the WORLD…and I cannot …get…a cell signal. Am I the only one who sees the, oh, I dunno, the chocolate donettey deliciousness of the irony here? It’s not like I was driving through Kabul for god’s sake!!!! Worlds most advanced nuclear weapons systems being developed over there, plasma/fusion electrical research going on over there (read it in Discovery Magazine), Oracle compound over there…and not a low brow cell signal in sight. Who knows…maybe I’m just too easily amused by the little things…like multi-billion dollar tech firms being located in a valley of spotty communications signals.

OK, so I put my phone down and start scribbling a list (my first act of hypocrisy today) of shit that annoys me as I drive so I can write about it later (have to…I have no short term memory…at…um…all….and…uh…what are we talking about again?). Guess who makes the list? The dickhead in front of me, and here’s why. We’re in the number one (fast) lane and he’s tearing it up at 64 miles per hour. OH. MY. GOD. KILL ME NOW. LET’S GO MOTHERFUCKER!!! Naturally, traffic is flying by to my right and I can’t change lanes because the self centered pricks have apparently never seen a turn signal before and have mistakenly identified my desire to change lanes as an opportunity to have a high speed collision should I dare to actually make good on my lane change. So I’m stuck. What makes it worse is this guy in front of me is driving a big old high powered SUV. And not just any SUV…a…wait for it…Porsche Cayenne. This guy went out and dropped a pile of extra ducats to have a “high performance” vehicle masquerading as a station wagon, and he refuses to take it over 64 miles per hour. And it gets better: it was the Cayenne S. The S version is what you get when you ask the sales person “Sure, it’s a Porsche…but have you got anything with some actual BALLS?” And yet, this guy had…none (balls that is). We got to a downhill run and there was no traffic ahead of him, and he…SLOWS DOWN. Tippy tap on the break pedal. Un-be-liev-able. Clearly Porsche needs to run some sort of psychological profile on their potential customers before they consider selling them a vehicle. “I’m sorry sir…but you’re just not the type of manic, coked up, self centered, poor decision making asshole we need to have in our vehicles to truly drive them properly. Should you go through another three divorces and start dating a stripper twenty years your junior with an out of control meth and ecstasy addiction, give us a call as you phone in your Viagra and heart medication refill…then we’ll talk”.OK, I have GOT to get off of this sofa…

Monday, February 16, 2009

Perfect Tool

OK, so there’s this band called A Perfect Circle. Not overly familiar with this band, but they do get an award for MOST REDUNDANT BAND NAME EVER. All circles, by their very construct, are PERFECT. That’s why they’re called CIRCLES. Calling something a perfect circle is like calling something “bright brilliance”. Uh…exactly. Anyways, a ‘less than perfect circle’ is called an oval, or, if REALLY less than perfect, a square or a triangle, etc. They’re all closed shapes with interiors and exteriors. It’s only the equidistance from the center, its PERFECTION, that makes a circle a circle. Once it ceases to be perfect, it ceases to be a circle. Makes me wonder how well people think these things through, ‘ya know?