As Winter decides to entrench itself once again, I’ve tried desperately to seek shelter from a hostile planet. My choice of reading material may not be the best, but The Jungle is a fresh book for which I gnoshed upon this afternoon. It did concern me that the happenings of a turn of the 20th century meat packing plant did not upset my stomach, as I’m sure was intended, but at least I can identify the problems discussed throughout. This book would be a poor read for those with a faint heart.
At least I have good news from others. A good friend, a good man, of whom I’ve known for almost 20 years finally has his place among on the organ recipient list. He was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and ever since age 6 has experienced decreasing lung capacity. He will now await a double lung transplant that will extend his life considerably. He and his wife are pleased and hopeful. I donated my snow blower money to help cover the living expenses that won’t be assured by the insurance company. It’s for the better.
Speaking with my mother, she wasn’t surprised. What she said wasn’t meant to be damning, but my Devil’s workshop of a mind couldn’t resist. She went on to say, “Nate, you have a big heart. You take care of your friends. Had you not been hurt so much, you’d be happy with life.” The taste went sour in my mouth as the brain gleefully relived moments I wish not to remember. Only a runaway mind could truly relish injuring its owner.
Hemingway, whether flippant or serious, once answered the question “what is the best early training for a writer” with “an unhappy childhood.” That’s probably how a lot of writers come to be. I can remember furiously trying to scribble words on sheets of paper as a child. There wasn’t much in the way of encouragement in the house, but then again, I did keep a lot to myself. The efforts often fizzled in a whirlwind of other people’s concerns. Everyone has their problems, or so it is explained. I’ve tried long and hard to abide by it, and stay out of the world’s way.
Why I write? I cannot say. People seem to enjoy it, even if my head aches in confusion and tumult in the process of making more. What have I got to lose? I’m single. It looks like that’s my path. Work is important, but what should I be at the end of the day? Maybe someday I can unclench my jaw and go with the wind. Maybe not. At least there’s something around to note I once existed.
I happened to find this article from The Wire in my Facebook feed yesterday morning. The condensed version is Amtrak providing “residencies” to “writers” for “free.” As I’m lead to believe “free” is meant to be they don’t have a price tag yet, “writers” are to be determined by Amtrak, and “residencies” suggest spending a night in a sleeper car. What I gather is they’re still in the stages of determining if this will work out for them.
It all started when a New York City writer made a suggestion that found its way to the right people. Go figure. Once the test run was offered to a colleague of said writer, it made itself into print. Many involved in the writing community have expressed interest in the project for its “creative atmosphere.” I can agree. This combines two of my favorite activities: being in motion and writing stuff down on paper. I write on paper because I like to doodle, and edit, and tap my pencil on the pad and stick it behind my ears.
It made my heart ache for about two hours with flare ups each time I edited this entry.
Why would such a fun idea be so painful?
Granted it’s Amtrak, with its memories of crashes and other problems.
…but so what?
Airlines have their risks. Why the Hell does it hurt so much?
For the business conscious, it’s a matter of supply and demand. I could see the demand flying into outer space. The supply, on the other hand, would stay at a precious few. I did write my reflections on the amount of writers in this world, and how much of a mind trip it is. What would make me so special? Such things are declared to be a case-by-case basis. I’m never good at case-by-case basis. I’ve known this since I was little.
I find myself often imagining the worst and hoping for the best even when history has given me many examples of outcome. I suppose I could work it around my job, but why even go that far? These things aren’t meant for me. The only time I get anywhere is by having a multitude concrete achievements to precede me. There isn’t anything magical about me.
Society is fickle, very fickle. Winning its favor was never my strong suit.
I don’t like causing too much of a fuss out in public. For one, it’s much quicker to maneuver around low-quality humans than it is wasting time dealing with them. Second of all, this area is small, impressionable and judgmental. You get a reputation, and that’s not always a good thing. All of this is under the assumption you’re not from money. If you’re wealthy, you can do whatever you please. I’m sure many in America know that unspoken rule.
I decided to have a vegetarian burrito at the local Chipotle last night because guacamole is fantastic and I wanted to take a ride to a nearby town for some brainstorming. When I arrived, the line was at least twenty to twenty-five customers deep. It would be roughly a ten-minute wait. Not a problem. I’m patient.
As I approached the counter, the line workers started to run out of ingredients. The making of tacos, burritos and bowls ground to a screeching halt. Cooks were frustrated, the line crew was panic-stricken, and the sharks were starting to circle. By sharks, I mean customers.
As the replacements slowly came in, a person who appeared to be the shift manager said something to the cooks out of my earshot which garnered a tired, irritated response along the lines “I’m doing what I can.” It was at that point a middle-aged soccer mom got on her soap box. She explained how the in-fighting wasn’t helpful, her experience there wasn’t that great, she didn’t want to come back again, everyone was upset about what was going on, and she wanted to see the manager. I tolerated her whining up until the point she dragged me in on it.
Excuse me, lady? Speak for yourself. If I have a beef with these workers, I’ll let them know. I don’t need your help. Thanks, pay for your food and get lost. It would probably be a good thing for everyone involved if you didn’t come back ever again. Heck, I’ll frequent the place more to cover the loss in business. How ’bout them apples?
By the time I got up to the frazzled staff, I was boiling hot. It wasn’t from the workers; it was that spoiled little brat ahead of me. If I was too hungry to be decent in public, then it’s my own fault for not eating sooner. She could have made her own dinner and saved us all the headache of listening to her. These employees have to churn out meals for dozens of people a night. People like her. She needs to get real. Don’t try to catch people coming and going.
I addressed every employee as politely and friendly as I could. If there was an ingredient temporarily out of stock, I’d say “no worries” and find the next best substitute. The irked cook who sparked the woman’s diatribe went so far as to say “I like this guy!” I raised my finger and said “patience is a virtue” without so much as a hint of emotion. It was the truth. It didn’t need to be doctored up. He smiled. The tense atmosphere cleared out and the other customers who were acting like brats shriveled up like Shrinky Dinks. Serves ’em right. I’d also like to believe it got me a tad bit more guacamole than corporate suggests.
We’ve all been in frustrating and stressful situations before. We’re not perfect. We get mad. That’s normal. If you can’t cut people slack for being human, don’t even bother asking for any when you become such. It’s going to happen, too. I guarantee it.
I tried not talking about it, but observed holidays aren’t easy to dodge. Valentine’s Day came and went without much of a to-do. That’s primarily because I fell asleep when I got home from work and didn’t wake up until midnight. How hopeless of a romantic could I be? Very hopeless, I assure you.
Earlier, I wrote out a rather sincere holiday wish on my other social media:
“Today is Valentine’s Day. As such I wish all that are in love, happy, and content a wonderful day regardless of orientation. As long as you’re happy with your arrangement, I’m happy for you.
Tonight, though, I raise a glass to the singles. The independents who refuse to let society tell them what to think or how to think politically, socially, or otherwise. I toast to you for seeking your own way, thick with the fear and hatred of others who think you’re an affront to their way of life. I salute those who know what it means socially to suggest a different viewpoint than what is popular. Your mile is just as important as any special interest.”
Now that may have ruffled a few feathers for one reason or another, but the people that truly know me know I won’t bite unless provoked. I don’t go around with the intention of picking fights, but if I can’t say what’s on my mind it gets ugly. That was also on the heels of some people digging into me for suggesting women are human and are susceptible to bad habits like bossiness. Not all “bossiness” is misinterpreted leadership, people. Cut the crap.
Once I shook off my bonds of slumber, I grabbed a pint down at the bar. There wasn’t much to be had for the likes of me, except a game of darts and a Doris Day movie. I did, however, get my first comment on a book review from the dating site:
“hi, i have a business proposal that will benefit both of us.If you are interested, email me to my personal email [redacted] for more details. Please note that chatting is not allowed, only email communication.”
I’m not sure about you, but I think I was just propositioned like a John. That’s an odd feeling, being thought of as a customer. In fact, I really dislike being thought of as a customer in many situations. After a little fiddling, I was able to remove it. People would start to get the impression it was abandoned. If anything, it needs a whole biographical rewrite. I’ve been known to scrap and start from scratch multiple times.
Also, a woman complimented me on my cologne for the first time, albeit the cashier at fast food restaurant. All together, I thought I handled it rather graciously. It makes for awkward ordering, but what can I say? I’m McIrresistible, ladies. Maybe that should be the new form of speed dating? Dinner and a show.
I know it’s highly irregular of me to post three times on a weekend, but this needs to be done for my reflection. Not in the mirror, mind you, but mental reflection. I’m not that vain. This is much like my earlier post about the dream, which I have a vague idea now what I was troubled over. I think I am concerned over making the wrong move again. The two roommates were a thought over the people that I meet in my life. The two were actually one, and the second was skeptical of showing all of themselves to new people. Guarded, if you will.
Right, now for the real point. I set up a profile on a niche dating site. For right now, I won’t specifically identify it but it’s not match.com, OKCupid, or eHarmony. As an aside, the eHarmony starter kit depressed me so much I couldn’t finish it. I read in between the lines way too much, and the “encouraging” lines translated just so to the point I felt like a sorry sack of crap. This place is a tiny website that scares away people who don’t like to read. I’ve given you all the information you need to figure it out on your own.
It has been over three weeks since I started the profile, but the return hasn’t been much of anything. I put everything in its right place, even several short but meaningful reviews of books I’ve read over the years. That’s not to say I was expecting anything, but there it is. The point is there were no corners cut in the effort I put into it. I’ve always thought I haven’t read as much as I should, but looking at other people I’m a little ahead of the game. That’s disappointing, not reading.
Last night, as I finished my flash fiction and laundry, I received a small two-sentence message from another user.
“Biting profile words; I’m hooked. Tell me more, tell me anything.”
As far as I could tell, she wasn’t a spammer. The reviews looked genuine and there weren’t any links to other websites. She was from Oregon, which I later ran the numbers to be approximately 2,500 miles (~4,000 km) away from the Fields. Maybe she mistook the OH for OR?
It was at 6:00pm, and I decided to think about what to say. After all, what do I have to lose from responding with a well-thought out email? By the time I was ready to write, she vanished. It was no more than 17 hours after she said something. I don’t think anything less than 24 is rude, do you? The profile was deleted with no way to respond. I didn’t realize what happened, until I screamed “how the Hell do you respond on this thing?!” That’s when I saw the small-print notification.
What was it that made her bail so quickly I wonder? Was it the time lag or the distance? I can relate to the mileage. All of my “matches,” and that’s in quotes because they’re not seemingly good fits, are on the coasts. That’s a long way, brother. Maybe the whole idea really brought her down?
Whatever it was, I hope she finds what she’s looking for.
Tonight is Super Bowl Sunday, but that was not why I was at a sports bar. That was for dinner, as it was close and I didn’t want to cook. I’d have to do some grocery shopping as well. Over the din of fans and children, I found a spot on the patio. Truth be told it was to smoke a cigarette. It’s a touchy subject, but I cannot lie about it.
Depending on a person’s point of view, I either had the fortune or misfortune of being either entertained or held hostage by a sir of some 50 years of age. He started with commenting on the football game. No one around here appreciates the “handegg” label I’ve applied to it. I thought the suggestion was rather convincing myself. Regardless, he spoke highly of Seattle’s coordination and ability. I merely wanted to smoke my cigarette and wonder if Sancho Panza truly believed he was going to get a parcel of land out of Don Quixote, or if he was playing along for the ride.
Then the conversation took a turn. That is to say, he went straight into politics with little warning. Now, I’m not a huge fan in talking about something I don’t have much control over to start. It’s often the same love or hatred for one politician or another, or the intricacies of a bill/law. He wasn’t talking about that though. No, he was talking about hardcore conspiracy theory. The gentleman was of the impression the entire globe was priming up for the next world war.
What the Devil do you do with that? It’s like being dressed for a cookout and taken to a black-tie event. You instantly don’t want to be there. How do you unroll, with no time for consideration of thought or delivery (ESPECIALLY delivery), while it’s possible conspiracy theorists can be right they can also be very wrong. Conspiracy theorists are convinced no matter what. It’s not even a discussion; it’s being talked at.
I’ve tried to think of several ways to get people of this nature through the whole ordeal without too much fuss, and then I can go about my interests. It’s currently to let them talk at me, and have them go back to their business. That never seems to be enough though. They want agreement. They want validation. That is thought bullying, and I don’t care for it.
He started off with his version of an “intelligence test,” which I don’t think I passed but that’s inconsequential. The disputed quote from Albert Einstein is, “everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” It has some validity. No human can know it all, although many often think otherwise.
After letting him ramble for about 10 minutes, I finally excused myself for dinner. Otherwise, it would have been much longer than that. He wouldn’t finish. It was verbal diarrhea at its best. I’m not going into details, but he’s convinced it will start with the bombing of Israel and roll into global destruction. Again, what is there to discuss? The world has had a history of war and destruction as far as people have kept records. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, which is the way it has been in the past. Am I to quake every night about it? Do I have control over the powers that be to bring about the Age of Aquarius?! No, of course not.
It’s times like this that I think of Kurt Vonnegut, and his use of the Serenity Prayer. It also brings me to the question: when does one believe people like Nietzche’s madman and when does one throw him out of the church for running amok?
I forgot I wanted to write a post about this article from December. It fills me with an impish joy only the antics of my fellow Ohio residents could supply. There won’t be any disagreement out of me, even if the study is a bit flawed. To do Ohio justice, calling large corporations with several layers of a phone system rarely leads to happiness. Not considering such actions provocation on the part of companies is a bit naïve by the survey team. Also Time Warner, AT&T, and Comcast (so I hear) can go play Frogger on I-80. I’ve just finished my fourth calling session with AT&T in the past 24 hours. Do you really think I’m going to be a cheerful bear after that?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear with nine interstates full of out-of-state traffic zipping by me at 80, 85, and 90 MPH?
No, I’m not. It’s hard enough to keep the state’s population policed.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear after hearing the general rage-spit about the 2004 elections, or more recently John Boehner of whom I had no ability to cast a vote against?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear when the coastal regions act like we’re some kind of step down to their genteel way of life?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear, when the industries we worked so hard to maintain are now shipped to China and Mexico with little left to show for it but dilapidated factories and unemployment?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear when my own country deems my area too unimportant to fix health and safety issues on their body of water?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear when the four seasons end up to be Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear when the rest of the country thinks this state doesn’t measure up their standards of courtesy?
The fuck I will.
With all that said, yes, Ohioans are fairly edgy overall. I think the economic, environmental, and social stressors are getting to them. It has made people a little crunchy around the edges. There are deep divides in the political, religious, and philosophical canvases of which no one is really interested in closing. What else would you expect from a state that gave you William Tecumseh Sherman and Marilyn Manson? It has led to practice of staunch individualism with mediocre results.
I do get mad about the state of which I’ve lived in for over 30 years. I do make insulting remarks when I see preventable failure withing state lines, but it’s more in the form of wanting improvement out of a developed location. Outsiders simply want to make comments to feel better about their situation and birthplace. That’s why you see a seemingly double-standard when it comes to criticism.
If it weren’t so hacked up and shattered, I think several people would have chosen to stay. People get mad at other people. Other people leave to find better people. People get mad that other people left. It’s a vicious circle, or maybe a little like a downward spiral.
The Tubes are as 80s to me as the fake-animal-print clad David Lee Roth, and provide Hallmark wisdom in a way only the era could deliver. I did tip my hand too much in the previous post about the strip club experience. It’s not easy talking about such personal memories, being that the Internet is so vast, but if I were on my deathbed would I appreciate not saying anything? This post isn’t going to candy-coat anything. If you are the type to either be easily offended or insulted, I strongly advise you to visit another day. I’m not the type of person to tolerate bullshit either, and this won’t be up for debate. This is simply a story of how my life played out on one Saturday afternoon in April of 1997.
I was 18, and it was a few days after my best friend’s 18th birthday. His rambunctious mind could only think of one thing, and one thing alone: strippers. He was always after ideas sexual in nature: Playboys (for the articles, my ass), video pornography, John Valby aka Dr. Dirty et al. They revolved around him in an electron fashion, only drawing closer to the nucleus with each passing moment. There seemed a sort of Christmas excitement that ran across his boyish face when he talked about it, and he spoke of it for weeks. I knew that day was coming, even though I already had deep reservations about it. Most people don’t give me enough credit for my intuitiveness, but it’s definitely there. Maybe it’s for personal use only? Regardless, I was being muscled into his quasi-wingman as we ventured to a larger city for the venue.
There was a feeling in the pit of my stomach the whole way there. It was not something that sounded great in the first place, but like usual, I felt coerced by societal norms (e.g. “this is what you’re supposed to be like: dumb and horny,” or “why not? Are you in the closet?”). We ended up in a strip mall in Toledo, where I handed over a matinée price of $7.00 to a short man with greasy ginger hair kept in a long pony tail. The insides were painted black, lit with black lights. UV light accented all the fluorescent materials present with a thin veil of smoke drifting from the seats to the stage. It wasn’t too long ago that people could smoke indoors.
The first stripper was a petite blond with cropped hair to match. Her gaunt figure danced upon the pole to a three-set of Beatles songs. “Sexy Sadie” was her stage name, and the bits of metal from her piercings held tightly to her b-cup breasts, glinting every now and then when she’d spin. After “Helter Skelter” was over, she bounded right up to us. Being that my friend was the cause of all this, I let him buy her the brink which turned out to be apple juice. Even though we weren’t of legal drinking age, there wasn’t any alcohol on the premises. I suppose I could see why. Drunk men and naked women could present a problem. My friend and I were also required to have a drink in front of us at all times, and we chose fountain beverages for the free refills. I still remember vividly how bright and pink my plastic daiquiri glass was. It was cheap, exactly like how I felt.
After a few minutes of light discussion, we were hit up for some additional dancing at the booths across the stage. Fortunately, my friend could not turn the offer down and went promptly over there with her. I was left to watch the other two women perform their sets. I began to fidget, trying to keep a calm exterior about myself and pretend I was enjoying it. There were a few other men around, smiling at me. They were having a good time. I wasn’t, not in the slightest. I felt like I was being used, not only by the dancers but by my friend. He didn’t want to go alone, but I didn’t have that many friends. I didn’t want to cause a rift because I would feel awful in a strip club.
The air felt thicker and denser as time inched along. I felt snake-like coils move around my face and head, whispering offers of faux-affection for $40 a turn. I was even startled when an African-American dancer slid her green-tipped fingers down my shoulders. She approached me from behind. So, I never knew she was there until I was jumping an inch out of my chair. I know they meant no real harm, though. They were just trying to earn a paycheck.
So often had I pined for female ardor, it made for many a lonely night. This sadness brought to me by my peers was heightened with whispers of high school girls not quite out of earshot, providing quite the venue of criticism from weight to attractiveness to creepiness. Everyone did it though. There were several males who would make themselves feel better at my expense, but it always stung worse to hear it from the girls. I could be jumped or clotheslined or socked right in the face, but it was their words that would ring in my ears for years. Admittedly, that day in April was the first time being in the presence of naked women. It wasn’t real though. None of it was real. All of it was a delicately-wrapped lie for a price, a group of women trying to sweet talk me only for what I had in my wallet. I didn’t have a whole lot of it to start. It hurt; it hurt like the Devil. I felt ashamed, and tried to overcome a burning face at the notion of having to buy my affection. What the Hell did I ever do to require buying love?
Were they whores? Were they sluts? Only if you include the audience and me. Whether it was for money, lust, or my desperate need for belonging, we all sold ourselves at some price. My area of interest just happened to be the size of a planet, instead of a Marlboro-tainted skin shop. Those buyers and suppliers were not on my list, as I had other business to attend to. After my friend got his inaugural lap dances, we folded tent and left. Rarely have I ever felt relieved as I did that day, with the slight wind at my face and a drive through the fields of Ohio.
I saw this over the weekend, and while I laughed, I realized it was for someone else. It was for couples and not singles. That’s always a wet blanket.
I’m back from my parent’s house with newly-scented red onion fingers. That’s right, I cook. Not only that, but I clean, do laundry, tend to plants, and sometimes mend my clothes. This is set in juxtaposition to the construction I’ve done on my house, the walls repaired, the woodwork laid. I’ve tacked shingles on a roof and put up stud walls for additions. As I spread this all over the table, I don’t consider myself feminine but those roles have been assumed. I’m quite a masculine figure, which isn’t as popular as it was in the early 20th century, however I’ve come to experience that the converse isn’t either.
When I was at uni, the 100-level psych/humanities class preached a blend of masculine and feminine traits. While I didn’t intentionally plan it this way, I could feasible say I’ve done so. What’s disappointing is the seeming rejection of that notion in the real world. I have to get this out, as my mind’s on fire, but it’s almost as if I’ve been set up for failure by trying to cooperate. I’m sure that’s hard for some to either accept or even believe, but why is it I always get the “well, you’re an exception” when I hear women moan about men? If I’m the “exception,” or “safe” as one woman so eloquently put it, wouldn’t that make me more valuable? It hasn’t in my time. I should have have more opportunities by now.
Maybe the reasons are meant to be tentative? It always feels like submitting a resume. I know HR is looking for any mistake to fling it in the trash can. There’s always the possibility I’m simply not attractive enough for many women. I thought we weren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it happens. Doesn’t it?
This is cliché, but I’m not a “people person.” That primarily has to deal with the misadventures of growing up the wrong way in a public school system. I’m sure of it. Regardless, being “outgoing” or “affable” aren’t my primary traits. Without you all being surprised, I had quite the tongue by the time I graduated high school. I was often hard to handle.
My family says I’ve mellowed out some since then, not much but some. It has taken several years to not instantly berate or rip apart anything that lightly smelled of an insult or slander. I still have my moments where I read things the completely wrong way and think “thanks, <expletive>, you can stick it up your <expletive> and do some jumping jacks.” I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to people more than before. It does help, because it has occurred to me that my wording is a lot more keen than many Americans. When I write or say something, chances are good it’s very deliberate and very sincere. That’s a deadly combination. Others seem to communicate as if they lost their brakes during rush hour.
My hair stylist explained to me this past Tuesday of my “no sass mode,” which apparently means there are times I just don’t take anything from anyone. I thought that was everyday, but apparently I get in a mode. She says she watches my statements and the harder they get the more she knows I’m having a bad day. She and I are friends on Facebook. So, she gets the pleasure of see my blistering comments on everything from politics to the hockey puck that couldn’t understand what “right of way” meant.
This may sound all tough and whatnot at first, but I’d change it if I could go back and do it all over. Far too many times have the lessons of the past scarred my actions of the future. That’s not to say there are events I want completely undone, rather just training to not automatically think the worst of someone and act upon it. History can repeat itself, but it’s better to work on making it not.
It affects my life in all sorts of ways, but my work needs me to approach the public in a different way. This isn’t just the general public; these are people who can’t help themselves. Often less educated and less trained than myself, many have no concept of manners or cooperation or civility. They take what they think is theirs, and feel free to mouth off in any way to get more. Sometimes it gets injurious, and that’s a big tripwire for me. I had one rather wonderful woman tell me “you’re afraid of me. ” What took the strength of a thousand men to keep in was “no, I’m not afraid of you. I’m afraid of losing my cool.”
There was an episode of Law & Order on a few nights ago I just happened to catch at the tail end. It dealt with bullying, and the criminal mastermind was seeking revenge upon his enemy. The police had him in the interrogation room wheedling a confession out of him by saying “the effects of long-term bullying last well into adulthood for the victims.” It’s the God’s honest truth. That stuff doesn’t go away for targets, even when the instigator has long since forgotten all about it. It can’t be wished or willed away, and all of the programming associated with it doesn’t simply dissolve. It take years, maybe even decades, to revise the mind to adjust well with the world around them.
I would like to stay positive about this, even in the face of permanent harm. It appears I have been given a better intellect than many of my contemporaries. Although I could have clocked a much higher IQ in school had I not been held hostage by a vicious community, what’s left is better than average. No matter how painful, I’m better a diplomat than a degenerate.