Monthly Archives: April 2009

Dig Yourself a Hole

I found him in the backyard, shovel in hand. He’s all tattooed arms and spitfire poetry. Razorblade scars and heroin-soaked lyricism. Perfectly unhinged; unchained dog mad with rabies. He burned patterns in my lawn. Bleached stained jeans. Tattered shirt and tie. Shattered glass bottles, thrown at trees; pockmarked cherry bomb testing grounds. Dirt stained everything.

He’s digging a hole.

He tells me, “One day, years from now, Africa with collide with Europe and close the Straights of Gibraltar. The Mediterranean will become a vast desert of salt.”

I stare blank. Unsure of what to say, I drink long slow sips. Burns like a lemondrop, hard swallowed.

“Don’t you get it? The Atlantic is spreading at a rate equivalent to that of human finger nail growth. The Atlantic is fucking spreading! Every second that passes we’re getting farther away from England. How do you handle that?”

I have nothing. I barely understand.

He puts it another way. “Right now the universe is expanding. Everything is moving away from everything else. We’re all drifting alone in the dark.”

His hole is getting deeper. I would really like to pull him up, but I don’t have the knowledge or the tools. He came out here with a mission. Hellbent and headstrong, he’s burning adrenaline like a grease fire. He’s a loaded gun. He’s loaded for sure, has been for days.

“She was mine once,” he said, “Not anymore though. I bled her out. Bled her dry. One too many leaches. Maybe one too few.”

I still don’t get it. Another long slow sip.

“She killed it for me. Knew I couldn’t deal. But that wasn’t it. That’s what she never got.”

A picture’s starting to form. Bleak and bloody, I think I’m getting it now. Rain falls silent on shirt collars. He’s all mud-splattered dress clothes. Real life American wasteland. The shit under your shoes.

“How I could bring it into a world that’s doomed. Birth is a death sentence. I see that now.”

And there it is.

He’s knee deep in slop, waist deep in a trench. He’s digging with a purpose now. His grip tight on the handle, a bear trap vice. Blood trickles from cracked knuckles. He’s broken bones healed crooked. He locks eyes with mine, searching for answers I can’t possibly give him.

Another long slow sip. I tell him it’s not all bad. We’ve got cable and high speed internet access. I am completely meaningless. He’s waterlogged and mechanical motion. Locked in; he’s on autopilot and coasting towards the end. I don’t think I could stop him if I wanted to. I don’t know that I want to.

He’s all rage and fear. Blood, piss, and tears. Mud splashed in fresh new wounds. He’s puncture marks and bleeding open heart. He wants me to be something I’m not. He wants me to be answers. He needs me to be strong comfort. I have to be everything’s alright. But I’m nothing like anything. I never have been.

He’s been digging all night. He’s been digging a hole.

“This one’s mine,” he says, “You have to dig your own.”

I want it too…

I must admit, the point of view that I express comes from a very Westernized person. I can only consider the world from inside a society that values individuality and competition. The goal isn’t to keep up with the Joneses.. oh no. We strive to own nicer cars, more prim yards, and have nicer haircuts than our peers; rather than being happy intrinsically with our material possessions, we compare what we have and only feel good when we believe we have the upper hand. Disgustingly, through the… beauty… of globalization, this Americanized value has been exported around the globe. It has created a cutthroat business market that thrives on greed. We lose symbiotic relationships that could better both sides in favor of more stringent business moves that put both parties on edge. It is ugly. But it is the system we have.

Despite my biased view of the inner workings of the current business world, it is important to understand that it is truly run on greed. Outlandish CEO bonuses and salaries reveal this to us. The horrible hours worked by low-level employees at hedge funds in hopes of rising through the company to make their own ludicrous salary shows this as well. With this knowledge, however, we can be quite powerful in approaching government and trying to get what we want out of it. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to phrase desires in a manner that appeals to the greed driven market.

Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of multiple bestselling books, effectively describes the possibility of harnessing this greed for good in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. As he lays out a plan to save the world from global warming, Friedman proposes a Green Revolution that appeals to the wallets of big business. Beautifully, he also cites some examples in Indonesia where villages have sparked change and stopped deforestation through local uprising. The spark of these local revolutions? A new-found understanding of what the forests meant for them in terms of providing food and resources. Environmental wonder was preserved by reminding the people living closest to it of the bounty it provided. Batang Gadis, the village in Indonesia, fights illegal logging, receives benefit from having the forest, and maintains the flora and fauna that are natural to the area. The key to this balanced ecosystem was education.

The value of schooling is quite obvious at times. If a child is in school, they are not participating in destructive activities during school hours. And, the knowledge that they get points them towards careers and jobs rather than focusing on the other aspects of their environments. But this is a shortsighted view of the importance of education. From the example above, knowledge of why something is valuable to a person, appealing to each persons sense of greed, can cause changes that are beneficial to the whole world. Atrocious as it may be, it may prove fruitful to teach based on what it might bring financially to a person. Both within the classroom and in more worldly learning, we could see great impacts as people are encouraged to strive for money even more rather than merely following their own internal drives.

Idle Hands

I love you, Bridget Moynahan,
but seem to be the only one.
Tom Brady had his way with you
and knocked you up, but then was done.
How is John Edward Thomas M.,
your Patriot/douche-orphaned son?

You’ve been so close to breaking out
a few times in your long career;
you shined in Coyote Ugly
(2000 seemed to be your year,
with that and Sex and the City
you had a guest role, so I hear).

The next year, too, was pretty good.
You rocked in Serendipity!
Well, you were in it, I should say;
I’m using the word “rocked” loosely.
I guess that you could say your role
in I, Robot was quality?

I shouldn’t be so quick to judge:
it’s not your fault, your birthday’s cursed!
The Bounty had its mutiny,
and Mussolini died, but worse,
some thirty-four years before you,
Saddam Hussein had your birth first.

So clearly it can’t be your fault:
the day is cursed, what can you do?
Except—don’t take this the wrong way—
Jessica Alba shares it, too,
and she can’t act, but still gets jobs.
Oh wait, and Penélope Cruz.

So what? That’s just two actresses,
you can’t count Mary McDonnell.
Or Ann-Margret. Or Madge Sinclair.
Bridget, I can’t believe that all
these women share your cursed birthday.
The world is seriously small.

Okay, but still, there’s other things.
You can’t work now that you’re a mom.
It’s hard enough to learn your lines
and act them out with grace, aplomb.
But Alba has a toddler, too…
Damn, Jessica! Girl, you the bomb!

Reunion Tour (1.1)

I think it was Dylan who found it first. I say this because he was the only other one with keys to the ambulance, since we don’t have to worry about him staying sober. At least not anymore. When I got back with Stuart from grabbing breakfast inside, the ambulance was gone, and he and Alex were gone with it. Gabriel was gone, too, but in a different way, as we’d quickly discover. I’m not entirely sure what drove Stuart to look in the bathroom of all places, but midgets are compelled by all kinds of weird, outside forces that those of us at normal heights will never understand.

I’m not sure what killed him — he could have drowned for all I know, since we found him face down. There was a trail of blood flowing from his nose, but it had mostly stopped by now. Maybe that had something to do with it. I don’t know. I was a little surprised at first when Stuart asked me to join him in the shower; it’s not that I have a thing against midgets, I just thought, you know, that Stuart had a thing against guys. But then again, I think he’s European.

The water was still running. I asked Gabriel what was going on, and why he was sleeping in the shower, but he didn’t respond, so I gave him a kick. He and I have always had that kind of relationship where you can just kick each other for whatever reason and it’s usually cool. Not with Dylan, though; he was always uptight. Personally, I liked him more when he still drank. Then at least we could get fucked up, and he’d stop being a prick for a few minutes anyway.

Stuart did the right thing and called the police. He always makes good decisions like that. That’s why he’s our manager, because he calls the cops when he finds one of our band members dead in the shower while Dylan leaves the crime scene with our tour ambulance and abandons us at this ghost town truck stop. See the difference? We don’t really trust Dylan with anything except the car keys, and clearly even that was a mistake.

Although, I guess we trust him to sing, too. He’s good at that at least.

The cops were convinced that Alex and Dylan had killed Gabriel together, and had taken off in the ambulance. I told them that the whole theory was ridiculous, although I guess it explains why they left. Dylan’s temperamental and impulsive and all, but I can’t see him killing anybody, and Alex, well, I think she did all the damage she could when she lied about the miscarriage.

It took me a while to explain to the police that our tour van was actually a converted ambulance, but they caught on eventually. I’ve got to say, as far as reunions go, things could be going a lot better.

(to be continued)

Oh, to be (anything but) a Lion

Matt Stafford vs. A Real NFL Career.

 

Quick question: if you wanted to have a successful life playing pro football, who would you most want to be?

Georgia quarterback standout and likely #1 2009 draft pick Matt Stafford?

Hell, no.

This poor Stafford kid, I kind of feel for him.  He’s about to get picked up by the Detroit Lions – the lowliest team in the history of the NFL – and he’s gonna wither on the vine there like a grape left after wine season.  

The Lions have nothing at all going for them – nothing.  They’re coming off an 0-16 season, worst in NFL history, and a steady streak of ruined QBs.  They’re like the girl who chews up boyfriends and spits them out.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Jon Kitna, who got sacked an amazing 63 times there during hist first season with them in ’04.  Or Daunte Culpepper.  Or Joey Harrington.

The guy has no offense at all to support him, and as a rookie QB, he needs better or else his career will be shorter than the line for O’Douls on Super Bowl Sunday.  

Be that as it may, at least he can get comfortable with the knowledge that he’s in for a fat payday, regardless of how short his career is going to be with Detroit.  The last four number 1’s – Alex Smith, Mario Williams, JaMarcus Russel, and Jake Long – signed contracts with payouts averaging over $50 million each.

At least he’s trying to sound the part.  In an interview earlier this week, the kid said that he is really excited about being a Lion.

Earth to Matt: nobody is excited about being a Lion.  Guys currently on the team don’t even tell their moms when they’re on TV.  I heard one of the linebackers even tells his wife that he lost his job and is working at the local McDonald’s.  

Says she respects him more now.

Girl in a Box

She was ripped from the headlines. Girl in a box. I knew her a little bit, a number of years ago. Not enough to say hello, maybe enough to smile. Maybe. I try to remember what she looked like, but I only see the box.

She didn’t fit in neat. At least not at first. They had to force it. It doesn’t matter how hard you force something though, sometimes we weren’t meant to bend certain ways. We can bend lots of things for lots of reasons, I’m sure they bent plenty of things inside themselves to do what they did to her. But you can’t force it. No matter how much you need to.

No, she didn’t fit, so the had to resize her. I imagine it made quite a mess. In fact, I’m surprised that’s not what gave them away. But it wasn’t. I guess with enough drive and the proper tools you can make anything fit anywhere, even if it doesn’t want to. She certainly didn’t want to fit. Girl in a box.

Two days she spent in the box. Two days is unending and insignificant on the scale of the universe, but it was neither for her. She wasn’t really in the box. At least not the part of her that counts. That being said, I don’t want to confuse you, they did put all her parts in the box. To not would just be sloppy. They certainly weren’t sloppy. Two days and no one noticed the box.

No, no one noticed the box until they tried to get rid of it. I often wonder if they had been successful, would the box have sunk or floated down the river? I often wonder if they would have just been better off leaving the box where it was. In plain view, for all to see. They could make jokes about it.

“What’s in the box?”

“Oh that box? A girl”

“Ha ha ha. You are the cleverest aren’t you? Such nice young boys”

They’re all in boxes now too. Not boxes like hers though. They still have all their parts. But not the part that matters. They lost that when they put her in box. When they forced her in. I’m sure she didn’t want to go. Like I said, I didn’t know her that well. Not well enough to say hello. So maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine that she would have wanted to be in the box. At least not like that. Girl in a box.

We’ll all be in boxes one day. Not like hers. Not like theirs. At least, not like their boxes right now. More like the ones they’ll be in soon.

Can’t escape my head…

For good or bad, we are all prisoners of our own realities. Our own conceptions of a world that exists outside of what we deem to be our essence are unique, and wholly belong to us. Attempts to understand the reality of others can be quite difficult, if not impossible. I am struck by the writing of Kurt Vonnegut when considering personal perceptions (or species perceptions). In Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgram interacts with an alien race, the Tralfamadorians. Unlike humans, this species of alien sees all of history and future. Contrary to this, humans are… cursed… to see only the moment. Vonnegut creates a metaphor for our viewpoint such that we have our heads encased in a metal sphere. There is an eyehole, but a six foot long steel pipe is welded to the steel helmet, so what is actually seen is a microscopic portion of what exists. We cannot turn our heads and we are on a train. Progressing at a constant speed without any hope for change.

Now, without considering the beauty or intricacies that we are surely missing if this model is as true as it appears to be, why does it matter? So what if what I see is only a portion of what may be considered a “grand reality” or “virtuos understanding”? I am unable to give an answer to this, for in the run of daily life, it probably means very little to any individual. Human interactions will continue to be strained, and in part are stressed, by this very fact. Our realities are quite variable and it is through these perceptions that we gauge the world that we live in. These understandings of the inner workings of our environments govern our behavior. And because of the relation between these thoughts and our behavior, it is an understatement to say that we tend to obscure our true beliefs. Freud proposes that some of these realities are even hidden from our conscious self.

One more time, so what? This is how we see the world and how our interactions will occur. However, consider therapy, in particular the person-centered therapy designed and utilized by Carl Rogers. A basic concept of this process is trust- and beyond that congruence, an unconditional positive regard, and empathy. For successful growth and development with both clinical and sub-clinical patients, it is understandable how these would be essential sentiments in the setting. The proper setting or climate is developed using the above mentioned concepts which, in accord with reflection strategies, permits a client to perform the proper introspection to essentially solve their own problems. The therapist is providing an unbiased atmosphere where the client is free to reveal their understandings of the world. They are encouraged to probe their own minds to understand what they think and feel.

Reflection, thought, and an increased self-value and confidence can be sufficient change to develop more healthy realities (whether or not they are truly right or wrong… does not appear to be something that we can truly determine. Is one reality right simply because the majority of people hold that belief? No. Proof of this can be found in many political parties throughout time that committed atrocities but maintained a high level of support). To return to the metaphor, effective therapy is being free to move our heads around and see more. We probably still have the helmet on, but being free to acknowledge more of the world than what we normally see as the train drones on is powerful. Seeing beyond our own reality is powerful. Simply considering what is outside of ourselves is powerful.