Jolly

This year for the holiday season, I am going to try and be something I have not ever consciously thought about being before: jolly. The way I intend to go about bringing forth this euphoric attitude is to do the opposite of what Americans are told to do at this time of year. I am not going to go out and buy decorations, I am not going to participate in “Incredible Christmas Deals,” nor will I find an atrocious sweater, drag myself to a random house, and get drunk on eggnog pretending to care about all the accomplishments from others as they flow into my ears.
I have always been a bit of a Grinch around the holidays, though I would generally put up with the games. I have played Yankee Swap over ten times, alright?
All of this – the shopping, the games, the silly uniforms and kitsch parties – is why I am not jolly during the holiday season. It’s quite possibly why everyone is not jolly during the holiday season.
Last night while Amber and I were picking up dinner, we over heard three people talking at the bar.
“So, I call a time out. I’m handling the game and I call a time out. And then you won’t believe this… you won’t believe this. Tye blows a kiss to a girl. And she’s like, contradicting what I’m saying on the bench. So I was like ‘if you say another word I’m gonna fire you. If you can’t get on board I’m gonna fire you.’” The guy speaking couldn’t have been much older than me. He was talking to two girls who were dressed in the same sort of sports uniform. One of them responded.
“You know, it’s just like, there’s times you’re upset and you know, you call me out in front of everyone. I’ve seen you do it before, but I’m never gonna question you during the game and I know you know that.”
I kept listening and found out that this small group was the remains of a larger group of coaches, etc. that had chosen to have their Christmas party here. I’m not quite sure what could compel these three to stay behind and complain about their jobs and berate themselves to each other after the other coaches were already asleep at home, getting ready for the next time they could threaten to fire girlfriends for interfering with their athletes’ commands. Perhaps it’s just the holiday spirit everyone talks about.

Nope, that spirit is not for me this year. There will be years where I plan to go needlessly into debt to prove to those I love, just how many dollars worth I love them. There will also be years where I have too many drinks at the family Christmas party, and end up drunkenly talking to someone I don’t care for, for hours. But this year, I will save my money. I will buy minimal gifts and I will expect nothing in return. I will skip on the parties to write, or to do nothing at all. This year, I’ll try to be alright, and is there a better reason to be jolly than that?

Jolly

Advertisements

Saintly

The most saintly person I’ve ever known is named Pat. Pat is a Christian woman who has been going to my parent’s church since before I was born, running everything from the cleaning team, to the Mothers Of Pre-Schools (MOPS) program. When my mom was in MOPS, and I was only one or two, Pat looked after me from time-to-time. I have seen this woman for my entire twenty-something years of life, yet she has never seemed to age. When I had first seen her, she looked like Santa’s most stereotypical wife, and when I saw her last week for the first time in years, she looked exactly the same. Perhaps it is the fact that I have never heard Pat curse that keeps her age-less. Maybe it’s the fact that she has taken a constant verbal beating from children ranging from two, to twelve for close to thirty years now.

It could also be the hard life she has had – a son who insists on being the pinnacle of ‘progressive’ at everything in life (with the scrotum-piercing preformed in her living room and all), a husband who has always remained the opposite (German-raised insults included, as he will yell for his dinner), or the church in which she has given her literal life treating her as nothing more than a cleaning maid, that has made Pat into a saint.

When I was in elementary school, Pat was my parent’s most trusted friend, and I remember one week when I stayed with her while my parents were on their anniversary. Pat’s day would begin when her bird’s day would begin. She owned a songbird which, though pleasantly, woke everyone up at five a.m. precisely. The “deal” with the bird, between Pat and her husband, was that it was Pat’s bird. She was the one who was supposed to wake up at 5 a.m. and tend to it so that it would quiet down. Thus, her days would begin. She would wake up and make herself some tea. This would be followed with making a pot of coffee for her husband, who would be awake in another hour. I was sleeping on the couch, which was in the living room next to all of the action, so I would wake up every morning no matter how hard I tried not to.

“Well, I hope you have a good day at work,” Pat would say.

“How the hell am I going to have a good day when these guys don’t know what the hell they’re doing? Damn!” her husband would respond, talking about how much he hated his job.

Pat would then make her own breakfast and prepare her lesson plans for the pre-school, MOPS, and AWANA (another church thing) she would teach at. I think she also did Sunday school.

Now, I’m not saying that Pat was saintly because she was Christian, it actually has nothing to do with the church (or the Church). Pat is the most saintly woman I know because she takes abuse. Not intense abuse – her husband is nothing to call the authorities about, nor the awful children who ridicule her – but long-lasting abuse. Love abuse.

Pat presents a clear image every single day of what love looks like. No matter what her husband complains about and takes out on her, no matter what terrible things children scream at her, no matter how many times baby piss on her, she has not and will not stop. She has a love of life, and a love for everyone like I have never see before. Again, this has nothing to do with religion, as (not to offend whatsoever) I am sure Pat does not have an advanced grasp on the nuances of Christian theology – which she doesn’t need to. The essence of Pat’s “saintly-ness” is that she preserves and nurtures life in any, and every way she can.

So, I guess, list of saints it goes:

1. Aquinas

2. Pat

3. Francis of Assisi

4. That rat with the pizza in that viral video

5. Every dog

6. Retail/ mailpeople this time of year

Saintly

A Systematic Distaste 4. The Current ‘Political Climate’ (Or The Story of How I Almost Got Arrested as a Threat to the Current American President)

I have never had more than probably twenty Twitter followers. Twitter has never been a big or important aspect to my life, but at one point in mid-2015, I was able to consider myself somewhat funny. And it’s not so much that my humor was related to Twitter, but that it sometimes bled into Twitter, like seeing Iggy Pop and having him throw up on you, or something like that. The main essence to this comedic prose was, admittedly, probably just lots of alcohol, but I am not in the business of debating from whence genius arises.

It was May of 2015. The GOP was still figuring out who they would send forth to screw us all sideways (as were the Democrats, reader who just became offended). By this point, however, it was clearer than daylight that Donald Trump was the most incompetent, unqualified, laugh-worthy, cringe-worthy, selfish, narcissistic, delusional, useless, most idiotic, ridiculous joke that had ever even had a remote, passing thought of even maybe being president of the United States. Thus, my friend Charles and I made a constant night of drinking and watching the debates, making a joke out of everything. We would occasionally try to follow it with some drinking games, like taking a sip every time someone would mention ISIS, etc, but anyone following those actual rules would surely be dead by 9 pm. We would instead drink casually (heavily), and send out to the world our barrage of thoughts on what was happening. I used Twitter, he used Facebook. Most everything was just arguing with people in a drunken laugh, knowing that the same thing was probably happening on the other side – it had to be. I cannot recall specifically any of these arguments, only that the threats revolved around impossible, metaphysical feats. I could imagine myself saying that I would blow up the whole world if someone kept up with their stupid argument, etc, etc. Dumb drunk talk.

But now it was Trump’s turn to speak on this particular night. The epitome of dumb drunk talk.

Do I really need to remember what it was that he said, or the absurdity I felt at the entire situation I was watching in front of me? If I do, perhaps this story is not for you and you should find another blog; I am not trying to start any arguments here.

I had finally reached a boiling point, and a drunken boiling point will never really lead to anywhere beneficial towards anything. “Yo, I’m gonna shoot Trump, you cool?” I Tweeted the FBI.

Yes, the FBI. I told the American Federal Bureau of Investigations that I was going to shoot the future president. In retrospect… I have since seen evidence of successful protests which took a different route.

 

I woke up the next morning, found out that was probably a bad idea from last night, and deleted the Tweet.

I had what is probably now seen as one of my first dates with my amazing girlfriend the next day. I picked her up in the early afternoon and we went to a zoo in Colorado Springs, about an hour from where we lived in south Denver. On the drive, we listened to music and talked and mostly just got excited about our day together, everything was normal and it was great. We pulled up to the zoo and got our tickets. Not even two minutes into the park and my phone rang – my mother. It’s not that I especially dislike my mother or anything like that, but when you are on your first official date with a girl you really like, you don’t answer the phone for your mom at the beginning of it. I let it go, and we walked foreword a few feet to look at the giraffes. The phone rang again. I was already in Colorado Springs, I wasn’t going to go back now. This was my first date with Amber and I had been looking forward to it and made sure to leave a clear schedule. When the phone rang a third time, though, I knew something was wrong. I answered.

“Hello?” I said.

“You need to come home, now,” it was my mom, her tone sent shivers down my spine. It was that tone one might recognize as a child, when you would became absolutely certain that you have fucked up. The Tweet still hadn’t really entered my mind, though.

“What for?” I asked.

“It doesn’t matter, you just need to be here.”

“I’m not just going to come home if there’s no reason, though,” I pleaded. A not-so-great move to pull on your mom, I understand, but let’s keep the consequences in mind here.

“What?” she said to me, rhetorically. Then she whispered into the phone, “he’s not gonna come. I don’t know what to do.” Then there was a shuffle on the other line.

“Evan?” It was a woman’s voice. She sounded stern. Younger, but old enough to have seen some shit.

“Yes?”

“You don’t come home when your mother asks you to?”

I was twenty years old, what the hell was happening here? Some sort of covert operation to get me to spend time with my mom? “I just don’t know why I would go home, and I am far away from home,” I said, as if explaining it to a child. She didn’t know me, or why I wasn’t immediately rushing to my mother’s aid, and who was she to – oh god. I got drunk and Tweeted something. What was it…

“I’m Betsey [not really] with the Secret Service. How far away are you,” she asked.

“About an hour. Maybe longer.” What did I say? Something about that orange…

“Alright. Head home and we’ll see you here,” her tone indicated it was for something serious.

This was all real and it was all happening.

Oh, goddamn it! I told the FBI I’d shoot Trump, huh?

It’s quite an awkward moment when you realize in your mind that you have to now abandon your plans for a date, only to be potentially – and very possibly – arrested for threats against the GOP primaries.

As an anarchist punk at heart, it is also a badass moment.

“We’ve gotta go, Amber.”

She could see the nervousness on my face. I’m sure my color was lost. “Oh, okay,” she said.

It was a silent walk to the car, and a silent drive down the mountain and onto the highway, where we found ourselves surrounded in rush hour traffic.

“Do you mind if I smoke around you?” I asked. We had hung out several times, but this was the first time I had the need to ask her.

“Of course not. I’ve got friends who smoke, you can do what you want.”

I love her.

On our silent stop-and-go ride, I received a text message from a number not in my contacts.

This is Betsey. Go to [an address in the Denver Tech Center]. Let me know when you are close.

Is this real? Is this really how these things operate? Is this what the world is? Text messages telling the bad guys where to go, because traffic is a bitch, you know? They don’t have time to wait around for that.

Amber pulled out her phone and found a shortcut to our cryptic destination. She also consoled me greatly, but that’s less funny so I’m leaving it out.

I’m close, I sent as we stopped at a gas station so that I could chug a Red Bull and take a Xanax.

We got back on the highway and Betsey replied Park in the garage. Take the elevator to the 4th floor. Go left to the end of the hallway. There will be a doorbell, ring it.

At this point, I wasn’t sure how to feel, honestly. On one hand, I was terrified at the thought of strangers bothering my mother over something stupid I had done, and I definitely didn’t want to be arrested. On the other hand, however, the entire US government appeared to be working based on text messages and the honor system. I know deep down that had I responded lol jk. l8r, losers! they would have found me soon after, using satellites and FBI stuff, but I still thought that I should be let off the hook for even considering this weird, lonely adventure I was now facing. Amber waited in the car. The building was enormous, but had hardly any signs out front indicating as to what any of it could be for. The elevator was right next to the front doors. My heart was pounding now. How were we even sure that this was for sure the FBI? What if I had just offended a close, mentally unstable business partner friend?

I got off the elevator and took a left. The hallway was completely empty and was painted an extremely boorish grey. The hall took a good 30 seconds or so to reach the end. There, I found a doorbell and a wooden door with some sort of keypad on the left side. Assuming that they had somehow traced my steps to this very door and knew where I was, I felt as though I had no choice but to ring the doorbell. The door buzzed and an intercom asked who I was. I told them and they unlocked the door remotely so that I could enter. Inside was an equally boorish waiting room. There were no photos, no name or organization anywhere, nothing. Just a few chairs along the wall that looked like they had been commandeered from a doctor’s office. Straight ahead was another wooden door, to the left of that was a reception window, and on the left side of the room was another door. I walked to the reception window and spoke into the circular microphone in the glass. “Hi,” I stammered.

“Name?”

“Evan.”

“Okay, Evan. I need everything in your pockets. Do you have an ID?”

I nodded.

“I’ll need your ID first.”

I handed her everything and then sat in one of the doctor chairs like I was ordered to. I was by myself.

I waited for a good fifteen minutes, though it felt like hours, when the door to the left of reception opened up. There stood two business-casual dressed adults – one man and one woman, staring me down. “Follow us,” the man said.

They led me down a small, plain, boorish hallway to a small, plain, boorish room. The room contained a large, wooden, rectangular table and three uncomfortable, mostly metal chairs – two on one side and one on the other. I obviously sat on the one person side.

“So, do you know why you’re here?” asked the woman. It was the woman from the phone, Betsey. She was probably in her mid-40s. If I saw her on the street I wouldn’t think anything of her, but knowing that she worked for a secretive government organization, I almost laughed out loud at how ridiculous her must-be-undercover outfit was – tan cargo shorts with a long, grey tee-shirt, with some off-brand hiking shoes. Was I supposed to believe this woman?

“For Twitter,” I said, maybe more abrasive than I’d have liked.

“You got that right,” said the man. He was dressed as equally ridiculously, with almost the same cargo shorts. What made his worse was that he was wearing a Hawaiian short-sleeve, though. And flip-flops. I’ll name him Nancy.

“What did you Tweet, Evan?” asked Betsey, obviously rhetorically.

“Something pretty stupid,” I responded.

“Do you think that it’s generally a good idea to tell the FBI you are going to shoot anyone?”

“Not anymore.” I didn’t necessarily have the heart to completely agree with her. Had anyone actually been serious in Tweeting that they would shoot someone, it would make government agents’ lives much easier.

Betsey and Nancy explained that they were from the Secret Service, and that the good ol’ fellas at the FBI had generously tipped them off (my wording, not theirs). This is the point at which I am not going to pretend I was a badass. I was nervous to the point that had I not taken that Xanax, I probably would have passed out in the elevator. Regardless of this, though, I still remember myself thinking at the time Don’t they have anything better to do?

“You still live with your parents?” asked Nancy.

“Yeah, I do.”

“Do they charge you rent?”

“No, they don’t.”

“So, your parents who brought you up, raised you, I’m assuming gave you your car? How’d you get your car, Evan?”

“Well I bought it, but from my dad…”

Betsey chuckled.

Nancy continued, “Right. So your parents essentially give you everything, make you happy, keep you alive, and then you make us come knock on their door and ruin their day. You think parents like to have us come looking for their kids?”

They make me happy? I don’t even know what that means, but I pictured a parent who’s chained her child to the tv with video game controller cables, saying “You must be happy! I command it!”

I shook my head.

“I’ve got a 17-year-old daughter at home,” began a now more furious Betsey, “and if she behaved the way you do, I’d kick her out.”

“Yeah, my kids would not be allowed to do this,” Nancy added.

What the fuck was this? I made one joke about the holy-shit-how-could-he-become-president-ass-hole and now not only was I under investigation, but I was also just a rotten kid? A rotten person? I have and have always had a boastfully low self-esteem, but this was beyond me. They didn’t know anything about me or my family. I didn’t give a shit what Betsey did with her kids, and I sure as hell didn’t want to hear about it. All of these grievances I quickly overcame, when the most infuriating event ever, the single biggest event ever to justify my punk anarchism, an event to define our current political climate happened:

“What would you do if Trump were to walk into this room, right now?” asked Nancy.

Well, Nancy, being that I am in a room with two Secret Service agents, nothing. “You know, I’d like to think I’d have something clever to say, but I don’t think I would do anything,” I assumed this was the actual answer they were looking for.

“So, I’m assuming you’re a Bernie Sanders fan?” asked Betsey.

“I guess.”

“If you were to vote today, who would you vote for?”

“Honestly, after all of this, I’m pretty discouraged from voting. I don’t think I’m going to vote at all at this point.”

They both shook their heads in agreement.

“That’s a good idea,” Betsey concluded.

Let me summarize this last bit for anyone who might have just missed what happened in the climax of the story. I do not usually condone using caps lock, or making a show with text, so forgive me, but: TWO SECRET SERVICE AGENTS FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TOLD ME THAT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA FOR ME TO NOT VOTE AT ALL IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION. If that is not the clearest, most textbook, backhand to the face of American democracy, I don’t know what is.

The agents then explained to me in threatening (but obviously bluffing) detail about how I could possibly go to court for this, but that they would let me know what was going to happen. They kept telling me I was getting off easy. (They never contacted me after this.)

Now, I’m not saying that these agents were on either side, or that there was any sort of conspiracy at work here, but I do know that when any sort of person working for the federal, or even local government, tells you it would be best not to vote, it means that they have no respect for you, your thoughts, or anything you stand for. I had not voted at the time, though I could have, during Obama’s second term. I still have not voted, which I understand can be deeply offensive to some, but it’s something I almost hold dear to me at this point. My voting virginity is something I am saving for when my punk heart finally gives out, and I have to succumb to a life of knowing which things are popular, being nice to everyone, and thinking that dubstep is a valid genre of music. A life when I know the Betseys and Nanceys of the world have too far outnumbered the reasonable people.

Though I hope that day never happens, I truly do wish for a day when politics in America doesn’t seem so shitty. For when I’m not a politician isn’t a slogan for why you should vote for someone. For when it’s okay to be different from your neighbors, but have that not affect your lives. And most of all, I am saving my vote for when there is someone I truly believe in, not just a “best of a bad situation,” or an “I guess this’ll work.” I am saving my vote for something and someone I truly believe in. And those agents can go fuck themselves until then.

In the end, was it the drunk guy who was making fun of asses on tv, hoping to find one who made sense that obstructed democracy, or was it the agents who blatantly told that drunk guy not to vote?

 

Age

Age is such an odd thing. This is largely because time is such an odd thing, and because every person is so vastly different. I can generally never stand any type of popular saying, as they are all kitsch and usually so untrue and just laughable. I hate to admit that age is just a number might actually have some validity to it, then. As an avid podcast listener, I am accustomed to listening to random peoples’ points of views on various subjects. Sometimes I will listen to a mildly racist 60-something and think wow, even a middle-schooler should know that this is wrong. And then sometimes I will listen to a twelve-year-old tell his point of view on a situation or topic, and I will be completely ashamed that I cannot construct a sentence as well as some elementary kids.
This all, I believe, boils down to the idea that wisdom and age are completely different. If I spend my entire life inside my home, I’m hardly wise. There’s more to it than that: as someone who is anxious, and in some cases non-confrontational, I am often re-told things I already know by my superiors, or people who are at least older than me, because I don’t usually have the heart to tell them that their knowledge is old news.
“You know, you can print from any computer in the store,” my work’s wine manager once told me. I did not tell him that I had, one week prior, installed the printer software on everyone’s computer, including his.
“Oh, wow. That could be really useful,” I said instead.

My grandmother (I’ve only had one since I can remember remembering things) is only in her late 60s. I say “only” because some of my friends’ parents are already in their 60s. College was never her thing, and she has spent most of her life just getting by at reception jobs or cleaning apartments. Now retired, she spends a great deal of her money on alcohol and cigarettes. She does not, however, pay for cable, have a smart phone, or keep anything near a keen eye on the news. This makes many of my conversations with her difficult at times. “So, Amber and I just saw this really cool movie,” I will try to explain to her. But, she hasn’t seen the movie. If the movie should happen to half-way interest her, she will see it in a year or two, when she can find it in the clearance bin at Safeway. My grandmother has raised three kids, though. She has also supported herself and those kids on her own. She has been through a tornado and come out alive. She’s been mugged, she’s lost people, she has traveled. She has lived for 60-something years.

One of the friends I grew up with is now too busy to talk to me because he is trying to become a doctor. This does not anger me, as he has found what I consider to be a noble pursuit. Before this, my friend had been on the honor role at one of the most prestigious high schools in our state, gotten accepted to one of the most expensive schools in our state at a bashfully low cost, been hailed as the fasted barista in four states, and created his own version of Linux that displayed everything in binary code. He’s never had a full-on romantic relationship, though. He doesn’t like to travel much, and he can become comfortable extremely quickly.

I bring up my friend and my grandmother because I do not know what age has to do with these people in the sense many may think of. Age is generally associated with wisdom. If this is true, though, I know many young people who are much wiser than many old people, even about life experiences. Jut as well, I also know many old people who seem much more fun to spend time with then many young people.

I know that I often feel like my age has gotten away from me, though. Deep down I know it to be irrational, but I always feel like I should have so much more to show for myself at this point. This is the moment in which I like to remember when a friend and I were walking into target, only to find the most popular high school jock we grew up with limping into the store on crutches. He had gotten into a car accident during a DUI and was living with his parents in his childhood home still. It is soon after this thought that I remember that my two favorite musicians had released at least two major studio albums at this point in their lives, after having recorded several on their own.
Then again, most politicians haven’t made any real known contributions until they are at least in their 50s.
But Hendrix, Morrison, and Joplin all died at 27.
Yeah, but Kafka wasn’t even alive when his works were published.
That dick Justin Bieber was like 6 when he got famous.
Tons of poets don’t make any progress, or sometimes even start writing, until old age.

And the internal argument goes on.

This leads me to the conclusion, still, that age really is just a number. Some people make their way in life doing exactly what they want when they are growing up, some people don’t figure out their life until their 80s. I also haven’t seen much correlation in knowledge and wisdom with age, either.
This could also all just be me tying to justify why I don’t have a real job, etc.

Age

Snippet

A snippet of my life. (What a stupid word.)

I sit at the desk I bought for $60 because it was the cheapest and assembled with only half of the required hardware because it was not included and also because I am not quite the handyman I would like to be. I sit in my $30 chair from Walmart, which exists in literally the same exact universe as the desk. The fabric which lines my chair cushion is a cheap sort of of suede knock-off, which leave a perfect impression of my ass cheeks whenever I stand up. At some point I will fall on my ass, let out a giant sigh, and throw this chair into the middle of the street. Right now I am calmed by the candle my lovely girlfriend bought me, which is called “Caribbean Market,” and I wonder if its creators have ever been outside of Minnesota, or wherever they come from. I am also calmed by a couple of beers from after work today. Also by some pot, which creates a much better effect knowing that I bought an ounce for only $50 – a huge discount that gets me higher than the drug, sometimes.

I type on my $200 Windows laptop, which basically runs on a small memory card I had to put in because the computer is cheap and would crash every time I went to write something. I have a backpack, which is one of my most used items. It is black and I bought it on eBay for close to $10 and then waited two months for it to ship from China. When the zipper broke days later, I refused to buy another, as the whole point in having this one is in the price I paid for it. By now, my girlfriend has sewn in a patch from our trip to New Mexico on the left. On the right is a pin from Melanie Martinez, a pop artist whom I admire. The backpack has two more of her pins, and it is held together at the top by a zip-tie. It used to be a knot that I sewed into the backpack to replace the zipper, but I broke that as well. During a panic attack, I also ripped the front pocket off to get to my anti-anxiety medication. If this backpack can be sewn together again, so can I. Or something like that? Sew can I. haha.

Lately, I listen to bands I grew up with like Catch-22 and NoFx and Against Me!, but I will listen to a lot of different things. Not anything, though. No one on Earth listens to everything. I have always adored music, but I listen to podcasts and audiobooks more than anything else these days.

I have worked at the liquor store at which I am now a “beer manager” for about two years. In that time, the last beer manager was arrested for stealing upwards of $100k from the owners. One-hundred thousand dollars. At a liquor store! I really do love the owners that I work for – one Indian woman and one from Wyoming, who were both thrust into the business at the will of their husbands – but sometimes I’m grateful for the last beer manager making such a mess of things and acting like such a terrible person. It makes things much easier for me now, as my basic job is just to order things and then not steal them.

I dropped out of my local community college this semester, because I have genuinely not learned anything in the couple of years that I have spent there. This is not to say that the teachers are unintelligent, but that they seem to hate teaching. In every class I had this semester, all of my teachers took the role of arbitrator, telling the class to talk about something while they would pop in and out with the “correct answers.” I’d rather someone just actually teach me, and so I have been collecting the (not to advertise) Great Courses audiobooks. I can have a trained, more sophisticated professor with better credentials talk at me for like, $30 a semester. Too bad it won’t matter in any part of the real world, but a girl can dream.

If you forced me to make a plan for my life – and I’m pretty sure you’d have to force me – it would be to fix my garbage car and buy a conversion van with my girlfriend, where we can realistically pay around $75 a month for rent and actually do things and be happy. But if you told me that I’d be stuck in this basement with spiders, and terrible neighbors, and no running car for years, I’d still be by her side.

 

Snippet

I’m Sorry, Mr. Bukowski

While walking around the lake again today, (yes, the lake that is in the town which I claim to hate so much. I cannot completely rationalize why I do not fix my car and get out of here instead of always walking around the lake, but I do know that it can be damn comforting sometimes, proving that maybe I don’t hate this place as much as I claim. But, yes, I do) I realized something that makes me somewhat sad: I cannot handle the work of Charles Bukowski. Yeah, I’m 23 and a dropout and a millennial, so I understand that, theoretically, he should be some sort of patron saint for me. Today I began listening to Ham on Rye and was almost immediately turned off. Bukowski begins the novel (which is pretty obviously just his real life) by recounting his first memories; the first is of his coming into consciousness underneath a table. The author recounts being entranced by the table and its cloth, but not by the humans in the room. Charles then remembers his parents fighting, and his grandmother being in the room, who he callously punches in the face. This is all objectively funny, but knowing that it thrust into existence a man who would quickly begin to loathe life and all that it has to offer is just too much for me at this time.

I’m depressed, sure. Socially anxious? Sign me up. But to suggest that even Bukowski was absolutely hopeless directly after birth is not only tragic beyond entertaining, it’s also just wrong.

On Writing was the first work I read by Bukowski, and in all honesty, all I can say I have finished by him. The book is a collection of mostly letters to editors and publishers and what some may consider friends. The book is endlessly funny, and I laughed while reading a book more than I can remember in the last few years.

 

Today at the park I walked passed someone who I had been in class with this semester. This was a class that I had dropped out of, and so I found the sight of him interesting. He is a late 20-something who ​was in the military, was injured, and was now looking for his next step in life. I really do wish this guy – I can’t remember his name at the moment – luck. Not because ‘the world is a hard place’ or anything like that, but because this guy has the most intimidating military in the world under his belt as a reference and is still not progressing much further than I am, it seems. I hate to say it, but I don’t think that Clement Park will in the future be regarded as a breeding ground for genius.

A note to the reader: I misspelled genius on the first try.

 

My attraction to Charles Bukowski is the same one that I have for many artists: the act of taking something mundane and making it interesting. It’s what all of my favorite artists can do so well – David Sedaris, Marc Maron, Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor, Max Bemis, etc. The thing my personal favorites do, opposed to Bukowski, is pull themselves out of their darkest states. That is where the real comedy resides. I’m not trying to put a label on Bukowski, (not that it would ever matter) but the works he writes are closer to tragedy than anything else. To simply dismiss one’s potential as a life of misery is a truly foolish act. This makes my struggle with Bukowski one that is too close to home sometimes, as I too, can often feel hopeless. So the catch twenty-two becomes that I resonate with this hopelessness which makes me feel better, but then I know that I don’t want to feel hopeless because it makes me feel worse.

So, I am sorry to the late Mr. Charles Bukowski, and to the baby-boomers who based their ideals upon the Beats generation, and I am sorry to the countless college students my age who think that ‘YOLO’ might be a serious lifestyle, because that sucks. If I can walk around some stupid, old-person ridden, goose-shit strewn puddle and be constantly amazed at how transformative the act of going outside can be, I am positive that so many, like Mr. Bukowski, have sold themselves short.

People are meant to struggle, and to have things to deal with, and to not be okay all of the time. It’s so trite and kitsch, but if that shit didn’t happen life wouldn’t be worth living. It is often a struggle for me to not break down every day, but I know (and I’d argue that deep down Bukowski knew) that there is a reason behind the bullshit. And even if there isn’t, you hope that there is so that you can try and be a more empathetic, compassionate, understanding human being.

 

As I’m writing this, my roommate’s dog is letting out the most annoying fucking bark I swear to God you have ever heard.

Walking Is Still Honest

I love walking. My car currently doesn’t work, and so I do a lot of it. My work is about a mile and a half away from where I live, which gives me quite a nice walk through the largest local park, which has a big lake in the middle. Most days I go into work at 9 a.m., and the walk is largely empty of pedestrians. When I leave, however, the residents of the assisted-living homes really come out to adventure. On Saturdays especially, there are maybe 60 or so elderly wandering the mile and a half long trail around the lake. The worst part of walking this lake (for anyone who is under the age of 60) is the problem of passing someone. I am not a particularly fast walker, but these old people really keep an inconvenient speed. This morning, for example, I spent maybe half of my walk consoling myself that passing the old man and his assumed grand-daughter was wrong. Instead of passing them, and causing a distraction with my tattered backpack and black skinny-jeans, I stayed behind them. This soon gave me anxiety, as I felt like I was following too close behind them. “What are ya, tryin’ to kidnap my Sally?” I envisioned the old man yelling.

This thought caused me to hunch over and slow my pace even more. Now if someone saw me, I thought they’d assume I was some junkie, trying to wake himself up from last night’s bender with a walk around the park. What a disgrace.

This thought caused me to suddenly perk up. I wanted to speed-walk around these losers, show them who was boss. I wasn’t any junkie, I was on my way to work! Sure, it was at a liquor store, but I just supplied the junkies, I wasn’t one myself.

The town I live in is also not so conducive to walking, and so leaving work proves to be somewhat problematic as well. I could wait at the nearest stop light, which takes an average of 12 minutes to change – or I can, and always do, j-walk across the six-lane street with my after-work beer in hand.

This must make me look like some sort of local degenerate, but I have surprisingly never run into any problems. I am generally listening to an audiobook or music on my walk home, but sometimes I leave my headphones mute – hoping that someone will say something about me, thinking I won’t hear it. At the thought of this, I’ll turn around, call them out in front of their trembling grand-something, and I’ll prove to be the most victorious person at Clement park. What a victory.

Instead of ever actually doing this, I try to smile at everyone along my walk. Having this terrible Rambo-esque narrative in my head at the same time sometimes makes me nervous, however, and I often come off as standoffish. This is also because I am extremely standoffish.

My current after-work routine is to buy two beers, and finish one when I am halfway around the lake. I then walk to my town-favorite port-a-potty, where I know I will always have to urinate. It’s pretty crazy being in that port-a-potty. I know that it’s not going to smell as bad as most port-a-potties because it’s on a “work site” which I pass every day on my way to work, but have never seen anyone actually working in. There is one skinny, long turd sitting on top of the blue water. It’s been there since the first time I used this port-a-potty, and it has always been this way. The toilet is filled mostly with cleaning supplies, and so the smell isn’t too offensive inside. In fact, when I’m in that port-a-potty, and I’m looking up at the almost translucent white plastic that is the roof, I almost feel as though I could be anywhere. My family went to the Grand Canyon when I was little and I still remember the port-a-potties. I can relive that experience whenever I want in this one, specifically. Sometimes I pretend I’m at the Grand Canyon, sometimes it’s in the jungle, sometimes I pretend I’m a construction person in some grandiose Japanese city.

When I get out of the port-a-potty, I have one more smaller park to walk past. This is the park which is directly in the middle of the suburbs. This is the wild west of white, suburban, elderly neighborhoods. A couple days ago I was walking, doing the mute headphones thing, and I watched an elderly man with headphones on, stumbling along the dirt next to the walking path. The woman 20 feet behind him gave out an odd look and so I looked down at my feet. I heard a loud, hollow clank and looked back up. The 60-something with the headphones had ran directly into a light pole. He then tried to make it look like it was just a part of the song he was listening to; something he had choreographed in his basement and was finally trying in public. Okay, when the chorus comes, spin around the light pole. Don’t hold back, Gary, don’t hold back. The woman walking behind him looked embarrassed, almost sad. She looked like someone who would sometime soon have to share a meal with this man.

One of the other things I love about walking is the wildlife. I live in a state where people travel from all over the world to see some of the vast wildlife, but not much beats seeing the geese and ducks be assholes to each other at the park. In the daytime, the geese will often block the sidewalks; in response to almost anything the geese do, the ducks will yell at them. When people come to walk by, the geese hiss and make you feel like a dick for getting some fresh air. I’ve also seen the geese block traffic, on the main roads at that. They’ve done it since I can remember being in a car. Knowing this, shortly after I got my driver’s license, I was speeding down a hill from Taco Bell back to my high school with my two closest friends in the car. It was here that I made my first (and only) decision to kill a goose. Three geese, actually. I saw three geese being assholes, thinking that they could rule the streets of Littleton, and I mowed them down in my 2001 Ford Focus like a madman.

I also like the idea of “going to the beach” at my park and on my local walks. Sometimes I will sit on the goose-shit-ridden shores of the Clement Park lake and think to myself: I’m super glad we got to get out to the beach today.

I have sold alcohol to the many elderly people of Southwest Littleton to know that they are not necessarily my type; I have also grown up with the many dropouts who inhabit the skatepark at Clement, and come into my store routinely to dismiss life and skate the day away just blocks from where they grew up. And I can’t judge, because when I’m at that park, I hold back on my fears and failures and I just walk, and for a few minutes it’s all alright.