Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight), etc.

Listen to this first, if you have time?

I spent the Christmas of 2015 drunk and alone. I remember waking up and mixing my bourbon into the eggnog before grandma could come over. I spent the day quiet. I didn’t feel like talking at dinner. I was alone and I was depressed. I was, however, still talking to Amber. Amber and I worked together at a Payless a ways from my house. We had established between each other our interest in punk music, and that was enough for me to decide I needed to bother her.

I don’t quite remember if I said much on the day itself, though I remember Amber having to heavily console me over the fact that Christmas just happens, and even though it sucks it’s just a day. In a nice way, she was telling me that I was really letting out a lot of information, and probably being more dramatic than I needed to be. I took the hint; we asked each other what we got for presents, and I remember even just that making me feel better.

 

I am an only child. But, you have not killed anyone; you don’t seem like a psycho you might say to yourself, and you are correct: I have not killed anyone and I personally consider empathy to be the greatest virtue. I did not have the same Christmas’s that my friends seemed to enjoy, however. My earliest memory of the holiday is of waking up too early, just after my parents had happened to go to sleep, and finding all of my presents under the tree; among them was the Scooby Doo stuffed animal that I had specifically wanted. I immediately ran to it and was quickly caught by my dad coming down the stairs. “Woah! Santa already came! We’ve gotta wait for everyone else (just mom) to get into the presents, though,” and he put me back to bed. When I woke up in a couple of hours, I found the most amazing list of presents I could imagine.  Everything I had asked for and then some.

Being an only child on Christmas has its downsides, though. I got a video game system and didn’t have anyone to play with, I got a skateboard and didn’t have anyone to ride with, and I’d get a movie and have no one to watch it with. To make things worse, my dad was then absent for a few of my childhood Christmas’s, and I now feel a compulsion to try and make the day as joyful as I can for everyone else, with no regard for myself. It is this mindset that has established my anxiety, my distrustfulness, and my need to try and make as many people happy as possible – this time of year at least, I feel as though my seasonal depression eases up in the summer when there are no major holidays. It is also this mindset that has ruined this holiday for me, from being alone as a child, to feeling guilty for trying to not be alone – it has just always been a shitty day for me.

 

 

Shortly after the Christmas of 2015, I began hanging out with Amber, a lot. We began dating within a few months, and kept becoming closer and spending more time together, until I had completely fallen in love. As the 2016 holiday season neared, I feared the worst: Was my anxiety and depression going to resurface? Was I going to end up drunk and alone again? Would I be able to devote my time to all those who cared about me, equally? I assumed I would let someone down, and as the 25th grew closer, I knew I would let everyone down. For most of December I became short, needy, irritable, and broken. I lost my head in the bullshit that is American consumerism. I felt as though my just-above-minimum-wage job would cover the expenses for shit I wanted to buy everyone – fancy beers for the guy roommates, fancy wine for the girl roommate, a record for my best friend, art supplies for my girlfriend – and when I was wrong, I couldn’t handle it. I got into arguments with everyone. If a friend would invite me to lunch, my response would be “Is money everything to you? What is wrong with you?” When they’d explain that they just wanted to hang out with me, and would even cover my meal, I would become even more internally upset. I can do this on my own. I can do this on my own! I can’t do this on my own.

But then, something strange happened. Christmas day rolled around and I didn’t want to jump out of a window. The opposite, even. I remember waking up next to Amber and being excited for the holiday. Staring into her eyes as we woke up together, I was excited in the same way I was when I was little. Everything was ahead of me for the day, I wanted to make her happy and I knew I was going to at least come pretty close. Not because of the presents, but because of the thought. I genuinely couldn’t afford to buy much of anything, and so all of my presents had to rely upon the basis of knowing her intimately, of remembering our favorite moments together. What I got her specifically does not matter, but the fact that I made her feel loved, and that she made me feel loved is what matters.

The loud, and sometimes white-trash-tending roommates we lived with at the time would be gone for the entire day, and probably the night, too. We were free to be ourselves, to eat what we wanted and drink what we wanted, watch what we wanted and say what we wanted. It was that moment of having our own, complete space together, knowing that our only jobs at the moment was to make the other person happy that made everything so incredibly nostalgic, freeing, and reassuring. Amber and I had seldom had these moments together, when it was only her and I in a space that we were allowed to call ours. I had never in my life been in a place that I had worked together with someone for, experiencing it being filled with love and care and acceptance. It was a feeling that people live for it keeps them alive. I know that it is now on my list of reasons to be alive – not just for Amber, but for what we will build together. For the spaces which we will make ours. Places that will be closed off to the world, and even if they did see it, would never understand what they were looking at, because it was not their world. Every person makes his place in life, and this is mine, with Amber.

 

And now, as Christmas 2017 draws near, I only know more and more that a space with her is all I want in life. To be with her, and watch her do so many things, and help her when our heads are awful, and to feel like I will never, ever be alone again.

I know that my neurosis far outstretches hers, but she takes care of me any way. And I know that I am going to get better with her. We are going to grow together, and live more together, and become something even better than we are now. I know that our lives aren’t destined for mediocrity in this, or any suburb.

 

So merry Christmas to anyone who is struggling, to those who need it most, and to those that have not yet found out what they are waiting for. In 2017, it is easy for posts like this to go by the wayside, or for strangers to assume that this is something else manufactured, but it is not. From someone who has found a true home in someone who is my confidant, my best friend, my help at all times, and the love of my life, I wish anyone who can manage to read through all of this a very merry Christmas.

And I love you, Amber. Merry Christmas.

 

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Dead Geese and their Secret Society

I’m not sure why I have never seen a dead goose. There are hundreds in the park I walk through every day. Amber just sent me an article about how thousands of Canadian geese are moving to Colorado this year, too. I am positive that I have seen literally millions of geese in my time on Earth, but I find it almost mysterious that I have never seen a dead one. That is, aside from the ones which are presumably dead that I hit with my car in high school. In that case, I have only seen a goose’s last moments.

Deep down, I know that coyotes and foxes have got to be the coroners of the goose world: a goose will parish, and one of them will quickly swoop in to dispose of the corpse. This cannot possibly happen in the daytime, however. Sitting there, drinking my beer and hoping something interesting will happen, I could not possibly miss a mammal preying upon a dead goose. I just wouldn’t. Foxes are my favorite animal, and coyotes look enough like foxes that I would also stare them down, wishing that society would not frown upon our friendship.

“Why don’t you just Google it?” Amber asks me, in reference to the goose deaths.

“Then what would I have to write about?” I respond.

I still have not Googled it, and I refuse to. I currently maintain the belief that geese uphold their own society. Just the other day, I saw hundreds of geese in the park by my house; the Labrador in front of me scared them off. I then saw hundreds of geese looking for their herd. I saw geese smack into each other in mid-air and continue on their path like nothing had happened. I saw geese stop on the ground, look around towards the air, and take off in the correct direction of their home flock. I have seen a goose shit on a person who has previously made a conscious effort to scare off an entire flock. It is based on these facts that I believe the goose society exists; this, and the fact the I have not seen a dead one of these assholes.

I can only assume, based on the lives (of geese) I have so far seen, that the geese will drag the newly-dead goose to a secret location. This location is one in which the fellow geese will constantly bark at (what the fuck do geese do – quack? squawk?). Growing up, I can remember my mom telling me that a goose “yelling at me” was a sign that it had baby goose nearby. I have got to call bullshit at this point, as the geese “yell at me” year round. I vividly recall summers in which I had to wait for geese on my street to pass before I could drive my car; springs where the cursed bird would drive my dog (at the time) crazy, my dog assuming it could fly as well; autumns filled with geese ruining the set-up of the local park light display by outnumbering the workers by at least 20:1; and now, this winter, a supposed twenty thousand of these giant, flying rats has inhabited my state, and the geese have – in every one of these scenarios – yelled at me the entire time.

This is where I should be clear: I have seen a lot of dead animals in my lifetime. This is not something I boast about, it is just an unfortunate fact. I have seen dead raccoons, crows, dogs, cats, deer, moose, rabbits, etc., etc., though I have never seen a dead goose. Not even for a second. Not even out of the corner of my eye, as some mysterious robed figure pulls the dead bird away for a secretive ritual sacrifice. Not even then have I seen a dead goose.

“The Office” had a Christmas episode in which Dwight (one of the show’s main characters) claims that he’s found a dead goose and would like to cook it for a Christmas meal. Just as I was forced to do with my mother, I had to (at this point) sever my ties with any advice I had considered even remotely helpful in this episode. A mindset in which one believes that dead geese can be seen by human eyes is one that cannot be trusted.

What must happen is that coyotes and foxes do, indeed, dispose of the geese’s corpses, (the possessive plural of goose really is geese’s, how dumb is that?) but that this activity must happen in a certain fashion. It is my estimate that the secret goose society, which appears to fly off out of nowhere, is actually controlling its personal image as a species that will live forever. The random taking-off of the flocks is their clever way of hiding that one of their own has perished, and that they are surrendering him or her to the circle of life.

Geese are also just shady. They’re the only bird that seems to make a conscious effort to hid their deaths. Geese are also the only bird I am aware of that will not back down to a fight. I haven’t directly challenged one of these birds to a physical match, but I have had them hiss at me for coming more within more than ten feet of them. Any other bird would fly away, but I know that the goose would attack. My grandmother on my father’s side is a first-hand witness. In her old age, she had developed dementia. Through the horrific illness, she still knew that she loved me though, as my only memory of her is of scaring off geese so that we could sit and have a chat at her nursing home. I was maybe five at the time, and she knew in her old age and deep wisdom, that geese were up to no good.

I do not bother the geese these days. In fact, I make a point to not scare them off as I walk through the fields they inhibit on a daily basis. Now more than ever, I have an appreciation for this bird. The goose is a bird that will not take any shit from anyone, will protect its young against a perceived threat that is at least five times its size, doesn’t let a mid-air collision slow it down from hanging out with its friends, and can move to a new location hundreds of miles away from its home and fit in just fine. Perhaps I have a lot to learn from this love/hate relationship I have with Denver’s 20,000 new inhabitants.

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

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