Check out my other blogs: Life, etc. and Chrisfit

Friday, December 31, 2010

Worst. Gap Year. Ever.

I started this blog one year ago today and, if you go back and read that first post, I had begun the year with a kind of cautious optimism. For me that's about as optimistic as you're going to get. And indeed, I begin 2011 with what can better be described as "is there anything lower than pessimism?" Going into 2010 I was expecting to turn my life around at least a little bit. And during that year I battled my latent alcoholism, coped with depression, and struggled through a job I hated, all through a haze of painful isolation. The year had its high notes of course, I joined a gym I truly love and at least physically, I have improved considerably from a year ago; I got to see my sister marry to a very cool guy; and I travelled through southeast Asia for three weeks in what was an...interesting journey. If you were a normal, well-adjusted person you would probably weigh those three positives as much more important than my negatives. I, however, have chosen to view this year as a failure. How is it a failure? Because it failed to live up to nebuluously defined spiritual and mental goals. So fuck you, 2010. You can go fuck yourself in your fucking ass.

As for 2011, I'm not holding out any hopes. In that way it'll be pretty much like every other year of my life and hopefully it will be more difficult to be disappointed. I'm starting out with a brand new job at an independent bookstore which is a very good place to start. Will I return to school? God, I wish I had an answer for that. I want to, truly I do. But there's this wall in my heart that's keeping me from it. It's something I'll have to discuss another time. I have every expectation of keeping up the good parts of 2010, however. I will continue to write, in fact hopefully I'll write more than just this blog. I've recently picked up my guitar again and will hopefully continue playing weekly on that. In the next year I look forward to continuing Krav Maga, and to pick up more crossfit classes so I'll be prepared in 2011 to take my level 3 krav test and Warrior Dash in June. Also in June, I am expected to become an uncle for the first time. And lastly, here's hoping I will get to travel some more. Hopefully Spain, maybe even China. The world is my oyster. And I fucking hate oysters.

Yeah, that about sums it up. What fresh hell awaits?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Here We Go Again

I try to avoid writing blog entries on or around major holidays for one major reason: I hate most holidays. None more so than Christmas. Now before you go ahead and call me a Scrooge or a Grinch or some other fictional character of yuletide fame, let me say that I'm not out petitioning to get Christmas banned and I don't go out of my way to bring down others' holiday cheer. Like many other things in this world, I am perfectly capable of seeing the appeal in Christmas, I just don't care for it. I'm sure Christmas is great, really. I mean, plenty of people like it, right? Love it even. Its just not for me.

And I find its getting worse. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I'm getting older and Christmas doesn't have the appeal anymore as it did during my childhood. I certainly don't go downstairs in the morning to see piles upon piles of all the cool toys I'd been eyeing recently. Nowadays all we have under the tree are a handful of books, maybe a dvd or two and giftcards in colorful little envelopes. All wonderful things of course, and almost all things I'd been wanting but I think I miss the visual of it. The excitement and wonder of childhood Christmas mornings. And more than anything else, I just feel lonely.

As I wrote not too long ago, I'm currently in the stage where I'm feeling rather content with my family. I'm closer to my sister than I've ever been in my life and her husband feels like a close friend. I'm not happy exactly, but I feel familial for probably the first time in my life. I just can't help but wish I had something else. I wish I had someone to care about. I kinda wish I had someone to worry about me when things turned dark. Sometimes I miss my self-destructive behavior, it made me feel less lonely. And even though I'll be spending all day tomorrow with my family, I can't help but feel totally alone.

Sorry. Have a happy Christmas, all of you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Lie

There's this lie that I tell people a lot. Basically whenever they ask me that question that I need to lie about, because, of course, I can't answer that truthfully to them. I mean I never tell the real answer to anyone, I just can't. I actually can't remember the last time I truthfully answered that question. So, what I'm saying is, I've been wondering lately if I tell that lie enough and I never ever say that truth out loud, maybe that lie will just become the truth. Can I change my own past that way?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dramatis Personae

So yesterday and then this morning I had really been wanting to write something kind or sentimental or at the very least professionally respectful in the memory of my brother-in-law Mike's father who was taken off life support on Sunday following a stroke. I would have put up a picture of the two of them from Mike and Debbie's wedding and then I'd have a caption with his name and the years of his birth and death. The only problem is I really don't know anything about this man. I've literally met him on two seperate occasions: the wedding of his son and my sister and the rehearsal dinner the previous night. I don't even remember his first name. And I certainly don't know what year he was born. In the end my attempted obituary would have concluded with this:
Something Hayes ??? - 2010
And I genuinely mean no offense by this, although I realize it may come across as flippant. Really I love Mike, even if he hadn't married my sister I would still consider him a great friend to me. I felt grateful and priveleged to be chosen as a member of his wedding party along with his brother and honored to give a toast at their wedding saying what a great friend he is to me, what a great husband he would be, and how proud I was to have him in our family.
And, just like in my wedding toast, I wandered a little off topic there. What I'm trying to say is my brother-in-law and good friend, Michael recently lost his father and I wanted to say something nice about him but I know almost nothing about him except that he was incredibly alcoholic. I know plenty about Mike's mother and have met her on several occasions. Nearly every story I've heard about his childhood and adolescence involves his mother. So from what I can glean out of all this (and what I've been directly told) the two of them were rather estranged. Their relationship was cordial but it struck me that their wasn't actually much history between Mike and his father. Like me and mine. So I began to wonder what my reaction would have been had this been the loss of my father. Would I, could I be apathetic?
But no, that's not fair. Though our situations are similar at a glance, the details are starkly different. Though it is true that my father was largely absent through my childhood to the point that it hadn't occurred to me that my parents had become divorced until years after the fact. I grant him that he has made an effort to take an interest in my life over the last few years and has generously taken me on several trips with him, something that would have been unthinkable from him when I was young. I have him to thank for teaching me how to really hike, and for taking me to Peru and Yosemite and for his continued efforts to take us both to Tibet. And while our interactions together are still typically stifled and horribly uncomfortable, we have been improving and I guess thats something. And while I visit him only on occasion and usually only on these big hiking trips, we otherwise keep up a mutually enforced silence, talking to each other only through forwarded emails from my mom. He does, however, talk considerably more with my sister, for which, again, I give him credit. So yes, my history with my father has never been healthy and even now is far from perfect but I respect him today more than I ever have before in my life, not because of how he treats me, but because of how he treats my mother and my sister. He has changed a lot in the many, many years since he was a daily figure in my life and my opinion of him has gone up and down but today he is at least a father. He's my father and I'm glad. I hope that answered whatever the hell my question was originally.
As for my mother, I will openly admit that when she joined my gym late this spring I was incredibly upset. True she wasn't take any of the same classes as me but still, it was MY thing, MY gym, I found it! And being in a general state of incredibly upset during the time, I took this rather innocent intrusion hard. Recently, however, I've ceased to mind this fact. In fact, somehow over all this time she has become considerably more of a staple at the gym than I have. She is actively involved on the forum and their facebook pages (curse you, facebook!) Of course some of this has to do with her being a considerably more friendly and outgoing person than I am but STILL!
I have gym friends too, mom!
Anyways, it may have something to do with how healthy she's gotten, or maybe how happy it's made her not only to be so much more fit and healthy than she's ever been but to be a part of a welcoming and friendly community. Point being, I'm really proud of her. She's really dedicated to this, she's lost 50 pounds since starting and she sees no reason to stop anytime soon. In fact, come this next May she'll be joining me and a score of other crazy gym members for Warrior Dash! Yes, this, is what she plans to run and complete only a month before becoming a grandmother.
Oh yes, last but not least my list of family issues. My sister and Mike are expecting their first child. And while I don't want to take anything away from them, I will. Because it's my damn blog after all and that's what it's for. So I will be an uncle. I shouldn't be that weirded out by it, after all, plenty of people I know have been uncles or aunts at younger ages than I and two of my closest friends will soon be celebrating their child's first birthday. So I shouldn't feel weird about it. But I do. I'll be Uncle Chris. God, the thought alone makes me shudder.
Does this look like someone who is ready to be an Uncle?
Actually he looks like a pretty awesome Uncle.
This post started off a little sad and morbid and ended, much much later than I'd expected, on a strangely happy(?) note. No, maybe not happy exactly. But I guess what I'm trying to say is, all things considered, as glum and uninspired and unmotivated as I feel, for the first time ever I feel like I have a family. And, if nothing else, at least I'm pretty content with them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It Has Been Too Long

It has been too long. It has been much too long for you to still be here with me. I've done everything I can think of to discover your insidious little hiding spot and to expel you but, alas, to no avail. First, thinking that you were residing in my heart, I opened up my veins and tried to bleed you out. But you were not in my blood and now I am left with the scars to remind me of my failure. Perhaps in my gut, I thought. Maybe you were that pit I felt deept in my stomach everytime I thought of your face. But even after expelling all the contents of my stomach and I had become weak and ill you remained with me. And then I realized, of course, you were hidden deep within the confines of my brain. So I tried to write you out. I wrote. And I wrote. Pages upon pages. Essays, stories, poems. Pages upon pages upon pages. Every conceivable word combination and phrase I transferred from my mind to paper until there was not a single thought left to think. My mind was empty and broken. But still you were with me. Still I felt your presence somewhere inside of me. I realized then the one hiding place left that I had not searched. I realized then that you had buried yourself deep within my very soul. You were in there, folded away in some dark recess in that most untouchable part of my being. And so, lacking guidance or clarity, I dove into my own soul, hacking away at every loose bit of spirit and meaning that stood between myself and you. I cut and I slashed and I burned my way deeper and deeper until, at the very edge of sanity, I stood at the mouth of a cave. With nothing left to lose, I charged blindly into the abyss until I found you. I found you right where you had always been, where I had left you chained and manacled so long. For fear of losing you I had chained you to this cave, in the deepest, darkest part of my soul. So that you would always be with me. And then when you cried and you begged to be set free so that we both could live, when I could take that no more I had left. I left you in the cave and my mind, unable to conceive of what I had done, destroyed all memory of it. Yet still you had remained here, all this time, calling to me from the pit of my soul, begging still to be set free. Having found you again, I know I cannot let you go. I need you, but I cannot be here with you. I cannot see you like this. So I turn and leave. I leave the cave and I return to the world and I forget. But still you're with me. You've been with me too long and I cannot find you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tea & Wine: A Christmas Carol

Christmas leapt upon me from out of a dark alley like a filthy street tough. What did it want? My money and my dignity. Left with little recourse, I surrendered both with only a whimper.

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m sitting in the kitchen, a half-empty bottle of wine sits before me, backlit from the light off the stove. The only other light in the room comes from my laptop, upon which I am desperately seeking distraction and entertainment. In the end, I find myself scrolling page after page of pornography, the lewd and disgusting photos wash over me, provoking neither arousal nor interest in the least. On the other side of the kitchen my electric kettle whistles indignantly, growing louder and louder as I ignore its presence. I pour myself another glass of wine.
The clock strikes midnight, down the street I can hear a church bell chiming solemnly its twelve chimes, and I shut my laptop preparing to go to bed. I’m not even halfway up the stairs to my bedroom when I hear a knock at the door. No. It’s fucking Christmas and its past midnight. I’m not answering the fucking door. I find that the wine has made my head exceptionally heavy and its becoming increasingly difficult to carry an increasingly uncooperative body up the stairs. Again a knock at the door. The banging echoes inside my head and I have to sit down on the stairs or risk collapsing. “Go. The fuck. Away!” I shout at the door. The knocking ceases and the pain in my head begins to subside. Instead I hear what sounds like a key in the lock. And then I can hear the unmistakable creaking sound of my door opening. “What the fuck?” From my perch halfway up the stairs I can see the lights in the kitchen turn on followed by a rustling in the pantry and the sound of a man grumbling under his breath.
Feeling emboldened by the night’s alcohol consumption, I stumble heavily back down the stairs and towards the kitchen, entirely prepared to drunkenly fight this late night intruder. And just like any good television drama, I come around the corner to find the stranger half hidden behind the door of the refrigerator. He continues to curse more or less inaudibly as he rummages through the contents of my refrigerator. The contents which were, I can honestly admit, quite paltry and disappointing. Even my plans for Christmas Eve dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup had been foiled by a rather pathetic lack of both bread and soup. Apparently having realized this himself, my intruder abruptly stands up, slams shut the refrigerator door, and turns to look directly at me.
Leaning against a door jamb for stability and wielding an empty wine bottle, I feel rather more intimidating than in reality I am. Nonetheless, I am struck dumb the second I see the face of my intruder. For it is my face. Well except that the face staring back at me looks considerably younger, considerably healthier, and sports a fashionably trimmed beard. But the nose is the same, the eyes are the same blue, the mouth is curled into the same sarcastic grin and hides the same crooked teeth. Altogether he strikes a slightly younger, less impoverished doppelganger. “Merry Christmas,” he says cheerfully and extends a hand towards me. I’m not quite sure just how drunk I am at the moment so, without options, I extend my hand to shake. Instead he briskly grabs the empty wine bottle from my other hand. He makes the same face I make when I’m vaguely disappointed and says, “You couldn’t leave some for a brother?”
I’ve never before been so drunk that I’ve actually hallucinated before so I’m not really sure how to deal with this whole situation. So I just shake my head vigorously and reply, “Did you just say ‘brotha’?”
“I actually said ‘brother’ but the idea is the same, I suppose.” Putting the wine bottle down he walks away from me and into the pantry, where he continues to move things around, “Haven’t you got another bottle around here somewhere?”
“No, that was my only one.” At this point I feel like having an open and honest conversation with my doppelganger is the only rational option. “I didn’t want to spend my whole Christmas holiday completely trashed.”
“Bah!” he shouts, half annoyed and half sarcastic (just like me!). “That just won’t do at all. Come on. We’re hitting the town.” From the bowl on the counter he pulls out my car keys. From the closet by the door he pulls out my coat and tosses it to me.
“Wait. No. This is just too much. I’m not going out ‘hitting the town’ with my drunken hallucination in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve!”
Finally, that seemed to catch him off guard. “Your drunken hallucination? Is that what you think this is?” Not knowing how else to respond I stand there and nod dumbly. Shockingly he begins to laugh. In fact he laughs so hard he has to sit down to control himself. “No, my good man. This is not a hallucination, drunken or otherwise.” He gestures to the stool across from himself and, still dumb and mute, I sit down. “I’m your Ghost of Christmas Past.”
“You’re gonna have to run that one by me again.”
“Ghost of Christmas Past. You know the Christmas Carol? Dickens?”
“Okay, well you don’t have to be snarky. Anyways, I’m your Ghost of Christmas Past and I’m here to teach you the meaning of Christmas. So grab your fucking coat, we’re going to the bar.”
Your author, full of Christmas cheer and Christmas sangria

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Letters from Mars

  • What makes you happy?
  • What is failure? What is success?
  • Create something you can be proud of.
  • What can you do to make yourself happy?
  • What can you change? What can others help you to change?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? How do you get there?
  • You know those super scary really important things? Get off your ass. Do one.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Long Time Coming

I cut and paste. Random words, phrases, sentences, whole pages of text even. Over and over I do this. Cut. Paste. Cut. Paste. Cut. Paste. Like a Homeric poem in the style of a ransom note. Cut. Paste. Where once this would've been accomplished with scissors and glue, today it is as simple as ctrl+x, ctrl+v. Cut. Paste.

I find life to be utterly baffling. What is this human life to me? Its some bizarre farce of what I think life should be. Call me naive or pessimistic, optimistic even, but it all just seems wrong to me. Its all so wrong.

I know I won't be sleeping again tonight. Its three in the morning. Outside, snow continues to fall, silently accumulating on our deck chairs. Through the window I can feel the cold press against me.

He said he couldn't decide.

I waste hours here; nursing a long tepid cup of tea and watching strangers pass by, always diverting my gaze half a second before their eyes can meet mine.

That song from the old Coca Cola commercials is playing through the speakers. "I'd like to teach the world to sing." Its cheesiness makes me want to scream. I scream.

I pinch myself to know I'm awake, only to find to my surprise that I feel nothing at all.

The staircase climbed up and away into the sun.

I sang to you of my undying love until my voice grew hoarse. And when you asked me for a whisper I could no longer muster the strength. So you grew weary of me and left.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Site News

Alright, listen up, gang.
 If you're really observant about the layout of my blog, you'll notice that I've changed a couple of things which I hope will make it a bit easier to read. I lightened up the font and increased the size. Okay, that's pretty much it.
The other thing I actually wanted to discuss in this post was that I've been going through the blogger stats for this blog and I noticed a couple of interesting things. Number one: by far the leading referring url to this blog is facebook. Now, as you're all well aware I'm not on facebook, which means that someone else must have linked my blog on their facebook page, right? I'm just curious where this came from, I just find it interesting is all. Secondly, someone came to this blog through a google search for the terms "taekwondo sexy her foot". Not only am I baffled that anyone would ever search for such a random assortment of words but that somehow the google results for all that nonsense would bring them to my humble blog. Lastly, I wanted to point out that the most viewed blog post of mine for the last month is a story I wrote nearly a year ago called "A Winter's Tale #1" so, again out of mere curiousity, what has been bringing folks to that post in particular? If any of you readers have answers to any of these questions, please leave a comment and let me know. It's always nice to feel like people are actually reading these words.
And with that, I'll see you all in December.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Nielsen, dead today at the age of 84

I was creeping on various people's twitter pages earlier this evening when I saw people tweeting that Leslie Nielsen had died. For awhile I was sure it was a hoax. One of those absurdisms that has come to define today's media thanks to instant notifications, social networking, on their effects on the news. Alas, I was to learn that it was, in fact, true. Leslie Nielsen, actor, was dead. I hate that this is how I found out. Leslie Nielsen is perhaps the first actor I could identify by name and face. My childhood memories are filled with evenings watching his movies with my parents. While the Naked Gun series is absolutely brilliant (and perhaps the greatest performance by OJ Simpson) and Spy Hard was a double whammy of my childhood heroes (Nielsen and Weird Al? Awesome) the greatest is by far Airplane! It is one of the first "adult" films I remember from my youth and remains one of my favorite comedies. It is the definition and pinnacle of the spoof film. It does to disaster movies what today's spoofs can barely gesture towards (Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, and their ilk? Fuck them). One of the greatest things you can do in your life, and yes I'm absolutely recommending this, is get together with a group of your funniest friends and watch Airplane! together. If they haven't seen it before, all the better.

Leslie Nielsen died of complications from pneumonia in a hospital in Florida. He was with his friends and family.

That last part made me think that there must be a lot of bodies found out in the everglades, half eaten by alligators and the like. Don't you think that would make a good reality show? I mean, Alaska's State Troopers get their own tv show. Wouldn't one where you watch Florida cops going around finding chewed bodies in bloated alligators be even better?

And finally, when I wrote the title to this post it reminded me of that old SNL skit where Dana Carvey was Tom Brokaw and they had him reading prepared obituaries for Gerald Ford as they got more and more ridiculous. That doesn't have to do anything, but its a really funny skit.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo, Doo Doo Doo

The title is me singing "Linus & Lucy" by the way. I was watching the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special.

I had meant to write a run-up to Thanksgiving post, then I was going to write an actual Thanksgiving post. And...then it was going to be a review of my Thanksgiving. So now its sunday night and I'm finally updating. And really I've been putting off all these Thanksgiving themed posts not so much out of laziness (though that certainly had a lot to do with it) but that Thanksgiving really doesn't mean anything to me. I realize of course, that after watching Charlie Brown I didn't come away with the appropriate moral reaction I was supposed to, but whatever. I get it that Thanksgiving is the time that you spend time with friends and family and that this when you should be mindful of all your own blessings. It is the time to be thankful for all that in your life which you typically forget is special. I understand that much, and despite all the cliche and all the commercialism and gluttony and so on, and that Thanksgiving can be a meaningful and beautiful holiday.

My problem with all this is tha I've never had that Thanksgiving. Due to a series of unexpected circumstances, I spent this Thanksgiving with my mother, my sister, her husband, my aunt and her seven year old daughter. This was the largest, most familial Thanksgiving I've had in years. For nearly a decade prior my Thanksgiving has consisted of me, my mom, and my sister (starting two years ago her boyfriend/fiancee/husband has been a part of it). As to my being thankful for the things and people in my life, its something I've always had trouble with and so its something that I remind myself of often. I find it a fleeting sensation but a near-constant mental exercise for me so in that way Thanksgiving holds little sway.

Finally, all this served to remind me of my late paternal Grandfather. He passed away five years ago and it pained me, amidst all this onerous ponderousness that I've given very little thought to him recently. Which is a shameful fact as, likely more than any other man, he helped shape me to be the person I am today. After my parents' divorce, through almost my entire highschool career, he lived with us and was one of the most positive influences in my life during that time. More than anyone else, he helped to nurture and promote my intellectuctual curiosity and my interest in music and the arts. He was a brilliant man, the friendliest person I've ever met, and has one of the coolest life stories of anybody I've ever known. I watched him become more and more ill over the years as I prepared to leave home, and I'll never forget the call I received late one autumn night when my mom told me he had died. He was like the father that I was missing in my life and without his presence I shudder to think what I would've become in high school. I consider it a great tragedy that he never got to see the man I became: the tortured genius, the vagabond, the reserved comic actor (he was alive only long enough to see my first theatre performance). What I would do for some of his advice today.

This year, as always, I am thankful for the friends and family that I have lost along the way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meditations on the Stoic Principles

-So you just got back from your trip?
-Yeah, I was in Southeast Asia for three weeks
-Wow, that sounds like a really good time.
-Yeah, it was, I was good. Yeah. No, it was fine.
-You don't sound too convinced.
-No, it was good. Really. It's know how I am. I get unhappy being someplace so I pack up and leave only to find that I can't stand this new place either. It's happened to me over and over and over again, on both a large scale and a small scale. It was my reasoning for wanting to get out of Ohio for the last ten years, then when I finally do get out of Ohio, I can't stand it and I come running back. No matter where I am, I'm not happy there and I want to be somewhere else.
-Yeah, I've kinda noticed that undercurrent. So, tell me, you travel alot yes?
-You could say that. I mean, I'm not like the Secretary of State but for the kind of life I've lived, yeah, I've had a few travel experiences.
-More than average.
-Yeah, certainly.
-Okay, so tell me, what's your favorite place in the whole world?
-I'm sorry?
-Of all the places you've been, domestic, foreign, in school, outside of school, everything. What's the one place where you feel most happy? Most safe, to use your own terminology. What's the one place you would go back to over and over again without ever getting tired of it?
-Think about it for a second.
-It's going to sound stupid.
-Coming from you, I highly doubt that.
-Haha. Pardon me? Like your bed at home?
-Not necessarily. Just, like, my bed, or any bed really. Well, I mean like any bed that I can call mine, even if just for a night. Not like the bed at the showroom at Ikea or something.
-Haha, ok, I get that. You feel safe in the warmth and comfort of your own bed.
-It's not just that. I mean...I don't really even understand what I mean. This is stupid, I don't know why I said "bed". That's retarded.
-I think you know exactly why you said that. Slow down, just say whatever you're trying to say.
-It's like, I had this girlfriend a long time ago. We almost never went out and did things, we just liked to lay in bed together. Not even like make out or sex or anything. Like just take naps. Or just lay there and hold hands and not move. It was our favorite thing to do together. So yeah, I guess bed is where I feel safe or whatever but its not even that conscious. And it doesn't have anything to do with sex. It doesn't even have to do with sleeping. I mean I eat in bed, I read in bed, I watch movies in bed. Hell, I'm writing this right now laying in bed.
-Writing what?
-What? Nothing. Look, when I first became depressed I spent all my time in bed. I had been living in DC for about two months when this all really started. Any second I wasn't in class I was in bed. I went to the store and bought those heavy duty light blocking curtains. I bought all 5 seasons of The Office on dvd and I would just lay there in bed, completely ignorant of the time of day and watch dvds. I had horrible insomnia at the time and would sometimes go three days without sleeping. Just laying in bed in the dark.
-That's a very normal way of expressing your depression.
-Yeah but that was before it even got bad. I mean when things got really bad for me, like my last month in DC and my first couple months back home when I wasn't just depressed, I was distraught. I couldn't go near my bed. It had lost everything that it had meant to me. Whatever the hell that was. I slept, when I slept, on the floor. When I was upset I laid on the floor and screamed or cried or whatever. It was like some kind of self-imposed exile from my own bed. From my only refuge.
-And now?
-And now...well, now its a bit like those first couple months in DC. I'm not really feeling comfortable anymore. I thought the vacation would make a nice, well, vacation, I guess. But I didn't come back feeling any different. I'm still uncomfortable, I'm still afraid. I'm spending alot of time in bed these days because, I don't know why really, but I guess because when I lay in bed, in the dark, time stands still. All those scary parts of the future I don't want to face or deal with, just stay there in the future. And as long as I stay there in bed I don't have to deal with my responsibilities.
-You don't have to be a grown up.
-Yeah. I guess.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It's going to take me a long, long time to go through and sort all my pictures. Name them, you know, etc. So here's a couple of highlights. Also, that last post came out a little pessimistic, which is sorta what I was going through because, you know, I'm not lying, it was a weird trip. Travelling that long completely alone makes you feel very alone. Considering that a constant feeling of isolation is what I'm going through pretty much all the time, it was a weird trip. But as I'm sure you can understand, it was a good trip. Without further ado, Highlights:

Also, thoughts on the beard?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homecoming or "Second Verse, Same as the First"

As I approach the end of this year's adventure, it makes me ponder several things, many of which I'll not be able to put into words but which float around my head like wet vapor anyways. The first of these, though, is whether or not I accomplished my goals for this trip. And to that, I have to say that three weeks later, I'm still not sure what it is I had hoped to accomplish.  My most practical and secular goal of this trip was to go abroad. Somewhere, anywhere. And to that extent, obviously I've succeeded. I've travelled abroad annually for the last eight years and to have not done so this year would have been very damaging to me. However, in a more real, less tangible sense, I used this trip as an opportunity to escape. To escape the mundane world of Delaware, Ohio; a distasteful job; and a life that, at present, lacks direction or focus. And, I suppose, I accomplished that, if only for a few weeks. The unpleasantness that weighs on me now is that nothing will have changed. My job will remain distasteful, my town will remain what it is, and my life will continue to be unfocused and lost. So, what have I really gained in all this?

I thought perhaps by travelling, by returning to something I've long known I enjoyed, I could escape some of the dread and fear that has nagged at me for more than a year now. But I find that halfway across the world that same dread and those same fears followed me. The nausea of day to day life remains with me in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam and all the troubles, though further away, remain a preoccupation for me. They still stand in my way of, well of whatever it is I think I'm supposed to be feeling. By the time I get home the best lesson I've have learned out of all this is that I can't run from my problems. Which, though a useful one, is not particularly palatable to me.

Finally, I have to say that while I absolutely enjoyed this trip; it was an adventure from start to finish one that I'll always remember fondly; I must say it was the least fun I've ever had on an overseas trip. Now it's times like this where I have to carefully define my words. Fun is something we think we all understand but apparently my idea of "fun" like so many other of my ideas, is more nuanced and complicated than that of others. I had fun. I cannot deny it, I did fun things and met some fun people, and overall I had a good time. But yet, there was a feeling during these last three weeks of, merely going through the motions, if that makes any sense to you. I felt no real sense of excitement or premature expectation of enjoyment. Like a bueracrat, I went to the travel agencies, chose my trips, paid, duly attended my trips with all the necessary pleasure and joy that was expected of me and then came back. Rinse. Repeat. It's difficult to explain. It was fun, yes, of course and wasn't. Ah well. Que sea, sea. What was, was.

Now I return home to the same, same, same. Just with one more adventure behind me. One more thing I don't have to look forward to. Hahaha, if that isn't the most pessimistic way of looking at a vacation possible, then I just don't what is. I do look forward to a real bed again. So at least I have that. Wish me luck, its a long plane ride ahead of me. I love you all. Goodnight.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


It's an interesting question I get sometimes. I'm traveling alone so I tend to meet other individuals or small groups on my trip and hang out with them. Then, when it's time to part they always ask the same thing: "Are you on facebook?" Now this is a silly question for two reasons: first, everyone and their grandmother is on facebook, the fucking queen of England is on facebook so its not a real question; the real question is "hey, will you write down your full name for me so I can find you and friend you on facebook?" which is cool, I mean that's what facebook is for, but really just ask that question. The second reason its a silly question is - I'm not on facebook. The look of shock on people's faces when I have to tell them that is of great interest to me every time I see it. After all, like I said, everyone is on facebook, the last thing they expect when they ask that question is "No, actually I'm not".

Now there is a reason I bring all this up in my first and only post from Thailand (oh, I'm currently in Thailand by the way). Facebook is a wonderful thing for travelers; it allows them to stay connected with friends and family at home, it allows them to share their exciting stories and pictures from their adventures all over the world, and it allows them to create and maintain their connections with people they meet while traveling. In fact of the dozen or so people in this internet cafe with me right now, more than half that I can see are currently on their facebook page. Now I have no problem with any of this, as I've said before, facebook is perfectly fine, I have no real beef with it. I don't care that people are on, I don't really even care that people spend every waking moment of their lives on it. There are better ways to spend your life, but hey, its your life. My problem with facebook is purely personal and I won't get into it here. Again the reason I bring this up is not a gripe with facebook but merely as an observation of what a useful tool it can be for the serious traveler. I mean, lets face it, half the reason most of us go on trips like is so that we can feel superior to others. (Right? No? Oh...) And little makes us feel more superior to others than when we compare facebook status updates. "Mark had the BEST nap today!!! :)" Yeah, not bad but how about "Chris went swimming with elephants in the River Kwai today." Now say what you want about naps and, personally, I quite love them, but let's face it, one is significantly cooler than the other.

I guess really the point of all this is just to reiterate that I'm not going to be getting on facebook anytime soon. Yes when I left facebook I quite literally lost all contact with almost every friend I had, a contact that almost a year later has neither returned nor been replaced. It's significantly more difficult living in this world without facebook, I won't deny it. I know that nobody reads this blog as a result of that. I know that I could very much lord over my friends my exciting adventures in Asia if I were on facebook. In fact, if I were to return to facebook today and remake all those old connections I could act even more superior for how long I lived without facebook. But I'm not going to. Has my point been made? According to my therapist, yes, apparently it has. But I didn't do it to make a point. I did it for me. And I'm not going back on it now just because it would make my life a whole lot easier. We lived in this world a long time without facebook and before you know it, it'll be replaced by something else seemingly essentially to our daily lives. And will I jump onto that once facebook is gone? Maybe. But I like to think I won't. Because it's just, I don't know, it's just not for me.

Going back to my point at the beginning, I am always asked "Are you on facebook?" And my answer is always, "No, actually I'm not." And then I shrug. The other person always gets really flustered there and the conversation changes to, "Oh, well then we should exchange emails then." "Yeah," I say, "That'd work too."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Halloween

My escape is imminent. For three weeks I'll be able to leave all the ghouls and monsters behind. When I get back maybe I'll feel better. Maybe I'll feel anything at all.

If I can do this, I can do anything.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Winter

It's been very, very cold the last couple of days.

Last night I had a dream about stars. Due to the fluidity of dream memory, I can’t recall much of what happened or if it even had a “plot.” I should like to think that it didn’t. The point is in my dream from last night I stood beneath a dark and overcast sky. When the clouds finally parted, almost magically you could say, more stars than I could count in a million lifetimes were shining down on me. There was more light in the sky than there was dark, it engulfed the world around me. And for a brief moment, bathed in starlight, I once again felt love.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Note

I would like to put aside for a moment my usual meta-fiction drivel bullshit, if I may, and actually talk about something. No flowery language or fictionalized accounts. Just what happened and how I felt.

On thursday morning my mother and I had to put down our dog, Lily. She was a sweet, beautiful dog and she had to die. On wednesday morning she broke her spine and lost the use of the lower half of her body. So on thursday morning when I received a tear-filled phone call from my mom I rushed to the vet so that I could be with her to make the decision and hold my dog one last time as it was carried out. At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, it was horrible. I can't get the thought out of my mind. I can't forget her shaking in my arms as the nurse injected her. With a whimper she tried to pull her paw away but the vet held on and before she even pulled the shot out Lily fell still and lay down. I haven't been able to get that feeling out of my hands. Since then I've been obsessively touching everything I pass: tree trunks and low hanging branches, mailboxes and fire hydrants, fences and brick walls. At work I held on to a pan straight from the oven, hoping to burn the memory out of my fingertips but it just won't go.
God damn it, I'm just not emotionally stable enough for this kinda shit right now. I mean I've already been on a downward spiral for awhile again. The lack of sleep, the loss of appetite, the aloofness. This all sounds familiar right? Thursday night I was so frustrated I just punched and punched punched until my skin peeled off and my knuckles bled. And oh, the pain that came was just delightful. I've missed it so much. I'm not going back to my dark days, I'm not, but its very nice to visit right now. The death of my poor, sweet Lily is just the catalyst I needed too.
So now all I can think of doing is what I always do in this situation: run away. So thats what I'm going to do. I'm going to escape.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This week marks the one year anniversary of my death. It was a painful death, sudden and unexpected and now here I am, a ghost marking a full year since my deathday. In that year I've spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what it means to be dead, what it means to be alive. Strangely enough I haven't actually come up with any real answers, just lots and lots of thoughts. In that spirit I'd like to present to you a story I wrote shortly after my death. I reread it the other night and found I didn't like it anymore. So I rewrote everything except the first few paragraphs. You can probably tell where the voice changes. I like this new story better. I think it better reflects everything that I've learned in the last year, which is to say nothing definite. So without further ado,

“I remember when I used to be happy.”
“Do you?”
“I think so.” Actually now that she mentioned it, I’m not sure I actually could. In retrospect I was certainly happy. Does that count? Okay, at least comparatively I was happy. That definitely counts. I wasn’t on medication for depression that made my teeth feel like they were vibrating in my skull so that’s definitely a plus. And I wasn’t yet hurting myself physically or emotionally so there’s that too.  Wow, is that how I’m characterizing being happy now? Happiness is not being a danger to yourself or others. Yeah, that sounds right. “Yeah, I was definitely happy back then.”
She looked down at the coffee cup in her hands. “What happened?”
“Are you serious?” There’s something about that phrase, it’s overuse maybe, or its lack of sincerity perhaps, that I really hate but honestly, was she serious? “You broke my heart, disrupted my life, and thoroughly destroyed my emotional stability.”
She didn’t look up. “Yeah.” Now I looked down at my own coffee. I stared deep into that dark pool, hoping to find in it all the solutions to all the awkward silences that now lived amongst us. I knew at the very least there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to drink this thing. I had long been ignoring it and it had grown cold. Great. Now my coffee was cold. What else could go wrong?
Who am I kidding? Grow up, boy. Disrupted my life and thoroughly destroyed my emotional stability. First of all, who says something like that in casual conversation? And secondly, did she really do that? She’s a 19 year old girl and she decided that rather than try and deal with the stress of a long-distance, long-term relationship, she wanted to move on with her life. Who can blame her for that? Obviously, I can. But at any rate, no. 
                “Sorry,” I breathed. She looked up at me with those blue eyes I loved so much. I had a picture in my wallet of her eyes, I swear. It was a close up picture of her and you can tell she’s smiling this sly, clever, sexy grin just by looking into those eyes. But this time I didn’t meet her gaze. I just stared down into the dark pool of my cold coffee. “You don’t deserve that.” You don’t deserve any of this dramatic bullshit I put you through. I wasn’t quite strong enough to say that part yet. I said, “I have to go,” and stood up.
                I really wanted it to be a dramatic exit. I’d stand up quickly, sling my bag over my shoulder, and march out of the coffee shop. Maybe I’d pause in the door way, look back at her one last time and say something Bogartesque like, “See you round sometime, kid.” And then walk out, never to see her again. Instead I stood up too fast, backed my chair into the guy sitting behind me, turned around to apologize, knocked over my coffee, yelled “Shit!” loud enough for everyone in the cafĂ© to look up at me and then just stood there awkwardly looking at the mess I’d made. “Shit,” I said again, although quieter this time.
                Without a word she grabbed some napkins and bent down to help me clean up the spilled coffee from the table and the floor. For the first time since I tried to kill myself I looked her in the eyes. She smiled at me, a bit sheepishly. “It’s okay,” she said.
                Yeah. At this point I didn’t know what to say. I took the soiled napkins from her hand and tried to leave again without quite as much of a scene. I turned to walk away but without taking a step turned back towards her. “You don’t deserve any of this dramatic bullshit I put you through,” I said. “So…” I stalled. I shrugged. She leaned forward and pulled me close in a tight embrace. It was nice. After a second we stepped apart. “Thanks,” I said. She just smiled up at me. I smiled back down at her.
                After that we both sat back down in our seats and talked. Like, really talked. About all sorts of things, but about things nonetheless. Real, tangible things. Not fears or imaginings or emotions. Just stuff. Things. Shooting the shit. For four hours we sat there talking. I ordered more coffee and actually drank it. We both laughed at times when it was appropriate to laugh. Long after it had turned dark outside she told me she needed to be getting home. “Okay,” I said and meant it. We both stood up, me without swearing or spilling anything this time. We hugged. “We should do this again sometime. Just, you know, talk,” She said. I smiled, “Yeah. We should.”
I walked her to the door. We hugged one last time. She said, “Goodbye.” I said, “Bye.” I watched her get back into her car and drive off. I stood there in the doorway until her she turned at an intersection and her tail lights faded into the distance.
                Afterwards I went back to the counter, bought one more coffee and sat back in my seat across from where she had just been sitting. For another hour I sat there, not touching my coffee. I knew I would never see her again and it didn’t kill me. I sighed, stood up, threw away my cold coffee and walked outside. It had gotten cold. In  my car I light up a cigarette and stared absently at the smoke floating calmly out my window and disappearing into the night. I turned the key in the ignition, shifted out of park, and drove home.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Making up stories about the people at starbucks

"So what did you think of today?" Silence. "Was it better than you thought it would be?"
"Yeah." More silence. "This tastes really good."
"Yeah." The song Powerman by The Kinks comes on over the speakers and it makes you want to get up and do something exciting but of course you don't. You stare off into the middle ground and listen to the song. She's staring too, unfocused, just over your shoulder but you don't know if she's listening to the song too, you know that she's noticed it too, she introduced you to The Kinks after all, or merely listening to her own thoughts or nothing at all. You start to ask her what she's thinking about but change your mind. Frankly, you don't care and she knows it. All those insincere questions you've asked those uninspired answers and half-truths. You're just so sick of it all. Where did the honesty go from your relationship? The sincerity? More importantly, the interest? You used to call her up every night to hear everything new that had happened to her in the two hours since you'd last seen each other. What had she been thinking about? What had she been doing? How was her mom? Her sister? Her dog? Anything exciting happen? Anything boring? It didn't matter, it was the world to you. You could listen to her talk for hours and hours. And often times, you did just that. Those were good times. And now? Who was this stranger sitting across from you? The indifference between you two is palpable. In the corner of the cafe, the happy couple that walked in just a minute ago is now sitting awkwardly, made uncomfortable by the tension that emanates from you.
"Hey what are you doing tomorrow night?"
"I said, what are you doing tomorrow night?"
"Oh." Silence. By horrible coincidence, Powerman finishes and for one long, painful moment, the entire cafe is filled with your awkward silence. "Um, nothing. Yeah, I don't think I'm doing anything."
"Oh. Well, did you want to do something."
"I don't know."
I give you two another week of horrible, painful, uncomfortable silences before one of you puts a stop to it. Being alone sucks but is this so much better? Eventually one of you will take the risk. And for the sake of all the innocents in this coffee shop, thank God for that.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Like Two Ships Passing In The Night

She’s not okay.

I mean, I knew that. I knew it when I saw her and I couldn’t do anything about it. The sunken eyes. God, when was the last time she slept? She looked up at me when I came in and tried to smile but couldn’t quite manage it. As if she no longer had enough strength to even lift one corner of her mouth. She looked back down at the book she was reading but I swear in the forty minutes I was in that room with her she never turned a page. She just kept staring down the words, blankly, not seeing a thing but a world that was far, far away. Beneath the table her foot shook uncontrollably. Her heel tapped the ground incessantly, almost angrily.

When I finally got up to leave I wanted to do something. I knew she wasn’t okay. She hadn’t been okay for awhile and I wasn’t going to make it better. I could have but I didn’t. I got up and walked out the door. I was afraid.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Updates Abound

This is just an update on a few things going on in my little occupied corner of the internet.

First, I started a new blog dedicated to telling travel stories and showcasing some of my favorite photographs. It's called Life, etc. Keep an eye out for updates and let me know what you think.

Secondly, I'm currently featured on another blog, that of my local bookstore. The wonderful owner Mel Corroto of the equally wonderful Beehive Books recently asked me to write a review for her of Gary Shteyngart's new book Super Sad True Love Story, which I had bought there. So I did and now its on their website. Check out the review and other articles on their blog and then read that book; it's amazing.

Finally, I'm giving a shout out to my friend Emily and her blog. She is currently teaching english in Thailand and spent a part of this weekend at Ayutthaya, a UNESCO world heritage site and a place of incredible cultural importance. Her adventures in Thailand continue to make me painfully jealous but nonetheless make for a delightful read.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Labour'd and Laugh'd

I wanted to write a story tonight but have been feeling incredibly uninspired and this was all I came up with. Enjoy.

Oh my God, this is awkward. The first what was hers, the second mine. As far as first dates go, this one could certainly have been worse but that’s hardly consolation to me right now. I had made a joke. It was self-effacing, wry, and would’ve been funny only in that immediate context, if at all. She didn’t hear me though. She said “what?” It was a perfectly reasonable thing to say. Why did I say “what?” That’s the real question. It just came out. I mean, I couldn’t repeat the joke, it would just fall flat. In fact, she probably hadn’t even noticed the context in which my joke was made so I’d have to explain it to her, turn back the clock and not only repeat myself but recreate the entire environmental situation in which I was able to make the joke.
And now she’s just staring at me. And not in that good way where she looks deeply into your eyes, one eyebrow slightly cocked, the tip of her pink tongue poking out and sliding smoothly across a pair of perfect lips. No, not in that way. In that moderately confused way, mouth slightly agape, eyes narrowed in a weird mixture of suspicion and a complete lack of humor.
“Hah,” I said. Yeah, that fixed it. Well done, man. I didn’t know what else to say, how do you come back from the double what and save face? “Um…”
“I think I’m going to head home,” she said.
“That’s okay. I don’t think I like you. And I don’t mean that I think we’re not going to work as a couple, which, to point out the obvious, we’re not, I mean I don’t think you’re a very good person. You’re not curious about, well, about anything apparently. You have the cultural awareness of a goldfish and you have about as much charity towards others as a betta fish. And frankly, I don’t think you even understood that insult. You’re painfully self-conscious, self-absorbed, and self-serving. You have seemingly no sense of humor, and less sense of creativity, and I think that, as a human being, you’re not very good. I don’t want you in my life. I want go out to a bar with a girl and we’ll be sitting there laughing about wind farms in Greece when some guy in a pink polo comes up to me and calls me gay for wearing a satchel, then I’d turn to her and say ‘Honey, am I gay?’ and she’d look at me and say ‘Yeah, you are,’ and then we’d laugh for some reason even though no part of that interaction was particularly funny but we’re kind of buzzed at the time so everything is funnier. So yeah, you can head home and I’ll just go to the movies by myself. It’s really just easier for everyone this way. It wasn’t that nice meeting you, I’ll probably forget you pretty soon, and you’ll tell your friends that I was pretentious and not funny, which may very well be true anyways. In short, bye.”
Man, that’s what I should have said to her. Instead I got really awkward, looked just left of her head and mumbled, “Oh. Yeah, okay. It’s pretty late anyways but it was really great meeting you. You have my number, right? Yeah, alright well text me sometime if you’re bored.”
And thus ended yet another first date, just like all the others. One day, I’ll find that girl though and we’ll get buzzed and she’ll call me gay and we’ll both laugh for some reason. Somewhere that girl is out there and someday I’ll meet her. I hope she has a really nice ass.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Well, I Passed

I feel good about something today and really, it just occurred to me that this is something to be proud of. Now, I already knew it was something to be proud of, but I have a different reason for being proud than everyone else who passed too. Let's back up a bit.

When I started this year with the idea that I'd put things in my life to keep depression at bay, I had the idea to improve myself physically, spiritually, and mentally. Spiritually I had hoped to start attending various churches and temples and expand my spiritual knowledge; this never materialized however. Mentally, I was going to start taking classes (still hasn't happened), I would read a lot, and I put my thoughts into words using my blog. And as for improving myself physically, I had hoped to either join a gym or start taking some self-defence class or something. Well, after looking into a few including tae kwon do and tai chi, I remembered that there was a gym near my house that I'd seen called Ohio Krav Maga & Fitness.

I sent the person in charge, named Terri, an email saying that I'd like to stop by and watch a class to see if I was interested. She told me to come in for the intro class on thursday night, so I did. And, while I had only hoped to sit in the corner and see what the hell krav maga actually was, it wasn't long before Terri told me that I should go ahead and just try it out. The intro class wasn't bad, you learn the proper way to punch, throw knees, elbows, and do a clench. "Hey", I said to my mom, who was there watching as well, "That was fun!" Combined with the intro class you get to stay for the Krav 1 class which occurs immediately afterwards. Turns out the Krav 1 class is a lot more intense than the simple intro. About twenty minutes into the class I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion. I stumbled into the bathroom to splash cold water on my face and lean my face on the cold wall. And though it sucked, and it hurt, and I kinda thought I was gonna die by the end, I finished it. I didn't know what it would mean to me but I left knowing that I was going to stick with this gym.

And so, since that time in March, I've gone to a krav 1 class a couple times a week. In May I went to spring training camp and learned to take guns away from people who are pointing guns at me, I learned third party protection, workplace shooter defense, and aggression training. The point is, yesterday I took my level one test. In short, it was probably the most painful and difficult physical thing I've ever done. Now I've done some crazy difficult things before, hiking through Peru was doubtlessly harder and, obviously, longer, but the difference is I didn't have people hitting me and chocking me the entire time.

Well, I passed. And with that I'm proud of the fact that I accomplished something that assuredly not all 25 of us passed yesterday. But more importantly, I'm proud that I actually stuck with something that I decided to start this year. If you look back at my first blog on this site, I wanted to completely recreate my life. I was unhappy with almost every aspect of my life and I wanted to change it all. Well, of course that was rather unlikely and not very honest, but this is the one thing that actually has changed my life. And I'm really proud of that.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What Fresh Hell 2.0

I recently received two letters from a very good friend of mine and, simple though they may be, something about them has given me a kick. They have woken me up from the rather undignified stupor that I found myself in.

For nearly a year now I've been napping through my life rather than living it. Now don't mistake this for any kind of epiphany. I, myself, am afraid of falling into that trap. I still don't know what the hell I'm doing with my life. I still feel horribly, painfully alone. I still feel that aching sense of abandonment, that I've lost most of those people I'd thought my best friends. And to be honest, I don't know what I'm going to do about all that. But I'm going to stop pretending that's the only way my life can be. I'm going to do something. Like waking from a very long nap, I find myself rather sore, in need of movement. And so, with this as my glorious return to the internets I had abandoned almost a year ago, I'm going to stretch out my tired limbs and get moving. I don't know where and what. But its about time I got up again.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hide and Seek

I didn't know how to start this post. I'm not really sure anyone is still even reading this so fuck it. When I've hurt my last true friend then what is there left for me? God, I fucked up so badly. I fucked up so so horribly. And there's no one else to blame this time for my mistakes. There's no ex-girlfriend, there's no school or awful home to blame. This was all me. This was my own stupidity and my own weakness and I must take all the blame for it. And I must make this right.

No apology I make can be enough and no forgiveness can be given that will make up for this egregious breach of trust. I've said I'm sorry and you know it's true. I'll keep saying it, but it means nothing right now. All I can do is step away. I must fix this in myself. I must turn inward once again. And so I will not be writing on this blog for awhile. I'll no longer be responding to texts or calls to my phone. If this is what I do to my last true friend then I cannot have friends right now.

I will seek guidance and I will do my penance. And hopefully one day you'll understand how sorry I am that I am who I am.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond

This weekend my mother and sister went to California to finalize wedding plans, leaving me with the house all to my self. Naturally I celebrated this kind of freedom in the most reckless way I could think of. In the 48 hours encompassing friday and saturday I drank close to two liters of rum. Unfortunately in doing so I managed to ruin an area rug and a trash can. Don't ask how I ruined a trash can, but I did.

Last month a good friend of mine encouraged me to make a list of things that make me happy. I've been working on it off and on for about three or four weeks now and today I finally came up with my goal of ten things. Yes, it took me a month to come up with ten things that make me happy. It's not easy for some of us. At any rate, without further ado, my list (in no particular order):

1) Rosie (my guitar)
2) rainstorms on a hot day
3) silent, empty buildings
4) exploring
5) lying in bed on a cold morning
6) applause
7) big open fields where you can't hear a single car
8) making people proud
9) soft hair
10)when I don't feel afraid

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Group Effort

Hey there folks. It's me, Chris, the blogger. How are you today? Well I hope. I have a fun activity planned for all of us to do together. You remember those stories you used to do with your friends where one person would start and then it would go around the room and each person would add a bit more until you had a full story? Well that's what we're going to do now. Now this is going to require all of you, my readers to comment on this. I will start and then you will go into the comments and write the next part of the story. When someone comments I will go back and add that on to the post itself and then someone else will post a comment and so forth. Write as much or as little as you like, it's all in good fun. So, here we go:

What Fresh Hell Is This? A Story
There is a turtle who works as a waiter at my favorite restaurant. Whenever I go there for supper, which is about once a week when I can afford it, I ask to sit in his section. Despite the fact that he is, no doubt, the absolute worst waiter in the world (or perhaps because of that), I find him infinitely charming. Everytime I see him he greets me with a warm smile and a jovial fist bump. I ask him how he's doing and he'll say (without fail) "Less than perfect" and smile his big, turtle teeth at me. Smiling back, I'll say, "Oh no! Why is that?" and he'll begin to tell me one of his absurdly silly stories. Why just the other day, he told me that he had only just that minute returned from a trip to Vietnam. Apparently the President had sent him in as a spy to keep an eye on a clan of Cambodian Pirates. "It all began like any normal day of hunting Cambodian pirates in the Tonkin Gulf," he told me, "I was sitting on a rock out in the middle of the water, sunning myself, when suddenly my cell phone rang and everything went wrong."

Now, it's your turn my faithful readers. What happens next?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The White Steeple in Multiple Mediums

I wrote the following story about two weeks ago while sitting in a starbucks and meditating over my triple grande no-whip mocha. It's origin is the amalgamation between a real event in my life and a dream that I had the night before I wrote this. I made the sketch at the bottom bit by bit as I was writing. Both pieces are titled "The White Steeple"

In the distance is a white steeple. The church to which it belongs is hidden down in the valley, creating the illusion that the steeple is rising out of the ground itself. The sky is covered in blue-gray clouds and it melts into the blurred outline of a chain of mountains. It has stopped raining for the moment but the air remains wet and I know it will be raining again soon. I won’t see the sun for a long, long time. There is nothing to see in the mist; the clouds have come down now to obscure the white steeple. All around me are those blue-gray clouds, fattened with rain unfallen. The grass at my feet is vivid and it sparkles with rain fallen.
I close my eyes and reach out with my mind. I can feel every blade of wet grass. I taste the blue-gray clouds. Down in the valley my namesake is walking across the river. He stumbles and drowns. In the distance, the mountains begin singing their sorrowful song. They weep openly. From somewhere far away I can hear the ocean gasp before shuddering back into life, it reaches out to me in vain but I am unable to touch it.
And suddenly the earth is shaking violently. It starts deep beneath the ocean where the waves leap into the sky, higher than they’ve ever gone before, before crashing back down upon themselves. They are grasping at the clouds. They are trying to pull themselves up and away from the quaking earth beneath them. Now the tremors have reach the mountains; they pull away from the sky, they shake pathetically before collapsing down into dust. The earthquake reaches me now and I can hear every blade of grass screaming out in terror. I try to reassure them, I try to comfort them but I don’t know how. I want to tell them it’s going to be okay but I don’t believe it myself. The quake pulls itself out of the earth, climbs up my leg and stops in the pocket of my jeans.
I strain to open my eyes. My cheeks are wet but I don’t remember crying. It has started raining again. In my pocket my phone is buzzing incessantly. I reach down and pull it out. Without looking I hold it in my hand until it stops vibrating. Only once it has become silent and still do I dare to look down at it. The little red light on its face winks up at me to inform me that I have a new text message. Against my better judgment, I read it: “Hey how are you doing? :)” Even if I didn’t already know, the little smiley face emoticon would have told me it’s her.
In response I decide to call her. Even before she has a chance to pick up I start screaming into the phone’s mouth piece. I scream as many obscenities I can think of and when I run out I just scream a scream. I scream until my throat is burning. I scream until I can no longer possibly scream and I fall to my knees coughing. I begin to rip at the wet dirt with my hands. I dig frantically, violently. I dig until my fingers scrape against stone and begin to bleed. I fall back on my heels and look down at the phone. I see that stupid fucking smiley face and I slam the phone down onto the uncovered rock. I smash it again and again and again and again and again until there is nothing left and then I keep smashing it when it is only my empty hand that I am destroying. My hand, reduced to nothing but a clump of broken bones and bruised skin. Exhausted, I lay back on the wet grass. I feel like I’m ready to die but I finally feel happy. I feel at peace. I feel that I have closure.
Actually I text back “I’m doing fine” and hit the send button.
“Lying is a sin.”
“I don’t believe in sin,” I say. Her laugh is loud and high-pitched, full of self confidence and joy. My phone vibrates again in my pocket. “That’s great! :)” her reply says. I look at that familiar smiley face emoticon and think of how to perfectly word my response. I close my eyes and scream. Down in the valley, the white steeple whispers nothing to the world. In the sky the blue-gray clouds sigh, the mountains sing their familiar song, and on my shoulder the bird is still laughing at me.

The White Steeple

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Cleaning

The weather outside is absolutely wonderful. After a long, cold, lonely winter it truly has been a miraculous experience to see the sun once again. Yesterday was the first day I went for a walk around the neighborhood without my shoes on, an experience that marks, for me, the real beginning of spring. Today, I did some cleaning around the house and managed to stumble upon two of my highschool's literary magazines. I'd like to share with you all now my very first published works from many many years ago. Please enjoy this stroll down memory lane with me:

She Said No
by Chris Echesabal (2003)
Why did she go?
Why'd she say no?
The woman I love,
Is the woman I hate.
The world is a scary place,
When an embarrassment,
Becomes a way of life.
I refused to ask,
Out of fear for my heart.
I believed it would work,
But I'm broken apart.
Why do I live when I cringe at your smile?
When once I loved life,
Now the sight of my blood.
Where can I go,
When the girl said no?

Madman's Wonderland
by Chris Echesabal (2004)
Blushing cheeks from windows lit
Admiration in their eyes
Wide wonder blown astray with cold
Flying high on pride
Snowfall, bells in midnight skies
A terror soon they'll know.

In the shadows, silhouettes
Silver gleams in blackened robes
Pain filling violent hearts
A terror soon they'll know.

Nighttime lovers walk alone
Joy and innocence
Never will their children know
The fires deep within
A wildman's hardened soul
Drugged with craze and pain and spite and fear and...
Alone again covered in blood and tears
He cries with all the pain he's felt, the pain he gave
The snow, it melts.

Nighttime lovers walk alone, a crazed man holds his mind.
In the madman's wonderland
A terror soon they'll know.

Monday, March 8, 2010

And Madness Sets In

If life is for the living then am I wasting a life? Or am I living a wasted life, thereby making it not a waste at all? Am I failing to live or living to...wait for it...better myself.

In a sense I open myself up. There is a left winged Hare Krishna dancing upside down beneath an empty sky hole. "Higher! Higher!" he screams. From nowhere we can observe nothing envelop him. When it all closes up again, everything is there. The bull and the spur. The hatchet and the carbon. Seraphim and Ruth. An egg the size and shape of an egg. Only yellow. Like an egg. A face with no features but a thousand expressions and two voices. Two voices in perfect harmony.
Before us now is blue, swirling, everything. Behind me and in the future is a failed attempt at a life. There are points of no return and also a few points of only return. There are a few lines, but mostly they're points. The candied necklace of a beautiful, beautiful thing. What do you call them?
In the music it's like a series of intersecting rings. Sounds dance up and down on the stripped grass. Sadly. Joyously. There is all the difference in the world.
There is an empty plastic cup singing to me, giving me strength. It gives me the strength to fall. To fall down upon my knees; the perfect position. To beg. Mendigar. To pray. Suplicar. To cower and to be sick. And thank you, plastic cup, my secular saint. With your help I can do all this. I can do all things but quit. And when only that is left, what else do I have to do?
Evolsilla. It is that by which I live. I pray it upon my rosary and speak it to the glass. Evolsilla. In all things I cannot deny it. It is only when this no longer means anything to me that it will all be over.
And now I see I've spilled ink all over my hand. How does that even happen? How does that even happen in this day and age?

There are people. They're surrounding me. People all around and they're making so much noise. I can't possibly concentrate here. I can't possibly focus. My mind twists and turns, jumping from one world to another. I am here, I am not, and I am back again. The white noise of these scores of strangers is deafening. All the voices, all the laughter, blend together into one horrible din. The noises swell and crash like waves against rocks, receding back before falling upon me doubly strong. In crowds I know I lose all sense. I become unhinged and the paranoia takes over. My eyes lose focus but they are ever vigilant, always moving. I follow every shift, every shudder with keen attention. Hyper-vigilant and yet completely terrified. Everyone around me is an enemy, an opponent of some kind. I don't know them and yet I know they hate me. They all want to embarass me, to hurt me. I feel their eyes on me. Staring. Judging. Indistinctly, I can hear them, they are speaking about me, I know it. Laughing at me. I miss Her. I want the voices to go away, the stares to cease, all the judging to stop. She makes it stop. She makes it quiet, brings me peace. And when I'm alone...Well, then I'm just alone. What's truly interesting though is how little she actually needed me. She simply needed someone, anyone. As soon as I was gone she replace me with the first person she could find. Oh my love, your biggest problem was you always needed someone. You can never be alone, you need constant affirmation of your worth through romantic relationships with other people. Who did I just describe there? As a matter of fact, you have absolutely terrible taste in men. I am just one example of this. You're so willing to be with someone that you don't care if they understand or appreciate you. You only need them to like you and, considering how infinitely likable you are, there isn't much of a shortage of those men. Your problem is you need someone, anyone. My problem is I need you. I don't deny that I have my baggage. I don't denty that I have a laundry list of stupid little failings and big ugly problems. By no means am I an easy person to get along with, let alone to live with. I just couldn't be that casual college boyfriend you wanted. Fuck, I can't do anything casually. I take every personal relationship as seriously as any other. If I consider you a friend then we have a very special bond and there is almost nothing I would not do for you, my friend. This is why there are so few that I consider friends. This is why I have 18 contacts in my phone. And then again, if I love you...well, then my love is simply overflowing.

A man walks in, he is wearing an ugly sweater and a stupid fleece vest. I look up and catch his eye. I mouth the words "fuck you" to him.
He looks more shocked than angry, "What did you just say to me?" He asks. He's not quite shouting but it's pretty close.
For my part, I look up, startled "I didn't say anything," I answer honestly.
"You mouthed something at me."
Now I'm the one who is shocked. "What? No, I didn't."
"Yes, I'm sure you did. I saw you. You mouthed 'fuck you' to me!" Ok, now he's shouting.
"What are you talking about, man? I don't even know you!"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Another Letter

It has been a long, long week. It has been something like two weeks since anyone has left a comment but whatever, that's not why I do this. Physically, I'm probably in the best shape of my life and while I've still got those ugly purple scars on my forearm, they're all quite old and I'm feeling pretty okay about that. I'm a little behind in my reading but I'm really enjoying this book, Kafka On The Shore, and I'm going to go ahead and recommend it right now. Emotionally, I've been pretty average. Which, for me, is actually considered really, really good. I haven't had any kind of serious breakdown in a long time. I've had some really fucked up dreams the last week or two and I'm a little worried about that, but hey, it could be a lot worse. I still can't find a job, which means I still can't save up any money, which means I can't start looking for my own apartment anytime soon. Also, since my insurance dropped me I'm not sure I can even find the money to keep going to therapy right now unless I can find work. So...hmmmmm. Another letter to my love. Whoever she is.

To the love of my life,

Do you know yet that I love? Do you feel me when my heart reaches out to you? Blindly, I reach out into the world, grasping with numbed fingers, finding nothing but empty air. Do you ever feel me, if only for just an instant? I wonder if my presence is ever known to you, somewhere in the back of your mind. Without form, without shape, merely a feeling. A comforting thought, a tinge of expectant joy. Deep down in your unconsciousness you feel a warmth, a sense of homecoming. You don’t know what makes you feel this way but you find yourself feeling mysteriously happy and you look forward to understanding it. Do you ever feel me in this way? I am reaching out to you though I don’t know who you are. Perhaps you too are reaching out. Perhaps somewhere, sometime our spirits cross and we both feel a spark of knowing. We both feel home. We both feel loved. Do you know yet that I love you? Do you know yet that I will always love you?

With all my love,

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I’m done for the night. I turn off the computer and slide it away from me. After a minute the screen glows a bright blue before flashing off. I am left in complete darkness now. Pushing my chair back, I stand up and in a second I’m lying face down on the carpet. It smells not unpleasantly of dust. I lay motionless here while all around me the world moves. The dark room swirls, spins, tilts, expands, then collapses all around me. Suddenly the roof is gone, the walls, and all my furniture are gone. The stars grin down at me from a pitch black, moonless sky until they too are swept away in the whirlwind that blows around all time and space.
And now I am naked under a glaring, angry sun. Beneath me bubbles thick, black tar stretching out in all directions. The sun inhales deeply and suddenly I am frozen in the hardened pitch. And then, violently, he spits. A wad of ugly, black, boiling tar comes screaming out of the sky, falling directly towards me. And now I am engulfed. I am covered in thick, black ooze. I try to breathe and it pours into my nostrils and mouth, filling my throat and lungs. It flows into my ears, my eyes, permeates my every pore. It is filling my skull. Filling in every nook and cranny in my brain, boiling me alive from the inside out. I cough, wretch once, then a second time and its all pouring out of me.
I’m in my bathroom. The only light comes from a streetlight, casting a sad orange lines across the floor. The linoleum feels cold against my bare knees and the toilet is reassuringly solid in my hands. I wretch again and another wave of tar bursts out of me. Only it’s not tar anymore. It is my dinner; spaghetti. It comes out of me partially liquefied, stained purple with wine. It burns its way out of my gut, up my throat, and then forces its way out of any opening it can find. Flowing freely now from my mouth and nostrils. I cough weakly and another burst of sick falls out of my mouth, splashes loudly into the water. I emit a pathetic sound, some sad noise that is half whimper and half gargle.
When my eyes open again, I’m face down on the cold, white floor. The world has stopped spinning but the room around me has become unrecognizable. I am in a bare white room, no door or window can be seen, no items of any kind around me. The whole room is lit by soft blue glow. But the light, I notice, doesn’t seem to be coming from anywhere. It is coming from everywhere. The whole of the room seems to be emanating its own light from somewhere deep within the walls. It’s that kind of antiseptic bluish-white light that you get in hospitals. I groan, it makes me sick. Collapsing into a corner I shut my eyes tightly and groan again. The silence of the room is suddenly broken by the sound of a bird chirping. Fuck.
“You okay down there?” She asks in that sincere but emotionless way that I’ve come to loathe.
No, I’m not going to answer that. Instead I say, “What the fuck are you doing here?” The vulgarity makes my head spin and I try to hold down my sick.
Above I hear her ruffle her feathers, offended. “How could you even ask that? I’m here for you.” I groan, roll onto my back and look up at her. A little yellow bird, perched on a little outcropping in the wall. She cocks her head to the side and looks at me severely. “I should ask what you’re doing here.” Instead she begins to sing then. Her soft high voice filling the room. And now the music is in my head. I can feel it swaying about from side to side. It passes behind my eyes and flows down into the back of my throat. I exhale softly and for a second I can see the music come out of my mouth as a thin fog.
My eyes open and I’m once again lying on the cold tile floor of my bathroom. The room is dark and quiet and I am alone. I pull myself into a sitting position and lean against the door. “Why did you wake me up?” I ask aloud to no one.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Autumn or The Fall

There is a crunch of dry, old leaves and from somewhere nearby comes the monotonous hum of cars driving by. The trail is a gravel path, I can feel the loose rocks shift beneath my feet. But they’re invisible to me, covered by layer upon layer of colored leaves, all of them at different levels of decomposition. It’s still early in the morning and I am alone here in the forest. No living thing stirs; there is only myself and the gentle falling of dead leaves.
And so it is that I’m the only one around to notice when the world moves. Beneath my feet I feel the whole earth shift ninety degrees to the left. It happens so suddenly and instantaneously that even the leaves on the ground are surprised; it takes a few seconds for them to realize what has happened. It’s another thirty seconds for them to react and only then do they being to fall sideways down the earth. Tumbling, rolling, dancing, they pick up speed as they continue falling into the distance. I am too shocked to move. My feet seem to be cemented to the ground and, although I can feel gravity pulling me down, that is, to my right, I don’t budge an inch. Though leaves and rocks tumble down all around me, I stand there, unmoving, jutting out sideways from the earth like a tree sticking out of a sheer cliff wall.
It has been about five minutes now since the world moved and I’m still just standing here awkwardly in the same spot. I stick out horizontally from a vertical landscape. The shock of this terrestrial shift has worn out by now and, to be honest, I’m starting to get bored of it already. I dare not move however, for fear that nothing is keeping me from falling away save for my immobility. But the earth, so it would seem, is not willing to wait. It gives a violent shudder and my feet slip out from under me. I fall and my face crashes hard into the unforgiving ground. Against all logic, I lay there, flat against the hard, cold earth. It stands vertical against me and I lay there vertically against it. There is nothing but air beneath my fee and I can feel gravity tugging angrily against me but somehow I remain unmoved. Through no effort of my own I remain lying flat against the sheer ground.
Frustrated, the earth shakes again, the tremor more violent than the first. All around me the ground cracks and opens up, but still I lay there without falling. Somewhere above my head a stone is jarred loose by the shaking and I watch it tumble towards me. Still I do not move. It makes contact with my face, just below my left eye. My vision flashes red, then black, then a blinding white. I feel nothing. Still I don’t move.
With considerable effort I peel my eyes open and look around. I am standing at the edge of a rocky cliff. A valley opens up before me, it is overflowing with autumn color. Wave after wave of trees crash upon each other in bursts of orange, red, and yellow. All around me tourists and hikers are posing at the edge of the cliff, taking pictures and laughing. I look all around but no one notices me in the crowd of strangers. I take my cell phone out of my pocket and stare at its face, confused by the thoughts in my head. It’s already three in the afternoon. I open up the phone, select her phone number, and begin texting, “I’m going to fly away from here,” I type, “if I fall will you catch me?” I press send and shut my phone. I place it on the ground because I can’t stand to receive a reply that says “No”. On the ground at my feet, the phone begins vibrating quietly. I take one last look at it and then at all the people around me, I step forward and away from the cliff. As I fall away from everything I wonder what her reply was.

A Low Rising

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Pointless Post, vol. 2

Okay, so I’m going to do it again. From the period of February 1st to February 28th I read exactly ten books from my pile of books to read. I simply couldn’t pass up the perfect evenness of that. Besides, I decided my last list of book reviews was surely helpful to someone looking for new books to read. So here is volume two of my book reviews for the month of February. Please use this opportunity to tell me what you think of these books or to provide me any book recommendations. I always appreciate those.

1)Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke – I bought this book several years ago after seeing it on an online list of the most important sci-fi books of the 20th century. I put it on the shelf and forgot about it however until recently seeing the film District 9. The film’s unique take on the alien encounter genre reminded me of Childhood’s End. So I read it and immediately found I couldn’t put it down. Easily the most unique telling of the alien invasion story I have ever encountered. Do I recommend this book? Even for people who don’t like sci-fi or alien books, this is a fascinating exploration of human nature, evolution, and psychology with a wholly unexpected twist ending.
2)Jingo by Terry Pratchett – I’ve said it many times before that I love Terry Pratchett but this book reminded me of why. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed one of his books this much since I first discovered him two years ago. Do I recommend this book? If you’re looking for a fun read that makes you laugh and think, yes.
3)The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera – Of course, I already discussed this book at some length in an earlier post so I won’t go into again here. I’ll just say I was extremely pleasantly surprised by this book and look forward to reading it again and again in the future. Do I recommend this book? Duh.
4)The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – I’m honestly not sure why I picked up this book. It was an incredibly easy read that flashed me back to fifth grade when I’d read 30 of these books a month. Even after reading it I’m not positive that I actually enjoyed it. I liked the use of Greek mythology, of course, and found some of its modern applications very charming. But there were parts (particularly the narration) which were so juvenile and uninteresting that I wasn’t sure why I continued. And yet I am so intrigued as to whether or not I actually liked this book that I am forced to continue with the series. Do I recommend this book? I honestly don’t know yet. Ask me again next month.
5)Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell – Oh, George Orwell. I so desperately want to be you. I came into this book with such high hopes because I’ve loved every story, book, and essay that I’ve read by George Orwell. Unfortunately, something about this book could not capture my attention. It was a fascinating narrative of being poor in the cities of Paris and London but it read much more like an extended report than a novel and I think this is why I didn’t like it. It felt like there wasn’t actually a story, it was just this guy doing stuff for no particular reason. It wasn’t even interesting stuff! Just washing dishes and sweeping the floor. Do I recommend this book? Sadly, no. Read anything else by George Orwell though, please.
6)Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – I have to thank my friend Emmy for recommending me this book. Emmy, I absolutely adored it. Powerful, addictive, passionate, and wildly unique. Until I started reading this book I had no idea what it was about, I didn’t even read the back cover, I so wanted to be surprised by it. For anyone else who might read it I’ll leave them the same option. All I’ll say about it is it a story of loss without redemption, it is a story of coming to terms with something that can never ever be understood told from the perspective of one of the most brilliant narrators I’ve ever read. Do I recommend this book? Emmy does and so do I.
7)The World According to Garp by John Irving – One of my friends in Rome recommended this book to me back in 2006 and, like so many other books, I bought it, put it on my shelf and immediately forgot it existed. So I returned to it this month not remembering what he said it was about and so not knowing what to expect. I’ll say this about it, it was a very intriguing book. It was by no means happy but its sadness was all that could possibly have resulted from the lives of its tragically unhappy characters. Nonetheless, it was brilliantly written and I’m glad I finally read it. Do I recommend this book? Yes. More importantly I recommend Irving’s other book, A Prayer for Owen Meany which I read some time ago and found to be even better than this one.
8)A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – I’ve read lots of books about African civil war and child soldiers but this book provides something unique and refreshing from that genre of memoir. Beah actually spends very little space (maybe a quarter of the book) discussing his experience as a soldier. The more important part of his narrative is the tale of his rehabilitation into normal, peaceful society. That part alone is well worth reading this book. Do I recommend this book? If you want to understand some of the problems of child soldiers in war-torn Africa, this is perhaps the best book I’ve encountered about it.
9)The Remarkable Millard Fillmore by George Pendle – I discovered this book in a newspaper clipping pinned on one of my Georgetown history professor’s door. It’s a comic telling of President Millard Fillmore’s life; in the vein of Forest Gump, it portrays Fillmore as a bumbling oaf who stumbled unknowingly across some of the most important events of the 19th century. Unfortunately for Pendle, the book fails to be either historically intriguing or particularly funny. Do I recommend this book? I’m pretty sure this is the only book I haven’t recommended thus far. Oh well.
10)Only Revolutions by Mark Z Danielewski – I’ll admit up front that I didn’t finish this book. I hate not finishing a book but, honestly, I just couldn’t get through it. The book, apparently, tells the story of two eternal teens on a two hundred year road trip causing trouble. I say apparently because I never got that out of it. I never discovered a plot of any kind. The book is written in the wildly imaginative way of having each character write from their perspective, on the same page, upside down from each other. Thus you can read the book from either end and get a different story. While that seems awesome, the book is written in a kind of slang poetry monologue and, a hundred pages into it, I simply couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. Do I recommend this book? Read Danielewski’s first book, House of Leaves. It’s equally interesting in its layout but it’s also readable.
That’s it for this month. Please recommend me any interesting books you come across and I’ll do my best to add them to the pile.