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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Brief History of Humanity

I learned about it from a recent podcast. It’s a website called It considers itself a kind of game but really it’s an absurdity. And yet, oh such potential it has. The page opens with a simple chat room layout. At the bottom left you see a little window showing yourself, above it is a black square. When you’re ready you press the “play” button and the black screen opens into an image of a random stranger. The site is pure anonymity; in the chatroom portion the names listed are only “you” and “stranger”. You talk to the person if you want and, if not, you press the “next” button and are paired with another random stranger from somewhere else in the world. You can talk with anyone about anything. It is the very best of the medium, it is why the internet was created. You can connect with people from all over the world, people just like you, to talk. To meet, to discuss, to argue, to perform, to do anything in the whole world. That, however, is merely what it should be for.
I spent the last week trying to figure out what, in fact, it actually is for. The first thing you’ll notice is that most people don’t wait around long to talk to you. The window opens up, connecting you with this stranger and, in my experience, they will give you a disgusted look and then the screen will return to black. You have been skipped. That accounts for about 80% of the people you’ll find on ChatRoulette. About 5% will be a piece of paper covering the screen saying something along the lines of “Show me your boobs!” Usually with more grammatical and spelling errors. Another 5% are completely blank, something either without a webcam or simply hiding themselves for whatever reason. About 5% are men masturbating. Yes, men masturbating on camera, usually only showing their penis. To what aim one would want to do this I truly don’t understand. Is the arousal simply in showing one’s genitals anonymously to the world? I mean this isn’t a kind of sex chat, no one is going to talk to this person masturbating, nor can they be expected to talk back while doing so. So what’s the point? Perhaps it is simply to ruin the experience for everyone else. That leaves only a handful of people that will actually stop and talk to you. During a score of hours over the last five days I had real discussions with maybe seven different people, none lasted more than half an hour. In the end, what conclusion could I possibly come up with? Clearly people weren’t on there for the same reason as me, otherwise they would’ve talked to me as I would’ve talked to them. So then why are they there? The best answer I can come up with that encompasses the most people would be, simply, boredom. They were bored and a friend had told them about this weird site called so they decided to check it out and were, probably, disappointed by it.
But that brings me to a second point, which is, in fact, the more important. ChatRoulette simply makes up the best and the worst that the internet has to offer. It’s a great example of how the internet has changed the world of social interaction for the better and for the worse. On the positive side we are now in a world that has shrunk to miraculously small proportions. Never before has it been so easy to connect with wholly random people from across the globe. More importantly, never before has it been so very easy to realize that the other people in the world are just like you. These people aren’t mysterious foreigners, they’re not enemies, they’re not backwards or uncivilized or heathen or godless. They’re just like you. They’re even on the same dumb ass website as you. And yet instead of making us all feel part of the same global community, it has turned us all into strangers. It has made us all entirely unexceptional and entirely uninteresting to one another. This is the part where I go into my rant against facebook.
Facebook, like chatroulette, encompasses the best and the worst of the internet age. It has allowed us to stay connected with old friends, to rediscover relatives and classmates, to share information with people from every stage of our lives at once. And yet it has made us all inactive. It has made us passive in the dissemination of information about ourselves. There is little need for discussing anything with one another once we’ve posted it on Facebook. It’s up there for the world to see, so why would you need to say it to someone? Facebook has given us hundreds and hundreds of friends whom we never have to speak to again. When you have this many friends what reason could there possibly be to make any actual friends? When you’re friends with everyone you know on facebook, it places everyone you know on an equal level. Your relatives, your old classmates, and your best friend since 1st grade, they all get the same view of you. You present yourself to the whole world in exactly the same way, no matter how well or how little you know them. With things like chatroulette, facebook, twitter, we have more connections with more people than anyone ever in the history of the world. And yet, with so many connections, they are all more shallow, more meaningless than ever before. Our friendships have suffered at the expense of having more friendships.

I recently came to the sobering and disturbing realization that what I had thought were my very best friendships were in fact friendships of locale. Anyone who has experienced a localized friendship(s) knows that in a relatively short amount of time we can make incredibly close connections with others through concentrated time in close proximity. For examples see any kind of retreat or trip where you spend all your time with the same people. We may feel closer to those people than any of our long-time friends and yet as soon as the proximity is taken away we may never think of them again. My last couple years at university were like an extended version of this experience. And so it is that I thought that friendships of locale were actually deeper than they were. This first occurred to me while I was living in DC. Despite being at the lowest, most painful point in my life there were very few friends who were willing to talk to me. Even less were willing to actually reach out and make contact with me. None were willing to do anything drastic or serious to help me in anyway. Now you’re probably thinking, “Chris, you can’t expect anyone to drop everything and come out to DC to come see you and make sure you’re alright.” To which I would reply, “I absolutely expect friends to be able to do that.” Perhaps I take too serious an approach to friendship and what it means to be a friend but I’m of the opinion that friends would do absolutely anything for friends and that absolutely includes doing stupid things for one another. And another thing, friends should never have to ask how friends are doing. Friends should never have to ask if or how they can help. As a friend it is your job to know.

When I returned home in December I received a warm and caring reception from many of these same people that, in DC, I had felt abandoned me. Okay, I thought, it must have been my paranoia making me think my friends didn’t care. I returned to my alma mater and was touched by how much people told me that they cared about me. Fast forward a month and we’re back to square one. My absence as a presence on campus has taken me out of the friendship awareness of most people. When I cross the mind of a friend they think “Oh how nice would it be to do something with Chris,” but they are too busy. Now don’t get me wrong, I know what it’s like to be a student, especially those who are seniors, I know how stressful it can be and so I don’t blame you for living your busy life. But it means that we’re not the friends that I thought we were. Friends make time for friends. They just do. I made time for people even when I least had time to spend towards fun and that’s because I considered them my real friends.

So to all of you out there who find yourself in this position, and I won’t say it because I think you know who you are, I’m sorry that our friendship was one of locale and not of a deeper permanence. I hope you know that this doesn’t lessen what we had together and it doesn’t mean that we won’t still hang out, we won’t still be friends. Not at all, this is simply an awareness on my part that we weren’t what I thought we were and that’s ok. To truly understand anything we have to call it by what it is. To understand my relationships with my friends I have to realize that they’re only a little bit friends and not big serious friends. I can better live my life with all of you knowing the proper relationship that we share.

I honestly hope that no one is offended or upset by any of this. It in no way diminishes my opinion of you, I think of it merely as a reclassification of what we are. We are friends in the age of facebook and of chatroulette. We are friends of an instant. We are friends of simple connections and as we spread apart in life those connections will slowly fade away. We are victims of the times. In another age perhaps we would have been more, perhaps you would’ve written me a letter. Or perhaps we would never have known each other. We are friends because of the best and the worst of our age.

I look at all these pictures and I just think, Who the fuck are these people? Even those that I know, I don't really know. They are just faces and memories, nothing more.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Of A Book

A book is a bit like a puzzle piece. Some books are like corner pieces, you can just pick it up and know exactly where it fits. It always fits right there. It’s good, of course, but it’s easy too. Books like that don’t really change anything, they’re just there. Don’t get me wrong, you need these books just like you need all the corner and side pieces of a puzzle. But some books are more like those middle puzzle pieces. You know, those pieces that couldn’t be more asymmetrical if they tried. Out of one side it looks like a clover, another has a spade-kinda shape, another side has two indents (one big and one small), and finally it has something completely absurd coming out of it, like a pentagram or something. If you just pick this piece up out of the box you’d have absolutely no idea what to do with it. It doesn’t even matter what the picture on the piece is; until you have the hole perfectly set up for you, it’s totally worthless. Some very good books are like that. You can pick it up and read it and go, “Yeah, that’s a good book, I guess” but it didn’t really fit. You can’t understand why it’s such a famous book, such a masterpiece. Sure it was a good read but it didn’t seem all that special. But sometimes you’ll pick up a book and, without even knowing it, it fits perfectly into that little niche of your life. At the risk of sounding incredibly cliché, it’s just the right book at the right time. Still following me?
I recently read a book like that. It’s called The Unbearable Lightness of Being by the Czech novelist Milan Kundera. It’s one of those books that has been sitting on my book shelf in a pile lovingly titled “Unread Classics” for a very, very long time. I knew it was one of the great books of the twentieth century but to be quite honest, I had absolutely no idea what it was about and it simply never appealed to me. What with school controlling my reading schedule, it sat in the pile and remained an unread classic. Finding myself in that weird limbo without job or school, I’ve recently begun reading many of the books from that pile. A week or two ago I began TULoB and quickly found that, rather than being a dense work of existentialist art, I could hardly put it down. Within three days I’d finished it. Somehow, someway, it fit perfectly into my life. It connected with me in the way that a book like doesn’t always connect. But the uniqueness of this event makes it more special than a book that is simply always a fun read.
Anyways, I don’t want to get into some sort of synopsis of the book. In fact, I’m not sure presenting the plot would do the book justice. Its true beauty lies in the characters themselves, not so much the events they find themselves a part of. I will simply say that I found some sort of personal connection with the character Tereza. In an unusual way, I identified with her; with her weakness, her sacrifices, and her almost obsessively devotional character. I saw all my own greatest flaws in her and my some of my own tribulations in her life. I found comfort in the happy life she eventually finds and a kind of peace in her untimely death.
Simply put, the book is a work of art. It’s the kind of art that not everyone finds beautiful, but if you do then it’s truly something awe inspiring. The title of the book comes from the idea that every event in life is perfectly singular. It comes and is gone, never to return. This imposes on us a kind of “lightness,” an almost inconsequentiality to life. All life, like its component parts, comes about once and then ends forever. Thus, why bother to have lived at all? Ultimately, we find that no act has any kind of universal significance. This philosophy, brought to its logical conclusion is enough to drive one into the bitterest despair. Indeed, by the end of the book we find most of the characters dead, leaving little to no trace of their ever existing. And yet…
And yet, there is something wholly spectacular about that. While the book is rather pessimistic in its overall tone, I found, after a considerable amount of meditation on the subject, that there is in fact something wonderful in knowing this. If we can come safely to the realization that in the greater scheme of things none of this matters, then I believe we can find peace. Consider the following: no matter what you achieve in this life, if you reach every goal you could ever dream to attain, become the greatest and most loved human ever to live, you will still have had no lasting effect on anything beyond your immediate existence. The world will continue spinning, the sun continue burning, and all around you the universe will continue being whether you had lived or not, nothing is really any different, is it? Now while you may be saddened upon first realizing this, consider it deeper and it will free you. You will never change the basic structures of existence, so don’t bother. That’s not to say that you should give up on life, give up on your dreams. Far from it. In fact, this realization should help put things in perspective for you.
It will provide for you safe and healthy limits. You know that nothing you do will have any effect on any other planet or any other time so don’t spend your time worrying about that. If you’re going to worry, worry about this planet and this time. Use your energies to find what makes you happy. If you can manage that then use the very precious and limited time you have to help others achieve happiness. Because that’s what it’s all about. Yes, life is unbearably light and sometimes it feels like there is no point in anything and that’s because yeah, there probably isn’t any point. But if not, then why sweat it? Life is short and its really fucking painful but it doesn’t have to always be like that. At the end of TULoB, Tomas and Tereza give up everything they’ve ever known to live a quiet, peaceful, kinda boring life in the country. Shortly thereafter they day in a freak accident, never to be mourned, never to be remembered. But there is no reason to be sad for them. In those last few years they finally knew happiness. That’s something that we must all strive for: A happy, peaceful end.
Of a book. God, what a beautiful book.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Robin's Poem

Dear Robin Red-Breast,
How is it you can sing,
When it is so cold today?
Does your breath fog like mine,
When you sing,
Outside in the cold today?
Dear Robin Red-Breast,
Why do you bother?
In the world so cold
To whom do you sing?
Who is here to listen?
To hear your sweet song?
Why do you sing out in the cold,
With your notes fogging and cracking,
In the cold, cold air?
You sing for me,
For I will hear you when I stand outside,
When it is so cold today.

"Self Portrait as Bird" by Chris Echesabal

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Blue Frustration

So here’s what bothers me, there are all these different things that could’ve changed and then it wouldn’t have happened, right? I mean for God’s sake, it’s like everything that was put together, everything that I did was just set up for this to happen. Any little thing could’ve been different and this would never have happened.

One: this fucking week. Damn it, I hadn’t left the house in five days. FIVE DAYS! I hadn’t seen anyone except my mom in five days. Was it so wrong to want to go out of the house? Was it so wrong to want to do something with my night? It was Friday night and I wanted to do something damn it! This is what I get though, right? This is what I get for not wanting to be cooped up in my house by myself anymore.
Two: I wanted to see some friends. That’s not wrong is it? I still have friends, right? Are they still friends? I mean they say they want to see me but it’s never the right time. It’s just not. Sorry. Or every once in awhile, yeah, I’m free tonight but I’m not doing anything fun so why don’t you try someone else. Oh gee, thanks guys. Fuck you all. Fuck you all.
Three: My mom said she’d go see the movie with me. Oh good, I get to hang out with my mom some more. Because you know I’m only 22 and she’s the only other human that I spend any other time with. For fuck’s sake, I’m sorry mom, I love you, I really do, but sometimes it would be really nice to spend some actual time with another person. You know, maybe a friend? That would be nice wouldn’t it?
Four: I could’ve seen an earlier movie. I didn’t have to see it at 10:30. No, there was a 9:00 showing as well. But I wanted to go get a coffee and read before the movie. I like seeing late movies right? Because apparently they’re less crowded (both shows were sold out, of course). So I had to go see that later show.
Five: I didn’t even have to park there! No, this guy was pulling out as I was coming in but I didn’t want to wait so I drove around him and parked further in the back. Patience, you bastard! I actually thought it was easier. I hate being that guy that sits in his car and waits for you to pull out, like a parking spot scavenger. They disgust me. So I drove around and found my own spot. I thought it was better!

And that’s it. There you have it. Any of those things could’ve changed and I would still have all four of my car windows.
Oh and to that little punk who actually broke into my car: first of all, wow you suck at breaking into cars. You literally ripped out my key hole and apparently that didn’t work because you still smashed in my window. And then you still didn’t even open my door, you simply leaned through the window and tore through my car, thus horribly limiting the range of things you could even steal! Secondly, congratulations you broke into a car with nothing of any worth in it. You tore apart my arm rest and my glove box and found a shit load of receipts and menus. I hope you enjoyed that. True, you got Guillermo. You got my GPS and for that I commend you. You did get something of worth from the effort. True, he is a five year old GPS device which almost never works, so as far as I’m concerned good riddance! Enjoy, you cowardly little fucker. Enjoy!

There is literally no one I don't hate right now.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In The Dark Nothing Is The Same

(originally composed 2/6/2010)
Oh God, what have I done? Am I so willing to throw it all away? Am I truly that weak? Has there been no progress, no achievements, no wellness at all to be discovered? What happens when the dark descends once more and I am adrift in the cold, cold night? I stumble. I fall. I break down and none of it matters anymore. Wracked with sadness, with anger, with a disgusting self-loathing that is surely unnatural. Where is my reason now? My sanity, my sense of rationalism. I live by a strict dogma of reasonable understanding, so why must my mind fail so quickly to uphold that?

I really don’t even know I’m doing it, do I? It grins up at me like a smiling idiot. It’s lips bright red, gaping. Smiling at me. It makes me happy, doesn’t it? No of course it doesn’t. There is no joy in it, it’s a pain, any pain that isn’t that old pain. It is sharp, burning, crisp. For an instant it will replace that thick, dull, resounding pain and in that there is some emotion. Some something, whatever the fuck it is. The steel is cold in my fingers but it breathes and grows warm at my touch. It is another soul. It is a soul that is stronger than mine. I touch it to my skin and it opens me up, easily. Its power is so much greater than my own. It opens me up and lets me bleed out. For an instant I feel.

In a perfect world, but no. There is no time for such driveling, such pointless speculation and dreaming. This is no perfect world, it is but our world. This world is not but an oversized urn and all of us in it ashes of something that was once beautiful, once human. In a perfect world I wouldn’t need it. I wouldn’t need any of it. I could deal with my problems, I could deal with my feelings. I wouldn’t be plagued by guilt, confusion, uncertainty. I would once again know where I stood. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t need her in order to feel human. In a perfect world, but no.

I am so ashamed of it all. I had such potential. And look at me now. Look at my arm, marked with ugly red lines. Look at the spotted rag next to me, the shame I feel, hiding it all away. In the end, my sad, sad eyes won out. My mind couldn’t keep up with my mind and in the oasis I found nothing but a mirage. My long quest for peace, for solitude and happiness did not end at the edge of a whispering river. No, it ended with bitterness. It ended with a dry, pitiful exhaustion. A fit of shaking and screaming and then quiet. There was no rest here.

I have a long life ahead of me and I know that somewhere out there is my peace. Somewhere is my happiness. Outside the snow is still and quiet. Inside I am tired and sweating, weak and scared. But one day winter will turn to spring. We will all thaw out and grow bright and colorful again. Somewhere is my sun hiding behind a cloud, waiting to come out and shine its warm light on my face. I will find it. I will live to find that warmth, that peace. But there is a long, hard winter ahead of me and as long as it is my arm will be scarred and ugly. And for that I am so sorry.

Hare Krishna

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Short Valentine's Day Poem

And from the top;
A broken heart,
A piece of flint,
A work of art.

Where do we stand?
I just don’t know,
To the outside world,
Keep up the show.

“Please don’t talk to me,”
That’s what I said.
No. I didn’t,
I cried in bed.

And now the end,
It’s all the same,
A broken heart,
On Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

True Stories of Romance

Happy Valentine's Day

I can’t sleep. The bed no longer feels right to me. It feels…what? Unsafe. I sit on the floor, uncomfortable. The carpet itches, the bed frame digs into my back, burning me, ice cold. I sit, my knees pulled up to my chin. I sit in the dark and I think. No, I can’t think. The black, moonless night pours into my room, envelops me. The night is choking me, cutting me, ripping through my skin. Above me she is still asleep. Resting quietly. Peacefully. In her sleep she shows none of the torment that is even now gripping me. She is so beautiful. Laying there like that, sleeping, she is the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. Her pale skin seems to glow in the darkness. It is a beacon to me in the night. She is a light, guiding me out of the storm, into the safety of her heart. Lying next to her in my own bed I’m supposed to feel safe and warm but no. Now it’s all wrong. As I sat on the floor looking up at her, watching her, she grew cold. Her skin, glowing white, alabaster, porcelain, fades to grey. She fades into the dark. Disappears.
And now I am alone in total darkness. I have lost all sense. I am without form, without shape. I am nothing amid an infinite field of nothingness. Empty, alone, I sit. It is so dark. Out of nowhere there is a burst of light, a flash of warmth. A touch brings me back.
I am once again in my own room, crouched awkwardly on the floor. From the bed comes a perfect, pale arm. At one end of that arm a hand reaches out, gently touches my chest. “What are you doing down there?” Her voice is quiet; concerned.
“I couldn’t sleep.” My voice is hollow; weak.
“Come back to bed.” I obey. For one last night I can hold her and feel her warmth. She gives me her light. When I wake up that morning the sun has risen but the light is gone.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Sound of One Hand Crying

The following was taken verbatim from a text conversation I had a few nights ago. Obviously, it's just my side of the conversation but to be fair I was pretty much ignoring everything the other person said to try and calm me down (sorry about that, by the way). The only reason I put this down in my blog is that I believe it's an accurate reflection of me at one of my lowest points and, really, that's what this whole blog is about. Oh, and I should probably say this blog is rated NC17 for adult language.

Ok, I couldn't just ignore it. I have zero self-control. Why would she even do that? What's her angle? I don't understand her. Maybe that fucker she's with died. Do you think he's dead? No, I have to ignore it. I just have to. I don't know how to do anything else. I can. I have to. Oh that fucking chick. Fuck! I mean God damn, its not enough she destroy my life and my sanity, now she has to ask how I'm fucking doing? What the fuck is up with that? What the hell is going on? I was doing so much better. I've worked so damn hard to be better. What the hell happened? What the fuck happened to me? I thought I was better. I really did. I mean fuck, it's been way too long for me to still be doing this shit. How God damn pathetic does this make me? Fucking hell. Four months! It's been almost four fucking months and I'm still a sick fucking child everytime she so much as texts me hello. What the fuck is wrong with me? I mean for fuck's sake, it's been four months! Three fucking weeks later and she's with this fuck. This fucking asshole fuck! Four months later and I can't think straight for a day if I so much as say her name out loud. Fuck me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Story Without An Ending

There once was a star in the sky. He shone brightly throughout the night and he thoroughly enjoyed doing so, night in and night out. Then one night he was alarmed to discover he wasn’t shining quite as brightly as he usually did. “That’s strange,” he said, “I must be sick or something.” And he tried not to think of it any further. The next night he noticed that he was even dimmer than before and that his light was only getting weaker with every passing moment. The star became very worried. His fear made his light falter and grow dimmer still. Soon he was barely glowing at all.
As his light went out, the darkness quickly closed in on him. Now the star was really frightened. He searched the night sky for his friends but the night sky was empty. “Help me! Help me!” he shouted but the dark was all encompassing. The sky was black and barren. He could no longer see anything.
Hopeless, the star cried and prepared to go out. But just as the star flickered with his last weak light he noticed a break in the darkness. The black that surrounded him began to ebb away. Another star had appeared out of the emptiness and it was sharing her light with him. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen before and she shone brighter than any star he’d ever known. She filled him with a bright and shining hope. Together they filled the night sky with joyous star shine. Being next to her, the star was no longer scared. Indeed, when he was with her he couldn’t even imagine the sensation of fear or sadness. He took strength from her inner light, pure and perfect, and he grew stronger. He glowed brighter than he ever had before. At peace, the star closed his eyes and smiled.
Millennia pass in the single breath of a star and when he opened his eyes again she was no longer there. Filled with uncertainty and terror the star faltered, flickered, and went out. Cold and shaking, he knew he was no longer a star, just a stupid rock, alone in the sky. He was empty inside and ugly outside. The heavens were empty and there was no warmth to be found anywhere. There was nothing left for him, nothing left for a star whose light is dead. There was nothing left for a blackened rock in a black sky except to simply fade off into the abyss, to disappear into the endless nothing of space. But wait…
There in the distance. Was it something? No, it couldn’t be, there’s nothing left out there. And yet, maybe. A light? No, just a speck of dust surely. He closed his eyes again. Still, he couldn’t quite shake the feeling that there was still something out there. Something was silently calling out to him. Something was telling him that he would shine again. Somehow, someday he would surely shine again.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

An Open Letter To My Love

To The Love of My Life,

How does one open a letter to an unknown recipient? I had wanted to write “Good evening” because it is currently nighttime as I write this but who knows when you shall read this letter and “good evening” seems rather irreverent in that regard. Simply saying “hello” or “greetings” lacks the familiarity with which I would hope to address you, the woman I love. And so, without a proper opening, I will simply begin. I hope you, my love, will understand.
Tonight I bought you a gift. Her name is Lillian and she is a small, plush bear from Starbucks. I had retreated to this coffee house as a refuge from tonight’s Super Bowl, in order that I might hide myself from time and the reality of the modern world which plagues me so. So to Starbucks I ran and buried myself in a book: Milan Kundera’s masterpiece The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The strange romance of the characters, trapped in their existential dilemmas, somehow put my restless mind at ease. After two hours pouring myself into the novel, I prepared to leave and, as I was packing up my things, saw the bear grinning out at me from a shelf. Silently she called out to me. She told me that she belonged to you and that I must keep her safe until I can deliver her to you.
I don’t know if I know you yet. We may already be friends or perhaps I’ve only met you on one or two short occasions. And perhaps I have not yet met you. Perhaps you are a stranger to me still, and deep down you’re waiting for me to find you. Whether or not I know you, you are out there somewhere for me. Lillian sits here on my desk and she waits for you too. One day I will know you and I will know that you are the love of my life and on that day I shall deliver her to you, a gift whose destiny has connected it from me to you.

With all my love,


Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Winter's Tale #1: Clearing The Driveway

Snow doesn’t really burn, did you know that? It melts, yes, but then it sort of puts itself out. It certainly doesn’t spread, it melts itself and then just kinda sits there. It’s weird, you know, even at this age you’re constantly learning new things.
I wake up and look out my window; it has snowed another eight inches or so over night. This brings total accumulation to over two feet. My car sits pathetically in the driveway, almost completely buried. I’m going to need to clear the driveway now that its stopped snowing. God forbid we get some freezing rain before I clear it and it all freezes up. Time to earn my keep.
I prepare for the extreme temperature, the biting winter cold. I put on my compression shorts, a pair of thick pants, two pairs of socks, my boots, a thick shirt, a hooded sweatshirt, two pairs of gloves, and my awesomest winter hat. I head into the garage, grab the snow shovel and I’m ready.
A minute and a half later and I’m sweating profusely. I’ve cleared roughly a square foot of driveway; my back aches, my arms are burning with effort and my legs are shaking. I take off my hat and gloves then sit on an overturned box in the garage looking at my work so far. I’m a little tired but, all told, not bad. As I look on dumbly, the snow from the top of my car shakes then quietly slides off and falls to the ground, perfectly filling up the space of driveway I had just cleared. Son of a bitch!
There has to be an easier way to do this, I just know it. These people with their shovels, they’re a bunch of chumps. I’m going to clear the driveway and I’m going to do it without the backbreaking labor. A light bulb appears above my head. An idea! I walk to the back of the garage, searching. Aha! I see its black nozzle sticking up above the rubbish. I pull out the red tank, it’s too light. Empty. Shit. Not a problem, I remember that our next door neighbor, a weird old man who doesn’t like to wear a shirt when he’s outside, has like eight tanks of gasoline in his garage for some reason.
I walk over to his house and knock on the door. A minute later he’s standing in front of me in the doorway, his bare flabby chest roughly the same color as the snow outside. What is this guy’s deal? Gross. Anyways, time for the business at hand. I ask him if I could borrow some gasoline from him as we’re out. “Sure no problem,” he says. He walks back into the house and I can see him from the door as he pulls open the TV cabinet and returns with a gallon tank of gasoline. “So what do you need the gas for?” he asks.
Shit. Ok, you knew this was going to happen, don’t panic. “It’s for my…” I pause. Quick, come up with a good lie. “It’s for my driveway.” Wow. Good lie, dumb ass. “Hey shut up! I didn’t hear you coming up with anything better.” Hmmm, really shouldn’t have said that out loud. He looks at me quizzically for a long while. I try to smile my most convincing smile, still hoping to salvage the situation but instead I make that face you make when you’re trying really hard not to sneeze. He shrugs and hands me the red plastic tank. Sweet.
I start my work by pouring out a perimeter around the driveway with the gas. The yellowish liquid instantly seeps down into the snow, making an ugly line all around our driveway. Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea and think that I was being foolish here. I was doing this with all due safety. In case something went wrong, I made sure I had a fire extinguisher. It was in the house. Somewhere. I think. I mean who doesn’t have a fire extinguisher in their house, right? Anyways, if anything went wrong I’d just go inside and find it. Besides, its fucking snow, right? What’s the worst that could happen?
After making my perimeter to contain the fire, I poured out neat, straight lines going from the edge of the lawn, over my car, all the way to my neighbor’s lawn. As I held the match in my hand I thought to myself, God damn I’m a genius.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

After The Sky Fell

It had been a few weeks since the sky had fallen when I was walking to the park along what had once been P Street. The cleaning process for all this was enormous and we had been told that it would still be months to a year before all the bits of sky were cleaned up from the streets. I picked my way over debris and bits of broken up sky, found an old trash can lying on its side across the sidewalk and moved it next to someone’s house. Walking through this part of Georgetown was never easy, the old brick streets were always a pain, but now it was just absurd. Huge bits of sky and old, rotting clouds lay about the sidewalk causing you to walk well out of your way to get around them. There were about three blocks along M Street that were totally unusable due to the amount of sky that crashed down there. Rosslyn was a mess.
I got to the park and cleared off a chunk of sky to sit down on. It was cold, a bit wet from morning dew, and felt rather like sitting on a thick glass table. Out before me, the field looks cold and empty. No longer a place of cheer and recreation, it is frighteningly quiet these days. The grass spreads out before me, the blades dark and foreboding with moisture. No flower can be seen anywhere. There are no trees. Only grass. In this sad, empty park, sitting on a broken piece of sky I feel so very alone.
From somewhere I hear music. Someone is singing. The sound is barely audible, little more than a whisper on the breeze, but it is unmistakable to me as music. It floats on the air before my eyes and it is unmistakably the color of music. It is hauntingly beautiful; slow and solemn, riding the minutest changes in the still air. It does not flash or glimmer like some songs. It dances slowly; falling down in supplication, kissing gently the wet grass before rising again with quiet dignity. It strikes me as weak, dancing about as if under an enormous weight. Or an enormous pressure. It wanders about, meaningfully but slowly, with great difficulty. Finally, I see it fall.
It falls and is heard no more. The quiet that follows is staggering. I am not surprised to find that I am weeping.
A moment later the bird flies down. She lands next to me, perched on my bench of broken sky. “What’s wrong?” She chirps. Her concern is genuine, if not sentimental.
“I feel so alone.”
“That’s because you are alone. We are all of us completely alone.” She says this matter-of-factly, without malice, without emotion at all. “Our lives are our own. Our feelings, our existences are wholly individual. You are alone and you can’t live a proper, happy life if you’re in denial of that fact. Your life is your own and now that you know that you have to go and make it your own.”
For the first time I truly mourn the loss. The sky is gone. Forever. The light has faded, diminished, extinguished and it will never come back. I cry loudly, my face contorted and ugly. My own weakness sickens me. “Get away from me. Leave me alone.”
“I’m always here for you.”
“Get the fuck away from me!” I scream. My strength is gone. I fall to the ground. The wet grass stabs my skin and I shake convulsively, sickly. They have become knives and they slice me open. I am wracked with pain, with guilt, with fear and loneliness. The permanence of the situation has finally dawned on me. The sky crashes anew, falling on me, breaking my bones, breaking my spirit. I am being crushed by the weight of the emptiness around me. Inside my head I’m screaming. The pressure builds and builds inside me, rattling my skull and pushing against this barrier of bone. Finally, it explodes out of me. I’m screaming, crying, bursting. My ears bleed, my nose bleeds, my eyes bleed.
I shake once, twice, and then I am silent and still on the ground. The bird is still perched above me. “I’m always here for you,” she says.
“I know,” I breathe.
There is no more.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Do You Remember When 21 Years Was Old?

Today we welcome into the world Isaac Tomas Rogers. Congratulations to the proud first time parents Christa and Phill. Weird...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Book Reviews? Has It Come To This Already?

I’ve been doing this blog for just about a month now and I’m fairly happy with it. I have a hard time gauging who reads this, and I guess it would be inappropriate of me to ask people to proclaim themselves each time. I don’t need any kind of reader’s list. And I don’t want to find myself, knowingly or otherwise, to be leaning my writings towards a suspected audience. However, the purpose of this blog is to engage with my psyche in an open and public way. I sincerely that by doing this I can also engage with you, the readers, whoever you may be. That being said, I greatly appreciate comments. Honestly, anything at all. I’m made exceptionally happy every time I receive that email that says “So-and-so has commented on your blog”. So if anything I write touches you, makes you think, or engages you in any way, please comment.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to get to tonight’s topic. Since taking my leave from grad school I’ve found the wonderful opportunity to once again read for pleasure. I went through my library and picked out all the books I’d bought over the last few months that I’ve not had the chance to read and put them in several large piles in my room. Since then I’ve been trying to do about a book a week and have, more or less, succeeded. Here is a short review of all the books I’ve read since Christmas.

1)The Wild Things by Dave Eggers – you know, even after reading it, and pondering it for more than a month, I can’t decide how I feel about it. The Maurice Sendak book is brilliant for what it is, the movie by Spike Jones was exactly what I wanted it to be, and this book…well I just don’t know. It was good, I won’t deny that. And I love everything I’ve ever read by Dave Eggers but did I love this book? I just don’t know. Pathetically, it made me have a major depressive episode at one point simply because of a character’s name. God, I hate that fucking name. Do I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely.
2)Zeitoun by Dave Eggers – I love Dave Eggers and I loved this book. There was none of the doubt I felt after reading Wild Things. This book, a work of non-fiction, tells the story of Zeitoun, a Syrian-American living in New Orleans who is arrested in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and held secretly for months without contact with his wife and the outside world. The book is a horrifying look at how people with no malice in their hearts can ruin someone’s life. Do I recommend this book? Yes, everyone should read this book. Everyone.
3)Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett – Oh, Terry Pratchett. You’re what I read when I need an easy, fun book. I specifically picked this book because it featured the Night Watch, the members of which are my favorite characters in the Disc World series. It was good. It wasn’t the best Pratchett book I’ve ever read, but it was a pleasant read. Do I recommend this book? I guess. It makes a good introduction to the Disc World series so if you want to get into Terry Pratchett this is a good place to start.
4)The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami – I went to the bookstore because Emily told me to read Kafka on the Shore and when they didn’t have it, I decided to buy this one instead. It’s a collection of short stories and gives a really good introduction to Murakami’s writing style, and I suppose to what Kafka will be like. Boy, was it weird. The stories are about utterly forgettable people doing stuff just slightly out of their normal lives but is written in a brilliantly different style. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. It didn’t make me happy or mad or anything but it intrigued the hell out of me. Do I recommend this book? Yes, if you want to read something weird.
5)Life of Pi by Yann Martel – I’ve seen this at bookstores for years and I’ve always meant to pick it up sometime. I had absolutely no idea what it was about going into it and when I put it down I was utterly surprised by it. This book should be on every highschool English class reading list. That I didn’t read it in highschool is a terrible failing on the part of my teachers: Lundholm, Ressler, Auvdel, and Kinnard. Shame on you all. In short, this book is absolutely brilliant and I loved it. Do I recommend this book? If you’ve never read this book, go get it from a library and read it right now.
6)Boomsday by Christopher Buckley – Buckley is touted as the great American political satirist of his age. I really enjoyed Thank You For Smoking which played on the lobbying and PR world. I enjoyed Florence of Arabia but I didn’t care for No Way To Treat A First Lady and none of his other books ever interested me enough to pick up until I read the back cover of Boomsday. It was a good book, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it. It didn’t make me laugh out loud but it made me smile, so that’s something. It’s not his best and it felt like it could’ve been more but kudos to Buckley for writing it. Do I recommend this book? If you’ve read Buckley and know you like him, yes. Otherwise don’t bother.
7)What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell – I didn’t really know what to expect from this book. It’s a collection of Gladwell’s best articles from the New Yorker. The New Yorker magazine is one of those things that I like in theory because I’m an intellectual white middle class college guy but in reality I almost never read it. Nonetheless, I’d heard good things about this and so when it was on sale at the bookstore, I bought it. Anyways, what can I say? Some of the articles I really loved, the ones on birth control and the eponymous article about Cesar Milan was really cool but some of them I really just skimmed. Kinda hit or miss, which is to be expected from such a project. Do I recommend this book? If you’re the kind of intellectual who sees the New Yorker on newsstands and says, “Ah, yes the New Yorker. Hmmm.” Then you’ll probably enjoy this book. At least parts of it. Probably.
8)Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett – Again, Pratchett soothes my pallet after a harder read like Gladwell’s. I picked out this title because I’ve never read anything about the character Rincewind, although he’s apparently one of the major characters of the series. So I picked up this one, about him. Again, it wasn’t my favorite. It’s an older book of his and I recognized few of the characters but it had the same sense of fun and subtle satire that I come to expect from Pratchett. Do I recommend this book? I don’t know if it’s one you’d get to introduce yourself to Disc World, but it’s a good middle book if you’ve already read a bit of his stuff. Maybe.
9)The “Good War” by Studs Terkel – This book is an oral history of World War II. That is, a series of transcribed interviews with participants of the war. It focuses almost exclusively on the American experience, which gives it a nice sense of collectiveness, that something trying to encompass the entire war would lack. It does however, span across all the fronts, as well as the home, and ranges from children to privates, to generals, to their wives, to interred Japanese, to black battalion members. I’ll admit I skipped over some chunks of this book, it’s a well known secret that I don’t care much for individual histories, and especially don’t care about home front war experiences. Nevertheless, this is one of the preeminent histories of the American experience in World War II and I’m glad I read it. Do I recommend this book? Are you a historian? Then yes, you should absolutely read this. If not, then you won’t make it through part I.
10)Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – Oh my God, I love Neil Gaiman. I shouldn’t even say anything beyond that. Since I first picked up American Gods a few years ago, I’ve been absolutely blown away by everything Gaiman pens. I’ve waited this long to read Neverwhere though because the synopsis on the back simply never appealed to me. However, having finally read, I was, once again, blown away by Gaiman’s genius. I can only hope to one day have his writing ability. Do I recommend this book? Yes. Done.
Okay, so that was a bit longer than I thought. I won’t be doing a post like this again, or else no one is ever going to read this damn thing. Anyways, if you’re ever looking for a book to read, I have no shortage of recommendations. Um…in conclusion, keep reading my blog. Please. And comment. Thank you. And Happy February.