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.