Monday, July 2, 2012

The Build Up

Independence Day

 There are several things I need to say.

 One of them is that just once I wish I was sure when a fireworks show was actually over. Not, 'okay, was that the finale?' but 'wow, the finale was great.'

 First off, I am not a huge fan of fireworks anyway. Literally burning money. Second off, the fact that we do it to celebrate America's independence from England is also a little ridiculous. It is basically simulating the "bombs bursting in air," right? That's the idea, isn't it? Well, that is is little fucked up to me. How many people died from those bombs? Or the bombs that have gone off or are going off or will go off in order for America to ensure the freedom that Independence Day commemorates?

 To be clear, this post is not meant to be anti-American. America is great, for the most part. Most of the things that piss me off on a daily basis are those first world problems that always end up as internet memes. What I am angry about now is not America, or being American, or freedom, or any of that. What I am mad about now is the entire process. Yes, I think we should celebrate our country's history. Yes, I think we deserve to celebrate. But we need to know what it is we are celebrating. We need to know why. Maybe a Bud Light and an artillery shell is all we are celebrating. Maybe that is America. 

But if that's the case, don't bring freedom or liberty or any intangibles into the equation. If we are going to talk intangibles, then all the 4th of July should be is an entire day of silence. A day to reflect on what we were and what we are now. Not a day off work to dehydrate ourselves and blow shit up. Let's be real about this.

 Anyway, I've gotten off track. I should have mapped this out better.

 Fireworks. I hate them. There is no finality. Certainly not the finality I am interested in. Like the closing of one chapter of my life and the beginning of another one.

 I'm moving. It's not much of a move, but it is a necessary one. One that should have happened a while ago, but one that I put off. Because I was comfortable. Because I was afraid of not being comfortable. 

For the next two years, maybe more, I have committed my life to the study of International Politics. It is definitely not the dramatic decision I dreamed up when I realized that this chapter was in need of an ending. But, I have found through my studies in literature that the large, grandiose endings in works of literature are often overdone, bordering on stupid.

 So, for now, I will subtly transition to the chapter of my life I will call, for lack of a better title, "The Build Up"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Summer is Coming

With summer, comes decisions for me. I am forcefully uprooting myself, because, as my grandmother taught me on endless summer days helping her in the back garden, that is really the only way to kill a weed. In fact, last summer, when that same Grandmother died, I clung to the life I had already set up for myself-- my friends, my town, my family-- anything that seemed normal or safe. So, as for this summer, I believe the opposite should happen. I have allowed myself to sit comfortably, knowing that I was unhappy, despite being comfortable, for too long. A year wasted by delving too much in my terrible mindset and psuedo-depression.

Though, this year has not been an entire loss. In spite of not being closer to goals I had set for myself, I have, in fact, been writing a lot. A longer work that started in June 2011, and now is, I can say with relative certainty, done. Short stories (which are a monster I am still attempting to tame), and a few poems that turned out a little better than mere scribbles. On top of that, a friend and I (though mostly his doing) have put together a series of readings in town. So, in my intensely small microcosm of life, there were some successes to take out of Fall 2011 and Spring 2012. I have found it is best not to think big picture at this point.

As for where this summer will take me, I can honestly say that I do not know. This is something I have fretted about for a while, as every resume I sent out received no reply, when nothing more than more dead ends fell into my lap. It sucked. It continues to suck. But, I realized something recently that I think is at least somewhat true of my situation-- it doesn't matter where I go. I mean, it matters in that whenever I go will be the physical space I will occupy, and it would be nice to enjoy it, but it honestly doesn't matter as far as my own goals are concerned. When I say it doesn't matter, what I am really saying is that there is no real wrong decision. I go one place and try to make a decent life, or I go another to another and attempt the same. OKC or L.A., Bismarck, N.D. or Hong Kong. It doesn't matter. Sure, I would much rather be in Hong Kong than North Dakota, but the principle is that same-- it is going to be difficult to make a go of it where ever you end up. The variable, I guess, would be the opportunities unique to each place, and the age-old adage that social connections fair better than outright knowledge.

Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stockholm Syndrome

Have you ever been trapped? Like, truly trapped? And not the convenient kind of trapped, wherein you don't really have a choice in the matter. I am talking about being trapped and seeing escape routes around every corner, and yet you continue to allow yourself to be kept in a place against your will.

Tonight, it's raining. It's pouring. I won't burden you with imagery, because everyone knows what rain is. If not, I fear for the amount of fruits and vegetables available to you. I think it might finally be Spring. The season of new birth, the shedding of skin, the stretching and yawning after months of hibernation. Spring is a time to move. Time to escape from whatever it is that has trapped you the past few months.

I'm being cryptic, I know. So let me get to the point: I need to leave this place.

Kansas is a minimum security prison: sure, they give you enough food, treat you relatively fairly, and provide you with ample free time, but it's still captivity. There is still a free world out there beyond the walls. The problem with this prison is that the walls are transparent. There's no barbed wire keeping you in, or riflemen manning the towers,the doors stand wide opened. There is just you, standing, looking out, and despite some of the inmates accepting you into their inner circle, and the excitement that every Wednesday is fried chicken for lunch, you still know that it is not freedom. Heh, maybe it's the lack of conjugal visits that reminds me... Metaphorically speaking, of course.

I know all this, and yet, I cannot bring myself to step outside the gates. Cannot throw my shoulders back, stand tall, and walk straight out, without fearing what will happen. You always hear of those chronic inmates who keep going back to jail because it's the only world they understand. Well, it's dramatic, but I sympathize.

I feel like if there was someone or something standing outside the gates, beckoning me to leave, to take that step and not look back, then surely I would have no problem walking out of there with my head held high. But there is not. There is only me. Me and my damned stockholm syndrome.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And the addiction takes hold like a python, and you fall into it...

My name is Eric, and I am an addict. I have been an addict for approximately two years. My symptoms? An intense desire to see the road whipping by me at incredible speeds. A complete feeling of awe at the exhilaration of being completely lost in the home town of others, and above all, my main symptom comes from the withdrawals... When I am off the wagon (or on it, depending on your outlook) I have visions. They are quick, maybe a millisecond long. I will be walking down the street, and see a biker, or a street sign, or even the hear the mention of a canal, and my past flashes before me like a junkie coming down.

I am addicted to the very thought of moving. A planning session for an imaginary trip to somewhere foreign sends me into a fever. I cannot go even one day without escaping to a place I have been for merely a few months. Suddenly and without provocation, I am riding a bike through the streets of Nijmegen, Netherlands. It is raining and there is not an end to the storm in sight. The moon peaks through the rounded ends of two blue-grey and pillowy clouds, and I am smiling, because I always was back then. I am bombarded by a cacophony of Polish and Danish and Spanish and Dutch, which is translated to me by a Hungarian guitar player.

I cannot explain my addiction fully, because when one is confronted with the completely irrevocable notion of existing in a place that is not one's own, there is nothing left at the end but the failure of any and every language that has ever existed.

Every language except the unspoken one. The only form of communication available to those who truly understand it. To those who have sat in Amsterdam coffee shops and outside
convenience stores in Korea. There are no words for the last cigarette of the night with those you are truly into.

This, my friends, is my addiction. That right now, I could have the greatest night of my life, and I would still think of the past. Because of this, I will not do the twelve steps. I will not go cold turkey. I will never, nor could I, stop the adrenaline rush of seeing the Coliseum rise up before you past the end of a beer bottle. There is not stopping the visions of the Grote Markt at dawn, with little Dutch ladies pickign through vats of freshly picked corn and wheat. It will forever be in me. It will forever occupy some territory of what is me. A begrudging Lichtenstein refusing conquer.

I am not sad for this. I know that I should be. But if there is one thing on this microscopic landmass that makes even the slightest sense, it is the euphoria I feel by becoming lost. If I am never cured, if I am never found, I will still shoot up the nostalgia of Nijmegen, of Rome, of Brussels, of Seoul, of New York City, of Phoenix, of Dublin, of Jukjeon, of Emporia, KS, U.S.A. and laugh, because happiness is only luck, and I am one of the luckier ones.

I conclude with a wish...

If I could be in one place right now, just one... And I had only a split second to decide. I would be on a train in Europe, going anywhere it took me.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Uncaring... Rephrase that... Oblivious American

The above link is attached to an interesting article about America's former fascination with studying/reading about/writing about/ keeping updated on/etc. everything French.

I thought the article was pretty interesting because I think that there is something to be said on the subject concerning today's version of "The American" juxtaposed with the version from the early 20th century.

In particular here I am talking about literature, because that is my typical m.o. The Lost Generation, consisting of Pound, Eliot, Hemingway, Plath, Falkner,etc, was particularly into the expat gig. The Beats were no different (see: Beat Hotel). These writers were constantly obsessed with other cultures and this influenced many of their works (see: Naked Lunch, Sun Also Rises, Farewell to Arms, Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Yage Letters, etc, etc, etc).

These guys and gals were representative of a cultural mindset of the time. Though, I guess it could be argued that these people were exceptions to the way Americans typically acted, but I don't know that for sure. To me, these two generations of writers represented the way Americans thought. France was the cultural capital of the world, the far-east was thought of as a place of wisdom, Mexico, South America and Africa-- havens for the adventurous and rebellious. It was from that mindset that Americans thought of the world. Americans were interested in exploring the world outside our borders.

I bring this up now because I no longer think it is true. I really just don't see the same kind of energy being put into being a global citizen as I have seen in studying the early 20th century. This may be a bit shortsided because I don't really know how the entire population acted and felt, but I do know how a select few writers acted and felt. I think it can be said with little to no opposition that these writers were the greatest of their times. Part of being the greatest is being a voice for the voiceless, so to speak. They are representatives of the whole, or if not the whole, then at least a significant portion of the whole. Therefore they were speaking for their generation of like-minded individuals.

I just do not see the kind of adventurous spirit now that I saw then. That is very sad to me. The writing I enjoy, and the writing I attempt to create is almost primarily fueled by juxtaposing my life in America to the places I have been and what I have been taught by travel. I am not comparing myself to Hemingway or anything, I am just saying that there is a lot to be learned from travel. The Lost Gen. knew that. The Beats knew that. I don't think America's contemporary writers are focusing on travel as a way to transcend and learn what cannot be learned at home.

Maybe it is because there is just too much to worry about on the home front. Maybe there is just too much fonder for good writing currently in America. This may be true, but it is not as if the previous American writers ignored America completely. It's exactly the opposite. Ginsberg and Kerouac defined a generation by writing about the America they saw. But sometimes it is only possible to see the problem from the outside. It is by doing this that we can really get past the surface stuff and analyze what is really going on in our own country.

And besides that, we stop looking like elitist douches.

Just one man's opinion.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm Back... Because I care

So, I guess I will start this thing up again. Why? Because it is currently 11:11 p.m. and I am very, very bored. I am currently sitting in my bed in Emporia with my laptop on my lap covered in blankets despite the fact that it is about 80 degrees outside. It comforting, I guess. As I write this, my roommate is currently in his room on the other side of the wall to my left. He is with his girlfriend. And, I think, but I'm not sure, that they are both giggling. It might just be her, but I think there is a lower pitched one in there too. Anyway, it's annoying.

I'm not really sure what to write in this post, I kind of just wanted to start up again, because, you know, I am very, very bored. But I suppose I could leave you with something, if there is even anyone reading this... This summer I have come to realize, because of two main events, which I will get to in a bit, that all those people who tell you to live 'one day at a time' are full of shit. Seriously. It is so much easier to see your life on a plane than to see it as a series of connected, yet separate events, or days. And besides that, that is just not how life works. Every day lends itself to the next day, it all piles up and shapes everything. Obviously, this is kind of a "no shit" thing to say, but it completely debunks the 'live one day at a time' mindset, so it had to be said. To explain, I will use the two aforementioned events.

Event number one-- My maternal grandmother died on July 1st after a relatively short (about two months) bout with cancer. I will spare you the sappy 'she was such a strong person' and 'one of the greatest people I have ever met' routine because, frankly, none of it would mean a damn thing to you. What I will say is that it was so much easier throughout the entire process of her dying to think about it from a long-term perspective. What I mean is, I thought of myself at 50, and the memories I would want to have about my Grandma during this time. My 50 year self would, I decided, want me to be by her bed as often as possible, while the 23 year-old me might want to, I don't know, get drunk and bang out a horrid version of Tom Petty's Free Falling with an equally drunk guitarist. The 'one day at a time' part of me failed miserably during this time. Every time I got into that attitude, it did not end in the best possible management of time spent with her.

Slight tangent-- everyone kept telling me to 'live one day at a time' during the entire ordeal, and it was all the more infuriating. I know they were trying to console me, but COME ON! That is terrible advice to give, especially since most of those who told me this were older (50 or up), so, I assume, they had been through death before. Now, I suppose it is entirely possible that the 50 year-old version of myself that I created in my mind is a friggin' moron, and that the REAL me at 50 will look back and shake his head in disgust, but I suppose time will only tell (if I don't decide to join the 27 Club).

Event number two-- This one is going to look stupid compared to the previous one, but I have decided to postpone going to grad. school for a least a year. I think I would have loved school, but funding was an issue. I also feel like I should do some living for awhile. When I was having a lot of trouble making the decision, I kept thinking that it was a now or never thing, but once I stopped with the 'one day at a time' mindset, I realized that I do not have to set in motion the entirety of my future at 23, and for that matter nobody should. Once I got it in my head that I WASN'T having some sort of existential crisis, I was able to figure out what I wanted. It really was that simple-- a change in mindset.

Anyway, I am glad I am blogging and hopefully there is someone reading. If not, whatever, it's therapeutic.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aqueous Transmission

I find it rewarding to write
in the hangover mornings,
or early afternoons
when the smell of ribs and cigarettes
still sticks to your nostril and palms
and the tastes of assorted acids
threaten to invade your esophagus

like swallowing your pride
like swallowing your hopeless soul

when the rain in your jacket is still soaking in

freezing to the bone
freezing to your hopeless, ignorant soul

These hangover mornings when coffee seems to perpetuate
the eyes-wide-open-in-complete-adoration
feeling of the night-
everything you love about being alive
combined with everything death deals in

jumping for joy
jumping out of that pathetic little synthetic soul of yours

hangover mornings that turn to hangover noons,
with nothing to do but plan last night again
hangover mornings that keep me alive,
remind me I'm human
I'd forgotten in the immortal night
forgotten till my soul,
my laughably feeble soul reminded me