Surrender

kveikurI’m never been much for podcasts. I can’t tell if that’s my own biases against being introduced to a new medium or a problem with the medium itself. Did people dismiss early cinema as nothing more than a novelty because they hadn’t yet seen what it could become? It’s quite possible. A lot of podcasts, to me, sound like a bunch of friends shooting the shit. That’s it. I’m sorry, but you need to have more than that if you want me to listen to it. I don’t even have that many friends and I think listening to other people and their friends talk about nothing is boring. Seriously, I don’t get it: What is the appeal of listening to people you don’t know go on random comedic tangents for an hour or more without ever coming to a point? I’m not trying to be dismissive here, but I honestly do not understand why people like some of this crap. This American Life is about people’s lives, and the stories are organized around a theme. Savage Love is relationship advice. WTF With Marc Maron is interviews, although he opens with a story. Even with a podcast, there has to be a point.

Maybe I’m weird, but I like to think of everything as a potential learning experience. Even if I’m just going down the street for a burger, I feel like I’m cheating myself if I’m not looking for a chance to be enriched, entertained, or educated. A lot of new media doesn’t do it for me: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. That probably does have more to do with the fact that those platforms are relatively new, but I don’t particularly like any of them, which means that I’m kind of an old fuddy-duddy even though I’m in my 20s. I’m getting left behind, but admittedly, it is by my choice. Since I’m straying into well-trod territory here, let me shift gears and talk about a story that is constantly updating: LGBT equality. Specifically, let’s talk about the wide world of sports. More and more athletes are coming out, and while very few of them are doing so at the professional level, it’s only a matter of time. I think what’s holding us back is that even though there are parallels between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, there are some differences, and we have to acknowledge that as well.

There is something very primal about sexuality that race and possibly even gender don’t touch. It’s not something that you can often tell just by looking at someone, and that confuses a lot of people. More importantly, it causes a lot of LGBT people to think that there is something special about them if you can’t tell just by looking at them. Sometimes you can, but that’s not the point. It’s been such a lazy stereotype for so long that gay men aren’t into sports that now that we are learning that some of our athletes are gay, we need to stop acting like it’s that big of a shock. Yes, some gay men love sports. And some straight men love fashion. Could you seriously not have figured that out on your own? It’s ironic that sports are typically held up as a bastion of masculinity, because really, what is gayer than slapping on tight pants and shoulder pads and slamming into other guys for a while? Football’s pretty gay too, come to think of it.

I’ve learned by now that people will never leave you alone if you let them do it on their terms. This does not mean that you have to shut everyone out for fear that they will hurt you, only that you have to own your own words and actions, whatever they are. As I’ve probably said before, I have a million regrets. But I’m not sorry for anything. I just don’t have the time. You can roll your eyes when I say that I’m the greatest human being who ever lived, but as far as I’m concerned, I am, and who are you to tell me I’m wrong? It’s all about living in the present, not that I’m all that good at that. I spend most of my time brooding in my room. The only person I can name who hated humanity more than I do is Bill Hicks, and he died at 32 because he didn’t take very good care of his body. I’ve heard multiple people quote George Carlin as saying, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that leave you breathless.” Bullshit. Carlin didn’t say that. That’s from a chain email that somebody claimed was written by him. He would never have said something so trite and meaningless.

I have decided that there is one thing about California that I’m going to miss when I eventually get out of here, and that’s In-N-Out Burger. There is no other fast food chain that compares to it. It’s not the best burger around, just the best burger you can get for under $10. Double-double animal style, there is no competition. New York has Five Guys, but aside from the fries, there’s nothing too remarkable about them, and I say that as somebody who used to eat there pretty regularly. We all have our fast food, I suppose.

I’m not a very good judge of what will take off and what doesn’t. This blog has never climbed very far about 1,000 hits per month, and even then very briefly. Whatever. What I have to say these days doesn’t quite fit into this format, and maybe that’s for the best. Because I want to push outward. I want to find out just what I can get away with and what I’m capable of. And when that’s done, I want time to watch season two of Orphan Black. I go at my own pace, is what I’m trying to say. Don’t try to stop me.

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In the Morning

I said when I left New York for California that I was going into what I thought of as an exile. It’s been over a year since that happened, and it really wasn’t my choice. I’ve never been able to uproot myself completely. I had a very awkward experience my freshman year of college when I returned to my high school to see the improv club perform and ended up performing in the show. It wasn’t like I was trying to pass myself off as a student, so I don’t suppose there was anything wrong with it, but man, did it ever feel weird. When I was in grad school, I frequently found myself wishing that I could pop by California for just a few hours or the same way that I spent many weekends in my first year of college at my parents’ house and still revisit my college town on occasion. (I’m not always there just to walk around. I have friends over there and sometimes, there’s a movie showing that isn’t available where I live.) I’m starting to worry that some of the people I hang out with are a bit too much like me. So maybe it’s time to get out of this town.

It’s probably better to feel as if you are leaving shit behind rather than getting out just to get away from all this stuff. And I definitely won’t be able to move back to NYC anytime soon, for reasons both financial and otherwise. What I know for certain is that I’m getting tired of this shit. I’m tired of this wussy climate. I’m tired of having to commute sometimes several hours in order to spend time with a friend. I’m tired of being reminded of shit that I did growing up but don’t really care about anymore. I don’t know if my high school has reunions, but if it does, I’m never going to one. That’s a promise.

A lot of my coworkers at the coffee shop knew each other previously. I didn’t know anyone there when I walked in and was older than most of them anyway, if only by a few years. I can’t help that I prefer to hold myself at kind of a distance from the LGBT community. I hate it when people say, “Being gay is only a small part of who I am” because no, it isn’t; I just think that it’s a mistake to define yourself in terms of how well you do or don’t fit in with a particular group. It is one thing to look at certain issues through rainbow-colored lenses and quite another to make everything about gender and sexuality. The former is not only fine but vital and perhaps even inevitable. The latter is dull. Dull, dull, dull. And I know I’ve talked about this before but that doesn’t make it any less true.

I worried for a long time about how I was going to keep in touch with all my friends when we lived on opposite sides of the country. The obvious answer to that is that sometimes people drift apart. The ones that don’t stay in contact via Skype or social media or Pony Express or telegraph or whatever the hell else you’ve got. And I think the rocky quality of my social life up until this point is due to the fear that my friends will forget me if I don’t stay in constant contact with them. One of my best friends from college is getting his Ph.D in condensed matter physics at Urbana-Champaign Illinois. I haven’t seen him in over three years, but you had better believe I want to see him again. I hope he feels the same way about me. Because we haven’t talked in a while.

Maybe the frustration here is that I can’t seem to distinguish between people who are really important to me and people who are only kind of important. It’s okay, I guess, to have friendly acquaintances with whom you exchange Christmas cards but don’t actually see much if at all, but then again, writing Christmas cards sounds like a real drag. My parents sit down to do them every year around December and…God no, I don’t want to go there.

There are a lot of nice people in the world, but as for people I would actually want to get to know, the list is rather short. Someday, I might like to meet my heroes, but of course, there’s nothing that says I should have to be friends with them. When I leave this state for good, perhaps it will feel necessary more than anything else. I’m not itching to get out of here, but the fact remains that I never really liked it all that much to begin with. And I might return periodically for the holidays and whatnot, but don’t count on it. Because people need to reach out to me from time to time, and while I didn’t write this to point fingers at anyone, I think some of them could try a little harder on that front. Of course, the ones I’d really want to see this probably aren’t the ones reading it. So it goes.

It should not come as news to most of you that reading YouTube comments is a bad idea. I still do it sometimes for reasons I can’t begin to fathom. After reading way more of them than any reasonable person should, I have concluded that most people are fucking idiots, and that most of the racist/misogynistic stuff attacking Obama/Anita Sarkeesian/Nelson Mandela/Dora the Explorer/whoever the fuck the trolls are after these days are left by a small group of people with diagnosable mental disorders brought together by a shared need to live in a bigoted fantasy rather than the real world. It’s pretty much the only way I can maintain my faith in humanity. Not that there was much of that to begin with.

 

The Devil’s Advocate

firefoxA question is not a question if there is only one answer. That’s all I have to say about the firing of Brendan Eich. Okay, some of you are bound to point out that he resigned rather than being fired, which is a little bit like saying that Richard Nixon resigned rather than being impeached. It’s technically true, but misses the point. I can’t reason with you here, people. If the knowledge that the CEO of a company whose product you like contributed to a cause you don’t support so offends you that you demand that he renounce his action and throw himself at your mercy, so be it. But you can support gay marriage and still eat at Chick Fil-A. I think you can oppose gay marriage and still make a decent chicken sandwich. The one thing you don’t have the right to do is drag politics into a realm where it is not relevant. Saying you oppose gay marriage when nobody asked for your opinion on the matter and they would rather just eat your sandwiches is fucking stupid. Last time I checked, Firefox is a web browser and not, I don’t know, a goddamn marriage service or something, so why Eich opposes gay marriage is completely irrelevant. Brendan Eich was not going to marry his gay employees. He apologized to those he hurt (and it wasn’t one of those “If anyone was offended…” bullshit non-apologies, but an actual apology) and pledged to honor his company’s anti-discrimination policy. That should have been enough.

It’s rare that I find myself taking my fellow liberals to task for something, but this is one instance where I think my people are guilty of a bunch of bullshit posturing. Yes, I hear all your arguments about how a CEO is not just an administrator, but the public face of a company and a symbolic leader blah blah blah. But—and I know I’m going to get shit for saying this—these arguments all seem eerily similar to the ones that homophobes use for firing gay teachers. “I don’t have a problem with gay people,” they always say. “I just don’t think that sets the right example for our children.” I hate the argument so many of them employ that we are being intolerant of their intolerance by telling them to shut up, but that’s what’s crazy: Brendan Eich did not state his opinion publicly. People asked about the donation, and while he apparently has a few beliefs that I find repellant (he donated to psychotic bigot Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign in 1992), I fail to understand what any of that has to do with his ability to run a fucking web browser. Being a homophobe (if indeed he is one) did not stop him from inventing JavaScript. So, you know, there’s that.

Refusing to support somebody’s work because you do not like them as a person or disapprove of their personal or religious beliefs is a dangerous road to go down. I have made this point before. Roman Polanski is a child molester. Orson Scott Card is a racist homophobe. Kanye West is just a pompous douchebag. I continue to consume their art because, whaddaya know, it’s still pretty fucking good. I’m not sure I see what Brendan Eich’s supporting Prop 8 has to do with anything, and I say that as somebody who was living in California when it passed, and remembers the feeling of waking up and realizing that his state had just made discrimination part of its constitution like it was yesterday. So don’t give me any of that “You don’t know what it’s like to have your rights taken away” horseshit, because I know it very fucking well. You don’t speak for me.

If we are going to move forward on this issue, we must accept the existence of moral ambiguity. We must accept the possibility that there might be otherwise good people who still haven’t thought this one all the way through. My close friends and immediate family all support gay marriage. But as for my acquaintances and extended family…I’m not so sure. I can’t write them all off just yet. Yes, on principle, opposing gay marriage is the same thing as opposing interracial marriage, but the world we live in still refuses to acknowledge it. You cannot strong-arm people into agreeing with you. You have to—I can’t believe I’m saying this—at least try to be diplomatic. Maybe that sounds hypocritical coming from a guy who is always talking about demanding respect and standing up to the folks who oppress you. But you know what? Fuck you.

It is shocking to me to see so many people I normally respect talking nonsense. But that’s exactly what it is. Spare me all your idiotic babble about how “I don’t see the problem, we didn’t force him to step down” because yes, you do, and yes, you did. Essentially, you’re trying to stall the conversation by saying, “Can’t we all just get along?” We can. But you have to change first.

I love it when people say things that others have been saying for ages as if it just occurred to them. If you think social media and the internet are driving us apart rather than bringing us together, I have a book for you that will blow your mind. Nobody has all the answers, so don’t act as if your revelation is something that applies to everyone else except you. Slightly over 50% of the country supports gay marriage, which also means that slightly less than 50% of the country opposes it. They can’t all be assholes. For that matter, don’t take somebody’s opinion on gay rights as sacrosanct just because they are gay. Gays can be assholes, too.

Politicking

 

la grande jatteIt is becoming increasingly apparent that the only way I will ever get my parents to respect my independence is by moving out. My mother still hasn’t gotten tired of telling me that I should contact my alma mater to ask them for help getting into the environmental activism field, because it’s been almost a year since I’ve graduated and apparently, my degree comes with an expiration date. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell her that maybe I’ll volunteer somewhere, but no more than that. She remains convinced that she just hasn’t brought it up enough times. Fuck her. There are only so many different ways to say no. Maybe if I move out and become (at last) financially independent, my parents will be forced to be nice to me or find that I stop taking their calls or even don’t come back for the holidays. (Will it come to that? Doubtful. But you can bet I’ll go there if they force me to.) They simply will not believe that I actually have some idea of what I’m doing. Surprisingly, I’m not too worried. Oh, there are countless horrible things that could happen to me from here, and some of them probably will. But they’re not the ones my parents are thinking about. I’m quite sure of that.

Is it just me, or does Jimmy Carter grow more focused and on point with each passing year? Some people grow senile in their old age, but time has done nothing to dull the edges of that man’s mind. He makes me wonder if we should award him the Nobel Prize a second time. (Oh, and before somebody points it out, yes, I do think abortion counts as murder if you are doing it just because you don’t like the gender of the child. Aborting a fetus because you’re not ready to have a baby is fine. Doing it because you don’t want to raise a girl is fucked up. Motivation counts, not just the act itself.)

It’s amazing how much of my time I spend digging things out of my head that feel like they got lodged in there somehow. After a while, they start to take on a life of their own. It feels involuntary, like the shit you’re writing will drive you insane if you don’t put it down on paper (or, um, in a blog). But it can’t be that simple, can it? I hate it when writers defend their writing by saying, “I didn’t really write it. It’s my muse working through me!” No, you made the decision to type the words out and publish them. At the same time, the screaming voices up here are very persuasive. So I guess there has to be a negotiation of sorts between what you want and what is actually possible. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that.

Let me give you an example of what’s bugging me: My father is out of town for the week, which means he’s letting me use the car. He returns next Friday. I work that morning, so I can’t pick him up from the airport. Rather than getting a cab, taking the train, or asking a friend to pick him up, my father wants me to drive the car to the train station, leave it there, and let him take it home from the airport, thus leaving me to get to work by myself. Fuck him. Oh, I’ll do it, because he pays for my food and the roof over my head. But I won’t always need him to do that, and let me tell you, when I’m financially independent, I will remember how my parents treated me when I was still dependent on them. I need this job. I need to get my own place. I have to get up as early as 4 some mornings in order to catch a bus to work. Do I look like a guy who has the time to make a useless trip to the train station just so his dad can enjoy a cozy ride home in his own vehicle?

I miss New York. I remember April in Manhattan. More importantly, I remember January, September, and July. I remember having to chug ice water, sleep with no blankets, and keep fans blasting around the clock because I was too cheap/environmentally conscious to buy AC. I remember being snowed in and baking cookies and watching Doctor Who to keep myself company. And I remember going way out of my way to find a Wells Fargo ATM just because I hate the way that most ATMs charge you for using them (along with Wells Fargo, which charges you for not using one of their ATMs). I didn’t want to leave New York. I never liked California. I have friends who like this place and want to stay here. I don’t know how we’ll keep in touch when I’m on the opposite side of the country again, because I don’t like traveling, and you can only Skype so much. But we’ll find a way to make it work. Some friendships can’t survive that distance. But seeing as how I have about four friends total (two of whom live in NYC), it seems like a good idea to try to hold on to the ones I have.

The thing that’s really driving me up the wall these days is concern. I’ve had enough of concern. I don’t need people, even my close friends and family, checking in just to make sure I’m okay. I don’t need advice, either, or if I do, I’ll ask. Just be cool, that’s all. My family won’t stop worrying about me. I’ll tell one of them I’m alright, then have to tell two more over the next few days, even if they weren’t all present during my supposed misbehavior. I don’t have the patience to explain myself all the time. I just don’t. So give me my goddamned space. Because if I can’t reason you into respecting it, I will take it by force.

Shore Leave

My father is turning into a shitty roommate. Earlier, we went to dinner and he complained that the storage unit that I left my stuff in in Queens is costing him just over $50/month. Wow, fifty whole dollars? I could pay that out of my own pocket, and my only source of income is serving coffee part-time for $9.50/hour. It’s obvious that his problem is that he just doesn’t trust me. He thinks I’m going to leave my stuff in NYC indefinitely. But I’m not. I’m going to move back to New York, hopefully by the end of the calendar year, and retrieve it. Why is this so hard for him to understand? Every time he emails me that I’m not working hard enough, I ignore him. Somehow, this ever-so-subtle clue that I think he needs to back the fuck off isn’t getting through. So I guess I have to be a little bit more direct.

I spend about 90% of my time in a bad mood for reasons I don’t even understand. I spend another 9% in a bad mood for reasons that I do understand. The remaining 1% occurs when I feel, if only for a moment, that I have any idea what the fuck I’m doing here. I have a lot on my mind. They’re scheduling me for earlier and earlier shifts at work, meaning that I might have to stop staying up to midnight or after on a regular basis. That’s fine. I’m tired of doing that anyway. I like to think of myself as a morning person, but I tend to stay up late (or rather, early) because I can never get enough done to go to bed any earlier. I slept very, very badly last night. But I went to bed earlier than normal. I spent more time tossing and turning than actually sleeping, and all because I went to bed at an hour that used to be the norm for me just so I could get up early, shower, shave, and make it to work on time. This has to stop.

Different REM, but still.

Different REM, but still.

I dream almost every night. Technically, you are always dreaming when you’re in REM, but I remember my dreams most of the time. That used to not be the case, but they’re getting pretty crazy. A few nights ago, I was in a Marx Brothers movie. One of them was shirtless. I never found any of the Marx Brothers sexy, but that’s my penis for you. I wish I knew how to just shut that part of me off, but I go to bed every night having done as much as I could possibly work up the energy to do, and it never seems to be enough.

I keep meaning to just sit on my couch and watch TV all day, but sometimes, it’s hard to clear enough space in my schedule (in my head, really) even for that. There’s just so much to watch/read/listen to. I need to find some way to order and prioritize it, but every time I think I’m getting a handle on it, it slips away. Almost everyone I know has been in a serious relationship or two by this point. My parents were married when they were younger than I am now. I don’t want to turn into them, but still, I have to ask what they did that I didn’t. I’m not very happy, and I never have been. Looking at my finances, my employment situation, and my living situation, I see a lot to wade through. I’ve accomplished a lot in my life that I am proud of, and I like to think that this is only the beginning. I plan on living forever. I’m doing alright so far.

I try to stay off Facebook, to limit my time on social media and not have too many windows open on my computer at the same time. I’m trying to focus, in other words. I know what I want, more or less. I’ll go one step farther and say that I know what I believe, which is even more important. I just don’t know how to order it all, how to find the time and the place for everything I’ve been meaning to do. If this blog reads like a rambling monologue, imagine somebody sitting alone on an empty stage and delivering this one in a rapid-fire monotone. That’s what I feel like sometimes. My thoughts come a mile a minute. I barely have time to spit them all out.

The funny thing is that I moved back in with my father in order to get away from all of the craziness that was New York. Now I’m thinking that I might have to move out again just to get away from all of the craziness that is living with him. Sometimes, I have honestly no way to explain what the hell is going on in his head. There is no way that that $50/month puts more than the most inconsequential dent in his monthly finances. Why would he even bring it up? There has never been a point in my life when I sat around all day doing nothing for weeks or months on end. Hell, even as a baby, I was probably terminally restless. I like to think that I have both brains and good looks, yet I seem less happy than people who have neither. (And yeah, that probably does read as a little arrogant, but cut me some slack. If you met me, you’d most likely agree.)

I can’t keep running away to get away from the horror of my current situation. That much, I have figured out. Beyond that, I really don’t know. Understand one thing: the world domination that I mention in the subheading of this blog is not just an attention-getter. My ambitions are as lofty as the world will allow them to be. I have to keep pushing until I find my limits. And then, I might be able to sleep.

Here’s a funny video. Enjoy.