Friday, October 5, 2012

The Two Heartbreaks

Everybody is allowed two heartbreaks in their lifetime.


That's all you get. Don't fuck up.

Now before everyone starts pitching a fit about their own unique experiences, let's examine what I mean by the word 'heartbreak'. This is a dicey task because as I was typing "definition of heartbreak" into Google, I was worried about what awful bands that may exist using that as a name, album or song title. Thankfully I got shot straight to Wikipedia. After redirecting me to 'broken heart', this is what it had to say:

broken heart (or heartbreak) is a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering one feels after losing a loved one, whether through deathdivorcebreakup, physical separation, betrayal, or romantic rejection.

Metaphor? You mean it's not real? Nope. Not at all. In fact, historically, I'm inclined to believe that anytime a coroner wrote down 'broken heart' as a cause of death - you know, like when your grandmother dies a few months after your grandfather - he was just making a very dark, hilariously awesome joke. It was actually a heart attack that killed granny, kid. Or pancreatic cancer. Something like that. I'm not sure. What I can tell you though is that it definitely wasn't the body's most important muscle deciding to stop because it was bummed out. That doesn't mean a 'broken heart' isn't an actual psychological condition. It is. And what gets broken is far more important than your little blood piston. Your ego.

You see when a romantic entanglement you are involved in gets suddenly ended against your wishes, that sickening emotion you are feeling is insult. You have been used and discarded, champ. All those wonderful qualities - your talents, personality quirks, sense of humor, appearance - were all fully taken in by another living creature and then happily returned like you were Best Buy the day after Christmas. For whatever reason, you weren't good enough to hold someone's attention longer than you did. Don't dwell on it or fret about it, though. This happens to everybody. In fact, it happens to everybody twice.

The two heartbreaks. The two instances in your brief existence where your precious ego will take a head on collision with the sweet indifference of reality. Two concussive blasts from an enemy bunker. I'm only talking in a romantic sense. I can see that Wikipedia's above definition pulled death and grieving into the discussion as well. That's cold, harsh reality too...but I am limiting this to tales of love and rejection. The two kinds of which you will endure at some point on this planet. This is what they consist of:

1. The Sad Puppy. Invariably this will always happen first. You really fall for somebody else based completely on non-sexual activities. For lack of a better term, you have a crush. You are not physically involved with the person at all. Yet, you are around them. Probably a lot. Enough that you develop these feelings and it really affects your life. As tell other people you are in love with this person. The key here with The Sad Puppy is that you are not viewed in any serious, 'loving' manner. You are in essence, a puppy to the other person. They like having you around but it doesn't run any deeper. Thanks to your ego running wild though, you went a whole lot deeper. So even though you never have a physical moment between you and the other person, you still plead your undying love to them. They are baffled. They turn you down. You slink home and suffer...thinking you were robbed of some Olympic medal because you were as sweet as can be and still came up empty handed. Oh, gotta love that ego.

2. The Used Car. Eventually, through sheer time and numbers, you will get sexually involved with someone that you actually like. It's rare but it does happen - if only to fulfill the prophecy of the 2nd heartbreak. It may not necessarily be the first person you copulate with but if I were to ballpark it, I'd say this experience is somewhere in the first 25. The worst part is, the moment you start swapping fluids with the opposite sex, this experience waits for you like a skinned knee after your first bicycle. There is no way to avoid it. You will get really attached to someone you are sleeping with. They will at some point move on before you are able to. You will be devastated. Sorry I had to be the one to tell you. For some reason the added physical intimacy of this heartbreak will make it appear harder than The Sad Puppy. This is just an illusion. They are two sides of the same coin. You thought you were doing your best in a situation, then when the coach posts the final roster on the bulletin board you find out you didn't make the team.

Ideally, one should get these out of the way as quickly as possible. For me, I got The Sad Puppy at 18 and then The Used Car at 21. In between I remember thinking that I was due for #2 but even then, in full awareness, I wasn't prepared. No one can be. Even by reading this there is no way YOU could use this information to protect yourself. I'm just stating one of those unfortunate truths of the universe.

Keep in mind, just because there are 2 finite forms of heartbreak doesn't mean they won't stop happening after you have already survived them. You could still fall for someone from a distance and get spurned. You could still develop feelings for a fuck buddy. Who knows. The point is those new experiences won't be as hurtful to your ego. Your ego will have already survived its bootcamp into adulthood. Think of it like a piece of burnt wood. Have you ever tried to ignite a piece of burnt wood? It doesn't work. When those circumstances crop up again, you won't really be all that bothered. You have learned the most important lesson of all: nobody gives a fuck about you.

Now, as for there being a possible 'third' heartbreak....there isn't one. Just a 'first' suicide.

Oh that wacky ego.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dear Great-Great-Great Grandfather

You were born in Strasbourg
in 1821
at least
that's what this website says
and if I do my math
that was 164 years
before I arrived
on a lightning strike
somewhere else

So tell me something
what was it all for?
I'm sure you baked cakes
and farmed
and ate sausage
but where are you now?
what did you learn?
and how would I know?

Maybe it was you
or probably more likely your children
that got on a boat
one day
and went from one pile of mud
to another
where I intervened
shortly thereafter
when the cirumstances
were deemed

Well great-great-great
I'm sitting here in air condition
not baking any cakes
though I could
or eating any sausage
but there's a store down the street
that sells some
no farming

Was this
what it was all for?
These little privileges?
I guess we'd both
like to hope so
because you're long dead
long, long dead

and I don't plan on visiting

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lose the Arm: How I Learned Every Life Lesson from Robo Cop

Ask me what my favorite movies are and I will always respond with these three: Ghostbusters, Batman and RoboCop. This is no coincidence. I was born in 1985. Ghostbusters was released in 1984. Batman in 1989. RoboCop in 1987. I grew up watching these films, for better or for worse. They are part of my makeup as a human being. That sounds ridiculous, I know. But very true. Especially if we look at possibly the most important film of the three I listed, RoboCop.

First and foremost, RoboCop is a fucking violent movie. It is full of visceral bloodshed. It teems with adult language. It takes place in a future-version of Detroit. Need I say more?

Do the math. If I was born in 1985 and the film came out in 1987...I was 2 years old. Obviously I didn't see it in theaters so let's assume my father brought home the VHS sometime in 1988. This would have made me around 3 fucking years old watching RoboCop for the first time. I was 3 years old and enjoying such endearing scenes as...

Murphy getting ritually executed by a gang of thugs. I have this scene memorized. Line for line. I shit you not.

Not only did I absorb this film at such a young, tender age. I had all the god damn toys too! Nowadays, they don't even bother manufacturing tie-in merchandise for children when it comes to Rated-R movies. Back in the 1980s things were vastly different. Robo Cop was Rated-R. A hard fucking R. This film still contains some of the most Over-the-Top realistic violence I have ever seen. The only thing that could maybe compete was the last Rambo movie 2008. Did they make toys for that one? Absolutely fucking not.

But back in 1988 or 1989....I had all of this shit....

It wasn't just action figures either. I had the car, the motorcycle, the full on costume kit that had the RoboCop helmet and Gatling gun accessory. Fuck man, they even made a toy of E.D. 209.

Yeah, that's right. The machine that basically mutilates some OCP executive within the first 30 minutes of the movie. Remember, these are toys aimed at children. The company must have made the assumption that yes indeed children were seeing this horrifically violent movie, recognizing the characters and purchasing the toys. It is stunning when you think about it. We truly live in a different time.

Back to the point of this blog. I saw this all - fully took it in - at a very young age. I also derived a codified set of values from the movie that not even the force-feeding of organized religion could challenge. In so many words it can be summed up like this: If somebody hurts you...strip away the humanity, eliminate the weakness, come back stronger...and shove a steel ice-pick thing through their neck.

There's a similar message in Rocky movies too. If you lose, train hard, come back and win. In RoboCop, no training necessary. You get rebuilt into a callous machine. Since I was a child I always had an affinity for callous machines and 'phoenix rising from the ashes' stories. Now you know why.

When a scientist working on RoboCop tells OCP executive Bob Morton that they can save the human right arm of Officer Murphy, Morton mechanically responds, "Lose the arm." It is a scene that happens very fast but it is incredibly important. You replace the human aspect of the creature and you get something stronger. RoboCop functions on directives. That's all. At one point he remarks that he can feel his family, but does not remember them. My little brain soaked all of this up.

RoboCop is one of my absolute top 3 favorite movies for a lot more reasons but this one always seemed the most paramount. It taught me that the cold execution of a plan was the surefire method to get something done. Leave no room for error. Error is human. Humans get blown apart.

Directive 1. Serve the public trust.
Directive 2. Protect the innocent.
Directive 3. Uphold the law.

Directive 4 is, of course, classified. ;-)

Oh yeah, and one more thing...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm a Shitty World Traveler

This summer I logged another international visitation. I spent 2 weeks in Thailand (not getting laid, but that's another blog) with layovers in Tokyo and San Francisco. All places I'd never been before. My last continent hop was in 2007 when I spent a summer in Dublin, IRE. Before that I had also made sojourns into Canada and Mexico, the usual for most Americans. I've learned this:

I suck at traveling.

Not the mechanics of it. That actual enjoyment of the moment. You can drop me anywhere in the world - show me the sights, the activities, introduce me to customs, try different food, does not move me in the slightest. At the end of any given day, wherever I am, I want a cool bar to hang out in and female company when I go to sleep. That's it. I don't get a charge from anything else. I don't stumble back to the U.S.A. with bags full of useless trinkets. Shit, I force myself to take photographs just so I have evidence that I was somewhere else. I spent like a total of 5 days in Bangkok. I couldn't tell you shit about it. Except that I didn't get laid. Again - that's another story.

Excuse my tunnel vision but that's the truth. I spent 2 weeks sauntering around beautiful beaches feeling generally nothing. Ko Tao, Thailand may as well have been fucking Pensacola, Florida for all I cared. A beach is a beach. Sand and water. Some are prettier than others but all give me the same sensation. Sand and water. I get wet and then I get sandy. Then I get back in the water to get the sand off. Then I get sandy again when I sit back on the beach. Maybe I have a drink with me. Maybe I don't. Some beautiful women walk past me and nothing happens. I can do this anywhere. Trust me, I'm working on it.

Besides that, there is the obvious culture shocking that also goes completely over my head. Yeah I know other places do things differently. I am not surprised or impressed by this. Living in thatch huts by the beach? Fucking great. Good for you. I'll take an air conditioned hotel room with a toilet that flushes. I will always take that. I will also eat all your 'neat' indigenous cuisine. Does it amaze me? No. I've had all sorts of food before. It's just fucking food. Noodles do not taste better in Thailand. Or Japan. Or California. Or Delaware. They taste like fucking noodles. These are just more examples of scenarios where I almost feel guilty for not feeling a single shred of excitement over anything. Except at that last second I remember that I don't feel guilt. Then I move along.

I've watched my fair share of travel shows. I've talked to a lot of my peers. I read people's online profiles where they list their interests and "Traveling" is always fucking somewhere in the mix. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. Fuck, maybe I'm just completely being a human being wrong. You go fill up the daytime hours with whatever you want. Hiking? Swimming? Meditation classes in some Buddhist temple? Yeah, sure, have at it. That's all boring nonsense to me. Maybe if I were running drugs across borders this shit would be more enthralling. Alas, it is not.

Maybe if I had gotten laid I'd have more to report about the whole Thailand experience. The irony of traveling to a place renowned for sexual tourism and having my dick stay completely dry is not lost on me. In fact I thought about it every night for two whole weeks. Yep. Every night. Staring up at the ceiling. For two weeks.

You know what I WASN'T thinking?


My All Purpose Solution to Drug Addiction

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

If a drug addict has no one to burden with their horseshit, do they fucking matter?


I'm not going to type a catch-all guide to brain repair for people with drug problems. I don't fucking know how to rewire someone's brain synapses. I'm going to write out a solution for YOU, the person who has to deal with the shitty behavior of a drug addict. Maybe they were your relative. Maybe they are a friend. Maybe you even got duped into dating one. Do yourself a Darwinian favor...


Don't get all fucking humanitarian and altruistic and think you can amend this person. If a person's brain stem is severed, they lose motor function. You can't teach them back into walking. Similarly, the case for 'drug addition' is a case closed scenario. Some people are just wired to love things like drugs, alcohol, sex, work...more than anything else. If it bothers you OR affects your life that much, just leave. If you live somewhere shitty and you are unhappy, just move. It's that simple. Pull the trigger. Pack your shit, gas up the car and get the fuck out. Form new relationships with people who aren't inconveniencing you. It's that simple. Hell, even if its your mom. She's addicted to happy pills. POOF! Sorry, mom! GONE!

I'm only trying to save you future trouble. You won't listen to me of course. If you are set in your ways of being an enabler to your shitty drug addled constituents...then much like your addicted brother, sister, mother, boyfriend, girlfriend or are not going to change. Enjoy the drudgery of a life where you have basically relinquished your independence and control. Drug addicts are notorious for bad punctuality so let's see how late they are to your funeral. They probably won't even show up.

Because they love DRUGS! Not YOU!

Pack up your shit and move on...or suffer some hilarious (to me) consequences.

It's your funeral.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Fine Art of Compromise and the Finer Art of Not Compromising and the Finest Art of Simply Not Listening to Women Give Advice

"Never settle, Josh."

That's what she said. I'm being completely serious. We were standing in a bar, our usual after-after hours haunt and she was somehow slipping in sacred guidance before the first round even arrived. This was many years ago, mind you. I'm not sure why I'm bringing it up now. It was one of those nuggets of conversation that never left  me. Even if I did end up getting smashed that night, I'll always remember her saying that. It sounded really stupid then and it sounds just as stupid now. "Never settle, Josh." What the fuck does that even mean? That's the problem when women take psychology courses, I guess. You find yourself cornered in a situation like this.

I used to fuck this girl. Years ago. It ended badly I suppose - I wanted to keep fucking and she did not - but time passed and the residual emotional energy was eradicated. That is a beautiful process in itself but it still did not stop the conversation I was now having from happening. For some reason, we were out together again. Sharing that mutual dead space that people 'who used to fuck' usually do.  Banal, polite conversation that isn't supposed to veer into anything too serious. Yet there she goes dropping inane statements like "never settle" and I'm left completely dumbfounded. And I wasn't even drunk yet.

We must have been talking about dating or the people both of us were currently fucking. I had long since passed the stage where I cared about who she was with, so I don't even remember what she said. I must have spouted off about some girl I was half interested in - leading to her eventual comeback of 'not settling' as it were. This left me confused because advice like this sounds heavy, in theory. Like the person listening to you actually thought about your emotional state and doled out their best possible wisdom. I knew this girl didn't give 2 transparent fucks about my emotional state. Hence, my bewilderment. She was just shitting words out of her mouth and for some fucking reason...all these years later...I remember them and they still irk me. God damn it.

Listen. Listen to me very carefully. Despite all you have heard from the likes of Emily Dickinson, the women you love will never feel as lonely or betrayed as you. These are beautiful women with a lifetime of being lifted up on to pedestals. They live in a different world. At any given moment they have lines around the corner of men wishing to entertain them for an evening. They can have this every evening. Meanwhile you will sit in your room, no one calling you on your phone and you will stare at the walls. You will continue to stare and contemplate suicide every fucking second. Not too seriously. Not like an overly emotional teenager. You will coldly think about to all your life experience and compare the victories to the failures. For every grand night you won, there were a thousand spent like that. Staring at a wall.

These beautiful women never had that. Yet here she was saying "Never settle, Josh" as if she knew something I didn't about the human relationships, human fate. The narcissism was sickening. The tone. The eye contact. The charade. It was enough to make you wish you were back in your room, alone and staring at the wall again. The walls don't lie to you like that. They tell the truth. They offer nothing but silence. Their tomb is the real meat of existence. Some fucking women offering you dating advice from her lofty social balcony is not. It's not real. None of it is. The thought that I once looked forward to fucking this girl every night was revolting now. The thought that I actually missed her when she was left was worse. The hollowness of the human condition is never more apparent than in that circumstance.

That said, look at me now. Still standing around the same bars making idle conversation. Still staring at four walls waiting for them to cave in. Still not being called on my phone while I watch the beautiful women of the world dance around in their palaces of attention and ease. They have the liberty of imagining their own dramas and tragedies. They come and go as they please.

And yet here I remain.

I never settled, Lauren.

Sinking Above Ground

A shared human experience
I can assure you
is that sensation
of falling
as your stomach twists
when you learn
something unsettling
very suddenly
through one of your
five delightful senses
and your body reacts
with a biological
boxing match
where your mind
has thrown in the towel
but the referee
doesn't see it
and the body blows
keep raining down
until the knees buckle
and the lights
go out

later on
in the silence
of the locker room
when the fight is over
and there's no more blood
left to spit out
the scene replays itself
over and over
the unexpected right jab
when you were
throwing a hook

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mardi Gras: Roll, Roll, Roll Your Float Gently Down the Dream...

It's not usual to be drinking at 9 in the morning. Or 10 in the morning. Or any time before your local cantina's maligned 'happy hour' special. It is usually a paradise reserved for the degenerates of our fair society. Otherwise known as our creative forward thinkers, depending on who you ask. But this time we are talking about Mardi Gras, in New Orleans. The strangest mish mash of cultural hoopla and history mixed together in a big purple, green and gold pot. Kind of like gumbo, another proud tradition in these parts. On one end of the spectrum, you have the juvenile 'girls gone wild' scene where women flash their goods and a crude barter system for plastic beads is enacted. That's been the streamlined version of Mardi Gras (and the city of New Orleans in general) for the past 30 years or so thanks to movies and well, 'girls gone wild' late night TV propaganda. I consider it my duty to inform you, the reader, that women can provide you with cheap thrills in exchange for petty gifts in any region of the world, at any time. Go ahead and try it. Your welcome.

To say that the whole scene of tourists that floods Bourbon Street, New Orlean's most infamous route, is all that is Mardi Gras is ludicrous. Which makes this all the more dumbfounding. Mardi Gras in its purest essence is just a big party before Ash Wednesday, where people of the Christian persuasion give up some bad behavior for Lent. However there's loads of other things that factor into this holiday equation. Some parts of Mardi Gras feel like a giant 4th of July cookout, where instead of fireworks there are beads and music. Parents are hoisting kids on their shoulders, families are coming together and people of all colors, from all different types of backgrounds are dancing in the street in wild celebration. Then you walk one more block and a bunch of twenty-something fellows are shotgunning cans of Natural Lite and passing out jello shots. And maybe just passing out. Trust me, I tend to find myself in this type of company. But then you drunkenly stumble through a happy family of five's cookout and realize there's a whole lot more going on. It is a weird menagerie of events all happening at the same time and yet it all makes sense in its absurdity. By every evening's end (if there is one) beads are hanging from trees like a neon canopy, flags are flying from every house and the crowds have shuffled into the thousands of local bars. Once again, you're in a whole new world.

Time and again I'd find myself in the middle of this dance, trying to piece together another haphazard plan of attack for every nightfall. After a day of watching parades charge down elegant St. Charles Avenue (while drinking) and attending dinners (while drinking) I was often being led off to another place (while drinking) and always eventually, into the heart of the beast - the French Quarter (while drinking). Every morning it certainly would catch up with me but by the same time everyday, I was back on the almost mechanized process of Mardi Gras yet again. Everything turns into a multi colored waterfall, spilling into glasses of different shapes and sizes, just before it all goes black. I'd run into faces and names I'd have not seen in years and just as easily lose them again as they disappear into the crowd. They are the people you only meet in a dream. Because that's what this really is, a dream. Fully realized and pumped into our physical world. The happiness and brotherhood that sweeps you up while your swimming through a sea of strangers is very hypnotizing. To a point where you don't realize that just mixed tequila with whiskey and wine. And that you still have work in the morning. Your blindsided by the spectacle and everything else falls away. The best part is while your nursing your hangover in the days that follow, you can count on it coming back the next year, bigger and more overblown than ever.

I know this sounds really spiritual, but consider this - I'm not really a spiritual person. Not in the slightest. I'm one of the more hardened, cynical assholes you'd find creeping around a diver bar in the most questionable of neighborhoods. All I'm saying is that if you ever wanted to make a proper argument for there being 'one united consciousness' of humanity, come down to the Mardi Gras. I'll see ya there.