The Day The Universe and I Have a Little Heart to Heart

17 01 2018

Over the weekend I was over at this lawyer’s apartment and I was intoxicated. I had met him for dinner a week prior, we had matched on Tinder months ago, we hadn’t not hit it off, though, we barely knew each other. I was there trying to get to know him. Let’s just say that I had somehow consumed a rare exotic mushroom and his bathroom wall became something more interesting to look at than pretty much anything else in his apartment, including him.

mushrooms

The thing is, if you slow down and pay attention, the universe will start communicating with you. In fact, the universe is always trying to communicate, it’s just most of the time we’re too busy to pay attention and we miss the signs.

In any event, we were watching music videos on Youtube from the 2000s. I had become restless. I had become slightly paranoid in that I no longer wanted to be there. I wanted to be with my friends. I wanted to be in bed. I wanted to be in bed with my friend who lived two blocks down the street, but I couldn’t be because it was 2 in the morning and I knew he was asleep and that his phone was off. I wanted to be pretty much anywhere else and I definitely didn’t want to be in my head anymore.

The Tracy Chapman song “Fast Car,” came on. The lyrics go something like,

“You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way…”

And it seemingly kept repeating those lines, “leave tonight or live and die this way.”

I started yelling back at the TV (in my head, not out loud). I was like, “Tracy, yo, I totally get what you’re trying to say, but if I leave tonight in my fast car I am more likely to die THAT WAY.” She nodded like she understood and the song ended.

I thought the universe was done talking to me, and yet it had only just begun.
To really drive the issue home, “A Simple Man,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd came on next. I looked into the reflection of the window, as I did I saw the man I was hanging out with, he was eating and in his intoxicated state dropped his food on the floor. He seemed rather goofy in that moment. Bumbling. Derpy. I knew I couldn’t be with him forever. In fact, I didn’t know if I wanted to really be with him for another minute. The song continued, basically informing me that if I stayed with this derpy guy I would have a calm, simple, (potentially beautiful) life. I contemplated the message because I was just sitting there doing nothing anyway.

It seemed too serene, it seemed such a dull way to go. Combined with Tracy’s message from earlier, I would have a simple life and then I would die that way.

No, I said. That is not what I want.

In any event, I freaked out.

First I made him change the music. We listened to Jim Croce. We put on “Time in a Bottle,” which I have decided is officially my favorite song. He tried to dance with me. I was like, I CAN’T! Then, I went and hid in his bedroom and pretended to sleep.

While I was in there, my brain unfolded many things about time, the universe, infinity, the meaning of life etc.

Here’s what came to me.

Breath is a drug more powerful than any other drug. We keep coming back for it,
not just moment after moment, but through infinite time and space.

The meaning is indeed 42 (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

Life is a fart in the wind.. aka a joke.. aka a long-ass joke. If you’re not laughing, you don’t get the punchline.

There is no need to waste moments on derps, if you do, so be it, but it’s better to allow people to come into your folds that make you want to sing “Time in a Bottle.” to them and truly mean it.

“I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with”

It doesn’t matter if you die. We die every day when we go to sleep. We die every time we take a breath. The end is never the end, it’s only the beginning to something else. And yes, we can indeed choose who we want to go through time with both here and later, but there’s no need to be so serious about it all. The punchline is always the same, it’s the jokes along the way that make the difference.

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If a computer could determine the love of your life, would you want to know?

15 01 2018

In 2009, an underrated rom-com called TiMER was released. In this film, people elect to be implanted with a timing device that counts down to the second when they will meet their soulmate. The marketing tagline for the service was “Take the guesswork out of love.” At one point the main character Emma Caulfield Ford (of Buffy fame), says to her boyfriend of one month outside the TiMER offices, “What’s the point in continuing without a guarantee?” Then of course, she’s implanted and her timer is blank, which means her soulmate has yet to be implanted or could possibly not exist.

This year in the 4th season of Black Mirror, Episode 4, “Hang the DJ,” we meet Frank and Amy, two people who have signed up for an immersive experience to find “the one;” a program that has a 99.8% success rate. In this alternative universe, a computer uses its algorithm to collect data consistently in order to determine who belongs with each other by analyzing their every thought, action, experience, feelings. They’re set up with one person at a time, each date gets exactly that, a date in which the relationship will end. They are required to only spend that length of time together, 36 hours, 9 months, 1 year, etc. whether they like that person or not (because everything happens for a reason).

black_mirror_hang_the_DJ

In both of these storylines, people know in advance whether they are with the love of their lives or not. Not to give it all away, but it seems like only through the rebellion of not-knowing do any of them find what they think they’ve been looking for.

Is that what love takes? Rebellion against society’s norms? Could it even be considered “society’s norms,” when really it’s just that no one likes being told what to do, particularly when it comes to who they’re going to love (see pretty much every work of literature, poetry, film that exists).

Which is partly why the Okcupid algorithm doesn’t really work (and was supposedly all arbitrary anyway) but anyone who is supposedly a 99% match is not going to match well, because we couldn’t possibly believe that a computer could tell us what’s real more so than our own minds and hearts–so we all look for signs that the computer is wrong, and find them because humans are naturally all flawed in some shape or form.

While watching the Black Mirror episode I couldn’t help but think that having a time-stamp on the relationship would actually be rather refreshing. Of course, I have done these types of relationships before, gotten into things I knew would end because the other person was moving or what have you. It was never heartbreaking because the terms were clear from the start.

Most relationships do end; so is it so wrong to know when that end will happen? How does it change your mindset knowing? Could it not potentially allow you the opportunity to make the most of your time together, whether it’s a day or 5 years? Would you want to know if you could?

black_mirror_match_hang_the_dj

What about when it comes to your “soulmate”? Could a computer ever have the capability to actually determine that? At some point, someone somewhere would have to confirm that the concept of the ‘soulmate’ indeed is true and exists and not only that, but it can be found essentially through math , and the finding can be easily done to make a profit.

Yet, by knowing, do we put up a wall, do we not put our whole hearts into relationships when we know that it doesn’t matter, that it will not last? And is that why people who are in love have to rebel because if they don’t, it’s not truly love?

As Tom Robbins says:
“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”

In the end, the security of love never exists, knowing that a computer thinks you’re right for each other doesn’t make it right, only you know, and only time can tell.





Sex, Tinder, and More Than That

12 01 2018

On changing up my dating life patterns and getting something better than before

Since getting back on Tinder in October of this year, I’ve matched with over 300 people, had conversations with 30% of them, and gone out with maybe, maybe 10 different souls.

Love_Sex_Tinder

It’s strange to me because 300 seems like a pretty big number and yet, I feel more disconnected than I ever have in my dating life. It’s as if the more people I match with the less likely I’ll find anyone of quality.

I know, I know, Tinder was created specifically for quantity. It’s designed so you want to keep coming back because someone hotter and funnier and smarter could be just a swipe away.

 

I get that we’re all throw-away people to each other now.

 

That we find ourselves rating our worth on the number of matches we have.

Yet, even though 300 people potentially would fuck me based off of a couple of photos, that doesn’t mean any of them would ever like being around me.

Like many people, I enjoy sex. I also have a higher sex drive than most people, men and women alike. It’s often not difficult to find someone willing to sleep with me. Yet, no matter how much I enjoy sex, one night stands, fucktoys, fuckboys, fuckgrrrls (is this a thing?), no-strings-attached, friends-with-benefits–it’s all becoming rather tiring.

It’s time to go deeper with someone–not physically deeper–emotionally, spiritually deeper. It’s like we’re all afraid to actually get to know someone. We come with excuses that are worse than the ones that George and Jerry and Elaine always seemed to find. Hands are too small. Nose is too big. Beard is weird. He still eats Chef-Boyardee. She does this annoying popping thing with her toes. He texts too much. She doesn’t text enough. He sucks my nose when we’re making out. She pees a little when she sneezes. etc. etc.

 

But why the constant excuses? Is it fear? Is it FOMO? Is it actually justifiable and we should know they’re right from the beginning?

 

I’ve decided to slow down. To rid my expectations of other people. To attempt to learn something from everyone I meet. To stay curious and open to the exploration of other souls–and at the same time, my own.

 

The Tinder culture is addicting. It’s like junk food, it tastes delicious but it’s just a bunch of empty calories nothingness.

 

You keep wanting more but it’s not good for you. Instead of rotting your teeth though, it rots your soul. It makes you feel both wanted and rejected at the same time. It makes you think that the possibilities are endless and you should never settle. And of course you should never settle, but you should also not keep repeating a pattern that fails to live up to anything substantial or meaningful.

tinder_junk_in_and_out

I’m not sure if it’s a waste so much as a distraction. A tool that we use to keep ourselves occupied, to keep opportunity available, to see just how fuckable we are on a surface level. Because we all want the possibility of connection, even if it’s just for a night, but many people, whether we want to admit it out loud or not, many of us want something more, something with legs, something closer to longevity.

Maybe all it takes is putting down the phone and looking around, interacting with people in real life situations. It at least seems more fulfilling to talk to someone face to face, see if anything is there, and act upon it if there is, walk away (quickly) if there isn’t?

All I know (which isn’t much) is that I have to stop thinking Tinder is the answer. To be honest, I can barely even remember the question, but I think it has to do with how we uncover love in its long form.

My plan is to create new habits and knock off the bad patterns regardless of how long it takes or how hard it is because I want more–and I’m going to get it.





9 Random Thoughts: New Year, Same Me

11 01 2018

Random Thoughts Are Back, You Are Welcome!

1.
Part of my New Year’s Resolution was to get shit done even if I have a hangover. Now, as I’m getting shit done with a hangover I wonder if I’m possibly not so great at making new year’s resolutions and resolve to make better ones next year, like resolving to take more naps.
2.
Turned on the news and they keep yammering on and on about some lost secret spy missile. It’s like the media doesn’t understand what ‘secret’ mean; sort of like how Trump doesn’t understand what “genius” means.
3.
So, I’ve watched the first two episodes of the new season of Black Mirror. I’ve read a lot of commentary that says this season is dull. I don’t find it dull, but I do find the stories thus far to have things occurring in them that I’ve either read or seen in other forms. For example, some of the elements felt very George Saunder-ish and it made me realize how few satirical television shows exist. That’s something that would be great to see, someone capable of pulling off the humor of satire without making it too dark or too slap-stickish.
4.
There’s been this dead squirrel on the sidewalk along the path that I run for at least a month now. I have witnessed it withering away day after day, as I too slowly shed pound after pound helping to prevent my entire withering away a little while longer, at least that’s the point, right? In any event, the squirrel barely resembles a squirrel anymore whereas I thankfully still resemble myself.

squirrel
5.
Remember when you were a kid and you’d ask a parent how to spell a word and they’d yell “look it up!” So you’d get the dictionary out but then couldn’t find the word because you didn’t know how to spell it? Yeah. I bet that doesn’t happen anymore because, technology.
6.
Speaking of technology, what I love most about watching Seinfeld now is how they seemed to all survive without cell phones just fine. In fact, a many good episodes were created out of the lack of this connection. It would not / could not ever be like that now.
7.
Yada yada yada.
8.
The best part of a hangover is the following day when you are no longer hungover and you feel more alive than ever before, I can’t wait until tomorrow.
9.
It’s amazing how few thoughts go through your head when you’re specifically trying to think about random thoughts. Just try it. It could be the new way to “meditate,” because the mind goes completely blank. It’s quite amazing actually. I now know what to do when I need to clear my head.





Finding Solitude Within the Noise: Week 1.

8 01 2018

January Goal: Talk to People Less, Find Self More

solitude

Lone tree, hometown, Kansas, 2013.

After reading The Stranger in the Woods, I have been diving deeper into concepts of solitude discussed throughout the book.

In it, Michael Finkel writes:

“People who live in cities experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones. These hormones, especially cortisol, increase one’s blood pressure, contributing to heart disease and cellular damage. Noise harms your body and boils your brain. The word “noise” is derived from the Latin word “nausea.” (pg 113)

This stuck with me. I live in Denver and though it’s not as bustling and loud as some places like New York or LA, I am in the heart of the city where there is constant traffic and construction projects. In fact, they’ve been building a new house across the street from me for the last several months, and let me tell you, jackhammering at all hours of the day is definitely nausea-inducing.

There was a moment in the book when the author reflected on how long he had ever gone without talking to a single other person, including texts and phone calls. His was half a day. Mine? I couldn’t even think of a time. Had there ever been a time when I actually experienced ‘solitude’? Maybe once for a day in high school when my parents were gone before I had a cell phone or working internet and I decided to stay home “sick” from school, but that’s not a solid memory, just a thing that may or may not have happened.

Because I am so drawn to these ideas of quiet and because I can’t really leave everything behind and run away to the middle of nowhere to live in a tent (for one, I wouldn’t survive). I decided to attempt Solitude Sundays.

Through January, every Sunday (starting Saturday night before I go to bed) I am turning off my phone and my computer and I am spending the entire day alone.

It’s impossible to escape all of the noise, particularly when one has roommates, but cutting off technology at least gets me halfway there.

Baby stepping toward solitude.

Here are my thoughts from Week 1 of Solitude Sundays.

I went to bed early for a change on Saturday night shutting off my phone around 11:30 pm (this is early for me on a Saturday as I often stay up until 3-4 a.m. drunk socializing like an asshole).

I did not set an alarm.

I woke around 10 a.m.

Of course, one of the first things I normally do when I wake up is to look at my phone to see how popular I am based on how many people sent me texts and memes and shit (usually not very) but my phone was turned off and hidden from me.

Separating from my phone was much more difficult than I thought it would be. I knew I was addicted, but I didn’t know how bad it was until it was no longer there. It is my crutch. If I leave a room, even for a minute, I come back and check it immediately just in case I may have missed something or to see the time or to check the weather or to get on Instagram to depress myself by looking at how much fun everyone else seems to be having.

I had to rely on looking at a clock (shocking), stepping outside for a second to see how cold it was (wow!), looking within myself for entertainment or lack thereof (gee whiz!).

What did I end up doing all day? Not scrolling through Tinder I’ll tell you that.

I read.

I read a fuck ton of words.

I read short stories by George Saunders. I started Ape & Essence by Aldous Huxley. I went through my stack of magazines and separated everything I had read, didn’t want to read, wanted to read. I finished several Glamours. I read half of a New Yorker.

I re-read the entire introduction and section 1 of a book on Hedgewitchery.

I may or may not have done the first rite from that book.

I meditated.

I drank a cup of coffee.

I took out the recycling.

I planted herbs into a flower pot.

I finally raked the lawn.

I did nothing.

I longed to do more.

I had all these thoughts about the things I wanted to do with my phone, with my computer; ideas I wanted to look up, people I wanted to talk to. I even longed to call my mother to tell her how difficult it was to not talk to anyone all day.

I wrote down everything I wanted to do with the technology I chose to hide from myself onto a piece of paper so I could do them later if I deemed them worthy.

It was the smartest move I could make in that regard.

I journaled about my feelings (or lack thereof).

I went for a run. I took a bath. I ate some fancyass healthy food that involved quinoa and kale and tofu. My roommate came into the room and I had to say hello, which ruined the entire thing.

I didn’t let her get me down.

I stared out the window.

There were times of tremendous struggle. Times when I thought, “well, what if I just turn my phone on for a minute?”

I persevered.

solitude2

By the end of the time, I actually became anxious. I thought about how lovely it was to not have to talk to anyone and how the following day (today) I would have to start talking to people again. I begin to wonder how many days I could actually go before I went crazy (my guess is 11 days).

I wouldn’t necessarily call what I did “practicing solitude.” But it feels like a good step in that direction. My goal for next Sunday is to do less. I want to dive in deep to the inner self, see what I’ve been missing that’s been with me the entire time.

Alone?

Nah.

Not when I have myself.

P.S. I woke up, turned on my phone. I had missed three texts. One from a friend who called me “lame” for turning my phone off. And two from some fuckboy asking me to “69.” 

In other words, I didn’t miss anything (which makes me glad and sad at the same time).





My Favorite Books from 2017

3 01 2018

Short Reviews of My Top 3 Books of 2017

In 2016 I read 21 books, including the dense and quite long Infinite Jest (which is worth it, even in its intensity. I suggest going to Infinite Summer for tips on making it through). In 2017 I upped my total slightly and read 28 books– that’s an average of 24 pages a day.

The way I’ve managed to get this much reading done and still excessively binge television shows and have a social life and do the whole work thing is by waking up an hour earlier in the day and reading before I do anything else.

When I do this I get invested in the book and am then able to get my page count done in a timely manner on the regular. Of course, some days I read more pages than others, but the system seems to be working.

My friend has made the resolution to read a book a week this year and I plan to steal this same idea because reading takes me to much better places than most of my other daily activities seem to do. Sometimes it’s better to replace one habit with another one instead of trying to remove the old habit altogether.

Here are my top 3 favorite books from 2017, if you’re looking for something to fall into this year.

1. Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

homesickforanotherworld

Ever feel like a terrible human being? Never fear, you are probably not as terrible as the characters in this collection of short stories. Moshfegh has the ability to succinctly capture the essence of a person (the good, bad, and ugly of a person) always leaving you wanting more, but happy to have experienced the little bit that you did get.

I also read her novel Eileen, which was good but felt more drawn to the collection, as it was able to show glimpses of the humanity in all its fucked-up-ness that we often rarely get to see in creative form (which is a much more pleasant place to experience it than in reality).

 

2. Theft By Finding Diaries 1997-2002 by David Sedaris

theftbyfinding-cover

Even in his own diaries, Sedaris knows how to reveal the humor in the mundanity of everyday life. There were moments while reading where I literally spit out my drink because I was laughing so hard. Right when you think the moment can’t get any funnier he hits you with an even stronger punchline. If you can’t laugh at your own life, start with someone else’s, I suggest his, because humor is the best medicine for getting through the bullshit.

3. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

strangerinthewoodsbook

Ever have the desire to desert everything and everyone you know and go live alone in the middle of nowhere? Well, one guy actually did that, not just for a day, not just for a month, but for 27 years. If he hadn’t been a thief, he probably could have gotten away with it until he died, yet, that is not quite what happened.

As someone who is pretty introverted, what I found most fascinating about the book was the exploration of solitude–the attempt to understand why someone would not want to be around any other people.

Something happened during this book, something that caused me to suddenly finally feel okay for a day. Okay that I don’t have to want to be around people. Okay that sometimes I’d rather hide and not talk to anyone. Okay that I don’t have to like all the things other people like. Through his extreme outlier lifestyle, it helped me to see the facades of our daily existence and to look at solitude as a positive solution to the noise aka nausea of modern society.





At Least I have Longer Hair Now

2 01 2018

In 2017, I quit my job of 3 years, went to Burning Man, fell in love, went on road trip through the desert with lover, fell out of love while on said road trip, came back, wrote a book in a month, and then sat around and stared out the window until the year ended. I wasn’t meditating or having some deep existential breakthrough, I was literally just staring out a window.

It was a weird year.

At the beginning of the year I gave myself a theme, 2017 would be the year of patience. I would track my patience by growing out my hair and not dyeing it–this seems like a simple task for most people sure, but I am the type of person who snips and colors every month just to change it up. January found me with barely any hair on head, shaved on the sides with about an inch or two on top. (I had clearly been snipping at it for awhile.)

short hair

2016 Hair

I’m happy to say that I made it to the end, my hair is now almost to my chin, yet even though I have a symbolic representation of my theme, I’m not entirely sure having a theme helped that much.

Or maybe it did.

The reason why I chose patience, to begin with, had to do with my anger issues. The daily injustices and the real shit dramas that have accumulated over time that have helped shorten my fuse; I mostly respond by retreating, hiding in my room, stewing, letting it simmer, letting it boil, acting out with self-destructive behavior because I’m mad at myself the most.

I should have been smarter, should have saw it coming, should have done something about it etc. these ideas play in my head over and over becoming nearly paralyzing in nature.

So I run.

I go outside, no music, no podcasts, and I run the anger away. I run nearly every day and I’m still mad.

Yet, I’m patient with myself. I tell myself this anger will not last forever. That I must harness the energy of it. That I must channel that anger into something useful and not just use it to rage out on the hundreds of drivers in Colorado who don’t seem to know how to operate the cars that they drive. I am patient with myself for not being patient.

I pull at a strand of hair and watch myself becoming more and more irritable. I hold on to it, I take a breath, I wonder how many more days are left in the year so I can stop paying attention to how impatient I am.

So, I’ve gotten somewhere at least. I’ve gotten to the point where I can see myself and that seems like a pretty important skill to possess. I notice the irritability, the anger, the unnecessary clapbacks quicker than I used to. It doesn’t always stop an outburst from happening, but it’s almost as if I’m not attached to it anymore. That I can see it as a pattern of behavior that’s reactionary, that happens because that’s how I’ve been reacting for so many years, yet I no longer see those reactions as belonging to me.

I know that they do. But I also know that they don’t have to. That eventually I will feel the old impatient me coming up to the surface and I can stop her, I can replace her with a different storyline.

Undoing 30+ years on reacting one way with another may, in fact, take longer than 365 days, but I’m a bit closer than I was before and now I can put my hair up in a ponytail and (soon) whip it in people’s faces if they’re annoying me in a bar–so there’s that.

long hair

One whole year of growing hair out, so patient in 2017.

What’s in store for 2018? I’m contemplating the art of discipline. Self-control. Motivation. Hoping the patience I gained from 2017 will help, only time will tell….