Gaining Esteem Through Hatred

How thick is your skin?

Does what people say often affect your emotions? Good or bad. I know it does for me. But far less than it used to. This is partly from a deliberate cultivation of an impervious mindset, but mostly from being too busy creating to worry about the critics.

When I first started writing I was so worried about what people might say. I mean, my gosh, someone could disagree with me and then I’d look like a fool when they call out my glaring imperfections in public!

This mentality affected my writing. It was mostly safe, blocky, and insipid. Nothing too outlandish or controversial to merit any criticism of my ideas. The dull style though, was ripe for critique. Nobody took up the charge of demeaning me though because it was too boring to read all the way through and I was too pitiful to assault.

After writing these lackluster pieces for a while, the light of these truths began to dawn on me. If nothing I wrote ever pissed anybody off, then it would never light a fire in someone’s mind. To write good, meaningful prose one must make a stand. And standing in one place of ideas necessarily means that you are neglecting most other spaces of ideas.

So I began to write whatever the hell I felt like. Suicide? Check. Addictions? Sure. Farts, poop, controversial economics, and debauchery? Why not?

Some of these pieces even got published through third parties. This was the moment I relished. The comments section.

You may have noticed that I have it turned off for my personal website. This is deliberate. My blog is my canvas. It is my year of writing every day that I want to preserve as a piece of art to bettering my writing skills. Pretentious? Yes. But I don’t need random comments from drive-by assholes and internet sex bots throwing up click-bait advertisements on my canvas. And frankly, most people who comment on the internet are boring and just want attention.

So, I get to read the comments when my writing is published elsewhere. This is when I occasionally get excited. If there is a solid amount of vitriol and controversy in the thread I feel that I am doing my craft well. If there are just a few perfunctory “good job” comments and no hate, I get depressed.

Of course, I write for myself first and foremost, but I hope to someday inspire and create more thinkers like my writer forebearers have done for me. Call it a legacy or just a socially acceptable reason for locking myself in a room and touching a computer.

Nowadays, I don’t read the comments sections that much. I also don’t get published that much, so that makes it easier. But when I do read the comments I strive for about 50% discord and 50% more or less positive remarks. These positive reactions could range anywhere from confusion to praise. As long as it made people think about something in a way they hadn’t before. Making idea babies in other people’s heads through words I suppose.

To inspire creation one must inspire hatred. But that should not be the explicit goal. This requires thick skin and a driving reason to create. I’m not sure I, or anyone, can really teach this skill. It involves a juicy mixture of humility, experience, success, and mortifying failure. Then repeat. Again and again.

There is no impervious skin. Just because a battleship has skin thicker than a grape by orders of magnitude doesn’t mean it can’t rupture. But weakness is no reason to give up. Weakness is a reason to get stronger. Tougher.

Once you can endure more than most and have skin like a whale shark, you will surely be offending millions. That is when you know you are succeeding.

Catalyzing Melodrama Into Revolution

I want to talk about humans. You know, us. Or who some people refer to as “them.” You’ve heard that term from certain mouths before, most likely your own as well.

“Those people just aren’t like us” is one of the most ancient and primordial sentiments. It is a survival tactic that ensures you stick with your tribe because they are the “safe” humans.

These people are the ones who would nurture you if you broke an ankle or had a family member die. And you would do the same for them in kind.

It has worked pretty alright for quite a while now, and is still deeply pervasive in our social interactions. Think about that person you could call right now if you needed to talk, or borrow $100, if you needed help moving, or had your car break down. They are your tribe. Or you could call AAA.

Normally a tribe includes family, friends, certain co-workers, and members of social groups you belong to.

But what about those “other” people? Can they be trusted?

I spent about four hours today at the San Francisco airport yelling and demanding the release of two such others.

An elderly Iranian couple is being held at SFO without access to legal counsel. This is a violation of the principle of Habeas Corpus and an abomination of human rights. Yes, yes, I know with the Patriot Act that Habeas Corpus was legally dissolved over a decade ago. Luckily for me, laws don’t dictate my morals.

It is my belief that being held against your will for merely being yourself and not harming anyone else, is a crime. Citizen or not. Legislate law or not.

In this case, the crime is being perpetrated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Border Control. The legalized mafia.

So, we decided to shut it down. The entire international terminal at SFO. Until answers were provided as to why Habeas Corpus is not being provided to these innocent humans.

Who is “we” though?

We are the ones who feel it viscerally in our stomachs when injustice is perpetuated. We are the ones whose jaws clench and fists tighten when we see abuse. We are the ones with tears in our eyes at the thought of families separated by armed thugs with badges of authority.

We are the ones with empathy. We are the ones you’ll want on your side when they’ve taken everybody else that you didn’t stand up for, and then come for you.

“Pshhhh! That’s absurd! You’re just being melodramatic” I hear from some. I’d like to be able to vehemently prove those people wrong, but I can’t.

I absolutely think that the imprisonment of innocent people is a travesty, but compared to genocide it pales in severity. There is a lot of melodrama involved in political atmospheres. It can be hard to sift the causes from the effects and the revolutions from the manufactured discord.

But tell me, what situation in history that turned into full-fledged drama, didn’t start as melodrama?

Franz Ferdinand was shot and killed in 1914. This was the death of one man. Who could have predicted that his solitary death, and of course, many other subtle underlying pains, could have turned into the slaughter of 17 million people?

Today marked a turning point in the future history of liberty.

It is a messy battle that has begun. There will be a lot of pain. A lot of tears. And many freshly visible injustices that have not been publicly acknowledged for decades. Mainly because the anti-war left has returned from their slumber. The things previous administrations have been able to sweep under the news cycle rug, are now up for potent scrutiny. I am not admonishing this a dereliction of duty. People are rational, even liberals. We only act when there is a strong enough discomfort or incentive to justify action. Obama was too smooth and likable to raise the ire of the blue people despite documented war crimes. And honestly, if you’re still getting mad at the president, you don’t understand how our federal government works.

What this country really needed was exactly what we got. A dusty Cheeto-headed raccoon narcissist with unilateral powers laid down before him from a centuries-old bipartisan agreement that government is inviolable.

Welcome to the bed that was made. We do not have to lie in it.

We will fight for individual liberty. We will not allow our fellow humans to be locked in cages for non-violence. We will demand, and if need be, forcibly take the hinges off the prison doors to free our comrades.

This is the time to love everyone as much as you want to be loved. This is a revolution to end coercion. Many will try to exploit it. Worry not, they will fail. You cannot argue against power while advocating more power and be taken seriously. This is a time for satire, humor, and common sense. Let the academics hang out to dry. We need laughter and music. And we shall have it. Even today the protest exploded into a New Orleans brass band. There was indignant laughter and tearful smiles all around. And of course, pulsing anger. But also dignity. People were cordial, helpful, courteous, and organized. Chaos into purpose.

Which is the only reason any of us are here. Taking hit after hit every day. We must navigate universal uncertainty with passion and fascination. None of us can truly succeed in this goal while others are forcibly downtrodden.

I encourage you to stand up with us humans in demanding that the same rights you enjoy are not taken from the others.

Space For What Matters

I’m in the desert!

Las Vegas is horrifying! But I’m with good people.

Managed to get out of the sin hole today and explore the rocks a bit.

Yes, this is all filler. I don’t want to write today, or at least not right now. But I am.

There is always space in the day for what really matters to you.

Now, I have business to attend to, so here’s a pretty picture. Leave me alone.

Optimizing Beauty Into Oblivion

Terminal 2, San Francisco International Airport. I know this terminal well. I’ve spent at least six hours of my life pacing the zone.

I walk on my layovers at airports. Like an insane person. But that’s another story.

This morning I was walking the terminal and was stopped mid-stride. Sunrise over the foothills out the window. Insanely purple-orange marmalade with tufts of clouds refracting into hues without words.

Bob Dylan’s “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” came on in my head phones and I couldn’t move. I set my bag down and just watched the glorious sunrise evolve.

It was a beautiful moment.

But of course, I had to find something to bitch about. Or maybe it found me, in this case.

As people walked by, they noticed me. The insane airport sunrise watcher guy. I became an outlier. They then observed the unholy natural beauty I was witnessing and took a short peep themselves without stopping.

I get it. It’s an airport, people have shit to do and places to be. Though, I have found that most nobody knows how to airport correctly. Too often people are focused on rushing to their gates only to sit there for an hour like livestock. There’s other stuff to do, like exercise or find a store that sells sourdough in a can.

So they kept walking. A few did exactly what I knew to be inevitable. They stopped took a perfunctory picture for social media and kept walking, eyes in their phones, heads up their asses.

Now what do you think those people are going to caption those photos?

“Omg! Saw the most AMAZING sunrise in SF!!! Isn’t nature the best!! #solucky”

Or something along those lines.

Nobody reading their social media post will know that they actual gave less than a rat’s ass about that sunrise in the moment.

Yeah, yeah, we all know social media’s mostly fake and full of pompous phonies. Sure, but I still want to address the systemic issue here because it pervades all aspects of life.

These optimized lifestyle hackers trying to get large “followings” by making their whole lives into click bait will die unhappy.

How much can you optimize a life and influence others if you aren’t susceptible to being awed by something as basicly satisfying as watching an insanely gorgeous sunrise for 5 minutes?

“Nope, gotta move on to hack the next thing. Keep turning them gears. Chop chop! Look how important and influential I am!”

Well, you tell me, how far does a car move when the engine isn’t attached to the drive shaft?

How much is your hard effort translating into effective work completed?

And when is the last time you saw something so beautiful and influential that you stopped, mouth agape, for five minutes and just existed?

A Short Meditation On Pain

That thing you’re waiting for to happen, won’t.

 

The obstacles in your way are not moving.

 

The happiness you’re hoping will find you, never will.

 

The web of lies and deceit that surround you are unbreakable.

 

That towering gloom in your life is omnipresent.

 

You will never stumble upon success.  

 

Believe none of this. But expect it. And you will end up with satisfaction.

 

The Definition of Miraculous

Someone once said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it out.” I’d tell ya who said it, but I don’t know. I’ll find out someday and get back to ya.

This is how I feel right now.

Not three minutes ago I was pissed that I had to think of something to write down. Blank-eyed and empty screen. Now that my fingers have begun the work, the brain follows along. Shush now. Let the words do their business.

I know I had lots of little thoughts today. Some may have even synthesized together and formed opinions for all I know. When those opinions resurface a couple of times, I write them down in my iPhone notes. Then forget about them.

I don’t write articles from that list very often. When I do, it’s because I have the luxury of a chunk of two hours or more to myself, the coffee is fresh, and the sun is coming up. Or at least one of those three things is occurring.

Which, unfortunately, hasn’t happened in a while.

I’m not busy, I’m just living. And for me, the stories only appear on paper when they are occurring in life. Hence the focus on living.

Now that I sold my car, I believe I can get down to building my desk so I’m not writing these on the floor or propped awkwardly in my bed. Uncomfortable or non-optimal writing posture tends to produce squishy and lethargic writing out of me.

Writing is amplified on a solid desk. But the build-out will have to wait after I return from Vegas this weekend. Stories to be made!

Anyways, I just drove over 40 miles after work to sell my car and took the slow train all the way back. My treat? Some cold chicken with hot sauce and writing these words.

And I’ve got to say, it feels amazing. Having this guidepost of writing every day has changed my life. Not just because it is a routine. That helps. But instead, because I want to become a writer. And actively performing and working towards that self-belief every day is the definition of miraculous.

So, if I have to make some dumb moralizing point to all this for you there. Yeah, you! Become that thing you want to become. How? By doing a little bit of it every day for a year. Then do it some more.

Oh, but it’s hard? I’m sorry, nevermind. Forget what I said. You’ll just become whoever people tell you to. Sounds pretty sucky though. Nahhh, that’s not for you!

Come on into the creative active jet jacuzzi with me! It is quite nice once you get used to the heat.

How I’m Getting Screwed Over And Why It Feels Great

Moving to San Francisco presents a host of opportunities and, of course, a plethora of boondoggles.

First, one must have a job to ensure a possible life in the area. Then one must find a domicile to reside so as to make work a possibility. It’s a tenuous catch-22 that, through luck and preparation, I have managed to secure. Every other obstacle beyond these twin engines is pea gravel in consequence.

For instance, I have to go to a laundromat now. Annoying, but manageable. I must pay over a hundred dollars a month for inner city transport. Schmeh. Then there’s the delicate issue of occasional landmines of human feces on the sidewalk. One develops a sixth sense for that kind of thing.

The real problem I’ve been having is figuring out what to do with my car. My sweet, sweet girl.

I’ve had this Camry for over six years and put over 175,000 miles on her. It’s been a real hoot having her by my side all these years. And an honor serving with her in my own service to vagabonding across this country which is not recognized by any badges or rank.  And yes, this anthropomorphization is getting a bit uncomfortable, but I’ve got more to go and it’s tragic. I have to get rid of her.

For some reason, this city that was designed and built in the early 20th century did not plan on everybody having two car households. Ergo, parking is a nightmare. To say nothing of the hair-raising, death-defying drivers and clogged roads. It’s just plain gross.

So, I’ve been trying to sell my car rather than face the innumerable and inevitable parking fines, tolls, theft, and traffic.

She’s reliable, new tires, struts, battery, serpentine belt, and more. She gets close to 40 MPG which is insane for a ‘98 car. I’ve taken good care of her fluid wise and in general. I’m biased because it’s my car but it’s a damn good value at its blue book of $1,600.

Which is why selling it for $700 really pissed me off. At first. I felt like a total rube. Here I am an aspiring sales professional and I was getting ripped off this bad?! It was depressing.

Let’s go back in time for a second.

I originally posted my car on that panacea of human delights, Craigslist, one Thursday night hoping to sell on Saturday. I posted it for $1000 flat and made clear I was not negotiating at all. I clarified the reason I was selling $600 below bluebook was because the car is still registered in Texas and California has onerous car registration fees of up to $300 and, I despise the DMV which is like your local DMV that you hate multiplied by 7. Because California.

Also, there is a required smog test that sounds like a real shitty way to spend a Saturday afternoon and tacks on another $80. Basically, the state of California automatically sucks $400 off the value of the car.

So I posted and the hits came into my inbox immediately. I felt like a fly-fisher with the perfect bait on a river of starved trout. Over 15 offers came in that night. Boom!

“I got the $1000 in hand ready to buy!” said one.

“Ready to buy your car as is. CASH$” claimed another.

“I trade sexual favors for car” said another. Kidding. But not that far fetched for Bay Area Craigslist replies.

To bring a long story short, most of these replies were grade A-hole liars. I got stood up three times to show the car, wasting my entire weekend. And time is not something I have much of right now while still trying to settle into the city, furnish my room, establish relationships, and get my life together.

I managed to connect with one guy that weekend who test drove the car (and didn’t kidnap me). He was polite and drove a long way to come see it. He knew a few things to look at and seemed to know his way around the engine.

He explained that the car might not pass the smog test since it was a ‘98 and had a questionable if non-existent catalytic converter which is expensive to replace. Also, the engine has a slow small leak. Pretty standard for Camrys, but still hard to get to and about $300 in labor. He offered $600 for the car. I countered with $800, forgetting my no negotiating rule. This guy was too damn nice and had good points. He stuck firm with $700 and I didn’t budge. Instead, he drove off and I got blown off by another Craigslist mouth breather shortly afterward.

There was no way I was going to sell my reliable beauty for $700. Blasphemy!

I was angry. It felt hopeless. I called up a few more Craigslist trolls and heard them make their promises, but never answer their phones at the agreed upon time. “How hard can it be to give someone a great deal?!” I fumed.

But the hopeless anger began to subside. The more I thought about it, the nice guy’s points, and ran the numbers, I realized he was right. He was facing many hundreds of dollars of repairs, more hundreds in permits and fees, and many hours at the horror dungeon that is the DMV. And this car has 215,000 miles on it. She’s only got a few more good years in her.

So, I’m going to sell her to him tomorrow. And getting screwed over has never felt so liberating. Never will I have to worry about paying parking fines or getting lost in the maze of streets or dodging the insane cyclists and hubristic pedestrians of the city.

She was and still will be a good car. I’m lucky to even be extracting any residual value from her after all these years, adventures, and miles. Many stories in my life, who I am, only exist because of her motor and reliability.

Goodbye old girl, thanks for all those dusty, jazzy memories.

Shooting The Moon

Have you ever heard the expression “shooting the moon?” I believe it comes from the card game Hearts.

Does anyone know how to play Hearts anymore? Did anyone ever?

Well, my uncle taught me once when I was a lad and it’s one of the only card games I know how to play.

The scoring is kind of like golf, in that you want the lowest score. Each heart card in your hand at the end of the round is a point. You don’t want any hearts in your hand. Also, the queen of spades is worth 13 points for some random reason. Watch out for that bitch. She’ll getcha.

However, there is one unique rule in the game which is a strategy known as “shooting the moon.” To do said moon shooting, you have to deliberately collect every heart card and queen of spades during a round and have them in your hand at the end. If one manages to do this then every other player gets 26 points or you have the choice to remove 26 points from your overall score. Which is good.

It is a risky maneuver. If even one person smells your scheme they will collect one of the heart cards you need and throw you into a mound of dirty points that will sully your ideal low score. Heartless ironic brutes. Hearts is a game where family turns enemy and friends are lost.

I can only remember successfully shooting the moon once. It is risky but decisive move that can turn the tides and win a game for someone.

Many will warn you not to do it. With reason. I can imagine the statistics on the success of the strategy are appalling. But people still try usually because they are already so in the hole with many heart cards in their hand that they decide to say “screw it” and attempt to Shoot the moon.

This is not the way to approach shooting the moon. It is sloppy, impulsive, and impetuous. It must be a deliberate approach. Like a tiger in the sedge meadow stalking the prey with patience and unemotive gaze.

Seriously, this game hurts feelings.

Of course, it is a card game after all and there is more than a bit of luck involved. But the same could be said with the tiger in the bush. It’s prey could startle at any number of things outside of its control.

One must pursue the goal in the face of universal uncertainty. Whether it be luck of the draw or the laws of nature.

Yet time moves on regardless. Chaos and all.

The moon is far away and hard to get to, why bother?. Some inventions are beyond our current possibilities. Why even try to invent them?

Most everything that will exist in 30 years has not even been thought of yet. Entire industries, culture, a new batch of human adults.

Some fear the future. Others want to control its exact path. Neither’s predictions or efforts will be right. They are afraid of phantasms or trying to wrestle sand, respectively.

In a sense most all of us fall somewhere in the spectrum between those two ends. But I like to err on the side of the moon shot. Always striving to change the game. True, my analogy to the card game implies that other’s are losing at my benefit, so sure, it’s not the best metaphor. I really must reiterate that the only way to actually win the game in real life is by helping other people win their game. In that I suppose is a nice answer and point to leave on.

We are all playing a game, be it is our own game within our own heads within our own lives. We may bump games with others in our life and intermingle the rules, emotions, and paraphernalia. Hell, we can even spawn new people playing their own game that we don’t even recognize some rules in.

But it always comes back to the one inside of your own head. That’s the rulebook you are in charge of. When other people’s rules stop making sense to your game, don’t abide by them. Do what you must do.

Sometimes people don’t expect the moonshot, and that’s why it works.

 

Anger Is Built On Anger And Creates Anger

People are angry today.

Some are the obvious mad ones holding signs and interrupting the commute of people who need to get paid. These others who need to get paid are working their second job to pay for their standard of living. Those people are now and have been mad. Much like the hipsters, they can say they were there first. But now they have a new clusterfuck in their way to work in the form of people supposedly protesting on their behalf.

There is definitely something happening here. And like Buffalo Springfield said, most of it consists of people saying “hooray for my sign.”

These are people who want to be heard. They have grievances. And by congregating in a mass of other individuals with similar, but never the exact same, grievances, they believe their own individual voice will be heard louder.

Perhaps so. I doubt it. There is definitely news coverage of the signs and shouts. The media conglomerates are going to the bank today from all the shouting and signs. So there’s that.

I am not opposed to being mad. In fact, I’ve been mad for quite a while. This isn’t a holier-than-thou statement. I am honestly glad that many more people realize that our government can turned against them as quick and easy as a Ron Popeil rotisserie chicken cooker.

Welcome to the fold. We have much to work together on.

But here’s a tip, that I’m still trying to implement in my life of stewing anger. Don’t let your anger work against the solution you seek.

For example, right now, people are reading these words and the hatred is boiling under their epidermis. They’re thinking I’m some kind of dirty Trump supporter who wants women’s’ uteruses to be leased out through a baby factory app controlled by sweaty men in suits in some corporate boardroom. Merely because I have a different opinion on the efficacy of these marches.

I went on a date last night with a girl who worked with the federal government and had a hilarious time trying to explain that, because I had a different opinion than her, didn’t mean that I wanted women to be raped with regularity out on the streets. Because I didn’t agree with her exact worldview I became an ovarian assassin and serial rapist.

Suffice it to say, we didn’t schedule a next date.

She, I, and the millions of others like her do not agree on the particular solutions, but we definitely agree on the outcomes. Who doesn’t want to be free and left alone? Honestly.

Paradise is sitting with a pint of ice cream, a book, and a comfy chair. Oh, and no rape also.

But the irony in the fact that because I don’t share her exact solutions somehow makes me less of a person than her is so perfectly ridiculous that I must spell out a logical flow that I see extrapolated to these protests.

Step A) Perceive oppression and/or injustice from authority group.

Step B) Form a group to combat said authority.

Step C) Claim your group’s viewpoint as the only allowable view to hold.

Step D) Ostracize, insult, castigate, ignore anyone who has another non-violent idea to achieve the same goal.

Step E) Feel threatened by the other ideas. Try to use a majority to make them illegal. At least attack them culturally.

Step F) Form a new oppressive authority structure to keep your ideas in power.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I welcome the new, angered masses. All I can say is, try not to become the thing you hate. It’s far easier and more insidious to slip than you might think. Anger just isn’t that much fun and it is also a poor persuasive tool.

Get it out of your system if you must, but then please help create the future not criticize it into inane oblivion. We will win together but only if we are free to be different.