Give Up

There is a point on the graph of Time and Space in which Nihilism and Practicality overlap on their journeys. You realize that some activities are futile while others are simply harmful to yourself. And in that tiny point of two traits passing by, you come to the conclusion that it’s best to just stop.

A few months ago I gave up my art. It was becoming more difficult to find any kind of inspiration to draw from, and a blank page is one of the saddest sights. At first it was just a small hiatus–I’m prone to taking small hiatuses like that. Usually when I give it a break I come back more powerful and my swings could knock even myself out.

However, that is not the case this time. Ages have seemed to pass, but I’m still all dried up inside and there’s seemingly nothing to bring the dead garden back to a flourishing state.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing art anymore; it’s simply that I can’t seem to do it. That’s devastating to me, but understandable to my logical reaches. My brain no longer functions the same as it did a decade ago, or even last year, or even six months ago. Something has overrun the part of my mind that allowed my creativity to express itself in an outwardly manner.

That was a few months ago, though, and today is today.

Last night I had trouble falling asleep. I (literally) tossed and turned–something I don’t really do; normally I just lie there until I’ve drifted off–and I could feel the (metaphorical) bug crawling around my mind. I knew that the next day–that today–was Wednesday, my usual day for updating my blog. A number of topics sped through my head after having narrowly missed out on an extended Facebook debate with someone I love. I could easily put down in words what I might have trouble saying aloud or even drafting inside the tiny white box given to us to express ourselves by the social media website.

But why bother? The people who I’d want to read it wouldn’t. In fact, almost no one would. My blog, for a long time, has been just for me. The sporadic virtual pat on the back or comment was the icing, sure, but for years I’ve been writing for me, as an outlet. I understand and accept that when I post something here, then send the link to Facebook and Twitter, that only a handful of people will ever actually sit through the entire thing, or even click the link in the first place. This has been a weekly ritual for my own sake–a cathartic hobby.

However, I’ve derived very little pleasure from writing on my blog over the past few months. I’ve been repeating myself quite a bit (surely, even this is just a longer version of my post two weeks ago); I’ve struggled to begin pieces or even come up with something to write about; and, most of all, the things I do want to write about I either find too controversial or too complicated to completely get down on paper. I no longer enjoy it.

These thoughts have led me to a very practical response: Give up.

My life is not where I would have thought it would be, had you asked me ten years ago. I have dug my way into a scared and anxiety-filled personality covered in depression and dead ambition. I’m not good at much anymore, and the things I am good at won’t make me any more money than I’m currently making (either from my job or my once desired career). And money is imperative to living.

Just ask Donald Trump.

Therefore, it is with only mild regret that I declare my retirement from blogging, from art, and even from writing. This has been a decision coming for quite awhile now. When the one thing that once made you happiest in life no longer even makes you content, you can only let it go.

Perhaps it will come back, but I know myself and if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s giving up. I’d like to say that I’ll still write the occasional blog entry but, truth is, after this thing that has become a burden is lifted from my shoulders, I probably won’t look back.

It is time now, though, to let those of you with both aptitude for writing and self-marketing to take over or keep on. Had I ever learned to network and put myself out there, boldly or shamelessly, I may have done better, but I simply did not.

I would, of course, like to thank any readers out there, be you loyal or irregular. Every time I got a notification that someone liked a post it gave me a little satisfaction (even from the robots). And every comment, reblog, and share was appreciated far more than you might realize.

Thank you.

With much love,

Garrett

Garrett

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Trek v. Wars

There’s this strange, raging battle in sci-fi and nerd culture that I don’t quite understand. Get the right kind of geeks together, bring up science fiction, and watch the bloodbath begin. They get into their niches and hold the position with phasers or laser blasters, unrelenting and never giving in.

I’m speaking of the sci-fi rivalry between Star Trek and Star Wars. Two of the greatest series to ever grace the kingdom of nerds. Go to any comic book or sci-fi convention and take count of people dressed like Chewbacca or William Riker.

You may think I’m being hyperbolic with my assessment of the anger and resentment between the two factions of fandom, but I’m really not. I know people who are such die-hard Star Wars fans that they won’t even consider watching Star Trek, and vice versa. There’s this thought that by enjoying both, you lose your loyalty to the one you love more.

Sure, there are the internal feuds of each series–Did Han or Greedo shoot first; was Picard or Kirk a better captain–but those are dumb because we all know that Greedo shot first* and that Picard was a much better captain.

When I was a kid, too young for school, I remember watching daytime reruns of The Next Generation with my mom. Later, we would catch episodes of Deep Space Nine during summer break. It wasn’t for years that I would see A New Hope for the first time. Therefore, you would think that my loyalty would lie with Trek rather than Wars, but I never saw contention between the two.

Probably because there shouldn’t be.

Star Wars and Star Trek are totally different in most aspects: Wars was a series of movies which eventually turned into TV shows, whereas Trek was a (and later multiple) TV show which eventually turned into a series of movies; Trek was heavily focused on exploration of a still unknown galaxy, but Wars was about gaining control for a galaxy already mapped out†; one took place in the future in our own galaxy with our own species, the other happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away with a species overtly similar to our own; in Trek, the action happened mainly on the various ships of the different series, whereas the Star Wars movies were heavily dependent on planets and moons.

When it was announced that J.J. Abrams would be directing the new Star Wars movie, certain people threw a fit. How could he be allowed such an honor after having directed two Star Trek movie revamps? He was cast in the light of a turncoat, betraying one fandom for another. Why, though? He was completing a dream that most Gen X nerds would have given their first child (or mint condition Boba Fett action figure still in the original box) for. Instead of booing and hissing, we should have been carrying him into the sunset on our shoulders–until we had to put him down because some of us have asthma.

Whenever I hear about someone refusing to delve into any sci-fi series because they like something else better it drives me a little crazy. Where did this idea that you can only like one TV or movie series of any given genre come from? Why are we so quick to argue over which is better? Can’t we just have peace?

After all, if we ban together, we can fight against other, more dangerous enemies. Like Babylon 5 fans‡.

Footnotes:
*I could write an entire stand-alone piece on why Greedo shot first, but not today.
†I mean, the titles say it all: One was about TREKKING the galaxy, the other was about WARRING for one.
‡I actually have nothing against Babylon 5, and will, at some point in my television watching career, watch it, thus becoming a diehard fan of it as well.
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A Placeholder for Creativity

Some days you can do nothing but stare at a blank page for an hour before deciding that nothing is going to come out. Creativity can sometimes be fickle and when it dries up, things can be difficult. You have obligations—be they to others or to yourself—and no matter how far you push your brain, the things that you come up with all seem trivial or simply terrible.

But those obligations don’t go away. They are there and you have to deal with them. If you’re like me, you know that skipping out—even on yourself—can lead to a dangerous precedence of failing (positive) habits.

You think, Maybe I’ll switch things up and do something a bit different. But you fail to realize that creativity is creativity and you can’t always bank on changing formats easily.  And no matter how much you groan or scream or sit quietly, staring at your computer monitor, there is nothing.

Today is one of those days and it’s making things a bit hazy for me. It feels dangerous to push myself into writing something I’ll later regret in quality or to take a one-time vacation from my blog, so consider this a placeholder for creativity. These words are, more or less, just a feeble explanation as to why I have no great opinion or anecdotal piece this week.

I would apologize to my readers but, in reality, I don’t have many readers and I’m disappointing myself more than anyone else. Hopefully, next week I’ll feel fresh and bright again, and can punch out eight hundred words about my disdain for the overuse of the term “soulmate” or how we live in a world of misinformation or whatever.

For today, though, I’ll just post this up, shrug a shoulder, and move on to more important matters. Like food.

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Big Kids

It had been raining a lot, and heavily. Trips outside of the house included running to various workplaces under umbrellas and ponchos, but nowhere else. And even though we had a plethora of video games and board games and each other to keep ourselves entertained, we were all getting on edge from the intruding cabin fever.

We were a bunch of guys living in a three-story house on one of the busiest and most commercial streets in the city. We called our house “the Aquarium” for reasons that are still hazy. They were fantastic times in which we had each other at hand to go out to the bar, take a walk down to the local game shop, or just hang out at home.

This day, however, was getting to us. We’d all been stuck—for the most part—inside as the rain beat down. I remember sitting on the musty old couch given to us by someone’s brother or something. I don’t really remember deciding that we needed to leave the house, but I remember heading out the door with the guys.

The rain had lightened up. There was still a misting coming down from the clouds above, but it wasn’t the downpour it had been. Our destination was, honestly, the worst place to go when it’s been raining so heavily.

We lived within a ten minute walking distance to one of the largest parks in the city. The ground was springy and, in some places, made you sink into mud. The cars splashed water at regular intervals. And everything was covered in a layer of fresh rain. But we trekked out to the park; the only thing in our minds was getting out of the house.

At the park we hesitated. What can you do in an abandoned public park after heavy rains while it was still soaked through? We hung out near the playground, trying the swings out. There was no climbing trees or stomping through the woods. Even the creek was probably dangerous to get near. And there was certainly zero chance of bumping into any other friends—there was only the occasional runner or dog walker in the entire park. It was eerily quiet, with not even cars wanting to drive through the bleakness.

Not much to do.

Instead, we just played on the jungle gym. We pretended it was a starship and we were the crew. The steering wheel was the cockpit, the lower tier was the engine room, the upper tier the gunner’s seat.

Perhaps it was the freedom of leaving the house, the complete destruction of the creeping cabin fever, or maybe it was simply that we were ourselves out in the world, but there we were, four twenty-something year old men playing on a jungle gym.

We argued over who was the captain or who got to pilot; we made up enemies and shouted out surprise attacks from the aft of our ship; we were nearly shot at, and nearly lost a crew member; we had to pull together to fix the warp drive in time; we jumped from the top, splashing our way across the outside of the ship; we spun the steering wheel, flinging water out in an arc; we were big kids for an afternoon.

At some point, a middle-aged Japanese man in a poncho wandered by. Intrigued he stopped and watched us. We gave small waves of acknowledgement, but kept pretending at full speed. As he viewed us as if we were professional actors in a play, he smiled a wide smile and gave small chuckles as our ship took a shot to the port side, knocking us sideways.

Some time later (it’s hard to say how long, but probably half an hour) we cooled down, somewhat bored now and realizing that our story had no plot and could therefore go on forever if we didn’t stop it. I looked back at the guys from behind the wheel and said, “All right,” in a tired way. They loosened up too and we decided to head back home.

The Japanese man, understanding that we were done, applauded loudly for us, still laughing his friendly laugh and nodded enthusiastically. We gave quick, theatrical bows and left, still grinning at ourselves.

I don’t go out much anymore. I live on the other side of town from most of my friends and we’ve all begun to split apart into other groups of friends. Seven or so years later, I find it hard to bring myself to use my imagination like that day in the light rain at the park.

Whenever the rain lets up after days of downpour, however, I think about those times at the Aquarium with the guys doing weird and dumb stuff, back when life was easier and we were all still just big kids.

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The Loudest Trumpet

With each passing week and every new Donald Trump quote, you can practically hear comedians the country over rubbing their hands together whilst salivating. Trump’s own brand of ridiculous nonsense is what comedians live for. He can say just about anything and they jump on the opportunity to crack a joke in regards to the gold-obsessed billionaire; and we all laugh along with them.

It’s amazing that someone like Trump could ever get this close to a Presidential candidacy. After descending an escalator (for some reason) he announced that he would run for the presidency of the United States and that he’d make the greatest, most amazing president that blah blah blah. It later came out that he had hired people to hold signs and pretend to be supporters, which is a fantastic sentiment in and of itself.

He also said a lot of extremely negative and racist things about “illegal immigrants.” We all sat back with jaws wide and slight smirks on our faces because, clearly, this man had killed his chances of running before he even began. The comedians had a field day, as they should have, and we all waited for Trump to backtrack and try to fumble his way out of his comments.

Except that he never did. And, what’s worse, he jumped to number two in the polls of Republican candidates.

This is where things stop being funny.

Trump is a unique and odd individual. He boasts about being extremely successful, despite having filed for bankruptcy multiple times and having gotten his money from inheritance. He also criticizes things he clearly has no actual knowledge about (the illegal immigrant comments, for example; he also called a Scotland farm a “slum”* because, presumably, he doesn’t understand what a farm should look like). He thinks far too highly of himself, with no modesty whatsoever, which is not a great quality for a president.

Through promises of making every American rich, he’s become this entity of delusion that clearly doesn’t understand economics or Capitalism even on a basic level. Perhaps because of this, coupled with his unabashedly American idealism of being one hundred percent unapologetic, his ranking as the second most popular Republican candidate has stuck fast.

And that should concern everyone—not least other Republicans. If Trump made it into the nomination, it would say something extremely discouraging about America. It would show how aligned we are with Trump’s ideas and characteristics. Are we so boastful? Are we so greedy? Are we so critical of things we know nothing of? Are we so egotistical?

Although I like to think the best of my country, the truth is, we are many of those things. We’ve become a nation isolating itself from the rest of the world. We keep a handful of other countries friendly, if only at an arm’s length. Maybe, hopefully, that’s what will happen with Trump: The American populous will see him for the tyrant he is and push him away long before the primaries and the next election will be between two (or, even better, more) sane people.

But then we have to go back to the old point of why Trump is getting so much media coverage in the first place: He’s entertainment. He’s hilarious in a sad-clown-kind-of-way. We like pointing at him and laughing or rolling our eyes until they get stuck inside our heads. Without him we might have another boring election of people rattling on about issues. Bah! Where’s the remote?

My prediction is this: The Old White Men that back the Republican party will edge Trump out for someone who looks extremely reasonable next to the orange-faced, swooping comb over of Donald T. At this point, Trump will either get back to trying to be the best, most richest whatever in the woooorld; or he will run as an Independent. If the latter happens, he’ll dump large amounts of his own money into his campaign since no rich Republican-backing individual (or two brothers who shall remain nameless) would touch him with a dollar bill attached to a ten-foot stick. He’ll get, maybe, two percent of the vote, thus confirming that his current second place ranking among Republicans is a fluke.

I very much doubt, though, that he will make it to ever debating a Democratic candidate. His nomination in the primaries would depend solely on the average American’s deluded desire to be a millionaire and our thirst for entertainment over our own good…

Actually, now that I put it that way, we might be calling him President Trump in a year and a half. And heaven help us if the White House becomes the Gold House.

Footnotes:
*If you’ve not seen it, check out the documentary You’ve Been Trumped.
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To the Person Who Censored This Book

I get a lot of weird and/or funny stories out of my workplace. I often come home and share some odd event with friends, in which everyone gets to laugh or roll their eyes. You’d think life was sleepy working in a library, but really it’s always something—everyday.

A few days ago I was working the desk when another employee brought a book over to me. She told me that a patron wanted to let us know that someone had made marks throughout the book and that that patron wasn’t responsible (this is actually quite common, especially with children’s and non-fiction books).

My coworker, however, couldn’t find any markings. I took the book from her and flipped through it until I found a tiny little pen scratch over a word. Upon further examination, I found it to be the word “goddamn.” A few more pages on I found the same thing. There were several occasions in which someone had inked out that one particular word.

The book was titled Seducing Cinderella. It’s what we call a paperback romance—you know, those cheesy books in which the unsuspecting, humble woman is courted by some rogue (or rake, or small-town sheriff, or cowboy, or highlander, or werewolf). Seducing Cinderella featured a blue-tone cover of a man’s toned chest and six-pack abs with a woman’s hand caressing this headless and limbless body.

It was that kind of book.

Now, of course, I’m not berating paperback romances or the people who read them—at least it’s not the angst-filled teenaged girl who’s never read a book in her life except the Twilight saga-like poor writing of Fifty Shades of Grey. If that’s your thing, go for it. Read on, my friend. I just want everyone to have a clear understanding of what this book was about before I make my main point.

What is my main point? Well, it’s this:

That’s what you censored?

The next day, in retelling the story to a couple of other coworkers (both of whom love these kinds of anecdotes; truly, we exchange them on a regular basis) I decided to make a greater point about the hilarity of the situation by actually reading aloud a passage of the book that included a marked-out “goddamn.”

I got to the phrase “into her channel” before one of my coworkers turned toward her desk, covered her ears, and shouted, “DING DING DING! Okay!” to stop me from going on*. I didn’t even get to the censored word.

I’m not saying that anything should be censored, but if you feel you need to take the time to scratch out offensive words, why are you reading that book in the first place? These are the kinds of books that repressed Christian women who only wear ankle-length skirts would call “smut,” but apparently using that word is a step too far! Ignore the sex scenes described in great detail—what we need to watch out for is potty words.

When I was a teenager and still religious, I would scold friends who used the forbidden “G-D” word. Most were respectful and avoided using it around me (or any other offensive “Lord’s name in vain” phrases). Even today, if I know someone is Christian I try and watch my language. I understand the underlining negativity for religious people in certain words or actions (I even understand why Muslims get so upset about drawings of the Prophet Muhammad).

However, if I was reading a book and noticed the author using a word I didn’t agree with multiple times—I would stop reading the fucking book.

What this patron did was so much worse. Instead of deciding that her morals come first, she kept on reading her book which referred to a vagina as “her channel” and marked out the offending word. Really, she would have actually had to look at the word “goddamn” even more by marking it up instead of just skipping over it in her head.

The whole incident made me laugh. Usually I would simply shake my head at anyone willing to damage the book of a public library, much less someone who censored books. This, however, was a whole new level. It’s about like a guy ripping the articles out of a Playboy Magazine and shredding them for moral reasons.

I thought about getting a snapshot of one of the censored pages, full of vaguely-specific sexual encounters between Mr. Sixpack and Cinderella, but couldn’t bring myself to due to the possibility of getting caught by one of my coworkers. Oh well.

My message here, kids, is this: Don’t censor books. Find another, less offensive book to read. Or just grow the fuck up. Either/or, really.

Footnotes:
*In my defense, I didn’t preread the section. And, after I stopped reading aloud, I continued silently just to get an idea of what kind of bullet I’d just dodged. It got much worse.
†By the way, if you don’t like the word “fuck,” you should probably stop reading this piece (or most of my blog posts…)
‡Or his. I don’t actually know which, but I do know that of the people I see who check these kinds of books out, 100% are women.
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Your Memes Are the Worst

It’s a whole new world out there. Gone are the days of simply sitting and talking on the porch with your neighbors; or hanging out with a group of friends at your favorite bar. No, we live in an age in which you have to tweet about your conversations and selfie yourself at your favorite bar. We live in a time when it is more acceptable to share your exact location at any given moment with three hundred people you kind of know (or, worse, the entire world without filter) than it is to give your mother a call on her birthday (or, worse, Facebook the entire world with a generic message and then tagging your mother in the post).

I’m not saying these things are bad—although, I will say it; these things are bad—but I really just want to point out that we live in a time of sharing and, more often than not, over-sharing. We pour ourselves onto the internet so that everyone else will know exactly what kinds of people we are.

Except, the thing is, we’re not sharing the right stuff. We share where we ate today and what it was we ate; we share when we’re hanging out with other people or simple views we hold; we share if we just got into a relationship (fear: “Facebook official”) and our daily horoscope. We (you all, not me) share baby pictures and more baby pictures and PLEASE STOP SHARING PICTURES OF YOUR STUPID BABY. What we don’t share is our true selves—the things that might make it easier to relate to one another. We do try to share these truths, but in a very different and very stupid way:

Enter the memes.

Read a book

I will admit that I enjoy the occasional meme. I like pointing at my computer monitor as if other people are in the room and muttering, “Heh.” They can be clever or, at the very least, amusing; they can make fantastic references from everything from popular culture to classic literature. At times, you even have to stop and think about it. Those memes I accept with loving embrace.

Then there are the other memes. The ones that make you groan or roll your eyes or even scoff. The overtly political memes; the “I can’t think for myself, so here” memes; the “did you know that I’m like this? Because I’m like this” memes. And, worst of all, the “Like if X, Share if Y” memes.

A couple of weeks back I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, picking up on amusing articles or great jokes by my stand-up comedian friends. I came across a meme which I promptly voided from my memory. It was one of those “Here’s a one-sided political statement with no backup; Like if you agree, share if you think we need change.” I groaned, rolled my eyes, and then scoffed—but I moved on.

KIWIS

Then I came across another meme. This time it was a Christian meme with the message of “1 like = 1 prayer; 1 share = 10 prayers; ignore = you don’t care” and I hit the fucking brakes. These memes get to me. It’s not the shoving of religion in your face (truly, I don’t feel they’re trying to shove anything in anyone’s face) so much as the blatant laziness.

One like equals one prayer? So, instead of just praying for whatever thing the meme is picturing, you want people to simply like it? Or are you saying that first the people have to pray and then click “like” so that you know who is praying for what? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of prayer? Isn’t the idea that you are communicating on a personal level with your god? Perhaps the poster is simply offering to pray for the thing for others if they agree to like—which, frankly, seems the worst of all three options.

NEWHART

And then you have the audacity to say that a share is the equivalent of ten prayers? Again, are you allowing people to be lazy, forcing them to acknowledge their personal conversations with their deity, or are you just offering to pray TEN TIMES if the person shares the image?

Oh, but if they ignore the meme, then they’re a terrible person who doesn’t care about starving children in Africa or that Jesus died for their sins. This third alternative is pretty much the worst. Putting these three options on a meme (in particular the last one) all you are doing is trying to get people to focus on you. They are not liking/sharing/ignoring the meme itself, they are liking/sharing/ignoring you—and the meme by proxy.

GORGON

It’s not just religion memes (although, the religious ones seem most insulting, always) that I’ve seen like this, either. There are political and personal belief ones as well (I once blocked a friend from my timeline for insinuating that any of us who didn’t share a photo of a skinny mill puppy didn’t care about animals).

Thus, I decided to fight back! Armed with Google Image search and MS Paint, I went to work on my own memes to counteract the negative ones filling up my Facebook feed. Find a ridiculous image, paste it in Paint, put black bars above and below, add text in capital Impact font—upload to social media.

fourth meme

I felt immediately better. I didn’t do it for the likes (yes, I did), I didn’t do it for the shares (kind of)—no, I did it for the ignores! I knew that some people would see them and realize how stupid my memes were and then, hopefully, they would reflect on how they’d wasted their life away forcing three hundred kind-of friends on Facebook to acknowledge their beliefs.

DOWN UNDER

The thing that gets me, in the end, about these memes people post is that they think they’re letting others in. They think they’re sharing an intimate moment with others about who they are deep down inside. But, really, all they’re showing is who they want to appear to be on the outside.

At least my memes let in a sliver of my true personality: A sarcastic jerk who just wants to make fun of you.

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