i a odd ball

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I received three emails today asking me why I changed the name of this blog.

i a odd ball? one person asked. What is that?

That does not make any sense, I like Absurdistry better,  another person wrote.

The grammar “i a odd ball” is all wrong (like so much else of what you write), is all another email said.

I don’t know. The name change of this blog is so unimportant that I do not even know why I am writing about it. I suppose I have nothing else to write about. I mean, I have things that I could write about, but I do not want to. I tried. I wrote several potential posts and then deleted them. I wrote a post called Why My German Shepherd Is Just Like A Black Man and then I deleted it. I wrote something else called The End Of Unhappiness and then deleted that because, well, I felt like it was too darn depressive. I’m trying to not be so depressive, even though I realize this may mean that what I have left to say might be rather dull. For some reason the depressive often makes for good literature and I am trying to find a decent balance between the two. I also know that people I know read this blog and I dont want to worry them too much.

Anyways, I changed the name of this blog to i a odd ball. A month or so ago I was on a walk. I walked through a park that was right besides an elementary school. I came across a piece of white paper on the ground with i a odd ball written on it. I assumed that the piece of paper slipped out of some kids backpack since it looked like a kids handwriting. I picked up the piece of paper and stuck it in my pocket. The other day I took it out and put it on my desk. And that is how it came to be.

On Turning My F_____G Television Permanently Off

Samsung-UN50F5500-50-inch-Refurbished-LED-Television-with-Smart-TV-P15828380I wrote what you are about to read a few days ago. I decided not to publish it since later that evening I reconnected with my television. But I guess I will incriminate myself now and hang what I wrote on my blog for a few people in the world to see. I just touched it up a bit, cleaned up some of the grammar errors and toned down some of the more vulgar rants against my television that are probably best kept to myself. I have gone against everything I wrote about in what you are about to read (for now). Just last night I fell asleep watching David Letterman and woke up at three in the morning and watched QVC ( I almost bought a super-blender but convinced myself that I did not need it). I suppose the part of me that wrote what you are about to read feels like a hypocrite and is slightly embarrassed to admit that I am still giving into the distracting pleasures of my TV. But oh well, I am not perfect and I realize that because of my anxious mind, I am more susceptible to a lot of temptations than most men.

On Turning My F_____G Television Permanently Off

The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.
-from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

As soon as I am done writing this, I will be doing something that would seem impossible, if not down right idiotic, to the vast majority of American denizens. I will be unplugging my television. All of the often satisfying euphoric images and sales pitches that come through the plastic box that sits on my shelf, will be taken off of life support. The cable box will be dissembled, the electrical cord unplugged and the television stuck into a closet. I can already hear all of my neighbors whose bedrooms and front rooms are always lit up by the ominous television screens glow screaming various impassioned exhortations like: Why the hell would you do that?, A little television never hurt anyone!, Why would you want to cut yourself off from the world like that?, But it’s so good for relaxation!, Are you crazy?

Yeah, yeah, yeah…

I tried. I really tried. I stopped reading before bed and starting flicking back and forth between David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. I tried to be interested in their monologues, which always seemed to make the audience laugh while leaving me feeling like I did not get the funny part of the joke. I tried to be interested in the conversations that these men where having with their rich and famous guests despite knowing that it was all just a set up to market a movie or television show or a lifestyle or to sell an album. I tried to be interested in the nightly news, despite knowing that I was letting people much less intelligent than me tell me things that I knew they themselves knew very little about. In the mornings I would turn on the television and watch programs like Good Morning America for a bit before getting out of bed despite the fact that I felt such disdain for the hosts and participants of these morning television shows. I had nothing in common with any of them (except my basic human biological processes) yet I kept watching. It was as if the artificiality of these television personalities put a spell over me and I was often unable to take my attention away from their banality. I became fascinated by their sadistic and manipulative ability to fascinate me. Why was I so interested? How could it happen to me of all people? How could I actually feel like these idiots were talking to me? Jeeze. I actually traded in a daily morning meditation practice for the slothful pleasures of lingering in bed watching morning television shows. If you are starting to get the picture here, you will understand that television has made me into the kind of man I never wanted to be.

And then there where those blank mid-afternoon or late night hours where I stared mindlessly and sleeplessly into the glare of the television screen, watching artificial drone like people sell me products that I actually started to believe I needed. A few times my hand was close to the phone. I was seconds away from falling under their spell and ordering the crap they had to sell. I, me, supposedly insusceptible to popular cultures manipulative tricks was hypnotized by sales pitches and a consumerist late night high. The way these publicly worshiping materialists could sell their god in the form of purses, vacuum cleaners, paper shredders, solar lights, sweaters, jackets, blenders, skin creams, crock pots and other useless products with such immense joie de vivre put me into a kind of fascinated daze. I was sucked in. I learned more about these products than I could ever imagine. I also judged other human beings more than I could ever imagine judging another person at four in the morning. Really I was just judging myself for letting myself go so much that I was awake in bed at four in the morning watching QVC. Television was starting to make me hate myself and that must be why I have such deep disdain for all these television personalities. It is kind of like making a deal with the devil.

In exchange for watching television I gave up practices that I had once prided myself on. I stopped meditating in the mornings, reading in bed, listening to the radio, making art and contemplating things that I was grateful for experiencing throughout the day before falling to sleep. Granted before watching television in bed I did have trouble falling to sleep. I would often lay awake for up to an hour thinking about various unpleasant things before venturing into unknown territory. In this sense television has been medicinal for me. Good sleep medicine. But what about the negative side effects? Should I just put all of that out of my mind and continue to experience the few benefits of the medicine I am taking despite the fact that I am getting fatter, lazier, more apathetic, angrier, less fulfilled and engaged in my life? Quite a price to pay for being able to fall right to sleep the moment I finally decide to turn off the TV and stop bathing myself in its euphoric, white, fluorescent glow. Do I really want my life to come to this? Do I really want to be a television watcher?

And after all- what is television if not a massively effective vehicle to sell people shit while entertaining them to death? This is what television is- a massive tool for selling things. Even the nightly news sells us fear. We passively buy it and as a result do what our masters tell us. We allow ourselves to be governed by the television in exchange for getting to be distracted from ourselves for a few hours. Television in a Faustian bargain, you can be entertained and forget about yourself and all of your problems in exchange for yourself. Meanwhile all those actors, directors, producers, late night and early morning talk show hosts, advertisers and news anchors are making a fortune in exchange for your soul. Fuck that.

I admit- I am incredibly excited to never have to see any of these people ever again. Of course I live in LA, so I might see some of them on billboards or in adds but I will not have to voluntarily listen to them speak anymore. No more jokes, no more selling me things and no more dreadfully boring conversations, commercials and television shows. My relationship with all of these plastic people can be ended the moment I unplug my television set. I look so forward to not having my day punctuated by any of these false friendships with late night television hosts, plastic sales people, morning time talking heads, news casters who are really just puppets dressed in suits. Gradually I hope my soul will feel safe enough to come back into my body and we can get back to the creative, authentic and deeply satisfying work that we are on earth to do. I am looking forward to reading in bed again and waking up in the morning without being tempted by that flat screen. I realize it may be hard to get to sleep at night, but instead of bathing myself in the opiated-fluorescent-white-television-glow, I will take the money I will save on my cable bill and go out and buy an aromatherapy diffuser so I can breathe in the scents of calming essential oils before falling off to sleep for the night.

Goodbye television land. Maybe I will briefly revisit you in a hotel room somewhere but for now it is time to get up and go permanently unplug that fucking TV.

On Homelessness #1

It’s not going to be too long/In fact I do not really know why I still bother doing this/I think this blog has seen its end long ago/It has played out its purpose/But maybe it still has a few inches to go/Consider these little jottings to be the final breaths of a blog that has already remained alive way too long/Just like clothes, people, musical genres and jobs- I think I have out grown the machinations that this blog currently struggles to create/This blog meaning=me.

But today/On a break from work/I was sitting in the sun/I was enjoying the feeling of the afternoon sunlight heating up the bare areas of my arms/And then a homeless man walked past/He didn’t look at me/Probably because I wasn’t smoking/After the contrails of his unshowered scent had left my olfactory awareness, I began wondering/ Are there people who love life so much, who love the experience of being alive so deeply, that they need very little else, if anything, to feel wealthy?

……sorry, just had to go after a fly/I wanted to kill it but I could not bring myself to do it/Now I just need to learn to live with it.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah…

Are there people who are so in love with experience of physical and emotional sensations, that they need very little of anything else to feel fulfilled?///////////Maybe for these individuals all of the things that us “normal” individuals hold to be so important (things like status, money, occupation, money, possessions) are actually transgressions against the free time that they need to relish in the experience of being alive/After all how many of us work at jobs that keep us from experiencing the late morning and afternoon sun?

I don’t know but I want to believe that these individuals exist/That behind the homeless person lives a soul who is in touch with something much deeper, a person who knows something that all of us “normal” folk choose to forget and then maybe remember on the weekends/Who knows.

But man (and woman) can not live on air alone/This man, me, needs more than air/I can appreciate lazy afternoons spent in the sun but I also need good meals, decent looking clothes, a house of my own and enough money to buy the things I need and want (within reason).

Why am I doing this?

Why am I writing things down?

Why am I going to publish this when I feel like its no good?

Because I do not care/It is just writing here/I am just writing/Just turning what is in my mind inside out and sharing it with you because I said I would/I am ready for a slight buzz/Dinner/Maybe a film/Where is the gin?

Goodnight.

 

Starting Tomorrow…

Right now…in this moment…before i go on my morning walk…i want to make a vow…i realize that it is a vow that i may not keep…i also realize that it is a vow that no one else cares about…but fuck it…i want to make it anyways…i want to vow to write one blog post…just one…flaws and all…every single day for the next week…starting tomorrow, of course…

The Practice Of Looking Out A Window

img_0527 How much time during the course of your day do you feel is spent distracting yourself from yourself? I certainly am not bad at this. Through reading, over-thinking, eating, watching films, going places, listening to music and working I have found several enjoyable ways of distracting myself from myself. If left unchecked, I can actually be a master of self-distraction.

I have found that there is a very simple way to find out just how much you distract yourself from yourself. All you need to do is sit down and look out a window.

Notice the colors, the light, the shadows, the life going on outside and the the sounds. See if you can keep your attention on these things for longer than a minute or two. If you are someone who spends a lot of time distracting yourself from yourself, you might notice that after a minute or two just looking out a window will start to feel very hard. You might notice a strong impulse to do something else. To pick up your cell phone (or what I prefer to can a mini-computer), to find that book that you are reading and keep reading, to clean the room you are sitting in, to go do the dishes, to return phone calls and/or check your emails. You might also notice that you will be thinking about your parents, a friend, your kids, your failures, your regrets, your amobitions and all kinds of other things. As soon as you start to feel like you are coming back into yourself you will probably feel like doing something else. But see if you can just sit there and begin to find what T.S. Elliot called “the still point of the turning world.”

The writer Franz Kafka once wrote, “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen. Simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” In our frenetic and highly competitive era where everyone is busy pushing back their fears, worries, uncertainties, loneliness and self doubts- few of us have probably experienced the world rolling at our feet in ecstasy for more than a few minutes every month or so. Despite all we do, we seem unable to align our doing and our being with our deepest yearnings for peace and contentment.

After five minutes of just sitting and looking out a window the urge to get up and do something might feel over-powering. After all there is so much to get done! Children to attend to, future events to be worried about, floors to be cleaned, plants to be watered, deadlines to meet, money to be earned and spent. But see if you can just keep yourself where you are at. See if you can just stay with your life as it is in the moment- looking out a window and watching. You might notice a kind of calm coming over you and if you are lucky you will begin to realize that our lives work is here in this moment. It is in noticing and paying attention to the sounds that we hear, the things that we see, our inhalation and exhalation, our body sitting on a couch.

Sure there is work to be done in the world. But like the writer Philip Simmons wrote, “Our work denies our doom.” We often keep ourselves distracted from ourselves because this allows us to distract ourselves from the fundamental fact of life- everything is impermanent, including you and everyone you love. This fear is at the root of what keeps us running but the irony is that the more we allow ourselves to be connected with the impermanence of all things, the more we are able to open our hearts and feel a deeper sense of connection to the world around and within us. The more we try and push away the impermanence, the more disconnected and distracted we become. And at some point, either today or in fifty years, we all will get a first hand experience of just how impermanent everything is.

So put away your phone, close the book that you are reading, stop planning or immersing yourself in your emotional drama. Just sit down on your couch or chair and look out a window. Spend ten or fifteen or thirty minutes doing this. Do it every single day if you can. Don’t do anything. Just watch. Become present with your life as it is. Sit with it. Silently. Don’t think too much about any one thing. See what happens once you find your still point.

A Writer’s Daily Routines

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Wake up 7:30am
Ten minute walking meditation
Make coffee
Write for several hours
Go for walk (if time permits)
Get dressed
Go to work
Think about drinking gin
Come home from work
Drink gin (or not)
Eat dinner
Do dishes
Go on-line
Watch film or read
Fall asleep reading and listening to music

(Or)

Wake up 8:00am
Walk for one hour
Eat/coffee
Write
Get dressed
Meditate
Go to work
Meditate
Come home from work
Read or go on-line
Go to bed

(Or)

Wake up 8:30am
Ten minute meditation
Walk for hour
Coffee/food
Sit in garden
Read
Avoid writing
Clean house
Avoid writing some more
Get dressed
Go to work
Come home
Drink Gin
Eat dinner
Watch movie or read
Get in bed and watch late night with David Letterman

(Or)

Wake up 8:00am
Walk and listen to a podcast
Drink coffee/eat
Read
Water the garden
Clean house
Sit and stare out window
Get dressed
Go to bookstore
Go to work
Come home from work
Drink gin (or not)
Eat dinner
Do dishes
Listen to music
Watch television

(Or)

Wake up 7:30am
Meditate
Drink coffee
Read
Avoid writing (because I dislike writing so much on these days)
Go to work
Go out for dinner
Drink gin
Come home
Watch television or listen to records
Fall asleep watching David Letterman

(Or)

Wake up 9:00am
Drink coffee
Read
Hang out
Listen to music
Read various things on-line
Get dressed
Go to work
Come home from work
Drink gin
Surf around on-line again
Listen to music
Get in bed and read
Fun sex with wife
Fall asleep

(Or)

Wake up at 8:00am
Drink coffee
Write for several hours
Walk for an hour
Get dressed
Meditate
Go to work
Come home
Drink gin (or not)
Read
Go to bed
Hopefully sex with wife
Fall asleep watching David Letterman

(Or)

Wake up whenever
Drink coffee
Vaporize cannabis
Do whatever I want for the entire day and night (zero obligations)
Get in bed
Fall asleep, holding my wife, with television on (or off)

The Tramp (or Watching TV In Bed)

A middle aged, clean shaven, blonde haired man with weather lines indented on his face, came to my door this morning. Knock, knock. I was still supine in bed, watching television like I do on most Sunday mornings. Before I heard the knock I was thinking about all the evils of television. I was wondering if the people who were always trying to sell the viewer something felt shame in their private lives. I was also thinking how everyone on television, with slight variations, looks the same. Television truly is a Pavlovian box. Knock, knock. I looked at my wife and asked her who the hell that could be. Knocking on our door this early on Sunday morning? Really?

My wife and I argued for a moment about who was getting up and since I was the one with clothes on, that person was me. My body is tight and old in the mornings, so I walked to the front door without the same urgency I felt. I had trouble adjusting my eyes and my hips were sore from a week spent sitting at work. Thousands of thoughts pushed each other around in my head. I was angry that I was being put through this.

He was wearing a gray suit (with a tie) and had a backpack on. His suit looked as if it had been rolled through dirt before he put it on. There were what looked like cigarette marks on the sleeves. He had a hardback book under his arm. The opposite of perfection is eccentricity and this character standing on my front doorstep seemed to be the personification of what it looks like to be an eccentric. When he reached out to shake my hand, I was hesitant. His hands were dirty and I was afraid of catching something and getting sick.

I’m a tramp, he said.
Ok, I was perplexed.
Do you know what a tramp is?
Not really.
Do you know what a wayfarer is?
Not this early in the morning, I replied while holding on to my door incase he tried to push his way in.
Well, I’m a wanderer. My home is what you see and I walk, with little concern for where I end up. I started out in Norway and am now here. I will end up back in Norway at some point.
Ok, I thought and curiously nodded my head.
Anyways, I was walking around your neighborhood and was struck by your beautiful house.
Thank you, I said.
Yes, sure, it is beautiful, such a nice garden in the front. I also love the colors of your house. Looks like you spend a lot of time caring for your home.
Thank you, I replied. Where the hell was he going with all of this? When was he going to ask for money? Does he realize there is a no solicitation law here? Should I tell him you can’t just go up to people’s houses and knock on their doors?
Your neighborhoods are so much different than the ones we have in Norway. Here it is like a ghost town, like no one lives in these homes. That is why I noticed your home. Seems like there is still some life here. I notice that American suburbs are a very frozen kind of thing. At least that is what I feel like when looking at most of the homes. But I did not feel frozen when I looked at your house. It was unexpected.
I was not sure how to respond. I didn’t want to engage. I just wanted for my bed, my naked wife and my tv. And then I was caught off guard.
Do you feel free?
Excuse me?
Free, just curious if you feel free?
Why?
Well, you have a nice home and America is the land of the free (he chuckled), so do you feel free?
Do I feel free?
Yes!
Look man, I appreciate your compliments about my home but I’m tired and I don’t feel like really getting into this. I work a lot all week and Sunday is my morning to just chill out so if you don’t mind I need to end this conversation right now.
Oh, well I’m sorry young man, I did not mean to be a bother. I was just walking past and as I was looking at your home I wanted to ask you this question. In Norway we are raised to think that Americans are free but I don’t see freedom in the faces of your people. No one will even really talk to me about it. But that is a good enough answer I suppose. I apologize for bothering you young man. Back to bed you go!

And just like that, the self-described tramp walked away. I watched as his large backpack swung up and down on his back. It was almost as if he was skipping. He looked back over his shoulder at me and smiled. I shut and locked the front door and slowly made my way back into bed.

Someone trying to sell you something? My wife was looking at her iPhone as she asked me this.
Yeah, just someone trying to sell something. I didn’t want to get into it.
I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and pulled her naked body in close to me.

On television some balding white man, in a nicely pressed blue suit was talking to a panel of other white men and one black man all wearing wrinkle free suits with ties. They were talking about the latest military campaign in the Middle East and how important it is to do whatever is necessary to protect American’s freedom at home.