Man In A Bathtub

I have always enjoyed reading stories about men and women who spend a lot of time in the bathtub. Recently I read a short, absurd, twisted French novel (I can not remember the title or the author’s name at the moment and I can not go search for the small book in my stack of books since I am currently in a bathtub). In the novel the protagonist has committed himself for life to his bathtub. I became fascinated by what this would be like. How would it feel to spend day after day lying around in a bathtub? There would be no water- just a lot of pillows, blankets and books.

I decided to try it out. I am at perfect time in my life where I can actually spend a lot of time in a tub. I have mastered the machinations of my mind enough so that I am confident that my mind can not get the best of me. Most people who would be locked away in a bathroom for days on end might experience a degree of psychological duress that could cause them to tip over into insanity or violence. I, however, am able to keep my calm. Even though my thoughts might be telling me all kinds of things that could make my stay in the bathtub unpleasant, I know how not to believe everything I think.

Currently, I have been in this tub for three days. My goal is to spend at least four or five days in the tub. I have no real desire to leave the bathroom. As I write this now, with my laptop perched on the side of the tub, I feel as comfortable as I have felt in some of the worlds finest five-star hotels. I don’t have many needs (other than to be left alone and to get a lot of rest) and I rather like the solitude that I have found here in my tub.

I am fortunate though. I have a loving and supportive wife who brings me food and whatever else I request. Just this morning I asked her to get me a chocolate bar, the New York Times newspaper, a can of tuna fish, a loaf of bread, some gluten-free cookies, a kale juice and within a matter of an hour I had all these things with me in the tub. I realize that most would not have this good fortune. Most men in their mid-forties with a wife, a house and a plethora of other worldly responsibilities would not receive this kind of support if they decided to drop out of the world and spend their time in a bathtub. I know and I am thankful.

My wife thinks I need the rest. She has been concerned about the amount that I work and the toll my work sometimes takes on my health. When I was telling her about the French novel I was reading she is the one who came up with the idea.

“Why don’t you do that for bit?”

“Do what?”

“Why don’t you take some time of and just relax in our bathtub?”

I immediately thought this was a great idea. I mean why not? I have always been fascinated by people who retire to their tubs. Why should I not go ahead and do the same thing?

“You sure that would be ok?”

“Yes my love.”

“What about work and all the bills we need to pay?”

“My love, your health is much more important than our wealth. Besides you are fortunate that you made all that money years ago. You no longer need to strain yourself in the way you do. You are at a point in your life where you can spend some time in the tub.”

“You are genius. What a great idea.”

I began my stay in the tub that evening. I may decide to spend the entire week in the tub. My back is sore and my body does want to move but I am not worried about it. I am able to meditate, read my books and just contemplate various things in my mind. This tends to keep my mind off of the more uncomfortable sensations in my body. Just this morning my wife scrubbed the bathroom clean and now the lavender scent that was in the bathroom cleaner seems to have relaxed my mind and body. I am quite content here in my bathtub and could remain here for awhile.

In the French novel that I recently read, the protagonist confines himself to his tub because he no longer wants to be apart of the madness of human life. He feels that humans have become the most troubled animal on earth and he wants to disassociate from the human population so that he can find some peace. He never finds the peace that he was looking for because even in the solitude of his bathroom he is not able to get away from being human. Contained within his mind and body is all the madness that he was wanting to flee from. At the end of the novel the protagonist drowns in his bathtub.

I have no intention of drowning in my tub. As nice as it is to be removed from the outside world, it is not without its challenges. My mind and body do generate a lot of difficult thoughts and sensations but fortunately I am able to calm myself down and not get too caught up in all the madness. I am able to recline, relax and read even though my mind and body are sometimes wanting to get out of the tub and go for a walk. “There will be plenty of time to walk, just sit here,” I tell myself.

My wife is an excellent cook. This evening I have requested eggplant parmesan with a side of steamed spinach drenched in garlic and olive oil. I have also asked my wife to get me a nice bottle of red wine. I know that she wants my stay in the bathtub to be without difficulty so I suppose I have been taking some advantage of her kindness. This morning I requested a cup of green tea, three cheese omelet with reishi mushrooms and a side of vegan turkey sausages. She made me much more than I needed to eat.

What should I do with the rest of my day? It is almost late afternoon and I have a stack of books on the side of the tub that I still want to read. Maybe I will turn over and take a nap once I am finished writing this. Maybe I will do some stretching. Maybe I will use the toilet and then take a quick shower. Maybe I should spend some time reviewing some memories that I have been going over in my mind. So many choices. Life in a prison cell can not be all that bad. When a person spends all their time in a confined space the irony is that so much space opens up. The busyness of life no longer squeezes out the space all around. Maybe I will just sit here for awhile and enjoy the space.

Even though I am spending all my time in a bathtub filled with pillows and other things, I realize that what I am really bathing in is all this space. It is what I needed most.

Maybe this is why I am so drawn to stories about people who spend all their time in bathtubs.

 

The Brawl In The Bathroom

I had to go. There was no question about it. The situation was becoming urgent. I had just finished a cup of coffee at a hip cafe in the arts district of downtown Los Angeles. I drank my cup of fresh coffee with a slice of sourdough bread topped with sea salt, grass-fed butter, herbs and two bright white poached eggs. Birds chirped and overweight city officials dressed in not-so-flattering-uniforms issued parking citations to expensive cars parked too long on the side of the road. I watched attractive people walk past (there is no better city in the world than LA, other than possibly Rome or Barcelona, for observing attractive and well-dressed people walking around).

For a brief moment, my morning felt effortless. A day off from work. A day free of all obligations. A blue, sun filled sky. Then the pressure began. My stomach began to ache and it was then that I knew the matter was urgent. I asked the well dressed gentleman sitting beside me to please save my seat. He agreed. With my head down, I hurried my way into the back of the cafe where there was a bathroom. I told myself to breathe. I reassured myself that everything was going to work out. I would get there in time. Just breathe.

There was only a single stall inside the brightly lit, modern and minimal bathroom. Immediately I could smell the stall was occupied. A slight degree of panic and frustration set in but I told myself again to focus on my breathing. To feel my feet on the ground. I pulled on the locked stall door just to let the man inside know that someone was waiting. I then left the bathroom and waited in the hall. I reassured myself again that everything was going to work out.

I waited. And waited. And waited. Several stylish young people walked past and I got out of their way. I wondered if they knew that I was waiting to use a toilet. Why else would I be standing in the hall? I felt embarrassed and uncool. It is difficult to maintain a dignified facade of cool when you are waiting for a toilet. I paced back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. I knew that I had to remain calm. And then I walked back inside the bathroom.

The urgency that I felt was becoming emergency. I had to go. Now. I decided to make my presence known. I coughed. Turned on the faucet. Sighed loudly. Paced around. I turned the bathroom light on and off and then said, “Oh sorry.” It was difficult to endure the smell, which was the opposite of jasmine or lavender flowers. It smelled like filth and since I am sensitive to smells I had to get out of there. I went back into the hall hoping that the man on the toilet would realize that I needed to use the toilet. “I will give him two minutes,” I thought to myself as I resumed my pacing in the hallway. Two minutes.

Two minutes is two minutes too long when waiting to use a toilet. Two minutes turns into hours. Two minutes becomes an impossible goal. Especially after a strong cup of coffee. I was trying to be considerate of the man on the toilet but as hard as I tried to hold onto my patience- it was slipping from my grasp.

Before I confess to you what I did next, I must try and justify my behavior. You see, I knew that this man was intentionally taking longer than he needed to. He was messing with me because I was bothering him. I am still certain of this. Downtown Los Angeles is the manifestation of Satre’s famous philosophical dictum: Hell is other people. People in Los Angeles are as reviled as they are attracted to one another. It is mass confusion. Everyone is fascinated by the same people whom they can not stand. In Los Angeles other people are an inconvenience and an obsession. They are an obstacle to get around or ahead of. No one has any patience for anyone else even though everyone is always comparing themselves to everyone else. It is a confused relationship that people have with one another, which has  created an entire city filled with people suffering from passive aggressive personality disorder.

As I stood in the hall waiting to use the toilet I realized that I was just that unlucky person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

I am not a violent man but when I find myself the victim of someone else’s passive aggressive behavior I notice that my heart rate rises. My breathing becomes shallow. My hands tremble and my mind spins. I am overwhelmed with a desire to get rid of the passive by becoming aggressive.

And then it happened. The moment I heard the man singing on the toilet I was breaking the lock on the bathroom stall door with the force of my entire leg and foot. When I noticed that the stall door collapsed inward, I felt strangely detached from the situation- almost as if I was watching the scene play out on a large screen. I forgot all about the pressure, all about the emergency. I was the emergency now and the emergency was rushing straight at the terrified looking white man who was sitting on the toilet with his pants and underwear around his knees, a newspaper in his hands. His mouth dropped open and his eye were trying to say what his voice was unable to.

As I put both of my hands on to his neck I remember saying something like, “That is long enough you son of a bitch. I know what you are doing. This is a public restroom and you have taken way too long.” I then lifted him by his neck straight up into the air. He desperately tried kicking at me but the pants around his ankles denied him the freedom of movement. I felt his fists land on my sides and chest but it did not bother me. I then dropped him on his ass and dragged him out into the hall by his hair. He kept screaming out, “Hey what the fuck! What the fuck! Hey! Hey!” as I dragged him across the floor. I was unbuttoning my own pants as I left him on the floor of the hallway and yelled, “You have had enough time! Who do you think you are singing on the toilet!?!?!?”

I ran back into the bathroom. Did what I could to get the broken stall door to close so I could have some privacy. I then pulled my pants down and sat on the toilet. I did not care that I had forgotten to flush the toilet. I was absorbed in an intoxicating feeling of relief. It was the kind of relief that a person feels when walking out of an emergency room after a health scare or when a panic attack passes. My heart was racing and my entire body was pulsating. My forehead was dripping with sweat and I did not care about any of it. The toilet had set me free.

I was no longer aware of time passing. I knew that a few others were waiting for the toilet but I did not care. I felt like singing.

Again I heard the bathroom door open. I heard footsteps walking over towards the bathroom stall. Keys jangled. I heard what sounded like a voice coming through a radio device. Then I heard a knock on the broken bathroom stall door. I didn’t not respond. They would have to wait. There was a stronger more urgent knock followed by a man’s voice, “This is the Los Angeles Police Department. Please finish right now what you are doing and come out with your pants up.”

I heard what sounded like several people clapping in the hall.

 

Burying The Kombucha

You can’t tell from the photograph above (or below). It was taken on a melancholic, overcast spring day. This caused the picture to blur. The picture is of my empty kombucha bottle before its burial. It was a very sad moment in time. It makes me sad to even write about this here. Maybe I should just let it rest. Maybe this would be better for everyone. But I am writer and this is what writers do. We write about the things that everyone else would much rather ignore.

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This is the fourth empty kombucha bottle that I have buried in two days. I guess that I have been drinking a lot of kombucha the past few days. Whatever the case, it is still just as sad every time I bury an empty kombucha bottle. I really do love kombucha so much. I first discovered kombucha almost ten years ago when a local health food store that I went to starting carrying it in their cold drinks section. From the moment I took my first sip of kombucha I was in love. I felt my upset stomach begin to settle (I did not realize then how many gut health promoting enzymes and Lactobacillus a bottle of kombucha contains), my mind begin to lift (because of all the b-vitamins and amino acids) and I felt a slight buzz by the time I finished the bottle (because of the low levels of alcohol that the fermentation process creates).

The moment I finished my first bottle I want more. Over the course of the next year or two I was with kombucha every day. I had a kombucha with me wherever I went and drank two to three bottles a day. I loved the way the stuff made me feel. It was the health elixir I had been waiting for. Not only did it make me feel better but it was eradicating long term health issues.

Like most love affairs, the intensity of my kombucha consumption mellowed out over time. Because of the cost and the lengths that I would have to go to to get kombucha (especially once it was taken off the market because of the trace amounts of alcohol in it)- my desire towards it decreased.

Our relationship endured. Now because I can find kombucha wherever, I am back to drinking it each day. My relationship with kombucha is better than before. There are now a variety of kombucha brands that I can chose from. Kombucha has become so popular that I am able to try different brands. No longer do I have to stick with just one brand. And it is all ok.

Yet every time I finish a bottle of kombucha, I get sad. It is the ending of something that was once so good. Because of what kombucha does for me (its plethora of b vitamins, amino acids, high amount of lactobacillus bacterium: 1 billion organisms, S. Boulardii: 1 billion organisms and the nice relaxing buzz that I get from the fermentation), I want to do for it. What I do is provide the empty bottle with a proper burial.

Even though my wife is getting upset by all the digging in the backyard, I know that deep down she understands that this is a very small price to pay for everything that kombucha gives to her husband. She would rather me be planting various vegetable plants that we could turn into food- rather than empty glass bottles which turn into nothing.

I don’t think it is nothing though. I know that kombucha is not in the glass bottle anymore. But the bottle carried the kombucha for so long. By respecting the bottle, I am showing my respect for the essence of what was once inside.

the three ways of walking with your head

i realize that there are many ways to walk with your head.

those who do not like to be limited in life by only three ways will certainly protest or criticize what i am about to say. so i am saying up front and at the start or in the beginning or before i say anything else- yes, i realize that there are more than three ways to carry your head when walking.

for purposes of this particular discourse i would like to keep things simple, not go too deeply into a kind of exegesis. i only want to write of those things which i know something about. those things i have learned about through living, reading and observing.

obviously those most familiar with introversion, depression, a general disdain for other human beings and the desire to be left alone know about the first way of walking with your head. this way is often referred to as shoegazing in the popular vernacular.

as you may know, shoegazing is an anti-social way of walking with your eyes and head pointed towards the ground.

walking with your head pointed towards the ground is a non-verbal way of communicating to other people that you do not want to be bothered by having to acknowledge them. it is also a non-verbal way of saying that the things you see on the ground are much more interesting than the people in front of you. this is why the world often looks upon shoegazers in the negative.

walking with your head turned towards the ground is not just the preferred way of walking for those who are anti-social or do not want to be bothered but it is also a way that philosophers and poets have chosen to walk for years. even Aristotle is known for his writings on the virtues of not running in public and the intellectual benefits of walking through town with your eyes and head focused on the ground.

obviously, those who choose this style of walking are generally the kind of person who is lost within themselves, stuck within the constant churning of their frontal cerebral hemispheres. they are so consumed by self-centered thinking that they can not and do not want to be bothered to lift their head, make eye contact with a passing stranger and say “hello.” those who walk around with their head focused towards the ground might as well be walking around with a sign around their neck that says: “I do not like you. Do not bother me. Leave me the hell alone.”

the second way of walking with your head is a mode that is preferred by extroverts and those who are more concerned with social status. a concern with social status means that a person cares about how the outside world (neighbors, government, family, friends, strangers) perceives them.

this way of walking with your head can also be popular amongst those who generally want to feel connected to members of their human species either through friendliness or lust.

keeping the head, eyes and nose focused on what is straight ahead or in front of a person does imply a certain quality of confidence and openness. a person who walks down the street with their head pointed straight ahead is saying to the world: “I am confident enough to handle whatever comes my way.” generally they are not afraid to confront whatever ends up right in front of them, whereas the shoegazer prefers to avoid or ignore the outside world (the shoe gazer prefers the inner life of the mind).

the degree of confidence that is implied by someone who walks with their head focused straight ahead also often implies that the person is successful in their lives. that life has not beaten their head down towards the ground (yet).

this is why the world is more inclined to put their trust and faith in those who walk with their head, eyes and nose upright and focused on what is directly in front of them.

just look at videos of a people like Donald Trump or Al Sharpton (both of whom i find deeply contestable and repulsive). you will never see them walking around with their heads pointed towards the ground (unless it is raining or snowing). they are always walking with their head pointed towards what is right in front of them. they mine as well be wearing a sign around their neck that says: “I am great. I fear nothing. Envy me. Trust me. You are a fool.”

this is ironic because even though this way of walking with your head does imply confidence, often times these tend to be some of the most non-confident people. this is why they force themselves to walk with their head up and looking straight ahead.

they are literally wearing a mask.

for those who walk with their head up because they are wanting to make contact with other humans for either friendly or lustful purposes, walking with your head this way is a wise approach. when the head and eyes are pointed straight ahead it is easier to make intimate contact with other human beings. this is a fact.

this form of walking with your head can also be used to objectify another person if you are attracted to them. it is easier to send a message to another person with your eyes than with your words that you would love to get them naked and perform all kinds of erotic sexual acts with them.

rarely does this strategy work for those who are not already attractive but it is the most effective head posture for those who are horny and on the prowl for sex.

for many extroverted or open hearted people, keeping the head focused on what is straight in front of them is a very satisfying way of connecting with the outside world. however, the same way of carrying your head, with your eyes opened and focused straight ahead, can be used to communicate disdain towards other as well (this does not happen to often though).

before ending, i would like to introduce one final way of walking with your head. this is a way that is not seen often but can be glimpsed more regularly in bohemian or hippy parts of town.

often this way of walking with the head is chosen by mystics, spiritualists, religious people and those who are mentally insane.

sometimes it is very hard to tell the difference.

this way of walking with your eyes, nose and head pointed straight up to the sky implies that you are much more interested in things above than in things below or straight ahead. those who walk with their heads this way have very little interest in things of this world. instead they are more interested in the psychedelic objects that hang around in the sky.

some are also interested in apparitions or aliens, which they believe are always lurking around just above our heads. some of these individuals have a deeper connection with these apparitions and aliens than they do with any living human being.

this is why some of these people who walk with their heads this way can often be seen praying in public or talking with someone “out there.” because of this it is difficult to know if the person who is walking with their head pointed towards the sky is mentally insane, enlightened or on a cell phone.

it is not that those who walk with their head pointed towards the sky are not interested the human wolrd. many of these individuals have a vast love for everything that exists in this world- people, plants and everything else. but these people are often filled with so much love that as a result (and often against their will) their heads get lifted towards the sky.

a lot of Egyptian art portrays certain highly revered individuals with their heads pointed towards the sky. more medieval art portrays those with their heads pointed towards the sky as either being mentally insane or persecuted and as a result screaming out to God for help.

it was not until the time of Victorian painting that those who ruminate with their heads pointed towards the sky were portrayed in a dignified and revered way.

in our current time, those who walk with their heads pointed towards the sky seem to be objects of confusion and concern for all the rest of us who are more attached to day-to-day human preoccupations.

i realize that this is a very brief discourse on the three ways of walking with your head. there is no doubt that a much longer book can be written about this subject, however i just do not have the time to be writing a book.

as a result of the demands of a carrier, a wife, a house, two dogs, other animals and an aging physical body that needs to be exercised i only have very limited time for writing. in my youth i was hoping that things would not turn out this way. i was hoping that when i was older i would be able to fill my days with writing. painting. hanging out. not working.

as aging has taught me- things very rarely turn out the way that we think they will. i am not entirely sure that i have fully accepted this yet. possibly i am still disappointed and angry that i do not have more time to write.

maybe this is why when i go for walks, my head and eyes are always pointed straight down towards the ground.

The Case Of My Missing Jeans

thI can’t seem to understand it. No matter how hard I try, I am unable to make sense of it. I’ve looked everywhere. I have pulled every piece of clothing out of my closet. I have pulled all of the pounds and pounds of tangled clothing from my wife’s closet. I have looked in the various storage closets in my house. I have pulled out the washer and dryer so I could see if anything was behind them. I have even gone so far as to clean out my cluttered and cobweb infested garage, just in case I somehow managed to leave my jeans in there.

Before I fall asleep at night, I lay wide awake feeling the weight of the backside of my head on the pillow. I can not seem to stop thinking about this. The thoughts loop around and around in my mind. Where could the jeans have gone? When did I last wear them? Is it possible that I could have left them someplace else even though I rarely ever take off my pants when I am not at home? Is it possible that jeans or any kind of pant for that matter can just get up and walk away, all on their own? There are an infinity of possibilities that the limited human brain is incapable comprehending, maybe it is possible for jeans to just get up and walk away? Did I mistreat my jeans? Did I do anything that would make my jeans want to leave me? This goes on for what feels like hours before I am able to stop thinking and get some sleep.

One of the reasons why the disappearance of my jeans is so upsetting to me is that they were my favorite. I spent over $150.00 dollars on them because from the beginning I knew they were exceptional quality. The material of the jeans was so soft, stretchy and the cut was slim. They made me feel like I still had some sex appeal when I wore them. Jeans have a way of making the person feel more true to themselves and when I wore these jeans I felt deserving. Maybe this is the reason why I wore these jeans several times I week. It was one of the few things that I owned that I felt like I deserved. It was as if our paths were meant to run right into one another. So why would these jeans just go away?

Maybe it is a very real possibility that they did not go away at all. Instead, maybe someone else took them. Maybe my jeans were stolen. Anything is possible in this day and age that I am living in. People break into other people’s homes all the time. No one feels like they need to deserve anything anymore. It is a free-for- all and whatever a person can get there hands on, whether they deserve it or not, becomes their property. Maybe jean theft is on the rise? I have not read about or heard any reports of jean theft but maybe these crimes go unreported, just as I have not reported the disappearance of my jeans to the police. It is an embarrassing situation to report the disappearance of your favorite pair of jeans, so maybe everyone just remains silent. But it still does not discount the very real possibility that there could be a thief on the loose who stole my jeans.

But maybe I am being paranoid. Maybe this paranoia is a result of my previous over usage of marijuana. A vestige of that drugged out time in my life that still remains in the here and now. Just as it is possible that my wife is not having an affair or that my friends do not talk poorly about me when I am not around, it is equally as possible that my jeans were not stolen. There is the very real possibility that my jeans just got and left me. Maybe they felt like they were worn too much. Maybe they got tired of being stretched around. Maybe they did not like the laundry detergent that I washed them in. Maybe the drier was just too hot. Who knows. I am tired with keeping myself up so late, night after night thinking about why.

The reason why I think it is a real possibility that my jeans ran away from me is because I often see them on various men around town. This has happened a handful of times at the record store and café that I go to. I will be listening to a record or reading a book and then look up and notice that there is a man wearing a pair of jeans that look exactly like mine. I know that it is possible that these men could have bought a similar pair of jeans as mine but in these few instances the jeans that I have noticed on other men, look exactly like mine. They have a stitch coming undone in the same location. The butt of the pants is discolored and worn just as mine were. There is the same semen stain near the bottom part of the crotch. There is even an identical, small tear in the corner of the left hand back pocket.

As much as I wanted to confront these men to see if they were in fact wearing my jeans, I never did. I suppose I avoid conflict or I am too shy to approach complete strangers and accuse them of wearing my jeans. How would that conversation start anyways? “Excuse me, where did you get your jeans? Could I have a close look at them?” No, I do not think that would go over well. So it is a possibility that one of these men is the thief that I was thinking could have stole my jeans. I am aware that this is a very real possibility. Or maybe my jeans ran away on their own volition and found their way into one of these men’s closets. Why my jeans would prefer one of these men over me is a mystery to me, especially since none of these men seem to have even a slightly decent fashion sense. Maybe one of their closets was just a more enjoyable place for my jeans to hang out. I really don’t know.

I am starting to accept that my favorite pair of jeans are gone. It is difficult to accept loss, especially when it is something or somebody that you really felt like you deserved and earned through unpleasant toil. I have a hard time accepting that I will never again feel the feeling that I felt when I had my jeans on. I suppose I am not fully ready to let go yet. Maybe I am not starting to accept the loss of my jeans. Every night I am still waking up in the middle of the night, getting out of bed, grabbing a flash light and looking through all the various closets in my home. I have a feeling that I am not going to be able to sleep the night all the way through until I solve the case of my missing jeans.

The Thing About Being Brad Pitt

(Even his name is in my spell check)

The thing about being Brad Pitt is that everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to know him. The moment he flashes across a television or movie screen our collective consciousness says “Hey look it is Brad Pitt!” I presume that this happens more than with any other living person (yes, even more than with Barack Obama). Brad Pitt is the person to meet. He is the one person who no matter where he goes is always greeted by a mass of anticipating and adoring hands waiting to touch his. American royalty? Maybe. The most popular guy in school? Without a doubt.

The thing about being Brad Pitt is that this must not be easy. It’s like dogs who love you because you feed them. They always want to be around you because of the possibility of food. It doesn’t matter who you truly are, how you behave, what you say or how you look. Dogs will excuse all of this because they know you got the food. For human beings Brad Pitt is the food. It has nothing to do with who he is at a deeper level. All that matters is that is Brad Pitt. Everyone wants to meet that guy they have seen in all those movies, tabloids, interviews and news clips. That guy. Not the moody guy with a stomach ache who occasionally yells at his kids and harbors a deep need to be left the hell alone.

One problem that Brad Pitt has that almost none of us ordinary folk do is that everyone wants to meet him. Everyone wants to draw him in. Everyone lights up in his presence. Everyone puts their best self forward when meeting him. Everyone is trying to manipulate him into liking them. Everyone is hoping that maybe, just maybe, Brad Pitt will become their personal friend. That he will remember them. This kind of worship must get as tiring as dealing with my dogs who are always standing at the door with a sad face on, waiting, hoping for food.

Most of us experience the opposite. The only people who pursue us with that kind of interest are creditors and enmeshed parents. When we walk down the street we are often an impediment or an object of attraction to someone who is going the other way. When we are noticed by an acquaintance or a colleague they will often stealthily cross the street to avoid crossing our path. Out there we are just another body, a person to be controlled, glanced at, judged and often avoided. Brad Pitt experiences the opposite phenomena. The moment he appears, gravitational pull takes over and bodies and minds are propelled by a force that is often out of their personal control. People come alive, for sometimes the first time in months or years when in his presence.

I’m writing about this while drinking my morning cup of coffee. I am sitting in front of the fire and my house is silent. I have a long day at work in front of me. Several people have already canceled their appointments with me (I imagine people never cancel a meeting with Brad Pitt). The reason this subject is on my mind is because last night I made the mistake of leaving the television on in the background. I heard a news story about Brad Pitt appearing at some film opening and I also heard the excitement level of all the voices on the television elevate by a hundred percent. Even the newscaster’s voice became absent of the usual drone tone. Much to my surprise I got up from what I was doing and went to see if I could get a glimpse of Brad Pitt. I wanted to see what he looked like now and also see the phenomena that occurs when he is in other people’s presence. I suppose there is a part of me that feels like I know the guy since I grew up watching him grow up. I can see the trajectory of my aging process through his films and interviews. As I watched all of the Hollywood elites smiling, standing with an erect posture (no one was slouching) and waiting to hug Brad Pitt or shake his hand- I stood at the television, just like I everyone else I imagine, for a brief moment, experiencing that one thing about being Brad Pitt.

How To Feel Awkward At Work Without Feeling Bad About Yourself

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An ability to tolerate feeling awkward for long stretches of time, is a main skill that is required of so many contemporary jobs. It is such a necessary part of most jobs that there really shopuld be more training in how to deal with these often dehumanizing feelings. Whether you work for In And Out Burger, IKEA, Starbucks, Banana Republic, The Gap, The Apple Store or you work as a stripper or a professional- so many contemporary jobs involve long stretches of time where you are just standing there or sitting there feeling like an idiot. This feeling could be equal to embarrassment or a feeling of being in a position for which you don’t want to be in but have to be in for the money. Other people identify you as a person who cares about particular things that deep down you really could care less about. This is what often creates feelings of awkwardness.

Everyone has got to earn a living. Never has it seemed more difficult and expensive for individuals to make ends meet than it currently is. Whether it means spending five days a week wearing some ridiculous employee identification badge as a necklace over your shirt or dressing up in a ridiculous and dehumanizing uniform (such as the ones In And Out Burger employees are forced to wear), nowadays people are practically forced into taking certain jobs just so they can earn a buck. But please keep in mind- it is better to be made feel awkward by a job you could care less about but gives you a few bucks in your pocket than to feel awkward because you are broke.

When you are not uplifted by your employment, when who you are deep within is not in alignment with the work you do for money in the world, chances are you will often feel awkward while at work (maybe even after work also). We all know what it feels like to feel awkward. It is that feeling that generates thoughts like: What the fuck am I doing here?, This is embarrassing, I do not want to be seen in the way that people are seeing me, I don’t like this, this feels weird, What should I do now?, I can’t wait until work is done. There are so many different kinds of thoughts that feeling awkward creates. It would take me hours to write them all down. It is just important to understand that feelings of awkwardness are a fundamental part of most jobs. You are not a failure or a loser for feeling this way. Your life is not a mess. You are just living in the modern world.

Yesterday I went to IKEA to purchase a modern looking bookshelf. I saw several IKEA employees, dressed in their IKEA uniforms, standing around with forced smiles on their faces, trying to acknowledge the imperturbable costumers that walked past them. There was one young, female employee who caught my eye. Her red ponytail stuck out of the back-end of her hat as she smiled awkwardly at the costumers who walked past. She said “Hello, welcome to IKEA,” to everyone. By looking at her you could tell that she was really uncomfortable but also really needed the money. I am not sure if she felt uncomfortable because of just having to stand there and be ignored and feel like a jerk for money or if she felt uncomfortable because of just having to stand there and be ignored and feel like a jerk for money. Maybe it was a combination of both.

I felt for this young lady and my shopping experienced was somewhat darkened by old memories coming back to me about when I worked in similar awkward positions. It is no fun for anyone.

After IKEA, I stopped at In And Out Burger for some fries and had my order taken by some poor bastard who was paid to stand around in the parking lot dressed up as some kind of exiled cook in a shiny white kitchen uniform. As he took my order his cook’s hat fell off his head and in an act of pity and guilt I quickly opened my car door and picked it up for him. I could see the feelings that awkwardness produces in his eyes as he looked at me and said thank you. As if I had not had enough, I then went to Starbucks for a cup of afternoon coffee (which, I did despite the fact that their coffee tastes like chemicals) and the young man behind the register seemed to feel so awkward taking my order that I felt incredibly awkward just telling him I wanted a medium coffee. I tipped him two bucks, which I hoped would help smooth things out.

Feeling like you don’t belong, feeling like you have to do something that you do not want to do, feeling like you have somehow failed because of the things that you do for money are all a normal part of being a working individual in today’s economic climate. I know it sucks but it is just the way it is. It is as apart of the contemporary working world as apple pie is apart of the American mythology. The amount of employees and business owners who are working for the money so that they can afford some kind of cultural legitimacy and dignity far exceeds those who are working and earning money in a position which is a reflection of who they really are and exactly who they want to be seen as. The vast majority of working individuals no longer strive for this freedom or authenticity in through their work, now they just fill up on it when they watch TV and go to the movies.

At some point you have to ask yourself: Why feel bad about feeling something that is a normal part of the world within which you live? It is like feeling bad about the air quality where you live or feeling bad about the laws that you have to abide by. What is the point? These things are as much apart of the climate you live in as blood is apart of your body. Feeling awkward in your job position is a big part of what it means to have a job in today’s world! Granted someone who is standing around in an In And Out Burger uniform will feel these feelings to a greater degree than someone one who is working as a psychotherapist, a realtor or a tax accountant but I assure you that all of these jobs come along with a fair amount of awkwardness. Those lucky people who have found a form of paid employment, which is without any feelings of accompanying awkwardness, are lucky only because they have successfully escaped from the slavery-like-qualities that are an acceptable, normal and consensual part of today’s wage earning world.