The Swinger

I don’t understand why everyone looks so down on it. Do they not realize the fun they are missing out on? The pleasures of swinging are endless. Endless. The various ways that the body can move. The lack of any insecurities. The feeling of complete, uninhibited freedom. Endless pleasures.

Activities that cause a person to feel fully free have always been a threat to those forces which seek endless control over the individual. Not only does swinging set a person free from the repressive limitations created by our collective society, but it also gives a person an opportunity to know themselves at a deeper level. Once a person starts to swing, they stop following the rules. Maybe this is why so many are threatened by swinging- it threatens the various limitations that so many people have built their entire lives within.

I began swinging around the age of twenty-one. A girlfriend introduced me to it. I still remember the experience as clearly as I would remember something that took place this morning. We were on a walk through a quiet, suburban neighborhood. Tree lined streets. Meticulous front yards. Golf carts. We were both quiet, enjoying the serenity of an afternoon walk. Suddenly she yelled out, “Lets swing!” “What?” I look at her, shocked by her sudden surge of excitement. “What?” I asked again in a confused state. “Lets swing! Look at that swing over there.” I looked in the direction her finger was pointing in and noticed a two person, white swing hanging from an oak tree. “On that?” I asked. “Yes. It will be fun,” she said already walking towards the swing. “But it’s on someones private property. We will get ……” It was too late. She had already started swinging and I didn’t want to leave her swinging all by herself..

That day we were lucky that the homeowners were either not home or did not notice us (or maybe they did not care that we were swinging in their front yard). All I know is that it was such a pleasure to swing with my girl. We had a blast together swinging all over the place. Laughing out loud. Holding each other tightly. I felt like a child again, as I used my leg muscles in an attempt to touch the sky with my feet. Her hair blowing in my face. The force of gravity pushing against my genitals. I felt free, released from all my worries and petty concerns about the future. From that day forward I became a devoted swinger.

I don’t know how it is in other parts of the world but in America, swinging is not easy. In fact, it is very dangerous. Homeowners become quickly enraged when they see a stranger swinging on their property. Some of these homeowners will not hesitate to pull a gun on a harmless swinger. What is it about swinging that pisses homeowners off so much? They have hung a swing in their front yards. Are they expecting me not to swing on an idle and empty swing just sitting there? It’s like having a nice automobile idle on the street with the engine running and the front door wide open. Would you really expect no one to just get in and drive away?

Few things bring me a greater sense of thrill and excitement than searching for a new swing. You never want to swing on the same person’s swing twice (unless they are nice about it), so a few times a week I will go for long walks or ride my bike around suburban neighborhoods searching for a new place to swing. I get such a bodily thrill (and an erection) when I discover a swing that I have never seen before! What a feeling! It is usually hanging from a lone tree in a middle-class, well kept, front yard. Sometimes the swing will be close to the street or it will be further away. Whatever the case may be, the moment I see the swing I run over and start swinging. At that point I have little concern for my safety.

Most of the time I will have no problems swinging. I can swing and swing and swing and no one will say anything. There will be no guns or violent confrontations. No police officers and no handcuffs. No public humiliations. These are my greatest moments. There I am, a 44-year-old man swinging my worries away without any disruptions or bureaucratic interventions. My youth returned to me in full. What bliss! Are there greater pleasures? If only everyone knew how much joy they could receive from swinging. If only everyone understood that you are never too old to swing. What a different fish bowl we would all be swimming around in.

One last thing that I should mention to anyone who is considering becoming a swinger. Despite the potential to get killed or seriously wounded by an enraged homeowner, there is one other serious risk involved in swinging. A person who is a professional (whose economic earnings depend on their reputation) has to be very careful about how they are perceived by society (this is why most professionals lead double lives). I myself am a professional and realize that swinging posses a threat to my good name. Just the other day, on my way home from work, I found a really nice swing on a suburban tree-lined street not far from my home. Naturally, I started swinging and was surprised by what a well constructed swing it was. I was able to get a lot of air and within minutes was having a blast. My worries dissipated. I was laughing out loud with joy when I suddenly heard, “Mr Sokoloff? Is that you?” I instantly stopped swinging, turned my head around and noticed that one of my clients and her husband were standing just beyond their front door with their mouths agape. They looked horrified. Mortified. I didn’t know what to do so I just waved and walked away. I probably will not see that client again. I just hope she does not write about what she witnessed on Yelp.

If my clients found out that I was a swinger, who knows what would happen to my business This is one of the serious disadvantages of being an adult professional who loves to swing. Such is life. I refuse to give up swinging. Some things are that worth living for.

Catching A Golfer (Part One)

There is a golfer ruining my lawn. I find it incredibly upsetting. My lawn is (or I should say, once was) one of my favorite things about my life. It was green, flat and beautiful. The perfect suburban lawn. A serene space where I could withdraw from the madness of the outside world. I spent hours laying around on my lawn in quiet contemplation. I figured out many of life’s big questions while sitting on the calming grass. Everyone who came to my home envied my lawn. “Oh what a nice lawn you have!” “Such a nice spot!,” they would tell me. I was proud, I felt accomplished because such a beautiful space belonged to me.

Things have changed.

Now my lawn is on the verge of complete destruction. It’s an embarrassing mess. There are holes, rocks and mounds of dirt everywhere. My lawn looks like a person’s face during a brutal acne outbreak. I want to cry every time I see my lawn. The golfer is ruining everything.

I have been doing everything I can to catch the golfer. I don’t want to kill him, although I realize that it might have to come to that. I have had enough. Just when I think he is gone, he is there. Every time I come out to my lawn there is a new hole, along with piles of dirt and rocks. I feel violated. Something that was such a source of pride and pleasure is now gradually going away, away, away. Some might say, “Such is life.” But this is happening way too soon. I’m not yet willing to concede that all things in life must happen the way they do. Why should I have to accept the golfer who is destroying my lawn? Sometimes you should be able to have what you want. I want the golfer gone and my lawn back.

Every few days, I see the golfer standing there with his golf club, hunched over and putting a white golf ball into one of the holes he has dug. “Bastard,” I think. I notice that when he gets the ball into the hole he will punch one of his arms up into the sky and yell, “YES!” The moment I yell back, “HEY YOU!,” he jumps right back into the hole he came from. I try to catch him but he is just too quick.

I have done almost everything I can imagine to get rid of him. I have spent hundreds of dollars on ineffective deterrents. The repellents and poisons are all for gofers not golfers! The stuff that seems like it could work on gofers has no effect on golfers. It is very difficult to find a substance that helps eradicate golfers from a lawn. I have tried to make my lawn a very inhospitable place to play golf. I put my garden hose into his holes and run water for hours. I read on-line that golfers hate wet surfaces and mud, so I have tried to turn the golfer’s tunnels into a muddy mess. I have been running my sprinklers for an hour a day to keep my lawn wet. So far, no luck. The golfer just shows right back up again.

I have filled his holes with my dog’s poop and coffee grounds. I read on-line that golfers cannot stand the smell of dog poop combined with coffee grounds. This may have helped in some small way but the golfer just digs new holes. I can’t put my dog’s poop all over my lawn! I’ve also seen the golfer dressed in his white golf pants and his tucked in pink button down Polo shirt, bending over and removing the poop from the lawn. The son of a bitch!

I never liked golfers to begin with. I grew up around golfers and golf courses. My father was a wannabe golfer and I had to play golf every Sunday with him. I had to work a miserable job at the country club I lived just down the street from, where I picked up after golfers and served them nuts and whiskeys. I had to clean the spikes on their golf shoes. I despised those men and their endless card games. All the money that they would waste betting on ridiculous golf scores while I slaved away for a humiliating wage. I hated the way that they would huddle together and look down upon anyone who was not in their golf group. “Hey kid,” they would yell at me and even though I was only fifteen I would say, “fuck you” under my breath. By moving into a lower economic, less pretentious area in the Los Angeles suburbs I thought I had freed myself forever from the game of golf. But now I have this ridiculous, pink Polo shirt wearing golfer digging holes and playing golf in my backyard! I just don’t understand.

Why is this happening to me? Just when I got my lawn looking so nice, a fucking golfer has to appear.

I will continue to put dog poop mixed with coffee grounds into his holes. I will keep the water running. I am not going to end this war easily. I want the golfer gone and my beautiful lawn back. I want to have nothing to do with this futile game of golf. I will stop at nothing to put an end to his game. I have hooked up two radios on my lawn, where I play loud grunge and punk rock music 24 hours a day. I have chained these radios into the ground and locked them in a metal box so that the golfer cannot get rid of them or turn the volume down. I presume he is like most golfer’s who have no taste in music and as a result listen to easy rock musicians like Kenny Logins, Air Supply, Chicago, Doobie Brothers and Earth, Wind and Fire. The grunge and punk music must frustrate him. I’m hoping he hates it. I am hoping that he can’t take it and will decide to leave my lawn alone. I just hope my neighbors do not complain.

So far, this does not seem to be working. It almost seems as if he enjoys the music! I see him moving his head and body to the beat as he plays his game of golf on my lawn. How could a man dressed in a tucked in pink Polo shirt actually be enjoying this kind of music? I just don’t understand.

Just this morning I woke up and saw the pink-Polo-shirted jerk out there practicing his swing. I was not yet fully awake but I immediately became enraged. As he stood out there practicing his swing I felt like he was mocking me! “You son of a bitch!” I yelled out. I startled my wife out of her sleep as I slammed the door behind me on my way out into the backyard. “What the fuck do you think you are doing?!!!” I yelled out not caring if my neighbors heard me. Immediatly he jumped back into his hole and disappeared. I ran out onto the wet lawn and kicked his pile of dirt. I jumped up and down on top of his hole while shouting “You son of a bitch!” Of course I ended up jumping up and down on dog shit.

What am I going to do?

I read on-line about The Golfer Catch Cage. It’s expensive but they are supposed to work really well. Just place the cage by one of the holes, open the cage door, place salted peanuts, cigars, some wine or whiskey in the back of the cage and you will catch yourself a golfer. This is what the advertisement for the cage says. From the several reviews I have read this seems to work well. People who live on golf courses write about how they have finally caught a golfer who has annoyed and disturbed their quality of life for years. No one has written anything about having a golfer in his or her backyard that is destroying his or her lawn, but the product information says that The Golfer Catch Cage can work well for catching golfers who are digging up lawns. The only problem is that no one mentions what he or she does with the golfer after catching it. There are no instructions on-line about how to dispose of a golfer. Some say, tie him up and drop him off at a distant golf course. I don’t know. One review did mention that, we still have the caged golfer locked up in the basement. We do not know if he is dead or alive. We are just happy he is gone.

The cage seems like a radical step that I am not quite ready to take. I don’t want to deal with the guilt I would feel for caging or killing a golfer. I really don’t know what I am going to do but I know that I cannot continue to live like this. It is too painful to watch my beautiful lawn be destroyed all for a game of golf! My blood pressure is going way up and now I am always anticipating seeing the golfer every time I look out into my backyard. It’s just too much for a quiet, almost middle-aged, hard-working man like myself. I want to be able to relax when I am home. I need my home to be a stress free space. Something must be done to eradicate this destructive golfer from my lawn. I just don’t know what.

 

The Phoner

I can’t stop thinking about my iPhone. I’m thinking about it all the time now. I crave it when it is not there. I feel sad when it is not around. “Who might be trying to get in touch with me?” I think. “Do I have any new text messages or emails?” I wonder. It is a constant thing- morning, noon and night. Few things feel better that picking up my iPhone after a few minutes away.

 

When I am having conversations with other people I can’t wait for them to shut up so that I can check my phone. The conversations with real people bore me. It is the conversations or interactions that happen on my iPhone that feel the most important to me. I can be more myself, do what I want. I do not have to pretend to be interested if I am not. Short and to the point. The less talking the better. This is how I like to keep my interactions when on my phone. Real people just talk too much.

 

I would rather be on my phone than doing any thing else. I long for it. When I am working, driving, exercising- I can‘t wait for an opportunity to check my phone. Red lights, breaks from work, breaks in conversations, the end of a work out (which I always end too soon) are all great reliefs for me because it is then that I get to check my iPhone. I don’t really enjoy hanging out with other people anymore only because they get in the way of time with my iPhone. When I do check my iPhone while around other people, I always end up feeling like I am doing something bad. I feel judged and guilty. I prefer just to be left alone with my iPhone. Then I don’t have to deal with that.

 

They say that texting while driving is dangerous. Maybe so. They also say that drinking and driving is dangerous but almost everyone does it. I’m not going to stop driving and texting. There is just no way that I could do that. I would have too much anxiety. I need to check my phone regularly. I have important things to attend to. My iPhone demands constant attention. I can’t let driving get in the way of that. I have developed the skills needed to text and drive. I know what I am doing while texting and driving and the fact that I have not yet been in an accident is proof of that.

 

The on-line world has become just as important if not more important than the so-called “real world.” Most of my relationship and business interactions occur on-line. I shop on-line. My reading material is on-line. My music is on-line. I watch films on-line. I go to school on-line. I am even dating someone on-line. Why would I not want to be on-line? It is the direction the world is heading in and if you are not on-line most of the time you are already far behind.

 

Some people tell me that my interest in “real world” things has fallen behind. So what? I no longer make art or read books. I no longer use handwriting (something I was once very good at). I was once an avid collector of clocks and watches but now clocks and watches are unnecessary because the time is right there on my phone. My father tells me that I was once so creative and that since I have been using my iPhone it has all gone away. I don’t know about that. I think my creativity has changed with the times. I am just creative in other ways now. How that is I do not know. Maybe it is true that most of my life is spent staring into a screen, preoccupying myself with an unnecessary world. Who knows? But I can’t get enough. I need my iPhone in the same way that a junky needs her junk. The other day I thought that I lost my iPhone. I freaked out and was hyperventilating. I became possessed in a crazed search to find my phone. Fortunately, I did find it before things got really bad.

 

I love my iPhone. I love it so much. It has become my closest friend. More important than anything else. I used to love sex but now sex is just a distraction from my iPhone. The last thing that I see before falling asleep at night is my phone and the first thing that I see when I wake up in the morning is my phone. I used to fall asleep in my lovers arms but now I fall to sleep with my phone in my hands. There is so much to find out about, so many people trying to communicate with me. There are so many things going on on-line. Why would I stay away from my iPhone? I once was miserably lonely. I felt like I had no purpose in my life. I was always stressed out. Now I have my iPhone and I no longer feel any of that. I now have things to do. No time is wasted. I am always engaging in something on-line or through texting. The answer to the emptiness that I used to feel inside has been my iPhone. Why would I want to get rid of that?

 

I can even write this while on my iPhone. Someone is trying to talk to me but I am writing this! I wish they would go away. My house is a mess. I should go exercise or be outside. But none of that matters. I am perfectly happy, sitting here on my phone. I just wish that the “real world” would go away so that I can be undisturbed while on-line. Why do I feel guilty about that? Once I publish this on my blog I will go and see what everyone is up to on Facebook. Then Instagram. Then Twitter. Maybe first I should check the weather? I wonder if it will be sunny all week? Is anyone trying to text me? Did I forget to return any texts or emails? I should go to Amazon and buy those pair of shoes I have been wanting. I wonder what the top stories in the news are? I have had this pimple on my butt for weeks now, maybe I should Google about it and find out what is going on. I should also Google about finding out if there are any negative side-effects from being on my phone as much as I am. I don’t think so. First I need to reply to some emails then I can do all of that. What time is it anyways?

The Plastic Smile

Unknown I did not do it because I am an unhappy man. Like everyone else I have my good days and bad ones, but would never agree that I am a miserable man. I just have a difficult time smiling. Smiling has never come easily for me. It has always felt forced, like I am pushing something uncomfortable off my face. As a child my father would always mimic the stern frown that I wore on my face. I couldn’t help it. He would call me the James Dean kid. I would try to explain to him that I was not unhappy, it was just what my face seemed to do.

When I first saw the ad for the plastic smile I was immediately intrigued. A Smile For All Those Who Find Smiling Impossible To Do! The ad said that people would have no idea that the smile was fake when you wore the plastic smile on your face. “Ok,” I thought. In a world that judges you based upon the look that you have on your face, the plastic smile seemed like it would be a good thing to have. I had been thinking about how if I just smiled more, if people thought that I was a happier man, then maybe my business would improve. I could be more successful. I decided to give the plastic smile a try.

I was surprised that it arrived on my doorstep a few days after ordering it. When I ordered the plastic smile the company said that we will have you smiling in no time, but I never thought that it would arrive so fast. I picked up the small cardboard box, brought it inside and immediately opened it up. The plastic smile was in a plastic wrapper. There was also what was called a “pen stick,” so you could match the smile with the color of your skin. There was also a full-page of illustrated instructions. I brought all of this into my bathroom and within a half an hour I had the plastic smile on my face.

It looked so real! I was in awe. I could move the smile from side to side, up and down with my own facial muscles. I could open and close the smile but I was impressed by how even when I was not smiling the smile always returned back into its original smiling shape. My facial muscles could be in the shape of a frown but I still had a bright, perfectly shaped smile on my face! This was fantastic. Finally, I could be a smiling man.

I immediately wanted to take my new smile out into the world. I wanted to see if it really worked. I decided to walk around the downtown area, which was close to my house. I walked down the street. I went into various stores. I ordered coffee at a local cafe. I could not believe how many people were smiling back at me. It seemed as if I was lighting people up as I walked by. People in cars, people in shops, people on bikes- all noticed and smiled at me. A few seemed to take offense to my smile by looking the other way or giving me a “fuck you” look, but for the most part the plastic smile seemed to change everything. The vast majority of people seemed to become happier in my presence!

This was a revelation for me because up until this point I had never experienced this before. Normally, people respond to me in a standoffish matter. It is not that I upset others or depress them but I do not really seem able to change their mood. My interactions with others are relatively mundane and unanimated and this probably has something to do with the lack of a smile on my face. With this plastic smile on my face people seemed to immediately light up when they saw me. A smile took shape on their faces as well. That day I saw more teeth than I had ever seen in my life. I saw white teeth and brown teeth, broken teeth and perfectly shaped teeth, bent teeth and straight teeth. When people smile their teeth come out to say “hi.”

Having all of these people smile at me really lifted my mood. I was feeling great and could not wait to go back to work. I had no doubt that this plastic smile was going to improve my business. My wife was a bit disturbed by the plastic smile but it made her smile more so she was supportive of my wearing the plastic smile wherever I went. It was not until the third day of wearing the plastic smile that I became aware that not only was it a cheaply made product, but that something such as a permanent smile upon my face was too good to be true.

I work as a psychotherapist and I did notice that all of my clients were leaving my office with smiles on their faces. They seemed to feel much better and happier than their therapy sessions with me in the past. Some clients even pointed out that I seemed so much happier. “What do you mean, do I normally seem unhappy?” I asked. My clients would tell me that they were just not used to seeing me with such a big smile on my face. They felt happy for me that things were going well in my life and it was through being able to be happy for someone else’s good fortune that they themselves were able to feel better than they had in a long time. Who would have ever thought that the key to mental health was as simple as being able to stop thinking of just yourself and being able to be happy for someone else.

After the second day of wearing the plastic smile, my business started to pick up. Some of my clients were referring their friends to me. I received several phone calls from people wanting to get an appointment with me. The plastic smile was actually working! But then on the third day some thing really unfortunate began to happen. The plastic smile started falling off my face. I would be in the middle of a session with a client and the smile would fall into my lap. As you can imagine this was incredibly disturbing for my clients. They were all terrified and confused when it happened. “What the fuck!” they would yell out. Some even jumped up into the air and ran out of the room.

I tried to explain what was going on. I believe in that cliché saying that honesty is the best policy, so I told my clients that I ordered the plastic smile on-line in order to appear happier. I explained to all of them that I had always had a difficult time smiling. Smiling felt uncomfortable for me and I was concerned that it was having a negative effect on my ability as a therapist. Some of my clients understood and felt empathy but others were very disturbed and left my office without paying. I presume that I will never hear from these clients ever again. I just hope they do not give me a negative review on Yelp.

I wrote to the plastic smile company and told them about what was happening. They wrote back and told me that they were sorry that this was occurring but that in their disclaimer it was written that they could take no responsibility for how long the plastic smile would stick on to a persons face. When I read some reviews of the plastic smile I was surprised to see that a lot of people had the same problem that I did. One person even wrote that he lost a woman that he was in love with because of the plastic smile. He wrote:

When I first met her she loved my smile. My smile was what attracted her to me. I had never been loved by a woman like this in my life. That first week with her was pure bliss. I felt so happy and we were making plans to spend the rest of our lives together. But when the plastic smile fell off my face in the middle of lunch one day she was terrified. She screamed and almost had a full on seizure. I could not calm her down and everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. She ran out and I will never hear from her again. My life is over. Thanks plastic smile.

I do not know why I neglected to read these reviews before ordering the product. I suppose that I was so excited by the idea of being able to smile all the time that I did not want to have my hope diminished by any negative reviews. I am just sorry that I did not take a moment to make a more sober decision, because it is even harder for me to smile now than it was before. My business is in a rut again and I just want to stay home all day. Now I know that a smile is the answer to so many of my problems but I just can not do it. If only I could. If only it was as easy as that plastic smile was.

The Nobody Artist

imagesThe Nobody Artist sits alone in a room. There is a drawing pad upon their lap or a blank canvas in front of them. It is raining or sunny outside. All they want to do is get up and go someplace else. They do not want to make work even though they try. Every time The Nobody Artist lifts the pen or paintbrush it hurts. Sometimes it does not hurt as bad. Sometimes it does not hurt at all.

As The Nobody Artist paints or draws they can not stop the thoughts. Why can’t I seem to make a living as an artist? Why can’t I get my work out there? Why have I been unable to get any acknowledgment for my work? What is the point? These thoughts create a resistance, a negative feeling that causes The Nobody Artist to want to do something else. They walk around. They read a book. They listen to music. They watch a film. They eat. They drink. They go places. They work a job. But everything they do is filled with a sense of loss and frustration. The Nobody Artist seems unable to do the thing they know they were born to do. There is a block, something unmovable in the way. The Nobody Artist, no matter how hard they push, can not break through.

The Nobody Artist knows that the busier they become with other things, the less time they will have for their art. But when they find themselves with a lot of time to do their art they can not. They find anything else to do. They avoid doing their creative work in the same way that a student avoids studying for an exam. The pain of knowing that they do not know how to make their art into a way of life, keeps them from making their art. The avoidance of pain is often what puts an end to The Nobody Artists chance at a life in art.

The Nobody Artist often sees other artists who seem to make a life of their art. These artists are not wealthy or wildly successful but they live a life from art. There homes are filled with art and their studios look like an active and creative space. Their work is shown in gallery shows and in magazines. They get commissions and have their work on websites or on album covers. They create books filled with their art. The Nobody Artist is in awe of these Somebody Artists. They are also terribly envious of these artists. Somebody Artists causes Nobody Artists to feel bad about themselves. Why have I not been able to make a life out of art? What has held me back? Why Can’t I seem to do it? This often causes The Nobody Artist to want to quit making art. It’s too painful for them to keep going on. But they do anyways.

The Nobody Artist has a large body of work that collects dust in closets and in drawers. Piles of drawings in folders, sketchbooks and in-between the pages of books. Everything The Nobody Artist creates is destined for the dark closet or drawer. Maybe someday my art will be known, they think and this thought keeps them making work here and there. But deep down they carry a terrible sense that most of their work is destined to move from the closet or drawer and eventually into the trash. Their life’s work meaning very little to the outside world.

The Nobody Artist works hard to let go of the need to make art. Maybe if they could just stop needing to be an artist, then they can find happiness. They could spend their time making money, socializing, reading, hanging out, exploring and living without this nagging feeling that they should be making art. If The Nobody Artist could just rid themselves of this need to make art, then they could be free to live a relatively normal life. But overtime The Nobody Artist gets close to the normal life and then they get freaked out by the thought of letting go of the only thing that really means something to them and then they rush back into making and avoiding their art.

But The Nobody Artist always returns to the fatal question, What is the point? There is so much art out there, the world does not need more, The Nobody Artist thinks. The Nobody Artist is well aware that they should just learn how to make art for the pleasure of being creative. Making art should have nothing to do with anything else other than the creative process, they read. To just take pleasure in the act of creation without needing to be an artist in the world. To just make art in one’s own privacy and then be ok with sticking it in the closet or drawer. Art as a way of passing the time, pleasurably. The Nobody Artist strives to embrace this creative state. To be an artist only when they are drawing or painting and exploring the solitude of their creative inner worlds. The rest of the time The Nobody Artist works hard at becoming relativly content with being Someone Else.

The Parental Avoidance Plan (PAP)

Parents

Do you have parents who are difficult to deal with? Do your parents continually nag you about doing things that you do not want to do? Are your parents needy of your attention? Do you have parents who tell you what to do most of the time and get angry at you when you do not do what they think  you should do? Do your parents get in the way of your enjoyment of life?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions (and especially if you have answered yes to all of these questions) I would recommend that you continue reading. It does not matter if you are 14 or 38. If you live with parents who are anything like what I have described above, this plan might be exactly what you need.

I cannot take credit for being the inventor of this plan. This plan is currently being implemented in households all over the world. In kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, garages, hallways, bathrooms and backyards everywhere. A friend of mine who is 38 and is yet to find a way to move out and get away from his needy and controlling parents swears by this plan. The inventor of this plan, who is now 17 years of age and lives with nagging and controlling parents, is a master at it. For a low fee he teaches other people all over the world about how to implement this plan for themselves.

This plan has become so effective that there are several variations of it now in use. There is the Spouse Avoidance Plan (SAP), the Boss Avoidance Plan (BAP), the Family Avoidance Plan (FAP) and most recently the Work Life Avoidance Plan (WLAP). But lets stick to the Parental Avoidance Plan (PAP), since this is what I want to tell the world about.

The PAP saves those who live with difficult, unhappy and controlling parents so much time and energy. Before this plan was put into use, people living with difficult parents had no choice but to be continually tormented by nagging questions, manipulative behaviors, constant demands and unreasonable consequences. Parents were like a heavy weight that would keep their children way down. But now with the PAP, Children Of Needy And Nagging Parents (CONANP) are finally finding a way to live without the stress caused by more difficult parents.

I realize that by exposing PAP to a larger audience, I might experience some anger from CONANP who have been using this plan to avoid their difficult parents. They may feel like I am exposing their plan to a larger audience and as a result their parents will find out. I can understand why this would upset these CONANP, since living with needy, nagging and demanding parents can be a terrible drag. I understand why they would not want me to give their secrets away. Please know that my intention here is only to make this plan available to more CONANP who are currently stuck living with unhappy parents.

Since we all know that the end result of being a CONANP is often a lifetime of anger, addiction, anxiety, broken relationships, general unhappiness and isolation- my hope is to provide these poor souls with an alternative. By freeing more CONANP from parental bondage, my hope is that the world will become a less violent and eventually happier and more enjoyable place for all.

So here it is. For those of you who choose to implement this plan my hope is that the PAP will provide you with the mental health you will need to create your own independent and fulfilling lives (and not end up like my 38-year-old friend who is still totally dependent on his parents).

The Parental Avoidance Plan.

1. Speed- Rush in and rush out. (The idea here is that when parents are home and you need something that is outside of your room, you must be fast. Otherwise you run the risk of one or both of your parents seeing you and thinking of something to nag you about. If you move quickly, your parents may not see you and if they do see you they will not have the time to think of something to nag you about. When speed is involved, parents have less of an ability to figure out what is going on. This is one fundamental advantage of being young- you are much faster than your older parents.)

2. Stealth- Be quiet and avoid detection. (When living with unhappy and difficult parents, this should be your mantra: Be quiet and avoid detection. At all times, try not to be seen. Remember that when your parents are talking with you or when you are stuck having to spend time with your parents (in a car, at a dinner table, et cetera- less is more. Do not engage too much and try as hard as you can not to be seen. Become an expert at being a ghost. The moment CONANP are seen by the parent- the parent will latch on and not let go until all of their child’s energy has been drained. This is one form of control.

3. Ignoring- Keep head down. No eye contact. Pretend not to hear them yelling at you and just keep walking no matter what. (This step of the plan is meant to be immediately implemented when both Speed and Stealth have failed. Keep in mind that this part of the plan takes practice and endurance and will not be easy to achieve at first. However the more you practice it, the better you will get at it.)

4. If all of the above steps fail and you get caught in your parent’s web- just smile, nod your head and WAIT IT OUT.

*For further elucidation of and support with implementing the PAP I recommend taking the on-line PAP course created by the 16-year-old that I mentioned above.

The Man Who Fell On The Moon (A Rough Sketch For A Film)

*This is a rough sketch for a potential film. Please excuse any grammatical or editing errors. The sketch has been edited several times but think of this more as “thinking out loud” rather than a work with any literary merit.

1.

As he fell through empty space, surprisingly there was an absence of thoughts in his mind. His mind was a reflection of the empty space all around. Everything felt still, except for the fact that he was falling. He could not recall a time his mind had been this quiet ever before. Funny it should happen this way. As he observed the passing darkness all around, there was no fear. You would think that a person would be terrified in this situation, but he was not. There was no struggling to hold on. He allowed space to do with his body what it wanted as he quietly watched through the narrow window in his space helmet, things that no one ever gets to see.

As he fell through space, he was tumbling like a t-shirt in a dryer. Around and around and around in slow motion. Maybe it was the tumbling motion that lulled his mind into a thoughtless state. As he tumbled he could see the immense glow of the moon, the distant stars, black holes, celestial spheres, expansive darkness and a luminescent blue tennis ball sized object, which was earth. It was impossible to feel fear while observing enigmas such as these.

And then, as if it did not matter at all, he lost consciousness.

2.

He had come to outer space with the man in charge of the space expedition, Jack Gilbert. There was only two of them. The intention of the mission was to commandeer a defunct satellite that had been puttering through the solar system since 1978. It was called ISEE-3, and it was the first human-made object to ever pass through the tail of a comet. In 1981, its battery shut down leaving it stranded in space. It was able to putter around in space for all this time because its orbiter was able to maintain power from solar panels that were mounted on its backside. The satellite was making a rare passage close to the moon, which allowed NASA to send two astronauts into space in a final attempt to get the satellite’s thrusters working again. It was not viewed as a difficult mission. The astronauts would not be going far into space and the ISEE-3 satellite was not technically difficult to work on since it was developed during a time when toaster ovens were smarter than spaceships.

Jack and Jonathan (who were referred to as the Two J’s) would need no more than two or three days to get the thrusters working again. Simple and by the book. The Two J’s would be back on earth watering their gardens and sleeping in their beds by the end of the week. This is why it was such a surprise when those working in the NASA Ground Station suddenly heard Jack yell: “Oh fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Jonathan!”

Still no one is sure exactly what happened but a final theory has been settled on just to give people a false sense of resolution. Some still suspected that Jack had been somehow involved, since he and Jonathan had a tumultuous working relationship. It has been concluded by NASA that what occurred was a freak, unpredictable and tragically consequential equipment defect. After much investigation what was found was that the cables bracketing the astronaut’s space suit to the spaceship were split by a particular, random and unpredictable atmospheric pressure. It was one of those very rare things that occasionally happens. It is impossible to protect against such things because we never imagine they could happen until they happen. The final line of the NASA investigation read, Jonathan was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

 3.

It was the impact of his spacesuit slamming against the moon’s surface that woke him up.The lack of a gravitational pull had caused his fall to happen slow enough that no bones broke. There was pain but no fracturing. His spacesuit provided enough cushioning to allow him to survive a fall through space. He was the only man who had ever survived such a fall.

“Fuck!” This is what he said upon awakening.

He looked around. He was confused. He couldn’t figure anything out. He had not been educated to comprehend such things as this. It was impossible to know how much air was left. It was impossible to know where he was.

Despite having just fallen through empty space, it was not difficult for him to stand up. The lack of gravity helped to pull him up. There was an immense amount of pain in his body but he could not feel it. He was aware of some degree of fear arising in him as he wondered if he was dead. He was never one to be fooled by by a belief in a traditional God or After Life but suddenly he felt terrified that maybe he had been wrong. Maybe all of those crazed Evangelical Christians he saw on TV were right all along. What happens now? Was this my punishment for not being a believer? Is this some sort of purgatory? He could not help but think such things.

He forced himself to look around. A vast expanse. Miles and miles of large, round craters. Above him was darkness blanketed by stars. Everything was silent except for the silence. The silence made the sound of an electrical humm. He could hear ringing in his ears. There was nothing alive around him. He was frozen in  uncertainty. His nose itched and he tried moving his mouth and nose to relieve the itch. It worked for a second or two. Every time the itch returned he wanted to take off his helmet and use his hand to relieve himself, but he knew this was not an option. He moved his nose and mouth around again and again. As he waited for some sort of solution to come to him, he could feel his heart beating in his neck, lower chest and stomach.

It took some time for him to realize that this was not some kind of After Life. He was much worse off than that. While he was wiggling his nose and mouth to relieve himself of the itch, he realized that he was on the moon.

Fuck.

Before deciding to go anywhere, even though there was nowhere to go, he reviewed in his mind how he had gotten to where he was. He had been working on ISEE-3’s main thruster unit. Next to him was Jack who had been holding various wires in place. There was then a loud rubbing sound and some smoke. As he went towards the part of the cables that were smoking they broke apart, sending him tumbling into dark space. At first he panicked and he could hear Jack screaming. All of the controls in his helmet immediately went out. There was no more voice communication, no more digital reading on his helmet’s window screen. Everything went dark and the panic seemed to have subsided once he realized there was nothing that he could do. He remembered feeling a peace that he had never felt before as he tumbled around through space watching the moon, the earth and noticing the ISEE-3 getting further and further and further away. And then that is it. No more memory beyond the memory of this incredible peace.

Next thing he could recall was regaining consciousness on the moon. Once he had finished reviewing the past he thought again about what he could do now. There is something about the human mind that will continue to search for solutions, especially when there are none. He felt thirsty. The itch on his nose moved to the side of his face. All of his training as an astronaut had not prepared him for this. For the first time in his life, he had no idea what to do. When a person does not know what to do, the only choice is between remaining still or moving. He decided to walk on the moon.

4.

Before becoming an astronaut, Jonathan worked in an old McDonald’s that was converted into a laboratory for restoring and archiving old NASA space photograph’s. The organization was funded by NASA and run by an older man who went by the name BB Gun. BB Gun had worked for NASA for decades and liked to talk to others about how there was no one who had seen more of the moon’s surface than he had. “I have seen every spot on the moon at least once. I know every mountain range on the moon by heart. I feel like I have walked those mountain ranges many times before.” Jonathan was fascinated by BB Guns talks about the moon. He would describe endless wide-open spaces filled with craters and mountain ranges of incredible depth and distance.

BB Gun was also a self stylized conspiracy theorist. He didn’t believe that anyone had every walked on the moon before. “It was all a set up. In 2006 when NASA admitted that it had lost the only raw footage they had of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s first moon walk – I knew that the whole thing was a bunch of shit. Now that most of the people who had originally watched those studio produced images of men walking on the mood were dead or senile, NASA finally admitted that they had no real proof of men walking on the moon.” In order to better deal with BB Gun’s conspiratorial and trouble making views, NASA decided to put him in charge of the photography archival project where he would spend his days looking at old space photographs in an old McDonald’s in Mountain View, California. BB Gun didn’t mind, since he wanted as little as possible to do with what he called, “That bullshit space organization.”

BB Gun taught Jonathan how to archive the millions of space photos that had been reproduced from the originals. It was the old photographs of the ISEE-3 satellite that stimulated Jonathan’s first thoughts about space travel. BB Gun called the satellite a spacecraft from the disco era. It looked something like an old Sony walkman with solar panels. Jonathan was fascinated by the fact that this relic from the distant space age was still lost out there in space collecting data about solar wind. NASA was interested in being able to collect this data and the moment Jonathan heard that the satellite would be coming close to the moon’s orbit within the decade, he decided to become an astronaut.

5.

As he stood there looking out at the wide open, flat space all around him- the thought came to his mind that he could be the first man to every really walk on the moon. Inspired by the thought, Jonathan decided to walk towards nowhere. As he took his first steps he was surprised by how strange it felt. These were not normal steps. With each step, the boot of his space suit did not land directly on the moon’s surface but instead it was like he was bouncing off the tension created by the open space between his boot and the moon’s surface. It felt like bouncing up and down on a trampoline as he walked unsteadily. Each step was difficult to take since there was nothing to hold on to. It was like learning how to walk on water. When he lost his balance, which happened several times, he would fall to the ground and then bounce back up into the air. Walking on the moon is more like bouncing than it was walking, he thought to himself. Walking for fifty feet would be impossible, he thought. But he realized he could try to swim through space.

He dove forward and tried to breaststroke his way through space in the same way he flew in childhood dreams. He was able to go forward for a few feet but then fell flat onto the ground. He stood back up and tried to do the same thing again but experienced similar results, although he was able to breaststroke his way forward several more feet. He felt like a fool and laughed when he realized that he had wondered if anyone could see him. What a ridiculous thought. He had always worried about other people judging him. He decided to breast stroke his way forward again and this time it worked.

He swam through space. Who would of thought that a grown man in a spacesuit would be swimming his way through space. He laughed so hard that he fogged up the window of his helmet. Through the fog he could see the white gloves and arms of his spacesuit rowing through open space in front of him. Where were the expansive mountains that BB Gun had spoke of? He felt determined in his hallucinations. In the distance was nothing.

His arms grew weak and his body tired. He stopped breaststroking his way through space and landed flat on his stomach with his space helmet causing his head and neck to arch upwards (just as if he was laying with his head up on the arm of a couch).

This is how he slept every night in his bed. On his stomach with his head turned towards one side. His wife had often told him that he should learn how to sleep on his back or side. That it would be healthier for him to do so. He tried several times, even had her wake him up if she noticed that he had returned to sleeping on his stomach. No matter how hard he tried he was not able to get to sleep laying in any other position. Sleeping on his stomach, as unhealthy as it may be, was the only way he could feel comfortable enough to fall asleep. As he lay in the same position on the surface of the moon, memories of sleeping in his bed and holding one arm around his wife’s chest returned to him. Up until that point he had forgotten all about his past life. The shock from his current situation caused him to forget most things. Now as he lay dying, memory to return to him.

When the mind is allowed to roam free, it is strange what images that it pulls up. Events in a person’s life that were once lost forever, return in the time it takes to sneeze. Like images being pulled from a void, these scenes from a life once lived create feelings that we thought were long gone. He saw himself as a younger man, 22 or 23 dressed in a black shirt and pants and wearing a black beanie. His hair was long and he had a goatee that was shaved at the sides of his mouth. He was standing by a large red wall, just standing there staring off into space. He looked lost but felt alone. He could remember that feeling of existential loneliness that he felt in his youth like it was yesterday. He was waiting for someone or trying to fill his loneliness by watching other people. His entire life was in front of him and he felt so alone. For a moment he could remember what it felt like to be that young.

The moon’s surface looked like the ash colored lava rocks that he had walked on in Hawaii. He remembered walking across the lava with his mother behind him yelling for him to be careful. The image of the first girl he had sex with returned to him. She was sitting on the beach in her bikini, her body still 18 years old and she was smiling at him while he watched her blonde hair blowing in the light breeze. He then saw an image of his wife working in the garden. She was naked, just like she always was when she worked in the garden, and she smiled at him. He could feel her smile radiating through his body. He never appreciated her smile like he did now.

He felt guilty for not being able to appreciate her smile more. He did not wonder if he would ever see her again. Instead he hoped that he had been good enough to her that her love for him was still strong enough to last for the rest of her life.

The air was running low. He was not able to take deep breaths anymore. Too much of his air supply had been used up while imagining that he was breaststroking his way through space. He would not try to walk anymore, instead he would stay still on his stomach. He stretched his arms out by his side in order to feel more comfort. He tried to find an easier position to keep his head. Everything was silent besides the pulsations in his ears. He wondered if it really could be possible that he was the first man ever to touch the moon. BB Gun would be impressed. He thought of BB Gun sitting in front of old photographs of the moon inside that old converted McDonald’s. Then his memory ceased to generate any more images. His thoughts dissolved. He felt ready to sleep. In front of him he could see the horizon line between the surface of the moon and dark space. He remains there, still staring at the horizon line.