The Fraterist.

I like to get up close to people. Real close. Smell their skin and shared intimacy. It may not always be what the other person desires, me up close to them, but it is not about them. It is me. Always about me. This egotistical disease, been passed down in my lineage from generation to generation. It was all about my father, grandfather and so on. All about the men and their erect penis’s. Not that I agree with this patriarchy, but I am biologically predisposed. I happen to enjoy feminists, I like to get up real close to them, but it is still about me. The erection is stronger than the sword, mightier than the will to do good.


There is something empowering, exhilarating about getting up close to someone whom you should not. Aeschylus talked about this when close enough to his sport to feel the departing spirit from the dying flesh. Ahab was also never to forget his dance with the whale. There is something almost supernatural about getting to close to the one you should not. It is a kind of voyeurism. A perversion which lacks orgasm but is filled with electrical excitement. There is always the erection. It is a natural reaction. Symbiotic and a symbol of transgression. When I notice the stranger that I want to get really close to- my erection is what points me in the right direction. My mind and body work together to free my desire from the confines of flesh. Even though I am met with disdain from the person I am trying to get close with, it is not the reaction that I am concerned with but rather it is the chase I covet.


I walk the city streets. Whenever I have the time. It is the way I blow off steam. I don’t enjoy cardiovascular exercise because of the intensive stress to the body. So I walk. I search with excitement for the one whom I want to get close with. I identify and then I walk past them and take a deep inhalation. It is the smell or scent that is the trigger. If my nose delights and my heart is stimulated to rapidly beat- then I get close. I slowly, gently maneuver my self up against the stranger and stand there connected. Symbiotic. A state akin to bliss. Orgasmic. My erection is pulsating with glee. And then it is over. There is nothing surprising about the strangers confusion or violation. A natural reaction. They try to make sense of what is happening or they erupt violently. I walk away as calmly as I came and go about my way without a word exchanged.


How close you can get to a stranger without them knowing you are there. In the Orient this is an art form that is thousands of years old. Was once a training meditation for Zen monks of the Zegati sect. They were all eventually put to death because of the great offense and terror they caused the people. I have heard that the art of being a fraterist is making a comeback in contemporary Japanese society. I have read a few essays by prominent authors- in which they discuss fraterists. They are always described as eccentric individuals who lack connection with others. They long to be close in a world in which they feel out of touch. The fraterist is normally highly educated, civilized, well read and a threat to no one but themselves. A victim of desire.

This is comforting to me since mine is a lonely sport. The feelings of confusion, elation or longing can be shared with no one. My wife or colleagues would not understand my passion. I would be considered deviant-unfit for society. It is always the most civilized passions that are incapable of being understood. How could I expect to be understood about the elation that warms my body as I smell the small hairs upon a strangers neck or rest my hip against theirs. This would not be possible. Condemnation would rise up. Sirens would go off and I would be confined inn a rubber room. Spinal tapped. I have seen this happen before.


Don’t look for me because you will not see. I am like the wind. Calming. I am close to you when you are unaware. I am not a threat but rather a lover of the personal spaces of the other. The smells the sensations and the erotic stimulation- these are my assets. Without them I am broke- a reader without a book. I am a nicely dressed man who does not like to play by the rules. My anarchy is ancient- a custom. I am not the man you would expect to be offending you. If you see me you feel safe. It is only when I touch you with my presence that confusion sets in. By the time you respond or react- I am gone. On my way. Walking through the city.

The Caricature Artist

It has come to my attention that I have become a caricature of myself. I have always had a subtle inclination about this truth but recently this has become all to apparent. I know that being a caricature of ones self is all the rage these days. Every one does it. It’s constantly sold on television and has become a pre-requisite towards being a member of society and holding down a decent job. I may not have to wear a tangible, material uniform but my caricature is enough of a disguise. It covers the real me like a blanket and rarely allows my authentic self to shine through. However, I have been a caricature of myself for so long that I am not even sure I would recognize my authentic self if I passed by it on the street. It would not be incorrect to suggest that I have made this caricature of myself slightly resemble who I think that I may be. This is where the creativity comes into play- molding oneself into a mere image of who they really are.


Usually this image is a grotesque or compromised expression of our “truer” self. Certainly the man that I see at work or in the mirror when I am getting dressed does not bare much resemblance to the man whom I often feel like I am. In fact the two could not be further apart. There is a feeling of estrangement that I get when I catch an image of myself in a passing window or upon a video screen. When I dress in a suit or am not sure how to dress at all, I feel lost in the cult of myself- and am clueless about this thing or idea I often heard talked about- “authentic being.”


For many years I took pride in my work as a caricature artist. I had different hair styles every month and wore clothes that I felt expressed a particular mood that I was in. My facial expressions and body language supported this mood and I went through my day comfortably numb to the fact that I was only being a caricature of me. Now, I have begun to become more frustrated with the caricatures that I create. I do not know if this dissatisfaction is because I am becoming older and look less hip in a certain style of dress or if because I have become so condition by the the society in which I live that I have simply lost who I really may be. Or maybe I have grown into an apathetic thirty something year old man. I have been fighting the forces of Pavlovian conditioning for so long, and my failure to bring forth a tangible victory has caused me to resign myself to other, more secure ways of being. I realize that this is a bleak perspective- but there is a reason why caricature artists are some of the most unfulfilled and melancholic people alive.


Recently I have been so baffled by who I am that I have decided to be nobody at all. I have resigned myself to my work as an inner city high school teacher, stuck the paint brushes and canvas’s back into storage and signed up for evening classes at a local college where I disdainfully intend to get a Teaching Credential. None of this is like the caricature that I have worked so hard to create for the past three decades. I went through such inspired stages of being Punk Rock, Gothic, GQ/Intellectual, and then a mid life crisis Rock Star stage. My caricatures were well designed fabrications and enjoyable to look at. I fooled myself and others that the appearance I wore was really me and I seemed to be fine with this illusion until I realized that I wanted to be somebody else other than me. Now, I no longer look in the mirror when I dress- other than maybe a quick peak to see if I got every thing right. I have no intention towards the caricature that I want to create because I am less concerned with who I am trying to be. What happens after so many years of trying to discover who you really are is that you become the person that you least wanted to be.


But if I was not a dreamer I would not be a writer. Recently in my dreams images of myself appear that seem to be more cohesive and calm. In my dreams I am an older man who seems to be less concerned with his own caricature and more preoccupied with the work he is doing or the life he is living. The two (work and life) are no longer separate and at war. He is happy with things the way that they are. His apathy has become a form of security and he does not care that the sky is falling or that the human species is self destructing. He is no longer pre-occupied with saving humanity from herself or making great art that will influence generations of painters. He is simply himself. Unconcerned and comfortable. I am horrified by this premonition of a future me- but at the same time I am some what relieved by the fact that he is not a caricature of a self that he is pretending to be. Being a caricature artist demands a lot from a person. It is a daily, hourly job requiring that the individual becomes a martyr to his or her own needs. Somehow, the absence or acceptance of this martyrdom gives me something to look forward to.


For now my dream is me and I am still figuring out who the hell I want to be. I would be lying if I said I draw caricatures no more. I am drawing caricatures every day. I live in a world where I am surrounded by nothing but caricatures. It is a zooropa of caricatures. I have recently noticed that I am pre-occupied with finding the perfect caricature. One that will become my masterpiece. This particular caricature will be my final work- a testament to a life well lived. Every day I am searching my soul for this particular caricature and I am trying to make it fit. There is a great deal of resistance from the part of me that wants to be free and unseen- but it is only a matter of time before this side of me will withdraw and remit. I often wonder if this masterpiece is the man, the future image of me, who often haunts my dreams. His apathy fills me up with dread but his calm security entices me with its peace of mind. I have started to draw this image in the way I wear my pants or hold my posture. Line by line, I am noticing how I am slowly morphing into a subtle image of this man. The lines that I now draw seem straighter, almost rigid- less filled with the abstract ambiguities of time a space. It is only a matter of time before I see if this man shall become me, but for now- I am still hard at work creating caricatures of who I want to be.

Payback

Want to hear a strange story? I am a high school Teacher. Yes, a high school Teacher. How? Good question. I am afraid that I lack an answer. This fact is as much a mystery to me as is the nature of existence. I can not figure it out. How did I end up in this position? I am not the right guy for the job. In high school I disdained Teachers. I made them cry or contributed to their high blood pressure. I hated anything academic and the only enjoyment I got out of high school was breaking the rules and the benches on the school playground. My father had to donate a large sum of money to the school so that I could graduate after my fifth year (I know what you are thinking- yes, high school is only supposed to be four years). My grades were so low, that it seemed as if I had tried to fail. The fact of the matter was that I hated high school because I had not a clue why I was there. I was lost or stranded with no idea how or when I would get out. Stuck because other people forced me to do something I did not want to do. I still feel like that sometimes today.


All around me students excelled in high school. I got caught up in weed and booze while my peers seemed to enjoy the perks of studying hard and doing what they where told. I fought with my father on a daily basis and swore that I would burn down my house and my high school on an almost weekly basis. No Teachers took interest in me and I took no interest in them. I floundered through my classes like a fish swimming against the stream. I dreamed of a day when I would be a professional Tennis Player or Performer and gave little attention to the fact that I was on the verge of dropping out of high school.


So how have I ended up where I am? I am confused. Baffled. I believe that everything happens for specific reasons, but still- I, me… am grading papers and teaching students how to write, read and excel academically. This is straight out of the Twilight Zone. I am talking about grammar (which confuses me) and the joys of learning- to a classroom of over thirty students. I issue detentions and demand respect from those who break the rules. Now, don’t get me wrong- there is nothing more that I like than teaching a gang member or a teenager from a poor family about how to become a writer, revolutionary or graduate. Listening to students explain their dreams to me is like sipping a fine wine- I forget about all my problems and listen deeply to theirs. But come on, how has that happened to me?


I have this neighbor. He spends his entire day in his back yard building things and then tearing them down. There is trash everywhere and overgrown tomato plants. Old desks, chairs, book shelves are piled up high on top of one another and sit beneath my bedroom window. He lives off of a government stipend and thinks that the world revolves around his back yard. Sometimes I think that he is senile or the incarnation of Buddha. He does not drink or smoke but he also talks to himself and does not remember anything anyone says. I often see him when I return home from a long day at school. He is usually building a fence or pulling plants out of the ground that he planted the day before. He always asks me the same question and makes the same remarks, “where you coming from?” I say, “work.” “What do you do?” he asks me every time. Frustrated I say once again, “I teach high school.” “You do?” he always says. “I do,” I always reply. “Must be payback,” he says.


Life has a strange way of working itself out. Ever hear that saying “If you wanna make God laugh tell him your plans?” Well, try it. It works. He laughs and turns you into what you never thought you would be. It is strange how this phenomena occurs. Nietzsche referred to it as the eternal return. I think of it more like justice. Divine justice. Pay back for all the Teachers I crippled and wounded, for all the time I wasted, for all I could of been, for all the apathy that I showed up to school with and for all the failed expectations I filled my parents with. Ya, this I can begin to understand. Makes sense when you really think it over. “Payback… it’s a bitch,” my neighbor always says to me as he walks back into his third world yard. And as I stand there waiting for him to say, “have a good night,” like he always does…..everything, even me being a high school Teacher- makes perfect sense.

Clown Available For Weekends

As a teen I took several circus classes. They were held on the weekends and I would learn the art of clowning. Juggling, skipping, tumbling, miming, hobbling and magic tricks were all apart of the course load. I had been interested in clowns ever since I was a young boy but going to circus school on the weekends was not my decision. I had been causing a lot of trouble around the house by pretending to be a clown so my father decided that if I was going to act like a clown I should learn to behave like one.


I never would have imagined that the few months of clown training almost twenty years ago would rescue me as an adult. I did not even take the training seriously. I got stoned with my friends behind the circus tent and spent more time staring at the girls than I did listening to the ring master. But somehow I have retained the fundamentals of clowning. I can transform myself into a circus clown in a matter of moments and do all kinds of absurd and slightly unskilled clowning tricks.


My wife had the idea that I make my clowning skills available to others on the weekends. Since the failing economy has become a huge elephant in my room, and my job as a high school Teacher does not pay enough for me to live a modest and honorable lifestyle- I needed to find other ways to make a buck. So marketing myself as a clown for hire on the weekends did not sound like such a bad idea. The only problem was that I did not have enough money to buy a new clown suit so I had to use the one that I wore many years before as a younger man. Somehow the fact that it did not fit and was really tight around the belly and hips, played into the absurdity of being a clown. But I could not help the fact that I felt like a fool.


I put an add up on Craigslist for a “Clown Available For Weekends.” In my advertisement I said that I could do miming, juggling and general entertainment tricks. I listed the name of the circus school that I attended and said that my fee was $40.00 an hour. For a few weeks I received no replies to my add. I waited patiently and continued to over work myself as a Teacher with piles of papers to grade and student parent meetings to attend. Just as bills were beginning to go unpaid for over a month I received two phone calls from people interested in hiring me as a clown.


The first call was from a Google representative who wanted to hire me for an event that was being held in Mill Valley. It was an evening staff party for all San Fransisco bay area Google representatives and they wanted for it to be a circus theme. The woman whom I talked to on the phone said that they would pay me two hundred bucks to dress up like a clown and stand like a mime for four hours at the front entrance of the event. I accepted without hesitation and at the event I was able to hand my “Clowning” card to a few Google representatives who stuck crispy dollar bills in my tip pouch. The Google organization has more money than the middle east has oil or the Napa valley has wine and the only reason that I took that demeaning job was because I thought that it was a good opportunity to network.


The second phone call that I received was for a job offer to work as a clown at a birthday party. It was an upper class family that lived in Palo Alto and they wanted to hire me to entertain at their child’s second birthday bash. I was nervous about taking the job because I had a premonition that I would scare most children. I knew that my clown suit was a little awkward looking on my body (especially if I got an erection) and the cheap make-up that I had to use caused my face to look a little haunting. I said yes (because I was offered one hundred and fifty bucks for three hours of work) despite the fact that I knew that I might appear to look like a frightening version of Ronald McDonald to all of the kids. However, I desperately needed the cash and as it turned out- things did not go as badly as I thought. A few infants seemed horrified by my appearance but the over all mood at the party was one of amusement, fascination and laughter.


Even though there is a part of me that is still humiliated that I am a Teacher with a graduate degree in English Literature who has to work as a clown on the weekends, I still am able to enjoy the absurdity of what I am doing. In the past two summer months I have had clowning jobs almost every weekend and the extra money that I am earning has allowed my to slowly creep out of debt, buy a new clown suit and enjoy a few more nice dinners with my wife a week. I do not tell anyone in my professional or personal life what I do for extra money on the weekends, and I have asked my wife to keep my clowning antics between her and I- but I know that it is only a mater of time before word gets out that I am working as a clown on the weekends. I can see it now in the headlines of my local city newspaper “EDUCATION FALLS TO ALL TIME LOW, TEACHER HAS TO WORK WEEKENDS AS CLOWN.”

The Stranger

1.

The other evening I found myself in a quagmire. An uncomfortable quagmire where I began to sweat and smell like the stranger that resides within myself. Sometimes events have a way of playing themselves out beyond my ability to comprehend. I was at a dinner party that was thrown by a friend of a friend’s friend. My wife and I were invited to his home for and evening of drinking from his historic wine collection that brought forth multiple bottles of red wine that were each valued at over a $1,000 bucks. We drank from them with a biblical delight and felt our minds turn towards ease as soon as the red medicine entered our blood stream. I was on my seventh glass of heavily fermented red wine when I felt outgoing enough to walk around the large finely decorated home and meander with the dozens of other guests that I did not know. With red wine glass in hand I walked through the various sitting rooms and living rooms smiling at people that I would never know. Then I was greeted by a woman that I immediately remembered knowing a long long time ago.

“Don’t I know you from some place?” she asked me with a knowing look of curiosity upon her face. I immediately scanned the room to see if my wife was anywhere in sight. When I saw that the coast was clear I looked back at the woman who stood before me waiting for a response. She was just as beautiful as I remembered her being seven years before. A combination of an eastern European gypsy and a sophisticated Jewish princes is how she appeared. Her long brown hair and olive skin made you want to reach out and touch her. “No, you do not look familiar to me,” a response which I will always regret. “I can swear that we have met before, I even remember where,” she persisted. “Well, I do have a twin brother who has been known to meet many more people than I,” I said in a desperate attempt to find a way out. “You have a twin brother?” she confirmed looking a little sceptical. “I do….he looks exactly like me,” I replied telling the first blatant lie I have told in quite a long time. “My name is Karina,” she said sticking out her hand and introducing herself to the man she had already met many years before.

2.

It was a cold and rainy night and I needed a drink. I was alone and horny and I thought that making a trip to the Ruby Room, a popular bar in town, would not be a waste of time. It was already midnight but I knew that I was not ready for sleep. The bar was filled with cigarette smoke and the eccentric sounds produced by a female DJ spinning records in the back. A few people lingered on the dance floor and most late night loners sat at the bar. I joined them and ordered a bloody Mary with a twist. It was strange, because I was so stuck in my head that I did not notice the beautiful girl that sat beside me. It was Karina. To make a long story short I engaged in intellectual conversation with her and her friend and we bought each other drinks. The three of us calmly danced on the linoleum dance floor and Karina and I decided to leave the bar together and go for a drive into San Fransisco.

It was obvious that the two of us where stinking with a desire for sex. Why else would we be at a bar past midnight? In our own ravenous ways we wanted each other- but were to afraid, to estranged- to reach out and grab the first kiss. I did not want her lips as much as I wanted the nudity of her flesh and at that point in my life I knew no better way to get to the root of a woman’s body than to travel to a strip club. At that hour of the early morning there was only one seedy strip cub that would stay open until 4 a.m. This club was infamous for having some attractive women who would still sell their bodies even though the majority of client tell were drunk men. Karina and I paid our twenty dollars to get in and sat in some chairs in front of a stage with a woman dancing nude upon it. She was an attractive Asian woman with a butterfly tattoo on her butt and a dragon around her waist. Karina took my hand in hers and gently started sliding our hands towards my pulsating crotch which was in desperate need of attention. She came slowly towards my ear and whispered in it “I’ll pay to watch the two of you get it on.”

Karina, the Asian stripper and I- all went into a dark back room that smelled like cumm and plastic. There was a single red light that illuminated the black leather couches and paper towel dispensers on the wall. Karina gave the Asian lady two hundred dollars which she had taken out of an ATM. My mind was still spinning in tomato juice and vodka but when Karina took a seat and said to go ahead and begin I gave myself over to an experience that would only happen once in my life. The Asian stripper undressed me and herself and began by licking my entire body while she put a rubber over my penis. Then Karina began to play with herself and the Asian stripper gave me a blow job that made me feel high. Karina gave the stripper directions as she fondled her breasts and played pervertedly with her vagina. I played with the Asian stripper and together the three of us were all getting off to the sounds of each others longing.

After Karina and I had an orgasm we zipped our self back up and made our way out from the den of iniquity. It was almost four in the morning and the city was asleep. The two of us were still high from the release of sexual desire. I could tell that some shame ran across both of our faces but deep down the two of us did not care because we had each secretly planned upon never seeing one another again. When I ran into Karina seven years later at the dinner party I was as taken off guard as a man who comes across a wild lion in the middle of the city. I was now married and more respectable- and to happen upon a living memory from my deviant past made me as uncomfortable as if I was wearing all wool sweater in mid summer.

3.

“Nice to meet you Karina,” I said reaching out my hand and shaking hers. “How did you meet my brother?” I lamely asked trying to remain as innocuous as possible. “Oh I’d rather not say,” she replied giving the impression that she had done something bad. “Yep, that sounds like my brother,” I said wanting to make her absolutely sure that he was not me. “What do you mean she asked?” surprised by my assumption. “My brother is a crazy guy who gets into all kinds of scandalous situations with the ladies.” Her face turned red and I don’t know if I made it more or less obvious that he was me by making this remark. “Are you sure you are not him?” she asked in a tone that had made me suggest that she had called my bluff. “I would have to be a psychopath to be pretending to be someone who I am not,” was all I could say. “That is true,” she said and I again looked around the room to make sure my wife was no place to be found.

“What is your brother up to these days?” Karina asked as she took a sip of her red wine. “Oh, he is teaching high school and an inner city high school in Richmond,” I said. Her eyes opened wide and she replied “that is so strange because I also teach high school in Richmond!” I was so shocked by this strange turn of life events that all I could do was ask her what school she taught at and it turns out that the high school where she teaches is two blocks away from the smaller high school where I or my twin brother teach. “That is so strange,” I tried to diplomatically suggest while at the same time I tried to hide my surprise. “What subject does your brother teach?” she asked. “English,” I said already knowing that her response would be, “I teach English as well!” I continued to make small talk with Karina about the strange nature of coincidence and all the forces at play in the universe that keep our lives strangely intertwined. I tried to act as objectively as possible- not letting on that a part of my desperate drunken self wanted a second round with Karina. I used all my acting powers to portray an image of a man who was too virtuous to be that twin brother who Karina had transgressed with seven years before.

“Are you sure you are not him?” Karina said to me one final time before we separated. All I could do was laugh as if to suggest that she was being ridiculous. I promised her that I would let my brother know that we had met and that I would pass on the information that she was teaching at a high school not far from his. “Well… it was nice to meet you,” Karina said with a strange smile upon her face- taking my hand in hers. For a moment I thought that I felt her hand moving closer to my crotch- but then she let go and walked away.

The Voices Inside My Head

There are so many different voices inside my head, that I have decided to give each one of them a name. I was told today that if I was able to give these voices a name- my thoughts would have less power over me. My inner demons would no longer control me in the same way that they have for the great majority of my life and by naming my inner voices I will begin to win the battle for self control. A man in my current position has little to loose by taking on such a trivial exercise and no matter how cheesy or ridiculous I feel like this move to control myself may be- I am more than willing to give it a try.


One of the more prominent and controlling voices in my head is Hank. Hank is a son of a bitch. He is a bit of a slob and it seems as if all he wants to do is get drunk, go to strip clubs and drive around for endless hours searching for prostitutes. Hank loves women and immediately objectifies them. He wants to do all kinds of perverted things with them and becomes so preoccupied with these perversions that he can think of nothing less. Hank thinks he is very handsome and loves masturbation, pornography and hand jobs. He is willing to gamble away all of his money and relationships on slot machines and whores. Hank loves to read novels, write and pretend that he is someone who he is not. He enjoys hanging out in Asian massage parlors and listening to jazz. Hank is impulsive, angry, seductive and cunning- and if he does not get what he wants he falls into a depression that seeks to punish everyone else around. Good old Hank.


Then there is Eddie. Eddie is a rock star and a cultural icon. He is dark and mysterious and wants people to acknowledge him for the great human being that he is. He is a social and political activist who wants to make music that will start revolutions and empower the powerless to get off their ass and exercise their rights. He is shy and at times a loner but he sees a bit of himself in many great rock icons both alive and dead. Eddie loves to rock out and move his body in seductive ways. He wears his hair long with Levis blue jeans, punk rock t-shirts and an army jacket. Eddie likes to drink beer and wine, smoke an occasional cigarette and dance around in his living room- pretending that he is on a stage in front of thousands of adoring fans. He thinks that working a day job is beneath him and his greater purpose is to be Eddie. Eddie is definitely tooooo cool for school. A true rock God.


I don’t know this voice very well but he is still present in my head. For lack of a better name I will call him Richard. Richard wants to be rich. Whether it be through writing novels, making paintings or being an Entrepreneur- Richard desperately wants to be economically successful at something. Richard tries to be content with the things that he has but he is always longing for nice clothes, a BMW, a modern architecture two bedroom house, two dogs, a mistress and enough money in the bank to register himself at a millionaires club, have a nice wine cellar and never have to work for anyone else again. Richard envies those who have riches and fame and, like most Americans, holds on to the chronic dream that some day he will be one of them. In the meantime Richard tries hard to make people think that he has more money than he really does and comes from a wealthier family than he really does. Richard writes his father emails that say things like “I am unhappy at my job because I am not being payed what I am worth. I really want to make a lot of money so that I can join a country club and afford nice things.” Richard wants to make his father proud by accumulating material possessions. He wants to have children but he is ashamed of what he has not accomplished- but tries to convince himself that he has done enough. Richard is a real mensch.


Lastly there is Randy. Randy is a teenager stuck in an older man’s body. He exists in a perpetual state of fear, anxiety and panic. He fears that the end of his life is always near. Randy feels like a stranger in the world and is yet to figure out what he is going to do with his life. He is gullible and at times naive and is always looking for a way out. He is afraid to fly, drive over a bridge and be to far away from his home. Randy is a hypochondriac who is terrified of loosing control, a neurotic egomaniac who is deeply affected by his own problems. Randy is always broke, unsuccessful, negative and restless.He is loving but dis-honest, insecure and self conscious. Thoughts of impending doom, chronic anxiety, health problems, fear of intimacy and the end of the world scenarios walk with him wherever he goes. He desperately struggles to figure out ways that he can flee from every situation. Randy is a procrastinator, frozen by fear and addicted to fiction. A jack of all trades and a specialist of nothing. Randy should take Paxil.


These are the central voices that rule the inner narrative within my head. There are other voices likeĀ  Lance who longs to be spiritual, vegetarian and meditate every day and Henry who wants to become a red neck, buy shot guns, grow a beer belly and live in a trailer in the country. Now I know that in Buddhism it is said that the voices inside our heads are just projections of our ego. They are illusions, impermanent- and who we really are is immortal and way beyond the idea that we have of ourselves. However, the voices that I listed above are the ones that control my every waking moment. Some are there more than others but none of them am I yet able to turn off like a radio or television set. Each day I struggle to be free from these mental flees, and someday when I finally find a way………………………………..I am afraid, it is then that I will have nothing left to say. I will be peace.

The DJ And The Whore

Every Monday night I used to DJ at a hole in the wall club in downtown Oakland. I would set up my turn table in a dingy red light room and play dark ambient new wave records until 2 a.m. The staff at the club would keep my glass filled with cheap Italian red wine and in return I would draw in a crowd of half a dozen new wavers. For me, I did not mind the lack of a crowd because I was there mainly to listen to my records and get drunk on red wine. I would sit at my turn table and play record after record and wait for the crowd to show.


One Monday evening not too long ago there was a terrible hail storm in downtown Oakland. The streets were filled with dusty rain water and barley any cars were out on the roads. I set up my equipment like I normally did but I was not expecting much of a crowd that evening. It was the bartender and myself and together under a storm of hail we listened to the darkest new wave music I could play. Song after song reminded us of a youth long gone and together we drank red wine and passed the time.


As I was putting another new wave record upon the turn table I noticed a woman, around my age in a tight black dress spinning around on the dance floor. I don’t know from where she came but after watching her effortlessly float around on the dance floor I recognized her as a prostitute I had often seen working the streets. It seemed to me like she was under a spell as she twirled around on the dance floor like a Sufi deep in a mystical prayer. I noticed some semblance of youth that was still left upon her hard working body and I surmised that when she was younger she must of been a devotee to these same sounds. The way she danced reminded me of how I would dance in new wave clubs to bands like The Cure or Flock Of Seagulls. Flinging my hands in a wave like motion and barley moving my shy and under age lower body. Dancing like this was all the rage back in the mid eighties and sometimes I still see people dancing like this to this day.


The bartender and I had nothing better to do but watch her dance for hours. I played song after song hoping that she would not stop because she was making me nostalgic for a time long gone. I remembered myself wearing all black and trying to do my hair like Robert Smith. I remembered the numerous women that I had made out with while listening to Siouxsie And The Banshees and smoking cloves. Now I was twenty five years older and a forlorn DJ without a crowd- and she was a hooker with nowhere else to go.


At two a.m. when it was time to close I told her that I was going to play the final song of the night. “That is enough nostalgia for me tonight, I got to go back to work,” she said wiping the sweat from her fore head. She picked up her long black trench coat from the dance floor and thanked me with the silent movement of her burnt out lips. I nodded my head in acknowledgement and took a sip of my fourth glass of red wine. I asked the bartender if it was still hailing out and he said “I have been stuck in a daze the past few hours watching that chick dance- I don’t even know what day it is.” I went to the front door to check on the hail which had turned to rain and from the corner of my eye I saw the hooker standing still on the street corner, crying- and getting drenched by the rain.

The Cut Out Kid.

Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out for this world. I sit quietly in school board meetings without a thing to say. I am disinterested in the classes that I need to take in order to get my teaching credential. I am bored by bureaucratic or political talk and I have little interest in the professionalism that every one seems to demand from me. Often times I find myself in situations where I say to myself, what the hell am I doing here? The answer is usually- there is nothing else you could do so make the best of it. I am weary of all people who take themselves as seriously as I do- and I know nothing more that I want to do with my life than, read, write, paint , love, sit in the sun and masturbate. Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out for this world.


As a kid I loved to do cut outs. I would cut out pictures of Micheal Jackson, Madonna, Howard Jones, Boris Becker, Ronald Reagan and others and tape them all over the walls of my bedroom. I would position them in strange ways- some standing upside down and others on their backs and sides. My bedroom walls were filled with the multiplicity of conversations between all these various cut outs. I would see Madonna talking to a cut out of Ronald Regan and imagine the conversations that they would have. “Hey Ronny you should loosen up a bit,” Madonna would say and Ronny would reply “like a virgin?” Then Micheal Jackson would get involved and say “hey Ronny don’t tease Madonna..maybe you should just beat it,” and on and on the conversations would go for hours. My parents called me the cut out kid because I would spend entire afternoons locked up in my bedroom making cut outs to put on my wall and at night I would fall asleep to their various interactions. Deep down- even as a kid, I knew I was doing this to create a world of my own, a safer place- since I knew that I would never find my place in the real world.


Now as an adult I try to stay away from doing cut outs. It’s too infectious. Instead it is as if I have become the cut out and my bedroom wall has become the world in which I live. The strange thing is that I can not seem to find a space upon this wall in which I feel like I can fit. Mostly I feel like I am standing in the wrong place or occupying the wrong position- but rarely do I feel as comfortable as the Boris Becker or Sting cut outs upon my wall seemed to look. I long for this sense of comfort and well being- the kind of confident glare that I see in the eyes of my favorite Teachers, Writers, Artists and Musicians. I long to posses that feeling of accomplishment that fills one up with a kind of satiated satisfaction. I keep telling myself that in time I will find my way– but for the time being, when I am stuck in traffic or in boring meetings or loud classrooms- I go through these extreme stages feeling like a cut out who can not find his right place, in this perplexing world.

Panic Attacks And Beer

I had another panic attack today. I normally live with a perpetual feeling of unease and voices in my head that seem to be dead set upon my demise. I think I balance out the weight of my insanity rather sanely but sometimes the voices of impending doom and the unease get the best of me. I have diligently battled this tempestual condition for most of my life. As I age I am becoming more convinced that it is the stain of a mental illness that cohabitates with my mind. I am beset with tragic thoughts most of my day and an undulating, tremor like anxiety has been with me since I was born. Beer (which I am currently downing) is the only substance that seems to set my mind at ease and after today’s attack all I could do to reconcile my horror was drink.


I am coming to depend upon beer more and more to deal with my anxiety. For many years I induced a constant state of somnolence and weight gain by taking Paxil (psychiatric medication) along with smoking ravenous amounts of weed. I stole enlightening fragments from the sun by spending the majority of my days reading philosophy and hanging out in strip clubs. However- my mental illness refused to diminish. It has merely taken on different forms and angles, redressing itself like a Sphinx or a yokel who decides it is time for a fashion change. My wife is at the point where she is so alarmed by my perpetual state of fear and trembling that she is insisting that I seek out treatment and find a way to live a normal life uninhibited by constant fear.


Like a drunkard who drinks too much wine my negative thoughts consume me on a daily basis. The terror is not of my own making but comes from several voices that sound of in my head when they are least welcome. These voices are as hard to get rid of as my bad back and it seems that with each passing day they climb that much farther into my subconscious. It has gotten to the point where I am unable to feel comfortable doing any activity that involves getting my heart rate up or involves being confined (flying, driving, bridges, etc.,). Some may suggest that what I am is Agoraphobic or obsessive compulsive but neither of these clinical diagnosis works for me. I am a man haunted by my own thoughts of mortality and trapped by my mortal body. I look at other people with the envy of a sinner sentenced to an eternity in hell. I envy their effortlessness, their complete absence of a thought about their own mortality. I long for a day when I can go for a run or a bike ride and feel free, but for now- the only way out of my anxiety and into the experience of joy and fearlessness seems to be through beer. I take beer with me wherever I go like a Shepperd his flock or a Preacher his bible- and I am rarely comfortable without a can of beer by my side.


I am well aware that living with this Faustian monster in my head is no way to spend ones days upon earth. I am also aware the my condition is exasperated by the very beer that I have come to depend upon for relief. When one is stuck in a coal mine what do they do? Try to break free with all their might or sit calm and wait for assistance to come? Unfortunately the way my brain is wired is to immediately try to break free, kicking and screaming, and find some salvation for my life which feels like it is in jeopardy. A panic attack is no fine wine, rather it is a rancid milk that leaves one ravaged and tethered. Rather than sitting calm and waiting for help to come- my brain triggers a flight response that desperately searches for the nearest liquor store so that I can drink my way out from fear.

To Be Continued.