On Turning My F_____G Television Permanently Off

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

On Turning My F_____G Television Permanently Off

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

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

Yeah, yeah, yeah…

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Smilist

In the past month I have seen numerous people flip others off, a woman kick another woman’s dog, a group of teenagers pick on a very young boy and two construction workers pin a well dressed man up against the wall. I have heard people constantly judging one another, talking critically about each other and cursing each other. When I turn on the television (which is not often) I am met with gun fire, explosions, blood, fighting and a whole digital community of unhappiness and war. It seems to me like Dante’s Inferno can now be accessed through the television. As a result of all this brutality and negativity the smile seems to have become extinct. For weeks I have been paying attention to smiling. I look for it on people’s faces in the same way a hunter would search for its prey. I must say that if I cared enough about this I would take immediate action and have the smile added to the list of endangered species. With the economic recession, environmental catastrophe, continuous wars and mind-boggling epidemics of starvation- it makes sense to me that the smile would be the first thing to go.

In my search for a smile (it does not even have to be a smile, I will take a half-smile) I loitered around downtown city centers. I sat on benches or out front of cafe’s and spent hours observing people as they passed by. Other than being a bit unsettled by the trance like state that the majority of people seem to walk through their life in, a smile was as difficult to find as a good lover. When I did see a person with a smile on their face it warmed my heart and gave me hope for a future that was not hopeless, broke, downtrodden, defeated and without joy. But these smiles were few and far between and normally only lasted for a few seconds.

I understand that we are living through difficult times. In searching for smiles on people’s faces I am witnessing the fundamental tenet of Western philosophy play itself out- as within, so without or the macrocosm is always reflected in the microcosm. The lack of smiles on people’s faces are simply a reflection of all the breakdowns we are experiencing in our world. Knowing this it feels difficult for me to do nothing. I to have given into the lazy pleasures of negativity and grinning. I to have been walking around with a metaphorical brick upon my back. I to have become cynical about everything, even my own life. So to combat this metaphysical crisis I bought myself a white suit, a white hat and decided to force a smile on my face.

It was the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh who said that if we make ourselves smile, even when we do not feel like it, that smile will release certain chemicals in our brain that will make us feel better. He also said that smiling is contagious. So in an act of protest against the epidemic of depression, stress, worry and generalized negativity disorder I decided that for one week I would put on my white suit, my white hat, go downtown and walk around with a smile tattooed on my face.

I smiled at everyone. Every passer-by I attempted to make eye contact with. My intention was to smile into their eyes. I sat on benches, crossed my legs and smiled at people as they walked by. I walked slowly through various downtown city centers and tried to wipe the unhappiness off of people’s faces with my smile. I smiled at dogs. I smiled at police officers. I smiled at my reflection in the shop windows as I passed by. I smiled at passengers in cars and I smiled at every person on a bicycle. My smile did not discriminate. My smile was not prejudiced. My smile saw every living being as equal and I desperately wanted to save the smile from extinction. The only problem I ran into was that no one smiled back.

Many doctors and scientists will tell you that most systemic infections are very difficult to kill. Once these infections sprout in their host, the body in which the infection dwells forgets what it was like to live without the infection. These are why some infections become so life threatening- they alter the entire environment in which they dwell and gradual colonize the entire body. Infections of the mind and spirit such as negativity, worry, depression, despair, dis-satisfaction, self-hatred, etc., can be very difficult to defeat with a smile. The grin or the long face settles like stone onto its host. A smile is a huge threat to the grin. The grin wants to destroy the smile, it is agitated by the smile and will do anything to not be reminded of the happiness that could threaten its place upon the face. I do not know if it was my white suit that angered certain people, my smile or maybe a combination of both but I was sadly surprised by the kind of response a simple smile could get.

“Fag,” “pervert,” “psycho,” “weirdo,” “freak,” “mental patient” and “homo” where just a few words that were reactively hurled my way. After the fourth day of walking around downtown in my white suit and smiling I was questioned by the police for what they called “my suspicious behavior.” They asked me what I did for a job, where I lived, why I was just wondering around downtown all day? They even asked me if I was affiliated with any religious groups, trying to see if there was a possible terrorist connection. On the fifth day a few people threw things at me. One lady who I smiled at threw her vanilla frozen yogurt all over my white suit. The more I smiled, it seemed as if the more I was triggering the beast. On my last day of walking around downtown with a smile upon my face I was so distraught about how much anger and fear a simple smile could elicit that by noon I was sitting alone on a bar stool already drunk. I will never forget my long walk home that afternoon. It was a defeated walk. A sad walk. A walk in which I had to come to terms with the fact that misery loves company and it seemed as if I was no longer a part of “the tribe.” I felt alone, isolated. I walked slowly, drunkenly with the yogurt stain upon my lapel. I cried and I laughed but I never stopped smiling. Not until I got home.

I still smile. However, the white suit hangs in my closet and I am done playing the role of the smilist. Maybe Darwin was right and I need to adapt or perish. Maybe the race of humans that I belong to is becoming an unhappy race of people who have no use for a smile? Whatever the case may be I now know that smiling can put my own safety at risk so I try not to do it as frequently. When I am home alone I smile. I smile in the shower and I smile in my backyard. I smile when I watch the wind rustle through the trees and I smile when I watch my dog prance around. My smile is a genuine smile- a smile that is not afraid to be happy simply to be alive. But when I go out I try and keep my smile to myself. I don’t grin but I do not smile either. I have found a comfortable position in which to keep my lips that is half way between a smile and a grin. I am adapting but not giving in.

A Blogger In Chains

I know that there are chains. I can feel them and here them and at times I can taste them. There seems not another living soul but me who can notice these chains- but I will not allow their limited perception to make me mad. I know that the chains are there and not a single soul can change my mind. No spiritual guru or psychotherapist can convince me that there is no shackle wrapped around my ankles and no chains dragging behind my feet. They are there and this is an unarguable fact- but what can be done about this “condition” is certainly up for discussion.

I only confess this “condition” of mine because I have notice that I share it with my fellow human kind. Every place I go and upon every one I know I can see these shackles and chains dangling from wrists, ankles and sometimes neck. The individual who is wrapped in chains seems seldom to realize that they are walking around with a great weight. Rather they stay distracted by preoccupations that seems to anesthetize any feeling of physical bondage. Is not this the role of modern technological gadgets (television, ipods, computers, cars and on and on), to make us numb? I am uncertain what is to be done, because when I talk about my chains with colleagues over coffee- I receive nothing but a blank stare that seems to suggest that I may be crazy. The more time I spend at work or thinking about the world- the more I can feel the weight of my chains.

I am not the first to mention this “condition.” The French religious philosopher Pascal did so as well. He wrote “we live between the weight of shackles, seldom aware that they restrict not only our physical bodies but also our spiritual aspirations.” I have visited with many spiritual counselors and healers in regards to my “condition.” I have been counseled by the best and the answer is always the same. “Yes, we live in chains- but it is the physical body which is contained. We can choose to be free in our thought by not getting attached to anything, by remaining free from thought.” How can I not think? This is the question that I always ask. I love thinking and trying to understand the nature of existence is what I do for a living (unpaid). I have worked hard to develop the quality of thoughts that I have- even if they often cause me a great deal of suffering. I have refined my thoughts by reading and writing religiously. Thought is the one great enjoyment that I indulge in every day. How I am supposed to live without thoughts when thought is the one thing that makes me feel civilized?

“Do not attach to your thoughts. Do not identify with your thoughts- just let them pass away into the universe. Everything is impermanent…even your shackles and chains,” one spiritual guru told me when I went out to his farm for an hour session. I spent over a hundred dollars to be counselled in how to break free from my thoughts. “It is your thought that creates the chains and it is your thoughts that can set you free,” were his final words to me. Granted, when I left the farm I felt lighter- less inconvenienced by my chains. I was out of the city, in nature and for the first time in a while I felt as if I could breathe. I was confused by what I was told by the spiritual guru- but I ascertained a glimmer of hope that I could be free. The moment I walked through the front door of my home and saw a credit card bill, phone bill, and insurance bill awaiting me upon my table- the great weight returned. I felt the chains slowly wrapping themselves around my wrists and ankles like a serpent. They worked their way up towards my neck and threatened to cut off my oxygen. As I walked towards the bathroom I kept on telling myself “do not think about it, do not think!!”- but my attempts were futile because the loud sound of the chains dragging along on the hardwood hallway floor convinced me that they are real.

The Stranger

I was almost arrested for being a stranger in my own neighborhood. I had failed to notice before today the sign postings which say “Neighborhood Watch: Please Report Any Suspicious Behavior Or Persons To The Police Department.” I have a tendency to walk with my eyes plastered to the ground rather than staring at the sky. As a child my father would always tell me to keep my chin up.

I have been spending a large majority of time inside the confines of my home. My wife had noticed that I was wearing the same outfit at dinner time that I had slept in the night before. I was feeling out of shape, depressed and concerned about a lingering arrhythmia that I have been noticing in my chest. After dinner I told my wife that I needed to go for a walk. “But it is freezing cold outside,” she replied- to which, I responded “the cold ain’t gonna be what kills me baby.”

I am a tall man. Almost six foot seven to be exact. I have long hair and a strangely long and asymmetrical face. My nose is almost the size of my feet and I have arms which are droopy and mis-proportioned to the rest of my body. I dressed in many layers, stuck on a ski hat which covered my elfin ears and headed out into the great outdoors.

The neighborhood was quiet. Deep in the distance I cold hear cold fog horns. There was an icy bucolic feeling which hung around in the air. Christmas ornaments and lights filled the windows with a strange surreal quality. Inside families seemed to be warm and tragically in love with their lives. I on the other hand was rubbing my hands together for warmth and feeling the alienation that a Jewish man feels around the time of Christmas. I walked slowly, trying to be present with my breath. My footsteps sounded to me like muted knocks against a castle door. I wanted to walk for enough time that it would take the cold to freeze all my problems.

There is a Buddhist mantra that I recite whenever I feel the need. To warm up my lungs and blood I decided to recite the mantra as I walked. Om Mani Padme Hum. I sang this mantra over and over as I walked along, forgetting about time and the loudness of my voice. As soon as I began to forget about the cold I felt the warmth of a white light engulfing my entire body. I turned around and saw the multi-colored lights of a police car flashing and coming directly toward me.

“Sir, can you please step over to the side of the sidewalk and take your hands out from your pocket,” one officer said as he walked toward me with his left hand on the handle of his gun. Another officer stood by the passenger side of the police car shinning a bright flash light directly into my eyes. “What seems to be the problem officer,” I said as I covered my eyes with my hands. “Sir keep your hands by your side,” the officer said to me as he approached where I was standing.

“What are you up to this evening sir,” he said with an official tone of authority. I wanted to say what damn business is it to you what I am up to, this is America and in a free country I have a right to be up to whatever I want without having to tell some low ranking man in a silly uniform what I am up to. “I’m just out for a walk officer,” I said too afraid to express my real feelings. “Do you live around here sir?” What business is that of yours, “Yes, sir I live a few blocks over with my wife and cat.” He looked at me from foot to head as if there was something that he found suspicious about my person- beside my unusual height. “Why are you out for a walk when it is freezing cold outside?” he asked getting a little closer to me. “Because I spend too much time inside.”

I could hear on the police radio a female voice saying that there was a domestic abuse complaint called in on Harrison street. Harrison street was only two blocks from where we were. “Don’t you think you should respond to that since it is so close,” I said suggesting that I was an innocent man out for a harmless walk. “Sir, you need not tell us how to do our jobs,” he said with a tone of contempt in his voice. My tax dollars go toward paying your salary but I can’t tell you how to do your job? I wanted to say but kept the peace. “Can I see some form of identification?” the officer then proceeded to ask.

This reminded me of times in Nazi Germany or any Fascist country when you would be out on a walk minding your own business and an officer would approach you and ask to see your papers. “Why do you need to see my identification,” I asked. “We received a complaint from a home owner in the area who said you were acting and looked suspicious.” “Suspicious?” I replied surprised by what I had just heard. “Look, I live in the neighborhood and have just come out for a leisurely stroll.” “That is all and good sir but can you prove to me that you live in the area and that you are who you say you are,” he said not wanting to let me go. “I did not bring any identification with me.”

The officer than proceeded to pull out pen and a piece of paper and asked me for my name and address plus my drivers license number if I had it. The other officer continued to stand by the car door holding the flash light pointing directly at me. “What is this, am I a stranger in my own neighborhood!!” I asked frantically. But the officer stood there waiting to take down my info.

Across the street, behind the Christmas lights I noticed faces staring out from the warmth of their homes watching the events that where taking place. I was the central protagonist in this realer than real Reality television program. I was the stranger in my own neighborhood.

“He is cleared,” the officer holding the flashlight said as he got confirmation of my identity from the operator. I had given them all the info that they wanted so that I could get out of this humiliating situation. The officer who was standing closest to me said “you are free to go but if you could keep your voice down while you are walking around we would appreciate it.” “Keep my voice down?” “Yes sir, the home owner said that there was a really tall man walking around singing loudly in some kind of tongue language.” “I, I was……,” but I decided to forget it and not even try to explain. “Have a nice evening sir, and make sure you don’t stay in the cold for too long,” he said returning back to his police mobile. Like the law really cares about my well being, I thought. I stood there in a kind of silent stupefaction trying to process what just went on as I watched the police car race off down the street to answer the next call of duty. As soon as the police car disappeared, so did the curious faces behind Christmas lit windows.

I had forgotten about the cold, forgotten about my pain, forgotten about everything that had seemed so important to me not more than twenty minutes before. I walked home as quickly as my nimble legs would allow. Who could the home owner that reported me be, I kept saying over and over to myself looking in the windows of strangers homes seeing if anyone looked like a possible candidate. When I finally arrived back in the warmth of my dimly lit home my wife came out and said, “what took you so long I thought you had frozen to death or gotten arrested.”

A Meditation On The Art Of Blogging

“To be is to be perceived.”George Berkeley (1685-1753)

The blog has no beginning and no end. It occupies a gray, formless limbo into which the hero passes at death. The place is probably the inside of his/her distant skull where he/she is bound in time and words.

The “I” that writes is a voice inescapably perceiving its own continuance, the voice of the creature who has been concealed behind and spoken through a computer. He/she slips into the blog with the hopes of learning something about his/her self.

Words are supposed to imprison the infinite, the solution has never been more desperately needed, it has never seemed more impossible. What emerges from this “I” attempt is fragments: chips of meaning, short descriptions, changes of direction, stories rapidly abandoned, all vomited out into a whole that defies the restraining techniques of criticism.

The blog views man/woman and the word as valueless- a zero.

At one point the blogger compares himself/herself to Prometheus- in whose exile he/she notices certain similarities. But the blogger insists that “between me and the miscreant who mocked the Gods, invented fire, denatured clay, and domesticated the horse, in a word obliged humanity, I trust there is nothing in common between us.” Blogging like knowledge, is only a way of multiplying the zeros.

The blogger believes that time is circular, without beginning or end but with repetitions continued into eternity, and each revolution of a blog entry separates one cycle from another. Thus it is conceivable that he/she should exist, excluded from the infinite, within eternity itself.

The blogger dissociates him/herself from him/herself by creating blog entries resulting in a culmination which is an attempt to eliminate everything that is superfluous to the self. The blogger is a “tiny blur in the depths of a computer screen,” pure existence which lacks an authentic relationship. Being looked at is fundamental to human relationships. When looked at we become an object that is definitely located within space and time. “I” exist though unknowable to myself because the other perceives me. Therefore since the blogger can not be perceived he/she suffers the subjective isolation (perpetual dissatisfaction)/freedom- which is the art of being “inconceivable.”

Screeming For Freedom In New Orleans.

I have been appalled lately by these billboards that I am seeing all around that say “New Orleans, The City Where Anything Goes!” These advertisments are brought to you by your better tourist bureau who is basically trying to create enough revenue to turn OLD Orleans into a modern day NEW theme park. It’s a simple ingredient and it has been made in various cities such as New York and San Fransisco and soon to come in Baghdad. Remove the elements of diversity and culture from the city (gentrification) and bring in big business which will create a clean corporate mono culture. A city safe enough for tourism. Clean enough to eat off of the streets. But lets not be fooled. It is no longer a city (which means a diverse economic and culture population of people all co-existing together in a small space)- it is more like a simulation of a city which is a simulation of a corporate think tank on how to turn the citizens into consumers. Our cities are becoming occupied by the forces of greed.

No better place can this be currently seen than in New Orleans. Just today, what took place could not be a better demonstration of the workings of this corporate restructuring. A large croup of citizens all gathered together to raise their voices about a particular issue that was being debated by the city council. They patiently waited outside while city officials decided their fates inside. The irony is that what was going on inside had nothing to do with what was going on outside (this is a symbol of the split between government and people).

Inside the city council was debating whether or not to tear down large amounts of public housing. Thousands of citizens in New Orleans have been without housing since Hurricane Katrina and thousands more have been living in trailers without running water or electricity. On the outside the crowd was gathered together not only to protest the moral authority of a body politic that would even think about tearing down public housing when so many have not even had housing for so long. They were also protesting the utter destruction of their quality of life and the constant neglect that is the result of a corporate occupation of a city. They are fighting for the very substance and survival of the city that they love and are being systematically cleansed from.

Police officers, growing wherry of the large crowd that was gathering tried to control the situation through a means that only made the frustration of the crowd turn to anger. “They are tired of being controlled and manipulated into submission by strangers who claim to be the authorities,” one activist/friend said who called my from the event. “They are a people that feel as if they are being ethnically cleansed from their city. They feel that they have a right to be a part of any decision making process that involves their fate,” he said before hanging up the phone because things were heating up. Gathering together their human dignity they pushed through the barriers that the police erected and attempted to make their was into the city council meeting (in case it is not obvious to you, the majority in the crowd where African American).

Those unlucky enough to be in the front lines were wrestled to the ground, hit with police clubs and “electrocuted” by police who were committed to violating the human rights of American citizens. Watching this sad scene on my computer I felt as if I was watching footage from the civil rights clashes of the fifties and sixties.

What we need in this country is a new civil rights movement. A commitment to apprehend power from corporations who are stripping each and every one of us of our freedom (did you know that over 300,000 American citizens go to Tijuana every year for medical care because they can not get it in America). The citizens of this country are viewed as tools to maximize profits for corporations (this is what education has become- an organized system the trains students to become workers, or maximizers of profit. No wonder our educational system is in crisis) and if they can not do this are “washed out of the city,” as one citizen said who was apart of todays peaceful turned violent gathering. “What is happening in New Orleans is a symbol of that which is taking place in all of our souls. Anything that is diverse and unique is being flushed out and turned into a corporate ethos which turns human beings into classified consumers,” said my Buddhist Teacher when I talked to him about todays events.

If we continue to allow what is going on in New Orleans to continue we are allowing the corporate take over of our very souls. We are allowing injustice to become the norm and allowing innocent people around the world to be displaced and murdered in the name of Democracy and Freedom. Yes, I am bothered every time I see a billboard on the side of the road that says “New Orleans, The City Where Anything Goes!!” It is a blatant lie and an assault on our intelligence. Yes, I suppose anything goes in New Orleans, unless you are poor, neglected, displaced, sick, American and screaming out for freedom.

Sex Life Of A Man Without One #4

  It is raining out. There is a calm contentment in my chest. The air is pleasant to breathe and I am home alone. I was looking at clever erotic adds on the internet- “Sexy Freak 4You” “Young And Eager To Please” and as I was going through the adds my wife called to tell me that she loved me. She also told me about a new form of therapy, called EFT, which she thought might be good for me. I was in a bit of a hurry to get off the phone because I felt guilty about the naked brown haired lady spreading her legs on my computer screen. This throbbing lust seems to rarely leave me alone.

Last night I decided to venture out into the city on my own. I parked my car and wondered around the Tenderloin. It was drizzling. There is something magical about a city when it is raining. I met all sorts of characters from the streets, including a man with a moving nipple (whom I will talk about at length some other time). I sat in a dark smoky bar and drank ginger ale and decided that my body could benefit from an Asian Massage.

I had been thinking about doing this a lot recently but I was always unwilling to spend the hard earned money. However I was able to sell a few paintings the other day for a large sum of money- so I decided to celebrate.

Next door to the bar was a joint called “The Sun Spa.” I rang the rusty buzzer and was greeted by an older Asian lady dressed in a white dress. She offered me a cup of tea but I declined. I was shaking and a bit apprehensive about the situation I was walking into. “Did I really need to do this,” one half of my brain said while the other half shouted, “Yes…Move forward and Relax!” A line of scantily dressed Asian women lined up before me and I was told to pick which one I wanted. It was a hard decision to make because my anxiety would not allow me to see straight. The ginger ale rumbled around in my stomach as one of the girls said, “he is so tall and looks like a movie star.” I thanked her but she giggled and looked down at the ground.

I choose a woman who was dressed in black gown, which revealed her nicely shaped breasts, which hung like adornments from her chest. Her hair was black and straight and pulled back into a ponytail. She took my hand and lead me down a long hallway and into a red neon lit room. She went over to the shower in the corner and turned it on. “You like water hot?” she asked me in a high-pitched accent. “I do,” I said as I took off my pants. There was a small mattress on the floor covered with clean white sheets. Floor to ceiling mirrors surrounded the room and there was a long bar which hung down over the bed. By the side of the bed I noticed a table with all kinds of lotions and towels.

“You shower and I be back soon.” I did what she said and washed myself well from head to foot. I could feel my heart rapidly beating and I started to think about “what if I dropped dead now and my body was found in a massage parlor. What would my wife and family think!!” This thought made me even more anxious so I quickly washed the soap off my body and stepped out from the shower.

I wrapped a towel around my waist and sat on the side of the mattress awaiting the masseuse’s return. She came back into the room holding more towels and a cup of tea. She offered the tea to me and said, “I noticed you shaking, tea help you calm down.” She then set down the towels and told me to go ahead and lie on my stomach…., which I did.

I was starting to feel more relaxed as she walked on my back holding herself steady with the bar hanging over the bed. She walked up and down my spine saying “do you hurt” “is this okay” and beneath the pressure of her weight all I could do was say “yes…fine…fine…” I looked in the mirror and watched her hourglass shape walk up and down the length of my anxious body.

She then rubbed baby oil all over my legs, back and arms. She asked me if it felt good and I then asked her what her name was. “Amy, I know next you asked me where I from,” she said in broken English. “Yes, where are you from?” “Vietnam.” She continued to gently rub my arms which created a release of stress so great that I was finally able to be very comfortable in the present moment. She pulled on my fingers and toes, pounded my back (which made me burp) and did some sort of acupressure on the bottom of my feet, which made me laugh. “You ticklish?” she asked with a smile. “Very,” I replied.

She massaged my legs and testicles and stuck her fingers between my butt checks. I was not sure how to respond to this but it felt good so I let out a little mone of pleasure. “You like balls rubbed?” I took a deep breath, how was I to respond other than to say, “it feels very nice, thank you.”

While she continued to massage my body we had a small conversation. She told me that she comes to San Francisco for a few months a year to work for weeks straight earning enough money to return home and support her family. Her mother is dying and her father she said died at a very young age. I began to feel the guilt come over me but I stopped it as soon as she took off her clothes and asked me to turn over.

My heart began to rapidly beat again. This was the first time I had been in the presence of a beautiful naked body in some time. My first reaction was to reach out and touch her breasts but I was able to hold my self back. My erection was so strong that when she grabbed my penis in her hand and bent over to whisper in my ear “do you want to have fun with me?” I had an orgasm. I had lost all ability to restrain the biological impulse to cumm. It was something that happened without my own awareness, like the explosion of a valve. She was surprised when she noticed what was happening and let out a whooping, “mmyyyy gossshhh so quick!!!” I apologized profusely for my ”accident” and all she could do was look at me and say “you no have sex in long long time.” I shook my head and said, “no long long time.”

Amy was incredibly generous. She cleaned me up and led me back into the shower where I could get the residual sperm off my body. While I was in the shower she changed the sheets and told me maybe next time if I come back I would do better. All I wanted to do was get out of there and return to the bar and drink more ginger ale.

While I was dressing, she sat on the side of the bed and stared at the clock. “You still have ten minutes left,” she said. “It’s okay I feel good,” I replied for lack of something interesting to say. I then asked her how many times a day she has sex with men. “I have sex with ten to twelve men every day. Some days like today are good day. I see twelve men but today a few men like you. They cumm so fast, so no sex. Usually men stick penis in me and cumm fast, so no big deal. But sometime men take to long and it hurt.” I was surprised. “You have sex with that many men every day?” Yes,” she said with a sad giggle. “How many days in a row?” I asked. “I work for three weeks straight and take five day off. I do this for two or three months and then go back home to my family.” “That’s a lot of sex,” I said. “I know but its okay, I am young and like sex.” “How old are you?” She got up from the side of the mattress took the dirty towels from me and said without looking me in the eye, “twenty four.” I did not believe her.

She led me by the hand back down the hallway. I walked behind her looking at all the fish tanks filled with various kinds of fish and statues of Asian deities. I had not noticed this on my way in. I was more relaxed now and felt a calmness that only comes after the release of sperm. There was not an ounce of longing or lust present in my body. I was a man at peace.

She opened the gated door for me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “ You such a nice man, make sure you come back soon…and have more sex with wife!!” I walked out onto the street and was trying to figure out how she knew I had a wife. Then I noticed that I was still wearing my wedding ring. I returned to the bar and drank ginger ale and watched a fat elderly man fall asleep on the bar with a cigarette in his mouth. In the corner two lovers kissed and smoked cigarettes. They were very thin and looked as if they had not eaten for days. I wondered if what I had just done could be considered cheating and the answer to that I am still as of yet unable to come up with. All I know is that as I am writing this I feel calm, all except for the lust that has returned. I know it is only a matter of time before my lust takes control of me once again.

“This Could Be Madness.”

I have been painting for over twenty years and now when I am done doing so I have a plethora of unsettling symptoms. I get dizzy, my lips stick together, short term memory loss, headache, chest pains and a general feeling of being poisoned. I have tried a respirator (but I feel claustrophobic and sometimes will get a panic attack). I paint with all my windows open, even though it is ice cold outside. I have tried everything from switching to using acrylic paint to painting with watercolor. But this will not work. I live in a world that has gone mad. People communicate in a detached manner and barely know the person they sleep with. The sky is turning black and the air we breath is filled with so many carcinogens that we should all be wearing respirators. The frightening thing is that most pretend as if nothing unusual is happening. No, as an artist it is my responsibility to depict the nature of the times we are living through with whatever means necessary. If it means poisoning myself with my materials, so be it- extreme times call for extreme measures.

Van Gogh experienced similar symptoms which lead to his madness. It is obvious that the man was poisoned by paint. In his letters to Theo he talks about how he was feeling dizzy, lightheaded and a cacophony of other symptoms. He also talked at great lengths of developing loss of self. The same loss that I believe myself to be developing. But I do not know if this is because of the paint I am inhaling or the world in which I am living.

I went to consult a Homeopath, an Allergy Specialist, a Chiropractor and a Somatic healer. All had various things to say about my condition, and all were helpful in various ways but I still feel this deep sense that I am loosing myself. So I decided to consult a Buddhist Teacher and what he said made sense.

“Our culture poses the ultimate threat to not only planetary life, but to all human beings that live within this eco-system. We are deploying the five-horsemen of our immanent man made apocalypse; population explosion, epidemic disease, unlivable pollution, resource depletion and wars of mass destruction. The urgent need, therefore, is that we bearers of this imbalanced, dis-connection culture rediscover our interconnection with the rest of life, to conquer our own inner negative habits and to cultivate our inner capacity for love and joy. Sometimes we need to loose ourselves before we can do this.”

So I have felt better. Even though my loss of self may be attributed to paint fumes rather than spiritual encomium. I must continue, despite the numerous disabling symptoms, to paint- but I have warned others that if they see me walking around without an ear to immediately take away the paint and call the nearest psychiatric hospital.

Sex Life Of A Man Without One #3

Now look. I do not always remember things being this difficult. I once had a sex life and it was quite prodigious. I had girl friends, mistresses, prostitutes and strangers all engaging me in my various fantasies. When I look back on my twenties I am reminded of a passionate commitment to indulge myself as much as possible through the sexual act. I was a young man obsessed with ovaries, estrogen, clitoral crura, vagina, uterus, glans clitoris, labia, vulva, pereneal urethra, hips, rounded jaw, buttocks, thighs, boobies- basically all things female.

But as I have moved into my thirties, something has shifted. It is almost like when you ferment a pickle, its entire biological and physiological structure shifts. It trans mutates into something chemically different than it was before. This is what has happened as I have grown older.

The more I feel as if I have gained control over my sexual whims the less I seem to comprehend the core of my sexuality. This core is beginning to fill with rust and starting to control its subject without asking me first. I feel like a victim of my own repressed sexual drives which are starting to manifest in peculiar ways.

I started sleep walking shortly before I was married. I was found across the street by my neighbors who said that I was ringing their doorbell yelling out for “hot footsies.” I do not know exactly what this means but my psychoanalyst told me it could be related to a repressed fetish that I have for feet. I disagreed with her but then I remembered a time when I was in college and I had a fellow student stick her large toe up my anus. We were drunk and had done everything else “sexual” together. This idea came into my head only because she had a particularly long big toe. It was long enough that she was able to write my name on my chest in fine cursive with a pen and her left foot.

After I was found yelling “hot footsies,” on my neighbors porch- my neighbor and I began avoiding one another. It seemed as if they became afraid of the “strange man across the street.” Then another episode occurred. About a year ago I was pulled over by a police officer at 4 a.m. while sleep driving in the nude. I was violently awoken by the sound of the sirens and the flashing lights. Shock, would be the only word that I could think of that could describe my reaction to finding myself driving my wife’s car in the nude. I immediately stepped on the brakes which caused the police officer to rear end me. I was frantic and tried to explain to him that “I had no idea what I was doing, I have a sleep disorder!!” The officer looked at me as I stood in the early morning suburban street in the nude pleading with him to take me home. The officer was bereft at how to respond to this so he parked my car on the side of the street and drove me back home. The following morning my wife received a phone call from the police department recommending that I receive psychiatric attention and that she hold on to my car keys.

My psychoanalyst was certain that these episodes of what she called noctambulism had something to do with my sex drive which she felt was being locked up behind bars. I needed to find ways to set it free with my wife, or at least with my wife’s permission. So I asked my wife how she would feel if I received a hand-job from a prostitute, got a lap dance at a strip club or had a little tiny affair and the conversation was one of the shortest we had ever had. “If you do sexual things with other women, why can’t you do them with me?” What was I to say to this? I had no answer.

The episodes seem to halt for the past few months. My wife had found me taking a shower dressed in a t-shirt with a picture of Sigmund Freud on the front (this was the t-shirt I felt most comfortable sleeping in). Other than this and a few minor episodes, no great sleep walking ordeals had occurred until last night.

I woke up when I landed on the floor, beside the bed. I noticed that I was again naked (which was strange because I went to be with my Sigmund Freud t-shirt and sweat pants on). My wife was standing above me in her black night gown yelling with a gasping and bitter tone in her voice “what are you thinking, what is it you are thinking!!!” I did not know how to respond because I did not know how I ended up naked on the floor. I looked at the clock which said 3:13 a.m. I recalled glimpses of a dream where a strange middle aged women was showing me her finely trimmed pubic hair and asking me over and over “do you like it?” I was puzzled. Dreams and my wife’s pleas where spinning around in my brain. When I asked her what happened she yelled back in tears, “you were humping me in your sleep!!”
Today my wife and I went to a Somnambular sleep clinic where they treat various sleep disorders. My wife told the Doctor and I that she was awoken by me thrusting my penis in between her thighs. She sleeps on her stomach so I was lying on back of her, humping her in between her thighs. “It was like being molested by a dog,” she told the Doctor. I sat there holding her hand and silently felt the consequences of being a man without a sex life. We left the clinic an hour later with prescription medication and the recommendation that I masturbate every evening before going to sleep.

No One Ever Dies From Marijuana?

You may or may not want to know this, but I thought I would tell you that I am writing this essay in my underwear. You see I feel more room to write when I am not restricted by the confines of clothes. I also feel less inclined to be dishonest in my writing because I feel less restricted by the false impression that clothes can give. I woke up this morning remembering my long-lived love affair with marijuana. I have not revisited the neural delights of the cannabis plant in some time but this morning it was as if I longed for a rekindled encounter with my longest-lived-love affair. This encounter could be more easily referred to as a quickie. The only way that I felt I could deal with this nostalgic rumination which was slowly turning into longing, was to climb out from bed and without changing into more formal attire write an abbreviated essay in response to a much decried postulate that I often attested to. You cannot die from smoking Marijuana, right?


My love affair began haphazardly in 1987 without any formal planning. It was a love affair that was not fiery and passionate from the get-0-go, but rather slowly developing and refining until it was solidified into a sure thing. I was in my junior year of “high” school and attended my first rock concert (without parental escorts) at the Fillmore in San Francisco. I was excited and nervous about seeing Jane’s Addiction play, whom I believed had revived rock and roll out from the slumber of the leg warming eighties. My friends and I grabbed an opportune location from which to watch the band play on the balcony directly above the stage. We stood in anticipation for the forthcoming show like rabbits anticipating organically grown carrots. The excitement that I felt still makes goose bumps rise on my thinning scalp.


Behind us we heard a loud banging followed by high-pitched yelling. My friends and I shyly turned around and noticed what looked like a gypsy caravan. A long faced fellow with rainbow colored braids, black beaded turkey neck covered in crucifixes; wearing tall black sewage boots and a red plastic coat used by sausage workers, pounded on the backstage door. Beside him was a shorter young adolescent who looked like a duplicate copy of him self but had many more holes and metals in her ears, chin and nose. Saying, “I can’t believe it!” besides the two of them was a tattooed and tall lank of a young man with bleached blond stocks of hay for hair and big enough eyes to see God with.


Turned out that the three locked out castaways happened to be Perry Ferrell (the lead singer for Jane’s Addiction), his then girl friend Casey and the bass player for Jane’s Addiction, Eric Avery. They were locked out from back stage and I was witnessing a moment that would be written in the historical annals of my life. Perry kept yelling “come on man let us in, the shows gotta begin, come on man!” while pounding on the door with a hand covered in rings, painted black nails and bruise marks. Occasionally he would look over at me and smile like a child trying to be coy and hide embarrassment. That smile has been tattooed on my brain.
I was a small town boy never having seen or imagined seeing my idols close up in the flesh. In my high school at the time Jane’s Addiction was the biggest thing since Def Leopard or Duran Duran. When someone finally came and opened up the back stage door, Perry handed me a joint and said, here kid, take this. I almost wet my pants as I extended my numb and star struck arm to take the joint from his hand. For me it was like that Michelangelo painting where Adam reaches out for the hand of God. It was the end of my innocence.
My friends and I jumped up and down with idiotic youthful glee. I looked at the joint as if it was Achilles’ sword or a sacrament, put it to my lips, inhaling deeply: solidifying my connection to not only Perry Ferrell but also marijuana.


The show was the most hallucinatory, carnivalesque not really real but seeing it with my own eyes experience this small town boy had ever imagined being possible. I spent the majority of my remaining high school days stoned, attempting to re-kindle the neural lights that were compelled into synapses by the Jane’s Addiction extravaganza. I started to dress like Perry Ferrell, and as a consequence was often beat up by red neck cow kids who ripped out my purple braids and forced me to go home and change. They would not stop me because I was high.


Every love affair has that single moment where the course of events changes for better or worse. Love either begins its onerous descent or is clapped further into existence by a profound realization of its meant to be qualities. For me this moment occurred briefly after my roommate and I had smoked from a pink bong in our dorm room before dinner. I was a sophomore in college and struggling to maintain skills and aspirations to become a professional tennis player. My roommate and I walked to the cafeteria for dinner under the setting sun stoned out of our minds and driven by an ecstatic spirit commonly referred to as Euthanasia. My feet felt as if there was a space between them and the ground. I was so high that I was able to walk directly through an oak tree, freed from the confines of the material world. I understood the meaning of high by experiencing that moment. I was moving along the grass effortlessly transcending all time and space. I looked to my roommate who was trying to fly and said I want to stay in this state for the rest of my life. I had not known happiness like this before.
After a seven year college career that cost my parents more than $100,000 dollars I barley graduated with a BA in Media Studies and found myself without any aspirations other than to sit in the sun, pursue sexual escapades, play basketball and smoke weed. I was twenty-nine years old.


I began to make the journey by train from Palo Alto to San Francisco reading Jack Kerouac and longing for beatnik days filled with read wine, orgies and poetry. I laughed my way through the financial district watching the poor souls who spent days on end cooped up in artless offices made from greed and struggle, while I remained penniless and proud. I would buy books at City Lights and read in the bars of North Beach while wondering about times past which I could not recall. In my journal I produced poor prose longing for a time past and fulminating about time present.


I remained stoned through three serious relationships and dozens of jobs. I watched Pearl Jam explode onto the grunge scene and grow old before I could really identify the passing of time. Chris Cornell had just been the lead singer for Sound Garden and now he was playing with some band called Audio Slave and looked like a middle-aged man. The words of T.S Elliot resounded in my mind each time I tried to justify to myself the path in life I had chosen to take:

Time passed and Time Future
Are all contained in time present

Like my prognostication fifteen years before, I had managed to remain stoned through the most formative years of my life. I prolifically painted and waited on tables while sleeping with prostitutes and wasting away the days in strip clubs which made me feel as if I was dreaming away my afternoons. I got fired from a shoe store for telling a costumer that her feet stunk. Weed elevated my sensory faculties and made dishonesty impossible. Weed made me feel as if I was the entertainer in a play about me. I rode my bike through parks high as a bird and traveled like a dharma bum through the sierras and city ghettos. I dreamed and then forget what I had dreamed.


Always the passionate advocate of the virtues and health benefits of smoking weed I postulated again and again that no one had ever died from smoking weed. I read book after book about the healing benefits of marijuana. I took great enjoyment in teaching others about the way of weed. It calms the nerves, enlarges the heart so blood flow is improved and the heart muscle strengthened, clears phlegm and toxins from bronchial passage ways improving lung capacity, accelerates metabolism, improves concentration and has anti-carcinogenic properties. Meanwhile I was suffering from wheezing and palpitations refusing to blame my symptoms on my true love. I did not want to admit to my self that the love that I had spent the past fifteen years of my life with was slowly destroying time present.


I reached the age of thirty-nine still pleasantly pre-occupied with denying the effects of my relationship with weed. I had watched friends die or begin the obvious descent into middle age. Perry Ferrell had devolved from rock star status into dusty memorabilia from a time passed and forgotten. An illegal war in Iraq raged on in its corrupted fury and through out all these life cycles I had managed to remain high.


I was working as waiter and celebrated my working class status because I had my days free to smoke weed and ride my bike around Berkeley in search of an herb or elixir that could cure my chronic cough. I developed allergies and a terrifying irregular heartbeat as I wrote non-sensible essays in the afternoon and meditated under parking cars. Was I loosing my mind as I aged my way towards fifty? I often wondered. Then I married a woman who could no longer tolerate my anxiety attacks, constant fear of death, feelings of failure and Walden Pond philosophy that espoused that the cost of something is the amount of life that you are willing to exchange in order to have that thing. I wanted life not things. Your Thoreau is keeping us poor and working class and your marijuana is going to kill you, she would often attest.


The night was warm and now the summer morning seems to be working it’s way into a quick boil. After I finish writing this, I will put on pants and go out for a long bike ride around town. I am almost forty-two years of age and I have not smelled the aromatic scents or inhaled the tropical mists of Marijuana smoke in close to half a decade. Even though our relationship has ended- I am left with the scars of our almost twenty year affair. I have a chronic cough, an inability to recall the location of my parked bike or home.  I am fatigued enough that I have a tendency to fall asleep in the most inappropriate of places. I have watched time pass and my face grow old. In an attempt to maintain a state of physical well- being I exercise by standing on my head for an hour a day and ride my bike to and fro the places I need to go. Otherwise I spend my time tending to my garden, sleeping in my underwear and trying not to think about the past that I seem to re-live day after day. It is as if my mind is trying to bring forth the years and years that I spent stoned so that I can now become accountable for the life I lived in the light of sobriety. I talk about these moments with my wife and I have built a writing career off of writing about my times passed, but still I am left in a state of duress or uncertainty when I ask myself and others the question, marijuana can’t kill you, right?

$50.00 Cup Of Coffee.

The rain has been pouring down for three days straight. I am wondering if melancholy is starting to kick in. I awoke at around 10:30 this morning but would have stayed in bed if I did not have to drive my wife to work. So like the responsible husband and man that I try to be, I climbed out from under the warm blankets and dressed.

When we opened the front door to leave, our cat came running in wet as a used mop and whining at the top of his lungs. He was obviously feeling neglected and angry because we had forgotten to let him in the night before. To be honest the past few days my cat has been perturbing me, so I did not really forget to let him in, I just hoped my wife would not remember. It was reciprocity for all the scratches on my arm and the flees in my bed.

I dropped my wife off and then began driving back home. The inside of the car was warm from the high heat and I was uncertain if I wanted to return to my cold and over one hundred year old wobbly home. So I decided to drive for a bit. I listened to the radio and watched the world go by in the warmth of the car. There is something very enjoyable about driving around on a rainy day.

I decided to stop and grab a small coffee. I rarely drink coffee- if ever. It makes my body shake unpleasantly and my heart race. So I try to stay away from the acidic liquid. However, this morning I was feeling the need to have the bitter taste of coffee in my dry mouth and the aromatic smells in my nose.

There was no parking to be found on the busy street- besides a yellow zone which sat empty right in front of the coffee shop. I decided that I would quickly park in the yellow zone, run in and out- no problem. I could not of been more incorrect.

I tipped the somnolent looking woman who served me my coffee a dollar and then put half and half with a bit of sugar in it. The smell was already awakening me to the pleasures of existing. I took a brief sip of my coffee and walked back outside.

There where two UPS trucks blocking me in. Behind my car was a police car with its lights flashing and behind the police car was a small meter maids truck. I rushed to my car pretending as if I was not the subject of this mass gathering. Once out of the rain I decided to wait patiently for the UPS trucks to move so that I could leave. I kept my mind focused on the scent of coffee.

Then an ugly man with nose hairs, covered in a black rain coat knocked on my window. It was a police officer. I opened my door frustrated by all this commotion. “What is wrong officer?” I asked stupidly revealing that I may have done something wrong. “Can I see your drivers license and registration?” he said with a seriousness that indicated that he may not be human but rather a clone. “What have I done?” I said with the innocence of a child. “We have a report that this car may be stolen.” “What?”

In the meantime one of the UPS drivers came up behind the police officer and said to me “hey man!! This spot is for commercial loading not for the convenience of people to get their coffee!! You need to never park her again. You have blocked up traffic because I have had to park in the street!!” I looked behind him and noticed that traffic was blocked up for as far as my eyes could see. People were honking their horns and trying to get around the UPS truck. “See what you have done!! Jerk!!!” And then he was gone.

Meanwhile I handed the officer the requested information and told him that I have owned this car for years. “We will see,” he said with a tone in his voice that suggested that I was already guilty. “Wait here, while I check out your information.” “Where am I going to go?” I said with a sarcastic tone in my voice. I remember thinking to myself with indignation, “the police are everywhere, they even watch you when you sleep. they are like phantoms!!”

There was another knock on my window, but this time it was a black meter maid who looked rather swollen in her cheeks. She wore a yellow rain coat with the hood over her head and handed me a green ticket which was already wet from the rain. “What is this for?” I asked with a hint of anger in my voice. “For parking in a NO PARKING spot.” “But I was loading some boxes into the coffee shop, I am the owner!!” I decided to lie. “Then why don’t you get commercial plates!” she said walking away and leaving me helpless. I am not normally prone to anger or disrespect but I lost control of myself in my moment of helplessness and yelled “bitch!!!”

It was bad timing, because as I yelled out the police officer was approaching my car. He looked startled and unsure of how to respond. “What did you call me??” he asked. I took a deep breath and said “I did not call you anything, I was talking to the ticket lady.” “What ticket lady?” he asked. “The one that just gave me this ticket,” and I held up the green ticket to show him what I was talking about. “Sir, that was placed on your window while you were inside getting coffee,” he said suspicious of what was going on. “What the hell are you talking about… she just gave me this ticket!!” I was frantic and did not know what to do. Was this officer of the law accusing me of being crazy, of seeing things? “Sir I suggest that you try to calm yourself down and sign this citation.”

“What citation?” “It is a fix it ticket.” “I thought I was being accused of possessing a stolen car?” “No we had the wrong vehicle, but your back left brake light is not working and you have thirty days to fix it,” he said with a hurried sound in his voice. I assumed he wanted to get out of the rain so I took my time. I read over the pink citation and noticed that I would not be charged any money if I proceeded to go through all these various steps to absolve the citation. “Sir you will be given a list of everything you need to know,” he said impatiently. I then signed on the dotted line and returned the clip board to him. I took another deep breath and could feel the residual anger and frustration in my chest. “You are lucky that I do not site you for your conduct towards an officer of the law,” he said staring me straight in the face. I decided to stay quiet. He ripped of a portion of the citation handed it back to me and said “I know you slandered me sir, happens all the time.” And then he returned to his bat mobile.

I sat in my car for a moment trying to register everything that had just happened. My coffee was cold and I felt like I was just the subject of a terrible prank. I waited for something to happen like someone who was suffering from post-traumatic stress. I listened to the rain pitter-paterring on the roof of my car. I then heard a loud honk and looked out the drivers side widow. There was the same meter maid driving down the other side of the street!! She looked at me waved and I could barley make out her lips saying “have a nice day, sir” with a malevolent smile on her face. I felt like I was going to be sick. I tried to yell out “wait!!” but it was I futile attempt. I looked down at the green parking ticket which said in black ink hand writing “your fifty dollar cup of coffee, sir!!”

Now I am back in my cold wobbly home. I am confused and forlorn. Once I am finished spell checking this post, I will get back in bed and try to sleep. Then maybe I will wake up and things will make sense.

Writer’s Block

I have been staring at a blank page for most of my life. I have done all I can with not just my left hand but also my right. I have tried yoga and long walks. My therapist recommended to me that I take up singing. So I have done this each day. I have taken cooking lessons, taken up meditation, started burning incense, moved to the woods, eat vegan, and participate in S&M parties. I do a headstand every morning for thirty minutes and chew sugarless gum through out the day. Still there is little evidence of a Writer on the paper before me.
Since the age of six I have dreamed of becoming a Writer. My parents took my sister and I on a family outing in Napa Valley. As we were driving along a desolate country road I noticed a small cabin. A man sat smoking what looked like a pipe on the porch. I asked my Father about who that was and he said, “probably a poor Hermit or failed Writer.” From that day forward I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
Thirty-three years later and I am still unable to write. People ask me what I do and I use the noun, Writer. When I am asked if my work can be read I utilize the pronoun, aspiring. It is a course that I navigate with trepidation. “Will I ever write anything?” is a question that lingers in my head like a chronic migraine. It hurts. And every so often I take aspirin.  Days before my father passed on I assured him that I would be able to make a living as a Writer.

“But you don’t write.”
“I can’t but I will.”
”I try every day.”
”Son, when will you see?”
“When I write.”
“But you can’t write.”
“I will.”
“Son you can’t be a Writer if you don’t write.”
“I will write.”

My father passed away with a knot in his gut tightened by my incapability to pragmatically reason. Every day I look at a blank page and am reminded of my failure. I see emptiness and small circuitous hints of a letter. I have become so acquainted with the color of a blank page that I can tell time by the way it reflects shadow. Each morning, I sit at my desk to write my unfulfilled potential off the page. Still nothing comes. I sit there and breathe deeply. I straighten my back as if that will help awaken an idea. “Maybe, it will slip through my spine and out onto the empty page, and then there will be the story,” I think. A narration so profound, that my career as a Writer will be unleashed.  But my spine is tight from all my hunching and my right hand has been waiting to write a word since my left hand refused to wait anymore. “It is a lonely heart that has no hope,” my father once told me.

I visit my therapist in town twice a week. She is a skinny woman who suffered from anorexia most of her life. Years of struggle have carved lines into her face and make her an asset to those who face similar struggles. She slowly eats a banana while we commune. I am confident that she can help me because of her past. She always allows me to stay longer then my allotted fifty minutes.

“Have you been singing?”
”I sing every day, mostly in the shower or on a walk.”
“How does it make you feel?”
“Good, I forget about my Writer’s block.”
“Have you been thinking about new ways to live your life?”
“I have.”
“What have you decided?”
“To think less.”
“This is why I thought singing would be good.”
”It helps me to stop thinking.”
”It is your thoughts that keep you blue.”
”I see.”
“Do you still do head stands?”
“Every morning.”
“Do you still think about your father?”
“All the time.”
“One day you will change the story you tell yourself.”
“I want to write my story.”
“You will.”

After therapy, I drive my old truck back to the house in the woods feeling renewed and hopeful. The story that I tell myself is slowed down. The thoughts in my head are not as filled with failure and doom. There is space for better thoughts to appear.
But the page remains blank. It sits there upon my desk like a neglected pet awaiting my return. I tell myself only a matter of time and I go to work doing other things. I keep myself busy with household chores and I keep introducing myself to strangers as a Writer.

“Want a good story,” she said to me dressed in leather straps that barley covered her holly trinity (breasts, butt and ass). I pictured it happening differently but decided to go along with it anyways. The party was filled with middle-aged voyeurs gathering around small dungeons set up with enough equipment to destroy Eros. I followed her into a section called The Den Of Inequity and felt the air around my head grow warm. She told me her name but I have since forgotten. All I really remember is a small hole on the bottom of her foot that she told me was the result of an accident.
“You want to play, right?” she asked me, wanting to asssure herself that I was certain about the consequences of my decision. “I want a story,” I replied with a hint of fear in my voice. I took off my shirt, pants and underwear and was dressed in leather briefs. ”I’ll give you the story of your life pervert man,” she said as she strapped my wrists and ankles to a disinterested wooden board. After being lashed, electrocuted, stepped on, spit on, spanked, tied upside down, laughed at, called coward, whipped, humiliated and then applauded by a group of spectators- I got dressed and anticipated the story I may finally have to tell. I drove home quickly so as not to forget.

Nothing wanted to come out, despite the sores and bruises, which I hoped would help me to remember. Not even and, if or but. I struggled to remember any words that could describe the feelings that I experienced. All I seemed capable of thinking was “its got to be good.” There was once again no story to be written on the blank page. No words willing to lend themselves to the perfection that I demanded to describe my experience. It was as if words had renounced the man before he could even give them an opportunity to live. I was not frustrated but becoming hopeless again.  In my head I wanted to live but on the page I could not exist. For one hour that evening I lay on my couch with ice over various parts of my naked body feeling like a failure.

“Why did you let her do those things to you?”
“You are my therapist, not my mother.”
“I understand but it is important that I know.”
“Because I wanted a story.’
”You wanted a story?”
“I thought that an experience would give me something to write about.”
“And did it?”
“And why do you think this is so?”
“I am not sure.”
“Maybe its because you can not stop telling your self the old story.”
“What old story?”
“The one we talk about here.”
“I do not understand.”
“The story of hopelessness, failure, guilt, worthlessness.”
”Maybe when this story goes away you will have a new story to write.”

That afternoon I went to my cooking class and then stopped at the market. In the evening I went to a yoga class and a bookstore. I purchase a popular book about water. The premise of the book was strange and had nothing to do with anything I had ever thought. It was a book written by a Japanese Scientist who studied the ways that water molecules responded to thoughts. He photographed water crystals and studied how they formed in relation to various thoughts or words. He observed that positive thoughts or words formed beautiful water crystals while negative thoughts or words created ugly and deformed water crystals. His conclusion was that since human beings are mainly a collection of millions of water crystals, the thoughts we have and words we use create our health and disease.
For dinner I made a pizza and read the book by candlelight. Outside the silence was loud enough that I could hear it vibrating in my ears. I chewed my food without the sensation of eating and quickly made my way through the book. I thought about the story I told myself and noticed the scenes from my life that lined up in my mind as if on paper. It was a story of unfulfilled potential that went all the way back to my fathers remark: “probably a poor Hermit or failed Writer.” It was a negative unraveling that was set up in me from the moment that I decided to become a Hermit and a Writer thirty-three years before. My water crystals were destined to grow deformed. I went to bed that night thinking that my father had unknowingly put a curse on me.

“Do you think this realization is true?”
“I do.’
”Your Writer’s block is the result of your fathers curse?”
“Maybe not a curse, but a negative imprint.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I am toxic water.”
”Toxic water?”
”Yes, I am polluted and filled with deformed water crystals.”
“You read the book about water?”
“And what did it reveal to you?”
”That I can change.”
“So you see how the story you tell yourself creates your life.”
“Creates deformed water crystals.”
“Yes, and these deformed water crystals are you.”
“I see.”
“Change your story, change your life.”
“Easier said than done.”

I don’t know if the Writer’s block will ever go away. I stand on my head every day and I try to think pleasant thoughts. Rather than seeing the block as a silence that is permanent I see it as an oppurtunity to express potential. Recently, I have been experiencing a strange phenomenon. When I wake in the morning and sit before the empty page I look into it with the determination of an artist. I am fascinated by its depth and dimension. Outlined in vague print I can see a scetch of my new story, fully realized on the blank page. There it is before me, a story written in the most beautiful prose. It is a story that will continue on indefinately until the end of all blank pages. Every writer that has ever lived and failed to write is apart of this story. It is the story of my entire life.

The End.

The End Of The World?

    I always find that it perplexes my mind when I think about sitting still. I am noticing more and more that friends, neighbors, lovers and strangers seem to be constantly going someplace. Every time I lift my heavy head from the book I am reading to peer out the window, I notice dizzying displays of entropy. All different kinds and colors of people, cars, buses and airplanes are quickly moving toward a destination that seems to become more illusive the older we grow. Maybe it is because I work from home and rarely leave my third floor apartment that I notice these things- but I fear the worst. I fear that the closer our world is coming to a kind of end or transformation, the more people have to come and go, occupy themselves or spend as little time with themselves in order to ward off the unsettling, collective anxiety which sits someplace inside all our hearts. The busier we are the less we have to feel and contemplate. I know that it is more complex than this, but as I watch my cat who sits silently on the windowsill day after day, I wonder why we humans are so incapable of just sitting still.
I have always thought of my cat as my teacher. I watch with great reverence towards his mastery of Vipassana meditation. There he sits gently breathing in and out, for eight or nine hours at a stretch, confined to a small apartment for the entirety of his life- practicing the art of preserving heartbeats. In Taoism it is believed that the key to longevity is preserving the heartbeats. I live in a society that is addicted to using up the heartbeat, in order to maximize profit, minimize body fat, maximize muscle, minimize reality by maximizing work and consumption. Anxiety is usually the end result of this manic cycle, which has created our modern world. I look out my window into the veritable gridlock of bodies in motion and wonder about the degree of damage/stress that all this movement imposes upon our hearts. Is it any surprise that in America there is a massive proliferation of injustice disguised as justice? An epidemic of greed and separation, which is really only a syndrome called dissociation? Is it any surprise that in America the leading cause of death is from the heart no longer being capable of sustaining life? Our hearts are worn out.
These days I go out very little. My way of life may be unconsciously closer to that of a Taoist than an American. I wake up every morning and sit in meditation for forty-five minutes. I chant and then proceed to do an hour or so of Yoga and by the time I am finished it is time for work. My desk is situated in front of a window that looks out over a main artery or street that runs through San Francisco. I work as a fiction writer, so when the narrative I am channeling ceases to come into my head I will often look up and ponder the scenes outside my window, for hours. This becomes my afternoon meditation.
I believe it was Pascal who said that all the ills of human kind could be avoided if we could just be content in our rooms sitting still in a chair. I understand this to mean that a great majority of the problems that each of us faces collectively today could be avoided if we could just preserve heartbeats. Taoists believe that you preserve heartbeats by moving slowly, sitting still and practicing love. Today I observed a man run up behind a woman and steal her bag. I noticed two men in suits arguing and then one man pushing the other in anger. Several times I noticed one fellow driver flipping another fellow driver off. I witnessed several arrests and a great deal of well-dressed human beings, with large amounts of shopping bags rushing to get someplace while homeless people begged them for change.
I thought about the year 2012 and the Mayan prediction that this will be the end of time, as we know it. There are two postulates. The first one is that there will supposedly be a great transformation in consciousness that causes all life on earth to become unified as one loving people working together to create and maintain balance and harmony on our planet. We will move from the age of technology and materialism into an age of wisdom. This is one postulate. The other is that because of our inability to preserve heartbeats and our constant need to drive, fly and consume resources we have irremissibly used up our heartbeats and brought all life on earth as we know it to an inevitable end. As I sit and watch the pulsating urban landscapes outside my window…it is the second postulate that seems to concern me the most. We have failed to maintain what we have because we always are rushing to acquire more, not realizing the damage this imposes upon our world. I look at my cat who is sitting still on the windowsill and I am reminded of something Franz Kafka said almost a century ago. “You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen. Simply wait; just learn to become quiet and still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”