Dear Mary,

Next month is your birthday month. The final days of your twenty-second year. I can’t remember the last time we saw each other on a birthday. I’m sorry, you know?
We used to say we would live next door. Grow our kids together and bake chocolate chip cookies while sippin’ sweet tea on some big front porch somewhere.
You were always better than me. At the cookie baking thing, I mean. And the loving people thing, I suppose. Mary the Mother, you know?
And I can’t say if our names drew fate or our circumstances did. But you are circumstantially strong, and I do admire it, even when I am far away.
There’s another anniversary nearby. 21 years since from November dreams we woke to find grandma and grandpa lurking in the hallway outside our bedroom.
We were stricken with excitement, but they answered with somber faces and said there had been an accident. Mom was in the hospital. This is my first memory, you know?
How rough was Christmas of ’96? And the next few after that? We got to keep mom but, we said goodbye to many things. Foolish childhood things.
We moved on, and put our baby dolls to sleep.
And stumbled down the path to the bus stop.
And practiced loopy-cursive letters.
And climbed up twisted back-yard trees.
And still got excited for the holidays.
And I love you, you know?
Advertisements

A Thursday Manifesto

A Thursday Manifesto

Have you ever quit smoking cigarettes?

It’s not that difficult, actually.

Breaking a habit takes the same willpower and consistency as forming one does, they just happen in the opposite direction.

Building a habit = sensation you are gaining something.
Breaking a habit = sensation you are losing something.

So when you quit smoking, you are operating under the perception you have lost something. Is there a solution? Sure. You can distract yourself, or even fill the void with another meaningless vice.

More-so, I think this habit situation may be the same reason buying new things is easier than throwing things away. We have attachment issues, but we don’t have a lot of space for everything.

Why am I saying this? Who knows, but let’s consider that it is a well-known fact one of the main goals of human existence is to consume. (Citation needed, but you know I’m right.)

We consume food to generate energy so we can…make more food to consume. But once we figured out how to do that with efficiency – and when I say this I mean, of course, exclusively for the people who have money to pay for food…survival IS a business after all- we got bored. So we started making other stuff. Making stuff is cool. Making stuff is equivalent to the sensation you are gaining something.

Anyway, to quit smoking is easy. Unfortunately, so is the relapse.

Imagine you’ve been clean for two weeks, and then you meet with a friend who smokes. It’s very likely that when they light a cigarette, you’ll follow suit.

Not because they are pressuring you, but because the habit is being normalized.

Don’t worry too much about it, you’re dying anyway. If you want to die from lung cancer, that’s your prerogative.

I’m not really talking about cigarettes here, I’m talking about identity issues. Particularly the ones that arise as a direct result from knowing other people. I think we can agree that we’re all a little uncertain about what it is we’re doing here. We’re on a giant rock, hurtling through space, and we still can’t find anything in common.

N. Korea wants to be taken seriously. Donald Trump wants to be taken seriously. Taylor Swift wants to be taken seriously. And the more attention we pay to these tyrants – (yes Taylor, I mean you) – the closer they become to being taken seriously.

But hold on, I was talking about identity issues. Today when I was taking a shower, I began to wonder, “what is the point of having a friend?” I believe we are prone to befriending people who we see ourselves in, but that is partially because we are very narcissistic (thx evolution). Basically, we need to maintain a general positive association about our identities – and this requires external reinforcement.

Think about your friends – what do you do together? Probably things you both enjoy, and this, in fact, is an ego-stroke. It is self-validating to enjoy the same things as other people. It means you have interesting interests. It means you are not a weirdo.

Sometimes, I bet you do things with friends that you are not violently passionate about, rather vaguely accepting of. This is because you are making a compromise. This is because being around other people is a lot less lonely than being alone. And did you notice, how when we’re alone, we tend to fill our alone time with the consumption* (vocab word) of content and characters who are, you guessed it, relatable? Then, there is the added bonus, that later on, we can relate to other people about our very interesting interests, a fantastic reflection of the self.

Which of your friends do you like the best? I bet it’s the ones who make you feel the most like you. But what are you like, in reality? Because you are constantly being influenced. By your friends. And your friends’ likes’. And your friends’ ideas’ of who you are. You look to your friends to help build your identity. You look to all of the people around you – your employers, your parents and in some cases, your cat.

This is not a problem. I am not anti-friend. I love my friends, and in most cases, they help me to be a better version of myself. They hold me accountable for my bullshit. They give me necessary advice, and, on occasion, decent music recommendations.

The real problem is not: knowing people, having friends, watching T.V., consuming things, or being alive. The real problem is habit. Did you know that a victim of childhood abuse is 3-5 times more likely to experience victimization as an adult? That there is an 80 percent chance children of abuse will develop at least one psychological disorder later in life? Why are victims of trauma more likely to have a repeat experience? Habit.

What we know – that is, what we have become exposed to, influences our identity. Abuse becomes normalized to those who experience it, meaning they are more likely to gravitate towards similar psychopathic behaviors in relationships, friendships and work situations. This evidence is not only important for people who have experienced childhood trauma. It’s important to anyone who has been in an unhealthy friendship or relationship. Sometimes, I think we are attracted to bad and negative things because we perceive them as being more honest.

I think this information is also relevant to anyone who is in the process of forming an identity. I heard they take a lifetime to create. The point is, you are not your friends. You are not your mother. You are not your childhood trauma. You are not your cigarette. You are both completely, only yourself, and exactly everything you allow yourself to be influenced by. You, in the end, are a collection of habits.

If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking cigarettes, you know it isn’t hard.

It takes willpower and consistency.

A Quarter of a Century.

A Quarter of a Century.

Birthday’s are the worst.
I wanted to blame Facebook,
But before there was Facebook,
there was a terrorist attack.
And before there was a terrorist attack,
there was a car accident.
And before there was a car accident,
There was me.

Born from dust.
Born from the cells of my ancestors.
Born as a new generation,
carrying the same chains.
The same skin disease.
The same hopeless desire for eternity.

Birthday’s are so boring.
An attempt to justify existence,
and locate yourself within spacetime.
But will spacetime remember me?
Cause I’ve been feeling like a speck-
Something less brilliant than a star.
And then I saw a good friend.
And she let me talk.
And I said stupid things.
And I laughed.
And I remembered all the good people.
And I remembered it’s okay.

Birthday’s are ruthless.
Ticking away the minutes,
Pushing you under the pressure,
to prove you are moving some direction.

When I am feeling lost,
I lick my finger.
And let the wind tell me,
which way to blow.

When I am feeling lost,
I look at where I was before,
And I thank something invisible,
for another year.

Greece is fading from me.

My tanned skin is peeling, revealing soft pink patches untouched by the bright August sun beams.

The licorice taste of Ouzo has evaporated from my lips – I lick them incredulously, my tongue searching for the salted stains of the turquoise sea.

I don’t know what moment you can call the place you’re living at a home, but I’ve returned to it. It’s different somehow, even without changing.

Anti-fascist graffiti still clings to the walls, men with dark eyes and dirty trousers leaned against them, taking deep drags of their cigarettes, waiting for the seasons to change.

Yesterday Flex told me there was electricity in the air – the humidity was disturbing his instruments at work. Molecules were acting out of sorts.

“There is magic, can you feel it?” he asked when I joined him on the mostly empty street.

I did.

It’s possible I did because I wanted to, but I was feeling awfully different these days, and the sunset had cast a strange orange glow, the kind you see before a violent thunderstorm. Somewhere in-between the darkness and the light, the buildings began to bend like holograms, and I wondered if they were ever there in the first place.

Greece is fading from me, like the remnants of a reverent dream. With each passing moment the details blend together, becoming more difficult to distinguish, disappearing like the final credits of a film, and suddenly I am thrown back again into reality, with the lingering feeling of hopeful melancholy.

I close my eyes and I see Kalamos of Anafi, the second largest monolith in Europe. A great presence protruding into the sky, a place that one time served as a haven.

I see the endless expanse of sea saturated in ultramarine and sapphire, somehow it was also teal and clear as crystalline. A mosaic of blue, expressing itself in every shade.

I see the sky so full of stars I wondered if they were watching us, if they could only see us when the lights were low, and we were burning out just like them, already dead in the contorted still frames of time.

I see the view from the mountain top, undisturbed by life. The great rocks stood without help, and they stood without the decay of time. And when I was with them, the silence was so strong it consumed me, and I became silent, too. There was nothing left to say.

Greece is fading from me, but Rome feels new again. In its chaos there is an exquisite beauty, the kind that makes you ache. It is the beauty of destruction, for even the great Roman columns will be destroyed one day, but maybe, they too, will become stars – the kind that children wish on.

 

We could not be together in this lifetime
There were just too many things I had to see
And even though my love for you is endless
I could not bring you down this path with me

I know that we said big words like forever
And I meant it when I looked into your eyes
But late one night, in blistering December
A feeling grew that I could not deny

The trees were planting thick, coarse roots around me
The birds were making nests and singing songs
I tried to do the same but I was different
The wind inside me grew to be too strong

I packed my bags one hazy day in August
And took a one way ticket with my name
I cried because my heart had been divided
And changing means you’ll never be the same

Now I am as ceaseless as the sunrise
The light refracting on the Aegean Sea
The strong and silent presence of the mountain
The dandelion wish you had for me

Dear Mary,

The heat here is abysmal.
I mean Georgia was sticky hot.
And Baltimore was humid like hell.
But neither can compare to this inferno
of Dante’s inspiration.

I can’t seem to recognize summer in Rome.
There are no bon fires in bare-foot backyards.
No scents of BBQ and charcoal grills.
I have yet to see a single fire-fly.
Red solo cup.
Potato salad.
Jello shot.
Or fire-works sale.

I miss air conditioning,
And afternoon thunderstorms –
The way the dark clouds roll in and thirsting leaves turn belly side up.
I miss neighbor-kids gathering on front porches
with artificially stained lips,
sucking on endless freeze pops.
Their carefree, crooked smiles.

I miss dirt-cheap Natty Boh’s.
Highland-town lemonades.                                                                                                 American food because you can pretty much eat anything.
And you can always add cheddar cheese.
And you can always add bacon.
And I don’t even eat bacon.
But still.
I guess I like the option.

 

I miss shamelessly indulging
in very crass things.
Consumer holidays I still rant about.
It seems you can even miss the things you hate –
You could maybe miss anything when it’s been long enough.
I miss Romeo’s ranch dressing.
Indiana, Pa.
Those old coal-mining geezers.
Red-hearted republican men.
We used to fight while I was working,
Serving up Mich-Ultra’s on ice,
Politics and religion.
Bob’s dinner recipes.
“Jules, I have a picture on my refrigerator,”
Mr. Zak told me for the millionth time.
It’s a photo of a young boy
feeding a carrot from his lunch pail to a donkey.
It Says:
“Don’t teach your children to be successful,
Teach them to be happy.”

This was his closing argument.
Almost every time.
Even when we were talking about:
Racism.
Sexism.
Poverty.
And then I would clock out of my shift.

“Get Jules a Redbreast.”
And I would drink a Redbreast.
And it’s still is my favorite whiskey.

But no one calls me Jules anymore.
And I stopped trying to fight
with other peoples
political ideas.
And I haven’t played beer pong in awhile.
And I’ve never seen an Italian shotgun a beer.

But damn it’s hot enough to fry an egg outside,
And I am cracking in this heat.
Just dreaming for a breeze,
And of the places I used to see.

Give the family a kiss.
I miss you girls like hell.
Stay cool and be good.
And never visit Rome in the summertime.

Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

 

Kick the laundry pile.

Put the coffee on the stove.

Clean the loose tobacco off the desk.

Apply lotion.

The fan is not working?

Water plants.

 

~ sphssssh ~

 

The sound of hot coffee spilling on the stove top.

Brown stains.

Perfume steam.

 

Pour the coffee.

Roll a cigarette.

Hit play.

Wilco.

Google: How to fix a fan.

 

Facebook.

Facebook.

Facebook.

 

Stare at plants.

Blow a smoke ring.

Google: How to check computer storage.

Troubleshoot.

 

84.1 GB storage.

What the fuck am I storing?

Google: How to clean storage space on computer.

Troubleshoot.

 

Caches.

I’ve head about these before.

Only delete the old ones!

 

Empty folders.

What does that mean?

 

My computer learns about me.

Tracks my location.

My passwords.

Website information.

My computer remembers things for me.

Things I don’t have effort to care about.

 

My computer tracks my searches.

Customizes advertisements.

Creates a digital history of my preferences.

 

My curiosities.

My secrets.

My medical history.

Web MD.

A long list of things I could have almost had.

Or maybe do have.

 

Meyers-briggs.

Free trials on language websites.

Searches for people.

People I want to know about.

People I never want to meet again.

People who make me sad when I remember them.

People who might be sad if they remembered me.

 

Moved items to trash.

Exchanging memories for space.

 

Empty trash.

* Files can’t be deleted!

They are “running.”

Running?

Motherfuckers.

Avoiding me.

I don’t even know what they are.

But I’m lazy

So they won,

for today.

 

Until there comes a time,

when I’m forced to make some changes,

you can stay in the background,

collecting information,

about me.

 

My wrist is itching.

Just like the mint plant;

I am wilting in the heat

 

I am thinking

about all the things that I could do

to be productive.

 

I am thinking

how differently

time moves

when you finally keep some

and use it on yourself.

 

I am thinking

how differently

time moves

when the summer sun is so hot,

it lingers on into the night,

and gets trapped

in your bedsheets.