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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I guess I like the option.
This was his closing argument.
Almost every time.
Even when we were talking about:
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
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.
Kick the laundry pile.
Put the coffee on the stove.
Clean the loose tobacco off the desk.
The fan is not working?
~ sphssssh ~
The sound of hot coffee spilling on the stove top.
Pour the coffee.
Roll a cigarette.
Google: How to fix a fan.
Stare at plants.
Blow a smoke ring.
Google: How to check computer storage.
84.1 GB storage.
What the fuck am I storing?
Google: How to clean storage space on computer.
I’ve head about these before.
Only delete the old ones!
What does that mean?
My computer learns about me.
Tracks my location.
My computer remembers things for me.
Things I don’t have effort to care about.
My computer tracks my searches.
Creates a digital history of my preferences.
My medical history.
A long list of things I could have almost had.
Or maybe do have.
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.
* Files can’t be deleted!
They are “running.”
I don’t even know what they are.
But I’m lazy
So they won,
Until there comes a time,
when I’m forced to make some changes,
you can stay in the background,
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
when you finally keep some
and use it on yourself.
I am thinking
when the summer sun is so hot,
it lingers on into the night,
and gets trapped
in your bedsheets.
“Existence is futile!” a man shouted from the third floor window of a worn-out building. He was hanging on a curtain rod, a cigarette dangling out of the corner of his mouth.
He was a dirty man, maybe in his 40’s. I was never too good at guessing how many years a person’s been living for.
He saw me watching – a look of dignified delight spread across his dingy face, his hallowed eyes fixing on my little dress; his mouth slowly stretching into a gummy grin decorated with a few fossils of broken teeth.
“What’d you say?” I yelled back, my hand now parallel to my forehead, as if I were a solider reporting to her general. Really, I was just trying to shield my eyes from the hazy July sun.
“Viene qua, bellisima.” Now he was laughing all mad-like, clutching on to his ribcage, howlin’ and cracklin’ like a hyena.
“Where you come from?” yelled another man, maybe Moroccan, and before I knew it there were 10 of ‘em, all hootin’ and whistlin’ and still somehow suckin’ on their cigarettes.
I turned my attention to the empty street, lined with over-flowing trash bins and haphazardly parked cars. The sun was beating hard on the back of my shoulders, and I was trying to concentrate on a small dog up the hill, on the horizon of the piazza. He was dancing and skipping about, a little too care-free for the scene. His owner was taking a piss next to a trashcan, taking no measure to cover himself.
I took a sharp left onto a small side street, somewhere in between a via and a viccolo. Delivery items were being transferred from boxy trucks into dying businesses, the Chinese yelling in Italian, Italians yelling at the Chinese. I accidentally made eye contact with a homeless man lying dead in the center of the sidewalk. His mouth was slightly agape, and he slowly stretched his shaking arm in my direction, piercing me with his gray dull eyes.
“Existence is futile,” he whispered, and my over-heated July skin flushed with goose-bumps.
“What’d you say?” I sang back in a sad tune, like a reflex that a doctor checks to make sure you’re still feeling things.
He began to groan, and cough, and shake some more.
I marched on, past a Banglah and cellphone shop. I walked past Hallal fast food and empty stores with no names. I walked past children playing in the street, mothers humming as they hung their wet clothes out their apartment windows. I walked past hot trash begging to become fire, dirty birds sifting for something to eat. I walked past construction workers in their bright orange vests and long pants, past the crumbling buildings that once signified affluence and opportunity.
I walked, until I finally saw a bar. I opened the door, and that’s when I realized I was following my feet.
“Ciao, dimmi,” said an old man with a big mustache and watery blue eyes.
“vorrei un caffe,” I asserted, over annunciating.
The stainless-steel machine whizzed and steamed, a dark black liquid gently trickling into a small, white porcelain cup.
He placed it on the bar with a flourish, and I languidly began stirring in the contents of a sugar packet, my eyes fixed ahead on a mirror, watching the room behind me.
A business man in a well-tailored suit entered into the picture. He had a big watch with the wrong time and pearly white teeth that looked like maybe they had been sharpened.
“Un caffe,” he snapped, and the old bar man stepped into motion like a switch had been flipped on. He never looked away from the machine as the espresso found it’s way into another cup. A small, white cup. Porcelain.
The old man placed the coffee on the bar, and I felt the eyes of the business man on me. I kept looking in the mirror. Maybe I was waiting for something.
“Existence is futile,” he remarked, as he dropped a few coins on the counter and headed back out into the streets.
“What’d you say?” I asked myself, because no one else was around to hear me.
“Un euro,” the old man replied, with a warm smile and busy hands.
“Grazie,” I placed a coin on the counter, and followed my feet outside.