[654] I Can Still Pretend

Sometimes I view my life as a giant
bowl of water swirling around and around. From the top is a pitcher
that continues to add water as some of it inevitably splashes out
along the edges. The swirl is a sea of potential. No single point on
the bowl is more or less likely to have the water splash over it. You
knock on the bowl from one side, water will fall just past the
opposite side. You keep knocking on that side, more and more water
will slide over and splash below.

It is unknown how large the
pitcher supplying the total amount of water you’ll ever get in your
bowl is. The water can symbolize your life or maybe just your
attention. Always swirling, waiting to plunge over a cliff into the
unknown. Certainly, amused with the colors the water reflects or the
shapes the water creates, the bowl can’t be left alone. People are
constantly trying to pick it up, play in it, or knock it over,
spilling everything that you could or will ever be in any

Some people turn their swirling bowl of water into
a carnival game. They circle the bowl with other containers to catch
the drops that fall. As each container fills up, they win obnoxious
prizes that require wall spaces and guest bedrooms. If they bought
the same containers or cups from the same store as their neighbors,
they each raise them in a toast to their mutual prosperity. The cups
come with titles and perks that float to the top as they catch more
water. The game’s difficulty comes from never being sure when the cup
is overflowing.

I think of the water like my attention. When I
watch too much TV, I can feel it in my eyes, my shoulders, budding
headache, or in the growing patience to adopt a new frustration like
the delay my keyboard is experiencing in trying to type this. My TV
cup runneth over. The same happens when I spend too much time reading
about how dumb the world is or talking to a 20 year old about
“soulmates” or “the government.” Kids splashing about in my
bowl like needy actors screaming, “Look at me!”

I think
about what has taken the largest portions of my attention. Being a
lovesick child was a solid portion than rolled over seamlessly into a
years long love affair with the “science vs religion” discussion.
I’m clearly obsessed with myself. I tried to be overly-concerned with
my friendships or the formation of a “chosen family.” And I can
usually manage to work most of the day, every day, for several months
before the kind of pain there is no words for starts to scare me a
little too sincerely.

This question of my attention though
deserves more. I consider it a modest source of pride to be able to
name the dozen regions of the world having a considerable worse time
than me. I watch myself greedily suck down an above average amount of
red meat each week. I look for reasons to focus on my small and
selfish desires when the people I think might give me a call
absolutely won’t. I pretend late night talk show hosts and the newest
generation of writers are taking my mind off of the horrible time I’m
having at the gym. I pretend there are ten minutes in the day I’m not
trying to write myself out of the tight little room behind my

Attention increasingly feels like something that needs
to be shared. Everyday we seem to live in mockery of that idea.
Upvotes, likes, shares, raised consciousness, “woke,” viral,
Snap, Insta…different words that all spell distraction. I don’t
think it’s innocent. I don’t think we ever bothered to find the words
before we worked so hard to work them out of existence. To share your
attention is a work you take for granted when you don’t have other
options. But today? You have infinite options. Not, in reality, but
in how your lack of attention can be labeled as something worthwhile,
meaningful, or normal.

My attention is fixated on a specific
kind of feeling. To the outside perceiver, it usually only registers
as contempt and discord. I crave, bottomlessly, a kind of security
and self-expression I’ve only gotten the smallest taste of. I imagine
someone hearing that and thinking the “security” of a good job or
loving spouse sounds glorious, and they’d be in a different universe
than what I mean. I want that security that provokes you to step over
the line, but keeps you wise enough to not do so. It’s the money to
always be able to pay off the ticket or repair, but not enough to
provoke you into 200 mph. It’s the suave and self-satisfaction to
endure yourself to countless women, but never give yourself over into
thinking they’re anything more than human. It’s filling the void with
endless creativity, but never allowing yourself to believe it’s
anything more than what it is; an exercise in maintaining sanity and
a provocation to death.

I find TV a pretty amazing analogue
the more it occupies the majority of my waking life. Thousands of
shows, millions of hours uploaded daily. So much “content.”
Saying…what? “Look at me.” Look how crazy, look how funny, look
and buy, look at my version of this recycled plot, trope, and
structure. Look how many hours I put into making the dragons look
real. Look how much I clearly am just writing for this show until
Tina Fey discovers me. Look at my latest attempt to root myself in
this world as an actor, as someone, no, as an artist,
whose story deserves to be told and needs representation. Look at me
begging you, I’m not ashamed to say it, begging
you to attend to my commentary, my perspective, and my short time
here on Earth. I live for the applause, the awards, but dare you ever
step beyond telling anyone it has anything more to do than with my

Different shades
of desperation march along as self-confidence and hard work. That
doesn’t mean people aren’t confident in what they do. That doesn’t
mean they don’t work hard. But the desperation comes first. The fight
and the spite made the biggest splashes. Taming the waves into
something “personal” or “Emmy worthy” we force ourselves to
believe is about the individual more than the machine. We need the
“standards” of stars and heroes. We need to flaunt the idea that
our attention was spent in the same ways theirs was, be it in
allegiance to products or preferences. We want to belong to what
everyone is paying
attention to, because if we don’t…

I see the rest of my
life, so I’m already dead. I’m maybe seeing people I cared about once
or twice a year. I’m always months behind on something that literally
only takes 2 days. I’m scrambling to fit in weak stabs at eating
better or working out in between shows I can barely distinguish and
exceedingly lame get-togethers with Byron’s child friends or the
ballsy acquaintances from online social groups. I let the little push
to write something long and ridiculous for birthdays die. I get
doubly good at saying “for sure” for the amazingly empty
conversations I’ve gotten so good at I don’t die inside joining
anymore. I don a permanent headache and scowl I’m way to enthusiastic
too put away whenever I’m called out on it. And I watch, every minute
of every day tick by as I save money to get nowhere for no one as all
the things that require more attention than I can give happen

And I’ll write. I’ll write like I’m the most forlorn
and tortured soul that’s ever existed. I’ll watch more of my hairs
turn gray, and ponder the deep questions like how a fun sized
Snickers can add 2 pounds. I’ll scroll through unanswered texts and
check the date showing last year was the last time we both reminded
each other we were working a ton. I’ll forget whatever it was I
thought we had in common. I’ll forget to even bother texting on those
drunk belligerent sentimental nights. And I’ll hear through the
grapevine that you like your new job or partner or your parent got
sick and you’re helping out. Then it’s off to bed, something
important to do in the morning, but it was great catching up. And
none of it will mean anything to me. I’ll erase the idea that
anything ever had or should. From my just-right middle-class
amenities and armchair, I’ll reign.

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[653] Blame Game

Jordan Peterson related a line I heard
today about why you’re motivated to do anything. Discerning what you
actually care about instead of what you’ve been compelled to can be
incredibly hard. He emphasizes how important it is to have a
framework from which to see the world. Be it religious or personally
constructed, you can’t operate without a set of values and means from
which to judge whether you’re in line with something.
He relates Carl Jung who said the present self is the future self
trying to manifest. Somewhere deep inside you view yourself as less
than or incomplete, so no matter your explicit effort to lay in bed
all day, whether your motivation is simple like getting fed or a form
of lofty ideal and recognition, a reason manifests.

The friend
who was recently angry at me for relating the “blah” I’ve
inhabited for too long asked me if I finally figured out that I
should live for someone else yet. I took her to mean more in the form
of becoming a Big Brother or earning to give sense than hand myself
over to the whims of someone else. I don’t know what to make of the
idea. In one form or another, you could say it’s a godlike conception
of ourselves. Jesus died for you, after all. The source of clearly
all of my inspiration over the last few years, again Peterson,
cautions against doing someone else’s work for them. Surely he
doesn’t mean don’t be a mentor to a child, but the stress is on the
idea that people need to come into their own and take

I feel I’m a super fan of blaming myself for
things. I dig myself into holes. I chase people away. I stick to my
rhetorical guns. I bite off bigger chunks than I can handle. I own
every schizophrenic voice. I take immediate pride and shame at once
in whatever I’ve chosen to share. I’m responsible for my own little
hamster wheel. Long period of despotic bitching, celebratory day or
two when something productive or unexpected happens, maybe mild
period of contented contemplation, back to bitching. I still maintain
a level of respect for myself over what I might hold for most people.
I at least admit I don’t like myself or circumstances, and whether
you believe me or not, I don’t have any creative or motivated

The word I can’t escape these last few weeks, or maybe
it’s days but it feels like weeks, is “victim.” The string of
sexual assault accusations, the anger I drew from my friend, the
pleas from legislators and late night hosts about guns, and the
millions of people who will be hurt and killed from the violent
disregard for health and the environment all make a swirl of numbed
panic. We’ve managed to normalize the idea of roommates into
retirement, never getting married, never owning annoying, massive
debt, underpaid jobs, broken social scenes, and the fleeting memory
of animals we saw as children at the zoo. The world has disregarded
our president insofar as they cross their fingers he won’t start
another war.

I’m thinking that part of that U.S. “you’re
special” narrative has done a fair amount of work to dismantle the
care and respect you should have for the victim. This seen no more
obviously than the stories of women in the past who were blown off or
fired no matter where they turned, and what’s been instantiated
across industries today. If you didn’t grow up feeling like you owned
and ran the world, you might have a predilection to make the
circumstances better so that people don’t get victimized. I
frequently disavow any claims I might have to victimhood no matter
the blows I take nor yet for my growing concern over my mental

I wonder if victimization could be reduced to a numbers
a game. So many points for having what are currently considered
“privileges” weighted against instances or institutions designed
to keep you stuck. This a game so delightfully perverse I’m sure I
just made an ardent post-modernist cum in their pants. I don’t want
to play it, but I think the relative nature to oppression and means
to fix it would be loud and present immediately. Don’t just march,
women, 90% of you go on strike like they did in Iceland. Peaceful
protests are one thing Black Lives Matter, but the Panthers were a
nice touch.

It wasn’t so long ago we emboldened the Nazis to
start marching again. Think they’re screaming and chanting because
they feel empowered and capable and worthwhile? No no, they’re
victims of the immigrant hoards and other incoherent babble. Purely
at the level of using the word “victim” though, no one would want
to be compared to an insecure Nazi. If that Nazi were human, then his
actions might make more sense and there’d be some common ground. If
he wasn’t so filled with hate for his environment and how it makes
him feel, we might be able to shuffle him into a reeducation camp
until he’s gung-ho about officiating lesbian Jewish weddings one

Victim seems to stem from an inability to go tit for tat.
A girl is a victim because she can’t fight back without risking
further harm. A minority is a victim because they’re outnumbered or
denied access. Children are victims because they don’t know any
better. Animals are victims of the forces of nature to begin with
before tinting that nature human hues. This could speak to why a word
like “equality” has such a poignant ring for many people. This
seems to speak towards the gun-lover’s fever dream of fighting off a
tyrannous government. This is the resentment the rich feel for
“moochers” and “entitlement.”

Each case is slightly
different, but they all require a certain blindness. Whether that
blindness is imposed or faithfully adhered to is going to depend on
each person’s level of personal responsibility. The idea of being
like water just popped into my head. Does the girl really want to
take on the greater risk of fighting back, or can she flow into
another form of exercising power and resistance? If you’re black in
the U.S. is your community destined to fall into disrepair and
violence without the tax base, or did efforts to stay organized and
informed leave with the money? I feel perfectly blind to how I’m
going to achieve my goals in a manner that doesn’t keep me glued to
my car delivering food or some otherwise demoralizing and uninspired
labor, and the stress of how to flow around that hurdle is

This is the only way I know how to try and
understand why people don’t get anywhere. This is rough. This is sad.
This is lonely. I hate it. I hate myself. I’m not a victim, but
that’s a statement bread from hopeful denial of the list of things
I’d lose my breath trying to say all at once. I’m forced by my own
conception of personal responsibility to always acknowledge, but
downplay, the negatives happening to me. I have to keep inventing new
options, exploring the smallest chances, and shaming every moment I
can’t get it together. I’ve fashioned my life around something like,
“Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” Me
doing everything I know how to the degree I’m capable needs to put me
in the parking lot before the building opens, if you want to discuss
my idea of “early.”

So now, I might try to claim I’m a
victim of my own mind. I’ve habituated a delusion. I’ve condensed
every conclusion into some flawed metric by which to judge my value
or place. And I can’t shut it off. Everything I do that isn’t in
service to “what matters” is by default on a scale from boring to
harmful. Worse than resenting other people’s happiness, you don’t
even recognize it. What does a kiss on a mountain top have to do with
me? Why do I get the impression your nightly prayers are for your
cats or dogs to speak English? How fondly will you regard your
vacation when you’re 70 and still working without a pension or
401(k)? I don’t care to be bothered by matching someone else’s
happiness, I want them to match my concern. I want an acknowledgment
of our collective victimhood with regard to our avoiding minds and
get-used-to-it biases.

My future self isn’t trying to get
everyone to quit their jobs and just get drunk in a field with me
indefinitely. My future self is one who never has to bitch because
he’s gotten to the ground floor of problems that can actually be
fixed. He wants to give a shit about happiness. He wants to think
it’s worth bringing kids into the world. He wants to spend as much
time tripping balls or on morphine as it takes to forget he’s on his
way out, and when it’s over, no one will have to use his death
greedily and fearfully. My future self is creating and exploring not
out of desperation, but because new details and new technologies will
require pioneers. Does anyone reading this feel like that? Can you
remember when or if you ever have?

I don’t seek to make it
sound so dramatic, but we get absolutely nowhere alone. You don’t get
a title or a dollar amount and then finally
time to start on your dreams. I didn’t do the coffee shop alone, the
party house, picnics, acid trips, or ice skating by myself. I didn’t
get all fucked in the head about relationships and friends or get to
be better than average at Super Smash Brothers from steeping my nose
in preteen novels and watching Twitch. I didn’t even get a single
task done correctly on the land over 3 months and 4 thousand dollars
until my dad drove the 3 hours to knock out a 2 day task in 2 days.
Whatever you think about the path you’re on, if you have some
specific conception of yourself that you’ve hung over the fence
surrounding your job or convenient social structure, it’s dead in the
water. That’s why you grieve for your lost loved ones whether they’ve
physically died or not.

Why not? I’ll ring it again. I want
help. I need help. I need presence and the smallest enthusiasm with
which to run with. I’d settle for someone to talk to while I’m
digging a hole big enough to burn 80 yards of carpet in. Do I deserve
it? I’m not a lonely kid or hungry veteran. You probably only want to
help the real victims, piecemeal, in ways that make you feel like
you’re contributing. You’re not a victim in lieu of them, right? The
battle you can win? You’re right on time.

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[652] Long & Hard

I think the one hard and fast rule I need for this blog is to never sound like a kiss-ass. You know those lines that start out with awkward fawning over something or citing a dozen caveats to show you’re actually in the know? A year after #Oscarssowhite you break your back bending over to thank Denzel Washington, somehow up your own, yet popping out of your ass. What I am going to try to do is state as many approximating truths as I can back to back that should be wrapped around and compliment each other. This method will make any one line sound absolutely terrible, but those in the game of removing context can find ways to do that with everything.

It might be easier to start with a word that runs in parallel with the sexual assault reveal movement. Feminist. I’m not a feminist. There are as many ways to define it as there are people to claim it, so I don’t claim it. It is subjected to the same rule as any other word we employ to mean everything, yet also something deeply personally specific. If you ask me if I believe in equal pay for equal work, I say yes. Of course women should have control over their own bodies. And yes, despite super cunts, most aren’t lying when they claim to have been assaulted.

If you ask me if we should have equal representation across all domains, I ask what you’re smoking. Do I think men and women are equal? No. Even in general? Insofar as they are human, sure. But the concept of “equality” has taken on a majestic or holy status that wants to rip it out of any coherent definition. It currently, out-of-hand, demonizes differences and distributions in service to an unromantic caricature of shifting power dynamics. To that end, to be a “feminist” who believes in “equality” is to adopt the hashtag and the chant relating your general perception of injustice, but to do absolutely nothing but confuse ever settling on a means to fix it that isn’t the incidental runoff after the mob washes over.

To drill down further, I don’t think inequality is in and of itself a bad thing. Everyone is different. Some people at some levers of power fixed the game to ensure “unfair” advantages. Keep in mind, you can only claim fairness with a shared conception that socializes and grants equal access to resources. We can’t agree everyone even deserves to live in this country. Take that level of mental deficiency, and then think about how smug and defensive real estate developers would be with their red pencils. Here we begin to bleed into a conversation about avaricious souls and manifest corruption. To me it’s the beginning of the real conversation; it’s the place of what constitutes a human soul and what it has done throughout history or will conceivably do when conditions look the same.

I wrote once about how “rape was the name of the game” and cited how much of the current world’s population is in some way related to Gengis Khan. I was arguing that things have gotten better. In order to understand how they got better some like to employ “capitalism” or “ women’s liberation” or “science.” Fundamentally, it’s too large of a claim about too many things. I made it before I stopped much believing in the “objective” means by which to judge huge periods in history. It’s easy to say it’s a good thing people aren’t dying from easily curable diseases. It’s another to allow them to die of starvation or war 20 years later because you never got the heart of the real issue.

And so, finally, we can start talking about “sexual assault.” Do I think you should make “unwanted advances?” Often enough, you find out they’re unwanted precisely the moment after you’ve made them. As a person too comfortable with his body, there’s a fair amount of women who could grab my ass or dick and I’d probably giggle, smirk, and thank them. Are you immediately reeling? I just betrayed myself right? Because I’m a guy, so it’s different, right? I’m missing the power dynamics. I’m missing the perpetual fear women live under. I’m known to be “too much” in the perv realm or with my sexually charged comments and inappropriate jokes.

So is your offended and betrayed gut just being sexist? Just because I can theoretically beat the shit out of a woman who chose to violate my temple doesn’t mean that option is truly on the table or really what I’d deign to pick. Perhaps you’re quick to point out that it’s often young people that are preyed upon, to which I’m wondering why you’re quickly shifting away from what I’m getting at to lazily suggest I’d defend fucking with children. Maybe you get it, you’re not offended, and you think it’s just as egregious that I might have my ass slapped or grabbed, which has happened, and, dammit, well, SOMETHING SHOULD BE DONE!

I usually try to apply this method every time I’m bitching about my own life. What’s the realistic alternative? The easiest one is speech, for me. Should you tell some girl you’re attracted to you want to cum in her hair and suck on her feet, perhaps on your coffee break? You’re probably courting disaster, but at the same time if she, or the mob, reflexively suggest that anything ever that any man says under any circumstance that creeps out or offends or “makes you feel threatened” should be banned and punishable by social and financial death, things have gone bat shit crazy. And I wouldn’t say it that way if I hadn’t at times heard it reflected that way. Leave aside the totalitarian bent of policing speech and just think about how many holes you’d put in the concept of communication as a whole. What’s a realistic alternative to never hearing from a creeper or someone who insists too heavily that doesn’t scream hysteria? What if, and this is the hardest thing apparently, some guys some of the time are going to rise to that level of terrible or annoying or inappropriate, and life went on?

For me, because I don’t get sexual advances as often as I hear the pretty and not-so-pretty do, I have to invent a world where I’m hearing something I don’t want about my body or what you’d want to do me, say at least half a dozen times a day. (I’ll pretend I never saw Jessica Williams walk down the street in New York) I can dip into my childhood and draw from the banks of the shit my mom said about me, but that feels unfairly biased by my youthful inability to deal with bullshit. I suppose I’m also a terrible case study in this because if when it’s not a girl I’d hook up with, I’m still flattered, and I know this because I’ve referenced with pride the amount of gay guys who’ve been into it. Hmmm, let’s consider this paragraph a bust and leave it to the audience to one day create the conditions for me to experience the proper empathy.

Moving on, another way to state “life going on” is that, I can conceivably accept a world where the “worst” thing we do to each other is offend or get offended by sexually charged language. That’s like 1st layer Mormon heaven on Earth. For the sake of argument, say no one gets raped, no one gets beaten up, and every instance you’ve interacted with semen has been by choice as well as every naked picture of you online signed off and approved. We’re always going to be as bad as “human.” If terrible, horrible, violent, rapist humans manage to contain themselves to words? Time to start counting those blessings.

But dammit, we have to deal with violence. We have to discuss entitlement. Our deepest rooted religious institutions vouchsafe the subordination of women. They’ve trained us to idolize the female form in ways that stupefy the nudist and his furrowed brow. The asexuals just look on with a pallid density that seems to betray their very existence.

What should we do!? Ironically, while I want to semi-mock hash-tagging things, it is important to talk things out in order to shift the landscape. There have been consequences. The right kind? The “biggest” kind? The lasting kind? I don’t know and mostly doubt it. But consequences nonetheless. But again, and I find this a facet and problem with “celebrity” in general, we’re glossing over the ugly human underbelly and making it about who’s got the snarkiest comment incorporating a pun from the accused’s previous work. It’s cheap and lazy. Repeat ad nauseam that Weinstein is ugly and disgusting and Kevin Spacey is aggressively handsy. You’ll never get to the greed at the heart of all men’s souls. You compound the sin by not seeing yourself in it.

When I got to college, for example, at some point in the introductory videos and discussions, it was relayed to us that if ANY amount of alcohol was consumed by you or your partner they were COMPLETELY UNABLE to grant consent. They said literally everything but, “If you drink and hook up, you’re all rapists.” While I doubt this had the intended effect of instilling the fear of God in the incoming class, I think it’s an example of that over-correction self-righteous beat only concerned with fortifying their childish utopia. Either literally everyone I know or have ever partied with is a rapist, including myself, or people drink and hook up, and some very shitty and dangerous people drug or take advantage of others in no position to remember or consent. If you lose that distinction from the get-go, I’m not convinced you know or care to talk about anything real.

This is coming from a guy with a vested interest. I’ve been the overly-enthused or insistent in coming on to any girl that showed even the smallest interest, particularly as a teenager. Was it my best or most respectful behavior? No. Was I one step away from holding someone down and playing with their tits or fucking them against their will? Apparently, given the landscape, that’s wholly dependent on who you ask. I quickly and comfortably say no, but I can see immediately the fear someone might experience trying to talk about their questionable drinking escapades or youthful indiscretions (talk about a dangerous phrase) and it opening the path for a lynch mob.

There’s a difference between the power of the mob and the power of speaking out. The mob can get things done, rarely with anymore tact or appreciation for what’s happening than the accused. The power of speaking out gives you an opportunity to join in solidarity and go on that search for meaningful change. We seem to conflate the two as quickly as every #metoo piles on the same pile higher and higher. It seems a measure of our deeply misunderstood relation to power that underlies the energy of these movements more than anything. And that’s the tragedy of it all. It’s fireworks on the surface of a world you think needs to implode.

For my part, I’ve called or messaged or asked people if and when my mind lingered on whether or not I was being too “fresh.” I’ve apologized and been met with, “Meh, we’re cool.” I think it’s dangerous to paint half the population as this violent predatory monster and use previously understood social norms, with notable pitfalls, as a stand-in for what’s really going on. We can’t forget who the players are. I don’t believe the media circus is where “our” human power lies to fix cultural norms. I don’t think hash-tags or celebrities are going to save the next one.

In bypassing your obligation to dig deeper, you have to decide to be a victim first. You have adopt the language of the oppressed first. If you’d rather poke the heart of the matter, put together that picture of what is realistically possible given where humanity is in that heart and cultural mind. Maybe you’ll shift your energy from vacuuming up character assassination articles and ruminate on how we educate our children, how we talk (or don’t) about sex, or who we’re taking our cues from with regard to the, hardly agreed upon, abhorrent behavior. You think “grab her by the pussy” is President because the problem is just men?

It’s easy for me to recall instances from what’s been called “toxic masculinity.” I’ve been offered high fives over the number of black girls me and another friend have slept with. Both wildly racist and sexist at once, and yes, I turned down the high five. This same gentleman seems to reflexively refer to girls as bitches as well. Like, hey feminism, you missed a generation. But guess what, he’s also not a rapist, and has been accused of being one for, I’m not kidding, having no sexual contact whatsoever with the girl in question. Something is seriously broken, and it’s not our resolve to believe girls like that. For my part, even if I don’t conceive of women as a flock of bitches or take special pride in what races I have sex with, if the worst thing that comes out of me and this friend’s relationship is me telling him his bitches comments are crass and uncomfortable, that seems like an acceptable realistic standard for our dynamic. I can accept that kind of “locker room talk.”

Life is a threat. Every day something is angling to kill you. People on The Hill do it with “The Women’s Health and Safety Act” that guts all funding for birth control and sex education. “Capitalism” shoots up the cost of luxurious tampons and diapers if only to kill via eventual exhaustion. “The mainstream media” has so degraded our concept of shared institutions and knowledge we’re actively chasing the demise of even the illusion of democracy. You want to talk sexual assault, or perhaps racism, or maybe you find it wise to stick to numbers and the environment. But you don’t bother to recognize the enemy. It’s not men. It’s not white people. It’s not “climate skeptics.” It’s you. You don’t organize so you don’t recognize so you can’t share and build on the underlying mechanisms for change.

Again for effect, you don’t organize (your thoughts or otherwise), so you don’t recognize (nuance, aberration, or a path to deeper truths), so you can’t share (anything but a hashtag) and build (matching institutions that have been writing policy and subverting norms for decades) on the underlying mechanisms for change.

You don’t call greed, pride, wrath, sloth, envy, gluttony, and lust by their names, leaving you to only whine in concert about your feelings. You only speak when it doesn’t matter, when you want to join the mob and lynch a rich person, or when you feel safe your catch-all cliché or pithy parlance will get retweeted and loved. You’re the threat to everything you’re pretending to care about. And it’s a tragedy when you actually do care. And you’ll never bother with the work of figuring out why.

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[651] The Real Real

acted like a normal person today. I called around about different
places to take music lessons. I spent money I rightfully earned on
whatever struck me as a thing I wanted. I ignored appeals from The
Man to go into work because I don’t need to yet. I grabbed lunch. I
went to a movie and actually got things from the concession stand.
Then I went to renew my gym membership. Normal, right? Pro-active,
grabbing my life by the horns and making initiating steps into a
resolved flow and future.

The alternative to my day is the
story actually in my mind. I “missed my chance” to get pinged on
first and stay on all day working. I “wasted” money on a
massively overpriced hot dog and Snickers bites. I’m “distracting”
myself by introducing an obligation not to waste my money at the gym
when running, though bad for the joints, is free and I sold my free
weights before I moved. $17 per half hour for lessons? Aren’t Youtube
and Google a thing?

I think it’s reasonable enough to assess
my head as generally my enemy. It has a contrary posture by nature.
One might argue it’s growing more conservative. My car will blow up
again. I’ll maybe hurt something. One day someone will actually call
me back and be prepared to get work done on the land. So, naturally,
every penny at all times should be reserved for the Prime Directive
goal. Or, so my shallow brain wants to believe.

I feel there’s
been a dangerous confusion going on lately about my disposition and
what I am or am not asking of you. I hope to address this now. The first paragraph is who the world wants me to be. The second who I am. The first describes the work I do to stay “grounded.” The second is the nag that provokes comments and blogs. The less we see or know each other, you’re gonna reflexively crave the first, while online I’m only going to be offering the second.

expect nothing of you. When you do something that seems in line with
what I like, I’ll try to show it. That’s about it. I’m not someone
who seeks pity or sympathy. I try to state things as I see them or
capture the moment when I’m managing to feel. That’s it. We can grow
apart. We never talk. We can belabor misunderstandings until you
justify whatever it is you need to about me. I’m already over

Eminem’s line, “God sent me to piss the world off” has
been ringing in my head. I’m suspicious of the idea that it’s in line
with my “purpose” to slowly alienate nearly everyone I’ve ever
known. There’s the dumb acquaintance or friend who chases everyone
away because they got way over their head into a pyramid scheme.
There’s the one who actively changes into a vicious ideologue or
increasingly fearful spite monster that chases people away. I’ve
learned that by simply talking and asking questions, I piss off LOADS
of people, more often than not at random, and I could claim to have
never seen it coming but for the previous years of our nonexistent

When I was burning the candles of “friendship”
and “family” too hot, this concerned me. It no longer does.

mostly think to bring this up after a facebook friend got angry at me
for, what I can only try to sum up as not “doing more.” My
capacity for stating the obvious and “not thinking hard enough”
about what to do next really frustrated her. If I’m getting her
position wrong, I think none of us will ever know. Either way,
without rehashing what I don’t think is the point, I still have
concerns regarding doing for the sake of doing and have impressed
upon you many times how we should better constitute “more.” Her
contention I feel had little to do with what my statement was about
in the first place, but nonetheless, I got a mini exciting little
exchange out of it.

Along with Eminem, after that exchange I
had Shia LaBeouf’s “JUST DO IT” screaming in my head the rest of
the day as well. So often am I encouraged to just do things to
whatever end, I decided to take the advice. Did I spend more than I
wanted? Who’s pretending I even know what I want!? I just did it. It
was mine to do.

think it’s important to keep in mind that a large portion of my being
is about identifying opportunities for restraint. Are any of you
under the impression I have a problem “doing things” or saying
yes to myself and my desires? Because if you’re angry at me for
“wallowing” in my free time and money, you’ve missed the point so
hard the league should consider banning you from playing again.

want that real real. I want
that sense that drives and motivates and cuts out the right time and
can be sustained and be taken pride in. I want it any and every
chance I can get it. I have half a dozen fat girls on OkCupid that
are as equally excited and free to go bowling as I am, but that’s not
that real real. I
could recount my time taking in media and movies as me being some
aspiring critic or nuanced aficionado, but that doesn’t have shit to do
with the point or brunt of what I’m doing or why. It’s why I don’t
like most of the shit you post. It’s why you don’t see or don’t
bother with most of the shit I post.

I’ll tell you right now,
I don’t care how old you get, how comfortable or resolved, or how
much you think you’ve really figured out. I know, it’s a time honored
tradition, that the real real
of nailing down definitions and digging up the roots of feelings and
parsing out difficult language isn’t your bag. I know the very core
of my being pisses you the fuck off. Life’s hard enough, you don’t
need me getting rooted in your brain against your will. I’m a
“catastrophe friend.” I’ll be there when you’re in the dark, and
until then, I’m only going to make your world darker if you’re not
like or accepting of me.

This I feel I’ve finally come to
terms with. I’m a lock, in person. I turn on the charm offensive, I
make you laugh, I help you cross lines, and I shower affection and
cash to smooth over any rough parts. But on that trip home? Oh no no
no, what did we do? What did he say? You know, he’s always been a bad
influence. Have you read his blog? Dude’s a psycho! Life could be so
much simpler if he’d just let it. I’ve got my partner and hobbies and
I work to keep myself involved. Why can’t he just find his own corner
of the world to disappear into?

Fair assessment or not, all I
have is speculation. You don’t talk. Maybe more specifically, you
don’t talk to me. Again, no blame or shame or pity party, calm down,
it’s just a fact. I have friends who talk to me, don’t worry, it’s
just not you, and I’m not that unsure of why. Egomania does me no
favors, but neither do appeals and quips and random check-ins, so I
default to what’s easiest. Oh well, normal people have to
be loved at their worst for you to be allowed their best
I think my soul just threw up a little.

It’s only in the real
that one is willing to
concede their joke of an existence and nothing worthwhile posture. Do
you want to say that about yourself? Fuck no. But if and when you
can’t say things when they’re true, what good are you? I’m just as
quick to toot my horn when that beautiful sound is due. Let me say it
like this, if you were having an incredibly hard time finding meaning
or direction, I wouldn’t tell you to join a failing union and to stop
bitching. First, I’d probably invite you to lunch, and then I’d start
asking a dozen questions.

That’s a tell, by the way. When you
don’t know something and remain incapable of asking questions, you
make your position on the other person increasingly their fault. Now
they’re not just annoying or whiny, but hopeless and combative or
defensive yada yada because you got incensed by a line you might not
have understood. It happens fluidly and all the time. It’s the only
way I know how to not take it personally either silence or a bit of a
fight. If I was easy to understand, I wouldn’t be on my 651st
blog. That you would have anything less devoted to your ever-changing
existence is what perpetually scares the shit out of me. That is,
because you seem to generally have all the answers, somehow, even
when your favorite answer is silence.

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[650] Man, Over, Bored

I am infected. I’m infected like
grandpa who can’t help but to refer to them as “the blacks.” I’m
an Olympic judo master who knows your neck might be broken if you
come at me from behind. I’m a horse that will turn left or right just
by you draping the reigns across my neck. I’ve an underlying habit, a
notion, and drive always accelerating, and I can’t put the energy,
the stress, and the training anywhere meaningful.

I’ve always
considered myself hard to diagnose. Even if I’m in a “depressive
state,” which I almost certainly am, just like the most heated
anger, just like the quivering sadness, I’m going to pick it apart.
I’m going to whitewash the churning inhumanity that wants to turn me
inside out. Sure, I have nowhere to go. Sure, I’m as close to an
“adult” as I’ve ever been with my dead-end job, resentful living
circumstances, and actual debts with an opened-ended payment
schedule. And sure, I wrote a 3 page poem making a case for

But isn’t that right there the point? I think so
little about everything around what I’d actually like to be doing. I
understand the danger I might cause to someone at the wrong place and
time. I’ll be as quick or quicker to ridicule and diminish any level
of strife I might be experiencing because something something Niger’s
next. It’s that it’s very hard to be actively destructive. It takes a
lot of energy and time. When everything around you feels destroyed
already, now it gets easy. Now you just have to play along.

only speaking to my ongoing lamentation with life in general. We
don’t have little boxes made of ticky-tacky anymore. Now we have seas
of apartment complexes and The Real World’s number of roommates. It’d
be dumb to romanticize the suburbs, but there’s no denying you live
in a different world when you’re responsible for your shelter and
land. When the onus is on you to feel useful and learn how to take
apart the washing machine. When you can decorate with more than a
dollar store skeleton on your door for Halloween.

The land
represents a sort of last frontier for me. Remember, getting a
“regular job” and going into debt and hating my life were a last
resort for a reason. There’s still a measure of freedom and growth
and creativity that can be explored there that never not ever will I
get on a delivery run. So, of course, it’s getting cold, and my car
wants to act up harder and harder, and I obligate myself to poor
taxes because everything fucks and gets fucked in compounded ways. Do
you know where the real Nick P. is? Apparently able to have a smooth
and charming completely blacked out conversation with a girl for 45
minutes. He was right in front of me!

I feel lucky when I can
latch onto a few quotes. Willie Nelson apparently said, “If you
fail long enough at something, you become a legend.” I think that’s
my goal with writing. Suck so much at getting anywhere or helping
anything that some naive cave dwelling humanoid who stumbles across a
pile of my droppings can mistakenly call it the find of the century.
In this scenario I’ve made thousands of copies and distributed them
through crazed ramblings in the streets spitting through my dangling
gray hair.

I use the word navie a lot. That either means I see
the same shit too often, or there’s a better word lingering. I
suppose you can only be naive when you actually believe something and
there’s an objective means that will summarily shut you down. Then
you could reduce any hope or chance anyone ever believes in to a
measure of naivety. That might be unfair.

I’m just always
waiting. I don’t know if it’s a psychological hole or what. I’m
waiting for what I already had. I’m waiting to start something real
again. I’m waiting for a measure of control and security that
underpins actual progress. It’s like I’m stuck in a fog of incoherent
political babble. Bloviating bullshit bolstered by bastard bitches.
And I listen and scroll. I take in a book. I watch all the TV. I
return to my article reading to discover I actually had already
figured it out before. I’ve nowhere to go and nothing that matters.
Just sit, and wait, and try to avoid provoking jeers from the “other”
accidental roommate.

I could use some help in figuring out how
to blame myself. Recall I spent over a years rent and utilities in
the last 3 months trying to get the house livable. I’ve contacted 25
different contractors or meth-heads with varying and fleeting degrees
of success. I can’t stop my car from blowing up. I won’t really be
headed in a good direction if I adopt too high of a car payment and
insurance charges. I’ll never let myself live it down if I actually
manage to have a heart attack or rupture something serious by
spending too many hours working. Not like I’d have the health
insurance to keep me out of another hole that would dig me in. I make
more money than many of my age group’s “big boy” jobs with all
the extra time to resent my own self in not knowing how to spend it

I’m just a mouthpiece at this point. Even my “little”
goals like learning different instruments feel impossibly far away. I
was supposed to be able to practice any time I wanted out in the
middle of nowhere, you see. Now I just chauffeur a few around as I
slowly beat my car into submission one drum rudiment at a time. I’ve
been toying with getting a gym membership again. You know that smooth
conversation I got into? Well, apparently that girl was down to mess
around and I quickly decided she should go with my friend who was on
leave and started to walk home. The sex drive is under attack! I
haven’t lost the charm and smirk and jokes, but…eh, if you ever
once thought you had something real, that shit kind of sticks in you.
One more worthwhile and fun distraction being slowly led out to

I’m trying to find a way to breakdown
that doesn’t negatively affect you. That would be something. Crazy
self-hating people do that cliché thing where they go on the attack.
It doesn’t take me getting sad or losing my mind to argue against all
of your Snapchat and Instagram lives. Before it started affecting me
so directly and consistently, I’ve offered enough of my suspicions
regarding the Giant Lies by which you all conduct yourselves and
charade I play in trying to glean the runoff benefits. The art would
be in making you feel good about it. Not relieved, of course you’d
feel relieved, but good. I don’t want to you to feel like I’m a
lifted tax burden, I want you to feel like you had a good

That’s not quick bullet after a drunk night and angry
blog. In fact, that’s not any method that might’ve sprung to the
front of your mind or perhaps have envisioned for yourself. That
would take some sleight of hand and real magic shit.
Think of the preparation and coordination. Now, You Don’t See Me Too.

enough about my imminent death of my ideals and motivations which is
considerably worse than the loss of whatever embodied phantom I might
resemble in the halls of your mind. It just happens when the rest you
want has nothing to do with sleep. Like, I’ll sleep better when the
lies aren’t winning. I’ll want to get back up when I can meet a day
that’s going to give back what I put into it. I want to feel myself
believing in things again, not the bare minimum survival of helpless
kicking in the air. I really really miss me. I miss seeing the future
I wasn’t going to be dragged into. I miss feeling like an advocate
with clear and present examples to refute your pessimism and
negativity charges. I’m just an old guy with random pain flares,
dwindling friendships, and compounded obligations. If the situation
regarding cooperation was dire back when I first mentioned it, I’ve
well tumbled over that cliff and am hoping not to break every finger
trying to cling to the wall on my way down.

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[649] Cuntsequence

I want to be very careful. The intent is to shy as far away from “mere complaining” as possible. My instinct is telling me that given the nature of the subject matter this will take some time to try and do well. I have to talk, but I’m wary that my “have to” mechanism is slowly breaking down in potentially hazardous ways.

Maybe we start with an “inspirational” video someone posted about something Elon Musk said regarding “never giving up.” Depending on the degree of fanboy (it’s always boys), you can find any degree of problems throughout Musk’s life that he conquered which in turn can serve as your own motivation. You’re bullied now? Well, wipe the blood from your nose, your future is in the stars! One might envision a tongue-in-cheek inspirational poster saying something like “How many rockets would you crash in order to achieve immortality?”

Our culture is nothing if not full of the idea that we can piggyback other peoples’ accomplishments. Their troubles are more “generally human,” and thus if we tap into our immortal connected spirit, everything gets better.

I’m losing that thread.

To get it out of the way, I don’t have problems. I invent problems. I adopt problems. I impose problems. I anticipate having problems in the future, but I don’t have problems. My mind is annoying, but if the worst I have to do is this, hardly a problem. No one is forcing me to eat like shit, work too much, or swallow anymore than the next guy in some abstract denunciation regarding the problems of capitalism.

Perhaps I can’t tell the difference between whether I’ve lost something or if I’ve never had it. I like to consider myself a man of consequence. I put my time or my mind to something and “things” find a way to resolve themselves in ways I sought. That means, more often than anything else, chasing away waterfalls of crappy people and circumstances that get in the way. It might be said that I’m just a persistent shit shoveler more than I have some particular talent or tact. That’s what this is, right? Shoveling one scoop of my dumping mind. I never know how big the pile is.

My living situation is shoveling shit. Whether it’s the shit of passive aggressive bitchiness, the being ignored or lied to by, pushing dozens, of construction people, or the fake concern and regard my job has for its “independent contractors.” I can strive and thrive, I can huff and fling. I can kill time and get blackout drunk and say things I don’t remember or believe. Why? I’m living in increasingly “there is no cause and effect” terms. I’m holding no regard for people with shortcuts and quasi-racist sentiments. Sober Nick would have said it was entitled idiotic white people who signaled to the rest of the developing world that they should be like that too. Blackout drunk Nick has a grudge against all of the Indians who don’t tip, and apparently takes it out on an Uber driver.

Worse than my lazy degradation into, honestly, I struggle to call it racism because I don’t care about Indian people anymore than I do others, but let’s run with it to make the point even greater. I don’t even care. I’m not worried about being perceived as a racist, let alone whatever lazy inanities I was spewing blacked out. I’m trying to care. I’m trying to figure out why I should give a shit about anyone, especially ones I don’t know, and I can’t. My efforts as of late are being served nothing but shit on a stick and resentment and sneers, it must feel like it’s my time to get on board.

And yes, it’s as lazy and typical and obviously morally defunct as anything and anyone else, and I don’t care. Add back into the equation me thinking of myself as a man of consequence. What happens then? What happens when it’s “not just a joke” anymore? What happens when my intentionality and break down results in actual harms? I’m not poised to hit the streets with a tiki torch angling to beat someone up, but what if I break something important? What if I do the equivalent of laying down under a train speeding over my body in an attempt to “get something back” about what’s missing in my experience or lack of meaningful action? It’s worth noting as an aside how, in these moments, I respect absolutely no one who doesn’t bother with the details for why they’re not “sharing their life” with someone else. I don’t need the provocation.

I can feel my eyes changing. I’m seeing myself in the lonely old men in the beater cars in front of mine. More cliche than thought finds its way to my lips. I’m not just eating like shit, but doing so voraciously, with an energetic spike that sees plenty of happy big bellied dudes with a litter of kids and no shame. If that were my goal, staying “in shape” is likely only to alienate me from the increasingly goofy-looking, fat, and lonely population.

I don’t know that I deserve to be angry at myself. Everything I do is about “the future,” besides drinking. It makes sense to have a house without bills and rent, right? But that’s not what I’m allowed to talk about. I have to talk about being lied to. I have to talk about being “too much” in needing a floor to sleep on. I have to talk about drunk nights out when all I wanted to do was go bowling. But, even when you wait, even when you plan, even when you give them a week or more, I know how to get 9 people to not go bowling that said they would. Or, I know their work is more important, their meal prep, their mis scheduling, their waiting to hear back from, their other thing that usually happens around then.

There was a thread about being the friend who “always texts first.” Apparently there are a lot of lonely sad extroverts with terrible friend groups. I’ve heard at least a dozen times the last week about how hard it is to make friends as an adult. Quickly follows is some placating sentiment about fluidity and maturity that never speaks to the heart of it. Was something lost, or was it never there to begin with? Do I think it’s a coincidence I’ll probably never be invited to another “friend’s” wedding now that I’m no longer with my ex? By the numbers, I’ve been “loner” me for considerably longer than whatever romance I attempted to make out of my time in college.

That seems to speak to the deepest compulsion. You want a family, even if it’s a bad one, even if it’s a lie. I want my TV families. I want the best for my dad and stepmom even if their surrounding family generally suck. I want to believe the laughs were genuine, the parties weren’t bad excuses, and the plans could actually come true. Is that the world we’re living in? Is that just the world being thrust into my experience, corrupting my otherwise persistent nature?

It’s that I’m fed up with having to rely on people. Cross my fingers for a big tip. Be strung along by white trash incidentally, barely, more knowledgeable and having of the time to get shit done I need. Talk down to the manchild so I can inhabit his space. Be constantly ignored by anyone fleetingly actually capable. I’m living at the whims of the weather and precisely ZERO people I respect. I want to be blacked out of that world. I want to tear down the idea that there’s anything left of a responsible reliable actor who’s capable of navigating it. No one is. No one should be forced to pretend they can. Money doesn’t work, trust is a joke, hard work gets you heart palpitations and one giant cramp consisting of your whole body. What’s the fucking point? Judge me, get angry, give your lazy opinion in reaction to mine. It’s meaningless, directionless babble that only hurts when you’re dumb enough to keep playing along.

I want to go back to learning. I want to sit in my box all day, read terrible things about the world, spend all my money on my projects, and be left the fuck alone. You know how hard it is to get there? Want to take a guess how many steps it takes to be left the fuck alone? Wanna know how many thousands of dollars and stupid conversations and hiccups and cancers you have to cure? I can barely listen to anyone but myself anymore. It’s a loop or a marble sorting game of debased emptiness. And I’m a man of consequence. I put it all here. What do I expect from the equally disorganized idiots who won’t take an active role in their self-destruction?

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[648] Family Treason

I’ve been thinking a lot about family, and more specifically, in the context of media. As far as how family does or doesn’t operate in my own life, I think I’ve refrained from seeing a connection that helps explain my approach to who I’ve let in my life and why. Let’s talk this out.

TV is reliable. For hundreds of episodes you can tune into the same faces. No matter the levels of betrayal or craziness, the characters return to each other. No one is ever too dimwitted or angry or caring or wacky. They serve a purpose and have a role. They play off and round out until you get a picture of something that persists. Modern Family is never going to seriously discuss divorce nor is Blackish ever going to have Dre wake up to a burning cross in his yard.

TV isn’t just reliable in that way, it’s what we flatten out with a rolling pin to make it easier to consume. Depression can be touched up by endearing quirks and not-too-off-color jokes. Obesity gets a backstory of excuses and room to understand. Entitlement sits at the head of an overflowing dinner table. Rage gets redirected towards off-screen or low-tier entities you’re not invested in. Every time a TV show tries to get “tough” and “deal with the real issues,” it is, by being designed, serving to undermine the stated goal in service to the reason it ever became such a powerful reflection in the first place. We care about the story, not the truth.

Think about what happens when a character dies. When a “beloved” character is ripped from our expectations, we revel in the surprise. Game of Thrones is nothing if not for its “shocking” deaths, now so numerous it’s a built in joke and expectation. If half the cast were killed in the opening episode of the new season, the show would go on. Our TV families are expected to go through everything so we don’t have to. Let them negotiate peace. Let them forgive. Let them cope.

TV is an indirect measure of where “we” collectively reside as a culture. The ever-expanding diversity of television and networks acts as though it speaks towards a measure of progress or that we’re hearing new and marginalized voices. I don’t think so. I think we’ve always been prepared to hear the black story, or gay story, or woman’s story, because the story absolves us of any real responsibility to any real relationship with someone who’s black, gay, or a woman. Somewhere, deep down, are more representations of different people a good thing? I think so. Is it the kind of work that traverses deep cultural divides and fosters togetherness? I think not even close.

There’s a weird irony constantly at play. The closer you look, and the harder you try to capture, the more likely you are to corrupt. I’m criticized for my “direct” nature. I hate dancing around pleasantries and speaking in code. People often think I don’t understand the kind of mistake I’m making. Our culture is predicated on that indirect approach. You don’t tell the girl you like her, you feign like you’re not interested. You don’t tell the boss to go fuck himself, you accomplish something that impresses the person above them. TV is a natural extension of this. You don’t make a gay friend, you reference something funny Cam said to signal you’re not an overt hater. You can’t be racist if you love watching Insecure.

The writers are usually trying to accomplish something real in any series that takes itself seriously. They lived those moments. They had those almost exact conversations. They didn’t have the lighting and the timing, but here’s as close an approximation to what happened when I came out at Thanksgiving, where’s my Emmy? But they wrote the episode. They lived it. They did the work, so you don’t think you have to.

It’s the indirect pose that I think gives us our baseline ideas regarding our own families. People put up with the worst kinds of abuses. They shoulder the responsibility when nothing is ever returned in kind. Family sticks together, right? Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. At the end of the day, all you have is family. It works for the Mafia! If you weren’t paying attention. I was told growing up, “You’re brothers, you should love each other.” No doubt a sentiment passed to my father as earnestly as he tried to pass it onto us.

But where is the love? I don’t recall a single week my entire life me and my brother got along particularly well. My dad’s siblings have done everything in their power to resent and take advantage and steal from him. My mom was all forms of abusive towards him well before she got around to taking things out on us. But we’re family? Right? My dad and stepmom are currently shouldering the major portion of the fallout from my uncle’s recent cancer diagnosis. A task I wouldn’t put into the hands of any of his siblings were he on the receiving end. If it were an episode of TV, my dad would be the resilient everyman who’s capacity for forgiveness knows no bounds, and my uncle might see the light of his actions previously for just a second before dying off serenely surrounded by tearful, artfully suggestive of caring, family.

I tried to be more explicit in my concept and approach to “family.” I started picking friends. Where I screwed up was in the assumption family in and of itself meant anything, let alone that anyone would hold similar ideas to me as to how they would function. I think this is a major component to my confusion and frustration regarding my relative expectations about them. I had said out loud that they weren’t going to be playthings, they were different, I choose them to be as good or as bad as they are and we can all agree that this is how it works. I tried to cast a show that didn’t know it was filming. I directly dictated a puzzle that could only fall apart after it slid together while no one was looking.

Here I think about your “first love.” I certainly didn’t expect to be taken for a ride, and then I was on it. My “second love” did exactly the same thing, but it took a lot longer. I was paying attention this time. I was fighting back. The puzzle didn’t start with the edges and fill in quickly, it slipped a couple together here and a couple there until I saw a completed picture with nowhere to go but back in the box. It’s easy to be with someone when you’re letting whatever it is be. Then you turn them into your TV character with predictable, reliable, patterns to reinforce a feeling. That feeling has to be a good one, as I persistently learn my very presence instantiates negativity in many people.

Part of what I considered me “maturing” was adopting the ability to let people be who they were. The problem is when they don’t know, or don’t care, to figure out what they are. I’ve said a number of times that for as much of a roller coaster as I think I’ve put on display in blogs, “I” still remain “me” in some perverse impossible to nail down individuality. You’re not writing this, I am. It seems that the indirect habit applies as much to our own experience as much as anything else. We already know our eyes are a lie. We slowly lose the ability to hear and taste and smell. Why not forgo the mind it takes to pay attention and make choices? You don’t have to be you as long as you surround yourself with people telling you nice things about who you are.

I wanted to pick my family, but they had other plans. I still want the people I desire and look out for and heap endless praise and resources at to represent more than time spent in school together or partying or blood. And because I’m me, I know what I know and recognize what I’m after. I’ve done the work. I lay my TV characterizations of who you are to rest and try to engage the human who’s at least as convoluted and contradictory and confusing as I am. We have to be on the level. We have to choose each other. It’s an impossible and miraculous feat that most are barely willing to get a glimpse of.

The sickness is that you can attach yourself to an endless array of things and people that do nothing for you. They don’t help. They don’t teach. They don’t challenge. They leach while they let you leach. They hide you from yourself by making you all about them thus hidden in return. You can’t share with those resentful of you. You can’t save someone by cutting the noose when they’re dangling over a cliff. Here you get to make what you think is my fatal flaw. You pop into action and focus all of your time and energy. You advocate and celebrate and encourage. You take from the very finite yet always giving well of energy to keep the television on.

I don’t feel like this often, but I’ve been ashamed to think that I think many of the people I care about, the ones I would consider family, are cowards. I’m usually immediately fashioned into some kind of “that guy” who’s coming in hot or “doesn’t get it” or is so stubborn I’m only able to undermine all of my best intentions. But I’ve given those ideas room to breathe. I’ve talked them to death and invited commentary. I can’t function as your character who represents the things you don’t feel you have the permission to say. It makes me feel cheap and inhuman, and it’s dishonest. I can inspire, but I can’t substitute. Just like all the “nice” people in my life I envy aren’t going to determine my attitude to new acquaintances.

When I think about the amount of times some relationship in my life has “failed” and put it in terms of who the person is verses who they’re projected to be, a lot makes sense. I’ve “failed” many fuck buddies by not blossoming into “husband material.” They used to be friends, but now they’re fuck buddies, because when I wasn’t “TV’s Nick P.,” they wanted nothing to do with me. By trying to accept certain friends as “who they are,” I came across as the overconfident judgmental blowhard who doesn’t leave room for anyone else to breathe as I offered scathing commentary about all of “them” out there, so how couldn’t I think those things about my friends as well? Our familiar familial connection turned to static. TV’s Nick P. doesn’t have friends and family. TV’s Nick P. is trapped in a time warp oozing Howard Stern in his 20’s energy. Off screen, we assume he’s okay with his books or his shows, wearily shaking his fist at the fall of man.

I’m not a character. More importantly, I’m not your character. I’m never going to treat you like you’re one of mine. I’ve chucked the longing and sentimentality and gone back into my selfish obnoxious preservation, but that doesn’t mean you’ve been demoted. That doesn’t mean I don’t suffer your cowardice or dishonesty in service to my attempted “maturity” with regard to our friendship. Because that’s just how you are, right? I say mean things, not you. Your brother is your brother, not me. Your story is the one you’re picking and fighting for, not a theme and skin that feel “good enough” for you to ride things out. You have things to say; you’re not a cordial parrot with teeth. Now there’s an animal fit for the screen.

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