Sojourn in the country

It’s been two weeks since I moved home. The rain is falling and the sky is grumbling. A soothing start to a sunday. I’m sitting in my basement room, drinking coffee and listening to the storm, observing the elemental power of nature from the safety and comfort of a sturdy dwelling.

I didn’t build this house or pay for it but I’m grateful to have been born into a family that could provide a stable home for its children. Even now they take care of me while I sort things out. A supportive family is of inestimable value and I take care to remind myself whenever possible. Despite my gratitude I don’t want to tarry here and become shiftless.

I visited my girlfriend and her family in northern indiana, a place of flat, straight roads disappearing into the horizon in every direction. There are no curves or hills. The atmosphere is serene and there’s little noise. Population density is low and the psyche has room to expand without getting engulfed in anonymous crowds. Fields of corn and soybean connect scattered silos and barns.

The people move a little slower but they love fast, gleaming cars. Motorcycles and scooters, too. They’re farmers and mechanics, masters of crops and cars. They build and fix things with their hands. The culture celebrates and ensures technical competence and production, family and cohesion. It’s a wildly different environment from a place like dc.

My girlfriend’s dad, my girlfriend and I went to a scooter show in a nearby town. It’s not something I’d seek out on my own but I try to be a good sport about other people’s interests these days. And it was fun. The sun was ferocious and the humidity stifling. The air was a rancid mix of hot mud, brackish standing water and gas fumes from sputtering motorbikes. There were concession stands selling buttered corn on the cob and elephant ears. Tents and campers and rv’s lined the roads and dirt paths snaking through the fairground.

Sometimes people say whites don’t have a culture. But white culture is real, rooted and multifaceted, and I saw one side of it at the scooter show. There are many white cultures that spring from different regions and economic classes. These people love their machines and their manufacturing prowess. They love trading old pieces of equipment, rifling through scraps and parts, customizing and restoring, buying and selling.

And they love the communal, festive aspect of these events. Sitting in rocking chairs under the cover of canvass and nylon, drinking miller lite and talking cars with relatives, friends and affable strangers. There’s an inherent trust and comfort in these communities. It’s a product of familiarity and homogeneity. There are no blacks in these parts, no inscrutable browns and yellows, no conniving jews and atomized urbanites.

There are no foreign, questionable elements, no racial and ethnic tension. The landscape is seamless and the population is unified. Recognition among similar stock is automatic and effortless. There are no whores and hobos sullying the streets because the environment doesn’t permit that sort of vice and dysfunction. Not that these people are perfect. Some of them have drinking and drug problems. There are probably instances of abuse and neglect. But the rhythms of life, the web of relations and material conditions preclude many forms of degeneracy and squalor.

The people here stick together. They stay where they were born and raised and take pride in their habits and customs. They protect and care for each other. So you don’t see the blight of selfish indifference or the garish extremes of wealth and poverty evident in tumultuous cities. The ugliness of segregation and stratification, the eyeball searing disparity and soul crushing density have no place here. Mixed populations and chaotic urban environments lack the aesthetic coherence and simple beauty of homogenous, small-scale communities.

We went to a famous ice cream shop. When I looked around the room I noticed how white and friendly everyone was and it took me a second to process. I’ve lived the last two years among poor blacks and individualist strivers of varying ethnicities and orientations. But that evening in the ice cream shop I saw nothing but intact, unblemished, pristine white american families, moms and dads and well behaved children spending another evening together in a quiet, sparsely populated farming town. It was a wholesome and restorative vision. Just what I needed.

What color are these glasses

Feeling more positive today. Worked out at the local redneck gym this morning. Deadlifts make you feel alive. I don’t want to be another meathead rhapsodizing about the man-making power of the iron but it’s undeniable. Lifting heavy things clears your head and calms your anxieties. Your testicles brim with testosterone.

You pick up hundreds of pounds and sweat out the sadness. Your muscles don’t have much to do so you force them to work and you trick your body into believing it’s fighting and winning. In the absence of conflict and embodied engagement we create artificial stressors to remind ourselves of our fleshly existence. It’s easy to forget. Comfort is deadly so we contrive threats and obstacles to stay vital.

Depression is metastasized thinking. Curbing depression requires changing your thoughts but also changing your body. Or taking drugs. If you can’t make the changes yourself then you’ll need institutional assistance. I don’t fault people for seeking help. It doesn’t necessarily make them weak and culpable.

If it’s not so bad that you need psychiatric care then you have to move around more. You have to struggle and overcome, even if the struggle is imaginary. Hold your head up and force yourself to smile. Work out and straighten your spine. Use every trick to convince yourself that you’re strong and capable. Mantras, affirmations, laughing like a lunatic, writing out lists: it’s all cheesy and you feel like an ass but it works.

People program themselves into believing anything. Their environment programs them too. Think of all the different beliefs people have held and the barriers they’ve placed in front of themselves. It starts out as what you hear from others and becomes what you say to yourself. And once it’s in your head it’s all you see out in the world. I’m miserable and the world is a miserable place. I’m happy and the world is full of beautiful people and wonderful things.

Our mental frames set us up to repeat experiences which then reinforce our frames. We establish feedback loops between ourselves and our environment, getting out of our surroundings exactly what we ourselves add to them. We tend to think that environments condition organisms when it’s just as true that organisms condition environments.

Natural selection runs both ways. I’m not a big nietzsche fan anymore but he makes the point in an extreme form. What we call an environment is nothing more than the expressive power of an organism. There is no neutral space out there separate from the shaping and forming activity of the individual.

A belief might be factually incorrect or impossible to confirm but it can produce real effects. Telling yourself that you can do anything in the world might sound silly but it can empower you to do something you would have otherwise never attempted. Some people want to scientifically test a belief before accepting it when all you need to do is examine the behavior it generates.

There are innumerable examples. People believe in an afterlife because it makes them feel good and improves their quality of life in the present. What is the payoff for being factually correct about your destiny as a decaying corpse? Congratulations, everyone is dead forever and you were right all along. Of course the afterlife idea is also dangerous because it sometimes influences people to act destructively in this life for the promise of a better beyond. But hey, what are you going to do.

The real challenge is remaining interesting and funny when you’re happy and powerful. But we know it can be done.

Early morning melancholy

Yesterday I applied to jobs in Chicago and Indianapolis. My dark suspicions have been confirmed. There’s nothing to do here, no way to make money other than managing a taco bell. The co-op where I worked for years is declining. The coffee here is godawful and no one is hiring. I thought that being around family would be enough. But I was wrong, as I so often am.

If I’ve ever been right about anything, it’s about being wrong. It’s a start.

The midwestern small town is a wasteland. I romanticized it. From a distance it seemed cohesive and comfortable. Up close it appears arid and hopeless. The people are portly and plodding. Poor whites are marginally better than poor blacks. Less murderous but still depressing to behold.

I’ve been thinking of tradition and continuity and rootedness but you can’t make up for what you never had. At some point you have to accept your condition, the real roots of your existence. And for me, those roots are individualism, cynicism and anomie.

My tradition is rejection of tradition. My history is discontinuous, jagged, subtractive, a project of the piecemeal. Succession without progression. Alternation without improvement. Serial but unserious.

I’m modern and postmodern, inconsistent, a product of my time, a solitary stream of consciousness. A natural deconstructionist picking through the scrap heap of a crumbling civilization. I grew up in a casually liberal, atheistic home, a secular island in a sea of holdover christianity. The west is no longer christian, they say. When I was a kid everyone I knew was a christian except for me and my parents.

I never decided to be faithless. There was nothing rational about my unbelief. It was always a feeling, a mood, a deep foundation I couldn’t examine or change. My rejection of religion was a reflex, not an achievement of reason.

When I contemplate death and nullity my soul cries out for god, for wisdom and redemption. I feel the vacuity of modern secular life and its sterile pleasures, its senseless sensations. And then my attention wanders. Distraction is a defense against terror. Entertainment papers over an abyss. But even knowledge is a diversion, and reading scholarly articles in american affairs serves the same purpose as hemorrhaging hours with netflix. It’s all to forget, to defer.

I remember reading Pascal, who berated early modern man’s dim disregard of his eternal destination. For Pascal, what’s unbelievable is unbelief. What’s absurd is the refusal to confront absurdity. I remember thinking his wager was bullshit because you can’t force sincerity. You can’t calculate your advantage when it comes to faith.

But I missed the point. It doesn’t matter how you acquire faith. What you feel is irrelevant but what you do is important. And when you kneel and pray you act from faith even if you don’t feel it. Over time the feeling will match the act, and then your initial acts will have retroactively come from a place of earnest belief.

Maybe I’m still missing the point and I’ll never get it. Maybe there’s something funny about that. Life can at least force a wry smile out of you.

Coming up with titles gets old

It’s sunday morning and I’m drinking coffee in my parent’s basement. My grandmother, sister, brother and nephew are here for my birthday. It’s good to be among family.

I’m 31 now. There’s nothing notable about being 31. Growing old is banal. It’s not moving forward as much as it’s getting dragged along. Aging and death are given; everything else has to be taken, ripped from someone else’s arms.

You’re always younger than you will be but I’ve always felt older than I am. When I was 25 I wanted to be 21 again. When I turned 30 I wanted to be 25. Rather than lamenting what’s lost I should be grateful for what remains. Because there’s still so much to lose.

I don’t know pain. But I have a good imagination for it. I’m the source of my suffering.

(This isn’t true. I grew up impotent in an age of deregulated sexuality. Struggled in silence for years, alone, not knowing what was wrong with me. I watched my body fail. Few men experience this in their youth. They’re out there but no one talks about it. Who would admit that.

I finally had surgery a year and a half ago. Now I’m cured but the damage was done. And I’m still paying off hospital bills. I’ll need surgery again someday to maintain my artificial ability. Human engineering counteracting the curse of god.

All my grandparents except for one are dead. My grandpa on my mom’s side had alzheimers. He deteriorated for years. It’s maddening to see someone lose their mind. My grandpa on my dad’s side also wasted away. I didn’t know either of them well enough. Most of my memories of them are from after they became sick, when they were shadows of themselves.

And no matter what happens to you, life is pain. No one knows why we’re here or why we suffer and die. It might be for nothing and the possibility is haunting. The alternative, that we’re made in the image of an all powerful creator who has a plan for us, is equally if not more disquieting.

But I’m trying not to soak in sadness. We’re slated for the grave but in the meantime we should make the most of it. This is what books, podcasts and successful men tell me. I need to change the words that flow through my ditch of a mind. My sentiments are bad habits, not essential truths. What do I even know. Nothing. Then why do I always have a reason for why I can’t do something.)

It’s fascinating to watch my five year old nephew. He’s brilliant. He reads and writes, counts, adds and multiplies. They want him to skip kindergarten and start first grade. He could do it but then he would be one of those kids. A precocious child is a target, an outcast. It will be difficult for him to make friends. My hope is that he’ll be one of those hard science or math savants with a cheerful disposition. The type who’s always calculating and investigating and working with numbers and never succumbing to self doubt and despondency.

The beginning of life is bursting with promise and potential. My nephew could do anything. But if he wants to make money he needs to be prudent. I hope he doesn’t make the same mistakes I did and waste time with music and literature. Or if he does, I hope he’s better at those things than I am. Or at least finds fulfillment in them.

If he can compute and code and build robots he’ll have a place in the new economy of human obsolescence. Otherwise he’ll be poor and insecure, jumping from job to job serving food or wiping windows and scrubbing counters. But regardless of what he becomes, right now his future is open. And that’s worth something. What we could be is more precious than what we become.

And then my grandma is at the other end of life. She’s 82 and spry. She travels and goes to the theater and plays cards with friends. A model senior citizen. Children and the elderly have an innocence and joy often missing in adults. They’re free from the burdens of work and sex. The things that we spend the bulk of our lives doing or pursuing. What saps us of our creativity and wonder.

To be free from work and sex is to transcend the world. We begin life above the toilsome earth. And then we fall into habit and forgetfulness. Repeating what we don’t want and losing everything we love wears us down.

In old age there’s a chance to be young again. If you have money and health. You can return to a state of wonder and purity and happiness like a child. Unless you’re a miserable old crank who never let go of disappointments and dogma. People will abandon you because no one wants to hear an old fool rant and complain all day long, and distracted caregivers will serve your pap and gruel.

My surroundings are peaceful but I’m feeling antsy. I’m in my prime and living with my retired parents in a small town with few friends and few opportunities. It was a good birthday, though.

No one said life is fair

Unemployed. Borrowing my sister’s car so I can find work. I’m sitting in a coffee shop and it’s as still as a cemetery. No one is talking. They’re all on laptops. I’m doing the same thing. I’m another silent typer in a public place where people work on private projects.

No one goes into a coffee shop to talk to another physically present person. I’m avoiding more pressing tasks. I should be talking to people, applying to jobs, renewing my license. My bank in dc doesn’t have a branch here so I need to close that account and open a new one.

I have 300 dollars to my name. When that’s out I will be stuck at my parent’s house, in their basement, permanently pajama clad, vacant and directionless. I need to find work in this small town I left two years ago. There was no work then and there’s no work now.

Living in a small town is strange because even when you don’t know someone, you know them. You’ve seen them around, they know people you know. You should have introduced yourself years ago and now it’s too late. You both know you should know each other but neither of you will make the effort now.

I stopped by an old friend’s place. He’s an improv jazz drummer who tours all over the country, plays shows in chicago and st. louis. He lived in vietnam and cuts records with experimental bhutanese guitarists. The music he plays is unlistenable but there’s an audience for it. He could go anywhere in the country and people would pay him to play for them.

You can make it as a free jazz drummer because there are just enough people scattered around the world who’ve convinced themselves that free jazz is enjoyable or challenging or ennobling. There are enough people in pockets here and there that have the grit to sit through 45 minutes of spastic nonsense.

He’s poor but he has recognition within a cloistered culture of avant garde enthusiasts and artists. I’m happy for him but I can’t talk to him anymore. The whole conversation is just him spewing out a flood of obscure musicians; this guy played with that guy who played in this band who did a record with this label and on and on and on. Have you heard this band? No. Well they have members from this other band. Don’t know them either.

When it’s not who played with whom it’s more leftist politics. He also works at a community kitchen serving people who repeatedly ruin their own lives. So everything is institutional and systemic and racist and sexist. It’s all the conservatives fault. It’s those callous midwestern republicans and their refusal to dump more tax money on derelicts. People have no will. Institutions shoot heroin directly into their veins. Structures force them to abuse their children. And if you’re not rerouting your extra money and attention and affection towards their sinkhole lives then you’re a monster.

The addicts and abusers and retards don’t have enough money and support to get up out of the gutter. If they just had more money and love they could overcome generations of bad breeding. I’m an idiot now and with my life up in the air I don’t care about any of this. It’s all tiresome and unproductive and no one ever convinces anyone of anything except that the other person is an asshole. Everyone else is either an idiot or a selfish bastard.

My friend’s delicate sensibilities have been disturbed by Trump. I had to listen to another person work through the life shattering trauma of a presidential election in a free country. Another person whose fragile psyche couldn’t bear the hideous horrible truth that large segments of the population have different beliefs. How could the white working class have interests of their own outside of severing their scrotums and calling for their own displacement.

We were on the verge of an ethnically indistinct consumer technotopia of interchangeable designer sex organs and life extended egalitarian pleasure seeking until Trump and his band of bigots dropped an atom bomb on the whole enterprise. In a single day the left, which had nearly established an enduring order of mottled, muddled, androgynous nu-mans without roots and religion, was throttled into a state of hysterical bewilderment and free falling failure.

It’s all different now. It’s all crashing down around them. They need therapy and medication, protests and chemsex coping parties. I just a need a job.

Notes from my mom’s basement

I need to unpack. My books are in boxes, my clothes are in trash bags. The laziness is in my dna. The sluggishness is cellular. My molecules don’t want to move. I don’t want a job.

Why is it always your mom’s basement? Why not your dad’s? The dad owns the basement just as much as the mom, but the mom always gets the credit for sheltering the failed adult children.

When you want to discredit someone on the internet you accuse him of living in his mom’s basement. Because no one ever said anything credible from their mom’s basement. We should only listen to people who don’t live in the basements of people who brought them into the world. Only the people who move away from their loved ones are right.

What is the measure. You don’t live in your mom’s basement but you live in a tin shack on the hill. You converted the barn where your dad kept the lawnmower into a bedroom and it smells like gas and wet mulch.

You’re 30 and you live with other 30 somethings in an old ranch house on the outskirts of town. 4 of you share one rusted out 97 chevy cavalier and if someone else has the car then you take the bus to your job as a line cook in a diner. You come home everyday stained with vegetable oils, smelling like fried meat.

What if you made a bunch of money and had a nice house but then you got a divorce. Your wife left you. You were exciting until you settled down. It’s nature; when you’re married your testicles shrink and your scrotum shrivels and your wife hates you.

Nature doesn’t need you to be a roving seed spiller once you wed yourself to a single woman. But having just one woman isn’t attractive to women so the one woman you had sees you as a castrated wretch. You still have the nice house but it’s empty and the spacious rooms reverberate with the regret of every bad choice you’ve ever made.

I don’t think I’m getting better at this. They say you have to practice. You have to put in x number of hours, sweating and straining with clenched teeth and then you’ll be competent. They say this to make you feel better. And life is about nothing if not feeling better. But you won’t improve. You either have talent or you don’t.

Just try to say something original about trump. Try to say something clever about sjw’s or political correctness or fake news or neoliberalism or fascism or cultural marxism. The people who are recognized for talking about these oversaturated subjects have skills and connections you’ll never have no matter how early you wake up in the morning to practice your prose. Good luck with promoting your take on the decadence of democracy or the corruption of elites.

Drop a stick of butter in your coffee and recite your winner’s mantra and strike your power poses. Improve your posture and take russian nootropics.

Work for weeks on a smart, well researched essay. I’ve read so many smart essays by smart people and none of them got anything from me. I paid them nothing and didn’t even say anything nice to them.

Well then, labor out of love. Do it because you love it. I love typing into the void and then wondering what it means. Passion has taken me to my mom’s basement. You read about those people who find success later in life. The struggling single mom writing on napkins after putting her children to sleep. Some publisher discovers her relatable stories and then everything changes.

That won’t happen to you. Start a podcast because your friends laugh at everything you say. Read more books by ceo’s and mystical cognitive therapists. Visualize the opportunities. The last ten years don’t matter because all we have is the present and you can change right now.

Sometimes you can go home again

So long, washington dc. My dad drove 700 miles to come and get me. And then we drove 700 miles right back. As we left my neighborhood my dad spotted a black teen sporting the sagging pants look and remarked on it. I told him there were far worse things to glimpse around these parts. But we didn’t see any trannies teetering in the heat or unhoused bumblers sprawled across a sidewalk before we left.

We drove down winding highway 68 as the sun set, through the mountains of maryland. Steam rose from the valleys and mingled with the clouds, which were reflecting the waning daylight. I took in as much beauty as I could at 65 mph and felt serenity spreading over me. It was the perfect exit. I wasn’t looking back.

When we made it to washington, pa, we stopped at a days inn. I wanted to keep driving through the night but my dad was tired.

John Wick played on the tv in the hotel room. I remember skimming some jerk off return of kings article about the masculine message of this movie. Something about how John Wick doesn’t cater to women and always dresses well. Violence is a way of life and men kill each other because that’s what they have to do and blah blah blah. It was standard issue manosphere retard dribble but I still read shit like that on occasion.  The movie was brainless fun and I couldn’t sleep anyway. I liked how there was no backstory or character development. Just stylish slaughter.

The morning came and I hadn’t slept much but I was ready to go. The second half of the drive didn’t have the scenic splendor of the first. We drove through pennsylvania, ohio, and indiana. The mountains turned into hills and then the hills turned into flatlands. We sped past small town desolation, the cultural and economic deserts. Every exit was a dried out network of fast food, gas stations and big-box retail. I felt the despair and inertia emanating from these places. I heard the cries of the abandoned populations, mocked and scorned by coastal elites and big city strivers, left with nothing to do but work in gas stations and cook meth.

Every Taco bell was hiring. But these natives, for some reason, don’t want to make diarrhea tacos for the rest of their lives. We need to bring in a million more mexicans a year so we can open more mcdonald’s and gas stations and keep expanding the service economy. If the old white stock is going to waste away on opium and reality television then we will replace them with a hungry, hardworking people genetically and culturally suited for soul stunting drudgery.

After tedious hours of driving through cornfields we made it to southern indiana. Back to the rolling hills and lush forests of my homeland. Back to the house I grew up in. I unloaded the car, rested for a bit, and then my parents and I went to eat at denny’s. In one day I went from east coast fast casual dining to a denny’s in the midwest. It felt right.

Last night I slept in my old bed in my old basement room. It seems that sleeping on an actual bed improves quality of sleep. I’ve learned that sleeping on a futon in a room the size of a shelf drawer isn’t conducive to physical or psychic comfort.

Now I’m drinking tin can coffee and reacquainting myself with my old surroundings. The years and experiences are stored up here, in the walls, the furniture, the rooms. My memory is in the material. I can’t access who I was until I’m where I used to be. Moments are coming back in waves as I pour over pictures and notebooks full of scribblings from my childhood and teenage years.

I’ll need to find work soon, but for now I’m going to hang out with my retired parents and read and write as much as I can before I’m strung out on opium.

Looking within

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve earned the right to be a racist. How am I better than my alleged inferiors?

I can gloat over white achievement and the glory of western civilization until I’m uplifted and proud. But what contributions to this gleaming white world have I ever made? As an individual I’m down in the dirt with the blacks.

For ten years I’ve worked minimum wage jobs and smoked pot. Blown cash on drugs, booze and fucking. Sank a decade into rampant rutting and stumbling around drunk and high. My parents paid for my wasted education. My family kept me out of the streets.

I’m a lifelong dependent with anti-social tendencies. My time management skills are lacking and my impulse control is weak. If my parents didn’t help me then the state would have to intervene. Without the support of family I’d need government assistance like all the imported muds mucking up the safety net.

I’m lucky I don’t have bastards or a criminal record. I’ve saved nothing, built nothing, preserved and protected nothing. I’m a taker, a parasite sucking at the deflating tit of my inheritance.

It’s normal to prefer the company of people who look, sound and act like you, but beyond that why am I proud to be white? Racism as far as trusting your own people over alien groups makes sense and is consistent with our evolutionary history. But using group membership to boost esteem can obscure deeper flaws in personality. And what white characteristics do I even exhibit?

I’m quiet and courteous in public. I’ve never shot or robbed anyone and I can read and write. Apart from not being an illiterate murderer I’m not sure what makes my particular white self so much better than the crepuscular cretins we love to castigate.

Sure, I’d never make incoherent threats on a bus or blast obscene music on a train. But underneath the surface of my civility, of polished white presentation, there’s african style corruption, indolence and idiocy. Peel off the mask of my polite white face and you’ll see the soul of a dysfunctional negro.

The same goes for my feelings towards gays. I view them as public health hazards and symptoms of family breakdown and social disorder. In the current year, std rates in the u.s. are higher than they’ve ever been and gay and bisexual men are at an elevated risk. They’re incapable of restraining themselves and shutting their buttholes long enough to cure their chlamydia and gonorrhea.

They wail about funding and acceptance and rights as they descend into the depths of bathhouse depravity where they incubate and spread fatal diseases, soaking up resources and misusing scientific and medical talent to shield themselves from the deadly consequences of their infantile indulgence.

But I’ve had an std before. I’ve acted just like a morally blighted and spiritually gutted gay man who puts sexual pleasure above health and happiness. My sexual compulsions have physically endangered others and caused emotional confusion and pain.

The biggest difference between me and a gay man is that I have sex with women. It’s not as though I’m an upright family man fearing for the future of his community, warning my people and protecting them from predators and profligates. How can I can preach sexual continence and the importance of stable relationships when I’ve allowed family ties to fray while seeking novelty and stimulation?

I have no community. I was thrown into individualism, self actualization, into doing what you want when you want with who you want all the time until your body turns to dust. Where only bigots stand in your way and only archaic religious beliefs hold us back from being their true selves. There was no racial or ethnic consciousness, no celebration of ancestry or connection to the past. The future was mine; it wasn’t the continuation of a legacy. I took advantage of the license granted to me by a permissive age of disintegration.

Until I became so disgusted with myself that I knew I had to change. And I thought about the value of a rooted existence, of devotion to something greater than my cravings and lusts. I began to figure out my unhappiness and envision a future that would reconnect me to a past I’d casually disowned. But it’s all been theory and speculation so far.

In my head I’m a straight white man proud of living in a civilization built by straight white men who love independence and freedom. In my actions I’m closer to a gay black man who needs other people’s money to continue inhaling and ejaculating while remaining passive, resentful and self pitying.

Sure, it feels good to know I’m not in a demographic that’s overrepresented in violent crime and genital afflictions, but what have I done as an individual to make my people proud? What makes me worthy of esteem? It has to be more than not being gay or black and in jail or spreading aids.

I could spend my entire day pouring over stats and stories of black misconduct, homosexual deviance and the social and economic devastation wrought by ill conceived and malicious immigration policies. I could brood over elite corruption and cultural decline and state supported decadence and it wouldn’t change the fact that I’m more of a product of these forces than their external opposition.

The submission of humanity to technology might move me to impassioned denunciation, but as soon as I’m done I’m going to use my smart phone to order more drugs. And then I’ll sit around and wonder when I’m going to get the recognition I deserve for doing almost nothing, for narrowly avoiding prison and unwanted children and life threatening illnesses.

At least I’ve been racially and morally awakened. I now know that even though I’m the product of a sick society, becoming healthy is in my hands if only I put down the pipe and the smartphone, if only I stop acting like an unfocused animal minority. I need to become worthy of the civilization I claim to love.

Stopped by a piece of plastic

Last day in dc. Unless something goes wrong. It usually does. Can’t eat until later. Must drink coffee and quiet the hunger, type with trembling hands.

Our nation celebrates its independence. It’s flags and bottle rockets, beer and brats. 100 degree heat, smoke billowing from charcoal grills and children playing in pools. Once again I will miss a day of festivities with my family. I miss every holiday because I’m working. But I haven’t worked in a week and have nothing to do but wait and wonder about my choices.

So I’m going to sit in my room away from the swampy, unbreathable air and incinerating sun. I’m going to review my thoughts and actions and feel guilt and regret.

My character needs work; I need to align my behavior with my beliefs. Sometimes I think people can’t change and that we’re fated to be who we are. And then at other times I believe in rebirth and second chances. Or third, fourth and fifth chances. However many chances a person needs until they’re dead. As long as you’re alive there’s still a chance to become better.

Unless we’re determined by our environment, genes, fate, god, or some other unchallengeable, indomitable power to repeat ourselves and play out our programming until the end of time. Then all our dreams and wishes, plans and projects would be in vain. We can’t not be our defective selves.

Last night in dc. My first rooftop party. I made pseudo friends and they hosted a 4th of july party. Civil rights lawyers, DREAMers, people who organize dinners and potlucks for causes. Activists and advocates. Believers in democracy invested in the establishment, fund raisers in grassroots groups and bureaucrats in the department of justice.   Protectors and defenders of the marginal. People with commitments, projects, salaries and clients. Involved in outreach. Unlike me.

I sat in a wicker chair, drank beer, watched fireworks and then observed the people around me. And I began to wonder. When did I become this person who couldn’t fit into this world? At no point in my life did I have the discipline or the ideals for it. But why did I settle for less?  As though I’d chosen my character. As though I’d decided to defeat myself.

I’ve always said that I didn’t want what I couldn’t have. And on the roof of that apartment building, as reds, yellows and greens streamed through the clouded night sky, surrounded by journalists, lawyers and professors, I rehearsed a stale song of good riddance. A failed barista nursing his ambivalence, half wanting and half hating this inaccessible life of rooftop parties thrown by institutional do gooders and conventional strivers.

Then I went home, smoked more weed and fell asleep.

When I said something usually goes wrong, I spoke from experience. From knowing myself and the way I work,  which is without preparation or organization. First I woke up late and missed the rental car appointment. A friend drove me to the airport. After stumbling through an mc escher painting of a parking garage I found the rental place. And then I learned that I needed a credit card to rent a car.

I don’t have a credit card. I’ve never had one. I’m 30 years old, about to turn 31, and I’ve never had a credit card. I’m barely human. This is one of those things that’s obvious to most other people but I’ve never thought about it. You need a credit card to rent a car. I found out after a dozen years of nominal adulthood. You need credit to rent an apartment or buy a house and I don’t know my score. It’s another number I avoid the same way I don’t open letters from collection agencies or check my account balance.

So now my parents will have to come get me. The people who I wanted to take care of are still taking care of me. When will I change, if change is even possible.

What would it take? I need help. Libraries of self help books. Tony Robbins courses and gorilla mindset seminars. I need strict guidance on not taking what’s easy and making it difficult or taking what’s difficult and making it impossible. The distilled wisdom of the ages on achieving adult stability and forbearance.

I’ve read about the habits of highly effective people. Studied the words of Scott Adams and Mike Cernovich. Skimmed and glazed tips, tricks and hacks to increase productivity and focus. I’ve read about the power of positive thinking and how I need to stop worrying and enjoy life. They were all good reads and all useless. You read self help because it makes you feel like you could change, and that fleeting feeling keeps you going even though nothing changes.

You get hooked on the rush of motivation. And then it leaves you as soon as it lifts you up. You fall back to where you started and it’s time for another promise that won’t pan out. A grinding cycle. Strapped to a wheel, spinning around and going nowhere as the nausea rises.

I can’t blame my foolishness on a broken home or a deadbeat dad. My dad was there for me and he’s still here now.

When I think about the kind of man he has become, I realize I have the same potential. If he’s unselfish and industrious then I can be too. It has to be in there somewhere. There’s still hope for me. But first I need to get a credit card.

The view from the floor

Right now I’m typing into a closet. I have no furniture except for a broken chair. I’ve placed my computer at the foot of my closet, which is about three feet from the floor. The ledge of my closet is now my desk, where I sit in a broken, backless chair and type into my macbook computer.

It is a saturday night and I’m burnt out on beer. My feet stink and my back hurts. I must be tired but I don’t feel it. I’ve slept little the last few nights. But when you’re not working you don’t need as much sleep because there’s no work to rob you of energy. You get by on less.

Dc isn’t so bad when you don’t have a job. At least for a couple days. Having fewer things and more space has made me monkish. I sit still on the hard floor and free myself from possessions and attachments. I attain freedom from ownership, from desire for control. I’m unburdened.

And then those things come back. Last night I talked to some people in a bar about psychedelics. They were on the subject of sensory deprivation chambers and I brought up mushrooms. And then they asked me something I had no idea about but I answered them anyway. And I seemed to answer the question.

That’s what academic training does for you. I remember stalling at first and thinking that I didn’t know what to say. This happens when I allude to knowledge I don’t have and then someone wants to know more. I panic and then try to spin sense out of nothing. Sometimes it’s convincing.

I’d live in this city for another six months if I didn’t have to work and I could wander around all day and then come home and sleep on a floor. If I had nothing and received money for food and transportation. My pants are disintegrating so I should get another pair of those as well.

If you gave me money for food and pants and I could sleep on the floor and not take care of anything then I could stay here longer. See a few more monuments, go to a few more museums. Take a few more train rides and hang out with a few pigeons.

There are no pigeons back home. But I’ll enjoy our birds. We have good birds and I don’t want to waste valuable country bird watching time missing the pigeons of the city. I hope I’m not caught in a cycle of wanting to be wherever I’m not. What if home is attractive now because I’m not there? Once it loses the charm of distance I won’t want to be there anymore.

I miss my family until I can’t get away from them and then I want to be somewhere else. My history is a choppy flight from the actual. I’ve dissolved relationships, jobs, places, hobbies and talents. I’m a practiced quitter, a seasoned deserter.

But for the last six months I’ve been thinking about what it means to stay, to put down roots and grow into a solid, enduring self. To fit into a place and time. And as I’ve thought about this rooted, other directed existence, I’ve become steadily more disgusted with selfish, impulsive and irresponsible behavior.

I was ready to go home. The only problem is that right now I’m in a bare room, sleeping on the floor and my habitual aversion is rising up again. It’s telling me to run away from responsibility.

I need to remember that my last week in DC has been an illusion, an illustrious impossibility. I have just enough money to eat until I rent a car on wednesday morning. So I’ve been reading and thinking and writing without working, an ideal condition I wouldn’t be able to maintain. Because dc is mostly working and serving a kind of person I don’t like and then living among another kind of person I also don’t like.

Here’s what I’m wondering with all this time and open space and unyielding floor to sit on and punish my ass bones with: have I translated my general contempt for humanity, my diffuse apathy and aloofness into a more pointed racism and bigotry to compensate for deeper character flaws? I didn’t even know that black people annoyed me until I became a minority in their lands. I didn’t care about gays until I shared a home with them and lived next to a gay couple. My hometown is gayer than the average midwestern town but it’s nothing compared to dc.

Do I only hate what’s nearby regardless of who or what it is? When blacks and gays surround me then I have a problem with blacks and gays. And I think sweet thoughts about my far off family. My hope is that I’ve matured enough by now to make good decisions and understand myself well enough to do the right thing.

For the last six months I’ve wanted to do more for others but in this moment I feel alone and self absorbed. Carnally preoccupied and shiftless, as though I could continue living without engagement and occupation indefinitely. I hear that age doesn’t matter, that people delay and prolong phases of life, and that we’re no longer bound by the old rules. We live longer and have so many choices in where we live and who we spend our time with that we don’t have to nail ourselves to one place or set of people.

The modern era is marked by acceleration and dislocation. Fluid relations predominate and identity is provisional. Reality is subject to continuous redefinition; narrative and interpretation determine truth.

So I can tell any story I want to make myself feel better about what I choose to do. I can break myself down into little pieces and scatter them everywhere. There are so many places I’ve never been and people I’ve never met and there’s no reason to chain myself to a location because I happened to be born there. There’s no abiding reason, only the rationalizations of an evolved, accidental organism.

Modern life is hauntingly arbitrary, episodic and ambiguous. Chaotic and uncertain, abandoned by the eternal and delivered to the temporary, left to risk and probability. An upstart enlightenment has discredited the dictums of God. Authority has been transferred from the transcendent to the impersonal collective, a permanently plugged in consensus manufacturing machine.

It’s a cascade of calculations, an algorithmic whirlwind, an ongoing experiment without design and intention. My modern soul was tempered in the fires of a roaring ambivalence. And now I’m seesawing in the interim of time and place, teetering on the brink of inconsistency. I’m an obsolete reader and writer, an organic, disorganized intelligence in an age of automated thought and optimization.

I can’t let this final stretch of solitude undermine my resolve. Here’s to the hope that change has a direction, that I’m getting closer to the essential.