Friday, June 9, 2017

Lit my fire

Once I knew I was going to be involved with the community garden movement in Springfield, I surveyed my surroundings and went to work. I think that a lot of research has to be done, and even though I’m not the best at it, I still do what I can. One of the things I’ve been doing is pestering local businesses about composting. Each place is different, and has unique situations. This idea has been met with much resistance.

When I was looking for a part-time job, it was crossing my mind that I might have to resign myself to working in a kitchen again. I had used my personal power, I casted a spell; I am done with cooking. It’s not uncommon though for the Universe to back me into a corner. The first restaurant I approached sealed the deal though. The lady was very receptive to the idea, but then she said, if it’s going to get done, she’d be the one doing it. I asked, are you the owner? She said, no, she’s just a lowly waitress. She takes me to the back, and on the cook line was a guy who hates his life just radiating negativity. He doesn’t give a damn about composting, nor will he. That self loathing though, got me like, I’m going to just live under the bridge; I’m not working in a kitchen.

So right here is my problem. These people ruling over me, making decisions about my life, aren’t even smart enough to recycle wasted food. If I applied there, that guy would have been my boss. These elected officials, store owners, city officials, etc. they have college degrees, and important jobs, and they are acting like they know what is best for me, yet they aren’t even making sure the simplest of intelligent things are happening. How hard is it to throw compostable materials into a separate container, and put a lid on it? People brag about how advanced, and great America is, yet we can’t even do the simplest of things. Everyone knows damn well, it’s the intelligent thing to do. If someone makes an argument that being wasteful is the right thing to do, that person is dumb. That will be scientifically verifiable.

Keep in mind, Springfield already has a compost system in place. They have several locations within the city where people can take their yard waste; leaves, grass, small branches, etc. They also get tree mulch from their city owned tree trimming trucks. They have a composting site outside of city limits, already selling compost. There is a full fledged trash service already running. There is no reason the businesses who routinely throw out large quantities of food can’t be composting.

Now some libertarian somewhere will be shouting. Small business owners will be shouting. Just another fee! Just another rule/law/fine. Another bureaucratic card in the deck. Sadly, this is the result of our failing public education system. If we had a legit public education system people wouldn’t need to be told to compost, and not be wasteful; they’d just do it because it’s the intelligent thing to do. Properly educated people in mass, do the better things. Because our American public education system fails to actually educate people they have to be told to do the right thing, by some authority figure, or they won’t do it. That government funded public education system creates a populace that needs said government. People won’t own up for this fact, but what they will do, is still walk around like they are smart, and educated. They have a piece of paper. These are important people!

Case in point, the locally owned coffee house. I do my best to support local business. This place makes great coffee drinks. I’ve been slowly learning though, that a lot of small business owners might as well be a Wal-mart exec. Some of these people are greedy assholes to the max. I’ve met several now who are straight up bullies, and treat their employees like shit. There fundamentally isn’t a difference between these people and the King who farmed his peasants for gold and labor. Same shit, different degree. These people seem to embody this attitude, that they are more special than the rest, because what seems to me, no other reason than that they go to work every day ruling over people who are less fortunate in life; just to make a paycheck.

I was house spousing when it started. I didn’t have any money personally. My wife bought the things needed to get the composting started at this coffee house. A rubbermaid, food grade, 32gal Brute container. Lid sold separately. White, like the ones used for ice. Then there was the dolly, because a 32gal plastic container filled to the brim with coffee grounds can’t be picked up by a single guy of my size and strength. It took a grunt to get it tipped back on the dolly.

What I was constantly thinking about was what it would take to keep that single coffee house in coffee beans. I’m going into urban farming. I’m thinking I would need fields and fields of coffee trees. I, of course, had to google this. According to the casual search, I find; “Since the average coffee tree produces 10 pounds of coffee cherry per year (2 pounds green beans), then 16 coffee trees are required to supply the average American's coffee drinking habit.” That container weighs hundreds of pounds when it’s full! It gets dumped every five days on average! The wet coffee grounds probably weigh more than the fresh berries. It would be way more beans per five days that was being composted. Probably close to twice as much, if not more.

This is just one coffee house. Just one. How many coffee houses are there in America? Google knows;

This is insane! Where are all those trees? Look it up. Slaves are everywhere. The Steinbeck story, Grapes of Wrath, is alive and well. It’s still happening. That story is powerful.

When I started collecting it, and a couple times during the thing, I made sure I explained my situation. I was volunteering for some non-profits. I would keep the manager posted on my progress. We were going to grow flowers to put on tables and at the counter. It was going to be cool. My goal with the flowers was to just raise awareness about the community gardens in general.

I paid with the stuff with my own money. I was dumping the coffee grounds at the community garden behind the youth center. I took the first couple of loads home to experiment with. I’d never used them in gardening with that kind of quantity. The local horticulture specialist says they are considered a nitrogen source. Google agrees. This guy knew I wasn’t always going to be able to pick it up same day it was full. I always make sure the boundaries are covered. He knew I had way more going on than just picking up their compost.

What I didn’t do, was establish who the owner was, or the boss. My dealings were with the manager. He’s a nice guy. Every employee I met was excited and happy the grounds weren’t going in the trash anymore. Most of the employees are millennials, hipsterish, college kids, and artists. I dig it.

I would get a text or call when it was full, and then I’d go get it. Sometimes though, it wouldn’t be until the next day. Sometimes I had stuff going on. This particular time I was exhausted. I woke up so sore that morning I couldn’t walk normal. I’d been doing what I call third world labor on a local farm. It is back breaking work in the sense that one is bent over perpetually, non-stop killing weeds. There is such a long list of things to do, nothing could ever actually get done fast enough. It really is hard work. It is a legitimate humbling experience.

It was weird to me at the time. So many times I could feel it, that the compost would be full. It was a weird thing. Of all the things to be linked to, why the compost tub? Well I know now. That manager was the one wanting the compost to happen, and his boss did not. This is why I always got the vibe from him to not inquire about the boss. He was being as sneaky as he could be without ruffling his boss’s feathers. I’m sure he could tell there would be problems.

Let me tell you; this “boss” guy is a legitimate dumb asshole. I’d not done my homework on his personal life, and story, but I’ve seen his type enough now it’s like reading one of those cheesy romance novels. Everyone knows how it’s going to go. This guy, I guarantee, is the textbook douche bag, who has never read a management book in his life, ruling over poor people who want a job, to feel good about himself. He only has his position of power because he is a big person physically, and has a strong personality. He’s done no homework in life.

I go in through the back door. I’m wearing my big straw hat because the sun is already blaring. I have to walk the dolly several blocks, to the garden and back. He sees me, and then turns to his manager to verify that it’s me. He is clearly stink eyeing me. He’s damn near glaring at me.

I could tell that some mad passive aggressiveness was going on before I even got to the coffee house. I could feel it. When I got there, they had overfilled the container so much that I couldn’t get the lid on it. It was literally heaping up a full foot high above the rim. They had just kept dumping the grounds on top, with the buckets I had to purchase. They didn’t even come up with the small buckets to use at the bar. I had told them that I really didn’t mind it being full af, but heaping that high out the top isn’t full; that is heaping. It is obvious that I couldn’t put the lid on it, and dolly it out. I literally stated that I was confused and didn’t understand.

All the way to the garden, and back, I’m plotting. This time I made sure to walk it home too. I wanted to make sure it’s good and clean going back. I rewrite my contact info on the lid with a sharpie. I’m too old for this passive aggressive crap.

His stink eye sealed the deal. I knew without a doubt this guy is being an asshole to me. It was really busy, but I’m not dealing with passive aggressive crap. There is something inside me that refuses to bow down to anyone. I must stick up for myself, or I can’t hold my head on high. I start letting them know that I can’t do my part if it’s heaping out the top. It should be common sense that I can’t dolly it out like that. This guy is glaring at me practically. He’s a big burly barrel chested bastard. Grey hair. He’s got to be in his fifties at least. Way too old to be being a passive aggressive asshole. I can promise you, that’s how he manages his employees.

He’s talking to me like I’m on the payroll. He literally smarted off to me about picking it up on time. Like literally said it out loud. I tell him, I’m not being paid to do this. The trash service comes at specific times, like clock work, because you pay them to do so. This is volunteer work. I am exhausted. You guys didn’t even ask why I couldn’t make it. I tell him that in most cities businesses pay to have their compost taken away. It is a paid for service, that has been being done for free, and at my own personal expense.

The manager did his best to displace the situation. He tried to tell me to come back another time when they weren’t busy, but his boss wasn’t having it. The real truth is, and he said it out loud, is that it is extra work for them to take it to the back. He’s says to the manager we’re done with this. He keeps talking to me like he signs my paycheck. This guy, he doesn’t even know my name.

He asks me if I need help getting my stuff out, as he struts to the back. He smarts off again about not being able to pick it up on time. I never agreed to that. How hard is it to just throw it away like you were doing before, until I could come and get it? How hard is that? He says something dumb under his breath, and I just smart off, as I walk away, about him going back to throwing it in the trash like a smart guy.

This lit a fire in my ass. This gives me a reason to be in city council now. These people shouldn’t be allowed to litter. I can’t even sit on the sidewalk in this city without a cop harassing me. I know for a fact I would get fined, and have to go to court if I was littering. Throwing useful things into a landfill is littering. It’s stupid. It’s wasteful. I shouldn’t even have to explain this to people, that is how good American public education works.

I’ve seen firsthand the amount of food wastes grocery stores throw away. I’ve seen how much restaurants throw in the trash. Now I’ve seen what a coffee house is throwing away.  

This guy wants to be a dick to me; I’m going to make sure he has to pay for that composting service.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

That Background

Life is legitimately crazy. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I don’t really care what some dude sitting at some college somewhere says about how people should spell or write. I write like I talk. I’m talking to people through written words; why would I do it any other way? This isn’t a one way street.

It would be a lie to say it’s a phobia. It’s more of a hatred. All things bureaucratic to me are inane. I’ve read somewhere that intelligent people have a harder time at life for various reasons, and this is one of mine. My inability to do dumb shit, just because someone else says so, makes my life hard. Keeping track of everything on paper is dumb; I am a monkey damnit. I didn’t sign up for the circus.

I really need to get over myself.

We are monkeys though, and as such, we literally evolved for communal life. That’s what nepotism is. It’s not my fault Christians fucked that up. Am I right? As if we couldn’t follow the archetype of Christ, and live communally? Shit is absurd. Anyways.

My goal was, and is, to be so deep in this gardening game that I can’t be told no. Remember? I’m stuck between two cultures. This one culture is sheepled to the max. Such types never like me. They must always get the facade. Unfortunately, they are the ones in charge of the paperwork. To be clear; it is the ones that sign the paychecks that run the show. 

At the youth center where the garden is; there are rules. Lots of rules actually. It’s a safe spot for kids. I can logically wrap my mind around why all the rules are necessary. Lots and lots of rules saved me once up a time. Matter of fact, for a very long time I would tell people prison saved my life if for no other reason, than for once in my life, when I woke up in the morning; I knew exactly how it was going to go. I knew exactly how my day would be structurally all day errday.

In prison the structure is perfected. One eats at the same times errday. One gets lined up to be counted at the same times errday. One is allowed to get out of their cell, go into their cell, watch TV, play cards, lift weights, socialize, go to church, hang out; at the same times errday. This is a critical part of domestication. If children are raised by fucked up people, they most likely will not have had any structure at all. Structure of this kind feels safe. It is dependable. It eliminates tons of stress. One never has to worry about when they will get to eat, sleep, or shit. There are so many reasons kids need certain levels of structure. Life is very hard for anyone without this level of domestication.

I know this because it goes against my personality to do anything anyone tells me to do. Yet, I still needed this domestication, or how would I have ever gotten through life? It seems we all have to fit in together at a certain level, or we would be legitimately wild. A wild human. Well, like it or not, a wild human would not last long in this culture. In this culture Christianity has been purging the wild ones for thousands of years now. If one is wild, it can be felt by the domesticated ones and their autopilot is to destroy the wild ones.

Still though, I would never, and will never again unless I must; sign myself up for a background check. All my life that shit has haunted me. The stigma, the immediate placement at the bottom of the pecking order; a criminal. I really can’t believe I never killed myself. That is what society wanted after all. Anyone back then, who wasn’t a friend of mine, would have been all like; fuck that guy, lock him up, and leave him there.

There was a time when I was still really bitter about it all. I would trick people into talking about how they would treat violent criminals, then look them right in the eye and tell them I was one. Is that what they would do to me? I would always make sure they had known me for awhile first. You could see the nepotism kick in. They would always back track, but I knew the truth; just another stupid monkey.

I was trying to sneak by. If I wanted to go inside the youth center to talk to the kids about the gardening project, I had to follow the rules. They are telling me all that really matters is that I have never harmed a child. Pedophilia. That kind of thing. There was a great deal of ambiguity about it though, because it wasn’t the people whom I was talking to, it wasn’t their decision. The background check was through a government website. I mean, I robbed a freaking bank. I had over thirty charges on the books before I was 17. I can’t remember honestly how many times I’ve been arrested. They were running a legit background check.

I got arrested once merely for having been to prison. Cops showed up, someone says, “he’s been to prison.” Cuffed, and in the car I go. Spent twenty four hours in a holding tank on “investigation”. I was in my own yard, at the house where I lived. If a highway patrol pulls me over, and I’m sitting in his car, and I hear my name come back over the airwaves, I always hear the code words for potentially armed and dangerous. Being the sensitive guy I am, I can always feel the energy change at that moment in time. It’s instant.  I can feel it go from just regular old guy, because I yes and no sir them, polite as fuck, like I’ve been in the military; to this guy who is now a fucking douche. I can see them think about where their weapons are, as if I were never not doing that the whole damn time.

All the jobs I was smart enough to get, but never could get, made me very bitter. Even if I had not been raised like an animal, never been abused, never even went to prison, but merely had the label attached to my name; life would suck. You know, kind of like a government goof up, where any time anyone runs a background check it turns up “armed and dangerous.” Life is going to suck if that’s the case. There were many times I couldn’t even get a shit factory job. And I was abused, I was raised like an animal, so I have a goddamn shine in my eyes. As if I can do anything about that.

I can’t tell someone who doesn’t know me at all what I did without twenty questions ensueing. I can’t say anything about much of my past at all without suddenly someone being all up in my business. My life did not take the standard sheeple trajectory. My private introverted ass does not care for this intrusion in my life. I prefer it to be up to me, who knows what when. I’ve lived where I live now for almost three years and no one has known about my past. It was a nice reprieve. A vacation if you will.

The whole time I’ve been doing this gardening thing I’ve been so anxious. It was going to be awhile sneaking past that background check. Wasn’t like there was going to be at time, or calendared spot that says, “now safe from having to do a background check.” I was signed up for a long wave, but the wave crashed.

I got put to it. They were being pushed by the paycheck signers to handle business. I don’t blame them or anything. I’d do my job too. If my job was to protect, look out for, and provide a safe place for kids, I’d run a background check on anyone that came within a hundred feet of the building if I could to make sure they were not a pedophile. This is a rape culture; pedophiles are errwhere.

I’m off the grid. I have not had a bank account for over a year now. Luckily for them, they gots the computers right there. She proffered her own debit card to seal the deal. Stuck like chuck.

For days I paced. Waiting. I was preparing myself for the bad news. I find it best to go ahead and start doing emotional work before big events in life. Prepare for the worst; hope for the best is my motto. I was even having strangers pray for my well being. Now you know it’s serious. Everything had been so harmonious. Everything had fell into place so naturally. I was betting on that, because honestly, that’s all I got.

I got the email from the government. I had to keep re-reading it. I couldn’t tell what it was saying. Nowhere on it did it say denied, or approved. The email was encrypted for my privacy. Super official government stuff in my eyes. The land where I do not belong. The land where I’m magically at the bottom.

I call the lady who put me to the background check. I tell her I got this email, and can’t tell what it means. She tells me that it would be very clear about being denied, if that were the case. I tell her it doesn’t say anything like that. She says, “You’re good to go.”

I just cried.

I cried for awhile actually.

Now; it really is go time. That was the only dead weight I had. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Universe called me out

It was Memorial Day. Since the libraries are closed due to the holiday I posted up in a local coffee house to charge my phone and get some reading done. I’ve been re-reading the don Juan stories, and was almost finished with one of the books. As I was reading a man sat on one end of the couch, directly across from me. I was posted up in a comfy single seat. He put his laptop on the coffee table, and proceeded to do whatever it was he was doing. I really wasn’t paying him any mind.

My typical reading fashion is to read a chapter or two, put the book down, and then read an article or two on FB that is not the same topic. It’s not easy anymore to stay on top of all the technological advances being made. New ones happen almost every day. I share some posts, and depending on my mood, or the mood of FB itself, set the bait with some mirrors, ponder it all, then pick the book back up for another chapter or two. The don Juan stories are deep, and heavy with metaphor, so often I sit and ponder for minutes at a time.

He was sitting across me for who knows how long. When I am reading I don’t really have a sense of time. I only had one chapter to go, and this guy, Dan, asks me if it’s a good book. I tell him it’s one of the best, and after he inquires, tell him briefly about the book. Everyone finds the Castaneda stories interesting. Who wouldn’t be thrilled being tricked by a shaman?

We ended up having a two hour metaphysical discussion. This guy was really big on the “law of attraction.” It’s a definitive stage of spiritual growth. It’s definitely a step on the path, regardless of whichever path one chooses. It eventually came to be known to him that I am an atheist. Poor guy could have no idea that I was shamaning him, but the whole time we were talking he was giving me one of the greatest gifts, so I had to return the favor. I don’t like accepting gifts, so I always give one back.

Towards the end of the discussion, after having backed him into a logical corner, he admits defeat. Not directly, but in that kind of questioning, “seems to be this way” plea. I’m right eyeing him, and I say clear as day, “Maybe you don’t yet have enough personal power to live your life without needing beliefs.” That was as much as he could take. Any more and he would have been running out of there.  

He gave me a tremendous gift though.

I’ve been threatening to write a book so long now, I doubt anyone thinks I will do it. What most might not know though, is that everything I’ve ever written is for the most part digitally saved. All that is the rough draft. My life prior to the age of 21 is book worthy all by itself. I’m at least smart enough to be keeping that part safe. I must admit it is a bit daunting to me even though it shouldn’t be. Typically the words just write themselves. The stories find me.

Writing a book reminds me of college. After having gone to college I can clearly see it was the easiest thing in the world to do. But for me, it was more difficult than anything I had ever done. You see, as a child I was brainwashed that college was out of my reach. Making it to MU without sabotaging myself was a real miracle. It took everything I had to pull that off. The emotional process of actually walking onto campus was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had. Not because college is awesome, but because I did not fuck it up. I proved those pieces of shit wrong.

This book thing feels that way. I could easily write a book. Anyone could. I cannot so easily overcome my own self-destructive patterns. That, is the real work.

The whole time this guy was talking to me about his idea of god, he had a small paperback book in his hands. He eventually showed it to me. It was a collection of poems he had written. He told me he has published other books. I was just sitting there taking it all in.

His photo on the back, bar code, artsy cover; everything about it was real. It was a real book the same as any I’ve ever read. Here is where the Universe kicks me in the nuts. He said it was his rough draft, and that it only cost him 2.53$ to have made. He has one made, and then does his editing on the actual book. It took everything I had to keep my jaw from dropping. He said he’s sold a couple thousand copies of the other books he has written. Okay, now the Universe is kicking me while laying on the ground recovering from the nut shot.

He has me read one of his poems. His favorite one in the book. It was something about giving love to those who hate. I’ve already taken up the god tactic, so I can’t press him on this one too. But no where ever in history, has the evil guys gave up because their enemies loved them. That is just not how it works. That is some idealistic Christian bullshit. I’m not even into poetry, but I oblige him. He spent some time talking about some other books he’s written. He chided me for keeping him from getting any re-writing done, but he knew he wanted that metaphysical conversation.

He told me about his professional life. He likes to fix things up carpentry style. Told me about other jobs he had, things he’s done. You know me, I’m always asking questions. He’s tells me why he took up this writing poetry.

He used to know this guy like ten years ago. This guy had a good job, and was working on making a movie. I think maybe Dan looked up to him because he seemed to be being creative in life. I couldn’t get the gist of why they were such friends, or even why this guy stood out to him so much. Then he says, crazily, that he just saw this guy last week at the library. They got to talking, and it turns out this guy is still doing the exact same thing; working the same job, still working on his movie. He’s astounded by this guy, seven years he says, and he’s still doing the same thing. He tells me he took that as a sign; he needs to change what he’s doing.

I just kept thinking how amazing the Universe is. This guy, on this day, with that book, and those stories. He could not have had any idea what he was doing. More than likely he was just getting more validation for his “law of attraction” theory. By the way, I don’t discredit that theory, but it is far from all there is to it. In typical Christian fashion, he seemed to be holding it way too far up on high. There is so much more to life than going around paying attention to the fact that we all attract things. The Universe balances everything.

Needless to say I cannot stop thinking about that little 2.53$ book. I’ve often in my head calculated the odds. Gauging by the number of reads my blog gets, versus the number of FB friends I have, if I extrapolate those numbers out to the population as a whole, my writing would get enough readers. Logistically speaking there is no reason I could fail, except that demon following me around still, telling me I’m stupid.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Two dumb kids

Keep in mind I’m still the new guy on the block. I’m still investigating. Asking questions. Watching more than socializing. The homeless can tell I’m in between. Not quite one of them, but yet, they can tell I am. It is the same on the other side. They can tell I’m not quite one of them, but they can tell I am. This is precisely where I love to be; no one can pin me down with their thoughts.

Who is that guy? What is he doing?

In my eyes the homeless are moving in around the garden. Over the past couple weeks more and more of them are posting up. Ever since I signed the garden leader papers a couple has been living on the railroad property at the back of the lot. They are always around. For the most part they don’t litter, and haven't messed with the garden, but their actual camp looks like a small landfill.

Change is coming though, and they can all feel it. They know I am not lingering around for nothing. They may not be able to describe it, but their unconscious knows I’m charging the location with my personal power.

I usually roll by the garden early in the morning to check on things. I usually pick up the dangerous trash first; broken glass, needles, metal objects. One never knows what it will be.
I eat a few of the newly ripened black raspberries, check to see if anyone missed a strawberry, then meditate for a few. High harmonize.

Over the past month I’ve been steadily imbuing the garden with my energy. I read there a lot. Reading is a great source of power. I like to go there to take a piss, instead of wasting water at the library.  It’s only a couple of blocks away.

On this particular morning I find someone has set up camp right in the garden lot, behind the mulch piles that have not been leveled yet. I knew this would happen eventually, because the large piles create a haven on the back side. Their shit is everywhere. They even made a little stove out of bricks pulled from the garden bed borders, with a cast iron skillet for cooking. This is cool in itself, but they just leave all the trash laying around.

My issue is, I’m volunteering at a youth center. I am not volunteering to clean up after grown ass adults. I’m doing this to help kids like myself. I’m lingering today to make sure this person cleans up their own mess. I’m going to let them know what I am about, why I am there, and why they can’t trash up the place without some grief from me.

The Rare Breed director was around. We talk for a minute. He’s always busy with meetings and administrative stuff, so he’s never in the back. He likes to hear my stories. I let him know, it seems to be getting worse. He told me that he had to come down on Monday, Memorial Day, and there was a huge party going on, on the deck. I agreed, and told him they’ve been living there. He said he’s been coming in earlier and noticing that sometimes there are almost ten people sleeping on the deck. None of them are youth. None of them are under twenty one.

I finally see someone at the back of the lot. I start walking down the tracks. I’m still wanting to know who posted up in the middle of the lot. As I approach, I realize it’s two kids. They shouldn’t be there. They don’t even give pause at my approach, but continue to go through a backpack lying on the ground, in the middle of what is obviously a homeless camp.

I’m thinking how dumb are these kids? For all they know that backpack is mine, and they didn’t even stop pulling stuff out of the pack.  
I waste no time. “What the hell are you doing?”
One smirks, one looks afraid.
I say, “You are going through someone’s stuff. How old are you?”
They say, in unison, “I’m thirteen.”

They look so young. They didn’t look thirteen to me. The one is so small and thin I could pick him up with one hand by his curly hair. The one smirking, he’s fat, he wouldn’t even be able to run away if he needed to. It’s summer and school's out, but these kids are nowhere near their homes. I start telling them that they are putting themselves in danger, because if the people who live at this camp catch them it isn’t going to go well. I’m telling them they are in danger.

The brave, or dumb, however you think of it, one keeps smirking at me. That never goes well with me. I start heckling them, because they weren’t wanting to leave. They wanted that backpack. I finally see their bikes. I realized they are actually being clever. They hid their bikes, before approaching the camp. This isn’t their first time.

Now, it gets turned up. I’m heckling. They are getting the man voice. I started radiating my energy to get them to flee. I tell them they won’t be the first kids I’ve followed all day, until they go home, so that I can make sure their parents know they are not intelligent enough to be out on their own. They get their bikes, and ride off down the tracks. They must of knew I was bluffing; I didn’t follow them home.

I’m starving. It’s my third day without food.

As they are riding off on the north most set of tracks, I lost sight of them behind rail cars just sitting motionless on the rails.

Coming down the southernmost set of rails, as they are riding off, is a person I’ve seen many times hanging out on the porch of the Breed. I’ve never talked to him directly, but today is the day. This guy is super shy. Introverted like me, so I just go direct. I explained my situation, about the homeless guy setting up shop in the middle of the garden lot, and ask him what he thinks I should do.

This kid is smart. A genius. He says, “They are staying around the Rare Breed because they don’t know where else to go. If you want to solve your problem, solve their problem, and find somewhere else that they can go.” I tell him thanks, and let him know that is exactly what I needed to hear.  Why didn’t I think of that?

We kept walking together. I started asking him personal questions, but the non threatening kind. Where do you eat? Where do you shower? How long you been on the streets? Where else have you been homeless? After all, my real mission is to have first hand experience living on the streets here now. I want to know, not think I know. I’m not going to be the guy helping homeless, when i don’t even have firsthand experience of it myself. I can’t stand being a hypocrite.

He asks me my story, why I’m here. I give him the short of it, and now I’m in. He’s taking me to a place to eat for free. There is a place that serves lunch to the homeless, about six blocks away. He told me he’s been walking for over an hour to get there. I thank him for his kindness. I don’t know his name.

I had to sign my name to get the lunch. My name was 161 on the list that day. More than a few came in after me. It reminded me of prison. Chow line. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference except there were no guards. It was surreal and dreamlike. I was just taking it all in. It’s the same anywhere, everywhere, even among homeless; there is a bit of every kind of human nature.

I see the woman who lives on the corner of the lot. She calls me a cop when she thinks I can’t hear. We’ve had words before, so she does not like me. Once I was taking picture of the lot for Facebook, and she accused me of taking picture of her. She wasn’t even in sight. We had a bit of an argument about it. She’s still bitter over losing that argument. I sit down next to her at the table. Those fold in the middle, white plastic tables. Four topper.

I say, “Can I ask you something? Aren’t you living on the back corner of the Rare Breed lot?”
She says, tentatively, after giving me the stink eye, like why are you sitting next to me, “Ya.”
I say, “I was just down there, and some kids were going through your stuff, so I chased them off.”
She’s alarmed, but says, “Thanks. We got all of our important stuff on us, phones, knives, and stuff, but thanks for letting me know”
I say, “I would want to know.”
She says, “My husband and I got a twelve person tent. We’ve been looking for somewhere to put it because too many people go through our stuff down there.”
I am relieved to hear this. This means it won’t be me evicting them.
She is getting up to leave, “I am going to go check on it now.”

It’s no secret I am a sensitive guy. Having fasted for three days, and staying physically active, my sensitivity was off the charts. The aliveness of this feeling is hard to put to words. One just feels alive. But right there in front of me was reality. All the food stuff I had read about all those years was hitting home. All that preaching about taking care of one’s body was about to be real. Reality in effect. The chow line gave me pizza, and as I ate it, I could feel my body changing.

By the time I finished my two pieces of pizza, I was no longer feeling so alive. I was feeling sick. I felt like shit actually. I wanted to throw it up. I chugged a bunch of water, and decided to walk it off instead. My rationalizing said it wasn’t going to kill me. How many times in life had I scarfed far more than two pieces of pizza?

All the rest of the day I felt bogged down over that food. In my head I’m thinking, these people are already bogged down in life. This food is just sealing the deal. My starving body said to eat, but what I ate was not good for my body. Sad though, because I already know, should I get hungry enough; I’ll eat anything.

Time to head back to the Breed. I needed to find this homeless dude, and put him to task. If I have to clean up his mess, he really isn’t going to like me. It’s the only way it’s going to go well for him; I’ve got to catch him on sight. I’ve got to give him the chance to do the right thing.

I notice the woman, down on the corner. She’s married, and her husbands brother is there. He’s crazy amped up. This is one of those scabbed faced, punk rock looking tweekers. He starts telling me what happened.

Those kids came back and got his pack. He became frantic, and started screaming where did they go? Someone told him which way they went, and he went after them. Now keep in mind, as he is telling me his story, his knife is out, and in hand. He was wild eyed. He had chased after them, and he had pulled his knife on them. The only thing that stopped him was the cop parked down in the industrial flats. It’s just rail tracks and flat abandoned concrete everywhere. All the buildings are gone. If there had been no cop, there would have been no witnesses.

This guys says to me, “If a kid puts himself in a man's shoes, I’m going to treat them like a man.” I told him I wasn’t going to prison for touching a kid. He continued to rage and rant about his plans for such kids.

I don’t know if those kids know it or not, but that cop saved them. If that guy had not noticed the cop parked in the shade, he would have unleashed his rage. That guy is nothing but rage. I don’t even know if the cop knows he saved those kids or not. For all I know he was facebooking in the shade. I wasn’t there. I tried to scare those kids, I tried to warn them. That was all I could do at the time.

They seem lucky from where I am standing. I wonder how many times I got lucky like that and never even noticed it. I did many similar things at that age, riding my bike around during the summer. Did I smirk like that? I can’t remember. I don’t see how I didn’t.

I go back to the little stone table I sit and read at. I’m in the middle of a very important book. One of the staff from the Breed comes out the back door. He’s accessing a bunch of stuff that’s been dropped off at the back of the building. I’m asking him how he would handle these homeless people. As we are talking a cop driving towards us, from under the bridge. Huge bastard. Almost every Springfield cop you will see downtown is a big guy. NFL big. Turns out the dial is being turned up. The cops are being authorized to issue tickets to people lingering on the property. The cop came to get that piece of paper from the boss.

Things are about to get real. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

No end in sight...

I’m writing about this for several reasons, but mainly just because I’m feeling it. The signs are all around me. I’ve been studying myths, and this book about suicide came my way. It’s called the Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus.  Sisyphus is a man cursed by the gods to forever push a huge boulder up a mountain. Every time he would summit the mountain with the boulder it would simply roll down the other side, and he would be forced to push it back up the mountain again. No end in sight.

Enlightenment is a funny thing. It’s sold as a cure by most guru’s, but it is not a cure. They tend to exclaim, merely learn these truths and forever after your life will be “Insert amazing awesome spiritual adjective here.”  Using the word to the average TV watcher invokes visions of saintliness, or perfection in life. Anyone with any kind of awareness at all knows nothing could be further from the truth.

It doesn’t cure anything in a way that is meaningful regarding one’s past. Sure, finding some new level of awareness will create a wave, and one might ride high, for a while, thinking life is great and wonderful, but all waves eventually crash against the beach. Enlightenment is understanding the dark as much as the light; understanding the high wave as much as the low. More than that, chasing the low wave, chasing the darkness with the same fervor as one chases the high wave, as hard as one chases the light.

We are the accumulation of our past. Nothing can change this. We are living evolution; evolution in effect. Both as individuals, and as a collective. We are the direct result of our experiences. The sum total. No new piece of information will change that. It will only add to what is already there. Most people fear change, they worry about who they will be after the change, especially with ego work. The loss of ego is so scary because it generates a feeling of loss of self. The feeling of “loss of self” is terrifying, but it is also impossible. There is no such thing. Fear of the loss of self is fear of one’s own imagination. It’s just a trick of the ego to perpetuate itself. One cannot lose their sum total self.

If you came over to my house, and spent a week talking about life, deep stuff, metaphysics, and then left with a new worldview on life; you would still be the direct result of all your life experiences. Even if your worldview change was radical. If I put you to talking about all the fucked up things, all the things you’ve avoided, all your fears, and self created mind games. If I picked apart your beliefs and theories on life and showed you your lies nothing would change. Even those memories and experiences we are unaware of, and those forgotten; all of them will still be there, with you, forever. They are you; you are them. In these terms reality doesn’t give a shit what we think.

So there you would be, hypothetically speaking, enlightened after spending a week with a non-thinker, and guess what? You still have your life, you’re still the same monkey, sitting in that monkey suit. You will still have all your memories, all your shitty decisions, regrets, mistakes, it will all still be there. Your shit job, your shit culture. If anything, from this ‘higher’ perspective, enlightenment makes all these things seem even worse, because now one is aware of what it could actually be; a literal garden of eden.

Oh, the loneliness of that. The only thing that has now changed is the story you tell yourself about what it all means. Everything that ever happened, still happened.

I’m also writing this for those like me who’ve spent so much effort wanting to forget. Wishing to forget. Praying to forget. I’ve been dealing with abuse all my life. My own, and friends’ of mine. People I don’t know too. I hear their stories through my friends, through my reading. One doesn’t have to study psychoanalysis for very long to realize most of the children of the world do not reach adulthood without someone raping them. Abused such that it wreaks havoc on their lives forever after. I am forty one now, and the trauma of my life still affects me profoundly. I hear people in their twenties and thirties exclaim, “I just don’t want to deal with it anymore!” I say, “Tough shit.”

It makes one suicidal.

No new found awareness will wipe this away. Spirituality is not a cure for trauma. Spirituality doesn’t fix anything except how one thinks. Unless of course you wish to exchange your intellect for faith. This is a road many take, but if you pay close attention their unconscious mind does not let this go. For the rest of their lives they repeat the same lessons over and over again like a petulant child standing before the universe refusing to grow up. Children in grown up bodies are everywhere.

If anything the opposite is true, enlightenment brings more confusion, uncertainty, and that one merely acquires personal power mastering it. In these terms it could be said that enlightenment is the certainty that one is uncertain. That is, one grows stronger bearing it, and making use of it, instead of being used by it. Taking shit, and turning it into gold. The stamp of shit will always be there. There will never be some happy sunny beautiful day free of the stamp of shit. To believe so is merely idealism; fantasy.  

I’ve not been hiding away long enough to write freely about my experiences yet. Certain people might be able to connect the dots, and determine who I am writing about, and this is something I loathe to do, but in this case I feel safe in that no one here knows of whom I speak. I am purposefully leaving it general.

My friend was terribly abused. You can see the rage in her eyes. They shine from it. Like most people abused in such ways, she has to lie to herself to maintain self image, to stay alive. If she came to terms with the reality of it all at once it would destroy her. She must live a lie. For now at least. Her lies bite her though, at every turn. Her sum total mind does not want to live in lies. She knows this too, can feel it at every turn, but doesn’t have the personal power yet to transcend.

Her significant other does not show love to her child in a way in which she wishes her child to be shown love. She is far from alone in this regard. She is asking me about this, because she knows I have been a part of raising children who are not biologically mine. She is trying to make sense of this man she loves. She knows I was raised jacked and still love children, why can’t her man?

She says her boyfriends claim is that the little boy does not act in way that deserves love. In other words, her boyfriend was saying, if this child is to receive love from me, he must act a certain way. This is probably obvious to us, reading this, imagining this from the outside, “Why must this child do anything to be loved by his caretakers?”, so why isn’t it clear to my friend? She is intelligent. She is highly sensitive. What mother needs a child to act a certain way in order to love it? To probe even deeper, we might ask, if she loves her child so much, why can’t she love herself the same? Or the other angle, why isn’t she protecting her child from this man who does not love him?

Well, the simple answer is, she lives an ideal. She lives a lie. The lie here being that her boyfriend is this great awesome guy she imagines him to be. She does not understand, that because of her past, no guy who loves children naturally would be with her. Her lie is that she is worthy of some great awesome guy just because she is who she is. Most women, abused or not, suffer this fate. They think the perfect guy is just going to come along; just for them, without them having to really do anything at all. Egomaniacal comes to mind. They think they are special just for being, but do not bestow the same sentiment on the male. She cannot see that she does to him, what he does to her child.

Here is the kicker, she has lived with her boyfriends father. They lived together at his father's house for a period of time, to avoid homelessness, so she has first hand experience of what a douche this guy's dad is. She knows what a piece of crap his mother is too. She knows for a fact, witnessed with her own eyes, that her boyfriend was not loved as a child appropriately at all. She has all the proof she needs, so why is she asking me why her boyfriend can’t love her child?

She is doing what everyone has done to her. She is doing so unconsciously because of her self taught lies. She is doing what almost everyone I know is doing. She is taking someone who was raised fucked up, and then expecting them to act like the ideal. This is exactly what happened to her. This is exactly what happens to her every day of her life. It happens to every single one of us. Never not once has she caught a break in life, except maybe through her acquaintance with me. She was completely thrown under the bus, raped, abused, neglected, all of it, and then is being expected to act like the ideal. The ideal mother, the ideal girlfriend, wife, citizen, employee, all of it.

She holds herself to this ideal, in the same way she holds others to the ideal. This prevents her from loving herself. How can she love herself, if she cannot even face who she is? As I’ve said, she is the sum total of her experience. As I’ve said, her experiences were a living nightmare.

She just wants to forget it all. If she remembers it, it will kill her; she knows that. Her only way out is to live a lie so hard it might possibly becomes true, fake it to make it, but this isn’t the way out. It will never be true. She will, I will, we will, always be the sum total of our experience. The way out is coming to terms with reality. The way out is through the darkness. The way out; is not a way out.

Can you see this? Can you see in her extremeness a reflection in your own life? So what if you were not abused. You then, don’t even have the excuse of abuse for not handling life. Avoiding the truth is living a lie. Living a lie is not forgetting. It is merely perpetuating the bullshit. Enlightenment is sitting in the bullshit. Going through, sifting through; the bullshit. My friends and I, those thrown under the bus, those of us who are aware of it, we are the modern Sisyphus; forever pushing our boulder up the mountain only to watch it roll down the other side. No end in sight. Pushing a rock covered in shit.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

He changed my life.

I knew a guy once. He gave me several memorable moments. A few moments that are always in my mind somehow through the spiral of life. This particular memory is one of those that is like a dream; nothing but symbolism.

When I was a kid I looked up to him more than a little. I idealized this kid. He  isn’t around anymore though. He lost the will to live. This is part of his story through my eyes.

High school sucked for me. My childhood forced a certain social ignorance on me, essentially because nothing was ever explained to me by an adult. I’m a legit introvert too, and it’s a well known fact public schools aren’t exactly designed for that personality type. Cool kids aren’t the ones in the back reading a book where I grew up. Matter of fact in every small town I’ve ever lived in I’ve been made fun of for being smart. Like legitimate social ridicule for being intelligent. I did always want to be popular though. Being sensitive I always wanted what the people around me wanted. Nice clothes, cool shoes, who lives where, to be popular etc. I grew up in small midwestern towns surrounded by small minded people. I was powerless in the face of it, it was all I had to go on. I had no self-esteem. I bought it hook line and sinker.

This guy though, he had it all. He was tall, athletic, funny, all adding up to luck with the girls. A most desirous thing to any freshman highschool boy. He lived in a huge nice house. He had the clothes, the shoes. His parents had fancy cars, fancy jobs. He was friends with all the popular kids. He was one of the most popular guys in the high school.

I lived next to the railroad tracks. I was lucky if I got cool shoes. My parents didn’t go to my sporting events, or any of that, and like I said they never explained anything to me. Dude was a factory worker, his wife a secretary. I know now they still don’t know anything, so there was good reason for them not explaining things to me.  

This kid though, he changed my life. I aspired to be like him. His reality was a dream to me. Turns out though, my dream was not his reality. Not even close.

He was the first to knock me out in a fight. Well, really it wasn’t even a fight. We squared off, he knocked me out. That’s not exactly a fight, that’s just a kid getting knocked out in the locker room. We got into it after football practice. I never had a chance, he caught me right in the temple like it was second nature. It seemed as natural for him as wiping his butt. Just something unpleasant that had to be done. He probably didn’t even want to do it, but I just put him to it thinking I was tough. Everyone laughed, I just got my stuff out of my locker after gaining my senses, picking myself up off of the shower floor, and burned out. I was never one to have friends on my side on sports teams.

What I remember most about this guy though, was the shine in his eyes. It has always burned in my mind's eye. HIs eyes always shined. You know how it goes sometimes in high school, after a fight, friendships often result. A fair amount of respect is gained simply by standing one's ground, win or lose.  I wasn’t a terrible athlete either, so the jocks didn’t exactly hate me being on their team.  I was just never in their inner circles. I didn’t get invited to their parties, or to their houses.

Somehow though, I don’t remember how, but I managed to get invited over to his house. In my child mind I was achieving great social success. I was elated actually. I was going to go hang out with one of the most popular kids in the whole high school. As an introvert, who constantly frets and is anxious about social experiences, this was huge. There was no warning for what was to come.

When I got to his house, as I walked in the door, his older brother was beating the shit out of him. Like, not pulling his punches at all. Just completely, wholeheartedly bullying my friend. I was just a freshman, not even finished with puberty, his older brother was a senior. He was also tall and athletic, much bigger than I, and was more than capable of beating both of our asses, so I just watched. I could not afford having beef with this senior at school. I  had enough problems already.

Because of my sudden presence, my friend had to man up. He was probably wishing I had showed up at any other time. He looked me in my eyes as he was escaping his brothers blows, downplaying what was happening, and man did his eyes shine.

I knew then all was not so perfect in my friends life. We were freshman in high school, how long had he been enduring his older brother? All was not as it seemed. Even then, in my ignorant small town mind, I knew firsthand what it takes to create a child who is violent to their younger siblings. I was one myself. Who knows how his parents were behind those closed doors. Rich people are drunks too, they are pill addicts too. Cokeheads.  I learned that day for the first time, with my own eyes, people with nice things are just better at pretending everything's okay when it is not. This is one of the reasons people’s eyes will shine; they are hiding rage.

It’s not possible to be physically abused by an older sibling and not feel rage. It’s not possible to be physically abused by anyone and not feel rage. If my friend could have found it in himself to be honest about his life he would not be stifling rage. When one is stifling rage, with no outside source to direct it at, it gets directed inward. One's self destruction switch gets flipped, and down the dark spiral one goes. 

Looking at it from the outside, he completed the circle. He believed the lie. He measured his self value by cultural standards, material success. When he lost everything due to economics, he never got back up. He used up all his life energy telling a lie, pretending he was okay when he was not. Even when he had all his material possessions he was not okay; he was just filling the hole.

I’m sure all manner of opinions can be made about the choices he made. The truth is he was in the weeds from the get. I wish I could have helped him, but like so many the truth seems too painful. It’s a phenomenon I see everywhere I look. People are raised terribly, and then are expected to be competent capable adults. And even worse they will judge themselves quite harshly for being unable to do so. Even worse still, they will expect it of others.

Most people I know spend the bulk of their energy thinking of ways to not deal with their issues. That is like being at work expending energy on ways to be lazy. They can’t see that either way, they’re going to suffer. Either way, they are going to expend the energy.  One can face the rage, or die alone in an apartment. Either way it’s going to suck. It doesn’t seem to make sense, unless you add to the equation that a lot of people simply don’t want to be well. If I ever make that choice, there won’t be anything anyone else can do about it. It’s best to just nod, say farewell, and say thanks for those lessons learned. He changed my life like no one else could of at that moment in our lives. I’ll never forget those moments, or that shine in his eyes.