I Have Too Much Stuff.

The most recent life adventure I recall embarking on is the hunt for normalcy, or at least a dose of it.

Today, I have reached what I believe will be the climax of this adventure (wherein anxiety is the antagonist and normalcy is the goal). I am choosing not to be crippled by discomfort.

Much of my life-halting vexation is rooted in my bedroom. I have too much stuff. I have stuff everywhere. I have stuff on, under, around, and probably above my bed. And I don’t see the TLC program ‘Hoarders’ as an ideal introduction to the world of television.

My stuff is like a swarm of jellyfish. It swallows me, distracts me from getting things done, and generally depresses me.

I have been sinking deep into a transparent sea filled with these self-procured jellyfish monsters of apprehension for about 7 years now. Once in a while, I will wriggle free and come up for air. But most times, when the jellyfish get to stingin’ I admit defeat. Why be a certified lifeguard if you can’t save yourself too?

I need to get rid of my stuff. I have 3 garbage bags and I am starting today.

For the sake of this project’s completion, please do not comment or react until I have announced its fulfillment.

And if you feel concerned regarding the tone of this post, please do not fret; For I am full of positive energy. Just not when I am at home, surrounded by all of this stuff.

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Gotta Polish the Trophy if You Want to Keep it on the Mantle

If I try really hard, I can remember getting my braces off. Over Christmas break in 2004, I was re-introduced to the slick, slimy insides of my lips in a hasty arrangement that only a hairy and very foreign orthodontist could procure.

It was a bright moment in my life; I was 13. I was loaded up with society-approved teeth and I wasn’t afraid to use them.

One cannot, however, exist in a single moment forever. I have learned this by trying to do exactly that. It is a special day when you realize that while you may have deserved something once, you can’t keep it if you terminate all effort.

Put simply, you gotta polish the trophy if you want to keep it on the mantle.

Just like my teeth. I sacrificed corn on the cob, twizzlers, and ice cubes for about a year. I flossed and brushed all of the time. I treated my pearly, metal-studded whites like 26 little Bentleys all parked cozily next to each other in the car lot that is my mouth. I knew that one day, I’d get to take them for a spin.

So when I received my license to chew, I chewed too quickly and too recklessly. I disregarded my retainer. Then my wisdom teeth grew in. And now the bottom half of my mouth looks like a Ford Pinto pileup.

What I find interesting and quite symbolic is that my top row of teeth is still pretty much intact. That merchandise is still straight, as far as you’re concerned. So people don’t see anything but a well-kempt smile when we meet, which is lovely for me.

But I know the truth: I know what the whole picture looks like. I know that what happened is my fault, and that it could have been prevented. When I reveal my teeth, I reveal a great personal flaw. I reveal a deep-seeded pattern of self-destruction. I reveal my dusty trophies.

Is it normal to take things for granted? Is it normal to laboriously achieve something just to prove that it is attainable?

Is it normal to not only feel, but to know that you can do better?

One day, I will do some damage control. I will reveal all of my dust laden trophies. Then I will clean them. And then, I will be proud.

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I Believe in Writer’s Fog

I don’t believe in writer’s block.

It sounds too permanent.

It seems like a literal thought-ailing obstacle.

It feels like a death sentence.

It smells like superglue, and tastes like chalk.

 

I believe in writer’s fog.

It sounds vacant.

It seems like a figurative drawback.

It feels like hydroplaning, a lapse.

It smells like a peripheral garden, and tastes like patience.

 

 

 

 

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Restaurant Rant: Circa October 2010

some people will tell you that waitressing is an art. others will tell you that it is something to do for money in a time of transition. some will say they simply like to put a smile on other people’s faces. and I will tell you that if your parents raised you kindly and you are a fundamentally ‘good’ person, then waitressing is soul-hardening, esteem-destroying, aneurism-inducing, and barely an occupation.

think of a restaurant as a city bus in 1959. there’s the bus driver. he’s always there. if you’re inquiring about riding the bus, he’ll put on a cheesy smile and convince you that you’re the right person for a seat. you’re late to the bus one day, and you have to sprint after it and flag the driver down. sure, he’ll stop. but he’ll also be an asshole. every time you board from that day on. you’ll gradually migrate from the deceivingly charming front-end of the bus to the gritty and outwardly unpleasant back-end of the bus. which is why i specified that it’s a bus from 1959. because that’s where all the outcasts, fugitives, and foreigners are. everybody in between? well, they’ve become a cultish egotistic team and they’ll dismiss your presence until you do something out of the ordinary. like rosa parks. then, they’ll chastise you without consulting the dreaded bus driver. which is far more threatening. see, it

turns out the bus is free of safety belts. and the gig is to ride at your own risk.

our sociopathic bus driver that i speak of, of course, is the manager at your restaurant. if you disagree, you were probably hired last week. give it some time for christ’s sake. the folks in the back are the illegals, typically hispanic. they have accumulated talent as cooks and they work their frijoles off for microscopic salaries. i’m pretty sure they eat free, however. regardless, all frustration is eventually dumped on their heads, just like people of color until the civil rights movement came along (at least on the bus). you’re the waitress. i use the term ‘waitress’ in stead of ‘waiter’ because, as far as i’m concerned, if you’re going to sign up to take orders all day and night from complete strangers for money (assuming they leave a tip), you must be some kind of pussy either inside or out. everybody else, the veteran staff, is already drained of all compassion and if you don’t contribute to the universally silent hostility by filling ketchup bottles and rolling napkins every day then they will surely have you terminated- whether it be official or unsanctioned.

nobody wants to ride the bus. nobody wants to damage their pride irreparably. but pride doesn’t take one from point a to point b. pride doesn’t pay the bills. yet, interestingly enough neither does your boss (2.13 an hour?? really?). it’s the customers.

so you’re working with a gang of super villains, wrists covered in mayonnaise from scooping it out of a huge foul jar for somebody’s hamburger, getting paid less than the 16 year old girl down the street swirling yogurt, and forcing a smile through all of your misery so that the diners in your section will have a 100% satisfactory meal. these people could be the worst people in the world! they could be larcenists, or thieves, or bullies, or even members of the tea party. but you’re gonna refill their club soda and cranberry immediately. because although you are standing above them, somehow they are sitting above you nonetheless.

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Accordance

When the sun went down around 6 last night, I put on some warmer clothes and headed out into the cold. Though the only visible proof of snowfall lay in the conical luminescence of surrounding streetlights, I knew it was snowing all around me. I walked 6 blocks to the bus stop, slowly collecting a thin layer of frost on my coat and face.

During this short trek, I felt at ease in my solitude. In the night’s tranquility I could hear freshly landed powder compact and crunch into the crevices of my boots’ rubber soles. The ground elsewhere, at that moment, posed as a white canvas; though content in its calm isolation as I was, it beckoned light, dimension, texture, and color.

Then, occasionally, a car would pass in near silence, emitting a soft golden glow before leaving behind a fresh set of tracks.  Despite these intermittent elapses of society‘s presence, I still felt alone. The cars passed naturally- placed in the scene for my sole observation.

I had found what, to me, had previously seemed unattainable: nature and civilization fused together, yet equally indifferent to each other. This was not a man-made reservoir or an uncontrollable and destructive hurricane. This was a rare, elegant balance of weather and humanity.

This was a special kind of art- the kind that simply could not be captured through a lens- or even any eye, ear, nose, or hand but my own. It was a compilation of sound, timing, temperature, and emotion that uniquely reached out and stroked the same part of the soul that only forms such as love and music can awaken.

As my awaited bus approached, I felt gratitude toward the world as it was in that moment. I was thankful that not all was lost in the expansion of our chosen civilization. I was thankful that the snow fell and the cars passed in harmony.

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Chris Kasper, America, and Thousands of Toothless People

I spent a good part of yesterday (every waking second, minus 1 hour) with my good neighbor friend from around the corner and 13 years ago. No, not Mr. Rogers. I’ll call him Jack, for all intents and purposes. I picked Jack up at 3 pm and we drove to Chapel Hill to watch the Carolina football team run circles around Virginia. It was like Rambo and the Black Swan had 11 enormous children, and they all went to UNC.

Rare photo of Chris Kasper hiding behind a flower, with the rest of his music

Before we arrived, Jack and I listened to an amazing song that I’ve never heard before. It’s called “Devil’s Gold” by Chris Kasper. Unfortunately, finding a well-recorded version of this song on the internet is like panning for gold (see what I did there?), and I refuse to post anything else because I do not want you to be discouraged regarding my taste in music.

I tell you! Wanting something that I cannot have, like this particular song, does not feel good.

But this is America, no? I can achieve/attain whatever I want as long as I apply myself, right? Of course! In the USA (I speak solely from experience), we celebrate Independence Day by doing whatever we want, in the bed of who’s ever pick-up truck we want, with our fifth of Wild Turkey in whichever hand we want, and our gun in the other. We scream at passersby about freedom and red meat, while setting Mexican explosives ablaze all night long until we can hear the roosters crowing (they are the free-est roosters in the world).

However, there are 364 days of the year that are not Independence Day. Three hundred and sixty four days of following the speed limit, paying off medical bills, paying taxes, and paying for (or becoming bankrupt over) our higher educations, whether they be private or public.

Please, do not be mislead. I love speed limits and taxes. Some people even call me Mao.

"This land was made for you to freeze"

What I do not love is the idea that, if a certain group of people get their way, all health care could be privatized some day. I can just see it now: the lower class migrating to the icy caps of the Rocky Mountains, freezing their decaying body parts for longevity in the chilly winter winds of Colorado. They’d go to Alaska, but there are bears there, and Palins.

Today, something hit me (not a leg-cicle, get your mind out of the snowbank). The situation was as so: Carolina football womped on UVA, scoring their 3rd touch down of the game. The entire stadium lost its mind, especially the very drunk man 4 rows down from Jack and me (but I digress). People were throwing babies into the end zone for autographs, seriously.

Suddenly, the referees decided to watch the play again. “You mean they can take our touch down away from us, Daddy?” Sobbed a little girl behind me. “Yes, honey. But we’ll just hope for the best,” replied the man I assume was the girl’s daddy, “It wouldn’t really be fair if they did.”

Tarheel fans before conservative health care reform

Wee-oo! Wee-oo! My political-relevance radar went off. This 100% American sport, this ‘game of the free’ that brings together people of all shapes and sizes (usually rotund), just pulled a Ron Paul on an innocent little girl! At that moment, I realized: touch downs are like health care- while both are found in America, both can also be taken away from Americans… If the wrong referee has the right whistle.

I have been trying to grasp what this mindf*** the White House calls health reform really entails for a long time now. Even when the facts are laid out in front of me, sometimes I want to pull my hair out just trying to understand the entire thing (but I don’t want that kind of medical attention).

I do, however, understand what really matters. What matters is that people are in real danger, here. Rather, real people are in danger, here. When the Right pushes free market health care, as long as they’re speaking to the majority of America, they’re speaking to the poor, the people in the lower class, and the people in the lower middle class, who make up around 84% of our country’s population. And they’re telling almost half of that 84% that they better go buy a big mason jar. A big mason jar to keep all of their teeth in once they have fallen out, because they can’t afford privatized health care and they don’t have insurance. It’s frightening to think about all of the people that could be left behind. It’s especially frightening to think about all of those same people without teeth.

Yes, wanting something that you cannot have is a horrible feeling. Yet having something, and losing it, well, that’s freedom.

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Fight The Hate Pollution; No Six-Pack-Plastic-Garbed Dolphin Ever Gave Up, And Neither Should We.

Post-Risque-Comment Pose

Most evenings, my parents and I will sit down in our musky family room and entertain ourselves with a viewing of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. My dad will kick back in his blue leather man-seat with a gin martini (straight up, 2 olives) and my mom will, usually quite perky at that time of day, join me on the couch for some unwarranted footsies. Together, in our unavoidable quirkiness, we will watch. More importantly, we will enjoy each others company- making this 30 minute long period of our days a frequent, yet special, occasion.

This evening was no different than most. It was a half hour of laughs, healthy political discussion, and suggestive (or uncomfortable, it varies) glances between my parents during sexually related segments. Sometimes, I’ll put on a face expressing faux shock and/or confusion regarding Jon’s crude rhetoric during these exchanges; I only want to avoid journeying down an unrelated tangent. An unrelated tangent about vaginas.

We wrapped up our evening viewing party, and my father said the word ‘burger’.

It was on. Alone, I skipped away from home for a short, sweet ride to the burger spot down the road. Really, what seemed like a ‘food run’ to the naked eye was actually a ‘music run’ for me. This particular trip was short and sweet, so I commenced with a foolproof playlist on the ol’ Pod and bumped the Volvo all the way to dinner.

One band that bumped particularly hard this evening was The Avett Brothers, a Carolina-based rock/folk trio, whose infallible melodies and authentic voice have been melting me at the slow, yet gradual pace of a candle ever since I first discovered them for myself two years ago. Could I tell you my favorite song by this band? Sure. Just name the situation first. Because I have about 12 favorite Avett Bros. songs, one for each emotion I allow for  myself to feel.

The Avett Brothers

The song that transformed what I formerly designated as a ‘food run’ and then ‘music run’ in to a ‘musical brain food run’ is called “And it Spread”. It’s a dynamic, yet simple tune about loss and love, with slight drug references. However, if these references are ignored, we’re left with a love song; a damn inspiring love song, that you can listen to at the bottom of this post.

In the last few lines, he sings, “You took my hand/and held it up/and shot my arm/full of love.. And it spread/into the world”.

As I pulled out of the burger joint parking lot, I thought about the kind of person that takes all the love they have ever received, earned, or felt, and shares that love with those around them no matter what. The kind of person with see-good x-ray vision, bringing the best out of everyone, from the nasty cashier at the gas station to the hostile pastor on television. ‘What a wonderful person. Who wouldn’t like to know a full time peace-instiller?’ I thought to myself.

Then, I thought about Michele Bachmann. ‘Stop thinking about Michele Bachmann’, I snapped at myself. But alas, the woman stimulates my thought process. So I went there.

The least frightening photograph I could uncover of congresswoman Bachmann

I admit that she is not responsible for nearly half of our nation’s disregard for anything but themselves. She is not to be blamed for widespread ignorance (I could never allow somebody of her caliber that much credit), just like one drop of oil in the ocean will not single-handedly end an innocent seal’s day at the beach, or a single cigarette flicked on to the pavement will not take on and intoxicate my county’s water supply using blunt force. But she spreads very deranged, smoggy misinformation, and she spreads it with vigor. Frankly, Bachmann likes a pinch of hatred on her toxic Texas toast.

Even more terrifying: People listen and repeat, as if they were taking advice from a shampoo bottle. It takes a dim person to be drawn to this hate pollution. Unfortunately, the world is full of dim people.

A happy dolphin

The hostility is baked in bulk on the radio, on the ‘internets’, and on the television, and the dimwits come to snack (we all know snacks are for sharing). Thus is the reproduction, spread, and consumption of bitter rhetoric, and the end of something beautiful and natural: harmony.

As the brothers implied so eloquently, we all need a shot of love. Do yourself and those around you some justice: Be kind. If you feel you cannot meet this request, at least listen to the music.

Still not feeling the love? Go grab a burger, trust me.

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