Beyond Your Own Head.

I adore you,
but you endlessly
frustrate me.

Striving for a career
that necessitates
exercising empathy
and listening,

yet consistently
displaying an inability

to see beyond
your own head,
cease talking over me
or show any signs
of actually listening
to a single word I say

or providing evidence
that you have any interest
in viewpoints
beyond your own.



Girl meets boy. They seem to hit it off and so start dating, maybe even get married. In any case, they move in together, and this is when boy starts beating girl. Family and friends grow concerned, but girl makes excuses for him and remains with him for an enduring period of time before finally emerging from her insane haze, accepts that this is a problem and manages, perhaps with the help of lived ones, to escape the situation. Safe, secure and free as a bird.

And then girl moves back in with guy. They’re working things out. He’s changed. Things will be different this time. The fairy tale got off to a rough and bumpy start, but it’s all better now. Really, she says.

Predictably, guy then proceeds to beat girl.

This absurd story echoes through the circumstances of countless girls I’ve known and spoken to over the years. Despite the insane behavior of staying with him, I sympathize with her — unless children are involved, for while you have the right to live out your days however you choose, upon entering parenthood it isn’t just about you anymore.

As a whole, though, I simply don’t get it. I’m incapable of wrapping my feeble, little monkey mind around this maddening and disturbingly prevalent pattern. I have a difficult enough time in my efforts to understand how one could be in a relationship with someone they don’t trust, someone who’s phone they break into to make sure they aren’t cheating on them, much less a partner who’s abusive. I am perhaps more than a little bias, however, as I was never beaten, molested or raped as a child — #NotMe — which is a startling rarity, it seems. In that light I should perhaps be thankful that I don’t understand, that those closest to me have relatively healthy and loving relationships — but it does little to ease the confusion and nausea elicited by the far more widespread pattern.

Do and Die.

feeding resentment
and hopelessness,
withdrawing into isolation
until they succumb

to the last resort,
do and die,
a final effort

to empower themselves,
make a mark,
and gain recognition.

Playing field leveled,
power shifted
with a blade, a car,
a bomb,
through the barrel
of a screaming gun,

through the red staining
their eyes,
they can see the spotlight
shining on them,

and now it’s naked
for all the mad
world to feast upon

so other boiling souls
know how to taste the surge
they’ve been robbed
and get our attention
before they reach
their final destination.

And until we see,
empathize, take the time
to listen,
this will


Grateful for Amnesia.

To this day,
such an ominous
dream. It hangs
with me.

as you dance in the sky,
like fireflies
performing acrobatics

lighting up
the summer night
like a psychedelic Fourth
of July. Awash

with such an ominous
sprung from in between
the heightened,

fear and yearning
glowing from within me.

Laying back, closing
my eyes
(as a shadow bolts from the forest)
and finish
just before the little creep —

before you —
shove your face
in mine,

those hungry twin silos
yet finding myself
fading to black

anyway, before awakening
on a cold table
in a room of fluid light,

where I slowly
come to the conclusion
that I am grateful
for the coming amnesia.

Slavery With Extra Steps.

In the job market, freedom means being able to choose who you want to be a wage-slave to so long as you can sell yourself to your preferred master. That sort of game strikes me as pretty fucked up.

My response to any argument against it would probably be to quote a conversation from the Rick & Morty episode, “The Ricks Must Be Crazy”:

Morty: You have a whole planet sitting around making your power for you? That’s slavery.

Rick: It’s society. They work for each other, Morty. They pay each other, they buy houses, they get married and make children that replace them when they get too old to make power.

Morty: That just sounds like slavery with extra steps.

Back in my teens and twenties, I had commitment issues when it came to jobs. I couldn’t hold one down. I walked out of just about every job I had until I started working for my current fast food chain. I’ve been at this particular store — save for a short period in which I was temporarily transferred when they rebuilt the place — for a little over fourteen years.

The last time I walked out of a job, it was my first and only factory job, and I worked there for a little under three months. Taping boxes on an assembly line, then stacking boxes in the back of a semi. It was my first “real” job, or at least that’s how it felt, and I couldn’t take it. I was making what for me at the time was great money — and I’ve never been so depressed in my life. I generally feel out of place, but I stuck out like a throbbing, cartoonish thumb here. I walked out when I couldn’t deal with a particular authority figure, my roommate Sandra talked me into talking with management, and I did and got the job back. I got overwhelmed one day about a week later and walked out again.

Then followed an enduring period in which I was jobless. I was unmotivated and self-loathing. The fear of not having a job that last time was astounding: was I going to end up a bum on the streets? Was it possible that I simply wasn’t wired to make it in this world? Every job seemed to crush my soul. I didn’t fall into the rhythm like everyone else. I didn’t belong.

Once I finally got my present fast food job, I came to fear my impulse to walk out every time I got pushed to my breaking point. I couldn’t walk out. I needed to pay rent. And so I’ve remained here for nearly a decade and a half.

Now I can’t seem to break free of the prison I call my job. Its like a horrible marriage, an emotionally abusive relationship I can’t find the strength to escape the grips of. Maybe I have more in common with the sea of dysfunctional couples and the unhealthily married masses than I have typically deduced.

Back when I was exploring astrology, I came to learn the meaning of my moon in Aries in the Sixth House of the zodiac with respect to the kind of employment I was bound to work in: food service. I thought to myself, Is this coincidence, or is this fucking fate?

Some believe we are born with the legacy of our former incarnation: we start out how we ended, psychologically and habitually speaking. According to my apparent past life memories, I died a bum on my last tour of the flesh. I remember dreading growing up as a kid as all the other kids seemed excited.

This wasn’t promising, not from the very beginning.

I don’t want to go down the hobo road again. I don’t want to drift aimlessly from job to job, live out of my car, or be homeless and jobless and sleep in dumpsters. I fear leaving because maybe I’ll successfully get a new job, but then I’ll just get pissed and walk out like I have so many other times. Maybe I can’t endure a real job. It could be that cabinet factory job I had all over again. Maybe it will be too difficult to learn something new; maybe I’m programmed, hopelessly bound to the wheel of shit-job misfortune.

I keep thinking about a stock guy I worked with at that grocery store. In the short time I was there, he had left for a new job after working there for eons — and then came back within a week or two. The change? It was too much. He just couldn’t take it. Though he hated this job, there was an addictive security in the familiarity it offered. Like so many others, he was programmed.

Like the elderly who finally make it to the finish line of the rat race but can’t just enjoy their retirement; they get bored and need a job to kill time until the ticker stops ticking. They’re programmed, too.

I don’t want to be a robot. Fuck that. And I can’t leave here and just come back. If I leave, I’m just gone. One way only.

I’ve got to at least honestly try to get out of here again.

Pigment Boy and the Hero’s Journey of Hygiene.

Nowadays, if I skip my morning ritual of showering, tooth-brushing and gargling, I feel utterly disgusting. There are those relatively rare occasions where I skip one or all of them, however. Sometimes on weekends, if I’m not going anywhere, I’ll get too wound up in my head and put off doing it forever. Very rarely I’ll be late to work and skip the shower in my frantic race to engage in my wage-slave duties. In any case, I regret it. I just don’t feel prepared to do anything beyond the apartment door or deal directly with any other human. In many ways, it’s become as vital a component to the process of waking up as coffee.

In reflecting back upon how I used to be, though, this seems most amazing and strange.

I had fairly good hygiene throughout elementary school and middle school, and then had a brief fixation on being clean in seventh or eighth grade, one that was actually just part of a much broader fixation on my appearance in general. I’d have my mother trim my hair constantly in my efforts to get it perfect. I would use hairspray, moose and gel. Self-conscious about being weak and skinny, I got weights. Near the end of that swift phase, I began doing relaxation exercises taught to me by those guided hypnosis tapes my mother had gotten for me when I was younger, determined to exercise my mind and keep it healthy as well.

I was slowly transitioning out of that external fixation into my new internal one around freshmen year of high school and had crossed that bridge entirely my sophomore year. After my flashbacks or whatever they were, after all the strange things began happening in my life, I became more fixated on the internal than I had previously been focused on the external.

Anxiety was also at an all-time high. I resisted sleep. With no commercial break for consciousness, it all just felt like just one, long, entirely fucked up day. We always showered before bed or after waking up when we were younger, typically at the same times, and that pattern was suddenly out the window. There were no set transitions to mark the passage of time except school-time.

Anyway, hygiene was not on my to-do list. It was, in fact, the furthest thing from my mind. I simply didn’t care much about my body in general. I gave up haircuts completely and hung up my moose, gel and hairspray forever. I hid it all under a black hat. I hardly ever brushed my teeth. Sometimes I would rub the area on the ribbed underside my shirt collar against my two front teeth to scrape away the slime cocooning them because it got so irritating to feel it with my tongue. I would feel disgusted with myself over the long, smeared line comprised of a months-worth of tiny leftovers from my primary diet of Pepsi, coffee and Ritz crackers, but I certainly wasn’t revolted to the degree that it ever inspired me to actually do something about it.

It helped that I preferred my hair unwashed for a certain time, as otherwise it would poof up, which looked ridiculous with my hat off and — my true concern — it felt uncomfortable with my hat on, which it almost always was. Eventually it got far too naturally greasy, at which time I would wash my hair in the laundry room sink — not in the shower, of course.

In the group of friends I became a part of around that time was a particularly sexy and somewhat aggressive girl I’ll call Kelly. For some reason, she always insisted that I “wasn’t naked,” which was something she said to me often and seemed to believe quite strongly, though I never got her to clearly articulate what it was that she meant, exactly. In retrospect, though, it was true enough. I hardly ever took off all my clothes. At the time I suppose I did feel vulnerable naked and felt that it was best to be wrapped in a cocoon of sweat, jeans and flannel at all times. Showering took more effort than I could invest, and just thinking about going through the motions seemed exhausting. I could hardly keep my eyes open.

When I could no longer remain awake and would literally crash into unconsciousness on my mattress, I slept clothed, of course, often with both my backward ball cap on as well as both my shoes.

Those kids who tie their laces loose or fail to tie them at all just so they can leisurely slip in and out of them without having to lean down and engage in that tedious, torturous, tying and untying process — you think they’re lazy? Hold my coffee.

Since I never showered, I just changed clothes when it suited me, and when it happened it was rarely all articles. I often wonder how horrible I must have smelled back then, but there were surprisingly few comments, and those I remembered were only in one case necessarily negative. One girl I knew said I smelled like broccoli; another girl claimed I smelled like Fruit Loops. Both were odd odors, not necessarily unpleasant.

Then there was one occasion in the summer of 1999 when I slept on a cot in a small room at a friends house and for some reason decided to take off my shoes before doing so. When a good friend of mine opened the door to wake me up, it must have been like the feet stink just punched him in the face. Between laughter and gagging, he told me that my feet smelled horrible.

For all I know, there may have been much talk behind my back about the poor hygiene and what had to be an unpleasant smell, however. Some time ago I considered two stories I’d heard that has gnawed at me for years, one told by Mark Vonnegut in his book, The Eden Express, and the other by neuroscientist James Fallon in a host of lectures and interviews. In both cases they exhibited behavior that everyone around them accepted as evidence of a mental disorder — schizophrenia for Vonnegut, psychopathy for Fallon — and yet they did not discover this about themselves until far later in life. More importantly, it was only upon questioning those closest to them that they learned how it had been clear to them all along.

Both were victims of an Unspoken Conspiracy of Silence.

It took some time, probably only a few years back, for me to realize that I may very well be involved in such a conspiracy myself. A former coworker of mine, Gus, is forever filthy. Quite often, the odor is so bad it’s painful. It is clear to everyone at work that he almost never showers. His skin has that lizard-like, leathery look to it, and we often joked that his arms up to his shoulders were the cleanest parts if his body given his short stature and the fact that he always cleaned dishes in the deep-bellied sink in the stock room. Even so, when you are unfortunate enough to have his arm hair brush against your own, the follicles feel like stiff wires scraping against your skin.

When he takes off his hat, he looks like the Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt. You bear witness to the long, oily, stringy locks of hair sprouting from random areas on and dispersed across his otherwise barren scalp. They are plastered to his grisly gourd in a twisting, serpentine style with sweat and fast food cooking oil. Though I’ve never seen them myself, I’ve heard horror stories about how pitch black his feet are when he takes off his shoes.

It struck me one day that on top of the possibility that he simply can’t smell his own odor because he’s too accustomed to it, none of us want to tell him about it for fear of hurting his feelings — yet we’re all comfortable enough making fun of him about it behind his back, of course. And if he doesn’t know it himself and we don’t tell him, it may never show up on his mental radar at all. Like those that Vonnegut and Fallon were closest to, what is obvious to us about Gus he may be entirely blind to himself. This also may have very well have been the case with me and my horrible
hygiene back in the day.

I also understand how he might be able to push the occasional shaft of light illuminating the terrible truth back into the darkness of his mind, as I’d had a few cases of that myself. My pattern was to get offended or embarrassed by these revelations before promptly pushing them out of my mind.

At one point, I believe it was during high school, I got bothered by this thick, slimy film that had come to coat the upper portion of my tongue and my parents made an appointment. They gave me a prescription for drops to put on my tongue, and while the doctor never said what was wrong, he asked me if I brushed my tongue when I brushed my teeth. Well, I didn’t brush my teeth often and I had never brushed my tongue. He suggested I do do. Once I did, instant cure. Ever since, I’ve brushed my tongue.

It was either during or just after high school that I had become increasingly bothered by this black streak that began just below my chin and extended down my neck, to my Adam’s apple. When it didn’t go away, I feared it was a rash or mold or skin cancer and my parents finally relented and took me to the doctors. In the office, a hot nurse had come in to ask me several questions, one of which I distinctly remember referred to any sexual activities it might be engaging in. She then examined what she described as a “strange pigment.” Eventually, she took some rubbing alcohol and applied it to the area and discovered that in doing so she was smearing it, erasing it. Washing it off.

It was difficult to cover my shame. In the midst of drinking coffee some must have dribbled down my chin and neck. One of my father’s friends heard the story and for a time referred to me as “pigment boy.”

At one point when I had run out of money and had to move back in with my parents. I had only just gotten out of the car after they brought me home when mom started barking about how they were only letting me move back home with certain stipulations. Her trying to push a curfew on me despite the fact that I was going to be paying rent pissed me off enough, but when she added that I had shower, it hit me like a fist to the gut. I was so angry at her and ashamed of being gross that I can’t even remember how I responded.

One last embarrassing incident involved an attractive manager I was working with at the time. In the midst of the conversation, she said that if she were single she would go out with me — on the condition that I showered. I was very hurt and defensive about it.

She should have gone with Katie’s technique. It all changed with Katie. This was a beautiful California girl who had recently moved to Ohio. I had met her at work and by some stroke of luck she became my girlfriend for a short but intense stretch of time. After sex, we would take a shower together in the upstairs restroom, and I broke into the habit at once.

Ah, the power of conditioning.

Though I presently am not and never again wish to be as fixated on the external as I was for that brief period in middle school, I now regularly shower, gargle, and brush my tan teeth. I even shampoo my facial hair and my shaven, peach-fuzz scalp. My body has no lasting damage from my once-poor hygiene, but I cannot say the same regarding the years of neglect that has left me with my coffee-stained, not-so-pearly whites.

And next time I get a body, I’m planning on taking better care of that precious flesh-vessel from day fucking one.

Prowling Around in the Dark.

No one’s there.
Just stay calm.
Ignore the sounds.
Rationalize causes.
Await unconsciousness.

Eyes closed, motionless,
preparing for a coming scare.
Paranoid, restless, learn
to relax, and simply not care

what may be prowling
around in the dark, awaiting
the right moment to strike.

Feel that adrenaline rise,
urge to get up and hide
in the light, so ready to fight

the likely futility.

Hopes, Fears, and Futures.

Sometimes I wish I honestly had confidence in our human species, that I could root for the home team, and I always welcome suggestions that might lead me to that attitude and perspective, but I have yet to be swayed, unfortunately.

Listening to the visionary ideas and taking into account the accomplishments of Elon Musk give me hope, and I’m eager to see the day when we will transition to clean energy entirely and be an interplanetary species, with bases and cities on Mars and our own natural satellite — but it won’t reverse the damage done to the earth, and escaping earth by no means suggests that we will escape the hazardous patterns we’ve engaged in down here at the bottom of our natural gravity well. Our parasitic tendencies in such a circumstance, I fear, would only carry on.

Musk makes a good point, however: eventually, human civilization is bound to fall back into what could be termed a dark age, and our only hopes in rebooting civilization might be ensuring that, by the time that tumble backwards comes to pass, we have already established ourselves as an interplanetary species. Then those beyond earth, who still have civilization, can help restore the earth-bound one. And in case of global destruction where all life on earth is wiped out in a manner unforeseeable or which we are incapable of preventing, our species and civilization can carry on, survive, continue to evolve and advance.

But will we establish an extra-planetary presence in time, and if we do, will we be better for it, or will it simply extend the life and destructive potential of a dangerous, selfish, short-sighted, parasitic and ultimately suicidal species? Will we negatively effect space and other planets like we have to the earth, will we drain it all of resources and leave a cosmic dumping ground in our wake, or might we “grow up” in a species sense?

Sex, Religion, and Thought-Tracks.

For the last few months, I’ve been keeping up with the daily samatha meditation. I’ve noticed that my mind is back on hyperdrive lately, perhaps an effect of the meditation and the fact that I’ve stopped drinking. Again, I’ve noticed that much as I keep a bare minimum of three folders open at once on my laptop, I keep at least two distinct tracks of thought going on in my mind at once and hop between them. Today my mind’s been bouncing between the subject of religion and the subject of sex.

With respect to the religious track, it has a definite source. Monica came into work last night, though it was her day off. The live-in boyfriend and her had gotten drunk and she left before they got into another fight, and now, clearly inebriated, she sat down in the dining room while I was cleaning and began spilling to me. It didn’t take her long to bring up the subject of a god, though this is not a conversation she’s had with me to any extent before.

Since she can’t believe in people, she explains, she believes in god to get her through life. She just talks to “him” and asks if he’ll help her get through the day. If she didn’t believe in god, she confesses, she wouldn’t be able to take it. She’d kill herself.

Just try it, she tells me. Just wake up and decide to believe.

As I try to explain to her as gently as I’m able, I don’t think I’m wired the same way, because it just doesn’t work for me.

When I realized I didn’t believe in a god back in high school, for a brief time I saw it’s lack of existence as a bad thing — until I subjected it to analysis. Then I realized it just fucking wasn’t. In addition to the fact that there is no convincing evidence suggesting the existence of such a creative, cosmic intelligence, I also see no evidence that believing despite the lack of evidence has any real, practical utility as a coping mechanism — at least for me. I know it makes her and others feel comfortable, fills them with hope, but I was never able to understand why. A totalitarian, cosmic father figure that draws the lines between right and wrong, dangling the carrot of forever-heaven in front of us and hovering the whip of eternal hell just behind — well, it just doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

If such a god did indeed exist, he would, in my humble opinion, be the biggest asshole conceivable. I wouldn’t support him anyway.

Talking to her, though, I leave that part out.

She tells me it doesn’t have to be that, but that I should just “believe in something.” I never understood it when people said that. What do they mean? That we all have to invest uncritical certitude in the notion that a creator of the universe exists? That we all should have blind, unquestioning servitude in some external force? Neither seems necessary to me. Neither seems healthy. Any way you slice it, no god — not even The God of the Infinitely Vague — seems attractive to me.

I tell her I see evidence suggestive of reincarnation and that consciousness is but a resident of the body, that there may be other planes of existence or parallel universes our consciousness can access — that I am an atheistic dualist. But her god, her Jesus, the concept of original sin, the notion of heaven and hell? I can’t, don’t, won’t swallow it. And the notion that this singular book — anthology, really — is a guidebook for life? I don’t see it. That shit just never made sense to me.

I can cherry-pick stories and lines from Dr. Seuss that are as relevant to life. The bible doesn’t stand out as a book, let alone a guidebook, sorry.

I don’t say all of this to her. I like her. And if it keeps her from killing herself, let her have the crutches. I’m thankful something is keeping her alive, even if it’s bullshit. But I can’t stomach it. And my mind and my soul relents as well.

So that religion was on my mind makes sense given last night’s conversation, but the thought-track dealing with sex? That’s another matter. The memories just sprung out at me from nowhere; jumped into my consciousness from the seeming void, unprovoked.

Once, when Claire and I were going out during high school, I was with her at night in the front seat of a large vehicle. It may have been my old Celebrity, my first car, but for some reason, I remember being higher up, as if in the front seat of someone’s truck. In any case, we were parked at night in the dirt lot beside a house just around the block, where her cousin went to practice in his band. I wish I remembered how it started, specifically if I actually had the balls to initiate it, but my hand was down her pants. Fingers worming around. It was warm, moist, wonderful. I was working away as I watched the illuminating expressions wash over her beautiful face. She seemed to be enjoying it, but I was forever uncertain, and I remember getting incredibly nervous, certain that I was doing something wrong, and ended up stopping. I later confessed this to her and she stated the obvious: that if she seemed to be enjoying it I should have just kept the fuck at it.

I never had sex with her. I had better get the chance and take it before I die. At least once. Bare minimum.

Even after I lost my virginity at age twenty, after it blew my mind, I didn’t do that again for five years. It seemed to establish a pattern of sorts, one in which I would suffer enduring periods with no sex (I’m on a seven-year-stretch right now, as a matter of fact, and it stands as the longest period of inactivity yet), punctuated by short periods where I make up for lost time. Anne, the complex gal who took my virginity, probably fit the profile of a nymphomaniac, but it always seemed to me that she just liked sex, and there’s nothing wrong with that. During the last time we were together, I remember her telling me that our sex drives were similar, and how, based on that, she didn’t understand how I could go so long not having any sex at all. I reminded her that I was a rather chronic masturbator, but its true, it’s not at all the same thing. So am I a self-denying nympho, then?

I also remembered when Anne came back from Texas, how I had sex for the first time in years, and out of nowhere, in the midst of me doing the ol’ in-out, she spanked me on the ass.

I stopped a moment. She then asked, and I confirmed: Indeed, I like that.

Over time, she was interested in letting me try out new things. I bobbed in the muff for the first time, we had sex while we both watched porn, had sex in a chair until her greyhound tried to cut in.

I thought to myself how I haven’t had sex since I started smoking pot, and given that it makes masturbation infinitely better, I’m really eager to do the real thing in that state of body-mind. I need to find an interesting, pothead girl who wants to stone-bone rather than simply continue to engage in my nightly, solo weed-whacking.

Why has the desire suddenly flared up like this? Is it because I’ve stopped drinking and my sex drive isn’t buried by the haze that it’s been on my mind again lately?

And why am I ping-ponging betwixt sex and the religious issue in my head today, specifically? As I chewed on that for the latter half of my work shift, it struck me again that there’s probably a link between our romantic feelings for a significant other and their religious feelings for a goddess or god. To me, this helps explain why conservative men talk about Jesus in a manner that in any other context would, to their ears if no one else’s, sound blatantly homosexual. It also makes sense out of the hypnodomme thing, as they seem to strive to link sexual, romantic and religious feelings through hypnosis in order to condition some heightened sense of drooling worship and control in their subjects. I’m glad I got out of watching those videos at the same time that I kicked the booze: once I blew the nightly load, and certainly after I sobered, the thought that I was watching those videos made me feel nauseous.

I am more apt to deal with Pagans and Buddhists; their concepts are more attractive to me. Eastern religions in general, and Native American beliefs, they fascinate me. Even Satanism seems to have some merit, at least one form if it. Not that I could be certain I’d ever call them my own.

Maybe I need to have sex with a Pagan stoner with Buddhist leanings or something. Let today’s mental tracks crisscross, let those trains of thought collide.