Re: Subjective Reality

“People are always talking ya about truth. Everybody always knows what the truth is, like it was toilet paper or somethin’, and they got a supply in the closet. But what you learn, as you get older, is there ain’t no truth. All there is is bullshit, pardon my vulgarity here. Layers of it. One layer of bullshit on top of another. And what you do in life like when you get older is, you pick the layer of bullshit that you prefer and that’s your bullshit, so to speak.”

Bernie LePlante, Hero (Film 1992)

As I continue this little endeavor of mine, this blog, this silly little writing thing that I do, it follows that the bulk of what I have done so far has mostly been memoirs and personal stories, commentaries or observations about the world around me. These writings would by and large fit, at least loosely, in the category of creative nonfiction.

I love that phrase. Creative nonfiction, it’s right up there alongside bipartisan cooperation on my list of favorite plausible oddities in the English language

No matter what my intentions are, when I’m writing about real life everything is filtered through my memory and emotions. Given the various things that I’ve done to myself over the last twenty some-odd years neither one of those things are can be relied upon for their accuracy or objectivity. It isn’t my nature to purposely mislead  my reader or misrepresent my self, it’s just the nature of telling the story.  The thing is I am not sure there can be any creativity with out embellishment or exaggeration. That’s the whole point I suppose.

We all look at the world through our own lenses, and relate it with our own voices. If you want an example just turn you TV to any major news outlet. Truth is an empirical thing but I don’t think  I can quite see it from here. In the meantime I think my version of events is much more entertaining than any boring old truth.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about for the past week.

Happy Monday.

Re: The proper use of swear words


” I haven’t met anybody who’s truly shocked at swearing, really, they’re only shocked on behalf of other people.”

Stephen Fry (2007)

I don’t believe in bad words, but I do believe in bad language. I think just about anything can be said as long as it effectively conveys the point you are trying to get across

It should come as no great shock that I, like most normal human beings, swear. I swear a lot in my daily life, much more than I do in my writing.  Besides being the cultural norm for my profession, the creative use of swearing is vital for the proper expression of attitude and emotion. If used properly they can bring attention to the portions of your statements that you  wish to highlight.

In stream of consciousness speech they often take the place of punctuation, especially the comma. A true master of foul language can use practically any four letter word as an effective substitute for a noun, verb, adverb or adjective several times in a sentence and you would still be able to follow along and clearly understand the subject of discussion. I’d like to count myself among those masters, though I am sure I could still be taken to school by more than a few people. You can tell a lot about a persons frame of mind; for instance if someone (like me) suddenly stops swearing after clearly being annoyed by another person and starts to speak very slowly, and deliberately, and calmly then that individual is most likely contemplating violence.

When my daughter was born I started playing that delightful game that all new parents do where they pretend like they don’t swear when they around their children. I was actually good at it for a long time, well really I just work a lot. I realized quickly however that I was fighting a losing battle. This first occurred to me when my darling little girl called someone a jackass. It dawned on me that simply modifying my speech while around my child was going to do little to prevent her from learning and using curse words.

Late last night I stumbled across this short piece from NPR’s All Things Considered.  

So, I still havent digested the fourteen pages that Dr. Jay published in the American Journal of Psychology (I plan on doing that on my break at work), but kids are going to swear. I think it is just lazy parenting to try to simply tell them not to use certain words. It is up to us to make sure they know how  and when to use them. This doesn’t mean raising our children to talk like sailors, it means teaching kids how to properly communicate their emotions and intentions, regardless of the vocabulary they use.

Besides, it is hilarious when kids swear, just ask the internet.

Happy Monday

RE: Loneliness and the sober line cook

“Now the thing that I call living is just being satisfied
With knowing I got no one left to blame”

Gordon Lightfoot, Carefree Highway (song 1974)

I knew going into becoming sober I would have to keep myself busy It’s not that I don’t do anything I do quite a lot of things, go to work mostly, ride my bike, help my wife and her mother with some of the landscaping projects around the house, play with my daughter when I have a day off. I write, or at least make an honest attempt at it.

The problem is that’s all it ever seems to be, just keeping busy. I have not had a drink in over a year and a half, and one question still persists. When do I start enjoying life again?

Don’t get me wrong the last year or so has had its moments. There has been however this overwhelming feeling of emptiness around me. I have been living in isolation for that time, what remains of my previous lifestyle, the one thing that I haven’t found a viable way out of, is my job. To make that work I have to put up with crazy schedules, always working weekends, and putting in long hours at night.  This leaves little in the way of time to schedule socializing during the day. Most cooks and other restaurant personnel take care of their need to blow off steam by frequenting bars, and night clubs, and house parties.

For a few reasons this isn’t a good option for me.

It’s not that I don’t trust myself as far as staying sober goes, I feel I have moved past that for the most part; of course I see no reason to test this on a regular basis.  No, at this point the problem seems to be that I find drunk people terribly annoying now that I am sober. To voluntarily surround myself with them more than necessary, well that seems like a good way to make my relationships with my coworkers a bit awkward.

This leaves me largely alone in a house full of sleeping people most nights. Fiddling around on the internet;  feigning interest at the comings and goings of antisocial networks and streaming bad television shows. Anything to occupy the time while wrestling with erratic sleep patterns and a short attention span.

And it all begs the question, what do sober people do for fun?

Well enough of that. I apologize for missing my regular publish time this week. I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts the past few days.

Hope you all had a happy Monday.

RE: The Trouble With People

“Some things may change. People, however… People stay the same.”

Mr. Wednesday

From the novel American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (2001)

As I travel through my days I have, as of late, come to expect considerably less of most people. This ha little to do with the fact that they are short-sighted, avaricious, self-centered, petty and spiteful, which by and large most of them are. Instead given an examination of my life and what I’ve wound up doing with it I am faced with the simple fact that humans are just by nature unreliable.

People are frail, and weak, and vulnerable, and riddled with faults. They have problems, and goals, outside influences and worries of their own. Generally when they disappoint you, or make you angry it ends up because they are doing what they want, what is best for them and not what you want from them. Even though most of the things they do are deliberate, chances are they aren’t doing it just to piss you off.

Harder still, is acknowledging the fact that you too are unreliable. You are just as flawed as the next guy.

It’s really easy to lose sight of that some days.


Happy Monday

RE: Leaving It All Behind

“You know, walk the earth, meet people… get into adventures. Like Caine from Kung Fu.”

Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction (1994)

It was some years ago that, despite my meager attempts to get a hold of my life, I found myself living on the streets for the second time. It had been a rough couple of years that included losing my parents, starting a business to watch it fail due to my own ineptitude and lack of experience, self-inflicted relationship problems, a string of meaningless and less than satisfying attempts at remaining employed. Needless to say I was feeling more than a bit under confident and just a little worthless. It certainly seemed that  I had little left to lose, and not much was on the horizon as far as future prospects.

It was in this state of emotional desperation I decided that perhaps the life of the aimless wanderer might be a good career option.

With little more than the clothes on my back, my journal, a purse full of random odds and ends, and the company of strangers I set off on a road trip to nowhere. It seemed like the thing to do.

It was an action packed trip full of easy to find good times, decent drugs,  mediocre people, and crappy music festivals. Most of these things I don’t recall with much clarity, for precisely what that were. I am left however with the shape of them in my mind so I am largely able to embellish the details if called upon to do so. No really, I can totally make it sound like a great adventure provided I basically lie about it.

What I remember distinctly about this point of my life is how miserable I was and how much I missed the friends and what was left of the life that I had left behind. I traveled across half the country, including Ohio twice. I traveled through downtown Cleveland in the middle of the night, hiked fourty miles in a day, spent half of a very cold autumn camping in a forest far from familiar faces. The thing that I wanted to leave behind the most in all of my depression and confusion was myself. 

No matter where you go there you are, or so the saying goes.

It took a lot of time to get my head out of my ass and screwed back on straight. I’m glad I did.

The other thing I missed was flush toilets. Seriously, I am not cut out for the rugged life.

Happy Monday

RE: Living With Your Decisions

“You can’t say ‘if this didn’t happen then that would have happened’ because you don’t know everything that might have happened. You might think something’d be good, but for all you know it could have turned out horrible. You can’t say ‘If only I’d…’ because you could be wishing for anything. The point is you’ll never know. You’ve gone past. So there’s no use thinking about it. So I don’t.”

Granny Weatherwax,

 From the novel Lords and Ladies by, Terry Pratchett (1992)

I’m not a big person on living with regret. This is not to say that I don’t have a few but I do my best not to dwell on them. Reflection is all well and good as is learning from the past, but I won’t  sit there wondering about what ifs. That way leads to damnation, sorrow, madness and most likely binge drinking.

That simply will not do.

In my personal life I am known to unabashedly speak with all honesty about my perceptions of things, I try to do it in an entertaining way. Sometimes of the time it is well received, sometimes it is mistaken for good-natured ribbing, a lot of times in my life I have come off looking like a mean-spirited, or bitter jack ass. These are the risks I take every time I open my mouth.

Once you say something or take a course of action that is it, you own that now, forever. If it wound up hurting others then you can apologize and try to make amends for it, but it’s still out there in the world. Life has no take backs or mulligans you have to keep marching forward living with yourself.

I have had quite a few bad episodes in my life. Fall, is a series of pieces that describe the aftermath of one of those episodes. It’s still a work in progress but another installment looms on the horizon1

Once, while extremely drunk2, I proposed marriage to a woman who I had only known for two weeks. She drunkenly accepted.  Two drunken fools both too stubborn to admit that what we had just agreed to was a very ill-conceived idea based on all evidence. The next day neither of us would be the one tho say it was a mistake. We lived together, engaged for two years before we really did anything about it.

In less than two weeks we will have been married for eleven years.

 Seems a unintended consequence of being that stubborn was that we spent enough time together to actually fall in love. So admittedly sometimes potentially bad decisions can work out in our favor. We have had our share of troubles but I sincerely doubt I would be as happy without her.

As I side note I chose a quote from Terry Pratchett this week because, not only is he my favorite author, his latest installment of the Discworld series is released in the U.S. on the 18th of March. I am looking forward to it becoming the first book I’ve read in its entirety since I quit drinking3

Happy Monday.

  1. I had to stop writing it for a while because it got painful to the point that I started to shut down a bit while I was writing. Thus the last entry feels a bit dull to me. 
  2. I should find it appalling at this point that most of my personal stories involve the phrase “extremely drunk” but such is life. Things have changed. 
  3. It became such a habit of mine to read while drunk that doing so sober has been a bit tougher of a challenge than expected. 

RE: Signs of Progress

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…”

C.S. Lewis

I have been lamenting lately how I seem to be spinning my wheels. In the same job, living in the same town, and pretty much experiencing the same things everyday for the past eon or two. I then found myself walking down the street with my daughter, thinking how great it would be if she could visit some of my old stomping grounds and meet some of the people from my formative years as a twenty-something and earlier. That is when it finally became clear how much my life has changed.

In the past twenty years or so I have experienced the death of my parents, the founding and loss of my own business, I have been down and out homeless, I hitchhiked through a small portion of America, I successfully reentered productive society1, found what I suppose amounts to a career these days, fell in love, got married, fathered a child, reconnected with my estranged sister after nearly a decade, quit smoking, quit doing drugs2, quit drinking, and have started taking some small steps towards achieving my long abandoned goal of being a writer3.

I’ve experienced, and accomplished more than just those things. Some of it I may not be to proud, and some of it has been down right amazing. It makes me wonder what I’ll get up to next.

The daily grind that we put ourselves through for the sake of paying the bills often shortens our vision and tends to give a dull outlook on life; if you take a long enough look through a long enough lens, you might just make out how far you’ve come.

And, while you’ve got that eyepiece out it’s sometimes nice to point it forward.

Happy Monday

  1. For better or for worse. I am still trying to figure out what exactly is so “productive” about society. 
  2. Except coffee. I ain’t givin’ up my damned coffee! 
  3. A goal that I really need to work harder at. 

RE: Self Gratification

“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair or two cups of good hot black coffee.”

Special Agent Dale Cooper, FBI, Twin Peaks  (1990, T.V. series)

I suppose this quote goes hand in hand with my recent list of happy thoughts; a thing that most people who deal with me everyday would think a bit uncharacteristic, but there you go.

It really is important to give yourself little things now and again. The concept of buying yourself a little something everyday, while nice is a bit unrealistic. At least it is unrealistic from the perspective of someone trying to support a family on a line cook’s wages. Following the themes in Agent Cooper’s examples, you don’t have to do anything spectacular, just treat yourself right for a change.

Perhaps the best gift you can give yourself is time. Just a few moments to relax, or to work on a project you think is important instead of worrying about what other people want from you. Maybe just sleep in a bit one day. You deserve it, I know I do. This is half the reason I spend time writing on this blog.

I don’t think many people spend enough time appreciating themselves. It may seem a bit narcissistic, but really if you don’t appreciate what you do, who’s going to.

Happy Monday.

RE: Why Write?

“The opinions of the masses are of no interest to me, for praise can truly gratify only when it comes from a mind sharing the author’s perspective. There are probably seven persons, in all, who really like my work; and they are enough. I should write even if I were the only patient reader, for my aim is merely self-expression.”

H. P. Lovecraft

While I will agree with this thought in certain principle, that the main purpose in my writing is for the sake of expression; audience is, however, an absolute necessity. I can hardly imagine bothering to write or engage in any other creative endeavor without the intention of sharing it. It is not a matter of simply seeking praise, but also criticism and input so that we can express ourselves more clearly, also without sharing our work we would never find those seven or so like minded people in the world.

So, thank you everyone who follows this blog, likes my posts, or just reads one and silently moves on. All of which is hard to say given my general state of misanthropy.

Happy Monday.

Re: “Buts”

“You know my brother once told me, that nothing someone says before the word but really counts”

Benjen Stark, Game of Thrones (TV Series, 2011)

Let’s think about the ways I normally here the word “but” in a sentence:

You’re doing a great job, but…

I’d really like to help out, but…

I think he’s a great guy, but…

I’m not trying tell you how to live your life, but…

I don’t want to sound sexist, but…

I’m not homophobic, but…

This might seem racist, but…

It sounds like the above quote makes for a good rule of thumb.

There may be a few exceptions to the rule, but I can’t think of any. Can you?