Memoir

Synopsis: All too human
Subtitled: Philosophy and the Story of Life
Themes: death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness.

The story of a boy’s pursuit to reconcile existence and meaning in the 21st century. Born with a burning curiosity to garner experience and uncover truth, he embarks on a mission to shake free from the familiar foundations that vie for his mind and explore foreign and unknown worlds filled with new experience and adventure.

The novel is a fictional memoir about a boy who, through a series of major events in his life, faces life’s big questions. He goes from an aimless, strung out, homeless drug addict, to a high achieving, successful college student at one of the world’s top universities.

Over the course of the novel, he moves over a dozen times all over the country. In the process he struggles to establish a real identity for himself, always adapting to his new situation at the expense of any progress in character he made up until then. He faces the dynamics of love, depression, suicide and suicide pacts, obstinate drug experimentation, abuse, and addiction, dropping out of school, and homelessness. After hitting bottom time after time, he realizes he is sick and tired of being sick and tired. He comes to grips with himself and decides to use his past as an excuse to succeed, rather than an excuse to fail. Slowly he learns to master himself by cutting ties with the past, living for himself, and learning the value of deliberate personal development. In the end he conquers his past and all the flawed expectations he held for himself, earns a high school diploma, and gains acceptance into one of the world’s top universities.
The novel aims to capture the contemporary human condition of a modern day youth.

Introduction

Writing about yourself is always a narcissistic undertaking. I want to shy away from it simply to avoid exposing this narcissism. My motivation to write is simply to share a story, to connect you with your fellow man. I felt very much alone in this world growing up. There are many reasons that could explain it, but as I grew older I realized that just about everyone feels alone in this world, and everyone copes differently.

My life is not unusual. I have lived a good life by most standards. I am not sure if anyone’s life can be considered typical. I am not sure where to even start, so I will start with the earliest memories.

My earliest memories involve sun bleached fields. California 1986. My father was in the military. My mother had escaped her past life in jersey to wed him and move across the country to California where he was stationed. He was an Annapolis graduate. Hard worker, goal oriented, always wanting to rise above the way he saw himself.

So, there they were, in their early twenties, in love and making children. I remember watching home videos of my mother when I was a child. My father was off at sea for six months out of the year. Her children were her saving grace. She was alone, on a naval base, drawing her only source of comfort from the babies she produced. My two sisters were born a few years later. I was one of those children that never developed inhibitions. Throughout my life I was always wandering away from my family. They lost me wherever they went: county fairs, Wal-Mart, parks, and our neighborhood.

Life has always been an adventure. More than that, life has been a pursuit of meaning. Adventures seemed to be the best way of capturing the meaning, especially in my youth.
A stream of memories quenches my reminiscing as I think about my earliest adventures.

After California my parents moved to Fairfax, Virginia. My memories there include being held down by my parents and force fed a syringe full of cough medicine, watching squirrels bury little treasures in the earth, and learning how spaghetti-o’s are made. It was the queerest discovery at that age. I faintly remember gray skies and a small part with untrimmed lawns containing long soft grasses. There with my mother, I remember plucking the grasses from the earth. She let me in on a little secret. Speghetti-o’s are actually made from grass. She made a deal with me that she would make me these spaghetti-o’s if I collected these grasses. I was exuberant with delight. I remember scavenging the whole field for these little tufts of grass. I returned with a bushel under my arm and handed them over to my mother. She instructed that they needed to be cooked and they would be ready soon and to go outside. I ventured outside for additional playtime. On this day I remember pulling the plastic sheathing of my neighbors newspapers and attaching them to the handlebars of my bike. This way, when I accelerated, they inflated to awesome orange cylinders that flopped in the wind as I rode. Hearing her call from the balcony I ran up to the kitchen. It was just turning fall so there was a bite to the air. Sitting down at the kitchen table, I removed my neon windbreaker and, to my amazement, she had turned the green grass into spaghetti o’s.
Strangers are people.

1989.
Tall like trees. Bodies danced at the margins of my world, filling the jungle with movement and life.
My mother strolled ahead. I was two at the time. We were in Saint Luis Obisbo California. My father was in the middle of a six month naval cruise somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Operation Desert Storm was underway. Patty, my mothers best childhood friend, was visiting our new family from the east coast. They admired the Californian city scape as they wandered through the public promenade and caught up on life’s new details. My sister Jaclyn was strapped tightly to a toddler rook, hanging like a swollen sack from my mothers back. Her little arms protruded out to the sides and her tiny fingers grasped at the passing air. My mother latched onto my hand like a leash as she led the way through a thicket of legs and knees that shuffled along the sidewalk. I stared at my shoes. My laces lashed back and forth with every step. Gum smeared the sidewalk. I looked up: the world was tall.
Suddenly there was a pause. I watched their lips move in parley as their eyes surveyed the storefronts for a potential lunch spot. I jerked my hand away: I wanted freedom. I stared at my flopping laces and continued walking without thought to where I was going.
“Michael!” My mother called me; her voice was piqued with concern. “Get back here Michael. You need to stand near me. There are strangers here.”
I looked up and found her eyes peering at me. Bodies bustled about. Conversations echoed near and far. On nearby benches sat individuals, some propped and alert, others slumped and sluggish, all with a distant look in their eyes; their minds absorbed in contemplation.
“There are no strangers here. There are only people.”
I looked at her curiously, blinking. A smile warmed her face.
“You’re right Michael. There are no strangers. There are only people.”
We oft forget the blunders of our past. I long to recapture the wisdom I glean every day. Alas, like a sieve, it floats on, flowing through the mind as quickly as it came. Residue. It’s the residue that stays, calcifying at the corners of the conscience. The residue leaves one with wisdom.

Music plays. Jazz. A black woman smooths notes over the instrumentals. Laughter. Cackling. Piercing the air. It shakes. I want to smack the joy out of him. The camaraderie of friends. I can sympathize. I too enjoy these measures.

Chapter III: Middle School, Seventh Grade

Autumn always brings about feelings that fall quickly.
Story.
I am in seventh grade. This is where it begins. I recount the days leading up to that semester. I can barely recall the monotonous, routine days before it got bad. Bad is broken, disorderly: confused. There is a point in a child’s life where they spend their days consumed in the moment. The past is simply a bank of memories to draw some joy. They haven’t been afraid of the past. They haven’t been broken. Some people manage to escape these memories altogether. Call it luck. Call it naivety.
That summer I spent my days at the local pool. I had become an accomplished swimmer during the past three years.

Until now my grades have been alright. The occasional hiccup in the bible class, or the daily devotional book, but nothing substantial. Overall my parentals are proud. Their son has become an accomplished swimmer the past few years. Sports dominate the limited social life he has outside of Sunday school. I suppose this is normal for a twelve year old.
That year was particularly hellish. My first year of school, in the first grade is Marshalltown Iowa, my teachers recommended to my mother that she medicate her son. They recounted my desultory behaviors. Normal, in hindsight, for a child filled with curiosity and adventure. It was the boundless that fascinated me, and as long as I took courage to venture, the fascination remained boundless. I couldn’t understand the rules. The rules were beyond me. The fear was outside my concern. Whether it was color, or complexity, or chaos, or new: there was nothing escaping my attention. My mother received that phone call. I remember how she would sit me down and ask about my days. I remember the air of trouble when there was something specific to talk about. I would suck on my purple juice box, blowing it up and letting the pressure shoot juice effortlessly into my mouth. Ritalin. That’s what they called it. A Psycho stimulant. It was all the rage. Now first graders coupld be placated to obey with a simple pill.

Seventh grade. I lived in south jersey, home of the sweetest and largest tomato’s anyone could buy. Home to white protestants and racism. We lived in a small town. Before New Jersey we had moved from California, to Virginia and Iowa, and multiple times within each state. I was accustomed to the transition. My life was a snow globe. Everything around me turned violently, with only an occasional flickering of movement within my world. Adaptation became second nature; but only over time.

I hated myself. My parents were rotten hard on me. They insisted, and I believe, it was out of love. Of course hindsight would provide that it was out of fear more than anything. The fear of God, more exactly. They had a brilliant fear of anything that wasn’t biblical. They knew how to ostracize people, familiar members, their own children. This is a bit harsh, but a reality I experienced to a lesser degree.

A large portion of my childhood was spent in the church, or participating in church activities. My parents saturated our house with religiosity: Sunday school, weekly bible studies, youth group, prayers at every meal, prayers at every disagreement (almost).

My seventh grade was a hellish year. Hellish I tell you. I was stifled. Stifled as a person. I lived in Pitman, NJ, about an hour from Cumberland Christian school where I spent two years in their elementary program and two years at their middle school. My parents decided to send me away because they thought public schooling was exposing me to the wrong type of children: secular children. I would constantly find myself in trouble at school. Whether I was calling out, poking at students, drawing gruesome or grotesque images of mutilated corpses, contraptions for killing, or pornography. I was the child that told you about sex in the first grade. I was the one who gathered the group around to investigate the ‘sex’ word in the ex cyclopedia. I introduced foul language to their virigin ears. And, almost predictably, I would get caught every time. Looking back, I think I had some obsession with gaining attention. I loved being the center of attention. I loved pushing the boundaries and testing the limits. Teachers couldn’t keep a lid on me. I was corrupting the class room. They would find me drawing swastikas all over my skin, on my arms, my knee caps. Because my parents censored our household and the material that entered within its walls, they had no reason to believe that I learned or was being influenced my anyone other than my school peers. We didn’t even have TV. I spent most of my days outside, climbing trees, making spears and bows out of branches, and shooting wildlife with my sling shot.

With regularity, I would bring a manila envelope home to my mother and watch as she opened and read it in front of me. She would pull out my daily drawings, or read through a list of describing the day’s infractions. She would scold me, or have a thoughtful, pleading conversation with me, asking me why I did such things, and tell me that they were not ever to be done again.

I had few friends at that point. I took art lessons after school, played sports according to the season, soccer, baseball, swimming, and participated in church activities.

My father was a military man straight from Annapolis. His mother in law led him to the lord when my parents were dating. From that point forward he claimed a fervent religious belief in God. I can’t say it didn’t help him, god knows what compelled him to adopt that faith, but it certainly didn’t help me. The ‘fear of god’, as they call it, was omnipresent in our homes.

My father hated being embarrassed. As a rambunctious and energetic child, I was anything but behaved. Throughout my childhood I remember his attempts to quell that wild spirit within me by squashing it with a reality check of his own. He would grab my trap muscle and squeeze it as hard as possible, putting me in agonizing pain, and murmur under his breath that I was an embarrassment, and to behave immediately. Most of the time it was innocent juvenile stuff. What hurt most wasn’t the physical pain, or the beatings I frequently received, but the emotional pain. It was like my close confidant was violating our unspoken bond and stabbing me in the back. Contrary to what he insisted, it certainly wasn’t out of love, nor was it a controlled anger. It was outright anger, and the only people that saw it was the family. He would beat us so hard. My mother would beat us too. It was God’s will. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ they said.

My father would embarrass me intentionally, just to keep me humble and grounded. Being a self conscious boy, I was particularly sensitive to my appearance. My early child hood was brutal, always being the new boy with bleach blonde hair. I stood out, and strangers were rarely welcomed in these new towns. Kids are hard enough to deal with. My father use to poke fun of me and my hair, probably innocently enough. I would spend a long while in front of the mirror, perfecting the perfect ‘wave’ that allowed the hair at the front of my forehead to stand up.

At soccer practices he would shout that I wasn’t working hard enough, or that I was a loafer. He would tell the coach to pull me out immediately because I wasn’t working hard enough. In my middle school years I tried out for the local wrestling club team. Considering I went to private school many miles away, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet new kids. I was particularly excited this winter. It was a new sport, something fresh that I could have a try at. I bought a new pair of wrestling shoes at the local sporting shop (JR sporting goods I recall). I had tried out, weigh in, and been practicing a week before my father stopped by to see me. I could feel him in the corner of the gym, through the heat and pain and mist, his eyes penetrating straight through me. It was half way through the practice. We were taking a break between drills, and I feel a body approach behind me and the words fell on my ears: “You are an embarrassment. We’re leaving now. Get your stuff and go.” And with that he walked out the door. I grabbed my stuff and followed him, confused and crushed. I walked outside with my head low, staring at the ground, yet doing my best to maintain a cool composure. We drove home, mostly in silence. “No son of mine is gonna slack off. You were the only one slacking off, not hustling. It was embarrassing. If you are gonna wrestle, then you are gonna wrestle right” Sentiments that traced closely along these lines. I suppose I know his intentions were best, but at that age, I didn’t feel any love, any compassion. His anger and insecurities were projecting onto me, and it was disorienting. Pent up rage, frustration, disappointment.

My parents had medicated me at the teachers recommendation and the doctors discretion. Methylphenidate. Ritalin. First grade. Medication was all the rage in the early nineties. In Marshall Town Iowa, I remember the day my mother had a parent teacher conference with Mrs. Whateeverhernamewas. I went to the doctor, he ran a battery of tests on me, and for the next decade or so I was routinely medicated. Every morning before school I was handed a little yellow pill, and every day after lunch I walked to the nurses office where she would hand be a small paper solo cup and that little yellow pill.

For whatever reason, maybe it’s a congenital rebellion gene, but I never did like taking that Ritalin. There was always a crew that visited the nurses office. I would get in the habit of sticking the pill under my tougue and spit it out, or pocket it. On those days I felt particularly ready for fun. I knew, even then, that taking that medication was somehow dampening my enthusiasm. I would deliberately not take it, and plan, almost mischievously, for a class clown day. I knew that I would not be sedated, and that my rambunctious energy would spew forth in all sorts of creative mannerisms. I knew, even then, that the Ritalin somehow managed to dampen my spirits. It slowly would fester into an anxiety that would eat me alive.

I walked through the halls, dragging my pencil along the wall. A trail of graphite followed, extending down its length. My hand clenched the hall pass. I don’t want to return to class. Class is boring. It numbs me. My thoughts drifted elsewhere. I’m a renaissance man. An inventor. A creator. Bible class. What a joke.

I walk back to the fountain and sip. I return to the class room.
Sirens blare. Startled, I turn from the corner of the room, away from the conversation, and head for the blackness. My heart rate heightens and I look for cover, pumping my legs, trying to escape the impending noise. The gravity tightens its hold and my legs grow heavy. I am anxious to run, but my steps are slow and weighted. I keep my eyes ahead and penetrate the darkness, looking for some safeguard. My thoughts are in a flurry. I am waiting to arrive; but there is no light. My pace slows and I pan my head side to side. Blackness. Why? Frightened, I look to retreat. The room is located behind me. My eyes stop at a celestial glow. It’s in the distance, a dim corner, floating in space, shining, like a world of its own. The human figures remain unmoved, still conversing. The echoless siren continues screaming. I want to yell, tell them to flee, but my voice is muffled. In a panic, I race towards them, wave my arms, try to get their attention. The glow remains fixed. I am not approaching. Blackness. It floats farther away. I want to grab it, hold it, save them, save myself. I am lost. I am alone. Anxiety takes hold. I begin to tremble. I close my eyes, but the darkness remains. I fall forward; I continue to fall, waiting for the crash, but it never comes. Sqeezing myself together, I curl into a ball to give myself some sense of groundedness. I try to imagine light; anything but the darkness. A crepuscular veneer begins to spill onto the edges of my world, slowly saturating my imaginings.
My senses titillate and my ears regain their awareness. I am warm. I am alive. A crust breaks free as I peel my eyes open. I fixate on the bunk bed above me. My heart beats vigorously. I was dreaming. My head turns to the clock. A nauseating cacophony spews from its electronics. I hate it. 7:27. My eyes swell shut.
A body approaches from the corner of the room “I already gave you too many chances Michael.” A splash of cold liquid rivets me in the face: my body instantly stiffens, my breath vacuums in a long inhale, my eyes shoot open in alarm.
“You need to get out of bed right now!”
My covers are ripped from my body, and I lay in my bed cold, wet, and exposed.
“What the heck are you doing! I’m awake already! What’s your problem!” I fire back in agitation.
“I don’t care if you’re awake already, you need to get your butt outta bed! It’s 7:28 and the Buscotti’s will be here any minute!” She leaves the room. I feel the folds of my face gather in disdain as I sit up. Ugh.
A shirt rests on the ground and I reach to dry my face. A white light fills the room. A dryer hums. Mother passes in the hall. I walk to the closet and find my blue slacks situated in the middle of the closet, stiffly propped up from their removal the night before. I’m so clever. I place my feet in each pant leg, slide them up effortlessly to my waist, and secure my belt. It’s braided. I loop it over itself and it hangs down a few inches below my waist.
A glass prism catches my eye. I pick it up and focus the lights rays on the glass with a gentle rotation. A rainbow a rainbow of color projects on the white wall. My eyes searched for the convergence of colors. Where does one color end and the other begin? There is just endless color in between. Bored, I retreat back into the closet and thumb through my choice of polos. I wore white yesterday. Maroon? Hm… I grab a forest green polo. Sliping it over my head, I head downstairs.
I can hear my sisters eating their cereal and mumbling to each other. The cblink of their metal spoons and porcelain echos in the kitchen. The cupboard contains cheerios, wheaties, life and kix. Kix. My parents never allow any sweets in the house. That is, until dad’s gone for business. Then we cash in: Lucky Charms. Even then my mom ends up picking out all the marshmallows. That makes me mad.

Joe’s death.

I remember that week. It’s memory has grown faint, and I’m not sure if my recollection is anything more than a sick delusion, a viral infection that I believe to be true. I was severely depressed. I had been suspended a number of times for menial infractions relating to untucked shirts, not wearing a belt with my school uniform, talking or calling out in class, or wandering the halls without a hall pass. There was nothing vindictive in my personality, nothing aggressive in my intentions. I was a pure animal. An innocent animal. An animal that desired to cope with life’s demands, its changing expectations.
I had been suspended numerous times the past year. Minor offensives like racking up too many detentions, tossing acorns at girls in boyish flirtation, or using words relating to genitals, sex, and other foul language.
The school I attended was a Christian private school, grades kindergarten through twelfth. I arrived in fourth grade and my sisters arrived a year later. My parents thought that I was being influenced in all the wrong ways by my peers. Not only did my drawings and conversations disturb the teachers and parents, but my impulsive behavior and flighty feelings always got me into fights. I was a passionate, sensitive child.
In the third grade a new girl appeared in our classroom. Like anything new, the freshness was attractive and all the boys vied for her attention. Louise Wielder was her name. Tall, brunette with short hair and a boyish figure. She was nothing of a spectacle.
Now, when I like a girl, something inside me changes. A change that I have learned to fear. The change is the emergence of vulnerability. At first, this vulnerability is welcomed and comforting. It turns the heart inside out and exposes the sweet aroma of love. It is an innocent transformation, a helpless transformation. Courting customs and social routines ceases to concern me. All I wanted to do was show the girl this vulnerability. When girls saw this within me, however, they rejected it, and it hurt, but I couldn’t figure out why. It was a bewildering hurt. My selfless attempt to show my feelings for them seemed to overwhelm them, or nauseate them. They seemed to be repulsed at the charitable gesture; or, feeling entitled to adulation, they exercised an assuming power to crush it. Whatever the case, this causes a callousness to take hold and I quickly learned to deny these feelings, or exhibit the actions they produced without the accompanying feeling. This left me intact when the tryst came to an end.
In the third grade, on a bus to the Philadelphia Zoo, I remember the playful flirtation that ensued as notes were passed back and forth, and truth or dares were whispered across benches. I had confessed, quite openly, my liking to Louise. I remember her response: “You’re hair is too white, like an old man, and you’re lips are too big.” These are juvenile jestings, of course, but at the time they bewildered and hurt me, causing me to, for the first time, consider myself as a flawed creature. I had never heard such criticisms and considered them with such weight before.
In the next few weeks, word got round the classroom that Louise and Todd Brattstrom liked each other. This infuriated me. How unjust. I liked her first. When recess approached, I consulted my companion Brian Albers, who also had feelings for Louise, about fighting Todd. The bell rang and crowds of children flooded the tarmac and saturated the soccer fields. Brian and I sprung into action, side by side, and ran across the playground and surveyed the horizon for Todd. He was on the field, playing soccer with a group of our friends. A bevy of girls lurked on the sidelines like adorning fans. We honed in, like missiles awaiting unprovoked detonation, and attacked Todd with fury. It was a frenzy of confusion: friends hitting friends, girls screaming, pulling and pleading. I forget how it stopped but I remember finding myself in the principles office. It was a dark day. Having to explain why I did this was a conundrum in itself. I was impulsive, how could I know? With teachers and parents present, I apologized to Todd. He accepted with disdain. My parents reprimanded me with the force of guilt. Todd was my best friend. How could you fight him Michael? I was so convicted I felt it necessary to make it up to him in any way possible. He happened to love the military mystique as much as I did, and I had the pleasure of owning an Army field manual filled with battlefield innovations for manufacturing necessities such as weapons and traps and it contained a glossary that identified edible and poisonous species of wild plants. I brought the book in the next day, said another apology, and gave him the book as an offering, explaining that I wanted him to borrow it and check it out. I also offered him several of my most prized pencils. They were multicolored with nontraditional erasers shaped in exotic geometry.
So my parents had the last straw. They decided that the next year I needed a Christian environment. Hence, I began my journey under the fascist authority of private schooling.

It was the beginning of my seventh grade year that my parents abruptly decided pull me off Ritalin. This was the result of recent talk of Ritalin’s potential long term negative impacts on growth and liver function. I had been on it since the first grade as one of the firsts in a massive movement of stimulant over prescription. The ADD revolution had begun, and my parents, even in all their wisdom to be in the world but not of the world like their bible commanded them, had been coaxed to be one of the first of many to medicate their child. No one knew for certain the affects of Ritalin, and they never felt comfortable with the idea of keeping me medicated. They just wanted the best for me and therefore heeded the doctors advice. So they pulled me off in seventh grade. Until then, school had been relatively easy. I achieved A’s the majority of my life with relative ease. Ritalin had been a part of my life for as long as I could recall and it had offered me an invisible crutch, allowing me to excel without second thought. That seventh grade year proved to me the most debilitating year to date.
Upon my parents pulling me off Ritalin, my grades immediately began to suffer and my behavior grew every more desultory. Warnings, or awareness slips as they were called, were issued with regularity. Multiple times a week I would return home with a slip describing a violation I had committed against the student handbook. This caused a pressing awareness of my misbehavior in my parents. My violations were the result of my naïve lack of self control and impulsive behavior: coming to school with no belt, talking in class, calling out, saying inappropriate things. Every four awareness slips would lead to a detention. As you can imagine, these mounted quickly, and soon I found myself at a detention every week.
Detentions were the last thing I every wanted for a few reasons. Number one, they occurred every Tuesday after school from 3:o0pm to 4:30pm. During this time, you were forced to write two hundred and one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. There was no talking, and it was typically monitored by the most intolerant teachers. The very worst part of the ordeal was staying after school for an hour and a half. Because I lived in Pitman and Cumberland Christian School was located in Vineland about an hour away, my parents had worked out a carpool situation with a local family that happened to be family friends whose children also attended CCS. We worked it out so that we would rotate driving duties of picking up and dropping off. When I had to go to detention, my parents were forced to drive an hour out of their way to pick me up. This was the last thing they wanted to do, and as I result, I was met with their frustration and disappointment. My father would lecture and rebuke me, telling me that I was destined to be a delinquent failure flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s. “Why are you getting detentions? How do you get detentions? You’re misbehaving! You’re a bad person!” Of course I didn’t mean any of my offenses. All too often I wrote essays on the virtues of self control and had to reference twenty scriptures that I would submit to the principle. This began my road of self-dissatisfaction. Trouble. That’s all I was.
I received my first D that fall semester. Even though it was in bible, it was a heavy burden. My C in Mathematics reinforced the self loathing. At home my social life was limited to after school art lessons as well as soccer and other sports where I was an outsider with no immediate ties to the local social community. My only friends were in Vineland or the surrounding area. Because I had slowly gained the reputation as a trouble maker, even my friend’s parents didn’t support our fellowship.
My parents methods of parenting reflected the biblical methods: authoritative, harsh, absolute. Tough love is what they called it. It was brutal, and their opinions were piercing. I had begun harboring a pain inside. It burned inside me. A disappointment that rejected all that I was. Worthless. I began feeling like the trouble I was: a burden. I was disgusted with this burden I imposed on people. I didn’t want to be a burden. I only wanted good, but no matter what I did or said, it seemed that I could never make it good. I was only problematic. Even if I tried to do good, soon enough I would fail or disappoint someone.
I had no where to get this anger and disappointment out. No one to share it with. My only refuge was a group of friends at school. We were the lost boys: Steven Myers, Michael Wise, and Joe Wojciechowski.
At CCS, classes were divided in the A section and the B section, with roughly twenty five kids in each class. We had little interaction except for Bible study time and recess. In the fourth grade I was in the A section with Steven and Mike Wise. We had Mr. Gillespie, an older man who was fiercely Christian. He governed the classroom with a dry steely rule. His pocked joules dropped beneath a pair of spectacles that were thirty years out of style. He was in his late fifties at the time, yet he still maintained a set of long wiry side burns whitened with age. His ashy hair was slicked back with the same uniformed strokes every day.
Scott Myers was my good buddy. He was a thinker, albeit not a terribly sharp thinker. More of a dreamer. He was into computers, a mutual interest we shared, and he’d always inform me of the latest developments on games, and explain developments in that new network called the internet. Hacking was a relatively new concept for us, and it seemed to keep us endlessly fascinated. Steve would always come to school with new ideas about hacking. He’d bring me floppy disks that contained cool games and hacking programs and key loggers.
Michael Wise came from a broken family. His mother and father met in the army and him and his sister Michelle who was a few years older. At that time his dad was in the reserves working as a prison guard. He would always come to school with military manuals for military strategy or making homemade bombs. On more than one occasion we got into trouble for these things.
In the fifth grade Joe Wojciechowski joined our class from the B section with Mrs. Hannan. We hit it off immediately. He had two older brothers that allowed him the advantage of always being up to date with the coolest trends. I got into BMX, Joe was into BMX. Our music tastes, reflecting the antidisestablishmentarianistic attitudes we held for society, were even similar. He listened to rage against the machine while I listened to Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. Music of this nature was highly frowned upon at CCS. My parents went out of their way to take me to the bible book store to buy me Christian hard rock and other alterntive music as a substitute. Although I was brainwashed to believe that it was the devils music, I had a tough time convincing myself. It’s power to sway my emotions, to resonate and ameliorate the loneliless I felt in side was undeniable. Kurt Cobain was my idol, and I felt like I shared all the angst he carried.
Joe wore baggy pants that sagged beneath his hips, and a chained wallet that swung alongside his legs. We shared the same taste in style, both wearing sweet skateboarding shoes like Airwalks. I remember when Soap shoes became I the rage, I made it a point to get a pair for my birthday. Joe also got a pair; an even better pair. I admired his knowledge, and envied him for having two older brothers.
In the sixth grade Joe switched to the B section again, and I moved on to Mrs. Berry’s classroom. The class was a riot. A caring mother of two girls and a son, she was understanding and worked to discipline in a wonderfully maternal way. I was always a bundle of restless energy, and I never ceased to test the patience of my teachers. I prided myself on classroom innovations like pens that hid notes on their inside, and unassuming pens that doubled as spit ball devices.
On one occasion I was feeling particularly bored. Class was melting my brain, and I decided to go with it. I contorted my face, and rolled my eyes, much like that of going into some sort of seizure state. I would let the saliva inch its way out of my mouth and begin breathing heavy, letting the occasional groan slip out. I didn’t give the slightest thought about what other people thought. Mr. Berry would notice this behavior and call out my name.
“Michael” she’d say as if talking to an empty room.
I would snap to attention, collecting myself as if nothing happened, and look her in the eye with curiosity.
“Are you okay?” she would say.
As if clueless why she’d as such a question, I would casually reply with a “Yea” that almost implied an “Um… yea? Why would you ask?”
This game of mine went on for several weeks. I don’t know why, but at that age making fun of, or imitating, retarded people seemed to be a fun past time of mine and others my age. I’d perfect the retardation state and pull it out in public for strangers. I’d monitor their shocking reactions from my crossed eyes. The greater their reaction, the more pleasure it gave me.
After awhile I began to notice that the behaviors that’d typically leave me in troule or reprimanded were being excused or going unnoticed. Mrs. Berry had a weekly five strike policy that she’d keep on her board. Class disruptions or other offenses would earn you a strike at her discretion. Five strikes would result in the loss of recess priviledges which meant sitting with Mrs. Berry as she attended to ger Recess Monitoring duties. On multiple occasions I remember doing something that I knew would get me in trouble just seconds after it happened, only to see Mrs. Berry totally excuse the incident. Even the other kids noticed it. They’d often speak up like “How come Michael isn’t getting a strike!” or “Why does Michael never get in trouble!” She’d reply with “Don’t you worry about Michael. Let me worry about him. Just worry about yourself.” This confused me, and I’d often smile mischieviously for somehow getting out of it, although I never knew why.
One day, about a month into these antics, Mrs. Berry pulled me into the hall. Usually these talks were warranted, but this time it seemed totally unprovoked. I thought I was in trouble.Cofused and nervous, my thoughts began racing to think of anything I thought I got away with that she may have gotten wind of. She looked at me with a caring look in her eyes and started the conversation with concerning questions.
“How’re you doing Michael?”
I was totally confused, and wondering when she’d get to the point.
“I’m fine.”
“How are things going for you?”
“Good I guess.” There was a pause.
“How’s everything going at home?”
“Good. Same old.”
“How have you been feeling lately?”
I was a little taken aback by this question. I had no idea where she was going at this point.
“I mean, I’ve been feeling fine I guess. Why?”
“Well, I’ve been concerned with you lately.” She was trying to approach this with as much delicacy and thoughtfulness as possible. “Have you noticed any changes in your behavior recently?”
“No…” My mind was searching for some sort of lead.
“Well, I’ve talked to the nurse and contacted your parents. I’ve been noticing that you’ve been behaving strangely in class lately. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
“Um… no. I have no idea.” I was lost. What was she talking about?
“When I’m teaching I notice that you’ll daze off and go into another world, and you’re eyes will roll back, and I’ll say you’re name a few times before you respond. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
“Yea,” I responded. Slowly I began to grasp the situation. “I do that on purpose.”
“What?” Her jaw almost dropped, half in relief, half from dumbfoundedness. “You mean you’re aware that you’re doing that?”
“Yea.”
“This whole time you’ve been doing that on purpose? There’s nothing wrong with you?”
“Yea.”
“When you roll your eyes back, and curl over, and groan… you mean to tell me you mean to do that? You’re not really sick?”
“Yea.”
“Why on earth would you do that?”
“I dunno. I’m bored. I don’t really know why I do it. I guess it’s fun and I just zone out.”
“Oh my gosh Michael. You scared the heavens out of me!” Her voice was relieved and a touch agitated. “You had me worried! I thought you were having seizures! I talked to the nurse and had the principle get a hold of your parents! We thought there was something wrong with you!”
I laughed to myself.
“Hah… yea. That’s totally a joke. Sometimes I act retarded for fun. I didn’t mean for you to take me seriously.”
“Why would you do that? Do you think it’s okay to make fun of retared people?”
“Um… I dunno. Probably not. I don’t really think about it.”

She was thoroughly shocked, and incredibly relieved. Needless to say I lost my get out of jail free card, and it wasn’t before long that my strikes resumed.

In seventh grade the class structure switched from one teacher and one class room to something more like a junior high where you had lockers and switched teachers for each subject. Along with Steve Myers and Michael Wise, Joe just so happened to be in my homeroom, my bible class, and my pre-algebra class. We quickly rekindled our friendship and bonded over many of the same struggles. Being the youngest, Joe went out of his way for attention. Whereas I got unintentional attention from mindless impulses, Joe prided himself on making a spectacle of silly behaviors, regularly making jokes and laughing at himself. As a result of our attention garnering personalities, we ended up receiving a substantial number of awareness slips and detentions. They typically involved both of us so our parents we’re less than thrilled about our friendship.
On the whole we were fairly happy kids. We laughed telling jokes and poking fun and making each other laugh. Our struggles were internal where no one could see. Joe was the youngest and on the most part less of the focus than his brothers. Our parents were equally critical and demanding. Whenever we got in trouble we would commiserate about our pain and feelings.

At the end of the fall semester the emotional pain and self disappointment were at an all time high. My relationship with the parents was tense and under immense strain. My grades were suffering and I knew it. Soccer had come to an end. My social life had dwindled to the limited exposure I had with friends at school. My parents and I would get into disagreements about, what seemed to me to be, the smallest things. I would run up to my room and punch the wall, never considering the pain of crushing and bruising my knuckles. I wanted to punch through the wall. I wanted to punch through anyone.
My father beat me well into the seventh grade. He would wrestle and poke fun at me, never considering my feelings or recognizing the internal turmoil beneath the surface.
His life was composed of working from eight in the morning to eight at night. He expected my mother to have dinner at the table for him, and all his children present and ready for conversation. He’d ask us about our day, as if he were genuinely interested, and if we didn’t provide a sufficient answer, or elaborate, he was punish us for our bad attitude and ungratefulness. Smacks in the face were routine reactions for mouthing off. Dinner could be interrupted at any moment if something or someone said something that didn’t sit right with my parents.
They tried to love us, they really did. They just did it in all the wrong ways.

Soon my emotional pain became unbearable. I could only punch the wall so many times before I punched through it. It wasn’t enough. I’m not sure how, or why, but there comes a point when your emotional pain becomes so great, that you would do and try anything to escape it. No one has to introduce someone to self mutilation. It is a natural, almost biological response, to internal torture. The thing is, the torture is purely emotional. It is an incongruency between your expectations and beliefs, and the world. You can’t escape your thoughts, and your thoughts construct your perception of the world.
I suppose the pain was so great one day that I realized physical pain didn’t have much of an affect on me. We would give each other Indian burns where we would twist the skin on the arm in opposite directions, as if we were trying to tear it apart, until we cried uncle. I remember realizing that I could inflict pain on myself, even when I wasn’t upset in the moment, and it just wouldn’t hurt.
I remember I had a wart on my foot that was incredibly painful. I protruded quite a bit and constantly rubbed inside my shoes. I wanted to remove this parasitic cancer, so I got pins and razors and began hacking through it, chopping and cutting, mutilating it until it bled uncontrollably. While it hurt, the pain paled in contrast to the emotional pain that I had been feeling.
And so I began cutting. First I did it in front of people, just to show how tough I was. I soon realized that people didn’t think it looked tough, it just made you look crazy. The adults weren’t exactly impressed either, on the contrary, they thought I had something wrong with me.
When I would fight with my parents, or feel the pain of rejection from girls or friends, or just academic failure, I would bury my face in the pillows and cry and cry. To myself. I didn’t want the world to pity me. My father rang that out of me at an early age. Don’t be egotistical. No one wants to hear your problems. They don’t want to share your problems. Don’t make problems where there are non. Don’t be a nuisance. So I would cry to myself. I didn’t want people knowing my disappointment, and certainly pain is weakness, and that was the last thing I was suppose to be: weak. Crying only did so much. It was exhausting, but it didn’t provide an instant relief. For that I found cutting. I would find razors, Exacto knifes, or even razors removed from Bic razors. Bics were the best, the sharpest. They were paper thin, and sliced through the flesh, exposing the insides, the blood, the hurt, immediately. The more immediate the blood ran, the more immediate it dripped from my flesh, the sooner I could experience relief.
When I began thinking about how worthless I was I would close my door and pull out my hidden razor collection.
Every kid has a secret hiding spot, especially you live in a home where nothing is yours. In our family, we had nothing. It was all our parents, and we were fortunate that they were gracious enough to give us anything. Our food, our clothes, our toys: They were all being lent to us and could be retracted at any moment. And they were. Nothing was safe, nothing was ours. There was no mutual respect, only a one dimensional relationship between children and parents. Maybe it stemmed from a lack of trust, although I’m not sure how that works being a child and having no grasp on such relational constructs, but we were always on the edge of losing it all. When our room was not ours, when you didn’t have the option to close your, let alone lock it, for privacy, something happens. It creates a hostile environment.
So I had multiple hiding spots. In my dresser, under the last drawer on the bottom, there was a space between the drawer and the bottom of the dresser. When you pulled the drawer out it provided a nice hiding place for razors, notes, money, journals, trinkets, or anything that was invaluable.
When my parents eventually found this spot, rendering my private space one again nonexistent, I began to look for a new hiding spot. It was during my eigth grade that I began its painstaking construction. In the corner of my walk in closet, behind the rows of handing shirts, I learned that you could pull up the corner of the rug. Beneath it lie floor boards. I got the ingenious idea to saw a square through the floorboards. It took weeks, maybe months, of work. I used the back end of the hammer used to take our nails. To ensure its ultimate secrecy, I worked only when I knew I was alone in the house. They I would bang and smash through. It was tedious work, but once I broke through and made a hole large enough to fit my hand it, I found it provided an ample space. It was about eight inches deep, and about a foot wide. The bottom was the top of the downstairs ceiling, and the sides were two cross beams. I could store as much as the length of my arm. Beyond that it would be out of reach, lost in the ceiling.
When I fought with my parents I would go to these hiding spots and retrieve my razors and blood rags for dabbing the body fluids that would stream from my wounds. For a while I would carve directly into my forearms. Usually just deep long cuts. I would press the blade against the flesh as hard as I could, and then tug downwards and wait for the searing pain. I knew when it began slicing through the flesh. It sent an electric shock coursing through my body and a rush of hormones: relief. I would press and pull until the pain took the breath out of me and my mind was flooded with nothing but white. The pain expunged the thoughts, the hurt, the swirling pain that churned inside me. It erashed it.
I got creative with self mutilation, often carving words into my arms like “FUCK” or “HATE” or “DIE”. I learned quickly that these coping mechanisms, or implicit cries for relief, did me more harm then good. I learned to use bandaids to cover up the impulsive cuts in exposed areas, but soon I got smart and starting cutting on less conspicuous areas. It moved from my wrists and forearms, up to my upper arms and shoulders, and finally I figured that the insides of my legs were the best and surest way of getting away with it.
There was something to the cutting, however, that I wanted the world to see. I felt proud to cut myself, to bear that pain, almost like a hero. I can bear it, and I can survive throught the hurt. Don’t you see, I am resilient, tough, and I will not succumb. The cuts, the scabs, they were almost a gesture of defiance. I wanted people to see them and be aware. I wanted people to think twice about what was going on in my head, to take time and consider the darkness, the craziness inside me. I wanted them to fear it. I wanted them to pity it.
I introduced cutting to Joe. It was such a cool little thing. Only he was crazy, or hurting enough, to really enjoy it as I did. Steve Myers, my other best friend at the time, was also introduced. His pain was much less cogitized than mine. Joe’s was a wild, thoughtless hurt. Steve was a thoughtless hurt, much less internalized.
Joe and I would show each other our new cuts. I remember making an agreement to carve our names into our upper arm. Joe carved “Joe”, and I carved “MIKE”. It was like we were meeting each other half way. It was like saying, ‘You think you’re hurting? You think you’re in pain? Watch how much pain I’m in.’ It was just this commiseration that perpetuated our depression and hurt into a downward spiral. I wanted to feel the pain. It was almost my identity. I knew myself as worthless, as a disappointment, as a trouble maker. Joe was in the same boat, regularly getting the awareness slips and detentions and suspensions like I did.

I finished that semester with my first D in school, in bible class, as well as a C in pre-algebra. My parents were incredibly disappointed and I felt it. I was just relieved to escape alive. Towards the end of the semester I thought that my classes were irreparable. It was sheer desperation to finish it. I was elated.

Towards the end of the fall semester I began to consider the thought of death. The thought had never been seriously contemplated or thought about. No one that I had known had died. The consequences were far off and out of reach. To me, the thought of death became an attractive escape. Hurting yourself enough so that you could rid pain forever. Cut yourself deep enough, asphyxiate yourself long enough, and peace will finally be realize. This became a romantic dream that I brought up with Joe. I remember bringing it up with him in class, and talking about it in the locker room after PE. I remember his reaction.
“Have you ever thought about suicide?”
“I guess, but not really.”
“There is no way to escape getting in trouble. Life just keeps getting harder. Imagine what its gonna be like in a few years. You realize theres no escaping it. Imagine it all going away. Imagine just skipping it all, all the crap, and going straight to heaven. Once you’re dead, it doesn’t even matter.”

It went something along those lines. I remember telling him and watching the light go off in his head: ‘he was onto something’.

As predicted, things kept getting harder. Both of us continued to struggle at home and at school. It wasn’t easing up, it was mounting. We continued commiserating. I would obsess about death. It was all I could think about, all day and all night. I would go online and look up suicide on search engines. I’d look up the best way to kill yourself, news articles of people killing themselves, and poems about suicide and death and pain.

Joe and I use to fantasize about the various ways we could make it end. “A bullet to the brain to end the pain” . Joe and I would exchange song lyrics that captured these themes, lyrics from the Smashing Pumpkins and Kurt Cobain. They had it right. Cut yourself, kill yourself.

I read online one day that a pair of teenagers from Wyoming made a suicide pact and blew their heads off with shotgun. This left me mesmerized. A suicide pact? I read on and discovered the problems they faced. They were two best friends. Their girl friends rejected them and got a new boy friend. It retaliation, they killed the new boyfriend and then proceeded to commit suicide with a shotgun. They were two boys who didn’t have very many friends, only each other. They decided to end it all and, with the help of a friend, shoot each other. While I didn’t have any intention of killing anyone (or maybe I did?) the idea of a suicide pact incited my imagination. I related to these boys, and so did Joe. I didn’t have very many friends. The girl of my dreams at the time, Becky Marcarelli, had rejected me. I gave up on her. I was into Nicole Hudnall, a girl I liked just to like. Someone to make me feel accepted and worthy.
Joe had a girlfriend named Joelle Yeager. When it wasn’t school or parents, I remember his moods would fluctuate almost predictably depending on how their relationship was. She would play games and manipulate him, and he’s be devastated.
We were young, and in hindsight, had no idea of what we were doing. You couldn’t tell me my feelings weren’t real or legitimate. I got that enough. I knew they were. And I hated them, even as a seventh grader. If people didn’t want to hear or see my feelings, that was fine. I just decided that I wouldn’t show them.
I told Joe about the suicide pact. The more we talked, the more we romanticized the heavenly escape, the realer it became. We made a plan about meeting up. Steal our parents car. Meet up half way. They hang ourselves. We had serious dilemmas about meeting up. We decided that in the event we decided to go through with it, we would do it the same night in the solace of our rooms. We would test various methods for hanging ourselves. Off the fan? Too unstable. Rope? No. We decided on a door nob, and a belt. We would experiment at home, long after everyone went to bed. We would take our belts and loop it to form a noose, and tie it to the door knob. We would seat beneath the knob and slip our head through the noose, then let ourselves down slowly, until we slipped into unconsciousness and passed out. When this happened, we reasoned that we would go limp, and our kneck would snap. It would be finished. I would try it at home on my closet door at night. I would ease myself down and feel the circulation began to cease as the blood pooled in my neck. I would let myself grow dizzy, just enough so that my vision would begin to blur, then I would lift myself back up and regain awareness. Joe and I would play on this line and report our experiences, often joking about almost passing out and potentially dying. We didn’t want that, however. We wanted to save the death for the suicide pact.
The spring semester was brutalizing for both of us. We were in non stop trouble. I had approached my third suspension and was told the next suspension would lead to my expulsion. An expulsion meant the ultimate end of my life. My father made this very clear. McDonalds, flipping hamburgers, being a loser. Being a bum. A ruined kid. If I was expelled, my life was over, and I would most definitely kill myself.
Joe and I desperately wanted to leave that school. It felt like Auschitz. The teachers were Nazi’s who followed biblical propaganda form the third reich. Their rules, based on the sovereign will of god, which they heard their prayer and reading his word, were absolute authority. No leeway or dissidents would be tolerated, and everyone must embrace the gracious punishment that god willed on us. As a seventh grader, I loved and hated God. It was a conflict. I hated his rules. If his rules and punishments were there because he loved me, then I didn’t want any of that. I would much rather kill myself and profess my love for him myself. This tough love made me hate life.
I was always told that if it hurt is was good for me.

I remember Joe stopped bringing home his awareness slips to get signed. While the teachers keep a record of the awareness slips issued, and they are expected to be signed by the parents and returned, they are not on record until there is a parent signature. Trying his best to avoid trouble and the wrath of his parents, he had been avoiding getting these signed. He would get issued awareness slips on top of awareness slips because he lost them, or they were not returned and signed on time, but he just kept shoving them into his bag. One day he showed me a stack of about a months worth, about thirty awareness slips, that weren’t signed. He confessed that things were better at home, and he wasn’t getting in trouble, but he didn’t care if he got them signed because he was getting out of here and going to public school in Millville next year.
I was jealous. My parents knew everything, and I couldn’t get away with what he was doing. My life was hell. One day he threw this stack out in the trash after school. I was in detention that day, so when everyone left and I stayed behind, I pulled them out of the trash and put them on the teachers desk. The next day Joe got in tons of trouble. He and his parents met with the principle and he was told he was receiving detentions from now until the end of the year. At this point it was the end of April and we had about a month of school left. It was the longest month of my life. I was told that I could not receive another awareness slip or detention, other wise I would get suspended. Since I was on my third suspension, this meant expulsion. I remember trying to do everything within my might to prepare myself to be on my absolute best behavior and endure for only four more weeks.
Inevitably, I got in trouble (REMEMBER!) for a silly infraction, and received my fourth awareness slip that lead to a detention that exceeded the maximum number before suspension. Twenty one.

Twenty one. The infraction occurred the week before, probably on that Thursday or Friday. I was deathly afraid of the consequences, yet, in some irrational state, I thought it would disappear, or that I would be given a second chance. I just wished that maybe it will fly under the radar, and all that talk about detentions and suspensions and expulsions would just hold of.

That week I had avoided the reality in my head, hoping that it would pass unnoticed, that my parents would somehow fail to receive word, that the school would overlook it. The weekend passed. The new week began.

Monday passed. That night my parents got a phone call. They spoke me with admonition. I was going to be suspended, and pending further punishment.

On Tuesday I went to school. Wednesday I was to be suspended. I had a fun day at school. I remember thinking that my life was over, that I was going to kill myself. I told Joe. I’m fucking doing it. We’re fucking doing it. It was over. No more reason to live. I smiled a lot that day.
School got out. I carried a heavy burden. I was about to face the grim reality. I didn’t know what the future would bring. All I knew was that I needed to survive till June when school was out. Next year I would be in public school and free. No more rules, no more punishment, no more loneliness. I was hardly the optimistic however. I thought that my suspension and expulsion were final. School got out. Joe and I walked to the parking lot. His khaki pants and characteristic forest green shirt, slightly oversize, hing from his body. His backpack hung off his back, the straps strung so that his steps almost hit the bottom of the bag.
“So yea. I’m not gonna be here tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”
“That is bullshit. I can’t believe this is happening to you. You didn’t even do anything.”
“I know. All I know is that if I get expelled, if I don’t come back on Thursday, I’m killing myself. That’s it. I don’t care. My life is over anyway so it won’t even matter. If you don’t see me on Thursday, you know what I’m doing. You know what to do.”
“Yea.”
“I’ll call you on Thursday to let you know what’s up, whether I’m going through with it or not. If you don’t here from me, I’ve said good byes.”
“Aight. I’ll see you on Thursday man. It’s gonna suck you not being here on Wednesday. Hopefully it all works out.”

With that we said good byes. I remember hand shaking him. His brother was pulling up in his black hatchback Honda civic. He walked away, turning one last time, we threw each other peace signs and a smile. He always had the biggest smile. He had one dimple. A contagious smile. It was like he was up to something, but passive, like pure joy. Even when we was sad we had trouble suppressing that smile. I always remembered I loved the joking fun loving Joe. When he was down I would make a game of getting a smile out of him. He’s succumb and retreat, insisting he was sad. I knew it. I didn’t wear my emotions. I never had. That’s where Joe and I differed. Even when I was saddest, I appeared fine. Or quite. My voice would grow timid and soft. I would simply revert inside.

That night I went home. I was grounded. I stayed in my room, listened to music, and drew. Drawing was my passion. I could get lost in that world. I would transform a world inside my head on paper. I would obsess over the details, the curves, the fine and dark lines, the shading. It contained a form, a perfection, that I mechanically teased out of me through endless refinement. Draw, erase, draw, erase. Hours would pass. I got in trouble for drawing fire breathing miniature demons that dismembered people, ate their guts, and torched them with their fire breath. I learned that if I drew with more realism, it was more accepted as art.

The next day I didn’t go to school. I was suspended. I spent the day with my grandfather at work. My father was in China at the time. He was there for about a month, or so it seemed. He was a workaholic who only seemed to care when he was home. When he wasn’t home, his rules and opinions didn’t seem to matter. That’s why it was always better when he wasn’t around. Less conflict between the kids, and less conflict between him and my mom.

My mother had taken off that day from work to talk to the principle. They had informed her that I was to be expelled. My father was not around, so she was forced to go in and plead with the administration. She plead and cried for them to keep me there. They were completely rigid with their rules. Eventually my mother managed to break them down, and they relented to having the teachers decide, opting for a vote. Only if there was unianimous agreement that I should stay would I be allowed to come back.

That afternoon I asked my mother if she heard from the school. She explained that she took off from work and spent the entire morning and afternoon meeting with the administration. She told me they conceded to having a vote to reconsider the expulsion.

Thursday rolled around. I was excited to hear what the verdict. That afternoon we got a phone call. My mom sat me down and informed me that I could return and finish up the semester. The teachers voted unanimously that I should return. I was a good kid, and not someone who was intentionally making trouble. Next year I would be leaving and go to public school. I didn’t need this I my record. I was relieved, but still depressed. I had one thought now: call Joe and tell him.

That afternoon I go up to my room and call Joe to tell him. The phone rings. Rings. Rings. I hang up. I waited a bit and tried again. It rings. Rings. Rings. Finally I hear a woman’s voice.
“Hello?”
“Hi, Mrs. Wojociechowski?”
“Yes.”
“This is Mike. Is Joe around?”
“No, he’s not here.”
“Ok. Well, I really need to talk to him. Do you know where he’s at?”
There was a pause. It sounded like she was outside.
“No, I don’t know where he’s at.” He voice was unconcerned, unmoved. It didn’t even seem like she looked for him at all.
“Okay. Well, when you see you, can you please tell him I called and to call me back?”
“Yea.”
“Ok thanks. Bye”

And with that the conversation was over. I was bitter. I felt hurt. She didn’t even look. I was excited to tell Joe that I would be coming back. Excited to tell me him that we didn’t have to kill ourselves. I was upset, but preoccupied with my return. I had said my goodbyes to everyone at school. I had wished them farewell. My return would cause a stir.
I had gotten into the habit of falling asleep to music. I had developed aweful sleeping habits. It was my sadness keeping me up. It nagged and scratched at my heart and conscious until I was numb. It rocked me all night. Sleep was an unattainable escape. The anxiety. It gripped.

My parents tried to remedy this with advice. They suggested various methods to assuage my sleeplessness. I slept with white noise, with my radio turned to alien frequency. It hissed into the night, creating a buzz that filled the room, like bees clustering around the nest, a foaming of the atmosphere. It disrupted the blackness. Turned the unknown into a familiar wish wash of salient scratching. The hiss. The buzz. This worked only so well. I resorted to my music. I would listen to the smashing pumpkins, nirvana, anything that had a message I could swim away with, into the night, into my dreams. My radio was close to my best, just within reach. The radio would play and I would wait, get lost with the music, listen to y-100 alternative rock station. I would leave an empty cassette in the deck and wait for new songs to come on. Computers and music downloading was a thing of the future. If I wanted music I needed to buy a CD, something beyond my budget means, or record off the radio.
On that night I remember two distinct songs coming on the radio. I was hoping to catch a good one that night and add to my song mix. Suddenly a familiar beat came on. I Jumped up and pressed record. It was Eminem’s the Real slim shady. I listened. I was lost in empathy. Duplicity. This was a song I could relate. This white rapper, this oddity, trying to fulfill the roles of others. A familiar song. When this was over the station immediately transitioned into a new song. An Unfamiliar song. It was hard, angry. It contained a brittle energy that exploded. Last Resort. Its lyrics poured over. Saturated every part of my body. It took me up. Enraptured my being.
“Cut my life into pieces, this is my last resort. Suffocation, no bleeding. Don’t give a fuck if I cut my arm bleeding. This is my last resort.”
This song struck me. It was my anthem. The song of my spirit. I was awestruck. Someone else, some other being is a distant place felt the same way I did, exactly the same way. I wanted to tell Joe. I had to tell Joe. This made me excited. This renewed me. This deathly depressing song called on something within me to look forward to tomorrow. When the song ended I replayed it. Over and over. Until I slept.

Friday, May 12th 2000

The next morning was a new day. I awoke and got ready like any other day. This time I had something new to bring. I wanted to tell Joe about the song.
The phone rang. I was in my room getting ready for my day. It rang and rang. I walked into the hallway and watch the phone ring. It was in the study. It stopped. Funny. The phone never rang in the morning. It must be my father. It must be my dad checking in from China. I continued getting ready. An air filled the house. A stale air. A cold air. Something that rippled the chills deep inside you. I went downstairs. My mother was shaken.
“What’s wrong?”
“I’ll talk to you in a minute. Go upstairs.” Her voice voice taught. She was holding back. Her voice was shaken, cracked, vulnerable.
I went upstairs. My sisters went downstairs. Something was wrong.
“What’s the matter? What’s going on?”
“Not right now.”
I knew something had happened.
“Did something happen to dad? Is dad alright?” Her eyes were moistened. Her nose was red.”
“I’ll talk to you in a minute”
I went upstairs. I looked out the window. The Prevetti’s arrived. I ran downstairs.
My mother went outside. My sister’s followed and I saw her talking to the Prevetti’s. I grabbed my bag and went outside. I tried to enter the car. I looked into their faces. They were stricken with shock. I was confused.
“What’s going on. Tell me right now.”
“You’re not going to school. You’re staying here with me. I’ll talk you to school.”
I was confused. I let the bag slip off my shoulder and walked toward the house. My mind was racked with possibility. What on earth could it be? I turned and saw their green Odyssey van pull away. I wanted to know. Why the heck are they keeping this from me. I went into the kitchen. My mother came in.
“Sit down on the couch. I need to talk to you.”
“Tell me now! What the heck is going on?! Why is everyone acting so weird? Did someone die? Tell me here!”
“Sit down Michael. Come sit on the couch.” Her eyes shown a sad desperation. A gut wrenching concern. Her face was dissolving with emotion. Reluctantly I sat. She grabbed my hand and looked me in the eye. It was awkward to see my mother cry. I was hardened. Cold. Depressed. She was being weak. Why was she so sad?
I could see her try to compose herself. She fought the emotion that welled up inside. Her eyes were swollen with tears. She held them back.
“I need to tell you something.”
I waited. I looked her in the eyes and looked away. Uncomfortable.
“Michael.” She paused.
“Your best friend killed himself.”
The words cut through the stale air. They sliced. Moments passed.
“What? Steve?”
“No…” her back arched with the weight of her words.
“Joe.”
Time stopped. It froze. It hung, suspended. Those words were strange. They didn’t compute.
“What do you mean?”
“Joey’s dead. He killed himself.”
“How”
“He hung himself.”
I remained stolid. Immoved. I stared. Time stopped. I looked into space. The world melted into blackness. It shifted like a whirlwind. A black hole. A vacuum. It sucked at everything inside and outside of me.
“Joe’s dead?”
“Yes.” She cried. She grabbed my hands and I pulled away. I needed to think.
Joe’s dead. What does this mean?
“You mean, he’s dead? Gone for good?”
“Yes.” She wanted to hold me. She wanted to make me feel better. My feelings were churning. I didn’t know how to think of this. I couldn’t see him anymore. He was gone fore good. Forever out of reach. No longer there fore me. My best friend. I didn’t want to believe it.
I stared ahead. My mother cried. I watched her out of the corner of my eye. I had never experienced death before no one had died. It was eerie. He was gone for good. A pressure mounted inside me. I pressed it down. It wanted to push out of my eyes, out my throat. I tried to fight but a vulnerability. I tried to hold back the feeling. My vision blurred. I blinked. Tears dripped. I relented.
The air escaped and I tried catching it. It came. A punch in the stomach. I could my breath. My air was gone. My eyes tightened inside my head. I squeezed them shut and bent over, smothering face into my hands. It was violent. I seized, over and over, fighting, gasping for air, for ground, for something to bring me back. This lasted a long while. Finally I pressed it back down and regained composure. Emotions are weakness. I am not weak.
“Why did you say Steve?” my mother broke the silence.
“Because we always talked about it. I thought Steve would before Joe.”
“Why Steve?”
“Cause his mom’s crazy. She abused him, beats him why brooms, punches him with rings.”
“Why Joe?”
I cried.
“Joe and I agreed to kill ourselves, but I never thought he would go through with it.”
I cried and cried.

I brought my mom upstairs. I brought her my cassette player.
“Joe and I made a suicide pact. We wanted to die. I listened to this song last night. It described just how I felt. I wanted to show it to him.”
I pressed play and let ‘the Last Resort’ play. My mother cried. She listened for about a minute. I balled. Eventually she pressed stop.
I asked her who told her. She said MRs. Wilson, my geography teacher, had called her that morning. I asked her details. She said his parents found him this morning. His dad tried going into his room but something was blocking the door. They pushed the door open and found Joe’s body on the other side. His face was purple, swollen. His eyes were bulging out of his head. His tongue was swollen and protruding from his mouth. They tried resuscitating him but it was too late. He died the night before.
All I could think about was my phone call to his mother. This could have been prevented. This could have been stopped. My phone call would have changed events. He could have been saved. The guilt weighed.
She asked what I wanted to do, if I wanted to stay home or go to school
“I need to go to school. I need to see Steve and Mike. I need to see my friends.”
We drove down. It was quiet. I was in my head. Thinking. Why.

I got to school. No one knew yet. Every one saw me crying. I walked with hall with my mother. I poked my head into the classrooms. My eyes were red and swollen. I checked myself. Their stare looked on me with sympathy. Something was wrong but they can’t place their finger on why. My eyes communicated the despair, the loss. I looked into them, as if to say, this means you. This sadness is for you. For your loss.
My mother and I went into the principles office. We sat and waited. They asked how I was doing. It was a morose atmosphere. There wasn’t much they could say. There wasn’t much that they knew how to say. Do we ask as if we don’t know? How do you think someone is doing when this happens? What did they think about me? Suddenly my situation, my crimes against their ruling dogma seemed trivial in comparison. They melted, faded, retreated into the background. Death, loss, in all its meaning, superseded the petty inconveniences they fought so hard against.
My mother offered her embrace as the levies holding back the tears brimmed over with each new tide of reflection.
An announcement was made over the loudspeaker.
“Attention students and faculty. We have an announcement. Please go to the appropriate classrooms as instructed by your teachers.”
The students filed into the hallways and made their ways into classrooms. The seventh grade class was specifically organized between two rooms. I saw my friends. I couldn’t speak. They wouldn’t let me. I just distanced myself. All the girls came up and asked what was wrong. They tried picking out inconsistencies. My friends Mike Wise and Steve Myers knew what was up. They read my eyes. The asked under their breath.
“Is it Joe?”
My eyes saddened. They released under the pressure. The mounting feelings. They knew. They didn’t know what it meant, but they knew. They braced themselves.
“Attention students, faculty, and staff. We have an unfortunate and tragic announcement to make. This morning we have received news that one of our students has died.”
As she spoke my eyes surveyed the room to gauge the faces and their reaction. The announcement of someones death drew an anticipation into the air. Everyone braced for who and how.
There are counselors located in each of your rooms. We urge you to use them for support. Joey Wojocichowski passed away this morning. His parents found him in his room and paramedics indicated his death was self inflicted. Please use the counselors and teachers to talk about this tragedy.”
When Joe’s name was uttered that was a fragmentation that fractured across the room. Still waters vibrated into foaming whirlpools of erratic grievances. Sobs, screams, deathly howls filled the air. They penetrated the air, walls, the furniture, and hacked at the core of everyones security. Instability filled the air. Chaos ensued. Emotions overtook the crowds of students as more and more grief found its way into the reservations of the strong.
My friends and I hung our heads low, buried our fingers into our eyes. We curled inward, as if to bear the burden individually. We knew we perpetuated this game of death, this romance with pain. We flirted with the edges together, jesting in despair for the other to test the balance of life. Tip it over, spill it out. Let existence, all its bounds and constraints, unfurl with glorious permeation. Who will dare let themselves unravel and meet the maker? Who had the courage?
Non of us knew what this meant, or what it looked like. The pain was local, but we resided in this local. We knew no other locality to exist. Our choice remained: embrace the pain of existence, or the uncertainty of death.
Everyone cried. Classes were canceled. I talked to my friends. Everyone hugged each other. Everyone apologized for my loss. I relished in the attention, but jealousy for his bravery persisted to haunt me. I wanted to die. I took satisfaction in looking into the sadness of the teachers that made Joe’s life, and my life, an unbearable inconvenience. Their words found their way to deaf ears. I retracted any forgiveness. There was no one deserving, save a few teachers who actually saw a balance of discipline and wellbeing.
A teacher in the math department specifically enraged me. Pre-algebra. Mr. Raybauld. He made fun of Joe constantly. Like my father, he believed it was his duty to dispel a false confidence he perceived in those who were weak. He worked to break them down, to openly elucidate his shortcomings, like the tyranny of public opinion would cause them to change.
After the announcement they allowed us to go on the playground to talk amongst or console each other. That lasted a few hours until nothing more could be said to assuage the pain and no further reconciliation could be made.

I went home. The next few days were a blur. I spoke with my father. He was still in China on business. His words were delivered with good intention, but remained hollow against the background of the past years transgressions. He apologized for my loss. My parents demeanor changed quite a bit. They gravity of Joe’s death added a bit more weight to their actions. An elevated sensitivity precluded their actions. Wanton punishments and the digestion of harsh realities were shelved.
They asked me if I’d like to go back to Cumberland Christian, or transfer schools and attend Pitman Middle School. Without a moments hesitation I insisted on Pitman. A residue of guilt persisted in the back of my mind. I felt that I was abandoning Steven and Mike. I didn’t want to let go of my only friends, and have them wrestle with the loss of Joe and the breakdown of our family nucleus simultaneously as I left. I couldn’t endure another moment, another reminder, another confirmation of the pain I was feeling. Escape was the only fruit of desperation that left me comfortable. I needed ease. Ease of mind. Ease of heart.
My mother took me to Pitman Middle school that day and began the enrollment process. With only a month of school left we knew that transition would be tumultuous, but it paled in comparison to facing the demons I would be leaving. Little did I know, the demons I sought to desperately escape were within me.

Chapter III.c.v

After Joe’s death my parents sent me to a variety of counselors. Religious pastors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists. I was a master at manipulation. I was a chameleon. After moving eleven times or so until that point allowed me to shape shift and change. It wasn’t out of a deliberate attempt to deceive people. It was just that until that point that is how I coped with the transitions and moves. I learned to wear different masks depending on who was in my company. My survival mechanism was to adapt to the changing environmental demands and situations. Be it people or circumstances.

These counselors didn’t know my pain. No more than my parents did. To me, they were strangers who simply were getting paid to do the work my parents failed to do. Or anyone who cared about me failed to do. They were trying to superficially fix me without changing anything. Without changing the dynamics of the relationships within the family, which in my opinion, was the source of much of my discomfort.

I recall the barrage of counselors throughout the upcoming months try their best to crack me. I was like a code. It was a game. A battery of questions. They wanted to hear that I was struggling, that I was fucked up inside. The truth was, I was fucked up, but that kind of information was personal and for me alone, and at that time, despite how terrible I felt about myself and life, I wasn’t interested in sharing that or trying to get better. Things could be good, or they could be bad. It seemed so arbitrary in my life. I just wanted to escape it all and for things to be good.

My parents were particularly keen on seeing me get help through the ministry. They believed what I was experiencing was a spiritual battle, rather than a psychological battle that involved an oppressive home life and personal mental attitude.

III.c.vi

I had been hanging out with my friends quite a bit since I had transferred to Pitman Middle School.

Chapter IV

Monday, May 15th 2000.

I began school three days after Joe’s death. My mother took me shopping at Pacific Sunwear and bought me new clothes. Since I attended private school with uniforms and dresscodes, style was something of a foreign concern. My mother always assumed the responsibility of buying my clothes and making me look up to appearances.
My parents were always extremely concerned about appearances. It seemed like appearances made up for the lack of substance they believed we actually had. Comb your hair. Don’t wear that. Wear a belt. Tuck in your shirt. You can’t leave the house looking like that. Your hair doesn’t look good. This constant emphasis to looks, while important, developed into an unhealthy self consciousness that pervaded all interaction.
School was a rough transition. I fit in immediately and was well received by all the friends I once had in middle school, as well as all the athletes I had kept in touch with in sports over the years. It was a small middle school, with no more than three hundred and fifty kids in all. Quite possibly a quite a bit smaller.

Nolan Bertelsen, Jeff Dragon, Todd Brattstrom, Brian Albers, David Mason, and to a small extend, Josh Alam and one or two others became my close friends. There were girls that immediately took a liking to me but I, being a prude with high standards and religious conviction, stayed away from.

One night my parents let me stay the night at Nolan’s. His parents divorced a few years earlier so he didn’t have many restrictions or rules. That night we drank peppermint schnapps. His father kept a bottle of the thick liquid stuff in the freezer. It would go down icy and cool.

Nolan was friends with all the kids whose parents were absent. Johnny Jeffers, Steph Rutter, Those were the kids who always smoked, stayed out past eight, nine, ten, even eleven o’clock on school nights, just roaming the streets of Pitman. Most were grovers.

Pitman New Jersey is an interesting demographic. Originally it was settled as a missionary retreat that bustled with entertainment, raceways, boardwalks, water parks and lakes.

It was a town as small as it was narrow. Its borders kept the people captive. Small minds. Great intentions. Two square miles.

The grovers lived in the oldest part of town in what used to be a summer retreat destination for Christians. The grove was shaped like a wheel with tweleve roads radiating out like spokes, each representing the twelve apostles. At the center was the church, or outdoor church. Back in the back it contained rows of quaint small gingerbread houses adorned in beautiful summers. Today those houses are all but degraded to disrepair or gone altogether. It’s the slum of pitman, infested with low life social classes that wallow in helplessness.
The night I spent at Nolans I got my first kiss. Stephanie Rutter, a grover in her own reguard. Not that she asked for it, but she fit the part. She matured early, having breasts and curves well before the other girls. As a Christian school boy who only saw girls in conservative uniforms, she was an enticing sight.
The lights were out. Nolan and Jonny Jeffers went outside. We walked up through the basement and stopped in the kitchen. She turned and looked into my eyes. She asked if I ever kissed a girl. I replied no.
“You never hooked up with a girl?”
“No. I never really had the chance.”
“Do you wanna hook up? Its easy and it feels good.”
“Yes.” I replied.
She brought her mouth close to mine. Hesitated a moment. The warm breathing caressed my lips and nostrils. She pressed her mouth into mine. Our lips moved on top of one other. We didn’t embrace. Our mouths parted and her tongue found its way to mine. It maneurved and massaged the insides. I replied with equal vigor.
We finished.
“How was that?”
I smiled. Slightly embarrassed.

It was just as I thought it would be, and slightly better. It was a rush. I had spent countless hours in front of the mirror practicing for this very moment. The initial gaze, the embrace, the hesitation. It was like I had done it a million times before.

Her round eyes peered into my depths. I smirked. We kissed again then walked outside.

I believe we were walking around town. I didn’t tdrink too much. I wasn’t conditioned to that poison quite yet. We walked the streets, the lonely steely streets of pitman. Summer was almost here. The warm summer nights lit the furnace within you. The locomotion of youth was an unstoppable force when this fire was lit. We walked and walked, hooted and hollered. I remember we played and joked. I was reserved. Nolan was the wild child. We knew everyone. He helped me escape from my shell. He was there when I needed it.

We walked through the suburban streets and came upon Ksome baseball fields. The were moonlit and glistening like a sea of pearls. The wet dew covered the earth. It was hot that day. They were smoking cigarettes. I had never smoked a cigarette.
“You mean you never even tried?” They asked.
“Nah. Never tried.”
“Do you wanna try?”
Nolan shot in, “You don’t need to try anything Mikey.”
“How does it work? I’ll try a little bit.”
“You put it between your lips then suck in a little bit, but not too much, then hold it for a second and breath out.”
She extended her arm with the cigarette. The glow of its burning cherry streaked against the darkness. I grabbed it. She stood close and watched as I brought it to my lips. I sucked gently, and exhaled. Minty.
“You didn’t breath it in.” Steph instructed, “You gotta breath in, like this.”
She demonstrated, sucking in and blowing out with cool poise. She held the cigarette between her pointer and middle finder. It was feminine. I didn’t want to adopt that grip so I used my thumb and pointer. Much more masculine and nonchalant.

I grabbed the cigarette from her. This time I inhaled the smoke. My throat and lungs inflamed with a cool burn and I let out a hack. I coughed and held my hands over my mouse and nose. Violent convulsions. Disgusting. I composed myself, their eyes on me.
“Not bad.”
They laughed. We continued walking. Steph stopped me and we kissed again. It tasted just like my parents always told me it would: like an ashtray. Her taste was disgusting. We wandered across town and finally would up crossing the baseball fields across from the middle school. There were a couple brothers that lived adjacent to the fields. No mother. Father was an alcoholic. The older brother Evan was in eleventh grade. His younger brother Andrew Saltzberg was in my grade and on my soccer team. He was always wearing his brothers hand me downs. Nolan and Johnny Jeffers went inside their house. Steph and I sat on a bench nearby that overlooked the moonlit fields. I had one thing and one thing only on my mind: sex. Of course I didn’t want to have sex, but all the hormones in my body wanted it. I wanted to be on her, near her.

Grassy fields. We grabbed each other and kissed. I massaged her body, feeling all the curves, her round breasts. Our lips were locked. My fingers maneuvered up her shirt, under her wire bra and cupped her supple breasts. My fingers traced the outline of her areola. I was excited. The hormones coursed through my body. My hands continued squeezing her curves as they made their way to her stomach. I caressed her warm soft skin. My fingers found the waistline of her shorts. They slid underneath and encountered a string. What was this? A thong. My thoughts raced with enthusiasm. I didn’t know girls at my age wore thongs? She must be a real babe. My fingers slid beneath the string and mesh and were met with soft pubic hair. I massaged gently. I continued sucking and kissing her lips. So soft and voluptuous. Warm and delicious.
My fingers rubbed her pelvis and her legs willingly parted. A warmth emanated from her groin. I pressed my fingers into her, trying to locate something the source of this warmth. Just then a moisture broke opened and liquid was felt on my fingers. I pressed and massaged her soft, silky, velvety insides.

The Next Day

My pubescence led to a hormonal rage and magnetic attraction to all females in sight. Since I was the new guy, and a nice boy with only godly intentions, I quickly became friends with all the girls. They were many times my only good friends. Their company could be counted on and most of all, they all had good looking girl friends. That’s the best way to meet girls: make friends with lots of girls. Doesn’t matter if they’re attractive or not. I would write notes to these girls every day, discussing my feelings for this girl or that girl. They were write me back. We would fold our notes in all sorts of creative patterns and pass them to each other in the hall. I would save every last one of these notes and later accumulated what was several trash bags filled with them. Notes became very important to me.
My eighth to ninth grade summer I swam at brookside pool. Brookside was a recreational pool located a few miles from my house. I would wake every morning around seven a.m. and ride my bike to practice. I would then hang out at the pool all day, or I would go across the street to work at my grandfather’s property. He had a pretty big house that he renovated, and an even bigger yard that needed upkeep. He happened to be a horder, but not in a terrible sense. He just loved holding onto tools and other things of perceived value. He seemed to accumulate all sorts of gadgets and tools and they would pile up in his work project with every new hobby: woodworking, metal working, carving, hobby trains, hobby plans, boats. You name it. It didn’t help that my uncles were of the same way more or less. Only, they didn’t have any where to store it so my grandfathers garage became the place for them. It was my job every summer to weed out all the junk and separate it from the good stuff. I would clear flower beds, replant flowers, prune, mow, and the like. I was a landscaper every summer in this fashion. My grandfather paid me roughly one hundred and fifty dollars a week. I would waste a good majority of that money on Magic: The Gathering cards or parts for my bike or food.

When I wasn’t hanging out at Brookside I was hanging with friends. Pitman is a small town, only two square miles. You could walk just about everywhere. That Christmas before my parents bought me a BMX bike: the Hoffman SD-4. It wasn’t the most celebrated bike they made, but it was dubbed the most versatile. Candy apple red with black trim, it was like a beautiful Cadillac. It was luscious to the eyes. The bike was made as a hybrid to freestyle, street, and dirt. That’s why I loved it.

That summer I spent the majority of my time riding around town with my friends on our bikes. We would roll up to parties that the older kids would throw, or just hang out at Nolan’s or Brian’s or Drew’s house.

Nolan was always hanging out with the older kids. Since his parents were divorced and for the most part self absorbed he had pretty much unlimited freedom. Additionally, he could always leverage one parent or the other depending on what he wanted to get from them. To a large extent, his parents resented each other and were more than happy to see the other lose control by undermining their rules. While Nolan’s family was together he was a good kid. It was only when they divorced and he was forced to commute between his mother and father did he gain the freedom needed to get into trouble. Before he got a car in high school, he pretty much lived out of a back pack. It had his toilettries and a few changes of clothes that he would swap out whenever he had the opportunity to stop home.

Nolan and I explored all summer. He began experimenting quite a bit during the seventh grade: women, alcohol, even drugs. At soccer practice it became almost a ritual to listen to his stories from the weekend about girls. Most of the ones he hung out with were equally unsupervised. He would tell of his escapades after one too many drinks with girls getting naked. I remember this one girl in particular. She was trailer trash, poor, and not classy. Not that she could help that considering its such a generational affliction. I’m not sure if they mature earlier, or just look like they mature earlier because of all the skimpy clothing they wear, but the poor girls always looked much older than they were. It was probably the clothing that revealed, emphasized and accentuated all the areas that young boys fantasize over the most.

He told a story where he was with a bunch of people and they were drinking, possibly at his house but it could have been at her house, and they both drank one too many glasses of wine. They were playing truth or dare, or some derivation, and she got naked, revealing her oblong breasts and dense thick vaginal bush. In the midst of the sottish game, with an audience jeering their juvenile proclivities, she straddled him. From his position he caught glance of what looked like a piece of string dangling from the hair. He enthusiastically commanded attention to the string and found that it was part of the tampon. They goaded him to remove it with his teeth and he did so willingly and promptly. With her legs spread he nuzzled his face between her loins, gribbed the string with his incisors, and gently pulled back, revealing a red swollen cotton cylinder.

He recognized the perceived baseness of her socioeconomic status and, while he wasn’t proud that it was with her, he was proud he did it. And he should have been, maybe. He was in seventh grade and way ahead of the curve. Kids adulated to such stories. Weeks later he would go on to have sex with her, eventually maintaining a lose relationship that he grew tired with as he realized the ease in which she allowed the physicality to revolve around.

My parents were always overly protective. It stemmed from that deep seated fear of their kids winding up like their siblings: alcoholics, unsaved, and uneducated. They feared that we would end up like the vast majority of mainstream America, and this scared the hell out of them. I’m sure they weren’t terribly bad compared with most kids, but I just happened to have an early exposure to kids with too much freedom.

The role models in every grade growing up usually tended to be those who grew up faster than every one else. This never stayed static and usually a good deal of people had their turn at being popular by the time high school rolled around. Nolan happened to grow up extra fast. His freedom, coupled with his height and quick maturation in middle school, made him a big brother figure. He was one of the taller kids growing up and one of the first kids with facial hair.

After Joe’s death my parents were particularly fearful and keen on keeping an eye on me, and with good reason. On the other hand, considering the loss of Joe and all the friends I had lost as a result of the transition to Pitman Middle School, they knew how important it was for me to hang out with my friends.

Nolan took me under his wing and showed me the ropes of Pitman, introducing me to all the popular older kids he knew and making sure I was looked out for. He kept in communication with my parents and kept them updated on my moods and any destructive behavior I might exhibit.

Nolan was friends with Johnny Jeffers, a juvenile delinquent by most standards, but really just lost and aimless. No real family support other than an equally aimless older brother. Johnny’s older brother smoked weed so he was exposed from an early age. At the time I was a generally reserved kid. Probably due to my depression or fear of failure or rejection. I stood in the background and interacted as needed. While my actions did not, my demeanor always commanded a certain attention. Perhaps it was the blonde hair blue eyes, maybe it was my bold visage and secure stature, but people always reached out to me and reciprocated when I reached out to them.

On one summer day in 2001 I made my way to Nolans house after swimming practice. Cell phones weren’t ubiquitous at the time, and while Nolan had one, most kids, especially kids our age, didn’t need a cell phone. I would either call his house line, stop by his mother or father’s house, or wait for him to get a hold of me at home. That day I stopped by his father’s house and found Nolan hanging out with Johnny Jeffers. They were sitting in the kitching table. It was covered in mail. The small kitchen TV flickered some random sitcom. Nolan and Johnny let the humid summer air sedate them as they quietly lounged. I walked in and greeted them with a “what’s up guys.”

They made room for me and we talked about what we wanted to do. In the back of my mind I was always mindful that my parents were lurking close. They could call any time, show up anywhere, without cause or reason. It was terrifyingly debilitating, but it never stopped me from wanting to escape and rebel. In a lot of cases it was almost in direct spite. ‘How much can I get away with?’ was the modus operandi.
Johnny casually remarked, “I have some weed we could smoke. It’s like half a nick bag but It’ll getchya high.”
Nolan’s interest’s were perked. At that time in my life I had no desire to partake in drugs and alcohol. My parents had instilled a fear of all things not endorsed by the church or God.
“The only problem is I don’t have anything to smoke it out of. Unless you wanna make something.” Said Johnny. Nolan’s thoughts wandered for a second before he responded.
“Wait. I can make something. Lets use a can.” Nolan grabbed a can of mountain dew off the table and walked into the kitchen. We followed over and I peaked around him to observe his procedure. He grabbed both sides of the can and pressed with his two thumbs to flatten the center. He grabbed a knife out of the drawer and gently poked a series of very small holes.
He held the can up like an offering. “Finished.” he said proudly.
I insisted that I wasn’t about to smoke. It’s not good for you, and I couldn’t let my parents find out.
We couldn’t smoke at nolan’s dad’s house. His father owned a farm a few miles away. At his house his dad had built several large greenhouses on his property to grow flowers and what not during colder months and to germinate other plants before they were planted into the ground. His office was attached adjacent to the green houses and he would often be going and coming from the office to the greenhouse to the farm so, at that point, smoking anywhere on the property was out of the question.

Johnny suggested we go to the Memorial fields where the dell and streams were located. They were our hangout’s away from home. A central location between north and south Pitman that was out of the way and indescreet. We hopped on our bikes and made our way towards the fields.

Pitman had a pretty sizable lake named Alcyon that made it a popular summer destination for city folk in Philadelphia at the turn of the 19th century. Originally a popular missionary retreat, Pitman soon became an entertainment hotspot in the middle of the 20th century. It featured race tracks and motorways, a boardwalk, rides and attractions. It was a family destination. Like all things good, it’s days came to an end and lots of riff raff began accumulating within the population. In the 90’s it was discovered that a nearby landfill and a local manufacturing company had severely polluted the local land. The dumping caused the seepage of toxic chemicals into the ground water which eventually found its was into the lake. It proved to be one of the worst environmental disasters in the country at the time and great federal, state, and local measures were taken to completely drudge and clean the lake.

Kids that would swim in the lake would fall severely ill. It was almost a joke that Alcyon Lake produced creatures that resembled nothing else on earth: three headed geese, eight leg frogs, multi-tailed fish, two headed turtles, and other morbid looking animals. By the time I was in the middle school the project was more than five years underway and for the most part relatively safe. They had to completely restock the lake with local vegetation and wildlife. The local conservation team had built a pretty substantial facility to house the wildlife. This soon became a routine field trip for elementary classes throughout those years as it was an easy way to teach about environmental and wildlife issues.

We rolled passed the lake and crossed over Holly Avenue. There was a maintenance gait that we shimmied around. We pedaled along the stream between the dense vegetation that grew along the serpentine stream and a small forest that separated us from open soccer fields. This grass alley had a thick carpet with full soft blades. Sunshine beamed through the complecting treetops. The air was teeming. Insects, rigidly suspended the sun’s rays, glowed as they caught the coruscating light.

We hit the breaks and skid to a stop before jumping off. We poked around the stream for a familiar opening. Found it. Hopping over the long scratchy grass we slid down the embankment onto the litton. We made our way over to a large fallen tree that spanned across the stream and we crossed with adroit finesse. On the other side Johnny pulled out a small nick bag of weed. He sprinkled it on the can, held it to lips and sparked the lighter. He took a smooth steady drag and held it in. He blew out a cloud of smoke and paused, staring straight ahead. A smile glazed over his face. Nolan grabbed it out of his hands and proceeded in similar fashion. I stood off the the side, slightly uneasy, shifting my weight from foot to foot as I looked on.

My thoughts were with my parents. They were always with my parents. Ruminating about the possibilities of getting in trouble. Their cruel punishments. Their twisted dark eyes that they tried so desperately to mask with angelic halos. So what if people couldn’t see the difference in them. I could feel the difference. That was all that I needed.

They were high. Giggling. Pushing and joking around. They asked me to smoke but it was against my religious preferences. We hopped on our bikes and began riding to Johnny Jeffers house. Johnny Jeffers lived down the street from Burly Bikes. Growing up in the 90’s and in Pitman, BMXing was just about the awesomest past time a kid could get involved with. Not only did it provide a set of awesome wheels to patrol around on, but it allowed a creative outlet. Jumps, exploration, ramps, street stuff. It was all fair game and we all took advantage of it.

Meeting Jeff

My friends Nolan Bertelsen and Brian Albers were some of my closest friends at that time. We rode our BMX bikes all around town and for the first time in my life, I experienced a sort of independent freedom. I’m sure by most standards my parents weren’t the worst people in the world, and they weren’t necessarily the most oppressive, but our relationship was so dysfunctional that it made abiding by any rules nearly impossible for me to respect or honor. It was always a matter of escape.

Before I had even assimilated into the new school I seemed to have a reputation for myself. I did know quite a few kids through sports and friends of friends, so there was so sort of base to it all.

Being the new kid was never easy no matter how well I got along with the majority. The new kid was easy to pick on. Being blonde and fairly attractive and usually good with the ladies, I was especially the target for boys, most notably the older boys. My father had always taught me to stand up for myself. There was a trend throughout my elementrary school days of being an impulsive kid. I would do things that would incite a reaction out of people, either because I provoked it or because people striaght up didn’t like who I was or what I was doing.

My father, being a military man, and a man who valued respect and knowing that respect is something to be earned or commanded, taught me from an early age to never back down. Once you get singled out for being weak or passive or a wimp, you were a target and it was nearly impossible to escape from their attention. As a result my father taught me how to fight.

I would come home, upset, or with a letter from a teacher explaining that I had been in a fight or picked on. He would ask how it happened and I would explain.

I remember how he would look me in the eyes and tell me to never let other kids get away with bullying and picking on me.
“If they pick on you, you have to let them know that you will not tolerate it. You need to tell them, Michael, to knock it off, or else. You give them three warnings. The first time, you make sure you look them in the eye and say ‘I don’t appreciate what you’re doing. Please stop’. It’s important that you look them in the eye when you tell them this” he would say. “Make sure they know that you are serious. If they continue picking on you, give them a second warning. Look them in the eye and say, “if you don’t stop, you will regret it.” If they continue you give them one last warning. You need to make sure that you look them in the eye and you let them know you are serious. You need to say “this is your last warning. If you continue to mess with me, I will seriously hurt you in ways that you will severely regret.” Make sure they know that you are not someone who jokes. If they continue, Michael, and you have warned the teacher and it’s still continuing, you need to beat the living hell out of them. Beat the living… shit…. out of them so hard and so quick that they didn’t even see it coming.”

“How do I do that? I don’t know how to fight. They are all bigger than me and sometimes there are more of them.” I would say. He would show me how to make a fist, ask me to throw a fist, correct my form, and then explain where and how I needed hit them.

“When they didn’t respect your last warning Michael, you need to make sure you hit them in two places. Hit them as hard as you can in the nose. When you hit them in the nose their eyes will get watery and they won’t be able to see. After you hit them as hard as you can in the nose, you hit them as hard as you can in the stomach. That way, they can’t see, and they can’t breath. After that you beat the shit out of them. You punch them like a psycho, crazy, madman.”

“Hah.” A smirk would swarm across my face as I fantasized about this. “You want me to go crazy?”

“Michael, no one wants to mess with a crazy person. Crazy people are unpredictable and impossible to fight. If you go crazy on them, and you hit them hard enough so they feel that pain, they will not ever mess with you. They’ll think to themselves ‘whoa, this kid is crazy. I’m not gonna mess with him.”

And that is exactly what I did. My father had a friend Steve Roberts who was, as his legend’s would have it, a crazy person in is early days. That was before he found the ‘saving grace of Jesus’. He use to tell me about his early days messing with LSD and mushrooms and all these other drugs. Partially to scare me, but in all honesty, in seventh and eighth grade, when I heard his stories and asked further about his experiences, it just made me want to do them more. He would tell me how he had a reputation of being absolutely crazy and fight people. No one would mess with him because when he got into a fight it would take multiple people to pull him off and stop it.

After I got that advice in the middle school, that is exactly what I did. And it worked. Albeit, not all the time. I got my ass beat on multiple occasions, and I was often upset and cried, but I always made sure they felt it. That those bullies felt the consequences of messing with me. Even when there was five on me.

So Brian and Nolan were my only close friends. I had always heard about this one kid named Jeff Dragon. His last name alone perked your interest. I heard he was a bad ass when it came to BMX biking and the like. A really cool kid. Apparently he heard quite a bit about me as well.

One day Brian and I rode our bikes to downtown to hang out with some friends at Atilio’s Pizzeria. That was the usual hang out. It was situated smack dab in the middle of Pitman on Broadway Ave. Next to the central bank, across from the library, in front of the Grove, right along the strip. I went in with Brian. I’m not even sure we ate anything. I think we just liked hanging out. We probably bought soda-pop or something to sip on.

Brian and I sat in a booth and talked with some girls. A flurry of kids walked through the front door. “Jeff Dragon is outside” they announced. “He wants to meet you”. I had no idea what to expect of Jeff Dragon. All the kids would talk about him as if he were the coolest kid on the face of the earth. I walked outside and found myself in the middle of a group of kids. A kid with bleached blonde hair steps forward.
“Hey what’s up I’m Jeff Dragon.” He said, all in one breath with no interruption.

He had hair that was bleached. It was a little orange on the ends. His upper lip was stained with blue cool-aid or some other blue beverage. His ears had huge clear 00 gauges. He wore clothing you’d find at Pacific sun wear and Etnies shoes.

I extended my hand and introduced myself.

Chapter IV.d

The room is dimly lit. My fan hums quietly. The air is dry. There is a certain tranquility in the room. My blinds are half down and i can see the tops of big bellowing maple trees. It’s mid autumn. Their leaves wave to me from their branches. It looks like they’re twinkling. They’ve started to turn yellow and orange. They sky isn’t summer blue anymore. It maintains a dusty feel. Its a feel that’s fitting when i look over the landscape and see the leaves blowing across the sky. And there’s the dry air. It’s sharp to breath and makes the skin rough and ashy. I’m tired. Slightly sleep deprived but my mind races on. I opened my book and I got lost in the pages. My imagination would take me away from what was being read and constant attention was diverted to maintain the storyline. I put the book down on my chest, still opened to my page. My head still propped up with two pillows. My eyes are heavy. All around the edges they get heavier as if I’m growing weaker. They begin to burn so i close them gently and let the moisture of my eyelids begin to saturate mollify. It feels so effortless and rewarding I keep them closed. I hear the hum of my fan maintain an entrancing vibe. I listen closely focusing in to notice oscillating discrepancies in its rhythm. I can hear the mechanical struggle of electrical current fighting with moving parts against the laws that govern motion.

I think about feelings. I think about feelings exchanged with others. Especially those who catch my eye. Those girls. Girls because they in my mind they are innocent. They have something to offer that is unadulterated and skewed with illogic and hurt. I think about it for a moment, my eyes still closed. I see her. Something that perks my inquisitiveness. My eagerness to just grab her and say ‘I think your wonderful would you sit with me I want to know you’ all in one breath. I instead watch. I wait for anything to lead me to think she’s anything less than great. I resume my work and glance in her direction to get a funny feeling that leaves me smiling inside. Was she looking at me? I pretend not to notice or I tell myself not to get too anxious because after all…it was nothing. I may be over reacting here. I continue on., very concentrated in my work, but I can’t fool myself that she’s not in the back of my mind. Cooly I look up and glance towards her once again. I can’t help but smile. She quickly looks down and away but maintains a smile that radiates the room. Butterflies, fireflies, a drenching warmth and a sense of being alive wraps itself around me.

I see her walking away and I struggle to look for the appropriate words… I wanna walk with her, I wanna talk with her… time ticks as I get closer and closer until i blurt out a mess of words ” whathihowyouwanna” all at once- like I was speaking in tongues. Before I even know what I said she turns with and says “I’d love to walk with you.” I relax and shake it off.

I feel asleep again. I woke up in a dream.

hello love. I see you floating just above, dancing and swaying in the gentle breeze. you blow here and there like a feather drifting gently. I chase you like a child, into the meadow. I love meadows. I lay down and scratch my head. Looking up into the blue sky, my eyes adjust to the brilliance. I see you love. so far above but not out of sight. I’ll sit here and wait for you. Collect a tan and rest my weight on the lush lawn. extend my toes and stretch my arms up and out. I stretch my facial muscles into all sorts of funny shapes, raising my eyebrows and wrinkling my nose back and forth. The sun is shining radiantly. You can almost see its rays reaching like fingers across the blanket of blue above. its trancing. The aroma of wildflowers. Silent. Only the sound of wind blowing through the tops of trees not too far off. the short conversation between song birds. I close my eyes gently in a dream. Opening them i see my love. floating right above me. and i smile.

Chapter V.b

Saturday, Oct 30th 2005. (With Jacob Scott Dino Bello, Brandon Satoren? (Tommy Copeland, maybe?) all the girls)
Titled: Kegs, out-of-control, 6 mile expeditions, more kegs, bonfires, off-roading is that it?
find a shell. take it.
keg, house party, women, beer pong, good friends, close friends, best friends, shitloads of liquer,singing songs, smoking joints, smoking bowls, watching eskimo samuri’s chopping the living hell out of everything. including all the red cups. 30 second keg stands. followed by two 2 second kegs stands. cops. oh no. empty the keg? oh no. heres the shell from last night. continue to drink until we realize its late. until we realize clocks are set back an hour. woot. party long and harder. listen to drunk girls try to sing. watching drunk girls lap dance all the drunk men with girlfriends at the party. watching drunk girls get shut down by the sober single guys. evade young drunk girls that want to lose their virginity. watching beer pong. watching drunk kids smoke cigarettes in motorcylce helmets. laughing. a lot. wrestleing. breaking glass with my hands. watching girls bathe in my blood. laughing about it. getting tired. hungry. decided it was a great idea to walk home. running, jumping, tripping, swimming, falling, 6miles miles later= pass out infront of my house. wake up from hunger. eat 100 burritos. almost. pass out. wake up at 6. still drunk. watch the sunrise. ask myself wtf am i doing awake at this hour. oh yea jakes got a date. considerate. pick up my jeep. drive home drunk. pass out until i sober up. wake with a smile on my face.

Same post, Sunday, October 30th 2005
what the hell are you gonna do on a sunday night? bonfire. keg. a lot of hurricane demolished wood. gasoline. 25 close friends. offroad. walk on burning embers. get loud. dance. listen to music. eat roasted marshmellows. watch drunk little girls try to make them without igniteing themselves aflame. go hardcore offroading. get stuck. get unstuck. hold on tight. launch girls and friends out of the back of the jeep. try and find them once i realize they arent there anymore. convince people that walking home at that hour and in that condition is not a good idea. take drunk people home. pass out. wake up with blisters on my feet and ash all over my body. look at my jeep and ask myself what the hell did you do last night. beer on the inside and out. half the forests leaves covering the inside. woah cool.
need i say more?
i figured you get the idea.

Chapter V.a

My freshman year was pretty normal. I was finally finding my place in the world. I was medicated beyond belief on Zoloft, Concerta and other medications. They made me feel like a complete zombie. I was bent on getting my grades up and doing something with my life. This was a second chance being handed to me. So yea.

My father had encouraged me to get involved with as many activities as possible. I was still depressed out of my mind. I wanted to kill myself. My parents continually reaffirmed their disappointment every time I messed up: Selfish, manipulative, egotistical. All the like. I truly thought I was ugly. Flawed. Around this time I also started getting the occasional pimple. Pimple were always killers to the self esteem. Our self image has a huge in self esteem.

My

Chapter V.d.vi.1.a

November 24th was the beginning of a hell of a night.
It started with a bottle… a bottle of Europes finest…Absinthe.
My illustrious adventures began with the first bitter… and quite overpowering… sip of the “Green Fairy”. (Let me note that absinthe is far from palatable… save anything after your first three drinks ofcourse… at that point you hardly taste anything at all…) After the first drink… followed up by 4 others… i found myself in an invigorated… lively… state of mind… not drunk whatsoever might i add… but more… enlightened… my bones felt stronger… i had reason… and there was a clearness that draped over my body. Over a period of several hours.. with my two close friends… we slipped into our “absinthical” state of minds and enjoyed the wee hours of the morn. and i mean WEE. like 300 AM wee. We mixed the 140 proof liquor (absinthe) with other parts and ingredients that are recommended to help induce a more pleasureable experience…. and to sweeten and lullify the harsh bitter,herbal taste of this exotic drink. Around 1:30 ish… i go online.. and inspect my buddylist… i talk to random ppl… who are also quite intoxicated… and write random messages and emails to ppl. (very intelligle i must add. I suprised myself at my conherent sentences and writing abilities.. even at the state i did reach.)
one of the friends left. *pout*. but by chance we picked up one more. who left after a thirty minute roundabout and a stop at the only convenient store open. Walgreens. (a stores not convenient when they arent open… so i thank walgreens so staying true to thier covenient store heritage). So friend number 3 is tired and me and friend number one are not. so number 3 goes home. *pout once more*
so im left with a jeep. My closest friend… and…accomplice and Five quite powerful drinks flowing throughout my body. first. lets do the math.
Powerful all terrain vehicle that can smash through anything and ride over everything. CHECK. A friend who can coax and encourage bahavior you might not otherwise do by yourself becuase its foolish, but do it because they make you confident in your abilities to survive and conquer anything. Even Death. CHECK. A Foriegn pyschedelic liquor that serverly depresses the majority of your inhibitions and opens your mind in a way that you never thought possible. CHECK
Jeep Friend Foreign liquor= TROUBLE (aka hello fun)
sOOO…..
we decide to go off roading. And i mean. Off roading. we didnt use roads.. oh no. roads are overplayed. everyone uses roads. not us.
Hm… bushes.. no problem. “i don’t wanna turn around. lets go through a yard to get to that road” “it says DO NO ENTER. Lets check it out.” ETC.,
We traveled… many many hours in the jeep. everywhere. jupiter is no mystery to me any longer. Actually. South florida in general.anyway… continuing along….
545 in the morning. Driving through a hello-big field. driving over hello-big mounds of dirt and debris… fun… well..
i just get done goin over a giant pile and… i go to switch gears.. but my clutch doesnt work. so im like. wtf. i pop it into neutral. fiddle with it. im at my wits end… and scared. my precious bulldog of a jeep is servely injured. my friend jumps on it and does his best to figure it out. we are in the middle of a field of dirt/ mud/ valleys/ mounds… offroad paradise. with a jeep. that doesnt work.
im not even gonna tell you what i was thinking. but i put it in first and started the car in first whilst giving it gas. IT MOVED AND WE WERE OFF. my friend was standing and watching as i was driving off yelling to him” im not stopping you better run and jump in” so… he skidattled his way after me and jumped in. whatev. The ride home was very… scary. We could not stop in fear of not starting again. so….we get home in like 1st gear. check it out. some hydraulic line from the clutch to the transmission is BROKE. cracked. over worn. whatever. so. im fucked.
630 in the morning. im like… uh i need to go home.. i go home.. i havent checked in with my rents all night. i set myself up for trouble. i walk in the house 630 in the morn. and who do i see. my father. yes. my. militeristic christian moral father. and im not even gonna tell you what ge said to me. but it wasnt healthy. not at all. i was tired and it didnt matter. my jeep was broke. poo.

Chapter V.d.vi.1.b

I laid there, awake. My eyes felt heavy and my thoughts were still fuzzy. The fan circulated cool air over my naked body. I felt dehydrated. Ever since I moved to Florida, where it’s 80 plus even at night, I found myself waking up with my clothes torn off. Behind my eye lids I could tell it was bright. I cracked them to inspect the room only to be met with a blinding burn. They remained closed. I thought about the previous night, or what I could. My body felt sore and my stomach felt upset and nauseas. I wanted to curl up into a ball. Instead I tried to forget about the pain. I rolled over on my side and rubbed my eyes. I could smell the lingering smoke on the tips of my finger. I thought about the cigarettes I smoked last night. Chain smoked. Packs. It made me all the more nauseas. I cleared my throat and began coughing, releasing phlegm and a thick mucus, probably mixed with rotten tar and chemicals, into my mouth.

I don’t know when I decided to get up but I know it was late. Probably the early afternoon. I didn’t bother to look at the clock. I walked to the bathroom and relieved myself. It was an awful feeling. Like releasing the demons the infiltrated me the night before. I stripped and looked at myself in the mirror. Skinny. Bony. ‘I’m losing weight.’ I thought to myself. ‘Not worried about it. I can pull it off.’. Like that was good justification for the abuse and lack of attention to health. I looked like shit. I took my shower and got dressed for the day, looking through my cell phone and trying to compile the events of the night before. I got wasted. Pretty high. I think I took a xanax bar or two. It was 2:30pm when I walked out the door.

The air was hot, humid and sticky. It felt like I was swimming in it. I jumped on my pink skateboard and called Jerry for weed. I’m not big into smoking; only when I’m bored and start thinking about how shitty everything is. I got the number of his friend so I gave him a call and we arranged to meet up. I forgot to ask for his name. Oh well. It was in a close neighborhood, not a bad skating distance. I continued to think about the night before. It’s Saturday today, last night was Friday. I don’t think I’ve gone for a full school day in some time. I started thinking about how school was going. It made me cringe inside. I started feeling discouraged. ‘Fuck it. I’m not built for school. My mind doesn’t have the attention span for the classes. Why do something if I don’t know why I’m doing it? Or if I don’t care? It’s a waste of time and energy.’ I continued these thoughts as I cruised down the street.
Jared. I remembered his name. I rolled up to his street and saw him walking towards me. We greeted like old friends, exchanging the handshake and half hug. He was sorta ‘ghetto’ but maintained a cool surfer/skater edge. I don’t even know.
We talked as we caught up about random bullshit. He gets excited as he starts telling me about his week.

“So bro, earlier this week it was soo crazy. I almost died. yea. I almost died. No joke it was crazyyy. So check it out. I was in school and the school police officer was checking my locker between classes and I had painkillers in my sock so I dipped to the bathroom and sorta freaked out. I just popped like eight percocets. I was in class like drooling. Callin out and talkin shit to the teacher. Haha. It was so funny. I was tellin big black kids to shut the fuck up, tellin my teacher to suck it. I was sooo fucked up.”

I thought about everything he was saying. It was surreal, his excited mannerisms that indicted his exuberant excitement of an experience that he, most likely, barely lived to tell about.

“So like after school I was so messed up I couldn’t even see straight. I was walking and everything seemed far away. So I remember walking to a bus stop and there was a lady and I walked up to her and just stared at her. Haha. She asked me if I was alright and I just stared. The crazy part was it started raining and I just lied down on the ground and passed out. Yup. Straight up just passed out on the curb, traffic going by, this lady staring at me. I woke with an ambulance there and I was in a stretcher and again I woke up in a wheel chair at the hospital. They said I was sitting there in the rain throwing up on the ground. It was sooo crazy, scary, but I think that’s most I’ve ever been fucked up! It felt sooo good though!”

I was entertained at this aim of being extremely ‘fucked’ up’. Like it was living on the edge. I knew it was stupid, but it seemed appealing. Seemingly satisfying to think about the possibility of not feeling, yet feeling so good. I enthusiastically explained my adventure the night before. Something I barely could make out, but had done it enough times to make up a pretty probable scenario for us to both laugh and kid about. We walked to the corner of the park where we exchanged money casually. Almost simultaneously a white Cadillac creeped around the block in our direction. Tinted windows and gaudy gold rims. Probably our drug dealer. I laughed at the quaint stereo-type. He told me he’d be back. The car pulled up, he hopped in and took off down the street. I sparked a cigarette and walked to a bench a little ways away with a nice awning for shade. I sat down, placing my face in my hands. I rubbed my scruffy unshaven face, running my fingers through my hair. It was long. I liked it long. I felt weathered, seasoned, experienced. I scratched my scalp and looked to the sky. It was gorgeous out. Never mind the heat. The sunshine was worth it. The palm trees, the birds gracefully catching the heat thermals enabling them to effortlessly float high above.
I picked splinters in the picnic table with anxiousness. Would he fuck me over?As I thought this I looked up to see him walking in my direction, a wide smile sat under his glasses.
“You smoke?”
“Dude- this bud it dope. He had blunts rolled and we sparked one up and just blazed. I hit that shit so hard.”

I was a little jealous but I knew I was getting high soon. I didn’t feel like splitting the weed up, figured I’d smoke it in a few hours anyway, so I suggested he just hold onto it. He pulled out his bowl, packed it, and handed it to me. I sparked it and took a huge rip, holding it with my cheeks almost bursting.

I was high. At first a little high. Then very high. So high I couldn’t think. I actually hated this feeling every time, but I enjoyed it over feeling sober with the cold facts of reality screaming me in the face. I don’t know where my parents were today. Then again I really didn’t care. We sat there for a good while before getting munchies and making our way to his house.

I grabbed my last share of a little weed nugget and said peace. I headed toward the direction of home. I wasn’t going home though. I got on my phone and made some calls, checking up to see what everyone was up to tonight, returning the phone calls of people I decided against talking to while I was stoned outta my mind. The sun was going down. It was getting darker. I was gonna get fucked up tonight. Drunk. Maybe some crazy shit if I’m lucky.”

Chapter V.ii.a

Holloween, October 31st, 2005. It happened to be on a Monday night this year.

I’ve been working at the Oakwood grill. I’ve met Jacob Scott, Jon Maclaughlin, and Patrick there. It’s a chill place. Fine dining. I look like a little penguin. I have extra cash to throw around, albeit not a lot. The past week I’ve been debaucherous.

I call Jon Escamilla.

Every night for the past week I’ve gotten sufficiently blacked out, and it definitely won’t stop tonight. I worked that morning. Slow day. Sat around and watched the news. They’re still bitching out the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Typical. I’ve got an uncontrollable urge inside me to let loose. I’ve been feeling so great lately. I’m still not sure what I’m doing with my life, but it’s the last thing that I’d like to think about.

Jon answers “Yooo. Whats up man?”
“Wud up broski. What’re you up to?”
‘Chillin at Sebs house. Waiting for you to call.What’re you up to?”
“I just got out of work! It’s time to get fuckin reaall! Holloween baby! Lets do something. Lets throw a party.”
“haha alright man. Well… let me pick you up and we’ll see whats up.”
“alright! Hurry the fuck up! Haha lets do this!’
“haha aight peace”

I hung up the phone. Whenever I talk to Jon I get excited. He’s got a ‘down for anything’ attitude. It doesn’t matter what it is, and it never has. He’s actually better behaved than I am, but that’s just because he’s not as creative. I put on a pair of camoflauge cargo shorts, and a grey t-shirt. I look in the mirror, inspecting my figure.

Bronzed. Long flowing blonde hair. Thank god. My hair is finally growing out. My grandmother died it black back in april. Because my hair is blonde, when it started growing out, I looked like I was balding. Although I wanted to preserve some of the length, it was impossible. We tried bleaching it out, but that just gave it an obnoxious orange tint. So we decided to chop it down until most of the orange was out and I still had of my hair at the same time. (Prom… Another story)

I adjusted my hair. I was thin, yet lean. Since we started work in August, Jacob and I had been working out the past several months. Previous workout routines were aimed to gain a greek god physique with layers of rippling muscle. This time I didn’t have the energy, nor the money, for such pursuits. We worked out in my garage with a faithful weight set my father had bought when he left the military.

I looked outside. It was late afternoon. At its zenith, the cerulean sky shown like the mid afternoon. It chromatically tampered at the horizon with subtle diffusions of purple, orange, and lustrous pink. The evening hours were approaching. I heard faint conversation in the kitchen. My room was my sanctuary.

My phone rang. It was Jon. I bolted out room, dropping a farewell to anyone listening. My parents pretty much gave up on me at this point. For the better.

Jon’s car pulls up as I close my door. He peers from across the passenger window with his usual shit-eating grin that stretch ear to ear. You can’t help but smile.
“Wuduuuup!” he drones with enthusiasm.

I slip into his car and greet him with equal enthusiasm. My thoughts are elsewhere; scheming for the night.
“Let’s do something tonight. We can’t waste tonight. Its holloween. Lets have a party” I am anxious and totally prepared to seize any opportunity for fun.
“Alright, lets do it” he says
“I’m serious dude, we need to let loose. Lets have the banger”
“Where are you thinking?”
“I don’t know. You wanna have a bonfire? Lets have a bonire!”
“I know where to get wood. We can pick up wooden pallets from Walmart.”
“Awesome. Whatever works. Finding wood won’t be a problem. I have my jeep, and we can call Phil to help out. You wanna have it at the beach? Or the farms? Or the figure eights?”
“Definitely the figure eights. Let’s start calling people.”

The figure eights was a piece of land that laid undeveloped after the massive housing bubble. Abacoa was one of those cutting edge towns that sprang up overnight, adding thousands of new cookie cutter homes and a primed, proper and asthetically pleasing neighborhood. Within the development of Abacoa there were several villages that sectioned the massive development into themes: Tuscany, Hamptons, etc etc. These themes catered to a specific mediterrenean or colonial or plantation look. Each village was limited with several different architechture styles and colors to keep it uniform. After the housing crisis, homes stopped being built over night and whole plots of land lay fallow, just waiting to be bulldozed. Entire communities were built surrounding this land. They stored supplies in some of the clearings, but it mostly became a place for locals to offroad and atv. It was probably close to a half square mile in size. The area had many of these off roading trails which I often frequented in drunken frenzies on my way home from the bars, or simply for off roading jeep fun. The figure eights were trails surrounded by thicker woods that looped and curved on top of each other, creating figure eights. Because it was relatively deep into the land, and hidden amongst considerable brush and trees, it provided the perfect cover for smoking drugs, or hanging out, or have bonfires.

We drove to the figure eights to scope it out, all the while calling friends and making plans. We concocted a plan to borrow, or steal, a keg shell from the local sports bar I use to work at downtown. They left their garage open on a routine basis. It offered a place by the back door for the smokers to sit, and easy access to disposing empty keg shells in storage. We pulled up and scoped it out. I was fearless. I knew people, I had worked there for like ever, and they wouldn’t even mind if I borrowed a keg shell anyway, right?

Jon popped his trunk and I opened the door and headed for the garage. A keg shell was conveniently sitting by the opening, probably acting as someones stool at one time. I snatched it up and threw it in the trunk in less than twenty seconds, and we were off. Excited as ever.

I had an acquaintance Tommy Copeland, a notorious rabblerouser and all around fun guy, who hung around town after high school. He was two years older than I and could get beer. We made phone calls and eventually got a hold of him. I ventured back to my house, grabbed my jeep, and went for pallets. I must’ve gotten ten or fifteen, making multiple trips.

When the time came around, we had called and texted every person we knew and announced our holloween bonfire bash. With only one keg, we were unprepared for the kind of crowd we would be drawing.

We filled the keg, gathered the troops, and posted up at the figure eights, music blaring and good vibrations. The crepuscular hours approached so we assembled and lit the fire.

We were having a great time. People started pulling up in droves. There was probably twenty cars parked along the trails leading to the fire. Every one was donned in their costumes: dirty Mexicans, etc etc

My good friend Brandon was there. Nick Cachetta rolled up with about five of his friends. I was at the keg, bonging a continuous supply of beer while Tommy Copeland made celebratory noises and manned the funnel. At this point we had gone through out second key. He was the tap regulator, ensuring that everyone had their beer and a good time, coaxing beer bongs out of people. Brendan Post nudged me on my shoulder and, with a serious and concerned look in his eye, told me that some kids were giving Brandon some trouble. No one fucks with my friends. There is one unwritten rule: do not mess with the helpless. Especially if they are my friends. If you fuck with me, that’s one thing. If you fuck with my friends, and they can’t or won’t stand up for themselves, either because they are broken people or they physically don’t have it in them, then I will take up the task, the duty, and show you how it feels to be a victim. On this night, I was in an incredibly rambunctious mood, feeling exuberant. When these words fell on my ears, I went into beast mode. This was my party. These were our friends. Everyone is having a great time. Who do you think you are to walk up and give people, my friends a problem? I assess the situation from a distance, eyeing up reactions as the two talk. I walk up aggressively and ask if there was a problem.

Nick Cachetta had a list of offenses toward my close friends and me. Within the past month, Nick asked to borrow brandon’s new skateboard while a group of people drank at the Jupiter Inlet. When Brandon asked for it back, Nick says that someone stole it. Brandon insisted he give it back, but he shrugged it off and told him tough shit. When I heard this, I told Brandon to stick up for himself, that you can’t let people walk on you. Brandon, being a passive creature, was always one to internalize and take the abuse rather than confront the offense and risk getting flustered. I convinced him to approach Nick and settle it by negotiation, or beating the shit out of him. After persuasion, Brandon decided he would do just that. On the night that he saw them, he confronted him on the lawn out front of a party. He confronted, Nick stepped up, so Brandon engaged. Now, nick isn’t the biggest guy, but he has older brothers. This primes a person for physical engagement. Brandon, being raised by a grandmother and mother, was less than aggressive. When they went at it, Brandon painfully was punched, wrestled and humiliated. He confessed his loss to me with disappointment and shame. Afterwards, it came to light that Nick was bragging about stealing brandons skateboard, and they when he confronted him about it, he beat him up. It sounds trivial, and it is, but there are principles and virtures at stake here.

On another occasion, I had divested and was night swimming in my underwear with a swath of my lady friends. This was a regular occurrence in florida where everyone had pools and the temperature hovered consistently above seventy. While I was swimming, Nick Cachetta was hanging around as an aquaintence to one of my close girl friends. My friend Gada came up to the pull and informed me that Nick had just gone through my wallet. Furious, I brewed in the pool, keeping an eye out. Nick passed and I got his attention.
‘Yo. I wanna talk’ I said, and motioned for him to approach the edge of the pool. I swam up and crossed my elbows on the lip. I invited him to squat down so we could see eye to eye.
“Someone told me you just went through my wallet. Is that true?”
“No. I didn’t do that.” His voice was flat. His eyes still. Concentrated. Aware.
“That’s funny,” I said “because that person is my good friend, and I trust them, and they said they saw you go through my wallet. Are you lying to me?”
He seemed to gain a rigidty. A hesitation gripped him.
“No” he steely replied.
“See, I don’t have a problem with people making mistakes or messing up. I mess up. We all mess up. What I have a problem with is people that continue to mess up, and don’t come clean. Those are the type of people that I have serious problems with, and who end up having serious problems because of me. If you fucked up, that’s fine, but you don’t want me to ask you again.” I was stern, cold, serious. My voice was domineering and parental. “Did you go through my wallet?”
“Yes” he squeaked out, looking like he wish he didn’t let it escape.
“Why did you lie to me?” He gave a half shrug. Our eyes were locked in engagement. “That’s fine. We’re cool. But if I ever catch you going through my stuff, or going through my friends stuff, or lying to me again, I will beat the living shit out of you. And you don’t want that. Is that understoof?”
“Yea. It’s cool.” He was a defeated animal. Angry, pent up, and broken. He got up and walked away, his ego damaged.

The holloween party was the first time I had seen him in many months. I watched Nick and Brandon from afar, assessing the situation. The crowds were ebbing and flowing, pulsating with energy and laughter and conversation. The fires warm glow painted everyones faces. My jeep, top down doors off, played music for the party. I saw Brandon’s gestures as he talked to Nick. Nick’s four buddies lurked directly behind him, like trained jackals. Brandon was on the defensive even now. Nick Cachetta’s posture was domineering. He looked down to Brandon from his inflated chest. He walked up to our party, and is being aggressive to my friends. I walked up to their conversation with a surge of confidence. My adrenaline pumped.
“What’s going on” I said curiously, “What’s the problem here?”
Brandon immediately turned to me: “No problem here. Everything’s cool.”
I look at Brandon, then at Nick. “Everything’s cool?” I said skeptically.
Brandon turned to Nick “We’re cool.”
Nick aggressively replied, “Damn right we’re cool.”
His tone and manner insisted that ‘damn right, you better believe we’re cool. I can walk up in this joint and its gonna be alright if I say so.’ I was taken aback, and looked Nick in the eye.
“You guys cool, huh? You think your cool” My adrenaline escalated. It was escalating with every utterance of the world cool. Cool? You’re cool? You steal my best friends shit, brag about beating him up, go through my wallet, lie about it, come to my party, and bully my friends, and you think you’re cool? With that I turned, took a few steps back, ripped off my shirt, walked up to him, and like a laser guided high speed projectile, sunk a flaming first into his face. His body stiffened and fell like a log. Everyone’s mouth dropped. I continued my onslaught, crawling over his body and punching with ferocity. His friends, shocked at the outcome, reacted and began throwing punches at me. My close friends took to action and fought along my side. Our offensive slowly pushed their crawling bodies into the bottleneck of the dark trail. Fists and bodies were swinging everywhere. At one point I saw my friend Jake swinging at the back of Brandon, who was swinging at Nick on the ground.

“Not him!” I yelled “Not him! He’s on our side!”
Jake stopped and looked at me, mid frenzy “Hah. Shit. My bad.”
I look to my left and stop an unknown person, “Him, get him!” With that Jake resumes with flying fists.
My friend Brendon post is seen winding up for long kicks to a crawling body. His boots are large like cinder blocks. Eventually they crawl and flee. We end the pursuit and return to the party like Viking heroes. Firsts in the air, we cheer our victory and drink heavily.

Not more than twenty minutes later, a voice is heard bellowing above the music: “Who hit my boy?” My eyes looked up at a massive man bearing a large two by fore. He approached the encampment. A red neck hat, camouflaged with a confederate flag, donned his head. He was about six foot eight, and well over three hundred pounds. A feeling gripped at my insides and pulled downward. My smile melted and the reality took hold that I could very well be severely beaten. Never mind. Ruling out the option to run, my mind began to prepare to fight.
“Who hit my boy?!” The voice was loud. Everyone turned their head in his direction and waited for something around.
“Where is he?” He paced into the crowd.
My friends began to walk in my direction. My friend Mike Carrano, a black belt martial artists, stopped in front of me and removed his shirt, exposing his thick chest hair. He put his hand on my shoulder and lifted his eyes to mine.
“I got your back,” he said. His eyes were saddened. It made me sad. They were large, and heavy. He then stood behind me. More friends began removing their shirts and piling behind me. At least I had support. I was ready for this.
The red neck continued yelling and probing the crowd. “Who hit my boy? If you don’t tell me, I’m gonna beat the hell out of all you people.”
When those words left his mouth, a ripple went through the crowd. It was an exciting ripple. A ripple that said, “Get a load of this guy. He’s gonna take all twenty five of us, is he?”
People from the party began yelling for him to drop the two by four. They began calling him a pussy and goading him to fight like a man. We all watched in utter surprisement when he tossed the two by four to the side. He continued taunting me, the adversary who hit his boy, to settle the matter. The next moment, a gangly friend of ours pops out of the crowd and snatches the two by four up before running away. My heart lightened. I turned to my friend with a renewed sense of courage. Now it was only a matter of time. I pounded my beer.

Someone came out of the crowd and stood face to face with the giant. It was my friend Tommy Rooney. Tommy was twenty five years old and an ex marine who served multiple tours in Irag and Afghanastan. He was barely five foot six and irish as hell. A full fledge rabble rouser and alcoholic with a ferocious temperament.

“You gonna fight all of us are you? How about you start me me?” Tommy stood face to face with the red neck, looking at him with a vertical stare upwards. The giant towered.
“What the fuck are you gonna do you fuckin leprechaun?” He pushed Tommy, hurling him to the ground. Tommy shot up and was in his face without a moments hesitation.
“What the fuck did you call me?” Their eyes were locked.
“You heard me, you fuckin leprechaun.”

At the moment the last syllable left his lips, Tommy flew into action with instantaneous speed. He leapt into the air, secured a headlock and, with his feet dangling, began unleashing an invisible flurry of punches at the giants face. The red neck didn’t know what hit him, and within seconds he fell to his knees and onto the ground. Like a scene from an epic Roman army surging into battle, every able bodied man and boy hurled themselves at the downed brute. They swarmed like ants, punching and kicking and pulling at the beast. The crowd became a whirlwind of moving bodies coming and going. I looked for the red neck but only saw a mound of people and their flailing arms and fists. Then it struck me: the red neck was under these people. I couldn’t believe my eyes. You could not even make out his body. They were crawling on him like an animal, on his back, jumping from cars onto him body. I only say the occasional color of his shirt. I wanted a piece. I walked up and tried to locate an opening. With my fist cocked and loaded, I struck with all my force. It absorbed into his belly. I decided that he was already done for. I looked around and my eyes caught sight of his friends. They stood a few paces from the entrance, trying to look as unassuming as possible. I locked eyes and walked toward them with mechanical deliberation, my steps firing like pistons. I gestured for back up and friends joined along side. The boy looked helpless. His black shirt matched the shadows he stood against. I squared up and unleased.

We drove the minions into the woods and returned to the bonfire where the giant was still enduring the beating. I catch sight of him crawling towards a car. People were continued to pummel his body with their limbs. I watched as he used the car to pull himself up. He rips the side mirror off and falls back down. I stood back and assessed the situation. It was mayhem. Mike Corrano flies into sight, poised like a martial artist in an arena. He lets out a “Hoowaaa!” similar to Bruce Lee. He maneuvers kicks and blows with disciplined precision. I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.

“Enough!” I turn back to the red neck. “Enough!” He throws his arms into the air. Shocked, I double take and focus in on his unrecognizable face. Coagulated blood and dirt stick to his face; his eyes are dark and soullessl; his body is painted in dark contusions. His cry was helpless and desperate. Everyone turned. They knew it was over. His condition was not a trophy, but a sickening repulsion. The red neck turned and stumbled into the woods. A minute later, the warriors gathered round and hooted and hollered. We had won. Victory was ours.

Who in their right mind would come into our party, a party with twenty five of my closest friends, and start a fight? What madness must you suffer from? Who on earth do you think you are? I always feel I have a responsibility to put them in their place.

Shortly thereafter word spreads that the red neck is seriously injured and has to be traumahawked, or flown via helicopter, to the hospital. Police were gathering at the entrance. I immedicately called for evacuation and wring up my friends. Thoroughly intoxicated, I grab the keg and hop into the jeep. People pile in on top of each other or hang on from the outside. I peel out and take off down the dirt trails. Music blares. I take a short cut home and make it to my house in less than two minutes.

My house is conveniently situated across from the community pool. I utilized it for pregame and post game meetups. I didn’t have the key, but we figured out a way to shake the gate in such a way that popped the lock free and open the gate. The group gathered, trickling in through the streets. We reflected on the events of the night. The alcohol sedated my senses. The joy came over us. We snapped pictures.
“Man that was awesome,” Brendan Post said, “I didn’t even get even get hit once.”
We looked at his enormous grin. What caught our eyes first was a series of severe bruises lined up on the middle of his forehead: knuckle marks.
“Dude you got punched right in the forehead!” I said.
We let out a burst of laughter.

Chapter IV.d.vi

It started with a bottle… a bottle of Europes finest…Absinthe.
My illustrious adventures began with the first bitter… and quite overpowering… sip of the “Green Fairy”. (Let me note that absinthe is far from palatable… save anything after your first three drinks ofcourse… at that point you hardly taste anything at all…) After the first drink… followed up by 4 others… i found myself in an invigorated… lively… state of mind… not drunk whatsoever might i add… but more… enlightened… my bones felt stronger… i had reason… and there was a clearness that draped over my body. Over a period of several hours.. with my two close friends… we slipped into our “absinthical” state of minds and enjoyed the wee hours of the morn. and i mean WEE. like 300 AM wee. We mixed the 140 proof liquor (absinthe) with other parts and ingredients that are recommended to help induce a more pleasureable experience…. and to sweeten and lullify the harsh bitter,herbal taste of this exotic drink. Around 1:30 ish… i go online.. and inspect my buddylist… i talk to random ppl… who are also quite intoxicated… and write random messages and emails to ppl. (very intelligle i must add. I suprised myself at my conherent sentences and writing abilities.. even at the state i did reach.)
one of the friends left. *pout*. but by chance we picked up one more. who left after a thirty minute roundabout and a stop at the only convenient store open. Walgreens. (a stores not convenient when they arent open… so i thank walgreens so staying true to thier covenient store heritage). So friend number 3 is tired and me and friend number one are not. so number 3 goes home. *pout once more*
so im left with a jeep. My closest friend… and…accomplice and Five quite powerful drinks flowing throughout my body. first. lets do the math.
Powerful all terrain vehicle that can smash through anything and ride over everything. CHECK. A friend who can coax and encourage bahavior you might not otherwise do by yourself becuase its foolish, but do it because they make you confident in your abilities to survive and conquer anything. Even Death. CHECK. A Foriegn pyschedelic liquor that serverly depresses the majority of your inhibitions and opens your mind in a way that you never thought possible. CHECK
Jeep Friend Foreign liquor= TROUBLE (aka hello fun)
sOOO…..
we decide to go off roading. And i mean. Off roading. we didnt use roads.. oh no. roads are overplayed. everyone uses roads. not us.
Hm… bushes.. no problem. “i don’t wanna turn around. lets go through a yard to get to that road” “it says DO NO ENTER. Lets check it out.” ETC.,
We traveled… many many hours in the jeep. everywhere. jupiter is no mystery to me any longer. Actually. South florida in general.anyway… continuing along….
545 in the morning. Driving through a hello-big field. driving over hello-big mounds of dirt and debris… fun… well..
i just get done goin over a giant pile and… i go to switch gears.. but my clutch doesnt work. so im like. wtf. i pop it into neutral. fiddle with it. im at my wits end… and scared. my precious bulldog of a jeep is servely injured. my friend jumps on it and does his best to figure it out. we are in the middle of a field of dirt/ mud/ valleys/ mounds… offroad paradise. with a jeep. that doesnt work.
im not even gonna tell you what i was thinking. but i put it in first and started the car in first whilst giving it gas. IT MOVED AND WE WERE OFF. my friend was standing and watching as i was driving off yelling to him” im not stopping you better run and jump in” so… he skidattled his way after me and jumped in. whatev. The ride home was very… scary. We could not stop in fear of not starting again. so….we get home in like 1st gear. check it out. some hydraulic line from the clutch to the transmission is BROKE. cracked. over worn. whatever. so. im fucked.
630 in the morning. im like… uh i need to go home.. i go home.. i havent checked in with my rents all night. i set myself up for trouble. i walk in the house 630 in the morn. and who do i see. my father. yes. my. militeristic christian moral father. and im not even gonna tell you what ge said to me. but it wasnt healthy. not at all. i was tired and it didnt matter. my jeep was broke. poo.
Chapter V.b.ii

Saturday, Oct 30th 2005. (With Jacob Scott Dino Bello, Brandon Satoren? (Tommy Copeland, maybe?) all the girls)
Titled: Kegs, out-of-control, 6 mile expeditions, more kegs, bonfires, off-roading is that it?
find a shell. take it.
keg, house party, women, beer pong, good friends, close friends, best friends, shitloads of liquer,singing songs, smoking joints, smoking bowls, watching eskimo samuri’s chopping the living hell out of everything. including all the red cups. 30 second keg stands. followed by two 2 second kegs stands. cops. oh no. empty the keg? oh no. heres the shell from last night. continue to drink until we realize its late. until we realize clocks are set back an hour. woot. party long and harder. listen to drunk girls try to sing. watching drunk girls lap dance all the drunk men with girlfriends at the party. watching drunk girls get shut down by the sober single guys. evade young drunk girls that want to lose their virginity. watching beer pong. watching drunk kids smoke cigarettes in motorcylce helmets. laughing. a lot. wrestleing. breaking glass with my hands. watching girls bathe in my blood. laughing about it. getting tired. hungry. decided it was a great idea to walk home. running, jumping, tripping, swimming, falling, 6miles miles later= pass out infront of my house. wake up from hunger. eat 100 burritos. almost. pass out. wake up at 6. still drunk. watch the sunrise. ask myself wtf am i doing awake at this hour. oh yea jakes got a date. considerate. pick up my jeep. drive home drunk. pass out until i sober up. wake with a smile on my face.

Same post, Sunday, October 30th 2005
what the hell are you gonna do on a sunday night? bonfire. keg. a lot of hurricane demolished wood. gasoline. 25 close friends. offroad. walk on burning embers. get loud. dance. listen to music. eat roasted marshmellows. watch drunk little girls try to make them without igniteing themselves aflame. go hardcore offroading. get stuck. get unstuck. hold on tight. launch girls and friends out of the back of the jeep. try and find them once i realize they arent there anymore. convince people that walking home at that hour and in that condition is not a good idea. take drunk people home. pass out. wake up with blisters on my feet and ash all over my body. look at my jeep and ask myself what the hell did you do last night. beer on the inside and out. half the forests leaves covering the inside. woah cool.
need i say more?
i figured you get the idea.

Chapter V.iii

Fuck the world. I worked at the Cheesecake factory all night. I called jesse up and secured a ten pack of beans, rolls, ecstasy. It’s Friday night. I’m gonna get fucked up. Jon and I get off work and meet up with Jesse.
Jesse ‘Bullshit’ Olsen. That’s the endearing title he’s earned for himself. A regular bullshitter who exaggerates the world to himself. He’s a swell guy with a great heart, but you gotta realize he’s a delusional creature. He moved from Michigan with his mother, sister and little broter around the same time I did. We happened to work at Pyro’s together. His father was a drug addict who lived in a trailer and worked at the ford motor factor. His mother was a beautiful half german, half Cherokee indian blonde woman who was a professional gold-digger, cashing in on desperate old men as a means to support her beloved children. Her current boyfriend happened to live in florida and made an offer to bring her kids to florida and away from the father’s negative influence.

We went to a party a few miles from my house. Girls were everywhere.

Jon came to my house. I got ready for the evening. John came over. Talked to the rents in the cordial manner them demanded. I’m sure they asked about his current spiritual with god, as well as his politics.

I got ready in my room. I grab him from the clutches of my parents and we hop in my jeep and roll to the party. I bougth ten rolls off Jesse earlier that day. On our way there was decided to get royally fucked up that night. It was Friday and we didn’t work till the next morning. Ten purple butterflies. I had tried them a week or two earlier. They were a bit speedy but definitely a good time. Jon and I popped one each on our way to the party. We phoned two girls earlier that we were talking to. My ex girlfriends friend Courtney Thornburg and a girl that Jon had been talking to at work. They were gonna meet us there.

When we arrived Courtney was already there. We drank a few beers and hung out. The ecstasy began to saturate our senses. A pleasureable anxiety began to fill me. My senses heightened. A smile wrapped around my face. The party was in a development complex characteristic of florida developments. It was a smaller house but contained a sizable outdoor patio perfect for outdoor gatherings. I wasn’t sure who’s house it was. From the looks of it it belong to someones parents. Nice furniture and accessories. The couches were white, something atypical and unwise for any young adult who indulges in partying.

I spoke with people. I was excited. I’m sure at that point it was more of the placebo than the actual ecstasy. My mannerisms were warm and enthusiastic. I sat on a couch and spectated. I just wanted to exist. People began swarming around me like moths to a flame. My energy was contagious. I flirted with Courtney and excited her desires. I confided that I was rolling and had another eight beans. I asked if she wanted to roll.
“I’ve never tried it. Is it good?”
“Is it good?” I replied. “Good isn’t the word. It’s indescribable pleasure and joy.”
“What’s it like?” She was skeptical but very interested.
“It is the best feeling you will ever experience for six hours. Everything is perfect. It’s like the moment before an orgasm, that climatic peak, for six hours. Your senses are sensitive and colors and sights and sounds almost touch you. Ever little sound or color or touch feels like an orgasm. You become one with the world.”
At this point the ecstasy began working on me. I felt flush, my eyes were dialted with elation.
“Really?” she said. “I doesn’t fuck you up? Like, put holes in your brain?”
“No way. Those are urban legends. If you get pure MDMA, so long as you don’t take too much, there is nothing to worry about. It’s when you get bad ecstasy that you have to worry.”
I recently read an article describing MDMA’s use in the 80’s as a therapy for post tramautic stress, bipolor, and depression. It was written by a few doctors and academics advocating for a reexamination of its medical applications. They insisted it was safe, and that all those stories about its harm were perpetuated our of fear due to its rapid popularity in the club scene soon after its release in the 80’s. Governments panicked and made is a class A illegal drug to clamp down on its recreational use. They claimed that the reports that supported its danger were flawed as a result of bad science, and insisted that it still has therapeutic potential.

Courtney smiled. “Alright I’ll try it. How do you do it?”
I knew the night was going to end up as a shit show. Ecstasy and sexy girls leave no room for anything but unbelievable memories.
I grabbed Jon and brought Courtney into the bathroom. Jon and I were feeling the affects of the ecstasy. We were on the incline of its potent pleasure.
“I wanna be on your level. How long till it takes affect?” She said
“Well we took ours like an hour ago. The quickest way to get it into your system is if you snort it or parachute it.”
“I don’t really wanna snort it. What’s parachuting?”
I explained its where you crush it up and put it into a piece of toilet paper and when you swallow it, it hits your stomache and releases all at once.
“I’ll do it with you” I said.
Jon asked for another. He promised he’d pay me back, like he always did. Although he was rarely good for it, he always made it up in other ways, like car rides and sharing his house when I needed it to crash after a long night.

I crushed up three pills and deposited them into a square of toilet paper and twisted off the ends. We cheered each other and dropped them down. We smiled and gave each other a nod. Good times were ahead.

Soon Jon’s girl got there. He persuaded her to do it with him and I gave him a bean. Soon time began unraveling and the world synthesized into a giant stream of euphoria. I felt at one with the world, with people, with music, with color. Everything opened up before my eyes. I talked an aweful lot and smiled and laughed. The girls began feeling it and were equally turned on. We sat on the couches as people migrated all around us, coming in and out of our world like little comets skimming along the periphery of our elated horizons. Soon it became too much. We needed to vegetate and talk alone. No one else was one our level.

INSERT EATING THE REST OF THE ECSTASY

We decided to head back to my place. My parents had left that night for Deland, FL to see my grandparents. My mothers father had agreed to housit for the weekend. He was in his sixties now. In his hayday he ownded a bar in fort myers. After my evangelical grandmother divorced him as a result of his irreligion he brought his two sons down there to work the bar with him while he had the time of his life banging young broads. Meanwhile my two uncles withered under the years of alcohol abuse and slowly succame to the demons of alcoholism. My oldest uncle was the worst, impregnating a crackhead waif that eventually gave birth to my cousin. He ended up living with us for eight years.
INSERT MORE

We went to my house. The air was filled with expectations. We knew what we were getting ourselves into. When we got to my house we decided to go out back. We were chain smoking cigarettes. Every puff was like throwing fuel on the fire. The cherry electrified, the smoke danced and swirled in majestic patterns like entwined spirits exhumed for the leaf. My eyes glazed.

We sat around the glass patio table. Jons girl was perched on his lap. They rubbed each other passionately. We spoke with varying excitement. Our voice vitiated the darkness and sliced through the silence.

Jon and his girl decided to go to the bathroom. Courtney and I stayed and talked some more. I’m not usually one to make big moves. And I was on three rolls of ecstasy. I was about to explode into the world, or dissolving like vapor into my surroundings.

We began touching eachother. She rubbed my head. I rubbed her back, her shoulders, her porcelain cheeks. Soft, smooth and delicate. I suggested that we go up to my room. She eagerly agreed like she had been waiting for me to ask.

I lead the way to my room while she trailed behind in hand. I set her gently down on the bed. I was gasping with feeling. I wanted to be on her. In her. I needed to rub and touch and suck and fuck. I wanted to roll around, rub her. God. I could barely stand it. We kissed and kissed. Eventually our clothes were off. Sweat began collecting on our foreheads and the small of our backs. Naked, we rubbed each other, trying to merge our senses into one corporeal body.

We had sex for the next five hours. Jon and his girl were along side. We grabbed a mattress out of a nearby room and put it on the floor. The moaning and sucking filled the room like steam: thick, heavy and hott.

At one point Jon wanted to switch girls. Although I would have been open to the idea, I was particularly comfortable with Courtney. His girl wasn’t exactly the most attractive. Instead we compromised. We had they stand and lean over my bed, side by side. While we penetrated them they were ordered to make out. It was glorious.

Around seven in the morning the ecstasy was wearing off and we were coming down. Jon took his girl home. Courtney and I decided to take a shower where we resumed our sexual engagement. When we were finished we dried off before proceding to have more sex until I came all over her stomache.

I took her home. It was a surreal ride. I was sleep deprived. My mind felt empty. Just like my heart. The world loses a certain depth after a night of ecstasy binging and sex. There is no more color. It just is. Life just sits there as you peer at it.

Courtney was pretty spent herself. I asked how she was doing and she responded that she needed to sleep.

Chapter VI.v

How do you add value to something? How do you show others that something is valuable? How do you know if your efforts are going to be rewarded? How do you know you are happy? How do you know if you are sure? How do you know? Is there empirical data on things that attention more than others? Can this stuff be proven? Are instincts good or bad? How do we know?

Value. Who decides value? Who decides anything? This looking glass. I’m bored. Life is boring. School is boring. It’s so rudimentary. School is un-stimulating. Give me a challenge. Give me something worth figuring out. I guess I should be able to present and search out these challenges for myself. But then again… how can I -when I need college to get on with life- Have a degree so I can get a job and prove myself to society and the people who’ve read the books who got credit for them. What makes my endearing effort outside of the classroom any less reputable and meaningful? I want to know. I think about all the things I could be doing if there weren’t expectations. If I could set the bar. I wonder about the day I will do that. When I master the system and then say. Fuck the system. It’s a waste. It’s garbage. I recommend the books from yard sales and Amazon and I accept the late charges from the local library as opposed to the thousands of dollars thrown down on an education that certifies that you bought the books and you attended an hour or three a week. Fuck the system. Fuck the people in charge. Fuck the stifling. I want to learn damnit. Not out pace those around me and get reprimanded for it. Fuck them. I am bored. I AM FUCKING BORED. School bores me. I feel that I’m being stifled. I want new information and concepts and principles. I’m not a fuckin genius. but I swear to god I feel like I could be if I didn’t let myself buy into the perceptions that I need to be on pace with those around me. My zest far out weighs their pitiful excuse for effort. I can’t be around them. Their stench and lack of enthusiasm nauseates me. I want fresh challenges. I want NEW. I WANT FUCKING NEW. I want knowledge. I want practical knowledge in my pursuit for perfection. Damnit.

This fuckin system… the one i currently bought into…… i abide to the concept that it builds my character when I do things I don’t want to do. Yea. That little concept escaped me for the majority of my life. I went from one fad, from one search, from one concept, belief, understanding, obsession, love, passion to the next on a tri monthly basis it seemed. It marked me no further ahead of my peers in the end. I feel better for it. In a sense I feel damn better for it. They haven’t lived. Been a servant of their passions. Only others. They live for the expectations of others. Well I have no own answers. And I fuckin don’t want to waste time figuring out a system made to fix everyone else’s.

BUT. Here I am. A hypocrite. I worked the service industry unfailingly for a year and a half of my life. Unwavering in my discipline for hard work and consistency. I finished high school. I’m in college. And now. I feel. At this moment. Like I am negating my feelings. Those burning passions. Oh… I have but one that has fueled me in this pursuit. It is the passion for LEARNING. Fortunately learning is a passion that burns strongly in the face of understanding wants or needs or not. It burns on in the midst of trial and error. It progresses and never backs down.

And I am learning. I’m learning a lot. A fuckin hell of a lot. A lot of shit that I am lacking the ability to really find the value in. I see its application. It’s so fuckin trivial though. I have answers that are searing in my depths that are freaking out to be explored. But I delay. And I continue on with discipline. Like a programmed idiot. I get rewarded with little gold grades. A+ for effort. That wasn’t effort. That was minimal shit I just produced. I could’ve written a fuckin dissertation and actually learned something of value. Gotten to the bottom of it. But no. we’ll save that for fuckin the PHD students. Man. oh man.

So I spew some toxic relief. I loose focus when I do things that don’t appeal to my passions. I mean. Thank god I’ve got that niche for just learning for the shit’s sake of it. Because I mean…even figuring out a little gets me worked up. I just wish I could get off with some real learning. Some learning with some depth and breadth.

When I’m not stimulated my desire to produce at all drops well below normal and this is seen as a faulty inability to maintain par – par to the ‘rest’. FUCK THE REST. I am above the rest. And each individual is above them. Cause we’re fuckin individuals. I have no sympathy for people who don’t produce efforts that are constructive. I hate myself for it. I need constructive objectives. I’ve looked a lot of my life for things that were deconstructive. The first part of my life I’ve weeded these horrible conceptions-uprooting them, and after gathering some principles and values that produce genuine fruit for the effort, I planted them into my life. Now. I operate with these set of convictions. NEVER wavering. But I feel. I feel- now what I’m about to say isn’t necessarily logical(at first anyways)due to the fact that it is an intuitive feeling- but I feel… that I am doing this whole school thing… and it’s a waste of time. YES. It’s making me a better person. I am recognizing my potential. That’s great. But man. Like I said before. I feel that I’d be far better off searching for my answers without the formal rigidity and pace of society.
Chapter V.b.iv

A giddy anxiety ran over me. I was excited for the night. Last time I dropped was late spring.
The four of us exchanged our excitement towards the upcoming night. My parents would be home soon so I urged Alex to divi up the animal crackers.
“So you have 20 huh?”
“Yea but I’m trying to save some for later,” he said with a half smirk. “you gotta hold on to this shit when you get it.”
“bro. If you’re gonna trip you gotta make it worth it. One hit will give you a body high; Two hits is cool. Thats when you start getting some trails, some visuals. Thats when you can start havin fun. I’ve done two though and when you’re on it, you don’t wanna stop peaking. You always wish you took a few more. I’ll buy five off you?” I looked at him with a smile. He could tell I was up for a hell of a night. “Dude, do five with me.”
“bro”, he said with a laugh,”This is my first time.”
“Whatever dude. I wouldn’t tell you if I didn’t think you’d have the best time ever. And if your trippin with me. You know it’ll be the best time you can have.”
It didn’t take me long to convince him it was more than worth it. All I needed to do was get pumped about my adventures with lucy. Playing with lights. The visuals… spaceships… cotton candy plants. Fake plastic trees. Grass growing. Vines that come alive like curious little creatures.
It was liquid acid blotted on animal crackers. Pure. We split it up. I had five. Alex had five. Jon had three. Zac had three. Smiling, we held up our doses and looked each other in the eyes to bid each other fare well and safe travels to another world. With that we placed the crackers under our tongue, and waited. We waited until our saliva digested the crackers into a gooey dissolved paste, then we swallowed.
Thirty minutes later the excitement began to rise. I looked at the kitchen stove clock. It pulsated bright green: 8:30pm. The night was young. My parents would be home soon. I gathered the troops. We hooted and hollared out the door and into my jeep. Where were we going? The spot. The location was a mile or two into the woods where giant mountains of dirt lay next to sand dunes and glimmering pools of water. I had tripped many a time in these dark woods.
Music blaring, positive vibes flowing, we pulled along side the intercoastal and parked under the bridge. I checked the clock. It was rounding 9:00pm. My senses were heightened. An anxiety was brewing in my chest. I smiled, hard. So hard that a euphoria swept over my body and took my breath away as I stepped out of the car. When I opened my eyes my world was brighter, but farther away. Everyone piled out, water bottles in hand, and I locked the door. And so the night began.
Jon and Zac were trading their hopes for the night and Alex walked ahead as we made our way to an over grown path.
“I feel it; Its coming” I expectantly declared.
I took a step and the ground lit up. Another. It sent a bolt of white light pulsing throughout the ground. Every step I took the ground lit up like magic. I hooted and ran into the forest full sprint.
I could hear them shouting behind me, “Hey wait up. Where you going, I can’t see!”
I just smiled and ran. I felt like my limbs could carry me forever. It occurred that I felt covered. Covered in what? Am I feeling the lingering sensation of branches brushing past my body, or is this something else?” I slowed and begin feeling my limps and face, inspecting these sensations. My heart began to race uncontrollably as the thought swept over my: Spiders. My body convulsed as I flailed, trying to rid myself of the webs and any potential eight legged creature that found its way on my body. I was ‘freaking out’.
I could here the guys making their way through the prickly path, their feet crunching as they spoke amongst themselves in a confused tone. I calmed myself.
“Hey dude! don’t run up ahead we can’t see!”
“You guys scared?!?”, I gleefully remarked, almost to cover up my freight. “We can walk this part out, lets go”
We continued along the moonlit path as we hacked at the overgrowth and webs. I looked down and saw shadows moving. Are my eyes deceiving me? I focused intently and took a few more steps. The shadows scattered. What on earth? Before I could ask the question, it occurred to me: roaches. Big, juicy, fast roaches. Repulsive. I warned the guys and we quickened our pace, hopping over streams and eventually reaching a clearing.
Chapter V.c.i.5

i piss myself off. i don’t like drifting through life. i like having a drive. i like having motives. i like creating and energizing. whenever i find myself drifting i really get down.

recently i realized i don’t have a dream. my dads this motivational slash consultantant slash businessman slash a bunch of crap. anyway. he’s all about knowing what to do and doing it right. so ive recently become receptive to his methods seeing he’s always got where he wants to be and seeing how i never really get to where i wanna be i thought id be a good bit of sense to take his. anyway

we sat down and he started talking to me. and basically we were trying to figure out what i really want to live for, what my dreams are. what keeps me waking up, the thing that keeps me motivated and passionate. and for the damned of me i couldnt figure out what the hell my dreams were. i mean. what the fuck do i wanna do with myself. am i retarded. mike. what the F do you want from this life. i wanna help people. i wanna perfect my character to flawless…. and wait. as im saying these things i realize im afraid to say dreams that pop into my head. i have these fears that keep me from exploring the possibility of other dreams unexplored. i suppose i feel like im not qualified to have those dreams. maybe they arent something that people might approve of as being realistic. maybe i consider them unreal and they might change over night. ill tell you what. ive had this thing for writing. ive always wanted to be a writer. why? i suppose its an amazing tool that allows you to ultimately express oneself. hm. i dunno. maybe im catching on to something. ugh. what
the
fuck.

alright. this dream thing is gonna take me awhile to really unearth.

so like. the past week. lemme tell ya. its been pretty outta control. i mean. pretty outta control. ive really been loose on the whole drinking thing. most people (it seems to me anyway) don’t think its a huge thing to drink five days in a row. i mean. the sound of it sorta makes you wanna judge. but then again most people do this and don’t take the time to realize it. anyway anyway. i don’t like the fact that ive been drinking so much. ive been able to go to the gym despite this little detail, but ive noticed that my training progress has suffered as a result. im not making the gains i expected the last week. hm.

ive really excommunicated myself from a lot of people. ive become pretty picky as to whom i hang out. i guess for a lot of reasons. but who knows. maybe i don’t want to be influenced. maybe i just wanna pretect myself. maybe i would like to maintain my comfort level. i dunno. sometimes i consciously wanna lose my mind. ive done it so many times before. literally just given up on everything. myself people jobs school… and just reset my mind and become infatuated with rewriting my head with a routine and a mindset that allows me to express myself to the utmost farout creative level.

i really havent been feeling that great. its not that ive been feeling bad… im just going through the motions ive established for myself. i set up a routine for myself and now im just existing, constantly reminding myself that routine and discipline will teach me valuable lessons. but for some reason im beginning to doubt this train of thought and its very gloomy. i now find myself sort of lost and helpless. nevertheless i’ll remain sane and continue to seek alternative methods of satisfying my inner hunger for more. i need to regurgitate some verve in my life. id like to start thinking a bit more in depth and maybe a bit more abstractly once again. i abandoned that thinking awhile ago because no matter how soothing it was at the time to voice these revelations and discoveries, it made my life cluttered and too detailed to the point where i would begun questioning every thought and analyzing every detail. this made me a bit anxious. and my goal is life is to be anxiety free. that shit sucks. poop.

i am totally warped. i spent the past week in jersey. visiting old friends and rehashing old habits. Im totally over old habits. im sick to the stomach right now. i cannot stand anymore sickening monotany. i need some change in my head. im on this endless search for a pool that never wakes or trembles. i need everlasting tranquility in my head. im tired of cluttered space. i cant think straight. i don’t wanna be someone im not. and im tired of trying not to be offensive… or overly considerate to people. i need to just worry about being myself. ugh. i sat in the airport terminal for six hours today. i watched people and wrote in my journal. the people really made me think about where everyone was going. why. when. why. how. i pretended like i knew them and a fewtimes struck conversation. a lot of people. a lot of perspectives. a lot of realities. when i was all alone at the baggage claim, after everyone had deserted the area, i opened my eyes and took in my surroundings. the drafty terminal was deathly quiet. after abotu two hours of being all alone… except for the incessant rapping of my thoughts.. i decided to explore. upon passing some automatic sliding glass doors a chime sounded, followed by a pleasant voice “Hey! You look handsome today!” i paused midstride. wtf. i leaned back and listened again, not moving. a while later “Has anyone told you how great you look today!?”… backpack and luggage in hand, i stood there and soaked up about ten minutes worth of automated feel good responses. the airport actually has these.
whats this world coming to? we apparently don’t hear it enough.. and its so necessary to our wellbeing and happiness that we’ve installed them in probably the most unhappiest places of all.

cool. collected. creative. smart. calm. comfortable.

my sleep patterns have degraded the past week.. as well as my eating patterns.

i havent shaven in about a week.

marvelous. simply marvelous. i have indigestion of the heart. its rather uncomfortable. Im working towards a groove of happiness. i can almost taste its richness. i went out tonight. against my will. i went to a local bar. i had a few beers. i saw some people that made me smile. wretched cigarettes. its a habit that im still hunting. i thought i killed it.
i hate over analyzing. its pointless when you arent documenting your finds and logic. i feel useless when i sit there and analyze. a lot of good it does me. i forget it within a few days and so i repeat the process. taking it in.i deduct some logical assumptions. every now and then something monumental strikes me. i call them epiphanies. no longer do i sit around and wait for something to motivate me. i motivate myself through an altered train of thought. its a good thing. is that something you wait for? do you decide to have an epiphany? do you consciously realize that you in fact could change for the better? i suppose i wait for enough courage to test it out… rather than thinking through every possible scenario aka analyze somemore

Chapter VI.b

We piled in the Elevator. I was wasted. My arms hung around two beautiful girls. My world was breaking down in front of me. An older couple followed us in. I did my usual social routine and began conversing and wishing them a happy new year. The guy was tall and overweight. He looked a bit shady, but happy. The woman was in her thirties. She was blonde and petite. Everyone was wasted.

I forget what we talked about but he held up an eight ball. Pure cocaine. My world at that moment ceased to matter except to get high. I was magnetized. He caught me at my weakest. I didn’t really wanna go and he could tell. He coaxed me by offering a bump. The elevator arrived at their floor. Girls in arm, I followed into their apartment.

I don’t remember too much after that. I remember a lot of cocaine. I remember big lines. I remember these pretty girls with their powdered noses and big cute smiles. Thoughts of disgust continually crept into my frame of mind but the drug induced euphoria overpowered them.

An hour turns into two and its 3:30am. I politely thank them, shake hands and dismiss myself.

I know a girl is waiting for me. I take the elevator up a few floors and find the apartment.

Its dark, so I whisper for any friends. I spot a few bodies on the floor. I laugh to myself. Totally awake, totally high. I find her. I straddle her body and reach down to caress her face. She smiles and grabs my hand to hold it. Without a word she gets up and leads me into her room. There are people sleeping. She pushes them out of her bed and they land on the floor with a thud. There is no stir. funny. I strip down and crawl under the sheets. She holds me and rests. Before long we’re stroking each other and exchanging kisses. The cocaine has saturated my brain. I am in complete ecstasy. She nibbles on my ear. I obviously can’t take the tantalizing play so I take charge…

It was pretty much amazing. I obviously couldn’t pass out like she did, so I waited a good fifteen minutes until I hear a rhythmic breathing coming from her and slide out of bed. I look for my friends… They are gone, except one. He’s on the floor, pillows piled on his body in a weak attempt to garner some cover. I laugh to myself and wake him. Its around 6:00am.

I must have smoked a pack of cigarettes. I definitely consumed well over the harmful amount of alcohol and was totally sleep deprived. Despite all this, I manage to drive home with the help of the suns fresh morning rays.

Chapter VII

The tentacles of their gaze wrap around me. I look away to escape the entanglement. My thoughts are reluctant to turn with my head: they are transfixed on the motioning masses. Huddled in clusters, they divide themselves evenly throughout the room. Every so often bodies will detach and absorb into another cluster, near or far, like a firing neuron. They maintain a hum, a gentle hum, a hum that cackles and keeps the insipid look in their eyes alive. They pour more of the intoxicant down their throats, trying to consume it with coolness, not realizing it is them being consumed.
I avoid their eyes. I don’t want to stir their mind. I want to see them as they are: complacent automatons molded and shaped by self fulfilling events. A glint of metal whirrs above me and a cool malted fragrance mists the air and settles on my brow. It smacks against the wall with an empty crack. Deep cheer and laughter erupt from one of the clusters. A boy stands with his spine erect, like a conquering hero; a rapacious smile hangs on his face as glistening liquid drips off his lips and soaks into his curling facial hair. I watch as their dull eyes reflect admiration, but I cannot make out their praises. I examine the once whirring metal, now motionless on the ground: an empty beer can. A hole punctured in its lower quarter. Shot-gunning.
I force myself to look around. My eyes return. I do my best to maintain casual eye contact. Do they see the fear in me? Are they afraid it is I that sees the fear in them? I want to be alone, but I stay. I have roles to fulfill; people to please. I pull a smile across my face. I feel my lips tighten and mimic the expression of a voluptuary. I tell myself I am pleased. I continue to scan the room. Make eye contact. My lust admires the youthful figures shifting in front of me: Boys and girls, courting one another with self-conscious precision. They have practiced this routine, this dance, these gestures: The alluring batting eyes; the coy retreats that indicate bashful vulnerability. They beg to be swooned. To be noticed. They don’t want to be taken a fool. They are ready to play this game.
The boys stand tall, proud, chests out, chin erect, like adolescent steeds. Their loud gestures fill the room, sweeping motions, legs spread, trying their best to dominate as much space as possible.

Chapter : Spring 2012

Formal Weekend

The whirlwind.

This weekend I visited Panama City Beach, Florida for our fraternity’s formal weekend. I arrived Friday evening with the rambunctious excitement you’d expect anyone to have after an eight hour car ride. Drinking in the car a few hours prior to arriving certainly contributed to my enthusiasm. Unfortunately everyone had driven through the night the morning prior and participated in a full day of drinking on the beach, so they were exhausted and less than receptive to my springing excitement to start drinking, especially at two in the morning when we arrived. Exercising some judgment, I decided that I should restrain my passion and save my energy for the following day, which I deduced from prior experience would be both a long and exhausting extravaganza. So I passed out. I woke up around eleven a.m. on the pull out mattress as everyone filed out of the air conditioned caves. I rallied my date and immediately took six shots. I then visited my roommate’s hotel room and produced three hits of acid from my backpack. My one roommate and his date decided that they didn’t want me having all the fun, so we each took a hit. I began pounding beer. Miller High Life. We then gathered ourselves up, filled our coolers with all the necessary beverages and ancillary paraphernalia for a hard day’s drinking in the sun, and walked a mile to the beach. At this point I was beginning to feel numb and thoroughly intoxicated, despite only an hour’s worth of wakefulness. Rather than walk around a strip of beach front property, we made an executive decision to climb over a locked gate which, as things would have it, was covered in maple syrup, presumable to keep people from climbing over. The brothers acquired a generator and speakers, and permission from one of the beach front homes to use their outlets and beach yard to place them, and we began blasting music to commence the festivities. It was a gorgeous day. Hotter than hell and zero clouds. While I never black out, I do drink to the point where no memories have been reliably made to recall, and that was definitely the case that day. We drank and carried on for at least six hours under the Florida sun. The group began dispersing around six thirty and we were the last to walk back to our room, but not before I, in my deviantly responsible drunken state, cleaned the beach of trash, towels, and other belongings left for loss scattered in the sand.
Dinner was at seven thirty. I finished about twenty beers throughout the afternoon, in addition to countless shots. I was obliterated. Everyone made it to the chartered buses on time and we traveled a dozen miles to the catering hall. The trip felt like five minutes. I ate food. I drank beer. I watched a senior slide show. I may have lost my camera. At one point I wandered into the catering hall storage closet and grabbed six bottles of wine that I decided to deliver to tables throughout the room and, presumably stolen, everyone happily drank them. I gave my speech after my old pledge buddy. Everyone thought I was going to say something deep, and I had planned on producing a compelling narrative, but I did not want to give into satisfying everyones expectations, so I mostly rambled about how awesome the frat was, how drunk I was, how much I enjoyed being the center of attention when giving a speech, and then I stepped down, or I was forced to. Either way.
I ate a lot during dinner, consuming three chicken breasts that tasted like smoked cedar, and eating multiple portions of a potato cheese scallop casserole. I made sure I consumed the vegetables as well with the idea that I was somehow countering the intense abuse I was wrecking on my body. The ride back was even quicker than the ride there. I went to my room, got changed, met up with my room mates in their room, and looked around for fun. I talked to three black guys from New Orleans and I introduced myself. Coincidentally, they introduced themselves, in full seriousness, with the same name. All four of us. I almost thought it was a joke if it wasn’t for the friendly casual nature of the encounter and the seriousness with which they replied.

I received news that the seniors were gathering on the beach for the ceremonial get together where champagne and speeches poured forth, and sentimentality could be shared in appreciable company. I gathered some people and set out to find it, but I was far from coherent. I got distracted by the sight of a Domino’s and decided to order a pizza which I proceeded to carry with me to consume as we ventured towards the beach. Unfortunately we weren’t able to locate this gathering so we decided to return to the hotel to revel with the rest of the group.

I made phone calls and eventually found out that my room was apparently hosting the party. I returned, but not before gathering people along the way and doing my best to persuade a young security guard to join us. Out of professionalism he politely indicated that he was working but, as a result of my genuine interest in his company, he compromised and rode the elevator us with us, indulging in the pleasant vibes of our group’s intoxicated camaraderie. Upon returning to the room the party was in full swing, making my entrance pretty disorienting as I tried to reaffirm whether this was indeed my room. In my drunken haze I had consumed a stimulant that was just starting to work its way through my blood stream and I could feel the boost of energy swell over me and out of me in enthusiastic gab. I’m not sure where the night went really, but I was talking about everything with everyone, and I distinctly remember conversations revolving around philosophical thought and my reputation for “being deep” or “philosophical”, which I made a point to rebuff as nothing more than a natural result of being curious, and that everyone would be considered deep if only they were more curious. We also talked on more trivial matters, such as the habit of periodically shaving one’s body, which I argued was a habit that was no different than any other arbitrary hygiene dictated by social convention of the like we typically take for granted, such as cleaning your ears, or shaving your legs or armpit hair, or brushing and bleaching your teach, or haircuts, or tanning, and the other multitude of inane grooming procedures that signify a status of class and care.

I recall spending a lot of time of the porch, probably with an agenda to snag cigarettes and hits of the Maryjane circulating around. Whatever the reason for my preoccupation with the porch was, I don’t know, but I spent almost the entire evening out there, for better or worse. At one point I distinctly remember finding myself surprised that my alcohol consumption was increasing, rather than decreasing, and I decided to attribute the phenomenon it to the stimulant.

While on the porch I found myself in the company of a good girl friend whom I always admired. When we met she was young, a freshman, and in my mind naive, simply due to lack of experience. Due to my age I couldn’t reconcile the disparity in experience. But my attraction was definitely pronounced, specifically because of her exuberant personality that exuded an air of honest abandon, a happy casual disposition that seemed all too pleasant. The result of this disposition was an alluring mystique, a veneer that indicated there was more than meets the eye. She shared a curiosity for life that I equally cherished, and consequently chose to study philosophy which I, for obvious reasons, admired and revered. Whatever the case was, we talked on the porch, standing side by side and leaning on the balcony railing in tandem, staring into the evenings dark open air. In my haze I felt a rush of affection warm over. It was probably due to our conversations which, while I don’t remember the theme or details, I assume was genuinely thoughtful. I allowed my inhibitions to unhinge and embraced the attraction pulling my towards her. Those moments always contain the most bliss, a complete euphoric abandon. We kissed, and continued to kiss, and I yielded to the impulse to utterly absorb her presence, kissing and hugging with playful poise and affection. I explained that I hope she didn’t mind, but I was intensely attracted to her, and I couldn’t keep myself from indulging in the feeling. She didn’t mind in the slightest and reciprocated with equal fervor. Needless to say, we continued reveling on the porch, talking with our fellow drunkards, kissing and touching whenever the urge presented itself. It was humorous that, in the midst of sitting around in circle and conversing with others, discussing the nature of philosophy, its rule and duty, as well as the significance of etymology, we continued to kiss, blissfully unaware or unconcerned with appropriate conventions. Our interlocutors would interject that, if we wanted, they would leave so that we could continue doing our thing, but I was totally content sharing in the moment with everyone and that there was really no need to worry about any intrusion on their part. I was enjoying it all the same. It was comical really.
Eventually I decided I wanted to seek refuge in a bed with this girl. We ended up growing in knowledge. I was exhausted when I woke up. I felt like death. The ride home was pretty miserable. My date is an Adderall crack head and she consumed countless pills on the way home, which prompted dilatory rambling that I was not in the mood for. She was also a huge fan of Glee, musicals, country music, and acappella covers, all of which I disdain ad nauseum. I tolerated it, however, out of courtesy for her driving. But I felt like hell. Sweating, fevers. Our first meal we ate at Wafflehouse, which was mediocre, as expected, but appropriate hangover food nonetheless.

In Iowa the flood of 1993 overtook towns and cities as flooding devasted the state.

Notes

Her every cresting need.

An incredulous smile wanders over her lips.

LSD is like a surprise party you were told all about.You have a perfectly formed idea of what kinda party it is, you know all its minute details: where it’s at, whats gonna happen, who’s gonna be there. You are terribly excited. You cannot wait to be greeted by this surprise party. When the time approaches, you are prepared and ready. On your way to this party, you sneak up, quietly, tip-toeing, trying not to disrupt the beauty of your expectations. You are anticipating the glorious surprise, the thrill and approbation. But, at the last expecting moment, you feel an abrupt slap in the ass, totally throwing you into a bewildered, confused state. You turn to find happy, joyous, strange, alien guests cheering your arrival. You do not know this people, you do not know why they are looking at you with such enthusiasm. You don’t know whether to greet them with a smile and equal joy, or recoil in alarming fear. This is not what you expect. You were expecting a party, but this is not the party you thought you’d attend. These are strangers, unbeknownst to you. They seem like they are your friends, but there is a strangeness. Do I embrace their outstretch arms and party with them? Or do I attempt to run? Should I escape to the party I expected? Little do you know, in that moment, you have no choice as to what party you attend. The sooner you embrace it, the sooner you learn to appreciate it. Running from it is like running inward. You cannot escape yourself.

Anxiety

It’s electric trendrils grip at something beneath and inside you. It strangles and paralyzes the mind. Thoughts are on temporary leave, attending to the shock. You seek escape, but the conscientious pull brings you back.

1.696 quick post
I’m not happy with my lack of journaling lately. In fact, I’m not happy with my current all around lack of reflection. I have much homework and studying and so little time and energy to get it done. Here’s my brief update:

Tomorrow marks the third week of school. I’m taking 17 credit hours, working roughly 15 hours a week, developing a KLICK project that focuses on researching social entrepreneurship in third world countries, participating in Alternative Spring Break (ASB, community service work during spring break that includes service work and training throughout the semester), and I am pledging a fraternity- zeta beta tau.

That brings me to my next point. I have no life. Why? Well, I wasn’t planning on pledging and now that I am, my expectations and demands have skyrocketed. I have class or work from 8-330ish everyday. From 4-6 we clean the zbt house, 6-7 we eat together as a pledge class, 7-10 we have mandatory study hours, 10-12 we get hazed. We have to memorize copious amounts of information, not to mention running errands all day every day.

Anyway…

My classes are enjoyable so far… I suppose. I haven’t been spending as much time as I would like. I should be journaling every night. I need to practice better time management. By the end of the week I am completely exhausted- mentally, physically and emotionally. Why am I pledging you say?

Because at Vanderbilt, 50% of the school is greek, and if you aren’t involved, you are deprived access to those networks, relationships, and exposure. As sad as it is, the greek scene dominates the school. If you would like a social experience on any level beyond studying with a group of friends, getting wasted with hall mates, attending sports or theatrical events on campus, then the greek scene is your only avenue. It could be argued, of course, but I’m being realistic. The pain in the ass, however, is this bullshit 8-10 week pledging period where 19-21 year olds bitch me around because I’m a “pledge” or “New bitch”. Its all a game to me, really. And I know how to play games extremely well. When I say game, I mean its learning to abide by the myriad of social expectations and pressures until you are received as having a genuine and legitimate place as a “brother”. Initiation, whatever you wanna call it, is really a tradition of retribution passed down to each new pledge class, all in the name of brotherhood. I had no idea it would be so serious. And painful. And a pain in the ass. I figured we just worked and ran errands. Getting hazed by a bunch of kids younger than me is just a humbling pain in the ass.

I like to evaluate it as a psychological experiment. I’m not one of the 18 year old freshman in my pledge class desperately willing to perform fellatio for friends, booze, and women. I’m a 23 year old recovered addict who has indulged in more debacle and bacchanal gratifications than these kids will see in college. While they’re participating in the stereotypical greek life, doing the best they can to live up to the illusory images of what greek living should look like, I have run out of inspiration for such things. While kids were doing this in college with responsibilities, i was doing this as a bum, with no responsibilities. I could have a hangover for a month straight, getting high morning, noon, and night. There was no reason to preserve my brain cells. I took it to the extreme and I know what it leads to. Most of these children haven’t a clue. They manage to juggle academics and the occasional community service hours and boast about their valiant contributions as a member of the Vanderbilt community. That being said, the more I spend time with these kids, the more I love to appreciate them. All the seniors are a year or more younger than me. They have their cool card, checked out from the silly ‘sophomore’ activities of their past. They’re beyond that now, too cool. I laugh at myself because, shit, that’s what I do.

I have so much to say right now. About social animals. About people and how they function. Learning their ticks.

I will tell you something beyond value. We humans love people who make us feel good. Period. If you can do that through a smile, through genuine compliments (because we all know what is bullshit and manipulation and what isn’t… timeliness, accuracy, whether we think its true, whether that person has a stake in gaining your approval), or simply by your association. That last one always sticks out in my mind. If you exemplify the traits and characteristics that people admire and value in life, or simply think are cool and worthy, then simply your association with that person adds value to their life. Most people don’t come out and tell you they think highly of you, so you need to be keen to watch for their interest, otherwise they might grow resentful that you don’t give them the time or day. When this happens they put up walls. They get defensive. You need to make people feel good, feel that when they are around you their life has improved for that moment or simply thereafter. If you can do this, people will gravitate and orbit around you.

Anyway. I have much work I need to finish. I should write more often. I will write more often.

2010-01-24 11:50:00 Blink Uncategorized

1.697
I sometimes forget to go to sleep. Other times I forget to wake up. But I always remember to dream.

1.698 for–learn–ever.
In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Eric Hoffer

2010-02-01 02:24:00 Blink Uncategorized

1.699 eat it up.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams:

*********

I miss writing. I watched a seminar about this Chinese guy who overcame amazing feats. Feats involving no education from 14 years of age to his young adulthood… who went on to immigrate to America, get a Phd from MIT in laser physics and a MD from Harvard. He now is a world reknown eye surgeon whos developed ground breaking sight restoring transplants… for people with no eyeballs. His list of accomplishments is incredible (Dr. Ming Wang). He spoke on time management, time dilation, and using the most of the most precious and finite commodity that any lifetime possesses: time.

I want to become more of a person. I want to grow into my potential more fully. I want to focus on my goals, let my passions and drives take over, and blaze remarkable new successes for myself. No challenge is too great. With every challenge I shed the weight of weakness and allow success to become more apart of me.

I desire this. I want to change. I am dissatisfied with my lackadaisical attitude toward my current preoccupations. I need steadfast resolve that will lift my spirit with every waking moment and transport me into a perpetual moment of progress.

Its late… i’ve been getting 4-5 hours of sleep a night.

I’m taking 20th century continental philosophy. Pretty sure my professor is a lil crazy… or genius. I haven’t figured out which one.

We’re studying ‘reversals’. Thats right. It doesn’t mean anything to anyone at first… then you begin reading excerpts from Heidegger, Sartre, Derrida, Nietzsche, Levinaas, and a lil glimmer of this ‘reversal’ makes sense. just a lil.

Why do I say he’s crazy? Well… I could type out his anecdotes about driving down rural roads… glancing at barns… seeing tiered roofs… and having epiphanies where he realizes that he is not… only that he is…. which leads to the world glowing, or illuminating, so to speak, with new depth. We are not objects, we are processes. These words do no accurately describe this phase. That is what we are studying.

alright… so that doesn’t make much sense. I know. But in class tuesday he had purple mother of pearl nail paint on. That’s right. I could barely pay attention to the lecture.

So anyway… what we’re discussing in class is this ‘reversal’ that occurs when we try approaching the essence of ‘things’. Not just by words, which are tainted by inherited meaning and this whole subject-object relationship. The question: “what is a thing?” is central to our discussion. He tried illustrating this reversal by introducing the story of Copernicus. Prior to his theory, man was the center of everything. In many ways, we still think we are. Its so natural. There is us, then there is a world which revolves around us. Makes sense to think that the planets and sun revolve around us. But Copernicus introduced the idea that we revolve around the sun. Now that was unheard of… totally out of everything in our reality of the time… it took a massive ‘reversal’, a violent overturning of hierarchal meanings, in order to come up with such a theory.

That was one example. We are exploring this ‘phase’ that occurs when the ‘reversal’ takes place… when we crawl out of our conscious and subconscious framework that we employ to make sense of the world. We are trapped by it… and only when we throw it away, and totally ‘reverse’ the nature of these things, can we explore ‘things’ and their essence or nature, if thats what you can call it. See… even when I say essence or nature I create a fabricated metaphor used to replace the real meaning of what I’m trying to convey. I cannot possible know the audiences understanding of essence or metaphor, and if I did, it would still be constrained to their experiences with the words.

We use words to describe other words. Language is inadequate at getting to the bottom of what a ‘thing’ is because it never grasps a thing. It only introduces more words with more meanings in order to clarify the ‘thing’.

Anyway… this is along the lines of what I’ve gathered so far. It took like 4 classes before I had a clue what the hell we were talking about. Mostly because when I asked what we were trying to get at, he would say ‘nothing’. And I was like… oh. He said… “what is ‘nothing’? When we say there is a ‘thing’, and there is ‘nothing’, what do mean by ‘nothing’? You cannot make progress at understanding ‘nothing’. There is no where to get to.”

anyway… that’s along the lines… I don’t speak as eloquently… or rhetorically as Dr. David Wood does… but oh well. I’ll share my commentary on these new ideas as they come to me… or as time permits.

If you can fathom the power of that concept, all that is left for you to do is decide who you want to become: Then the world is yours.

Read the book: “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen. I am not speaking lightly when I say that we think our life into being. If you control what you put into your head, and decide what you put out, you will be the master of your destiny, the captain of your fate. You are the sum of all your thoughts- all the influences you acknowledge, knowingly or unknowingly. We are creatures of habit, in thought and action. Take control of your thoughts and you will control your life. Weed out the bad habits, the negative thoughts that strangle the good you seek to do. Plant thoughts that will lead you to your ideal life. Use discipline dwell on your thoughts and goals and plans as often as possible. Soon your thoughts and actions will become habit, and habit will in turn lead to a renewed character and a new life with new ease. We are what we think about all day long.

Where do these thoughts come from? Read the books written by the most successful of people and glean the thoughts that they held captive in their minds. They write books and are always eager to share their secrets, and yet there are so few that listen.

I have so much to say on this topic because it changed my life. thoughts are so powerful. So quiet and fleeting, yet they hold the key to this world man has constructed. it all began with thoughts.

1.706 Ménage à trois & Mardi Gras.
Busy. As usual. But I don’t need to write about it. Delineating my woes and weariness won’t improve my condition. Nor will it inspire my spirits or release the tension. It will exacerbate my tolerance, however, making it harder to endure.
ok I’ll stop now.

So. Brief update. Life has been busy. shoot. I said it. Its unavoidable. My mind is a flurry. My ADHD, or however you’d like to describe my desultory behaviors, has increased in severity. If one followed me for a day, they’d think I was a manic the way I switch tasks every 30 sec-5 min. Going from homework, to emails, to studying something else, to organizing this, to food, to cleaning, etc. I seriously need to get a handle on it. It all makes me dizzy… and inefficient. And I cannot afford inefficiency in my life.

Anyway.
I went to Mardi Gras. Anyone who hasn’t been there should go. its outrageous. So many parades… bars. Drinking. Debauchery. I had a threesome-ish. Borderline fivesome. Not sure how I feel about that. A few years ago I woulda felt guilty… probably wouldn’t have even went through with it. At this point in my life I have this mentality that involves working hard, making sacrifices now for rewards later, while allowing pleasurable indulgences whenever you can afford it. The catch is that these pleasures should not interfere or hinder your progress. That means, drugs are usually not a good idea. Ever, really. Unless in scintilla doses or on the rarest occasion. Partying for me is all good as long as its not habitual, or if it is, it does not violate progress. (Apart of progress is having respectable goals. High lofty and challenging. Something that requires you to dig and become something greater. Anything less is a complete disrespect for yourself)

Now, the sexual aspect. I was raised with Christian morals. Abstinence, etc, were sacred ideals. Early on I never jived with that. My parents went about it the wrong way: “Sex is bad” “Partying is bad” etc. Then I started growing up and I realized that this was false… and not only wasn’t it ‘bad’ but it felt good. I obviously went overboard and had to understand principle of moderation. Anyway… sex. Morality. Long story short I realized that we were the arbiters of our own morality. There may be principles, and in fact I believe there are, but there is no super natural being arbitrating these morals and passing out sentences and rewards, especially eternal ones.

Anyway. I was on Bourbon St at Patty O’s. Met a girl. Real cute. Went to vandy. Started talking. I was inebriated. I remember getting her number. Don’t remember much for a few hours… I think she left and I stumbled around with friends in celebration. Round 9 or 10 ish we get in touch. Somehow meet up. Hang out all night at Patty O’s with some friends. Start hooking up. Her friends sit down. These two girls start hooking up. I’m asked if I’m down for a orgy. I, with gentlemanly reservation, reply that I might be interested in such a thing. After all, these girls were cute… I think. At least one was. Next thing I know the girls are hooking up, I’m hooking up, three way kisses are ensuing. After that, not sure what happened. I must’ve blacked out again. I remember being by myself and randomly finding this girl again. I expressed my desire for coitus. So we briskly walked back to her hotel, fighting the harsh wind and brutal cold. We arrived in her hotel room and I immediately began to disrobe, unveiling my resplendent naked physique. I’m not sure how long we were going at it but amidst the whirl of sexual passion, a piqued voice in the adjacent bed asked “What do you think you’re doing?” I turned my attention to the face protruding from the blankets and casually replied “Having sex. Come join” and continued with my sex magic. Without a moments hesitation, this girl leaped onto our bed and was staring up at me with eagerness in her eyes.

For obvious reasons, my maneuvers didn’t waver in the slightest and I resolutely continued my offensive, stripping their clothes off in what seemed like a single sweeping motion. As we continued groping and kissing and rubbing each other, a band of three strangers walked in the room. I could barely recall their reaction but I remember replying with the same casual indifference that we were having sex, and that they should join. Too preoccupied with the two ladies in my bed, I recall hearing joyous excitement and seeing more naked women in the background. A male was also with them. I was not interested in seeing him there, but my five second assessment was that he was not threat, and seeing how I was already invested there was nothing to worry about. Another naked girl jumps onto the bed. The girl on top of me begins making out with her, then gestures to us. We begin making out.

I’m not sure how long it lasted but lots of carnal knowledge ensued. At one point I hear from across the room that one of the girls that came in later just threw up. Then I hear from the other one that she ruined it. The guy is doing his best to get something goin on with these girls, but it was too late. Annoyed, they tell him to leave. He stumbles around the room for about 15 minutes looking for clothes before giving up and going back to the bed where the girls were fast asleep. Meanwhile, our bed maintained a steady level of energy until a mutual blanket of satisfaction swept over us and we slipped under the covers to sleep.

The next morning I was gleefully surprised that it wasn’t a dream. Then I began wishing it was because I couldn’t have that every day for the rest of my life. Oh well. Two naked bodies were nuzzled on either side of my body, cradled in my arms. The girls were up early. Music and chatty recollections of the past nights festivities and all its hilarity filled the room. I was shy. I met them early yesterday, but I was drunk for 12 hours straight so there were no concrete memories to draw from. A room full of strangers, pretty much. I wasn’t feeling so talkative, mostly because I was severely hungover, as well as in shock from the whole ordeal. I tried to muster smiles and laugh at their witty attempts to break the initial awkward realizations. The girls in my bed were in good spirits but equally quiet. At least they knew each other.

Anyway… I got a ride home from the random dude. He was a little disappointed. The girls made fun of him for failing. I felt bad. I also felt like a bad ass. I got back to home base at Tulane University where my frat bros were waiting. Everyone staggered in throughout the morning with smiles on their face, indications of mischievous fun and accomplishment.

They ask me how my night was and I, hesitating for fear of saying too much, reply ‘amazing’. They were like… ‘Oh! amazing huh?! do tell?”. I explained that I would later, but now wasn’t the time. Fifteen minutes later my friend hands me the phone with a smile on his face and explains that our other frat bro would like to talk to me. I get on the phone and hear, “is it true?”
I sheepishly respond, “Is what true?”
“Did you have a threesome?”
“Um… I guess. I thought this was suppose to be on the DL?”
Just then I hear girls in the back ground giggling and talking amongst themselves.
He replied “Fuck no its not on the DL. Everyones gonna know about this shit you lucky bastard. I can’t believe you. I am so jealous. That shit is awesome…” etc.

Anyway. He sent an email out to the whole frat so I’m receiving txt messages for the next day congratulating me.

1.707 Ménage à trois & Mardi Gras.
Busy. As usual. But I don’t need to write about it. Delineating my woes and weariness won’t improve my condition. Nor will it inspire my spirits or release the tension. It will exacerbate my tolerance, however, making it harder to endure.
ok I’ll stop now.

So. Brief update. Life has been busy. shoot. I said it. Its unavoidable. My mind is a flurry. My ADHD, or however you’d like to describe my desultory behaviors, has increased in severity. If one followed me for a day, they’d think I was a manic the way I switch tasks every 30 sec-5 min. Going from homework, to emails, to studying something else, to organizing this, to food, to cleaning, etc. I seriously need to get a handle on it. It all makes me dizzy… and inefficient. And I cannot afford inefficiency in my life.

Anyway.
I went to Mardi Gras. Anyone who hasn’t been there should go. its outrageous. So many parades… bars. Drinking. Debauchery. I had a threesome-ish. Borderline fivesome. Not sure how I feel about that. A few years ago I woulda felt guilty… probably wouldn’t have even went through with it. At this point in my life I have this mentality that involves working hard, making sacrifices now for rewards later, while allowing pleasurable indulgences whenever you can afford it. The catch is that these pleasures should not interfere or hinder your progress. That means, drugs are usually not a good idea. Ever, really. Unless in scintilla doses or on the rarest occasion. Partying for me is all good as long as its not habitual, or if it is, it does not violate progress. (Apart of progress is having respectable goals. High lofty and challenging. Something that requires you to dig and become something greater. Anything less is a complete disrespect for yourself)

Now, the sexual aspect. I was raised with Christian morals. Abstinence, etc, were sacred ideals. Early on I never jived with that. My parents went about it the wrong way: “Sex is bad” “Partying is bad” etc. Then I started growing up and I realized that this was false… and not only wasn’t it ‘bad’ but it felt good. I obviously went overboard and had to understand principle of moderation. Anyway… sex. Morality. Long story short I realized that we were the arbiters of our own morality. There may be principles, and in fact I believe there are, but there is no super natural being arbitrating these morals and passing out sentences and rewards, especially eternal ones.

Anyway. I was on Bourbon St at Patty O’s. Met a girl. Real cute. Went to vandy. Started talking. I was inebriated. I remember getting her number. Don’t remember much for a few hours… I think she left and I stumbled around with friends in celebration. Round 9 or 10 ish we get in touch. Somehow meet up. Hang out all night at Patty O’s with some friends. Start hooking up. Her friends sit down. These two girls start hooking up. I’m asked if I’m down for a orgy. I, with gentlemanly reservation, reply that I might be interested in such a thing. After all, these girls were cute… I think. At least one was. Next thing I know the girls are hooking up, I’m hooking up, three way kisses are ensuing. After that, not sure what happened. I must’ve blacked out again. I remember being by myself and randomly finding this girl again. I expressed my desire for coitus. So we briskly walked back to her hotel, fighting the harsh wind and brutal cold. We arrived in her hotel room and I immediately began to disrobe, unveiling my resplendent naked physique. I’m not sure how long we were going at it but amidst the whirl of sexual passion, a piqued voice in the adjacent bed asked “What do you think you’re doing?” I turned my attention to the face protruding from the blankets and casually replied “Having sex. Come join” and continued with my sex magic. Without a moments hesitation, this girl leaped onto our bed and was staring up at me with eagerness in her eyes.

For obvious reasons, my maneuvers didn’t waver in the slightest and I resolutely continued my offensive, stripping their clothes off in what seemed like a single sweeping motion. As we continued groping and kissing and rubbing each other, a band of three strangers walked in the room. I could barely recall their reaction but I remember replying with the same casual indifference that we were having sex, and that they should join. Too preoccupied with the two ladies in my bed, I recall hearing joyous excitement and seeing more naked women in the background. A male was also with them. I was not interested in seeing him there, but my five second assessment was that he was not threat, and seeing how I was already invested there was nothing to worry about. Another naked girl jumps onto the bed. The girl on top of me begins making out with her, then gestures to us. We begin making out.

I’m not sure how long it lasted but lots of carnal knowledge ensued. At one point I hear from across the room that one of the girls that came in later just threw up. Then I hear from the other one that she ruined it. The guy is doing his best to get something goin on with these girls, but it was too late. Annoyed, they tell him to leave. He stumbles around the room for about 15 minutes looking for clothes before giving up and going back to the bed where the girls were fast asleep. Meanwhile, our bed maintained a steady level of energy until a mutual blanket of satisfaction swept over us and we slipped under the covers to sleep.

The next morning I was gleefully surprised that it wasn’t a dream. Then I began wishing it was because I couldn’t have that every day for the rest of my life. Oh well. Two naked bodies were nuzzled on either side of my body, cradled in my arms. The girls were up early. Music and chatty recollections of the past nights festivities and all its hilarity filled the room. I was shy. I met them early yesterday, but I was drunk for 12 hours straight so there were no concrete memories to draw from. A room full of strangers, pretty much. I wasn’t feeling so talkative, mostly because I was severely hungover, as well as in shock from the whole ordeal. I tried to muster smiles and laugh at their witty attempts to break the initial awkward realizations. The girls in my bed were in good spirits but equally quiet. At least they knew each other.

Anyway… I got a ride home from the random dude. He was a little disappointed. The girls made fun of him for failing. I felt bad. I also felt like a bad ass. I got back to home base at Tulane University where my frat bros were waiting. Everyone staggered in throughout the morning with smiles on their face, indications of mischievous fun and accomplishment.

They ask me how my night was and I, hesitating for fear of saying too much, reply ‘amazing’. They were like… ‘Oh! amazing huh?! do tell?”. I explained that I would later, but now wasn’t the time. Fifteen minutes later my friend hands me the phone with a smile on his face and explains that our other frat bro would like to talk to me. I get on the phone and hear, “is it true?”
I sheepishly respond, “Is what true?”
“Did you have a threesome?”
“Um… I guess. I thought this was suppose to be on the DL?”
Just then I hear girls in the back ground giggling and talking amongst themselves.
He replied “Fuck no its not on the DL. Everyones gonna know about this shit you lucky bastard. I can’t believe you. I am so jealous. That shit is awesome…” etc.

Anyway. He sent an email out to the whole frat so I’m receiving txt messages for the next three hours congratulating me.

******

Long story short… I remember liking the initial girl upon meeting her. I remember she was blonde, blue eyes, attractive smile, and charming. I almost wish I devoted my attention to her and not the ménage à trois. I almost feel like I could have had something. Why do I say that? Because A, I hear that she doesn’t ever have sex. B. I remember a lotta chemistry. and C. People keep telling me I should follow up with her… like there’s something goin on that I don’t know about. Like she likes me, or something. She is friends with many of the fraternity brothers. Then again, I was shit housed. She was drunk. I met her like 8 hours before copulating. and she willingly, and encouraged, a threesome/ orgy. So. Yea. Which is why… I have zero plans talking to this girl. Until, of course, we meet again and I’m sure that those feelings and chemistry were genuine and not products of a horny drunken stupor.

**
Anyway… I need to finish this philosophy essay on Levinas and Ethics as First Philosophy.

1.709 Naked Mid-terms
Before I start, I want to openly confess my love for the nude. Yes. Clothes are over rated. And, if it wasn’t such a social stigma riddled with culpable reservations, or in some cases just illegal, I would divest myself without scruple, or at least whenever the urge commenced to flower. My room temperature hangs perpetually in the 80’s so that when chance would have these urges overcome me, there is not a moments hesitation as to what to do. After showers I find myself too lazy to get dressed so I simply lounge about languidly in my towel. Nude is my preferred state of being. Its liberating and, as long as the conditions are opportune, very comfortable. I’m sensitive to the cold… which is why I think winters best bear earthly semblance to purgatory, in all its excruciatingly dull and pallid glory.

This brings me to another point. I’m reading an essay written by Derrida called “Animal Philosophy”. The essay begins by introducing an anecdote where Derrida encounters the gaze of his cat whilst in the nude. This invoked feelings of shame in Derrida. But why? Animals cannot be nude. Nude is a ‘technic’, a construction revolving around the feelings of shame. These feelings are due to our vulnerability to objectification by the alterity– or otherness. But where doest this shame originate? How is it justified? Certainly the cat feels no shame, for it is not in the nude. (cont later)

Regarding my continental philosophy essay exam: I’m nervous about delving into the questions head first because the subjects of deconstructionism and reversals and the phenomenological method are a bit dispiriting. I’m not sure why I’m experiencing this anxiety really. Perhaps its because I’m a little behind on the readings, and catching up is like taking trying to hew solid steal before its been heated for malleability. The understanding is resistant to the forces of change so quickly. Swift reading will simply not extrapolate the opaque strata of text. No. It must be experienced. Vicariously. It is the only way to form ideas about questions like: Can we speak of morality after the failure morality? Of course, the question that Levinass’ poses is in regards to the face of alterity. The face of the Others. The face, only encountered with humans, is authoritative and loving, and commands a political justification, separate from primary ethic. It is wholly distinct from knowledge, is fundamental.

And so the story goes… I will write more later.

1.710 Common Significance of Reversals and Deconstructionism.
Do reversals have a common significance?

At the moment, deconstructionism is the only method or paradigm that could even begin to grasp the illusive nature of these reversals. Derrida’s essay On Positions masterfully delineates the ‘general economy’ of deconstructionism.

These reversals present themselves as unique revelations. While the genres of each reversal are unique and wholly distinct from one another, there is a common thread that holds each of these experiences together. Whether our minds create the illusion of common significance through the innate classification of these experienced reversals, or if they really do contain a common significance that leave a potentiality for further exploration, I am not sure.

I do believe that there is legitimacy to these reversals. Deconstruction works to tease them out. As I have read over the readings I have developed a general idea of how these reversals behave. Derrida was right to say that when a reversal takes place, what is happening is a violent binary reaction between oppositions that overturn the signifier and the signified. What is created is a space within the system. Because this system is closed, this is the only option for creating new meaning, new space for exploration and new room for thought. It is when these oppositions meet that a momentary condensation expresses a coalescing visibility into the system, just before it clouds over again. This visibility, this seemingly new space that is created, allows for new shades of meaning to enter our periphery.

But what creates this binary reaction? What are the forces, or triggers, that power the overturning and create a reversal? What is the significance of this reversal after all? What it might go back to is the necessary conflict that occurs during the reversal. The temporary suspension of order involves a violent hierarchal exchange between the loci of power, representing a deeper expression of the non-intentionality detailed by Levinas in his Ethics as First Philosophy. This non-intentionality passively subsists beneath our cogito to supplement the intentional consciousness’ objectification of knowledge in the pre-reflective contemplative state. The-non-intentionality gives rise to the bad conscious as a means to assert itself through the expression of intentional thought. The resulting intentional thought posits itself through questions, which beg a response. Thus we are met with the responsibility of language.

Let us explore non-intentionality and the bad-conscious as it relates to reversal. The bad consciousness that arises from the aimlessness of the pre-reflective non-intentionality operates out of restlessness. It poses questions and demands a response. The intentionality is much less restless and much more controlled. The cogito directs this objectification of otherness to grasp for knowledge. But what happens when our conscious intentionality encounters the demands of the bad-conscious? Perhaps this is when a reversal is experienced. As we intentionally grasp about the otherness, we are preoccupied externally, leaving the non-reflective intentionality idle. While we willfully apply our intention to the objectification of things in an effort synthesize the alienating divide and construct our nests of knowledge, our bad-conscious simultaneously asserts itself in opposition. Our intention, turned outward, is surpassed from behind, so to speak, and momentarily overcome by the non-intentional bad-conscious so that we witness a sudden phenomenological change in scenery that disorients and delights, altering the landscape of the mind. The conflictual overturning lasts as long as the non-intentional is left demanding, and the intentionality is free to observe these demands objectively without weighing them reflectively. As soon as the experience is contemplated, the non-intentional pre-reflective withdrawals its assertions and demands and the reversal rights itself again.

It is in the opposing forces of intentionality and non-intentionality that we find a common significance of reversals. To examine the substance being reversed is to overlook the common significance of why the reversals occur across substances. All substances constitute otherness and are non-uniquely the same in that respect. They differ only in their present significance. As they drift to the peripheral margins of thought, the space they occupy in our mental landscape diminishes as our need to acquire knowledge of them through objectification wanes. It is only the intentional objectification of the other that the bad consciousness can assert itself through the expression of an intentional thought. It is this conflict that is presented as being commonly significant throughout the experienced reversals.

1.711 An account of a ‘reversal experience’.
Experiencing the Death of the Other is an experience that causes a massive reversal. The mind is not accustomed to fathom the permanence of death and the absence it introduces. Life and death are opposites that parallel white and black, full and empty, positive and negative, on and off. While we can objectively observe each of these phenomena and develop a metaphor delineating the nature of death, we can never experience death. Death is the end of experience, whereas life is the subjection to inescapable experience. What is death? When contemplating this question, our mind immediately grows stiff and our reason begins to voluntarily suspend.

The first real experience with death is when we encounter the Other. The clash of the subject object relationship creates a just relationship. While we desire to overcome this objectification, we simultaneously maintain a respect for the humanity that is mutually shared. When the Other dies, a piece of our humanity that is seen in him dies. This causes a crisis to our justification for being. We are helpless to objectify the Other and almost wish to be the subject of the Other again.

My first experience with death was when I was thirteen years old and my best friend committed suicide. The notion of Death pierced through the rational consciousness, forcing my puerile mind into an original reaction formation as an attempt to defend life through disbelief. His death was a threat to my life. It forced my mind to reestablish itself as living by considering what it meant to die

If one never contemplates death, one never confronts the reality of void. To live is to grow, flourish, think, reflect, act, feel, etc. These roughly encapsulate the metaphysics that the mental life contains. In this context life has forward momentum which makes room for hope. Hope is where our imaginative fantasies spawn to fill in the cracks of desperation, apprehension and angst that form when death appears.

Contemplating the consequences of death is analogous to holding your breath. We can willfully hold our breath until our bodies natural need for oxygen causes us to slip into unconsciousness. It is then our bodies natural processes take over to restore our condition. In the same way, death can only be contemplated for so long until our reason is suspended and is overrun by the innate processes that keep us living. It runs so contrary to human thought that our mind eventually manufactures delusions of fantastical after-lives in order to resume the ‘life’ is was designed to survive. The question of death is never resolved, however, but perpetually postponed. Currently, death is not something we need to confront on a regular basis. As long as the bodies are out of sight, we will never be forced to consider this void. Space is not the final frontier. Death is.

1.712 Language: The rise of thoughts.
Thoughts are the material in which we construct the working frameworks of the mind. It is through thoughts that we maintain a state of being. But what are thoughts? Philosophers since antiquity have attributed language, or the logos, as the material of thought. Heidegger said “Language is the house of Being. In its home man dwells. Those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of this home.” Surely there is much more to thoughts that language.

Language is simply a vehicle for expression. While we think in thoughts, we have been habituated from birth to utilize language in order to express our thoughts containing needs and desires. As a child we had thoughts but could not communicate. Children must develop language in order to adapt socially for survival. If man were not social, what need would there be for language? Language would be a nonexistent concept since communication would be nonexistent. Would we be animals? The social component is what gave rise to language. From an evolutionary position, this capacity for language became a necessity for survival, thus gradually developing into the sophisticated language capacities we use today. Is there an a priori that guides language? It seems that this a priori is a formal relation in which thoughts exist. If we objectively look at words, we see that they offer no direction, no rhyme or reasonable order. These relations are cultural inheritances.

Are thoughts reducible? Even thoughts are reducible to sensations, drives and feelings. These sensations are purely subjective, and one in the same with the mind, fully constituting your state of being. It is only when these feelings can be objectified and stratified that we can functionally gain control of our internal world. The objectification of sensations is what leads to the rise of language. As we become conditioned to the various sensations from varying standpoints we form distinctions.

Thoughts are simply markers, or words, we use to distinguish sensations. The interrelation of these markers prompts the creation of new sensations and leads to the fabrication of new markers. This phenomenon is what Derrida wrote on in his essay On Positions.

1.714 NOLA Spring Break 2010
Well, well, well.

Spring break was great. Probably the most enjoyable time I’ve had in a long while. I went on the Universities Alternative Spring Break program. Last fall I applied to do community service and/or research & learning at one of 36 locations around the world. I ended up in New Orleans (ironic), doing renovations on homes ravaged by hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The group I went with consisted of 12 students. No one knew anyone, but by the end of the week it was like I knew them for years. Every day from 9:00 to 300 we would do work on these homes by cleaning, scraping, sanding, painting, hanging drywall, etc. We did a lot of work. The organization we worked for was called OnSite. The trip took many interesting turns. Initially we were suppose to work with the St. Bernard Project in the ninth ward, but that fell through last minute due to a loss in our paperwork. The result was a scramble to find another site… and OnSite was the only place that was really a viable option.

Anyway… turned out they weren’t a legitimate non-profit… although they did do various sorts of community service throughout the area. The conditions were unsafe a good deal of the time, and there was a lack of overall professionalism. That is not to say, however, that the people running the program weren’t cool people. They had interesting stories and devoted their life (although its debatable whether it was by choice or not) to helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

For a community service trip we did a helluva lot as far as adventures go. We went to the aquarium with mentally handicap persons in conjunction with the best buddies program. We saw some traditional NOLA parades… beads and all. They actually were throwing vegetables during this parade… which was initially bizarre (in addition to the traditional beads, candy, cheap toys and…. ramen noodles?). I think we figured out that it was due to St. Patty’s day… and the vegetables were like for cheap soup and stuff… i dunno. (We ended up using the cabbage for wraps, potatoes for mashed potatoes, onions for tacos, and carrots for our salads). We visited downtown… went to the famed Cafe Du Monde, Bourbon street and Patty O’Brien’s for Dinner, visited a Bayou (although it was a little disappointing), went on a pic-nic, went to a famous New Orleans bar named Vaughn’s and listened to a renown jazz artist, and… did other things I’m sure. We ate great food, no doubt. Had all the traditional NOLA Cajun and French dishes.

The culture down in NOLA is incredible diverse… and I need to point out and stress how friendly and open everyone is. Its incredible. I’ve been to a lot of places but NOLA has a special vibe. Lots of different people from different walks of life converging in one small area. Its beautiful there too. The weather is like that of the Florida Gulf Coast… which is expected since its on the Gulf I suppose.

Every night that we didn’t go out for food we made home made dishes. It was a great experience. The Site Leaders lead a good deal of reflections.

At night two people would give their life map, which is essentially an oral autobiography. The life maps usually lasted 1-2 hours each. They really allowed us to open up to each other and learn things we never would have guessed.

I happened to give my story on the last day. My story straight up shocked people. They weren’t expecting someone who seemed so on top of it and ‘normal’. They said that it was surprising since I seemed just like one of them. Although I didn’t bear all, I came very close… and for times sake just included the important events. I wish I recored it so I could have transcribed it for my book. Oh well. The freshman girls in our group were spell bound with my story. They were all so innocent, coming from sheltered and privileged beginnings. They had never been exposed or even heard of some of my circumstances before. They were mostly shocked that I managed to overcome it all and end up at Vanderbilt, a rigorous top 20 school in the nation. They all were over achievers their whole lives.

Anyway… I think thats pretty much it. I’ll revise and update if I left anything out.

1.717 Memoir & Devoir
I’m writing my book. Its got me excited. I get these little bursts of creative inspiration where my life seems to coalesce into a singular story. During these times I begin to see how my story can be told. The outline is expanding. I was always shocked how authors managed to write five hundred plus pages. It seems like such a daunting task. Now that I’ve been working on my outline I find that I have well over 200 points to talk about… and if each of those points was about 3-4 pages long, I have myself a really long book. My initial approach will be to organize all the events. From these I plan to detail the experiences associated with those events. This is where I will retrieve info from all my journal entries. These detailing will be more factual. When I have all these stories together, I will begin weaving them together into an idiosyncratic autobiographical account. From there I will cultivate the prose and rhetoric expected from quality writing.

‘Stories’ or the notion of ‘story’ has been a frequent theme thats been cropping up in my day to day life. From narrative fictions, to tradition and history, to meaning, to context, etc. Stories play a powerful role in explaining the world around us, our relation to it, the truths that reside within it, and our feelings about it. There is no better way to communicate than through a story. This is why I’m inspired to tell mine. Although, its greatly unfinished. The older I become, the more perspective I have to contextualize all these life events. I fear, however, that with this age and perspective will come the loss of rawness I seek to convey.

I have work. Will write later.

***
I can say that I am not living up to my fullest potential at the moment in my life. I find myself met with some mental barriers that have caused me to settle for less than what I know is truly my best. I’ve made a commitment to myself to overcome this mental and emotional stagnation. This is my proclamation. I commitment to myself, to my integrity, to improve my work ethic, hold steadfast to the continual cultivation of my life’s vision, and seek to lead through example, so that every person I encounter has a brush with my passion for harnessing the unbridled potential that constitutes life and its possibilities.

1.721 …is but a…
Life is but a memory. A continuous stream of recollection. The present is a mere construct of the past, a simple illusion that grounds us. We are forever falling forward into the unknown. We claw about for fragmented reminders of this free fall, for past sensations that resonate with our privileged bag of anamnesis. We are the center of this universe. It is ours, and we alone are the keepers of its history. For man revolves around none but himself; no perspective but our own can be explored.

***
Unsure of my place. I want to produce. More thoughts, more convictions and passions. This restless struggle with idealism. The ideology that yearning for more, for productivity and creation, leads to reward, internal or external.

Sacrifice. I would like to cherish sacrifice. There is only so much time in a day. A finite amount of resources and energy to expend on any given thought or endeavor. Sacrifice. These are made when your roots of preoccupation have become entangled and risk strangling the breath of enterprise. Hack at the roots. Bisect yourself from the web of distraction. Sacrifice. An escape towards desire and its fulfillment, accompanied with disorienting estrangement, pain, and a lack of reassurance. No grounding to slow you down or hold you back. No more gripping assurance when the winds of doubt and currents of change buffet your course. Sacrifice was made and requires to be endured.

..

It is a wonder…

Despite being armed with the deftest faculties of reason, we are wary to relinquish the comforting notions of a moral curator and universal architect and brave the cold indifference that existential freedom bestows upon meaning and truth. We hesitate to open unknown doors, seeking the shackles of delusion before the responsibility of liberty. We fear the unknown, not because it is unknown to us, but because we are unknown to ourselves. Liberty and freedom are only known to the will, the mechanism of choice. Freedom propagates only more of what we are, exposing our ability to be, which terrifies. To be known to ourselves requires the responsibility of choice, and acceptance of who we are. Contrary to our fears, we are infinite.

Inactive freedom casts an ominous shadow, a think blanket of darkness, on potential. It bleeds the rivers of change and chokes the ground of growth. Never mind the stark realities; we are coddled by these chains, pacified by our delusions. We offer our will, our most sacred possession, as a living sacrifice for comfort and security. This is in the name of God- of truth. The irony is searing.

Say we undertake the yoke of freedom. While freedoms brilliancy illuminates ignorance and unveils truth, we are left obligated, forced to exist and bear the responsibility for that existence. We are an end in ourselves. Existence and being is now our affair. We are the intercessors of fate, the arbiters of potential, the beginning of essence. And to whom are we accountable? I, the self, freedom incarnated. But we are unknown to ourselves, the freedom and I. For just as we wearily shirk from the unknown, we shirk from the abysmal darkness within us, unknown and unexplored. From whence did we come? From whence will we go? Must I choose?

So the huddled masses congregate, feverishly maintaining the conception of an invisible, powerless God.

***************************************************************************

Thoughts…

Spirituality…
What does that mean? Pious and impious use the word to describe a transcendental mental attitude or world view.

Because I was indoctrinated at home from an early age, I didn’t convert to Christianity on my own volition, per se. I do remember moments in my religious walk where I renewed commitments to God and reaffirmed my belief. This caused an awakening within me which renewed me efforts to bridge the gap between ‘God’ and myself.

The process of conversion requires the displacement of ego in exchange for ‘God’s Will’. The very idea of displacing the self is a powerful and transformative experience. In Christianity, you’ll often hear the ‘testimonies’ of people coming to Christ and refer to the exchange of self for ‘God’s will’. I remember growing up hearing that we need to ‘die to self’ in order to lead a ‘God centered’ life.

But what, or who, is God? There is a spectrum of conceptions that evolve as we accrete understanding of ourselves, our world, and what/who ‘God’ might be. Generally, this evolution of mind correlates with an increased openness towards the world and a transcendent mental attitude- or spirituality- that allows us to see the interrelation of all things.

The first conception, and most primitive, is the anthropomorphized patriarch with a long gray beard seated at his throne in heaven- presumably located somewhere between the sky and space.

As our holistic understanding increases, we accept the irrationality of God existing as a literal being. Instead we adopt a God that can, as far as our current understanding will allow, rationally exist within the confines of reality and constraints of nature. This God is an invisible power that maintains a sentient and forcible will. This God is actively involved with the affairs of men. Actively believing and adhering to religious dogma- prayer, doing good works, following commandments, tithing, attending religious services- are all attempts to gain ‘God’s’ favor and align with his will.

I’ll postpone the discussion of how and why religious adherence and beliefs foster self-fulfilling prophecies for God’s existence due to naturally fundamental and beneficial principles within the doctrine.*

The next conception of God revolves around the congruency of belief and outcome. If one hopes to lay claim to being, one must familiarize with reality and the laws of nature. This inevitably exercises the powers of reason, which forces the mind to reconcile the irrefutable nature of statistical probability. Outcomes are determined through circumstance that only the actions of individuals or the mechanics of nature can induce. As a result, one comes to grips with changing outcomes by influencing or predicting God’s will. No amount of prayer will suspend gravity, solve global warming, prevent wars, or achieve any desired outcome without intervention.

At this point, a believer could easily transition into a Deist by maintaining the existence of an impersonal, yet Supreme Being. I’ll skip this for now.

The final conception is that God is a disassociated projection of the internal man. As self knowledge is garnered and ideals coalesce, we are left with the formation of the conscience. The conscience functions as a subliminal consciousness that reconciles actions with desired outcomes and what should be. Perhaps this is the voice of God; the Holy Spirit’s whispering convictions. Because mans thoughts and imaginings are not limited by the laws of nature and confines of reality, they are infinite. When mans ideals about what should be are misconstrued with what is, internal dissonance occurs. As a result, we must disassociate ourselves by objectifying our ideals. By projecting these ideals onto something or a figure outside of us, their value can be realized and sought after, without being tainted by our current limits. This inversion allows for the manifestation of ‘God’ as the sum of all that should be, a mere projection of the best of our, albeit limited, understandings.
Here is a complementary quote:
“Consciousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge, by his God thou knowest the man, and by the man his God; the two are identical. Whatever is God to a man, that is his heart and soul; and conversely, God is the manifested inward nature, the expressed self of a man– religion the solemn unveiling of a man’s hidden treasures, the revelation of his intimate thoughts, and the open confession of his love-secrets.” [Feuerbach]

There are two conversions that occur relating to God. From an atheist to a believer, and a believer to an atheist. Both produce massive reversals of mind that overturn entire frameworks for world view. I mentioned that the conversion to God involves a displacement of self. This is incredibly invigorating and, seemingly, liberating.

(Brief tangent: From my experience, most people that convert to God, especially later in age, do so in hopes of achieving a salvation. This salvation is from their pain, their emotional baggage. This is objectified as sin. People who experience conversions to God do so in order to relieve their state. Their previous beliefs in themselves, in their past, about life caused dissatisfaction. The delusion of God, however seemingly justified, is a scape goat for their suffering. It would be all the more fitting to say a lamb. What these people fail to realize is that suffering is a result of misaligned expectations. These misaligned expectations are a result of a lack or avoidance of responsibility. Freedom is terrifying. They cannot conceive who they want to be, so they remain as they are, unknown to themselves. These are the people that subscribe so desperately to various doctrines and beliefs of mainstream culture, never ‘thinking’ or willfully contemplating who they ought to be. This weakness, this ignorance, allows the will to atrophy as habituation and conditioning fully inundate.)

Back to the conversion to God…
The experience of conversion to God is liberating because the displacement of self with God. As we place our faith in a something outside of us, we are not left with the responsibility of changing our circumstances. Changing our circumstances requires the acknowledgment of certain limitations due to circumstance- in knowledge, emotion, or physicality. Instead, the conversion suspends choice and freedom in exchange for the belief in God (be it the manifestation of God as a projection of self-knowledge, or the interpretation of religious texts, or in between). The benefit for the conversion to God and displacement of self is baited with reward and possibility. Rewards generally concern an ideal afterlife, not tainted with earthly inadequacies. Possibility and empowerment is achieved as we align ourselves to Gods will. Of course these benefits vary precisely from religion to religion.

Many religious assert warnings that ‘idolatry’ and idol worship is ‘evil’. Who would worship inanimate objects? Anyone who seeks to displace the self.

Spirituality…

My conversion from a believer in God to a non-skeptical realist (essentially agnostic), was marked by a decision to seek understanding, dispel delusions, and eliminate self-deception. The process was slow and gradual, yet I retained a certain spirituality. I find that when many people are asked if religious, they reply that they are spiritual. I responded similarly.

As far as I was concerned, spirituality was the residue of my faith in God. God represented possibility. Recall: “In Christ all things are possible” etc. The conversion to God opens one up to possibility by suspending limited beliefs and opening the mind to possibility. Spirituality is faith in possibility. Conversion away from God can leave the faith in possibility intact.

Spirituality exists on a wide spectrum among religious and irreligious alike.

Some people join religions because they recognize the value in certain universal principles of good within the doctrine, while others seek the escape from responsibility of self that it brings.

Pretty burnt out from writing. Not sure this makes sense. We’ll see when I go back to reread it later. pzz.

***************************************************************

*Religious beliefs cause a variety of psychological effects: Confirmation bias (Biases influence interpretation of Positive feedback to be used as evidence for maintaining and confirming biases and reinforcing pre-existing beliefs- aka, I prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and its sunny out, therefore God answered my prayer, or I prayed that God would cure my aunt of cancer and she survived, so God is real), Hawthorne effect (Awareness that you are being observed influences your behavior- aka, knowing people look at/treat you as a Christian example causes you to maintain Christian behaviors),Pygmalion effect (Aware of higher expectations lead to high performance- aka God is watching leads to more mindfulness, better behavior), Stereotype threat (when facing a disruptive concern, we evaluate based on negative stereotypes)- aka Anyone who is not a Christian is a sinner and evil, so when bad things happen its because of non-Christians), etc., etc.

*******************

It is much easier to keep the ball rolling than start the ball rolling.

Get into action… know who you are, and you will suddenly realize what you are to do.

gnostic atheism christianity god jesus philosophy religion spirituality Uncategorized

1.723 Self-discipline
Inspiration:
“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” -Plato

“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set. This is true of earthly as of heavenly things. Even the man whose object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well-poised life.” James Allen

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” -Horace

“Well begun is half done.” -Aristotle

“You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself.” – Jim Whittaker

“Beware of endeavoring to become a great man in a hurry. One such attempt in ten thousand may succeed. These are fearful odds.” —Benjamin Disraeli

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” — Thomas á Kempis

2010-04-01 12:01:00 Blink Uncategorized

1.724 Self-law.

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What is autonomy? (Auto-: Self; Nomos:-Law/Regulation/Custom)

Does free will exist, or are we governed by deterministic mechanical processes?
If free will exists, it must be reconciled with determinism. There is a need for the clarifying the limitations of autonomy.
Determinism would have us believe that choice is limited. I posit: choice is limited to combinations of environmental exposure and perceived experience, something that cannot be adequately described as limited. Determinism would blind us to our ability to recall and create.

*Refer to scientific study about arbitrary nature of free will and morality.

Two operating modes of free will:
1. Choose from presented options. (Not goal oriented)
Most people do not exercise reflection, and therefore do not utilize choice (Excuse the generalization). (Explain if there is a difference between reflection and employing reason) The number of circumstances and options they are presented are limited and maintain face value. As a result, they remain bound to limited options presented by the world.
2. Create alternative options. (Goal oriented) The creation of alternative options relies on the recollection of memories- past experiences that lend insight to present circumstance or choice. In addition, it is our ability to construct totally new perceptual framework about current circumstances. The framework allows for a different perception of stimuli that cause a different response from us.
Insight gained from past memories is limited to the perceptual framework that was employed during the memory.[1] This framework acts as a filter that processes only relevant information at the time. Out ability to create relies on the quality and diversity of the past experiences we recall. Quality refers to the perceptual framework that can interpret and contextualize the relevancy of many details into memory. Diversity refers to the number of experiences your have in different circumstances, as well as variety of perceptual frameworks employed in each of those experiences. Experiences are great for giving you a holistic understanding of things, but true depth of understanding is achieved through repeated exposure to similar circumstances using a different perceptual framework.

Perceptual frameworks, while very similar, are different than attitudes of mind. This is because perceptual frameworks are concerned with the attention based on need, whereas attitude of mind is concerned with optimism towards ideal outcomes (Explain further).

These perceptual frameworks are important because they record mental and emotional states of being into memory. These records can be recalled later to induce a state of being in the present. While a perceptual framework may have been recorded at an experience unrelated from the present, it can nonetheless be recalled, induced and applied.

In addition, various combinations of these perceptual combinations can be recalled and combined to create new perceptual frameworks.
Philosophy of Mind:
The mind is a global environment containing microcosmic communities that contain ideas that contextualize an experience. Exposure to environmental stimulus and sustaining a focus of attention maintain these communities’ wellbeing and economy, contributing to the sustainment of other communities.

These communities are composed of ideas. These ideas contribute to a web of common understanding that is the community. These communities are tied together with other ideas that contain shared understandings. These ideas need maintenance in order to retain functional utility as an idea and with other ideas. Emotions charge ideas, making them healthy and capable. Ideas are developed from exposure to stimulus or they are created from other ideas (explain further). Ideas function according to individuals mind. Some ideas are more versatile and easier to exchange among individual’s minds than others. This depends on the foreign nature of the idea, or whether it has any weak ties to preexisting ideas. If it does not, exposure and associations with the idea and existing ideas needs to be formed.
The communities contain families of ideas. These families form coherent bonds and relationships between ideas that contribute to mutual wellbeing. Translated, these families of ideas are manifested as stories, beliefs, narratives, etc. Unless an idea was incredible resilient, it relies on its relationship with other ideas. It is likewise necessary for interrelationships between families for their health, wellbeing of the community.

Consider the metaphor (expand):
Ideas are people. People live in communities. Communities inherently contain commonalities- be it tradition, geography, economic concern, social status, ethnicity, race. Communities are tied together with weak ties. These weak ties are people that share commonalities with other communities, either because there is a stake in another community, or because the person itself is valuable and versatile. The well being of the community depends on the well being of its member’s health and motivation. People maintain health through sustenance (products of environmental conditions) and relationships, likened to emotions and family relationships, respectively. People are created through other people. They have evolved to fit their environment.

[1] If we are told to count all the quarters in a coin jar, we may remember the number of quarters and a variety of other details, but we will not remember how many pennies there were, etc.

2010-04-01 18:36:00 Blink Uncategorized

1.725 On Spirituality.

What is spirituality?
What does that mean? Pious and impious use the word to describe a transcendental mental attitude or world view.

Because I was indoctrinated at home from an early age, I didn’t convert to Christianity on my own volition, per se. I do remember moments in my religious walk where I renewed commitments to God and reaffirmed my belief. This caused an awakening within me which inspired my efforts to bridge the gap between ‘God’ and myself.

The process of conversion requires the displacement of ego in exchange for ‘God’s Will’. The very idea of displacing the self is a powerful and transformative experience. In Christianity, you’ll often hear the ‘testimonies’ of people coming to Christ who refer to the exchange of self for ‘God’s will’. I remember growing up hearing that we need to ‘die to self’ in order to lead a ‘God centered’ life.

Why we adopt God:

Despite being armed with the deftest faculties of reason, we are wary of relinquishing the comforting notions of a moral curator and universal architect in fear of braving the cold indifference that existential freedom bestows upon meaning and truth. We hesitate to open unknown doors, seeking the shackles of delusion before the responsibility of liberty. We fear the unknown, not because it is unknown to us, but because we are unknown to ourselves. Liberty and freedom are only known to the will, the mechanism of choice. Freedom propagates only more of what we are, exposing our ability to be, and this terrifies. To be known to ourselves requires the responsibility of choice, and acceptance of who we are. Contrary to our fears, we are infinite.

Inactive freedom casts an ominous shadow, a think blanket of darkness, on potential. It bleeds the rivers of change and chokes the ground of growth. Never mind the stark realities; we are coddled by these chains, pacified by our delusions. We offer our will, our most sacred possession, as a living sacrifice for comfort and security. This is in the name of God- of truth. The irony is searing.

Say we undertake the yoke of freedom. While freedoms brilliancy illuminates ignorance and unveils truth, we are left obligated, forced to exist and bear the responsibility for that existence. We are an end in ourselves. Existence and being are now our affair. We are the intercessors of fate, the arbiters of potential, the beginning of essence. And to whom are we accountable? I, the self, freedom incarnated. But we are unknown to ourselves. For just as we wearily shirk from the unknown, we shirk from the abysmal darkness within us, unknown and unexplored. From whence did we come? From whence will we go? Must I choose?

So the huddled masses congregate, feverishly maintaining the conception of an invisible, powerless God.

What, or who, is God?

There is a spectrum of conceptions that evolve as we accrete understanding of ourselves, our world, and what/who ‘God’ might be. Generally, this evolution of mind correlates with an increased openness towards the world and a transcendent mental attitude- or spirituality- that allows us to see the interrelation of all things.

The first conception, and most primitive, is the anthropomorphized patriarch with a long gray beard seated at his throne in heaven- presumably located somewhere between the sky and space.

As our holistic understanding increases, we accept the irrationality of God existing as a literal being. Instead we adopt a God that can, as far as our current understanding will allow, rationally exist within the confines of reality and constraints of nature. This God is an invisible power that maintains a sentient and forcible will. This God is actively involved with the affairs of men. Actively believing and adhering to religious dogma- prayer, doing good works, following commandments, tithing, attending religious services- are all attempts to gain ‘God’s’ favor and align with his will.

I’ll postpone the discussion of how and why religious adherence and beliefs foster self-fulfilling prophecies for God’s existence due to naturally fundamental and beneficial principles within the doctrine.[1]

The next conception of God revolves around the congruency of belief and outcome. If one hopes to lay claim to knowledge, one must familiarize with reality and the laws of nature. This inevitably exercises the powers of reason, which forces the mind to reconcile the irrefutable nature of statistical probability. Outcomes are determined through circumstance that only the actions of individuals or the mechanics of nature can induce. As a result, one comes to grips with changing outcomes by influencing or predicting God’s will. No amount of prayer will suspend gravity, solve global warming, prevent wars, or achieve any desired outcome without intervention.

At this point, a believer could easily transition into a Deist by maintaining the existence of an impersonal, yet Supreme Being. I’ll skip this for now.

The final conception is that God is a disassociated projection of the internal man. As self knowledge is garnered and ideals coalesce, we are left with the formation of the conscience. The conscience functions as a subliminal consciousness that reconciles actions with desired outcomes and what should be. Perhaps this is the voice of God; the Holy Spirit’s whispering convictions. Because mans thoughts and imaginings are not limited by the laws of nature and confines of reality, they are infinite. When mans ideals about what should be are misconstrued with what is, internal dissonance occurs. As a result, we must disassociate ourselves by objectifying our ideals. By projecting these ideals onto something or a figure outside of us, their value can be realized and sought after, without being tainted by our current limits. This inversion allows for the manifestation of ‘God’ as the sum of all that should be, a mere projection of the best of our, albeit limited, understandings. Here is a complementary quote:

“Consciousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge, by his God thou knowest the man, and by the man his God; the two are identical. Whatever is God to a man, that is his heart and soul; and conversely, God is the manifested inward nature, the expressed self of a man– religion is the solemn unveiling of a man’s hidden treasures, the revelation of his intimate thoughts, and the open confession of his love-secrets.” [Feuerbach]

What are religious conversions?

There are two conversions that occur relating to God. From an atheist to a believer, and a believer to an atheist. Both produce massive reversals of mind that overturn entire frameworks for world view. I mentioned that the conversion to God involves a displacement of self. This is incredibly invigorating and, seemingly, liberating.[2]

The experience of conversion to God is liberating because the displacement of self with God. As we place our faith in a something outside of us, we are not left with the responsibility of changing our circumstances. Changing our circumstances requires the acknowledgment of certain limitations due to circumstance- in knowledge, emotion, or physicality. Instead, the conversion suspends choice and freedom in exchange for the subscription of Gods will—be it the manifestation of God as a projection of self-knowledge, or the interpretation of religious texts, or in between. The benefit for the conversion to God and displacement of self is baited with reward and possibility. Rewards generally concern an ideal afterlife, not tainted with earthly inadequacies. Possibility and empowerment are achieved as we align ourselves to Gods will. Of course these benefits vary precisely from religion to religion.

Many religions assertively warn that ‘idolatry’ and idol worship is ‘evil’. Who would worship inanimate objects? Anyone who seeks to worship anything outside oneself; namely, those who wish to displace self.

What is Spirituality?

The word spiritual is loaded with historical, cultural and personal meanings. To treat this concept as an absolute or universally understood experience would destroy the intimate power it contains for each individual person. However, there is an essence that can be derived.

When people talk about spirituality, they often refer to another worldly existence, somehow separate from reality. Its essence is metaphysical. Spirituality is usually achieved by ridding oneself from material anchors in order to escape into this higher realm of thinking. How does this shedding of worldly preoccupation transcend one into spirituality?

The world is constantly commanding our attention as stimuli bombard our senses and beg for a response. This forces our consciousness to manage observable and readily apparent circumstances. This reality is far different from our mind because the dualistic nature that exists between mind and reality.

The reality exists in the here and now. It is in flux only according to the very precise physical processes allowed by nature. It cannot be changed instantly without external influence. Our external world is bound by the laws of physics. No amount of manipulation and effort can alter these laws. It is only through understanding and familiarizing ourselves with these laws that we can manipulate reality and nature to conform to our mind.

In contrast, our mind is infinite. Our imagination has no bounds or constraining forces. It dreams, fantasizes, creates, and imagines. The external reality that is projected inwardly is manipulated by our reason and distorted by our passions and emotions. Our ability and decision to think has no limits.

So the reality of nature grounds reflection, the imagination, and reinforces itself in our mind, limiting imagination.

Spirituality is when the mind rises above reality, present demands of the here and now, and observes the sum of reality by recognizing the interrelation of all the individual parts. The mind softens its perception of what is, so to speak, so that new connections and relationships can be formed about what could be.

The creation of spirituality and the spiritual:

Conversion to God opens the mind up to this spiritual world by forcing it to be receptive to something outside reality. The idea of God requires a faith in something with no place in reality and nature. The mind, trying to reconcile the conception of God, escapes from reality. This forces the imagination to reconcile the possibility of God by creating justifications from the imagination. These imaginations are otherwise delusions fabricated to accept Gods existence.

This conversion to God transcends the mind into a world of possibility. This is KEY for understanding how and why god is the answer for those wrestling with a lack of responsibility for their existence, the overall stagnation of potential, and avoidance of freedom.

Generating spirituality through religious conversion:

My conversion from a believer in God to a non-skeptical realist (essentially agnostic), was marked by a decision to seek understanding, dispel delusions, and eliminate self-deception. The process was slow and gradual, yet I retained certain spirituality. I find that when many people are asked if religious, they reply that they are spiritual. I responded similarly. But what does this mean?

As far as I was concerned, spirituality was the residue of my faith in God. God represented possibility. Recall the teachings: “In Christ all things are possible” etc. The conversion to God opens one up to possibility by suspending limited beliefs and opening the mind to possibility. Spirituality is faith in possibility. Conversion away from God can leave the faith in possibility intact.

Spirituality exists among a wide spectrum of people, religious and irreligious alike.

Some people join religions because they recognize the value in certain universal principles of good within the doctrine, while others seek the escape from responsibility of self that it brings.

[1] Religious beliefs cause a variety of psychological effects: Confirmation bias creates biases that influence interpretation of positive feedback to be used as evidence for maintaining and confirming biases and reinforcing pre-existing beliefs, e.g., I prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and its sunny out, therefore God answered my prayer, or I prayed that God would cure my aunt of cancer and she survived, so God is real; Â Hawthorne effect is the awareness that you are being observed influences your behavior, e.g., knowing people look at/treat you as a Christian example causes you to maintain Christian behaviors; Pygmalion effect is the awareness of higher expectations that lead to increased performance, e.g., God is watching leads to more mindfulness, better behavior; Stereotype threat is our evaluation based on negative stereotypes when facing a disruptive concern, e.g., anyone who is not a Christian is a sinner and evil, so when bad things happen its because of non-Christians, etc.

[2] From my experience, most people that convert to God, especially later in age, do so in hopes of achieving a salvation. This salvation is from their pain, their emotional baggage. This is objectified as sin. People who experience conversions to God do so in order to relieve their state. Their previous beliefs in themselves, in their past, about life caused dissatisfaction. The delusion of God, however justified, is a scapegoat, or lamb, for their suffering. What these people fail to realize is that suffering is a result of misaligned expectations. These misaligned expectations are a result of a lack or avoidance of responsibility. Freedom is terrifying. They cannot conceive who they want to be, so they remain as they are, unknown to themselves. These are the people that subscribe so desperately to various doctrines and beliefs of mainstream culture, never ‘thinking’ or willfully contemplating who they ought to be. This weakness, this ignorance, allows the will to atrophy as habituation and conditioning fully inundate.

2010-04-01 20:56:00 Blink agnostic atheism christianity god jesus philosophy religion spirituality

1.726 Tic talk.
So a group of dialectically attuned friends and I were conversing on the subject of the existence of God, whilst consuming liquid courage. It serves to loosen the dialog.

So our conversation, at one point, degenerated into poetically poignant and grandiose rants on man’s origin. As a disclaimer to philosophical and theological discussions, I always explain beforehand that I am in favor of discovering the possibility of the existence of God, so long as we abide by the known principles governing reality.

We landed on the topic of ‘order’ as plausible evidence for a higher power. The notion of Life- incredibly intricate systems of order that beget order- seems to run contrary to the sum will of the universe- which we agreed was entropy. I conjectured that popular understandings of order may be faulted.

So my friend says:
Nature tends towards that state in which energy is randomized to the greatest extent possible (disorder).

I replied:
Only in isolated (closed) systems. Entropy of a system that is not isolated (open) may decrease, leading to an increase of order. The second law of thermodynamics states that the total entropy of any system cannot decrease other than by increasing the entropy of some other system. We know the earth is not a closed system because of the energy exchange between the sun. The suns increasing total entropy reduces the total entropy of the earth through the transference of its energy- which is radiation, heat, and light.
Assuming a closed system, the net effect in the solar system (or the universe) is still towards increased entropy. (Is this also why the universe is expanding?–probably a question well beyond my current powers of comprehension.)

Relating back to the discussion about God and order, the question remained: Is the reduction of entropy- leading to increased order and life on earth- really proof of Intelligent design? Or for that matter, the existence of God? Not convinced.

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