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An intentionally arranged series of words

By Zachary Kyle Elmblad

A New Way Home

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Copyright 2010 by The New Scum Productions

Kalamazoo, MI

http://www.thenewscum.org

Published by The New Scum Productions in

association with Lulu.com, which I'm sure is a

trademark of someone or something they'd be happy

to tell you about.

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This book is dedicated to and written for

the people I’ve met and the times I’ve cherished

with them. Good and bad. You yourself and the

people you choose to keep around you are the only

things in this world worth fighting for.

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Preamble

Part One – The Past

Chapter One – The Doldrums

Chapter Two – California

Chapter Three – The Open Road

Chapter Four – Montana

Chapter Five- The Fall of Rome

Chapter Six – History

Chapter Seven - Transgression

Chapter Eight – Let’s all go to the


Apocalypse

Part Two – The Present

Chapter Nine – I Make Burritos for a Living

Chapter Ten – A Renaissance man

Chapter Eleven - Love

Chapter Twelve – A Citizen of the World

Chapter Thirteen – A Life Raft on Stupid


Sea

Chapter Fourteen – When the Lights go out


in New York City

Chapter Fifteen – A Destination

Chapter Sixteen – The Long Road Home

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Preamble

A man, before heading home, takes that last


shot of the night. Bringing the glass down to
the bar with a hollow smack, he screams to no one
and everyone at the same time. “To the New
Millennium Jagermeister Christ!”

Remembering things is really fucking hard


sometimes. Take, for example, remembering to set
your alarm clock, remembering how the hell you
got home last night, remembering your parents'
anniversary, remembering what time your mistress
is going to call, or remembering that although
you may sometimes feel invincible under the
influence of alcohol; you are not actually God,
nor Jesus. What you are is something different
entirely.

We're totally in love with ourselves


because we're the only ones that we can
ultimately control, and at a minimum because we
know we can get away with it. A hearty stock of
rational self-interest coupled with an ego the
size of the Empire State Building can take you
pretty far in life. It's nothing close to a bad
decision, and it can definitely benefit you to
think about yourself every once in a while.
Never be afraid to say “I.”

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People make bad decisions all the time,
sure as the Sun rises in the East. Driving home
from the bar trashed as a sixteen-year-old at a
frat party, snorting lines of blow from the
munged-up toilet tank, even fucking that snaggle-
toothed redhead in the mop closet. Shut up, you
know that you've done it, too. The worst,
however, is people spending every day at the bar
because they can’t force it within themselves to
actually try to make the life they're drinking
away any better. Wasting their time on a cheap
escape when the real answers are staring them
right in the face. Competing and arguing with
one another, trying to decide who's life sucks
worse.

That bartender is never coming home with


you, no matter how much you tip her. There lies
the thin razor line we balance on when we’re
trying to get through each other. Especially
while intoxicated. Social interaction is a
competition for truth, and daily life the futile
search. Remembering is the road we take to that
truth, which is the consensus we arrive at when
we realize we can't remember what happened after
the sixth shot. Especially the bit about old
snaggle-tooth, who keeps texting you.

Remembering, for me, came in the form of


writing a sappy novel about my life called

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Whatever Happens, Happens. I laughed, I cried, I
beat horses long past death with sarcasm and the
whimsical wallowing in self pity of a hopelessly
romantic teenager. What there was to be
remembered, was that I had become an egotistical,
emotionless, vain, cynical, and debauched ball of
potential energy yearning to become kinetic – and
didn’t really mind that much at all. After all,
that’s exactly what I had asked for. How could I
have expected it to be what actually happened.
Careful what you wish for, they say, but who
listens to them anyway? Wouldn't someone or
something just swoop in and “save” me? That’s
how most of those stories end. Either you find
love, you find religion, or you find the bottom
of a bottle. Hold on, let me go get a drink.

Everything that had happened to me in life


seemed to be pointing some great direction, some
ultimate fruition of cosmic come-uppance, or at
least somewhere other than pressing buttons at a
restaurant down the road from the local
university. Some sort of promise that it would
all make sense later. What goes up most come
down, right? Is the inverse as true? You have
to wonder, sometimes, whether it's really worth
it or not to keep fighting for your dreams.
There's a billion different ways of thinking in
the thick skulls of a billion different people.

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What makes you so sure you've got it right, you
know?

If you think you’re right, and people


always tell you that you’re right; you probably
are. There is such a thing as right and wrong,
but it’s only a personal 'yes or no' choice
rooted in an external perspective. Right and
wrong are not things, but ideas. It's the people
around you that help you decide what is and isn't
wrong. The thing that everyone forgets is that
you are at every moment both yourself, and a part
of “they.” As long as what you’re doing and
thinking is right for you, and you can decide it
for yourself in the context of you as a part of
“them”- you’re never going to fall back down.

There's a good deal of people wandering the


streets in our cities that don't seem to have a
clue how to exist with others. The asshole that
cuts you off on the highway only to slam on the
brakes and take the exit, the shit-head taking
your order at a fast food restaurant while
picking his teeth, the brute that tries to tell
you how to raise your kids after smacking theirs
in the face for want of a means of control, the
bum you give a dollar and then asks you for a
five, the degenerates that tag gang signs on your
business bathroom walls.

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They’re everywhere, the mouth breathers
ever sucking up our precious oxygen, and walking
around every day just being worthless, garbage
human beings that we're stuck taking care of out
of some society-induced sympathetic illusion.

We can’t take it anymore, and we won’t let


our wonderful world get torn down by the people
that don’t deserve to live in it. What's the
point of us sitting idly by and watching our
average intellect dwindle to dust? I've been all
around this damn world, and I see a widening rift
between “us” and “them.” I'm not talking about
ancient dichotomies, I'm talking about a new
evolution of humanity. This isn't the haves and
the have-naughts. It's not rich and poor we're
dealing with here. This is not just the new and
the old, the right and the wrong, the smart and
the dumb, the sages and the dullards. Some
people just can't keep up with our pressure
cooker of history-changing, paradigm-dissolving
insta-communication. Our society is undergoing a
fast-paced cultural evolution, and we're starting
to see a good chunk falling short.

I invite you to take a journey with me down


a road you may never have traveled. A journey
to find a new way home. It’s a long road out, and
a long road home, but in the end- it’s better to
have gone somewhere than nowhere at all.

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Part One

The Past

Chapter One – The Doldrums

So, I worked at this place called The Big


Burrito. Pathetic, I know, but you really can't
make these things up. They just seem to happen.
After all, you have to make money doing

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something if you want to eat. After many – too
many - years of my life spent being a slave to
burrito manufacturing; I hate the service
industry, I hate the smell of fryer grease, and I
most especially hate being stuck adrift in this
horrible sea of idiots encroaching on my brains
like a zombie attack. Sometimes it seems like a
joke. I don't even like Mexican food. It gives
me heartburn. I’m not talking about hating the
people I work with, I like them – we're all
working for the weekend, but the hate lies along
the lines of people queued up in front of me like
cattle waiting for slaughter by brain spike.
They don't even seem real. They're caricatures
of people, like bots in a first-person shooter.
They'll say any manner of stupid thing there is
to say, as long as it has nothing to do with
ordering food.

I don’t feel that there is anything more


indicative of your mental capacity than how you
order at a restaurant. It does not take a rocket
scientist to order food. If you walk in and
start reading the menu out loud to no one in
particular- we will not assume you are talking to
us, nor will we engage you in conversation. You
get one chance for eye contact, and if it doesn’t
happen we will not look you in the eyes, because
you have no respect for us. If you don’t respect

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me, I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to
respect you. I owe you nothing. I want nothing
from you, but you want something from me - your
dinner. Did you forget? Which one of us has the
power position in this struggle? We have things
you want, you pay us for the pleasure of having
them- this is how business works. You trade
money for goods and services. This is America,
and this system has done us well for hundreds of
years. Thank you for ruining that. Coffee is
hot, did they need to warn you?!

If you walk right up to the counter and


start demanding things without a traditional
conversation-starting word like “Hello,” “Good
Morning,” or even a casual “What’s up?”, I will
not acknowledge your presence. How can you do
that and expect pleasantries? Interpersonal
dialog begins with a salutation. We're supposed
to learn that in pre-school. You do not start a
conversation with someone you don’t know by
“Uhhhhh, Lemme git one of dem… uh... dem thangs
wit da thangs... you know...” That’s a dead
giveaway that you did not graduate high school.
You never got the “look the principal in the eye
when he gives you your diploma, because that’s
how we show respect to each other” speech either,
because you were too busy cooking up meth with
your sex slave sister. Or maybe watching a

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football game, throwing food at the TV. Either
way- it was time well wasted. So I'm an asshole,
huh? Tell me something I don't know, and while
you're at it, order your fucking burrito.

I can see everything. Do you think we're


blind? Deaf? Dumb? We hear what you people
talk about on your cell phones while we're
patiently waiting for you to order your
cholesterol-ridden multiple-thousand-calorie
burrito. It’s easy to order food while on the
cell phone. You say “hold on one second so I can
order food,” look me in the eye, say hello and
order like a human being that can speak the
language of an adult. I don't want to hear
“Well, he said it's something to do with yeast...
Yeah, I know, we don't use bread, that's what I
told him... Yeah, I know... whatever, that
doctor was an asshole... I gotta go, I'm getting
some food”

If it is the first time that you have been


at a restaurant, then by all means take a moment
to browse the menu, we're here for your grazing
after all. In fact, most menus even list
commonly asked questions like “what's in this?”,
“how much does that cost?”, or “dat cuh wit
unyuns?” One minute, at the most. That's about
how long it takes to figure out what is going on.
It’s a menu, you have to have seen one before.

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It's there to let you know what we have and how
much it costs. Read it. If it’s Chinese food,
don’t ask for a burger. If it’s a pizza place,
they don’t have burritos. You are all so god
damned stupid it makes me physically ill. It
actually hurts me. Where did common sense go?
Where did literacy go? How can you be so stupid
in a world that made everyone else so smart?
Where did the rest of us go wrong by not teaching
you? When did you go wrong and turn into a
fucking moron? Was there a switch involved? Can
we flip it back?

I’m not saying every single person I pass


on the street is an idiot, far from it, although
it certainly feels that way sometimes. I have
lots of friends, you know, other people that
don't drool on themselves. They're nice enough,
I guess. I know they have friends that are equal
to or above my intelligence. That’s a good
thing. We live in a society. That’s what I
think makes it so hard for some of these people.
There’s just too many of us. Way, way, way too
many.

One late summer evening, the situation


conspired that allowed me to reach terminal
social apathy. I got into a bit of a fight with
a woman over the cost of her tostada. As you may
know, a tostada is a round, flat, fried corn

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tortilla topped with various Mexican food
ingredients of your discretion. You can argue
with me until you’re blue in the face about
whether or not the tostada is Mexican, American,
Texan, or a mere corporate creation. As far as
I cared, it cost $1.99, plus 6% Michigan sales
tax, which comes to a whopping $2.11 2007 USD.
That’s roughly 35% of one hour’s worth of work at
minimum wage in Michigan, which we’ll say was
$7.00 per hour. That means that this tostada
would have cost around 20 minutes of work at a
pet cemetery shoveling dirt and dog brains.

An African American woman in designer


clothing walks into my restaurant upon getting
out of her decked out Lexus. She could have been
anyone, with any face. I've noticed that no
racial or socio-economic distinction dictates an
idiot-free environment. A rich black bitch. Are
you offended? She orders a chicken tostada with
no extras. Hot sauce on the side. Easy. Should
take less than a minute.

“That will be exactly two dollars and


eleven cents,” I say, with my pleasantly high
pitched 'I’m friendly to everybody that tips me'
voice. She says nothing, chomps loudly on gum,
and whips out the Prada bag. She digs through
it, cracking saliva bubbles of gum the whole time
until she pulls out a brand new touchscreen

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phone. Way back when a touchscreen phone was the
type of thing people like me looked at and went
“Holy shit! That thing is capable of multi-point
touch? When the hell did that hit the market?!”
She half drops, half sets it on the counter like
a useless and invaluable paperweight. She then
pulls out the matching Prada wallet- same ugly
print as her purse. I hope it gets stolen. She
fingers it, flipping through receipts and
frequent customer cards. Finds an Abe, and a
Washington. She tosses the bills on the counter,
although my hand is open, face up, and less than
a foot away from her sunglasses-indoors and
faraway gaze.

I looked at the woman, puzzled, saying “out


of… six?!”

Was she tipping me? Did she mistake the


five for a one? How?

“Well, I went to college, apparently you


didn’t.”

That was her response. She said it. I


can't make this shit up. She said that, after
she handed me six bucks for a $2.11 bill. I
couldn’t believe she had actually said it. I may
be a college dropout, but I’m no rube. I know
there’s no sensible reason to pay a $2.11 bill
with six even. Maybe three one dollar bills.

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Maybe a five and eleven cents, but no way in hell
should there be six dollars in my hand. No
rational possibility of the event. Maybe eight,
now that would have made even just a little bit
of sense, so that she could trade the old five in
for a new one with a bright purple numeral on the
back and a spiffed-up color background for good
old ironic Abraham Lincoln; great sayer of the
Emancipation Proclamation. It's happened just
like this a thousand untold times to a thousand
cashiers every minute of every day in every
country on Earth. Common sense, people. If you
make a mistake, just admit it.

Anyway, this bitch looks at me like I am


the great Satan, and proceeds to explain to me
how she graduated with a degree in accounting
from MSU, and she can tell that I don’t know a
god damned thing considering I’m employed at a
place called “the Big Burrito.”

I typed $6.00 into the computer system I


programmed myself, with my own self-attained set
of knowledge- no college involved. What’s the
change? $3.89. There are no computational errors
on machine, or in my head, is that correct? Get
a calculator, do it in your head, whatever you've
got to do- the math is right. 2.11 subtracted
from 6.00, according to the base ten mathematics
that I know and understand, leaves a sum of 3.89.

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Allow me to check my own calculator… 6.00… - …
2.11… =… 3.89. Ok. I am not hallucinating. She
holds out her hand, like I had- but I drop the
change and the bills in front of her. Like she
had to me, mere minutes ago.

This bitch says “I want to talk to your


manager.” I now assume I have the upper hand,
knowing that the person she speaks of is standing
in front of her. I smile, wryly, and turn
around, walk five paces and about-face. I walk
forward and look her in the eye again. I put my
hand forward and say “Zachary Elmblad, General
Manager. How can I help you, ma’am?” coy as a
fucking virginal and unblemished, fit-for-
sacrifice, totally white lamb.

This woman is infuriated. By this time,


her tostada is finished. I calmly bag it, add
the requested side of hot salsa, and hand it
over. I smile, wryly again, and say “here you
are, miss, all set- hot sauce and all,” and
nothing else.

She stares vacantly from beyond the


designer shades. I maintain my smile. Not a
word is spoken as she turns around and marches
angrily back to the Lexus, pulls back the
convertible top and drives off post-haste with an
angry and crudely dumb look on her face. I knew

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what was coming. I had mouthed off to the wrong
people at work before, and I had accepted the
consequences.

I fucking refuse to be treated unfairly.


What better example than some bitch black lady to
epitomize my total hatred towards what the human
race has become. You want to talk about being
mistreated? Yeah, so your mom's mom's mom's
dad's mom was a slave way back in fucking 1786
when germs were demons and the sun revolved
around the earth. Let me play my violin while
you sing the world's saddest song for shit that
happened 200 years before I was a one-year-old,
diaper-shitting, ground-crawler. I didn't do it,
ok Lady? I am a fucking burrito slave, OK?

But.

I.

Am.

Not.

A.

Fucking.

Racist.

I won’t accept the racial injustice of the


past as an excuse for someone who accuses me of

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being a racist simply because I could perform
simple mathematical tasks in a superior manner to
her after four, no five, years in a college I
couldn't dream of affording. Not only was I
accused of being Racist, but a sexist man-pig as
well. Do read on.

I was working the night shift. Wednesday


night. That meant I wandered in around six at
night or so, sometime late in the summer of
another year I've since repressed. The foul year
of our lord, MMVII. Any hope of leaving less
than eleven hours from then was a lost cause.
Any hope of having a meal less than eleven hours
from then was a lost cause. Any hope of seeing a
friendly face in the next eleven hours was a lost
cause. I was beginning to think my hopeless
fucking life was a lost cause. I worked alone up
front helping customers, with two very nice but
tragically English-inept Mexican matriarchs
cooking up the savory vittles in the back.

I figure it was about eleven o’clock in the


evening when she pulled up. Big Burrito closed
at four in the morning. I wasn't even halfway
through my shift yet. There’s no one to talk to
at that place with a word worth hearing coming
out of their mouths at that time of night. I’m a
well trained restaurateur, but this was a
dilemma-ridden situation from the start.

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I finally got a second to sit down, and I
sparked up a delicious Camel Light to take the
woes away. First one of the day. Not two puffs
in and her fucking Lexus speeds up as she slams
on the brakes nearly missing the curb in the
process. I knew what was coming. The flashy
car, the flashy driving, the flashy purse, the
flashy sunglasses- a walking epitome of needless
and excessive commercialist stupidity. It didn’t
matter that she was black. Or “African-
American.” Or Whatever-American. That still
seems to matter to people for some reason. I
wouldn’t have given a fuck if she was a
Southeast-Asian burn-victim paraplegic ex-nun
post-op tranny. She interrupted my cigarette
happy time, which blows.

You know, maybe I was an asshole to that


lady- but I don’t think it matters. I am who I
am, and she is who she is. Anyway, I got woken
up at eight in the morning the next day
(Thursday.) It’s the boss. The owner. I hear a
familiar black woman screaming in the background,
while he’s gulping out “Dude, Zach, this lady is
screaming at me about how you’re a racist,
sexist, man-pig that insulted her intelligence
last night and she says you discriminated against
her because she was black, and because she was a
woman- and she says she’s going to call the

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Better Business Bureau if you don’t call her and
apologize. I can’t have that happen, will you
please do this for me?”

I was suddenly struck with a conflict of


interest. I had to work in less than eight hours
after working a twelve hour shift the last
however many days in a row- it doesn't matter. I
had been awoken after three hours of sleep to be
called a racist woman-hater while wandering
around the living room of my parent’s house in my
boxers. I love chicks, of any race, so long as
they put out and don't piss me off. I'm no
better than the rest of you. I was not only
confused, but I was beginning to become
defensive. I said, “Oh, that bitch.” as I slowly
remembered the previous evening's interchange.

He laughs, albeit very quietly. He knew


what she was doing, but what could he do about
it? Mouth off to her like I had supposedly done
and risk having her actually call the better
business bureau? She had left now, with her
phone number on a piece of paper and a standing
threat to inform the “authorities,” if there
really even is such a thing. He was beside
himself. He says “you’d better call her right
now and apologize. Who knows? She could be a
State Senator or something- you can't just mouth
off to anyone.“ Coward.

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I said, “I really don’t feel comfortable
doing that. I feel like she should apologize to
me. I’m not a racist. Why would I work for you
if I was a racist? A full two thirds of the crew
that worked last night was a different race than
me. That makes me the minority in this
situation.” That makes one black woman, two
Mexicans, and one white guy that didn’t make
nearly enough money to be accused of being a
racist when that word carries such a horrible
stigma. Let alone a lady-loving guy being called
a man-pig. That almost offended me more.

I called her. I fucking did it; I'm not


Satan. I sucked it up. I took one for the team,
even though altruism disgusts me.

“Hello.”

“Hi, this is Zach from the Big Burrito.”

“Yeah, I’ve been waiting.”

“My boss gave me your number.”

“Yeah, I’ve been waiting, and you’d better have


something to say to me considering what you put
me through last night”

“I’m sorry. I just wanted to smoke a cigarette,


and I just didn’t understand why you gave me six

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dollars for something that cost less than three.
I couldn’t figure it out. I was confused.”

“That’s not what this is about. You had an


attitude with me, and you need to lose it. I
don’t think your apology is sincere.”

I was throwing things across the room at


this point, and biting on a bandana I found in
the corner in order to keep from screaming every
single racial epithet I could think of at this
woman, if only to make there be a reason for her
to be laying into me with such voracity. I took
a deep breath, counted very fast in my head,
backward from ten to one like they do on TV. I
was trying very, very, hard not to become a
nuclear bomb of bigot rage. That shit is
inhumane. No need for it. It's a cheap and
offensive trick, and I am above it.

“I swear to god [I figured I'd bring him in for


good measure], ma’am, I meant no offense, I am
sin-cere.”

“I will accept your apology, but don’t ever


insult someone because of their race or gender
again, or I will find you.”

Seriously. This happened to me. I am not


telling you a lie. I have a notebook with this
woman’s telephone number in it. I will fight

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this to the grave. Want to talk about role-
reversal? I felt like I busted up this woman’s
chiffarobe and never found Atticus Finch. Oh
well, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Right?

I am not a racist. There really shouldn’t


even be such a thing anymore. There really
shouldn’t even be a notion of “race.” To
everyone these days, you’re nothing but a screen
name with a bunch of numbers after it and a weird
character in it that no one can name that looks
like a little “a” with a circle around it.
“Commercial At” is the technical term. What a
sham. Commercialspeak. Orwell should be proud
of us. You don’t have a race, you have an
ethnic background. Euphemism. You select it
from a drop-down list so that you can be some
kind of fucking statistic in our own 1984 come
trickling down twenty-some years late because of
Reaganomics or something like that.

Racism was for the idiot drunks in the


south that burnt crosses in Martin Luther King
Jr.’s lawn. I’m not one of them, I don’t think
like them, and I am insulted to have been accused
of being like them. I read about the civil
rights movement in a textbook. I didn’t live
through it, my parents did, and they were only
like eight years old when Martin Luther King Jr.

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got shot. I grew up with people of all races in
my classrooms, and I never even looked at them as
anything but other human beings, which they are,
and always were, until you idiot media fucks told
me think otherwise. Imposed diversity only
serves to grow racial disparity.

These are the problems we face every day.


Sometimes, we don’t even know where to place our
hate- so we have to take it out on those who
least deserve it. In my case, it was a rich
black lady with political clout that I mouthed
off to because she made a dumb mistake and I’m
addicted to nicotine. In her case, she had to
deal with some long haired, pierced-eared white
kid with a chip on his shoulder at the burrito
place when she was only trying to get a midnight
snack. What-EVER. So I'm a racist, then. Fuck
you, R. J. Reynolds. Sexist? You've all been
nothing but cold and ruthless bitches to me thus
far, save for my mother the saint of all saints.
The only reason I don't fall into those weak-
minded intellectual paradigms is because I
actively go against the inclination. Stereotypes
don't come about without reason, you know.

As far as a sexist, or a racist- I guess


maybe some people might think I am. I don’t have
a problem with women, I don’t have a problem with
blacks, I don’t have a problem with Mexicans,

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Jews, Chinese, Arabs, Japanese, Europeans,
Africans, Liberals, Democrats, Republicans, oil
tycoons, demagogues, kings, paupers, bums,
nobody, and nothing. I've met them all, save but
for the kings and tycoons, but I arrive at a
median demographic. What I have a problem with
is Idiots, plain and simple. There is a clear-cut
difference. Race and socio-economic strata do
not affect your propensity to become a dumb-fuck.
But if you are a dumb-fuck, and I call you out on
it- don’t call me a racist, you’re just being
stupid again.

Either way, we both underestimated each


other, and we both over-reacted. Ok, so which
one of us is wrong? I don’t even think society
is equipped to judge which one of us is wrong.
We’re all morally bankrupt by now, right? If
they thought Babylon was bad, I’d love to see
those Bible assholes take a walk down the Vegas
strip and not blow a line of coke and get their
dick sucked by a stripper.

This is America. Anything goes here. This


is the land of the brave. The land of the free.
The land of the burgers and fries. The land of
the “lets grab up all the oil we can at the end
of the twentieth century and fuck over our
children before we make them cure our Cancer and
AIDS for us.” The land of innocent until proven

27
guilty in a court of law by a jury of your peers.
The land of live free or die, and the land of “we
the people.”

Yeah, this is my big thank you to you,


prick generation of dog fucking swine that gave
us the internet, but neglected to take care of
the wars, famines, poverty, and gigantic debt.
Lazy self-serving bastards, the lot. Economic Oil
dependency, nuclear proliferation, the Credit
Crunch, the Mortgage Crisis, the doubling of gas
prices in four years, impossible to pay medical
bills, robots replacing factory workers, this is
what we get to deal with. Fuck you, you never
had to worry about getting your fucking identity
stolen. How is that even possible?

I get so mad sometimes. I know no one


could have seen these things coming at us. The
world has gotten really fucked up. All my
friends have gotten really fucked up, and society
has gotten really fucked up. Am I just a pseudo-
adult in a drug haze, or is there something more
going on?

I also spend way too much time drinking. I


am an alcoholic. I feel it rather suits me.
It’s in my blood. I’m not bad yet, but we all
say that. Give me a few years. The difference,
however, is I have finally accepted my fate. I

28
finally found out what it was. I have to be one
of the people who tries to band together with the
other ones that haven’t been struck drooling
stupid over reality television and facebook.
Yeah, I have one. Social media and user-
generated content is a new part of our cultural
identity that we have barely even scraped the
wide implications of.

I’m immune to your sickness. Your


stupidity sickness. It’s all around me, but I
can’t seem to catch it. I’m so happy! To think
I’d be able to stay alert throughout these years
of alcohol and drug abuse. Is it, now this may
be a long shot, because those things don’t make
you stupid? I know I’m going out on a limb here,
but for once in our lives, can we accept the fact
that stupid people make stupid choices and end up
ruining everyone else’s fun? Can we accept this?

Before I start spouting off on eugenics,


I’ll step off my soapbox for a moment and accept
that maybe I’m being too judgmental. Ok, we’ll
give it a shot. Have I made mistakes? Yes,
many. Have I learned from them? For the most
part, yes. Have I endangered any other person
but myself in making a bad decision? Rarely.
Why is it, then, that even though I regress at
times and may lose sight of common sense at

29
times, that in no way makes me stupid? Is it a
subjectivity thing?

Is there a way to find the locus of human


stupidity? Is there a way to define it? What is
it to be stupid? Why is it that some people can
just make you want to grind your teeth while
smashing their face against a brick wall? What
is it that separates us “Normal” people from
them, the “Idiot fucks?”

A long time ago, I set out to try and


answer my questions. My own personal questions.
Life questions. Hell, I wrote a damn book about
it. These questions are what most people equate
to “do I really want to marry this girl?” or
“what is the meaning of life?” These are stupid
questions with easy answers. No, and nothing.
One wrong answer will leave you with half your
money gone, the other will leave you with half
your useful years gone. Most people pick one of
these two things, in one way or another. I don’t
like being limited to two options. My questions
are more along the lines of “how in the living
fuck can these people get out of bed in the
morning? What keeps them going? How do they
feel satisfaction in their lives? What is the
source of this superficial self fulfilling
prophecy that people at bars and in restaurants
refer to as “normal?”

30
What the fuck is normal?

Really.

I seriously don’t know. Hasn’t “normal”


become sitting around yelling at the television,
re-inventing yourself, eating fast food, and
resting in the comfort of our little white picket
fence financial disasters? What’s happened to
us? Did we become morally bankrupt after we
started seeing horses fucking chicks in the ass
on the internet? Or were we, perhaps, morally
bankrupt from the start because we never defined
what it is to be a human being? We stopped with
Aristotle. What is the good life? We never
covered that. We wanted the money, we wanted the
hot chicks, we wanted the fancy toys, and we
wanted to fight for them. So that’s what we all
did, and now we have to pay for it. And it’s not
my fault, It’s your fucking fault. None of us
ever asked to be put on this planet, we were just
kind of ejected out from your woman parts in a
horror show of bloody goop and screaming. It
wasn’t a choice. And then they make smoking
illegal in the bar. I hate this place. I hate
this planet, and I hate every idiot fuck on it.
Fuck you.

31
Chapter Two – California

I still wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to


do with my life until I went to California for
the first time. Is that cliché? For me, it
happened a lot differently than a lot of the
people that find their calling out there in the
wild west. I didn’t run away to California. I
was only there for like four days. I didn’t take
the actor route, I didn’t take the hippie route,
I didn’t take the escape to the palm trees and
traffic route, hell I didn’t even intend on
taking the writer route at that time, but here I
am typing away none the less. I took the climber
strategy. Why go? Because it's there.

Anyway, I woke up in Redwood National


Forest, which is probably one of the coolest
places I’ve ever woken up in. Aside from that
one time I woke up in a big bed with five chicks,
a broken phone, and an empty fifth of Jack
Daniels. That was pretty sweet. It was late
winter, early spring, depending on how
pessimistic you are. I’ll settle for late
winter. Kevin wakes me up by punching me in the
leg. He mumbles something I didn’t hear, and I
realize we’re stopped, so I grab the flashlight
to go take a leak. Click. Flashlight shines at

32
a really, really big tree trunk. At the same
time I figured out where we were, the beam
instinctively rose to the tops of the trees. I
stood in utter disbelief. A year prior, I had
been standing at the mouth of the Grand Canyon,
wondering if I would ever see anything as amazing
ever again. Here I was looking right at it.

Kevin has been my friend since I was seven


years old, in second grade when I moved to
Kalamazoo. His first words to me, and I will
never forget, were “hey kid, want to join our
club?” Other than my family, no person on Earth
has known me longer than Kevin. Although our
paths have separated a few times since that day
in Mrs. Enderson’s second grade classroom, we’ve
always managed to stay in touch. Kevin and I
took it upon ourselves to go adventuring in the
way only we knew how. Enter the American road
trip psychodrama. Zachary Kyle “Kerouac”
Elmblad. This was right before gas prices
started getting to be such a wreck on our economy
that you couldn’t turn on a form of mass media
without hearing about it.

We took two major trips. The first in


2007, which took us through the southern half of
the United States to the grand finale of Las
Vegas, and a second in 2008 which took us West by
Northwest to the root hub of the modern

33
idiocracy, California itself. I’m not going to
take my California-bashing much further, because
I think California is a beautiful piece of Land.
Until you hit San Francisco.

We had to leave town. We had to escape.


That much was clear. We spent the last few
months of 2006 and the first half of 2007 sucking
down cigarettes in a twenty-four hour coffee shop
in Kalamazoo called Fourth Coast. It’s a dive of
a joint, and I’ve spent enough time in there to
notice how much of a culture-fuck it is in that
place. It’s near downtown, in the part of
Kalamazoo now co-occupied by the dregs of society
and college students. For a while, I lived down
the street. I can't remember which one of those
two I was.

As likely as you are to see a drunken


college fucker wandering around, you will see the
bum stumbling down the road talking about an
imaginary Asian hooker he fucked in the bushes
last night sipping his cheap vodka through a
missing-tooth gap in his crooked smile. I see
them all. The transvestite with a fresh
surgically-created meat pocket vagina hopelessly
trying to attract a man. Fat middle-aged washout
with licorice in his pocket picks at his sweaty
armpit before approaching a sixteen year-old girl
smoking cigarettes and wiping ashes off her vinyl

34
skirt to give her a piece. She smiles, puts the
candy in her purse “for later.” I always
wondered if it was drugged or ridden with razors.
He’s there all the time. A stranger with candy.
In real life.

There’s the chick against the back wall


wearing too much patchouli and stinking up the
place. The text-book alternateen flipping
through some modern vernacular bible translation
and Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. There’s
the strung out couple arguing about the direction
of their relationship at the one lonely table
across the room near the payphone that doesn’t
work. The punky looking blonde with patches all
over her messenger bag, and gauges in her ears
nodding her head to the garage band on the radio
and writing in a notebook. There’s a rapper
making beats with an MPC and some cheap over ear
headphones nodding his head and furiously
punching buttons. There’s a greasy dude with
tattoos all over his face sucking down hand
rolled cigs at a rate that would put me to shame.
The businessmen come in early for a cup of coffee
and a copy of USA Today. The college kids study
for their exams and show each other flashcards at
the bar. A hipster mac user uses photo shop
filters and checks out his hair in a pocket

35
mirror. The poor baristas split their tips and
complain about how much their laptops cost them.

I always sit in the corner seat, the one


with the windows all around it. It's easy to
conceal the Jager you're pouring into the coffee.
That spot that’s always taken unless you show up
at four in the morning. It’d been eight cups of
black coffee down, a pint of Jager, twelve hours
since I started working on my book, and forty
eight hours since I’d last been asleep. Ah, the
life of an artist. Kevin strolls in, taking the
seat across from me. Transvestite waves hello.
The barista knows us by name, He’s Ben, one of my
ex-girlfriend’s best friend’s ex-boyfriends.
That’s life in Kalamazoo. It starts in high
school and never ends. You’re always running
into people you know.

We had to get out! We planned our first


road trip so well. We worried about how much
time it’d take to get to each place, tried to
budget out the gas exactly, talked about what
kind of food we’d bring, and how much time we'd
spend at each stop. Where we wanted to go, what
we wanted to see. It’s the first time I realized
how big this country was. I’d been to Egypt, but
never really got a taste for the vastness of what
three thousand miles actually was. When you’re
flying over the Atlantic Ocean in a metal tube,

36
you don’t get much of an appreciation for how
humongous some of these spaces are. I’m not even
going to bother trying to put into words the
majesty of some of the scenic roadside stops
along the road in America. This place is
absolutely beautiful.

The Redwood National Forest rests just shy


of Oregon at the Northwesternmost point of
California. Away from all the people. That
place is magical. The green of the land leaks
out into the road as nature makes one last vain
attempt at getting rid of our dominance. The
Pacific Ocean smacks up against the rocks with
the giant old growth trees in the background. We
haven’t managed to fuck that place up yet.

We were only there for two days. It didn’t


matter, all it took was ten minutes on a rock
watching the waves come in for me to make it all
click. There it was, right in front of my face.
The answer to all of my problems. I was in some
totally foreign place to me, digging the fuck out
of the scenery, pocket full of cash, a thousand
some miles behind me, and several days away from
home.

I finally knew what I wanted from life. I


remembered. I just wanted to see everything I
could possibly see. I can keep going with this

37
charade of burritos and button pressing I call a
life if I can keep seeing things like that. I
can keep up with the constant demand of whatever
thankless job I’m performing if I can sit on a
rock and stare at the ocean for two hours every
year. I can get through whatever problems life
throws at me if I can just know that I can be
walking the streets of New York City in less than
a day. I can keep going if I know I can escape.
Suddenly the bitch tostada lady didn't seem to
matter that much.

I knew right then and there that I could


never go wrong. As long as I kept moving
forward, and as long as I always remembered that
I can always escape. I may not always have the
money, but I will still be able to keep going
just knowing that the chance for me to see
something new is out there. I will never be
happy just sitting in front of a T.V. waiting for
a phone call. I may as well just be sitting
there and waiting to die.

I’m frustrated with what society asks us to


deal with. I’m frustrated with the way people
chose to approach their defiance. I’m frustrated
with everything I see around me, but at least I
know that there’s a rock in Northern California
where I never had a worry in the world. I still
know there’s a cave in eastern Kentucky that’s

38
really, really, quiet inside about a mile back.
I still long for the comfortable anonymity of a
large urban sprawl. I still know that there are
millions of things for me to see and hear about
in this life, and I can get up in the morning and
be at peace with the fact that I’m on this
planet.

I do not want all of these idiots ruining


it for me. I’m not a preachy hippie. I’m not an
environmentalist. In fact, I really don’t want
to be an anything-ist. I just want to keep
seeing things like the Redwood National Forest
kept away from the reaches of spaced out shit
heads that will fuck it up for the rest of us. I
want to be alive. I want to access all this
world has to offer me, and these people keep
getting in my way.

Maybe this is a clue. It’s a step on the


road to understanding the differences between
myself, the people I keep as company, and all of
my other varied Earthly co-inhabitants. Could it
be that we’re all just looking to escape
everybody else for just a second? That doesn’t
explain why some people are idiot fucks, but it’s
going to get us started. I can’t assume that
everyone should think like me. That’s out of
line. I want you all to listen to me very

39
carefully, because I think I might be on to
something.

It starts here. We’re all stuck on this


fucking rock together. It’s getting more and
more crowded, and it’s getting harder and harder
to escape. There is a finite amount of matter on
this rock. We’ve gotten a good start at
destroying this rock, especially in places where
there happens to be a lot of us, or there’s
something we want. I’m not just talking about
obvious things like the trees, the oil, the
water, and the ozone layer. I’m also talking
about the other things. We bull-doze our
history. We seek the new, and raze the old. We
robbed all the graves of our ancestors. We
charge money to look at the remaining public
buildings of Greece, the Pyramids, or pretty much
anything we can throw a value on. Tickets to a
funeral, right? Not that I disagree with people
making money, not at all. Not that I believe
artists and architects should create things
without being compensated for it somehow, not at
all. Not that I even really disagree with grave
robbing. Museums are pretty cool, afterall.

We have commoditized everything that we


could for so long. Now that we have the
Internet, all of that has been blown to bits.
Art, Music, Literature, News, Socialization- it’s

40
all there, and it’s all free. You can’t keep us
away from it anymore. It’s over. There are like
six something billion people in the world this
year, and now we’ve all got a reasonable chance
of talking to pretty much anyone else on the
planet. And we’ve all come to the consensus that
something is terribly wrong.

Some agree more than others, but I hope


that everyone can see the signs. In the past,
we’ve always had something to blame for our
problems. Think all the way back. Egyptians
blamed the gods. Greeks blamed each other.
Romans blamed pirates and rival nations.
Europeans blamed fellow land-owners for about a
thousand years, and then everyone started arguing
back and forth until we all had the United States
or Russia to blame, depending on which side of
the argument sea-fence you were on. Now we have
China and India knocking on the door, the Middle
east pointing nukes at each other, Europe uniting
into some kind of nation conglomerate-slash-
commune called the European Union, and population
crisis in, well, just about everywhere except the
polar caps. South Americans feeding the drug
abuse of the United States, Japan covered in
concrete, hell we’re even driving over ice roads
in Canada to get supplies out to the idiot fucks
up there.

41
Why? We just kept running away from each
other until there was nowhere to run, and nothing
but people everywhere. Then we started building
up walls and roads so we could have little horse-
driven carriages, then cars to drive in and avoid
people, and homes and businesses so we could
limit which people we ran into most of the time.
Then we stopped talking to each other
accidentally. Then we all started to develop
regional differences, and started to fear each
other. Then we started having all sorts of
differences, and invented free speech to cover
all the brilliant new ideas we were coming up
with. Unfortunately, that let the Idiots have
free speech too. Then guns got involved, and the
guns got really big. The guns turned into
rockets. The rockets turned into nuclear
weapons. Then everyone got them, and here we
are. Totally fucked.

Traditionally, the people that were smart


and designed things were kept separate from the
people who worked and made things happen. Not
until these last few centuries has man been able
to both be smart, and get things done. Power is
not placed through a crown to a teenager in a
ring kissing ceremony with swords anymore. Power
is given to a leader, if not by the people
themselves, then by the graciousness of their

42
begrudged agreement. The source of the power can
be questionable, but even the inner ranks of a
corrupt administration can be counted on to act
corruptly. People need to be predictable
sometimes. We can’t all break the mold all the
time. That’s what normal is.

So maybe being normal could be as abstract


as not being normal. Shall I make a categorical
syllogism? All normal people are not normal
people. Acceptance of “norms,” in the
sociological sense, implies that norms are
counterpointed by what isn’t acceptable to a
particular society or culture. We go back and
forth between culture and counter-cultre. If
normalcy is determined by its inverse, or what’s
not normal, then to be normal is equal to the
state of being non-normal, by a rule of balance.
In that respect, anything is really dependent
upon its inverse. Love and hate, black and
white, rich and poor, light and dark, agony and
ecstacy, life and death, and all the stupid
concepts we invented contingent upon the
existence of each other. Are you confused yet?

I don’t think Aristotle would really like


that one, and I don’t think it really counts as a
categorical syllogism anyway. Oh well, you
probably wouldn’t have known. We’ve come full
swing back around, this time with much bigger

43
toys. Society exists as a constantly changing
mass external reaction to opposing conceptual
forces.

The Greeks were the first to start


seriously asking metaphysical questions, and they
did it mostly for the right reasons. Times were
great, everyone had a bunch of wine, slaves,
money, and time on their hands. They got
together, drank a bunch of wine, fucked little
boys, and then started asking questions like that
stoner kid that thinks life is nothing but Pink
Floyd and smoking blunts. “Dude, but what if the
way I saw blue was, like, the way you saw red?
So, like, maybe we all have the same favorite
color, but I just see it as blue. Wouldn’t that
be trippy, man?”

Fuck you, you stupid hippie. Blue is


motherfucking blue. If you want to start talking
about philosophy, read a six foot tall stack of
books and get back to me in a few years. You
have to read them all the way through, not just
put them on a shelf and tell everyone you read
them. Stop telling me “fuck the establishment”
while you drive a Jeep to your two hundred dollar
fucking Phish concert. Tell me who the product
of fascist consumerism is, you idiot fuck that
bought up all their live albums with the special
binder, and followed them around for years

44
because Jerry Garcia was dead and you couldn’t
suck his big money cock anymore. You know what?
Patchouli smells eerily similar to dog vomit to
me.

This brings me back to our topic and matter


at hand- California. The great golden state of
California. Governed at the time by Arnold
Schwarzenegger. Not only is he not an American-
Born citizen, he’s also a meat head movie star.
Not that I have anything against movie stars
turned politicians, or even transplants, but come
on- only California would elect Arnold
Schwarzenegger as it’s governor. I think,
however, that this particular joke has been
played to death, so we’ll stray away from that
one.

How about the Haight district, the hometown


hotbed and breeding ground of the hippie culture?
I drove through it. Nothing but the very same
consumerist garbage they tried so hard to escape
fifty years ago on the east coast. Fuck ‘em. I
hope they die in a patchouli fire. Sissy rainbow
loving crap it is, nothing but new age crystal
gripping mystical magic mumbo jumbo. Bad Vibes,
Bad Karma, Bad Aura. Maybe these people just
don’t like me, but for as much as they talk about
not labeling people they certainly seem to have
plenty of labels for me. Especially when I fuck

45
their girlfriends, god how they hate it! You
know what, dude- you’re girlfriend is pretty hot
naked after a shower and a close pussy shave.
Save your recalcitrant complaining, new age
hippie movement, you are all a bunch of lazy
pieces of shit that make bad music, bad art, and
bad smelling incense. Leave it to the Indians,
theirs smells much better. You are also idiot
fucks.

I was even more shocked to see Big Sur,


which I heard so much about from Jack Kerouac.
It would have set us back eight bucks to walk
down a flight of stairs and look at a waterfall.
I didn’t even bother trying to see the rest of
the place after that, I just kept looking out at
the Ocean, wishing I was back on my rock. I’m
sorry for what they’ve done to the place, Jack-
but I’m sure you saw it coming.

There’s a man to look up to: Jack Kerouac.


Isn’t a lot of this shit his fault, too? Beat
culture? I wonder if that isn’t part of the
reason why The Beatles is spelled incorrectly.
Isn’t that where modern Jazz and poetry came
from? The first time blacks were accepted by
popular culture? Possible precursor to the civil
rights movement? Jack Kerouac is the shit. What
happened to him? Drank himself to death because
he couldn’t escape anymore. Fucking sad.

46
Hunter S. Thompson? Holy shit. Yeah, he’s dead
now. Been a few years. You might as well be
looking at a caricature. John Lennon, Martin
Luther King, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Robert
F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, Captain
Kangaroo, Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Morrison, George
Harrison- all of your heroes are dead, parents of
our generation. All of your heroes are dead.

What did we get? Larry the cable guy,


Paris Hilton, and the nameless dog fuckers on
American Idol. I hope you all get nuked to bits.
We got youtube, a way to publicly share all the
visual capabilities of the planet, and you film
yourselves kicking each other in the nuts with
boots on and eating each other’s shit out of an
ice cream dish. God I fucking hate all of you.
Dig your own fucking graves.

How did we get ourselves into this mess? I


wanted to know, I had to know- I decided I would
roam around the country a little bit and see if
it was the same everywhere, or if I lived in some
kind of idiot bubble. It’s a shame it didn’t
turn out to be the bubble, because I could have
popped a bubble, but there was something more
going on.

California was just a destination, as good


as any other. It’s one state out of fifty, and I

47
had never really even had a reason to go to
California until I realized where and what the
Redwood forest actually was. It was near
Humboldt county, home of some of the greatest
weed our country has to offer. I had suddenly
become very accepting of Kevin’s plans for our
road trip to end in San Francisco. As long as we
made it through Humboldt and I could find some
weed, everything would be great.

So after I realized where we were, and that


the trees were really cool, we had to bide about
two hour’s time before sunrise. Kevin napped in
the front seat while I sorted through the last
few days worth of pictures on my laptop.

Once we could see the sun peeking through


the tree tops, I hopped in the driver’s seat and
started my first experience driving on the
Pacific Coast Highway. Fucking gorgeous. Every
few miles, the curves break from the forest and
rock cliffs to provide you with a breathtaking
view of the Pacific Ocean, complete with waves
crashing up against the rocks about two hundred
feet below. If you ever get a chance to drive
the Pacific Coast Highway, take it- you won’t
regret it.

We stopped at the National Forest


information center to talk to the rangers about

48
the possibility of rock climbing, seeing as how
that had been a major impetus for our road trip
wanderings anyhow. Our first trip had started in
Kentucky where we tried sport lead climbing for
the first time in the Red River Gorge and really
gained an appreciation for the sport, and for the
experience of going to the middle of nowhere,
climbing a rock, and staring off into the
distance. I’ll never tire of it. I redpointed
my first 5.8 sport lead in the gorge, got to the
top, and realized I didn't know how to clean.
Bummer. I had to back-climb a clip nearly 150
feet up and risk life and limb to escape the 40
foot whipper. Wicked.

As it turns out, there was a bit of a


problem with climbing here- you can only boulder,
and the Native American people living in a
reservation there don’t take kindly to climbers
slapping chalk all over their sacred rocks.
Shotguns were rumored to be frequently involved
with the eviction of climbers. We decided to
respect their wishes. It wasn’t really an issue
that we couldn’t climb there, because the scenery
was good enough that just walking around the
place seemed to be fulfilling enough as it was.

We spent most of that day wandering about


the tide pools, looking at the foreign ocean
creatures there. It was the first time I had

49
seen the Pacific Ocean, and the first time I had
been to any Ocean since I was in Sharm El-Sheik
back in Egypt.

That brings us to my rock. I smoked my


last bit of grass inside a cave near a waterfall.
As I was appreciating the view, I was wondering
how I was going to make it through another week
of being stuck in a car without weed to smoke. I
was on vacation, and I wanted to vacate. That
meant lots of weed, and a considerable alcohol
regimen. I have developed a taste for fine
tequila. I had already gone through a quarter of
the best weed in Kalamazoo, but I was nearly two
thousand miles from home, so that meant I
couldn’t call Kenny to score a bag. Bummer.

At least the scenery was pretty good. I


emerged from my cave after a cigarette. Kevin
was about a mile down the beach, poking at rocks
with sticks. I walked out to a cyclopean rock
with waves crashing up against it, and climbed up
to the pinnacle. After reaching the top, I sat
down and brushed the ocean creatures from my pant
legs. I happened to glance out to my left to see
the distant fog rolling out from the green hills
into the cliff face and through the tops of the
redwoods out to the sea. I had never seen
anything like that before. Everything seemed so

50
perfect. There was little wind, and no sound but
the gulls and the waves crashing.

I figured out why it’s so cliché to walk


along the beach and listen to the waves. There’s
something uncannily soothing about that situation
and those sounds. The fresh ocean smells, the
beautiful land, the captivating fog, the total
lack of wandering idiots. They'd say something
like, “Walking on beaches is for fags, I'd
rather play Call of Duty. Get some!”

I don’t have a clear idea at how long I sat


at the top of that rock just vacantly staring out
into the Ocean. It was one of those moments that
you refuse to end voluntarily. You need
something to end the moment for you. A wave
caught my foot and stirred me back to life.

All of a sudden, I felt an incredible urge


to drink. Not because I was depressed, and not
because I wanted to celebrate anything, but more
because I had all of a sudden begun to feel very
heavy. Heavy, here, in that hippie washout kind
of mental way. I had remembered that I was
finally doing what I wanted to do. I was free
from my taxing mental burdens for that small
sliver of time on that rock. I had totally been
lost there staring at the ocean, and I had

51
forgotten what it felt like to just let myself go
free and relax.

My life has always been a non-stop party.


Party in all aspects- good and bad. Sometimes
there’s that point at the party where something
bad happens. The cops show up, some chick starts
puking all over everything and dying of alcohol
poisoning, someone drives home after one too many
and hits a tree. There’s always a chance of
something ruining the party, but as long as you
make it home- or to the nearest couch (or bed if
you’re lucky,) you’ll be fine to party another
day.

I don’t want to get into the “live life day


to day” mantra bullshit, but it works for what
it's worth. If I’m sitting around at home
without a purpose, I feel dead inside. I always
need to be going somewhere, writing something
down, getting ready for work, recording music,
driving somewhere, checking my Email and
facebook, or doing anything other than sitting
around doing nothing, really.

Idle time breeds ignorance.

That was the first clue I had. That’s what


got the ball rolling in my head. I suddenly felt
uneasy on my welcome back into the world. I had
always felt like something was wrong with the

52
world around me, but now I felt closer to
figuring out what it was. I felt one of those
“urges” or “callings” that people always talk
about, but can never really nail out a good
explanation of what it is. That’s one of those
things that you can’t read in a book. You
actually have to take an active part in living
your life to really appreciate what it means to
be alive. You can’t just sit around and watch
other people live theirs on TV. Maybe too much
idle time has turned you all into idiot fucks.

53
Chapter Three – The Open Road

My biggest personal problem has always been


my tendency to over-think. Usually it helps to
be constantly analyzing the situation you’re in,
but sometimes you honestly just want to sleep.
Probably the best place to contemplate things of
a purely mental nature is a long stretch of
highway in the small hours of the morning.

When Kevin and I road trip, we treat it


like it should be treated: like an adventure!
The trip involves going as far as we can with the
allotted time, visiting as many places as we can,
and sleeping as little as possible. There’s no
hotel rooms, no fine dining. We eat ravioli out
of the can, shop at gas stations, and sleep in
the car while the other is driving. It’s a rite
of passage. Anyone who hasn’t involved
themselves in the American road trip psychodrama
has surely missed out. There’s something so
appealing to me about driving great distances in
a car.

You know you can go pretty much anywhere,


yet you’re confined to the safety and familiarity
of your car and the road. You can feel at home
while you’re abroad. It’s a great feeling. Any
time you feel uncomfortable, you can just escape
to the open road and be gone in an instant. The

54
best time to experience most of the long highway
hours is to drive at night whenever possible, and
stop at as many truck stops as you can.

There’s always some colorful characters in


a truck stop. Those guys are quite a bunch.
Chewing tobacco spitting, drunken rambling,
cigarette smoking, foul mouthed, womanizing sons
of bitches. I love truckers. Although they
appear rough and unmannered, at least they aren’t
idiot fucks. It takes a high enough level of
intelligence to operate a giant truck barreling
seventy miles an hour through the rocky mountains
and not get yourself killed. That’s why I love
hanging out at truck stops. You may run into
some strange people, but you will rarely run into
an idiot fuck. They have no business being
there, unless there’s a McDonald’s inside the
truck stop. Idiot fucks are for the city. It’s
our own special sociological breed.

The single best thing about truck stops is


that no matter if you’re eating, sleeping,
coming, or going- It’s only temporary. Temporary
and extremely forgettable. There is no sense of
permanency at a truck stop, unless you’re the
poor fucker who has to ring them up. I don’t
envy you.

55
If the truck stops are the best place to
forget, it makes sense that the open highway is
the best place to remember. And on this trip,
remember I did. I had a lot to remember. Life
has its own little way of reminding you it’s
there. Especially when you have a head full of
Acid.

When we left for California, it was exactly


one half vacation and one half escape. I had
been diving headfirst into a nice couple of
months of moderate L.S.D. use. It happened to be
the first time I could ever find any, and I had
always wanted to try it. As with any drug,
L.S.D. has the potential to be both very good and
very bad. For me, it wasn’t really either. It
was a catalyst. Some psychologists say that
using heavy psychedelics can trigger psychosis or
exacerbate pre-existing mental conditions. I
didn’t go crazy, I didn’t have a “bad trip,” I
didn’t turn into a maniac.

The strange thing about L.S.D. that I’ve


noticed is that there’s no real way to place the
feeling you’re having. Your brain can’t sense
itself. It’s really weird. For all the good it
does us, you can’t feel your own brain. Even
while tripping on Acid. It’s disappointing.
When you smoke pot, you can feel your lungs
burning. When you snort a line of cocaine, your

56
nose burns and you can feel it mixing with mucus
in the back of your throat and dripping down.
When you eat mushrooms, your stomach feels like
its being eaten from the inside by weasels. When
you drink you feel like you’re heavy and the
ground is waving around. When you eat some acid-
it comes out of nowhere, and never hurts. You
just kind of slowly fade into it. Your mind is
actually playing tricks on itself.

The first time I tripped on Acid was at


Ken’s house. Kenny was this guy I had gone to
high school with, lived with for a while, and was
in a band with. It was a long Tuesday at work.
I had worked a ten hour shift, and I was ready to
go smoke some pot and play my drums. When I got
there, Ken looked at me really seriously, and
threw a piece of tin foil at me and said “eat
this.”

I’m like… that hurts your fillings. He


says “No, Idiot- open it, carefully, and eat it”
So I opened it to see three little pieces of what
looked like a cross between dead skin and the
inside of a jelly bean. Gels! I said “dude, is
this Acid?!”

I threw two of them in my mouth right away,


without thinking about it that much. I had spent
so much time wishing I could try Acid that it

57
didn’t take me more than a second. I left one,
because I didn’t know how much it would cost. I
set it down on the table and said “how long do I
have?”

“I say let’s listen to some music, and when


you’re feeling fuzzy, it’s working.”

“How much do I owe you?”

“Twenty, doesn’t matter anyway- I don’t


need it ‘till next week”

“Right on, let’s start drinking”

So we went across the street and grabbed


some beers. About an hour after I ate it, I
started feeling what I can only agree with Ken
and call “fuzzy.” We listened to Camel’s Mirage,
which is this wicked British prog from the
seventies. Around the time “Nimrodel” came
along, I had the distinct feeling that liquid was
pouring down my spine, and then everything
started to shift and quake and I knew that it was
happening. Throughout the second half of the
album, I was hearing the flute parts dancing
around the room, and hearing the lyrics come from
the middle of the room. Ken says “eat the other
one.” Peer pressure for the win.

The feeling of “tripping” is impossible to


describe. One must experience it first hand, and

58
it is not for the weak-minded. L.S.D. is real
drugs. The kind of drug that can fuck up your
life really fast. I try to do as little of these
drugs as I can get away with, but there’s just
something about tripping on Acid in that makes me
think you can’t live without doing it at least
once. It’s not necessarily in the actual peak of
the trip itself, which is more mind boggling than
it is anything else. It’s the recovery stage
afterward that serves as the Timothy Leary kind
of “spiritual” thing. I find that part of the
experience the most worthwhile and rewarding.
Seeing the walls move, and having super sensitive
hearing is pretty cool, but the best part is
laying in your bed trying to sleep after the fun
is over. This is where I can imagine people get
lost in the psychedelic haze.

To me, after a good ripping Acid trip it


feels like you have to lay in bed and listen to
your favorite music while you put your mind back
together. So many strange thoughts seem to just
pop up out of nowhere. Thoughts you hadn’t had
in months or years just sort of appear out of the
black of night. It can be very damaging to your
psyche if you don’t know how to handle it, but
internal mental affairs have never really been
difficult for me. The concept of putting my mind

59
back together piece by piece isn’t nearly as
daunting as it sounds.

Acid is like living really, really fast in


a world you’re familiar with, but everything
seems to look, taste, sound, and feel just a bit
different. You feel like you’ve gone on a trip,
and that must be why that’s the colloquial way to
phrase it. Tripping balls. For sure. There’s
nothing like it in the world. Not to sound like
a drug addled maniac, but there’s just something
about a good session of psychoactive substances
that makes me feel more alive. It’s a form of
enhancement and satisfaction. Not for children,
and not for idiot fucks, but totally useful for
adults who are in control of themselves and feel
like exercising their mental abilities. Drugs
are all in your head. Literally and
figuratively. I find it hard to explain to
others what it is I like about drugs so much.
I’m intelligent, I have a good job, I haven’t
fucked up my life anymore than anyone else has.
I just happen to like drugs. I am not a
criminal, if you don’t count the drug use. I
don’t think I’ve ever broken a law that didn’t
involve a plant or chemical. I can eloquently
express myself in a state of intoxication, and I
harm no one in the process of my chemical intake.
I’ve never been pulled over for speeding, I’ve

60
never been formally arrested, and I’ve only been
in a few car accidents, mostly involving snow or
animals.

But, still, there’s something “icky”


feeling about being a drug user. I don’t even
like to call myself that. To me, a drug user is
someone habitually snorting cocaine and selling
their furniture to buy a new hypodermic needle
set. I do not do cocaine. That one’s a bad one.
Herion, even worse. Methamphetamine?
Disgusting. All of those should be illegal.
Acid, that one’s on the fence because although
it’s really cool, I can totally see how someone’s
mind could be completely destroyed by taking it.
I don’t have a problem with these things being
controlled like nuclear weapons. I agree. These
things should not be in the hands of idiot fucks
that will ruin their lives or other’s.

And now, on the other hand, I would like to


personally kick in the head the idiot fuck that
decided marijuana, a plant that used to grow on
the side of the road in much of America, needed
to be illegal. How do you make a plant illegal?
Why did we let this happen? It’s a plant. You
smoke it and it makes things go slow for a while.
No problem, right? Wrong. Some guy named
Anslinger got it up his ass that it made you go
crazy and rape little girls? I’ve never felt the

61
inkling to rape a little girl – EVER. Especially
when I’ve smoked a lot of marijuana, when my mind
is generally focused on whatever I’m doing
instead of maniacally seeking a rape victim.
What a load of psychobabble horse shit.

What it is, is blame placing. No one wants


to accept that some people just suck. It’s time
for us to get over it. Some people are walking
stereotypes, and you know exactly what I mean.
We always have to blame it on something:
alcoholism, depression, post traumatic stress
syndrome. We’re always hiding the fact that some
people can handle themselves a hell of a lot
better than some other people. That’s not good
or bad, it’s a fact of fucking life. When you
walk down the street and feel better than a bum,
you are. When you walk down the street and some
slick dressed business mogul walks past you, he’s
probably better than you. At least at business
if nothing else. Those people at the Olympics
flipping in the air and shit are better than all
of us. Maybe not at anything but flipping in the
air, but that’s still something. Maybe you’re
really good at baking bread. Maybe you’re better
than me. That’s OK. It’s good to know where you
stand in life. What you are, and what you can
expect. Learning new things, dreaming outside of
your reach, and making goals are all good things,

62
and so is climbing the socioeconomic ladder, but
don’t ever think for a minute that everyone is
the same and everyone is good, because it’s just
not true. People are really, really fucked up.

Did you ever have the urge to fuck a horse?


Me either. Dude, just go on the internet and
type “chick fucking horse” into Google and see
what happens. Everyone is different, you have to
accept it. There’s no way of getting around it,
and there’s no way of convincing yourself that
you’re right about everything because you aren’t.
There are billions of different people living
billions of different lives, and you can’t
control them. It’s impossible. No matter how
much you want to try, and no matter how much it
would benefit you, you ultimately have no control
over any human being other than yourself unless
they give it to you or you take it by force.
You will not take my mind from me unless you are
prepared to fight for it.

For about two months before I had left for


California, I was living in that house near
Fourth Coast with my buddy Seth, who I had known
for several years by now. We were living it up,
going out to the bar and keeping the house clean.
It was nice to have a respectable place to live
for once, without roommates that would rather
throw their dirty dishes into the kitchen from

63
the living room. Seth was moving to Washington
D.C. to take a good paying job, so his little
brother Will was going to take over the spot on
the lease.

We didn’t really have a lease, because I


was living in one of the rental properties a
landlord buddy of mine couldn’t fill. We were
just paying him to stay there, without much
documentation. Maybe fraudulently, but that’s
not my business. Either way, I had a nice little
house to keep me warm in the winter.

After Seth had been gone a week, I began to


start seeing more and more black people at my
house, which didn’t really bother me at first. As
we’ve discussed, race doesn’t affect your
propensity to be an idiot fuck. Some of the guys
were really cool, and I could have a conversation
with them. I had to listen to a little rap, which
I wasn’t accustomed to, but when people know me
they have to put up with death metal, so I can’t
hate on rap. I can, however, hate on cocaine
dealers. Especially those that take over your
house, turn it into a crack store, and start
filming trashy porn in the empty rooms and
fucking up your guitars with their greasy fried
chicken hands. At five in the morning.

64
It started out innocently, with a few of
them snorting lines in the bathroom. I was
alright with it. I didn’t really want it in my
house, but if that’s what Will was into, I
couldn’t tell him how to live his life. I just
stayed upstairs and left them alone. I figured
they would respect that, and follow suit. They
did for a while, but slowly they began to filter
upstairs over the weeks of constant partying that
was going on in my house. I would leave for work
at five in the afternoon, and there would be
three guys in my living room snorting lines off
the coffee table. I’d come home at four in the
morning and they’d be right there, but this time
there’d be fifteen of them. All drinking cheap
cognac and snorting cocaine. Disgusting human
beings. I’d try to go to sleep and hear nothing
but the “bump bump bump” of rap music through the
floor, and the random screams of belligerent
idiot fucks.

I couldn’t take it anymore when one night,


a shirtless man came into my room without
knocking and just started yelling “hey” until I
woke up and asked him what he wanted. I got out
of bed, and looked past him down the hall to see
two black women (it hurts me to call them women)
with gap teeth and horribly colored weaves on
Seth’s mattress, naked, on all fours, one of them

65
getting pounded in the ass by a naked black man.
There was a video camera on the ground, and a
giant pile of cocaine on a mirror in the middle
of the room. He says “You wanna get your dick
wet, homie? You wanna get fucked?”

I started screaming at him, “what the fuck


is your problem, you degenerate piece of scumbag
dog shit? Why are you fucking hookers in your
friend’s house at five in the morning while he’s
out who knows where doing god knows what while
I’m stuck here trying to get sleep with your
disgusting sex acts going on down the hall from
me. Stay the fuck out of my room, and stay the
fuck downstairs if you have to be here!”

He starts getting falsely apologetic, and


backs away, but this time I’ve had it. I go down
the hall to the room where I kept all of my
records, and I see my first pressing copy of
Nirvana’s Nevermind on the floor with a straw and
a razor blade. I had bought that record for
twenty five dollars near mint, and now there was
cocaine residue all over the back of it, and fade
marks from having coke ground up on it and into
the label. Motherfuckers. Goddamn pig fucking
swine. Disgusting idiot fucks. My blood
pressure shot up so high I’m surprised I could
see colors other than red.

66
I walked downstairs, out the door, and down
the street to Fourth Coast to call the police. I
hate cops. Not the people, but the idea. I
don’t like to call the cops on other people,
because I don’t want to get involved in their
affairs, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I
called Kevin instead, who helped me rationalize
and not call the cops. It would get messy, and
the dudes would have a vendetta against me. I
didn’t need that in my life. When you call the
police on people like that, you’d better hope
they get put away, because if they don’t- they’re
coming for you. Just what I need.

I decided I would just move out. Very


quickly. If they were gonna take over the house,
they could have it, but the person with all the
money and all the expensive toys was leaving. I
didn’t want my drums, guitars, computers,
thousands of dollars of audio gear, and hundreds
of CDs and Vinyls getting destroyed or worse yet
stolen by a pack of cocaine thugs and their gap-
toothed whores. We left Fourth Coast, which was
exactly 187 steps away from my front door, if you
were to include the three front porch steps. I
counted one day. As we were walking back, I
could see the front door was open and all the
lights were on, but the cars were gone. I
started to get scared, and ran up to the house.

67
I looked in, and every single knife, fork, and
kitchen utensil with a blade or long handle was
stabbed into the walls. A piece of art that Seth
had made with our friend Katie was ripped into a
hundred pieces after being stabbed repeatedly
with knives (there were hundreds of knife marks
in the wall where the poster had been. On the
chalkboard was scrawled the esoteric message
“yall don unastand an yalls neva wil.” I called
the police.

After loading up the most important and


expensive of my possessions into my car, I drove
to my parents house at four in the morning to get
some much needed sleep. Later, when my dad came
downstairs to wake my brother up for school, he
found me passed out on the couch with another
ridiculous story to tell him. I was completely
moved out of the house in less than twenty four
hours, and more than ready to leave town for a
couple weeks to hit the open road.

That made our trip to California even more


of a top priority in my mind. I was sailing
through the winds of change again, hardly a
surprise, and nothing sounded better than a good
old road trip across the belly of America to the
eponymous crescendo of Manifest-Destiny
expansion. Sometimes, when the shit hits the fan
and everything around you starts going bat shit,

68
you just have to leave town for a while. I
called my friend Glenn, the owner of the house,
and let him know what was up. At that point he
didn’t really care, because the economy of the
State of Michigan was totally fucked anyway, and
his mortgage on the place was essentially
worthless and he was desperately trying to avoid
bankruptcy. We waxed poetic about how both of
our lives sucked so bad sometimes, and we tried
to get Will to kick out the coke heads. He tried
to get Glenn to let them move in. Mister Glenn,
as I liked to call him considering he was my
parent’s age, headed straight up to wherever you
go to issue an eviction notice the next day.
Poor, Poor Mister Glenn. I’ve put so many
unsuspecting landlords through hell as a result
of my idiot friends.

I was sitting in my parents basement


looking at a giant pile of my belongings. A
familiar sight by then, I’ve since forgotten how
many times I’ve moved out and then right back
there. They just kind of laughed and said
“welcome home!” I’m really glad my parents are
cool, because I totally would have gone insane by
now if it weren’t for them just laughing with me
through all of life’s day to day bullshit
problems.

69
Gazing on my bulk of possessions, I thought
about how many times I had packed them up and
spread everything out in another house only to
take it all back down again and stack the boxes
in my parent’s basement. They say that home is
where the heart is, and I couldn’t agree more.
Home may as well be some ex-girlfriend’s couch,
or the backseat of your car. It really doesn’t
matter where you live, it’s what you’re doing
with your life that’s important.

For two weeks, home was my parent’s couch


while I waited for my little brother Josh to move
out of my old bedroom and back to his. After
that, it was going to be the back of my PT
Cruiser. We took one of the seats out of the
back so we could lay down our bouldering crash
pad to use it as a bed. In some climbing
communities, this is called dirtbagging. It’s an
adequate description of what it’s like. There’s
dirt everywhere. From your boots, from your
clothes, from the climbing gear, from everything.

Our first stop was South Dakota to see the


Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and hopefully do a bit
of climbing at the needles. It was a nice drive
out of town. The snow had just stopped a few
days before, and we made it West through Indiana,
Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. I drove
through the night from Kalamazoo halfway through

70
Minnesota while Kevin slept in the back. We
pulled over in Blue Earth because we thought it
was a pretty cool sounding place. We were
filling up the gas tank when my eyes wandered
across the parking lot only to see a giant Sprout
statue (the Jolly Green Giant’s son or sexpot or
whatever it is) holding a giant foamy beer. On a
sign nearby, it said to check out their hundred
feet or something tall Jolly Green Giant nearby.
We followed the signs and found the giant and
took some tourist pictures. It was like four in
the morning so no one else was around for us to
be embarrassed in front of.

I woke up in the great plains, which was


the first time I saw them. It was really cool,
especially the prairie dogs. We like to stop at
all the scenic pull offs we can. You never know
what you’re going to see. Some crazy rock
formation, a breathtaking view, an animal
habitat, a sandy beach, or a World War Two relic.
Usually it’s something cool. I like cheesy stuff
like pretty trees and rocks. I’m a sucker for
nature, despite how much I love the city.

After wandering around the rolling South


Dakota hills, we made our way for our first stop.
The badlands, if you’ve never had the opportunity
to see them, look like what I hope hell would
look like. Literally. Imagine a square that was

71
about a hundred square miles and made out of grey
plaster. If you were to just hit the plaster in
random places with a hammer for about a million
years, you would end up with an accurate model of
the badlands. The rocks aren’t really rocks, the
mountains aren’t really mountains. It’s a dried
up ocean from millions of years before the
dinosaurs or something, and as a result of the
sea bed drying or whatever, it became a big block
of tightly packed sand that has been eroded by
rain and snow melting since our unicellular
ancestors. Pretty cool.

We spent a few hours roaming aimlessly


around the Badlands taking pictures and climbing
to the top of giant piles of sand that, if we
were more “preservation minded,” we probably
would have stayed off of. I can’t help my urge
to explore. Neither can Kevin. Ever since we
were kids we spent most of our time together
wandering around being mischievous.

After our romp at the badlands, we tried to


hit the needles, but it was still closed for the
season. We weren’t too shocked, considering
there was still a couple of inches of snow in
some places, the sky was grey, and we could see
the flakes starting to come down. We figured our
chances of climbing anytime before we hit
California were pretty much crushed. It was too

72
early in the year, and too far north to do any
rock climbing that didn’t involve ice tools or
frostbite.

After the obligatory stop at Wall Drug,


which everyone should see at least once, we
decided to take a snowy trip to Mount Rushmore,
the classic road trip destination. We had to be
cliché at least once on this trip, if the Jolly
Green Giant wasn’t our first cliché roadside
attraction. Mount Rushmore is impressive, but
not really that amazing. Faces we’ve all seen in
books and on TV since birth carved on a mountain
that probably looked nicer before there were
presidents on it.

Our next stop was supposed to be


Yellowstone, but almost the entire park was still
closed for the season, so we decided to head
straight to the next destination, Portland, and
prepared ourselves for a hell of a drive through
Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Kevin
drove from South Dakota through most of Wyoming,
where we stopped to get some gas in some scary
bilge water town at the foot of the mountains
with not much more than a road and a gas station,
where I took over driving. After finding a
highway rest stop with a good view, I listened to
the weather report on the radio while smoking a
bowl. Snow in the mountains. Wonderful. We

73
were going to be driving through the mountains
for the next day and a half. Rockies, then the
Cascades.

As we gained in elevation, the light rain


turned heavy, the heavy rain turned to slush, and
the slush turned to ice, and then it got nasty.
I didn’t stop to think about how sparsely
populated that area of the country was, and we
made it to a Wal-Mart about a hundred miles south
of Montana with one squeaky windshield wiper, a
shot of gas in the tank, five hundred miles over
the oil change mark, and one barely awake driver
with white knuckles and a full bladder. We
gassed up and headed to Billings, Montana to
sleep in a parking lot until we could get an oil
change.

Around five in the morning, or so, a knock


at the window rouses me from a restful sleep.
Cops. I punched Kevin in the shoulder, grabbed
the keys to turn on the battery, and rolled down
each front window to greet the police officers at
either one. I kicked the bowl under the seat,
and grabbed for my wallet- which was under the
knife I used to eat my can of ravioli. The
officer at the passenger window puts his hand
nearer to his gun and says “Please do not grab
that knife, sir,” as I showed him my empty hands.
Walgreen's called the cops on us, the suspicious

74
vehicle from Michigan occupying the shady spot
near the dumpsters. Kevin had chosen a bad place
to park.

They let us go after they checked our ID's


and all of that. “We're just trying to make sure
you're not drug runners or serial killers is
all.” Fair enough, right? We asked them for
directions to the nearest Wal-Mart so we could
get an oil change.

75
Chapter Four – Montana

We woke up around nine in the morning in


the back of a Wal-Mart parking lot in Billings,
Montana. After getting a quick oil change we
gassed up once again, grabbed some food at the
truck stop across the street, and made our way
for Idaho. We enjoyed a scenic trip through the
mountainous stretch that makes up western Montana
and the Northern strip of Idaho. Beautiful snowy
mountain passes, and a heavenly descent into
Eastern Washington. After Kevin’s drive through
the rest of the Rockies, it was my turn to head
to the end of our seemingly endless trip from
Indiana on I-90. The western terminus of I-90,
in case you ever wondered, is a not-so-ceremonial
fork in the road in a mass of intersecting
highways somewhere in Seattle.

There’s something unnaturally calming about


Montana. There’s not much there but open space,
which is probably why they call it big sky
country. Most people that go there are probably
just passing through, most of the people that
live there probably dream about leaving if they
aren’t in the position to come and go as they
please. It feels like it’s not real, it’s only a
temporary place that exists when you go there,

76
and doesn’t exist any other time. Even if you go
back to the same place, it never looks the same.
As I was smoking a cigarette and mindlessly
chatting about my earrings with a truck stop
employee in Billings, I looked off into the early
morning horizon and saw nothing but blue sky and
endless possibility both in the terrain of
Montana, and in the terrain of my mind.

Here I was, far away from home and lost in


the endless ebb and flow of life. Surfing the
tides of change, wishing I knew where I was going
in life. Sure, I had my life planned out years
ago. Music, Art, Rock Climbing, dreaming, and
mind altering substances. That’s what my life
has always consisted of, and hopefully always
will consist of. I can’t help but find solace in
the uncertainty of where I’ll be in five years.
I could be a destitute wandering vagabond, or a
successful writer and musician. I will most
likely fall somewhere in the middle.

The only thing that’s really ever stayed


consistent in my life is the uncertainty of the
future, which has led me to wonder if the future
is really even a real thing, or just some idea
that we came up with so we could put off things
we really wanted to do until we had “time” some
“other time.”

77
I don’t give two shits, nor a fuck about
the future. As far as I’m concerned, there’s
only the past and the present. What happened,
and whatever is happening right now. I can make
plans to hang out with you tomorrow, but if your
drunk driving ass wraps your S.U.V. around a
tree, that won’t work very well will it? Time
moves in a straight line backwards from right
this second to back when some asshole decided to
divide into increments the movements of the sun
from East to West relative to a fixed position.
Long before we knew it was a giant ball of gas
thousands of miles away spewing out the nuclear
waste of hundreds of atom bombs every second, we
thought it was a chariot of fire being driven
across the sky by flying horses and some giant
man who knew how to make it so.

When you don’t care about the future, what


“will” happen becomes what “might” happen, and
once you get over the need to put things off, it
becomes “what’s gonna happen that you don’t care
about today.” Call me a pessimist, but it
wouldn’t surprise me a bit to not wake up one
day. In fact, I wouldn’t even know I hadn’t
woken up, because I wouldn’t exist anymore.
There’s no guarantee that I’m going to make it
home from Fourth Coast as I’m typing this.

78
You can’t change the past, you have little
to no control over the present, and if the future
even exists, it isn’t here yet so you can’t react
to it- and you can’t promise that anything will
happen just because you said or thought it would.
Maybe the future is useful for the calendar
industry, but if you don’t make calendars for a
living, then stop worrying about next week and
start making today the most important section of
time on your mind. Everyone always tells us
this, but no one ever listens. If today is your
last day on earth, who gives a fuck if you broke
a heel?

It’s kind of hard to keep yourself in check


when you have such a vivid imagination. I’ve
imagined myself as thousands of things, some
attainable, some not so much. The first thing in
life I ever wanted to be was a Ghostbuster. No
ghosts, no Ghostbusters. That one got shot down
real quick. The next was Astronaut, that’s a
little more attainable. Still, however,
mathematics have not always been a good friend of
mine, especially those involving variables, or
“letters” as I call them. That makes
astrophysics a bit out of my range. No astronaut
antics for me. After that it was musician, and I
never really gave up on that dream.

79
While all the adults in my childhood told
me I could be anything I wanted, I was always
stuck with wondering how, exactly. What if I
wanted to be an animal? A raccoon, maybe. I’m
about five feet taller than a big fucking
raccoon, I lack the requisite fur, and have a
much larger brain. If I had asked one of them,
the response would have been either “well, not
exactly…” or “why would you want to be a
raccoon?” Endlessly debunking and questioning.

Suppose I was a little more realistic or


cognizant as a child, and I said to myself “I
want to be an alcoholic restaurant manager making
only enough money to keep me alive but right
where I am on the socio-economic ladder with no
hope of going up a rung, being constantly berated
by fools” and I probably would have drank the
stuff under the sink my dad drew a skull and
crossbones on, waiting for the sweet darkness.

I might have a little more faith in myself


than that, regardless of how much faith I lack in
life. This is where I have to point out the
eerie correlation between “faith” and “hope.”
Right now, I have no fucking idea how to rescue
myself from the peril of being far more useful to
people than my spot in life requires of me. Most
people seek less work, less responsibility, less
thinking. I want nothing more than to be pushed

80
to the limit, accountable, and intellectually
challenged. Unfortunately, however, I’m stuck
without a college education for “proof” of my
abilities, the finances to move out of state and
“re-invent” myself, and the financial support of
friends or family to rescue me from my college
predicament. This isn’t a world for glory-
seekers.

Does that mean I need to lash out with


temper tantrums, a hostile demeanor, and vast
reserves of self pity? No. It just means I have
to get back on the horse and keep trying.
Challenges in life are there to allow you to
prove to yourself and others that you can rise
above the petty crap that keeps us from getting
what we want or need from life.

I know I’m no failure. The only people


that fail are those that can’t take things as
they come. Hurdles are to be jumped over, and
limitation is just another way of saying
“challenge” as far as it comes to “life.”

There’s another one of those mystical


concepts, life. What is it? The status of being
alive? Does that include consciousness? Plants
are alive, right? Ask any hippie. They may or
not be alive, but some of them sure are fun to
dry, burn, and inhale. Are animals alive? They

81
eat, shit, fuck, and move around. Some of them
are even capable of showing emotion, like cats or
dogs. Are they alive? As far as I’m concerned,
no. Plants and animals don’t have to wake up in
the morning and worry about being late for work.
Animals don’t need to worry about how they’re
dressed and how great their hair looks in order
to get laid. They don’t go to court when the
rent is three months late. They cannot operate a
computer, they cannot remember pi to any decimal.
Life is a concept we invented to refer to the
psychodrama that we create around ourselves as a
result of having too much intellectual capacity,
and living in the same world as animals that shit
without wiping their ass with ground up and
bleached trees.

When you’re driving through Montana, you


are driving through what separates us from all of
the animals we gave funny names like “squirrel”
and “porcupine.” You see the road carve
gracefully through the snow capped rocky
mountains. You see a gas station attendant
wearing a “USA” T-shirt with a menacing bald
eagle on it that cannot for the life of him
figure out how my earrings work. He was
fascinated! I had two hollow gauges in each ear,
#2, with captive bead #10 rings going through
them, all stainless steel. He just says “did

82
that hurt?” I said, “like a bitch, but I’m not a
fucking pussy. I drank a fifth of vodka and bit
on a piece of leather.” I’m pretty sure I
convinced him they hammered out a cumulative inch
of my earlobes to put those gauges in. I can’t
really say I convinced him, I had just said it
like I meant it, and he believed me. He didn’t
believe me because I was telling the truth, he
believed me because he thought I was telling the
truth. There is a clear distinction between
people who make and understand facts, and people
who hear and interpret facts. This makes for an
interesting epistemological conundrum.

What if I told the guy that my earrings


didn’t exist, that he was slipped L.S.D. in his
coffee, his wife is dead, and I am with the
I.R.S. coming to collect six million in back
taxes before I inform the D.E.A. and A.T.F. about
the illegal gun cache slash meth lab In his
basement. Would he have believed me then?

What if it was all the truth, and I was


just telling you a true account? Fiction, non-
fiction, newsspeak, political pundits, reality
television, national public radio, Harry Potter,
and papal decrees are all the same these days.
Coming up in the RSS feeds while you chat on
facebook and sip coffee. We have so much of a
hard time trying to sort between what was reality

83
two days ago and what was reality just now before
it changed again, that we didn’t even realize
that there was a difference until just recently.

We have all sorts of “concepts” like love,


the grace of god, and the internet. They are
nothing in the essence of no-thing. They are
linguistic and pseudo-visual representations of
ideas commonly held to be true, to varying
degrees of “truthiness.” God is a reason for us
not to hate this life in hope for a better one
later “at some time”, “Love” is a way for us to
add meaning to wanting to get laid, and the
internet is a worldwide haze of charged particles
flying through copper yet connecting us all in
this terrifying amalgamation of zeitgeist window
slash porn machine slash music store.

We live day to day with heavy concepts


running through our brains so much that we forget
to say thanks to the dude that held the door for
us at the gas station, we talk about community
action and never show up to committee meetings,
we call ourselves one nation under god even
though we have a thousand different
interpretations of that word and a good deal of
people not even acknowledging its existence, we’d
rather watch sports on television than election
coverage in a presidential election year, we’d
rather buy McFastfood than fry a potato and grill

84
a burger ourselves, and we’d rather pay someone
to groom our landscapes than learn how to prune a
rosebush, much less appreciate the history and
people that brought you that money, privilege,
botanical knowledge, land, free time, and then
not even look at the god damned roses let alone
smell them because you’re too busy thumbing away
on the old blackberry to notice the colorful
plant your gardener just put there. It’s her
favorite flower, but you wouldn’t care anyway.

But I digress; our social problems can’t be


solved by an angry twenty three year old in a
coffee shop with a laptop, so let’s get on with
the story. Montana is beautiful. It also serves,
at least to me, as a “gateway” of sorts from what
I knew (Michigan and the east side of the
country) and what I didn’t know (the Pacific
Northwest.) It served as a good metaphorical
bridge between moving out of a crack house and
moving forward in life. I think I might put a
little too much emotional investment into my road
trips, but I’m getting away from town in more
ways than just one.

A road trip is just the long road home.


You’re only escaping. You’re not truly putting
things behind you. Is that what we’re all doing?
Running away from life slash reality and trying
to escape it? Is that both our desire and our

85
demon? The desire to escape, and the want not to
have to? So is what’s keeping me going the
same thing that keeps me from getting where I
want to go, or am I serving my own destroyers by
allowing my desires to be provided to me by mass
market advertising and people that don’t matter
to me on a personal level in the slightest? I
wanted a new way home. Would I spend the rest of
my life in mental Montana, somewhere on the
northern border stuck in the mountains wishing I
was in Washington, D.C. making a difference by
forcing my opinions on others with slimy rhetoric
and soft money, or in D.C. wishing I was in big
sky country without all the noise and people? Is
there even a valid point to all of this drunken
nonsense I and we call life, considering we just
die at the end of it? What happens when the bank
fails? Did Hunter Thompson blow the last hope of
the American Dream out from the back of his
skull? Who is John Galt?

86
Chapter Five – The Fall of Rome

The bastardization of our wonderful western


mindset of heroes and success chasing has been
solely at the hands of the people that didn’t
bother studying history because it was “boring.”
Instead of having values like an impressive
vocabulary, we abbreviate words that don’t need
it. Instead of valuing athleticism, we’ve become
a nation of fat couch potatoes watching sports
and daytime television. Instead of gathering
together to exchange ideas, we go to the bar and
get trashed on money that would have been better
spent on books. Instead of trying to better
ourselves and valuing progress, we create the
welfare system and allow idiot fucks to breed
more idiot fucks and spend more and more of our
tax dollars on housing and feeding a new batch of
criminals and miscreants. Instead of valuing our
wonderful system of capitalism, we seek any free
handout invented by some asshole that felt he
should get something for nothing for being
different in some way from everybody else, be it
his age, skin color, inability to pilot a global
financial entity, or stupidity-related,
disability-causing accident. Instead of valuing
ourselves, we take every opportunity to demonize
others for whatever they’re doing that we don’t
like, even though it doesn’t affect or concern us

87
in any way. Instead of valuing the freedom our
forefathers fought so hard to guarantee us, we
seek whatever means necessary to limit the
freedom of others to worship Satan, abort
fetuses, and have gay sex while heading straight
to the authorities if someone tries to limit your
freedom to worship god, have your unviable child
and hate it, breathe our second hand smoke, or
to protest what you don’t like or understand.
Instead of having our own values, we ask
religious communities and mass media
conglomerates to tell us what’s important, how we
should feel and act, and what we should look
like. Instead of valuing anything, we expect
some kind of artificial and esoteric morality
that condemns us for being who we are while
demanding that we must think for ourselves. If
we have no access to our own freedom to live
life, do as we please, and pursue personal
happiness, we are morally bankrupt.

We have no capacity whatsoever to decide


what’s good and what’s bad. If we have no
freedom to do what we want or say what we want
out of fear of “offending” someone, we have
nothing. Nothing. When they wrote “we” as the
first word of the constitution, they meant all of
us. Not just me, and not just you. Limiting
freedom is impossible. Freedom is a means and an

88
ends in itself. It cannot be defined, contained,
or limited because it is the essential lack of
definition, containment, and limitation. Freedom
is to live free, and any attempt to add an
exception makes it non-freedom. You may not like
it if I say fuck in front of your children when
you’re the one that brought them to a bar after
ten, but I don’t like it when you tell me that
god doesn’t approve of it. Show me the bible
verse that says I can’t say the word fuck. Fuck
is an English word that didn’t exist when the
bible was written. In Greek. Back when America
may as well have been the Atlantic Ocean. Back
when “to be free” meant to be ruled by the Roman
Empire.

For thousands of years since we figured out


what freedom was, we’ve been trying to keep it
for ourselves and take it away from other people.
Freedom remains nothing but an ideal, a concept
we spend all our time citing as an impetus for
our actions that destroy the freedom of others.
It’s the same shit that’s been going from the
beginning of human dominance on the earth to the
minute the idiot fucks could get on the internet
at the library and post belligerently and
illiterately on message boards.

About two thousand years ago, mankind had


its first major struggle with one of its own. I

89
am not talking about Jesus paci-Christ. I am
talking about Caesar Augustus. When our robed
rabbi was somehow miraculously sucking tit milk
from a virgin in a stable somewhere in the
desert, Augustus was busy forming the largest
Mediterranean Empire of the western legacy. This
came, more or less, as a direct result of his own
personal diplomacy, cunning, and tenacity. Not
until Descartes did we know the concept of “I”
again. I blame “love your brother” Christianity
which at the same time quelled intellectual
uprisings and neglected the need to educate
ourselves about all the rotting buildings and
manuscripts around Europe while enabling the mass
mobilization of troops for a “religious crusade”
to “convert the infidels” who busily developed
algebra, the concept of zero, and took the time
to try to preserve the knowledge we figured out
thousands of years ago, and “god” told you was
blasphemous because it was made by pagan scum.
Fuck you!

Soon enough, all it took was another


“egomaniac” trying to take over Europe again.
This time, the big bad U.S.A. was around to smack
Hitler down, piss off Russia, bomb the Japanese,
and create Israel (and another century of
problems,) with one great bludgeoning from our
continent-sized dick. Now it’s about 2000 years

90
or so after Augustus bit the dust. We have fixed
most of the diseases except the really scary
ones, and we have much flashier toys than any
roman emperor could dream up in a million years.
But here we are still, stuck with 2000 year old
problems. How do we
kill/educate/manage/feed/avoid the poor? What is
the role of religion in a society? How do we
combat or deal with nature in a megalopolis oil
sucking economy? What do we do with all the dead
people? What do we do with the living ones that
piss us off? How do we punish them? What is
Justice? Who administers it? If our grandfather
built a building, do we have the right to tear it
down? What do we do when we run out of a natural
resource? How do we manage natural disasters?
Who decides which is right when we argue? What
manner of dress or speech is appropriate? Who
decides? Who will lead us? Who decides? These
are all ancient questions, which many have tried
to answer, but all have ultimately failed.
Without question, we are bankrupt on the morality
required to make such decisions. What made us
morally bankrupt? The sudden need of morals? Is
it because we finally have the ability to
intentionally destroy our planet? Do we? Have
you ever even personally seen a nuclear weapon?
I sure haven’t. But we know they exist, because
we (“America”,) dropped a couple of them on

91
Japan, a place I’ve never been, in 1945, forty
years before I was born. Yet here we are, here I
am, in 2008 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, fearing in
some detached kind of way that some Islamic
Extremist is going to send one our way.

Just flip a coin and say it’s us getting


bombed by them. Are Islamic Extremist terrorists
just idiot fucks with guns and a head full of
Orwellian propaganda? I’m sure there are an
equal proportion of idiot fucks in the Islamic
world to ours. I’ve known intelligent Muslims.
I lived with a few of them. I never felt
threatened by them, or their beliefs. How did
our hate shift so easily from communists and drug
lords to Allah worshippers and oil tycoons? Did
our national priorities change outright, or did
our national priorities reiterate themselves into
the new communists and the new drug lords? Are
we always just stuck perpetually hating those
that think differently than us, and those that
bring us what we want but won’t admit to wanting?

Blocking the citizens of a middle eastern


country into “A-rabs” is no more intelligent than
calling all of us Americans “whitey,” “WASP,” or
“Yankee.” People are people. It doesn’t matter
where they’re from, only where they’re going, and
what they take on airplanes. What is the fucking
point of devoting the entire civilization’s

92
intellectual efforts on bickering back and forth
about metaphysical afterlives and sucking our
limited supply of precious million year old
organic material into S.U.V.’s that we drive to
mega churches? And if a loving mother wants to
waive her right to bring another poor innocent
child onto this trash heap of a planet, she has
to get guilt tripped and harassed by the
religious right. I’m not going to start getting
on a soap box about “the issues” like some
delusional politician that thinks he can somehow
bamboozle the entire body politic to think, talk,
and act just like him. There’s a reason we have
a congress. Things like war, abortion,
immigration, taxation, and health care are things
that have so many different facets it becomes
wholly impossible to settle upon some majority
consensus. That’s why we’ve been mired in
legislation since the moment John Hancock signed
that god damned paper.

I’m not knocking on John Hancock, or any of


those dudes. Not at all. We all hang together
in treason, right? I’m just saying it didn’t
smooth out all the kinks, and I think they
realized that when they wrote it. All of those
papers. The articles of the confederation, the
constitution, the declaration of independence,
the bill of rights, and the emancipation

93
proclamation, just to name a few, were certainly
not drafted by idiot fucks. These men knew
exactly what they were doing, acted mostly
together, and left us with infinitely
customizable executive, judicial, and legislative
branches of government, all aligned in some
renaissance golden triangle of checks and
balances. It’s supposed to work. It works like
an injured slave. It works because it has to,
but can’t operate to peak efficiency outside of
the lash's reach. Our entire government and
political process is centered around debate and
argument. We’ve been customizing it ever since
in order to perpetuate the continual fucking of
the everyday Joes on behalf of major corporations
you've never even heard of.

History, as they say, has a way of


repeating itself. I recall browsing a book store
the other day and noticing the title “Are we
Rome?” in the modern issues section. I couldn’t
help but laugh out loud right there in the store.
I didn’t even need to read the book. I know
enough about the Roman period to understand all
the connotations of that phrase. There’s another
bromide I recall. It goes “what goes up must
come down.” Or how about “what goes around,
comes around.” Maybe “Whatever happens happens.”
Seems like I heard that somewhere before.

94
Romulus founded Rome after killing his
brother Remus and sucking wolf tits, the families
made it powerful after raping the sabines, the
republic made it great, Julius Ceasar made it all
powerful, Augustus brought it back together, and
then Christianity destroyed it hand in hand with
the moral decay that Christianity was protesting.
Now if I say “Columbus found it trying to find a
cheap way to get spices, the immigrants made it
powerful though continental genocide, the
constitution made it great, the westward
expansion made it all powerful, Martin Luther
King, Jr. brought it all back together, and then
Christianity destroyed it hand in hand with the
moral decay that Christianity was protesting,”
would you know what I was talking about in 2000
years? Don't you people understand that the
world exists how we've made it, not how we wish
it was?

If history is repeating itself, how is it


that we can watch television on our cell phones
but we still can’t figure out that we’ve been
trying to figure out why Rome fell since it fell?
We were wondering about the fall of the Roman
empire when “we” were still “Romans” and “now”
was 1500 years ago.

In the comic book Transmetropolitan, no one


knows what year it is. They just refer to “then”

95
as “X amount of years” ago. I always liked that
little bit of social commentary. Does it really
matter what year it is? We’re counting off since
“the birth of Christ” which was arbitrarily
suggested as the twenty fifth of December, but
somehow the year magically begins on January
first. Seriously, we base our calendar year on a
fictional event that doesn’t even happen on the
new year! What is wrong with us?

96
Chapter Six – History

Well, on the topic of the past, I


shouldn’t limit it to my own, or even just to
Rome's. There have been a lot of people on this
Earth before we got it. They all had to get up
in the morning just like we do, they had to meet
chicks and get laid, they had to find food and
money, they had to build nice places to keep
their chicks, they had to figure out their roles
in society, and they all died just like we will.

Before we had the ability to write down


what we were talking about with each other, we
had to conquer a few things first: fire, animal
husbandry, agriculture, specialization, trade,
language, and socialization.

I remember hearing a lecture once that


started “History begins at Sumer.” This is
commonly accepted, because we don’t have any
written record of what happened before the
cultures that developed in the four river basins:
Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Yellow, Indus. Notably,
Egypt, Iraq, China, and India. Sound a bit more
familiar now?

These writings found somewhere around the


Tigris-Euphrates, are actually triangles poked in
mud with sticks and then dried. These people
were the first to invent a way of tracking their

97
thoughts in a physical form, and thusly, the most
commonly known example that follows near the end
of the “History begins at Sumer” in history
textbooks is the Code of Hammurabi. Laws
literally written in stone. We get writing, and
what do we do? Figure out how to transmit useful
knowledge across generational lines? No. We map
out how to punish people that don’t do what we
think they should. We fucked up from the start,
and we just kept pouring salt in the wound.

After the Sumerian’s descendants and


neighbors made boats and started calling
themselves Phonecians, they crossed the
Mediterranean and found the Egyptians there
building pyramids and were like “wow, other smart
people- that’s awesome!” They didn’t fight!
They had no reason to. The Sumerians had their
river, and the Egyptians had theirs. They didn’t
even know about the other guys, and the other
guys didn’t know about them. Since they were
both smart, they started learning from each other
and selling shit. Egypt makes money, Sumeria
becomes Babylon. They both built pyramids. No
one really knows why.

After a while, people took their boats to


different parts of the Mediterranean and found a
bunch of places to live where there were no
idiots and they could fuck their wives in peace.

98
Also, dudes from India started talking to dudes
from China, and then the Babylonians met the
dudes from India, so now we all knew there were a
bunch of other people, and that we had a bunch of
land between all of us. We began selling shit to
everybody! Everybody stacked money piles,
everyone fucked, everyone built buildings.

After a while, society wasn’t based on what


river you lived nearest anymore. We could tame
the rivers with irrigation and flood control. We
had merchants, kings, farmers, blacksmiths, and
soldiers. Then instead of just trying to sell
our stuff to people, we realized we could just
beat them up and take it. We moved, then, from
being innovators to brutes. It was more
important to have a huge army than it was to be
smart and invent new stuff to sell. We didn’t
want new stuff, we just wanted more- and we
didn’t want to pay for it, we wanted to take it
from other people that worked hard to make it.

Then Greece came along. Greece was a


little bit different. Instead of having rivers
to deal with, they had mountains separating them
into little isolated communities we call “city-
states.” They feuded amongst themselves, allying
and backstabbing. There were several notable
city-states, but the one we know most about is
Athens. That’s where a lot of the coolest shit

99
went down that we hear about all the time. Names
like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pericles,
Eurypides, Xenophon, Thucydides, and Sophocles.

They decided that there were still


questions to be answered, and they developed
things we now call philosophy, science,
mathematics, physics, biology, rhetoric, and
politics. They invented this thing called
democracy, where they all tossed pot shards in a
bucket to decide which guy was right when they
argued. Democracy, as we understand it in modern
terms, is very far from this. We’re talking
about a bunch of people who got together on a
Saturday or what have you, and just talked about
stuff. Everyone could hear everyone else, and it
only mattered how good you were at talking if you
wanted to get something done.

Society became more and more stratified,


but it wasn’t as bad as what was going down in
India- by that time they had already decided that
all the things Greeks were arguing about were
decided by gods, and that those gods dictated
your life. Also, they had this awesome thing
called a caste system, where you were born into a
social strata that not only dictated who you
were, what you did, and what you could get, but
you couldn’t rise up or even escape! Bummer!

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The Greeks figured out a bunch more shit,
invented a few gods of their own, and built some
really cool looking buildings. They decided that
not only was writing words cool, but coming up
with words for things that weren’t necessarily
real was even better. They wanted to figure out
what made the world work. They started “schools”
to teach younger people what they had figured out
in hopes that the younger ones would elaborate on
it. Then what did we do? We killed Socrates
for making people think for themselves.
“Corrupting the youth of Athens,” or some other
nonsense. That was the moment western
civilization turned into war-mongering and
intelligence-fearing sociopathic curmudgeons.

Greece wasn’t the only place full of people


to start building buildings and getting smart.
People all over what we now recognized as a big
place, Earth, full of little places we named
arbitrarily. Like Kalamazoo. We really got into
naming things for a long, long, time. We named
things like bronze, iron, spear, shield, sword,
blood, violence, foreigner, and war.

Then there was a brief glimmer of hope when


some kid named Alexander decided to take over
what we then recognized as the world and make
everybody Greek. He didn't want to kill them, he
wanted to make them the same as him. He came

101
pretty fucking close. He took on his dad
Philip’s fight to destroy the Persian empire,
like the two dudes we know now both called George
Bush. The Persian empire, which is what Babylon
had become, was the bridge between Europe and
India, thusly China. The middle East. Instead
of relying on Babylonians to sell Greeks stuff,
Alexander wanted the Greeks to have all of it-
and he wanted everybody to start drinking and
having a good time while getting smart and making
cool statues. He got all the way to India, but
instead of taking it over, his soldiers were just
like “eh, whatever, fuck it- you guys just fight
with the Chinese.” Then Alexander unexpectedly
up and died, forgot to leave an heir, and his
generals split up the territory back into what it
was before.

Egypt became perpetually ruled by Greeks


named Ptolemy. Greece fizzled out and got taken
over by Rome, who now had the biggest dick. Rome
took all their cool ideas, renamed the gods,
forced the smart ones to teach their kids, and
then inherited the legacy. Rome came up with the
republic, where individual people were elected by
a big group of people to represent them in
government because everyone couldn’t get together
on Saturdays anymore. Some of them lived across
the ocean, some of them got too drunk on Friday,

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and some of them didn’t care- so now we had
politicians to “speak for us.” We just kept with
the frantic pace fucking up and shooting
ourselves in the metaphorical foot.

The Romans started by taking over the rest


of the Italian peninsula, and moving on across
the ocean to Northern Africa, but stayed away
from Egypt. They needed Egypt to sell them food,
and their dick wasn’t big enough to hit Egypt
from all the way across the ocean yet. Besides,
Egyptians were ruled by the Ptolemys, which were
installed after the whole Alexander thing
happened. Egypt was hundreds of years old back
then, and they took to Hellenization like ducks
to water.

Alphabetic language? Whoa! After spending


a good amount of time arguing amongst themselves,
and taking over other societies, the Romans
finally got too big to be ruled by arguments
between old men called senators. They needed a
dashing young man like Alexander to get them fat
paid and fat laid. A few dudes tried, named
Marius and Sulla, but their dicks weren’t big
enough. Then came the biggest dick of them all,
Julius Caesar. He whooped ass on all of the
hippies dancing around fires in what is now
France and Spain, and then butted heads with the
other guy trying to take over the world, Pompey

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Magnus. Pompey allied himself with what was the
faltering Roman republic and pussy slave-land
Greece, and Caesar took all of his soldiers,
promised them a bunch of money, land, and women,
then proceeded to totally whoop ass until he got
taken down by those old men in the Senate.
Before he died, he adopted some kid named
Octavian he had paid to go to school and get
smart, and left him the keys to the kingdom.

Since Octavian was still a kid, Caesar’s


general, Mark Anthony, tried to take it all for
himself. Octavian was a bit too smart to let it
happen. He was like “nah, how about we just team
up with this guy that has a bunch of money and
political clout, Lepidus, and with our three
dicks combined, we can get super laid!”

Mark Anthony was dumb as a post, so he was


like “sure, why not- one third king is as good as
one whole king, right?” He was a soldier, not a
scholar. Octavian realized he could steal
Lepidus’ money and political clout, that he was
smarter than the old men in the senate that
hadn’t gotten such a rad education, that once he
got money and political clout he could totally
whoop Mark Anthony’s ass, change his name to
Augustus, and then show that his dick was bigger
than everybody else’s. He won, and he did a
pretty good job of leaving a system that could

104
support itself even if someone that was a total
idiot fuck was running it.

Then a bunch of idiots ran it straight into


the ground, and eventually they fucked it up bad
enough that the smart ones couldn’t compensate
anymore, and after taking over a good chunk of
the world and getting a bunch of money, the Roman
empire split into two parts. All of a sudden, it
was the Europe half, and the Babylonian half
again. The eastern half became what we
retrospectively call the Byzantines, and the
western half became the Holy Roman Empire. Both
were still centered around Christianity. By
utilizing Christianity, and the belief in one god
that would punish you in an eternal afterlife if
you didn’t do what his earthly representatives
asked, some idiot fucks in Rome suddenly had a
strangle hold on everyone. This is where Europe
falls into a state of feudalism, resulting in the
dirt farming dark ages.

Now, instead of learning from the people


that came before us, we left it up to some
concept we invented called god that told us what
to do via the people we paid to save us from him.
After dealing with this, somehow, for about a
thousand years, people finally figured out how to
write down what they were thinking again, and
some dude named Gutenberg figured out a way to

105
not just write stuff down, but to write it down
again and again and again. What’s the first
thing we printed on a mass scale? The fucking
bible. Nothing but mistakes.

While the idiots around Europe tore down


the cool buildings because they had nothing
better to do, and destroyed all the knowledge we
had because it was thought up by “pagans,” the
folks in Byzantium and a bit further East were
nice enough to remember it all for us as best
they could. After we had a bunch of bibles
printed up, we thought we were cool as day old
dog shit, so we decided to go on a “crusade” to
bring bibles to those freaks across the Sinai
that had their own new version of monotheism.
They didn’t want our bibles, so they sent us back
with spices, algebra, and reminded us that there
were other places in the Mundo called India and
China that we could bring our bibles to.

So we started building bigger boats to


carry more bibles around that irritating
continent of Africa to get to the other places
faster than walking through Byzantium, because
they wouldn’t let us take the bibles through.

Then some ass hat named Christopher


Columbus, from Portugal, decided that instead of
going around Africa, we should just go around the

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world. Considering there wasn’t anything but
ocean to the West, he should just be able to hit
India without having to go all the way around
Africa. Brilliant. He ended up finding out that
there was another two continents, both a shit ton
bigger than Europe, that were chock full of
people to bring bibles to!

Turns out that not only did these people


not know about Jesus, but they didn’t even have
huge buildings like the ones falling apart in
Egypt, Sumeria, Greece, Rome, India, and China.
These people surely needed bibles more than
anyone else. They didn’t want our bibles,
either. Instead of just ignoring them like we
did the people to the East of Europe, we set
about destroying them so we could build big
buildings on their land after we took it from
them.

While the super Christians were out


evangelizing in the new world, there were a lot
of smart people left where Rome used to be, which
they now had divided back into city states and
took the books the people in Byzantium had saved
for them and started learning from history,
picking up the pieces where they left off with
Augustus. They figured out how to build cooler
buildings, make cooler statues, paint cooler
paintings, and they started valuing being smart

107
again. Finally. A good decision. We call that
the Renaissance. We started making cool words
for concepts again, but they all start ending
with -ism. Humanism, secularism, altruism, a
million of them.

While all of this was going on, there was


still an ass hole in Rome that was now called
pope, who called all the shots. Catholicism.
His authority wasn’t given by having a large
army, being smart, or having a big dick. He just
told everyone that he was the only one that could
talk to god, and since there were only a small
number of smart people around still, we all
believed him and did everything he said.

Sporadically, all across Europe, people


began to wise up and be like “yeah, whatever, I
don’t know about all of this pope to god
conversation business. “ Then some guy named
Martin Luther wrote down some words on a paper
that said, among other things, that the pope was
a charlatan, and he didn’t mean shit. Religion
was just about god again after that, and
hopefully we keep it that way.

After this took place, some people in


France decided that not only was the pope thing a
stupid idea, but so was the idea of having a king
or emperor there to tell everyone what to do.

108
They called this the enlightenment. Back to
India and China, who had a bit of an
“enlightenment” of their own. Seeing as how they
had spent most of their time to themselves, not
involving themselves with the two river basins to
the west of them arguing back and forth buying
all their stuff. While there was still a caste
system in most of India, some of the Indians and
most of the Chinese came up with this idea they
called “Buddhism,” where there wasn’t a god to
venerate, but a really smart guy that showed
everybody how to think for themselves. We,
western civilization, thought that Idea was
ridiculous, but our dick couldn’t reach far
enough to hit them with it yet. How could those
people get by without god telling them how to
live their lives?

After re-connecting with the other


inhabitants of Earth, knowledge began to freely
flow throughout communities again. A new idea
began to develop around Europe that involved
trying to use what knowledge of the Greeks and
Romans had been saved by others to re-tap the
knowledge and wisdom of the ancients.

A stand-up chap invented the printing


press, allowing for words other than the bible to
be easily spread about. Normal people could now
read again, and became used to having to think

109
for themselves again instead of listening to the
king or priest like their parents had done for
the last thousand years. Life didn't begin and
end on the farm lands of a feudal lord any more.
There were other options. They could own a
business. They could make stuff and sell it to
other people instead of taking it from them.
With incentives like that, we started to get
civilized again.

Then, all the smart people realized that


the super Christians had taken over this place
called America, where there was a bunch of land
to be taken, buildings to be built, and idiots to
take advantage of. Perfect! Just a generation
or two later, people we call the founding fathers
decided that if we wanted to become really cool,
we needed to have our own place called America,
not a bunch of colonies owned by European
governments. We asked the French to help us kick
ass on the British dudes who wanted to tax the
fuck out our tea, wrote the declaration of
independence, and all those smart people in that
room signed it, paving the way for us to fuck it
up again. Indescribably intelligent people like
Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas
Jefferson, George Washington, and other names
you've read a thousand times in American history
books. These guys spoke multiple languages,

110
built things you couldn't imagine building, and
thought about a wide array of concepts that don't
get covered on American Idol or Monday Night
Football.

They did a better job at making sure the


government perpetuated itself than Augustus did,
because they were able to learn from the past as
a direct result of both the printing press, and
the knowledge saved by the Byzantines and
Babylonians. They made decisions for an entire
nation of people based on asking metaphysical
questions, and actually answering them. What is
the role of religion in society? Personal. It
has nothing to do with government. Who leads us?
Somebody smart, in conjunction with another much
bigger collection of smart people that have the
authority to call him out if he isn’t acting
smart. Who decides? Us! But now, what if those
people try to fuck us over? We added another
factor to the equation. The judicial branch of
government. Now that makes three. One to lead,
one to question, and one to answer. A self
perpetuating, self balancing government. The
people that designed this for us were so awesome!
We just fucked it up again like we always do.
We, the people.

After fighting with the British, and


ultimately winning, America decided we didn’t

111
want to have anything to do with fighting between
each other like Europe did, so we expanded on the
city state idea, made them a bit bigger, and just
called them states. Now instead of having one
law that bound the whole nation, we decided that
we would agree on broad issues at the national
level, but then leave each individual state to
solve its own unique problems. Cool.
Localization helps manage local people
locally in the broader context of a conglomerate
nation of nations. We began to have a national
identity as the people who figured out how to
live the good life. We called it the American
Dream. Become what you want, because no one’s
going to stop you anymore. There isn’t some big
ass hole in the sky telling you what to do, there
isn’t a dick pope in Rome with a million dollar
hat telling you what to do, there isn’t a king
telling you what to do, and there isn’t a feudal
lord telling you what to do. Just you doing
whatever the fuck you please wherever you feel
like doing it.

We reveled in it for a while, but forgot to


realize that the rest of the world was still
mired in the river basin fight over who had the
bigger dick and who got to sell who what. The
smart people in America, and also in Europe, kept
inventing things that made life easier. We

112
called them machines. At one point, someone
started powering machines with the fire that we
discovered at the beginning. Talk about learning
from the past. When things burn, they release
energy. Contain that burning, contain the energy
-ergo- combustion engine. Some things release
more energy when they are burned, and can power
machines by converting heat energy into
mechanical energy by using pressurized steam.
Then we got industrialism, and the industrial
revolution.

Nearing and during the industrial


revolution, it was becoming fairly clear that
America would soon the biggest dick in the world.
For some reason, we forgot about that for a while
and started fighting with each other over whether
or not we would have slaves, and whether or not
the southern half of our country would become a
separate country. We killed each other for a
while, and then a badass giant named Abraham
Lincoln steered the smart people back to their
senses, planted the seeds of the civil rights
movement, and brought our feuding nation back
together. What did we do? Shot him in the head
while he was trying to watch a play.

After a few years of rebuilding our war-


torn nation and our relationship with the folks
down south, we built a stone dick in Washington

113
D.C. called the Washington Monument so everyone
could come and see in effigy how big it really
was. It took two world wars and an economic
crisis to prove it, but with one big swoop of
that giant American dick, we crushed Japan, saved
Europe from total destruction and sadistic
genocidal occupation, and everybody started
sucking the big American money-power dick. Then
Russia spat out the cum, which naturally offended
us. Communism.

They decided that it wasn’t selling shit to


each other that was cool, but that everyone
should be treated the same. They didn’t
acknowledge that people were the same only in
body and not in mind. That totally didn’t work,
but they were willing to try really hard, so we
let them. Well, we may have let them, but we
watched closely, and made smart Germans we didn’t
kill in the war build us dick shaped bombs to
shoot across the ocean, and across Europe right
at them. They were like “fuck that, our dick’s
bigger and we’re gonna build bigger dick shaped
rockets.” Inter-continental ballistic deep
dicking. Remote-control dicking. Eventually, we
made the dick shaped rockets so big that we could
shoot them all the way out of Earth’s gravity.
Then we got to thinking “let’s send our dick to
the moon.”

114
What the hell, why not, right? Our dick
shaped rocket made it, and a few Americans got to
show Russia how big our dick was from the moon.
And Neil Armstrong was like “That’s one small
step for man, on giant leap for mankind” … so
suck it.

Then America had a personality crisis.


After all those guys had traveled around Europe
showing everyone how big America’s dick was, they
wanted to start fucking chicks with it instead of
showing it to other guys and arguing about the
size. Fuck they did, producing the generation we
now call “baby boomers.” A few decades before
the second war, we had decided that women were
actually pretty cool. They had brains just as
big as men’s, and were capable of doing
everything a man could do. The only real
difference was, they didn’t have a dick. That
posed a very interesting question to us. If it
isn’t the big dick that makes us cool, what is
it? That led to even bigger questions,
questions we had put off answering for a few
thousand years while we were busy looking at
dicks.

We started including women, and then we


realized that we were oppressing people based on
race as well. We always had been. After all, we
had decimated an entire race of natives in our

115
land before we made it America. Our country had
a very large population of humans that happened
to have extra pigment in their skin, which we
used as an excuse to make them subservient to
people who didn’t have as much skin pigmentation.

Even after many of the more civilized areas


of the country gave up racism for good, there
were still a staggering amount of hold-outs. You
can't convince everyone you're right no matter
how hard you try. The poor black people didn’t
like it, but didn’t have much of a way to fight
back – so they dealt with it by inventing a new
kind of music. The blues. The blues was an
“uncivilized” form of entertainment off the
traditional road of oil paintings, poetry, and
classical music. It centered around a couple of
dudes with some instruments in the back room of a
bar singing about what made them sad. Talking
about the sadness somehow connected with other
people that were feeling sad.

That music turned into Jazz when it stopped


just being sad and progressed into a style of
music that emphasized individualized expression.
Idiot bigots said things like, “But if black
people are sub-human, how can they express
themselves?” It was music, I think, that
ultimately convinced white America that black
people were indeed cool enough to not look down

116
on all the time. From the late fifties on into
the early sixties, everyone was listening to
black people make awesome music on the radio, and
then being shocked to find out they were black
when they went to see them live. Imagine going
to a segregated concert. Wild, but it existed
within some of our parent's time. Less than 50
years go, man- black people were being treated
like a sub-human species. Second class citizens.

After the beat culture of white kids


hanging out with black jazz cats and writing
poetry on Benzedrine, we got the Beatles, who
created pop music by having white faces playing
black music. Even though we could begin to
accept black people, Communism was definitely
still an existential threat. There was a lot of
stuff going on around the world. It didn't seem
like America was always going to have the biggest
dick anymore. A president named John F. Kennedy
actually got assassinated, but no one really
knows why to this day.

This was 1963, one year before Martin


Luther King, Jr. came out of the woodwork and
showed the idiot white guys that still couldn’t
believe black people could be smart that they
were totally wrong. Martin Luther King didn’t
bring about a social revolution by sticking his
fingers in people’s faces and blaming them for

117
what had happened for two hundred years, he just
wanted it to stop. Reason had begun to win for a
change. Peaceful protest was working. After
agreeing with him, and taking massive steps in
not just understanding that black people were
cool, but that everyone had the equal propensity
to be cool, we shot him dead in 1968. Another
Kennedy died that same year. We keep making bad
decisions. Actually, a lot of strange things
happened all over the world in 1968.

About that time, we decided that we


wanted to take communism down once and for all,
but still didn’t want to touch Russia with our
dick, and we came up with this concept called
“mutually assured destruction” that meant if our
dicks crossed, the world would end. So instead
of crossing dicks and ending the world, we
decided to make sure that Russia remained the
only communist nation by sending airplanes full
of eighteen year old men into the jungles of
Southern Asia to prevent Russians from rubbing
their dick on Vietnam and giving them communist
H.P.V. We didn’t have A.I.D.S. to worry about
yet.

Everyone in America, including the blacks


and the women, decided that showing our dick to
Vietnam, and thusly to the rest of the world,
simply wasn’t going to work anymore, so we got

118
the hell out of there, and started listening to
disco and snorting cocaine. We kept fucking
each other, but now since the sixties blew social
reservations out the window, blacks were fucking
whites, chicks fucking chicks, dudes fucking
dudes, and no one cared about who had the bigger
dick, because everyone got to play with one if
they wanted to. The world caught up, and most of
the cool people decided that killing each other
was ultimately pointless, so we came up with the
United Nations, which is as close to ruling the
world as Hammurabi, Alexander, all the Caesars,
Christianity, and the pope ever got - combined.

After a few years of making lots of money,


building the coolest toys, and making more music
and art, everyone started to get closer to
answering the life questions we had been asking
since we were getting together on Saturday
mornings at the acropolis. We still couldn’t get
to the biggest ones. What is the good life? If
it’s not selling stuff to other people, taking it
from them, showing them our dick, or getting
laid- then what the hell could it possibly be? I
would like to, jokingly, suggest smoking weed
every single day. Or at least drinking some
whiskey. My dick does just fine hanging out in
my pants.

119
So then what happened? Shortly after World
War Two, the United Nations decided the Jews
deserved a place to live permanently. Instead of
arbitrarily picking a spot for them, the inserted
them into the traditional Judeo-Christian holy
land that had been contested territory since the
Romans. This land had been owned and operated by
Islamic peoples called Palestinians for hundreds
of years, and they didn't enjoy their land
getting chopped up by the U.N. All that much.
Still around this time, we found out that the
surrounding areas had more Oil than the rest of
the world combined.

Seeing as how the consumption of oil had


skyrocketed following the development of the
internal combustion engine, and of plastics,
everyone got the idea to invade these areas and
install governments friendly to selling Oil
across the world. Ever since then, the Middle-
East has been a battleground for civil wars,
invading armies with giant dicks, and new
religious crusades. The global count of bad
decisions and transgression continues to rise.

120
Chapter Seven – Transgression

After I moved to Kalamazoo in 1992, I


attended Catholic Schools until the age of 15.
Growing up in the Catholic school system, I was
always forced to feel sorry for my
transgressions. Forced to perpetuate my own
self-hatred. Forced to self-suppress my
dissenting opinions, forced to name by name the
things I had done that the church didn't agree
with. When I thought impure thoughts about the
chicks in my class, when I said 'fuck' too much,
when I stole beer from the keg after the fish fry
on Friday night during lent, or when I lied to my
teachers about sleeping in class. I was expected
to confess before god, but more importantly
before the priest. In this case, Father Mike,
our parish priest. From early on, I had
reservations about standing up, kneeling, making
gestures, and speaking openly with a group of
people in unison. Back then, I had no idea why,
I just knew it made me feel dirty in some way.
This, coupled with my taught fear of
transgression, caused me to buckle and kneel
before the priest that I knew had a personal
relationship with my parents, and to tell him
things I would never openly tell a middle aged
adult male in my adult life. You don’t need to
feel sorry for aborting your rape child. You

121
don’t need to feel sorry for masturbating. You
don’t need to feel sorry for saying “god damn, I
can’t take this shit any more, fuck it.” You
don’t need to feel sorry for feeling like you’re
a Nazi when you stand up and sit down like a
sheep in church. You don’t need to kneel before
anyone.

I’ve always been a big fan of the History


channel, if you couldn’t have guessed. I
remember noticing an uncanny correlation between
the marching Nazis in black and white and the
uniform “sign of the cross” making going on at
mass. I couldn’t help it. There didn’t seem to
be much of a difference. Blindly following a
leader just because you’ve always followed him
and everyone else you know does, too. Then, when
I wanted to do something stupid with my friends,
my parents or the idyllic “parent” would say
something to the effect of “if all of your
friends jumped off of a bridge, would you?”
Fuck no. I wouldn’t do something so stupid. But
shooting off illegal fireworks in the middle
school football field? That sounded a lot more
fun than jumping off of a bridge.

I have many transgressions. In accordance


with the Catholic Church, you probably do as
well. I could list them for you, if you wanted
me to. I harbor a small amount of that famous

122
Catholic guilt to this day. Everything I’ve ever
done that anyone ever told me was bad still
resonates in the back of my mind like I should
still care about it. I guess this is supposed to
be called a conscience, but that’s just another
concept invented by us to refer anything other
than the guilt put on us by others. I love to
transgress. Illegal drugs, drinking to excess,
sex before marriage, one night stands, obscene
language, blasphemy, pornography, strip clubs,
lying, cheating, stealing, gambling, anything.
I’ve read the Satanic bible, and I found it
more personally fulfilling than the entire
Christian bible. Thanks, Anton. I’ve broken
every commandment with the exception of “thou
shalt not kill.” Unless you count small animals.
All seven deadly sins, every venial and mortal
sin I can think of with the exception of the
above stated. I’m a proud, gluttonous, lustful,
lazy, wrathful, greed filled, and envious sinner.

Any person who tells you how to live your


life is a piece of shit. That decision is yours
alone. It is solely up to you to decide who’s
advice you follow, and who you tell to fuck
themselves. Your choice. Your mind. The only
transgression is failing to decide something for
yourself.

123
That’s it. The locus of human stupidity is
the inability to choose for yourself. If you
can’t think through the outcomes and make a good
decision for yourself, you are an idiot fuck.
This is the clear line that separates us. Those
that can take care of themselves, and those that
need to be told what to do because they lack the
required intellectual tools to judge for
themselves. This is what our fore fathers
thought the voting body might end up to be, and
that’s why we have the electoral college. It’s
an idiot buffer. If the presidential candidate
told you he’d give us all free pizza every day
for four years, a free line of coke, and a six
pack of strippers, he might win just for that-
and that’s why we need smart people in the
government to act as a tidal dam for the flood of
idiocracy that has taken over.

But, then, this negates the claim that the


government is run by the people, for the people.
How can we balance this without adding some sort
of public assembly outside of the three branches
of government? We have tried many solutions.
Lobbyists, special interest groups, government
watchdogs, and vigilante investigative journalism
to name a few. None of these things seem to
work. The problems are too big on a scale that

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affects the lives of millions of disagreeing
people with individual problems and needs.

You can, I wholeheartedly believe, teach


yourself not to be an idiot fuck. You can learn.
It’s what we do as humans. You had to learn
enough to eat food and not die, you have gotten
that far. Take some time to notice what’s going
on in the world around you. Instead of drooling
over the football stats on Monday night, and
wasting your life away at the bar the other six,
flip the channel to a twenty four hour news
network. So it's slanted and biased, at least
it's better than sports statistics. Take a look
at what’s going on in the different places on
your planet. You have to live here with them,
you should at least pay attention to what they’re
doing. It isn’t a transgression to think for
yourself, it’s a requirement and a responsibility
that you have as an adult capable of having
children.

I understand more than you know the need to


escape. Maybe football is your only love in the
world. It makes you so happy to watch those guys
play a good game, and you feel like knowing the
stats inside and out makes you more equipped to
talk to your friends. That’s fine. At least
you’re putting some intelligent thought into
something. Football isn’t a fool’s sport. It

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requires strategy, athleticism, and a sharp wit.
But there just seems to be an overwhelming amount
of idiot fucks that vacantly stare at a football
game because that’s what they feel like they’re
supposed to do. It’s no better than standing up
and sitting down in church without truly
believing what is going on.

Intellect seems to carry a red-letter “T”


for transgression these days. You'll actually be
looked down upon for being smarter than others.
Like it's an unpleasant and contagious disease.
You have to stand up for what you believe. You
can't just let other people kick you around,
forming your opinions for you. So we may not all
agree, and most of our intelligentsia is pitted
in an idealogical good versus evil contest.
Republican versus Democrat, Idiot versus Genius,
Atheist versus Religions, Scientist versus
Mystic, and so on and so on. Those with strong
opinions often disagree with one another. That
was the whole point of counting pot shards on
Saturday morning, three thousand years ago.

You can’t knock anyone for their personal


beliefs, no matter how much they disgust you or
you disagree with them. As long as you chose it
for yourself. With all the thought and decision
making required. If you cannot, you are an idiot
fuck.

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There are billions of people in this world.
We’re all stuck here together, whether we like it
or not. We have to get along, whether we like it
or not. We’re all different, whether we like it
or not. We speak different languages, we have
different standards of beauty, different
understandings of law, different takes on
spirituality, different cultural undercurrents,
different customs, different dreams, and
different personalities. No amount of arguing is
going to change that. No amount of diplomacy is
going to make large, diverse groups of people
over a broad geographical area agree on every
little aspect of life. This idea is tedious and
retarded.

I’m not admonishing anarchism, or even


moral anarchy. I’m just saying that sometimes
we’re not always going to agree. It’s both a
secular and religious law that forbids killing,
but it happens every day in our cities, and often
enough on government sanctioned battle grounds.
We will never escape violence, we will never
escape categorization, we will never escape each
other, we will never escape the Earth, we will
never escape death, and we will never escape the
struggle of dealing with a complex society.

I think it might be time for a new


revolution. Not some stupid “lets grow out our

127
hair, rub patchouli on our bodies, and smoke pot
while watching a jam band” revolution. A real
one. Like the industrial revolution, the
technological revolution, the sexual revolution,
the civil rights revolution, or the internet
revolution. This time, we need to get to the
root of what’s been plaguing us all this time:
an intellectual revolution. A revolution of
ideas, not of blatant uprising. A peaceful
protest against the refusal to understand where
we came from, and where we're going.

It’s not that hard, people. It’s time for


the smart people to stand up and say, “we’re not
going to cater to you idiot fucks anymore, we’ve
had enough- and we’re doing something about it.”
Educating the next generation is the most
important thing we need to do. People have to
understand that entertainment is entertainment,
and real issues can't be decided in a one-hour
debate on TV. We can’t tolerate letting them
turn our kids into glue sniffing, hygienically
challenged, date raping, society deteriorating
psychic vampires!

128
Chapter Eight – Let’s All go to the
Apocalypse!

I had a dream. One of those dreams. The


dreams that seem to permeate your waking mind for
days and days after it occurs. The kind of dream
that would cause some guy named John to write the
book of revelation. The kind of dream that you
can’t easily write off as a figment of your
overactive imagination. The kind of dream that
seems as if you’re telling yourself something.

It was another dream in a long stream of


reoccurring dreams set in a large city, seemingly
in the present. During these dreams, I would
travel from my apartment to various destinations,
usually accompanied by real life friends. We
would encounter normal things, nothing out of the
realm of real world possibility. Bums on the
street, a swanky uptown bar, a shopping mall,
maybe a nice stroll in a dream city park. Except
for the one time I dreamed of Barack Obama as a
lounge singer belting out “I'm The Slime” by
Frank Zappa. That was a bit wild.

This dream, while beginning in the same


city, took a bizarre turn for the downright
apocalyptic. I found myself in a new part of the
now familiar city. This time around, a dimly lit
bar inside an airport gate. This is obviously a

129
special, privately owned gate, because it has a
distinct hunter’s lodge feel. Looking out the
windows, I can see a long sea of pavement where
airplanes are taxied down runways with a
cityscape backdrop of high-rises and smog. There
is ancient-looking stained wood paneling on the
walls, and various sporting man memorabilia, much
like a theme restaurant. There’s antique fly
fishing rods and bolt action rifles mounted near
taxidermies of a vast array of wild beast and
fish.

I’m sitting at a circular wooden table with


five other people in black hoods. We all drink
gin from dark, hand-carved, wooden cups. I can
taste the juniper, and feel the familiar warmth
of it flowing down my throat. I have an eerie
sense of perception in this dream world, now – as
I am familiar with it and comfortable in it, even
while in a dream state.

I ask one of the hooded figures where we’re


headed. One turns toward me, face shrouded by a
shadowy black veil, who calmly mutters, “Belize”
in a low, but oddly reassuring whisper. I look
past him through the window to see a 1930’s era
prop plane with what seemed like yellowing canvas
wings and ancient engines sputtering thick black
smoke. We all silently stand and file out the
doorway to the tarmac, where we are motioned by

130
airport personnel to climb the staircase to the
airplane. At the base of the staircase, we meet
the pilot, none other than Teddy Roosevelt, 26th
president of the United States, long since dead.
I know by now that I am in for a hell of an
adventure. He’s not wearing a black cloak like
us, he’s dressed in his stereotypical suit and
monocle, looking eerily similar to the monopoly
man.

After a long, bumpy ride low to the ground,


which magically lasted a short time in my dream
world, we landed in a grassy airstrip far away
from any cityscape or natural feature I am
familiar with, though the terrain is obviously
earthen. I’m used to having strange dreams, and
I’ve always taken extra care in noticing details
so as to broaden the experience.

After getting off the airplane, we walk a


few hundred feet down a dirt trail to a horse
stable, where we are told by Teddy to “mount and
ride” as we begin a single file descent on a dirt
trail to the lush river valley. There are
wildflowers and long grasses growing everywhere
in this stunningly beautiful tract of land. We
follow the river to a delta, presumably now in
Belize, where we are introduced to a small, dark
skinned, Spanish speaking man named Pietro, who
motions toward a small, rackety looking boat with

131
a seemingly underpowered outboard motor. Teddy
politely takes his leave, with a graceful bow and
the tipping of his hat.

The figures and I board the boat, as Pietro


sets off to sea from the river delta, following
close to shore. We bear south, with rocky
sandstone cliffs jutting up on our right side.
The boat, although sadly underpowered, makes its
way slowly down the coast. Off in the distance,
I can see a canyon materialize from the fog on
the horizon that seems to be cut straight down by
a narrow river. We turn into the river, sailing
down a corridor of sheer cliffs rising up at
least three hundred feet in the air. The river
flows into a small circular pool, also surrounded
by sheer cliff faces with a small sandy beach
opening into a cave on the far side of the
circle. Over the mouth of the cave flows a
raging waterfall, falling from the height of the
rock faces around us. I found myself wishing
inside my dream that it wasn’t a dream so I could
take advantage of such a picturesque scene.

Pietro ties the boat ashore after running


it up onto the beach. He points, and for the
first time, he speaks. His words come out as
Spanish, but somehow I understand what he’s
saying perfectly. My Spanish is alright, but not
nearly as good as it would have required to

132
understand what he was saying to me. He says
“only one may enter.” Sounds exciting, and I’m
willing to bet it’s going to be me. Dreams have
a way of working out like that.

The hooded figures all bow their heads, and


Pietro points at me and says “You have been
chosen,” and moves his gesture towards the
waterfall. The dream is not lucid, as I don’t
have a necessarily voluntary control of my body
and thoughts, but I feel extremely compelled to
do as this man says. As I walk through the
waterfall, I turn back to see Pietro sailing the
figures away back down the narrow channel we had
just sailed through. I take a deep breath and
enter the cave proper, which opens up into a
surprisingly large cavern, with an obvious path
straight ahead, through a narrowing passage that
fades into darkness.

I take a burning torch from the wall, and


proceed down the path. After passing, I
encounter another large room, where I see three
doors with distinctly Mayan looking carvings all
over the walls. The doors each three different
symbols and figures. On the farthest to the
left, there is stylized carving of a sun rising
with rays radiating from a half circle. Inside
the pediment rests the figure of a bird with
wings outstretched to the sky. On the center

133
door, there is a carving of a setting sun, with
rays radiating downwards, and a jaguar figure
waiting to pounce. On the right door, there is a
circle with a dot in the center. Inside the
pediment rests a crouched human figure with four
faces, each displaying an expression of intrigue,
sadness, happiness, or ambivalence.

This is where it starts getting intense. I


am compelled to closely examine the door on the
left. I press on the cold stone, and hear a
noise behind me. Wheeling around, I see Pietro
standing in the doorway, leaning on one wall. He
calmly says, “witness the beginning.” Hadn't he
just sailed away with the hooded figures?

The door fades away like a dissipating fog,


and I see a grassy hill on the other side.
Stepping out onto the hill, I can see a landscape
that stretches as far as my eye can see. Gently
rolling hills and grassy fields reminiscent of
the airstrip’s surrounding area with one clear
distinction. As I gaze above the horizon, I am
encountered with the night sky as it appears on
Earth, only without the familiar stars twinkling
against the black backdrop of space. The area
around me is still lit somehow, and I can see as
if it was daylight, but the night sky seemed to
be more clear and dynamic than I was familiar
with, despite the unnerving lack of stars.

134
As I focus my gaze on a nondescript point
somewhere far in the distance, a bright white dot
of light appears, and rapidly grows larger. I
hear the shrieking scream of a giant bird as it
swoops in from the right side of my peripheral
vision across my field of view like a bolt of
lightning. As it comes into contact with the dot
in my view, the universe seems to violently erupt
and explode in front of my eyes, and the bird
leaves in its wake the familiar night sky, with
millions of tiny speckles of light permeating the
darkness.

As the bird passes my field of view back on


the other side of the horizon, I hear the word
“witness” resound through the hills and seemingly
through space itself. A great gust of wind
nearly knocks me off of my feet as the ground
begins to crack and break around me, tossing me
violently and making a god awful racket. As the
hill I’m standing on breaks off and appears as if
it’s going to sink into the abyss, it turns into
a giant wooden sailing ship as the blowing grass
and crumbling earth transform into a raging ocean
tempest, with powerful wind and driving rain
coming from black clouds that have quickly rolled
in from my left, obscuring my view of the sky as
the ambient light fades away. I look up to the
tallest mast to see the bird, now gilded, perched

135
atop the mast like a harbinger of destruction. I
am no mariner, and that bird was no albatross.

With a burst of lightning, and an immediate


loud crack of thunder, the seas calmed and the
storm clouds faded away, revealing a bright blue
sky. I find myself floating in Pietro’s boat,
staring at the waterfall from the center of the
cove. Pietro asks of me, “do you wish to
continue?” I never replied, at least not
vocally, but I can sense at this point that
Pietro is some sort of guide, not there as a part
of the experience, but merely an arbiter. I
stepped back onto the shore, cross under the
waterfall, and head back into the cave without
turning back.

Where the door I entered had stood was now


a ruinous pile of dead looking stone, and the
stone bird was nowhere to be found. I notice the
eyes of the stone jaguar above the middle door
have turned an iridescent glowing jade green,
glinting in the light from my torch. I hear
Pietro say “proceed” from behind me, but I
already know what must be done. As I approach
the door, it swings open, smacking the stone wall
with a tremendous thud resounding as the world
around me fades away. The ground disintegrates,
and I float in space like I’m swimming in a pool
with no water. A cobblestone bridge appears

136
under my feet, bridging nothing, going nowhere,
with no supports or final destination in sight.

I start running as fast as I can towards


the fading lines of the bridge far off of in the
distance. I notice that I am no longer clothed
in a black robe, but stark naked. I turn to my
right to see a jaguar running next to me and
keeping pace. As I look into it’s eyes, I hear
Pietro’s voice softly speak the words “Witness
the end.” The Jaguar immediately speeds up to
an incredible speed and screams “I am the end” as
it becomes a glimmering black and jade streak
fading into the horizon. I can see land
materializing at the end of the bridge where the
jaguar’s figure has faded into the black. The
bridge terminates onto the grassy hilled
landscape of my previous experience in the last
room. I see the unrestricted view of the
dazzlingly clear night sky. The golden bird
screeches in the distance like it had before, but
as it reaches its apex, the Jaguar leaps from
somewhere in the hills and grabs it by the neck
in mid arc.

Whoa.

Everything begins to rumble and quake


around me again as the universe begins to suck
itself back inwards towards the point at the

137
center of my vision. I feel myself being pulled
very quickly towards the center along with the
rest of the universe. The land around me falls
away as I begin to float past planets, comets,
stars, asteroids, nebulae, galaxies, and cosmic
debris as I come to a stop, floating just outside
our own solar system. I arrive just in time to
see the golden bird burst from the center of the
sun as the planets align like pigs for slaughter
allowing the bird to blow through them like a
bullet through glass. As I watch our entire
solar system get systematically destroyed one
planet at a time, I start rushing with the cloud
of debris quickly toward the center of the
universe (apparently.) I hit it, which happens
very chaotically with the spaghettification and
the whole nine yards, and everything turns black.
In the distance, I see the fading specter of a
jaguar in the distance carrying the now limp and
stone colored bird proudly in its jaws by the
broken neck.

The cave rises above me in an instant, and


the second door has now crumbled to dust and the
third door is left wide open, with Pietro perched
at the top. He’s crouched in the same position
as the figure had been previously. He looks me
sharply in the eyes, catching me off guard, and
says “witness your true nature. You have no

138
choice.” With that, he jumps from his perch,
walks coldly past me and through the waterfall
where he dives into the water and swims top speed
toward the river on the opposite side.

I reluctantly enter the room on the other


side of the open door, where I am confronted with
a small circular stone room that seemed like a
castle tower. Light comes in through skylights
in the rafters, and the air seems musty and thick
with dust that scatters the light into visible
beams stretching down to the floor. The beams of
light fall on various broken and fading musical
instruments surrounded by crumpled up pieces of
loose leaf notebook paper. The floor is sandy,
but firm to walk on, and I pace about the room
trying to make sense of the crumpled paper and
broken instruments. I glance over to a broken
half of a cello, as a puff of smoke rises taking
the form of Pietro who has a sad look on his
face. He seems reluctant, yet determined to
speak as he slowly utters “We cannot go forward,
it has been interrupted.”

As he says those words, I am shocked back


into reality by the screeching yelp of my alarm
clock next to my head. I rub my eyes in angered
disbelief, and violently strike the snooze
button. I fall quickly back asleep, and find
myself in an obvious tourist shop. I look around

139
to notice that the shop décor is uncannily
similar to the décor in the airport lounge. I
walk over to a map display, and pick up a map
that says “A sailing sportsman’s guide to the
coastlines of Belize.”

I tear open the map and frantically try to


locate the cove I had been occupying, to no
avail. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn
around to see a fat middle aged woman with
graying hair and a camera strapped around her
neck. She flashes a friendly smile and says “Did
you take the coastal tour? These things always
seem to end way too soon.”

“You wouldn’t believe the half of it,


lady,” I say with a movie star smirk. As I look
over her shoulder and across the room, I see
Pietro leaning against a rack of pastel shot
glasses staring right at me over the brim of a
wooden gin cup grinning wryly as my snooze fires
up again. I tear the alarm clock from the outlet
and throw it across the room unable to fall
asleep again as I’m forced to accept that I can’t
find my true nature in a dream, and have to get
ready for work.

Dreams are very interesting. I’m not much


for interpreting dreams, nor do I believe that
they necessarily have meaning. There just seems

140
to be some dreams that scream “I’m trying to tell
you something.” I remember watching a movie
called Waking Life that brought up the cool
little pseudo-philosophical idea that you can re-
live your entire life, or have a different life
entirely, in the dream world in the first few
minutes before your death. It was interesting.
Mostly avant-garde and artsy, but the point got
across. There’s a few sequences near the end
about lucid dreaming and finding out if you’re in
the dream world. It’s worth a watch if you ever
get the chance. It just goes to show you how
some people can find meaning in the strangest
parts of the world. There always seems to be
some new angle on an idea you’ve heard a thousand
times, and as soon as you think you’ve gained an
understanding about something in this constantly
changing world, you’ll come to realize that you
don’t know a fucking thing.

141
Part Two

The Present

142
Chapter Nine – I Make Burritos for a Living

Oftentimes, standing behind a cash register


for twelve hours in a day makes me want to shoot
the brains out from the back of my skull. The
dreadful barrage of mindless idiot fucks that can
pour into a restaurant is physically disgusting.
Everyone has to eat, right? That means we get
everyone at a restaurant; every little
stereotype, archetype, and mongoloid personality
prototype. Jung would have gained a much broader

143
appreciation for psychology if he worked at a
shitty hole in the wall restaurant.

I’ve seen them all. The guy that pretends


to be an expert on everything with the
horrifically giant thing growing on the back of
his greasy head. The never say die hippie
washout with the Tevas and white ponytail. The
drug dealing black guy with a diamond stud in his
ear big enough to put on a Stepford wife’s ring,
rope thickness gold chains, platinum tooth
covers, and a six inch stack of fifty dollar
bills that walks out to a shit pile car from the
eighties. The crooked toothed bitch of a fat
woman with body rolls leaking from her sweat
stained sleeveless plain color cotton tee shirt.
The drunk Fed-Ex guy that has such an unhealthy
obsession with sadomasochism he can’t shut up
about it. The lonely balding thirty something
staring at the bartender’s ass wishing he had
found the one before it was too late. The
immigrant, doesn’t matter where they’re from,
fresh off the boat visibly struggling to remember
how to say “onion.” The narcissistic spray
tanned sorority girl loudly chomping on gum and
chatting away on her phone. The greedy yet
thrifty business man in a polo shirt who’s
bumming about the economy and his wispy stock
portfolio, so uses a coupon and tries to talk me

144
into giving him extra meat for free. The well
meaning, but neurotic frizzle haired lady that’s
trying to convince me the tomatoes in the salsa
have “gone sour.” The charlatan art school
students with turtlenecks and berets. The
wandering schizophrenic that asks me if I had
seen Santa Claus just now because that
motherfucker owes him money. The smelly unshaven
fat guy with the all your base shirt that you
know just wants to go home and spill burrito all
over his keyboard jerking off while he pretends
he has a personality in an internet webcam chat
room account his mom pays for.

There’s always the nameless scruffy “rebel”


face with the mall-bought pre-torn khaki pants
and a factory faded Che Guevara shirt. The
terrifyingly cute, yet tragically clueless blonde
in the giant bug sunglasses and a striped pink
and white sundress that barely goes down her
thighs. The couple that argues with each other
about whether or not the wife has a hat like
mine, which turns into an argument over whether
or not the husband likes hot sauce on his tacos.
The grandfatherly wise old black man with the
classy hat to match his three piece suit, with a
soothing southern drawl that, although very nice,
is holding up the now very long line. The
squirmy democratic party weasel that drinks free

145
tap water while reading newspaper articles out
loud standing so uncomfortably close that you can
feel his rotten breath on your neck. The sunken
eyed bulimic that orders something the size of
her torso, and pukes in the garbage can instead
of the toilet. The balding middle management
jackass that won’t stop giving me cliché in-store
marketing ideas. The flashy rich kid with his
pink collar flared up, too much gel in his short
bleached-blonde hair, and aviator sunglasses that
might hide his bloodshot eyes but can’t cover the
white powder stains on his nostril. The
stuttering meat head that just wants meat and
cheese, so he can drip another stain on his
fading NBA jersey. The cheerful blind guy with a
wild beard that comes in to chat it up with me
about classic rock while ‘accidentally’ bumping
into women’s chests. The spaced out soccer moms
way too fucked up on vicodin and xanax to be
driving a two ton truck full of children. The
psychotic leather skinned cougar in a tight black
dress sucking down Marlboros and well whiskey
like there’s no tomorrow. The all too familiar
“wishing for something better” look in the eyes
of a fellow restaurant slave in a food stained
uniform. The vapid stare of a teenage girl that
doesn’t want a taco, but that’s what abusively
drunk daddy is going to buy for her, god damn it.
The groups of military recruiters who bring in

146
fresh meat for preliminary brain washing
sessions. The wandering Jesus freak that tells
me to walk in the footsteps of the lord and have
a blessed day. The chatter jawed meth head that
comes in and talks to me about Slayer albums, and
how bad Metallica has sucked since they met Bob
Rock, and even though the new album is good
without him, they’ll never be the same again.
The gay old man with dangly earrings that calls
me “sweetie” and “hot buns.” The screaming red
faced drunk idiot that met the owner at a bar
some time last March and demands a discount
because of it. The street kids that come in for
a drink of water, then use the bathroom to piss
on the seat, wipe shit on the walls, plug the
sink, and carve “fuck” in the mirror. The
“insert random face here” teenagers in European
soccer uniforms that make me turn off the history
channel so they can watch poker on the T.V. with
audio. The guy in the decked out Jeep that gets
mad because the drink isn’t free with his burrito
on Wednesdays, only on Fridays.

Then, of course, there’s the long haired


white guy wearing too much stainless steel
jewelry that’s behind the counter ringing you up
and wishing he could take a break just long
enough to head out back to the cooler and kill
himself, but he won’t be able to step away from

147
the cash register for the next six hours. I
could go on and on for forever and a day about
the people I see while standing behind that
screen and pressing buttons. One of them told me
once, “it takes a lot of people to make a world.”
I guess so, huh? Some of them tell me we’re all
the same, and some people tell me we’re all
individuals. No matter what side of the fence
you’re on, the next time you stop at a
restaurant, take a second to step back and see
what that poor fucker behind the cash register
has to deal with for a change. Put a dollar in
his tip jar, because he deserves it. If he’s an
asshole to you, don’t take it personally- it gets
really hard to tell who’s going to treat you like
shit and who’s going to be that refreshing face
in the crowd that says “hello” back to you before
going ahead with making demands to fill his
stomach.

There’s a good side to this equation as


well. Not everyone is a piece of shit, saying
that would be out of line. I’ve run into plenty
of perfectly pleasant people. People that return
your eye contact and greeting with a smile, a
friendly hello, and maybe even some sort of bland
conversational bromide like “crazy weather,
huh?,” or “how’s your day,” or sometimes even
“ooh! I really like your earrings!” The lady

148
that came in last week, and remembered the
conversation you had with her about your trip to
California. The guy that asked your name after
you remembered his order, and then shook your
hand with respectful vigor while looking you in
the eye and honestly saying “pleased to meet
you.” The family with children that stay
respectively silent when in line, order their
food politely, and don’t make a mess of the
table. The strippers that toss a few free passes
into the tip jar with one of those winks that
would sell her to any joe six-pack stupid enough
not to figure out what’s happening to him, but
can also tell a long story about the girl’s
comfort level with herself. The guy next door at
the pizza place who just came upon some killer
weed and wants to spark one up after close. The
people who say “excuse me” before they interrupt
what I’m doing to ask me to get something for
them. There is always the kind old man with a
dear old lady that wisecracks his way through the
whole transaction with the whimsy of wisdom
beyond words. Anyone, really, that’s nice enough
to look you in the eye, speak politely, and show
some small sliver of respect.

That’s all we’re asking for. You don’t


need to ask us about our personal lives unless
you’d really care to know. Just be pleasant, and

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we’ll probably do the same. Don’t make
ridiculous demands of us, talk on your cell
phone, leave your trash everywhere, hit your
children, or fight with your wife in front of us.
We don’t want to see it anymore. Keep it at
home, America. Keep it at home. Your own
personal transgressions are yours alone to cope
with, but transgressions are only side tracks on
the path. Just don’t involve the poor guy at the
restaurant in your personal struggle for
understanding. March from birth to death with
your own god damned feet. Jesus won’t carry you
down the beach, and I won’t either- unless you’re
a chick and you’re going to suck my dick.

We’re all wondering what the hell the point


of all of this is, and we’re all stuck wandering
around with our heads up our asses thinking we
know everything about whatever’s going on when
the truth is that none of us know a god damned
thing in comparison to what we all know together.
It’s a world made for a nice ivory tower
philosopher like myself to lend a hand in the
global misguiding. There are so many avenues to
explore as a human, so many different
circumstances you can be born into and rise
above, so many different people you can see and
interact with, so many monuments that we watch
fall into disrepair and crumble to ruins as

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reminders of how great some dude was that most
people don’t care about anymore anyway.

So I keep beating around the bush with this


concept of “the good life.” What is it? This is
where I climb to the highest part of my ivory
tower and say the good life is a life lived free
from regret. Free from fear of transgression,
and free from fear of reprisal. Free from
random acts of mindless terror by idiot fucks.
Free from corrupt government.

The good life is not a life free from pain,


suffering, contempt, reaction, disagreement,
death, consequence, fear, and anxiety. There are
still things that occur out of random chance that
we cannot control or avoid. There is eternal
uncertainty, but that’s a matter for the future.
You have got to take the good with the bad. The
good life cannot be lived without understanding
the bad life. You can’t ever know everything in
your life time, but there’s no sense in giving up
the attempt.

The trying times in life allow us to enjoy


the times we’re happy, and sadness reminds us
that we’re human. Anxiety reminds us we have a
limited amount of time. Suffering reminds us of
all the other people in the world that have
things worse off than we do. Pain reminds us

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that no matter how strong our convictions,
sometimes it’s hard to accept what happens around
us. The death of others reminds us that we, too,
will die like everyone else. Contempt reminds us
we can’t always be right, and that everyone has a
different opinion. There are many conceptual
forces that intertwine with reality to make our
surroundings a dynamic place where we are left to
wander around and try to find our way.

The good life, itself, might be the end


goal that we’ll never be able to reach as a
society simply due to the fact that it can mean
so many different things to so many people. The
good life functions as both a distant point on
the horizon, and a never ending ideological quest
to render some sort of ultimate realization of
what we want but can’t have.

Can I live the good life while spending my


life wanting more, and making burritos for a
living? I don’t know. Sometimes I can’t see
what the point of wondering, or even hoping for a
better tomorrow is. Any way you slice it, it’s
going to be a long road home. And in the end,
whether we figure out ourselves and the balance
between who we are and what we want out of life
or not, we’re all still going to die. Fuck.

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Chapter Ten – A Renaissance man

We have a tendency to grow up really fast


these days. We’re subjected to the visceral
images of an intellectually diverse world from an
early age. Some of us are born into strange
circumstances, but we’re all forced to come to
grips with reality sooner or later. It doesn’t
matter how silver your spoon is, some time you’re
going to have to eat with it.

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Mankind has begun a conceptual struggle
with what its technical makeup is. The
ideological attempt at “diversity in unity,” and
the global crusade to bankrupt itself fighting
hunger and poverty in rat hole nations with
corrupt governments has left us wondering if
we’re really doing any actual good. Are we right
to interfere with their ways of life? Are we
right to question other people’s right to live
in, love, and lament their seemingly forced
predicaments? What if you had the misfortune of
being born into some bombed out wasteland, trying
to pick up the pieces of other people’s lives
while simultaneously trying to create your own?
Would you want someone else coming in and talking
about how great they have it and how they can
help you as long as you do what they tell you to
do?

Why should we, as a nation, bankrupt


ourselves interfering with the lives of others?
We, as Americans, eliminated racism and sexism in
our society with the exception of the few
outliers and people no one else likes anyway. A
“man,” in literary terminology, as a member of
“mankind” has become an ambiguous, nameless,
faceless, shapeless pseudo-ideal that we all
metaphysically long to become in our constant
search for what we call “fulfillment.”

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Functioning in the world today requires a
tremendous amount of knowledge that some people
just aren’t capable of possessing. Social
evolution has become so frantically paced that we
find ourselves all floating in a sea of
technology, networking, interfacing, downloading,
uploading, communicating, searching, and
classifying. How does one represent his or
herself as an individual? How does one receive
the fifteen minutes of fame we’re all supposedly
granted? How does one step out of line, think
outside the box, or leave their mark? How do we
allow the ideas of billions of people become
amalgamated into some kind of ill conceived
pseudo-philosophical collection of bromides in
inspirational self-help books?

Love your brother, do unto others as you


would have them do unto you. What the fuck are
we talking about here? Accepting each other,
fearing each other, and avoiding each other? We
should all be butting heads and arguing, not
pacifying each other out of fear of offense. For
so long, we feared divine retribution for our
thoughts, actions, and transgressions that we
never learned the true meanings of the words
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We’re so close to having the good life that we’re
willing to take any risk, any shot in the dark

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that might offer some sort of solution to the
problems facing us as the human race. We’re all
bound equally by our need to be around each
other, and our need to escape one another. That
which binds us is our desire to break that which
binds us, forever mired in ideologically
frustrating conflicts of interest we escape by
any means necessary. Some escape, as I’ve said,
through love, religion, or chemicals. We’ve all
got to cope with the same day to day stressors
that everybody else does. Seeking to be both
united and different at the same time, embracing
logical paradoxes like a drunk hooker on ecstasy.
We divide ourselves into little sub culture sub
group pockets and try to forget that some people
think differently than us.

No matter how desperately we try to forget,


we can’t escape it. We face, as a society, the
choice between what we call a “melting pot” where
multiculturalism means altruistic acceptance of
anyone doing anything, anywhere, or a “salad
bowl” where multiculturalism refers to some kind
of esoteric acceptance of different people that
offend each other perpetually in a battle for
cultural dominance. Both of these concepts
perpetuate the belief that a cohesive “we” must
be developed by fairly representing the beliefs,
traditions, rituals, thoughts, convictions,

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causes, and desires of everybody, everywhere, all
the time. That is totally fucking impossible.

Realizing some sort of self-image is a


simple function of socialization these days with
a “self” being constructed via a series of
embarrassing photographs and factoid summaries of
your “key statistics” on some stupid website like
facebook. Age, sex, location, favorite quotes,
books, movies, music, marital status, race, name,
educational and employment histories, all adding
up to paint some kind of personality portrait.
We’ve started commoditizing ourselves so much
that we feel like we are required to write all
these things down to prove that we are, in fact,
a person; and, in fact, possess an identity all
our own. We’ve leveled the playing field to such
an extent that we have no motivation whatsoever
to become “different,” so standing out of the
crowd is just another personality archetype more
than it is a desire to actually change things.

Self marketing has caused a widening


diversion between perceived self image, displayed
self image, internet self image, intellectual
self image, and actual personal thoughts. With
so many versions of “self,” we create a personal
history that is so complex that we find it
increasingly difficult to objectively define who
we are, what we stand for, what we want, and what

157
we believe in. Our opinions change by the minute
with every fleeting passion and shattered dream.
We’re all attending a daily masquerade where we
put on different masks depending on who we’re
around, where we are, what’s going on around us,
and how we’re feeling at the time. With all of
these dynamic facets of self and personal
identity, how can we settle on a definitive
representation of who we are as an assembly of
action, reaction, thought, image, history,
dreams, opinions, and interpretations?

Descartes wrote “cogito ergo sum,” which


means “I think, therefore, I am.” Was he the
first to learn how not to be an idiot, or just
the first to notice that to float around
mindlessly without thought was to, literally, not
be alive in his understanding of the concept.
Surely Descartes wasn’t the first intelligent
person in history, but he certainly was one
worthy of recognition. Descartes, and all the
people after him that have benefited from the
Latin phrase he first uttered so many years ago
are intellectually indebted to him, and that
realization that helped society remove itself
from the depths of an economic, intellectual,
artistic, and moral dark age.

To be a renaissance man, one needed to be


educated, active, creative, and enlightened to

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the perpetual discovery of knowledge; both
personal and in the framework of improving the
world in which he lived. To be a renaissance man
in modern times means to have an intimate
understanding of the things that make people
different while at the same time learning from
all the lessons taught us by the countless people
that existed before us and left their legacies in
the form of words, thoughts, actions, images,
defiance, and sacrifice.

We have a lot to learn, but no one can


learn anything if we don’t teach each other. Why
does the word “dream” mean both ‘what happens in
our minds while we sleep,’ and ‘what we wish
reality and, moreover, the world could be’? A
funny concept, words.

Chapter Eleven – Love

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I am a man. I love women. Unfortunately,
it seems to be rooted in that biological, “my
dick fits in them” way. Sex is one of those
things that we have to do, but have invented an
entirely separate life and identity devoted to
its hunt and capture. I’ve never had a stable
relationship. By this time, I’m just beginning
to think it’s a pointless waste of time. I know
this is hard for many people to agree with. What
I see people calling relationships are a waste of
time. Romanticism and Sex, however, are not.
Men and women are entirely equal except in the
fact that the sex organs of one go out, the sex
organs of one go in. They fit together nicely,
like puzzle pieces. It’s fun to put the puzzle
together.

For me, it pretty much ends there. I like


to look at women. Talk to them. Make friends
with them. Buy them shots at the bar. But at
the end of the night, when most of them go home
with other guys, I’m headed to the coffee shop to
write for four hours in a notebook. I’m a social
creature, but I can only take so much of the
garbage dialectic.

I appreciate balancing the fine lines of


socialization. I like to hang out in groups. I
like to fuck chicks. I even like just sleeping
with them, it’s all good- sex and sexuality in

160
the twenty first century are nothing but concepts
just like anything else. My entire social life
is nothing but a carefully executed production
from the second I wake up to the second I pass
out drunk on the bathroom floor of an unfamiliar
house. I’d be scared to think that anyone else
thinks otherwise.

We get up in the morning (or late afternoon


in my case,) clean ourselves off, shave faces and
legs, apply various lotions and cosmetics, browse
a large collection of clothing deciding which is
an appropriate costume for the occasion of the
day, and we go around to places that fit with
what we’re pretending to take interest in, all in
hopes that we don’t end up sleeping alone our
entire lives.

I grew up like every other guy, thinking I


was going to marry a barbie doll and have a nice
house with kids and a dog and a bunch of money to
throw around on things I don’t need. My parents
met their junior year of high school, and have
been cutely smitten with one another ever since.
I guess that’s kind of what I expected for
myself. Wrong. My parents come from a different
time, when their parents were members of the post
world war two generation porking all the time and
settling down to newfound prosperity. My parents
grew up in the wake of the civil rights movement,

161
were children in the sixties, junior high for
disco, and graduating from high school before
coke hit big. My dad played sports, and my mom
hung out with the other chicks and worked at J.C.
Penny. My smart fucking dad got a scholarship
and graduated with a nice degree, married my mom,
had me and my brothers, and lived the American
dream.

Then I was around to watch the whole god


damned American Dream thing fall apart like glass
under boot. I woke up the other day to MSNBC
playing softly in the corner of my room. A
cheery, yet strangely distant voice says “and in
the markets today, and unprecedented drop in the
Dow Jones Industrial average.” What luck. Stock
market crash. Not quite as bad as it was before
World War Two, but scary enough to make me sit
straight up.

Our society has become this constantly


changing, shifting, boundless network of
connections made and broken at whim. For about a
year and a half, I went to a bagel shop every
Thursday morning at Six Thirty A.M. for a salt
bagel with plain cream cheese. There was a cute
girl that worked there that I think I went to
high school with. I barely recognized her, I’m
sure she had no idea who I was. I smiled at her,
she smiled back, and I put a dollar in her tip

162
cup. One day, I just stopped going. I don’t
know why, but I’ve never been back there since.
It’s not that I don’t like bagels anymore, in
fact I could probably go for a salt bagel right
now. That’s beside the point.

I still wonder sometimes if that girl still


works there. I’m sure she does. She’s probably
struggling through college, bouncing from major
to major like she bounces from boyfriend to
boyfriend. She’s a cute blonde with piercing
eyes. The kind of girl that looks like she drew
horses in high school art class. She was very
cheerful. She always knew my order, and yelled
it back to the cook as soon as I walked in the
door. I liked that. She remembered my name.
It’s Zach.

I’ve had a lot of girlfriends, and fuck


buddies (“friends with benefits,” the chicks say,
but “sex with a friend,” I say) over the years
but none I really cared about except a handful.
They were all unstable relationships at best,
most were fleeting, and some were adulterous and
alcohol fueled. In Whatever Happens Happens, I
wrote about two of them. They added a nice
literary contrast to each other, one being an
innocent high school fling, the other a full
fledged relationship trainwreck.

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I’ve always viewed the stable relationship
I grew up watching as a fantasy. I listened to
my friends tell me about their drunk parents,
abusive parents, divorced parents, step brothers,
step sisters, and heard news people talk about
gays, teen pregnancies, and polygamists. All of
these concepts were completely foreign and
abstract to me until I left the safety net of my
picture perfect family and catholic school
system.

Sex and sexuality are very interesting to


me. I like to think I’m a fairly perceptive
person, and I can’t help but notice what’s going
on around me. I choose to take an active
interest. When I’m walking through a city,
sitting at a bar, smoking cigarettes in a coffee
shop, or standing next to the keg at a party
nursing a solid colored disposable plastic cup
that cost five bucks, I hear and see all sorts of
things that entertain, confuse, and interest me.

I’ve known so many people. I’ve seen their


boyfriends and girlfriends come and go. I’ve
watched them soar high on that rushing feeling
you get when you meet a new person that adds some
excitement to your life. I’ve watched them get
mutually and subsequently crushed when the
rushing feeling goes away. I’ve seen them get
drunk and fight. I’ve seen them cheat on each

164
other, lie to each other, make up, break up, and
drag each other down. I’ve seen dudes get saved
by their girlfriends, and chicks get destroyed by
their boyfriends. I’ve seen people meet, marry,
and have children. I’ve even seen a couple of my
friends get divorced already, and I’m only twenty
three at the time I write these words.

The only times I wish I had a girlfriend


are when I feel like I need to be showing one
off. I feel kind of sick about that inside. We
crossed the line when we commoditized love, sex,
and sexuality. Now marital status has become a
conceptual drop-down list just like everything
else. Straight, gay, bi, trans. Choose your own
adventure. Another fucking statistic, another
demographic to be marketed to.

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

“no.”

“Oh. Why not? You’re cool, you’re kind of hairy


but not ugly”

“I don’t want one”

“why not, don’t you like getting laid?”

“yup.”

“got the HIV?”

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“nope. Clean.”

“medical problem?”

“nope, healthy.”

“why don’t you want a girlfriend?”

“because it’s pointless”

“but don’t you want love?”

“I have it.”

“What?!”

I have romantic interests. I like sitting


by a fire over a glass of wine and laughing with
a woman. I like holding hands and walking down a
city street at night. I like watching the snow
fall in the park. I like to sit under the stars.
I like to walk down beaches and listen to the
waves. I like meaningful conversations, holding
hands, and walking in the rain. I like to go to
the woods in the fall and look at the colors of
the trees. All that crap. I love my life, I
love being alive, and I’m happy that I can share
that love with other people. There's so much to
enjoy in the world around us, I just don't
understand why people waste their time with
people that drag them down.

166
I am not callous, nor heartless. I like
hugs, and passing notes. I like pet names, I
like the smell of fruity shampoo. If I get drunk
enough, I’ll dance. For every time I get angry
or upset about life, all I ever have to do is
think of a moment like this in my past. A brief
memory of time well spent. A passing daydream of
what might come. A fading reverie of a time when
things weren’t as bad as they are now.

I had a girlfriend, once, that I wanted to


impress with some crazy gift on Valentine’s Day.
I learned how to make fortune cookies, which
really wasn’t that hard, and I hand wrote
messages to her. I went out and bought a nice
looking red heart shaped box, wrapped the cookies
in tissue paper all artsy and whatnot, and tied
it shut with a ribbon. We went out to a movie,
and afterward, I handed her the box. I said, “I
made something for you, I hope you like it.”

She takes the box, opens it, looks at them,


closes it, throws them in the backseat and says
“I’m not hungry, let’s go back to my house.” I
cringed as I heard the cookies break from the
impact. I brought her back, and she left them in
my backseat. I was crushed. Ever since then, I
have hated Valentine’s Day. I thought people
liked to get meaningful gifts like that. I guess
I thought wrong.

167
For all the benefits of a valuable
relationship with another human being, whatever
level, I just can’t ever seem to be fully
satisfied. I’ve had, and still have, friends
that I wish I could spend every minute of the day
with, but the good times never seem to last.
I’ve never felt totally comfortable with another
person to such an extent that I thought I could
spend the rest of my life living with them. It’s
something I’ve begun to think is just another
concept we invented to keep ourselves wishing for
something better while accepting what we have in
front of us.

I don’t want to have a girlfriend just


because I feel like I should have one. I don’t
want some girl hanging off my arm unless she
honestly wants to be there. How is that not
slavery? Love is something everyone seems to
feel and know exists, but no one can define it or
control it. Love can mean many things. Passion,
desire, sex, friendship, dedication, commitment,
charity, sacrifice, salvation, comfort, safety.
All of these serving as only a fraction of the
whole. I love this, I love that, I love you, I
love him, I love her, I love it, I love them, I
love nothing, I love everything, I love someone,
I love my cat, I love something, I love chili
cheese dogs. All things I hear and say all the

168
time. Words we use every day. Concepts we throw
around at each other, hoping the other has the
same opinion.

Love has just become another commodity to


be bought and sold through valentines,
chocolates, prophylactics, flowers, and cheap red
things shaped like hearts. Love has become
something that everybody wants, everybody
expects, and everyone feels empty without. But
how can you take away emptiness with empty love?
Why do I see so many people with such bright
futures committing themselves to some person
arbitrarily just because they feel some weird
need to be held by someone? Why dedicate
yourself and your love to a single person with no
intent whatsoever in staying with them on a long
term basis? Why would you dedicate yourself to
anyone other than yourself?

You should be looking out for yourself, not


participating in some sort of courtship fallacy
that obviously exists only in outliers and story
books. Want to have meaningless sex? Do it.
Wear a condom, take the pill. If you want to
have kids, have them. If you can’t raise them,
don’t. These things are self evident. We’re
supposed to have sex. It feels good, but happens
to ultimately result in propagating the species

169
unless otherwise thwarted by chemicals, surgeons,
or plastic barriers.

Want to have a boyfriend? Have a


girlfriend? Make some bucks rubbing your clit on
the internet? Do it, why not? Want to get
married? Want to get divorced? Go for it. Kids
make for great tax write offs. They also must be
a lot of fun to teach and watch grow up. I just
can’t imagine that I’ll ever find what I really
want in my lady fantasy, and even if I do she’ll
probably be dating some idiot fuck with a six
pack and a healthy tan like always. We’ve also
taken to commoditizing the concept of the ideal.
Ideal body, ideal house, ideal job, ideal spouse,
ideal gym, ideal neighborhood. If we don’t have
it, we want it. If we can’t have it, we rest
assured knowing it’s there to be had if we were
only to wish hard enough to make it so. Anything
we invent about the interaction between us and
them can be commoditized in real life by some
accessory or self help course.

We’ve grown to accept some kind of


alternate reality based on ideals and concepts,
completely separate from the reality of life,
death, tragedy, inconsistency, truth, and
ignorance. We’ve separated ourselves on so many
levels that we are identified by what makes us
different, all of a sudden seeking that

170
difference as a definition instead of
perpetuating our traditional forms of family
life, cultural identity, sexual identity, and
virtue.

All of these concepts dictate that we


cannot feel “complete” without a spouse, or in my
age group, a “girlfriend.” What the fuck does
that term even mean? It supports some sort of
committed feeling to some other person that the
other person may only feel to a certain degree.
Girlfriend has an ambiguous nature. I have
always had a lot of friends who were girls. I
mean, they're half the population, you know? I
have close relationships with them, I care about
them. I don’t want them to get hurt. The same
as any other friend I have. They’re definitely
not my girlfriend, but when I’m with them- we get
asked all the time. They explain, I lament.

I lament because I feel like I should be


saying yes, I may wish I was saying yes, but I’m
not. Why should they assume? Why should they
care? Why can’t they just assume I’m trying to
have a good time like anyone else? Why do I need
to be identified by my relationship status with
someone I’m just trying to party with and hold
down the keg?

171
I can’t help but finding myself asking the
question: “why don’t you have a girlfriend?” I
recall a picturesque late summer moment in a park
somewhere in Chicago not too long ago with a
friend of mine, being confronted to supply an
answer to that question. I said I had just given
up. It was the truth. I’ve met so many people
in my wanderings around this planet, and
specifically my country. I have heard so many
stories, seen so many people at so many different
stages in life. So many opinions, so many ideas.

I guess there’s some biological urge to


propagate my species that makes me attracted to
every woman that pays attention to me. I don’t
know what it is. I hold my female friends in
higher regard than my male friends, generally.
I’m vain and narcissistic, and I love to be seen
with good looking chicks, even if they aren’t my
“girlfriend.” But that’s not even part of why I
hang out with them.

I’ve found that some of my most meaningful


friendships have been with women. It never
lasts, because they don’t want to be my
“girlfriend,” but we always have a good time
while we’re together. I’ve seen them meet guys,
break up with guys, cheat on them, fend them off,
and cry over them. I see their boyfriends treat
them like taken for granted piles of meat. They

172
take them out to the bar and show them off to all
of their friends, and then I have to hear the
girls talk late at night when the boyfriends are
gone about how they don’t give them orgasms and
can only fuck for ten minutes. Years and years
I’ve listened to this garbage.

They move on, leave town, graduate, or stop


drinking, whatever. It doesn’t matter. They’ve
moved on from life just like everyone else, man
or woman. Things come up. People come and go.
You never know who’s going to stick by your side.

You know what? The whole god damned


process makes me sick. I don’t spend my precious
spare time wandering around looking to get my
dick wet. I absolutely love having sex. I just
don’t feel the need to pursue some other person
and make them shape their life around mine just
so I can fuck them. It’s not that big of a deal
to me. It’s just one of many pleasures on this
wonderful planet that we try our best to keep
each other away from.

I’m not into the whole twisted Hollywood


sexuality either. I’m not gay, for whatever
reason I don’t really have any gay friends, I
don’t know any swingers, and I try to stay out of
the affairs of strippers and prostitutes because
I learned my lessons with them. Sadomasochism

173
sounds kind of fun, but not really my thing. The
blanketing politically ambiguous yet sexuality
identifying term “alternate lifestyle” denotes
two things; a moral, and a virtue. The moral
choice is what kind of people bring sexual
pleasure, the virtue is to vocally admit it.

Ideally, I would picture myself with a


girlfriend, but I’m not going to just accept any
girl that comes my way so I can select “in a
relationship” in my drop down lists. If I’m
going to devote any of my precious time on earth
into a relationship of any kind with anyone; be
it of a romantic, sexual, economic, or friendly
nature, it better be fucking worthwhile. I want
to learn something about other people and about
myself by having a relationship. I don’t seek to
spend all my time devoted to one person that may
leave me at any time. It’s terrifying. I have
plenty of love to give, and I feel loved from the
second I wake up in the morning. I don’t see
love as something I only give one person, it’s
something I give and receive to and from many
people in varying levels.

For someone to make the demand that I would


be only with them all the time, or insist that
they are attached to me when in public, would
only result in repulsion. I like being touched,
but if I’m at a party and I want to talk to my

174
friends, I would expect my friends or
“girlfriend” to have them as well. I wouldn’t
expect them to spend all of their valuable time
hanging off of me like an expensive accessory
that I keep around with presents and mind games.
I don’t have the heart to put into such a
meaningless exchange.

I’m very selective in the people I choose


to spend my time with. If I don’t like you,
you’d probably know it. I don’t waste my time.
I don’t believe in god, which means I don’t
believe in an afterlife, which therefore means
that you can be fucking sure that I won’t be
wasting my precious time on fool’s errands. I
will go to great lengths to help out my friends
and ensure that they have a good time when they
are with me. My friendships are the things I
value the most in my life. Whether they know it
or not, or even care, all of my friends have more
of my admiration and respect than I could ever
communicate to them, even in a drunken stupor.

I guess it’s not that I don’t want a


girlfriend, it’s that I don’t need one, and I’m
“picky” as they say. The reliable sex would be
nice, but it’s not necessary to me for a feeling
of fulfillment and completion in life. Honestly,
it’s only spent ejaculate. Sex to me is not
something that requires total devotion and

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commitment. Sex is not Love. It’s just
something that people can do together that
happens to feel extremely good. I wouldn’t
expect some woman to hold me in some elevated
regard, because I am not perfect in any sense of
the word. I can’t expect the same of them. I
could perpetuate a monogamous relationship, but
only with a person that I honestly felt I wanted
to be around for an extended period of time.

I never know how to approach the whole


thing anyway, and it seems like every chick worth
having is hanging on to some idiot fuck anyhow.
I don’t understand it, I don’t think I ever will,
and therefore I am giving up. I will never
actively seek a girlfriend again in my life. If
I find some brave woman that naturally just
assumes that position by her own right and
certainty of that right, I suppose that’s the
only way it’s ever going to happen. The love of
another person, whatever level, is not something
that I take lightly. Treading metaphorical
water, afloat in some giant sea of stupidity,
it’s absolutely imperative to associate with
other humans that you value and care for.
That’s what love is. Not some stupid fucking
valentine. It’s a two-way, mutually beneficial
desire to spend your valuable time with someone
else. Its ultimate fruition is a marriage in the

176
civil union and tax sense that allows you to pool
your assets legally because you feel that you can
rely on the other person to take care of your old
decrepit ass as it falls apart from too much
partying. Be it directed to a person, place,
thing, animal or concept, love is just another
name for an idea we all seem to share. Another
concept depending on feelings and other concepts
in order to be explained.

I wish and hope for a love like that, but I


don’t honestly think it will ever happen. That
kind of love is rare, and I spend entirely too
much time devoted to my own ends that I don’t
think anyone could ever tolerate being around me
for that long. I can’t say I would blame them,
either. Forever is a long time. In the
meantime, and perhaps forever, I am content with
myself enough that I don’t feel the need to have
a girl around constantly to tell me how cool I
am. I already know, I don’t need to be reminded.
It’s a commodity I don’t feel like I should have
to pay for. I don’t want a woman as a prize, I
want a woman as an equal.

But what do you care anyway, John. Q.


Public, you’re dating that hot blonde behind the
counter at the bagel joint. You are an asshole.
I doubt you care, Suzie B. Hugetits, because
you’re getting stuffed every night by a meathead

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with a middle management income and the IQ of a
promising toddler. Have fun with the three kids
after the divorce and inevitable weight gain. I
hope you spend your forties taking xanax and
wishing you hadn’t married that piece of shit
waste of life that spends his time drinking beer,
complaining, watching football, and breaking
things he’s trying to fix.

Don’t take yourself lightly. You’re all


you’ve got. Don’t dedicate yourself to some
mindless charade, love life or otherwise. No
sense in faking anything these days, we all know
everything about everybody else anyway. I feel
like if I got a girlfriend all of a sudden, and I
called my friend they’d just say “yeah, I got the
update from facebook on my phone in class… what’s
her name?” But they’d know already because it’s
on the fucking facebook.

I remember being in law class back in high


school and hearing the phrase “never ask a
question you don’t already know the answer to.”
That’s some really interesting advice. Doing
dumb cartoonish shit like stressing over who I
was going to take to the school dance was never
in my bag, anyway. Tenting it up on the sunny
face of some mountain in the middle of nowhere?
Now that's my cup of tea.

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Never ask a question you don't know the
answer to. I'll rephrase it, and add a clause-
Don't ask if you don't know, or have a really
good idea. Better to spend your life taking it
as it comes, face forward, as a citizen of the
world. Know what you're getting yourself into.
The only other way is to be come a television
dependent idiot fuck with a dumb wife a dumb kid.

Chapter Twelve – A Citizen of the World

What does it mean to be a citizen of the


world? When have we ever had that distinction in

179
the history of the world? Is it really possible
to be a citizen of the world without
understanding to a certain extent how the world
itself works? Is that even possible? What could
it mean, really, to be a citizen of the world?

Aren’t we all citizens of the world? I


mean, we really only have one of them. Is that
really the top of the hierarchy? Is that the
ultimate form of society? Could that be a bad
thing in the end? Is that where we’re all
headed? Down the funnel from the melting pot to
become a long line of blank faces dressed in
ambiguous grays? Is the concept of global
citizenship a sign of the apocalypse? Is this
what Orwell and Huxley saw? If we have no lines
to separate us, what happens to the healthy and
necessary debate? If everyone is allowed to go
wherever they feel, do whatever they want, say
what they want to say, and think what they want
to think without fear of reproach, then will we
all just accept mental stagnation as we simply
give up the attempt to answer all the questions
of the universe?

Will mankind ever reach a point where there


is no frontier? No new ideas, no new technology,
no new conquest, no new destinations, no new
development, no desire, no fear, no need, no
want? Is that utopia? Dealing strictly with

180
concepts again, what is the concept of utopia? A
perfect place where no one disagrees, you get
everything you want or need, and no one ever has
to suffer? Would you want that for yourself? No
anguish to counteract your highs? No doldrums to
balance your winds of change? No ideological
conflicts? Is that heaven? Do we really want
that? Wouldn’t that really be hell? Is there
any difference between the two? Is there really
any difference from any concept to any other? Is
everything we hold dear just a corrupt facade?

We’ve come to this juncture as a result of


our own insistence. We solemnly kept up the
search for “truth.” We’ve got the possibility to
end the world sitting in the bottom of thousands
of missile silos all over earth, just waiting for
our world leaders to have a nicotine fit and
press the proverbial button. We lost our
innocence as humanity the day America brought us
all into the nuclear age. That point has been
argued to death, along with every other point any
one had, ever, since the whole fucking thing got
started with the dick face in the Tigris-
Euphrates river basin that drew triangles in a
block of mud with a stick.

There’s something about being a citizen of


the world, and our communities at the same time.
While relying on what divides us to separate and

181
stratify ourselves, we also use that very
distinction to recognize each other and identify
ourselves. Every once in a while you find a
person you can actually relate to, even thousands
of miles away from your comfort zone. They do
exist.

When we were lost in the Redwood Forest


wandering around trying to find a campsite, we
came across a few descent ones, but nothing that
really caught our attention. There was one site
we almost took, consisting of a communal picnic
table, six well groomed sites, food safes to keep
the animals away, and a wooden latrine all
centrally located around a fire pit with a metal
ring. It was less than a mile away from a paved
parking lot with running water. We thought about
it for a moment, until we noticed a fat, wheezing
group of teenagers hiking coolers full of beer
down the paths. Here I am trying to enjoy the
wilderness in quiet solitude, and I am still
confronted with the prospect of listening to
idiot fucks bitch about their venereal diseases
in loud drunken yelps.

We left, and decided to find the most


remote campsite we could. We drove down a rutted
out two track designated on the map as a cliff
line area near an old World War Two outpost. We
barely made it back there, dodging overgrown

182
roots and foot deep ruts. We figured there was
little chance of human contact, considering the
parking lot dropped off three hundred feet to the
Pacific Ocean, and the campsite was a mile hike
up the hill with barely a path and no lights at
night. Real camping. We brewed some tea on the
camping stove we brought with us, and got to
setting up camp. Redwood is famously difficult
to burn, so as we were struggling with creating
the fire, we hear a voice call out from the
distance.

“Hey!”

Being in the outdoor enthusiast community


generally means you’re going to find a lot of
like-minded folks in your wanderings. When you
pass a fellow woodsman, you say hello. It’s
common courtesy, and a mutual show of respect and
understanding.

“What’s up?,” we respond immediately.

“Hey guys, how’s it goin?” we hear again,


with the sound of rustling grass and footsteps.
A guy about our age approached, looking fairly
stereotypical for an outdoorsy type. Unshaven,
long-ish black hair, flannels, gleam in the eye
from the overwhelming surroundings. He comes up,
shakes our hands and introduces himself.

183
“Hey, my name’s Nate – you guys from
Michigan?”

We’re a little taken back, and I say “…


yeah, how did you know?”

“Oh, there’s a car parked in the lot with a


Michigan tag on it. I’m from East Lansing, I
moved out here a few years ago after I visited.
Got a job down in Arcata, and I’m staying with
the logging guys from Humboldt State. You guys
smoke bud?”

Of course. Meet someone in Humboldt


county, even if they’re from Michigan, they’re
gonna smoke bud. “Yeah, we smoke- but I just ran
out this morning”

“It’s all good, I’ve got a joint left that


we can smoke after I set up camp. I have some
sausages, too, if you want them- I can’t eat them
all myself. Plus, if you guys are headed south
tomorrow, I can probably find you a sack in town
if you don’t mind checking out Arcata. We can
get a beer or something and I can show you the
city.”

Fucking righteous. Not only did we find a


new friend a few thousand miles away from home,
but we had a few things in common, and better yet

184
he was going to solve my weed problems. “That’s
fucking awesome,” I say with an ear to ear grin.

Nate took his leave, marching back down the


hill to get his gear and set up camp. I began to
feel a little under the weather, so I got in the
tent to take a nap. An hour or so later, I heard
Nate come back up, and he smoked the joint with
Kevin, but I had a pounding headache and just
wanted to sleep. I know it must have been bad
considering I passed up a smoke, which I never
do. In my light nap, I heard Kevin and Nate
talking by the fire. I listened to the sound of
the animals, the peace of the starry sky, the
crack of the fire, and the low chatter of two new
found friends. Life at that moment was good.
Nearly as peaceful as my moment on the rock
earlier that day.

I was beginning to feel a little more


comfortable with myself, finding some profound
satisfaction that there was another person I
could relate to so far away. A life raft on the
sea of stupidity around me. A friendly face in
the fog. Pick your metaphor, it was a good thing
to know we weren’t alone in our pursuit of
intellectual happiness and mental peace.

Nate went on to tell Kevin the story about


how he ended up out in California. I’m sure

185
everyone’s heard a lot of stories about people
ending up in California. It seems to attract
those types of people seeking escape from the
rest of the country. It must be sad when they
get there and find out it’s all the same no
matter where you go. I had already learned those
lessons.

I was having a hell of a time trying to get


some sleep. My heartburn was flaring up, my head
was pounding, my mouth was dry, I had no water,
and I was in dire need of a lengthy piss. I
finally shook myself awake around two so I could
go down the hill to the car and find my TUMS and
Aspirin. I grabbed for my headlamp and walking
stick, and headed down the trail for a dark and
treacherous voyage through the overgrowth toward
the car.

As I step out into the clearing next to the


road, I hear Nate call my name. He tells me he’s
about to head home due to the cold, and gives me
his phone number so we can call him in the
morning and get directions to Arcata. I thanked
him, and told him we had a nice fifth of Patron
Silver to crack open if he didn’t mind. He
didn’t. He hopped in the truck and took off down
the dirt road, and I went for the meds.

186
Dwelling on the prospect of hiking back up
that fucking hill in the middle of the night, I
opted for a warm nap in the back of the car.
After a healthy swig of water, some calcium
carbonate, and a bit of blood thinner, I was
finally in a position to get some restful sleep.

I woke up shortly after dawn, with a


breathtaking view of the pacific ocean from the
cliff we were parked on. I couldn’t help but
smile, being in such a god damned beautiful
place. I couldn’t help but smile even bigger
knowing I was going to be scoring some legendary
Humboldt grass later that day.

After some personal time pondering what I


was experiencing, I set up the hill to the
campsite to see if Kevin was awake. I found him
poking at the fire with a stick, brewing a cup of
tea. I told him I had slept in the car, and he
told me about his conversation with Nate. We
broke camp and set out south in search of good
food, hot coffee, and cell phone service to call
Nate.

After some breakfast and purchasing


supplies in town, we put in the call. Arcata was
about two hours south of us right off the Pacific
coast highway, nestled on the other side of the
ridge. As we got off the exit, I noticed that

187
there was no real sign of habitation anywhere.
Since we had been told, we figured it was the
right way to go, but if we hadn’t been told there
would have been no reason to suspect that any
civilization was anywhere near that exit.

We took the exit, followed the roundabout,


and drove about three miles down the road as
instructed, turned right, and found ourselves
descending into a beautiful valley town. As we
rolled down the hill, the sun poked out from
beyond the broken horizon and punctuated the
quaint city skyline. I muttered, jaw agape, to
Kevin, “I think we have just stumbled upon
paradise.”

We drove to the obvious center of town, as


instructed, parked and set out on foot to the
pedestrian square. After a short walk, we came
to the statue in the center of the park, where we
met Nate. After the obligatory handshakes and
hellos, we sat down on the bench to enjoy the
surroundings. He told us a bit about Arcata,
some of the cool places in town, about the
college, about the beautiful women, and about the
perfect weather. Pacific Ocean less than an hour
away, surrounded by the Redwood Forest, a few
hours north of the San Francisco smog, nestled in
the mountains, rarely snows, never over eighty,

188
never below freezing. Sounds like paradise to
me.

It was about noon, and the dude with the


grass didn’t get back from logging camp until
five or so, which left us with a few hours to
kill. We shot the shit a while, checked out a
local donut shop with some fucking delicious cake
donuts, browsed the used bookstores, and enjoyed
the aforementioned female scenery. Paradise,
surely it was.

Nate had to go to class for an hour or so,


and left us with directions to his house. We
grabbed a late lunch waiting for him, and I found
an ATM to get the seventy bucks to get the
quarter of grass. Seventy a quarter was thirty
less than I had been paying at home, and Humboldt
grass is rightfully legendary. Needless to say
as it is already obvious, I was delighted.

We drove down the dirt road to the farm


that Nate was staying on. It was a pig farm, and
the farmer had allocated a small amount of land
for a small real estate venture, along with a few
spaces for R.V.’s. It was a nice place, just out
of town. Rustic enough to call peaceful, close
enough to civilization not to go crazy. I found
the buried bottle of Patron from the back of the
car, and we knocked on the door.

189
Nate answered, and introduced us to his
roommates. We all shared a shot of Tequila, and
talked about where we were all from and how we
got to Arcata, California. There were a lot of
interesting stories, as any experienced traveler
can testify to. It seems like people that live
with the understanding of an entire world around
them always have good stories to tell.

After another round of shots, we headed out


back to the R.V. with the dope. The guy, I can’t
remember his name, reminds me it’s seventy for
the quarter. I surrender the cash, he retreats
into the R.V. while I pour another round.

After he comes out, he takes the glass, we


toast to great adventures. He smiles, pulls the
bag from his hoodie’s front pocket, and says
“this is a grip more than a quarter, welcome to
Humboldt.”

In my had drops an entire ounce of the best


marijuana I have ever seen in my life. Had I not
been three double shots of Patron down, I would
have ejaculated in my jeans. I just smiled, and
said “thank you” about ten times. We went out
back to see the pigs and smoke a farewell
cigarette, and Kevin and I loaded up the car for
the drive south to San Francisco.

190
We took one last round of shots, thanked
everyone for their hospitality, exchanged
numbers, addresses, and E-Mails, and promised to
stay in touch.

As Kevin and I pulled back on to the


Pacific Coast Highway, we were presented with a
classic Pacific Ocean sunset to add a perfect end
to a perfect day. I left that city with a new
feeling of fulfillment in life, and a
satisfaction that I wasn’t the only person on
this Earth that loved his life and yearned for
the experiences it has to offer.

Being a global citizen means many things.


It implies an acute understanding of how small
one person is in relation to the global expanse.
It implies a level of intellectual awareness that
allows you to contemplate things outside your own
frame of reference. It requires that you
understand the world has many faces, cultures,
opinions, customs, and ideas. It goes without
saying that you would possess the social skills
to interact respectfully with people on a
personal level. It’s a strong bet that you yearn
for the new, respect the old, and take full
appreciation of the time between. Being a global
citizen means you have reached a new level of
existence, as a child of history, and a recipient
of its bounty. Global citizenship is the next

191
intellectual paradigm, and the progenitor of an
intellectual revolution.

Chapter Thirteen – A Life Raft on Stupid


Sea

When we were young, Kevin and I took a trip


to Colorado. We were thirteen or fourteen, I
guess- I think it was right before high school.
His dad flew out there with us, rented a car, and
drove from Denver to a little town in the Rockies
called Leadville. We climbed a mountain called
Mount Elbert, which is the highest mountain in
Colorado and the Continental United States. It’s
not much of a technical climb, there’s a path
that goes right up it. There’s not much glory to
be had by conquering the mountain.

192
The point of going was never to climb the
mountain, it was to go. To enjoy ourselves in
the mountains. We camped at the base of Mount
Elbert, in a nice campground called Half Moon.
The scenery is idyllic, and you can drive around
the mountains and view a hundred years of mining
history. The town itself isn’t that big, but has
a nice downtown area with shops like any other
American town. There’s a main street that runs
through the major business area, and out into the
mountains. Just before you leave town, there’s a
small restaurant called “The Golden Burro Café.”

It’s nothing special, just your normal


American spread. Hamburgers, chicken strips,
soup, salad, meat loaf, fries, generic desserts,
all served up by a middle aged woman with a
cigarette torn voice writing your order on a pad
of paper she took from her stained apron.
America. How I love it here.

We ate there a few times during our stay,


and I’ve always remembered it. From where we
always chose to sit, there was a beautiful view
of the mountain range we were staying at the foot
of. I’ll never forget the experience. It’s one
of those moments I cherish and keep in the back
of my mind for trying times. I’ve been friends
with Kevin for so long that he and I have been
able to share many moments like this. Beautiful

193
scenery, time well spent, and memories to share
and tell stories about.

There’s a guy that comes into Big Burrito


named Bruce. He’s an older guy, well traveled
and well spoken. He orders tamales, loves the
hot sauce, and compliments me on my ability to
make a margarita. He usually puts a dollar in my
tip jar, and when we talk he remembers what we
talked about. He knows my name.

One day, we were both on the subject of


travels. He told me he was born in a small
mining town in Colorado. Out of the blue, I just
said, “Leadville?” He laughs deeply and says
“Yeah, and I think that’s the first time anyone
I’ve met has known about that town.”

I immediately asked him about the Golden


Burro Café. He laughed again, and said he
remembered the food not being so good, but
recalled it being a good place none the less.
“Ah, the metal ass, I remember it fondly.” It
wasn’t that crushing to hear a different view on
the place. I had always revered it as some
perfect place of my distant memories. It’s just
another trashy restaurant in the American
wasteland. A dick smack spot on the map with no
significance but what people make of it.

194
Memories aren’t always so connected with
the places as much as the entire experience.
Having a memory allows us to add so much more
value to our time spent on this planet and around
all these people. We remember what we like, and
what we need to stay away from. They say a
picture is worth a thousand words, but a good
chunk of time well spent is incapable of being
put into words. It exists as a memory that you
respond to emotionally and often share with other
people.

Finding another person that you can spend


valuable time with, and a good place to spend it
is like a life raft on stupid sea. Every day we
have to put up with so much shit that we don’t
want to involve ourselves with, it’s so nice to
feel alive every once in a while. You walk the
city streets dodging beggars and idiot fucks, and
you duck into a coffee shop to see a guy in the
corner reading Atlas Shrugged with wide eyes
flipping pages furiously. I love it.

You know, maybe it’s not so bad that all


these idiots are around. Someone has to mop the
floors at night, right? Maybe some people see me
as just another idiot fuck. Wandering around,
talking about how ridiculous marriage is and how
god is a stupid concept we invented to hold shit
above people, all while I make burritos for a

195
living and pretend to be an author. I don’t
care. I have my life rafts, and I have my
moments of glory and my moments of pain. I
wouldn’t trade them in for anything, for any
price. I love my life. It belongs to me, and no
one else can have it. My time on this Earth is
very valuable to me, and I refuse to waste it.
What do you value?

Life rafts on stupid sea are the escape we


all desire. The escape from the world around us
as a whole. Our friends, our business partners,
our lovers, our houses, and our hang outs. The
shelter from the rain. This concept we’ve
created in what we call “society” rewards us with
these dynamics. Personal highs and lows that are
only felt conceptually, but as real as any
physical thing. Existing only by yourself and in
a world with no other humans to interact with
would surely be hell. Even if you only hate them
all, it’s still an impetus to better yourself and
prove them all stupid and worthless. We exist as
an individual only because there’s a group to
individuate ourselves from.

Relationships come and go, just like life


rafts sink and get busted up on the docks.
Sometimes you can build the raft in to a ship,
and keep it in the harbor. These are the
relationships you spend time cultivating. The

196
ones that mean more to you than the others. Ship
building is a good metaphor for friendship, I
guess. You have to have a ship to sail the sea,
and the more equipped the ship is to keep you
afloat and comfortable, the better. The best
ships can weather the most powerful of storms,
yet take the most to build, equip, and maintain.
Sometimes ships sail to seas unknown, never to be
heard from again.

We don’t know what to do with the people


that just don’t get it. Some of them we label as
criminals and put them in prisons. Some of them
we label as retarded and we put them in asylums
or heavily medicate them and pay someone to keep
an eye. Some of them get it enough to exist in
the world, but can’t progress. We keep them
under our thumbs with religion, the economy, and
fear. Some of them are close to where they need
to be intellectually to take full advantage of
the world, but just can’t seem to cross the line.
These are the people we try to help, and try to
steer in the right direction. All of them are
separated from us solely by their personal and
individual ability to exist in the society we
created.

What do we do? Exist as we always have,


using our differences both as an identification
and a source of repulsion? Do we try to change

197
things? Are there really any other options? Can
you cater to one side of a conceptual balance
without taking away from the other? How do we
exist together as people, yet identify ourselves
as individuals? When we’re talking about
concepts, there has to be a balance between one
side of the fence and the other. The
intellectual haves and have nots. It’s
depressing. Is it our right to wish for a better
world when we know it will never happen? Can we
steer our ships toward the setting sun without
fear of intellectual pirates? What could the
intellectual revolution be revolting against?
The tyranny of the stupid over the smart? That’s
not right either. It’s doomed to failure because
of the ability of the intellectually baseless to
improve their predicament. Sic semper evello
mortem tyrannis.

Drawing a clear line between smart and


stupid is impossible just like anything else
being relative, externally interpreted, personal,
and individuated. Can we revolt against
conceptual balances? Can we revolt against the
idea that we have to be on one side of the fence
or the other? Will America continue to be
divided into red and blue states, or can we all
register as independents? There’s a nice clean

198
similarity to the conceptual struggles we know
and lament in the American political system.

We are all Americans. We are fifty states


united under a federal government of individuals
representing groups of individuals. They argue
back and forth about theoretical concepts, and
create laws and rules to try to organize society
and deliver justice to those who chose to deviate
from those rules. We have a two party system
that divides groups of people with the same goals
of existing and prospering into “republicans” and
“democrats.” There are other parties, but none
with enough numbers to matter in Washington.
There’s a very small ideological difference
between the two that’s just as foggy as it is
small. Republicans traditionally support smaller
government, less taxes, and a free market
economy. Democrats traditionally support
government spending on social programs, labor
unions, and cultural diversity. While seemingly
fighting for opposite conceptual sides of fences,
they are only establishing where the fence is.
There was never a dispute over there being a
border, only where the border lies.

Buddhists talk about the middle way, which


is a nice way to wrap up the whole process.
People do not completely agree on anything that

199
lay in concept. Physical things are unerring and
permanent. Concepts are esoteric and liquid.

Establishing a middle ground is for


extremists. Average people don't fall into the
extremes, they capitulate somewhere near the
middle of ideological fights. Most people can
reason both sides of a good argument. While
sailing the stormy seas of society, what have we
but ships, sailors, harbors, and cargo?

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Chapter Fourteen – When The Lights go out
in New York City

Is there really any point to seek to remove


ourselves from this struggle? Is there any way
to make Atlas shrug? I’ve mentioned this a few
times, but one of the best books I have ever read
is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. It’s a hell of a
book; half philosophical mind fuck, half literary
masterpiece.

In it, the life and times of a country of


people are decided and affected by influential
people that argue constantly over the good life,
what it is, and how to get it. We encounter
characters Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, Francisco
D’Anconia, Hugh Akston, John Galt, Ragnar
Danneskjold, and others united in a struggle
against idiot fucks and their Washington
counterparts James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Wesley
Mouch, and Dr. Robert Stadler.

Like it said on the back, the book is


tremendous in scope, a literary classic, and
equally distributed in those that read it, hated
it, and loved it. I am one of the people that

201
read it several times, found solace in the ideas
of Ayn Rand, and urged others to read it and
appreciate it as I had.

John Galt, the leader of an intellectual


revolution, comes to the realization that he is
living for other people that feed off of him and
his ideas without acknowledging his
accomplishments as his. He invents a radical new
invention that converts the static electricity in
the atmosphere to kinetic energy that can be
applied to a motor. This would obviously change
the world around him very rapidly, but he doesn’t
want the world to benefit from his invention
while ideologically supporting this idea that
what he did was done for humanity as a whole.
Although it was meant to be delivered to
humanity, John Galt struggled with his ability
being capitalized upon to reward his inferior co-
workers.

Although appreciating the fact that


humanity would benefit from his invention, he
works at a company that has been sanctimoniously
dumped in the hands of the workers. This has
resulted in the men being paid according to their
needs which are decided originally by the mass,
but eventually decided by someone arbitrarily put
in charge of deciding what a person’s needs were.
They were forced to work according to their

202
ability, which meant that John “needed less”
based on his lack of a family, but was able to
work more due to his enormous intellect.

If the problems in this are not self


evident to you, allow me to explain. If you are
someone capable of creating something, anything,
be it a new idea, a new machine, a new piece of
music, or a new piece of art, you deserve
recognition and respect for the formulation of
that new contribution to society.

This is not a characteristic to be taken


lightly, and as John's character shows us in the
book, he doesn’t take it lightly either. Instead
of letting the company take all the profit and
credit to further its ridiculous needs, he quits
and takes his new ideas with him.

He’s lucky enough to have a few friends


that act as life rafts on stupid sea, sharing his
ideas and respect for what it means to have them.
All the men in Washington are seeking to make
money for themselves by influencing business and
the stock market to take advantage of people not
equipped to take care of themselves and profiting
from their inabilities. They construct a flawed
economic system doomed from its beginnings in a
room full of pig-headed sociopaths.

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John and his friends Francisco and Ragnar
seek to use their abilities as an inventor and
progenitor of revolution, a global financial
entity, and a pirate, respectively, to undermine
the global society of idiocracy perpetuated by
old money ass holes that don’t have the intellect
or foresight to handle the lives of other people.

They target the individuals in the world


that possess the ability to come up with new
ideas, and ask them to quit that life to join
John Galt, et al. in a place nestled in the Rocky
Mountains called Galt’s Gulch where they can
exist to freely interact and re-create a society
founded on mutual respect of fellow human beings
that love their lives and won’t let themselves be
ruled by other people and the economy. Their
oath to each other states “I swear, by my life
and my love of it, that I will never live for the
sake of another man, or ask another to live for
the sake of mine.”

Throughout the book, the ideas presented by


Ayn Rand through her characters form a philosophy
that is almost as all-encompassing as the
refutations to it she supplies in the text. The
ultimate struggle is to convince Dagny Taggart,
brilliant manager of a transcontinental railroad,
that she needs to join the intellectuals that
have retreated from society. She maintains the

204
belief that society doesn’t need to be changed,
but just needs to be fixed.

She fights the intellectual revolution to


the end, supplying every possible explanation to
avoid it. In the end, the looters of Washington
destroy the world. As John Galt and Dagny
Taggart fly over New York city, the lights go out
symbolizing the end of the old world.

There’s only so much stock you can put in a


book. It’s impossible to lay out every single
opinion you have and every single thing someone
might say to oppose it. Ayn Rand tried very
hard, but still the only solution she could offer
was escape. Through Dagny she tried to offer an
explanation for the call of society to be
repaired. It still can’t work, though. Galt’s
gulch is a fictional place just like utopia,
heaven, Care-a-lot, and Candy Land.

Society can’t be fixed by taking out the


best of us all and then letting the rest destroy
themselves. That doesn’t solve anything, it just
perpetuates the whole dynamic of the intellectual
haves and the intellectual have nots. Social
change is rooted in the need for change. There
has to be a majority consensus that there is a
problem before a change can be made. Change is a
concept rooted in time, another concept. Change

205
exists in past, present, and future. Change can
be personal, broad, and externally viewed as
right or wrong.

Some day in the future, will the people


that inherited the earth from us wander around
the ruins of New York City like we wander around
the ruins of Rome, wondering about the people
that lived and worked there? When the lights go
out in New York City, will it be the end of
humanity, or just the end of New York City?

Ayn Rand purports that society will, and


must, be saved by the select few possessing the
ability to save it. This idea is supported in
our social stratification. There is a pyramid of
economic society, with the power elite at the
top, the debt slaves at the bottom, and a
hierarchy of “middle class” between them with a
ladder that only goes so far. Mobility is
possible in our society, as evidenced by John
Galt’s rise from obscurity to greatness.

The future will happen whether we are ready


or not. It will come, and we will be forced to
endure what it brings whether we are ready or
not. Intellectual society is similar to the
economic pyramid with idiots at the bottom, and
wise men at the top, but the key difference is
that the ladder goes from the bottom all the way

206
to the top. There’s nothing keeping you from
intellectual greatness except your own will to
continue learning.

In that respect, an intellectual revolution


wouldn’t be a revolution at all, just an
acceptance of the need to progress as a society
and on a personal level. Progression is balanced
by transgression and regression. You must
struggle to achieve greatness. Greatness is
defined externally.

When Ayn Rand’s Atlas shrugged, it was


because the metaphorical motor of the world had
been stopped by John Galt and his associates
removing themselves from society and manifesting
it in a new direction in a new place. It
resolved the philosophical problem of escape, but
it did not offer a solution in the real world,
only a fictional world created by Ayn Rand that
while bearing a striking resemblance to ours, is
not.

When the lights of Ayn Rand’s New York City


went out, there was no internet, there was no
facebook, there were no cell phones, and nuclear
war was just beginning to offer a realistic and
tangible end to society and moreover, the world.
The civil rights movement was yet to come to
fruition, and Jack Kerouac was just beginning to

207
publish his writings about his late nights of pot
smoking in black jazz clubs. Martin Luther King,
Jr. was just another black guy in the south
getting oppressed by white idiot fucks.

Nuclear war never happened, but neither did


nuclear disarmament. The civil rights movement
happened, and it at least dissolved one of the
stupid differences we separate ourselves by. At
least we got that right. History shows a line of
progression, regression, and transgression
building up to the present, yet still offering us
an unlimited amount of ideas to build on. Change
happens every day as we march through the
inevitable passing of time. We will never stop
it, and we shouldn’t try.

We’re all going to die, and so will New


York City. Our lights will go out long before
the great cities we’ve built, but everything
comes to an end. With the exception of concepts.
Concepts are eternal. As long as there are
people, they will agree and disagree.

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Chapter Fifteen – A Destination

So, we have a destination. The


future. We march forward in time, but measure it
backwards from arrival at our destination. The
hardest part of any trip is the long road home.
The anticipation lies in the approach, the value
in the destination, and the meaning in the
return. Life is a long road home to death.

209
Marching on endlessly, our existence just a shit
stain on the universal blanket of time. Things
fade away as we grow older, ideas we held fast
evaporate as if we had never questioned them in
the first place. Our reveries of childhood
dreams are crushed by nightmares of adult
reality. We dream of being Ghost Busters and
wind up doling out burritos in another stupid dot
on a map.

Every night I like to take at least a


couple of minutes to look at the sky. There’s
not much that is more breath taking to me than a
good view of the stars on a clear night. Ever
since I was a kid, I liked to stare at the stars
and wonder how far away they are. I remember
lying in my bed one night, very young, thinking
about the vastness of space. It’s a pretty big
concept for such a young child to contemplate.

My dad had just read me a book about the


planets, about the names and what they were made
of, and how long it would take to drive to one in
a car. I got to thinking about that kind of
distance. I knew how long it took to drive to
Grand Rapids in a car, we used to go there all
the time, and I had lived there once. I knew it
was kind of far away. Farther than I could walk,
at least, or ride my bike.

210
I thought, If I were to drive a car to the
moon, it would take a really, really, long time.
I also knew that when I stood and looked at
things in the distance, the smaller they were,
the farther away they were, at least in general.
Humans are born with depth perception, after all.

So I thought to myself, if the moon would


take a really long time in a car, and I couldn’t
even see the other planets, but knew they were
really big just like the earth, how far away
could the stars be? And, if space is like a
swimming pool filled with glitter, what is beyond
that? Then, I thought to myself, this place is
really big. A lot bigger than me, a lot bigger
than my house and my school and my city. I
thought about where the god I heard about every
Sunday fit into this equation. He created Earth
and all, but 2000 years ago, they didn't even
know that Earth had an entire other half. They
didn't even know there was indigenous people
there, let alone the fact that there were other
planets hundreds of times the size of ours – they
thought the planets were gods watching over them.

I remember a few years earlier than that,


we're talking toddler days, meeting a friend of
my parents that was a pilot. My first logical
question was “did you go to Care-a-lot and see
the care bears?” He told me that Care-a-lot

211
wasn’t a real place, and that the clouds weren’t
solid enough to build a castle on, because they
were made out of water. I wasn’t crushed, I
wanted to know more.

“If the clouds are made of water, how do


they stay up in the sky?”

“Well, there are different states of


matter, solid liquid and gas. Matter sinks,
liquid runs, and gas floats. Ice is water, too”

“Oh. What about air?”

“Well, that’s a little more complicated,


but the air is something, too- everything is made
out of little pieces called atoms”

I should have pressed further, but I was


only seven, and I had some playing to do. I
wandered downstairs to talk to the little kids
again, and we built a fort underneath the air
hockey table. I remember sitting there,
listening to the other kids talk about the
cartoons we were watching, and I couldn’t help
but keep wondering about what that man had told
me. No Care-bears, huh? Why are some things
around me real, and some things aren’t? Just
makes me want to watch what I say around little
kids. A year or so later, my mom told me the
Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters were also fake,

212
which I had more or less figured out. Life
didn't look like a cartoon, afterall. It was
like a moving book, that wasn't difficult to get
over. I systematically extrapolated that to
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy,
and every other childhood illusion. When I came
to god, my mom told me he was real. Confusing.

So there were no Care-bears in the clouds.


I thought, if the astronauts went to the moon and
they didn’t find heaven, then maybe god wasn’t
real, too. I couldn’t have been more than seven
years old. I was prepared to go beyond that. If
god wasn’t real, and Earth wasn’t the only planet
in the universe, then what else could be out
there? What other gods might people have? If
other stars are like the sun, how many planets
could there be?

Is there a grand architect to everything?


Did someone far greater than I design the whole
place? What was it like before the universe was
around? Nothing but endless white? How could
there be white? No one would have a concept of
white because no one would be there to see it
because they wouldn’t exist yet. What was white,
really, but just a word- a concept. Heavy.

It was a bit too much for me, and I slowly


drifted off to sleep. Problem was, when I woke up

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the thoughts wouldn’t go away. They never have.
Maybe that’s when I first realized how big it all
is. Everything, the world around us and the
world around our world. The ultimate entirety of
the universe is so incomprehensibly vast.
Sometimes I don’t think most adults realize how
big it all is, and how small they are in all of
it. The world is so much bigger than you, your
house, your town, your state, your country. The
solar system full of worlds, the galaxy full of
solar systems, the universe full of galaxies.

We’re insignificant. Sad but true. All


doomed to be stuck on a rock together with
nothing to do but argue with each other, make
babies, and invent concepts to further complicate
our already busy lives until we die. We engineer
expensive electronic toys to make communication
easier, but we talk casually among each other at
parties about sports scores, hair color, and
sales at Wal-Mart. Sickening, isn’t it? Of all
the things to do and see, we keep ourselves in
the little bubble of 'community' we've assembled
around us. It's a shell keeping out the blinding
light of profundity that is the world around us.
World not in the sense of the Earth, but world in
the sense of everything, everywhere, small as an
atom, and as massive as a galaxy.

214
I’ve spent my entire life trying to answer
questions I come up with lying awake in bed at
night, or dumbly staring at the starry skies. I
don’t know why, I just do it. I have yet to
seriously ask myself the question “does everyone
else think about these things, too?” I’m scared
as to what the answer might be. Sometimes I
think people really don’t bother asking questions
about what’s going on around them. It’s sad more
than it is scary, I suppose. They just walk
around letting other people tell them what to do,
acting like the melodramatic assholes on reality
television. Re-enacting the scene from the
latest viral video, quoting lyrics by the latest
corporate create-a-band, re-tweeting, and status-
updating. Filling out drop-down boxes.

I saw a shooting star a while ago for the


first time. After all my years of staring up
there in the black abyss thinking about concepts
like infinity, god, and the universe, and I had
never seen something as common as a shooting
star.

I was lucky enough to be in the company of


a good friend. We had been out drinking with her
roommate and a few of her friends. One of them
had stuck around after we went back to her place,
wanting us to go somewhere else. To the bowling
alley, or something stupidly mundane like that.

215
We were standing in the front yard transfixed on
the sky, excitedly pointing and yelling at every
meteor that streaked across the sky. It was a
meteor shower, like the ones you hear about on
television all the time. I had never remembered
to go outside during one, even if I had ever had
the time.

We ditched the loser, and headed out to an


open field, with as few lights as we could find
in the city. It was only a few blocks away. I
was surprised to see that no one else was out
there enjoying the view. Oh well, I guess maybe
no one else cares.

We laid out a blanket and watched the sky


for an hour or so. The vastness of space seemed,
at that moment, so familiar and tangible. The
meteors may appear thousands of miles apart,
hundreds of miles above us, but we saw them in
transfixed spacial perspective that painted a
uniquely human picture of inescapable beauty. We
waited, staring, until the meteors seemed to die
down. I could live forever in a moment like
that. Seeing something amazing for the first
time, good company, good stories, good times. I
said once that life is nothing but a bunch of
stories. I’ve come to agree with myself more and
more as time goes by.

216
That moment was much like my moment on the
rock, or my moments staring out at the rocky
mountains from the golden burro café. Snapshots
in time that I will carry with me for the rest of
my life. If I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t be
afraid. I have seen and experienced so much in
my years on this planet, and I wouldn’t give up
those experiences for anything.

Just the other day, weeks after that moment


had passed, I wandered home drunk after a long
night of partying and typing late into the night
at Fourth Coast. As always, I took a fleeting
moment to stop in the front yard and gaze up into
the sky. As I looked up, just above the top of
the house, a shooting star streaked across my
view. I smiled, remembering the last time I had
seen one. Then, just for a second, I thought I
might see a golden bird get caught mid-flight by
a black jaguar. Maybe it was an acid flashback,
now I know what people mean when they say that.
You'll just have to see it for yourself.

I only entertained the thought for a


second, as I walked into the house, down the
stairs, and fell into my bed in a wretched
exhausted hump. I laid there, again, thinking
about the stars like I always do, and thought
that maybe it wasn’t so bad, all the crazy shit
going on around the world, and around me. As

217
long as the stars are in the sky, and as long as
there’s rocks in the Pacific Ocean, I’m going to
die a happy man. There's a level of involvement
we maintain as we trudge our way through
existence. A balance, a middle-way, a
homeostasis, a harmony. That's what we should be
seeking. It's good to see both sides of the
fight, it's a good perspective to keep. Stay in
the middle, face-forward and ready for the day.
Ready for the new, for the journey, and for the
long road home. Life, I've heard people say, is
a constant battle. If it's a battle, it's time
to put on your game face and fighting stance.
Die facing forward, with the zeal of your youth
and the wisdom of your age etched in your face
for all the world to see.

Chapter Sixteen – The Long Road Home

We got to San Francisco, a disgusting mass


of smog and cars lining ridiculous hills full of
row houses. Kevin drove in as I slept like a
newborn high on Humboldt grass, and found a nice
scenic overlook with a really good view of the
Golden Gate bridge. He decided to take a nap,
and woke up with a knock on the window from a man
with a shiny badge and a flashlight.

Cops.

218
Kevin turns on the car, rolls down the
window. We had been woken up by cops once in
Oklahoma City, and once in Montana, all as a
result of our choice of parking spots for
sleeping. It’s admittedly a little suspicious to
see a car with a Michigan license plate and foggy
windows just sitting in Golden Gate Park in the
early hours of morning. Sometimes I disagree
with Kevin’s judgment on places to sleep,
although it was a gorgeous view. Oh well. The
cop happens to ask the question, “Are there any
weapons or drugs in the car?”

I swallowed hard. Kevin has a vocal


opposition to telling a lie. I can’t hate on the
guy for having values, but there’s a time and a
place to divulge crucial information;
particularly when you have the right to remain
silent. I just wanted to get home without a
prison stay. We had a gun. We were staying in
the wilderness for large tracts of time, who
knows what the fuck we could have run into? It
was perfectly reasonable to have a firearm in our
possession, and it was completely unnecessary to
speak on the matter. Kevin would rather have
been perfectly honest, I would rather have
remained perfectly silent. To each his own, I
suppose. At least he didn't mention my grass.

219
It was a nine millimeter, fully legal and
licensed to Kevin. No dirty weapons in my car.
Unfortunately, as we found out, California law
says that if you have bullets in the case, it’s
considered loaded. Also, only law enforcement
officers are allowed to have twelve shot clips,
or whatever crazy shit he had.

Another cop pulled up, after we had been


asked to exit the car, hand over the keys, and
sit helplessly on a log next to the car. I was
sweating bullets. There was an ounce of Humboldt
County Chronic just barely concealed in my open
backpack, which was sitting on top of the
mattress in the back of the car, which was
covering an open bottle of tequila. The gun was
under the other end of the mattress, which is
what we told the cop. I had given Kevin the
“Please let me speak to these people, I know
exactly what to say” look, and he picked up on
the vibe. He opened the back hatch, lifted up
the mattress, which caused the backpack to fall
forward and fully conceal the bag of grass. I
imagined the backpack helping me out
intentionally as I heard the satisfying sliding
sound of fabric against vinyl. He opened the gun
case, inspected it, compliments Kevin on the
cleanliness, and let us go free with a warning

220
not to carry concealed handguns in the state of
California.

The other cop, having been a California


import himself, escorted us to a nearby youth
hostel where we could sleep uninterrupted in the
parking lot. That was my first taste of San
Francisco. Fucking terrifying. I smoked two
bowls before I went to sleep that night, fighting
off the shakes of adrenaline the whole time.

When you play with fire, you’re going to


get burnt. We had a quick brush with reality
that day. It was nice, however, to be treated
ethically and respectfully by the police, who
understood our situation and didn’t try to be
overtly authoritative as much as they did
informative and helpful. That’s how the police
are supposed to act, and I was really happy to
have seen it. I’m just really glad they didn’t
see the bag of weed and the open intox.

We woke up and drove back to Golden Gate


Park to take pictures and stretch our legs. We
wandered over the ruins of machine gun
entrenchments from forgotten days, imagining the
lives lived out there protecting the bay. We
walked along the streets, feeling the city from
the inside. This was the destination, the point

221
where the trip comes to an end and fades out to
the long road home.

We wandered around Chinatown, in and out of


the shops, buying trinkets and smelling the
smells of hundred-year old fermenting teas and
oriental incenses. We sat at a Chinese
restaurant, scooping rice with chopsticks and
discussing our departure.

We paid the bill and left town to check


out Big Sur, our final stretch of the near
entirety we drove of highway one. Kevin had been
enticed by a picture of this place in Big Sur
called McWay cove, a nice protected beach with
palm trees and a waterfall. It had become his
sole obsession of the trip. The whole paradise
bit, he seemed to be searching for a place to
imagine as his happy place. A place to visualize
himself in during trying times. After pulling to
the side of the road several times to take
pictures, and soak in the view, we found the
parking lot for McWay cove. We found out it cost
eight bucks per vehicle, and the waterfall had
run dry.

I swear, for a second, that I almost saw


Kevin shed a tear. How horrible it is, to come
to see paradise and find out it costs money to
walk down the staircase and look at where the

222
waterfall used to be until all the assholes in
San Francisco and Los Angeles sucked up all the
water. They had commoditized his paradise into a
farce. I asked him if he wanted to go down, he
just said “let’s get back in the car and find a
view of it from the road and take a picture” with
a far away look in his eye, as if he were
fighting the urge to cry. I could hear his voice
shake ever so slightly.

I felt bad for him. I had been feeling the


overwhelming sense of commercialization, too.
There was something different about that stretch
of the drive than the serene scenes on my rock of
solitude. We left Big Sur not quite sure how we
felt about the whole situation. Surely it was
beautiful, surely it was amazing, but there was
just a sordid feeling that we were part of some
sort of institutionalized escape fed to us by
societally-induced visual archetypes of freedom.
It was driven by thousands of people every day,
just the same. Nothing about it was unique or
memorable despite the fact we had decided it was
our destination. For some passing through, it
was a drive to work or play. For us it was
supposed to mean something. Something we could
remember as an escape, but ended up remembering
as a sort of disappointment. What was this
feeling I had? Surely the land was beautiful and

223
the journey was a triumph, but I felt it lacked
substance. It lacked meaning outside the
bragging rights of cruising Big Sur. We hadn't
discovered or uncovered it's beauty, we had been
duped by commercialization to go there and “know”
it was beautiful. We drove post haste southeast
towards Death Valley. Kevin drove. Madly he
drove through the night, disgusted with Big Sur,
the big money America machine, and particularly
with McWay cove.

He woke me up in the geographical center of


Death Valley, as far as he could reckon, in the
still dead of the desert night. He was smoking a
cigarette. He just said “we’re in the middle of
the desert, check out the stars.”

We got out of the car and sat in the middle


of the road for a long time, listening to the
animals in the distance chattering mindlessly and
relentlessly about being in the middle of nowhere
and how many stars there were in the sky. It was
a thousand times more beautiful than any view of
Big Sur. It was a visceral and personal beauty,
one with an actual meaning. An experience with
fulfillment that didn't feel as if we were
marking a box on “Life: The Checklist.” It was a
random experience in the dead of night, one that
has certainly been had by others but not
capitalized on and commoditized like that stretch

224
of coastal highway bridging terror-tropolises Las
Angeles and San Francisco. Untold millions had
uttered about the beauty of Big Sur over soy
lattes, taking the natural surroundings as taken-
for-granted fixtures of their daily lives. I
stared into the limitless expanse of the universe
and wondered how many of those people had taken
the time to drive three hours away and check out
this scene, which I found exponentially more
appealing than a stretch of highway between
cities. It was only then that I realized why it
was we were traveling around the country. The
value of the trip was in the unexpected personal
experiences along the way. The long road home
wasn't a sad decrescendo of the trip, it just
another part of the trip. The trip hadn't been
about going to San Francisco, it was about two
buddies hitting the road with an idea of a
destination and a thirst for new experiences.
You can't plan those things out, they just
happen.

Two days later, we were home. Kevin drove


almost the whole way. We didn’t talk much for
the whole ride. It wasn’t that we were angry
with each other, we were both just so
disappointed with what we had seen that we’d
rather just get home and deal with it in our own
personal ways. There’s not much to be seen after

225
you get through Denver. Kevin and I had spent
our time in the Rockies, we were homeward bound.

It’s a clear shot through the Midwest back


home to Kalamazoo. We stopped in St. Louis for a
change of scenery and a quick look at the Arch.
It cost money to take the ride up it. Everything
costs money. We commoditized everything. Here
you go, America, have this Arch. It’s going to
represent the spirit of adventure as the
metaphorical gateway to the West. Gateway to a
consumerist garbage wasteland it is.

When we got home, nothing had changed but


the season. It wasn’t winter anymore, the snow
was melting away and it was time for spring
again. I still had to go on making burritos, my
memories now fading away. Kevin had to find a
new vision of paradise, and I had to figure out
how I was going to settle back into a familiar
world full of idiot fucks and life rafts on
stupid seas.

What did the future hold for me that


summer? I continued to make burritos, I
continued to live, I continued to pursue those
moments where I didn’t care about anything except
what was going on right then. I ended up going
to Pennsylvania a few times, I drove to
Washington, D.C. to visit Seth, I went to Chicago

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a few times, I went to Cedar Point with my little
brother, I went camping in central Michigan, I
stayed out late drinking and having a good time
as much as time and finances would allow. I made
a lot of new friends that summer, some I hope to
keep around for a good long time. I loved every
fucking second of it. I spent my money, I didn’t
care, and I don’t regret it. I love being alive.

There are a lot of concepts flying around


these days. All sorts of things we have to worry
about, and things we have to take care of, but
just want to put off to another day so we can
enjoy the little time we have. I’m just like
everyone else. I wake up, I do my job, I try to
enjoy my life as best as I can. Even though
there’s so many questions still unanswered, so
many questions still yet to be asked, and so many
more things to see and experience, there’s always
going to be times where I wish I was somewhere
else.

There will continue to be times standing


behind that cash register where I just can’t make
sense of the world around me. Times where I feel
totally helpless moving in and out of my parent’s
house, trying to carve my path through the
wilderness and staring up at the stars late at
night in a drunken haze, wondering what it all
means. Times when I'd swear life couldn't get

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any worse, and times where I'd wonder if it could
get any better. Life is a wholly-encompassing
experience of soaring triumphs and depressing
defeat holding the extremes about a middle-way
for you to walk your line from birth to death.
It's your line, stretching forward to meet new
experiences, and stretching backwards as a long
road home.

I hope you have learned something on this


journey with me. It’s your road, and it’s a road
you must follow alone. Don’t worry, all of your
friends will be there to help keep you along the
way. History brought us to where we are, and it’s
up to us to perpetuate and add to it. Who cares
about the idiots? Let them be idiots. There
will be good times, and there will be bad, but we
can all rest assured knowing that tomorrow is
another day, and there’s always a new road to
travel. Home is where the heart is.

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Enjoy your journey.

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