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May 19, 2013

Cliche College Reflection

Foreword: So obviously I was going to do one of these. Anyone who knows me knows I have an insatiable need for attention (probably not my most redeeming quality) and I've been doing these embarrassing, reflective-type posts since I was in middle school probably. Why I feel the need to open my brain for obscured strangers in the late hours of the night is completely beyond me but I do. I think I need to show people the man behind the curtain and prove that I am aware and conscious of the terrible things I do every now and again. I got into an argument recently about whether being aware that you do bad things redeems you in any way, I'm in the camp of actions speak louder than words but that's neither here nor there. So here's the deal. I pour my heart out to whoever is interested and then regret it in a few days and take the post down. But, while it's up, you all get to listen to good music and judge which, lets be honest, everyone likes to do every now and again so here we go. 

P.S. If you're new here, the original concept of the blog was the idea that we're driving around in a car you and I. I work the radio, drive where the road takes me, and blather incessantly. That's why there are videos posted between paragraphs of ranting. I think in any good conversation the music sets the mood or the mood sets the music, either way, listen or don't. Save your judgements for the anonymous comment section which you all can avail yourselves to. 

P.P.S People still read this? I haven't posted in this for about a year. I feel bad about it. If you are one of those few people who are interested I will try to make this post extra exciting for you muchachos.

Things I've learned in college:
I really learned next to dick in any of my actual college classes. That is a terribly awful thing to say after spending four years of my life and thousands of my parent's dollars sitting in a classroom so I feel as though I should backtrack a bit. In my general education classes I learned dick. I learned fun facts that you may just as easily pick up from reading Cracked, i.e. monkeys have tails apes don't, if the Earth was the size of the head of a pin the nearest star would be in Washington (not exactly sure if this was the example, whatever, universe is big we are tiny), wind is caused by the Coriolis effect, a group of pugs is called a grumble and a group of unicorns is called a flamboyance (these last two things I didn't learn from my classes but still, a grumble? c'mon, that's awesome). But other than fun facts, I learned how to cram for tests and then dump the information because I will literally never ever use it again.  

However, what I did learn was how to think critically. I learned how to cut through a text as if it were soft bread and get to the heart of whatever argument is being made. I learned how to analyze motivations, compare evidence and draw conclusions that back up my initial claim. Perhaps you sit scoffing that I'm simply scrambling to find some way to justify spending four years of my college career reading books while you figured out how buzz through tax returns and play the stock market. To which I say, scoff away but I use those skills every damn day. Knowing how people make arguments, craft images of themselves and ideas, and subtly manipulate conversations, has made me who I am. For better or worse I suppose. Here's something true I didn't learn at college but learned while in college, intelligent people are more depressed. So... hooray for that. 

On that subject, I learned that every single person goes through the shit. Some people have to fight their way through more than others and I think I've been lucky in a lot of ways but I've definitely had to deal with the dark parts. A pretty damn smart person told me a while ago that no one gets through childhood unscathed, and now it's just a matter of patching up the broken bits. I've really had to deal with that. The shock of moving to a brand new city where I knew literally nobody caught up with me after a particularly pronounced bender which put me into the hospital freshman year. I don't like to talk about it much but that's when I first knew I had to deal with some mental issues and I think I'm not special in any way when it comes to that. There have been days where I just don't want to get out of bed, where dreaming about a girl I knew a long time ago seems about a million times better than going to a party where I have to dance and sing and put on a good show. There are those late 5 o'clock mornings where I feel like I'm toeing that edge of sanity as my mind cycles and spins endlessly. But what's helped me is that I know I'm not alone. I learned that even the most confident people have moments of doubt, people brimming with happiness lose themselves in the dark, and we're all kind of in it together. 

So I learned how to cope. I have a two pronged approach now. I either work out until I can't stand or write until my brain has no more strength to spin. I learned that I love to write. I realize that should be fairly apparent at this point but up until like a year ago I just thought I liked to write, I never really called myself a writer. It was a strange thing to sit down and just be like, "oh wait, this is what I've been doing in all my time in school, in my free time, and it occupies my mind a fair portion of the time, perhaps I ought to do that." It sounds kind of pretentious, so I'm sorry for that, but I do, I like writing. I write the shakes out, I write the demons down, I write even when I have nothing to say. Different shapes, different forms, but I like to do it. I like writing action and dialogue. Someone turning to another and calling them a curly headed fucktwat, the other person responds, a scuffle ensues, and then everyone drinks (everyone always drinks in my stories). I'm in love with living in the worlds I create. I fill it with all of my friends and we can act how I feel we all need to act but can't for one reason or another. It's nice to write without boundaries or rules. I write dark poetry about fucking rich republican women in the back of their mothers' mercedes. I write about a space bounty hunter who saves damsels in distress but is whipped (lovingly) by his strong wife with a beehive hairdo. And I write about a man fighting for what he thinks is right in a world where the darkness bubbles unseen beneath every surface and he has to embrace his own darkness to win. So yeah, I like that. 

I learned the term Weltschmerz which for those of you too lazy to read a wiki article, is a term coined by some dead German guy to describe a feeling of world weariness. It's a word to encompass the feeling that there is so much wrong in the world and there is absolutely nothing you as an individual can do to fix it. I forget who said this quote and I don't want to look it up but it was something like all great artists feel a great responsibility to right the wrongs of humanity and the art stems from their inability to do so. Now obviously, I'm not going to call myself a great artist. In the above paragraph I talk about writing about space bounty hunters. But I do think this is a kind of sickness that is pervasive in a lot of people in my generation. Because we have access to the internet and this seemingly infinite wealth of information, we know all about all the shit of the world and it's frustrating. I think personally that's why I like creating worlds in my own writing. It's a sort of anesthetic, it has a warm fuzzy feeling like a good painkiller. It's like movies, music, video games, alcohol, naked strangers in the night, whatever. They are all just temporary stays from this heavy feeling of impending doom, or a slowly approaching natural death at the very least. All the anesthetics have a kind of twisted humor to them and I think that's why people embrace them. Losing yourself in cathartic hedonism is kind of like pissing into the yawning void. It's like standing naked on a mountain and shouting yourself hoarse at the dusty, empty ground below. I don't know, it's just interesting, something I learned and something I think of and deal with every day. 

I learned sorry isn't good enough sometimes. This was the hardest thing I've ever had to learn. Somehow as a kid, I thought that if people make mistakes and they admit them and ask forgiveness, everyone moves on, everyone tries to do it better. This is just not the case. It took until I burned a bridge so thoroughly that things were never the same again that I realized sorry doesn't cut it. I don't like speaking in generalities (mostly) so I'll just say it, the summer before my junior year was a very tumultuous time in my life. I went to Coachella for the first time and lost myself entirely in this feeling of absolute freedom, of hope in the world and in people, and also hope in myself. I believed that if I was blunt all the time and never played the bullshit games that people play to keep society moving, I would somehow be able to start fixing things. It was in this way I took on a persona that served as a kind of foil to what every one does on a day to day basis. Everyone puts on a mask, everyone defines their personality and acts the way they think will get the most people to like them, the most people to fuck them, whatever. I just put on a mask that was about a hundred times louder and more obnoxious than anyone else's. I still felt as though I was standing for what I believed in, and it felt incredibly freeing and euphoric to be able to act any way that popped into my head like some sort of anarchic Peter Pan. But really I was just being an asshole. And then it all came crashing down when I got fired from the DA. That was when I realized how far I had pushed people away and to this day I am still ashamed of the way I acted at that time. It's almost scary because I know that's simply a part of my personality, that I have the capability of losing myself to this sort of chaotic monstrosity and I learned I have to deal with it and just try my best. 

I learned that no matter how moral or righteous you might think of yourself, sometimes there are choices you are forced to make where there is no good outcome. And you do something that haunts you every single damned day. Something that spits in the face of your lofty ideal of friends over everything. I learned that no amount of words can ever fix the betrayal of a friend you truly care about. I regret that more than anything. People who say they have no regrets are either fucking liars or have never been faced with a truly difficult choice. 

I learned that love never really dies. It's either replaced or it changes to something like a cancer and a cross. 

I learned that I have some of the best goddamn friends in the whole world. I have friends who know I make these colossal mistakes, that I hurt people without meaning to and sometimes with meaning to. I have friends that know I struggle, like most people do, to find a balance, to find a path to fix the broken bits of myself, to act like the man I know I need to be. Sometimes all that takes is a "suck it up pussy" type sentiment and sometimes that's what I need. Other times they'll let me drunkenly lament about how the world is bullshit, how I think I'm a bad person, how I think love is something we tell our kids to keep them from knowing a more complicated truth, and sometimes that's all I need too. I really can't express how grateful I am for all of them, for any of you reading, I'm so goddamn happy to have you all in my life, I'm supremely lucky in that respect, I'd be lost without you mofos, sappy emotions etc etc etc love you guys. For real tho. 

I learned that I'm strong, that I can handle things on my own. I learned that I can take quite a beating and stand back up and ask for more. I think that's why I applied for the Peace Corps. It's another proving ground. It's another chance for me to go out there and test myself. It's an opportunity to give myself to a cause I believe in, to meet people I would never in a million years meet, and experience life in a way I never could as a middle class kid from the suburbs. I was able to get through college without burning out, without having a life altering meltdown, or anything like that. I busted my ass in a few of my classes to get good grades so I could continue riding this ride. 

I learned that I loathe writing in a coherent fashion. Strunk and White can suck my dick. If I want to place a long rambling sentence with about a billion dangling clauses and the reader gets lost because of all of the and's then I'm sorry. I write the way I talk. I think this may be a bad thing and eventually I'll probably have to fix it, but until then, eat it grammar.

I learned how insanely lucky I am, truly. So many people have it so much harder than I do and that's something I really try my best to never take for granted. I write because I think that's the one thing I can eventually give back to the world and hopefully help someone, anyone out there get through this sticky mass of life. That's really all I am trying to do. 

I learned that there is still love in people. Perhaps not that saccharine Disney, fairy tale bullshit, but I mean, real love. Not the kind of easy free love that people are willing to toss out like wilted flowers at some muddy, trash filled music festival. But the kind of love that's inherent in all of us, that we need to fight for. It's the love I feel we all need to stand for and shake off the societal restraints that keep us from doing so. I think I die a bit inside every time I read the vitriolic, ignorant, hate-filled comments on the Internet but I think it just strengthens my resolve that these people, more than anyone, need love in their lives again. They need to be reminded that there are still good people out there, in fact the world is filled with them, no matter what the news tells you. Despite us being so solidly divided into red and blue and being so beaten down, I think we all want the same things, we're just frustrated by our lack of real options in terms of politics. And I think everyone feels that same frustration but I think everyone still has the capacity to hope. I mean, that guy who saved those three kidnapped ladies? He's just an average dude, I think most of the people in the world have the capacity for that kind of heroism and strength, I just think you just can't let those bastards get you down. 

I learned that sometimes a long hug from a close friend, or a facebook poke from someone you haven't seen in ages is enough to turn a day around. I learned that if you ever tell someone to have a great day and sincerely mean it, (as in, not forced to say it), they'll probably have one. Little kindnesses are what keeps us all breathing I think. That and fucking awesome music. Also oxygen. 

I learned I'm absolutely terrible at keeping in contact with pretty much everyone I am not in immediate proximity to. This is something that really bothers me but I'm not sure how to fix it. I try really hard to maintain some level of contact, even if it's small. I wish I was better at this and I'm working on it, but just know that I will be thrilled to see you if I haven't in a month, and even more thrilled if it's been years. I think once you make a bond with someone that never really fades. So this is all to say, be prepared for me to stumble into your life and grab a beer at some point. I miss the shit out of so many people and I know when I leave SD I'll miss the shit out of so many more people. But I'm always down to see and talk to whoever I can. I quite like all of you guys. 

I learned most English literature is incredibly depressing. I figured out why though. It's because it depends where you end the story. The guy and the girl get together and get married? Happy ending, comedy. Same story 20 years later after an affair, a divorce and a suicide? Tragedy. But there are certain times where even though the story runs its course and is still something powerful. There’s one story of a man living alone in a retirement home with only memories of his only true love to keep him company. He then slowly loses his mind and dies but not before setting an example strong enough to last in so many memories. Sometimes that’s enough of a story to keep someone going long after the story is done. Sometimes a story like that is enough to make you pick up the pieces of your own life and try to find the strength that kept him going for so many years, all in order to find the kind of quiet dignity and true love that allowed him to pass peacefully on. Sometimes stories are more than stories. Sometimes stories are more real than life and sometimes you just have to keep turning the pages or pick up a new book. 

Anyways, this is a really goddamn long post. I'm sorry I've put you through this but I hope it was at least halfway interesting. It's cathartic for me to get it all out, I just hope you can make sense of the mess and get what I was trying to articulate beneath the mumbling. Know that you are a beautiful person. If you can take the time to wade through the mess of someone else's semi-coherent ramblings it speaks to a real capacity for empathy and I'm so happy to have known you in whatever capacity I do. We're all in this mess together, and I think we're going to need more compassion, more empathy and more feeling for one another if we're going to build a better world. It sounds like an airy platitude but this is our time, this is our future, and I hope we never lose sight of that. It's been a blast though. Sorry for everything, thanks for everything, I think this next chapter will be a good one. Here's to you guys.