Truth or Dare - A Spoken Word
I wrote this poem for The Chris Gethard Show’s Truth or Dare episode a few weeks ago but ended up not being able to make the show. So here it is. I’m not sure this will translate properly when it’s not being performed, but let’s go for it, yea?
TRUTH OR DARE
Did you order the code red?
You don’t have to answer that question.
I’ll answer the question. You want answers.
I think I’m entitled.
You want answers.
I want the truth.
YOU CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH.
sometimes the truth is like math we weren’t meant to solve.
you can’t handle the proof.
yes, sometimes the truth of reality makes us react more like toddlers teething.
who can’t handle the tooth.
sometimes hearing how it really is makes us sensitive to jokes and jest.
you can’t handle the goof.
they say knowledge is power like steroids to athletes.
but sometimes, you can’t handle the juice.
they say the truth makes us richer, like a finely dined dinner.
but sometimes you’re too full to take it in, so you can’t handle the coos coos.
and after having a little taste of what’s real you want more, cuz it seems sweet at the surface.
but sometimes it turns terribly tumultuous. you can’t handle the the sugar, you can’t handle the pudding. you can’t handle the mouse, you can’t handle the fruit loops.
so you try and box the truth out after consuming it like grabbing boards in basketball, but it digests and hurts as you attempt to force it out of the bowels of your memory. but you can’t handle the poop. you can’t handle the deuce. you can’t handle that sheeeeeiit.
so you take 5, and then take another take, take 2, and toy with truth’s brother - mr. dare. but dare comes with his own baggage - what if you’re too scared. what if it’s sexual and you feel un-pre-pared. what if you don’t want to eat that. what if you don’t want to go there. what if you don’t want to say that. what if you don’t want to play that. what if you don’t want to steal that money. what if you don’t want take those drugs for fear of turning into a junky. what if you love animals and don’t want to kill that donkey.
so you take 10, and then take another take, take 3, and toy with dare’s cousin - defiance. Truth or dare.
~p to the…
A Few Words from the OTHER Pear You're Eating
Here’s a piece I wrote that talks about how unfairly baller pear-eating people are.
What up dude? I’m so glad you picked me up. You’re a strong, independent dude. Did you know that? Of course you did, because you’re about to eat me. A delicious pear – one of the most underestimated and thus underappreciated fruits of all time. But you’re not like everyone else. You get me, and I get you – now let’s get out of this convenience store. Damn, you bought me at a convenience store – you really are the man! Haterz gon’ hate though for sure.
So why did you choose to eat me instead of a less wholesome snack like a bag of Fritos, Dorritos, Cheetos, or a burrito? Hmm..let me think. 7-11 convenience store at 9 pm and you bought me along with a small bottle of Fiji Water and a pack of 5 gum. Oh snap son, you’re going on a date, aren’t you!? Ahh, and you want to eat me because I’m filling, but not too filling, I’m juicy but not too juicy so my juices won’t get on that fly ass outfit, and I won’t make your breath so hot it melts glass. NICE. Eat on player. Eat on. I’m the best, and by the way things are shaping up, so are you.
Wait a second. Is that the girl? Dude, that’s not a girl. That’s a goddess. That is a gift from the heavens. That’s a portrait on a wall that just hugged you. That’s a little boy’s adolescent wet dream. That’s a grown man’s misplaced nostalgia. And that’s your reality! Kudos my friend. Kudos. You’re a good looking guy and judging by the bite marks in me right now you have a nice set of teeth too, but there’s got to be more to you to attract a woman like this. You’re probably into mentoring kids or something aren’t you? I knew it. She digs it too - if her words weren’t enough she just grabbed your booty ever so playfully. But you didn’t grab hers - just like a good guy. Hmm…what else? I bet you have a daily grind that you’re quite successful at…an urban planner!? She digs that too - bro, she’s all over you. BOOM. Well the keys to the city are yours tonight my friend. Ahhhh, thank you for placing me gently in the garbage can. I can still see you through the crevices in the receptacle. You even walk like a dude that has his shiz together. You’re about to have crazy sex tonight aren’t you? Ahhhh….of COURSE NOT! You make love. Crazy love. What a gentleman.
I love you, man. Each bite is like a memory that I will never ever…ehhh, someone just threw doggie deuce on me…later bro.
~p to the…
A Few Words from the Pear You're Eating
Here’s a piece I wrote unfairly stereotyping people who eat pears.
- by Kassia
Hey there, sweetheart. Yeah, it’s me. The pear you’re eating. How are you doing? Not well, huh? I know, it’s hard to talk and cry at the same time. Shh, shh, shh. It’s okay. You don’t have to answer that. Deep breaths. You’re a mess, aren’t you? You know how I knew? You’re eating me, a pear. No one with a healthy self-esteem eats a pear. Have you ever seen a president eat a pear? Of course you haven’t. That’s not what we’re there for.
When you choose to eat one of my kind, you’re saying “Hey world, look at me hating myself!” You’re saying “I don’t deserve to eat a fruit that doesn’t look like I found it in the garbage and wrestled it from a raccoon.” We’re beaten up. We’re bruised. We’re ugly shapes. We’re always on the verge of rotting. Just like you.
I’m glad I finally get to meet you, at least. I was in the bottom of your hand-sewn corduroy and paisley patched shoulder bag for a day and a half and I thought to myself, “Geez, I hope I get to meet this girl before she puts on a chanting monks album and does something rash.” But here we are. Alone on a park bench. Be careful, though - your posture is so bad that that the kids might mistake your back for a slide. Watch out for that. If you feel anything else on your shoulders, literally or figuratively, you might crack.
Listen, I don’t usually do this, but throw me away. Seriously. Put me in the garbage can – fine, compost pile (I can’t expect you to change in a day) – and let a homeless man have his way with me. You need to start believing in yourself. The guys back at the orchard would kill me if they heard this pep talk. You know, we rely on mousy-haired 16-to-28-year-olds for our bread and butter. So this is pear-heresy right here, but buck the fuck up. Take a look at yourself in your metal water bottle. See those eyes? They could be pretty if they were dry and you knew what the word Maybelline meant. And would you look at those wrists. Absolutely dainty! You’ve got beautiful wrists, save for those ambiguous scars on them. See? Those are two parts of you that you can be proud of. Now what do you say we expose your ankles to some sunlight?
What are you doing? Stop. Stop it. Put that ziplock bag of homemade trail mix back in your bag. Is that what’s been digging into me? Listen, Elizabeth – how’d I know that’s your name? Come on. Of course it’s your name. Elizabeth, sweetheart. I get it. You hate yourself so much that you are practically giving yourself back to the Earth from whence you came. But it’s okay to be bold. It’s okay to fight a little. When was the last time you chewed bubble gum? Huh? Did a cartwheel? Oh. You never learned. Okay. Well, that’s a lost ball we’re not getting back. But go chew bubble gum! Blow a bubble as big as you can just to take up more space in the world. You deserve it.
Wait, I’m on the sidewalk now. Where are you going? Are you taking my advice? Yes!! I got through! You’re taking my — don’t you dare go to that ASPCA stand!! Put that petition down. Put that down! Don’t you get it? You’re your own stray dog, Elizabeth, and you need to find your own home! In your heart! Put that silver dollar back in your faux-Indian wallet! What are you doing? No! Bad! Come back here. Heel!! Heel, Elizabeth! HEEL!!!!
Erection at the Disco
I wrote this about four years ago.
At the time I was in this Sex & the City-ish groove posting about relationships. I think because a) I loved and still do love that show and b) I’m still fascinated and confounded by how many things have to go right to make a relationship even begin.
Anyway, this one is one of the more fun ones I wrote back then about erection dancing.
~~~ (written Sept. 10, 2007)
When I was in seventh grade a really good friend of mine threw a birthday party at her home. For the purposes of this exercise we shall call this friend of mine Rachel. So Rachel’s birthday party consisted of two typically seventh grade segments – pizza and cake provided by Rachel’s parents followed by a non-chaperoned dance party in the basement. Rachel had a solid set of friends, so there were about twelve girls and twelve guys partying in the den – I think we call that a normal distribution in statistics.
Everyone at the party was pretty cool with one another so we were dancing to all kinds of music – rock, rap, ska, rhythm and blues, etc. I’m not sure if you all remember what was popular in music about ten years ago, but in case you don’t I’m pretty sure this is the time when Usher was really taking over the R&B scene. His most popular song at that point in time was Nice & Slow.
As a seventh grader taking it “nice and slow” might as well have been about doing an algebra problem for all I knew. Regardless, given my novice knowledge of sexual innuendo, I still seemed to understand the point of Usher’s crooning. Even the most naïve of seventh graders has a carnal intuitiveness that establishes at the very least a subconscious awareness of sexuality.
There must have been something about the pulsating guitar and the hi-hat…I had….to….dance! So when Usher’s song surrounded the walls of Rachel’s unfinished basement, I didn’t know exactly why, but I knew that it would be in my best interests to find a pretty girl and dance with her. For me, seventh grade was also conveniently the time when I along with my classmates was introduced to the art of bumping and grinding. With all of these outstanding variables in conjunction with the fact that I had always had a little thing for this girl Nicky (that’s not her name), I decided to mosey over her way, all 5’7”, 95 pounds of me, and take it “nice and slow” from behind.
Bumping and grinding…bumping and grinding…it’s seven o’clock on the dot…bumping and grinding…I’m in my drop top…bumping and grinding…cruising the streets…bumping and grinding…I just want to take it nice and sloooow….bumping and grinding…I’ve been waiting for this for so looooong…bumping and grinding….making love until the sun comes up…bumping and grinding…they call me U-S-H-E-R…bumping and grinding…bumping and……………WAIT! All of a sudden the carnal intuitiveness stored conveniently in my subconscious became more of a clear and present danger. Ladies and gentlemen, I had an erection at the disco.
Now I know you must be thinking that I’m really bold to be posting this, but honestly seventh graders can get aroused by the sight of two oversized grapefruits positioned next to one another. Additionally, when I say that I had an erection at the disco it was more of a half chub, and upon realizing that blood was leaving my brain to go south of the border as if the laws of inertia applied to circulatory flow, I excused myself from Nicky’s backside, residing peacefully at the dip and chip table…thinking about my mom, church, world hunger, poverty…anything to take my mind off of the sexually charged madness. I was simply confused and angry. I was confused that Nicky had the powers of a snake charmer. At the time I wasn’t aware that Nicky and other females controlled such mystic forces. I was angry at Usher for providing the hypnotizing flute music for Nicky’s snake charming ways.
All of these years later I’m led to think about my experience with Nicky at Rachel’s party because erections at the disco are not like Trix cereal – they’re not just for kids. Ladies and gentlemen, erections at the disco occur countless times every second. At this very moment there are probably millions of erections at the disco terrorizing the butt cheeks of America’s…no…the WORLD’s women.
Now here is my take on the issue. Erections are like bar mitzvahs, birthdays, death, taxes, and sh*t – they happen. And given the disco landscape as it stands currently it is surprising that there are not more erections at the disco. What I mean is, I feel like a lot of times girls and guys dance so hard, they put their backs into it so ferociously, and end up simulating sex so vividly, that it’s a wonder that more children haven’t been conceived at parties, clubs, and lounges.
And I am by no means saying that I am an avid and frequent erection at the disco go-er. In fact, I usually head out on the town and stick with female friends, and the dynamics of dancing in this paradigm place a perspective on dance floor interaction that curbs any potential sexual energy. However, as a man if I am dancing with a random girl and she is bending over grabbing around my region of doom like Jenna Jameson while I’m positioned karma sutra style in a dark corner while a beat plays – there is a 50-50 chance for ED (erection@disco…it’s now a dual meaning medical term). To wrap up this topic I’ll state this plainly - if it is likely to get a man aroused in the bedroom, there is a statistically significant probability that it will get a man aroused on the dance floor. So, to fully establish this point let’s examine the following if/then statements….yay geometry:
- If a man’s junk is grabbed and rubbed between two hands like it’s a branch for starting a fire and this causes arousal in the bedroom…
- Then a man’s junk rubbed between two hands like it’s a branch for starting a fire on the dance floor is likely to cause arousal as well
- If hands are run up a man’s shirt followed by a swift movement down into the sans underwear territory and this causes arousal in the bedroom
- Then hands run up a man’s shirt followed by a swift movement down into the sans underwear territory on the dance floor is also likely to cause arousal.
Anyhow, I’m fascinated by the concept of the erection at the disco. I was on the train today thinking of two friends that I talked with about this very topic several months ago, and it seems like one of the most taboo conversational territories of all time. This must also mean that I’ve got some balls, or rather hard cock, to bring this into the light. All I know is that a few weeks ago a friend of mine ended up dancing with a fellow who had the boldness to say “look at how hard you’ve made me!” He then proceeded to gesture towards his unimpressive bulge (unimpressive according to my friend)…ahhh New York.
Anyhow, I would like to now open the floor to address this loaded issue…too far???
~p to the…
Look, I’m always a sucker for a designer that pairs with a lower budget store and does a collection. You should’ve seen me at the Lanvin/H&M collection. I would tell you about it but I plead the fifth in case there are any pending claims. But it was insane and I was a maniac and I got a lot of great stuff. However, this number from the upcoming H&M/Versace joint venture feels like a test:
It’s part apron, part tween-themed wrapping paper, part Play Doh Fun Factory spaghetti. And it will cost $199 and H&M wants me to buy it. But I can’t. I won’t. Please, God, give me the strength…
Everybody Cut, Everybody Cut! (clap, clap...)
I saw the new Footloose yesterday. I was apprehensive. Not apprehensive that it would suck. I knew that no matter what happened I’d love it because a) I am stubborn and had already decided I loved it and b) if there’s dancing, I will come. I mean that in a quasi-Field-of-Dreams-quasi-not way. No, I was apprehensive in the way that any young girl would be if, for instance, she grew up with this grandmother and she loved the grandmother very much and didn’t think her grandmother could be improved upon and then one day her mom was like “Oh, they’re re-making grandma, just FYI.”
You’re naturally going to be nervous to meet the grandma remake. Will she be as cute as old grandma? Will her back-story be as compelling? Will her cookies be as good? You feel slightly guilty for even considering loving this new grandma, but you are too curious to not find out what she’s all about.
Here are my thoughts on the new Footloose (i.e., Grandma 2.0). It was thoroughly entertaining. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there were some major moments where I thought “This might not get nominated for an Oscar.” Andy MacDowell plays the quiet preacher’s wife and in order to get into that role she seems to have done did Method acting as a young actress who has never had a role before. Dennis Quaid seems to have punched himself in the face a lot with a Pez dispenser in order to leave tiny pock marks and a misshapen nose and chin before getting on camera. A few friends thought Julianne Hough looked too old. I disagreed because agreeing with this statement would have made me take a hard look at my own skin-care habits.
But Kenny Wormald, the new Ren McCormack, was a treat. He has one of those mouths that you just want to touch a lot and see how firm/pliable it is and a really cute smile. Unfortunately he used that mouth to emit a Boston accent that made us all think he was an Australian immigrant at times.
Most disappointingly, there was not enough dancing. I generally in these types of movies need to have a 5:1 ratio of amount-of-time-spent-dancing-on-screen to amount-of-time-I-will-subsequently-spend-dancing-in-my-room-pretending-to-be-one-of-the-characters. This was closer to 2:1. The other mistake was that during the big kiss the camera was mostly focused on J.Hough’s mouth. Not Ren’s. I have already made myself clear about my feelings towards Ren’s mouth and I don’t think I need to go further into detail about that here. I will just say that I would rest my tired head on those pillow lips any day. Face down. Eh hem.
Those items aside, the movie was very enjoyable. Was it better than the original? VERDICT: They’re tied. And that works out because it means both grandma’s can stick around and make me cookies that I can send to Kenny Wormald’s house with mini webcams in them that will videotape his eating said cookies.
BEING THE BEST IN 6 SIMPLE STEPS
Or “A Guide To Achieving Greatness”
Are you tired of being second rate? Do you often think, “I am better than most people I know?” If so, there is a program out there just for you. In six, count ‘em, SIX easy steps you can go from being “ordinary” to finding that little something extra which will make you “extraordinary.” Now you might be thinking, Matt, how do I do this? How do I become a genius? Well, follow these six easy-to-use steps and you will be well on your way.
1) Find out what you want to be great at (i.e. a sport, hobby, artistic endeavor, type of entrepreneurial business, making an animal call, etc). It might help to ask your friends “What am I great at and/or could you see me potentially being great at?” Compile a list. Talk to to strangers. A lot of times snap judgements are the best indicators of people as a whole, so have baristas and waiters give it a go. They might just be right about you. Once your list is complete, peruse it. Pick one thing. This is what you will be great at.
2) Study others who have done what you are trying to do and are considered “great.” Only look at the best. If you want to be great at basketball study Michael Jordan (sorry Chris Mullin). If you want to be a great painter study Picasso (sorry not Picassos). After careful study, find ways that you are BETTER than these people. It might be a hairstyle, it might be an attitude, but I bet you can find at least one way you are better than the greats of your “thing.” Even if (using His Airness as an example) it’s the simple fact that you don’t gamble and are not old, there has to be something. Make a list of all these things that you excel at and the greatest do not. Laminate that list. Carry it in your wallet or coin purse.
3) Think often about how great you are. Talk about it often. To anyone. Baristas and waiters are good substitutes if you have little to no friends. Brag. You’ve earned it! After all you are going to be great! If no one wants to listen to you can use that to complain about how “others just don’t get it.” IT being your phenomenal wealth of talent. Develop a healthy-sized chip on your shoulder. Remember that a lot of times those who have been unappreciated have used that as fuel to motivate them to great things (see: Rudy from the movie Rudy and Radio from the movie Radio).
4) Sit and wait for your big break. It helps to have a comfortable chair. Remember, all you need is ONE person to see your greatness. You don’t need to cultivate your skills. You’ve got IT already! That one special thing. So just kick back, relax, and wait for your opportunity. Indulge your fantasies. It only takes one person to make a wish come true and who knows when you will bump into Ron Howard at a Starbuck’s or Fridays.
5) Get big break.*
6) Live the dream.You have followed this six, count ‘em SIX easy steps you have achieved your dreams. Now you can just get eccentric and morbidly obese.
Just remember: it’s not what you do, it’s how you think about yourself that leads to great things. It will take some time. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But I sure as heck can bet you the plan for it was THOUGHT UP in a day. Take it from me, I am not just the founder of “Being the Best in 6 Simple Steps,” I am also a client. And I just wrote an Internet blog post!
* If big break doesn’t happen, quickly start the process over with another sport, hobby, artistic endeavor, type of entrepreneurial business, or animal call. Strike while the iron is hot. It’s not quality it’s quantity. Look to pop culture or trends and jump on that. No one wants to hang on to something too long and risk being an unappreciated genius (the worst type of genius).
How To Make A Platinum Country Album
Country music is on the rise, and you could be the next big country music star! Just follow these ten simple guidelines, and your album is a guaranteed to go platinum!
1. The “I Love My Home Town” Song. You need a song where a man is praising his small-town southern roots. In fact, feel free to name it “Small-Town Southern Roots.” Everyone else has. The beauty is that anything can seem nostalgic if you sing it in a deep southern accent. The dirt road, definitely. Pick-up trucks, oh yes. The unemployment line? Sure – built in fan base. Imagine that deep southern voice singing “crusty old porta-potties.” Didn’t that sound nice? Great, put it in your song. Bonus points if this song talks about “Carolina,” but never specify North or South.
2. The Freedom Drive Song. This is the song about a girl who drives away from her home town with a picture of her mother in her pocket/on her dashboard. The only thing standing between her and happiness is a nice drive. Her mama understands this because she was once young too and she too left her home town in a convertible. Don’t get into the fact that the mother is essentially a failure because she escaped to a town her daughter wants to escape from, so aren’t they just seeking change for the sake of change? Just shush your little head about that and sing about driving towards freedom! And mention the gas tank. Everyone appreciates a gas tank.
3. The Drinkin’ Song. You need a song about drinking. And every other song should talk about it too.
4. The Switcheroo Song. This is a thinker. It’s a song about a word or phrase that starts off with a negative connotation and then, over the course of the song, takes on a positive meaning. This song makes the listeners feel like smart ‘cause they get it. An example of this is George Strait’s “She Let Herself Go.” At first you think the just-divorced lady is noshing on Twinkies and getting fat, but really she’s living for the first time and “letting herself go” to the beach. Isn’t that nice? Also check out Bucky Covington’s “I’ll Walk” if you have a strong stomach. See what you can do with a song title like “Drunk Again” or “Shoot Me.” Any song can be a song of redemption if you try hard enough.
5. The Church Song. I should’ve mentioned: you need to be Christian to sing country. Because you need a song about a guy in church on Sunday. This is the song that puts the “good” in “good ol’ boy.” This is the song in which you remind your listeners that despite the mildly racist and close-minded lyrics you’ve been peddling, you’re really just God’s child. In the music video (which you will have) have the singer pat people of different races and ages on the shoulder in a church in slow motion. See what a good guy he is?
6. The Patriotic Song. You must have a song about America. The lyrics don’t have to make sense. You don’t even have to use real words. You can just use circus sounds for all I care. Just as long as it’s called America or some derivation thereof (American Boy, I Love America, American Cheese). It will be an instant hit and will be played at baseball stadiums.
7. The “I Love You Just Like You Are” Song. You need a song where a man praises his woman for being just like the women who are probably listening to the song. Under the guise of “appreciating the little things,” your goal in this song is to make the women-listeners feel like they are already an ideal woman. This one’s for the ladies in the minivans, anxious for soccer practice to end because they’ve got groceries in the trunk. This one’s for the ladies that don’t have time to buy a new bra and besides this one feels more comfortable now that it’s stretched out. You see where I’m going.
8. The Reverse Abuse Song. This is the song where a woman plots revenge on her no-good-cheating-husband. Now, a very important point of distinction: in country songs, unlike country life, abuse only goes one way. This has to be a lady singing this song. Because it’s not a real threat when ladies want to be dangerous or stand up for themselves. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try, am I right girls!? Now quit dreamin’ and get back to making supper. Get!
9. The Song About the Past. I don’t care if the past means yesterday, your childhood, the “war” (best left undefined so more veterans can claim it as their own) or when the dinosaurs roamed (so long as they walk next to Jesus). You must love the past more than you love the present. And if you ever dream about the future, well, that’s called ambition, and there’s no room for that in country music. Go write musical theater. Country music fans are a bunch of backwards people looking backwards. Oh, that is a good title for #4. “Backwards.”
10. Other Tips. When you write your lyrics, remember: blue eyes are better than brown. Blonde hair is better than brown. Other countries are bad. Tattoos are fine if it’s a cross that takes up your whole back.
Now, kick your feet up on the dash, say goodbye to the corner store, take a shot of whiskey, thank Jesus, thank America, kick your husband to the curb, remember the good ole times, love yourself for who you are and get to writin’ a song about life before life writes a song about you.
Sleep No More And What It Does To You
I saw Sleep No More last night. No, I participated in Sleep No More last night. No, I had a life altering artistic experience last night. For those of you who are not familiar with this “play,” it’s an interactive three hour experience where the play-goers don masks and explore five (I think – I lost track at some point) floors of a hotel. You are encouraged to touch, explore, find, question, do. You may follow characters who weave in and out of the rooms as they silently tell narratives of pain, struggle, lust and sorrow. The choreography is phenomenal and the costumes and set decorations are unbelievable.
But the best thing that can happen to you in Sleep No More is to forget that it’s a production at all. The best thing that can happen to you in Sleep No More is that you surprise yourself.
Being asked to wear a mask and be silent was essential in this process. Putting on the mask is a tacit agreement to shed your identity and fully give in to being a part of the world you are about to enter. You are no longer armed with your ability for sarcastic wit and facial expressions. You are stripped of the cheap ability to minimize or deflate experiences by drawing yourself out of the moment with a joke.
This anonymity temporarily quiets your self-judgment and halts your ability for self-editing. I found myself unabashedly opening closed doors, allowing myself to be led by characters, and watching simultaneously disturbing and alluring scenes without shame. It was a world where everything mattered – even if you never knew why or how it connected to anything else, it all felt so important, and my attention to it had a sense of urgency.
At the end of the show, I guess you could wanly call it, a beautiful woman led me by the hand, smiling at me with a spark in her eyes I’m sure thousands of men have fallen in love with. I was entranced and I think I would have followed her anywhere. She took me to the bar where all the playgoers were gathering, led me to a corner, removed my mask and gave me a kiss on the cheek. As soon as she removed my mask I was shamefully aware of the fact that my hands were on a stranger’s shoulders. I had been delivered back to the real world with all of its dirt and judgment and boundaries. And yet she got to stay.
When I left, I felt unsettled. I had the feeling of waking up from a vivid dream where you had things to do and say in the dream but you woke up too fast to do or say them. And despite waking up and knowing that it didn’t matter because it was only a dream, part of you remains loyal to that world and wants to finish what you started.
On one hand, I left with a lingering feeling of empowerment. I was willing to do anything, explore anything, try anything. I even took a flyer from a guy on the street because my curiosity was still peaked and I had a lingering feeling of hope that this too would lead to something great. It was just for two-for-one drinks at a club.
And too, I felt loss. I knew that my invigorated curiosity wouldn’t last. I knew that I would again settle into my rote daily routine of ignoring, dismissing, belittling the things I encountered. I would soon fall back into my pattern of making reasonable decisions based on what I had to do the next day, I would walk around preoccupied with my to-do list rather than looking at what was around me. And yet, what was the world but a giant Sleep No More with opportunities for excitement, adventure, love, and passion? Was I wasting my $100 ticket every day?
Maybe this feeling of boundless potential is what people experience when they do drugs. I don’t know because I’m too scared and self-editing to do them. Ironic, I know.
Loving Your Job
OR HOW A JOB IS LIKE A RELATIONSHIP & A RELATIONSHIP LIKE A JOB
Today at a lunch my boss said that “your first month of working is like the beginning of a romantic relationship.” That, as you grow within the company, your path is akin to that of two people falling in love. As you figure each other out you grow and learn and affect one another until reaching a comfortable symbiosis of existence. This is not the first time I have heard this. In fact one manager of a fancy club-type place I applied to in my early 20s once explained to me how starting a new position was like dating, in such great detail, that I turned down the position immediately after and ran away. I was worried he was going to rub my shoulders and run a rose across my cheek while dimming the lights and playing some KC & Jojol.
Upon further contemplation it’s apparent that a job IS a lot like a relationship (in fact it is a relationship, just to a company not a human being) regardless of what you do. And it does progress in stages, much like a human relationship does. It can be broken down in the following sections:
Your main goal is to feel belonging. After the countless months job searching you relax a little thinking “now I have this job I am complete and happy.” You are excited to have structure and go to work in the morning. However you are constantly worried about offending your partner and making mistakes in the office. These mistakes are inevitable and you learn by making them. You deny part of yourself to appease your partner. You may lie or embellish your past experiences to get ahead. But a part of you worries you will get fired or it will not work out. You worry you will say or do the wrong thing or that your employer might stop liking you. Regardless of the emotional paranoia, this is a period of discovery, bliss, fun, and exploration with many highs. Typically this lasts about three months (or until benefits kick in).
ADJUSTING TO REALITY
Finally you settle down. You know your job is not going anywhere and you aren’t either. This is when you discover truths about you position that you ignored in the romantic stage. For the first time you may notice ugly things about your job or traits you dislike. You may think “this is the job I picked?” Parts of your job might not be as attractive. But the things that initially attracted you to the position you are still attracted to. And now there is an added level of comfort you enjoy. You start doing things that you would not have done before because you are comfortable: you microwave fish for lunch, you say stupid jokes, you aren’t afraid to share your passion for stupid/nerdy things. Though you might stop viewing your job as “perfect,” you are happy to have it and feel blessed.
POWER STRUGGLE STAGE
As you gain more responsibilities in the workplace, more demands are made of you. You can no longer just spend a sizable portion of the day dinking around. You seek power and freedom and quietly rebel against the managerial structure. Differences between you and your company are magnified. Part of you starts to wonder what it would be like to work at other jobs. How would it feel and would it be better? You are jealous of your unemployed friends who could work anywhere they wanted. You test the power structure- leaving early and taking longer lunches. You complain about your job to your friends, who always say you are stupid and really lucky because it’s tough to find a job in the economy these days. You know you should be lucky and do feel lucky but a part of you wants to strip naked and frolic through a meadow free of all responsibilities as cavemen once did. You wonder if having one job is even practical. Was mankind meant to do work at just one place, or have a bunch of different jobs at once? If you are going to quit or be fired this is the stage that it typically happens.
You realize you will not reshape the job and are fine with that. You accept the job for what it is. The power struggle has beaten you down. This is a resting time. You go to work on time, stay, and are more or less fulfilled by what you do. You know what is good and you know what is bad and you have learned to deal with each accordingly. Though you have thoughts of other jobs, you realize you will not act on applying to them and are fully aware that you are lucky to be employed in the economy these days. You do genuinely like your job. It brings you happiness and you become more comfortable in the position as a result. You aren’t afraid to be honest with your employer and, for the first time, are genuinely yourself- bringing your own ideas and personality to the table. Also you don’t care as much about how you look and may wear wrinkled pants to the office.
You don’t need the job anymore, you choose to be with it. At this point you realize you are in it for the long haul. Over time your job has done so much for you and you deeply appreciate that. You enjoy the routines of the day, they are comforting to you. You have learned all the good and bad things of where you work and enjoy them all. You appreciate your jobs flaws because they highlight its positive traits. You know that you also have flaws and your job sees those too. You give credit to your job for making you a better person. If you are considering advancing your career within the company or taking a promotion, this is when it typically happens.
A person and a job working as one. The job doesn’t start somewhere and neither do you, you instead bleed together. You identify with what you do and know that it’s a special thing. Your co-workers call you “Bob the Account” or “Cheryl the Graphic Designer” since you and your role are identified as one in the same. This type of partnership, between person and position, will continue until you retire and your job no longer exists. At that time you will look back on your journey and remember the good times, the bad times, the ups, and the downs. To some nothing will ever match this job and they will live the rest of their lives unemployed. To others they will find a new line of work and start the whole process over. Either way, they are changed for going through it.
In summation, some people will have many jobs throughout their life. Some will have only one. But I am sincere when I say that jobs are what keep us going through the dark times. Everyone hopes to find that one special position we can grow old in. We all want just want to love… our work. After all John Lennon said “all you need is love.” And it took him like sixty hours to get that song written and recorded. That’s a job well done.
*** This essay brought to you by capitalism.
J.Crew and Upward Mobility
I love J.Crew. I really do. I have loved J.Crew since they were selling bouclé sweaters and piqué sundresses and their label had a silhouette of a guy holding a set of oars. You know what I’m talking about. I’ve loved J.Crew since you had to call them on the phone and order from a catalog. And I continue to turn to them for many of my wardrobe needs. But recently, J.Crew has taken a wrong turn. They are now selling jeans from The Jean Shop that cost $320. This isn’t going to fly and I’ll tell you why.
When I shop at J.Crew, I expect reasonable-ish prices. Why do I expect reasonable-ish prices? Because I’m shopping for the girl that I currently am. You can tell because I’m buying things made out of “slub cotton.” Anything with the word “slub” in it is not purchased as part of a lofty life plan. It’s purchased in a state of honesty. “Slub” is an onomatopoetic fabric for my current sense of self.
However, I absolutely will spend $320 on one item. I’ve spent that much on a haircut. I know, I’m an asshole. You see, the mid-three’s is the type of money I am willing to spend when I’m buying for the girl I want to be. Put me in Creatures of Comfort or an Isabel Marant store, and suddenly $320 is a small price to pay to become one of those impossibly cool and mildly androgynous girls that wake up in the morning already successful because they’ve woken up as themselves. I’ll spend $320 on one item to be one of those girls. Shit, for that reward, I’ll go whole hog and spend $640 so that I can buy both shoes.
I don’t mean to disparage J.Crew. I’m a loyal member of the J.Crew Slub Club. It’s seen me through the era of braces and really bad acne and that time when I thought it would be a good idea to have bangs and part my hair in the middle and wear a guitar pick as a necklace despite having never touched a guitar. You can’t turn your back on a club like that. But I refuse to spend more than $89.50 in membership fees.
P.S. - Before you go getting all upset about the fact that I think you can buy happiness and how dumb and materialistic it is to think that your clothes are a reflection of who you are or can remake who you are, I have this to say in response: La la la la la I’m not listening! I like shopping. It’s self expression and it makes me happy.
Dear author of the Pisces horoscope on my favorite fashion website,
If you tell me one more time that it’s time to “go green” I am going to hunt for as much paper and plastic I can find in the whole of New York City and personally deliver it to a manatee breeding ground in the Atlantic. (Do we still care about manatees? If not, I’ll find something equally worthy of a sixth-grader’s adoption and kill that fucker with my paper/plastic collage.)
Your job is to write horoscopes. Perhaps you don’t know what that means. Let me help you. It means that you provide a safe little corner on the internet where I can go and let go of reality for a minute and believe that my ideal love life, career, and visceral desire to go to the gym are all right around the corner, just because I happened to be born in a particular one-twelfth of the year and you said it was so.
The best part of your job is that even when these things don’t happen, I still keep coming back. This is because the horoscope from the day prior is no longer available, and I reinterpret the parts I can remember to retroactively fit my previous day: “Entertaining a private guest in your quarters could be every bit as fun as shaking it on the dance floor”… Why yes, I did quite enjoy the quiet chat I had with the delivery man yesterday. Or: “Today begins the ascent towards a lofty personal goal.” And what did I do yesterday but resist the urge to eat string cheese like a hot dog and I took the time to peel it like a sophisticated person (who buys string cheese). It’s happening! It’s all happening!!
See how easy that is? But you have to give me something. An inspiring message about my doing my part for the environment isn’t going to cut it. I can tell you right now that if “going green” and “eating green” was the only thing I had to fix in my life, I wouldn’t be wallowing at your stupid site in the first place. Let me remind you. Your job is 99% bullshit, 1% HTML. And you have willing participants waiting for your bullshit! We require no proof, no details, not even a byline from the person writing the horoscope. We just want to smear your bullshit over our glasses in hopes of making them vaguely rose-tinted and ignore the fact that, in order for that to occur, we must have blood in our stool and that’s nothing to be brushed under the rug!! One does not need a PhD in microeconomics to understand that this business plan is a winner.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the environment. I want it to stay healthy and luscious and someone should undo all of the damage we’ve done to it. But we have government agencies and 501(c)(3)’s and celebrities like Stella McCartney worrying about that. But none of those people or organizations are worrying about whether I should spend my Tuesday getting back in touch with my childhood passions or chatting up that cutie at the bar. None of them. I’ve written letters asking them about this and no one has responded.
So, in the future, please spend your time doing what you do best: giving me positive reinforcement about my future, both imminent as well as long-term enough that I forget what you said but I’m nonetheless vaguely excited about October 17th. In the meantime, I have a Styrofoam dream board to make.
State of the Nation
*** Please note: This essay was written on August 10, 2011 ***
With nearly half of Americans believing our country is on the wrong track and that the worst is yet to come in regards to our economic crisis (1), we have to at least consider the possibility of a complete financial collapse. The U.S. could very easily be on the verge of falling away as a major super power and it’s people left to be stereotyped by dicky Europeans and Chinese patriots much like the Russians were by us (2). I consider myself a pessimistic optimist, in that I view the glass as have full but I am thirsty and want more than half a glass of god damn water. Thus I think it will likely all turn out for the best. But what happens if our society does crumble? What will that look like? Well here are some predictions that I would like to make about the day America is no longer the ultimate world power and our society has fallen to ruin (3).
I will start out by sptiballing some ideas about what the formerly great US of A would look like after its decline. I envision a desolate landscape: rolling fields and junk heaps, scorched batches of land, woodspersons (4). That all sounds about right. I also hope that our leader is Kevin Costner. I am of the generation (injected with early 90s entertainment) that still remembers what Kevin Costner means (5). And don’t think that the lame-duck status given to The Postman by reviewers covered up how hard Costner ruled that movie and how hard that movie ruled. That movie was great and in it Kevin Costner was THE GUY. I would follow him. You would follow him. The once great America would follow him. And I hope we would be lucky, damn lucky, to have a leader of his caliber. Second, I would hope there are hoards of nomadic barbarians that we, as a crumbled society, have to occasionally battle. Other than gathering nuts and berries and computer parts for our junk heap collections, what else would there be to do? We would need some sort of action in our lives, some sort of “bad guy” to fight. Think of any movie starring Kevin Costner from 1990-1997 (6). I think future society would be like that only with Internet, comedy, and accessible showers (7). I DO NOT want to have to drink my own pee like in Waterworld (8)but I would do it if Kevin Costner told me to. This all may seem like a vague description of how I envision the future. Don’t be alarmed. All you need to know is that any form of the conceivable future has something to do with Kevin Costner.
If any of these predictions come true, please just remember that you heard it at CARDIGAN first. I put the date at the top of this essay for that very reason. Perhaps, three hundred years into the future, I will be viewed as some twenty first century Nostradamus- boldly predicting the future of the world via some connection to the cosmos. There will be a man who resembles the Kevin Costner of lore (unless it’s THE Kevin Costner), also named Kevin Costner, and he will come to rule all. And I, Matt Dennie, will have predicted it. But what if Nostradamus was just some dude just writing quasi-ironic, hypothetical comedy blogs based on no fact whatsoever? Then millions of poor bastards wearing robes with half moons and stars on them would be duped. I don’t like duping, never been a fan. So I will just stop here to avoid an accidental dupe. But there is something to this article. I can feel it. It’s like a loop of infinity that you will never get out of. Call me crazy but I FEEL it.
What does the future hold? Who knows. I am going to just camp out in the moment I suppose. I mean here we are. HERE we are. Que sera sera. What can we do? Nothing. I mean you could buy a shotgun and start collecting encyclopedias so you could be the harbinger of knowledge in the Darkness. But who wants to be “that guy.” To be honest, we have thought America is going to melt down at any minute for a long time. We live in a very fatalistic society. We constantly worry about the future and cling to the present while cursing at the past. Why don’t we all just chill out a bit? We will all have significantly less wrinkles if we do and potentially shut down DOVE and Oil of Olay (thank God). So here is one final prophecy in regards to America’s future and how our economic crisis will go down:
SOON STUFF WILL HAPPEN AND YOU WILL BE AFFECTED BY SAID STUFF (9).
In the mean time, who wants to have a Kevin Costner party (10)?
1) Reuters, August 10, 2011
2) Except instead of being viewed as misplaced sects of cold potato farmers drinking vodka all day and not wanting to do anything due to their socialistic nature, we will be thought of as a collective of fat bastards drinking Budweiser, watching TV, and all treating each other equally while trying to trade tires for processed meats. Karma is a B.
3) Allegedly. Also, on a side note, I will be using footnotes in this piece as you may have noticed. Some would say, “Oh a writer in his twenties using footnotes. How ORIGINAL.” Am I blatantly using a device wielded much better by David Foster Wallace, as most liberal-leaning twenty something writers do? Of course. But I like it. And it’s all part of a bigger theme in this article as you will see later. I predict a footnote that will tie this all together into a circular loop of understanding. Please refer back to after footnote 3 in the article and read on.
4) Persons of the woods.
5) Could Kevin Costner do a British accent? No. Was he a larger than life, magnetic personality who drew you into his world? No. Was he the greatest actor and director of his generation? No. Ummm, moving on…
6) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000126/ (exclude Dances with Wolves, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, JFK, The Bodyguard, A Perfect World, Wyatt Earp, The War, Waterworld, and Tin Cup)
7) I would hope, and this is the optimist in me, that there would be TONS of showers. Everywhere. Just so the saying “showers for hours” could become a thing.
8) I would not ever want to have anything to do with Waterworld. Waterworld sucks.
9) Boom! Nostradamus, Matt Dennie-style.
10) This is the footnote that footnote 3 predicted (a prophecy in and of itself). Please re-read footnote 3.
A Word in Favor of the Bucket List
Written by Phil
As you read this, picture me in the center of a town hall type of setup during the revolutionary period with late 1700’s style clothing. I’m surrounded by angry government officials and townspeople that have been sipping hardily on the cool-aid of one Kassia Miller, who sits atop a mahogany chair with a podium in the center of the room. I am directly in front of her, about 10 paces away, delivering my final appeal to the town and residing government officials as to why I should not be extricated considering my views on bucket lists.
The first thing we did when starting CARDIGAN was to challenge one another – even if that means disagreeing to disagree at the end of the day. Ladies and gentlemen of the faux jury, this is one of those times, for I, Phillip Jackson, hereby declare that I am pro bucket list. So lower your pitch forks, let the hot tar cool, and for the moment close your feather-filled bags as I speak my last words before public shame and imminent doom. I wish for this post to be a provocative, poignant, passionate (and other p words) rebuttal to one Kassia Miller, whom in my heart of hearts I believe has violently libeled the institution of bucket-listening beyond recognition. I cannot…rather…I WILL NOT in good faith stand by as bucket-listing absorbs grueling assault and lay on the brink of death by the forceful literary backhand of KASSIA MILLER…her EVIL must be exposed…even it if it means I must forfeit membership from Cardigantown, a town I’ve grown proud to call home.
I shall take Lady Kassia’s accusations one at a time, for in order to construct a proper brick house of defense, one must lay those bricks one by one.
BRICK ONE: I’m fairly certain the idea of a bucket list far preceded the existence of the 2007 film starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, who are two phenomenal actors with undeniably girthy resumes. The fact that they were able to headline a film as senior citizens is something that should not be ignored. What should be ignored is a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Rotten Tomatoes is the TMZ of film rating. Entertaining? Yes. Reliable? Me thinks not so much. Upon further review, one should take note that on IMDB, the New York Times of film information and reviews, The Bucket List soars at an impressive 7.5/10 from a statistically significant sample size of roughly 70,000 persons.
BRICK TWO: Should it matter why one creates a bucket list? Is it so bad if a person creates a list of things they’d like to do and then shares the experience on common mediums like the Faced Book? And isn’t life about experiences to begin with? And what is experience if it is not to be shared? If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Sure, but isn’t it cooler if someone with ears is there? If someone is obnoxious about sharing what they’ve done on her bucket list, is that not a testimony to the failure of the person’s personality rather than the failure of the practice. Is having a list the issue? Who’s on third?
We make lists for work, and that helps us get things done. Why not make lists for life experiences if that works for you? In this day and age, people seem to prioritize work over everything – a bucket list seems like just the thing to make sure you don’t let life pass by without truly living. For some people having a bucket list might be what it takes. And what’s so wrong with wanting to skydive? Can we lump all persons that wish to skydive into a booty-cleaning category…are they all douches? And I talk a lot about improv comedy when I go home for Thanksgiving, and I might speak at length about ‘how to’s’ for supporting your scene partner – so what is so different between a sky-diving man with a bucket list and me? Don’t discriminate…congratulate. Am I douche, KASSIA? Do you think I clean butts? I surely don’t believe it so.
BRICK THREE: There seems to be a big difference between goals as you’ve described them and what a bucket list is actually about. Goals feel more like, I’d like to have job X, have family Y, and have this much money Z. There is something a little bit less academic, less by the book, when it comes to having a bucket list in my opinion. I don’t believe it to be about goals in the traditional, roll-up-your-sleeves, sense of the word. There is something inherently more personal, even selfish, about having a bucket list – it’s all about you and the things you’d like to indulge in before you flee the Earth. So it’s not a matter of accomplishments as much as experience –less Pursuit of Happyness and more Eat Pray Love. Getting a finance internship in San Francisco with the goal of a full-time job – goal. Getting divorced and then eating a lot, praying a lot, and making love a bunch in different parts of the world – bucket list. This argument could be slightly flawed as I have never seen Eat Pray Love, but from what I gather it supports the point.
So there you have it. Remove me from Cardigantown if you must. But I must support bucket-listing. It can be a beautiful thing. And it was a beautiful thing before Lady Kassia Miller grabbed it with her vicious and well manicured hands by the throat, refusing to ease her grip until she nearly choked the life from its rosy cheeks. My only hope is that I’ve managed to breathe some life back into the term, and that this resuscitation convinces you, the faux jury, to nurse it fully back to health…
Ah, I see that you’ve begun heating up your tar again. I also see the feather-bags have been re-opened. It’s ok. (MEL GIBSON VOICE) YOU MAY TAKE MY LIFE, BUT YOU’LL NEVER TAKE MY MORGAN FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEMAN-like sense of adventure. And as I now burn, here is my bucket list:
- Go skydiving
- Go see the pyramids in Egypt
- Have lunch with Anne Hathaway
- Go skydiving again
- Visit every state in the U.S.
- Backpack across Europe
- More skydiving
- Have a second lunch with Anne Hathaway
- Fly a plane, then go skydiving out of it
- Walk through Central Park with Anne Hathaway then ask her if she wants to be more than friends
Banning the Bucket List
If I had to make a bucket list, it would contain one item: removing the phrase “bucket list” from our lexicon. I find it highly obnoxious and extremely annoying.
First, it assumes a working knowledge of the 2007 film by the same name which was rated 40% on rotten tomatoes. I’m sorry. You don’t hear me talking about my ideal “night in Rodanthe,” do you? Okay, you might, but I don’t assume you’ll know what I’m talking about. Hint: it involves Palominos.
Second, it underscores the irritating “presentational” lifestyle we’ve all adopted. We have, as a society, started to assume that we are a sum of our life experiences that can be displayed on Facebook. And a bucket list, from what I’ve heard, is all about the shit we say we want to do because it sounds cool and the shit we brag about if we ever get to doing it. Par exemple: If you have a “bucket list,” I guarantee you that skydiving is on it. In fact, I have a feeling that when you go skydiving, you sign a release form indicating that you will use the phrase “Well, I can cross that off my bucket list” any time you describe the experience to someone and force your pictures (or, god forbid, video) upon them. But guess what: the
douche adventure-seeker that jumped out of that plane strapped to a stranger’s chest and genital area is the same douche adventure-seeker that got into the plane in the first place, who is also the same D.B. A.S. that ruined Thanksgiving dinner with a 20 minute how-to about keeping your face in one position while free falling. It’s perfect “bucket list” material: flashy and expensive, but ultimately devoid of any true meaning.
Which gets me to my third, final and most important point. The general un-bastardized concept of a “bucket list” isn’t new. And we already have a name for it. Goals. Remember those? They are those prickly little things that hurt you on the inside if you don’t fulfill them (unlike bucket list items – who’s dying if you don’t carve your name into the Great Wall?). Goals can’t always be captured on film, and even if they can be, it’s generally inappropriate for you to be making the yeah-dude-hang-ten hand gesture with your tongue out when you’ve achieved one.
Did you know that a quick Google search of “top bucket list ideas” begets 2,790,000 hits? How come we need to be Googling this? We should know what we want to do in life. And maybe those (gasp) goals aren’t things that you can “cross off” at all, but things that you will always be striving for. Like learning compassion or controlling your emotions in movie theaters.
I don’t care what your goals are, and I shouldn’t judge (see, i.e., “Palominos” above). But do yourself a favor and make most of them for the sake of bettering yourself and what you want to contribute to the world. And if all you can come up with is throwing yourself out of a plane, I feel bad for you. And if you can’t think of anything and have to Google it, I feel even worse for you, son.
Written by Matt
Several months ago my wife came home and said to me, “I have a new favorite animal! Guess what it is?”
I sat there slack jawed trying to register what exactly she was trying to express to me.
“Owls,” she replied, “Owls are my new favorite animal.”
“Are you serious?” I said, “How old are you?!? Eight?”
Though totally serious I/she/we laughed at the realization that NO adult (not involved in science as a career) has a “favorite animal.” Not usually at least and not with the same enthusiasm that one would have as a child. I mean, my response seemed to be an appropriate one, right? After all who has a favorite animal past the age of 12?
We all remember the strange girl or boy in our high school chemistry class who smelled of dusty corn flakes and stared out the window, goopy eyed, whilst intermittently throwing out occasional factoids on bears. She loved bears and she loved sharing that a grizzly bear can run in bursts of up to 30 m.p.h. (which is a fact that I don’t feel benefits me in any way except making me MORE scared of bears than I previously was- and trust me I was reasonably scared). She was passionate about bears not just as a means to an end but as the end itself. The girl would wear bear shirts and draw bears on her notebooks and write about bears in English papers. OK not every school had that girl, but some did. But the point is that the collective WE universally find it weird to like animals post-Middle School.
So where do our passions about such trivial things go? We can all remember thinking dolphins were pretty awesome. That’s pretty conclusive- that, as children, dolphins were awesome. I will be honest and lay it out there and say I would still like to ride a dolphin at some point in my life. I will own up to that. The first job I ever wanted to have was to be a whale trainer. When my Mom told me that I had to learn how to swim first, I told her that the whales did all the work and it was unnecessary for me to take swimming lessons. Now I could give a shit about whales OR dolphins (other than riding one as I previously stated). Our passions just seem to float into the ethers to evaporate with a thousand other childhood dreams, rising in to the clouds and dissipating into nothingness (also when I was a child I thought you could eat clouds which is unrelated to anything written here).
Thoreau had a deep appreciation of nature. He once said, “Nature is full of genius, full of divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.” So did Walt Whitman who stated “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains.” Ralph Wando Emerson said, “I love me some gophers. Those things are the bee’s knees. Speaking of bees, they are kick ass too.” All the great Transcendentalists loved birds and bushes and bark. That’s all those dudes talked about for the most part. If they saw a robin eating a worm it was a party. Granted they had WAY less to distract them and were perennial hermits, but they may have been on to something. Something we got as children but are less attune to now as adults.
When I reflect upon it, animals ARE awesome. Watch Planet Earth and it will remind you how epic and amazing and wonderful and tragic nature is. You can’t look at a video like this and not passionately root for one of the animals. Because what animals go through, on the most basic of levels, is what people go through every day. They are a mirror to ourselves. They just do life without blackberries and condos and UGGs (and the neurotic self awareness to cripple them from following their instincts). We, animals and us, all try to find stuff to eat and a partner and to stay out of the rain and to be generally content, but most importantly we all try to survive. I think looking at the animal kingdom really does open your eyes up to a bigger picture, some shared thing that all living organisms have on this planet:that we are all just trying to get by. Life can be so simple at its essence and we often forget that. I think we fundamentally grasp this as kids and let it slip away as we fall into the complexities of daily adult existence. That’s why we have favorite animals because, as kids, we feel 100% cool liking something just to like it. Maybe returning to appreciating nature and the animal kingdom as we once did will open our eyes to a new awareness to where humanity fits in this world. Maybe the bear girl was right (though I would still fight a bear with a spear if necessary). Maybe I needed to find a new animal to experience that?
So in honor of my wife’s decision to have owls as a favorite animal, I too have settled upon a new favorite: manatees. Don’t ask me why but I am a manatee guy now and can’t get enough of them. And it really does make me feel appreciative of some of mankind’s most basic of pursuits, those that all living beings share. And I value that. Plus they are just cool. I have watched a few specials on manatees (not dugongs- those things suck) and I even recently sponsored one through a Florida wildlife initiative where I give a few dollars a month to help feed and rehabilitate an individual after he was hit by a boat. I got a packet on my animal and his name is Hughbert. He is three years old and I get updates about him monthly. Once a month I open the mail and I can’t help but think, not just of myself, but of Hugh Manatee.
Grocery Store Check Out
written by Kassia
Last night I went into Trader Joe’s on a whim. I had arrived early to my friend’s apartment and I had a brie cheese craving, so I figured that with a quick jaunt into TJ’s, I could a) kill time, b) pick up some brie and c) present said brie as a hostess gift and proceed to eat half of it myself in the very near future. It was a no-brainer.
After I had chosen some brie (ignoring those two damning words “double cream” on the label) and located a box of crackers (surprisingly difficult in TJ’s), I went to check out. Little did I know that my checkout experience would be such a weekend highlight.
Emory, my checkout guy, started patient and slow, asking me if I had gone to the street fair that day. I said I hadn’t. Why not? Because I didn’t know about it. The real reason I didn’t know about it was that I don’t live on the UWS. However, through a series of nods, smiles and the way I got $9.98 out of my wallet, I’ve now led Emory to believe that a) I have a boyfriend, b) he is a recluse and hates street fairs, c) he sometimes lets me out of the house to do things that I like to do, and d) I would’ve gone to the street fair with Emory had I shopped yesterday and he had told me about it in time. What!? None of (a)-(d) was anywhere near close to true. I’ve hated street fairs ever since I stopped trusting myself around Kettle Corn.
The experience progressed to our going back and forth eight times about whether I was sure I wanted a paper bag over a plastic bag. There was definitely a subtext of something going on in that little tennis match re: packaging, but hell if I know what it was. The conversation ended with Emory asking me where I like to go out. My inability to come up with a cool club’s name was naturally attributed back to my non-existent boyfriend’s agoraphobia. This played nicely into Emory’s hand as he told me he was a club promoter, wrote his number on the back of my receipt (he’d get mine but for the boyfriend factor) and told me to text him if my female friends and I wanted to go out for free — leave the boyfriend at home where he’s most comfortable.
I left Trader Joe’s feeling flattered, amused and definitely still excited about the brie. Later in the evening, Emory’s number became victim to splashes of thai food take out (you can’t just live on brie). But the warmth he brought to my heart was still there. I give Emory credit for hitting on me slash trying to promote his one job while doing his other one. All of that takes guts. And that’s something that my fake boyfriend could use a little more of. Get out of the house already! Live a little!
The Booty of the World
Written by Phil
“There is so much booty in the world.” – Captain Jack Sparrow
When contemplating the depth of this quote I made up on behalf of a wildly popular and highly grossing fictitious character of cinema, my cogitations drifted quickly not towards the looting, swashbuckling, and tactile treasure chests that make up the best booty piles hidden in secret coves around the world but rather the beauty of the world. So this note is not about booty – it’s about beauty. Though I do find it fun to say the word booty. Do me a favor right now and say booty to yourself four times fast…and then say “rocking everywhere”…then you’ll see my side of things, and you might also feel a pang of nostalgia over Bubba Sparxxx’s 2005 urban smash, Miss New Booty. Two birds, one stone – one feathered friend that makes saying booty funny and another nostalgic yet musically inclined fowl…both KILLED in this rock of a paragraph. BOOM! Here we go…
There is so much beauty in the world. Let me add a layer of specificity – there are so many beautiful ladies in New York City, which is a part of the world. I am a resident of New York City. Therefore, through the authority of geometry and the transitive property we can thusly deduce that I am surrounded by many beautiful ladies as a member of the New York City population, as New York City is inherently a confirmed member of the world.
However, upon further reflection and deduction on my own cognitive and cosmic sensibilities (Aquarius what what), I have recently realized that I attract and am undeniably attracted to the wrong type of treasure. Booty , booty, booty, booty. And the nature of this false gold manifests itself in a few varying forms – all equally fruitless…so what’s a pirate supposed to do to get vitamin C when fruitless at sea with the pervasive threat of scurvy? I’m not sure, but let’s examine these forms of false hope. These wonderful sounds that steer boats directly into rocky dating precipices like those three half-bird/half-women “Sirens” in Greek mythology – unfortunately even if I killed two of them with the power of any one of these stone-like paragraphs, one would still find a way to sing sweet nothings and enter my life…boat…lifeboat…
Singing Siren #1 – ALREADY HAS DUDE. For some reason, I often find myself attracted to people that are already in relationships. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking about that song by The Smiths where it’s all about wanting what you can’t have and owning a double bed. Well that’s not it. I sleep in a full-bed not a double one. At the core I think it’s just that I’ll establish a good rapport with a person and become attracted only to realize that she is on love lockdown (word to Kanye). And after that I am kind of intrigued by her capacity to commit to a relationship and momentarily envisage that type of dynamic. But more often than not, I sail away from the rocky precipice before saying anything stupid and hurting myself on the chorally shore. You see, I said chorally there because of ocean choral and because we’re talking about singing Sirens…POW.
Singing Siren #2 – BUT YOU’RE LIKE MY BEST FRIEND. I have a lot of friends that are girls – that’s just the way it is. I can’t really be surprised by this. I like listening more than I like talking, I’m a huge fan of Sex & the City (not either of the movies though – that’s a whole other post), and I have a very non-threating sort of “I would never be interested in anything more then talking and hugging” type of face. What I’m saying is that I have a round face, and that’s what girls read from it. I have on more than one occasion over the ship-course of the past few years followed my lifeboat directly into the unruly edges of this Siren’s rocks. But, it usually ends up alright – and when I say alright, I don’t mean that I’ve turned friends into lovers, I rather mean that me attempting to heighten the tide has never been bad enough to end the friendship when this Siren says…“BUT YOU’RE LIKE MY BEST FRIEND”.
Singing Siren #3 – MS. ALPHA. The third of the singing Sirens is probably the most deceptive, dangerous, and most tempting for me personally….the ALPHA SIREN. On paper everything checks out. Is she single? Yup. Does she see me as a best friend? Nope – in her own words she’s “got enough friends”. Is she independent? Yup - July 4th is her favorite holiday. Is she smart? Yup – she watches the History Channel just because. And I’ve dated a few ALPHA SIRENS, and it’s been great. But when the relationship tide changes, it transforms…I’m talking big transformation…like a 15 foot Ford Mustang into a 40 foot tall robot…BOOM….BOOOM…..SPLASH….POW…Michael Bay type transformations. This is the type of false gold that is actually real gold that just gets washed away at sea after a single unpredicted storm. And the delivery of the news often feels like a business decision more than it does a breakup…“I’m just not logistically in a place right now to continue this course of action.” That is loosely paraphrased but not far off. But damn, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t attracted to this sweet Siren song.
So there is so much beauty in the world, but it’s just not all fit for me. And I think this moment of self-realization will be good for me moving forward; however, I don’t know how much this epiphany will change me. It’s hard to ignore the Sirens’ songs unless you choose to just cover your ears altogether – and I just don’t know that I’m ready to stop sailing, watching the sea from land while everyone else is raising their masts. I’ll find that beauty at some point. Real riches. The biggest booty for me. Booty booty booty booty – just need to avoid those Sirens and their rocks…since they are in fact rocking everywhere in this sea of New York City.