Archive for the ‘ Behavior ’ Category

The Cat

I was told once that I was like a stray cat.  The comparison goes that I could be coaxed up onto the porch occasionally and you could feed me and pet me and we’d generally get along, but eventually I’d wander off again.  I’d be back, but no one knew when.  My motivations for such were never clear, even to me.  Fear of attachment.  Fear of intimacy.  Or maybe I just didn’t care.

I was recognized as a Knight of the Society for Creative Anachronism recently.  Pretty amazing.  It came with something unexpected though – I am now called brother by what is essentially my group of heroes, but the woman who called me the stray cat basically broke up with me.  It echoed the sentiment that I am my own man now, and that I should act like it.

I had gotten used to tethers and attachments.  I still have them.  I am bound by blood to my son.  I am bound by oath to my King and Queen.  I am bound by oath to uphold the ideals that a knight once symbolized.  I display my oath by my belt and chain among the SCA folk and by the ink in my flesh at all times.  Whatever happens and wherever I am, those things will be true.

Maybe I was always destined to be a Knight Errant.  My trinity of ironclad responsibilities aside, I will tend to stray from the porch.  During my Vigil, I received words of great wisdom.  I consider it all of equal import, but the relevant one is this:  I was on a path and I walked it to its conclusion.  The path ends in the woods.  There is no going back, and what lies ahead depends entirely on me.  I am not sure I could ever see a path though.  I am starting to believe that I’ve always wandered the woods and that I would occasionally choose to walk next to people who do see paths.

OR – I could just be batshit crazy.  Either way, cutting some tethers and striking out into the woods again.

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First Move

It starts with Facebook.  Too many things do, these days.  The social network has insidious and far-reaching tendrils, and too often we forget the impact of what we share there. 
One of the more annoying (to me) trends is for people to post pictures that are really just written messages.  Big letters and irritating fonts do not improve the quality of the message.  An interesting question: do I need a thousand words to sum up a picture of twenty words? 
The one I’ve been thinking about goes something along the lines of, “Sometimes you have to push people away.  The ones who care will never let go.”  I may have the wording off a little, but I’m unwilling to search for this particular diaper filler. 
If it kind of sounds like I have a problem or three with this statement, then good.  I do.  Let me see if I can explain. 
We all know that I have a history of mental instability.  The first thing this means is that situational depression seriously kicks my ass.  So when bad stuff happens to me, I withdraw into my head.  I stop going out and I stop calling people.  It sure as Hell isn’t that I stop caring about people.  It falls more in line with me questioning my value to others.  On rare occasions, I genuinely do want to be alone for a bit,  but that isn’t me ceasing to care about other people either.  The other side of this coin is that maybe everything is okay and I’ve just been really damn busy.  At any rate, sometimes I go radio-silent.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that I haven’t talked to you for a few days.  Odds are, that’s happened at some point or another, so it’s not that big of a stretch.  Are you really the sort of person who links their sense of self-worth to how often the phone rings or how many signs of approval you get on the internet?  I’m not saying that we can’t be friends if you are, but life is easier when you can find some degree of internal happiness.  I will admit that I do get a little bit of pseudo-happiness when I hear from someone by phone or text, and posting things to social sites often seems like a desire for approval. 
My last problem is more of a chicken/egg situation.  Or maybe a creationism/science one.  I’ll let you decide your favorite metaphor because all the ones I really like are violent.  I see someone post the “see who cares” message.  All I can imagine is duets of people reading this and waiting for the other to call.  If all parties are playing what I’m seeing as victims, then all phones and inboxes remain inert.  I mean, someone has to be the first to move!  I feel like I need to post a “picture” explaining this.  Instead of waiting for someone else to show that they care, tell them you do! If it weren’t for the fact that this was written at 3 AM, I’d be sending you a message right now.

Intoxicating

Right now, I’m stuck on true stories.  There’s a picture on the internet that shows the evolution of species and each one has a thought balloon.  Every critter that came before humans is thinking “Eat, survive, reproduce.”  Man is the only one that stops to wonder what it all means.  Unfortunately, that’s where I am at the moment.  Once I let go of reality again, I’m sure I’ll get back to being creative.  For now though, I hope you like hearing about the bar…

I present two stories that are really a thousand stories that are all really just one story.  That makes perfect sense to me, but there is a history of insanity in my family.  Anyway.  Last night, a guy I met a few dozen times came in with his cousin and his girlfriend.  They were celebrating the cousin’s birthday.  Cool.  Last Call rolls around, and they invite me to have a drink with them after I finish my clean-up.  Double cool.

I blaze through my closing stuff and head over to the apartment.  They are doing shots of wine.  You read that right.  I am confused but flexible.  I join them.  The cousin takes a shine to me.  She offers me a cigarette.  I decline but offer to join her on the balcony.  We stand there in the cold, and she smokes.  More shots of wine.  She offers me a cigarette again.  I still don’t smoke.  She hands me a cigarette anyway.  My thought: if movies have taught me anything, she wants me to light it for her.  I do so, and attempt to hand her the lit cigarette.  She has an unlit one in her mouth.  I sigh.  I put mine out.  I switch to water.  I don’t even want to catch a buzz.  She gets trashed.  I put the wine away and try to get her to drink water as well.  The conversation goes in circles.  No, I still don’t smoke.  No, we’re done drinking wine.  Yeah, I understand that you think no one “gets you.”

She calls for a ride, then heads outside at 5AM.  The guy I’m sort of friends with asks that I keep her out of trouble.  I follow.  We sit outside while the sun creeps over the horizon.  I watch people walk dogs in coats and pajama bottoms.  She offers me more cigarettes.  She asks if I need a ride too.  She asks if I live in the building we’re sitting in front of.  She keeps knocking my helmet off of my lap and onto the sidewalk.  She wonders why I won’t let her touch my phone.  Her ride finally comes.  Sweet relief.  I gear up and rocket off into the early morning mist.

Rewind about four days.

A friend of mine is calling, asking if we can hang out after work.  Cool.  Except I have concerns about whether she’ll be sober enough to be a passenger on my bike.  She assures me that she is stone-sober.  Double cool.  I politely decline an offer to hang out with some co-workers.  I blaze through my closing stuff and head to the house she’s at.  She’s been hanging with her friends.  They’re nice guys.  She introduces us.  She grabs her stuff and we head for the door.  I mount my bike and get it started.  I hold it while she climbs on the back.  I tell her to put her feet on the pegs.  She tries to wrap them around my waist.  She succeeds only in pinning my legs.  Yeah, that TOTALLY won’t get us killed…  I tell her to hop off.  She falls off.  Guess it’s a good thing she was wearing my helmet.  I turn my bike off and help her up.  “Let’s go,” she says.  Uh, no.  We go back inside.  I take my helmet off of her.  She introduces me to her friends.  Twelve more times.  Minimum.  She slaps me in the face.  The conversation goes in circles.  We can’t go because you’re too drunk to ride.  No, I’m not staying here.  Actually, I’m not drunk in the slightest.  We are NOT fucking in the other room.  I don’t take advantage of drunk girls.  I gear up to leave.  She tries to come with.  No chance.  I rocket off into the early morning mist.

Like I said before, two stories that are one story that is a thousand.

Perfect Drug

“Justin, why haven’t you been writing?” I’m standing in Jenna and Aaron’s living room, and we’ve been talking about cocks for at least an hour. I get that way – the later at night, the more foul my language and thought. Not that it was ever particularly clean or wholesome. Anyway. I could give them no good reasons.
“I don’t know,” I say. “I’ve just been busy with work and booze and girls.” I feel like an asshole for saying it, and I will feel like an asshole all over again for writing it. The visit wraps up shortly after that. I make things painfully awkward one more time and Nick drops me off at home.
Now, it’s story time. I’m picking a true story, because it’s one to which I already know the words.
I was recently promoted to a bar-backing position at work. The details of my new schedule were still in the process of being hammered out. I got a call from the bar manager; he wanted me to come in last Wednesday to work from open to close. Even if I had wanted to decline, I wouldn’t have. I felt that I should show that I appreciated my new position. So, Wednesday morning (that’s 1PM for me), I started getting ready for work. As I emerged from the shower, I saw that I had a text from my kindred spirit. “I’m going to be in Denver in a little over an hour.” Damn it. This girl and I share a love of violence and Rockstar and a few other things. She’s generally an awesome chick. The problem is that my car is a heap of shit and she lives 70 miles south of me. So when she comes to town, I try to be free. It wasn’t going to happen this time.
I sent her a message. “You should swing by the [bar]. I’m on in 10 minutes.” Yeah, I’m aware that you could probably figure out which bar I work at, but I’m going to make you do the work. I fought my way through the snarl of traffic, and ran straight to work. I didn’t have time to stop for my customary Rockstar, but I’d have to survive. The boss got me going working on the opening checklist and everything that wasn’t part of my job was forgotten. I filled wells with ice. I stocked coolers. I made a list of bottles for the shelves, and was on my knees in the liquor closet when she came around the corner. You know that moment when you see someone, but you aren’t looking at the mental image that you have created around them? It was one of those. I was just getting to my feet, looking into her brown eyes like I’d never seen her before. She smiled, and it hit me like a lightning bolt. I recognized her again. I like to think I didn’t stagger to my feet or do any of the other clumsy things I’m liable to do when put in such positions, but I couldn’t tell you for certain. The next thing I could clearly remember was hugging her tight, exchanging hellos and good-to-see-yous.
I confessed that I hadn’t picked up my supply of Rockstar for the day, and she promptly disappeared. She was back maybe ten minutes later with the soon-to-be-extinct green one. My favorite. Talk about knowing the way to my heart! She sat down at the bar and ordered food while I kept working on cleaning the cooler. The bar manager walked by, and I asked him to put her on my tab. “Yeah, I figured. I put her in as ‘Justin’s Girl.’” I had forgotten that he’d already met her before. I laughed, and told her what the boss had told me. She got a good laugh out of it too.
We got to talk despite my being occupied with work duties, but time flies when you’re having fun. She had to leave to meet her brother. We hugged our goodbyes. I don’t know what made that hug special, but it was. We held each other, close and tightly, for a sweet moment. Then she was gone and I was busy working again. Maybe an hour went by before I was stocking the coolers again, and I spotted the glimmering green of another dose of my perfect drug. She had bought two. Talk about warming my frozen little heart.

Muse

I am currently getting smashed.

No, wait.

I am getting hammered.

Yeah, there is a difference.  Let me explain.

“Smashed” is used as slang by a co-worker of mine in a novel, yet crass, way.  An example: “Yeah, I smashed that chick.”  A definition:  Smash – verb – to fuck.

He’s an interesting guy.  I like him.  He has definitely altered my speech though.  I no longer get smashed.

Back to my point.  I am getting hammered.  A few days ago, I made this resolution to renew my efforts to write.  As some may know, I have what is essentially half a book written.  I did all this and then went crazy.  I have been fighting ever since to get back to a healthy mental state so that Asher’s story may continue.  The problem has mostly been a lack of a muse.

It’s a terrible weakness to give something or someone outside oneself the power to inspire.  Once upon a time, I was a college student.  I had a talent for writing, and I have always had a love of beer.  So it was that I would sit down to write a research paper and crack open a Killian’s Irish Red.  No big deal, right?  Actually, it kind of was.  I could not write without one.  And then two.  And then three.  Basically, I would get a six-pack and kill it in the name of writing.  The scores on these papers were good.  Like, 99 of a possible 100 good.  The results spoke for themselves.  My ability to play Xbox would suffer on account of alcohol, but my ability to write would be honed like a laser.

I’m not stupid though.  I knew this was a bad direction to go.  I stopped writing as much, mostly because I was working very hard to stop drinking as much.  I cut the amount that I drank dramatically.  It was, by most accounts, a win.  Except, I wasn’t writing much.  Every once in a while, someone or something would inspire me, but it wasn’t like it used to be.  Ever hear of state dependent memory?  That’s what we had here.

Then, finally, I found a legitimate muse.  It was a person.  I loved this person.  She made me want to be so much more than I was.  She blew away all the shitty little things I ever worried about.  My mind was free to roam.  When my mind roamed, it would create the scenery.  All I had to do was describe it.  It went quite well, for a while.  Even when times were bad, I could write.  I like to pretend that I was pretty damn good at it.  As you might have guessed, it didn’t last.  When she left, my mind fell apart.  I could come up with things, but only in fits and starts.

So it is that we find ourselves at the birth of a new year, and I am trying every trick I know to drag a single word out of my brain.  I know it is weakness, but it would be worse to do nothing.  I am doing my best to write.  I will not burden anyone with the responsibility of inspiring me.  I will be responsible with my chemical inspiration.  If I lack real inspiration, I will not write and drive.

Twenty Twelve

Twenty Twelve

Anyone remember the resolutions they made last year?  Lord, I hope not.  I know my own track record is abysmal.  Remember that time I promised to work out every day?  Or how about the time I decided I would finally properly manage my budget?  Haha, good times.  The only things I’ve ever successfully made stick were my cessation of drinking pop and smoking marijuana.

This year’s resolution list is going to seem like a rerun, but I’m doing it anyway.  I am going to at least pretend  to have goals.

  1.  It’s time to start taking better care of myself.  Okay, the time to do that was back when I was 18, but I didn’t.  I’m going to do better.  I’ve already been to the dentist twice at the ass end of 2011, and my smile is one thing worth saving.  Additionally, literally EVERY other bouncer is magnitudes stronger than me.  I am not going to try to match them in strength, but I want to be stronger and faster than I am right now.
  2. It’s time to find my muse again.  I managed to write half a freaking book last year.  The only thing that could top that is to write the other half and finally take my shot at getting published.  I love writing, and it’s a travesty that I do as little of it as I do.  To my credit, I didn’t go back to trying to fuel my creativity with booze, but I do need to fuel it again.  People say I’m good.   I like to say that power not used is not power.
  3. It’s time to get a damned motorcycle.  I’ve always wanted one.  Every one of my friends knows I’ve always wanted one.  I’ll bet they are sick of hearing about it by now.  So I’m going to do it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a shitty one.  I will have a bike.

I have plans for some of this stuff.  I need plans for others.  I hate asking for help, but I think I’m going to need it and I am FUCKING SICK of failing.

Bulletproof

Some of the more scholarly types call it “Hyperreal.”  The term refers our perceptions completely obscuring the realness of something.  It’s akin to eating at Taco Bell and claiming to have had Mexican food for dinner.  Or something like that.  It happens with people too.  When you meet someone, your brain starts with whatever schema it can come up with to quickly categorize that person.  When anyone asks, you say you know them.  Ever meet someone you instantly disliked?  They probably did one thing or another that immediately reminded you of someone or something you already didn’t like.  At least, that’s how it works for me.

Near as I can tell, it works in reverse too.  We judge from the instant we come in contact, but we also try to project the ideal version of ourselves.  There’s a whole industry devoted to that sort of thing, after all.  We get up in the morning (or evening, in my case) and shower and style our hair and shave and don makeup as appropriate.  We get dressed in clothes that were presumably picked because they send the message we want to project.  Some put more thought into it than others.  Behaviorally, our projection requires less preparation.  Have you ever had someone do an impression of you?  Near as I can tell, the performer is just reenacting your public default actions and doing their best to echo your voice.

I know this whole post is kind of a mess, but stay with me.  Here’s where it gets personal.  No one has done an impression of me.  I’m a copycat, so my default actions have been drawn from the massive amounts of fiction I’ve consumed over the years.  If one were to quote me, one might be quoting the movie I watched last week.  It’s one of my many flaws.  It’s also part of the image I try to project.  I also try to seem like a good guy, even when I never feel like one inside.  I do my best to seem like I care, although I spend all my time feeling bad for not caring as much as I think I should.  I basically walk around holding a photoshopped picture of me between me and the world.  Or maybe I’m just constantly acting out a commercial for myself like I’m a product to be sold.  Either way, they are seeing the candy coating of attractive ideas in which I cover myself.

Yeah, I’m basically claiming that even people are hyperreal, and that since all I am is the ‘idea of Justin,’ V for Vendetta supports my claim that I’m bulletproof.

Or maybe I’m just screwier than the hardware department at Home Depot.