I had a dream last night that I was hanging at some sort of house/bbq/pool party somewhere and I’m in the kitchen talking to Martin Lawrence – yeah, THAT Martin Lawrence – and also, Ice Cube was hanging out with some other people in the kitchen as well. Because that’s the kind of parties I hang out at. In strolls Dr. Dre (see previous comment) and I bust out some line of rap that I can’t remember now but it basically described me being there with those guys in that situation and I managed to rhyme ‘nice’ with ‘Ice’ and ‘kids pool day’ with ‘Dre’ and I got a laugh out of them and everyone in the room. I turn back to Martin who’s laughing and I say, “Damn, man, as a white guy in this room who just dropped a line mentioning Cube and Dre in it AND got a laugh out of ‘em, that’s about as good as I’m ever going to get. I pretty much need to quit right now.” And he laughed harder at that. So that’s why I’m no longer in the rap game. You know, because people been askin’.
I didn’t look or listen for anything in particular, I just let the details of this particular moment in the neighborhood come to me: the quality of the air—heavy and warm, the incoming summer storm kind; birds; two couples having a conversation down the sidewalk; the clinking of dishes coming from inside the house to my right; distant hammering from a construction site somewhere in the blocks behind my house.David Cain, The Alternative to Thinking All the Time
I happened on this quite by chance recently.
My oldest daughter has a job at the local fried chicken joint now. I often have to go pick her up. Her shift ends at time ‘X’, but really she has stuff to do after so I’m never sure when she gets out exactly so I sit in the car in the parking lot and wait.
Usually it’s around 9pm on a moderately busy street corner of a semi-residential section of town with a riverside park across the street. These summer nights at dusk by the river, there’s all manner of stuff going on.
Initially, I’d surf instagram on my phone, read a book, sometimes try to meditate, but eventually I just got round to watching and listening. Doing exactly what he describes here. Immersing myself in that moment and the goings on at that exact time, tuning out all the other irrelevant noise – stuff that is either unimportant or I can’t do anything about at that time anyway – and often yes – I’m sort of startled out of it by her opening the truck door.
I always feel really refreshed, awake and present after.
So, often, when I come up with an idea for a post, it comes to me while driving or some other time when I can’t really sit at a computer and write it all down. Sometimes I say to hell with it and let it go, other times I will stop and use Voice Memos on my phone to record a bit of the ideas, or a full on Dennis Leary/Rick Mercer-esque rant that I then go back to later to try and make a post out of.
I would say 98% of the time, on the listen back, I realize the idea is either a.) stupid; or b.) I was completely full of shit. Another 1.5% of the time, I’ll take the rough idea and mold it into a post. The final .5% of the time I’ll just directly transcribe the audio to form the post, which is the case here. This is my way of saying, warning: if this post comes across as unhinged and rambling, that’s because it is. It’s a transcription of me, pacing the deck in my backyard, gesturing and babbling while my dog looks at me funny from time to time.
Why not just post the audio you say? Well, because that sounds even worse, and truth be told, I do edit the transcription a little to edit out some of the swearing and sputtering, else the swear words would probably outnumber the decent ones. I’ve left select ones in for emphasis.
So if meaningless screeds are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Fill yer boots.
So, I’m thinking about this as I go into the ‘corner store’, the convenience store, the ‘gas ‘n’ sip’, to get my Jones root beer – which has a picture of a cat in a toilet on it – and my Reeses’ Big Cup, which is a normal Reeses’ peanut butter cup that actually has Reeses’ Pieces shoved inside the Reeses’ peanut butter cup, you know, because just one peanut butter cup isn’t enough, you gotta have more candy inside a candy, and I’m getting this because, let’s be honest, I’m fucking addicted to junk food, and, um, I can’t even figure out where, or why it started or what happened or where my diet went to shit, now it’s just a constant daily struggle to try and eat right and fucking succeed and fail and succeed and fail and succeed and fail and try and be fucking zen about the whole thing – but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
So I go into the ‘corner store’ – and I think about this all the time – if an alien species came and looked at us they’d say,
“well, what are they doing? – well, they’ve got these little ‘stations’ set up everywhere – sometimes within blocks of each other – and these stations do 2 things: first of all, they fill their vehicles from these stations with this fuel that’s simultaneously destroying the planet and also enabling them to drive around these vehicles that destroy the planet and, second, while they’re in there, they buy this crap that they eat that ruins their health. “-The Aliens
I mean, think about it, you go into these ‘convenience stores’ and, except for the three, weird-looking, bananas they put there as the token health food, there is nothing in these stores of any nutritional value. Except water. Maybe water. And yet we are constantly in and out of there, we are constantly buying this stuff, we are constantly putting it into our bodies and fucking ourselves up and it’s just this perpetual cycle.
And so, if you look at it from an outsider’s standpoint, we – you know – it’s just the stupidest fucking thing we can do. And, I don’t understand – I’m ‘friends’ with the guys that work at the store near me – they know me by name (presumably because I’m consistently in there, ‘fucking myself up’), “Hey how’s it going…” – how does it feel to be these guys that are the merchants of this stuff, they’re making a living off this stuff. It’s like, “hey, here’s this crap – you know – that stuff’s really terrible for you, let me sell that to you.” And have no compunction about that.
And, like, I mean, it’s not their fault, they’re just making a living, but how did we get to this point as a society where we have like, literally, stations set up everywhere, where you can go in and, in one fell swoop you can fuck up the planet and fuck up your health at the same time.
I mean, wow. If only we could get that efficient about the opposite. It seems like a no-brainer. But instead of setting up a system whereby we could stop in at someplace and improve the planet and improve our health in one go – how come there’s no gas stations that just sell nothing but healthy food – or maybe there is somewhere – I don’t know, I haven’t been to every gas station around, but I’ve been to what would seem, a lot in my lifetime, for one person. Think for a second about how many different gas stations you’ve been at in your life. Let that sink in.
Yeah. Man. But I’m the same, I’m just locked in to that same pattern, just like everybody else, I just keep doing it. And keep going. I mean, I’ll go a day or two, and get gas, and not buy anything at these stores, but then eventually again, there’s the freakin’ candy and the soda talkin’ to me and I cave….
I mean, nobody talks about that – we talk about addictions – we talk about addictions to drugs and alcohol, I mean how is this any different – if this was just a store where you went in and crack was on display there for sale – people would say, “You can’t do that, this is bad” – but here’s a store that’s just stocked to the gills with what a huge majority of the people on the planet now – ostensibly – are struggling with – and that is diet, health, obesity – and these things are just there, and it’s like ‘regular ol, day in – day out’. Stop for the gas. Get my junk. I’m on my way. Have a nice day everybody! Go fuck yourself!
A few notes. First off, if you’ve ever tried to transcribe any sort of audio diatribe or speech, and you think you’ve gotten the punctuation right – you’re wrong. All convention goes out the window. You’d be hard pressed to form textbook ‘sentences’. There’s also something that can’t be transferred from the audio – the delivery, the tone. You’d be hard pressed to get that bang on.
Second, I realize in transcribing this – that it comes across as me saying this is an issue for everyone – it’s not. I know there are folks out there who don’t have this problem, and I know there’s folks in third-world countries who don’t have any food, never mind worries about eating too many chili-dogs at the 7-11. I know this. Don’t comment or write me letters. I know there’s people out there that do get it though, and I realize there are entire industries out there – who may have started with the best of intentions – but have now gone far astray of any moral or ethical culpability with regards to their products and the effects on their consumers. They are about dollars – nothing else – even at the expense of the lives of the very people they require to consume their product.
The discussion to be had is how to get off the treadmill. How do we as a society break free from the cycle, and the normalization of these types of behaviors, especially when there is a whole component of industry with extensive means determined to keep people locked in that cycle as grist for the mill.
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It’s always there, the ringing.
Drown out the ringing. Ignore the ringing. Mute the ringing.
I can hear the ringing around the corners. Under the cracks, the ringing.
I can see it in the dark.
Droning. Drowning. Ringing.
Sometimes it’s way down the hallway. Distant. Tiny.
Somedays it rattles the teeth in my head, the ringing.
A giant, 5 alarm ring.
He didn’t notice it when his head exploded.
The cute girl in the cubicle next to him was chatting away on the phone when she poked her head over the partition. She started talking to him before she appeared over the top.
“Dude, did you hear that? It sounded like a – OH JESUS! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?”
“I’m fine.” He said, somewhat baffled. “Why? What’s wrong.”
“Holy shit, you’re a mess.” She replied. “Do you need a doctor?”
He was a bit concerned now. He felt fine. She was freaking him right out.
“No. Uh….I’m ok. Thanks.” He decided go to the restroom as a matter of exit. “I’ll be right back.” He assured her.
As he walked by her she shrunk back in a fashion that said she ‘didn’t want to get any on her’.
On the way to the bathroom, he left a trail of shocked looks and concerned whispers. He could feel the weight of their eyes and comments. He pushed open the door into the cool, empty restroom. Walked right to the mirror.
He looked fine. He felt fine. He splashed some cold water on his face and dried off.
He walked back out of the restroom to be greeted by several co-workers, all concerned and offering assistance, but at the same time, hesitant to actually step to near to him.
“Are you ok? Do you need help?” Offered some.
“Oooo. That looks bad.” One commented.
“Jesus man, you should sit down.” Incredulous.
“I’m ok.” He stated. “Really. I feel fine. What the hell is wrong with you guys?”
He started back to his desk, emitting a nervous laugh in an effort to break the tension. The herd followed behind at a safe distance. He could hear whispering.
As he got closer to his desk he could hear his phone ringing.
6 rings. 7 rings, 8 rings. His message light was blinking like a hammer. The phone kept ringing.
The group had gathered just outside his cubicle, huddled like they were watching some sort of drama unfold on a television. Silence except for the phone ringing.
“WHAT?!” He shouted. “What the fuck are you guys looking at?!!” Shocked faces at the utterance of profanity.
The phone still ringing.
The cute cubicle neighbor poked her head over again, phone held tight in the crook between her head and shoulder blade.
“Dude….maybe you should go home early or something.” She offered.
All eyes on him.
He thought for a minute, the phone keeping time like a piledriver.
“Yeah. You know what? That sounds like an excellent idea.” He turned, ripped the still ringing phone from the desk pulling the cord from the wall and threw it at the crowd of huddled onlookers who shuffled to get out of the way, creating a hole.
“I’m out!” He shouted. “You guys are fucked.”
He stepped over the remnants of his phone, through the gap in the peanut gallery and strode down the hall to the lobby door, kicked it open and walked into the warm sunlight.
tired but waiting still
focus is out, wandering
forward into light