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Archive for the ‘hello it’s me i’ve thought about this for a long long time’ Category

chopsticksI have a confession to make.

I don’t–

Wait.  I should probably lay some groundwork.  I’ve got to build up to this.

I’m a pretty smart dude.  I’ve spent almost 85% of my years as a student.  I can do long division and F.O.I.L.1 I also played sports as a kid.  I’ve already mentioned my basketball days, but I played baseball, too, so I’ve got great hand-eye coordination.  And I’ve even played a bunch of instruments — violin, trumpet, harmonica, guitar — so I’m not club-handed; I can display gentle, controlled energy with these fingers.  When it comes to brushing my teeth, I exert the proper amount of pressure — enough to lift stains, not so much that I erode enamel — every single time.  Yet, there’s a skill that evades my grasp.

I do not know how to use chopsticks.

It feels weird admitting that.  I feel like I just told you that I’m completely incapable of surviving in this society, like a never-nude born into a nudist colony, or like Snuffleupagus, a mammoth from a time long passed, out of his element in the multicultural modernity of city life on Sesame Street.

Okay.  Yes: that analogy was forced.  But man do I miss me some Snuffleupagus.2

The point: all this “refinement” and I’m still skewing, stabbing, spearing and spilling any Chinese, Thai or Burmese food I eat.  Don’t even get me started on the atrocity that is me eating Vietnamese food.

Perhaps the strangest thing is that I own a set of 10 chopsticks.  They’re in the house all the time.  And so you’d think, free from the judging gaze of eatersby at adjacent tables, I’d practice practice practice until I got it right.  But it’s like I’ve already given up.

I hope we can still be friends.

_____________

1First, outer, inner, last (baby).  I even have the Urban Outfitters’ t-shirt to prove it.

2Did you ever know there’s a Disney World-like place for Sesame Street?  It’s Sesame Place.  It was amazing (and not just because it’s owned by Anheuser-Busch).

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SKU-000034522_XLNot too long ago, a friend honestly-joked1 that I am a contrarian. And I have to admit, it was a brilliant set-up. Because guess how you deny being a contrarian. Exactly. “Am not” is oxygen to an open flame.2

I got to thinking; a hobby done best while whittling vanilla wafers into suggestive animal cracker couplings. And after eating a cookie shaped like a zebra chumbawamping a goat and one of a liger tubthumping a hippo, I reached a thought.

I think I might be a contrarian, am 100% sure that I’m sardonic and swear that like Panic! at the Disco writes sins and not tragedies, I write protest songs and not lullabies.

Since the title of this here blog is the Change I Wish to See, you’d think the archives would be stuffed full of Gandhi-inspired rhetoric, Care Bear rainbows and hunger strike pledges. Yet, so far, no dice on any of that. Instead, you’re more likely to read a post in which I wonder why Gandhi didn’t speak up for himself more or I coerce Funshine and Cheer Bear into hunger strikes to protest the bastardization of the lovable bear industry by companies like Vermont Teddy Bear Co.3

I can’t help it. It’s the change I want to see, not the change that happened a while ago and therefore makes this blog so 2000 and late. It’s about telling Houston we have a problem.

I thought that maybe I should write a post that would break my stride; something that detailed a few things I unabashedly love; to switch it up a little; to take off this Stormy Monday underwear I’ve been wearing for days and put on a fresh pair. Obviously, my love for animated movies came to mind. But then I remembered that I even wrote a post telling Little Foot to take his job and shove it. I told Little Foot, hero before time, that he was washed up.

[insert pause, while I pour one out for my homie Little Foot’s storied career]

Apparently, a long, long time ago, some obnoxious little kid’s mom said “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and the little brat saw fit to take that personalized attempt to shut him and only him up, spread it like the pig flu (aka “the plu“) and now we’re stuck with it centuries later.

But I don’t believe in that.

Complaining is good for the soul. Like the best chicken soup, it’s homemade, salty and clears your chest of stuff that was in your head but sank lower and lower over time as you failed to blow it out.

I have made New Year’s resolution after resolution to complain less the next year. I have broken New Year’s resolution after resolution to complain less the next year. I think I am complaining about those broken resolutions right now.

But I’ve decided to let the circle be unbroken.

I like jokes. And ever since a 5 hour car trip with my dad 9 years ago when he popped in a tape of “jokes appropriate for the workplace” and replayed it when it finished and I tried to rip my drums from my ears, I decided humor a) shouldn’t suck nearly that hard and b) that the best jokes have a hint of bitterness to them.

So usually I have nothing nice to say. Thank god. Because if I did, I’d be Tony Robbins and would hate my life with the fury of a thousand blueballed virgins.

_____________
1You know, a joke that starts out funny for the idea of it, then becomes humorous for its truth, then becomes a point of personal reflection.

2In retrospect, I should’ve dropped an “I’m rubber, you’re glue…” but hindsight is for assholes.4

3Though, Vermont Teddy Bear Co., I will gladly follow the latest FTC rules and admit you’ve sent me plush products to review if you so choose.

4FN 2 contains arguably the worst pun ever.

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Beyoncé,

What I’m about to say might hurt.

I’m more of a Kelly Rowland kind of guy.  Actually, I’ve liked Kelly more since you were in Destiny’s Child and there were four of you.  I feel confident that this shouldn’t crush your ego since I’m completely irrelevant, but I figured I should just get that out there.

The point…

If you miss being in Destiny’s Child, just say so.  I am tired of watching you live your regret of going solo.

Let me explain.

Exhibit #1: Single Ladies

Exhibit #2: Sweet Dreams

Exhibit #3: Diva

Exhibit #4: Green Light

Exhibit #5: Ego (Remix)

Notice anything familiar?  There’s clearly a pattern here.  I think you have separation anxiety.  You left a group in which you were always featured standing/dancing/singing between two other women, so that you could always be featured standing/dancing/singing between two other women.

I don’t get it.

Hell, Diana Ross doesn’t get it, and she understood when you guys first copied The Supremes years ago.

Actually, maybe you don’t regret going solo.  Maybe you love it.  Maybe you felt the others were dragging you down and you being flanked in the videos you’ve released lately by two essentially nameless ladies is your way of telling Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, “It’s not me.  It’s you.”

Classy.

Either way, you’re talented.  I get it.  Congratulations.  But I can’t take one more video that looks exactly the same as 5 of the last several videos from you.  You’re the self-proclaimed heroine of R&B right now — allegedly just overflowing with cutting edge tracks and visual ideas — and yet the finished product so often looks like it’s been done before.

I know your coattails are awesome, but at this pace, you’re going to ride your own coattails into the ground.  Change it up.  Come up with a new formula.  Do something different.  Because me?  Bored.

Irrelevantly,
f.B

P.S.  Kelly is still cuter.

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You’ve probably had this conversation:

new person: hey. i’m a new person.

you: hey. me.

np: *yadda yadda* Have you seen?  *yadda yadda* Obama awesome.  *yadda yadda* How do you know the person who rents this space?

you: Oh, I blog. [Damnit damnit damnit.  He’s gonna ask me what I blog about.]

np: Oh, yeah?  What about?

you: *take a sip from drink in hand* I dunno.  Maybe if it’s what.

And then you realize you’ve just done the worst self-promotion ever and butchered the English grammar structure.

I read Patrick’s post about blog mission statements on Monday and, well, realized I don’t really have one.  I have a title and a subtitle for this blog and that’s as close to a stated purpose as I get.¹

I wonder if I should be disappointed or not, though.  Does it really mean I’ve got about as much vision as [insert cliché blind celebrity of choice] or that any vision I’ve got has about as much clarity as [insert cliché clarity-lacking celebrity of choice]?  I dunno.  Maybe if it’s what.

I’m not on a mission.  Actually, scratch that.  I would like to find Curly’s gold, own more animated Disney movies than anyone within a 100 mile radius and build a house that has a playroom full of Legos.  But I’m not on a mission via blog.

If you’ve got a single, underlying theme, then I don’t just respect it, I enjoy it.  Trust me: my undiagnosed OCD loves the cohesiveness of that and keeps me coming back for more.  But I’m all over the place here.

If I had to have a blog “theme,” it would be that this blog is the butt of a bar joke:

me: So a priest, an Irish guy, a black lady, two happily conjoined 35-year-old twins, a brunette, a staffer and a horse walk into a bar —

friend: Haha.  Yeah…

me: — and they had an awesome time —

friend: * ? *

me: because it was like going to francobeans.com where there’s something for everybody.

friend: That joke sucks like a retired worker of the street.

me: Wait.  Retired?  So if the skills are a bit rusty, that means… that means it doesn’t suck that hard and I win!

See?  This is my blog.  One brain fart rippling through the html-air after another.  This place is just a conversation armed with pictures and videos.  Sometimes I talk about me and sometimes I talk about politics and celebrities.  Sometimes it’s empty small talk and sometimes it’s slightly less empty small talk.  Sometimes it’s even things I really care about.  The only important constant is that I’m the one saying it.  And I’m genuinely satisfied with that.

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¹Which reminds me: I still seem to have misplaced my pants. Have you seen them? No? Okay.

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ralphiemouthy

After reading an op-ed in Time, I realized this blog has been missing something.  Can you guess?  Other than “piss,” it’s the other six words Carlin noted the FCC won’t let us say on TV.  Actually, I guess it’s a bunch of their derivatives and sidekicks, too.

I’ve gone lengths to avoid them, even quoting a favorite Orbit commercial — “What the french, toast?” — to get as close to the Sun as possible without becoming Icarus.

But that analogy is totally misplaced, and not just because I’m not the kind of person who drops mythology in conversation.  I don’t believe that saying the more popular version of what “What the french, toast?” implies really puts anyone at risk of falling into the sea like Icarus did.  Actually, I think the opposite.  I always have.  So why the avoidance?

Blame it on my youth.

I thought it would (artificially) make me stand out; that I’d be the kid who didn’t curse.  So, in high school, I stopped.  Turns out, not cursing is a lot like not cheering in the center of a sea of screaming fans at a concert: no one notices, at all.  The silence your voice makes is drowned out by the shouts of others, fully engaged, enjoying the moment.

Stubbornly refusing to give in that readily, I convinced myself not cursing would be like an experiment, a challenge: could I always find a way to get my point across without it?

The results of the experiment so far?  They look bleak, kids, bleak.

gift_of_disapointmentWell, maybe the box in that picture shouldn’t be totally empty.  But much like with NaBloPoMo, a challenge I respect but have no interest in doing again, I’m bored.  I feel like I’ve been dieting for years; like I’ve been trying to convince myself just how delicious, for example, rice cakes can be, when everybody knows rice cakes are the toilet paper of the food industry.

And then I thought of James Lipton, because toilet paper and rice cakes make me think of James Lipton.

Ok, no.  I thought of Lipton because of the questionnaire, adopted from Bernard Pivot, he does at the end of every episode of Inside the Actors Studio.  I don’t know why only creative industry types get those questions.  They’re general enough for us all.

But the point…

The only way to fail a questionnaire, in which there are no wrong answers, is to not answer a question.  Question #7: “What is your favorite curse word?” therefore, would mean I’d fail a questionnaire.

Fail a questionnaire.  Why does this seem absurd to me?  Because the freshest memory I have of anyone failing at something that easy is one of the Celebrity Jeopardy skits on SNL, when Trebek presents the Final Jeopardy as “How about your favorite food? Just write down whatever food you personally like most, any food you like to eat… Keep in mind you can’t be wrong. You can even lie to me…”

Unless I start breaking in some words I couldn’t say on TV, I’m gonna fail a questionnaire (that no one is ever going to ask me to answer anyway, I know).  Me not answering question #7 is like the celebrities not being able to name a food, any food.  And the absurdity of that is a lot like the absurdity of thinking there is, if ever was, any value left in the pristine approach.  I’ve been told that choosing words carefully can be very gentlemanly, at times, but it’s also like speed-restrictor plates in NASCAR.¹  It’s a hindrance.  And it’s like playing a game no one’s ever heard of to win a prize no one wants.

More importantly, I think it’s hurting my story-telling.  And I can’t have that.

So, today, I need you to be obscene.  How would you answer question #7 and why?  Think of the comment box as a foreign language immersion program.  What word should I break the cycle/start with?  Extra points if you define it Urban Dictionary style and use it in a sentence.

_____
¹A NASCAR reference? You didn’t think I had it in me, did you?

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I don’t want to sadden everyone today, but we gotta get up from here, kids.

credit: ClickFlashPhotos

credit: ClickFlashPhotos

I get it.  I really do.  And we’ll get to that in a minute.

But I was on the metro yesterday, and the sadness was suffocating.  Every single face was its own perfect storm: furrowed brow, droopy eyes, frowned lips.  There was only reclusive color: a sea of grays and blacks and browns; the kinds of colors perfect for blending into shadows.

I felt out of place.  But not because I don’t have any reason to fret or fear or fall.  It was because when people are that sad, you feel as if they should be left alone.  You don’t belong in that moment.  They don’t want to be seen.  They want to curl up in bed, pull up the comforter and watch reruns of their favorite sitcom or the last movie they watched with him before he left or the first movie they watched with the her that got away.  They want them to themselves.

And there I stood in the middle of it, my eyes bouncing from face to glass to another face to floor, trying to notice unnoticed, feeling guilty for having boarded with a smile.

Then today, just walking down the street, I saw the second person I’d seen in the last two days sitting in a car at a light just crying; just sitting and weeping, waiting on more than the light to change.  I thought of Jonny Lang’s “Red Light:”

Too slow to roll
Put your life on hold
An open path
With nowhere to go
You start to wonder
While sitting at a red light

And I know none of them are reading this.  But for those of you who are, we gotta get up from here.  The energy in this city is fleeting.  I know part of this is because DC’s unemployment rate is 9.9% as of February.  That’s 1 in 10 of every person we know.

I get it.  My family is struggling, too.  Our last three years?  There are parts of it you wouldn’t believe if I told you.  The parts I can tell without (I pray) revealing too much of the lives of others…

All three parents have lost their careers: mom, dad and step-mom.  My dad lost his after 26 years, 5 days before his birthday this February.  It was the only job I’ve ever been alive to see him have.  It was part of his identity.

Two Christmases ago, my brother, mom and I spent Christmas at my place here in DC because it was the only home between the three of us.  Why?  My brother was still in the dorm stage in college.  And for the last three years, my mom has been living with friends in Pennsylvania.  We sold and packed our home in Connecticut three years ago to move to PA.  But a lingering complication has meant the closing on the PA house has still yet to happen.  We still haven’t moved my mom into that home.  For three years, she’s been with friends there, while everything that made our house our home is in storage: baby pictures, furniture, you name it.  My place was the only “home” any one of us had.  Our Christmas presents to each other were homemade gifts that year.  And the money I’m able to send home since then just isn’t “mortgage money.”

After failing the bar exam last summer, unable to rely on the promise of a law license to find a job, but also unable to hide the last three years and a law degree from my resume when applying for things like retail after the first 150 resumes to firms went unrewarded, I started the fall telemarketing, just to make ends meet.  Everyone I knew from law school was at a firm right away and I was asking people for money over the phone, during a recession.  One night, one of my randomly-assigned calls actually went to someone I had sat next to in a few classes.

In just the last few weeks alone, my brother has been in a car accident that nearly totaled his car, almost three years to the day his best friend lost his life in a car accident, and also had his home burglarized.

So I get it.  This thing called life will break us if we let it.

But my family still smiles when we talk to each other on the phone.  And we still laugh when we see each other.  And no one who has met me in real life lately would know any of this if I hadn’t told them, because I still smile when I walk down the street or sit across a table at happy hour.  Because at a time when everything seems so able to defeat us, I know we’re incapable of being defeated.

And though I may not have met you, I have to believe the same about you.  I just do.  I don’t believe the smiles we wear on our morning metro rides should be secrets, let alone never worn at all.  There has to be a way to deal with this while we face it, not just once it’s a memory.

Maybe you were one of those people on the train yesterday.  Or maybe you gave up on this post paragraphs ago because none of it seems like a big deal.  Maybe it’s just April and the rain.  I don’t know.

But for today, I hope at least some of you use the space to talk about why you’ve felt burdened lately (if you have) or why you’re still smiling anyway.

Because these are our options:

you can wait for ages
watch your compost turn to coal
but time is contagious
everybody’s getting old.
so you can sit on chimneys
put some fire up your ass
no need to know what you’re doing or looking for
but if anyone should ask..
tell them i’ve been cookin’ coconut skins
and we’ve been hanging out
tell them god just dropped by to forgive our sins
and relieve us our doubt

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It was somewhere around 4pm yesterday that I remembered the photo I had snapped the day before.

If you’ve ever been aboard Metro’s red line between Gallery Place and Metro Center, you’ve noticed that the inner walls of the tunnels feature fragmented, flip-book-like advertisements. There’s a series of still-shot posters that appear as moving images when you pass them at high speeds.

The picture above is what happens when your speed comes to a halt.  We were just sitting in the tunnel, frozen, mid-commute, waiting for something magical to happen.

It was kind of like a scene from The Incredibles.  Mr. Incredible, Bob, returns home one day.  The day before, he had done so and his frustration from work got the best of him, led to him dead-lifting his car above his head and shocking a little boy on a tricycle who just happened to be pedaling past the Incredibles’ driveway.  Bob’s super-identity was supposed to be a secret.  He wasn’t wearing his super-suit.  He was wearing his work clothes: a short-sleeved button-down and slacks.  Overwhelmed, he broke character.

When he returns home the next day, though, he’s too distraught to exert.  And so this exchange happens:

the-incredibles-2004-memorable-quotes

On Wednesday, I was doing the same thing from my office at work: waiting on something amazing.  I realized the concept of the workday was quickly redefining itself as just “the day.”  I realized I was going to have to break an after-work promise to three very cool people¹ because, well, there wasn’t going to be an after-work phase of the day.

As the clock ticked forward, pages of the calendar flipped backward.  I struggle with telling people “no” or “I can’t” when I’m the only one who’d be inconvenienced.  So changing the plans of others leads to a huge sense of disappointment for me.  But once I hit send on an email I didn’t want to send and canceled dinner, what was really bothering me was just how accustomed I’d become to being overpowered by the day.

I haven’t been on a vacation in almost ever, it seems.  I’m sitting there, trying to think of when during my adult life I’ve had a week somewhere and I’m drawing a blank.  I’ve just never let it happen.  Or maybe it’s that I’ve never wanted it badly enough.  I was the high school kid putting in 96-hour weeks as of age 13.  College didn’t change that.  Law school exploited that.  Work embraces that.

I’ve had a small handful of scattered three or four-day getaways. But I haven’t packed to disappear for at least 7 days since before the new millennium.  Today, I’m declaring this era is officially over.  I’m on the verge of burnout and aside from all that means in real life, it also makes for boring posts.

So, to come full circle, we all know what my happy place is: it starts with a “Dis” and ends with a “ney.”  So, I registered for “the most magical birthday present of all:” free admission to Disneyland on my birthday.

I’ve been coaxed by Miss Bianca to do this for months now.  But can I really take a week in early November?  What if this; what if that?  Well, I’m punching “this” in the throat and telling “that” to simmer down because I’m going.  And I’m not going with the safer, closer-to-home pick of Disney World, a place I’ve been a bunch of times, but Disneyland, out in California which just so happens to be near my best friend I’ve seen way too infrequently over the last decade.

In addition to not taking “no” for an answer, I’m not letting Disney’s corporate peoples stop my shine.  I noted this small print on the bottom of the page:

walt-disney-world-what-will-you-celebrate

That last line reads: “Disney does not condone the release of balloons into the environment.”  Well, Disney and environment, I love you both dearly, but I will be flatly ignoring your concerns.  I will let loose a fleet of balloons unlike any one person should be able to acquire.  And I will do it while wearing Mickey ears.

_____
¹You know who you are.  I owe you.

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