Parking Lot People

I like to leave the office for my lunch break. I used to have a bad tendency to simply never take a lunch, in jobs past. Now, I make it a point to. I’m not getting paid for that hour, and damnit, I need to be kind to myself. Take the hour. Ingest some fresh air. Get off my ass. De-stress myself as much as possible.

Thing is, my office is in a weird little spot. There are no parks nearby, and it’s not close enough to downtown to go for a stroll. We’re right on a highway, so it’s pretty much either: have lunch at your desk (and continue working, because you won’t be left alone), take your lunch break in your vehicle in the parking lot (weird and awkward), take your lunch to the picnic table out back (and not be left alone), go out to eat (and go broke), or take your lunch to some other random parking lot.

The last option on that list is the one most people in this vicinity seem to gravitate to. I spend nearly every one of my lunch breaks sitting in my vehicle, parked in the parking lot of a local grocery store. And anywhere from five to two dozen other folks are doing the same thing.

All parked in the grocery store parking lot. Eating lunch. Alone. But together. Some listening to music. Some chatting on their phones. Some texting. Some playing games. Some smoking. Some napping. Some exiting their vehicles and sitting on the asphalt, just to be that much closer to fresh air and sunshine.

We exchange occasional nods of acknowledgement when we accidentally make eye contact with fellow Parking Lot People.

Other than that, it’s a solo thing. For many. It’s weird and sad and uplifting all at the same time.

And I dunno why, but I just wanted to mention these Parking Lot People, of whom I’m one.

That is all.

 

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Part 1: The Reason

Over a year ago now, I wrote about gingers, specifically the abundance of gingers in my foray into the Portland(ish) dating scene. I directly referenced a few, in particular. I ended up taking a chance on one of those gingers; I believe I referred to him as something like the “simple, but wild one.”

Why on earth would I saddle myself up to a “simple, but wild one”? I’ve asked myself that same question, as have some of my most important friends in the world. (Looking at you, Tomas and stupidityhole and Cheeky.)

One of the easiest conclusions that I’ve come to is this: Despite moving across the country, escaping my own personal hell that was Louisiana, to pursue a lifelong dream of the Pacific Northwest…I found myself soon fallen into the same patterns, the same rut: that of work, cheap fast food or no food at all, bingewatching some bullshit show, not being able to focus on reading…on words, and spending most of my time alone and moping, in bed. I knew a physical move wouldn’t fix anything other than the immediate surrounding stimuli that fucked me up on the daily in Louisiana. I knew it would take real effort. But I was failing at it.

So I started dating. I never felt comfortable doing so in Louisiana, partly because my better-part-of-5-year-separation took that long to culminate in a divorce, and partly because I’d have never been comfortable dating there. Running into my ex while out on a date, or even trying to date someone and get serious with someone in a place I knew I couldn’t stay. Couldn’t live. Couldn’t breathe.

So I started dating. Dating sites, of course. How else was a recluse going to meet anyone? I met some terrible people, but I met some damn good people, too. I had some fun. I had some prospects for serious. (I learned quickly that in modern dating, one has to openly profess they are monogamous if they have any hopes of landing someone who isn’t into “ethical non-monogamy.” Y’all. You do you, but that’s just not my jam. I’ve tried to be open to it, but it’s just not me. It’s so far out of my comfort zone that it can only end in misery.)

I also quickly learned that, while I wanted someone whom would date me exclusively while we decided whether or not we were compatible, I also wasn’t ready to plummet straight into some til-death-do-us-part thing. Another thing I learned is that I get bored easily. Very easily. I don’t want to sit on the couch, night after night, bingewatching tv. I don’t want to waste my life away watching other people live theirs. I don’t want to talk about politics, every single day, day in and day out. And no, I don’t want to rush into marriage and move into your parent’s farmhouse, for fuck’s sake.

I wanted…needed…craved…excitement, stimulation, new.

Enter the “simple, but wild one.” I’ll come up with something to call him at some point, but for now, that will do.

He was wild. He was unpredictable. He was untamed. He wasn’t interested in anything serious. He wanted to go out. He wanted to do things. And oh dear god, was he fun. The most fun I’d ever had with a boy I was seeing regularly. There was an edge of danger to it all, and it was fucking thrilling.

And so, I allowed myself to get carried away with it. Sucked into his insane fucking charisma and magnetism. I willfully turned a blind eye to the enormous red flags that anyone who’s ever known him can see (like his extreme levels of narcissism and sociopathy and alcoholism). I willfully entered into a thing that caused everyone I knew – including the few of his friends I was allowed to meet – to seriously inquire, “What the hell are you doing with him?” (That question got more and more searing as time went on, more and more pressing, more and more concerning from the asker, and more and more telling to me of just how obvious it was to absolutely everyone what a brutal fucking mistake I was making.)

But, son of a bitch, I was having fun. I was living life with reckless abandon, something most people get out of their systems in their teens. Something I’d never done.

That. Is the reason. Well. That is the surface reason. More reasons will be expressed in future chapters. Like the whole, I lived so much of my life in fear of winding up with a replica of my father. And I did. Not only did I “wind up” with him, I dove headlong into it.

This isn’t a tale I can tell in one sitting, hence the parsing of it into chapters. I don’t have the energy for it, nor do I have the desire to give it that much time and attention in one sitting.

But that. That is my version of a beginning for this. That is my reason for what came to pass.

Holy epiphany, Batman.

I just figured it out. Hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Why I’m craving to be social. Why I refuse to hide myself away anymore. Why it’s like a breath of fresh air, even in the otherwise oppressive city fumes.

It was him. That gingerfuck. I was cloistered, sequestered, denied, hidden for over a year.

And now that I’m free, motherfucker I’m free. And I’ll be damned if I hide anymore (corners, notwithstanding). And damnit, I’m loving every. fucking. minute. of it.

Don’t ya just love a good epiphany?

More to come.

Dichotomellaneous

It occurs to me that I’m living a plethora of dichotomies, all at once. And as I sit here, my mind is racing with unformed thoughts. So brace yourselves for a rambling mishmash of assorted mumbojumbo. Let’s start with a song to enjoy while you read this bullshit, mkay? Mkay.

With the music sorted, let’s start with… Oh. I know. Music. Duh.

Musichotomy

As I was listening to a song earlier, on the way back to work from the post office, it struck me as how different it was to my usual proclivities. I was listening to Jake Bugg’s Lightning Bolt. Now, here’s the thing, y’all. This Louisiana-born-and-raised chick loathes country music. Loathes. I’ve refused to date country-music-fan dudes, because music is too important to me to compromise that harshly. (Yeah. I said harshly.) I mean, super recently, too. Within the last couple months, I let a good dude pass me on by, because – while he shared my lust for live music – he was all and only about country. Major. Serious. Country. Everything else about him was cool as shit, but we just couldn’t hang, because he was always listening to some ear-bludgeoning nightmare – and proved equally unwilling to listen to my jams.

And yet. There I was. Jamming out to Lightning Bolt. Singing along, for fuck’s sake. Alarm bells went off in my head, and then I just said fuck it and went with it. Granted, dude is hardly country in the traditional sense (or even in the modern sense), but there’s a palpable country vibe to it. I tried to forgive myself because of his obviously overwhelming influence by Bob Dylan, one of my all-time favorites.

But yeah. One day, I’m listening to Fugazi’s brief discography. The next, I’m going all out on some Trombone Shorty and Keb Mo. Following that with Wax Taylor and Portishead. Then, I’m all up in some Pharcyde and Mos Def. Let’s not forget my love of the Peppers. How about Leon Bridges or Band of Horses? Fucking hell, if I could only stop listening to Clint Mansell and Damien Rice. Then, there’s my new little occasional metalbar haunt, and Church of the Cosmic Skull, for fuck’s sake! So, should I really be surprised by yet another style of music? No. And yet I am.

Lifestyle stuff and stuff

I’m also contemplating my sudden love of Downtown. The whole downtown scene appeals to me, on a visceral level, really. I love the sites and sounds, the absurd snippets of dialogue as random passersby, well, pass you by. I love the snatches of music, the invisible notes and melodies losing the chase as you stroll on down the sidewalk. The various aromas, at once arresting and enticing, alluring and repulsing. Thai spices and incense. Rose petals and cat food. Greek salad and craft beer. Gasoline and perfume. Sex and vomit.

But it’s so fucking weird to me. To like it, nay love it, the way I do. It pulls me, draws me, keeps me locked in when I give in to the call. And it makes no sense, because I’m a trees girl. I’m a sky girl. I’m a mountains and rivers and stars girl. I’m a birdsong and wind girl. I’m a bubble over with giggles and laughter at the sight of a tiny woodland creature girl.

I’m a fuck society girl.

So, no, I don’t get it. This sudden fascination, even obsession, with downtown. Or do I? I think it’s part of me coming into my own. My self. One of the many parts of me that I denied for all of my life: being social. Not hiding myself away from people and society and the sorts of experiences only exposure to a place like “downtown” can bring. And damnit, I’m loving every second of it. Even the ridiculous, frustrating, maddening, and absurd. I’m fucking loving it.

My favorite bar is a jazz club. They have live music all the time. All. The. Time. Jazz, funk, blues, soul. And I’m in fucking heaven, every single time. I sit at the bar, smiling, and clasping my hands in joy, and groovin’ to the music. I stand outside, on the sidewalk, and laugh and dance in the rain. It is so…freeing…and perfect.

I also strangely enjoy the metalbar. It doesn’t have live music, and it doesn’t necessarily have the kind of music I dig (generally speaking). But I appreciate it for precisely those reasons…it’s different; it’s new; it takes me out of my comfort zone (but not to an extreme level). It’s great for culture-learning/people-watching. And I really fucking like their pineapple cider.

Another little spot is a wine bar; a friend of a friend plays his trombone and keys, while we drink wine, snack on an appetizer, and talk about meaning and purpose and music and books and life and whatthefuckever. People meander on down the sidewalk, occasionally stopping to drop money into the tip bucket or chat with us or peruse a menu.

This amorphous entity that is downtown has me in its grip, and I love it.

It doesn’t stop me from going kayaking, checking out nature trails, spending an entire afternoon reading beside the lake. But there is less of that than I would have expected of myself. Not because I’m holed up, depressed in bed, but because I’d rather be downtown. (Then, there are those brewery crawls. A whole ‘nutha story!)

Fucking weird.

~

I’ve suddenly talked myself out. So I’m calling an abrupt end to this particular post.

But I’ll be back.

I will.

 

 

M is for That’s Like So Metal, Ohmygod Becky look at her butt, I mean blood

So I’m at this bar, right? I’m not actually in the bar; I’m standing outside, hiding in this little nook, waiting for someone. It’s cold. It’s fucking cold. I’m wearing two pair of socks in my docs, jeans, a cami, a t-shirt over the cami, a flannel over the t-shirt, a hoodie over the flannel, a beanie snugly perched atop my skull, and the hoodie pulled over that. As I said, fucking cold. (And apparently, that turns me into someone whom “looks like she’s standing in line for a Pearl Jam concert in 1994.”)

I’m near the East Coast now. Near. Definitely in the Eastern Time Zone (is that even what it’s called? I don’t fucking know.) Standing outside on a frigid October night. Downtown. Outside a metal bar. Yeah, you read that right. A metal bar. With this incongruous name. Like “Gilligan’s Island,” only that’s not the name, but it’s close enough to give you an idea of the incongruity.

This metal bar is a haven for disenfranchised twenty-somethings, who aren’t really disenfranchised. They just like a certain look and a certain style of music, and they think it makes them cool to pretend to be disenfranchised. It doesn’t, but they’ll figure that out in a few years. Or they won’t, and they’ll turn into the old fucker who wouldn’t leave me alone. “Why are you standing over here in the corner, looking all beautiful and alone? You’re so beautiful. You’re like an angel. Can I touch your face?” Please. Don’t. Thank you so much, but please. No. “But why are you over here in the corner? Why aren’t you out on the sidewalk with everyone else? Why aren’t you standing in the street?” (Yes, he was fucking hammered.) I’m standing here, because I’m hiding. I don’t want to be seen. I don’t want to be noticed. I’m waiting on someone, and this is where I’m comfortable waiting. “But but…” (you get the idea) So yeah. I hope they figure it out before they turn into that walking pile of sadness.

I end up trapped in my little corner (that’s what happens to corner-seekers, FYI), hemmed in by this pack of Goth Metal Grunge hybrids. Gretals? Yeah. Let’s call ’em Gretals. So the Gretals are initially three dudes. Bitching about their ex-girlfriends whom “just totally didn’t get metal, man. She like didn’t understand that there are genres within genres and shit.” (I think the word you’re looking for is “subgenre,” Gretal.)

Then their new girls show up. The ones who are “so metal, man. I’m so glad to finally have a metal bitch.” (Yeah.)  The following snippets are from the She-Gretals:

Oh my god, girl. (Restaurant X) would like ohmygod so totally hire her cuz she has dreads and everyone hires dreads like totally.”

Yeah. Their new girls are so metal, man. This was followed up by a serious conversation about how one can determine another chick’s “metalness” by the colors she dyes her hair.

And then there was this.

There are like no hot available men in (X City). And all the hot chicks are bitches, including my friends. I’m like attracted to two different types of people, so we just share each other. That’s living metal, baby.”

And.

I feel so spooky, and I love that you’re spooky. We should fuck.

Blood wrestling. I love blood wrestling. (What’s blood wrestling, inquires He-Gretal.) It’s like when, like, instead of mud, you cut yourselves and wrestle in blood. It’s so fucking hot. And metal. (Looks at the she-gretal she keeps drooling over.) We should totally finish our wine, then blood wrestle.

Most of that was said by the she-Gretal who kept showing off pictures of a scar that looked like a skull when she pulled the bandage off. “Isn’t that like totally the most metal thing you’ve ever seen? I’m so metal right now, I can’t even.” Yeah. Neither can I.

Now, here’s the thing. I’m not a metalhead. Never have been, and I don’t pretend to be. But I have a niggling suspicion, call me crazy, that NONE of that was metal. It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. I instead entertained myself by live-texting the ridiculousness to the person I was waiting for.

Once I was rescued, we fled the scene for a bit – so as to shake the proud robber of abandoned hurricane homes. Yeah, “you’re just like a little angel lighting up the corner” dude was from Louisiana. Bragged about robbing homes of the wealthy during hurricane evacuations. Real winner, that one. (He got all mopey and apologetic when I failed to be impressed and was instead saddened by his tales. But that’s hardly a credit to him.)

Anyway. So. Hi. It’s been a long fucking time. I’m in a different place now, physically, emotionally, spiritually. But I’m here. I’m okay. And I’m actually fucking happy.

So.

Hi.

And C is for suck it, Ezekiel. I finally wrote again. Now, piss off.

 

Gingers and Math Professors and Bhagavad Gita, Oh My.

Y’all. Something is up with Oregon. I mean aside from triple-decker man buns, obsessions with microbrews and whiskey, and wannabe hipster bro-boys. I’m talking about the ridiculously high ratio of gingers to the rest of the population. At least, I mean that’s at least a thing in the dating pool. Not that I’m complaining; some of these gingers are smokin’ fuckin’ hot. (Uhm. Maybe most of them. Which is weird, because as an aesthetic, I was never interested in gingers. I mean, I’ve always been a fan of ginger flavor – ginger beer, ginger snaps. But ginger boys? Too…pale. Oregon is changing my mind.)

If you stacked all of my dates up on a weirdass live human bar chart, the tallest bar would be gingers, by far. (This is not intentional.) At one point, I may or may not have been casually dating three gingers at once. One of them was pretty simple, but funny and wild as hell. Another of them was a super country libertarian boy (yeah, I passed pretty hard and fast on that one). The third was fucking brilliant – this weird dichotomy of former military and current anarcho-philosopher turned psychotherapist with a fucking PhD. Oh…was he yummy. Lemme tell ya… Too bad he was emotionally inaccessible and a bit of a sociopath.

Last night, I had a date with yet another ginger. A math professor. Yep. Another weilder of a PhD. (No, stop picturing a 65 year old in a tweed blazer with elbow patches. Fuck, I just planted that image, didn’t I? Stop picturing it!) Shy and awkward over text. Funny, witty, and deep in person. In between covertly checking him out (holy shit – since when do nerdy geek boys lift??) and getting coached on how to play pool, I was alternately laughing my ass off and diving off into deep conversations about math, the universe, string theory, self, other, the Bhagavad Gita, and Eastern Philosophy. With wild fucking abandon. Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that rocks my socks.

We did a bar crawl – my first ever, I think – and drank. A lot. Well, my a lot is just a little compared to seasoned drinkers. I don’t drink often. So, the two jumbo-sized ciders and the sangria had me in orbit. (Oregon makes sangria with wine AND tequila, y’all, at least at rooftop bars in college towns. My name is Stephanie, and I approve this message. (That fucker also came in an oversized, don’t think you can call that a pint glass anymore, pint glass.)) I wasn’t wasted – those three drinks were spread over about three hours – but boy, I got spirited and (only slightly) wobbly.

We walked it off, then looked at the stars. Man, there’s so much less light pollution in that little town than where I live. It was glorious. We listened to Irish folk music and Ravi Shankar and had the deepest conversation I’ve had in ages, punctuated with sass and smartassery, crude jokes, and ribald laughter.

It was incredible.

That charming, brilliant, Irish bastard.

And it’s almost a 100% certainty that I’ll never see him again.

Why? Because out of this abundance of gingers, only one of them has been interested in more than a single date (see simple but wild boy – and he’s not in it to win it, either). And it seems the smarter and more philosophically inclined they are – ginger or not, but especially the gingers – the less likely they are to be interested in anything even remotely serious.

Unfortunately, what dating is teaching me is that my interests border on the fucking unattainable. If the guy isn’t a deep thinker, I’m not interested. If the guy can’t banter, I’m not interested. If we can’t talk until 4 in the morning (yep, last night was a late one) about anything and everything, with no filter, I’m not interested. If we can’t enjoy comfortable silences, I’m not interested. If all conversation is all about him, I’m not interested. If all conversation is all about me, I’m not interested. If conversations are about things or people, I’m not interested. If conversations aren’t about ideas and thoughts and philosophies and weird little eccentricities of self and universe, I’m not interested. If I’m not laughing until I’m doubled over in pain, I’m not interested. If he isn’t a little….wild, rough around the edges, I’m not interested. And every. Single. Motherfucker. That I’ve met that has those qualities – the ones I AM interested in, are “ethically non-monogamous” or “polyamorous” (welcome to fucking Oregon) or strictly interested in an “FWB” or “NSA” situation (yeah, I’m learning a lot of fucking acronyms lately).

And it feels strangely like the longer this carries on, the less interested *I* am in something long-term and serious. Sometimes I think I’m *too* fucking adaptable, because I don’t want to compromise my personal convictions, the ones I have just for me. But at the same time, I don’t want to go back to being a complete and utter hermit, either, afraid of the opposite sex and what they do or don’t want from me.

Dating is nice. But it’s also terrible and unpredictable and scary. And I’m fucking sick of it. And also wish I had one tonight. (Oh wait, I did. But after the stellar night with the Jacked and Ginger Buddha, there’s no way I could meet this other guy. It would have been a soul-sucking exercise in tedium. So I canceled.)

See. If I don’t even know what the fuck I want, how can I expect others to know what they want? I mean. Every time someone does want something serious with me, I’m the one that’s not interested. I “don’t feel a connection,” or something on that laundry list of elusive but critical qualities is missing. I’ve totally ditched boys for lack of banter. And I just ditched one for lack of depth/connection. I don’t wanna talk about tv shows and YouTube political commentators all the damn time. I wanna talk about Plato and Buddhism and Experiencers/Enlightenment. Fuck those fucking gingers for dangling that fucking carrot and running off because they wanna be deep…with a shallow girl.

Fuck those fuckers for making me think it’s possible, because there’s no way in fuck I can settle now. I know what’s out there. I’ve known it for a long time, and I’m just getting it reinforced now and then. (Don’t get me wrong, most of the people I’ve been on dates with are horrible. I have some horror stories to share with you people! But sometimes…the veil is parted, and I get a glimpse of what could be. And I know…fucking. I know, I’m not digging too deep or searching for something imfuckingpossible.) So fuck those guys…and thank those guys.

Fucking gingers.

That Time I was Adopted

In September.

Of 2016.

As in, four months ago. At the tender age of 36.

Back in August, when I was mainlining xanax to get through the immense stress I was going through trying to get the fuck out of Louisiana, one of my buddies from work came to chill in my office for a while. I’ll call him “Habanero,” since he’s the biggest RHCP fan I know (besides LE MOI. DUH.).

So we’re listening to the chili peppers and chatting about random shit, and finally we get into Oregon and Portland. Finally landing somewhere around this paraphrased bit…

Habanero: Dude, so I heard you don’t know anyone up there. I laughed when P. Whipped told me that.

Me: arches an eyebrow

Habs: No fucking way. Friends? Family?

Me: Nah. I don’t have anyone up there. I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal out of it. shrugs

Habs: laughs and leans back. The whole Pacific Northwest? You know…nada? Maaaaan, P. Whipped thinks you’re nuts. Hell, everyone does. But me? I envy you. You got some serious balls. What’s your plan?

I give him the gist of what I intended – which was to spend a week in an extended stay, during which time I’d find a place to rent and take whatever job I could find.

Habs: Listen, I know a guy.

Me: If this is gonna end with me dead in the desert or in a Mexican prison, I’m not interested.

Habs: Dude, I think I saw that one! ANYWAY. I know a guy: Jalapeño. Jalapeño and I grew up together, and he has family in Oregon. I’m gonna hit ’em up. They’ll let you crash for a couple weeks, while you get settled. I’m tellin’ you. They will.

Me: My eyes must have been big as saucers. This is something I normally would have put the kibosh on I-FUCKING-MMEDIATELY. Really, Habs? You think so?

Habs: I fucking know it. I’ll talk to Jala. We’ll sort it out; you’ll see.

Me: Dude, even if this doesn’t work out – you’re fucking awesome for even suggesting it. For thinking of me. Thank you.

Habs: Nah, you my homegirl. I can’t stand the idea of you going up there like that, with nobody at all. These people are cool. I mean, nice. Like. Nice as fuck. You’ll see.

~

Habanero didn’t contact them until around the last week of August…as in right at the last minute. But he wasn’t kidding. They took me in, showed me around, and now I’m renting a room from them.

It’s weird. And uncomfortable. Awkward as fuck.

And I’m tellin’ you, these people straight up act like they’re my folks. They’ve even introduced me that way once or twice, “This is Stephanie, the daughter we just met in September.”

They text me when they think I’m out too late.

They text me when they think I’ve been gone longer than whatever errand I’m on should require.

I do their laundry for them (sometimes).

I dogsit for them (often).

They drag me to family functions (after promising my presence and tricking me into going by telling me we’re doing SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY THEN WE SHOW UP TO A FUNCTION WITH SEVENTY PEOPLE).

And…

They’re nice. And what I’m paying them in rent has enabled me to drag out the little bit I got back from the sale of the house…so that I can look for a job I actually want to pursue instead of settling for the first thing some agency could dig up for me. I had only been here a week when they approached me and asked me to stay. “The angels sent you to us. It was meant to be. We talked to our medium about you. She thinks you ARE an angel. Will you meet her with us?”

Yeah.

It’s interesting, alright.

And it’s a strange feeling. Being parented. At 36. After a lifetime of little to none of that.

They’ve taken me to the beach. They’ve taken me to restaurants my budget would definitely not allow. They gave me gifts at Christmas and cry and tell me they love me.

So I have to deal with some overbearing shit. So I have to deal with someone who may be at the beginning stages of dementia. So I have to deal with hugs and hovering and manipulation to spend time with them. So I have to listen to them repeat the same life stories over and over and over again for hours on end. So I have to deal with parents. Family.

I’ve also been given this two-fold gift of being able to take my time and pursue something better than “just a job.” And…as strange and uncomfortable as it is…it feels good, sometimes. To be depended on. To be…loved.

As grateful as I am, you’ll most assuredly get plenty of rants about how manipulative they can be. And how downright fucking mean-as-a-snake the man can be. But when I’m being fair, those times are few compared to how fortunate I’ve been and am right now. This is temporary – they both know that, though they’ve both also said they want me to stay for good. (Yeah, I’m serious. There’s obviously more I haven’t told in this little post: like how I think my very presence has acted as a balm for them and their loneliness, health problems they’re both dealing with, etc.) But I agreed to their rent proposition “for up to a year.” I’m not sure I can deal with the smothering that long, but hell. The way things are going, don’t ask me what comes next. I sure as hell don’t know.

Life is weird. And this new chapter book my life is writing is certainly no exception.

Fuck You, Jiminy Cricket

So I get back to basement after a grueling (read: not grueling at all) day of tutoring (one whopping student). I flip on the gas fireplace and bundle up, because it’s snowing and the basement is cold as fuck. Ask my nipples. (Don’t. That’s creepy as fuck. Pretend I didn’t say that.) I go into the bedroom, flop myself down onto the bed and greet first the boys, then Lucien.

I named my iPad after the librarian in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. And then I promptly filled him with books, anime and games. I’ll give you one guess as to what Lucien and I get up to the most. You guessed it: I wile away the hours playing mindless games. This. Is what I’ve been doing instead of Reading. Writing. Watching. Observing. Hiking. I’ve been sleeping. Fiddling on the iPad. Facebook. Sleeping some more. Sleeping. iPad. Facebook. Sleep. Work in progress. I’m a work in progress.

After the boys abandon me to go wrestle in front of the fireplace, I cuddle up under the blankets. With Lucien. Will he fill my mind with obscure ideas and scintillating wit, as I intended him to? Oh no. Definitely not. You’ve forgotten we paired Lucien with The Stephanie. The Stephanie abuses Lucien and dims his mind with trite rounds of knock-off candy-blasting and time-management games (because she’s oh so fucking skilled at that). The idea is always: 15 minutes to wind down like this. Heh. We all know damn well it never ends up that way. The Stephanie is a work in progress.

Ahem.

So this fucking piece of candy didn’t go where I swear to fucking crackerjacks I told it to, and it ruined everything. My last damn turn for twenty minutes. And I blurt out into the quiet (aside from the insane racket coming from the televisions upstairs),

FUCK YOU, JIMINY CRICKET!

That is what it took to snap me out of my mindless daze. I actually sat up and shook my head. What the actual fuck? First of all, how do I come up with this shit? Second…what the fuck did Jiminy Cricket ever do to me? Or anyone, for that matter?

He goes around teaching that splintered, lying piece of driftwood about manners and morals and shit. He’s like the ultimate good guy. Pinocchio’s a lying little twatmonkey, but Jiminy Cricket?! He’s the adorable little crickety conscience, hopping about, tapping his little cane, and talking about how it’s wrong to steal and lie and cheat and gamble and all that good-for-nothin’-scoundrel, now turn-your-life-around-and-make-your-creator-proud shit.

And here I am, all FUCK YOU, JIMINY CRICKET, because I mismatched a piece of candy and my little witch can’t concoct her fakeass potion on a fakeass game that means nothing. Yeah. Take that, Jiminy Cricket! It’s a double rainbow! What does it mean!

~

I’ve been thinking on this a lot lately: I’m kinda disappointed that I never got detention. Okay, maybe even a bit pissed off at myself.

Part of me says I should be proud that I was covert. I mean, I did smoke cigarettes and pot at school and on campus, albeit extremely rarely. Seriously, through all schooling, college, post-grad, blah blah…definitely fewer than a dozen times. I was too afraid of being caught. (Smokes were different in college, obviously, but even that I kept to a minimum. I never wanted to be perceived as that girl. Even though, I kinda fucking was…kinda.)

The other part of me is (and always has been) sick to death of convention. And sick to Jiminy.jpgdeath of myself for not bucking convention as much as I feel compelled to. Pot at school? No. I would have gotten a fuckton worse than detention. But there were times that I wanted to speak up in class. Stand up for something I believed in (or didn’t). I felt compelled to say something. Do something. But I forced myself to conform. I’m a non-conformist at heart (and I’m not talking about the twats who call themselves non-conformists, then gather in a group and commence to conform to their own set of rules and norms), but I force myself to adhere – often to things I don’t want to or feel I shouldn’t.

I’ve been so fucking well-trained at conformity. So fucking well-trained at tucking my head and saying “Yes, Ma’am,” and “I’m sorry, Sir.” That sometimes I fear I can’t break out of it and even tell the difference anymore: which ones are my own personal guidelines, and which ones are the ones I’ve been inculcated with? Which ones do I want to keep, and which ones do I want to dash?

A work in progress indeed.

~

So perhaps this sudden, “Fuck you, Jiminy Cricket!” makes a lot more sense given the things I’ve been contemplating lately.

Perhaps I’m saying “fuck you” to my own enforced pseudo-conscience and searching for my own.

Or perhaps I’m fucking insane.

Either way, at least my musings separated me from Lucien for a bit.

Do you believe in Free Will?

This question was posed to me by someone with whom I enjoy thinking. You read that correctly. I’m referring to someone as a person I like to think with.

Now and then we pose questions such as this to each other. Questions that require more than a simple yes or no response. Questions designed to make you think, digging beneath the surface of the question and truly contemplating or even arguing your response. Questions that make you struggle.

This was the most recent question he posed to me:

Do you believe in Free Will?

The arch to his brow and the gleam in his eye warned me of a trap. But the smirk indicated that he knew I’d sense the trap. It’s a game we like to play. A game of words and thoughts and perception challenging and devil’s advocacy.

I tilted my head, matched his expression and said something like, “Sure. But it’s not that simple, is it?” I added something about tabula rasa and imprinting, but that line of thought fell away pretty quickly.

The restaurant we were in was a bit rowdy with a spirited lunch crowd, and we easily distracted ourselves as well with the delightfully tangential nature of our conversations.

You keep looking at that broken clock. But you don’t wear a watch. Tell me why.

Why do you lay your phone face-down on the table? Explain the thought process to me.

See what I mean? Someone I like to think with.

~

Do you believe in Free Will?

My knee-jerk response to this question is, “Of course I do!” But that’s simply not good enough. It’s an incomplete and flawed answer.

Tabula rasa. Do you remember hearing this phrase in school? I can’t remember the first time I heard it, though I suspect it first really resonated with me in college. The concept is usually attributed to John Locke. Though it predates him by a long shot, I think Locke did much to crystallize the philosophy – at least according to his own interpretation of it.

Tabula rasa, Latin for blank slate, as a philosophy posits that each man and woman is born completely blank. Not imprinted upon by some collective conscious or unconscious. No input from past lives or ancestral or astral projections. Blank. We come into this world, blank and ready to be written upon. And the ones with the chalk to write upon our blank slates? Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, teachers, clerks, neighbors, rich and poor, young and old, pure and evil, selfish and selfless. All of our encounters add information onto our slates. And at some point, we receive our own piece of chalk to add to or categorize the information which has now been imprinted upon us. And we also have our very own chalk to print upon the slates of others.

What does this have to do with free will?

Well. I think that we do have free will. To an extent. It isn’t a pure and unaffected free will. How could it be? A man who was born to the ghetto and imprinted upon by all that happens in the ghetto will make different free will decisions than a man born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. They won’t even have the same options to choose from in life. A woman who was born within the confines of a prison and later raised in a halfway house will make different free will decisions than those of a woman born to a movie star or politician. Do they both still have free will? Yes. To an extent.

What if my free will conflicts with yours? What if my free will pushes me to apply for a job working for an NPO in the mental health field (fingers crossed), but your free will pushes you to select someone other than me? What if my free will causes me to text and drive, while your free will lands you on the highway moments before I crash into you, killing your family with my free will?

Let’s look at another important scenario. What if my free will leads me to a movie theater moments before the free will of an American Terrorist takes my life? What if my free will conflicts with yours? What if your free will conflicts with mine?

Is free will a good thing? Yes. To an extent.

Chick at work today reminded me of the free will conversation of a week ago (has it already been a week?). She said:

You know what I need? I need a rich servant. Someone to make all of my decisions for me – choose the right house, lay my clothes out for me every day, set food on the table in front of me at meal times. Someone to make all of my decisions. I’m over it.

She, in essence, told me that free will is burdensome to her. She’d rather not have free will in all instances. But can we pick and choose? We kind of do already, don’t we?

We “elect” government officials to make decisions on our behalf, decisions we believe they’re better suited to make than we are. That’s putting it simply, but that’s the premise, yes? So I’m turning over portions of my free will to them. And in return? They get to inflict their free will upon me, because I’ve given them the power to do so. When I’m up against them, do I still have free will? Yes. To an extent. If I choose to act upon my free will and drive to Baton Rouge to participate in rallies and peaceful protests, I could end up dead at the hands of a cop who has the free will to shoot me for blocking the streets and gathering en masse. That knowledge impacts whether or not I act on my free will, doesn’t it? Of course it does.

It happens every day in every circumstance. I could use my free will to stand up and shout at Queen Bitch, “You’re an evil, filthy cocksucking enema bag, and I hope you rot.” And my supervisor could use his free will to fire me. Not the best idea for me to act upon my free will in that instance, then.

So perhaps the answer is this:

Yes, we have free will. But whether or not we act upon said free will is heavily influenced by factors environmental, biological, social, financial, etc.

I believe that almost everything is a choice. And we have the free will to make whatever choice it is we decide upon. But needs must dictate that we take into consideration the free will of others and how they may or may not act upon theirs. We must also consider biological necessities: I could use my free will to stop my breathing. I could use my free will to never eat again. I could use my free will to deny my body of water. But then we enter moral questions of “right” and “wrong” and “should” or “shouldn’t.”

We could argue about fate, which I believe my thinking partner mentioned as well. And perhaps this should have been more of an essay about free will versus fate. I’m not quite ready for that one yet. Because I have many conflicting views. I do believe in free will. But sometimes shit just feels as though it was or wasn’t fated to happen. But perhaps that’s the Bible Belt in me speaking. Or perhaps its my own observations of the universe and what appear to be certain immutable laws.I believe that is a conversation for another day.

~

I suppose my views boil down to a conflicting dichotomy between free will and determinism. Many Buddhists adhere more toward determinism and shun the more Western idea of free will. This philosophy essentially posits that events in our lives are caused by influences external to our own free will, thus whether or not we have free will matters very little.

While I agree with much Buddhist philosophy (and have much to learn), I think a fully deterministic view is rather bleak and just as incomplete as a full adherence to the idea of free will. Yes things happen to me. Yes things happen toward or at me. But I still have choice. Sometimes, the correct choices are so obvious that they are basically no choice at all. And sometimes the consequences can be dire: follow my own free will or live to discuss it another day? For many, I’d say they wouldn’t even consider that a choice, hence negating their own free will.

It gets rather circuitous, doesn’t it? But the question has been on my mind for a week now. I’m still thinking about it. And I still haven’t fully formed my ideas on the matter. I’d like to do more formal research, dig into the ideas and perspectives of philosophers and great thinkers and, of course, consult my thinking friend.

What say you, peopleaneous?

What say you, thinking partner?

Feel free to use your free will to comment..or not. I’ll use mine to not edit, because I’m actually tired. Wonders never cease.

~

On another totally random note: I’m researching communes in Oregon.

That is all.

Good day.

Feelin’ Like a Criminal

I’m in something of a wild mood. Do you ever have wild moods? I get them fairly regularly. Thing is, I never actually do anything about it. And I wouldn’t. But fuckin’ hell, I really want to sometimes.

Usually, these moods just translate to bouncy, snarky, playful hyperactivity. And that’s only fun if there’s someone to hang out and interact with.

And now, well. Yeah. I’m in that wild mood, and I’m thinking things I don’t talk about on the blog. So let’s just make it easy to read between the lines: it’s a good thing I’m not one of the hot chicks. Because the first thing that hit on me would have a fun night. Every now and then, I really wish I could be that girl…just for the night…or a weekend…fuck it, let’s go for a month. But I’m not that girl.

I’m ready to be off of work, but there’s another hour to go. I’m contemplating going to the pub. It would be alone, since no one really hangs. Well, there are some people hanging tonight, elsewhere, but I’m not part of that clique so that’s out. And everyone else is married with children. Yawn.

The pub sounds fun, but it doesn’t sound fun alone. So I think I’ll save my few precious coins and just go home. I can’t afford to go anyway.

I’m ready to be off of work, but I don’t want to go home. Sucks. Because I’m feelin’ like a criminal.