Motivation for 2019

I keep hearing and seeing all these proud and glorious representations of the past year. It certainly had its fun memories for myself as well; a few Bonfires, a friends reunion, outings to newly released films, wholesome family time, and many more. Not to mention a few successfully completed resolutions from last year that includes completing a Words of the Day calendar, spending more time with my hairy K9 brothers, and working on myself as a confident man.

But I can’t help but feel incomplete. That’s the truth. When I scrolled through my Facebook first thing this morning, as any millennial would, I see all these stories and posts about success and a sense of satisfaction from 2018. Automatically I felt a bit suffocated from all these success stories. And while I am proud of most of my friends and family who have made it this far, I merely envy them.

Of all the seven deadly sins I’ve envied the most this year. When my friends acquired good jobs, I envied them. When my friends moved away to the excitement of the city, I envied them. When my friends came back and told stories of their easily acquirable fun, I envied them.

And of all my envies none of those following gaps in my life were completed. That is the summary of my struggle to 2018. Now we look to 2019 where those who seem to have everything (and don’t realize it) plan their new resolutions as if the few hours between today and tomorrow mark the next level of a video game.

Here’s what I know: There is no next level. 2019 is another tomorrow to me. And after tomorrow is predictably another tomorrow. Flashback to this day in 2017 right before it became 2018 – it was another tomorrow. That tomorrow marked the beginning of a new uphill fight for me.

I fought depression and blasted out of the hole like a motherfucking rocket. My fingers swept across my keyboard as I sent dozens if not hundreds of job applications left and right across this industry. I ran like cheetahs when the simplest of tasks was asked of me on the job. And I networked like a true entrepreneur expanding my list of professional contacts from 10 to at least 100.

Let it be known: I’m a motherfucking low ground warrior proudly fighting uphill to success. I will succeed. I will prosper. I will Thrive!

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2018 and my Fight Against Depression

I’m skipping the pleasantries in this blog. In fact what I write today is not literature. Not all art is meant to be enjoyed and this is certainly not art. This is pure fucking ventilation.

There was a point this year where my head wasn’t in the right place. I inherited hate for myself as well as skepticism for everyone around me. A part of me said fuck everything because everything and everyone deserved it while the other part of me clinched to instincts asking why no one cared about me? So instead of answering these questions I cycled myself into invisibility.

Being invisible can be blissful, quite frankly. As an extrovert I put myself out there which means the feelings on my sleeve get tossed into the ring as well. But fuck, even an extrovert needs to breathe. So I adopted the ability to be invisible; Shutting the fuck up and staying out of everyone’s way like the perfect ideal fly on the wall. In these moments, being noticed became a hassle so people watching inadvertently became a more solidified skill. If my attention was required, I’d smile when needed. The major thing I’d dread was one-on-one time with anybody. There’s not a chance of being invisible then and worst of all nine-times-out-of-ten, someone is going to want to take a photo with you. No one takes pictures of the person who tries to shy away in a large group. But when you’re one-on-one with someone they ask you to mold yourself, on command, to your pleasant persona which is why no depressed person ever looks depressed when you look back at old photos. Everyone acts differently in front of a camera. This past year, according to my photos, did I ever looked depressed?

Trust me, behind the teeth of my smile in many of my photos my first thoughts were: Fuck this, fuck the photographer, fuck where I am, fuck my past, fuck my present, fuck my future, fuck home, fuck my career, fuck friends, and anything potentially construable to your mind… fuck it. I aggressively hated it and everything imaginable in that moment. Why? I’d learn much farther down the road it was jealousy.

I told you, I’m not writing this to be pleasant. I can reassure you this, though, I’m not depressed anymore. So why was I depressed this year at all?

You do the math: I bounced between unfulfilling jobs in my first year in the industry, saw my friends – whom I was supposed to move in with – move into a place without me, got scolded by multiple industry professionals about my failures, went home to parents who argued with each other and myself, got little to no recognition about my accomplishments of the past, pinched pennies when out with my friends – when I could afford to go out, got rejected by at least 300 different jobs that denied me with silence, saw my friends succeed and progress in an excelled speed, almost got pulled into one of those get-rich-quick pyramid schemes with Amway, and in general couldn’t find consistent work.

Another issue was that I didn’t know how to express myself. In fact, as I type this I feel a physical reminder anytime I use my pinky finger to type in a key… I bottled shit up inside me and swung a fist at the wall. Thank god I didn’t sprain or break my hand but my pinky remains casualty to a bruise that will heal itself.

*SIDE NOTE: I was NEVER suicidal. I think I’ve been asked this a few times since being vocal about my depression so NO I was not suicidal. And NO I didn’t want to hurt people either. To some extent, only myself.

It wasn’t until I had a week to myself, with my parents on their anniversary vacation, where I could finally think and clear my brain with an openly silent house that warranted me to challenge my latest patterns. Here, I had come to a conclusion on my own: I needed to change. This sounds like a very simple epiphany but in all seriousness it’s the biggest step. As soon as my loving parents came home, I told them of my needs and realizations. They welcomed my hunger to change with love and urgency and for that I have my parents to thank.

I thank them to this day by constantly adapting. I adapt out of necessity. In all fairness I’m still changing. I’m not fully out of the cave I was in before but I’m certainly not lost. In fact I’m not depressed anymore. I’m not depressed because they gave me the resources I needed to grow out of my dire situation. And from their resources I began to see and even create my own resources. My friends have provided resources for me as well and for that I thank them by changing.

That’s not to say my life is perfect now. I still live at home and I still fight tooth and nail to get jobs in the freelance market of the film industry. My friends still succeed at accelerated rates and they still live in the heart of Los Angeles where work and opportunities are.

My final anecdote to take away from my ventilation is this:

I put value in the wrong things in my life. My confusion and frustration with my professional life had drawn me to believe my worth came strictly from success in my career. That was clearly not the case. My ultimate worth comes from my ability to overcome this very thing I’m in now. It comes from me learning to thrive the way I used to. It comes from me trying things and doing things for others as oppose to fully focusing on myself.

It comes from my efforts in aggression and expression to fuel my passions rather than my faults.

I’m an incredibly lucky person as well. This is something to be underscored while depressed. If you live in a house with some sort of support system, whether that be a family, a job, a friend who stops by to say hello, or even your own motivations, then you’re a very lucky person. I didn’t realize I was lucky for a great majority of this year. I was so focused on my negatives that I couldn’t function.

The steps I’ve taken to leave my depressed state include expanding my interest and education from concepts as simple as bar-tending to giants as great as business concepts, re prioritizing my life goals while maintaining my passion, reaching out doing more good for others rather than myself, and seeing a therapist. In other words I SHIFTED MY FOCUS.

I still am harnessing more tools to cope with what I’ve gone through but know that my solutions may not be what helps you develop.

For my friends and family who may be suffering from depression:

I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH! There are multiple types of depression. Don’t treat your condition as if it’s mine. Do your research. You can start with this article. While I know self diagnosis is not always accurate when using the internet, it helps to get a better idea as to what you need. I was probably under the category of the most common type known as Major Depression. I’m proud to say I’ve fought back against the storm and can confidently say you can too.

Also, a great book that has helped me grow is a book called The Go-Giver. It was life changing for me and I hope you check it out.

Lastly if the situation is dire and you’ve been drawn to this point please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.

Thank you.

The 3 Most Important Conversations of my Life: Rejection, Love, Gratitude

Note: Some characters in this blog will be masked with aliases to protect their identity.

Conversation #1: Rejection

The freshman dorms were crammed and unpleasant but somehow that added to the comfort of company. Huddled in my friend’s walk-in closet sized dorm (identical to mine in the same building) we sat hunched over on the AMC quality approved twin beds watching The Goonies on the AMC quality approved 8 inch screen laptop. As a matter of fact nothing added to the nostalgic adventure vibes of Hollywood like four friends, shoulder to shoulder, bonding over our love for this classic story. Right as our protagonist gang of puberty riddled kids find the underground pirate ship, I received a call from P. With no hesitation I excused myself into the hall and let the movie progress without me.

P was my high school sweetheart. We dated for two years attending two proms together and while we were never voted prom king and queen, we had felt on top of the world. We performed theater and choir, talent shows, poorly planned dates, and spontaneous adventures. We were unstoppable.

P: I can’t do this anymore.

Me: What? What do you mean?

P: I can’t do us anymore.

Me: Hey let’s slow down and talk about this. What’s going on?

P: I’m sick of living like this. I can’t breath. I can’t work. I’ve not been me!

P was to leave for the Israeli Defense Forces while and I was to pursue film in San Francisco. She was armed with patriotism while I was armed with naivety.

Me: Well we have a plan. We’re doing incredibly well for where we are. We’ve been in contact a ton, haven’t we? What about our Halloween plans?

P: I never bought the ticket.

Me: (I wasn’t sure what to say)… I see.

P: Chaz (she began crying)… When you’re not here I miss you. And when I miss you I force myself to not miss you because it pains me. And when I don’t miss you I suddenly feel guilty. And when I feel guilty I miss you. Do you see what’s happening here?

Me: Yes and no.

P: Chaz. You know how I love to read? How I just started my new job? How I cook and exercise? When I say I’m not me I don’t  read any more. I’m not working to my fullest. I don’t even eat and I’ve barely left my room.

Me: Then what do you do all day?

P: I escape. I never thought so many thoughts could come of a white wall at the foot of my bed. And here I am playing that over as a greater activity than nourishing my body.

Me: P, please let’s work this out. You can still come to San Francisco. I’ll help you with the ticket. You’ll feel better as soon as you get here. We can continue this story!

P: I’ve lost 10lbs this month.

This of all things stopped all thought. I couldn’t hear. I couldn’t move. I had no sense of feeling except for the buzzing sensation tingling around in my head. My feet tingled too. My stomach disappeared and so did the world. I was hollow. I was now lost in a trans staring into the white wall in front of me at the foot of my feet.

Me: Then goodbye.

The words involuntarily spilled out of my mouth like a dam that had lost its resistance to hold the river flow together.

P: Chaz, I love you and I don’t want you to hate me for this. I –

I hung up the phone. My friends have always told me that I walk with purpose. I stood up and stumbled my way to the elevators. I let my subconscious take the wheel. My step lost all its purpose.

 

Conversation #2: Love

6/21/17 – Edinburgh, Scotland

My aunt Barrie and I had a full day of wandering the capital buildings of Edinburgh. She was enthused to show me her world for the first time and I was trying to keep up as I suffered from some awful type of flu that deterred me from walking any faster. Perhaps I was getting used to the new water solutions or I was overtired or maybe I simply had swapped germs with the wrong person. Regardless, I’d walk in a cold sweat wanting to see more but also hoping the headache would go away. Near the train station, my aunt and I put our bags down to take a break. As soon as my backpack detached  from my body an awkward outline of cold sweat in the shape of my bag was exposed. I shivered and chugged a swig of water from my canteen. My aunt wandered off to a stand nearby to buy a snack for us. Now alone on a stone stoop I decided mosey on off with my phone to see if I could further label myself a tourist to the locals.

I took useless pictures left and right trying to remember every fleeting angle I saw until my eyes locked on a large neon sign. I wanted to take the picture but felt strange taking it with a random woman in its way. Quickly I snapped the photo but felt somewhat guilty for not asking permission.

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I shall tear up trees with my bare teeth! I shall crush mountains with my fists! I shall go crazy – for love!”        -Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Hesitant, I walked up and interrupted her deep thought.

Me: Hi, I’m sorry to bother you. I was taking some photography – well not photography, it was just on my phone but – I’m from Los Angeles… America – and – well I’m a tourist and I was taking photos and you ended up in one. Is this okay to put on my instagram? It’s just such a good picture and I could even send it to you if you’d like but if not then I’d totally understand and I’d delete it right now.

Confused she looked at the photo. She shrugged her shoulders and said…

Eleanor: Go on, keep it.

Me: Are you sure? Thanks so much.

Eleanor: No problem.

There was an awkward silence between us. I didn’t know how to continue but forced my way through.

Me: I’m Chaz. How are you today?

I shook her hand.

Eleanor: Eleanor. And kind of amazing, actually.

Me: Yeah? Something big happen?

Eleanor: Yes I think so.

Me: What’s the big news?

Eleanor: I think the quote behind me explains it all.

I looked to the quote. Then back at her. My eyes lit up as I did a double take realizing what she meant.

Me: Are you in love?

Eleanor: Yes. Yeah I think I am.

She didn’t know how to contain herself now that she said it out loud.

Me: Well… that is amazing, isn’t it?

This was her special moment. Perhaps it was time for me to let her enjoy this epiphany.

Me: I’ll let you go but can I just shake your hand one last time?

She grabbed my hand and stood before me at eye level.

Me: Thank you for sharing. Never stop loving. It was a pleasure meeting you.

Eleanor: As to you. Enjoy my country!

We exchaged goodbyes and went our own ways. What an incredibly find! Suddenly I no longer felt sick.

Eleanor, if you ever read this, thank you.

 

Conversation #3: Gratitude

This all started when I found out the person responsible for one of my greatest and most radical transformations worked in the mall I visit most. Some of you reading this may know that I was victim to a hate crime in middle school.

The perpetrators were caught less than two weeks later and put through the justified consequences of the justice system.  They were found guilty for vandalizing my locker with nazi affiliated messages and gang taunts. Despite the actions taken, I spiraled down a destructive path forcing me to push through a time where I was incredibly mentally twisted. Beyond depressed, I was enraged and at one point felt the need to express that through physical engagement.

There were two to tango in this crime. The ring leader and B. The ring leader was involved in actual gang activity and was eventually put under house arrest for violating his one year probation. B followed thinking he was helping a friend with a simple task.  It turned out he would be dragged into a mess he had never expected to be in. He lived passed his one year probation and now pursues his passion of music while staying close with his family. He certainly didn’t deserve it. B also was the one who wrote me an apology letter. It taught me forgiveness. It gave me freedom of mind and peace at heart. It miraculously taught me that it was possible to cry tears of joy.

And so, after reaching out to him and grabbing lunch with him most recently to seek closure, I explained…

Me: After what you did, I went through quite the inner turmoil as you can imagine. I dreamt of hurting, even killing you and a select few out there. It was all circulating off of revenge… which is never a healthy path as you can imagine. When I entered high school I began theater. I wanted to try new things and explore a new part of myself. Unbeknownst to me, it served as the perfect outlet to let myself go and breathe. Of course I was still going through a lot deep down but just as things began to cool, my blond-haired blue eyed drama teacher casted me as a Hitler youth in Sound of Music.  I at first was infuriated, given that I was now required to wear the swastika for the part, but soon after I learned to accept it knowing that sticking to it would help me get better parts in the future. That was when you sent me that apology letter. It happened to be perfect timing. I know it probably was a simple task, but your letter changed my life. It sparked the beginning of something I didn’t even know was happening until it was too late… By the time the next play had wrapped, I found peace with it all. I forgave you. I forgave your friend. I forgave everyone who had ever wronged me for being a Jew. And most of all I forgave myself for adopting hate as a solution. I needed you to know that you were forgiven. For that, B, I thank you.

With that, there was silence between us. B sat back taking it all in calmly, respectfully listening to what it all may have met for both him and I. He owned up to everything of course. That’s how I knew his next words were genuine.

B: You’re welcome.

 

The Rose With The Thorns

Rose_Petals_walking_on

My mother always warned me about my rose with the thorns

I have scars across my hands and stitches that shut my ears

But my mind is over matter, intake intellect over impulse

Adapt with trial and error while continuing to fall behind

If love is truly pain then my passions must be suffering

Thank god for that because at least I consciously will breath it

No need to inculcate me, I’m invigorated to the core

Continue to harvest the spoils and drive my blank roads

With meaningless signs with darker to blacker backdrops

Flats of artificial meaning that melts my fourth wall

The hierarchy begins to crumble, the curtains begin to part

Let the show begin because this is one of many tales

But I’m not a broken record, snowflake, nor a shattered soul

I’m a venting triumph  machine climbing walls and early ladders

Circumventing cowards, hypocrites, and bullies with my cunning

How great to be alive!

How great to be scarred!

How great to leave behind…my rose with the thorns.

 

Topanga Canyon Road

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Driving a little above the speed limit for comfort, a restless Chaz rushed to work in his hybrid Lexus h250 series. Between his strict mornings with school and the lack of flexibility at the office the pressure to arrive and deliver felt never more greater than then. It was only a matter of getting to a place that was merely ten minutes away, yet with traffic a 40 minute drive… that is if you didn’t cut corners. Chaz did just that, listening to his High Speed playlist on Spotify while following Waze to get him there as fast as humanly possible. El Chapo blasted through his speakers as the bass reverberated the windows. It was a stressful experience, but the adrenaline to Chaz was ever more invigorating; His hate-love relationship with the commute to work was integral to his life. He almost thought of himself as Speed Racer or Baby Driver, speeding on a mission to do something greater than most average humans get to do. Of course, he was only trying to get to his job in Santa Monica.

The silver bullet shot through the lanes, cutting close to edges, switching lanes to whichever flowed better, and constantly checking his app for the reported cop car lurking about. To Chaz, he was not speeding. He was being cold blooded and efficient. This mentality was on the cusp of being his motto. He wondered if others saw him the way that he viewed other cars that went even faster than he did. And while Chaz liked to be ‘cold blooded and efficient’ he also had his standards: If a car sped on his right side, he might think it would be okay so long that the driver used a signal. Drivers that didn’t use such signals deserved severe consequences according to his standards on the road. He also disliked what he called “suburban” drivers – the ones who drove slow while perfectly residing within the speed limit or lower. In his mind, “city” drivers were the ideal to aspire to: Efficient, corner cutting assholes who drove quickly with the routine and will-power needed to make quick decisions on the road without bothering anyone else. Anything but that became a “dick” driver… there’s no description needed for these kinds. Trust me, you’ve definitely met the type.

And while all this unsettling energy spiraled psychotically in the confines of Chaz’s tunnel-visioned head, a driver half a mile up drove at “suburban” levels.

The rotting yellow look to Gary’s Toyota Corolla didn’t make his dented rear look any better. If anything the car was an exact representation of the man inside. Dented and rotting, Gary’s body and electrolarynx shifted obnoxiously together from left to right as he took his daring turns around the winding narrow slopes of Topanga Canyon Road. Right about now he craved a cigarette but between his near completely greyed teeth, the gaping hole in his neck, and the doctor’s “strongly” advised instruction to quit smoking he just couldn’t do it. To him, the programs thrown at him to “increase the embetterment of self sustainability” were all bullshit. Pure bullshit because while they told him about resisting temptation they provided nothing to replace old habits with realistic new ones, or even how to cope with his PTSD from the last World War.

When he complained to his doctor about such grievances, Dr. Scheingold promptly provided him with “Well we do have brochures for an excellent program just downtown. Trust me, it may look like ‘AA’ but they’re only set up that way in order to make the environment conclusive.”

“Inclusive!” Gary croaked back.

“Yep, yep, yep!”

Gary missed the old days when ‘AA’ stood for Anti Aircraft. While he was shot at on the decks of great ships and while he escorted troops to their death on the prolific battle of Normandy, he recalled a time where he could walk and talk without needing his daily pills, his walker, or even his damned electrolarynx by his side at all the times. When he didn’t sound like a robotic frog, he spoke a smooth baritone swagger often while smoking a French cigarette. Men called him ‘The Great Buck of the West’ for his wild spirit and relentless boxing notoriety while the ladies called him ‘Jimmie Rodgers Twin’ or ‘Al Jolson’s cousin’ for his melodic charm and wit he performed while on dates. That was his prime. He was a king and his queen became Ethel. But those days were gone along with Ethel and the rest of his fame and glory. It was now him, his car, the road ahead and the strange new sounds of loud speakers that were quickly shadowing behind him.

Chaz suddenly had to bring himself to an inconveniently slower speed. The ugly beat up car in front of him moseyed along the narrow sloping canyon. Unbeknownst to Gary, Chaz as well as several others after him, needed to get a move on. With no cars in front of the old Corolla, the others behind him grew anxious. All the space unattended with the potential to be mastered by their wheels… only there was this shmuck was in the way and it was clear he didn’t care. Chaz was on the verge of honking his horn.

Suddenly, Chaz’s tire bumped something on the road – a small rock, a rabbit, a piece of broken tree? The car lightly kicked up causing the usb port attached to Chaz’s phone to sort of sway about. The moment Chaz’s bum hit his seat, the phone glitched causing his El Chapo song to speed up in a static frenzy. His shock was quick from the cumulated combination of events. He didn’t know what to make of it. He looked up and down from his stereo interface to his windshield trying to troubleshoot the song issue while surviving on the road. He hit the skip button and soon a song played that was calmer and not characteristic of the ‘High Speed’ playlist he was listening to. Instead it was a different playlist… Him and Rachel’s playlist.

Rachel and Chaz were a casual arrangement from the start. But after their promiscuous pursuit on one another, it was time for Chaz to graduate and for her to enter junior year in college. The entire year, their focus was spent on something merely physical and fun. But once he was halfway across the world, and once she was left home alone for the summer in California, their attraction for one another became ubiquitous. While in Europe, Chaz could only imagine him and her together in each and every one of the romantic cities he had gone to. As a matter of fact, every city began to feel romantic beyond Venice and soon enough the whole world opened up to the possibility of being a playground for the two of them. But of course, this was sadly imagination. Both sensed the deeper connection, though, and developed a constant stream of communication during the trip. He told her of the amazing sites and she the new experiences in the job she just acquired. It was as great as it was sad to talk to one another. On one hand, there was unspoken fancying. On another, the discouraging promise of separation. Towards the end of his trip, they spoke on a sleepless night solidifying their bond in a long distance relationship… This was great and they even met one magical night half a month after arriving back from vacation, but was soon met with the realization that they both anchored each other. All the pent up romance, preparation, and passion for one another lost to the cruelty of time once again! How he hated time. He hated it so much that adrenaline swelled up inside him: Whether he was creating or exercising, he felt anger fill inside him… Even while he was driving.

Chaz slammed on his horn ruthlessly, “Let’s go you old shit!”

Gary tightened up trying to stay on the road as this silver Lexus unabashedly drove daringly close to his rear. That’s all he needed, another dent for his insurance company to ridicule him on.

50s swing music haunted Chaz in his car. B-A-B-Y by Carla Thomas reverberated out of the speakers and bounced off the windows into his ears. In his own personal hell, he felt the walls of the Lexus close in despite the promised “luxury” experience.

He honked his car again, “COME ON! PEOPLE HAVE JOBS, ASSHOLE!”

Gary slowly led the pack at what he felt was the perfect speed. Left down the curve. Right up the curve. Left in the bend. Right through the tunnel. The trees and towering mountains were meant to be a calming presence but the driver behind him wasn’t helping the situation. He looked in his rear view mirror and saw the hot shit with obnoxiously shiny glasses and gelled hair overreacting at Gary for whatever reason.

Chaz finally saw an opening as the end of the bend revealed a long unoccupied straight road lying next to them. It would be incredibly illegal to do so, let alone dangerous as he would be driving into oncoming traffic but he could taste the opportunity in the air. His pride swelled up inside and told him that he would be damned to let this fucking old man turn him into a suburban driver. He would be damned to let one basic car deter him from getting to work. He would be damned to look back at this moment to remember that time a suburban driver pegged him down to this subserviant league.

Chaz daringly slammed his foot on the gas pedal. Veering his car into the oncoming lane, he sped up leading the pack of followers down the straight. He hit the power button to the stereo silencing the hard working speakers from their usage turmoil. The nose of Chaz’s Lexus began to pass Gary’s trunk on the left. Gary saw the car sinking into and escaping from the blind spots in his left view mirror. Chaz’s teeth gritted together as he realized he had never done this before. The vroom of the engine seemed to roar dramatically despite it being a hybrid. The nose of his Lexus began to pierce passed the point of where the front driver’s door began. Gary now grew stressed wondering what he had done wrong and if he had really been such a hazard to be driven around as such. Chaz now looked over across the glove compartment through Gary’s window to begin seeing the thin grey hair and spotted old skin that made the man frail and innocent. Gary then decided that the decisions that other asshole cars made around him didn’t matter so long that none of them hit him. Chaz now was just about ready to pass him but first he decide to maintain the speed to get a real look at what kind of man would do this to him for this somehow became personal. Gary in this moment seemed to recognize the behavior realizing that he actually appreciated the young man coming up on him. He might have done the same to an old man at his age. Chaz looked over, now even with the other car, in a dual of fates that set their identities for life.

Peering through, Chaz gave the dirtiest, most “What the fuck?” look he could give. Gary calmly turned over and grinned open-mouthed at him, revealing his ugly teeth with pride… with pride, though! And in this moment, Chaz saw a spark of youth more powerful and more experienced than his; That despite his flaws, he was an old law-abiding citizen just doing his everyday routine and that he had more of a right to the road than he did. Who knew what this man’s life really was? And who cared if the man drove slowly in the grand scheme of it all? Chaz, bewildered by the power of such a smile, grew embarrassed realizing he must keep his composure and not speak of this to anyone. He decided to commit and sped forward zooming passed Gary and off beyond the pack to dangerous speeds. Gary chuckled to himself and shook his head thinking I would have done the same thing! and continued peddling forward as the Silver Lexus turned the corner to never be seen again.

Out of Me

I got a job

 

Are words that I seemingly won’t get out of me, network it with me as this cold society’s learning curve brought it out of me

 

Be proud of me

 

Are words I can’t demand as I’m lacking esteem to amend the “me”, as I’m not the “me” that I want to be

 

I love you

 

Tragic words that never get spoken because I broke it off of me, only possibly because I thought to free impossiblity

 

He’s a Frenemy

 

Grin at the those that remind me of me of what not to be when I look in someone who just took from me. Can you take from me? Apparently.

 

I got my diploma

 

The piling clot of fraud education blot taught to me what scheming sought not to be because look what it brought it me

 

Do a lobotomy of my psyche’s autonomy. Look what it caught in me. Cycles that fight in me:

 

And if I can’t send it out of me

Then I can greet it out of me

And if I can’t shake it out of me

Then I’ll smile it out of me

And if I can’t deal it out of me

Then I’ll deliver it out of me

And if I can’t deploy it out of me

Then I’ll pile it out of me

And if I can’t sketch it out of me

Then I’ll edit it out of me

And if I can’t read it out of me

Then I’ll play it out of me

And if I can’t drive it out of me

Then I’ll jam it out of me

And if I can’t blast it out of me

Then I’ll scream it out of me

And if I can’t spew it out of me

Then I’ll clench it out of me

And if I can’t sleep it out of me

Then I’ll run it out of me

And if I can’t lift it out of me

Then I’ll write it out of me

And if I can’t elaborate it out of me

Then I’ll apply it out of me

And if I can’t express it out of me

Then I’ll cry. Simple.

 

Which I have… In forgiveness they say “It’s water under the bridge” but lately I’ve envied the water even though it represents sin. I see it as a direction and that path seems to be forward; what’s that like?

 

Patience, get this out of me.

 

 

The Pull (What I learned in Europe)

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There was this sort of abyss that defined my life; an aimless warmth of comfort I simply accepted as a part of my day-to-day schedule. It welcomed me to believe that the world was to be taken for granted, remain still, and stay at where your designated duty seemed to be. But eventually silence gets loud. Do you know what I mean? The deafening stillness of blood flow that deters from all motivation in life? It’s a cycle and in the same way that amplified sound amplifies sound that is amplified, it seemed to cycle in a frenzy and take over normal thought. It seemed to chip away at my mental state to the point where I nearly was forced to go up to my friends and ask, “Wanna travel with me?”

One blink later I was sitting in a crammed train, first class to Nice, France. Me and the three others, who must have felt something of the same abyss, joined me on an epic counter clockwise trek around Europe. I started in the castles “across the pond” in the UK to eventually rendezvous with my three friends soon after. Starting from Lisbon, Portugal we flew to Madrid and moved our way down the Mediterranean via Eurail. These train tracks marked the inevitability of unseen paths as we moved North from a culture-enthused Venice to the quaint heart of Austria and eventually to brilliant mentality that is Germany. Here the lives and places we witnessed became relevant with the rise and fall of 20th century empires. Berlin was soon met with the calming vibes of the Netherlands as we hung our feet off the canals of Amsterdam. From there we ran into the pinnacle glamor of France where priceless treasures and erect monuments stood prolific amongst all else. We would stop in London once more and then dip our feet in the beaches of Tel Aviv to put a period on this journey. For me, I traveled eleven countries in the span of two months taking with me memories that will change me forever.

And yes, we were in awe just about everywhere we went. But of the most visceral moments was the very second we began to leave the city. There was this sudden jerk and then a pull from the power of the vehicle we were stowed in. The engines began to drive forward and from there we knew a different beginning would await us. This pull gave me goosebumps every time but being the sentimental man I am, I never told any of my friends on this trip about that feeling until just now (as they read this with everyone else). From this pull, challenges constantly presented themselves from language barriers, to unfamiliar locations, to internal workings, to housing situations. Despite all this and more, we did more than survive. And with everything so grand, it was important for us to embrace the simple things too: A cup of coffee, a good laugh, an inside joke, a debate on free will, etc. All became features that defined our group. From this bond, our mere friendship turned into a team.

Now that I’m back it seems like a blur. Two months have somehow been condensed into a quick singular event that goes in and out in that oh so familiar abyss. Life is normalizing to the standstill it was before and at the same time somehow becoming more and more complicated. This paradox leaves me busy as I’m forced to adapt every second to a new condition in the same place. It’s pleasing, essential, and tedious all at the same time. I suppose that’s the nature of adulthood, isn’t it?

In the same way one might internally feel the crashing of waves on the shoreline after a day on the beach, I still feel that pull of the engines starting up. I have flashbacks, like a shell shocked soldier might, to specific moments of the prior months at travel. A specific song or a similar looking structure may trigger the time I people-watched at San Polo Square in Venice. A certain whiff of a smell caught simmering out of a kitchen may remind me of the best omelette I ever had at a diner in Cannes. Sometimes I force myself to pretend that the staircase I’m currently climbing is the lateral challenge of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, or the Berliner Dom, or even the Eiffel Tower. It feels so silly as I type it but at the same time keeps me motivated in strange ways to move forward. As of now, forward means going back. But here lies another paradox: I want to go back, yes? The world is moving forward, though. It’s progressing in ways that will leave particular lands unrecognizable when I come back. For example: In Spain, our parents advised us not to spend too much time in Valencia for too long. Their reference was 20-30 years old. We’d learn in the one day we had scheduled for the city, there was an entire science district along with a winding park all throughout that practically marked this newfound significance of the city. It’s daunting to think of all the advances that I must make before reverting back to travel, for the world is changing and so must you.

We’re all continuously moving forward, though…Well most of us anyway. And those who don’t typically fall into barbaric states of chaos leading to violence and other times suicide and sometimes both but ultimately cause death and a water-rippling effect of negativity. And it’s sad. We can all dwindle on such notions but the real takeaway is that while there is all this ugliness, we still have the pull to move forward in ways that other species cannot. We move forward in plans. We move forward in connection. We move forward in projects that we take on. All this combined leads to passion and culture which are the pinnacle reasons why humanity has prevailed to this point. Our world seems to get uglier and uglier but so did the world 70 years ago when our grandparents worried too. Kaleidoscoping down the timeline, their grandparents also worried about the seemingly awful world and so on and so forth. But they prevailed, kept close those what mattered, and shot for a thriving existence. Ultimately, this initial fear of the general masses make us human. It’s a repetition that’s a macro-trait of our history and while the repetition of fear generally is bad, this one is beautiful. If we didn’t have fear, there’d be nothing worth embracing. We’re so afraid that we force ourselves to cherish the sites of beat down ruins merely for the sake that Julius Caesar might have stood there. The insignificant suddenly becomes significant and all nihilistic notions gain color and insight. Yes, the looming abyss of stillness exists but so does the pull which makes that abyss an advantage to the human experience. For the short time that we have on this Earth, we must continue and that is what I learned on this trip.

 

Switches

Blade of light

 

I finally made it to the end of this chapter, turning off the lights as I leave this vast room. I can’t help but feel proud for the glimmering glow it exudes; so filled with life and purity yet flawed and so complete:

 

There rests the place I ate bagels every morning. A Pavlovian response made me crave every sesame seed. Battered in cream cheese, my mornings began promising with a new sense of hope for each day. A clean slate to redefine my name sought beyond that cafe. It’s a light in itself but it’s time to go, so I flip off that switch.

In that parking lot, I learned to skateboard. The flat ground and vacant nights led for perfect opportunities to soar throughout the parking spaces. A free freshman gliding at what felt like a thousand miles per hour via four wheels screwed onto a plank of wood. Granted I had more flattened rears than triumphs but the sense of release and liberty is unparalleled to any other transportation. It’s a light in itself but it’s time to go, so I flip off that switch.

At this bird’s nest, I could see my whole school. I had a few monumental moments on that lookout. Some were mere rock bottom defeats and others were complete triumphs to savor for the ages. I’ll spare you the details, but know that – like a snake – I shed flawed and naive skins for stronger and more adequate armor. It’s a light in itself but it’s time to go, so I flip off that switch.

Off campus, there was an outdoor alleyway filled with murals and art that beckoned for social justice and progress; truly a diamond in the rough. It was the ever changing treasure of such a drab atmosphere. What a metamorphosis it underwent throughout the years I lived here! Just like me, most traits changed and the remaining kept it whole. It’s a light in itself but it’s time to go, so I flip off that switch.

There was another place off campus that I fell in love with. A hotel downtown had these gorgeous glass elevators that raised you high enough to kiss the clouds. This pleasant view didn’t come at no expense, though. Security made it so that you needed a key to ascend to those heights… so I snuck in with posh clothing every time just to be launched into heaven. The city was perfect up there. It’s a light in itself but it’s time to go, so I flip off that switch.

Let us never forget that you didn’t have to venture through the city to escape. I suppose now is as good of a time as any to rant about the epic moments of my house. From broken windows, to newly beaten records, to won drinking games, to cherished women, to inebriated heart-to-hearts, to mournful hangovers that sliced your brain open and gnawed at your digestive tract, we escaped. It’s a light in itself but it’s time to go, so I flip off that switch.

There are thousands of other switches I could tell you about. This glimmering room is filled with them from head to toe. I should properly end this with my favorite sunset: I’ve seen many sunsets before, but the first time a sunset ever really diminished all other thoughts outside of that sight was off this beach about a mile away from my house. With our coronas and good cheer, we sat on the sandy hill as the waves nonchalantly rolled in. It was the first time something from nature made me shed a tear of joy. It’s a light in itself but it’s time to go, so I flip off that switch.

 

The room is pitch black now. The electric hum that kept this place alive is now gone, leaving that hollow isolated feeling that comes from such haunting silence. I grin while holding back a tear. I have to leave all of this behind me. The day dawns. The chapter concludes. It’s a cold limbo of unguided independence. But there’s books worth of chapters out there to open. New views full of unseen sunsets from around the world to savor! New heat and new places for me to transform and turn myself inside out. New air to frolic in, in the most unabashed of fashions. No matter how addicting looking back is, I simply will have to switch.

I Made You Laugh Tonight

I’ve heard somewhere that the life of an infant doesn’t begin until it laughs for the first time. I wholeheartedly believe in that. In some ways, though, that first symbolic breath of life isn’t enough in my opinion. The other half of that life  should be fulfilled by the drive to make others laugh.

So you’re an infant, right? And cells are born and molecules transfer and you build up to becoming a young adult, right? (Because science) What happens at this stage is you realize just how awkward and weak we humans are. We’re so weak that in any given moment of phenomenon consisting of irony or well-placed timing (humor), we rely on a burst of energy expelled out in rapid bursts of air (laughter) to change chemical imbalances in ourselves (general moods). We are reliant on humor… and long story short, humor drives the very chemical imbalance that we call love.

Well, I made you laugh tonight. What a sweet blessing! And I’d do it all again and again and again just to see the dimples deepen and the corners of your eyes sharpen. You see, we had our flings on break and journeyed into the night. Among chirping crickets and howling coyotes our lips touched in the most sweetening ways; An adventure you’d close your eyes for.

Young love. In the simplest of fashions, that’s what it was. Now you’re off being smart. Now I’m off being artsy. I’m about to travel and you’re about to wander the world. What more could either of us ask? But I’ll tell you what, Jericho’s wrath, I’ll see you soon. I promise you that. And when I do, it’ll be a promise to myself to make you laugh that night.

That’s a future goal, you see. It was so rich in the present. And as I live on to see more sunrises and sunsets amongst the vast horizons of our world, I’ll remember the most true of these accounts: I made you laugh tonight.

I run.

One night, in the blinding darkness of a seemingly infinite road, I marched in sync, and beckoned to myself:

Get up and run, Chaz.

Talking to yourself gets you through it.

It’s time to run. It’s time to run.

They’re coming:

The particular woman who seduce your pride and tarnish it.

The particular men who seek deviously into your generosity.

Think of their lack of mercy.

It’s time to run. It’s time to trim the fat off these agendas.

Pick a direction, and run!

 

So I chose my direction. I ran towards them!