January 2, 2016
Happy New Year, Matthew.
Today I ate silk worms.
That is all.
January 2, 2016
Happy New Year, Matthew.
Today I ate silk worms.
That is all.
January 12, 2016
David Bowie has died.
In my mind, he is one of the most complex men in recent history: bawdy, thoughtful, talented, wild. To say “he was a good man” would be to completely strip him of any artistic credibility. He didn’t need to be a good man. He was the space oddity, the man who fell to earth.
He was a legend.
January 15, 2016
Last night I had a dream that I was training to be a wrestler. It seems like I wasn’t very good at it, but I got to meet The Undertaker. He tried to help me with the fundamentals.
If I were a real wrestler, I would call myself The Postman. I would come to the ring in the traditional uniform of a postal worker, and I would carry a mail bag full of different foreign objects. My finishing move would be a pun about mail, something like the “Overnight Delivery” or something like that. I’m not too crazy about that name, so we will work on that. Anyways, it would involve the top turnbuckle. Maybe a jackknife suplex.
Maybe this dream was a sign that it is time for a career change. I need to start training harder, if that’s the case. I also need to figure out where to get steroids. I’ve always wondered what they were like.
Irascere ob rem gravem,
February 3, 2016
Right now I am simultaneously reading Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. There is quite a contrast in style, and there is also quite a contrast in tone. There is also a difference of opinion in what is considered to be moral conduct, morality, and good and evil.
In Middle Earth, good and evil are well-defined. Evil knows it is evil, and is quite unrepentant. Evil is determined to ride that torpedo all the way to the end, knowing full well it is responsible for corruption and destruction. Even the characters who outwardly pretend to be good know that they are evil. For example, the Master of Laketown. He has such a thinly-veiled persona that you can tell that even he doesn’t believe his own crap.
And good is good is freaking GOOD. Again, it is clear. Characters are humble. Characters are brave. Characters overcome fears. They say they are sorry. They drop age-old prejudices. Good is good is freaking GOOD.
Then, there’s Westeros. In Book One, all you want is to see Tyrion take a dive through the moon door and have somebody chop off Jamie’s smug head. You sympathize with the oafish, drunken king, because he is surrounded by conspirators and were it not for such rampant ambition, he might be left alone to be an ineffectual king in a post-war era of peace, the likes of which history will ultimately speak kindly. However, by Book Three your eyes turn misty as Jamie tells the troop to turn around and go fetch Brienne, you are hoping dearly that Tyrion knows of a way to knock his demon-spawn nephew off of his pedestal, and you curse the idiots who elevated Robert Baratheon to his ill-fated position.
Because life isn’t that simple, Matthew. I love The Lord of the Rings, because all loose ends are ultimately tied. I’m not quite finished with the series, but the author cleans up neatly after himself as he goes along. There are no loose threads, simply a good-old-fashioned linear story line with a clear-cut conflict and almost painfully apparent sides.
Meanwhile, in Westeros, you find yourself oddly sympathetic of Theon Greyjoy. After all, no man deserves such humiliation. The systematic emasculation, however, of certain characters seems more the style of Martin. He doesn’t just let a bad guy die. He makes them suffer. He gives them such a bruising that you are left to pity them. You want to pick them up and brush them off. They’ve been taken down more pegs than a normal human can even be taken down. They’ve suffered in ways that you wouldn’t even wish upon your enemies.
And let’s call it what it is: regardless of what happened to them, Jamie and Theon are bad guys. My thoughts on the line between sympathy and pity are unflinchingly rigid: sympathy is reserved for victims, while pity is designated for those who have dug their own grave. Perhaps Jamie and Theon were merely pawns in this colossal game, but I don’t like going too far down that road of thought, simply because I know that the author is daring me to do so, and Tolkien is insisting that I ignore that impulse.
I’ve alluded to wanting my own story to end like Lord of the Rings (informed by the film and not yet by the completion of the novels, just so we are clear). However, the farther I go down this road, the more I realize the duality of man. As much as I want to fight it, even my own duality is shining through so brightly that it leaves me more than just a little shocked. Some days my trail song is “Road Goes Ever On,” and some days only “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” will suffice.
I must admit, though, that coming to terms with my own duality certainly has done well to curtail the anger I’ve felt for some time towards the people at this job. I think most of them are barely hanging on, and I also think that they see their own duality as well, but are either too powerless or too far down that road to change. There are days where I feel like Petyr Baelish and just want to step on their heads to get to the top, while other days I feel like the High Sparrow and I just want to save them from themselves. However, there are also days where the quiet life of a ranger seems most suitable.
And please don’t get me started on how much I envy those happy-go-lucky hobbits. If only life were that simple, Matthew…
Because life is Game of Thrones. We can strive for a Lord of the Rings ending, so long as we realize that our best laid plans are absolutely flawless until our threads become intertwined. I think that is the whole point of Game of Thrones. Threads don’t always come together to form a nice, pretty rope. They get tangled, they get frayed, they snap, and they even get discarded when it seems they are no longer serviceable.
Who am I in the grand scheme of things? Why, I’m just a bastard. I’m just a baseborn son with no name to elevate me. I’m more a Game of Thrones character than one from Lord of the Rings, and I make no bones about who and what I am. However, if Game of Thrones has taught me one thing, nobody is nobody unless they choose to be.
February 19, 2016
I’m an asshole to the people in my office. There is a Thai man who notoriously dislikes Americans, and I fuck with him all of the time. When he falls asleep at his desk, I take pictures of him and show the boss. When he isn’t there, I throw my trash on his side of the room. When I take the last of the hot water, I don’t refill the pitcher. I also unplug his phone and his printer. I like watching his confusion.
Because he’s an asshole. He doesn’t like foreigners. He doesn’t think the school needs us. And he’s fucking obnoxious to boot. He never covers his mouth when he sneezes, he has very loud phone conversations, he lets my class out fifteen minutes or more late at least once a week. The good news, however, is that a Thai person will never confront you. They’ll just bitch about you and write angry letters to the director. I think we are both perfectly satisfied with this arrangement.
So how are you?
19 June 2016
At least four times a week when I am at the gym, I see an Indian man riding his bicycle. He often passes the gym two or three times. The bicycle has two baskets, one on the front, and one on the back. In those baskets, he always has bags of rice. A determined look is chiseled into his face as he pedals onward.
This man fascinates me, Matthew. What is he doing? Where is he going? Why does he carry bags of rice?
Maybe he is exercising. Maybe he’s trying to sell the rice. Maybe he is being punished. Maybe he is blindly following orders. Maybe the rice is magical. Maybe the rice is poison. Maybe he is planting the rice in secret places. Maybe he’s a weirdo. Maybe he buys and sells rice, and it is always a different bag. Maybe he is a wizard. Maybe he is an idiot.
The fact that I will probably never know what this man is doing bothers me.
july 26, 2016
last night, I had a dream that I was at a restaurant with my family, but my stepfather refused to let me have any food. i’ve had a lot of dreams about my stepfather since his death, more than I would like to admit. it bothers me greatly, because they are all either violent or upsetting. for example, i’ve been shot by him in a dream. i’ve been stabbed in the gut by him in a dream. i’ve also been taunted by him in a dream. what’s worse is that I can never do anything to him. in one of my dreams I shouted at him and told him what a piece of shit he was, and this was the only dream where I seemed able to defend myself at all.
you don’t need freud to understand these dreams. I have a deeply-rooted resentment against this man. my stepfather, not freud. try as I might to forgive and let go, he is responsible for my lingering cowardice and self-doubt. I hated him so much that I moved halfway across the world, knowing full well I would never see him again. I wanted it that way. I knew from a very early age that I would never care for him and never care about him.
in his death, he was absolved, but I suppose that scar tissue remains. I do not think about him from day to day. hell, I try not to think about my family at all in spite of my mother’s terminal cancer. it’s all poetic to me. this is almost like a bible story from the old testament.
but last night’s dream brings an important issue to light: inheritance. I keep thinking of all the ways that I could be screwed out of what my mother has left for me in her will. it’s supposed to be a 50-50 deal, with a life insurance policy, a home with the value of roughly a quarter of a million, and whatever savings she may have, split between my brother and i.
let me contextualize this a bit.
my mother was very vocal about hating my stepfather’s parents. in the years leading up to their passing, she quite openly announced that she could not wait for them to die. clearly she felt she was owed something, because before grandmother was in the ground that entire side of the family was rifling through her belongings. even though that grandmother hated me, I seemed to be the only one with any respect or sympathy for the departed. I felt it was in poor taste for everyone to just go ripping through her house, and it was exacerbated by my parents showing up with a moving van full of shit that I didn’t want.
and they got their money. nobody knows how much, but my parents paid off all their bills and moved into a nice home in minnesota, making an enormous down payment in a private neighborhood. but what happened? after only a few years my stepfather croaked, and my mother fell terminally ill. like I said, brother, bible story.
so here we are, present day. though we don’t say it to each other, my brother and i are both keeping tabs on my mother’s illness like vultures. we’ve both got our plans for the money, though mine are a bit more urgent that my brother’s. I won’t get into the particulars, but my money would basically clear up my student loan debt and enable me to take a little bit more control over my life.
and that, dear friend, is the real meaning of the dream.
i’ve never had any control. i’ve always been deprived by my family. I sat back and watched my family give my brother everything, while I could scarcely get a handout half of the time. I was always treated like a bastard, and even though I moved halfway around the world, I am still trapped in the family drama. honestly, I don’t want to lose my mother. I want the poetic reckoning. i’m content to pay my bills down myself.
but I know it isn’t going to happen, and that is why I am so uptight about it all. i’ll just go ahead and say it: I want that fucking money, and I absolutely hate myself for it. there is a part of me that simply wants to work my way out of this debt on my own. there is a part of me that knows I deserve all the silly shit that happens to me, and I want to pay the man for all the bullshit I have done. however, the other side of me says I deserve that fucking money and the chance at a clean slate.
I don’t know how it is going to turn out, but I will admit to the suspicions I hold. my brother is trying to play the pious one, an act that has worked so well in the past. my parents could not lift a finger to help me at so many stages when I was struggling, and when they did throw me a bone I would look over at my brother getting free vehicles and his rent paid in spite of an ignominious failure to launch.
ah, but when has rumination solved anything?
i’m sick of the dreams, though. I have a stepfather dream at least once a month, and have since his death. they’re violent and extremely dark. even though he is dead and buried, that man still manages to affect me.
october 31, 2016
my mother died today.
nov 4 2016
today i had my first normal bowel movement in weeks. perhaps i have begun the process of letting go.
and there’s a lot to let go. not just poop. there is a metric ton of resentment that i still hold. i hate that i’ve stayed wounded all of this time. it has undoubtedly stunted my growth.
this will be my last day off from work. i’m thankful to have been afforded the time to just stay away and do some thinking. it’s not like my job actually needs me, but until i find more suitable conditions, i still have to go to this building and repeat a set of tasks.
so today… i suppose i will hit the gym early and then take a walk over to my favorite vegetarian restaurant. there’s not much to do while i wait on my girlfriend to come over tomorrow, so i will probably just kill time by catching up with television.
sorry for being so candid about my bodily functions.
actually no i’m not.
December 21, 2016
I’ve always held back my words until my mother died. In one way or another, even in private journals never seen by another soul, I have never fully let loose my words and thoughts. Sure, a lot of my writing has been quite brash and open, but believe it or not the earliest letters were all written as if she was looking over my shoulder. Even my discussions online, no matter how well-intended, are always heavily edited.
I’m glad I can stop doing that.
Do I miss my mother? Of course I do. I’ve missed her for a quarter of a fucking century, even when she lived an hour away. I’ve missed her ever since the old man got that life-changing injury and she started pegging me with dishes. But I do not miss at all the idea that even on paper I have to alter who I am because one day she’s gonna come snooping around and find naughty words.
I’m trying my best not to have a ton of outbursts and go all sideways. Tomorrow is my last day of teaching for an entire month. The kettle is boiling and there’s nothing that can be done except to take me off the burner. I’ve simply had enough. I need to process my mother’s death and move on.
In the meantime, may God judge her fairly and with compassion.