Sunday, March 19, 2006

Adventures and other Good Times

So we all have them...the "good old days" or in my case (since I'm not old) the "good times." For me, it was 2003. That was a damn good year. I was working at a small bookstore (i.e. free books and magazines). I liked the people I worked with. I was in the middle of my Community College career--this meant that I had shaken the first semester fears...but I hadn't gotten burned out yet. I had a steady girlfriend, who actually treated me good. I wasn't fighting with my parents. I didn't have a huge car payment. My cousin was in some of my classes, and we hung out. I was in a Creative Writing class, and was doing a lot of writing. I won a couple of writing awards. Summer at the theme park and zoo. Sitting on the back porch sun tanning.

Life was good. But did I realize it? Hell no. That's how it goes. It's not until the good times are done and over that we realize what we had (and how good it was). I used to want to go back to those times, I even tried to re-live this period of my life...but to no avail. Recently, I closed another chapter of my life...and I'm finding that I'm suffering from a bout of "good old days" syndrome. I miss my old job, my friends in KC, the money, staying up late. I was driving home from my girlfriends house tonight, and I switched on the radio. "Coast to Coast AM" was on, I'm listening to in now in my dorm room...hearing it has brought back a flood of memories.

Lately I've been missing my old life, even though I'm where I am specifically because I wanted to escape all that. I don't regret my decision, it was time to leave and end that chapter...but I still can't help but think back to the past 2 years and be a little whistful.

I'm pretty sure that right now...I'm living in another golden age. Another "good time." Part of me is glad (I like good times, after all) but part of me is sadden by this knowledge...because I know these good times have one simple rule: THEY DON'T LAST.

Now that I think about it, I've had some really interesting adventures over the past few years. The people I've met, the things I'd done and's almost too much for me sometimes. I worry sometimes I'm going to bite off more than I can chew...but thankfully that never seems to happen. Like a lot of young people (young men are really bad about this) I yearn for adventure. All the while I sit and wish for excitment and adventure to fuel my creativity, I neglect to notice that I'm smack dead in the middle of some strange, wonderful...bizarre shit. Knee deep in it.

So, being the big brother that I am...let me give anyone who bothers to read this some advice. And it's this: Don't sit and wish for what's come and gone. The "good old days" are dead and gone. At the time you were busy yearing for something else...chances are good that where you are right now is just as good (or even better). Stop and smell the roses, and enjoy the ride. ALSO, I think that adventure is around us if you take the time to open your eyes and notice it. Think about all the people you've met, the ones that touched your life...meant the world to you for a brief period of time...then parted ways with you. How many people I wonder, have I touched? Does anyone out there wonder what ever happened to that crazy kid? That crazy kid still sits. And wonders.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Do we dream of the future, or do our dreams make the future?

I guess it's a bit of a paradox. You know what a paradox is, don't you? It's the chicken vs. the egg debate. It's God vs. Darwin. The "Back to the Future" movie series is chock full o' paradox (or paradoxes, what is the plural for this word?). Anyway, I think this question is really telling...the way people answer it.

Is the future preordained or can we make our own future? Me, I'm a bit of a pessimist. I think there are a couple dozen paths, individuals make a key decision and are thus set onto a certain path. So life is a "choose your own adventure" book. Remember those?

If you decide to change your major, go to page 104.
If you decided to stay a history major, to to page 13.

Those books were always fun, but no matter what I did...I always died. Back to my point, I think that over the past semester and a half I have made some key decisions. I don't know how it'll all turn out in the end, but I can tell I'm making choices that are going to have serious consequences (either good or bad I can't really tell). Part of me is sad that I'm not going to graduate with a degree that'll make me a ton of money. Then this other part of me wants to get out of school and do all sorts of risky things that probably won't make me a whole hell of a lot of money, but be really fun.

Which reminds me, this weekend I have to get back to working on my book.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Used Property

They're sort of "blink and you'll miss them" moments--birth and death. With the exception of a small minority, most of us don't enter or leave the world with a bang. If you're reading this, then half of your mission is complete (unless ghosts can read). But that's a whole different topic.

No, today's post is all about death and dying. I'd like to say I made this question up all on my own, but actually a classmate gave it to me earlier this week. Here it is: do you think it's possible to read all the good books there are before you die?

Being the pessimist that I am, I rephrase this sentence as: Don't you think it's sad that it's impossible to read all the really good books there are before you die? Oh sure, I think it's possible, even easy--if people stopped writing books. But since they won't (or maybe they can't) stop, you're going to constantly trying to keep up with man's output. Sure, maybe only one or two really awesome books are written a year...but unless you came out of the womb reading you're not even in the game until you reach first grade. Even then, most people don't appreciate or have the patience for books until High School (or later). Face it, it's hopeless. Even if they stopped writing good books, and lets say you came out of momma reading the works of Marlowe and still have a huge pile of thick books to read. The average person couldn't do it.

No, it's impossible.

I like books that have writing in them. Not intrusive, word covering graffiti...just the gentle signature at the front. Maybe an occasional, insightful note here or there. I sat in English literature today, and traced a pretty girls words over in pen. At least, I think she was pretty. Her handwriting was beautiful. All over Shakespeare's sonnets, this girl had written little epiphanies and exclamations. "This poem is about STD's" (it wasn't my teacher assured us). Little hearts floating in a sea of swirling pencil strokes.

Books that are old and written in seem more real to me. They have a history. I went through a phase where I added my name to the title page of every book I read. I'd put the date I started the book and the date I finshed the book. I like buying used books online, sometimes you get little tid bits of other peoples lives. I bought a copy of C.S. Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters." It was great, some lady had her name in the cover...another name written above hers. This book had traveled, seen more of the world than I have (probably). It's buried in my room back home somewhere. I'm sure it'll find it's feet again and someday see more of the world at large.

A lot of things are like that, if you stop and think about it. Old cars and old houses are like characters in sprawling epics. The scene changes, but that one character is there through it all. The old chevy that changes hands a hundred times. How many people concieved in it's backseat? How many people took their last drives behind it's cold wheel? Houses are even worse, people can die in them without the exterior getting all smashed up. You don't know you're buying a murder house or suicide house unless you specifically ask. Go ahead, next time you visit a house that's for sale, as the relator if anyone's bit the big one inside. Go ahead, see what she says.

Books, cars, and houses as characters. Death before you can read every good book. And people actually think TV is more exciting than real life. Please.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"Well I tell them there are no problems/only solutions"

Yesterday I was watching the wheels go round and round. Two nasty bits of legislation prompted a semi-heated debate with a person I'm close to. It doesn't really matter who it was, or what the legislation was all about. The conversation was cathartic--and sadly revealing. What happened to hope? What happened to belief in democracy? I fucking hate Nixon. This whole mess is his fault. Well, not really...but the nation's morale problem is certainly his fault.

The crux of the converstaion was: if XYZ passed I'm going to COUNTRY B. At first, this seemed resonable to me. You can't fight city hall. Vote with your feet, right out of the country. But then I thought, what would the world be like if Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had decided "the hell with it" and left for Canada? These people didn't flee from the system when it was broken--they fought hard, and fixed things.

If something in your world isn't right, I think you have a responsability to fix it. Right now, and probably until the end of time, the world is messed up. The only reason it's so messed up is because no one is really doing much about it. Why? Because the problems are so big, and you and I are so small. But imagine if 1/2 the world sat up tomorrow and said "the hell with this, I'm done playing this's time for change." What if soldiers everywhere simply put down their guns and walked home? What would happen if people everywhere made sure everyone was properly fed and clothed? What would happen if...

I don't think there is anything wrong with the world that people couldn't fix. Would the world ever be perfect? No, that's impossible. But the higher you aim, the higher you'll go. Go ahead, aim low...and you'll shoot low...and you'll reach a low goal.

The next time you are presented with an opprotunity to help someone, you should do it. I'm not talking about charity. Charity is just another part of the problem. It's not about what you're able to do, but what you're able to give. Not money, but feelings of goodwill. People get so wrapped up in their own private drama...that they forget that there are other people. That SUV on the highway, that's full of people. With hopes and dreams, people who love them. We forget that, we get blinders. All we see is an obstacle, something to overcome and pass on the road to where we're going.

But how important is the destination? Not very. Someday, the road will end for each of us. That's what people forget. There is no final destination, other than oblivion. We run head first through the bits we're supposed to be enjoying and seeing. The world needs to take a breather, stop and decide what's important and what's triviality.

If you don't like poverty, disease, murder, drugs, abortion, death penalty, greed, theft....whatever, instead of rushing ahead guns blazing--stop and think. I am against drugs. Instead of wasting time and money going after drug dealers, we should try and create a world where people won't want to abuse drugs. Build better schools, with drug awareness programs. Refurbish the decaying parts of town. Give young people role models that are against Be someone's mentor. Lead by example. That sounds like that will never work, and it won't...not 100%. But if people were really serious about getting rid of drugs, that's the way they should do it. Drug dealers can only exist as long as there are people buying drugs. Parents should love their kids more, spend more time with them. Turn the TV off, actually talk to them. Sit down, eat dinner with them.

People always want to make the solution so complex, so difficult. It's really quite easy. Easier, at least, that it would seem. People are like dominos, it would only take a few people working very hard to topple the whole lot--and send this planet's problems crashing down.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Yeah, so tonight's the OSCARS. Big deal, right? Entertainment is boring me. Mindless drivel, spewed from the mouths of the rich and famous. Souless, pointless, defective merchandise--you can't return it.

When I was a kid, it seemed like the movies were bigger and better. I'm not exactly sure what happened, I think the biggest change occured within myself (and not actually in Hollywood).

I was sitting with some friends, one of them had this chick with him...some girl...she's thinking about coming to my school (good choice....right?). Anyway, she's kinda in my field (but no one I think is in my tree...I mean, I must be high or low?). Needless to say, she thinks she's hot shit. God's gift to the reading public. I can't really comment on that, because I've never read anything she's written, but she made me sick. This is an apporximation of her philosophy: "I don't care about anything, just as long as I entertain people." I think the world (okay, mainly just the Western part of it) has a major glut of "entertainment." I think that her attitude is echoed by the rest of the creative community. Sick, sick, sick.

The Bible is really just a book of morals and parables wrapped in an enertaining story. That's what the world needs right now, that's what people need. The synthesis of morality and storytelling. I don't just want to entertain people. I think that only leads to shallow, worthless art. It's sit coms nobody remembers in 10 years. It's gameshows, Prom Queens, ice cream sandwhiches sitting out in the hot sun. How sweet and good tasting it is at the time...but with no shelf life. What will people 10 years from now revisit from this time period? "American Idol" and "Bad Boys II"? I think not.

People don't like to be preached at. I know this, I'm not stupid. But there are real problems in this world, and I don't think the entertainment "industry" (which is probably one of the all-time stupidest phrases ever) is missing a chance to do more than make a quick buck. The chance to change peoples hearts and minds-to change the being wasted. A few movies ("Good Night, and Good Luck") made by a few brave people are challenging what mass media can do.

I used to write popcorn stories. The sort of thing kids like--I thought that that's what I'd be producing as a writer. But I can't do that, not anymore. Somewhere there is a balance...I just have to find it.

Wish me well on my midterms.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What's been up with Me?

Well it's been just a little while since I've posted anything on here. I'd like to say it's because I've been having sooo much fun...but honestly, I've been really, really busy. Next week I have my Midterms...I've been writing a couple of papers. I've been reading so much my eyes are bleeding (I need to finish "The Tempest" before this weeked). I had a Spanish test earlier this week. Also, me and my girlfriend are addicted to this game I borrowed from a dude down the hall called "Shadow of Colossus" (too cool for words, you ride around killing huge monsters).

So what's up with my novel? I worked on it Saturday night/Sunday morning last week. I wrote about three pages and realized I needed to do a revision before I went any further. So, I started rewriting the first 30 pages (I'm on page 12). Everything is coming out much better the second time around! This weekend is going to be CRAZY!!!!

My sister is coming in from Kansas between that and my Midterm on Monday (study, study, study) I probably won't get around to working on it anytime soon. That said, I'm still really excited about it, and I can't wait to get back to working on it (still, 30 pages in about a week is good for someone going to school full time). That's all for now...