Should Have Known Better

It's Just A Shot Away

The Arabic word for the dish translated into “rice and sauce:” so easy. Whatever type of sauce you want to create, served over rice. Typically tomato based, typically seasoned with curry and cumin, typically consisting of some sort of green veggie. You don’t even need a variety of vegetables. Just one hearty vegetables that isn’t always in season tossed in with some variation of semi-thickened sauce, simmered for 20 minutes, before being spooned atop Basmati. Despite the simplicity, it’s satisfying in a way that feels like home.

Halfway through the second serving, I swap it out for the oversized glass of Moonspell cabernet sauvignon teasing me on the table. This time last week we were making the trek out to Rutherford, New Jersey. Certainly every L train passenger could smell the gin from my 16 oz. bottle of Sprite, would understand why if they were also going to MetLife Stadium to see The Rolling Stones: a roadie pregame is a must.

It was the summer of seeing the original rock & roll stars before they die.

Tonight, though, we had a Mick Jagger 50 years younger on the television screen in front of us, exuberant showmanship, as security bounced young women crawling on the stage to get to him.

“I wonder who is Mick Jagger now? If I were a parent who would I think was no good for my kids to be listening to? Is it Justin Bieber?”

My patience for his first suggestion nonexistent, highly based in bias. Neither of us could accept living in a future (or present, for that matter) where J Biebz became immortalized akin to Mick Jagger.

So we thought about it some more: what musician could change the world in the same way that The Stones did? Or The Beatles? Or The Dead? We contemplated the question, adamant to find the answer for the sake of our generation.

My eyes remained on Gimme Shelter, part concert film/part time capsule of an end of an era, widely regarded as the greatest rock film of all time. Distracted, I let the words slip out of my mouth.

“Nothing like this will ever happen again. Nobody is authentic anymore because of the internet.”

As I said it, I heard the words I think about so often aloud for the first time. Maybe watching footage of hundreds of thousands of poser hippies flocking to a makeshift stage in the middle of nowhere, out of their minds on LSD that was at least three times stronger than you can get it today, finally allowed an easy venue for vocalization. Maybe witnessing the recording of something that will never happen again made it impossible not to finally (read: reluctantly) accept it.

I thought about Invisible Monsters and Barbary Coast (Later). I thought about Vonnegut and Gertrude Stein. I thought about Jerry Garcia, about “Touch of Grey," about how it all became too much after spending decades as a sage to those waiting to find direction around some corner where it’s been waiting to meet them.

I thought about how one of the Bronte sisters allegedly walked barefoot on one of her sisters’ grave after she died, because she wanted to catch tuberculosis like her sister and die alongside her. I thought about how I couldn’t actually remember if it was Emily who walked barefoot on Charlotte’s grave or the other way around. I highly doubt Anne was involved. I thought about how I could Google it if I really wanted to; I thought about how nobody feels the need to actually remember anything anymore.

Whoogles: A Neologism

Sometimes a sentence comes out of my mouth that is fully coherent, yet in respect to the previous centuries of the English language, makes absolutely no sense. Sometimes I try to explain to the person who just heard me speak grammatically accurate nonsense out loud the extent of how wild it sounds. Oftentimes, they fail to understand the humor behind it.

One notable example that never seems to fully escape my mind comes from my time working in hotels, for a brand that used to allow “preferred guests” to purchase things like tickets to concerts and sports games with the points they accumulated from staying at any of the thousands of global properties under the umbrella brand. The brand called these points “Starpoints” and branded the option for buying event tickets as “experiences.” “You can buy experiences with Starpoints," I would occasionally say during the six-minute brand standard check-in process.

You can buy experiences with Starpoints.

What SuperMario-twilight zone-brand new world am I existing in? Could you imagine saying that sentence to someone 80 years ago? You’d certainly be socially exiled or, at the very least, pressured into seeing an analyst. These sentences that everybody understands, but go against the integrity of the Oxford Dictionary, are multiplying faster than the privately funded start-ups, more rapidly than a viral Tweet. Viral Tweet, that’s another one for you.

My current job is running a luxury coworking space in Brooklyn. A little over a year ago, I got a phone call from a LinkedIn recruiter (...a what? I know). I had just gotten home from work with one hour of downtime before heading to Brooklyn Steel to see Phoenix live and revel in the nostalgic high school litzomania it would bring me. The recruiter was gauging my interest being Community Manager at a coworking space (...a what? I know).

“Um, what exactly is a coworking space?” I ask, although after she started her answer, the concept was far more evident (based on the phrase itself) than most of the technology-era slang. “Oh, like a WeWork?” (...a what? You get it). In that moment, it was unknown to me how often I would be mirroring her patiently annoyed response of "exactly" on an almost daily basis.

As I spend my days explaining the somewhat novel concept of coworking and of what exactly being a community manager entails, I often find myself completely missing the boat on new uses of words. Words I am supposed to understand as a relatively young person. At the age of 27 in 2019, I’m expected to always be plugged in, keeping up, scrolling, following, and posting; therefore, I should understand every new cultural phenomenon so specific to our times and so irrelevant in the greater scope of things. It is often the case, however, that I am not and I do not.

It was over Facebook messenger in 2013 that I asked a friend living in Olympia what exactly the new definition of “basic” meant. I understand that they’re people who wear yoga pants and like pumpkin spice lattes, I typed out in an attempted defense of my intelligence, but I just don’t get it.

"If that’s the case, doesn’t basic just mean basic?"

He explained that I don’t get it because I was overthinking it, my question was already an answer. People just remembered it was a word that existed then hashtagged it enough in context. In doing so, our minds were conditioned into registering the word “basic” synonymous with the tropes the internet wanted us to.

It was in 2018 when I asked aloud, “But what does being canceled mean?”

It’s obvious, too obvious, I know. Think television, the cult classic Freaks and Geeks, for instance, canceled after just one nearly perfect season. The network saw the low numbers of viewers and let the majority opinion make the call. The quality was clearly there, they never would have picked it up to begin with if it wasn’t. The network executives chose to forget or ignore that, though: the numbers played totalitarian dictator for the decision.

Fast forward back into the present, 20 years later, to the time we are currently living in. A time of “cancel culture.” The answer, again, was already what I’d presumed it to be.

"It's when people get mad about something someone does so they decide to cancel them. Like, they’re over. If they want to come back, they have to fall off the grid and usually come back with an apology on social media so they’re forgiven by the social justice warriors or whatever” (...the what? I know).

Think about if you read the previous eight paragraphs, like, thirty years ago. How much of it would actually make sense? Does it even make sense that it makes sense to us now? It’s hard not to sound like somebody who is against progress when posing these questions. It’s hard not to sound like someone who is pretentious or new agey or living in the past.

The thing is, I’m not any of those things (except maybe a bit pretentious), but a lot of people can interpret it that way for the same reason you call someone who shows you their Pinterest boards (...their what? I know) basic. Society at large has spent too much time sipping the “Drink Me’ bottle the internet disguised itself as, attempting to tiptoe but immediately getting lost in the digital rabbit hole.

For me, it all started with the playing Harry Potter trivia on a website, dressing Lizzie McGuire in cool different outfits on a screen, the indescribable thrill of being able to use AIM as a preteen. I fell in love with the phenomenon of being able to torrent (...what?) every song I ever wanted for free, with burning (...what?) that music onto blank compact discs (...what?).

Hours were spent learning how to code (...what?) my own MySpace (...what?) page to create the exact pattern I wanted in the background, carefully choosing my Top 8 (...what?), and presenting to the online community that I was ahead of my time based on the song they’d hear when going onto my page.

I remember my friend urging me to create a Facebook account, and when I refused, he asked if he could create one for me. That’s when the internet transformed from a sometimes useful and a mostly fun commodity to...something else. Whatever that "something else" was never seemed urgent enough to make sense of. I liked being able to “share” my thoughts in “status” form on my “wall” so my “friends” could “like” it (if they so pleased). I could confirm the right words of any song lyrics through typing the title into a search bar. I could go to one website that would let me stumble upon an endless world of websites.

There was a moment though, some point of non-linear time I'll never be able to target or fathom the exactness of, things were suddenly different. It happened with a subtly quick graduality, it was easy to miss.

Sometime in 2010, I knew what a meme was before most people knew what memes were. You found them on Reddit in the form of a repeated phrase or image that was modified for context, or something.

Calendar pages flipped and I was in my late 20’s, listening to someone tell me they saw a meme of…, or being shown a meme of…

The funny thing was that, in my mind, they were using the word “meme’ wrong. It doesn’t apply to literally anything you see copied, slightly modified, and pasted all over the internet. No, no. It’s a very specific set of things you see on the internet in a particular place (mostly Reddit).

Leaves fell upon the sidewalk, the sun started sinking midday, my birthday passed, April teased the city with jacket-free weather, fireworks were momentarily confused for gunshots in the haziness of the summer heat, I realized that I was actually wrong about the definition of a meme.

“A humorous image, video, piece of text, etc, that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.”

How did I forget the definition of a meme? Or did I just miss the evolution of the phenomenon altogether?

It was 2015 when it was obvious I hadn’t stayed tuned to the way the world was swearing by the internet. When I first moved to New York, I had a shitty television from the early 2000's, left behind by the previous tenant, hooked up to basic cable. With my morning routine trademarked by the local news on for background company, I realized the news often cited Twitter, displayed Tweets. When did this start happening? I discovered there was an app where I could listen to the local Tampa NPR station in real time.

I easily navigated the complicated MTA train system by touching a screen that opened an interactive map to tell me exactly where I needed to go and how to get there, so long as I didn’t let my phone die. I could use this map without cell service or phone data before they sprinkled Wi-Fi hotstops throughout the underground tunnels.

I could get a taxi to pick me up from exactly where I was and to take me exactly where I was going (so long as I didn’t let my phone die, either)--a transaction I could pay for without touching money or plastic.

I could take a picture of the check and it would immediately become money available to me.

Donald Trump was running for president and I spent months arguing with my mom on the phone; there was no way he would even win as the Republican candidate.

I witnessed a narcissist start making a video of themselves at Central Park and proceed to post it online, while I was on a date with said narcissist. A Vlog (...a what? I know). [Noteworthy aside: don't think I ever laughed harder at someone in front of them than during this experience. Retrospectively rude on my behalf, but c'mon].

People were getting paid real money for their YouTube videos.

That country chick who sang that song “Love Story’ was one of the biggest pop stars in the world.

Bitcoin found its way off the dark web and into the tech industry.

Media outlets were relying on unreliable sources for content in the form of social media posts, would run with the story, for the sake of content and clicks. A story that often times turned out not to be accurate. Nobody would keep up with it beyond the first headline, would never read more about it, would never see the retraction.

The online war was igniting and every outraged person Googled the Bill of Rights to remember which amendment free speech is listed as. Two cents on the quarter hour, the founding fathers would be proud to see the public availability of endless unthought-through-thoughts.

And here we are now: far too angry, far too sensitive, far too much a replica of everyone else.

America split into two distinct groups of people, a singular dividing factor. A dividing factor that didn’t always create such an impenetrable barrier.

[Honestly, honestly, if you asked me to take a wild guess over what would split America up so drastically in the 2010’s, I probably would have said “Either they like pizza or they don’t like pizza. People who like pizza really like pizza and people who don’t like pizza, well, what’s wrong with them?”]

Here we are, a matrix precursor existence, defined by being able to get an answer to a question within seconds. Oh, you didn’t want that answer? Spend another few seconds and find an answer that best fits the criteria you are looking for.

Self-proclaimed all-knowingness by all, because she read a headline, he regurgitates an opinion he read somewhere, they forgot their point so quickly searched one that seems fitting.

The rise of the internet marked the fall of authenticity.

Let Me Drink On This

I pour what’s left of the wine into our respective glasses, achieving a sommelier level of even distribution, before leaning back and maneuvering back into my couch cuddles coziness. We’re still trying to figure out what present-day musician could be comparable to 60’s era Stones. Once we’ve exhausted the obviously incorrect possibilities, our focus turns to how a band now could ever be so groundbreaking, so world-changing.

We find comfort in knowing there are theoretically ways someone could come along and change everything all over again. Maybe one day we’ll see a band that is more iconic than The Beatles, more mesmerizing than the Dead, more captivating than The Stones. Maybe we’ll get to see them in a tiny venue in Greenpoint before anyone has a clue who they are. Maybe we’ll get the setlist.

I find solace in knowing that I am not alone in spending my adult life subconsciously waiting for the next big thing in music to happen. Maybe our instant connection the night he & I met found its spark in this very specific hope for our lifetimes. My mind is racing, but my body effortlessly is at ease the moment his arm wraps around my shoulder. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratefulness that we found our way to one another.

The funny thing, the plot twist that may not actually be all that surprising, I suppose, is that our “meet cute” (...our what? I know) wasn’t so much that. We met on Tinder (...what? I know). The person who just unpacked why we have ruined humanity by preferring a virtual reality to face to face interactions, our online persona to who we aren’t brave enough to be when not behind a screen. She met her boyfriend on a dating app. This was, of course (or; at the very least), after spending years convincing everyone they’ll never find real love on a dating app.

But when I’m near him, I can actually feel the love between us. Even when I feel like everything around me is crashing down, there’s a tingling electricity that washes over me in his presence that reminds me I’ll never have the answers, but I do someone to remind me not to fall when he thinks I’m about to trip. I put his head on my chest and sip my wine, laughing at how obviously fucked up Mick Jagger is when talking to the press at this point of the documentary.

I feel a comfortable stillness.

It’s simple, it’s wholesome, it’s seeing the first blossoming lilacs in April.

It’s rice and sauce.

 

 
 
 
 
 

Fast Passes; Or, The Line That Never Was

One of my friends once told me something he had learned from one of his teachers at UCB who had the honor of having Tiny Fey as a guest teacher of the class, or maybe the teacher had Tina Fey as a teacher for an entire UCB course, or maybe my friend had Tina Fey as a guest teacher at one of his classes. One of the aforementioned could be the accurate recollection of the how my friend had learned the something he once told me. It is definitely one of the aforementioned, but could be any of the above. Take your pick, choose your own adventure of which version you want to believe to be the source. I’ll confirm next time I see him and if it is really driving you up a wall, let me know and I will give you the background of where I got this second-hand advice, which is really only second-hand in the manner in which it has been passed down to me. It is in no way second-hand in the quality of the message, because it is something that I think about all the time.

According to my friend, Tina Fey once told a group of UCB students, and very likely others, that writing is like a muscle, and that you have to make use of it every day to keep it strong. Basically being good at writing is just like being good at all the sports things, you have to stick with it frequently to build it up and be awesome at it. Now, I may be misquoting the comedy queen Tina Fey, and I may also just be regurgitating something someone heard from someone else and said Tina Fey said it, but that could have been a complete lie for bragging rights. I hope she said it, and even if she hadn’t, I am grateful to have had this message passed along to me from someone I regard highly as a friend, a creative, and a genuine human being.

I guess what you’re thinking now is what is the point of me being an unreliable narrator to state something that probably seems obvious? Because even though I think about this piece of advice so often, I still forget it. Like so many things I remember so often and think about so often in moments of inspiration and ambition, it slips away from me with a pang of guilt similar to when I drop my phone on the concrete. The pang of guilt comes from the same place: being scatterbrained, being distracted, losing mindfulness because too much stimulus is muddying the waters of my clarity. I desperately hope my ability to write hasn’t been lost in the routine like I desperately hope I haven’t cracked the phone screen I have spent $300 replacing three times in the past five months. It’s hard to be a writer, it’s hard to be a person.

The guilt surfaces often in the form of the reason I moved to NYC: “I wanna be a writer.” *read quotation in most obnoxious, naive voice possible* To be fair to myself, I have been told I am a good writer, so the naivety isn’t that naive. As far as the obnoxious thing goes, that’s just the sound of my voice. That’s a factor I no longer feel guilty about, have learned to live with and to mock myself accordingly. But it is unsettling to think about the fact that I moved to New York to be a writer and I’m not quite that yet, right? Do I write? Yes. That’s important. Am I working as hard as I can toward my goal? I don’t think so. Because life happens.

I used to write more before getting my new job, but it is a cost-benefit analysis. At my old job, I worked nights and weekends. My social life was limited. I stayed up until daybreak for no reason because I could, because I had no reason to wake up early and needed to sleep in a bit to be awake and working until 11pm. The upside was, as all night owls know, a true creative thrives when the rest of the world is counting sheep and not remembering their dreams. The upside of getting my new job is I wake up with the sun instead of staying awake to greet the soft morning light slowly creeping into my bedroom. I have to go to sleep at a reasonable hour or else I am useless the next day. I also decided to finish my education, which takes up a lot of my free time. I still try to do cool shit because if I am not living in NYC to fulfill my dream as a writer, may as well do all the cool shit I can when I can, right? Sometimes right, and sometimes I guess that’s something that pangs me with guilt.

So why I am I writing now, almost 1am on a Wednesday night/Thursday morning when I have to wake up in six hours if we are being generous with my sleeping in and less generous with my appearance? Mostly because today I have to write after having an interaction with someone at work. He told me he wakes up early to write before work, about how we were all so thrilled about the unseasonably warm weather we had on February 4th and 5th; however, we forget that nature depends on the consistency of seasons. Quite like a great work of art depends on the consistency of the creator. He didn’t add that last part, I did.

He also said something I found thought provoking, when asking me how my day was going. I told him my day was good (which wasn’t a fabricated good), and that I struggle through Mondays and Tuesdays, but once Wednesday hits everything seems easier. He responded with something you may have heard that I surprisingly haven’t: on the calendar after Monday and Tuesday comes WTF. That’s funny. That’s not the most clever thing I’ve ever heard, but I unpacked it in my own cluttered mind in a way I found humourous and compelling.

I often feel like Mondays and Tuesdays draaaagggggg. Sunday night anxiety turns into Monday Blues that turn into Tuesday...Blues? Having a fondness of alliteration, I want to say Sunday Sorrow turns into Monday Melancholies that turn into Tuesday Temperaments? I don’t know, that’s flawed, but the concept resonates. And in the midst of the early sunsets unforgiving of the winter, for me--at least--, these feelings are amplified savagely. But I do feel like once I hit Wednesday, even in the last months of a year and first months of the next when we are recklessly not saving daylight, things get a little bit easier. Things move a little bit faster. Time moves at a different pace, somehow the same but somehow so different---*ahem*--WTF, right? To quote Isaac Brock, the years go fast but the days go so slow. But some days drag then fly by. Some days fly by then drag. Some days just fly by. I moved to New York three years and a half years ago; I moved to New York yesterday.

It’s something I guess that’s on my mind more often than most who live in the so-called present loving their so-called lives, going through their days without existential worries that sift into the most arbitrary moments. I know I have a concept of time that is a little different than most--it’s all planescape in a lot of ways. There is no was, is there? Is it all happening at once but we can mark the passing through numbers changing on a cell phone screen by minute increments, ten minute increments, hours? Can we mark it by how we look now than how we looked a year ago? Yes, but also...not really.

I am who I am who I was who I will be who I was who I am. We are who we are who we were who we will be who we were who we are.  Our identity is fluid, our experiences shape us as we go along, but fundamentally, there is something that is always there and never was there and never will be there, but just is there. A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

A few years ago, I was working at the front desk at a hotel talking to great friend on a holiday where no guests were around, and we went on for hours about nothing. He told me that someone once told him that Tina Fey once told them, or maybe Tina Fey once told him, or maybe Tina Fey never told anybody he knew, yet he still told me something meaningful. I think about it all the time.

Sometimes you write a poem about something concrete so abstractly it becomes a masterpiece that everyone can access and make meaning of. Sometimes you write an essay so concrete that people are bored by.

Sometimes you pour a cup of coffee, set it down, go to take a sip & in what feels like moments later and the mug is already empty. Sometimes you’re on the train and get off at a stop before you realize it was one shy of the intended one. Sometimes you make a joke based off a meme that you saw on the internet and someone spirals into an identity crisis. Sometimes you live by advice that may or may not have been given by Tina Fey.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

National Travel Day

“Anthony Bourdain died.”

I woke up in a witchy apartment loft in Fishtown, an up-and-coming neighborhood in Philadelphia, home of the original La Colombe Torrefaction. My eyes adjusted to the welcoming natural light in our home for two nights (aka the AirBnB my brother’s girlfriend had booked for us); after a long and dreary winter, the early June sunshine was a blessing I thought might never come. I could not comprehend the news. I didn’t expect the news. When I heard it was on his own accord, after years struggling to make something of himself, it dropped a sword down my throat through my heart and into the pits of my stomach.

Anthony Bourdain is a badass, fuck American higher education, cynical but loveable type of dude. He fell into the drug scene surrounding him at a young age and overcame a heroin addiction after eight years on methadone, yet was still able to drink alcohol without falling back into being a junkie. Known for his ruggedness, for his ability to connect to food and culture, for his respect of the craft as an artform, although he knew the ancestral traditions would always be the real holy grail of culinary culture. He accepted different parts of the world and internationally influenced other people’s perspectives of places that were always painted terribly in mass media.

That last part is the spilled beer on the floor of a concert venue, sticking with me particularly. I was introduced to his sage wisdom through the sage wisdom of my brother, who I was in Philadelphia with the day of Bourdain’s death. I watched an episode of Parts Unknown in Manila, Philippines with my brother and his Filipina girlfriend I have known for half of my life in their apartment in Channelside, Florida. Immediately, I was hooked for the love of travel, for the love of culture, for the love of understanding places from an insight I hadn’t prior been exposed to, and for the love of Anthony Bourdain.

I delved into his work, starting with the episode where he explored Libya, my dad’s home country he moved away from at the age of 18. My dad hasn’t told any of his children much about living in Tripoli, and presumably has not told his wife (i.e. my mom) too much about living in Tripoli. I have a few stories I recall in vague detail provided here and there over the course of the years, but most of the information I have been able to receive about the country is through the media painting a typically distraught, unappealing image of the North African sovereign state. Although I have dual-citizenship in Libya, I have never had the opportunity to visit. I have, however, been gifted by Bourdain an inside look into the country.

On his Tumblr page, Anthony Bourdain says that out of all of the places he has explored and given to us in episode form, he thinks he is the proudest of Parts Unknown: Libya. He describes it as “Destinations couldn’t/shouldn’t.” The crew had to spend short periods of time in every place they went to for the sake of not encountering a dangerous situation, moving from hotel to hotel and vehicle to vehicle.

His takeaway, however, is one that I hope so many other people could understand from the nature of Libyan people: they are peaceful, and disadvantaged into being born into a figurative (and literal) landmine. Libyans yearn to live a life where their country can prosper, their families can stay safe, and their nation is finally harmonious. They do not want to leave their homeland, only being able to return every five years or so; painstaking entry through customs when entering their own country (and an even more difficult process when returning to the country they now call home).

The books and shows of Anthony Bourdain stick with people: his journeys teach the true reason to travel--not to just to get away and have a good time, but to uncover the different crevices of the world in a way that helps you understand history, diversity, and people. With that in mind, we paid tribute to Bourdain the best we knew how--spending our one day in Philadelphia discovering the depths of the city to the full extent our energy levels would allow us to.

By the time we returned to our AirBnB around midnight, we had clocked 10.5 miles by foot, and an additional unknown distance covered by the dark grey Hyundai Santa Fe sporting a Texas license plate my brother had rented. In the short lived series The Layover, Anthony Bourdain would explore a place in a way that highlights how you can make the best of a long flight layover. Think: “A Weekend in _______,” like in the New York Times Sunday Travel section. As a New Yorker who does not work in finance or programming, I can only afford to take brief vacations as frequently as possible; therefore, those trips tend to embody that sense of being able to do as much as possible in the little time available. 

Our day in Philly started at the original La Colombe in Fishtown around 9:00 am, caffinating and eating the best breakfast sandwich of my life. We then ventured to Washington Square West, spending under $10 to enter the mystifying, mosaic playground known as Philadelphia's Magic Gardens.  27 years in the making and still a work in progress, now 71 year old artist Isaiah Zagar created the folk art installation as an immersive experience of mixed media art that splatters the inner workings of my mind onto the walls, stairs, and passageways of the small indoor/outdoor space. It’s a must-do if you are ever in Southeast Pennsylvania, Northwest Maryland, or Central Jersey.

Exhausted by the walking and summer heat, we ate guacamole and enchiladas at a 5 star Mexican restaurant in Center City, a coffee pit stop at a cafe playing our favorite music on S. 13th Street afterwards. Old CIty, the birthplace of American History, was the next destination. Independence Hall preserved in patriotic glory before going through metal detectors to see the Liberty Bell (which is remarkably small ((like Lady Liberty)) and now serves mostly as a photo opp for students on school trips and Civil War buff parents dragging their kids on a meaningful, educational vacation). A stroll down America’s oldest alley before dipping injera into a variety of lentil based stews blasphemously paired with Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA in University City. Making it downtown to find it crowded with locals ending their work week seemed worth it for that overpriced Negroni at a still-operating speakeasy where Max “Boo Boo” Hoff used to run America’s largest alcohol ring during prohibition. Capping the day off right at Joe’s Cheesesteak, I was able to participate in trying the iconic Philly sub by ordering their vegan option.

Before we started our adventure that day, we talked about how a national--or even international--holiday should be created to remember Anthony Bourdain by. Perhaps National Travel Day? We had a list of things we could do, but no solid itinerary. We went with the flow of the day, but still managed to capture the depths that the nation’s original capital had to offer.

It hurts that someone viewed as a hero by masses of people took his own life, in a hotel room of all places. It sucks that anybody decides that suicide is right for them, especially someone who overcame a whole lot to become the icon he is in society today. We are lucky to have been to exposed to the world through his lenses, though. He gifted us all with a Bourdain sized footprint reminder that travel is all about uncovering other cultures in a gritty, real, and meaningful sense. It does not have to be a glamorous portrait of Loews hotels and Michelin restaurants--in fact, it really shouldn’t be.

Anthony Bourdain once described himself as guy who went from telling stories in a bar to telling stories on tv, and he did so by living the fuck outta the life he was given. He taught me that a sense of adventure and a fully formed viewpoint of humanity can get you priceless experiences that stick with you for a lifetime. From Anthony Bourdain, I know now that life is to be lived with a sense of whimsy created by having no reservations.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Clocks & Calendars & Cliches

October 20th, 2018 2:27am

There’s a scene in some movie or tv show I am sure you have seen, although I have no idea which movie or tv show it might be. You probably don’t know one in particular off the top of your head either, but you will be able to pinpoint some collaged, singular visual in your mind’s projector about what I am about to explain.

It’s a room, portrayed as larger than it should be through camera angles, with clocks on every possible surface of every possible size. There are ancient clocks and digital clocks and grandfather clocks and clocks only an art dealer would own and clocks that only a millionaire would own and clocks you saw in your public education classrooms and clocks you see at airports and clocks you buy on Amazon and clocks you buy at a Dollar Tree and clocks that belong in the MOMA and clocks that belong in ancient Egypt and clocks that belong in a trashy bar along Panama City Beach and clocks that belong at Cracker Barrel and that clock you think your aunt used to have above her fireplace and that clock that you knocked off your parents’ bedside table when you were 7 years old. If you didn’t get it, there are clocks.

And the hands of the clocks are spinning out of control or ticking at pace that doesn’t measure seconds properly. The clocks are all set at different times, in different years, in different multiverses. There are clocks. And they are out of control.

You know what I mean because it’s a generic scene, even when done well. It is cliche, unless it isn’t cliche--yet, even if it isn’t, it all serves as symbolism for chaos, for a loss of time. It represents a blurred line of immeasurable time. There’s the Molly Weasley clock, and the hand with your name is somewhere in between “in transit” and “lost.”

I tell you this scene is cliche, for it is cliche in every sense of the word. I follow this sentiment with bringing up the reality of the cliche, because we are all fighting the clock or clockwatching or don’t have enough time or have too much time. Language is arbitrary, and so is time; yet, we are all bound to both phenomena.

 

                                                                            ~

A year ago today, I finally created the writing website where I could post all of trivial thoughts and slightly humorous rambles that I had been talking about doing for days and months and years. Useless Information. Y’all read this bullshit, you know why I named it that. When I created the site, I was feeling busy, blurred--burying the whirling sensation that is constantly festering at the pit of my stomach, messily storing the buzzing chatters in my mind away (but forgetting which spot made sense to temporarily stash them away into).

Often times, I would misplace them and accidentally find them somewhere poorly placed. I would go to open the “Sleep” closet and find there was a small chest of drawers hidden within, the bottom one still open. As I meandered through the cabinet toward slumber, right on the brink of achieving relaxation, I am accosted by a drawing voice unfamiliar to the norm, “But what if that wasn’t the right decision?” Had I stashed it into “Existentialist Bullshit & Anxiety Temptations.” instead of clumsily hiding it into “Sleep,” I wouldn’t find myself in an endless room. A room marked by candlelights, false exits, shadowed crevices, winding hallways and spiral staircases revealing hidden passages--ways back to the main foyer, a room labeled “Insomnia.” In this room, though, I finally made the decision that if I was going to be awake, I may as well do something productive.

 

Let’s fast forward to October 2018, aka the “present.” A few days ago, someone told me I am always so calm, and I laughed out loud in response. “I am literally always nervous.” Today is the fourth consecutive day where my insomnia has consumed me completely, something familiar to me; however, I have been notably less haunted by wakefulness lately.

October is my witching hour, though, manifested into an entire month. It’s my month long 3am where the gradual refusal of the sun to set later in the day begins creeping in. The temperature plays tricks on me. It is the last month I am excited about happening until I age with wisdom (hopefully) into the next year of my life on the first of March. It draws me in with a tantalizing chilly breeze, turning the world around me into brilliant shades only matched by the sun sinking into nightfall. A new pair of combat boots for the season, a list of spooky movies to watch this month, adding even more cardigans to the collection. It turns on me slowly. It is working in notifications I thought I had turned off, of the things that summer has reminded me to forget.

So here I am wide awake, despite having crawled out of bed nearly 20 hours ago.  I am awake, I am nervous (per usual), I am trying to embrace my manic exhaustion, I am listening to Conor Oberst. I am awake in that cliche room of clocks, a room that I stumbled into by accident, by forgetting to prioritize the one thing that helps me stay away from the generic jumble of time: writing. I am awake in that cliche room of clocks, ruminating over how many things have happened over this past calendar year.