Or Worse.

I’m always drawn to darker topics. I try to read more positive things, but there’s just nothing all that interesting about good deeds or uplifting stories. Some guy saves a cat in a tree. It’s cute and all but what else is there to it? Some cat mauls a guy. Why did that happen? How is he recovering? Will he ever trust a cat again? What happened to the cat? Why did it attack? What is the history of cats attacking people? There’s much more there.

I had a fascination with last words for about a month. I had to come to the point in a story where I was killing off a character. I had to decide what his last words would be. I had an entire death speech written out. But then I wondered if that was realistic. What are people’s last words? I read a lot of material on the last words of people; suicide notes, airplane crash black box transcripts, emergency room help stories, cancer patient blogs. I made sure to include of various ages. I read the last words of children who didn’t quite understand what death was, the words elderly who were often prepared for it, and then the middle-aged who didn’t see it coming. There would be fear in people’s writings or messages to their family. Some people raved, begging and screaming for more time. I found those suited the character I was writing so that was the death I gave him.

Now my current fascination is divorce. I don’t know what has brought this up. None of my friends are getting divorced. I just love reading articles about what causes marriages to fail and reading the stories of people fighting an uphill battle to keep their marriages together.

A successful marriage takes two people. A successful divorce only needs one. Isn’t that funny? You can get down on your knees in front of your friend and family, then back out of what you said. Not that I advocate people staying in bad relationships. I’m not against divorce. I just think it’s funny that a person can promise their life to another for better or worse but once worse comes, they can just wash their hands of it.

After a divorce, a person has to recover their identity outside the marriage. For years they did everything with their partner in mind. They bought a house together. They might have taken a job that better fit their relationship. They were like flesh and blood. Now it’s torn asunder. They are not the same person that went into that marriage. They have to redefine themselves.

I read a lot about people feeling like they can breath again. They’re free from a bad environment that was making them miserable.

Another fascinating thing about divorce is how alarmingly high the rate of it is. It isn’t the fifty percent that’s been tossed around since the seventies. I believe around twenty-five to thirty percent of first time marriages end in divorce. So about a third of people were dead wrong when they picked their partner. What is the cause of this? Were issues ignored? How many of these people were rushed into marriage by their families? Did they quit too early? Did they just see marriage as a logical next step and didn’t realize the work that had to be put in? Did they find someone that they loved more?

Or was it irreconcilable differences?

No one is at fault. It was just two people who tried and there was no way to make it work. They’re only human after all. There are people who blame themselves for the failing of the marriage. They carry that weight and it hangs over their future connections. They can’t escape that failure. They made a vow that they couldn’t keep. How can they make the promise to someone else?

I’m hoping my next fascination will be something a bit more upbeat. Last year I was all about barren women and how they’ve been treated throughout history. It has not been good for them. Before that it was missing people who were never found. Are they still out there? I do find myself drifting towards the never-ending cycle of poverty. Why can’t you just throw money at that problem?

Divorce
Divorce

Us and Them.

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Right now there’s a guy in a cafeteria sitting all by himself. He’s unpacking his brown bag lunch with the same meal he eats everyday. He might look over at the table next to him. No person greets him. Not a person is excited that they’ve sat down. No person even knows them.

You’ve seen this guy or girl in every workplace or school cafeteria. They sit on the edge of a table by themselves.
What is it that these people are lacking? Why has no one brought them into their group? Is it because they are a bad person?

But even angry violent people have friends. The worst of the worst have people willing to put up with and care for them. Serial killers receive thousands of letters. Some get marriage proposals. Terrorist organizations trip over new recruits between their day-to-day bombings of the innocent. So it can’t be morality.

And it isn’t looks. The ugly find people on their level to connect to. These loners aren’t the ugly. You wouldn’t bat an eye if you saw them accepted into a group. They’d fit right in to that group of friends that they’re sitting across from.

Perhaps they’ve been offered to join a group and turned it down. They are strong enough to be alone. There is no joy in social places for them. They want the solitude and seek it. People come and go. Why care about their acceptance? There’s only one person they need to love. And that’s the only person that’ll be there with them for their entire life.

Could they have been a part of a group and then kicked out? Perhaps they are an exile from a lunch table across the hall. They’re reduced to eating by themselves.They once saw smiling faces across the table and now only strangers around them. They made a mistake and this is their punishment.

Are they mentally stunted? Can they not process the pain of social rejection? Were they born without a need for human contact? Did someone pummel it out of them? A childhood spanking gone awry? Perhaps they hit their head as a child and lost what the rest of us have?

They could smell. That could do it. The best personality in the world can’t overcome a putrid odor. Has someone told them about their problem? Perhaps they know and can’t do a thing about it. No deodorant, cologne, or soap can fight back the stench radiating from their body. So they sit there, knowing no one can stand to be within them.

Could they be an alien from another planet? They’re watching our every move and waiting to slip in. They’re leaning all our social scripts and irrational gestures. And then they’ll ask how you’re doing. You’ll be none the wiser. You’d accept them. They’ll say all the words at all the right times. They’ll come off as human like you and I.

Is it their destiny to be where they are? If there are people with friends, there must be people without friends. One cannot exist without the other. They’ve drawn the short straw in life. It’s unfair.

But if they opened their mouth to complain or beg for a chance, it’d only push us farther away from them.

There is nothing more repugnant to the human spirit than the socially desperate. They wear their emotions on their sleeves. We see them for all they are. We know what they want. And it disgusts us. It is written in our flesh and blood, right down to the bone to reject such a person.

We are not as cruel to the hungry and thirsty. We toss them our scraps and urge people to be more considerate of them. But the socially starved gain our disdain whether they’re responsible for their position or not. They ask too much of us. How can we accept them? They might as well be begging for a cancer cure.

No person is good enough to be everyone’s friend. No person good enough to look at all people and see something worthwhile. We have our favorites that we keep close.

They’re agreeable to us. They were born near us. They went to the same school as us. They share some of our same opinions. So we give them our love. We deem them worthy of our time and affection. They get to become a part of us.

There must be us and them.

Just be glad you’re not them.

A is for…

During my continued adventures collecting information about unconventional love and relationships for a future writing project, I stumbled upon this interesting documentary about a lesser known sexual orientation.

Asexuality is the complete lack of sexual desire or want. I wasn’t aware of this sexual orientation until finding this documentary. There are people out there who have no desire for sex at all. They’re normal people just don’t care for sex.

There’s an asexual couple in this that speak about both their struggles and joys in their sexless relationship. David Jay is a focal point of the documentary and he discusses a few radical relationship ideas. He viewed his lack of sexual attraction as a door to different deeper connections. He wanted to treat each of his friendships like people treated their romantic partners. Unfortunately for him, other people didn’t want to see it his way.

By far the most shocking scene is when a group of Asexuals marched in an LGBT parade in San Francisco. While some were receptive to the group, others were definitely not. There were lesbians and gay men who wanted nothing to do with them, The hypocrisy of their actions was completely lost to them. I was very disappointed in what went on there.

If you’re looking to spend an hour with very unique people, check this one out.

I’ve been trying to get my hands on a good arranged marriages documentary next. I read in this news article that arranged marriages had a similar level of happiness to marriages with choice. I want to see how a couple works on a long term relationship when love is not and never was a part of the equation.

What is the glue to arranged marriages? I must know.

The Guys Who Finish Last

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This post was inspired by Scott Alexander’s Radicalizing the Romanceless. Scott Alexander writes these articulate very well-researched and rational essays. If you have a spare half hour, I urge you to check out this article and his entire site.

Now for the galactically feared, globally reviled, universally despised – Nice Guys

WORKING DEFINITION

Let’s define Nice Guy.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition (Number One on Google).

“A nice guy is an informal term for a teenage or adult male who is gentle, compassionate, sensitive and vulnerable.”

Here’s geekfeminism.wikia.com’s definition. (Number Two on Google Search)

“Nice Guy™ is a term in Internet discourse describing a man or teenage boy with a fixation on a friendship building over time into a romance, most stereotypically by providing a woman with emotional support when she is having difficulties with another male partner. “

The first one is the one I’ll be using for discussion. This was close to my own personal definition. The fixation on friendship aspect is foreign to me.

THE ORIGIN

Where do Nice Guys come from? What causes a young man to go down the dark trail of being nice for romance?

Shyness, introversion, and lack of self-esteem. If you’re not good at communicating with people, you might drift towards relying on being nice to entice potential partners. Nice guys might also be practicing The Golden Rule. They would like a girl who is pleasurable to be around and shows interest in them and so they do the same to girls they like. A personal example of this, I once left love poetry in this girl’s locker that I liked in high school. If she had done the same for me, I’d have been over the moon. But that was not what she wanted.

Parents should always bare the blame for everything that happens ever. A teen boy could go home and get love advice from his mother. She might instill her son with what she values in a partner rather than what girls his age value.

I’d also say society is unsure of what the contemporary man should be. We’re trying to help women take center stage after being shafted for far too long. Traditional gender roles break down. Where does that leave men? What is expected of you as customs and culture change? I have yet to get a definitive answer to this. This lack of knowing trickles down into dating. What role are you supposed to play? Some men can’t figure it out.

It also might be in the nature of the guy because he’s a genuinely nice emotionally sensitive person.

CONFLICT

“She’s just hit the nail on the head with what bothers me about the Nice Guy (TM) rhetoric, those whines from some men about how it’s so unfair that women won’t flock to be with them when he’s a “decent” bloke who doesn’t do nasty things to women, and what more do they want? Well, colour us as unreasonably demanding, but women do tend to want a little bit more than a guy who simply refrains from being nasty like it’s some great sacrifice.

These whines that this young woman refers to stem from shattered expectations of young guys. They were nice to girls and then were shockingly rejected. And then it happened again. Maybe even a third time after that. So now they have to answer a question. Who is to blame for these rejections? Women or themselves?

Women get the blame by a lot of dudes. They develop toxic opinions about women. Women-blamers are on a lot of dating websites. He’ll greet a girl with a nice message. He’ll do it twice. If there’s no response, fuck her, yet another stupid stuck up bitch. She’ll get a nasty last message. He’s entered the dangerous loop where women push him away because he’s bitter and he’s bitter because women push him way. I wonder what happens to these sort of guys….

Some guys blame themselves and use it as motivation to be better. They’ll start working out. Others give up because they think women aren’t worth any additional effort. I had a conversation with one of my younger cousins about that. He’s around fifteen. I asked him if he was talking to any girls. And he said no, they’re not worth his time. I laughed as he was so young to be that cynical about romance.

And others just complain.

“I’m a nice guy. I treat women right. Why can’t I catch a break? I’d be a good boyfriend. Give me a chance.”

These dudes think girls wanting more than a nice guy is an unreasonable demand. I get why. Everyone says so, even some women. Movies and television say the good guy gets the girl. Writers love this story. It’s so easy to write. That’s why you see it all the time. The virtuous man gets love and every man has an equal chance at it.

But love is inherently unfair. Nobody is an equal opportunity lover. People love with regard to race, age, marital status, creed, color, sex, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, and a lot hell of a lot more. Virtuosity is not taken into account until later if it is taken into account at all.

Why would society lead these men to believe one thing when another is true?

Because girls are supposed to want the virtuous man. But they’re people and they aren’t a certain way. I get their frustration with the situation. Having to bring guys down to reality and being hated just for not being attracted to someone. It gets worse when some of these nice guys aren’t as nice as they advertise as I mentioned above.

SOLUTIONS

The tension on both sides is palpable once anyone mentions a Nice Guy. How can things be smoothed over? What should be done with Nice Guys? Like most dating/relationship issues, there is no smooth solution. I have nothing.

Because if you give someone advice on what women want, you don’t have any authority to do so. Not even women can tell you what a particular girl wants or needs from her partner or what you may need to do. It’s hard to articulate exactly what you want. There’s a lot that words fail. It’s very much on the person to pick up signals. You can’t coach that.

So no solution. Life sucks for some people.

Maybe I’ll have a solution to this in 2020.
—-

The Zone

For Day Two of Valentine’s Week here on Cynic No More, I’m going into a familiar place for a lot of people. It’s caused a lot of pain, grief, and allowed trite quotes to be liked on Facebook.

The Friend Zone.

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Note here. When I say the word “men” or “women” always assume that I don’t mean all men and all women. Goes without saying but that I’d say it either way.

I. THE SITUATION

If somehow you don’t know about or been a part of this phenomenon, let me give to ya real quick.

Two Friends. One starts to develop romantic and/or sexual feelings for the other. The other does not return the feelings, liking things as they are. Leaving the friend with feelings in a situation

There are variations to the story. Some people wanted romance the entire time but felt more comfortable being friends before hand. Others develop feelings as time went on.

This is a rather sucky well-known situation that has led to many vitriolic blog posts from men and women alike. MTV made a television show out of this.

Much of the frustration comes from the passing of the burden of the feelings. Guys complain about friend-zoned all the time. Women feel attacked for not being interested in someone. Or they see the friendship was a ruse set up to trick her into sex.

The usual way it goes is it’s the guy getting friend zoned. I don’t doubt that happens to women, but it appears to be rarer. My female friends have never mentioned being in the friend zone to me. I never overheard the girls in the front of my homeroom back in high school talk about this as I eavesdrop. They more vented about men wanting only sex without commitment. Perhaps women are more likely to keep these happenings to themselves? Or just not share them with me?

II. OUTCOMES

Quite a few ways this can end.

The Guy Remains the Genuine Friend
The most agreeable ending. The guy recognizes they’re incompatible. He stays in touch and is happy to see her pursue love in other places. Their friendship remains strong. His feelings dissipate or kept in check for the sake of the friendship.

Image: FILE PHOTO: 70 Years Since The Casablanca World Premiere Casablanca

The Guy Cuts Off All Contact
See ya later! The friendship is over! The guy decides he’s not going to suffer and watch a person he loves, love someone else. I had a co-worker who went off about this during late-night shifts. She was a little socially awkward and was bullied by the girls at her school. So she opted to get guy friends. Without fail, all of them fell passionately in love with her. Upon her rejection of them, they all hit the road. They took away their late night texting sessions. They stopped their Skyping. They pretend like they didn’t know her.

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The Guy Plots
Some day he will escape this zone and her love will be his! The guy who remains the friend for today and plots his rise to romantic partnership silently in the shadows. Rarely works out.

signs-of-a-desperate-man

The Girl Ignores
He just couldn’t get the clue. Maybe she felt he betrayed her trust by pursuing her. Maybe she realized he wasn’t that great a friend after all. Ignored. Blocked. Removed from the Steam Friendlist.

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Mutual Split
It’s painful for both of them and so both decide to never see each other again. The downer.

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They Get Together
The girl decides why not give it a chance? The relationship works. This is the cutest outcome. Genuine love. Every time I see this happen for someone, I start giggling on the inside. Story tellers adore this ending.

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III. CONCLUSION

The drama here is that there is no real compromise between friendship and romantic relationships. A suitable in-between would shut everyone up. Friends with benefits is not it. I have not seen that go anywhere good. If you try to trickle down some romance into friendship, that begs a simple question. Why don’t you just date them?

I don’t think anyone should date someone due to pressure but neither should someone be a part of a friendship that isn’t fulfilling for them. There are limits to friendship. To desire more from a person is not wrong. Wanting to be the one who makes their beloved’s eyes light up and their heart melt is an admirable desire.

The Friend Zone breeds negativity. Close friendships end. People become bitter. Some develop toxic thoughts about the other gender.

All because a friend liked a friend more than they ought to.

The Only One.

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Do you believe that there is a person out there who is absolutely perfect for you?

Let’s take this idea that there’s a person born that is perfect for you romantically.

What are they doing before you meet them?

I’d imagine they’d have relationships before you. They can’t repulse everyone around them. Maybe those people are not as perfect for them as you, but you’re not in the picture yet. They can’t be alone. What if they go steady with someone else that’s pretty good. It gets serious and they end up getting married. Ten years later, they live with this person and have children with them. And then finally you show up in their life.

It’s a Black Friday sale at Walmart. They are there to get their children a Christmas gift. You’re there to buy a new television. You get shoved into them by the mob of people. Your eyes meet. Fireworks instantly. You strike up a conversation. You help them get that game console. You feel a connection. But what then?

Is your one supposed to leave their partner, sunder their family because of how perfect you are for them? Would you will them too? Were you too late for your one? Can someone else be with them?

What if you meet them too early?

You’re in your teens and you meet this person underneath the bleachers. Your first partner. And you’re their everything. They treat you the right way. They accept you and expect no more than for you to be you. If all goes right, you’ll be happy for years.

But you’re young. Commitment is scary. The same person for the rest of your life? You can’t imagine such a thing. You’re not ready for that. You want to live life. You don’t know they’re the one yet.

You’re bad at communicating your feelings. You’re young after all. So you cheat on them. And then they find out. Not from you, from a friend. You break the heart of your one. Are they supposed to come back and fight for you? Or is that it? Once their heart is broken, you’ve done it. You’ve failed your one.

What if you never meet your one? What if they and you were at a party and you spent the entire time in the bath room, never to meet again?

What if you don’t have a one? Is that allowed? Some people are born without arms. Some with tails. Some without their whole heart. What if you were born and your one wasn’t? Can you do something about it?

Or are you doomed to finding someone who is merely alright?

What if you’re a horrible person? Will your one be terrible too? Will you be terrible together?

Dragging each other down into the gutter until a perfect end together?

ThelmaLouise4_001Pyxurz

Master of Your Fate

This girl went missing at my college. It was about a month or so before graduation. I didn’t know her. She was in my class, but I hadn’t ever met her. Her name didn’t ring any bells. It wasn’t until I saw her picture in an online news article that I could place her face.

I had seen her around campus, one of those people I’d blast past on my way back to my dorm. So the story went that she up and disappeared on her family. What triggered it? Who knows. A few days go by after that initial news break. People are out looking for her. She was last seen bordering a train headed to New York City. Her cell phone, wallet and ID were found by the George Washington Bridge.

People went out into New York City to canvass for this girl. The family received phone calls of her being seen around that city. I remember reading an update where a cop mentioned having a good lead about where she was.

But it turned out that this girl took her own life. Her body washed up on shore. Her family released that awful news

Why.

They said she was a model student, incredibly high GPA.

Why.

She was involved in clubs and was even captain of the tennis team.

Why.

She was accepted to Rutgers Law School and was going to live with her sister.

Why. Why did she do it?

A few months ago, I go into my full-time job. Office work. The less said about it the better.
My supervisor brings me into a room with everyone else working the late shift. She says she has some unfortunate new. One of our coworkers is dead and he took his own life. I don’t recognize the man’s name at first. The room goes quiet and numb after she dropped that bombshell. She asks me if I knew him. I said I don’t know. She told me I had to have seen him around.

Then she starts to describe him. He always wore a jacket even if it was like 80 degrees outside. Always in a hurry. Easy to talk to. And I know immediately who she’s talking about. My bathroom buddy.

He and I got usage of the upstairs bathrooms banned. We weren’t supposed to use them in the first place, but it wasn’t a real rule. So I put it to the test. The down stairs bathrooms smelled like someone died while using them and often had piss all over the toilet paper. So I would sneak upstairs to the better toilets. I’d bump into him on way up the stairs all the time. He knew how much better they were too.

Oh my gosh he’s dead.

I saw him the day before. I used to small talk with him in the hallway.

Why.

He seemed happy, not different from all the other people I saw around there.

Why.

Everyone really liked him and considered him part of the family.

Why. Why did he do that?

With the recent death of Robin Williams, a lot of people are asking themselves “why”. Why would a person who brought them such joy leave the world in such a dark way?

Is there a single discernible reason? A trigger that set them off? Could it have been prevented? Is it our fault for missing the signs? Were there signs?

Even if we had those people back to tell us why, could they properly articulate their pain? Put their troubles into words? Do they even have words that can describe what they went through? Could we understand what it means to feel so trapped that death is a more viable option than tomorrow? Or to hate yourself so much you’d rather not be around any more?

We call suicide the cowardly way out. They weren’t strong enough to hold on to their lives. I believe that to be ignorant. Could we hold on if we were in their shoes? Just snap out of it like people often advise. We can talk a big game about holding on. But if life is depression, emotional pain, mental suffering, self-inflicted torture, is it even worth holding on to? To see the sunrise again on next worst day of your life? We can all easily say yes, but those who are gone would disagree.

Who’s right?

Can’t answer that question. I just can’t.

Sitting on a Powderkeg, the Isla Vista Story.

Racism. Misogyny. Poor Parenting. Virginity. Mental Illness. Gun Control. Poor Policing.

When the story first broke, which of these did you point your finger at? You’d have a base to stand on if you selected any one. How easy would it be to push an agenda based on your pre-existing bias? You could as so many already have, make blog posts decrying your selected villain and continue your demonization of them. But you shouldn’t. Because you should be smarter than that.

There is more to this situation than one word or one issue.

When I read the story that a young man stabbed and murdered half a dozen people, two things struck out to me. His age and his father’s position. He had access to more money yet was completely miserable. He was the same age as I was. 22. I’ve spent the last couple days following the news of this story through Twitter and news outlets. I even reading a few snippets from the manifesto created by shooter.

On the one hand, talking about him gives him what he wants. He wanted status and to be noticed.

But still, we should learn from this event and see what went wrong. So we can put out fires before they happen. If they can be put out. I’ll be running through a list of factors that I did not see mentioned all that much.

STATUS OBSESSION

The shooter wanted to be noticed. He wanted to walk into a room and have women fawning over him. He would wear different clothes and hope that a woman would approach him rather than make any active effort. It was the act of being wanted that he most sought. To be that alpha male

MALE VIRGIN SHAMING

There is a stigma against being sexually inexperienced as a man. The older the man becomes, the worse stigma is. Virgins are the last remaining group that it is politically correct to make fun of.

Some are perfectly content and at peace with their status. There are men who are like everyone else. No personality disorders. It just didn’t happen for them.

And then there are the bitter women haters. They blame women for their anguish. But even of these women haters, there’s not a call to slaughter, flay, and kill all women. No seeking of retribution unlike the Isla Vista shooter. He took it personally that he was a virgin.

As stated earlier, this shooter was obsessed with his status and he was a member of an undesirable group.

LOCATION

He was surrounded by the rich. Southern California isn’t exactly known for being the most humble and accepting of faults. From what I’ve gathered, his college was very much a party college. And he was not invited to parties. This elitist area certainly had a factor in forming his ego issues.

RACIAL ELITISM

Our shooter held a deep hatred for his own race and nearly all minorities. He believed blonde women to be the most desirable of women. He thought his status as a half Asian made him better than regular Asians. Yet he would see regular Asians with blonde women. How could this be? Yet another crime that the world had to pay for.

MEGALOMANIA

It’s impossible to determine truth from fiction in his manifesto or the video he posted. I skimmed through it quickly after a person tweeted a paragraph of it. What I could understand what he was in love with himself.

“I am perfect. Everyone should love me.” When that ideal was shattered, he turned to violence.

There was one section that stuck out to me in particular. He had entered the lottery, hoping to win. Everyone enters the lottery for that chance to . We accept out loss. He was so certain that he would win the lottery. As sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, he was going to win the lottery. And when he did not win, it was an injustice done to him by society.

Let me repeat this.

He thought not winning the lottery was an injustice done to him by society.

CYBER-BULLYING/BODY IMAGE

A few news articles pointed out that he was a known poster on a body building forum. He declared himself beautiful and sought validation online. Bragging about his facial features and his BMW. This made him a perfect target for cyber-bullies. Some of the comments tossed his way were playful barbs but he took it to heart. Responding with vitriol to even the slightest of disses. His ego was especially damaged when people mocked him for his height and dick size.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Fascinating how though a number of his victims were men, this entire incident sparked a debate on how women live in fear of men. Just something I wanted to note.

I have no clue as to what men’s rights activism has to do with this incident nor why it was ever brought up into the discussion. I suppose it is the perfect boogieman to point your finger at if you already hated them, but nothing more.

I can’t help but wonder if the manifesto is a satire. It’s text book narcissism. From the little I read of it, it comes off as a comic book villain’s origin. If I read it online somewhere without knowing the context, I would have thought it was a joke.

I fear that introverted loners will become even further ostracized because of this incident. They will be seen as ticking time bombs.

Sex would not have solved any of his issues despite his fixation on it. He would have moved the goal post to another object out of his reach. What he needed were societal skills and an ability to cope with rejection. This begs the question. Is our mental health system equipped to help people like the shooter? Do they deserve help? Or was he a mad man who needed to be locked away and kept from others?

I cannot get the words of one of the victim’s fathers out of my head. Seven sons and daughters gone forever due to one boy’s mangled ego. Even more injured. I do not know what more to say about that.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

All of his early problems were solved by throwing a tantrum like a child until someone fixed it for him. Women were the one thing his tantrums could not bring him. He cried for hours after a girl ignored him when he said “hi” to her. And he wanted them to worship him. Women chose “inferior” partners. So he lashed against society. To call him a misogynist misses the whole picture. He was going to murder his own brother for losing his virginity before him. He was a misanthrope to an extreme degree. Seeing people enjoying life enraged him.

His ultimate desire was to destroy love.

Next week, I had hoped to finish a post about my continued fascination and confusion with modern feminism. #YesAllWomen gave me some much needed insight into the plights of the modern woman in Western Society. But I will be delaying this to write a post closer to my heart.

Until next week.

My Last Sob Story

“Woo Graduation!”

A lifetime ago, I etched these words inside of my high school graduation hat.

June 25th, 2009. A good day to graduate. Michael Jackson died that day.

We couldn’t contain our excitement that day; What a day that was.

Friends surrounded me on all sides. We made jokes about dropping out at the last second. We gasped together at the news of Michael Jackson’s death. And we suffered while our salutatorian rattled on and on about what her family meant to her. The girl wanted everyone to roast out there in the sun.

A clear blue sky lay above us like the world was proud of our accomplishments. Our families scrambling for their cameras. They snapped as many pictures as they could, trying to preserve a moment that had already passed. Everyone had the same beautiful smile on their face like peace had finally come to Earth.

One of my friends decided not to have that moment.

“Why?”

That was the question I kept pestering her wit. I tried to dissuade her. This was a once-in-a-lifetime happening. She shrugged her shoulders. She had better things to do.

My seventeen-year-old self couldn’t bring myself to entertain that idea. How could I no-show the biggest celebration in my life so far?

We fought our way through the public education system. Didn’t she want to feel like it was all worth something? All those absurd standardized tests that they shoved down her throat? All those ridiculous Didn’t she want to give her family that moment to enjoy her success? What could be better than basking in the glory of your achievement among those that you love?

On May 13th 2013, I her.

RISE

College was the best time of my life.

Before I went to college, I had no idea people from South Jersey didn’t believe Central Jersey existed. Or that there was feud between North and South Jersey.

There were such characters there. One of my dorm mates was an unkempt anti-establishment who despised jeans. I knew a tennis player who stopped playing tennis to start a rapping career.

My first night I watched a future great friend of mine rap Flo Rida’s Apple Bottom Jeans to an apathetic audience. He hopped up there and shouted at the crowd of other freshmen.

“Get on your feet. Come on everybody.”

Never before had I seen a crowd that unresponsive, to someone so energetic. That’s a memory I’ll treasure for years to come.

Every day had the potential to be a new adventure. A group of us bought dollar water guns. We were not supposed to have them. We also were not supposed to have a huge water gun fight spanning our entire dorm building. But we did anyway. We ran up and down stairs, hiding in elevators, waking up other residents. We got in trouble. We knew we would, but how could we pass up the opportunity? That was college.

There was so much freedom. In high school, everything was so rigid and calculated. You moved when the bells told you to. You went to school early in the morning and left when everyone else did. You had to even ask when you wanted to piss.

But in college, you didn’t have to go to class. You could go to other people’s classes and play an instrument if you wanted to. You could walk around in your pajamas, not bathe for days, and let your hair grow untamed. You were the master of your fate.

Is there a better joy in life than knowing you can do what you want whenever you want?

Of course with great power comes great irresponsibility. I had peers who crashed and burned right before my eyes, some within days of classes beginning. With no parental supervision or rigid schedule to adhere to, they became their own worst enemies. Their lives completely derailed by hedonism. Some are still picking up the pieces almost five years later.

I used the great power of freedom to go to my first wrestling live event. For a decade, I lived and breathed wrestling. Everybody hated Mondays, but I loved them. It meant another installment of Monday Night RAW. It was a cardinal sin in my household for me to even talk about it but I still caught RAW every week.

I walked 12 miles through a cold, snowy Trenton to get to the arena. All I had with me was a printed out Google Map and Have Heart blasting in my ears. Someone could have robbed, beaten up, or even murdered me. I was nearly run over by a car at an intersection. At one point I got completely lost. But who cares about danger when there’s wrestling!

When I entered that arena, my body shook like crazy in anticipation. There was the ring I saw every week on the show. The old ladies and obese men glared at me as I hollered and shouted throughout the show. They came to have a nice evening of entertainment. I came to have the time of my life! Even for the opening acts, I was on my feet until several people told me to sit down.

When I heard the opening guitar riff to CM Punk’s theme song, my heart skipped a beat. There he was. From my television screen to right in front of my eyes, the closest thing to a hero that I have. That was a mark out moment. The rest of the arena hated his guts. He was the biggest villain, a complete prick. He got right in fans’ faces, badmouthed New Jersey and beat on everyone’s hero, John Cena. I loved every second of it.

The power wasn’t all good for me. I got to do grocery shopping for myself. My meals consisted of Skittles, ice cream, snicker doodles, goldfish, Ritz crackers, Oreo’s, pop tarts, more skittles, assorted cookies, cinnamon toast crunch, Doritos, Tostitos and anything else with high fructose syrup. I may have lost four years of my life with my bad food choices. But it was so delicious.

I had the chance to delve into the film-making process and all the frustrations that go into it. I appreciate cinema a hell of a lot more now. Every movie made is a miracle. I’d consider the one short film that I wrote, produced, and directed to be the crowning achievement of my life so far. It’s not a great movie but it was in my brain and is now out there for everyone to see. My dreams brought to reality. That’s incredible. When we had our first script reading,

And boy did I ever write there. I had the chance to take two screen-writing classes when that’s not even allowed. Thanks crappy class selection system! I even got to listen to an Academy award winning screenwriter talk about his life. Without college I wouldn’t have this blog.

College gave me direction.

I’ll look back on the four years as life-changing

SINK

I remember writing my name down on that first student loan. There was a deep sink in my stomach, a ton of bricks weighing me down. I had a little less than two hundred dollars in my bank account at that time. I was borrowing thousands. I wasn’t even eighteen yet. My father assured me that this was the best decision for my future.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I would have told him, he was full of shit. But how could I have known then? My college was considered one of the best in the north east. My father said getting in was an accomplishment itself. I had to take that chance.

I didn’t know the terms of my student loan or how an interest rate worked. I didn’t understand the concept of looking around for better rates or getting money from other sources. I didn’t think of delaying my college education for years until I had enough money to pay it off. I didn’t think much at all. I acted.

I started in college with a dream that I’d become lawyer. After a mock trial in eighth grade, I thought it was a good fit. My major was criminology. But after only two classes, I learned the realities of our justice system and found it morally bankrupt. It was a system not set up to help, but to exploit people. There was no justice. People could walk away from crimes because of who they knew or how much money they had. The system was racially biased. I wanted no part in it. So then I had to answer the question we all struggle to answer. What do I want to do with my life?

My father said I was a strong writer so I should drift towards journalism. I had no objections. Journalism was new to me so.

I wanted to love reporting. I’d listen to news radio and read Huffington Post, Fox News, MSNBC. I’d write for the campus newspaper when given the chance. My life depended on me falling in love with my new major. But my heart never was into it. My professor would bring in professional journalists from different beats to our class. With each of them, a realization came over me. I didn’t want to follow down any of their paths. I spent thousands to learn a craft I didn’t love.

Oh no. What could I do about it? I couldn’t get that time back nor could I refund my money. Trapped.

I wanted to go back to seventeen, to that day on my high school football field. Back to when I had everything in front of me. Back when I had to the power to do or become anything.

I came to another crossroads in my junior year. I could have left. My life’s future didn’t depend on that piece of paper. I had value with or without the degree. I could save me. I’d cut my losses and take on the world.

My father disagreed. I had one more year to go. Why not finish it off? Suck it up and write for a newspaper. What would I do without college?

I didn’t know. I knew I’d have control and a genuine smile on my face if I went down that way. But what became of people without degrees? Weren’t they failures who flipped burgers or worked overtime at low paying jobs? Would I end up like one of them?

I took the easier path, the known path. I locked myself in for that final year. Then immediately started to hate myself. Everyone told me I made the right choice, but it made no difference to me. I saw myself as this coward. I acted out of fear. I could not live up to my words. I was an unjust man.

There were days where I’d get down on myself. All my problems would run through my head at once especially in those last few months. I’d blame myself for everything that had happened to me. I deserved my misery. I’d sit in class, not hear a word the professor would say. All I could see and hear was the past.

That time I threw a pen out the window and got detention. That time I took the blame for ripping down all. That time I called a friend . That time I missed the bus and had to walk home for the first time. That time I let down my father and missed. That time I tried to make friends and was instead mocked. That time my gym teacher mispronounced my name. That time That time my father said he was losing interest in me. That time I apologized to someone and they didn’t care. That time a friend tossed me away like I was trash. That time I nearly drowned to death as a child. That time I burst into tears in seventh grade.That time I stood on stage and forgot all my lines. That time That time I didn’t stand up and help a bullied friend. That time my grandfather died and I saw him laying there, lifeless.

These memories and more would swarm in my head, blocking out the present. Each one bubbling to the surface with that old pain cutting me again. My shitty life so far flashing in front of me. I couldn’t focus on homework. I couldn’t focus on applying for jobs. I couldn’t focus on the future nor did I want to. Because the future scared me. It was the pain that had yet to come.

Did I really want to wake up everyday and wither away right before my own eyes? Crow’s feet, bone aches, popping pills to keep going. Did I really want to live on and forget who I am? Or where I came from? What good was there in the future? Marriage? Children? I had zero interest in both of those things. What then for me? Work 40 hours a week for the next thirty to forty years so I can survive? Why the hell would I want to do that? Is there no escaping that reality?

I sought out a solution to my unsolvable problem. How could I escape the future? Time can’t be stopped. Each day I’d slip closer and closer out of one miserable existence into another. There had to be a way.

Then this devious morbid thought creeped into my head. What if I wasn’t around any more? What if there were no more me. What if I clocked out early?

On my worst days, I’d imagine the fallout. Never how I would do it. But what came next.

I’d be put on one of those funeral cards that my parent receive with a nice picture of the person. Smiling as big as they can, like they don’t have a clue what’s happened to them. Friends, family, and people who pretended to care about me gathering around my fresh corpse to mourn. I’d be there except not me at all, fitted with a suit I’d never wear and dressed up to be presentable for the ceremony. A solemn mood. Lots of black clothes. Crying? Yeah. My mother would be in shambles. My father stoic as always. And my brother, I can’t say for sure. Angry maybe. Confused like he often is. A pastor would talk, say some great things about me that he’d have never said if I were alive. There would be anger.

“Why?”

The question running through everyone’s heads. Could they have seen this coming? What did they miss?

Then they’d put me six feet under as part of the ritual.

There would be some lingering sentiment, but it would pass. Pain that would fade away. Life goes on. The world won’t stop for one dead boy. So why not?

I didn’t want to be dead. Death is not a solution to a problem. It’s the end of you.

This girl at my school jumped off the George Washington Bridge and killed herself during our last semester. For weeks she was missing before her body was finally found. I never knew the girl but it sounded like she had her entire life ahead of her. Her narrative came to a complete stop. She won’t ever conquer her demons or move to the next step. She’s gone.

What I wanted was to escape my life and all the obligations that came with it. I wanted room to breathe. Death wouldn’t give me that. I wanted to just live.

In college I learned to love solitary walks at night. Away from everyone. I’d gaze down a street and wonder what would happen if I followed it. See where the road would take me. I’d have my days where the temptation to walk further overcame me. I’d press on. The familiar streets would fade away behind me. My college long gone. My hometown miles away. I’d move on and all my problems would melt away behind me. My friends, my family, my identity. Away. Away. Away from it all. Each step taking me onto a new life, giving me back control.

But I’d stop. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t leave that behind. What would I do? Where would I even go?

I’d make the solemn trek back to my life.

My life where I am the odd one out; different, peculiar, and most of all, weird. Even the people who put me here don’t know what to make of me. The apple has fallen as far from the tree as it can. Whether it’s on some online forum, a family get-together, or in class , I am out of place. Always have been, always will be. I understand that now.

“A sense of belonging is not a privilege that you enjoy.”

I am the single drop of oil in an ocean of water, a corruption of the natural flow of life. An aberration.

I left college, this feeble self-pitying husk; so full of fear of the future. The wind could have blown me over.

“Congratulations!”

Everyone kept repeating that. Again and again on that day they set up to honor us. May 17th, 2013.

I thought up scenarios where I could fail my classes at the last minute and not have to take that walk of shame. But my stupid geology professor passed me even though I couldn’t tell the difference between a stalagmite and Vegemite.

Graduation day was a hot day, damn hot. My housemates and I had to walk to campus. To say we were sweating is an understatement. I thought about what a stupid tradition the graduation gowns were.

As we fanned ourselves with our hats, the neighborhood came out to congratulate us as we made our way to the university.

Gosh. I still remember opening the door to my department’s graduation ceremony. All the experiences that separated me and my seventeen-year-old self flowed through me. I couldn’t shake off this feeling of defeat.

Everyone had that same dumb smiles on their face. Why the hell were they so happy? I didn’t I was the sole frown in the room. My mother told me to cheer up. This was my day.

I sat around strangers and acquaintances. I didn’t know any of the people called up for their awards. These were my peers.

They called my name. I got pity golf claps.

My professor had a grand smile. One of her students had graduated and was on to the next step in their life.
She congratulated me with the utmost enthusiasm.

No matter what she handed to me, in my own head. I would be a failure and a coward. She could not wipe away my regret or alleviate my torment.

She handed me my prize, what I set out to achieve when I signed my name down on student loan; a folder to hold my degree in.

I feigned a smile for her. It was the least I could do; not make a scene and let my true feelings come out. This was a day of celebration not time for a grumpy young man to vent.

I don’t remember what I wrote in my college graduation hat before I tossed it away.

A year later, I still have this sour taste in my mouth whenever someone brings up college. I could never win there. I lost so much. I lost my bravery. I gained twenty pounds. I lost my self-respect. I grew a ratty beard. I lost my confidence. I lost my motivation. And I paid for all that. I paid with more money than I’ve had in life.

For the past year, my life became this self-pity party. Oh woe is me. I wanted my life to be this long winded sob story. I’d blot out the good parts to fit a narrative.

I am sad and angry because the world is cruel. Happiness is an accident, that time when you forget your troubles. Happiness is delusion. That time when you lie to yourself because you’re afraid of the world. You should fear the world. It’s full of pain, sorrow, and hollow victories. Why try? The world will destroy anything you create.

Is that the narrative I want my life to follow? Can I change it? Should I? Do I want to?

My Best Friend

If someone asked me who my best friend was, I wouldn’t be able to give an answer. I do have friends that I like more than others. Everyone does.

People don’t like to tier their friends. I do. It helps me keep my priorities straight. If a lower tier friend asks me to hang out, I may say no. I need to keep myself open in case a high tier friend decides to spend the day with me.

People don’t like to admit that there’s different levels of friends. There’s those friends that you only hang out with because your other friends like them. They’re not bad people. They’re just on a different level than the others. They’ll never ask you and them to just hang out. That’s fine. It’s just the nature of the relationship.

I had this all figured when I was a wee lad in elementary school. Not all friends are created equal. There would always be one friend to stand above the rest, the best friend. They were the funniest. They were the coolest. They were the person you liked being around the most.

I met my best friend for many years in first grade. There was a coloring project of sort. The class was to separate into two groups, rainbow and red. I picked red because I loved Power Rangers and the red one was my favorite.  Only one other kid picked red with me. He told me that he liked Power Rangers. That was it. We were best buddies. I went to his birthday party later that year. I made a huge mess. I left all his Power Ranger stuff all over the floor.

Those early years it’s easy to be best friends. As a kid, there’s never any real conflict. Our friendship went on until things changed. He wasn’t interested in Power Rangers anymore. I remember talking to him about in one of the later elementary school years. He told me he gave away all his power ranger stuff because he was too old for it. But still we continued on as best buddies.

It wasn’t until sixth grade that everything changed. Puberty hits and the whole dynamic for everything in school changed. Children were a lot meaner and petty. There were more fights in the school. The drugs that seemed like a boogeyman in a closet were soon entering our world. We didn’t talk as much anymore. We were separated in different home rooms. He made new friends. He even got himself a girlfriend. I remember in sixth grade, he and I had this conversation. He told me that I should get a girlfriend. I didn’t quite understand what he meant. I had friends that were girls, wasn’t that good enough? He lost interest in talking to me soon after that.

I remember being teased during cafeteria lunch one day. I told them who my best friend was. They all said that he had a new best friend now and it wasn’t me.

Oh.

I didn’t think that sort of thing stopped. I thought best friends were forever. But I was wrong. I was usually wrong back then about things.

In high school, we had a class together and it was pretty fun. It was nostalgic for both of us but that was it. Just nostalgia.

I don’t think we’ll ever really talk again. Maybe we’ll run into each other and make small talk. Talk about our college experiences and what we’ve done since high school. Then it’ll be “Nice seeing you.” and we’ll go our separate ways.