Wednesday, November 25, 2009

...and then you're able to grow a beard.

I don't care much for needles. In 2nd grade, I was well aware of what a needle was and very well knew the concept of "getting a shot." This particular year my sister, being in 5th grade had to get a standard shot and I was told that when I reach 5th grade, I would have to get the same shot. And thus began a three year wait that I thought believed would take forever.

The thing about going to any kind of doctor is how much more intense the pain is than what it would be if you were doing it yourself. To the doctor, your skin isn't a layer of sensitivity but rather like a piece of meat. They just plunge the needle right in there with no regard for your pain. It slides in, sometimes a little blood dribbles out, push the plunger and take it out. It seems the doctor, after doing it so many times, forgets that it kind of hurts. Then again, as a doctor, I guess you would have to forget that your actions are causing others pain in order to get anything accomplished. That makes sense. But I'm eight years old and the only perspective I can see is my own and I know I don't like the idea of needles penetrating my skin.

In fifth grade, my eleven year old sister had begun the countdown for me. I don't remember what exactly the shot was for but it's one of the important ones that everyone is supposed to get at that age. I remember thinking fifth grade was forever away and how I wouldn't have to worry about this shot for a long time. So I lived these three years doing and and learning all kinds of things but the thought of this needle was always present. The point being that although 5th grade came faster than I thought it would, I still remember those three years going by very slowly. But the day finally came.

Before I had time to mentally prepare for the actuality of the whole thing, I found myself walking through those depressing hospital hallways, smelling that smell. Whatever that smell is. Why hasn't someone corrected that smell by now? It's like a mix of latex, bleach and laundry detergent. And then it gets worse when you're walking by the food service department where you can additionally mix in the smells of fried chicken and green beans. Maybe someday we can convince hospitals around the nation to take a small portion of their budget and use it towards some candles or potpourri. I'm convinced such an action would receive appreciation from everyone.

And so anyway, I eventually make it to the venue of torture and try to find any possible element of comfort on this loose piece of tissue paper that is annoyingly always just resting on the examination chair without anything to really hold it down. It is never attached or securely placed and I hate it. I didn't mind so much back then but presently, I propose that maybe after splurging on the candles and potpourri maybe they can invest in the development of tissue paper with adhesive edges or something. I don't know what it would be but in an age when things like the iPhone and GPS and silent velcro exists, we should have some way of keeping an examination chair sanitized without the goddamn tissue paper.

So after the standard warning the nurse always gives you, ("the doctor will be with you in just a few minutes,") and then the standard hour you have to wait after that, (and this is all after already sitting for hours in the waiting room,) and after you've examined every aspect of the office, (medical posters displaying anatomies of various organs and systems, the jars of tongue depressors, cotton balls and dum-dums, the boxes of latex gloves, etc. And then you notice the needle disposal bin that says "Bio-Hazard" on it which reminds you why you're here,) the doctor does his little courtesy knock, walks in with a folder, and he asks a lot of questions that you don't really know the answers to. ie: "Are you allergic to anything?" -- I now know that I'm allergic to shellfish but there was a time when I didn't know that yet and my answer to this question was always "Not that I know of." And he would nod his head and be ok with that answer. I mean, how are you supposed to know really? Isn't it possible that you're allergic to A LOT of things that you've just never been exposed to yet? the answer is yes, it is possible, but I guess it's not a big enough deal for them to investigate any further.
There has also been the question, "Are you a smoker?" -- I began smoking in high school but for the first year or so, it was just an occasional thing. I could make a pack of cigarettes last a couple months. So during this phase when asked this question, I'd have to say "Well, I've smoked, but I'm not a smoker." And he says, "Do you buy cigarettes?" "Yes, but they last a really long time though." I think he wrote me down as a smoker but I didn't feel that this was accurate. I didn't yet feel like a smoker. I didn't feel addicted. But I guess he had his reasons. Anyway...yeah doctors ask questions.

So I got the shot and as always, it's never as bad as you think it's going to be. Even now, 10 years later, I hate the idea of needles. Especially IVs. The thought of a needle entering your skin and then just staying in there makes me seriously queasy. But yeah, it's never all that bad.

Well...I've reached this point and realized I've come far from the point I was initially trying to make which was that when you're young, the years don't necessarily go by slow, but they seem to be full of so much more activity and discoveries and makes it feel as if they're going by slow. (I tried expressing this by discussing the time it took for that shot to finally come. However, I started ranting about the hospital itself and the whole experience of it which mostly wasn't true of that particular event. I don't even think I was in the hospital for this particular shot. I don't even specifically remember getting it but I remember thinking about it and I know that it DID happen, so that's what's important anyway.) But now, three months out of college, that same amount of time, three years, seemed to go by so much more quickly and was filled with so much less. The older you get, it seems your life is mostly comprised of repetition in small variances. But when you were young you were learning all of these things and experiencing all of this stuff for the first time so it seemed as if the years were more meaningful. There was something to live for but you didn't know just yet what it was. But when you find it, you lose something and it makes the years all blend together and before you know it....'re able to grow a beard.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


In an hour from now, (10:11 at the moment) the time will be 11:11.

To most people this happens to be a significant time. We've all heard that if you happen to look at a clock and it reads 11:11, you should go ahead and make a wish. It's much like a shooting star or the step before blowing out birthday candles. However, much like both of those things, wishing upon the time 11:11 rarely yields any results.

I remember learning of the 11:11 concept when I was probably a Sophomore in high school. It was brought to my attention by Lara Price. Lara has been the only true follower of the 11:11 rule since I've known her. If she notices it, she will always bring it up. Or at least she used to. Anyway, when I used to hang out with her, and she would announce that it was time for wishing, I would close my eyes, which apparently aids in your wishing, you always want to close your eyes, and I would wish for something, knowing that it would most likely not come true. I would usually wish for the same thing every time, just in case. And no, It never came true.

So after a certain amount of time I stopped wishing.

Now if I were the person reading this right now...I would assume that this post is going to end with me re-embracing the 11:11 policy and finally making my wish come true. That would be great for me.
But that unfortunately is not the case.

No, this post is about a coincidence that has so far spanned the length of about 2 weeks. Only today, about 30 minutes ago, did I declare it as such.

So here is what happened.

It seemed like I had been seeing 11:11 a lot more frequently. I would just casually be checking the time and there it was. Now...yes...we all do this. It's not really a big deal. So much so that it took me two weeks of seeing 11:11 almost every other day before it started seeming strange.

And that's really all I can say about the first two weeks. I saw it a lot.

Skip ahead now to the past three days.

Monday Night/Back Seat of Mike's car
Mike, West and I were driving to Jesse's house to drink. I'm sitting in the back seat and I look at the tiny digital clock on Mike's dashboard and it's 11:11.

Tuesday afternoon/Internship
I'm sitting at my internship typing up a detailed synopsis of a 15 page short story. I read the story. Wrote out notes. And then wrote a preliminary synopsis long-hand. I then sat and wrote out the actual copy on my computer. After typing the final period I look at the time. 11:11.

Tuesday evening/Car
Driving back from hanging out with Christina. It's raining hard. Cars are spitting watery mist all over the place. My windshield wipers are not working very well. I can barely see the lines on the roads. It was kind of scary. I had been paying extremely close attention to the road. And then the rain stopped and things began to get calmer. Now that I have a little time to relax, I pull out my phone to check the time. 11:11.

...At this point, I'm starting to be freaked out by this time. I feel like it is unnatural how many times I've noticed it. And I'm even considering writing about it since it's things like this that I have been writing about in this blog, (except for the last one, that was random.) But again, i talked myself out of it thinking it was too common of a thing to discuss.

So the turning point happens tonight, now maybe 45 minutes ago.

I don't have any new shows to watch. Nobody is in the house. I kind of just want to roll a J and watch something. So I decide to Hulu some recent Conan Obrien episodes. I choose one with guests Michael Moore, Seth MacFarlane and Rodrigo y Gabriela. So I'm watching it. Some laughs here and there. But then, after Moore and MacFarlane, Conan introduced Rodrigo y Gabriela and he lifts up their new album which is titled "11:11."

If that was anti-climactic for seems kind of bland...but to me it was a true "what the fuck?" moment.
Does this mean something? Does it mean I should re-gain some faith in wishing upon 11:11? I don't know. But this is what I'm going to do. It is 11:11 in 41 minutes.

And I am going to make a wish. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Have a Dog and His Name is Rags

Come back with me to Kindergarten....but first...look at that word. Kindergarten.


What a weird fucking word that is. Kindergarten.

Anyway....So back in Kindergarten and all through grade school, you probably remember having to memorize those stupid songs so that you could sing them to your parents at the "school concerts" during Christmas and Spring. I feel so sorry for my parents having to go to those. I know they say they were proud of me and were happy to see how much I accomplished but Goddamnit. A bunch of high pitched kids that don't know how to sing....all singing at one time in unison. It had to be awful. My mom, for whatever reason, videotaped all of them, as if we were ever going to watch them again.
I will admit...I often will visit home and put in some old home videos. I think they're hilarious and entertaining and kind of informational. But those old "school concert" videos? No. I've never re-watched them because they have to be excruciating. At no point in my life do I think I will ever have the desire or the need to re-experience any of that.

But this almost has nothing to do with what I'm trying to say.

In Kindergarten, in preparation for one of these concerts, my teacher, Mrs. Rentfro, had a little song for us to memorize. And that song was "My Dog Rags." Now being as this was Kindergarten, I don't have a perfect recollection of all of this but I'll do my best to give you the play by play.

Now from what I can remember, my teacher had made up this song herself. (I don't believe that's true anymore, but at the time up until a week ago I did.) I remember her coming to us one day and talking to us about this wonderful song that we were going to be singing about a dog named Rags. She told us the lyrics as so:

I have a dog, his name is Rags
He eats so much that his belly sags
His ears flip flop and his tail wig wags

And then she stopped. She asked us, thinking for some reason that we as Kindergartens had the ability to be creative, what that last rhyme could be. Something that rhymes with wig wag.
I remembrer thinking really hard about it and coming up with nothing. And then the girl next to me raised her hand. Brooke Burgener.

I want to take a second and describe my relationship with Brooke Burgener in Kindergarten. Not that it will contribute anything at all to the story, but just because I feel like sharing it while it's in my mind.

Mine and Brooke's relationship began with a pair of pink scissors. We both had a pair. I did not come to Kindergarten equipped with scissors. Mrs. Rentfro however was prepared for this and had extras to give out. I got the last of them and they happened to be pink. Whatever. I had pink scissors.
Anyway, I was a 5 years old boy. I colored outside the lines, I got dirty at recess, I pretended to sleep at nap time. Whatever. I didn't give a fuck. So when it came to projects that involved paper, glue, and scissors, I didn't wait for glue to dry. I don't have time for that. I cut right the fuck through it, glue and all. Eventually, after enough of these projects, my scissors became ruined. They wouldn't cut for shit.
Brooke Burgener's pink scissors however were in perfect condition. They cut paper so well. I was envious of them. Being what I thought was clever back then, I would often switch out our scissors while she wasn't looking, sure she wouldn't notice based alone on the fact that they're pink. How would she be able to tell the difference?
Well she did. And we had an on-going battle throughout that particular seating arrangement. It eventually ended with me getting a new pair of scissors. Blue scissors. But anyway. Brooke and I didn't get off on the right foot.

Now bag to Rags the dog.
We needed something that rhymed with wig wag. Brooke raises her hand.

What if he didn't walk straight and he walked zig zag instead.

Good job Brooke.
So from that point on, the song came to be,

...And when he walks he walks, zig-zag
He goes flip-flop
He goes flip-flop
I love Rags and he loves me

And that's the story of how the song My Dog Rags came to be.


Fast forward 16 years. I'm sitting in my apartment. I'm in college. I'm watching the movie Short Cuts. I haven't thought about My dog Rags in 16 years. There is a scene in Short Cuts with Julianne Moore, the guy from Tremors, Dennis and Dee's mom from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and some other blonde guy. Julianne Moore and the mom from It's Always Sunny are drunk and singing. Do you know what song they're singing? Do you?

Fucking, My Dog Rags. They're singing My Dog Rags. How is this possible? All of these years thinking my Kindergarten teacher wrote that song and here it is being sung in a movie that was made in 1993 which was the year that I was actually in Kindergarten.

And do you know what else? Guess how Rags walked in the Short Cuts version?

I felt so much at that moment. I don't know what. I just felt lied to. I felt betrayed. But I also felt a little satisfied knowing that Brooke Burgener wasn't as clever as I always thought she was.

And so, I may never know the genius mind who truly wrote "My Dog Rags."

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Dream About Violence

Last night, I had a strange dream.

It was someone's wedding day and they held the reception at my parent's house in Illinois where we have large yards, a barn, two machine sheds, cornfields and an out of use chicken house. Lots of hiding places. This became useful in the dream when the festivities actually began. I will try and describe this the best that I can.

So this game is every man for himself. Everybody spreads apart, kind of like hide n' seek, and hides while one person searches everybody out. The weird thing is that rather than just finding them and saying, "you're it," the person must inflict enough harm on the person they find that would normally result in their death. However, in this game, rather than dying, they now join forces with the team that seeks out hiders. Once you've joined the seeking team, your wounds heal and you become evil all of a sudden.
Now two seekers are looking for people to "kill." And then three, and the four....

Over enough time, the seeker team builds itself an army. The catch here is that when you become a seeker, your regular senses are of no use to you anymore. You sense movement from all directions and you sense panic. With that said, the main skill that the hider must worry about is finding a hiding spot that has many exit points and sitting there quietly and still while at the same time trying to remain calm.

The fun thing is that the hiders aren't just sitting ducks. It's all fair game. They can hit back just as much. The only difference is that once a hider "kills" a seeker, the seeker is dead.

Now as for me, I manage to remain a hider for the entirety of the dream. My weapon is a giant crescent wrench that weighs about ten pounds. I just hit everybody over the head and that usually does it for them. A second hit was sometimes necessary.

What's even stranger is that nobody in the dream sees this as an act of violence. It's all a game. Some people are just spectators that cheer and laugh and get excited as the game escalates.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wiper Fluid

5:45 a.m. - Alarm Goes Off - SNOOZE
5:50 a.m. - Alarm Goes Off - SNOOZE
5:55 a.m. - Alarm Goes Off - SNOOZE
6:00 a.m. - Alarm Goes Off - SNOOZE
6:05 a.m. - Alarm Goes Off - Continue laying with my eyes closed waiting for it one more time.



Got my wallet, keys, computer, book, phone.


Forgot sunglasses. Walk back.


Buy juice and cigarettes. 7 bucks.

Begin hour - hour and ten minute drive to work.

So this is where I will begin. I don't think it matters how old I get or how extensively I attempt to train myself. I will never be a morning person.
Don't ask me questions.
Don't tell me jokes.
Don't turn the lights on.
Turn the TV down.
Don't lecture me.
Just keep your distance.
So my drive usually begins with me selecting the music for the day. It sometimes takes a while.

Today's Choice:
The Notwist - Neon Golden

If you're not familiar with this band or this album, it's like a mellow more band oriented version of the Postal Service. If that means nothing to you, it's kind of electronic but there's still clearly instruments being played and the vocals are smooth and relaxing...he sings like the way a person talks when there deeply upset about something, exerting the most minimal amount of sound before it simply becomes a whisper. Something you can really zone out to....and that is just what I did.

The sun was directly in front of me and still in its beginning stages of rising. Had I not gone back inside to get the sun glasses there would have been a good chance of me going blind. However, because I was not being blinded, I noticed that my windshield was quite filthy. You would think that because this is titled 'Wiper Fluid,' this would be where the wiper fluid come into the story.

But it isn't.

However, I did not clean the filth off because I have shit wiper blades that just smear and turn my windshield in to a window covered in a weird transparent paint. It's not good when you're doing 70 and people are driving like idiots anyway.


And then it happens. And when I tell you what happens, you are going to completely disappointed in me.
About two lanes over from me. I see the bright ass sun reflecting a bunch of mist flying from the roof of a little blue car's roof. It went on for about 4 to 5 seconds and then stopped. Obviously this was the result of someone who wasn't so willing to let their windshield be covered in bug guts and bird shit. The Wiper Fluid. This is what it was about the whole time.

.....but only because those 3 to 4 seconds it took me to process that it was simply wiper fluid, I was completely mystified. Really, I said to myself, "whoa." And that is because I have never in my life seen this happening. It is such a tiny insignificant thing that I can guarantee happens a million times a day and yet I've never witnessed it.

I then noticed the red car that trailed the little blue car. And I wondered if he was thinking the same thing. Or was he just pissed that his windshield is now beaded with water droplets, causing him to clean his windshield as well? And what if he has shit wiper blades too, he doesn't see a trail of brake lights popping on in front of him, slowly making their way to him until it's too late and he rear-ends someone, who is then late for work, and because this guy was late for work, maybe he works at UPS and a shipment went out late, and because the shipment went out late, a package on it's way to whoever it is going to breaks inside it's box because the driver couldn't avoid hitting a dead animal in the road that had just been killed seconds before, and because the package was broken, the customer who bought it will be angry or upset the rest of the day, causing them to do something completely different than what they would normally do, which would then effect something else and the something else....

ANDSOMETHINGANDSOMETHINGANDSOMETHING....all because of some tiny drops of water.

This thought went through my head way faster than it took you to read it but probably much more broad. And I then went on with the rest of my day.

6:45 p.m. - 15 minutes left of work.
6:46 p.m. - Only a minute has passed. Check facebook.
6:48 p.m. - 12 minutes. Stop looking at the clock.
6:48 and 2 seconds p.m. - Go to the bathroom. Wash hands thoroughly. Dry well.
6:57 p.m. - Pack up computer. Throw away trash. Push in my chair. Grab a fresh water bottle out of the refrigerator......and....and.....and....7:00 p.m. - GO HOME

So now, the sun is setting. It's silhouetting the mountains and is actually really beautiful if you just sit back and pay attention to it. And not in a descriptive poetry kind of way, it just is really a sight for sore eyes. And it's different here. The sunsets, as much as I'd like to not believe it, are way better in California. I don't even know how or why or in what way. They just are. But you have to pay attention or you'll miss it.

So same routine as before. On the way back I switch music.

Devendra Banhart - Rejoicing in the Hands

I successfully zone out to Devendra as well, only this time smoking more cigarettes. A long day of doing almost nothing is a lot more stressful than you might think. But once you get out of the traffic, it's a great drive that time of day. I pretty much get to see the sunset everyday.

So I'm digging everything that's going on right now and I'm zoned out. And I was changing lanes, water droplets started accumulating on my windshield. Having just turned the turn signal, I checked to make sure I didn't just accidentally spray it on myself. That wasn't the case. And it definitely wasn't raining.
No, the car in front of me also can't stand a dirty windshield. And with the sun in my face for the second time today, I couldn't see and I had to use my wipers. And there was smearing, and temporary opacity. But eventually I could see.

And I drove the rest of the way home, not hearing Devendra at all anymore.