Epiphany in Effigy: Burn that fucker down

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Well, last night (after polishing off a bottle of cheap wine and a 6 pack of beer to celebrate a year of absolute shit), I had a such a shocking moment of insight about how to do my funeral that it gave me whiplash.

You see, for the past very many years I have been toting around a 5′ high singing dancing tuxedoed halloween skeleton that my ex and I picked up from Walmart.  It is one of the coolest, but most singularly useless, things I own.  Even in the face of all my recent minimalism, it never even occurred to me to get rid of it.  Now I’m glad I didn’t!

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This skeleton will be the centerpiece of my funeral, standing in effigy for me amidst a pile of those possessions most important to me and my sense of self.  When the day comes, it will be wearing some of the clothes that have meant most to me and the entire pile – books, mementos, notes, and history, will be set on fire.

And that will be that.

I’m still not sure…what to do about the viewing. Perhaps it will be broadcast on the web, perhaps others will be there in person, perhaps a mix of both. I don’t know. But in any case, party planning is coming together.

Panic at the Disco

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I went to see Clutch play in concert by myself tonight – a band Anonymous Woman introduced me to.  They were phenomenal, and the pit was a blast.  Still, I lasted about 3 songs into the set before I had to ditch. I had an unshakeable urge to just get the fuck out and get air.  After while, I almost went back in, but couldn’t make myself and I wasn’t sure why.  Good music, a nice crowd (considering we were almost pummeling each other), and a pretty good mood.  Oh well.

I’m able to cope with being around people less and less – I think it’s the burden of trying to keep a straight face and pretend I’m still around and engaged. I’m not.  It’s too hard – it’s always been too hard – to hold together a modicum of coherent self externally and more and more I just don’t want to try any more.

Man, spring can’t come soon enough; It feels weird being in a race with yourself.

 

Rebellion of the Malformed Ego: Thoughts on Violence in the US

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I don’t really want to talk about Connecticut – in every respect it should be just left as what it was: a terrible wound in the world. But after all of the subsequent events and close calls, I thought it was worth posting this elsewhere:

In the past two decades, we have radically changed what it means to be a human in the United States. Our food has changed genetically, our ability to distinguish between real and imagined has changed, the types of work we spend all day doing has changed. We are inundated with inhuman amounts of data with little context, the amount of time we have to spend on processing change has been decimated,and our insulation from nature in many cases has dramatically gone up. etc, etc. I think it is probably a bit naive to think that the recent increase in people going off is simple or unrelated to these substantial changes in our environment. I also think it is probably a bit naive to think simple solutions will make us any safer no matter how much we want them to.

There’s more that needs to be said, though, in the context of this blog.  The more I read up on our human sense of self, the more I come to understand exactly how much it is very literally a reflection of the world around us.  We learn who we are from others – individuals specifically, but society in general. Without others in our lives as babies, and without a common “social” construct, we are (in many senses) animals without the frame of reference required for a sense of “I” or “me” to be created in. And, once we learn who we are, we engage in a battle for the rest of our lives to continue “becoming” ourselves in the face of often contradictory or impossible societal, familial, and cultural expectations.

Given that, and given how little time society has had to adapt to tremendous changes in our reality, I have to wonder if the outward discord is creating malformed, torn ego’s in the world and if some of them are, in fact, breaking violently in an attempt to fill what, for some individuals, might be considered impossibly flawed gaps.

I’ve seen a few blog posts and news articles circling – but not quite dipping all the way into – this topic.  I’ll be curious to see if it’s eventually borne out by actual research.  Anything would be better than blaming guns or blaming “crazy” people.  Those perspectives are simplistic mob-justice non-scientific cop outs.

Death, Food, and Karaoke: Some Asides

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Just a quick few thoughts more tonight before my non-Christmas eve closes out:

First, it’s one thing to know someone’s going to die.  It’s quite another to a) believe they’re going to do it on purpose b) know it would be the right thing for them c) have to stand by and watch helpless.  Ultimately, that’s not the way it panned out the other day but it was a harsh reminder that the absurdly poetic aspects of life are dirty and bloody and painful and wet and final.

Second, holy god.  Significant diet changes **really** affect my mood.  I’ve been incredibly depressed lately – not in my normal state of…well..whatever this blog is…but lethargic and unable to do much beside watch Doctor Who and play Same Game.  Looking back at timing, it goes back to when I adjusted what I was eating dramatically to save money. I’m going to have to rethink that bit or I’ll be a lot less lively at my funeral than I’d like to be.

Third, I got to karaoke with two friends last week who both travel the world and we collectively kicked ass.  It was an unexpected, surprising success. People were roaring and patting us on our backs.  Nothing like growling out an angry version of Wicked Game to cover a shitty singing voice – especially with a hot female vocal joining you.

Fourth, it helps that I really don’t care how this turns out. It’s all upside. At best, I get to walk across the country and experience new people, new places, new everything. At worst, it’s a total failure after trying instead of a total failure without trying.

Progress

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1. This weekend, I started playing xbox while on the treadmill.  I’m trying to get used to walking all the time.

2. My long distance girlfriend broke up with me.  She’s living a hard hard life right now and it’s not surprising that any actual kind of regular interaction would be too much. Personal feelings aside, it frees me up to do this even more than I was before.

3. Work has gotten sketchy.  This again, is a good thing.  I won’t feel bad or conflicted about starting a fundraiser.  I just need to make it to June. 6 Months and go.

4. A notice came in the mail saying I need to send notice to vacate 60 days ahead of time. I’m going to.  That puts me without a lease by the end of March. I think I’ll get a room for 2 months, crash with friends for 1 month if they’ll have me.

5. I started boxing things up that I want to get rid of tonight. Some I will give away, some we will burn at my funeral.

 

Joy Division Had it Wrong….

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..when they sang “..don’t walk away….don’t walk away…”

It’s a simple plan, really.  I’m going to throw myself away and see if there’s anything left underneath. The material trappings and baggage are anchors to a ship which has already sunk. So, come spring, I am going to light it on fire and walk away.  Everything I don’t need to survive will be gone and my lease will not be renewed.   I’m going to give away or torch every crutch, excuse, and alibi I have.

Goodbye, self.  Maybe someone else will come out at the end of this walk, maybe not.

Euphemism? No, I really think I’m going to walk – probably from the east coast of the United States to the west.  The southern route. I always wanted to spend time in the desert.

Training has already started,  I’ve begun acquiring gear, and the budget is in motion to close out my life.

(This was already summed up in my About page, but tonight I needed to remind myself and see if it still felt right after writing it again.)

A Prayer of Peace for the Courageous and Strong

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Sometimes you meet someone who has fought harder, longer, and with more integrity and passion than you ever could.

Sometimes you meet someone who’s faults stack up like bodies against castle walls but who still manages to be more than anyone else.

Sometimes you meet someone who has stood alone against life’s armies, and who, victorious, with sword in hand, still asks for more.

Sometimes, you wish someone would quietly put a bullet in the back of their head. They shouldn’t have to see or know that the next army is coming, the one that won’t ever stop and which will finally overwhelm them.

Some people have done enough. They deserve peace.  They shouldn’t have to be strong enough to watch the tidal wave’s final approach. They shouldn’t have to feel like it wasn’t enough that they couldn’t hold the whole world on their back.

Dear god, please give an ounce of quiet and solace to the deserved.

 

A Phobia of Stuff

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Not long ago, after a night of drinking, I came home and tried to throw my bed – mattress and boxsprings – into the dumpster. I wanted them gone.  I wanted to sleep on the floor. I needed the minimalism.

Luckily, I passed out before I could do any damage and a cooler perspective prevailed in the am.  Still, this was part of a longer trend and a real enough impulse that if I had remained conscious, I really would be sleeping on memory foam alone now.

I can’t say when it started, but I have been shedding material possessions for some time and lately it’s reached a frenetic pace. At this point, in a two bedroom apartment, furniture I own includes:

1 mattress and box spring, 1 loveseat, 1 bookshelf, 1 small side table, 2 metal tv stands from IKEA, 1 small metal stand of drawers, a foldable chair, a treadmill, a treadmill desk, and a bowflex.

My kitchen pots and pans aren’t even that. I have one pot, one pan, a rice cooker, 2 spatulas, 2 cutting knives, and disposable utensils. I do not own a microwave.

My book collection has been reduced from “a hundred” to “tenish”.

etc.

The point is, I don’t have much stuff. Other than the exercise equipment, it could all conceivably fit into a studio apartment.

And I am having an absolutely outright panic attack over it.  Still.  After giving or throwing away thousands of dollars and thousands of pounds of stuff.

Why?

As my spring funeral approaches, I realize more and more that I’ve failed to control my environment and let it control me.  I have abdicated throughout my life, whether through intent, accident, biology, or character flaws, control of myself.  As I’ve allowed myself to be shuffled down the path of least resistance (perhaps in the manner of L’etranger ), I have put myself in a corner that I do not know how to get out of.  And, in a nonsensical attempt to reduce this complexity enough to claw my way out of the corner, I’ve given myself a sort of Phobia of Stuff.

This might seen shrug-worthy to some, but it’s really not. Not to me.  It’s just hard to explain the tight burning horrible ball of bunched up mental and emotional stress that “owning things” creates in me – or what it feels like.

I keep thinking that if I can get to a point where I can name, from memory, every single object I own, then maybe I’ll no longer feel crushed. At least not by the weight of this one aspect of my environment.  My life choices at any given juncture will not be constrained by physical baggage. I will be more free.

Right now, though, I have a conundrum.  I’m sitting on that 1 love seat (a beautiful white leather one) surveying my apartment mentally listing all those things I must have vs those I merely think I want and it’s HARD.  I mean, what the fuck do I really need with that ripped paper lantern I picked up in Vietnam? Or an electronic keyboard I’ve played 3 times in 5 years?  I don’t. I have no need. But still, here we sit staring each other down.

It strikes me as curious that, although I’d been willing to give up these things to real death earlier on in my life, I’m still clinging to them now as I march on toward another kind of death.  I don’t know why that is.  But I do know that eventually I will let them go.  If I can’t bear to give them, sell them, or trash them, then I will burn them.  The detritus of my life will not be left to litter the future.

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Adding to the last post, I want to emphasize how serious I am.  This blog is not intended to be cathartic, I do not need to air my crap to the world just to do it, I am not looking for sympathy.  Instead, I am hoping to document the very concrete steps I’m taking to achieve very specific objectives and, through the act of documentation, actually increase the likelihood of success.

“I plan on going to my own funeral” is not a euphemism or symbolic. I mean it literally.

Definitions, Suicide, and Murder.

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Ego | noun | \ˈē-(ˌ)gō also ˈe-\
The “self” especially as contrasted with another self or the world

Po·lem·ic | noun | \pə-ˈle-mik\
An aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another

On a fall day just a year ago, I woke up early in the morning, got into my car, drove down a long windy backwoods road, and intentionally veered into a tree.  I wasn’t going very fast and both myself and the vehicle survived intact, but the attempt was real nonetheless.  An hour later, my friend, whose family I was living with at the time, woke up for work and found me sitting on her front door step drinking straight vodka and smoking a cigarette. We went to the office together that day as if everything was normal.

Later, this year, while living with still other friends, I watched with the rest of the twitter world as the Mars rover descended.  It was amazing and glorious and perfect.  Earlier that night, though, while my hosts were downstairs living their lives, I had dialed and hung up on the suicide hotline several times.  My browser history overflowed with methods, techniques, perspectives, communities, and hotlines.  I was in desperate fear for my life and was struggling to find a way to keep holding on.  I needed someone to talk to. By then, though, I’d already felt the last adrenaline surge that comes when both real and emotional muscle are about to fail.  I didn’t believe I would be able to hold on, no matter how tight my grip or who I called.

Luckily, for whatever reason, the Mars Rover event saved me that night. Go figure.

I mean, it’s not like I wanted to die – and I certainly don’t now. But the fact is, the exhaustion remains.  I don’t believe I have a choice. Sooner or later, the sweat soaked grip will slip and I’ll fall. There won’t always be a miraculously timed twitter event.

All this makes me feel ashamed. It’s not like I have it rough, after all.

I have a beautiful, understanding, perfect girlfriend whose strength and honesty in the face of her own personal tragedies are nothing short of super human and are inspiring to me every day.

My job requires little effort, pays well, and is in a space that I’m comfortable in.

My parents and siblings love me, my friends like me.

I have a home.

Life is good.

Except…

I can’t do it.  I’m not good at being me, never have been, and never will be.  I wear my life, my relationship with the world, my sense of self all like a 100-pound one-size-fits-all halloween costume.  It makes me sweat and makes me panic. Doing the simplest things is almost impossible.  I can barely pay bills on time and I make six figures. One day, I will probably go to jail because I fucked up some paperwork by mistake.

My head is all noise and some days I’m frankly surprised I can speak.

Physically, I’m in terrible shape – I used to eat to self medicate and dull my senses so I didn’t *feel* anything anymore.  (Protip: If you’re squeamish about drugs, oversaturating yourself with carbs, protein, and sugar all of the time every day goes along way to keeping yourself from feeling yourself.) But now I can’t do that any more, I’m left to face myself every day and I can’t do it.

Still, I do want to live. Very much so. Faced with actual death several times over the course of my life, I’ve violently rejected and refused it every time.  I’m not unhappy. I love being alive. I just. can’t. do. it.

So the question then is, how do I reconcile the desire for life with the very real likelihood that exhaustion will make desire moot?

By killing my “self”.  By killing off my ego.  By terminating, with extreme prejudice,  my external sense – born out of others eyes – of who I am. By starting over and building a new ego from scratch.

I plan on going to my own funeral this year and I hope this blog will document the process.  I intend for it to be an aggressive argument against my “self” – an ego polemic.

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