Friday, July 31, 2009

All the Black Is Really White (Chapter 1 sample)

There were a lot of things about him that stick out to me now but I really remember the exact moment that drove me to try to get to know Anton Ensam. It was the beginning of the summer after I had graduated from the University of Minnesota (after a not so unceremonious five year tenure) and I had just moved into a new place. For the first few days after I moved into this new apartment, I would go down the stairs to the back of the building to take out the trash and/or recycling and somehow I’d always catch Anton dropping off his trash and/or recycling as well. He seemed to always bring out two bags: one full of folded boxes of Count Chocula with the back-of-the-box activities all filled in and the other full of empty bottles of Jamaican beer. He looked to be pretty young, around my age, and as far as I knew, he had no friends or family living with him and he was always wearing one of those Russian winter hats with the big earflaps, even when he was only in his pajamas, usually covered by this long, ratty bathrobe. Needless to say, I wanted to get to know this guy.
It was an early and strangely frigid mid-June morning, a Saturday at around 7 AM when events became set into motion without any intention of ceasing. I awoke staring at my ceiling, shivering since I had left the window open last night, so I pulled my blanket up to my neck, attempting to blink the sleep out of my eyes. I looked to my right and noticed that Azalea, my recently-made ex-girlfriend (whom I of course was still sleeping with on a nightly basis) was no longer lying down next to me. My secret celebration in my head ceased immediately when I looked down to the end of my bed and saw her sitting there, her pale bare back well-defined by the angle of the light peeking in through the window, facing away from me, staring at quite possibly nothing, and my self-loathing resumed. She must have heard my movements (or my presumptuous sigh of relief) and she turned, giving me a slight smile.
“Morning,” she said. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes one more time and reached over for the half-smoked joint from the night before on the nightstand next to my bed, lighting up.
“Hey,” I replied, exhaling smoke skyward, as I lay my head back down, trying to will her out of my apartment. A silence pervaded for what felt like far too long, most likely because it probably was.
“So…” Azalea began.
“I don’t know if my self-respect can take another nightly visit from you,” I said. Azalea turned back away, continuing to stare at nothing. She muttered something. Without thinking I asked:
“What?” She shook her head. I persisted, raising my head to see her better:
“What’d you say?”
She turned to me, her eyes filled with the all-too-familiar resentment. “You are such an asshole.” I lowered my head back to my pillow, taking another hit, closing my eyes.
“Guilty,” I replied. She didn’t say anything else at that point. The only noise then was her looking for her clothes that had been discarded all over the room the night before in our fit of forced, cadaverous passion. As she picked up her purse she gave me one last look of the familiar resentment and said, “Yeah, as if you aren’t the one who invites me over,” and she left me to the sounds of her shoes thumping down my hallway and of my door slamming.
I lay there for several minutes, continuing to stare at my ceiling, the cold air again blowing through my open window, causing my motionless ceiling fan to rotate a few times before falling completely still again.

It was that particular morning that I decided to say hello to Anton. To this day I’m not really sure why I did it; maybe it did have something to do with the fact that my ex-girlfriend had just walked out of my apartment about thirty minutes before without any intention of returning. I don’t know. Regardless, after Azalea had stormed out, I was taking out the two bags of recycling that I had since I had very little else to do and sure enough, Anton was out there doing the same, and I suddenly felt compelled to make my presence known beyond the nodded hello we would occasionally granted each other. It did strike me as somewhat odd that it had taken me a long time to even say hello to the guy, but I guess I was so enamored by his perceived eccentricities that I didn’t want to break the cycle he seemed to be living that kept me so intrigued. As I put down my bags of recycling in one of the blue bins near the dumpsters of our building, he was coming outside in his usual morning attire and I raised my hand.
“Hey how’s it going?” I asked. He didn’t jump, but the look on his face suggested that he didn’t expect anyone to ever talk to him.
“Hey,” he replied and didn’t say anything as he placed his beer bottle- and Count Chocula box-filled bags into another blue bin. I watched him do this for a beat before I outstretched my hand into his path.
“I’m Silas,” I said, “I just moved in a couple weeks ago, actually. I mean, since you’re pretty much the only person I’ve seen since then, I figured I’d say ‘hey’ or whatever.”
“Oh,” he replied and he took my hand as if it would attack him at the slightest provocation. “I’m Anton.”
“Nice to meet ya, man,” I said, smiling.
“Yeah, you too,” he replied, giving a weak smile back, and quickly walked back inside, leaving me with a quizzical smile on my face for a few moments.
“Weird,” I said to myself, still smiling.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This will only hurt a little...

We really are a stupid people.

"Study: Tanning beds can be as deadly as arsenic" reads one of the many top headlines circulating the interwebs, televised news, and most likely printed publications as the week goes on.

Apparently THIS WEEK tanning beds and other sources of UV radiation were moved by cancer experts into the upper echelons of carcinogenic agents. Did I mention that this was confirmed THIS week? As in within the last 72 hours or so? As in, not long fucking ago when it had been pretty goddamn apparent for many, many decades that someone sporting leathery brown skin one could light a match off of didn't look healthy? Look, I am not saying having color is bad (believe me I wish I could join the ranks of those that are blessed with complexion not that of a sheet of paper); healthy, non-prolonged exposure to sun is obviously fine. We've lived thousands upon thousands of years knowing this at some level or another. But we need a study in Two-Thousand-goddamn-NINE to tell us tanning excessively is BAD for us? I mean seriously: I cannot say anymore than what I have already said. I'm just too pissed to try to go on a more lengthy rant about this so I end on the following note and a nice photo to go along with it:

How. Fucking. Stupid. ARE WE?

Monday, July 20, 2009

The REAL Ugly Truth

I recently watched He's Just Not That Into You (don't ask why I did that; the best explanation I can come up with is the one I had for seeing Twilight) and have seen the trailer for The Ugly Truth for forty-eighth time and upon hearing the wild shrieking laughter, mostly for The Ugly Truth trailer, the vein in my forehead protruded once more. They are capitalizing on one of the things that has bothered me for the longest time, essentially since I first became interested in the fairer sex. What they are capitalizing on is this notion that there are distinct differences between what men want and what women want; who men are and who women are. If these films reflected reality in any way, men would all be boorish clowns that only have fucking and sucking on the brain and women are conniving vixens that really just want intimacy and love and all of those sweet things that you can only find with the One Guy.

Now I want to say that there has been a recent scourge of films of this nature, but in reality, these films have been around forever. Comedies (if you can call them that) have ALWAYS capitalized one the differences between men and women. But as the years went by, these films became less and less attached to reality and the simple humor OF the differences speaking for themselves and ended up actually CREATING the differences. That's what is so goddamn unbearable about these asinine films: they have essentially created these notions that men are this and women are that. I hate getting trapped into one of those inane conversations where, for example, some female friend of mine will inquire "what does this mean when a guy does this?" or "why do guys do that?" or a male friend of mine will ask "why are women so needy?" or "why do women think this matters?" and I just want to smack them out of their little one-dimensional perspective on gender differences.

If I have learned ANYTHING, be it through extensive time in psychology courses or simply spending an afternoon with a lovely and charming female, it's that we cannot separate the two sexes into distinct categories based on cultural memes. I mean Jesus H. Christ, I know plenty of women who have sex on the brain more than I do (and if you don't detect pent up sexual tension in me, then you don't know me at all). I hate to break it to people who would love to believe otherwise, but women love sex just as much as, if not MORE than, men do and they think about it just as often. Hell, a lot of them don't even think love matters when banging a guy (oh NO; that simply CANNOT be true!). And guess what! Women can be just as jealous if not MORE jealous than guys. Oh and get this: sometimes all men want is to be loved and have intimacy! And contrary to popular belief, women will drop a deuce from time to time. Apart from our differences in posture when we piss, there's absolutely NO WAY AT ALL to actually generalize between the two sexes.

As humans, we have a tendency to generalize; I recognize that. But it has become, as far as I'm concerned, an infectious cultural disease in so many ways, this not being the least of them. Sure it can provide a good larf now and then when going to the cinema, but it's simplistic thinking. This is infectious because, like an infection, it spreads. Films like these reinforce these absolutely retarded notions of gender difference where there is none and end up getting pushed along down the cultural ladder until we end up babbling, generalizing morons...oh wait...maybe we're too late.

Look I know men and women are different. But did people ever stop to think that maybe it's PEOPLE that are different? That maybe, perhaps, POSSIBLY, we are all individuals, and generalizations and categorizations about behavior and personality based on what hangs or doesn't hang between our legs aren't real or relevant? I'm almost 23 years young and I've come to learn something fundamental about life, the REAL Ugly Truth, if you will. The only real generalization we can ever make is this: we all eat the same, we all shit the same, and we all die the same.