Tuesday, October 11, 2011

From the Outside: Blowing in the Wind

For months, I was suffering from an existential crisis, a state of extreme ennui. I was in a coma in which I could not act, did not want to act, and felt if I did act, everything would be shitty anyway. It was my attitude that made everything shitty. I was trapped in this horrible state of boredom, malaise, weariness, negativity, and cynicism-- a state called not giving a fuck about anything.

My attitude, my state...they affected my life tremendously. I was paralyzed. Immobile. I was convinced that everything in the entire world was lame, boring, not worth my time. I hated the world. I was convinced that everyone hated me-- that everyone was against me. I was convinced that hardly an ounce of goodness could come from human relationships. And even if goodness could come from them, what would be the point? We're all gonna die anyway. Why bother? Why hope? Why care? Why change your life when nothing really matters? Why give a fuck?

The existential crisis is over. I have moved on. I have realized that it's ME who makes my own happiness, my own meaning. The world will not make it for me. The world doesn't even notice. And I wasn't going to kill myself, so I would go on living, regardless of my shitty state. So, why not make it joyful? Why suffer unnecessarily? Why not make my own meaning?

There's a song and the lyric goes, "Well, I don't know what I'm looking for, but I know that I just want to live some more." And I kept playing that lyric over and over in my head. It was clear. I wasn't gonna die. So, why not live?

And I have the answers now to important questions...

How do you get yourself out of ennui?
You get yourself out of ennui.

How do you stop believing that the human race hates you and that you hate them right back?
You stop believing that the human race hates you and that you hate them right back.

How do you live?
You live.

I was making progress for a while. Until I hit a new wall. Until I realized that at my core, I am someone who never really hated the world. It is at the crux of my personality to not hate the world. It is at the crux of my personality to be empathetic, to care, and to want people to be happy (not as ants marching along, but to question their lives and to achieve real potential that has meaning and isn't based in what's been shoveled into their mouths by social and corporate brainwashing).

But this should be good right? I wasn't really an awful, hateful person all along. I was just scared and detached. For at the heart of my personality is another core element-- I tend to care too much so I defend myself, from hurt and pain and all that comes with caring, by not caring at all. I've done this for years unconsciously. I am now conscious of it.

But I'm experiencing a lot of uncertainty. I'm in a crisis. I don't know who I am anymore.

I lived for so long as this person who "hated" the world. Who had so much hate for everyone. Who took extreme measures to shield herself. This was my identity. My sense of my Self. It felt rigid and fixed. Even though it was based in negativity, it felt safe. Safety. What a human motivator.

And now I find myself recognizing that I was never really that person at all. And that there's good in me that can be harnessed. But I don't know this path. It's foreign to me. It's scary. I feel like I'm on this path that I've never taken, it's dark, and I don't have a flashlight. I feel myself bumping into things. Colliding into them in the dark.

And all this self-awareness is maddening. But it's important. Growing pains are important. Without growth, how can I live? Without growth, I'm apt to fall right back into that coma.

But I'm scared as I enter this crisis. I don't know who I want to be. I don't know what parts of my personality to harness and which parts to throw away.

I know that I am done hating. I know that I don't want to be the way that I was. But how can I be the best "ME" that I can be? How can I achieve a greater Self?

And sometimes I don't even feel like I'm on the path at all. Sometimes I feel like I've floated off the path. Like I've lost my grip. Like I'm just lost. Like I'm a balloon that someone let go of.

The old path was a bad path. It was hardly a path at all. I was pulled to the side of the road. But on that path, my feet touched the ground. I knew who I "was" even if who I "was" wasn't who I really needed to be nor who I really am at my core. There is safety in the known.

If you don't move, at least you know where you are.

I wonder if this is what it feels like to lose your sanity. One of the core elements of insanity is losing your grip on the world. To lack grounding. To float.

And then I read about my personality, it's one of the "Idealist" types. And I'm troubled because Keirsey says that: "For NFs the search for Self is a quest which becomes very much an end in itself...Idealists can become trapped in a paradox: they are themselves only if they are searching for themselves, and they would cease being themselves if they ever found themselves."

So, having gone from existential crisis to identity crisis, how do you resolve said identity crisis when it's at the core of your personality to be in an identity crisis?

I am lost.

I am blowing in the wind.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Absurdity

The day a good friend of mine died, the lead Yahoo! News story involved two actresses who wore the same dress.

TV: A Poem

TV
cigarette, lung function
smoke Away™
or your money back
hair loss doesn’t have to
hamper your style
daily moisture formula
DSL
Instant replay
I love my digital camera!
now it’s easy
the unpleasant duty of gaining weight
for occupational purposes
the must-have
bust of all-time
exclusive
business suit, bathing-
suit

Mourning Ideas

In life, we don't just mourn the death of people. We mourn the death of things that don't live up to our ideals. Situations that we originally conceived of one way but ended up blind-siding us when the true reality becomes apparent.

How do you process this "mourning"? It depends on whether you're a thinker or a feeler. Everyone is a little bit of both but we all tend to have a dominant mode.

I'm a feeler. When I mourn, I experience it as a feeler experiences it. It is an acute emotional pain. I feel it from every angle. I feel it from the perspective of all parties.

My husband is a thinker. When he mourns, it is primarily on a logical, rational level. He processes it in terms of facts. He processes the "mourning" faster than I process it because he understands it on a fact-based level. He doesn't have to sort through the emotional complexity that bogs me down.

Mourning is not optimal. But mourning is inevitable.

From the Outside: Asking the Right Questions

In the last post, I wrote about being an outsider and how as outsiders we tend to define ourselves by what we are not. We are not them but that doesn't necessarily mean we know who we are. We continue to ask, "Who Am I?"

Looking back at journals from 10 years ago, it is apparent that I have been asking this question for quite some time. But, now, a decade later, I realize that I've been asking the wrong question. My framework is completely wrong. Outsiders should not be asking ourselves who we are-- we should be asking ourselves who we want to be.

Within certain limits, we control who we are. It might be easier for others to direct their path because they have been born with more resources, biological factors that make their journey easier, or maybe because they have merely lucked into certain circumstances. But ultimately, we do have a significant ability to control our outcomes. We have the ability not to answer, "Who Am I?" but to become who we want to be.

How can we be expected to reach the right answers if we are asking the wrong questions?

Who do I want to be? What are the qualities that make up my ideal self?

That is how the outsider gets off the side of the road and determines the new path. The only thing left is the courage to follow it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From the Outside: Introduction

Our planet brims with these creatures, the ones we call "homo sapiens," the ones we more commonly call "humans." A large percentage of the 6.94 billion are too starved, too oppressed, too destitute to ask the questions I'm about to ask, to contemplate the things I'm about to contemplate. It is a privilege of relative wealth and prosperity to ask these questions that I will ask.

Of the 6.94 billion, a little over 1 billion live in the developed world. Of these 1 billion, most are sheep. These are the ones too afraid, too tired, often too ignorant, to question. These are the ants marching along a path that has been cleared away for them. A path that leads to the proverbial slaughterhouse. And as the sheep sluggishly march toward their inevitable end, there are the few that have pulled over to the side of the path. We are all born on the path, but the question remains: who will get off the path? It is the outsider who will get off the path. It is the outsider who then decides whether to make a new path, to get back on the path, or to remain at the sidelines.

Before we begin to understand what makes one an outsider, we must have a clear and concise definition of the word. Words are slippery; a word may mean something different depending on your perspective and frames of reference.

The following Free Dictionary definition of "outsider" best fits my understanding of the word:

"One who is isolated or detached from the activities or concerns of his or her own community."

The outsider (again) has been removed (I.e. detached) from the community. The outsider is outside the path, not inside.

The outsider is defined, then, by what he/she isn't. But then the outsider must ask: "If I'm not them, who am I?"

And this is the question I have asked over and over again.

This is the question that plagues me as I sit on the side of the path.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Breaking Down What's Been Decided in Advance

There's the hero. There's the journey. That's the tale that little boys are told. One day, you can grow up to be a hero. You can have your own journey. You can own it. It will be yours.

It troubles me that little girls are mostly not exposed to heroic, female archetypes. And I am talking about heroism in a broad sense-- not movie clich├ęs or even old-time mythologies-- heroism in the sense of courage to take a path that is your own. I'm talking about the idea that you can make something of your life that means something to you. And it doesn't have to be what you're told you must do or should do. It doesn't have to be through traditional institutions that you make your meaning.

You don't have to trace along the dotted lines to form a picture.

There is possibility beyond what you might imagine-- beyond what society has imagined for you.

And that's the thing. Most peoples' possibilities--men's included--are severally limited by what society has imagined for them, in advance, before they even had a chance to question its validity. There's the default. But the default does not have to be accepted.

For women, not accepting the default--making your own journey--is scarcely depicted in any type of media. Quite obviously, the media has an enormous role in shaping reality. If you don't see it, will you believe it? You might. Or not.

As a little girl, I was not exposed to female characters on their own hero's journey. And for me, a real hero's journey is about having the courage to make your own meaning that surpasses all the bullshit society has thrown at you. Throw off your tired old baggage and set yourself free... As Joseph Campbell put it, ""I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive."

And women are scarcely told that they can find the experience of being alive. Instead they're told to sacrifice. To have quiet little voices and not to question. And this makes me incredibly sad.

But the problem lies in the direction of my thinking. It is outward when it should be inward.

"When we talk about settling the world's problems, we're barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It's a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives," said Joseph Campbell.

To reword Campbell, the world is an asshole.

But, it's not over for me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

bullshit pathetic elementary school sob story

This blog was never meant to be about "me." Yes, it was meant to give me an outlet for my thoughts about a variety of topics. In that sense, of course this blog is about "me." But, it was never supposed to be about "me" personally... it was supposed to be the musings--and mostly cynical thoughts-- of an outsider without an outlet.

Even as I write this, I second guess the validity of even venturing into this realm. For the very idea of writing anything personal is antithetical to my core persona. I have been shielded for a long time. I have been restrained-- I do not--and have not-- been eager to show anybody what goes on inside my (overly and needlessly self-aware) brain.

I have been carrying around a shield and a shitload of heavy armor. But I'm not a fucking warrior. Not even close. I have never gone into a proverbial battle, but have always sat on the side of the road, burdened with armor and hiding from imagined enemies. And that armor is heavy. It takes a lot of strength to carry it around. All that expended energy. All that WASTED energy. Used up for nothing. Defending the imagined threats invented by a little girl. A little girl with a two dimensional understanding-- she was hurt and she felt pain and she didn't want to feel pain anymore and she put on the heavy armor and she hid under that armor from anything that "might" cause her pain. She was a little girl... she didn't even have a fully developed brain. She could only understand it using a simple sentence:

People hurt you.

She was little girl.

She didn't get it.

And so she hid from people, almost everyone with few exceptions. She decided that all humanity was a potential threat to her delicate, infantile little bullshit ego. Like a cowardly little piece of shit. She wasn't running toward anything; she was hiding from everyone.

While her peers dreaded the thought of moving from their happy little homes, she fantasized about moving away from where she lived. But she was already hurt, and moving wouldn't have made a difference, but she was too half-brained (literally) to realize that. Yeah, I know, pretty pathetic, over-the-top, dumb bullshit here.

It didn't matter that she had loving parents. She only remembered the hurt. Because everything is amplified when you're a child. Well, not everything, mostly just the garbage that's thrown at you. The good stuff, you tend to forget because humans are pretty much assholes in that way.

But don't feel sorry for the little girl. Really. Don't. That's not reverse psychology. She's gotten enough pity.

But I am a woman. I get it. I am not a little girl. I have "gotten" it for a long time, but like the little girl, I have spent so much time hiding under heavy armor. I did nothing about it.

The time has come to do something about it.

It hurts to do something about it. It hurts to crawl out from under all that massive armor-- to stop hiding. And you know what the fucked up thing is? Even though that massive armor has served as shield in some ways....in most ways, it has been totally ineffective. You might feel numb under all that armor....but you will not be happy-- unless of course you're deluded which I have not been because I'm an overly self-aware little asshole.

And you close yourself off to so much goodness with your pathetic asshole complexes. And that's fucking stupid.

And I am so self-aware that I drive myself bat shit fucking crazy. When I was hurt, I turned inside myself. I had only my overly self-aware thoughts, my self-doubt, my animosity, my pride in my misanthropy, all playing on a constant loop. So, an intense self-awareness was born. I had only myself. I knew only myself. I was afraid to know anyone else because I was hurt once, and I wouldn't be hurt again. And of course, no one (with the exception of my spouse) would be allowed to know the real me.

And here are the thoughts of the little girl....

Her stupid little simperings...

She would not let them see her cry.

She would not let them see her weak.

But inside all that was left was a weak little girl hiding under some shitty armor.

A weak little girl afraid of her own pathetic little shadow.

A weak little girl afraid to reveal even the things she liked about herself.

A weak little girl who believed if she did, they'd cut her back down to size.

I hate to quote it but I have to. There's a U2 song with the lyric, Always pain before a child is born. That's how I feel at this moment. Except a child does not need to be "born." I need to be "born" and the only way I can free myself of the weak simperings of a child is to kill her off. The story is still being written, and her character's getting on my nerves.

So, that's it. That's my bullshit pathetic elementary school sob story. It was hard to even write this because I'm such a self-aware, freaked out little asshole, that letting anyone see the real me still terrifies the ever-living fuck out of me. Maybe someone will read this and relate. Maybe no one will. It doesn't matter.

Now we've come to it...

This is the scene where the little girl dies. It's not a sad scene. She's the whining, high-pitched child character that everyone secretly wants to see killed off.

Smush.

-posted by Astrid (Master of "Culture Rash")

Saturday, September 3, 2011

All the Difference (My Ode to Bryan & Colleen)

All the Difference (My Ode to Bryan & Colleen)

I heard them as I slept. They spoke in low voices but I could clearly hear. They spoke of their plans next. What they intended to do. It all sounded so normal... their grand plans. And I thought, "what is wrong with normal?" Everyone else does it....

They would eventually go back home. Familiarity is important to them. They would secure work that would end up as their careers, settle down, buy furniture, mow lawns, and eventually raise a family. But I thought to myself, "raise a family to what?" Where will you both take them? What will be their purpose? What is their cause besides the perpetuation you have begotten from your own parents?
And I thought of vanity. Hubris. The self satisfaction that goes with creating in one’s own image.

The difference between us is in the fucking. My fucking happens inside the head of the world. Their fucking takes place between thighs with cock and pussy in movement......But it is a short movement. It begets 9 months of growth before delivery. They will fawn. Attention will be heaped. Attention will die down. Life will go on. More furniture will be bought. Puzzles will be framed. Yearly vacations will come and go. Arguments will ensue. Boredom will settle in. Faith in family will keep them blinded. They will go on and on like they and theirs have always done. More fucking will occur, mostly from boredom and hubris. More images will be made. But It will not soften the blow. The whisper that life gives that they both refused to listen to will eat at him. He will sleep one day and wake up realizing that he once thought he heard something. He will not know if it was just in a dream. But it will bother him. It will fester while he drinks. When he sleeps. When he has those quiet moments of reflection we get in older age.

She will be impervious. She will repaint the walls for her difference. She will play with the children. She will be the oldest child among them.

His sore will grow. And his fear will grow with it. He will reason his children as his purpose: "You can’t understand unless you have a family". He gives it all up for them, yet gives them nothing. They will be as carbon copies of their parents. Except with differences in the details. Different house. Different paint on their walls. Different names for their children.

I will remember him as one who may have been willing at one time but whose fear held him in check. He may argue with me. But I know he is smart enough to know better.

Robert Frost wrote:
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

-L. Truman Daley-Douglas
Guest Contributor

Friday, September 2, 2011

Planning Your Escape... by L. Truman Daley-Douglas

Crispin Glover wrote this: "When you join in conversation with strangers, do you openly discuss any idea whatsoever without fear of conflict? Or do you restrain yourself from discussing certain things for fear of offending people and then becoming an outcast?"

How many times have we quelled what we think? Have we subverted our own thoughts? How is it that the stupidest among us have no fear in speaking while we bite our tongues? That they can proudly voice their opinions that mirror the status quo while we sit back and cringe? They face no outcast. They cement their stupidity and are rewarded for it. They are good citizens. They are the majority.

Throughout my life, I have been obsessed with the construct of slavery and freedom.

Slavery is defined as:
1. (Law) the state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune
2. the subjection of a person to another person, esp in being forced into work
3. the condition of being subject to some influence or habit
4. work done in harsh conditions for low pay

My definition of slavery is a bit different with elements of the above definition included though. To me, slavery is a mindset. An acceptance of the way things are. The inclusion of yourself into this acceptance. A castration, a defeat, a surrender.

Some people can rid themselves of certain social shackles like religion. They can see the folly and silliness of it just through rationality. Some people question further into the idea of what a family is supposed to be. They can question what society says a woman's role is supposed to be. They are able to loosen bonds that are unhealthy and not just submit to their parents due to some societal obligation. Some people are able to question the concept of marriage and what that is supposed to mean and entail. Some people even question what "age" means and stop "acting their age" for age's sake. All the "supposed to be this way" ideas, ideas about homosexuality, formal education, children, and a entire host of other social constructs can sometimes be retooled in people's minds with new constructs to replace these old "societal constructs". But not so much with the idea of slavery. On some level, it's because of the fact that people have to make money to survive. And a JOB, i.e. working for someone else, allowing yourself to be exploited by someone else for their unequitable greater gain, is ONE way to make money. After all, they came up with the business. You didn't, despite the fact that you now make their business successful and reap only pittances compared to them. You think to yourself, "Well, I am free. I can quit anytime." Of course, this rarely happens. People stick in these jobs they hate. They have to make money after all. They have to eat. I get that and do not hold anyone blame for this way of being. It's their thinking I don't get.

I hate slavery. I hate the mindset that slavery puts the best of us in. It's not the "job" itself that I hate. I know we need to make money to afford the comforts we want, to pay our bills, to take care of the family. It's the state these "jobs" put us in. The thinking it changes. Those who worked at Burger King while young saw it as "making money". There were no illusions. We weren't in our careers. We didn't care about benefits..it was short term, even if it seemed to last for years. It was a way to just make money. We didn't take it too seriously. We still had our dreams.

I saw college like that. It was just a short term thing even though it had lasted 9 years. I saw law school and getting my MBA the same way. It's just something I went through. I didn't take it too seriously. I knew my dreams were still waiting for me. I saved my seriousness for them. I'll enjoy their benefits. But something happens to most people I know. They got into a "job".

It had nothing to do with what they really wanted to do. It was a way to make money- at first.....But then they began to see it differently. It became more long term. They wanted the benefits and other things outside of just making money through it. You got a new car that you probably shouldn't have got. Things that you really didn't need. Well, I'm working after all you think. This is the way life goes, you think. The job sucks but everybody has to work. My bosses suck, but all bosses suck. The system is unfair but what can I do about it? So you participate in that unfair system. It pisses you off daily but you succumb to it. You dread the end of the weekend. You dread the shit you are forced to deal with every work day. All the same time, knowing you could do things better if you were the one in charge. But you accept, submit, belong. After all, you just aren't the "master type". You could never do what they do because you'd do things differently.

An accepted "job" slowly changes the way people think. It enslaves them. It is no longer "I have to make money"- it becomes "I have to have this job." It is a small distinction but the language behind it frames the reality of the situation. By seeing the situation as no longer doing work to "make money" and allowing the situation to become "having a job" and all that entails, they lose their freedom. It sets in that slave mindset. And that mindset traps them, allows them to become true slaves. It's no problem you think-everyone is like you, they have jobs too. They have to submit too. They have bills to pay too. It's okay. You can conform. You must conform. You have responsibilities. You can shelf your dreams. You must shelf your dreams. They did too. The ones who even had dreams, goals, and ambitions to begin with. And that makes it okay. The standard is lowered. After all, everyone "has" to have a job. Everyone else is a slave as well.

And there are benefits in slavery and the slave mindset. When Moses freed the slaves, only 1/3 left with him. It's easier to just accept things the way they are. To think you cannot be your own master. That requires a lot of confidence and intelligence to do after all. But damned, most of your bosses were idiots. Huh? We'll just ignore that, you think. They had rich daddys. Bigger penises. Some magical business person quality.

That always freaks me out. How much people of all ages are so alike. To think outside the box, you have to be outside that box. It's not enough to be in your office cubicle and hate being there. YOU ARE THERE. And that's okay...we all seem to get there somehow at some point. There is no shame in that. Society is powerful. Conformity and its expectations have a way of pulling us all in at some time. I was there too. But I got out. What are you going to about it? Are you going to sit there and plan on how you are going to use your employee benefits? Or will you be heroic and begin to think how you are going to get the fuck out of there and pursue your dreams? Because whatever you think while you are in that box, you are just wasting time.

If your thoughts are not directed towards your freedom and the dreams that can only come true through this freedom, that box becomes your prison. But even then, it's okay. Being in a prison has two options. You either accept your sentence or you start to plan your escape. Because otherwise, you will have a lifetime sentence there. I think for the most of us, fear is what holds us back. BUT more so it seems that laziness keeps us back. How many times has a good idea been forgotten because of this? How many days do we wait when we can act now? How much do we discredit ourselves when we know better, when we know we can do things better? How many times have we quelled what we think? Have we subverted our own thoughts? How is it that the stupidest among us have no fear in speaking while we bite our tongues?

SLAVERY pisses me off. It pisses me off when I see what should be a free man putting on slave shackles. It pisses me off to see slave collars in the forms of neck ties around their necks worn with pride. Slave watches that remind them of their bind to time and they don't even realize it. How many times do you look at your watch when you are at your job and wait for your freedom?

FREEDOM has to be earned. True freedom won't come by sitting in that cubicle box and waiting to the clocks strikes your "off hour". That's not freedom. To be free, you must first free your mind but then you have to do something else. YOU HAVE TO ACT on what you know, not think, to be right. It has to be your "right" and not theirs. How many of your thoughts are really theirs? William S. Burroughs said "Language is a virus." I think what he meant was how we communicate to ourselves spreads within ourselves. For most of us, it enslaves us, but for others, we can earn freedom through it. Change the narrative and act on it. Be free. Plan your escape. I promise you, it's better on the other side.

-L. Truman Daley-Douglas
Guest Contributor

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Road by L. Truman Daley-Douglas

A while back, I came up with an analogy about things. It's a construct or "framing", a way to think about people. I deemed it "The Road". Imagine life as a road we are all on. Most people are merely traveling the same road as everyone else. They don't really have a destination or even know where they are going but are just sort of moving along with the crowd. I know Richard Bach wrote something similar to this in one of his books ("One" or "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"?) A lot of people are like this. Forever following the crowd unaware of where they are going or even why they are following the road they're on. They are pissed at the road and don't understand it but mindlessly follow it. They can't see where they are going but think just the process of moving along will eventually get them somewhere. They think the direction that everyone is following, if nothing else, must be okay and must lead somewhere. Of course, they are wrong in this. Moving on a road that goes nowhere, that has no clear destination is just wasted energy. (Or rather energy someone else is using from them for their own purposes).


Others get off the road and stay on the side forever in some small town or big city or just stuck somewhere in their heads. Their journey has ended and they remain stagnate or, if reflective, or "smart", or calm enough, could grow in their stable fixed space but in some very different personal way. I have seen this in some people, but very few. A fictional character in this would be Larry Darrell from the "Razor's Edge" by W. Somerset Maugham.


Other people never even get on the road at all. A lot of the Midwestern people I got to know are like this. They are afraid to even leave their spot on the earth, both physically and mentally. They desire what they know and are pissed at any deviation. The road to them is horror and vice and evil. It is a scary place. Their roads, if they even have a road they do travel, go in small full circles and lead to the same places over and over again. They are safe and familiar. These people, to me, seem happier on some level in their chosen ignorance. But their growth is stunted or never occurring at all. They go back into their fixed ways and do what they do. They are moving in a different way than the mass who moves toward some unknown location, but still there is no other destination than what they already know. When I go back to places like Grand Forks, North Dakota, I see this. Everything in that place stays the same or if there are any changes at all, they are merely variations on the exact same things. Everything there is fixed. Not moving. Solid, stable, but never growing.


The other pattern in my analogy I have seen is those with a clear destination for their journey on the road. They know exactly where they want to go and move towards that goal. Their destination is fixed and the road is the way to get them there. Of these people, some will never make it towards their destination. Others will give up and end up on different paths altogether, with new destinations they dream up. Others will simply get off to the sidelines and go into one of the other road sets I mentioned before. Some will eventually make it to their destinations and once there, realize that there are other places to go too and will dream them up and start moving again. These "destination" people are the ones for me. They are on a quest. The mad ones that Jack Kerouac really spoke of in his opus "On the Road" (and not the hippies that the media wants us to think he was talking about).

Now, in my analogy of the road, there is also the "CAR". The car is the thing that enables one to get to a destination. For people going nowhere, their cars are fueled by some belief that the road must go somewhere or that the direction is at least correct since everyone else is on it. They keep just enough fuel in their cars to keep moving. They may break down or run out of gas, but they eventually get fixed or refueled and move along. In their minds, movement is key, even if they are traveling nowhere. The people who move in the circle roads that only lead to the same destinations on a tiny circular path don't really have to have much fuel or even need much fuel, since they are going in circle nowhere anyway. Moving isn't important to them. Their destination always leads them to the same places. It doesn't even matter if they move at all. Everything to them stays the same.


I have known a few people with a clear destination for their journey. Some of their destinations I have ridiculed as just dumb places to head towards. But I know, in fairness, at least they have THOUGHT about where they want to go and have a clear way to travel and aren't just following the masses. The thing about those with destinations, is that the cars they travel in sometimes cannot make their proposed journeys. And this is what makes some of these people retarded.

I grew up with my own father talking of building an empire, having castles, and building a family dynasty. And though he had a clear destination and somewhat of a path to get there, he never possessed a car or vehicle capable of reaching this place. He lacked any real education, any real credentials, the drive, and even common sense. What he did have was fuel and plenty of it. His fuel was his belief in where he wanted to go. That the destination was worth it. He always kept his eyes on this place. His heart and soul longed for it. And his fuel, though lowered at times, was always there. He tried all his life. But fuel, even an unlimited amount of it, in an inefficient vehicle, won't get you far. And if your car isn't in good shape to begin with, it won't take you anywhere because it will keep breaking down.

I have seen my father on this road towards his destination forever. He never gets off his road. He sees the destination and strives towards it. I can admire that. I can admire not getting off the road, staying the course, having the fuel in believing. But his problem was another as well. Many roads can lead to the same place. He didn't know enough roads to get to his destination. The more shortcuts we know, the more alternative routes available to us, the quicker and easier the way becomes-even if we had a shittier car or little fuel to begin with. I have seen and read about a lot of entrepreneurs who have achieved a lot with so little to go on because they knew a shortcut and even though they didn't have to have a great "car" or even a lot of fuel to begin with. A shortcut alone rarely works, but it can. But you still have to have a destination, a car, some fuel, and the ability to drive even the short distance. Everything factors in.

I remember as a teenager, my father pleading with my brother and myself to help him on his journey. To go with him to his better place. That his destination was worthy. That everyone else was going nowhere and that his destination was good for everyone in our family. And he was right. And yet he would break down constantly. He had the fuel, but his car sucked. He put Band-Aids on everything to get the car moving again, but the quick fixes never stuck. We'd move up a few miles and break down again and again. Always on the road, always with the fuel, but never with a decent vehicle to really get any closer. And never any shortcuts. Once things got moving again, he'd always break down. I gave up on him. On his car. But not his destination, only the road and car being used to get there.

I have seen through him, that belief and a destination is not enough. Having a destination, as important and as MONUMENTAL as this is, is not enough. Having belief to fuel things is also not enough. Your car must be able to make it. It must be capable. It must withstand breakdowns and if stalled, must be fixed correctly before moving on. Everything is needed to make the journey. A destination, plenty of fuel, and a decent vehicle to get there. A shitty little car will not be able to cross mountains if mountains are where you want to go.


You also have to be able to drive and know how to navigate the obstacles. You have to have the ability to take shortcuts and seek them out and be confident in alternate routes all the same. Embrace them. Be courageous. This all takes time, research, and patience.


I have seen people try to get to their destinations without enough fuel. They always fizzle out. They are constantly trying to refuel, even if they have a decent car to make the journey. I see them either on the road as stalled or pushed aside with hopes to continue onward.

I have seen people like my father with plenty of fuel but shitty cars. They always break down. They always needed repairs done before they can move on.


I have seen people with clear destinations but fixed on the same road to get there. Roads that should have been avoided for better routes or shortcuts, but through stubbornness or non-thinking, were never taken.


A lot of people have an obscure destination they want to go towards. Some 'hazy" idea of where they'd like to be and where they'd like to go. Everyone wants something. But most have no idea how to or will not make the complete efforts to achieve this thing. They don't want to pick a clear destination. Don't want to have to fuel and refuel. Don't want to get a decent vehicle. Don't even want to learn how to drive! They want to get to their vague destination via ROCKET SHIP, ala a winning lottery ticket. But this rarely happens and when it does, these people can't handle the place they got to once they got there. Because they lacked what they needed for the journey. It's like sending people to the moon without the correct gear. You read about them- these famous people who are depressed and die of drug overdoses because they can't handle it, and these "miserable lottery winners" who lose it all because they just didn't have the vehicle needed to match where they ended up. And it's a sad state.


Because a destination alone is not enough. Everything must be factored in for the journey. The car and the fuel. The ability to take shortcuts and different routes. And the ability and stamina and determination to drive all the way.


And I imagine myself, driving by all these people- who are broke down and stalled, sometimes off the road altogether. I'm in a decent car with plenty of fuel, knowing exactly where to go, knowing how to drive, and being able to steer safely pass the obstacles, willing to go through alternate routes-going so far as to even building my game plan to plan for and even achieve these possible alternate routes. And I imagine myself as helping those others, those on the "quest", to get on their way as well. That is where I am in my own head. Preparing for the next leg of the journey. Better car, plenty of fuel. Figuring out the best road to get us there.


-L. Truman Daley-Douglas
Guest Contributor

The Things We Create or don't.... by L. Truman Daley-Douglas

My mother was a prostitute in Hong Kong before I was born. I once asked her what she would have done different if she could change things. She told me that she would have sought to be a rich man's mistress instead of being a poor man's whore. This has always struck a nerve with me. It didn't occur to her to even think outside of her own constructs and tell me that she would go to school to be a doctor or lawyer or teacher, etc... Why not be fucking president?

The point of my post is that so many people are stuck in the constructs they create. Whether it be the stereotype of a drugged out stripper or a stereotype of a "family man". It doesn't have to be that way. People can change. People can think differently. People can be cliches of successful as much as they can be cliches of unsucessful people. The choice is always yours. But you must be willing to break through the roles you created for yourself and cease the limitations of your own constructs.

-L. Truman Daley-Douglas
Guest Contributor

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Air"

products promoting reduction
of your waistline
while at the same time
urging consumption
of a homestyle dish
just like mom used to make
so good it's sinful

smiles wide like a caricature, teeth so white they blind you
urging you to try it now-- while the offer lasts-- 1 day only-- limited time--
get them before they're gone-- you could be THAT GUY-- what are you waiting for?
you must, you must, you must, increase your bust-- didn't you hear me? YOU MUST

After you've eaten the world
consumed everyone
consumed everything
chewed up and spit out
every person and thing
on the entire planet,
as you stand in the world
alone in a ghost city
you realize you are

A
I

R

American Fantasy

In order to accomplish greatness, you must never work hard, but rather always work smart. Robert Heinlein's novel "Time Enough for Love" includes the following quote:

"Progress doesn't come from early risers- progress is made by lazy people looking for easier ways to do things."

This is so important. It is fundamental to greatness. The system wants you to believe that by "working hard", you can accomplish the American Dream. In reality, it is those who work "smart" and not "hard" that make their dreams come true. The system dangles the carrot of the American Dream in front of its citizens. However, the way in which to take a bite of the carrot is not to work as hard as you can to reach for that carrot but rather to find smart ways to get to the carrot and actually take a bite-- finding methods that do not result in as much wasted energy and in which, you actually do get to bite that carrot. Perhaps instead of straining your neck for the carrot, you find a pile of rocks to stand on and take a bite out of the carrot without any strain at all.

The system does not want people to know about working smart. If people put at the forefront of their goals the conservation of their own energy, they would not want to work 8 hours a day for mediocre pay. They would want to find ways to put out less energy and yet still get more energy than they had previously gotten at their jobs.

So, instead, the system tells people that "hard work is a virtue" and espouses the wonders of being one of those who works hard in life, calling them the "salt of the earth."

Because certainly if people learned to work smart, the hierarchical society that we live in would collapse on itself because it wouldn't have a foundation of hard working suckers to do all the "hard work" that keeps the house from falling over.

The Sex Industry

I have been called hypocritical for being a feminist who indulges in products of the "sex industry" (i.e. watching and purchasing adult films, collecting adult oriented books, and attending exotic dance clubs).

I want to clarify my position as a sex positive feminist. I would also like to remind people that within feminism, there is rampant disagreement regarding sex and the sex industry. Not all feminists are alike. Stereotypes run rampant in the media. Things like hating men and burning bras. The media enjoys painting a 2-dimensional picture of feminism-- a caricature if you will. It's easy to rule out the positions of a group when they are characterized in the form of a cartoon, something so lacking in complexity that of course we can discount it.

I believe that all capitalist institutions (i.e. businesses) exploit the people who work for them. Exploitation is defined as "use or utilization, esp. for profit." All businesses exploit workers, because they use or utilize them for profit. That is the sole purpose of a business- to make money- and its workers are employed only for that purpose. That is why you see businesses firing people the minute they feel the need to increase profits, make some gains for their stockholders. They do not hire workers because people need jobs. They hire workers because they need them as tools in their money making goals.

The argument that I most often am presented with in regards to the sex industry is that the women within it are being exploited. My answer to that is "Yes, they are but so is the ditch digger, so is the accountant crunching numbers for the big corporation, so is the record store employee clerking for a sole proprietorship."

Unless we remove ourselves from this capitalistic society or unless we find a way to control the means of production (i.e. owning our own businesses), we will be exploited by a business that wants to use us in the production of money for itself. And the thing is, employees are adults who are being exploited with their own consent. You can argue that the women in the sex industry don't have a lot of choice. It would be difficult for them to start their own businesses, because they are often already in lower positions, as a result of their status as women and due to the fact that many of them come from the lower classes. That is true. But, I repeat-- so is the ditch-digger, so is the janitor, so is the Wal-Mart clerk. Not to mention the idea that women from the sex industry being from a lower class is an over-broad generalization. And of course, not all people from the lower classes become sex industry workers. Myself, my father is a janitor and my mother a grocery store clerk and I ended up graduating from law school.

I also often hear the argument that the sex industry is different, because it is tied into our bodies. But so is ditch-digging, so is janitorial work, so are all jobs to the extent that our bodies physically have to be in a particular location at a particular time to do a particular task. And while we could argue that women in the sex industry have less power than women in other professions, I simply do not find that to be true in all cases. We can only look at the facts regarding how Wal-Mart, for example, treats its workers to know that isn't always true. In fact, while the sex industry may be a "low prestige" profession in this nation, it is most often not nearly as low pay as other low prestige occupations such as clerking.

I also hear the argument that the sex industry is degrading. Degrading is defined as "to lower to an inferior level; to lower in grade, rank or status." I can't find any difference between other low prestige occupations in this regard. Sure, the sex industry might cause a woman to be looked down upon as lower in grade, rank, or status. However, our society does not look at the worker at Wal-Mart or the garbage collector with much rank or status and again, those individuals are often paid much less than those in the sex industry. Our judgments are arbitrary and easy to make, especially when we're lucky enough to be ina higher prestige position.

I do have one major problem with the sex industry. At times, people who are patrons of the industry do not treat the women within the industry with much respect. I have heard stories of women being touched inappropriately and without their consent at exotic dance clubs. I have heard stories of women being photographed without their consent at exotic dance clubs. I have heard of women in adult films being called crude names or being otherwise disrespected. I do not feel that women in the sex industry, or in any industry for that matter, should be treated this way. However, I do not find that the problem is one with the sex industry itself but with our society. Our society is sick. Wal-Mart does not treat its workers with respect, nor do many other businesses. Employees are constantly being treated like cattle, disposable at the whim of their employers, with little thought given to the fact that they are living, breathing people with lives.

The way the women in the sex industry are sometimes treated is not a product of the sex industry itself but a product of a society with an unhealthy attitude towards sex and an unhealthy attitude towards women. It is a society that needs to change so that the sex industry, and all other industries for that matter, can become better places to work. If these industries treat their employees with respect, there will still be exploitation, because people with still be being utilized for profit. That is just a simple fact of capitalism. However, it is my hope that our society can improve its attitude towards all employees and at the very least, generally treat people with more respect so that they become better realized individuals. The same would go for patrons of any business- I can only hope that they can learn to respect others and to not treat women within the sex industry, or any industry, as cattle.

Sure, I suppose it could be argued that I should stop going to Wal-Mart if they treat their employees badly, and I suppose some people do. However, in the state of things as they are, with so little choices that extend outside of corporations that treat people poorly, I don't find that to be realistic, although it is certainly an idealistic action to take. Unless I would decide to be a "freegan" and live an anti-consumerist lifestyle in which I would dumpster dive for my meals, I don't feel I could ever be consistent in not patronizing establishments that are sometimes disrespectful. If I found out however, that a corporation or sex industry business was being particularly egregious towards its employees (i.e. violence, coercion, etc), I would stay away from that business. And for my own part, when I patronize any sex industry establishments, I am always respectful. I can only hope that others follow suit and that our society as a whole becomes more respectful.

I also hope that whatever choices women make, they make them of their own volition and that they are educated about the variety of choices they could make. Choice without education about the choices and possibilities is not choice at all- that seems more like going with the "default." I would hope that all people, women and men alike, would make choices regarding their professions with as much education as possible about their choices. It is possible that some women would be better off in an industry outside of the sex industry, because they excel in another area. And if they don't realize that potential, I would find that to be unfortunate. I would find it similarly unfortunate, however, if a ditch-digger excelled strongly in another area (i.e. was even better at something else than ditch-digging) and did not realize his/her potential in that area.