I learned an important lesson in specificity one day when speaking with a coworker.
“In highschool I was addicted to Coke. And after the headaches wore off and I could sleep regularly… I found coffee.”
“Oh wow, that’s so great. That must have been very hard for you. I mean… you don’t look like the type that… w-what I mean is that… I didn’t know they had similar effects. I mean… I guess now that I think about it…”
“Oh. Well… that’s not as impressive.”
Apparently the clearer my communication gets… the more underwhelming my addictions are.
Swirling the pale red liquid around the crystal globe, the air slowly filling with the violent pepper of cheap red wine. For some reason music and wine make me think of my family. Different songs, composers, bands, artists, etc. remind me of different members of my family. James Taylor reminds me of my Dad – upon whom I reflect often. Perhaps this is why therapists get paid so much.
On that side of my family historical pain is like leftovers, no matter how much we seem to plow through, there’s always a little bit left. We chew on it and smile, we laugh through the indigestion and small talk our way to the loo. We cannot seem to purge the demons that haunted the generation before us nor the demons that helped shape that generation’s issues. If the phrase “Original Sin” means anything, it means that we are predestined to wrestle with the issues our forefathers did. In my family we have been feeding off the same pain ridden left overs for three or four generations.
For some solace comes in therapy, others yoga, still others the not-so-simple act of organizing. We all seek control over the uncontrollable. The generation before me still seeks the acceptance of a man who passed away when I was sixteen, the man who taught me to play chess…
by winning… every time.
This is the family tradition. If everyone thinks that someone else is better than them… everyone loses. Everyone feels equally under-appreciated. This may make no sense to the reader (as much of this blog may not) but there is a ping-pong table that I swear to you… has been spoken of more times than the word “hug” has. Every generation has their mountain to scale, their cross to bear, their *enter in your metaphor for transcendent familial issues here*. Ours has been learning to love ourselves as we are. I pray this will not extend to my children… but I am all but positive that my Father has uttered those same words in his prayers.
today I saw one that said:
“Lord let me be the person my dog thinks I am.”
All I could think was… “Amen.”
It is my belief that everyone deeply wants to be known. We sometimes mask this or make ourselves into a great mystery but underneath it all is a want for someone to see what makes us tick. This is why therapy works so well… give a person an hour… charge them (or their dastardly insurance carrier) a hundred dollars an hour… and ask them a shit ton of questions and before you know it… they won’t shut up about themselves. Blogging obviously is my outlet for this type of “being known”, however there is a hitch.
I’ve noticed that our viewings chart only moves when we look at our own site. This is not a criticism of the blog… it’s quite genius really… and it’s not that everyone should read this blog… because it’s really quite crap and who has the time anyways… it’s that at some point I’ve become quite content with talking to myself online. I say “online” because it makes me less crazy than saying I like to talk to myself all the time… which I do.
It’s a stream of consciousness that I cannot turn off and I don’t think I would if I could. On the most boring day I still find entertainment by running commentary. Of course some days I catch myself doing this and saying things like, “You know Ben… you’re not particularly witty… or bright… however you do have an excellent sense of self-awareness.” on other days the conversation turns downright mean, “You suck at listening! Ok… you don’t actually suck Ben… you should just stop trying to analyze what’s being said to…” and at this point I usually realize that someone is looking at me and waiting for me to respond to a sentence that I clearly wasn’t listening to.
I will give you one example and then shut up. I’ve been thinking while writing these last few sentences, “Good god you write long sentences Ben… and furthermore you use reflexive nouns… or is it pronouns… JUST SHUT UP!” So I shall do just that.
It was just about 9:00pm as I pull into the abandoned parking lot. The sound of breaking glass nearby meant the shady characters nearby were exchanging used bottles for a few pennies. I turned the music in my car down just in time to feel my heart pound harder with excitement. It was the moment of truth.
I scan the vacant spaces for a particular type of seedy personage. The type that reply to other unknown seedy types online. The type that have debilitating, life altering addictions. While I am not one of these people, tonight I would be enabling one in a very big way.
I pop the trunk and step around the car. Suddenly I feel exposed, standing in a parking lot holding a red crate. Minutes pass and I start to wonder if I’ve made a wise decision. The breaking glass fills the air until another faint sound rises to meet it. It’s the sound of squealing metal on metal and I immediately recognize it as the sound of a rusty shopping cart on its last legs. The man pushing the cart has long curly hair that looks as if Howard Stern had styled it. With vacant eyes and a cart full of water bottles the figure speaks to me. “You the guy?” The question caught me slightly off guard due to the fact that I am the only one in the parking lot with a red crate. “Yeah,” I said awkwardly, “Do you have the cash?” “Lemme see ’em,” He states before adding, “please.”
I showed him the contents of the crate and he immediately went to his vehicle in order to make room in his trunk. He walked back to me and said, “Thank you, I’ll be lucky if I sleep tonight,” He quickly adds, “…it’s been a very long time since I last played Legend of Link.”
And just like that, I had successfully sold my first items from Craigslist.
As Mike brought up in his last post… we live in Portland. Portland is known for many things: beer, coffee, candle shops that evade logic by not going out of business and least importantly… hipsters. Now you probably know what hipsters are… if not… look here. Now you’ll notice this particular hipster is sporting a bicycle slung over his shoulder. This is what’s known as a “fixie” or fixed geared bicycle. This is going to be the main focus of today’s rant (if you’re already bored… feel free to stop reading and instead keep clicking on the hyperlink until you figure out why a grown man is wearing a cycling cap with a wool suit).
Fixies are bikes that cannot coast. You know how when you pedal a bike and then stop pedaling you can just glide along without pedaling? Fixies strip you of this ability… and they only have one gear. So you need to constantly pedal in order to not fall over. However, you can do “tricks” on a bike like this because every time you move your pedals up/down the bike moves forward or backwards. Yes… if you have skill with a fixie you CAN pedal backwards. See here to watch a dude pedal backwards… and the logical outcome of this type of riding “skill”. Also, if you force your feet from moving around you can “fixie skid” which looks like this… again demonstrating the pure utility of this bicycle based hockey stop.
As I mentioned before, hipsters and other “urban” types like these bikes. Now let me state this right up front… I built up a fixed geared bike once. And because of this personal experience with the “fixie” I can personally state the following issues with owning a fixed geared bike:
1. They are about as useful as a two-wheeled unicycle… fun to play with but not really a super efficient form of transportation.
2. They are not all that “cool”. When a typical person sees you they will immediately know two things about you: You love to make biking harder on yourself and, in a similar vein, you like to prove to them that you don’t need to coast or have gears or sit down while climbing or just generally enjoy biking… you need to prove that pain makes you a badass.
3. While it would seem terrible climbing up anything more than railroad grade steeps on a fixie… the real pain in the ass is going downhill on a fixie. There is a point (about six feet down the hill) at which your bike begins to pedal you. Remember… your feet go around in one revolution every time your rear wheel goes around in one revolution… there is no way around this. Hence, when your rear wheel starts spinning at 40 mph, your feet… must follow. Imagine for a second that you strap your feet to a stair master set to its highest speed… this is what “accelerating downhill” feels like on a fixie. Moreover, you stop downhill by attempting to pedal slower. Let’s go back to that stairmaster cranked to eleven… now that your feet are flailing out of control you need to wreck whatever’s left of your knees in order to fight back against the stairmaster in a blind attempt to slow the thing down… comfy.
So what do we have so far?
2. Painfully uncool.
3. Actually just painful when hills are involved.
At this juncture one has to be asking… why? Whether there is logic behind it or not… it’s a fad… it will fade… and eventually hipsters and their fix-ation will simply be remembered like this so that our grandchildren can mock them appropriately.
Proving that this blog is off to a rousing start, we are already talking in meta-language. Yes, that means that we are writing a blog about writing a blog. For about 99% of the blogosphere, this is inane and stupid. For the other 1%, this is trite and passé. It is a reflection back on the post-modern era which we are now post-.
To calm your nerves, this was not our intent. We are simply two righteous morons who happen to lead relatively boring lives. The inside joke of all this is that we are the only two reading the damn thing to begin with. The anxiety, however, is the sad fact that if somebody for some drunken reason decided to google one of our names, they would find this. In that sense, we promise to make it better.
…Which may end up being true one day. One day we promise to provide incisive and poignant criticism of American society. On that day, we will begin to generate insight so profound (thanks to the bounty that is pop-cultural references and brief forays into so-called ‘higher intellectualism’) that we will eventually revolutionize religion, business, and the foundations of education to the brave new world of tomorrow. Until then we will sit in Portland, with the rest of Portland, doing nothing, making no impact, and talking a lot of shit.
But when that day comes, you may just be inspired to read the archives of our blog (*ahem* “letters”) and you will come across this promise; just know, you have been warned.
The gauntlet has been laid.
And yes, I have been drinking!