The Man in the Striped Tanga (Part 1)

Introduction:
Some men were born to go the distance. Some were not.** This simple fact of volleying greatness is known by athletes, businessmen, and Chippendales worldwide. Some men can’t take the sheer effort of covering the last mile, even with the sea of a marathon washing over their shoulders. Some businessmen don’t have the moxy to invest in the siren’s song of a deal that would make them billionaires. Some Chippendales are stage frought. Most men, however, don’t align to anything Teddy Roosevelt may or may not have said (yet still appears in textbooks and motivational posters alike) and just kinda keep doing what they’ve been doing until fate thrusts itself on the aforementioned shoulders. Or up the nose.
**Most of the aforementioned “men” are not the white man that our 26th President projected as the only archetype that might have dreams, ambitions or a personal legend. In fact, more are women & men of color, but for cheesy historical quotes’ sake, and the chosen gender of this protagonist, we’ll let it ride.
Chapter 1:
We open on a man exercising in a gym, not too hard, but enough to work up a sweat. He wears a hoodie and track pants while everyone else in the onset of May heat is clad in shorts and muscle shirts.  This man is no fitness enthusiast, and though his beer gut is prominent, he’s also not trying to lose any weight. Should a few pounds drop, he wouldn’t be dismayed. It’s simply that fitness isn’t what he’s here for. What the bed-tanned babes and the hipster-haired Hanks can’t see in the sweating, furtive glare of this man, is actually what they fail to see through his track pants.
Every day, for the past three days, he’s comes to this gym, and every day – (per 72 hours), he wears a different pair of women’s underwear. Whatever the clients ask for – thongs, boyshorts, the occasional cotton-that-breathes whitey-tidys, but mostly cheeky’s (for some reason the man can’t fathom – possibly hell or god punishing him prematurely for being a no-good, dirty, rotten, panty-selling liar). Whatever the customer wants, essentially, they get from this man. They just don’t get it from the big chested Amazon with a fountain ponytail and glossed lips that refuse to stay sutured that they think they’re getting it from.
Marvin, this man under speculation, has spent a long time perfecting his formula. Three days prior to these three days of exercise, to be exact (just under a week is an eternity in the age of instant gratification). Certain flower petals actually produce the fetid smells of unwashed genitals, in order to attract specific bugs and grubs to them, to nuzzle themselves in the noxious fumes – and pollen – of these blossoms and transport their progeny to every ovulating orchid on the block. Marvin discovered this, himself, quite by accident a week ago, while exiting the 100-story high rise that he called a 9 to 5.
It was late April, early May – either way, it was Marvin’s first spring in this part of town – and as he pushed through the revolving glass door to freedom, he was smacked in the face with a thick, humid heat. A very wave of scent exuding from every blossoming Calery Pear descendent on the block, which had been piling blossom on white blossom all week. The buildup had finally reached it reproductive climax, and osomophes everywhere were vomitting copious amounts of molecules into the swarthy atmosphere and city heat. Marvin couldn’t tell if the scent was closer to semen or female genitals after releasing a long-held piss. He’d smelled plenty of both in his time, and weighed the differences on his stroll to the bus stop, unconsciously eyeing several members of both sexes all along the way; making them quite uncomfortable, really.
Marvin had read before about vending machines in Japan that conveyed women’s underwear to the random passer-by and had chuckled the only chortle his despondent psyche could conjure at in the apathetic depths of his soul sucking office cubicle, washing it down with a  last swig of black coffee before x-ing out of the informative youtube video and returning to his emails.
This instance had flashed before his eyes, the glint of a wild cat’s eyes in the dark, as he turned the corner and waited at the bus stop. Marvin bet that you could manufacture a woman’s scent pretty easily using the more pungent extracts of flowers. I mean that and a combination of crotch what was all these perverts really wanted, right? Something thrilling to stick your nose into, to get off. That’s what you did with a real, live female groin, and that’s what bees do with flowers all spring. There’s really nothing different about the two transactions, and the more he thought about it, nothing really strange about it considering the underground nature panty-sniffing had assumed in the last few decades. Marvin had never sniffed panties himself, of course, but had more than enjoyed the moist fold of skin down under from several past girlfriends.
Yes, all he’d have to do was experiment a bit with different flowers –  glancing around, he strolled casually to a nearby waste receptacle, plucking several blossoms from a low hanging tree, pocketing the treasure in his palm, as both pockets on his person were apparently superficially decorative. Marvin thought he’d walk home tonight. He held the whitish blossom under his nose, and almost immediately pulled it away. Registering the odor as very similar to body odor, but sweet – sharp in some ways, and yet so smooth, in the way it lurked up the nasal passages. He brought the little flower close to his nose again. This could work.
Chapter 2:
Marvin had taken chemistry throughout college, gaining a degree in biochemistry that he was only mildly irritated to find unmarketable. Then he had switched to a communications major and landed in the snug pleather desk chair his growing ass now inhabited. Mostly what he did now was network, and write business promotions. The same shit interns ten years his junior did. Every once in a while he’d get so bored, that he’d fly off the handle, promoting an event as though he and the readers were all coked up – “No ski trip is complete without the M5000 Rough’N’Ready Innertube! This holiday season, be sure you can fit this anaconda under the tree, or it’ll haunt you like your ex-Mother-In-Law…”. It didn’t go over well with the boss, and he quickly returned to drab blurbs accompanying company-approved, biracial stock photos.
Finally, he had the opportunity to put some of his training to work. Marvin had labored his entire weekend, collecting several random plastic bags full of the efflorescence, prepared to capture their unique scent for a special experiment, long-denied him by the capitalist regime he toiled his blood sweat and libido away for.
After the collected blooms had been snipped from their greens and stems, he piled them high on a single 13 by 9 inch pyrex pan, pressing petals into the hardened lard. It gave him a reason to hurry home, two days later. He poured himself a Tenessee Honey, and perched on the single stool accompanying his kitchen island, staring at the electrical tape-clad stack of glass pans with his precious, effleuraging flora, just removed from the tiny pantry in his studio apartment. Two hours to go before he could remove the tape and check on his carefully cultivated scent, and he sure wasn’t going to let impatience allow him to jump the gun on this one. Downing the whiskey – always sooner than he thinks – Marvin moved onto the six pack of Busch that he bought every other day from the same liquor store from the same Indian gentleman that after almost a year of habit, still seemed surprised when he re-upped on hard liquor, approximately twice a month – “You getting whiskey today?!” Handlebar grin over opaque, off-white teeth. Like a rabbit, he always thought to himself.
When  the clock flinched 10:59 into the new world of 11pm, Marvin jolted his dulled scissor blades through the tape, unleashing a plume of pussy muddled aroma into his tiny kitchen. After several days of the scent pervading both his thoughts, and refrigerator, where he stored the excess bouquets, Marvin was now accustomed to the raw smell of sex that was now enveloping him. The smell could be stronger. It was nothing that another two days of enfleurage wouldn’t take care of, but something about the process had also brought out the more floral side of it. No, it wasn’t that. There was just this flat quality to it. Lacking in some defining manner. Perhaps he was remembering incorrectly. Marvin paced quickly to his bedroom, opening the bedside table drawer and carefully removing the vacuum sealed (now broken, and preserved in a ziplock bag) package of women’s underwear; a red thong he’d ordered off reddit the day his masterplan was conceived. Removing the delicates from their plastic prison, he pressed the microfiber cloth to his snout once again, suctioning their peculiar scent once more into his olfactory. There was something saltier about it that his flowers failed to reproduce. It wasn’t as gently suggestive as the feminine essence that he’d experienced with past lovers, but again, not exactly sharp. He identified a note that dissolved – almost so immediately recognizable as to be taken for granted, skipped over so to speak, in pursuit of the goods. Sweat. Of course, it blended so well with the bloom of the labia, and would always be conjured when sex was on the menu. His enfleurage brought the raw goods, but lacked the human element of toil. Of getting down and dirty. Working up a sweat.
‘Well, I can sweat” he said aloud to the dark, empty bedroom.
Within an hour Marvin had a membership to the company gym, located in the basement of the high-rise, and could hardly wait to test out his theory. Resealing a fresh layer of blossoms – exhausting his supply, Marvin gulped the last backwash sip of beer, securing it in his gullet, and tucked into bed to feverishly map out his game plan. In two more days, the lard would certainly have the intensity he’d sought after. Tomorrow was Sunday, his day off, which he could spend working recon in the many parks of Manhattan. He reasoned he could collect a fair bushel of the stuff, inconspicuously, from several locations, and stock the blossoms in his fridge. It was relatively empty, save for beer and hot sauce and the occasional takeout container. This was more important anyhow. Starting Monday, when he returned to work, he’d hit the gym – sweat through a pair, then pair it with his pears. He chuckled, half asleep already.
A pair! Marvin snapped awake instantly. He’d forgotten the most important part of this devious plot: actually purchasing women’s underwear. Having ordered the red thong already, he assumed thongs would be the go-to of customers, but the idea of running, much less moving in a thong at the gym made him nauseous. He repositioned his balls unconsciously beneath the covers. Maybe he’d start out with the boy shorts. Work his way into thongs. Rome wasn’t built over night, and such. It was doable; he quickly factored in a trip to a department store for tomorrow. Nowhere fancy. He certainly wasn’t going to drop a small fortune on Victoria’s secret tier underpants if his business ploy turned out to be a bust. Just a few five packs of whatever women were covering their genitals with these days. Nothing special – a little lace, a bow at the front. Marvin’s intoxicated mind played with the idea of being a simple gal – oh no, he doesn’t wear that trampy stuff, no sir. His momma taught him right. How come every time he did an exaggerated woman’s voice in his head, it turned out as a southern belle? Was there some ulterior cause behind this decision. He’d never dated anyone from below the Mason Dixon…
On Marvin’s third day at the gym, he spots a woman that’s far hotter than the google images brunette he’d chosen as a profile picture. In fact, he recognizes her from the office and recollects that on some social networking account, they are in fact friends, or followers. Or whatever the fuck. He bookmarks it in his head to find whichever platform they’re connected on and borrow her selfies for a greater cause. Marvin’s awful habit: following a visual that spurs even more interesting thoughts that lock him in his mind, causing him to forget to divert his eyes from said visual, causes this woman – Caitlynn. With two n’s. – To recognize the guy from two cubicles over at work and mistakenly think that he is trying to figure out where he knows her from, while Marvin is cognitively volleying through an eternal rolodex of pictures he’s pretty sure he’s seen her post, distinguishing between the sexual allure of drunken christmas party poses and just before bed selfies. Suddenly, he becomes aware that the woman in question is approaching him. Has approached him. Is standing in front of his elliptical and mouthing “You’re Marvin, right?” He pops out an earbud.
“Caitlynn, hiiii…” They both laugh nervously as he attempts to calculate just how long he’s been staring at her, cursing his zoning out habit.
“I didn’t know you went here! How long have you been coming?”
“Oh, just joined the other day,” he couldn’t shake the feeling of Patrick Bateman from his voice, and nearly went to lean on the static clutch handles of the exercise machine, in an attempt to seem more casual, and less serial killer-y, which upon reflection, he realized he was closer to on the spectrum.
Seeing Marvin’s awkward stance on the elliptical, Caitlynn took her cue to leave, fixing her attention on the weights, even though cardio had been next on her list. She certainly didn’t want to feel this creep’s eyes on her throughout her run. It would totally destroy her focus. “Well! I’ll letcha get back to your workout, now! Have a great night,” she was waving, talking and walking away at once. Not a good sign socially, but at least he would feel less anxious digging through her Facebook pictures later tonight.
Chapter 3:
The two don’t talk for a month maybe, and with her face on Marvin’s product, sales have been better than ever. In fact – fuck sales – Marvin’s never been better. With the daily exercise, his beergut has vanished, his chin has emerged from a swollen tunnel of flesh, revealing what some might deem a chiseled jaw. Not all, but some. He has more energy – more pizazz for life! He whistles as he walks into work now. Nobody recognizes the Zappa licks he whistles, but it’s not for them. It’s for him, only him. He’s never done something this empowering in his life. He sometimes even wears lingerie to work, now, considering the erratic temperature of his office building always generates plenty of sweat to imprint upon his undershirt. He even kind of likes the lower cut, “barely there” brands that come right up to where his belt holds them in. By wearing one pair of panties to work, which collect his buttsweat throughout the now June workday, he can double his profit – switching into the second, more scandalous pair before sweating it out at the gym. He still hasn’t been able to manage the leg motion that running requires, especially not in the thongs he’s finally become accustomed to, but at $15 a pair? He can bust out almost $200 extra income per week – and the customers just love his product. He has profiles on all the hottest platforms, including reddit and craigslist. He can easily  boost his profit by customizing the product to the buyer as well. He’s sent out probably ten pairs with skid marks, per request, getting $20 per pair – each retaining the foundation of his original formula, of course: his hard earned gym/genital sweat & a small scraping of the Bradford pear-infused lard, combining expertly in the dampened delicates to appear as normal, female discharge. His regulars are never letdown when they wear out the last shipment, and presumptively, the products of their other suppliers. The important thing was, however, that they kept coming back to Marvin.
One never knows the scores of personality types, socioeconomic classes and prominent positions that one might find nestled in the ranks of the sexual deviants. Marvin was quite pleased, one July day, to discover that these prurient individuals included a one, Alan E. Banks, hiring agent for several high profile magazines and papers running throughout Manhattan. This man, lured in by the signature scent of Marvin’s business (he had begun pressing the newly sprung mimosa flowers with his preserved reserves of Bradford Pear, to generate a thrillingly delicious combo), had stayed more for the fascinating descriptions Marvin’s pantyexchange.com identity offered alongside the shrink-wrapped drawers.
“You’ve really got potential,” the man had commented in the online review you could submit after receiving the package of fragrant underpants, referring not only to Marvin’s supposedly fragrant pussy, but also to his cleverly worded blurbs. Thinking it motivated flattery, Marvin had deleted the message immediately from his inbox, but this man wouldn’t let up. He was desperate to gain longer samples of Marvin’s more secular work, insisting that he could hook Marvin up with a real, paying job, perhaps writing a column eventually. Marvin knew a sugar-daddy when he saw one, and this man was certainly out to exploit the pants off this poor, hard-working gal just trying to pay the bills with the cash-stash in her crotch. He’d politely declined the man’s advances, covering with some ruse about never extending his relationship with clients  past the mailbox – for security purposes, of course. Dramatic irony, itself, was turning over in the ancient graves of greek mythology. Alan Banks was frustrated by this blooming talent that was always just a few sentences’ fleeting from his grasp. This must be some fairytale, he thought to himself. A queer sort of Cinderella that leaves a raunchy Tanga cut behind on the ballroom floor. How could he have this protege’s underwear in his hand, yet be denied the spoken word. It was unheard of. Alan Banks decided, in the glare of his computer screen, that he would find this princess and enlist her as new blood in the industry – start her off in alternative advertising ploys, and slowly move her up to a weekly column, ahead of the stale interns that community college programs offered him. Alan Banks would have this fresh talent for himself, he decreed, as he lowered the royal blue knickers from his maw and grasped the ferocious erection in his numbed left hand.
Chapter 4:
One day at the gym, Marvin is exasperated with a muscle that he has pulled – trying to up his game by switching to the treadmill, yet still straining his legs so as not to t-bone his ballsack, he pulled a muscle in the process, but desperately needed to finish his workout, so he could fill the steady stream of orders he was getting. He goes to the stretching ball in the yoga nook of the facility. While attempting to touch his toes – who clearly wanted nothing to do with those panty-grubbing phalanges – Caitlynn enters behind him and catches a glimpse of the frilly pink whale tale her intruiging – and progressively handsomer, she must admit – colleague is sporting. Marvin sees  the familiar visage of an upside down barbie doll approaching him that he soon identifies as Caitlynn. She’s been eyeing him at the office lately, in that lingering manner that suggests attraction. Marvin decides that his side business can wait.
“Hey Caitlynn,” friendly confident wave. This interaction will not be anything like the last, Marvin stresses to himself.
“Hey” the y is elongated, so as to make it sound nurturing. Like an adult comforting a child. He attributes it to her strong feminine presence. “I just thought I should come over and warn you – Reid, you know Mr. crewcut ‘I was an ex marine’ —“
“I know the guy,” they shared a contemptuous scoff at their radical conservative superior.
“Well, I just wanted to warn you that he’s here, and uh. Well, I’ve always considered myself an ally to your cause, and I wouldn’t want you to get fired or something like that if he found out, cause you know what a dick that guy can be, and…”
“Ally? Wh-what are you talking about?” a befuddled laugh emerged from Marvin’s lips, as he unconsciously reached back to adjust his g-string.
“I don’t mean to sound like I was staring at you or anything, I just couldn’t help… Oh, this is silly. I walked in just now when you were stretching and I saw your underwear,” she whispered covertly.
“Oh jesus. It’s not what you thi – ally? No! I’m not” he sputtered for a moment as the serpentine deviser in his subconscious flipped the switch in his larynx from falsetto to chainsmoker “a crossdresser or anything, I’m just -“
“It’s okay, really! Honestly, I think it’s kinda sexy – being that fluid with your sexuality, and believe me I know what a pain it is to wear one of those on a run. I’ve gotten plenty of front wedgies in my day. I just wanted to make sure that your privacy was protected in front of less understanding people.” Her smile was so genuine. And she was touching his arm, he realized. Through the hoodie, he felt the warmth of her hand, and standing so close in their clandestine conversation, he could smell the sweeter qualities of her sweat. Oy vey! How her panties would rival his any day, he thought.
“Sorry, I guess I just got a bit embarrassed,” Marvin pushed his chestnut curls back in a way he thought women found attractive. “I’m not really ‘out’ to many people. ‘Many’ including just you and me, to be perfectly honest.” Keep it in the lower register, Marvin reminded himself, clinging desperately to both the clench he had on his thong & masculinity.
“Really? Oh my goodness, you can’t keep this to just yourself – it’s part of who you are and that’s something to be proud of!”
“I guess I just don’t have many friends that would understand..” Marvin didn’t have any friends, he thought to himself, but same difference.
“Well, I’d certainly love to talk to you about it – I majored in Gender at NYU, so I have a lot of experience with this type of thing.” She laughed. “IT is just how I’m paying for my masters certification. I’m definitely not going to be in this office building for the rest of my life”
“Maybe the next one over?” Marvin suggested. In Caitlynn’s laughter, he prophecized a ‘yes,’ should he ask her to dinner or to have a drink with him. The eye contact around the office had been suggestive, and Marvin was 8 for 11, as far as guessing correctly on these things.
“But really, I do appreciate you saying something to me…and I think I might actually be ready to talk about this…”
“Of course!” Well that was quick. Normally he had to skirt about the subject for days – have a few false starts, as the women never seemed too sure whether he was asking them out on a date or gathering information to one day murder them in their sleep, perhaps after making them watch him dismember a beloved house pet or coffee table. He’d gone on three dates in the past 5 years in which he was the only one who knew it was a date. “Do you maybe want to get a drink later tonight?”
Caitlynn had been waiting for him to ask for about two weeks now. Three weeks ago, she’d notice his appearance become more and more palatable. His whole demeanor had done a 180. And there was never any question that he was attracted to her, too – the man couldn’t stop staring at her to save his life. Every day. Over the top of the cubicle dividers. Like a recognized bandit – those two eyes and that caveman browline.
Ahh, new love: when what would otherwise be called borderline predatory  is redeemed as cute.
Chapter 5:
Well if things were looking up last week, this week is at least ten times better. Marvin has a girlfriend now. A hot, young, yoga instructor of a girlfriend. She hadn’t even waited five dates to have sex with him – two. And believe you me, he wasn’t expecting it. Caitlynn on the other hand had expected the customary unpreparedness on the male’s part, as women are usually the deciders of intimacy on a day to day basis.
“Uhh – let me just go in first and tidy up a bit,” but surely neither had expected he would be sweeping up putrid white blossoms, lard, paintbrushes, and an array of undergarments more diverse than even her’s. In his ten second cleanup, Marvin was able to look through the evolution of his side business, though only about a month in the making, it had progressed fairly quickly. The standard panty sniffing bunch had been just the tip of the ever erect iceberg. Apparently these perverts wanted more than just his discharge stained drawers. These creeps had wanted everything from cream pies to skid marks. The statistical representation of poopy panties was off the charts – Marvin always kept a thong and plastic baggy (the ziplock kind – double banded) on hand should he have to drop a load at the office. There were, of course, certain orders that he couldn’t fill. Orders he had no way of filling. Sure, he could open a vein and trickle it on the unmentionables, but Marvin was no sucker. He’d earned his redwings time and time again. He knew the difference between pussy blood and stoping a cut from bleeding with your bacteria infested tongue. And he was worried for his online reputation on the good chance that his customers knew the difference as well. There was something sweeter to period blood. More like berries, or strawberry yogurt perhaps. This was just another instance in which his new girlfriend would compliment his life.
Caitlynn believed, as Marvin had admitted to her in the bar on their first outing, that Marvin embraced a feminine sensuality that he’d noticed and chosen to foster in himself, assuring her the whole time that everything else about him was entirely masculine, punctuating this speech by adjusting his balls with a manly grunt over his vodka cranberry. “Two-spirit” Caitlyn had identified him as. “So you don’t explore this other self in any other ways? I mean, wearing panties is all fine – I certainly enjoy it – but isn’t it a bit uncomfortable when you’re working out?”
“You don’t even know the half of it” Marvin had muttered, perhaps too genuinely, quickly following up with “but I simply can’t keep away from it. Those cheeky panties really make my ass look great -“ and with those freshly honed glutes, you can be sure he wasn’t lying. “-and those silk and nylon numbers.” Look of exasperation. “You just feel naked underneath!” Marvin’s looser, more honest, intoxicated communication style revealed to him things he hadn’t yet revealed to himself. Perhaps he hadn’t been ready to admit to himself that some secret part of him truly enjoyed the lingerie he’d been snapping on every morning.
“Well, truth be told, I have some experience with that sort of thing myself,” Caitlynn looked down at her dry martini. Dryer than an under stimulated desert in prescription antiperspirant. Marvin smiled, cheeks pink from the shot of Bombay Sapphire they’d clinked five minutes earlier. She could have her deviant sexuality, he certainly wasn’t forfeiting his.
“I actually prefer to play the male in the bedroom,” the patter of schoolgirl laughter had softened the blow to Marvin’s psyche.
“How’s that?”
“Well, not every guy will let me do it, but the longest relationships I’ve had have always been with sexual submissives-” that wasn’t too bad, he thought “-that were okay with me strapping on” The second giggle was a less effective anesthetic. Marvin felt a clinch pucker against his g string.
“Now that’s an interesting prospect,” he began.
“It’s not that I don’t also like receiving, I just like being in the dominant position at all times. There’s nothing I can stand less than being underneath a man. It’s so boring and powerless. I want to feel the passion of sex overtake me and give it to my lover. I mess around now and again with bondage and dominatrixing, but usually I just need to be on top to get off. To tell the truth – most guys are so clueless about the female orgasm that it’s my only chance to get off.” The considerable amount of drinks made this only slightly easier to digest. Of course this smoking hot woman wasn’t going to ask him out without at least a few catches. Even if they were on his prostrate gland. Ass clinch. Mostly the thought and liquor combo just made him nauseous. She seemed much more equipped at holding this stuff down than he.
“Interesting..” he mused, visibly strained “I- I’ve never been penetrated myself.”
“And you know, that’s what I get from most guys – but really, you never know until you try it. About 90% of the men I’ve tried it on loved it after just the first time.”
“And the other 10%?”
“Shit the bed and couldn’t get over their egos”
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The Music Festival and the Human Organism

The performer at the front of the stage is an individual, and in his dance, you see his individuality. The specific man that I am referring to is wearing a shirt that only says ‘FUCK’.

“Is he telling us to fuck each other, or is it like.. ‘fuck!’?” the drunk festival goer in front of me wonders to his friend. I wonder too, and settle on the former. The way the artist dances, it’s hard to not want to fuck him. As the crowd goes wild, he basks in the lusty intentions of one hundred or more people that grasp up at his suggestive coils and cocky grin. He’s dancing his individual dance and we like it. Most of the Ithacans at the Trumansburg Grassroots festival have never heard, nor sought after music from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where this band reigns, yet we know we’re attracted to it. It’s strange and different and alluring – and confusing as all hell, as it seems to be a combination of bongos, alt rock and mouth percussion with what sounds like a horror movie-tier out of tune calliope, signaling that the ferris wheel is about to be overrun by bats and undead clowns.

At first, I was annoyed at the audience present for this show, as mostly drunken couples were blocking my way, and it seemed as though the only reason they were present for this band was to show off their couple-ness and festival wear, while pretending to like this unusual world music, so as to seem cultured. Then I realized this was probably just a projection of why I was present for the performance, and instructed my ego to cool it for a minute. Beneath the future shock and wow-factor, however, there is a true sexual energy and relationship that knits the artist to the audience. It’s a one on one relationship for the audience member, and a one on two hundred for the performer, arrousing memories of the deadmau5 visuals I’d seen at Firefly the previous year, where the electronic mouse begins to dance, and electrically transmits this dance, like a wave of Simon Says, through the crowd in front of him. What’s actually happening – being transmitted – is the love of art. The artist is loving their own music, and dancing to it. This enchants us, the audience, and we begin to love this music as well, through all it’s differences to our mainstream culture, so we begin to love their art in our own way, and respond with our own dancing and movement.

Really, the common theme is creation. Both artist and audience are smaller cellular networks in the greater body of the festival; and like cells in the human body, we are mobile. We are taking in food and beer and oxygen and a good deal of pot smoke, interacting with information centers throughout the Trumansburg Fair Grounds, depositing our waste and building up a collect vibe of happiness and love by boogying throughout.

Just as our bodily functions are largely communicated by electric impulses from the brain, and carried out by the working class of microorganisms that make us up, the festival is arranged by those that organize & administer it every year, and carried out by the individuals that tend it. Should the brain cease its functioning or a sudden plague upon our body’s biome occur, the individual we call ourselves would also die, or at least become seriously crippled in comparison to who we were. If the festival organizers decided that next year they would still hold the festival, but would not advertise it or interact with the local community in any way to assist carrying out the festival, perhaps a hundred or so locals would show up the third weekend in July. But which artists would show up? How about the food services and crafts people, trash collectors or waste control services? Reversely, what if the festival were in full swing but not a single ticket holder showed up? Is it still a festival? Can it be considered dead or crippled?

Collectively the festival goers, artists and administrators convene to create a distinct ‘Grassroots’ individuality that anyone who’s been will describe to you as “magical,” through glazed eyes and a trippy grin. The individual human also has a distinct personality, or duration that can be expressed in whichever adjectives those that spend a lot of time around you choose. Is it insane to recognize that what can be tranferred to what is greater than the solitary human, can also be transferred internally, to what is much smaller and abundant in the solitary human?

Festivals, city centers, states, countries, planets. We’re in all of these places, some by agreement, and some because we were born here. Is my liver the Bonaroo of my chest cavity’s North America and my body’s planet earth? We can certainly attract a crowd of probiotics to our liver by gulping down a Kombucha or some sauerkraut. So when I circle Donna the Buffalo on my festival schedule, perhaps I’m drawn by the electrical impulse my brain picks up from her control center. Attraction & Agreement.

Any space cadet will tell you how well festivals and tripping go together. It’s a fascinating way to analyze the human experience. Children are conceived at festivals – some humans are born and some encounter death. We get shitfaced & take shits. We eat, intoxicate, fuck, dance. The common theme through all of this is creation.

Dancing becomes all the more interesting in this context. In the mini festivals and city centers within us, microorganisms are boogyin’ and shakin’ all about, doing most of the same things – living. They’re taking in gases and liquids and solids, breaking them down, channeling them into energy or usable  materials. Some of this energy, they’re using to move and shake a replication of their own DNA into our bodies, to take over the family name when they finally bite the dust. The legacy of our cells becomes the aging we see in our faces. The global warming of our body’s demise. Cells die, People die, Worlds die. Festivals die too, and even celebrate birthdays. Grassroots turned 27 this year, because we all collectively gathered to create it. I turned 21 this year – not because a faction of microbiology gathered in my corpse to animate me, but because this is a metaphor. Please, people, follow the analogy. Okay?

What’s so interesting about our urges to dance and jump and expand and bump our bodies together in the presence of this strange music channels a deep tradition encoded into my DNA. My body is always moving, within the thin barrier of skin that separates myself from my not-self. The twist of my hips and springs in my calves that causes the boy two rows up to keep  glancing back at me are a tribute to the constant life-creation-death cycle that continues my own existence. Our collective movin & shakin continues the existence of this festival. As it becomes less kept with the times, and more esoterically held by those that have been going since birth, eventually Grassroots will wither and die.

The artist’s “FUCK” shirt now takes on a whole new meaning. Yes. We should fuck each other, so that new generations of those holding the grassroots tradition are born and this Greater Body can live on in our descendants. Is it a coincidence that the body rush of LSD almost always gives me a spontaneous orgasm? Now, I’m looking around at all of these healthy and unhealthy bodies, wondering which ones want to wriggle with me as badly as them. In fact, I’m starting to sort the more healthily evolved bodies from the not. The people dancing in ecstasy from the ones looking around with mild desperation, continually sipping their bevvy. I feel the aerosolized hair follicles of the woman in front of me. Each sequestered strand follows the same, long loop-de-loop that makes her hair curly. I want badly to reach out and grasp her hips and sway with the wild beauty of her. I feel my own strictly laced braids. They roughly scrape the tan that used to be sunburn on my shoulders. Little stubs. I want to be free and flowing like she is, but I recognize that I don’t want to undo my braids only because she has. I feel the real heat and life emanating from her, and I am ready to embrace it in myself.

With my hair down, I feel the heat at the back of my neck, feel myself begin to sweat, feel my limp white hair tangle in masses and overlap where it wasn’t supposed to. I dance. My body beckons all those healthy enough to rival me, ubiquitous with a dominant sexuality that my forsaken tripping partner could never conquer, and so had to leave. My shoulders roll and the hair falls over my face, many times. I could feel people watching me and checking me out. Though I enjoyed the feeling, and felt myself twinge internally, responding to their nonverbal interest, I was now committed to expressing my own individuality through the same dance that transmitted the artists individuality to all of us. Recognizing the scent of my own sweat, I feel the network of intel my body is constantly relaying to the other humans around me – the pheromones that my movement macerates, the flicks of eye contact when my toggling gaze cinches to something I like, the fertility in my hips. With my senses so heightened to greet the world with passion, I wonder if I can even catch hints of my cunt in the thick air. Or someone else’s.

Festivals like this walk a very thin line. Yes, it’s nice to get a bunch of like minded individuals and pack them into a concert yard where they can exchange sweat, saliva and scents, bumping their young, prime bodies against one another, perhaps with a love, perhaps finding a new love. However, pack too many humans too closely together and a great time becomes dangerous. Diseases spread in splaying saliva. Port-a-potties are crawling with the viruses and germs that also want to maintain their existence by wriggling through the flesh barrier of your spread legs. With too many people, some start to go unaccounted for – I flash back to the three woman rape parade that Zach, my abandoned trip partner, and I witnessed when the acid was almost an hour into frying our brains. Three women in multiple stages of undressed – one entirely naked – walk through the dance tent with a bewitching light that flashes, one holds a candle, one tells us that her body is not an invitation. The one without any clothes on at all. The woman leading the group I recognize from yesterday, as the woman that operates the Red tent Women’s shelter (for all self-identifying women) in the Healing Arts section of the festival. She repeats “Raise awareness about sexual assault – NO RAPING”.

I begin to remember why I walked away from Zach. All the conversations we’d had throughout this trip about how I’m not ready for a relationship, and not ready to have sex with him, and the way that he explained how he could help me heal – could make me comfortable through sexual encounters between us. How I’d betrayed my own boundaries in order to maintain the connection with him, and how fucked it was. How, this morning, we’d made an agreement that I absolutely did not want to be physically intimate with him, and that he would respect this in me. Then we’d given massages to each other’s weary bodies. Full body massages. How his hand had cupped my breast and I’d pushed him away, frustrated at not being understood. And when we started tripping, how I’d had to stop him from touching me intimately – only on the hand and back – and he’d responded “It’s who I am”.

Statistics from health class are scrounged up in the schema of my brain’s filing system:

Three out of four rapes are committed by somebody known to the victim.

1 in 5 women on college campuses experiencing sexual assault and rape.

I think about the “interesting” stories about other members of the animal kingdom that are rapists as well. The dolphins and chimps that kill porpoises or babies to force the female back into estrus. Perhaps rape occurs, on a subconscious level, when an organism desperately wants to pass on it’s genes – continue its life. The female duck’s main morphological evolution has occurred in its corkscrew genitalia; dead ends and false leads incorporated into its anatomy, to give them an extra advantage when it comes to choosing which genes it will pass on in its young. An edge of paranoia flickers in my thought process, as I begin to feel more and more violated by the persistence of men with sex, even when it’s been outrightly denied. I begin to see Zach as a set of damaged genetics, and the entity of Zach, a conveyer of said genes, attempting to pass them off, terrified at the possibility that his line may end one day.

The phrase “attacker” takes on a hilarious tone in this light. If 90% of rape cases know their ‘attacker’ beforehand, then the whole event really isn’t as sudden as the language makes it seem. Perhaps it’s little comments that could be taken as innuendo, or as harmless joking. Perhaps it’s suggestive touching or other things classified as sexual harassment.

Or perhaps it’s a relationship, where one body explicitly states their will against sex, and the other manipulates and prods and pushes as much as they can, until finally a breaking point is met, and a rape occurs. Perhaps the ‘attacker’ is even trusted preceding the attack. With Zach, I know I will never be raped or forced into sex, and yet I find my trust in him to make me just as vulnerable to betraying myself. His gentler prodding makes me feel as though my best interest is always in his mind. I see his sexual frustration as equally important to my own aversion, when I ought to be considering my own aversion as a testament by intuition. “Not gonna say yes when all I really mean is no. Not gonna say no unless you know I mean it.” And yet the boundary between yes and no has been so obscured throughout our trip. I’ve come to forget that I always have the right to say no, and that when that response is not respected, I have a right to be outraged.

Respect is abiding by what people tell you about themselves. I’ve learned to abide assholes by believing them when they tell me they re assholes. We like to think that human beings respect each others desire to not have sex, and yet statistics show just how often women’s will is not respected. Of course, a much smaller percent of these rapes will result in a pregnancy, and an even smaller amount of these pregnancies will be kept, but this doesn’t necessarily reflect on the hard wired ideology motivating the rape. Men feel rejection, yet continue to attempt initiating sex with us. It is disgusting and far from conducive to a healthy atmosphere. I flash back to a conversation with Matt, where he told me that women are tending to select, sexually, men that are less aggressive. We are choosing to pass on genes that will produce more feminine men, because they are less of a threat. This idea is only theoretical, and yet I believe it.

When knit together with the new paradigm, I begin to see my selections and sorting of the healthy organisms present from the unhealthy organisms present ,I see this selection process in myself. Zach’s pushiness and puberty-esque frustration appears as such a red flag to me, because it denotes properties of his genetics that no longer fit with the more harmonious consciousness. In this new law and ordering of the chaos, people respect the wishes of each other, because they know that an individual knows best for itself – not for separate individuals. We respect each other. Perhaps this is how paradigms come into existence. Survival of the fittest. I pay attention to my body and respect its needs. I give it healthy food, plenty of exercise and creative outlets and consciously work towards healing myself by listening to what I intuitively know I need. I am attracted to individuals that conduct themselves in the same way. Carnally speaking, I am also attracted to the opposite, if it’s got cute enough features. Yet in these cases, I meet a lot of resistance from the parts of my mind that know what is best for me. My intuitive self seeks out everything it needs and rejects what it doesn’t through subtle ~feelings~

This isn’t to say that the new paradigm is necessarily on a trajectory towards this healthier, more harmonious existence. It is simply following the trend of evolution. If sexiness is what we select for, chances are, the new paradigm  will be one of less conscious individuals. However, if we select for healthful traits – as Grassroots and I seem to be doing – via being in tune with our layers of consciousness, then we will most likely find humanity to be characterized by harmony. Which is why it’s so important to keep Grassroots healthy – why it’s so important that Grassroots is recognizing and combatting the presence of sexual assault. Someday, festivals will be creating their own version of young in the fourth dimension – which will bone chart cauterized by the relationship. The network and all that it can create through participation. I raise my Rolling Rock to my lips and watch a young couple grope and swing and dance together, and smile back into my dizzy turning.

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Filed under Adventures, observations, Thoughts, Trip Journaling

Hey Carrie-Ann

 

With a careen that no one was ready for – sparks flying, stars shooting, planets flinging out of orbit – I flicked the mascara applicator through my lashes, hitting my upper eyelid. Pulling away from the mirror, disoriented, I catalogued the damage caused by my spastic use of the mascara wand, meditating on James Dean. Maybe too hard. I eyed my weapon, You were supposed to be used for good.

I haven’t worn makeup since high school, especially not when the Ches Del is my destination, but I’m playing this barbie doll cashier in a little game of psychological competency. This blonde, petite type gal that shamelessly admitted to screwing 87 guys without batting a perfectly manicured lash (in front of her grandmother no less) is the type that incurs a childish glee from getting reactions out of people. One of those girls with mean blue eyes that you’d beg her to make you cry with. Of course, I want her to straddle me with a  machete between her orthodontic teeth, after freshly closing a sweaty shackle about the last of my carpals and tarsals, but I can never let her know how much I want her to suffocate me with her pussy. God, I hope she has a landing strip.

Anyhow, blondie paid me no mind our first night working together, while I prayed an atheist’s horny prayer to see her whip those black rimmed glasses from her apathetic visage, ponytail lashing & all. The second she caught onto my muff catching though, the spirit of friendliness suddenly inhabited her. Giving me little waves, with just the fingers wiggling, Audrey Hepburn style over a horsey grin; bumping those compact hips on me while we both saddled up to our fifth cup of coffee.

I knew exactly what she was up to, of course. And it was no surprise that her attempts at shaking me escalated by the week, in response to my sustained (painfully, painfully sustained) torpor towards each and every flick of that kitten’s tongue. I played it cooler than Jimmy Dean in the presence of a 35mm. But in the dead hours of hot august nights, known for skating by about as fast as a snail dragging an elephant by the tusks through a desert of sand, a war of the psyches was all we had for entertainment. By week three, the V-necks were so low cut, I could see the tiny blonde hairs, where every other woman’s cleavage would be, glinting under the fluorescents and evening sun. Knowing the gamble in exposing her less than ample bust, should I be a tits girl, she bustled up to me iPhone in hand, shoving her padded cups against my shoulder showing me a gif of a slim woman’s chest inflating into a rack that would put any oversexualized female Marvel superhero to shame – – the kind of dame you can buy from Russia via sketchy internet transaction through bitcoin. Following this presentation was a forced sigh, “See, I’m savin up fer one them boob jobs”; sputter of sorority girl laughter as she slumps her bare arm against mine. It’s not that huge of a letdown from the toddler tits it was replacing on my shoulder. Still. I enjoyed small tits just the same as meaty ones. It was the nipples that drove me crazy.

I liked ’em bristly as rose buds. None of this I revealed to her, of course. Tightening my grip on the iPhone, I muttered a distracted “hmm?”. The arrow hit its mark and she snatched the receptacle away from my snickering grin, sashaying out of the kitchen as best she could with a similarly threadbare ass. I imagined the tiny Mickey Mouse ears of that ass floating above my vision in the preferred doubled down, face-to-genitals coital embrace. Obviously she was as straight as Lou Reed before deviant sexuality became marketable, but again. What else were we going to fill a dead Thursday night with?

Carrie was clever enough to catch onto my dark sense of humor and wisely chose to drop the previous ‘look-how-cute-I-am’ gambit, donning a sarcastic attitude in its stead, rife with all the freakiest anecdotes from her childhood. We bonded on a few topics — enough for me to see that her wit stopped at manipulation tactics and hardly passed into the realm of existential dread that I was now learned in the act of floating upon.

The plus side to toying with a Ches Del woman that’s trying to wrap your zig-zagged form around her very vertical finger is that southern-type girlies, because of their backwoods socialization, escalate their flirtatious game up to the sexual level relatively quickly compared to the Sylvia Plath types I knew from school. So when her pride became wounded by my feigned fixation on the the Hooter’s poster girl, she amped up the arsenal, returning to the kitchen hastily to scoop at the soup de jour – a not-so distant cousin to gravy at good ole Ches Del – and casually mention she was an ass girl, anyways — “You know. If I was into that,” she smirked and bounced that booty back through the swinging doors.

Later on, when all the staff were soaking up the superior AC of the diner car, she opportunely maneuvered through, tapping everybody’s ass to prove her point. Carpet bombing the lot of us (saving me for last, of course) she returned to the feigned innocence in being ‘the cute one’ rather than defaulting on her reserves of maniacal nympho, accompanied by underdeveloped love-lumps.

“Wow! You have a soft butt,” she cupped my cushion and let it fall, the weight of the fleshy muscle encased in the hammock of my posterior. “Yeah,” I allowed the rusty door creak of apathy leech into my tone. She giggled,

“I like a soft butt” the heat of her palm hovered just inches from my dancer’s curves. I’d have you know that my ass is a lightly generous slope, but firm as hell when I’m in full-on prowl. The taut cheeks of a jungle cat, hardly moving as I traverse a mattress on all fours toward my mate. Her eyebrows raised, two barely perceptible paintbrushes across her aryan brow, scanning my face greedily for a reaction. A flinch of libido, a flutter of frenzy, a flush of rushing hemoglobin, a flippant, flipped switch signaling hormones to rush.

Cucumbers weren’t as cool as me. I dug my hand into the middle pocket of my apron. Visually suggestive as a gesture, until it emerged with my phone. The text was from my boss, but the schoolgirl smile I emitted caused domino after domino to crash in the associative imperatives of her mind, eliciting just the response I was looking for.

“Who you talkin’ to?” Keeping my eyes on the illuminated screen, I chuckled before shutting it off and meeting hers with an “Oh, nobody — excuse me, I gotta table to check on.” She rolled those pristine marbles in  her skull and huffed a sigh, sliding Hey Sailor red fingernails across the mauve linoleum countertop, back behind the register. I fully believed that with the right prodding, I could induce exasperation, thereby channeling our collective boredom into at least a sexually charged cigarette break. Manager Margret (Marge, Maggy, Mags, Magillicutty – anything but the name she liked to be called) insisted we take cigarette breaks one at a time, but just the thrill of breaking the rules could cement a chemical association in her brain of yours truly, and a comrade called Thrill. It took the right finesse to break a straight girl on a mission, and you couldn’t be too obvious or rush into the seduction. It required a stretched out period of torture (Phase I), constantly reading her signs to see if she’s still motivated, offering a little give when she retreats into forfeit, then meeting her renewed strength with a readied exodus of cold shoulder to any twitch of her silver skin. You can’t expose your agenda. Have to let her feel as though it’s a real triumph, finally cracking the chisel into your panties.

This week started Phase II of my covert seduction. Phase I, snubbing her relentlessly to throw her into a frenzy of frustration and confusion, fueled by self-doubt about just how sexy she actually was if she couldn’t get even an accelerated heart beat out of this lezbo, was already through — though would be revisited should I fuck up somewhere along the line. Shake up her nice hot bath with a burst of cold from the faucet. Now I had to move on to develop a subtly appealing aura around myself. Be her friend. Ask her advice. Put her in the position of authority that she’s so desperately teetering on, shakily convincing herself that she still holds it. Even doll up the sex appeal on my side — make her feel a rivalry that, upon sapphic success, gives her the status of having scored a hot girl as her first female fuck. That’s all a straight girl wants. What with the petty, aged women on staff, gossip is Grade A beef compared to reruns of Judge Judy and complaining about how the mashed potatoes have gone down hill. Carrie would like nothing more than to scrounge up a gem of drama for the old maids to  harp about loudly in front of the kitchen staff – and you just know how those dishwashers talk – making her the star of the diner. Not that I didn’t mind playing the supporting role, ahem, ahem.

Even more than status, I could see a desperation in her words as she clucked about her boyfriend of three years to Marge – her grandmother, our haggard manager – complaining that she hadn’t received a proposal yet. A much needed spark would have to be injected into that relationship that had undoubtedly hit the much-known standstill of a deficit in interesting things to talk about. I’ve personally never gone past 6 months before I could predict what my partner would say next or how they would respond to something I said. Save for the possibility that he was as dull as she, I guessed he was still in it for the pussy. Which Carrie was certainly aware of. All fuck and no substance makes Carrie a shit-out-of-luck spinster. At least when her looks fade. (I give her 2 babies before life delivers that lumpy, yet sagging parcel of a gift).

I approached the diner door through the smokers nook. The vintage winged sunglasses made everything colossally dark, so I made like I was feeling for the banister in order to lean against it whilst draining the last few puffs from my cigarette, but really, my vision was so dimmed by the ridiculous shades that I needed a reliable footing before I’d finally follow through on the plan: saunter up the steps like a movie star that got lost on the backroads and was just stopping in for directions. I reflected on how that would probably be more of horror story lead up, considering the rednecky chauvinists that bulls-eyed your nipples through the chunky vests we had to wear. Should probably play this more thriller/rom-com, unless I want to sink the vibe.

It was truly tough to look appealing, or even curvy in the Ches Del uniform, but I arched my back, tilting my sharp jawline towards the ceiling as I puckered around a perfect line of smoke. Well, it was probably a perfect line — the specs. I could feel her cruel glare piercing through the window opposite me, which I had posed in front of, anticipating her usual perch at the adjacent register. Always a stickler for details, I looked anywhere but the window, staring instead above the glasses at some looming cobwebs that almost threatened my height. Goddamn, this place is a dump.

If I caught her eye through the glass, the jig was up. She’d know this was all a performance for her sake, so I crushed the cherry into the heel of my nonslip kitchen shoe in blissful ignorance of even the possibility that someone might be observing my display. Of course, with the lenses – which may as well have been made of volcanic glass they were so black – its not like eye contact was even possible, much less seeing through glass with the early evening glare washing across it. Tail feathers neatly tucked, I catwalked through the doors, cooly swinging the shades from my face, imperceptibly checking that they hadn’t screwed up the mascara in the mirror paneled corner as I clocked in. After catching that my makeup was intact and lingering because, after all, I did look breathtaking, my eyes skipped to the register behind me. First, in passing, to be sure Carrie hadn’t scrutinized me checking myself out; though quickly darting back as they’d caught a withered old crone where a youthful playboy bunny should have been. I did a 180 and gaped for a moment at the lack of Carrie in the diner, before quickly converting my dumbfounded gawk into a staggered stroll to the coffee percolator.

An R10 rested next to Carrie’s name on the schedule. So I hadn’t blinked for the past 3 minutes for this gook making my lashes hit the plastic lenses, and it was all for nothing. That’s fine. At least the sexist geriatrics will be inclined to snag that extra fiver  when they go honey dipping for their Cialis at tip-time. Bright side to everything.

Two Tables. Three hours. I was skating through the so-called dinner rush with dimes clinking in my pockets & fifteen bucks to my name. You don’t have to be so passive-aggressive-like, Universe. Come out and tell me what I did wrong. Eyes going all out of focus, I let them dip into the ceiling fan that went round in the black scrying shine of my fourth coffee. My guts were garbage. Making the change clatter, my phone buzzed against my thigh. Closest thing to sex I’m gettin tonight.

I opened a text from unknown number. “Is this Katey lol” my heart jumped. I had given nobody else my phone number, save for Carrie.

Who are you to be asking questions, I thought as I typed out “Who wants to know” into the prehistoric brick of a cellular device. Two minutes scraped by before my eyes were greeted with her response. I didn’t read it right away, timing my response as to suggest that my heart wasn’t pumping adrenaline throughout my body. To ensure that I never seemed too excited to talk to a dalliance, I take their response time, double it and add half of the original value to the whole sum, before I even allow myself to read the text. “It’s Carrie. Got a question .” My excitement cashed its check.

“Mhmm” I typed frantically, as my mouth resounded the sentiment. I no longer minded how loud I was talking to the non-present person in the empty dining room. She texted back right away this time. “Uhm, mayb this a weird question . Do yu want to have a 3way with me n my boy ;)”

Though her response lacked the punctuation, that was certainly a question to make my night. Play it cool. Play it cool. James Dean. “Send pics and I’ll think about it”

Ch-ching.

 

 

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Filed under Short Story

Manhandled

I am so tired of little boys acting like they own me. Treating me like a child that couldn’t know any better. Zach warning me of hook up culture, because he doesn’t want “his girl” out galavanting with strange men. Strange men with bigger cocks and more in their seductive arsenal. Nick acting like a big baby when “his girl” is sexting with another man, or when “his girl” is giving strange men her number, or when “his girl” hooks up with a friend. I am nobody’s girl.

I bet he watched the whole video, of Mack cuming for me. Bet he read every text and allowed it to fill his anger like a sail. The gaul of him. Calling me his girlfriend to Thomas, painting me as some cheating hussy, when the truth of the matter is that he is a weak man. Just a weak little man that needs to own a woman to keep her. Can’t admit his loneliness, but also is never “quite jealous”. You’re full of shit. You’re a jealous, egotistical cunt that can’t see past anything that doesn’t fit into the picture frame of how you want other people to see you.

So, you bought the VCR that isn’t quite compatible with your system, but you’ll keep plugging and plugging away at it, trying to force it to work, but it never will. You can push into the USB outlet as much as you want, swap your input with your  output, flip a dial – flip every dial, but I will never be some object you can buy to adorn your identity.

I am woman. I have come to Earth to participate in life and love it. I have come to see all your faults as beautiful and complimentary details in a great portrait. But you’ll never let me view you holistically. You’re either God or Demon, and can’t fathom somebody seeing you as otherwise. Because you don’t have wise eyes like mine, you’ll only let me see you through the picture frame that you create for yourself. You’re filled with unspeakable pain when I won’t cramp myself to fit into it, but instead splay out into infinity on the ever forming canvas. My eyes are the palette that paint the world and your words are a blindfold. Keep them to yourself until you’re ready to look at everything contained within the word reality.

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Filed under observations, Thoughts

Spirituality as an Attitude: A Manifesto

We create our own reality.
Our life is a storybook in the first person that we’re constantly writing, with every action and every thought. Aristotle understands half of this in his well-known saying: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Correct, but he is only seeing half of the picture. What we repeatedly do is a condensed product of who we are moment to moment; what we do is motivated by our thoughts and emotional reactions, which are provoked by our experience of life. These internal parts of our identity are also not who we are, ultimately, because they are not the only things present in our minds. We have the Thinker that experiences emotion and produces thoughts – a running narrative on the state of things; and then the Awareness of that narrative, slightly behind it.The Thinker belongs intrinsically to this Awareness, and depending how often we separate from the world of thought, and invest our energy in awareness, the more able we are to influence the Thinker.

It is reductionistic to say that who we are is as simple as our actions. Actions only cement in place a history of who we were in that moment, without ever exposing the details of what caused that particular accident of an action. Which part of our collective identity – meaning the holistic interplay of all the various roles and archetypes we fulfill throughout our duration – causes individual actions/mindsets in each moment?  All of this is enclosed in our personal story. Who we are is nothing but the protagonist of that story. Reality is the gestalt of everyone’s stories going on at once – collectively intersecting and producing plot twists in the stories of others, yet who you are remains a moment-by-moment construction of who else’s story is influencing yours in that moment, and who you personally are preceeding each moment, always bleeding into the next, forever surging into itself. The momentary decisions we make create the next, into infinity; the Butterfly Effect in action.  I created this moment without knowing that this Manifesto would result from my creation, and that’s kind of what art is like. We continually create our reality, without being aware of the resulting future, by constantly interacting with the world and all the other worlds going on. We can influence these resulting realities through learning from past moments and using that knowledge for growth in present moments. Of course we never have control of the future, and adverse things that may intrude on our known routines, but we always have the power to interpret a moment how we wish, and this determines the way our story is written and the way it will be recorded in our history. Our interpretation depends on our attitude.

With a spiritual mindset, I can interpret, learn from, and make the most of my time spent depressed. It’s a lot like flying a kite, and using a strange gust of wind with which to propel your mindset. When I’m depressed, I do what I can with it. It’s like taking a burst of momentum & running with it. When I’m overtly depressed, I have good and bad days. If I take a good day and do what I can with it (things conducive to feeling better: self-care, cleaning, creation – should it come, observing beauty in art books or nature, seeking out loving connection or understanding in another), I find myself swept away with it. Like an exponential magnetism. It is the herd behavior inside myself – if one thought is doing it with complete conviction, and infects other thoughts similarly, the mirror neurons inside myself avalanche in the direction that has the strongest pull – whether positive or negative. It is thought polarization that maintains either a positive or negative attitude.

I’ve observed this in my own downward spirals – one day, I’m far too exhausted to get out of bed, so I go back to sleep. I wake up much later and am not able to accomplish the things I’d wanted to while I was sleeping in, that had meaning for me (volunteering, reading and article, researching, meeting with someone). I feel badly about myself because of this, reasoning that I should have fought my exhaustion and forced myself through it because at least then I wouldn’t feel like a failure. Not wanting to feel like a failure, I invest my waning energy in escape, because comfort is the only energy expenses I can manage, besides continuing to lay in bed and stare at the wall.  Perhaps I scrap the entire day in light of these feelings – I spend it doing NOTHING conducive to feeling good (despite what I may or may not have salvaged), maybe I eat junk food, smoke weed and watch a lot of tv. All of these feel good in the moment and distract me from who I am because of the pleasure derived from them. {However, through observation, I know that eating junk food makes my body feel poorly which affects my self-love and overall mood. Weed does the same by causing my thoughts to be foggy and dulls my experience of life which is constantly altering, so I’m more likely to miss an opportunity for love or connection or experiencing beauty. TV is a huge waste of time that can be addictive}. Maybe because I indulged the day before, the next day, my desire for that pleasure again is aroused, and I think to myself “well, what’s the harm in just one more day – one more indulgence”.

This type of attitude is conducive to habit-forming, which is helpful if the habit is good, but only destructive if it is bad. So maybe I smoke, over time with frequency and my thoughts become increasingly duller and I am unable to create or communicate or even be self-aware, because I am off in the ether, feeling good. Maybe I eat a lot of junk food and cause my stomach to feel nauseated for the rest of the day, and feel fatigued and bloated. Maybe I waste hours watching TV, and don’t read something I told myself I would or don’t create anything again. Eventually, I stagnate and feel poorly about myself for not having accomplished anything, for having no novel thoughts or perceptions on the world with which to record and for pain/discomfort in and with my own body. These swell together in my depression and evoke low self-esteem, fatigue, misconceptions about myself, isolation from others, a dulled ability to do things that I love (writing, singing, playing, socializing). Seeing this transformation in myself causes me to feel cynical about my own abilities and potential, because my thoughts are constantly overrun with the negative, so I say, “oh well, I guess this is just who I am at heart, and its way too difficult to get back to who I was, because I’ve spent so much time being this fat, lazy, dumb slob with no convictions and no ambition. I’m wasting my life and wasting space on this planet”.

And yet — I’ve made the long, difficult journey back there before (to a person with talent, health, clarity of thought and creation). It – again – starts with one, two, three grains of TRY, then ten grains of good habit, and then the whole damn avalanche comes racing down and all of a sudden… I’m happy?    I’m happy. I made that journey back this past year, after a strong bout of depression that started with a relationship going south, a realization that I was no longer important to the one person that was important in my life, and then half a year of rebound. It started with making new friends who stimulated my life and thoughts (watching other people become important in my life), starting to run again (building my health, quality of life and self-esteem), eventually pursuing a new love interest (having the spiritual experience of being in love), writing poems when they came, enjoying life (the outdoors, the nights, the love), going out on limbs and taking the opportunities that were handed to me, putting myself out on limbs by sticking my neck  out – and continuing to, allowing others to fuel my wonder with the world and motivate myself to study and learn. While these were landmarks on my journey back from depression, none of them (even all together) were enough to fully bring me back. It was the attitude that I developed that allowed me to believe in myself and allowed me to follow this path back to happiness. I would not have believed myself or trusted myself enough to put myself out on the limbs that lifted me highest.

I continue these attitude-based habits in my daily maintenance. I still experience bouts of depression that intrude on me with fatigue, irritation, anger, depersonalization and a strong urge to cry –  sometimes provoked by illness and sometimes provoked by a lack of spirit. Getting sick knocks me completely off my feet and forces me to be bed-bound for days, which makes me extremely vulnerable to being overtaken by my depression. However, by maintaining my spiritual attitude, it is easy to take advantage of things the moment I get a burst of energy – a gust of wind. The moment I’m feeling better after being sick, I clean up and change my sheets, air the stale air from my bedroom — get out of bed, cook myself healthy soup and tea, straighten up my room, because I know it boosts my vibes to have a tidy environment, spend my day quietly watching movies I’ve been meaning to see, etc. These are the actions that separate me from my depressed self. But these actions do not define me for en eternity – only in that moment. They don’t make up for past actions and they don’t assure that I will remain this way forever. Additionally this only exists in the world where every day is basically similar; if a wrench were thrown into the monotony of our “average guy” story, who we’ve practiced being will determine how we handle catastrophe.

Perhaps another’s story will horribly intervene with yours – you may meet the end of your story one day by being squashed by a random meteor. Perhaps you will be taken out of your story and thrown into a nightmare of history by a sudden war, fatality or persecution. Each moment will still be what you make of it. Are you the type to attempt escape at the cost of your life? The type to derive meaning from it, while passively accepting the reality of it? Are you the type to be broken and victimized by it? Possibly, you are a combination of all three and many others, fluctuating throughout the time of your life spent inside of this tragedy. Being yourself, with your own duration, encountering others with their unique durations within this tragedy epoch of your story contributes to the constant creation of your own reality that you are always doing. This is very much an echo of the Serenity Prayer.

We all start our stories in a set of  unalterable factors (generally: our race, sexual orientation, home culture, etc.) alongside circumstances or factors that are more alterable, though often through much opposition and struggle – which act as LEARNING opportunities for us (ex’s: gender/sex, religion, behaviors and habits). Generally, we cannot change our roots, but we CAN grow in whatever way we please to, shooting out to whatever direction we  want. A tree may be pruned constantly to fit within a pleasing shape to whomever holds the clippers, but the tree has the resilience and hope to continue bursting through these societally pleasing boxes to fulfill its own destiny and to reach for the sun in its own way. We can change to be whoever we wish to be, because the world truly is what we make it, within the confines of what restricts us naturally. In rarer anecdotes, certain individuals have made triumphs through supposed “unalterable factors” via  pure will and refusal to lose hope. Wilma Rudolph was told after her polio-inflicted paralysis that she would never walk again, and became the fastest woman in the world (circa 1960’s), Anaïs Nin slaved over her novels – producing them herself – for a society that did not value her perspective, until she finally became recognized (in the modern age), the resilience of those that survived the holocaust (Victor Frankl, in particular), plus EVERY success story you’ve ever heard. The hope of individuals who refuse to accept defeat have been proven more often than we know, even if just in the anecdotes of your friends on Facebook.

This is why it is so important to use and understand life as a learning opportunity. We must live life with an open mind, because we live in a world of uncertainty. Science tends to have an ego attached, and tends toward the idea that all things can be known NOW. But there will always be questions. There was a time when people knew beyond a doubt that the world is flat, and we’re no different today – there is so much science still doesn’t know.

To assume that I know everything now and that this is how it will be always is a mistake. I am excited beyond reason for every love, every instance of suffering and every experience that I will have, because I know that I will continue to find truth in the world and continue to get better at living wisely and will be able to contribute so many more truths to my own art and creation! I will be able to do something better next time (whether it be the beauty of a relationship, or something as simple as baking a cake). By experimenting, and then doing, and then doing over and over again as a habit, we learn! We get better, we become experts! We integrate it into our flow, and into our life-long dance!

If I can learn to keep my head in a crisis, I will be that much better at dealing with crisis. If I can learn how to detect my depression when it surges up again, I can combat this by knowing what triggers me – it’s all body chemistry & psychology. If I can learn my deepest fears and grievances – If I can know which previous parts of “my story” are damaging me still now and making a victim of me, I can detach my ego from those things and tell them that they will no longer have control over who I am. I am, ultimately, not my thoughts and feelings, but the awareness behind them. If I choose to give my energy to the parts of my life that defeat me, I will spend most of my time feeling defeated. If I can learn what things widen the gap between me and my depression, I can do those things constantly to maintain my balance. If I can learn to harness my awareness and use it to be present in my body and anchored in sanity, then I can better treat myself and maintain my health.

By learning and observing, I gain wisdom about how I live my life, and subsequently, I love it with those truths alive and active, making my life into something beautiful and wonderful. When I have a new experience, (ex. Going past 6 months in a relationship with somebody) I learn more about what it means to love them, I learn how to compromise, I gain the wisdom that you can disagree and fight and still love more strongly than ever. I learn what/how much tension I will take to continue a particular experience. I’ve learned my boundaries – I learn about myself. I learn how to draw the line, and I continue this particular exercise knowing that at some point it will end. At some point we will break up, there will be some endstop when the relationship becomes too damaging to us to continue it, too unhealthy, as a bad habit, to be enjoyable any more, infecting other aspects of our lives. And at this point, we will separate, but I will certainly love again after this, because love is a dazzling experience that can change the entire nature of existence – a particle (with considerable weight) in the ether that can influence and infect all the other particles as to entirely sweeten this time we spend on earth. When I do start a new relationship, I will have the knowledge of this past love to do it better next time, and be a better lover, be a wiser lover, to continue to grow. I have valued growth  so strongly throughout my life, and growth is a product of learning.

Having an open mind is oh-so important for this reason. I agree with the teachings of Alice in Wonderland, here – I indulge as many as twelve impossible thoughts before breakfast, because I never would have made it to this happiness – this life! – if I hadn’t been open to the possibility. I believe in the impossibility that this life is a great cosmic joke. I believe these impossible things, because the world itself is impossible! If one million factors hadn’t all aligned to produce this world, I wouldn’t be here, and yet I am. This existence is highly improbable. This existence IS a Boltzmann brain emerging from the ether, and I plan to construct it exactly how I choose. There are *impossible* thoughts in existence that the mere collective presence of many people’s interpretation of a thing is what defines it in reality. This is of course subject to change through changing social attitude over time (ex. Anaïs Nin going from nothing to famous to defamed). The power of thought.

It’s easy to see yourself as one way, and one way only; To look at yourself as no good and without hope to change, while your mind is in hell. And yet, because you are on a continuum, *who you are* is a vast amalgam of all the people you’ve ever been. I can produce the same action while depressed as when I’m happy (Ex, complimenting somebody) and it will likewise be motivated by two vastly different attitudes, therefore having two completely different meanings in the context of the whole. When depressed, I may compliment someone because I think somebody I want to impress will overhear and think better of me, here it is motivated by ego and it is not good; Perhaps I do it because I feel so poorly about myself, that it is a type of jab at myself, because secretly I crave to be as good as them, or to be like them, making it motivated by low self-esteem and self-deprecation which is not good; or maybe, I say it because I love them and it cheers me to see them so empowered, in which case it is motivated by good energy and love and a will to build someone up.

This gets dangerously close to the Love/Fear approximation from “Donnie Darko,” which is not quite correct either, because it supports over generalization and a resistance to the complexities that are a reality in everyday life. Something motivated by love can still be horrific and grotesque – we’ve waged wars through a destructive love of one deity & way of life over another. Every action is quite subjective and complex because it is enacted in a specific context and BY a particular individual with the ever reaching bias of their previous experiences. The same action can have a world of different meanings or interpretations (which is why we must keep an open mind when judging others & why we must leave room for their different ideas/opinions and their subjective story). The antagonist from one story is the hero of another – “The Wizard of Oz” vs “Wicked”.

This is why I keep an open mind, because I know the reality of things is often a product of perspective, and often potentially so many things at once. This is why I strive for a positive mindset, because not only does it feel good and is conducive to a happier existence, it can signal and affect another’s existence. It is the path I take while creating my own reality, so that I might make the best of my own reality.

We must go into life with a positive attitude – the spiritual mindset.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Dialectic, Inspiration, observations, Philosophy, Thoughts

Dear Nick,

I’m a bit pissed. For somebody that’s so smart and always asking why, the fact that “I’ve just always been this way” is a good enough answer for you to settle for is so telling to how sublimated your ego’s power over you has become. You are its slave. I saw this the first fucking time we hooked up. You have unbelievably low self esteem and compensate for it by playing the part of the all-knowing. You shove all your insecurities into this overblown cerebral narcissism. When you couldn’t stay hard our first time having sex – even though I was sucking away like a fiend – you laughed at yourself, wanting to humiliate yourself and deprecate while I was loving you, and this is the narrative that has continued to play out over the course of our relationship. Your ego can’t handle anything that makes you look bad or insufficient – so you take whatever opportunity you can to be on the winning team again. I’ve seen you lose before, as well and try to regain yourself, and they were probably the saddest states I’ve ever witnessed you in. When your dad came over after I told your mom that you’d planned to kill yourself. I think you felt small and hopeless – powerless over your dad and unbelievably ashamed. The second time was when we went to Vaunca’s and you sliced your forehead open, from being ossified and not letting anyone help you stand. The oblivious look on your face makes me doubt you could feel the deep cut on your temple, but the tears you kept pushing away were a child’s. A kid that’s been pushed around in the school yard and laughed at and pointed at. 

Ugh, Nick! Grow the fuck up! Nobody is perfect, we all have flaws and shortcomings. To allow our structural ego mechanisms to constantly compensate for those shortcomings is going to inevitably be harmful to anyone near by. You’re constantly finding things wrong in the outside world and being critical to make yourself feel more right. Aligning only with the superior and making sure everyone knows WHY it’s so superior. Constantly separating yourself from others to appear above them. But soon you’re going to separate yourself so much that you’ll have nobody else to appear superior to around you. Your ego will tell you that’s fine and you like it that way, but your heart will ache now and again for the company that you were so intent on being above. Your loneliness will take its toll and there’s nothing I can do to change that. You hold the keys, I’ve given you the lock, now you need to find it and look in on all the self hatred putrefying in your psyche. You’re very smart. You place decoy self hatred out for everyone to see and it’s quite convincing at first, but I know a deeper room exists. I know you cram everything that you don’t talk about in there, and let it fester into a putrid fuel for your ego to chug away on. You need to take a good, hard look at that and see how it makes you alienate the people who are closest to you. See how it makes an ego of higher value to you than love. When I say “you’re hurting me” and your ultimate answer is “that’s not going to change,” it means that to stay with you would be masochism. I love myself, shortcomings and all and strive to accept myself as I am. Masochism isn’t my thing anymore. 

Sincerely,

Another Ex

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Brothers

Jon and Zach have the same teeth and smile-cracked eyes

Zachary and Nick have the same neck and smile,

eyes always glint the same across families

if we’re attracted to anything in a mate, it’s the eyes

that first hatched into our view,

a spaceship pervading the strung mobile, spinning spinning

then novelty – tufts – foreheads — Faces!

the new spectacle tucked side by side

by flesh, enclosed in people, the eyes were the real entities, never

“daddy” or “mama!”

parents think themselves mighty proud for their visage to produce a label,

for this so-called understanding to emerge in their smart, smart babies.

But for the baby, it was only ever the eyes they spoke to.

when I’m despondent and depressed, I will not look into eyes,

when I’m confident and self assured, I speak only to eyes

when I tell you that I love you, I tell your eyes, because they are the ones that see me

I may find a blind lover, that they might love my voice, and my touch

but nary a love is started outside of the eyes.

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Filed under Inspiration, observations, Poetry, Thoughts