Pass Me By, 2017

New year. Here again. The late December cold surges once more through the neighborhoods. Jack Frost assaults people at bus stops in Midwestern cities on cruel weekend schedules. The neglected Christmas tree and ice skating rink downtown stand below the overcast and gentle descent of flurries. Corner liquor stores are cleared of champagne. Dirty white tents selling fireworks set up in empty parking lots. Sticker-covered trash cans and thirty-five year-old concrete walls sit where they were yesterday and the day before. Ambulance sirens.

More importantly, it seems, people find things to write about on this occasion; at this uncertain turning point.

Five alarms on my phone wake me up. One after the other, an intemperate decision made four hours and sixteen minutes before crashing. I knew that one simply wouldn’t do it if I was serious about being up. This is perfectly normal.

11:45 am. 11:50 am. 12:05 pm. 12:10 pm. The same android alarm I changed to when I moved into the apartment. I find my way out of bed. To the bathroom, then the kitchen for coffee. My clothes are laid out on the couch next to my backpack, bus fair and wad of bills.

A few essentials are packed for the first trek out in my city after returning from visiting family. When living off two-hundred dollars or less a week, Christmas gifts become apparent as genuine tools for life being a little more bearable.

A pear beckons me from the produce drawer of the fridge. Part of a fancy snack box of fruit, mixed nuts, cheese and summer sausage, a gift from my partner’s dad. I add one to the backpack along with coffee from the french press in a new black thermos, both gifts from a week ago. It feels like trying on new colors for everyday routines.

My familiar Dr. Martens, the creases in the leather coated in dry crusted balm and the dust attracted to it, are then straight-laced tightly. Jackets layered. Scarf tossed over my neck. Down the stairs and out the door into the snowfall, crunching on the pear.

This day is flooded in a particularly pleasing shade of overcast. The sky a distinct pale blue, its brightness subdued by grey clouds. Ear buds connect my phone to my head, playing the same playlist on the same bus route. Indifferent community members fill the seats. The usual people, the usual business.

The same as any winter day. No watermark at the corner of every glimpse that reads “New Year 2017.” It takes me a moment to realize this when I glance at the date on my phone.

Am I dreaming? Is it all really that insignificant?

I go forward, coming home to the one I love when all is said and done. The rest of today will be totally boring and I will love it. I pour some coffee, take necessary pulls off the usual substances, and get to typing an offhand account (for a change) of a lived experience back in town before the seven-to-eight transition, just for the hell of it.

Here we are. The world is the same. It might stay this way next year — tomorrow. Annual life feels less like a spectacular reset of 12 seasonal points of planetary alignments, and more like the expected repackaging of time and events by people who aren’t you or me, gradually set in place over 72 hours of morning news and Trump’s latest tweets.

At least for now, I’ve stopped cursing the informal obligation to offer up thoughts in the form of prose before the new year, as my first thoughts of this year elaborate. I simply decided to act. To observe the moments before and after. Take from them what I might, but take nothing too seriously. Along the way, maybe construct a bumper for my medium.

The calendar starts over. Air traffic controllers and data centers begin the first of their monthly operations. The final digit in date fields of IBM and Windows NT embedded systems changes. The same minute and specific continuation of mass industrial society, constantly directing us toward large-scale ecological collapse. Everyday life.

Whatever happens involving Trump, the anniversary of Disrupt J20 and the whole host of deaths, scandals and social abuses to take course in society, we’re mostly in the same spot we were 365 days ago.

The same people we lose in 2018 — not accounting for their specifics — will be interchangeable with those we lost in 2017, looking from the macro perspective of the closing few years of the decade. The same for the street battles between fascists and anarchists, the oil pipelines and the legal repression.

Thats how most people after us will see this point in time, to interpret and utilize for future efforts. Not much to be worked up for. It doesn’t feel much like a choice. The same uncertainty embraced again.

What can you do? I cursed myself for documenting the first moments of the new year. For not make better use of energy on something that everyone else wasn’t doing. It was useless to be so hard on myself. I realize now that its just more liberating to let things pass you by. To go forward and do it offhand.

Don’t force anything. That isn’t my resolution that everyone advocates against, but probably something I’ll take away from 2017.

We go on in our own ways. I document the one perspective I have control over. Almost like letters to myself, but spaced out between the years and publicly displayed. Like we share in the general idea. I like to think we do.

Pass Me By, 2017

Reflections on Being Bi

September 23rd marks Celebrate Bisexuality Day, on which in 1999, Wendy Curry and friends with BiNet USA created a day of celebration to foster non-monosexual (not strictly gay, lesbian, etc.) pride and solidarity in the post-1960s and 70s gay rights movement. During a period in the movement of bisexuals patronized as “going through a phase” or reduced as “half gay,” constantly lugging behind rainbow banners hoping to be recognized with as much dignity, Curry gave non-monosexual queers a day to get loud and proud without being vouched for by their rigidly gay older siblings.

A little over a decade, new grounds on identity and community have been broken. The “gay or straight” dichotomy is increasingly decommissioned in favor of a fluid, shifting idea of sexual, romantic and emotional orientation. The strict roles of man or woman are replaced by individuals defining their presentations free from strict qualifying castes. Angry queers are on standby to take direct action against the oppression and bigotry that persists, despite liberal appeals for assimilation.

While bisexuals and other non-monosexuals still endure misconception and stigma around their identity, there are strides made in deconstructioning mythology and tapping into pride as a change-making tool. In Curry’s words, “If you really study civil rights/diversity acceptance, you’ll see that people start to respect people once they respect themselves. As long as we were in this endless begging for inclusion, we weren’t addressing the respect issue.”

For me, bisexuality laid a path of self-identity that has been a strange and reassuring force. Well before digging into all the complexities, I had a sense of there being more to it than “liking guys and girls” through lived experience. Emotions beyond romance and sex coupled with self-esteem and existential chaos provided me with the texture of this still young, still uncertain life. Seeing the way people in-between’ed expression gave me a sense of deeper possibilities even before I saw them put down in theory. And ultimately, seeing where I am right now with a truly wonderful and life-saving partner, I don’t ever want to let where I came from lose its influencing power on where I go from here.

In the years of bi voices being amplified, the positivity shared by those who endured community changes, and my own doings around who I am beyond sexual identity, I think now is a good time to lend my own perspective to the conversation, given the occasion.

Growing Up

Don’t worry, there won’t be any irrelevant life story. Though I will say that I grew up kind of hazy, in memory and in what I felt during life-defining experiences. Even if that’s how it should be, it still feels abnormally tangled. The sentiment of things not needing to make perfect sense was always kind of endearing for me.

Considering that I’m at the last stop before my twenties as of writing, we’ll be backing up to the point where a lot of these testimonies qualify as life stories.

I was weird. I still am. I knew I was weird, and I told myself this everyday. It didn’t really become an unhealthy thing until I was about eleven or twelve years old. My weight, personality and learning disability became the foremost things plaguing my nerves when I was in school or around kids my age. I think I tried to build my personality vicariously through the images I got in media, which is a terrible thing to do. Overly romanticized situations don’t serve as a good primer for the all-too real awkwardness of pre-adolescent social exchanges. With that facade toppled, I was on my own.

When I realized I wasn’t as “cool” as I thought I was, the only way I could avoid a breakdown was by repeating apologies in my head to people I had to talk to. “I’m sorry you have to interact with me.” Whenever I could calm myself down and think of something “funny” or “witty” to say, they would kind of just grin, smother a cringe and turn to their friends to snicker. After so many of those over and over again, all my effort to be likable wasted, I finally decided to just shut my mouth for good. I would have asked people straight-up if they would prefer not to talk to me before I even said my name, but that would pretty much defeat the purpose. People were no-go zones.

Around that time I was pulled out of public school after a year of bullying that I left bottled up became known to my mom, and I continued through online courses officially registered as homeschooled. At the time I felt luckier than ever, especially with new methods of education available to me. The school system served, and continues to serve, a dual purpose of devaluing students’ capabilities for making them useful to a boss somewhere down the road, and encouraging an atmosphere of strife and petty indignities among each other. The last part made me not pay a second thought to being removed from easy access to socializing. I was convinced that everyone in my age range hated me anyways, and anyone a few years older than me would always find ways to exploit my social shortcomings for a sick laugh.

By then, the stage was set for my personality to follow. A lot of confusion and angst was baked into my young perception, so I wasn’t really lonely so much as angry and dismissive. A lot of time alone in that conviction made me comfortably numb, reassuring myself with “fuck everyone” whenever I felt envious to the contrary. But everything only worsened with time, and soon I had to come to terms with myself and the world.

Isolation

I knew what being bisexual meant fairly early, but I had trouble considering myself that. With all the self-hatred going on, I determined my identity based on how “likable” I was; how and if I could relate to others regardless of gender. So for a while, with what juvenile information I had, I considered myself asexual for a brief period. I thought it was the most fitting justification for being asocial more than anything, but I couldn’t deny that I was misusing the label. Then I called myself straight but that I “didn’t like sex,” and then I kind of just stopped trying to name it, letting it be whatever.

All my time at home let me figure out how to transform hobbies into meaningful work. A lot of effort was funneled into writing and learning programming, which is responsible for everything right now. It was humble beginnings and I’m still proud that I made the most of my time alone in my own world, but it also did a great job of keeping me at a distance from things I wanted to go further in. I was too comfortable in front of a keyboard, and couldn’t see how to change that with minimal effort.

Nothing ever felt fair. I rarely got a break from being sad or anxious. There’s nothing to complain about family-wise, but emotionally — in the realm I never spoke about to anyone — I was always in a rut. As far as simply getting people to know and respect me, I was completely lost. A local church youth group was a decent enough sandbox for finding common interests, but sure enough, the same impressions I got from school were rediscovered there. At this stage anger was dissolved into mild acceptance. I was fully prepared to be overlooked, but disappointed nonetheless.

There wasn’t much refuge alone. Oftentimes I would see a close bond between two men in a film and I would feel the worst reeling pain of emptiness and envy I could imagine. Or I would see a bond between a man and woman and feel the same way. I couldn’t make sense of the inconsistency, losing the grasp on reasoning with it in the haze of everything else. Puberty at its finest. I often reminded myself with Wizard’s line from Taxi Driver: “Don’t worry so much!”

Internet friendships and communities were a blessing, a monumental tool for being real with someone dealing with the same things and giving me at least some reassurance that generations before have been dealt this same shitty roll of the dice. Around that point, going through different causes of my misery, it dawned on me that my frustrations had a connection to sexual and romantic orientation worthy of examination.

That particular case was reopened, but investigating it was delayed. It was in the middle of moving to another state that confusion was transplanted in a new environment, stripped of my familiar home town and nothing but long car rides to dwell on things. Temporary residence in a rural area gave me a tranquil place to reset for a little while. A forest to merge with in spirit, a sunny field to get lost in thought staring at — dumb little sentimental touches that were really needed for my weary mind. I think I was trying to reassure myself that it was okay that I didn’t belong in the castes of heterosexuality and conservatism; that I had to put my own convictions first or risk being the same fake type of person I detested.

Eventually we settled in another town, where I resumed my self-examination online with a new outlook. It didn’t take long for me to accept that whatever I was, I certainly wasn’t straight. It might have been the queer gamers and furries (yep) that had my back, but soon I came to embrace it quietly, uncertain of my family’s reaction if they knew.

I must be a magnet for ruining everything, because I couldn’t keep myself from inventing new problems. With some newly won self-confidence, I made attempts at distant relationships which were predictably failures. In my own defense, both parties were young and trying different things with different persuasions, so it wasn’t a foolproof excursion in retrospect. But at the time it meant as much to me as anyone in a face-to-face relationship. Once again, I was crushed. I secured the pain in place with such adages as I’m uglyI’m boring or Its best that I’m not known.

It wasn’t abnormal to find myself fantasizing about draining all my blood via slit arteries or Google searching the highest point near me to jump from. I have to admit these still plague me sporadically. My mom finding out I was self-harming for reasons I kept vague made me want to put every possible thing in existence in one place while I walk away from it all. Torment on top of torment, I dragged on mindlessly. I’m honestly surprised I survived those hectic times.

Getting Out and Coming Out

I got over the bumps in the road. I still don’t know how, and even now when I face similar problems I forget how to start recovery. I think the mind just lets go of things when its ready to, at least in my case.

I latched onto new things and found myself in a refreshed mindset. At this point I was openly bi online for two years, amassing all the advice I could get and looking to generally improve on my existence. I wasn’t free from anguish, but I poured as much energy as I could into my blog and programming to keep myself busy. Working my first job helped disperse a lot of that energy too.

I didn’t stop looking for someone who could care about me, but I played it safe. I was done being desperate about it. I used that familiar misery as the force that brought me back down to earth whenever I could feel myself flying too close to the sun. My teens were spent alone from the start, and I felt like I deserved someone to build prospects with. Nothing dramatic or specific, and in fact I dreamed of an understated but palpably close bond that would become dramatic when it needed to be. I was out for anyone: friend, lover, something in-between — anyone.

A week before thanksgiving, I started talking to someone. At first I rested assured that we wouldn’t go far. That was my mechanism for staying intact. I prefaced our first night of conversation with something along the lines of “I’m not looking for anything sexual or whatever. Just someone to talk to.” If only I could guess at how short I was selling myself. The things we shared were surprising, how well we clicked and understood each other was something I never felt with anyone else. Day by day, good morning and good night texts, I knew I found the one I would take refuge in when everything else felt wrong. It didn’t take more than four months for us to officially begin dating, and two more for me to save up for a plane ticket for us to finally rendezvous.

Minneapolis, summer of 2016. That was when I finally broke from my past and started a new beginning. A solid week of my doubts and fears melted away by love, honesty and adventure in Minnesota. It was a totally alien sensation; all those years of self-doubt healed in such a short time. But even then, questions about ourselves and the future weren’t over. My partner had time to think things over, and affirmed that she was trans. This presented us with new questions to ask ourselves; for her as an individual in a shitty society, and us as a couple to be perceived by others.

Along with worrying for her health, safety and the respect she deserves in the years to come, I was concerned with how I was going to be looked at: As a bisexual guy, or an assumed straight guy, with a girl at my side. This particular revelation opened a new part in the … I became invested in her through the gender I first perceived her as, and now it was a matter of channeling this kind of inertia in a positive and constructive way. I knew that my feelings for her were unaffected, I was just too used to the idea of being seen with someone of the same gender. It was up to knowing the changes, holding on to what was most important and respecting this person who I love above all else.

The trip home was the worst. I never walked through an airport trying not to cry before, but the flight home gave me time to contemplate this new beginning and what it would take to make it flourish into something tangible. A couple weeks passed and I was alone in my room binging on netflix and something unhealthy. My mom checks on me and tells me I haven’t been very talkative lately. I tell her that I’m fine, but that we should take a drive. It was completely spur of the moment, I just felt the urge to get this over with.

We get coffee and sit in the starbucks parking lot. I’m already panicking when she asks whats up. I know I’m not going to tell her everything, certainly not the gender identity of my “friend”, but only the truth of who I am. I shake off the worst-case scenario thoughts of being disowned and get it out: “Mom, I can only hope you don’t hate me, but… I’m bisexual.”

I immediately begin to cry, terrified. “Okay” she replies. I keep crying.

“Its okay!” she repeats. I piece myself together as much as possible, explain my relationship, neglect all the necessary details and retire back to my room after gaining the approval of my mom, the rest of my family to follow. That feeling in your gut, like you took off a lead vest: I felt that for the rest of the week. A long stretch of uncertainty amounted to my experiences translated into a newly public fact about myself. I felt like my reality was acknowledged, giving me my first sense of self-validation.

A year later, after the right planning and timing, my girlfriend and I are living together, making the most of our passions and bringing them to life with our friends in our community. The rest is history, but one that drives doing better everyday, looking for something at the end of it all worth resting on.

Appraisal

I never liked talking about myself. I think I always neglect the richest details that could be compressed into a perfect couple of sentences to save your time and mine, and instead I gravitate toward droning recollections of times that may or may not paint an accurate picture. But there are times when you have to do your best in that to avoid yet another stuffy academic review of sexual identity and derive from lived experiences. I think being real at the risk of sounding sentimental is a lot better than being a jargon machine from one’s favorite armchair.

I think two things determined how I went about self-discovery: Autism and internalized self-restraint, or, more formulaic: my perception of the world multiplied by the effects of the world on me in return. In this light, this applies to a lot of different stories with different names given to the variables. For me, one thing was very good at fortifying the results of the other: I had a preconception of people, I had a preconception of the right ways to act, their responses were things I held too sacredly, and I instilled them in myself because I trusted others’ judgment far more than my own. This bolstered the whole cycle during new periods in my life when I felt like trying again, more or less giving new reasons to stop again because of responses following preconception. Putting it simply, I was hopeful, disappointed and confused in that order. My naive belief in better things over the horizon sabotaged by the realities others lived.

Self-discovery happened in different parts in different places. A lot of it took place alone with what I had to dwell on. It wasn’t healthy, but it was the only option when I didn’t want to risk a panic attack. I mostly just hated bothering people, but every once in a while I could refresh what specific types of interactions had the most effect on me. This included how shy I was around masculine people compared to feminine people, how intensity changed with people’s age, and the personalities that I felt threatened by.

Soon I noticed that boys my age with relatively outgoing personalities caused me the most tension, while girls fitting the same descriptions were just a hair more fear-inducing. I can easily see connections to who these people reminded me of during negative interactions in the past, e.g., girls telling me that I’m “gross”, or boys telling me I’m “stupid”, but further down the road it went from simply “bothering people” to the likelihood of never being able to make a bond with anyone. Now it was a question of who I desired bonds with the most.

I was always juggling who held sway of my preference when I was realizing myself as bi. Before that, I had a boundless admiration for anyone with the right amount of charm, wit and kindness. It didn’t connect with sexuality and take on a certain form until I hit puberty, where I was mixed up by everything I started feeling. I never got to be face-to-face with any of this until meeting my girlfriend, but I think years of observing and stewing alone from a distance was ultimately worth it.

I eventually judged myself to be a four on the Kinsey scale, essentially saying that I prefer people of the same gender while maintaining a fair attraction to those who aren’t. My girlfriend’s identity gave me an interesting lesson in what you’re attracted to and who you love; not as things that necessitate each other, but as things that indicate one’s sexual capacity separate from long-term emotional standpoint, and what you do to consolidate those feelings in a healthy way. I didn’t surrender my attraction to men, but I arranged my committed relationship and my expression of attraction as non-conflicting spheres with every parties’ consent.

A lot my tribulations can rightly be blamed on hormones, but I’m not going to deny that for most of my life, and as it continues now, I’ve always taken emotional responses and the meanings in things I can’t fully grasp very seriously. Overlaps with social anxiety, uncertainty, self-disgust and feeling bad for everyone I talked to made me more conscious of my interactions. They held me accountable, and I think even if they made me more self-conscious than I need to be, it made a thorough process of knowing who I was without much left to guess on.

It wasn’t a way to say “I know I’m bi because…“, but a way to show the inspiration behind the style of bisexuality I invented for myself.

Why Bi Day Matters

“Pride already happened.” This was one person’s response to me advertising a bi day celebration in my city. Aside from the baked-in aggression against queer voices, it reflects one of the reasons why sections of the queer community value their sovereign days of celebration, sometimes more than the massive annual parades and festivals of rainbow capitalism.

There was no serious usage of “LGBT” as a unified group of people in solidarity until the late 90s. Even afterward, the appearance of a cohesive community of non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming individuals is a pretty new thing. I think in the wake of bigotry expressing itself in neoliberal America, LGBT sections urgently crystallized in a way that shrugged off past injuries, and pardoned new ones in the name of “progress.”

Before this, there was a lot of conflict in legislative and community organizing that cut deep into trans and non-monosexual hidden figures, whether it was after Harvey Milk’s death or the damage control after the stonewall riots. Today that tradition graduates from negligent organizing behaviors to the ongoing assimilation of gay people into state apparatuses of domination and mediation, who expect the rest of us to go along with their victories as trans and non-binary people of color are assaulted or killed by the same cops they march with at pride.

Gay has become a trademark with a standard set of attributes, and if you aren’t “gay” or “straight”, you’re certainly queer in one sense or other. We, obviously, are looking to make the gay community militant again — not to shun every monosexual as a liberal traitor. But with the circumstance of it all, rebuilding ourselves requires amplifying those who are left to the back of the parade line or asked silly questions about their identity.

Bi, trans, non-binary, intersex, asexual and other days of celebration are all occasions to hold our communities proud and independent from the history of liberal assimilation into rigid legalistic frameworks. Its about having the self-respect to determine one’s own sense of pride specific to their identity and how its expressed to others.

A Better Relationship with Sexuality and Gender

The relativity and fluidity of gender content is something that can’t be dismissed for much longer in today’s world. As the gendering of behaviors becomes increasingly brittle with each person living them, its clear that laying down a basic idea of contouring ourselves with others is easier and more fruitful than everyone trying to fit into something that won’t budge.

I’ve often been asked the question when talking about gender followed by my own sexuality: “If gender is about self-identity and not ‘how many genders there are,’ how can you call yourself bisexual? Doesn’t that imply that there are only two?”

When thinking about bisexuality, most people jump to the conclusion of quantities meaning “how many genders this person is attracted to” instead of considering what quantity even relates to. Dealing with quantity is more or less visualizing people’s scope and flexibility, using quantity to refer to points that start and stop boundaries. It should be obvious that nobody should submit to any elementary analysis and surrender their identity just because there are differences on what quantifying adjectives mean.

For a basic example, we can think of two (bi-) poles that start in one place on a spectrum and terminate in another. These poles encompass a specific area of presentation that an individual is attracted to, instead of having two mutually exclusive types of people our inclinations will be limited to like the traditional idea of bisexuality suggests. Its more like covering all bases by looking at the two ends of a region, which are sometimes simplified as masculine, feminine and what is between them.

This model might work accordingly with other non-monosexual identities too: Polysexual individuals might envision multiple sections encompassed by multiple sets of poles, while pansexual individuals have no visible divides at all, embracing the entirety of identity spectrums.

I think this is key to expressing any sexuality without coming off as binary about gender. Bisexuality is a way of people defining the scope of their attraction in relation to the sum of their preference, and not so much the “number of genders” they prefer. Even with straight or monosexual people, there is no correct way to be any of those things; identifying the areas of attraction doesn’t take any prescribed form of roles or numbers. Its about presentation and who it resonates with.

Going Forward

We decide what life looks and feels like. There are collective and individual aspects of that reality; people can get together to make societal changes, and individuals can establish the facts of themselves through which to interface with life. Joining or conflicting, relating potential to each other accomplishes more than we think. Its all in knowing ourselves, what we want and what it all means in the end. Doing our best and staying relentless.

Happy Bi Day. Remember Scout Schultz.

Reflections on Being Bi

Charlottesville is Barely The Start

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(For Subversion NewsIts Going Down)

Our group of four stood at the crosswalk, flagpoles in hand and bandannas around our necks. Off in the distance, the park is teeming with black-clad people with clubs, shields, respirators, flags, banners, signs. Any form of message delivery, all with the same idea. Looking down the street to see if there’s a quicker way to get across, we spot the first of our enemy: Identity Evropa marching in a single column down the sidewalk across the park, their distinct blue and white flags waving above them. Before they round the corner to face the anti-fascists, we already hear cries against them, cries unlike at any sporting event; cries with sincere disdain on every level. “Nazi Scum Off Our Streets!” The column leaves our sight, and we cross the street. This is at 10 AM.

Over the next two hours, we move from park to park, checkpoint to checkpoint encountering the sections of this new wave of terror and fervor of racial fantasy. At the same time, we encounter some of the most courageous and selfless individuals who put themselves in danger to aid their comrades. Street medics tending to those pepper sprayed and injured by the enemy. Redneck Revolt giving armed protection to the mass of anti-fascists. Camp sites out in the woods providing legal info, mental health support and weapons training before the action. Every bit of this would contribute to our victory over the enemy in Charlottesville, but also set the paradigm for what to do from then on.

After the police declared Emancipation park an unlawful assembly for the white nationalists, we regrouped at our initial rendezvous. We eat, rehydrate and plan our next moves. Reports from communications come in and out, that the fascists are approaching us. A couple right-wing stragglers cross the street, get punched in the mouth and get their confederate flag expropriated, which is later burned.

We make our way to McGuffey park to rejoin with people we got separated with. When we arrive we get word that Richard Spencer was arrested and celebrate accordingly. Soon after, we get reports of fascists en route to harass a black, low income neighborhood. As armed bike-runners are dispatched to confirm the situation, the need to gather all the counter-protesters to have the whole town on watch becomes obvious.

We set our sights for the busy roads around the pedestrian mall, a mile out from Emancipation Park. An improvised chant invigorates our numbers down the road leaving McGuffey. “Everywhere we go, pigs wanna know; Who we are — so we tell them: ‘We are the People! The motherfucking people! Fighting for Justice. Black liberation, brown liberation, queer liberation, trans liberation, native liberation, workers’ liberation!

Soon we reach an intersection, and we are greeted by red communist flags and black lives matter banners. Cheers signal them into the mass of people united against white supremacy. We wave our flags and continuously declare these streets to be ours, as they are. But just after clearing the intersection, at Water and Fourth streets, I hear faint screams up the road. I grab my partner and a comrade and rush us to a sidewalk in the opposite direction before the screams culminate in a roaring smash with people tumbling over windshields. The rush of victory and camaraderie is instantly replaced by terror; fear for what the toll of injuries and deaths will be reported on in the news later that day. I clutch my partner, knowing that someone is dead. “This is fucking class war!” we shout.

Paramedics arrive in minutes. One of our group members is missing, and our anxiety peaks when riot police begin stepping in, advancing ten feet per minute. To our greatest relief, she makes it back to us having been trapped on the other side when police cleared the street. For fear of being kettled, we rejoin with people from our state and get somewhere safe.

After the attack, activities on all sides are fragmented into a free-for-all. The give a little, get a littleconvention is thrown out the window. Hospitals caring for injured anti-fascists are circled by cars belonging to Identity Evropa. Reports of drive-by shootings by nationalists put everyone on edge. Sporadic reports of mass arrests send us to ultimately barren locations. Cooling down at a local coffeeshop, we decide that we’ve done our part. We make it back to our car and debrief at camp before getting on the road for home. We get the outside world’s view of the situation in the car. It feels almost insulting, after what we’ve seen firsthand.

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Charlottesville as a city is now tainted to me. I can never get that first impression healed, and that city will always be bookended as where I was on August 12, 2017. Every bit of stonework, every street and every shop can only play a part in mentally outlining the vessel for what arose on that day from devotion to the myth of “blood and soil.” Regardless, a few facts need to be repeated.

We outnumbered them. We shut their event down before it could start. We were lucky enough to have the cops turn on them. But they will step up their game. They will celebrate the murder of Heather Heyer and twist it into a repetitive in-joke, encouraging their fantasy to be built on further. They willkill more of us, and they will try to win. The fascist rise to power is always prefaced in the streets.

The analyses of late show all and more I could say about the situation: This is a testament to this generation’s resurgence of nationalism; the point where everyone agrees that they’ve moved out of the Internet. Where mere disgruntled young white men are organized into formations capable of terrorizing vulnerable communities and securing the already prevalent structures of oppression as the core mode of society.

Charlottesville as some grand call to action was a laughable failure, yes, but I can only speak for the impressions I got in the streets. Personally, it was a declaration of class war that was secured when Heather Heyer was killed. Each side had a sense of this being something momentous, probably not as profound when knowing that it was built up over the weeks prior, but it was there and it meant something more.

And now in the aftermath, as white nationalists announce more rallies over confederate statue removals across the US, threatening posters put in low income neighborhoods and random acts of racist violence, we are seeing that sentiment spreading and coalescing into a real conflict beyond protests. With liberals saying their routine denouncing of violence “on many sides”, its made clear once again that only we will protect us.

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We have to come to the realization of peace and love being an outcome. A result, and not a means of maintaining itself. You can stand up to hate with love, but what vehicle of action is love driving? Certainly not more and more “love” until it somehow forms an effective weapon to literally kill white supremacy. You don’t “love” a fascist to death or make your love out to be deadly if it can’t hate and kill when it needs to.

Our relationships need to break away from appeasing the exploitation of non-violent complacency, monotonous popular dialog, and taking to heart the acceptability of liberal pats on the back.

If anyone cares about standing up to hate, they won’t prioritize “taking a stand” and announcing support while backing down at the first sign of physical confrontation. They will speak last while organizing, arming, training and fighting alongside the marginalized. They will understand the need to raze the shackles of state mediation, working to the crossroads of autonomy or autocracy. It is possible, and day by day it becomes our time to decide.

[Image Credits: Anonymous]

Charlottesville is Barely The Start

Making the Best of Better

Along the [ongoing] process of figuring myself out, that is, gaining the existential foothold to work through life in what comes natural, I figured out that I took a lot of direction from the people who lived bits and pieces of what I was encountering. They more or less built their observations on a similar problem that could be applied to something I was mulling over or struggling with, and finished with a grinning, careless retraction back into the tornado. I could never tell if that attitude was the signature of experience and bravado, or a defeated scoff of “I’m already dead, but I may as well keep going.”

Very quickly it became apparent, in a curious and morbid coincidence that always frightened those whom I told, that those who I found most humanity and sincerity in where those who truly gave it their all, and immediately afterward, through whatever circumstances — emotional, mental, legal, financial, — found it prudent to take their own lives right at the end of their peak or the middle of their downward spiral.

I have an odd relationship with the sentiment of suicide much more than the act. The act is a functional taboo, but the sentiment is a vast and rich ocean of reasons because it underpins all we do — even the disdain of it means something. The awful, mournful turn in our stomach connects to the cruelties we strain ourselve to ignore which caused a death, instead encouraging people to talk about their problems which have no words to satisfy one faction in the no-win situation of simply being done.

Its only right that we don’t leave it to one hypothetical factor, that the possibilities and torments could have been plenty and overlapped significantly for those who did it. We can never properly appraise if it worked or not. But my approximation is that all these factors could have been under one emotion or sense of the change in the wind that influenced a finishing of both their life and work as one.

Let’s imagine something. What different outcome of his life could we derive if Di Vinci’s best work wasn’t lost in any great fire in Florence, but was displayed perfectly all through the world and simply invalidated; rejected? What would be worse for him and better for us?

The sheer energy from all human reserves can only churn out so much, and only so much can exist in the social and spiritual fabric of each other’s collective web of purpose, meaning, whatever… to comply with the point, the germ, the seed of the creation from those human reserves. The creator works in hopeful blindness, without clear reason or measure. Above all, overarching those factors was the noncompliance of the social fabric with the human output. That your work was unrequited or made for the entirely wrong audience.

So if you made the best thing for the right audience, but it was all lost to the flames, is that really so much a loss compared to your own personal masterpiece, with all the right combination of words and aphorisms to save the world a thousand times over, written in your own language separate from any other human tongue? Imagine coming up with a cure for cancer in the stone age and try keeping any hope.

It became clear after years of sleepless nights and aching, dark-eyed mornings that its a lie and a curse to be any kind of “best.” I never strove to be a best, and I think I’m still working to justify both why I can’t be one and why thats the best thing to settle for. For one thing, “best” is effortlessly subjective. Your best is not Tom in Ohio’s best or Linda in New Mexico’s best. And if its not someone else who you imbued with being the best, its yourself. Setting the goal for yourself to be the best, or a best, is how you guarantee failure in yourself and corruption in your work. The drive clouds the input and perpetuates that for everyone else, making a fickle social fabric that only the worst people will benefit from. The reason for this still perplexes me, but my best answer for now is that most people just have terrible taste and judgement.

Now, don’t get the idea that you should set out to fail in order to succeed, because reverse engineering the cycle won’t work. You won’t reach your destination by driving in the wrong lane. Its apparent that valid participation requires playing by the same rules that contradict what we intend to get out. The only road to travel on to the only destination claims so much from our work along the way. To accomplish what I want, the solution is to change course.

By saying that, I’ve been invalidated, outed from everyone else. Creative people and communities strive to be the best at the same time and its just one race without a finishing line. Any other model is a fantasy to them. Institutions, jobs and coevals all have a winning and loosing spectrum that basically defeats the validity of people being themselves for being the best.

But even if you get to that in some way, the title invalidates any substance and contradicts a “best”. Even if you’re the most honest and substantive figure in a field, you’re still only seen as the best and not the most substantive person. Rank defeats merit always. The way things are set up won’t settle for less than a rigorous passion to what you do. Anything else makes it a mere “hobby”, simply because the quota for dedication and procedure wasn’t met.

Best only finds a way to kill itself. Best doesn’t last, a new one comes along and it happens so easily that you’d think its programmed to do that. So my goal became to subvert the robotic instruction of catching fire and being rained on. To become a different element that can withstand, but also be relevant on my own terms.

I simply want to act in what capacities I presently have, and make the most of what I can produce. To matter because of what I can easily do to with a clear, working mind; and for the content to stay fresh with time and comply with the social and spiritual fabric of our various sense of meaning.

Its probably impossible to separate this particular angle in my own conscience from different issues, but since my developments in looking at social systems generally, my contention stays the same in all matters, including how content and merit flows: That there isn’t a vertical structure of bests and mediocre types, but a level playing field of autonomous and unique entities sharing their anti-best sentiments in harmony.

Coffeeshop open mic nights and workshop readings are probably the best places to see this play out. Theres real community there, real mutual appreciation and security because there is no best or competition in sight. Contrast this with the unspoken bonds of writing on a certain subject among ten or fifty other people, or trying to become poetic in a new way.

But it isn’t out of any romanticized vision of the underdog that leads me in this direction as much as a desire to have my cake and eat it too. To be a sort of Wallace or Swartz or Thompson, and the suicide is instead a peaceful retreat in my confinement where best doesn’t have power, ideas can traffic in and out of me, and leaving that place lets me know that we’re all just creating and sharing like an infinite commune of doers according to our ability with every bit being important.

Call it a cheap study in mediocrity or a disgruntled young creator among a thousand other hapless fucks rushing to the next unclaimed special point in culture, but it all comes from appraising what the cycle is for me: what drives me to do—and what I do to put back in it. If I could formulate any meaningful change, it would be where the ambition and the content bounce off each other instead of content alone being the gamble. People won’t evolve to read minds or archive the emotions of the guy who wrote his seminal novel, but they can value the best of all the individual puts in, than appeasing a best within the whole. Where everyone can become better, and not the best.

My guess at the end of all this is that those creators who took their lives were experiencing the realization against bests and greats as a component of the social and spiritual fabric, but also an impossibility in reconciling a substitute form of expressing ambition. Additionally, with the other problems they were confronted with, having the projected meaning of their life and work as nothing important or valid to the public, they caught that infamous train we’re all compelled to by being revolted by it.

Existential crises, creative insecurity, conformity and invisibility. They mix and build the worst barriers between an idea and breaking through. Instead of driving through those barriers and failing when you’re killed in the crash, let’s just go around them. Let’s be better, and avoid best.

Making the Best of Better

Annual Discontent

My first hours into the New Year, 2017… I hate writing these kinds of things, because for one thing its an incredibly cheap and easy topic for any writer. Any moron with a language to work with can start one of these things and get attention for it. Secondly, I know that halfway through the year, when everything will either turn out worse than expected or take on a totally different nature (rendering prediction and analysis mere egostroking) I will feel like I wasted my energy on hope and idealism than using it for real-time commentary. However, all this considered, I didn’t do any preparation for the turn of the year, being emotionally scattered and indifferent, and so I think that gives me a better look at how things might go in the sense of just riding it through, than going into it with a set list of expectations and things to compare it to that will add insincerity to the experience.

I awoke this afternoon from sorrow the night before, and into the common bustle and noise of this place, but enveloped in a new foreboding. Even now as I write, I was totally unaware of any breaking news or trends, save some drama over Mariah Carey botching a performance somewhere. The only thing I could guarantee was changed was the 6 to 7, and the annoyance of needing to ingrain that in my mind when filling out a date field in a document. I climbed out of bed carefully, like in a new place altogether, got my coffee and sort of just shut myself out of Twitter or any other source of news, contemplating what stood before me and how I would communicate that to prose.

Lets take a second to acknowledge two concrete factors of being: 1, We don’t ask to be here, alive, in general. And 2, every person deals with that fact in vastly different ways. In the existential, adolescent sense, we sometimes make that blindingly clear to our parents when the world becomes too much. In the middle-years of adulthood, a time for reassessment of everything you got involved with as a younger person becomes unavoidable. The outlooks are bound to shift as experiences and reactions do, forming long-term conditions and emotions as we keep moving, nonetheless they are still the mechanisms for dealing with what we didn’t ask for.

In my case, every person is a representative of some company that is trying to sell me a product, and every moment consists of them telling me that with enough work, with enough effort, with enough ritualistic motivation and a healthy approach to it all, this product (life) can work out great for me. But who wants a product that you need to take constant care of, especially at this point in time? Do you want a device or an appliance that requires insane amounts of maintenance and responsibility, where all that effort takes over from the enjoyment or use? Of course not. Why then is life exempt from this standard? Is it because we fail to quantify what we can control of it, and so we surrender to inevitability and prescribe methods of dealing with that? Can we just not be bothered to change immediate and artificial difficulties, because apparently they make us stronger even when they just kill us? I have to deal with what I didn’t ask for, and when the collective attitude for dealing with a burden is more burdens, it defeats itself and then some.

All this restarts with full stamina after New Year’s eve. Both the question of what I will make out of this year, and the understanding that the time and place to make something good are totally arbitrary, collide and, if nothing else, emphasize the inescapable difficulties that we are thrust into. Its all going too fast as it is. I need a minute. Let me just breathe and hope to god the shit from last year doesn’t carry over and take shape again.

I chose to go in blind, because I think learning of yet another beloved musician’s or actor’s death or a story of the new president-elect will conjure up the bias of “here we go again” in that vein sense. So while I’m somewhat uncorrupted with whatever is currently happening, if I can convey a general sense of what I think should be the case for this new start prior to the year filling itself with continued drama, I think I can get through this well enough.

Every year I can’t help but think of the desperation and bickering that must go on in the media companies and figures responsible for providing the cultural condition of a step in time. The friction and combination of ideas in an effort to appear viable and worthy of the stature they have, to give to those waiting the attitude to follow or the new human clay to mold something out of. Their desperation, the newly found stress of this generation that haunts every one in their time in the sun, is bleeding through when the pressures on every side close in. This does two things: renders the previous product obsolete or at least dated, and gives the idea for the next. A statement or movement runs its course and lays the way for its inheritor.

I have some issues with this model. Although I generally approach problems in a linear manner, the linear order of finding the new approach is just that; the new approach… for the next approach. The distraction on itself takes over any attempt at bettering social life.

What good are new developments in anything if they’ll simply become part of the zeitgeist, and dismantled in a few decade’s time? Why do we pursue things we’ll just get tired of before we have time to rejoice? If we can’t make up our minds on principles which will remain and adapt to every smaller development throughout time, what good is there in rewinding our anger to redo what could have been done and over with a century ago?

The process is one of passion, not urgency. Each generation hates itself for being socially stagnant or sedated by individual comforts as injustice continues unscathed. But its action is simply for action alone than for urgency: the historical obligation to find something to be angry about and develop new ideas to follow, because their parents and grandparents did the same, so consequently so must they. Expand or die is the implication: manufactured and forced, blindly hurried to the next checkpoint. If these people truly care about doing things differently and expanding reality, why don’t they consider the very framework in which they do things? Why don’t we consider when or if we will be able to stop and actually be satisfied?

This is not to say there is no urgency now, but for me the actions I want to take need to be universally encompassing changes, changes that will settle into our social framework and guide every individual shift for as long as we uphold it. A great and socially omnipotent simplicity that enables more complex things under it. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to actively desire a situation where we will need to do things over and over again, opposite to a single massive reconfiguration to take place that will conform to and welcome the smaller, decentralized changes in perspective and association. The opposite seems to be the case for most people, where they desire many small changes in an effort to satisfy a benign, almost nonexistent encompassing configuration. Tiny organic units instead of organic universality to be the mode of life. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of both the exploiters and the tail-chasing opportunism of those against them to a point where the two blur and mesh into a new oppression; an oppression of direction. Do you or do you not want a better order of life? Than stop pussyfooting around and make direct change on something. Alas, with this new step in time, we will only find what cultural product will lay way to the next.

For half of last year, it took me a lot of agonizing thinking, more fittingly called mind-consuming depression, over what I believe and feel, what those who are striving toward what I seek think and feel as well as if they would agree with me, to come to any sort of conclusion on my own direction. At this point, I’m not certain if it won’t be something I will think about forever until the gland in the human anatomy which produces the feeling called anxiety can no longer take it.

I think if there is a meaning or an aim in what I do, it is to come to a point where people can do and be as they want while all the functions of social life are in a state of respectful indifference or mutual support of it, no more and no less. Everything before that is a struggle to overcome the structures rooted in one side against that idea to continue its domination. Be it a condition of socialism, an equitable reconfiguration of present society, whatever. If you can be you and I can be me, and there has been an effective elimination of institutional exploitation, artificial complications and desperation as a result, I can’t help but feel that my work in that range is arguably finished, and that I can begin work elsewhere from what that has left. I don’t see any current means of convincing me otherwise that that idea is the enveloping change which I desire, and possibly what every person who shares my political alignment seeks when boiled down to its essence.

And maybe these New Years are outer layers of the same mindless cultural production. They repeat themselves until we acknowledge the broken record and actually initiate change instead of just suggesting the idea, reformatted to look and sound new and interesting, to make the best of the crumbling relationship hanging by a few threads. Otherwise, it isn’t the fault of causes but life itself. Just another thing we didn’t ask for but have to deal with. Ride it through without expectations that make it feel insincere.

Annual Discontent

The Good Old Boy Complex

just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

— HST

An irresistible historical specimen with unique overtones continues to be a curious case in the Southern United States, or the lower Appalachian region broadly, mostly to its outsiders. Particularly, the subclass of Americans — not entirely what is known as a redneck or hick, but that demographic which rides the line between them, and consolidates their values amplified by sociopolitical ideals common of the Southern ethos. The generation proceeding hardened male working class Christians, who have entered contemporary society with their fathers’ attitudes and principles in one hand, and the strange complexities of larger society facing them in the other. The result is a rebirth of that last generation struggling to be in a world that forgot their dogmas along with women needing their husbands’ signature for loans, and brushed off the relevance of their character after their collective spite against conditions which would advance their conditions of life centuries ago. I speak of those young Southern men who are in a distinctive social dimension tilting slightly to one side while one foot is in another. Trapped between the past’s lost embers and the growth of modern circles, a sort of cultural uncanny valley that becomes obvious when crossing the state line in Virgina, Tennessee or Kentucky, from my and others’ experience. The Good Old Boy, as I can most adequately identify from the conversations I’ve heard, is the passive-pronounced character trait of the congenital Southern American male, and the product of the Southern antagonism meeting current events, new issues and old covenants kept by silent rites.

Those interested in history, social commentary or any owner of two brain cells are aware of this. In layman’s words, a southern man. But over time I’ve observed a kind of subgroup in this background. More specifically, a young, relatively ambitious southern man engaged in the outside or mainstream to some extent. The offspring of the patriarchs, who also existed in this same situation a generation previous, who carry on their fathers’ attitudes into the next period of time. The subject at hand has been acknowledged and documented a few times times before. As far back as Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on the State of Virginia provided some observations on the castes of Virginian social life close enough at the time to resemble what we’re met with now. Varying factors have all been accounted for as the basis for this in different observations by intellectuals leagues above me, but I think we only glimpse at its surface in the course of critically looking at America today, and we’ve yet to look at how the class of people is fairing in a situation where their only immediate use is the beguiled labor for property owners, and to remind others that they’re a thing.

It used to be that the North and South regions held their own separate social and cultural shades, not exactly intended to maintain territorial identity, but as a matter of circumstance. The interests and class stances concentrating in vertical dispositions one century after British colonization, trades and demands segmenting and booming respective of their place on the pole, and economic institutions settling in bountiful areas all contributed to germinating what we have now. A few miles north of Hillview, Kentucky is now still the horizon of the Yankees. They rarely crossed their own invisible boundaries, and even rural and urban sectors were only slightly dissimilar. The civil war of the mid 19th century hardened the regional differences when confederacy and union were propped up, and war over ownership of people hauled from across the Atlantic was waged. But with that old quarrel over and being accepted as staying in that forgotten corner of time, the shades have progressively melded together as travel and relocation for jobs became more common. This lead to Alabama hicks and Florida crackers being found in Illinois and Vermont, spreading out considerably like they never left Dixie; with their traditions following like a stench. Truly blending the ethno-cultural contrasts into the unified American body.

Before moving into the actual notes, lets recognize an important disclosure for the content at this time. The goal here is not simply to take a razor to the whole features of the South or demean its culture, but to deconstruct a social aura that has put itself in front of me since my own inception of critical thinking around my environment, and is past due a written observation of some sort. Of course at this point all social critics have hammered at the complimentary nature of the culture with the political platforms, but rarely I think they’ve looked at the specific tinges we can find in unsuspected venues should we look hard enough with an eye for its transparent undertones.

My life thus largely spent in Southern states, with a certain fondness and optimism for this region of the continent — but with great disdain for what the culture has always embodied to varying degrees, has left me with a trove of observations and notes from family reunions, mom and pop restaurants out in the boonies, and discussions with elder patriarchs and masters of the universe, opposite to me on all spectrums. I intend for what follows to be a biased but responsible summary from my own accounts, comprising a dialog on an old but filtered breed of people meets the emboldened fixtures of the contemporary setting.

Essentially the good old boy standardizes an assimilation of the redneck to where [subtle] prejudice, contrasting judgment or distrust based on traits and non-conformity is merely a frame, and not a full basis of character in the expected setting, like a person with this trait and the other hackneyed attributes. An example would be an executive director transfered from West Virginia with a Masters in marketing and a quaint demeanor, who is particularly wary of women in hijabs. It removes just enough of the caricature and puts it in every profession or position of power for it to stand on its own.

The engagement outside the culture is the entryway into what reminds us of their existence. Those moments online where you see a 30 year-old new father from Georgia in a camouflage shirt with a Glock 26 on his hip, using emojis and dabbing or what have you. A 60 year-old patriarch signing up for Facebook (and probably snapchat at this point) with the help of his family, sharing and posting rightist political material. Obscure relatives like the cousin of an uncle’s step-sister with a specific set of life values, presumptions of social classes and reductionist outlooks on current events, with a contradictory side note that “people are too uptight”. Sticking out like a sore thumb. Blinking neon arrows exclaiming “country boy”.

From here we move onto the family, and the families that make up a broader family such as the aunts, uncles, in-laws and swarms of first, second and third cousins. Though its more of a product of families in themselves, the good old family has a propensity to exemplify what we normally think of. The sentimentality of families operating as a collective body, folding vague and distant relatives inward into a greater clan when an occasion requests, is an intoxicating and empowering sense of having been born into a magnificent tribe blessed by the good lord, of which the good old family strives to make an empire, both in informal political unanimity and inward power structures secured by firearms and various contrived narratives.

An undercurrent of patriarchal dominance is evident in the family, not as blatantly asserted as in previous decades (while accounting for varying conditions across families today), but it remains in subtle gender relations. Most opposite to adult males are seen with a very delicate tinge of weakness, in the same reductionist fashion elsewhere, just enough to be clearly picked up with attentive observation. Nowadays, the good old family has little choice but to accompany the event of women attaining status as sovereign individuals, lest they suffer excommunication from the society that grants them to be good old boys. Regardless, often coming from both sexes alike, they seem to yearn for a scaling back to when women had a “sense of place” and children fell into familial caste systems of personality to recycle the father’s ambitions.

Gentleness is not done solely out of compassion, but compassion as a necessity to secure that pre-determined inferiority and maintain a rigid family structure, the ends seen as justifiable for cruel firmness. One can reasonably contend that the best interests for the child or spouse are in mind, but the nature all around entails a bigger object. Preeminent masculine traits are injected into the child’s environment as soon as sentience begins to sprout. For the male, to set a goal to meet. For the female, to understand who is favored to really be in charge. “Man-up” and “Boys don’t [do X]” can commonly be unearthed when a male child is acting up or hurt in some way. Into the teenage years the boys may be taken hunting, fishing or the like as a last ditch effort to ensure your kid don’t grow up queer, while the girls are prepped by their mothers for child bearing, marriage and possibly to be a provider alongside the husband. All this contoured around the acceptable minimums of the society they will assimilate into.

If not derivatives of classic white power dialog far more reserved for those going above and beyond a simple good old boy, they sustain the contrasted logic of crime and punishment around ethnic minorities adjacent to the scope of power by police that we’ve seen in the decade’s wake of police violence. Furthermore, basic uneasiness in urban areas and a physiological tension in the pit of the stomach around dark skinned persons, perhaps the occasional angry annoyance at the demand for ethnic justice, is about the worst we see. The suggestion of material conditions being at fault for perceived collective wrongdoings in place of race not once presenting itself to them. And even if it did, it would be a fantastical instance of wording to think any such systems of determining contentedness would do any wrong.

Personal ownership of firearms is a core value, a true holy rite. A kind of ubermensch trait of right-wing bastardization, and precisely as important to the good old family as the firstborn child. It must at all times be proudly displayed on their hip for it to complete its intended impact, as it is often idolized in the culture: The adapted version of Dukes and Princes with daggers and rapiers hanging at their sides as they go about their business is the apparent aim. It reflects on the tribalism, the yearning for a dynasty requiring such protection, and a corresponding victim complex. It demonstrates the fetish of the manifold directions of wielding a kind of power against a perceived constant danger, crucial to upholding the justice of the tribe; up to and including acting on an idea of threat by ethnic minorities at nearly every turn. The ownership of land coincides with this tremendously, though it falls outside the confines of the good old boy nature, as they commonly reside in suburban areas or places bordering town and country.

All these combined and intersecting respectively with that distinctive regional flair, they comprise the outward attitude, and this is more or less the actual weapon of the complex when faced with an issue. As sure as one or more of the good old family members has the DRUDGE REPORT bookmarked, they ready armaments of national providence and vindication of social privilege in their righteous battle to uphold their end of a committed incongruity.

The Broader American Antagonism amounts to the mythic-sensory continuum in sociocultural tensions, namely Southern autonomy which in turn encompasses the slave trade, race relations, civil rights and perceived attacks on individual liberty by big government, all complementary to the mythic realitypossessed by Southern reactionaries, the right overall, and encapsulated by the good old boys. We define the mythic reality as a reality with absent substance, made from emotional subscription and constructed by those who want it desperately to be separate from myth. By existing, this already creates a dialog which of course creates a battle of ideas. Moreover, it is a historically integral constituent of the political dichotomy in the United States: wherein we seem to inevitably trace back and overlap near that great civil conflict we faced one hundred and fifty years ago. Needless in saying, it set the eternal stage for this nation which it will bear for the remainder of its being. It alone was only a circumstantial occurrence and a pawn to greater colonialism, but from its start it was the American social furniture to which we would apply new upholstery every few decades. Jim Crow, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, police violence, white supremacy and silence in the face of injustice. This is the sensory reality — a reality with tangible elements — possessed by the inhabitants of the greater Union who see through the structures possessed by the complex, and wish to overcome the antagonism.

However, the good old boys also wish to conquer this obstacle, and indeed it is one to them, but from the other side. In total the strife is a game of tug-of-war with the center of the rope composed of two halves — each the goal of the respective side. Each side requires the other to be the instigator with a laundry list of reasons for the strife’s genesis. “The liberals destroyed the south’s economy after the civil war”, or “the ruination of the family” normally among them. It demonstrates strikingly that the social conflicts in the nation can always be boiled down to two defined sides, both of which came out the two factions during the war of the 1860s, always taking form in right or left.

The good old boys, commonly, are the front end, expendable footsoliders to this whole network — but not explicitly in direct service to it. They serve it by being of service to separate but connected monoliths of ideas and attitudes which raise up the complex. The attitudes, culture and enjoyments themselves are mundane and even irrelevant. But their permeation in the repository of American social outlooks is what seems to amplify them, just as much as attitudes common to the left or liberal worldviews tend to amplify and easily mark themselves.

They are victims of a mythic narrative that was inherited by their fathers, who were themselves associated in some sense to reactionary movements, the labor exploiters and religious institutions. These conjured the perfect storm for the antagonism when met with plans for reform, reducing singular grasp of society. The political, economic and social pillars of identity created the precursor to the present manifestation. Right-wing quasi-nationalism, free-market capitalism (now having evolved into a more corporatist neoconservatism) and Christian-centric morality, marking June 26th as a worse holocaust than September 11th, may as well have devised an entirely new United States situated on top of the original Union. They are the delegates in the cities and towns for the rigid and angry families in the hills and ranches, as the emerging generations everywhere continue to overcome the past.

The transformation of the good old boy complex has existed as long as the regional distinctions first became relevant and merged as part of the expansion west. The confederate solider begets the senator in favor of Jim Crow laws, who begets the DEA agent from Alabama, who begets the police officer in the urban squalor. Considering at present the impending election results of 2016, and the constant sparks of current events outlining who falls where, we are nearing a new transformation of its political implications as first seen in the media’s acknowledgement of the “alt-right”. The transformation, in my opinion, will likely be made up of individual social factions, not oligarchical circles of statesmen, returning to nationalistic, nativist and traditionalist values, and aspiring to make them conventional once more. Consequently, there will be a rise in counter-movements center or opposite to them, and the antagonism will as always take new form and carry on. Cats and dogs; Right and Left. The equilibrium is the life force of the nation.

The question becomes not what we do about the good old boys, not if they should be removed by combating their higher-ups by some anarchic anti-racist/fascist force. They are not only the symptom of deeper issues, they are equal parts the paramours of the culture in their historical region, and inheritors of their fathers’ spite against unions and equal protection under the law.

We should seek to defuse the anger and dialog by making them useless. It may take riding out the four to eight years of whichever candidate takes the oath, but inevitably how we actually solve the whole antagonism is to engage in a grand upheaval against the conditions which make the reactionary returns to supremacy seem necessary to those convinced or downtrodden by the ruling economic minority.

The result is the good old boy taking a more modest and fanciful form than one complimentary to the amplification of reactionary narratives. The gentle southerner, born in the parts immortalized by Twain and Faulkner, made melodies by Nelson, Jennings and Charles; not the son of a ranting, raving Trump supporter, doomed to carry that weight in a cozy job in the big city.

The Good Old Boy Complex

Hiatus Break

I wanted to write something quick to break the silence. Consider it a placeholder at the end point of a series of events spanning a month and a half, and the start of getting back into what I was wading through previously. I’ll do a sort of rundown of each notable thing thats happened since, though this won’t be very interesting. I almost feel foolish posting this to my actual blog and not on tumblr or something, but considering I’ve only been inactive here, it should be appropriate. Is it counterproductive to be breaking your hiatus with a rant on your hiatus? Oh well. Thats what I’m doing. Here’s your chance to exit if you don’t want to read uninteresting personal nonsense.

I’ve been questioning my integrity as a writer since I let so much get between me and my craft, even though this is totally at my own will. Every previous meddler in this brand of striking on the earth’s surface had some level of higher commitment, jotting things down in worn notebooks when away from their primary tool, rushing to grab a napkin to write something down at a restaurant when something grabs their attention. Whereas I barely even think about it when I’m out of my lonesome space, making me wonder if I’m only aboard this to have an idle placeholder for who I am. “I’m a writer, but the last thing I wrote was two and half months ago” which is always the case.

I guess the closest excusable factor is that I’m part of a generation based on doing a lot in a lot of different sectors by diverse means, and not a lot of people keep up too well, especially the absent-minded ones. Some forget or lose things, some drag behind in the productivity realm.

This, and I’m ashamed to admit that it takes me significantly longer than others to complete anything. Something that could take a columnist for a paper of any status about an hour or two takes me two weeks to a month. This is of several reasons. Firstly, I sometimes spend a whole day re-reading and re-writing paragraphs because I’m highly self-critical of my structuring, phrasing and use of devices and literary figures, as if any mistake would swell and corrupt the whole work and make me a dupe to the grand total of two readers. Correspondingly, I can’t exactly produce poetic, eloquent sentences in a moment’s notice like many honored authors can. I can make it appear so if I invest a month’s time in it, or get lucky enough to have a burst of creativity and a free flowing mind, but the whole work you see before you commonly takes a ridiculously prolonged period of time. Even this took a few days, even though its “short.” And thirdly, I’m too easily swayed that I can put off work for a day to play a video game or spend time researching a different matter with a subconscious knowledge that I wouldn’t produce anything worth leaving in anyway. This is greatly problematic when this becomes my default mood for a whole month, requiring another month to get back at it.

Now obviously anyone who read that would guess that I’m new to writing and I have some further development to go on. Thing is, I’ve been writing on a scale I do now since I first knew how to form sentences. Going in and out of it, being sidetracked with work in programming and shifting from different paradigms involving typing, has probably worn that dexterity from when prose was my lone craft in its purest shape. Not beyond repair, just into a state of confusion that gets readjusted from time to time. Breaking the cycle normally relies on a single instance of having the perfect idea at the right moment, and following that idea to its end and acting on it. I have plenty of ideas in my notes, only a small handful of them will be revealed to be fruitful and interesting enough to follow to the end into a story. I think a lot of people rest on that rift. We pretty much have the ideas at the ready, but the manner in which to execute them are still up in the air. Drafts within drafts.

Being open about such things is probably for the best. The truth sets you free and all that noise, but this also gives an audience a sense of your inner workings as a creator. We all know what to expect from Scorsese or Tarantino when they release a film because they’re open about their quirks and flaws and fixations in their medium. Now you guys know to expect one blog post per month from me because I’m a tortoise of an author who can’t leave alone the fact that I haven’t written anything for a short period of time and I just have to write about that even though nobody really reads me. Great.

Alright, so onto the main explanation I intended for this.

Minneapolis, June 2016

I couldn’t write anything for June, I made some notes here and there, but no actual work done, as something I’ve been longing for for arguably my whole life happened on the 16th when I flew out to finally meet my lover of about five months, though we’ve had something special for about a year. I could drone on and on about how sweet and wonderful and fucking gorgeous he is, and how my life honestly depended on confirming the reality of this splendid love we share, but I’d prefer to leave that part up to the summary that I was on the cusp of throwing my life off a bridge until this angel among people came into my life and swept my heart up.

The week was primarily spent going to different shops and places of interest in the two cities, seeing the Mississippi river, consuming different substances and junk food, and cuddling and making out. Lots and lots of cuddling and making out. Perhaps not enough, but that will be corrected next time around.

I came home with a heavy heart and started drafting an overall telling of the experience. I couldn’t just let this be something to look back on from memory, I wanted it documented somehow. As of now its still in development, and it might just become a private memoir of our first meet between the two of us, but a better idea of the whole thing can be conveyed in the first draft which is worth publishing.

Leaving Minneapolis

Take off from SDF shoved my anxious tension into my chest and forced me down into my seat. All I could do is watch the shadow of the plane become smaller as my heart pounded harder, and later burst at the seems as I finally touched down in St. Paul 94 minutes later.

I was going to rendezvous with someone particularly special. Of the romantic variety. Someone who I’ve come to love on a level not simply of physical attraction coupled with an admiration for character. This individual was keeping me alive in ways I still don’t fully understand. Keeping me moving forward in resolving lifelong emotional issues I had forgotten about. We gradually formed this relationship online in November of last year. Each passing day of chatting with each other got better and better, more and more deeper in subject and personal outlook. I think we started saying “I love you” about a week or two into getting well aquianted. From there on out I knew I wanted this person and not any other soul.

Let me put it in perspective. Since I turned two digits old I’ve never had a genuine friend in my life; let alone a love. Ditching public school for a cross between homeschooling and self-education at 11 years old ruined any chance of forming an important relationship with anyone. Around this time I started learning more that I liked boys, and that I also still liked girls to a very small extent. Upon entering my teens I accepted myself as a bisexual male. Knowing this, all I could really yearn for — in total isolation, as if expressing loneliness was the greatest sin of all — was that of a loving friend. Not even a boyfriend, just anyone who would honestly care about me and hug me when I’m miserable. Seven years later, I’d get more than I bargained for.

Baggage claim 9. Thats where the lonely chapter ended when I looked over and saw him walking toward me. A solid second of my heart arresting and all the memories of sheer isolation evaporating before my mind’s eye preceded a beautiful smile and a first awkward hug. That goddamn Hawaiian shirt he wore. It was dorky as all hell but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. His hands in his pockets, his shoulders scrunched together, a nervous little grin on his beautiful face as he stepped closer. I think I mustered enough in the moment to simply exclaim “Dude!”, and fell into his arms. That sweet embrace I had dreamed of for half a year had finally come, the rift between building the foundation and standing on its peak had been crossed. Five seconds in, holding him by his shoulders and getting his scent in, I pulled out as if I had done something wrong. I stared back at the empty carousel, him staring as well. An excited grin on both of our faces said the same thing. “Holy fuck, its real.”

I can’t remember the awful small talk we conjured to break the ice in those initial moments, but I do remember jumping into the back seat of his friend’s car at the airport and him immediately going into cuddles for the whole way back to his place. This was especially wonderful and terrifying in the first five minutes. I sat there with an uncontrollable smile on my face as this lovely person was hugging my arm and nuzzling my neck. A virgin to all things delightful coming from another person freshly thrown into the fire can only handle a little at a time, but I’m glad I didn’t burst *too much*.

[…]

Things go by way too damn fast, especially when they’re the best moments of your life. When they’re spent with your life’s love, in a new and splendidly chaotic environment. Why is time so cruel like that? I never wanted to not be driving to an airport so badly in my life. Just seven days ago its all I wanted to do, now I wished every airport in the world suddenly disappeared. Anything at all to keep this person’s arm around me forever and ever. Anything to stop the mile-by-mild progression toward the best week of my life coming to its end.

“This isn’t the last time”

“I will see you up ahead”

We exchange a final hug before I break away to get this shit over with. I pick up my bags and go to check in for the outbound flight.

“I love you. No looking back”

Now that I’m back into my usual cycle, I’m of course introduced to new life obligations outside of writing and work – related to money, housing, family and where this relationship will take us. Consider this the part where I say that only my best efforts in balancing my responsibilities with my self-endowed responsibility in converting ideas and events into neat text will be at the helm of my life for the remainder of the year. Normally in a week I would have sorted through my notes and drafts enough to gain direction, but to be safe I’ll give myself the remainder of the month to have everything sorted. Thanks to all those who stick with me and those similar to me. Its the small lights that inevitably shine brighter than the greater, shallow ones.

Hiatus Break