Dear Friends – How are we hardwired?

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By Charlie Brown

“How are we hardwired?”

This line really got to me. It’s from the movie Bandslam, a well thought out teenage drama about Will Burton, a constantly depressed and emotionally/socially repressed teenage boy with a jewfro and an Indie rock/Ska obsession. One interesting thing about him is that he chronicles his days of perpetual misery into journal like emails that he sends to David Bowie everyday with no reply, tentatively describing school in his inaugural email of the movie as being like Novocain for the soul. Without revealing too many details of the story, midway through he suffers an emo inducing tragedy that shatters the fragile self-confidence he built over the course of the film, while still wallowing in his depression he asks the above question and I instantly began writing this piece. In fact I haven’t even watched the end of the movie yet because the same question keeps filtering into my thoughts like a broken record. It’s a simple question that deserves, almost begs for a complex answer. I’ve spent a fair bit of time asking myself this question, honestly all the answers that I managed to dig up seemed rushed, almost half-arsed in their simplicity and they truly don’t deserve to be mentioned at all in this blog. The solution wouldn’t have been satisfying if you managed to find it in one night, maybe not even 2 nights. It’s the type of type of answer that needs other people’s accounts, perspective or even contemplating the universe and the ultimate question of life itself. Maybe the answer is multifaceted with no absolute solution at its core but is rather based off of the individuals own experiences. While I can’t call myself the expert on the subject I would like to throw in my proverbial two cents as it were.

Full metal jacket comes to mind, the cover art of a helmet with “born to kill” in bold white letters on one side while a peace symbol hangs adjacent on the other. It serves as a visual representation of my “answer”; it doesn’t deserve to be called that but serves the purpose of describing my opinion and views in the subject matter. To sum up my findings in one word is effortless. Duality.

To me, humans as a whole seem to fall into the clichés if good and evil a lot. We can love unconditionally or hate without reason, we are capable of amazing compassion and inhuman cruelty. We hold the potential for awe-inspiring good and nightmare inducing evil. For me at least, it’s our duality that sets us apart from other beings in the known universe, only humans have periods in our lives that are both filled with happiness and heart wrenching sadness, we do eventually grow out of it or we stay depressed and make music that appeals to the paper-thin constitutions of the younger teens.

We seem hardwired for chance and change; we can choose who we are and change to be that person or we change and choose to remain that person. We are swayed by our parents, our circumstances, our environment and our experiences. They all help shape us into the person we will become. As Winston Churchill once said, “I have always been fifteen minutes ahead of my time and it has made a man of me.”

We make music and art and sculpt great masterpieces inspired by god or the stars or our own avarice, mausoleums of our own two-headed nature. We can also kill and rape and destroy lives and people and things, avoiding judgement by hiding in the vast ignorance of the world and those who seek to expose this ignorance are deemed trouble makers and terrorists. Killing is not the answer but for some it is as close as we can get. This is our greatest gift and curse, duality of soul and mind and body all wedged together in a convulsing mass of flesh and spirit. I believe we are hardwired for transformation into who we are meant to be.

At the very least it is something to ponder, leave a comment below on how you think we are hardwired.

Dear Friends – Naked At School

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By Charlie Brown

Dear Friends

Today was like I came to school naked as the day I was born, every one of the incoherent drooling masses laughing their asses off at me. It may seem like I’m being overly dramatic but if it’s been going on for a while you tend to become paranoid, hearing people laughing at you everywhere you go. This tends to put a dent in your confidence which leads to you becoming more paranoid as time goes by. It’s a vicious cycle of self-induced torture; as if life wasn’t bad enough. Luckily like all things, the usually gut-wrenching sensation has deteriorated to a dull ache at the bottom of my scrotum; an annoying burning sensation not unlike if I acquired an STD from the mere presence of one Grace Cooper, our resident woman of the night wannabe. Literature is really liberating, I mean usually I’m stopped from expressing myself due to the inhibitions that compel me to be excessively nice to people. Not that I’m only nice because society forces me to be but you probably get my point; I’m just blabbing anyway. My problem is one Heinrich Muller, a joke slash jock in my class, which means he’s twice as annoying and everybody loves him. I’m in a damned if you don’t situation something that happens to be the story of my life.

On a lighter note, Concerts. I’ve only gone to a concert once in my life. This was awesome until the band made us sing out the lyrics to the songs. Have you ever noticed that when a crowd starts to sing that they always sound like a choir of retarded people? That officially destroyed my favourite songs for all time. This only solidified my lack of faith in humanity.

Life’s not all bad; I doubt everyone had such a bad life that they always get depressed about something. It seems like puberty is a sort of survival training for adulthood, you go around with your hormones out of control, constantly cycling between a sense of euphoria or a suicide inducing depression until we hit that point when it suddenly just stops. Your hormones balance out and you realize that the whole decade or so of bad decisions, alcohol induced sex and raving parties are over, not really but you understand. I wonder what I’ll miss about my teenage years.

I’m feeling a lot like a doormat these days, for example, this one girl I know who asked me for some advice. We chatted via text for about 5 hours and I thought we really connected, not that I wanted to date her but because we literally could talk for hours about any bull we wanted until the sun came up.  The very next day it was like we had never spoken at all, she didn’t greet or sat thank you or anything like that; once again I was a doormat for someone’s emotions.

An old proverb I read once says that the path to wisdom starts with a heart filled with love. I think that pain has something to do with it, the more love you have the more pain you’ll feel in life, the pain will make you smarter and the mistakes you made because of the pain will make you wiser. Frankly I would have preferred to stay a fool.

This reminds me of a book I read for school once, Of Mice and Men. It’s the story of two labourers, I can’t remember their names but they aren’t important. One is this huge retarded guy with a furry fetish and his best friend who also use to torture him when they were children. The only thing that set them apart is that they had a dream: to own a piece of land and be truly free to do as they please. The story goes on and you realize that the big ones furry fetish is going to get him into trouble and eventually it does. Long story short, the average one has to mercy kill his best friend and put an end to their dream of being free men together. In the end, the smart one was left to live out his miserable life as a man with a broken dream while his best buddy has gone to the great furry beyond to pet all the rainbow rabbits he wants. In my opinion the big guy gets the better deal; dying is easy, living is the real curse for some. Don’t believe me? Think about all the teens who attempt suicide because life was too difficult. My point is that ignorance is bliss. Maybe that’s why god was so angry about Adam and eve eating the forbidden fruit; maybe he was trying to protect them from the pain of knowing.

A Shirtless Whale

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By Charlie Brown

“Come on Wallace!!”

“Yeh, c’mon! Get the tent off!”

“Get moving Whale!”

That’s me, the whale. No doubt you know by now that I’m the fattest kid in the school, you may think I’m exaggerating but I’m not. They checked. Who are they? The THIN people, the skinny, pretty, beautiful people on TV, in magazines or the movies. You heard them earlier. My real name is Wallace Bunty but it’s been Whale since second grade. The jocks, the bandies, the Goths, the stoners, the crowd; I can deal with them. But the girls…I can handle the crowd of guffawing grunts but the fact that there is a bunch of bra-wearing, lipstick-smearing, giggling gaggle of girls watching me about to take my shirt off. For some reason it just makes it worse. That’s the bad thing about being the fat kid in class; everyone laughs at you. Even though they get tortured about being different too, I guess everyone wants to fit in for a little while. Honestly but it’s been 10 years and they’re still pulling the same kindergarten shit they did in second grade. Everyday it’s the same thing, the snarky looks, the barely veiled glances; it doesn’t hurt anymore. Nowadays it just pisses me off but I strangle the sensation. I smother it before I encourage them. It doesn’t bother me much, partly because I’m kind of use to it but mostly because there are 3 people who aren’t laughing or pointing, instead they’re just standing in the crowd, flashing me encouraging smile and bolstering looks.

The sun blazed at its highest and we are all outside one the dirt pitch for PE. PE, I think it means Physical Embarrassment; not Physical Education. It’s all about getting the fat people into these tiny gym clothes then people can laugh at them behind their hands. Its summer, that means that PE is soccer every day. It’s Shirts V. Skins every day, and guess who gets picked for Skins every day. Like some inane prank that they pull every day. We are all seniors at our last year in high school and they have been pulling the same tedious joke as before. They are the epitome of creativity.

We’re here on the dirt pitch, in the way of the roiling sunlight so hot that we can see mirages in the distance. I’m sweating up a storm and the game hasn’t even started yet; already soaked like a hippo in water. Teams have been chosen and I’ve been selected for the Skins Goalie, at least they give me the job that requires less running. They use to make me a defender but they realized as much as they loved the whale running, they also wanted to actually win games so goalie it is. People have started to pay attention now, all anticipating the show. They could advertise it on television and sell freaking tickets the way they go on about it. I allow may mind to wander for a moment, I can imagine it now: “Come see the whale take off his shirt!!Every PE at your local high school!! Book your tickets today!!!” It’s not that I’m shy though, I don’t hesitate to slip the wet rag off my body, exposing the rolls of blubber underneath. My belly jiggles slightly, they cheer a lil louder, with a lil more energy; makes me lose a lil more hope with the human race simultaneously which makes me eat to feel better.  It’s a vicious cycle. You can drown it all out in a number of ways, food just happens to be the easiest; it’s not the most effective and it affects your health but meh. Anyway, back to the match.

Now that the match has begun the attention has shifted from me to the ball.  The THIN guys are all running and yelling, trying to flaunt their skill and speed. I like it this way, the attention is on the ball, how weak or slow the defense is or how the opposition is destroying our team. About halfway through the match, Dixon Ross breaks through our pathetic defenses and blazes a path towards the posts, and me. Dixon Ross is the biggest jock at our school, not as big as me but he’s the captain of the wrestling team and a known lady-killer. His usual wavy black hair is matted against his skull and his shirt is sticking to his chest. I’m the last line of defense standing between Dixon and victory; his boots kicking up a dust storm behind them. The adrenaline makes his ears turn red as he sprints towards me. He stops short and using all the energy he has in those twig legs, launches a fireball directly towards me. He sent it flying straight to my gut; he obviously forgot what my other nickname is. The WALL. He realizes his mistake as I catch the soccer ball in both hands and send it back, over his head and across the pitch. He resembles a ripe tomato as the crowd laughs at his idiocy, I myself can’t help but chuckle at his expression. He hears it and sends his best death glare at me before running back to the action. I know I’m going to regret that later.

The game ends in a tie with 0-0 points, we are all tired and dirty; stinking of sweat and man smell. We march back inside for the part we are all dreading. The showers.

I never understood why they make the boys shower together, are they trying to embarrass us or make us homophobe? What did they think was going to happen in there, that we would all mind our own business or something? The showers are a two room area, one is a smaller locker room and the other is a larger shower area. The shower area is tiled entirely in these tiny white sheets of porcelain and always smells of soap scum, you can tell people have died in there. We enter in single file, willies covered by our wash clothes, luckily the showers are all on opposite sides of the room and alternating with a about a meters space in between them; so no one has any right to look at each other when washing. But sadly, the jocks feel differently than most of us. I won’t go into detail but let’s say the guy beside me isn’t called Lefty is not because he’s left handed. So we all shower in an awkward hush and the jocks make crude jokes about the others and when they are done, we all head back to the lockers to get dressed.  When I return to my locker I realize it’s been broken into. The lock has been broken and half its contents are spilled onto the floor. Dixon Ross. At least they left my underwear and baggy pants. I exaggerate a sigh, the same prank since second grade.

The missing contents aren’t that important, they’ve done this before. What irks me is that all my spare clothes are in my locker, on the other side of the school. There is no helping I’m afraid, I sigh again and jam my iPod earphones in. With my belly sticking out and my music blasting at full volume I exit into the river of students. Immediately people notice me, The Whale, walking down the street without a shirt. Again it’s the show everyone wants it to be, people stare or laugh out loud; hooting and calling out names. Most gasp and laugh and stare while others are a bit more modest in their ridicule, they giggle behind their hands or behind my back as I walk past. I’m a brick wall, I betray no emotion as I trek to my salvation, like Jesus carrying his cross; I’m resolute. That and my music drowns out their spontaneous chatter. I found out early in life that laughter is the best thing in the world, or it can hurt like hell. So you block it out, with food or TV or music. Your put your music on loud and the world just melts away. Maybe that’s why emo’s and Goths like it so much.

The venture there takes longer than usual maybe it’s because of the music, maybe because I’m trying so hard to ignore the world that my brain aches as I walk with my huge gut jiggling whenever I take a step or breathe or have a thought for that matter. When you have been ridiculed enough you start to hear it everywhere. As if you develop some cruel telepathic ability to read people’s minds but the only thing you can hear are all the nasty things they say about you; it’s why we have music, to drown out their thoughts. But I can still hear them, whispering: “Look, then whale lost his shirt” or “what a fat ass” or some other insult. Finally I reach my locker and twist in the combination, wrench the door open and dig through my bag for a spare T-shirt. No doubt people are still staring as I manage to slip the shirt over my head. I still feel half-naked.

Everyone has a special place, not the one on your body!! Yeesh!! I mean a place that makes all the bad things disappear for a while, it doesn’t even need to be a place, maybe it’s a thing too. TV, games, music, another person, even something as ethereal as a smell, all it has to do is take you way, away from your trouble, away from the world. My special place is an actual place, the rooftop segment of my school No one comes here except me because it’s too hot in the summer and it rains a lot in the winter, so it became my own secret hideout. Maybe I should stop reading comic books… they are starting to affect my thinking. Here I am, alone in my special spot but it’s not helping like it usually does, it’s not making the world disappear, the laughing, the pointing, the staring; it’s all like a rusty knife stabbed into my belly and twisting with every laugh or point. I read about gut wounds and how you don’t die immediately from them, you either bleed out or you get an infection and die from that, I can understand why some soldiers pray they die instead of getting an infection, nothing is worse than suffering before you die. If you couldn’t tell, I was lying earlier, it hurts…

I’m in my slump for who knows how long, flicking absentmindedly through the various songs I’ve collected when a Twinkie lands in my lap. Its vanilla and brand new, the wrapper is still shiny and everything. Suddenly the world isn’t so dark after all, I smile and three faces mirror my won, they heal my wounds and remedy the pain. I forgot the most important thing; a special place is NOTHING without someone to share it with. Good music helps too.

Slave to the Words

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By Charlie Brown

It was 2003 when I became a school legend. Not to toot my own horn but I was the only second grader to read a book of 200 pages. My mother took me to the library and the first book I picked out was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, needless to say it kept me busy. From that day I was addicted, by the third grade I was reading from the adult section, Lois McMaster Bujold and Bukowski were my favorites (Bukowski was my second favorite due to his profanity). I would read during class, at break times I could be found under the trees reading, in the bathroom, even after my bedtime; I would lie under my covers, reading with a laser light until my eyes became heavy. That was how life went for me, reading and television and video games. The Feeling was addictive, my mind growing with each syllable; slowly my grasp of reality strengthened as the veil of childhood faded.

By the fourth grade my childhood became a quest to see more, to be more that what I was the moment before. I was so immersed in English that I forgot how to speak my mother tongue.  I spent the day in the lands of Middle Earth and at night I could be found in the dangerous and intricate world of political schemes in Chalion. As a result of I didn’t have much of a social life, then again spending time with a 600 page book tended to put a dent in all aspects of life. But nonetheless I was happy. Until I wasn’t. The sun was at its zenith when it happened, its silent bellowing inferno cooked the earth; as if it were angry at my ignorance. It was in geography class when it happened, I remember because my teacher at the time was Mr. Robain, a tall lanky man who was also by far the rudest man I had ever met, at least that what my mother said; I just thought he was honest. Perhaps it’s because they tell the truth that people call them rude. But I’m getting off topic, it was geography class and Mr Robain left the classroom because of some emergency (I think he went to go smoke). Big mistake.  The silence lasted about 30 seconds before the class flared up in a chaotic buzz, whispers and sniggers spread like an epidemic;  infecting the all too receptive students with a childlike glee.

I confess; I wasn’t immune to it but for some reason this was different. The burn in my belly was for something else, the want that had grown since the day I opened The Philosophers Stone. It grew with every word I read, I couldn’t comprehend it. It expanded, swelled until it consumed my every thought and desire.

Then it hit me, so simple that I almost burst into a fit of laughter. My mother had me keep a diary in my younger years, I should’ve realized sooner. I was happy and scared at the same time, happy due to me finding my purpose but also scared; what if I wasn’t good enough? There was only one way to tell, my hand grasped the pen before I thought about it. I stopped before the ink hit the page; I waited for a moment and let my fear melt away. I waited because I knew that if I wrote that first word my destiny would be sealed. I turned my head, watched my classmates laughing, screaming, pulling and shoving in the chemical insanity of youth. I allowed myself to bathe in its childish anarchy for a moment longer and then I let myself go.

My mind exploded with impossible worlds and improbable heroes and heroines, a veritable tsunami of words and feeling and imagination. I roved among the cosmic deities and all the planets and stars were my domain. For those ten minutes, my hand became the hand of god. Magnanimous vistas and unimaginable worlds were formed from the flick of my wrist and the ink of my pen, like the great creator himself. I didn’t realize that I had become shackled to the words, bound in their siren spell. I took what they offered and like a child, I damned the consequences. The words haven’t let go of me since…

Color the sky in a chaos of purple

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A simply excellent piece about why we blog, the message is clear. Don’t do it for the readers or likes, do it for you!!

Second Lunch

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Thoughts on losing your creativity in the blogosphere.

I wanted my own digital sandbox to be wildly creative in. That’s why I started this site. I wanted to unshackle my imagination and make it rain humor filled content all over the place. But I’ll be honest with you. I also wanted as many people as possible to see the things I was making in my sandbox.

Like, just an absurd amount of people, you know?

Look at my blog

Actually, a better way of phrasing that is to say that I wanted as many people as possible to connect with the things I was making. Because I think all of us that create and share creative work on the internet crave that connection. It’s only human.

And since we’re human, we went ahead and conveniently found a way to quantify those connections in a manner that is both addictively gratifying and soul crushingly deflating…

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The Million Strands

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DNA

The billions of strands that hold together every living thing in our existence. How we look, talk, eat, behave and interpret everything in our world is thanks to the billions upon billions of tiny threads. traits since the birth of my family, passed through eons to come to fruition. I never truly thought about this when i was young, none of us did. when we looked in the mirror all we would see was us, the child of our parents but now I see my mothers nose and my grandfathers smile. At first it made me sad, it was as if I was only a copy, an amalgamation of my family but now I am proud of it. Though the physical is only half the story, I am unfortunate to have inherited my mothers fear of confrontation but ironically her fiery temper as well. I was granted my fathers understanding but all his nonchalance when it comes to things I do not deem important to me. Fate has dealt me a cruel hand, a fiery temper that cannot be backed up and a caring personality that becomes apathetic in a moments notice. My personality is a bit of a social juxtaposition; I try avoid confrontation, thus people tend to walk all over me but I become angry when they do. Passive aggressive would be an apt description. When it becomes unbearable I just think to the millions of strands and how we are all intertwined by them, connected at a base level but infinitely divided by it as well.The kaleidoscopic strands that hold my family together, that separate us, an eternal link to who we are and who we will be. The billions of people and their billions of strands, all separated and all connected.

#DPchallenge