Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Schisms

"God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it" - The Bible (1 Corinthians 10:13)

 "What if God doesn't care?" - Slipknot - "Gematria (The Killing Name)

I have been thinking a lot about perception in the last twenty-four hours, or so. The tenor and feel of the entire world can turn on a dime, just by arriving at a new conclusion. You may live in the same place, be surrounded by the same challenges and struggles, and even be standing in exactly the same spot. It's suddenly everything around you that's different. Case in point . . .

The last two weeks have been hell. Pure, unadulterated hell. There are ups and downs to the situation I find myself in, and I was prepared for that . . . but this was like Jon "Bones" Jones hitting me with a flying knee to the groin. I literally felt like I was underwater and couldn't push my way to the surface. Everything seemed pointless - why try when failure is not only imminent, but the only possibility? This viewpoint infected every single fiber and particle of my life.

I have chosen not to go into the details about some of the issues that I had been dealing with in this time, because while I choose to blog and expound on my personal trials and travails, the other people involved in this situation have made no such promises. I don't want to implicate or excoriate anyone personally on this blog. It's not a revenge depot - it's a place for me to express myself and hopefully find some solace, advice, and laughter from whoever chooses to read it.

In addition to the challenges I've recently endured, my Dad came home from Afghanistan . . . which is unbelievably awesome. However, this left me without a car, which was pretty much the one good thing I had left. The two things that gave me strength and hope - my job and my band rehearsals, suddenly have now become obstacles to overcome. If I can't get there, they can't help me, right?

I hit rock bottom. Nadir. All-time low. The clouds were dark, they were close, and they were never going away.

And then . . . a friend on Facebook sent me a link. It may have saved me.

If you're interested, it was a special by a standup comedian named Christoper Titus. I was familiar with him through his failed Fox sitcom years ago, but I'd never seen his work. This particular special was almost entirely dedicated to his messy and still-progressing divorce. And it was HILARIOUS.

He covered every terrible and fucked up base - the fighting, the effect on the kids, the wrangling in court over money, all the jealousy and resentment and lack of sex and accusations and violence that led up to the divorce. I laughed like I hadn't in weeks, and as the show progressed, it occurred to me that I was laughing about the very same things that had made me feel like I was suffocating.

This was like a revelation shotgun shell to the brain.

All of a sudden, this shitstorm doesn't seem quite so bleak. It seems manageable. For the first time ever, though I have heard it a million times, I actually believe that some day this will get better. Maybe some day I can laugh about it all. I may not live with my kids anymore, but I will still be important to them, I will do the best job I can, and they will be better for having known me.

I am aware that I am going through a period of despair and affirmation, but I think there's a narrative here. I think it's not just a vicious circle. I actually think I'm starting to heal. I'm getting an immersive crash course in the idea that schisms exist so they may be bridged. We bleed and cry so we can mend and laugh and do the whole crazy fucking thing all over again. It's life, baby.

Thank you Lauren, and thank you Christopher Titus. I owe at least one of you a beer.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Internet Dating - Threat or Menace?

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaack. Miss me? Of course you didn't, but I'm going to bother you all on Facebook and email until you start reading this again. Get used to it.

A lot has gone on in the two months or so since I've posted, and I think the most important is that I've come to terms with the essential nature of what's happening to me right now. My old life is over. I get it.

So, I realized a little while back that I had two choices. I could lay down and die (metaphorically, anyway.  I'm not sure it's medically possible to cease life functions by the power of your mind, or goth clubs and Wrigley Field would be mortuaries now), or I could decide to pick myself up and keep going. The Rocky theme played over the loudspeakers in my head, I heard the words of the great Al Pacino, exhorting me to live and die for that inch -  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdtQrSnEPCM&feature=related-  seriously, watch this. It's the most inspirational speech EVER.), and I hauled myself off the floor, wiped the blood from my face, and screamed to the sky - "THIS IS SPARTA!"

Okay. That didn't happen. Not even a little bit.

What DID happen, however, is that I truly did decide that I couldn't give in to despair and let the weight on my shoulders crush the life out of me. I decided I was going to LIVE, dammit, and that I was going to move on and try to find some happiness in my life that didn't come from sitting behind a drum kit or in a bottle of Ketel One. So, I did what any red-blooded, American male would do.

I joined OKCupid.

Oh yes. I decided that it would be of great benefit for me to maybe meet some new people and enter the dating world again. I also joined Chemistry.com, and I made my profiles with tenderness and care. I was witty, entertaining, and even posted respectable pictures of myself in a black turtleneck. This sort of thing, I was given to understand, conveys maturity and worldliness.

It's been a few weeks now since I began this social experiment, and I am happy to report that I am ready to share my findings with the world. If you happen to be single, I hope you can glean some valuable insight from this. If you are happily married, or in a great relationship . . . . fuck you. Seriously. Hahaha, I kid you guys, but seriously . . . fuck you.

The very first thing I have to say about this whole experience is that it is unsettling, bizarre, and impossibly to quantify with the adjectives I have in my arsenal. Everything I know about meeting women and socializing with them is grounded in the art of face-to-face conversation. I'm a bit of a social butterfly, and I've never had a problem meeting people and getting on with them almost right off the bat. Seeing as how most young adults meet new people in bars or clubs, the element of alcohol also serves to lubricate the situation enough to make it almost effortless.

In the world of internet dating, the genesis of a potential relationship begins when you search for your matches. OKCupid, I must say, actually does a pretty bang-up job of lining you up with people that share your interests and may actually be interested in meeting you. Chemistry.com seems to think that if Person A and Person B both like things like Dining Out or Live Music, you will be perfect for each other. As far as Chemistry goes, I will say two things: First, 99% of the users on that site seem to be overweight Korean women looking for someone to marry them and possibly validate their visas/get them a green card. Secondly, any woman on that site I would actually be interested in seems to hate everything about me personally. The matching system is terrible and not worth the money. So, that's that with Chemistry.

Back to OKCupid, and that actually brings up my next point. I have been browsing profiles for awhile now, and sent out a few messages. I have received exactly one back, and after two or three emails traded back and forth, the woman in question just stopped talking to me. I was a bit taken aback, until I really started paying attention to every aspect of women's profiles. Allow me to break down exactly what virtually every woman on this site seems to want:

"A tall man (6 foot and above, please . . . I like wearing high heels!), who doesn't smoke or drink to excess, with no kids or issues, drama-free, and has a great job and doesn't live with his mother! Please be attractive, interesting, and intelligent. I want a guy that can throw a football eighty yards, and then read Proust to me while giving me an expert pedicure."

Really, ladies? Is THAT all?

What I like about meeting women naturally, in person, is that you sort of have time to get to know someone, and make your flaws seem less egregious and terrible than they are. If you let someone warm up to you, the things that are bad or wrong in your life have a human edge. They almost make you seem more real and interesting, and you can still get someone's phone number even if you aren't some kind of fucking Superman.

OKCupid is like some sort of virtual buffet table, and unless you are the equivalent of a badass caviar hors d'oeuvres, you aren't getting noticed. People read a soulless assessment of yourself that you have written, can read the answers to the questions they ask you, and look at whatever pictures you post. On this scant information does your chances to "meet" live or die.

Most of the women that are attractive or interesting seem to respond to messages "Very Selectively", as per the menu that pops up when you attempt to message them. From the profiles I've read, this seems to be because the male side of OKCupid is littered with Jersey Shore rejects, who post shirtless muscle pics, murder the English language in their profile, and send women messages giving them the measurements of their genitals, their favorite sexual positions, and some variations of "Ur Cute! Also, ur totally sexxxxxxxy. We shud meet up and smush!"

I really wanted to think that in this environment, I could shine. I am fairly intelligent and witty, and I'm wearing a fucking TURTLENECK in my photos, for Christ's sake! I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I wasn't getting more responses . . . .

And then I thought about it some more. I'm 32, I have two kids, I smoke and drink, I play in a band, and I live with my mom.

Face it, I am undateable. Maybe I should be trolling Craigslist for hookers. . . . at this point (Al Pacino speeches aside), I'm not feeling too confident about the internet dating thing. My whole deal revolves around engaging people in conversation. The Digital Age has killed my mojo, baby. So, if you think you know someone that would be good for me, I'll be in the bar with Austin Powers and the rest of the Analog Age rejects, sipping vodka and chatting up the girls.

Monday, January 17, 2011

We are all actors, aren't we?

This is just a short observation. I think after this I may take a life hiatus for awhile, but this I definitely need to get off my chest. Last night, the woman I love told me that she loves me with all her heart, will miss me for the rest of her life, and that she can't continue a relationship any longer. For good. No trying, no second chances, no seeing the kids every day. A confusing, terrible situation, but kind of only half the point.

Today, I watched a movie called Defiance, about four brothers from Belarus who saved over 1200 fellow Jews from annihilation by hiding them deep in the woods, moving them place to place, and using every ounce of ingenuity and bravery to keep them fed, healthy, and relatively warm. The actors who played the main three brothers were Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber, and Jamie Bell, and one of my favorite things about their performance was how easily I could believe that they were indeed related. It was far less a physical resemblance and much more the easy camaraderie, the fierce competition, and the feeling that when all was seemingly lost, they would do anything for each other. Touching, really.

After the film, I watched the requisite interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, and Mr. Bell indeed noted that the brotherly feelings between the three actors sprung up "almost immediately", and that they translated into real friendships after the film was done. . . . which got me thinking, considering what I went through yesterday.

How real are our relationships, really? Love relationships, family relationships, friend relationships, work relationships . . . . what are they based on, and if they are so true and real, how do they die so easily?

There seems to be an arc to most of these kinships and liaisons we cultivate. It almost always starts with an intensity that never lasts. Brothers and sisters rarely hate each other before the age of 12. Lovers never love as brilliantly as they do in the first six months. Children are rarely neglected while they are still defenseless infants, though the minute they can talk it seems okay in most societies for older adults to physically assault them in the name of discipline. It's all about the "newness", the breathtaking beginnings where anything and everything seems possible.

Of course, life intrudes in almost all cases, eventually. How many people do you know that have been together for five years? Ten? Twenty? How many families do you know where there isn't at least one or two that no one seems to care for? Or that openly despise each other and try to make life miserable for the others? How many marriages are you aware of where the lovers in question still have sex frequently, laugh often, and know what is in the secret heart of the other . . . . what makes them unique?

You know the answer as well as I do. Friends lie and undercut each other for the merest of reasons. Family murders each other over money or grievance. Marriages fail because that's pretty much what they almost always do. Except for a very small list, doesn't it all just seem like a giant fucking waste of time?

I have never hurt like I do right now, and for what? I have my two kids, but this will adversely affect them at best, and at worst scar them for life. I have no control over who will eventually be their everyday father-figure, and that scares me to death and offends me to my core. Will that person care about them? Will they care ENOUGH?

I'm not saying I don't have relationships that I treasure. I have a few I even believe are real. . . . but that's the thing about these kinds of situations . . . . they always seem so bright and vibrant, right up until they time they aren't. Right now, I just don't see how to believe in this again. . . . I just don't.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Just a little patience . . . .

I have not died, nor have I renounced the joys of blogging about random observations and the craziness of daily life.

It's just that my daily life has progressed from "crazy" to "full-blown, why in the name of Zeus's Beard is this happening to me, batshit insane". Be sure that there will be more blogging to follow. . . . just not right this second.

Anyone who's hung around, check back next week. I'll be back once I've done the full-tilt Vodka Cleanse. That's a thing, right? If it isn't, I'm going to invent it and then possibly use that as my first blog topic back. Hope all is well with you.


- P

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Men Are From Mars (And other dumb cliches)

Hello again, friends.


As I wind my way through the massive life changes of the past year, and because all the good shows on TV are done for the season, I have had a great deal of occasion lately to consider just how bizarre and ineffectual our relations with each other are. I don't mean on a massive scale, such as our geopolitical sandbox shoving matches, or even some crazed Christmas shoppers resorting to fisticuffs to solve the dilemma of "Two Shoppers, One Prada Handbag". My rumination has been very localized - something we all deal with, almost every day.

I am not sure what I believe in terms of a Higher Power/Imaginary Sky Father/Universal Force That Flows Through Us All, but if I did have the chance to address the Cosmic Architect, I think my first question would be, "If we are supposed to go forth and procreate, so that we may populate the Earth, why did you make us SO FUCKING DIFFERENT, YOU IDIOT?"  Ahem. Sorry. Got a bit carried away there, but you get the general idea.

Clearly, I'm not pulling aside a shroud of secrecy to reveal a vast, hidden conspiracy. This is fodder for about a zillion books, magazine articles, jokes at comedy clubs, watercooler conversations, and court transcripts at double homicide trials. Yes, men and women are different. The tropes are as old and weathered as it gets. From the dawn of time, it's been "All you cavemen do is go out with your buddies, hunt mammoth, and drink fermented corn juice! You also aren't real big on the manscaping, are you? Oh, and I think you are clearly compensating for something with that stupid eight-foot spear", to which our Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal gentleman responds with "All you do is sit around the cave and gather roots and nuts, while I risk my life every day to feed your fat ass! And what does a caveman have to do for someone to invent the fucking blowjob? Also, you could benefit from a brassiere, lady!"

It's only gotten uglier from there, people.

So, in thousands of years of evolution, technological advancement, and psychological printing-press navel gazing, we are now reading articles in Cosmo about "What Your Man Is Thinking Beneath That Silly Emotional Unavailability", written by a woman. Maxim retorts with "How To Bang That Cheerleader You Weren't Attractive Or Rich Enough To Convince Ten Years Ago", written by a man.

What the hell is going on here? Am I the only one who thinks our entire system of discourse is thoroughly and irrevocably fuckwired?

All jokes aside, I guess what I'm asking here is what is it about the opposite sex that makes us hold on, and try to form singular and long-lasting attachments? For every example in the animal kingdom where a couple mates for life, you could name about three hundred more that sneak up on a female, mount them from behind, and then disappear to go hunt a zebra or climb a tree and nap for ten hours.

Think about every single couple you know, or have ever known. How many of them have lasted for more than a handful of years, especially when they don't have children to tie them down? We're one of the few races on the planet that doesn't exactly have to worry about dying out or having our habitat turned into a Super Target Strip Mall. We're the ones forcing every other creature on the planet into ever-shrinking pockets of real estate. We are the obvious victor, so what are we really trying to accomplish? What's the efficiency? What's the gain?

I feel like human relationships are like batting averages in baseball - a player is considered an All-Star if they fail seven times out of ten. I think out of every person I've ever met, I can name perhaps five or six couples that have stayed together for longer than five years and don't semi-secretly wish the other person would spontaneously combust or suddenly decide to join the Peace Corps and teach villagers in Mauritania how to sew jeans for The Gap.

I realize that I see this through cancer-colored glasses right now, but I leave this open to the comments section to hash this out, because I'm sort of clueless right now. Is there value in monogamous, lifelong relationships? Don't most of us just end up disappointing and hurting other people? Is the problem perhaps in the expectations we lay on each other, or is it just mathematically unlikely that we'll meet someone that has enough in common and is tolerant enough of our foibles to put up with us for sixty-five years or so and not skimp too much on the casket when it's over?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jesus Was Cool (So Why Aren't You?)

Hey friends. Long time, no post . . . I know. It's been up and down the last two weeks or so, but I'm in a much better frame of mind today, and ready to get back to blogging for your entertainment. I see there is nine of you now (though I think two of you are actually CJ, but thanks for inflating my numbers!), so feel free to let other people know about this thing.

For your perusal today, I have two wildly disparate topics which I will condense into one giant-size blog post, to make up for my long delay. You're welcome.

The genesis of what I'm going to talk about today comes from a late night Skype chat with the lovely Miss Hyde, currently holding it down in lovely Jew-maica, whom you can find over at http://wagwanjamaica.blogspot.com/. It was her idea to take these elements of our chat and blog about them, so if you are offended - feel free to fill her inbox with spam and hate-filled emails. She loves that kind of thing. (But seriously, don't do that. She'll cut me.)

As we talked yesterday, one of the topics that came up was the inherent differences between men and women. Clearly, this topic could fill up three hundred billion books (and has, seemingly), but what I was focused on specifically was our physical differences. I had to ask a woman just what was appealing about men, in any way, shape or form? We're gross. It's just science.

We bantered back and forth about it for a bit, until I unleashed my secret weapon. Shorts. I now postulate to the rest of you - is there anything LESS attractive in the history of the planet and the people on it than a man wearing any kind of shorts? An example after the jump (this is your chance to bail out now, if you need to. I understand).


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcome to the Suck

"Pass me that lovely little gun
My dear, my darling one
The cleaners are coming, one by one
You don't even want to let them start

They are knocking now upon your door
They measure the room, they know the score
They're mopping up the butcher's floor
Of your broken little hearts"


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - O Children 


"Welcome to the Suck."      Alan Troy - Jarhead


I hate to do it, kids, but I have to break the streak of lighthearted posts. I am in a strange place today. . . I think I'm starting to degrade a bit under the constant low-level stress that comes with every day lately, which occasionally heat-blooms into full scale, nuclear-fuckin' war for an hour or two, only to recede back to the murky cold war that casts such a long, long shadow on me.


To submit my candidate for understatement of the year - divorce is fucking terrible. There's quite literally no quick, easy method of closure, unless you own nothing valuable and have no kids. For the rest of us, it is a drawn-out, bloodless murder of the soul.

A semi-apt metaphor is something I read once about soldiers in combat. Before you pillory me for comparing my marital woes to people getting shot at to defend our country (or other, more nefarious political reasons, but I digress), I only use it as a brush to paint a broad picture, as it were.

I'm paraphrasing here,  but the description was long and drawn out periods of crushing boredom and malaise, filled with menial tasks and directed by authority figures that you are absolutely powerless to disagree with or defy. Underneath this already terrible feeling is a gnawing, insidious fear that comes from knowing what is going to happen next, compounded by not knowing WHEN it's going to happen.

Finally, the first shot rings out and your whole world disintegrates into pure survival mode, with every sense heightened to preternatural levels, everything around you seeming to wish you injury or destruction, and time and context have absolutely no meaning. You keep your head down, move as much as possible, and try to do what you know will get you through this and safely back in your bed.

Almost as fast as it begins, it's over. The universe slows back to its normal, torpid pace. You are thankful that you made it through alive, but that feeling is undercut by the knowledge that it's just going to happen to you again. And again. And AGAIN. You have no idea when it's going to end, you just know it isn't going to be anytime fucking soon.

Now, my actual life is in no danger, and I would never try to detract from what those people actually go through, but it FEELS like that sometimes. I relate to that description.

My kids alternate between smothering me and pushing me away out of confusion, and in the case of my one-year old, sometimes actually recoiling from me in fear, reaching out for my wife desperately. My three-year old asks me why I don't live with Mommy anymore. I spend every day with them wondering if this is going to be the week my wife finally realizes that staying in the Northeast doesn't make much sense for her, and she decides to pack them all off to Texas. I find myself alternating between smothering them in return, trying to drink in every single cute little word or act, and sliding wildly back into a weird apathy - letting them run rampant around the apartment while I sit and stare at the TV or the internet, refreshing Facebook over and over hoping for some adult contact (not THAT kind of adult contact, get your head out of the gutter).

Meanwhile, my erstwhile wife does her own vacillation, either attempting to seduce me with the physical contact I miss so badly, or venting her sorrow and rage all over me  . . . telling me through a haze of tears over and over how this is all my fault and wondering how I could do this to her, sometimes both in the same day. She claims with one breath that she still loves me and she swore before God to work it out one way or the other, and in the next tells me that she only accepted my marriage request because she was pregnant, and was afraid I would have run out on them if she said no.

In the middle of this, I have no job or means of supporting myself or the children, because I agreed to stay home and take care of them. With the job she had, it made more sense at the time. Now I live in my car, seemingly, driving to the city to watch the kids and driving home to crash on my mom's couch in the country. I get up before the sun and don't get home until well after it has set. I hardly see friends or get the chance to do normal, adult things. I just don't have the means.

After two months of this, yeah . . . .I kind of feel like some grizzled veteran, watching the new kids come in with wide-eyes and completely unaware of what they're in for, and all I can tell them is, "Hey kid, welcome to the Suck."

Sorry if this wasn't what you came here to read, but I had to get this out and this is the only place I have to do it. I'll dispense with the emo crap, and hopefully feel much more inclined to talk about that one time I funneled Jagermeister and tried to fistfight a pine tree. Until next time, Disciples.