Musings Of A Kamikaze Wordsmith From Hell
Indecision

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to quitting my pursuit of all things film-related.  This thought has occupied my mind for quite some time now; this isn’t something that just suddenly hit me.  I would say the thought has been there for at least two years now, maybe more than that.  Before, this thought was bred from the realization that long hours on a film set can be exhausting mentally, emotionally, and physically, and are especially difficult for someone who deals with a chronic condition on top of that — for the record, I have Crohn’s disease.  

Twelve hour shoots are hell for a guy like me, because at some point my body will turn on me, and to be quite honest one bad bathroom trip is enough to wipe me out completely.  I also hate having to use the restroom anywhere other than in private at my own home.  A lot of times, I just can’t bring myself to go unless it’s a total emergency.  It doesn’t happen to me very often, but when it does it’s pretty rough for me on several levels…but I feel like I’m getting off-track.

There’s a lot I love about filmmaking:  writing a screenplay, turning it into a shooting script, assembling the film crew, pooling and finding equipment and resources, casting the characters, securing locations, rehearsing and interacting with the actors, filming the scenes, having someone else much more skilled then myself piece together the footage and sweeten the audio into a finished product, and then showing off said finished product to whoever wants to see it.

There’s a lot I hate about filmmaking, too:  having to overcome writer’s block, redrafting and cutting a script down, having to forge a schedule from desperate schedule coordination between crew and talent, having a crew member or talent tell me “I have to leave at __:__ AM/PM because ______ came up” or “Hey, I won’t be able to be there until __:__ AM/PM because ______ happened to me,” trying to achieve as much on-set filming perfection as possible while adhering to a strict shooting schedule that will no doubt go over time no matter how frantic a pace I might attempt to keep, waiting with nervously baited breath and prayers that my editor can make something awesome from the footage we managed to capture, and the nervousness that always hits right as you commence to share your work with an audience — it truly is like standing in front of the world completely naked awaiting judgment.

No matter how well a project may go, I no doubt wind up inevitably worn out and wanting nothing more than to go into seclusion, which I typically do.  I can’t help but be as hands-on as I possibly can be; I write, I direct, and if need be I act.  It’s just the way I am.  Why wait around for a screenplay when I can write one myself?  Why have someone else direct what I wrote when all they’re going to do is pique my brain to determine what I was picturing when I wrote a scene?  If I can’t find someone to play a role or have an actor drop out of a role, and I feel like I can play the part myself, why the hell not?  I don’t directly hate or dislike these things; on the contrary, I love them very much.  However, they take a lot of energy to do if you wish to do them at a quality level, and for a long time I’ve been searching within myself to determine if I have the energy and desire to keep on doing this, whether it be as a serious career or even just as a hobby for fun.

I definitely felt myself start to drift away from film when Amanda and I got reacquainted, and eventually fell in love with one another.  Her reintroduction into my life, the larger role she took within it, brought my personal life a level of joy it never had before, and all I wanted to do was spend my time with her.  Everything else became secondary; Amanda was my main priority and goal, and most everything else, admittedly, obligations to get through just to get back to her.  I’m proud to say it’s still that way now over a year and a half into our relationship, and on a much stronger level at that.

So much has changed in my life through 2013 into 2014, and all because she and I found out we were having a baby boy.  Ryder Scott Hayes is due to arrive May 3rd, although he could arrive earlier or later than that, and we are super excited about that.  With the help of my friend Noah, I got on with a well-known bank as a student loan collector (I’m not revealing the name here because they have rules about social network discussions about them, etc…although I have them prominently listed via my Facebook, but I go out of my way not to talk about them much on there).  It’s been great working there for them.  The pay is good, and they offer good health benefits, and in today’s economy good jobs are very hard to come by.  I’m very fortunate they hired me, especially since my background was not a finance or collections background whatsoever.  Honestly, it does kind of suck I’m not putting any of the skills and expertise I acquired in college to use right now, but I’m in no position to go through an unpaid internship, nor would I really want to at this point in time.  I swear, I go back and forth with myself over whether NKU’s Electronic Media and Broadcasting left me with any practical skills or knowledge I didn’t already have myself, aside from learning how to screenwrite, do basic video editing, and set up lights without blowing up light bulbs…but that is a rant for another post.

My life circumstances have drastically changed, and I’m in no way, shape, or form the same person who started into college hoping to do something in the film industry.  I still have lingering hopes of maybe getting into print or broadcast news, either as a writer or preferably as an on-screen reporter or anchor, but in all honesty now that I’m out of college I don’t quite know how to get my foot in the door.  

All I really know is that film isn’t a sure thing at all, and being an expectant father I’m no longer in a position to pursue risky bets or traverse uncertain avenues.  Fatherhood, at least from my perspective, closes — or should close — a lot of those doors.  Has that been difficult for me to come to terms with?  As a 24-year-old male, yes, it has been, but if I have any hope of doing this fatherhood thing right, I need to make sure I’m spending all of my time wisely and only pursuing opportunities where the pay-off is beneficial and certain.

It’s funny how life seems to work, however.  There is one major thing keeping me from completely writing off film, and that is Ryder.  My son, whose arrival is drawing close, is the element in the equation that causes my hesitation to give it up.  I see an elementary-age Ryder at his school’s career day, and his inquisitive face along with all the other little faces staring at me as they wait for me to explain what it is I do for a living.  I just don’t see them, or him for that matter, being all that excited or thrilled about a guy who works at a financial institution’s call center, who is tasked with calling people who owe on student loans and trying to collect money.  I just don’t see my current job giving Ryder that much capacity to cultivate pride in what it is his father does.  Don’t get me wrong, the job is great for me right now and I don’t have any complaints about it, but even the writer within me can’t make that job sound as exciting as filmmaking, or working in news…or just being a writer in general.

So, I guess there still is a restlessness in me regarding my current occupation and position in life.  I’m trying to view where I am now as a means to another end; where that may wind up being, I don’t really know as of yet, but I’m hoping I can eventually transition into a job that makes more of a difference, that caters much more to my skill-sets and strengths, a job where the pay and benefits match up to the expectations in my dreams, the kind of job a dad can have that a son can be proud of.

Manifesting My Mind Palace

Damn, it’s been way too long since my last visit and entry here.  So much has happened, and so much has changed…which usually happens when I don’t come around here in a long while…and THAT happens much more than I’d like.  

The beginning of 2014 finds me in an extremely transitional period, much more so than any other point in my life.  I’m done with college, for one thing.  I’m under pressure to land a solid job that will allow me to start building a life with the love of my life, Amanda.  I’m staring out at a somewhat uncertain horizon ahead of me in 2014, a year that will likely shape up to be one of the most challenging of my life to date.  I’m observing and taking note of a lot of things:  others close to me whose lives are also in chaotic and anxious flux, the exiting and entering of players within my own life that come with such a transitional time, decisions large and small to be made, the re-examination of some of my own personal beliefs and feelings in the face of adversity, and the slow-sinking realization that elements of my existence I once thought permanent actually aren’t.

I’m identifying and attempting to formulate plans to deal with potential obstacles that stand in the way of my goals, be they people, societal matters, or myself and my own perceived limitations.  I’ve really been working hard to embrace and adapt to moments that steer me in a direction I didn’t intend to go in, and overall just devoting energy to learning how to stay out of my own way as much as possible in the scheme of things.

There’s so much to explore, so much for me to sort out.  Mind you, my mind has already been hard at work examining and sifting through all of this as it voraciously and randomly does, but with the way I tend to process and over-process information there comes a point where I no longer see the trees for the leaves…it seriously gets that bad at times.  Luckily, I’ve always had written language to help me diagram things, so as to widen my perception once more.  Writing has always been my salvation when the world gets too much for my mind to handle.  By most accounts, I’m an articulate thinker and speaker, but in my personal opinion my clarity in writing will always reign superior over my spoken words, and my thoughts are only their very sharpest when incised into a page as tangible words.

The mind is the mine; the page, the forge; the words, the metal.

Things will no doubt get very busy for me this year, but I get the feeling that this place will become a valuable refuge and tool for me in a way it hasn’t before, a tangible “mind palace” I can retreat to in order to make sense of all the developments my mind sponges up.  It will be interesting to see what wrings out each time I come here.  

In a lot of ways, I’ll be discovering things right alongside whoever happens to read this…if anyone, obviously…though that does present a rather interesting conundrum of sorts for me.  I can’t keep a personal journal to save my life, and I think it’s due to the fact that personal journals aren’t expressly intended to see an audience; I can’t write without a perceived audience and a hope it might somehow be seen.  But if this blog did get a huge viewership someday, and I started to get substantial feedback as a result…I’m not so sure how I would react to that.  

Many favor private journals because they can be completely honest without any fear (of course, given the assumption that the writer can be completely honest with him/herself), but public writing like this forces my objectivity in a lot of ways.  It forces me to consider how I might be perceived (the threat of feedback!), and, especially in navigating complicated issues with multiple viewpoints, it further impels me to step outside of my own self and viewpoint in order to more thoroughly understand said issues.  It keeps me from barricading myself within myself on matters.  It forces me to look both inside and outside.  For me, at least, it promotes clarity; I could bullshit myself, and I suppose I could try to bullshit others, but the more eyes there are on something, the less likely bullshit is to fly.  In a roundabout way, this overall approach is a bullshit deterrent…at least, in my own theory, anyway.

I feel like I’ve laid out a great new purpose for increased utilization of my blog.  Now comes the part of ACTUALLY PUTTING IT TO USE.  I guess we’ll see how that goes!  O_o

An Illustration Of My Thought-Progression…

Submission guidelines:  4,500 word maximum

My word count:  4,600 exactly…

o_o

O_O !!!

www.dictionary.com

Definition of guidelines (noun):  

1.  any guide or indication of a future course of action: guidelines on the government’s future policy.

2.  a lightly marked line used as a guide, as in composing a drawing, a typed page, or a line of lettering.

3.  a rope or cord that serves to guide one’s steps, especially over rocky terrain, through underground passages, etc.

4.  a rope or wire used in guiding the movement of stage scenery or curtains being raised or lowered.

o_O

Definition of guide:

*verb

1.  to assist (a person) to travel through, or reach a destination in, an unfamiliar area, as by accompanying or giving directions to the person: He guided us through the forest.

2.  to accompany (a sightseer) to show points of interest and to explain their meaning or significance.

3.  to force (a person, object, or animal) to move in a certain path.

4.  to supply (a person) with advice or counsel, as in practical or spiritual affairs.

5.  to supervise (someone’s actions or affairs) in an advisory capacity.

*noun

6.  a person who guides, especially one hired to guide travelers, tourists, hunters, etc.

7.  a mark, tab, or the like, to catch the eye and thus provide quick reference.

8.  a guidebook.

9.  a book, pamphlet, etc., giving information, instructions, or advice; handbook: an investment guide.

10.  a guidepost.

O_o HMMMMMMM…

**ACCESSING PERSONAL MEMORY**

PASSWORD:  BlackHat

**LOGIN FAILED — THREE ATTEMPTS REMAINING BEFORE SYSTEM WIPE**

O-O

PASSWORD:  KamikazeWordsmithFromHell

**LOGIN FAILED — TWO ATTEMPTS LEFT BEFORE SYSTEM WIPE**

O-o

PASSWORD:  RyanRules

**LOGIN FAILED — ONE ATTEMPT REMAINING BEFORE SYSTEM WIPE**

O-O !!!

**Password Hint — "You remember the first rule of our relationship, don’t you?  ;)  <3"

O-O’

$#!%!!!!!!!!!!!!!


PASSWORD:  AmandaIsAlwaysRight

**LOGIN SUCCESSFUL — MEMORY INITIALIZING…**

**WELCOME, RYAN!!!**

o_o

SEARCH:  common connotations of “guide”

**SEARCHING…this may take several hours due to HOW VAST, HUGE, AND FULL OF KNOWLEDGE YOUR BRAIN IS, although it is so powerful you could instantly pinpoint answers to sought-after information in anyone else’s mind…it’s not taking forever because you are slow or stupid or anything like some might have you believe…I mean, sure, Amanda is always right, but she must be JOKING about you having a large cranium of hot air…simply untrue!!!**

:D

**AN UPDATE IS AVAILABLE FOR YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR — WOULD YOU LIKE TO DOWNLOAD IT NOW?**

o_O

Ask again later…

**SEARCH COMPLETE**

O_O

Common connotation associated with guide = direction with implied leeway (def.  extra time, space, materials, or the like, within which to operate in)…

Suggested topic(s) for further research:  definition of “rules,” guidelines vs. rules

o_O

Dictionary.com

Definition of rules (noun):

1.  a principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, etc.: the rules of chess.

2.  the code of regulations observed by a religious order or congregation: the Franciscan rule.

3.  the customary or normal circumstance, occurrence, manner, practice, quality, etc.: the rule rather than the exception.

4.  control, government, or dominion: under the rule of a dictator.

5.  tenure or conduct of reign or office: during the rule of George III.

O_O

Definition of regulation (noun):

noun

1.  a law, rule, or other order prescribed by authority, especially to regulate conduct.

2.  the act of regulating or the state of being regulated.

3.  Machinery . the percentage difference in some quantity related to the operation of an apparatus or machine, as the voltage output of a transformer or the speed of a motor, between the value of the quantity at no-load operation and its value at full-load operation.

4.  Electronics. the difference between maximum and minimum voltage drops between the anode and the cathode of a gas tube for a specified range of values of the anode current.

5.  Sports. the normal, prescribed duration of a game according to the sport’s regulations, exclusive of any extra innings, overtime period, etc.: The Knicks tied the score in the final seconds of regulation, sending the game into overtime.

 

o_O  ???

 

Definition of law (noun):

1.  the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision.

2.  any written or positive rule or collection of rules prescribed under the authority of the state or nation, as by the people in its constitution. Compare bylaw, statute law.

3.  the controlling influence of such rules; the condition of society brought about by their observance: maintaining law and order.

4.  a system or collection of such rules.

5.  the department of knowledge concerned with these rules; jurisprudence: to study law.

 

O_o ???!!!

 

Definition of principles (noun):

1.  an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct: a person of good moral principles.

2.  a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived: the principles of modern physics.

3.  a fundamental doctrine or tenet; a distinctive ruling opinion: the principles of the Stoics.

4.  principles, a personal or specific basis of conduct or management: to adhere to one’s principles; a kindergarten run on modern principles.

5.  guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct: a person of principle.

6.  an adopted rule or method for application in action: a working principle for general use.

7.  a rule or law exemplified in natural phenomena, the construction or operation of a machine, the working of a system, or the like: the principle of capillary attraction.

8.  the method of formation, operation, or procedure exhibited in a given case: a community organized on the patriarchal principle.

9.  a determining characteristic of something; essential quality.

10.  an originating or actuating agency or force: growth is the principle of life.

11.  an actuating agency in the mind or character, as an instinct, faculty, or natural tendency: the principles of human behavior.

12.  Chemistry . a constituent of a substance, especially one giving to it some distinctive quality or effect.

13.  Obsolete . beginning or commencement.

 

O-O’  ?????!!!!!$#!%!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Definition of truth (noun):

1.  the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.

2.  conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.

3.  a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.

4.  the state or character of being true.

5.  actuality or actual existence.

6.  an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.

7.  honesty; integrity; truthfulness.

8.  ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.

9.  agreement with a standard or original.

10.  accuracy, as of position or adjustment.

11.  Archaic. fidelity or constancy.

 

Definition of doctrine (noun):

1.  a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government: Catholic doctrines; the Monroe Doctrine.

2.  something that is taught; teachings collectively: religious doctrine.

3.  a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject: the doctrine of the Catholic Church.


Definition of tenet (noun):

any opinion, principle, doctrine, dogma, etc., especially one held as true by members of a profession, group, or movement.

Definition of dogma (noun):

1.  an official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church.

2.  a specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church: the dogma of the Assumption; the recently defined dogma of papal infallibility.

3.  prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true by a particular group: the difficulty of resisting political dogma.

4.  a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle: the classic dogma of objectivity in scientific observation.

Definition of true:

*adjective

1.  being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact; not false: a true story.

2.  real; genuine; authentic: true gold; true feelings.

3.  sincere; not deceitful: a true interest in someone’s welfare.

4.  firm in allegiance; loyal; faithful; steadfast: a true friend.

5.  being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of something: the true meaning of his statement.

 

*noun

6.  conforming to or consistent with a standard, pattern, or the like: a true copy.

7.  exact; precise; accurate; correct: a true balance.

8.  of the right kind; such as it should be; proper: to arrange things in their true order.

9.  properly so called; rightly answering to a description: true statesmanship.

10.  legitimate or rightful: the true heir.

11.  reliable, unfailing, or sure: a true sign.

12.  exactly or accurately shaped, formed, fitted, or placed, as a surface, instrument, or part of a mechanism.

13.  honest; honorable; upright.

14.  Biology . conforming to the type, norm, or standard of structure of a particular group; typical: The lion is a true cat.

15.  Animal Husbandry , purebred.

16.  Navigation . (of a bearing, course, etc.) determined in relation to true north.

17.  Archaic. truthful.

 

Definition of fact (noun):

1.  something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.

2.  something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.

3.  a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.

4.  something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.

5.  Law. . Often, facts. an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect or consequence. Compare question of fact, question of law.

 

Definition of reality (noun):

1.  the state or quality of being real.

2.  resemblance to what is real.

3.  a real thing or fact.

4.  real things, facts, or events taken as a whole; state of affairs: the reality of the business world; vacationing to escape reality.

5.  Philosophy .

a.  something that exists independently of ideas concerning it.

b.  something that exists independently of all other things and from which all other things derive.

6.  something that is real.

7.  something that constitutes a real or actual thing, as distinguished from something that is merely apparent.

 

Definition of real:

*adjective

1.  true; not merely ostensible, nominal, or apparent: the real reason for an act.

2.  existing or occurring as fact; actual rather than imaginary, ideal, or fictitious: a story taken from real life.

3.  being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary: The events you will see in the film are real and not just made up.

4.  being actually such; not merely so-called: a real victory.

5.  genuine; not counterfeit, artificial, or imitation; authentic: a real antique; a real diamond; real silk.

6.  unfeigned or sincere: real sympathy; a real friend.

7.  Informal. absolute; complete; utter: She’s a real brain.

8.  Philosophy .

a.  existent or pertaining to the existent as opposed to the nonexistent.

b.  actual as opposed to possible or potential.

c.  independent of experience as opposed to phenomenal or apparent.

9.  (of money, income, or the like) measured in purchasing power rather than in nominal value: Inflation has driven income down in real terms, though nominal income appears to be higher.

10.  Optics. (of an image) formed by the actual convergence of rays, as the image produced in a camera (opposed to virtual ).

11.  Mathematics .

a.  of, pertaining to, or having the value of a real number.

b.  using real numbers: real analysis; real vector space.

 

*adverb

12.  Informal. very or extremely: You did a real nice job painting the house.

*noun

13.  real number.

14.  the real.

a.  something that actually exists, as a particular quantity.

b.  reality in general.

 

Definition of something:

*pronoun

1.  some thing; a certain undetermined or unspecified thing: Something is wrong there. Something’s happening.

2.  an additional amount, as of cents or minutes, that is unknown, unspecified, or forgotten: He charged me ten something for the hat. Our train gets in at two something.


*noun

3.  Informal. a person or thing of some value or consequence: He is really something! This writer has something to say and he says it well.


*adverb

4.  in some degree; to some extent; somewhat.

5.  Informal. to a high or extreme degree; quite: He took on something fierce about my tardiness.


Definition of thing (noun):

1.  a material object without life or consciousness; an inanimate object.

2.  some entity, object, or creature that is not or cannot be specifically designated or precisely described: The stick had a brass thing on it.

3.  anything that is or may become an object of thought: things of the spirit.

4.  things, matters; affairs: Things are going well now.

5.  a fact, circumstance, or state of affairs: It is a curious thing.

6.  an action, deed, event, or performance: to do great things; His death was a horrible thing.

7.  a particular, respect, or detail: perfect in all things.

8.  aim; objective: The thing is to reach this line with the ball.

9.  an article of clothing: I don’t have a thing to wear.

10.  things.

a.  implements, utensils, or other articles for service: I’ll wash the breakfast things.

b.  personal possessions or belongings: Pack your things and go!

11.  a task; chore: I’ve got a lot of things to do today.

12.  a living being or creature: His baby’s a cute little thing.

13.  a thought or statement: I have just one thing to say to you.

14.  Informal. a peculiar attitude or feeling, either positive or negative, toward something; mental quirk: She has a thing about cats.

15.  something signified or represented, as distinguished from a word, symbol, or idea representing it.

16.  Law. anything that may be the subject of a property right.

17.  new thing, Jazz. free jazz.

18.  the thing.

a.  something that is correct or fashionable: That café is the thing now.

b.  that which is expedient or necessary: The thing to do is to tell them the truth.


@_@

 

www.thesaurus.com

 

Synonyms for guidelines:

clue, code, ground rule, guidance, guide, instruction, key, mark, marker, precept, protocol, rule, signal, standard procedure

o_o

Synonyms for rules:

aphorism, apothegm, assize, axiom, basis, brocard, canon, chapter and verse, command, commandment, criterion, decorum, decree, decretion, dictum, direction, edict, etiquette, formula, fundamental, gnome, guide, guideline, keynote, keystone, law, maxim, model, moral, no-no’s, order, ordinance, precedent, precept, prescription, propriety, regimen, regulation, ruling, statute, tenet, test, the book, the numbers, truism

:D  :D  :D !!!!!!!!!!

CONCLUSION:  guidelines vs. rules…just simple semantics, with the only difference being perceived connotations cultivated over time.

*cursor over SUBMIT button…

**INITIALIZING FEAR RESPONSE**

O-O’  WAIT!!!  $#!%!!!  &^*#^#&@$&*#%^*((&$^&)$^*$&@&@&@$#$*%^#%#(%((!!!

**PRIMARY CONCERN DIRECTIVE — WHAT IF THEY TURN DOWN MY SUBMISSION FOR WORD COUNT VIOLATION DUE TO LACK OF PERSONAL ENLIGHTENMENT CONCERNING THE ARRIVED-UPON CONCLUSION?**

**INITIALIZING DEFEAT PROTOCOL — STRESS LEVEL ELEVATING…**

**MALICIOUS SOFTWARE DETECTED — PROCRASTINATION — ATTEMPTING FORCE QUIT…**

**FORCE QUIT FAILED — WORK ETHIC PROTOCOL COMPROMISED**

*head hits desk…

theonion:


Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump, Idi Amin, Joseph Stalin Celebrate Miami Heat Victory | Full Story 

theonion:

Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump, Idi Amin, Joseph Stalin Celebrate Miami Heat Victory | Full Story 

Note to self:  REVIVE BLOG&#8230;AGAIN.

Note to self:  REVIVE BLOG…AGAIN.

Time hangs around more every day, while I keep searching for a place that old thoughts might stay, and not just end up right back in my heart’s way.
Dwight Yoakam, Just Passing Time
An Older Musing On My Hopes For The Afterlife

The following is another morsel from my inactive blog on Blogger.com.  This post deals with my reflections on the afterlife, and my hopes for how it all works after death.  Also exhibited within this post is the methodology/thought process I employ when helping someone through a tough time, as well as reflections on two fears held by people that I feel are the root causes of most of the world’s struggles:  fear of the unknown and fear of being wrong.  I hope you enjoy this musing…  :)

The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote over the weekend to the wife of a former teacher of mine, who sadly passed away last week at the tender age of 30 due to a heart issue. He’d had issues with it when he was 15, but had been symptom-free up until the night he died. I wrote this letter in an attempt to comfort her, to put down everything I wanted to say to her so she could process it at her own pace and desire, rather than try to dump it all on her at once in one meeting at his casket:

 “Please don’t let this shake your faith. I don’t know if it will, but I feel I should cover this point anyway. I can’t speak to how you believe, or exactly what, but keep hold of it. I don’t know if there’s a rhyme or reason for what happens, but history seems to indicate the truly great, talented, and good depart this world too soon. Mr. Gifford meets that criteria in my eyes. It’s sort of a funny idea to take stock in, that the better person you are the shorter your life is, but I can kind of believe it. It takes extra effort to be the best you can be, so it might possibly wear a person out…yet Mr. Gifford seemed to shine effortlessly, so perhaps that isn’t so true after all. Perhaps God needed him more? That could very well be the case, but I don’t think that definitively negates your needing him, your son needing him, or everyone else needing him. Makes God seem a bit cruel, but God could simply have a plan too great for us to understand. There are so many ways of framing the “why” in this, so please choose what your heart and soul and intuition feel is best. I’ve seen and heard of faithful people being shaken by moments like this because of the greater uncertainty that exists about what happens after death. It stems from an innate fear of the unknown; we can’t definitively say what the afterlife is going to be like, or whether there is one. Different religions and schools of thought exist with interpretations of how it might be, and argue, fight, and kill those that think and feel differently out of an innate fear of being wrong. You have nonbelievers clinging to science, the pious denouncing theories like evolution, skeptics wanting visual facts to build a theory, and the devout twisting and selectively believing facts to suit their beliefs. It’s chaotic and confusing, plus these factions wind up causing just as much bad as good. Call me off-kilter or non-traditional, but to me, no matter what or how you believe, it seems too farfetched to believe there isn’t a creator or some sort of afterlife. Why can’t we say that God is a scientist and just follow the religion we wish so that we become the best people we can? Why fear being wrong? Why kill one another or tell someone they are wrong? Just be the best you can, encourage others to do the same, and wait to see for yourself how it is? I’ve met many people of varying faiths/beliefs, studied many religions and philosophies, yet I still consider myself a believer in nearly the same sense as when I started, and somehow magically find it within myself to appreciate and be fascinated by beliefs different than my own, rather than shun them. This existence is too damn interesting for there to be nothing after death; I stand convinced there’s something at work outside of the tapestry of stars. I believe we’ll see the departed once again if we adhere to our respective moral compasses. Sorry if I come across as preachy; just keep believing how you want. Also, for the record, I’m a Christian with an appreciation for Asian/Native American religions and a “What Dreams May Come” view of the afterlife. If you’re confused by the last bit, find that movie and you’ll understand.”

I believe that this is the best job I’ve ever done at really laying myself open for my own eyes to see, which I feel was drastically needed in order to really try to connect with her in the fallout of such a tragic loss. It’s one thing to mentally know who it is you think you are, and to have all of these thoughts swirling around in your mind, but it’s much more satisfying for me to be able to pull this sort of thread from the loom of my mind and sew it into paper. It’s the closest thing I think we can get to actually turning the abstract into something tangible, although interpreted it is still of an abstract nature…perhaps less so. o-O

When it comes to whether I take any stock in dualism, I think I’m fairly safe in saying that I can. Based on the above passage I shared with you of my own writing, it’s quite obvious I hold a belief in a higher power, in a creator, and as such I most likely have to believe there is something more to us than just our physical forms, our bodies, which I do. However, it is also quite obvious that the beliefs I hold are quite unconventional and nontraditional in comparison to most “organized” religious beliefs. Right from the start, I state that I am Christian, which immediately tells you I hold belief in a singular “God” and believe in the existence of a “Heaven” and “Hell.” However, my views on these planes of afterlife existence are hardly traditional. I mentioned I hold a “What Dreams May Come” view of the afterlife, and that if you watched that movie, you’d largely take away my current beliefs on the subject. To sum it up here to give you an idea, I believe in a “Heaven of the mind/one’s own creation,” be it a conscious creation, unconscious creation, or both.

In the movie, when Robin Williams’ character, Chris Nielsen, passes away, he initially sees Heaven as being depicted in acrylic paint, which symbolized his strong connection to his artist wife and her own paintings. As he became more comfortable and more accepting of his newfound plane of existence, the world around him slowly became “real” in the sense that his surroundings became actual leaves, grass, and vegetation. The more comfortable he became with his surroundings, the more control he had over it. His tailor-made Heaven was just but one part of the large scheme of Heaven, as it is mentioned that Heaven is a place big enough for everyone to have their own personal space, but that travel between them was possible, as Chris found out when he happened upon his deceased daughter, Marie, who led him into her own Heaven based on a diorama she adored in her room.

On the flipside, “Hell,” as depicted in the movie, is a plane of existence people wind up going to where they don’t know they’re dead. People go there for the standard reasons, such as committing murder, etc, but one of the most telling things about Hell is that it winds up being the home of suicides, which reveals the true nature of the construct of Hell. Not necessarily fire and brimstone, Hell is a direct contrast to Heaven in that Hell is essentially “your life gone wrong.” “Good people wind up in Hell because they can’t forgive themselves,” a conclusion Chris Nielsen comes to toward the end of the movie, best sums up the nature of Hell. Where Heaven in this case could be described as a sort of “fantasy world” created by a deceased person, Hell is the “anti-fantasy world” of a person trapped within their own pain. Chris’ wife, Annie, unable to cope with the loss of her children and husband, decides to take her own life and winds up in a twisted version of her home, run-down, destroyed, all of her art and favorite books gone, located in the bowels of Hell which is strangely depicted as the church she was married in, upside down. Suicides are essentially punished because the taking of their own life constitutes a violation of a “natural order of life,” which isn’t really touched upon in great detail in the movie, but can be interpreted to mean choosing to end one’s own life before it’s actually time. In the movie, this punishment is implied to last for all eternity, but in the actual book (which I’ve yet to locate and read, which has many difference to the film) the penalty for suicide is 20-25 years in Hell before resurrection to essentially “try again.”

Although Chris is told time and again that no one in the afterlife has seen a suicide brought back from Hell, he is able to rescue Annie at the very brink of losing himself because they were true and legitimate soulmates. Chris is able to finally make her realize who he is and where she’s at by choosing to forsake Heaven and join her in her misery, which nearly robs him of his Heavenly existence because he’s accepted her warped reality as his, and therefore has begun to lose his mind. Going back to the topic of resurrection, the option is available even for those already in Heaven, who wish to experience life again. At the end of the movie, Chris and his wife, Annie, who died rather young in their prior lives, opt to be reborn so that they might meet again and experience the one thing they didn’t get the chance to in their last existence: growing old together.

That’s quite a lot to take in, so I don’t know if I’ll spend so much time elaborating on the other facets of my personal beliefs, other than to say I found things to like in certain Asian and Native American religions. I find myself especially fascinated by Taoism and the Tao te Ching, as well as Buddhism and the teachings of the Dalai Lama. As I alluded to in the passage, I find reasons to be fascinated by the many different beliefs and faiths I come across in spite of my own such thoughts, something I think a great many people seem unable to do because they cling so tightly to the things they hold value in. There is nothing inherently wrong in holding tight to what you believe, so perhaps the issue at hand lies in the fears I touched on: the fears of the unknown and being wrong. The fear of the unknown is a tough fear to shake, and I can’t definitively tell you whether I feel I’ve conquered this one or not, but when it comes to the afterlife I always equate it to starting a new year at college or school, or perhaps moving elsewhere for work…you know, that anxiety you get because you really don’t know what to expect. When I look at the afterlife in this sense, I’m able to alleviate a lot of that fear, treating it simply as another plane of existence I simply don’t know about. When it comes to the fear of being wrong, now…perhaps that is the harder fear to break, especially for those who believe their particular faith is the one true “ticket” to a positive afterlife. For those stuck on the fear of being wrong, I initially supposed the best way to go about diagnosing it was, once again, to think of it in a general, everyday life sort of sense, in that if you guessed wrong on a math problem, for example, you didn’t have to be afraid because it wasn’t the end of the world. Then I quickly realized the error of that comparison, because most feel that if they choose the wrong faith to believe in, they are cast into a negative afterlife because they didn’t follow the tenets they were supposed to. It was then I came up with another way of potentially explaining it. It comes down to the three similarities we share as human beings: we’re born, we live, and we die. The manner in which we do these things may not be exactly the same, but at the very base value we all do these things, so perhaps…PERHAPS…whatever happens afterlife will be similar for each of us, if not exactly the same. Hence why I think my “What Dreams May Come” view of the afterlife holds some merit: because our respective afterlives, or our own areas of such, will be of our own construct based on who we are/were, what we believe(ed), and perhaps even the style of life we led.

Of course, I don’t claim to know how it’s going to be; this is simply the outcome I hope for the most. As I said, I’m not afraid to admit my view of the matter is wrong, or could potentially be wrong, but is it really appropriate to blatantly say to someone that the way they think it might be has absolutely no merit at all? I find such negativity to be highly disrespectful, and counterproductive. Let each person have their view, and shape that view, and let’s all find out how it is when it’s our respective times. I personally believe our current existence is too interesting for there not to be something after our expiration, but hey…I could be wrong.

I could go on and on about my belief in a “spectrum of consciousness,” as well as different “planes of consciousness,” but perhaps I should leave that for another time. This blog entry is pretty long as it is…I will say that I’m not keen on believing in a strictly “black and white” interpretation of something, which might give you enough to decipher my thoughts on those issues. Perhaps these are things I can elaborate on at a later time. I guess you could say that I’m most supportive of either Cartesian dualism or popular dualism, based upon my beliefs…I’m still not sure which I take more stock in. I suppose the greatest of my desires is to see it be popular dualism, which would support my concept of the afterlife the most, but at the very least I would hope it would be Cartesian dualism, so I’d at least be some sort of “thinking substance.” :)

**EDIT:  I found an even earlier blog post from the old place that further expresses my thoughts on the afterlife…

I’m holding out hope that the afterlife is sort of how it was depicted in the movie What Dreams May Come, at least for Heaven anyway, where it is big enough for everyone to have their own, tailor-made place. If that is the case, and I really hope it is, my Heaven is sure to kick a lot of ass just by virtue of my interests, likes, and eccentric/weird personality. One of the first things I want to do is challenge Bruce Lee to a game of Mortal Kombat…don’t worry, guys, I think I can beat him so long as both of our definitions of Mortal Kombat are the same. If it’s the video game, I think I’ve got a chance, but if his idea is a real fight, I’m probably fucked…but wait…it’s MY Heaven! MY DOMAIN!!! *cackles maniacally…

Holding true to the What Dreams May Come idea, which really did a lot to influence and shape what I think/hope the afterlife is like, I think in the case of suicides, if they do go to Hell (and this is an opinion I waver on constantly), it wouldn’t be a place of physical torture and anguish, but rather a place that torments them mentally. Suicide, like some religions believe, would be a violation not so much of rejecting God’s gift of life, but more so of a natural order, or perhaps some sort of pseudo-predestined plan for life…and I hesitate to say that because I’m a bit skeptical of the idea of predestination. Hell, I believe for them, would essentially be their life gone wrong, an eternity spent living out what they knew to be their life, but with the miserable/negative parts augmented. I believe this would be the case because, with many people, misery is like gravity…some people become so steeped in it they come to view it as their “normal.”

I have a close friend who seems perpetually miserable. With some of the things he’s endured (the most poignant being a three year relationship which became an engagement that was broken off due to her mother not letting her move away with him so he could attend school; she then wound up promptly dating and marrying another), he seems to have every right to be miserable, but with the string of setbacks he’s faced, I would almost say he is emotionally damaged, and to him misery is his “base emotion,” if you will. I think suicide is something that is constantly on his mind, but an action he ultimately can’t bring himself to enact due to the stubborn friendship I’ve established with him, plus my making sure he’s around people who bring the happiness out in him each week on campus. I don’t want to believe that a guy like him would go to Hell if he decided to commit suicide one day, because he’s one of the nicest guys I know; but if going to Hell is a fact for those who kill themselves, I would have to believe it would be due to their own inability to escape the emotions and things that plagued them. If good people go to Hell, I think it’s mainly due to their own inability to forgive themselves for their own perceived misdeeds and an often misplaced sense of guilt. It would essentially be a Hell of their own construct, like Heaven would be under this idea.

I’m not so convinced that the soul transcends the spectrum of emotions we know in life, like many religious people believe. I imagine Heaven would give us infinite reasons to be happy, and would undoubtedly encourage the positive emotions, but there is something that scares me about not potentially feeling certain emotions again, like anger, sorrow, or grief. To me, having the option to feel however you want is one of the greatest gifts to have in existence, and the idea of having that stripped away by Heaven sort of disheartens me. I personally believe you would still maintain that emotional freedom in my idea of Heaven, but perhaps a potential punishment in Hell would be the emotional handicap that those of deep faith would believe for Heaven. It makes logical sense to me when I think of it that way. Not saying I’d spend my entire eternity feeling miserable in Heaven, but it wouldn’t be Heaven for me if I couldn’t feel however I pleased.

But back on point, the constructs of such an afterlife would hinge on whether emotional capacity is maintained beyond death, which I believe to be so. Given the fact I believe this, I would wager that if one committed suicide, their skewed mental and emotional states would ultimately create for them their own personalized Hell. I guess you could say that Heaven and Hell would be mental constructs, in a sense, shaped by a person’s own mind and given life via the person’s emotions. Saying that, the line is blurred between the two…so is there really this separation??? I would argue yes, if only based upon my idea that Heaven would grant emotional freedom, while Hell would handicap that freedom. Heaven would be easier to mold and control with the mind, while Hell would be volatile and essentially uncontrollable, not conforming to anything but what torments the person unfortunate to occupy it. You could say that the one defined rule in the afterlife is that Heaven offers a person freedom, while Hell does not, and as such the formations of such afterlives are formed by the person based upon that rule.

The movie was based on a book, which to my knowledge is markedly different in many respects to what the movie depicted. One concept contained within the book, which the movie likely overlooked for more dramatic effect, was the idea of people in Hell serving “penances” for their sins and infractions committed against the natural order of things. In other words, people damned to Hell would not necessarily remain there forever, but would serve what could be thought of as prison terms before being offered a second chance at life to secure entry to Heaven. For example, by committing suicide, the character Ann (called Annie in the movie) was damned to Hell for a period of 24 years, and ultimately was reincarnated because she was not yet ready for Heaven. I like this idea of Hell as a sort of prison/reformatory of sorts. Very unique concept, if I do say so myself.

This theory of mine gets complicated really fast, as you can tell. Like many ideas and theories on the afterlife, it has its points of contention I’m sure. While I personally hold this idea to be a distinct possibility…perhaps even a truth…I acknowledge I could be completely wrong on the matter entirely, and like everyone else I won’t know what is to happen (or not) until after my own death. I think it an appropriate time to admit I don’t necessarily believe in one “true” religion or belief system or one “correct” path to a positive afterlife. I’m skeptical of whether there is one definite “Heaven/Hell.” Back on point, though, I think the main reason why I grew to love this concept of the afterlife that was illustrated in What Dreams May Come is because of my belief in Heaven as a sort of paradise. This concept of Heaven was the best one, to my observation, that satisfied that belief, as it introduced to me a Heaven I could essentially tailor to my own interests, etc. I deem it a deeply reassuring concept to grasp onto, and will likely continue to do so throughout the remainder of my life.

An Older Blog Post On “The Self As Content” In Writing

Digging through my old, inactive “Musings of a Kamikaze Wordsmith from Hell” Blogger.com blog, I found myself lost in some of my older musings.  I came across a post of which I’m particularly proud, a post which expresses my thoughts on “the self as content” in writing.  This was done in response to some criticisms that were passed my way on a piece of writing that STILL remains unfinished, A Private Room In Rosewood.  I hope you enjoy this old musing.  :)

 I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go delving into my own philosophies on the writing process or anything, but there was something I thought I might address since it was brought up in confidence during a workshop for my story, “A Private Room in Rosewood.”  I haven’t published it here, primarily because it is a much longer piece and because it is, as of this post, unfinished.  However, there was something that I was called out for in this story that has roots in where I started out as a writer, and that was my use of ” the self as content.”  In other words, I used myself as content (in the form of a character) in this story.

Using the self as content, especially when not veiled particularly well, can be seen as a sort of “cop-out” on the part of the writer, or as a sign that the writer is arrogant, conceited, full of himself/herself, has an inflated ego, etc.  I can completely understand this mindset; matter of fact, I’m in a class right now at NKU called Revolutionary Poets and Artists, and some classmates of mine accused Walt Whitman of arrogance about his use of the self as content, especially in the way he made himself the voice of everyone in his poem, “Song of Myself.”  They made their points quite eloquently, and speaking from the perspective of a student who struggled to condense this 52-section poem to 23 pages of still-readable, printable pages, I can see where it would be easy to slice Whitman’s throat on that point.  It is quite easy for a reader, especially one who is not familiar with the writer at all as a person aside from knowing the writer’s physical appearance, to see their use of this practice as a sign of vanity.  It’s completely understandable.

However, I believe there is another way that this can be interpreted.  I believe a writer’s use of the self as content can be an indicator not necessarily of ego, but rather a sign of their contentment with who they are as a person…perhaps even a celebration of who they are.  That, to me, doesn’t seem like such a negative thing, although making it seem this is the purpose to a reader, especially one being forced by insane teachers to study your work with a fine-toothed comb and a magnifying glass, is tough…nearly impossible, even.

Playing with the self as content is something I’ve done as early as elementary school.  I really started to blossom as a writer in second grade after writing a story about the event people in my region know as the “Great Flood of ‘97,” a story for which I won a Young Author’s Award from NKU.  It was in third grade that I really took off as a writer, writing what could essentially be dubbed fan-fiction based off of my favorite video game franchise, Mortal Kombat.  The only difference was I was using good friends from class (including girls I had crushes on) as characters, as well as myself as the main hero (for the record, I based myself off of my favorite MK character, the Thunder God Raiden).  Back then, I figured if I could make it happen and write myself and my friends in as the people who saved the day, then what was stopping me from doing it?  I was a third grader; I didn’t care.  I wrote stories in this mold all the way until 7th grade, and I only stopped because the focus in writing slowly shifted away from the creative to the personal/reflective/scholarly.  I think this shift was actually a significant factor in my becoming so introspective, something else that has greatly factored into my use of the self as content, but I’ll elaborate on that a bit later. 

Finally getting the chance to write creatively in the classroom again in the fiction genre, I realize that stories in the fashion I used to write would no longer be looked at so favorably.  I’m no longer writing for childhood classmates; I’m writing for adult classmates and whoever else I think might want to hear me.  I’m a decade older, extremely conscious of death and mortality, and afflicted with Crohn’s Disease.  The self as content has taken on a brand new meaning for me.  I found that with “A Private Room in Rosewood” I wasn’t writing to make myself a hero, I was writing as a form of catharsis more than anything.  My character, which I named Silas, was me with very subtle differences.  He wore a “boss of the plains” style black hat with a high, round crown, and was at a crossroads in his battle with Crohn’s Disease, a stage I fear might become a reality for me.  Most people afflicted with this condition will require major surgery in order to maintain the quality of their lives, and most will often have to have major sections of their intestines removed and what’s left routed out their sides into colostomy bags.  The mere thought of this happening to me frightens me beyond words.  I’ve often wondered how I would react to such news, whether I’d be willing to go through with this operation or whether I’d try to run from it, perhaps even choosing death over the chance to prolong my life with such a radical procedure.  It’s caused me to question what exactly defines “quality” in a life, and being an introspective person it’s something I’ve spent countless hours debating in my mind.

It is my introspective nature that causes me to wonder whether the self as content is something I’ll always employ in my writing.  I think every writer puts some part of themselves into their own writing, but the question for me would be whether I’m as blatant about it as I have been in the past.  In my introspection, I often find myself exploring various scenarios, some that have happened and others that could potentially happen but haven’t, and insert myself into each scenario in a particular role and play out how I would act in my mind, right down to every single word I would say and what would be said back to me by others in the scenario with me.  Think of it as improvisational actors upon a stage being given a scenario and roles, and being told to play it out.  That is essentially how it works within my mind.  It is introspective moments like these where my mind seems the most vivid, where I get lost the deepest, and they are moments that seem to strike me on a nightly basis.  In some strange sense I can’t even begin to logically explain, I almost feel bound to use myself as content due to my introspective nature, because this is where the well seems deepest. 

Could I change the outer appearance of my “character self” to veil the fact it’s me?  Certainly.  I suppose I could…but part of me wonders why I would even bother.  I could change the outside to mask my blatant use of me as a character, but it strikes me as a superficial thing to do.  Voracious scholars would see through it…that is, if I ever became a writer worth studying.  The same people who call me on such things, the ones that know me, would still be smart enough to see it.  I don’t see it making a tremendous difference with readers, because only two people in my Fiction Writing class called me out on it and they were people who knew me outside of class; the rest all got a good look at me, hat and all, and should probably have made this connection for themselves in their reading, yet didn’t call me on it.  I would think my appearance alone would be enough to tip someone off.  Were they just that dazzled by my craft, by my awesome wordsmithing skills?  I doubt it.  XD 

Poets threw out meter and rhyme in favor of free verse because they felt those constraints were too limiting, and that free verse could allow them more flexibility and directness (another rant I could go on for another time, and my stance on this might serve to shock you), so why should I hide behind smoke and mirrors in my writing?  Because doing so would demonstrate skill?  I’m not so concerned with being the greatest writer of all time as much as I am conveying a message, and if I feel like inserting myself somehow can be a means to this goal, I’ll do it without a second thought.  I think it certainly works for “A Private Room in Rosewood.”  Crohn’s Disease may not be the terminal killer that cancer is, but it’s definitely a disease that can lead to fatal complications.  It’s an intermittent, chronic, slow death.  Besides, and I hate to sound writer-hipster here, but cancer is so overused.  o-O  I actually had quite a few people commend me for using Crohn’s over cancer, so that should tell you something.

This could be the rant of a vain person, but I see it like this:  I saw the opportunity to take an aspect of my own life and character and use it to convey a message that will hopefully resonate with someone else, perhaps provoking reflection, thought, or incorporation into their own lives.  That could still be construed as conceited, since every celebrity peddling a memoir always claims that they’re trying to showcase their own lives so that others might find inspiration or lessons from them.  I don’t see myself in that same situation, and it’s not just because I’m not famous…yet.  o-O  I don’t see myself as this grand figure doling out morsels of advice to commoners below me; I see myself as a human being laying himself open for other humans to see that I’m human, too.  Chalk it up to my own dealings with death and grief (I’ve attended about a funeral/visitation a year since 2000), but I’ve learned in my experiences trying to comfort grieving people that sometimes it takes showing them that you, too, can bleed in order to establish a connection with them.  It takes more than the usual, worn-out “I’m sorry for your loss” to show them you genuinely care.  If you really want to make a connection with someone having a difficult time, you have to come down to their level and prove to them you are just as human as they are.  This kindred spirit is the person I always strive to be with those around me.  My letter to my deceased teacher’s wife (Brook Gifford, which can be found in an earlier post on the blog) is proof positive of who I try to be in another’s moment of crisis.  I try to act as such because I see it as my duty, as the right thing to do, and so that hopefully someone else might come along and do the same for me one day.  This is a major aspect of me as a person, and I think it shines through in my serious writing where I’m using myself as content, because I’m trying to use myself to help other people.  That’s how I see it, anyway.

Feel free to judge me how you wish on this matter; some might see it as a “cop-out” of a vain man, but I see it as the efforts of a caring man trying to make a connection with someone.  Perhaps it takes knowing me to see it like I do?  I can certainly say it takes knowing at the very least what I look like to even recognize what I’m doing at all.  I stand confident that my intentions overshadow any thoughts of conceit, but that could simply be my pride in my craft talking.  :)  I think it takes some pride, some self-confidence, to even want to use yourself in such a way, and I do admit I’m proud of who I am as a person, or who I try to be anyway.  Are there things about me that I’m not proud of?  Sure.  I’ve got issues like anyone else, with the exception of maybe my Crohn’s…that’s something confined to a smaller percentage of the population.  I just hope that my good intentions shine through any shadows doubt might cast, and if there are still people who see it the other way around, they are certainly entitled to see it that way.  I would hope that they take the time to try looking at it like I do, because I can certainly say I’ve looked at it from the perspective they see it from.

theonion:


Bob Dylan Lays Off 2,000 Workers From Songwriting Factory: Full Report

HAHAHA!!!  AWESOME!

theonion:

Bob Dylan Lays Off 2,000 Workers From Songwriting Factory: Full Report

HAHAHA!!!  AWESOME!

A Small Glimpse Into What Most People Would Call Hell

Due to recent developments in my personal life (finding love, purpose, motivation, etc), I have decided to really, REALLY try adhering to a more traditional Crohn’s diet.  I’ve done some research on what to avoid and what to do, and the results are quite sobering.  Since misery is addicted to company, I thought I would share my findings — with some insanity sprinkled throughout, of course.

Foods to Avoid With Crohn’s Disease

nuts – difficult to digest; guess I can’t have honey-roasted cashews anymore…

fruit with skin – difficult to digest skin…and for the longest time, I thought the skin was what was helping suppress my symptoms…

popcorn – popcorn qualifies as whole grain; whole grain = bad for Crohn’s = no snack food at the movies anymore

fried food – fat and grease…and because it’s too delicious for me to handle…

cured or fatty meat – fat content, and because the so-called “experts” want me to believe bacon isn’t the solution to all my problems…

seeds – difficult to digest; disqualifies most berries and rye bread…and I love strawberries and rye bread…

tomatoes – combination of skin, seeds, and acid content…however, I can’t definitively say tomatoes have caused me trouble; we grow our own, and I eat them…

coffee – likely due to caffeine content, but I never drink it anyway, so DON’T CARE!!!

chocolate – ABSOLUTE HELL…FUCK YOU, HERSHEY!!!

carbonated beverages – caffeine content; bubbly drinks regardless can be triggers…I had a feeling Dr. Pepper wasn’t looking out for my best interests… :(

alcohol – history has shown me it may suppress my symptoms, but I list it regardless; beer is nasty and can go straight to Hell anyway…

dairy – leads to bloating, gas; aggravates other symptoms…I can only imagine I’d be better off living in India, but there are still cows there and they may still try to kill me with their utter secretions…harder, aged cheeses (Parmesan, Romano, cheddar) are okay à less lactose…THANK GOD; soft cheeses (mozzarella, ricotta) are bad à more lactose…DAMN ITALIANS!!!

Eating Tips for Crohn’s Disease

eat small, frequent meals – portion control is important…and ANNOYING…

go easy on grease – fatty food is more difficult to digest…and again, apparently too awesome for me to have…

try a reduced fiber diet – no whole wheat, whole grain, or unrefined flours; soluble fiber is okay, fruits and vegetables are okay if cooked à the idea, essentially, is to make me shit less, NOT MORE…recommended for short-term stints during flare-up

be careful with dairy – might as well pretend I’m lactose intolerant in most cases…

avoid roughage – corn, beans, stringy vegetables are difficult to digest à cause cramping, bloating, and diarrhea; for healthy intestines, roughage is good, but MINE AREN’T HEALTHY; THEY’RE INFLAMED AND BLEEDING…

prepare foods in a different way – just because you can’t have something raw (most vegetables, apparently) doesn’t mean you can’t try cooking it (that statement would sound so fucked up in a non-food circumstance); stringy foods like onions may be better tolerated if minced into very small pieces, just as seeds and nuts seem to cause fewer symptoms when they’re ground up; chickpeas and sesame seeds, for example, may cause problems, but hummus (def:  tasty, diarrhea-like substance), which is made with ground chickpeas, and tahini, a sesame-seed paste, may not…

stay hydrated – water is AWESOME, as are diluted fruit juices without a high sugar content; caffeinated drinks should be limited or cut out completely; Gatorade may be ideal for rehydrating and reintroducing electrolytes, as long as I don’t buy the kind that has that flame-retardant chemical in it…

pump up your electrolytes — replenish lost electrolytes like sodium and potassium if you’re having loose stools; one option is to sprinkle salt liberally on food (translation:  DROWN IT IN SALT); you can also sip broths or bouillons (broth for this commoner/simpleton), and choose salty snacks like pretzels, crackers, rice cakes, or potato chips (potato chips…DOCTOR’S ORDERS!!!); to get more potassium, eat potatoes (without skin), bananas, tomato juice or sauce (wait, what?  Didn’t they tell me to avoid tomatoes?  WHICH IS IT?), avocados, melon, or citrus fruits like grapefruit or orange (with the membrane removed, if needed); coconut water (HELL NO…) is also a good source of potassium, and a good way to stay hydrated…

don’t skimp on protein – sources suggest protein should occupy 25% of what I intake; eat 6 ounces of really good quality red meat to get the needed iron and protein without overdoing it (I still view being a carnivore as my explicit duty as a man, and will hold out as long as I can from becoming a vegetarian, or worse yet…A VEGAN…apologies to those friends of mine whom I may have just offended); fish, tofu, beans, and eggs, if they’re well tolerated, are also good protein sources…THANKFULLY…

season with ground spices – spices can be problematic, but should not be ruled out in order to make food appetizing, as depressed appetite is a hallmark symptom of people struggling with Crohn’s…duh…because when food makes you miserable, YOU DON’T WANT TO EAT…if you find spices giving you symptoms, try less next time…

consider a liquid diet – NOT A LONG-TERM SOLUTION; TEMPORARY ONLY; only for those dealing with intestinal blockages or those who can’t process solid food; gives intestines a chance to rest and heal in order to suppress symptoms; Ensure Plus or Boost Plus are ideal…a liquid diet sounds TANTALIZING AS HELL to me sometimes…

supplement with vitamins – aids you in making sure you’re getting the nutrients you need, and also proves to be quite an annoyance in regards to remembering to take them…

eat normally when well – I like to think this particular tactic has screwed me over NUMEROUS TIMES, but perhaps I have not been “well” in my attempts (note to self:  look up definition of “well” in several dictionaries and decide upon a compromise denotation)…only ideal if no bowel problems or long-term narrowing of intestine are present…

Chances of colossal failure and nothing really changing:  HIGH

Motivation levels:  STRONG…right now, anyway…

Guilt potential (in case of failure):  SEVERE

IN SUMMATION:  removal of numerous beloved foods and beverages which should lead to radically improved sense of digestive health and well-being, greater happiness, more opportunities, increased chances at life longevity, and stronger peace of mind at the cost of missed chances at shared communion of common dishes and increased potential of social awkwardness…

CONCLUSION:  extremely difficult, but attainable and worth potential costs…

No Way As Way, No Limitation As Limitation

**Another poem from my collection, All Of My Heroes Are Dead:  And Other Amusing Anecdotes.**

You taught me to understand
rather than immediately judge,
urged me not to blindly follow the crowd
and accept their approach.
Nor did you endorse my involvement
in the manipulating game of role creation.
You showed me that self-knowledge breeds transcendence
and that life is best to be lived, not conceptualized.
You stressed formlessness, shapelessness,
to be water. That I haven’t mastered yet, but
you weren’t in this world to live up to my expectations;
likewise, I’m not here to live up to all of yours.
I haven’t fully copied your successful personality as my own,
but adapted what parts of it I could use for my own self-discovery
and disregarded what I couldn’t.
I empty my cup every day so it may be filled
and remain devoid in hopes of totality.
Thanks to you, I fear low aim instead of failure,
I’ve taken things as they are,
punched when I’ve needed to punch, kicked when I’ve needed to kick,
been not for or against or paid any mind to who is right or wrong.
I am ready, not tense,
not dreaming, but not thinking,
flexible, not set,
liberated from the uneasy sense of confinement,
wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert,
ready for whatever may come.

Barely Here…

Well, I sure thought that was me,

at least until the point when I met you.

Five-ten-and-a-half takes up little space

but still gets wet enough to leave trenches in the mud. /

No, your presence was much more fleeting. /

I was a bolt into this storm of life hell-bent on making a loud,

crackling splash; but in so doing I emerged heavy and soaked.

Where others floated and rolled, I had to drag myself along.

I managed to rumble and fumble my way along

to a break in the clouds above,

and you came down to grace me as a ray upon my weary form. /

You dried me so my burden was lessened;

you shined warmly and lit the way for me.

The tracks I left behind me did not seem to run as deep,

but alas, miracles are rare like butterflies in the rain.

The clouds repaired themselves, and you were gone. /

My tears weighed me down more than raindrops ever could.

I wept for your brevity, for the cruel reality that you did not exist

to make such a sound as I had, that you were never given the chance

to make tracks in the mud as I have, that you did not get to feel the rain

on your face or its heaviness accumulate upon you to make you stronger.

I only want to stand and sink into a muddy oblivion

but droplets of hope fill the well of my mind that if, perhaps,

I keep trudging forward I’ll find a place where the clouds break again,

and I will have your warm caress again; because as lightning does not strike

the same place twice, so too can’t the sun shine twice in the same moment. /

The way is grey, but I have hope you’ll shine upon me once again.


Written 1/16/2013

breakingnews:

The White House says building a Death Star would be an out-of-this-galaxy waste of money — not only because it’s against government policy to blow up planets, but also because the United States already has access to a space station as well as a laser-wielding space robot.

Friday’s official…

This made me laugh hysterically.  XD

You Have To Be Asleep To Believe It

**A George Carlin-inspired poem from my collection, All Of My Heroes Are Dead:  And Other Amusing Anecdotes.**

Politicians are there to show you that

you have choice. You own your country

and everything in it.

They want less for themselves and more

for everybody else.

They want citizens who are well informed,

educated, capable of critical thinking.

It helps them; it’s in their best interests.

They don’t want you to passively accept

increasingly shittier jobs with lower pay,

longer hours, reduced benefits, no overtime,

a vanishing pension that’s gone by the time you go

to collect it. They aren’t after your Social Security money.

You’ll get to keep your retirement money.

Think of it as a big club, and you’re in it.

It’s not the same big club rumored to be used

for beating you over the head all day long when they

tell you what to believe. That doesn’t exist.

They aren’t telling you what to think,

what to believe, or what to buy.

The table is balanced, the game isn’t rigged.

Everyone notices, everyone cares.

White collar, blue collar, doesn’t matter

the color of shirt – you good hardworking people

continue to elect these wealthy politicians

who give a fuck about you. They care about you.

That’s what they count on – the fact Americans

won’t remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white,

and blue dick being jammed up their assholes every day

because they know the truth: it’s the American Dream.

Thoughts On The State Of Poetry, Circa May 2012

**Taken from the introduction to my unpublished poetry collection, All Of My Heroes Are Dead:  And Other Amusing Anecdotes.  I thought this might be an interesting share for some of the people who know me…**

Message From The Kamikaze Wordsmith From Hell, Ryan Hayes

The idea of this poetry chapbook took root in a rather hilarious way…at least to my “advanced” sense of humor (advanced being code for “messed up”). In our Adv. Poetry Writing course, we were made to do a “visual metaphor collage” to be potentially used as the cover of our final chapbooks. Searching through my flash drive for interesting photos to contribute to one, I began selecting photographs of my heroes, influences, muses, etc, because I wanted to really shine a spotlight on the people in the course of existence who have had a major impact on me.

As I took a closer look at the photographs, I came to a semi-startling but amusing discovery: all of these people were dead. While this detail is a tad disappointing, I find this circumstance of my life rather intriguing. Not to make any grand assumption about the public-at-large, I do feel like most people define “new” discoveries as people, places, and things coming into renown in the present day. In the never-ending pursuit of entertainment, people seem to look ahead, whereas I’ve almost exclusively looked backward. Why I am this way, I really don’t know. I’d like to think it’s good taste more than anything, but I realize I’m a bit unique in comparison to typical 22 year olds when it comes to the things I like, the way I dress and behave…sometimes I feel like a geriatric soul in a young man’s body.

Feeling possessed of an old soul does make it difficult to change habits and practices that some would consider unfashionable or “out of date,” when you feel in your heart and soul that what you do is natural and “right,” but in the case of poetry I’m discovering that my seemingly antiquated ways do not capture the attention of today’s audience. As stubborn and resistant as I have been to change, I do want my work to resonate with readers, so I’ve got no choice but to take steps to change my sound and voice so they listen. I personally lament the fact that most of the audience for poetry consists of other poets and academia. While they are certainly entitled to be an audience for poetry, I feel like their demands have taken poetry away from the average, everyday person, the common men and women that make up the largest part of our nation’s population. I feel like these people aren’t seeking poetry out anymore because it no longer speaks to their experiences in a way they understand, which was a factor in my desire to focus on the people who have influenced me as a person because most of these people are well known and embraced by that segment of people. The average person’s notion of poetry will net you a definition that hearkens back to the formalized rhyme and meter of people like William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, or Robert Frost. That’s a short list of the names that come to mind for them, and to me it implies that these older poets’ styles are what speak to them. Granted, they’ve been around much longer, and one could argue that the average person doesn’t really read Shakespeare or any of these people willingly. I would counter such an argument with the assertion that, if the average person’s definition of poetry is what I’ve previously stated, then the modern, unrhymed, free verse poetry we have now hasn’t done too great a job of changing peoples’ perspectives on the craft.

I’m not saying we need to go back strictly to the old days and styles, but rather I’m expressing a deep disappointment that both schools can’t be accommodated with equal affection. I truthfully feel like a lot of my skill as a poet lies within the old schools, styles, and disciplines, because quite truthfully that feels more natural for me to emulate and write. While I’ve enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone, I have struggled a lot in doing so, and still question whether or not I’ve been able to change my voice without feeling like I’ve sold out. I just wish there was still a clear avenue and place for the story and voice I’ve always had to be embraced, that’s all. I personally don’t think it’s too much to ask, but everyone else seems to disagree with that.

I just don’t feel like there’s much heart and soul in the poetry scene today, which is interesting because those words seem frowned upon for use in poetry. Even modern darlings like Linda Gregg and Jack Gilbert (who I’ve come to embrace as a modern voice I love) don’t always adhere to that particular idea, so I wonder just what the deal is. Forgive me if this feels like a rant; my intention was merely to express my thoughts on the state of poetry today. I’m holding out for another huge, revolutionary movement, but for now I’ll try my hand doing it the popular way today.image