Moonlight Sensing

“Caterpillars Have Hope,” by me

Waiting for the day
Where I become myself;
Something different.

I awake in this cocoon daily,
Trapped by thin layers that I made myself.

Confined by the environment
I chose to settle in.

It’s just a stage I say,
So I don’t try to escape

Instead I close my eyes,
Put faith in my cocoon,
And wait to truly wake.

 

A poem I wrote while having a brief introspection. I wrote this while slightly intoxicated, sitting in front of a wall of windows with all the lights off, well past midnight. The windows are open, and the breeze is slight. The moon lights up the construction area my apartment overlooks, I could sit here and just stare at it forever. I don’t understand the infatuation, but I don’t fight it either.

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Life Takes Direction

What is the meaning, or purpose of life? A question so many people have taken a stab at, and rightfully so, it’s a damn important question. But, I feel this question should be answered personally, by everyone who has ever lived. Thus, there will be no broad sweeping answer that covers all bases and finally makes sense of everything for everybody. My answer won’t be the same as yours, and your answer won’t be the same as somebody halfway around the world. But it’s essential to your life that you tackle the question.

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The answer, as stated in “The Hitchhikers Guide To The Universe,” a lovely book by Douglas Adams (and movie), would tell you that the answer would be 42. Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple.

Time for my stab at the question of life:
I was riding my bike around my neighborhood this evening (playing Pokemon Go) and my mind got to wandering, and I couldn’t get off the thought that there has to be something better out there for me. I feel like all I do is work, play video games, and drink. I got to thinking further about each one of these individually.

Work: I show up when scheduled because I have to be able to afford the basic things in life, i.e. an apartment, a car, health insurance, including dental and vision, my laptop, electricity, phone, and food.

Video Games: I play video games to distract me from the long list of things that I need to do in order to get my life on track.

Drinking: When I get off work, and video games aren’t enough to distract me from how bad a day I’ve had, and how long my list of things to do has gotten, I drink to forget all of it. And forget is exactly what I do, because I end up blacking out and passing out somewhere (hopefully in my apartment, but not always).

If you’re wondering why I choose to do this, because clearly I’m watching myself burn to the ground, and completely aware of it, I couldn’t tell you. But, whilst riding around tonight and staring at the stars, I realized that nothing is going to change for me, and that if I really want this change that I talk about so much, then I’m going to have to be my own catalyst. Or I could just stay a piece of shit, but…

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There has to be more to this life for me than wondering if my shitty car is going to start in order to take me to my shitty job that I need to be able to afford the shitty apartment I have, along with my shitty health insurance that I don’t use for GOD KNOWS WHY!?

My answer:
Life is exactly what I’ve made it. I’ve become complacent, and in order to break my cycle I’ll have to put an end to the things that shield me from attacking my list. I am afraid of change, afraid of failure, afraid of what will happen if I find a way to actually get my writing out there. I’m afraid to the point that I’ve settled, and until now I’ve accepted my fate as an underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated line cook. I’ve spent twelve years in the kitchen, and being a corporate slave for twelve years is long enough to make me look inside myself and question the very nature of why I do the things I do.

This is my life, and it will go where I say, I just have to find my voice.

Can Writing Podcasts Save Me?

The holidays stress me out. The kitchen (my job) stresses me out. But, most of all, my complete lack of anything resembling a motivation to get out of the kitchen stresses me out. It’s like I enjoy the pain of working in a kitchen, like I wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have to go to work and babysit people my own age, and get paid shit for working way too hard.

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Writing stresses me out. I constantly doubt myself. I listen to podcasts that tell me not to doubt my writing, that I should just write and write. And still? I doubt. Writing is the one thing in my life that keeps me sane, as my body is too battered to skateboard anymore. OK so that’s a lie, my girlfriend keeps me sane too, and she doesn’t read this, so don’t think this is a shout-out to her to gain brownie points, I have all the points I could ever need. She’s at her parents this weekend, and I have nobody in which to unload all my frustrations. So, lucky for you dear reader, you have inherited that honor.

Unloading zone.

I’m actively aware that I hate the line of work I’m in, yet I do nothing, well not nothing, but not near enough to get me out of the restaurant industry. I have around ten short stories currently without endings, and the beginning of a novel started, but I just can’t finish anything. I wrote one short story about four years ago about my friend being a jedi-hybrid that could control his dreams, and that had an ending, but I left it open to have a sequel, and the more I think about it, the more I think I’m incapable of writing actual endings. Am I cursed? How do I shake this?

Cue writing podcasts. I recently started listening to a few writing podcasts, and my favorite so far is the Dead Robots’ Society. It was created by Justin Macumber and is currently hosted by Justin, Terry Mixon, and Paul E. Cooley. The podcast consists of advice they have, stories they have, how they got to where they are, and answers to listeners questions. It is quite entertaining, and for me, extremely helpful.

They give me hope that I can eventually make it out of the kitchen, but in order to do so I’ll have to stop procrastinating and just fucking write.

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The Asshole and His Horse

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attempting to run through the flames

I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t beat a dead horse. The horse has already experienced the thing people fear most, no not public speaking, I mean death, and by beating it further, you only make yourself look like an asshole.

This being said, I think the little man in my head that sees me going to work day after day, hating my job, sees me as that asshole beating a dead horse. You see, my horse was once a full blown race horse, with intentions of working it’s way up from line cook to manager, and from manager to owner, but time got the best of it.

My horse suffered a tragic accident about six years ago. It was cruising around the track as it normally did, slowly climbing it’s way to the head of the pack, becoming the horse everybody looked up to, and the horse everybody went to when they had any questions, and then it was introduced to the worst human being it had ever encountered in it’s short existence.

Dropping the metaphor for this part, one of my favorite managers transferred to South Florida, and was replaced with the devil incarnate. Being head cook on the line, I believe this manager came into the restaurant with his sights set on me, looking to knock me from first to last, slowing my metaphorical horse from first, to dead.

Everything I did was wrong, and if I managed to do something right, I didn’t do it fast enough, and if I did it right, and did it fast enough, I was living in a reality that didn’t exist. I was yelled at for everything, everything on the line was my fault. If I showed up to work on time, I was late, if I showed up early, I was accused of trying to sabotage his labor bonus. My horse, along with the part of me that wanted to excel in this industry, suffered a tragic accident, but it didn’t die quite yet. It just became filled with rage, and dreaded it’s every lap around the track.

My horse died on a Friday night, when the shit hit the fan. We were slammed busy and on an hour wait. The food starts running long, and my manager is in the window just screaming at me demanding that I fix everything that is going wrong. I’m sorry, did I seat the entire restaurant at one time? Did I ring every table in the dining room in simultaneously and expect it to come out in a timely manner? No, I didn’t.

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Rage Level: Saiyan

I last about an hour before I red-out. I’m getting berated while getting beat down in sheer volume of tickets, I can’t handle it. I walk off the line for a quick breather, just to get my head back in the right place, and to get away from my managers incessant nagging. I’m in the middle of taking my first peaceful deep breath as he walks around the corner screaming at me. Cue red-out. I remember walking towards him and screaming at him, but I don’t remember what happened between that time, and the time I was back on the line cooking. I just remember looking down the line and seeing our grill cook laughing. My horse died.

I worked as a robot the rest of the shift, completely mentally checked out. And it’s been that way for going on seven years now. The little man in my head sees me clock in, beat that poor dead horse for up to fifteen hours a day sometimes, and then go home to drink the pain away, like the asshole he believes me to be.

My horse has been twitching recently, as I’ve been sending out my resume, and I believe he may be coming back to life, but as everybody who has ever seen any zombie movie knows, nothing comes back to life quite the same. Much as a zombie, my horse will come back to life with an insatiable thirst for blood. Blood being success of course.

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IT

Stephen King is a master craftsman. Every time I pick up one of his books I’m sucked into the story, turning page after page with ravenous curiosity, I must know what happens next.

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“IT” is no exception. It took me a little longer to actually fall into the story on this one, but around 150 pages or so, I completely forgot I was reading. I became part of the story.

This book takes focus on a group of friends in Derry, Maine, and the experiences they have together. During the book, there has been a recent bout of child murders, and while all the parents are being cautious, all the kids just want to have fun.

I just finished the series “Stranger Things,” and though not written by Stephen King, to the best of my knowledge, the whole time I was watching the Netflix show I just couldn’t help but think “this is right out of a Stephen King book.” When asked how to describe Stranger Things to people, I first ask them if they have read IT, and if they have, I tell them it’s just like IT, but without clowns, and no grown up side to the story.

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The story takes place on two timelines, one when the group are still children, and then another when they all return to the place they all tried to forget. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for all things sci-fi, and without giving anything away, this book took a turn I did not expect. I was not in the least bit disappointed.

Side note – A much younger coworker was talking to me about Stranger Things over the weekend, King’s IT came to mind, and that’s where I first realized how similar the stories were. Case in point, if you fell in love with Stranger Things, and haven’t read IT, chances are you’re highly capable of falling for IT.

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The Office

Have you seen The Office? Have you ever heard of Netflix? Are you familiar with the internet?

Just a few questions I’d ask if you’re answer to the first question was a no. The Office is my all-time favorite comfort show. No matter how I’m feeling, I can put on any episode and be temporarily swept away from my own personal shortcomings in life. It will almost immediately alter my mood, and I’d go so far as to say I’m a better person after watching an episode or two.

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Jim and Pam pranking Dwight keep this show alive

The show spans 9 seasons, and is about a paper company in Scranton, PA. It takes you through the daily workings inside the office, and everything that comes with working in a small space with many personalities.

I’ve seen the show at least four or five times through, as I usually put it on when I’m about to go to sleep. It clears my mind, and instead of trying to get to sleep with all of my daily problems floating around in my head, I can fall asleep with a smile on my face thinking about how ridiculous Michael Scott’s life is.

Michael Scott is one of four main characters in the show, and he is also the office boss. The other main characters (IMO of course) would be Jim, Pam, and Dwight. The dynamic between these characters is a combination of writing, directing, and acting genius. Every time I re-watch this show in its entirety, I notice something that had previously gone unnoticed. A minor detail becomes apparent, and I make a connection to why certain other things happen on the show.

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It seems someone else agrees with my main selections

If you really haven’t seen this show, you have to give it a chance. It is THE go to new relationship show. If you aren’t totally comfortable with a partner yet, put on the office, share some laughs, and get to know each other through the conversation that pops up due to the situations portrayed in this beautifully put together show.

 

Plan on Planning

Between writing, work, and trying to keep up with school, I’ve found that planning isn’t as meaningless as it used to be. Prior to this semester, I’d been out of  school for a few years, and the only thing I needed to plan was when I had to get out of town to stay sane. I never needed to jot down my schedule, and make time for certain “activities” on a daily basis. I didn’t understand why so many people couldn’t keep track of there responsibilities and obligations. Turns out I just didn’t have enough going on.

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I bought a planner for the first time since one was provided for me in high school, a good 12 years ago. It’s not only extremely helpful, but also a bit nostalgic. I remember being shown how to use our planners on the first day of high school, and how useless I thought they were. Back then my planner contained more poems than it did plans, I used to write all over it in attempt to stay awake in my earlier classes, paying attention just wasn’t an option yet.

Nowadays, if I don’t write out my plans, they’ll get forgotten about, and my grades will show. I have about ten assignments a week, and I still work 40 plus hours. Work is thoughtless, and doesn’t require planning, but it is also monotonously mind numbing. By the end of every shift, my mind is wiped clean of it’s prior obligations, and is instead focused on the post-work rage that it’s now enduring. Why couldn’t that shift have gone smoother? Why was I getting blamed for things that weren’t my fault? Why weren’t my coworkers being as efficient as they could? Why, when I work the grill (busiest station by far), do I find myself having to jump on saute and push a few items out?

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By the time I clock out, the only thing I can think about is getting a drink, and forgetting about everything that happened in the last eight or nine hour shift. Here enters planning, saving my night from being a drunken fit of vomitous venting about how bad my night was. If you find yourself struggling to remember the order in which to get things done, I’d highly suggest planning. You don’t have to write everything down, just cover the basics. On Tuesday: you work at ten, should be off by eleven, then you have to get home and write a blog post. Planning at it’s finest.

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Ready Player One

About a month ago I picked up Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, I didn’t really know what to expect. I forgot about it for a few weeks, and before I was leaving to head to Philly for the weekend, I saw it on the table and threw it into my carry on. I was going to meet my girlfriends sister, brother in law, and nephew, for his fourth birthday. When we travel I usually read, and she’ll either sleep or fill out sudoku puzzles the whole trip. I put my headphones on in Tampa, opened the book, and didn’t even look up until we were landing in Philly. I read it every night before sleep, and the whole flight back. I finished it a few days ago.

This book is so damn good. I’m a huge fan of role playing games like Dark Souls, Demon Souls, Bloodborne, Skyrim, and the Diablo‘s.

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On one of the covers it describes this book to be the adults version of Harry Potter, I do agree, but when I was reading this book I felt as if I were playing one of the games that I love so much. I couldn’t put it down when I was in Philly, until I realized I was being borderline rude.

The story follows a teenager named Wade Watts, who lives in a “stack,” a bunch of trailers stacked on top of each other, held together by steel frames. In the opening of the story the man who created the OASIS, the virtual reality program where kids go to school and adults go to get away from the real world, has just passed away. In his passing, he has created a challenge for the users in the OASIS, awarding billions of dollars and control of the OASIS upon completion. All you have to do is find three keys. Sounds simple right? Hardly.

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Wade’s journey through the OASIS involves dungeons full of enemies he is forced to fight through with gear he picks up along the way. At one point in the story he finds a +1 Flaming Sword, which, for anyone who played Dark Souls knows, there is a flaming sword in the near beginning of the game if you shoot the dragons tail with about 50 arrows (dedication, yes), this part gave me an awesome feeling of nostalgia. The video game feel throughout this book is indescribable. I can’t put into words how great this book is, and if you even remotely like playing RPG’s (role-playing games), you have no option but to read this.

The featured image can be found here, where there is also a large number of pictures from the story. I scrolled through that site for quite some time, and I couldn’t help but use the picture of Acerak, one of the demon’s in the story Wade must fight, playing the video game Joust. Cline also has a new book titled Armada that came out a few months ago, and it is without a doubt the next book I’ll be reading.

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Trumping Idiocracy

If you haven’t seen the movie Idiocracy, I implore you to do so. The film was directed by Mike Judge in 2006, it portrays the world 500 years from now and predicts the future to be hilariously disturbing.

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Murica

In the movie, the president is an ex-professional wrestler played by Terry Crews who goes by the name of “President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.” The only thing they use water for is in the sewage system, aka toilet water. They water their crops with “Brawndo,” which is basically Gatorade in the film, and the only reason they could do this is because Brawndo is a huge corporation that bought out the FCC, the FDA, and the USDA. The film is amazingly ridiculous, and I can’t help but think that something like this could actually happen, what with our current republican candidate in the running.

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Also Murica

Trump’s said some seriously vile things, and the latest we’ve all heard is his Access Hollywood video where he says you can do anything when you’re famous, going on to say you can even “Grab em by the pussy.” This whole interaction, caught on a mic Trump was wearing, seems like a line straight out of Idiocracy, where there is constant profanity in commercials, on billboards, and where they elected an ex-professional wrestler with “Mountain-Dew” as his middle name. Though I have more faith in the real-life American people, it’s still a bit scary to imagine a future with somebody like Trump as our leader.

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Take the family out for a nice dinner (spoiler warning)

After seeing this movie I cannot tell you how many times “Idiocracy” has been the first thing I think of when watching ridiculous commercials, or seeing candidates debate about climate change being a real thing or not…Come on guys, it’s 2016, and unless you plan on watering your crops with “Brawndo” in the near future, please get out and vote.

The film has also predicted a good amount of things that have come true since it’s release in September of 2006. For a nice list of those things, and some other fun facts about the movie to reality comparison, take a journey here.

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Iles Brought Me Back

After dropping out of college for the first time, I took a break from reading, one I much regret. I was skateboarding in 105% of my free time, and working until three and sometimes four in the morning. That all changed when I went to visit my mom for Christmas about six years ago. I was looking at her bookshelf and asked if she had any recommendations to get me reading again, part of the problem was that I hadn’t really found a favorite author yet. She recommended I read The Devil’s Punchbowl, by Greg Iles.

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here

I was hooked from the first few pages. The book is part of the Penn Cage series, and it starts out in a cemetery where he is to meet someone to discuss secrets dealing with his hometown of Natchez Mississippi. The book takes you through Penn’s adventure to make his hometown a better place, as he does in most of the Penn Cage novels. This was easily the longest book I had ever read at this point at over 700 pages, but that wasn’t a thought in my head as I couldn’t put it down. Iles made me fall in love with Penn, and this is the book that got me reading again, and ultimately led me to the conclusion that I should pursue a career in writing.

When I finished Natchez Burning a few years later, after reading all but two of Iles’s books, it was about four in the morning, but I was so moved by the ending that I got out my computer and just started typing to see what would happen. I saw the sun come up that morning, and got about halfway through one of my favorite, and first, short stories I’d written.

Before Iles I was all poetry, I had written a few things for school in English classes, but mainly emotional poetry. I have about six or seven journals that are packed full of my wild range of emotions throughout high school, and the time after. They are quite interesting reads, funny, sad, unbelievable, and at times, quite shocking. While they are some of my favorites, they will stay in my closet, and thanks to Iles, and my mother of course, I have begun my quest to have something more than poetry published.

If you’re interested in Greg Iles, you can find him here, and if you’re interested in any of my poetry, you can find it here. The further you go back on the site, the older they get, and there’s about 550 posts right now. Enjoy!

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