Verbal warfare through radical ideals

Posts tagged “life

Eat Me, Drink Me

Everything, and everyone you know will ditch, decay, or die.

My crown sat high on the chessboard. I was the king of the black. Around me laid the tools of my success. I played the wrong game.

The first two turns were a merciless assault of one close death after the other.  The third and fourth brought to me a mass exodus. The past five turns have been a suffocating, dehumanizing necrosis. Piece by piece I have struggled to maintain some sense of sanity as I slowly descend into this grave. Talent squandered, care devoted to poor choices and poor people, attention constantly diverted toward the stars of systems light-years away. I can’t see around the mirror I’ve put up, and within it lies a hollow boy with little left to grin at, and nothing left to overcome.

Wallowing would be easier to do, if I weren’t too busy withering.

I: I sit a king on the mountain of dirt. My queen watches all and I drive the Lincoln Continental of our victory tour. It’s not to last. The pawns of the board are beginning to flare, and the knights have rallied a mutiny. They take their shot, and I’m left with less than a quarter of my previous squad. Stricken by defeat, the rooks fearfully swarm. They scramble to hide behind the king, forgetting the game and retaining nothing. They have no moves. No rules. No honor. The board turns white, and the last remnants of the black army hold tight to their corner. It’s not a friendly table, anymore.

II: The queen no longer values her kingdom. She removes her crown, and exits the game. The king desperately clings to the last of the pieces. The white army is no longer playing. The board has consumed them, and is now slowly sinking. The king sends pawns to return as queens, knowing it for the suicide mission it is. They return with the power, and none of the will. Their resentment of the king drives them away from his corner. The king attempts to alter the game; a last ditch effort to save what was left of the kingdom. The board just changes direction. The table stays the same.

III: You can change the game, and you can stop being black and white. You can’t remove the red you’ve earned, though. It’s permanently stuck to you, and will eventually be the last trace of you. Unlike black or white, you have to take red. It’s a color of passion, and worse. Red is proof you’ve made victims, and those who smell red come running. Red attracts hyenas, and those same hyenas who were once part of your pack eventually will devour you. I inform them all that I can lead us again. I tell them that I have the ability. I give them assurance, and feed their needs. I don’t supply their food, though. My fatal mistake came too late. When living amongst hyenas, only females can be their leader.

IV: This game is not chess. It’s a grapple with the others for carrion, and the king is now fighting to get across the board for scraps. We no longer see the board. We just see orders, demands, and requests. The game has long since become a bloodsport, and the last animals standing are wandering in circles. The king trips, and falls off the table. On his way down, he is met with visions of other games; these realms are filled with other pieces, cards, and boards that he had never imagined. He just wants to find a game where he fits; one that allows him to take off his crown, and find somewhere that his decisions, and the decisions of others can no longer harm him. He hits the floor.

V: As I regain my footing, I look back up at the table. Suspended miles above the ground, is the island of chaos. Black and white clash as the remaining bishops, pawns, and queens struggle for my crown. I pity them, and I begin the long walk away from the feet of the table. The towering appearance casts a long shadow, and the weight of the world above me begins to lift. It doesn’t lift far, though. The pieces peer over the side of the table, calling my name and urging me to return. Behind them stands a fiery glow. The table is burning, and the ashes are a snowfall on my head. I can’t save them. I can barely recognize them. My words fall on dying ears. The table splinters, and collapses on itself. I approach slowly, and as the dust settles I catch a glimpse of a shattered bottle, and the crushed contents of a cake. The labels hit me in the chest. Scrawled on the two notes are either instructions, or pleas of suicide I had dreamed of for years. They say:

Eat me, Drink me.

I was invited to
A beheading today.
I thought I was a butterfly
Next to your flame.
A rush of panic and
The lock has been raped.
This is only a game,
This is only a game…

-Jake

 


The Return of the Darkness and Evil

Stars filled the darkened sky, and the night was quiet. A man and woman lay face to face on a hill, sealed in warm embrace. Their foreheads pressing together, they breathed deeply in harmony. A resounding comfort could be felt surrounding the two of them, and they gripped each other tighter. This was a moment of relaxation, and it couldn’t be broken by anyone, or anything. Cold wind beat against the back of the woman, giving her a chill. She giggled, and the man leaned up with a grin to remove his long overcoat. As he draped it over her shoulders, they both looked up to admire the view. It was painted in celebration of their freedom this evening, and a brightly dotted skyline was a gift fit for anyone. The man reflected on this year of pain, which brought him to the top of this lonely hill in the countryside.

Visions of sorrowful family members appeared, all mourning the death of his recently deceased father. His grief however, was ignored. His love of darker music, evident to his devout family had pushed him out of their circle of importance. They shunned him, and looked down upon him as if he was not one of their own. His persona was just clothing that he couldn’t take off, and they treated him as an outsider for it.  Their condescending gazes cut through him like a razor, and in-turn shoved him into a closet, where razors themselves were his only friends. Severe depression coalesced with acute inadequacy, and only a sacrifice of flesh and blood kept the world from overtaking him. Forsaken by his kin, he wept alone in dim corners, while riffs tore viciously at his ears through an old pair of headphones. Cracking snares made his ears ring, and he listened to the comforting shrieking of a ghoul at the head of the band. Only these lyrics could understand suffering as he did. Only these few people could make an acceptable noise to play him through this slump. Only he could grasp the power behind the words, and bring a meaning of his own to them. Only through this sound could somebody love him.

The woman closed her eyes and flashed back to the surroundings that drove her to this hill. She recalled the office; the grey walls of flimsy plastic enclosing around her like a prison of the mind. False faces mingled with the magniloquence of narcissistic colleagues; it was an exercise where they all drowned each other in an effort to remain afloat in the ocean of white-collar purgatory. She sighed while spinning around in her chair. Boredom and insignificance clutched onto her like a sickness. She hated all of this. This day meant nothing to her, and the work she “accomplished” today would be the same chore she scorned tomorrow. She wanted to be in a crowd of that which is loud, breathing in sweat and alcohol as she screamed her lungs out at her favorite group on stage. The silence stabbed her in the temples, inducing a strong headache. Home was no consolation, at all. Either out of desperation or loneliness, she chose to remain with the man who simply noticed her first. He expected much though, and upon entering the door she knew that only housework and cooking awaited her, followed by copious amounts of faith-based guilt. If she was expected to remain his woman, she would eventually have no choice but to live under a creed she didn’t share, with pseudo-morals that he didn’t even follow. Her life was a deplorable sideshow; a regrettable story that only went in a circle. Death and taxes sounded much more friendly, so long as she didn’t have to witness part two. This was not how she imagined life would go at this point, and with love now ingrained as a tyrant who sought to strip her of her identity, she longed for a day where she could simultaneously be herself, and be with others who understood this virtue. She desired a life where she could be as loud as she wanted to, and say the words she denied herself daily. She snapped out of her daze, and out of her illusion of normality. She was not of the grey world. She was different. Tonight would change everything. She would change everything. She would show her true color (or lack thereof), and it was black.

The crowd in the club was rowdy and rambunctious; this show would be a night to remember, and the masses of people swarmed with excitement. A sea of black shirts comprised this concert, as is the law at all metal performances. The house lights became faint, and with it grew the sound of the people, now buzzing with glee. The squeal of a pick hitting the string sounded, and the room erupted into chaos. Bodies soared on a sea of outstretched arms, while bottles and clothing articles flew aimlessly through the air. It was a scene of perfect insanity, and just another day in the lives of Metalheads. As if by a spark of fate, strobe lights flashed endlessly, while two sets of eyes met across the room. A handsome guy with long dark hair caught pulsating glimpses of the eyes of a beautiful girl buried beneath strawberry curls from the far corner of the pit. The two wandered mindlessly toward one another, loss in a lapse of wonder. The pounding clash of cymbals and snares echoed against the apocalyptic riff, and the two lost souls came together in a minute of clarity.

On a hill miles and hours away, these two lonely children of the riff came together to enjoy the twilight after their unforgettable meeting at the show. This wasn’t just venting the rage, despair, and isolation they felt at the hands of others; this hill would be where they consummated their metamorphosis. The man pulled out a pack of smokes. Ejecting one cigarette from the box, he gripped it with his lips and reached into his other pocket to grab his matches. With a quick swipe across the striking surface, the match ignited and he lifted it to his mouth. Before the fire touched the end of the cigarette, however, the woman plucked the lit match from his fingers and ran off down the hill. When she reached the bottom, she turned around and waved to him. She swiftly crossed a parking lot and accidentally kicked over a can of gasoline haphazardly placed on the curb. With a flick of her wrist, the burning stick sailed effortlessly into the waiting puddle at the foot of a church. The woman bolted back across the lot and onto the grassy hill where the man sat waiting. As she took her seat next to him, she leaned her head on his shoulder, smiling from ear to ear. The man smirked, and kissed her on the head. Almost in unison, they began to recite the words of the father of black metal, as the chapel stood ablaze for all to see.

“Then the clouds of death shall gather
then the night shall always burn
then the ancient prediction comes true
and the bells of fate chaime
THE RETURN…”

Fenriz, early 90's

Fenriz, early 90’s

-Jake


Devour

Dusk came, and the night brought the appealing prospect of a new beginning.

My hand gripped the wheel tight, becoming an anchor to the shaking sensation that was trying to control my every action. Trembling was not a sign of confidence, and if there was anything I desired at that moment, it was the facade of unfazed arrogance. I played an inspiring song in my head, turning the truck around to face the screen. It was another mistake in a night where oversight was determined to stomp all over my dreams.

I forced my foot to stop tapping; I knew this was a blatant retaliation of my body against my mind. The movie had already started, but it was irrelevant. It wasn’t my focus, nor did it hold the answers I sought. My eyes crept slowly to the right, more than likely in a manner less subtle than I believed it to be. Her top, a cream or pearl shade (I’m terrible with colors), held a mesh screen at its heart; the revealing neckline simultaneously alluring, and provoking to my more carnal desires. The top ended with a thick black belt, giving way to dark azure flairs of smooth cloth. Her legs, both strong and commanding, flowed down into a pair of shoes that tip-toed across my line. These devil-may-care heels were as heavy metal as you could get without stepping into evil territory. Black and studded with the softest of pseudo-spikes; it was her way of showing me she meant business. Very seldom does clothing choice inspire a sense of intrigue, but this ensemble was just good enough to fuck with me in all the wrong ways.

I sat back in my seat, attempting to lean the chair back in the vain hope that I would stop being awkward, and start being both sweet and charismatic. She grinned, the outline of her face glowing brilliantly in the reflective light of the projected screen. Whether it was a cinematic joke or an inner acknowledgement, this jovial moment struck a spark within me, setting ablaze the pyre on which I left my doubts to die.

The center console suddenly became a nucleus; a conduit that juxtaposed the chaos of my sound to the calm of hers. Fingers danced against each other in a ballet of intertwined affection. Eyes locked through lenses of plastic and acid. Her past was a cloudy mystery that gave me hope and hunger; mine, a decade of aggression that was shoved forward by haste and hatred. None of it mattered at that moment. I was lost, clawing softly for just a few more seconds of her warm fingers and delicate tendrils. The movies passed without a hitch. Stimulated by a few shared hours of epic battles and ultra-violence, I turned my eyes to the journey home, angry at nightfall for its brevity, and dawn for its swift approach.

The highway’s blur of grey flew under our feet as the soft blues rhythm of the guitar played over the speakers. Swaying melodies and soft cymbal splashes set the tone and the speed of our comfortably quiet ride. I turned my head slowly, almost trepidantly, towards her. Relaxation encompassed her in both mind and body, as she leaned her head to the side, dozing in peaceful respite. Her chest rose and sank with each breath, as an undeniable spring of relief washed over me. We had a good time, and her moment of security was the only assurance I needed.

As we pulled up to the front drive, her eyes gazed over at me. Beneath her comedic remarks about “being happy she could go to bed”, she grappled with an exhaustive look of gloom on her face. She had a good time, and I knew what she felt. I didn’t want it to pause, and it felt like an act of cruelty to do so. I just wanted her to be close. We walked slowly to her car. Inconsiderately slow. As we reached the driver’s side door, she quickly opened the door and threw her purse like a brick in a riot. Now facing each other at the end of the day’s fun, she turned her gaze up towards me. Lust met a momentary lapse of true happiness, and I graciously accepted this outcome with suppressed elation.

“Lay it on me,” she exclaimed with arms outstretched. Her scent was poison, and in that moment we locked lips for a split second. Mutually surprised by its initial display, we retracted.

“Again?” I asked with a smirk, already instigating a second encounter. She nodded, and we returned to our lock. Tongues met teeth and each other as they moved in playful repetition. When we released, all I was left with was a fading taste of her presence.

As her car slid effortlessly down the street, away from me and my newly found chasm of loss, I walked into the house, and trudged back to my room. As I collapsed on the bed, I stared up at the ceiling, clinging desperately to every single image, sound, scent, and touch of warmth I could recall. I held my phone tight. I couldn’t sleep. I knew I’d miss her if I closed my eyes.

My pain is not ashamed to repeat itself
    My pain is not ashamed to repeat itself
    My pain is not ashamed to repeat itself
    My pain is not ashamed to repeat itself
    
    I can’t sleep until I devour you
    I can’t sleep until I devour you
    I can’t sleep until I devour you
    I can’t sleep until I devour you
    
    and I’ll love you,
    if you let me
    and I’ll love you,
    if you wont make me stop…

-Jake


Reflection

At some point, you’re going to sink.

It’s inevitable, and you shouldn’t attempt to save yourself from that moment. Why not avoid devastation? Because you need this sobering moment to face a mirror and view yourself the way you would’ve five, ten, even twenty years ago. There will come a time when you will become unrecognizable to your former self, and it’s at this moment that a change occurs. Whether it’s innocence lost or morality reclaimed, a chapter closes when you glimpse what the past has wrought. I recently gained a sense of clarity thought dead for ten years.

There was a journal. In my sophomore year of high school, I entered the “Introduction to Psychology” course. My teacher, who was quite the insightful metal-head, held in high regard the personal records of all his students. At the end of every day of class we would be instructed to chronicle our emotions, fears, and beliefs in this notebook that was meant to be a haven of privacy, and a bubble of inner dialogue. It was a success, as my classmates and I spent our time furiously scribbling away in it. My section for morals and ethics though, looks surprisingly unlike a column I would write today.

In my mid-teens, I was significantly more of an optimist than in current days. Throughout my four years of losing the mass of innocence I started with, I held it self-evident that all people should be respected for who they are and what they believe in. There was no doubt in my mind that good and bad are absolutes, that are completely dependent on each person’s nature and nurture. I never questioned that “in the real world”, every person who was on your team was working their hardest to accomplish a common objective, or believed in the greater good of a project or task. I believed that if you were the best at something, then you were the prime candidate.

These tenets all have one trait in common:

They’re untrue.

Not all people should be respected. You could hold that up as a grand standard to dealing with anyone, but you would be lying to yourself and anyone you preach it to. We’re all human, and despite how much you might self-righteously claim to respect all people for who they are, some people have codes of conduct and honor that have deteriorated so much that they’re more comparable to animals, begging to only sustain the most fundamental empty desires of blood and flesh. It’s okay to not respect everyone. Some people just don’t deserve it. They think so lowly of everyone around them, that you would still be thinking higher of them than they of you. Just remember there are lines that separate them from you, and those lines must be upheld. Respect is earned, not given.

Regardless of what you believe, a person’s morality can be shifted slightly north or south of the status quo. Powerful feelings get in the way. Feelings that complicate the process and can cause people to commit terrible acts on their behalf. Feelings that can bring out bravery in one who never thought it possible. Great notions can lead to heroic deeds, but can alternatively lead to disaster. Passion, greed, animosity, selflessness, and pride; all accidents in the grand schism of good and bad, and claiming absence to their existence in the formation of a person is a simple and efficient way to make the world appear to be less than it is.

Not everyone is climbing the ladder at the same pace you are. Some people are sitting on the ladder, waiting for something magical to happen. Others are climbing back down, too afraid of how much further they have to climb, or what they found when they got there. Some are breaking out the rungs as they climb, trying viciously to prevent their peers from ever getting a foot-up in their lives. Finally, there are a select few sitting at the bottom of the ladder with a set of matches, ready to burn the whole thing down when they feel everyone else has gone too far.

If you have done your job right, you may not be enough. If you have filled out every checklist to the best of your abilities, you might only be good. Even if you surpass all your rivals, triumph over every challenge, and leap over every hurdle, you might only be satisfactory. “Best” and “favorite” are strange terms to throw around, and they are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes, you need something a little extra to push past people’s expectations. Tragically enough, sometimes different beats strong. Whether or not you can accept that will undoubtedly change you. I will tell you that success is not measured by numbers though. How victorious you feel can only be measured by how much punishment you’re willing to take, and if you’re able to endure.

Do yourself a favor. When you finally get a look at yourself, stare hard. You’ll realize I’m not lying, and everything you thought you knew about yourself snuck out the back door with your original ambitions. Once you’ve had enough, smash your fucking internal mirror. It is possible to forgive yourself and like who you are, even if you don’t like everything about what you’ve transformed into. In fact, you might think it an odd transition and joke about how you would’ve looked down upon yourself years ago.

I believe I would look strange to my former self.

I’ve become a fairly cynical, remotely unsuccessful, passive-aggressive, callous, selfish, vulgar, vengeful, ethically-challenged smart-ass with a talent for everything in the field of nothing. I’m an acute observer of the irreducibly obtuse, and a realist cursed with idealism. I’m stricken by hope in an age where I’ve already taught myself to abandon it all. I scorn the hero with bad intentions, and revere the villain with a conscience. I think peace is a bitter mask for belligerence, while war is an ideal ending for antagonists. I think the pen is mightier than the sword, unless you HAVE a sword, in which case use that. I’m intimidating to others; tragically, it’s my kindness that makes people uncomfortable. I’m Frankenstein’s monster without the facade, I’m a religious metal-head with no god, and I can’t get behind what I do when I’m always in my own way. I’ve led my herd to a slaughterhouse, and I beat a dead horse until blood paints the walls, all while having a field day in a desert.

I’m going to break my mirror now. I guess I was just tired of wallowing comfortably in a jacuzzi of my own-self loathing.

So crucify the ego, before it’s far too late
And leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical
And you will come to find that we are all one mind
Capable of all that’s imagined and all conceivable

-Jake

 


Great Big White World

Happy 2014, children.

While I constantly receive the urge to write, I admit that over the past year I have grown so critical of my own work that I refuse to hit “publish” until I am absolutely sure it’s perfect. Then, once I am satisfied and have pressed the button I enter a panicked frenzy where I’m caught second-guessing every other line, and quotation as sounding too cliché or simply idiotic. It’s a new year though, so I should probably resolve to stop doing that.

…Or are resolutions too cliché?

The good news is that I haven’t run short on things to observe in my mundane existence, and I still feel obligated to throw war-paint all over them in order to get my point across. I should hit pretty close to home for some of you today, and I’d like to think there are many people who are not only familiar with this epidemic, but loathe it to the extent that I do.

Life as we know it is a never-ending grind through monotonous tasks, plastered smiles, and fleeting climaxes all gift-wrapped as the “experience of a lifetime“. We’re all stuck together in a system that dances circles like the hands on a clock, and much like the clock you can go insane from taking too hard of a look at it. That moment turns into an excruciatingly cruel reminder of why it is that people take vacations, and why therapists exist. However, for that unlucky crowd of isolated units who don’t have their own handful of happiness, or a vice to drown out that emptiness-  life is just their own personal tale as Sisyphus.

It’s one thing to be able to look at the world around you from an emotional gutter. The world seems like a utopia that you’re barred from, where you’re forced to face a sea of pairs, being carried effortlessly upwards towards some golden skyline. It’s an entirely different issue altogether to turn towards your small corner of the world, and view one of your own throwing happiness at you like a trophy.

The first world we inhabit is not a cooperative community, where we strive to flourish as a whole and better ourselves. It’s not even a large raft where we’re all fighting for survival in a chaotic sea while trying to keep each other afloat. Our world has become a vast ocean where millions of tiny islands dot the surface mere inches from one another. It’s a lonely grid where everyone is close enough to reach out and touch each other, but tragically lack the companionship and altruism required to bring others closer to them.

As an adult, you’re forced to confront the fact no one is there to help you. You’re on your own, and people feel the need to consistently remind you of this. Upon leaving high-school, an image is drilled into your head of what you have to earn. It’s a terrible, uninspiring image that few should ever consider. The “American Dream“, a picture so grim that Philip K. Dick made it a tragedy in all of its banal glory in A Scanner Darkly. In retrospect, my entire childhood was based around a loosely translated panorama of the 1950’s where the perfect family unit sits together watching their first color TV and dreaming of a world where technology makes all their fantasies come to life.

The reality could be no further from the truth. My ever-shrinking list of family and friends have turned into a social-media propaganda squad, whose only apparent mission is to rise higher than the rest of their peers. This sad portrait is repeated daily like a chore, where they exchange hollow pleasantries momentarily before unfurling a new list of pseudo-achievements to gloat over. When they exhaust their reserve of words for their success, they quickly switch to a bulky slideshow of recently recorded personal victories, as they cluster together with acquaintances and strangers to paste a smile on and show off the exotic places and strange attractions they’ve visited. It’s a cruel injustice to this amazing planet that we live on, that we’ve become so obsessed with capturing the perfect moments on camera that we’ve completely neglected to take part in, or savior them.

I no longer crave the loud, and crowded parties where seemingly popular people gather to have the time of their lives. I care not for the three-piece suit and the slick appearance of being a hotshot in a trade with no character and no mind of my own. I can’t picture the group of friends locked shoulder-to-shoulder in brotherly and sisterly affection. I don’t buy the millions of photos depicting happy couples locked in a tender kiss. I don’t believe that anyone who engages in this ritualistic, digital sadomasochism ever receives the pleasure they seek from it.

Our world will share a common regret when everyone stops competing for who can look the prettiest for the longest amount of time. I sincerely hope that someday soon people begin trying to write their story in ink, and stop standing still in the hopes that someone will paint it for the ages to gawk at and admire. You should not be impressed by those around you who actively seek to set a “life-example” for you to follow. As young as I am, I’ve come to realize that life is much less of a hassle when you don’t take it too seriously.

It’s also a lot less cruel when you stop wishing to appear happy, and actually start being happy.

Because it’s a great big white world
And we are drained of our colors
We used to love ourselves,
We used to love one another

-Jake


None Becoming

There are many tales of tragedy and woe, but none I know quite as well as the tale of my gaming community.

The tragedy of my clan is not of the sort where death and painful misfortune strike incessantly, eventually bringing the protagonist(s) down to a point of inconsolable misery. It’s not of the hero who marches onward towards their demise, knowing that glory and certain defeat await them. This story revolves around a self-inflicted wound, and the irreparable damage caused by the inaction of many.

Though it has decayed into the city of Terminus, The Sic originally was a flourishing haven for the weary soul; those who had been out in the purgatory of the average gaming group, and had experienced for themselves the lackluster attitude of those whose entire frame of reference was built around statistics, and dull number values. They came to us with the hope of belonging. We gave to them a purpose, and a potential to thrive so long as they were willing to commit to the cause. This presented people with a unique opportunity to actively become social with others from our legion, and work together to accomplish goals thought unobtainable by most others. For a time, we not only proved this true; we set the bar for other groups to follow in suit.

Despite the greatest efforts to keep a sense of stability within our walls, the group has collapsed on itself. The reason? One could make the argument that we no longer had anything left to offer people, and people have attempted pushing that story. That however, is only a half-truth. Another tale woven is that we’ve switched theater of operation too often. Notable, but also false considering it was the only aspect that allowed us to retain a large base of operations for each game we entered into. The actual reason is hilariously simple, and in retrospect I lose my mind thinking about the one word its anthology of examples demonstrates:

Sloth.

An infuriating pattern has emerged over the past couple of years, that has slowly killed off the remainder of my team. While I believed they all fully understood the necessary actions that are required to maintain the status quo of the clan, I no longer believe this to factor into their decision-making abilities. There are only a few facets that require attention from high-ranking officers within the group. The first, is a reasonable rate of activity. This is simply a reassurance for the sake of your members. The second action, is organization. Whether we’re talking members and ranks, game branches and items, or website users and backgrounds, people take a person seriously who can at least be counted on to have a checklist completed by the end of the day. The last action, is of course, recruiting. Without getting people in the door, your gaming clan is doomed to fail.

Therein lies the issue. If you have a gaming clan who isn’t willing to recruit, organize the assets or follow the protocol of the clan, let alone show up at all, then you’re better off throwing in the towel. That’s not a team-effort; it’s a sign that they’re digging your grave.

Allow me to explain what it takes to keep an organization that you care about running. Whether that is keeping your business afloat, trying to promote a cause that you believe is worthy of public attention, or even something as trivial as a gaming clan- this rule still applies. You can’t half-ass your endeavors of any size, and you can’t just sit idly by and hope someone else will do your job for you. If you want a task completed (especially a large one, mind you), it takes more than just what you can offer “when you have time”.

It takes SACRIFICE.

During my eight years managing The Sic, I’ve learned the hard way a dozen times that you have to give up quite a few things that you normally wouldn’t if you want to succeed, and in the process I may have given up a couple of things I probably shouldn’t have. For the sake of continuity, I’ve skipped countless amounts of social engagements that friends had invited me to, as well as a handful of events that these people considered important. I’ve let go of multiple opportunities to network for my career in a new environment, with new people under new circumstances. I’ve willingly buried a fairly successful relationship, and almost another that was my final straw before I finally took my leave. All this I did for the “greater good”, but in reality it was out of a vain sense of responsibility, resting on a mantle that I alone did not have to carry. Only now do I come to accept the sad truth that perhaps I had a misplaced sense of trust, because I presumed others cared as much about our survival as I did.

I know now that people don’t want to sacrifice. They claim they have no time, and conjure outlandish narratives to make it seem as if there is nothing more they could do to show their faces than what they already are. They present apologies, and deflect when presented with inquiry, all while shielding a surreptitious agenda. Most insulting of all is this facade that I’ve never seen end; this cruel world in which no one can just inform me that they’re finished, and that it’s best to simply mark their journey as completed. I have learned my lesson, and thus have played Captain for the last time. If people understand that you’re willing to take the helm even when they’re not there, they feel no remorse about abandoning their posts. It’s the insecurity of not being able to step up and take the wheel when another crew member falls. It’s the shame of calling others your friends, just to leave them to their devices when the obstacles become too great to climb, and it’s the cowardice of not being able to face them, as you run away from your shared problems and pretend you’re too busy to notice the flaming hulk of the ship you’re escaping.

I never left the helm of my ship. I might’ve stepped aside, and even sat back to observe others as they tried their hand at steering, but when the lifeboats were all gone and the crew was sailing furiously into the darkness of the night, I somehow still managed to find myself clutching onto a burning bridge. Much as you start with nothing in the field of leadership, so do you end with nothing.

The dust has settled in
The broken structure
Is now one with
This shattered beauty
In timeless indifference
Become one, become none

-Jake

 

 


The Silence In Between

As I place my hands on the smooth oak surface of the desk, I lean forward within close proximity of the microphone. The unpleasant humming of the dead-air through my headphones reminds me that people are listening to nothing. This is my opportunity, and I’ve yet to speak. The question, so piercing and rhetorical in structure that up until my awkward moment of clarity, I had all but dismissed it. My comfort level quickly fading, I turned towards my familiar soundboard to start a new musical track, but no images were detected. The brightly-lit LED monitor was now dead; what remained was an inconvenient herald that I should no longer evade inquiry.

My chair swiveled in place, and I heard the echoing voice repeat its question. The accusatory tone of the faceless female brought red to my face as she delivered her query.

“What is wrong with you?”

I laugh it off nervously, and respond with a defensive form of sarcasm.

“A lot of things are wrong with me. I’m hungry, for one. I feel slightly sexually deprived, and I don’t have enough happy-thoughts in my life. Does that answer your question?”

I’m met only by the cold, isolating static from the opposite end of the call. Believing her to be annoyed, I crack a grin and return to the mic.

“Well, I guess that wasn’t what you were looking for, was it?” I ask smugly while spinning in my chair. I attempt to provoke a response from her.

“For asking such a broad question, you sure don’t sound as if you want it answered! I mean, come on. You want to know what is “wrong” with me? Well, assuming that your standards are as ridiculous as I think they are; I think I know exactly what is wrong with me, by your definition.

1) I use too much profanity.

2) I take a perspective that is a bit too realistic for your taste.

3) I undoubtedly speak on topics that offend you quite often.

Last but not least, I’m more than certain that you’re one of the self-righteous lunatics who thinks if people don’t live by your definition of morality, then they must fall under some lesser category of human. Did I get that right, sweetheart?”

I lean back against the black leather of my chair, and wait for the tears to flow. However, much to my surprise and dismay- I still have no audience. White noise feeds into the tiny pentagonal room, causing me a relative sense of uneasiness. My frustration mounting, I scoot forward in my chair, ever closer to cold silver of the studio microphone. I don’t feel like a wonderful personality anymore, though. The mic turns into a shiny metallic betrayal-receiver that awaits my every word and action. I’m not having a good time, and as much as I wish for her not to know that, I won’t be able to control my tone on the air as well as I should hope. I fold my left leg over the top of my right knee, and take a moment to steady my thoughts. Did she hang up? Is the communication so terrible, that she believes she is talking to me right now, and I just can’t hear her? Is she deliberately holding out for some type of profound answer that isn’t coming? Whatever the reason, it’s up to me to bring this silly charade to a close.

“Look, I don’t really know what sort of social-experiment you’re attempting to complete here, but I do know that I’ve answered your idiotic question to the best of my abilities. If you can’t handle that, then it’s not my problem. Besides, if you don’t like me then you shouldn’t be tuning into my station in the first place. You do realize you have the illusion of freedom at your disposal, don’t you? I highly recommend you try it sometime. The way it works is:

You don’t listen to my broadcast.

I don’t say things that make you call-in.

You don’t ask me stupid things.

We don’t get in this awkward position we’re in right now.

Now, isn’t that much faster than spending hours trying to think of something potentially intriguing to ask me? Now you can leave, and I can get back to what I was doing!”

Satisfied, I leaned onto the left armrest, resting my cheek inside my left palm. I didn’t want to hear her response. I just wanted the person screening my calls (whoever they were), to do their job and get rid of the little mouse. She had grown beyond the point of humorous; my patience was draining quickly and the only thing I could think of to give me some peace was the fact I still had the power to cut her off. It seemed though, that regardless of what I wanted to do, I would be forced to endure another long, dramatic pause. As if the static wasn’t bad enough, now I was having an internal revolution. The lady had brought this on herself. If she wanted an actual answer to her question, she was going to get it.

I quickly vaulted from the seat of the chair, and kicked it to the back wall. As I leaned forward, I could hear the thump as the rolling stopped suddenly against the soundproof wall. I clutched the base of the microphone, shifting it upwards so I wouldn’t have to be stuck in such an uncomfortable position while on my tirade. I gripped it like a vocalist at a heavy metal concert, wanting to vent all my rage out on my aggressor. As innocuous as the original question had been phrased, I now took it as a personal attack on my character. An anonymous ad hominem of astronomical proportions that I would not tolerate from some whiny, spineless female with a phone.

“Well, Ms. moral-compass…I don’t exactly know what is wrong with me. I can give you a handy list though, so that you can draw it up on a fine piece of paper, laminate it, and distribute it to the one friend you do fucking have! Let’s start here. I am stuck living in some twilight reality that I’ve gone and expunged all optimistic views I had about the world around me. I don’t like the people in it, because I view the majority of them as a swarming mass of pseudo-moral loving troglodytes who are pining away for some world of lore that only the mind of Huxley could’ve conjured. I don’t want to anesthetize myself to things around me, because it’s a lot more enjoyable to be depressed that most of the things I don’t like about my setting are obstacles I can’t change from my end. My only useful skill that I’ve used in the past five years has on some level made use of continuous self-loathing, and everything else I can do somehow never seems to quite live up to a standard I view as acceptable. I want to be social and the moment I step out to do it, I remember exactly why isolation was my only choice from the start. I can’t take any pertinent actions that I’m happy with, because if it has to do with something that matters I’m stuck in a suspended form of self-doubt, where I don’t want to take a risk if I know it could fail. Everything seems like a doomsday clock that is growing ever closer to a point where I break, but it never quite seems to get close enough to strike midnight.

…But you know what’s really wrong with me, lady? I don’t like you. I don’t like having to listen to the sound of my own voice, and I don’t like me. I’m done.”

I slid my headphones off, and shoved the microphone so hard the opposite direction the shock-stand vibrated in place. I put my back against the opposite wall, and edged down to have a seat. I put my head between my knees, and watched the studio lights dim as the static faded.

Then I woke up.

-Jake


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