How Not to Suck at Life: The Almost Week From Hell

The almost week from hell began last Sunday, which was such a contrast to the moments before. That Friday I had met up with an old friend and watched the first day of SXSW unfold from the vantage point of his apartment, an ultra modern unit right on East 6th with a small terrace overlooking absolutely everything.

At first I was annoyed that we weren’t getting drunk like everyone else, but at the same time I was entertained by the awkward activity taking place below us – mainly girls talking about how much they love cock and men with puffed out chests and stiff shoulders wobbling toward West 6th in a synchronized swagger, like Emperor penguins marching toward their ancestral breeding ground.

A man at least twice our age noticed a comfortable patch of grass near the sidewalk and veered off, narrowly missing the unforgiving concrete that almost dealt some serious damage to his swollen face. Two women who looked like out of place hospice nurses scolded him in embarrassment and helplessly began to hoist his arms off the ground like two flies lifting a watermelon.

Just when I thought he had passed out for good, a man walking by gave drunk boy an alleged look and mouthed some sort of obscenity, which triggered his latent testosterone. And the ticking time bomb rose like a Phoenix from the ashes only to unleash an anti-climactic, sloppy uppercut on the passerby.

His chaperones screamed and justifiably threw his ass back on the ground before anyone of real authority could witness the pathetic antics that were unfolding before our sober eyes. With a look that can only be described as the most incredible mean mug I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing, the ladies joined forces and transformed into a single dominant she-devil who then ordered the instigating plebeian to “take his shit elsewhere.”  And that was that.

My friend took us next door where his floormate supposedly awaited us with chilled vodka (but only because his real plans had failed), and after we rushed through the obligatory introductions: “hi,” “hello,” potions were brewed and not before long we got tipsy and decided to watch twerk videos together.

A group of attractive Frenchmen arrived and I was instantly captivated by their collective je ne sais quoi. Our host was very generous with his bar setup and everything from the iced bottles that glistened to the plump limes to the silver straws that chilled my lips kicked the ass of my usual $10 wine. There was a man named Yann who I found especially interesting, not because of any sexual attraction (his boyfriend was right there), it was his confidence as a well-traveled enthusiast of the world that reduced me to a flirty schoolgirl. I didn’t hate it.

After a few more drinks and a few more semi-pornographic twerk vids, we went outside for a smoke and he told me about the time he flew over the Pacific and was personally invited to behold the fucking earth from the cockpit itself. “You have not flown until you have seen the view of a piolet!” he said. He seemed like that guy who not only gets invited to do marvelous things, but also the rare breed who has the heart and the capacity to appreciate them. After an hour of chats and drinks and smokes, my friend and I left and so began the week of almost hell.

I spent the next day nursing a hangover and invited my sister to drive up for bonding, or something. We had dinner and in a rare flash of vulnerability, she opened up to me about her relationship and all the things that were worrying her. She made me smile because I know she’ll be fine. Despite all the passive aggressive shit we’ve bestowed on one another throughout the years, one of the things that has always motivated me is her and my younger brother. To guide them, encourage them, help them avoid some of my mistakes.

The next day, Sunday, the day my almost week from hell began, we drove downtown to get coffee and a girl from L.A. slammed into my car. To make a long story short, I was mortified that my sister was in the car with me. Nobody was hurt, it was very minor, but she is my sister. The person I’ve always tried to protect, and if that car had impacted but a foot closer to the passenger’s seat…I try not to think about it. I didn’t want to face anyone. My friends were so concerned and loving and reassuring, all I wanted to do was attack them for being so nice to me. I was angry because I felt vulnerable all of a sudden, and that way of thinking leads you down the rabbit hole to isolation and self-loathing. I begin to think about the costs of fixing the minor dents in my car, then I became furious with myself for allowing my consciousness to drift away from sister and onto the material repercussions. My mother says that I am many great things, but that my downfall will be my inability to let anyone in when I’m in pain. But like anything else, it takes self-awareness and time for our misgivings to heal.

That evening a friend whom I had lost touch with called me fortuitously and nurtured me with, not sympathy -I didn’t deserve that – but presence. Hearing a familiar, unthreatening, gentle voice was a soothing salve to a sickening afternoon. I walked around the block and we talked about the nature of time and how it’s the only real arbiter of suffering. Let me take a moment to say that I know I’m being such a fucking melodramatic victim, stay with me.

Monday morning was the worst but I had a job to do and my officemates rule. Say what you want about the Machine and how schedules and obligations make societal slaves of us all, but sometimes when all you want is to recede from the world and stew in your self-loathing, what you need most is that nagging voice in your head that says, “People are depending on you. Pull yourself together.”

That night I was invited to a party and every atom within me surged and sent signals to my brain saying don’t you dare go. So I did something I haven’t done in a year, put on my Converse that are a half size too big and went for a run. I ran until I felt sick and that light headedness felt good and cathartic because I wanted to feel physical pain. I ran until I saw red spots, then walked it out for another mile. I only have five songs on my iPhone, which happen to be from Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album. Thank you Dustin for showing it to me. I don’t know if it was endorphins, dehydration, mania or the Floyd, but I started laughing wildly at the sky and then everything was okay. I don’t want to tell you what I was thinking when I stared into that darkening expanse, mostly because it doesn’t matter, but I realized that this sadness eating me was nothing more than a returning visitor. At some point you look it straight in the eye and decide that you’re going to be brave, understand its presence rather than fear it.

After a cold shower I put on a dress that, I don’t mind telling you, is very sexy. The party was at one of the most posh and exclusive places I’ve ever seen, my code name to get in was Faith Ferratucie (Ferrah-too-chee) and just when I started to believe that SXSW was some fucked up harbinger of doom, I met the most down-to-earth CEOs, founders and assistant bitch boys in tech. One of them was Russian and we talked about Dostoyevsky and had grapefruit vodka and devoured succulent heure d’oeuvres. But then he wouldn’t stop staring at my breasts, so I gave him a fake number and took his business card. Another guy I met was from New York and we talked about his wife who is a chemist dedicated to cancer research. The way the talked about her made me almost fucking cry right there, but his boss interrupted and handed me a drink (which I demanded he first sip in front of me. You can’t be too careful).

Boss and I talked about God knows what, I was a little drunk. But there was more talk of breasts, so I felt relieved when the cops came in and made everyone leave. After that we went to Swan Dive and I met a dance crew, also from New York, premiering their documentary at Southby. They were tight as shit and on a better day I would have asked for a performance! But then I got into an argument with a law student about the Upanishads because we were both drunk, and all I remember is he was actually very cool and I couldn’t stop laughing.

The rest of the week was spent dealing with USAA, reports, statements, explaining to my understanding parents, running and yoga because I’m working on a nice lil’ bod for Summer. I’m sorry if this is boring, and I commend you for reading it. But this was a big week for me. Your 20’s are hard man.

Scribbling In Books > Scribbling in Journals & What I’m Currently Reading

Frankly, the bare, ashen-faced paper of journals terrifies me. I much prefer to jot my thoughts in books since the process of adding and contributing is more effortless than making something out of nothing. And this preference of writing in the margins is two-fold: my shy and blushing reflections get to sprawl out, comfortably but discreetly, in the shade cast by greater wisdom.

Currently Reading: “Heaven and Hell” by Aldous Huxley

Metaphors express very forcibly the essential otherness of the mind’s far continents, the complete autonomy and self-sufficiency of their inhabitants. A man consists of what I may call an Old World of personal consciousness and, beyond a dividing sea, a series of New Worlds – the not too distant Virginias and Carolinas of the personal subconscious and the vegetative soul; the Far West of the collective unconscious, with its flora of symbols, its tribes of aboriginal archetypes; and, across another, vaster ocean, at the antipodes of everyday consciousness, the world of Visionary Experience.

*side note: “The Doors of Perception” is brilliant

Sky Deities Are Curious, Too

Nephelai nymphs work their masterful fingers into the upper atmosphere, pinching peaks and digging troughs with that solid tool between the palm and wrist. Sylphs give a tender moment to contemplating the novelties of life below the clouds: the enjoyment of processes like weather and recreations like bathing in the rain. Being marooned on ground wouldn’t be such a bad thing, they thought. Their world is constantly obscured by a wet and opaque effluvium of mist, tiny droplets of water crystals, everywhere; the percussive and imperious thundering overhead is a harbinger of visitation: the sky’s trumpeting signals an upper society’s collective will to journey into the ‘tierra incognita’. The nephelai nymphs and the elemental sylphs navigate the cloud in the same way that Porphyrius steers his golden chariot, and the moisture miasma wanders down like a vessel, transporting goddesses from the atmosphere onto earth. It only makes sense, we fly our planes straight into the heart of clouds, the equally mobile sky deities are bound to enshroud our cities. If you happen to see an ethereal goddess peeking through the misty veil, welcome her gently.

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Nick & Lauren vs. the Cosmos

I recently sat down with Nick from Nick vs. the Podcast and we exchanged personal stories of fuckups and triumphs, the neurosis of creative-thinkers, why God is an enigmatic poet, book overload as a response to unemployment, the mindblowingly beautiful immensity of Space, and other fun blather. This is proof that I can’t hold a conversation without bombarding my companion with “um” “you know” and “like.” But I assure you, Nick is an intelligent comedian who makes up for my articulative deficiency.

I often feel trapped within the folds of my many daydreams, which are as flush as the zinnia’s petals and as self-ruling as the prolific wisteria.

If I may give personality to my individual daydreams allow me to call them my muses, and allow me to tell you how and why each of my muses steers the wind in their particular favor. In this way, they erode lofty hills and imposing mountains down to uniformity and they re-route the ambrosial breezes that carry fallen flowers. The many muses level the topography and summon every rare and exotic blossom (with limited terrain and plant extinction to consider, imagine the disputes among them!) to create smooth and seductive pathways into their own private residences. With a willing hand does each beckon me.  It is my immediate thought that the muses are curiously forceful and excessively generous, but quickly do my thoughts feel very eager to wander. Here I am urged to choose among rivaling temptations, each masked by their masterfully erected gardens, tailored to my supposed liking, and a veil of benevolent verisimilitude.  They were like vendors who, to entice you into their shops and away from competitors, decorate with displays of glittering ornaments and ribbons made of beautiful fabrics. The muses’ eager biddings persuaded me like an intoxicating perfume and bade me into submission – submission to the immersive reverie of that muse’s invention. And in the process of walking down a path embellished with the flowers and smells of my deepest liking, I very nearly slipped into an impregnable and eternal hypnosis. Lost in the dreaming state forever.  So delicious do all the muses’ spells seem to taste!

But then, something in the restive desperation of competition struck me as unsettling. With so many proffered hands escorting me down random paths of thought, an impression of impending duress hung in the air. And with greater awareness did I smell the overpowering sweetness of their copious gardens and with a keener eye did I compare these empyrean muses to scheming specters. Soon did my sobering suspicion force a disruption in the streaming euphoria of daydreaming, and no later did I descry the deceitful duty of all these muses. What first appeared to be a clash among overbearing paths of thought were, in reality, calculated distractions allied under an ulterior motive: to divert my simple contemplations away from a diviner passage that does not stretch toward the horizon, where the muses configured their roads, but upward toward the everlasting heavens. Nothing below the clouds interested me anymore. The defeated musings, now nothing more than displaced soldiers from a forgotten war, disappeared into their gardens.  As is often the case for anybody who survives some first line of defense, be it in battle or on a cumulative exam, I felt the displeasure of confronting an adversary whose nature I could not yet fully understand. Vertically reorienting myself in the direction of some overzealously protected place, I felt like an archeologist who had just unearthed a sacred map to the divine state.

II.

Fulfilling the vertical passage toward a sacred jewel is like reaching for the crown atop a perpetuating stem of thorns, whose every pierce declares a warning – a cautioning whose underlying threat multiples with elevation.  Pity the elevated spirit, few in number but in whom lies a richness of heart,  for when the encroaching seeker transcends every obstacle and stands at the foot of actualization, he or she will be confronted by an immortal sentry whose loyalty is deeply venerated in the sacredness (though, it seems more in the exclusivity) of enlightenment. So the seraph’s animus billows with furry at the sight of a brave and honest mortal, and a final devastation is released. And this is thrice more treacherous than all that came before.  In the service of many a king have imperial armies bestowed such perilous messages of ruin to their enemies, and like the high guardians of antiquity whose supreme purpose is treated as destiny – a purpose not just written in the stars but created in the celestial inferno, seared into existence by stars’ conflagrations – these impeding and inexorable powers nobly assume this duty. They are profound and terrifying, challenging the seeker’s every motive, disrupting the stability of the voyager’s every atom, mercilessly dissecting and scrutinizing,  then seizing the fragile who can no longer cope.   So you see, the journey to self-realization is actually a crusade against a ferocity of legacy, and ascending such heights requires a delicate maneuvering, where at the apex is a watchful eye fended by her sleepless angels.

III.

My ascension, however humble in objective, is marked with suspicion anon and I’m greeted by the imposing forces of a deity who wishes to remain unseen.  Even though religion has not bloomed inside my heart, every day I feel the wind pulling me toward a private, sacred service where awaits a truth more valuable than all the treasures of the world, yet it’s more inaccessible than the mysteries of physical reality!  Just as I would expect the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca to be strenuous before it can be sublime, it is not without the expectation of struggle that I begin to feel beneath me a quivering. A mild tremor disrupted the air like a stone disrupts a stagnant lake. It sought not to harm me, because that sinister growl was merely the delivered promise of a more mild messenger, a promise of eventual confrontation and implacable strife. That inhospitable greeting appeared to me as permission to try, at least try, to make the ascent into self-actualization. Every day I call into question the ethics of such a journey and the stupidity of a private voyage into the abyss, and not until I become a stranger to the servitudes of self-doubt and fear can I strive toward that absolute and profound apex.

[end of pt.1]

Sky Soup

We lay down in an endless field, eating stars garnished with cosmic dust, drinking metallic sky soup with porcelain spoons, satiating our bodies with astral ember. Primordial elements laced with gold and silver. Tastes so good; we devour until we beat like pulsars and your eyes become the exquisite marbles of furious supernovae. Once transfigured and immortal, the vital seed bursts from the protective human flesh. Infinity is an eternal loop, the perpetual transmission of energy. The heart of the cosmos pulses in unison with my heart. The brain of the cosmos communicates with my brain. The fingers of the cosmos intertwine with my fingers. We’re now the rays of the Sun, the rays of Gamma, the darkest matter, the omnipresent buzz of the Universe you’ll never see but always feel.

How catering to a cat’s morning ritual became a matter of revelation

Before  giving the day even a shred of  thought, I start my morning with a cup of coffee out on the terrace and an hour of reading. Likewise, Cat is unfazed by all the urgent matters billowing at her feet and begins each morning with a saucer of premium wet food, then, when satiated, joins me outside for an hour of divertissement.

Cat gets mildly irritated if I fail to observe our ritual.

And understandably so: She’s middle-aged, probably overweight, and doesn’t have many opportunities to throw her legs into a 90° angle and perform her licking frenzy for the world for brain stimulation. At the outset of my living agreement with human roommate, I suggested that we allay her developing ailments with measured doses of fresh air. But, as is often times the case, I have been manipulated by my feline bedfellow – what started out as an informal understanding, a gesture of courtesy, has now turned into a condition of occupancy.

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It is with recognition of my privileged life that I say a low point for me is digging into an ashtray in search of unfinished cigarettes.

I think smoking is vile. To paraphrase Vonnegut, it’s prolonged suicide. But I need help tonight and it’s without mystery that with the aid of this disgusting smolder, suppressed sensitivities are inspired to float up to the moon-lit surface and make themselves visible for study.

So now that I’ve unleashed the muffled bedlam of pain and pleasure, where do I begin?

It occurs to me that it would be proper to begin at the beginning – the birthplace, the source. The beginning of my descent fits compactly within the context of my mutual relationship, however vague and undefined, where the sudden loss of a life once characterized by independence and independent decision-making has been a reverberating, crippling force. And with the acidic undertones of a true misanthrope, I say: To usher in the consequences of another person’s inconsistencies and biases and judgements is to no longer be protected from the reality of human madness; and it is fundamentally illogical to bring someone else’s disorder unto yourself. It took a year of existing outside of a relationship for me to jettison “the crazy,” and I was certainly not keen to reintroduce another person’s emotional complexity to my own. But this complex that I am hazily referring to, the mania behind the manifold human spirit, is the nature of consciousness, and it cannot be helped.

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Do you ever have the destructive urge to take a pair of scissors and liquidate your wardrobe into ribbons?

These August temperatures have me in a grip; though not unbearable nor unprecedented, not even unreasonable, they’ve transformed the Texas borderline into an inexorable brick-wall: On the outside are air currents of horizontal winds and vertical drafts, a remedial cooling grid; on the inside, a very unpleasant calefaction of moisture-less swells stewed by fatiguable heat.

It’s like living inside a piece of toast.

So as I was getting dressed this morning, I decided to modify my old t-shirts into climate appropriate styles. My flawed approach was straightforward – put down the chipotle vegetarian chorizo quesadilla long enough to commit to surgery –  and I can’t sincerely suggest duplicating my rugged chopping and trimming.

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The air was as thick and suffocating as the Valkyrie Brunhilde’s bosom when it occurred to me that I am a hopeless and veritable dunce. Or, Hiking Without Water

Historically, this is the hottest week of the year. So as a great and dependable fool regarding matters of the outdoors, I ignored all precautions, spread my arms like a lower case ‘t’, and received the Texas death wave for a mid-day rendezvous at a nearby trail. Actually, in a less poetic but equally dramatic fashion, I stormed out of the apartment after roommate and I had an argument. In an outrage over some matter that now escapes me, I threw a dilapidated copy of Thoreau’s “Walden,” a notebook, and crappy headphones into a backpack, then swore on the hammer of Thor that I would NOT be back for dinner.

These are the delusions I concocted during that hike:

“Scorched Earth”

Subtle reminder of my bad judgment and capriciousness.

“Wannabe Umbrage”

I read that cactus spines are actually modified leaves. I wonder…what will become of the superfluous human pinky!?

“Lola”

Long story short, at one point I really did think I was going to shrivel up like one of the flowers pressed between my notebook pages, so I tried to put my mind at ease with a little delving into “Walden”.  I find Thoreau to be so diverting that all the singular sounds of nature condensed into a subtle hum, until one proximate crunching forced a disruption in that impalpable music. I looked up and straight into 20 brilliant black eyes – still and absolute, like infinite pools. I’ve encountered a lot of white-tailed deer growing up, but this was the first time I felt like I was trespassing in their domain. I felt far from my element and very vulnerable, which is kind of embarrassing to admit since they’re so docile.

So I tried my best to camouflage myself by emanating innocence (which is weird) and radiating Earthyness (which is potentially even more silly. I’m glad you weren’t there).  After the deer supposed that I was probably just some kooky pagan, they continued moving forward into the brush – except for one. She hung around long enough for me to name her Lola.

Lola ate a few berries that had earlier jumped off the trees to their death. I felt very much in harmony with her tranquility. And then Lola joined the others, who by now had resumed their recreations on a flowery hill. Then dehydration hit and I swore the deer elongated and transformed into a grove of trees.

“Sleeping Natives”

And then I came across an indigenous tribe, transported by deep slumber but with spears dutifully erect.

“Juniperus Jerks”

These Periwinkle beads, a.k.a. Juniper berries, are actually modified conifer cones – not berries. They are used as a spice and give gin its flavor.

“Names To Be Determined”

Every time I walk this trail, and in this exact spot, I find these two geese doing one of three things: eating, gossiping, or pooping. On this day, I interrupted a private doody session that I am still sorry about. I literally apologized for my careless amble and for the shoe imprint that defaced one vital piece of poo that completed an elaborate mosaic of poo leading up to the bird’s downy posterior.

“The Insidious Gracula Smack-you-up-ulas”

I lazily refer to all blackbirds as Grackles, without taking time to learn and identify all the nuances within the domineering Passerine clan. So, in attempting to reverse my unrefined and inelegant method of categorization, I did some research but – there’s always a “but”- my efforts were  thwarted by the penetrating and sinister stare of that ubiquitous aviator. And now, in addition to my tentatively artless bird cataloging, I harbor an irrational sense of  fear and anxiety toward blackbirds. Without wanting to validate my suspicions with further research, I am dubbing this trio “The Insidious Gracula Smack-you-up-ulas.”

“Invitation to the Crypt”

What roommate doesn’t know is that the next morning I stirred his sugar and coffee with this very branch. Muahaha

“Worst Roller Coaster Ever”

Every time I walk past this train track, I imagine that it leads to some stimulating and uncharted shangri-la. Last week it was Saturn, the week before that it was inside Daniel Day Lewis’ brain. But after the utter fecking hotness and animal activity of today, I imagined that this trajectory would take me straight into the coldest, most barren place in the world – my ex-boyfriend’s heart.

Just Kidding! I love animals.