Part Roku

Firmly grasped, the knife slid across the table, dragging his fist along with it. Ed didn’t want to do it, not at all, and complained to himself like an annoying 5 year old with an anger problem turning red in the face being told to takehis mess of lego scattered pieces and put it back in it’s original box. Even being as strong willed as he was, as stubborn as he was, as do-the-opposite-of-what-you-tell-him he was… whatever voice compelled him to maneuver the knife towards him, seemed to be the more convincing of the two sides. The knife was that of a more quality steak knife; not the sharpest blade of the bunch, but certainly sharp enough to do it’s job.

BLEAAAAAT

What a strange noise for an animal to make. Is it communicating with us? Is it talking with itself? Is it just trying to squeeze out a shit? Trying to understand the loud, audibly disturbing, and anything but soothing noise that finds its’ way through the vocal chords of an animal that butts its’ head against inanimate objects every few moments for whatever fucking reason may as well be putting yourself at the receiving end of the headbutts. What an odd representation for an animal’s call. A dog “barks.” A cat “meows.” A goat “bleats.” Perhaps it’s just universally known that goats are the most abnormal and superficially soft-brained animal, so much so that Webster-Merriam called a quick poll in the room and asked, “What noise does a goat make?” while the responses were probably similar to What does the Fox Say? … they decided that it was too intelligible a noise for an animal that holds the same anti-evolutional traits to that of a lemming, someone combined a cough and a sneeze at the very same time which actually forced that person to have an aneurism and drop dead on site. Police came to the scene after a responsible adult dialed 911 and doing their job, the officials on site had to rule out any sort of foul play before the autopsy came back (no one knew it was an aneurism at this point). They questioned the others in the room extensively and checked his overly seasoned cheeseburger, tater tots, and Mountain Dew for any contaminants. Frank… that was the dumb bastard’s name, wasn’t the healthiest or really the brightest bulb in the box, which was ironic since he was on the dictionary’s board for creating words, was notorious for overeating. People that were close to Frank always knew that his shitty eating habits would be the death of him. Mid 40’s and the blob of a man had trouble breathing while walking up stairs. Detectives, before they could go back to their families, needed to watch the security footage with one of the administrators, as was the protocol. Watching from start to finish, which was a lengthy few hours of mundane dictionary gobbidygook between people that gave a rat’s ass, felt similar to writing each of those words on the chalkboard 50 times in detention, found absolutely nothing but a fat, dumb man dropping to the floor like a brick off a 2nd floor windowsill. When the moment of Frank’s death finally did come across the screen and headphones, they were subjected to the abrasive noise he made when he seized up mid-bite of his burger in which he had compiled the tater-tots onto the ground beef slop with his other toppings (mayo, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion rings, etc. etc.) and slurped on his green acid of a soda, all that could be heard through the headphones was an intrusive sound of “BLEEEAAAAT!” before his overweight dumpster of an organ holster dropped to the under-carpeted conference room floor. At that moment, it was decided that in memoriam, this was the word for the sound of what a goat makes. Bleat.

The music stopped. The commotion that the room was once full of screeched to a halt. All eyes seemed to turn to Ed. Everyone was watching, waiting, and commiserating. There was no feeling of sadness, fear or empathy in the air, but more of a sense of “Good,” surrounding him. Good in the sense of “Good riddance,” not the type of good that would be misrepresented as positive. He couldn’t hear the thoughts whirling around him, but he could feel them cutting like the thorns on a rosebush.

A fruit fly. An inaudible speck in the vision floated between his eyes, buzzed to his nose to a spot where he couldn’t really see it, but he could feel it. The black dot had to be as small as a grain of salt, and not one of those grains of salt that would sit on a warm, greasy soft pretzel that you find at a street cart, but more like one of those grains of salt that come from the shaker and make you wonder whether or not the salt even came out, then your food is over salted burning your tastebuds. It was just as annoying too. From the nose it started to buzz towards his coffee cup. Ed wasn’t one to always be distracted… in fact, he was usually a pretty focused individual. Sure, he could procrastinate like the best of them, but if he was wrapped up in something important, especially something like taking ones own life, he wouldn’t veer from the task at hand. Though, at this moment, was something sacred being intruded upon. Not the moment that was revolving around the fact that a sharp enough steak knife was nearing towards his abdomen underneath his own direction. Not the fact that he was looking to spill his intestines all over his bought-on-deep-discount designer jeans that he would wear for weeks on end without washing in the middle of a restaurant with supposed children, families, witches, and goats about. Not that he was going to leave the love of his life, the girl that had helped him stay the course of becoming a better person, the woman that had grown with him for the past 10+ years, the female that constantly kept his impulsivity to act afool within check, permanently just because he was having a DebbieDowner Moment© that trapped him in a thought-loop similar to that of that song you can’t stand but runs through your mind on repeat regardless of how hard you try to sing another tune… yeah, that one.

What the fuck am I doing?

The fruit fly continued to buzz around the coffee cup and he could feel his temper flare. It was resilient. Silently buzzing around the cup that held one of the few things that he could truly enjoy from moment to moment; a sip of the juice of the gods. The heat of his emotions rose through his body from the depths of his loin, reaching his skull it started to spin him upside down like repeated somersaults or cartwheels on a gymnastics mat. Either his hair started to grow or steam was shooting through his ears in a cartoon fashion.

Fuck yourself,” whispered the maneuvering and hovering black dot within his vision. Shock ripped through his body like a static charge released from shimmying around upon a very shaggy carpet all day in socks that had far too much fabric to them, like an amount of fuzzy fabric that would make you feet sweat and if unwashed would leave you with athlete’s foot between a couple of toes.

He swatted which drew it closer towards his coffee. He pinned it’s flight path and clapped his hands together hoping to find its carcass smudged across his palms. He waited for it to settle on the table for a second before violently slapping said table causing everything to shake and rattle, even the knife he was holding moments ago.

I’m going nowhere. When you kill me, I’ll only be replaced by another… and him? Another. And so forth,” the fly taunted him.

There was only solution… to kill them all.

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Part Phive

Ed was an average heighted dude and constantly dressed both for style and function – Under Armour and Oakley tended to be his go-to’s. With a shaved head topped upon his reasonably athletic build, he was constantly asked if he was ever in the military… it was probably because he called all males “sir” and all females “miss,” looked people in the eyes, and used his please and thankyou’s. He knew respect and manners went a long way with people. Alas… at least he was comfortable for his extended stay.

Being unwantedly motionless was such a strange feeling. It’s not that only his body was frozen, but he couldn’t vocalize anything. In his body but shoved deep down below where he was unable to communicate by any means, he was internally petrified. Petrified both metaphorically and literally. He was stuck within a pit of himself where he could only feel fear grow around him like an anaconda squeezing tighter on each exhale. It could have manifested into anything but just its presence created panic. His heart rate rose but without the ability to control his breath. He wasn’t able to do a damn thing about it. Which subsequently created more panic. It was a deadly cycle. His legs trembled and he felt his entire body shudder real quick. It was a similar sensation to a January’s wind shearing through your summertime bikini.

He continued to hear voices and commotion around him, but it wasn’t the sounds of the café he was initially looking to eat in. In fact, the voices he was hearing were of no distinct tone, but more of an energy or a vibe. There was no placing if it was female or male, man or creature, or something from beyond. But the messages were clear…

You’re a fucking PUSSY. Scared little bitch.”

You’ll never be good enough, quit now. You’re wasting everyone’s time and energy.”

No one gives a fuck about you… just end it. Save yourself the suffering.”

It was a prison of these thoughts, but they were not his own. They had been heard before, but never conceived by his own mind and narration. An outside force that had found its’ way internally was to blame. Somehow, his mind had been manipulated, tangled, and locked down for a good ol’ fashioned mind rape.

“You’re poison. You’re a failure. Look at everyone around you… they all know it.”

This was the opposite of meditation. Instead of being able to focus, being able to correct his mind and put it on track, whatever had invaded was in control. Like being in the front seat of a busted roller coaster, he was held hostage and all he could do was feel the track crumble below him.

It continued to loop, the same messages over and over for what seemed like forever. They played through his mind like a song on repeat, but remixed. The words weren’t always exactly the same, but the message was clear: End it. Your life is futile, stop dragging others down with you. Eliminate yourself. It was harsh, painful, and unfortunately convincing.

Images started to flash on the screen of his eyelids, but yet he couldn’t be sure. Imagery of how to take his own life… a full bottle of pills, a noose around his neck and tied to a beam above his head, stepping into oncoming highway traffic, dropping off the tallest building he could find. The visions he saw were darker than when he was seeing nothing at all.

Being completely stuck where he was, with no ability to speak or be present, he was unable to escape what was ripping through his mind and changing his entire mentality. Maybe I should do it. I’m wasting everyone’s time. I’m so sorry…

Ed was an honorable man or so he always did his best to be as such. He was always trying to do the right thing even in those moments that would be considered a gray area. At this point, his mind had been warped into believing that taking his own life was the only response to the pain and suffering he had caused others. There was only one culture that he could think of that found suicide to be the honorable solution to shame: the Japanese samurai. They were certainly one of the most honorable people to ever grace the Earth.

Hari Kari was by no means the most elegant route to take his own life, but if he was to go out, it would be a conscious decision to feel every ounce of his lifeforce leave his body. The visions continued. Sitting with his knees bent and his feet tucked under himself, sitting tall within a dark room, both his hands cradled the hilt of a extremely sharp, but shorter sword. Perhaps it was a katana of sorts, but he wasn’t sure and it didn’t matter. All he knew was that the samurai carried a long and short sword. Doubtful that they carried it just for this reason. He took his last breath and with it apologized to the universe for everything… for not creating enough, for taking and not giving back enough, for lying and cheating and stealing, for not living up to his human potential.

Tears poured down his face as he looked down with the dagger turned inwards to the left of his belly button. Searing pain followed as he quickly shot the blade into his abdomen. It felt like a precise flamethrower melting through all the layers of his skin, each and every fiber of the muscles, and being blown directly into his organs. The ability to breathe left him and at this point he was committed. With the last drops of strength his mind and body had, he ripped his arms and the blade across his body. Muscles tried to contract and relax at the same time. He tried to breathe and scream but couldn’t. The dragging of the blade through his body was the longest few seconds of his life. Stomach, diaphragm, his “hara” or center was released. As he could intensely feel all the pain and see the blood pour from his intestines… he started to lean back like a tree being split in half. As he fell backwards onto the floor, he felt peace with himself and the world around him. His vision started to close in… but as he saw his last sights he could see a version of himself moving upwards towards the white light. Finally, peace at last…

MY BODY! I can feel it! He had snapped back to reality.

Still having no control over anything, he felt it moving… just like the roller coaster but with eyes open. He even had a little bit of his sight back. Nothing had changed, everyone was still right where they were before he slipped into this “coma.” The smell of bacon wafted back into his nose, the goats behind him were still being obnoxious and out of place, and his ass was still uncomfortable in the lopsided chair he had sat in. I’m so grateful to be back…

It was at this point, his hand drifted towards the knife on the table and firmly grasped it…

“Firmly grasp it.”

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Part FOOOOOORE

Ed and Nicole had been together for over 10 years at this point. They were each other’s best friend. Not codependent upon one another, but they made a great team between the two of them. She was young when he met him but he was young at heart and still was. Taking trips for special events and holidays were the few times that they could experience the world together, sharing moments that would last a lifetime.

Together, they found this to be quite uncharted territory. Not often where they chased by goats… but there was that one time with the wild turkeys. It was wild.

This was a different kind of wild. One of those “I don’t believe this to be real” kind of wild. The taste of disbelief was heavy enough to cut a knife through.

“So what do you think was in the water? How much LSD are these hippies dropping on a regular basis to the point that they have no trouble feeding it to us?” Ed was just trying to get Nicole to smile, to realize that the madness was over and they could enjoy the rest of their day without being locked down with fear.

She didn’t respond. Nicole was still in super serious mode, she felt the gravity of the situation. That energetic, spiritual, surreal experiences weren’t ones she particularly liked. Encounters like these were ones that couldn’t be explained with rational logic and that’s what really got her.

Years back, Ed had spent many of his hours visiting and training with an ordained Taoist priest who was also a heavily vetted Karateka who’d been dedicated to his arts for over 30 years. He explained the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective on life. To summarize, organs were responsible for emotions and health, they were energized by particular types of breath and movement, and residual spirits/energies were real. There were also the 7 levels of heaven and hell, “Satan” had generals and lieutenants, etc. Nicole got to train with him once and was instantly introduced to his ability to understand and manipulate both his and other’s energies when he touched her back from across the room.

After a full day of learning how to strengthen your own energy and use it for day to day life and self defense, food and drink was in order. They were lucky enough to spend the evening in Sensei Tony’s presence, drinking wine and listening to stories. He made mention of exorcisms that he had to conduct, spirits he had to release to the afterlife, and just generally insane shit that you would never believe unless he had “played with your energy.” Mirrors were portals for spirits, they could find a home in them. Strong and malicious energies could invade weaker humans and ruin their lives just by manipulating their thoughts and health. Demons were roaming the Earth before humans were really in existence. To put it bluntly, the spirit world was nothing to be fucked with. Wu-Tang would agree.

“Ed, I just want to go home. I don’t like being out here, the energy isn’t good, and I don’t want anything following us home. If we stick around here, there’s going to be something… an attachment… an energy… I just don’t want it.” Nicole’s voice quivered as she spoke. The words were hard for her to muster and drained her to form the coherent thought, but she was direct in her message. Since she worked so hard to be clear in her demeanor, he felt it was important to take it more serious than usual.

“Yeah, I get that, sweetheart…. but pizza!”

They had only heard of this pizza place for the years they had been cooking on their frozen crusts. A month ago, they decided to visit the restaurant in which they were originated in. To their dismay, the restaurant had closed on Ed’s birthday for a short break to reward their staff. It was really the only thing he wanted for his birthday and he proclaimed they’d return next month… and they did.

“I know, Ed… I know. They don’t open until 4pm and it’s 10am now. So much has happened in the past hour, what if it keeps at this pace?” She was starting to bend, but only because she just wanted to accomplish their mission of having the pizza they set out to have a month ago. She knew it was fairly important to him and it was her only rationale for risking her own well being… for pizza.

Nicole was a very genuine human being. She was open, caring to everyone around her, would give someone an hour to tell her a story with no meaning or punchline… just to be a good person she’d do anything she could. Unfortunately, with no shield up at all, other energies could and would attach. They would use her energy to carry themselves and strengthen their force. Malicious, selfish, and negative energies that no longer had any right here…

His mind was always centered around food. Whether it be where they’re eating now or on the next meal. “Let’s go to the brunch place. They’ve got bomb coffee and make a mean omelet. Plus, I don’t think anything else will be riproaring open at 10am on a Monday morning,” Ed said through his rumbling stomach.

The car turned, stopped, and accelerated all the way to Brunch Place for what felt like hours. Realistically, it was a half mile drive with a lot of impatient foot-tapping and fidgeting.

Something about the slight hangover and the fact that they were still technically on vacation, made his pants smaller. She was driving and he was engaging some of his more primitive intuition. His hand reached across the center console and onto her leg. She felt maybe that he was trying to make her feel better, and he was, just not in the same innocent sense that she had thought. It dawned on her quickly when she felt his hand slide up her slightly torn denim leggings.

“We’re here. Stop it.” Nicole slapped his hand away as the car slammed into park.

Aaaah fuck it… there’s always later. Maybe after a morning bite and some coffee she’ll loosen up.

His stomach’s excitement for food superseded his dick’s excitement for action. He almost floated into the breakfast nook like Donald Duck following the scent to the pie on the window. The door ripped open with a jingle of the bells hung above and the bustle of the diner was immediately apparent. Smells of bacon, eggs, coffee, and pastries shot up their noses. Endorphins started to wipe their memory of the strangeness of last night and this morning. Hell, just the smell of bacon eradicates any and all hangovers. That’s an actual medical truth. Maybe.

Halloween is over, freaks. Time to leave the costume at home and get back to reality.

The waitstaff was still wearing their outfits. In fact, even the cooks in the back were still dressed up in their Halloween garb. Spiderweb decorations still hung from the walls, a couple orange and purple string lights illuminated their surroundings, and there must have been a fog machine still pumping somewhere. Is Halloween actually honored on Monday because it fell on a Sunday? Like when Christmas falls on a weekend they actually observe it on a Monday or Friday because we need the extra day off. Halloween’s a weird one, it’s more of a kid’s holiday but I guess we can all dress up an extra day… to each their own.

“SIR!”

Ed shook his head out of the clouds and followed the witch to their table in the corner. Literally, she was a witch. Her face was lightly dusted in makeup and her eyes were seductive in nature. She wore a pointy black hat and had a long satin robe somewhat hid her attractive body. The long black hair was real, lustrous and shiny. Ed and Nicole fell into their booth in the nook and immediately perused the menu after he stole a few moments of staring at her curves. He decided on his an omelet filled with avocado, peppers, and steak with a side of bacon and endless cup of coffee. Nicole’s decision making was a little slower, she apparently had not fantasized about it all morning like he had. With his mind made up, he was able to finally indulge in people watching. She wasn’t the only cute witch kicking around on the waitstaff. There were a few and they all had attractive features in one way or another. He felt the drool and quickly wiped it off his mouth that he found slightly agape.

Ed’s leaned back onto the wall where it met the front window. Out his peripherals he could see the gorgeous landscape that the small town offered. The sun hit the crawling mountain landscape while the clouds turned some pine trees darker than others. Brick, three and four story buildings gave the stores somewhere to call home while acting as curtains to the mountains behind them. If only we could stay here forever… it’s all so breathtakingly stunning.

“We can accommodate you with that,” their witch interrupted his train of thought, almost like she was responding to it. She was staring directly at him.

“Thank you,” Nicole placed her menu down and also started to stare across the table at Ed. Oh..

He looked back at his witchress, errr WAITress about to place his order. His mind drifted into her deep brown eyes, unable to see where her pupils met the color. The curtains on his vision started to close as he went down the tunnel of his eyesight. Before he was able to speak or act, all he could see were her eyes. He was paralyzed and saw nothing but black. The menu firmly gripped, his feet flat on the floor, his ass on the seat, it was all unchangeable in the moment. Time lost value… this moment was either 20 minutes long or half a second… he couldn’t tell.

“There’s no rush… please take as long as you’d like,” he heard her say with a devious smile to the tone of her voice.

Uh oh.

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Part Twee!

Was it a dream? ‘Course it was. How many edibles did I eat last night? Did I bring the mushrooms…? No, I left those at home. Okay, so definitely a dream. Maybe some weird energies floating around these woods. Thank god we’re out of here today. We’ll sleep in our own bed, watch our own tv, get back in our routine and enjoy our home and it’s stability.

WHAT THE FUCK?!” she yelped in a tone of horror mixed with disgust

There was a black, twisted, and broken bird laying dead at the foot of the bed.

He was less reactive, but only because he was paralyzed by the shock that carried a big sense of confusion.

“Huh…” he drifted into thought, unsure if it was what he was really seeing. After a night of drinking the eyesight is always a little blurry in the morning and with that he occasionally saw things that weren’t really there. It wouldn’t be possible to form a coherent thought without at least gulping a 10 second count of water and taking a leak outside. He very carefully toed over the black and bloodied avian that was lifeless on the planks between him and the outside world…gross.

He unzipped the canopy and stepped into a brisk but refreshing 40 degree sunny day, hobbled down a few steps to the side of the platform, unzipped his pants and watched steam evaporate from his laser-beam of urine. That’s pretty clear considering how much booze I took down yesterday. Well, some of it was kombucha so that makes it healthy liquids, right? Those were delicious. Maybe we should get more of them… why the fuck are the goats staring at me? He quickly shoved himself back into his pants and zipped himself to reality.

“Dead bird on the floor. Totally normal,” he rationalized to himself, as if this thing happened weekly.

As he was pulling himself together mid-shiver, his eyes scanned the horizon and although beautiful, he noticed the 5th building… one that was hidden under the distraction of the tour from Kelly yesterday. It was a schoolhouse that looked like it had been built in the early 1800’s. The windows were akin to the ones in front of the barn; busted up and staring back at him – like the eyes of a giant looking over the hill it sat upon. Fuck you, house. Keep your stupid fucking bird to yourself. The dark maroon paint chipped off the siding like the rest of the buildings on the lot. The ominous building was sitting far off the hill, further away from everything else, like a smelly child that no one wanted to be around. It’s front door peered into the main house and driveway, inviting its suitors away from the rest of the property and into whatever vortex was held within.

“QUIT LOOKING AT ME GOATS,” he goofed in the same tone you’d hear from Billy Madison as he fell into deep intellectual conversation with a swan whilst sudsing himself… you know the part. His comedic demeanor was how he dealt with discomfort. Obviously finding a dead bird within a closed tent had him concerned and these creepy goats didn’t help. Their pupils are sideways and reminded him of a goat version of the Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings. Their gaze followed him wherever he went, they never blinked, and were statuesque in posture. This morning, these goats did nothing but stare and pierce his soul with their frisbee pupils. It was time for him to go back inside the shelter and deal with the reality that abruptly woke them this morning.

*tap tap tap*

“Are you done with the box of shame?”

Nothing.

“HellooOoOoOoOoO??? All good, baby?”

Still nothing.

His heart rate jumped immediately. Her time-limit for a witty retort had passed. Something was wrong.

The tent was ripped open. She was laying back on the bed, sitting up, legs crossed, but staring a million miles away. Her red bedheaded hair hung over her lightly freckled face but her hazel eyes beamed through to somewhere beyond that tent.

“You okay?” he asked hoping she would snap out of it instantly.

Nope.

Stepping over the crow carcass, he tried to cut the path of her stare and connect with some eye contact. Everyone has their daydreaming moments, but she seemed absolutely gone, as if she was in a deep sleep while she was awake.

Still nothing.

“HEY! WAKE THE FUCK UP” he barked while shaking her by the shoulders. Her head rattled back and forth with the shake until she gasped for air like she came out of water. The hair that was masking her face moments ago exploded as she shook her head side to side and blinked like she had something in her eye. He could tell she just came back from somewhere and it wasn’t somewhere she went intentionally.

“What was that? What happened to you?”

She was looking around the room as if she was going to find an answer wherever her hazel eyes shot upon. Searching for words all that came out was a stuttering “Uh… I… uh…” on repeat.

“I don’t know. You went outside and I leaned over to look at the bird, then I stood up to use the box and before I could take a step my vision went like a curtain being pulled shut. Next thing I know you’re shaking me awake shouting in my ear to wake up. I feel like I was gone…” Tears were welling up in her eyes as she started to see where she went. They were glazing over and her lip was quivering. She was visibly frightened for her safety. “I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that at all.” She pulled him hard for a hug and squeezed him tightly. He was her grounding back to our reality, to safety, away from whatever had pulled her to begin with.

“Let’s go get breakfast, have some coffee, and leave this place behind us. It’s all good now.”

She sniffled, wiped the tears from her cheeks with the sleeve of the shirt she slept in, and nodded fast and in strong agreeance. Something had taken her away and all she could think about was being somewhere that it couldn’t happen again, away from this property… away from the woods around them.

2 minutes was all that he would need to get it all together. He grabbed his dirty clothes from the day before him and shoved them into his backpack in the same manner you push down the trash when you don’t want to change it. The wrappers and cans from last night got soccer kicked into a bin in the corner while she dunked the remaining scraps down the chute. They both glanced around the room to see if they left anything that they couldn’t buy at the CVS down the street, looked at each other, and beelined for the tent’s zipper.

Black frisbees. 4 of them. They may as well have been razor blades in the manner they cut through to your soul. The air was frozen still and it felt like time was just the same. He blocked her as if his wall-esque behavior would save her from some imaginary force… the same force that turned his feet to cement blocks and turned everything in his backpack to lead weights. His vision started to vibrate and started to close in on him, as if he was closing his eyes. Certain things on the landscape started to stand out to him, as if their energy was what came through in his senses. The two goats vibrated red and angry. As he continued to trudge forward, the old run down schoolhouse along the side of the property was buzzing along the same wavelength as the eyeballs that he so desperately wanted to rip from the skulls of the two goats ruining their good time.

He could barely see ahead of him, but there was no way he would allow himself to stay put. His hand grabbed ahold of hers and dragged her behind him, but as time crawled on she became the one to start leading him. His vision continued to fade in and out. There wasn’t a loss of consciousness but he started to feel disconnected from his body. The legs were still moving and were under his control but by the reptilian part of his brain. His consciousness started to see everything from the 3rd person view. It was cutscene of a video game and watching his character follow his instructions but couldn’t actually feel what was happening.

As they neared the schoolhouse he started to hear conversations, children’s voices… a deep humming like something from a the bassline of a Bob Marley song. She dragged him closer as the path veered closer to the historic building filled with energy. Fear struck him, it became harder to take a deep breath. They were 20 feet from the car but it might as well have been 20 miles. He couldn’t tell if the voices or noise was in his head or truly coming from within that building. WHAT’S HAPPENING? Is it Halloween voodoo? Is it the devil-goats? Am I having a stroke?

The noise dimmed as they neared the car and fled from the woods. Relief hadn’t set in but it was in view like the finish line of a marathon… except while being chased by the devil and his army of goats. The car doors opened, their belongings were rocket launched into the backseat and they piled in as fast they could. She threw the transmission in reverse and they sped away leaving the property in their rearview forever.

As they looked in the mirrors they both inhaled quickly and deeply and he asked in a very facetious manner, “Who let the goats out?…. baaah baaah bah bah.”

“Fuck you, Ed.” Nicole was not pleased.

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Part 2

“Fucking goats? Really?”

Their names were Salt and Pepper, but there was really no telling any difference between the two… unless you were some sort of certified goat expert. The pair of big-eared and big-bearded animals wandered about their fenced in area which was probably the size of a football endzone but certainly not as well kept. They had plenty of room to roam without their moving be inhibited, but they were by no means “free range,” but maybe organic depending upon USDA guidelines. The 4 legged, furry dopes stared sideways and chewed grass like a slack jawed yodel from the stereotypical south. You could almost imagine them leaning back into their rocking chair spouting out, “Y’all ain’t from around these parts, are’ya?” with one hoof hanging from their overalls and their trucker cap wiping away the sweat from their brow. It was a hard day of tending to their crops… or eating them.

It seemed like a great idea to rent a tent in the middle of the woods on a stranger’s property in the middle of the mountains… with goats…. on Halloween…. with a full moon. It was a recipe straight out of a corny horror movie for teens that enjoy something that barely grasps their attention but does a great job at creating the perfect ambience for a “Netflix and chill” kind of evening… WINK.

Ever since he was a young lad, he had a innate fear of goats. One of his first memories of his childhood was his grandmother bringing him to some local petting zoo and feeding the different animals. The only animal he actually remembered was feeding the goat… and the piece of shit ignored the hay in his hand and went for those mini sausages for fingers. Of course, whenever this happens to a 4 year old, that kind of a memory sticks with him for life. So Salt and Pepper were met with some bias this afternoon… a strong “if you make a sudden move I’ll kick you in the jaw” kind of bias.

Kelly and Scott were gracious hosts. They showed their beautiful space and spared no detail. Kelly came off as more the pants wearer of the household. She was a solid 5’8″, proportional in size, with dirty blonde hair and a demeanor that showed she accepted no bullshit. Scott, on the other hand, looked like a grown-up version of a little rascal. Any of them. He was white, though, so pick accordingly. His hair was lightly gelled and spiked like Bart Simpson, and he stood a tall 5 foot nothing. He balanced her out with the ability to smile and share conversation with anyone. They both wore the appropriate mountain-farm flannel and jeans, but Scott wore moccasins. Go figure.

“Follow me,” Kelly uttered in her empty-toned voice. Perhaps she was inconvenienced by an early arrival or she was constipated. There was no telling, but a day without pooping is never a good one. Her attitude would be justified if that was the case.

The property had 5 structures upon it. First, there was the primary house. Built in the 1800’s on the outside, fully renovated and modernized inside. Scott made sure to mention how they had just purchased when the plague hit to get out of “the city.” They were financial advisors from New York who told rich people what to do with all their money to increase it’s quantity… including paying the two of them enough to become wealthy themselves.

Next they were shown the garage. The door was open showcasing a ping pong table setup for guests amongst the surrounding normal garage clutter. “It’s undergoing renovation still,” Scott said excusing it’s lack of being up to his standards. “You two are more than welcome to play some ping-pong whenever you want!” Because we came to the mountains to play ping-pong… what an attraction!

Next was the goat shelter. It looked like it was going collapse upon itself if you farted next to it. If you ever got to wear drunk-goggles as a kid going through middle school, imagine that’s how you viewed this building. The maroon paint was darker than it should have been and chipping where the weather had gotten the best of it. Even with a blue sky, the shadows were casted through the tree branches like they were hands shooing our presence away. The two windows that it had hanging over the barn door were fogged and had tape over it’s cracks to prevent further destruction. From further away, it looked like a the mask from the movie Scream. “It’s where we keep all of our equipment and supplies for the goats,” Kelly The Robot explained. “Let me show you your tent.”

Walking around their garage, they had to pass through their pool patio. The green concrete screamed “I NEED A POWERWASHING!” but it was muffled by the deep groans of the picket fence that looked like it had given up on it’s cries for help long before the concrete was even stepped upon.

*Squish, squish, squish*

He looked down and noticed his feet were almost an inch deep into the earth. “Watch your step, it’s wet.” And in other news, the sun is still yellow. They trekked about 20 yards back being guided by the overgrowth and the fencing for the goat farm. “Here’s where you’ll be staying this evening,” Kelly pointed with her palm up and fingers together in a sweeping motion, as if the guests had been led down some red carpet to a 5 star hotel room.

In her defense, it was a very new setup and perhaps something they could have been prouder of if it didn’t look like it a cluster of dead trees had not fallen on either side of it. The pearly white safari tent sat upon a newly planked platform. The wood it rested upon looked like it had been pulled from Lowes just that day, it even had the smell of walking through their lumber aisles. Everything was constructed of the same type of unstained and unsealed wood. There were 2 patio chairs outside the tent, a picnic bench on the ground to it’s left, and a small storage cabinet that held items for the portable grill. There was also a black steel firepit that rested on the ground beside the dead trees inviting disaster.

Inside their resting place for the evening was a queen mattress, better than what you’d find in a dorm room but not better than what’s inside your bedroom. Do the math. Warmth was supplied by a propane heater in the corner which removed any sense of “roughing it.” It was counter balanced quickly when Kelly kicked a box in the other corner of their luxurious room. “Here’s your toilet this evening.” It was a box with a hole, in the corner of the tent. It looked less comfortable than a jail cell potty. “Just make sure you put one of these bags in there before you do your business,” as she held a miniature trashbag filled with kitty litter.

It made him wonder how hunters and serious hikers deal with their shits. While hunting any significant smell can scare your prey, so perhaps this was more common than they realized? Either way, they would make sure to use the restroom in town for number 2’s. Number 1 meant he’d just piss in the woods next door while she was still subjected to the “box of shame.” Heh, sucker.

It was time to eat a big meal and pretend they were staying in a real hotel room. They went out for supplies… everything from firewood (even though they were surrounded by it) to snacks for the evening. He grabbed a couple pieces of dark chocolate and organic/whole food/vegan/non-gmo/some-other-bullshit-marketing-ployed treats. The two were very cautious of what they put in their bodies, but it WAS Halloween after all… so everyone gets a pass. Now it was time to eat like a king and queen.

“I’ll have a glass of Johnny Walker Black on the rocks with a lime on the side, please.” It was his first drink in a month. Sober October was a chance for him to clean out, regardless of how “trendy” it may be. The Patriots were on tv and this pub had some of the best chicken wings and burgers he’d ever tried. The ear-to-ear smiles were plentiful that afternoon. Halloween’s spice of living-a-little was coming in full swing. They laughed, they ate, drank, and the Patriots won. Overall, the afternoon was one they both needed – a little escape from the normal routine of back home and the constant nagging of tasks that would always surround them and their minds.

These two always connected so well. One of their friends referred to them as a “Power Couple” years back. It was a nice compliment, a reflection upon how well they always got along, and one that reminded them how truly unique their relationship was.. They didn’t always agree on everything, but they always made each other smile and made for a great team. What she didn’t get done, he could and vis versa. They were best friends and had been for over 10 years with no end in sight. She lit up every room she went into and everyone loved to have her around. Thankfully, she was paired at his hip so that any room he went into they put up with his bullshit. She brought a lot of levity to his off and on annoyances to the surrounding people.

Ultimately… they were happy.

After the dinner and the game, they cruised back to their 5 star cabin in the woods for a fire, drinks, and reflection. The moon was full and the sky was generally clear. What clouds did come were gone in the blink of an eye. The air was bitterly cold but smelled crisp but stung the nose if huffed too quickly. Mountain skies were different than city skies as the light pollution was nonexistent. Stars, the Milky Way, the universe… you could see it all clear as could be. It was beautiful and something they had never experienced alone nor together. They held each other and stared up into the infinite. Thoughts escaped them and their minds became empty. Realization of how little everything matters became quickly apparent. Wow.

Laying in bed, enjoying some of the propane heat, throwing back a few healthy Halloween munchies while reading the Sunday comics, life seemed so perfect.. if only just for a moment. Eventually they both became weary as the AM hours crept in. In order to enjoy tomorrow, today had to end. Lights out, they snuggled and closed their eyes looking forward to a fun Monday that they would steal together while others were dragged into the man-made work week.

Drifting into what they had just spent an hour staring up into, he heard rustling outside of the tent next to him. There was no space behind the tent or around it – it was all dead brush and fallen trees. Wind, critters, the platform settling. It’s your mind playing tricks on you, as per usual. Shut the fuck up and get some sleep.

More rustling.

Definitely a critter. Are mice nocturnal? I’m sure owls fuck their day up from time to time so there MUST be a couple that are in these parts.

Rustle.

“Kill the bitch.”

OK, now he could admit there was a problem.

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Part One

It felt arthritic. He massaged his hand as if he was shaking off the pain from someone stepping on it. In between the fingers, the palm, the knuckles… they ached. Pulling on the fingers, digging deep into the tissue between them, shaking his hand erratically like a limp wristed _______, something felt off. There was a hematoma-esque bubble there the night before, but with all the exercise, combat sports, and constant clumsiness of just bumping into any inanimate object that jumped into his path, there’s no telling what the root cause was. The Ahnold from Kindergarten Cop shouted, “IT’S NOT A TOOMAH!” inside his head.

“Fuck it,” he said simultaneously with a shrug. There’s no need to be a hypochondriac. Throw some dirt on it and carpe some motherfuckin’ diem.

Rolling out of bed, feeling the aged and slick wood below his feet, pulling the heat from his freshly unblanketed toes, there was a moment that required some mixture of motivation, discipline, and the small victory reward of having coffee. The importance of following a ritual of habits each morning was equally seen as a task but a foundation for a healthier life. Meditation, stretching, cold shower, journaling, followed by coffee and a trip to the local fitness facility. This same system of habits was also responsible for creating slight instant dread subsequently causing his slumber to last longer than necessary. He knew that 8-9 hours was what his body required based on his level of physical activity, but knowing that the hardest part of his day was his morning, it made it easy enough to slap that snooze button.

“9 aaaaaaaaamm?!” He let out a sigh of disgust and shame. But fully rested shame and disgust… at least there was that. Garfield would be proud.

The routine set the tone for the day. He was out the door with his coffee in hand by 10:15. Not the early rise he kept hoping for, but the quality of the time he’s awake for is what he’s convinced himself what matters most, not many waking hours he has.

The grip on the steering wheel sent a wave of dulled pain up into his chest, similar to that of a warmed butter knife running up the forearm to the bicep and then being pushed into his shoulder. Totally normal he thought. It was nothing that a great playlist couldn’t take his mind off of. Eagles of Death Metal? Tool? Twiddle? He rattled off a few as he perused Spotify.

METALLICA.

Headbanging off beat to his place of sweat, he forced himself through a workout that was meant to improve strength, mobility, and stamina… but instead tested his ability to use turkey and stuffing as a fuel source. It was a slow 90 minutes, but it got done. The victory was in showing up today, it wasn’t in setting a new personal record in the kettlebell swing. And that one girl at the squat rack had an ass that made him feel like a bitch… worth the trip for that alone.

Was the pain from inflammation of the foods I ate? It’s moving around. It couldn’t have been impact if now the OTHER hand hurts.

There was now a small bubble on the back of his left hand. The right hand was initially the one that had what he thought was swelling. Immediately he reached for his handheld computer, commonly known as an iPhone, and searched the web for any such answers he could find.

Arthritis at age 36? Doubtful. Excessive heat? It’s the end of November in New England. Pregnant? Excited for the incoming ads for “cooling gloves,” diapers, and dick pills. The dick pills don’t even work.. I would know.

With a quick shake of the hands, some deep breathing, and stretching his wingspan hoping that it would relieve him of the mystery pain, he was back in the car and off to his next destination – LUNCH. His love for food was only superseded by his love for thinking about his next meal. Something about the fantasy of the meal could be far more satisfying than the actual meal itself. The anticipation and excitement of eating was really enjoyed. This sounds very much like many other aspects in life whether it be finally having a drink, the act of having sex with a new partner, or eating a piece of pie after eating clean for a month. The suspense of it all was far greater than the actual act… and in terms of portion, it was also more than it should have been. An egg too many, an extra slice of avocado, or maybe it was the 30 almond crackers he had afterwards. Either way, it was overthought, overdone, and a metaphor for much of how he seemingly lived his life.

The pain was bouncing to his extremities, the feet must have been feeling a little left out. The location of the pain could be compared to that of a bouncing of a pong ball. It felt like something needed to either get out or find a home to lay dormant in. Dormancy felt like a better idea to him. At least then he’d be able to avoid it, just like some of his other problems. If I just ignore it, it’ll go away. If you think about it and give it power, it’ll stay. It never meant to rhyme, just like the puns are never intended.

What a totally rational thought process. If you don’t want to jump the hurdle, just turn the other way. The hurdles will magically disappear. Why hadn’t anyone thought of this brilliance before?

___________________________________________________________________________________

The past weekend, he had taken his female half out to the Berkshires. It was time for both of them to just “get away,” as they call it. Their small city definitely was unlike New York or Boston, but it was a city in it’s own right. The bars filled up at night, the patrons got loud when they drank, and the parking was always a nightmare. And always the cigarette butts strewn across the sidewalks. How were they not trash? Why is that NOT considered littering? Some fucking kind of people that wander our cities are the real pieces of trash…. *steps down from soapbox*

The Berkshires would be different: small town folk, people of the Earth, and silence. They knew that if they could climb a mountain high enough or drive far enough, they’d hear nothing but nature and its’ creatures. Did you know that chipmunks make noises that resemble an aboriginal tongue clacking when they’re alarming the other chipmunks about aerial predators? They had no clue until the little guy on their mountain started going a little bonkers when the hawks started peaking out. No, they didn’t really piece 2 and 2 together, they actually just googled it later at dinner. National Geographic posted a nice video on this a couple years ago.

The hike they enjoyed together was one that brought them a little closer to nature but also offered that serenity that they were looking for. When they reached the top, the wind would shear, but the boulder-ish rocks they laid upon offered them the collective warmth that the sunshine had given for the day. When they peered north, they could see Vermont and to their south was Connecticut. New York wasn’t far either, but trees blocked the view to the west. One misstep and it was certain death, but one step higher and you could see it all. Hawks flew circles around the mountains. First it was one or two, but before you could see them take a full lap, there was 7 or 8. Hawks fly in packs? Or are they gaggles? Or is it a murder of Hawks? Maybe it’s just a flock of Hawks? I hope so, the rhyming opportunity there is far too amazing.

After what felt like hours or a full day, they made their descent back to the bottom of the mountain. Something special had taken place up there, like taking a mental and spiritual shower. The thoughts of the hustle and bustle, the hunt for the next paycheck, even the constant nagging thought of the next meal – gone. It seemed to float off with the hawks, unlike any of the chipmunks, thanks to their ability to communicate in differing alarm noises.

Each step down the mountain felt lighter than the last. Is gravity stronger or lighter in terms of elevation? Lighter at the top, right? It seemed there was still space in his mind for thoughts of zero impact on his actual life, probably knowledge that he got in 3rd grade that escaped him like helium from a balloon post graduation. As dumb as they were, he enjoyed them more than the stressors that looped in his mind before

Sunshine seeped through the treetops leaving blowing shadows on the carpet of fallen leaves and pine-needles. Birds chirped but he wondered if they were actually birds or was it chipmunks listing off lottery numbers. Occasionally someone passed them along the trail and they were met with a meaningless “How’s it going?” with no real intention of getting to know how the stranger was actually doing. In fact, it would have been quite rude to sit there and actually spout how they’re doing at length. No one really cares, but “Hi” always felt empty of enough syllables.

Moments before being able to sit in the car and revel in such a beautiful sequence of moments we had both shared as lovers/partners/best friends, he put one foot in the car and immediately smelled that which could be commonly referred to as a “land mine.”

BOOM.

Good thing this dipshit loves to wear toe shoes. Why would he have stepped on it with his heel? That’s right… it was as if he stepped in chocolate mashed potatoes and wanted to use his toes to put it on his Thanksgiving plate. Think of the portion size.

He tossed back yet another edible and grabbed an over-fermented kombucha (fermented to the casual 7.2% abv) while hopping over to the bench with a pack of car wipes and the most durable twig he could find. The rubber bottom of the shoe was a patented as having MONSTER GRIP. The mother fuckers had a MONSTER GRIP of a massive pile of shit. Considering that the soul of the shoe looked like a 5 year old wanted to paint it in the color “poop,” it appeared as if the patent was worth it. *crack…. gulp*

Between continuously wiping the shoe on the nearby fall grass and slapping it against the platform like the irresponsible dog owner that couldn’t be bothered to clean up after his pet relieved himself in the middle of a well-traveled trail, the poop moved came off similar to that of a stuttering kid at a spelling bee. Fast forward and both the dogshit and the kombucha were gone.

*BRAAAAAAAAaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAap*

He one-legged-skipped back to the car refusing to put his foot down to the wet and shitty ground. It was bad enough his hiking shoe was covered in some animal’s digestion, but at least that foot was going to stay dry and unsullied, gahddamnit. Luckily, his laziness paid off this eventful afternoon and NOT unpacking all his belongings worked out for him. He grabbed those dumbass sauna sandals and wore them with the toe socks he was wearing like he invented the new version of high school hip. Slides and regular socks? Fucking retro, nerds. “TO THE HOTEL!” he shouted with a cramped and pointed pose sitting in the passenger seat of the Toyota Camry. They were staying in a tent. It wasn’t a hotel… it was someone’s tent in the middle of the unknown woods, on Halloween… with goats.

A recipe for a totally normal and relaxing evening in the Berkshire mountains. There was always some satanic lore wrapped around goats, but they they knew it was all nonsense. Goats are cute!

Turns out… they should believed it…

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Ramblings for the 3 Day Weekend

Monday huh?

Fuck it, talk to me when it’s Tuesday.

There’s something about cruising through the weekend with your foot on the pedal, experiencing life and all it has to offer like a whale eating mackerel. Fast paced workouts, grabbing coffee from your favorite shop, traveling somewhere new, finding a restaurant you’ve never wanted to try, laughing with friends and family, staying up too late on a Saturday, football on a Sunday, eating a bunch of pizza on a Sunday night… then it comes to a screeching halt.

Monday morning arrives and it’s like a swift kick to the junk. Like when when you’re having a good time on the playground as a child and the bully pushes you over into a pile of dogshit, some form of reality comes crashing down upon you instantly. “This was too good to be true” rings a bell.

No more fun, no more excitement. There’s this air of “get up and grind” that seems to get wafted in our direction. Lots of local coffee shops close (on a Monday when we need you most!), lots of restaurants don’t open their doors to the couple people that may join them, and the race to Friday begins again.

Personally, I have a hard time moving from bed on a Monday. There’s very little part of me that wants to go to the gym, do my morning meditation, or even go to a martial arts class at night. Perhaps it’s a form of rebellion from this 9-5, M-F expectation of us. Or maybe I’m just being a lazy fuck that’s avoiding any and all responsibility? Maybe I’d rather live my life in a state of Peter Pan mentality? Or maybe I’d like to go after Tuesday like I got shot out of a cannon and could use a little time to reset after a weekend full of activities? Maybe I’d rather live my life like it’s the weekend? Maybe I have a hard time going from the end of the spectrum that wants to play to the other end that wants to accomplish his dreams?

Maybe I just like a quiet day at home when everyone goes to the office?

But this isn’t about me… this is about us. Monday, Thursday, Septemsundaysaturdayoctoberday. It should all be the same. The weather doesn’t give a fuck if it’s a sunny Saturday or a rainy Monday. It’s the same. Nature doesn’t care. Why should we? Why not blend all 7 days? There’s very few people that actually get excited about a Monday. Garfield set the tone for us many years ago…. mmm lasagna…

Sure, part of it is that I don’t like schedules, but in order for businesses to run, schools to operate, and for most people to have sanity, they NEED schedules. For a business/school/gym/etc. – it’s hard to operate the high pace a capitalistic society requires for success. That’s why a lot of them shut down on certain days for some mental rest and momentum building for their upcoming hours. My favorite coffee shop only operates Thursday-Sunday… but the quality is top notch. Some of my favorite restaurants are only open Thurs-Saturday, but their food makes my mouth drool and my penis erect (we all have our kinks).

You know what would be pretty sweet? If Mondays were always a shutdown day. Everyone worked from home if they wanted to even work, gyms operated on weekend hours, but kids still had to go to school… because they can really drag down a day for an adult trying to experience life. BUT, Mondays could be over-the-top exciting and fun for kids, like a recess all day or a day for kids to get in the building but they were given more freedom of what to do with their time there. Too much freedom and you get Lord of the Flies. It could help reframe their minds to teach them that the lives that they live are not entirely dictated by someone else all the time… like some of us have a hard time doing as adults.

It all boils down to a 3 DAY WEEKEND. The argument has been made by people much more intelligent than myself. There’s simply just not enough time within 48 hours to enjoy life. You spend time unwinding, then you have classes you want to attend, events you want to see, family parties you have to go to, and you choose between things you want to do vs. the things you have to do. Understanding the semantics of the fact that you really don’t HAVE to do anything, but you really shouldn’t skip your son’s soccer game or your mother’s birthday party. No one said the time you spend at these activities won’t be enjoyable… but will it leave you enough mental energy to sit down and read that book you’ve wanted to get to or the home improvement project you’ve been wanting to get to? What about that creative endeavor you’ve been dying to get done? Or that friend you haven’t seen in years you’ve wanted to get together with?

I operate differently, I know that. It’s always been this way. I’m a terrible employee for others, the way life operates for most others makes no sense to me and every time I try to do it I can literally feel it eat at my soul. I’d rather die early and live life my way than do what someone tells me “because they can.” There’s a quote kicking around my brain from years ago that states “I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” …. I can’t be bothered to look up who said it because the truth of the matter is that I saw it on someone’s AOL profile when I was a teen. Regardless, it holds meaning to me.

So for the people that enjoy being a part of that system, there is nothing inherently wrong with that, but let’s just rotate it a little bit so that you spend more time outside the “office” and more time with the rest of us degenerates.

For a couple weeks I took a poll about the 3 day weekend. I never actually wrote down the results, but perhaps I should. Some people work “weekends” and some people work “weekdays” so there’s a lot of bouncing around. BUT, if we all decided that we could manage the fulltime workweek within 4 days… how would YOU do it?

Some people chose Monday-Thursday they would rather work. They like to pop off on a Thursday night and rock until Saturday night while winding down on Sundays. That’s cool, but this one doesn’t feed my lifestyle. I typically take a minute to warmup when it comes to getting shit done. I find I personally get more done on a Friday than Monday.

Some people liked the idea of having a Monday off, too… but it was far less than the Monday-Thursday option. They were more on my wavelength and like a quiet Monday to themselves.

Lastly, I saw something else that made a lot of sense too… only working 2 days in a row. Monday, Tuesday you work and Wednesday you have off. Then Thursday and Friday you’re back at it, with Saturday and Sunday off. I’m unsure on this one. This may work for kids in school to give them that breather to digest all the information they took in for 2 days, but to have 3 days in a row to do WHATEVER YOU FUCKING PLEASE is more exciting. It’s hard to travel very far when you’ve got to be back at it in 48 hours.

This is where I start to wrap up. I wanted to write this Monday and here it is… because I had the time to do so. Sure, it’s rambling, but I always ramble. If you didn’t know this then you don’t know me.

So ask yourself (if you read this far, thank you), what days would you operate? What days would you travel? What days would you spend your day on creativity? What days would you spend doing whatever you want?

I’m going to sit in a sauna because it’s MY MONDAY and you can’t take it from me.

…and I’m having lasagna for dinner in tribute to my boy Garf’.

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Guilty as charged

Guilt. Why is there always guilt?

A guilty pleasure. A sense of guilt playing a game on a weekday evening. Having a wank, as the Brits call it.

Are we conditioned to feel this? Is this something we’re born with? Nature vs. Nurture better fucking speak up and give me an answer.

What is guilt? Is it our conscience telling us that we shouldn’t have done that thing that we did? Is it the voice telling us that in order to enjoy something we must suffer first? But isn’t the human suffering a real thing? Isn’t life, by definition, filled with suffering? We live in these bodies that have an expiration date, that require maintenance to the umpteenth degree, they require updates, that can come defective, and they’re ridiculously fragile. People die from choking on food, having an aneurysm while shitting, or auto-erotic asphyxiation that went too far… while having a wank.

Existence is pain. Just life can be hard and agonizing. Waking up in the morning can be a bitch. We experience loss, failures, pain… so why does the mind take all the joy from eating a delicious pastry from your favorite coffee shop? All I can hear is the sugar spiking my insulin, causing inflammation throughout my organs and joints, and putting on a pound. All for what? A tiny bit of simple mouth pleasure?

You’re fucking right. That shit’s delicious.

The pastry is an incredible taste-bud amusement park ride. It’s a small treat and a spark in a life that can be utterly mundane or grindy. Sure, we can make it all more exciting by “living a little” or taking more risks to create the day-to-day life we want… but that takes time, goal setting, direction and yes, you’ll get there. But I want a little slice of pie right now, fresh apples are only in season for so long!

Do it all the time and sure, you’ll become an absolute bitch-titted blob riddled with more health issues than pounds you’ll put on. “Discipline equals freedom.” as the chiseled-chin-military-man Jocko would say. The dude is right. As long as we stay focused, work hard, stay consistent and start to achieve that success, we can SPARINGLY indulge in the treats that life has to offer. The fruits of our labors, some will call them.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. All play and no work and Jack can’t keep the cake out his mouth or dick in his pants.

A balance must be struck. It’s a scale. All work towards your goals and you become someone that is of no fun to be around but yet you contribute to society with a service/product/whatever. All play and you’re dragging friends out to drink and eat too much when they’re trying to raise a family and keep a steady job. Here’s the thing – regardless of where you’re sitting on that scale, you’re always able to guilt yourself.

“I was at the office late so I’m missing out on time I could be spending with my friends and family, which is the important stuff in life. But without working real hard, I can’t achieve my goals” (Purposely putting money out of the vision of success. Not everyone wants to quantify their goals with money, and I mean that in a very non-earthy-crunchy vibe. I’d love to have a ton of money, but my goals are not based upon money, personally).

“I’ve drank 5 days in a row with my friends. The pizza we ate was some of the best I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any work around the house done and I can’t take a solid shit.”

Set a limit on the time at the office, the drinks you have (or the nights), the slices of pizza, spend more time at the gym the next day. There’s always a way to strike that balance. This isn’t news for most people… or most self-aware people that I speak with. Keep in mind, a lot of the verbiage I throw up here are the same things I’m telling myself. These are the battles I personally endure, the mental jiu-jitsu I play daily, the void of guilt I wake up with and go to sleep with…

The guilt though, WHY am we still hearing him/her/it/the devil? Is it a sign of our moral compass? That we’re self-aware of the behavior we know that can be improved upon? Being honest with ourselves, knowing we can always work a little bit harder and improve? Does this fall into the same category with failure… that it’s a mechanism for learning? We KNOW that the alcohol is a trade-off for feeling good now for feeling worse tomorrow.The pizza tastes DELICIOUS, but it may make us a little soft around the edges. Do we want to wake up tomorrow feeling supercharged and ready to conquer… or do we want to have some extra fun tonight? Do we want to spend more time at the gym tomorrow and feel a little bloated tonight… or we want to send our taste buds to a realm of astonishing bliss that feels like pepperonis made love to your mouth for an hour?

This has to line up with our goals. What do we want in this life? More short term pleasure for less long term results or do we want to suffer now and grab that high hanging fruit? Do you have goals? Yes? Chase them and let no one step in your way. If the answer is “no,” then maybe it’s time to see where you want to take this life. As long as you’re a good person, helping bring up those around you, putting your shopping cart back, there’s no right or wrong way to live this life. If you want to eat like shit, drink too much, and masturbate until your dick falls off – go for it. Just know, that it won’t bring anything than fleeting and short bursts of dopamine. Trust me, I’ve tried. My dick is still there… for now.

If you want to chase your dreams, take risks, fail over and over again to win, then go for it with reckless abandon. Blaze a trail for yourself. Be patient, be calm, work hard, be kind to others and yourself. Feel guilt, but ignore SOME of it. Everyone that achieves something special has made sacrifices along the way. Discipline equals freedom. I’m not waking up at 4:30am every morning for it, but 7:30 sounds pretty reasonable.

I love my junk food and booze, but I love feeling like I’ve earned it. Which is why I made sure to sit down and write for a couple hours so I could feel entitled to grab a coffee and a pastry BEFORE I EXERCISE FOR FIVE HOURS and simultaneously curse myself out for it. Fuck that guy, he doesn’t have to endure the suffering we do. He can eat a fat bag of dicks while I eat my pastry.

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Mid-life Report

168 hours.

155:11 as of the time I started to write this.

That’s how many hours and minutes left in the week I have to accomplish whatever I want to accomplish.

There’s a blog post written by Tim Urban about breaking your life into weeks. I read this years ago, but it’s always been something I’ve kept in mind, but not as much as I should. Supposing that we see it right in front of us, like a poster that I may have just ordered off Amazon, we’ll be more mindful of the time that we have left. How much of that time do we want to spend building our vusiness, cultivating a good time with friends, spending quality time with my partner, playing a video game, watching a movie, reading, writing, exercising, sleeping or watching porn?

Definitely reading more.

……………………right.

There’s 168 hours in a week. That’s how much time EVERYONE has in total. Let’s think about it like a personal marathon. Not the rat race, but the big picture. Each week is on a timer. So let’s say there’s 4,000 “marathons.” 80 years, 52 weeks to a year, but we may not make it that far and we may make it further… so 4,000 marathons is a much easier number to deal with. 4,000 weeks means 672,000 total hours on these timers.

Think of that… We won’t even live a million hours. Damn. We throw around this idea that a million isn’t a lot of anything these days, but that’s how finite life really is. We barely make it halfway to a million! “There’s always more time,” says my procrastinating mind. But the numbers don’t lie. There ISN’T that much time. So how much are we going to spend working that 9-5, grinding it out to get ahead? No one on their deathbed ever says that they wish they spent more time working on their business.

Confession time: I’m 36 years old and 4 weeks at the moment of writing this. That means that roughly 341,400 hours of my life have passed. Now, let’s reflect upon that. There are some accomplishments I’m proud of. Bachelors Degree (somehow), various martial arts accomplishments, nice apartment, my best friend has been my partner for over 10 years, mindfully I feel sound… I guess I’m just genuinely happy with where I’m at considered the state I was in at the 150,000 mark (18ish). So what now? The stage is set, where do we go?

*As I wrote that, the sun peaked through the clouds and hit me in the eyes through the dreariest of clouds, through the skylight, through the poles on the loft, past the wooden mean overhead … onto my face. The sun always shines through.

Back to what I was saying. *AHEM* So what now?

Setting the foundation is always the most important step in building anything, right? Analogies are fun, let’s use some of those…

When you start to build a home, what happens first? You set the foundation. It gets dug out and the concrete is poured so that you can lay the wood on top of it.

Before you go for a long journey, what must you do? Plan your route and pack for survival and emergencies.

When you workout, you need to warmup first. Unless you want to get injured, but that’s silly.

We can do this forever, but we all get the point, right? Time must be spent first before taking on anything. Energy must be spent in preparation for a more arduous expenditure of thought and energy. Surely there’s some sort of logical equation for that… E=MC2…? Yup, that’s got to be it.

At the end of each race, journey, accomplishment, etc. there’s a celebration of some sort. Hell, people do 5k’s just to drink the beer at the end. There always needs to be a release on the steam valve, otherwise there’s big “booms.” Booms can be bad… very bad. So how many of these celebrations do we take? How long do they go? When have we earned them? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jack a wild hedonist with alcohol issues.

“Life is too short.” “You only live once.” “No shoes, no shirt, no service.”

I’ll wear shoes into 7-11, that’s not the issue. “Work hard, play hard.” Okay, but WHEN?!

Is it about being regimented? Is it about being balanced? Is it about pursuit of purpose? Is it about pursuit of passion? Is your passion your purpose? Is your purpose your passion? Is your erection lasting longer than 4 hours?

FUCK.

What weighs important to us? I need an adult. Let’s check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs real quick…

Safety? Check. Could always need a few extra bucks, but good for now.

Love and belonging? Personally, very blessed and set in this department. If you struggle here, highly recommend finding a martial art that you want to learn and a great environment to train in. Message me if you want more on that. Seen the best of the best and worst of the worst.

Esteem? Check. Wasn’t easy for a while… but definitely in a good spot after many, MANY hours of struggling.

Aesthetics? There’s beauty in everything and everyone. Beauty and the Beast covered that a long time ago. Check.

Self Actualization? “an explicit motive is the objective of a reward-based system that is used to intrinsically drive completion of certain values or goals.” ….. rut roh, Shaggy. Perhaps I should work on setting and accomplishing goals? Maybe chasing a purpose more? Spend more time asking myself what I want my purpose to be?

Transcendence? “In his later years, Maslow explored a further dimension of motivation, while criticizing his original vision of self-actualization.[18][19][20][21] By these later ideas, one finds the fullest realization in giving oneself to something beyond oneself—for example, in altruism or spirituality.”

….wait. Do we need to HAVE self-actualization set to reach Transcendence? Or can it be bullshit and we realize we’re destined for more later? But if we’re a collective and it’s not about me, is even thinking about my role in it all creating an obstacle? Do I need to meditate to find a new purpose, something bigger than myself? How do I get rid of this headache that just instantly came on after writing that?

“Ignorance is bliss.”

/shrug

Takeaways…

  • I ramble too much. Possibly may need to work on my focus.
  • PIORITIZE SLEEP. You naturally heal physically and mentally here. Yes, you’ll sleep when you’re dead, but you’ll be there much sooner without sleeping well consistently.
  • Take care of your teeth. They’re expensive AF.
  • Teach the youth valuable lessons to help them build their foundations as youth is wasted on the young.
  • The big questions are the hardest and become the most meaningful down the life… and we’re blessed that we have the opportunity to ask them.
  • Taking care of the vehicle for the mind (your body) gives you the best chance for the most hours, but it’s all a roll of the dice at the end. An Okinawan phrase I’d hear a lot was “Eat to 70%” and a Taoist priest used to tell me “Food is medicine.” Goes hand in hand with “What you put in, is what you get out.” Wouldn’t put cheap oil in your Ferrari … would you?
  • Read, journal, and find a creative pursuit regardless of where you’re at. This will only help all other aspects of your life… and remember, you’re meant for better things than data input or working for Amazon.
  • Doing SOMETHING is better than nothing. One pushup is better than none. Reading one page is better than none. Cleaning 1 dish is better than none.
  • Put in effort to remember people’s names. A rose is a rose by any other name, but to be remembered means a lot.
  • Celebrate being alive, however you may do so. Eat some pizza, play a little longer, play hooky once in a while…Life is difficult and many were lost too early.
  • Spread positivity. That means…
    • Use positive language inside your mind and outside. The language you use is the reality you create.
    • Be kind.
    • Smile and try to make others smile
    • Throw away your trash and a piece or 2 of trash that isn’t yours daily.
    • Always try to make people’s lives easier.
    • Ask how you can help.
    • Lastly… PUT YOUR GROCERY CART IN THE RETURN

I’m sure there’s far more I could add, but we only have 24 hours a day… and 168 a week, and roughly 672,000 in our lives and I’ve been writing enough for today. Remember, how we use them, how we react to what happens in them, and how we celebrate them is ENTIRELY up to us. Whatever IT is, you can’t take it beyond this life. As we’re all just visiting…

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Fuck it. :)

Routine, habits, discipline… this is how you reach SUCCESS! EVERY DAY you need to grind and put in that 80 hours a week sacrificing anything even remotely enjoyable. Have a 6-pack, make 6 figures a MONTH, and drive a Bugatti. RAIN, SNOW, SLEET… FUCK your off-day. Vacations are for pussies!

I’ll pass.

Nature has but a few things that are routine or habitual. The sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening. The Earth will rotate yearly which gives us the opportunity to experience seasons, whether that be a drastic change (Massachusetts) or minimal (Cancuun). The leaves will drop in the Fall, they’ll grow anew in the Spring. So, yeah, it’s going to have it’s habits. It’s going to have regular occurrences. It’s going to have expected behaviors.

But from time to time there’s the freak storm that blows through, an earthquake that rattles the ground that we walk on, or a bird takes a shit on your head (I’ve heard it’s good luck, but it’s still quite the mess to clean up). Animals can act erratically too. Your pet dog may just sleep all day on a Monday, but then come Friday it has a case of the zoomies. Sound familiar?

“It’s 5am, I need to get to the gym so I can get my workout in before my 9am meeting, but I need to make sure I get a latte-mocha-chino-frappe with my avocado-egg-vegan-swiss-protein wrap on my way and then I have a flight I need to make at noon for the merger and be back home by 7pm so I can watch Johnny’s big game, but I’ll make sure to have my cell phone and laptop so I can get my work done. Then Tuesday I’ll do it again, but I don’t have to fly anywhere again until Thursday.”

I’ve heard and seen this nonsense before. These people are too busy to realize that they need to drink a water or rip a fart. They put the smile on their face but when they finally pull back the curtains they reveal the stress that they juggle daily, the bullshit they endure with their co-workers/peers, and the constant of trying to keep up with the Jones’s. Typically, their physical and mental health reflects it. Tony Robbins once said that, “The words we use is the reality that we create.” The same people that lived a life like that would text me with depressing complaints about a life that’s been formed through choices they’ve made. I entertained it for a bit in hopes that I could shed some light on their train of thought, but some people just loooooove complaining.

Too often do we get so busy that we miss all the beauty that life is laying out for us. I live on a very busy street in the heart of Plymouth, MA that rattles daily with loud cars/motorcycle gangs, first responders that keep their sirens on, and people that can’t handle their liquor. When it FINALLY gets quiet down here… nature’s simplicity and peace finally shines through. The tree out front reflects its’ foliage as the crisp autumn air blows. The ocean gives off its’ deep navy blue color with crests of white sporadically as miniature waves crash. Gray and white clouds glide across the horizon, peacefully as if they’re the pillow to the dark blue comforter that lies on nature’s bed.

When we’re answering emails, phone calls, pushing for our own versions of success, we may see these small gifts of sight that are laid before us on a day to day basis, but in no way do we actually have time to appreciate its’ wonder and absorb what we see. Not to mention the smells that are carried on the wind, the rustling of the leaves on the tree, or the chirps of the small flock of birds that have yet to descend south… reminding us that “winter is coming.”

There are days that I’m up, exercised, meditated, journaled, showered, and out the door to do a million and one things by 9am… but there are ALSO days that I glance out the window and glance at my “to-do list” like a chess match. If my errands and tasks spilled over to tomorrow, would my life change drastically? Am I able to take today and enjoy the peace that I’m surrounded by? Will the world end if I go hash it out endlessly with Verizon tomorrow instead of today?

Nope… Fuck it. Today has become a day of reflection and stillness. Even damning a fast flowing river for a single moment would create more pressure for its’ subsequent release.

People title these times as “vacations” or a “vacation day.” Or most employers do, I guess. You usually have to plan them in far in advance… so come these planned days off you could be stuck with weather conditions that resembled a hurricane or be so inundated with other unexpected stressors that you can’t enjoy it. Ever gotten sick right before “vacation?”

Spontaneous “Fuck-it days” are necessary. You can meditate forever, but there are still going to be emotions that creep up when your mind, soul, and body avoid the rest you desperately need. There’s such a thing as “overtraining” for your body, so there’s such a thing as “overtraining” your brain/soul. Honestly, I hit it that point so quickly I feel as if I should trademark “Fuck-it Days.” Maybe it’ll be “Phuck it Day” and put it on a T-shirt?

Put it this way… I’ve been called “lazy” or “undisciplined” and “dipshit.” The latter was by a random person on the internet, so it hit the hardest. These were mostly on days that I knew I was at work begrudgingly for many days in a row and obviously, not much good came of it. But remember – there is no darkness, just a lacking of light. There is no coldness, only lacking of heat. So is it really “lazy?” Or is it really “undisciplined?” Or is there just a deeper misunderstanding happening? Even sports competitors take unexpected “time outs” when a leader notices that they need a break. Perhaps that should be more widely looked at in professions besides sports?

Maybe your passion does not coincide with whomever spoke the harsh words? Or perhaps, are you easily distracted and your passions fall wayside because of toys, media, and fear that’s manifested as avoidance? Or do you not entirely care that the 711 slushie machine has dust on it? It’s liquid poison anyways.

Artists take a lot of these moments that we’re blessed with and create from their soul and their perspective. Critics lean on the other side of the scale by taking content made by an artist and speaking their opinion on it. Professional critics can get so skilled at absorbing people’s content and spitting out opinions that they may never create anything themselves. Sure, there has to be balance because a 3 year old can’t build a Michaelangelo sculpture… but some can finger paint like a mother fucker.

We all have the ongoing battle of the critic vs. the artist within us. Critics can tell you that the only way to the top is by grinding it the fuck out at that law firm and burning both ends of the candle. You’ll be happy when your bank account says so. You loved playing the paino when you were in school and had more time, but now “priorities” come first. The habit of consuming everyone else’s creations at all time (food, videos, pictures taken by other) feeds the critic. Small doses of such a thing can help spur inspiration and innovation feeding the artist, perhaps even steering you from what’s stealing your soul and helping you create again.

But a man needs to eat! So yes, there are days we get up and do some grinding to put money in someone else’s pocket. It may include travel, unwarranted respect to a superior, or just living in what can feel like an utter waste of time. But with the discipline of working on your passions, creating a healthy set of habits to engage said passions, and mastering your craft through that 10,000 hours of discipline… maybe one day that we do wake up and have to grind…we can be making money for ourselves instead of selling our souls daily for that wretched Mr. Burns.

Love thyself, take care of yourself, and be aware of what your soul needs. Create, admire, engage curiosity, genuinely spread positivity, exercise, eat well, drink water… and STRETCH. Be in the business of understanding there is only one YOU for this world and everyone else in it. When you take yourself your next Phuck-it Day™ remember… it’s just business.

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