An Open Correspondence with a Jehova’s Witness

This is an open correspondence with one of Jehova’s witnesses.  I received a hand written letter from her one Friday and immediately dropped everything I was doing to write her back.  Although my own subscription to atheism would normally make me appear cynical toward the idea, and I couldn’t not ask some absurd questions (see the part about meeting personally), I wanted to keep it respectful – after all, this was not her attacking me and my belief system.  My hope is that she takes my response with the same personal respect that every openly religious person demands for themselves.  It’s been just over ten days and I’ve not received a response but, beyond all other hopes, I really hope to get one soon.  I do feel bad for her with respect to one part of my letter back to her, as she seems to have now become involved in the cultural cross-fire over sexism – how could you not really?  The end of sexist history has its best platform yet: social media, and through this we’re finally seeing courageous women get the chances to act, be, and work that they’ve so rarely had before.  But, all the same, it would be irresponsible to not touch on such a topic that the Judeo-Christian culture has monopolized and reigned over.

                                                                                                              5/31/2014

Miss B——-

—————————

—————————

 

Dear Andrew Wright,

I’m one of your neighbors and also one of Jehova’s Witnesses.  I’m writing you this letter because I can’t contact you personally.

The future looks bleak to people.  How do you view the future?  Can world leaders bring about a brighter future?

The enclosed tract will give you a foregleam into the future.  If you have an opinion or any questions, you can contact me at the above address or contact us at jw.org.  I hope to hear from you soon!

Sincerely,

Miss B——-

 

 

                                                                                                                  6/10/2014

Andrew Wright

—————————

—————————

 

Dear Miss B——-,

I want to thank you for reaching out to me – a handwritten letter is so rare to come by these days.  To say the least it was refreshing to receive a sincere and respectable letter.  I, however, must type mine out because my handwriting is so awful that I would fear that even if you were able to discern most of it, the tone and meaning would suffer.  My handwriting gets worse the more coffee I drink, as well, but the pace of my writing hits only a certain apex after so much coffee; I’m damned to find the middle ground every day unfortunately.  So I have spared you that battle.  I do have many questions and I thank you for offering me the chance to ask and hopefully find answers.

I want to begin with the second paragraph where you ask me (which the pamphlet you’ve sent echoed) “How do you view the future?” after stating the future “looks bleak.”  I personally view the future with an unparalleled excitement – I certainly do not view the past with the same excitement, which just seems all too sad to me.  You conclude the paragraph with a follow-up: “can world leaders bring about a brighter future?”  So few world leaders affect my day-to-day that I don’t know if this question necessarily belongs in this paragraph, but it did get me thinking.  I couldn’t help but notice the date of your letter was May 31st of this year, and I didn’t receive it until June 6th of the same year.  The address you mailed this from (which doesn’t appear to be your residence but a church’s address) is not 2.5 miles from me; I remember one day in kindergarten we were tasked with writing a letter to our parents and then walked half a mile, as a class, to the nearest mailbox – which was roughly a mile from my parent’s house – and my mom received the letter later that day.  That was a few decades ago but I would happen to agree that things have become worse – I fear if I wait any longer to write and send this letter that it may never get to you, possibly falling into some human-delivery-event-horizon if you will.  I can’t help but feel that this has been the only way world leaders have truly affected my life but I will explore this again later, because I still have many other questions.

May I address your first paragraph now?  You open the paragraph addressing yourself correctly, that takes courage – I cannot tell you how many times Christians, Jehova’s Witnesses, the ascetic, etc. have addressed themselves improperly to me, almost for my sake.  Although it starts well, I’m quickly filled with dread by your second proposition – you can’t contact me personally?  Why can’t you contact me personally?  Are you under house arrest?  Are you trapped in this church?  Will something happen if you visit me?  Can you visit me in some other impersonal way?  Am I getting catfished?  I will continue on assuming that even if you’re being held beyond your control or are catfishing me, then you’re still acting on sincerity.  We can tackle those details in a later correspondence.

The pamphlet you enclosed was very helpful, but may I offer a suggestion?  It should be longer!  I understand there are economic constraints to deal with here, but there is clearly more to be said.  I am immediately confronted with a question at the top, and before I’m able to answer, I’m asked another question – this time multiple choice; however rhetorical it turns out to be, I felt like I was about to enter into a debate (or at the very least a polemic) on if our world will “stay the same”, “get worse”, or, in fact, “get better.”  I was disappointed to find two giant, white faces smiling as though posed for a Sears portrait, an Asian girl watering a plant, and one construction worker taking up the majority of the surface area.  I didn’t even get to entertain my own answers to the questions on the front!  But I read on.

The first headline I came across stated “What the Bible Says” and was followed with a much edited excerpt from Revelation 21:3-4.  I looked this up in my Bible to find what was removed.  I was startled to find that my Bible and the quote from this Bible were very different in the wording – am I using the wrong Bible?  Should I get a new one?  I currently have the English Standard Version and I see the pamphlet quotes from the New World Translation – is the ESV Bible from Old English?  Because, if not, then shouldn’t the New World and ESV be the same?  What is it that was translated for the better in the New World Translation?  Does it cost about the same?  I bought mine online so maybe that was my first mistake without being able to see and read it first.  But why is this cited so poorly?  Why does it not just quote Rev. 21:4 which is the whole quote in this pamphlet?  This Revelation hasn’t happened yet has it?  It’s written in future tense but then is peppered with past tense – is it going to happen or is it happening again or did I miss it in this lifetime like Haley’s comet?  Revelation 21:5 intrigues me and leaves me curious as to why this part wasn’t quoted in the pamphlet – it’s about God making all new things and beckoning that this all be written down; did he not know everything before that was already being recorded?  Why must it be written down?  None of the rest of this is so prefaced.

The first part of this pamphlet is not so easy for criticism obviously, so it’s ok if my questions above are not so easily answered – time, money, and space constraints considered.  The bottom of the same page offered hope for those already feeling lost since the reading the front – with the headline, “What That Can Mean for You”, there followed three bullet points with relevant citations.  I found this part very helpful but I still have many questions.

The second bullet point stated that this will mean for me “no more sickness or suffering of any kind” citing Isaiah 25:8; 33:24.  Isaiah 25:8 and Revelation 21:3 are very similar – did you know that God is said to have done the same thing twice?  Why didn’t He make all the new things back in Isaiah 25:8 as he does in 21:5?  Why wait so long?  As for Isaiah 33:24 – are people really sick because of iniquity?  I’m currently healthy except for the drainage I have every morning due to blocked sinuses ever since the weather changed for the better – am I iniquitous?  Who are the healthy and who are the iniquitous? 

The third bullet point stated that this will mean for me “a happy, unending life with family and friends” citing Psalms 37:11, 29.  These sections noted that we will get land but Revelation seems to be solely about unending life in a new paradise – where will I be living?  And with everyone?  Do I get to choose which friends and family?  Will my parents have a computer wherever it is that we are living?  I try to leave my parents’ house as soon as I “fix” their email problems – will there be technical resources on hand for them or will I have to continue this unrequited role?

The first bullet point stated that this will mean for me “meaningful and satisfying work” citing Isaiah 65:21-23.  Would you agree that we are solely defined by the work we do here?  Can we break out of this definition?  I hope so, and I feel like the rest of this book argues for something more than that.  I also fear that we become identified by only what we do – we can never be “who we are” until we do – is that true?  If so (and even if the contrary is true) has the unsatisfying work already defined us decadently?  Will one who aspires to do more be defined by the lowly work they start with or the better work they finish with?  Don’t those who work satisfied and unsatisfied strive for retirement?  Does this make retirement a sin or is it just a sin to ourselves?  I guess until I understand the value of my work and not wanting to work any longer I can take solace in not having to bear children “for calamity.”  Although Isaiah 65:22 in my Bible says “…my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands,” the Hebrew translation means “shall wear out” – I fear the emphatic difference between long enjoying the work of my hands and wearing my hands out.  Am I only satisfied or defined when my hands are worn out?

Can the three of these bullet points be taken together to mean unending work for me?  Will my hands no longer be worn?  I am very excited to go home after the usual nine hours and I love my job and what I do there.

The second page had a column titled “Can We Really Believe What the Bible Says?”  Once again, it doesn’t seem that I’m allowed to answer the question.  It does give two reasons why the answer is yes – would it be possible to get more?  It says “for at least two reasons” so there must be more sections I can read on why this is such an unequivocal answer.  The first reason provided was that God can fulfill promises and Matthew 19:26 was cited which ends with “…but with God all things are possible.”  This unfortunately reminds me of Dostoevsky’s quote from The Brothers Karamazov, “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.”  Does Matthew 19:26 have the same nihilistic undertones?  The reason I feel the tones are similar between this Russian Fatalism (written by a Christian) and the Bible, and thus could mean God would use this unlimited power for evil (instead of what is promised), was found shortly down the page under the second reason for why I can believe what the Bible says, where John 14:9 is cited after the heading “God has the desire to fulfill the promise.”  The pamphlet stated that “Jesus perfectly reflected his Father’s personality…;” John 14:9 doesn’t say anything about “personality” but this may simply be an issue of translation (maybe the New World Translation addresses this) – why does God have a personality?  Does that not make him scarily human?  Does that not mean “everything is permitted” instead of “all is possible?”  I hope not.

The back of the pamphlet suffered the most from stringiness.  Before getting into requesting my personal information to then give me more information at zero cost, there was a section on meditation in the meantime titled “To Think About” followed with a question: “How will God change our world for the better?”  The answers apparently lie in Matthew 6:9-10 and Daniel 2:44; however, nothing is quoted nor paraphrased, so I took it upon myself to read these sections instead of assuming those answers are there and probably pretty good.

Matthew 6:9-10 is only part of the Lord’s Prayer – why such a small part and not the whole thing?  Matthew 6:1-15 makes more sense, even though there are overt socialistic implications here (and throughout much of the sequel/New Testament).  I do wonder though, why must I pray so secretively?  6:5-6 says I should pray in a locked room, which I think anybody would be happy to do, but it makes me curious as to why so many congregate to pray now?  Or is this something the New World Translation and the denomination of being a Jehova’s Witness addresses?  Does this also have to do with why you can’t contact me personally?  Are more people needed to be more respectful of this secrecy? 

Daniel 2:44 – is this about Heaven or the Earth?  Which is it that I’m inheriting?  I mean, first and foremost I should state that I am not meek, like at all – nor are any of my friends.  But if this is also something I no longer have to worry about, I feel obligated to confess that I once inherited two frogs and could only care for them for a little over a fortnight before they began to turn peaked and more float-y than swim-y.  Luckily someone else was on hand to take them from me and give them a better life.  Is whatever I inherit something I will have to tend to – regardless of how worn my hands are?

I hope my questions aren’t too numerous and I hope that you can address some of them but I do have more that go outside this pamphlet.  I keep hearing about this war on religion – should I be concerned about this?  Do I need to take a side?  The actual “war” on religion, if it can be called that, began (if I have my timeline correct) roughly at the end of the 18th century and continued strongly throughout the 19th century.  How is the war coming along?  Is anyone winning?  I know that religion has made a strong comeback since the late 19th century and more and more individual cases of the irreligious come up, but only as individuals – do people actually think there is a war on religion let alone one that religion is losing?  Does “all is possible,” all being permitted, mean that religion must have all?  Does it consume or simply possess?  I happen to understand the significance of religion and could never wish it away, but is it worth proclaiming a war that does not even exist?  Won’t this be alienating for anyone and everyone?  Is that permitted? 

Also, why so unfair to women?  The whole book seems to be against women – in a collection full of subjects, she is object.  Why?  I can’t help but notice that although there are stories of courage, this is not a book about courage.  The very opposite, in fact.  You seem to be courageous though – where did it come from?  What is it that men are supposed to fear?  What is it that men are supposed to fear with respect to this book?  Is it women?  It appears to be women.  Have you, personally, seen what courageous women are doing these days?  Oh boy.  Some of them are even getting killed for being as such.  Is that not the most incredibly nauseating thing you’ve ever heard?  The damnedest thing is that it doesn’t take much for men to be courageous – they’re all so afraid of everything these days!  Yet inspiring women are coming out of every corner it seems.  Because I’m a fan of the softer, more invasive arts, I recommend some easier reads, listens, indulgences than what one can find in the Women’s Studies and Political and Current Affairs sections of bookstores – mostly for the sake of easing into the cold water on that first daybreak: have you read Patricia Lockwood’s Rape Joke?  Or Jen Kirkman’s I Can Barely Take Care of Myself?  Or listened to Sara Bareilles’ Brave Enough?  Or Fiona Apple’s When the pawn…?  Evidence of strong women is everywhere in the most influential mediums like television, music, movies, literature without having to delve into the classics.  Saving the world the work of having to read or, even, do, it’s best to offer a passive means to understand strength as not necessarily a “masculine” feature: watch what Elizabeth Meriwether, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Schumer, Jessi Klein, Kay Cannon, Chelsea Peretti and Paula Pell have done for the contemporary sitcoms and the future of the variety show.  If it’s not enough to appreciate the writing and producing, then I offer recommendations of watching the following in something, anything: Casey Wilson, Michaela Watkins, Rashida Jones, Cecily Strong, Amy Poehler, Jenny Slate, or Sasheer Zamata.  If this is still too much work, Twitter offers a fantastic means of sampling inspiration, might I recommend following: Andrea Savage, Vanessa Bayer, Nikki Glaser, Megan Amram, April Richardson, Hannah Hart, Grace Helbig, Jen Kirkman, Arden Myrin, Kristen Schaal, Morgan Murphy, Aisha Tyler, or Julieanne Smolinski.  If the theme is laid on too thick, I want to make it evident as to why: comedy used to be (and is still accepted as) a man’s game only.  There are certain prejudices about women who are funny or intelligent that strips them of their womanhood – my challenge to those who see the world in such light is to find those prejudices among this collection of artists.

This is where my point should hopefully be its most prominent – I apologize, usually a thesis is stated much earlier.  I identify physically and sexually (I hope I did not make you blush) as a man but find more women to be inspiring these days than men – it’s not something sought out either, I happen to miss being inspired to play men’s basketball, I put on weight in the winter.  Perhaps the most inspiring people I have observed are those that have endured an upbringing based on a literal reading of the Bible – at the top of the list is my wife, who was born unto a generation no longer meant to feel the shame and subjugation perpetuated by sections like Matthew 5:32, Timothy 2:11-12, Ephesians 5:1-33, and Deuteronomy 22:13-30.  Women are born predisposed to a state of subordination that comes with the weight of years of culturally inclusive subjugating, socially, and objectifying, in comfort, which is only carefully being washed away.  Yet those before us whose courage was still arrested in development taught us to have the courage to be us – this is our hope, our not-so-bleak future.  Saying yes to life and doing yes (as taught to us by Nietzsche) was embraced through a hashtag; I implore you and all others to see what #YesAllWomen and #YesAllPeople has done for public discourse.  The future is bright for those with courage.

I understand the conflict any of this might birth, after all because Nietzsche, too, said some awful things about women I should rightfully find little substance in the culture he promotes; however, to Nietzsche this was not a central theme, nor was it of the same resentment perpetuated in the Bible and other religious texts.  This is analogous to the work of Ayn Rand.  She put her faith in true capitalism which was her real area of effort, all other subsequent conclusions (i.e. sociologically without regard for her own psychology, emotionally without regard for her own history) were born from resentment and became thematic to her, institutional even.  If only she left these errors alone instead of constantly incorporating them.  Readers of Nietzsche today don’t take to his sexism (unless they’re seeking that out, which would make them a very specific type of scholar) because it can be resolved, rationalized even.  A couple years ago, two of my friends were married in a Lutheran church (I don’t know which translation of the Bible they use though) and were required to attend counseling sessions before so the pastor could decide on whether he would marry them or not.  One of the first maxims he taught them was that the man does (and always so) come first; the man’s job is the important one of the household; the man’s role is to keep the family together and without that role the family no longer exists.  This type of cultural sexism predates the Bible, undoubtedly, and much like certain people, from a certain generation, one could excuse it for not knowing any better; but maybe because these teachings and this culture are so strongly persistent in the Bible they still persist in our culture today.

Please do not take any of this as disrespectful; I could not intend it anymore diametrically opposite than this (I do apologize for you having gotten in the crossfire of this).  Perhaps you do not have all these answers or even want to begin trying to answer them, but just maybe you are also as curious as I am about them.

At my most sincerest,

Andrew

P.S. – I would not want to leave you without some further reading suggestions that may act as good supplemental reading to the Bible along with the above: The Rebel by Albert Camus, Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain, Remembering Che: My life with Che Guevara by Aleida March, This is Water by David Foster Wallace, and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

Comments

The disillusioned exploits of a porn star at home on a weekday

Sitting on my couch very Wednesdayingly around 7 PM on a Monday, I remember my day with the porn star on the floor below me.

As most hormonally imbalanced people have done un-, or the better, consciously done over time, I pieced together what a porn star’s life was like from porn, non-porn television, and day dreams.  It always seemed no less than great but never better than amazing; I was certain they had their amazing days just like I have my great days now, but it wasn’t consistently at amazing that’s just absurd.  Lots of Limp Bizkit, lots of optional blow, a buffet of crab legs/cheesecake, a soft serve machine, clean glasses and dishes, a lot of white walls, guys who don’t do a lot of talking, and no apologies all within giant houses that none of them seemed to own but had no problem having sex in.  In between digesting omega-3’s, one would go in front of some bright lights, get over their fear of people watching and waiting for them to make the first move, take the sex level up from 0, and then head back to the buffet thinking to oneself, “this definitely sounds like the same songs they made for that really bad album.”

The reality of this life is far from my strung together idealized version, at least for the example 11 feet below.  First, I would like to admit that this is not as cool as my middle school self once believed - not only is it disenchanting but it’s also annoying, she’s very loud and disruptive during casual sex with her boyfriend who is  a DJ, presumably, professionally. Her boyfriend must be still trying to find his “sound” for he plays loud terrible music non-stop, which comes close to my middle school fantasy of being a or around porn stars but instead of Limp Bizkit it’s Mudvayne or Disturbed or Staind or indiscriminate rap.  They own two small dogs that are seemingly afraid of life and, I imagine, pray for death every morning.  They cook weird shit.  He owns a marine uniform, whether or not he ever once was one is unknown.  She goes to Los Angeles often.

Monday at 8:30 AM, they’re not awake because the dogs are dead silent and there are no sex noises.  At noon there are dog noises, the source is still indeterminate.  It becomes 1 and there are rumblings around the house - she sits outside smoking. Sometimes the dogs accompany her, but not today, not now - maybe they’re dead.  1:30, they are not - dog noises again, the source could only comprehensibly be the dogs.  2:20 comes with subtle noises of housework or at least the presumed  common labor that should produce such noises; I could be completely wrong and there are set designers that take care of this around 7:15 every evening when the first wave of music usually starts.  Some other possibilities to explain the 2:20 noise: preparing a bad meal, resuscitating the dog, smoking inside and then cleaning the walls and furniture of the smell, some yoga to make herself think that she’s going to start doing this every day, rearranging her French literature but this time in alphabetical order by existential-political undertone, rebuilding her therapeutic box fort to help deal with paternal issues, or minor woodwork.  

The late afternoon approaches and fades into evening, and there is little noise except for some confirmed dog barking and another trip outside for smoking.  The boyfriend comes home to the downstairs mid-range apartment from his must-have day job, or wakes up, and then the music starts to play - at this point it’s all original stuff.  Sometimes they cover up their “love” making with music but not very well; at this point, they are not pretending they have it all figured out.  Their relationship probably transcends conversation.

The music shuts off around 8; they probably watch Bones.  Some nights the music comes back on around 10, but not this night.  It stays quiet.  

Around 12:30 DJ Sexparty and Pornstar make fast art.  Everything is audible and I have the unfortunate knowledge of their pace and what their skin sounds like.  They finish early on this Monday night and they don’t talk afterward.

Comments

The Night We Kidnapped My Friend part. 3

Not feeling any better, we got back into the Explorer.  Mango never had been so tasteless to me.  The trop bev.  The tropical beverage I had was mango flavored.  You were wondering why I was trying to taste mango.  As we reluctantly pulled out of the parking lot deciding to go back to Trevor’s driveway to await whatever lawful fate would find us, my phone rang again only this time by Alex’s number.  I’m sure I asked “hello?” but all I remember is the roar of laughter on the other end.  Alex explained the important details and we decided to meet at Trevor’s.  Scott burst into tears and I into laughter burning all the nervous energy.

When we met again in Trevor’s once-a-garage-now-a-room room, they told us the story of what happened: after Trevor had taken the left at the second fork, sticking themselves into a dead end, they were surrounded by multiple police cars, spotlights shining, cops out of their cars, guns pointed.  Over the loudspeaker, one cop demanded they show their hands and exit the car.  Trevor attempting to do so while unlocking and exiting the car was reprimanded and once again given clear instructions.  This happened again.  Once Alex, Trevor, Kirk and Bakun were out of the car, one cop demanded “who is in the trunk?” They responded with “him,” pointing at Alex.  The cop again demanded “who is in the trunk?”  Still trying to explain with “him,” pointing again at Alex.  Not taking their word, the cops searched the trunk and presumably found no man, noman, nomen.  Then the whole car was searched and they were frisked.  The cops found the blue curly wig and felt it integral to verbally note this into the walkie talkie.  Upon frisking Alex they found the worst of the contraband on any one of us - the knob from Trevor’s bed.  ”What’s this?” the cop demanded.  ”Uh, a knob,” Alex replied uncertainly.  ”You steal knobs too?”  This was just another group-idiosyncrasy to add to the list for the cops to understand that night.  After this, I’m sure the police asked something along the lines of “why?” or “huh?”  And so my friends explained that this was being filmed for a school project, to which the cops asked if this part was being filmed too.  A balanced battle of hoping this part was being filmed and this part was not being filmed went through their heads - I regret not having stuck around to film the rest of it, but we would have undoubtedly been in more trouble had we filmed this as well.  The police were seemingly understanding, because according to them the weekend previous some disruptive kids were filming for an actual school project at Meijer as well (some friends of ours come to find out the next Monday), and so Alex, Trevor, Kirk, and Bakun were given the sentence of apologizing to the still panicked lady in the white van, the store manager (which is when Steve and Cristina saw them), and the police.  And so they left and called us with the good news.

Scott then explained, “Yeah when you called I just started crying!”

Comments

The Night We Kidnapped My Friend part. 2

I fancied myself as an “excellent” cameraman based on very little in my life other than the constant pursuit of someone who would let me film something they wanted filmed.  I believe my inspiration was Brad Pitt’s character in Spy Game.  For most of Trevor’s film related projects I was able to film parts of them but never received a credit for it.  I had the camera and was following the rest of the group around Meijer.  It was mostly me pointing it at Trevor as he did things I believe he thought were out of the ordinary but still needed to be filmed - for example, climbing up a shelf and then jumping down on Scott.  The angle was shot correctly but the footage was almost pointless.  

After fragmenting, we all met back up in the furniture section of Meijer.  By the way, did you know that Meijer had a furniture section?  Or furniture worthy of a whole section?  Or enough demand to warrant the selling of furniture in a Meijer?  It all seemed so fanciful as it was the first time I found out they had one after shopping in Meijer stores (not Meijers) for several years.  There sat on a couch with three other guys Alex, Bakun, and Kirk.  The rest of us, including a few others from their group, stood there wondering who everyone was.  Those on the couch were talking and sharing french fries that I didn’t even know about.  Bakun started to explain to one of the others sitting closest to him what we were doing.  ”We’re going to kidnap someone,” he said.  ”You gonna kill somebody?!” inquired the other.  ”No, no, we’re gonna kidnap someone,” Bakun retorted.  ”Who you gonna kill?  Her?” the other inquired further, this time pointing to some passing-by shopper who, justifiably so, felt less comfort then.  ”No, him,” Bakun explained, pointing to Alex.  ”Why?  He owe you money?”  ”No, as a joke.  We’re going to film it.”  The stage was set?  There are still many things I’m uncertain about, such as when it was planned for, why we waited until we did, if we were actually looking for an audience, and when Bakun, Alex, and Kirk stopped to get these french fries why they didn’t ask to get the rest of us anything. 

The plan was simple in practice yet complex in moral ambiguity for a high school student: Trevor, Bakun, and Kirk would be in Bakun’s car driving around the parking lot waiting for Alex to be out in front of Meijer; Alex was to walk back and forth from the lot to the front of the store until the timing was perfect; I was filming; Scott was the person I was pretending to film for a school project.  The other group were hanging out of one of the automatic doors - all six or seven of them, but to not raise suspicions, they all looked anxiously in the same direction.  Once the timing was right, the car squealed it’s tires to a stop, two hooligans got out to attack a screaming Alex.  Alex was screaming very loudly.  Super loud.  It’s very funny and if Alex is ever hurt or scared I will unfortunately only laugh breathlessly at him.  They threw him into the trunk of Bakun’s car and took off.  I unwittingly noticed the white minivan that followed but didn’t think it actually followed.  The other group of kids were laughing hysterically, and Scott and I were satisfied - boredom quelled.  The concerned shoppers coming and going stared in shock as to what they just saw; the other group of kids even went on to lyingly explain to one shopper between laughs that someone just got kidnapped and they had no idea what actually happened - it was great.  

Scott and I jumped into his Explorer, caught our breath, and called them to find out what they wanted to do next - maybe a Dunkin Donuts run for a trop bev.  At this point they had stopped and let Alex out of the trunk but were driving in the winding “park” that toured you around shop after store but eventually let you out to the freeway.  We took the same route to meet up and soon noticed that they were being followed by a white minivan - I immediately called to warn them.  We also had a tail.  We started to catch up with them as they were coming to the end of the road - the road ended with a fork and three lanes.  Two lanes went left to the freeway, one lane went right to a bunch of industrial buildings no one ever went to.  Trevor turned right.  That’s when Scott and I started to sweat.  The van followed and so did we.  We came to another fork not even half a mile down this road, they went left and we went right - our tail followed us.  We found ourselves at a dead end and started to turn around when our tail came within inches of Scott’s bumper and decided to turn, quite widely.  Once our windows were align, we saw two slovenly hillbilly-esq types who stared deadly and without urgency at us.  Scott, wittingly (super pun), asked “do you know how to get out of here?”  They continued their wide turn without so much as a flicker on their dead faces and almost hit Scott’s passenger door.  Scott and I began to really worry.  They drove away.

As we came out back to the last fork in the road, we saw the white minivan stopped and crawled up to it slowly to find an overwhelmed with panic lady with her cell phone out, calling everybody and shouting hysterics.  We politely asked, “do you know how to get out of here?”  She piecemeal-ly said that she didn’t know how to get anywhere and that essentially she was a bit scared.  We said thank you even though I’m pretty sure in that situation, had we not been the primary reason for her panic, we could have been much more mean for her not helping us get unlost.  As we started to drive away, with the freeway in sight, a cop car passed us going at least double the 25 MPH speed limit.  If I remember right, before the words “oh shit” could have their moment in this act, three other cop cars passed by, immediately surrounding Bakun’s car which was now visible to us stuck in some cul-de-sac far to our right.

After we got onto the service drive, I suggested in our shared moment of terror going back to Trevor’s and sit in his drive way.  We asked a lot of questions to anyone who was willing to answer them.  Granted it was still just the two of us and neither of us was in on some elaborate police-involved part of this, so we didn’t have any answers to give.  After about fifteen minutes of just sitting in Trevor’s drive way, phone painfully silent, blood cells taking full tours of our circulatory systems, I thought we should at least make a Dunkin Donuts run.  We decided this was a good idea in case someone say, the police, decided to come looking for the rest of us.  We went in, I bought a trop bev and used the restroom.  While in the restroom, my phone finally ended it’s half hour silent treatment - it was Steve.  This would have been a bad time for him and Cristina to meet up with us.  He asked me with concern rather than curiosity, “what’s going on?”  I asked him, “why?”  He said him and Cristina were just at Meijer and saw Alex, Trevor, Kirk, and Bakun inside, and when he approached them Alex told him they couldn’t talk right now.  I explained everything to Steve.

Comments

The Night We Kidnapped My Friend part. 1

The fun had by adolescents in high school that appealed to little other people could not outweigh the boredom; we spent most weekends in our friend Trevor’s room which smelled of furry dog shit if the door that led to the breeze way was left open too long.  It’s clear now that all we did was try to destroy, conquer boredom.  It was our only true sickness as a group - otherwise we suffered from very little; Alex and Trevor throwing the curve.  Steve was with Cristina.  Scott brought me to Trevor’s.  Alex showed up.  A couple of guest starring roles were filled by Kirk and Bakun.  There were hopes of Steve and Cristina joining us later but until then, there we were sitting, feeling the tinge of boredom at the root of our follicles embedding it for another weekend.  One weekend before, Trevor, Alex, Bakun and Kirk stumbled upon a solution: false kidnappings.  Alex was the born screamer, so naturally we kidnapped him the most.  They had done this at several different places striking the unconscious apathy of current day gas station attendants and fast food restaurateurs; placing a weight of ridiculousness on the mind and representing a portent of things to come that never came, all things fad-like considered.  Trevor had a camcorder because he liked making films no one liked to watch more than once - no one really knows how he got it considering his room was a garage that was not needed for storage and could not be used for car quarters.  They filmed their first attempts at getting a rise out of the common folk, but it was night and they were all piss poor cameramen, or camera-persons.

Boredom approaching us faster than a soluble single answer to it, we all seemed game for yet apprehensively nervous about another kidnapping only this time at the super store, Meijer - sometimes called Meijers.

We took two cars.  Trevor, Scott, and I were in Scott’s Explorer which had the color of teal one only finds in the early 90’s but befits a semi-skater high school student in the early naughts.  The rest were in Trevor’s family’s car (this was only days after Trevor received his driver’s license - usually spelled “licence” in Great Britain).  That same week at school was the supposed “spirit” week where those going to the school got to show their allegiance and appreciating by taking part in activities and dress codes that specific students created - it truly was the best way to show those specific students you thought their ideas were great by having fun adhering to generic off-beat styles that bent rules.  High school was the best for those who found simple things funny and great.  I at some point accidentally forgot to return someone’s giant blue curly wig.  I stole it passively.  I didn’t care but I also didn’t need it ever.  Kirk spent most of the night with it after he took it out of my truck.  Trevor had an idiosyncratic attachment to things that were “off” to him.  I would claim he was obsessive-compulsive about the order of his room, but it wasn’t quite…real to be that.  His bed, meant to be the bottom bunk of bunk beds, had knobs in the posts.  Alex took one of the knobs, as one of us normally did whenever visiting, and placed it in his pocket Trevor never being the wiser.

At a traffic light somewhere on Middlebelt (sometimes spelled Middle Belt, sometimes pronounced “Middebelt”), the Trevor family owned car was asked by two ruffians in another car if they had “dem grundos.”  However they answered, none of them nor us in the other car had any grundos.  Weeks before, hanging out in the back parking lot of a Taco Bell because the inside was closed a group of similar characters plus a few extra were approached by another car that clearly avoided the drive-thru (sometimes misspelled drive-threw).  The two inside asked us if we knew Big Pete.  None of us knew at the time and some of us to date still don’t know a Big Pete.  I want to know a Big Pete so I can wish that if I could go back in time I would go back to that day and say a reluctant “yes” or wait until they left and told my friends “I should have said ‘yes.’”

Comments

Tennessee Sucks (yes, named after bad Ryan Adams song)

I was in Tennessee once. I had $90.00 to my name. I had the posture of a quitter. Who, the drunken man in front of St. Peter’s asked, is your fiction?


I turned my attention to the wild sky. Who is your wild sky? I had the wrong shirt on for the humidity. Who is your fire? 

I left Tennessee the way most writers leave places; alone. I read the first nine pages of a Herman Hesse collection and fell asleep before ascension. I may have dreamt of the drunken man. I may have just been thinking about him. Either way, my imagination had him saying, “you tell people who you don’t love that you love them - the ones you really love have no idea.”  The man with a paper bag for a hand and tar for knuckles seemed to be smarter than he looked. Who writes the letters back? Or better yet, who never does?

Back home, at a diner, I crafted the creamers, the napkin bands, the rind from my grapefruit, and the silk flowers into a portrait of the waitress in a pretty field. You are beautiful, the petals spelled. She wasn’t. At least not to me. But I thought it would make her smile. 

My father left two messages the day I was in Tennessee. He misses mom more than I do. Because of that, it’s hard to call him back. I packed the one-hitter and drew a picture of the old drunk in front of that random church. Who is your fiction?

Who, may I ask, is asking? 


Comments

Biblical Rough Drafts: Noah’s Arc

As God always commandeth, never look directly into an eclipse, don’t go out into the cold with wet hair, and most definitely do not masturbate on Mother’s day.  For one unfortunate middle aged miserable sexless man, all conditions fell on the same day one year.  Thirteen days before, God spoketh unto Noah that he would make it rain like a mother fucker (which is an obsolete unit of time measurement equaling roughly 40 nights), and that he was to build a big boat, but not like the big boats he had seen.  Bigger.  This part took a bit of explaining, conceptually, for Noah had seen some of the pleasure yachts that some of the more wealthy had, and Noah, being a relativistic man, kept comparing them to every boat he knew.  God finally goteth the picture across to him when he said it had to house all of the animals, ever.  Noah asked about the animals in other lands.  God said not to worry about those because only He had seen them.  Noah then asked about the animals that were super far away.  God said that if they wanted to live they could make the trip.  Noah then inquired as to all of the people on the planet.  God was not ready for this, because He was always a “let’s run with this idea” kind of guy before thinking it through; but to cover His tracks He said, “they too will have boats!”  This was a lie because He forgot to tell others – luckily He did make a mental note.

Twelve days later, He still forgot to mention it to others.  He most certainly kicked himself for this.  However Noah had proceeded accordingly and builteth the most beautiful of wooden boats without a lacquer finish relative to the time.  It was a particularly cold day, for there was a cold front pushing through.  When God realized it was half past noon and still only 43 degrees Fahrenheit out, He realized He forgot to remind Noah of the three most deadly sins of the day, for Noah was a forgetful gus.  It was also a particularly bitter Mother’s day – Noah’s wife who bore only one child by then was told by Noah on that day that she and her offspring would have to ride in a different boat, as was Noah’s understanding of God’s command.  It was later clarified, albeit briefly, by God that this was not necessarily so.  About three in the afternoon, Noah had decided to take an extra long shower to really cleanse his “inners” as he liked to say to friends and local ladies of the night.  Without drying his hair, he went outside in a hurry to find that it was still not raining (He had forgotten about the time He promised), but insteadeth of a shining sun, he found ever growing darkness.  He looked up to find something “eating the sun” as he shouted.  God having heard this outbursteth, remembered what He was supposed to do and just before triggering his rain/vacation, he found Noah committing all of the sins ever – all three!  He now even hated Himself more for forgetting.  He did what He had to do and gave Noah the radioactivity all over.  Luckily back in Biblical times, radioactivity did nothing to the genetic good stuff that kept cells doing their things and DNA acting like a boss.  It did however give Noah a healthy green glow in dim conditions and a ravenous demeanor/appetite.  

The animals arrived, all with a plus one, which was incredibly rude seeing as though the invite never specified so.  On the other hand, the animals were far more aware of how they had to reproduce than Noah did, so this just ended up better.  They sailed later that evening.  

The first fort night was off-putting for most of the animals who had to dealeth with Noah directly.  He was distant, passive-aggressive, and grumpy.  He grew a crazy amount of facial hair which, according to his wife, was a bit gross.  Soon he stopped coming out of his room for his daily walks.  Around day 27, all the animals and person stopped seeing him for the remainder of the pleasure cruise.  Nobody seemed to mind; the awkwardness only dwindled and soon the fun really started to happen.

Day 41 came as quick as the second and the animals were sad to return to dry land.  Most kept in touch of the years.  However, no one had seen Noah in weeks and some started to worry.  A three-toed sloth and a handful of snails went looking in the captain’s quarters, which was rumored to have been selfishly designed personally for Noah only who “phoned” the rest in.  Nine days later, they found him where they set off to find him.  He was wide-eyed and malnourished.  He didn’t say a word, but shot out of the room and went straight at a group of animals still just hanging out.  He would have went for the sloth and snails but sloths, or slothums, are known for their tough, unsavory meat and snails, as was known to Noah, were to be the punishment food for the prophesized sinful French.  Noah went at the group of animals all bitey like, and took flesh from them with each snap of his jaw.  He bit a spider, a lizard, and a hulk.  Nearly 2000 years later, there were superheroes.

Comments

What we’ve been up to lately

me: candy

Andy: axel

ready to do this porn?

me: yes, yes i am ready to do this porn. let’s do this porn.

Andy: good

me: my place or yours?

Andy: THE place

me: the raft or the factory?

Andy: factory more specifically the raft factory

me: the refectory raft factory?

Andy: no, the one on 17th, the confectionary refectory raft tractor factory

me: with all the confetti?

Andy: confetti yes, topped with spaghetti

me: That’s a strange factory. Especially because Tom Petty, Richard Petty, and Eddie Money all go there for the spaghetti

Andy: yeah, it is strange, which I think is what makes it so special to film porn there

me: Who’s playing Sweaty Eddie?

Andy: Thin, pale, relaxed Paul. the guy who never does anything and falls asleep when he stands

me: perfect. Paulfect.

Andy: he doesn’t like being called that since defecting but hes for some reason ok with Paulfecting

me: He does have a huge cucumber though.

Andy: yeah, well reknown for his gardening, too bad his penis is so ragged

me: yeah, it’s a shame. his penis looks like a turnip. 

Andy: one of those turnips you swore was grown on it’s side, in a tight space, while being melted on the other

Comments

Despair in a trop bev, exile from the public pool: or “Dear Alex,”

Alida’s song Paulsen Gary,

Ten years down the line I will hopefully have grown to accept Wednesdays as equals to any other day.  A week before that I was confused as to why it was a Saturday and not a Wednesday, but given that I was still struggling with accepting Wednesdays, that was better.  I don’t know why I was still fixated on “honest work” - that’s the problem with the world, nobody knows honest work.  Customer service is a real fucking problem - I mean will anyone still listen to Albom then?  Customer service is where the answers are, that’s where the work needs to be, that’s where the focus of today’s youth needs to be and what they need to teach for those $80,000 USD college degrees - $8 an hour will be plenty for those people to give answers and have their “hands tied” over issues unresolved and to take the ear full of hate, glamorous, glamorous hate - hate felt toward someone for answering a phone and being behind in a building owned by someone with more worth.  Honest work still lives and breeds from our strongest corporations.

Your death will be sweet though, I assure you.  Trevor won’t be invited, not for any particular reason (after all, you will have forgiven him for cutting up your face like that by then), but just to make your funeral seem super exclusive.  I will sing McLachlan’sAidia.  You will do nothing as told and as dictated by the nature of death.  I will invite all those that you chose to have an 8 year removed conversation with, back when we discussed “of those you don’t associate with from high school, who would you meet up with for a conversation today?”  I remember my list including those that I would have liked to have a conversation with back then, mostly because as someone who observed rather than was observed, I noticed them very little when we did go to school - so maybe they were just the next step in the allegory, or the predicate of the still withstanding moral of the movieEnemy of the State.  

If your death is sooner, I will not be taking part in it.  This plan is too good and if you want to fuck that up, then settle with the listless, everyday type of funeral.

Why was it so easy to not do assignments and tests?  Do you remember being sick, missing a test in pre-calc and then coming down to the attendance office to have me do some of the problems?  Or back in middle school when people paid you to do their homework for them?  Why did playing the game ever seem so hard?  Ten years from now, I hope my regrets are not the same; I hope I don’t think deeply about the irrelevance of the hours spent and the work put into what I do now as I do now about then.  I realized the “secret” of all that way too late in my grade school career and even spent another six months or so realizing it’s actuality in all things in that realm. 

I feel like what got us into the pool to begin with was that back then we didn’t swim in the pool - we were certainly at the pool, but looking from outside was our thing (and supposedly the thing of everybody).  Our social apathy was symptomal of an awareness rather than it’s own self-sustaining alienation - we were self-alienated because we understood far too well.  That caused us to jump into the pool.

Welcome back to our Book of Creation,

CM14977

Comments

A letter to my friend, Andy

Anders Danielle Wrikstrom,

Ten years from now, what are we doing? Well, for starters, I’ll be dead. And it will be a Wednesday. 

Andre Donyelle Wree-Wree,

Ten days prior, what were we doing? It was a Wednesday, so I was puking. You were reading over your resume and googling opportunities to make money for compiling such a ragtag collection of “honest work”.

Angie Belcher’s Wreath,

Ten thousand years from now, what are we doing? I’d like to think we will be given a fresh start. You, as a melody. Me, as a melon. 

Gandy Dancer,

I find it interesting that you are able to trace back who you are now to specific points in your life. I can’t remember being like this. Feeling like this. I remember getting praise from teachers and peers for most all homework I completed before the hour before. But that feels like some in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king shit. I remember you. You had a Pacers jersey on. You used to hit threes. And of course I remember events as they are retold and reminisced over, but 90% of my memories feel no different than recalling plot lines and characters from my favorite novels. I don’t even remember myself as being short until I was about 20. 

I think I’m rather embarrassed of my insignificance. 

And you know, I look back on these prideful moments from my past; Trevor’s movies, The Packet, a gentleman’s bet in Mr. Treppa’s class, ACTs, golf, bullshitting my way through Model U.N., breaking tackles, a solid fight club record, etc. and they certainly don’t feel like accomplishments. Merely necessary checkpoints to keep this little fellow afloat. This isn’t news. All high-schoolers are insecure. My point, once again, is that when I’m forced to evaluate how small my life has been, it reinforces how small it will most likely continue to be. And that scares me. So, I rarely think about it. 

However, I very much appreciated reading your letter because it provided some clarity on hating myself. We were on to something. I get that now. We weren’t special. We weren’t delusional beyond the scope of normal teenagers either. I had a keen analytical awareness. Trevor had the potential that made kids want to start fights with him. You were soaking up information both socially and intellectually,  a rare combination for a teenager. Later, we would discover that by cultivating these attributes as a group, we were destining ourselves to swim in the big pool of people who think what they have to say is important. 

This sounds self-loathing. It’s not, I promise. To this day, I’m confident I have the upper-hand in most conversations. I can gage what people are looking for out of their interactions with me and happily provide them with it. Sometimes I’m really proud of what I write. I love having you in my life too. Without you, I’m confident I wouldn’t have created nearly as much as I have over the past three years. If it amounts to something, it’s wonderful practice. If it doesn’t, I still have an impressive amateur portfolio. 

At times it seems like we are going in the wrong direction, but when you force me to look back at those irritating little fucks we once were, I have to imagine were still moving forward. 


Peace and love,

kunfusin@aol.com



Comments