Redemption


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I’m 26 and I’ve lived a life once over. I’ve been across the country several times. I’ve been married. I’ve done things I’m not proud of and done thing I have been proud of.

Gmac told me nearly a year ago I’m too hard on myself. I am… I was.

What gnaws at me is the things I haven’t done.

It hasn’t been an easy life, but it hasn’t been a hard one either. Call it survivor’s guilt. Call it easy man’s guilt. I hold myself to a higher standard I believe I can never meet.

With all the steps I’ve taken: growing, maturing, anger, hate, forgiveness of her, of everyone who’s wronged me… the last step has always been truly, fully and completely forgiving myself. Forgiving myself of all the missed chances, the laziness, the pain I’ve brought on myself and the messes I make, unwilling to clean up fast enough.

I can meet it. I can overcome it. I can destroy it.

Some men never reach that point. The redeemed are watched on TV, fictionalized for masses to eat up before sighing and returning to reality. They hate it. They never think they can make it their reality. They are fools.

They can. I can. You can.

All it takes is the will to stand up, reach out and move that one piece of trash out of your way. It starts there. Soon, another piece, then another, until the way is clear. And the last vestiges of melancholy and regret has vanished. And all that is left is you, a soul of pure muscle.

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Playing The Villain

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People want to think the best of others. Its how a polite society works. A door opens, an elevator is kept an extra few seconds, a thank you and your welcome and good-day. Charity giving, food drives, the overall people aiding others. We all believe, or are supposed to believe, in the great giving world. That’s why laws are passed so you are forced to give money for being alive, for your labor, for your home, your water, your power, your air. That’s why our parking, our speed, our cell phones, our smokes, our words and our opinions are regulated. Oh, we are free, within the confines of the law, the confines of the opinions of others.

I sat through a conversation today that pushed every one of my buttons. I’m naturally honed in on politics, I can’t help it. I try my best to avoid large political debates because its not worth my time or my energy to argue simple points over and over. If someone wants to talk to be about details and nuances, sure, but if I say “strict gun laws” and I hear “ban all guns”. Fuck you, next subject. How can I have a stimulating conversation when your point is to have a blanket hate.

This conversation I refer to I was not a part of. I sat in the dark, listening for interruptions and writing in a small book, passing the time. The words were words people use all the time, “fairness”, “justice”, “democracy”, but they are thrust forward with a self-righteous force. I hear “unity”, I hear “Trayvon”, I hear “endangered species”, but all I do is hide a smirk and the roll of the eye. I’m tired of this talk. I’m surrounded by it everyday, with the crew and home. I can’t get in my own words. My own beliefs, without having the world come down, as if racism, death and war will explode from the ground if some of my spittle hits the carpet.

I play the villain. I am the far-right, anarcho-conservative, pro-war, pro-gun, anti-tax, anti-everything, pro-everything guy. When talking about guns, as above, guns are wrong, ban them. When talking about hockey, “hockey’s so violent” or “my son is in a non-contact league” (fucking pussy). About UFC? “People who watch that are sick. SICK!” About some soon-to-be-gangsta who got shot? “Poor Trayvon.” About jail? “Racism.” About war? “Give peace a chance.” About government? “More.” For fuck’s sake, God, allow me the wisdom… And you know the greatest irony? Its these very types of people and their opinions that have driven me to find other outlets, other opinions that I now find myself seeing as right, feeling as right and knowing as right.

I’ve been made fun of for my changing opinions (my mother being the most vocal during talk of news). As if staying stone on a subject means you’re smart. It doesn’t. It means your loyal to an ideal. It means you’re stuck and can’t move away from first impressions. In politics, its called flip-flopping. In life, it could change your lifestyle, your wealth, your dating life; everything, depending what you adopt, how you adopt it, etc. It doesn’t matter if its liberal, conservative, anarchist, fascist. Its all about what it is, what time in your life your adopting it and how much you truly believe it.

When I was young, I believed in the Word of Feminism, Socialism and Marx. When I got married, I was a conservative, switching one false freedom ideal for another. When the Ex bolted, I was slowly adopting the Red Pill, dose by bitter dose. Climbing from the ashes of a dream world put to flame by the gina tingles and the false hope of whatever feminist drivel she was reading.

Today, looking back on my previous works, I can’t, won’t and don’t want to define myself. I tell them libertarian, sometimes anarchist, depending on what the subject is, depending on their mood and the amount of yelling required for them to get their point across. When I think seriously about what I believe, what I do, what my urges want and my body wants and what my emotions want… about how I react to the world around me. I am simply a young white male dealing with what is served to him and what is taken. I’m not trying to stop change, I’m trying to deal with it, as often as these motherfuckers twist and break the rules, only to make more against my interests. I’m just trying to get by.

Apparently, that makes me the villain of progress.

Plunder

What is left in a world centered around centralization? Where once your town, your state, had power to determine the rules and society it lived, now a select few in Washington, Brussels, The UN in New York, they all determine our fates by gestures of their hands. For a Libyan, left meant freedom. To a Syrian, right meant death. Our fates that we used to own as communities are left to the elite to rule.

We think we live in a world of choice and democracy, but in the end, like all civilizations and all systems, what is owned is what is taken. Plunder is the riches of the world, and with wealth comes freedom, even if the laws say otherwise. Everyone may get a trial, but the smallest things may turn a trial into a travesty. Everyone gets to speak, but some can say murder with impunity while others are cuffed for drunken slurs. Some can murder their own without a peep while the simple showing of your skin can get you chased away.

When given the choice, plunder, or risk being another sheep being pushed over the cliff.

Survival Mode

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“I’m fucking serious,” he said, stone look on his face.

Tim, our director of photography’s best friend, was explaining the ins and outs of where we’d be shooting that afternoon. Canadian, but currently residing in Chicago, he had a good knowledge of the streets and the politics of our location: Chicago’s South Side.

“This is a place where a lot of America’s gun crimes happen. Last month there was 60 shootings,” he told us; the DOP, the audio tech and myself. Three white guys, four with Tim, aiming to take a camera into neighborhoods known for their tribal sense of territory and inclusion.

We hit the Lake Shore and drove south, then east, after twenty minutes the decor changed from polished Chicago to Buffalo, or Watts, or the deepest crime ridden streets of Miami. Grass growing taller than toddlers. Road lines rubbed raw of paint. A gap between tricked out rides and rust on wheels. A huge increase in public transit buses and lines at the bus tops. And, most noticeably, not a single white person save for us four shiny whites in a black Dodge Grand Caravan.

When we crossed in, you could feel the tension in the air. At stop signs, drivers took looks at us, driving away slowly. When going through an intersection, a woman pulled out in front and yelled something from her Mustang, then took off. At each location, 5 in all, front porch sitters with jingling cigarette packs watched us. In front of an abandoned store front, the place where the true criminal was arrested, two men wearing different styles of red did not blink as the DOP and Tim got shots. They stood at their corner, smoking, until we left. The DOP mentioned he was going to shoot the back of a man walking down the street, but Tim saw him trade drugs just moments before, and stopped our cameraman.

“Don’t tell them the story,” Tim told us. “Because the story is divisive. Tell them you’re shooting something for the community, or say you’re shooting for Obama.” In one neighborhood, with young girls leaning over a buff guy’s ride, one of them asked what we were doing. We threw out the Obama line, she said she wanted to say something. The camera was panned over to her and she screamed, “WE LOVE OBAMA!” They all smiled before getting back into the van.

When we returned, and our director, the same one I’ve wrote about a few times, asked us how it went, Tim told the stories as well as his own experiences. Later, as we four went to dinner, without the director, he told us that she didn’t believe him. I nodded in silent agreement. Her politics, at least in that moment, did not let her believe that she couldn’t talk her way out of a South Side scuffle. She considered us paranoid, even when she was taken to the same place the next day, men in red walking the streets.

Its a strange thing driving into these places willingly. Your body knows when you’re putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. A smart man listens to that reaction. When you see a guy fiddle with his pockets on a corner, not crossing, something is up. When four or five men in similar colors crowd around a sidewalk, something is up. When you’re watched or walked toward and your brain says DANGER, listen. In South Side, its blacks. In East LA, a place I ended up in when working in Hollywood, its Hispanics. Even in some places in the South, the same rules apply for whites. Your brain is the product of millions of years of survival. It knows what its doing.

Road Food

Since January, I’ve gone to Greensboro, North Carolina; Akron, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois, New York City, New York; Poughkeepsie, New York; and Melbourne Beach, Florida for work. 10 hour days, usually, hour or so food break with the crew for lunch, dinner and beers at the end of the day. Always eating out. On every trip I stumble back over 190 from 185. In many places, the price of pure meat is too high (due to the tastes of the well-to-do crew) or only comes in bun form (and who’d want the pink slime anyway?).

When I took it on myself to work out and eat as well as possible, it was hard to keep up with that when most of my food came from gas stations or chain restaurants. In the Chicago-New York trip, I was able to get down a rhythm of working out during out long interviews by walking a lot, stretching and shadow box for short bursts. Foodwise, I ate fish, steak or chicken as my main. If there was a salad, I’d get it. And if wings were the best (ie, cheapest) option, I went for those, despite the enormous amount of fat related with their coating. During Florida, I was able to work out in a well equipped fitness center, have time to do several sets of push ups between interviews as well as get my ass handed to me by high waves on Melbourne Beach. Food wise, being right beside the ocean gave me access to fresh fish, clams, oysters, gator meat and other things. And Melbourne Beach being a smallish city without the insane Miami vibe, the restaurants were locally owned and well-staffed. Not to mention that our director was laid back and was happy to let the boys go out and eat instead of steer our wallets toward more up-in-the-air tastes worthy of a twice-divorce snobby hag.

Its hard to get in the habit of eating as well as you can when your traveling. To make sure you’re not going overboard on calories or chemicals or wheat products. I try to steer from breads as much as I can. Load up on meats. And if needed, skip a snack for a Red Bull. Less calories and keeps me un-hungry for longer than a chocolate bar or soda would. I take a Jamieson Vita-Vim pill everyday now, making sure I have some, if not all, the nutrients my body needs. If I find them, I grab the high-protien shakes like Muscle Milk and use them to supplement meals I miss due to being a lazy ass sleeper. The only thing I never miss is dinner and a post-work drink.

One of the most important things to do while on a job like mine is de-stress. Smoking, for the former smoker, works wonders, especially if just one can get you that high and calm you for hours. I’ll try to avoid that and replace it with things like working out, if possible. But sometimes, you need a bad habit to offset the massive bad juju of someone else, someone else who for a week is your boss.

I forgive myself a cig or two, or a beer or three, to make sure the next day I don’t start with piano wire in my pocket.

Fight.

The first time I can remember being bullied, it was just after my parents had taken us to Canada. We were horsing around as usual on the playground and I somehow ended up at the bottom of a large dogpile. I couldn’t breathe and the kids wouldn’t move. I flailed to no use. I ended up biting one of the kids on top of me. He started bawling, which got them all off of me, and ran to a teacher. I was taken to the office, mom called, etc. I got grounded.

As a child, I was always encouraged to walk away. Don’t fight. No violence. But, that wasn’t in my nature one bit. After moving schools (due to moving, not the incident), I ended up in several more fights. Sometimes with friends (white trash that were the staple of the school), sometimes with guys I barely knew during sports, some younger kids I bullied. It was a cycle, truly. One would go after me, I’d go after the younger kid. Its how the hierarchy is.

One day, while waiting for my mom to pick me up at my sister’s school, my “friends” and I were tossing a football back and forth. After a short throw by the trashiest of them all, I turned around to go long and instead I ended up with the ball cracking me in the back of the head. I blacked out. And he ended up with my hands around his throat and my knees on his chest. I came to seconds after starting my blind rage and got off of him. After that day, he nor any of my “friends” fucked with me. That year, my parents had bought a house, so I decided to move back to the school I started at, hopefully with a second try. Grade 8. Last year before high school.

Soon enough, I had the vultures circling around me. A bowlcut blonde, a hard-jawed ginger, some guido prick; there were several who saw me as a target, including, again, a “friend”, a tiny little fucker. I has scared myself when choking out the trailer kid. I didn’t want to fight at all, but I did… and I beat each one. The first one, the bowlcut, attacked me with some small stick, cutting my hand, but I went after him anyway. He later ran off, screaming AIDS like little dumb fucks do. He would later get his head slammed into a locker in high school after mocking me in math class for getting knocked over by a car that morning (no injuries). He shut up after that. The ginger was an all around dick, even to his friends. For whatever reason one day, he grappled with me and I took him down, putting him in a full nelson as my dad had taught me before my sisters (and the excuse to end fuck around) arrived. I had him pinned and told him to stop. He walked off, defeated. Nearing spring the next year, 1999, the guido and the ginger teamed up. The ol’ push him over my friend’s back trick. Except when falling over I grabbed the pusher and locked him in my legs. It was a strange sight. The ginger on his hands and knees, me at an obtuse angle, holding the head of the guido with my legs while my hands had his arms. Quickly, it broke and scattered as a teacher noticed the scuffle.

During these times, I was a major beta. A pacifist politically. I had little clue of anything, except that when confronted, I fought and fought hard and fought well, even to the point where it scared people. I was hanging with a girl, an ex’s friend, outside a donut shop. There among the crowd was some crackhead or meth head. He began to mock me then hit the back of my head. I stood up, so did he. He slapped me. “What?” he said. I slapped back. “What?” I retorted. Suddenly, I was being pulled away as he threatened brimstone, death and assfuckings for my slight against him, a guy with a posse of coffee hounds and fat chicks. Apparently, he was known to carry knives.

I feared much during those times. I feared girls, bad marks, girls, my parents, many things, but when I fought, I feared nothing. I was in the zone, like a sport, like when I played soccer, I was there and nowhere else. When training in Muay Thai back in Salt Lake City, I feared. I feared how stupid I looked. I feared that I didn’t know what I was doing. When sparring, I feared my power. I ended up quitting, and having to pay for it. Afterwards, I feared my wife. I feared what her leaving what do to me. I feared moving. I felt fear, always.

Fear is the constant that drives us into submission, I discovered. Hiding and waiting. Moving to shadows, never seeing the light, prevents us from taking that fear and letting it go. What cured me of the submission, and by that, my bad habits that drove me into isolation, was letting go. No grudges. Let go of the hate. Let go of the fear. Reveal all. Reveal that you are a violent man, when provoked. Reveal your wants. Your needs. Reveal your loves and likes and dislikes. Be blunt. Remove the social filter that the schools installed. Use your filter, the one that lets you get laid, not the one that lets you be kind to cunts or sweet to sluts. Be.

I’ve nearly gotten into fights since sparring. A trucker here and there at my guard job, provoking me during the worst times, and only my partner getting the middle to stop it before it started. I still look out for trouble, wishing it would find me, for I want to get in that zone again, win or lose, and feel the rush of swinging fists and throwing knees, knowing this isn’t padded and it isn’t practice. That its real. Its life. And I’m living it, in the face of everything, as I should: free.

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