I’m not sure what the song means. I just wanted to share a story. It’s probably the most significant moment in my life, and I haven’t told it to many people; for some reason just tossing it out onto the internet to whomever comes across it seems fitting.
I was in Baghdad a couple years contracting for some shitty part of the military industrial complex. I hadn’t made many friends in Iraq, but I made a couple. One was a guy in the Army who got sent out to D8, this shitty little Forward Base in the middle of Sadr City - 4 square blocks of Baghdad, outside of the Greenzone, separated from the streets by a box of 14 foot T Walls. June 8th (my son’s 12th birthday) I found out in The Stars and Stripes - the military newspaper, that he’d been killed by an IRAM attack.
Just before this, my girlfriend, who I was more than in love with, left and moved across the country - she said she was coming back, but I knew. The last time I saw her was when I got on the plane to leave. I think, really, I just wanted to see her one last time. That couldn’t be goodbye, not like that.
After the attack my department there all demobilized and left D8, meaning someone had to go. I volunteered. I guess I thought I’d get killed there too, or that I couldn’t get killed, I’m still not sure. I landed on the 4th of July. Every day I walked past the memorial cross for my friend but my sunglasses mostly hid the constant crying. It was a really dangerous place, so I slept in the bunker most of the time once I got there and it was real. At some point I broke, completely. The hardest part was the realization that my entire life I’d been an extreme narcissist - not just obsessed with my appearance, but the toxic kind of person so ruled by their own fear and insecurity that they poisoned every one around them, alienated them, hurt them and was always the victim of my own arrogance. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a profound selfishness, almost like people only exist when you’re around.
I listened to this album on repeat, nearly constantly the entire time I was there - constantly shaking with anxiety, consumed with loss, and fear, and self hatred. It was the light breeze that kept my mind from drowning in it’s own panicked sweat. I couldn’t sleep, I’d chew the skin from my fingers until they bled, walk in circles, anything to keep moving, to think a little less.
I got out, eventually, and on the Blackhawk ride back to my main base over Baghdad in the middle of the night - watching it glitter like billions of stars, watching kids swimming in pools, traffic jams, neon Ferris Wheels - all these people just going on living. It felt like “How could they”, after he died, after she left, after I lost, “how could they”? Then, out of somewhere, it just clicked - of course they could, and I just flew back, the desert stretching off forever with:
And at once I knew I was not magnificent
High above the highway aisle (Jagged vacance, thick with ice)
But I could see for miles, miles, miles
Playing over and over in my head.
I came back a completely different person, and I’m not sure, without this song, I would have. I think it was the first thing in my life I ever truly appreciated, was capable of appreciating.
Probably the best and worst moments in my existence, tied together by this song.
One of my favorite songs. I love being up late at night, on the balcony, hearing this song pierce through the otherwise dead silent night air.
It is striking how much (white people’s) racism has to do with masculinity. If we look at the way black people are portrayed, we see an image of hypersexuality, hypermasculinity. Black men are portrayed as overly aggressive, people who do not use their heads a lot, but instead do. There is the…
At Berkeley for just about two months ago. It’s crazy to think about all that has come to pass.
What an adventure.
That awkward moment when you realize that you probably are that obnoxious, arrogant pseudo-intellectual.
What annoys me is how you’ll get into this mood where you really want to talk with someone else about certain things, maybe deep things, but then you’re worried that the other person might not be in the mood to talk about those things, so you kind of sit there debating yourself, to call or not too call.
My entire math grade goes down because I misunderstand the coefficient integral rule. Literally, one misunderstanding brings the whole tower down. Holy shit.
You are what you surround yourself with. Who you walk with, is who you become. Modern society is increasingly critical of humanism. Our feelings, emotions, and dreams are crushed by the stark reality of “realism.”
I believe the most important thing we can do, is to hold onto our softer sides. The fuzzy feelings and the heartaches. The warm blush at the sigh of bare skin. The uncomfortable sickness at the sight of blood.
Journaling is the best thing in the world. One year, two years later you’ll be sitting on your computer on some quite evening. You start reading journal entries from over a year ago. And it all starts coming back. Man, memories are so bittersweet.
Two slices of cheese pizza at Northwood.
Morning practice. Way too much butterfly. My arms stopped responding. Subway Blackforest ham with Southwest Chipotle sauce. Forgot to ask for the sauce on the side. Had to wipe it all of with a napkin.
Two hour siesta. Drove my sister to archery. Weather was beautiful and I was feeling contemplative. Freeway on ramp, wave of Carls Jr wafted in. Driving down Culver, sitting behind a truck towing pallets of strawberries. Nice smell. But it was mixed in with exhaust. Strawberry scented exhaust, not all that pleasant.
Browsed the fine art center working up the courage to ask the absorbed attendant who pays to run the exhibit, she completely misunderstands the question and begins rambling on the artists that contributed. I was sweating as I talked with her. Still not all that comfy with strangers. I expressed my wish for accompanying text for many of these pictures. I’m deathly curious as to what it all means. She merely goes eh. Dissappointed. Thought that was a convo starter for sure.
Went on to watch some newbs playing basketball from afar I thought they were good at first. Athletic build, tricked out in hightops and tanks but they weren’t. Sat and stared at two geese, attempted to throw pebbles off the shell of a half submerged turtle some 7 feet away, tricked all the ducks around the quarter mile radius to come to me by throwing sticks. Was having fun until it actually kind of got scary. Nothing like three dozen cross eyed ducks slowly trudging towards you. Theyre clearly familiarized with humans and agressive. One was missing a bunch of feathers, probably contracted some parasite. It was scary as hell. I suspected rabies. Read books on how to be funny at the heritage library. Picked up Rachael. Got some dank blueberry tart at yogurtland. Saw some black kids sample all the flavors and walk out. he was like damn, the creme brule is the shit. My sister complained how rude they were for sampling and not buying. I took their side, excusing their behavior as that of high school boys. College and older thatd be totally not cool but gotta give juveniles a break.
Like a tree. treated to innout, fries, steak rolls, strawberries. Good conversations with small group on what makes us mad and why we shouldnt be. Had the chance to talk with Claude more.
Today was a good day, and I will share here why it was so.
Today begin coming off a three day weekend. Having Friday, Saturday, and Monday off was just amazing and I really do wish that happened more often. But then again, it was amazing for exactly that reason- they don’t happen that often.
Instead of going to classes all day and tiredly shuffling from class to class, our biology class met out front by the parking lot, loaded onto the big yellow bus at 7:15, and embarked on an adventure to the San Diego Zoo. Today I was on a field trip. There’ something about field trips that get all the kids riled up. Yeah, as we get older they become less of a big deal, but still- we sure were happy to not be doing school on a school day.
Thirdly, the bus ride down was enjoyable. Just hanging out in the back seats with very friendly people who make above-average jokes. At one point, and I shared earbuds with a friend and was introduced to one of the most beautiful song in the world, Sun by Two Door Cinema Club. Which leads me to the question, why did they choose to call themselves “Two Door Cinema Club”? I guess it would be easy to find that answer. Google queries are quick and reliable. But I decline to do so. Why? I don’t know. I’m just going to wait until tomorrow and ask the person that introduced me to it. Why? I don’t know.
The coolest exhibit at the zoo can be found on the Big Cats Trail. You can see the snow leopard, mountain lion, and the jaguar up close. Literally, when they’re out and pacing about, they are just three feet away. There’s something weird about being so close to an animal that is villianized in every way possible. The sheer proximity of these cats was unsettiling. I was awestruck. They are just so graceful. Minus the jaguar, which has stubby limbs.
Gym was fun today. Played pickup ball with a kid from Tesoro. We chatted for a bit and then played up to 11. I lost by one. I was draining threes and jumpers however, which impressed him. He asked me if I was sure I played waterpolo and not basketball. I found this funny and a pretty damn good compliment. He played varsity basketball and is playing college basketball in Illinois. Basically, I kept up. Yeah, I’m a big deal.
Walking out from the steamy showers and into the airconditioned locker room is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. So nice. I tryed to savor it. It’s magical.
Car ride home was also magical. The perfect songs came up on 102.7. Lucky by Daft Punk, and Ellie Goulding. The neon signals were very beautiful, as were the bronze electric glow of the streetlights. The breeze was indescribable. The quiet darkness of my car was soothing. I really enjoyed that ride home. Not a lot of cars on the street. It’s different from being surrounded by a bunch of cars midday, that’s for sure.
Great conversation with my father. Resolved a dispute from earlier in the day. Also decided to delay my departure date for China by one or two weeks. That made me happy I must admit. I have more time to study, pack, and say goodbyes.
As a Christian…
"How do we relate to them? How do I love my gay and lesbian neighbors?
How do i love without offending?
I’m not saying its all about walking on eggshells. They offend me, and i offend them. But that’s come in the context of a relationship.
i think in the church we’ve opted out of relationship, and opted in on picket signs and criticisms on this issue in ways that we haven’t done with other issues. “
When I’m high, it feels like I’m living life as it was meant be lived.
Every damn bite tastes like manna.
Every swig like an elixir.
I can feel the beat, each note resonates so deeply. Never before have I listened to music with my entirety.
The little things become the most comedic.
I guess the best way to describe the feeling is this:
Imagine you were a baby born into an airtight cylinder. No sound. No lights. No stimulus of any kind. You grow up this way for eighteen years.
And then one day, they open the door, the fluid drains, and you walk out into the world.
Imagine how your first sip of cola tastes after only been given liquid IV injections all your life.
Imagine your first bite of juicy pork after eating some strange green tasteless composite all your life.
Imagine what music would sound like if you had been basically completely sealed away from noise your entire existence, and then suddenly a full blown stereo is implanted into your heart.
Imagine laughing like you do with your best friend, except now you can laugh in that same way with strangers and friends alike, not even slightly self conscious.
The strongest force in the universe is our ability to rationalize stupid things that we know we have no business rationalizing.
I want the courage to be able to stick by what my heart wants to do and who I am.
Instead of constantly being pushed around, modifying and compromising.
When I am true to me, I am happy.
It took a fucking trans atlantic trip to realize that. I don’t know why.
Wait I’ll be right back.
Let me go vomit some more.
- “…because people who talk about their dreams are actually trying to tell you things about themselves they’d never admit in normal conversation. It’s a...”
For a Dutch March it is pretty warm. The temperature is creeping towards 20°C (68 F) and the steps of the university’s main building are filled with...
do you remember the first time you were called annoying?”
how your breath stopped short in your chest
the way the light drained from your eyes,...
- “I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person...”