Lamenting Casual Sex

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Ever since I encountered the feminist movement, I lamented that it was destroying the very concept of a romantic relationship. Feminism, by way of bringing women up to the same level of men, implies that women can — and should — have the freedom to be just as promiscuous as men — and I don’t suggest that the male philanderer is an acceptable figure, any more than the female. Now I see that my blame is unfounded and absurd.

For me, a hopeless romantic former-Protestant boy, I gazed at a world of dwindling virtue, where not a single woman would ever want to fall in love with me, for she now has infinite access to the handful of physically attractive and resourceful alpha males and virtually no reasonable incentive to restrain her passions. I saw an apocalyptic world in which feminism raised her high-heeled boot and stomped on the sacred face of sex forever. My singeldom was sure to be eternal. My life was filled with despair.

Casual sex. Oh, what a paradox.

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Just Feed Us Bread And Circuses

Pollice Verso *oil on canvas *97,4 x 146,6 cm *1872

“The people are only anxious for two things: bread and circuses.” — Juvenal, Roman poet

When the Roman Empire began to collapse, elaborate public spectacle in the Colosseum became an overwhelming part of the citizen’s life. The Plebs took part in watching the grand gladiator matches, were enraptured by the spilling of blood and innards at the sword, and through these performances were fed grand delusions of Rome’s history. By these means, the emperors kept the people ignorant and entertained while their nation crumbled around them.

American life is saturated by elaborate spectacle such as Nero could never have dreamed. Our lives are filled with brainless tasks, repetitive routines, and mindless drudgery — then, after scraping the grimy bottom of the fiscal barrel, we retreat to our homes, where for hours we sit alone in front of screens. Slack-jawed and drooling we watch the television, channel-flipping from sights of brilliant violence, to maudlin ‘reality’ shows, to soap operas, to grand sporting events, to dressed-up heads spouting cliches, ridicule and lies. Or we are hooked to the Internet, scrolling through meme-plastered Facebook walls, playing video games, watching cat videos on Youtube, or glutting the eyes on an endless supply of pornography. Perhaps we are nursing a can of beer at our side, a glass of whiskey, or another illicit substance that will steep us deeper into sedation. In these virtual worlds, we participate in a massive and powerful community, and yet remain anonymous and isolated. Meanwhile, our bodies take root into the couch, vegetate, and rot away.

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Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

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“If I should wake
before I die
turn the kettle on, love,
and I’ll tell you everything.”
— “Nana’s Closing Breath,” Thomas Dean

One year, eight months, and 19 days ago, my friend died in his dorm room of lymphomatic myocarditis – a freak heart attack. He had just turned 21.

I have written nothing about it until now, and I do not know why I waited so long. It is an injustice to everyone, and myself. I am sorry.

I met the man early sophomore year at my first Writer’s Ring session. I brought in the first chapter of a short fantasy book I was writing. Coming in, I was quite tremulous and tight-throated – I’d never actually read any of my fiction aloud – and when I finished, he was the only one at that table to lend me a smidgen of useful criticism. “Needs more lore, man,” he said.

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Throwing A Pity Party — All Invited

“You aren’t creative anymore.”

Since moving to Jamestown, I’ve been in the habit of traveling back and forth from Fredonia every weekend. On every occasion, I set aside an hour with my mother. Unlike most “aspiring writers,” I think I’m a pretty big homebody.

I haven’t entirely lost my creativity. Since going forward on my own, I’ve been building a video game, I’ve started three or four novels, published another novel, written several short stories, and even attempted to make a text-based computer game. So you might say I’m creative.

Creative.

Yeah.

“You, of all my children, turned out very different than I imagined.”

When I was young, I was a dreamer.

In third grade, I wanted to be a toy designer. In fourth grade I made a video game out of cardboard. I drew dungeon designs and character sketches in notepads. Soon it was evident that cardboard alone would not set a sprite jumping on mushrooms. I begged everyone at school, “where can I find a videogame-making program?” I needed to learn code, I needed to find collaborators. Alas, God did not set down anyone who knew. So I drifted on.

In middle school, I made my own trading card game. I meticulously crafted rules to rival Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon, I laminated the cards, even used glitter and aluminum foil for holographics. I went to a card shop and a baseball stand to promote the latest and greatest trading card game. None sold.

Next, I wanted to be a syndicated cartoonist. I loved Calvin and Hobbes. My artistic skills were relegated to stick figures, but I imbued my stick figures with every fiber of expression and life I could muster. Some classmates even noticed. I even entered a contest once. Alas, those comics only ever lived on loose leaf pages crumpled and tossed in the closet.

A high school freshman, I wanted to be a musical composer. I even had the audacity to write down in essays that I would write for Hollywood, or write an opera, or for videogames. So I composed concert band marches and orchestrations. Four years later, I presented my work to the head of the SUNY Fredonia composition department. He shrugged uneasily, waved me on my way.

A high school junior, I wrote a very big book. I self-published said book, advertised it in the middle school morning announcement broadcast, sold virtually no copies, and realized that despite its litany of cartoon animations it was really God-awful. It was terrible because I did not read, because I was egotistical, because I was so stoked upon self-bred delusions that I was talented and gifted and smart that I failed to see my personal reality.

So I began to write poetry, for isn’t that what one does while steeped in the cauldron of despair? One poem was for a girl, and that one landed me in the principal’s office for sexual harrasment. They were poems which the high school creative writing club sniggered at gossiped upon as they set them in the pages. I wrote enough poems to star in my own issue. And what do you know, I have one fan.

I loved video production class in high school. As a college sophomore, I was angsty about my prospects as a writer, so I did the “common sense” thing, and tagged on another major. Video production. As if one’s prospects of becoming a film maker are remotely better than publishing a book. Oh, but I earned straight A’s in every film class, some professors even praised my work among the rest. Senior year, we set upon our capstone projects, and I broke. Failed. Flunked. Equipment privedeges revoked. Withdrew from the program. I never want to hold a camera again.

I have always been a second rate artist. Talented, exceptional, but I lack the “larger than life” attitude of the “real” hot-shot writers, musicians, and film makers. Nobody in high school nor college lauded upon me, didn’t followed me and my reputation the way those messianic egomaniacs were worshipped. I am always shoved behind. I was a “lost puppy” as my film professor once put it. For all my petty dreaming and efforts, nothing but silence, mockery, disinterest, and humiliation ever comes of it.

I feel am the next William Hung, who’s mother told him he was a beautiful singer, grew up deluded of his talents, auditioned for American Idol, and achieved fame for possibly the worst performance every broadcast on live television. Without the fame.

I am 23. I am a copy-editor at a small city newspaper. I speak to no one. I am a castaway. I live alone. Still dreaming. Still writing.

I try. I try. I try.

I die. I die. I die.

I read books, hoping one day to redeem myself and master my writerly voice. I listen to my favorite bands, hoping one day that black metal opera written by A.C. Glasier may yet appear on stage. But a part of me knows better, these days.

The circumstances of my life are entirely my fault. The world isn’t cruel. I lacked focus. I strutted about like an artistic whore from one form to the next. Nobody was there to tell me to stick to one form. Nobody was there to shake me silly, slap me, tell me that you are only a child briefly, and you are an adult for eternity. The visions must end. You must know what you are, and become it. Now.

So where is my Christ of old in all of this? What does the Christian savior have anything to do with my failure as an artist? In fact, the humility his ways ingrained within my psych may have been the very cause of my failure. Every successful artist, I see, is full of pride — he must be, if he is to overcome criticism and rejection, to believe that he has what it takes, to not hurl his laptop through a window when he knows every paragraph and sentence spewed on the page is complete and utter drivel.

Then there’s this:

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48.

Either I’m insane, or God gave me the motherload, then set me down on Patmos and vanished. Am I a prophet?

I have no idea what to do with all this.

“I’m concerned,” said mother. “Your writing has an edge. You publish in crude magazines that don’t promote good values. Why don’t you write comedy again? What happened to you?”

I turned out.

Help! I’m Trapped In The Matrix!

It’s about time that I acknowledge a strange and awfully sad feeling I’ve borne lately. I usually like to think that I avoid getting teary and personal in blog posts that nobody cares about, unless I have reason to believe my emotions are relatable to most human beings, such as that post about the Friend Zone. I hope what I’m about to describe, some stray reader may share this obscure sorrow I bear.

I’m well off for a post-college graduate: I have a job that’s in my field and is fairly dignified, even though I can’t stand the people I work with sometimes; I have an apartment, which is quite spacious and quaint; I sustain contact with my parents, because I have a fancy-pansy iPhone that also serves as internet; ah yes, and one of my stories is finally getting published. In short, you’d think—I’d think—that I should be pretty damn happy. “Zippidee-doo-dah, zippidee-yay!” *As animated birds fly around my head.*

Well, shoot.

Having reached a state of “happily ever” goal, I’m left wondering what to do with myself. Write more stories? It would seem to only fuel my vanity. So I binge on Lost episodes, take advantage of my spare time, indulge my family and friends with my presence. That staves off the dread –for awhile at least. There is a bizarre, awful shadow that lingers over my head. I’m in the Matrix. I want to escape it, just break open the shell of the mundane world and look down on all of it. It certainly doesn’t help that my friend died shortly before I graduated college, so now humanity’s mortality is making my proper adult life feel very much pointless, sad, and silly.

Stories, books, movies are supposed to enrich or at least smother the overwhelming blandness of human life, but lately I find even literature to be a pointless escape into worlds that are not real, never were real, and never will be real. Readers fill their heads with knowledge and pseudo-experience of media and literature, and then what? We are left to endless conjecture, eternally delayed action. I’m paralyzed. The world has stopped turning.

As all men do, I work, so I can feed myself, clothe myself, survive so that I can indulge in a quadrillion petty luxuries before going back to work, doing it all again, day after day until I’m struck down by a stampede of antelopes or something. And then to awake in the afterlife, where I will be enlightened and finally understand the purpose of the mundane world, too late to have lived it properly of course.

But I’m sure in retrospect I’ll realize I was happier now than I ever will be, as I look back fondly on my days as a hapless bachelor. Yes, that’s another point—being single means far more to me now that it did in college. So much, in fact, that I’m willing to cough up $55 for one month of a dating website subscription. Since moving out on my own, I’ve experienced urges for human connection that were completely uncharacteristic of me before. I even went to a coffee shop today, all by myself.

Maybe it’s love that takes us out of the Matrix. Or maybe love is the shared delusion which ties us into the Matrix, and at least makes living in it bearable. Or perhaps if people quit taking their blessings all for granted, they wouldn’t need love in the first place.

Perhaps I’ve taken every joyous thing for granted. It’s just that, sometimes, I wish that if I can never escape the Matrix, I could blend into it like everyone else.

Blah. Okay. Enough emotions for tonight.

The Friend Zone – Land of the “Nice Guys”

For those of you who are either married or have just crawled out of a Siberian prison camp, the Friend Zone is a platonic relationship in which one person (stereo-typically a man) is interested in romantic/erotic relations, while the other (stereo-typically a woman) would rather remain “just friends.” The Friend Zone is a pop culture term coined by an episode of Friends. It is used both a noun and a verb, and is the subject of fiery controversy in the dating world.

Here’s how the Friend Zone works: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl become friends. Boy is sexually attracted to girl. So the boy continues seeing the girl, building a friendship, earning her trust, hoping and praying that she feels the same sexual tingling for him as he does for her. Then this happens:

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Your classic case of the Friend Zone.

The Friend Zone is a type of unrequited love. It is not like the noble, courtly love of medieval poets such as Dante, who composed sonnets and a religious epic to a woman he had only spoken to twice. What makes the Friend Zone such a torturous place is that even after the lover is rejected, he is still closely within her social sphere–in dire cases he remains her best friend. This leaves the lover on edge; perhaps she will change her mind, perhaps, he thinks, we just need a little more time together. Even though he tries to see her as “just friends,” he can’t help it if he keeps loving her, too. It’s so tantalizing for the male that it’s agonizing, like dangling a carrot over Bugs Bunny’s head.

I even published a short story about the Friend Zone. Read it here.

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