Archive for September, 2010

8:14 (65)

Posted in eight fourteen, emo on September 22, 2010 by darryl zero

Kenny McKinley was a guy I never knew, or never really heard of substantially until yesterday, when two women helping him take care of his 1-year-old son found him dead of a gunshot wound.

McKinley was one of those afterthought-type guys in the NFL, a fifth-round draft pick who made little impact last year in his rookie season after he got hurt, and even less impact this year after getting hurt early on. He made a little money, six figures, but hardly anything worth shaking a stick at, and a damn sight less than some of the money guys like Darrelle Revis and Albert Haynesworth take for granted. He was, at best, the NFL equivalent of that guy who shows up, does what he can, and gets a check, nothing too significant other than the fact that he made more money for playing football in one-and-a-half years than I have over the past ten doing my million jobs.

Not knowing anything about his death other than what’s been reported, I can’t make any definitive comments, but a lot of the details stick out–jovial guy, always joking, kind. He was, apparently, very worried about what he would do if he weren’t playing football, especially after being placed on Injured Reserve this year and lowering his chances of making the active squad next year. He talked from time-to-time about killing himself, but the rest of his behavior did nothing to suggest people should take him seriously.

[Time’s up, but I’m going to continue:]

I can appreciate the emptiness and futility that comes with realizing everything you ever worked for or was good at wasn’t amounting to much in the grand scheme of things, when you realize that what you have is so tenuous and, despite your best efforts to be the best, you get hamstrung by your own body and mind failing you. I can empathize with knowing that, for the most part, nothing too serious is wrong, and the problems in life are worrisome-but-manageable, yet still feeling that everything is horribly empty. Seeing things about to go south is the worst part of any decline, and the realization that you will never be able to do that which defined you is a hard, hard thing to take, especially if your entire existence has been dependent upon your ability.

There’s no doubt in my mind that McKinley made the wrong decision, a selfish one if only for the son he leaves behind. But part of me wonders if, after this last injury, he sat back, looked around, realized he was never going to be top-of-the-line ever again, and decided he’d rather be nothing.

I want to stop short of ascribing some nobility or logical validity to McKinley’s behavior. Nor do I intend to paint his death as being any more important than those of all the other people who died today–shit, for all I know, he could not have even committed suicide. But if the reports are true, than Kenny McKinley was yet another promising young man who lost his battle with the fear of a life that doesn’t care how hard you work, only what you can provide it, and that, to me, is a very sad thing.

8:14 (64)

Posted in eight fourteen, emo on September 17, 2010 by darryl zero

I’m far from the worst son in the world.

I think that goes without saying–although I’m pretty sure Usama Bin Laden’s, Adolf Hitler’s and Josef Stalin’s moms are probably smiling from whatever afterlife they’re in about their sons’ zany antics, I’m almost 100% certain OJ Simpson’s mom wrote her son off the second he married that white woman–but it doesn’t make me feel any shittier on days like today.

Today’s my mom’s birthday (she’s 52) and, while I don’t feel especially down that I haven’t bought her anything (she knows better than anybody how rough things are for me financially), the fact that she undoubtedly doesn’t feel surprised in the least that I can’t afford to get my mom a birthday present makes me feel worse than her being disappointed would be.

The funny thing is, I probably could have found it in my heart to find some little, stupid, inconsequential thing for her back in the moments in which I did have money, but didn’t really think of it, or found eating to be slightly higher on my priority list, or I just plain didn’t find it in my heart.

I know she probably doesn’t care. She’s got her own issues, and lord knows the bridge of emotional closeness that parents are apparently supposed to have with their children is about as wide as the fucking Atlantic–but, still, I feel bad. I’ll call her today, like I always do, and spend the five minutes awkwardly chatting with her in fear that she only hears my father when she hears my voice, and wonder if that’s what makes her so emotionless. We’re talking about a woman who didn’t want to divulge her cancer diagnosis to me, who waited over two months to tell me my dad had left, who invests all of her time and energy into creating, admittedly, pretty impressive, elaborate puppet shows for her church.

Still…I feel like a shitty son.

Time’s up.

Confidential.

Posted in emo on September 16, 2010 by darryl zero

Being neither remarkably noble nor particularly mature, I’ve been rather surprised to have three people over the past few weeks tell me how easy I am to talk to. Two of my friends noted how they tend not to divulge much to people, but for whatever reason feel the need to spill their metaphorical guts to me; the third was a stranger who talked my fucking ear off at Zach’s Shack while I waited for my chili dogs post-Stripparoke. In any other context, the third wouldn’t have really been all that noticeable, but coming so soon after people to whom I consider myself close commenting on how much of their lives they share with me, I had to point it out.

I would say what sets me apart from a lot of people is that I make a conscious effort to try and remember details of interest or significance, any significance, because knowledge begets context, which begets more knowledge. In a life I really dislike for a variety of reasons (not the least of which being my dislike of my disliking my life), a particularly useful defense mechanism to keep my irrational despair at bay involves my breaking down all situations into series of problems to be solved. Often, a problem with no solution can be at least sidestepped by the solution to a different problem, so I often take it upon myself to help my friends solve or understand problems of their own, even if it’s indirectly. Of course, by proxy, I end up solving one of my problems by immersing myself in finding solutions to others, but that’s a psychoanalysis for another day.

That’s all breaking it down a bit too much, though, because the bottom line is that I enjoy others’s lives so much more than my own that even the troubling stuff is worth knowing or remembering. I meet tons and tons of people (in real life as well as through these disconnected forums), and the one thing for which I wish the most is that I may somehow be significant to them in some way, usually positive (although I always strive to make dumbasses realize how stupid they are). The least I can do for people who actually take the time to share any moment of their life with me is to allow their feelings and thoughts the significance they deserve by remembering them, in part, in whole–whatever. The one thing I’m pretty sure we’ve all learned by now is that everybody wants to matter, to be significant to others. Portland is a town full of people like that–shit, most of them (myself included) moved here because they felt the very act of doing so granted them some degree of significance or uniqueness. I think many people forget to appreciate the significance of others in their haste to be known for something grand, which I think is part of the reason people feel as if they can open up to me–I like being the center of attention, but don’t have to be all the time.

In the end, though, I can’t be sure exactly what it is that makes people think I’m the kind of person people can share things with, because I never really feel as if my advice or input is anything more constructive than analysis, nor do I think my attempts to retain information people give me is anything other than an attempt to respect the person giving me information by remembering it. It could simply be because I actually, legitimately want to know things about other people–I’ve noticed most people don’t really care about others save for what they can do for them.

(*Hilariously, I often find myself able to remember contextual information about people (what they did the day I meet them, what they were wearing, what their favorite drink was) before I can remember things like, say, their fucking name.)

8:14 (63)

Posted in eight fourteen, emo on September 6, 2010 by darryl zero

There will always be a soft spot in my heart for movies and stories about good-hearted losers who always make the wrong decision in life, yet cling to the things that make them good enough for them to make one good choice. Samuel L. Jackson’s character in The Long Kiss Goodnight comes to mind. I’ll never not love that moment in the film where he makes a good-natured-yet-suicidal attempt at storming a truck surrounded by trained killers with automatic weapons to rescue Geena Davis’s character’s daughter. Sure, he completely botches it and gets shot two times, but just that moment where he looks up at the sky, whether to God or to his own subconscious or whatever, and realizes there’s no way in hell he’s ever going to make it out of that situation alive that I completely feel for the guy. And yeah, his character is supposed to be that kind of everyman who serves as the audience’s gateway into the needlessly-complicated world of international super-spies, and is designed to elicit that kind of reaction from the viewers, but I totally buy it, because even if the entire storyline of that kind of movie is silly and trite.

The idea, of course, the one that most true writers seem to get whether or not they’ve sold out, is that sincerity is only real virtue that remains intact in a world in which every last fucking thing is for sale. People who succeed, people who have everything work for them, people who make the rules, the one thing, the only thing they don’t really understand, and perhaps never will, is the value of someone saying something to you and legitimately meaning it. And sure, that doesn’t really mean much other than to the person saying it. But it’s something.

Time’s up.

Gnosis

Posted in emo, nerdiness on September 4, 2010 by darryl zero

One of the things upon which my liberal brethren and I often stand apart is the issue of religion. From my days as a myopically conservative Jesus freak to my militant agnosticism to my flirtations with Islam and Sikhism that continue even as we speak, my spirituality has always remained the most easily-debatable aspect of my rampant contrarianism. My refusal to accept religious fundametalism has kept me from completely espousing any religion wholeheartedly; however, just as my lack of faith in “god” (or at least its followers) obstructs me from religion, my lack of faith in my fellow humans obstructs me from the kind of aggresive atheism many of my fellow liberals cling to with the kind of militancy they criticize the religious for employing.

A thing I probably ought to have expected (yet didn’t) as par of my aging process has been the ease with which I now respect and understand religion. When I ran from Christianity and the monstrosity it became, I mistakenly (and, perhaps, youthfully) assumed I’d never find a space in time in which I could find it or people who espouse it acceptable. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to engage Christians, conservative, dogmatic Christians whom non-Christians (including myself) are quick to stigmatize as “intolerant,” who not only have eschewed the kind of proselytization that gives all religion a bad name, but also expressed the kind of universal acceptance, tolerance, and love I’ve always associated with Christ regardless of whether or not I considered myself one of his followers. These “true” Christians join a long list of likewise-tolerant-yet-still-enthusiastic Muslims, Jews, and otherwise-religious folk I know whose spiritual journeys have been profound, interesting, and—most importantly—entirely personal.

On the other hand, The population in which I’m finding an increasing amount of obstinate intolerance is the supposedly “enlightened,” liberal non-religious folk, a matter made all the more tragic because these are the people who, in the interest of maintaining open-mindedness and inclusivity, have effectively sealed their own minds in a cycle of myopic, self-important exclusiveness. I’ve long distrusted atheism for the same reason most atheiss profess to distrust religion: I hate it when anyone professes to “know” anything. Atheists and agnostics who throw their lot behind science often purport to do so because they can’t see any “proof” of the existence of divinity; while that alone isn’t illogical, they often take it one step further by using their logic to explain things religious people take as a matter of faith in a condescending, dismissive tone not unlike religious proselytizers.

I can take the explanations, and the persistent need of these science-supremacists to supposedly debunk the “myths” of religion, were they not so smugly assured of their own correctness that they completely overlook the very nature of science—that it is, once you strip away all the canonized, self-congratulatory academic bullshit, simply another desperate attempt by humans to feel as if they are in control of their own destiny.

Even that would be tolerable, were these people willing to factor into account the subjective nature of all forms of classfication. All quantification is intrinsically biased in favor of those capable of perceiving it in the first place, and even the unassailable things upon which we as humans can reach a general concensus are still defined according to our own limitations as a species. It’s a lingering testament to the hilarity of existence that, by developing the capacity to articulate and quantify perception in order to transcend previous notions of reality, humanity effectively confines itself to one reality. And yes, I recognize that saying that in first place exemplifies that statment, but therein lies my point: regardless of who’s doing the explaining, the vast majority of people on this planet are so desperately in need of an ideological paradigm shared by others that they invariably buy into the very thing that limits us.

I think all of that is the reason why I find myself increasingly respecting and appreciating religious people. Those who subsist on faith without the need for empirical data are at least upfront about their need to exist within a given philosophical paradigm, and don’t feign impartiality while being just as full-of-shit as anyone else. Moreover, the ambiguous/lazy/malleable nature of religion means it and science aren’t mutually exclusive. One of my favorite things to do to piss off science supremacists is to point out that rigid adherence to scientific dogma is, in essence, espousing religion; watching them scramble to come up with various and sundry equations and theories declaring secular science to be impartial and unreligious is akin to watching a conservative white person try to prove they aren’t racist. It’s a lot easier to find a person who espouses a faith that also understands and respects the information science is able to tell us about our world than it is to find an atheist who is willing to admit that everything we as humans supposedly “know” could be bullshit.

And that’s where most atheists completely lose me: pretense of objectivity aside, their unwavering faith in humanity’s ability to know and understand the very nature of reality is as myopic and misguided as people that think stem cell research and abortion are sins or that forty virgins will be given to you if you crash an airplane into a building. The really tragic and fucked-up part about it all is that all this needlessly complicated bullshit stems from the same thought every human being has at some point in time, that moment of panic once articulated by the late Admiral James Bond Stockdale: “Who am I? Why am I here?”

Anyway, this is just a thought that burrowed into my brain, which I typed out on my phone in idle moments; really, I don’t know shit.