Archive for Bleach

Warrior of the Word.

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/03/2013 by Angel D. Vargas

Sometimes a warrior just has to come home, throw their weapons in a corner, sink their tired, broken bodies into a chair and cry their eyes out.

 

Countless soldiers throughout history have probably done this. I know what we all see in the news when war heroes come home to their families. These survivors hug their spouses who’ve lived without their touch for years. They hug their children though they’ve missed precious milestones. Many people have moved on in their absence. Most have gone through their own trials and traumas. Still, everyone big and small feels that their story is the important one.

 

That’s just the human condition.

 

I’m guilty of this too. The good thing is I’m not alone. I’m about to tell you a story.

 

I’ve become a warrior of the word.

 

I know what you’re thinking. I sound like one of those nut jobs who quote the Bible and hurl Molotov cocktails into abortion clinics. If you’ve read some of my writing, you might think I’ve snapped and begun channeling one of my favorite characters.

 

“Pleasure to meet you. My name is Ezekiel.”

 

But that’s not the truth either. The reality may be just as difficult to fathom.

 

I moved back to New York two years ago. I had little money, a soaring credit card debt, and the wisp of a hope that I might get a job through a relative.

 

Time has a way of revealing one’s destiny. While I was putting interview clothes I couldn’t afford on a credit card, I was searching. I was waiting. I was hoping that I hadn’t wasted my time coming back home. I didn’t want a repeat of the six months I’d spent in Illinois trying to figure life out. That stretch of time saw me spinning my  wheels and not knowing how to make ends meet. Opportunities were few and far between. Though my best friend from college reached out to me and tried to help me out, I just wasn’t prepared for life in a Midwestern suburb. I didn’t even have a driver’s license. I failed.

 

Mental note. Don’t ever live in a suburb without a car or a license.

 

I came back home hoping that I wouldn’t go insane. I was a thirty something and living in a tiny apartment with my parents and my grown autistic brother.

 

If you’re doing a double take after that last statement, don’t worry. You won’t be the only one.

 

But times are tough for “thirty -somethings” these days. I’ve heard it all before. People in my generation with college degrees can’t even get into entry level retail work. I won’t even get into that hot mess. People have tough choices to make even though some of us just paid off twenty five thousand dollars in student loans. Sure, one could go back to school if one could somehow pay for it. Being out of college for more than a decade might mean your college credits mean nothing for all those associate’s programs.

 

There’s just one other hitch. Assuming that there are affordable school programs to attend, it pays to know which jobs aren’t being whittled down to nothing in this economy.

 

I was applying for a job in Portland, Oregon to work at a Sears as a clerk.  I applied online, landed the interview, and was asked to come in during a Thursday afternoon. The human resources recruiter seemed nice enough, but very sad and distracted throughout the conversation. After telling me that the original position was being whittled down from twenty hours a week to twelve due to “a major oversight,” he older woman turned to me and laid in on the line.

 

“There are thirty, forty, even fifty year old people applying for entry level clerk positions with this company. We’ve got people with Masters Degrees and PHD’s who need this work, and we can’t do much for them. Let’s face it. The economy is in the crapper.”

 

After 14 months in the city, I was able to land a part time job as a book seller at a local Barnes and Noble. Since then, I’ve not been able to attain anything else.

 

I think it might be safe to say that for some, the economy STILL looks like something a toilet bowl cleaner ought to erase.

 

Life is funny. Promises are broken, constant effort feels more like the definition of insanity, and broke people start to quote musicians and philosophers as though looking for a reason. Life can feel like a cruel joke. Of late, it leaves me feeling a bit like those broken warriors.

 

Is there a reason to it all? Is life what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans?

 

I’m still struggling with that question.

 

On one hand, I would officially call myself an underemployed janitor for the local Barnes and Noble. I just happen to know a thing or two about a book.

 

Perhaps that’s because I’m writing them.

 

Writing has been an anchor for me since I reclaimed it more than a year ago. I might never be a real estate tycoon or win the lottery, but writing is something that I will be able to do no matter what my financial or family status. I won’t put the computer down unless it breaks. Even if that happens, I used to use a little something called a pen, and I used to put that object to another handy object called “paper.”

 

The things one learns in school really can make a difference.

 

Nobody talks to me for more than a few minutes without realizing I’ve got more sarcasm in my pinky then most have in their entire bodies. But I shudder to think what my life would be like today if I hadn’t started to write. I’m not always going to write short stories or books. I can’t imagine I will always show my words to people. But I’ve made a few good friends along the way. People have read my words. More will read them one day, and I may even be able to make a decent living because of it.

 

Life seems to be split down the middle of chaos. On the one hand, I don’t make enough money at my current job to scratch my testicles. But on the flip side, I write because I have the time and the imagination to come up with the stuff. Real life might not be glamorous, but it offers me a chance to experience love, hate, anger, euphoria, and all the other emotions that I can pour with such realism into each and every one of my made up characters.

 

Fate doesn’t normally interest me. I like to think that I am always in control of my own life. These last few years have been like a huge dose of humble pie. I’m not powerless, but curious things do happen when I allow myself to engage in what matters to me. In the last year, people have come to me that I did not expect. People have read my words, and some have been able to relate. A special someone has danced their way into my life.

 

Philosophical discussions of fate either annoy or terrify people like me. Maybe that’s why fate sneaks up on so many of us. It probably happens despite everything I believe, and all I can do is the best that I can until God or the universe reveals my purpose.

 

Until that happens, I’ll write, I’ll love, and I ride on the roller coaster that is my life. I can’t be the fatalist, but I can sure as hell strap in. Let other people deal when someone releases the fucking Kraken. I’ll write a book about it when it’s over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duck, Duck, Person…

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/30/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

It was another early morning wake up time for me.  The sun hadn’t crept into my room through my open window yet, but the cold air definitely made my toes curl. My blanket had gotten twisted off of my bed, a sure sign that I’d had at least one nightmare.  I’ve gotten used to waking up with my blanket in knots under my arms, or even with my blanket having been tossed to the other side of the room violently.  When I was in high school, I woke up once to serious pain in my right hand, and a knuckle sized indent in my bedroom wall.

 

I groaned as I got out of bed and dragged my computer to me like a willing lover.  I did what I’ve been kicking myself for doing lately.  I checked twitter, I checked Facebook, I checked the stats of my blog, and I checked a couple of other websites.  In truth, I felt hopelessly lost, like one of the Knights of the Round Table in search of the elusive Holy Grail.   I don’t even know what the hell I’m looking for anymore.  Checking the internet just feels automatic now.  I’m up, it’s time to check to see if my life on the internet is worth all the time and energy I seem to put into it lately.  Gotto tell you all, it wasn’t.  And none of my other friends were going to be awake anyway, so there would be no Skyping or instant messaging with them. I was alone again among a different crowd on the world wide web.

 

Once I was done messing around with my computer, I got dressed, brushed my teeth, and got the fuck out of dodge.  My family was asleep.  So were their dogs, thank God.  Those yippie little motherfuckers have a habit of barking and giving away my position when I want to let my family sleep in.  They act like it’s my fault my parents were up late again watching bad television. It’s all I can do not to kick them both before I leave the apartment.  Worse, I’ve been feeling a cold sort of cruelty lately, a disdain for most of humanity that could easily become a dragon’s fire that consumes everyone in my path.  Maybe some of my muses are trying to wake the fuck up again so they can distract me from whatever is making me feel this way.  With my luck with writing lately, I just don’t know that it will happen.  Granted it’s only been a couple of days since my last couple of thousand words, but it’s still another frustration that I don’t want . I’m doing the mental masturbating that I’ve gotten so sick of lately.  My mind’s left hand is going either fall off or get really hairy.

 

But I figured if I was going to brood over something, I might as well go do it over at my favorite duck pond.

 

And it didn’t take me long to get there.  My feet were able to find the familiar path even thought the rest of me was so distracted by other things.  And it was nice to not be utterly surrounded with people at the park on a sunny, 45  day.

 

The pond was definitely pretty.  Morning sun reflects off the water in a different way than the afternoon sun does.  The ducks are lazier too.

 

They were doing something that I have never been awake and out at the pond early enough to see them do.  One duck would lazily swim along, his feet just kind of swishing behind him in the water.  Then without warning, he’d duck his head under the water as his body kept moving forward.  It was a bit like watching a feathered submarine.  When he wanted to see above the water again, he’d poke his head up slowly, like a periscope.  I had to smirk at that moment.  The hunt for Red October was on.

 

But then another duck showed up.  The first duck kept his head but he didn’t see the second duck making a bee line for him in the water.  Their paths were about cross.  It wasn’t going to be a violent collision, but maybe they would have quacked at each other or something.  But just when they were about to collide, they both stuck their heads below water and passed each other with two sets of moving ripples.  They were two feathery submarines with the same mission in mind, and they just missed each other by inches.

 

I love my ducks, but I don’t know a heck of a lot about them.  I don’t know if they communicate underwater using “quack” bubbles or anything like that.  But the sight of two ducks missing each other by inches got me to thinking New York pedestrians, and how many of them I witness each day passing each other like these ducks.  Instead their heads aren’t buried under the green, sunlit water of a pond looking for food.  The heads of these curious “New Yorker” creatures are looking down at their smart phones and their kindles, texting, reading, not looking where they are going a great deal of the time, and still managing to avoid each other.

 

And I find that sad.

 

I am not going to sit here and type out this BLOG post while condemning social media.  My hypocrisy will only stretch so far.  I am an American consumer, and like the rest of us, I’ve somehow embraced the tenets of capitalism and technology’s role in said norms.

 

But I can’t lie to you either.  There are some very interesting people in this world,  and I’m sad to see them looking at their smart phones instead of paying attention to the world around them.  There are teenagers with keen intellect in their eyes, pretty women and handsome, snappily dressed men with stories written all over their faces, old people with tales of their glory days just itching to be shared with young strangers like me.  And even in places like Central Park, they wander around practically Eskimo kissing their smart phones in an attempt to communicate while the world around them continues to exist.  Spring flowers continue to bloom. Tiny robins tweet (and not on the internet). Potential conversations with real people are avoided.  Gothic Architecture isn’t admired. Food festivals aren’t savored for the unique cultural experience that they provide. And even the potential for romance seems to fly out the window, replaced (most believe) by something known as internet speed dating.

 

I’ve done my share of internet “dating” too.  It flies in the face of everything I was taught about love and romance growing up.  Then again, maybe that’s not always a bad thing in my case 😉  Live  with my parents for a month and you’ll think that movie “War of the Roses” was a picture of paradise.

 

I met a special someone on the internet.  It isn’t always easy.  Only time, at this point, will tell me if it will work. I gamble with my heart when I think it’s worth it.  Deep down, despite my apparently cold view toward people, I think she has the potential to be.

 

My parents didn’t prepare me for that one.

 

But what does it mean when the people around you all start to look like ducks who bury their heads underwater looking for something special?  Ducks have a simple reason to “duck,” don’t they?

 

Maybe people have their reasons too, but I am only really beginning to understand what they are. I do it myself, and I’m still trying to understand why..

 

“Duck and cover” isn’t just something people say when fighting breaks out.

 

 

What do you all think out there in internet land?  Why do people lower their heads and avoid the potential for joy and goodness in their lives? I’d love to hear from any of you on this subject.

My Viewpoint on Death

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 04/01/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

A good friend of mine named E. posted on his blog not too long ago and he asked a very poignant question regarding people’s thoughts on death.  I thought it was worth answering as I am a thirty-something year old man who has thought a lot about life and the crazy directions that it can take.  I won’t gush over something like this. Death is something that so few of us really talk about in an open and honest way, even when someone we know or love passes on.

 

I thought you all might like to read my answer to his question.  I didn’t realize how strong my feelings were on the subject until I wrote them.  It’s funny how that can happen…

 

E. –

 

This is actually a really good question.  I’ve thought about it a lot more as I’ve become a thirty something, looked back over my life for the last decade or so and realized that I want to change it into something totally different.

 

When I was a kid, I used to think of death as a step in a “choose your own adventure” novella. I was brought up Catholic, and the idea of death that was presented to me was very simple. Death was simply the moment where God would judge what you had done with your life. If he deemed that you were good enough, you would be allowed into a place that offered eternal paradise and peace. If he deemed you evil, than you would be cursed to an eternity of fire and brimstone. You COULD end up somewhere in the middle (Purgatory), but the priests at my local church didn’t recommend that either.

 

But I had issues with a God that allowed rape, murder. and DEATH to some people who were so young and so good and didn’t deserve those things. I also took issue with a God who allowed bad people to live into their eighties and nineties without so much as a howdy do!

 

And I was an angry kid when it came to my autistic brother. I just didn’t understand why GOD would curse someone like that, and then inflict him upon an already turbulent family.

 

I lost my faith before I hit puberty. Prayer didn’t help, and I felt alone all the time even when I was surrounded by people.

 

Skip ahead to my college years. I was in my twenties, I was dating, I was reaping the benefits of a higher education thanks to the standardized testing that once again set me apart from everyone else. But college was different. I finally got to meet people who were inquisitive and intelligent like I am. But I was also away from home, and the rules were my own to make or to break as I saw fit. I felt invincible, really. By my senior year, I was convinced that death was simply a state of mind. I watched friends of mine get so stoned all the time that they essentially killed the spark of life that used to be in their eyes. No longer were they the intelligent, active, creative people that I had gotten to know. To me, THAT was death.

 

These days, I believe that to somehow forget to live while you’re still on this earth is Hell, but it isn’t death

 

Now in my thirties, I have forced myself to prioritize what my life goals really are. I have learned some painful lessons along the way about life, love, and the bonds of family. I watched a ten year relationship of mine finally fall apart because the two of us could no longer be in love with the IDEA of each other. I watched family ties get broken and then rebuilt in those ten or so years. I am home now, and I am still struggling with the notion that blood could ever be thicker than water. I am also in the process of fulfilling my ultimate dream to be a writer, something that I virtually eliminated from my life for the ten years I was with my ex.

 

When someone asks me what death means to me now, I tell them that death is simply an equalizer. Everyone fucking dies.

 

There’s a famous movie quote that I often paraphrase in my head that pretty much declares that the only two things that one must deal with in this world are death and taxes. The person to whom this is uttered is a gangster that says,”I don’t pay taxes.”

 

Death simply reminds me that there are still “miles to go before I sleep,” and I want to make those miles the most beautiful part of my life. My end goal, really, is to leave this world better place than it was when I first entered it.  But I want to do it my way.  I want to bring my own creativity into the mix, to entertain people and give them a means by which to escape the mundane, the terrifying or the overwhelming aspects of their own lives. I want to allow people to delve into a fictional world of my own creation (if only for a little while). And I am not without ego. I want to be known for my ability to do it. If I can make a decent living doing it, so much the better. Maybe I want to know what it’s like to live in an actual house someday by the beach, listening to the waves crash against the shore as I come up with my next insane piece of writing.

 

But most of all, I want to reclaim the love that was stripped from me as a youth. I want to rise from the ashes as a powerful Phoenix and soar unto the heavens, graceful, beautiful, and proud. And I want to share that with people that I actually give a damn about rather than pretending that certain people in my life have done more for me than they actually have. Death strips you of all those concerns, and maybe it is, as some would claim, the ultimate liberation. But I’m not about to suicide to get rid of the pain that still remains in my heart. There’s still too much to do, too much to live for. There are still streets in my own city that I have not fully explored. I still have people to reach out to. I have finally begun to allow love to melt the ice that occasionally threatens to reform around my heart. I will put down my sword and pick up a pen, a laptop, or a special someone’s hand….

 

I still have too many stories to tell the world.

 

-Mr. Drummer

 

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