Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Date

Does anyone see the difference between "being random" and remaining open to every moment's possibilities? For her, random was running out of a place after just sitting down for drinks or deciding to buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke for the first time in a while. For me, it was witnessing a couple trying to deal with an immobile, wasted pal and offering them a ride to their house when they were going to have to drag him a couple of blocks. In a general context, my actions seem crazier and more dangerous. But in the context of "being random" as so many flakes describe their behavior, I feel you might as well make it count. These good deeds are moments' possibilities more often than you know but they're not always convenient or conventional.

Trust me, there were plenty of signs throughout the night but she was so gorgeous. Pale skin, black hair, my usual Snow White profile. A drunk guy about a head taller than me was babbling about Halloween and hitting on her right in front of me. I grabbed him and said "Halloween's your favorite holiday, right? That's where the conversation ended." He profusely apologized and took off. But I found him lurking around and could have sworn he said "Ill wait around if you come back." I wasnt supposed to hear it but before I could do anything, she started getting real remote and detached then suggested we leave. From there, she insists on walking me to my car and seeing ME off. When I offer to do the same for her, she bristles and remarks about being a big girl and how she hates when someone tries to look after her, blah blah blah. And she was very sudden and abrupt about it, adding to already building suspicion. This one time, I knew I was being fucked over and couldn't just leave the night to end like that. I drove off but turned the nearest corner. I looked back and could see that she wasn't going anywhere. She was engaged in conversation with two guys. I got out of the car and headed back in that direction, not knowing what Id do or say. That's when I almost run into this college kid crumpled on a stoop. This girl is trying to get him to wake up and stand and I realize they are this couple I had met in the bar. Im looking down the sidewalk at my "date" hanging out with two guys and then back at this girl trying to get his poor bastard to hang onto her neck so she could drag him home. When the drunk took a bad fall, I got involved. I asked the couple how far they lived and would they like a drive. So, I did it and while they were thanking me, I couldnt help but laugh and mention how they owe the ride to my "date" being a nutbar. I couldnt help but wonder out loud about my luck. The girl of the couple was even going on about how gorgeous she was, haha.

So, I drop the crazy kids off and head back toward the bar. I park in the same spot and the "date" is now standing directly in front of the bar, still socializing. If you've been taken advantage of before, you may understand my motivation for confronting a situation like this just once, rather than grin and bear it or call it a day. So, I just casually strolled up beside her and she so very calmly responded. I told her what I had just did. She made up a story about breaking up a fight. If she broke up a fight, it must have been telepathically.

Those who know me best, unfortunately, will not be surprised in the least that this experience occurred. That's all I can say about that. But with the sort of change I have been diligently pursuing in the wake of losing my job, I see no reason why my social situation can't be part of said change. There is nothing to tie me down.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Context Clues

As an English teacher, it's no surprise that I teach students about context clues. Of course, I teach high school students who have never heard of context clues but that's another story. For today's blog, I would like to talk about context clues in a whole other context. If we can figure out what a word means by its surroundings, why can't we shed some light on ourselves in a similar fashion? Here's an example. Staring straight into my mind's eye all the time drains every ounce of energy from me most days. But if I change the context in which I see myself, my perspective shifts dramatically and my energy can be refreshed. While walking down a sidewalk that's part of a city block that's part of a city with a horizon and wide open sky just beyond it, who the hell wants to be cooped up inside their skull?! When I gaze up, then around, and eventually remind myself of the sky's omnipresence and how it will always give way to infinity, I am no longer "stewing in my own juices" so to speak. I avoid being "pickled". My new context may make me infinitesimally small but it also makes me part of said infinity. That's not bad for a walk to the corner store and a scrumptious BLT on a roll.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Graphic Novel: Title and Plot


The man who calls himself 'Jack' is stalking the streets of Washington, D.C. in search of a mysterious drug which he is inexplicably addicted to. After tracing the sale of said drug from a pair of government agents to a group of local dealers, 'Jack' finds he has extraordinary reflexes and fighting prowess when he liberates the criminals of their recent purchase. A series of random events then lands 'Jack' square on the path to discovering the source of his training, his addiction and the mental trauma that has been dogging him for the short time he is able to remember. One clue, the pharmaceutical symbol 'Rx' will blow open a sordid history of government funded torture and psychological experimentation, a history the Central Intelligence Agency is eager to close the book on as it readies a whole new volume of social control for the 21st century.

Caught In A Good Mood

"Right at the center of a contradiction, that's the place to be" Oscar Wilde

Have you been reading my ongoing meditation on this concept of "graspin"? You know, basically saying 'don't do it'? Let me reverse that. You can't let a good mood get away. While you can certainly experience it without grasping, it is way too easy to let it pass you by. Thus, you may have to grab hold in certain instances. If you hold on too hard and don't let go, the mood will certainly die, in which case you shift back to the "no grasping" directive. This contradiction may very well confuse you or cause you to dismiss everything I have written thus far. Stay with me and I will explore the notion that contradiction is the place to be. It is balance. It is the key to unlocking new levels of learning. When I was ten and just starting my martial arts training, I was a white belt and the designation is fitting because everything is black and white. I was taught the basics and the basics were it. Only when I reached higher ranks and neared black belt did my instructor start to basically teach us with "Remember when I said *blank*? Forget that." And thus, knowledge we thought we had had a grasp on for years had suddenly been taken out of the equation or given a new shape. It is how we learn language in a lot of cases, especially the English language. It gets downright frustrating.

So, technically, this is a two-topic entry. For those of you who read that I am in a good mood and thought "Now this I gotta hear", only to be slapped with the usual esoterrorism, have no fear. I shall elaborate. But first, "esoterrorism" is not a real word. It is derived from "esoterrorist", a label assigned to me by a history teacher in high school. My answers tended to run rather long and difficult to understand. Hard to imagine, yeah? Anyway, I certainly am in a good mood. Ever since I began this blog in order to create the initiative to discipline myself and produce regular output, my writing has grown stronger. The big payoff is the resurgence of my graphic novel work. It has been many years since I first started receiving finished art based on one of my scripts. The reason it has taken so long comes down to the usual factors of time and money. The complete story has existed all along. A full preview of the first chapter has been around almost as long. My only plan had been to continue to pay for and oversee the production for all art based on my scripts. Then, I would go back and create the final text to go with the finished panels. As of this writing, I have completed art for four of the eight chapters that comprise my story. However, extended money issues combined with my aforementioned writing boon have compelled me to start the final writing for the completed art I already have. As soon as the money presents itself, and it will, I can still go ahead and get the rest of the chapters in the can. For now, the fact that I am again writing my baby and feeling like it is brand new is MOST certainly contributing to my good mood.

What else? I've been enjoying quite a bit of a surge in my social life and meeting some very interesting people. Folks are making me feel the love and that's no small feat. By that, I mean my folks and folks in general. Certain colleagues of mine in this teaching adventure are highly valued sources of support and inspiration. If I had one on, my cap is off to Mr. Serefeas and Mr. Schwacka. My lifelong mentor, Master Michael Abruzzi, is an essential figure in my life even if his input has eliminated everything but water and tree bark from my diet. Who am I kidding? I have a long way to go before I get halfway to that level. But thats one I REALLY dont get a vise grip on because it creates mental stress and zero productivity. But seriously, no one walks the talk in the health department like Master Abruzzi and I defy anyone within twenty years of his age range to do better.

So yeah. Im in a good mood. Bought myself an XBox 360 and I just can't wait to get going on Batman:Arkham Asylum, DC vs. Mortal Kombat and Halo:OTSD. Then there's playing online and downloading and all that. But I know if it's too complicated to set up, I can't be bothered. The gaming experience has to be easy to access and even easier to enjoy. At the very least, this distraction should tide me over and carry me through this good mood until certain factors of my life fall into place. Until then, it's video game violence mania!!

"Contradiction is balance"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


What is the difference between issues and baggage? I'll venture a guess and say the latter must be carried while the former tends to tag along all on its own. But both still rely upon your participation. Sometimes a smile can invalidate their existence but a smile is ultimately too fleeting. That doesn't stop me from making every effort to keep those smiles coming and ward off the darkness as long as I can. As I wrote in my last blog entry, when you get a grip you are thwarting yourself just as efficiently as any adversary you'll ever face. So today, in order to release my grip on whatever's clogging up my mind's eye, I will turn to my new friend, Blog, and hope that he can take the weight.

In order to avoid carrying baggage, I've always had a tendency to cut away large portions of my past with zeal. My issues certainly remain in place. Though I call them issues, I still make it a point for none of them to BECOME an issue for myself or anyone else. Make sense? Doubtful but if you've been reading these things, there's a chance you can follow or figure it out by now.

Love is the gift of self. That is probably the single most important thing religion ever taught me. Not a gift of the body. Not a gift of affection. Not even a gift of all the time, effort and attention you think you can possibly spare. Whatever state Project You may be in at the time, that is the gift you are giving. Issues, baggage and all. And it is in no way the obligation of the recipient to take over for you. You're never absolved of that responsibility, no matter how hard you try. Shirk it, baby. The issue is still there. So what's in it for you, my fellow creatures of conceit? A partner. You get to keep working on you. Your partner gets to keep working on them. That's right, a partner. Personally, I have never had a crowd of any sort. Perhaps, I have drifted into or spent time amongst a group of people. But my number of friends and associates has never been a large one. You won't see endless pages of party shots with me anywhere in sight. On the other hand, I have never been able to keep my world to myself. The need for attention and even more so the need for appreciation or recognition has always been quite apparent to all who know me or have ever known me. But I'm sure you, my imaginary friend, can place the truth between those two poles. It is only when I appreciate or recognize myself for who I am that I am ready to make a gift of it. Any takers?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vise Grip

Ever feel like you're wrestling with your life? All you need is one victory, even a tiny one, on some front but it just won't materialize? Well, I have news for you. With all my talk of squeegeein the third eye and assorted borrowed Buddhist concepts, I am one of the worst offenders.

A while ago, I read this great book on the concept of the devil from a Buddhist perspective. The title escapes me but this quote from Buddha remains resonant: "It makes no difference what you grasp, when someone grasps, Mara sits beside him". Mara is Buddha's devil or devil-concept. This 'grasp' he refers to, in my mind, is the opposite of squeegeeing the third eye. The mind's eye needs to remain clear so that the world can pass through it and a dirty third eye will certainly muddy that up. However, it is only when this 'eye' gets a hold of something and won't let go that our entire life can be upheaved. Despite the ability of a high-functioning third eye's capacity to process the metaphysical or obtuse concepts of the surrounding world, the rest of our mind still clings to the concrete like a baby to his mother's breast. When this 'grasp' occurs, things start to back up in the third eye and sure, Bill Hick's squeegee recommendation is sound advice. Yet, the jamming of the eye in this manner is only the beginning of our troubles. Like a nervous sphincter, our mind's eye clams shut in an attempt to establish some sort of fixed position from which we can fend off life's challenges. No one, NO one can avoid this. Especially not me.

My only hope, as far as I can tell, is that I still manage to catch on eventually when I have a vise grip on life. Other folks work hard to maintain their grip and experience the odd "eye-opening" experience here and there, only for it to do the spincter thing immediately after. My experience of releasing said grip is not radical or beyond what my fellow travelers work with. It actually turns out to be the latest in a lifelong parade of double-takes where I let it slip and am reminded that my life and life itself are still "there" whether Im gripping or not. So then what good does this grip really do? How many proverbs and cliches are there for holding onto something too tight? I'll let you go ahead and fill them in. Life happens. It doesn't require our input and it goes on. The spirit of existence is a free one and it doesnt respond well to, or really give a shit about our input. It's for us to enjoy. I leave you with more words of wisdom from my spirit-world brother Bill Hicks:

"It's just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one." - Bill Hicks

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Squeegee Your Third Eye

One of my heroes, the late stand-up comedian Bill Hicks, used the phrase "Squeegee Your Third Eye" a lot in his act. Of course, he also recommended we do this through the use of psilocybin mushrooms but I believe the phrase can easily apply to non drug users. After all, I have never used drugs, with the exception of alcohol but that's no help, believe me. Bill always pointed out that the two drugs that do nothin for our Third Eye are perfectly legal while all those that do alter our minds are illegal. Coincidence? I think not. Those that know me, however, know that I understand we're all tryin to get to the same place. There is no judgment from me. The Third Eye is another way of sayin the mind's eye. A squeegee is that thing they use at the gas station to clean your windows. By squeegeein our mind's eye, we are keeping it clear so that we may perceive things better. Being mindful of things is to perceive life through our mind's eye and not just our five senses. It is through our mind's eye that we master life. If you've been woken up by Morpheus, this means you can do kung fu, dodge bullets and jump from building to building. That's fun but before any of that, Morpheus told Neo that The Matrix worked on his five senses and if that's all you use, the control works. Since we are more than the sum of our five senses, we are free. We just have to keep that area clean. We have to squeegee our third eye. We must strive for mastery. This way of perceiving the world, once switched on, does not switch off. Trust me. I've sabotaged it with alcohol and it may blur but it does not shut down.

At this moment, forces far more destructive than alcohol are at work on my mind's eye. See, as far as I know of my own third eye, it doesn't work like any other senses. It does not involve the wondrous precision of the nervous system. Too much input from the world around me slips past my five senses and clogs my mind's eye. All that refuse, all that shit becomes far too much for a mere squeegee. How do I keep it out? Most people, even those who know nothing of this mind's eye, filter their world until they're comfortable with the outlook. When the mind's eye is clogged, they feel the effects but are unaware. They do their best with their five senses and their mind's eye takes care of itself. You could say that they are trained to stay away from certain functions of the mind. If everyone was mindful and weilding a third eye, we could be on some unknown level of evolution and travelin to new realities. Instead, cases like mine tend to result in mental illness. That tends to handicap perception and cause much suffering. But that's still not the case with me. Hence these forces which I haven't explained yet. Some of us get this idea that this clouded mind might have a silver lining. If we manage to clear the hurdles and dodge the bullets our condition puts in our path, there must be a reason. My survival and the augmentation of my perception might have prepared me to assist others with their perception. The fact that I have managed to infiltrate the field of education is a key clue to my purpose lying in the future of children. The fact that I ended up with teenagers has seemed right to me. They are only just forming and that includes their mind's eye. Smaller children are perception with legs. I love them to pieces but they are relatively clear of struggle for the time being.

Adolescence is truly when the "Who am I?" directive appears and we all know that there is a line around the block and across the planet waiting to give or sell them the answer. THEY are the forces I speak of. Those voices and the noise that they smother perception with plague me. I cannot filter them as others do. Instead, I perceive them all and even amplify them a bit. Thankfully, at age 30, I may finally understand that too much time spent in the mind's eye can lead to delusions of invulnerability and the neglect of my all-too-human, all-too-ordinary life. Too much "big picture" makes the small picture inoperable. And the "small" picture is daily life. When daily life shuts down, ALL life shuts down. Sound elementary? Guess what? Now you have the kryptonite that kills those of us who try to be Superman. Plans to save the perception of students are still made under the auspices of the institution of education. The cock-eyed and polluted pool of conformity is the only pool I can conduct my mission in. That's what's getting to me, folks. I am up to my eyes in it. If I save myself, does that mean I have abandoned my mission? Have I given up? I never quit. What do I do?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Be present

Buddhists use the word 'mindful' a lot. I may devote my next blog entirely to the concept but for now I just want to share just one example and end with a related post that I placed on Facebook. Buddhists advise us to be mindful of the present moment. We should try to enjoy the experience of whatever we're doing at the moment. For example, rather than stuffing crap in our mouths while driving and talking on the cell phone would be the complete opposite of that idea. Next time you eat, try just having that experience and worry about nothing else. It's tougher than it sounds and I suck at it as much or more than anyone else. Be present:

My interest in this subject probably started at one of the last few concerts I went to and realized I was one of the only attendees in the front row that was actually experiencing the show rather than taking pic with the digital and tweeting. More recently, I was doing something as natural as hanging out on a porch with some folks but I was the only one there because the rest were completely "plugged in" to Iphones, laptops and whatever. Not doing work. Not even talking to someone live. Just somewhere else.

Actress Radha Mitchell, Bruce Willis' co-star in the new movie Surrogates, explains what I feel is a rare, relevant theme, the kind that good sci-fi movies should be based on. This is from an interview on

SHH: You mention social commentary; there seems to be a message in "Surrogates" about technology taking over and the inherent risks. Can you talk a little about how you feel the film relates to technology in the world today?

Mitchell: Definitely. I think the strength of this story is that it exaggerates a situation that we're all experiencing now in that we're talking about abstract forms of communication. You use this Surrogate body to live your life for you. A lot of us are spending much more time than we ever did before, especially on our working sites, on the internet, Googling, texting, Twittering. It's taking up a lot of our time and taking time away from actual human exchanges. Or, a lot of us are sort of playing these roles in society and not necessarily being what we are. I think that it is, on a certain level, dehumanizing us. The movie posits the question and then challenges us to take responsibility. It's actually unexpectedly challenging for a big-budget action movie."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Certifiable? Certified? Classified? All Of The Above?

I cannot be classified.

I am not a member.

I wrote that in high school, 10th grade I believe. It's cute, I think. Lord knows, I'd be ecstatic if I received anything of that nature from my students. For me, it was the beginning.Some of my earliest memories aren't even really memories. They're figments of my imagination but figments that were being used to propel all sorts of exploration. Before I even turned three, I was having daily conversations with my sixty four year old neighbor, Sav. And I would talk about whatever was the furthest from my immediate scope. My favorite topic was the planes that flew from nearby JFK Airport and right over our house in Queens. By the time I was learning my alphabet, I had made it to the edge of the known universe, struggling with the black or white space that could only be what came before the beginning. Yet, none of that was a threat to my place in the whole mess. As I've said, I've always been able to pilot from within. No matter which direction I look, outward or inward, I can always find myself on the verge of something but never quite there. Let me pause for a moment to paraphrase something my mentor and karate instructor said in class last night.
Look through the telescope and you will see infinity.
Look through the microscope and you will see infinity.
Being on the verge of something but never quite there is merely a description of the leash we are all on. We may gaze at the infinite but our perspective is finite. Sooner or later, we classify out of the need to get a grip. We make plans.Love. Work. Living space. No matter how long I have used my creativity and imagination to address and contemplate the infinite, the present has a way of getting one's attention. Try having plans in all of those areas blasted to bits within a relatively short window of time. No longer a dreamer, you're worn. Suddenly, you become aware of the mass you're comprised of and remember how long you've been dragging it around. It's a crash course in what's actually goin on. With luck, the "While You Were Away" memo arrives long before any serious breakdown. In my experience, the road to disaster is paved by neglect for the here and now. A certain Dr. Winston O'Boogie once said "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Torrential Thoughts

It can constrict itself to a pin prick, a prick just big enough to set its sights on one idea or image without relenting. Or it can expand to such an extent that either some catastrophic stampede can trample through and wreak havoc or an aerial god-like view will reveal the insignificance of whatever that prick set its sights on. The third eye. The all-seeing eye.

How have I come so far in man's linear world? The martial artist in me would tell you that you counter straight line attacks with circular defense. In other words, use the femine Yin as cohesively with the masculine Yang as you can. But that concept of balance was something I was obsessed with for quite a long time until recent years. See, I have always managed to make it in man's world but only due to the power of my imagination. Never have I been in tune with the objective world. BUT Ive been able to use this dry/erase board, or for fellow teachers, this SmartBoard, in my mind to conceptualize and dream up responses to the everyday world. I used to excel at math not because I appreciated numbers or calculations. I could imagine the equations, using my mind's eye.

You see, since I was a kid, I found I could run my affairs from inside. Anything that threatened to pull me out was met with great annoyance. Every time the obligations I was taking on outside demanded compromise, I would negotiate always for maximum retention of my inner world. But I did tell you something changed in recent years, did I not? Well, there are no two worlds. There needn't be any interface because none exists. Interfaces exist because we create construct upon construct upon construct to navigate and make sense of this world. The idea I am building up to is more of a fusion or coalescence. The ability to bring one's inner world out in the open and take the wide open into one's heart. Tall order, right? I've got time.