Only Speak in Pantomimes

September 9, 2010

All too often, I open my mouth and, instead of expressing the poignant conjecture which had only moments before occupied my brain, I find myself stranded in the Gobi Desert of sentences. I awkwardly twist, attempt at backtracking, and tangentially grab hold of any remaining shred of logic before I realize that my foot is now too far down my throat to say anything else.

In this way, I frequently embarrass myself, and have been known to confuse, berate, or offend others. I don’t intend to, quite the opposite, actually. My brand of honesty is just a little too honest. Like an obnoxious game show contestant, I share too much of the process and not enough well-developed thought. My emotions take charge of the rhetoric while my rational mind follows thisclose behind screaming “Stop talking! SHUT! UP!”

This is why I’m best in black and white. Letters, spaces, and punctuation. Structured sentences and fully-formed theses. My mental processes require stringent editing– I need to be cut, deleted, and re-evaluated before I can be taken seriously. And, even then,  my intentions come across botched, at best.

Language is our species’ blessing and curse. It helps us understand, and just as often misunderstand, one another. it can be literal or ambiguous, sarcastic or dead serious. Unlike much of the animal kingdom, our “language” is not based soley in brain chemicals, hormones, or singly interpretive waves. Our methodology is so convoluted, even “yes” and “no”  become interchangeable.

People crave communication. Contact with others keeps our reality consistent. We find comfort in shared experience: if the sky appeared crimson to you, basic instinct would be to seek a second opinion. We just want to be sure we’re all on the same page, or at least still in the same book.

In my human scramble to ensure a cohesive reality, I find myself sharing thoughts that aren’t quite thoughts at all. I express my perception of things as facts when, in reality, I can be rather presumptuous; occasionally all-together wrong.

Knowing this about myself, I will sometimes go so far as to rehearse even a minor monologue aloud before it’s delivery. But in the end, without fail, I say too much. I elaborate some trivial detail; drive home some irrelevant or questionably related point. I see my proverbial foot heading toward my mouth, recognize that I am about to make a fool of myself, and then proceed to either continue making things awkward or flail about wildly making conclusions that sound more like accusations.

I have a fear of the things people find “between the lines” during dialogue, so I fill that space with nonsense. I’m discovering, however, that there is truly greater value in conversational minimalism. Something about the mystery.

This is what I find most encouraging about the writing trades: they allow mediocre people who are patient and industrious to revise their stupidity, to edit themselves into something like intelligence. They also allow lunatics to seem saner than sane. [[WampetersFomaAndGranfalloons.KurtVonnegut]]



September 3, 2010

I’m just going to come right out and say this: I love the internet. Love. It. You don’t have to come clean, too. I already know I’m not alone.

Every day millions, maybe billions (pfft, math…) open up their chosen Internet browser to their chosen home page and begin scouring the world wide web for new information. This multitude checks e-mail, reads news happening in every corner of the globe, and uploads content to be perused and critiqued by others. Human beings are transmitting and receiving information constantly, and almost instantaneously, from the moment we wake up in the morning and log onto iChat, Twitter, or Outlook.

From the time we type the first letter into that search bar, and Google’s A.I. finishes our very thoughts like a familiar lover, we are connected to something much bigger than ourselves. And I find that AWESOME.

Some people are frightened of “Big Brother,” afraid of our technologies surreptitiously and systematically destroying our morality and sense of self, but not I. I welcome Big Brother as my generation’s surrogate father. A silent, omnipotent cultural observer. Both a mirror and projection of contemporary society. A place where we can all have a soapbox, megaphone, and hecklers. Biggest fans and antagonizers. The Internet is a place where popular vote really means something.

I embrace this age of index-card-sized portable phone/ camera/ computers. I clear the future of these technologies for landing; seriously can’t wait.

Why so hyped up on the Interwebs, you ask? Honestly, just think about it. Long and hard. Think about how incredible it is that not only can we communicate with strangers in Russia, but we can hold conversation in real-time– actually SEE one another– while doing any number of other things at the same time, including holding other conversations. We can instantly share with every one of our “Friends” on Facebook how adorable our cats look in silly hats, or our snarky commentary on the latest pop culture trends.

The internet is a place where everyone has a pretty fair shot at fame (although perhaps not always intentional). For something, or seemingly nothing, it doesn’t matter. If you have a good or controversial enough YouTube video, UStream, or website, It doesn’t matter who you are. In fact, you don’t even have to be yourself!

The age-old game of “who you know” has had it’s gates crashed by ambitious “nobodies” armed with e-mail addresses, Twitter handles, and thoroughly Google’d “close sources.” The masses have begun to rebel against social elitism, recognizing our anatomic and genetic equality. The general public has begun policing itself– checking corporate power, political powers, and reality stars’ egos alike, with the threat of rallying a digital mutiny. Brushing shoulders with stardom and celebrity has never been so simple. Amassing a small army against tyrannical bureaucrats doesn’t even require putting on pants. In an era where Facebook officiates relationship status, and families text each other from the next room, it is certainly not out of line to say you “know” someone when they’ve validated your online friendship!

Limitless forums, pages, social networks, and directories all point different arrows to the same destination. A veritable wonderland in the space between fact and fiction. A place where human intrigue gets to take the stage– where pet tricks and hostage situations are equally “recommended viewing.” The internet is a place that demonstrates the best and worst qualities of contemporary civilization, often simultaneously. The internet is our societal Id. Raw, real, uncensored.

The Internet is dynamite, volatile and ominous.

As long as there are matches, there will be fuses. As long as there are fuses, no walls are safe. As long as every wall is threatened, the world can happen. [[StillLifeWithWoodpecker.TomRobbins]]

Make Your Own Luck

September 1, 2010

Confession: I have never been to Las Vegas. In fact, I’ve never even been to a casino.

Never have I pulled the lever on a slot machine; never have I tossed a set of dice on to a felt-covered table; and never have I lost track of the time in the bowels of a glitzy neon establishment, fueled by recycled air and free well-drinks.

Not for lack of proximity, au contraire, there are several casinos within mere hours of where I live. It’s just that I can’t bring myself to gamble with money. I don’t play cards for money, I don’t spin wheels for money, I don’t buy raffle tickets, and I don’t take anyones bets for anything, regardless of my certainty on the outcome. Neither of my parents were “gambling addicts,” nor are they in any way against it. It’s just a weird mental block I have. Deep in my psyche there is a voice that staunchly, and without compromise, prevents me from taking any of those definitive risks with my cash. I don’t even have a dime in the stock market. I just can’t do it.

Now, it could be argued that any time you spend your money, you are taking a risk. And that much is true to an extent, but when a transaction occurs and goods exchanged there is a level of tangibility. Even with online goods. Even with movie rentals, or concerts– which you don’t get to keep. I don’t think twice about spending $8 on a monster burrito, or the extra $2 to get organic foods. Rarely do I hesitate to purchase a $.99 app, or drop a dollar for a busker. In my mind, there is a reward for each of these scenarios, I am receiving a good or service (quality aside). With gambling, there is no guarantee– could be double or nothing.

I believe my aversion to financial risk-taking is rooted in my abhorrence of math and money in general. I just don’t understand it, none of it has ever made any sense. It bounces around my brain wildly, only to be regurgitated in a jumble of incorrect calculation and questionable logistics.

All I do know is that to live comfortably in capitalized America, I need money. To get money, I have to work. And working is not party time, even if it’s not treachery. Simply put, earning money is work.

Another word for gambling is “gaming.” A game is something you play. Gambling is, by definition, playing with money; winning means being awarded more money, losing means having your money taken away.

I know this all sounds incredibly redundant, but when I break it down to the basics, I can still find no appeal to gambling. I don’t even play carnival games, or the claw machine at the supermarket. When I invest, I want at least some type of guaranteed return– even if it’s just karmic. With gambling I don’t see most people leaving winners, otherwise casinos would probably be out of business, no?  I don’t imagine anyone there getting warm-fuzzies from knowing their cash is going to some noble cause. People just walk in, turn their government issued tender into plastic pieces with silly cartoons and fun colors, and toss it around as though it’s no longer the hour spent at their desk on Tuesday afternoon.

Gambling is about winning, if you are not winning, you are losing. In most sports, etc, it’s arguably “about playing the game,” but with gambling winning is the game. Spending money to sit in a chair spending money is not entertaining to me, and it seems a very strange attitude for a culture that laments a $.07 hike in gas prices.

Or, maybe I have this perspective because I am a loser.  I’m not trying to get down on myself here, I am simply speaking the truth.

While many find lady luck seductive, I find her management of my finances even worse than my own. You hire a landscaper for landscaping, not for accounting advice. I play games to have fun, laugh with my friends, and forget about responsibility– not lose my money (ie: time and effort). My luck has never come in the form of financial windfall, and I believe it’s best to accept this about myself than to fight it. My brand of luck is the sort that comes from contributing to the cosmic energy pool, not the financial one. My luck comes in strange coincidence and fortunate occurrences.

There is the guy who wins the lottery twice, then there is the guy who gets struck by lightning twice, and lives. I am more likely to be in that latter category, but as long as I don’t have to place any bets first, I’ll take luck however I can get it!