Chemical Conundrum

28 Sep

I’d rather be bipolar than monoemotional and the problem with the world is that there are too few of the former and too many of the latter. However, the pedestal upon which I stand would become communal if the chemicals sloshing in your brain were like mine and I am by no means inclined to share a square centimeter of this post with anyone.

My concoction of chemicals makes so that words precede action (or in this case, furiously frustrated fingers fidget before reflection – they are swift and accurate and I have not touched the backspace key, not even once, during this cerebral and literary endeavor.) I am at the ceremony. My body is not adorned with excavated jewels, bloody rubies, sea shells and fossils dangling off a bejeweled dress, telling a story, clinging to me, asking to be seen. This ceremony does not have a dress code and I am naked to the bone. My pores breathe, and my lungs expand to their fullest capacity and their air-filled chambers resemble my ego, my swaying (dis)passion for mankind and myself and my bare feet groping the bare soil and I am here and had I been anywhere else in the world, these same feelings of elation would have washed over me like a discriminate wave, hitting myself and no other beach wanderer on some fateful day.

Was it predestined from the womb? Did my genes, my Xs and Ys, congregate and plot against their own creation, an entity which in retrospect may not have been sculpted by the weathered hands of time rendering chromosomal decisions king? Or perhaps it was the ebb and flow, the sporadic lowering and rising of the tide drowning the cursed seed of normalcy so that a hybrid adapted to the otherwise unusual aquatic environment sprouted a fruit-fly eater clapping its angry fangs feeding its insatiable appetite with fat flies and other juicy philosophical dilemmas. 

I am at the ceremony. I am at the ceremony. I repeat to myself on infinite loop, the feedback distorting even my own racing thoughts rife with imagery of gutted rodents, decapitated heads of non descript faces resembling neither former lovers nor beautiful yet fleeting faces (glimpses of which are caught, rather stolen, through window sills and across crowded walkways, never within reach, always leaving, forever inaccessible), ricocheting off narrow white walls without losing momentum (visualize these virginal walls, each stretching to infinity in all directions, separated far enough for these heads to bounce sporadically like hollow ping pong balls married eternally to mediocrity), seemingly ecstatic to have lost their mobility in exchange for the honor of the highest degree for having hijacked the motor of my being; my cerebrum. It’s the ceremony where I shall rejoice in the genius of madness, toss my redundant body in a crispy pile of yellowing autumn leaves and hear in each asynchronous crunch crackle in my ears, telling me to 

return to the dullness of reality, the monotony of which has been refurbished by this invitation where the great masters await me, fumbling with excitement. A domesticated rabbit decomposing. Vermin. Maggots. Radioactive rainbows emitting from the decay. A near holy mental precipitation except, terrifying in its clarity, in its decision to yank a handful of my hair, lifting my feet (who, despite the impression, require more than gravity to remain grounded) from the battered pavement (which I curse for its audacity to remain so grey, so mundane, so unchanging – why don’t elderberries sprout between the cracks? Maybe its substance could transform into quicksand, sucking its chore-abiding wanderers to an alternate reality to live with the earthworms and moles, blindly constructing tunnels they will never see, bumping into each other and unable to hold grudges because blindness robs one for self-recognition as well as that of others) then toss my then victimized body into the trunk, the destination unknown to me and opinion rendered as irrelevant as God’s role in modern society.

The fleshy twists and turns residing in my skull challenges itself to a game that can only result in a stalemate and the twists and turns of the vehicle, I have come to discover at this very moment, had the intention of deposing me at this ceremony – this ceremony that I will, eventually, attempt to clarify through convoluted descriptions, metaphors claiming resemblance between men in armored suits jumping from a hot air balloon, awaiting the fall, the futility of protection and the thrill of discovering that my oftentimes self-motivated exclusion has won me a golden ticket granting only its members with the privilege of tasting the entire gamut of human emotions.

Now paint has stained my skin, absorbing it like any dry and porous substance would any liquid (deconstructing literary elements is the bridge to literary absurdity). Make sense. Organize. Prioritize. Teach me order. Extract the essence of the alphabet, the Roman numeral system. Bullet point my frustration into legibility as clear as unflinching azure eyes showcasing brown flecks, orbiting around the iris, proud as a resilient peacock with drooping feathers on a rainy day. Digression! I call for a cease digression! 

Van Gogh can only promise one listening ear and a rickety seat beside him. I speak into his mutilated one, asking questions of why the chemist was declared absent on the days of our inception, nine months following the copulation that catapulted ourselves into existence. Does art only materialize, like millions of scattered pieces in a mosaic, from disaster? A lone plant defeating the constants of nature by sprouting in between the cracks of a Saharan desert, a speck 

of green avoiding the hooves of camels and tongue-clucking nomads, until one day it sprouts leaves as complex as origami and its suffering becomes something to be revered. 

I visit Plato. He is at the ceremony too and I ponder the perplexing possibility if via some correlation, causation, extrapolation, alignment or scientifically dubious calamity, if my chromosomes and his genius align. If, from his infamous cave of obscurity and light, truisms and shadows, if we have groped slippery stones and broken bones to escape the disapproval of an oppressive, fist-shaking crowd, yanking at ankles yet not breaking our momentum. Perhaps we escaped together, in a furious frenzy only to be reunited by its gravitational pull several millennia into the future. 

I am a sheep, so fragile that my rib cage and spinal cord can be felt, can emit sounds upon running a baton, a stick of any sort as if a xylophone over its flesh-covered skeleton. In my case, each hollow thump would be accompanied by a plea of belongingness to the only group that will accept me as a member. Together, Van Gogh, Plato, myself, the attendees, the jury, Winston Churchill and his black dog, Sigmund Freud and his motherly correlations, Mozart and his damaged eardrums, Napoleon and his single testicle, the reception, the pointers and gigglers, the guests, we all move together towards the stage as if an ocean of unruly waves, belittled as insignificant ripples yet now toppling over ships and creating typhoons. I salute them with tears of stormy proportions. My chemicals slosh and, with the grand masters of our time whose grips have tightened in solidarity with mine, I thank the chemist for his absence on the day of my inception and my Xs and Ys for a beautiful accident. 

Chronicles of a Split Persona

3 Jan

Where fact and fiction mingle

I’m 2 years old and I’m crawling down the rough steps, one chubby leg and corresponding arm at a time, in the dead of night. Robbing me of my sense of sight and sound. My ability to recognize odor, to let it guide me through the pitch-black night that has engulfed me whole but not insofar as to warn me of that very last stair, responsible for twisted ankles and fractured noses at worst (and an opportunistic excuse for stub-nosed individuals to chisel themselves a new one). Neither does it guide me in between misplaced furniture.

My olfactory buds instinctively jerk my extremities into motion to locate the source of the ever-changing, shape-shifting smoke and that pungent smell of tar, nicotine, rat poison and a myriad of carcinogens. I grapple onto her thigh once I’ve fumbled, tripped, suppressed spontaneous reactions and finally reached her. We don’t exchange a syllable. This is our ritual, perhaps my very first, perhaps before I even knew what rituals were. I inhale and it smells, it feels like home.

I’m 10 years old and I’m putting Greek plate throwers to shame with the intensity, the passion with which I’m hurling ashtrays across the room, shattering ceramics and denting aluminum. This game of hide and seek would transform condescending adults (rather children with authority) with their rules and “because I said so” into bloodthirsty hyenas, running their stained nicotine fingertips in between pillows to feed that insatiable beast lingering in their thirsty bloodstreams, their clogged areola, that robotic motion of approaching then distancing a nicotine-filled cylinder to their pursed lips.

I pile boxes that I sneakily procured in ways that I can rationalize, now that I have earned a PhD in the art of self-justification, that it was the lesser of two evils. In a philanthropic attempt to guide the nicotine fiends to their stash, I create a colossal bonfire. Have you ever poked a centipede with a twig, only to get a dose of your own “pick on someone your own size” medicine? If you plan on unoriginally replicating my idea, beware that burning plastic and nicotine en masse reeks as badly as stomping on an army of angry centipedes.

If only I had known that the smell of glory is considered to be second hand smoking in disguise then I would have done away with my pride-infused grin. Nonetheless, I remain satisfied and high five myself when nobody is watching. My lack of social skills at the time meant that I had nobody else to tap palms with during times of uncontainable excitement.

I am 16 years old and I am 40,000 feet above the ground. I am seated beside the CEO of Marlboro and I am intrigued. He is reading Madonna’s biography and I am staring at an unappetizing salad consisting of a single lettuce leaf and a fickle more-green-than-red cherry tomato. Taking our levels of excess boredom and the vast expanse of ocean and land that we have yet to traverse into consideration, I decide that beginning a conversation with the DILF seated beside me would be most profitable for both parties.

I asked him, more rudely than I’d planned to (my annoyance due to being randomly checked at every possible occasions, for reasons unrelated to my convoluted last name, as the guard on a power trip turns my socks inside out then smells them to make sure that us Arabs, in all our ingenuity, had not found a way to sew explosive fabric into our garments) if corporations have a conscience. Rather, why they don’t.

He grins exposing a million dollar smile and I feel tempted to run my fingers through his salt and pepper hair. I hold both hands in a fist to stop them from taking on a life on their own. Suddenly, it hit me. He is the face of cigarettes. Charming yet lethal. He crawls under your skin, seeps into your mind and piggyback rides on your instincts, your addictive nature. After delivering a speech of ready-made catalogue jargon about the narcotics’ exaggerated side effects, he informs me that he is not a smoker himself. Freedom of choice, he explains. Freedom of choice. Two weeks later, I buy my first Marlboro pack.

I am 18 years old and I am sitting in a sickeningly white and sanitized cubicle. The air so fresh and windows so clear that many a bird have perished to their death from crashing into its “impeccableness” that you feel compelled to contribute to its demise by smothering the glass with your sticky fingers and contributing a generous amount of carbon dioxide to the invisible matrix surrounding me. I do not know how I feel about smoking, how it makes me feel, but I do it religiously anyway. I might not enjoy all of my bad habits but I am loyal to them and in that I take great pride.

Each gives me another reason to loathe, love, accuse then forgive myself. With each toxic inhalation comes a gnawing thought and each exhalation detoxifies my murky soul. This process is repeated mindlessly ad infinitum until interest, income or health wane. Option number one is reserved for the fortunate and the second for those who “got what they had asked for,” the “I-told-you-so’s”.

I shake my pack (a habit I’ve acquired before plucking one) then reach into my pack for another, a fourth, a ninth, a twentieth, until my pack stops to rattle. I spot three cigarettes placed in a triangle on the windowsill. A Bermuda triangle. A couple of hours later, the obsessive-compulsive patient bellows and beats his chest, displaying gaudy signs of masculinity. He litters the glistening marble floor by tossing the plastic cutlery and airplane-like food in his fit of anger. Spattered ketchup and mustard recreating a Jackson Pollock masterpiece. Another patient is smothering the condiments with her bare feet.

Last week’s obsession was to shave all the female nurses’ hair and the week before he could be found crawling on all fours in the ward, collecting dust and sprinkling it onto other prisoner’s of the sterile cubicle. This week, he has taken interest in creating geometric shapes with cigarettes. He is not a smoker but today and until he finds a novel time-wasting method, his missing cigarettes are all that matter. The other patients are either too doped to be care or have been doped up due to excessive concern.

I never returned the trio and now they lie untouched in my drawer. A homage to cigarette snitching and times I cannot pretend to understand. I am a self-proclaimed cigarette kleptomaniac and it took me a good 18 years to come to this realization and to allow myself to be dragged out of my anti self-harm closet.

I am 19 years old and I am a larva that has transformed into a moth, a social smoker that has emerged as a full-time one. I smoke in my bedroom, with the door shut, the windows open and an ashtray neatly hidden beneath my bed. Most of my friends are smokers but then again, I probably have selected the fortunate bunch because of our decreasingly socially accepted pastime. We are tied to our habits and our habits, in turn, bind us together. Social adhesives. Time slaughterers. Must there always be reasons? Must there be reasons for self-destruction? Freedom of choice.

I am 30 years old and the gypsy within is still enchanting my nomad lifestyle. Relentlessly clicking the shutter release button leaves my fingers sore and what has now escalated into my chain-smoking ensures that they smell funky to an outsider but to me it smells, it feels like home. In between shots, the models and crew will light up their cylinders, some to feign preoccupation and others to ignite conversation.

My 8-year-old daughter, Alex, joins me and, as ritual has it, as my unmistakable genes have programmed her to be, she has her way with my packs depending on her mood. Either mutilating them when she is having trouble understanding “how babies are made” or memorizing the multiplication table. Or hiding them when she feels more playful, like when her pig-tailed and blushing friend whispers to her how it’s done (which, apparently, is “when Mommy and Daddy open their mouths, let their tongues play together and exchange spit – ew!”) or when she perfects the table that she is still unsure has any real purpose outside of her buck-toothed teacher’s classroom.

I am 49 years old and my birthday is in 3 weeks. I have lost my appetite (except for my nicotine cravings). I am wheezing, coughing blood. My chest and shoulders feel as if a boulder has been weighing them down. Piercing pain like no other. My doctor delivers the news in a sympathetic tone. Slightly accusatory? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s my conscience tainting his words. I have a terminal case of lung cancer, he says. I have a few weeks. Several months at best. I am numb.

I might not be around for my birthday, for my daughter’s, for my first editorial feature in Harper’s Bazaar, for my big break.

Instant distraction is in place. I buy a decadent chocolate cake and force 50 birthday cigarettes through the thick icing and raspily rush through the birthday hymn as the thick smog masks my face, my sullen, sulky features.

I am faceless.

A statistic.

I will contribute to and further justify anti-smoking campaigns. Does this bring me solace? I do not have the luxury of time anymore so I do away with silly questions and overly verbose sentences. I am neat, concise, to the point. I lie in my bed with a stack of books to my right and DVDs, the classics, to my left – all of which I intend to devour. Something tells me that I will die while reading Paul Auster’s “Moon Palace”. Intuition does not play games during times like these. I choose to trust it. I will leave “Moon Palace” for last.

I am half a century old and today is my birthday. I am emaciated, perhaps even sickly. I am beautiful. A hardcover book lies open on my chest. The very top of the page, page 214 to be precise, reads, “I felt the taste of mortality in my mouth, and at that moment I understood that I was not going to live forever. It takes a long time to learn that, but when you finally do, everything changes inside you, you can never be the same again.”

As per my request, my body is cremated. My friends then roll my ashes into a cigarette and smoke it in my memory. I am lingering freely in the atmosphere, swirling magnetically in the ether, metamorphosing from the tangible to the intangible. Nothing is lost. Nothing is created. Everything is transformed.

Prune

24 Dec

I never offered to do the dishes.

I never proposed to mop the floor clean of muddy paw prints.

I never warned her of the multi-colored wads of bubble gum lazily stuck beneath the coffee table where my blue-eyed beauty remains, offering me icing smothered cupcakes with the addictive properties of opiates, stimulating your every taste bud in such a way that inspires guilt. I’ve seen devout churchgoers scramble to the nearest confession booth to purge their sins then wind up at her doorstep, slobbering down their clothing, asking for their last sugary hits.

If only the female population between 18 and 30 knew of its pleasures then “Cosmopolitan”, the magazine who has consistently displayed the words “orgasm” and “pleasure” in bold, flashy font on its every cover, would go out of business. Fuck “The Secret”. Fuck “Cosmopolitan”. My blue-eyed beauty has discovered the route to mind-numbing happiness. Apparently it’s in the oven and can only be located on both my thighs and their vicinity where they are taking a long overdue vacation. It’s a requited love-hate relationship. My taste buds love those damn cupcakes in any way, shape or form and they, in turn, have befriended my adipose tissues.

She gave me childhood chubbiness and the verbal reflexes of a corporate lawyer with a multi-million dollar case to win. One finger pointing belligerently and my index and middle finger crossed to tightly that they’re squirming for blood. Outer composure and eloquence. Inner turmoil.

She must wake up to a late-night teenager’s arrival at ungodly hours. She must wake up to impatient door knocks because of “misplaced” house keys that were really too deep and tangled up in my purse to locate after umpteen shots and sips from strangers and friends alike. A repeat offender always assumes a swift escape and relies on next times, of which there are an infinite supply (“Next time, I will not fling my keys at an unsuspecting stranger at a bar because I find his shirt to be a tasteless shade that could only have been inspired by body waste.”)

She must wake up (and now I assume you can relate) a sleep-deprived, morning-loathing corpse using ingenious devices, designed by a good-intentioned yet vengeful mind, featuring the likes of secretly positioned noise-pollutingly loud alarm clocks around my disheveled room or, better yet, arranging for a marching band to perform for me while stomping around my nighttime sanctuary. Curtains drawn. Blinds wide open.

I reach over for a pillow, one for my burning eyes and constricted pupils who wish to stay that way, and a couple to muffle the sound. She smirks as the orchestra goes on. She hid them knowing that I would look for them which would entail my waking up.
“Good mourning,” I mumble so effortlessly that one would assume that I was a self-taught ventriloquist. I owe my morning class attendance to her.

I owe my street smarts and ability to dress up paralyzing, life-invading existentialist fears into a clown-outfit, standing them on their head. To mentally metamorphose. To mock misery and make mischief.

Tomorrow, I might ask her if she needs a hand at washing the dishes, to rest her weathered ones.

I will insist to mop the checkered floor or be considerate enough to return home at elderly-approved hours.

I will drink my milk to the last drop, eat all my broccoli and spinach and/or any other health-infused green slime then kiss her goodnight on her forehead.

How I’ve seen that intention and action avoid one another like a mourner and any reminder of their lost one.

Until then, my blue-eyed beauty will sit at her coffee table, puffing perfect smoke rings and exuding brilliance from every pore.

It would be quite contradictory to assign you a number because of your timelessness, but here’s a happy birthday, you ageless wonder. May I age as unconventionally and awesomely as you.

Mine

16 Nov

Simplicity can be found in complexity,

Beauty can be found in hideousness,

Purity in a prostitute,

Promiscuity in a devout Catholic school girl.

In that same paradoxical sense, one can attempt to delve deeper into what initially appears to be a hallow mine to find a nugget of substance in a hallow cave.

Having found his single nugget, the miner’s entire sense of being becomes pumped with ecstasy (not methylenedioxymethamphetamine for you drug fiends, just sheer happiness) until he discovers that a neighboring miner has an exponentially greater amount of wealth (Reminder: wealth in terms of substance and not the monetary currency that fuels the world’s population with either greed when owned in abundance or misery among others whose deprivation can be blamed on the latter’s phobia of the act of giving.)

A chomping sensation!

A gnawing parasite!

The miner’s nagging sense of inadequacy invades all motor functions which leads to the decay of his mental abilities. He adjusts his gradually fattening rear end on a plastic chair believing it to be a bejeweled throne for the Emperor of passing judgment (and gas – but hey, when you’re the only one occupied with the art of hearsay while everyone else is too busy to notice the whiff then who is there to judge?), a makeshift pedestal destined for the mediocre.

The miner sits on his crumbling chair with his nugget on his shoulder, the paradoxically heavy weight of nothingness on the other as he yells out: “This is my mine! My mine! This mine is mine!” His words reverberate off the walls of the empty cavern, numbing all intellectual capacity and fueling his mediocrity further.

Instead of attempting to climb the echelon and fabricate something out of nothing, he grapples his way up the ladder, using the work-ridden workers’ shoulders for leverage as he gropes and weighs down the workers.

An ethical dilemma: Can you truly blame someone for their own ignorance?

I am not referring to ignorance in the traditional sense of the word. Ignorance can be lack of ambition. Ignorance can be a pompous, holier-than-thou attitude, as you clumsily trot along with your nose so high that everyone can see your swamp-colored mucus lingering in your canals. After you size someone up and point your scepter at that passerby who is oblivious to your existence comes ignorance, that rotting smell that accompanies foul language as the words escape your mouth.

Ignorance comes is a one-size-fits-all outfit.

It surprises me when I am asked about why my writing is so charged with anger.

But how could it not be so when I am being continuously reminded of the universality of stupidity, precisely by those who critique and influence the morbidity in my prose?

I say nothing to them because the hair-pulling, pillow-punching and jaw-clenching levels of frustration that they supply jumpstart my creative monster, propelling my pen to scribble faster than the speed of my thoughts. My sword honed by lethal sarcasm and my artistic high horse trampling over all those who, in their blatant stupidity, unlocked my stallion’s stable door.

Find simplicity in complexity and it shall remain intricate.

Find beauty in hideousness and it shall remain repulsive.

Find purity in a prostitute and she shall remain adulterated.

Find promiscuity in a Catholic school girl and she will remain virginal (until the oppressive reigns are loosened).

Finding enough substance to write an essay about a shell of a person will not make that being significant.

14 Nov

Challenge: Create one just as witty and I’ll let you choose the topic of my next post. Impress me.

Bubble Wrap

7 Nov

Note: Lazy readers, scroll down to the bottom for the rant list.

Doesn’t the air escaping the plastic bubbles, that popping sound whack you with a disturbing sense of nostalgia?

There are few things that are ageless pleasures:

1. Buying stationary items

2. Playing with one’s food

3. Emptying one’s nasal canals (more commonly known as the unspoken of yet universal phenomenon of picking your nose)

4. Popping air bubbles, cursing when you have to re-pop the same capsule twice (inanimate objects and their cunning ways – bum bruises due to a wandering chair that had moved only a few centimeters from its original ass-receiving point. How I pity the neighboring classmate who will shoulder the blame for an act to which his prepubescent mind wasn’t and couldn’t even be bothered with due to his recent discovery as to how babies are made and his obsession with the notion that friction can lead to a living, breathing being. The chair demonstrated an instance of the underrated object conspiracy against mankind. Beware and take necessary precautions.)

If only legal constraints were applicable to our wild-eyed and buck-toothed chemical concoction undeservingly given a name. However, I’ll call it emotions for simplicity’s sake, rather than tiring my sore, pen-gripping fingers and exhausting your reddened pupils, irritated by subhuman periods of time dwindled on memorizing Oprah’s holy testaments while numbing your mass of intermingling spaghetti strands from feeling or even acknowledging anything beyond socially-attenuated, watered-down emotions. If we could apply legal constraints on emotions, then I would have been the first in line, sleeping on the sidewalk outside of court until I’d have received my paper, my restraining order.

It is a right to keep whatever perturbs your well-being kilometers, cities, countries and even continents away. This should hold even truer if the wild-eyed and buck-toothed chemical concoction is within. If your own insides are gnawing at you, then you should have even greater authority as to whether or not you would like the sucker evicted or vandalizing the contents of your cranium.

I want my restraining order.

I want control.

Ever notice how all TV stations are littered with either up-next or soon-to-be-coming movies, sitcoms or whatever you allow to be crammed down your willing throats, either of which feature actors who surely must have been taught by the likes of Joey Tribbiani (Friends reference, anyone?) and script-writers whose scripts’ sole purpose seems to be revealing the shock ending, meant to follow after a rollercoaster of twists, in under five minutes. What keeps you gripped is the excessive use of genetically flawless creatures that give you a severe case of inferiority complex, hence the vast selection of anti-depressant pills and laxatives that you carry around in your clutch at all times.

As my grandmother flipped from one channel to the next, she snapped that we spend more time watching what’s coming than what’s in the now, speaking in her usual I’m-74-but-there’s-an-unruly-teenager-beneath-all-of-this attitude, with an extra serving of feistiness and a definite touch of permanent rebellion.

Relationships, or temporary delusions, exhibit pronounced psychopathic tendencies (considering that manipulation and deceit are characteristic of that disorder).

Even the most rational welcome this mentally disturbed repeat offender into their homes. They let it redecorate their humble abodes to its liking, like moving your favorite couch from its permanent spot and repainting your walls, each room in a different fluorescent color. And, as soon as you become accustomed to the change, as soon as you look around and think to your disillusioned mind that “Yes! What a wonderful place this turned out to be! Why, it’s the best of all possible houses!”, the psychopath defecates on your white furniture, smears shit on your new wallpaper, breaks your expensive china, stabs the family dog with a steak knife, makes sure the dog is half alive to maximize the pain, grills it, douses every square inch of the house with gasoline, tosses a lit match, locks every possible exit then swallows the key so that the only answer is within it, inside that murderous creature.

Now that you have been explicitly warned about this never-to-do-well stranger, dare not open the door and if you unwisely do, do not let it refurbish your perfectly acceptable flat. Call the cops and the first one to finish his doughnut will come rushing over. But by then, the culprit would’ve already escaped. The essence of this diatribe is for you to leave it locked out in the cold, whimpering on your doorstep as it begs you to turn the knob and let it in. But you should not. Ever.

Who am I kidding? You will, time and time again. And so will I (contrary to everything my wishfully thinking mind professes full-heartedly.) Our inner hedonists conquer all.

Relationships require forethought, pondering future plans, wondering whether your child will be the image of perfection that you have been always told to be, with brimming white teeth, a diploma with distinction in one hand and, on the other, a presentable young lady with impeccable manners, who would not open their fridge to steal the jar of hazelnut spread or, god forbid, curse or allow alcohol to swim freely through her bloodstream. A girl just as example-worthy as their son, the doctor, the lawyer, the space rocket engineer.

Unless your tongue is shoved down your saliva-swapping partner’s throat, relationships are very much like watching the previews. What’s to come? Should I care? But you can’t but feel compelled to. I try to justify this for my sake, for mankind’s sake. The quintessential example: A child puts its hand on a hot stove, not knowing any better. He gets burned and doesn’t repeat it. Simple logic. If only it was as easily applicable to real life, when something beautiful is peering into your empty core, stringing words that will lose meaning altogether yet pronounced with conviction.

After all, human beings, interesting creature that we are, assume that our planet is the center of the Milky Way, which just so happens to be the center of all galaxies in space. This is why you will believe anything you are told, so long as it’s a compliment which is why a psychopath, a could-be award-winning liar and ego-stroker, are so easily let in. Nostalgia is about finding yourself in a multiple-personality paradox, where you coexist in different space-time dimensions at once.

The past dimensions often intermingle and take a masochistic kick in fabricating new ones. Naturally, and to anyone with an inkling of knowledge of the English language (which I assume you have since you’ve agreed to follow me down this winding path which leads to another path, which leads to another one, and another one… let’s call it a never-ending philosophical maze that leads to nowhere in particular – have I thwarted your interest yet? Fantastic.), nostalgia means to ponder the past.

American TV series typically show a 30-second mash up of as many scenes as possible involving violence, promiscuity, illegal substance abuse or a combination of all three occurring simultaneously, if possible. “Previously on so and so…”

Nostalgia is a criminal offender of these same charges, enticing you to visit the past, deluding you into believing that by over-analyzing things long gone can be altered in a dimension that even the man with a lump on his brain could not discover how to revisit. To a stubborn place that is stuck in its old ways the same way that humanity has forever been infatuated with infatuation.

Bubble wrap is instantly entertaining. It exists in the now. Each bubble bursting fuels your excitement, pushes you to achieve ambitious goals (i.e. the ultimate challenge of popping them all in one sitting). It may induce nostalgia but this shouldn’t sadden you because bubble popping is a repeatable act, unlike standing on the very edge of the Titanic with an unnaturally attractive man, thinking back on it at the end of your days, pining that for point in time again – minus the conspiring iceberg and Jack’s frozen body, floating in the ocean. (“If that could be edited and rewritten, that would be great.” Rose to the powers that be.)

Even better, you can protectively wrap it around your gradually decaying flesh, skin and bones and offer the past, present and future a pair of raised and mischievous middle fingers. And stand on the highest rooftop in the country with a megaphone in hand, exchanging your mouth with a fully loaded machine gun and your sugarcoated opinions for piercing bullets.

This is a non-exhaustive list of possibilities:

– Tell someone that the baby in the picture is not cute, and that you couldn’t even tell its gender.

– Tell your parents that you are just like all those teenagers that they tell you to be wary of, that you don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt any more than a serial killer on parole claiming to have changed his ways.

– Tell Santa Clause that his gifts were shit and that he should slay his reindeers for their meat (quite a delicacy is Scandinavian countries) and get a car instead. He needs change his outdated look. Maybe get a trim and go on the Atkin’s. He’s immortal so if he doesn’t like his new look, he has several lifetimes to put on the weight again and grow his damned beard that we are all so sick of.

– Tell the mainstream music industry that you’ve heard enough about pimps, bitches, hoes and their genitalia. We are all very much aware of the human anatomy, thank you very much, and do not wish to learn about their favorite position and whether they have engaged in sexual activities with many bitches and/or hoes at once.

– Tell the anti-smoking campaigns that their ads make you stressed which, in turn, makes you crave another cigarette. And that maybe they would stop feeling so frustrated if they had one, too.

– Tell the theists that threatening you with a hell that you do not believe in is ineffective and simpleminded, at best.

– Tell the poor that if they wish for god to bless you with happiness and good fortune (that is, if he is able to) then why don’t they wish it upon themselves? Why hasn’t he intervened yet? And that if you give them 1,000 LL, not to give you the look of doom for not emptying the contents of your wallet. Human altruism is only available in a limited supply (bees, on the other hand, will risk their lives for their colony.)

– Tell public toilets and their incompetent staff that the next time you will have to drip-dry when their toilet paper runs out, you will inflict an incurable case of crabs, herpes and every conceivable STD on them. Or they can simply use the mounds of extra cash they rob from their customers due to their grossly overpriced goods by sparing the tiniest fraction – let’s say 0.01% of their profit – to actually buying a few more rolls.

– Tell self-proclaimed artists that the purpose of art is to be meaningful, beautiful or both but not a means to higher yourself on the social echelon to be showered with mostly likely insincere compliments. Just because your family and either tasteless or cowardly friends say that you’re awesome, it doesn’t mean that you are. Faux art can be painful for the eyes and ears at times. Consider your abstinence from the world of art a greatly appreciated favor to society.

– Tell Cupid to take off his blindfold because indiscriminately shooting his arrows is cruel, that he is not allowed to aim his poisoned darts at one person and not the other. It’s either both or neither, or else his weapon will be confiscated for disregarding official orders. Generally, that he should stop being a sadist and inconsiderate fool who is drunk on power.

– Tell nostalgia to stop assuming the role of scriptwriter and art director of the countless years belonging to its realm. Why must you embellish everything in retrospect, rearrange words and decide which moments are permitted to stay and which are to vanish, only to be reduced to a state of oblivion?

Pretentious bubbles have been abruptly burst. Now you can at last unravel yourself from the bubble wrap and rupture each and every air pocket.

Pop!

Toothbrush

19 Oct

This is mostly based on a true story. I haven’t included any names for privacy.

Note: Although this is written in the first person, the speaker is a teenage boy and not me.

My life metamorphosed in only a matter of moments. The duration required for me to answer the door only to discover a fluorescent-blonde vagabond standing at the threshold – and reverted back to its original, unremarkable state in approximately the same duration – the time it took for her to pack her few worldly possessions in the dead of the night, and to tiptoe her way out of my life leaving her frayed toothbrush on my bed stand as well as a lock of her unmistakable hair – an emblem of her insanity. She probably has a missing patch of hair to complement her bob cut as she fearlessly parades around the world, which she dubs her private playground where she would permit other, more sane children to play, stumble and fracture a few bones.

A rapid-fire succession of rain hammers onto my house, rather my humdrum, single-bedroom, moss-covered, closet-sized hole in a crumbling wall, and threatened to submerge the entire city of Leeds.

The weather. The loneliness. My father. The disaster that is my existence on this excuse for a habitable celestial body.

But most of all, my father.

The cold barrel teased the outlines of my lips. An act of selfishness and selflessness. Of cowardice and courage. A bundle of contradictions. What better than to complete a deed, my very last to be more precise, in a fashion that is ever so compatible with me?

My index jabs the trigger in a swift, no-turning-back motion, my flustered mind not knowing what to expect. Was it going to be an ear-piercing blast, the last I’d ever hear, as my skull is shattered then scattered in a scarlet red bath, staining the walls and my cheap Swedish furniture? Or would my soul decide to gracefully excuse itself before the pain struck?

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Someone is pounding at the door.

My eyes unsquint, wondering if Satan himself had resorted to using my front porch to deport me to the damndest circle of hell, to my utter bliss for having escaped an eternity of lingering with souls who believe in abstinence and the sanctity of organized religion. The prospect of being strapped onto a chair and made to watch “Days of Our Lives” on re-run for days on end sounds more enjoyable.

I drag my feet to the door with the nuzzle of my shotgun trailing behind, leaving a crooked trail on my stained, beige carpet. I hope not to discover a troop of grinning, brimming, wing-sporting and halo-bearing ne’er-do-wells, ready to throw a net over this pile of flesh and bones and abduct me to the land where I will be made to linger with souls who believe in abstinence and the sanctity of organized religion. Please let it not be a throng of glitter-defecating fairies and angels.

At the threshold of my door stood an odd creature with flawless features but with an obviously flawed psyche and past to contradict it. Another bundle of contradictions. Her fluorescent head of yellow hair floated in a cloud of cigar smoke. She clutched onto a toothbrush and a crumpled up pair of lacy underwear.

“I was told I could stay with you. You know, until things become less desperate.”

No, I didn’t know. Who had claimed such an absurd thing? Until what becomes less desperate? Her plight or mine?

I think of her hostile demeanor and magnetic air of eccentricity. How I crave spontaneity. How naively I endorse serendipity. My head, which debatably houses anything but a rational, functional mind, bobs up in vigorous approval. She does not give my shotgun a second glance and skips into my flat like a nine-year-old on a sugar rush. Who knows where she’d been or what she’d seen. I certainly don’t. I haven’t even learned her name and yet she has already made herself at home, bruised legs propped up on my splintered, tabloid-trash covered coffee table as she picks her favorite nuts out of my bowl.

That night, under the pouring rain, we played Scrabble, which she beat me at, and then several rounds of video games, all of which I am ashamed to admit she beat me at too. An androgynous paradox. My bruised ego limps off and licks its wounds in some obscure corner while she and I conclude the evening by unbuttoning each others’ clothes, eventually ripping them off out of mere frustration and uncontainable arousal, the type of sexual pangs that hit you at the threshold of puberty, wet panties and protruding boners abound. She shows me quirky positions that require some level of acrobatic expertise and I, a subtler approach to the act of lovemaking. The coffee table seems to be attracting piles of order-in left-overs and cellophane boxes but we were too occupied being self-inflicted slaves to our appetites to notice.

Looking into her eyes was a daunting experience. It was just like staring down the barrel of a shotgun. That unflinching desire to pull the trigger yet that paralyzing, unshakable fear that clasps onto your quivering thighs and that whispers in your ear to look away from the pleading barrel. From her cold, iron eyes.

She calls my University and, in her infallible impression of a bored, 40-year-old, stay-at-home, life-loathing mother who wished she wasn’t any of the above, claimed that I was sick with a serious case of Obediphobia and would not be able to resume my ingestion by enema of spewed facts, only 10% of which my brain will retain on a good day. Fact.

The bored, 40-year-old, life-loathing, cubicle-mongering, bubblegum-masticating secretary who wished she wasn’t any of the above monotonously thanked us very much for calling and wished us a sunny day, punctuated with chirping robins, although her tone indicated that she hoped that the sun would scorch our skins and the robins would shit on our blouses. Each of her bubbles stick onto the germ-infested receiver of the public phone, last used by a squirmy teenage boy with herpes. She shut the line before she could hear our outburst of giggles.

Obediphobia. The fear of authority.

She showed me her wrist scars.

I told to her what it was like to have the barrel of a shotgun pressed against the contours of my lips.

She left one day, in the dead of night. I never found out her name neither her reason for entering or leaving my life. And now I am left with a lock of fluorescent blonde hair, a toothbrush and memories that will someday be dissipate into thin air.