Cry for help or dada?

I laughed too much at this image. Like… there are times when I feel helpless as a young American in an economy that doesn’t seem to want to work with me the way it worked with my grandparents and parents; and there are times when I feel like it’s all one big joke that an entire generation is playing on their children.
 
But this really sums it up. We, and I mean my generation, retreat from the harsh reality that the world isn’t going to help us and that we can’t really even help ourselves by use of humor.
 
And it’s true: half of what makes me laugh is a thinly veiled cry for help from a system, an upper class, a world that just doesn’t care. The other half is a form of dadaism that even old school original dada would flinch to see: self-depreciating, self-loathing, and defensive self-aggrandizing humor on ourselves because the truth hurts too damn much.
 
I feel like looking on the bright side for a change.

Student Debt

I mostly ignore my student debt.
 
That’s not the most humble or intelligent statement to make, but it’s the simple truth. I have in excess of $30.000 in debt that I took on while studying and I have next to no hope, plan, or windfall that’s going to make it go away any time soon, if at all during my lifetime. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, broker; I have no idea how to run a business or make big money. I don’t have a concrete contribution to the current power structure where money talks and ownership louder.
 
I’m an artist in a nation that is trying to defund it’s own national arts programs.
 
That said, I pay into my debt a little each month. Granted, it’s the smallest payment I can make given my income; but it’s better than letting it go to collection (who from experience, are much less understanding than the very nice people at the DoE). I make a call once a year, let the department of education know my income and work out an income based plan so I continue paying off what I went and did: gamble my future for four years of academia.
 
But all is not lost.
 
I’m working an hourly with a set schedule. I’m recording and editing a podcast. I write books and poetry. I have a movie in early pre-production. I’m a UX designer for a small software developer. I co-own and invested a good chunk of money into an online business. I have so many things that I want to do and so many things that I am doing.
 
I think Hank Green said that we’re the “side hustle generation.” Everyone works more than one job; everyone does something on the side to make rent. And it’s true. We’re not my dad’s generation. None of us, with some edge-case exceptions, are doing anywhere near as well as our fathers. But we’re still here, and we’re working so that, maybe, we can wipe away the mess we were born to and do a little better for the next generation.
 
I don’t think any one person has the answers. It’s going to take an effort on the scale of the New Deal to bring my generation into a position where we can hold our heads high when considering the future. I just hope we can get up off our collective knees when the cusp arrives.
-M

The Things That Keep You Up At Night

No one ever died from a restless night that had someone to spend it with. That said, I don’t have any company on this restless night, but I doubt it’ll kill me. I tossed and turned for about two hours before giving up, going to the bathroom, and sitting down to vomit textually onto my website.

I have to wonder: does keeping an honest, opinionated blog keep me from getting jobs? I have to wonder: just how many employers take the time to Google my name, see this site, and go, “Good Lord, get me away from this human being right this moment!”

But that’s not what’s keeping me up. No. What’s keeping me up is the possibility of tomorrow and events long past yesterday.

Tomorrow, I have a few things to do. For one, I applied for an internship having to do with photography to which I must return a call from yesterday. I’m worried about this for a couple reasons. First, it’s unpaid; so without an income near by on top of the unpaid work, I can’t realistically take the position without begging a bed and food from someone. That’s unrealistic. Second, it’s near Orlando. So I’d have to not only put in my notice for my current job (for which I seem to be down to less than 20 hours a week anyway), but I’d have to find work, a room to rent, and balance the schedule for both (or more) jobs before having any of them. This kept my mind occupied on and off for the last couple hours.

I came up with a solution that I dislike. It involved borrowing money from my father, imposing on a very good friend for who-knows how long, and a series of dishonorable actions that could damage my relationships with other people. So that’s out.

But while tomorrow frets me a little, it’s yesterday that bothers me now. It bothers me that I have a growing list of events, speeches, discussions, shows, and other things that I was never prepared for and passed by the skin of my teeth. I won’t list them now if only because it would be beating the dead horse after it has turned to bones, but let it be said that there are two kinds of these events I held: the ones that were successful because I got lucky, and the ones that worked out because I had help.

I know I beat on the idea of LiveJournal a lot here (really, just search LiveJournal here and see what comes up), but I really do treat my blog that way. It’s a dumping ground where I don’t have to deal with trolls, echo-chambers, or other denizens of the internet. It’s a corner where my thoughts can be dropped and left like an abandoned TARDIS on a street corner; no one can open it, no one will even notice it. And that’s good. They aren’t words that need defending from trolls or anons, and aren’t words that I need to hear reinforced to strengthen my confirmation bias.\

They just are.

-M

 

1 February 2001, 0836

In the early days of the twenty-first century, a self-proclaimed time traveler from the year 2036 arrived online. As the title of this essay suggests, what I’ve chosen to discuss today pertains to John Titor’s post for 1 February 2001, 0836 in the morning.

On responding to earlier posts by other people, Titor says that his casual reference to the year 2008 “was a general date by which time everyone will realize the world they thought they were living in was over.”

He goes on to describe events as he learned or experienced them on his worldline (his term for the timeline he experienced as the natural timeline).

“The civil war in the United States will start in 2004. I would describe it as having a Waco type event every month that steadily gets worse. The conflict will consume everyone in the US by 2012 and end in 2015 with a very short WWIII.”

As should be clear to anyone who experienced this worldline, there was no civil war in America in 2004, and no global conflict that resulted in a short-lived world war.

However, one could argue that America has been experiencing “Waco type event[s]” with frighteningly increasing frequency over the past decade or so.

For the sake of argument, I’ll point out events in broad categories. America has faced domestic terrorist acts such as bombings like that carried out in Boston in 2013 and an unforgiving and brutal wave of school shootings over the past several years; acts of slaughter such as those in Aurora, Colorado and Orlando, Florida taken against innocent people, a systemic institutional racism shown in the police-related shooting deaths of numerous young black people in this country, and a decline in wealth equality resulting in mounting discontent by many in the population complete with another push for polarization of political philosophy.

I need to take a breath after that. We’ve had a busy couple of decades since the century turned over.

This series of events could be the “Waco type” events Titor described, but that have not yet resulted in a formal civil war. Perhaps we’re already seeing some of what such a war would be in this nation. Some parts are fought by protestors in the streets; some by young people looking for work in Washington; some by desk mice at their keyboards. But I do hope that the time traveler’s future never comes to pass.

The last thing we need is to give the current administration a real reason to suppress people further.

-M

This was funny a year ago…

There are a lot of great jokes that I used to subscribe to. Last year, it was a joke that Donald Trump could be president of America. 

As of today, he’s invented a scapegoating term: “alt-left,” egged a rogue nuclear power on with pedantic threats of violence via Twitter, blamed a hard working female politician for most of his inadequacies, and made his position on Nazism clear: he seems to condone it because agreeing with Nazis is somehow OK for a sitting US President now. 

I have a bumper sticker on my car. It reads “Nehemiah Scudder for President.” 

When I put it on the car, it was a joke. It refers to a fictional president of America who was elected by only 29 percent of the popular vote (clearly abusing the electoral college), and who turned the nation into a religious dictatorship that lasted well into the 22nd century. 

A year ago, that was funny. Today, it’s real. 

Let me be clear. I own my hypocrisy. I believe in every American right to freedom of speech. But at the same time, I’d see every Nazi flag waving, goosesteeping Hitlerite cut down; every neo-Nazi stripped of citizenship, every white supremacist given what they deserve: a swift kick in the ass and a peek at what it’s like to be hated so strongly that you can feel it in your bones. 

But maybe I’m going too far. Maybe I’m not going far enough. Do we have the right as human beings to condemn a group for their own anti social, violent behavior? Do I have the right to wish harm on people who would likely, if given the power, harm my friends for being different?

But then again, we all know what to do with Nazis. We’d be un-American if we didn’t know what to do. We beat the fascist fucks once, we can do it again. 

-M

LIES

An open letter to the person driving around in my hometown with a bastardized NASA sticker reading “LIES.”

I support the first amendment of the US constitution. At its heart, it promises that the government will never infringe on your right to express yourself at all. That doesn’t promise you an audience, so that’s why I’m here. I find your sticker offensive.

 

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I nicked this off RedBubble as visual aid. Please don’t go looking for it. Don’t give the slug who made this any more traffic. 

You, mystery driver who hit a curb leaving a fast-food joint, are an idiot. Well… maybe you’re half way decent at other things, but between your terrible choice in what to believe and the sticker opposite this one reading “I took the red pill,” I can’t really come to a clearer judgment.

That said, I demand that you surrender any and all technologies you consider part of the conspiracy of lies perpetrated by NASA. A partial list follows:

  • Early advances in medicine; including vascular bypass operations
  • Scratch-resistant eyeglass lenses
  • Deicing devices used on airliners
  • Advances in traction for high-speed roads
  • Firefighting tools such as fire-retardant paint
  • The ability to freeze-dry food
  • Mobile phone cameras (more specifically, the sensor inside the camera)
  • Solar cell technology
  • Real-time corrections to errors in GPS signals and information

Sincerely,
Michael Johnpoll

 

Writing Badly

Robert Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast is a mess of references to other novels, pulp fiction and, generally, trashy in the worst ways. But it’s a gem of how to write a story around tropes and conventions while maintaining that that is exactly the purpose for which it was created.

That said, I’m sitting here in my grandfather’s easy chair pulled up to my desk, keyboard in my lap and mouse on the armrest and I’m trying to duplicate what made Number of the Beast so tastelessly great. Is it the blatant sexism, the out-of-author-character political opinions, that the characters visit the Land of Oz and know that it’s as fictional to them as any other piece of literature? Who can say?

All I know is that it’s something to think about and, maybe, write a more extensive essay on some day.

Until next time,

M

This Is My Life And It’s Ending One Minute At A Time

I remember a few years ago, I shared a comment on Facebook that got a couple people worried. I quoted Fight Club (more like paraphrased) in saying “This is my life and it’s ending one minute at a time.” Now, at least one person either misread that or read it half asleep, because next thing I know the post and my phone are blowing up because someone read it as “This is my life and it’s ending in one minute.”

Needless to say, this isn’t going to be one of those posts. But that said, if I bite the big one, sing fun songs at my funeral. My current picks include When You’re Evil, Fine Again, In My Mind, Shinji Ikari, and Panic Station. That’s a good funeral playlist for me. Hmm… Ride on Shooting Star, 1996, All My Best Friends Are Metalheads, Ready Steady Go, Super Driver and Still Alive (for the irony). Maybe toss in a little something everyone can sing along with (Always Look On The Bright Side comes to mind) and we’ve got a party!

No, this post is more about what I’d like to do in a perfect world.

I’m fed up with my life. February kind of made up my mind for me in that regard. Eight days of work without a day off followed by three days to recover and start over (four days this time). I do work at my job I’m not as familiar with as my usual work and my manager gives me a tongue-lashing for not getting it quite right. Put in a ten hour day because we’re understaffed and the work wouldn’t get done otherwise, get yelled at because I worked outside my set hours. Try to take time off I need and get the run-around. This is what really got me.

So I’m a cook. The established protocol for getting time off is to turn in the paperwork to the head chef, who turns it over to the manager (who makes the schedule) for approval or denial. I do so, turning in three requests at once at varying times over the next three months. One is approved, one is too far out, and one is turned down. So, undismayed, I ask the manager (who’s responsibility it is to manage such things) to consider granting my request. I figure the worst thing is she can say no to my face rather than passing it back down the chain through the chef.

No. I’m given the run-around. I’m blandly told that it’s the chef who approves or denies such things and to talk to him instead.

Now, I’m not above thinking we’ve got a simple misunderstanding here. But this is the same manager who insists my probe thermometer be calibrated to zero degrees Fahrenheit at room temperature and who called me a liar no less than three times over a question of how many salads I made two weeks ago on a Sunday; so I’m not sure how much stock I put into her words.

Point is, and call me an indolent kid all you want on this, I can’t work for someone who doesn’t even give me the benefit of believing my answer on a simple question of the number of salads I made. I can’t work for someone who can’t be bothered to respect her subordinates. It’s not reasonable.

I might quit my job tomorrow. Haven’t really decided yet. I spent just about all the time since I got home from work this evening planning my next few months after quitting.

  • Teach myself Final Cut X
  • Make a short movie
  • Build up my editing portfolio again
  • Move on to the next major edit of my book (fiction)
  • Outline my next book (a political memoir)
  • Make pretty pictures

It’ll be exciting to dedicate a good amount of time to my art for a change. Who knows what tomorrow might bring. The bottom line is that I’m not happy with my life and I need to change something before I fall into madness or sorrow.

Until next time,

-M

Re: Ideals to live by… my commandments and other such…

Today’s post is something of a return to or a response to my earlier post. 

I recently re-read most of Robert Heinlein’s future history (at least the novels and a few short stories). The last book in that particular line covers the life of Maureen Johnson Long, mother to the oldest member of the human race, senior of the Howard families, Lazarus Long, et al. Part of her earliest years included her and her father coming up with their own version of the ten commandments to live by; and I wanted to take a stab at it (again). So here goes.

Using the list from my other post, I’ll go in order with the traditional ones, then go over mine.

The first five are solely for the use and profit of the priests and other authority figures, so they’re right out. The bit about not killing makes sense. The rest is legal non-sense.

From the top:

  • Do not harm other people unnecessarily. But it is sometimes necessary.
  • You are responsible for yourself, so don’t act carelessly.
  • Guilt is for people who don’t feel fully responsible for their actions.
  • Don’t get caught unless you mean to.
  • When times are worst, smile and move on.