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Amigos

One time I had this friend Shannon. Shannon was a strong as fuck, confident woman who did not so much as hesitate to tell me exactly how she felt in any given moment. That included feeling like telling me she didn’t want to tell me how she was feeling. Still with me?

Shannon really liked me. Not like that, she was with my good friend at the time. I mean she laughed hard when I got going and she wanted me around all the time to do just that. I love making people laugh and I loved that it was so easy to set her off. Us laughing all the time forged a pretty strong friendship right away and whether I was ready to or not I was beginning to have a real relationship with someone.

If I said something that offended her (which I did in just about every interaction we had), she would let me know immediately. She would absolutely call me out on intensely personal issues that I had never even talked to her about. I was speechless half the time because she was so spot on. Sometimes she was off the mark but usually she was right. She recognized bullshit behavior and the typical places where it comes from, and would not tolerate it in her presence. It was sink or swim with this friendship. There is no middle ground with someone who takes care of their shit. You’re in or you’re out.

Shannon was just an exceptional human being. I admired her clarity and resolve to hash shit out if there was anything blocking the way of awesomeness and fun. She wasn’t seeking conflict, she was heading it off at the pass. It worked too. Fun times were really fun because I valued our friendship. I recognized immediately that this was a person worth showing up and putting time into. I respected her and I wanted to learn a thing or two from her. I was down.

It was work. It was work for sure. I found myself indignant, resentful, and bullheadedly stubborn when we reached an impasse. There were some things that I just could not accept for myself and we’re both strong people when we speak with conviction. We had many conversations that revolved around the theme of “Okay that’s what you said, but this is what I heard.” For better or worse, right or wrong, she felt how she felt and it was important to her that as her friend I respected that. It wasn’t okay for me to tell her she shouldn’t feel a certain way.

Basically she wanted to feel safe. To her that meant not feeling a hint of judgement. Not even a fucking sliver. She wanted you to look at her pain and respect it instead of trying to immediately fix it because it made you uncomfortable otherwise. She gladly volunteered exactly what she needed from people on the occasion she was going through something, and a friend to her was someone who listened. She was basically blowing my mind. I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience in my town or on the same planet; where I come from you just don’t talk about painful, emotional shit.

Suck it up. Chin up. Stop crying. Stop complaining. Be grateful for what you have. It could be worse. You’re making me uncomfortable. Take it outside. Don’t bring it around the family. Absolutely never bring it out on the schoolyard. We all feel like this. You’re no different. You’re not special and you don’t get a pass on life because you’re having a shitty day. Be strong. You’re going to be fine. There’s ups and downs. Just roll with it. Get back on your feet. It’s nothing. 

The fundamental problem with all these responses to a time of extreme emotion is that it immediately creates distance. It brings shame to emotions like sadness and fear. Shannon did a good job of explaining that to me even if her delivery was a bit abrasive at times. She broke it down in a way that was in no way unclear and she was patient as fuck about it considering how long it takes me to understand things. Although we’re not in contact these days, I appreciate how much enthusiasm both her and I had for that friendship. It makes you feel loved and connected and all that shit AND…it’s rare. Real rare.

Shannon and I both had been through heavy shit around abuse, and I think that’s why we got along so well. We both had found ourselves in a place where it was either learn to live in spite of your memories or fucking crumble into pieces and die alone. The first option takes a lot of work for those of us that have experienced the uglier side of people, particularly at a young age, but that’s just our process. I stopped looking at horribly painful, fucked up emotional shit as taboo. It became casual conversation for me to discuss my insecurities knowing that it’s all good because I have friends. I like to surround myself with people that are down for that journey as well. 

"We’re on Our Way" by Radical Face

Show your hands if you’re leaving your coat of paint

If you’re bolted to heavy things like anchors hidden somewhere ‘neath your skin

Or if your head’s just an empty box

If your heart has become spare parts

If your days are down to something you must bear

No, it seems you’re a lot like me

You dug yourself into places you never thought you would be

Don’t you fret and don’t you mind

The only constant is changing

You never know what you’ll find

Yeah, tomorrow I might wake up nice and clean

I might believe the things I said I didn’t mean

This might turn and wind up just the way we dreamed

and I might become the things I swore I’d always be

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind,
I can never leave the past behind,
I can see no way, I can see no way,
I’m always dragging that horse around,
And our love is pastured such a mournful sound,
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground,
So I like to keep my issues strong,
But it’s always darkest before the dawn,
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out,
Ooh woaaaah!
Florence + The Machine

things i thought to myself in SF this weekend. by “to myself” i mean that i’m not telling anyone how to live their life. i like to be clear. cause it makes meh feel good.

Love’s a lot easier when you take the time to consider why someone else does the things they do. Especially things that for whatever reason just piss you off. It’s tricky. It requires you to fuck off everything you know and to imagine what life is like through their eyes. All their memories of their entire life leading up to that particular moment, affecting the way they think and feel and process and speak and move. You will always fuck this up no matter what, but that’s okay because it’s still fun to imagine those things. 

Getting back to how doing this can help you love someone, it’s basically stupid as fuck to think that you know a god damn thing about anyone. Ever. Unless they show you and you’re open to what they have to say. Even then you’re only seeing a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of who they are. It’s also only what they’re choosing to show you in that particular moment. It also has to work it’s way past your own ego which carries along with it assumptions and condescension when it gets out of check. 

And women. Fucking beautiful women. How the fuck are you supposed to think clearly in the first place when you’re around her and she’s giving you attention and shit? Ain’t superficial or misogynistic. A beautiful woman is one who owns it whatever that it may be. Everything else is a bonus. Fwiggahlkashdfkh. Whatever beautiful is to anyone affects them in the same way.

Like when she’s staring at you and smiling and touching your face and shit and you refuse to break eye contact. Even when that gnawing ass feeling kicks in in your stomach and you want nothing more than to look away, you just sit there and stare back. When you’re happy as shit in your life and you just don’t really think obsessively on anything, you just want to smile right back. And god damn does it feel good to do that with conviction.

In any case, everything else that influences how you treat them comes from what you choose to interpret and/or what you choose to believe. The choice part. Pretty important. And when you love someone. Just smitten as shit. You have only a couple of options. You can project a bunch of bullshit onto them that is completely absent of any context or actual truth. Zero truth. None in moments like that. Or you can choose to try something different.

You can choose to accept that you have no fucking clue why they do the things they do sometimes. At the same time you can show them (at every opportunity you have because why the fuck not) that you respect them unconditionally and would never belittle how they choose to get through life on their own terms. When you really god damn mean it, you can tell them that you love them. You just love the shit out of them and you’re grateful as balls that they came into your life and affected you deeply.

All that thought on one person. When you get to mind-blowing is when you try to practice this kind of acceptance with each and every person you encounter in your life. Ever. You refuse to make a definitive judgement about them without them giving you insight first. You’ll fail hard at times. It’s never perfect. It’s a process. It’s fun as shit. You’ll look and feel like an asshole sometimes when you’re not. It’s challenging. It requires focus and it makes you strong as fuck.

When you make the choice to assume that everyone else is on some level as fucked up and hurt as you are about some things that have happened in their lives, and that it’s okay to feel like that sometimes, it just gets a little easier. When you experience the sort of calm that comes with keeping your side of the street clean, you don’t feel obligated to show up and shower everyone you love in your life with appreciation and respect. You just want to because it feels fucking good to. And you’re not what some routinely confuse with emo: disingenuous. You’re just happy as shit for the most part.

change and stuff

(Listening to Kid Cudi “Man on the Moon Volume 1” and the OST to “The Vicious Kind”)

I’ve been extremely reluctant to start something like this publicly. It really doesn’t add up when you consider the fact that I’ve been viewed on the internet in video form somewhere in the area of 100-200,000,000 times. I’ll say that it doesn’t add up without context, but if transparency is what you guys connect with and is what provides me with a nice dose of release then fuck it. Let’s do this.

It can be confusing because I don’t think twice about placing my image on the internet for anyone to see, but the idea of a personal blog made me unsettled. But the number of people that know who I am compared to the number of people I actually have the time to get to know is on a level so drastically different that my brain can’t even touch it. So I just don’t think about it all that often. There’s that part. It also makes sense for a reason that we’ll close up this discussion with, but I’m saving that for the payoff.

I know the whole “you see me but you don’t really seeeeee me” shit is so played out at this point, but fuck it.

I’m not saying I haven’t indulged a little bit in the ego full body massage with a happy ending that is the approval and validation you can get from being a youtube dude. Everybody does that shit at some point. Some more than others. I’ve had times where I ran off that fuel exclusively, and whenever a ripple occurred that threatened my stability it would shake me to my very core.

But make no mistake about it guys, as much as I interact with as many people as I can (both in an online space and irl), this is a one way conversation. To indulge too much in validation that comes from something so one sided is to feed a side of you that can only be known as ego. This ego-driven approach is shallow and will never have a lasting positive effect. Matter of fact it can be compared to addiction in a sense that trying to enjoy it beyond it’s intended lifespan will only lead to alienation. When you are first “found,” it’s supposed to feel magical. But magical moments like those are only magical because they’re so rare, living in it or constantly trying to recreate it is on par with dangling a carrot in front of a donkey’s face.

Half you guys are expecting this story to end in crack addiction and male prostitution. It has a good ending, hang in there. I actually didn’t even mean to hit on dark stuff, but it’s an essential part of the story. Tonight we’re not going to talk about the dark stuff anymore. Tonight I found myself thinking about how I always wanted to make people laugh, so I put on some headphones and started writing what you’re reading right now. And I think we’ll just work off that for now.

As a kid, you can wield the skill of laughter like a god damn samurai weapon in order to manipulate people to do what you want them to do. That’s what kids do. They do it because they can get away with it because kids are awesome. It sounds phenomenal, but most of the time at that age all you usually got was a stick of candy or something. You can’t manipulate too much when a gigantic human being tells you when to sleep, wake up, eat, and sleep again. However, as an adult the ability to make someone laugh can make life substantially easier as well. It can also keep you at arms length from the rest of the world but like I said, no dark stuff tonight.

That childish sense of humor has served me well so far, I don’t know what else I could have asked for with regards to opportunity. It got me my job, a job where exploring that playful side is the service I provide both for myself and for you guys, but somewhere along the line I missed the memo that at some point you need to turn that side off and decompress for a minute. And with waiting tables before and in the job I have now, jesterlike behavior is rewarded routinely. In day to day life it turns out it’s actually very taboo to make a rape joke.

I’m writing all of this down right now because I have a story that I feel I can finally articulate, and I think this story is pretty cool. I realized recently that at some point everybody has to make the actual effort to grow up, and here I am at the ripe age of 28 teaching myself how to communicate with people for the second time in my life. I’m just stacking one lesson on top of the other and it gets a little easier every day. Most people ideally learn this around the age of 16, but that just wasn’t my path and I’m quite certain there are literally millions of people that feel similarly.

Sounds like a shitty deal, I can see how some could make the “shut the fuck up emo kid” argument but I’m not feeling any of the emotions that are typically linked with that word. I don’t feel anxious, or afraid, jealous, closed-off, unprepared, confused, really fucking confused, spiteful, hurtful, angry, enraged, terrified, disengaged, abandoned, lonely, confident, arrogant, and tragically cynical. I don’t feel any of those things tonight and I can say I’m grinning as I write this. I’m grinning because my life is a fucking cliche’ dispensary and it’s funny as fuck to me, but I’ve been told by many people that when I talk about stuff it makes their day better and at you cannot go wrong with that. That and I love attention.

That’s easily my bottom line when it comes to this thing. That and the fact that I love socializing. I will never run out of observations or questions. In my adult life, the trick is to learn how to word these things in a way that doesn’t offend. I don’t mean offend in the “fuck” sense, I mean offend in the “condescending prick” sense. That’s a conundrum when I feel strongly about things in general because it’s easy to slip into a place of intolerance. We both can’t be right and I’m sure as shit not backing down. What’s considered innocent for a child is regarded as self-centered for an adult, and with good reason.

And being older fucking sucks when I weigh it in next to my childhood (while I’m in bad headspace). That’s why adults advise you leaning on the side of ominously warning you high school graduates about how “hard life can get and you have to appreciate the things you have now.” They’re saying their life fucking blows dick compared to the freedom they had in high school, and they’re not the only ones. 

You have to worry about shit. You have to worry about shit all the time. If you don’t, you’ll fucking explode or something. I’m not sure the lore behind that but most people I know and have ever known could easily worry about any number of things in their lives at the drop of a hat, and they do. I absolutely do. I live in that shit. I should clarify that I mean that I’ve historically done that, right now I couldn’t be farther from that place in my mind. I’ve felt consistently calm like this for the better part of a month now.

To the point of this post. In the last few years, I realized that I’m awesome. With that realization came many more, one of them being that you guys think I’m awesome too. I don’t have to try to gain your approval, your approval is implied with your viewership or likeship or followship or whatever the fuck else. 

I should rephrase this.

In the last few years, I realized that you guys think I’m awesome. With that realization came many more, one of them being that I think I’m awesome too. This entire experience of being on youtube has essentially acted as a defibrillator or a jumper cable for my life. I don’t think I would have ever been able to climb out of the space that I’ve been used to my entire life if it weren’t for you guys showing up and telling me every day that I’m awesome. 

Real conversations with real people had always been a scary endeavor for me up until just recently. Varying levels, but always was difficult. Because of the inspiration I get from meeting all you guys, whether that be in person or online, scared is the last thing I’m feeling these days. 12 year olds to 50 year olds, there is a lot of diversity in my little club, but you’ve all played a part in shaping me into an actual person and there’s no words I have to describe the gratitude I have for that. 

I can only refer to the people who I’ve actually spoken with when I say “you guys,” but all of these interactions have taught me lessons that I’ll take with me the rest of my life. Thank you for that.

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