i like the redwoods. i feel at home there. so very small, me, lost in their entanglements. i’m so much less than them, so overlookable when about their trunks, their great bodies and masses. there are so many remarkable things in a redwood forest, i would be just a grey bit of matter, not much more enganging than the granite about their bases. i image i could just as easily become part of their roots, a bit of branch in the canopy. nothing but a splinter. when they would someday fall, i could be nothing at all, not a sidenote in their victories, their tragedies. everyone would mourn the loss of the great, thunderous soul and weep not for that which shattered when the father of satellites crashed back to earth.
i hate the desert. standing there, like a king taking stock of his domain, i can’t help but feel incredibly awkward and out of place. for miles, you’re the only sign to set eyes on from horizon to horizon.. and i have to message, no passionate cry to push on the masses. the desert is not my setting, not my state. i am not a miracle of life in the dizzing absense there of, which seems to be the aim of how a desert, making you feel as though you’re the moses to its thirst.
in the redwoods, you can’t help but think about other things. in the desert, there is nothing but yourself is a sea of wanting of water. i’m not of the desert – i am with the trees. there’s something so perfect about being less, about being nothing at all. it’s makes you forever apart of everything. when you’re a king, though, you’re seperate, you’re alone. i am no king. i never want to be. i want to be a part of something so much bigger than that. i want so much to be less.
“it seeed that, in time, all the substance from one image would flow into the other and only one would remain: leo. he must grow, i must disappear.” -herman hesse, journey to the east
anyway, it’s been a bad day. possibly a bad week. and in this week, i feel that i’ve been walking through a desert. if i fall, so does hope*, momentum, vision. in a desert, i’m bound to become a pillar of salt.
put me among the trees, let me run free and unnoticed, let me plant seeds namelessly.
* while i’m unspeakably thankful for obama winning and being in the white house, it’s somewhat unfortunate that he seems to own that word and that it now seems slightly cliche. it is, unlike the campaign might have portrayed it, transient, renewable, resilient.
** i make no claims to understand what i mean when i write at 12:20am after a long week.. so, should you ask me what i’m sayinig in this, i’ll deny (honestly) any understanding.
this is a blatant attempt to actually my 500 goal for at least one week this year 😉 -word!
i probably loved her most when she punched the pop machine.
she’d run from me into the dorm’s kitchen and squarely (and impressively) punched straight into the “o” in the giant, glistening “coke”. i watched her from the couch, watched her collapse into a folded, crying bundle of tears and anger and blonde and disappointment.
she lay there even as the girls came down to get their midnight chaser, looked at her mockingly, and inquired only to see if she would move out of the way so they could order from the bruised machine. she rolled to her side, pressing her damp cheek to the red to give them access to their needs, bending herself to their wills.
it’s the fallen ones that tend to catch my eye. something about damage, loss, anger, passion and the acknowledgment of all that, the embodiment of that weight, the rawness that’s undeniably attractive. and none had fallen quite as far as she had at that moment, from holy.. to there, in the basement of my dorm, curled and cuddled next to her ruby red friend.. who she’d just sucker punched in the gut.
ironically, she’d just told me she wasn’t sure she loved me anymore.
tagged.. like one of those sad looking bears on discovery, i’ve been tagged. (as a note, i found a picture after i thought of the bear thing.. i have to meet this cartoonist of the same mindset..)
so, for those of you too lazy to track down the current trail or who aren’t already familiar with it, let me just tell you that being tagged is a bit like playing truth or dare.. except no one ends up making out in the closet. essentially, i share seven things about me that are relatively unknown.. and then i tell seven more people to do the same.
i’ll break out of character for a bit and fore go my typical disclaimers.. and we’re off to the wonderfully drab world of paulo.
1. on wednesday mornings for the fall of 2001, from 2-5am in the morning, i, along with punk-wanna-be kc, had a hap-hazard radio show on wmsr. msr as in miami student radio (so.. rainbows weren’t plastered all over the site when we were there.. just a historical note). it was a strange time in my life: i was being sweetly convinced by my girlfriend at the time that i had a great voice and i was trying to give up my habit of always getting cookies-n-cream from handles. somehow this opening seemed to satisfy both. kc was there and, having been from my high school, we naturally banded together since, despite kc’s attempts to be cool and calm, we were both a bit nervous about the whole thing.. college, radio, people, the girl playing with my hair with her bare foot, all that. we were so frazzled, actually, that when they asked what time slots people wanted, we jumped at the chance to grab the first open spot we knew we could get, 2-5am wednesdays. the student leader looked at us, “really?!” the look on his face reminded us how crazy we were but, despite our back-pedalling (“well, i mean, as a second option.. if it’s the only thing open.. you know.. heh”), he was more than happy to ink us in. and thus began the short illustrious career in radio, pjv as a dj, c? we had a huge audience of about twenty.. total people who’d tune in out of pity or drunken confusion.
if they listened in around 4am, kc just loved to run to the rack, grab the “loverboy” vinyl, and, throwing all the slides to the top, blast out “everybody’s working for the weekend“, and we’d jump around the studio. by the end of the fall, i stopped going.. but kept sleeping through my wednesday morning chemistry classes. and, like so many stars of our time, my fame and radio career slowly faded away. (one last note: since wmub actually was the only university radio station permitted to broadcast, we were not technically on the radio.. we were webcast. i know..)
2. i don’t shower much.. not because i don’t like to or because there’s some principle about it.. it’s just that i’m usually too tired and lazy to do much about it. sorry excuses, i know.. but when i do jump in there, i take really long showers. personally, there’s little better in this world that being in warm water with nothing to distract you. i like to cup my hands around my ears so the water builds up and, if only for a little, i get to feel like i’m under a huge waterfall. but then i get out and i feel like i’m a freaking onion – my skin peels away for what seems like days. and that’s more embarrassing than any other possible side effects.
3. i hate my teeth. i really do. and i’m extremely paranoid about them. i’m plagued by the fear that i’m going to have more cavities or that i’ll need dentures prematurely or that people are quietly disgusted by my mouth. i’ve worked myself into a pit of depression, true depression, just by standing in front of the mirror, looking into my mouth, into every corner, nook, cranny, and crevice until i’m absolutely certain my jaw will be removed in short order, tossed into the heap as a complete, hopeless waste, and will be replaced by a series of deer hooves. i had braces for three years and a retainer that said “laid back” for another several years (yeah.. it really says that. i still have it if you don’t believe me)
4. i like to pretend sometimes that i’m secret agent or that i’m on a mission from tom clancy. it’s pretty predictable when it’ll happen: it’s almost always late, always in an empty or partially empty building, and always involves me stealing something, typically something (seemingly) worthless. a few examples.. freshman year, bounding around kenyon college in ohio with my girlfriend (a pastor’s daughter no less), we gently tested the doors and, when they gave way, the game was on. i’d move up to a corner, give a quick glance around the turn, and, if was clear (of course it was), i’d dive across the way into the lecture hall. that adventure i left with a professor’s mug and my girlfriend, m, scored a wall clock. actually, we almost got caught. on leaving one building a janitor saw us and struck off towards us. m, with a clock the width of her waist under her jacket, froze. i went to him (mainly to avoid him hearing the inordinately loud the ticking coming from her stomach) and explain i was a prospective student and my friend (a nod to, and a painfully nervous wave from, m) was just showing me around campus. paulo stikes again! and then there were the times jena and i would snoop around the ysu extension building when she should have been working. she was 23, i was 16. we’d walk on the huge tables in the abandoned meetings rooms, then run up to the roof and watch as everyone left. through the semester, we got to be pretty close. typically i’d skip class and hang out with her, she’d answer the phone and, in an annoyed and pretentious tone, transfer or simply hang up on the caller. she had tattoos, warned some kids about special k, and drew sketches of me. she had me over her place once with a bunch of friends.. i think they were confused why she had the young narc, the square over for the evening, wasn’t my mother looking for me (actually, she probably was). i left early (because my mom was looking for me) and we said we’d keep in touch. last i heard she was at osu struggling to get used to columbus and the scene. i keep trying to track her down but.. well, people like her just seem to disappear. which might be for the best anyway..
5. i’m not a smoker.. but i definitely can enjoy a cigarette now and again. now, before you shake your heads, let me emphasize a couple things. one) by now and again i mean that the last smoke i had was this weekend past and the last one before that was more than a year ago. two) i only smoke when i’m very stressed.. or very tired. three) nicotine is an anti-depressant.. so just chalk it up to self-medication. that might also be the explanation for the coffee consumption. and if you’re curious, camel’s, turkish gold are my smoke of choice. they’re actually pretty disgusting.. but they’re what my high school friends insisted on having every time and that just makes the smoke a little more worth it.
6. my senior year of high school, i worked at a waste water treatment plant. believe me, nothing glamarous about this one, carlee can attest to the smell. but, over the course of a summer, you get used to it. i would spend most of the day hanging out, hiding on the third floor, or talking on the phone. now, that sounds like i was a slacker but, while i was definitely slacking, it was an order. the first few days i was there, the full-timers would call me off from the mower or from painting and tell me to chill out, relax, come watch the game. or they’d show me the spots in the maintenance building where the boss would see you. i spent most of the summer sanding and painting pipes in a long, underground tunnel. wasn’t all bad..
i’d listen to music and get lost in the mundane routine of the back-and-forth. it’s a little strange to say (and just plain funny now) but it was then, during that summer underground, that i was the most religiously aware, interested, and faithful. there were many times down there, alone, listening to music, that i felt a connection to something, a movement towards something unseen. and it’s especially funny now since, in looking back on it, that tunnel had horrible ventilation. most days i’d come up with white nostrils.. not subtly white.. like “mom, where’s your nail polish” white. so maybe that had a bit to do with it. that’s not to say i suddenly lost my religion on emerging each evening from the tunnel. in fact, there was a point during my second semester of college, eight months or so later, when i felt a.. a push, a move.. not quite that.. almost an obligation to become a missionary. granted, that lasted all of the walk home. still, it was an important time in it’s own respects, and still is for many of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with religion but with how i react to certain feelings (or perhaps a certain feeling.. it’s interesting to consider that a lot of the past five to seven years have been a shift towards obligations). i haven’t completely abandoned my faith.. it’s just become something more vague, more (i loath the word..) holistic, more abstract.. my friend va calls it a spirituality and i’ve since seen that essence referenced elsewhere, particularly in the river why (here david james duncan specifically calls it “unspiritual spirituality”) . maybe it’s just a fancy, if shorter, way of saying, “taking care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and take care of those around me as myself”. if it is, amen.
7. when i was in middle school, i sold pumpkins. lots of pumpkins. literally a ton of pumpkins. my step dad got me into it, wanted to make a young, enterprising fellow out of this fro-headed, awkward, sweater wearing kid. so we loaded up a friend’s old blue truck, balanced the orange orbs delicately, and annoyed anyone unfortunately enough to end up behind us while we drove back to suburbia. we had a corner lot and in the mornings i’d set up with benches, wreathes, calculators, and scales.. and we called it “paul’s perfet pumpkin patch”. and that’s not a typo – my mom, who put together the sign in goodwill, had a bit of an issue with spelling. and so it remained.. perfetly. (i’ll add pictures when i find and scan ’em) to this day, i have to wonder if it didn’t get me more sales, if people didn’t drive by, see me in all my incredible awkwardness, and, taking pity on me, pulled into the drive to pick up their jack-o-lantern to be. truth is, i was running a racket. full on.. it wasn’t price gouging but damn if it weren’t close. it was always funny when, after plopping it on the scale, punching the calculator, and telling them the total, their faces would suddenly change, having realized in the moment that they’ve just been had. paulo strikes again! ..ok.. it wasn’t that intense but they were pretty expensive pumpkins and profits did go down as i got older and “cute” was replaced with “pitiful” and was eventually completely substituted with “sad”. but it was fun.. and tiring.. and kept my parents out of my untamed hair for many a fall afternoon.
alright.. that was a stretch. and it’s late (surprise surprise). so here’s the next round of suckers:
it’s 4am and i can’t sleep. or i can’t sleep now, is what i should say. coming home from work i went straight for my bed, laid down, and returned to consciousness again around 1am.
my apartment is a complete mess. and i’m alright with that for now: my life is currently a bit of a mess so why shouldn’t the place where i live be something of a reflection of the inner clutter that i have. there’s a bible verse i can’t seem to find about dressing in your best even when you’re in the pits.. and that makes sense and is all well and good. but sometimes you just need to let go and be how you feel. it takes so much damned energy to be happy or to trudge through the hard times that there’s just not anything left to wash the car, sort laundry, put the books away. and there’s something about the verse that just smacks of dishonesty, suggest, if only mildly, that sadness is a shameful exercise. if someone’s sad, shaming them isn’t going to help matters.
it’s interesting, too, to consider the lies our lives can create. for instance, several months ago i was in cincinnati with yasi, walking around the gas light district, commenting on just how beautiful and warm and happy the homes there seem. they just give off the sense of calm and contentedness. nothing is as it seems, though: for all i knew, there was a nuclear-sized family argument going on just then behind closed doors while i strolled outside admiring how happy they must be. i’d learn about the dangers of making that assumption just a few months later..
aside from being out of town for weeks, i’ve bounced around when it comes to what i’m going to do with life. there was a job in new york city with unicef that, for a few days, i was convinced i was going to take. much to mine and others’ surprise, i turned it down. then the position a few days ago in asheville, nc, that i would’ve at least had a pretty good shot at but didn’t apply for. they were the right decisions and i have no issues withe my choices.. it’s just interesting to contemplate the “i wonder”s now and again.
six months ago none of this was on my horizon, not even remotely. and now it’s in the here and now, part of my life. it’s just astounding to me how quickly everything can change. and it’s made me appreciate more than i ever have my friends that are part of that ever changing life. to say that i’m blessed is an embarrassing understatement, like saying the universe is “awfully big”. if i am anything, it’s because of the friends i have been given.
i considered staying up all night to read the brothers k like i did some months ago to finish the river why (both, interestingly enough, by david james duncan). but the river why was on a friday and back then i was waking up drenched in sweat anyway (i think i was a little sick) so staying up wasn’t a big deal. but now, tomorrow (technically today), i have to work and play soccer. instead, i read to the end of a chapter and tried to sleep. for whatever reason, these lines resound:
for a moment i say nothing, fearing i’ll sob, or choke on blood, if i speak. but then words well right up with the blood, i’m helpless to stop them: “i know you hate the mill,” i tell him, and tears come the instant i speak. “i know you love baseball, and aren’t doing what you want. but at least vera fights. she says her dopey prayers no matter what!” i lean against the door, gasping for air and strength to finish. “all i want is for you to fight, papa. to fight to stay alive inside! no matter what.“
well, my eyes are finally heavy again. i’m going to call it a morning. if there are still dirty spoons in the sink, if i have to step around the laundry, if i’m buttering toast over a hesse novel, you’re going to have to bear with me. i’m not ashamed of my life, not in the least, and i won’t be ashamed of the mess.
if you’ve spoken with me, you know i have a thing for puns. it’s starting to show itself as something more of a handicap, though. and the more i hear/watch television, the more i believe puns are funny only to the dorky white guys that make them.
it’s ridiculous to hear people talking about the “loss of life”. “seventeen people lost their lives today..” do you think these people are out there roaming the highway, slapping their foreheads saying, “damn it! where the hell did i put that thingy?”
like with my grandmother. i don’t know how many times i’ve heard “i’m sorry for your loss.” it’s not as if we don’t know where she is.. in fact, we know exactly where she’ll be for a long time. as her grandchild, i was given the chance to place a memento in the casket. when i showed my mother my “gift”, she immediately vetoed it. it was the classic exploding worm from the peanut can. i decided to go with that since i would, as a kid, scare the bejesus out of her. but why shouldn’t i put that in there?! what’s going to happen, that i scare her to death? (don’t worry, i didn’t actually say that)
ok, another one: is anyone a little confused by the headlines “russia invades georgia”? is anyone thinking of the state just west of alabama and wondering if the russian just really want tons of peaches? perhaps to boost exports of peach schnaps..? (yes, i recognize schnaps is german..)
is it just me or does anderson cooper look like he’s trying out for “zoolander 2: more better good looking”?
and by the way, for anyone else that stays up late, an over-the-shoulder organizer.. is a purse!
now the cnn anchors are sharing their myspace pages. the end of the world will follow shortly, i assure you. apparently the facebook url (and yes.. they actually said this).. the facebook url is “too convoluted” to post on the screen. if i see that any of you have “friended” a cnn anchor without being at least their second cousin, then i disown you as a friend. and i will subsequently remove you from my linkedin profile, which is a professional and respected site for grown up business purposes only and isn’t a thin veil for the nerds of the social networking scene who want in to the cool crowd but just can’t hack it (that pun, by the way, wasn’t intended.. 😉 ).