What it means to “grow up”

Perhaps, to grow up means literally to grow from a child, up, into an adult. When I was a boy I wanted to be a grownup so I could reach things on the countertop without a stepping stool. I knew I was a grownup one day when after buying groceries on my maxed-out credit card—I couldn’t afford them with cash, even though I worked a day job, because that money went to my overpriced rent— I realized, damn, I can reach my beer on the countertop without a stepping stool, I am a grownup.

Posted in american, Art, comedy, Creative Non-Fiction, english, humor, Language, love, Thinking, thought, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coffeehouse Reflection – Of the Cities

What a day to reflect on the outside view of redbrick buildings, autumn leaves—golden, crimson, beige—a few green holding, and the blur of speeding traffic along Como Ave in Southeast.

His stomach tensed and sounded with the Americanos’ warmth, nearly finished and not quite absorbed. There was another empty paper cup to some dump out in who-knows-where land, which doesn’t influence him in the least. It was like any other action and observation on his daily commute, now.

What this sit-and-wait game did was create a decompression, a rejuvenation, a sense that the need to do was gone in the marrow and nerves of his person.

There was need to do nothing, apathy of industriousness. There was need to watch, to open the book of this street and dive right in. How wet our surroundings made us. Each speck a word or grammar placed, each life inside of moving metal a line or meaningful phrase. That in was outside, out there in ways.

There were background sounds: steam from the coffee machine—mechanisms making espresso, or hot water for tea, compressed and let shoot; women and men behind the counter—beautiful, bantering, clad with tattoos, pastoralizing a metro, using the f-word to describe recent events that amused.

A girl at the queue was chatting about Texas; it would be 90 degrees during the day, and “so cold” at night. He could reflect on this too. These people to encounter at the counter. That girl would bring trinkets back, she promised…

The window vantage spoke in words of deceptive heat, in a detailed guide of comfortable spectacles beyond. Yet, on the experience encountered it proved different, the opposite. There was ice in this air. When the glass door opened chills ran through like coming death, stealth, he felt a deep jerk set in; fall brings spasms and raised hairs and aching bones from within.

There was no mistaking what local change carried; thirty-foot snow banks, cut powder drifts, dangerously slick sidewalks, and layer upon layer of weighted fabric tied in one big knot to you sutured: a human mummy—alive and breathing, nauseated from the act of mere cover. All of this just to go outside and be…

But it didn’t happen now, not yet. He sat staring through the window, the hardware store across the street, the pizza joint, the pedestrians walking, stopping at the corner, pressing the four-way light, the Metro Transit bus—blue and white, the vehicles, mixed—unawares of what would soon come to them—mindless, and eyes on all: the Midwestern world’s gaze.

This human, he reflected. The only thought was of the exit, and how to exist, and what that exit into existence meant in the changing climes around the area at this time of year.

Posted in Black, Coffeehouse, Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, literature, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Prose, Second Person, short story, street, Twin Cities | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baudry, Derrida, Film, and The Falling Man; How Everything is Too Long To Read:

The Falling Man

The Falling Man

Well, today I realized that everything is too long to read (TL; DR), and that is why we all love short texts like what is seen on Twitter, and tightly succinct updates on Facebook. In a way this shows how we have been evolved into hypermedicacy social addicts; we are living examples of instant-on-a-whim everything. In another way it shows the downfall of long-winded academic fluff pieces that no one cares about, or will actually read.

In lieu of this, I have told no less than twenty people that I want to write a single sentence that makes people cry, that makes people cum, and that makes people want die because nothing will be better.

Unfortunately it hasn’t happened yet, but with the lack of attention span exhibited in our society, probably people won’t read any whole piece, so they won’t read all of the sentences, so this fantasy reaction to the sentence I write won’t exist.

After reading a Baudry essay (“Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus”), one which mentions Derrida (boner!) and cameras as not creating an “objective reality” (larger boner!), I realized I was wrong about photographs. Yes, I will admit I was wrong, or it probably just happened—no right and wrong.

“Obviously”( a word used far too much by Baudry for having no meaning, as every other word universally always), a picture is worth a thousand words—we have all heard this antiquated theory, so saying that a picture is worth one or “two”, or that a photo is completely “objective”—which this piece states, is utter insane bullshit.

Firstly, I will state a couple ideas which I hold to, for the moment, right now, absolutely—in the literal sense of the word. One, nothing is “objective”, ever. Two, language means nothing in particular because it is a metaphor of a metaphor of a metaphor based on histories written by winners—it’s a long story… (And a bonus third, far less appealing thing I hold to is that we did not land on the moon, I cite Stanley Kubrick and, most recently, The Martian.)

So, what I told the class today, indirectly, was that a photograph has more power than an entire documentary or film because of the ease of access of a photograph, and because we are simple idiots—we like it fast and easy.

Accordingly I referenced the “Falling Man” photograph (The photograph above is of a 9/11 “jumper”) (fourth thing I hold to: the U.S. government took down the towers: inside job.) in mid-air, apparently the person has not been identified, it was considered “horrifying” and at the same time “beautiful”, and this is the crux of the argument. There is a fucking movie about this one photo, this one person, anonymous, and it is based on what people think about this singular image.

See, no one cares about the person, or really what happened to him—we know he dies after falling plus or minus 100 floors to flat hard New York concrete-kasplatt! (WE ALL DIE!) But, what makes this image effective, what gets people to care about this picture, is the ease of relating to it. I assume people think, “Hey, I can look at a photo for a moment and then form a meaningful opinion, and perhaps tell others about it.”

This assessment is important because it carries relevance in a world where scrolling Facebook and commenting, and/or posting to Instagram epitomizes our daily existence in “reality”. Looking at something for a moment and then telling people what we think about it is the skill we have evolved into being masters of. When I look at a cat photo online, I already “know” someone has made a shirt, taken photos, and basically amassed a company off of this dirty feline, and they make money!!!… I just “know” it!

Alternatively, when someone creates content that may be interesting or progressive or iconoclastic or inquisitive, alone, there is no money to be had, no community thought to be expanded, no one cares, there are no celebrations. However, when a local publication writes a predictable piece on mainstream interests: sex, drugs, rock and roll; perhaps a stock sob story, decent avant-garde photos (you see!), or an article on a new fill in the blank, then everyone loses their shit… Though, to be fair, that is what that entity is paid, and pays others, to do (through advertising).

Moreover, no one will read this entire piece. I get that. I am not surprised, or majorly bummed out in any way. People don’t give a shit. For instance, Moby-Dick is a great book, but those who read the Spark Notes version—I am guessing here, far outnumber those who read the book from cover to cover. And yet those same people will make jokes on the internets about it, they talk about it with ostentatious assumptions to pretentious friends, and then they reference it without understanding, because they haven’t read it. And this idea is sad, and sort of good, and a hallmark of our time and culture and society.

We want immediate satisfaction—where the fuck is my gratification (!), kneejerk outcomes on the most poignant things—and the most irrelevant things, and nothing is “objective”. We want to be Facebook philosophers, famous, loved, and change people’s minds. But we won’t spend more than five minutes trying. We merely keep scrolling onto the next meh thing.

See, now that seems backwards. Other people’s minds aren’t worth five minutes to us, no one cares. Even while we are falling there is apathy. No one reads, and everyone just assumes, proving Derrida’s “problematic language” perhaps probably true. How could we understand when we don’t take the time to? We are kind of like The Falling Man, we are going down fast to the hard truth.


If you have read this far, congratulations. Prove it by writing this in the comments sections: I hate this piece.

Posted in Art, Baudry, Creative Non-Fiction, critique, Facebook, Fiction, Film, Language Arts, literature, Minneapolis, Minnesota, MN, Movies, Pastiche, post modern, post structuralism, review, Satire, society, Terry Scott Niebeling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hide & Seek/ How to Sneeze

Hide and seek was an endearing game. In the summer we spent most of our time near the shores of the Mississippi, in the sun, listening to whatever story dad was telling. I remember one occasion when we were at the boat dock, me and my sisters and the other kids. It was hot as usual, and we thought it would be a good idea to play some hide and seek to pass the time.

Typically at the harbor we made paper airplanes or watched the adults drink until they were drunk. But today was different, we decided to play hide and seek instead. Things went off smoothly at first. Someone counted, the others went hiding. Us kids, we hid in various places; some hid in the parking lot between cars, others hid below the front deck in view of the gas pumps, and the smart ones hid in the gendered bathrooms.

It was as so: No boy could go into the girl’s bathroom! Accordingly, no girl could go in the boy’s bathroom! These were the life rules which everyone abided by, no question… This was younger times…

The bathroom was what started it all. I pretty much fucked myself because of ignorance; I was caught unawares of my surroundings. See, it was my turn to do the seeking, and I hated this. I liked better to be found. Being the tenth round or so, everyone was figuring elaborate hiding spots. I had not found anyone—time was ticking, but I could hear laughs and giggles coming from the ladies’ room.

Next to the bathroom were barrels just high enough for me to stand on and glimpse in through the window. I thought, perfect, I’ll be able to catch these fucks hiding in the ladies bathroom without going inside—a place a young boy was not allowed…

So, I jumped up on the blue 55-gallon drums and started peering, hands at my peripherals to block the sun. It was at this moment that I heard something which caused me a great deal of shock. In the time I had jumped onto the barrel, and started to view inside the coveted room, a squad car had pulled up, and two policemen stepped out. I heard the words and almost jumped, I was probably red as a tomato… they sound like, “Hey, boy, come here!”

I walked over to the officers in uniform. I was caught red-handed, I could feel the eyes of my peers and the drunks watching as I spoke with the authorities. I prayed no one saw this. They did. The cops asked me if I wanted to get arrested for being a peeping-tom. I could not explain to them the events which led me to this out of sheer embarrassment. I said nothing of the lame excuse of hide and seek.

That being said, they let me off with a warning and I walked back through the harbor shop and onto the deck. The game was over for me. I had a clear view of the river shining south. I wanted to not be there, be out of it. I felt almost sick at the ideas, or implications of my action. I sat there alone, away from my friends.

A man came up to me, a local proprietor of boat rentals, and called me “Erv the Perv”, I was probably 10 or 12 years-old, he was old and wrinkled, he was the perv! I felt like a criminal, ashamed, even by accident. I was innocent, yet pegged for guilty. To this day I fear playing hide and seek, and I always avoid women’s restrooms.


I don’t know the proper etiquette for catching a sneeze… I mean, do you do it in your hands, or in your shirt, or on your elbow? Sometimes I have this issue, and can’t remember. The sneeze comes on and it’s a split-second thought. Where does it go???

This morning while getting ready for work I sneezed into my shirt. As a child my father made a point of giving me certain misinformation as fact, I think to test me. He told me to cover my sneeze with my shirt, always—you don’t want to spread germs. Recently, I have been questioning this idea.

In school at times I will sneeze into my shirt. It happens so fast it appears as though the spray is caught by my hands, but this is just an illusion. I felt that my father’s misinformation about sneezing may have led me to not one, but many of my chest hairs becoming stuck—almost naturally glued to my shirt more than a couple times… It’s almost as cum down the leg, stuck in hairs. It’s been bad…

So, today, I was getting ready. I took a shower. I made coffee. I boiled water and made oatmeal. I was in the kitchen listening to jazz, when all of a sudden I felt it coming. I knew I had to sneeze. I was wearing my favorite blue v-neck t-shirt, the one with red stripes. I braced myself on the counter, pulled the neck of the shirt out and put my head down. Five gasping sneezes later—of the common cold variety, I finished.

You know, I don’t mind going back to school, but the thing that inevitably happens when I am around other people, younger more vulnerable people—who carry sickness and disease, is I get sick. I don’t mind being this kind of sick, though I do feel a bit like Typhoid Mary—Common Cold Terry (it has a ring), but it just gets to become a nuisance. Last night my throat was scratchy, I was grumpy, and I had a persistent dry cough…

The sneeze from breakfast was the last thing on my mind when I looked into the mirror during final preparation. I thought to myself, did I fucking spill coffee on the front of you! There in the middle of my shirt was a Rorschach test design spelled out in slime. I pondered how this had happened. Ten minutes later when the spots would not fade, or dissipate in anyway, I realized that my father had been playing a sick game on me when it came to catching sneezes.

Realizing this I tore my favorite shirt off and brushed my teeth topless, thinking about what I would put on as a backup shirt… I kept telling myself today wouldn’t be bad… I never think about what I will have to wear during the day, but I did want to wear this shirt—this now stained shirt, dried sneeze on the front, as cum. Alas, that’s how she goes… I need to start watching Trailer Park Boys again. I must say, thanks dad. You made this morning interesting.

Posted in american dream, childhood, comedy, Creative Non-Fiction, education, events, history, Knowledge, learning, Life, Lifestyle, memories, Non-Fiction, remember, story, tragedy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sleeping to Death

Going to class does not necessarily make you any smarter than anyone else in the world. What people fail to realize is that in order to gain something of quality, to progress as a person beneficially, to actually learn, they have to pay attention, care, be interested, and try. Not just show up and play the part of a cardboard cut-out. You/they have to try.

Even if you fail trying it is important. Yeah, sure, everyone says this same shit—the ol’ college try, but how often do they actually try? Maybe if they tried they would suck at something for years—thought still care about it, though still put the time and effort into doing it. Then some day it would happen. The general aspirations they were going for would come to fruition. Exactly what they wanted to happen would happen, and exactly nothing would happen…

And this happening does not have to be a paradigm shift–an awakening(!), or some sort of righteous epiphany. It could just be the idea that people actually care about something you have created or done. It could be that you actually enjoy what you did/do. It could be that that idea makes you truly happy, and have nothing to do with anyone else but you. This happened to me while biking the other day. I love what I’ve been doing (failing or not), I almost cried…

But, you say, there aren’t quotes around any words, and all of this stuff carries ideology, and some of it doesn’t make sense, like the part where nothing happens at the end… Well, it does and it doesn’t.

Being successful has nothing to do with money, or other people’s or institution’s opinions, and everything to do with how you feel inside.

Do you feel good? Did you try and fail? Great! You are one step ahead, one step closer to achieving your goals than the lot of people who are too scared to step in front of an audience and try at words into a microphone, or paint on canvas with a brush, or print words in a book, or place the best line in a joke.

By failing miserably you are better than those same people who could talk for hours about what they will do and not spend one second doing it.

I’ll quote myself and say, “Talking about an action does not perform said action.”

To get back to it, going to class does not make you any smarter, or better, or wiser than anyone else. You have to try. You have to fail. You have to actually be a part of life, this life—not the life in your cellphone, not your life on the internet, not your life stuck in what the media tells you you should be sticking your life in to.

It’s all about now, but that is cliché–you can’t say that enough, but Vonnegut said through Reddit today to do it, to me. He begged me to write something I care about, simply. So I did.

I care about doing things and taking something away from that act. I don’t care about acting like I will do something. Whether it be standing in front of a crowd of people, or in front of a mirror, or at the supper table, and completely failing, or having those around me think I am crazy. What matters is that I take something away from it.

So, instead of talking shit about how something is horrible, or how you are going to do something when you get the time, next time(!), to do something, or you are going to make that hard decision later, or tomorrow, just get up and do it now.

(I just thought of Shia LaBeouf.)

If you don’t like where you are right now, fucking walk out! Because when you die in your sleep tonight you won’t have tomorrow to achieve your goals, or the scholar status you feign to achieve by appearing in class and not saying a goddamn word while you try not to get busted texting your BFF. That is more fact than fiction. I care.

Posted in Advice, Class, College, Lecture, Lifestyle, Motivation, Non-Fiction, Technology, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Moodle is Excrement

The most confusing thing to me is when people try to fix things that aren’t broken.  Sure, things could be a bit better.  Sure, it might make the situation easier.  

But now, it’s as if huge corporations have forgotten the saying, essentially, the grass is always greener on the other side.

This time Moodle, the University of Minnesota’s database, has completely fucked up, and the grass has turned brown.  

The interface for the U’s site has taken a step back.  The user-friendly experience is non-existent, and there are more “glitches”–or more so called “problems”, than what journalists have to talk about on CNN.

Accordingly, I found out last night that one of the classes I am taking overlaps with another class I am taking.  

It is necessary for me to take both of these classes in order to graduate at the end of fall semester.

The University’s registration system, which is basically the new MyU site, which is foundationally linked to Moodle–and whoever the fuck makes that, completely missed this err.

Now on a Tuesday night I fret over my schedule like a dope fiend over a spoon.  

I write emails, I explain myself, though I find it sort of ironic that the class that overlaps is a Career Planning course…

I wonder if they will factor this in and allow, or if they will tell me to fuck off and get in line…  

The never ending saga of college.  It will never end as long as it’s not free.  I wait for that green grass.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bugs and Bother (La Crescent Weekend)

As comfortable

as black gnats on light wind,

in healthy sun

with moving clouds,

of a hard morning broken,

on this busy weekend of deals,

held up by metal & canvas lawn chairs,

in dewed green grass,

of a small community;

weather talk & Minnesota Goodbyes;

we are signaling and buzzing,

as comfortable as black gnats,

pulling out money to buy wares and stares,

life held on to the air,

flying, fanning, coming, going,

and free.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment