Biking to St. Paul in the Rain

dandelions

dandelions

About an hour before I have to be at work I am already leaving my apartment. I like being early. Most days I will arrive early at the approval of my managers and the bane of my coworkers. It’s so fucking easy to be punctual. It takes zero effort. So naturally, I am absolutely reliable, always—when I want to be. Even if there is a rainstorm spinning hell overhead I will be on my bike charging off to work at least an hour early, promise. I usually end interviews by making this an objective point.

The extra fifteen minutes I allot myself before my regular scheduled shift affords me the time to walk past patrons at the computers and refill my Nalgene bottle near the reference material, or go to the student break room and try to hopelessly solve the inordinate riddles scrawled on the whiteboard. I will step in the building, look at the clock, look at the desk, say “hey”, think, set my backpack down, think again, talk to myself, clock in and walk around doing odd jobs that I need to do to feel accomplishment or fulfillment as a normal person, perhaps disburthen myself, in order to get my human mind ready for work. Yeap.

Today was like any other Midwestern day except for the fact that it was mostly wet out. Rain had started in the night to cause a dew that never Aufwiedersehened, puddles that kept making circles of droplets, and cars, trees, and sidewalks that would never dry. I noted this on my early morning run. Today I had freedom until 5pm, and then it was work until Midnight. The ride in, pray tell, on my Schwinn Caliente, would be nothing I couldn’t handle.

A half an hour before I was about to leave, which was about 2 hours before I had to be at work, because I wanted to coffee, Jess called to see what I was up to. Of course I was lazing about all morning sipping coffee, harassing the cat, writing, typing, reading, listening to the No Agenda Podcast, and preparing for what would be a wet misadventure to work.

You see, the clouds were looking just as heavy, if not heavier than earlier, and pins and needles were gathering in my stomach—for reasons unknown. She offered me a ride to work over the phone. I let her know that it was unnecessary. I regretted this decision the moment I made it.

I was out the door reluctantly. You know when you are lazy all day and you have to do something, the last thing you want to do is that one thing you have to do. That sort of day befell me in awkward fashion. I locked the door and checked it five times, as always; I went in checked the faucets, checked the backdoor, made sure the cat was in place, closed the blinds, and repeated. I am not sure if I actually have “OCD”, but I do this regular. My house is a fortress for my obsession. I attribute it to being cautious, as I have had my car stolen twice and my house robbed once. It’s unfortunate, but we learn from experience.

So, I locked up the apartment and walked into the basement, unlocked my bike and hauled it up the backstairs. My bike weighs about 50 pounds too much, but she is reliable. I am broke right now, so it will have to do to get me to work to make more money to buy a new bike. Logic follows.

After getting to the top of the stairs I observed the parking lot, no change. It was the same scene as it was this morning after the run; the wind hollowing and pinging inside on the windows had told it all. Fuck, the puddles were circles of circles of rippled circles, splashing waters. Bugs were at the beach. There were ant-sized Great Lakes. They were saying “fuck you” to the drought in California and to what would normally be a pleasant ride to work.

Once on my bike I said to myself: this isn’t so bad. I lied. I kept repeating this could get worse, or this is a good idea. When I biked past the bridge over 35W north I stopped to put my phone in a Ziploc bag, as I was prepared. My backpack was possibly fucked. By this time my legs were saturated, and I was unsure as to if I would bet money on my raincoat. A wet cat would fare better.

I had been through two raincoats in the past couple of years. Either it never rained on the old raincoat, or the quality has steadily gotten worse for raincoat manufacturers. These shit raincoats came from some Spring or Fall outdoors convention at Midwest Mountaineering. Where floor staff sells beer to sell you more product—they get you while you are impaired I say. Yeah, I had a few. Whatever.

Anyway, I like a sturdy outer shell, nothing flimsy, and nothing that leaks. While walking Jess to the bus one morning I discovered a leak in my old raincoat, great! It had let cold rainwater down my backside and into my briefs. Of course I decided to get the same exact one. Unfortunately for Marmot things had changed, the quality was shit and the new coat hardly lasted through the Minnesota winter. Ninety bucks burnt a hole in my wallet and the guarantee on the coat was as good as the guarantee on a gumdrop. It just doesn’t happen.

So, after the 35W bridge zip-up, I found myself maneuvering up Como Avenue in this raincoat. Como Avenue is interesting if you like to bike directly next to cars, and terrifying if you don’t. In the rain, in my Ray-Bans, here I was biking up the open road. I kept looking back for the next car, or the next bus, or God, or the next sign of clouds parting. The sun was out, bright enough to wear shades, but weak enough to permit clouds, fuck. I kept pedaling up the avenue to the incline, where Minneapolis turns to St. Paul, and where, abruptly, St. Paul turns to Falcon Heights, just over by 280. A bus passed me slowly, there was no reprieve. Metro Transit waited at the light for a moment for me to get ahead and I biked onto the sidewalk to let it pass—I know that buses crack human femurs like chicken wings at the local dive, so I moved clear. I became more saturated waiting, a man getting off of the bus nodded with a smile. I was a fucking joke.

At this point people were either running along the sidewalks, or in raincoats in bus ports, or on buses, or just nowhere to be found. I was on my way to get coffee just at the top of the hill at Dunn Bros, nothing special, just hot caffeine. There was only one hill in my way.

I huffed up the lengthy hill, slowly in some low gear that almost felt like backwards, pulled to the side of the street across from the blue and white and red Mobil, and locked up. Bending down I let accumulated raindrops soak my inner garments. I was not sure if I was wet from sweating, or wet from the raining. I walked inside with fogged up sunglasses, a helmet slicked with water, and pants that clung to me as taffy to its wrapper. I was extra cool in extra skinny everything, fact. I’ll take an Americano, medium, room.

My coffee was up and a mild-hot and I wanted to stay. I had to leave certainly, but when? I knew if I waited too long I would become accustom to almost-dry and not want to leave. I looked around at the crowd, sitting behind MacBooks and thick-framed glasses, some familiar man locked eyes with me. I thought about where I had met him—the library, I knew. I hate talking to people. I left immediately.

Walking back to my bike was a bit depressing; the coffee was not as hot as last time (though last time it burnt my fucking hand to touch the cup) and all day had looked like this—grey, sepia, shit. It had looked as though we were stuck in a constant dusk. I unlocked my bike and carried my warm coffee, with the Kryptonite and wire slung over my shoulder. I walked past my ephemera (Local Poetry, blah blah, blah, no one reads…) and back the way I had biked.

I took a right on Doswell. I walked a bending peaceful upscale community street past College Park, past dampened and wilting Honeysuckles, and past telephone poles and a wet Labrador with its master. My feet became soaked, the left one more so than the right one. I could feel the holes in my shoes, the patches I used to repair them had failed. My coffee splashed and splashed on my hand.

Around 3:45pm I walked the last steep inclined street to where the connectors meet at the St. Paul Student Center and locked my bike up in front of Magrath Library. My coffee was half gone, and somewhat diluted with urban rain water. Everything was stuck to me, I had become a magnet of sorts, or the killer in I Know What You Did Last Summer—shitty movie. Going inside seemed useless now—almost, I would have to carry this with me, this wet. I went in. I didn’t get my requested books right away. I walked downstairs and outside and then back in again. It can wait. I went into the basement bathroom of Magrath and took a piss, and then I took off my coat. My sleeve ends were soaked on the inside but the rest of me was not so bad. I must have just felt the sweat building up from the hill. My pants were drenched though, and my shoes were the beginnings of trench foot. I washed my hands and looked up.

The person in the mirror looked friendly, and smiled, so I decided to go dry off in the pressing wind under Bourlag Hall’s massive cement awning. I found a wooden bench and relieved myself of tattered Chuck Taylor’s, low-top socks, a wet shell of a coat, and my dripping black bag. My possessions sat on the ground watching me, and I sat on the dry wood below my ass. There was a chill in the afternoon air. I wrote some things down in my notebook, and then took off to the Veterinary Medical Library to scan books. It was an evening shift to begin and a bike ride which could have been worse. The coffee had turned a stagnant and tepid.

Still I stand soaked, but now I know the only cure for wet is dry. Oh, and always accept that offer of a ride to work.

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Open Mic Shocker, Poetry Workshops, and Editing

Photo by Errata Magazine, MPLS, MN.

Photo by Errata Magazine, MPLS, MN.

Open Mic

I did an open mic last night (21/04/15), no one booed. It felt great. I guess I sort of expect that now, for people to boo. Though, I always think that those in the audience who dare to boo would find it hard to get up on stage themselves. One time I was at a U Slam event (U Slam is a group of local slam poets who judge other slam poet’s work as if art is a science) where people did tell me to get off of the stage. I said I had a few more poems, they said “make it one”. I made it 3. Fuck them…

The difference between the U Slam hecklers (or any group of outspoken audience members) and a regular audience member is this: the boisterous kids will go on stage after they boo and tell a person to get off, but only in front of their friends who call them “the best poet I know”, or “the next big thing”, or probably “the best in the Twin Cities”. They have it easy, they would shit themselves to go on cold, knowing no one. The average audience member would be shaking in their boots, because of fear of public speaking, or whatever. Now, the difference between the former and I is that I came to the event alone, and no one in the audience knows me. What does that mean?

I reflect on how easy it is to read poetry in front of a group of friends, though it is fun to stick the neck out a bit, jump into the fire hot, test what is between my legs, get called out, booed, or heckled, say different things, rather than same, but only because those who do the booing the loudest couldn’t stand up their themselves, alone and unknown. This is their art too, or their science. That anonymous sound let in a crowd is a form of art, however weak it may be. It takes fortitude.

Shocker

Here is a shocker: not binge drinking beers in someone’s kitchen constantly will make you feel like you are healthy again, and if you add movement on top of that you will feel even better.

Recently, I have discovered this new thing called physical activity, or to the laymen: exercise. This exercise thing is rather great. Instead of sitting around all day and drinking beers, lazing on a porch, you head outside, out of your cellphone provider’s service range, and you walk into nature, no map, no plan, just go. See, you cut out a negative and switch it with a positive. You drink water, or coffee, or tea, and take your shirt off, and get some sun, maybe a tan. It almost feels like summer, or a boner, or amazing sex, though it’s not.

This exercise thing is incredible (a great and amazing word), it’s as if life has been re-blown back into me, I have been born again to myself, my religion. I feel alive again. Not only am I using my body for good, in attempting to catch fish—with miserable success, and walking aimlessly, I am running in the mornings, or when I can, to build muscle.

The truth of it is running is something I absolutely hate, though my body seems to like it. I am hating it a bit less now. I like jogging with my fiancée and pretending to beat her at a foot race. I am very slow, I run very slow; I enjoy seeing things at a slow pace, so this works out for me, for her, not so much. Activity is good.

Workshops (my favorite topic)

Workshops are great if you enjoy other people picking apart your personal art. How come Picasso never had a workshop with the local villagers, or his envious contemporaries? I imagine it would go something like this, “Oh, hey, Picasso, I think you should change this, paint this here, paint that there, then it looks better, I think, blah blah blah… I think this… I think that… Okay, maybe then it will be better”, and then Picasso says something like, “Fuck off”.

Isn’t he the master of his own work? Aren’t we the masters of ours? I don’t know.

The Senior Seminar Poetry workshop is rather daunting at times, we sit in this class for 2 hours and do the above. People come in and judge other people’s works, write shit on it, and then hand it back to them and leave. They voice their strong opinions, which are completely subjective and a waste of time—so that what, people can change their identity? I may read what they write and think, “Wow, that is one person’s honest opinion, they thought something, great. That is a huge thing to do, considering it is required. Do they represent the billions of other people who might enjoy it, maybe even love it? NO.” Then after I wipe my ass with it I feel better.

Workshops are like therapy for people who don’t believe in their writing, they are useless unless you want to get prescribed something that will cause more problems, or take care of your shitty, bad poetry. Perhaps they give me a suggestion similar to an English-esque Prozac, and I take it. My day is less real than my twilight dreams, so is my writing. I am a product of a product. I am no longer alive. I don’t know if I will take their prescription seriously, so 99% of the time I don’t.

If you go to therapy for people who don’t believe in their writing, of course something is wrong, you came to the writing therapist. So, of course they say something is wrong with your work, agreeing with you: you need to change this, you need to change that. What if your being wrong was your strong suit, your strength? I mean, you had something that no one else had—every diamond has its own unique flaw, you know—and that flaw was exactly what you wanted to change. You go home later and you change it because the group thought your work was complete shit, absolutely “pat”, and now you are only as good as that group. You have become the same as everyone else. Your writing has been affected, maybe for good, maybe for bad, but you are not the same writer you once were, you are of a collective mind, unoriginal. Now you must always go back and ask, “Is it better now?” or “Is it good enough?” As if anyone can tell you that in actuality, as if it fucking matters.

Now, this idea of writing therapy hangs over your head. Can you produce anything that people will like without drastically critiquing it? I say yes. I am sure that motherfuckers daily try to critique the Mona Lisa, yet would they be able to paint it as they see it? NO WAY EVER. Move along.

If you want to produce quality original art, create something you personally believe in, not because of anyone or anything else. Something that you yourself, no one else, believes in. Just believe in what you do, and then it is good! That is real art, you don’t need a workshop, or a group of slam poets to tell you right from wrong. No phonies needed, you can tell yourself. You don’t need a group of novices to tell you if you like the object you are creating, or if it will sell, or if it will be a success to you. It already is, if you just believe.

Editing

From now on I don’t think I will edit anymore, if you read mistakes above, great. I think I will just go and write, and whatever happens happens happens. People miss so much when they cut out all of the good stuff, like the: I almost shit my pants stuff, the boozy sweat weekend mornings stuff, the sheer public embarrassment stuff; we won’t find those scenarios on Facebook et al., yet we all equally have these experiences. Whatever, Selfie Masters can do whatever, they can edit and filter and cut and crop, they miss the big picture entirely. With words it’s kind of the same, though more fun to not edit. Readership not accounted for, this should be fun. Aufwiedersehen!

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European Cigarettes

Temple Bar, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland.

Temple Bar, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland.

While walking the bustling streets of Dublin, Ireland one notices the amount of cigarette smokers there are throughout the city. They appeared everywhere, it seems. Most people, fit people, strikingly beautiful women and handsome men, would walk the streets—fitness prone yoga mats strapped to their backs, or kids in tow—puffing their European cigarettes. Ugly people, normal people, down-on-their-luck people, people waiting on something, people doing something, people looking healthy—all these people smoked cigarettes.

It was an odd occurrence seeing troves of people going at it, sucking on butts, getting their fix of the cancer stick, cheap kicks, especially after our surgeon generals had deemed this activity so dangerous, so risky. I mean, they told us in the pre-departure pamphlets beforehand that Europeans smoked more than the average American, at the time it was hard to believe—an assumption. In straightforward testimonial honesty: THEY DO SMOKE MORE, REALLY. Matter of fact, they smoke a hell of a lot more than the average American does. Europeans out-smoke Americans like we out-war every other country on the planet, and then crawl up their asses looking for weapons of mass destruction which they may us against us, which they may, or may not possess—I digress. One would think with all of our freedom(s) we would kill ourselves more than anyone else, especially with the appropriately dubbed “cowboy killers”, but you know who hangs with the “cowboy—” more? You know who is cooler than us for this, more free than us? Europeans. Many, many Europeans, perhaps. From what I observed…

One reason for this plethora of habitual smoking may exist within the makeup of the cigarettes themselves. One can immediately tell the difference between European cigarettes and American cigarettes by the quality; foreign cigarettes, I attest, taste and smell less harsh, and are more appealing: different, lighter, and sweeter. I can see the risk of addiction, it is lucid. I understand the want for something that doesn’t taste like dogshit, causing the need to actually constantly smoke. If only cigarettes were made better locally, in Americas, we could have something to look forward to on our “smoke breaks”, while just looking cool, or while hanging our hands out a slightly cracked window driving through town.

Another interesting variance I noticed about people smoking abroad, aside from the frequency and omnipresence of the act, was the way people smoked. People would not stand around like Americans and smoke (Derpa Derp), they would be walking around, looking for their next mission—on the go. Here in America people use the cigarette as an excuse to “take a break”, to go outside, to get some “fresh air”. In Europe it seemed no one took “breaks”, no one needed a fucking excuse to smoke, they just kept moving and kept smoking; they were like locomotives puffing their tobacco smoke high into the air as they paced out their walks. They maneuvered with cigarettes in hand, in mouth, into lines, past on-looking tourists, scattered or apart, captivating, and puffed. It almost made me want to buy a pack and get active.

Now, looking back and thinking on this, I long for the taste of these cigarettes. Just sitting here at the desk I want an excuse, a reason to have one. I want to be around people who smoke and look natural doing it, those people abroad. See, this is the perfect marketing scheme; create a quality product that attractive people want to indulge in, constantly, and everywhere. These European cigarette manufacturers are seriously onto something. America should take a hint and get rolling.

O’ the nostalgia, I had to consume, I remember, I had to experience what those cigarettes were really like, so I waited for my opportunity. Of course in Ireland fate finds you, and I found them. It happened when a group of us were walking around, looking for a pub, and we found one. We walked inside to walk outside, into the smoking area, open roof and such—the only place with open seats, and there at the table sat my prize. It was a pack of European cigarettes, about 4 or so left. So, I grabbed them, no one noticed, they were unattended. I gave my peer one and we talked of smoking. This find was at Temple Bar, the Temple Bar, I am not sure of the name, make or model, or where they were from—Europe I assume, but they were far superior than their American counterparts. This moment was glorious, for culture, for appearance, for science. I pulled out my Irish flag colored lighter—like a tourist, and lit that shit up. How smooth, how flavorful. And I didn’t buy a single pack before boarding the plane back. Stupid…

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who the fuck knows

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What I have heard a lot of, especially this week, is: that is wrong, or that is right, and then, always: fact. Usually, what I believe of something, whether it is right or wrong, does not matter. I could walk into an idea straight on, see it for what it is and still be completely perplexed by that same idea. The whole idea is that we don’t really know—or knowing is an excuse for people who can’t properly use their brains to think. For example, I had a professor ask a classmate: “How the fuck could you possibly know?” when she kept saying she “knows”. She wasn’t thinking, she was stating a “fact” that she knew. I thought about his response and agreed with him, though it was hilarious and harsh. Life is not about knowing… most of the time we don’t really know anything important about anything (actually all the time we don’t know); we don’t know exactly when we are born, what we are doing, or exactly when we die, we just are. Things are, or a thing is. I guess we can know that.

I think right and wrong can fuck off.
How the fuck do I know anyway?

***

Let’s think about something. A thing, like a dress for instance, could be blue to one person, and an entirely different color to another person. My point being, forming a basis idea for that color is pointless, because conveying that idea is pointless—and impossible since colors can only be described by referencing other colors. No one cares about the color of the dress; they care about the idea—thinking on that, the thought of the color of the dress. The “fact” is, proving “facts” does not matter as much as experiencing the idea happening itself. We lack the act of ponderance, it is highly important in growing as a person who has experienced things. Though, I still don’t know if I have experienced anything.

***

Let’s think about other things, and this: nothing is certain. For example: Today I walked into the University Baptist Church on University and 13th, I thought churches promoted peace and love. A sign on a bulletin board within this church told me something a little different; the sign said God Doesn’t like Gay People (and not in those words). In reality people think churches stand for goodness and kindness, what I read was different, or… I better catch myself here, it just WAS. I can no longer believe in this idea for certain, I must experience and think. I met up with a group of people with uncertain smiles, they were really interested in me. I had just met them and I told them how much of a pile-of-shit I was the week leading up to Spring Break, now.

***

Let’s think about other things, and this: nothing is certain. For example: Today I walked into the University Baptist Church on University and 13th, I thought churches promoted peace and love. A sign on a bulletin board within this church told me something a little different; the sign said God Doesn’t like Gay People (and not in those words). In reality people think churches stand for goodness and kindness, but what I read was different, or… I better catch myself here, it just WAS. I can no longer believe in this idea for certain, I must experience and think. I met up with a group of people with uncertain smiles, they were really interested in me (for some weird fucking reason). I had just met them and I told them how much of a pile-of-shit I was the week leading up to Spring Break, now.

***

At this point, if you are wondering why I was in church, it was for a job interview, otherwise known as something I don’t want or need. To say the least, I made it inside without being struck down by lightening, to my utter surprise. Some random group had heard my name mentioned around town (great), and they called me in for a chat about an internship. So, I decided to meet with them. I thought of it as practice for the imaginary dream job I will attain someday in the far off future when staying in school isn’t cool. This interview was for a sales job (SURPRISE), of course, it was disguised as an internship. I never found out why we met in a church, some sort of cover I suspect, for evil deeds. They told me nothing over the phone beforehand, so of course when I get there they are ready to tell me how it is. First off, they gave me examples of hard work and motivation. They asked me easy questions to get me on their page, feeling intelligent. I started feeling smarter, nodding. They need a real “self-motivated” individual, someone with potential, someone who wants to work hard, and, immediately someone I am not, I stop nodding.

***

Listen, I don’t want to sell anyone shit. I thought about how much I already didn’t want this job because it reminded me of a pyramid scheme, it reminded me of me in 2008 trying to eek by on bullshit and smiles. This Dave guy needed someone to go door to door and sell books; these books were summaries of general topics i.e. math, philosophy, and literature, that easy. I thought about Google and libraries—entities offering this data for free to people who could ask succinct questions— and how this book was going to sell like an all inclusive trip to Nebraska, in January, or worse. I don’t think he knew what he was talking about. He was a good salesman though. He bought me a coffee and we chatted, sold.

***

What I learned from Dave is this: if you think about things a lot, it does something to you. If you don’t know, but think on things it really works out. I wanted to cry for people who did stuff like sell God, or sell books for a living. I think God and books should be free, this means these people are useless. I didn’t want to believe that. I thought about money, how I didn’t care about it. I could make $8,000 they said, and be on the verge of a mental breakdown at the same time I thought. I thought about more work, how I didn’t want it. And of course, I thought about how long I would have to sit and listen to Dave in order to pay off his gift of a medium cold-press coffee. I thought about cops offering the people they are interrogating cigarettes, and how it felt like that. I wanted the door. Time was up. The other kid he was interviewing had a good excuse to go, I didn’t.

***

I told him how excuses were for those who built houses out of straw, and then the interview was over… He said we think alike. I guess I was uncertain about that last part, because I think a lot, and he spends too much time working. I told him I would call him, which I won’t. I hope he doesn’t hold his breath on it. There was a nice day outside to be had. I ended up riding to the library and putting my ephemera in local magazine boxes, these were free things. That is the kind of work I like to do, I thought about it. I hope others think too.

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What are you going to do about it?

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Generally, I avoid conflict and situations of adversity… though I enjoy a good conflict, and some adversity. Today I found that conflict, and sort-of adversity, only because I was having fun in the name of good, and action.

My side of the story goes:
While walking from one hall to another, reeling from what seemed an endless semester and non-stop course work, some engineering hall (I forget the exact name) to Appleby, I found myself accosted by two young men. They began to ask me questions of why I was doing what I was doing. So, I decided to indulge them: I was doing this because I am pro-choice, I believe in women’s rights, and I believe in abortion (I will not hide those opines). The two, clearly very young men, and clearly very naïve, were extremely intrigued as to why I was squirting water from my Gatorade bottle onto someone’s pro-life sentiments chicken-scratched in chalk on the ground. I mean, firstly, the act of squirting water is always fun, always; whether you are a child or an adult child, and secondly, no one needs to read this propagated narrow-minded shit… these ideas that women only have this option, or that, with their bodies as dictated by fucking laws…

Now, the act of squirting water may seem innocuous enough to the non-chalk artist pro-lifers out there, but let me tell you, you meet the wrong person, and it’s over. These kids started throwing words around like “asshole”, and “what the fuck”, and blah blah blah… My headphones were in, and I was laughing, so their remarks were somewhat hard to distinguish.

These two, one blond in blue, and one, I didn’t get a close enough description of, walked up to me, real close, and exclaimed something to the effect of: HEY, DURPA DURPA DURPA WHY ARE YOURE DOING THATA!?!?! I looked up from the chalky frozen ground and gave them my answer again: I am pro-choice. They went on talking as I started moving along the walkway.

I kept walking as not to be late for class, when I came across another message that looked thirsty for a spraying. I pulled my Gatorade bottle from my backpack mesh and the message was thoroughly hydrated. I thought about what I was doing as these visibly peeved individuals stalked me from behind… I thought about the message, and how much I cared about the message, or didn’t care. I thought about free speech and the idea of my free speech being in the form of erasing this free speech; I thought of the times someone had ripped down my fliers, or erased my chalk writings, and I kept spraying. It was fun, I must admit. It was the act of doing, standing by what I believed in, rather than just saying what I thought, or walking away and past; I did this art which was spraying water, the audience, these kids, reacted as any crowd reacts: loudly.

See, before this inquiry I didn’t really care, well I did—I didn’t like the message that the pro-life campaign scrawled on the ground. After the inquiry, I cared a little. I thought about how the message was too narrow-minded and needed reworking; that reworking involved a trashcan (full of other bullshit, I assume) and some fire. The slogans in question go something like this: a heart is beating (insert estimated time after conception here)… a baby can swallow (insert a point in time before birth here)… I mean, around campus, on the ground, in chalk for all to see—is this art, propaganda, necessary, comical, useful, important, progressive, liberal? I didn’t care, and I don’t, I think these groups need a better tagline—that being no tagline, plus, I had my Gatorade bottle which sprayed water very well, and it was itching to blast. I had to… really.

It goes:
So, I blast the first one, I make sure to get the right words as to make the message completely ambiguous to the pedestrian reader; I take out the “baby” part, so now, in reality, anything could have a beating heart, or swallow. Personification is great. The aforementioned two become more aggressive as they moved closer to my person. They asked more hard hitting questions, why are you doing that??!!?!?! I say: why not? I am pro-choice. My headphones are in, I am walking to Appleby in the middle of Coffman Union Mall and they keep following me and talking, they call me an “asshole”, or whatever, still talking and walking, I don’t care, they keep talking and talking and talking and talking, telling me they are “pro-life”, telling me they are “pro-choice” too—they don’t “know” what they really are—I assume, they continue to tell me things I don’t really care about. I have no problem with these people; I just wonder what they think, and what they will do about what I just did. At that moment, I turn to them and say very slowly: What are you going to do about it? I look them straight in the face and ask them this question: What are you going to do about it?

It was as if their minds were blown. I thought they were going to push me or tell me some lofty religious soaked opinionated answer, but no, just silence. I looked them right in the eyes. And then the funniest thing happened: they both looked at me once more and walked away. It was odd. I felt as though I had inspired them to walk away, I had inspired them to do something. As they walked away, it had nothing to do with the discussion really, I said, “good discussion”. I mean, at least I did something, and they did something.

This event inspired me to be more baffled than anything, why did these people care so much to follow me, to label me an “asshole”, to question me, and then when questioned about their beliefs, only abandon their stance and walk away?

I don’t know if they wrote those watered-down lines or not; I didn’t like the prose, so I diluted it with water, innocent enough. I have no idea who they were or what they stand for, because they stood for nothing. I told them what I thought, and asked them to tell me what they thought, or show me, make change, and they walked away.

The moral of the story is this: I did what I wanted to do, to make change. I wrote with water what I thought. I changed the demeaning message on the ground. I did it and someone else (two young people) complained about it to my face. If they wanted change they could have told me what they were going to do to change it, or maybe do something right there to change it, or maybe be inspired to do something about it and make change in the future… the thing I find the most confusing, is when given the opportunity to make change, especially in regard to their own opinions and beliefs they walked away. They didn’t say anything other than that I was an “asshole”, they didn’t offer any solution or insightful discussion.

Their reaction was to label something and then walk away.

Now, Appleby Hall is apparently a counseling center for women, my friend tells me. Do we really need that kind of motivation written on the sidewalk coming up to a building with such an office, with such a resource? Perhaps not.

I think you can believe whatever you want to believe—do whatever to get others to follow that idea, but telling someone they can or can’t do something with their body is out of bounds. It might seem easy enough to some, and it might seem perplexing others, but who should control your body? Also, if you truly believe in something stand up for it, and do something—take that offered opportunity.

Spraying a water bottle may seem childish, ridiculous, or immature, but it changed the mind of two people who had to change their minds and walk away.

I love spraying with my Gatorade bottle, and I love good discussion.
***
I like the word: Schadenfreude

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The Security Door

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The blue security door leading outside keeps on opening and closing, it slams loud, abruptly. A ghost walks through it. This apparition is faster than darting eyes, faster than reverberating sound, and above all, faster than objective belief, confusing.

I sit listening to a comic, Bill Burr, speak on helicopters and planes and grown men making feminine sounds; the laugh track fills a deserted room, I am silent and I am funny. Sometimes I hear planes fly overhead, sometimes my apartment shakes.

The door to the complex slams again loud, and there is no one walking away, no in or out, the only presence is the sound as it slips into a low hum and goes into the next—goodbye. At times people come through, an abrupt noise, and then nothing. Some people sit and watch, waiting for what’s coming. Others are moving on.

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Und So Weiter

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At times a passage can encompass an entire novel; this is in reference to time and data, and what becomes of both together. For instance, while walking in the cold between halls on the way to class my boot lace came undone. I looked down, inspecting below at the snow and ice and loosened lace, and said aloud: SON OF A BITCH! Students walked around glued to their smartphones, stuck in their music, or in general avoiding me; as a river would a rock. My grandfather had used this same phrase endlessly throughout the day when I was young and I would ride with him. Now, as I bent down in the broad-daylight of the winter sun I heard a familiar voice say, “Hallo!” I turned to see a German professor I had had the previous semester. He said, “Happy New Year…” and darted away on the sidewalk, his backpack slung over one shoulder. I longed to catch up and chat, but alas, I knotted my laces and took my time. That was an instance; I thought of my grandfather and German Language Studies, and of the movies my professor had been in (A Serious Man). This phrase became a short passage, a novel, inspired by a bootlace. Son of a bitch, I thought, und so weiter.

***
It was fate.

Kind of like the best photo-bomb ever.

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