Span of Observation

The Mississippi River

The Mississippi River


There is no freedom like under a bridge, especially one that is near a vast and famous flow of water. I have found throughout the years, that I—myself, love sitting next to the Mississippi river on abandoned train bridges, while enjoying conversation, natural beauty, midday summer sun, and a drink.

It’s a place where the rusted bolts and flaking metal panes hold paint as a fading canvass; new works by modern graffiti artists appear over the old, just overnight—as this this cryptic conversation take place, and make way for day. We see love drawn in deep red, contrasted with black, and a “this bridge doe…” in eggshell white, stuck yet dripping. The young night owls, I assume, come out in the depths of twilight darkness and etch their scrawl, bomb a span with shaken cans, and then leave on routed paths.

Sitting on damp uneven, yet smooth, stained stone in the cool shade can take you away while keeping you in one spot. The river flows on below with its flotsam, its debris, its speed—plastic and glass and trash; or wood, and leaves—unknown items that splash. What the vein carries and brings to one’s eyes only adds that much more to sight, now burned in your mind. That entity is part of me; I am also mostly water. How drenched seems the connection.

A person sitting under the massive cotton wood trees on those old fixed block steps can see thick power lines carrying their light, their energy, your computer screen—all of it happens on these bending wires which sway in the gusts of wind. You sit below, ice cold can from a canvass bag—in the middle of a Monday—and imagine those stuck inside, working. What more is there to it, to life? You get time and you should have it.

Under that bridge, hidden from crowds or peering eyes people can converse, explain, a place to feel relaxed and unmolested. Whole worlds can be discussed and dissolved over the time that others call lunch. Pedestrians would walk rustling rock and sand over head on an ill-placed square of plywood, on creosote covered lumber cut a lifetime ago, pretending to jump: look out below!—sticky, what protectant, what adhesive, what remnants on these planks.

Eyes would gleam down, those doing what society may deem illicit: a man smoked a rolled cigarette above, people skipped rocks loudly, others broke bottles (unfortunate); all with nothing to do, free, doing something—any other Monday away. And, here, the best kind of gatherings are ones without evidence—just relatable to recount, unobtrusive, nothing left that wasn’t there before found. Humans are mammals, not litter bugs. Free of that shit, clearing it back to Roanoke.

And the sun chased the edge of the old darkened bridge where angled lengths stuck out cutting a jagged grooved shadow on the spiraling brown currents below. There were cheap seats for a small afternoon audience to take, but only if they wanted to—privy. This motion picture had nature, had dialogue, had beverages, smokes, and snacks, had a national institution going below, churning, and a constant sky above, open, blue, and probably tomorrow’s reflection staring back. There was no freedom like this, nothing like lazing under a bridge.

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On Punctuality, I Want The Job (A Metaphor of the Coming Apocalypse)

Smiley Face, Summerfest.

Smiley Face, Summerfest.


Sometimes I wonder, why do they pay her again? I don’t know. She comes in late, she offers elaborate excuses, and she leaves early only on the days that end in “Y” because of this or that. I would do it too I guess…

Let me go back on this inquiry (curious), this observation (objective). The best part of my morning is this contrived excuse, because it’s as frequent as the smell of coffee just made in the break room, somewhat stale, and it offers me zero insight, really, on anything at all.

I can always count on it to be unaccountable. It’s like bullshit at a rodeo—it’s there but I don’t care.

Sometimes I say I want this job—I do. Why, because I could make up just as many of these excuses—probably better ones, much better, and I could certainly show up late, it would be my pleasure, and I love pleasure…

What’s more, the constant excitement and angst over this situation—(I feel like I’m at a spoken word event—it’s mildly entertaining, and it’s always the same) which is often portrayed or feigned, over what will or won’t happen, is super outrageous…

Why worry—or fake worry? This isn’t an outlier event—it’s predictable, it happens, this occurrence is regular, normal, as a daily shower, as tying one’s shoe, as death and taxes.

You are late, you are upset, and you are probably going to survive (!), maybe, but just barely. I wonder why they pay her, and how much… I am certain it is a lot, more than I—I make about 10 an hour…

I am not trying to be rude; it just comes naturally. And this isn’t a sexist thing, because if one of my male co-workers did this every day I would mention it too. It’s more about the pronoun usage which emits concepts unique to each individual reader—it’s not the author’s fault. Text is alive and authors are dead.

I wonder why they pay her again, honestly. What could she possibly do (I am guessing she does a lot)?

Perhaps, in a way this is the most reliable thing a person could do: be late. Let’s talk about it while I show up early and think on the coming day’s work, because job security is a bitch, and if you want to get on top you have to put in the effort, and then some day you can show up late and tell stories.

See, I am interested in the amount because I do want the job.
I am ready when you are. The question is: are you ready?

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Someones Matter/Ant Farm

God the Seagull.

God the Seagull.

One time there was a time, it was modern and equal. It was one time—that’s a date. Someones thought of something, a grand scheme. Someones are unique individuals, everyone. They thought of streets and cars and oil and gas and stores and foods and jobs and homes and positives.

Then those someones knew other people who thought they were pretty much all the same, except for color (some were purple and pink, etc.), for gender (some had dicks and others had Va JJs and both), for age (alert, astute, and senile), for caste (starving artists and Donald Trumps). There was nothing that wasn’t not different about them, it took them time to notice this at first on picture boxes, power people, and talking heads.

They decided they should all get along, so they did—for a time, one time—that’s a date. Then someones else came along and made an organization—the big fuck-all sort—and that split everyones up—made some someones feel inferior, made other someones feel great, and so it began. So it goes. The war of separation.

One group of someones made items that symbolized worth, they meant wealth and power (power people). Other someones worked long days to attain these said important items, and that wealth, while the other someones with the items passed them out sparingly.

By this one time these someones got perturbed. Both groups of someones hated one another in special ways, and the other groups of someones—someones that were less important hated the other groups even more. There was no limit to the amount of someones’ hatred, respectively.
No one got along, they could not relate to other someones. It was a great time though for some, one time—that’s a date. Everyone thought it was their day, their moment to get ahead, to shine, while stepping on other someones to get their leg up.

One day, another time, a few of these someones realized that this whole framed foundation, this system of someones was just set against everyone being someones together. These someones begged and begged people to see it for what it was, and nothing happened.
More confusion, more picture box, more talking heads, more facts without proof, baseless believed, and power people.

Groups of someones kept contrasting groups, aligning while separating, generally categorizing, and every someone hated every other someone, of course. This lasted for sometime and then someone else thought about it more, they thought about it for all someones…

It was a deep long thought, one to be remember, but in turn it was completely forgotten when passion flared and difference was found. All the someones forgot and kept fighting for themselves.

Nothing ever changed, the only thing to do was to ignore it all. Every someone was ignored for the highest bidding someother someones. Because the more a group of someones thought the more difference they found in themselves with the other someones, and that was how the ant farm fell apart. The someones were so much the same it was all incest and cannibalism.

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American Dishwasher

The best part of washing dishes in a damp red cracked-tile floor kitchen in Northeast Minneapolis was being gifted the most delicately cut, sumptuous, grease dripping, tender and juicy, salt and peppered, prime rib end scraps, sliced thick to perfection, only a few feet away from the saturated wash station.

Now, being paid $8 an hour (an American tragedy), and getting yelled at for menial shit, washing dirty white dishes piled up high to the falling-apart ceiling, getting soaked with corrosive chemicals, having raw, peeled-back flesh on ragged hands, being subjected to schedule changes, proprietor meltdowns, call-in-sick staff, show-up-late staff, give-no-fuck family staff, frequently late paychecks, again raw, ragged red hands cut by silverware, cut by knives, smashed by pots and pans, wet bruises, slippery floors, achy headache air, not wearing the right attire, no gloves to wear, face not clean shaven, constant worrying about being fired, and constant, constant disappointment—you are an adult working as a dishwasher, no one gives a fuck, can you stay late(?), “bad attitude”, all this, and that one end cut of meat on Fridays sort of made the whole position worthwhile.

These prime rib ends, they would be thrown away otherwise—scraps, deemed too fatty, useless for their appearance, even though they had a quality one could savor, discuss, perfect notes of flavor—perfect stock, and hope for, especially remember, and create the best makeshift sandwich out of. They were goddamn good, really.

On Friday mornings the meat would be put into ovens near stainless steel tables which shook with loud squeaks, foreign workers jabbered incomprehensible as they worked understandably fast, torn and tattered monthly schedules adorned the walls, plastic jars of spices on shelves, and uneasy metal racks which stood holding.

Around noon, in this feigned elegant setting (Oooowww, what land am I in?), the finished product would come out as a model on the runway; first came the smell, then came the smoke and heat, then came the cut itself, visibly—hot.

At this time of day I would be standing knee deep in shit-water, slaving, over painted dishes in a grease stained shirt that used to be crisp white, with creases—mute brown dots spread out, worn-out holey black shoes sopped up puddles, and wet pant fronts, the kind bought at the cheap defect store downtown, that hadn’t been washed in two or more weeks—or I forget, held to itchy sweating thighs.

At the end of the early lunch rush I stood scrubbing hard, with hands red the texture of old prunes, dead lobsters, except for they had feeling, wire-metal ball held tight, dripping, people bussed in tubs, “the head chef” Emilio would come sauntering up between the scurry with a big slab of hot grade whatever on a white cutting board, he would look at me and nod—we knew what was good for us, and then he would pass the serrated knife through, back and forth, a piece would fall, then more, and he would pass the butt off on a small salad plate bubbled with wetness. My eyes never left that hunk of steamy goodness. I would stick this little present up on some black grease covered dusty racks behind me, above the trash bin, and wait for it to cool, as to not burn my mouth, as to enjoy my meal.

Moments later my prize would be consumed, chewed up—a knife through butter, butter over bread—smooth, and then swallowed down, almost sticking in my throat, gulp. My mouth would be stuffed, hamster cheek special, and I wouldn’t be able to talk for a time. There was no eating allowed in the kitchen, this was “code”. To say I was satisfied at my feat of debauchery and consumption was an understatement.

The unfortunate thing about it was, this festive event usually signaled the calm before the storm. The inevitable let down always followed after the great peak. By Friday afternoon, depending on if it was payday or not, the place would emptying out patrons, and the family owners would come in, and shit would always hit the fan. Things would get solemn and quiet like at a wake, and then loud, and then real loud, surreal, and then it would become unbearable. By the time I got out at 5pm I felt as though I was being released from Hennepin County jail, I joked with myself about needing a therapist.

It went like that, in the same breath my precious was taken, my ears would be hit full on by a verbal assault from whomever walked it, whomever was pissed off at the moment—the old fuck who owned the place, the lady in charge, or any of their progeny unhappy to be there working, or with something in general. That part was hard to forget, that was part of the job. Everything there seemed personal, and bias toward those in charge.

There was always something to bitch and moan about, some complaint to get behind, but just before that issue there would be a brief moment of life, a brief this-is-why, a brief moment of satisfaction.

The trials and tribulations of a lowly servant reflected seem oddly humorous now, though torturous they were. I was a person just trying to make ends meet, make rent, and be an adult while not going under.

I learned that you can’t know what you don’t want to do without working a job like that, my stepfather always proved right in the end.

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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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