Sunday, December 07, 2008


...likely to be unveiled at some point in the next 48 hours, The Great Cave Offensive's NBA Enrichment Catalog. All the news and views to satisfy any devoted reader who'd have Charles Barkley's back in a fight.

Popular demand.

It's rare that anybody comments on these things, so when I found that somebody had requested that I be a bit more prolific with the blogging, I figured it'd be downright callous not to oblige.

The sad truth is that there isn't much in my life that I have a huge amount of verve to talk about, and my observations on the world are running a little dry, at about the same rate as my finances. Despite my disdain for money, I can't argue that it can rule my world, at least psychologically. If I had a Scrooge McDuck style money vault, I suspect I'd be a healthier person mentally. The amount of time I dedicate to thinking about the years of destitution I have ahead of me is pretty impressive.

I was somewhat distressed to learn that the system for getting a Medical interview (low income health insurance) is a bit thrown together. The scheduling is on a first come/first serve basis, and since I've been unable to sleep lately, I've never had the energy to drag myself out there and wait around an hour to beat the crowd. I'll have to go Monday, mainly because my body can't really absorb the alternative; more on that later.

There's no relief to be had in basketball. The last few years I was able to escape periodically into the scattershot, exhilarating world of Golden State basketball, as for nearly a calendar year the Warriors fielded a team and a style that very nearly entered the pantheon of cult favorite hoops squads, if such a pantheon exists. One short offseason later, and Baron Davis is gone, Monta Ellis is injured, Stephen Jackson is playing like a Doberman with a psychological weakness, newcomer Corey Maggette is making me tear my hair out, and Don Nelson is affirming the age old danger of giving guaranteed money to alcoholic old men. Andris Biedrins is a real delight, simply because with each great game he's vindicating all the insisting I did to people that he could be a top ten center. Brandan Wright should be starting, but you never can tell if that'll happen with a lunatic like Nelson at the helm. It took a year or two, but I finally understand why this guy leaves teams with such a bitter feeling. And with his contract extension, the bitterness is going to get worse before it gets better.

I had an incredible physical breakdown a week or so ago. My arm began to ache and I lost all feeling in one side of my face, as if I was having a stroke. I went to the emergency room, where a balding doctor, a chubby male nurse, and a masculine but still reasonably sexable female nurse informed me that my blood pressure was fine, my EKG was fine, and that I either had a pinched nerve, or was simply breaking down due to stress. The female nurse seemed to favor the stress explanation. As time has dragged on, though, it's become increasingly clear that there is something tangibly wrong with me; the back of my neck periodically gets stiff and wooden, and aches with a dull pain. The second I have the money, I'll be seeing an acupuncturist recommended to me by a friend who's quite familiar with back pain. Until then, though, I'm in the unpleasant purgatory of drifting about injured and lame, trying somewhat desperately to find a nice, interesting woman who wants to go on a date with a guy who possibly has the spinal cord of a sixty year old.

It's worth noting that despite the morbid tone, I'm not particularly morose about most of this. The Warriors anger me more than anything, and the pain scares me. The money depresses me in a societal sense, but I don't hitch my own worth to cash, so I'm not feeling that down. I need to get into shape terribly, though, as I've gone quite soft from inaction, but my array of aches has made my normal fitness routine next to impossible. Maybe I should take up shark wrestling.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I just now...

...went to the gym, and warmed up, then did some leg extensions on the weight machine- but then i started to get woooooozy. I started to lose touch with reality a little and stumbled home. I don't feel too well; not entirely true, I feel peaceful, but odd. I think I need to take an iron supplement next time to keep my brain from slipping out ofplace.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

About love.

It was about one in the morning when I found I'd had about all I could stomach. I'd been trying to write, but between my roommate playing an aggressively annoying video game and a deep creative malaise, I was a bit beside myself. I opted, therefore, to go for a walk to clear things out.

So I wandered the streets for about forty-five minutes, in a meandering criss-cross with no particular objective. I had just resolved to head home when I heard a faint jingling noise getting louder by the second. I glanced over my shoulder to see the tiny outline of a cat, practically galloping over from a couple blocks down a well lit parking lot.

I immediately knew I was in trouble. Cats are my weakness. There is absolutely no better way to distract me for a long period of time than by putting a cute cat in front of me. This situation proved no different. Against better judgement, I crouched down and waited as it ran over to me. It seemed incredibly affectionate, which suggested to me, along with the jingling, that this cat had a place to call its own. I gently reached below it's neck and looked at the name tag. It read Lucy.

Lucy was being phenomenally playful and lively for this late hour. She spent a good two or three minutes there on the dimly lit sidewalk with me, jumping at me, meowing happily, and licking the back of my hand as I'd scratch her neck or stroke her back. For those few minutes, I was maybe as happy as I'd been in months, just me and Lucy playing around at two in the morning.

After this went on a little longer, I realized I needed to say my goodbyes and get out of there. I've desperately wanted a cat my entire life, but my mother's allergies, and now the security deposit figures on my apartment, have always made that impossible.  The downside of this cat brightening my life for those brief moments, I knew, would be the deep melancholy that would set in after we'd part. I wouldn't be able to shake it for a while. It always happens when I'm around a sweet cat. And this one was making like she'd known me all her life.

I gave her a quick nuzzle goodbye and rose, spinning on a heel, determined not to end up in too morose a mood. As I expected, Lucy trotted after me for a few steps before stopping. I kept going. Then, after about twenty seconds, I heard her collar ringing again and looked over to see her following me, not behind me, but walking alongside me down the sidewalk. At one point she darted into somebody's garden, so I'd figured she'd reached her home. She continued strolling alongside me through the garden, though, and then leapt out and trailed me a bit more cautiously as I walked up the steps to my apartment. Sure enough, though, when I looked down at my feet as I was digging around for my keys, there was Lucy roping around my shoes. My roommate was still up inside playing Final Fantasy, so the lights were all on. As if sensing an invite, Lucy parked herself in front of my door, occasionally crooking her head at me and meowing.

I was in agony. Maybe not complete agony. Just partial agony. But I knew what was and wasn't reasonable as far as the situation was concerned, and as much as I'd fallen for her and wanted to let her in, there's a big ethical leap between somebody's kitty following you home and you letting it come inside. That's straight up catnapping. Or at least a concerted attempt to cause cat stockholm syndrome.

I knocked on the door and my roommate opened it for me. I excitedly showed him the adorable creature staring wide eyed into our apartment from behind our screen door. "I've got a cohort," I told him, grinning.

"Oh, hey," he replied. If he was interested, he was doing a good job hiding it. And that somehow made me feel worse. I opened the screen door, and edged inside, shutting it behind me. I stared back out at Lucy for longer than I probably should have; prolonging the goodbye was just masochism at that point. I felt like I was going to cry; it was the same basic emotion that would normally cause me to flush out the old tear ducts, but I was somehow too aware of the oddness of the situation to let that impulse reign. I closed the door softly, not wanting to scare or surprise her. I think on some level I wanted her to remember my apartment fondly. As sad as I am now, it'd be terrible never to see her again.


After this was written, I heard a jingling behind my door. I went outside and played with her on my porch for another fifteen minutes or so. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for punishment when the crime is that cute.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Why I get out of bed in the morning.

It's a trick title. Given my lifestyle as an unemployed youth who's obligations, both paid and unpaid, come in quick bursts, it's not unusual for me to be out late into the night and rouse myself a little past noon. That said, I trust the spirit of the title will remain intact.

I've found myself approaching a saturation point as far as the presidential election this year is concerned, but it hasn't been a process that has left me bored or cold with the whole thing, but rather it has pushed me against a psychological wall. The stakes, for me, seem very high to begin with, obviously. I view the potential of a McCain/Palin administration as about the least attractive thing since, well, the Bush/Cheney administration, except it'll be a new dynamic of awful so I won't be able to deflect the indignity of it all as easily.

My big concern though, and admittedly selfish one, is that if the GOP's gamble pays off and somehow voters are so charmed by Sarah Palin that they swoop into office, I'm not sure what will happen to my brain. I think I might suffer a legitimately damaging psychological or emotional trauma from such a happening. It speaks to a general distrust I have of the values and voting records of a portion (I guess a large enough portion to deliver two heavily contested elections) or the country in which I live. It's an isolating feeling; I've grown up in the Bay Area my entire life, which is irrefutably one of the biggest liberal communities in the United States, and while I tend to think of my own political views as being developed and not inherited, it does create a jarring sort of dual experience. 

I have never, over the course of my life, been in a large room of people who I knew were political conservatives. I've probably never been in a room where there was a half and half balance in a large group. So I've grown and thrived in an environment that, if sometimes more in intention than in function, reflects many of my views and desires in the political realm. This creates a brutal contrast, though, when a man like George W. Bush is elected. I was just fourteen his first year. I had, even at that point, identified him as a cancerous politician. The idea of voting for a man because he seems like your buddy that you'd invite over to a barbecue struck me as stupid at age fourteen, but apparently carried enough weight to land Bush in the white house. Granted he dealt with some last minute tumult in Florida (you can likely deduce my stance on that situation), but he was in, and now I had to live with him.

I started out hoping the best that I felt I reasonably could hope; that Bush would be a terrible president (which was a certainty), but that he would be most impactfully terrible on people other than me. There ought to be a limited number of ways a jackoff president can screw you when you're a white fourteen year old with a passable amount of money in your wallet, I reasoned. And for a while there, it seemed like I was correct.

One morning I didn't get out of bed was September 11th of 2001. I was, gosh, a sophomore in high school then, so I guess I had Social Issues first period. My then girlfriend was in that class, and I was starting to smell blood in the water that she might dump me. I was exhausted on top of it, and didn't want to face the school day, so I lamely suggested to my mother, who had knocked on my door to wake me like every morning, that I was tired and didn't feel like going to school. Oddly, she and my dad offered no protest. I would learn after another three hours of slumber about the World Trade Center going down.

After the attacks everything about the Bush administration took on a familiar, sinister edge. It was the edge of a type of power that I could find no philosophical agreement or comfort with. This feeling towards the president, and indeed a feeling which perverted what I considered the office of the president to ideally embody, has stuck with me from then till now. From when I was a fourteen year old starting out in high school to now, I have lived under the Bush administration, and I've hated it. I've hated what it's done to our country, what we've done to other countries, and what it's done to my optimism. There's been such a constant downpour of offensive stink off of everything I've watched this government do over the past eight years that I find myself incapable of relating as the next election looms near.

I realized it was becoming a problem during the Republican convention. As I was driving home, I listened to Rudy Giuliani on the radio, enticing the St. Paul crowd into the chant of "drill, baby, drill!" I punched the radio off in disgust. Minutes later I strolled into my living room to find a woman from Alaska, among others things, thrash community organizers, cause I guess trying to do good work in your community is, uhm, stupid? And then I listened to a slate of pundits talk about how energizing and transformative her speech was.

All I can say is... really? This again? All of these folks are going to vote, again, for somebody who boasts little to no stated policy positions, but seems like a good ol' boy from the neighborhood? To be fair, Sarah Palin specifically called out the "good ol' boy" establishment, but that ignores the fact that she embodies many if not all of the values of that group; she's a conservative, pro-life (even if your dad rapes you), NRA sponsored hunter who thinks that global warming in a myth. She's basically a... good ol' gal, I guess? Also, she has too many kids. Overpopulation, man. I bet Sarah Palin was the kind of person who would play Oregon Trail on the Mac Classic and shoot waaaaaay too many buffalo. "You shot 1565 pounds of buffalo... but you could only carry 225 pounds of it back to your wagon!"

In any case, as the election gets closer, I've begun to see a worsening in my nerves. I recently picked up a copy of Obama's book The Audacity of Hope, cause I was at an airport and needed something to read. I was struck rather quickly by what a great writer he is, and in a distinctly different and more thoughtful way than he even appears in interviews and such. I got about a hundred pages into it, and then something happened. I couldn't read any more. I was enjoying the book so much that somehow it didn't feel safe to keep reading. Until I actually know for a fact that that's the man who's going to be taking over, I feel like reading his work is opening me up to sustain an additional wound. If America won't elect an Obama now, after eight years of what's almost universally seen as a train wreck presidency, I can't envision a scenario in which we ever will. And the idea that Sarah Palin could ultimately be what stands in the way, well, that'd be enough to send me to the mental hospital.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Splish splash.

I am presently sitting in my bathtub. The tub is not full of water, though, because it's not a comfortable enough tub to warrant a bath anyways, and it's also 6:30 in the morning. The water would also not be recommended thanks to my obvious desire to blog from a bathtub. So, the question might linger, assuming for a moment that I have living, breathing readers, why?

In truth, I don't have a great reason. Perhaps a rundown of my last twenty-four hours, even if it fails to illuminate why I'm sitting fully clothed in a bone dry bathtub when I should be asleep, will put you in a state of mind in which you can better understand. Or not.

I lied when I offered (or rather proposed) to tell my last twenty-four hours. Well, I didn't exactly lie, but I didn't wake up till two in the afternoon yesterday, so the first chunk of that time is me sleeping in my dirty, oversized bed in my dirty, disorganized room. The recent streak of hot days has reminded me why I cherish the bay air the way I do; I can't help but cure under my breath when I wake up to find I'm already coated in sweat. My room traps heat, and sometimes my roommate who sleeps against the window will not open/close it in the appropriate situation. This particular day the temperature wasn't awful, though.

I awoke to a phone call from a friend who wanted to hang out. This plan, as it turns out, went off without a hitch. Sitting on a couch and watching a friend play a video game while you skim through any and every news article that you can find that day is a good time killer, and it doesn't take a terrible lot of planning. Just one part sloth and one part curiosity. I began eying the clock at around four, and pulled out my phone to place a call. I found that I had a few missed calls, as I forgot to switch the ringer on after the preceding night's rehearsals. I dialed up notorious friend of the blog Carla Zilbersmith to confirm plans we'd made the week before. At 7:00 PM, I left my home to head to Albany and meet her.

I had decided to cross the Richmond Bridge at the precise moment the sun would reflect directly off my side mirror into my eyes. It wasn't dangerous exactly, but I suddenly felt exhausted when the bright glare vanished, almost as if I'd been on a limited stipend of energy, and the extra effort in keeping vision on the road had sapped me. I ended up parking my car an absurd distance from Carla's apartment, mainly because I circled the whole street and block once and couldn't find a better spot, despite the fact that there were plenty of spots when I walked down towards her apartment. I had clearly somehow proven an incompetent parker. I felt reflexively regretful about this when I met up with Carla and her son, Mac- despite the fact that Carla has a motorized wheelchair, there's a certain melancholy in knowing your inefficient parking has inconvenienced somebody for whom transportation in general is clearly more difficult than anybody would hope.

We ended up dining at a very nice Chinese restaurant in Oakland. We ordered three different items, but Mac was the only one who really made a dent; both Carla and I seemed to be grazing through our food, each of us as deliberate as a priest weighing the pros and cons before ducking into a strip club. In truth, while I wasn't phenomenally hungry, I likely wouldn't have eaten that much even if I was. I was much too busy chatting it up with Carla and Mac, which is something I don't get to do often, exactly, although we do cross paths with a decent frequency. For the record, though, the hot and spicy tofu was still quite good.

After dinner we went back to Carla's apartment, and they invited me up for a bit. I went up, had a cup of tea, and continued to shoot the shit, as they say. Mac showed me how to use the webcam on my computer, but seeing as most of my friends with webcams live within a stone's throw, I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of it. 

I must digress for a moment. The hard surface of the tub has begun to cramp my legs. I shifted my weight to help it a little, but I'm clearly living on borrowed (or stolen) time. My legs will soon be numb if I don't stand up...

I left Carla's at around 10:20 or so. I jetted back to my apartment where I spent another few hours chatting with friends and drinking only the finest of chilled, bottled water before they started heading to sleep. Thanks to my late start to the day, I couldn't follow their example; I found myself alarmingly untired. I continue to be. There's a guy sleeping on my couch, so I didn't want to make a ruckus in the living room. There's a roommate sleeping in my room, so clacking computer keys there isn't ideal. So here I sit, crunched into this tub, completing the self-fulfilling prophecy; I'm writing about why I'm in the tub, but the only real answer is cause I couldn't write anywhere else.

P.S. - I also read the first twenty pages of Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope in this tub before grabbing my laptop. I bought it yesterday, along with a copy of the U.S. Constitution and an issue of SLAM magazine. I highly suggest, should you read these three things as I have, that you follow this order: Constitution, SLAM issue, Audacity. It's just better that way.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The church and me.

I was born to a mother who comes from a sprawling Italian brood and a father who comes from a now nearly extinct Irish/Scotch bunch. The mother's side of the family, although it never occurred to me until recently, must have initiated some sort of pressure to have me raised Catholic, because in retrospect, it seems unlikely that sort of thing would've been my mother's idea. While I have no memory or idea what the determining factors were, although I suspect it likely drove a further wedge between my father and my mother's family, I began taking classes in middle school to prepare me for confirmation into the church. The program was called CCD, but I never thought to ask what that stood for, outside of my knowledge that Catholic must've been one of the Cs. 

The classes were precisely the sort of thing I had trained myself to blithely accept at that age. I didn't (nor do I now) bear any particular grudge against the Catholic church, nor did I think very much about the implications of shooing a child towards a particular faith. I guess I understand it now insofar as absolute faith is concerned; if a parent believes deeply that the unrepentant soul will go to hell, they're going to go the whole nine yards to make sure their child is on the holy path. 

The puzzling thing was that my mother never seemed particularly religious, which was the fact that began my questioning of the entire process. While I didn't care all that much that my Tuesday afternoons were being spent in a conference room next to St. Patrick's (being taught religion by the younger brother of former NFL QB Bernie Kosar, no less), I did care about the familial implications of my presence there. My grandmother was in her heyday a somewhat abusive figure in my mother's life, so I naturally began to wonder if the studies were somehow being organized under her influence. At this point, I don't think that was the case, but it made me increasingly resentful of the position I was in.

In the eighth grade, I was slated to be confirmed into the church. The morning of the event I mentioned to my dad that I didn't feel quite right committing to something at twelve that I didn't really have any interest in. My dad reacted somewhat strongly, insisting to me that I shouldn't go through with something like that if I didn't want to. I didn't know at the time that my father had an innate disdain for most religions, as he felt his grandmother's death was the church's doing. Her husband was in the military, and she worried so much for his safety that she went on some sort of blessing pilgrimage that culminated in climbing a hill and kissing the priest's ring. It was, according to my father, a terribly stormy night in which she did this, and she fell deathly ill from the toil and passed away soon after.

While I appreciated that he supported my right to back out, we both knew on some level that it wasn't an option. Family members had gathered for the ceremony. There were people who had cleared their schedules to attend. I was, in a sense, obligated to feign this vow of faith. It wasn't that I flatly denied the faith I'd been taught, but rather that I had no concrete opinion and definitely didn't want to be tied down in that capacity.

I've been pleased to see that my younger brother, who is now eleven, hasn't been run through this system as I was. In a sense I'm envious (which will land me in some hot water if what they taught me was correct), but I also know that the experience was centrally involved in shaping me, so I wouldn't change it, certainly. I think the biggest regret and biggest anger I have is the fear. Namely, the fear of going to hell and suffering for all eternity.

It's not a fear that I really have on a conscious level, because at this point I'm all but openly atheistic, but it is something that by virtue of society I don't think you can really shake. There's an entire line of thinking devoted to the idea that when I die, because I haven't gone to church, been a diligent Christian, and dedicated myself to god and the bible, I'm gonna be set ablaze and eviscerated for all time. That's eternal. Neverending. No human being deserves unending hell. Adolph Hitler does not deserve to be subject to unimaginable pain that will never, ever end. The maximum amount of suffering that a human being can cause with his or her mortal body upon other mortal bodies cannot possibly be fairly countered with an infinity of torture. The entire reason the idea is effective and lingers is because the punishment is so out of sync with the crime.

The fact that, in my most private moments, I still have an inkling of worry that when I die I'll retire to an unending hell is the biggest reason I turned away from religion and have never really looked back. One of my biggest dreads is that at some point in my life, somebody will dupe me into thinking I have to turn to god by scaring me into it. When I'm about to die, I want to appreciate the rest I'm about to receive. Nobody should die worrying.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Manifest destiny.

My efforts to take over the internet continue. From here on out, all my poetry will be posted on this page's new sister blog. This way anybody who doesn't want to read my poetry won't have to worry about finding it here, while those who don't want to hear about me loitering around can visit the new page to see if my creative work is a little more interesting. Whether or not it will be is yet to be decided, personally, I advise caution in taking anything I say with any sort of seriousness or certainty. Without further ado, I hereby present creak creek.