A Return to Earth
Stream of Consciousness #15
For the past few nights, I’ve been staring at the apartment building that is across the way from me. In between us and my fellow compatriots, there is a treacherous parking lot (where I once saw a drunk driver back his car into the kiosk where you pay for spots. He then proceeded to lurch around the rest of the lot and tumble his hunk of death metal down the steep ramp, running his tires on the curb and bottoming out his Hyundai Sonata. I watched it all unfold like a merciless spectator, and didn’t offer a shred of aid or wisdom to the doomed sot. I hope that guy made it home okay, and if he didn’t, well I weep for his soul nonetheless) attached to a city power plant, that one day will mysteriously set on fire and blow up in the face of the mayor - just kidding, it’s a joke! A joke, Mr. FBI agent. Surely you’ve heard one of those before. Or are you too cool for jokes? In your black hat and black bomber jacket and perfectly tinted Aviators. I know those Aviators haven’t seen a proper sin in years - if they had, they would be scratched and bent and warped into another dimension. What a loser! Let yourself go every now and then Mr. FBI agent! Cheat on your wife. I won’t tell - as long as you don’t tell on me for committing petty crimes and researching hidden passageways under the city.
Anyway, for the past few nights, I’ve been staring at this damned apartment building as a way of re-grounding myself in reality. Because recently, I’ve been doing a plethora of thinking, which is like eating nothing but junk food for a month when it comes to my well-being. I’ve been doing a lot thinking, but not much writing or observing. One might say I have been a zombie these past few weeks, or a normie, permanently high on the bath salts of life’s white noise, drifting through the sea on my raft with nothing but a volleyball to keep me company, with no direction, no end route, no rendevous point with my squadron, hoping one day a shipping barge will accidentally run me over, or even better, hook me to the anchor and drag me through the water like an overthrown dictator.
So my exercise in conscious, eyes-wide-open meditation is an attempt to overcome a common ailment known in this line of work - I won’t state exactly what ailment that is; all I can tell you is it starts with the word “writer’s” and ends in the word “block” (in reality, writer’s block is a load of bullshit. At this point in my life, I am not reliant upon my words for providing for myself or my future family. I don’t need to write, so why would I have a block? Of course, that is a rhetorical question. I do need to write, not financially, but spiritually. And if I needed to write financially, then writer’s block would simply be known as underperformance. A general laborer can’t skip work and expect to get paid because he wasn’t “feeling it” on that particular day - bullshit).
And I can tell you right now that I have not seen a single interesting person, object, or occurrence during the few hours of my intentional gazing. The building is simply too far away for me to make any meaningful observations - yes, I am attempting to directly stare into the windows of my neighbors - and you should too. You’re telling me you’re going to take a stroll down through the neighborhood and not glance into a single house with the blinds drawn? Nonsense! You could be missing out on a whirlwind of a story. A snapshot in time into the (literal) window of someone else’s life. A domestic dispute. A few kids dicking around while mom’s not home. Mom changing after a long day of work. A guy passed out in his recliner with a half-eaten Hungry Man TV dinner and 6 empty Corona Lights piled up on the TV tray while X-Files re-runs illuminate the dark room. This is the kind of information I was searching for when I began this exercise.
Well, I lied - there is one peculiar apartment that sticks out like a mildly sore thumb. Most people either have their blinds drawn, or have the standard lighting setup in their digs. But there is one unit that took an entirely different route with their interior decor. Yes, this resident decided to go with the classic “trip chamber” aesthetic - string lights, tapestries, and a blue aura radiating deep from the inside of the living room, giving off a vibe that you might only see at the silent disco at Electric Forest. You take one glance at this person’s living quarters, and you immediately sense that something strange is happening in that room at all times, whether it is drug abuse, transcendental meditation (with the aid of drugs), an orgy (fueled by the power of drugs), or an eerie yet vibey pregame (with plenty of drugs available for your pleasure).
Perhaps I am being a bit harsh in stereotyping this cave dweller as a drug guy/girl. After all, Tony has been known to dabble with the finer powders and pills on the rare occasion. The most likely archetype that inhabits this mysterious world is someone that I am probably friends with (or at least a friend of a friend). There have been a handful of times when I have been coerced into attending a pregame at a place exactly like the one I had described - it is always someone you barely know, have heard strange things about, and yet you are still drawn in by the allure and possibility for danger and/or play outside the boundaries of your comfort zone - the quirky lit major, the basshead, the guy who is always bubbly and happy for no apparent reason (drugs). Whatever the backdrop may be, you always go in with low expectations and leave pleasantly surprised.
But I digress. Staring at this stranger’s trip chamber the past few nights has given me the inspiration to write this very piece, as strange as it is. In the past, my ideas, ramblings, and streams of consciousness have stemmed from roaming around in this doomed world and extracting as much as I possibly can from its lodes before it implodes and succumbs to the inevitability of time. Telling stories, reminiscing, pursuing women and winnings - all great ways to be a great and interesting writer without actually picking up a pen or touching a keyboard. And yet when I ventured out to the local arts festival by myself yesterday, I found myself not only at a loss for words, but at a loss for thoughts. Overstimulation is my sweet spot for idea generation, and yet as I perused the vendor tents and live music selections, an unfortunate wave of nothingness rolled through my mind like a summer squall line, and my senses were dulled to a point where I couldn’t even answer basic interrogation questions. Who are you working for? I don’t know man. And the drill in the side of my skull just isn’t doing it for me anymore.
It was in those few moments of strolling through the celebration of human spirit when I realized that I needed a reset - well, not a reset, but a reframe. A change of scenery. Like a disgruntled ballplayer in the beginning of his career who goes from benchwarmer to MVP candidate all because he was shipped off to a different team down the road - a fresh perspective.
And it worked - we’re currently well over 1200 words in just over 45 minutes of full court press, balls to the wall, nonstop typing. Is it any good? Fucking beats me. I’ll act like I don’t care if it’s good, play the tough guy, brush the cigarette ash off my leather jacket, and lean agains the brick wall of the junior high while cat calling girls 3-5 years younger than me, but deep down, John Travolta does have a heart, and Grease is an underrated film.
At this point, good and bad are two words that do not need to exist in my vocabulary. What matters more than anything is consistency - not so much in scope, but rather in deliverance - shots on target, like I always preach to my own choir. A week off might as well be an eternity. And there will be more weeks off in the future - that I can guarantee. Just like I can guarantee that there will be more storytelling, more living vicariously through my own heartbreaks and triumphs, more altering of reality. But for now, I need to get back on track, and the first step was the cleansing of the palette.
One final thought before I fuck off for the night. Writing is 99% thinking, doing, living, and 1% manifesting those words in physical medium. Don’t fall in love with the physical aspect of the craft - fall in love with the craft itself (and also fall in love with the dirty blonde sitting catty corner from you at dinner). Everything around you is material - potent ingredients that you can add to the cauldron to create your own riveting, intoxicating witch’s brew to lure in readers and overall followers of your cult. To write well is to live well, and to live well is to not think about writing all the time; rather it is to accept the fact that no matter what happens to you, so long as you are standing on two feet when the dust settles, it can and will be a story to tell. Critique and self doubt are not real, nor is the dirty, royal concept that you must write for a specific person or group of people (also known as an audience to many hacks in this space). And when in doubt, you can always take a break.
Actually, no you can’t your world must be on fire, multiple….
Thanks for reading.
(Last thing - the above paragraph was my best attempt to conjure up half-baked platitudes in hope that someone pull quotes my essay and spreads the good word of Tony. I don’t really mean any of that - well I do, but don’t take it so seriously anon. You and me are in this together, after all, and we just re-fueled on last time before mission control officially ships us off for Mars. Are you ready?)
Humble Wordsmith, Disgruntled Youth, Syllable Merchant, etc.