Derek & Cam's Post-College Blog of Confusion, Joy, Geekery, and Man Stuff

 

Trust

There’s a tentative bond between all humans

that faith we put in each other

that we’ll be decent

that we’ll treat each other with the golden rule.

We inevitably make stronger bonds 

with certain people

roommates, drinking buddies, lovers

connections that you rely on.

It can be terrifying, making those bonds;

you feel like a ship docked at port

hoping that the lashes will hold

during even the strongest of tsunamis. 

Sometimes we are afraid to latch

to bond

to connect deeply

fearing that it may someday sever

and the trust broken

along with friendships and hearts.

The only advice I can give is

to be discerning in who you create

more than a passing bond

and to trust fully

those you trust

and to love fully

those who you love

otherwise fear of hurt

immediate or future

may cause you to miss

connections worth having. 

You didn’t ask for this advice

but I’ll give it anyways

because sometimes even people giving advice

just need to hear it for themselves. 

A Buffalo Moment

"I’m sorry you got a flat tire, handsome."

"It’s alright… I mean, it worked out fine, and really, it was kind of like the perfect Buffalo moment."

"…what, did you get the flat from a pot-hole or something?"

"No, it was from a screw. It was just that, while i was out there changing the tire, these two guys walk up to see what’s going on."

"Wait, what time was this at again?"

"It was around 10AM or so. The were older, definitely retired."

"And they just came out to help you?"

"Well, no, they were actually coming back from one of their houses; One of them, Ralph, was helping the other guy, Dana, with some electrical work, they saw me down the street, and walked over!"

"So, they helped you get your tire off?"

"That’s the thing- I already had the tire off, but my jack was too short to get the spare on. So I was sitting there, calling triple-A, tires next to the car, and pretty pissed overall. Ralph and Dana come over, see what’s going on, and Ralph goes right back to his house to get one of the jacks he used to use when he was a mechanic!"

"So, you got a flat tire, and some random old dude who used to be a mechanic helped you change it. That is a Buffalo moment!”

"I’m not even done yet! As we were changing the tire, the mail man rocks up— I was like three blocks from my apartment, and he starts making jokes with Ralph and Dana about how they’re up early and asking who let them out of the house. Suddenly Frank (that’s his name), holds out the package he’s holding and goes, "Derek, I figured I’d just hand-deliver your mail today." I was just dumbfounded— only in Buffalo would you get a flat tire and a former mechanic would pop out of his house just to help you, and the mail man would bring your mail straight to you at your broken down car.”

"Wow… Just, wow."

"I know."

"I mean, that’s pretty much a blog post right there."

"Yeah… I guess."

"Oh, yeah. I forgot. You only write about things that make you sad or angry…. Sangry?"

"That’s not all I write ab—"

"Mangry?"

"It’s just that there’s no thesis."

"….’Thesis’? …Really? I mean, really?”

"Yeah— you know what I mean. What’s the point of writing it without having a point?"

"Isn’t ‘Today I had a very Buffalo moment’ enough of a point?"

"….Yeah. …Yeah. I guess it is."

Karl Ove Knausgaard is Your Favorite Author's Favorite Author

"Hey, this is going to sound incredibly melodramatic, but I kind of really want to say it anyways, because it’s important to me."

I can’t remember if there’s a record of this conversation. My mind is telling me it occurred in a spacious apartment in Boston, when I was visiting home to help my mom out after she broke her ankle. Or maybe it was in July, on a beach in Connecticut, or in the living room of a 100-year old beach house. It probably occurred on Facebook though, meaning, Mr. Zuckerburg and the NSA have a copy of the chat, and  I could always make a FOIL request for it with the federal government. 

Anyways, my memory is telling me Cam had a very serious face on, expecting me to say something that was truly meaningful. 

"I really don’t like when you edit my posts."

We must not have been talking in person, because I can’t remember what could have only been a “Really? I mean, really, that’s what you want to talk about?” expression in response.

——————-

The first time I heard about this author, I remember thinking that it was interesting, but I wasn’t really compelled to read the books. The scene about his father, and the furor that emerged because of it, caused a sensation that reached the New York Times, or whatever news outlet was my main source of information at that point (maybe even reddit, which fed me this piece as well). 

I didn’t really understand the anguish the author felt. I thought what he was doing was really incredible— important even. In an age where we have so much access into each others lives via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and the increasingly large collection of texts and phone calls locked away in the PRISM- databases in Washington, the way we interact with one another is so superficial. The photos, and “statuses” and “tweets,” and “notes” we share are all contrived snippets skimmed off the surfaces of our lives, cribbed from the larger narrative, sparknotes of “important” events, hiding the deeper, sometimes darker, realities. 

Blogging was always a way for me to feel like I was grounded in an age that requires people to manufacture their lives in the cloud. Unlike Facebook statuses, no one told me that I was oversharing. Unlike Twitter, no one cared that I was wordy. Unlike real life, no one had to wait patiently while I silently crafted my sentences.

Of course, none of my family read my blogs either, meaning that brutal honesty didn’t mean possibly harming important relationships. It meant that examining my life in melodramatic detailed fashion wouldn’t hurt anyone but myself. 

So, of course I didn’t understand the backlash to this author, and I didn’t understand why Cam was sometimes rewording my paragraphs to eliminate any “fucks” that might ruffle some feathers. 

—————————

After Cam outlined how many of his family members read our blog, and how old and cherished some of them were, and how many of them had passed it on to coworkers, and how easy it was to google his name and come to this blog, I had a minor conflict.

I felt guilty for putting my pride, particularly about something as innocuous as rephrasing sentences without permission, above someone else’s needs. I felt pathetic for thinking a few lines about drinking and sex were important enough to confront my friend, and even more pathetic for thinking those changes impacted the integrity of my posts, like I was some sort of wordsmith, crafting beautiful novellas rather than pointless blog entries.

Even so, I don’t think I fully understood his worry. I definitely changed how I wrote, and that guilt definitely impacted how I felt about blogging in general, but overall, I still didn’t understand why someone would worry about words; it’s not like he ever wrote anything bad about family, or even himself, and again, it’s not like anything that I ever wrote hurt anyone by myself— the only damage done by my sentences was to the opinion people held of me.

Or so I thought. 

———————-

There’s a memory that flashes into my head about ten times a day. 

Things aren’t bad in my life right now, but they aren’t great either, and this memory has become an anchor to get through the day. To get through weeks at a time. To make it to a hypothetical future that may or may never materialize.

It’s tantalizing; a reminder of a day that was probably my favorite 36 hour period in the last six years, my most cherished part of a vacation that was the most amazing trip I’ve been on since college, visiting 70% of the most important people in my life. 

I want to describe it to you. I want to describe how the sun shone through the windows, how I pulled the sheets over my head and fell into a translucent alternate reality, and how the beauty of it all, including the person I was with, still makes my eyes water.

But I can’t, because it’s not just my memory. I don’t have ownership of that moment; I share it with someone who I care so deeply about, that to even attempt to describe it would be doing her a disservice, and the experience would be cheapened by inviting others to glimpse it, would be reduced from this beautiful memory to an act of voyeurism.

I mean, she hasn’t told me that. She hasn’t said it would hurt her to talk about things that occur between us. 

Yet, even focusing on the good things, the beautiful things, would feel just as wrong as if I aired out our dirty laundry like some gossiping high school girl on Facebook. It would feel wrong to abuse the memory we shared like that.

——————————

In a similar, but not so similar, way, it feels wrong to abuse this blog that I share with Cam. On one hand, I feel troubled knowing my posts may have caused him distress; on the other, I feel like I’m less inclined to write here, partly because of how discouraged I was knowing we didn’t view this space the same.

Maybe though, the discouragement was more that Cam didn’t share my view of this blog as a safe space, somewhere we could delude ourselves with chimeras of boundless grandeur, with ideas of “literary integrity” like real big-boy authors and actual artists. I know I was deluding myself; that the one or two encouraging remarks, or the fleeting “favorite” on a post, was the equivalent to adoring reviews by the New York Times.

Maybe Cam never embraced that delusion, and had always seen it differently than me, but after that conversation I traded my chimeras for realities of little worth; I wrote less and worked more. 

Even that just signified new delusions; taking a harder job with fewer rewards based on the promise of future potential, both financially and personally. Sacrificing current personal happiness for possible opportunity later.

But now I’m relying on memories to sustain through realities, and the one place I felt comfortable sharing those thoughts, I don’t know how to interact with anymore. The things I want to write about don’t just belong to me, and neither does the space I want to write them in.

——————

Maybe that’s what’s so seductive about these memoirs. How the author didn’t need to give up those delusions; how embracing the narcissistic view that people want to hear about your banalities and minutiae, and especially sniff through your dirty laundry, has brought him more fame and recognition that he could have ever dreamed. 

Though, maybe, the article is more of a cautionary tale. That even after indulging himself, after sharing memories and stories that were not just his to tell, and destroying relationships in the process, he still wasn’t satisfied.

With that in mind, I hope you don’t mind, I’ll keep my memory to myself, and I’ll only include one “fuck” in this post (though, now I suppose that makes two). 

And now that I’ve dabbled in reawakening chimeras, it’s back to the bitter realities; exchanging long, rambling posts about nothing, to long, drawn-out descriptions of bricks and mortar. 

At the very least, I can do so without the guilt that I may have offended two people who are very dear to me. 

Fuck it— let’s make it an even four “fucks” today. 

(Miss you Cam).

Or think of maybe when you make a post on Twitter, and nobody interacts with it, or when you say something on Tumblr, and nobody reblogs it, or, heaven forfend, when you post a cat picture on Facebook, and nobody cares. None of us wants to feel like we are all alone in the universe, calling out to nobody in particular. And the Internet has made it that much easier to find communities of people we feel like we belong with. But it’s also made it that much easier to hide the pieces of ourselves we don’t really like from those people, when even the act of sharing your deepest, darkest secrets can be a kind of performance art.

-Todd VanDerWerff’s review of the most recent episode of Community.

[Derek]

"I mean, fifty-percent of the fun of hooking up is talking about it with your friends," My neighbor said dryly, trying to keep the mood light. The four of us were in my kitchen, a few drinks in, and only removed from a pretty heated discussion about politics by about 30 minutes.

"Hmm," my roommate said, getting ready to argue the point, but deciding to concede "I mean, I guess the best part of going in on Mondays is asking Amy how her weekend went, particularly all the explicit, dirty details."

I chimed in my two-cents. “Erm, I mean, I don’t know. I’ve never been really one to enjoy talking about my intimacies, you know?” I paused, “I mean, maybe I just don’t have a very good sample size, but I guess I’ve always been more comfortable talking about all my awkward hookups… all the times where I felt like an idiot.”

My roommate laughed, “Ha! All I can think about is that nurse you met on Allen.”

They all turned to me. For a second, I kind of wished we’d continued discussing politics, heated or not. But I laughed, because there was no turning back now. “Well, I haven’t always been the best at reading signals…”

——-

Looking back at the last four years, I hardly recognize myself.

I remember a lot of confusion, a lot of emotions, a lot of feelings, and very few constructive ways to deal with them. This blog, and the blogs before it, were probably the only outlets that did not belong in the “destructive” category. And, considering all the self-deprecation, they just barely missed being lumped in as well.

I’ve always had trouble talking with people about my emotions. They’re often self-absorbed, and overly anxious, driven by a narrative where I am both the protagonist and antagonist, messing up and fixing my life in a cycle that repeats itself ad nauseum. My emotions tend to fluctuate wildly between stagnation and volatility, and they often only come out when I’m alone. Or, as was the case for several years, when I was drunk.

————

"One of the things Jordan said, was that sometimes, when you drink," Lizzy seemed to be piecing her sentence together like a puzzle, slowly sliding them across an invisible table, "you get really angry."

The image of my foot going through a wall briefly flashed across my brain.

"Yeah. Sometimes."

Images of laying in a park while tears flowed down my face, of standing out on the golf-course screaming into the darkness, of walking home from the bar, alone, again, always.

"Only sometimes though."

————

Being in a relationship has forced me to address some pretty critical flaws on my part. When you’re single, you can often fix problems by thinking about them, and writing a little to help guide your brain in a kathartic blast, allowing your fingers to pull the thoughts from deep in your consciousness, to assemble that puzzle word-by-word even while your brain is overwhelmed trying to figure out how all these jagged pieces of cardboard could ever go together.

 I used to write about my problems in order to figure them out. It often resulted in jumbled neurologic ramblings, but it helped.

 In a relationship, you can’t exactly say, “Give me a day, I need to write for a while,” when something makes you unhappy.

 I definitely still have some kinks to work out: I still prefer talking about things that are important to me in emotionally neutral areas. Parking lots. Driving in the car. Sitting on a park bench. Places that reduce physical contact, that lean as far away from romantic as they do from painful, but often have the adverse effect of making situations exponentially more awkward than they need to be. 

Beds and couches aren’t meant for emotionally charged fights; they’re made for cuddling, and kissing, and doing stupid things like staring into someone’s eyes and thinking, “If I went blind in two seconds, I would be happy knowing the last two seconds I could see were spent looking at you.”

————-

That’s the nice thing about relationships; you can write shit like that.

Over the last few years, I haven’t had as much occasion to write about things that make me happy. I mean, I had plenty of occasion to; things made me very happy, but I didn’t know why I should write about them. When things make you happy, what’s to think about? What’s the point of writing, processing, digitizing feelings that are good and refreshing? Why write what is better felt and experienced?

I guess I am still writing a lot. Writing about how good each day feels, how each night seems a little warmer, and the stars a little brighter, and the air a little sweeter. Writing about how my arms tingle with the memory of holding someone, how my brain burns with images of discarded clothing, about how my lips curl upwards involuntarily throughout the day. 

I’m just writing them to someone, not everyone.

————— 

I remember that feeling that VanDerWerff describes. That feeling that you’re wasting your time writing on a blog. That you are putting words that feel saturated with emotions and meaning into a black hole that swallows and obliterates and reassembles your thoughts into something unintelligible, or worse, pointless. That you’re performing a play to an empty theatre.

It sometimes feels as if I had shouted a deeply cherished message out into an empty chasm and nobody heard me.”- Douglas Hofstadter.

Being in a relationship is the opposite of that feeling. It’s feeling like you have an entire stage and an audience of one, and sometimes that pressure is exhilarating, prompting embarrassingly passionate soliloquies about love and happiness, and sometimes it’s haunting, knowing that you have to make your message perfect, because there’s no subjectivity in a performance to one person; there’s one line, and there’s one interpretation. It’s terrifying in ways that writing could never match, but it’s more rewarding than written thought-vomit could ever be.

 —————- 

I’m happy, and I’ve been happy for a while now. Even before Lizzy.

 “Wow.” My roommate said after I finished my story about the nurse. “It’s been a while since you’ve had a night like that. “

“Yeah, it’s been about a year.” I thought for a moment, “Yup. That was last Mardi Gras actually.” 

Since then I’ve taken over a company, moved into a beautiful new apartment, established myself as an “historian,” and begun dating someone who may not enjoy all of my rambling soliloquies, but at least tolerates them. It’s turned my life from an uncertain rollercoaster into an ambling drive along a country road; it’s smooth, and comfortable, but there are still opportunities to speed along empty stretches and make unplanned, and exciting, detours along the way.

Sometimes I miss that energy that only comes from the violent shift from good-to-bad, or from average-to-awkward, that electricity that forced my fingers to fire across keys, channeling memories and experiences from my brain onto a computer screen.

Sometimes.

Mostly though, I’m happy knowing that when I have something that bothers me, or makes me happy, or sad, or ecstatic, or depressed, I don’t have to wonder if there will be someone in the auditorium waiting for me to begin speaking. 

Overall, I’m happy knowing that I’m finally pulling off the bumpy dirt road and beginning to drive along the highway. I’m happy that 50% of the joy of hooking up isn’t about getting a story out of it.

Instead of uncertain ventures out to bars, and rocky (at best) results, I’m happy to have some stability. 

I’m happy looking over at the passenger seat, knowing there will be someone there, even it’s only for a day, a month, a year, or just an hour, to create a story with, even if we don’t share those stories with anyone but ourselves.

"You can’t worry about, as you put it, ‘Having wasted ten years of your life." I mean, most humans don’t get to do work that’s going to last. They sell shower curtain rings, like the John Candy character in that movie. (I mean, the rings might last. But they’re probably not what people talk about after you’ve gone.) So it’s not about what you do. It can’t be, can it? It has to be about how you are, how you love, how you treat yourself and those around you." - Nick Hornby, from Juliet, Naked

well, 17/20 in predictions at the end of the night. Screenplay categories messed me up. Things I thought should win generally won, things I liked won sometimes, and Ellen is the perfect host for an award show. It’s nice that the orchestra didn’t play anyone off this year. Where the heck was Jack Nicholson? I like that Harrison Ford is now making fun of his perpetual growl-y grouchiness. Bill Murray seems to really enjoy his life. Alfonso Cuaron is my favorite. Having these things from 8:30-midnight is an odd decision. I still really really want to see Her. Sometimes I wonder if a movie as purely good and perfect and you know, magical, as E.T. can happen in as cynical an era as our current one. 

Okay, it’s backwards and hard to read, but the takeaway is that right now I am 11 for 11 on Oscar picks and feeling very cool

Okay, it’s backwards and hard to read, but the takeaway is that right now I am 11 for 11 on Oscar picks and feeling very cool

Bagley Icefield - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

That’s SO MUCH ICE. I’ve been spending more time than usual reading about really remote corners of the Earth on the internet lately. Probably says something. Anyway, Alaska has some gorgeous places with basically zero visitation, the Andes are crazy steep, there are tons of uninhabited islands on the planet all have really neat histories of exploration and nuclear waste dumping and the like. And that’s what I do when not applying for jobs.

The Mammoth Cometh

Good writing about interesting things! Even if I’m pretty sure an over-excitable editor threw in that tag line.