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11 Years Ago


I

A mind can be so cold. This machine that works day to day like clockwork. Tic Toc. Just running on sheer desire to exist; an autopilot. Each Tic denotes a thought and each Toc is the action, or the consequent non action. We can do or we can do nothing. Believe what you will, call it fate, magic, destiny, but I�ve seen too many people who don�t have control over their own lives. Personally, I believe it extend from laziness or ennui, it seems to me that people want to be controlled to a certain degree. They want to be told what to do and how to act, they want a daily habit. People walk day to day as if to break from routine would lock the gears in their mind. As if a tiny screw is lodged in their brains and gets jammed in the wheel. Yes, well I guess I�ve seen this too. Ever meet those people who just aren�t all there? Well, you could say they are dreamers but they aren�t, I doubt they can even hold a thought. It�s people like that that make you think �What the hell happened to this guy?� and the Tic that follows is �will I ever be like that?� A mind is a beautiful thing to waste. Ignorance is the cost of indolence. There is more to living than merely existing. What we really should be asking is who created the machine in the first place? Or an even better question, who is controlling the machine?
It�s s**t like this that plagues my mind as I take my half an hour nightly walk home. Passing the bums, who by the way aren�t doing much worse than I, yeah, they might be bums, but at least they are free. How do they differ from monks who beg for food? Besides the fact that they might enjoy their occasional drink. Meanwhile the wealthy men and women walk on the other side of the street, oblivious to the world that surrounds them. Everything is so closely related in this world and people just choose not to see it. People love to believe that they are independent, let them try to survive on their own and their foundation will begin to crumble, maybe even hard enough to knock a screw into their machine. So what if the bum has made some wrong choices in his life and the rich man, by sheer luck, was born from a family where Grandpa was a �go getter� in the 30�s, made some money gambling with his life�s savings. Things could easily be the other way around and nobody is able to see life that way. Okay, well maybe a small percentage can, like Oprah or Angelina Jolie, but who can honestly know their real intentions and everybody else gives to charities so they can write it off on their taxes. This isn�t a plea for you to go out and give all your �hard earned� money away, you can save it for your spoiled children. The children you smother so much they don�t know how to deal with life when it hits them in the face like a brick. I can�t help but wonder why I think about things like this. I have my own job, my own life and my own relationships. Life just seems to short to live by such a routine.
I finally arrived home being kindly greeted by the elderly women at the steps. I can�t help but think about how she has led her life and the things she has seen. She�s old enough to have lived through the great depression and World War 2. Did she have a sweetheart who died in the war? I don�t stop to ask her, to be quite honest, I don�t think her hearing is what it used to be and I don�t feel like repeating the same question ten times to get a response of senility. I walk up the clich�d creaky steps to my apartment, 24b. The walls of the apartment are cut into two segments, red on the bottom and a cream colored triangle design on the top. It�s hard to imagine what this place looked like 60 years ago. That new home smell, fresh wallpaper and rugs, friendly new neighbors and the landlord who brought you a slice of pie on Sundays. If only all things could retain there beauty the world would be so different. The wallpaper is torn and cracked in a few different places and I don�t think it will be fixed anytime soon. The rug is ripped up showing the stained wood panels underneath. It�s the kind of place where you have to wiggle the key back and forth a few times before the door will actually open. It�s the kind of place that if the Devil wanted to renovate the building he wouldn�t have to change too much. Then he could put a big sign out front and call it �The Damned� with a little subscript that read �Hell, a great eternities stay is just a few sins away.� To think, 60 years ago, people actually wanted to live here. To think, 60 years ago the old lady on the steps was in the prime of her life, waiting for her hero to return. At least she could indulge on Sundays with a slice of homemade pie.
It takes me some time to realize that I have a message on my machine. I didn�t notice it because phone calls are a rare event in my life. Although I have a number of friends nobody seems to use the phone nowadays. I hit the play button and after a few seconds of scattered sounds a familiar voice resounds with hints of desperations.
�Hi D, listen, I really need a place to stay tonight, if you get this in time, please give me a call when you get this. I�m at John�s, thanks Dean.�
It was Jeannie, she was in a fight with Roger again. When I say fight I mean fight. Don�t get me wrong, I don�t mean that he beats her or anything like that. A fight consisted of Jeannie finding whatever she could get her hands on and throwing it at Roger�s head. This included dishes, a paperweight, bottles and sometimes utensils. The fights always ended by Roger locking her in the bathroom, packing her bags, and then kicking her out of the house. She would always calm down and come return in a few days but she always thought it was necessary to stay at my place while she cooled off.
All in all Jeannie was a good girl but she�d had her fair share of troubles in life. She was kicked out of her house as soon as she turned eighteen, this is what she tells everyone anyway but the truth of the matter is that she ran away. Her father was a drunk b*****d who would verbally abuse her and on rare occasions it would become physical. She hid this secret for years and as I�m told, I�m still one of the only people who know about it. I asked her once if that was the reason why she gets so hostile with Roger but she seemed hurt by the question and didn�t answer.
They say we all get what we deserve in life, I hate to tell you, but that�s bullshit. I�ve seen too many people with good, kind, and loving hearts get hit with the blunt end of misfortune and far too many scumbags hit the lottery of life. If there is a God above, I�d certainly like to meet him. Maybe I could study him for a few days and bestow my whatever fortune I feel he deserves upon him. Don�t get me wrong, I�m not saying God doesn�t exist, I�m saying that if he does he�s got a funny way of showing his affection.
I picked up Jeannie later that night from John�s house. She had all her things with her, she said it was bad this time and that she didn�t want to go back. They had been fighting about financial troubles, she told me they hadn�t paid the rent in two months and weren�t going to able to afford it, they were going to be evicted. You can�t help but feel sad for people like Jeannie, people with good hearts who just can�t catch a break. It was a beautiful Saturday night, Jeannie fell asleep crying on my shoulder as I watched the city skyline. I must have fallen asleep too. I had visions of Jeannie as a child, a happy child with loving parents and a good life. Things can change in a heartbeat, poor kid.

II

I�m not preaching some altruistic bull crap, I know that it is not only unfeasible but almost idiotic to think that everyone can get along and live happily ever after. This isn�t some fairyland. It�s funny though, we build ships that can travel under water, ships that can fly through space, yet our personal relationships never seem leave the ground or break the surface of the water. Don�t go and drowned yourself there buddy, I�m speaking metaphorically here. We don�t reach deep points of understanding with each other. Even married couples have little idea of what there spouse is truly thinking.
Of course, work further progresses the routine of the machine. Getting up everyday and doing the exact same s**t you did the day before. This will go on and on until some outside force breaks the routine. Working in a convenience store isn�t really all it�s cracked up to be. I can�t say that I hate my job because, as with anything, good can be found if you just look hard enough. It also helps that it pays most of my bills. Being here allots me the opportunity to speak with many different people. Some of whom aren�t just going about there days entrapped in a heavy fog. You can learn from anyone if you just listen. You can learn from the bum, the limousine driver, the chef, the bartender, the business owner. Everyone has a lesson to teach, something that holds true in their life. Yes, it is easy to see that you can learn from a bum exactly where he went wrong as you can learn from the lawyer exactly how he earned his money but is money the basis of life? The simple answer is no but this would obviously create chaos. Should we measure a man by the money he makes? Who says a lawyer is a better man just because he makes a decent amount of money? Who would you trust more, a man who greets you with a smile everyday and waves a friendly hand or a man so caught up in the development of his riches that he barely sees his family because of the endless hours of work? Anyway, back to the convenience store. Today an elderly women, the sweet kind, the kind you wished was your grandma, came into the store. She�s a familiar face, once a week she�ll come in and we�ll discuss books until the store becomes busy.
The day seems too long and the night too short. Sometimes I think the world just seems to speed up while I�m sleeping. It don�t believe it�s gods doing though, it�s probably the government. Well who�s to say that the government isn�t God? It seems to me that it�s the ultimate goal of the government� to be �God.� Government creates all the moral codes, the social norms, it teaches us how to act and if we don�t follow it, well, we aren�t going to survive and thrive. I really don�t care what they do,



III

Monday:
We all know Mondays are hell but this particular Monday was quite literally took on the form of Hell. I arrived at work a couple of minutes late because I couldn�t sleep the night before. I tossed and turned, the night felt perpetual. So of course on mornings such as these the snooze button on my alarm clock is a Godsend. When I finally arrived at work the power was out, oh yes, it had all the makings of a fantastic day. I eventually found out that a few blocks away a power line had gone down and hit a gas main, luckily there was no explosion instead fire poured from the mouth of Hell. The storm drains were leaking gas and when the power line made contact the drains were disgorging flames for hours. They say when life gives you lemons make lemonade, I guess I could have made Smores with my fire. The electric company shut down the power lines for a few blocks so I was working in dark, selling papers by candle light.
Every customer who entered the store asked me �is the power out?� this is how the general conversation went:
�Hey, it�s dark, is the power out?�
�No sir, I�m trying to conserve energy, I am doing my part to prevent global warming. And you, sir, should do the same.�
�� can I still buy lotto?�
Some of them looked to me as the leader of a noble cause while others just gave me a look like I�m a b*****d. Maybe I�m a little of both. My noble cause is that of logic, or rather that of non-ignorance. And yes, I am a b*****d but we all are at some point in our lives.


IV
A homeless man, who I have seen a countless number of times, approached me and asked for some spare change today. I�ve known him for around 6 years now, he carries around his guitar though I�ve never seen him play it once. He�s very up to date on his homeless fashion too. The disheveled hair, ragged clothes, weary eyes, and an overgrown beard. He could be a model for the cover of The Homeless Times or The Box Man�s Monthly. Anyway, I wasn�t surprised when he asked for change, this is a normal occurrence and I usually give him what little loose change I have in my pocket. Today when I withdrew my change, I also happened to take with it a guitar pick. On seeing the glorious sight of this apparent �holy� guitar pick, his eyes light up like a storm drainage, or more like a napalm explosion. He went into a frenzy telling about his new form of rock n� roll called �Droll.� He told me it was going to make him rich and famous. I told him that I hope it does, I gave him my guitar pick and asked him to remember me when he�s famous. He assures me he will.
I guess we all have hopes and dreams, things we want to aspire to but how many of us actually get there? My own Droll is still in the works. I am still waiting to achieve what greatness I posses, if any at all. Well, what greatness can one aspire to when they work at a convenience store? I�m not on the verge of discovering a cure for some disease that�s plaguing society. I�d most likely be the one to catch the disease first. And unfortunately, I don�t think they give out the Nobel Peace Prize to someone who gives his spare change to a bum.


V
It seems as if everyone is so caught up in the routine of life that nobody is truly living. We do as we are told and act as we are suppose to act. When was the last time you saw a grown man or woman jumping through a field in the park? If you have witnessed something like this, which I myself, have not, did you not think they were crazy? Is this how a grown person is suppose to act?
Everyone spends so much time wondering what happens when we die. I wonder, why wonder? It doesn�t make very much sense to concern ourselves with the afterlife. This doesn�t mean that we should live our lives without morals. Simply put, we should do good for others, not only because it makes them feel good, but because it makes ourselves feel good. We transcend to a different level life, one of giving, care and love. Or you can just sit there and not care.

Today I woke up pissed at the world. I wasn�t mad at particular event or action by a government official, it was just one of those days where I didn�t want to see anybody or do anything. Of course when I have a day like this I have many obligation that I�m suppose to fill. To make a long story short I did what I could and just waited until it was late enough to try and sleep. Of course, on days like these, something always has to happen to push you over the edge.

We have so many choices in life. That�s what life consists of, choices. Although they are never easy to make and no matter what you choose you can never really know if it was the right choice. This is where regret comes in. regret is when we have the power to decide and no matter what decision you choose there Is always the thought lingering of �did I make the right choice?� but you can never really know what would have happened had you chosen a different option or path.
Every decision we make is like taking a step. You are in a wide open field and every direction leads to a different ending. Each decision has the power to change your course in life. Although we do have a little control over the direction we have facing in life, the majority of it is up to sheer luck. For example, the right person at the right time can play a single lottery ticket and win millions of dollars at the same time someone can spend their life�s savings gambling and never even come close to winning. It�s funny the way things work.
What we do have control over is our own outlook on life. We can regret the steps we never took and become burdened down with �what ifs?� or we can live our life in this moment realizing that every step you have taken has led you to this point and every step you will take in the future will guide you through your life. This is your story, you are the one writing. Be conscious of every step you take to bring you to the point you want to meet but remember you can never really tell where you�ll end up. A seemingly bad decision may open so many doors for you that at the time what would have appeared as a good decision may lead to pain and struggle.
I�m glad that in the rush of everyday life there are still places you can go to observe beauty. A simple walk on a trail through the woods can bring peace and clarity of mind if you let it. I walked for a few hours the other day, returned to where I started and watched the sunset. It was the most peaceful I had been in a long time. Life is so busy that we sometimes forget the essence of beauty and peace. Do you remember the carefree days of your childhood? Could you imagine maintaining that sentiment throughout your life? I�d like to know what that�s like. I�d like to meet a person who�s achieved this. Unfortunately they are probably all locked up.



This really isn�t much of anything, just my machining spinning some wheels.

�Lets face it young man, never get old, always live and hope.� �Life isn�t so bad.�

My only prejudice is for ignorance