Moment of Serenity at O’Hare

I am literally in the safest place right now. Let me explain. The entire bus ride to the airport I’m nervous that I’m going to have the shittiest costume at the Halloween party, and being Muslim at an airport, its a sealed deal. But my parents worked really hard on my costume so I can’t changto I opted to ride the bus by the way for environmental reasons. I ended up being the only passenger. I had a whole bus to myself. I might as well have kicked mother earth in the balls. The driver and I talked on the second leg of the trip about work and women, and I got to feel like I had the common touch a la Barton Fink. She was Puerto Rican, and basically said take your kids to church AND give them real talk about sex.

As I arrive at the initial security checkpoint, I am nervous. And let’s be real, it’s because the TSA is another blue uniform to me. The terror of a bully in blue is a simple one. If I do not comply, my life my freedom is over, erased, gone like a fart in the wind. I have no intention on suicide by cop, so I need to comply by all costs. But what are my orders? I don’t know the procedure, I just have a vague idea–this is my first time flying alone by the way. So I do what I think I’m supposed to do with the commands given. Thank God the officer only yelled at me for messing up and asking questions. I collect my belongings from the conveyor belt and move aside after the three-point check, as to keep the nonexistent line moving (it was around 10:30pm, crowds were sparse). This moment kinda feels like the ALDI checkout where after they have your money, you just have to move your chaos cart out of the way, and take a second to gather yourself as a human being, and process what just happened. By the time you have your shoes in your hand feeling like you should have made the investment in a pair of OdorEaters, the next person is already done judging you hard on your feet that smell like sadness.

So I’m done. I just take a second, shoes still off, in the nearest chair that’s far away from where I just got my feelings hurt by mean TSA man, luggage scattered in messy orbit, I breathe. I text my parents. I decide to pray. What a wrong decision.

The mind is a mosque. I can pray anywhere I damn please, but for me personally to feel respectful/mindful to all, the first step of prayer, I like to secure a space instead of assuming like own it and just going for it. I check the info guide boards, ask around for the chapel. It’s in an inaccessible area post-TSA. No good. I see a Yoga Room available in my terminal. That space will do. Namaz and yoga are the same thing; body contortions with the aim of god consciousness. When I start asking around for the Yoga Room, literally every employee I asked had no clue there even was a Yoga Room! My favorite was the guy at the information desk. When I asked him, he took out one ear bud and said, “Aww, man. I’m just waiting to punch out.” I started laughing because that’s so refreshing and honest. It’s exactly how I feel about life sometimes. He pointed me to the TSA guys, and I decided not to use the guys watching out for our safety as customer service and just called customer service. It turns out the Yoga Room is also in a inaccessible place, post-TSA.

I didn’t get upset, I just kinda accepted with a half smile that there are far more places to eat and shop and consume than to practice spirituality in America.

By the way, when I am in town and its prayer time, I don’t go home. I’m on my bike, how can I? I just stop by the nearest church and ask for a space and a bathroom, and the two out of two different churches have been chill. Small towns, huh, who knew? But walking in that door is nerve racking. I wish there was like an interfaith pray space symbol that could reduce my anxiety. I’ll get Eboo Patel on it. That dude shook the President’s hand. And the President touched his butt with that have. Therefore, Eboo Patel shook the President’s butt.

I had to turn to churches, by the way, after the library turned me away, and god bless them for doing so. I’m pretty serious about keeping secular ground given the infringement factor when neutral territory isn’t held, but as a result I didn’t pray in my public high school because I couldn’t. The time infrastructure didn’t accommodate it. How about frequent dedicated free time where students can just mess around and some can pray by choice, others can make art by choice, and everyone just does what they want before they go back to doing what they have to do. Micro-recess. Speaking to my own life, when my want-to-do and need-to-do balance were off, I was just an unmindful garbage human being because my heart wasn’t in it. I still am human garbage, but I struggling to be aware of it now.

So yeah, after a failed search at a prayer space in the secured section of the airport, I retired to the food court– undefeated, because I used all my internal resources. Its about midnight now and I just can’t do McDonald’s, a late night choice. My tongue wants to, but my heart just knows that labor is hell for someone, because it was hell for me. But I’ll cover my post-college career in another post, remind me. So I go to the only other late night place, Dunkin Donuts. The lady is so far from giving a shit it could be measured in lightyears. ‘How can I help you?’ Oh god, that question. I don’t know who she is so how would I know how she can help me? So I treat her like a fucking robot of the economy. I ask for decaf, she turns to the empty pot behind her, and tells me no decaf. I’m not going to not drink decaf, so I ask her to make some. She does a two step procedure, pushes a button, BOOM. There’s decaf. Where were her internal resources? I asked for decaf, why didn’t she make that happen right away, why did I have to ask, like she’s my servant? Why others do anything is always up for speculation, but I sense it was because I treated her like a robot, she acted like a robot. ERROR PC LOAD LETTER, not IBM’s Watson kind of robot. The lady looked like she could be my auntie, and I wanted to ask her where to pray, but instead I just got some garbage coffee and a roll. That’s how she helped me.

So I’m here in the gate waiting for my flight, Indian Classical on Pandora. Super mellow. And when I finally have a moment to just kick it, I realize I am in the safest place America has to offer. There are no drugs, no weapons, no evil people, just assholes (and assholes are assholes because they are rushing). All that was weeded out. No one is looking at me different, like back home in Valpo…because I passed. And I just needed the time to take in the serenity of airports.

upcoming posts

i’m going to depart from my text-only style for just one post. the other day i was driving and did not have access to my notepad and pen. i wasn’t going to not take notes so i turned on the voice recorder my cell phone and started to take audio notes as i was behind the wheel. the idea behind the post was simple. i wanted to answer the question ‘how does my mind work?’ so i just kept talking with the intention of putting up the raw voice memos, accompanied by the final blog post. real simple concept. fyi: the post being about being fat, what that means, and how i feel about it. however, later that day i was hospitalized on my own volition to stabilize what the emergency intake coordinator said  “a manic episode, with awareness of being in a manic episode”.

so yeah, i inadvertently documented the flightiness of mania, my mania specifically. and i want to share. i’m recruiting my friends amy and emily to help me process these raw voice memos because (a) more perspectives the better (b) they were in this with me. who do you think took me to the hospital and held my hand when i asked?

UPDATE: No one wants the flour, they want to cake. So I’m going to step away and bake for a bit.

The Strange Layers of American Democracy

Who can run for president? To my grade school understanding, any citizen over the age of 35. However, not every citizen runs for national office, or even local or state office. Why not? Well, it goes back to the question of ‘who can run?’ Again, any citizen over 35. Now, let’s add a hair-splitting question to this loop. Who is able to run? Any citizen over the age of 35…who can afford not to work with their time.

The strangeness gets deeper. Any citizen over the age of 35 who can afford not to work…..AND can afford to go on vacation across America waving at people. Shit, no wonder it’s slim pickins when the time comes to pick.

The candidate pool is layer one. Now, layer two is the office itself. Imagine you were working for a company for eight years. You finally got into the swing of things. You’re getting things done because you’ve figured out how to navigate the system. Now, imagine that company says to you, ‘Ok, you’ve been with us for about a decade. Now, go get the fuck out out of here and never come back.’ This is exactly what the presidency is. Why is there such a high turnover rate? 44 presidents in 226 years. That’s like getting a brand new manager running the place every 5 years in the midst of senior employee Americans. I’m not supporting monarchy, or even the romantic Socratic vision of philosopher king–which is bullshit anyhow, I just want the old guys to train the new guys. Form a president school or something. Or the 2016 candidate can make Obama, Bush, Clinton, H.W. Bush, Carter one of his vice presidents. Training the successor should be a part of the job. I want someone with experience, not some fresh baby-face-rich-from-income-earned-without-sweat asshat that is fresh from vacation.

Two notes: It’s really fun to take a dump on Socrates, because it’s fun to be a hater. Secondly, H.W.’s health isn’t so good, last I heard, my thoughts are with you, man.

Oh, and a third note: Watch any presidential debate, with the understanding that it’s a group interview. So much chest-beating and slamming the other guy. It’s hilarious. I think the candidate should stand in a room one at a time and every American that wants to ask a question gets a chance to ask a question. And the candidate can leave when there’s no more questions. Then bring on the next candidate from a different door. And just keep the process going until everyone is interviewed. But really, there is one relevant question that I would ask. I would stop with the campaign promises because you don’t know the future, how are you making plans for it? I would just ask one question. What do you think the role of President of America is? Not what it should be, but is. And if I agree with that thoughts on the role, then I’ll vote for them.

Oh, one last thing. Term limits are bogus. Why can’t Bush or Obama or Clinton run again? That’s a limitation of freedom as a private citizen. These three dudes spent years thinking about our freedoms, but who is thinking about theirs?

Islam

Islam is 1400 years old, but how do you personally read the packaging? You can either approach it with an understanding that has been patiently aged for 1400 years, with an understanding that’s from the 1400’s, or an understanding who’s 1400 years really does show.

Islam is among the finest of wines of which there are many, and whatever your preferred vineyard is, we’re all getting drunk on dhikr. How classy of a drunk are you?

This is all I want from my Muslim brothers and those in brother costumes: ask yourself why do you pray? yes, you.YOU. why do you personally pray? “Because I have to” isn’t a reason because it’s not true. “Because I have to” is an excuse, an excuse to perform prayer. Did you perform your prayers today? And who did you perform them for?

To my Muslim sisters, all my Muslim sisters…including the ones not in the sorority through meaningful self-exclusion, or otherwise:  I have nothing to say to you because I need nothing to say…to be there for you. I just want to be there for you, because it’s my job to be there for you. If we don’t take care of ourselves as people, as human beings—who is? Give me another chance to be a brother to you, just make yourself open to me. And I know it’s going to be hard, because the last time you made yourself vulnerable, your brother threw it in the trash. Well, it’s garbage day. The trash is gone. And there’s an empty trash can here waiting to be filled by us. And yes, I know, men are the keepers of women. But have we really been doing a good job? We have been keeping you still stupidly, only so we, the stupid, can keep up with you. Men are the keepers of women….and women are the keeper of men, and everything else in existence. We stand guard of you while you give us something worth guarding. We will watch you while you watch yourself illuminate the world.

:-)

Jazakallah.

beating it

You are with two friends. You enjoy their company, but naturally, you feel more comfortable with one friend more than the other, for whatever reason. Now, imagine this friend, the more-friend friend, steps away for a moment. So you look at the number 2 option and realize that this is the first time you have been alone together. It’s a little uncomfortable because you don’t know what your common threads are, outside of a group dynamic. To relieve this anxiety, you start to masturbate right in front of your friend. Your friend sees you masturbating and starts to masturbate to. You finish masturbating because it occurs to that you want to know your friend’s opinion on pizza.

Okay, read the above scenario and simply replace ‘masturbate’ with ‘check your cell phone’. The two are fundamentally in the same category. Both masturbation and checking your cell phone are personal, one-person activities done with a frequency proportional to your boredom and desire for instant gratification.

Now, is this good, bad, or weird? I don’t think it’s any of them, but I think we just to be aware of what were doing with the very limited time you have with the people you know. Personally, I think it’s fine to masturbate, so it’s fine to check your phone. But there’s a time and a place for everything. Just apply the same rules because it’s the same thing. Fuck it, just try it. Try not-checking your cell phone…without a reason….while you’re on the city bus. I’m going to try that myself the next time I find myself on the CTA. So yeah, check you cell phone for a reason. And masturbate for a reason. Hahaha, masturbate for a reason, with reason, for reason itself!😀 Just kidding about that last one. But you could though. You could do anything.

While we’re talking about masturbating, here’s a loose thread I’m tacking on here: I was worried when I was drawing parallels in this thought experiment that I was revealing too much, but then again, who cares? I certainly won’t go into detail of my process because that’s reserved for my partner (who I don’t have….awwww😦 ), but it is simply a statement of fact: I have masturbated. And so have you. Everyone masturbates. Or has masturbated.  And I mean everyone, like in the history of time! From Homer to Barack Obama…all masturbators!

So yeah, masturbation is a thing that happens. Some people think it’s a bad thing, therefore there’s other people that think it’s a good thing. I just think it’s a thing, part of biology. We excrete tears and turds and pus and piss and blood and sweat, let’s just add cum to the list. Women cum too, but I don’t know what a de-gendered term for cum that isn’t medical.  I guess I perceive the word cum as male because I see that a lot more often.

But I don’t see masturbation as simple as that though, biology is just one dimension. There’s psychology too. Execration feels good sometimes, but pooping, I don’t think, is tied to a reward system (maybe/maybe not?). Either way, some people tether the frequency of masturbation with their discipline. I think if I did that, I don’t think I can last long enough to earn the first chip….unless there was a 15-minute no-masturbating chip.  That I could totally do, maybe. But I would totally trade it in for a chance at a masturbation bender.

I don’t habitually masturbate. And I don’t deliberately not masturbating either. I have no noble purpose here. Stopping yourself from masturbating by deliberately not masturbating is weird to me. If you want to stop, for whatever reason–personal or social–is your own, just remove it from your normal. Know what your normal is, don’t try to manufacture a whole new one, and just drop it what you don’t like.

I joke about the wacking-off bender because, for me, self-control has always been about restrictions, but really, self-control is just another way of saying autonomy——or human agency———or power, really.  Power. I can’t think of a scenario…because I don’t want to try right now… where a top-down use of power did a better job than a bottom-up approach. I suppose matters of public health, environmental health, and the like could benefit from top-down, but still, bottom-up is still a factor. But yeah, this top-down approach in regards to masturbation is a person dictating their genitals. But is the opposite seriously any better? Your genitals dictating you, a human being? I don’t know. Personally, I don’t think about it, I just masturbate whenever I feel like. And I feel like it when I feel like it.

dad and time

I don’t know how things got so bad. My parents did what they can with what they had. My dad’s not a deadbeat, and my mom isn’t a saint. Those narratives are too simple. They were human beings with flaws. My mom didn’t know how to listen, and my dad didn’t know how to talk. My dad had so much inside of them, but I didn’t know. I had no idea. I just assumed he didn’t. And I’ve been treating him like that, for a long time. I’ve shared so little with him. I didn’t even give him a chance, and it feels like I’ve shared nothing. Now, I realize how much time I missed out on with him. And it hurts. When I look at it, it seems time is in such short supply. I don’t have enough time. I didn’t have enough time. There still is time. But I don’t know how to use it. I don’t know how to spend time on my dad. I’ve tried and he has tried in the past to do what we have seen. We went fishing, in the neighborhood lake. But that was weird. It was too deep too fast. I don’t spend minutes with this guy normally, then we went fishing? Just the two of us, alone? I feel like I need to introduce myself to him first. But how do even do that? The only way I can think of is to sit in a room together in silence and just wait for the ice to break. How do you do sit without the context of a TV interrupting?

Dad, I need to spend time with you. I need to show you I love you before you go away forever. I can’t live with this hole in my heart anymore.

That’s what the note will say. I will leave it in a place for him. I will let him come to me, on his own time, after he processes it. Why can’t I just talk?

UPDATE 2/24/2015 10:30PM: I only wrote that note in my mind. I saw my dad this morning in the kitchen. We were there for our own purposes, but we were there together nonetheless. And to think about it, we did have a together purpose. We were each getting breakfast, but just having a different meal because we we’re going to have different days. My dad was eyeballing the bowl of fruit, thinking about what he wanted. The kitchen fruit bowl is always filled with stuff, and there are no need for staples in America. There are common occurrences like bananas and apples, yeah, and oranges are a regular guest star in the bowl. And when I see an orange in the fruit bowl, it’s exactly how I feel when I see Cosmo Kramer burst into Jerry’s apartment. Other fruits, like weird fruits, show up to in the bowl too. Corrected: The fruits are not weird, they’re just weird to me. My dad recently brought these microbananas to the table….which is actually a bowl in this case. But I have no idea what they are in a textbook somewhere, but I’ve been calling them microbanans  because that’s what they look like. To me, they taste like really good, subtly sweet banana pudding. Hmmmm, it just occurred to me, like right now, it is banana pudding. I took a bananathing and made it pudding my mouth. Everyone everywhere eats pudding, just different kinds of pudding. Anyway, my mom says baby banana because that’s a word has come out of her experience and is functional. So anyways back to breakfast in the kitchen with my dad, I was loading the Keurig with my own beans using some supercontraption Nicole gave the family. (I have a still functioning Keurig model 1.0, but I really can’t wait for when Keurig comes out with Model 42.0, because I subconsciously enjoy the distraction of buying different iterations of a thing I already have that totally works fine and who’s only deficiency is that the other thing is just a thing that those guys spent more time with. A Keurig 2.0 is the brother who got more time therefore attention investment from your parents. He is great, but his greatness is independent from the fact that he’s also a little bitch. I’m Keurig 1.0. I work just fine. I’m not as fancy because I’m not fancy, but can do fancy things.).

Wow, the length of that parenthetical……I don’t know either, but I am aware of it.  But yeah, I was in the kitchen doing my thing. And Dad was in the kitchen doing his thing. I looked at him, at this face, and I said hi. And I smiled. That was it. And now, there hasn’t been any demonstration that things are better between us (we’re not going to ball games or anything), but things feel better between us. And I feel that this a place that I can start to demonstrate, demonstrate love.:-)

THANK YOU AND FREEDOM

If you enjoyed a certain string of words I needled together in this medium, here, take this stuff with you too.

It was a pleasure, not pleasurable, to write what’s on my mind.

It’s a privilege and a burden and a privilege to even have the opportunity to write.

And the greatest moment of this fulfilling and fatiguing merger of influence and experience is this part right here. Letting it go. The moment the contents of my mind weren’t just on my computer screen anymore, it wasn’t only mine anymore. And by the end of this sentence, it’s now yours.:-)

You are free to do what you like with what you have. Again, you are free to do what you like. Again, you are free to do. Again, you are free. Again, you. <—–That time didn’t mean anything, I’m just clowning around.

The point still stands though, you are free. Learn to use your freedom, don’t just have it. Using your freedom  could be point of it maybe, but the learning is the hard of it and the bulk of it for certain. Not learning is not an option…for you, unless you make it one. And if you take that path because you have to go down that path, you will learn the inside of your eyelids is a dark prison, but please, do not harm. And not harming is helping.