Things that are bullsh*t

In my 45 years on this planet, I have learned that a large number of things I was told while I was growing up are simply not true. So, I decided to make a list.

Blood is thicker than water

Not true at all. Family are people you happened to be around more than other people. Probably because some of them just happened to be at the table when the food was getting passed around. A major clue people should have figured out on this is that everyone knows someone who is a complete asshole. There is a distinct certainty that this person is someone’s son, daughter, cousin, aunt, parent, etc. There’s a good chance they are an even bigger asshole to the people that are forced to pass them the gravy at dinner.

You can’t choose who you love

Actually, you can, and really you should. Truth be told, you do. You make a conscious decision every time you interact with that person whether or not to give them affection. If you aren’t, then you should consider contacting a witch or someone who can remove the spell that has been cast over you. Because if they are screwing someone else, disrespecting you, hurting you, or even flat out ignoring you, you are the one choosing to “love” them. The same applies to all relationships. Kids, parents, spouses, friends, or just anyone. Signs that you aren’t making this choice include small bottles containing nails, hair, urine, or other personal items that you randomly find under your bed or under your porch. Seek professional help.

It didn’t use to be like this

No, it wasn’t. Sometimes it was worse. Though the world is inundated with “woke” people, Karens demanding to see the manager, rabid conservatives, and social injustice at every turn, I have never seen someone lynched, I haven’t watched someone beat a mule to death in the street, the local warlord hasn’t rounded up the town virgins for prima nocte. There aren’t people impaled along the roadside and left to the carrion birds. And the story of the “Little Matchgirl” just sounds like a hyperbolic if not morbid Christmastime story, rather than current events. You aren’t suffering the same ways that people in the past have done. You are usually just inconvenienced.

Karma is going to bite them in the ass

No it won’t. That’s just you hoping bad people will get their just desserts. They won’t. Even if they did, they won’t see it that way. Truly awful people go around in this world reaping the benefits of other people’s misery. The villain is the hero of their own story. The only people “karma” affects are good people who thing they are being punished for something, when it really has nothing to do with anything other than shit luck. They work for a long time to pay pennance. The reality of it is that karma never works because the people deserving the shit end of the stick has no more concept of wrong doings that deserve cosmic punishment than a yellowjacket that stings you for wearing red.

You can only be loved as much as you love yourself

Not true. Sometimes people love us in spite of this. What we can all hope for is we realize we need to catch up before we miss out. Loving ourselves is a good way to make sure that we aren’t making those who love us miserable. And it’s a good way to not be an attention thirsty trainwreck incapable of reciprocating that love.

It’s okay to let go of yourself

One of the biggest excuses for the way people behave is when others–usually of the younger generations–make the excuse for them that they are “just old and set in their ways.” As though adulthood is like emerging from a chrysalis and letting the first brief years harden your wings like sunlight and wind.

I’ve been watching a lot of Tiktok videos lately, and though I feel like I’m getting some agency from the GenX tiktoks, there comes a point where I get to realize the other part that made GenX a good generation to be from. Back when I was coming up and the Baby Boomers were complaining about these feral children that they had produced when they were all off with double incomes and bucking the traditions of their parents which seemed so oppressive, my generation had the best luxury since the Lost Generation. We didn’t quite feel like we fit in with any of it.

A generation of ramblers, gypsies, hippies, disillusioned, disenfranchised, renegades. Nothing was ours and also we got to sample from the best history had to offer. We had the golden ticket. We were swimming in the chocolate fountains, we were doing all the stuff Willy Wonka was hoping would kill us, and yet by then, the chocolate factory was abandoned. Outsourced to China where they could cut costs by firing the Oompa Loompas and using about a billiion Chinese as their slave labor. We grew up in an abandoned chocolate factory.

So why is it that today, I’m finding that sometimes the newer things are a little bit scary? Could it be the instant prejudice of “Okay, Boomer” and even in this age of female empowerment, women are called out for how they part their hair? Jeez. It’s an unwelcoming place, this world. So much for inclusivity that these little creeps are marching in the streets for all the time. And before anyone says “It’s only a joke,” that’s usually what abusers say right after they’ve done something unforgiveable.

It’s easy to let yourself harden off to the world when new things seem so unwelcoming. I still listen to mostly 90’s music, which I consider possibly the greatest era in music so far. Rick Beato would agree with me and show you exactly why this is true. Well, with the exception of all the other great stuff that is coming out these days. I particularly like the singer/songwriter music that is out now.

I have had conversations with my good friends at Dutch Bros. about music. It’s good to know that I am pretty current in bands I love listening to that aren’t from the 90s (though the influences and pedigree are there). Daughter, Tame Impala, Glass Animals, London Grammar, Kat Edmonson, the Black Keys, Iron and Wine, etc. So the other day, I was looking through albums at Walmart, which sells vinyl now. Yes, vinyl is superior. I get to be a music snob. I’m 45.

There on the shelf, I saw a double live album that was a favorite of one of my closest friends. The Zac Brown Band. I had to be honest, I had never heard a single song of theirs. After my experiences in dating in recent years, I guess I just tossed them in with Nu-Country, which was a staple of an ex-GF who wore the frayed cowboy hat and drank Fireball at the annual rodeo, before returning to her secret identity of a stuffed shirt professional. I didn’t care about guys named Brett or Rhett or Chet and their old t-shirt or “I’m Comin’ Over” or stuff that sounded like watered down top 40 from 1988.

Boy, was I wrong.

She sent me a link to her favorite Zac Brown Band song and it reminded me of old-school country I grew up with before I was whisked away on a cloud of drop-D melodies in the Grunge years. These were some truly talented musicians, not just pandering to swarms of buckle bunnies in their distressed hats puking bad cinnamon flavored whiskey into port-a-johns.

Honestly, I felt a little ashamed, since I had closed off to something new and made a judgement without trying it for myself. I’m glad I got schooled on this instead of lamenting the breakup of Led Zepplin or why Jeff Buckley had to be taken from us so soon. Nearly 30 years ago.

A pro to my generation is we don’t listen to the conventions of the others. We just do whatever the hell we want. It was good to be rewarded for that once again. Keep challenging yourself. Don’t let the sun and wind harden your wings. Keep growing. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

Do a cannonball in that confectionary wonderland. It still gets to be yours.

Ego

With my travel writing lately, I have been experimenting with different types of voice. My blogger voice has been very…well, what you see here. At times funny, and usually just conversational in tone, like I’m just shooting the bull with friends. Recently I started reading the Years Best in Travel Writing anthology for 2018 just to see what kind of work is out there and what is being considered the best.

I can say this much. What is being considered noteworthy enough to get into anthologies isn’t the same kind of stuff you are seeing in blogs or in listicles on Buzzfeed about “Top Five Places to Get Drunk in Mexico”. These are well-crafted essays that often exceed the standard attention span of about 600 words that list type articles and how-to articles get in other places. Some of the stories I read were very literary, from a veteran returning to the streets where he and his buddies fought a firefight in Kabul nearly twenty years before to explorations of American iconography in the Midwest.

Lots of these stories explore race, cultural differences, and probe the depths of what is going on in the human experience, rather than ways to upgrade your room at an all-inclusive resort/spa at Turks and Caicos. So recently, I sold an article that was inspired by these more literary expositions. It was challenging to write this way, even though there were times I felt like I was back in college writing MFA quality essays.

The benefit of writing in this MFA style is that I can make the story more cinematic. It’s a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. Rather than just musing about how dirty a bathroom might have been at a National Park. However, those types of articles also have their place and purpose.

I think what struck me the most was how pretentious a lot of these travel essays sounded. Either the acrobatics of choppy sentences with evocative language or the smarmy condescension of the educated elite, looking down their noses at Americana. The fucking egos involved with a lot of these authors. One guy even insinuated that he met someone in a hotel elevator for a one night stand in a small hotel in South Dakota.

I wonder if that was a callout to everyone who teased him in high-school for not having a girlfriend. Nobody cares that you slept with some drunk woman you met in an elevator, and nobody cares if you think gas station burritos and refridgerator magnets are quaint.

There’s cutting to the core and there is self-agrandizing masturbatory writing. As any good dad will tell you, I’m not mad…just disappointed. About halfway through the book when it all read like a college composition class, I checked out. The thing about good writing is you need to check on your ego. It’s a lot like when you paint a room and about a week after you are done, the light might hit that floor just right and all you see are the dollops of paint that made it past your throw cloth.

I can see why people don’t read as much as they used to. What is considered “The BEST!” is usually pretentious or just sounds like it should be good. You can call it foie gras all day long, but at the end of the day, it’s just goose liver.

Today I am really tired. I guess I just don’t have a lot of patience for this kind of stuff.

It’s a fine line to walk.