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Category Archives: self-loathing

For starters, I’m irritated because I had a lot of things planned. I was finally going to learn the Chicken Dance. I was going to make my signature brownie & peanut ice cream this summer. I was going to teach myself the sweetest slap bass solo ever right after I learned how to play the bass. More importantly, I had a party all planned for the night of December 20th, 2012 (The Eat-Like-A-Fat-Pig-Before-The-World-Ends Party), which was supposed to be Judgement Day Eve, followed two days later by the Why-Did-I-Eat-A-Cheesburger-Baked-Inside-Of-A-Cheesecake 5K Fun Run. It was going to be awesome. I was going to invite Lance Armstrong.

I’m even more irritated about the beginning of the world’s end on May 21st, as this group claims on their website, because that’s the exact day of Dave the Cat’s birthday. Let’s face it, he’s not a kitten anymore; he’ll be six in human years. That’s about 40 in cat years. Middle age, David. On this birthday he should be taking out a second mortgage to lease a Porche and cruising for co-eds, not dancing around crevasses and avoiding lava flows. It’s a real bummer when a meteor crashes onto your butter cream-frosted birthday cake. And, yes, he will have a birthday cake, but not carrot cake because David hates carrots.

This isn't Dave, but you get the idea. He would look much cooler and have a least three gold chains around his neck.

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So I saw this story on CNN.com a while back. I also read the bible passages they cite and did some of their calculations. These folks have conviction in their conclusions and that’s fine. I cannot say that this group should be faulted for believing in their beliefs. Their right to do so is not in doubt. Their actions, though…

Check this out:

Study this picture for as long as you want, but this is still a custom-painted, doomsday Winnebago. This RV and others like it are currently touring the country. Its drivers wear t-shirts and hats that are no less garish. They hand out pamphlets and talk to those who will and won’t listen. Apparently we’ve come a long way since the old “The End is Near” sandwich board. But with such a loud delivery you’d assume there’s a constructive take-away message, something worthwhile and beneficial.  There must be a call to action. Repent. Find God. Go to church. Be a better person. Something. Right?

Not exactly. Actually, their message goes something like this: a) the world is ending on May 21st, b) your status (chosen or forsaken) has already been decided by God and was actually determined before you were even born, c) there’s nothing you can do to improve your odds, d) but, hey, we just wanted to let you know cause that’s the kind of people we are, e) so, uh, have a great next four weeks.

Okey dokey.

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If someone wielding a hammer asked you to put your hand on a table then said, Hey, in five minutes I’m going to smack your finger with this hammer and you can’t do anything about it, what would you be thinking about for those five minutes? You’d be thinking about how much it’s going to hurt.

So… is that it? That’s what they want us to take away? We’re all out of luck. Don’t start stocking up on batteries and potable water because it won’t matter. Oh, and it’s going to hurt.

I suppose my apocalypse anxiety is my own fault. It’s not like I have to listen. After all, the world is saturated with people willing to share their opinions. And it’s easier than every to disperse those opinions with youtube, podcasts, recreational vehicles, and ridiculous, long-winded blogs. I could always choose to ignore this as I do every other piece of wannabe propaganda and opinion—be it offensive or insightful; stupid or smart. But I’ll admit, I’m antsy about this sort of thing. I have trouble brushing it off. A big part of me finds this threatening, pre-destined, resistance-is-futile prediction a little disturbing. Call me weak or gullible if you will because I’m probably a little of each.

So I guess what I’m really asking is: why can’t these people be more considerate of me? (Perhaps selfish, but I think it’s okay to ask for baseline respect from the world around us.)

Possible answers: Could be plain old egotism at work or fear mongering under the guise of virtue. The RVs are part of a quest to be the smartest people in the room, the ones who said, I told you so. They want to be the ones laughing when the hammer finally falls.

Maybe there’s a fame factor here too. I can see the temptation behind religious-oriented fame. If you’re a fame connoisseur it’s probably the awesomest kind of fame because it lasts for a long time. Way longer that Paris-Hilton-famous-because-you’re-famous fame or Kerri-Strug-sticks-the-landing fame or William-Wallace-they-cannot-take-our-freedom fame. Then again, if the world ends on May 21st, no one’s going to care about who predicted it. There will be no sitting on Oprah’s couch, no 60 minutes interviews, no action figures. No reality shows.

Jesus: more famous

Kerri Strug: less famous

And maybe I’m missing the point completely; I’m not enlightened enough. Perhaps this is supposed to be a good thing, whether you’re one of the chosen or not. They do call it The Rapture. But that’s a tough pill to swallow.

I just want there to be some good in this message for people like myself. My hope is that this group just wants us all to live better while we can, to reorganize things. Not a bad message at all. But why not just say it. Keep the hammer out of it and paint the sugar-coated version on the side of your RV for me, would you:

Start living better. Skip work and go to a baseball game. Drink a chocolate shake. Pray. Eat nachos your recliner. Love. Kiss your family and your pets. Sit on the porch. Be nice. Help someone. Laugh at bad jokes. Watch your favorite movie twice in a row. Tolerate. Meditate. Learn something new. Be spiritual. Go to your place of worship. Read. Don’t watch Jersey Shore. Take pictures of things that don’t make sense. Take a minute to not talk. Run really fast. Keep pretending you’re cool.

If we do only have a few weeks left, I better get going on more blogs.

-MC JLight

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Adios

Dear Colombia,

My sister, Keely, is a wonderful person. You shouldn’t deport her. She’s funny and smart. She works with orphans. She is the wind beneath my wings because she knows that children are our future. See, her secret is to teach them well and let them lead the way and, in doing so, show them all the beauty they possess inside, thus giving them a sense of pride to make it easier. But in your infinite wisdom, you’d prefer she didn’t spread goodwill throughout your country. You’re not really into the whole “working with orphans” thing. You don’t see the point of “helping kids with developmental problems.” Allowing one to use one’s very expensive education to “better the lives of others by offering free physical therapy” isn’t your racket. Interesting, Colombia. Very interesting.

Love, Josh

P.S. I do find it a little funny. Thanks for the material.

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As funny as it is, before I get into the aforementioned postscript material I’m obligated to come to my sister’s aid the best way I know how: with my words. Being a natural complainer who is unwaveringly intolerant of all things stupid, I will take up this cause for one entire paragraph. Why? Because in her own blog my sister the transcendent one has refused to go on complaining about being deported. Blaming the government would be counterproductive. Like a duck, she lets the water, or the orphan tears, run off her back. That’s nice and I respect her position. However, someone’s got to address this. I’m not saying that my banter is or will be any good, but it’s all I have.

So she didn’t have the correct paperwork. She had a tourist visa when she should have had a volunteer visa. But isn’t there some leeway for a do-gooder from Colorado? It’s not like she requested a volunteer visa as a front for selling Colombian mail-order brides. In fact, she went the other way; she positively expanded upon the activities typically expected of a tourist. I mean, what is a tourist visa anyway? It’s just the government giving permission for one to lollygag. So by helping orphans and personifying the greatest love of all, she’s being punished for not puttering. No, Mr. Colombia says. No, no, no. You promised us you were going to dilly-dally and you, Missy, are not. We want tourists, tourists who take pictures of crazy Colombian toilets and fill rolls of film with photos of every McDonald’s they encounter. We expect tourists who mock the misconceptions about our drug problem by posing in front of a Welcome to Colombia sign with a handful of baby powder. You are trying to teach about the greatest love of all? Please leave. Don’t let the puerta hit you on the way out.

C’mon, Colombia.

(This is where I’d lean in, whispering into Colombia’s ear.) She can be like that sometimes. She’s always going a step beyond. She did, after all, decide long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow. Maybe she had it coming and needs to learn that she can’t go around selflessly helping other people willy-nilly.

The doctor's robe. The glowing aura. Need I say more.

She couldn’t even lie about her good deeds to Mr. Colombia when he questioned her. Of course, it’s hard to lie when you’re a do-gooder. But it could have been as easy as this:

Mr. Colombia: What is your business here?

Keely: I’m learning to salsa dance and I’ve fallen in love with a Colombian man without whom I am lost. I am drinking a lot of coffee. Also I took fifty three pictures of the Iglesia.

Mr. Colombia: Which one?

Keely: The one in the city.

Mr. Colombia: And that is all?

Keely: Yes.

Mr. Colombia looks at her suspiciously.

Keely: I do have one question. Where can I find Columbia Studios?

Mr. Colombia: (smiles) You’re just the kind of moron we want here. Enjoy your stay in Colombia.

Mr. Colombia emphatically stamps her visa.

Instead she probably shared her whole plan, talked about the special equipment she built for the orphans. She must have gone on and on about the greatest love of all happening to her. Defiant, she marched up and said, “If I fail, if I succeed at least I’ve lived as I believe. No matter what you take from me, you can’t take away my dignity.” Yeah, yeah.

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Los Stupidos.

Come to think of it I’m might need to thank Colombia because I’ve been looking for something to hold over her head for a while. Back off. I’m not trying to be mean. In fact, I can write this because I love her dearly. But you have to understand that I am a selfish person and she’s been making my brothers and I look like a bunch of sideshow doofuses for 29 years. Granted, some of that is our fault as the level of stupidity to which the three of us have fallen is truly staggering and could fill a year’s worth of blogs. (Frankly, we’re lucky we have all our limbs.) On the other hand, Keely—or as we call her, The Mailman’s Kid if the mail man was a bongo-playing, Matthew McConaughey-resembling ex-Peace Corps worker who dabbled in organic chemistry “just for fun”—has always set a high standard. But now I have a comeback. Next Thanksgiving when Mommy and Daddy are scowling at me for slapping my brother with a piece of breast meat I can simply point across the table at Keely and say, “El Deporto.”

Of course, they will respond by pointing at me and saying, “El Stupido.” Then they’ll make me go to my room. Darn.

Los Stupidos II.

If any of my three readers are worried, fear not. She will almost certainly find a way to make the best out of Colombian Deportation 2011. She will convert this turd of a situation into glittering fairy dust. She told me the other day that she’s going to spend some time in Peru while she waits for the correct Colombian visa. Figures. She’s going to visit Machu Picchu where she will almost certainly make a discovery of particular worldly significance—a new species of flower, the petals of which can be used in lieu of gasoline in any internal combustion engine and whose only emission is love. She will stumble upon a band of never-before-seen Incan orphans who need help with their motor skills. She will write a book about her experience. It will be titled, Thanks, Deportation. I’ll open the book’s cover and hear the binding crackle as it does on any new book. On the dedication page I’ll see my name. It’ll say:

To my brothers, Josh, Jack and Andy, For every right, there is a wrong. Thanks for being my wrong.

You’re welcome. I’m going to chase my tail for a while.

-MC JLight

Me and rejection sailing together. That's me on the left.

Ahoy. Let me first say that I’m not looking for any pity here. Read this with a hint of derision in your mind’s voice. This is me trying to do something I’m very bad at, incidentally something that should have been included in the Parade of Stupidity (see previous blog): turning negative experiences into positives. Blah, blah. Oh boy.

This is going to be contemptuous and silly and dopey, but it makes me happy. Plus, I don’t have anything better to do. And, yes, perhaps I should keep these things to myself. But what’s the good of having a blog if you can’t subject people to your every self-pitying whimsy. Let the voyage begin.

Raise the mainsail and waggle the jib. Tie the halyard with a double mummy Oprah knot and take two shimmies on the rudder. Make sure the stanchion is bubbling and turn the wheel to a heading of east-northsouth at a speed of 8 million knots. Very soon I’ll make the jump to hyper speed. Set your sextants to stun.

I’m sailing a majestic boat. I’m wearing a pair of Top-siders without socks. I’m sporting sunglasses with Croakies and on this trip I’ll develop the most bodacious tan on this side of the Tropic of Capricorn–which is saying a lot because I usually go straight from whitey white to daddy-please-don’t-hit-me-with-the-belt-again red. This voyage will almost certainly be awesome. I’ll keep a journal, a memoir of my journey because that’s what you do. Should my mechanical pencil run out of lead I will slay a mighty squid and use its ink. I will not, however, write in my own blood because I get queasy around needles.

A double mummy Oprah knot. Just in case you were wondering.

Day 3: Navigated successfully through the Straight of WeRegretToInformYou. It looked a lot friendlier than it actually was. Once between its canine-shaped rocks I experienced a what I’d thought, until that moment, to be a fictional feature of the S.W.R.I.Y.: pockets of halitosis gas bubbling from the sea floor.

Day 25: Running out of freshwater faster than I anticipated. Could have something to do with the long shower I took after being pooped on by an entire flock of ThankButNoThanks Birds. They came out of nowhere while I was eating cheese and crackers on the deck. Ruined the rest of the day. After my long shower I sat in a dark corner chewing on a toothpick.

Day 49: Been doing repairs after I threw my knife at a small WeLikedItBut Nymph last night. Some people say they don’t exist, but I saw it clear as could be. Doesn’t matter that after I tried to attack it the darn thing disappeared and my knife gashed the jib. All I have is a needle and thread to repair the hole. Hoping it will hold.

Day 72: So thirsty. Thought I saw fresh water on the deck, but it only turned out to be a puddle of WeGaveYourStoryaSecondReadingHowever. Didn’t realize it until I was getting splinters in my tongue.

Day 99: Get it? I’m sailing in a sea of rejection. I’m tired of this metaphor.

I’m getting rejected a lot lately. It’s kind of a daily thing. Job opportunities, writing submissions… it doesn’t matter. I know rejection is part of the deal considering my interests and career (?) path, but it’s still not that fun. So I’m looking for ideas. I’m not quite sure what to do with all of them. Unfortunately almost all of them have been delivered via e-mail. If they were printed I could use them to make some lovely wallpaper. As it is, though, I just catalogue them in my psyche.

What else to do? I could always write the infamous writer-writing-trying-to-overcome-rejections story, but that’s just a big cliche. Besides, I’ve already written a silly blog about it. Maybe there’s some sort of business opportunity to be had. Maybe I could be a rejection consultant. Start some kind of service where I counsel people on how to compose more humane rejections. Businesses could use it: Thank you for applying, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction. It may not be the right direction, just a different one. Heck, it may just be the wrong direction. We don’t even have a map! Not hiring you may be the biggest mistake we’ve ever made! You don’t want to work here anyway. There’s asbestos in the walls and all our male employees have mustaches.

Fed-up girlfriends could use it too: Dear Kenny. Don’t think of this as a break-up. It’s an opportunity. I’m giving you the time necessary to become the professional Xbox player that you so long to be. I’m only holding you back from realizing your dreams. I don’t deserve someone with your digital dexterity. You’re welcome. I will love you always and watch you from afar. Yours, Mona.

Realize the dream, Kenny.

Insurance companies: Dear Mrs. Huffington. Unfortunately we must deny your claim for medical services rendered on January 15, 2010. But please take solace in the fact that we didn’t even review your claim. It’s nothing personal. Furthermore, your money will be a vital part of helping one of our lucky executives to realize his dream of owning his very own sail boat. Ahoy.

Ahoy.

That’s good stuff. Rejection still sucks.

-MC JLight

P.S. I’ve gone to the dark side. Follow me on Twitter @THEoriginalJLO.

When I’m in the middle of doing nothing—I mean, when I’m really doing it well—I’ll sometimes Google little questions that I’m looking to answer. Are soul patches cool? Turns out they’re not as cool as they used to be. Where did Waldo go? Somewhere in the South Pacific. How much money should I save each month? More than I currently do. Am I too old to get pregnant? Yes.

Here’s one that I did today, just cause I worry about this kind of thing: How old is too old to change careers? I asked Google this for several reasons. First, honestly, if I got a real job, even my dream job, I’d consider it a career change, as I am currently the VP of Jack Squat. Second, I’m extremely worried that my chosen career path is evaporating before me. And third, because I feel like I’m starting to get past the age where anything is possible.  You know, I’m not sure I can go back to school and I doubt if people want to hire someone my age as an intern and I’ve got to earn money somehow. So basically I wanted to know if all hope for me is gone… And Google seemed like the place to go for this vital info. Besides, my Magic Eight Ball was broken. It just kept saying, “Ask again,” so I threw it into a lake.

The first link that popped up directed me to a message board on which a man of my exact age came a-wondering if he was too old to become a journalist. The responses poured in and were all very positive. Of course not. You’re only as old as you feel. Never say never. One person mentioned many famous people who started careers later in life.

But one response stood out. In it the respondent questions the asker’s negative language, which, strangely, is a lot like mine, e.g. I won’t go back to school. I can’t find a job that makes me happy, etc. He suggested that the wannabe journalist ought to rework his vocabulary. Agreed. For many people, positivity has worked miracles in the past. Our forefathers’ positivity helped found this great country in the face of insurmountable Red-Coated odds. Positivity has helped countless sports underdogs (notably the 1997 Denver Broncos). And who hasn’t used a little positive thinking on a road trip through Nevada when there’s fifty miles ahead until the next rest stop and fifty miles have past since you stopped at Taco Bell for a bagful of bean burritos.

So me and the wannabe journalist should go with positive stuff. I will…. I can… Fine. Sort of. Perhaps I’m a Negative Nancy, but I usually reserve I will for certain things that I will do. I will take out the trash. I will eat some ice cream. I will take you to the airport. These are things over which I virtually have complete control. The wheels stop turning, though, when I try to be positive about tasks of less certainty (I will drive this ball down the middle of the fairway) or, even scarier, goals that depend on the willing participation of others (see below). Those scare the dickens out of me

Most applicable to my “professional” life is something like this: I will sell/publish this or that screenplay/story. **Silence, cricket chirp, cough.** Oh boy. Again, I may be a Debbie Downer, but how can I even begin to utter such a sentence. My brain starts working overtime: I have little control over such an event, I might jinx myself by saying it, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. C’mon, the only way I could convince myself that it was possible for me to write a novel was by getting a few words of it tattooed on my body as motivation. Because who wants to be the guy who had a small portion of an unfinished/unrealized novel permanently etched on his skin? Not me. So what’s next? Do I need to brand myself? (This is the kind of situation that leaves me wanting to eat a carton of fudgesicles and veg out on the couch watching The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. He makes me feel better.) Moreover, if I can’t utter the aforementioned difficult sentence, how am I supposed to get anything done, much less take myself seriously as a writer?

But wait. You’re saying there’s another word between will and won’t. And you’re right. There’s also that lovely word: try. I love this word. I fall back on this word. It’s cuddly. It’s theoretical positivity. It’s exact middle. It’s hoping for the best without being cocky. I like that.

But Yoda had to step in and be a jerk. In The Empire Strikes Back he clearly says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” He took a choice, the best choice, away. I can’t even try to be positive. I can’t try to not try. I have to do or not do. I have to either be negative, which is nearly impossible for me (even though I’m a quasi-pessimist, I don’t like quitting), or there’s that other thing…

Crap.

-MC JLight