And the Wisdom to Know the Difference

We're fools whether we dance or not, so we may as well dance.

I Won’t Let Go

I published this to Tumblr a while ago:

I lie awake at night and wonder if things would be different if you were here. You make me want to be next to you, to feel the thud of your heart next to mine. I want to hold your hand while we regale stories of our lives to one another that we’ve already told. I want to listen to you tell them over and over even though I know how they end.

I want to sit next to you on the floor, our backs pressed against the sofa, arguing over who should get up and flip over the record, because honestly it’s just been spinning for the last five minutes, no you get up and change it. I did the last one. I want to put my head in your lap, so you can shield me from all that is dark. I need to know that all is not lost, that you have not gone. It’s become cold again, and there is no shoulder here for me to bury my nose in, so it can escape the harshness of winter.

Occasionally I think to myself “Where is he? What is he doing?” I know you feel it too. I know because you tell me. You do not do the typical male thing and act like you don’t care. You don’t wait around for me to say it first. You just say it. And I love you for that.

And one morning, I’ll get the call. “I’m here.” You’ll whisper into the void that stands between us. And I’ll rocket from the warmth of my bed to see you. You’ll be standing in the lobby, snow in your hair, cheeks red from being bitten by the wind. I’ll turn up the collar on my sweater, and guide you back into the cold.

But the weather won’t matter. The time won’t matter. The fact that I didn’t even bother to change from my pajamas won’t matter. Nothing matters when it’s you and I together. Nothing matters except together.

Together.

I don’t understand why we aren’t there now. I don’t understand why it hurts so badly. We parted, and I lost part of myself. No, it was taken from me. We left each other, and part of me was stolen, and replaced with part of you. That’s what we do, you and I, we take parts of each other and try to construct the other out of the jagged, broken pieces. Please, watch your step. There is glass everywhere.

I can see you in the jokes I make. Or when I hear the song, you’re there. And it makes me want to smile so big that my face cracks, and it makes me want to shout my anger from the mountain tops to anyone who will listen, and it makes me want to curl into myself and sob until I have nothing left, but tear stained cheeks and exhaustion to pull me out of this place without you.

I don’t understand. Help me to see the growth. Guard me from the people trying to tell me that absence will make my heart grow fonder. I cannot be any fonder. You are my brother. You are my family. You are a piece of my soul. And you are missing from me.

And it hurts.

I need to know that there will again be a time where we are together. Where it is you, and I, and some old Beatles record floating softly through the air while we breath in that funny offbeat unison we pick up when we’re together. I have to know that there will again come a time when your shoulder is there for me to hide my face in from the cold.

You are the light at the end of this tunnel, and I can barely see you. You’re there, and I know because I can feel your warmth.

So, just keep running my way. Just keep headed in my direction, and I will continue to sprint in yours, arms open wide. ready to embrace you, and hold you, and tell you how beautiful you are, and how much this experience has made you into a better man, even if you can’t see it. I’ll tell you everything we are too afraid to say out loud. And I know you’ll say it back.

That’s how this works. That’s why this works.

You are me, and I am you.

Until our paths cross again, and the weight of the world is shared between us, instead of having to bear the pain alone,

I love you. I miss you. Hold tight, I’ll be right there.

100

I was born a hundred years old. I am now, and always will be a hundred years old. No one seems to understand this concept.

I am very old. My mind is very old. I think I got it from someone else, because they were all out of the new ones when I was created. I think they grabbed an old one and called it a day. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I know me. I am fully confident in who I am as a human person. I like my personality, and myself. I like things the way they are.

But I am a hundred. I don’t comprehend jokes the same way as my peers. I don’t understand the social cues or conversation that they partake in. I can’t be a part of the things they want me to be a part of because I am too old.

Being a hundred makes being a college student very difficult. I have no inclination to do normal college student things. I cannot relate to my peers in the slightest. I find myself searching out other very old people to befriend. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be overly plentiful.

My people from home are old like I am. Whether they were born that way, or life made them that way is their’s to tell. I love them, because they understand that I can’t do things the same way other people can. I can’t bring myself to try and explain these concepts to the new people here. It’s too difficult and they tend not to understand. And that is painful to explain, and watch them not grasp it. And that makes me very sad.

I am perpetually a square peg in a round hole. I am okay with that. I just wish there were more square pegs to talk to. I’m sure I’ll find them. It’s just going to take longer than I’d planned.

Take Care

I wrote the last post about my tribe. This one’s about them too. What can I say? They’re damn important.

Life is so completely terrifying. Junior high was ridiculous. High school was a sprint, not a marathon, like we were led to believe. THe fact that in two weeks I have to move to a new city and live with three new people makes me feel so completely alone. I know I’m not, but it doesn’t change the fact that I can feel the darkness closing in, and I’m suffocating. I know that when I resurface things will be different. I’ll be different. My perspective will be gawky, and bleary, and new in all of the good and bad ways that it can be. The best I can do now, is hold my people as close as I can when all I want to do is keep them at an arms length so my chest doesn’t hurt so much.

I can’t do that, because we have to take care of the people we love. No one can do any of this on their own. Take care of your people. Laugh at their dumb jokes. Feed them when they’re hungry. Hold them when they cry. Realize that you have people in your life who want nothing more than to see you happy. A lot of them would do anything to make that happen for you. They squash down their own discomfort for you to be happy. They step out of their safe place to please you. They genuinely take interest in things that you care about, because they care about you.

Not everyone is going to love you every time. Some people though, they’ll love you all the time. Find people who love you, and take care of them. Let them take care of you.

There is a way to tell if the friends you have are these people that I write about. Imagine your worst day. I know it hurts, but just try. Imagine yourself at your absolute lowest point. Are these people that are willing to sit next to you on the sofa in your worst moment, and watch bad TV, and pass you kleenex, and just hold your hand while you lose your mind? If the answer is yes, then you’ve found them.  Congratulations.

It took me three years of junior high, and almost four years of high school to find these people. I’m not sure where I go from here. I’m not sure how I form relationships like these. You see, I lucked into these relationships. These people are good, and wonderful, and kind. They take my feelings into account. They take me feelings onto themselves in an attempt to make my shoulders a little lighter. They don’t have to, they just do. I am surrounded by people who have been sown together at the broken ends.

Find the people who you love, and who love you, and take care of them. Understand what they need. Hear what they say to you. Reassure them that they are not alone. Take the time to tell them you love them, because for a lot of us, in two weeks it all changes. Take care of them because they make life more bearable. Let them take care of you.

Tribe

For four years I did my best to push through high school. I tried to only get as close to other people as absolutely necessary for survival. I wanted to get in, do well in school, and get out.

Just keep looking for the light. The light that is college, and interesting people, and intellectual conversation. Just keep searching for the light. There has to be a way out of this tunnel.

And I made it. I survived high school. I had a few friends, and managed to alienate everyone else. It was a very successful experiment in social interaction. Except then they came along. They came along with there similar taste in television. And their complete openness to everything. They just go around loving me for no good reason. And the two of them who won’t be moving into college dorms on August 24th are going to tie me to this town. This town I tried so hard to escape, unscathed. They’re just going to be here, caring about my well being and making sure I’m happy. Nate’s going to be too far away for everything. I mean, honestly, what were we thinking? And don’t get me started on Goose. She’s just going to move to Akron and we’re going to be more than five minutes away from each other. That’s just no good.

I don’t want new people. I don’t want forced intellectual conversation. I don’t want the light. I want them.

I need them. I can’t even begin to fathom not having them at every turn. And sure, I’ll meet new people, and I’ll have cool things to do with them. But nothing will beat spending Friday night at home, talking over a movie in our pajamas.

In our own completely ridiculous way, we’re a family. I love them. I’m not sure I can handle leaving them too.

Our parents spend the first years of our lives raising us into people. They hope that they make us functional enough to move on and find our own tribe.

I’ve found them.

Required Reading #1

Looking for books for the summer? I just got done putting my list of summer reading together. I’ll post that next. First, though, is a few of the novels I read over the school year that were really phenomenal.

1) The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach                                                                             Fielding is such a great book because it forces you to develop feelings for the characters regardless. Harbach did a wonderful job crafting honest, believable characters. There are no “manic-pixie dream” characters that come across in some other novels. Every character has a flaw, and it is a beautiful experience to be a part of every time I read it.

2) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky                                                           Perks is a book for anyone who has ever felt completely and utterly alone. So, what I mean is Perks is a book for everyone. It is weird, and charming. The plot makes you want to laugh, cry, and throw up all at once. I know that doesn’t sound appealing, but it is. It’s a pretty short read. I read it in a day, and passed it on to a friend, who passed it on to another one of our friends. We’re like a really poor book club.

3) The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee                                                       As a science nerd, I found this book to be incredibly informational. Above that though, it was incredibly refreshing to read a novel written by a doctor about medicine that was so incredibly warm, and personable. Doctors get a bad rap for being cold and unattached. Mukherjee writes with such a warm tone that learning about such an abysmal topic seems comfortable. Another author/doctor who does very similar things is Atul Gawande.

4) This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper                                                               Reading this book is like watching a slow motion car crash. It is painful and difficult and messy, but you look on anyways. You know the second you open the book that you are going to watch the main character’s life fall apart. It reads in such a way that makes everything inside you hurt for this character. Tropper manipulates his readers in the best sort of way.

5) Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi                                                                                                     This is an important read for anyone who grew up in the US during the war with Iraq/Afghanistan/Etc. It is important for those of us still growing up in the middle of these wars. It is written comic book style to appeal to a young audience,and outlines a young girls growing up during the time before the US invaded the middle east. It shows the struggle, and trial that she goes through. I read this as an assignment for a Young Adult Literature course, and hated it for the first few chapters. As I begun to understand it, I grew to love it. Persepolis does a great job of reminding us that perspective is all a matter of where we stand.

6) Looking For Alaska, John Green                                                                                         Because it’s not a book list if it doesn’t contain a John Green novel. His book TFiOS has done quite well, but I am considerably more fond of Alaska. It is a tragic coming of age novel. It shows that pain occurs in everyone. And that we all believe in our own invincibility, even if it is only for a short time. It reminds us to let the people around us know that they are loved, they are forgiven, and they are not alone.

There you have it: six books you need to read. Enjoy!

Why I Can’t Hate the Abercrombie CEO

Let’s talk about Abercrombie. I mean, c’mon guys, everybody else is. I’m sure you’ve seen the picture with his quote circulating through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and more. He has stated that he will not allow his company to produce clothing for overweight or unattractive people. His direct quote:

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

Now listen, he’s right. Before you riot, let me explain what I mean. Mike Jeffries has found a niche market in making “cool” clothes for thin people. He is highly successful, and people continue to shop in his stores. From a business aspect he has done an amazing thing. Mike Jeffries has convinced almost two generations that in order to be perceived as cool, you must wear clothes with a giant moose on them.

He is an advertising genius. He is marketing brilliance. Not only has he managed to provide a product tailored only to a certain demographic, but has made it so that only his targeted demographic (and weird grown ups) can purchase his clothes. They’re the only ones who can a) fit into them, and b) afford them! Mike Jeffries is everything I would want in a marketer.

Does that mean I share his moral values? Hell no.

Does this mean I like what he’s doing? Not really.

Does this mean I plan to shop at Abercrombie now? Well, the smell is a huge deterrent. Also the aforementioned weird old people are enough to keep me away. There are plenty of other reasons why I won’t shop at Abercrombie.

But do I admire his business strategy? His marketing tactics? Absolutely.

I can’t hate him because he’s so dang clever. I admire cleverness regardless of the form it takes.  In order to succeed in today’s economy, you have to produce a product that is so hard to own, that everyone wants it. Everybody wants to be a member of the elite. Abercrombie is one of the many tell tale signs that someone is in that club. Jeffries has made his company a symbol of wealth.

Is he a jerk for not making clothes for bigger people? Sure. But he had the balls to come out and say it. He had it in him to say exactly what his business strategy was. Also, it is his company. He can do what he wants with it.

I’m not saying I agree with what he’s doing, but I can’t help but admire his process.

We

We are Americans.

We win wars after attacks like Pearl Harbor.

We don’t rest after tragedies like 9/11.

We run toward bomb blasts to protect, and save strangers.

America will not be broken by this. We will not be beaten into submission. Terror makes us stronger. It makes us braver. It gives us a desire for togetherness. Tragedy compels us to open our homes to strangers. It leads us to finish marathons and continue running to donate blood for the injured. Tragedy causes us to run into danger, because there might be a chance we can do something.

This is a country I want to be in. I could not be more honored to grow up in a place where we put ourselves in danger for the protection of others. Americans are a “we” nation. There is no individual in a time like this. There are Americans.

We are one nation, and one people. We will continue to do everything we can for each other. We will continue to be proud of our country. We will continue to fight for the freedom, and dignity of one another.

Because we.

 

 

 

Purpose

The kids in this picture all wear brand new sneakers because a group of teenagers in Ohio cared enough to give.

That group worked through another youth run/organized/driven organization called Sole Purpose.

To learn more about Sole Purpose and the kids: https://www.facebook.com/DFSolePurpose

We Will Unite

I am a child.

I am a child who belongs to two straight people.

I am a child who belongs to two straight people who have instilled in me the idea that race, gender, sexuality, mental ability, and education do not make a person.

The big one right now is sexuality. I’ve discussed this quite a bit in the past, but I’ll bring it up again. It is 2013. We are so far beyond this. We are better than this. America is a country built on freedom. It is a country built on the desire for equality.

It is a country that now looks back at the Civil Rights Movement and says “Why were we so horrible to other human beings because they were a different color?” We used to not be okay with interracial marriage. Remember that? How dumb was that?

Honestly, I can’t even imagine. It’s time we stop using our religious beliefs to defend our views on this topic.

I’m talking to you, Christians.

The Bible is a wonderful piece. A belief in Christ is a wonderful thing. Using the Bible and Christ to decide that other humans can’t get married is ridiculous. Not everyone subscribes to my belief in God. That’s okay! I don’t mind.

I do mind that my friends who are madly, deeply in love can’t get married to each other because they are both women or just because they are both men. Because sure, they love other women and some people aren’t okay with that. But they still love the way anyone loves. Does it really make sense to ban love?

I live in a free country. That includes the freedom to marry whomever I choose. That includes the freedom to love whomever I choose. It’s a beautiful thing.

We will unite for Marriage Equality because love is love. Discrimination is unacceptable. Hate is unacceptable. It’s time to get on the Equality train, because this is happening.

It’s about time.

Running

Let me start off with the fact that I actually enjoy running, under the right conditions. I’d rather run now, in November, because I feel like less people are watching me run and I can compete only with myself and not with all the other runners. I’d rather run at night, when I can run as quickly or as slowly as I want under the cover of darkness; also everything seems way less far away when you can’t see where you’re going.

I started running this summer. My soccer coach asked me to run thirty-five miles over the summer to make up for practice time I’d miss. Don’t get me wrong, I was not thrilled about having to run everyday in the Ohio heat in front of God and everyone. But, I ran anyway because I had to. Honestly, I fell in love with it. It was cheaper than therapy, and I got to listen to music while I ran. It was a pretty sweet deal. I stopped running when the season started as to not burn myself out. However, our season was over for a this Monday, so I pulled out my running tights and sneakers and put them on reluctantly,and hauled my butt into the cold November air and started running.

Initially (the first two nights) I ran in my old Nikes. They have a pretty thick sole, and that caused some intense arch/knee/lower back/quad pain during and after the run. Tonight though, I ran in my Vibram Fivefingers (www.vibram.com). They managed to give me a pain free, longer, faster, better feeling run. Woohoo! Go Vibrams.

I run in the Bikila model, but I have a pair of KSO’s as well. I prefer the Bikila because they have a wider mouth for you to get your foot into and an overall better feel. The KSO’s and the Bikila both a great for hiking/kayaking/swimming (both lakes and oceans)/ running in sand/ on trails/ or in dirt. The Bikila feel better on the road though. If you’re looking for new running shoes, try to go with the closest to barefoot of the brand you like. If you really like them, go all the way. Vibrams are the way to go.

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