Master of Your Fate

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2014 by dakofman

This girl went missing at my college. It was about a month or so before graduation. I didn’t know her. She was in my class, but I hadn’t ever met her. Her name didn’t ring any bells. It wasn’t until I saw her picture in an online news article that I could place her face.

I had seen her around campus, one of those people I’d blast past on my way back to my dorm. So the story went that she up and disappeared on her family. What triggered it? Who knows. A few days go by after that initial news break. People are out looking for her. She was last seen bordering a train headed to New York City. Her cell phone, wallet and ID were found by the George Washington Bridge.

People went out into New York City to canvass for this girl. The family received phone calls of her being seen around that city. I remember reading an update where a cop mentioned having a good lead about where she was.

But it turned out that this girl took her own life. Her body washed up on shore. Her family released that awful news

Why.

They said she was a model student, incredibly high GPA.

Why.

She was involved in clubs and was even captain of the tennis team.

Why.

She was accepted to Rutgers Law School and was going to live with her sister.

Why. Why did she do it?

A few months ago, I go into my full-time job. Office work. The less said about it the better.
My supervisor brings me into a room with everyone else working the late shift. She says she has some unfortunate new. One of our coworkers is dead and he took his own life. I don’t recognize the man’s name at first. The room goes quiet and numb after she dropped that bombshell. She asks me if I knew him. I said I don’t know. She told me I had to have seen him around.

Then she starts to describe him. He always wore a jacket even if it was like 80 degrees outside. Always in a hurry. Easy to talk to. And I know immediately who she’s talking about. My bathroom buddy.

He and I got usage of the upstairs bathrooms banned. We weren’t supposed to use them in the first place, but it wasn’t a real rule. So I put it to the test. The down stairs bathrooms smelled like someone died while using them and often had piss all over the toilet paper. So I would sneak upstairs to the better toilets. I’d bump into him on way up the stairs all the time. He knew how much better they were too.

Oh my gosh he’s dead.

I saw him the day before. I used to small talk with him in the hallway.

Why.

He seemed happy, not different from all the other people I saw around there.

Why.

Everyone really liked him and considered him part of the family.

Why. Why did he do that?

With the recent death of Robin Williams, a lot of people are asking themselves “why”. Why would a person who brought them such joy leave the world in such a dark way?

Is there a single discernible reason? A trigger that set them off? Could it have been prevented? Is it our fault for missing the signs? Were there signs?

Even if we had those people back to tell us why, could they properly articulate their pain? Put their troubles into words? Do they even have words that can describe what they went through? Could we understand what it means to feel so trapped that death is a more viable option than tomorrow? Or to hate yourself so much you’d rather not be around any more?

We call suicide the cowardly way out. They weren’t strong enough to hold on to their lives. I believe that to be ignorant. Could we hold on if we were in their shoes? Just snap out of it like people often advise. We can talk a big game about holding on. But if life is depression, emotional pain, mental suffering, self-inflicted torture, is it even worth holding on to? To see the sunrise again on next worst day of your life? We can all easily say yes, but those who are gone would disagree.

Who’s right?

Can’t answer that question. I just can’t.

What is a person entitled to?

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2014 by dakofman

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

What rights should a person have? What does a government have to provide for its citizens?

Here in America, we have a Constitution. It’s changed radically since it was first put into effect back in 1789. As times changed, our rights also changed. Women needed to be able to vote. Slavery was determined to be not so great after all. Alcohol was prohibited, then brought back. The constitution hasn’t been amended in twenty two years. So today what are we owed?

If it was up to you to come up with a new amendment, what would you fight to make its way in?

George Carlin had a great bit about rights. I don’t know if I agree with everything that he said, but he brought up a good point about food and shelter not being rights under our constitution.

We all know that shelter, food, water are life necessities. Should a right to food, shelter, and water be added in? Can we feed and house every American? I’d say yes, but we wouldn’t be able to do it for free. Or are food, water, and shelter to be earned, not given out?

Should love be a right?

We can all agree that loving and to be loved is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It makes us human. What is a life with no parents to learn from, no friends to play around, and no partner(s) to love? But is a person entitled to love? Seems wrong to say that. A government can’t guarantee love for everyone. How would we go about doing that? Arranged marriages? Too messy.

Should free healthcare be a right? Should the ability to marry anyone you want be a right? Should a college education be a right? Should job employment be a right? Should living out of poverty be a right? Should contraception be a right?

If it were up to me, I’d want access to the internet to be a right.

You can get in an argument with a person halfway across the world. There’s so much knowledge on here. All of mankind’s modern works are available at the click of a button. I believe the internet has really leveled the playing field for people. You can throw out a creative work and build a niche audience. It’s easier to find people to get a long with or see into worlds you wouldn’t normally have a chance to.

But then that’s just me.

What exactly is Feminism today anyway?

Posted in MISC with tags , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2014 by dakofman

First wave feminism I understand. Second wave feminism I understand. Once we get into the modern era of feminism, I get very confused.

What exactly does the modern feminist stand for? Can’t figure it out. I’ve read feminist blogs and they only served to confuse me more. Contradictory ideals. Comments on the blogs from women also claiming to be feminists saying the blogger had no idea what they are talking about. Still can’t figure it out.

There’s such radically different ideologies under the feminism banner. I’ve watched interviews with sex workers and pornstars. They say sex is freedom of expression. They are in control of their bodies and sexuality. They love their work, it’s a lot of fun. They consider themselves feminists. But then you’ll have other women who say that porn industry encourages objectification and violence towards women. They can’t both be feminists, can they? So who is right? Who is the true feminist?

There’s sex positive feminists. There’s anti porn feminists. There’s feminists against abortion. There’s feminists who don’t believe in the rape culture. Feminists who do. There’s feminist feminism critics. Are they all feminists? Who do I support? Which one is the best one to support? Is there an objective way to pick?

We have this word “feminism” that means completely opposite things at the same time. It’s like if we decided to call all the colors of the rainbow, “red”. Hard to figure out what exactly red is.

If someone tells me that they are a feminist, I don’t know much about what they stand for. Gender equality on some form. Should I know exactly what . It would help gender issues if it were more clear. What’s the next milestone that we want women to reach that they haven’t yet? What do women today want out of society that their gender prevents them from having? It’s easier to figure out what to do to help.

Came across this passage in my search for more knowledge and clarification.


“Within the movement itself, there are various media outlets, different angles and belief systems. Even within specific websites such as Everyday Feminism, individual feminists can have different viewpoints on the same feminist issues.

Sometimes it’s just hard to get massive amounts of people to agree exactly what the best means to achieving that goal is.

-Kelsey Lueptow

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/01/feminism-now/

So it’s a part of feminism now to have multiple view points on the same issue and discuss them. Okay. So then feminism is more individualistic rather than a group advocating certain rights. But does that not lead to problems? How can you enact change if everyone has different idea of what they want?

Perhaps someone can help dispel my confusion with a comment. Explain how they see feminism today and what it stands for. If they would be so kind.

So for next time, I hope to finish the post that I wanted to publish last week.

Sitting on a Powderkeg, the Isla Vista Story.

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2014 by dakofman

Racism. Misogyny. Poor Parenting. Virginity. Mental Illness. Gun Control. Poor Policing.

When the story first broke, which of these did you point your finger at? You’d have a base to stand on if you selected any one. How easy would it be to push an agenda based on your pre-existing bias? You could as so many already have, make blog posts decrying your selected villain and continue your demonization of them. But you shouldn’t. Because you should be smarter than that.

There is more to this situation than one word or one issue.

When I read the story that a young man stabbed and murdered half a dozen people, two things struck out to me. His age and his father’s position. He had access to more money yet was completely miserable. He was the same age as I was. 22. I’ve spent the last couple days following the news of this story through Twitter and news outlets. I even reading a few snippets from the manifesto created by shooter.

On the one hand, talking about him gives him what he wants. He wanted status and to be noticed.

But still, we should learn from this event and see what went wrong. So we can put out fires before they happen. If they can be put out. I’ll be running through a list of factors that I did not see mentioned all that much.

STATUS OBSESSION

The shooter wanted to be noticed. He wanted to walk into a room and have women fawning over him. He would wear different clothes and hope that a woman would approach him rather than make any active effort. It was the act of being wanted that he most sought. To be that alpha male

MALE VIRGIN SHAMING

There is a stigma against being sexually inexperienced as a man. The older the man becomes, the worse stigma is. Virgins are the last remaining group that it is politically correct to make fun of.

Some are perfectly content and at peace with their status. There are men who are like everyone else. No personality disorders. It just didn’t happen for them.

And then there are the bitter women haters. They blame women for their anguish. But even of these women haters, there’s not a call to slaughter, flay, and kill all women. No seeking of retribution unlike the Isla Vista shooter. He took it personally that he was a virgin.

As stated earlier, this shooter was obsessed with his status and he was a member of an undesirable group.

LOCATION

He was surrounded by the rich. Southern California isn’t exactly known for being the most humble and accepting of faults. From what I’ve gathered, his college was very much a party college. And he was not invited to parties. This elitist area certainly had a factor in forming his ego issues.

RACIAL ELITISM

Our shooter held a deep hatred for his own race and nearly all minorities. He believed blonde women to be the most desirable of women. He thought his status as a half Asian made him better than regular Asians. Yet he would see regular Asians with blonde women. How could this be? Yet another crime that the world had to pay for.

MEGALOMANIA

It’s impossible to determine truth from fiction in his manifesto or the video he posted. I skimmed through it quickly after a person tweeted a paragraph of it. What I could understand what he was in love with himself.

“I am perfect. Everyone should love me.” When that ideal was shattered, he turned to violence.

There was one section that stuck out to me in particular. He had entered the lottery, hoping to win. Everyone enters the lottery for that chance to . We accept out loss. He was so certain that he would win the lottery. As sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, he was going to win the lottery. And when he did not win, it was an injustice done to him by society.

Let me repeat this.

He thought not winning the lottery was an injustice done to him by society.

CYBER-BULLYING/BODY IMAGE

A few news articles pointed out that he was a known poster on a body building forum. He declared himself beautiful and sought validation online. Bragging about his facial features and his BMW. This made him a perfect target for cyber-bullies. Some of the comments tossed his way were playful barbs but he took it to heart. Responding with vitriol to even the slightest of disses. His ego was especially damaged when people mocked him for his height and dick size.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Fascinating how though a number of his victims were men, this entire incident sparked a debate on how women live in fear of men. Just something I wanted to note.

I have no clue as to what men’s rights activism has to do with this incident nor why it was ever brought up into the discussion. I suppose it is the perfect boogieman to point your finger at if you already hated them, but nothing more.

I can’t help but wonder if the manifesto is a satire. It’s text book narcissism. From the little I read of it, it comes off as a comic book villain’s origin. If I read it online somewhere without knowing the context, I would have thought it was a joke.

I fear that introverted loners will become even further ostracized because of this incident. They will be seen as ticking time bombs.

Sex would not have solved any of his issues despite his fixation on it. He would have moved the goal post to another object out of his reach. What he needed were societal skills and an ability to cope with rejection. This begs the question. Is our mental health system equipped to help people like the shooter? Do they deserve help? Or was he a mad man who needed to be locked away and kept from others?

I cannot get the words of one of the victim’s fathers out of my head. Seven sons and daughters gone forever due to one boy’s mangled ego. Even more injured. I do not know what more to say about that.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

All of his early problems were solved by throwing a tantrum like a child until someone fixed it for him. Women were the one thing his tantrums could not bring him. He cried for hours after a girl ignored him when he said “hi” to her. And he wanted them to worship him. Women chose “inferior” partners. So he lashed against society. To call him a misogynist misses the whole picture. He was going to murder his own brother for losing his virginity before him. He was a misanthrope to an extreme degree. Seeing people enjoying life enraged him.

His ultimate desire was to destroy love.

Next week, I had hoped to finish a post about my continued fascination and confusion with modern feminism. #YesAllWomen gave me some much needed insight into the plights of the modern woman in Western Society. But I will be delaying this to write a post closer to my heart.

Until next week.

Equality

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2014 by dakofman

“All men are created equal.”

Has a greater lie ever been told? If this isn’t the top one, it certainly makes the top ten list. Boy do they ever drill this one into your head. To jostle with this concept jostles the entire foundation of your morals and principles.

Not all men are created equal. Roll with me on this. I’ll show you.

Think right now. Two babies are being born. Both created through the same process. One is born the child of two musical artists, and the other born within a community of starving people. One will have cameras shoved in its face for its life. News sites everywhere will explode when information on the baby’s ridiculous name comes out. People at their jobs will joke around and make sarcastic remarks. The child will grow up not having to earn its living, nor work a job. Despite already having millions, people will toss money at the child to do its own albums when they are of age. There may be a movie made as a vehicle to turn this child into an ever bigger star. The world is thrown at this child’s feet. Their death is as huge news as their birth. People will mourn all over the country for the loss.

And the other will starve to death after two or three days because it was unfortunately born in the wrong place. Not a soul will even remember this baby ever existed.

The same process made them, but can you say they had equal lives? No, but maybe you say that’s not fair to equality. There is a huge discrepancy between a starving child and a famous baby. So here’s another.

Think up two babies again. Both white men. On the outside, they are similar. Both have brown hair, brown eyes. They live in the same town. They grew up together on the same block and went to the same public schools. Hell they might even like the same football team. But one of them has a mental illness. Why? Who knows. Maybe his mother stood too close to the microwave while pregnant. He struggles with it, going through therapy throughout his adolescence and taking daily medication. He has his bad days and his even worse days. He wakes up and doesn’t know how he’ll feel. He could be up, down, angry, sad, energetic, full of love, or suicidal. As he gets older, it worsens. He can’t maintain a serious relationship nor a job. He’s in and out of state help programs. His family loves him, but they don’t know what else to do. It’s a strain on all of them to help him cope well into his old age. The other with a sound mind moves forward. He has his own struggles as we all do, but he knows what he’ll be when he wakes up.

Same race, same town, same schooling, but very different lives, Are they equal? If so how? What does equal even mean? Trying to define the word is good way to give yourself a migraine especially when it comes to people. With mathematics and numbers, it’s fairly simple.

2=2 or 2+2=4

But once you add in people, it’s all messy. Look at this.

Image

Can you say that the two genders are equal? Your gut feeling says yes of course. But think of it logically. A woman can carry a new person in them for nine months.  We have different reproductive organs and internal make-ups. So then when we want to say the genders are equal, what are we talking about? On what scale do we consider people equal?

Not by weight. Not by height. Not by any sort of physical appearance. Not by wealth. Not by intelligence. Not by where you live or where you’ve been. Not by who your parents are or who you know.

Is it our potential? Our capacity to reason? These are the two that come closest in my humble opinion. We believe all people have potential and have a capacity to reason. So they should be treated the same. Although people say this, rarely are people treated equally.

Do you treat a homeless man asking for money the same as you would your father if he asked? No. They have the same want, similar biology, maybe even the same age. But for one, you keep moving on your way, trying hard not to make eye contact and for the other, you reach for your wallet. Because of your judgement.

When I think of equality, I think of any activist group, advocating for more rights for an oppressed minority. They all have the same mantra, we deserve this because humans are equal. Where did they get this idea from? I hope it wasn’t from the Declaration of Independence, written by a group of men who owned slaves. Slaves who according to these men were three-fifths people, the very antithesis of equal. Historically equality amongst all humanity hasn’t ever happened. Unless you go way back to before we could read and write. Those years that historians won’t ever be able to piece together. Maybe you could try and say before our brain developed into what it is today, we could have been equal. Were we equal as cavemen? Could we even grasp the concept then?

But to get back to those groups, I have a question.  Will these groups ever find the day that their work is done? When they can walk away knowing that equality has been achieved. Can it be achieved? Do we want to know the answer to that question?

If it can, then how? How can true equality be reached? Where all men and women regardless of who they are, what they look like, who they love or who they hate, have the same opportunities and are treated the same across the board?

That day can’t come. We are all different. We can’t be equal.

There’s this line in A Time to Kill that sums up this conundrum.

“When you look at me, you don’t see a man, you see a black man. “

We will never be another person to each other. Colorblindness is unachievable.  We see the differences and we judge. Even if we couldn’t see, we would judge based on our other senses. We categorize and adjust our responses accordingly. We want to put similar things together and separate them from the different. We are wired that way. Judgement is lodged into our brain.

Just like our illogical notion of equality. Funny how they can sit right next to each other in our brains and we somehow function.

The human mind. A peculiar thing.

Still this is no excuse to discriminate against others and treat them differently. We should reach towards that ideal. Even if we can’t ever be truly equal, we can be as close as humanly possible.

My American Dream

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2014 by dakofman

(Written in April 2009)

This year I will graduate high school and head on to college. I have a variety of options set in front of me. I could be a doctor or join the military. Many people do not plan this out and simply remain stagnant in their lives. They are the same as the day they graduated from high school.

They have no ambitions. I see them all the time. They simply glide through life. They accomplish nothing and let their dreams go to waste. I will not become one of these people. My American dream is a simple and attainable one if I work at it. I want to be a successful attorney.

My short term goal is to obtain my Juris Doctorate and become a criminal justice attorney. An attorney is a person who ensures that justice is carried. It’s not who you arrested, but how. If an arrest is not made properly, then the system is corrupt. Justice must be fair and just. I know that attending Criminology classes at my college will change my perception of right and wrong for the better.

I plan to get my bachelor’s degree as quickly as possible. The bachelor’s degree is my primary objective for the next 4 years. If I fail to get my bachelor’s degree, my American dream cannot come true. The fruits of my labor will be twice as sweet when I gain my Juris Doctorate a few years later.

I used to dream of being married and having kids, but now I realize that to be something I cannot control. If it was a part of my American dream, I would not have a successful marriage. I would not view my wife as a person, but more as a trophy I gained along the way.

Marriage is not something a person should plan to happen when they are younger. You can never plan for love. Love is a construct which no one truly understands no matter how much they want. I’d like to have a wife and kids, but it is not my primary intention.

The American dream has taken many shapes and forms since its conception. It’s a shame that majority of Contemporary Americans don’t believe that it is attainable anymore. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is still alive today in America even with the recent economic downturn. I won’t let something like that interfere with goals and objectives.

People who are so easily put off their dreams never really wanted to obtain them. They allow their dreams to remain in their imagination.

I plan on turning mine in a reality. If a black man can be president, then anything is possible.

Never Give Up.

tragedy and pain

My Last Sob Story

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2014 by dakofman

“Woo Graduation!”

A lifetime ago, I etched these words inside of my high school graduation hat.

June 25th, 2009. A good day to graduate. Michael Jackson died that day.

We couldn’t contain our excitement that day; What a day that was.

Friends surrounded me on all sides. We made jokes about dropping out at the last second. We gasped together at the news of Michael Jackson’s death. And we suffered while our salutatorian rattled on and on about what her family meant to her. The girl wanted everyone to roast out there in the sun.

A clear blue sky lay above us like the world was proud of our accomplishments. Our families scrambling for their cameras. They snapped as many pictures as they could, trying to preserve a moment that had already passed. Everyone had the same beautiful smile on their face like peace had finally come to Earth.

One of my friends decided not to have that moment.

“Why?”

That was the question I kept pestering her wit. I tried to dissuade her. This was a once-in-a-lifetime happening. She shrugged her shoulders. She had better things to do.

My seventeen-year-old self couldn’t bring myself to entertain that idea. How could I no-show the biggest celebration in my life so far?

We fought our way through the public education system. Didn’t she want to feel like it was all worth something? All those absurd standardized tests that they shoved down her throat? All those ridiculous Didn’t she want to give her family that moment to enjoy her success? What could be better than basking in the glory of your achievement among those that you love?

On May 13th 2013, I her.

RISE

College was the best time of my life.

Before I went to college, I had no idea people from South Jersey didn’t believe Central Jersey existed. Or that there was feud between North and South Jersey.

There were such characters there. One of my dorm mates was an unkempt anti-establishment who despised jeans. I knew a tennis player who stopped playing tennis to start a rapping career.

My first night I watched a future great friend of mine rap Flo Rida’s Apple Bottom Jeans to an apathetic audience. He hopped up there and shouted at the crowd of other freshmen.

“Get on your feet. Come on everybody.”

Never before had I seen a crowd that unresponsive, to someone so energetic. That’s a memory I’ll treasure for years to come.

Every day had the potential to be a new adventure. A group of us bought dollar water guns. We were not supposed to have them. We also were not supposed to have a huge water gun fight spanning our entire dorm building. But we did anyway. We ran up and down stairs, hiding in elevators, waking up other residents. We got in trouble. We knew we would, but how could we pass up the opportunity? That was college.

There was so much freedom. In high school, everything was so rigid and calculated. You moved when the bells told you to. You went to school early in the morning and left when everyone else did. You had to even ask when you wanted to piss.

But in college, you didn’t have to go to class. You could go to other people’s classes and play an instrument if you wanted to. You could walk around in your pajamas, not bathe for days, and let your hair grow untamed. You were the master of your fate.

Is there a better joy in life than knowing you can do what you want whenever you want?

Of course with great power comes great irresponsibility. I had peers who crashed and burned right before my eyes, some within days of classes beginning. With no parental supervision or rigid schedule to adhere to, they became their own worst enemies. Their lives completely derailed by hedonism. Some are still picking up the pieces almost five years later.

I used the great power of freedom to go to my first wrestling live event. For a decade, I lived and breathed wrestling. Everybody hated Mondays, but I loved them. It meant another installment of Monday Night RAW. It was a cardinal sin in my household for me to even talk about it but I still caught RAW every week.

I walked 12 miles through a cold, snowy Trenton to get to the arena. All I had with me was a printed out Google Map and Have Heart blasting in my ears. Someone could have robbed, beaten up, or even murdered me. I was nearly run over by a car at an intersection. At one point I got completely lost. But who cares about danger when there’s wrestling!

When I entered that arena, my body shook like crazy in anticipation. There was the ring I saw every week on the show. The old ladies and obese men glared at me as I hollered and shouted throughout the show. They came to have a nice evening of entertainment. I came to have the time of my life! Even for the opening acts, I was on my feet until several people told me to sit down.

When I heard the opening guitar riff to CM Punk’s theme song, my heart skipped a beat. There he was. From my television screen to right in front of my eyes, the closest thing to a hero that I have. That was a mark out moment. The rest of the arena hated his guts. He was the biggest villain, a complete prick. He got right in fans’ faces, badmouthed New Jersey and beat on everyone’s hero, John Cena. I loved every second of it.

The power wasn’t all good for me. I got to do grocery shopping for myself. My meals consisted of Skittles, ice cream, snicker doodles, goldfish, Ritz crackers, Oreo’s, pop tarts, more skittles, assorted cookies, cinnamon toast crunch, Doritos, Tostitos and anything else with high fructose syrup. I may have lost four years of my life with my bad food choices. But it was so delicious.

I had the chance to delve into the film-making process and all the frustrations that go into it. I appreciate cinema a hell of a lot more now. Every movie made is a miracle. I’d consider the one short film that I wrote, produced, and directed to be the crowning achievement of my life so far. It’s not a great movie but it was in my brain and is now out there for everyone to see. My dreams brought to reality. That’s incredible. When we had our first script reading,

And boy did I ever write there. I had the chance to take two screen-writing classes when that’s not even allowed. Thanks crappy class selection system! I even got to listen to an Academy award winning screenwriter talk about his life. Without college I wouldn’t have this blog.

College gave me direction.

I’ll look back on the four years as life-changing

SINK

I remember writing my name down on that first student loan. There was a deep sink in my stomach, a ton of bricks weighing me down. I had a little less than two hundred dollars in my bank account at that time. I was borrowing thousands. I wasn’t even eighteen yet. My father assured me that this was the best decision for my future.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I would have told him, he was full of shit. But how could I have known then? My college was considered one of the best in the north east. My father said getting in was an accomplishment itself. I had to take that chance.

I didn’t know the terms of my student loan or how an interest rate worked. I didn’t understand the concept of looking around for better rates or getting money from other sources. I didn’t think of delaying my college education for years until I had enough money to pay it off. I didn’t think much at all. I acted.

I started in college with a dream that I’d become lawyer. After a mock trial in eighth grade, I thought it was a good fit. My major was criminology. But after only two classes, I learned the realities of our justice system and found it morally bankrupt. It was a system not set up to help, but to exploit people. There was no justice. People could walk away from crimes because of who they knew or how much money they had. The system was racially biased. I wanted no part in it. So then I had to answer the question we all struggle to answer. What do I want to do with my life?

My father said I was a strong writer so I should drift towards journalism. I had no objections. Journalism was new to me so.

I wanted to love reporting. I’d listen to news radio and read Huffington Post, Fox News, MSNBC. I’d write for the campus newspaper when given the chance. My life depended on me falling in love with my new major. But my heart never was into it. My professor would bring in professional journalists from different beats to our class. With each of them, a realization came over me. I didn’t want to follow down any of their paths. I spent thousands to learn a craft I didn’t love.

Oh no. What could I do about it? I couldn’t get that time back nor could I refund my money. Trapped.

I wanted to go back to seventeen, to that day on my high school football field. Back to when I had everything in front of me. Back when I had to the power to do or become anything.

I came to another crossroads in my junior year. I could have left. My life’s future didn’t depend on that piece of paper. I had value with or without the degree. I could save me. I’d cut my losses and take on the world.

My father disagreed. I had one more year to go. Why not finish it off? Suck it up and write for a newspaper. What would I do without college?

I didn’t know. I knew I’d have control and a genuine smile on my face if I went down that way. But what became of people without degrees? Weren’t they failures who flipped burgers or worked overtime at low paying jobs? Would I end up like one of them?

I took the easier path, the known path. I locked myself in for that final year. Then immediately started to hate myself. Everyone told me I made the right choice, but it made no difference to me. I saw myself as this coward. I acted out of fear. I could not live up to my words. I was an unjust man.

There were days where I’d get down on myself. All my problems would run through my head at once especially in those last few months. I’d blame myself for everything that had happened to me. I deserved my misery. I’d sit in class, not hear a word the professor would say. All I could see and hear was the past.

That time I threw a pen out the window and got detention. That time I took the blame for ripping down all. That time I called a friend . That time I missed the bus and had to walk home for the first time. That time I let down my father and missed. That time I tried to make friends and was instead mocked. That time my gym teacher mispronounced my name. That time That time my father said he was losing interest in me. That time I apologized to someone and they didn’t care. That time a friend tossed me away like I was trash. That time I nearly drowned to death as a child. That time I burst into tears in seventh grade.That time I stood on stage and forgot all my lines. That time That time I didn’t stand up and help a bullied friend. That time my grandfather died and I saw him laying there, lifeless.

These memories and more would swarm in my head, blocking out the present. Each one bubbling to the surface with that old pain cutting me again. My shitty life so far flashing in front of me. I couldn’t focus on homework. I couldn’t focus on applying for jobs. I couldn’t focus on the future nor did I want to. Because the future scared me. It was the pain that had yet to come.

Did I really want to wake up everyday and wither away right before my own eyes? Crow’s feet, bone aches, popping pills to keep going. Did I really want to live on and forget who I am? Or where I came from? What good was there in the future? Marriage? Children? I had zero interest in both of those things. What then for me? Work 40 hours a week for the next thirty to forty years so I can survive? Why the hell would I want to do that? Is there no escaping that reality?

I sought out a solution to my unsolvable problem. How could I escape the future? Time can’t be stopped. Each day I’d slip closer and closer out of one miserable existence into another. There had to be a way.

Then this devious morbid thought creeped into my head. What if I wasn’t around any more? What if there were no more me. What if I clocked out early?

On my worst days, I’d imagine the fallout. Never how I would do it. But what came next.

I’d be put on one of those funeral cards that my parent receive with a nice picture of the person. Smiling as big as they can, like they don’t have a clue what’s happened to them. Friends, family, and people who pretended to care about me gathering around my fresh corpse to mourn. I’d be there except not me at all, fitted with a suit I’d never wear and dressed up to be presentable for the ceremony. A solemn mood. Lots of black clothes. Crying? Yeah. My mother would be in shambles. My father stoic as always. And my brother, I can’t say for sure. Angry maybe. Confused like he often is. A pastor would talk, say some great things about me that he’d have never said if I were alive. There would be anger.

“Why?”

The question running through everyone’s heads. Could they have seen this coming? What did they miss?

Then they’d put me six feet under as part of the ritual.

There would be some lingering sentiment, but it would pass. Pain that would fade away. Life goes on. The world won’t stop for one dead boy. So why not?

I didn’t want to be dead. Death is not a solution to a problem. It’s the end of you.

This girl at my school jumped off the George Washington Bridge and killed herself during our last semester. For weeks she was missing before her body was finally found. I never knew the girl but it sounded like she had her entire life ahead of her. Her narrative came to a complete stop. She won’t ever conquer her demons or move to the next step. She’s gone.

What I wanted was to escape my life and all the obligations that came with it. I wanted room to breathe. Death wouldn’t give me that. I wanted to just live.

In college I learned to love solitary walks at night. Away from everyone. I’d gaze down a street and wonder what would happen if I followed it. See where the road would take me. I’d have my days where the temptation to walk further overcame me. I’d press on. The familiar streets would fade away behind me. My college long gone. My hometown miles away. I’d move on and all my problems would melt away behind me. My friends, my family, my identity. Away. Away. Away from it all. Each step taking me onto a new life, giving me back control.

But I’d stop. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t leave that behind. What would I do? Where would I even go?

I’d make the solemn trek back to my life.

My life where I am the odd one out; different, peculiar, and most of all, weird. Even the people who put me here don’t know what to make of me. The apple has fallen as far from the tree as it can. Whether it’s on some online forum, a family get-together, or in class , I am out of place. Always have been, always will be. I understand that now.

“A sense of belonging is not a privilege that you enjoy.”

I am the single drop of oil in an ocean of water, a corruption of the natural flow of life. An aberration.

I left college, this feeble self-pitying husk; so full of fear of the future. The wind could have blown me over.

“Congratulations!”

Everyone kept repeating that. Again and again on that day they set up to honor us. May 17th, 2013.

I thought up scenarios where I could fail my classes at the last minute and not have to take that walk of shame. But my stupid geology professor passed me even though I couldn’t tell the difference between a stalagmite and Vegemite.

Graduation day was a hot day, damn hot. My housemates and I had to walk to campus. To say we were sweating is an understatement. I thought about what a stupid tradition the graduation gowns were.

As we fanned ourselves with our hats, the neighborhood came out to congratulate us as we made our way to the university.

Gosh. I still remember opening the door to my department’s graduation ceremony. All the experiences that separated me and my seventeen-year-old self flowed through me. I couldn’t shake off this feeling of defeat.

Everyone had that same dumb smiles on their face. Why the hell were they so happy? I didn’t I was the sole frown in the room. My mother told me to cheer up. This was my day.

I sat around strangers and acquaintances. I didn’t know any of the people called up for their awards. These were my peers.

They called my name. I got pity golf claps.

My professor had a grand smile. One of her students had graduated and was on to the next step in their life.
She congratulated me with the utmost enthusiasm.

No matter what she handed to me, in my own head. I would be a failure and a coward. She could not wipe away my regret or alleviate my torment.

She handed me my prize, what I set out to achieve when I signed my name down on student loan; a folder to hold my degree in.

I feigned a smile for her. It was the least I could do; not make a scene and let my true feelings come out. This was a day of celebration not time for a grumpy young man to vent.

I don’t remember what I wrote in my college graduation hat before I tossed it away.

A year later, I still have this sour taste in my mouth whenever someone brings up college. I could never win there. I lost so much. I lost my bravery. I gained twenty pounds. I lost my self-respect. I grew a ratty beard. I lost my confidence. I lost my motivation. And I paid for all that. I paid with more money than I’ve had in life.

For the past year, my life became this self-pity party. Oh woe is me. I wanted my life to be this long winded sob story. I’d blot out the good parts to fit a narrative.

I am sad and angry because the world is cruel. Happiness is an accident, that time when you forget your troubles. Happiness is delusion. That time when you lie to yourself because you’re afraid of the world. You should fear the world. It’s full of pain, sorrow, and hollow victories. Why try? The world will destroy anything you create.

Is that the narrative I want my life to follow? Can I change it? Should I? Do I want to?

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