thoughts

IT’S TIME TO TAKE A STAND!

Just heard about the terrible Santa Fe school shooting that resulted in the loss of ten lives, ten, innocent lives. Shooter was a student there, 17 years old, a Football player–stuff like that’s rough to hear.

My brother’s going into high school; this next year he’s going to be a Freshman. Is this the kind of world he’s going to have to grow up in? Is there any way to prevent it, or at the least, drastically lessen the chances of more shootings occurring?

That’s two major school shootings, Parkland, now Santa Fe, within the span of three months. Those are the major ones, too; I haven’t mentioned the countless other shootings that haven’t made the news for one reason or another. That shouldn’t be an increasing statistic; in fact, it should be non-existent: NO MORE SCHOOL SHOOTINGS WHATSOEVER!

I’ll tell you this, too, I don’t believe guns are the answer. Anyone with the motive to harm another human being is going to do whatever they can to accomplish that. Take away guns, they’ll use something else–take away that thing, and they’ll find another and another and another.

It’s a matter of mental health. These kids and adults that shoot up these schools are either mentally disturbed or in poor social situations. Now, I’m not saying what they did wasn’t wrong, but we need to look at their root causes: what is driving them to kill?

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris (Columbine): Bullied, Poor Family Relations, Mentally Unstable.

Nikolas Cruz (Parkland): Bullied, Poor Family Relations, Mentally Unstable.

There are clear similarities between all of these school shooters, and those are what we should be focusing on. Prevention and early detection are key in these situations: but little is being covered about them in the media.

So we need to take a stand and say something about the avenues we should take. There is no definite answer, no miracle solution, to anything; however, we can examine these possibilities and work towards creating a better future for America.

Human lives come above all else.

Stay strong, Santa Fe; measures will be taken.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

People Are Strange

I finished reading Catcher in the Rye, and I gotta say it’s an odd book, a quirky tale. Holden Caulfield is by no means your average teenager, but he is not an alien, either; so many people hate Holden, y’know, something I don’t understand.

The argument, I believe, is that the only people who can relate to him are mentally unstable. Okay, so Mark David Chapman reads it, then, what, people are blaming the book? Isn’t that a fallacy, or at the least, one of those conclusions people create that make no friggin’ sense?

I liked it. I really did. I liked that goddamn book.

See, look, now I’m speaking like Holden Caulfield: it’s a spiral, I tell you, and it keeps going downwards. Pretty soon, I’ll be wearing a deer hunter cap and chain smoking cigarettes.

People are strange, though, y’know. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from that book, it’s that people are strange. There’s no logic to it–you can try computing an equation all you want, and nothing’ll come of it but a tired mathematician. Call someone else for that, by the way, ’cause I suck at Math.

There’s strange people at work. at the store, at the intersection right before you turn onto your street. They’re everywhere, man; a bunch of weirdos doing their best to give off an aura of normalcy.

The other day, I saw one in Wal-Mart, word of honor! He had on this bulky cloak and a purple scarf; I also think he was wearing sunglasses…at night. Ah, of course, it didn’t register at first, but now I realize he was an avid Corey Hart fan. Nevermind, dude wasn’t strange, just misunderstood. Then again, I doubt 80’s rock was understood even when it was popular.

You can disagree with me if you want, and I’d like that, truly. You go ahead and think Sunglasses Man was strange, I’m not judging, only writing a blog post about the whole thing.

Yeah, he was strange, but not as strange as Holden. That’s where I think Catcher in the Rye is most effective–its depiction of the ultimate, angsty teen has yet to be rivaled. Could you argue James Dean got close in Rebel Without A Cause? Sure, but ask yourself: would there be a James Dean without a Holden Caulfield?

I dunno, haven’t studied enough of that stuff. Gimme an answer, and I’ll praise you.

Let’s think a moment now. We’ve established people are strange, but we don’t know which people. Is there a certain minority devoted to strange folk? is it why we have all these cults? or is it what we’re denying–we’re all strange in our own freaky way?

Gee, interesting concept, huh? It’s like none of us are the exact same, because that would be super boring.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Cred: Wired Reader

Mountains

Sometimes I feel like I just want to go into the mountains, say “Fuck it,” and just stay there for the rest of my time. See it as some kinda therapeutic practice–some bullshit excuse for not wanting to deal with all the stress of everything; and man, I dunno, but college is a hard fucking thing.

It doesn’t get easier, that much I know is true. It’s not even fun half of the time. Is it supposed to be? Am I missing some great answer; this grand illusion is obscuring all that I can see?

What am I supposed to be, a nicely dressed, nicely combed college student who swears up and down all of that scholarly shit that’s not even truthful half of the time? What the hell’s with people nowadays, anyway? Half the time, they’re preaching stuff I doubt they even believe; the other half the time, they’re complaining about the truth of the matter, leaning in favor of the candy-coated, cherry-on-the-friggin’-top version.

Truth is, it ticks me off. Oh, yeah, you think I’m into that? Hell no.

I don’t wanna feel like I’m pretending anything, either. It’s like we gotta wear masks everywhere we go in this life, switch them out for different occasions; it’s a load of crap, man, I tell you.

Be who you’re gonna be. Yeah, Barbie sang a song about it, so maybe she’s got the right idea.

Be who you’re gonna be regardless of what people say, think, or do, ’cause the only person it matters to is you.

Sounds easy. It’s not. I’m sure most of you, if not all, know that, might even have trouble with it on a day-to-day basis.

Keep fighting the good fight, though. It’s the best you can do in this world, just keep your head up; but I know most of this will go over most of your heads, as we only listen to the advice that sounds good to us.

Right? Wrong? All of the above?

I dunno.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Stranger In A Wasteland

Saw this couch in a field in Falcon. Someone’d left it there; it was all ratty, torn out from the inside. Foam crumbles surrounded it, and there were droppings beneath its springs.

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Strange, is all. You don’t typically see couches left in the middle of nowhere; I didn’t want to touch it, either, scared of what might be on the fabric. If anything, it was surreal–facing out to rolling hills, houses in the distance.

Then I came across this quilt–

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Beautiful quilt, yeah? Who chose to throw it out? Looked to be holding something, but I didn’t want to unwrap it; again, safety’s priority number one out there.

Stranded objects in a wasteland, each of them with their own mysteries, perhaps a story or two.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

From the Standpoint of A Teen…

What’s up, everybody?

I haven’t seen you guys the past few weeks, been hectic with college starting back again. I got papers and more papers. Not to mention, I’m also working on two of my novels, trying to salvage enough time to accomplish all of it.

I’ve been good, y’know, being eighteen, getting used to Life; although, I’ve been getting used to it since I came into this world. It’s not as if once you leave high school, you’re initiated into this Adults-Only Section–and no, I’m not talking about the place where they store the dirty movies.

That ticks me off. Not the dirty movies, just the adults who forget what it’s like to be young, to have a fresh view of the world. I’m talking about the adults who patronize those on the fringes of adulthood: this teeter totter that rocks perilously over either side of an angst-filled abyss.

We don’t have a friggin’ map. People don’t provide one for us, and most of the time, we have to cut our own path through the jungle. Machetes are not provided. Also, water evaporates fairly quickly.

Guess I let it get to me sometimes, which is not so bad as it is disheartening. I think it’d be better if we all shook hands and congratulated one another on our accomplishments–but the world can’t always be so black and white.

We have different perspectives for a reason, yeah? For one, we’d be super bored without them. Imagine having a conversation with someone about Lord of the Rings, and for some reason, the other guy is as big a fan as you are, which should be impossible, ’cause you’re number one, right?

That’s to say we’re all a number one in one area of our lives. Least, I like to think so. Maybe you’re number one at pool or darts; hell, give hockey a shot, and you might end up in the NHL.

Chances, man, take ’em, but don’t get me started on how many times I’ve missed out on publication opportunities because I’ve forgotten the deadline. Yeah, I’m working on that part, getting better, though; y’know, learning from failure.

I know for a fact that the majority of my followers are adults, so, if you’re reading this, lemme plead to you from the standpoint of a teen:

  • We’re not all lazy, and if we are…we’ll work on it, got eighty more years, anyhow.
  •  Getting a job is not as easy as it used to be, but we’ll bust our asses until we find one.
  • Lastly, do you remember when you were our age?

Yeah, yeah, I get it’s called a generation gap, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it; and besides, the best way to get past a gap is to build a bridge.

A metaphorical one, of course.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Alex Schomberg

Does Genre Fiction Get A Bad Rap?

So, is it just me wondering this, or are there a bunch of you curious about the same thing?  Genre Fiction. This is Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, you name it; it’s everything except Literature, and it doesn’t look like its reputation in the the writing community has become any less infamous.

I’m a writer and a reader. I love all books, be they The Silence of the Lambs or Tess of the Durbervilles. ‘Course, the quality wanes in some books, and in others, it surpasses my expectations, but, man, that goes for everything on the planet.

What I’ve noticed, though, is that Literature often criticizes Genre Fiction for not having enough beautiful, inspired prose, while Genre Fiction complains Literature can be boring as hell.

I can see both sides of the argument, and I understand them. They’re rational, for one, and, well, you’re not gonna go to Tarzan of the Apes looking for artful sentence structure, and Tom Wolfe’s writing is not so heart-pounding and adventurous, as it is introspective and inspiring.

The conflict; however, boggles me. Most genre fiction is influenced by classic literature.

We wouldn’t have I Am Legend without Dracula.

We wouldn’t have Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone without The Fellowship of the Ring.

We wouldn’t have Jaws without Moby Dick.

See, comparisons are scattered all over history, but most times, people forget to look.

It’s all art, right? At the end of the day, man, they’re just stories written for different purposes, drawing out different lives and scenarios, putting characters against unimaginable conflicts, hoping they’ll survive.

Books are great. Art is great. Literature and Genre Fiction are great.

Yes, they’re separate in structure and character and conflict and other writerly mumbo-jumbo, but they are connected through the art of writing; and since both are written–well, there’s one comparison.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Credit: Alex Schomberg

 

What’s Next, Then?

So, heh, got a funny story for you folks.

Okay, now get this–

I work three nights in a row as a dishwasher at Great Wolf Lodge; wait, that’s not the funny part, don’t laugh yet.

I work those three nights, and now that I’m on break I choose to work several more nights, ’cause why not? As of now, then, I am working Friday through Monday next week, which means I miss New Year’s Eve and Day. Well, I sort of miss the day, since I’m at home in the morning, but whatever…

You guys aren’t laughing. Did you miss the punchline? Was I not clear enough?

Alright, alright, I’ll say it again. Wait, what? You’re bored of it now?

Fine. I’ll move on.

What are we moving on to, though? I’ve been asking myself that question for a while, tossing it back and forth in my head; if you were wondering, no, I haven’t found an answer yet, so stop bugging me.

I’ll be working on my novel or washing dishes or lying in bed, staring at my gray ceiling; and the questions will creep in unwanted: What’s Next? Is There A Point To It All? Am I Spinning Fruitlessly In A Circle While Life Slips By Me?

I like to think those aren’t true, but, gee, what is or isn’t true nowadays? Our own perception of truth is clouded because we’re surrounded by so many falsehoods. One minute we’re learning about the Emancipation Proclamation, and the next we hear Abraham Lincoln was abducted by aliens at seven years old.

I mean, c’mon, people, everyone knows the Emancipation Proclamation was totally faked.

Just like the Moon Landing.

What I’m trying to say is that if we can’t count on the legitimacy of all this external stimuli, then what’s to stop us from misconstruing the truths and lies about ourselves?

People insult me; they say I’m gay, but I know I like girls and I’m just getting confused.

Well, what do you think? The only way to be sure is to confront the question yourself; those others have no justification in claiming one thing over another.

I feel like I’m swimming in a fucking abyss, tidal waves crashing over me so much I can barely breathe. But I tell myself I’m fine.

Are you? Don’t jump to conclusions. The worst thing that could happen is that you end up believing in the wrong answer…which you don’t want. Look in a mirror and ask yourself honestly if you’re fine. Again, the truth can only come from you.

This bleak and dismal stuff can get depressing, but I think it’s a fair topic. There’s too many times I find myself stuck in a dull mood because my future is unclear; although, let’s be honest, folks, who the hell has a notion of how their life is gonna turn out?

From our first step to our last breath, we’re all a little mystified, aren’t we?

Don’t know about you, but I am. Ahead is sometimes foggy, and the past, oh, the past, is always so visible; God, if I tallied how many times I looked back on the past in nostalgia, or as in most cases, for fulfillment, I’d be at a thousand…maybe two thousand, and a quarter.

The present is a tricky dude. It’s satisfying for a few seconds, then it descends into oh-no-how-did-I-not-predict-this and I-thought-I-could-see-the-friggin-future-darn-it.

Yeah. Tricky. Slick. Slicky.

By the way, that’s tricky and slick combined. Just saying.

Still, the best we can do to combat it is to hold fast to the handlebars and not fall off the ride; since, even though it gets bumpy, there are occasionally a bunch of flashing lights and stage performers to entertain us during its slow parts. Then you gotta deal with the lines at the end, as well as the parking lots–

Sorry. Got off topic there; then again, I believe I’ve said all that needs to be said.

Guess there’s nothing left than to wish you all a Happy New Year’s, and to hope you keep an optimistic outlook on your futures, too.

It can be difficult, but it’s worth it.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

This One Stressful Day

Ever have those times when you have to stop and wonder how you got into a certain situation? It’s not what I’d call a moment of reflection, nor a Oh-my-God, how did this happen situation; it’s more of a what the hell did I do to bring me here of all places?

I had a time like that. Yeah, it was today; in fact, it’s still fresh in my mind, like a tray of cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven.

See, it started with my brother asking me if I had used his bathroom. ‘Course, why would I use his, when I have my own, right? So, my answer’s no. He doesn’t like that for an answer, and he goes storming off down the hall, raging about his toilet flooding the bathroom, swimming crap included.

For all those who just lost their appetite, allow me to let you know I am eating ice cream, so if anyone is losing anything, it’s me–then again, I could still be happily eating while writing this; all bets are off.

I sigh, look back at Netflix, since I am a lazy college kid on break, who only works three days a week; yes, yes, I’ve heard all the criticisms. Then I realize I’m an adult, and as an adult, I have to deal with said swimming crap.

“Josh,” I call, “show me this bathroom.”

I’m expecting turds hanging ten on toilet waves, a piss monster rising from the shower, but I do not have these expectations fulfilled. Rather, I see a sticky floor with food crumbles scattered all over the tiles, and it stinks, too, which makes it worse.

My brother and I then grab the bleach and pour it all across the floor. This makes an even worse smell, but by now, who honestly cares? I emerge from the bleached bathroom, unscathed, save for a burning sensation on my shins; as it turned out, some of the bleach had sprayed onto my skin.

What luck.

I look at the bottle of bleach, read the warning about getting the stuff on your skin, and   I groan. Apparently, if it got on your skin, you had to spray the affected area(s) with water for fifteen to twenty minutes.

So I tell my brother to leave the bathroom alone and enter my own shower, fully dressed, and take down the shower head and spray my shins for fifteen minutes.

About then, I start wondering what the hell did I do to bring me here of all places? It’s 1:00 in the afternoon, and here I am standing in a shower, washing my legs free of bleach, while toilet water slowly sinks its way through to the kitchen ceiling.

Life. I swear I don’t even attempt to understand it sometimes.

I ended up burn free, and the bathroom was left alone; however, our house now reeks of bleach.

Hooray for toilet problems.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

How To Grow A Serial Killer

Meet Bill Sykes, a nice, caring, six-year old boy, who lives in a Catholic-oriented house on the brink of foreclosure, due to insufficient payments.

Bill has schizophrenia, but has never been diagnosed.

Ronald and Rebecca Sykes are Bill’s parents, each of them having fallen out of love with each other since they slipped those brass rings on their fingers.

Ronald is a construction worker who is paid a measly wage of $10.00 an hour. He works on and off, as winter can be a cruel blow of the hammer to his usual routine.

When Ronald works, he works until six at night, at which point he drives the fifteen miles home from the construction site. He gets home, releases the family dog, an anorexic Rottweiler named Harold, feeds him the scraps of that night’s dinner–usually fried chicken bones from KFC–and steals a beer from the fridge and plops in front of the television and watches reruns of Star Trek until he passes out, drunk.

Bill often cries in the middle of the night, has spasms that contort his body in positions extremely uncomfortable for a six year old, has visions of the Devil stalking around his small bedroom with its circus elephant wallpaper.

When the cries begin at midnight, they do not wake Ronald from his alcohol induced slumber.

Rebecca was raised prominently Catholic in the cornfields of Kansas, and was trapped, her whole childhood, within a fierce matriarchy founded on heavy-handed religious doctrines, such as shouting the verses of the Bible aloud while having her bare back and buttocks whipped.

She married Ronald in 2009. It was the definition of a shotgun wedding; and she became pregnant with Bill in 2010, giving birth to him on December 14th, 2011, after a four week delay.

Rebecca is a nurse at the local hospital. She works the night shift, from 9:00 p.m to 5:00 in the morning; and when Rebecca comes home, she strips off her uniform and climbs into bed and recites her favorite verses of the Bible before heading to sleep.

When the cries begin at midnight, they do not wake Rebecca, due to her insistence on listening to the audiobook recording of the New Testament with her noise-blocking headphones.

Let’s take a closer look here:

Bill has had his case of schizophrenia for about as long as he has been alive. The Devil visions are frequent–they worry him to the point of clawing at his walls and knocking his head against his bedroom window.

This schizophrenia is heightened by the religious pressures of Rebecca, who, most of the time, has the right intentions, but is not in the right mind. An ideal evening to her is having both Ronald and Bill read out of their paperback copies of the Bible before dinnertime, shouting at them, threatening to whip them, if one verse is used out of place.

Of course, this frightens Bill; in fact, it frightens him so much that he has nowhere else to pour his emotions but outside, in the woods beside his house. On particularly tumultuous nights, he goes out to these woods and slits the throats of a few rabbits snug in a log, or, in the bushes. He hangs their carcasses on the limbs of the nearby trees and flaps their mouths to the tune of The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round; this occurs for a number of hours, neither Ronald nor Rebecca care or notice.

Inaction.

Ignorance.

Absence.

Consider what you have read so far. Consider Bill and Ronald and Rebecca individually, not as a wholesome family unit. Consider how each person contributes to one terrifying truth:

Something is wrong with Bill.

Take Ronald, the alcoholic who is responsible for the quickly foreclosing house. Does he know about this future? Undoubtedly. Will he do anything to prevent it? Unlikely.

Here we have bad social conditions, involving a house that is cleaned every few months, and which is in danger of slipping from its owner’s hands.

We also have an alcoholic. Ronald averages four to six beers a day; most of those hours are spent being angry at the world and those around him, specifically, Bill and Rebecca.

Let’s look back at those three words.

Inaction.

Ignorance.

Absence.

Ronald fits into all three of them. He refuses to act on the approaching closure of his house; he is blind to the sufferings of his six-year old child, Bill, who tells his teachers that the Devil has told him to do bad things; and he is off at work most of the day, but the time he is at home, he is unconscious.

Rebecca focuses on her Bible; she feels it her duty to ensure her religious rules are enforced from morning to night, the oppressive mental state of her son be damned. She is more of a mother to the strangers she treats at midnight, than she is to the child she should provide for, care for, and listen to.

Inaction.

Ignorance.

Absence.

She, too, fits into all three of them.

Why is this important? Why focus on the strange hobbies of a mentally disturbed child in a dysfunctional family?

The question we should be asking is, Why Not?

The bit I left out–the piece that ties this all together–lies in the future: Bill’s future.

See, by the time Bill turns 20, he is still living with his parents. No, he is not attending college, and, despite having a powerful enthusiasm for all things natural, as well as an above average IQ, he does not secure a job as a National Park Attendant.

His mother tells him it will take time away from his Bible studies.

At 22, then, Bill headlines newspapers around the country–

BILL SYKES CAUGHT, ACCUSED OF COMMITTING 23 MURDERS

His victims are all young women; however, there is nothing, not hair color, personality, or their names, tying them together, save that they are all nurses.

He strangles all of them.

In court, a few days after the release of the newspaper article, amid masses of reporters, even Bill’s own parents, all wondering why such a kind, harmless young man would commit such atrocities, the Judge asks Bill why he did it.

Bill answers, “The Devil told me to do it.”

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

 

What Has Become Of The World?

I woke up late today. Had gotten in at 11:00 the night before, exhausted from work; and so I slept until about 9:00.

When I woke up, the first thing I did was reach for my phone, which was lying beside my bed, and I looked at the screen to see a News update. The tagline that caught my attention was–Worst Mass Shooting in U.S History.

I studied it. Las Vegas? Monterey Bay? Why would someone want attack Las Vegas?

So, confused, I went upstairs and switched on the news; of course, the events were breaking on every local and national news channel. The information piled up, and the overall feeling I received was grim.

50 or more people killed, and at least 500 more injured. One shooter, aiming from a window on the 32nd floor.

A thought came to me: University of Texas.

That tragedy happened before I was born, but I knew enough about it to draw eerie parallels between both of these incidents.

I thought, “What if this guy’s like Charles Whitman? What if his life just went to complete shit, and all he could think to do was take out his frustrations on these hundreds of innocent lives?”

What if?

For close to thirty minutes, I watched the live coverage, listening to the reports of the concert goers, most of them barely able to talk; and when they were, it was through tears.

A report that hit me was from a woman who claimed she had had a feeling that something was going to happen at the concert.

How dark must our society have become that when we attend these large public events, one of our primary fears is, “What if there’s a shooter?” or “What if I, or someone I know, dies here tonight?”

Fear is now unfortunately an integral aspect of living life.

I mean, hell, I go to some concerts, even circuses, and I just get this ominous feeling.

However, just because we’re afraid doesn’t mean we have to let the fear win.

I think, as humans, we can overcome anything. We’ve survived God knows how many horrors this world has thrown our way–and yet…we always find a way to come out on top and persevere.

We are Americans, after all. That’s gotta count for something.

The best remedy to any tragedy, I think, is to let it out–let your emotions, your griefs, be heard, because as long as that sadness–that total obliteration of knowing what’s going to happen next–is pent up inside you, then it will never stop haunting you.

To those affected by the events in Las Vegas, the previous night might not ever stop being as real as it is to you right now, and that’s okay–so long as you yourself are okay, and are persevering amid darkness.

Stay strong, America.

Think daily,

A Southpaw