Spacetrash (my new podcast)

It’s been a gruesome year to say the least and stress is running high, especially now in the U.S. as we approach what is arguably The Most Consequential Election in history. But all that angsty jazz aside, I started a new creative thing with my cousin and dear friend, Mark, and I wanted to share it here with you.

Way back in June of this year, Mark and I were hanging out at a beach rental, drinking and staring up at the stars from the wide open rooftop deck overlooking the ocean, and we traded ideas about creating a podcast where we chat about modern day culture and how we maintain our creativity during the chaotic mess that is 2020.

In our first episode of *Spacetrash* (to be fair, a satellite drifted by as we were discussing things upon that rooftop deck, and also, as I just said, we were drinking well into that beautiful starry night) we laugh, we lament, we pontificate, and philosophize and hope and despair, and just generally riff on all manner of creative timely topics from writing to screenwriting to reality tv, to space junk, to long distance relationships, and so much more.

This is a completely new project for me in the sense that my writing has been generally ethereal and melancholy of late, but this podcast? This is just me having fun with someone I love so very dearly, getting to know each other’s perspectives on art and culture and modern life in general.

You can listen in on Spotify, click here.

I hope you enjoy it! If for no other reason than the world is shit right now, but we can still find joy and revel in it wherever and whenever we can. Or we can just make it up as we go.

Because I will be straight with you, I have not been able to write or think or create or communicate in the same ways ever since March of 2020. Literally everything feels up for grabs right now. Like everything.

My emotions are all over the place at any given moment. My worldview warps and changes and collapses and rebuilds itself over and over on the daily. It is maddening and maybe because of that, I am clinging tight to those I love, hoping against hope we all come out okay on the other side.

Whatever that means.

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Photo by Billy Huynh

You Can Feel the Seasons Click

The cool night air smells of a spicy stiffness, it licks its sharp tongue against the bare skin of my legs where my black tights don’t quite meet my beat up sneakers.

He hands me the flask as we make our way up a low hill which overlooks a graveyard. Turning to sit under a tree, I take a deep swig of the peanut butter whiskey we brought along for festive reasons, though they feel a little more stale against the apocalyptic background hellscape of just another day.

The whiskey is too sugary for him so I’m swallowing more than my share which seems to trouble neither of us, so I curl up inside the warmth of my jacket and observe the twinkling lights of the town below. He leans against the trunk of the tree, speaking something so low I can’t understand him, just observe the way the dim light outlines his profile in the empty air.

You can feel the seasons click underneath your skin. The moon hangs high in the vast midnight blue sky, half lit. I think about the empty promise of equality and the illusion of balance. The way day and night are of equal hours now for a while.

He holds onto daylight while I scratch my fingernails along the spine of the darkness, coaxing night. I want it all over me, the darkness, like rich soil buried beneath an endless field of pristine white snow. What is that saying about thinking you are burying a thing when really the thing was a seed and so it began to grow?

I do not fear the darkness or the coming of winter. There has always been fire enough in my bones.

Lighting up a cigarette, he sits down close to me and exhales a grayish plume of smoke into the increasingly frigid air. His fingers interlace with mine among the weeds. I think of Halloween and innocence, the child’s play of trick or treat.

Soon we will make our way back home and do the things we always do. But for just a few moments, we scan our eyes out across the tiny headstones like some kind of nocturnal animal headlights.

Nothing is forever.

Some things are destined to be carved in stone.

In the silence, I can hear our hearts beating in unison, feel the warmth of blood and whiskey in our veins.

You can smell the burning of days gone by, the offering, the sacrifice, the cyclical nature of all things. You can feel the seasons click underneath your skin.

 

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Photo by Tania Medina

Dissonance

Everything is nerves. The coffee tastes sick, or maybe that’s the bile churning in my stomach. In my throat. My mind is chewed up inside the newsfeed as it makes of me, my neuroses, my tendencies, my addictions, a feast.

I am studied. I am a study.

I do not know how I feel because I feel so much I have had to go numb to survive. A little bit, I just breathe a little bit. Everything in small bites, tiny sound bites like a digital water torture I sign myself up for. Sign myself into. Login. Pay for. Pay handsomely for.

Somewhere across town a panicked woman watches a panicked man flashing on the screen and validates her own fears against his. Fear is manufactured, you know? They promised manufacturing jobs would return.

The coffee is cold as I shiver beneath my nest of blankets, window open to the chilled autumn air coming off the street. Inside the room inside my mind I feel the tension rise and fall with the spinning in my belly. The cognitive dissonance of these days is jarring. The threat is overwhelming because it is us.  The line between existing and not has always been us.

We are an experiment. We are the cure and the disease. We are the lab and the secretions. The junkie and the drug.

It’s finally fall which means we are finally done with the wretched scorch of the sun. I’ll take the razor sharp blue sky, the orange blaze of another season burning by. I adore the changing leaves, crimson cinnamon air, and the frigid ocean waves glittering in dazzling white morning light.

And all the while, the terror. A family torn apart. Entire lives and their dreamers, up in smoke. Comedians. Fundraisers. Artists. Soldiers. Models. Click bait. Murder. Botox. Kitchen supplies.

The pornography of a life distorted. Voided out. Blocked.

And I know I have to try. And I know they tell me it’s ‘now more than ever.’

I know it’s how they want us. Colliding with ourselves inside.

 

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Photo by Omid Armin

 

Something Which Eats Itself: Why We Must Vote Trump Out in November

We have become something unspeakable. Something which eats itself.

The current President of the United States of America is driven only by one thing: greed. And greed, by its very nature, can never be satisfied, it can never be filled; it will always be empty, it will always be starving, it will always be on the take.

Greed knows no other way.

Donald Trump knows only greed, and greed knows only one thing: ‘more.’

The insatiable need for more power, more money, more attention, more fame, more horror, more destruction, more chaos, more shock, more trauma, more ratings, more more more more until, ultimately, nothing more exists because greed has eaten everything.

And so it is forced, by its very own nature, to eat itself.

If left unchecked, unchallenged, undefeated, the only end to greed is the end of everything.

Donald Trump is not in the highest office in the world in order to serve or protect the American people, or any people at all in fact, except for him and his family. He stole the office because of greed, and because he is aligned with all of the very powerful people all across the world who know only greed, only acquisition at any and all cost, including, and sometimes centered around, the loss of human life.

Nothing is personal to the greedy, and yet everything is.

Entire lives lived out on full display devoted to a single insatiable sadistic relentless craving for more. Money. Power. Chaos.

Destruction, panic, and suffering for entertainment.

The fewer people on the planet, the less bothered these powerful people have to be with the inconveniences humanity as a collective pose to the obtaining of more land, more resources, more. Hence the denial of climate change. Let us burn and drown.  Let us fend for ourselves. Let us be extinguished by ignorance. Perish by smoke and mirrors.

And so they push ‘herd immunity’ and let the virus ‘run its course.’ It’s all a game. It’s one big worldwide episode of Survivor. 

Tell us patriotism means being willing to die for the economy.

It means to die for the NRA.

The people Trump has put in charge of the vital institutions of our democracy have been put there precisely because they are hellbent on destroying these very institutions. Placed in charge of the educational system, disease control, healthcare, mail delivery services, legal systems.

The ones who are supposed to protect us want only to annihilate us.

The country is being dismantled from the inside out. It goes on because there is no accountability. No force greater than greed has sufficiently challenged the greed, and so it goes. The threat is grave because it is invisible yet evident everywhere, it is hiding in plain sight. The call is coming from inside the house.

The flaunting of the corruption, the indignities, the lying, the deceit, the cruelty, the anger, the fear, the pardoning of cronies and criminals.

The refusal of even reputable media to call lying and cheating what it is. To speak truth to power. Even as the stakes have never been higher to do so.

It is not politics. The cleverest thing they have done is to convince us this is about politics. Fuck politics. ‘Politics’ is an illusion. It pretends to have lines you can cross or not cross, no. This is about the very basics of human decency, honesty, integrity. The value placed on human life, or the lack of value placed on it.

Basic human decency versus the vacant vacuum of greed which will never be satisfied until it eats everything and then is forced to eat itself.

If we do not vote Trump out of office in this election it is Game Over for our democracy. The ramifications will last generations and will decimate not only America but the world. There will be no stopping it. Already we are cut off from our allies, deliberately and recklessly, we are being systematically isolated, lied to, terrorized, bullied, abused.

It’s like the abused spouse who is cut off from anyone who may be able to help her. Made helpless, gaslit, and left alone. Much easier, therefore, to control.

No one is coming to save us.

So we have to save ourselves.

We get one last shot. We have got to make it count, we have got to win this thing and the only way to do it is in massive numbers that leave no question about the overwhelming outcome of this election in Biden’s favor.

But we won’t, unless we see just how very dire a situation we are currently in, and how very bad it will become if we do not shut it down in November.

It isn’t just that Donald Trump doesn’t care if we live or die – it’s that he is actively pursuing the latter.

We must vote Biden into the White House this November like our lives depend on it because they absolutely do. I do not write this to convert anyone who is already committed to Trump. There is nothing in that for any of us.

I write this for anyone in America who is thinking of sitting this election out for any reason. Please VOTE.  It matters. Vote while we still can. Vote while we still have a voice and a way to make damn sure it is heard. Make your plan, get registered, make sure all of your friends and family do the same.

Lastly, to my fellow Pennsylvanians, we are a CRITICAL swing state this year, in fact it was stated on fivethirtyeight.com that we are THE critical swing state in all of the USA. If PA goes red, Trump has an 84% chance of winning the Presidency. If we go BLUE Biden has a 96% chance of winning the Presidency.

We have become something unspeakable. Something which eats itself. The only way to stop the greed from destroying everything in its wake is to remove it, like a cancerous tumor, from the host.

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Photo by Tania Medina

Worth Your Life

This confirms my sense that I have been allowed to use my life well, in work that was worth the time spent on it. 

This is a quote by Ursula K. Le Guin from the foreword of her essay collection Words Are My Matter. When I read this collection in 2016, I was moved by many of the pieces but I cannot say that any in particular stuck out to me in such a way that I could recall them now in vivid detail. Though, I am sure that in revisiting some, they would sound familiar in ways unexpected and welcome.

Reading most books is this way, each becomes part of me but more like they run through my blood together as a collective liquid life, one idea flowing right into the next and melting into new blended form, thus enriching, nourishing one another. That is to say, each book does not become its own single part of me, a bone or a tooth or a limb, but rather pours into who and what I already am, and then stays with me like an undercurrent of ever renewed and renewing life force.

In the dark hours of this morning, as I sipped my coffee and listened to the sifting of the crickets buzzing outside my window, I picked up Le Guin’s collection once again and re-read the foreword, coming upon this sentence which cut right to my center.

Perhaps the timing is uncanny and that is why these words in particular held my little sleepyhead face in their hands. I have spent my whole life writing, and have changed, evolved, and grown as a writer and consumer of the word (I believe, I hope).

But right now, in my life this minute, at the very top of today, a day on top of so many which have been rocked by fear and catastrophe, wonder and hope and uncertainty, I find myself wondering, why? What has it all been for, and have my values changed over all this time in a way that means going forward I will take a new path in my writing.

Could I have more intimate, intricate things to say?

How can I be sure I know that late in life, when I look back, I too can say I have used my life well, in work that was worth the time.

 

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Photo by Elia Pellegrini

Spirits (audio)

The hands of the clock slide down the wall as shadows dance playfully in the quiet fading light of evening. Creaks in the floorboards remind me of haunted things, each sudden sound a touch on my shoulder and I could swear someone was there.

The silence gets to you, toys with your senses and knocks your sense of perception just off enough to make you wonder whether or not you are losing your mind. These days, of course, how would you even know.

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid in the backyard right before a rainstorm? How the little hairs on your tiny arm would stand on end at the first distant rumble of thunder, the smell of the earth mingled with moisture, and a rush of electric excitement would course through your veins? Those moments felt so alive to me, more alive than so many moments now all grown up.

Something of the magic falls vacant inside. What it feels like to have faith in a universe which can still surprise you in a way that you can hold in your heart forever.

How long ago was forever?

Sipping my wine, I look out above the empty street. I watch glittery specks of light pierce the dark as the stars come out all over the globe. The curtains blow in the sweet summer nightwind against my cheek.

When I close my eyes, I can feel something in the atmosphere as it is breathing.

A sound like footsteps in the hall as a kid lying still beneath the blankets in the dark. I could have sworn someone was there.

 

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Photo by Elia Pellegrini

Mind’s Eye

Crawling up close to me, he tries to pull me under the covers to fall back asleep but I want none of it so I get up quick and slide out of the bedroom, pulling the door closed softly behind me. There is another world which calls to me like a siren, and I need to get to her before she disappears out over the horizon with the first light of dawn.

It’s not him, it’s me. I can’t take the noise in my head and I can’t fold my body into sex anymore, it’s all just too loud. I’ve got too much on my mind. I know that sounds obnoxious, but I would hush the whole world if I could just to find some kind of quiet meaning in all of this.

I am drawn to the page even as the page causes me such terrible trouble. My system is a wreck of words and nerves, desires and dreams, and for some reason it’s the early morning hours that plunge me straight into the depths of my most favorite beautiful chaos.

The midnight ocean mind is where the real seduction is, imagination, fantasy, escape. The mind is the muscle of the soul, someone wise and luminous once said. To think for yourself is holy work. And perhaps it is. Perhaps what I am searching for is grace, enlightenment, some kind of profound answer to the questions I do not yet know how to ask in a way that would reveal me to myself.

As the full bright moon glows like a single light bulb up in an empty sky, I realize that so often my mind feels completely disconnected from my soul, and everything else in my life. I go through the motions like everyone else but inside is a whole other universe, a whole other story. One that begs to be told.

This is me. I am an attempt to touch that place, and touch it, and touch it alone.

 

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Photo by Davide Ragusa

Flashing Lights (audio)

The screen of my laptop keeps flickering making it hard to write because all I see are black and white flashes in rapid succession, horizontal lines skewing up and down in distortion. Google tells me it’s some kind of ribbon in the hinge that’s malfunctioning but with the plague out there and my nerves eating the underside of my pale skin in here, I decide to wrestle with the laptop until I get it just so and the screen stabilizes for the time being.

Lazy I know, but these days it’s hard to tell what amount of effort placed in accomplishing anything is worth the time or the money.

He’s out running errands, so I ask him to pick me up a bottle of rose wine on his way home, something pretty, something he thinks I would like. There’s nothing to celebrate. It is no special occasion this evening but I decide the full moon energy is excuse enough to cheer myself from the well of clutching despair which I somehow manage to trip and slide deep down into in the afternoons.

Screen once again flickering, I sip my last now-cold swallow of tea and look out upon the thin gray rain. It is so thin I have to squint to see if it’s really there or if I am just imagining it, just willing it to be falling down into the dirty black street.

I don’t like the potential for a thing to be happening, I like the thing to just go ahead and happen, just get on with it, good, bad or indifferent. It’s the waiting, the watching, the wondering, the waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s the hesitation, that’s what kills you.

Glancing out the window into the garden I see that somehow the yellowish light behind the thick cloud cover makes the high trees appear a kind of unnatural electric green. 

As he shuffles in with the wine, I take a swig straight from the bottle and kiss him on the cheek. When the floral notes make their way down to warm my wild insides, the staleness of the day is so thin I feel it slip through my fingers and circle down the drain as I rinse our glasses in the sink. 

 

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Photo by Ari He

Now More Than Ever

Meaning has lost all meaning, I come to this conclusion as I sit hovered over the page, pen in hand, empty, confused, wondering how exactly I got here. Not that here is anyplace particularly perplexing. I am a writer, the page, the screen, the pen, the keyboard, it’s all a home of sorts, just one that sucks me in only to kick me down and leave me feeling disconnected at times like these.

But we come back for the mistreatment. We always do. Writers are masochists.

I’ve taken an interest in researching carnal alchemy. BDSM and that. Always fascinating to me, mostly from a psychological perspective. Sadism. Marquis de Sade. I had read that the sadist is also the artist, which was an interesting concept.

“The Sadist is also the Artist. The insightful definition of Sadeanism offered by Gorer (“the pleasure felt from the observed modifications on the external world produced by the will of the observer”) is equally true of the Artist or Magician. In the work of all of these types something is imagined in the subjective universe and from there it is caused to come into being in the objective universe.” – Stephen E. Flowers

It has been said that Sade had an uncanny ability to be both outrageously grotesque while at the same time terribly boring. I’ve not read him so I cannot say, but just having this impression is somewhat amusing. Humans are so hellbent on pleasure they numb themselves to it all in the end.

We think there has to be something more. Is this all there is, we think to ourselves.

I get through the day to get through the day to get through the week. I try placing my faith in hope but the love, the trust, just isn’t there anymore. I reach out and my fingers stretch deep into the void.

I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know ‘how I am.’ I don’t know who I am. Or perhaps I should say it in this way: I don’t know who I am in relation to what is happening all around me.

Is it too much out there or too much in here?

My country is dying. It is in the fits and throws of gasping and grasping for breath. The fires are all consuming and we are trying to stand back and assess the risks of running in or running away.

I listen to a beautiful person speak about purpose. They mention God and I light up a cigarette as I watch their immaculate face illuminated by the light reflecting off of the ceiling as cars pass on the street below, flashing quickly by.

Purpose. Direction. Worth. Life and death and madness. Any sense of purpose or direction I felt before, I’m over that now. It’s all over. The way it was. Never even was.

 

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Photo by Shadow Walker

Fixation

The world is awake. It is Tweeting and bleating and screaming and angry and jilted and fucked, abused, furious, offended, opinionated, angry, nervous, outraged. Stupid. Conflicted. Livid, pretty, petty, cruel, obstinate.

Already.

It is Sunday morning. 9:09am. I have my coffee and my notebook and the air coming in is a glorious sixty seven degrees and blustery, pushing the trees all around like leafy green rag dolls. The sky is pale blue, washed with thin wisps of white cloud.

My neighbor has fired up his ridiculous lawn equipment so he can make those perfectly obnoxious straight lines around the edges of his property on which appears a political sign in support of a lunatic whose name I cannot even bear to speak let alone read or write or repeat.

He thinks he is protecting himself. He prays to a god he made up, to be spared a fate he himself controls all on his own.

And the most powerful are the most afraid, how much they stole, how much they have amassed, how much they stand to lose, so they tighten their grip around the throats full of hunger and confusion.

*How are you today?

It will always be the ones who are most cruelly treated who rebel.

This is the way of it. There is no other way, you see.

So get your coffee and read your newsfeeds. Share something, say something, do something. Try a little harder to not think about normal so much, it’s exhausting searching for something that doesn’t exist.

A word, a savior, a cure, a fix.

*How are you feeling?

And the wind turns heavy and brutal, and the bough breaks as the hinges come off of everything that was once held together so neatly. We watch in horror, stationary, we watch, we watch.

The world is awake, wide awake, as it all happens.

They tell you to write it down.

Write it down so you don’t forget.

There was a time before.

And this is how it felt.

*Are you doing okay?

 

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