Dream Logging: The Exploding Gas Station

The Exploding Gas StationA lonely gas station at night

A dream I logged in May of 2008

The dream starts off, as best as I can remember, in a parking garage. I am in the car, it was definitely and initially the Element my parents just got about 2 weeks ago. My dad is driving, and now that I think about it, he seems younger than he is now, maybe in his 40’s, but I’m probably wrong. Of the background story that I inherently know about this dream at this stage in the dream is that it is summer vacation. It felt like late June, maybe early July. We are in the parking Garage to Thrailkill Hall, except this one is near 10 levels, instead of the 4-5 it actually is. A pretty large number of people have re-cultivated a community that will never be the same any of the following years by moving back into the Thrailkill Hall Dormitory. I hadn’t moved back in, I don’t think I was either, but I also didn’t know about this faction that had nested up in there until this day in the dream. It was something I just sensed was there. I don’t think the world was as it was today though, it was much more sparse, for whatever reasons. For these purposes, a group of 25 people or so was equivocal to about ten to fifteen fold.

We are driving around the parking garage, and my dad is taking his time on the parking. The capacity of the garage is surprisingly well met, with it being much more empty on the upper two levels. There is almost a video game aspect to things because we are trying, if I remember correctly, gather salvage of something that was left from other cars (hopefully abandoned cars). I don’t know if I just wanted to get into the building so bad or didn’t want to get into any sort of ‘jackpot’ that I really wanted my dad to quit looking for a car he could stick a water hose into the muffler to and gain whatever it was that is gained from it and just park, but I know I was really pressing him to hurry up and park. So from here on, the view of our car switch from inside the car, more of a first person view, to more of a third person outside of the car view, and furthermore, from us being in the Honda Element, to us being in my 2000 Camry. It fluctuated pretty randomly. It kind of skips ahead to right after he had tried to salvage some stuff from a car that he temporarily parked next to. He gets back in and I give in (let me note that this is a real scenario in the sense that my dad is always trying to do something ridiculous to gain any sort of bit of an advantage or discount etc. while I am always just trying to get things done and over with) I tell him we can get some from Kara or David’s car.

“Let’s just find Kara’s car, I know that she probably left extra in there in case I would need it. She won’t mind.”

My dad doesn’t really comply as a result, he is still slowly cruising around. Looking for her car with me, but also still looking for that one car which has a high bounty. We drive the main levels, miss some good parking spots and don’t find her car. I realize that because it is not on the levels she usually parks, she parked out front. I reason to my dad that because there are not as many people here, there must have been spots up front, and she has always tried to park out front. We drive around to the front and because the front lobby is mostly all glass, I see her, Jason Biddle and Britney Knoeck in there playing cards during the sun’s brightest moment on a hot summer afternoon. I pretty much jump out of the car and run in there. This was enough for my dad to follow suit and not even park the car; in effect, the car disappears at this point. They have to let us in because they keep the building locked off so the school can’t come in and ruin the community from the school year, which they have recreated. There are about seven other people I see when I walk in there, but the only one I really remember is David Morgan, who was at the desk. I have no clue where exactly my dad went at this point, but he pretty much vanished also. This isn’t uncharacteristic in his real life behavior either.

Everyone greets each other and they continue playing cards. I walked up to Kara and hugged her, I hadn’t seen her since school let out, and it was a great surprise to. I don’t know what card game they were playing, but Biddle and Knoeck were pretty close to this pile of cards where they had to discard their cards for game purposes, and Kara was in a grey single sofa chair about 10 feet removed from the pile and the other two players, yet she remained there with her cards being held close to her face with both hands, leaned over a little bit and hunching enough for her to peer over her cards and at the game. In other words, she was fully focused.

While I was close to her, I let her know, not in a whisper, but still quietly, that I had to go now, and that she needs to come and visit me at my house so we can spend some time together. When I told her this, it was in a “we’re supposed to” manner, even though I was surprised to run into her at all– furthermore, she had an, “I know, I will get out of this and leave” compliance, but she also didn’t really vocally respond. In fact, she didn’t even look at me once, she just remained focused on the card game; continually checking the cards in her hand and what was happening on the floor, ten feet away, while sometimes brushing the top of her cards lightly on her top lip as some sort of fidgety mechanism while she thought through the game, I suppose.

Next thing I know, I am at my house, in the living room. The color of everything is very blue. There aren’t really any lights on, but the TV is on. It is actually on the side of the wall where my couch is right now, and the couch is on the opposite side. It isn’t dark outside, but it is nothing close to bright either, so it is just very dim and blue in the house as all I remember was that I was watching the television with Josh Bennett. It was only field goal (football) kicking. I got a call from Kara that she was on her way down at 4 pm as I watched this guy kick one in from about 60 yards. They called this 4x length in the dream though. They replayed it and showed the trajectory of the ball and the technique of kicking it longer but not as high to get the distance he needed. The TV kept chiming on as they showed a demonstration from only 20 yards out to outline the differences yet again. Josh was enthralled, and my mom was in the other room. She kept talking to us, having to yell a bit so we could hear her, but she never said anything distinguishable, I was just hearing her voice as if she were talking to me from the other room. I remember watching the television but only being excited that Kara was coming down to visit me.

Then, the dream used its trickery and made 30-40 minutes pass while staying in what was seemingly the same moment the entire time. I heard a car door close from outside and saw her car in my driveway, so I ran out there. I remember how the dream transitioned. They are always so hoppy, but I remember how this one transitioned pretty well. It was as if it were on film, and the film had gradually began to melt at a rapid pace. I saw myself run out there and great her with arms wide open. I heard the two voices become distant and muffled, but the two keys were this; she actually paid attention to me this time, as opposed to 45 minutes prior and she was excited to see me too.

Flash forward now, I am suddenly on a motorized scooter, wearing a motorcycle helmet. I’m in traffic, kind of in the Franklin area, when I remembered that my car didn’t have much gas in it to begin with. I look at the gauge and see that I am pretty much on Empty, even though I’m on my motorized scooter(like a Razer scooter) that goes fast enough to keep up with actual cars. I apparently (inherent knowledge) had to leave for a short while to go to Franklin and back, and told Kara to wait at my house, I would be returning shortly. I am on Franklin Rd., near BGA and that Golf course is to the left of me, which means that I am coming up to the light and four-way intersection of Franklin Rd. and Mack Hatcher. The light was barely in my favor as it turns green so I have a wide-open yield as I merged right. The road was totally clear and empty, perfect for me to book it to Mapco right down the street and fill up so I can get home and spend time with Madame Norman.

I don’t know why, but the dream hung with me as I drove down Mack Hatcher and past BGA and the Mormon Temple, past the Rec Center and to my Right Turn onto Hillsboro, and down to Mapco. Though deviation returned soon enough.

I arrive at Mapco, and it is pretty much evening time at this point. Not only this, but it doesn’t look like it actually does. They have their sign on, it is flickering and dim, but that is about it. I pull into it, or what I thought was it and there is nothing there, just chipped up asphalt littered with black pebbles of road and parking lot. I stood there looking around for a minute. It was mostly silent, aside from the breeze and one or two passing cars. I then saw it. It was only a 4 pump gas station in the dream, and they were next to a brick hut of sorts, making this Mapco a lot tinier than what it is in real life. Furthermore, the pumps appear to be encased in cement molds covering the pumps, or better yet, I realize now that it is more like carbonite a la Star Wars (Han Solo). What I garnered from these pumps, based off of their encasement molds, was that they were old, like 1950’s style pumps, and that they were out of order. I can connect this from reality though. I went to McDonalds the day before and they closed at 8. The manager walked by me, remarking..

“We closed at 8. We’re closed for construction.”

I heard the part about being closed for construction sift through the air, got an unpleasant feeling, and left. At this point, my entire grasp and navigational sense of the Franklin area pretty much vanished; at least for the part of Franklin I was going to. I apparently hadn’t been here in ages. I knew that I couldn’t screw up though because if I got lost and missed a gas station, I wouldn’t make it home in the near future.

I embarked left, towards Franklin High, and a little further on, Wendy’s. This area was drastically different though. I took a few turns and I ended up in what looked mostly like an older European town; perhaps a Spanish or Italian port town. There wasn’t exactly any road to speak of. It was sort of cobble stone, but the stones were less together and a little more spread out. Everything had a yellow or sandstone hue to it, even the buildings, which looked like pueblo homes. I just got a bad feeling, and I was in the center of this townlet, as I am going to call it, surrounded by these buildings.

I turned off my motor scooter for the time being and walked it up these steps of some building. Next thing I know, I was back at the normal road again. In real Franklin navigation, I just would have stayed on Hillsboro and ran into several gas stations, which is what I tried to do in the dream, but it wasn’t as easy as staying on the road I was already on. I had to weave through roads as if I were a blind man trying to stitch a baseball. I don’t remember much in detail except that I was completely lost. Things were blurry and look like they do when you trail frames in video. I turned around and decided I had just enough gas to go to another area where I am confident I can find a gas station. That place was Green Hills.

I arrived on the road of the gas station I had in mind. There was a Chinese shop, that looked more like an old fashioned, wooden garden house (it even had a garden in the back, surrounded by a wooden pen) just before the gas station. I got to the Chinese joint, the problem was the road from the point was blocked off. It was blocked off by a construction crew of sorts, except this crew decided they would just pile wreckage all over the road as if some catastrophic accident had occurred there. I thought to turn back at this point, and just hope I can make it to a station in Fairview. I was going back down the road a bit, towards home, when I knew I just couldn’t make it, so I went back towards the road blockade. I had to get gasoline from the station beyond it.

I arrived back at the pile and shut down my scooter. I pulled out my phone real quick and left Kara a message, telling her that I was having trouble with fuel and that I hoped to be home within an hour.

“I feel really terrible about all of this, just don’t leave please ok? I know you left your card game for this, but,”¦ Don’t leave, please? Call me back.”

That is something along the lines of what I said at the end of the message. I closed the phone and slipped it in my pocket. I once again picked up the scooter and walked with it. I climbed atop the wreckage and made my ascent. Upon finishing, I slid down the other side and arrived at what used to be a gas station, was a commercial building, kind of like what strip malls look like, but it also had an industrial feel to it. There was a ramp that began to my left and didn’t reach the door until it was all the way to the other side of the road. So I took the ramp.

I got inside the building, it was quiet, dark and vacant. It was also freshly carpeted. Once again, carpet you’d expect in a commercial building, not a house. I manually scootered down the hall and arrived at what was a still standing gas station. Because of the ramp entrance, I was on a floor that was about 8 feet above the area the gas pumps were at. There were two ramps on each side leading down.

This was the entire layout of this place. A hallway, which lead from store to store, as the store was a ramp’s height below the navigational hall. I don’t think whoever did this had permission to do this; it was hostile takeover in one of the most literal forms.

I got down there and the ceiling was suddenly very low. There were some tubes above me that had looked like they were roughly cut, and one of which had sparks periodically. I was about to take a look at the pumps when I heard voices coming from the other side of the hallway that I came from. I hit the ramp I originally came down with the scooter and crouched down near the top of the ramp, behind the railing and several feet away from my exit. These two guys had suits on. These suits looked a lot like the Pyro from Team Fortress 2. The proportions were, of course, more realistic, and they had more black in the suits, but other than that, they are pretty similar. They were working on the gas station they had “˜hi-jacked.’ Behind me, a security and safety door slammed shut from the top of the hallway, as did the other end. I was pretty much stuck, although the walls that surrounded the gas station were glass, so I could at least see outside.

Eventually, I rolled back down the ramp on my scooter and went to talk to the guys who were just standing stationary holding welding torches on random areas. They ended up telling me it would be about 4 more hours until the station was safe enough to use and said they could open the doors enough to let me out if I wanted to leave. One of them went up my ramp to open the door, as I stood down there with the other one who set his torch down for a moment and waited for his partner to return. Suddenly, the tube that had been sparking started to drip tons of sparks and the man (who had taken off his helmet-mask) wore a face of terror. He started shouting for us all to get out and began to head towards the ramp as one of the pumps exploded, right next to myself. The pump flew through the glass as flames and sparks erupted from beneath me and went to work on my legs. All I could hear was screaming from the other two men as they were sure that, at the least, I was losing both of my legs. I don’t know how, but I managed to get away from the blast and flames. I remember grabbing the scooter, and with charred legs, scootering off, up the ramp and out of the building. The other two men were behind me as they were running out, still yelling. You could hear distant explosions approaching as it sounded like the building had become Hell’s firstborn. They got out and we stood on top of the wreckage, between the giant commercial building and the small Chinese restaurant, listening to the explosions until suddenly the entire building exploded, with the shockwaves sending us into the air, speeding along with the millions of shards of glass.

We landed. It was on my street at sometime between 1 and 3 AM. Everyone was asleep and the street was perfectly still. The men kept yelling though.

“Take cover!,” exclaimed one. ”Run away! Run away!,” his companion shouted.

They each scattered off as suddenly bright flashing lights came skidding toward me at an instant’s pace. I ducked one and ran down into my cul-de-sac, thinking I was far enough away. The other two men ran up the street and out of sight, although one of them got hit by one of these burning lights and fell down for a while. They were basically fireworks, kind of like some suped up Roman Candles. I had been lucking out and barely dodging some of them when I saw them on the ground. Two round cylinders, perhaps a foot in diameter each, covered with white wrapping paper with colored dots spaced throughout. I circled around quickly and kicked the second one so it faced in the same direction; down towards the cul-de-sac, then began to walk back to my house.

I don’t remember any more of this dream after that. 

Why Filmmaking is the Best Hobby an Introvert Can Have

Why Filmmaking is the Best Hobby an Introvert Can Have
BOOM MIC

I spent a lot of time in my head this week. Granted, I am, technically, always in my own head, but the mind is a canyon with cavernous depths and crevices that resemble some alien planet, and sometimes my thoughts take me into the deep.

That’s what being an extreme introvert can be like. I haven’t really spent a lot of time being introverted, the last few months I’ve been pretending I’m an extrovert, if anything. I’ve even had myself fooled at times, but this week, I got back to my ways.

Having my thoughts take me to the darkest trenches of my mind made me realize something amazing.

I was really really fortunate to pick up filmmaking as a hobby and passion. Sometimes I get so locked into my own tiny mind that I barely realize there is a world around me. Furthermore, I usually have no concept of the person I am that everyone else in that world around me sees, hears, and experiences.

I started making stupid little movies with my neighbors when I was about 14 years old, and I realized this week that it might be the only reason I turned out ‘normal’. When I say normal, I mean able to function on a familiar enough level with most people that is bearable.

First off, being on camera means that we have to watch what we film at some point. It’s common for us to love the sound of our own voices, we yap and yap and yap and yap, but as soon as we hear our recorded voices for the first time, we HATE it. Unless you hear your voice recorded a lot, odds are it always stays that way. It’s probably more common to hear and see recorded versions of ourselves with this flood of technology we drown in every waking second, but in the year 2000, it was not nearly as common.

Now, when you are on camera, it is three times worse. Not only do you have to hear yourself, you have to see yourself– in motion.

“I don’t sound like that! I really look like that? I slouch like that? I move like that? I look stupid! Crap!”

Over time, you become familiar. You see the person that all the other billions of people will see. There is a lot of comfort in that after the initial feelings of disgust and shame. Middle school and early high school is an especially rough time for that, because it is all so awkward and pitiful, but I became really familiar with who was beyond just what my two eyes occasionally saw in a mirror. I understood enough to be able to kind of lean my personas to project myself in certain ways.

Of course, I think no matter how comfortable you are, unless you can always have an out of body experience, there will always be a disconnect between the person you experience yourself as, and the person the outside world experiences.

Secondly, beyond familiarity with your third person self, there is the greater element of being able to be someone else; exhibiting different personalities; creating characters with characteristics that you don’t possess. Or maybe you could call it stretching out into extreme versions of yourself.

I’ve never called myself an actor or referred to anything I do in any of the stuff I’ve been in that we’ve filmed, but acting on camera has always been one of the most liberating things I’ve done. Now that we are inactive these days, I find that it takes longer to settle back into it, and I am more tentative when we are filming something. The greatest thing that your teach yourself when you’re on camera and being someone other than your daily self is being able to shed that skin and how easily it is to molt.

Sometimes a character for me is merely a version of myself, but with sharper or more pronounces traits. Sometimes a character for me is someone who exhibits things that I have never been able to, but usually with personality pieces that I’ve always desired.

In essence, over all those years, I learned to be comfortable with myself by not being myself, but also being myself more than I’d ever allow myself otherwise. I think I was seen as more carefree and ‘me’ in high school than I was at any other time period of my life, and it is easy to see why– that is when I was doing the most filmmaking.

I mentioned in a couple of posts back how I spent a couple hours looking at myself with photo booth on my Mac, just rediscovering this exterior James Curtis that I had completely disconnected from. That’s exactly what video production did for me. If I could recommend any hobby to anyone, it would be exactly that, and, while there are endless reasons, that is the only one I’d need. Especially if you’re an introvert.

I guess the gist of all this is that I really just need to get my best friends, a camera, an idea, and get back to practicing shedding my own skin, lest I have more weeks like this week, and get permanently lost in the labyrinth of my mind.

 

Moral of the story: Sometimes I have to just get out of there and be ridiculous and stupid — case in point, this video. Hadn’t been on camera in a year, but we just acted stupid and had fun with this unfinished one. 

Dreams of Anton Chigurh, Abandoned Blue Houses and An Awful Backhoe Collison

Anton Chigurh silently watches us allIt was dusk when the distant house met my sights. A dilapidated three story home of southern style, uniformly tinted a faded, pale blue entered frame. I didn’t remember how I had got there, and I had no prior memories of the house, but it looked familiar. It looked like it might be comforting.

As I approached, rusted, broken down trucks from an age past were placed all over the yard and gravel driveway with the patterned chaos of a minefield. I emerged from the woods and wound through the impromptu maze of vehicles looking for a door. The house filled the night with darkness and quiet. On the far side of the house was a large carport, the ceiling extending far above, keeping company with the house’s third floor.

With little resistance, I flapped open the screen door and steadily tried to turn the knob to the side door. It was locked.

Molly saw me from the kitchen window and made untranslatable hand motions at me. Next thing I knew, the door popped open enough for me to slip inside, and I was sucked in as if I were lint trying to flee a humming vacuum.

All of the doors were locked. Most of the furniture had an abandoned, neglected look to it. Not a single light was on in the house. Most of the windows blinded, or barricaded from the outside world by curtain. As I slid a chair out from under the kitchen table, she urged me to sit down. She meant the ground. I slunk from the chair and took a resting position on the linoleum floor.

“Anton Chigurh,” she explained. He and Justin Hurley had a falling out. Everyone had taken refuge here while they waited for things to pass over, but during those weeks, a man with an explosive personality, and an unstoppable force had clashed. In the turmoil, everyone left; some fearing for their safety, some out of unspoken allegiance to one of the combative men.

Molly told me about how she hid in a box filled with curtains and sheets for 4 days, waiting until everyone was asleep or preoccupied to sneak around for basic necessities. As everyone continued to filter out of the group, they all took her for being the independent, loner-type she was known to be, assuming she had long decided to look for a better situation than the fog of conflict that infiltrated their house.

I then remembered where I had been before. It was some coastal town, lined with cobblestone streets, and a villagefront downtown that was tiered in elevation. I was running from someone, or rather, I was being followed or pursued in some manner, so I discretely had been spending a few days trying to get out of there. At the bottom of the town, I saw a white Volvo station wagon. It was the first car I had seen in days. The windows were down, so I hopped into the driver’s seat through the window. The car was already running. As I got in, I sensed whatever had been trying to find me rounding the corners of the town streets, so I put the car into reverse and forcefully impressed the gas pedal.

Tunneling backwards, I hit a weathered-down white railing. The backend of the car was poking out with no ground beneath it, as the front end seemed to frantically grip balance the small amount of Earth beneath it. Again, I hopped out the window, and saw a small football field, surrounded by dug-in bleachers. The stadium descended about 40 feet, but on the ground level, there was an asphalt running track, separated by the same railing I had hit with the Volvo. I started running down the long straightaway of the track, getting halfway, arriving to meet with the three Hill children, Jonathan, Ana, and Jared.

I apologized for wrecking the Volvo, and told them we need to go to their parents house and eat dinner. We left together, but the only other memory I have of the Hills was dropping them off at Tim and Prisca’s and watching the three of them lay on the ground and try to roll up their steep front yard hill.

I was back at the house. Molly was gone. She told me she was leaving to go work in the city for a few hours, but I suspected that she was hiding back in her usual spot, fearing that my arrival had brought too much attention to the lonely house in the countryside. I needed to sleep, but I had a feeling that my dad was looking for me– trying to find me, so I fought sleep.

Being alone made me realize how large the house was. With its eight legs and sinister nature, a dread crept into me. I wondered if Anton or Justin had been here all along, in the upper hallways of our shelter. Maybe Molly knew and didn’t tell me. I had only been in the kitchen, afterall. Given their agitated state, either man was dangerous, despite our friendship.

On the floor I sat facing the far wall of the kitchen. All of the walls painted the same pale blue. That wall led to the exterior and part of the driveway. Besides the cabinets, there was a small, arched window that was far too high on the wall for anyone to see in or out of. Right next to me, the small, cheap kitchen table; the kind of table you’d regrettably buy at a yard sale. Beyond that, the side door that I entered, bolted and locked, and to the left of the door, a long countertop that extended a good 12 feet to the far wall and included a dual sink. In the other direction was a locked door. It was sturdy, and had small paneled windows on it. It looked like it went to a study and also had stairs in the room, but it was dark and hard to make out. Behind me, was a similar looking locked door. The walls that separated the kitchen and what appeared to be a living room or den had large windows on them.

I was surrounded by doors I couldn’t trust and unfamiliar rooms.

Taking it all in, I realized that Molly rarely left the kitchen for fear of someone else being in the house, often sleeping on the floor under the table. I walked to the living room door, unlocked it and entered.

As if the room itself were exhaling, a chill hushed over me as I entered. I could hear a ticking grandfather clock and a faint, infrasonic buzz. I closed the door, not wanting to leave any vulnerabilities or traces of where I had been– just in case. I tried to sleep on a blue couch with bloated, spongey cushions lined with a scratchy wool-like blue fabric, but I kept hearing  soft, nearly imperceptible thuds and rhythms that hinted of movement on the third story of the house. I sat up and listened for a long time; looking at the stairs and up into the darkness of the second floor hallway.

For fear of everything I didn’t know, I silently crept back into the kitchen, locked the door and put curtains on the windows in the walls that separated the kitchen and the living room. Molly was back, and she told me that she saw my dad outside a while ago, but he didn’t seem to think anyone was around, so he went back to Hawaii to be in the sun.

As soon as she told me that, they all started arriving. First the outside door unlocked from the outside and opened. It was sone girl I didn’t know. Then the far-side wall of the kitchen slid open like a garage door, turning into a patio roof of sorts. It was Amy pulling up the wall. She had a smile on her face like she was happy that everyone was here at once. She told us that she brought the whole gang. Down the driveway you could see a small fleet of cars rolling in as the chorus of tires flattening the gravel swelled.

Within thirty seconds, a third of my high school class must have been congregated in the kitchen and the newly transformed patio. A black low rider truck was the last to pull up. The tinted windows rolled down, and there he was, Justin, in the passenger seat as some scrawny, methed-out looking kid with a straw in his mouth sat the wheel. He started barking orders to people and announcing how good of a time we were all going to have that night.

Pulling my attention off of them, I saw a figure out of my left. Sweeping my vision across, I saw the living room door sitting open as the air from the room breathed a chill over everyone. Silently, Anton stood next to the door inside the kitchen. He was gusseted with sweat that had been slowly building up the entire time, yet calmly breathed as his eyes fixed on a man he wanted to kill. Justin, much in his manner, cursed at Anton and everyone else unfortunate enough to be in his line of sight. He made a motion at his lackey and they peeled out, back up the driveway the came. The last audible noises being something about promising to come back and put Chigurh in his place once and for all.

All the girls were crying, as everyone, silently and subvertedly horrified, whisked away into the woods in scrambled paths as quickly as they had arrived. I told Molly to sleep in the study and lock the door that enters it, and left.

Much later, I was on the porch of my old house on Totty Road. It was deep night. My dad and I had been inside talking. Neither of us were supposed to be there, and we knew that if our current tenants caught us sitting in the living room that late at night that they would be deeply disturbed. The front door opened, and he joined me on the porch. As he did, the distant sound of reckless machinery appeared down the road as if a bloodthirsty ogre grunting violent threats. As the streetlights briefly hit the machine, I could make out a spinning vehicle.

Round and round, a backhoe twisted and caromed down the cul-de-sac street, accelerating its pace until it smacked directly into the front of my Toyota Camry parked in front of the house on the side of the street. A bald-headed figure plunged into the ground from the now immobile vehicle. It was Justin again, presumably fleeing from a conflict he and his posse just had with Anton. As he hit the ground, he landed like a baseball player sliding into home plate, minus the sliding part plus all the friction of a paved road. A hardhat tumbled loose from his head and flundered down the street, and a small bag of cocaine plotted itself next to him from his jacket pocket.

My dad and I didn’t want to deal with it, or be exposed as having been intruding in the house, but we didn’t know what to do about my car. We dragged Justin up the hill, across the lawn and placed his partially conscious, beat up body on a rocking chair on the porch. Sounds dribbled from his mouth, and his eyes slunk down with a blank stare, his attention trapped on some point in the ground as if he were a curious kid intently observing an ant hill. We were considering walking away and back to the large blue house when several of the girls from the house congregation showed up. They told us they had been learning nursing and they need to patch Justin back up before Anton shows up. It struck me as odd that they said learning and not studying.

One of them, who everyone called Mary, pulled out a small box of band-aids, and gently placed one on his left elbow. Another girl told her that she needed to put rum on the bandage first to sterilize it. The third one pulled out a flask, telling her it was only bourbon but to do it anyway. Frantically, they soaked a second band-aid and slapped it on his elbow as it partially overlapped the first, dripping beads of what smelled more like gasoline than anything else.

I suspected they were actually going to try to set him on fire, then blame it on Anton. One of them was covering his mouth and eyes with damp white cloths. I had already witnessed more of this horrific event than I wanted to. So I just started thinking about getting back to that three story house in the woods, joining Molly in the study, and sleeping on the floor in the corner of the room in quiet, warmth, and transient peace. I thought harder and harder as I could feel my presence slipping away as the chaos around me faded, but I saw him standing next to me. I didn’t want to leave my dad. I hadn’t seen him in so long.

I didn’t see him, but I knew Anton had just arrived; perhaps all the way down the street. If I could have seen it, I probably would have seen an elongated shadow that impossibly stretched itself down the entirety of the road. The mopped head centered in the cul-de-sac, and roping all the way up to a darkened figure in a denim jacket, calmly watching as the houses on the street behind him smoldered and crumbled apart in flame.

I didn’t get to the dilapidated blue house. I didn’t stay with my dad. I didn’t watch anymore of the awkward nurses suspiciously patching up my friend, and I didn’t see the dreadful figure of Anton coolly observing us. Instead, I woke up.

On my unlikable side, and being frustrated

When I have downtime, I sometimes find myself tasting bitterness. When this happens, I feel as if I am one of the few terrible people who can have a great day and still feel upset at the world at the end of the day. I’ll reiterate that this kind of thing is pretty rare, but when it happens, it is indefensible.

But still, maybe I need to complain. Maybe I need a woe is me moment or two. Excuse me while I take it. I’m going to complain about my love life tonight, and I am going to try to do it in a way that is usually hard for me. Instead of talking in very vague language, I’ll try to be more specific.

I have been reflecting lately that I have been single almost as long as I was ever in my last relationship, which, compared to anything else I’ve been in, was the only serious relationship I was in. I don’t know if I ever had expectations on how thing would play out for me after I got out of it, but I think there is big piece of myself that never expected to be by myself as long as I ever was with anyone else.

I haven’t had much else than bad luck, though. When I was adamantly not looking to date anyone, I had more opportunities to than I ever had since I at least became agnostic to the idea of dating someone. Basically, the first year, at least, I was very clear that I would not legitimately entertain the idea. It would be wrong on many fronts, mainly for the other person involved, because I was a mess. Fair enough. Periods of your life alone are a great thing. Too many people don’t take advantage of them.

On the other hand, I have kind of been the opposite. I have had too much time for ‘me’ than I should, and I think it makes me trepidate too much when it comes to love.

Anyway, that entire first post break-up year is a huge gamut of irony. I don’t know how anyone could have found me attractive– in any way. And now, here I am. Physically, mentally, emotionally more attractive than I’ve ever been in my life. The majority of my anxiety problems have not only been erased, but conquered. Yet that’s how it worked.

I had run-ins, some casual (in my eyes) dates, and other weird encounters with a slew of girls. I feel like half of them are now either married, or have had a kid. The other ones were all older than me, and I hate to sound shallow, but I quite simply cannot seriously date anyone older than me.

So let’s transition to that. I’m entirely shallow. I think I might have a facade that I am not, I personally call it having very high, maybe unrealistic, standards, but I can’t deny, if I objectively look at the qualifications, I am shallow. So I’ll put it out there. I can only entertain the idea with someone if they are either extremely cute, very pretty, very well put together, or just plain hot. And usually you need things in tandem. For instance, you’d either better have a great metabolism, or at least exhibit a tremendous amount of work into staying fit. And let’s say that is looking a little shaky, I can see past that in certain cases, but it can’t slip too much, and then in combination, a girl would have to probably both be gorgeous and also very well put together, or maybe just very… curvy.

I don’t like that this is the case, and even speaking about this so bluntly (and it is still softly.. really) makes me uncomfortable, but I think the older I get, the more OK with the ugly truth I am. Especially because as I get older, I still stay fit. I put a lot of work into how I look without being flat out vain, and I don’t feel so hypocritical about it anymore. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m somewhere in the higher echelon in the looks department. It might make me a bit of a dick, but I am less of a hypocrite.

So now that I threw the whole visual vapidity out there, let’s also mention that I won’t retain any of that initial attraction to someone is they’re an idiot. Actually, no, that’s wrong. I won’t retain any of that initial attraction unless you’re flat out smart. If you’re brilliant or sharp then we’re really talking. If you look good, but you’re mentally not tall enough to ride the big boy ride, then I might be able to consider using you, at best, but I also stopped doing that in 2011 when I felt terrible about it after a few times.

Stop is probably a generous word. Those few experiences had more of an effect of permanently putting my brakes on. So even if I’m trying to pedal as hard as I can, I can’t properly pursue, because the brakes are locked, and I am always struggling internally.

Am I really interested in this girl? Am I really even that attracted, or am I just longing for someone in this moment? Would I date her? Could I date her seriously? Could I see myself ever marrying her?

It’s a.. weird procession of thoughts. I suffer from a subconscious perceptual ability, or supposed subconscious perceptual ability. I generally think I can size a person up in a few moments. I become disinterested in 90% of people from those initial moments because if I think I can glean enough in the long run when initially appraising someone, no matter how much of a future disqualification it would be, I do it. There is not much upward mobility in that 90% purgatory. Five percent of that is an uncertainty thing, which is the preferred stage I like to deal with, and the other five percent are the type of girls I end up having huge crushes on.

Those never end well.

So basically, let’s size up my shallowness to three things: my physical expectations are probably way too high and carry too much weight, my intellectual expectations are even worse (plus it makes me feel very competitive and threatened– that’s rarely a good thing), and I believe I can properly assess all the long-term critical factors in a person within a few exchanges.

And that’s how you set yourself up for bad luck.

Like I already said, I have had more run-ins with older women that I could never truly have anything long-term with simply because I need someone younger and also now-taken girls than I ever thought possible over a couple of years (especially for someone like me, who can easily go 6-8 months with notable developments in that part of my life), but beyond that, over the past couple of years, there have only been three cases where I have really been interested in someone that I actually knew or got to know.

One was an old tie, who probably falls in an out of my life as some sort of love interest merely because we both exist, and both end up single, and sometimes you get weak and maybe a little desperate. This happens to me, and that’s how you get this. I also get turned down all the time by this person. Luckily, I don’t think either of us could have a long enough moment of weakness to do anything stupid as to try and date.

Then there is the first girl that I was interested in post break-up who I hadn’t pre-disqualified. Granted, she was never considered before that, but somehow was. Then there was that whole close friend trying to date her drama while I was trying to work through the fact that she’s pretty much insane and my feelings were as volatile as a flame at a gas station (which meant I was more insane at the time), and having ties cut off since then, and well, yeah, I don’t think anyone can make a case that my luck isn’t bad in that case.

Then there is the girl who was my first hard crush post break-up. The co-worker who had a boyfriend of 4-5 years. The one that I kept at a distance because she drove me crazy. Who was gorgeous, fun, and friendly. Who was definitely more ‘there’ intellectually (but in retrospect, obviously was better at giving off that impression than actually legitimately being as smart as I thought in my head). Then, of course, there was that whole instance where we got drunk together and she tried to cheat on her boyfriend with me, and I turned her down.. somehow. Then there were those following days, where I somehow was expected to function properly at work, and lost seven pounds from not being able to eat from anxiety.

I don’t get in crazy situations like that often, I try to make sure I don’t. But somehow, I end up in them. After all that, she is engaged now, and she also cut off all ties with me.

Then you have all the other crap luck things. Like the girls who do come around and are interested in me. It isn’t that I am totally disinterested. It is a bad habit from high school. See, I almost always greatly like them as friends, and I also could have some sort of fling, but for whatever reason, I have too many doubts I could ever have any interest beyond that, so then it is hard for me to stay friends, because there is that part of me that just wants to give in and use them, even though I’ve opened that edition of Pandora’s Box too many times.

Then you even have the bizarre. For instance, the times I get bored and troll online dating websites, and actually talk to a person on there, then we have interest in meeting, but then somehow one of my biggest insecurities gets brought up, and we run each other off, but we still chat via text for two months (the entire time, me being convinced she loathes me but wants to talk to me out of lack of anything better to do), then randomly end up at the same small party.

Oh, and of course, I don’t recognize her until I get the text message from her that says, “awkward”.

This stuff is real life.

It’s my life.

It’s not terrible. It’s just annoying. It makes me annoying. I can’t pull the trigger on anything because I have just enough elasticity threatening to rubberband me, and then I have to spend my downtime coming to grips that I might seem to have it all together so well, but on these deepest, darkest levels, I must still be a mess.

Woe is me moment aside, because my life is really not that bad. I get plenty of attention, and I have plenty of opportunities, even if I subconsciously won’t let myself take them, the bigger part of it is the dichotomy of myself.

See, I have the dominant me, the one who has a natural tendency to consider others first. He lives a frustrating life and rarely gets what he wants. But at the end of everyday, even if he wants to be pouty and throw his bitch fits (the best term I was introduced to this year), always feels good about himself.

Then there is the me who wrote this. He’s an asshole, but I know he can get just about anything he wants.

I just don’t like him.

I don’t like what I just wrote, but it is also part of who I am.

Just being honest about it.