About Me Pt. 1: Teenage Angst Goes Full-Hipster
Saturday December 19th 2020 - 8:49am - The Executive Suite
Learning about me means clearing my conscience and admitting I had a lot of anger and hate in me for a long time. I still do. Thinking you want to learn about me means I’m bored. I need someone to listen to me. It's pure desperation. In these “About Me” articles I will learn to let go of my suffering. But I’ll be clear right off the get go…this isn’t all true. You can pick and choose what is and what isn’t. So here I am again, plunking myself down in front of the typewriter, drink beside me, yearning for a cigarette, and vomiting my soul.
I’m a liar. The following was written sometime in the early 2000’s…
Am I A Man Now?
Someone once said solitude is the soul of genius, and that’s why, naively, I moved. I grew up in a small town. One of those crappy little towns where no matter where you go, there you are. Buildings made out of cookie cutters; digestible but soon stale, gone soon enough, crumbling amongst the greed of builders and land rapers. We had boredom to keep us interested. Stagnancy reigned supreme.
Suburbia was a horrible place to grow up. Everyone was minimum middle class, or put on the airs of such an ephemeral thing. Many of them were actually rich, though. Damn lavender smelling baby boomers who had rejected and betrayed their once proud youth. Everyone had a house, white picket fence, two and a half kids, a dog. Or a yappy little lap mutt. I don’t consider those dogs. But I digress…two cars in the perfectly paved driveway. Everything was hunky dory. Peachy keen. Perfect. The American Dream, the nuclear family. Every night, long married couples would hug each other and fuck each other (always missionary, always boring) and congratulate each other for being such wonderful people. After all, they had just donated a dollar to some brown kid on the other side of the world. Not that their dollar would ever actually make it there. We had everything, and like all whiny babies, we had no idea how good we had it. It just depressed us.
Fathers & Sons - A Personal Perspective
Our fathers had always told us that the reason they worked so hard was so their children could have a better life. It was a lot to live up to. We graduated high school, some predictably fucked off for Vancouver or Banff. Some went to college or university and looked for jobs afterwards. Yet surprisingly, even with the worthless, may as well be printed on toilet paper degree, the only job we could get was some shit retail position serving the degenerate consumer. We ended up realizing that there was probably no way we would ever live up to our parent’s expectations of having a better life than them. In terms of monetary success, anyway. In terms of a career that made us a useful and contributing member of society, anyway. In terms of, I don’t know, being fucking happy?
Not only did we feel bitter resentment towards them for setting such a high standard, we hated them for creating a world that made hitting that high standard nigh impossible. But we also felt guilty, even though it was the fault of those goddamn assholes for setting the bar too fucking high. Life isn’t a limbo, after all. But we felt guilty because they worked so hard and so long for something that would never come to pass. We were in our self righteous twenties with no understanding of our emotional state, so who better did we have to shift our unconscious guilt to conscious blame to?
I decided my father’s life would not be the one for me and I’m sure to my parent’s great disappointment, I picked up and moved out to the nearest metropolitan area. A place where I could probably find a life or career more befitting my artistic sensibilities and unknown desires. A place where I could live alone and avoid people as much as my heart needed to be content. After all, solitude is the soul of genius. Oh, how precious I was. Was I really this stupid and naive and innocent and myopic and pure in my discontent?
I was expecting to be shell shocked or culture shocked or…something. Nothing. I was in the big city, the big fucking smoke, and I felt exactly the same. No fear beyond what I had already experienced, to be true, but nothing exciting, either. People are the same no matter where you find them. Most of them suck, and many of them are savage brutes. There was a little more to do and more things to buy, but I was trying to avoid the pitfalls of my father. I didn’t want to keep up with whomever the Jones’ are. The only thing that made me feel a little more comfortable was the fact there was a large artistic community. I wasn’t a part of it, yet, but knowing it was there was nice. It was more than the suburban hellhole I grew up in had. I suddenly realized it might actually be possible to do what I never seriously considered because of my geographical prison. I could actually become...a filmmaker? A writer? Why I wanted to join that crowd of too often unemployed and broke beatniks, I’ll never know, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
So I set up a crap little apartment and got to thinking. About my life and where I wanted it to go, as if it was this thing that was preternaturally beyond me. Thinking about those things that you can only think about when you’re in a new environment, all by yourself, in the dark, in the middle of the night.
So utterly and totally alone. But was I lonely?
What…the…fuck…had I gotten myself into? What was I doing? I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life! I had no clue who “I” even was. Our social construct pressures people, children, into trying to figure out “what they want to be when they grow up,” before they’re even taught about individuality, personal responsibility and the self. About who you, as a person, an ego or id, really are! It was those dark, lonely nights that I would have time to figure this out.
So what is ‘this?’ I mean, who AM I? Or, to stay in the proper tense…which is annoying in an article such as this, where editing and rewriting takes place decades later…who was I? It would take me more than a year to figure that out. Of course, I didn’t know this then, so neither do you now. One of the other thoughts that came to me in my first lonely days of self imposed isolation was; how the hell am I going to pay for this apartment? Or my food? Or the always prioritized miscellaneous slash entertainment expenses? Cigarettes!?! BOOZE!?! I would have to make money, somehow. So, I went out and got a shit retail position serving the degenerate consumer. Sometimes life has this way of laughing at you, in a way that you can feel in the depths of your soul. And it echoed through me, and reverberated not only through everyone who has ever known me, but the past generations responsible for my existence. A video store clerk. At the time, it was the worst of cliche's.
“Welcome to Bullshit Video, how may I help you?” Were these disgusting words really coming out of my mouth!?! I am, was, twenty fucking two years old and I’m doing the work of some pre-teen kid with a bad case of the boils. Being polite to people I loathed by nature alone. And I was the “closer.” Night shift. The bottom of the barrel. The human animal was not meant for this. Nothing sucks quite so much as working from four in the afternoon until one or two in the morning. You wake up late and your whole day is gone. You get off work in the middle of the night and there’s nothing to do but drink yourself into a stupour or take home a bunch of videos and…presuming you’re working at a video store because you love movies…binge watch them. I did both. Of course, as far as I can tell, binge watch was not a phrase that was de rigour at the time.
The one bright side to working in a video store at the time was that people don’t really expect good service. You can treat them like shit and the assholes just keep coming back. And let me let you in on a little secret about the retail industry. You know how everyone says ‘the customer is always right?’ The customer is always an asshole. Everyone behind those counters that serve you your latte’ or sell you your new lawnmower or your oversized pick-up truck that you’ll never use properly or your pocket computer or whatever; all those people that you demand so much of hate your fucking guts. Because you’re an asshole. We all are when we consume, and demand to consume. Your soul becomes dark. If those clerks could wish you dead, painfully, and have it come true, the parking lots of all the plazas of all the world would be piles of rotting corpses with seagulls circling overhead. What makes an otherwise sane individual turn into a rabid beast when they WANT something at a retail outlet? The drivel you hear in these kinds of jobs blows my mind. I learned to hate everyone. My boss, my co-workers, my customers. How DARE you take my time away from me!?! I hated them all…just like every other self involved, arrogant, dipshit of my generation.
Where was I? My bachelor pad wasn’t that nice. Your typical place, cluttered with shit. It looks like a pop culture bomb went off. Movie posters, books scattered everywhere. Hey…at least I fucking read. The truth of half of it, though, is that I was just trying to look as smart as I thought I was. My writing stuff is everywhere…which is weird. A notepad and a pen is all you need. Why is ‘writing stuff’ “everywhere?” It was all pieces of scrap thoughts and ideas that have never materialized. Some that start and feel like there’s potential…then nothing. I love my chair, though. This old, weathered, sweat on, fucked on, creaky chair. It is so goddamn comfy, some days I don’t want to leave it. Like a mistress. Like it’s the love of my life. Just sitting here writing, reading and most importantly watching movies, is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Is that so bad? What a career that would be. It wouldn’t be boring at all. You’d love it, admit it. Not a care in the world other than your creations and hedonistic tendencies. Fuck yeah! Drink beside you, a grey cloud of smoke filling the air off the amber tip of your cigarette, regurgitating your thoughts onto paper…
Eh, maybe it wouldn’t be so great. Where is the purpose? Is there purpose even in writing this, now? Refer to paragraph one, page one.
Our Mothers, The Women I Knew & My Bias
Maybe it was the rejection of their moral code that was once held in such high esteem. Perhaps it was the realization that their existence was doomed to being housewives, something they never really wanted. They had dreams, for god’s sake! They wanted to be free like they were in their youth. But they weren’t, not anymore. They were imprisoned. They were chained to houses and taking care of their demon seed, our ungrateful asses. And what did they do to dull the emotional pain? They popped pills. Themselves raised at a time when drugs were okay and brought you peace, love and happiness…I think they were trying to find that again. Their neighbours and Tupperware friends frowned upon marijuana…it made their Gucci handbags and designer clothes smell like skunk and it was a very, very complicated experience trying to hide it from everyone. So what choice did they have? Pop those pills…they’ll make you feel better. Lithium, Prozac, Demerol, Ritalin, Codeine, Percodan, Morphine, Vicodin. Jesus, it was a goddamn pharmacy being thrown down our mother’s throats, numbing themselves to the boredom of so-called suburban bliss.
I knew it was a lesson their daughters would learn well. Many of the girls…believing in their depression as well as any of us…got their very own prescriptions from mommy’s medicine cabinet. They didn’t think there was anything wrong with this cornucopia of pharmaceutical luxury; if it was okay for their Mom’s, bottoms up! They weren’t doing this in any sort of real rebellion, this near fatal ingestion of an entire apothecary! If it’s a prescription, it’s okay, right!?! That’s what Mommy taught me. The drugs tossed these Gen X riot grrrls into even worse depression, self imposed periods of extreme isolation, emotional vacancy and bouts of unexpected violence that lead to many reports of an encroaching zombie apocalypse.
What will their daughters become? Will they, repeating the circle, pass on their drug habits? Or perhaps the women of today will just pass on their own unique form of depression? Many of them are now refusing to become mothers, housewives, or wives at all, and they’re out in the world now, no longer isolated. But these poor women are still forced to be subordinate to the male dominated world, still have to face men like Donald fucking Trump, and this spirals them into madness. How could it not!?! They thought they had been brought up in a world that would be better for them, that would be full of equality. Well, they were lied to, by jackals and dream stealers.
Cool Kids Don't Wear Watches
1991 was the great Seattle grunge wave. The great proliferation of coffee shops, now the cool place to be instead of a bar. What a generation of pansies. Starbucks was gaining its foothold into the public’s frontal lobe due to our generation of coffee swilling pontificators. Just another drug. There was a movement of contemporary punk rock coming to the forefront, the anger was boiling over. At the time, punk was hardly expected to be the next big thing, and let’s not mince words, that’s all the alternative movement was. Punk rock repackaged into something new to sell. But I’ll get to that. It was sweet fucking relief to hear music, instead of the samples and sadness of MC Hammer’s stupid swishing pants. But this was just a wave of music completing the usual cultural circle…happy, sad, happy, sad. What was going on socially, politically, in the minds of the private citizen? Whatever they yearned for, they eventually got. It doesn’t work that way, anymore, but that’s an article for another time. But punk was a good choice for our generation, as many of us rocking out were pretty poor. I mean…remember the useless rags they called degrees and the shit retail positions we were inhabiting? We were getting clothes at Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Wearing what we could afford, and what was comfortable. Our jeans had holes in them because we couldn’t afford any others. The punk aesthetic suited our pocketbooks. We could survive on this, and maybe even enjoy it a bit. Little did we know what would happen next…
Ratty old t-shirts, twenty year old plaid flannel shirts, cardigans, torn jeans, sometimes with long johns underneath to prevent the terrifyingly cold drafts going up to our engorged crotches. We liked Doc Martens because they lasted forever and we could jump around comfortably and safely at bar concerts in them. Although, we had to worry about troglodytic skinhead motherfuckers rolling us for them. Them’s were the times.
Then, suddenly…the times changed. The grunge fly flew to the cultural shit pile. All of a sudden, this entire generation of strung out, confused, depressed and highly medicated jack holes became cool. It was insulting…all these clothes we wore because we were poor and couldn’t afford anything else were now showing up in fucking Gap windows at a premium price. What was once two bucks was now fifty. Jeans were being sold new with holes in them. Our teachers were wearing Doc Martens. We were being marketed to, lied to, and had our entire way of living presented to us on a very expensive platter. It was an albatross. This is where our distrust and hatred of the American Marketing Entity came to light, the yearning to destroy free market capitalism and the New Dumb it creates. Our own, personal little sub-culture was being picked at by the scavenger crows of those generations before us, and fed to those younger than us. It made us sick. It took them almost thirty years to use up, sell out and fuck useless their own sub-culture, but they were ready to pounce on ours within the year. They stole it and sold it back to us while it was still in its infancy. It never had a chance. We never had a chance. We wouldn’t even consider having hope again until a black presidential candidate, and look how that turned out.
We learned to hate the generations before us, the one that raised us, despised them for using us and stealing us. Yet, we also hated ourselves. Our self pity fuelled a new kind of burning hatred that we projected beyond ourselves. It was a vicious cycle. We let them take us and we bought it back. We still are. We started out just hating ourselves, but now we learned to distrust everyone…our parents, our culture, the very foundation of everything society is built on. How would we fight this capitalist marketing machine that is so deeply ingrained in our collective unconscious? This THING that has been fought for thousands of years?
We’d probably have to turn into a generation of marketers, content creators, and media professionals. What else would we do with our hate?
End of line.