I moved 5 times between the ages of 8 and 16. While some transform this type of peripateticism into an ability to adapt into any situation, I transformed it into a means to feel isolated in any situation.
My first move was from Park Forest South to Flossmoor—2 generic, south-side-Chicago suburbs. The former was lower-middle class, mixed race; the latter middle-to-upper-middle-class, mostly white. This move went okay. I adapted to my 3rd grade class fairly well, making friends easily.
Things went to shit on the 2nd move when my mom couldn’t afford Flossmoor anymore and we returned to Park Forest South 2 years after leaving. There had been a white flight in our absence and I entered the 5th grade 1 of 2 white boys in the whole class. All the friends I had left in 2nd grade dissociated themselves from me. I was beat up daily, ostensibly because of the color of my skin, but surely abetted by my obvious sense of not belonging.
The 3 other moves—to the north side of Chicago for 3 years, then back to Flossmoor for 2 years, then to Boulder, Colorado for another 2—were the same situation in different locales. I would be the new kid. I might make a friend, usually some socially maladaptive kid. That friendship would run its course. And because I was never part of any clique, team or group, I would be isolated again.
Isolation became my default setting. For much of my life, I shirked the need for friends and girlfriends for long stretches, sure people would eventually reject me. It wasn’t until I was well into my 20’s that it occurred to me that I liked and wanted people in my life. Continue reading “Praxis of Evil”
In the fall of 2003 I was pretty lost. I had just been spit on by my recent ex-girlfriend—an emotionally unstable, 10-year-my-senior, ex-stripper with an adolescent child—having finally broken up with her after 5 unsuccessful tries. I was calling myself an actor and model, but would go on a casting or audition once a month at best. I was trying personal training to make money, but that didn’t seem to be going anywhere either; I hated the work environment and didn’t feel like I was helping anyone get fit. Everything I did seemed to turn to shit.
My main pastimes at this point were walking around Chinatown looking for interesting food and hanging out on the steps of Union Square. I was doing the latter activity one day when an acquaintance named Rob walked by. Rob was a perpetually tan, shaved-head Texan who seemed to dress exclusively in clothes from Barney’s Co-op—clothes that were meant to look downtown cool, but you knew cost $1200. Though I thought his taste in clothes garish, I liked Rob. He had a cool, slow southern demeanor. He always seemed to be doing things like Muay Thai boxing and feeding starving children in Africa. I thought, “Maybe Rob knows what I should do with my life.”
I asked Rob and he said I needed to go to Dallas. I’d never been there, so I listened on. He said that all of the results in his life came out of workshops run by an organization called Millennium 3 Education. He claimed the workshops would get me in touch with the roadblocks in my life, of which I had many. I don’t recall him telling me anything specific about what would happen in the workshop other than an assurance that it would change my life. I said I’d think about it. Continue reading “Transform Your Life for $550 (or not)”
Growing up, no one sat me down and said, “David, this is what I’ve learned about living a happy life.” The closest thing I got was a warning from my father: “If it looks too good to be true, sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true”—a sage tactic for avoiding unhappy situations, but not necessarily a strategy to get into good ones.
Without clear guidance, I tried to figure it out myself. I looked around the house, but like I said they weren’t saying much. Mom was boozing. Dad was an every-other-week presence who dealt with depression much of his life. Grandparents were pretty checked out.
I looked around the neighborhood, but the whole suburban, early-eighties, broken-home, lives of quiet desperation thing was all the rage, so that didn’t help much either.
That just left TV. People on TV had problems like me, but they were, unlike my problems, settled in twenty-two minutes (unless it was one of those annoying “to be continued” episodes). Happiness was the default setting for TV characters. They started the show happy, faced conflict, overcame conflict, returned to a happy state of being. The sitcom happiness arc was punctuated with commercials that brimmed with things to buy that assured happiness.
Out of this alloy of environmental inferences and TV-based philosophy, I had no clue how to live a happy life. I spent my first eighteen years in near continuous depression.
In 1997 my dad bought me a desktop PC for school. It had a 2 gig hard-drive because, he said, “I thought you needed something you could grow into.” It had Microsoft Office and came with a disk for a web-service called Gowebway.
I remember unpacking the computer, anticipating all the things I could do with it, like word processing and…well I didn’t know what else. I didn’t have any reason to make a spreadsheet. I’d never emailed. The web was an abstraction. It was like Encarta apparently, but more so.
When my folks left my place, I started up my computer, loaded Gowebway, hooked up my phone line and within minutes, I was online. A minute after that I was looking for porn. A few seconds after that, I found porn, and lots of it. Before the day was through, I had signed up for a $30/month subscription service (seemed like a deal), and had spent the whole night—and many days and nights after—having a one man bacchanal. It was a fitting entree to my online life, which has been the mental equivalent of a lifetime’s supply of Cheetos. Like Cheetos, online content is satisfying going down, but leaves you totally unnourished no matter how much you consume.