Watch And Pass This To 2016 Grads And Anyone Asking “What Next?”

As an immigrant in America (let alone elsewhere in the world), one’s life is filled with uncertainty of the moment, by anxiety filled moment. In one way or the other, we all have moments of doubting our “belonging“. Belonging to a certain path, belonging in a job, belonging in a relationship, belonging in this night club, and for many this month – belonging in this graduation gown.
The other day I realized a truth as it poured out of my mouth effortlessly, and how much it had not scared me in YEARS talking to a friend of mine:

“…my entire American experience (better or worse) is defined by predicting uncertainty – that’s my comfort zone”.

For some people, watching peers (often by AGE ONLY) go through ‘traditional milestones’ one by one [1st big job, promotion, home, MARRIAGE, kids – in no particular order] – while you feel you’re barely treading water can be be a little worrisome, to say the least.
(ALSO worrisome is the fact that, I STILL can not swim but, I’m not here for your judgement and this ain’t bout that!)

I read something a friend said that connected to this “belonging” the other day:

“I’d rather be at the bottom of the right ladder than halfway up the wrong one.”

To you, I wish to pass this moment of clarity “amidst the bull$hit” – as public poet, SHAKES put it to me when I ran into him in the streets of Iowa City – filled with graduation gowns for the weekend.

Whether high school, 2 year college, or university, I wish the same spirit for this month’s graduates, and anyone asking themselves, “WHAT NEXT”.
Some of you may watch this 2 minute clip and say “get that hocus pocus nonsense outta here. Oprah didn’t get rich by sittin on the sofa!”. YOU’RE RIGHT… SHE DIDN’T… NO ONE DOES, but you’re missing the glaring point. This isn’t a message of “do nothing”… Watch and see bottom:

Know Your Life Is Bigger Than One Moment (of clarity or cloudiness)


Things That Scare Me: Alarm Clocks

In cynical celebration of our favorite death celebrating season, we’re going all out on fear based topics this month. Every day, Ben will present one thing that scares him, ranging from the anxious and annoying to the deadly and doomed. This is… Things That Scare Me.

Groundhog Day | YouTube

There’s one noise, one piercing sound, that I fear above all the rest. I fear it more than the sickening sound of that neighborly owl tearing into a fresh rodent, a meal that always seems to take place in my backyard. I fear it more than the booming sound of an unexpected explosion, prank fireworks or overloaded transformer boxes. I fear it more than the sound of a child crying, a helpless wail. I fear that sound more than any of that crap combined. That sound? My godforsaken, piece of shit alarm clock.

I understand that the objective function of an alarm clock is to wake someone up. I get it. It’s inherently startling. I COMPREHEND THE CONCEPT, GUYS. But every single time my asshole alarm decides to unleash the fury of a thousand decibels of unfiltered siren into my ear, I FREAK the fuck out. I can’t help it! My alarm, no matter what time I fall asleep, no matter what day of the week, no matter what time it’s set to go off, will always go all *WARNING YOU’RE IN A SINKING SUBMARINE* during my deepest, most peaceful moment of REM sleep. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.

Well, okay, that used to be true at least. See, my fear of the alarm (or maybe just my fear of waking up in general. Jobs, am I right?) has created an embedded state of anxiety that occurs in the morning hours of bedrest. So now instead of getting blasted awake by a nuclear meltdown warning, I don’t spend a single second of my 4am-6am sleeping hours in my happy dream place. Nope, now I treat myself to the flopping, frantic turning that accompanies vast, insurmountable fear, inevitably leading to my constant checking of time, an every-fifteen-minute occurrence involving squinted, light-blinded eyes and frustrated sighs. IT’S A REALLY HEALTHY HABIT, YOU GUYS. NO PROBLEMS FROM THAT AT ALL. NOPE. MY WIFE DEFINITELY DOESN’T HATE ME.

I’m so scared of alarm clocks, that I’m now not even being woken up by alarm clocks, but rather by the anxiety of the alarm clock itself. THAT’S TRUE FEAR, YO. And before you get all judgmental (way, way too late, huh?), please know that I know that it’s pathetic. It’s not like spiders or getting buried underground, or any other massively felt fear. And it’s certainly not lethal by any stretch of the imagination. BUT IT IS LOUD AND IT SCARES ME. Or, I guess, it’s silent in the inertia of potential sound energy and still scares me? Or, I guess, it’s it all in my head and still scares me? I don’t know. Now I’m frustrated thinking about my frustration! Whatever. Fuck the flow of time and fuck mornings. Maybe I’m just scared of those.

Dear America, We Still Cool Right? Yours Sincerely, South African

In case you missed it, October’s our cynical celebration of our favorite death season. Every day, Ben will present one thing that scares him, ranging from the anxious and annoying to the deadly and doomed. This Right Here Is My…SWAG is one of those things that scares me:

On behalf of South Africans everywhere, I’d like to pass my condolences apologies. Ben claims to be American but, I have my doubts. I’ve known Americans to be a fearless bunch INVENTING phones, MOCKING the itsy bitsy spiders with their kids, and hanging out in public bathrooms during football games to warm up during the winter (good call to my freshman year professor for that recommendation) – not FEARing those things or anyone!

Americans are a proud folk who have somehow coined, trademarked, and completely monopolized the indelible “WE’RE NUMBER 1” sports chant… (patent pending). That holds true until some South Africans beat the snot out of the American “Eagles” in the Rugby World Cup as they did this past weekend with a decisive 64-0 Shutout. 64-0.. SIXTY FOUR.  GOOD GAWD… You don’t have to understand the scoring in Rugby to get how terrible that is. America, meet me in the next paragraph, if you would be so kind.

Look, America. You’re good, right? I know your favorite newsman was recently replaced by South African, Trevor Noah – which will get awkward when he comes to talk $hit to Americans, about Americans… I would never do that, America! You know me! Known me more than half my life! I love you, America! I love BASEBALLHOCKEYFOOTBALLBASKETBALL… LEBRON JAMES, and HE’S American! Right? I love the Hawks! Not the Seattle Seahawks. They’re posers, and need to give that “Go Hawks” patent up to the Iowa Hawks of the heartland of farmin, hard-working, bread-basket, plain accent, this-ain’t-heaven-but-it’s-close IOWA! But I’m scared, America.

My fear is that thanks to this recent ass-handing by my Springboks, losing your beloved Jon Stewart, and Donald Trump’s surge in the polls – I will be issued a challenge in the immortal words of Iowa quarterback, Ricky Stanzi:

I love it. I don’t wanna leave it. So, despite that EMBARRASSMENT OF INTERNATIONAL PROPORTIONS America, WE still cool, right?

Yours Sincerely,

-South African

Humpday Hymn: R.Kelly – “Snake”

We get it, Kellz. Snakes are mysterious AF, and can be fun to charm and seduce like those talented Indian guys do. But, you know what else they are? Suffocating. Poisonous. Sneaky. If you trust them to be harmless without knowing enough about em, they’ll  come back to bite ya. JANET,  YOU TWO-TIMIN TEMPTRESS!

Sorry, um… Snakes. That’s where we were. The pied piper may love how she get down, but snake-play in bed? That’s some scary $hit…make sure that thing’s defanged 😉

Things That Scare Me: Everything Underground

In cynical celebration of our favorite death celebrating season, we’re going all out on fear based topics this month. Every day, Ben will present one thing that scares him, ranging from the anxious and annoying to the deadly and doomed. This is… Things That Scare Me.

Batman Begins | YouTube
Batman Begins | YouTube

I’ve got a confession to make. It’s a hard one too. I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but… I could never be Batman. I know, I know. I’m just as hurt as you. Who would have thought a married dude with lower middle class ambitions, thick-rimmed glasses, the hand-eye coordination of a one-eyed moose, and a standing height roughly that of an upright Pomeranian couldn’t be Batman? Well I thought it. Because it’s the truth. Because I couldn’t be Batman. Because dude, I’m fucking SCARED of caves.

And it’s not just caves. It’s everything underground. Sewers, tunnels, shallow graves, it’s all terrifying if it’s below the surface of the earth. I want nothing to do with any of it. I’m sure there’s a deep-seeded psychological reasoning for this fear, perhaps a claustrophobic experience in the womb, but if that’s true, I don’t want to know. I want to keep everything surface level at all times, because the deeper you go, both into the earth and into your mind, the scarier shit gets.

Look, I don’t need to spend an afternoon hugging stalagmites to appreciate nature. I know a lot of people who disagree with that, so if you’re a geologist or a spelunker, that’s whatever, you’re cool. You’re an insane, crazy person, but you’re still cool. Because you can still be Batman. You can post up and brood in the dark, moist corners of grand caverns, desolate spots reserved for bats, bugs, and mole people, and not panic. You can squeeze into tight crevices, exploring new rock formations and mineral deposits. You can do you! But don’t expect me to follow with a bucket of lubricant for when you get stuck. No way. Fuck that.

You know the easiest way of avoiding ever being buried alive, a slow death by suffocation? BY NOT FUCKING GOING UNDERGROUND! Sure, there are freak natural occurrences you can’t avoid, sudden rock slides or earthquakes, or sentient dirt people looking to gangbang. That happens. But death by premature burial, especially self-inflicted, is one of the EASIEST deaths to avoid. Never go underground for any reason ever. Nope, not even for buried gold. Nope, not even to rescue a princess a golem. Nope, not even to be Batman. Case closed.

Midnight Snack: Michael Jackson – “The Earth Song”

Ben and I had a brief argument about breaking down “Thriller” for this scary month of October… Very well might, but for now – let’s mull over this selection I definitely do NOT phuck with! The Earth Song is mad eery, fam! Let’s start with the spaced out minor keys. Right there, you’re already ominous for no phuckin reason. Then, he adds the organs and harp strings being strummed by the fingers of the invisible dark hand of the free market killing Michael’s sunrise and rain.

Did you ever stop to notice all the children dying of war?” NOPE… sorry, Michael. The hand is invisible, and it covers its eyes so all that stuff is invisible to it. It’s all of us…killing all of our children… and the rain, and the sunrise, and the dead elephants in that video. HOLY $HIT, that’s a phucked up video, Michael!
The most messed up part is when the Earth has had enough, and blows back. HARD! The invisible hand of the market is badass and coddles badasses like Donald Trump, but it’s no match for mother nature’s fury – especially if she has blood coming out of her “wherever”.
Afterall, the earth will survive US. WE ain’t $hit. The Earth has seen far worse times and things than our invisible hand.  There was that one time a big assteroid crashed into the Earth, and kinda killed every breathing thing in it. Know who survived that? EARTH. Then there was that giant were SEVERAL Ice Age (s), where every breathing thing was frozen… Guess who else survived that? EARTH AGAIN. EARTH is a rider. Earth will be fine. Will we? Maybe that’s what scared Michael. Maybe that’s some scary $hit to consider…naaaah. We’ll be fine! I’m jus blowin smoke..into the OZONE LAYER!

What up, Great Barrier Reef? Everything cool? Catchin a deadly wave?

Things That Scare Me: Epidemic Disease

In cynical celebration of our favorite death celebrating season, we’re going all out on fear based topics this month. Every day, Ben will present one thing that scares him, ranging from the anxious and annoying to the deadly and doomed. This is… Things That Scare Me.

Contagion | YouTube
Contagion | YouTube

There’s this mobile game called Plague Inc. that I’ve been addicted to lately. Its basic premise is simple: you create a disease and try to spread it across the globe, eradicating humanity as quickly as possible. The game’s customization ability is one of its biggest strengths; you can genetically enhance your made-to-order death bringer, buffing it against antibiotics and extreme temperatures, worsening symptoms to include nasty treats like total organ failure and hemorrhagic shock, tweaking your little plague’s distribution methods until it’s capable of running wild.

And if it sounds morbid, that’s because it is. Again, you’re designing a disease to ERADICATE HUMAN EXISTENCE. For fun. Forget moon bases and shark lasers, that’s some real mad scientist shit. And as much as I hate to admit it, it’s easy to find immense perverse pleasure in sending the human race to an early extinction. It’s cathartic. Because deep down inside, we’re all scared that that’s how we’re going to die, wiped away by an invisible killer, a virus or bacteria evolved to lethal perfection, our lives gone before we even knew what was there.

Now I’m not an epidemiologist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve seen the movie Contagion, so I’m pretty confident in my ability to say that a mass epidemic is exactly how the world is going to end. Oh that’s a fictitious movie you say? Well I say there’s a lot of truth in fiction. Because for every imaginary crusade against humanity we’ve created, from The Walking Dead’s TS-19 to Edgar Allen Poe’s Red Death, there’s an equally scary, real disease waiting to pop out of our nightmares and into our bloodstreams. Spanish Flu. The Black Plague. Ebola. And it’s not going to matter how disaster ready your apocalypse bunker is; we’re all doomed. Because people are above all two things: stupid and gross. It’s just true. Have you seen a men’s public bathroom? Have you spent time out there? In the world? IT’S FULL OF IDIOTS! It doesn’t matter how smart our scientists are, people will always be the biggest inhibitors to their own survival. That’s why the Darwin Awards exist.

I’ll never forget the experience of watching Contagion for the first time, an impulse decision to catch an afternoon matinee while I was living in uptown Minneapolis. As I sat there, watching a fictional account of a fictional disease rip through a fictional block on the very real street I actually lived on, I felt sick. I couldn’t stop looking around me, anxiously shifting in my seat. The idea of disease had taken root. I heard every exhale from every theater patron. I smelt every last dying skin cell in the air. I felt every sticky germ, every microbe that had previously sat in my seat. And I panicked. I went home. I showered for far too long, scrubbing away at an invisible, fictional, non-present disease that I could feel worming its way through my skin. Because I was scared. Because I was consumed by it. Because that movie might not have been, but disease is, very real.