A Good Man Died Today

A good man died today, and like it always does, death has a tendency to make us think about life. So here I am, thinking about life. My life in particular. We’re all selfish when it comes to these things. He was a good man, this man who died today, and he raised good people and loved a good woman.

He died happy with almost a century of his own life’s memories to keep him company in those moments, and that good woman I just mentioned, well, she was right there by his side when he got called up. That’s the kind of death that you can sleep with at night. It’s a just death, a righteous death and, in a solemn way, it’s comforting. That with all the blood and pain and confusion, someone good died a good death in a sleepy little hospital comfortable and calm with the woman who gave him the majority of the life of he had and who was there, like she’d always been, when a muggy grey Wednesday in August became the last day they ever heard each others voice.

So I’m sitting here in a t-shirt that that man’s son gave to me once upon a time, listening to a band that neither of those men would like, with a candle burning like my grandmother taught me and a pit in my stomach. What that pit is, I don’t know, but somewhere in between going to sleep last night and sitting down at my desk right now, something has lodged itself there and refuses to leave. It feels nervous, watery and bitter but most of all, it just feels sad.

I may never have known this man and I may never have found myself sitting on the floor with a cold cup of coffee in one hand and a hand rolled cigarette shaking in the other, crying amongst the broken glass on the floor listening to Nothing Lasts Forever by Echo and the Bunnymen without a hint of irony. The man that introduced me to the man would have found the irony in it. He finds the irony in everything, that man.

I may never have known the woman that the man has left behind or felt the softness of her hands on mine or enjoyed her sharp, sometimes shocking, sense of humour. And to the rest of them, these people who today mourn the loss of a good man who died a good death and relish the memories of his idiosyncratic life, I feel my heart bend and bow for them too. He always hated my hair. He had that in common with his son. That and his laugh. I miss them both. Horribly.

And even more so today because like we said – death has a way of making us think about life and what it is and what it means to us and what we are going to make of it.

There are two ways that this train of thought can go I think.

One train of thought is to sit here and be thankful for the people I have, for the health I have, for the day I was given today that was taken from someone else. To be thankful that I have a job and that I have a home and that when I come home I am safe and warm and fed. To be thankful that at various times in my life I have laid in bed beside people who at various times in my life loved me, irrevocably and absolutely. To be thankful that I live in a country where I can do and say what I wish regardless of my age or gender or sexual orientation. To be thankful that I have a voice. To be thankful that I have a future, however tenuous and transient it may be. To be thankful that the people I hurt moved on and that some of them, I hope, forgave me my disgraces. To be thankful that I am sitting here now with the literacy and intent to write these words and publish them to strangers who may take comfort or reflection in some of the absurdities I ponder.

To be thankful to be alive and here and ready for tomorrow whatever it may bring.

Another train of thought is to be filled with remorse for the people I lost, for the health I destroy, for the day I wasted when someone else had it ripped from them. To complain about how tired I am and how much I hate my job and about how small my home is and how when I come home I am alone because the people I love aren’t here because I’m difficult to love and even harder to live with. To feel my chest cave in when I think about the people that at various times in my life I laid beside in bed that used to love me, irrevocably and absolutely that eventually got over those feelings the way someone gets over a flu that leaves you delirious. To shake my fist at a government that has given everything I’ve always wanted to someone else at every turn and torn my family apart and taken my best friend away from me because I refused to kneel. To loathe myself for the things I did a million years ago and to mourn the hearts I broke, some unintentionally and some more forcefully. To hope that they never forgive me because that would mean forgiving myself. To think of all the potential these hands and this mind had and the tools that they were given that I destroyed and where I could have been had I chosen to be a different person. To wonder whether all of this, these words, this endeavour is pointless and fruitless because who the fuck would ever read this shit?

To feel like it’s not worth waking up in the morning.

Because all of those things are true – two sides of the same treacherous coin that betrays us all.

And now sitting here the sun has broken through the clouds and it feels like summer is whispering into autumns ear. This is the first sunset he will never see and the first sunset that his son has ever seen without him. And it’s beautiful. Looking at that sunset, levelling that coin before it, there is only one side I can see. It’s beautiful. It’s not sad or hateful or intrusive. It’s beautiful.

And that’s how I know that that man was a good man.

Because he raised a son that taught me how to love myself and how to keep going. Even when I don’t want to and even when he’s not here, I hear him. You can do it and even if you can’t, well, honey you’re going to have to figure out a way to do it.

And he instilled in me a desire to make him proud.

And I still want to.

A good man died today and I lit a candle for him like my grandmother taught me to do.

A good man died today and left behind a good man that changed my life.

And for that, I’ll keep him in my heart and savour this sadness while the flame still burns.

Because I never got to thank him for the man he made.

So I’m thanking him now.

The only way I know how.

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Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

So it has come to my attention that I am not a very nice person and in my usual stubborn ways, I want to buck this definition as much as I can. Now the way I see it people are mean for three main reasons – persona, agenda and nature.

Sometimes people paint a picture of who they want to be in their head and if you were to ask them if they were happy with whom they are now, today, they would invariable say no. People don’t want to care, they don’t want to give a fuck what other people think about them but everyone does, in some way whether they hide it well and appear to have a chip on their shoulder, or if indeed they let everything get to them and publically break down to show that they are genuinely hurt.

I would have to say that yes, when it comes to persona I am more for the former than the latter definition of how people deal with judgement, but then again, if I didn’t care what people thought of me and more to the point, how people think I perceive them, I wouldn’t be writing this. The truth is that nobody is born mean, you are made mean and I for all intents and purposes have found that life is a little less jagged when you don’t take anything, including other people’s thoughts and feelings, too seriously.

Now I have come to this conclusion by trying to show people in the past how their actions have hurt me but then by way of dealing with the fact that they themselves didn’t seem to care, I seem to have mirrored the behaviour that tainted my outlook on life to begin with. I think we all take from each other what prevails most from someone’s persona. If someone is so abjectly nice to you, even a monster such as myself finds it very difficult to be horrible to them pointlessly or otherwise, because they are just far too nice to do that to. On the other hand if someone is really nasty to you, you find no fault nor cause for concern with your growing contempt and blatant dislike for said person.

Persona is the most difficult hand to shuffle because everyone has a different one, but suffice to say that what you project to the world is what you get back. If you are nice and calm, relaxed in tone and phrase then you are surely going to encounter less social friction in your life than if you are crude and abrasive or hostile in tone and phrase. The world likes nice people more, it has become what you are supposed to be, and that is why people who are a little less than nice, are people that you don’t particularly want to associate with.

Then comes agenda. Some people are mean because it suits them at the time but it isn’t really a reflection on the people they are, more so than the circumstances they find themselves in. If someone has hurt them, they will build up a shield around the soft, sensitive centre that they hold behind said shield, and will again, as in persona, mirror the way the world or that particular person has treated them.

This is when you see nice people turn nasty. It is mostly out of necessity and once they are removed from the situation that is causing them to harbour negative behaviours, they more often than not revert back to being the nice, calm collected people we all know and despise. Mean people have the same ability to change their persona’s according to what society demands from them at any given time. If this wasn’t the case mean people probably would never get a job, have any friends or indeed find romance in their lives – but they do. This is because however much we think it is true, mean people aren’t necessarily bad people.

And this brings us to the last thing that makes people mean – nature.  Some people are just naturally more cruel than others and the extremes of this can be seen in serial killers. One of the most remarkable character traits the appears again and again in the most deranged members of the human race, is that cruelness and charisma seem to go hand in hand.

This is why mean people can still function in society and even though they would probably have less enemies if they were nicer, they would most likely have no fewer friends. People who generally don’t indulge in the gooey side of life, who don’t make their way through the world with superfluous niceties and mindless etiquette, are refreshing sometimes because at the core of it, at least you know who they are from the beginning and you are not led on a rambling voyage of darkened discovery when you come to the realisation that every human being is both bad and good.

Some people choose to walk in the light and some choose to walk in the dark, and depending on your vantage point, the world is either a beautiful place or a harrowing hell hole. Nice people see the good things in the world, they see the joy, the majesty and the absolute awe of it all but mean people also have a lot to give the world. Mean people see the secrets, the corruption and the septic mess that boils underneath the surface of the nice peoples world.

Mean people see the world for what it really is because they also have the ability to see the world as nice people do. Mean people feel love, they experience joy and they are surrounded by beauty that if anything they appreciate more because unlike those blinded by the inherent social expectation of kindness, the comparison between light and dark in the world of the mean, is far more saturated.

So yes, I am not a very nice person and yes I accept that this is a result of my persona and what I choose to show the world, my agenda as in how I feel most comfortable showing my feelings in any given situation and indeed my nature. I have amazing friends, a wonderful family and an outlook on life that I treasure and it is the one reason I would never make myself nicer to bend to the will of anybody else.

I see the world for what it is, and with that view I can not only see when something is wondrous but I can also tell when it is withering. It makes the process of knowing what to live for much easier.

You Are Not a Princess and This Is Not a Fairytale.

Men get blamed for a lot of stuff that I don’t think is necessarily their fault, namely what I like to think of as the “Prince Charming Curse”.

All women whether they want to admit it or not have a Prince Charming in their head. Now he may be different to the Disney princes we were raised with as children, but the general logic is the same. It doesn’t matter if the Prince Charming in your head is covered in tattoos or straight off of the factory line, what does matter is that in your head, in every woman’s head, there is this perfectly charming man that was made by some great force, just for them.

To pick apart the PCC we have to look at the different ways in which men and women view each other. It is a commonly held misconception that men do not have their own notions of Princess Charming, because a hell of a lot of them do, but women, especially when they are little girls, are taught to subconsciously develop this notion of “perfection” in terms of who they choose to love and who they choose to leave.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, men get blamed for a lot of stuff that isn’t their fault as a result of the way a lot of women think about members of the opposite sex, whether they are conscious of the fact that they are doing it or not. No man, whoever he may be, has any chance of living up to the Prince Charming label and it isn’t because men suck, or men are evil beings, I quite like men – the point is men aren’t Prince Charming, because women aren’t Cinderella.

There seems to be this idea that all little girls are princesses, even the ones that play in the dirt, but that men have the ability to grow up good or grow up bad. Women do get called some horrendous names like skank, whore, slut – take your pick, my point is that it doesn’t put all men off of them. Some men actually prefer that kind of woman because they know that they don’t have to be a gentleman, or if you will, a Prince Charming. These girls are low maintenance and good for one thing, and if you are a man looking for a fix, there is nothing better than someone giving it away for free. I hold nothing against these women and in a lot of ways I envy them.

I envy people who can have sex with absolutely no strings attached, who look at members of the opposite sex with one thing in mind and only one thing. Who will overlook even the most blatant discrepancies to their Prince/Princess Charming criteria in the face of such unadulterated and uncompromising lust. I envy people who can forget that they are human and switch off their emotions for an hour or two and for those moments, be whoever and whatever the person desires with no prior assumptions of how they are supposed to act.

I think this is why a lot of women hate the whore/skank/slut kind of women; when it comes down to it its jealousy. You see them firstly as a sexual threat, because when someone has no morals your boyfriend, brother or best friend could be on their menu, but you ultimately see them as a personal threat, their mere existence causing you to feel like one of you is doing something wrong. People don’t like to question who they are and I think this is what the age old battle of sexually promiscuous men and sexually promiscuous women comes down to.

Disney is a classic brainwashing tool for young and old alike and it is in Disney movies that I founded most of my abhorrence for the Prince Charming idea. Something I noticed as a child and I still notice now is the amount of men in a Disney movie versus the amount of women. Take Pocahontas for example. You have a ship load of crude, most likely half-drunk men and an entire crop of young untamed, wild spirited women. Why is it then, which even at the end of the movie when the savages and the slave masters are equal, are Pocahontas and John Smith the only two that fell in love? I know the answer, and I think that if we taught our children, both male and female alike the true nature of love and what the world wants you to think it is, we would save them a hell of a lot of heartache.

The truth is simple – you are never going to find your perfect person, no matter how hard you try or however much you think you may have already found them. You will never know a love like John Smith and Pocahontas, because you are not a “princess” little girl and you are not a “prince” little boy. You are most probably a middle class child with a life time of disappointment and compromise ahead of you. The sooner you learn that life is not a fairy tale and that dreams genuinely don’t come true, the sooner life will begin to get better.

It’s not that women keep falling for the wrong guys, it’s that women keep trying to convince themselves that the person they love is perfect for them and instead of realising that all the things they don’t have in common, all the times they irritate each other and argue pointlessly are actually signs that they are not right for each other, they convince themselves that compromise and changing themselves slightly to benefit the other is what relationships are all about.

No. If you have to change who you are to be with the person you think that you are meant to be with, you are not meant to be with them. Eric didn’t make Ariel dye her hair because he preferred blondes and Tiana married Naveen when they were both still frogs. The only Disney movie that teaches children what life is really like is the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Quasi loves Esmeralda and she loves Phoebus. Now she does not love Phoebus because he is any kinder, braver or smarter than Quasi, no, she loves Phoebus because he is better looking.

We are preprogramed to think that the personality we wish for in a mate comes pre-packaged in a box that is also fit to our description, never mind the hundreds and hundreds of perfect matches we skip because they do not fit the Disney brand “Prince Charming” ideology. When people say that they genuinely prefer personality to looks, these people usually being the same that despise those brave enough to admit that looks are important, I wonder what they would do put in Esmeralda’s position? I can almost guarantee that none of those self-righteous people would choose Quasi. The “princess” only ever falls for the “prince”.

So what happens when you realise that you are not a princess? Does that automatically mean that you should except that fact that Quasi is as good as you are going to get and abandon all hope that Phoebus will ever love you? Seems like a depressing thought when you metaphorically use characters than you know and love instead of pointless celebrities or random acquaintances.

There appear to be two options. Either make yourself more like Esmeralda – change who you are, so that Phoebus will love you. Or accept the fact that Quasi is a person just like you – be who you are and be happy to be loved for who you are, by someone who would have you no other way.

The Disney Delusion has left a trail of broken hearts in its wake ever since Snow White bit the big one way back in 1937. Since then women have been convincing themselves that they are worthy of their Prince Charming and men have been convincing themselves that love is an elusive beast, often being left with feelings of inadequacy at the end of a relationship. The amount of men whose hearts are broken at the end of a relationship because they felt like they simply weren’t good enough is staggering and mostly overlooked.

You never find out Prince Charming’s story in Cinderella. You don’t get to go back to his palace and see how he rolls. He appears out of the pages of dreams and sweeps Cinderella off of her feet. The only way you are ever going to find your Prince Charming, is to never get too close. The moment that you see that a man is a real, living, breathing, feeling entity with emotions and aspirations just like you, who is weak and insecure and has the ability to break just like you women do, that is when the Prince Charming illusion shatters.

My best advice is to remember as the great sage Swift once said – you are not a princess and this is not a fairy tale. Abandon your hopes of every getting Esmeralda, Quasi, girls like her only want the Phoebus’ of this world and girls likewise give up your search for Phoebus, he will only settle for you if he cannot find his Esmeralda.

People will call me cynical, but I would rather be cynical than delusional. Anyway, I haven’t completely given up hope of finding my Prince Charming, but then again I never really liked Phoebus. I’ve always been a Quasi kind of girl.