LIFE UPDATES

Ah, it’s good to be free. School is over. Weeks of freedom are ahead, for some. For me, I will be going to USC for a Publishing Workshop with the LARB (The Los Angeles Review of Books) for a whole month, starting next week, which is—in its own way—a sort of freedom. But, that does mean dubious things for my free time. I will be busy ALL day with the workshop, pretty much from sun up till past dinner, with speakers and so on.

Now, you may wonder why exactly I am bringing this up. I mean…cool, that’s my life right? Well, the main reason I am bringing it up is because I am uncertain how much free time I will have to work on this blog. To be as consistent as possible, I have been doing one entry per day, every day of the week, for over a year now. That’s quite a bit of time, and I have loved doing so—it has helped me grow as a writer and as a person. But at this workshop I will be doing just that—growing and developing. Which means that I will already be doing what I wanted to do with this blog.

Of course, I don’t PLAN to be going away. If I can find the time, I will be writing daily still. But I might miss a couple days. And I don’t want anyone who reads my work daily to be worried. Normally I can plan out exactly when I will have time to write a post ahead of time to do so (see last year’s vacation posts), but this year I was caught up with graduation and other things, and couldn’t prewrite a month of posts. Plus, that’s less fun.

Anyways, I figured I could take today, my slow day, to post an update about the future, and update you on my life. I went to Las Vegas last weekend for a short vacation, which was super fun (no I didn’t go to EDC, but I certainly dealt with the traffic on the way home). We went to the Peppermill twice, which was incredible, and had Brazilian…BBQ? All you can eat food. It was amazing. I ate WAY too much. I also finished in the top 350 of a 4000-person tournament I played in, which was a fun experience, albeit not how I would have adored.

Well, that was my week. Let me know how you are spending your first few weeks of summer in the comments below!

——

 

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CLICHE POST-GRAD FAMILY THANK YOU NOTE

Graduation just passed, and this weekend I had a million things to talk about. Planning. Hard work. Hating the morning. Good food. Family. Stress. Over eating. And so on…yet somehow today my mind has pulled a blank. Probably because I was up until nearly 3:00 am giving life (relationship) advice to a good friend of mine, and I am now understandably sleepy. But I’m sure as I am typing, something will come to me.

Speak of the devil, and you will be rewarded in kind. Let’s talk about family. Family is a great and terrible thing. Somehow they are always there for you, yet also removed from your being (at least, this is true for me). Don’t get me wrong—I love my family. In fact, I think deep down, I would fall into the “family before country” group. Though, the caveat to this would be that this doesn’t apply to ALL members of my family. I don’t know my second cousin once removed who lives in wherever of wherever. I honestly don’t think I would jeopardize my life success over them. My mother, brother, sister, father, aunt, and/or immediate cousins though? Yeah probably. Actually not probably—definitely. Those are the people who keep up with and care about me, and I care about them.

Which is like…duh, Cassady. Of course you would care about your mother. Who doesn’t? I mean maybe it is a bit obvious, but at the same time I am not as sold. Perhaps it is due to the stresses of my life, which have been in many ways caused by certain family members, and I have seen people that I once would have placed on a pedestal fall into the depths of contempt. I also have family members that aren’t technically related to me by blood, yet they mean more to me than the biological grandparents on my mother’s side that I never knew. I have family whose image and ideology has influenced me long after their death. In part, I attribute the success of my life to their life lessons.

But again, like…duh Cassady. Of course you are shaped by your family and their teachings. You ranted about this when you talked about religious upbringings. Eh. Yeah. I suppose so. But what exactly is life without a little thankfulness. I don’t currently believe in an afterlife, which is perhaps my nihilism seeping through. But I do believe in life after death. I’ll explain quickly, since this post is getting a bit longer than I’d like. After we die, I don’t see much reason for us to actually have much going on after. If you disagree, that’s fine. It just doesn’t make much sense to me in the traditional sense, since if we have life after death, why shouldn’t the cat, or the dog, or the dolphin. What makes us so special? Because we claimed it? That sounds like vanity.

Regardless though, we can live after death through things. Images are a common one, but those don’t really impart the idea of life. Through our family we can live on, in the sense that our ideas will continue to flourish and develop. Thoughts we once had will find their way into the minds of brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and so on. Heirlooms seem to carry a similar quality, which is what makes them so…irreplaceable. You know what I mean? Let me know what you think! Is your family that important to you?

——

 

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THE END OF DAYS

If all men are dogs,

Then are all women frogs?

And are all mice men?

What’s that make children then?

 
But we all drink water;

We all have a father;

We all feel the pain

That’s driving us insane.

 

The pain of being alone,

Stuck inside a world

That’s bigger than our own.

 
Do you remember the days of old?

The days when our family

Was more valuable that gold.

 
Days before the calamity,

When we became preachers

Of goodness and chastity.

 
In the days where our leaders

Didn’t sell us out to greed,

And the land was our teacher.

 
Those days when we were free.

Free to be, you and me.

But those good days have long gone past,

The end of the world has come at last,

And machines order us throughout our days,

Because we let them put us in this haze.

——

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LOVE POEM #41 – THE STORY OF ALEXIA

When electricity made love rigid,

And enslaved men in their lusty livings,

The world itself seemed to grow frigid,

As nature was filled with such misgivings.

 

Time itself had grown old, aged, and weary;

The bolts of Zeus no longer cracked the sky;

Hades realm had been filled entirely,

And Poseidon’s sea kingdom had gone dry.

 

The great Zephyrus had breathed his last breath,

And Boreas ruled in the winter lands.

It seemed to me Eros had met his death,

And Aphrodite raped by evils hands.

 

But then came the spark, that flash of hot red,

That burned away the technology,

And we watched as the wicked turned and fled

Like a lost story in mythology.

 

They called her Rekka; Fira; Hestia,

And all sorts of other fiery names,

But by birth her name was Alexia

And the real fire was in her brains.

 

She found the fuel to burn down the kings,

Who had slaughtered the people she loved most.

And her vengeance gave revolution wings

Till the fire had spread from coast to coast.

 

And I tell you this tale so you know

That true love can defeat the greatest foe.

——

 

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THE DINING HALL

“Good afternoon,” a friendly deep voice called to me from down the hallway. The man was a large, aging figure, dressed as a stereotypical butler would be dressed. He even had the covered silver platter balanced carefully in his right hand, which stayed unnervingly still has he sauntered over to me.

“H-hello,” I said back. The butler smiled politely, but I could feel the nervousness in my voice. I had somehow found my way into the house, but could not for the life of me remember how. Actually, calling this place a house was a bit of an understatement. It was more like a mansion from a snobby magazine. The carpets were red with gold, the walls were satin, every painting looked like it had been there since it was originally painted several hundred years ago, and all their frames had the same, faded gold shine to them. There were candles lit down several corridors, and a glimpse of massive rooms could be seen peeking out behind half closed mahogany doors.

Yet the place itself was spotless. There was no hint of dust; no stains, no cracks, no breaks; no unevenness. Everything looked perfect, as though every evening someone went up to make sure everything was in order. Which must take hours, based on the relative size of the place.

I realized my eyes had been wandering for a few moments too long when the butler cleared his throat.

“Sir, I must ask that we make our way to the dining table. The master has been expecting you for a short while now.” He began to turn away to show me the way.

“Expecting…how did I get here?” The butler paused, then turned back to me with a carefully practice patience.

“Sir, please, everything will be explained in due time.” I opened my mouth to respond, but before I could get a word out he had turned his back to me and began walking down the hallway. I fell in step a few feet behind him, my eye fixated on the patterns woven into the fabric. So simple, yet so precisely elegant. We turned a few corners, then passed through one of the large doors to an enormous room. There was a large, fifty foot table in the center, no doubt regularly filled with parties, as there were nearly one hundred placemats set out. Though interestingly, only two chair.

The chair closest to me, which the butler had indicated I should sit at, was a simple wooden chair. It seemed too homely compared to the rest of the house. Almost like they had robbed some poor family of their best chair in the middle of the night. Seated on the other end of the table was a large, black chair, made what looked to be a fine leather material (though from that distance I was not entirely sure). The chair towered over the man inside, who was shadowed mysteriously so that I could not get a clear view of his face. His hair appeared to be short, possibly even blonde, and he held himself like a man used to wielding power.

After I had taken my seat, the butler walked down to speak to who I assumed was the master. He was speaking softly, perhaps asking the master what he wanted to eat. The man waved him away, and the butler turned to walk back to me.

“The master will be dining on lamb tonight. What would you like to eat?” he said in a quiet voice.

“Is there a menu?”

“The menu is whatever you would like it to be. Though I would warn you,” he glanced down the table, “your choice of food will be noted by the master.” I looked down the table, past the perfectly placed candles and table settings, to try to get a read of what I should do.

“I’ll require an appetizer, of the chef’s choice, however it must be served hot and with mozzarella cheese. Then, for the main course, I would like a ribeye steak from a cow slaughtered no more than 3 days ago, cooked with garlic and butter to just above rare, but slightly before medium rare. To pair with it, I would like a merlot from 1950 or earlier, but prior to that I would like a Coca-Cola, from the glass bottle, not a can, served with two spoonfuls of vanilla syrup mixed inside it.”

“Ah sir,” the butler started.

“Is there a problem?” I quipped, trying to appear as regal as possible.

“No sir. I merely wished to ask if you’d like your steak to be twelve ounces, or sixteen.”

“Twenty.” The butler looked at me, then nodded quickly and walked off. I looked down the table to beam at the master, yet he was absentmindedly jotting notes on a pad of paper that had seemingly appeared before him.

——

 

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CONDITIONAL LOVE

It seems like a good day to talk about family. Everyone has family struggles in their life. Bad parents. Bad children. Bad siblings. None of the above…the absence of family is still a family struggle, right? But we often don’t talk about how important family is to the general scheme of our lives. Which is perhaps because we take them more for granted than we should. I certainly do.

Then again, family can really be a difficult thing to understand. People love to throw around the term “unconditional love,” which I don’t really understand. I mean, I love my family—both my immediate family and the vast majority of my extended family. But I don’t think I could call love unconditional. I mean, people often say “I love you unconditionally” to their spouse, but if they caught that spouse out with three hookers for a week long cocaine binge, they probably wouldn’t find it in their heart to continue loving them. Maybe. But probably not.

Likewise, family has a similar conundrum, right? We all have that one sibling that gets on our nerves (if we have siblings), but that doesn’t mean we have to cast them out, right? But at what point is the breaking point?

Let’s say they turn their back on everything their family stands for. Like a man from a Jewish family renouncing his faith and joining the Neo-Nazi party. Is that far enough? If love were unconditional, no. How about being betrayed by someone because that person was so desperate in their life, they decided it was worth punishing their family as some sort of…extended blame for their own problems? How about then?

What if a family member goes insane and starts murdering people without justification or anything? As loosely defined as it is, these technically fall under “conditional love.” Not murdering people seems like a pretty reasonable condition to me. But like…not loving someone because they didn’t share their milkshake with you would not be quite so reasonable.

Which leaves me curious about why we choose to use words like “unconditional love” when discussing our relationship to our family. I mean, it might have to do with the hyperbolic nature of human kind, and that’s perfectly plausible…but it is not that entertaining. I think it might have to do with the fickleness of love in the first place. Love, like all emotions, is not entirely sustainable. It ebbs and flows. Think about it. If every minute of every day you were desperately in love with someone, you’d probably kill yourself. Just like if you were constantly enraged with everyone. Or, if not, you might grow bored of them. Pizza is great, but eating the same pizza every day can grow a bit stale. Maybe it takes a week, maybe it takes a month. Maybe it even takes twenty years.

But we don’t eat pizza every day. We have other things. And like with food, we experience other emotions. And those other emotions impact the ones we currently feel. One might say they love you unconditionally, and mean it at that moment. But over time, that love fades and becomes conditional, simply because that’s how emotions work, no? Does that make sense? Let me know what you think in the comments.

——

 

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TALKING ABOUT THE VOID

Do you ever hear the aching call of the black void, so calm and so quiet, yet full of remorse and desperation? With the controversy over 13 Reasons Why, as well as the general sense of nihilism among many of my Millennial counterparts, I figured I should take a short time to talk about it, since I shared in an interesting conversation about “the darkness” with someone recently.

As I and others of my age group grow into adults, we become more and more aware of our place in the world…as tiny specks. One in seven billion. It is hard to feel special when the numbers are so stacked against us, even if we are the biggest living generation around. The sense of hopelessness and inability to succeed seeps into our everyday life—which in the grand scheme of things is ironic, since Millennials are better off than most generations that the United States has experienced, in terms of upbringing and living conditions (though that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Saying someone with a DVD player is more well off than someone with a VHS player is negligible when neither has a television). I think this is an apt reason for why Millennials are often considered entitled, but I don’t really want to rehash an argument that boils down to opinion and chosen perspectives, so that’s all I will say on that.

What I do want to talk about is the sense of hopelessness; the so-called “void” people often reference. Maybe it is because we have (sort of) normalized feelings of depression, enough to where people can speak more openly about it, but I don’t know. I think perhaps the actual depression might be hidden somewhere else. Regardless, this void is something we (Millennials) talk about together. The general sense of “I don’t want to adult” or “everyday is awful.” First of all, it isn’t the first time this has happened—every generation goes through struggles becoming an adult, Millennials are just a little later to the party.

BUT, this sense of hopelessness also is a call for unity and common ground. I can go up to anyone in my school and show them a meme about “struggles” or “#adulting” or “anxiety and depression” and they will get it—half of them will probably openly admit the text lingo “same”—which means “I feel the same way.” Which, I think, in some ways provides avenues for happiness down the line. This is because, in theory, life will not always be so daunting. At some point we will all come together with our common experiences and have one united voice. It also helps break down the barriers that other generations have experienced—race, sex, romantic inclinations, etc…they all pale in comparison to the feeling of “the void” (I am hopeful the same is true for class, but we shall see).

Anyways, those are just my thoughts on the struggle that many of the blossoming youth in America are dealing with. Do you agree or disagree? Have further thoughts of opinions? Let me know!

——

 

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A FEAST FOR A KING

The first time I ate lunch in bed,

I thought I was classy,

But the second time came ‘round and

I thought it was trashy.

 

Knifing through that royal steak on

A lush, silver platter,

Turned my bedroom to a throne room,

Filled with courtroom chatter.

There were jesters, and dancers, and

A bounty of a feast,

But my eyes were most bound to the

Fine clothing from the East.

That evening we swirled in our

Expensive silk treasures,

But on the morrow I found there

Was poison in pleasures.

 

Come morn I had been invaded

By the rank smell of sweat

And the realization that

I was deeply in debt.

When they finally tossed me lunch

It was this green-grey dish.

Served on a soggy paper plate,

With the stench of old fish.

And I understood that a king

Was no more of a man

Than a child in bed screaming,

“Mom, bring me my lunch can!”

——

 

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LIFE AS A FISH

I woke up in a strange skin. I felt slimy, wet, and scaly. The air choked me, and I floundered on the dirt. I had turned into a fish. I had no clue when it had happened—or how, for that matter, but I looked around desperately for a water source. I could feel the heat in my gills as my body began to grow desperate and dry. The cool dirt below me made for a soft landing as I bounced toward the river. I remembering feeling so dexterous—so malleable, much more than I had in my human form. Eventually, after an eternity of struggling, I managed to pop back into the water. As I broke through the surface and into the current, I could not help but stay motionless for a moment. Sinking into the water was like sinking into a chair after a long day at work. All my worries washed down the river away from me.

When I did finally open my eyes, I looked at the wondrous world around me. Perhaps the human eye cannot distinguish it, but under the river looked much different through a fish’s lenses. I could see the water moving, the flow of the current pulling every minuet piece of dirt and rock from the bottom, and down the stream. I could see the moss cling helplessly to its surroundings as this monstrous body of water tore at it, day in and day out. And I could swim! Oh, how I could swim. I felt like a snake, slithering through the jungle. I could list slowly from side to side, as if removed from the current, or dart rapidly around if I desired.

And I was, surprisingly, alone. I recognized this river; it was by my hometown, less than a mile down stream. As a child, I would play there with the vigor of youth. I would run through the trees, to the riverbank, and stare endlessly at the water below. I remember the red, yellow, and grey fish dancing around in front of my mesmerized eyes. As I got older, I gathered the courage to catch one, though I was never successful. My hands would tremble inches from the water, just above my target, and I would spear into the water as fast as I could. Yet somehow, every time I broke through the surface, it was as if the fish had disappeared. By the time the ripples of the water had settled, I was empty handed and there were no fish in sight.

As I looked around me that day, there were no fish to be seen. Not as if they had disappeared down stream when I had splashed back into the water, but it was empty, lifeless, and alone. I waited for hours—though I have found that time as a fish moves much differently than time as a human. Faster. There’s much less to worry about in the mind of a fish. I nibbled about on various things that came down river, hoping that eventually a friend would join me. But the void of the river was silent, save for the whir of the current around me. I poked my eyes above the water briefly, to look around at the world. It looked so different; so dull. I felt a sinking feeling in my heart, like I would always be alone. I would never seen my friends again. I would never see my family again. My home was gone from me, and I from it. And in that mess of doubts, I swam downstream and away, never to return again.

——

 

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CALL TO ARMS (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Tides

As the tide rolls in,

The sand crabs burrow away,

Fearful for their lives.

 

Classical

The piano hums

With twilight melancholy,

That hints our sadness.

 

The Ruler

There’s the twelve-inch man,

Straight edged, erect, and strong. That’s

Why he’s called “ruler.”

 

Blanketed Sunset

As night ousts the day,

The busy beach falls silent,

But we’ll still be warm.

 

Call to Arms

The beat of the drum

Rolls like thunder in the sky;

Our footsteps the storm.

——

 

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P.S. The super cool photo used for this post was taken by Deborah Brewer, and can be found here.