A Game Of Thrones

How did you come across the book?

I was at my girlfriend’s house, um… and, I saw the book on the shelf, and I was like, “Hey, I watched the series, so might as well read the book!” And, yeah… that’s how I found myself reading it. I asked if I could borrow it and… yeah.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

I don’t know. I use to… I’ve always read books for different reasons. I was into fantasy a lot. And, this is also fantasy. But, they’re written differently… and like, especially when you’re younger, you look at different things and you get lost in different things. Your whole mind wanders. I end up not reading usually. Half the time I usually just look at the page, kind of just dreaming and thinking about it… and that’s why I like fantasy. So, to answer the question… yeah, I don’t know!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah. I mean I’d honestly recommend it to all ages, but like that’s always a weird thing, cause I feel like kids understand violence… there’s a lot of violence, a lot of blood, vivid descriptions of different things, you know. But yeah, honestly, I feel like kids my age… 19… I mean 16-19 also, violence is on like every TV show… and it’s on Netflix, so… anyone can watch that. So, yeah… honestly, all ages. Why not?

Willing Slaves of Capital

How did you come across the book?

It was recommended by a friend.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well, uh… I’ve got a very new perspective towards capitalism. Yeah… it is… I’ve learned to admit the fact that we are all, slaves in a way… willingly though. Because, the system is designed in such a way that we need to willingly go into servitude to get what it is we desire, on a daily basis. Or, otherwise… or else… you can’t live in this system. You have to live somewhere else.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh yeah. I would totally recommend it. Especially to the young people… to the youth. Because, uh… they seem so caught up in the… in everything that’s going on. Everything seems to be coming at them so fast that people don’t have time to take an objective look at anything. And, this book takes an objective look to capitalism, if you want to… if you may put it like that. I think it would really be a good read for… for the youth, anywhere… not just in the overtly capitalistic systems, but than those that are covertly capitalistic, or whatever they may want to call it, as well. Yeah… I think its a good read.

Moon of the Morning Sky

It’s a contradiction, but it happens.

It’s not supposed to be there, but it is.

It’s a symbol of the night, but I’m enjoying its presence this very morning,

amongst a sky bluer than the richest of ocean,

caught within the vastness of life made visible by the Sun’s provide,

sketched between the purest of white, wonderful clouds washed across the canvas of the scene.

My mind grateful for this. All of this. All beyond this, even.

But,

more so for the accident.

Grateful for what is, but wasn’t meant to be,

for the abstract nonconformity of it all.

A whole world to be grateful for,

beyond this world, even more.

But,

an accident reminds me.

It reminds me of the mystery which is life,

challenges any attempt of mine to be right,

brings to question things I may be unwilling to confront,

to be confronted by,

or to completely turn away from.

It reminds me its okay to be where you’re not suppose to.

It can be beautiful, even.

Where am I suppose to be, anyway?

Where is the moon suppose to be?

Not there, but it is.

Not here, but I am.

And it’s beautiful.

All of it.

The contradiction.

The misplaced.

The accident.

Moon of the morning sky,

thank you,

deeply,

for reminding me.

The Devil In The White City

How did you come across the book?

A friend of mine was telling me about it… I don’t remember what we were talking about, but… he was like, ‘oh, have you heard about the Chicago’s World Fair… and, you know, the main guy that actually started the fair was this psycho serial killer?’ And, I was like,’ No!… I never knew that happened!’ So, yeah… I was very intrigued and, until I got the book, he was like, ‘yeah… you’ve got to read it.’ I mean, I never heard of it until he brought it up to me. Yeah, cause’ I mean… I thought the fair… well, I actually started reading this book and I haven’t read it in the past few months, so now I’m just picking it up again, but, the guy that ran the fair, yeah… he’s known to have killed like… I can’t even remember the number… just insane… and this is in like 1890s…’MURDER, MAGIC, AND MADNESS AT THE FAIR‘… murder should probably be in bold!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Umm… I guess… I’m trying to get back into it since I took a break from it, but… it’s just interesting to learn about history that you never knew about. Yeah.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes. I would recommend it. To? Anyone that just wants to learn more about what’s happened in America that you don’t really know about. Like, I commonly wouldn’t have known this ever happened… and, friends that I’ve told this about, they’ve also been like, ‘oh, I never knew that even happened!’ So, yeah… guess its good to learn and to read at the same time.

Behind That Door

There’s so many things in my life that repeat.

Maybe for yours, the same.

I’ve been there before.

I’ve felt that way.

I’ve seen where this leads.

I’ve experienced that pain.

Maybe for you, the same.

I know what’s behind that door, but I keep opening it.

Most moments I know I shouldn’t. That could be a fool. But it only takes one.

I usually fall for that moment.

No matter how much thought, how much hesitation. I fall for that moment.

I open it again.

Sometimes its me knocking on the door. It’s not always answered. It’s not always ignored, either.

Other times I hear the knocking. Sometimes I’ll answer. Other times I wont. I’ll ignore it.

But again, it only takes one. One fool. One moment. And, that door’s open again.

And, I know what’s behind that door, but its open again.

It’s not all bad, though. It’s not all good, either.

It’s not all the same. It’s not all different, I’ll admit.

The first step back tends to be different. The first gaze makes it all seem foreign.

I think we want it to be. I believe we need it to be.

Then, you notice what hasn’t changed. Not everything does. Most of it, yes. But, not everything.

I believe we want it to be. No, I think we need it to be.

It’s not about the changes, though. It’s not about the things which remain the same, either.

I don’t know what its about. I’m tired of guessing. Something invites you in, though. It is welcoming.

There is a home to it.

And you fall for it.

Maybe home is what its about. At least a sense of it.

A gypsy’s mind yearns for that, too.

A traveler’s body.

A sailor’s devotion.

An artist’s attempt.

A carney’s hidden sorrow.

A soldier’s sacrifice.

All the same. They yearn for that, too.

At least a sense of it.

But, I know what’s behind that door, and its open again.

It’s not that, though.

It’s not that, anymore.

It’s not even yesterday, anymore.

Not yet tomorrow, but, not even…

this…

… anymore.

This becomes that.

Now its not even that, anymore.

I’m not even me, anymore.

Not the me from before.

Maybe a sense of it.

Maybe for you, the same.

Maybe a sense of it.

That could be a fool.

So much uncertainty.

But, I know whats behind that door.

That could be a fool, too.

No.

I know whats behind that door.

But, there’s those moments again when I don’t.

Maybe I’ve forgotten. Maybe I’ve wanted to have forgotten. Maybe I honestly don’t know anymore. Maybe its all a lie. Maybe I’ve lied to myself. Been lied to, maybe.

Maybe we all have.

Maybe we all do.

No.

I know whats behind that door. But, its open again.

But, I’m not asking why no more.

No expectations.

No thought of how come. No wonder of what if.

They come back around, I’ll admit.

But, I know them now. I know their presence and I know their stay, and I know neither are very long. Not anymore. Not as long as before.

I never expected to pass through here again.

I’ve learned that too; I’ve learned that to be a fool.

I was just looking for what was looking for me.

No. That’s a fool. I was looking for anything.

I never expected to pass through here again, though.

But, here I am.

Again.

The first step, different. The first gaze, foreign.

I know what’s behind that door. Do I, though?

There are similarities, though. And, there are differences, too.

I know what’s behind that door, but this one?

I’ve been there before, but not here.

I’ve felt that way, but not this.

I’ve seen where this leads, but not end.

I’ve experienced that pain, and I will again.

Never have I felt like this before, though.

And, never will I again. Not exactly like this. No, not ever again.

Not exactly like this.

There is no door. The whole damn thing a fool.

There’s only this. That from before. And then, maybe, there’s more.

We’re all exposed to it.

Subjected, rather.

Behind that door, no longer I hide.

My mind no longer blind.

Blocked.

Closed.

Shut.

That could be fool. It only takes one.

There is no door, though.

There’s only this. That from before. And then, maybe, there’s more.

Behind that door, from my mind, no longer I hide.

Fendre l’armure

How did you come across the book?

I bought it in France before I left to come here. And, I don’t know… bought it because I know the author, I’ve read a lot of her books and I really like them. It’s easy to read and, this one, it’s just like a bunch of novels that I really like. It’s about people that are becoming vulnerable and opening themselves. So, yeah… this is something that I find really interesting.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Hmm… I’ve learned that probably opening to people isn’t a bad thing, and making yourself vulnerable isn’t bad at all. It’s not a weakness. It’s uh… you feel less lonely when you open to people and this is pretty much what this book told me.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah, I would definitely recommend it, and I would recommend it to pretty much everyone because it is super simple to read. There are so many different histories that identify to most of the characters, so… and… it’s a great book.

You Have All You Need

More. But why? Look around; you have all you need.

Your entire being a vehicle, designed for survival and for thrive, for experience and for expression.

No more gimmicks, no need for external aid, be gone with the thought ‘with this there is more’; look within and you will find that you have all you will ever need.

With what you are, you are enough.

‘But what I want is to relax.’ Sit still and observe your being within the world around, allowing yourself this simple, righteous pleasure. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to learn.’ Go where your nature directs you and open your mind, taking it all in, taking with you what you will. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to feel.’ Allow your senses to succumb to the raw sensations of now, letting go of your attempt to make it anything else. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to progress.’ Know how it is you want to first, then aim and pursue, but willing to fail along the way. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to love.’ Do so, the ways you know, and the was you want to try, unafraid to be afraid, inhibitions met but also overcome. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to live.’ You are, and you must, right now, the ways that you want and along with the changes of those ways. You’re here and here you are able.

No more gimmicks, no need for external aid, be gone with the thought ‘with this there is more’; look within and you will find that you have all you will ever need.

With what you are, you are enough.

You’re here and here you are able.

A Western World

How did you come across the book?

Uhh… I like DeForge’s work… its by Michael DeForge. So, I liked his work anyway, and I kind of found it spontaneously when I was shopping. The colors of one of the covers of his books just like called me out, so then I bought this book and then I realized it was unlike any other kind of sequential art book that I’ve read. And so, then from there I’ve just been getting my hands on as much of his work as possible.

So far, what perspective have you gained from the book?

Well, its really cool because this came out I think… I think it came out like last month… its really new. And so, its his kind of zany, like almost absurdist art-take on real world issues that are happening right now. For instance, there’s a part of the book that kind of dabbles polyamory and like how society perceives it, and how people still feel like they have to kind of keep it a secret if they’re into those types of things… so, it just does that but in a more visual way, because its all drawn out, like a comic book but its focusing on real things, not just like superhero’s and stuff.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes, I would recommend this book, to anyone who actually doesn’t like to read but is interested in trying to get into reading, because, I really wasn’t a reader until this year and then I had a sort of strike of reading and I feel it was brought on because I originally found interest in these books. I’m an extremely visual person, but that comes with actual shapes and images and photos, and so words kind of just don’t hold my attention, but ever since I started reading his work, and me being able to relate it to real world stuff, even though it is a comic book style and its drawn, its gotten me to read more and more things because now I’m just into the idea of that narrative. So, it was almost like an introductory… it got me as an adult back into reading when I haven’t for years.

This Place Is Empty

The day was hazy as many before have been, and many beyond this I’m sure will be. I’m in a different place, and even here my life, this moment, feels the same; hazy.

The air is hot, no wind to cool the skin, not fresh enough to enjoy, nor to be active in, for its contents are as unnatural as the loneliness I find myself clutched by.

This place is empty. Not that others aren’t, just this one seems to fit the feeling. This day the same.

In the back seat of a taxi, driven by a man I only know a little of his language to communicate with, the conversation over before it had begun, we head North East towards something I want to see since I find myself close by.

I plan to spend the afternoon, most the day even, to explore this area, to witness its history first hand. I’m excited, sure, but I am also alone on this trip and I can’t seem to shake that awareness, much less the feeling I am attempting to describe.

Maybe it would be different if this had been my first extended time alone, but for reasons I am unaware of I have become quite familiar with this kind of loneliness. Again, I don’t know why. That’s just how it has worked out up to now.

Whether here or somewhere else I have traveled, somewhere else I have lived, I have often experienced deep feelings of isolation, deeper moments the same.

I have found I am able to go many places, be many places, live many places, alone, and yeah there’s some good in that, but there are moments when I battle with anxiety of being there by myself, with no one to help if needed, no one to experience it with.

These feelings have haunted the journey as well.

As irrational as this sounds, this can be felt deep within the explorations of a foreign country, or even down the street at a familiar coffee shop within my own hometown. It’s limits know no bounds. It’s creativity either.

It’s not that I am scared. It’s more that I am aware, overly aware maybe, of this feeling of empty, of alone. Aware to the point where it is sometimes hard to notice anything else. This isn’t always the case, but it still hurts at moments.

I’ve felt this in some of the worlds largest cities surrounded by a thriving populous.

I’ve felt this in the middle of a starry high-desert evening sitting alone reclined in the front seat of a rented truck.

I’ve felt this crosslegged on many coasts, staring out into the blue abyss of both ocean and sky.

I’ve felt this intwined within a shared embrace.

I’ve felt this almost everywhere.

Not all the time, but almost everywhere.

And I feel this now as I write about it, or else I wouldn’t be able to. This isn’t something you can conceive out of nothing. It’s describe very much so depends upon a well to pull from, no matter how empty it feels.

However, I hope none of you take my writing as a cry, but rather an attempt to add to our species collective desire and strive for a relatable human condition.

Notice, I didn’t say for an understanding of our human condition. I believe many people do not necessarily care for the answers to our questioning of why, nor do I believe they would benefit from them either.

Why us? Why here? Why now? Why all of this?

Forget that.

We fool ourselves with such romantic questioning at times, thinking that their answering will provide comfort. Well, we’d still be here even after their finding.

No, I believe many would benefit more from the understanding of our shared and relatable existence. Not why we are here, but rather a collective effort to help and to understand while we are here.

It doesn’t make sense to worry about things which we cannot control, things we cannot see. It makes much more sense to care for those that we can, those we are able to touch; each other, our world, ourselves.

This place is empty though, and at moments its able to make you feel the same. Again, as irrational as this sounds, I can be anywhere and this feeling of empty can overcome me, in many ways even.

Empty of mind, of conversation.

Empty of feeling, of sensation.

Sometimes of the very breath which by nature fills.

Sometimes I can’t feel it and it scares me.

I sometimes feel as though there is nothing there at all. Nothing but an empty container we find ourselves roaming about within the confines of its elaborate ruse.

I’ll stop there with the existentialism. That’s too easy. Too shallow. Too predictable. I don’t want this piece to run off the rails. I want it to lead somewhere. I want it to mean something.

I read a book recently.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging‘ by Sebastian Junger.

It talks openly and bluntly about these feelings of empty, of lonely, of isolation. I’m glad I finally decided to pick up and to give it a read. It helped me understand these feelings deeper. It made me realize I’m at least not alone with them.

Read it if you’ve ever felt this way.

Read it even if you haven’t.

It might help you understand the struggles of another in this light.

It made me understand more of my own. It made me understand better those of other’s. I’ll read it again one day because I’m sure I’ll have to. I’m sure I’ll want to the same.

Anyways, there is a story shared amongst countless others within its pages that resonated with me at the time of my writing of this piece. It could have easily been another, but at that moment it was this one which really filled the gap. I won’t go into too much detail about it because I feel its words alone are enough. However, its setting is war, but its meaning translates to any degree of life you may be experiencing, at this time or at any other:

“I missed being that close to people, I missed being loved in that way,” she told me.

“In Bosnia—as it is now—we don’t trust each other anymore; we became really bad people. We didn’t learn the lesson of the war, which is how important it is to share everything you have with human beings close to you. The best way to explain it is that the war makes you an animal. We were animals. It’s insane—but that’s the basic human instinct, to help another human being who is sitting or standing or lying close to you.”

I asked Ahmetašević if people had ultimately been happier during the war. “We were the happiest,” Ahmetašević said. Then she added: “And we laughed more.”

And that’s what I am trying to get at. I’m not blaming my feelings of alone, of empty, of isolation on anyone other than myself, ourselves; your’s too. Collectively we all can do better. Collectively we all are designed to do better.

To help one another.

To talk to one another.

To listen to one another.

To acknowledge one another.

Simply, to be there for one another during our time within this labyrinth named life, because it’s really the only thing that makes any damn sense anyways. The only thing that really leads anywhere. The only thing that really means something.

What else are you going to do?

Sit and ponder the heavens, and waste every second we’re allotted, instead of embracing and engaging with the place, the moment, the people of which also we ourselves are embedded? Of which we ourselves come from? Of which we ourselves will one day soon leave?

Yeah, this place feels empty sometimes, and I do too, and I’m sure you reading this can relate, but that emptiness, it falls on myself, ourselves.

The day was hazy, but I chose to ignore that. I had felt empty, but I decided to fill that with life, which was all around. I met a stranger, who shortly thereafter became a friend, even if only for the day. We experienced the place together, and we both felt better for having done so.

That’s Life

It’s been about a year, a little over a year now, since I moved away from the city I have always been pulled to, even as a little kid. The one I learned to love for what it is, not for what I attempted to make it to be, for the attempt to do so would prove useless. It did and I learned and I loved it more for it.

Remaining the romantic I tend to be, for the attempt to be otherwise would prove useless as well, a classical array of Frank Sinatra numbers have always, and I believe will continue to, keep me current with the city’s lasting allure, even in my current absence. For me, no other artists have truly captured this. No other songs have ever embodied it, though I will admit there are a few honorable mentions, but who really wants to be caught on that list? This piece is about more than music though.

Though at the moment I am away from the city, I never fully left, as is true for any great romantic relationship. Much like the loving and romancing of a great woman, you’ve spent time exploring her, only to find as your knowledge of her grows so does your appreciation of her, and fortunately so does your awareness of your ignorance of her vastness which still remains. There’s still more to find.

And, not only that, but you’ve experienced with her. This life, her emotions and yours. This life, its highs and its lows and everything in between. Apart from her or entangled with, you can’t remove what has already happened, and nor should you try.

In many ways I am still there, and for the enduring and strengthening few with time, I will always remain.

But over this time many things have changed. It’s remarkable when you do take the time to reflect on the passing of another year how many things do. Some we have been aware of, but for many we only realize upon looking back.

Many say looking back is wrong. I’ve never believed this, but I have realized how heavy it can be.

That heaviness though I have always enjoyed.

I’ve never been one to believe life needs to be happy all the time. I’ve never been one to want that for myself either, though I have caught myself deep in the trap trying to make it that way. I don’t think I’d like it if it always was. I don’t believe many do trying to make it that way.

Sometimes I want the unhappy, the sad, the crazy and the impossible, the yearning, the past, the pain. It reminds me of what has happened, and it makes me appreciate every part of it more; the happy and the sad, and everything in between.

Sometimes isn’t right. Usually I find I want it more. It makes sense if you think about it. Maybe I’m wrong. But, it tends to make me feel everything more and I don’t want to be numb all the time attempting to ignore that.

Anyways, I sit here now, thousands of miles away from that city, in another one, another big one even, but its not quite the same.

Things feel different. I feel different. Not that this is wrong or bad, just different. Like anywhere else, somedays are good and somedays are bad, and some are somewhere in between.

I watched a video earlier today, one I had made the day I left a little over a year ago now, and it made me feel that way again. I know I’m not the only one that city uses. Countless eyes had seen it before me, and countless others will after me. Countless lives have enjoyed her before me, and countless others have and will after me.

But, nonetheless, I felt captured, and there, though only for a moment in the grand scheme of it all, captured felt right. Everybody wants freedom. I’d take, even if only a little, that kind of captured again. This piece is about more than just a city though.

Still sitting here now, writing this, it hits me how much truly has changed. People, places, thoughts, wants, truths, and so on.

It’s easy to think everything remains the same. It’s hard to notice the changes. Most aren’t big enough to wake you up at night. No, most are subtle. But, once noticed, their acknowledgment proves to be impactful.

Around this time last year I was leaving somewhere. This somewhere now I am thinking of leaving again. Those I guess you could call examples of the big ones. All the things that have happened in between these two points though, I wouldn’t say they add up. No, when you think about it, things just sort of happen.

Some add. Some take away. Many just happen. Many just slip on by. It’s up to me to notice what I will. It’s up to you the same.

I miss that feeling, but I wonder how many feelings I have missed since then, ones I would have appreciated if I had only noticed them then, if only I had not been caught up with just the one.

Though I can’t live them again, though I cannot go back and really feel them, I notice them now, at least I am trying, and at this now that trying is enough.

But that’s life. You notice what you notice. Who knows exactly why?

Days come and so do nights, and then they go and maybe another one comes around. It’s easy to think another one will, but things change, you never know. And if another does come around, its easy to think it the same as the last.

Again, its hard to notice the changes.

Blame ignorance.

Ignorance towards thinking things will never change, or ignorance blinding you from noticing what has.

I’ve missed many moments thinking things were the same, or at least thinking they hadn’t changed. I don’t want to miss anymore fighting this alone. There’s really nothing to fight anyways. You’re making it up. You think there is, but there isn’t.

There’s only change. Don’t take that on. You’ll lose.

Yeah, sure, I miss that feeling and I miss that city, and I probably always will, but constantly chasing the highs it evoked, or believing the lows it did as well to be only unique to its confines, both of these are wrong. It’s highs were high and its low were damn low, but most of my time there was spent somewhere in between, and most of that time I let slip away, unnoticed.

Again, its up to me for me, and its up to you for you the same, to notice what you will. I’ll still acknowledge the highs and I’ll still endure the lows, but moving on I simply want to notice more of the in between.

Because that’s life. Most of it happens somewhere in between.

We tend to avoid or pursue the highs and the lows.

Invite them, welcome them, sure, of course, but don’t hold on to them. They don’t last. They fade quickly. Feel them when they are around, but let them go.

Again, most of life is found in between. Try to notice the life in that. Don’t become numb to it. Become very much attuned with it.

Life is largely about realizations and we all feel more alive in the moments of our deepest ones.

Or maybe in the moments of our most simple ones.

We’re too blinded during the highs, too emotional during the lows to have these. Most happen after. After some time has passed. After we have gained sight again. After our emotions have leveled off. Most happen somewhere in between.

Most happen in the quiet. Quiet can be good. I’ll try to write on that sometime. That’s enough for now.

Most of all of this happens somewhere in between though. That’s the main idea here.

Right now you’re probably somewhere in there. I know I am.

Don’t let it slip away chasing the next high or avoiding the next low. Those you will meet again. Don’t worry. Don’t be scared. Those will happen again, because that’s life. But, there is so much more in between, and that is usually where we tend to be.

The Bible

How did you come across the book?

Someone handed it to me in charity. They gave me it.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

The first book I read in The Bible is Jobe. It’s the trials he goes through. I see it as sort of my trials in my life for myself. It’s just where I am right now. I’m homeless and I’m just going with God trying to figure it out.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I’d only recommend it if you had a Bible to give somebody. It’s better than money. That’s it.

The Situation and the Story

How did you come across the book?

… I have no idea! I don’t remember. Probably… graduate school? I may of come across it… oh, you know what… OK… I remember, sorry! This was recommended to me by Rob Spillman who’s one of the editors at Tin House News, also a sometimes professor at Columbia University in the writing program.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Ooh! Um… I feel like I have to pull my notes out! One of the biggest takeaways for me, because this is a book about essay and memoir, its about personal narrative, and one of the biggest takeaways for me is that an essay is exploring a topic through the lens of the narrator’s persona, whereas a memoir is exploring the narrator’s persona through different topics outside the narrator. And so, that really gave me a lot of perspective on my own writing and in ways that I could kind of come at the self obliquely through other topics.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would recommend it to somebody who is probably a later writing student, or an experienced writer. The first time I read it, it went over my head a little bit, and so, I’m not sure that it would be helpful for many people, but, there is a great reading list kind of worked into it because she goes through all of these different examples of essays and memoir and personal narrative in the book. But, I’d probably save it for somebody who’s stuck on their current writing project.