A long time ago, somebody told me that if you want somebody to care about what you have to say, tell them a story.
So follow along.
Get inside my head.
Yesterday, I left a job involving making calls for charities. I only lasted a few days.
I put utter tons of heart into just surviving that long.
The technical stuff with the cards and numbers.
The things you had to make sure to read at the right time.
The way to scan the intentions of the people in the office.
Just doing that requires 300% of me. So how was I supposed to level up from there, to coerce people consistently, with any charity with any name, to strike at just the right moment, to keep people from hanging up, day in and day out?
It really kind of worked for a while. I’m smart enough that I could mimic how people do it, at least in its least challenging form.
It’s just not in me to infuse coercion into what I do. I can react to others’ insanely strong emotional energy and adjust to it, counter it, bend it to my advantage.
But I can’t convert it into something else entirely. You’ll rarely see me pull anyone back from anything entirely once they’re convinced.
I guess I’m not a swindler.
Even when I can tell exactly what the hell is going in other people’s hearts.
Juggling the technical and emotional, while innovating how you do it, is up to other people not me.
That’s something I can only bear.
But I’m not giving up on my goal.
Not at all.
Let me try and market to you, entice you, convince you,
that I might be the most emotionally aware person you’ll ever meet.
Embrace that possibility.
You ever have trouble putting your finger on how annoying and aggravating somebody is, including you?
On how admirable and badass somebody is, including you?
How strange and confounding somebody’s actions are, including you?
Yeah, you do, hundreds of times a week.
You become speechless. You lose the words. You basically scream inside.
There’s just nothing you can do but try.
Even if that person is you.
There’s just something, really cool, really dumb, really sweet, really gross, about people, all people, with the exception of babies, maybe, and it makes you want to tear the universe apart, not even in anger, just to relieve the desire to achieve that articulation.
In this post I’m not gonna tell you how to put your finger on what you haven’t put your finger on.
The other posts have done that.
I’m just gonna name five situations that happened in quick succession.
They’re gonna give you that weird feeling you can’t describe. That positive feeling. That warm feeling. That obnoxious feeling. That shrewd feeling.
That which you can’t fucking put your finger on.
That which popular culture has failed to put its finger on.
That stuff you know other people have in them,
that makes them big hearted and big brained, and very hard to turn around.
That feeling that makes you feel really fucking human.
I’m going to try and inspire something that doesn’t come naturally….envy.
I want you to read these five little diaries and envy my ability
to understand the vibe of what was going on.
I want you to take that envy, if you feel it, and go back and read all the other posts about
“The Heart’s Three Infamous Positive Energy Directives.”
When I say my eyes feel extraordinarily clear, there’s far less doubt in me than anyone.
When I say I can describe human intensity well, I absolutely mean it far more than anyone.
When I say I’m worth listening to, I don’t feel cheeky or rude. Not at all. Not at all.
Take a look at these five situations.
And be honest, can you put your fingers on it?
Can you really describe it in just a few sentences?
Can you not resort to curse words?
Can you do what I claim to do?
Surpass me if you wish.
I know you want to, because you’re human.
Grown up people witness weird and frustrating and inspiring scenarios and absolutely wish to try and codify them.
You wish to invoke your inner strength by having a grip on thing.
You wish to un-fuck situations that are really and totally fucked.
You really do wish for that.
What makes me unique compared to most people is that I don’t grin with aggravated amusement
at people being hard to deal with.
Or rather, that I don’t blame anyone for lacking a way to get around
how frustrating everyone else is, how being human is.
Everyone tries a lot, way more than all popular culture says.
It’s like the theory of relativity.
Matter and energy.
Everyone puts way more brain and heart into trying to un-fuck the world
than people claim.
And I think deep down, you agree with that. You can feel it in your jaws, and how they almost clench.
When somebody is insufferable, there’s something fundamentally off in the very act of calling them insufferable.
The part of you that watches good movies and tries to get inside the heart of every hero, villain, innocent, and renegade
totally disagrees with the part of you that bemoans the will to change who YOU see as aggravating people, irritating cultures,and unfixable social systems.
If you want things to change, you need to get inside other people’s hearts. You need to feel how big they feel. And how they’re actually kind of justified.
People are problem solvers.
People fight the innocuous.
People reach towards discomfort.
People follow that radiance.
And you know it. They feel like you, somehow just different, and you know it.
They put a lot more work into being a person than the world can say, and you know it.
They get validated for those types of utterly exhausting and soul-hurting efforts you couldn’t even criticize and you know that.
That stuff is bound to the parts of you that nobody can fight, at least not more than indirectly.
But I’m gonna do the impossible: try and fight it directly.
Touch the untouchable, and change it just enough so that everything works out.
Five fingers on the heart of everything you love but can’t explain, everything you hate but can’t criticize, everything that stirs you unwillingly.
This is just one touch. If you wish to feel how I do, for more than an instant, you’re going to have to read the other posts about “The Heart’s Three Infamous Positive Energy Directives.”
It’s up to you whether or not this appeal makes sense.
Now, five rich points, may they tantalize you.
Now, let the sampling begin. This is the gaudy entrance.
As well as a modest finale.
Unless I feel like doing some more, of course.
Keep going, stranger.
Remember how I told you about the guy running the place? There was a point at which he was teaching me those “rebuttals” that are meant to keep someone from hanging up, to sort of benevolently trick them into not hanging up, into giving less money, into succumbing to your will.
This guy, he could see the frustration in my face. The apprehension on my mouth. How he knew it might not work, and how I was likely to come back saying “the techniques were wrong.”
But I told him “no matter how I perform, I’ll trust your advice was right.”
I could see him hesitate a bit. He really didn’t expect that.
With the difficulties I was having keeping up with the harder to market charities and all sorts of other stuff,
he didn’t expect me to actually believe in his own confidence. To do my best at making it work and not complain.
I really did make the exact changes he wanted, and it didn’t work, and I still didn’t hate him at all.
I did my best to defy the instincts that told me to lower my voice rather than raise it, for one.
I was losing power fast, motivation fast, composure fast.
But I could see it coming, and was ready to abandon ship,
without taking solace in his supposed incompetence.
Sure, maybe his advice could have been a lot more thorough.
But I don’t doubt the positive feedback people get from
complex human emotional effort.
That’s one thing nobody can demean.
Do you want to know more about what’s meant by that?
Well, you’re just going to have to read the season’s other posts.
I’ll summarize: the power to overcome and properly use the will of other people
is the true source of security in controversial actions.
I was on the mildly populated train platform waiting to home.
When a teenager on a small skateboard came by me for a bit.
It felt like nothing to me, he was just pausing. But he started to turn for a bit.
I was taking out my Gatorade from my backpack, I felt vulnerable.
Before I could even decide what the hell was happening, he utters “not worth it” and takes off…
skateboard to stairs.
Now, this is the point at which most people would ponder for days about what had transpired.
Of course, I can’t know either, but it’s clear to me.
I didn’t detect any malice or aggression coming from him.
He was probably doing some kind of community charity thing.
Like an event involving gathering based upon the local heritage, maybe?
Something relatively morally sound.
But what got me livid was the way he acted like he wasn’t approaching me, then approached me.
It’s almost always easy to tell when somebody is about to try and talk to you.
You just feel it.
But this guy, this easy going, gentle seeming dude, had some kind of well rehearsed scheme about how to get around the expectations of body language,
with that fucking skateboard
and that really pissed me off.
Could you not call that annoying? The epitome of irritating? Even moreso if he was doing it for a good cause like a community event.
And the way he said “not worth it” and took off.
Holy fuck, why would you do that?
Just to confirm you had the balls to make somebody uncomfortable?
Just to validate that you were going to take a risk?
Just for the sake of trying to put me down for seeming too disheveled to take part in some benevolent scheme?
Overall, though….I wasn’t really that pissed.
I could see from his perspective, he had a strong and steady heart.
Just like everybody else.
I could see, he was having a fit of awesomeness, to him at least.
I was glad I had something to make such a shitty little encounter less debilitating.
If you wish to know what I mean,
well, you’re just going to have to read the season’s other posts.
I’ll summarize: the most obnoxious things ever done
are the most daring and bold of all.
A few moments later, I was on the train. It shook for a bit not long after.
I was pushed forward. I hadn’t seen much of anything yet on the train.
A woman with a handsome sort of gaze glared at me, involuntarily, of course.
For a moment it really looked like I was gonna walk right through her.
I could tell she could tell I seemed aggressive, for a short moment.
Or maybe it was a familiar face. Who can really say?
Naturally, though, after the skateboard guy, I found the encounter to be comparatively pleasant and healing.
There was the dread of a possible confrontation.
There was the promise of a possible amicable exchange.
But, sort of staring, only, at each other, anticipating, perhaps, the other to do anything,
it gave me the types of vibes that remind me of better times,
or rather, the times you hope for,
where things get awkward before they get comfortable.
Perhaps it can be read as a rather gendered sort of thing,
with certain desires and biases making things more bizarre than they would be otherwise.
I tried to convey with body language I was not approaching anyone and I really was accidentally pushed forward a bit.
I kind of tried to freeze flexibly, like a good New Yorker.
Was it to try to be cool, or a good person? I guess you can’t really say.
But you can say when that stuff is definitely causing a kind of social friction.
The type of thing that an extrovert absolutely aches for like it’s some kind of healthy dessert.
The wishing for a quiet misadventure to turn into something more fun to wield.
I am proud to try and not make people uncomfortable, even when I am outgoing.
But, of course, if you aren’t passionate about that discomfort-creating power, it can be hard to win in this world.
And if you’re not, you still may wind up that way, which is where ideological types get their passion for doing weird things.f.
Those hours of aching to change the irritating stranger.
Personally, I view not trying too hard to call people out for their more innocuous forms of frustrating demeanor…to also be a virtue.
That is where introverts may cause even more calamity than their inverted foes, who really know how to turn strange situations in their favor.
If you wish to really know what’s meant by that,
well, you’re just going to have to read the season’s other posts.
I’ll summarize: When strange and awkward humans prioritize winning against their aggressors over being nothing like them,
things don’t progress that much.
I went to Sheepshead Bay, the actual bay, to get some fresh air.
After getting past the quarter mile of nonstop smokers, I got to the water.
I decided to go to the buffet and drown my pathos in unusual flavors, since eating huge amounts of food doesn’t do that much for me. (I do appreciate not having the heart of a binge eater though).
I got fried squid, garlic bread, a tiny piece of cake, and a bunch of other things in those categories.
I ate too much. I tried not to.
I, embarrassingly, heaved and hacked a little in the bathroom.
Fortunately, I kept the vast majority of the briny meat, the cheesy crisps, and the humble sweets on my overstuffed plate.
I had read a few signs about food waste before eating. That was another reason I tried to eat as much as I could. I wasn’t sure if they would charge me for waste, or get irate if I asked for a to go bag.
I loafed around for a bit, even after paying. I wanted to linger.
I had a good reason.
The employees felt like a confident squadron, each with their own territory, a place to guard.
I was not in any condition for objecting when told to leave.
They didn’t push me out. Naturally, they rather asked if I wanted dessert.
Of course, who buys dessert after already paying?
I had been told the place was closing soon before I ate, and I think I was a few minutes away from time, and I had guessed they wanted to clear me out in case I really was that eager to park my ass there.
Or, you know, ask for dessert, at a shitty time.
I can tell when people are hovering toward the brink of confrontation.
Work, real work, sans certain very specialized tasks, or those whose level of authority puts them amazingly beyond those burdens,
absolutely requires that brinksmanship.
It’s something I’ve recently learned to get better at handling.
But I’m not really good at shaping it.
You know, I really care about that whole vibe.
People near the brink. People given a task. People having to dive into the brouhaha of a stranger’s belligerence.
They’re kind of the polar opposite of “Karen”, those self-made sentinels in storefronts.
But in a way “Karen” isn’t entirely different.
It’s all about being the person who is a step ahead of aggravating situations.
And people really do come together to try and foster that sort of ability
in those they must ally with, or wish to have to have on their side.
To really get how that’s done, to not get carried away by that,
well, you’re just going to have to read the season’s other posts.
I’ll summarize: You need to be a benevolent trap to catches human trouble in its most steady and composed forms.
I waited a really long time for the bus. I had to resist going in the Roll-N-Roaster.
Because they have really nice bathrooms.
I had to whiz pretty bad.
So I got off early….or maybe I got off a stop earlier than I thought it was.
Either way, I was right by the McDonald’s on Nostrand Avenue.
It used to be really comfortable there, but now it’s kind of barren.
Almost like it was built with the old cafeteria style setup as its purpose.
Like the roof overhead never wanted to look like a café.
I’ve only eaten at McD’s about 4 times since 2005.
I quit them even before I slimmed down to a humbly average figure….from a fairly chubby figure.
Every time, it just tastes really……fake. Like food flavored food.
Way too jacked up with salt and fat for its own sake.
I figured I would try the ice cream as my bathroom ticket.
It couldn’t be that much worse than the stuff I got at Carvel a while back.
That got me nauseous, but it definitely wasn’t nasty as a McD’s bun, with its texture vaguely like cloth rather than grain.
I even lost my taste for Burger King, which sucks, since one popped up in Bolla Market near my house.
Food flavored food.
The McFlurry has M&M’s in it. It’s overkill, but it’s nice.
The ice cream had too much sugar, as expected.
But my bladder was empty.
I ate it in the relatively rainy weather.
It was a soothing, creamy, chilling to eat, despite my discontent with the parameters of the food itself.
I couldn’t eat it the way I eat Edy’s or Breyer’s with almonds or graham crackers in it, on my walk home.
But I was proud to enjoy the snack.
I was really tired when I got home.
And not entirely proud of myself.
I thought at the charity place, what if I had toughed it out at the worst level, when they sent me downstairs, to be guided along/whipped into shape by someone else?
I didn’t know what was in store, but I felt my everything kind of splitting apart.
I didn’t have the slightest urge to give people comeuppance.
I said something like “I’m doing my absolute best but I don’t think I can keep up with this kind of work”.
And just before I handed in the letter I had wrote respectfully declaring abdication,
to that respectful shape-whipper,
rather than the supervisor it was meant for,
she respectfully said
and stuff like that
on your way out.
I didn’t need to make the situation less shocking for her in the slightest.
It was certainly not embarrassing.
Just terrible in other ways.
Considering the unlikelihood of success at any level when it comes to getting people to donate to a cause you just heard about,
I really think it’s probably not left to people like me.
Who have to put far more work than most in juggling the will of humans.
I continue the struggle to find something that I enjoy, tolerate, excel at, and endure, for the sake of me.
To try and fit into the world more properly.
I went to bed too soon, my bladder hurt a bit in the morning.
And I was upset to see the McFlurry on the kitchen table.
I knew it would be ice cream soup by then.
But when I drank it, it felt more like a milkshake.
The melted M&M’s actually made something like a balanced flavor.
Like it really did taste kind of like pistachio,
like the creamy light green look actually was appropriate.
So I put it back in the freezer to make it colder.
It’s funny how when you make mistakes, things can improve.
But it’s also important to know that everybody has a passion for that.
Both by jumping headfirst into a job I wasn’t meant to last in, as well as by leaving gracefully,
I had changed the flavor of my life for a while.
I am proud of something I think is hard for people to achieve,
which I really do think I have at this point.
To really have a lot of self-control even when your heart is telling you
that you’re an insightful, capable rainbow blaster of a human,
really savoring how good the things you do are.
I know how to fight for that taste without becoming ravenous,
nor slapping the cone out of the hands of others trying to taste
When the ice cream stayed in the fridge, it became something like sorbet, but not fruity or anything.
I was not a fan of the texture. I was hoping it would revert to ice cream or remain like a milkshake.
But I still enjoying that it had become something else.
Most people put a lot of heart into appreciating even that which once was glorious becoming more modest.
Most people have a steady quality.
A reserved quality.
A composed quality.
A genuinely nice quality.
When you can detect that quality in them, and approve of that quality in them, is when they strangely become much more susceptible to being
hated by you, for the actions they take, for whom they seem to choose to be.
When you can sense they have that something that makes them actually pretty mature,
that’s when you feel that warm storm cloud of enlightened disgust for other people.
It’s my goal to try and keep that from causing hurricanes.
Don’t you get it by now?
That swirling angst, rich with confounding levels of flavor,
makes the world quite like a hurricane,
even when you don’t release the rain.
You become a flurry of emotional heat,
bound to make some trouble somewhere.
You’d love to see other people’s umbrellas break
inside the flurry of your heart.
But you don’t feel like a monster made of ice cream, do you?
You feel like a poorly handled, mashed up, but well preserved, fresh-tasting pile of food.
Very shaken up, but still delicious.
And you think you’re the one who can recognize apparently pleasant but truly trashy taste.
You really think you’re on the money….with that absolutely maddeningly thin line between great pal who knows how to chill, and vile freak who knows how to destroy.
You’re utterly hypnotized by how much work you put into
coming up with a way to see who’s just cool and who’s just a scumbag.
That’s the foundation of you.
People follow that deliciously earthy feeling in what they do,
that reminds them of pulling out leftovers.
Everyone is telling you you’re an asshole, you’re scum, you’re a creep.
Trying to fulfill your human desires creatively.
You feel like a person just trying to eat dinner with a little bit of spice.
Your actions and your stances are zesty as fuck.
And if somebody can’t breathe in your spice, then they’re just losers, right?
They’re just acting like kids who want mild food,
and you’re doing what it takes to make life interesting.
I wish you could see, this is how it is for pretty much everyone.
That sense of being so weirdly practical and mellow and accommodating,
when your human will is intolerably spicy.
If they call it trash, you fight back with the gumption of a novel’s protagonist.
And you feel there is no counter for you.
But do you want to know how to counter your very self?
Do you want to know the best way to bear how much other people feel
like spices secretly poured into your chill milkshake of a self?
To counter, control, and defeat that vibe in you as well as others,
well, you’re just going to have to read the season’s other posts.
And remember how positive energy based and utterly bright
a person feels when others accuse them of wretched, reckless darkness.
The world is plenty charitable and kind.
It just needs a different method of stirring.
To make the world as cool and smooth as can be,
you must appeal to the parts of people that really are.
You must overcome the reliance on insults
and replace it with an empathy for the hotness inside a ribcage
to finally grasp the brutal joy within one’s heart
before things get miserable in public.
That is your assignment, stranger.
Drink the hot sauce and sweat it out.
For the dream of social settings becoming as chill as they are
in books for toddlers.
EDIT: Have you seen Tatami Galaxy? It didn’t inspire this post, but it reminds me totally of how I sound here. And that’s encouraging as fuck. If you could make an anime like that all about retail workers figuring out exactly how to diffuse Karen-like behavior in other people and themselves, that would probably save the world.