Author Archives: kshak

Weather is the new Politics

Talking about the weather these days should be great. It can rain, sleet, hail, freeze, burn, hurricane, tsunami, mudslide, brush fire, and avalanche 365 days a year. The possibilities are endless. But have you tried talking to someone lately about the weather? It used to be the one universal way to start a conversation or share common ground with a complete stranger. Now it’s at the capacity of drawing a line in the sand and standing a post.

Depending on who you talk to it can go one of two terrible ways. The first can result in death, the other, wishing you were dead. Between Katrina, Sandy, the California fires, and whatever happens to people in the Midwest, someone either knows a person who lost everything or lost everything themselves. It’s a sore subject these days and even the slightest mention of a nearby storm cloud could mean sudden death. Now if you can bypass the doomsayers, you’ll soon find the next person.

I’m not sure when knowledge of the weather became a status symbol. I know status symbols started young with who had the nicest toys to nicest bike, sneakers, car, better college, job and then somewhere between what country you adopted your child from to the most underground restaurant you ate at, fell acute attention to weather patterns. We now found away to argue over one of the last universal truths. It’s not snowing anymore, it’s a blizzard. It’s not sleet, but freezing rain. And who the hell even wants to venture as to what a “wintery mix” means anymore? I recently had the following conversation.

“Hey Bob, you hear about this storm on Saturday?” I said.

With a stern look of disappointment and bewilderment he said, “Friday. Friday night. Starting at 12PM, be done by 4AM. Four, four and a half inches. Where do you get your weather from?

“Um, the news,” I said puzzled and apologetic, “where do you get your news from?”

“Psh, not them,” he mentioned.

It was obvious my weather source was sub-par to the team of experts this man speaks to daily. I’m mostly amazed by the conviction people have for the weather and their sources. In any great debate you’re only as accurate as the information you obtain and the weather is no different. CBS outranks NBC, ABC outranks both of them, Weather Channel sits in a weird lame-duck position, no one watches FOX, and everyone has a better weather app on their phone than the next person. It’s not enough to deface people who will one day run this country, but we’re now tearing down the likes of Al Roker, Bill Evans and a man they call, Mr. G. We are now in the age of partisan weather.

 So before you start talking Snowpocalypse 2013, I suggest you choose a party, believe their positions on Hot/Cold fronts, and weather the storm. 


My Favorite Thing About Being Single

I was thinking the other night; thinking about being single. I immediately thought of my coworkers. The female 20-somethings whose tales of dating woes could fill volumes. There is one in particular; that girl in the office who for whatever reason keeps everyone updated on the extreme pitfalls of her personal life. A self-proclaimed maniacal slave to the dating life, she is by far the craziest of the bunch. However as I thought about my own decisions in this fair-weather game of Love & Hate, I found that my coworker’s jaded mental state is genuinely no fault of her own.

For being single warrants at least one upside (and it happens to be my most favorite): A defensible right to be completely and utterly BATSHIT FUCKING INSANE CRAZY. Because as Singles we are without reason. There is no logical explanation for our actions: the stern attention to our iMessages being read, acute knowledge of our lover’s Facebook history, the impulse to get blackout drunk and sleep with the first person we see because we didn’t receive a call or text before 6PM (and then 8PM, 10…12:30AM). The unequivocal hatred we have for those who couldn’t see the “real us” in the minutes before happy hour went a rye and our attitudes towards couples, at least the real happy type, with their PDA bullshit and promise of disease-free sex. It’s irrational thoughts such as these that motivate our fairly innocent atypical actions, often misconstrued as psychotic delusions and hysteria. But we didn’t get here alone.

Consistently forsaken by the ones who stole our hearts, we have no other option but to retreat to our inner sanctum stockpiled with booze, narcotics and some movie starring Morgan Freeman. It’s in these times of crisis our brain subconsciously projects a safer perception of reality making it easier to cope. For instance, waiting at a bar alone, two hours and six drinks later, simply means the other person is a super hero. Of course they would have been on time, if only they didn’t have to rescue a baby while helping an elderly person fend off an attacker en-route to stealing the world’s supply of Sriracha. Why is it so hard for some to comprehend that the reason they didn’t call the next day was because they were obviously at the hospital visiting their dying (pick one or all of the following): great-great grandmother/father, great grandmother/father, grandmother/grandfather, aunt/uncle twice removed, aunt/uncle, brother/sister of father’s second wife’s ex-brother-in-law? And only do the people we date have the most absolutely gorgeous “cousins” in their Facebook pictures. It only make us look better. It’s perfectly OK they have no clothes on, because they’re just cousins. All the reasons why we lash out in anger and humility when things go horribly wrong in what otherwise was a perfect relationship…for like two days. These are the thoughts of irrational people, and rightly deserved and celebrated by them as well.

I often try to think about how rational people might view the same situations. A rational person interprets what we see as betrayal as an honest dismissal of feelings; a polite exit from one experience to the next. To them no one has time to hash out a diabolical plan to upstage us in public and further diminish our self-esteem. For it seems that saying those three divine words to someone grants you a waking moment of clarity and the pride to tell Singles they’re wrong.

I’ve been in relationships before; I’ve been a rational person. Though I fear that as time progresses in this gulag of cruel intentions, I will succumb to my innermost, darkest desires to rage uncontrollably into the night. It is the very definition of insane to continue this course of action until we find someone and therefore further bestows upon us the right to lose our minds. It is, however, one I’ve greeted with open arms of embrace. For I want to wear this badge of honor proudly (just not on my genitals) when i I’m called upon, and become a beacon of hope for all those still in the muck.


Battlefield: Accounts of a Recent Night Out in NYC

Rain plummeted from the sky that night in the most miserable of places we have lived to see. We didn’t quite know why we were there, only that this was our duty. There were only two of us left. The remains of a convoy ransacked and left for dead. I found it hard to believe that at this point what we were doing was right and afraid that following the next command would mean certain death for both of us. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that if I can complete this one last mission I may have a chance to escape this life. Except you cant think like that, not at a time like this. Any loss of concentration could mean your life or the lives of others. It was time to get my wits about me. This was happening.

The coordinates didn’t lie, even after we computed the destination twice. I think we both didn’t want to believe what lied ahead for us. The rain was getting heavier now, making it hard to see but a few paces in front of me. It was useless to try and wipe the droplets away from my brows as the last brinks of peace poured down our faces. I felt a hand on my right shoulder and looked in that direction. I could barely make him out, but I knew it was my comrade next to me. His mouth was moving, but all I could hear was the sound of rain and the voices of loved ones who pleaded and begged for me not to leave what felt like years before this day. I tried to focus my eyes on what he was saying but all I saw was a mouth moving, telling me what I thought was, “Go home, get out of here.” Suddenly, lightening blinded me and thunder slammed into the back of my skull. In an instant I awoke. I must have misinterpreted the words, because what I then heard amidst the terror in the sky was, “Are you ready? This is it! This is why we’re here!” I subconsciously nodded my head that I would follow.

We moved on the position quickly, but cautiously. There were civilians everywhere and through the heavy rain you couldn’t tell who was with you or against you. Maybe they were all against us and we should just waste everyone. My heart began to pound the closer we got to the compound and I could feel my socks wring water out into my shoes as we inched closer to the main gates. Posted up outside we were forced to make a difficult situation of whether we should take it straight to them, up the gut of the front entrance, or try to find another way in. Then I heard a ringing in my ear. I thought to myself that the pulse of thunder may have damaged something and maybe it wasn’t rain, but blood that I was feeling drip down the side of my face. Shaking from panic, I lifted my hand to my head but instantly became distracted when I saw my comrade pull a phone from his field bag. “Who was it?” I thought to myself. “Who the hell could it be!” I waited, teeth clenched so tightly I began to taste the enamel as it chipped off my teeth. It seemed to take the entire duration of my life up to this point for someone to utter something and then I heard, “Hello.” “That’s all?” I thought to myself. I’ve waited my whole life for a, “hello?” I tried desperately to jump for the phone and would have ripped this man apart to find out who was on the other line, but I couldn’t move. My feet were cemented to the ground, frozen in fear. I lost almost all feeling and not from the cold or the rain, but because my mind and body had projected itself elsewhere. The fear of the unknown caused everything I once knew well and good to leave so swiftly. If I just got up and rod this place of, what would keep the others from staying? Before I totally lost a grip on things I heard a voice calling out from beyond the sound field of rain drops smacking on the concrete. “Don’t worry we’ll be there,” is what I thought I heard muffled behind the sounds of God’s holy wrath being unleashed upon us sinners. A wave of the hand and I was corralled to the right, around the building. The voice on the other side of the phone was the man-inside giving us the green light. There was a breach in the side wall where we could enter and he would be there waiting for us. What lied next I could have never conjured up in a million nightmares.

It was an ambush – low ceiling and bogies everywhere. Our vision remained distorted, but this time not from the rain or sweat, but from the fog that lay perfectly in front of us. All I could see were feet and faces as I tried to duck out of view. We huddled for a moment and tried to survey the situation. Each of us were discombobulated, left without a clue of what our first move would be. We could see the epicenter from here, just yards from our ultimate goal and finally accomplishing our mission. “Duck,” was all I heard before I hit the floor. Fragments of shrapnel nearly missed my head by a few inches. I looked around and we were still together, but haven’t moved an inch. We couldn’t stay in this position for long. We decided our only chance was to take it right to them, straight through the gut. We fell into an “I formation” and proceeded to make our way. I held up the rear, my comrade in arms in front of me and our guide taking the point. We crept in low and tried to keep our motions and vibrations silent from our enemies. It wouldn’t be hard to do in this atmosphere. Bombs violently rocking the floor sent vibrations through my whole body and I couldn’t hear anything, but my heart still pound through my chest, reminding I was still alive. We pushed and battled our way through the turbulent and violent crowd. I did my best to maintain my footing and ground on the others, but these were no ordinary people. They leaped around like savages, clothes shredded everywhere, drooling salaciously as they searched for their next victim. You could see them breathing heavily, their eyes mad with desire. Bodily fluids and liquid matter were flung everywhere and the ceiling was just as wet as the floor. They didn’t seem to care, but reveled in this paradise they built for themselves, and they would give it up to no one. With each booming explosion they became more and more restless. Before long there would be nothing we could do to combat them, we were slowly being overrun. As I watched, horrified by what I saw, I was suddenly pulled up to the front of the pack. “Stay on my side!” I was told not to break formation for we were making our last push on the compound. This was it, our Bull Run. I saw American flags waving in my head, the bombs, the trumpets, a fallen soldier overrun by Indians on a desperate plain. I couldn’t bear to see the calamity that awaited us so I bore my head down and swung my left arm wildly into the crowd. If I connected with anything, I pushed it to the side and out of my way. I figured if and when I opened my eyes I would either be standing heroically atop the bodies we’d left in our wake or pleading in front of the pearly gates. I felt something in front of me and for the first time I could hear the noise settling behind and not in front of me. “It’s safe now,” I heard. This didn’t come from the people in my party, but a woman who stood before me. It took a moment to realize it wasn’t an angel and I wasn’t in heaven, or hell. She might not have been an angel from heaven, but she was a heavenly angel to me. She promised me it was going to alright from here.

I took a somber pause…then ordered a beer, and a shot of Jack.


A Look Through the Rabbit Hole

Have you ever wondered what is “real” and what isn’t? As I wander through this life, I’m often greeted by the notion of whether the people, places and things I encounter are real or not. Is there a meaning to all of It or is It all a charade cast over our eyes to shade us from what is “real.”

In the story, Alice falls through a hole and into a world of make-believe. Or is it the other way around? Maybe the story isn’t about Alice at all. But through Alice we get our first glimpse of the real world. Maybe it’s through Alice’s eyes when we finally see everything for what It is.

At the purest moments of actualization we often see the world as turned on its head. Objects become creatures and creatures take on magnificent forms that rustle the imagination. We all have friends who in tandem communicate with us through distorted dialects of rhymes we can barely make sense of; and friends so hopped up on energy we can barely keep up with them. We often encounter sly and beguiling characters who test our wits and make us decide between the road less traveled and the road traveled less than the other. A group of some who at first appear mad, but whom we enlist as our mentors because we realize they will bring us closer to the truth than we could have ever imagined. And those who wear many hats…

We all “wear many hats” so to speak. Enough hats to the point it breaks our own sanity at times. So why is it peculiar when we think of someone embracing It? Do we fear this truth in the “real” world? That we are actually mad like the hatter? Alice wasn’t afraid. Possibly because it was at the point when Alice met the hatter, when the world suddenly became clear.

Of course there was the age-old battle of good vs. evil, or vice-versa. But this time the struggle over right and wrong, or white and red, was so closely attached to one another, it seemed almost fraternal. It bared in mind that we are not so much good, as we are not so much bad. It lifted the shade over Alice’s eyes to not only see the true order of the world, but to finally gaze within herself to see the true order of who she really was. As suggested in the tale, maybe there’s no “real” order at all.

Through the rabbit hole, Alice might not have necessarily fallen “out” of anything, but “into” everything. The rabbit hole was not so much an escape or exit from the “real” world, but a welcoming or entrance into the real.

There is nothing to fear here. After all, Alice wasn’t afraid. And it was just a story, wasn’t it?



Suicide – Who Has the Time?

Dedicated to George Carlin

The late, great George Carlin once did a bit on suicide.

Forgive me to anyone who reads this and might have lost someone to such a tragedy, I mean absolutely nothing by it. Hope this suffices as a disclaimer.

The punchline in George’s theatrical display of mortality was, “where do people find the time?!” We all have “shit to do” as he puts it, so where does someone find enough time to kill themselves? Granted the skit was only done three or four years ago, with social media well on its way to the growing heights of its popularity, but what would we say now? With Facebook, Twitter and every other social application we rely on to say the same exact thing in 90 different forms to one another, it makes me think how hard taking your life might be. You really have a lot of shit to think about now. I imagine a conversation going something like this.

Ring, ring, ring….

Me: What’s up man?
Friend: Shit, chillen, you?

Me: Same. What’s going on?
Friend: Nothing. I’m going to kill myself.

Me: Really?
Friend: Yea. I thought about it and I’m gonna do it this time.

Me: Damn man, that sucks.
Friend: Yea, I guess.

Me: Well, are you gonna call anyone after me?
Friend: I dunno, why?

Me: Because I really don’t wanna be the last person you speak to. I don’t think I could handle the responsibility.
Friend: Um…

Me: Yea, then there’s gonna be weirdness between me and your family. Everyone’s gonna stare at me during the funeral and talk about me, like, “That’s the kid. He knows.” Just awkward, you know?
Friend: I guess your right. I’ll probably call someone after you.

Me: Can you call a few people? The cops are probably gonna wanna talk to the last few people you spoke with.
Friend: WTF? Sure, if that’s what you’re worried about.

Me: Thanks man, I appreciate it. So you’ve thought this through?
Friend: Yea, fuck it, I’m doing it.

Me: Hmmm…Are you gonna tweet it?
Friend: Do you think I should?

Me: Yea, you gotta right? I mean what the hell, there’s 200 people following you that deserve to know. They’ve put their time in too.
Friend: Shit, fine. I don’t know what to write though. I mean, I have a note, but I can’t shrink that to 140 characters.

Me: Make it short and to the point. No one reads past the first line anyway. You should probably make it memorable though.
Friend: Jesus Christ, I’m gonna have to think about this some more.

Me: And are you gonna hashtag it?
Friend: Hashtag? Really!?

Me: Yea man. This is a pretty monumental thing you’re doing, it deserves a hashtag.
Friend: Fuck! Now I gotta think of that too. I never hashtag.

Me: Well you’re gonna be a hashtagging motherfucker now. You should probably do some research and make sure no one is trending it too. You want this for yourself.
Friend: Uggggh, great. Can you do it?

Me: Na man. I don’t wanna be involved.
Friend: How’s #fuckyoupeople

Me: Might make the news.
Friend: Hmm, I was kinda hoping to at least make the local channels. I’ll think about it.

Me: And Facebook. What’s your last status gonna be?
Friend: Goddammit Facebook!!! Always something with this thing.

Me: Yea, fucking hate Facebook, but you gotta do it.
Friend: Any ideas?

Me: Well you don’t wanna do something morbid or depressing. No one likes reading those and you probably won’t get any comments on it. Funny is probably out at this point, not sure people are gonna get it.
Friend: True, I’ll probably go with something witty and suspenseful, keep em hanging on the edge.

Me: Love the use of metaphors man! Now you’re thinking. You gonna tag any of your ex’s in it? Because that shit would be funny. Let them deal with that!
Friend: Well I always thought that bitch that gave me herpes deserved something, maybe this is it.

Me: Hahaha yea, I don’t know what you were thinking about with her. What ever happened to her anyway?
Friend: I don’t know, she supposedly went to school and…wait! You’re supposed to be helping me out here.

Me: Right, right, didn’t mean to get off topic.
Friend: Should this status be long or short?

Me: I’d keep it relatively short. Two lines max, no ones got the time to listen to more than that.
Friend: Christ, alright. I’ll add it to the list.

Me: You gonna check-in before you do it?
Friend: Check-in?

Me: Yea, Foursquare it. You’re gonna check-in, right?
Friend: I didn’t even think about it. Didn’t seem to make much sense.

Me: It makes total sense. What if you get a badge for it or something? You’re close to the next superuser and this could be the big one.
Friend: True, I always wanted that one too. They stopped counting the check-ins at the 7-11.

Me: Of course, you’re already the super mayor. What else do you want from them?
Friend: Shit man, I was gonna do it at home though.

Me: Well is you’re house an option?
Friend: I don’t know, let me check…..No.

Me: Then you gotta create one.
Friend: Fuck! That shit takes forever and I don’t know what the cross street would be, I live in a damn coldesac!

Me: Yea, it’s mad complicated. You’re gonna have to though, it’s only fair to everyone.
Friend: WTF? I’m gonna be dead!

Me: Stop being so selfish man! You can’t be thinking about yourself at a time like this. Think about me and all the other people that took the time to friend you and showed you all the mind-numbing locations we were at. Do you think I like telling you I’m at the You Have a Friend AA Meeting at the First Baptist Church weekday evenings? No. I do it because I have to.
Friend: Do I write in a comment about it?

Me: That’s gonna take some thought. You gotta figure out if you’re gonna share it on Twitter and Facebook. With the other posts, an improper integration could throw off your whole communication plan.
Friend: Holy shit this complicated! There’s a comm plan to all of this?

Me: Always man. Always.
Friend: Well I don’t want to spoil it or take away any credibility from the others. Fuck! I’m so confused.

Me: Anything worth doing is worth doing right. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
Friend: Goddammit. So what are you up to tonight?

Me: Going to happy hour with a few people then out. You wanna come?
Friend: Yea. Fuck this shit man, I give up.


What is Life?

Life has been called many things and defined in an infinite amount of ways. There are many interpretations of life – what it is, what it’s not, what it’s suppose to be – the meaning. Most of us want to know the answer to all of these. For they are all equally important in our search for the meaning to why we are here. However maybe it isn’t as simple as one or two answers or maybe it is. The other day I came up with my own interpretation of life. I was a little taken back by my thoughts, but as dismal as they seem, I believe they contain a great deal of hope. Because in the end, life truly is what you make it.

Life is merely something which exceeds our expectations or doesn’t. It’s something, like anything. A thing we are apart of, but not defined by. It’s a thing, I think, or maybe it’s not actually. Just this moment as I sit here on the bus, I realize that in order to be a thing, we must be able to grasp it. And life is anything but. We call a lot of things, things, but are they really? Life can’t be grasped due to shear magnitude and obscurity. It surely is something in the literal terminology, but not a thing at all.

I now believe life is an unattainable _____ (I guess that’s the best descriptor I have right now). If you pay attention you can feel life in small increments. Times of happiness, sadness and all the other emotions we are programmed for. Life is too vast and powerful to feel all at once or at least with any normal state of mind. It truly is a state which transcends the then, now and future. However out in all of this, it is still a ‘whatever it is’ which either exceeds your expectations or doesn’t.

As we go on we are confronted with objects, people, places, emotions and experiences which also do this. In any case, if you’re paying attention, you will realize, learn and cherish (sometimes whether you’d like to or not). The important thing is we move on. Such is or should be with life.

Life is not meant to dwell on, but to be lived in constant rotation with ‘whatever it is’. There is no great mystery to it, meaning or worth. It simply is what it is. Moments full of objects, people, places, emotions, and experiences. The meaning to define, if any, is our very own meaning. To define ourselves and who we are within the context of life. Maybe for no reason at all, but it definitely seems more attainable than the ladder. What you will find yourself doing is defining the meaning within the meaning. Superseding what appears to be important to everyone else and examining what is there for you.

Maybe if we can begin to open our eyes and see the personal paths set out for us by the objects, people, places, emotions and experiences we encounter each day, we will follow an uncharted road lined with the street signs of our past and road signs guiding us to our futures. Or maybe we’ll just continue to fall down the hole.


Does Anyone Say Thank You Anymore?

Walking the streets and subways of New York City I cross the paths of millions of people each day. Each time, leaving one room or place for another, I am faced with the awkward, nerve-wracking confrontation of doorways, gateways and tunnels. Now I don’t know why these crossroads of traffic cause this rush of anxiety over me, but for those few short moments I’m lost as to what I should do. I’ve tried holding doors open in the past, only to have someone brush by under my arm or around me without saying, “thank you.” I’ve even done “the long pause and go.” This is where you hold the door open for as long as it takes you to make it through. This of course left me with the same sentiments, or lack there of. I know I should probably be more concerned with dodging traffic and homeless people on the outside. However it’s these small encounters I have with my fellow man, or woman, which makes me wonder.

Have we strayed so far apart from one another that we cannot even offer up a salutation of gratitude?

I’ve seen people go out of their way, increasing the length of their trip, just to avoid this very moment of confrontation. Is it the actual saying of the words, “thank you,” we fear? The obligation of offering up to a person nice enough to make sure the door doesn’t slam in your face (which has happened to me quite a few times), a simple phrase?

There are exceptions however. Women with baby carriages, old people (sometimes) and pregnant women. We see these people as being in a less than compromising situation which implies a nice gesture. But do we know what “the others” are going through? We simply see an able bodied person and think they are plenty capable of catching the door before it causes some type arterial damage. But what about the personal aspect I touched on earlier?

In a city inhabited by millions of people, not one of them wants to consider the other ten or twelve million. I don’t believe it’s because they don’t care, but simply because they do not want to engage with anyone else. We fear the simple statements and remarks. The awkwardness of having another person pass by you or possibly even touch you. Maybe it’s because no one wants to lose “the race.” Half the time we’re rushing to places we complain about being at anyway. Why not take an extra couple seconds to do something nice?

I guess this is just the direction we’re heading in. A nation of people racing past each other at speeds which makes it hard to consider the fact someone else exists. The rat race in all its glory. We’ve shed the layers of our humanity for the fur of vermin. No better than the ones walking the rails. Spinning the turnstiles without any care of who’s on either side. 

I mean the world stops for no one right? So why stop for anyone?

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