Fear Factors: Fire on the Water

Thursday, August 29, 2013 | 1 Comment(s)

One of my life goals recently is attempting to rid my life of excess pointless fear.  You would be amazed by how many actions in our daily lives are subtly put in motion by fear.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, we may brush our teeth for fear of the potential future fall-out, literally, but I don't think many people would begrudge you your tooth brushing.  Also, this fear is based in some reasonable amount of scientific information.  For instance, if you eat tons of candy and don't brush, your teeth will rot out of your face.  That's science.

Other motivated actions are less steeped in practical experimentation and more based in imagined dystopian hellscapes.  For example, I lock doors somewhat obsessively.  I lock the house door behind me when I get home from work reflexively, even though I know my wife will be home soon thereafter.  The second my travel passenger's fingers come off the car door, the lock goes click.  Oh, you forgot something inside?  I'll have to re-open it for you.  Cause it's locked already.  I do this not because I am worried of home invaders overpowering me and the 110 lbs of pit-bulls lounging inside, but because it was ingrained in me long ago when I was a kid that the world is a dangerous place, and one way we defend again that menace is by locking doors.  It was kinda like a mixture of Freddie Krueger and Santa Claus in that there was an ever-present threat of annihilation, but my good behavior and direction following could keep things status quo.  So I status quo'd extremely hard, behavior-wise.

The first fear I rid myself of concerned anything that might happen to me once I die.  Cremation . . . burial . . . location . . .  I realize that thinking about this crap randomly is already a bit off kilter, but look at the name of the blog for goodness sake.  I come by it as honestly as possible.  And then one day, when I was internally debating the merits of being scattered over a meaningful location versus buried in a single location, I just realized that, in the end, I will not have to make this decision.  Sure, I will have a say, with my will and whatnot, but the actual decision, all of the stress around the decision, will be on others.  I came to grips with the fact that I was freaking out a decision that not only was hopefully far far far into the future (don't believe every blog title you read), but also in this case, not even really my problem.  And with that, I let it go.  When I'm dead, I'm your problem.  Officially.

Today I let go of another hellscape scenario.  I have always carried a fear of the sun burning out and the planet freezing.  It's both an emtremely rational and irrational fear all wrapped into one.   On the one hand, it will happen.  Time, the great destroyer of things, will soon age our sun into explosion.  Sure, there are a few other sun stages pre-explosion that could potentially end all human life on Earth, but let's try to keep this relatively simple.  So yes, the sun will explode and the Earth will consequently turn to ice as if Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze open fired his aptly named freeze-ray at the entire world.

That pretty picture aside, the 'final sunset' isn't scheduled for a long long long long long time past my own decomposition.  So, technically, the sun's explosion should be filed under the "things that happen after I die" correlate, but it doesn’t.  Somehow, I should add, the plight of the dying polar bears also falls under this particular phobia of mine.  It has something to do with the irony that the world will get too hot for them to live before becoming so cold once again.  Dying in an ironic manner is the worst.  It is another big fear of mine.

But today's news has officially put a fork in my sun detonation anxiety. Information is slowly coming out from independent news agencies that says that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown from back in 2011 is still leaking 450 tons of radiation-laden water into the Pacific Ocean, per day!

This is VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY bad news.  Yes, you can take that as screaming, cause this is some unbelievably life-alteringly bad news.  Take a look at this map of the radioactive water making its way to the American west coast.   It is being estimated that the fallout from this nuclear disaster is 20-30 times the size of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.   I hate to use this much bold in one article, but this disaster warrants it. 

It's already in the fish.  They've already found nuclear compounds in fish off the coast of Alaska and California (check the article above for more informative citations).  This could mean no edible seafood in the (north?) Pacific, not to mention the havoc that radiation will play of the ocean ecosystem itself.  Hope you didn't get too into the recent sushi craze, cause its probably going to die down real soon. 

can we still call this a "blue" fin tuna?
You want to talk about dying with irony.  Scientists have already discovered seals and polar bears losing hair, expressing soars, and generally dying of radiation poisoning.  While we humans were all trying to find a way to leave a little ice for the bears to live on, we went ahead and set fire to their water.    

So yah, the sun exploding doesn't scare me anymore.  At this pace, humans will be long extinct by then.

(Though on a positive note, perhaps by the time the sun goes boom, our water will be far too toxic to freeze?)

From the Archives: The Buttsnuggle

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | 1 Comment(s)

I rarely re-post.  But this particular gem came early on in my blogging career, and I really feel it could use another introduction.  Enjoy.

This is my first non-totally original post. Which is to say that I wrote it, but i originally wrote it in an email to some friends on 3/31/09. But (pun--you'll see), i think this particular cat is important to let out of the bag and into the big bad world. Feel free to try this out and leave your experiences in the comments. Remember the comments. They're the think that let me know I'm not shouting into deep dark space. Enjoy.


Recently my gf (editors note: now wife!  That's how effective the buttsnuggle is!) and I invented a new "move" that has become a hilarious constant in our living together. I have decided that it is cool enough, in my eyes, to be put to a broader test. That's why I'm sending this email. My gf and I have begun perfecting the "butt snuggle." Now it started with clothes on, but really that is a novice version and ultimately far less fulfilling than the naked version. Here's how it goes. Standing up, both participants pull down their pants, at least in the back, to expose the full butt. Then, you turn facing away and moving your naked asses until they smoosh. Then gently rock your asses back and forth by swiveling your hips in a motion somewhat akin to the Eskimo kiss with noses.
There you have it -- the butt snuggle. Please try it out with your appropriate or non-appropriate people and let me know what you think.

ps. How does one copyright this? I would love to be able to say, "The Buttsnuggle is the registered trademark of Mattitiyahu Inc. and may not be used or reproduced in any form without the written consent of . . . oh fuck it. Reproduce away.

Help Me, Help Me

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

I am somewhat officially a writer.  Between the blog, my other website, and the book I am working on, the vast majority of my 'working hours' are spent tippy-typing at my keyboard.  It just so happens that one of the tell-tale signs of a 'true writer,' besides a penchant for the dark liquors, is the lack of coin to pay for such drinks.  In this sense, I am very much keeping it real.   Recently, it occurred to me that in order to 'monetize my life' it would be necessary to tell people how they could help me.

And it is so damn simple.  You don't have to spend a cent on me, specifically. 

Here is how it works.  First, you wait until you need something from Amazon.  Take your time.  No pressure.  Wait til you need something.  I'll be here.  When you do, all I ask is that you click through one of my Amazon links, like this one, and then shop for whatever goodies you need . . . want . . . have to have.  I, for directing your purchasing power in Amazon's direction, get a small percentage of those sales. Go wherever you want on the Amazon site, it doesn't matter.  I get a cut regardless.  Pretty sweet right! 

It really is WIN WIN WIN, Michael Scott approved.  You get what you need while simultaneously helping out a friend for providing comedic commentary to your life. Amazon sells stuff, and I get some scratch.  So, in case you missed it above, here is another one of those Amazon links that you can use to help me out.

Thanks everyone.  I will try to be less annoying real soon.  

These are the People in Your Neighborhood: Mrs. Never-Too-Late-To-Nazi

Friday, August 23, 2013 | 1 Comment(s)

There I was, enjoying an afternoon coffee with a friend, seated at the tables lining the outside of the shop.  I am wearing an orange t-shirt I picked up when I used to live on kibbutz in Israel, and has Hebrew writing across the front.  The orange of my t-shirt is accentuated by the orange in my octopus leg tattoo.  This information will be relevant later. 

My friend Jazer and I were catching up on recent current events considering we hadn't seen each other in over a month.  He shared about his acceptance to graduate school, and how his enrollment would mean a resurgence of his presence in the town's center.  I gave him a brief rundown of my honeymoon and time spent on the coast of Massachusetts.  It was simple and glorious. 

While we were engaged in this conversation, a woman in her 50's with graying frizzy hair and glasses a skosh too far down her nose, saunters up to us in a white and red sundress paired with aged sandals.  She stops when she is only a foot in front of me and begins speaking loudly both to and at me . . .

"Oh my, look at this, the tattoo AND the Hebrew . . ."

She leans in closer to my shirt.  This strange woman's face is not inches from my belly. 

"Um . . . hello?" I say in a tone that begs her to pump the brakes.

She is almost completely undeterred by my verbal speed-bump.

"Oh, hello, but what does it say!She begins to sound out the first Hebrew word.
"Mar . . .marcha  . . .marchav."

I am still half-stunned by her lack of adherence to any social norms or norms regarding personal space.  I finish the line for her.

"It says Marchav hatzafon.," I tell her.

"Oh, 'The Country of Israel,' great wonderful.  (it actually translates to 'the northern country' referring to northern Israel, but I do not stop to correct her).  "I'll tell you one more story and then I'll let you go . . . "

She says this as if we invited her to talk to us.  As if her presence was welcomed, and she wouldn't be surprised if we were to plead her for an encore.  None of these things were true.  We wanted her gone.  We didn't want even one more story.  There were no seams in her now flowing verbal diarrhea in which to kindly ask her to get off the potty.   And so, she continues . . .

"I host students . . . and I have to beautiful German boy living with me right now.  He's a great great boy, beautiful boy.  (it did not seem that this German exchange student was literally a 'boy.'  Our later guess was that he was probably a college kid.  Something about the number of times she referred to him as a "beautiful boy" was unnerving and a little too sexual.) 

"And he's been living with me for awhile, and really, its wonderful.  But I just recently found out that his grandfather . . . the boy's grandfather . . . was a 'World War Two'.  So.  Yah."

And she walks away without a goodbye.  As she rounds the corner, I say outloud to my friend and anyone in earshot, "What the what the what!"  I hear loud bursts of laughter both from Jazer and the two college girls at the  table next to us.  We were all stunned by what just occurred.  This women had just waltzed up to us and slapped us in the face with her conversational whim, and we were all left sullenly wiping at our ruddy cheeks.

Personally I was most excited by Mrs. Never Too Late to Nazi's grammatical use of 'World War II."  I going to go way out on a limb here and say that this German exchange student's grandfather wasn't Jewish.  I say this because it is still generally frowned upon to call the Jews of Nazi Germany "World War Two's."  At the very least I think society demands they be identified as "European Jews during the Holocaust" or simply "Jews" over the re-dehumanization of being labeled "World War Two's." 

Which means that this poor poor German kid's grandfather was most likely a Nazi solider.  Can't really blame the grandkid can we?  Regardless,  I think the euphemism 'a WWII' is actually kind of an amazing substitute for 'Nazi.' 

The unintended glory of this lexical substitution is that when the right-wing nut-jobs try to call Obama the "Black leader of the WWII's," it will now sound as ridiculous as its claim suggests. 

Asleep at the Wheel

Monday, August 19, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

Sometimes I am relaxed enough that the voices in my head go quiet.  Rarely, but sometimes.   These voices in my head aren't like the voices murderers talk about.  You know, those voices that are always trying to play themselves off as a vengeful God who commands you to kill somebody.  Mine are totally different.

The voices in my head keep a running commentary of the world around me, no matter how small the stimulus. For example:

Oh that bent tree over there?  That reminds the voice in my head of the old climbing tree next to the house where I grew up.  We used to make forts in that pine, high up in the branches.  Of course those forts really just consisted of climbing up about 15 feet off the ground and sitting in the branches, but to 10-year-old me, that put me on top of the world and far above any mundane troubles like parents, brothers, or homework.

I guess this is a roundabout way of saying that the voice in my head drives my writing.  The constant commentary rambling around my cranium becomes the seedlings from which my stories grow.  And this inner voice, in its totality, has become a wonderful and comforting companion.  It arms me with the combination of words and feelings that allow me to make sense of my world, and to share it more accurately, or more hilariously, with others.  I love the voice inside my head.  Without him, I would be quite lonely.

So what do I do, post-honeymoon, post beach week, when the relaxation of summer has poured me into a deep valley of letting go and releasing worry.   Amid the ever-present mountains of self-doubt and daily anxiety, my relaxed self floats down to the earth like a feather, swept left and right by the breeze as it makes its way gracefully to the pavement.

And then I lie there. A still, discarded feather.  Exhaled. Relieved of the pressures of flight and lift, but now also far removed from the applications that define my purpose.  If my inner voice is the gasoline of my creative drive, what happens when I sputter to the side of the road.  Can my outer voice write, or am I just asleep at the wheel?  That is the writer's question of the day.

Thankfully, the mountains remain stapled to the horizon.  No matter how far I cruise away from the snow-capped sentinels, the reminders of stressors past and future never totally disappear around the curvature of my landscape.  My hope is that if I've got a solid engine, one that I've been tinkering with daily to keep it running smoothly, that eventually those mountains will stare down at me long enough that I will feel insignificant in comparison to their majesty.  That insecurity will naturally progress into creating an inward concern that I am not worthy of such a immaculate view.  That type of perseverating worry, it turns out, is my inner voice's version of a constantly ringing iPhone alarm.  Annoyed back into action, the inner mumblings begin once again, providing the fuel that will hopefully propel my creative vehicle toward the quickly approaching uphill terrain.