Monday, August 28, 2006

Top 5 Most Important Albums

Usually I'm coy with the titles, but this one kinda went right at the issue. A few nights ago I was in a very High Fidelity mood and thought about my Top 5 most meaningful albums. Which CDs over the course of my life really shaped me? Which ones really helped me through high school, or The Break-Up (important caps), or just a bad day. I own a lot of albums, some good, some bad. I'm a very proud owner of The Roots' Things Fall Apart and an incredibly embarrassed owner of Ace of Base's The Sign (I was like 10, ok). This list is by no means based on artistic merit (which is my way of explaining the lack of Beatles) but is simply based on their impact on me. It also is a nice way of saying "you can't dispute this and say something sucks, cause I don't care what you think." You are free to comment on your own top 5 in the comments section. Let's be interactive, folks. I've missed it lately. Maybe another Ask Manton....

Honorable Mentions:
Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head This was the first real "deep" CD I owned, and it came right around the time I started to think I knew everything (Junior year of high school). Luckily, I still think I do so this one is constantly being played, even though I think their album Parachutes is better. It holds sentimental value as it is the CD that Josie and I made out to while her sister and her boyfriend drove us back from the shitty Anger Management. Only now do I realize how awkward it truly was. I eventually want the title track to be the end of my movie (if I ever write it, let alone film it).
Radiohead - the bends I know what it was like when someone dropped the needle on The Beatles' Rubber Soul thanks to this album. There is something about it that just makes you want to better yourself, to achieve that level of genius. I play it a lot while writing, and obviously am not really making that goal of "genius" any time soon. Planet Telex is one of my favorite songs of all time, and it starts the album off, so how can it go wrong? It's also incredibly depressing, a fact I realized post-Break-Up when reading the lyrics. I felt bad for myself after being happy for loving such a sad song. I hate when that happens.
Pearl Jam - Vs. This CD never left my car the summer going into college. I simply could not turn it off. It, along with seeing the band live, made me absolutely love them. Pearl Jam is all I listen to, prompting comments such as "do you have any music in the car...other than Pearl Jam?" The answer? Yes, but I refuse to play them. So shut up and listen to “Betterman” from State College again.
Muse - Absolution Just when I thought rock was dead, here comes a British power trio who quite literally sound like the end of the world. It was also the first time I got a CD from someone at college, opening the flood gates for...pretty much every piece of music I have listened to since. If not for school, I might actually still be watching MTV. Sweet Jesus. *Shudder*

Now that I got past the ones that aren't good enough to get into the top 5, here they are, in chronological order. Yes, chronological. Each one hits a certain point in my life, and therefore I'll go in that order, from the obvious youngest until now. There is no way I can numerically say which is better or more important, so this is my cop out, ok?

Green Day - Dookie I had grown up on 92.3 K-Rock, like a lot of the kids from my generation, listening to classic rock. I had nothing but Clapton, Mountain, The Beatles, and Led Zep from even before I was birthed. Third grade, I finally got to watch MTV (I used to watch Notorious B.I.G.'s Warning and turn it off cause it made me feel...funny) and listening to Z100, ready to craft my own musical identity. Out of nowhere came Green Day. They were punk--I didn't know what that meant--and catchy as hell. It was on a constant loop around my house. It was the soundtrack to hockey in my basement, to playing basketball outside, to playing Genesis, and anything I did with my friends. I played it from beginning to end, waiting anxiously for "All By Myself," the secret song, to play after the last track, F.O.D. ended, since my CD player couldn't fast forward. It was the first record I absolutely adored with all my heart. Any time you play a song now it brings me right back to that time, that place, that basement, that Genesis game, those friends. And I still know all the words.

Weezer - Pinkerton Weezer's first album--affectionately referred to as The Blue Album--was one of my first CD gifts, from my older cousin who was getting me into good music. Needless to say, I fell in love with it, if only to look cool. A few Christmases after, my Aunt Loraine bought me their follow up, Pinkerton. I didn't listen to it for about five years. Freshman year, I dusted it off after falling into the new emo notion that it was one of the best albums of the 90s. It is a strange mix of resentment ("Tired of Sex"), extreme dorkism ("El Scorcho"), and lamenting about your girl being a lesbian ("Pink Triangle"), none of which I could easily relate to. For some reason, the general mood of the album took me over. I didn't know what it was like for Rivers to get a letter from a Japanese girl and feel a longing for her even though she's "Across the Sea," but I felt the same pang about the girl across the Biology room. Any time I felt depressed (which occurred more often than not) that CD didn't make me feel better, but in good company. Rivers never made me feel alone. By the final track, he was so god damn sad I could comfortably say, "well, at least I'm not crying about chasing butterflies." It got me through my teen years more than anything else. It's a damn shame they couldn't grow up with me and be anything but a joke (God dammit how could they even put out Make Believe and be proud of themselves?!).

Blackstar - Mos Def and Talib Kwelli Are... Blackstar I had always been a fan of rap, dating back to when my mom unwittingly let me buy the profanity-laced Wu-Tang Clan debut CD Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). After some time I started to feel that something was...missing. Even in 2000, I was getting tired of the chicks and the slinging of yayo and the shootings. It all felt shallow, already done. One of my friends told me to pick this up, and since I had a few extra dollars in my pocket (from slinging yayo) I bought it. From the onset, it just felt different; it felt important. There was a different experience from this album. All of the glorified pieces of the rap game were questioned. Why do we shoot each other? Why do we only get an education when we're in jail? What is going on here? What drove it home was the song Respiration, featuring Common. Here, three MCs talk about hope, dreams, reality, and death in such a way that it is seductive and thought provoking, but most importantly, moving. I personally feel it's what every album, regardless of genre, should aim for. This CD was also a gateway to Atmosphere, the Roots, and Common, as well as countless other acts. For that, I'm eternally greatful. Turn off the radio, folks - hip-hop is still alive and well.

Green Day - American Idiot I had followed Green Day since they first struck me when I was younger, a casual fan of all their work. After the more subtle Warning, they sort of dropped off the face of the Earth. After some time, I read that after having one full album stolen, they decided to just do a concept album. I cringed. You know what was a concept album? Styxx with that Mr. Roboto song. This did not bode well for anyone. The CD came out with the usual-sounding single "American Idiot," which was the normal Green Day fare. What followed was one of the most impressive and epic albums I've ever heard (and yes, I said ever). What really connected with me was that it followed the life of a teenager from young rebel to the wizened mid-20s. While not exact, it certainly mirrored my growth from Dookie til now, ten years later. Certain songs held sentimental value, such as "Wake Me Up When September Ends," expressing the lament I'll feel leaving the girlfriend after a summer together. "Whatsername" becomes more and more poignant with each passing day, discussing the past in a very non-sentimental way ("Remember? Whatever. It feels like forever ago"). It's one of the few CDs I can listen to anytime, the whole way through. In many ways, it's the soundtrack to my life.

Ben Folds - Rockin' The Suburbs This is a CD that grows with me. As great as American Idiot is, it also talks about lots of drug use, which I (at least as of yet) have avoided. Rockin' The Suburbs deals with a lot more common, personal occurances, in a nice power-pop, piano-centric way. There is the catchy one-two punch of "Annie Waits" and "Zak and Sara," which are almost throwaways compared to the rest of the work. "Still Fighting It" is a ballad from Folds to his kid about how much growing up sucks, and that you'll never stop fighting the process; makes me feel like I'm not alone. "Gone" tells the story of people who leave your life (specifically significant others) and that after a certain point, he'll just consider them gone from his life, a very hard eventuality with life that I'm dealing with currently (and will be forever). While the album talks about a lot of adult issues that are certainly in my future--which I dread--it ends on "The Luckiest," a song about him and his wife. It's a comfort to know that after all of this crap I'm sure to go through, it could end on the happiest note of all - love. The problem is I have to get through about 14 tracks of learning and misery to achieve it.

Well there you have it. Please, leave your disgust ("TWO Green Day CDs? How can you even put up ONE?!") and/or your own lists if you feel so inclined. Hope you enjoyed mine (not really, I could really care less, but it's a nice way to end it).

Well there goes that nice end.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

That Guy Part 3: With A Vengeance

It has been far too long since I have critiqued (read: ranted and raved about) those people in our society who always find a way to stick out, be it with their actions, words, or a combination of both. I am talking, of course, about That Guy. For those of you who are uninitiated with the term (which I will ride until I make some sort of career out of this), That Guy is anyone that does that one thing, like wearing the shirt of the band to that band’s concert, or breaking a Snapple bottle in the lunch room in front of everyone. There are two previous iterations of That Guy (hence the "part 3" in the title for those who aren't that attentive). Here is part one--before I found the more...genial title--and here is part two. Enjoy as I display my seething hatred for others (and myself).

"That's Funny!" Guy - There is always at least one person in the crowd who feels compelled to point out the humorous moments that occur while watching TV or in conversation. This Guy believes that the act of laughter simply is not enough of a hint to those around him to fully indicate his feelings on a particular sentence, phrase, or punch line. No, he goes out of his way to verbally indicate, in the most direct way, his feelings on the issue. Thankfully, we have people in the world who go that extra, unnecessary step to tell us the most obvious things. And no, nothing about this paragraph was funny; so don't even think of leaving a comment about it, smart ass.

Curses Excessively Guy - This mother fucker feels the need to fucking always say some shit no matter what the fuck is going on around this mother fucker. Like, he has terrible fucking grammar and shit, but is fucking always saying some fucked up curses as if that shit is going to cover up his shitty control of the English fucking language. There is also the guy that will manufacture reasons to curse.

"HOLY SHIT!"
What?
"I just found my sock! Fuck yes!"
...oh. Yeah. Awesome, dude.

I apologize for the above clusterfluff, but I needed to get "blue" to get my point across. I hope the innocents covered their eyes. It's ok now, you cute little tykes! ...Wait, then how can they see this? It truly is a vicious cycle. I blame rap music.

E-Mail Forwarding Guy - It's not funny. I know you think it is, but really, it isn't. I don't want to see it, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one on your list that feels the same. Please stop. Please? I'll be sure to send this message to everyone I know so that they can forward it to all of their friends and put this to an end.

Picking Up Chicks Through Internet Games Guy - I was playing Halo 2 on Xbox Live (the internet) with my friend Blood when a guy started hitting on this girl in the middle of a capture the flag game. While all around us an endless supply of Master Chiefs were getting shot and killed, this guy decides now is the perfect time to start hitting on this chick. Needless to say, it was creepy. He asked where she lived, and look at that! They lived in the same city! Then he kept asking if she was single. Over. And over. And over again. Luckily, she stopped responding, obviously clued in to the recent MySpace rapes. Do you really think you're going to pick up girls over Halo 2? C'mon - we all know you get chicks on Everquest and Counter Strike (I love inside jokes).

Rocking Out Too Hard Guy - At every concert I've ever attended, there is one guy (always a guy in this case) who just rocks out too hard. Sometimes they are just excessively convulsing to a hard song. Other times, it's during a slow number, and they're wooing and fist pumping like it's "Living On A Prayer." This is only acceptable when it happens at the Green Day show at Giants' Stadium, the kid is pudgy, roughly 12 years old, in the middle of the aisle, and will not stop shaking, even when security keeps coming to shut the party down. Then, and only then, is it wanted. Other than that? Stop flailing your arms in my face, sir.

Ruins DVDs Guy - I really treat my DVDs and CDs like shit. In fact, I just tossed out about 50 cds (mostly CD-Rs) because they melted together in my car after two years and two summers of baking. What I will never do is treat a foreign CD or DVD in a disrespectful manner. They are not my property, and therefore I cannot just throw them about the room in a willy-nilly fashion, leaving that shiny, plastic disc unprotected against scratches and dust. Not everyone subscribes to my respectful stance. This makes me a sad (and angry) panda. How dare you scratch up my Simpsons Season 4 Disc 3! Are you nuts? That's the one with the episode where Homer is stupid, Bart spouts catch phrases, and Maggie doesn't speak! Fucking asshole. Then again, there are people who take my DVDs and then never return them (sup Randy and Vaz!). I'm sure they are in perfect condition, too.

"Buy Him A Hat!" Guy - Why are shitty hats given out as gifts? How many "FLORIDA *INSERT PALM TREE HERE* hats have you received over your life time? Don't people even glance at these monstrosities of plastic webbing and foam and think, just for a second, "who would ever wear this?" I'll never understand the "well, we were in Boston, so we picked up a Red Sox hat for you! I'm sure it'll go well with that Yankee shirt you're always wearing. Isn't baseball a fun and competitive sport? Let’s hug." On the other hand, I could just have a very low value in the eyes of the person who is purchasing said hat. They are well aware of the quality and think to themselves: "Well, it's five bucks, so I'm buying him SOMETHING, even though he is an unappreciative little shit. Hope he enjoys the ‘BASS-ICALLY, ALL I DO IS FISH!" hat!’ even though I’m acutely aware of the fact that he’s never fished ever. Serves him right for not sending that thank you note….” (note: I made up that hat’s phrase, and I'm sad to say that it probably does exist, and is probably being worn on someone's head this very second. May God have mercy on us all.)

Gives Up Before Getting Mocked Guy - This guy's name is Luke Herman. I'm not even going to hide this one, cause it has always infuriated me. This son of a bitch, like other people I know, will never take a good beat down, especially when it relates to his favorite sports teams. They lose in Madden and it’s “Well, I only have ’05, not ’06,” or “well, I never played it on Xbox so it doesn’t count.”

Luke irked me most recently when I talked to him about the Yankees sweeping his beloved Red Sox in five games at Boston's Fenway Park. Before I could even rub it in, he concedes with, "dude, they suck, and I know that they suck, and I've been saying it since the All-Star break. I hope they lose every game."

What the hell do you say to that? Where is all the fun in riding your friend?! It's gone! It's all gone! How is this anywhere near fair? God damn you for what little satisfaction you allow me, Guy.

Steals The Good Beer Guy - What gives you the inclination that, at a party with a Bud Light Beer Ball (a mini keg of 35 or so brews) and a 30 of Bush, you can go into the fridge and take the Sam Adams Summer Ale? Do you think there is some sort of treasure hunt set up exclusively for you, and that, against all odds, you have scoured through the shit to find the one piece of gold? No. No, it's not yours, dipshit. It is the property of someone who has more funds than 5 bucks for that cup you’re holding. Step away from the fridge, and take a Natty Light with you, asshole.

Doesn't Get The Joke Guy I just feel bad for this poor sap. He'll sit in during the conversation, attentively listening to all that's going on, and laugh heartily with everyone else. Everything is going well until he ruins everything by opening his mouth and saying something that doesn't relate in any way to the subject discussed. Each person cuts their laughing short, becomes blood thirsty, and jumps at this schmuck's jugular. We ask him to explain himself, and after a line of questioning it becomes clear that the jokes went over his head to the point where he made up his own twisted, convoluted quip; one that isn't even funny in the first place. I do not look to mock you, Guy. I am here merely to pity you. We're all sorry you're in on the conversation and we could not find a tape of Dharma & Greg to satisfy your simpler comedic standings.

Keeps Talking Guy - A lot like the Guy mentioned above, this charmer just keeps the conversation going without saying much of anything, but seems to be well informed of the subject. This person would be me. For countless conversations, I have "yeah, yeah, no, definitely, yeah"-ed myself to look smarter than I really am. Think of a topic and I have bullshitted a fact or something I made up that sounds reasonable prefaced with "I read that...." It's really easy to do. If someone starts talking about world politics, simply say, "yeah, I read that (name leader of country, country, or issue) really isn't/aren't going so well." Bam. You are now seemingly intelligent in a wide variety of topics. Whenever someone tries to call your bluff, say something along the lines of "well that's what I read." They can't dispute words! It's irrefutable. Really! I read that somewhere.

Keeps Running The Joke Until It Becomes Awkward Guy - I met with a friend of mine who I haven't seen for a while and noticed that he had a different haircut from when I last saw him, one that is more boyish and less...metal. I commented about it--in a gay tone, of course--hoping to illicit, at the very least, a smirk. At the most, all of us would laugh and laugh and then someone would say, "That was funny, man!" What happened instead was that he sort of awkwardly chuckled at my haircut compliment. When others would put their pick axes away, I decided to keep mining the gay angle until I struck gold. After saying something about his shirt, jeans, and shoes, and getting a zero response, I simply walked away. We have not talked since. The lesson learned? As told by the great Homer Simpson (who is so great in Season 4, especially Disc 3) is: never try.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Long Island Living

My parents were never too big on vacations. Actually, I never was, either. We have made the obligatory trips to Disney World, went on a cruise to Bermuda, and visited my Grandma's house at the Jersey Shore. Then I entered 8th grade, and family trips went out the window. Then, the regular trips you would take become the real getaways. Every summer I would spend roughly a week with my Aunt Baba, Uncle Ed, and cousins Eddie and Suzanne, while making trips to see my Grandma who lives almost down the street. This became my way of relaxation, to "get away from it all." Leaving one suburban town to go to another to escape really doesn't sound plausible (or sane), but it somehow works.

The trips have become a bit different now. Eddie is out of the house and out of college. Sue landed a job working at Astralwerks Records in the city and just moved to Long Beach. For some reason, I'm too busy to spend more than a few days there (even though I don't have to depend on my Dad to drive me to and fro anyore). This year's trip consisted of 3 nights and 2 days, and it was probably the longest day of the summer.

While driving to Sue's, I realized that Long Island has about 800 highways (give or take 3) and they all have similar signage, but different names. Why, well, I clearly do not know. One road in particular, the Meadowbrook, must think pretty highly of itself. The exits aren't in your usual "number" fare. No, they are prefaced by a capital M, like Exit M4. Why does the Meadowbrook (not the Grand Central or the Cross Island, or the LIE for god's sake) Parkway feel the need to stamp each exit and remind you that yes, you are, in fact, on the Meadowbrook. The cookie-cutter-LI-highway-sign emblazoned with a capital M by the lighthouse is more than enough. Self-important pavement - the worst kind of blacktop.

I showed up to Long Beach, which looks strikingly similar to every beachfront community that exists, and saw Sue's place. It is far too large and good for her. The girl has about 8 objects to her name and oodles of square footage. I want to buy her something large just so she can take advantage of it...like a blow up pool or something. After watching some of Law and Order SVU: Season 2, I retired to the futon. The futon is a rare creature. It was already evolved upon--the pullout couch--yet it still thrives, even more so than the more evolved piece of furniture. Why is this? The futon doesn't even hide the fact that it's a bed - it's all there to be looked at. I want to bring the pull out couch back. But that'll come in a few years as the new apartment will have a sweet futon. Futons rule!

We took the Long Island Railroad in (affectionately known as the "LIRR" for all you crazy out of towners who want to sound local while talking to someone from Smithtown) to the city for a day of watching Sue go to her job. This was a part of the plan that I never fully thought out. For my "vacation," I get to wake up at 7:30 to get into the city by 9 and not leave until 7 PM. Who does that? A dopey Polack, that's who. The LIRR had an odd situation for its many rows of chairs. They had the standard set of three on one side and two on the other, but some of the sections were turned backwards, creating an immediate and awkward "stare down effect" for the entire trip. You can't even look to the left or right to avoid it, because you fall right into the trap constantly. There is a train full of people looking at the ceiling and the floor to not feel like a creep. And these people shit on New Jersey.

Sue had a fantastic little set up in her office. There was a desk, and envelopes, and cds, and walls! It was quite cozy.

It was here that she and I put Astralwerks labels on manila envelopes, then stuffed them with promo cds, and then put address labels on them (that's what the pile is on the desk). My lovely cousin is in the back right. I'm giving the big thumbs up for free labor!

I eventually moved on to counting Subtle cds and adding their tour dates to the official database. I also remember the passwords, so any time I want to completely fuck up their touring schedules, I most certainly can. The power I yield is incredible. Soon, it was off to packing up a box full of cds with bubble wrap. Clearly, fun was had:


Finally, the end of my slave labor came from one of Sue's coworkers asking for some help. She needed me to take some burned cd singles and package them by folding a piece of paper, putting the cd in that piece of paper, throwing that in a flimsy plastic case, then putting a sticker on the opening to keep it closed. I was handed 200 blank cds, 10,000 plastic covers that eerily resembled Kraft Singles (without the 2%, calcium-stuffed, yellow square of delight inside), a roll of stickers, and an iPod. Luckily, one of the actual interns came over to help me. This is the result.

Her pile was the blue one. She did 10. I did 190. The kicker is that I did them wrong, as the labels should be 90 degrees more to the right. Oh well, I'm not doing slave labor for college credit, so I don't give a shit.

For payment, I received an Inside Man DVD, about 15 cds, and a Chipotle burrito. And yes, it was the best burrito I ever ate. There simply is no comparison.

While on the way back to Sue's with her friends (and, over the years, mine as well) Rob, Annmarie, and Nicole, we hit some interesting stores along the road. One Jiffy Lube had a "fast lube" sign that I refused to comment on for lack of difficulty. Another store had signs displaying 59, 79, and 99 cent items. This is easily the worst advertising I have ever seen for a store. What the hell are you going to buy for 99 cents when other items are only 59 cents? Just take the plunge and have a 59 cent store, you pussies. I'm sure that extra 40 cents isn't going towards better quality (a 99 cent store special can opener literally fell to 8 pieces in my mom's hands while trying to do the can openers only given function of opening a can). We also went to a KFC/Taco Bell that had no Mountain Dew: Code Red and raw potato wedges. It was the highest form of blasphemy since the inception of premarital sex. That fucking building should be smote (cause “smited” isn’t a real word, but I think it looks better).

After a night of Funions, Hostess fruitcakes, and even more SVU, I woke up the next day ready to leave. I was left directions and a note on how to lock up the keys and where to leave them, in the Paulinski mailbox. Of course, I got lost on the way to my Grandmas. Traveling on the Northern State Parkway and going west surely didn't help matters. Eventually, I end up at my Grandmas to have garlic knots and see an Aunt, an Uncle, and a cousin. On my way out, in an effort to save time, I give my Aunt Baba--Sue's Mom--the keys, since she was already going to the mailbox and it saves me a trip. I receive a text from Sue asking why I didn't leave them in the mailbox at her place, and why I gave them instead to her mom who lives 40 minutes away. Sue gets to see me, and I give her dirty dishes, laundry, and a far away key as thanks. I'm the best cousin ever.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Between a toilet and a hard place

There are a few eventualities that occur when you enter college: you will drink a lot of booze, you will find out how to once again do as little work as possible for the maximum results, you will get sick from all of the booze you drink, and you will get caught for drinking on campus. It is a common occurrence. Of course, my brush with the student-run "law" (read: RAs) is not so ordinary. God that's the hackiest set up I have ever used....

It started out like any other night freshman year, with me either waiting for my roommate to leave or fearing his imminent arrival. What I am sure of is that the room smelled of sweat, weed, and general awfulness, none of which were of my doing. But oh how it crept over from the opposite side of the room. My friends Katie, Cindy, and Jenny--if memory serves--all told me about how their friend Colin was going to have a get together with a few people where drinking was to be had, with merriment sure to follow. I was tired, or didn't want to socialize, and made the girls drag me out to Colin's apartment.

He had a very nice place for a sophomore: a basement apartment with a kitchen, a common room, a bathroom, and two separate bedrooms. As soon as we showed up I was offered to help kill off a bottle of vodka. I got my hands on some orange juice and started off the night. A few other people showed up, no more than 10 to 15, creating a small group with a deck of cards and some gin. We were playing Kings, a card game with over a thousand rule variations, with gin and tonics. It was my first time both playing Kings and drinking gin and tonics. Neither really impressed me. Nor did Colin's choice of friends, specifically the hard-nosed Atina (who was very upset that I didn't properly say her name when I called her "Tina" because that is so far off base and I should have thought that someone would randomly tack an “a” in front of a commonly used name creating a hybrid freak name). She drank the rest of the vodka when no one else would before sort of scathing us for not “stepping up” and finishing it off ourselves. Not a big fan of the "uh."

As the night went on, I realized the different level of tolerances one would find spread out through my friends. For example, Katie is an incredible lightweight, especially after one day declaring in her Minnesota-by-way-of-upstate-New York-accent, "oh, I dunno how much I can drink, but I definitely know it's a lot." Fallacy. The more Jenny drinks, the redder her face gets, to the point where if you get her really sloshed she IS a night-light. So I don’t leave myself out from the beating. 1-4 beers have no effect, 4-6 I stop stuttering and talk completely normal, 6-8 I start to stammer, 8-10 I am unintelligible, but still have basic motor skills (I think).

The real problem came from Colin. I do not recall how much he drank, but I am sure it was a large quantity because the kid ended up damn near shit-faced. He was the one that everyone was nervous about while making large, abrupt movements (throw his arms around, try and jump, etc). The peculiar thing, which we did not realize, was that with each random song that played through his speakers on his iTunes, he'd say "I LOVE this song!" and make it a bit louder. Eventually, after twenty or so songs, the music was very, very loud. We hadn't picked up on this trend, as we were too busy trying to avoid furniture from tipping and the like.

Then came the knock at the door, followed shortly after by the word "RAs." The light switch just went on and the roaches began to scatter. The music immediately went off. Atina said, "I'm not hiding," before hiding in a small bedroom adjacent to the main room. I turn to my right, saw a door, and ran into it for safety. That door led to the bathroom. I did not feel like the smartest man in the world as I realized the only way I could escape is if I was a dead fish. The only thing I could do is listen to Colin try and sweet talk two sober RAs while he is loaded and has four empty bottles on the table. It was at this point that the night was officially christened,” a bad idea.”

I could not hear much, but here is a running commentary that went through my head. I heard Collin, “no.....no.....no....just a...no.............no." Man, I really gotta pee. "No......no....." Well, if I pee they'll hear me and then I'm busted. "My name's Atina.....no.....no...." Maybe if I pull a girl and sit down and pee I'll muffle the sound! "Yes.....wait no....." Oh, oh, if I hop into the shower they won't find me! But if they do, I'm going to look so incredibly pathetic it's not worth the effort. OH! If I strip and just hop into the shower they can't get me then! "No.....um, no.....it's just us. Yeah, four bottles, the two of us....." Wait, wait. I don't have soap, shampoo, or a towel. Shit. This was a terrible hiding place. Looking at that toilet just makes me wanna pee more. Maybe I can pee.

Then a quiet fell throughout the land. Anxiously I opened the door, expecting the situation to be resolved. I met eyes with Colin who flashed me the "FUCKING DON'T DO THAT!" look and even gave me the hand shoo before focusing his eyes again and answering a question. I closed the door silently (or what I thought at the time was silently). One of the RAs then raised their voice and, speaking like they're playing hide-and-seek with a child, asked, "Is there anyone in the bathroom?"

Before Colin could fabricate another "no" answer, I popped out, making a grand entrance. "Yes," I said, "I was in the bathroom the whole time," as if the magician was just told how his trick was done. She asked if I attended Boston University. I could have said, "no, I go to Boston College/Northeastern/UMass Boston/Emerson/Berklee/Simmons,” anywhere but BU. Naturally, I said, "yes, I go to BU." She asked if I had my ID on me. Of course, the answer should be "no" so there is no record of this. But, I said "oh yes, yes I do!" and pulled it out immediately. She asked where I lived and I obediently said "Claflin." Then to clarify in case she didn't know, "west campus." Folks, if you haven't realized yet that I'm an ass, here is all the evidence you need to confidently make that positive decision.

The RAs soon left while Colin, Atina and I were all pretty quiet, left to go over our own problems. Colin was lamenting the fact that it would be his second such offense in a calendar year. Atina was saying that she never drank anything. I was just confused as to where everyone went. My question was answered as everyone piled back in from the backdoor that no one informed me of. I get dragged out to a party, and when they all bail out of the escape hatch, no one bothers informing me of such an exit existing. Upset, I finally took the piss I was holding off for a while before leaving with my dependable friends.

The protocol for getting "written up" goes as follows: you talk to the resident hall director for your on-campus residence, they all confer amongst themselves to sure up the story of what happened (or an approximation), and you get fined by the school as blackmail for not telling the cops while BU rakes in more cash than Libya. So it goes.

The three of us who were caught all collaborated on a story. Weak-willed Colin was going with what Atina told her, a tale in which she didn't drink and was just hanging out. I refused to let her put up a stand and then turn-tail and run. The story I agreed upon with Colin was that the three of us polished off a bottle of gin, and the other three bottles, if asked about, were placed there by jealous ninjas in a nefarious plot to blackmail us. Our story wasn't very good.

I made my appointment with the notorious hall director. This is the same large-breasted, large-boned, black, female, empowered hall director who blamed all of the guys on my floor for human fecal matter being present in a shower stall, never thinking it was perpetrated by another floor (it was, and two more attacks followed). Needless to say, she was an arrogant woman who had arranged 11 floors of nit-picking RAs to roam our building (except for our floor, the worst by far, which had a lax, attractive girl). We all hated her, sometimes without a good reason. On that day, I got mine.

I sit down on her couch, sweating, but in a very nice shirt that I got on a shopping trip with my friend Ben. She asked me what happened, and I told her in every detail (save for the ninjas) before finishing my monologue with a resigned “it’ll never happen again” look on my face. At that point, I thought the process was over. But oh no, she had to make me feel guilty. She asked me why I drank, a point blank question that froze me. Quickly, I put together a sentence that found the cause in feeling pressure with finals approaching. I needed a release. From her high chair, she cast down, "there are many legal, safe releases that you can find on campus if you talk to your RA."

With the ball firmly in her court, she asks for more reasons. I respond with, "well, it's college." She reacted as if I said, "well, it's because of colored folk." Almost jumping out of her chair she firmly stated, "that is a lie. That is a lie that is propagated by the media and movies. I would wager that almost no one on this campus drinks." I was just told that, in so many words, I was the only person drinking in college. Not just on that particular night, mind you, but overall. That includes 16,000+ undergrads. Never before I have felt so small and bitter. I begrudgingly paid my $100 fine, pissed off at the whole process. I did receive some comfort when Colin told me that Atina had to pay as much as I did. Sometimes defeat tastes just as sweet as victory.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Go With The Flow

It's 2:37 AM, I'm sitting in my dining room and drinking a Sam Adam's Summer Ale. It must be time to discuss my random thoughts with my dozens upon dozens of readers!

Why is there always an older guy at basketball pick up games? Almost every time I play a pick up game, be it at school or at the courts in Montvale, there is always a guy having a mid-life crisis trying to ball with the 20 year olds. He is always wearing white basketball shoes, like ones that JUST went out of style, and has on a grey shirt that he will almost immediately sweat through if he hasn't already shooting free throws to decide teams. Sometimes he'll have some "awesome" accessories, like a headband made out of an American-flag bandana, or an awesome "I'm trying too hard" goatee. They almost always unequivocally suck, but make up for their lack of game by talking a great deal. Some find it funny, while I find it to be a hassle. Sort of like how he finds a sore back detrimental to his shot, I find him to be holding back my good time. If you're old and play pick up basketball with 20 year olds, just suck and be quiet about it, ok? No need to overcompensate. We're just happy you can jog back and forth without having us call the EMTs while your complain about a cramp in your left arm.

I keep seeing commercials for "employee pricing" on cars. If I worked for Chrysler and some schmuck is getting the same price for his girls' 17th birthday president as he is working on the assembly line, I'd certainly make some axels a little loose if you know what I'm saying.

My Mom's on my case about getting a passport, because, as she says, they are going to be the universal way to get anywhere or get anything. Want to hop on a plane? Passport. Want to do anything at the bank? Passport. Want to piss? You should see the stamp for that one. I just find it completely silly that we're basing everything off of a glorified pamphlet. Passports have been the laughing stock of international identification forever. It is cumbersome and cannot easily fit into a wallet, much like the drivers’ license or school ID. Also, my class made our own passports in like second grade, and mine was pretty convincing for a 7 year old. At least drivers’ licenses have crazy holograms and the like. I'm putting my vote in towards a national ID card, mostly because I can get it tossed in the wash and not have it crumble up like old tissues I left in my jeans.

Who do I call to have "the Entertainer" removed from Cedric the Entertainer's name? Is there a national fraud agency I can call up? Someone get me a number, an e-mail address at the very least, because this false advertising needs to be put to an end immediately.

People really need to stop leaving their incredibly bright lights on outside by the entrances to their houses. Bugs are attracted to bright lights and heat. Guess where they are all going? As I walk into a house I'd rather not be attacked by moths, flies, and whatever ungodly creatures are fluttering about by the door. For all that's good and holy cut the lights out or at least flip to a 30-watt bulb. If your doorknob is golden, shiny, and protrudes from the door slab, I think I'll be able to find it.

I am very uncomfortable with groups of people that feel the need to name themselves like they're a gang. At one point in high school, during yearbook time, I had to refer to my eight other friends as "The Table" out of necessity and lack of space. It was either to allude to the group of guys at my lunch table than say "Meyer, Hespe, Jassim" etc. Kids nowadays have cutesy little nicknames, like "The Crew." A few friends of mine made a big deal out of being "The Crew," plastering it all over the back hallway of our theater. Now I look at it and see the big name, all of the girls' signatures, the cute in-jokes they had, and giggle at the fact that they rarely, if ever, talk.

The allure of having a name is just lost on me, especially when it's like four of five people. My ex-girlfriend actually had her Crew get into a fight with a rival group of guys who decided to name themselves the "M Crew," as if they were infringing on copyrights. Recently I was almost thrown into a group, named The Six, which really scared me because I was not cognizant of such a group ever really existing, let alone having a name for it. Thankfully, it was just drunken talk and I didn't have to launch into this whole spiel at 5:30 AM while playing Drink Ball.

Ever wake up singing some obscure song in your head? Today's weirdo cut was Live's "Selling the Drama," a throwaway cut that is only memorable because it was their song on the Woodstock '94 CD (the song is off the stellar Throwing Copper. I have not thought of the song in a while, but it popped right into my head during this really weird dream I had, that I will of course share with you.

There was a party at my place, which of course wasn't actually where I lived. It looked instead like a summer place you rent and have three or four friends over and we all crash on a floor. It was my house because my Dad stopped in and said that there were people here for me, but I said, "no father. I'm much more content to sit here and put up an away about how I'm miserable and alone and want to be left that way." Before I could put the away up, my friends came in and pulled me out of the room into some foreign place that I felt was "mine." I turn to my left and from out of a sliding glass window I see a girl who I don't know on some guy's lap who yells "hey!" like we're BFF (best friends for life, mom). I turn to her and yell, "who the fuck is that?" I then go to piss and hear someone commenting on where I sleep in a very negative fashion. The quote was, "ew, who lives like that? Who would sleep here?" This agitated me, and I hurry up the urination so I can give her a stern talking-to, possibly without even washing my hands. At that point, Neel Patel (a kid I haven't seen since we graduated two years ago) walks up and goes "hey!" with two ladies on his arm while I yell, "holy shit, Neel Patel?"

Cue the Live - Selling the Drama. I truly wish I was making this up. I would be able to sleep a lot easier...and wake up without alt-rock album cuts on my mind.

Finally, you'd be so surprised what you could find while cleaning your car (yeah, I've been home for three months and leave in 20+ days, so it's a perfect time to clean up!). For example, I found about 8 coins mysteriously glued into my cup holder by a mystery syrupy liquid. That was fun. The real prize, however, was finding the shamrock-covered small Ziploc bag that once held something quite important: the first Valentine’s Day gift I got my ex-girlfriend Haley.

We had only be dating for about 6 weeks, so I couldn't avoid getting her something. I had the unique pressure of getting her something somewhat cheap that didn't look cheap. There was also the pressure of my teacher, Mr. Kovacs, who had been telling me for the last week that I needed to "get her something good," or, well, irreversible damage would be done to my name and my person. I went to the Garden State Mall where I remembered seeing a Claddagh ring, the Irish ring with the two hands and the hart in between that shows if someone is single or not. I knew it simply as "that ring Angel gave Buffy!" cause I'm a giant loser. I gave it to her in my car, discarding the little shamrock bag that held the small ring (I definitely undershot her finger size) to the depths of my console, not to be found until today, about five months after we broke up. Now, that little baggie will be used to stow illegal drugs, because it is the perfect size. What was once the first gift for a budding love is now nothing more than a handy container for a more fleeting feeling of euphoria: weed.

The circle of life.

Monday, August 07, 2006

how much difference?

A few days ago I was having a heart-to-heart with a friend of mine. While it was spurred on by the consumption of alcohol, it was moving along pretty well until I asked a rather intrusive but simple question, "what are you scared of?" It is a universal query that could be asked of a four-year-old who keeps looking over at their closet to a 40-year-old ready to ski dive for the first time. I asked that question and did not receive an answer. It was a simple enough question, so I decided that I would try and answer it. That was the point where I decided the question was loaded.

I'm scared. Hell, I'm petrified.

Everyone else is going to school for something that matters. Most of my friends are in for business our accounting, a future that holds a steady job where ever they can find one (business is pretty general). A few are going into pre-med to be doctors or nurses, so that after 18 years of schooling they can go on and help people, hands on. Even my friends who are going in as teachers can shape young lives while getting paid less than a garbage man for a job that is...slightly more important. What am I doing?

I'm going to school for film. Talk about long shot. The only certainty that I will have after I graduate is a sheet of paper ensconced in glass that cost me roughly $160,000 (not to mention $200 for the official BU frame). The introductory film class this year had so many kids that we ran out of room, so we had to import chairs from around the hallways to fit us all in. A friend of mine joked about how there will only be 3000 new jobs created in some incredibly finite bioengineering tract and laughed about how small that number is and asked who would ever go for a life in that with so few opportunities? I don't believe I even reacted. Each class there are thirty or so kids that have the same dream I do, getting the same education, fighting for one job. A single one. Do the math. The odds suck.

I remember going to Cablevision during Career Day at the high school. My friend Maggie (who didn't put down anything remotely close to this) and I went to see how the crappy Cablevision commercials are made. There was a guy who thought we were from Ramapo College, and that we "won a trip" out of tons of applicants just to see him at work. He reeked of failure, and it dripped off of everything he said. The department was understaffed, under budgeted, and slowly getting marginalized. I asked him what he wanted to do when he was younger and his eyes got a bit brighter when he discussed watching Sci-Fi shows, and how he always wanted to make this one movie with his friends.... The twinkle faded back when we finished our drive across the compound and ended up back at the control room.

Is that what I have in front of me? A job that I hate so that I'm jaded to the point where I can put out horrible jingles with green screen that you KNOW is green screen cause you can see it through the woman's 1982 straight-up guido-do? Will I only think about my goals now 15 years in the future when they are way passed feasible and only because a misguided teenager was tired of an awkward silence?

What you are reading here is what I'm working for. This is everything. How weird is that? By putting up my stupid little thoughts on the internet I'm somehow advancing my career. In the most basic bland terms, this is it. I put words together, sell the amalgamation of ideas, and you people read them or watch them be said and acted out. Some people work in industry pumping out cars, food, clothing. Me? I sell words, cute phrases, witty satire. My economy is based on cleverness in a market that is never stable. I'm scared that Anton will be way down come closing time, mired in some horrible insider-trading scandal (aka doing blow off of a hookers ass in Atlantic City...again).

Lightning round:

I'm scared that I'm not going to succeed more than either of my parents.
I'm scared that, as the only third generation on my Dad's side, that I'll let them down.
I'm worried that my wit, which I constantly say is all I've got, isn't really worth bragging about having at all.
I'm not scared that I'll never find anyone again, just that it won't come any time soon.
I'm petrified of being alone.
I'm mortified if I'm with too many people.
I'm scared of the thoughts which run through my head every now and again when it's 4:30 AM. I'm even more scared that I might voice them and the trouble it will cause.
I'm scared of believing that I could do this, because if I fail, I will have worked for years for absolutely nothing.
I'm concerned that people will read this and thing I'm depressed (I'm not...it's just almost 4:30 and I start to get "deep").
I'm scared I'll never escape this town.
I'm relieved I'm not tethered here by heroin or who knows what else.
I'm not scared that I'll die young. Hell, I expect it. I'm terrified of leaving this world without even leaving a scratch, let alone a dent.

I've finally not become scared of the fact that I'm the only one who is afraid. That was called Middle School. I'm just willing to admit that I'm uneasy right along with all of you.

Oh, and spiders. Christ almighty do they freak me out.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Best of Manton

I am applying to have a column at BU's independent paper, The Daily Free Press, and will be using samples from this...thing to try and woo them into giving me 800 words a week. It should be interesting. Either way, I was far too lazy to sort through the now 74 posts (this is milestone 75, which makes a "best of" pretty ok). Luckily, I have a good friend with a job that has loads of free time in front of a computer. Pam, a writer at my legitimate "sister" site Chickball was kind enough to do the work for me. If you missed anything, or hopped on to see what the commotion was all about with that AIM convo thing (which didn't make the cut) and stuck around confused, here you go. I present to you, the Best of Manton (according to Pam).

Problems. Technically Speaking. This is my battle with my parents over that blasted technology box that goes on the internet. Speaking of which, if anyone wants a brand new iMac for 1000 dollars ($300 below market price!) contact me, cause we certainly don't need it anymore....

Let's Get Random features the Friend Free Agency, which really did deserve its own post, not to be tacked on at the end of a random post.

You're Never Leaving Silver Street is about the experience of packing up your life and going back home after school's over. Title comes from the song Silver Street by Ben Folds, which comes off of the incredible Ben Folds Live and a studio album I don't have, according to my iTunes. Probably the best fully realized post I've done.

That Guy Part 2 I'm going to ride this idea forever.

The best years of your life laments the not always fun parts of being in college, contrary to the reports of the 24 hour partying that I expected.

Atonement. We all make mistakes. Here is my attempt to try and clear my conscience (it failed).

Mailroom Day Is A Dangerous Day chronicles the mail I get from my two Grandmas. It's pretty horrifying. One is cheap and faux-senile and one makes lewd jokes without knowing it. The picture is pretty priceless, too. Title is an homage to Rocko's Modern Life.

Have You? Taken off a P.O.S. song called Music For Shoplifting. Probably the one I dislike the most, but Pam and my Mom both like it. Maybe you will, too.

3 Random Rants I can't believe I put a number in the title, let alone to start one off. Ew. Anyway, the first one is about Away Messages, because they are just fascinating.

Oh, Growing Up Title is from the Boss's song Growing Up. My warnings to all of the new college freshman about what's ahead for them when they go home for Thanksgiving break. This was interesting because the feedback was completely different for age groups and for when they commented (before: no way! after: god dammit you were right....).

People I hate Before going into the more kosher "that guy" there was just pure, unadulterated hatred.

And now my special faves....

we all believe it is one of my personal favorites, which is why I'm throwing it on here on the bottom. It is the only time I felt I got introspective and didn't come off like a douche. It doesn't hurt that the title features one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs (Faithful). Something we all need a bit of, and I need a lot of at the moment.

Mother's Day So I don't have to get her a birthday gift.

Fuck Boston I was soooo pissed.

Manton Vs. Woman Part 1 So started what I still feel is my greatest accomplishment on this site. I chronicled almost every interaction I had with women before breaking up with my girlfriend (there are three posts sporadically about that). I bore my soul and some other parts. I advise you now - I get very personal and intimate, ESPECIALLY in the Showstopper. The closest I'll ever get to writing the Godfather I & II.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Enter Sandcrack

The rumors of me falling off the deep end and going on a bender in Hartford, CT were, unfortunately, false. I forcefully had no life for the past two weeks, as I would work from 9-12 before going to Kiss Me, Kate set making/rehearsals from 1 til 3 and then be there til anywhere between 10:30 and 12:30. One day I was there for twelve hours. You never fully appreciate how great it is to have a life until it is taken away from you. Thankfully, I can resume doing absolutely nothing at all once again for the rest of the month. If I will not have a social life it'll be by choice, dammit, and not because of the whims of musical theater.

While talking to one girl in the show through a text message, I saw quite possibly the most disgusting use of internet-based shorthand ever. Using simply the word "k" is lazy, since you're just saving one letter, and it isn't even on the same number as the k, so you don't have to hit "o" and then wait that strangely too long second to hit the "k." This girl has decided to make "have" "hab." It's not even close. Even if you say "hab" it's just not close enough to be acceptable. For the longest time I thought she was just a huge fan of the Montreal Canadians.

I don't think anyone will get that last joke. Why does everyone hate hockey so?

I went to LBI to visit my pal Brian "Mumbles/Mambo/B.Ross/Blood/Blood Rose/Shinobi/Maaaavelous" Ross and his family at the house they rent each summer. There were a few problems to this plan. First, I had no idea how to get there when I left, which is why the Garden State Parkway is probably the greatest 172 mile strip of pavement in the nation. Average of one exit per mile and you can hit anything somewhat worthwhile in the state from that road. It is a technological marvel. Another problem was that it was 100 degrees out and my car was out of God's greatest gift, Freon. When I called up Blood to get directions, the windows naturally had to go up so that I could hear him. As soon as the top of the glass hit the rubber at the crest of my door my entire body sweated out a river simultaneously. I swear my body felt my fingers hit the window buttons and had a countdown. Finally, and most importantly, I really dislike the beach.

For one, I can't swim, so there goes the entire allure of the ocean. Sure, it's great to be able to go into a large body of water that you can piss in without any shame. It's always fun to fight the waves, just like Artie: The Strongest Man......IN THE WORLD! But there is a fundamental problem with the beach: something bad always happens. The most obvious is sand in the natural cracks in all humans. How someone can have sex on a beach absolutely blows my mind. Doing nothing I average more than a few grains in those special crevices. With nothing protecting them, I would have to measure it in poundage. You always get burned. Always. Sun tan lotion is the most fallible "life saver" ever. It is akin to drowning in the ocean and getting thrown a crushed up cardboard box with a taped-up hole. "But Michael P. Anton," you say, "what if you bring an umbrella?" Then why even leave? Now you can just swelter outside before going into the water and fending yourself off from jellyfish. There is a reason that air conditioning was invented. Stop it. I'll sit in the 70-degree weather while you burn, get stung, and see really hairy fat people while you clean grains of old rocks out of your crotch. Have fun. You can't get skin cancer from AC (yet) !

Long Beach Island, NJ has some balls, too. They have decided because they're a quaint beach community they don't need to follow the same rules as every other road across the nation. Around 22 (the streets are all numbered, which is the most genius thing ever, even though to make it somewhat cozy each street has a name, too) the street signs go away. I, of course, am flabbergasted. Traveling into the 80s makes it neigh impossible to count each street, as I would get lost around #18, let alone #60. LBI decided it would be keen to take little white posts and make them the street signs instead! Oh, that's cute. Here's the problem. They're fucking two feet tall and you can barely read them until you missed your god damn turn. You're counting so fast you have no idea that you passed your street about five blocks ago. "ninety fo...fi...si...se...shit I should have turned at eighty two!"

The one positive at the beach was seeing a commercial for the not-around-here Jack in the Box. The ad involved some smarty pants who pulls up to the drive through and asks to speak to Mr. Box. The attractive, young white male working the drive-thru smiles, and hit's a button that reads "JACK." Then, the cone-headed mascot guy is in a suit on a plane and tells the exasperated driver what he should order, and it's coincidentally the new sammich that the company wants to push! It was giggles for all. I still don't know what is more ridiculous: the talking mascot or the white male doing the driving thru. Anyway, my point is that the character was named Mr. Box. Is he aware that his last name is just a slang word for vagina? Can I say I'm eating at Jack in the Cooch? More than that, who would eat in a restaurant that is merely a nation-wide bragger about his sexual abilities? Jack's a cocky asshole.

The biggest disappointment of the trip came at the hands of Brian's younger brother Kevin. Kevin Ross and I have a bit of a history. One day, out of the goodness of my heart, I offered him a ride home. I was a senior, thereby making Kevin a sophomore. This was during a time where he had not yet fully bloomed socially, and preferred to communicate with me in sounds instead of words, let alone phrases or sentences. While we drove it rained, and I felt that I did a really good deed. When he got out of the car, I naturally expected a sincere and loud thank you. Something along the lines of, "thank you so much Anton for driving me home and keeping me dry to boot!" But no. You know what I get? The sound of the seat belt unbuckling, the door opening, shoes hitting the pavement, and then the door closing. Not a single word of gratitude.

I never forgave him. He was the little brother that I would constantly ride. For example, "oh god dammit Kevin you're absolutely worthless" when he dropped a fork, or "jesus christ you're good for nothing" when he was using the xbox as a DVD player when I wanted to play Halo 2 on Xbox Live (aka audio/visual crack). I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to capitalize on my faux-hatred in challenging Kevin at the absolute best reason to go down the shore outside of SkeeBall: Mini Golf. I made a simple bet with him. I put up 10 bucks, and he puts up his soul. He declined. My persuading argument of "but you can't buy anything with your soul, while you can get like two meals at Wendy’s for 10 bucks!" didn't really hold much weight. Eventually we just went for five bucks. He beat the shit out of me. It is one of the worst losses I have ever suffered. His shots couldn't miss; my hole-in-ones always bounced over the cup (four of them!!). So now the unappreciative son of a bitch has five dollars of mine. Sometimes life is simply not fair.

If you made it to the bottom, I have two shout outs: one is to Westie (happy birthday) and the other is to The Life Saver, because you said to. So I did. There. Happy now?

Retro: On Stuttering

There was a time where I looked like this:


I think that's the perfect way to preface this angsty rant from my past. (photos circa 1998/9 and writing from around 2000, I believe.)


It’s funny how I can’t really talk right. I can write my ass off, like it was my job (and, of course, hopefully one day it will be) but I can barely carry a conversation with someone. For whatever reason, I was born with a mind that works all the time, and is never in a gear below 5. I work, and in fact at times in my youth would not be able to sleep because I kept analyzing, and over analyzing, to the point where I wouldn’t let myself just shutdown and go to bed, but kept up and kept working on something meaningless. Soon that began to manifest itself when I would think things in light speed, but my mouth/jaw/vocal cords wouldn’t be able to keep up. Soon, I had a stutter on my hands that could topple buildings. I was a first grader with giant ears, candy apple red glasses, and a stuttering problem. Surprisingly, I was not made fun of, nor am I much today, as if it is a sacred area. As if my problem is acknowledged but not brought up.
I went to counseling in school with Miss Fingerman, who I always thought had quite the strange sounding name. Her help was very futile, as I really needed someone to tackle my stutter full-time, not just once a week for 20 minutes in school. After school for a year or two I saw a general practitioner of sorts, someone who could do the things like tongue depressing, or a lisp, so once again I was shipped off to a specialist for stuttering. For the next 3 or so years I was with a woman who clearly didn’t understand me, which was something that I didn’t know at the time, but would eventually be a recurring theme in my life.
Through the course of the therapy I was told to talk SO slowly it was ludicrous. Sounding out words so that the normal speech of, “hello, my name is Michael,” became:
Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooooo, *pause* myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame iiiiiiiiiiisssssssssssss MYYYYYYYYYYYY-CAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL. I knew that this was simply no way to converse with anyone. Anyone! But I kept going, kept going to K-Mart and asking some poor schlep who I’m sure gets asked this every day by this woman, “where is the shoe department?” She could help others, but she came to a point where she couldn’t help me anymore. She came to the same realization I did; this was utterly useless. My therapist left me with one last bit of knowledge: only you can control this problem.
On my epitaph it will read: He was the only one who could control this problem. Common speech for anyone is a walk in the park. I’m envious of most people who can sit and wax intellectual about nothing in particular for seconds, and minutes, and hours when I can barely get out “Yeah, I’d like to place an order for take out,” or simply give the name “Anton” because the hard A sound clicks in with my stutter. So instead, I give,” uhuhuhAAAAnton” after feeling embarrassed and ashamed. One of the things that separate humans from all other walks of life is verbal communication, and I’m limited in it.
When I’m at a party and a girl comes up to me, I barely have anything to say, and whatever it is it’s usually curbed so that there is no vocabulary that I can fuck up, no words I can stutter, and nothing at all thought provoking because she’s either drunk/stoned and wouldn’t understand in the first place, or that I will get lost in my own quick-thoughts and fuck it up and look like an asshole. I see Brett and with nary a thought, barely a gesture, he has people eating from his palm. Moms, hot women, teachers, it doesn’t matter, he has a way with his voice, his word choice that just clicks with everyone. I stand next to him and watch in awe as he does the simplest things that I frankly cannot do. Some people are envious over the girls that he’s been with, I’m envious over the fact that he could talk to them so well and get them so easily, while I struggle to get nothing. I’m surrounded by fast talking friends who don’t even know how lucky they have it, and will never know.
That’s the thing; a lot of people will never know what I go through. By no means do I say that I live a life not worth living, or that I am akin to someone in a wheelchair, but it’s difficult to explain to someone how much of strife it is to go about life and never truly be understood. Not in the sense of I’m an artist and I draw a circle and I believe it is the meaning of life and you think it’s a circle. I mean that I have ideas and thoughts that go over people’s heads, but just the simplicity of answering “what did you do last night” could merit the dreaded, “what?” or even worse, the nod and “yeah.” I’m sure I get it far too many times than I can even imagine, and the realization of this is unbearable. It’s not a disrespect of people not caring; it’s the prospect of someone not getting something that I desperately want them to know, to feel, to comprehend.
The irony that I want to be a writer, (and believe I’m a pretty good one at the moment) but I cannot even speak is a bit too much to even grasp. I can write out my feelings at a piece of paper, bitch and moan to the computer screen so much easier than talking to my dad, or my friends. A lot of times, people don’t understand what I type, as it’s just the same garbled mess of thought and no revision, the raw feed of Anton thought, much like most of this is for a number of you. So instead of telling my Dad that the reason I don’t talk to him is because he is never interested, plops his ass on the floor in front of the TV and takes more interest in JAG than most of the time he ever as has had in me, I say it to this document. Most of what I say is light hearted to them, because I either fear that they won’t hear my cries, or they’ll just make fun of it like they do most things. I say “I’m going to the bathroom” and I get that reverberated in some new “Anton voice” and doing some stupid action to go along with it as everyone else laughs. Does my low self-esteem come from this very problem? Probably, that and being called fat from now till I die, even though I’m not fat. I’m sure that the stuttering instilled in me a certain defense mechanism, so that anything said to me was not true, just a rib. And because of all of this, instead of airing my grievances to Geoff, or Stephen, or most of the lot of my friends is I won’t be taken seriously, or I’ll be told to stop worrying or stop bitching.
I’ve been told to stop a lot of things. I’ve also been told I have the power to stop. I come from a long line of drug abusers and alcoholics, and that addiction somehow runs through my veins. I can’t stop thinking and over analyzing, I’ll sit and think about if I told my teacher this instead of that how it would affect the grand scheme of things. How if I actually didn’t back down but fought, what would that say about me now? When I’m told I can stop stuttering because I have the power, when at times I sit back and am nearly driven to tears on how I can’t curb this detriment to my life. No matter how hard I try sometimes, I know that the words coming out of my mouth will not be clear, will not be pristine, but will be damaged, will be broken, and will be not what I even want to say. I have the power to control this as much as I have the power to control a runaway train, and that thought is lost upon the world.


I really am a boob.