Posts Tagged ‘life’

The Binary System

Posted: 2 June, 2015 in Rants
Tags: , , , , , ,

For about six years now I’ve been sharing an idea. For most of that time I thought it was something silly, something insignificant, a somewhat humorous bit to share with new groups of friends when you can’t figure out where to go next with the conversation.

But over the past year or so, I’ve heard other people discussing and using this idea. People I did not share it with, people who live far away, in other cities, in other states. And when I ask them about where they heard about it I found it usually traced back to me. Of course, whenever I hear someone saying this, it makes me smile and gives a small boost to my ego.

However, the truth is I can’t take credit for the idea. I only added to it, modified it a bid, and did my best to share it with the world.

Like most all great ideas, it all started in a bar and to be honest I can’t remember who exactly said it first.

Addison, Texas is a not quite suburb of Dallas, resting just above the northern most edge of the city, hugging the curve of the LBJ. On Monday nights, if you ride Midway under the monstrous growing overpass, each of its pillars engraved with the Lone Star of Texas, you will arrive at an English style pub called the Londoner and, so long as it isn’t raining, you’ll find the same four people at the front of the patio enjoying two dollar pints of Shiner.

One particular summer night, we were arguing about the attractiveness of some of our fellow patrons.

The problem was none of us could agree on which of our fellow drinkers were 10s or 8s or 5s or whatever. Furthermore we couldn’t even all agree on any one individual being more attractive than any other individual.  Much of this could be chocked up to taste. Some people have a type, dark hair or fair, curves or heroin chic. Aesthetic is subjective in nature, but that wasn’t the whole of the problem. People couldn’t even seem to settle on what the scale meant.

—I only go home with eights or better, said one

—Bullshit, said another —I’ve seen you hit a six for sure.

—that doesn’t even make sense, said a third, —Five is the middle. Literally anyone above a five is someone attractive enough to sleep with. The rest is degrees of ugliness or hotness.

—then it’s a sliding scale relative to the individual? I ask —someone’s four is someone else’s six? Or is it a curve? Like, of all six billion people on the planet they must be evenly distributed between one and ten? Then someone’s attractiveness is still relative, not to the observer but the every other living person.

It was quite the conundrum. With all our combined years of social indoctrination, training us to reduce our fellow humans’ value to a digit, we couldn’t even decide what the scale was, much less, where others fell on it.

I’m not sure which, but it was one of these four who first said.

—It pretty much comes down to a binary system.

With those words my entire way of superficially judging strangers changed forever.

This is what he meant.

Binary a system of ones and zeros. The basis of all computer programming and more importantly, Morse code.

In our case, a one or zero represents an answer.

Yes or no.

A brutally honest method of getting to what is most important (at least to people in bars): Based strictly on an aesthetic basis would you or wouldn’t you fuck said individual.

Because it doesn’t matter if they’re a 9 or an 8 if you’d fuck a 6, now does it?

Aside from settling arguments in pubs, the Binary System actually solves a number of first world problems.

For one, it eliminates that false sense of comparative beauty.

Don’t know what I mean? Sure you do.

Beyoncé or Christina Hendricks?

Exactly, it’s not a fair choice.

You can’t compare them and even if you did it would really come down to personal preference.

No more of that cruel cattiness that plagues incestuous social circles. No more which is the prettier one (It’s Illana! Fuck yourself! You know I’m right! JK, trick question, they’re both 1’s). No more ranking people like they’re draft picks (it’s a sports thing look it up) because it doesn’t matter.

In fact, the Binary System eliminates most of that beautiful people bullshit. Once you achieve binary enlightenment, a beautiful truth emerges. If you have ever been laid then you are a one.

Dawww I wish I was like [insert topical Hollywood/pop star(let)]. No! You don’t! Those people can’t even go to a They Might be Giants Concert without a body guard. Do you seriously want to give up going to Concerts? You are a one! Learn contentment in your oneness. Being a one puts you in the same league as Brad Pitt (even Snatch Brad Pitt, aka best Brad Pitt) or JLaw or the that one chick from Sleater-Kinney (see what I did there?).

Yeah, there’s some room for, shall we call it “liquid interference”, but I say that really just helps you understand the truth of the signal.

The Binary System takes some of the power out of the mainstream standards of beauty. You only have to be pretty enough to fuck, after that it’s all personal choice.

Oh, so I don’t need to be a perfectly chiselled Adonis. Even with a beer belly, I’m still a one.

You, want me to do what with my pubic hair? No way! and I don’t give a shit, cause I’m still a one.

Most importantly the Binary System forces us to admit the truth of the matter; we humans have pretty low standards.

Everyone is someone’s 1.

So, Dirty Old Man, I hear you say, what about personality? cause that counts for a lot right?

Right. Good point.

And shut the fuck up that’s not the issue we’re addressing.

This isn’t a method of settling on a lifelong relationship or deciding whether you should leave your husband and the get the pain over with now or start cheating and try and keep it together for the kids.

This is for people making quick, potentially dangerous choices before the bar closes. This is for people walking into a room and getting the hard part over with fast so they can enjoy their drinking. This is for making yourself feel better when you wake up and shake your head at yourself, so you can say

—hey at least they were a 1,

and take your long, beautiful walk of not-shame home to a happier life.

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I don’t talk much here about my day various day jobs, but one of them is working as a freelance technical director, running crews for builds, load ins, strikes, overseeing various aspects of shows. I was driving back and forth from the shop to the theatre and had to bring one of my employees with me to help move stuff.

A gorgeous day out, I left the windows down, the suburbs, but plenty of pedestrians out. At one of the stops I look over to my passenger and see him, I don’t know how else to say it leering. I’m not sure even how to define leering, but, like pornography, I knew it when I saw it.

I follow his gaze to the objects of his attention. Girls. Walking, as pedestrians are wont to do, down the sidewalk paying him no mind.

I turned away uncomfortably, parked, and started loading. but we made a second trip and a third, to the shop and back. Almost every drive, he did the same thing. Sometimes even adding it some week salutation. “h-heyy” “sup, ladies”. I pretended I wasn’t there.

Now I have no issue looking at someone I find attractive. But it wasn’t just that. And I can’t put my finger on the difference other than. The way he did it was creepy. A slow, limp wave accompanied by an ingenuine, dopey, I hesitate to even call it a smile, which pushed forward a large top row of teeth, threatening to let his tongue fall out. His eyes grew wide like witnessing the opening of the ark of the covenant. He leaned out towards them in a way that felt invasive.

I should also mention that many of these women were teenagers from a nearby high school running in athletic attire.

On our final trip back I finally say something

-Is that really how you attract women?

He shrugs. -whatta you mean?

-You know, the staring the waving, the “hey ladies?” thing. I mean, does that work for you. Do people respond to it in a positive manner?

-I dunno man. It’s just girls.

I try to think of what next. -I don’t think it’s working, I think you’re creepin them out.

He does a whiney child-wants-a-cookie voice -But the girls here are sooOOo pretty, he laughs, -and it’s not like any of them  work for [our workplace].

The others who worked for me were married or ugly or both. is what he meant.

We’re back at the theatre. I drop in and focus on work. I blast music once we’re inside (zepplin, gaga, zevon, nirvana, My  traditional build mix). I love the part of my job where I don’t have to talk to anyone aside from giving out a to do list. I work till the space needs to be used for rehearsal and I have the creepster clean up while I close up the shop. I go straight from there to the Metra station.

I lay on a bench and read. The other passengers are waiting inside, except a woman on a bike two benches down. I try to brush off as much sawdust as I can each time I turn a page and notice the state of my hands.

-hey man!

it’s him.  I’ve never shared a train with him. I’m always the first one there and the last one out.  He usually catches a train an hour and a half before me, but it’s tech week so everyone works late. He’s sweating through his short sleeve button up. I hate short sleeve button ups. The only people who wear those are guys with NO fashion sense, nazis, and a certain kind of queer (who are the only ones who can pull it off).

I sit up. he sits next to me. He talks about work. asks me if I’ve got anything else lined up after this and he’d be gave if I needed anyone else on my crew. He liked working for me. he said -you’re not a total asshole, you know. You don’t feel like management.

he follows me on to the train. My stop is only two out from downtown so I got a ways to go. I hope in my head, and ask him -so where do you get off?

-oh, I’m on the south side so I change in the loop.

all the way, great.

He’s munching on an ice cream he got from the station. -what’s up, dude? you look stressed.

at least he’s concerned from me. I’m sure he’s really a nice guy. I shouldn’t be such a dick to him.

-oh nothin, I say, -[the director] and I had a bit of a row. I’m pissed with her is all.

-really? She doesn’t seem like the man hating lesbian to me.

-Huh?

I don’t know how to respond. I don’t know anything about the woman’s personal life. We’re not that close. In fairness to him she does have a Dikey look to her, close cropped hair, stout build, plaid. all that. but it’s not like either of us has disclosed our sex lives.

No, you idiot. I want to say. She’s pissed at me because she keeps making changes to the goddamn thing and matches that unrealistic expectations given the time frame we have available to us. My gender has absolutely nothing to do with it and because we are professionals we argued and moved on from the matter. What in sweet fucks name is the matter with you?

but instead I just tell him. -It’s fine don’t worry. we had a professional disagreement. Above your paygrade

-right, he says. we go silent for a while, then he starts talking again. -That [my employee, his coworker, name removed] girl was really [bitchy] the last two days, you know?

Really? is that what you think? because, first, that ‘girl’ is two years older than me. and more importantly she’s ten times the employee he is. and I take her with me whenever I can.

-She’s just had a stressful couple of days, lot of extra work got dumped on her at the last minute and it wasn’t her fault
(the same thing happened to me as a result of spur of the moment artistic decisions made by my ‘man hating lesbian’ of a director). -Furthermore, I know she’s got personal shit going on.

I didn’t elaborate. I like her and her personal life is none of his business.

He did an up down with his head and gave me an ‘ah that’ which indicated that by personal shit I must have meant PMS.

beyond responding at all.

Usually I’m the straightest male in my work environment and I forget how to relate to other straight men who aren’t part of ‘the community’. I’m sure women types hear this kind of talk all the time. I don’t and I forget this is what it’s like behind the curtain. I pull out my book and try to stare at the pages or out the window until I get off. I wish I could correct this guy, but I’m exhausted. I don’t want to keep talking to him. I wouldn’t even know where to start. All I can do is not hire him next go round. It’s not my job to fix each person’s relationship with the world. I’m too damn tired to stop being part of the problem .

Random music of the day is “Vengo” by Ana Tijoux, because I just stumbled upon her and wow. listen

 

TRIGGER WARNING: Contains boring personal shit

 

 

I’ve always made fun of New Year’s resolutions. When people talk about their ‘resolutions’ they tend to be trite, vague, quickly forgotten, and half of them inevitably revolve around losing weight.

 

The other end of it is priorities shift over the course of the year. Also, it isn’t as if anyone will hold you to account and most importantly why New Year’s? Shouldn’t you continually be resolving to better yourself?

 

It’s strange how your work can change the way you see things. I’ve never really looked at time in “years” until recently. It has to do with being a student you see things through academia. In semesters, in seasons.

 

I got a bit of a reset when I moved to Chicago. I came here at the beginning of the year. I moved in with my significant other at the time, started a new life with the new job, all of which came crashing down after almost exactly one year. It reset my clock and now I can’t help but take into account all that’s transpired in a year.

 

I’ve been delayed in getting this post up. It kind it sprawls out farther every time I go to finish it. I considered breaking it up into several sections, maybe I will. You’ll know by the end of the post.

 

Looking at the last three years I see them as themes. The first year was all about money. The next one was dominated by sex, Last year seemed to be about friendships, although it was the poorest I’ve ever been in my life.

 

This year it’s time to go back to where I started

 

Words

 

 

My cousin, Checkmate, and I were talking recently. He’d asked sot see some of my work and I’d sent him some to read. On the phone later, I was lamenting that it’d been a good while since I was published and didn’t even know how to start going about it again.

 

He asked —How many people have read any of what you sent me?

 

—…Good point, I responded

 

 

Over this last year I made a new friend [I’ll refer to him as Flamingo] with whom I have become close. And Flamingo has a saying:

 

Philosophy is not a spectator sport.

 

He’s right.

 

Neither is Art.

 

And this is my theme the year. This is my resolution.

 

Art is not a spectator sport.

 

It’s time to get some blood on the field.

 

 

That’s where I begin this year.

 

This is my list:

 

Reading – forty books. The last few years I’ve shot for fifty to average one book a week and felt comfortable falling short. Not to set my sites low, I want them to be difficult, but attainable. So this year it will be forty and maybe I’ll surpass it

 

Writing – Finish a dozen uncompleted short stories. I also want to make some significant progress on the two novels I’m working on, but It’s harder to see what a concrete goal for those will look like.

 

50 submissions – Whether I end up with a whole wall of rejection or start building those IWDB credentials I just need to start doing it.

 

7 venues. – Lately my work has only been seen by close friends. I need to get back out into the world and get used to standing up and talking to strangers about my stuff.

 

Apply to write a house – because why the hell not.

 

Put something up here twice a week, last year I was shooting for every day (I think I downgraded to five days a week, but didn’t keep up with either.) not that what I put up here is ever going to be part of a bestseller, the physical act of putting content up gives me a deadline to follow if nothing else.

 

Fill all my notebooks currently in use. (mostly because Delphi gave me a beautiful notebook for my birthday and I’m eager to use it, but don’t want to start a what… fifth or sixth ongoing journal. I need to just finish them off.)

 

 

This is a good stopping point. There’s another page of tangential babbling, but let’s just call this part one for now and get it up because the next part will be little more entertaining I think and will be able to stand on its own.

 

 

“quit the bitching on your blog. Stop pretending art is hard.”

I’ve started another novel and it’s daunting as ever. More so this time, I think.

Because I know what it is and I know what happens to my novels. I know how they languish on hard drives and in notebooks unfulfilled; Like us millenneals with so much potential left to wage slavery and student loans.

Most times I end up with a novel it comes from somewhere else; a short story that keeps going on, a journal full of notes that only needs to be resculpted till it’s story shaped, a group of ramblings that are tangentially related in need of narrative glue or a nail gun and sandpaper. When I put it together there is already a structure or a body or in the very least, a huge fucking chunk of words.

This is the first time I’ve had to start from the ground up and maybe it won’t turn into a novel, maybe it will just be a bundle of stories. Who knows. I believe stories grow to be the length they need to be, not what the author wants, but from what keeps coming out I can only see a novel, and I’m barely beginning. That mountain looks pretty fucking high.

The good news is that it keeps coming. Every time I walk away from the thing for more than a couple hours, words start rattling around in my head again and I need to leave in the middle of a conversation or a concert. When I can’t get to my computer I scribble down short passages in the book I’m reading or on a napkin or my arm. They need expanding and there’s dozens of them so I have mechanical work to do if I get stuck. It’s exciting. It’s also one of the more personal things I’ve ever worked on. Most of my work, for all of its magical strangeness, is somewhat autobiographical, but this piece (let’s just give it a working title for here) Beans is  much closer to factual than I’ve ever come.  We’ll see what happens.

Sorry Amanda if this classifies as bitching.