The popular belief today is that you can only die once, yet at the same time, a vast majority of everyone who has ever lived will die twice.
I’m only going to die once though.
The popular belief today is that you can only die once, yet at the same time, a vast majority of everyone who has ever lived will die twice.
I’m only going to die once though.
It’s only 8° Fahrenheit outside right now. With the wind chill, it’s -8°. If I wanted to go somewhere right now I’d have to Michelangelo the snow off my car for easily ten minutes. You could die out there in ten minutes.
I’m escaping this God-forsaken climate the second I possibly can.
I’ve already gotten way more than I deserved.
I hope you like it:
I haven’t been able to sleep much the past month and a half or so now. Whenever I’m able to, I wake up multiple times during the night in cold sweats. If I drink enough it will usually help me pass out, then I don’t remember my dreams. I can’t remember my dreams for the most part as it is, and when I can they’re always nightmares. One of them in particular is this weird re-occurring one, its happened nearly a dozen times now.
The dream always starts off in my room – sometimes I’m sitting on the floor, sometimes I’m standing. Wherever I start out, I’m looking out the windows over the horizon. The lighting makes it seem like it’s almost sunset, but it’s still very clearly daytime outside. The sky is hazy and overcast, no one is visibly walking around or in their rooms in the building across the courtyard from mine. Not a single sign of life. I feel like I’m looking for something, but I can’t figure out or remember what it is. My eyes are scanning the fields in the distance beyond the trees bordering campus when the door opens behind me and this girl walks in.
I’ve never seen her before, but they say every face you see in a dream is one you’ve seen in real life, so maybe I have. She’s pretty, around my age and has bright blue eyes and dark black hair. She’s dressed in dark jeans and a white blouse. She walks in and looks kind of alarmed, and stops and just looks at me biting her lip. There’s a moment where we both stand looking at each other, and then she looks sad. She shakes her head and asks me “What are you going to do?”
I start to laugh and I’m like “What do you mean?” and turn back to look out the windows. It’s night now and I can’t see anything, but my dream logic doesn’t find the drastic shift in lighting that strange. I’m just annoyed it’ll be harder to find whatever I was looking for. She grabs my shoulder and I turn again, and this time when I turn and see her she’s wearing a formal dress, silky material that’s a deep purple-mauve color. When I look down, I’m wearing a slate grey suit and polished leather dress shoes. The gleam of the shoes grabs my attention for a second, maybe because I wasn’t wearing any when she walked in, and the girl shakes me to get my attention. When I raise my head to meet her eyes again we’re standing in the middle of a giant cathedral – it actually looks and feels a ton like St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. The rows are packed with people and it looks like there’s no open seats left – everyone shoulder to shoulder
It’s a wedding that feels like it’s just about to begin – there’s a lot of energy in the room. All the groomsmen and bridesmaids are lined up on the altar in two lines, one on the left and one on the right. The groomsmen are all in white shirts with orange vests, and the bridesmaids all in bright purple dresses with orange accents. Purple and orange flowers are overwhelming the altar, as well as in little bunches positioned at the end of each pew. Decorative cloth banners of matching coloration are wrapped around the columns lining the aisle. We’re literally in the middle of the aisle in a crossroad between a gap in the seats that separates the cathedral into a front and back section. I feel like it’s not a good place to be standing, but no one seems to acknowledge us standing there. No one notices us.
“What are you going to do?” the girl asks me again, this time with greater urgency. Her grip around my arm tightens, I can feel her nails through the suit. I turn to look back at her, and she looks terrified. She’s facing the front of the church and I’m looking toward the back. The doors of the cathedral are slowly closing, and I assume it means things are about to begin. Then the girl has tears in her eyes and I ask her whats wrong. She’s still looking past me and starts shaking her head, so I turn to see what she sees.
There are flames everywhere. The altar is on fire, the pulpit entirely engulfed in flames. The flowers that had been decorating the altar are now destroying it, acting as the fuel for a blaze that’s going out of control. For a few moments it’s silent – no screams, no sound of the inferno, no chatter among guests who still haven’t realized it. Just silence and fire. The banners around the columns start catching and people run screaming as they swing down toward them. A cacophony of screams and roar of flames cut in sharply, shattering the silence. That’s all you can hear now.
I try to run out as the smoke starts to turn black and obscure everything. It gets harder and harder to see, flaming chunks of building come crashing down like little makeshift comets with sparks trailing off behind them as they fall. Honestly I think it’d be beautiful if it weren’t so terrifying.
That girl is running in front of me and then in a flash she’s falling, heels tumbling over her head as she somersaults onto the floor. Her head is bleeding badly and it smells like singed hair and metal. She got hit. I start to pick her up to carry her but I can’t. The smoke and heat are too intense, and I’m coughing and only make it ten or eleven feet before I collapse with the girl. And I don’t know who she is and it’s just a dream, but whenever I’m in it I don’t know it. So it seems twisted to say “fuck it” and leave when she’s out cold and can’t save herself. I can’t just abandon her, so I sit down on the floor next to her while the cathedral burns.
Then I think some more stuff happens each time, but I can’t remember it. Up until that point it’s pretty shot-for-shot and then there’s something else. Then I wake up covered in cold sweat and my muscles all tensed up, and I don’t know what happens at the end. I feel like it’s terrible, but I never get to see it. Or if I do, my memory can’t keep it intact enough to recall it once I jump up awake in bed.
I used to get hyped about horoscopes when I was a kid. When I was in middle school I found this site with all sorts of horoscope, i-ching, tarot card, future-prediction stuff on it and quickly became obsessed. For a solid month or two I would hop on the computer in the morning before school to get my daily predictions before I went off to stand in the snow and wait for the bus. It was one of the highlights of my day.
Checking your horoscope that often, it’s not too long before you realize some of the things contradict each other, or the same sort of thing comes up multiple times but with different wording. Horoscopes are pretty generic; you could swap them out with each other between different signs and no one would ever be the wiser. They even sound a specific way – so if you’ve heard enough o them and one were to be randomly read to you, a lot of time you can tell it’s a horoscope without having to be told.
Tonight at my friends’ place one of them started reading her daily horoscope out loud, and the wording made it sound like a super-generic one. I didn’t pay attention to the specifics of it, but you could tell by the flow of the words it was a horoscope. Then she read another friends, and then I asked her to read mine.
At first it started to sound like the regular wish-wash, and right when I was about to dismiss it the words were different. I paid closer attention, and was kinda taken aback. I honestly didn’t know how to process it; it all actually made sense. It was still pretty vague, but it was definitely applicable to my life. So much that I almost wanted her to read it again, but I got the message the first time around.
For anyone else listening, it probably sounded just like any ordinary horoscope. For me, what I heard sounded something like: “the fuck are you doing? Time is ticking.”
This past weekend I was in Philadelphia and Saturday night found myself at a club. Straight up – I hate clubs. They’re way too loud, the music is usually obnoxious, everything is overpriced, they smell gross. This list goes on and on indefinitely. Mostly though, I can’t stand the people who frequent them. There are always way way too many at once, and they tend to be pretty scummy and sleazy. Oftentimes, clubbers are scrapped from the bottom of the gene pool and don’t make many efforts to hide this fact. I’ve found that they are never the type of people I want to hang around for ten minutes, much less a few hours.
So as you can tell, I do my best to avoid going to clubs at all costs.
I was in the city for a conference run by UPenn and they rented out this huge night club for all the kids at the conference, and because the friends I’d come with were all going my options were: a) stay alone in the hotel room, or b) go with them. Having only one last night in the city and nothing substantial to do in the hotel room, I went with them. A few adventures ensued on the way, and before long we were transported to the club from our hotel via school bus – only the highest grade of transportation of course. Getting inside, the club was actually pretty cool to just see: all the lights, smoke, confetti and sparklers in champagne bottles they had was pretty crazy and absorbing. I also got laced with some sort of drug right before getting to the club though, so that probably has a lot to do with my aesthetic enjoyment of it. It was still overcrowded and unreasonably loud, but whatever was in my system muted my distaste toward all that. That’s a tale for another time though, this story has a different focus.
A few nights before on Thursday me and a couple of friends got a drink at a bar, but I didn’t have enough cash on me at the time and my friend covered my beer. I owed her a drink for this, so when we were at the club we went to get one so I could repay her. We were at the bar and I ordered our drinks (it took two tries to properly convey it all over the music), and after getting them the bartender punched them into the register. I imagined it beeped, but if it did my ears will never know. A big green $25.00 flashes on the screen – reason 3 clubs are lame. I never mind spending money on a friend though so I gave the dude my card to swipe. This is when I realized I still needed to tip him – significantly because of the price – and dove into my wallet. I only found George Washington and his worn twin brother left in attendance in the folds of my near vacant wallet. Not at all an acceptable tip, especially when this guy had to suffer in this hellish environment much longer than I was subjected to.
I took the pen he’d given me to sign the receipt for the drinks and flipped one of the two singles over. On the back across the bill, I scrawled my signature in large letters and dated it in the bottom left corner. When he returned to accept the receipt, I handed him the bills for the tip and pointed at my name on the back.
“This is all I have, so what I did was sign this one. Make sure you save it – within three years I’m gonna be famous and it’ll be worth a ton more money, trust me.” To be honest, I’ve gotten so use to being written off when I say things like this that his response caught me by surprise. He nodded his head, leaning forward to speak.
“What are you gonna be famous for?” he asked.
“I’m a writer, so books and stories. I’m an artist too and maybe that eventually. But definitely writing first, and soon.”
The bartender nodded his head in agreement and smiled, extending his hand to me. I shook it and he thanked me for the bill, and he said he’d see me around.
I like the idea somewhere out there in the world someone can hold me accountable now – it motivates me a lot more to get to making it all happen. I met someone recently (not the bartender) who without even knowing me told me I haven’t been putting my all in, and they were right. That’s changing though.
My laptop has been out of commission for a while now and it’s been incredibly difficult to get to write on a computer, which has been particularly awful because that’s all I’ve wanted to do lately. Last winter I got really into writing by hand and since then that’s how I’ve done a majority of my work, filling a few spiral notebooks up since then. A large part of that is linked to the fact I’ve been writing more poetry/flash fiction/letters these past months, not longer-length prose work. For anything longer than a brief short story, I prefer to work on a computer. Writing a novel by hand would be the best, but I also know I don’t have enough time to do that at this point in my life haha.
Every year since starting college, I’ve attempted to do the whole National Novel Writing Month thing. Attempted is a key word here because I don’t think I’ve ever gotten even halfway to the 50,000 word finish line, much less crossed it. So this year, with almost 6 months to go before the cushion of college expels me out into the actual world, it’s really important to me that I actually finish a novel. Novels aren’t even my thing anymore and God himself may never get to see the finished product, but I’m definitely finishing one. It’s critical to me.
Since I only just got my computer back and November is almost half over, I’m significantly behind the suggested rate of November-novel-writing progression at this point. I also have way too many things going on right now in my life that are much more pressing, which means finishing a full novel before November 30th seems pretty unlikely. So I figure I’m shooting for the more realistic deadline of my 22nd birthday. That gives me a nice cushion at the beginning of winter break if I need to finish it up, though hopefully it can be near completed at that point as it is.
I guess we’ll all find out.
And some days you’re down.
That’s just how the game works. You can’t let it get to you though. If you just sit there waiting to get out of the hole you find yourself in maybe you will, maybe it’s just a matter of waiting and you’ll find yourself in a better place eventually. But you’ll get out of it a hell of a lot faster if stand up and try to climb out of it on your own.
I used to waste days sitting in that hole, waiting for a rope to drop down from nowhere and save me. Days I might have been able to turn around if I tried hard enough.
Always keep your head up. Bad things will happen, people will say nasty things, and you’re gonna get hurt. The world isn’t always a nice place. You’ll win some, and you’ll probably lose a lot more. But don’t give up – even when worst comes to worst, you can always find a reason to smile.
I’m in my room right now; I was just looking out the window for a minute thinking about whatever. The view from my room is potentially (probably) the best one you could ever have living on campus – you can see out over the entire valley, back for miles. You can watch rain storms coming in toward you, and the lightening in the distance is absolutely incredible. You can’t get lightening that good if you ordered the National Geographic HD channel. I need to try to get pictures of it sometime.
There’s another building out in front of my view, but it’s low enough to see over easily. There’s these large window-lined walkways between sections of that building where you can see people walking through, and as I’m looking out this little pack of guys comes walking through the hallway. Every single on of them has their smartphone out in front of them (four with their right hands but one with his left) and is looking down at it. They’re clearly in some sort of group together, moving in a little pack, but they all look like they’re in their own little world. They’re all in a starring contest with their phone’s screen.
Two of them in the back of the pack, they both look out the left window (not toward me) temporarily as they walk through the second half of the walkway. They both develop the exact same hitched gait for a second as they transition from the glow of their phone to the real world, both balancing their phones in the right hands for a second before they look back down at them – again, simultaneously. Then they disappear from sight, all absorbed in their phones. They didn’t look like they were talking to each other or communicating in any way.
Everyone thought zombies would be half-dead and gnarly looking when they came. But they dress in regular sweatshirts, keep their heads down at a 45 degree angle, and don’t talk much.
I write a lot of letters now – I have for the past month of so. I haven’t sent any of them, so none of the intended audiences have actually read them yet. Maybe one day. But today, I need to write one to you.
You never met me when you were alive. You died when I was still real young, too young to even know who you were or that you’d been killed. But I found out about you at the end of middle school, beginning of high school. I heard “Changes” one night, and I was immediately enthralled with your work. No one else in my life was ever big into your work like I was. A few of my friends liked some of your songs, but I always subjected them to much more than they wanted. It’s all good though haha. I used to listen to you constantly, day and night (which is the name of a great song by Kid Cudi, you should check it out if you can. You’d really like him).
A lot of people didn’t get why I was so into your music. They’d assume because we’re different races that it wasn’t meant for me, that I couldn’t relate to it in any way. Fuck that. I hate how everyone has to bring race into it, like I can’t just be a fan of the music. It’s stupid, but people love to talk about what they don’t understand. But I understood you – I dissected your life. This one dude wrote a book about your life and breaks down different motifs from your work in it, and it has a whole biography about your life. He talks about how your life influenced who you were as a person and an artist. As I learned more about you, I related to you. I think a big part of it is us both being creative people. Haha, I actually did a project on you my senior year in high school for my creative writing class. We had to talk about an author or some kind of artist – either because we found you influential, or inspirational. I can’t remember which. So obviously I picked you – it was a lot more interesting to read about your life and play your music for the class than to read a bunch of books by an author. A lot of them have boring lives, honestly. Stephen King’s is really crazy, but sad too.
I’m sorry life was so rough for you. Sometimes awful shit that shouldn’t have ever happened does. Things get messed up, and then the rest of your life is crooked. It can happen to anyone. But you really made the best out of it – you started out with only your heart, and look at how far you got! Like, it’s absolutely crazy how much you made out of absolutely nothing. You should be proud! Life beat you down again and again and you never stopped fighting back.
You left so young though, and I’m so sorry man. That really sucks, it’s so sad when anyone that young goes. It happens so much more often than it should, and you shouldn’t have gone out like that. But at the same time, you always knew. They say you talked about death a lot, almost constantly. They all think you knew, that you were prophetic about it.
I kinda thought that, but never too strongly. Today I was watching a clip from a documentary they made about you (there’s a few actually, some are pretty good) and someone – I think your aunt? It doesn’t look like your mom – she says that when she sees the last picture of you alive, the one of you sitting in the car right before you got hit, she sees your blank expression and knows that you knew, and that she just hopes you weren’t scared. And I looked at the picture, and she’s right. You can see it in your eyes, it’s not quite sadness but it’s close. If you were scared it’s okay, no one blames you.
I have to admit, I haven’t been listening to you a lot lately. I haven’t been listening to any hip-hop or rap music lately actually, only in the car because they’re the only CDs I have. But today when I saw the date for the first time, I remembered today was the day. I immediately put on Until the End of Time. It’s one of my favorite songs ever. Your verse on “Dying to Live” is definitely my favorite verse though. Then I put on God Bless the Dead, and then Thugz Mansion, and then Life Goes On, and at that point I realized you definitely rap about death a lot haha. You’re able to pull it off though, it doesn’t get repetitive or annoying.
Listening to you today though, I thought about all the times I’d listened to you before. I thought about the videos I watched online of you being interviewed, your poetry and your life. I thought about all the things I learned from you. Honestly, not all of it was good. You had your darkside in life, and at times you lost your way. I know how that is – I’m actually just getting back to who I am. I lost my way, but I learned that my brightside is better than my darkside – so I’m eliminating it. I learned that from looking at you.
I learned that life can get cut short any day, at any time. That just because I expect to be here for years and years doesn’t mean I will definitely will be. And it made me think, “If I die when I’m 25, where am I gonna be at?” You taught me that I need to appreciate every minute I’m still breathing, while I still can. One day it’s all going to be gone. You taught me to accomplish what I need to now, not later. There might not be a later, and then I’m out of the game with nothing. No love, no work, no legacy – zippo. I won’t let that happen.
When you were still here, you once said “I may not change the world, but I guarantee I’m going to spark the mind that does”.
You did both. Thank you.
Hope you found peace,