Be it For the Better Part of Man—

Uproot yourself.

Refuse the easy path, respectfully. You may need it later. You will. But… you do not need it now.

Close your eyes and breathe. Open them again when you are calm. Watch the spider in the open window begin to weave a web that you’ll resolve not to destroy. Do not be afraid of the spider. Exist with it.

This is going to be difficult. That is the process. The process of re-wiring your mind.

The only reason you are doing this, is because you want to do this. Otherwise you would not do it. You have learned to listen to your body. It is time to listen to your mind.

Sit mindfully with your thoughts, and observe them without judgment. Let them go.

Imagine yourself from a top-down view, pretending that there is no roof between you and the endless open sky. The sky you sit beneath envelops everything. The clouds that you may watch drift slowly from your field of view in stillness are the water and the breath of the world recirculating. This breath fills your lungs as it does everybody’s. This water will become you. And soon after it will leave, becoming something else. You will remain. Always changing. Moment to moment. This is the process.

Connect the room you’re sitting in to the rooms around you. Imagine the occupants. You know they are there. They exist. You cannot feel them, maybe. Acknowledge them. They are here. So are you.

Expand the locus of your imagined, top-down view. Place yourself within the city. Place yourself amidst the trees. Place yourself in your environment. Realize where you are, because you are there.

Stay calm.

Expand the locus of your view.

There is a whole world’s worth of this. You are in it. Alive, breathing. Right now. When you think about tomorrow, do not worry. It will be here soon, and if things go well, so will you. Do the best you can in any moment. This is the process.

Re-learn the things that make you happy.

You realized once, on acid, that the reason you were not happy was because you had ceased to do the things that make you happy. You must entertain the possibility that these things will change. You may have to learn to do something new. But you’re here because you want to. That is the process.

You are in control of it. You can do anything you want to.

And right now, you are.

Image Credit: Getty

Youtube Rabbit Hole: My first experience at Denny’s (I survived)

I can’t stop thinking about the “Sex Junk” video

Perhaps you’ve seen it.

This piece of sh*t is a week old and its faults have been thoroughly legislated by the internet commentariat at this point. I am not hauling this beast into the town square over my shoulder like it’s a fresh kill. I am just here to say… “Wow. can’t stop thinking about this thing.”

All week I have been laying in bed at my horrifying apartment getting devoured by scabies and unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling with this farting beat playing in my head, over and over. So much had to go wrong to make this happen.

People with authority had to hear the mic drop punch line “my sex junk is better than bagels with lox” at least a dozen times before the cameras were turned on—and nobody said anything. Before, during, or after. There was time. There was so much time.

The director, whom I assume came up in their career filming content for the QVC Network, tried to create a kinetic concert film experience and ended up producing a perfect simulacrum of a high-school auditorium midday assembly hostage situation, completely on accident.

An entire crew of professional filmmakers made the choice to stage this techno-wobble almost-dance with a minimum of set and props and a maximum of empty space, emphasizing flop sweat bleakness in absence of anything else. This was OK.

The editor, faced with a mountain of footage from this Nuremberg execution of a pop science presentation, decided it would be wise to incorporate the brief sequence of Bill Nye punching a laptop spacebar like he’s fucking Deadmau5, and no silent hero transferred that bit of footage from the edit to the trash.

Netflix, who put up the money for this and presumably had the ability to pull the plug, decided to go ahead with the delivery of its unviable baby, resulting in untold suffering for all who had to witness it. It was traumatic and unjust. Marriages were ruined.

William Nye, the scientist, did not watch the first 30 seconds of this and speedwalk TF to the parking lot for an unfiltered Camel and some perspective. This from a supposedly reasonable man. A man of science. A science guy.

The audience did what any of us would do in this situation—froze, stuck stock still and breathless, like innocents forced belly-down onto the cold tile of a bank during a robbery. They appear in this footage as our surrogates, damned avatars of douche chill. The backs of their unbobbing heads are haunting.

Ostensibly, I agree with pretty much everything and like everyone that’s going on here. That’s what makes this so uncomfortable. This is ostensibly a vision of a world I asked for, and it’s like looking in the mirror at your smile and seeing screaming Bloody Mary instead. I can’t stop thinking about this video. It is a curse that will outlive my mortal soul.

There’s a Sarahsze.com

And in keeping with tradition, she strikes me as very creative. Also very successful. I need to give her a call. It sorta goes against the literal truth of the modus operandi of the Same Name Squad, but in spirit, it is a-OK. We can always use some help with the visual aesthetics around here.

I mean, look at this. I can’t do this. There’s so much care and precision, here. Some of the best art I’ve ever produced is basically a story about me throwing up with the word “fuck” used fifty times. When it comes to me, y’know, it’s like, art? More like “fart.” You can use that one. Pull-quote. Right above the title of a book jacket. “More like fart.”—Stephen King. And then SARAH SZABO: Haunted Contemplations.

Speaking of book jackets, I was named writer of the month for the current issue of California-based literary magazine Drunk Monkeys! Issue number 4. Free stories at the link! One is called “Beer Mile,” and it’s a comedy. It’s kind of funny! The main characters are real dopey assholes, I love ’em. The other is called “Fit of Inspiration”, and it’s short. Short and strange. So, yo dawg, are you bored as fuck? You want me to weave something for you? You wanna get swept away by our shared imaginations to the far-off place where wings take dream? Then please, get up on this dick.

Youtube Rabbit Hole: The atmospheric loops and jams of Lee Bannon
Photo Credit: Sarah Sze

I spend a lot of money buying groceries for myself

because I eat good, bitch.

Fridge full of Powerade and nut milks. Fresh celery with a crispy crunch. I have meat. I have soda. I have beer. I eat and drink it all. When I go home to my apartment, I actually climb inside of the fridge. It’s been modified. It’s very spacious, with a chair. And then, I consume. I spark a joint and inhale. But I only eat the finest offerings. Fresh shrimp, the most delicious decapod. Frash shramp.

The rain pitter-patters on the rooftops and I while away another day. I’m reading this book and it’s frickin’ good. I gotta get this guy’s other books. He’s a history dude. But before I do that, I gotta finish this one before this comes in the mail!!

Anxiety is in your mind, most days. The lions, in reality, are rarely breathing down your back.

Youtube Rabbit Hole: Norm Macdonald

Photo Credit: You Made Me Smile

A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Club Sandwich

They unclip the velvet rope as you swagger in, entering a smoky anteroom beneath a purple awning that reads, in cursive, Herve’s. A song is playing with a beat that throbs, the melismatic voice of a female singer stretching out over an ethereal soundscape, like waves crashing on the shore of a cosmic beach. The bouncer looks past you, unsmiling, the knot of his tie at the height of your head, gold rings with diamond inlay on his fingers suggesting a sort of aristocratic menace. Those diamonds have had blood cleaned off of them before. So has the floor, come to think of it, invisible though it is in the dim light. You’re all but ignored on entry, but this just means that you’re welcome—the fact you haven’t already been tossed out to the curb means you are, indeed, a valued member of the club. The ease of entry is a perk. To a certain set of the elite, Herve’s is meant to feel like home.

The elevator has no buttons—it goes down if you’re allowed, a kind of second barrier to keep out the occasional fraud. Either the elevator is slow, or the club is unfathomably deep—nobody knows. Even in public records, Herve’s is an utter mystery—no blueprints, no paperwork. Officially, it doesn’t exist. Do you know the sort of price it takes to make a place like this so invisible?

At the bottom, security steps up again—three bouncers, this time, men with the stature of gorillas in custom Valentino suits. These gentlemen are more congenial—if you’ve gotten this far, the last checkpoint is a formality.

“Miss Szabo.”

You raise your Oscar de la Renta sunglasses—the ones that you found at a Florida bus stop. You tip up your chin to the trio. “What’s good?”

You are guided down a spiral staircase, ever deeper into the belly of the city, down beneath even the sewers, where the core of the earth is more deeply felt than the warmth of the sunny sky. Now the music is a flouncy thing, a throwback track, live from the main stage, now visible over the silver banister. You pause for a moment to take a pull off of your vaporizer, your prized Cloud EVO with the ruby inlay, and personalized embossing in gold ink—я не буду целовать тебя до утра; to my princess of the West.—TimurBelow, a youthful singer with a radiant glow is swinging his way across an opulent stage, bordered by a proscenium that would not look out of place in ancient Rome at its most decadent height. He is singing a brassy version of a classic tune, hypnotic to your ears, uplifting to your soul, as though it were all just for you.

Life’s a bitch, and then you die / That’s a-why we get high / ‘Cause you just never know / When you’re going to go…

She calls your name from the middle of the floor, your usual table, with an unusual crowd—save for her. It’s a typical weekday evening at Herve’s, not full, not raucous, but still with a sense of constrained menace, as though the club were really a ballroom on a supersized palatial ship, traversing dangerous seas. You recognize her by the glint of her emerald necklace, a twenty-stone antique rumored to be worth upwards of thirty million dollars—it’s Mana Hitomi, pride of Tokyo, dancer, billionaire, lover, poet.

Down on the club floor, you feel at home—through a trick of the lighting, the walls seem to stretch upwards endlessly into a starless sky. Every table is a legendary tale all to itself—some of these people are supposed to be dead. Where they go in the daytime, no one knows, or at least you don’t—there are avenues the rich may walk that most don’t know exist, even those who would like to think they’re of the flock. Many of these people have unfamiliar names—it’s been quite the challenge, they would tell you, to keep it that way. You pass by one table, recognizing a face, and simply can’t resist making a comment, starstruck and bashful. You lean in close to his ear, hoping that your intrusion will be forgiven. “I loved your last album,” you whisper, placing a delicate hand upon the artist’s shoulder. He touches his fingers to yours. “In case you haven’t heard,” you continue, “everybody else did too.”

“What did Pitchfork say?” he asks.

You wince a little, inflate the number. “You got a nine. Nine point zero. Best New Music.”

The artist winces, turns away. At least you had that fleeting exchange—even if you were to now be banished for a perceived indiscretion, that alone would have been worth it, to your beloved niece and nephew, Roya and Jim. “You’re the coolest aunt,” they tell you, in your dreams.

Mana greets you with two kisses on the cheeks, which you return, with compliments. “You smell fantastic.” She does.

Bashful, a little drunk, she lowers her head. “Aw, thanks.” She leans in close. “Sorry about last night.”

The sensuality of the moment is suddenly thick as the ocean is deep. “Don’t apologize to me,” you whisper. “Apologize to the state of Virginia.”

You both blush—Lord willing, you’re going to marry that girl someday. She introduces you around the table.

“This is Rocky Cabot, first astronaut to walk the moons of Saturn.”

You shake his hand. “I hadn’t realized we’d done that yet.”

He winks, and smiles with a set of perfect teeth. Truly, out of this world. To call him soap-star beautiful would be maybe getting at only half the truth of it. “I’ll have to take you sometime.”

Mana continues, clockwise. “Jennifer Mezzaluno—her family invented handwriting.”

You extend your arm across the table, but she only deeply nods. It’s not rude. “Is there a lot of money in that?” you ask. “Handwriting?”

The table laughs, as though the answer is obvious. You smile, proud of your accidental humor.

“And this is Malia Obama.”

“Hi.”

“Oh, I know you,” you say, shaking her hand. “You’re extremely tall.”

Music fills the awkward silence.

Pack a four-matic that / Crack your whole cabbage!

“Anyway.” You take a seat at Mana’s side. “What it do, boo?”

“We’re drinking whiskey recovered from the wreck of the Titanic,” she says. “It’s on special.”

“Cool, cool,” you remark, as she provides you a liberal pour from a crystal decanter. “But, c’mon. You know what I’m really talking about.”

She leans in again, her lips brushing against the very outer skin of your ear, tickling irresistibly. If you don’t get to do some fucked-up shit with her in the club bathroom tonight, you’ll just feel borderline betrayed.

“The waiter will bring it by shortly,” she whispers. It makes your body shiver—you’re embarrassed to be so obviously smitten in open company.

This was all you needed to hear. The stars have aligned for a perfect night. Whatever you did to deserve this is a mystery to you more than anyone else.

The singer finishes to applause, bowing deeply, and withdrawing backstage as the lights go up in deep blue tones on a silhouetted harpist, singing “Hallelujah”.

And then you catch it on the air. The smell, the synergy, the sizzle.

The sandwich.

A waiter drops it off like a silent specter, plated just so on flatware that costs more than a human life. The Herve’s Club Sandwich, described in song and story—and on the menu—as “the pinnacle of all creation.”

Nothing differentiates the Herve’s Club from the typical style, at least in regards to the ingredient selection—the simplicity is a part of its charm. Herve’s is a classy place—they know some things don’t need fixing.

Baby, I’ve been here, before / I’ve seen this room, and walked this floor / I used to live alone, before I / Knew you…

Toasted wheat, charred and blackened just to the moment before burning in the center, encasing the treasure within—chicken breast, juicy and tender, its texture contrasting with bacon just crisp enough to crunch, and break at a modest bite. Lettuce as green as Mana’s brilliant necklace, snapping between your teeth with a sound like twigs breaking underfoot in a tranquil forest. Tomatoes of the perfect thickness, uniform, sliced with atomic-level accuracy as though with a knife guided by laser beams.

“And this mayonnaise,” you say, an ecstatic, unmannered moan around a mouthful.

Mana puts a finger to your lips. “It’s vegenaise, love. With a little honey mustard in a squiggle on the top. For you.” She brushes a crumb from the edge of your mouth, where it is promptly swept up from the floor by a waiting attendant.

As fantastic as the sandwich is, you all but drop it on the plate in your haste to stand. This has become too much to bear. You take Mana by the hand. “If anyone wants this pickle,” you say as you retreat with her, “Tough shit, billionaires. Get your own.”

You sprint off to the restrooms with your paramour, and by the dictates of decorum, we politely exit here.

Youtube Rabbit Hole: Jeff Buckley—Lover, You Should’ve Come Over

Photo Credit: Delicious TV

 

all that’s missing is you

4:14 in the new apartment, morning hours with the fading sheen. Pulled a cabinet door right off its hinges, earlier—the wood that held the screws in is ancient by American standards, totally pulverized. Less wood than paper, at this point. It would’ve been old in my grandfather’s time, if he moved in here at my age.

The gas oven doesn’t have temperature indicators—I suppose in the old days, they just guessed. And it might not be conventionally possible to stop the bathtub here in order to, you know, take baths. That was one of the main reasons I moved out of a roommate situation! So I could boil myself blotto for hours in a steaming rosewater soup of me, liberally salted with Epsom, evaporating, like, nine pounds. So this in particular was a big, big oversight on my part. I’m starting to think that the lifestyle I like to describe for myself as “pragmatic and cavalier” could more accurately be described as “bleep blop bloop doop, booger eater, mouth fart.”

These aren’t complaints, I just find it funny. Smdh, as it were. I’m never gonna not be bad at the practical realities of living. I truly need some kinda keeper.

Writing from my phone for now, biding my time til I can size up the financial reality of this thing. That, at least, I’m okay at. I don’t need much. A stack of bricks, a hammock, the essentials. The rapper Jellyroll describes this type of Spartan living along the lines of whiskey, weed, and Waffle House. I can co-sign that.

One thing I am loving, though? This air conditioner is on point. Sure, it only cools one room, but you could borderline store elk meat in this room. I’m talking, like, a hotel air conditioner—you know what I mean? A human being refrigerator. It’s as loud as a dual-engine Cessna. I don’t even give a shit.

Also, if I ever want to develop a heroin addiction, I’m pretty sure I just have to go next door. It’s wonderfully convenient, man. Down on Quincy. Y’all come fuck with me in my house of pain.

Anyway, this night shift thing has made my relationship with sleep abusive. I still haven’t gotten a handle on it. There may be no routine possible. As someone who has always been on the eight-plus hour side of the sleep-I-need spectrum, I don’t think in the last month I’ve managed more than four in a single stretch, not typically. I’m still alive, still functioning, and some people have real problems, but this is definitely gonna shave a few years off of the end of things for me, at this rate. 

Again, not complaining! It’s just strange. It’s 4 am on my day off, and it’s like my body is forgetting how to fall asleep in a peaceful way. Lately I’m living the difference between shutting off your laptop and letting the battery run out—I’m running out my battery. I just go, and go, and go, getting ever more threadbare in function, power saving, until suddenly, just like that, gone. Could be in the middle of anything. Doesn’t matter. Gone instantly. For like, four hours.

I’ve got a grip of fun stories that I’m working on now that I’m looking forward for you to read—four different fiction things, never before seen. It’s gonna be a couple months, but I think you’ll like them. Some are sad, some are funny—at least, they try to be. If that’s your sort of thing, you’ll see. If that’s not your sort of thing, cool. Thanks for being here, regardless.

Hey, do you guys wanna know how much money I have? Because it’s nine dollars and twenty-three cents. I know. In one month I turn twenty-six. Some people in this world would freak the fuck out at that sort of thing, but me? I’m cool with it. I’m a REAL American—broke. 

This election makes me want to flay my skin off. I sort of feel like everyone feels that way. But please, let’s all be sure and continue to put our dumb opinions on this dark carnival in our mindless small talk every day. I’m sure it’s not horrid for our health to do that, disagreeing with each other all the time. It’s not making us want to violently murder each other at all.

You and I share an essential humanity. Our pains, our fears, are similar. The funny thing about people is, in all our infinite diversity, when it comes to the things that scare us, bring us joy, or keep us up at night, you and I are a lot closer than it sometimes feels. Stare in my eyes, connect with me. No matter what you may be feeling, you are never the first, and never alone. Be at peace. Selah.

Youtube Rabbit Hole: Eat to Live

Photo Credit: It was I—Sarah “Tooter” Szabo

Fun Things to Get Away With While at Work

Did you know I read a Harper’s index piece that said that half of American workers have had sex at work? 1 in 2. I wonder if that’s self-reported. And I cannot help but wonder (not really) if self-sex counts in that number.

I’m not citing my sources on this; you’ll just have to believe me. I think the issue was from 1994. I read it yesterday, but it was late.

Here are some fun things you can do at work that you’re not supposed to do.

  1. Kick your shoes off. Hahaa, betcha wish you could do that one, doctors.
  2. Update your stupid website, and tweet about it.
  3. Have sex on the boss’ desk. Rub all the boss’ things between the flaps and folds of your sex organs. Spray jizz all over framed photos of the boss’ family. Spread your buttcheeks and kiss the cold wood of the boss’ armrests with your anus. This kind of depraved, insane behavior is fun to get away with at work, and half the people in America would high-five you for doing it, myself included.
  4. Drink banana cognac, eat LSD, smoke a doobie.
  5. Put one of your earbuds in, and listen to tunes and podcasts. Just a little background noise. It’s simple pleasures, folks. Simple pleasures are the secret to robust longevity and elan.

Youtube Rabbit Hole: She A Go – DJ Rashad – Stock Footage 

A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Toast Hawaii

Hawaiian cuisine is so lovable. It’s a whole kit and kaboodle of a culinary culture, built up from, it seems, two pillars: the stuff that grows and lives and swims around there, and everything that colonial people just had in their pockets when they showed up and moved in on the natives. None of it should work together, but it does. There’s a charming harmony to it. I bet syncing up went down like this.

Stacy from the Big Island: “Hey, my folks are Polynesian, want some poi? We have poi. It’s sweet, sort of a paste, like pudding.”

Johnnie from the 48: “Word, I love pudding. And I’m from America. Y’all eat ham?”

Stacy: “We’re down with ham.”

Johnnie: “Dope. I got this fake stuff in a metal box; the army gets it for me. You can’t even taste the difference, it’s the greatest thing in the world.”

Stacy: “Word.”

*they fistbump as a flag unfurls. There is applause, songs, mass flash photography. The date: August 21, 1959.*

I mean, seriously. Those kids down there eat Spam. Like, they’re down with it, it’s not a shame thing. They eat Spam in crazy ways. You couldn’t carry a bag of these around without breaking some hearts in my town. They’d treat you like they saw you eating dog food. The mere thought of a guy squatting in an alley eating tinned Spam with a plastic spoon, hands shivering from cold, and strokes? Good god. That’s dire.

Me, personally? On Spam? Hell, I’m for it. Anyway, there isn’t any Spam on this sandwich. Matter of fact, it’s not Hawaiian either.

The Toast Hawaii is a German thing, if you can wrap your head around it. It may have taken its inspiration from the flavors of the Hawaiian islands, but all signs indicate this simple little slice of Heaven was cooked up by the German Gordon Ramsey, Clemens Wilmenrod himself. You may have not have heard of him, memorialized forever in song and story, so famed in his homeland and abroad for his improvisation in the kitchen during times of austerity. like a regular Clara Cannucciari.

And really, I feel like no one needed me to tell them all of this. You can tell at a glance that this is a simple sandwich, of the rare one-bread variety. Open-face, they call them. It’s a simple construction, and also a simple pleasure, most common in west Germany during very trying times. All you need to make it is the fixins and a flame—toast, ham, cheese, pineapple ring, and a maraschino cherry. Hell. I dunno about you, but I could go for one of those.

I wonder if they’re any good with Spam?

Photo Credit: Vagabond Summer

Youtube Rabbit Hole: Great Depression Cooking

Wisdom > Power > Courage holla holla hyrule BOO-yah

Tattoo Guy: “You want to get the Triforce tattooed… where?”

Me: *v.quiet* “Uhhhmm, yes, just around my eyes, my pupils…nmnn..

Tattoo Guy: “Speak up. You have to tell me what you really want. Don’t be embarrassed, kid. Where do you want me to tattoo the Triforce?”

Me: *beginning v.quiet but my voice just rises & rises into a roar* “—my pupils & my eyes & in my ESSENCE & my SOUL!!!”

He jams the needle in my third psionic eye as my body is propelled upward into the clouds with sword in hand towards journeys most fantastic

Youtube Rabbit Hole: Boozie Bad Azz

A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Cucumber

Do you recall when we discovered yesterday that the bacon sandwich is—according to wikipedia—a sandwich of UK origin? Do you remember how we all found that at least a little bit odd? No more. Let us not feel alienated. Check this sandwich out: this sandwich knows where it comes from. This soft and crispy little glory is as English as can be.

I wanna make it mighty clear right now that I fuck with cucumber sandwiches. These are delicate sandies, in a whole different corner of the proverbial store from the po’boys previously discussed. Where some sandwiches are all about math—y’know, with a focus on girth, mass, and real big loads—this sandwich is about craft. Art. A lightness of touch. If “poofter” weren’t to this day still an insult of some fair degree, I’d say this is the kind of sandwich that would best be handled by fingers rather poofty indeed.

We commence with crustless white bread. Cut it gently. It must be soft.

Butter your bread with room temperature butter. Butter it lightly—lightly…all the way to the edge of the slice.

Now, the cucumbers should be sitting aside with a thin all-over coating of lemon juice and salt. They should be skinless, thin enough to snap in twain, but not so thin as tissue. They should not be particularly wet. Take care, love, careful, careful. Mustn’t moisten the sandwich.

Cucumber sandwiches, as you can imagine, are a light snack, a daytime snack. Polite patio finger food for a visit with mom. The kind of sandwich that you eat with sunglasses on, absentmindedly. Like little cu-cu wafers.

There’s also always been something calming about the essence of the cucumber—the quality of its water, its coldness, its reputation for being refreshing. It’s a sandwich that feels good to eat. We’ve started very meat-heavy, I know—but our journey through the sandwiches will be an odyssey for omnivores. Make sure to bring your open mind.

Photo credit: Telegraph.co.uk

Tea Recommendation: Twinings

Youtube Rabbit Hole: Allie Knight’s trucking videos

Another Fun Thing that We Could Do, IN SPACE

I hope that you’re enjoying the occasional lunchtime sandwich thing. I get fulfillment out of writing them—heck, it’s my pretty earnest hope that we’re all getting something out of it. Hungry, maybe.

Anyway, that’ll continue. But I’ve been brainstorming this evening, yes I have… some tornadic inspiration! This most blustery eve. We’ve figured out how to make the site a lunchtime hotspot. But what about the nighttime? What about… Twitter After Dark…?

I propose we do a nocturne journey through the art of space music. I don’t know shit about it. Neither do you. Let’s discover it together…

All… freaky-like…

…In the Dark…?

Youtube Rabbit Hole (Tell Me You’re Not Down With This): And the Stars Go With You

Photo credit: pics-about-space.com