Raw & Unfiltered

Few things are as disturbing to me as fake positivity.

I recently saw a speech by one of those hyper-motivated types. He described how he gets up at 3:30AM, looks at photos of the things he’s thankful for, listens to recordings of his own affirmations while exercising, eats a nutritious breakfast, counts his calories, keeps track of how many positive things he says to other people throughout the day—all that crap.

This kind of person is a bomb that could go off at any moment. A person has to be incredibly emotionally unstable to require all that regimentation just to get through the day. You can easily picture them clutching their knees, rocking back and forth in a dark corner, repeating: “I’m happy, everything is OK! I’m happy, everything is OK!” It’s essentially what they’re already doing.

This is the type of person who suddenly snaps, brings a Kalashnikov to work one day and, with a giddy giggle, starts mowing down co-workers and colleagues.

There is something to be said for the ability to properly express depression, existential angst, and general outrage at the unfairness and pointlessness of the universe.

If you’re healthy, you can handle a good bout at feeling shitty—and not only that, you can come out of it refreshed, as if you’ve vomited out poison or shed an old skin.

Yeah, it’s childish to mope and say/write depressive things and demand that others listen to your whiny crap, and it’s embarrassing later. But consider the alternative: smothering your real feelings with contrived happy thoughts that aren’t really yours. That sort of double-think compounds major depression because it convinces you that you’re happy when you really aren’t.

The best method, in my experience, is to just ride it out and get the full awfulness of an episode of depression. Mine usually get to the point that I give consideration to suicide. At some point, it bursts. The anger and the sadness reach critical volume and collapse under their own weight. I gradually muscle my way out from underneath it. I dust myself off and I move on without having to fake a feeling.

It seems far healthier to me to face the fact that we’re depressed, let ourselves say some stupid shit we don’t really mean, and then shake it off and carry on with life.


It’s hard to tell whether I’m crazy or not.

A few new studies have come to my attention. They all indicate that I should get the fuck out of this basin of smog as soon as I can.

The problem is called PM2.5—particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size. New research has shown that breathing this shit for a long period of time causes physical changes to the hippocampus, specifically shortened dendrites of decreased complexity. This is associated with impaired learning and memory; one of the hippocampus’ main jobs is moving new information from short-term memory to long-term storage.

The reason that PM2.5, or “fine particulate matter”, is of concern is that it is small enough to cross the air-blood barrier in the brain and travel to various tissues.

But the study was done on mice. What about humans?

Turns out, the study was prompted by findings by Mexican scientists. They examined the brains of accident victims—children and young adults—from Mexico City (which has terrible air pollution) and Veracruz (which has relatively cleaner air). They found that the brains from Mexico city “showed more extensive inflammation, oxidized DNA and other pathological markers of Alzheimer’s disease.”

All right. But what about long-term effects?

A 2010 study involving 680 men linked black carbon emissions (a marker of traffic-related air pollution) with impaired cognitive function. Even when their scores were adjusted to compensate for social and educational differences, the men who lived in areas with heavier air pollution performed worse on cognitive tests than those who didn’t.

I’ve written before about how important brain health is to me. I consider my brain to be me. And it’s not even just me, but my universe. It’s the mechanism I use to see and understand the world, and it’s my library of all my experiences and memories. Few things are more important to me.

I now have to carefully consider the real implications of this information. The correlation and causation seem to be there—but how much would I really be affected? Am I willing to be affected at all? How much have I already been affected?

The real question is: am I being obsessive about this? Is it irrational that I want to get out of here within a few years because of this, in spite of the fact that I otherwise love living here?

One thing this new information has really fucked up is my bike rides. I used to take 20-mile rides a few times a week. I’m not so sure that’s a good idea anymore.

I can just add this to the list of 218 other very important things I need to work out very quickly.

I’ve always envied people with command over their own bowels. Some people can go sit over a toilet, and their bowels will obediently begin their undulating sphincter rhythms to void their contents. That is as incredible to me as having conscious control over your own heartbeat.

Bowel movements for people like me happen at the evil stinky whim of our gut-minds. The bowel will retain its putrid load until it feels like discharging it, defying my orders even when commanded by the brain it to do its job. And it will insist on disgorging its foul contents whenever it wants to, no matter how inopportune a time it may be. If I’m unable to comply with its demands, if I have no choice but to forcibly restrain its efforts, it will take revenge with a series of spasms and contractions, and it will voice its complaints with horrible bubbles of fetid gas.

“In contrast to the remainder of the peripheral nervous system … the enteric nervous system does not necessarily follow commands it receives from the brain or spinal cord; nor does it inevitably send the information it receives back to them. The enteric nervous system can, when it chooses, process data its sensory receptors pick up all by themselves, and it can act on the basis of those data to activate a set of effectors that it alone controls. The enteric nervous system is thus not a slave of the brain but a contrarian, independent spirit in the nervous organization of the body. It is a rebel, the only element of the peripheral nervous system that can elect not to do the bidding of the brain or spinal cord.”
—Michael Gershon, The Second Brain

“Pooping is the orgasm of the butt hole,” a friend once told me. His words have stuck with me over the years.

As a male, I don’t have a large a large opening in my body lined with massive bundles of erogenous nerves. As such, I can’t closely compare the euphoria of passing a satisfying stool to sex—but I would say that of the most pleasurable bodily feelings a human can have, pooping is probably number two. Pun very much intended.

This isn’t just about pooping, really. What’s really fascinating to me is the long tube that runs through our bodies, regulating what parts of what we eat will be integrated into our bodies, lined with so many nerve cells that it constitutes its own nervous system.

The inside of your esophagus, stomach, intestines, and bowels are actually the outside of your body. The sugars, proteins, fats, electrolytes—none of this stuff is part of your body until it crosses the lining of this mucosal labyrinth into the bloodstream. Your body is a club and the intestine is the bouncer.

The use of a cavity with selectively permeable walls for digestion goes way back to the beginning of animal evolution. It’s more or less unique to animals, so no other organisms get to experience this sort of interaction with their environment. (I sometimes imagine plants to experience orgasmic pleasure when sunlight hits their leaves, but that doesn’t make sense at all.)

Interacting with us in this cavity are trillions of bacteria: our cousins, billions of years removed. Without them, our body’s digestion strategy would not work. Our relationship with our gut bacteria is so complex that we’re just beginning to understand it.

Some highlights:

Some doctors are even doing research into the use of fecal bacteriopathy for the purpose of treating anxiety and depression. That’s an amazing though to me: the idea that you can feel better about life by sticking someone else’s poo up your ass in order to acquire nice microbes that will whisper sweet things to your brain through your nervous system.

I think about the antibiotics that swept through my intestines as a child and throughout my life, all the sterilized foods I ate, the disagreeable dairy products (especially cheese, which I will probably never eat again)—and then I think about my lack of control over my rebellious guts, and the pain and suffering that I’ve endured because of it—and I feel pretty sure that there’s a connection there.

The peak of my bad relations with my guts was when I developed hemorrhoids at 22. Hemorrhoids, those painful little fuckers, are the only proof a creationist should ever need that our bodies were not designed. Mine were the result of a terrible diet consisting of way too much dairy, lack of exercise, and probably dehydration caused by marijuana use. Not a great time in my life.

(Interesting side note: when the doctor told me about drinking more water, he mentioned that people in the desert/dry states actually have larger assholes than people from the mid-west and east coast because our shits are of a higher caliber. It’s a medical fact.)

People can search all they like for the perfect diet, but I doubt there is such a thing. I don’t think there was some paleolithic golden age of human digestion in which we ate only what we were “meant” to. Since our ancestors ventured out of the trees and onto the savannah, our evolution has lagged slightly behind us. Our digestive system is actually pretty adaptable and omnivorous compared to most other animals. This gave us a huge edge in spreading across the globe.

All this isn’t to say that I’m not going to experiment with paleo-esque eating. The downsides are nil and the potential benefits are huge. All I’m saying is not to expect me to give up bread, sushi, or beer.

I’ll have to end it there because I just cleaned the bathroom, and my hypochondria is telling me that the chemicals in the completely non-toxic cleaners I used have gone to my brain and made me stupid.

That, or I’m not exactly sure how to end this entry because I didn’t even have a premise to begin with. Since it has no real beginning and no ending, I’ll just have to hope this entry was good as a big fat middle of something.

Sorry, my brain cells are undergoing a psychosomatic mass die-off.


from Arthur Rackham's illustrations of Wagner's Ring

Illustratrion of Wagner's Ring by Arthur Rackham

Today is the day that everyone (by which I mean, those of us living in the Greatest Country in the Fucking World) takes a moment to be thankful for all the things they take for granted the other 364 days a year. Most of them will talk about how grateful they are to have a happy, functional family, friends, food, health—all that stuff.

But that’s boring to write about. I am thankful for all these things, but I make a point to be grateful for all these sorts of things every day. This is not because I’m a fantastic person (I’m not), but because I’m greedy when it comes to happiness and I want more.

I’m going to take a moment today to be explicitly thankful for all the things that would be indecent for me to mention in conversation.

I’m thankful for having a penis. It’s a wonderful organ, a knob of pleasure nerves between my legs that grows turgid when I get close to something I like. It’s my medium through which I hear the voice that all my ancestors heard, which when I interact with another human with no penis and larger breasts and wider hips, says to me: “Yes!”

My penis is my compass needle—my big, thick, stiff compass needle with a blunted end—pointing ever in the direction of happiness.

But it doesn’t end there. I’m thankful for all the perks and advantages that come with having a penis.

I’m thankful for the capacity for bone-headed, simple-minded thought that females just don’t seem to have. That voice that says, “Pleasure now and fuck the consequences!” I’m thankful for the ability to shut off the analytical portion of my brain, to temper my need to understand, to under-analyze instead of over-analyze—the opposite of which is the curse that so many girls have to deal with.

My dick enables me to listen to the voice that says, “Decision now, and if it’s a mistake then fuck it, who cares?!”

I’m thankful for the breaks I’m able to take from my emotions that women can’t. I’m thankful for the disconnection between feelings and sex that I have, somewhere deep in my sanctum of suppressed male powers. I haven’t made use of it as much as I should have because I’m too much of a moral bastard, but it’ll happen. You’ll see.

I’m thankful for my male ability to box my thoughts, to have just one thing on my mind at a time. A woman’s consciousness is a web of thoughts and worries and preoccupations and conversation topics—and the whole network is electrified with emotion. But not mine. I can peruse the shelves of my mind, remove one book from those shelves, and just read that. It’s wonderful.

I’m thankful for readers who allow me to make sweeping generalizations and gross over-simplifications.

But you know what I’m thankful for, most of all?

I’ll tell you.

Being a heterosexual male allows me to ability to see feminine beauty. Girls don’t get to see it—they understand it only superficially—and I would contend that lesbians have a different attraction to women than men do.

The best thing about being male is seeing the beauty in women. It’s not even the raw, animal pleasure of their breasts and their buttocks and thighs—though those are wonderful things—but the more subtle things that girls only understand as “pretty.” The delicate features of a female face. Her narrow shoulders, much smaller than mine. The soft warmth of her body—a woman’s body should be soft. The gentle curve of her abdomen—no muscles, but smooth and elegant. The curves of her legs. Her slender neck that tightens just a little when I kiss it. Her voice.

These are all attractive on a physical level, but that’s because they’re interlaced with something deeper. We recognize all of these features to be _the feminine_, which is something worth living for—even worth fighting and dying for. It’s a misunderstanding to believe that men fight wars and hunt food and invent wheels for access to vaginas. That may be part of it on some level, but it’s more profound than that. The feminine is the future, not just of our own genes but of humanity itself. It nags you to get up off your ass and do something; it encourages you to accomplish everything you’re capable of, and ignore fear; it loves you with a look in its eye that nurtures your confidence in yourself. The feminine makes you feel masculine. A woman makes you feel like a man.

Take a look again at the illustration at the top of this post, and you’ll get some idea of what I’m talking about.

What I’m really thankful for is the women in my life who have provided that unique, powerful feminine influence.

I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

—Kurt Vonnegut

Blonde girl with a big beautiful ass

If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

I saw a kid get hit by a truck a couple days ago.

I’m riding my bike through the neighborhood on my way to the river trail. My memory banks run in short-term mode; everything is normal, my brain processes only immediate navigational information. No data worth storing for more than a few seconds.

Something small and fast darts out in front of the truck coming the other way. I realize that it’s a child, about four years old. He’s holding a bag of chips and has no idea that a truck is about to transfer its kinetic energy into his body.

The next salient memory is the pop and crunch when the bumper and grille of the truck make contact with the boy. (My brain instantly archives this sound for long-term storage.) Underneath that sound somewhere is the squealing of rubber on asphalt. The boy tumbles through the air and lands about ten feet in front of the truck, lying on his back.

Three seconds of intense silence.

And then the boy’s sister, maybe eight years old, starts screaming. The driver gets out, shaking and obviously scared to look at what’s lying in front of his truck.

A door opens way too fast and smashes against the wall it’s bolted to. The boy’s mother rushes out of their house, shrieking in a discordant, otherworldly pitch. She runs across the street herself, not looking for other oncoming traffic.

I tell her not to move the boy. His spine, his head, his internal organs—moving him could kill him.

She doesn’t hear me or doesn’t listen. She picks him up in her arms (he’s that small) and starts screaming at the boy’s sister, who was supposed to be watching him.

I’ve got my phone out. I’m calling an ambulance.

“No policia,” a man next to me says. Everyone on the street heard the accident. A small crowd has gathered outside. This guy’s younger than me, tattooed, looks like a gangster.

The boy is crying now. He’s not dead—but he’s not moving. His head is covered in blood. It’s running down his mother’s arms.

All I can do is stare at the guy. My eyes say, really?

“No policia,” he repeats.

I put my phone away.

The last thing I see before I clip my shoe into the pedal and ride away is the mother looking up at the sky and blathering, “Dios something something, Jesus something something.”

All I could think about—because I didn’t feel like reviewing the accident in my mind—was how strange it was that despite this pointless tragedy she still believed some all-powerful force was up there, and that it gave a damn about her. About any of us.

You have to adopt strange ways of thinking in order to cope with living on this planet.

This is the third night this week I’ve woken up in the middle of the night—naked and humping my bed. I can’t recall dreaming about sex. I’m just going crazy.

I give myself about three weeks before the forces that drive me to procreate drive me to insanity instead.

I curse evolution for making females feel like sluts for having sex for pleasure. This negative feeling used to serve a purpose, back when it was crucial for a female to select a male who would stick with her and help provide for their child. Now we have contraception. Ignoring other factors like disease, there’s no reason for her to feel dirty about having a lot of sex. That’s just nature fucking with her mind.

Sluts are great. They enjoy sex, they’re unafraid of men, they’re powerful. They have more fun.

But whores have driven evolution—they’ve made the human species what it is. Whores are different from sluts: they will have sex with a man, but only if he pays. They feel slutty if he just pays in cash, so they accept indirect payment in the form of dinner, gifts, and compliments. (Female primates do this too; they have sex with males who bring them meat, or they mate with a high-ranking male to increase their offspring’s social ranking.) This has been the most successful survive-and-procreate strategy for females for generations.

Whores invented the word “slut” to make the females who have sex for pleasure (rather than other benefits) feel bad. Whores hate sluts because sluts have gone over to the enemy; they give men for free what whores demand payment for. Whores have to keep the sluts at bay, or the males won’t pay the whores anymore.

Perhaps this is the way it needs to be if we’re going to survive as a species. Maybe. But in any case, we should all take a moment to make sluts feel appreciated.

This is the worst thing I’ve ever written.

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