The shadows guard against wordless posturing. Only when removed from the light can we begin to shed any semblance of who we were never meant to be.
This message is as meaningless as the video is useless, but it still might be my favorite thing I’ve made this year.
On October 1 I committed myself to the regrettable idea of trying to find freelance work online. It in looking online where I screwed up though, but in how I went about doing so. “Hi, I’m currently seeking writing, photo & video work. If you’d like to talk about a project, please let me know at: email@example.com.” I opened up a few social media accounts and slapped that pitch in there, thinking that I’d test it out — releasing a few lures each day in the form of old photos or blog posts I’d written — then sit back and wait to see if something would come my way. Maybe I’d post updates along the way on my blog here, calling them “Casually Trying to Find Work,” or some such bullshit. A spreadsheet was involved — that alone should speak volumes. I suppose my intentions were good, but it wasn’t until day 10 or so that it dawned on me just how hacky and unnatural all of this was. I might as well have printed business cards that said, “Hi, my name’s Chris, and I’m a colossal freakin’ douche canoe.”
The past few months have seen a resurgence of the “indie web”; a blogging renaissance, of sorts. A variety of publishing, tech, and media folk are writing for themselves again, on their own websites, about stuff that doesn’t fit in with a “content strategy” or “brand aesthetic.” “Some six weeks ago I began to contemplate a few changes to my small nook on the web,” writes Craig Mod. “As tends to happen, minuscule changes to font sizes trickled into deeper typographic investigations, barreled into layout grid updates, resulted in a total gutting of the site, which conspired to an overall simplification and reevaluation of the purpose [my blog].” There it was kind of neat to see someone smarter than me doing something I was sorta doing, too. “For me,” adds Lockhart Steele, “the web ecosystem will always be bloggy at its core. I’m looking forward to being a part of it again myself.” Cool stuff, but while they were looking for new beginnings I’ve been seeking closure.
It was fun to momentarily revisit ideas of a blogging schedule or some sort of personal editorial mission, but that sort of plotting comes in contrast to a summer spent distancing myself from my online self. I gutted my Facebook profile, abandoned (another) Twitter account, and consolidated all my online tentacles under this digital roof. So much has changed — at least for me, blogging just can’t be the same now as it used to be. Then again, thinking back on how much of a self-obsessive headache its led to in the past, this is probably for the best.
Discussion jumps about, though it mostly stays within a vague orbit around how the work that was being done seemed like work that was worth doing. Reflection brings history into the realm of binary: now only good or bad, seen through a vantage point which offers distance and clarity that was not entirely possible when caught up in the whirlwind. But five hours away, that whirlwind is blowing out of control. “We’ve done everything we can to demonstrate a remarkable amount of restraint,” says the police chief as those charged with protecting and serving in Ferguson, MO take an unprovoked turn for the militant, aiming weapons at spectators and firing tear gas at journalists. “Remember when that thing happened in Nevada with the Rancher and cops showed up and there were people photographed in sniper positions with their guns aimed at law enforcement officers?,” asks a virtual onlooker. “How did that manage to happen there without every single person in that group getting mowed down with SWAT teams and MRAPs and all these fucking military weapons that the cops are using in Ferguson? What was the big difference between those groups? What would happen if there were snipers on rooftops in Ferguson aiming their guns at these police?” “Watching the news & singing along to Marvin Gaye’s little-known remake of his classic, ‘Seriously What In the Everloving F**k Is Going On’ ” exhales Jay Smooth on Twitter. I don’t know. Where does the pressure go? Maybe this will all look different, eventually.
There’s a taco truck on the corner of Wedgewood & 12th where, earlier in the day, I celebrated one of my best friends’ birthdays by buying him a burrito and a sweet tea. We sat on the tailgate of his truck while we ate and talked: It was his direction in life and what he’s feeling balanced by my own, what we’re going through, what we want in life, what we don’t want in life, so on and so on. Later, Salsa on the southwestern edge of downtown for Hummus with Churrasco, a sweet sauce garnishing the still-pink meat, each bite laced with an ample portion of the salty spread and placed over one of the many chewy and savory dough vehicles, washed down by a couple of Diet Cokes. Walking out onto the deck after the meal was over, the instant became one of calming, the restaurant just far enough away from the tourist sector to remain peaceful, and not yet overrun with young urban types who make pornography out of their food, posing it and angling the light for maximum exposure. Who is the picture for? What is it supposed to say? But how can you not take a picture of something that looks so good?
The food was wonderful and I want to remember how good that moment felt despite how much confusion and pressure there is right now, is what this particular picture was supposed to say: Sitting outside with an elbow up on the wooden ledge, stuck between recalling what happened in order to get there and looking forward to the possibility of what’s yet to come, mustering only a smile while just being overwhelmed by it all. The work that seemed like good work doesn’t always end up feeling that way as time goes on. The people who seemed like good people don’t always end up being who you wanted them to be. What we want in life changes, who we want to be with changes, and what we don’t want changes, too. It’s impossible to retroactively be proud of every last action that happened along the way, or reflect without doubt and guilt that you might never learn how to get life right. The current blueprint seems the way to go for now though: keep trying to learn, to experience, to taste, to love, and just let loose a joke and laugh when you have no idea what in the ever-loving fuck is going on around you.
For about a month I worked at FedEx, picking up boxes at the mouth of a semi-truck after they’d shot down a big metal shoot. I picked them up and I stacked them. Sometimes the boxes were small, sometimes they were massive. Sometimes the queue seemed endless, sometimes it was manageable. The last few days there broke me. I only did the job a few hours a day but when I came home I was beat. When I woke up I was already gassed for the day. I couldn’t give two weeks notice when I quit. I couldn’t physically continue to do the job. I just called my manager and left a message. Shortly after my shift that day would have started he called me asking what was up, why I wasn’t there. I asked if he’d not received my message and reiterated my excuse: It was just taking too much out of me. His reaction told me he’d heard that before. He said goodbye, I said goodbye. That was that.