Posts tagged: Melancholy

Family Loss

By , February 11, 2016

This past weekend I delivered the eulogy at my Aunt Mary’s burial mass. Unsurprisingly, I spent much of the 48 hours prior thinking about what I would say. As I began composing what would become the eulogy I found myself lamenting not just the death of my beloved aunt, but the disappearance of an entire way of life that she represented.

The house in which I grew up was next door to that of my aunt and uncle, and most of my earliest childhood memories include them as often as they do my own parents. My two older brothers blur together with my three cousins next door. Numerous other relatives lived within either walking, or short driving, distance, and my entire childhood in Hawthorne is an unending melange of family members coming and going. Most notably, Sundays were full of family, as my grandparents had always come to Aunt Mary’s house every week after mass, which meant that all the other relatives usually came, too. The cast varied, but every Sunday, week after week for 25 or 30 years, members of the Gioia, Dragotto, Galatioto, Cicinelli, Leone, and Gallante families, to name but a few, came together to eat, drink, talk, play pinochle, share family stories, or watch television. I have but the dimmest recollection, if even any at all, of my Sicilian grandparents, but the Sunday tradition continued even after their deaths. My oldest brother has the clearest memories of these weekly gatherings, and he says it wasn’t unusual for him to be one of 15 or 20 children present, along with countless adult aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, spouses, and others in attendance every Sunday.

For me, being surrounded by family in some capacity was a constant, until one day, it wasn’t. Crime in Los Angeles, especially the area in which we lived, had grown so bad that we had no choice but to move. My father owned a shoe store, and after yet another robbery at gunpoint my parents decided to sell the house and the store and move six hours north to Sonoma County. While the move was undoubtedly for the best in terms of safety, and clean air, it meant we suddenly had no family anywhere nearby. We weren’t the only ones, either. Family by family, we all left Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, moving to cities that were safer and serener, but also sterile and solitary. Where once we saw family every day, and gathered en masse after mass every Sunday, we now see each other perhaps every 10 to 15 years, at either a wedding or a funeral. Case in point: this weekend I met adults who were infants the last time I saw them.

I know ours wasn’t the only large family of Italians that once gathered at least once a week, and I’m equally certain that most who did, no longer do. The breakup of our clan mirrors that of most immigrant families in America. Before the 1970s, it was unusual if first and second generation immigrant families did not live, if not on the same block as multiple family members, then within a mile or two of nearly all their relatives. A family bought a house, and everyone moved in. As the family grew, or could afford to buy another home, they bought the house next door, or across the street. This began with immigrants congregating in specific parts of town, as when my grandfather came to the U.S. and moved into a tenement on Elizabeth Street, in New York’s Little Italy, because that block was populated not just by Sicilians, but primarily by Sicilians specifically from his hometown of Castellammare del Golfo. The next block was also Sicilian, but Sicilians from a different city. It was no surprise that when he met his wife, who lived on the same block as him, she was another Castellammarese.

Even as the family moved West, first to Detroit, then later to Los Angeles, the tradition of families living in close proximity continued, as did the tradition of immigrants from the same region moving to the same part of a city, and we were but one of many large Italians families living in Hawthorne. Living amongst others from the same Old Country made sense when it came time to marry off the younger, American-born, generation. In fact, when the Depression hit, my grandparents sent their eldest son to Los Angeles to scout for opportunity. He met with another Sicilian family and sent word for the rest of the family to move. The Gioias trekked across the country and stayed for a few nights with that family, the Dragottos, until they found a home of their own. Later, that eldest Gioia son would marry a Dragotto daughter, and the youngest Gioia, my recently departed and dearly missed Aunt Mary, would marry a younger Dragotto son, my Uncle Jack. (It was something of a minor crisis in my family when my father didn’t marry the Sicilian girl who’d been hand-picked for him by his family, and instead married a Mexican girl, but she was quickly adopted into the family and in short time became as Italian as anyone else.)

The automobile, then the interstate highway system, then the airplane, and now the internet have all served to give people greater mobility, and have also served to break up the close familial unit. As a society, we’ve tried to replace family with friends, often united by some shared interest. Whether it’s fans of the same sports team gathering regularly to watch their team’s games, either at a stadium or someone’s home, science fiction buffs attending weekly role-playing game sessions, or friends who bonded over an appreciation for some sub-genre of music meeting regularly at live shows or discotheques to listen, and dance, to their favorite bands together, there is usually some unifying force around which these friends rally, but whatever that force, it never seems as strong as the bond that family provides.

Friends move, interests change, former best friends marry and begin to raise children, and disputes or breakups polarize friendships. Perhaps most notably, age separates friends. Few, if any, groups of friends run the age gamut from infant to septuagenarian, as common interests, not to mention societal mores, don’t typically promote such interactions. The bond of family offers something else, a sort of true connection and shared history, the weight of which can’t be matched within a circle of friends. Your grandchildren will never care how your friend’s friend met his wife, but they will relish the tale of how your grandparents met.

What does this all mean? Hell if I know. About the only thing that I do know is that my generation had something important, something that dated back 200,000 years to the emergence of man and lasted until about the mid-1970s, taken from it during our childhood, and that subsequent generations will never even have that something to begin with. I think not having a large family in close proximity at all times has created a massive and unfillable void in our collective lives, and try as we might to replace that need with the ephemeral substitute of friends, we’ll never find a true replacement for what a family offers.

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Scoring My Life

By , December 31, 2010

In November, while I was packing my life away, I found an old journal in which I had begun to keep a sort of score for each year of my life. I had a running tally going, with each year earning either a 1 or a 0. If the year in question had been better than the previous year, it earned a point. If it had been worse, it did not.

What with today being the final day of 2010 and all, it seems like the perfect time to share my scores with you. The journal was from many years ago, so I have filled in scores for the subsequent years. I suppose without some sort of commentary, it will be a meaningless set of numbers, so I will try to annotate it in places.

1995 1
1996 0
1997 1
1998 1
1999 1
2000 1 (I fell in love for the first time)
2001 1
2002 1
2003 1 (2001-3 is a big, long blur of contentment)
2004 0 (Mom got sick)
2005 -1 (worst year ever)
2006 1 (how could it have been worse than ’05? also, pretty good in general– traveled for first time)
2007 0 (transitional crappy year of blah and bad judgement)
2008 1/-1 (started super happy but it all fell apart by the end)
2009 1 (moved from LA to Oakland, made new friends, had best summer of life)
2010 0 (everything fizzled out, ended up homeless in Africa)

My score in life thus far is 9 out of a possible 16. That would have been a failing grade in school, but I have a hunch life is graded on a curve, so I don’t feel so bad. Plus, I hope I have at least a few more years left in me to run up the score a bit.

As you can see, I had a long run of good years, followed by some uneven times, and while my recent life has been somewhat lacking in the happiness department, I have a sense that better things are to come. For the first time in six years I feel little sparks of my old self flickering inside of me.

My life has been peppered with so many dreadful events since 2004, and I feel as though I numbly staggered through them without being affected in any meaningful way. It’s as if I stopped caring that bad things were happening to me, and felt no desire to seek good things. I let life wash over me. I bet there is a clearer way to state this, but I find myself unable to do so at the moment. The best way to put it is to say that for nearly six years I have felt extremely detached from the world around me: I could see my life falling apart around me, but had no drive or desire to prevent it from happening.

Now I care again. Of course, my life is an absolute wreck, but at least I want to fix it. I don’t know if I can do so, and I may be doomed, but that is not as important to me right now as the fact that I don’t want to be doomed. Before, ironically, when I still had the means to prevent it, I didn’t care that my life was disintegrating, and even if I now fail at rebuilding it, knowing that I once again want a happy life makes all the difference.

Do I have a New Year’s Resolution? To take active steps to make sure in a year’s time my score for 2011 is +1.

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Arcade Fire + Calexico at the Greek Theater

By , October 3, 2010

For awhile, I went to concerts all the time– at least weekly I saw some band somewhere. I don’t go nearly that often anymore, but I promised myself I’d see the Arcade Fire when they next came to town. Too often in the past a band I adored would come through town and I’d not bother to see them, telling myself, “I’ll see them next time they tour.” Unfortunately, too many of my favorite bands have either disbanded or stopped touring, and I now regret missing the chance to see them perform.

The Arcade Fire are pretty much my favorite active band, so yesterday I showed up at Berkeley’s Greek Theater without a ticket and planted myself on queue. Many times in the past I’ve had spare tickets to a show, and turned down large amounts of cash from scalpers to instead sell them at face value to regular folks. I once sold two tickets to see Hot Chip for $35 each, right in front of a scalper offering me $80 per ticket. It seemed the right thing to do, and yesterday that good will came back my way, for I had not been in line but ten minutes when a girl lined up a few spots behind me and indicated that she had a ticket to sell. She sold it to me for the face value of $46. Had I bought one online when they went on sale I’d have paid $60 due to the additional service fees, so I really made out well.

While waiting the 90 minutes for the gates to open, I befriended a few people in line near me. We played hearts to pass the time. Meanwhile, I tried to get in touch with my friend Mike, whom I knew was going to be at the show, but he was incommunicado; I think he was drunk in San Francisco at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and barely made it out to Berkeley in time for the show; but I had made new friends, so I watched with them.

I found a great spot, dead center, about 10 people back from the stage. Calexico came on and were great– I like them enough that I’d have paid to see them by themselves, so it was an unexpected bonus to find that they were the support act. It was like the time I showed up to see Belle & Sebastian and unbeknownst to me New Pornographers were the support act. Two great bands for the price of one!

Somethin’ filled up
My heart with nothin’,
Someone told me not to cry.

Arcade Fire put on an outstanding show. They enjoyed what they were doing and it showed. By this point into their career they have four albums to draw from for material, and they pulled the greatest bits from each of them. They pieced together a set that built to a crescendo, and at times I felt as if I were at an opera rather than a rock concert. When they played “Ocean of Noise” I could feel something welling up inside me, which only built when the Calexico trumpeters joined them on stage for the songs finale. When they followed it up with “Tunnels,” my personal favorite song of theirs, I will not lie– a tear or two rolled down my cheek. Something about hearing that song brought me back to 2005, and losing Mom, and losing Sue, and what pretty much amounted to the beginning of the end of my life as I knew it then.

And since there’s no one else around,
We let our hair grow long
And forget all we used to know.
Then our skin gets thicker
From living out in the snow.

Later, as the band blended seamlessly from “Power’s Out” into “Rebellion (Lies),” I think I was the first person in the pit to recognize what song was coming on. Leave it to a DJ to identify what song is showing up next in a mix. Soon enough everyone else caught on and the entire crowd lost it.

I left the Greek in a state of hyper-aware elation, feeling spiritually moved in a way I’d expected and hoped church experiences would affect me in my younger, god-fearing, days, though they invariably failed to do so. There’s a deep sense of the real in the message of the Arcade Fire’s lyrics, and coupled with their epic and catchy music, I don’t think anyone walked out of last night’s show unmoved.

To sum it all up in layman’s terms, I had about as much fun at a concert as I have had in recent memory; I almost want to go see their encore performance tonight at the Greek.

Lastly, for are curious, here to the best of my memory is the setlist for the show:

Ready to Start
Month of May
Keep the Car Running
Laika
No Cars Go
Haiti
Sprawl II
Modern Man
Rococo
The Suburbs
Ocean of Noise
Tunnels
We Used to Wait
Powers Out
Rebellion (Lies)
-encore-
Intervention
Wake Up

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Remembering Ian Curtis

By , May 18, 2010

I attended public school until the end of junior high, but once I hit the 9th grade, my parents enrolled me into the nearest Catholic high school. I found myself thrust into a brand new school, populated mainly by children from wealthy families, nearly all of whom had grown up together and gone through the same private school system since preschool. I was a 13-year old kid, already feeling the uncertainty and disorientation that comes with that age and the leap to high school, and I was completely out of my element. I was surrounded by kids from an utterly different background, all of whom were ensconced in long-formed cliques. I had little in common with anyone at the school, and as the school was an hour’s bus ride from my home, I didn’t even have any friends in the area to whom I could turn. I could not have been any more lost or alone.

Had my life been a Hollywood teen film, I would have accidentally befriended a popular and wealthy student who would have been enamored of my lower-class upbringing. After some humorous early false-starts, our friendship would have cemented over some exciting incident, and by the final reel, he would have introduced me into high society and I would have spent my remaining high school years enjoying friendship and popularity. I’d like to think I would have dated a cheerleader. However, as I actually dwell in the real world, I made no such friend. Instead, I drifted from one awkward false start to the next, and didn’t form close bonds with anyone; I was too athletic and tough to be a geek, but too poor and punk rock to be popular. I ended up a loner.

I cut class one day early in the school year, and ended up at a nearby record shop. At the shop, I purchased Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division’s first album. I was mesmerized by its iconic Peter Saville pulsar cover; that somber image summed up my mood so precisely that I bought the record without even being fully aware of who the band were. I carted the record around town with me for the remainder of the day, not quite sure what I had, but hoping it would live up to its promise. How could it not? Those stark, white lines radiating from the all-black background promised something foreboding and otherworldly; that night at home, I was at last able to play the record. From the opening line, I was entranced.

I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand.

I played the record over and over that night; as soon as side B finished I would flip it back over and play it from the beginning. In the voice of Ian Curtis, I had found poetry that spoke directly to my sense of isolation, and thus began a long-lasting fascination with not only the band’s music, but the singer and his life. When I learned shortly thereafter that Ian Curtis had committed suicide, the bond only grew tighter. Perhaps paradoxically, even though his lyrics were so often grim, and spoke of fear, disillusionment, and helplessness, I found something life-affirming in them. This man, who had felt so deeply the sorrows about which had sung that he had killed himself, somehow came to represent hopefulness to me. My fascination with Curtis and his music lasted well past my awkward adolescent years; just look at the title I chose for my blog.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death. In the three decades since his departure, his influence and legend have only grown. Joy Division, a band virtually unknown when I was in high school, today enjoys huge popularity. Movies have been made about the band, and about Curtis’ life, and it would not be a stretch to say that the band today enjoys more popularity than ever before. Yet to me, Ian Curtis and Joy Division remain a very personal facet of my life. When I had nothing of substance, Ian Curtis gave me something of depth in which to immerse myself, and offered a beacon of hopeful light at the end of what had once been Stygian emptiness.

Oh, I’ve walked on water, run through fire
Can’t seem to feel it anymore
It was me, waiting for me
Hoping for something more
Me, seeing me this time, hoping for something else.

Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis (15 July 1956 – 18 May 1980)
Love Will Tear Us Apart

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My Fake Plastic Girl

By , February 27, 2010

She looks like the real thing
She tastes like the real thing
My fake plastic love

For the most part, I’ve not read any of my old blogs since I wrote them, but as I move each one from the old url to this new one, I am more or less forced to do so while fixing links, updating the format, categorizing, tagging, summarizing and so forth. It is not easy. Sometimes I’m more than a little chagrined by the less than gripping writing or the trite choices of topics, but the hardest ones to reread are those like the Dreaming post. Reading that again evoked a complicated mixture of emotions within me, from the bittersweet to the embarrassing, and for more reasons than I can list, I want to travel back into time and smack myself over the head.

I was so unabashedly open about how in love I was. Which is fine, except that I can’t help but feel foolish in retrospect that I was going on and on about how wonderful our love was, and how amazing she was, when it was all a big joke at my expense. It isn’t as if she became a different person the day she up and disappeared; she was always that person and I was too blinded by love to see it. I realize that now, and so I look back at what I wrote I can’t help but feel awfully stupid.

The saddest thing I ever did see
Was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree.
He looks at me, and “Friend,” says he,

“Things ain’t as sweet as they used to be.”

I think the crux of what I feel when revisiting the old entries stems from the fact that I know what is to come. Just as each time I reread The Great Gatsby, I futilely hope for a happy ending, yet know all along that Gatsby is going to die, no amount of hindsight can change what I know came next in my life. If I could rewrite history by rewriting those old journal entries– if only it were that easy– I would do just that. Gone would be gushy blogs about true and perfect loves with best friends. No more would be the maudlin posts about future weddings, nor would there be any extolling the virtues of dream girls, and there most definitely would be none of these. In their place, I would write of my fake plastic girl: emotionless, selfish, dishonest, and uncaring.

If it seems like I still care, I don’t. If it seems like I am still hung up on her, I’m not. I’m past it all, and I’m again ensconced in a happy, productive life in which I am the master of my own heart and destiny. I wrote this in part because the old blogs have dredged up memories which seemed worth exploring, but mostly because amidst all the previous blogs devoted to my love for her, and later those of heartbreak for losing her, there needed to be at least one entry here that named her for what she really was– my fake plastic love.

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Goodbye John

By , August 12, 2009

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

I don’t know if I have ever blogged merely to link to another blog, but that’s sort of where today’s post is going. I’ve been trying for six days now to think of what to write about John Hughes’ death, but haven’t been able to craft anything worth sharing. Then today I read this blog and I realized why John Hughes mattered to me. It wasn’t merely that he created so many great films; he was a genuinely great guy.

I tend to ignore celebrity-related news and issues, and certainly don’t blog about them. I can’t bring myself to care. Michael Jackson’s recent death felt like such a non-issue to me, and the resultant hysteria was mystifying and disappointing to me. But last week John Hughes died, and, like I suppose most Americans my age, I took notice. Here’s an artist who actually contributed something lasting to our culture.

There is little I can offer that likely hasn’t been said before. The Breakfast Club certainly presaged the era of reality television, and the first film I’m aware of that dealt with teen issues in such a starkly real way. It is also a rarity in that it cast actual teens as teens. Weird Science is on some level a starkly realistic insight into the psyche of the teen male, as well as a too-real depiction of life for two uncool guys.

Hughes’ true masterpiece, however, as far as I’m concerned, is Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. I’ll spare you a long-winded exposition on why Generation X made the world a better place, despite the efforts of the Baby Boomers that came before them, and the OMG’ers that came after. Instead I’ll offer Ferris as the Gen-X everyman. From his day off you can glean most everything you need to know about the topic. Consider– he spent his day off attending a Cubs game, visiting the Chicago Institute of Art, watching a parade, and eating a nice lunch. Think about that for awhile, then get back to me.

As the trip to the museum is one of my favorite of all moments cinematic, I am including it in today’s post.

Finally, as a teen, and even still as an adult, I wondered– did the popular kids, portrayed in such unflattering light in his films, also like John Hughes? How could they? How dare they? Those movies were made for me… and Alison.

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Crazier Than a Bag of &#^@ Angel Dust

By , January 16, 2009

Tonight I went to the movies, and saw an entertaining and powerful, film. It tells the story of a man who started with nothing, but went on to became a huge figure in his community, and then the world. He achieved great fame seemingly overnight, and did his part to change the world, before he was tragically gunned down. It reminded me of another such film I saw last month– Milk. I suppose tonight’s film could perhaps be called Chocolate Milk, but instead it is called Notorious, and tells the story of Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G., the greatest rapper of all-time. I saw it in South Central Los Angeles, hardly a place you’d expect to extol the praises of an East Coast hip hop legend, but it played to a packed house.

Peace out, Biggie. The world still misses you.

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Lessons Learned

By , January 26, 2006

In my heart there’s flowers growin’,
On the grave of our old love

There are two kinds of people: selfish and selfless. While it may seem noble to be among the selfless, it’s also very painful. We bear the burden of the selfish. We may sleep well at night knowing we’ve done right by those around us, but we are forever at the mercy of those ready to trample us for their own gain or amusement. But do selfish people really think they’re doing anything wrong?

I don’t think people like Fizzy think of themselves as bad people. Sure, in the cosmic good/ bad scheme of things they are unquestionably the bad ones, but they must be able to justify their actions to themselves. How else can they make it through the day? I get caught up wondering stuff like “how could she?” or “why did she?” when I really should just chalk it up to the fact that it’s her nature. A selfish person takes it for granted that acting out of self interest is acceptable, rational behavior. The pain they cause those left in their wake is to them probably some sort of unfortunate byproduct that can’t be avoided. “Better you than me” most likely sums up their attitude.

I remember so many things that I should have seen as signs, but I failed to read them at the time. I was blinded by love, as they say. I remember how she always stole things from her workplace, or how she lied to her parents and sisters all the time. I remember her one day cutting all ties with her then best friend, and never telling her why or even looking back. Somehow, it never registered to me that one day I might be on the receiving end of such behavior.

So what have I learned from Fizzy? Many things, both good and bad. I know what it means to be in love with someone. Moreover, I understand that love transcends all rational thought. I know what she did was wrong, and I know I shouldn’t love her anymore, but I still do. I hope I’ll fall out of love, and if I do, I now know what true love is, and I forever have a barometer by which to measure future emotions. I’ve also learned to try not to let love blind me. I placed unconditional trust in her. I overlooked the aforementioned telltale signs, and it was my downfall. I know better now. I’m confident that one day I’ll be ready to try again with someone new, and I know better than to let my guard down. I think I can eventually trust someone again, but it won’t be without careful consideration. I know I can never be 100% sure about anyone, but maybe I can be sure enough to try again. Maybe.

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What is This? MySpace?

By , January 6, 2006

Since MySpace is all the rage these days, here is the latest ridiculous “survey” that I’ve filled out there, saved here for posterity. And for future embarrassment.

9 lasts.
last cigarette: I don’t smoke, but I had my last pretend cigarette whilst getting air outside at the Chinese Hospital casino bash
last beverage: coffee at Fenton’s
last kiss: friendly? Chloe, unless I kissed Josh tonight. I think I only bundled him up. romantic? Tzuen.
last cd played: actual CD? Brian Jonestown Massacre. Last song, Joy Division is playing now.
last bubble bath: at the Madonna Inn in October of ’04 with She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named
last time you cried: this morning :/
last time you laughed: Moments ago whilst foos-balling with a super-stoned Josh

8 have you evers.
have you ever dated one of your best friends: no
have you ever skinny dipped: no. wait, yes. forevs ago
have you ever kissed somebody and regretted it: boy howdy have I ever
have you ever fallen in love: yes
have you ever lost someone you loved: yes
have you ever been depressed: consult previous blogs…
have you ever been drunk and threw up: *nod*
have you ever ran away: no. but ask me again in a couple weeks.

7 states you’ve been to.
1. Alaska
2. New York
3. Michigan
4. Arkansas
6. Hawaii
7. Texas

6 things you’ve done today.
1. got drunk
2. ate cheeseburgers, plural
3. listened to music
4. read comics
5. wilded in the streets with Teddie, Bronson, Kevin, Josh, and Nick
6. sent a fax

5 favorite things in no order.
1. my friends
2. being massaged
3. cooking
4. her, but not the her you think I mean
5. film noir

4 people you can tell [almost] anything to.
1. Teddie
2. Kathryn
3. Chloe
4. Diane

3 wishes.
1. to be happy again
2. to trust again
3. to love again

2 things you want to do before you die.
1. spend time in at least 50 countries
2. find out why

1 thing you regret.
1. trusting her, the bad her

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Trash

By , December 29, 2005

Maybe, maybe it’s the clothes we wear,
The tasteless bracelets and the dye in our hair,
Maybe it’s our kookiness,
Or maybe, maybe it’s our nowhere towns,
Our nothing places and our cellophane sounds
Maybe it’s our looseness

But we’re trash, you and me,
We’re the litter on the breeze,
We’re the lovers on the street,
Just trash, me and you,
It’s in everything we do

A friend recently chastised me for, as she put it, “associating with trash.” Apparently, many of my friends aren’t ambitious or “going places” and I’d be better suited to hang out with young lawyers and other motivated and soon-to-be-wealthy professionals. My initial reaction was shock at hearing one friend describe the rest our friends as trash. I happen to think they’re great people, or else I wouldn’t be friends with them. After a moment something else occurred to me: what the hell makes me any different? If they’re trash, aren’t I trash, too? My friend explained that yes, I am trash as well but I have a decent-paying job and have saved some money, so I’m above them. She described me as “trash with money.”

This did not sit well with me. I tried to see the side of the friend who said these things to me, but her attitude is diametrically opposed to everything I believe in. The more I’ve mulled it over, however, the more I see that she is right, to an extent. Just like Brett Anderson wrote in this post’s epigraph, we ARE trash. I’ve been trash all my life. Proudly so. I grew up poor, in one of the “bad parts” of Los Angeles. My father would routinely come home from work after having been robbed, once whilst tied up and at gunpoint. I remember my mother sometimes buying two fast food cheeseburgers and cutting them into pieces to feed three of us. For most of my childhood, my clothes were ordered from the Sears-Roebuck catalog. Going out to eat meant Taco Bell or McDonald’s– Sizzler if it was a special occasion.

My job often entails me interacting with moneyed folks, and by and large I find I have nothing whatsoever in common with them. I don’t dislike those in the stratospheric socials classes. I harbor no ill will for them, and congratulate them for the hard work or good fortune that got them where they are. It’s more that I have an entirely different value system and lifestyle than they do. And yes, the sense of privilege and entitlement that sometimes seems to run rampant through the upperclass can at times be sickening, but for the most part they are people like anyone else. They just aren’t the sort of people I feel comfortable being around. Sure, a few lucky breaks and wise choices on my part have landed me in a career that provides me with a decent level of income, but I don’t consider myself a part of their world. For that I am glad, as I think I’d be miserable if such people were my friends. I was born and raised trash, and trash I’ll always be.

And the road that I have walked upon
Well it filled my pockets
And emptied out my soul

Truth be told, money is almost meaningless to me. Earning it has never been my goal. I realize I need some to survive, and while I’m glad that I no longer have the money worries I used to have, I know that I was a much happier person when I was still poor. I once gave the girl I loved the last dollar I had so she could make good on her bills, and I gladly ate leftovers and scraps for a week until more money came in. I was happier eating those meals than I am now that I can eat (nearly) anywhere I choose. And now that I have a little money, I do my best to share it. I treat my trashy friends whenever they aren’t fixed for cash, I over-tip trashy waitresses working dead-end jobs in nowhere towns, and I give to charities that help trashy people in other cities and nations. I even gave a twenty to a trashy homeless man the other night. So yeah, trash with money is fine by me.

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