the secret of human flight

Most people have, at one time or another, been faced with the question of what super power they would choose if presented with the opportunity. The most common answer seems to be that of flight. I’m not entirely sure why this answer is so prevalent, since I figured out the secret of human flight over two decades ago, when I was naught but a wee lad.

I know, a bold claim, but a claim founded in nothing less than the absolute truth. It’s incredibly simple, once you think about it; it’s a wonder nobody else has figured it out.

It came to me one day as I was running. What if I simply lifted my left leg off the ground and kept running with my right leg? After that, it’s simply a matter of lifting my right leg as well, and flight is achieved.

At least, flight is theoretically achieved. I still haven’t gotten the balance quite right. One of these days, though.

One of these days.

surprise step-siblings

Let me preface the rest of this by saying that I’m not making excuses for my behavior or his, but I do want to paint a picture of this time in my life in order to provide a better context for this tale. That being said, I went through a period of a few years where I didn’t talk to my father. It started either in late 1996 or early 1997 (the most I can narrow it down is that school year, my last before high school), and if I recall correctly (which I’m probably not), lasted until after I had completed high school (my junior year).

That would put our reconnection somewhere around the year 2000 at the earliest, more likely in the 2001-2003 range.

The year leading up to…the incident…was not exactly the highlight of my life. In the summer of 1996, my parents divorced and my maternal grandmother died. I went into the eighth grade with drastic changes at home, and losing a person who meant more to me than words can ever properly convey. Needless to say, I was not what one could consider “well.” Looking back, though I thought I was doing fine at the time, I can see now that I was not handling events with any semblance of grace. I was unreasonably difficult to my mother (for which I carry a deep regret), reactionary to my father (for various reasons), and I didn’t care about school in the slightest.

It’s this last bit that sparked…the incident (oooh, dramatic!).

My father was a teacher at the magnet school I was attending (he still is). He pulled me out of my advanced algebra course and into his classroom during one of his planning periods in response to a notice he had received from one of my teachers (I forget which). Our conversation became heated, and I said and did some things that I am not proud of. However, both of us being of stubborn stock, neither of us would apologize for our behavior, and thus began years of silence between us.

When we finally reconnected, I discovered that he had remarried during our silence. His high-school sweetheart, Pam, was the lucky lady, and a mother of three; I had two step-sisters and a step-brother! I had met her and the youngest of her children sometime after my parents’ divorce, and had interacted with them on occasion (mostly while playing Hearts with my father’s duplex neighbor), but I never met (or I don’t remember meeting) the others.

Did I mention that by the time my father and I had reconnected, he was no longer married to Pam? That’s right, folks; for a year or two, unbeknownst to me, this only child had three step-siblings.

Crazy world, huh?

failing to follow through

For the less perceptive among you, it has been over a year since I last submitted my words for your eyeballs. Fun fact: it took nearly a year for the aforementioned previous submission itself to appear before you. Having said that, take a moment to appreciate the title of this particular submission; go ahead, I’ll wait a tic for the point to sink in.

Though I hardly think it necessary, I do feel that saying it outright is going to be conducive to my thought process as I type: I have always had (and will likely continue to have, to certain degrees) a problem following through with a great deal of things. I have fleeting ideas that I take initial steps to realize, but over time, these ideas (and the efforts I have put into realizing them) fall by the wayside, and slowly fade away. I wouldn’t say that I’m unreliable, I just either fall into this sort of ennui or my aforementioned social anxiety kicks in about most of my goals which result in their inevitable failure. They go out not with a bang, but with a prolonged whimper (sorry for the paraphrasing there, T.S.).

My mind is positively alight with examples, but I think I’ll narrow it down to one of my more recent shortcomings. I made a resolution at the start of this year, you know. I was going to put in a conscious effort to community with my friends and family on a regular basis. I bet you can imagine how that worked out, hm? Think back and count the number of times I’ve chatted with you this year, be it via call, text, IM, Facebook comment, email, smoke signal, Morse code, or any other method of communication you can imagine. Having a hard time coming up with a non-pathetic number, right?


Now, the most important part: why? This is not directed at the specific example of communication, but at the habit itself. Why does this pattern exist? Why, when I am obviously aware of it, do I not change it? If I knew, then perhaps I could. I have a feeling that it may have to do with my self-esteem issues. I don’t think I’ll be ultimately successful in any of my efforts, so the motivation to see them through to the end is non-existent. If that’s the case, all I need to do to ensure that I follow through is…solve my crippling lack of self-esteem (future edit: oh god this old stuff is hard to read sometimes).

Let’s see if I follow through on that.

[edit fRoM tHE fUTuRe!: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha my dissertation.]

i was an internet punk rock rebel

Back in the early days of the Bush administration, I found myself awakening to the political climate of the United States. Disenfranchised by the system, and burning for change, I helped start a group of revolutionaries on mIRC (future edit: my exposure to the Internet started in the late 80s/early 90s with mIRC; it is essentially what Discord is today, but arguably WAY COOLER), full of punk rock rebels. Eventually, this lead to a website where we were going to publish our dissertations on the status of the world and our inflammatory calls to arms for change and justice. We called it Punks With Pencils, and it has been offline for over half a decade. I present to you one of the essays I submitted (the rest being lost to the ravages of time and carelessness):

We are the agents of change. It is up to humanity, regardless of social standing or class, to rise up, united, against the oppressors, the hypocrites, the cowards, and the corrupt. It is impossible to live in utmost comfort and opulence, and expect change to occur. Materialistic desires and temptations serve only to hold back the flood waters of change. Break the dam! It might mean sacrificing your comfort, your social status, or the things most dear to you; but consider the alternative. Would you rather live in financial corpulence and social apathy, only passing on the world’s problems to the next generation? Or would you rather stand up today and fight for change. It is difficult. It is difficult to practice restraint and self control when faced with the materialist attitude of a foolhardy world. Make the sacrifice! Stand strong against the raging storm of inequality and destructiveness! If enough people shook off the yoke of this subtle oppression, there would be change.

Take it upon yourselves to be the ones who bring about the much needed change in this world. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

It’s funny how people get so caught up in their own lives that they fail to comprehend what’s really going on around them. It’s easier to be blind to the state of things; to be too weak to see reality as it is, rather than what we want it to be. There are words that can be used to describe the current state of humanity: Irresponsible, Apathetic, Selfish. Hypocrisy runs rampant across the world; from the lowest beggar to the highest political figure. Lies and personal agendas fill the hearts and minds of the majority of humanity; from the gas station clerk down the street to the leaders of the world. Children are being born into an increasingly corrupt and selfish society; a society more concerned with its own financial corpulence than with the well-being of the human race. Free will has become a myth; a fairy tale from days far gone. The world is slowly destroying itself; imploding into itself like a black hole. And what reaction, you may ask, does this elicit from those living within this barrage of self-destructive narcissim? No reaction whatsoever.

I remember being quite proud of it at the time, filled as it was with rhetoric, hyperbole, and righteous anger. Strong statements! Long, winding cries for help in a world gone utterly mad! STRONG STATEMENTS! I find myself now, nearing the completion of my 30th year of life on this mudball we call home, looking more like a part of the problem than I would like to be. I have settled for the world, and have felt my fire diminish. But as I think about that sentence, I find it to be untrue. I still feel the fire within me when faced with the injustices of this world. I still feel the rage at corruption and hypocrisy in our culture and political system. I simply have other responsibilities that I have to prioritize above revolution.

For now.

poison oak and a life lesson learned

When I was but a wee lad, sometime before my tenth year of life (if I recall correctly), I got a bad case of poison oak. It was summer, and we were spending a few days up at the house in Coarsegold after a bit of an absence. During that absence, it seems that a large patch of poison oak had started coming through the gravel of the parking area. Daie Vargha (fun fact time: Daie is Farsi for uncle, but not just any uncle, specifically my maternal uncle; my paternal uncle, were he not a hella Anglo [that’s the technical term] descendant of William the Conqueror, would be Amoo) started picking them, barehanded, and I was eager to help. I asked if I could be of any assistance, at which point I was told that the plants would make me itch. My logical mind watched him grabbing them up barehanded for a few seconds before pointing out the obvious discrepancy in his statement. If they would make me itch, then why was he picking them with his bare hands? Would they not make him itch just as much as they would make me itch? His response was that he was immune, and would not develop an itch from handling the poison oak in that way. He was always quite the joker, so naturally I assumed he was pulling my leg. I started grabbing them and pulling them out of the ground with my bare hands, just like my uncle.

The next couple of weeks were spent taking medicated baths, applying medicated lotion, and scratching myself until I was raw. I learned a valuable lesson that day: don’t pick poison oak with your bare hands. I’m sure there was some sort of larger life lesson there, but I can still feel the itching when I think about it.

recognition of self

There are a lot of self-related issues that I have trouble with. Self-esteem, self-worth, self-image, and anything else you can come up with. To make it as clear as possible, I don’t really think much of myself. I allow every mistake I make and every criticism I receive to compound my problems, while I have difficulty accepting and assimilating any praise that is given me.

I used to joke incessantly about how smart I was, or how good I was at something, but they were just that: jokes. I know that some of you (depending on who is reading this) will know what I’m talking about. For example, I used to claim that the bigger your head was, the bigger your brain was. In reality, I was simply self-conscious about the size of my head.

The kicker is that these self-doubts are so deeply ingrained in me that I have no idea if they’ll ever go away. As much as I wish otherwise, for all I know, no amount of praise or proof will make me believe in my own capabilities. So now you know: I’m not genuinely saying I’m smarter or better, I’m just trying to throw my self-doubt into sharp relief. So, y’know, don’t take it personally or anything. I can’t help being charming, funny, and incredibly brilliant.

[Edit from the future! whoa! time travel! he did the thing!: I mean, yeah, but also this was a pretty low time in my life, so take my livejournaltumblrconfessionals with a grain of salt and a lot less oh look how uniquely tortured I am!]


I have, in my opinion, a fairly nice beard. In the past, I switched back and forth from full beard to goatee to clean shaven and back without really sticking to a look for too long. For the last two or three years, however, I’ve stuck to my full (neatly-trimmed) beard. Today’s story takes us back to January of 2009. One day, while out and about, I stopped at a gas station to fill my gas tank, and ended up getting more than I bargained for.

Now, I mentioned already that I have a fairly nice beard. I hardly think it’s worthy of any great compliments, but it suits me just fine. The attendant at the gas station felt differently. I walked in to grab a candy bar while the gas was pumping, and as I approached the counter, the cashier (a young, lean Indian man with no real beard to speak of himself) looked up and greeted me. As he started to ring up my purchase, he paused, looked at my beard, and declared, “Hey, man, that is a great beard!”

After a short silence, I asked him to repeat himself, thinking that perhaps I had misheard.

He reiterated, “That is a really nice beard!”

Having now heard the same sentiment twice, I could no longer assume that I was hearing him say something other than what he said. What else could I do at this point but thank him for the compliment?

He finished ringing up my candy bar, and as he was placing it in a small bag, he gave me one final compliment…”A lovely beard, really.”

It is, of course, for this reason and this reason alone that I now maintain my beard.

social skills are for suckers

I don’t really remember a lot about my childhood. I don’t think I was really paying attention, to be honest. I don’t really remember too many life lessons from my parents regarding social skills, but like I said, I don’t remember a lot about my childhood. I’ll be working on the assumption that social skills took a backseat to education and life in general. However, to be fair, I chose to spend most of my childhood with my nose in a book, a controller in my hand, or a keyboard at my fingertips, so it can hardly be a surprise that I have the social acumen of a paperclip (excluding Microsoft’s Clippy, of course).

At the drop of a hat I can stand in front of a room and give a presentation or speech on a topic with which I am only slightly acquainted and exude a nigh unshakable air of confidence, because this is a matter of intelligence and knowledge, and I am confident in my intelligence and knowledge (though we’ll get into that topic more in a later entry). When it comes to talking to people in social settings, however, I fade into the background, hoping I won’t be noticed. This is not because I am uncomfortable with the other person/people, or because I am intimidated or afraid. This is also a matter of intelligence and knowledge. I simply do not know how to start, carry, or end a regular conversation. I don’t recall learning this as a child (an argument can be made that since I don’t remember learning it, I obviously didn’t), so my social development has been slightly hindered, and I am at a point in my personal development that it is difficult to imagine starting to learn now. When faced with this inability to do something so basic and supposedly simple as talking to another human being, I retreat into myself and wait for it to end.

So, if you have ever had the misfortune to find yourself with me in a social setting, I apologize for any misconceptions you may have had. I do not dislike you. I do not think you are boring or mundane. I am not trying to be rude, or insulting. I simply don’t know how to talk to you.

oklahoma city

Sometime around 7:55am (CST) on the morning of Wednesday, October 27, 1982 in Norman, OK a child was born. I’m sure many children were born at the same time around the world, and perhaps within that very same hospital, but the child that we will concern ourselves with primarily for the duration of this website will be, naturally, me. This is not to say that those other children are of no significance to the world. This is to say that they are of no significance to me or my life, as far as I know or am concerned. Sorry, other children. This is not your story.

I may have been born in Norman, OK, but my parents (and I, though that should go without saying) lived in Oklahoma City (in Oklahoma, for those of you who aren’t too sharp with a map). Oklahoma City wasn’t a bad place to be a kid, as far as I can tell; the school system was decent, the city was fairly quiet and calm, and we got snow in the winter. Looking back, it reminds me in a lot of ways of Fresno (my current home [future edit: no longer my current home, I have taken up residence in beautiful Long Beach, which is dramatically different than both Oklahoma City and Fresno]); it’s fine for kids and old people, but there really isn’t a lot of variety for young adults. Then again, that’s just fine for me because I’m a fairly boring individual.

Why is this important? A great deal of my childhood stories will take place in Oklahoma City. Now you know why.