Mar 11, 2009


Dear Readers, (the few of you)

Winter is Breaking.
It's been a painless, short season for those of us here in the Midwest whom do little more than sit persistently in front of a computer screen or guitar amp and dream about extraordinary travels.
Yes, It does get a bit more detailed than that, but generally speaking (and to save you the pains of reading about the drawn-out process), I just summed up my whole winter with the mention of these three activities. Hopefully when my work is revealed it won't seem to anybody that I've completely wasted my time. I certainly don't feel that way. After all, time has become the most important factor in my life since the onset of the new year and I've become rather particular about how I choose to use it.

A new season is quickly upon us and I'm grown more and more feverish with the last six months pent up in my parents house here in rural Illinois. I've now stayed longer than I had ever intented and am beginning to realize that nothing is likely to just fall in my lap. I'm also remembering the anxious feeling of needing to get out and see bigger things. 2009 will deliver yet another birthday and I will ultimately grow one year older. And I WILL NOT say "all I accomplished in 2009 was a birthday."
The only way to grasp onto your desires is to pave the ground that will lead you there. So that's exactly what I'm setting out to do. Except, I don't know exactly what it is I desire or where to find it so I'm just going to pave random paths and try to enjoy myself along the way. Either way, I'm getting out there and doing something.

Whatever is waiting for me, the time has come. I'm going to out to find it even if it leads me right back to the Midwest.

Having said that, I must explain the fate of this blog.
This blog was originally created to document the surreality of moving back home to rural Illinois, which in many ways was a regression of lifestyle and culture for me. I'll admit, i'm a country-boy at heart, and it's not all that bad. But dammit... I know there is a large world out there and I need to experience it first hand.

So then why did you move back home?

That's a good question and here is the answer.

As a means to an end. I moved back home (with my parents) because I desired to do larger things for myself. And in order to do that I needed to re-adjust myself both mentally and financially. I believe you must sometimes take a loss before you realize the gain. And sometime you must rip it up and start again.
The move was unfavorable but has resulted some insightful lessons and a growth of heart. I learned the value in a real days work. I learned the hardships of being overworked. And most importantly, despite our differences, I found common ground with the common people of this town. A lesson I believe can help you get a foot in the door anywhere you go.

Although I've streached out my stay here by months, I've found the experience to be completely productive and fulfilling and it has been a necessary step in the progression of things to come.

The stories of The Midwest Kid must be put on hold until I return one day to the small town of Tolono (aka Jillburt, Illinois).
I have a few special posts planned for the near future, but aside from that, I don't foresee much material going into this site for a while. But please check back time to time anyways.

The time has come to set sail. And in only a day, I'll be gone.

If you wish to follow my travels and writing please refer to my new blog,

Feb 3, 2009

Everything Will Change

(photo by Beth Gatza)

Where did the time go? The year has gotten underway rather quickly.
I've been told this is something that happens with age; that dramatically fast feeling of weeks, months, and years racing past you. That's right, the one that only seems to get faster and faster.
And while I'm not particularly fond of this feeling, it has roused a storm of adventurism and anxious creativity in me.
It's good.
It's something all of us (who are feeling a little unsure) could use.
It's like a mid-life crisis, without the grey hair and weight bench.
I'm not scared exactly, but I definitely feel a bit desperate.
I am definitely on my toes.

A few things have become certain.

1. I'm teetering toward the end of my youth... But that's ok.

Some people would say, "twenty-five... you're still so young"
This is true. I'm am very young, I feel very young. And paired up beside some of my "adult like" friends, I feel as though I could be their child.
But regardless of how I feel, I've come to realize that 25 is a very pivotal time.
It's kind of like the age of no return; the last years of a true youth.
I am now weighing heavier on the side of my late twenties than my early twenties. And in only 15 more, I'll have reached the big - 40.

I know it seems like I've got a while, but when you consider how quickly 25 years passed by... you start to understand the dire reality of our situation.
There isn't anything wrong with 40, but let's be real, it's nothing as good as any age that is younger.

During harvest, I worked with a fifty year old man named, Junk.
He once said to me, "I'd give anything to be 25 again."
Sure, it's not the most insightful of quotations, but I've held onto it; if for nothing more than the emotionally inherent advice in it. There was a breath of envy in the way he said it. They way anybody says it. It's enough to make you realize you shouldn't waste it.
When I'm fifty, I don't want to be full of regret or wishful thinking, I want to be fulfilled.

It's time to do all the things you've always stopped yourself from doing.
This is not a "Live everyday as if it were your last" kind of statement - that is a very selfish way to live and I don't encourage it.

This is a "Do something" kind of statement.
Take a long good look at yourself, if that's what it takes to motivate you, and do something that's worth a damn.

Most of all,
DON'T believe in fate, that will not get you very far.
believe in futures. It might be all you've got.
While your youth might be slipping away from you, your future isn't.

2. Be ashamed to die until you've won some pride for humanity.

I read this on a wall.
It is the single most important thing I learned in all five years of my college education.
Of all the thousands of dollars spent on tuition, of all the "acclaimed" members of faculty and their endless lectures, of all the text books bought and read late into the night... It all pales in comparison to a single sentence I saw written on a wall, "Be ashamed to die until you've won some pride for humanity."
This is heavy I know, considering that all life is predominately selfish (all conscious life anyways). This will be difficult to achieve, and it could even take a life time to discover.
So if nothing else, for the time being, at least win some pride for yourself.

You can choose to go on as a meandering lifeless organisms with no thought or care about individuality or purpose. No will or volition. No tenacity or enthusiasm (these people are called worker ant's by the way.)
Or you can choose challenging paths with lasting rewards. Put your name out there. Be recognized for your extraordinary use of time on this planet...
Or don't, and on your death bed be sorry you didn't.
I cannot image a life without passion, sadly we encounter some everyday.

As we age, I think we become increasingly aware of out inevitable doom. It's really not too far off.
Take a look down that short and narrow road and ask yourself two questions...
Would anybody take pride in the path I've chose?
And more importantly, do I take pride in the path I've chose?

3. Your "will" can only be measured by your actions.

enough said.

Jan 1, 2009

The World Has Turned and Left Me Here.

A few months ago I had made very specific plans for January 1st, 2009.

Those plans were to get in my car with only a backpack full of necessities and hit the road. I had no predetermined direction and didn't care. I had worked hard enough to earn my freedom and would do well with just my wits and the entire continent to explore. This day was to be a great moment in my life, a time for exploration and change, A time for realignment. But unfortunately, for a number of reasons (but not a specific one) I'm still posted up here in my lonely town of Tolono and have once again pushed back my plans of vagabonding across America.

In trying to understand the reasons why I've not yet set out on my adventure, it came to my attention... The sort of thing holding me back is in fact these ritualistic traditions such as New Years Eve. Not just New Years eve alone, but life itself as a ritualistic tradition. I'm talking of course about all the baggage we create of these things. The baggage that comes from anything familiar or traditional - the social constraints, the expectations and routine comforts that bound us to these conventional lifestyles and constantly place us on the same monotonous path.
I'm ranting... Back to the example of New Years Eve, but consider the statement above.

I've celebrated the New Year a multitude of ways. However, in retrospect they all seem to be quite similar and rather insignificant.
It usually involves mass quantities of booze and superficial strangers. So where is the celebration in that? I can do that any night of the week - I often do and it's quickly becoming the most monotonous activity of my life. We should be celebrating something real, in some other way.
Sadly, as we grow older, it seems "intoxication" is the only thing we celebrate on new years eve - so I avoided it.
I thought if I went through with it like everyone expected, like everyone predicted, like so many years past, like the ordinary me, it would be the very reason why it was easy to push back my travel plans or plans of doing something out of the ordinary.
To have followed through with the regular and routine celebration, I would have only re-familiarized myself the same things I already know and completely disregarded the idea of doing anything different.

I began thinking about The New Year and what it actually is.
Turns out it's actually just another day - similar to yesterday and much like the days to come, but there is something undeniably symbolic about it.
As a measure of time and physics, it's how long the Earth takes to make a complete lap around the sun - 1 year. But on a more personal scale, that year around the sun represents progress, a chance at new possibilities, a chance to change your own personal path around the sun.
It is possibly the most important day to do anything... Anything that is not expected or predictable, anything that is completely out of your ordinary.

I choose to celebrate 2009, alone.
I wanted to experience that grow and progress by myself, like a snake goes missing for a night and comes back with a new skin.
I wanted to make a New Years resolution to keep to myself, but more importantly i wanted to keep it.
Going back to a previous point -
had I done the expected and ordinary thing and gone on an overnight drunk, it would have been the very reason to not keep a new resolution. That is something I've never done in the past. I don't think anybody has ever kept theirs.

I'm starting to realize that when you change your regular course of action, you suddenly have the power to change almost any aspect of your life.

So I avoided the mass alcohol consumption and the empty gesture of a "kiss on the lips"
I didn't send one congratulatory text message.
And I made zero phone calls.
I celebrated. But it was a personal celebration. I sat in my room and made music. I drank a single bottle of beer with no intention of drinking more.
I celebrated the idea of taking on new challenges and the ability to do things out of the ordinary.
I celebrated the chance of a new year and a new beginning.
I acquired the ability to make a serious change. And I'm seriously ready to leave all the baggage behind and live out of a backpack.

Nov 25, 2008

Waco, Texas & Staying Alive Through Desperation and Fear

I'm sorry, this is not an informative piece about Waco, Texas or interesting facts that explain the events of February 28, 1993. This is more selfishly a tale of what a pathetic human I can be.

It's Sunday night on the near-vacant streets of Chicago.
I'm a mess of loose guts and vulnerability.
I have not been very good to my body this weekend.
Three cases of hiccups (sounds cute but they're miserable)
Two blacked-out nights.
And a surprise bottle of adderall.
My blood-caked ear, dehydrated innards, and greasy hair also tell me of my debauched behaviors (I have no idea about the two sizable gashes on my left ear.) And if that's not enough, I haven't changed my clothes and could probably fall over on my teeth at any second.
Nausea is squirming in my belly like a wounded snake and I feel as bad as the first time I stayed home from grade-school and barfed all over the carpet.

I'm alongside my good friend and rising star, Tony.
He is the only memory I have from last night and that's only because I called him "Waco, Texas" about 130 times. Otherwise I called him "David Koresh", which I find to be mildly more offensive but since he (Tony) didn't realize that the curbside glasses he found caused him to look a near spitting image of the "Branch Davidians" religious leader, it seemed humorously appropriate.
David Koresh took control of a small ranch he renamed “Ranch Apocalypse” in Waco, Texas.
Ironically, the night previous of Tony looking like Koresh, we took control over a south-side music venue and had a stand-off of sorts with the buildings proprietors. Coincidence?
...But I really must move on.

Still haphazardly wondering the streets and feeling fatigued, we agree it might be in our best interest to seek food - for necessity and nutrition sake.
We stop at a random bar in hope of a menu. We find a place to sit.
There's a flat-panel T.V. at every table and a barrage of barbarian sportage on every one of them. The last thing I want right now is Sunday night football. Or ever for that matter.
Even worse, they're blaring the commentary over the house speakers.
I ignore the T.V. as much as I can. It gives me the spins, besides that I'm fighting a bad case of tunnel vision and I'm finding it hard enough to focus on life.
I try to ignore the two "bros" sitting at the bar who find it necessary to yell and clap at the television screen. Anything could set me off at this point and in my weakened state I'd be sorely beaten.
When the waitress finally comes around we both order beers.
"Hair of the dog", I say. (Otherwise known as "beer for breakfast") but at this point it's approaching 6pm and nearly 48 hours since I've had any real hydration.
The beer does wonders for my condition but I know I'll regret it later.
The last time I remember drinking water was on Friday during the drive to the city. I took about two sips from the bottle before I set it aside at the offer of a whiskey and coke. Tony has a knack for mixing up road sodas. From that moment, I was pretty much on booze straight.
According to most statistics, the average human can go 3 days without water. I had gone just over 2.
While I’ll agree this probably wasn’t the most extreme case of dehydration I will argue that an alcoholic should probably not go ANY days without water.

We finally leave the city.

Minutes into the drive home, I’m losing my shit.
I remain to myself, attempt to appear calm and allow for minimal conversation.
I'm phasing in and out of consciousness as a loud and treble-blown David Cross comedy album begins sounding distant and through a long tube. I feel like I’m having a minor out of body experience.
The last time I felt this close to death was the spring following my 21st birthday, after staying up all night on mushrooms then hitting a 6ft bong on the balcony. I thought I was going to die that day, right in front of my friends.
I clench my seat and question my vitals, anything to help remind myself I’m still here. I can’t even remember if I took a breath recently. I’m sinking into my chair, yet I feel light as a feather.
I’m sweaty and panicked.
“Can we pull over?”
Tony is looking at the closest exit. He takes it.
“Wallgreens?” he asks.
I shake my head, yes.

We get back on interstate 57 and continue to putter south towards Champaign. 20 minutes, half a bottle of pepto, and almost a liter of water later I'm feeling remarkably more and more human.
David Cross continues to rattle on about Religious leaders and the apocalypse that still hasn't happened.
We arrive home after what feels like a 4 hour trip. I go to bed as soon as I know I’m going to live.
The next time I talk to Tony, he says "you wanna take over a small Texas village tomorrow nite?"

Nov 1, 2008

We Were Meant For So Much More

With only two days remaining, this is my final "Fuck You" to the GOP.
I'm not claiming that the Democrats are any more qualified or exempt of the following criticisms... but c'mon people, let's try something different for a while, eh!?
Seriously, it's been eight years.

And so it goes:

John McCain, "Total Propagandist"
Because in my opinion he is
Ego maniacal.
Slanderous and angry of his opponent.
A liar. (however, every good politician is)
Encouraging more fighting.
Only trying to fulfill an "end of the road" achievement.
Wrong for trying to sell himself as a "Maverick"
Wrong for trying to sell Sara Palin as a "Maverick"
"Drill Baby Drill" ?

Sara Palin, "Are You Fucking Serious?"
I think this pretty much explains itself.

I should have created these posters weeks ago.
I could have done a mass posting throughout town, although I'm pretty sure Obama will take Illinois like butter takes to bread.
It would have looked awesome though.

I'm not that worried about the election, I'm more worried about what happens afterwards.
I just don't know if Americans are up to the Challenge.

Oct 26, 2008

Three Years of Love.

According to her papers, Tegan is 3 today.
If there were dog awards (not that "dog show" circus crap), Tegan would take the cake in every category.
I'm talking about real awards, like endless unconditional love of which no other living creature could compare or compete.
She has survived being hit by a car, jumping out of a truck and jumping over the railing of a third story balcony.
She shakes with either hand, gives high-fives, turns 360's, rolls over and understands Spanish.
I've never known a dog with more intuition, resilience, honesty (thats right, honesty) intelligence, patience, selflessness and social abilities.
I'm obsessed.

Oct 24, 2008

Times are tough, but outlook is outstanding

This is what you signed up for.

You push the alarm clock until you have only ten minutes to pull on a pair of pants.
They're so caked with dirt you can see a cloud of dust in the darkness of your room.
There's no point in washing them til they can stand up on their own.
You'll be filthy within five minutes after 7:00.

Manual labor hardens nearly every aspect of your life.
Your hands, your eyelids, your knees and feet.
Your nostrils and muscles.
Your social life, your fashion sense.
Your creative outlets and overall energy.

You hardly recognize days of the week anymore.
Monday could be Thursday and Sunday could be Tuesday. It simply does not matter.
They all bleed together. 17 hours of work, 6 hours of sleep, 1 hour to eat two meals.
Your schedule remains the same regardless of what day it is.
You recognize only day and night. Rain or shine. Clouds or clear. Windy or calm.

You only remember the 1st and the 18th. Those days we're different.
The 1st brought you October. You celebrated the arrival of the best month and purchased a pumpkin. Then you lamented as you realized you would miss almost all of it.
The 18th brought you another year of life and a molotov cocktail as a birthday gift. It missed the road and made a small fire in the grass. You went to a graveyard and smoked pot alongside the deceased. That night seemed like the best night on earth.

You were standing amongst the dead when you realized how much you love life.
You realized you love life because of how often you don't get to experience it.

Manual labor makes nearly every aspect of life incredible.
Things you once took for granted are now the substance of your soul.
Every minute of sleep, every drink of beer.
A bowl of soup, a sip of wine, a sip of water.
An extra hour for free time, a gasoline bomb as a birthday gift.
A breath of fresh air.
The 1st and the 18th.

Oct 18, 2008

Can Your Birthday Have a Theme Song?

MGMT - "Kids"
I think I've watched this six or seven times today.
It makes me feel like a kid again, with the face painting, the colors, the care-free dancing and Full House.
And how appropriately titled.

It sounds good.
It feels good.
It has been the theme of my day.

I feel like the girl in the video has something really special.
Something we all desire or have but are unable to express. I want to take on that spirit in my 25th year.
For some reason this song just makes me happy to still be alive.
And Go, Charlie Chaplin, Go!

Oct 15, 2008

An Apple a Day Keeps the Pessimism Away

It's a strong and damp wind. It kinda pats you on the face.
The rain is more like a thick mist.
I'd love to be at home, curled in a ball in my bed.
A hoodie is second best to a blanket.
Coffee and smokes feel like the perfect accessories.
I understand why Seattle has so many coffee shops.

My boss' face has a look of concern, distaste, or discomfort. I can't tell which.
He asks, "You really want to live there?"
Me, "Yeah..."
Him, "But it's so......... rainy."
It was a look of distaste.

A few farmers are sitting near us.
They're drinking all my coffee.
"Wet this"
"Wet that"
"Shitty weather this"
"Shitty weather that"
"Damn rain this"
"Damn rain that"
They might be the only people in the world who complain so frequently about things they can't control.

I can't stand it when people speak slanderously of the weather.
I can't understand people who say "I like sunny days better." as though you could choose a side or have one without the other.
I've always found the two to compliment each other,
like Sun and Moon, Day and Night.
Two days ago a friend told me "Without great sorrow you can not appreciate the greatness of it's opposite."
She was speaking of life.
I think one could apply that wisdom to a lot of things.

A farmer reaches into the back of his truck and lifts out a box of apples.
"Here, these might brighten your day a little"
I think they would brighten the brightest day.
"These came out of my yard. Let me know when you run out and I'll bring you some more."
He's the first one who doesn't curse the storm-front moving through.
I almost mention it to him (for small-talk sake) but I catch myself.
I don't want to talk about the weather. I want to enjoy it.

I want to be at home by an open window.
For some reason rain always sounds perfect
outside of an open window.
The only thing better than an open window is a covered porch.
Ours is more like a stoop and it's drenched

I want to hear a shower of October rain smack against the pavement
and the crackle of old vinyl as Frederic Chopin spins around at 33 rpm's

I want to watch the storm and enjoy an apple.

Oct 10, 2008

Gang Slang & Grain Trains

A train passes through town.
I see a dozen pass by daily.
The elevator where I work is butted right up against the tracks.
I see boxcar after boxcar after boxcar.
Hell, sometimes I fill them full of grain.
Other people put new cars in them.
Some people paint them.

I never realized the amount of graffiti on commercial train cars, but it's endless.
I've fallen in love with it. It's often unintelligible but I don't really care, that's not the point.
Most the employees despise it. They sneer every chance they get.
I find myself cheering out loud at the really good stuff. I even find the bad stuff to be tolerable; I know with time and practice the armature spray-paintist is going to send something impressive my way.

I wonder about the people who duck low in dark shadows to dodge the police, or the ones who blatantly shake and spray in the daylight.
I wonder about the guy who's been tagging for years and how he got his start.
I wonder who "TooTIE" and "MICE" are, or in what city the "KINGZ" claim their stopping ground?
I wonder about the guy who's thrilled just to have a moving canvas.

It's like traveling art. Like a new exhibition comes through town everyday.
Tolono doesn't have a gallery and most likely never will.
In a town lacking such resources it's nice to see new art so often.
We have little more than trains and grain.
It's the most fluorescent color and sub-cultural flare available to a place defined by neutrals.

For a date I'm going to take a girl to see the trains.

What if there was a public area or after school program where people could go and freely express themselves all over the sides of boxcars?
I suppose then it would become a bit exploited and lackluster. It would lose all it's edginess and purpose.
The trains would look awesome but I'd like this thing to remain "guerrilla style" and randomly unsung.

I've got a box of spray paint in my closet.
Before I leave this tiny town I'm gonna tag a train - "Midwest Kid". Keep your eyes out.

Here's a few more.
(NOTE: All these were taken with my cell phone, but you can rest assured, when I have the proper tools I will write a coffee-table book on the matter.)

Oct 5, 2008

Fast Cars. Slow Sunday.

Wind blows dust up from the ground.
It forms mini cyclones. For a moment I wonder what wind would look like if it was a color.
I kick some random kernels of corn in the driveway.
"This is fucking silly. Work on Sunday."
The things I could do with this afternoon.

Junk, rides up on his bicycle.
He's got a bucket of chicken. He's late.
He smells like booze. Not fresh booze, last nights booze.
Later he tells me about how drunk he got. I think, "no shit."
He's harder than any 50 year old person I have ever known.

The minutes crawl.
That's alright, the day is really nice.
I would be at the apple orchard.
I would be at the pumpkin patch
I would be by a body of water.
I would be at Hollywood beach.

I put my hands in my pockets.
I kick some more corn around.

I'm listening to the NASCAR race on the radio of all things.
Well i'm not, but by default and circumstance I guess I am listening to it.
Who knew such events were even hosted on the radio? This is wildly interesting to me.
The best part about it is the excitement of the announcers. These guys must have done a pile of blow before the race. I can't believe the play by play commentary and the amount of useless NASCAR facts these two can rattle off! Is this even real?

I unload a couple trucks
I smash my finger in the rear latch of an old ford. I curse at it. I say things you shouldn't say to such a good old truck.
I still feel it eight hours later.
It will be fine.

I try talking to Junk.
He stands right next to the radio. He looks in my direction like he might respond but he never says anything. He's too deeply focused on the race.
I won't bring myself to listen to it. I don't want anyone to catch me up on it either.

I smell grilled hotdogs and hamburgers in the wind.
somebody's enjoying their day.

I walk up to the main office to have some chicken and maybe talk to someone else.
The NASCAR race is on T.V.
I liked it better over the radio. At least then I only had to surrender one of my senses.
The office employees are getting worked up over a discussion about current gas prices. This happens almost daily.
It's puzzling to me that some people are so puzzled by the cost of gasoline.
I mean... you assholes realize it's only going to keep increasing right?
I stay out of these conversations at all costs.
I wish I had a Pabst to wash down this chicken.

The trucks are lining up again, gotta get back to the pits.

I turn the wheel-door on a wagon-trailer filled with soybeans.
The farmer gets down from his tractor and approaches me (Those are the nice farmers.)
"Are we havin fun yet?" So far this is my favorite line of small talk. It's always followed by a small chuckle.
He is very old. I'll bet he has probably farmed more than 60 harvests.
He's has trails of dried tobacco spit on his face.
I strangely recognize him from my youth. He's unchanged, exactly as I remember him.

The day goes on, as does the race...
Tolono is a ghost town.
Besides the few farmers coming and going I haven't seen a soul on the streets.
Where are the people? Why aren't they out doing afternoon activities?
I hope everyone didn't pass up such a perfect day to stay home and watch fast cars go around a circle.
If that's the case, I fear the world is going to end very badly.

A commercial comes on.
It's an add for a new Ford Truck.
I can't help but roll my eyes at new car commercials. The marketing has gotten way out of line. It's nothing like the Ford that smashed my finger. That one does honest and practical work.
The new one apparently can make your dick look bigger. I'm thinking about getting a loan...

Following the "Ford F150" is a commercial about "the gasoline crisis" and coming up with solutions to solve the amount money we spend at the pump. "How perfectly ironic" I think.

Here's a solution - Stop building vehicles that operate on gas!
Did anybody think of that one? We have the technology right? Right.
It's too bad we don't have technology that makes Americans less naive and foolish.

Here's a solution - Gasoline crisis? Quit racing ridiculously fast cars around a race track for hours at a time. Quit encouraging that kind of excessiveness.

Thanks for making my Sunday top notch, NASCAR!

Oct 1, 2008

Today Is October.

October arrived just as it should.
The 10th month is arguably the best month on Planet Earth.

Sep 29, 2008

You're 100 Feet Off The Ground

I work 84 hours a week. I have so much time to think.

I want to move to a city.
I want to live a lot of places.
One day I will have traveled the world.

I want my bike to work again. I haven't rode it in a week. I want to start out biking one day and decide not to turn back home.

Working around dangerous equipment or high above the ground (really in any dangerous situation) I can't help but think of the worst case scenario, if only for a second.
I imagine myself getting plowed by a train.
Falling down the elevator shaft.
Leaping 100 ft. to the gravel below.
Losing fingers or limbs. I am terrified of dismemberment. I obsess over it sometimes.

I'm beginning to enjoy my job quite a lot, but thats the way it always starts out.
For me, jobs are a lot like relationships - they're only fun for so long, after that you suffer through them when you know the best thing to do is just walk out.

Nobody challenges me. Ever.

Sometimes I fear I'll be single for life.
Some days I think it would be alright.

I think about my friend in Chicago who in any other situation would be more than my friend. Lucky for us I guess.
I think about her a lot, especially early in the morning. I have to stop thinking about her when I become too aroused.

I think about all my friends and how often I don't see them. I fear we will only become more and more distant.

Sometimes I want to accuse my mother of being too republican or living with too much fear.

I'd like to buy a lot of things with my money but never buy anything. I often feel like I don't need anything.
I spend a lot of time, not a lot of money. To me, time is more valuable than money.
When I'm not spending time I'm sleeping.

I really want a pair of Wrangler jeans and a pair of cowboy boots.

I want to live with less contradictions, myself.

I want to make more things. For me creation is more valuable than consumption.

I never want a fancy vehicle.
I'd like an old truck with a bench seat. Maybe just a moped. maybe just a bicycle. Something I could wrench on in the garage until i've had too much beer.

Someday I want to be a farmer. A poor farmer, with a vintage red and white dump truck and a sense of humor.
I want to wave at every car I pass.
I want some barnyard animals. Any animals will do.

I want to have a wife, or maybe just a really good companion, someone to love regardless the title.
Someone to garden with.
Some one to weld metal with.
Someone who will allow me to put weird sculptures in the yard.
Someone I can record music with in the living room.

I want to have an abundance of musical instruments around the house for my children. I want to show them really good albums. I want to listen to the stereo at the dinner table.
I want to give them unique names.

I never want to win the lottery.

This whole thing seems really selfish. Fortunately for me I could be happy without any of it.

Sep 27, 2008

You Can't Dust A Grain Elevator

Don't even try it. The next day you'll realize, "Shit, I totally fucking wasted my time"






Sep 25, 2008

A Day Begins - A Day Ends

At 6:45pm the Sun hangs low in the western sky of Tolono.
I wear a layer of dirt and appear to have been powdered white from head to foot.
I smell of daylong sweat and thick dust has accumulated on my arm hairs, it looks like a thousand mini dreadlocks.
I stand outside of the North pit alongside, "Junk" as the last semi pulls up with the day’s final load of beans.

Harvest has officially begun - day 1 is in the books and I now know the definition of "a long days work."
There is something that resonates in the air during harvest, you can literally feel it. I've always been able to feel it. There is a sense of seasonal change and a sense of consummation and fruition. It's emotionally charging.
It feels like the saying, "one closed door opens another." That's the best I can explain it.

Junk and I sit together on a concrete stoop for the last ten minutes of our shift and enjoy a cigarette. Neither of us say a word to each other, we just sit facing the polychromatic horizon and experience a mutual respect of silence and reflection.
I think about my level of exhaustion and how it will only become more and more so.
I think about how life has brought me to this point.
I think about absolutely everything.

A revelation of sorts came over at that moment as the surreality of moving back home completely vanished. Memories and familiarities of my town became less distant and less foreign and once again I cherished them.
I could see myself again as a boy, racing my BMX bike through the crossing guards across the railroad tracks to beat an oncoming train.
I remember the path I used to walk home from grade school, today it's the same path I walk home from work.
As a child, the grain elevator served as the colossal structure of my observation, imagination and wonderment, and now I am employed there.
I feel as though a piece of my life has come full circle, as though I've reached some "right of passage".
I can now begin greater things.

While in college, I would make occasional visits home and leave shortly thereafter due to overwhelming depression and feelings of alienation. For a long time I believed those feelings occurred because of returning to such a small and lonely town,
because of people who had moved on or passed away,
because I wanted to be nothing like the people who had stayed.
I now realize those feelings stemmed from my abrupt desertion - the fact that I coldly abandoned the place that made me James Wilcox, all in pursuit of something better. For a long time I thought I was better than Tolono, thus, I set out to find that "something" better. But it's not about that at all. It's only about knowing yourself better, It doesn't matter where you go, you won't find it until you've found yourself. That is the way to empowerment, and that's one thing I sorely lacked for a long time.

I have no shame for where I grew up, in fact now I respect it. Tolono made me great (no arrogance intended)
Tolono gave me life, personality, heart, and most the things I am today.
To completely disregard it would be to disregard a large piece of myself.

One thing remains true at all times - The sun will come up and the sun will go down no matter how you live your life and no matter how long you live.
At the end of the day the next closest thing to "truth" is one's self.
It's very important for us all to understand our individual uniqueness - the idea that there will never be another person quite like ourselves. I believe everyday can be a remarkable one as long as you genuinely welcome it as that person; everything else is just filler, some good and some bad.

This is my home now and for as long or as short as I want it to be and I choose to embrace it whole-heartedly. It is who I am,
The Midwest Kid.

Sep 22, 2008

Dodging Fist Fights at the Townie Bar

Here's the scene:

The moment we walk through the spring-hinged screen door... the conversations, the pool and dart games, the people watching rodeo on the television... everything stops. The only thing that could have made this entrance better is if somebody had bumped the needle on a record player. I say to Tony and Natascha (my posse for the night) - "The first time someone calls me fagot, I'm getting in a fight." In near unison they respond "Do it."

1. It's not a good idea to where (nearly) skin-tight jeans and a small purple t-shirt to the most hillbilly bar in the middle of butt-fucking Illinois.
I was seriously breaking necks in every direction with my apparel (and not in a good way).
It was a situation when you can physically feel stranger's eyes all over your body. Like what it must feel like for a girl to be the only female at a party.
If stares we're punches then I was getting fucking gang stomped!

2. When Natascha said, "It's NOT going to be the most glamorous night of your life" she really meant to say "we're going to a bar where camouflage trucker hats and sleeveless t-shirts may as well be the dress code."
I wanted to try this approach on somebody "oh hey guy's, anybody into NASCAR? Okay, okay... how about John Deer? Anybody into John Deer?"

3. It's karaoke night.. I think to myself "how perfect. I fucking hate karaoke!"

Now here's the reality: (all of the above remains true)

We are all apprehensive and slightly self-conscious about walking into a bar that's the size of a two car garage and fully lit by florescent ceiling light's in a town we've never treaded foot before. We look like Metro-sexual city kid's and I remember my first thought being "None of these people would ever believe that I actually work at a grain elevator."

We drink Budweiser from aluminum cans and shoot warm rail whiskey out of clear plastic cups. [And for the longest time I thought no bar could possibly beat PK's when it came to ordering liquor... sadly defeated, PK's... sadly defeated...] Oh, and one more small detail, everybody is smoking in the bar. "Smoke it but don't promote it" says the bartender as he pours each of us another three fingers worth of old granddad. For the rest of the night we chain smoke like the Polish but use the concealing farmers grip method(so not to promote it.)

The next thing I realize is "I'm fucking drunk" and somebody is calling Natascha's name from over by the Karaoke stage. She raises her hand in the air and does some kind of a drunken gallop over to the "stage" (which is more just like a dark corner). And then there is the opening riff of "Sweet Child of Mine"

By the end of the second verse, people are gathering around the stage, and just in time for the breakdown - "Where do we go now?" "where do we go?" that whole two minute vocal sequence of Axel Rose asking nothing else but "where do we go?" It's actually kind of hilarious. And she totally nails it, spot on. When the song ends the crowd goes fucking nuts!! There are applauds and these loud bellowing "Whoooo!" yells.
Then she goes straight to the bathroom and barfs.

I'm not sure I could prove it, but Gun's N' Roses might have turned a potentially bad night into a really awesome one.

After the bartender shouts "last call!" somebody mentions to us that we can purchase package. "Package?" This actually means that you can buy 12 packs of beer from the bar. So without hesitation we buy some "package" of PBR for $7 Dollars. $7 Dollars!! From a bar. Talk about "takin er' easy." No wonder people say that.

On our way out the door, (open beers in hand) the bartender shout's "Hey. Hey guy's!" we all turn around. he waves and says "see you guy's!"

Stereotypes can cause bad evenings. Don't do it.

Sep 19, 2008


-Yesterday I fell in love with a band like I haven't fallen in love with a band in years
-Today I was only able to listen to commercial country radio for 8 hours at my job

-Yesterday I rode my bike along Michigan Lake at sunset and sat aside the shore with a charming & engaging girl
-Today I rode my bike to the country to blow off steam but blew a tire two miles outside of town

-Yesterday I could have caught a cab
-Today, bitter men in empty Chevy trucks passed right by me and my broke down bike. I would have taken a ride

-Yesterday I ate one of the best chicken pitas I've ever put in my mouth
-Today I ate lunch-meat from Wal-Mart

-Yesterday I drank locally purchased coffee brewed in a french press
-Today I drank watered down Folgers and disguised the bad taste with coffee-mate.

-Yesterday I saw baby twins that will probably become two of the best people to have ever lived
-Today I was surrounded by a multitude of obtuse middle-aged adults who "fucking know it all" but will ultimately let us all down

-Yesterday I felt that people genuinely cared about my personality
-Today I felt like people only cared about themselves

-Yesterday I walked the streets of Uptown and felt perfectly fine
-Today I felt better chances of getting rolled by some hillbilly fucks in a pickup truck

-Yesterday I had a lover
-Today I am barely loved

Sep 14, 2008

Bedtime Story

I've gotten back into the habit of reading before bed
and it feels great.
Besides sex and pills, I've always found literature to offer some of the most soothing sleep possible. So while bedtime remains "lonely" here in the lonesome Midwest, I've got Charles Bukowski to send me off right and rouse my imagination for some fascinating REM (that's the dream stage)
It's a lite read but loaded with debauchery, language and sarcasm (the good stuff)
It adds a bit more adventure to the somewhat humdrum life of Tolono, IL.
It adds a bit of hilarity to my monotonous 6am mornings as I stomp off to work. And it's a constructive dream enhancer.
My co-workers tell me that they only dream about work, I tell them I dream about weird wild shit and they find that fascinating, they almost seem envious. It's strange.

Sep 7, 2008

John McCan't

For (mostly) entertainment purposes I tuned in with a majority of the other suckers in America to watch John McCain deliver his acceptance speech during the republican national convention.
What was clearly a total snoozer right from the start eventually transgressed into a second-class spectacle of overzealous, uninformed, American ignorance and outlined a bleak and distant light for the future hopes of western civilization.
Okay, maybe that's going too far. But what about the republicans, haven't they gone too far? Is four more years really all the higher we can raise the bar? Is that really in our best interest and is McCain really all the republicans could muster up?
Oh but wait a minute, wait a minute, this motherfucker is a maverick, a real Washington outsider. He stands for the little people, for the fucking elevator workers! Didn’t George Bush pull that same generic shit eight years ago? And a Maverick? Seriously? Break me off a piece of that kit-kat bar, dick head.

From The Associated Press:
"Voting with George Bush 90 percent of the time isn't being a maverick, it's being the president's sidekick,"

And if it's not enough that McCain already closely resembles Bush, how about his generous gratitude for him.

From the opening of McCain's Speech:
[I'm grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history. And I'm grateful to the 41st President and his bride of 63 years, and for their outstanding example of honorable service to our country.]
Honorable service? Let's all take just a moment to review the last eight years shall we. If McCain's perspective of Bush's two terms is a positive one, why should we expect much more from him when he's calling the shots?

For me, the most excitement to come of this over-rated right-wing douche-bag festival was how progressively pissed off I became with McCain's supporters. The raucous crowd inconsiderately caused numerous interruptions during the speech only to chant in unison "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!" and other (flag-toting "pride is now in the form of rally chants") faux-patriot bullshit.
On the topic of low standards, the most degrading moment of all happened when the crowd erupted into a rally of "drill, baby, drill" removing every shred of decency from the convention whatsoever. I would have been fucking embarrassed to have been there and they should all be ashamed. McCain attempted to ride on the coat tails of Obama's obvious theme for "change" but the republicans carelessly and shamelessly regressed back to their traditional consumptive thirsts and displayed such little interests in "Change" as they ignorantly "drill, baby, drill[ed]" themselves into a hole of conventional ideals and false pride.

The Wall Street Journal reported this:
[Environmental groups, citing a U.S. Energy Information Administration report, say that drilling won’t solve the country’s energy problems. The study found offshore drilling wouldn’t have much effect on oil and gas production or on prices before 2030.]

It just goes to show America's disgusting addiction for oil. Change isn't about getting what we think we need when we think we need it, but setting higher standards in sights of a better future. For Fuck sake!

From the Associated Press:
"The idea that John McCain represents change in Washington is as laughable as his claim that he'll take on the special interests when some of the biggest corporate lobbyists in America are running his campaign."

Here are a few things I picked out after reviewing John McCain's speech. A few things worth pointing out.

It's heavily latent with themes fighting and war. Many self-priding story's of himself and his past. John McCain claims that he “works for the people” however, a lot of his speech seemed to be about himself.

Commonly used words in his 30 minute speech:
Me - 152 times
My - 63 times
You (americans)- only 61 times
Fight - 25 times
Fought - 9 times
War - 12 times
Peace - only 5 times

“We’ll go at it over the next two months. That’s the nature of these contests”

For McCain politics isn’t much more than a contest? A fucking contest…? That’s what makes this country so great; our president is the winner of a big contest! Yea!!!

“I said I’d rather lose an election than see my country lose a war.” Again with the fucking contests! War is a loss in every thinkable way, asshole. What are you going to do, dowse the American flag with a bottle of champagne after we’ve finally mowed down every Iraqi? (A real victory!)

Yup, war is a game and politics is a contest. It’s fucking sad.

My last thought:
John McCain may possibly read teleprompted speeches with less sincerity than George Bush himself. And the saddest thing about that speech was all of the asshole McCain supporters in St. Paul who were spoon fed large doses of bullshit, ate it up and went fucking car-razzzy over it!! Simply put, the man needed to buff up on his integrity and enthusiasm and the willfully ignorant crowd needed to step the fuck off in attempt to reserve some dignity. They actually booed at the mention of Obama and the Democratic Party. They actually booed! If that was the best from the Republican Party, our country will surely be at its worst.

I think David Cross nailed it when he said, "this should be a bumper sticker... I'm an ignorant motherfucker who just watches network news and I vote."

Sep 3, 2008

Corn & Beans Dammit!

Yep, that's my job. Technically it's called a grain elevator. I will call it my home for the next two months as I will literally spend more time there than my own house.

Here's a quick rundown:

  • It is the largest structure in Tolono and the only one that defines any sort of a sky line.
  • The view from the top is extraordinary. And if you didn't know, the midwest has the best sunsets
  • It's extremely filthy, everyday I eat a dust sandwich (they're not very delicious)
  • Rotten corn smells somewhere in the middle of you're worst BM, throw up (the grade school cafeteria kind) and that black stuff under your toenails after you've let them grow too long.
  • Smoking will kill you (common knowledge) Never light a cigarette within 50 feet of the elevator. Actually don't even think about fire, if you do you'll cause a massive explosion and the people who are still alive will be pissed at you!
  • Most areas of the elevator run on 480 volts. That electrical current is so strong it won't hold on to you, it will toss you and maybe stop your heart in the process.
  • All the mobile equipment are like adult toys - big colorful knobs and joysticks, often luminescent. today I drove an End Loader - pretty rad.
  • There is a saw that has a "munch bit". It chews away at metal little by little kinda like pac-man and scatters little nibble bits all over the floor. I want one.

Aug 27, 2008

-Zip Zapped-

hello is this thing on? 1st post. things seem pretty easy - easy like it was this night to dance and teeter on the edge of consciousness many beers and codeine into it all. I'm pretty sure we drank sizzurp...