Building Pyramids

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This is the last month of Noose Ends, and I’m planning the next movement now. I’m excited to finish this year. It has been full of love and joy and excitement, rife with sadness and pain and I have come out with so many beautiful stories to tell. I’m excited to bring you into the following year with me.

I can’t explain much in this life, I can tell you with certainty though that the stories we are writing are all worth it. I promise you that much. I’ve wasted a lot of nights worrying and fretting about things that aren’t real, that won’t happen, that don’t even exist. When I was younger I first heard this rumor about Stephen King. That he hired bodyguards to stand outside his bedroom at night when he sleeps so that the things that he created won’t be able to get to him. It was a silly rumor and maybe it is true, couldn’t tell you. Don’t honestly want to find out about it because if it is true it will invalidate everything I’m about to say.

Oops.

The point is, I’ve spent hours of my life worrying about fake scenarios in my head and things that don’t matter in the long run. I create these monsters for a living and it has become my go to for real life scenarios. A while back I was panicked about something and talking to my mother, who grabbed my head and whispered to me:

“Chaim, you need to go to sleep.”

Referencing Chaim the Writer, a Seraphim from my novel universe, who writes the aspects of the story down and is sort of the main force in my writing. I’ve often joked about him living in my head because of the frequency that I will have story ideas for myself to write down. We all do this in different ways, I happen to make stories out of my fears. I haven’t gotten so proficient at writing just by luck, I’m constantly telling myself about things that don’t exist. I haven’t gotten good at the whole happy endings to the silly stories thing yet, but I’m working on it.

I like to think about things in triangles, by that I mean there are three angles to every scenario. The first, is my point, which can range from totally factual and honest to completely made up and panic stricken fairytale. Then there is the second point, the other party. Whatever they feel or think, which can stem from fairytales like my own to nothing but hard hitting facts and logic, then there is the third point which is the outside influence, what do others see and say about things? This mentality affects everything in my life from my personal relationships to my business. There is what I want, what others want, and what the world thinks I want. The important part of all of this is that there is another aspect that I don’t’ think about often. All of those points are valid and need to be examined, perhaps not all of them taken seriously, but at the least need to be seen. Then there is one more aspect in the center of it that sits at the root of the diagram I draw in my head.

That I am in control.

I may not control others actions, or thoughts, but I can control my own and I will continue to do so for as long as I live, because why would I let myself live without control over my own mentality?

So, with that said, it brings me back to the Stephen King rumor I brought up. I am great at making up scenarios that don’t make any sense or that just simply aren’t true. As a matter of fact, I’m so good at it that I’ve done it for a living. I’ve only recently been better about calming down and not letting those scenarios freak me out, I’m looking at the whole pyramid, not just the base triangle. Hanging above every problem in your life, real or imaginary, there is something you should keep in mind. The point above all of the other three is that you will always control your reaction and your own actions, there is nothing else you can do at that point, so don’t let it rib you.

You built the pyramid, after all. No monsters will get inside. Just lie down and sleep soundly.

www.linmtba.com

Year One: Ferociously Blessed (2013.11.10)

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With the news about Las Vegas today, my heart is hanging heavy. I will be spending a lot of time praying and finding out the best way to help these people. When something like this happens it is always frightening, it is scary and it is awful to hear, it happening in my own state was a bit of a wake up call.

Take something away from the news today though, our lives are so short. We don’t know how much sand is left in our own hourglass so make sure to tell those you love that you love them. Don’t let a second go past with fear or hate in your heart. If you do, people like the terrorist who did this will win.

We won’t let them win. I promise you that. I’ll be fighting every day, with love as a weapon.

I love what I do. To be honest, it is my favorite thing in the world. I have this incredible opportunity in front of me with my clothing company and my writing and all of that. It floors me sometimes. I realize that not many people get to say what I just said, there are so many people who get up and go to work and go home and go to bed and get up and go to work and so on and so on… I don’t get to do that and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

Writing is my passion, above everything else, and besides writing, I get to draw, and sing, and play instruments, and live this beautiful life what with its little hurdles. I am so ferociously blessed, that I can’t often comprehend. I have just spent the last three days working with one of my best friends in the world on my passion, and we have spent the last two days doing photo shoots with a beautiful girl, who happily represented my company. We even have another model lined up to shoot tomorrow. When people told me that this was going to be hard work, I agreed, because I knew that it was going to be hard work day in and day out. The thing they didn’t say though, which happens to be the most important thing, is that I absolutely love doing what I do. Meeting new people, getting the opportunities to make new friends and talk to artists and expand my view of the world.

Who gives a rat’s balls what you do with your life? It is your life. Do whatever makes you happy, that’s what I’m doing, and let me tell you honestly. I love every second of it. If you are sitting at home or in a coffee shop reading this, and maybe question what you want to do with your life, I have only one thing to tell you.

Do whatever the hell you want to.

As I type this, I am sitting less than ten feet away from one of my best friends who probably is doing the same thing that I am doing. Typing up a blog about our weekend. And this? This is work. Can you believe it? Every single thing I do is work to me, and I love doing it. If you hate your job, and can’t find a good reason to get up and do it every day, I hope that you find out what will make you feel like this soon. Because I want every single person in the world to feel how I feel right now. I am ecstatic about life, friends, the ability to be creative, Anxious about my future, but still completely calm at the same time and to be truthful, just a little bit exhausted from all of the nothing it has felt like we’ve done this weekend. Even though it has felt like we have done nothing, We both have accomplished so much.

This trip hit my life at the same time that some emotional turbulence did, but I am so thankful for it, because it got me away, it got me to sit down in a whole different reality and look at my life. Right now I am living a story, and somewhere along the line I think I forgot that.

I remember now, though.

In some small way, it feels like the story to a book, like a real book. The Hobbit, or Harry Potter, I don’t know. Maybe somewhere out there, there is a room just full of old dudes, who constantly watch a certain group of people, and write out every single thing that they do. they would put them chronologically and arrange them into a story, bind the pages with some leather and store them away when they die. There would be millions of these dudes, just sitting in buildings on the highest peaks of the Earth, or the deepest levels of the sea in little huts. What if at the end of our lives we get that book? It would be considered a great value on Earth, it took nearly 80 years to write and it’s full of a lifetime of stories. I believe that there is something like that out there maybe. I have no way of knowing for sure… All I know right now is that someone out there is ready to hear my story. I want to make sure that when I meet that Person, I hope to have a good one, because I am ready to tell it.

 

It’s adventure time.

If you liked this blog post, consider picking up the compilation and giving the rest of them a read! I’d appreciate it so much. You can find them on my website as well as Amazon.

October is always a big month, I’ll be rearranging the blog and my webpage a bit as the days go by + I have cool stuff on the way soon! I love all of you. Spooky Saturday will be returning this weekend + I’ll be managing my YouTube channel a bit better, participating in NaNoWriMo + more. For updates, check out the S+I website. 🙂

www.linmtba.com

The Knot That Breaks (Noose Ends)

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I usually save this post for the end of October, but as I woke up from a nap this afternoon I decided I needed to say it now.

Keep holding on friends, Life is not Meant to be Awful.

I was laying on my bed this afternoon napping lazily through my day, I woke up at 7, played guitar, sang songs, watched Friends, wrote poetry and spent time admiring all of the beauty that God placed into my life.

I realized in all of this that I haven’t actually published a blog post in weeks.

Oops.

There is a part of me that wishes I could come to you with some story like, “oh, I’ve been so stressed and out of it, but this is how I got over it.”

But that isn’t the case. I’m much happier to come here and say I’ve forgotten to post my blog posts this month because I have been so happy just living and being around and writing. Enjoying my time on the Earth while I still have it.

I started Noose Ends in the darkest place I think I’ve ever been in. The whole world was on the verge of swallowing me. Sure, I had just published Mean Shadows, I was working through poetry, starting YouTube, working on music, my job was great, my friends and I were great, my roommates were great and so much about that time was great but I refused to just shut up and watch the magic of my world unfold.

I basked in the darkness, I let it surround me. Reveling in heartbreak and the unsure moments I feasted on like oozing fruit in a brass bowl, I sunk my fingers into the darkness and told the world that biting through it would make the rest of the world light.

Stop me, if you’ve heard this before. I know I’ve said it.

Mod Sun recently has been working on some new music and I’ve kept an eye on it, being as I am and connecting my own life to music, Movie, his last project sat with me in a deep and heavily emotional way. I poured over lyrics and concepts he mentioned and glued it to my life (As I clearly have a problem doing with my musical inspirations.)

Still, he’s been previewing this new song and one of the lines is…

“Grow through what you go through.”

I thought it pretty ironic that it came up after this year. So much has changed, friends are moving, more of us are settling down, things are moving sometimes too fast to keep a handle on. We are building our lives and we are still going through all the mud and the dirt, we are swinging from the rafters hand over hand like a jungle gym.

I started this year in darkness, lost, hoping that I could be some kind of light to you and that I would reflect whatever I cast out so that it would shine back on to me. So much has changed. So much has gotten better.

I was sitting outside of my apartment the other night looking at the sky, there were these huge tunderheads above me and rain was threatening to pour from space and cover the city. Later that day, when it did, I was thinking about the people I’ve met and the people I have had the chance to grow with. I was with someone and I was talking about painting sunsets, cleaning up the rings in the ocean and more. All of these things my mom and I had talked about Heaven.

I think, what is most beautiful about this year is that I have struggled to find a place, I have struggled to fight off the demons in my heart and my head. I have struggled to get my feet back on the ground. I have struggled to stop myself from choking.

Yet, here I am. The noose I tied, made out of the people in the city, the feelings that were returned to me broken, the shortcomings of my own creativity and goals, rejection letters and denied applications, poems that failed, a world that seemed out to get me slowly faded away as the snow melted this year.

I spent the whole summer thinking about what I need to get better.

I just didn’t see that it was right in front of me.

If you are where I was, hell, where I am, I’m not out of the darkness yet. I doubt I ever will be, but damn, if you feel these things, take a nap, watch some friends, eat some peanut butter cups and think about this.

The sky at sunset.

The way the moon shines red behind smoke like a big ruby.

The way your friends and loved ones laugh.

The way you’re still here.

There is beauty in that.

There is beauty in all of this.

We just have to stop looking at all the rotten fruit and appreciate the beautiful bowl it is sitting in, then we can remind ourselves to pluck it out and replace it with the good.

It is never too late. I promise you that.

Keep swinging, keep struggling, and keep focusing on the end goal. It is coming. I promise you that.

I promise you that.

www.linmtba.com

Why Worry?

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Welcome to September, we are only one month away from the end of Noose Ends, I’d tell you I have something special planned if I did, but I don’t, I’m just out here working on this bridge, trying to make it the best one in the countryside.

I often think about my story through life, how I got from A to B, then to C, and here we are at R, or T, or whatever letter that would best explain where I’m at today. One of my favorite things for no real reason at all, is tracing where I’m at today back as far as I can. I work where I do because of The Fish, I worked at The Fish because of my friend Lukas, I met Lukas through Preston, I met Preston through Choir in high school etc.

Every moment in my life I can trace back to the beginning, I remember the hallmark moments that brought me to sit where I am today. When I think of things in this perspective all of the pressure to succeed and to keep pushing forward seems so much less significant, as if, perhaps I was meant to be here today.

Perhaps there is another Alva Tobias out there somewhere, perfectly painted and created to be a non-stop machine that can work without pause that can accept all manner of ridiculous emotional stress without batting an eye and can continue as if nothing happened.

Perhaps not, that isn’t how we were built.

A few years back I had a blog post in which I mentioned that God built us like trees, not machines. We are organic and sometimes we need to hibernate, otherwise we will wither. We are not a bunch of mechanical pieces that are strapped together for the purpose of production. We need rest, we need breaks.

I go on this rants pretty frequently about how important it is for us to remember where we came from and who we are today. To think hard about where we want to be.

The pressures that come from trying to live your dreams can be insurmountable at first glance, but look at you, you’re doing it without even thinking about it.

What I’m saying here is that I have a tendency to worry.

I worry about how my books sell, how many people see my blog and my YouTube videos and so on. There are some nights that I crawl into bed, exhausted just from the stress I gave myself from worrying about my business and my future. What is interesting to me in all of this, is that my future is happening right now. As I’m writing this, I am potentially cementing something in the future for myself, some kind of success or new opportunity I would not have had if I had not written this blog post. I do the same thing every single day at work, I speak to all kinds of people I may never see again, a handful of them have come in and made themselves at home with me and others will remember me for a while in the least.

Isn’t that the coolest shit?

Our lives are always building. We are always digging paths, building bridges and watering gardens we have planted with every new thing we do each day.

If you’re worried about your future today, I want to let you know, you don’t have to worry.

There might be another version of you out there somewhere, perfectly painted and created to be a non-stop machine that can work without pause and can accept all manner of ridiculous emotional stress without batting an eye, continuing as if nothing happened.

But probably not, that isn’t how we were built. That isn’t how we grow.

Take your stress and think about this:

You are standing in front of a wide river, the current is fast and you know that if you jump into it then you will be swept away. However, you need to get to the other side. Across that river, there is a city with a grocery store, so you can feed your family, or yourself. Within that city also lies your duty. You must pay the tab for keeping the land behind you, you must pay your taxes, you know that if you do not, someone will come along and take what is rightfully yours. You have a number of bills that must be paid, for lumber and metal that you purchased earlier so that you could extend your house a bit. To give yourself or your family more room. With you, you are wearing a heavy brown apron. Inside of it there is a handful of nails, a saw, and a hammer. Your carpentry tools jingle and smack against your thighs as you come to see that there is no bridge where you thought one would be.

What do you do?

Will you venture along the side of the river, looking for a bridge elsewhere, or will you turn to your right and begin cutting down the trees that are there beside you, so that you can get across in a timely manner. You have all of the skills, after all, you are a carpenter and you’ve built your own home.

Are you going to let others take that away from you while you wander along the banks of a rapid river, worrying about how you don’t know the next step?

Or are you going to make the next step yourself?

If you enjoyed this, I’d love if you shared it to Facebook/Twitter and just let your friends see it too. It would mean the world to me, maybe a few of us could meet up and get to building some cool stuff together.

Buffalo Bouncy Balls (Year Two: 2015.9.18)

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I actually spoke with my mom not so long ago about this trip and the effect it had on me. I learned a lot of things in Reno that night.

A while back, I took a trip to Reno and it was pretty rough. I was followed around by a car for like… five miles of me looping around downtown Reno. I was pulled over for a tail light issue. I wasn’t able to hang out with any of the people I tried to spend time with. Some ignored me, some were busy, and all around it was a pretty rough trip. However, like everything else in this life, it wasn’t without wonderful things. At the end, I got to have lunch with my old friend Emma, who I hadn’t heard from in a number of minutes. (Months, maybe.) We talked about her schooling and her boyfriend and the band she was in at the time. I talked about books, basically. (That’s all I have to talk about anymore. I need to find new topics.) Regardless, it was great to see her bright shining face after two days of suck.

There was one other thing however, that I have been waiting to write about until the right time. That time would be right now, because of certain events in my life.

So, let me set the day…

I arrived in Reno, went to drop a book off to a girl I met in a Barnes & Noble on a previous trip. Found out she no longer worked there, since I didn’t get any of her information I couldn’t message her or anything. So I left the bookstore kind of bummed. (Something I never do. Not from a book store.) I then stopped off at the mall and at some other stores to poke around and kill time. After so long I headed out. It was getting late, so I texted another friend asking to hang out. They didn’t reply. I texted the next person I wanted to see and likewise they didn’t reply either, so I was driving around Reno with no real goal in mind. Just looking for something cool to visit. Then, the second friend sent me a message telling me that they would be off work late but they would love to see me. So I parked my car in a Target parking lot and read “It” until I was to get word back, I sat in that parking lot for almost two hours, about an hour and a half after they told me they would be finished working and ready to meet up. So I figured, whatever, I’m starving. I need to get food. If nobody else messages me back I’ll find a place to crash and do so. So, I had never been to a Buffalo Wild Wings and there was one in the parking lot, so I popped over and decided to grab some food. After I had put in my order I sat on the bench listening to music and watching the people there.

Among the people coming to eat, there was this one waitress who I’m still pretty sure thought I was stalking her because every time I happened to look her way she was looking at me, and eventually she started taking the long way around the entrance. But hey, if by some longshot she’s reading this, I just thought you were cute. I wasn’t trying to be creepy, I promise. It was definitely an accident and I am not insane. I just don’t know when to blink, really.

Regardless of that, all these people were running around and completing tasks, getting beer, running food, seating tables. It felt homey to watch because that is my element, the chaos of a restaurant on a busy night is one of the places I feel most at home. Standing amid this clamor of people was an older gentleman in a black polo with black jeans and some non-slip work shoes, holding a 40 gallon trash bag full of bouncy balls. Propped up before him was one of those arcade machines where you use a claw to get a toy of some kind for 50 cents. The front door was open and this guy was placing these rubber balls into the container, slowly and carefully. I ended up watching him do it for close to twenty minutes because it was so enthralling.

My first thought was that his job probably sucks. He has to go into a bunch of really loud places with screaming kids and grumpy parents and greasy pizza and load these dumb balls into glass containers so people can blow money trying to get them. As soon as I had this thought, it was replaced by another. The look on this guy’s face.

It was the most peaceful, happy look I have seen in years. He was just smiling into the glass box and taking these rubber balls one at a time and moving them around, making sure that they all sat comfortably. I began to wonder why I didn’t have that look as often.

There was this guy, who had what seemed like a pretty boring job, who looked like he was loving every second of it. Adjusting, placing, grabbing a new ball and repeating the process. I wonder how often people have seen me working at any of my jobs and seen the same look. Probably not nearly as often as I’d like, or at all. I tend to have resting bitch face. Even if I’m on top of the world, my face still apparently tells people that someone dumped on my shoes before I came into work. One guy at a table even told me I always looked like I could smell something bad.

Maybe it was me, I dunno. Maybe he was trying to hint at something without hurting my feelings. (This whole thing will be relevant again next week. Just so you know.)

Anyway, as I watched this guy, I started playing out his thoughts in my own head. Just a made up scenario based on what I was seeing. He was standing there, maybe humming a tune to himself, maybe thinking about all the kids that were going to be over the top to realize that they now have their very own bouncy ball. Maybe his next stop was a strip joint and he was excited to see the women. I have no idea.

What I do know, is regardless of the reason, that guy enjoyed what he was doing in that moment. It was one of those small moments that changed my outlook forever.

So, next time either of us are stupid busy at work, or we are having a rough night, let’s think about rubber ball guy. How happy he was to be doing his job. How okay he felt about the whole thing. Knowing that what he was doing right then was going to make someone happy in the future.

I may never see that man again, I probably won’t, but I will always carry that memory with me when I’m serving tables, cooking food, writing, or when a friend calls me asking for help at an ungodly hour of the night.

I will always remember that the things I’m doing now will hopefully make someone feel like a happy child in the near future.

I’ve got to say, that’s a good feeling. I hope one day I get to give all of you a cool rubber ball and you end up smiling like that guy at Buffalo Wild Wings. Then we can all get together in a big room and bounce and smile together.

Yeah, that sounds like fun.

If you enjoyed this blog post + it helped bring a smile to your face, consider picking up the compilation book that it is a part of. 🙂

Debt Collectors

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Once, I had a close friend who told me that she didn’t owe the world anything. That she didn’t owe her father anything because she didn’t ask to be born. She didn’t owe her friends, her mother, her ex, her lovers anything. She never gave a reason to me though I asked. All she said was that she was so caught up believing that she had some debt to repay that it was giving her anxiety, so she thought long and hard and came to that realization.

I tried to understand but I just couldn’t seem to agree. I thought of her perspective, a teenager who had been enduring things beyond her on the best days. One day her opinion may change, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently.

I’ve come head to head with many people who hold this same belief. They owe no explanation, no trust, no love or faith to anyone living. Their lives are their own and they are in complete control of them, they tell me.

Yet they come to me and other friends regularly telling of ways that they can’t seem to get a handle on the world they are living in. That it is all so complicated and so hard to understand. That so many things are always happening that it seems like they can’t keep their heads above water. That they lose purpose.

Another friend once asked me how I can get out of bed every day and go about my life. I lived at home for a long time, I worked a “dead end” job and my books weren’t selling. My YouTube channel was full with a cool 8 subscribers and my Twitter feed was a ghost town of advertisements and cries for book sales.

Why do I get out of bed every morning, you ask?

Because I have a debt to repay.

My mother and father didn’t consult me when it came to bringing me into this world. They didn’t prepare me for broken A/C units or credit card debt. They didn’t explain at first that life would swing a lot harder than any bully I had met in high school. They didn’t ask me if I wanted to be here, yet here I am.

I owe my parents everything.

In a universe that knows not who I am, a cosmic mosh pit that doesn’t know me from Adam, how can I get up every day knowing life is meaningless?

Because it isn’t.

Like many things in my life, I have held the philosophy that everything comes down to me. I create the world I am living in. If I hate the people I work with, it will be hell going to work every day. If I disrespect my parents, I won’t have a safety net when I need it. If I crush the dreams of my friends in the pursuit of mine, I will live in a golden castle atop a lonely country hillside.

What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t put this blameless mentality into our heads. This idea that we don’t owe the world anything makes our hearts hard. Don’t you think we have hardened our hearts enough? With the dichotomy in politics and the strained ideals of the everyday person that lives today, don’t you think it would be best if we were to take a slow breath and think to ourselves…

“What can I do to make this world better, safer, nicer, happier?”

Get away from the concept that everything is a debt to be repaid. It isn’t. On one hand you can say that you don’t owe anyone anything, on the other I’d say you owe your loved ones in the least, everything you have.

Each word I write, even the vulgarity, I owe to my mother for raising me to be talented.

Every nut and bolt I adjust in the engine of my truck I owe to my father for teaching me how to repair things.

Every burst of creativity is owed to my parents and my friends for being the fire beneath my feet that keeps me moving forward.

So, to answer the question, I get out of bed every morning because I have a tremendous debt to repay.

Each breath I take should be a labor of love and gratitude that even though I didn’t ask to be at this party, I was still invited and welcomed. I have found a nest with many people who love and appreciate me and I have found a purpose. I have created this nest for myself through my own hard work and my own dedication, but more than that I have created is because one day I know that someone will need my help. My wife, my child, my friends, it could be anyone, anywhere, for anything.

I don’t owe that person a damned thing, but I will give them whatever I can to help them along their way. They will owe me nothing in return, not because I don’t want debts repaid or favors returned, but because my life is going to be too short to try to keep a tally of all the things I’ve done or will do in it.

You may think that you owe no one anything, but you should do well to remember that no one owes you a thing either.

Not the parents who gave you clothing and shelter and food.

Not the teachers who tried their damnedest to educate you.

Not the employers who provide you with paychecks so you can feed your own family.

Not the countless people you cross day to day who don’t pillage your home or vehicle so that they can get ahead.

Life is not about accruing and paying off debt.

It is about doing things for one another, in kindness, without being asked and without expecting things in return, as so many people have done for you and I, we should do for the rest of them.

I hope that you forgive a debt today. I certainly know that I am.

After all, no one owes me anything.

www.linmtba.com