The Mountain Of…

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I’ll tell you something. I hate repeated information. When someone tells me the same story forty-eight times it drives me crazy. My desire to hear you go on about the “super cute thing” your dog did last January for the third time this week isn’t actually at the top of my list of things to listen to.

I would much rather do any of the following.

Write

Stand in the rain.

Burn my house down.

Burn your house down.

Burn your doghouse down. (I wouldn’t let the dog be hurt, don’t worry.)

I would staple my own calf before willingly listening to the sound of your baby crying and then “ooh wait look what she does next” for what can only be a record breaking time. Somewhere in the millions that I’ve heard that child hiccup in the middle of a crying fit and begin laughing and to be honest with you it sounds about as warming and cheerful as a glass of kombucha I left in the sun yesterday would feel sliding down my throat.

Still, as much as I hate this thing. This incessant need to tell the same story to our loved ones sixteen million times, I also realize I do this same thing. It permeates everything, too. My blog, my day to day life, I write poetry on the same topics I’ve used the same concepts in personal writing, professional writing and recreational writing because I just like them so much.

If I were a greater man I wouldn’t go on about how they are “different” scenarios and so the pet peeve doesn’t matter for me, but it does. It really, really does.

It’s like, have you ever gone on a hike? I mean a real hike, not necessarily a nature trail. Although, you may see nature trails like I see hikes. Regardless, at the base of the hike you just see the beginning of the trail. One that springs to memory (not that I’m an avid hiker, or anything.) is this trail out in a canyon near my home. It’s not long, by the standards of a man who doesn’t drink six cans of soda and who won’t shamelessly down a pint of cheese dip covering anything he can get his delicate yet greasy fingers on. It’s only a mile or so, there are lots of switchbacks and the bottom of the path is ultimately deceiving. I ascended this path one day with my friends, assuming it would be a short hike and it would be over quickly. I didn’t consider that the path would climb into the canyon and suddenly become a sharp incline that I didn’t prepare for. I was in slip on Vans and skinny jeans when we set off. My pasty white ass burns in four and a half seconds flat and I didn’t have sunscreen, water, or appropriate willpower to tackle the path as it grew from meandering to downright threatening for a chubster like myself.

But I climbed it.

By the end I had to rest beneath a tree for something like an hour, hoping that my heart wouldn’t burst from how excited it was that I finally did something physical besides moving my fingers across a keyboard or flicking my mouse.

I thought the journey would be simple, that I could tackle it like I tackled everything before me. With nothing in my pockets and a heart full of confidence and an ego that just won’t quit.

Then it got hard and I wanted to turn back, so bad.

It became the same pattern over and over of climbing and resting and climbing and rubbing my calves. Wiping sweat from my brow and making sure I didn’t slip and fall down the cliff, because as I was about ¾ of the way through I decided something.

I was not going to let that mountain beat me. I was not going to give up, no matter what I did.

In that moment I would have rather:

Written.

Stood in the rain.

Burned my house down.

Burned the forest down.

Knocked down a beehive and let them take me prisoner to their terrible stings while I cried and asked random passersby if they had kombucha to spare.

When I reached the peak of that mountain though, It was freeing.

I still have the photo my friends and I had taken together. Arms folded across one another, and though you couldn’t see our faces we were all smiling.

I wanted to quit smoking that day.

I didn’t.

I threw away that pack I had though, didn’t change the fact that I bought a new one later that week.

As soon as I had made it home, I’m sure.

After I had overcome the path and shown it I was serious about reaching the top, I realized that it wasn’t that far of a climb, to be honest. It seemed so long because we stopped so much and because we had to backtrack and climb the switchbacks on the way up.

Each morning I look at that path again, whether I want to or not.

I’ve found that I pay special attention to it when I don’t think about it. I understand that the sentiment doesn’t make sense, but hear me out. More often than not, when we are ill prepared for something it takes that much more of a toll on us. It’s why it hurts so much more when children die as opposed to adults. We come to expect death with each year we age. Eventually, those of us lucky enough reach a moment where death will take us at any time. We are just waiting for him to catch his bus that’ll take him to our home. Children don’t have that. We expect kids to live long and full lives. We put our hopes and dreams into them and when they are taken by disease or ill fate, it hurts that much worse. We weren’t ready for that. It isn’t fair.

It’s the same with everything we can anticipate. I set money aside every time I get paid in case something happens. My car breaks, my appliances break. My clothing is stolen, whatever you want to assume, I try to be ready for it with extra fluff in my bank account.

I know that I don’t do this with relationships. Or, anymore, much of anything. I think it comes from not thinking about what I have in my life.

I’m pretty good at a few things. Writing, Vulgarity, exaggerating stories, making mountains out of mole hills and I consider myself to be excellent at doing nothing at all. I mean that. Nothing.

I can be content to lay in bed for six more hours than I should have been in bed just sleeping and rolling over, until my back hurts and my bones hurt because I have been horizontal for so long.

That practice bleeds over into so many things anymore, and that’s what I’m here for today.

The mountains I’ve made of nothing.

A few days ago, something around two weeks I had a pretty bad day regarding my time. I feel as if I don’t have time to complete everything. I want to write and game and spend time with my girlfriend. I want to see my parents and I want to go to work. I want to relax, and I want to spend time building my future. I want to learn, and I want to sleep and I need to eat and clean myself yet, it’s damn hard to do all of those things at once. Have you ever eaten a tuna melt in the shower? Beer is one thing but getting water on your bread is akin to blasphemy.

Consider your morning routine. How many of us spend it on our cell phone? Not that I’m disparaging the use of our black box brains but think about it. I spend roughly a half an hour on my phone before I roll out of bed. Sleepily liking things, I don’t want to like. Opening up comments on tweets and typing “qwefyhsssssssss” to a random internet personality for them to look at and question later, if they ever see it.

When I finally wake up I decide to do one of two things. Work, or Play. Each day I set aside time for both, and each day I make it a point to focus more on one than the other. When I play, I spend time with friends and family, gaming, what have you. When I work, I work. I sit down at my computer and go as hard as I can for as long as my eyes will allow, taking breaks to get dinner or to go do something useful.

I separate things in my mind to make them easier to process, but the fact is, not everything can be so cleanly separated from everything else. I need things to be linked together. Hang out with friends, play video games. Spend time with my girlfriend, clean the house. Whatever the case may be. I need to couple activities to get all of this stuff done at once.

Do you remember how mountains are formed?

It happens in a couple different ways, both of them equally important.

When two tectonic plates collide, the force smashes them together until one of them slides beneath the other and a mountain is the result, on the other hand, volcanoes that are formed end up warping rock layers above them and those mountains bend and become “small” mounds on the surface of the Earth.

Smashing activities together, trying to blend everything into one big mess is a lot llike folding mountains. We try and multi-task and end up cheapening the experience of both activities in most cases. Of course, Video Games were designed with multiplayer in mind, so that isn’t a great example but on the other hand, what kind of date consists of cleaning an apartment?

To most people I’d venture to guess that it doesn’t. Usually dates don’t involve cleaning grime off the kitchen tile. I don’t necessarily see it that way, but that’s another conversation for another blog. Regardless of the facets that we utilize to make the most of our time, generally we should consider cutting some things out. It’s healthy to say no. If you don’t want to go. Don’t go. If you don’t want to stay, don’t stay. I have a problem with saying no, one that I seem to have adopted overnight. I don’t like disappointing my friends and family and especially my girlfriend and yet it seems as though I do all of those things regularly. I am the master at breaking apart my time into easily manageable chunks and wasting all of it.

Of course, there is the other type of mountain, when the problems you deal with bubble up below the surface and despite how hard you try to hold it in, eventually, it will crack and when that pressure escapes there isn’t much anyone else can do but get away.

I’m guilty of both, frequently.

I regularly make simple tasks out to be these huge deals and act like I don’t have time for them when in reality, I have all the time in the world.

Which brings me back to repeating things.

I see myself often saying the same things to the same questions on the same days.

“Want to hang out?”

“Nah, gotta work.”

“Want to finish this novel?”

“I think I’ll go watch YouTube.”

“What are you watching?”

“I don’t’ know, want to get dinner?”

“What are you doing after?”

“Probably gaming.”

“Wanna raid?”

“Nah, Gotta work.”

“Want to finish this novel?”

You see the cycle?

Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap that we each so easily create for ourselves.

I give myself a few hours in a day to perform certain tasks and if they go unfinished I panic, as if I don’t have time for them later. I consider that this world spins around me, after all, so it should bend to my will.

Shouldn’t it?

No. It shouldn’t.

I am fantastic at making problems bigger than they need to be by repeating the same taglines I use to describe them. I use the same excuses to worm my way out of things. I use the same tactics to stall until the last moment to commit to anything. Hell, even when I pray I ask for the same things. Guidance, grace, hope, love, patience and so on. I’m not saying that any of those things are bad, but the fact that I find myself begging for them every single night should be a sign.

Instead of begging for an end to anxiety I should be asking and looking for ways to deal with it.

Rather than asking for hope, I should find the things that will make me hopeful.

Instead of asking to be loving, I should practice being loving, which, I’ll tell you, has been difficult for me for a while now.

If you saw the things I’ve said or the way I’ve said them, you would be surprised.

I am not me, tonight and I am not sure when I went away.

I think, I went to go climb a mountain.

If you see me out there, tell me to slow down. I have a mole hill to climb and get myself re-organized.

Don’t spin those small hills into giants that you don’t want to overcome.

You can beat them.

You will beat them.

Let yourself be tricked by the first few feet of your path. Let yourself believe it is easy, and when it gets hard, remember to take breaks.

Hang out with your girlfriend.

Game with your friends.

Read a book.

Call your mother.

Whatever you do, don’t ever let yourself forget that this mountain you are facing is colored with everything that you could imagine. This mountain is a million worlds wrapped into one, decorated with the souls of everyone you love and everyone you can’t seem to understand. It’s even home to those who can’t stand you. It doesn’t have to be a monolith, because I promise you, it is not the only thing in life. It is a mountain. Just like every mountain elsewhere. Painted to look like everything you fear and everything you hope. Some are tall, some are fat. Some are steep but all of them, every mountain…

Is the mountain of regret, hope, joy, luck, pain, sorrow, anxiety…

Life.

Don’t give up.

Thank you for May.

Two to One

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Back in the day, there was a Greek myth about Zeus creating man, how we were originally built with four arms and legs, two heads and so on, but fearing our power he split us into two pieces, cursing us to forever search for our other half as punishment evidently for being cooler than a God.

I’ve used this myth before in a few places, a best man toast, a couple other blog posts, and in day to day conversation with others generally speaking to them about relationship troubles and the purpose of relationships. While I can’t accredit this myths factuality to anything in particular. I’m saying that I don’t have the answer to whether this was true or if it was some made up social media post about people to be inspiring.

What I can talk about is the message sent here.

In counting all of the human’s attributes, they glossed over something much more important to the facets of a relationship.

We were born with two ears and one mouth.

Which means that in all things we do, we should use those ears more than we should use our mouths. All too often I find myself more willing to speak on things and tell others about my life, or how to fix their problems when the reality of the situation is that I should be silent and listening, valuing their time much more than I should be valuing my own. Even as I write this I can think of moments within the past two days in which I should have been listening to others and not talking over them. It isn’t intentional, I believe I have important things to say.

Of course, that is the root of the problem then, isn’t it? We each believe that what we have to say is valuable and others need to hear it. Yet, the information we have that needs to be conveyed will still be there at the end of a conversation and we must be delicate in framing what we respond with.

Have you ever been speaking with someone and zoned out, forgetting or not listening to what it is that they’ve said. I tell others often that when I’m working I don’t want to be bothered. If I am in my office writing or doing some other task, I can’t be bothered because if I am I won’t be able to regain my focus. This has led to more than one scenario involving someone I care about feeling as if I don’t listen to them when they are speaking. I wanted to argue this point here and explain that I had set up a time to work and a time to relax, if that can’t be followed what is the point of setting those things up? So on and so forth, but it shurks the actual responsibility of my friendship or relationship to ignore them through and through. It takes the issue I am writing about and turns it into a me issue, an excuse, not a them issue.

Should we consider ourselves a higher caste than another we would know that they would have no need to speak to us? There is nothing they could say that we wouldn’t already know, there is nothing they have to say that would bear any weight. We would be above them. This is the mentality of someone who chooses not to listen to another human for their own selfish needs. I’m not saying that there won’t be times where people will say things completely irrelevant or unnecessary to you but that doesn’t mean every word out of their mouth is spoken without purpose.

The fine details of our lives are spoken through the subtext of our actions and words, we convey how we truly feel or think through the way we speak and how we behave. It is much like knowing someone is upset because of the way they tell you they are upset. They could not admit anything and you would still know because there is a sorrowful lilt to the way they say it.

This is the purpose of our ears. Two mechanisms affixed to the sides of our skulls so that we may hear. We may hear the way others love. We may hear the way others hurt. We may hear others flashes of joy and excitement through their tone, despite the words coming from their mouths. We should be doing this twice as often as we speak, as well. Not everyone will come to understand this idea. There are people in droves who believe the things they say are really important and should be heard by everyone and that is okay, some people are just more important than us. Some people don’t have the desire to listen and understand or listen to feel.

Sometimes, though it frustrates me to no end, this even includes me. I know, hilarious right? The author admitting that sometimes he gets talking a bit too much. You’d think the downsides of my profession would inherently be something much less obvious.

Today, I challenge you to listen to another. Find something within them that is worth hearing, worth considering, listen twice as much as you speak and really devour the things you hear. Especially what you hear between the words and the sounds of the trees or rivers or cities. This world is rife with sounds of life and that is the most powerful notion I have felt in a long time.

We are here, we are alive. We will be gone one day and on my tombstone I’d like it to say something like, he spoke often, he spoke well + good, but the testament to the man buried in this ground is that he was able to listen through your words and hear the feelings you felt, the things you were afraid or embarrassed to say and he helped us bring them out.

God of the Gateway

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The stars are these celestial beings spiraling above us at all hours of the day, singing hymns for the purpose of this universe. We are not unlike them, as we sing our own purpose too. With our passions and our hobbies, the way we meticulously trim grass or paint houses, we are adding to this kind of infinite chorus of the universe.

Each time you step out your front door the world changes, every time you make a decision it changes again. We live for this great meaning and yet so many of us don’t know our actual purpose.

There is a time and a place for all of us, it may not be today, it may not be next year, but every year that goes past we are given unlimited ways to build up and create our own life.

I like to think of it like this, at the onset of every morning, we are given a choice, stay in bed for a while and find the momentum to stand up, or stay there and rest. When we get up we have a handful of new choices to make. Shower, eat, get to work, play video games, paint, whatever the choice may be you have decided to move forward in one way or another. If you shower and eat, you are filling yourself with energy for the day. If you sit down to game for a while before jumping into your tasks, you are training your reflexes and hand eye coordination. If you read in the morning you are expanding your breadth of knowledge by a bit with every turned page.

Each action we make causes a new set of decisions to unfold before us. We can rarely choose multiple paths, lest we find ourselves overwhelmed by the pressure of completing many things at once. Of course this isn’t always the case and that idea is remarkable.

We can take on an infinite amount of tasks and jobs, or whatever the case may be. We will do many things in our lives but even if we stack up all of the things each of us chooses to do, let’s take the things we say, for example.

If we counted up on a celestial abacus all of the things each human that has ever existed has said, we still would not come close to the number of stars hanging in the sky above.

We are not infinite, not in our physical bodies, at least.

This also means we have been blessed with a kind of choose your own adventure that nothing else on earth is allowed to have. We can decide our own fate and our own destinies simply by the first choice of getting up in the morning. Having that kind of power is awe inspiring, isn’t it?

Within each of us there rests a small piece of something that another human needs to make it through the day. Encouragement, love, inspiration, a stern talking to. Everything we do, and I literally mean everything is watched by our peers. Every time I make a foolish decision, someone sees it and someone knows that I have done so, which will later on be used to see me in a different kind of light. When I do something that is encouraging or good for another, people will see that and they will likely turn around and do something the same for another.

We are linked together through this small connection, endless energy pouring out of our souls and into one another much like the stars that hand above us. Galaxies crash into each other the same way we meet people and become friends or partners or associates. We are all tiny galaxies adrift in the ever stretching galleon of space and time. A ship within a ship, I believe.

All of these choices we have to make, for good and for bad, come down to our own minds. Will we take up the honor of the stars and do everything in our power to love and uplift, or will we take a moment to consider that in a machine this large, nothing truly matters?

I think my answer is the former, and my response to the latter is this:

We were not built to be machines. We were built like trees. We grow upwards and our roots sink deep into the earth. We may leave our homes but those roots will always be there to feed us. My family will always support me, my friends will always be there for me. My life will always carry significant meaning because of the people that have crossed paths with me. All of these things rest in the end, on my shoulders.

I would much rather stand tall and stretch out, even on a lazy day, to be there when someone needs me than to sit idly by and watch as the world, as big and wondrous as it can be, still shake someone to the bones.

The world around us is a mean and nasty place sometimes. We know this right now more than we ever have, we can turn on any news station and see that this world is not what the peace bearing leaders of our past wanted it to be, so we should take up their mantle and fight.

Not with hands, but with words.

I believe in a God. This is not an unknown idea, and I believe this God did not design us to watch the world around us spiral out of control. I think our purpose is much grander than just picking up a passion, although important, I think we need to find our passion and use it to uplift, encourage, and to remind those around us that we are all just like stars. Each one of us twinkles in the night time, regardless of what we have done, there is purpose born into us.

We will never outgrow that, even those who choose not to use it.

The first step to all of this… is looking at the gateway before us and stepping through.

If you like this, be sure to check out the Life is not Meant to be Awful compilations over on Amazon! There you’ll find the first four years worth of blog post goodness.

A Cathedral of Ants

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I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about how I speak and how I act, who I am as a person and the things I’ve said to others over the course of my life.

In some countryside, standing proudly beneath an old farm house, built before the people in it were born, built when the dustbowl was raging, built in a time that the generation before me sometimes refer to as a “simpler time” lies an anthill.

This anthill has survived for centuries, through queen after queen.

Although, Queen can sometimes be misinterpreted. In human life, a queen rules and makes decisions regarding the status and the safety of her people.

However, A Queen Ant doesn’t have much say in the activities of her workers. She, rather, sits in the center of the maze and is used to produce more and more ants so that more and more dirt is moved, more food is found, and more ants are made.

In this aspect, there is a Queen, (Or King, for the sensitive) ant inside of your mind.

See, an ant colony is built meticulously, and despite the time it takes to do things perfectly to humans, ants can do this in a fraction of the time, developing cathedrals across the world, building homes for themselves to continue about their business as mindlessly as ever, picking up one small stone or fractured piece of dirt, driftwood or what have you to bring back and fortify the chapel, to deliver food to the queen and the other workers. Though, unlike us, they have no lunch time. They eat when the world allows them to. They live in a day to day course of venturing, delivering, and continuing their course.

I found this particularly interesting, given how many similarities we share with ants when it comes to the words that we say.

Often I find myself speaking mindlessly about something, it may be a topic I have extensive knowledge upon, it may be an idea I wish to learn, it may be something I’ve heard and I want to share. This is an especially terrible action to set my ants upon, because if I speak words which hold no truth, it will not matter to the ant colony. They will deliver it into the ears of another and the idea will root within their minds.

We must be careful in how we use our words, we must be mindful of how we speak to one another.

Once the words leave our minds they are as ants. Small morsels of gossip that are brought to the minds of other hungry colonies, begging for something to take them away from the dull monotony of their minds.

I would be lying to you if I were to say that I was always exciting, or interesting. I am a simple creature with complex ideas, nothing more and nothing less. The idea that I would chase something painful often springs to the tongues of others. I think, in one regard, gossip finds its way to our ears and out of our mouths because we can’t understand others.

Obviously, there is the popular thought that gossip is spread because of jealousy. This is true in some cases even. I once heard that I had an STD (Even though I was a virgin.) and that women should be careful around me.

Obviously, the gossip couldn’t have been started because someone was jealous about how much action I was getting, I wasn’t getting any. I wasn’t even really thinking about that.

Of course, I don’t know the truth behind that small line. It could have been a simple message mutated down a seemingly endless line of other ants that eventually reached my ears and was entirely different from the initial comment.

This cements my thoughts on this subject even further. We have an immense power within our words. We say things that can uplift another’s soul, or we have the power to utterly destroy them with words alone.

I haven’t spoken much about reputation on this blog, because I never felt as if it was important, but I have come to see things a bit differently.

My stance hasn’t changed, my reputation doesn’t matter much, because those with harsh words hell bent on my soul will likely never reach me, those that do will slide between rows of ants I have sent out to adjust my own thoughts. Of course, this is a dual edged blade. You can see me for who I am by simply reading this blog. I have published the good and the bad, left and right on this blog. Those who have read from the beginning up until today have been with me through four years of good and bad, four years of lessons learned and victories celebrated. They have read about my dances with everything that may have been the death of me.

I say this knowing, however, that the whole world does not have an outlet or a place to vent as I do. I know this, and it only further proves to me how important it is that we select our words carefully.

According to my faith, gossip is considered something to avoid. Saying that the human tongue is evil and full of deadly poison.  I am sure, though I haven’t looked, that other religions and simple moral compass guidance would say that it is not wholesome as well. It is not something to be looked upon with glee and it is not something to be proud of, but, if that is the case, why do we still seek out the gossip and the misinformation in the world?

Because it is easy.

It is much easier, to say that we know someone, or to spread something vital about the life of another, than it is to accept that someone would be willing to trust us with something dear to them, or something frightening to them.

It is easy to tell your friends that Karen is pregnant, it is difficult to tell them that her life is not their business.

Of course, gossip doesn’t come only in the form of spreading truth that wasn’t meant to be spread. It comes from lies slipping over the stone barrier and poisoning the well.

One by one, with everything we whisper to one another, ants will crawl from deep within our throat carrying these tiny stones of information, true or likewise, and deposit them over the edge of the well. Deep below, a sound so faint we may never hear it, the pebbles splash in the water and it begins to turn black.

See, I have been witness to and spread much gossip over the course of my life. There are things that feel so important that I can’t wait to share them with someone. This is the problem, with these cathedrals full of ants. They are autonomous. They act without notion. There is no billboard that orders them to carry your words. You simply speak and they do their duty, in subtle, stoic service to their Queen, resting on her throne, meant for breeding more division, more pain, more untruth.

Consider the abilities of this colony. In the midst of a flood, did you know that ants bind together and are capable of floating? They link their legs together in formation and float atop the flowing water.

This is not the only attribute granted to these tiny cities beneath our heavy feet and heavy hearts. If you remember biology class, or any science class in elementary school you may remember that ants have super strength. They can lift up to three times their own weight. Communication through chemicals and an overwhelmingly powerful hive mind are just a number of things that leave me in awe about the intricacies of ants, and in the same way…

The things that we say.

We may not consider the weight of our words, but they can carry much more than we anticipate. I realied this as I was speaking with someone the other day, making jokes as I do, and I hurt their feelings making a comment that wouldn’t have harmed me at all. I didn’t’ realize the punchline of the joke directly attacked them, and so I sent it off with a pack of ants into their minds.

We have a responsibility to be better with what we say, who we speak to and where our ants go. The longer we spend poisoning the wells around us, the farther we will have to travel to find clean water and a refreshing break from the gossip that permeates everything around us with every tiny slip of the tongue.

I have heard much gossip about who I am as a person, I have even spread my own about others. I have mistreated the ant colonies around the globe, and I am here to ask forgiveness publicly for those who I have effected by what I have said, know that I am apologizing for what I have said through the messages my ants carried.

We are meant to do better. So let us do better. I will keep untruth from my tongue. When trusted in confidence towards another’s secrets, I will keep them. The colony within my mind will spill out with only encouragement and love as often as I can. The unnecessary things we say will rip apart everything we have been building, it will bleed hot mercury into our colonies and it will eventually be our undoing. I forgive you, for the gossip you may have spread, whoever you are, wherever you are. It is okay. I forgive you.

you can’t get enough of the blog, right? Right? Well, good news! I have the updated compilations coming out on Amazon over the course of this week. The First Volume is available now + Volume Two will be out in a few days!

If you grab the book, maybe you want a cool way to rep the message? If so, I have a shirt available on Teespring. Go cop some sweet, happy, inspirational shirts or hoodies for your grandmother for Christmas. She’ll be down for sure.

Looking for more? Check out my website for updates on upcoming projects and action I’ve been putting down behind the scenes. Youtube is seeing weekly updates, I have four big projects due out next year and there will be more poetry on the way.

Life is not meant to be awful, friends.