Chris is moving away. I've written of him before, the recovering fundamentalist who is generous as the day is long, passionate, a doting father and the kind of friend who always shows up when you need help moving or replaicing the kitchen subfloor. A man who lets everyone around him know how much he cares through deeds and honest, forthright joy.

He is, in short, a treasure.

Monday will be his last day in Ohio. Politicians may talk about the recovery but it hasn't come here. My brother moved down to Florida in April because he couldn't find work in Cleveland. Now Chris is headed from Columbus to Atlanta. He has a job, but the company is in trouble, losing money hand over fist and he thinks his days are numbered. He's been looking for work for a few months but nobody's hiring, at least not at the wages he was used to. You see Chris is a damned good electrician. He's way smarter than most tradesmen, loves the work and throws himself wholeheartedly into everything he does. Oh, he's not flawless-- he sometimes gets ahead of himself-- but he can manage people and when you give Chris the job all you have to do is supply the material and get out of the way.

But right now he can't find work at a decent wage. So Tuesday morning he'll pack up, kiss his wife and children goodbye and head south so they can make their mortgage.

I'm going to miss him. Granted my waistline will be better for it: Chris loves to eat perhaps more than I, and our long discussions are often punctuated by massive calorie intake. But the talks are worth it, full of conversation on books, architecture, current events, theology, fast cars, ethics and more. Talking with Chris is just plain fun.

I have long regarded my friendships as one of my biggest blessings. I have many friends, and some friendships stretch back over 30 years. No one has been a better friend to me than Chris Hachet.

I hope his stay in Atlanta will be temporary. But we live in a world that seems more interested in pulling people apart than bringing them together.

A little background for this one:

About two or three weeks ago a woman came into JCPenney Optical, where I am an employee. It’s hard to describe this woman as anything but rude. She was very rude. First thing she does is come up to the desk. The conversation goes like this:

Me: Can I help you?

Her: I’m here to pickup my glasses.

Me: Last name?

Her: (Says her last name.)

I pull out her glasses and check the note on them, they are a “Warranty”. She starts to tell me about the warranty fee she had to pay.

Her: “I had to pay forty extra dollars to have those fixed. The first ones fell off my face because they weren’t adjusted properly. That’s what I call poor service! I shouldn’t have to pay the warranty fee—.”

And on and on and on. I try to adjust the new glasses for her to which she keeps saying, “They’re too loose. These will fall right off my face! That’s how I broke the last ones! These will fall right—.”

The text does not convey the tone of this woman very well. Her voice gets louder the longer she speaks. Her method of demonstrating how loose the glasses were was to fling her head down as hard as she can so that the glasses come flying off (surprise). I keep doing minor adjustments and she gets angrier the longer I take. Basic problem: If I tighten the temples any more on her glasses they will break and that there is no reason they should fall off (being properly adjusted by yours truly), but I tell the woman that I will keep her there all day if I have to because fixing her glasses is that important to me. Her problem magically vanishes and she decides to go.

About a week ago she comes back in. This time she doesn’t bother moderating her tone at all:

Her: You didn’t adjust them right. They are too loose! Like I TOLD YOU! Why did they hire you if you don’t know what you are DOING!

She insists that I take the glasses back and have the manager fix them. I tell her she needs to be here in person to have any sort of adjustments made. She asks when my boss will be here. I tell her the manager’s hours.

Her: I have to come back again? I WASTED ENOUGH GAS COMING DOWN HERE.

I note that there is a customer waiting behind her.

Me: Ma’am if you could lower your voice.

She doesn’t, she continues yelling.

Me: Ma’am if you don’t stop yelling I’ll call security.

She doesn’t, I call security with predicable results. The guard comes and escorts her out to the relief (they told me) of the customers who had built up behind her.

So today I’m sitting at the desk reading (because there was nothing to do). I hear someone come in. I’m about to say, “How can I help you?” But then I see that it’s her. Oh no.

Her: Young man… Listen, I just wanted to apologize for my behavior last week. I just… just want you to know I’m not a monster or anything.

What? This doesn’t happen. Not in real life. It takes a very brave person to admit they are wrong. I have trouble doing it and it must have been hard for this woman. Her apology has more than made up for anything she has said to me and I will respect her forever because she did something that most of us cannot.

Lately I have been thinking about the importance of dreams. One may not always understand how important dreams and fantasies, and very vitally even the far-fetched ones, are in maintaining good mental health.

At present, I may not be terribly good in writing an objective analysis of what happens to some - at least me. Yet, however, I believe I can formulate a rather accurate story based on my personal experience and my own life and shed a little light on my view of this rather peculiar cause of depression that way.

Take a moment to visualize a typical, normal boy, aged 14. One from a middle-class family non-extraordinaire. A boy that respects his parents and really wants to do well in their world. One that learns and wants to learn the values of his society, his peers and his parents. One with a bit of imagination and another of ambition.

The fourteen-year old boy dreams: "In a perfect world, I'll get the job I want, make as much money I'll ever need, get an apartment I like, live in a place I dig, be surrounded by beautiful girls, hang out with people I personally respect and on top of it all, own all kinds of equipment ever imaginable and have lots and lots of fun. Parties, dancing, shagging. Oh, oh, oh..."

The boy goes on to do just that. To try and fulfill his dreams - even the wildest ones - and nothing else. He becomes driven by his ambition. The boy becomes his ambition. He dreams: "Oh, those people I adore - if I ever could do as well as they do, if I ever could taste a bit of life they live. If I ever could be a a bit mysterious! Popular! All those things! Someone that everybody loved!"

Time goes by.

Now imagine another boy, one aged twenty-two. One with a well-paying dream job in a Wall Street company, one with his own non-rental apartment in a beautiful, peaceful place. A guy that mostly dates models, or so he likes to think, a guy that knows all the key people in his scene. One that doesn't look particularly special, but one that brings together birthday parties with lots of local celebrities, booze, drugs and a big big gourmet-menu. The kind of guy who will buy anything if he thinks it'll make his life any better. One with just a little bit too much money and a little bit too little imagination.

This brings us to what? This twenty-two year old boy is depressed. He is sad, because he does not have any dreams to fulfill. He doesn't particularly want anything anymore. He already has everything he dreamt of and a little bit extra. He became his ambition and now he is it. He can dream, sure, but not of things he really couldn't reach. Not of things that would take time to complete, of things that would be far beyond his reach.

He could not complain of a single thing. He has the best wide-screen TFTs, highend-laptops, 300" projection-televisions and everything else he could think of when he was a little kid. The models he dates are the cutest he's ever seen. The house he lives in is near a beach. The house is equipped with a hot-tub, a jacuzzi, an extra guest-room and what not.

"Jesus," he thinks, "what is missing from my life?"

Even his wife loves him, even more than he wants to believe. He attends yoga, he drinks champagne, has a lovely wine cellar and believes in nirvana. Her wife supports all those parts of him. Perfectly.

He helps charities, he boasts about arranging free summer-parties for poor people. He wants to help everyone enjoy their life to the max. Should he meet a sad person on the street, he'd take him to have a cup of coffee and talk, try and see if he can cheer him up and help the poor fella have a more positive outlook on life.

Where's the problem then? He doesn't realize how lacking his imagination is.

He probably should be more ambitious? He probably should want more material things? He should do more yoga? Sure, if necessary, he could do that, he doesn't particularly want any of that, though. He doesn't see the need. He already has food, water and shelter. He has what he needs.

Let's see. He doesn't have a motorcycle, but that's no problem because his wife hates them anyway. Sure, a bike would be cool, but in the end what the hell would he do with it? Drive around and get fed up with it?

He hates vanity. He hates broken things. The only mission in life he finds is to give away things he doesn't need and fix the ones that break. Mostly by himself, though, because he doesn't have anything else to do (other than his job and the company he has, but sometimes it just seems like they aren't quite putting him to any stress).

Sure, he could study. But after teaching quite the same classes by himself, he figures he would just feel dumb. He didn't teach but some classes in the local universities, yet just enough to make his name remembered and his own presence as a student quite awkward.

He got everything too easy, he figures. If he had done it by the age he is fourty-year old, this would be good, he presumes. That way, he would feel life had been a challenge. Life, then, would have been enough to make him scream, pray for help, to beg his life would not be such a misery.

In that case, when he'd finally turn 40, he could gasp of relief: "Finally! No more pain! I have what I want! Now I can just enjoy it and live life to the max!"

But no, he gets everything too easy. He gets it by the age of 22. He has sixty fucking years left to come up with things to do. There ain't no scuba-diving, bungee or parachute jumping that he wouldn't yet have tried. Extreme sports offer but a short relief, he's found.

Drugs? Sure, drugs, he tried them for a year or few. Switch to new ones, try a bigger doze? No help. How about the recreational ones?

Life on acid, he figured, would be the key.

Work on acid, do sports on acid, have sex on acid. Live on acid.

After a short while? A few months? Naw, not much of a help. "Man, it's basically just the same shit as being sober," he begins to think and quits.

Fun, sure, working on acid was fun, he thought. For a while. But once he realized nobody in the office really even cared he was always high and/or stoned, "Where the hell is fun in that? When there's nobody to fire you, what the fuck do you do? Fire yourself?" he came to think and gave up on it.

"Gosh. Let's browse a few books on self-hypnosis and life-improvement," he thought and picked them up from his big, long book-shelf. One that he bought in the midst of all his mania.

"...And now I am to realize I've done pure heartedly all those little things they suggested and I'm still here? What the fuck? Should I call the author and ask for directions?" the boy shook his head and put them all back to the shelf.

"I am not bitter," he thought.

"I just want to have dreams."

"A life of no dreams is a life of no meaning," he murmured.

"Where, oh, where did I put my Xanax anyway?" he sighed to himself and leaned against his wife's blonde hair. His wife, who was already deep, deep asleep....

I hate people asking me "How was your day?"

Because every day seems to suck. And I get tired of talking about it.

I don't really have the energy to write--not a blog, not livejournal, not anything. And really, I don't see any purpose to it anymore--everything that can be said about my life has already been said by others about their own lives. In other words, you are not special (and neither am I). There may be variations of color or pattern, but ultimately, it's all the same.

You'd think that would make me feel unified with the universe or something, but it doesn't.

You are not special. Everyone eats, shits, farts, sleeps, fucks. Everyone hurts, cries, feels put-upon, is depressed. Everyone is self-centered, selfish, uncaring about others. Everyone wants to be more than what they are. You think your lover is so special? He isn't. You think you're cheating is so bad? You're no different than anyone else.

You think you're different? Yeah, well, so does everyone else.

So I'm tired of being repetative. I'm tired of saying things that are just depressing and unoriginal. Since I can't be original, I'm going to go silent. More or less. I mean I'm not shutting down my website, but I'm not going to post much anymore. Not here or there.

Besides, I mostly just read, anyway. Passiveness is much easier.

I'm tired of being outraged. I'm tired of wringing my hands about Bush, or Iraq, or the environment. It's not that those things aren't important, but let's face it--I'm one stupid kid against the world. I am a minority in many ways. So let's stop pretending we can save the world by marching in the streets or not shopping at Walmart. Forget it. They've won. It's a damn farce, and I'm tired of being righteous. Because it's not getting me anywhere.

Me me me. Sounds selfish, doesn't it? Little white girl with rich parents complaining that she's not getting anywhere. Some child from Sudan ought to just shoot me and leave me to be raped or something. But they can't, I'm here, and I'm miserable because I found out I'm not special. I'll never be a writer, or musician, or anything really. I'll always be the fat, angry, ugly STD-ridden loser I've always been. The one with the bad teeth, facial hair, and halitosis. The one who gets drunk a lot and is stupid.

So I'm a loser. Big fucking deal. Most people are. And frankly, the successful people are usually bastards anyway. But there's no justice, you realize. They're not going to burn in hell. Nothing is going to happen to the kid who bullied you after school. Nothing will happen to your ex-girlfriend. There is no revenge. Get used to it--everyone who picked on you in school is going to be a lot more successful than you hope. Maybe even more successful than you.

So I give up. I'm waving the white flag. I have nothing else to say. Nihilism wins. Ta-da!

Here's the thing--suicide looks good not because I want to die, but I'm tired of living. That said, I'm not saying I'm suicidal. But it looks like a good option. Believe me, the people who die eventually fade away. It's only a temporary pain.

"Shit!" That was my morning in a nutshell. How stressful is it to lose one's wallet? Most of you are probably thinking about canceling credit cards, making sure there were no fraudulent charges, purchasing a new wallet, etc.. When I lost my wallet this morning, however, I was trying to figure out how to convince United Airlines that I'm not a terrorist. Aside from my work badge, my driver's license is my only form of picture ID. I'm traveling to Illinois to get married in less than two weeks. This is not a flight I can afford to miss.

This all started last Friday. You see, I moved last Friday, and being the natural procrastinator that I am, my new apartment isn't quite up to snuff yet. I've been sleeping on my couch since Friday night. It's actually not too bad; it's a fairly comfortable couch for sleeping. This also means that I've been without a nightstand, and herein lies the problem. When I have a nightstand I know exactly where everything is when I remove it from my pants pockets. Not so anymore. I seem to be flipping between leaving my pocket items (cellular phone, wallet, and keys) on the kitchen counter and the floor next to the couch.

Yesterday, however, I mistakenly left my wallet on the arm of a chair. It fell onto the cushion. I stared to hook up a computer so that I could enter checks in the registry and update my wedding reception attendance. In order to get the monitor and tower in their proper places, some wires needed to be moved. I decided the chair was as good a place as any to put these wires. It was close, convenient, and I just wanted to update my spreadsheets and go to sleep. I got the computer hooked up and realized that I still don't have Internet access ("Hi. I'm jclast, and I'm an Internet addict"). This didn't sit well with me because I just paid over $30.00 to have my telephone service transferred. Don't deal with SBC. The only time the go "beyond the call" is when there's an unguarded pile of money waiting for them. My phone service still doesn't work. I ate the $30.00 and had it cancelled. I'm getting cable Internet. Comcast is fast becoming my favorite utility company.

So I get my spreadsheets updated. By this point it's 11:00 PM. I usually go to bed (couch) around 10:00 PM. I stumble to the couch and fall asleep to a rerun of Family Guy. All is right with the world once again. Until the alarm goes off at 5:00 AM the next day, that is. Oh, how I hate 5:00 AM, but it's the time that allows me to avoid Silicon Valley rush hour traffic in both directions. I don't care. I'm sleeping until 6:00 AM. The alarm blares at me again, and I get up. After washing my hair, getting dressed, and feeding my cat, Brutus, I realize that I can't find my wallet.

I spend the next 90 minutes frantically searching my new one-bedroom apartment. There are only so many places to hide a wallet in a one-bedroom apartment, and I'd convinced myself I'd checked them all. I resign myself to being wallet-less and head to work. I drive extra carefully. How much would it suck to lose your wallet and get pulled over in the same day? Thankfully, I don't know. Yet. I make it to work and try to think rationally.

I decide the best course of action is to cancel my credit cards. After all, if I can't use them, why should anybody else? Thankfully, I only have two and neither of them has been used since my last transaction went through. Then I call my health insurance provider to get another health insurance card. They don't cancel numbers so I just have to be on the lookout for any strange bills that come my way. Yay. I then decide to call and cancel my phone service. I don't want it anymore anyway. SBC kept my $30.00, but I'll never give them any of my money again. Good riddance.

My boss tells me to take the rest of the day as a personal day so that I can get a new license. Oh, shit! California driver's licenses aren't made on the spot like they are in Illinois. It has to be mailed to you. And it took longer than two weeks last time I had one made. The only other picture ID I have is my work badge. Maybe they'll rush mine for an extra charge. I'm not missing my own wedding because I misplaced my wallet. This is not happening.

I get back home to collect my checkbook and Social Security Card. Thank God I finally listened to my Dad and took that out of my wallet. What the...? What's that on the chair under those wires? My wallet. Only after canceling two credit cards and missing four hours of work do I glance over to the chair and see it. Why?

At least I shouldn't have any problems at the airport. Yeesh. What a morning.

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