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Prologue

I had no cell phone service. No way to leave. I had ridden here in the back seat of a minivan, lurching through miles of winding and branching dirt roads, through a night black with trees and dust and stories of fights.

La La Life

Mia, waitress, wants to be an actor; Sebastian, broke musician, wants to own a jazz club. But La La Land’s biggest tension happens outside the screen: an unspoken, unreferenced standoff between itself and the twenty-first century.

Why I Believe

I believe because I don’t believe in soundbites, How to Win Friends and Influence People, diets, morals of the story, or myself.

The Tinder Boys

They looked friendly enough. Cute, too, but that probably wouldn’t be the point. I had suffered through enough bad Tinder dates to abandon all hope of swiping my way into love.

Mary-Veronica

She isn’t actually Mary-Veronica. First she was Veronica, and then, after I gave her $140 but before she gave me her address, she became Mary.

As a Mother

You know that saying, “Mother knows best”? It’s a saying for a frickin’ reason. We’re the backbone of every decent household in America.

Playing Hot Potato with Kindness

I want selfless people to have blissful, perfect lives. When I argue with someone about selfishness—“it’s a virtue. The Golden Rule just makes betas feel better about not standing up for themselves”—I want to point to loving families and say, “See? This is possible. This is good,” but I can’t.

I’m scared she gonna die

I don’t do anything for the man who bangs on the church door and tells me about his probation and court date in Bremerton an hour and a half away and the company that let him go after thirty years to save themselves a retirement plan and the chronic pain in his shoulder and the botched knee surgery and how he just needs eight dollars and ten cents for the ferry or else they’ll throw him back in jail over a lousy eight dollars and ten cents and could I please, please, I know you’re good guy, please just give me eight dollars and ten cents for the ferry?

Going Green

Ten-foot-tall green letters shout 21+ MARIJUANA to every northbound vehicle on Martin Luther King Jr Way. The arrow that runs beneath the letters points across the street to a stubby building marked by a green cross. 21+ Recreational Marijuana! hangs in the front window.

Tea and Tranquility

“…a rediscovery of the sacred in the immanent, the spiritual within the secular… it is our everyday world, not some other one, that, in the words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘is charged with the grandeur of God.’” ~Harvey Cox, The Future of Faith...

This Is A Lie

D.A.R.E. to explore the unexplored. Here be monsters and suddenly we’re the first ones, wading through myth and legend and finding freedom, happiness, and warmth. We don’t see dragons or lose our grades. We don’t get pregnant. We aren’t shoving suppositories up our asses à la Trainspotting or whoring à la Requiem for a Dream. It’s just nice. Warm and cozy and soft. One of us uses the word “underwhelming.”

PunchTrump Love

I don’t know about Saudi Arabia. I’m not rich, either. I don’t lead an empire. I don’t have Kurt Cobain’s talent or Robin Williams’ fame or Donald Trump’s confidence. I’m just another guy. Another unexceptional guy. Every morning I shower with second-guesses. I brush my teeth with self-doubt. Half of my personality comes from insecurity. Maybe more. I’m not sure.

The Internet is Cowboy Country

It’s not a pretty place. The hazy opium dens and the tobacco-smoke saloons disappeared from dusty California mining towns long ago, and they’ve since set up shop here. You want opium? You got it. How about Craigslist prostitutes? pirated textbooks? fake I.D.s or stolen credit cards?

Me and My Book

No one believes it. I didn’t believe it, until I grabbed the bumper, tried to lift, and realized I didn’t even know how to grip the thing. I’m writing about an experience I still don’t fully understand, and the sharing of it is even more incomprehensible.

Japanude

I got naked with a bunch of old men and tried to figure out how to wash my booty without insulting anyone, and that pretty much sums up my trip to Japan.

I Am Failing

I know that the muscled, emotionally stable mountain climber who woos intelligent women, writes bestselling memoirs, and dispenses wisdom to a crowd of intimate friends won’t ever materialize.

Same-Day Devilry

And Amazon, for all its bullying and undercutting, holds no monopoly. It is, in fact, the opposite: a monopsonist, a beloved monster reversing the grapes of wrath, in a sense, so product flows like honey while the sellers rot.

Lucky

One day of climbing and two nights of camping and an eternity of driving down this endless, evening road when I rounded a turn and my headlights found a hitchhiker.

It looked like a woman.

Love is a Sentence

We promise love between sheets and in delivery rooms and at hospital bedsides. We say “God is love” and “the greatest of these is love.” But when it comes down to it, whenever we talk about love, none of us are really saying the same thing.

Homeless

Courtesy of a racist sixty-year-old neighbor still living with his mother; a virtually nonexistent housing inventory due in turn to Jeff Bezos, Mt. Rainier, and murky multifamily home regulations; the less-than-shining precedent set by other groups of male,...

A Writer’s Creed

It spoke to Plath the suicidal, Keruouc the drunk, Hemingway the shotgunned, and—Snyder, voice of Buddhist Beats, who did not die of lead or alcohol, but found peace in tin cups and axe handles.

Sitting In the Aisle

You don’t talk to people on the Metro. You don’t talk to coworkers, you don’t talk to friends, and you especially don’t talk to strangers. Talking is the mark of the tourist.

The Pre-Exodus Project

I discovered the other side of recorded music. The side we didn’t talk about in Professor Nordling’s class, and the side that makes recorded music even more challenging, I think, than live music.

Hot Food Makes Me Happy

But this is efficient, I tell myself. Hot food requires a stove, and a stove requires money, and I am a sophomore trying to backpack Europe on a budget. Food seemed like the best place to cut corners.

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