Detox – A love story

 

Detox – A Love Story

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Writers’ note: The following is a piece I wrote on addiction.

It’s something that I’ve lived with and experienced both second-hand, and more recently, first-hand. Bits and pieces come from my own experience as well as outside inspirations.  The style is somewhat different than previous posts, as I am going for a spoken word approach and performing this is meant to be done with an element of story-telling, which is difficult to transcribe on paper.

Addiction isn’t limited to hard drugs. It can be anything, even love.


It always starts off the same.

A curiosity into the unknown. A little itch that you need to satisfy, just get a taste.

Try it once, and say you’ve done it. It’s a badge of honor, a claim that you overcame your fear and tried it.

And of course, your voice isn’t the only one speaking. With so much talk of YOLO and living-life-to-the-fullest type shit, you can’t be blamed for following hype shit…for taking some broad, self-entitling phrase to justify your own intricate actions.

No one cares if you try it once, just do it once, feel the rush, take this kush, smoke that dope, get that high, don’t be shy, the voices tell you.

And you say you’re free, I have the will, you tell yourself.

I can stop whenever, it’s just one time.

One time…

what’s the worst that can happen just this one time?

It always starts on the same.

Just one hit, and your mind is racing. Pacing back and forth, on levels never reached before, your heart’s a spinning door, and this ride won’t let you off, it just keeps you lifted, you feel gifted, envision life with new perspectives, details now seem so intrinsic, so beautiful and magical, every mundane object suddenly seems brand new. That tattoo now has eyes and wings, and your room is Paradise, with everything you need to achieve the bliss. Just what is this? What did I miss out on? How did I live before I tried you? Before I had you? Life is now more bearable, enjoyable, even. They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, well I say you don’t know what you don’t until you do.

Your world is now a canvas, I’ve never had so much control. It’s intoxicating, exacerbating, I don’t even know why so much debating, all I needed was to meet you. And now you’ve given me so much to look forward to. Fun times and happiness await, next stop, your dreams…

And then it stops.

It always starts off the same.

Hey, that was pretty fun. But ok, once is enough, you start to say.

So you live on, and go back to the funks and the lows. The daily grind that you never claimed as your own. On that temporary nine-to-five, a typical lifestyle doesn’t seem to vibe anymore. Who gives a fuck if you’re late this one time, you busted your ass for 3 years and now they want to reprimand? Kiss my ass, I deserve a break.

But you cool off for now and continue on. But what were pebbles once now seem colossal, the pet peeves grew fangs overnight.

They no longer just annoy you, they abhor you.  Copier’s jammed, coffee spilled, she didn’t say Hi (…high…), the system’s slow, traffic’s slow, this asshole’s turn signal, though!

The rent’s due Tuesday, I still have 5 days! No, I don’t have any spare change. The plates are filthy. I’m out of Milk again? Is that a new dent? This phone is so old, what the fuck am I doing with my life?! I just want to (…let go…)

Then the itch is back, only this time it says something else.

Hey, remember me? We had such a blast, didn’t we? Remember when we spray painted your shoes and walked on the ceiling of that hotel? Remember that night under the stars when we went to San Fran? Or on the way back when we talked of our dreams? Those were some good times. 

Well, call me sometime.

It always starts off the same.

The daily grind is now the daily screw. Screwed by your job, screwed by the system, (…high…)screwed by your landlord, screwed by the waiter (…free…) who messed up your Animal-style fries, screwed by the police (…let go…) for turning on a red light. It’s 7:50! The No Turn on Red starts at 8! ‘Your cups already full, and its bound to overflow’

 OK!

I just need this one time to get the stress out. And at this point, you just want it to stop. Stop the things from happening, just stop!

I knew you’d call.

It always starts on the same.

 Your life without her just seems so abysmal now. It’s like every passing day is just a another obstacle standing in your way from her. I don’t want to hang out with them, all they talk about is trite shit. They’re so vain and self-absorbed. Whatever, I don’t care about the supervisor position, it’s just another shit-stained step on the corporate ladder.

Everything is an excuse, nothing matters anymore expect her. And the moment you see her again. Until finally, the time in between just stops existing.

You wake up,

you get high,

and hang out,

get high,

you sleep 4 days later,

you don’t eat a thing,

get high,

you fix your room,

get some ink,

get high,

get some food, maybe,

get high,

do nothing,

get high!

And you know what? It feels un-fucking-believable. To spit at conventional wisdom in the face. You figured it out! How to be happy. You don’t need a job that gives you rules and sets a schedule for you. You don’t need to a boss to tell you what to do. You have your dreams, you have your art, you’re going to make it, with all this time you have now! You’re going to be like Kerouac and see the the world now! And if someone questions your logic and doesn’t want to get high with you, well fuck him, poor sap. He doesn’t know what he’s missing, such freedom I have now. Time and fun are all I have now. Fuck responsibilities, they’re overrated. People who don’t drugs are just scared they’ll get elated. And I can quit when I want.

I’m in control!

But you’re not.


The escape is what had given birth to your infliction.

Your body’s now diminished but your mind still thinks it’s fiction.


You’re fluent in denial, it’s become your native tongue.

Isolated from society because the drug and you are one.


There is no start nor finish, time and space are now irrelevant

All that matters now is you, yourself, and all of it

You’re full of it, you can’t even admit to it

You blame the world for judging you because you claim they’re scared of it,

The way you live your life is now the standard way to live it?


 The drugs have fucked your body

But your greed has sucked your soul

You sold your immortality

For the fountain of youth to hold


 You longed for better times, when your innocence was whole

So you made your wish,

and took a hit

So the page would not unfold


 And I don’t single out the hard ones, this applies to any drug:

Food, Booze, Love, Lust, they can all make us succumb.


 ‘Cuz when you grow up in a house where your own idea of love,

is another broken jaw and dodging bottles from above,

and you see your dad’s entrails as he stabs himself to death,

because divorce was just too much, he rather take his own last breath


 It’s no surprise that we get high just to escape what they call life,

everyday is like a paradox, we see a tunnel towards the light.


 But then again, there are the others who just do it for the fun

No fucked up life required, they just wanna have some fun


 Regardless of the reason,

of why you’re on this ride,

If you don’t take back the wheel of life,

It won’t be yours to drive.

Soul on Fire 

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An everypersons’ guide to: Fluoridated Water, Part 1: The Basics

How-to-be-on-the-walking-dead

Remember that old expression?

Well, turns out there is something in the water. But, it’s not the T virus.

I’m talking about the F-word: Fluoride.

Unless you live outside of the U.S., where water fluoridation has been rejected in most places, like western Europe (1) , you may have heard of the controversy about fluoride and its’ presence in our water. And this argument is by no means a new one. It’s been heavily debated for decades among the hard hitters: dentists, scientists, toxicologists, they all bring a different perspective to the table.

The American Dental Hygienists’ Association states that fluoridated water is an effective way to fight tooth decay to the masses. (2)

It’s even been listed as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century. (3)

But that’s not the whole story. What kind of blog posting would this be if this were the only source? You have to dig a little deeper to see why there’s so much hot air.

Let’s start with the basics: What the heck is fluoride?

Calcite_sur_fluorine_(USA)_1

Don’t call me a rock!

Fluoride is the name given to any compound that contains fluorine, a dangerous gas. It’s mainly found in certain minerals, like fluorite, and also in natural freshwater bodies in small doses. By a small dose, I mean between .01 to .3ppm (parts per million, 1 milligram for every million milligrams), there’s less than a drop of this stuff per L of water.(4)

For a better visualization, imagine an inch in 16 miles. (5) Yeah, it’s infinitesimal. But, when you talk about ppms, the devil is in the details. Even a spike from .01 to 1ppm could be significant through long-term exposure.

Fluoride, as stated, is already found in fresh water. The question is, what dosage is acceptable? The USDA states that adult men and women should ingest no more than 10mg of fluoride per day. (6) This number is a bit biased, however. Since the U.S. fluoridates its water already, most of what we eat and drink will most likely contain much more of it even if it didn’t have fluoride to begin with. Try it with your Sauvignon next time, it gives it a nice woody taste.

So the next question is: How does this stuff get into my water?

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Several ways, actually.

  • Au naturale, from rocks and pores
  • Disposed of from aluminum plants (Boooo)
  • Voluntarily added in communities for dental hygiene (7)

Fluoride comes in lots of different forms, but the three forms most debated about are sodium fluoride, hydrogen fluoride, or sodium fluorosilicate, all of which are known byproducts in aluminum plants.

Here’s where things heat up (bad pun, bad!): Fluoride is a known waste of aluminum smelting, a process where aluminum is extracted from its ores, producing not just fluoride in liquid form but also as its gassy cousin, hydrogen fluoride, which is a serious crop and animal killer. Now, aluminum companies produce a lot of this stuff.  But how much of this stuff can really put a dent into our health?

Just as an example of how much we make : In 2001, the USATDSR (U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry) reported that 2.5 million pounds of hydrogen fluoride were sent off-site from 991 companies. (8) Now that’s just a big number, though. It shouldn’t be taken without a grain of salt. The report also states that 230 million lbs of hydrogen fluoride were recycled, on and offsite. And this is a total, not specific to aluminum plants, but you catch the drift.

So this is the gist of fluoride. I tried to condense as much as I could without sounding too technical.

In my next post, more on the pros to fluoridating water, and of course, the cons.

Now, go brush your teeth.

Disclaimer: I’m not a scientist, but do appreciate a scientific approach, where all hypothesis are brought to the discussion. I am an amateur researcher with a journalist background who wants to know more about topics that interests me.  

…Plus, I never want to have to be caught sounding like this lady:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ-ByUx552s

 

References , yo

1.  http://fluoridealert.org/content/water_europe/

2. http://www.adha.org/sites/default/files/7253_Fluoride_Facts.pdf

3. http://www.cdc.gov/about/history/tengpha.htm

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluoride

5. http://www.nesc.wvu.edu/ndwc/articles/ot/fa04/q&a.pdf

6. http://www.ars.usda.gov/services/docs.htm?docid=6312

7. http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/fluoride.cfm#six

8. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp11-c5.pdf

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Pre-writing Musings or Utter Nonsense

I wrote this as a means of kickstarting my writing recently. My friend suggested I write nonsense to clear the mind. This was the result:

Rene Magritte, 1955

Rene Magritte, The Mysteries of the Horizon, 1955

A streak against the midnight sun.

A higher message lies in all you do

Without a path, there is no goal.

No goals equals no beginning.

No beginning, then what..?

are you, or rather

who are you?

A streak against the rising moon

A hidden message hides in all you say

The path is set, there’s your goal

Every goals begets a beginning

A beginning, then where..?

are you going, or rather

where do you want to

end up?

Mind the message for it is just a masquerade. Channel the child as you lift off the veil.

Are you in tune with him yet?

Does she yell for your breakthrough?

Listen…LISTEN, for the voice is faint, but clear.

The ghetto ruts of your ugly, adult mind; they’re rotting away the beauty. The road you have within is paved in every sight you see.

The rose still spawns from the concrete floor,

Wilting, Blooming, Dying, Living,

Forever until you finally pluck her and embrace her.

For this act of love is not Osho-approved. Love, in this case, is taking the flower in your hand using her, USING her, exposing every delicate petal, every sensual curce, pricking your finger on every thorn, and godDAMN does it hurt!

The pain is your cue.

Hey…

You’re alive.

You have all senses, to make sense of this nonsensical, sensational satire. So tire away and wear out those callouses on your fingertips, you crazy dreamer.

No one ever wished for approved O.T. on their deathbed.

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..and your Heart

..and your Heart

This photo was recently sent to me through e-mail from an old friend.

I’m not always as receptive to existential posts that point out what’s wrong with our system, our society, our own way of thinking.

Some of them are exaggerated. (Being desensitized to human suffering: While I agree there is a huge problem with apathy in our country, I’ve met so many people and have read so many more stories of selfless acts that can at the very least bring the balance into equilibrium between caring and non-caring people.)

Some sound downright judgmental. (You should have just changed your job if you were unhappy…um, yeah? Say that to the single mother who’s working three jobs, has no real retirement funds, and can’t afford to go back to school to get a new set of skills for a job that may NOT even be available when she finishes.)

It’s as if these statements throw up a huge putty-shaped veil and we throw on our own situations onto it and see how they apply. They don’t take into the account the individuals’ many struggles they have to fight every day.

Posts like these seem like glorified trolling, and maybe I’m being cynical, but it’s easy to point out something that doesn’t work and wrap them up into a war cry for a V for Vendetta-esque revolution.

But I like this post.

Especially the part of not ‘taking power back’ but rather ‘empowering ourselves’.

It has a tone of accountability at the same time bringing an element of hope. No single person can do it alone, it’s a group effort.

Maybe we won’t change the world in this lifetime, or even 100. But learning to share the struggle with one another, to me, is a step in the right direction. And each step eventually begets another step until those steps create miles.

Onward, then!

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Fear and Loathing in Corporate America: Lessons learned from inside the cogs of the machine



C
.Y.A.

One of the first things I heard when I dove head first into the machine that is Corporate America. One of the first cardinal rules if I wanted to ‘make it in this game’: Cover your ass.  This was my first taste of what I would later experience as the norm: a carnivorous culture of looking out for yourself and only yourself. Though not the most important, it set the mood for the many other lessons my inexperienced, innocent mind was apt to take in.

I was a fresh, young mind, and oh so eager to prove myself. I wouldn’t change, I silently reassured myself as I strode through my very first cubicle.  I have plans, huge plans. This is only a stepping stone, my first real job after college and a chance to show the world what I’m about.

Looking back now, the last 3 years have given me situations I could never fully capture from a textbook. And even more so than that was how I reacted, or failed to react. Those choices that I still mull over pretty much define how I felt throughout the journey, never really 100% prepared nor ready for what comes but using the tools I’ve acquired to my best capabilities. And I’ll be straight with you, I still feel I fucked up and could have handled situations much better. I don’t say this with regret because what I learned about myself made the journey worth it. Let me share with these lessons with you:

Remember who you are & why you’re here

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Wherever you go, whether you go the route of a 9-5 job or an entrepreneur, you’re going to run into many people.

Some will inspire you, some will help you, some will want to be your friend. Others may not give a shit, or be so caught up in the vicious cycle, that they inflict the same stab they may have once received.

I’m telling you know, so you don’t repeat my mistake.

Don’t let it.

Be ready for it; the mental games people play can cause a serious brain drain. Nothing sucks worse than having your hopes dashed by someone who’s seen the shitty side of the job and came out a disenfranchised veteran.

 

Picture the first day of your new job, or anything new. Remember your mind going in different directions, endless possibilities? Good. Now try to remember this when the monotony sets in. When you get thrown to the lions for not following directions to the T. When you spill your coffee on your desk,papers and all. When you forget why you’re doing this, remind yourself.

(For me, it was to go back to China. To finish my novel. To live on my own. One down!)

Oh, and about the veteran, a word of advice: Listen, but tread lightly. They may have insight on something you didn’t know about the industry you’re in. And even if not, they’re human, too. They may have been just like you once upon a time. It doesn’t hurt to care, just don’t let it turn you cold.

 Your title means shit

If I’ve learned any piece of wisdom from working in corporate America, it’s most definitely the following: your title doesn’t mean jack shit. If your aim is to reach the top, you can:

Boss Vs. Leader

Boss Vs. Leader

A. Work hard, put in extra hours, work on the weekends, bust your ass, work harder, take the heat when your teammate messes up, share your knowledge with others, work even harder…you catch my drift 


B. Do whatever is necessary, including but not limited to:

  • taking credit for accomplishments that aren’t completely your own
  • not acknowledging your crew
  • throwing people in front of a bus to make you look more ‘responsible’
  • ignore those on your level and kiss ass to people in higher positions
  • blow your own horn whenever you can
  • exaggerate what you’ve done
  • point out others’ mistakes (and make sure EVERYONE knows)

C. Falsify your birth records so that you become the CEO’s long-lost 3rd cousin, thrice removed


If you chose answer A, then get ready for a long trip. Unfortunately, the methods in option A are often overlooked and are what keep people stagnant in progressing, for the most part. Long gone are the days when people put in their time and were bumped up by seniority. Today, there is more to it than that. The idea of ‘work smarter, not harder.’ 

The ‘B’s  are the ones that are most encouraged and rewarded. Modern-day thinking dubs these under ‘ambition.’

To give everyone their fare share, ambition can be a great thing (when coupled with integrity).

However, the quick rise to the top doesn’t come without its hazards. A shark mentality may pave a way to a glossy new position and all its perks, but there are more inherent issues that new-age thinking doesn’t really touch on. Mainly they fact that you’re dealing with people, not cyborgs.

Respect doesn’t magically come from a cool new title after your name in your e-mail signature.

Let me rephrase that.

TRUE respect doesn’t magically come from a flashy new title after your name in your e-mail signature. TRUE respect is earned from how well you work (both on the job and on yourself) and how you treat others, especially those “below” you, not from the fluff after your name. Willfully opting to not give a shit about anyone but yourself can cause a great rift between you and others. You may have the ass-kissers lining up. Don’t ask how, but you’ll feel it, maybe in the form of a stare, or that ‘feeling’ you can’t explain. And once you’re up there, it can get pretty damn lonely.

If you chose C, well, good luck with that.

 Personality goes a long way

pulp_fiction-bible

…And you don’t have to be one charming m’f’ing pig, either. But seriously, what do I mean by this, you ask?

Thank – Remember the ones who helped you out, whether a small bind, a huge help, or took the blame for you, appreciation trumps entitlement. No one is guaranteed shit in this life. Show your thanks, don’t just say it.

Uplift – There are people like you who want to advance, and learn more. Why keep them down just to lift yourself up? This universe has enough success for everyone to go around,  despite whether our ego thinks so or not. Empower someone to flex their leadership muscle. It’ll come back. Maybe not directly, or for a long time. But who knows whom you’ll inspire?!

Improve – The best thing you can do you for yourself is to invest in yourself. Perfection exists in the dictionary and in nature, but we humans lack it. And that’s good, you know why? Because the absence of perfection means that the potential to improve is unlimited and ever-present! Meaning you can always up your game,  join a master class, link up with a group of like-minded peeps, c’est a toi…(it’s up to you!)

Own Up – The CYA culture I mentioned earlier is like the antithesis to this: accountability. Everyone wants to play the blame game but no one wants to lose.  And for me, this was one of the hardest things to conform to. I. CAN. NOT. STAND. CYA! It’s petty and a huge waste of time (my two pet peeves). Do yourself a favor. Don’t play. If you mess up, fess up. I can say from experience that when I’d admit fault to something I did wrong, the reaction was never as terrible as I had pictured it in my head.

Collaborate – With the dog eat dog world and watching your back for knives, it may seem counterintuitive to look out for anyone but yourself.

But, look at it this way: The guy next to you. What do you really know about him? Has he done anything to betray your trust? I may be naive in saying this: It’s my belief that we are not that much different from each other. In the end, I believe we all basically want the same: to feel appreciated, to find love, to pursue what makes us happy, and to be happy. And sometimes along the way, we get caught up in a cycle that we never intended to entangle ourselves with. In our pursuit, we got caught up in the ‘temporary’ job. That ‘in the meantime’ type of flow. The few months becomes a year, the meantime becomes 5, and you look at your life and see that you just spent half of your life ‘in the meantime.’ Who wouldn’t be a disgruntled veteran after that?

We’re all in this together. Why not help each other get there? Maybe then, this CYA culture will slowly transform into something else: we’ll have to act, wait, and see.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
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A day of Remembrance and Hope: The 2nd Anniversary of the Syrian Revolution

Today,

I took the 10:55 train to New York Penn Station, decked out in a green button-down shirt over a green undershirt. But I had no intention of walking into a pub for St. Patrick’s Day this year. I was wearing green for another reason: solidarity.

DSC_0015

Demonstrators hold the Syrian Flag* and chant for freedom

Dozens of Syrian men, women, and children met in front of the U.N. to commemorate the 2nd year since the revolution to free Syria started back in March 15th, 2011. Despite the cold weather and the inevitable overshadowing from the 2013 Half-Marathon falling on the same day, demonstrators delivered passioned speeches in response to the continued violence in Syria.

“We Want Freedom” echoed through the street, tears spilled onto the pavement, the beat of a Doumbek drum gave the chants backbone and power, chants broke out into dance…The feeling was penetrating, contagious. I felt like I was Syrian.

I admit I am ignorant to most of the happenings in Syria and was only aware of the bits and pieces major news sources had provided about the civil war, which are scarce.

A 90-second news report can’t hold a candle to a mother holding up a picture of reality – those slices of reality that smack you out of being a bystander and place you on the front lines. DSC_0068

As the organizer began to settle the crowd for a moment of silence for the fallen, the mood shifted. Everyone lifted their heads to the sight of a young man walking through the crowd with a young woman.

The reason I came out today: to witness my friend Hamid’s engagement. He made his way to the front of the crowd and wasted no time in projecting the emotions of the people. I don’t understand Arabic, but by the reaction of the crowd, I can surmise that his words touched many hearts in a deep way.

The fact that he chose this event to declare his love and marriage to the world, to me, speaks of a selfless love for his country. I’m proud to call him a friend.

Hamid & Zhilwan

Hamid & Zhilwan

As I stood back and briefly became part of something bigger than myself, things came into perspective. Most of the demonstrators at the rally have been away from home for years, others were U.S. born with family in Syria.

Still, there were some who had no real ties to Syria.

Thousands of miles away seems so far if you have no connections, no bonds, no ties. Things are easy to avoid when they’re not in front of you.  Thousands of miles of way, there are people like you and I who want the same thing. They want to feel safe, to raise their children, to be free; Why should kilometers separate our ties with other human beings? Whether Syrian, American, or whichever nationality we claim, we are all human beings.

DSC_0075
We’re all in this together.

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A quick reminder about love

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Why was today a Good Day?

 

I. You’re alive.

Viva la Vida

II. If you can read this, with or without glasses, you have eyes.

III. If you can scroll down, you have hands.

'Destiny'

‘Destiny’

IV. You have a job.

What my Co-Workers think of me

What my Co-Workers think of me

V. You have a roof under your head.

VI. You’ve been blessed with a curious mind.

First Tai Chi lesson

First Tai Chi lesson

VII. You have food in your fridge.

VIII. You have a fire burning in your heart.

IX. You have gifts and talents.

Reciting on stage

Reciting on stage

X. Writing down 10 reasons wasn’t difficult for you.

XI. You’re alive

The aftermath of the accident

The aftermath of the accident

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