Alienated

What’s your five-year plan?

I laughed and told her I don’t have a five-year plan or any sort of plan and I think that’s when she decided it wasn’t going to work out between us.

Life is a lie so what’s the point in having a five-year plan anyway?

There’s also a good chance that we, collectively, don’t have many years left.

About the lie though. I spent my formative years in an insulated levittown, nestled comfortably between the man-made lake in my backyard and pothole-free streets and the metro bus stop that goes straight to The Pentagon. But it was all a lie. Like I was living in the cave and the entire system did everything in its power to prevent me from investigating the shadows cast on the wall.

They didn’t want me to know about poverty and hopelessness and how many people have seven DUIs and how many people leave their dogs chained up outside year-round. I never saw exploitation and wage theft and I never really understood what it means for a white man to own the fucking means of production and what it means for his children and their children.

Everyone goes to college, you have a bright future, the world is your oyster. You gotta get good grades and score well on the SAT and get a degree so you can get a good job and afford to have kids and own a home and get married. Shut the fuck up. Just fucking stop with the bullshit. This world is garbage and capitalism has rendered life meaningless. I have developed immunities to your capitalist propaganda and highly-effective forms of American brainwashing. That shit doesn’t work on me. I live firmly outside of your fucking cave.

Regardless, there is no point so I don’t have any interest in thinking about a five-year plan and when she asks me questions about my likes and dislikes I squirm and contort my face because I do not have strong connection to The Self and I feel detached from this world and Buddhism teaches that its not good to have likes and dislikes and I’m always stoned anyways which increases my indecisiveness.

I just feel alienated. Marx was right.

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Within a society that operates in the capitalist mode of production, there is no point to life for the wage slaves, who make up the bulk of society. We have no agency in our lives.

No point in making friends; falling in love. We cannot afford to buy homes. An unforeseen illness can plunder an entire life of saving in this fucking gilded oligarchy.

Yet we keep our eyes aimed on each other — we fight amongst ourselves because we have been trained to believe that capitalism is a zero-sum game and that the government is the enemy. We are bootlickers. We hold grudges against our brothers and our sisters and fight over tip money but never raise our eyes above the cave walls, where Mr. Capitalist hoards his wealth and reaps the benefits of paying his wage slaves the bare fucking minimum required by the laws his friends wrote.

I do not feel a connection to any specific group of people. Some people care about their hometown football team or religion or their gender or skin color or hobby or whatever. I don’t feel a connection to anyone. No one understands me and whenever I talk about capitalism they call me crazy. When I say Americans are brainwashed they tell me I am brainwashed. I feel no connection to white people in America, who have benefited immensely from the long history in this country of genocide, slavery and capitalism yet today seem to believe that we exist in a vacuum. I mean, Jesus Fucking Christ, there are actual Nazis. Furthermore, there is no geographic boundary to which I call home or feel a significant connection.

I really just want one thing.

I want to tear down the capitalist mode of production and fight for the liberation of all humans and non-human animals.

I’m coming for you, Mr. Capitalist.

Sorry about the potluck

Hi Dawn,

Thanks for your message.

I didn’t go to the potluck because I’m tired of the vegetarians and their cognitive dissonance.

It’s absolute bullshit. John is the worst and he started the group. He doesn’t even seem to contemplate what it means to be vegan and how vegetarians like him still pay people to kill animals for them. I don’t really care for his company.

I also didn’t go because I was laid off from my shitty wage slave job at the Holiday Inn Express.

A week or two before I was laid off I had several meetings with the general manager and assistant general manager and told them how upset and angry I was that so many of the housekeepers, mostly Navajo women, come in an hour early and work off the clock to get their carts ready and get all of their linen for the day. I told them that they feel pressured to work without clocking in because the hotel is run so poorly, there isn’t enough inventory, the storage rooms are rarely stocked properly, there’s one head housekeeper in charge of scheduling, ordering products, managing staff, keeping the housekeepers in line and managing the laundry staff. And the head housekeeper doesn’t even get paid benefits. It’s absolute bullshit. I told the GM that all of these issues are directly related to the absentee owners in Moab. Michael Henry Bynum, with the help of  his son, Zachary Daniel Bynum, has been exploiting Native American women at his hotels for 40 years in Moab and for 5 years now in Cortez.

Dawn… I just don’t understand how they are still getting away with this.

How can a world this cruel be allowed to exist?

The rich and powerful white men — whose faces change over the generations but never change — have so carefully honed and perfected this world to create a permanent upper class and a permanent lower class to exploit for their benefit. I see it in three phases, all intended to control the population. First, it was genocide. Get rid of the existing population. Next, bring in some slaves. We need people to work our fields for free. Now, it’s all about capitalism. Keep the slaves in the field but just change the laws slightly to let us pay them minimum wage and keep them on seven-hour shifts instead of eight so we don’t have to pay benefits.

How are they still getting away with it?

Why is it that when I try to tell the Navajo women to stop working off the clock all they see if an angry white man, an authority figure, who is accosting them for some reason but they have no education (part of the plan) or understanding of the world so they can’t even comprehend that they are being exploited and abused and manipulated and why I am so bothered by that exploitation? This isn’t how it has to be but I don’t know how to communicate that. I’m not from this world. I have no one to talk about these issues with in this town. If I mention capitalism I’m a fucking alien. So I further isolate myself.

This is all part of their plan and at this point I don’t feel like there’s anything I can do about it. I thought being a journalist would empower me to change the world because presenting the facts would surely change peoples’ minds. No. That’s very naive. I have no power. My writing is meaningless. For everyone decent journalism story there is an equal and opposite article from a capitalist propaganda outlet to counter reality. The world is evil, white men are evil and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about any of it. They are insatiable. I’ve talked to two union leaders and Denver and they said there’s absolutely no way any union is touching Cortez.

I’m unemployed now and have enough money to get me through the end of the year I think. I have my marijuana employee badge so I handed out my resume to the dispensaries but literally no one is hiring in this town for the winter.

I’m just one of the hundreds of souls in Cortez suddenly thrown to the wayside once the nice, rich, white families stop visiting Mesa Verde National Park. They all wear the same dumb clothes and white Reebok’s and Tommy Bahama shirts and when they go home they tell everyone they saw real Navajos (!) and I overhear them asking the front desk attendant what tribe they are from as they relish in their newfound multiculturalism. But it’s all a fucking game. The Navajo they see in the hotel are just being exploited by a rich white asshole developer in Moab who hasn’t actually generated any of his own wealth himself. No, his father owned a restaurant in Moab and then lil Mike was the star quarterback of the HS football team and got a scholarship to CU Boulder, where he studied law and then opened up a development/real estate law firm in Boulder with his good friend who went on to donate $10 million to the law school to employ in perpetuity “two senior faculty positions to be held by national-caliber scholars with a deep appreciation for and commitment to capitalism and free enterprise.” (Bynum and Chrisman also used their own law firm to work out all of their own development ventures, and the law firm’s name is on the bottom all of their Colorado business forms from that time. Great way to keep everything in house.)

Everyone praises the rich white men. He makes charitable donations! He creates jobs! He sits on corporate boards! Well, hold on now. He creates shitty minimum wage jobs because he’s incredibly selfish. He makes charitable donations because he is woefully under taxed. He makes charitable donations to ensure his money will not help the general welfare and the people he exploits, rather he wants his money to benefit people like him. Now because of his generous donation, young white men from privileged backgrounds can attend CU Boulder and learn all of the tricks to keeping as much money in his and his family’s pocket and far from the people who actually generated the wealth, working in the hotels, in the restaurants, with sore backs, endless cuts and scrapes on their fingers, getting sick from the women who had a cold in room 110, missing out on a day’s pay to take care of their child because any sort of sick time or vacation pay or healthcare is reserved for the people who actually matter! That is, the people who sit behind a desk all day and play with spreadsheets.

And the vegan thing. The GM called a staff meeting after I told him how I feel and they bought pizza. As I walked in, one of my laundry coworkers said she told the boss I’m vegan and they got a special pizza for me. My vegan anxiety began to swell. I’ve had plenty of experiences being vegan among coworkers and I always keep my expectations low. When the pizzas arrived I was not at all surprised to find a special small pizza just for me. I opened it up and found cheese all over it. So the head housekeeper took it back, which was very kind but totally unnecessary, and then she came back 20 minutes later and plopped a small pizza in front of me with no cheese. Then one of the housekeepers made a comment about how special and pampered I am. So I’m the weird one. I’M THE WEIRD ONE? I literally just don’t want to kill animals for no reason as well as destroy the planet and their own health. But I’m fucking weird.

It’s all bullshit Kathleen and I’ve decided that I’d rather just renounce the world. I’ve actually been thinking that it might be best to encourage the acceleration of global climate change to hasten our inexorable end. My fantasy is the world that will return after humans have killed themselves off. A balance will return to the Earth once we’re gone. That’s the only thing I look forward to these days.

 

Maybe I’ll see you around town,

Walter

Fragments

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I want to say thank you to something

but I don’t know what to call it.

 

Show me the fragments of knowledge

shared across cultures, countries, continents

through the ages the languages the world religions.

 

It can’t be some grand conspiracy

too many coincidences.

 

Each seeing, feeling the same concepts

writing the same thoughts in poetry.

 

It makes me believe

there is something.

 

When the missionaries in Utah asked

if I believe in God,

I told them I didn’t

understand the question.

 

There’s something I want to thank but

I don’t know what to call it.

 

 

Could Be Worse

It was a big ordeal, the family vacation.

We were at some hotel. My brother, sister, father, grandparents, aunts and uncles, I think. My dad loaded the van with our luggage. I think it was a rental. We were headed to the airport for a long flight to the other side of the world.

It was a big airport. Busy. Crowded. People bumping into each other.

My sister was taken away. Detained by security, maybe. It wasn’t clear but I knew she would be OK. She can handle herself.

We arrived at the area where only passengers can go and the person behind the counter asked for my ID. I didn’t have it though. I didn’t have my wallet. My wallet is in my backpack. Where’s my backpack? Dad, where’s my backpack? It’s not in the pile of other luggage it’s not there on the white tile floor of the airport with the other bags. The man behind the big counter, separated by glass, needs my ID. But I don’t have it.

My sister must have my backpack. But they took her. Where?

I stand in a line and then tell another security person that I don’t have my ID. She gave me a card that will let me through without my ID. It has numbers and words printed on it. I stand in another line and the next lady I talk to, a young black woman behind a counter, tells me the card isn’t enough and she needs ID. I don’t have it, what should I do? Go talk to that woman who works in airport security.

She’s a white woman and I tell her my sister has my backpack and it has my ID inside of it. You took my sister so where is she? I look away and when I turn back she had turned into a short, rotund black woman and she told me to follow her.

She led me away from the busyness. Where people just pass through to get from one place to another because they make airports really big so you don’t wait so long. People need the exercise anyway. Objection, relevance. She takes me back further in the airport and this large door that didn’t look like a door, but a kiosk of some sort, opens leading to a warehouse.

There are gray concrete slab floors, fluorescent lights high up in the ceiling and people in uniforms milling about. Long, domed rooms inside of a warehouse. The black woman who works in airport security was guiding me. She would run and then slide around corners and tell me to follow her.

We are walking around the warehouse for a while. There are different sectors with different activity. I think to myself that it reminds me of when I worked at the recycling plant, but I decide not to tell her. 

She takes me to the edge of a holding area of some sort. I remember her trying to tell me that I should just give up and that I won’t find my ID but I ask what is in that area and she doesn’t care if I go inside.

I walk through a doorway and see rows of bunk beds filled with people who seemed to have been detained at the airport for some reason or another. There were hundreds and hundreds of people here. There were long picnic tables and bunk beds with people everywhere. I remember curves. The ceiling or walls or something was curved and not linear. Actually, I don’t remember there being a ceiling at all. There were birds.

I wonder how I am ever going to find my sister here. I start yelling her name. People notice me. They look, dozens, hundreds of them, and see me. Some of them join and start yelling my sister’s name. They don’t know why they are doing it. They just see me yelling  and join in.

A shirtless man runs over and points with both hands with his elbows pointed and says go over there. I turn a corner of long picnic tables filled with people and see my sister sitting down. She is happy. She made some friends, was laughing with people who look cool, and was having a good time. I was never worried about her.

I tell her I am happy to see her and ask if she has my ID. I think it was in my backpack or maybe you had it. She is wearing a fanny pack. She opens it and I see a bag of weed and a bunch of cards and a few little odds and ends. She looks through the cards and says she doesn’t have my ID.

I tell her thank you and I am leaving now.

I walk away, resigned to the fact that I am not making the flight. My sister didn’t seem to care about that she was missing the flight, but I do. That ticket cost a lot of money. It was for the other side of the world.

I walk away and suddenly I’m in a different environment. The desert. Another black woman is with me. She has caramel skin, wears a loose fitting tank top and doesn’t work at the airport. She is kind and gentle, understanding. We are walking, or floating, or she is carrying me, comforting me, holding me. She smells good, refreshing and sweet and her skin is warm. We are moving down a curved sidewalk in the desert. There are a few shrubs, grasses and trees around us and it is just before sunset. She is comforting me.

I tell her I am upset that I am missing the flight and that ticket cost a lot of money.

The last thing I remember is telling her, “But it could be worse.”


I wake up on my air mattress in a cold room.

… I lost my identification?

Geocentric

Why do the butterflies dance in front of me?

Why does the wind whisper in my ear?

Why do the ravens fly over my head?

Why do the rocks support me?

Why does the sun beat down on me?

Why does the moon protect me?

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Skewed.

They don’t do it for me.

It’s just part of their nature.

We make believe we are at the center of it all.