Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Vacuum

Very recently, I made a friend on the train. This friendship lasted a good while, about five days, until my ex-new friend discovered something about me which he absolutely could not tolerate. My feelings and beliefs surrounding Kurt Cobain's suicide.

Courtesy of Flominator
Our friendship started innocently enough. As I was about to put in my ear buds and listen to Alicia Keys in the Austin Train station, my ex-new friend started speaking to me about my polka dot bike helmet and his experiences riding his bicycle in Austin. That evening, he shared a delicious sandwich with me from Wheatville Co-op, and we spent the entirety of the next day in the lounge car, playing chess and talking about Alan Watts, Buddhism, and my ex-new friend's father. When I got off the train in Phoenix, I bid him adieu and promised to email him.

The break-up transpired over a series of emails. Our conversation about Kurt Cobain, which ended with my ex-new friend telling me that he didn't think it was going to work out, alluded to my 20 Dates project as "sexual tourism", (a term so poignant, I hope to use it again and again, for many years to come). He told me that I would make a good soldier, called me "hard and stainless", and scolded me for having not rolled down my window for a homeless person in Chicago.  My best guess is that my ex-new friend has never been to Chicago.

I had an inkling this might happen. I had even mentioned to my ex-new friend during the trip that the train is a special environment. Like a vacuum in which anything that is created will most likely die when exposed to the air outside of its carefully sealed, stable environment, the train affords almost no exposure to the outside world. I am a near-expert on vacuum-like environments due to my vast experience working in higher education.

Back to, as my ex-new friend would call him, "Kurt". It was my ex-new friend's contention that Kurt should have just gotten away for a while; boarded a plane and escaped all his troubles. He proposed that outside pressures were eating Kurt's soul; that while he was scornful and angry, he probably also cried a lot. Of course, as those of us who have suffered with serious depression know, it is not the outside forces which are ultimately responsible for the inner turmoil. There is no plane in existence with the ability to take you away from yourself.

My argument, that Kurt was authentically miserable, not a poser pretending to be miserable, which pointed to self-destructive and tragic behavior, was not welcome by my ex-new friend. I argued the contradiction of loving a man for the hateful, tortured soul that he is then hating what that torture ends up doing to him. All of this, my observations and opinions of Kurt Cobain, led to my ex-new friend severing all ties.

The irony of the situation was incredibly amusing. My apparent lack of sympathy fomented a less-than-sympathetic attitude in my ex-new friend. While I allowed him his perspective of Kurt Cobain, apparently, there was no room in his world for someone with my point of view. That my perspective was so offensive that we could not even be email friends was a bit of a surprise. The fact that the disagreement was regarding the suicide of the King of Grunge, well, that bordered on hysterical.

I did enjoy our short-lived friendship while it lasted. My ex-new friend was a very kind, sensitive soul. I learned a lot from him, mostly about chess, on my trip from Austin to Phoenix, and a lot more in the email thread that followed.

It is very easy to maintain a friendship inside the vacuum, but outside of the vacuum, things tend to decay and die in unpredictable and sometimes violent ways. Kurt Cobain probably knew this better than anyone.


  1. Dude I really like this post. A lot. And as someone that is a huge Kurt Cobain fan I think your perspective on him is right on. Kurt was tortured by himself, he wasn't hateful, but there was a lot he saw wrong with himself and the world around him, which is why he was a brilliant artist because he could expose those truths to everyone. However, bottom line is he just couldn't figure out a way to come to terms with them, which is the only way one ever gets themselves out of depression. Also anyone that actually *knows* you, you know outside the vacuum, knows that you are pretty much anything but hard or stainless. So fuck that shit. Sadly most dudes are threatened by your 20 dates blog because you did what they do on a daily basis and they find that unnerving. Pair that with the fact you exposed what psychos or dogs a lot of them were and that just signals all out war. So don't take to heart what happens in the vacuum, because most of us are rocking it in reality. Yourself included.

  2. Thanks dude. New format. I am liking it.
    I appreciate everything you said. Your support is incredibly helpful and really meaningful because I felt like you would be the litmus test.

  3. One of my fav quotes is "oh, no, not another experience lesson!" Such is life. People who've never wrestled with the twin beasts of depression and despair don't understand how fierce the fight can be.

    To some, they may think "why don't you just cheer up?" which, is would be laughable were it not true of them. I mean them no disrespect. We are all ignorant, just in different areas.

    I know you and your trials. I respect who you are and what you have faced and endured. "it is not the outside forces which are ultimately responsible for the inner turmoil. There is no plane in existence with the ability to take you away from yourself." is as accurate and true as it is painful and sad.

    Still, you've faced so much that others bolt and run from and I am proud of that. You've gone far done a path that most people are afraid to even attempt.

    Take care traveler.

  4. Actually, Kurt faked his death. Sorry to break this to you, but you and your friend both blew it. Kurt went to Brazil, to fullfill his dream of being a transvestite catholic priest, which they have over there in Brazil, although it is on the down low. But it is a very big subculture there, and there are secret writings by Kurt that now have surfaced that were leaked by Glen Greenwald, which describe Kurt's struggles with his new life, the agonizing hours he spent trying different boob shapes before the surgery, and deciding how high his voice would be. He didnt want to get a really girly voice but the fans would recognize him so he had even his vocal chords shortened. Then he flipped out for a while and got strung out on anal hamsters, then he was accepted into the trans priesthood and now is a trans catholic priest in Rio named Roderigo. Most of his depression is gone, he said it was cause he was blonde at a young age, and it made people extra lenient toward him. he says it all has to do with hair.

    1. Oh, my goodness! I had a feeling that the transvestite road could be a solution for such an affliction. Goodness gracious. And thanks for the update.