Author Archives for John Montesi

There’s a War On

March 30, 2022 7:11 pm Published by Comments Off on There’s a War On

The fear and mistrust of joy is a very natural human response to an illogical world.


Neighborhood Dogs

February 5, 2022 7:21 pm Published by 1 Comment

Not only are dogs more honest, in time they will tell us everything we need to know about the people they are associated with. Dogs always have a lot to teach us about ourselves. 


Picture Perfect

February 3, 2022 9:11 pm Published by Comments Off on Picture Perfect

How many layers of a “picture perfect life” are our true selves buried beneath?  Perhaps the most pervasive question in my confusing life is which version of myself is the realest and where the edge between righteous discontent and selfish ingratitude really is. 


The Weight

September 6, 2021 10:02 pm Published by 2 Comments

Forty years ago, DDT was thinning bald eagle eggs to the point that a mama bird would crush her own brood while trying to incubate them. Finally, a few devout scientists proved this and changed the agricultural chemical industry for the marginally better. If only our mama birds recognized that the weight of their own skewed expectations were crushing us all to death. 


Spilling Blood

July 24, 2021 1:32 am Published by Comments Off on Spilling Blood

It is strangely soothing to feel the adrenaline surging towards the wound and to see the inner workings bubbling up to the surface. Perhaps this is the epitome of the conscious living experience, to have a few fleeting moments of heightened awareness where what’s before us is razor-sharp and what’s behind us is gone.


Bittersweet

May 10, 2021 4:38 pm Published by 2 Comments

Holding back doesn’t lessen the pain of the loss, but it sure as hell lessens the joy of the having.


Tattoos

April 4, 2021 10:09 pm Published by Comments Off on Tattoos

We need physicality, need to feel some presence and ownership in the bodies we inhabit. Without it, the mind will run rampant, will run away with itself and constantly try to leave the flesh behind. 


Just Say It

March 30, 2021 4:37 pm Published by Comments Off on Just Say It

There is no moral high ground, just the ugly work of growing, healing, becoming.


Spring Again

March 27, 2021 4:54 pm Published by Comments Off on Spring Again

I want my joys to be total, my thirsts quenchable, my fears primal. Compounding interest and the calculated torments of the internet make a hungry wolf sound downright friendly. 


Moving and Staying Still

February 20, 2021 7:15 pm Published by Comments Off on Moving and Staying Still

The most unnatural thing we can do is ignore the calling to draw near and reflect, to suppress the urge to go out and seek, to demand a sameness from our souls that robs them of the very quality which makes them soulful.


Going Nowhere

February 17, 2021 11:19 pm Published by 1 Comment

These times, the only place you have to go is within. The only people you can eavesdrop live within your own mind, and people will tell you that hearing voices makes you crazy.


So hard to live the dream

February 2, 2021 9:50 pm Published by Comments Off on So hard to live the dream

I can see it all so clearly, it torments me in my sleeping dreams. Slips away when I awake. It is no closer or farther, but duties and doubts don’t have much power in the REM world.


On the Border of Lonely

December 16, 2020 6:58 pm Published by 1 Comment

Where I stand, the world is quiet. Wind whispers through the ocotillos and the mesquite trees, its song through the thorns cooing the memories of love that hurts to remember and hurts to forget. There’s a ghost beside me, the absence of a soul to share these sights with.


Leaves

October 23, 2020 9:02 pm Published by 1 Comment

We yearn to show our true colors, to display our brightest greens and most vivid yellows, to gracefully grow through the seasons of life for the audience we treasure. Perhaps even to see ourselves become what we are destined to be, to feel pride at who we are. 


Smoke

September 18, 2020 9:24 pm Published by Comments Off on Smoke

And indeed, my flesh is increasingly made of the smoke that our society has created. It is not just routine incense of aspen and pine. It is acrid smoke, spreading across an entire continent, filled with bits of electrical wiring and industrial paint, finer and lighter than ever because the vegetation is so dry.


Depression Headache

August 31, 2020 4:18 am Published by 1 Comment

When I talk to friends, it is via a telephone screen, which physiologically contributes to headaches and psychologically contributes to isolation.


Leery of Contentment

August 12, 2020 11:17 pm Published by Comments Off on Leery of Contentment

The progress addict is leery of contentment, for it threatens the need to constantly be falling forwards.


You Won’t See Me

July 23, 2020 11:15 pm Published by Comments Off on You Won’t See Me

Being an expert in solitude has its costs. You play the long game, accustomed to the sense that there is nothing rushing you to act. And then a forceful suitor swoops in, a lease runs out, bills come up due. Day turns to night, and so it does until another year has passed. The world waits for no one.


Nostalgia

April 22, 2020 5:35 pm Published by Comments Off on Nostalgia

Nostalgia is the truest form of grief. It washes over us with deceptive warm waves of comfort and familiarity, reaching out with open arms to welcome us to the throes of something that never was.


Near Death Experience

March 9, 2020 6:15 pm Published by Comments Off on Near Death Experience

The near death experience may be the moment before the fall is halted by the ground, it may be the first tumble when everything is pain and ringing noises and a flash of white light. Or it may be what happens months, or even years, later. It has nothing to do with injuries or lightning strikes or natural gas leaks. The more comfortable we get and the further from our dreams we stray, the nearer to death we truly become.


The Hope Myth

February 7, 2020 6:43 pm Published by 1 Comment

There is a pervasive myth in humanity that the best way to get through life is with hope of a better tomorrow.


No Depression

February 4, 2020 6:12 pm Published by 2 Comments

The word ‘depressed’ is ridiculously complicated. Not that any word in any language means just one thing, but few words mean more things than depression. Everything from measurable chemical imbalances to tropical storm systems to underperforming stock markets can lead to depression.


We Live in a Simulation

January 31, 2020 8:29 pm Published by Comments Off on We Live in a Simulation

For all the advancements our society has made, the world still rewards those who can separate their conscience from their actions. Close the deal, shoot the wounded, put profit before people. There is not a visible cosmic arbiter of justice and this means only that one’s ingrained sense of right and wrong is a hindrance in the earthly realm.


Lost in Translation

January 27, 2020 7:39 pm Published by Comments Off on Lost in Translation

Ultimately, we are confined to the languages we share with others. The spoken and written languages of the world. The things we trade in. The artistic media that leave everything open to interpretation yet create fleeting bits of solace and solidarity.


Measurements

January 6, 2020 9:05 pm Published by 3 Comments

Somewhere between January and December, between sunrise and sunset, life turns into a series of processes that can rob the days of their original potential. From the alarm clock to clocking in, the hours tick away marked by a ceaseless process that forces us into line.


A Dearth of Solitude

September 9, 2019 5:40 pm Published by 4 Comments

Without profound solitude, everything else feels frivolous at best. After a while, no distraction is as satisfying as not being distracted.


As Good As It Gets

July 21, 2019 11:48 pm Published by 1 Comment

When someone says “This is as good as it gets,” what connotation does that have for you? What about if they ask, “Is this as good as it gets?”


Shreddin’

April 29, 2019 2:00 am Published by Comments Off on Shreddin’

I often notice myself feeling leery of promise because it contains a tremendous amount of kinetic energy. It is why I like to be like a rolling stone, neither gathering moss nor bothered much by the rough and tumble of rolling downhill.


Rust

March 10, 2019 8:39 pm Published by 1 Comment

Through the eroding power of time and numbing experiences, these days the inputs have to be somewhat stronger to come through. Connections corrode with time and rust is simply a protective shell for the fresh parts beneath it.


Beat

February 19, 2019 8:31 pm Published by 1 Comment

I was that blessed level of empty that only comes from efforts which push us to the brink.


Beneath the Stars

February 1, 2019 8:52 pm Published by 2 Comments

Everyone is so afraid of sharing a spork and sleeping on the ground that they forget to be afraid of what happens when they think themselves above such things.


Spending Time

December 14, 2018 8:46 pm Published by Comments Off on Spending Time

Spending money you don’t really have on other people feels like a desperate post-capitalistic mating ritual. Spending money you don’t really have on yourself is a perfect reminder of the relative value of currency.


Seasons

November 15, 2018 6:41 pm Published by Comments Off on Seasons

Feeling the seasons change is surreal, because it always brings with it a rushing nostalgia and a helpless terror. The... View Article


Empty

November 2, 2018 5:34 pm Published by 2 Comments

Emptiness has a nearly universal negative connotation. It is forced to duke it out with its syntactical opposition ‘half full,’... View Article


Make Me Invisible

October 23, 2018 8:25 pm Published by Comments Off on Make Me Invisible

Make me invisible I pray The fog slinks upward


Sutherland Springs

February 11, 2018 12:34 pm Published by 2 Comments

As time passes, I am stricken by many things: the urgency a brush with death places upon us. Our ability to normalize and gloss over such a traumatic experience in order to ‘move on.’ The way survival is so fickle and random that it can all feel very pointless or extraordinarily meaningful. The difference a day makes.


It Feels Wrong to Write

November 27, 2017 1:35 pm Published by Comments Off on It Feels Wrong to Write

I find beauty and hope in the individual and collective human ability to defy the odds. I am also radically overwhelmed by it. Isn't our existence a miracle that should be revered? Aren't we preposterously fleeting? Should we take things less seriously? Is it possible to take things seriously enough? 


The Arctic Ocean

November 1, 2017 1:56 pm Published by Comments Off on The Arctic Ocean

in this moment, I stood still and shivering and let reality wash over me and blow into my core. It is hysterical how little marketing influences you or how much some other human’s selfish decisions can affect your faith or resolve when you are standing with your toes in the Arctic Ocean.


The Bearded Ones

October 24, 2017 11:50 am Published by Comments Off on The Bearded Ones

If there is one quality that I’ve been told I possess which I’m finally starting to truly believe, it’s that I still get as excited as a child about lizards and automobiles and carnivorous plants and, as it turns out, muskoxen. I think this is my number one greatest survival skill, because it gives me the upper hand over any number of existential crises, chemical imbalances, and structural damages that may otherwise rob me of much desire to proceed.


Peeing in the Arctic Circle

October 11, 2017 2:58 pm Published by Comments Off on Peeing in the Arctic Circle

I stood there in a long sleeve T-shirt and blue jeans, exposed in all the most vulnerable ways to the elements, and felt a certain type of ridiculous freedom that men often chase their entire lives. One would never explicitly state that they aspire to something as trite as peeing atop Atiguin Pass, but that may be part of the problem.


Explanations.

September 26, 2017 12:20 pm Published by Comments Off on Explanations.

I snapped a few photos and then resumed staring at the otherworldly glow, pining after a sip or two of whiskey which was never offered and cursing the clouds that seemed to roll in right as the Lights intensified.


Breaking Your Own Rules

September 9, 2017 2:06 pm Published by Comments Off on Breaking Your Own Rules

"On the road again, kissing toes and meeting the characters who make Dawson such a vibrant enclave, I was forced to acknowledge the joy which supersedes the easy checklist items I was racing towards. Items which will always be there, which serve a purpose but do not provide one."


Don’t You Ever Get Lonely?

August 31, 2017 7:11 pm Published by 9 Comments

I stood and let conditioned fear course through my veins and simply observed it from a few feet above my body. For all of these misguided warnings, there I was, completely, utterly alone and more alive than ever. Not even the smallest bone in my body felt lonely in that moment.


In Lieu of the Cosmos

August 26, 2017 4:33 pm Published by Comments Off on In Lieu of the Cosmos

We pulled into the shallows, and the dizzying pace of the water just beyond the barrier island gave me something to focus on. “I think that big eclipse is starting right around now,” I offered. “What eclipse?” he asked me.


Fifteen Minutes from Alaska

August 24, 2017 9:51 pm Published by Comments Off on Fifteen Minutes from Alaska

These snippets are always taken out of context, and they often make others feel inferior and the sharer feel isolated, as if their reality isn’t living up to outsiders’ expectations of it. Happiness is not guaranteed by the sight of snow-capped mountains, though they are never unwelcome. A smile in a moment does not tell the full story. One does not and cannot cross a border or climb a mountain every second of their lives.


Welcome to Alaska

August 15, 2017 4:30 pm Published by Comments Off on Welcome to Alaska

These intersections of theoretical and physical delight me to no end, and I wanted to ask an international legal expert all kinds of questions about what might happen in any number of potential scenarios in this exact spot. 


Space & Time and the Final Frontier

August 11, 2017 6:08 pm Published by Comments Off on Space & Time and the Final Frontier

It is healthy to have our schema shattered repeatedly. It creates a certain open-mindedness and healthy humility. It separates us from the crippling weight of individual situations and frees us from the sense that basic outcomes may dictate our entire lives in a hubristically finite set of options. Every mile covered by the Land Cruiser is earned in a way that would seem blessedly easy to Lewis or Clark or Muir, no matter how brutish they may feel at the time. Every time I believe myself close to an understanding or even a point on a map, I secretly relish being crushed or at least corrected.


The Crossroads

July 29, 2017 3:43 pm Published by Comments Off on The Crossroads

This was a literal crossroads that felt aggressively metaphorical. I wanted to curse the very road junction itself for pointing in all directions and inviting us to follow them wherever they may lead...


Silver (Scaled) Linings

July 22, 2017 2:03 pm Published by Comments Off on Silver (Scaled) Linings

The next morning the sun shone brightly through the cabin windows before my alarm clock rang. Sunshine in the mountains... View Article


Lonely at the Top

July 15, 2017 2:36 pm Published by Comments Off on Lonely at the Top

She knew who I was because I had called in to secure a spot and presumably nobody else had done so that day. I was given the keys and a brief rundown of the area, Hank was given a few dog treats and knocked over a stand of s’mores skewers. It was all so matter of fact and immediate that Los Angeles felt even further than 846 miles away.


Two Steps Back

July 13, 2017 6:08 pm Published by Comments Off on Two Steps Back

A series of machinations led to another, even younger-looking tow truck driver appearing some 30 minutes after we first arrived.... View Article


Survival Mechanisms

July 10, 2017 3:58 pm Published by Comments Off on Survival Mechanisms

The noises emanating from the Land Cruiser’s transmission were grim. There was the uneasy whine of a transfer case that... View Article


The Middle of Nowhere

July 5, 2017 3:44 pm Published by Comments Off on The Middle of Nowhere

“The middle of nowhere” is a loaded idiom. It’s a vague-yet-precise phrase that invokes a certain situation or location, and which could be positive or negative depending on who says it. It offers up visions of amber waves and orange plateaus, of abandoned filling stations and faded glimpses of the past’s future. It is a place devoid of the decades of social construction required to populate a city with its traps and trappings.


Count it All Joy

June 1, 2017 5:55 pm Published by Comments Off on Count it All Joy

A couple of weeks ago, I began to examine the oppressive idea that, “You can’t just do that.” Whatever that... View Article


A Bar at the End of the World

April 13, 2017 4:48 pm Published by Comments Off on A Bar at the End of the World

Sometimes you see something furry and want to touch it, whether it’s a puppy or someone’s velvet jacket. Sometimes you let a bartender plan the majority of your day with no idea of what you’re agreeing to.


Getting off the Couch is the Hardest Thing You’ll Do Today

April 12, 2017 12:35 am Published by Comments Off on Getting off the Couch is the Hardest Thing You’ll Do Today

How would you like to feel 10% less like spontaneously weeping and 90% less passionate about everything from the sound of music to laughing at jokes to your dog’s wellbeing?


Darkness, Light, and a Sunset in Maine

April 4, 2017 12:19 pm Published by Comments Off on Darkness, Light, and a Sunset in Maine

This moment turned out to be a subtle turning point in the narrative. Since picking up the Land Cruiser and having a hilarious Saint Paddy’s Day that was blessedly free of self-awareness sabotaging my enjoyment, I now presented the trip as not just a salve for the pained brain clanging around in my head but also as a concerted effort to rediscover the simple joys that make me who I am and thusly make me worth spending any time around.


A Place to Call Home: The Almost-Ghosttown of Centralia, Pennsylvania

March 27, 2017 1:32 pm Published by Comments Off on A Place to Call Home: The Almost-Ghosttown of Centralia, Pennsylvania

Signs stood in the trees warning hunters not to hunt in this area. We were quite near a State Game Land, of which Pennsylvania has many, and I suppose if you spent enough time in the woods and chased a deer far enough, you could wind up here. Of course, if you missed, your rifle shot might go through one of the remaining houses in Centralia. Or its sharp crack may just be the straw that breaks the asphalt’s back and sends you or the deer into a deep, hot hole.


Cartography

March 22, 2017 11:11 am Published by Comments Off on Cartography

Arriving in a new city by night is always a confusing experience, made all the more surreal by the biting cold and sound-deadening snow that blanketed the town on Saint Patrick’s Friday. Aside from brief breaks for fuel and key exchanges, I’d last stood on solid ground in Manhattan, which made this quietude a special blessing and also a shock to an addled system.


Making Moves

March 6, 2017 5:52 pm Published by Comments Off on Making Moves

Nothing will snap me out of my hypnogogic trance faster than someone telling me that I have more interests or dreams than they do. I will fiercely accost a perfect stranger because I believe so firmly in the human imagination and the childlike whimsy that resides somewhere inside every one of us.


My Dog Taught Me How to Read

February 22, 2017 5:37 pm Published by Comments Off on My Dog Taught Me How to Read

Hank doesn’t know that the universe is infinitely-expanding, and he is a better man for it.


Everyday Miracles

February 20, 2017 5:08 pm Published by Comments Off on Everyday Miracles

I pulled up to one of the only sections of river that wasn’t imminently raging from the evening’s water release... View Article


A Lack of Color

February 16, 2017 5:01 pm Published by Comments Off on A Lack of Color

Some days my brain echoes with static and feels so stuffed with cotton balls that my favorite places feel grating... View Article


The Stories We Long to Tell

February 9, 2017 10:06 am Published by Comments Off on The Stories We Long to Tell

I don’t want to tell myself a story about the woods while sitting under fluorescent lights in a cubicle somewhere far away from them. We needn’t delude ourselves that our masterpieces are just a few months away, if only we keep biding time.


Plans are Better than Goals

February 6, 2017 1:25 pm Published by Comments Off on Plans are Better than Goals

I’ve got a long list of regrets and a longer list of plans, and neither of those lists will get any shorter until I start acting the same way I daydream when I’m having a good day.


DILLIGAF?

January 24, 2017 5:29 pm Published by Comments Off on DILLIGAF?

Somewhere between the dutiful and the nihilistic is the sense that none of us make it out alive, but many of us are never even fully alive.


The Thing About Green Grass

January 13, 2017 12:56 pm Published by Comments Off on The Thing About Green Grass

That is a myth that afflicts not just writers but all people: that our lives, because they are normal to us, are uninteresting and dull while the stories and images of others are enviable and epic in some unattainable way.


You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit

January 9, 2017 4:28 pm Published by Comments Off on You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit

Even though I’ve made so many dramatic moves towards living out my dream, I still often doubt my own agency and potential for happiness.


Notes from the Road: North Carolina

January 7, 2017 12:47 am Published by Comments Off on Notes from the Road: North Carolina

Words lingered in the air like the sparks that danced above the crackling fire. Not a word was spoken about the cars that had brought us all together.


Workable Solutions

January 4, 2017 11:46 am Published by Comments Off on Workable Solutions

Sunday night at church, the pastor did what they so often do and seemed to speak directly to me and... View Article


So This is the New Year

December 31, 2016 1:23 pm Published by Comments Off on So This is the New Year

New Year’s Eve falls squarely under that old Socratic definition of insanity: repeating the same thing and expecting a different... View Article


Pulling Teeth

December 20, 2016 11:43 am Published by Comments Off on Pulling Teeth

It appears that somehow my piece on Petrolicious is climbing its way back into the ranks of the ‘most popular’... View Article


The Rhythm of the Road

October 21, 2016 1:07 pm Published by Comments Off on The Rhythm of the Road

Just as it can be exhilarating and slightly disappointing to finally master a guitar lick you’d revered as a kid... View Article


Laughter is the Best Medicine

October 17, 2016 11:14 am Published by Comments Off on Laughter is the Best Medicine

The vulnerability offered up and time taken to compliment a laugh or share some commonality in written words is a beautiful thing, and every bit of it makes me want to pour myself into my writing and the people I meet a trillion times more.


No Regrets

October 7, 2016 11:56 am Published by Comments Off on No Regrets

There is a difference between having no regrets and learning to live with them.


Trusting Strangers

October 4, 2016 10:27 am Published by Comments Off on Trusting Strangers

Many of us remember being told as children to never trust strangers, or at least to never accept candy from them or get into their cars. I’ve long since broken all of those rules.


The Sin of Forgetting

September 26, 2016 1:35 pm Published by Comments Off on The Sin of Forgetting

“And that’s the problem. I think God is up there and answering prayers, but we take that for granted. We want something, we get it, we’re done until we need something else. And as soon as we get what we wanted, we aren’t even happy about it anymore. To me, that’s the biggest sin. The sin of forgetting.”


Mayor, Sheriff, Razorback Fan, Pizza Parlor Owner.

September 19, 2016 11:31 am Published by Comments Off on Mayor, Sheriff, Razorback Fan, Pizza Parlor Owner.

“How did ya’ll find us?” Todd and Angie seemed to ask simultaneously. Our story made them smile and they brought everyone out from the kitchen to re-tell it


Dances With Wolves

August 27, 2016 5:45 pm Published by Comments Off on Dances With Wolves

It’s no secret that I believe strongly in seeking discomfort in the form of wolf tongues and hot deserts and mountain monsoons, because the particulars are always unpredictable.


What Happens in Vegas

August 9, 2016 2:43 pm Published by Comments Off on What Happens in Vegas

I used to wonder how I could ever earnestly dance or love or have a conversation again after I felt that part of me atrophy under the weight of irony and sarcasm and a million unanswered questions.


On the Road Again

July 28, 2016 10:42 am Published by Comments Off on On the Road Again

Getting nearly killed by a car, or anything else for that matter, can be a magnificent blessing in disguise. It... View Article


The Algorithm of Life

March 29, 2016 11:53 am Published by Comments Off on The Algorithm of Life

It is little exaggeration to say that “everyone” is now discussing the imminent disruption to the social order, that in... View Article


The Unsung Praises of Pop Music

December 8, 2015 12:05 pm Published by Comments Off on The Unsung Praises of Pop Music

We spend a lot of life burying simple, earnest joy beneath complicated oxymorons like the idea of the “guilty pleasure.” This phrase is most often connoted with songs that we somehow “shouldn’t” like but secretly do, anyways.


Town, Country, Action

November 6, 2015 3:57 pm Published by Comments Off on Town, Country, Action

There is so little practical difficulty in the day-to-day of most of us that we have to create solutions to nonexistent problems for our own entertainment, to provide that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction where none can be found... In comfort, so few demands are made of us that we can sit and pontificate until we unravel. I don’t have to wallow in sorrow and self-loathing to be at my artistic best—maybe I’d write a more poignant novel in the Modernist style if I allowed myself to keep feeling as I did two years ago—but I can be informed by that knowledge of high art as I create something filled with high hope.


Aging Artfully

October 2, 2015 12:39 pm Published by Comments Off on Aging Artfully

As we wonder how to age well, how to make it to our seventh generation and sit on the stage with our hats pulled low not as a display of hubris but for dramatic effect, it’s easy to wonder if we can learn from the mistakes our predecessors have made, or if we can only learn from them that mistakes will be made.


Never Forget

September 11, 2015 1:10 pm Published by Comments Off on Never Forget

In an era where Moore’s Law is hopelessly outdated, nothing has surpassed the way that date and its imagery imprinted itself on all of our psyches.


A Vegetal Compulsion

August 7, 2015 1:57 pm Published by Comments Off on A Vegetal Compulsion

And I have achieved something through a long and quite painful process that I didn’t realize I’d been longing for all along. Joan Didion put words to it when she said of Amado: “It seemed to me that day that I had never talked to anyone so direct and unembarrassed about the things he loved.”


Hello to a River

April 8, 2015 10:59 am Published by Comments Off on Hello to a River

The idea that a river has a character distinct from all other rivers seems impossibly provincial. If someone had said... View Article