Author Archives for John Montesi

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


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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

"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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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...


Lonely at the Top

July 15, 2017 2:36 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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.


The Middle of Nowhere

July 5, 2017 3:44 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

“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.


A Bar at the End of the World

April 13, 2017 4:48 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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.


Darkness, Light, and a Sunset in Maine

April 4, 2017 12:19 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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.


The Stories We Long to Tell

February 9, 2017 10:06 am Published by Leave your thoughts

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.


DILLIGAF?

January 24, 2017 5:29 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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.


Laughter is the Best Medicine

October 17, 2016 11:14 am Published by Leave your thoughts

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.


Trusting Strangers

October 4, 2016 10:27 am Published by Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

“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.”


Dances With Wolves

August 27, 2016 5:45 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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.


The Unsung Praises of Pop Music

December 8, 2015 12:05 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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 Leave your thoughts

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.”