September 24, 2022 5:57 pmPublished by John Montesi
That is the ultimate appeal of clickbait headlines about hookers and blow, of Alexander Supertramp lighting his substantial inherited wealth on fire somewhere in the desert. We fantasize about being rockstars, firefighters, farmers, poets. We want to be who we were, before it all changed.
February 3, 2022 9:11 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
September 6, 2021 10:02 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
February 20, 2021 7:15 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
October 23, 2020 9:02 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
September 18, 2020 9:24 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
July 23, 2020 11:15 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
March 9, 2020 6:15 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
February 24, 2020 7:06 pmPublished by John Montesi
Oftentimes, the reality of life is difficult to believe. Not only is truth stranger than fiction, but there is a noteworthy disconnect between our expectations, our perceptions, and the unflinching march of time.
February 4, 2020 6:12 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
January 31, 2020 8:29 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
January 27, 2020 7:39 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
January 6, 2020 9:05 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
April 29, 2019 2:00 amPublished by John Montesi
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.
March 10, 2019 8:39 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
February 1, 2019 8:52 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
December 14, 2018 8:46 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
August 7, 2018 2:20 pmPublished by admin
Life does not ask if you want to see a dead body dredged from a river on your bike ride or if you want to wake up one day and realize that most everyone you thought you might marry someday is now engaged to someone else or if you were ready for another year to be two-thirds over, for everyone you love to be two-thirds a year older, for your checking account to be two-thirds a year emptier. The disappearing act forces you to put your thoughts in a centrifuge in a noise-cancelling vacuum and distill them and listen to them until you are aware just what they are.
August 2, 2018 4:09 pmPublished by admin
I do not need distractions or white picket fences. I need to write. I need to push myself to the limits so I have something to say. And I need to read what others have said, that I may remember the vague, gnawing feelings I have all day have names.
May 4, 2018 11:33 amPublished by admin
Spending too much time thinking may have its downsides, but that is only if you subscribe to the notion that there is such thing as “spending too much time thinking.”
April 4, 2018 2:33 pmPublished by admin
I try to free myself of the thirst for material goods, only to notice that in lieu of spiritual satisfaction, a project car or a more specialized bicycle or new camera lens might offer up a convincing diversion. Besides, what is so wrong with just being comfortable?
March 14, 2018 5:07 pmPublished by admin
There is a yearning within all of us to find more joy in a simple evening stroll than in a new Porsche, but there is also a reluctance which holds us back. We can work hard and save our shekels and buy the one, but the other requires solemn introspection and much harder work, and nothing which can be bought with ink on a dotted line. And that is what writing and conversation and coffee and whiskey are all about; it is why we must make a thousand words out of the way the sunlight dances along the sidewalk during the evening dog walk
February 27, 2018 12:17 pmPublished by admin
In a way, it is a refreshing feeling to be constantly aware of your surroundings, to know what it is you are most afraid of. To have a common fear with all fellow men, to have a lingua franca that everyone speaks about dangers and preparations and the haughty laughs we must have if we are to survive it at all. In the Yukon, everyone has a bear story or ten. In Alaska, people speak more in “how bad” bears are than whether there are bears at all.
February 11, 2018 12:34 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
January 15, 2018 1:54 pmPublished by admin
We gradually fade from sharp-toothed puppy to hyperactive youngin’ to sleeping eighteen hours a day, and as is the nature of existing, we only really notice our most current state of being. A senior dog fades into the background and then occasionally surprises us with a half snarl or a flash of the spunk that used to wear us down through sheer quantity of energy. An old friend falls through the cracks as we see enough glimpses of them looking happy on the internet that we forget to check in and actually talk. The best moments of our life slowly fade into the shadows until we neither remember nor forget them; they are simply there until a tragedy brings them into high relief and we remember them wistfully.
January 4, 2018 12:43 pmPublished by admin
If there is one thing I have learned in more or less the last calendar year, it is that we are at our best when we can hold our own worst thoughts and fears in our hands at arm’s length and stare at them until they look less ugly and less daunting; less like shackles and more like spurs.
December 16, 2017 6:27 pmPublished by admin
I hoisted my knee up over the edge and we stood, above the Canyon once more, fierce winds howling in our ears, reminding us just how precarious standing atop a slick hoodoo is. But, everything is precarious in its own way. Is it not better to bring that to light instead of trying to hide it in the shadows?
November 27, 2017 1:35 pmPublished by John Montesi
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?
November 1, 2017 1:56 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
October 24, 2017 11:50 amPublished by John Montesi
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.
October 11, 2017 2:58 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
September 26, 2017 12:20 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
September 9, 2017 2:06 pmPublished by John Montesi
"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."
August 31, 2017 7:11 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
August 26, 2017 4:33 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
August 24, 2017 9:51 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
August 15, 2017 4:30 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
August 11, 2017 6:08 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
July 29, 2017 3:43 pmPublished by John Montesi
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...
July 15, 2017 2:36 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
July 5, 2017 3:44 pmPublished by John Montesi
“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.
April 13, 2017 4:48 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
April 12, 2017 12:35 amPublished by John Montesi
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?
April 4, 2017 12:19 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
March 27, 2017 1:32 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
March 6, 2017 5:52 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
February 9, 2017 10:06 amPublished by John Montesi
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.
January 13, 2017 12:56 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
October 17, 2016 11:14 amPublished by John Montesi
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.
October 4, 2016 10:27 amPublished by John Montesi
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.
September 26, 2016 1:35 pmPublished by John Montesi
“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.”
September 19, 2016 11:31 amPublished by John Montesi
“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
August 9, 2016 2:43 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
December 8, 2015 12:05 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
November 6, 2015 3:57 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
October 2, 2015 12:39 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.
August 7, 2015 1:57 pmPublished by John Montesi
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.”