So here we are again. Seven months ago I released the first “A Collection of Recent Writings" on this blog. Since then, I’ve posted to the blog only a few times. I’ll start this by sharing the same sentiment I shared in the first collection: I still, on a daily basis, write. To me, writing is therapy, but combat; it’s exercise, but rest; it is the calm, but also the storm. It’s everything. That said, the purpose of these collections are not to showcase polished works of writing that I’ve slaved over in countless drafts and iterations. In fact, much the opposite is true. This collection of pieces, from June 2018 to January 2019, are unpolished, raw, and true pieces that I wrote most likely in the inventory of three or four notebooks you’ll often see me clutching in my day to day life. I’ll stress it again: these are rough, unedited pieces, many of which I’ll be reading back for the first time while I type them out for this post.
There’s a part of me that wishes I wanted this less. I wish I could let it go and go the way that is tried and true. I lament that I may be losing out on quite a formative part of my life. At this point in my career, however, I unfortunately know better. There aren’t many directors willing to put the work in.
I MUST BE DIFFERENT.
I MUST SUCCEED.
I WILL NOT FALTER.
I WILL NOT RETREAT.
I MUST SWALLOW MY PRIDE.
DIVE HEAD FIRST INTO THE SHIT AND DO NOT STOP.
Failure and success are nothing but self-imposed states of mind. I care not for acquiring either.
What I want is glory.
These are synonyms in my eyes.
My deterrent in pursuing the latter is an equal-in-force desire to achieve glory in what my environment has taught me is the “right way.” In doing so, however, in walking this tightrope, I find myself losing balance. The pride that pushes me to pen this encroaches on my being. It causes me to lose track of who I am.
An anchor is needed.
The promise of at least being an OBSERVER of innocence is a wonderful thing.
I wonder now if my attachments towards what built me is holding me back from greatness.
My moral boundaries, (as thin as they have become in recent weeks), must stand. If they fall, nothing separates me from the mediocrity of normalcy and that which is expected.
I am a ship with a destination.
On my way to the end of my journey, I am unable to dock for respite. Forward, always, until either the maw of the sea swallows me or I sail to find the treasures that await.
Written a few hours before my flight to Los Angeles.
I'm brought back to the first time I flew across the country with hopes of starting a career in film and television. Every day, that event feels further away. Already it feels like a lifetime has passed since then.
I think I know less about love now than I did two years ago. I’m so selfish now, in love with my own progression; that I, at this time, 10:30 PM, several thousand feet in the air, truly question what romantic love is. I love my mother and father, my friends, and other close relatives. I love my work, unconditionally, even. I couldn’t give someone the love I give my work. I couldn’t give someone the love I give my parents and friends. What then, is romantic love? At this moment, I feel like a 14th century explorer. I search endlessly, tirelessly even for a discovery that will change my perspective. I want to discover, truly discover for myself what romantic love truly is. I’ve lived my life thus far striving to be a fighter. Every day, I inch closer to becoming the writer I want to be. Writers are lovers. I must learn love.
To myself, Fuck You.
I was never good at math. Now, I live my life thinking in formulas. Every conversation, business or otherwise, is long division to me. How do I solve the problem? What is the problem? It’s a path to success, carved by the calculus that is the conversations I have with people who will help me advance myself. There is, at first glance, a layer of malicious intent that rests on the surface of the above admission. I argue, in my defense, the idea that when supplemented with the intention of being a good person, the workings of a manipulative mind are justified.
Time, on the lectern of my life, will tell.
The pastel crowd pulsates with putrid and painful aromas of the pompous numbers. Picasso would beam a beautiful smile at the amount of painted faces in these halls. Phone call after phone call, hand shook and hand shook, all to reach societal heights that allow you to keep doing both. An endless loop. The infinite staircase. The hole with no bottom. The only escape is death. We still fall, our death being the catalyst for others to fall as well.
”I need to do as much as I can until my death.”
The above statement is our only true death.
High, at 2:08 AM, 6/22/2018
The brown canyon contrasts the bright mood. Drinks are passed without the thought of repercussions. We are immortal in this moment. We are free in this moment. Cold beer serves as the fuel to the engine of memories. The roar of a four wheeler engine is the soundtrack to a weekend of debauchery. We mask the realities of our bland lives with bad decisions and fake alcoholism. Behind the facade we all desire the same thing.
To be the best.
That is what we want.
Men want nothing more than to be the first. The conquerors.
Not the fun kind. The morning after kind.
It’s met with tired smiles and hungover chuckles.
“What did we do last night?”
The dusty roads are pathways to memories.
Soon now we move to the forest.
The tall trees are made monuments to days soon past.
Enjoy them now, while we can.
The road back is more somber: paved with responsibilities.
A fire burns tonight. The need for escape is fulfilled during nights like this. I sit in this camping chair content for what I know is fleeting moments. The stories we pass are fuel for the words I pen. This is freedom, freedom from what is expected.
It’s okay to cry.
Burning embers ignite the night.
This life is nothing less than the fight.
The fight to succeed.
To fulfill the need.
Experiences are the seed.
I must lead.
Them before me.
I must be the tree.
The branches that I grow.
The people that I know.
I know less now than I did when I was younger.
Love is a math problem.
I always did bad at the subject.
I have yet to solve the problem.
We were kids once. We’d watch fireworks on the Fourth of July. We’d laugh, eat barbecue, and reminisce about our even younger youth. Life was easy.
Until it wasn’t.
It’s the Fourth of July now, and still we watch fireworks, laugh, eat barbecue, and reminisce about our youth. Now, however, there’s a layer of solemnity that rests above these laugh filled conversations. Where does it come from? I postulate that for many of us, the veil was pulled back. We see the sad sight past the curtain now. We’re Dorothy and around us are Tin Men and Cowardly Lions and Lionesses aplenty. Life is more complicated than we imagined. It’s harder to swallow than the sight that Dorothy and her merry bunch of metaphors had to behold. Expectations of our peers, our parents, our mentors, and most of all, ourselves, weigh down on us in ways only a witch crushed by a house could relate to.
Oh, to be Toto again.
Free yourself from these heavy thoughts. Float once more into the ether of innocence. Only to fall in the mud again anyway.
I’m trying to remember what I was before all this. To be the hardest worker in any given room was my aspiration just two years ago.
What the fuck is it now?
I don’t think it’s that. To be the smartest? Most cunning? What vain imaginations do I have for myself that I know aspire to manipulate the hardest? This deep rooted desire to be the center of attention must rest at the heart of it. I balk and buckle at my own decisions despite claiming to confront the pros and cons of them on a daily basis. My indecision and personal fears must die sooner, much sooner, rather than later.
This kills me. I fight now with my two year old, burgeoning sense of deep loneliness and deep disappointment in myself.
”Tim thinks that he’s SO GOOD with people that as soon as he fails in a relationship, he can’t get it out of his head.”
I have done nothing but continuously prove the above right. I am a fuck up in romantic relationships. I know LESS now than I did two fucking years ago. WHY THE FUCK CAN’T YOU COME TO TERMS WITH YOURSELF?
Put your head down and trudge on. A younger me had no problem being the fucking heartless one. Now, I can’t fucking help myself.
I NEED TO FEEL.
I don’t think I’m lying anymore when I tell myself I like being sad.
Fuck this I’m done.
Dating apps are a front. We put ourselves on here to perform. We present our absolute best selves with a veil of invulnerability and confidence; yet, by downloading the app in the first place, we already reveal our vulnerability and cowardice. We fear the real. We fear facing our lesser selves. Most importantly, we fear losing the stage. The crumbling of the front shakes us to our core. It’s okay. This isn’t a lecture. It’s a Tinder/Bumble bio. Me? I’m just a 6’0 (not really, but close), dog owner (I fuckin’ wish), Writer. Director. Goofy Goober. Rock.
An experimental Tinder Bio.
Everyone needs an anchor.
This ocean we sail is one of loneliness and isolation.
Other ships pass in the night.
We wave to them as they pass.
On this journey, we are only able to continue with our anchors.
To Whoever’s Next,
I’ll be honest. I don’t know what I’m looking for anymore. I know less now than I did two years ago. All I know now is what I don’t want. I don’t want what I’ve had before. Is that primal? That’s not the word. Is that sophomoric? Maybe. But is it though? I’m not a fan now of what I was a fan of before. But what was I a fan of before? Two things:
Chasing a girl I was way too stupid to realize I genuinely could never be with.
Being with a girl that, for the longest time, I was too stupid to realize I shouldn’t be with.
Was it that though?
Okay, so the first one kinda makes sense… Definitely. Fucking idiot. Should I have ruined the second? Did I try my hardest? My asking of the question is indicative of the answer. But yeah, I definitely was right about ruining it. Good call.
Fuck all that though.
To Whoever’s Next… Seriously.
There’s some shit you need to know. I’m fucked up. I overthink things. I don’t always give the whole story. I hold back sometimes and I give too much other times. I’m a fucking idiot. I think I’m way too smart for my own good. I claim to know a lot about people; but, I don’t know shit about romantic relationships.
The radiant sun rises slowly on a warm summer morning in August. The streets come alive as the workday begins. Amidst controlled chaos, a coffee shop opens it’s doors to the faithful masses. A wide spectrum of orders are made; from black coffee to obnoxiously made latte, the needs of the groggy morning patrons are met. In the window of the pastry section, an assortment of warm, freshly made muffins of various sizes call out to the various customers. These supple, decadent, mouth-watering, grown up cupcakes speak to an innocence often forgotten. As one bites into the top of a warm blueberry muffin, the resulting nirvana brings them for a moment into a world free of care, void of loss and pain, and empty of worry. For a brief second this muffin takes the customer of this small coffee shop past the banality of every day life into a magical world of pure simplicity. These muffins, as a result, are a gift; but, more than that, a respite from the far too exciting lives we live.
Written, upon request, to a girl on Tinder.
In an empty parking lot on a rainy Sunday night, I pen a return to form. I call out and claim a drive lost for but a moment. Inside my mind rages a torrential storm; the fierceness of which puts Florence to shame. As paper pushes back under the poor light of my dark car, the eye of the storm finds it’s way over the patch of the sea that is the now.
The seas calm.
Waves lap up against the side of a small sailboat.
I adjust course.
There is a precious silence in moments like these.
But more importantly, clarity.
I see above me the stars.
Lights that guide.
I fixate on my desired direction.
I adjust course.
The calm afternoon.
Birds chirp and the softest of breezes make the leaves dance on the trees. There are clouds in the sky. Just enough to be beautiful.
Inside, a storm. Through the doors of this suburban home, a tempest rages. It started with an offhand comment on the way home from church.
A laugh on a snowy mountain.
Then, an avalanche.
They scream and shout over the chirps of the birds and the rustling of dancing leaves. As one storms out of the door in frustration, the skies seem more gray than usual. Peace is as fictitious as the ghost stories told during those mid-fall nights.
I used to write about the unstoppable ship with no dock. Though it is torn up by the storm of this sea, it must always sail towards it’s destination. This state of nautical stubbornness persists, yes, but I think now upon the captain of the vessel. Now, more than ever, I must remain calm. The captain on this waterlogged vessel must remain as resolute as the tallest statues on dry land. His hands must remain steady, my eyes, unblinking. An unstoppable ship must have an unstoppable captain. this captain, like the greats before him must not only have a resolve of one thousand year old stone, but also a heart still warm enough to love the sea in front of him. To relish and bask in the danger and uncertainty of his journey ahead is invaluable and must never be lost. Further, patience must be kept to a certain degree.
Frustration equates to mistakes. At the captain’s level mistakes unwarranted must not be tolerated.
A calm mind.
A warm heart.
DIRECT OR DIE.
Eye of the storm.
In a perfect circle, the middle. Around it, a storm rages with a force born only from strength held solely by nature itself. Lightning splits the sky and winds tear through what is often looked at as unshakeable. Such is the mind during the work day.
But, in a perfect circle.
The respite. The reset. The refuel.
Ya know what I’m talkin’ about?
From the booth I sit at, I look out the window content in where I am. The nature of life is change yet as is the case with death, taxes and the outcome of lonely nights, internet connection, and a box of tissues, there are constants, always. Now, the leaves fall and the air is just slightly colder. The constant is this pencil and paper. The world around me will spin both forward and in retrograde regardless of my meddling.
Still, pencil meets paper.
In the universe, known and unknown, there exists a pale blue dot. On that pale blue dot is everything and everyone I’ve ever loved and hated and known or didn’t know. The weight of this pale blue dot is the sum of everything to every human being that has ever lived. All the love and all the hate and everything in between that has ever been felt has been felt on this pale blue dot. The memories of the innumerable; the lives and decisions of what can truly be called “countless” people have been experienced, lived, and made here. To think about these things is to think about the unthinkable. So insignificant is our lives in the grand scope of the universe. Everything that ever was, to everyone, ever sits on a rock suspended in a few beams of sunlight.
When I look at you and see that smile, it all seems so small.
That pale blue dot, in that brief moment of laughter, sits in my hand.
Everything that ever was, is, or will be in the universe could explode all at once, and still the brightest thing would be that smile.
The loudest and most beautiful thing would be that laugh.
Time welcomes another infinite thing: this moment.
Loneliness is having a phone full of contacts and no one to call.
And that’s okay.
It’s having family in abundance, both bound by blood and not, but not being able to be there when they want you there the most.
And that’s okay.
It’s having a heart full of love and not a person around to share it with.
And that’s okay.
And I’m okay.
Because for my whole life thus far, I strove to be better than “okay.”
And yet, it is.
It just… is.
I will be okay today.
Christmas Eve, 2018.
What can be said that hasn’t been said one hundred times over before?
”As we look forward towards new horizons— blah blah blah.”
There is really not much more to be told.
But there is.
I guess I’m writing this to myself, primarily.
A year seemed so long as a kid.
Three hundred sixty-five days even more so.
As I’ve grown older, however, that time seems shorter and shorter.
In turn, I’ve come to realize the importance and preciousness of each of those days.
”Groundbreaking stuff, Tim, really.”
It’s easier said than done.
To SAY each day is precious is pedantic. To strive to live one’s life using each day to it’s most precious potential is another, almost entirely impossible thing in itself. My goal, (Christ, talk about pedantic), is to use the next year to it’s most precious potential. Waste no days. In the past, this idea was meant to be a dedication to push myself to my breaking point. Now, however, I realize that to use every day to it’s fullest potential is to strive to grow myself in all aspects of life while I push myself harder every day.
She makes me want to drive slow.
It’s late on a Friday night. Restaurants have closed, traffic has died down, and the last remnants of that familiar hustle and bustle are relegated to the 24-hour diners, doughnut shops, and dive bars. We’ve just come out of a movie. A soft rain hits our heads because the idiot on her left forgot to bring an umbrella.
I make a joke about it and I try so desperately hard to not sound like a dork.
Best laid plans, I suppose.
”I love the rain,” she says.
I wonder if she knows how beautiful that smile is… She must know, right?
As we get into my car, we laugh about how I’ve forgotten to validate parking.
The thought crosses my mind: “I never forget things like that, weird.”
I suppose I was distracted; the happiest kind of distracted.
We drive, silently, for just a few seconds. I ask her to pick the music for two reasons: one, I don’t care what we listen to, her hand in mine is more than enough to keep me smiling on this drive. Two, much more importantly, I know what comes next.
She turns the volume up, and, through my shitty 1999 speakers, come voices and music that pale in comparison to the one coming from my passenger seat.
She knows every word to every song she plays, of course.
I struggle to stay focused on the road.
I wonder if she knows how beautiful that smile is… She must know, right?
Now, to say that I’m a man in a hurry would be a gross understatement. I’ve been told not to rush from the day I learned to walk, to now, and almost every meal, homework assignment, menial task, and yes, regrettably, job in between.
In the twenty-five minute drive from the movie theater to her house I find myself brainstorming ways to gather every clock on earth and set them to stop spinning just like the broken one she so stubbornly never takes off because it looks good (it does).
It’s in those moments I realize this:
Despite my ever present need to rush everything in my life, there’s a feeling I get when I’m with her that I’m not quite as familiar with. It’s a feeling of precious reverence for every passing second and it’s a small feeling of sadness over every mile that passes by because I know each one brings us closer to the end of our time together this night. But it’s not really a feeling I can quite put into words…
She makes me want to drive slow.
Write what hurts. Publish it to let it go.
But… sometimes writing doesn’t have to hurt.
T.C. (Tim) Barrera