Here's Where My Mind Goes

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What’s goin’ on in here?

Hello. I know. Over two months of not blogging and all you get is a “hello.” Let’s sit down and talk this over. Or why don’t you sit down, read this post, imagine me talking at you on the phone and then immediately hanging up without letting you get one word in. That sounds better, don’t it?

So, yes. Two months. Let me think of some of the things that happened in that time to me…

Not much.

I wrote some stories for the local papers that I proofread, so that was interesting. I got to interview members of an off-Broadway production of “Cats,” go back to my high school to cover the graduation ceremony, and I went to a press conference regarding the findings of a Grand Jury report concerning the prescription pill problem that’s prevalent here on Long Island.

That’s the kind of thing that I’d like to cover more of, if I could, or if that was my job. It’s wrong to say that I enjoy the subject matter, but it’s right to say that that kind of thing is important. I was emailed the Grand Jury report, all 99 pages of it, and it was pretty interesting. I had no idea 1) how accessible prescription pills are and 2) how much money can be made from their sale and how rapidly.

In the time that I’ve been disregarding this site, I’ve seen Moonrise Kingdom (go see it) with a friend home from LA and went to the beach a couple of times. The water was really warm each time and just rough enough for swimming. At first I burned but then I peeled like an iguana. I’m tan now. I’ve picked up a rather nasty sinus infection and listened to Fiona Apple’s newest album that came out. Anderson Cooper came out too. It’s not my favorite album of hers. I don’t think I have a particular favorite, more so just a selection of certain songs that make you tingle. This one is my favorite, though.

What’s most interesting, however, is that the two months that I’ve been gone, this blog has gotten the steadiest amount of hits ever. It’s all thanks to a post I made back in November about a 1998 news story of a 15-year-old boy who commit suicide in London.

To the best of my understanding, most of these hits are from Europe, where my post was reblogged, but since I don’t speak Czech, I have no idea what the writer was writing about. The comments are interesting if you go back to that post. One person left a serious post, one person said how I got the date wrong, and then another person correction the aforementioned.

Nevertheless, I hope that I haven’t caused some butterfly-effect wave of panic throughout the European off-the-beat-blog world.

Stemming off of that. I’ve been graduated for one year and almost two months. My writing on this blog falls behind because I’m a tiny bit understimulated. Being at home with your parents, with a part time job, looking for a full time one doesn’t really tickle the creative brain.

So if you have something that you think I should write about. Whether you want some commentary, some analysis, or if you want a fake story written, or a review, or you even just want me to write you a letter. Let me know.

-TGL

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I’m sorry to report that not too much has happened in the near-month since my last posting.

I’ve been catching on on “Fringe” and “Revenge.” I have a friend who tweets about it a lot, so I want to know what’s up.

I’ve been reading a couple of books by Italo Calvino. “Invisible Cities” was cool. “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” was OK. I loved “The Baron in the Trees” and I’m about to start “The Nonexistent Knight.”

My nephew’s birthday was this past weekend. He was napping for the first half of it, but did plenty of playing in a sailor’s suit for the second half. I got him some beach toys and a shirt that reads “muggle born.” He got many other presents, but was most occupied with the ribbon, tissue paper and some dirty paper towels.

Also, I posted a while back about how psychology/anxiety/sex/depression/etc were becoming more and more popular. Remember? Right here? Well, I was fucking right. The April 22, 2012 issue of the New York Times Magazine was a special health issue titled “All in Our Minds.” Features included, “The Quest to Make Ourselves Smarter,” “A Fit Body and a Better Brain,” “The Future of Antidepressants,” “Is the World Ready For Medical Hallucinogens?” and “Stiflers, Chaotics And the Anxious Life.” So any potential full-time employer who doesn’t think I can predict a trend: I fucking told you so.

Think I’m here to SPAMuse you?

My name is Tom Lotito. I am a white male who resembles Zachary Quinto. Only I’m shorter, with slightly thinner eyebrows, and I have blue eyes.

Not me. Courtesy of Google Images

According to my spam folder on gmail, I am a Black Jew, most likely under the “Jews for Jesus” denomination.

I wonder what it is that makes certain spam get sent to us. I have been targeted, many times, to sign up on BlackPeopleMeet.com, JDate.com, and ChristianMingle.com.

The only one of these that I can actually understand is JDate, since I have a prominent nose, and these sites all seem to feed off of stereotypes. But since I don’t have a photo floating anywhere on any kind of dating site, I don’t see how I should be hunted to sign up. I haven’t googled “looking for a nice Jewish girl.” But the internet is a funny creature and it probably went something like this: I finished reading “The Book Thief” and “The Kindly Ones,” and was googling those books. Because of their focus on WWII, I also looked up a decent amount of Jewish history and information on the religion in general. So the metaphorical spider who sits in the center of the World Wide Web must have put a very weak two and two together and sent that spam my way.

I may have been targeted for Christian Mingle because I caught up to the most recent episode of “Supernatural” not too long ago. This show is very mythology-involved. There’s a monster-of-the-week attitude, but the more recent seasons have taken an angel vs. human vs. devil (and now vs. Leviathans) approach. Angelic names get dropped and I get curious. So I turn to Wikipedia and Google Books to learn a bit more about what I’m watching. But I would never start a conversation with, “I can’t believe Loki was really Gabriel!” Plus, I wouldn’t trust the Internet to find “God’s match for me.” First of all, that’s very pretentious for the Internet to think that it knows what God wants. Second, who wants someone else’s match for them? I’d rather look for my match. If said God found the right match for me, he/she probably wouldn’t be all for it. They’d have to be fans of Massive Attack, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, A Perfect Circle, and AFI — and not only would this person need to think Marilyn Manson’s music is only entertaining, they would have to agree that he says some intelligent things. They would have to believe that the bad guys have more fun (and don’t you dare dispute that). Said God might also not like “my match” because they will most likely not believe in him. Sorry, dude!

Black People Meet is the one that throws me off. I’m kind of wondering if this might have been thrown in for a hat trick. It could have been all my research on Erykah Badu. It could have been looking up lyrics to various songs by Trina (if you ever want to impress your friends, rap some dirty songs), for my amusement. But this is a complete misfire. For some reason, commercials for this site are all over Adult Swim when I’m just trying to watch some “Robot Chicken” and “Children’s Hospital.” This site is exclusively for Black people. So while I’d be down to date a Sista’, I won’t be finding her here.

There’s lots of other spam that makes quite a statement. Apparently my credit score is bad, but a website can make that go away with the click of a button; I’m eligible for full scholarships for more undergraduate degrees; and some jumble of coding going by the name “Susan” thinks I’m “prty HoT” and wants to talk.

Sorry, Susan, but if you ain’t a Black Panther Zionist willing to work what Jesus gave ya, you ain’t the gal for me. Not according to the internet.

-TGL

Some light analysis on some heavy subjects

Anxiety, Depression, Pills and Sex

And how psychology in providing today’s American story

I think it’s pretty rare to open a magazine and find an article that doesn’t involve getting inside the mind of a person, or a population for that matter.

New York Magazine published a feature a few weeks ago about America’s “love story” with Xanax, and how it has a range of uses. From treating military dogs with PTSD, to calming down the mother who has separation anxiety from her first-born in kindergarten.

But the article detailed more than the extremes of the drug’s use. Anecdotes were given about people taking Xanax to ease up during flights, before taking a test, and a myriad of excuses that could be found. However the debate is whether people remain able to treat their anxiety without the help of a pill. The question of “what is in store for my future?” is one that is hovering over a lot of the country — especially among young people. A poetry professor of mine once remarked how she believed that there is a certain trend of worrying and anxiety in my generation, and that’s something that’s pretty hard to dispute.

NYMag mentioned how Xanax is perhaps filling an evolutionary gap in the human brain for dealing with the copious amounts of stimuli existing in this age of information. But it’s hard to gage just how much affect all these sources of information are having on youth. Taking to mind the bullying epidemic in schools, are there actually more cases of teen suicide from bullying, or are we just hearing more about a preexisting problem?

Rolling Stone published a story about a string of teen suicides at the Anoka-Hennepin School District. One student recalled that everyone was talking about death — 700 students were so affected that they were evaluated for mental health issues in the course of one school year. A psychologist interviewed for the story “declared the Anoka-Hennepin school district the site of a ‘suicide cluster,’ adding that the crisis might hold an element of contagion; suicidal thoughts had become catchy, like a lethal virus.” While the story focused on the politics of the issue, how the bureaucracy of the school district did not allow for teachers to encourage discussions regarding sexual orientation — or to even help out the students who were victims, I’m a bit surprised there was no explanation of the psychologist’s statements. The thought alone that thoughts could be deadly and infectious is, ironically, very frightening.

This kind of psychological detective work is where NYMag shines again. Over a year ago, there was an issue published detailing how Internet pornography is affecting social and psychological issues. All of those surplus stimuli mentioned a few paragraphs above are actually doing things to our brains. For men, that overabundance of pornography is killing the libido. Apparently there’s a certain chemical in the brain that is released after orgasm that encourages attachment. For the men (and possibly… probably some women) who watch pornography regularly, their emotional attachment is to the screen, and not to another person.

The sub-head for this post was how anxiety, pills, emotions and sex are becoming the ever-more popular American story. And I mean that. When I spend a few months abroad in France, meeting people my age from all over Europe, there was no talk of depression. There was no talk of worry or anxiety. Sex would be a topic of conversation, but not porn. I’m unapologetically sorry to say that people in Europe tend to have a much better hold on themselves in our time of abundant stimuli.

And if none of you noticed it, the popular television show is called “American Horror Story.” I haven’t watched the entire season yet, but I know there is plenty of sex, plenty of emotional torture, bullying, and a school shooting.

And since these things we are all perhaps unconsciously obsessed with are providing the stories for the magazines we read, I would not be shocked if more magazines might look for content more reminiscent of Psychology Today.

-TGL

“Idler Wheels” and “Whipping Cords” it is…

So that Fiona album that I posted about a while ago is coming out soon. Well, a little more than two months from now anyway.

A friend of mine tweeted me back in February, which is funny since I log onto Twitter perhaps once a month to say something nonsensical to my ~25 followers. She told me how tickets were on sale for Fiona’s newest tour, and two shows were going to be in Brooklyn. Both shows sold out in an estimated one minute (that’s my estimate).

I hope her album title is an indication of what we can expect from the music. “The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do.” Yup, 23 words long, shorter than her second album which was, in fact, an eight-line poem.  As creepy as the title is, it’s got some nice assonance to it, so it’s the kind of phrase that’s bound to get stuck in my head. Though, I wonder why only the nouns are capitalized, as far as capitalizing titles goes.

No single has actually been released, but people are catching some footage of her playing new songs while on tour:

That one ain’t as dark or heartbroken as the usual Fiona, but it sure sounds nice.

-TGL

It was sunny and now it’s not

It’s relaxing in an ironic way that it’s raining today, Sunday. I figure if the birds outside my window can chirp a tune while there’s wind and rain, why can’t I? I probably shouldn’t since it’s a song by Tool — oh well!

I have a few things that I look forward to sharing in later posts this week. For now I’ll give another comment regarding the weather and how the sun brought out this guy on my front lawn:

Image

This is my nephew, Simon Miles. Or just Simon, or if you know him personally, Si. He will be a year old on April 27. Here are some things to know about him: he hates getting out of the tub; sweet peas aren’t too great, cheerios are — so are banana and peach flavored puffs; he likes to walk, if you hold him up; he hasn’t figured out how to crawl yet, why crawl when someone can walk you?; he thinks it’s funny when you cough and he will subsequently try to cough back at you.

At less than a year old, he likes banging things together and shouting. Any type of paper, tape, or plant that can be torn apart, will be. We’ll call that “Simon’s law.” If this is any indication of what the terrible 2s will be like, I expect my sister will be dealing with overflowing bathtubs, VTech toys in the oven, and all sorts of childish torture inflicted to that poor old beagle in the house. We need to talk about Simon.

 

-TGL

I tell myself I have a lot to do, but I don’t

So, sort of a lot has kind of happened in since my last post, if I think about it.

I finished “The Kindly Ones.” I was happy to be done with it. The novel follows the same plot structure as “The Oresteia,” of Aeschylus. Toward the second half of the just-under 1,000 pages, I was pretty much just reading it to see how things played out. Yes, the character was interesting, but he really didn’t have a lot to do with the story. Not to mention that this book features historical detail to a very anal retentive level, which I suppose helps in terms of identifying with the bureaucracy of the time period it took place.

I enjoyed some of the literal pleasant surprises I found in the book. Whoever had took it out from the library before me must be a fan of imported cigars. I found three labels that read: “Free Cuba,” “The Original Brocatus, Hand Made Dominican Republic,” and “Cremosa Cubanos, Made by Hand Imported by Cubanos.”

I don't smoke cigars, so I can only assume this person had good taste — given they were smoking cigars. It also could have been some college sophomore in a fraternity...

I really would like to meet the either rich, indulgent person, or the incredibly fop-like person who was enjoying cigars while reading a fictional Nazi memoir on lease from the East Islip Public Library. It could make for some great book discussion.

This also took me longer to read since I was dogsitting for my brother. The following overly dramatic photos of this comedic-looking dog are of Buster, the Bassett Hound. I think he’s about two years old. When he was younger, he used to fart a lot and you would have to leave the room; thankfully that time in his life is over and he exists as a non-farty dog. He enjoys playing for very short periods of time, then immediately hopping onto a couch/bed to fall asleep. Most of the time, he needs to sleep at night with somebody in the bed. His “wake-you-up” technique to be let outside for his morning piss is to edge his whole body onto your pillow, next to your head, then slowly roll over onto your face until you get the point. A simple whimper would do.

He's actually wondering what this camera tastes/smells like.

The Albert Einstein painting in the background (done by my cousin) makes this look even more like a movie still from a film noir flick.

But dogsitting is done. Currently, I’m reading “The Iliad,” for the first time ever. I opted for the epic poem version because I like to read things as they were meant to be read. I’m enjoying it very much. I have a lot of ancient Greek literature that I’m going to be catching up on. I find that I know the stories, but never actually read them. To anyone who hasn’t read it, forget about the hype that Achilles (for not literophiles, Brad Pitt from “Troy”) always seems to get. There’s a whole ‘nother guy in here named Diomedes, who is way more badass. Book V of the poem is titled “Diomedes Fights the Gods,” which excites the Camus/Sisyphus fan in me.

This past weekend I was able to see some friends for another friend’s birthday, then spent the night at a friend’s house after seeing a cool show with a different group of friends.

The show was called “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” and it was performed by the neo-futurists. The premise is that the group performs 30 “plays” or sketches in 60 minutes, each play averaging two minutes in length. They initiate a timer that will go off if they exceed an hour. Some of the sketches were titled: “Making Heidegger Fun Again,” “Neo-variations on a scene from Cruel Intentions” and “Who’s Not Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” Each play is numbered and torn down after it’s performed. My favorite was “An Absolutely False Re-enactment of How Annie Sullivan Enticed Her Protégé Helen Keller First Lesbian Experience Starring Meg Bashwiner as Hellen Keller and Cara Francis as Annie Sullivan [their spelling, not mine].” I won’t give anything away, but I will tell you it took you longer to read that title than if you had seen the sketch. This was number 16 on their list, and I managed to get thrown the paper when they were done with it.

Now I can throw this paper out without having fear of forgetting it. If I didn't, I'd be a hoarder.

As you walk into the theater, you’re asked your name then given a name tag that doesn’t say your name at all. Mine was the following:

"Hello my name is: another-literary-reference-you-appreciate-but-don't-fully-understand-because-you've-never-read-it-and-you-feel-less-pretentious"

Fuck, now I need to catch up on some Kafka…

-TGL

New camera, new hobby and a new book

Sorry it’s been a while.

Let’s jump into this and start with the fact that I got myself a new digital camera. It’s pretty, and pretty spiffy. Here are two photos; one is to show the body of the camera in proportion to the lens, the other is to show the front of the lens.

Those photos are also in part there to show myself to the strangers reading this blog. Please don’t confuse me with Zachary Quinto. He’s over 30-years-old and successful, with brown eyes and (shockingly) thicker eyebrows. I’m 20-years-old and not successful.

So the camera is a sony Nex-C3, an interchangeable lens digital camera for people who are photo enthusiasts (which I shall try to became), but too idiotic to dive right into a DSLR. This camera takes pretty good photos in the standard setting that it comes with. Actually, it’s set in an “intelligent” setting, so it will automatically choose the best settings as you focus before taking a shot. They day that I got it I just took some trash photos to see how they came out, those are below.

The "busy" side of my room. Yes, that's a new plant. I only have to water it once a week.

That's my dog, Lily. She never barks and never leaves you alone if you're not petting her. Except for when she's relaxing on the couch, which she does from about 7:30 a.m. until noon.

The fact that it has an interchangeable lens is really cool to me. Whenever I take things apart (like napkins and soda bottles), usually they can’t be put back together. But now I can remove a lens and put a new one on. I already have my sights set on this (when I have the money) to take advantage of the zoom feature in conjunction with all the fun things I can do with this camera.

Speaking of picking up something new, I dropped something old. I apologize to anyone who is a fan of the series, but I could not get through “A Dance with Dragons,” George R. R. Martin’s fifth volume in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. While his characters can be addictive, it’s not very engaging. Or maybe it’s not the type of literature I like. I couldn’t finish the “Lord of the Rings” for the same reason, although I thought “The Hobbit,” was fantastic, as well as “The Silmarillion,” which I probably liked because it was pretty much the mythology of a made-up world.

The only character that truly piqued my interest in Martin’s books is Jaime Lannister, the elite knight who comes off as an asshole and admits that he does what he does “out of love.” I liked getting Jaime’s perspective in the books because you finally realized that he had some very high standard of honor, even though it’s kind of fucked up. However, in book five, Jaime gets only one chapter, so it’s not even like I could look forward to a ton of new things happening to him.

I have picked up a different 900-page tome since quitting Martin’s series. It’s called “The Kindly Ones,” by Jonathan Littell, and I can safely say that I have never been so disturbed and engrossed in a book. Littell wrote a novel from the perspective of a high-ranking Nazi officer named Maximilien Aue. I am only halfway through the novel, but it’s written in such a disconnected way, with Aue giving the reader the details he deems necessary of himself, along with way too much detail about the actions of the Nazis. It horrifies me that one person could let their imagination lead to a work like this, but then I remember that Littell isn’t making this stuff up. Also worth noting is that Littell is an American citizen, but wrote the novel in French, where it won all sorts of awards. It wasn’t as popular on this side of the Atlantic.

-TGL

Being Pretentious, Golden Girls, and Ancient Egypt

I’ve been doing some pretty non-in-depth research (wikipedia) on things like existential psychology and predeterminism. Both are really interesting and both, to most, are probably incredibly boring. I also enjoy one way more than the other. Existential psychology is, in a cracked, dirty nutshell, the idea of taking something that is, by its very nature, pointless, and applying it to your real-life-in-your-head problems. For instance, if there is something that is making you feel worried or anxious, you get over it, or do something about it. The way I see it is you convince yourself to take another perspective (“see,” “perspective,” oh dear).

Predeterminism, on the other hand, I don’t agree with. A friend working in his Phd. in Psychology at Hofstra told me about this around Christmastime. He said it’s the theory that every choice/action one makes/takes is influenced by every factor of their past; including their environment, relationships, diet, etc. Essentially, there is no psychological free will—at least that’s how I understand it.

So if someone were to ask me why, on any night of the week, I may be seen sitting in my living room with my parents, sipping a whiskey-ginger ale, watching late night episodes of “The Golden Girls” (and ask me why my dad was the one laughing the hardest), I would have to sit them down and start telling my life story (and consequently his).

(Very large endnote: I do find myself worrying about my current interests may have been predetermined after finding one of several stories I had written in elementary school. It involves a pharaoh, who is really the twin of the real pharaoh acting as an imposter. A guard catches him and the last line reads: “We are going to force you to drink your brother’s blood, and then we are going to bury you alive.” This is essentially “The Mummy” meets “The Man in the Iron Mask” meets “Apocalypto.” The fake pharaoh was also dragged through the streets by a horse, so there’s a fair amount of “The Iliad” here as well. Even more discomforting is the fact that the teacher wrote “What an exciting story!”)

Holy moley, it’s been a while

My room smells funky. Well, it did. Until I lit a small red candle, with my blue wall and a bright grey sky behind it, making it very hard to think of anything to write. So I’m going to write about some more funny things I notice about words.

First of all, words are very distracting. As a proofreader, I sometimes come across words that exist, but don’t necessarily need to be used. A few days ago I came across the word “disorientated” in an article. Sure enough, it exists, but I had always used “disoriented,” since that also exists, and sounds a lot better. I hopped onto the wordreference.com forums and looked to see if there was any discussion on the usage. I happily and distractedly read the entire three to four-page discussion. In the end, neither is really more correct than the other (I think), one is used more in British English, and the other in American English. Since journalism asks for simple language, I used “disoriented,” and haven’t heard any complaints yet.

While reading older articles, I came across this, from 1987:

Sex education should begin on the ground floor and belongs in the health curriculum alongside basic body hygiene. Teachers shouldn’t have to tip-toe through a syllabus, carefully screening vital information. They are, after all, vehicles for disseminating information, and that is all that sex education is.

The 80s were a dirty time, eh? Nonetheless, since it appeared in a small community newspaper, I can’t decide if the clever use of the word “disseminating” was intentional or not. I think it may be an accidental, sticky, crude little pun.

There’s also the importance of words. I was going through my old high school yearbook and came across my favorite passage. The word “you” is missing from one of the sentences, and it makes it read in a whole ‘nother way, making it an accidental “coming out” passage.

Mom & Dad: Wow I can’t believe I’m at the end already. I couldn’t have done it without you Mom & Dad. Thanks for helping me to get where I am today. I love guys very much.

Whoops. But you really can’t trust high-school proofreaders (or their advisors, I suppose). In another instance there’s a candid photo of students in their “Marine Sciene” class.

Because the word “disseminating” makes me feel dirty and violated, I’d like to share with you how I feel about going to the dermatologist.

I feel dirty and violated.

And I am always the youngest person at the office, by a solid 50 years or so. I am also in the minority that is not limited to a wheelchair, and without one of my elderly children escorting me.

I only started having yearly checkups in high school, because mother dearest noticed some funny looking moles on my back. As of three years ago, they have disappeared and there’s no more cause to prepare for alarm. Each visit since then, my dermatologist points out some new ones on my face, and then saying nothing about them. He also mumbles a lot.

So the attendant shows me into Room No. 1, and tells me that I can take off my shirt. I wait until he comes in the room. Eventually the shirt comes off and I’m left wearing only my jeans while the doctor just looks at my body like he’s judging me for a spot in GQ’s ugly little brother magazine, Average Joe (this does not exist). Then he tells me to pull the jeans down, and leave them around my feet. At this point I’m beginning to think that he’s way too demanding. He touches me with rough, dry fingers and the attendant is in the room. He mumbles something. “What’s that?” I asked. “I was talking to her,” he said. How the hell can she understand him? “Got a few here,” he said. A few fucking what? I’m hoping I can trust this man to at least annunciate if he needs to tell me that I have something malignant on my skin.

I also feel slightly uncomfortable with only a slim pair of boxer-briefs on as he tells me to turn around and lean forward, but I have to do what I’m told. Then, after having been felt-up for 15 minutes, I am told to just wear sunscreen, and give the receptionist the co-pay.

-TGL