We Live. Until We Don’t.

Yes. I’m writing about death.

This is going to be a slightly awkward post, because I am talking about death. With humor.

When I turned 17 almost 6 years ago, I got stuck with a birthday present for life that sucked (that’s actually a pun-y statement because the birthday present is slowly sucking the life out of me). I got a diagnosed with diabetes. I’ve never talked about my diabetes on such a public platform, but I figured if I was going to talk about death, context would probably be important.

The thing about getting diagnosed with a disease when you’re 17 is that you really don’t take it seriously. Or maybe you do, and it’s just me. You think you are invulnerable. You believe that you can beat anything. I really believe that having that mindset is helpful since it keeps your optimism up which helps you cope with the fact that you just got screwed by life. Unfortunately, we live in a world with people. And one of the things people do – intentionally or not – is remind you that you have a disease that could kill you. They remind you that they knew someone who passed away that had the disease you got diagnosed with. Happy thoughts.

Having spent the last 6 years being reminded on the regular about my imminent death, at some point, I was forced to face the reality of death. And so I did. And here we are.

The two things that every living creature have in common, regardless of when you think life begins, is that these living creatures live (thanks Captain Obvious). Then they die. There you go, I’ve finally helped you figure out what you have in common with butterflies (and spiders, you’re welcome).

Look, I’m not aiming to talk about death in a spiritual fashion. Maybe slightly philosophical. But mainly, the biology (I don’t know if that’s the right word) of death fascinated me. Think about it. Regardless of who you are, rich or poor, black or white, whether you prefer coffee or you’re wrong, at some point we are going to end up in the same place, death’s arms.

How can we understand something like that? I don’t know how to talk about death – physical death – because I’ve never experienced it. And those who have, don’t live to tell the tale. I could talk about anything I’ve experienced first-hand and describe it to you, because I’ve lived it. I can even talk to you about a spiritual death, because I’ve experienced that. I can tell you that cockroaches freak me out because I’ve seen those vile creatures. But death… I don’t know. People say they fear death, but how do you fear something you haven’t experienced (this is obviously pointed to those who haven’t had a literal life and death situation). I’ve used the term “scared to death” metaphorically, but I think a statement like that disrespects the permanence of death. If I was scared to death, I’d assume I’d permanently be scared.

Speaking of permanence (again, NOT speaking spiritual so don’t respond spiritual), what else is permanent in the world except death? Even life, which is the opposite of death is temporary. I mean, that is power. If death was a person, I have to imagine that it is the most powerful person. Because every creature kneels to it at some point.

I respect death (again, physical death, not spiritual. Whole different conversation). I don’t fear death. But that isn’t a statement of courage. It’s matter of fact. Why fear something that is inevitable. I’m in Starbucks right now and I’m surrounded by diverse group of people who are all going to die. This isn’t the pessimist or cynic in me talking. It’s, quite honestly, the realist. If death is going to come regardless of how life is lived, why not live a life of content – and when death comes knocking, invite him with open arms? Now here, I do have to consider spirituality. “Life of content” is different for different people. I may be suffering for my faith, but it’s still a content life. What your definition of content is, that’s up to you.

I enjoy cake. I love a happy slice of apple pie. Sometimes I indulge myself. As a diabetic, that’s not always (actually not ever), healthy. I’ve had people who truly care about me remind me that with my disease, and the way I’ve lived my lifestyle, I’m going to die at 40. My response, “Crap. I was going for 30.” Totally kidding. But seriously though, I get it. I do. I’m disease ridden and the way I live my life can lead to an untimely death. Truth be told, death is going to come anyway. So, who cares when? I’d rather have lived 40 happy years than 70 years of following a set of rules that’s simply boring.

The counterpoint to that mindset is that, what if you have a family who is dependent on you. Do you really want to leave your wife and child, a widow and fatherless? Honestly, I hate that argument. I truly despise it. Why? Because I don’t see myself having a wife and kids. Am I saying that won’t happen? No, I’m not. I can’t tell the future. But consider the person who is telling you he’d rather die happy at 40 than bored at 70. It’s a single, male, who other humans are not depending on (in a familial manner). The context that I see myself now is the same context I see myself when I’m 40 and when I’m 70. Single, with no dependents. This tune of my song could change tomorrow, if the context of my life changes. I don’t know if it will, and frankly, I don’t care. That’s an ocean to cross then.

Today, I’m 22 and no longer a fool of a teenager. I’m still diabetic and I’m taking it more seriously than I did back then. Why? Because, I’m smarter than I was back then and even if I only live to 40 I don’t want that time to be painful. But death, still will come. And I’d rather go with him knowing I didn’t let a disease dictate my life. Instead, I enjoyed life to its fullest. And for those who still are alive, I’ll ask death if he could do y’all a solid and also take decaf coffee away.

– αß

Write What?

One of the most frustrating things as a (wannabe) writer is not knowing what to write about. The unfortunate thing is that there is a ton to write about. Look around you. With the insanity of the racial tensions in this country, with the circus that has been created of our political system, and with the continual existence of decaffeinated coffee – there is a lot of things to write about.

The problem for someone like me is that I’m not well read enough in most of these things to warrant having an actual post about them (well, the decaf coffee problem is something I have words for but not right now).

Sure, the solution is fairly simple if you consider it. I can spend some time looking at whatever issue is plaguing the country, think about it, write about it and in doing so resolve every problem that exists and then be hailed as the champion of the people (step aside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).

The problem isn’t necessarily that there isn’t anything to write about. Rather its wanting to write about everything that is going on. The hard part is categorizing what to share my opinion on right now. Is the issue of racial tension more important than the political disaster that is our election season? I don’t know. Being a man of color, I have my thoughts that I want to share. But at the same time, this year I became a citizen and that means I get to vote. Which means I want to talk about politics (though I really hate politics. But with this election season being more of a circus I can enjoy writing about it).

These two examples are only the ones that majority people are talking about right now. There are many other things that I think I want to write about.

Being a Christian is one of the most important things in my life. However, there are issues within churches that I see on the regular that I need to write about (though this is more for me venting, rather than expecting change). Sure, there are also great things that happen within the church that is worth writing about. But the cynic in me prefers talking about the negativity. That’s a me problem.

One of the topics I know I want to write about is relationships. I cannot express to you how much I want to write about relationships. Unfortunately, (#spoilers), what I write on relationships is, as far as I can tell, going to be cynical and mean. The problem with that is, (and I really wish this didn’t worry me) most of the people who I do know are in relationships and they may not take lightly to me mocking their current life status. However, once I get over that worry, writing about it is going to be fun.

From what I’ve seen other writers do, they write about the events going on in their lives. While that is a legitimate idea, my life really isn’t too eventful. You’d have more of an exciting time reading War and Peace rather than reading about my everyday life. That’s not to say that things don’t happen to and around me that’s worth sharing. Occasionally, I have a squirrel talk to me or someone serve me decaf coffee and I make them cry – those events are worth sharing and I will. But on a regular basis, my life isn’t that eventful. At least for now.

Regardless of the struggle of finding something to write about, I do want to keep up the habit of continually writing. There are a few reasons for this. One: I want to be a better writer. That’s a given. Being the academic that I am, I have to write a lot. But academic writing is usually boring. Instead, writing for fun and hopefully growing as a writer might help me in other times where writing is mandatory. Two: I want to learn how this website works. I’m working on a website for an organization and I’d rather not have their website be where I make mistakes as I learn. Keeping up this website can help me learn the ins and outs of WordPress and then what is learned can be applied to the other. Three: Hopefully, as I continue to write on current events, I can become a better comic and a social commentator. One of the things I’m thankful that we are blessed with in this world is humor. What I want to do is use humor intelligently. I’m not clever enough to be witty about current events on the fly. I need to think about it and writing helps. This is probably the only time I might want whoever reads this blog to think. Most of my posts are going to be simply humorous for the sake of humor. If it makes you smile or laugh – it’s done its job. But there may be a few posts here and there that’s my take (cynical as it may be) on what is currently happening in the world. While these are going to be written from a comic’s point of view – I do hope they can get the reader thinking.

Essentially, this blog is going to be like my Facebook statuses. But longer. If I can actually decide what the hell to write about.

– αß

Let the Zombies Help

Ever wanted to let loose? Like really let loose. Go crazy – do something you normally wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do. You’ve never been able to because of pesky things like laws and social normativity. I’ll be honest, there are so many times (even in a single day) where I just want to tell the world to shove it and start walking around this planet like John Travolta from “With Paris With Love.” But, I can’t. Or I won’t. I haven’t decided yet.

It’s difficult not to feel that way when we look around this forsaken planet. With people dying for no good reason, rapists not given their due, idiots not using their turn signals when driving, PDA, #alllivesmatter and decaf coffee – everywhere you turn there is something there to infuriate you. And there isn’t anything we can do about it, because most of us (I assume) are civil individuals.

I can’t speak for you, but sometimes when this world does nothing but serve me a steaming pile of manure and expects me to just eat it – all I want to do is flip the table and curb stomp the chef who served me that plate. Again, I can’t. Because I was raised to be civil. I was raised to accept that serving politely and eat it. If I don’t like it, don’t eat it. The problem with that is, if I don’t take it, it just keeps piling up and up and eventually its going to fall on me and I’ll get some in my mouth anyway. It’s a load of crap (pun intended).

Sure, you can argue that there is a pushback against these evils of the world. For every unjust killing there are some those who respond with  peaceful protests. For every cup of decaf coffee, there is actual coffee. For every rapist… oh wait, there nothing countering that because our judicial system is screwed up and hates the victims. My point is this, though. There are some civil ways to respond to the crap this world throws at us. Which is fine. Good for you. But for me, sometimes that’s not enough. There’s anger at all this worlds’ garbage and I can’t take it out on anyone, because that would be illegal.

That’s where I think Zombies could help out.

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I don’t know about you, but on occasion I like to take my anger out in a very aggressive manner. Whether it’s punching a wall or playing Grand Theft Auto or mocking the dude in front of me at the coffee shop for ordering decaf, my methods of taking anger out in the current state of our society can be looked down upon due to the hostile implications of those actions.

However, think about a world where zombies are out and about. Everyone knows the only way to deal with a zombie is by killing it (regardless of how redundant that may sound). Zombies roaming around does pose a threat to our way of life. The Walking Dead is proof of that. But if Zombies are now a part of this world, we benefit in a number of ways.

First off, once the dead start rising – social norms are out the window. You don’t have to be civil. No more facades. If you hear of a social injustice in a zombie-infested world and you want to take your anger out on something – step outside with an axe and let loose.

If the individual who committed the injustice is a physically within your reach: well, lets hope for their sake your little community is more like Rick Grimes’ group than Negans’.

If someone in your own group frustrates you by eating the last canned peaches, look at point one. Step outside with an axe and let loose.

Zombies would provide for anger management at little to no costs. Except, of course, the downfall of modern society as we know it. But its a sacrifice I could make if it provides me a way to deal with stupid decaf coffee.

(I swear, I’ll lose my mind if zombie advocates becomes a thing.)

– αß

Insanity Survives.

And cynicism helps.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Not the type of writer you’re thinking of. Not the writer who actually writes for a living. That would suck, because with the kind of luck I’m accustomed to – if I decided to be a writer for a living I’d get a lifelong case of writers block.

No.

I’ve wanted to be a writer who writes like he talks, just without the accent.

Maybe some context will help.

To be honest, I prefer talking above all else. I majored in Communication in college for proof. I love hearing the sound of my voice (except in recording, then I hate it). Unfortunately, being the proud Indian American that I am, occasionally talking has its problems (well, I’d say benefits but other people make them problems). If you’re paying any attention, you would have guessed that the problem is my accent. I think the accent provides a certain flair to my voice that many don’t have. It’s not strong enough to be awkward, but subtle enough to sound cultured (like milk).

However, like always, people exist. And they ruin everything. Anything that I want to say loses people’s attention when my accent occasionally pops up. It’s like Doug spotting a squirrel. Don’t get me wrong, it is funny. But when folks sacrifice my whole desire to communicate because of their inability to maintain composure when I involuntarily sound Indian, it ruins my desire to speak.

This is where my writing comes in. I admit that while I’ve wanted to write for years now, I’ve been too lazy to actually initiate the process. But recently, I’ve been better. I’ve always thought that when I write it needs to have a cause, do something for the world, etc. etc. Recently, I’ve realized writing doesn’t have to be done only if it changes the world.

I’ve always loved humor. I’ve relied on it for many a things. So, I figured, in order to write and enjoy writing, I can convey my brand of humor into the process. Which is where the title of this post and the blog comes into play.

My brand of humor involves insanity and cynicism.

The word insanity here isn’t meant the way we use it informally. I’m using it to show that my brand of humor could sound that there is something mentally wrong with me. It’s not going to sit well with all, but hey, this is where I wave my First Amendment right. And screw you if you don’t find me funny. I’m bloody hilarious.

And cynicism helps.

– αß

Perspectives.

The whole concept of “perspective” is really amazing, if you really think about it. Perspective or any of its synonyms you like to use, “point of view,” “outlook,” or whatever – is one of the things that makes us human. It is one of those things that separate us from other species. Think about it.

Really, think about it.

How you look at something now can be completely different than when you look at it 7 years down the road. How you look at something now might be different than how you looked at it 7 years ago. It really isn’t that difficult to appreciate having that ability. That’s what perspective is – it’s an ability that some people have that others lack. Or if you want to look at it another way, everyone has the capacity to look at the world in different points of view. Some people just choose not to (aka ignoramuses) or are so backward that they are unable to. Then there are some who might not do so because a perspective shift implies change and change is a terrifying thing. On the flip side there are those who see every single point of view and end up becoming more flaky than… flaky things. These folks see things in so many different points of view that they don’t have the strength of mind to believe in something and stand by it. Weaklings.

Anyway, point is – perspective is an amazing thing. Here’s an example: A lion sees a gazelle and it thinks, “FOOD!” The lion then chases the gazelle, pounces on the gazelle, kills the gazelle, and eats the gazelle. That is how a lion views a gazelle. Fast forward 20 years and unless humans have done something to screw up the natural order of things, when a lions sees a gazelle, it’ll still think, “FOOD!” The lion then chases the gazelle, pounces on the gazelle, kills the gazelle, and eats the gazelle. Perspective doesn’t change for animals. It isn’t the same for humans. This is fascinating, right – check it out: When we used to see gazelles we’d think, “Aww, a gazelle. I wonder when your gonna be lion dinner?” But now, in 2016 P.Z. (Post-Zootopia) we look at gazelles and think, “SHAKIRA!”

Perspective.

Here’s another example that might be more relevant (since I assume most of us don’t live among lions and shakiras). Pregnancy. Let’s look at your friend Mary. You guys are in high school. One day she tells you that she’s pregnant, because her boyfriend Mark knocked her up. You support her on the outside, but in your mind you think, “Mary, you’re screwed. Mark’s probably going to leave you and you’re going to wind up alone and miserable.” That’s how we perceive pregnancy in high school. Now in a few years, you are a 20-something year old, all your friends are getting married and you’re still trying to figure out what you want for dinner – frozen pizza or a bullet. You get a phone call and your friend Joan and her husband James are pregnant. You congratulate them, but in your mind you think, “*insert your name,* you’re screwed. Joan and James are probably going to live a happy life along with everyone else I know and I’m going to wind up alone and miserable.”

Perspective.

– αß

July Twelfth, Two Thousand and Six

In every life, there are moments we experience that define the rest of our lives. For me, that moment happened a decade ago, today.

On July 12th, 2006, a *wild* 13 year old Abi (current event appropriate reference ftw) walked out onto American soil, wide eyed and bushy tailed as his dream literally became a reality. It’s a kind of experience one cannot really describe in words. So, I’m not going to bother. However, the past decade has been one of growth and more memorable moments that I can count. Hopefully this post can reflect the joy that my heart holds after a decade in this beautiful (and sometimes frustrating) country.

In the last 10 years I’ve:

  1. Aged a decade (I’ve got the worry lines to prove it)
  2. Spent way more time than humanely necessary explaining to people how to pronounce my first name (It’s literally A.B. – like the first two letters of the alphabet. I mean this in the nicest possible way, but you have to have failed as a CHILD if you cannot pronounce my name)
  3. Spent just the same amount explaining to those same people mentioned above that I AM FROM INDIA, ergo an Indian, AND ONLY LIVED IN SAUDI ARABIA, ergo not an Arabian (#spoileralert: see No. 16)
    • P.S. It’s not that I would’ve minded being an Arabian. I truly wish I was. It’s just that it is not accurate.
  4. Learned to talk to girls (Sort of, I’m still working on that)
  5. Started and finished in the same High School (Go Eagles!)
  6. Got my undergraduate degree in Communication at the University of Louisville (I would say “Go Cards!” but with the politics surrounding the University these days I’m not feeling too proud)
  7. Began my journey to get a Masters in Communication (still don’t know why)
  8. I fell in love
  9. I’ve had my heart broken (Thanks M)
  10. I’ve had my heart put back together (Thanks, literally everyone in Louisville)
  11. Speaking of Louisville, I hated and then fell in love with the city.
  12. I’ve become addicted to Coffee (Seriously, look at the back of my car)
  13. Speaking of cars, I’ve wrecked two (NOT MY FAULT SO KEEP YOUR JUDGEMENTS TO YOURSELVES JERKS)
  14. I’ve received more speeding tickets than I care to admit (okay, these were on me)
  15. I started consuming alcohol (this is noteworthy, because alcohol was banned in Saudi Arabia AND I actually waited till I was 21, you law breakers)
  16. I became an American! (I’m now an Indian-American, not an American-Indian. Don’t get confused. Blame Columbus.)
  17. Most importantly, I’ve become a Christian. That’s all God’s doing.
  18. Which led to becoming a part of a community so amazing, I can’t imagine how I survived without them (Shout out to Sojourn Community Church, Sojourn College, and Sojourn Community Groups. Their love for flannel and skinny jeans come second only to their love for Jesus)

That’s just a snapshot of the past decade.

Here is the most amazing part though. All of those moments happened because my family decided to make the leap across the pond. My parents made the decision to come over here. My mother, a supermom if there ever was one, had to deal with my big brother and myself for the first seven years in this country before our father joined us in this country. They’ve sacrificed so much, labored so hard, and done more for us than we can ever repay them for just so that their sons can live their dreams. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve not been the best kid to put up with (anyone who knows me will vouch for that). But they’ve still put up with me. My old folks loved me in a way only they can. Far from perfect, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

There is no way you can understand this experience unless you’ve lived it yourselves. And for everyone out there that do not realize the fortune you have by virtue of living in this country from birth, well, you really should cherish it. Eleven years ago, all “Coming to America” meant to me was an Eddie Murphy movie. Today, it is means a moment that defined the rest of my life (unfortunately, I’m no royalty).

If this next decade is anything like this past one, I look forward to it with arms wide open (minus the heart break)

*cue Creed*

– αß