Chapter Zero (Cause Fuck the Rules)

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Alan Watts

What is it that drives us down the cosmic highway? How does one find their way through the fucking labyrinth? It’s rather futile to attempt to answer such questions.  After all, thousands of men and women throughout our sad history have tried and failed. They are meaningless not because there is no answer for such conundrums. The futility of attempting to answer these philosophical mysteries lies in refusing what is right in front of our shit eating faces. We refuse the present moment; we map our point in time and space by tracing the events of the pasts and linking them to our dreams of the future. This is not living.  

Whether you are slaving towards your goal of becoming “someone”, or ramming your head against a wall in an effort to get in the pants of that pumpkin spice latte drinking basic bitch.  Understand one thing, you are not living! It isn’t until we’ve shed our bullshit avatar, that we are free to become the shit kicking badass we all secretly think we are.  I found this out through a series of momentary lapses in judgment. Who gives a shit, right? What does an unsuccessful, suburban hippie bum like me know about it? I tell you what, you really want to know the story of this generation’s lost ones?  Buy me a beer first you asshole!

The Fourth

Spec and I live with my mother.  We both work a shit job at a local entertainment retailer that pays their employees dick.  I’m a low level manager who runs the show at this pit of despair, and Spec is one of my underlings.  We are also fucking.  We’ve been dating for a few months now, and she’s gradually moved in.  Attached at the hip now, we do everything together.  Everything consists of go to work hung-over feeling like a can of smashed assholes.  Busting ass for a shit living, and blowing it all every night at the local bar.  It’s a viciously delicious cycle.  We are the new sweethearts of the bar; both of us rock the karaoke mic every Wednesday night. I’m good but she’s better and she has my full attention when she’s on that stage, along with everyone else in the bar.  

Today we are not at the bar; today we are sitting in the unattached garage of the condo my parent’s bought ten years ago.  It’s the fourth of July, and we aim to drink the day away.  Sven Uber Thor or Ub (oob) as we call him is in attendance.  He and I have been friends for 15 years.  The three of us are practically inseparable, “We’re the three best friends that anyone could have!”  That was our mantra.  Pounding two to three home wreckers of wine a night was easy for us back then.  Sounds boring, right? No, we were right at home, the symbol of America’s lost generation.  In the spare room of a broken family’s underwater mortgaged condo, three twenty something’s drowning in debt and booze. It was the time of our fucking lives.  It’s a goddamn iconic American photograph, three twenty-something friends with shit jobs, barbecuing, drinking, and smoking.

It’s nothing but the next day riding the wrecking ball for us.  I can hear Spec and Ub complaining about a co-worker or manager, “Ugh, and then Bill comes up to me and asks me how many tubs I’ve prepped,” says Spec.  Ub cranes his head back laughing in his usual display of delight at someone being a moron.  “Did he really fucking ask that?” I ask surprised, although I am more irritated.  “Oh fucking well babe, I don’t give a shit anyways! Stupid fucking Bill,” Spec says.  This is classic Spec, and it’s why I love her.  The most defiant little rebel with a zest for life that makes everyone else fall off into the background as if they weren’t even there.   It’s like she wakes up everyday and says I’m going to fuck life into submission.   

I hear her phone start to ring as Ub hands me the hookah hose for a hit.  “Oh, its Mega!” She answers the phone, “Hey! Where are you? Are you coming? Ok good. You better not fucking flake on me? You know you do bitch! Come on I want to see you!”  There is a pause.  “YAY! Ok see you soon!” Spec elates.  Ub and I look at each other and laugh.  “What?!” Spec cries.  “Oh I don’t know, maybe it was the overly valley girl phone convo we just experienced,” I say sardonically.  “Like, O.M.G. betch, like where are you,” Ub mocks.  “Whatever, I so did not!” Spec retorts.  We all laughed and continued on.  

You have to understand that this was a first for Ub and I.  Spec isn’t that type of woman.  We met her and she was a lesbian.  We didn’t give a shit, at that point in time all we wanted was the soft touch of a woman’s presence to help calm the beasts inside.  It was only a couple of months of hanging out that things developed between Spec and I.  Today I was meeting her “best friend”.  What was going through my head? I’ll tell you.  Isn’t meeting the best friend of a significant other the best? Right? I’ve always found it to be an awkward, overly judgmental process that ends up with you second-guessing the person you are dating.  Naturally I was afraid of this encounter as being another of the aforementioned shit shows.  Yea, it was going to be another one of those, and then she arrived.

The Crew

You’re right, first it seems we would need some backstory right? A bit of character development right? Well let’s get into it! We were your extra regular group of suburbanites. We had men, women, some older some younger. We had hippies, bohemians, foreigners, nerds, hipsters, every type you could come up, you name it we had it. We were the salt of the earth.  Every group represented in some way, coming together in a beautiful mess. It was that kind of time.  Not Woodstock or the Grunge movement of Seattle that everyone longs to be a part of.  We were something different.  A grouping of the misfits trying to find our way.  

Mav, that’s me. Otherwise known as Mavis, Mavi, Iron Mav, the Great Great Grandmother Mav MavGreagor. When this story starts I was twenty-five.  I was a young man with a broken heart, mourning the loss of my brainchild to my own complacency.  I had moved back home from my college town to find myself and help my mother pay the bills back at home.  A broken young man with no fucks left to give.  The world had failed me it had seemed to me.  I became the type of guy who doesn’t give a fuck.  I speak my mind, give harsh advice, and love harder and faster than the usual primate.  Some say I’m confident, I disagree, I am just comfortable in my own skin because I realize that it’s the only skin I have.  Entering into this three-year period all I had was the clothes on my back, my hair, my moustache, and my wit.  Little did I know the events of the next few years would shape me into who I am today?

Then there is Spec, Spectra, Spectacular, Spectacular-Spectacular, Speckles, Shreckles. What more can I say about Spec? Other than the fact that she’s like staring into the sun, there is not much else to say. You can’t help but look, but the radiance that she puts off can heal you or blind you.  The woman had a set of pipes that would make many who think they have a shot at American Idol or the Voice say, “Well why even try?”  Her vocal talent is only surpassed by the way she tackles life.  It never mattered what pinch we were in, what problem we had, she could find a way to make it fun for everyone.  When I met Spec she was just a two-day a week retail employee, living with her friends in a two bedroom apartment with five adults and a toddler.  Oh, did I mention the three cats? Needless to say we found each other at one of our lowest points.  She was to be my most trusted friend, a lover who is hard to compare, and a lifelong companion to me.  Not only would we date, live, together, get engaged, but we would find ourselves in the process.  If I had not met Spec, the man whose words paint this page would not have appeared in this lifetime.

Ub! Sven Uber Thor, The Master of the Shool Bus. The most svelt motherfucker you’ve ever met.  Dressed to the fucking nines! Yea sure he has a mean sense of style.  It was more than that though.  He had a way of life, as if shit didn’t affect him.  Of course, I knew different.  Spending the last fifteen years of my life with him as my best friend through thick and thin, I knew that there was a man who struggled more often than he’d ever let anyone know.  Inside this man was the soul of what I like to call, a creative badass.  Didn’t matter the project, the art form, Ub had a fucking way of creating something that made people jealous.  Me most of all!

Who could forget the grandmaster of our order? Sir Edwick McKinnley, S.E., S.E. Maximus, President McKinnley.  He was our sage.  The teacher, that to chose to share his experience, knowledge, and passion.  He brought us into a world of wonder, rebellion, freedom, and lust for life.  His love of “tunes” new and old began to transform the way we all thought of “hanging out” or partying.  We all had a love for the classics, but McKinnley had a way of unwrapping the meaning of the music so that you saw through the thin veil and into the mysticism of the great world beyond.  He was our mystic guide throughout the process, and the greatest friend to each and everyone of us.  It was at his house, The Murph where it all began.

Not many groups have an cybernetic being from another planet in their group, but we were far from normal.  Megatron, Mega, Mahoogan, Meyayagan, Mahoogatron, you get the gist.  Mega was Spec’s best friend, and not even five minutes after we met, mine as well.  It was as though someone had taken a part of my inner most thoughts, hopes, and dreams and poured them into another person.  A true twin-flame, the kind of relationship that you only come across once every fifty lifetimes.  For those of you who don’t know what a twin flame is, let me enlighten you.  You’ve heard of the term soul mate haven’t you? Of course you have, everyone says it to the one they are trying to bone that night.  I’m not talking about that phony shit.  This is the real McCoy.  A Twin Flame, is far more than a soul mate, it is your other half.  It is that person that you meet and everything just clicks from day one.  Everyone has many soul mates, guides that are sent here to help you learn what it is you need to learn in this life.  Your twin flame is an extension of you, and so the two halves are always longing for a return.  Mega is mine.  Who else can you find yourself wasting an entire day with, doing only the most ridiculous of activities, like running background checks on your friends.  From the moment I first laid eyes on Mega, I knew that there was something beyond the hallmark card bullshit special everyone claims when they meet a lover. It was everything the stories are written for, every Tristan and Isolde, every Romeo and Juliet, they are simply shades of the connection I am talking about.  A bullshit shadow of what we are.  Together anything was possible. This story in fact is as much hers as it is mine, because without Mega, I am half as good as I can be.

Not only did we have a transformer, we had a BEAR! Bear Bear in fact, a short, small little package of energy, love, and bear hugs.  She was our Bear, and you could always count on a rib shattering hug and an ear-piercing squeal of excitement.  Bear a sweetheart through and through.  One of those people you meet and instantly are intoxicated by her infectious happiness.  We met Bear through the adventures of suburban bar karaoke.  Bear was also one of the best confidants within the group.  Whenever you needed a nonjudgmental ear, Bear was your best bet. A heart of gold, a sensitive angel.  Beyond all of those sweet things, she was also an incredibly sensual, sexual creature.  

We were a ragtag group with quite a few guest stars here and there.  Within this group existed a set of bonds that could not be shattered that would face a series of squalls that would break others.  We were the real deal.  The exemplification of the seedy underside of the suburban world that looks so clean and tidy on its cowardly façade.

The Bar – Joni’s Denizen of Cretans

All cliques have a hangout. This group had one for the ages.  Joni’s Place was ours. I started going to the local watering hole across the street from my mother’s condo when I returned home in the spring of 2011.  It seemed like the usual neighborhood suburban bar on the outside.  On the inside, it was everything but.  It was a military bar, built to serve our nation’s heroes for their service.  The owner Joni was a spitfire, as likely to hug you as 86 your drunk ass from the bar.  It was a mixture of old geezers, wanna be cowboys, ex-military, hippies, and the usual twenty-somethings still nesting in their parents basement.  There were boozers, dopers, stoners, and poppers.  You name it, if you wanted a drug, you could get it in that bar from some one or another and often it would be too readily available. If it was anything it was a coke bar.  If you ever needed any of the white lady, she was ever present!  The bathroom might as well have had mirrors in the stalls for you to cut the shit into lines.  Fights, the occasional arrest, even gunfire in the parking lot. What else would you expect from a denizen of felonious Cretans.

Why did we go there? Why does anyone become a regular of a local bar? The drinks are cheap, the patrons are tolerable (most of the time), and it’s close to home.  Joni’s place had all of that.  We started attending for the karaoke nights on Wednesday.  Ladies night, dollar drinks, drunk fuck no talent ass-clowns on stage, what wasn’t to like.  Ever seen Cheers? Yea, it was like that only … not. Sure everyone knew your name, but the clientele were less than family friendly.  No it wasn’t NBC, it was a regular HBO special.  It was at Joni’s were I met his grace, the sage, the grandmaster of our order, McKinnley.  He walked through the place as if he owned it.  Everyone was his friend, and he exuded a level of confidence that would make Kenny Powers look like a shaking Chihuahua drenched in fear.  

The first time I had the pleasure of conversing with S.E. was around the fire pit on the bar’s patio.  It was where smokers would spend most of their night.  It didn’t matter rain, sleet, or snow, there would always be a large group.  Our group regularly took over the pit, not just occupying its space, but by viciously taking over the conversation as well.  We were like the Mongols.  Oh sure you have a conversation going about X, Y, or Z well what about this?! Oh nice joke, let me steal your thunder, cause you’re not funny pay attention to us. Cause fuck you that’s why! This was our attitude and we owned the place.  It was exactly like that when I came across S.E.  Ub and I were drinking, it was a Friday night during late august.  There was an awful tribute rock band playing the hits sacrilegiously. This was often the case and it would drive even some of the  non-smokers to the fire pit.  It was guys night and at Joni’s that meant dollar well and domestics from nine to midnight.  

The Pre-Mav Years

Here I go getting ahead of myself again. Fuck! It won’t be significant if the reader doesn’t know who you were before it all happened ass-hat.  Here we go! I was raised just like most goodie two shoes in the U.S. are, in a fog of denial and mythology.  Our family attended church; my sister and I went to private Baptist school even though my parents could barely afford rent.  Dad was a minimum wage 40 hour a week slave, and Mom was a stay at home mother.  I grew up in a small town in Arkansas called Hot Springs.  In this sheltered life I lived until the age of twelve.  What I mean by sheltered is not what you’d traditionally think of. My parents just like any other sheltered me.  No one wants their children to see the dark side of the world.  Beyond that sheltering I had the influence of the church as well as the American South’s mythology of the American Dream and all of the judgments that come with it.  The usual stuff, pre-marital sex is the devil, drugs are evil, drinking alcohol is for losers, being poor is your fault.  All judgments most parents in this country enforce right?  Well for me, it certainly kept me on the straight and narrow.  I was an A+ student, always on the Honor Roll, and never in trouble. I was the golden child.  It wouldn’t be until years later that I would realize that this sheltered life would actually be the instrument of my freedom.  Don’t get me wrong, I may make fun of some of these social constructs, sometimes viciously, but that does not mean I do not value my childhood or what my parents did to help shape me into the man I am today.  If anything this bedrock of belief in myself, confidence in my abilities, and faith in friends and family are what got me through all the mud and the muck.

So by the time I got to college what was I? I was still not drinking like my peers.  I believed the act to be immature and dangerous.  Even now I laugh at this behavior.  I can remember disapprovingly chiding my girlfriend at the time about her behavior and stating that she should not be hanging out with such hooligans.  Blah blah blah blah, shut the fuck up kid you don’t know jack.  If I had a time machine I’d go back in time, sit down with my younger self over a cup of church coffee and smack the living shit out of him with words of wisdom.  Who am I kidding I’d deck myself right in the fucking mouth.  The thing was I didn’t understand that life was more than, your schoolwork, your goals towards a career, or a family.  My mind was one track, do what you were born to do.  Be successful.  I had no idea that success could be defined as something other than monetary or that which is given by the social elite.  It is what I grew up trying to escape.  My parents gave everything they had to make sure that I would not fall into the same trappings that they had.  My dad a witty, funny, and extremely dorky but loving man, always regretted that he hadn’t done anything else in his life.  I call it napoleon syndrome, not in the way that most think, he was mad at the world because he didn’t have an empire and he felt slighted for it.  What he never realized even up until he lost his family to infidelity, was that his empire was sitting right there in front of him in the smiling faces of his children and his loving wife.  To this day that still hurts to see the man I once looked up to as if he were atop Mount Olympus, as if he were smaller and weaker than me.  My mother, well she was the best any child could ask for.  I know everyone says that, but fuck you mine’s better. If there was ever a woman with a heart solely for her children, it was my mother.  She gave my sister and I every single ounce of energy, every single ounce of attention we required, and she taught me how to love.  The most valuable thing anyone on this planet has ever taught me.  I think to myself often in the corners of my mind that no one sees, that if it weren’t for my mother’s love I would be a horribly misguided sociopath.  It is my counter balance in life, all of my other strengths require a strong heart and a never-ending well of love to counterbalance the competitive, overly confident asshole dick machine that I am.  

Needless to say, going to College changed a lot about my perceptions of reality, morality, and the human experience.  Coming from a closed off world, where God was master of all things, you were master of your destiny, and morality is black and white, I was walking into a minefield of fuck you you’re wrong.  Curriculum was finally challenging, not only to my brain’s beefy biceps, but also to my soul and its never ending search for love and the mystery of life.  No more thanks can go to anyone more than to El Papa, yes… that is the name of the Pope if you are a Spanish speaking catholic, but fuck you this El Papa far surpasses yours.  No Offense.  He stood on the grounds of rationality, he challenged everything I said, and he was and is my brother and one of my eternal best friends.  For the purposes of this writing I will use the term Los to describe him.  We were roommates in what was then considered to be the biggest party school in the nation.  From my horribly misunderstood political views, to my views on morality, even to my views on life and family, Los took me under his wing seeing a boy turning into a man who had potential to shape lives.  He saw me for what I could be.  I believe firmly, when you share a “ship” with someone, whether it is a friendship, partnership, or relationship they come with a gift, often disguised at the time.  Los’s gift to me was a pair of open eyes.  It was fucking miraculous; with new eyes I viewed the world.  I was a child seeing the world for the first time, again.  Green meant something different now, Love meant something new and more powerful, and music was more vibrant and full of color.  His gift, allowed me to pursue a quest that would lead me to today, a quest for truth, for love, and above all freedom from being bound by my own mind.  From there, the college experience and my journeys from that era took hold and filled my mind with endless possibilities.  Even after this experience, which I fondly call Adult Toddler Syndrome, which affects more than 98% of the populace, there was still much more to learn about life.  

Some People Call Me the Space Cowboy

Let’s fast-forward a while after all this isn’t another story about how awesome some jackhole’s college years were.  By the time that I met Spec and this entire crew I was already a free minded boozer. Willing to go toe to toe with anyone in an intellectual discussion or “debate” which really meant argument.  All while drinking! Sure I was free of much of the bondage of my childhood.  In fact at the time I believed I was free of it all.  Boy, I could not have been more wrong.  

Now like most twenty something’s we all drank, and in the beginning stages of the formation of our groups solar system that’s basically all we did.  We hung out at home, or at Joni’s and we let her fucking rip.  They were the best of days.  We hadn’t a care in the world, and if we did it was trivial.  No cares about careers, or school, or relationships, it was just rip roar and let ‘em soar.  We always had our damn heads in the clouds.  That’s where we liked them, we didn’t have time for the endless pressures the world wanted to put on us.  Anyone who has ever really lived while they were in their twenties knows that.  

To paint a portrait for you of what we were like I’d have to reference Longfellow. “Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth, to some good angel leave the rest; For Time will teach thee soon the truth, there are no birds in last year’s nest!”  We left nothing undiscovered, no stone unturned, we were the all singing, all dancing gift to the world.  We thought little of the past, and even less about the future.  We were truly living; we had no designs, no delusions of grandeur.  We only had the present, and it was a fucking gift.  We had no leader, no master.  Where does this lead? Naturally this type of lifestyle, spending every penny of your paycheck in a bar leads to hangovers, poor decisions, and growth.  Not so you say? Well I’m not claiming to know some underlying pattern in life, or to be enlightened.  I am simply explaining that in this natural process, that is the suburban child finds their bearing on the world and in doing so hopes to find themselves.  

We were in our own version of Woodstock and little would stop us from rebelling and singing our song.  It wasn’t just that we were drinking and more than likely driving drunk most of the time, with expired tags and registrations on our vehicles.  We cast a finger to the sky and defied all that stood in our way.  Were we reckless? One might say that we were, but they weren’t there, it was an organic process that took us down a road we never knew was available.