Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I would like to share with you, a certain moment from my life. 

The way I would describe this moment isn’t very simple, though.  It was momentous, yet not.  It was an awakening to me, but it did not illuminate, as I was already aware.  It gave me the ability to see things as they were, but I learned nothing.  For a man that prides himself on being able to describe the things in life that many cannot, I find myself struggling to define it beyond two words: Absolute Perspective.

It was July of 1999.  The summer itself was quite a special one in my life.  Besides being the last one of the “19’s”, I was also preparing to become a high schooler, starting back up what would be a very short-lived amateur baseball career, and the addition of a new family member to our home.  Our new dog and MY furry little brother… Rocky.  However, all of this happened after I got back from my trip.

That July, I was fortunate enough the be a part of a “student ambassador program” where a group of 20-30 kids in their low to mid-teens would travel to another country (in my case, the east coast of Australia), and learn about their culture, while the locals would learn a bit about ours… in theory.  The reality of it was, we were a tour group of rowdy, hormone-crazed & decently funded teenagers, spending every night in a different utopian beach-front resort, with a laughable TWO chaperones to keep us in line… for three weeks solid. 

Needless to say, the only real learning that took place was acquiring the ability to spot a good place to make out, and where to put your hands once the lip locking had commenced.  I myself also learned that making out in a hammock is more trouble that it’s worth.  The Post-Tonsil Hockey Dismount was always very tricky to execute… someone either got a bit of face-to-elbow contact, or fell out of the hammock and had some face-to-sand contact.  Neither of which the opposite sex found attractive, once the bruising began to set in.

Amidst all of the kissing, snorkeling and virgin daiquiris, there was an overnight stay at a cattle ranch located about two hours inland, at the edge of the Australian Outback. Our first moments there were quite the change of pace.  Instead of beaches and blue oceans, we had deserts and orange rock formations.  Instead of a bartender making virgin cocktails, we had ranchers branding and castrating cattle.  Instead of going back to a plush room with silk drapes, we were told to “rough it” and sleep on the ground in sleeping bags that smelled like a homeless Frodo had been squatting in them for days. After a day full of physical activities, we were all so tired, we fell asleep before the sun had a chance to set.  Unfortunately, my REM cycles were cut short at around midnight, by the call of nature. In need of some non-smelly air, and more sleep, I decided to get up and find some place to satisfy my bladder’s very bothersome nagging.

I stood up and began walking around what was a surprisingly well lit field.  Figuring there was a full moon out, I looked up… and froze with amazement.  The amount of stars I saw in the sky was incredible.  It was like looking at a photo taken by the Hubble Telescope, only it was bright enough to illuminate everything and it filled the whole sky.  Looking down only to find a good secluded spot to relieve myself, I was transfixed by the cosmos that hung above me, displayed in the kind of detail I never knew was possible without Photoshop or CGI.  Despite how tired I was, I stood there in the middle of a field… a young kid, seeing the true universe with his own eyes for the very first time.  It was a real-life Van Gogh “Starry Night” and I got to see it by myself, in the dead quiet of the Australian Outback.  At that moment, the realization that I wasn't by myself nearly made me shit my pants.

“It’s because of the light pollution,” the rancher said from behind me, “since there’s no city lights to drown the stars out, you end up seeing every single one.”

It turns out that in every tour group, there are always a few people that get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and end up freezing under the awesome sight that’s above them.  So one of the ranchers thought it would be good P.R. if he made a point to learn all about astronomy, and then stay up late when a group rolled in, to answer some of the questions that might be asked of him.  Me? I had no questions.  I was speechless. 

The rancher took it as an opportunity to point out the best part of the sky.  He tapped me on the shoulder and pointed behind me and to the left, at a thick cluster of stars that grew out of the horizon and stretched halfway across the sky.  It was a brilliant sight.

Oh yeah.  It looked like that.

“See that, kid?  That’s the Milky Way.”
“Like, our galaxy?  THE Milky Way?”
“Yep.  See kid, we’re near the edge of it, and the stars close to us are far apart.  So it looks like we’re outside of it.”
“Holy shit.”
“Damn right.  See that bright center there?  From there, light takes about 40,000 years to get to us.”

That was his final statement of the night, meant to make me silently ponder while he could slip away and go to bed.  It worked.

Standing in the desolate wasteland of a strange country with home on the other side of the planet doesn't sound like such a vast distance when you're looking up at a cluster of 200-400 billion stars.  It made me feel that I wasn’t so far from home after all.  At that moment, it felt like a brisk walk would carry me to my doorstep where I could sleep in my own bed, rather than a sleeping bag made out of what seemed to be a wet yak, sporting a spastic colon.  I felt pretty insignificant, but still strangely at peace about it.

My feeling of insignificance and a peaceful reaction was quite odd once I thought about it.  Now that I look back, I think I know why.  The calm wasn't because of the sight, and believe me, it was probably the most majestic thing I’ve ever seen.  I think the reason behind my peaceful feeling was because of the awesome magnitude of everything that I was struggling to comprehend.  I was close to my Absolute Perspective, and this was my pathway there:

Being kind of a geek at the time, I had heard somewhere that in the known universe, there were an estimated 120 billion galaxies… one of which, was mine.   In my galaxy, there was an estimated 200-400 billion stars… one of which, was mine.  That star had nine planets in its orbit… one of which, was mine.   On that planet there were about 5 billion people… one of which, was me.  Try and crunch those numbers real quick.

Insignificant couldn't even begin to define how I felt, the math spoke for itself.  Other thoughts popped in my head.

“If I were to collect every explosive on the planet, from 9mm bullets to nuclear warheads, and detonate them somewhere out in the Milky Way, nothing would be different, NOTHING!”
“Even if the whole planet exploded, it wouldn’t have any effect on the galaxy!!”

I finally realized that no matter what I did, there was no possible way I could ever have any effect on the universe I was looking up at.  Thus was my moment of Absolute Perspective.  This sight I was witnessing was a small glimpse of a place with infinite size, power and mystery, and there was no possible way for me to comprehend it, let alone influence it.  All I could ever do was look at it, enjoy it, and respect it.

That hour or two I spent staring upward took me on a staggering thought process that led to absolutely nowhere.  I didn’t grow as a person, and frankly, I didn’t learn anything new either.  At best, I finally took the time to understand the information I already had, but I enjoyed the Zen-like feeling it evoked.  All I could do then was yawn and make my way back to the sleeping bag to get some more rest.

Shuffling back to the area filled with my fellow “student ambassadors”, my thoughts fell back down to Earth.  When they did, a smile grew on my face.  I knew that in a few hours, the sun would be up.

Bringing a new day, and another few make out sessions.

Now that you know more about me, learn about the things around me:
Rusty Bolt
Voice of Others

Monday, September 26, 2011


It’s Sunday morning.  6am. 

If it were any other person making this simple observation, one could assume they've just woken up.  Maybe a fresh pot of coffee is quietly brewing in the kitchen while someone is reading the newspaper in the living room.  Maybe someone is in their bedroom tying their shoes, shoes they had just buffed and polished the night before, in preparation for their morning mass.  Or even maybe… someone is sneaking out of a strange house belonging to a person  they met earlier at a bar, whom is still asleep.

I on the other hand, have not fallen asleep. 

Around three in the morning, just as my eyes were beginning to get sore from exhaustion, I got a hunch when I was scrolling through the channel guide on TV.  This hunch of mine occurs when I see a movie that I have never heard of, but still seems like it might be interesting, regardless of the name or the one-sentence synopsis.   It happened a couple of weeks ago with a curious drama called, “The Door in the Floor”.  Tonight, it was another drama, “The Sunset Limited”.  I set the remote on the shelf next to my bed and began watching.

“The Sunset Limited” is essentially a two-man stage play on film.  Samuel L. Jackson plays a working-class, evangelical christian, who saves Tommy Lee Jones’ character from committing suicide… who happens to be an atheist college professor.  What follows is a 90 minute-long philosophical discussion about religion, life, suicide, and death.   Normally, if religion is the basis of a movie that I happen to come across, I’ll continue to move across it and find something else.  I cannot stand when religion is discussed, because usually the discussion is in reality, a heated fight… something that does not do any good for anyone.   

This movie, on the other hand, was fascinating to me.  Sure the acting was great, it was Sam Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones for fuck’s sake.  It was the discussion itself that got my attention.  It was unlike any religion based back-and-forth I had ever seen.  It was calm, respectful, concise and extremely intelligent.  No side was acting superior, belittling the other, or giving childish dead-end retorts like, “just because”.  Rarely have I experienced any scenario like the one being portrayed for me on HBO, which is why I avoid religion discussions.  However there is one other subject that, when brought up, I avoid it like Kim Jong Il should have avoided his current barber.


Through time, trial and consistent failure, I have learned to eliminate religion and politics from my socializing spectrum.  In almost every one of my experiences when either of those topics came up, the discussion evolved into a debate… which erupted into a confrontation that made everyone around us vaguely uncomfortable.  I can already tell that some of you are nodding right now, as this is not a rare occurrence for anyone in that same situation. 

I’ve found that the reason this happens with these two subjects is because they're the two that people tend to hold close to their heart, more consistently than any other.  This isn’t a simple instance of Stanley Whatshisface believing that “The Godfather” was better than “Citizen Kane”, or that he believes German automakers are better than Japanese.   Generally, those beliefs would have very little bearing on Stanley’s life.  Religion and politics however, they may very well define Stanley’s life.  So if someone else were to question either of Stanley’s beliefs, he could take that as a bit of a personal insult, a dig on his way of life.  One might even think that good ol’ Stanley might be timid toward the idea of being convinced to change his beliefs, as he might view that as a way of betraying himself.

After numerous observations and encounters of people reacting in this way, I’ve come to loathe the idea of having such a conversation.  More often than not, I even cringe at the sound of others these discussions around me.  It became an association of past experiences… much like someone who might have a fear of dogs because of being bit by one as a child, or someone hating the taste of Jack Daniels because they drank too much of it one night… like myself.

This distaste that I have isn’t limited to having social conversations either.  I’ve come to enjoy writing as a rewarding outlet for me on many subjects, some of which are quite personal.  However, my beliefs in regards to religion or politics have never been included, and there are reasons why.  First, if I had written about it, someone who has opposing views to mine might read it and feel compelled to give their opinion, and as I have mentioned before, I’d rather not hear it… so get away from me.  Secondly, I like the fact that, for the most part, the people around me don’t exactly know what my beliefs on either are.  That way, they might feel less inclined to ask questions or make statements. 

They're mostly friends of mine, and I’d rather not offend them by saying, “I really do not give a crap about whom or what you worship, or who you voted for.  So please, either: change the subject, walk away… or introduce me to that friend of yours over there, the brunette holding the beer.  She’s really cute.”  I don’t think they’d introduce me if I talked to them like that, would you?  I didn’t think so.

There’s one downside to having very little known about your views on these subjects though.  The assumptions.

Having assumptions made about my stance on things like that bothers me in an entirely different way.  It’s the idea that someone takes the liberty of deciding my ideals for me, without any input on my behalf.  It’s almost insulting, by veering into that “I know you better than you know yourself” territory.  Or maybe, they just made an assumption about me because they believe in their ideals so much, that they couldn't fathom anyone thinking differently.  Now that’s just arrogant to assume that the people around you have the same beliefs you do.  Many people believe many different things.  It’s a fact of life that a surprising amount of people have yet to learn, because I see people demonstrate their ignorance of it all the time.  Perhaps it’s too optimistic of me to think that the people at large should respect one’s beliefs, whether they know them or not.

But that optimism I have is exactly why I enjoyed “The Sunset Limited” to begin with.  It showed all of us how a philosophical debate or discussion should be conducted.  It showed us that it really isn’t a debate at all, but a two-way street of learning someone else’s thoughts, beliefs and passions. 

Do you know what I believe?  I believe that in the future, if things take a turn in that direction, I might be less inclined to walk away if someone tries to discuss religion or politics with me.

But until then, don’t bother trying.

Now that you know more about me, learn about the things around me:
Rusted Bolt
Voice of Others

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Last night ended oddly.
I was on my way home from a concert at The Rave.  I turned onto a rural street and eventually noticed I was going fifteen over the speed limit.  As I slowed down, I saw someone coming up behind me going extremely fast, so fast that I didn’t have time to react.  All I could to was brace myself for what seemed to be an inevitable totaling of my car.  Luckily, he slammed on the brakes and avoided the awful sound of crunching metal.  What happened next was the last thing I would’ve expected.  He passed me on the left, cut in front, and slowed me down to a halt, in the middle of a three lane road.  Both doors opened.
I would imagine that at this point, most people would put the shifter all the way over, all the way back, hit the gas and quickly reverse out of the altercation.  I on the other hand, flashed back to the scene in The Godfather where Sonny was boxed in at the turnpike and was assassinated by seven men sporting fedoras and Tommy Guns.   A thought popped in my head.
Dammit, now I’ll never be the head of the Corleone Family.
A middle aged man wearing a suit worth more than his mode of transportation exited the car, stage left.  Stage right… his drunk girlfriend.  The sauced spouse ran up to my window and a civil conversation started:
“You want me to fucking kill you???” she inquired.
“You're the one who’s gonna get killed, you're standing in the middle of the road,” I replied in a ‘matter of fact’ tone.
Enter the over-dressed man.
“You know who the fuck I am???” the apparently famous man asked me.
“Nope.  I do not,” I said to the celebrity.
The next thirty to sixty seconds became a verbal pissing contest.  I calmly tried to explain that they weren’t on the Milwaukee Mile racetrack, but in fact they were on Greenfield Avenue at midnight.   They opted to act like an episode of the Jerry Springer show, taking out all of their rage beside my car.  Once knowing I couldn't reason with these blithering idiots, I decided to apologize over and over until they left.  Mr. Youknowwhothefuckiam became satisfied and walked back to his car, beckoning his lush of a counterpart to follow.  She didn’t.  She had to make one final point.
“You know something?? I'm a nurse and I see people die in shit like th…”
“You're a nurse that threatens to kill people?”
“FUCK YOU!!!”  She said as she stumbled back to their car.  She got in, and they sped off before she closed the door.
I lit a cigarette and went on my merry way.  When I was back up to the speed limit, I realized two things.  One, you can’t reason with someone when they're pissed/drunk/stupid.  Secondly, I felt a sigh of relief, finally knowing that I’m one of those people that can remain calm and collected in a potentially explosive situation.
I don’t think I was always that type of person though.  When I was a teenager, I’m pretty sure I would’ve fled the scene, going as fast as possible, hoping they didn’t get my license plate number.  The difference between then and now is the fact that I've been through so many situations that span the entire realm of the term ‘unorthodox’, the Greenfield Avenue Incident not as out of the ordinary for me.  I knew where his breaking point was, and I knew how to avoid reaching it while still getting him to move the fuck out of my way.   Once he was ready to leave, I knew that he was going to tell his drunk girlfriend to come with, just as long as I didn’t call her something like ‘bitch’ or ‘cunt’.  She was drunk, he was sober and had his fill of everything because I apologized, even if I did nothing wrong.
Being able to read people like an open book is another talent I've learned through the trial and error of my vast array of unorthodox experiences that the average person doesn’t encounter. 
Here are a few examples to entertain you, which are all completely true:
-Getting into a stare-down contest with a person that everyone around me thought was armed.
-Coming back from Vegas, $1500 light and one stripper-stalker heavy.
-Engaging in a four month long ‘Man vs. Machine’ battle with an automatic toilet.
-Knocking a man over in a gas station because he called a soldier ‘someone who kills people for oil’.
-Unintentionally playing chicken with a cop.
-Having a middle-aged female boss who constantly tried to sleep with me.
-Catching a man who I thought was full-throttle gay making out with his female coworker.
-Getting over a fear of heights via bungee jumping.
-Showing 30 people, via Power Point presentation, that one of my employees shit his pants.
Now, I started this essay with a question in mind, “Why does all of this goofy shit keep happening to me?”  However, after I wrote out the list above, I realized that question doesn’t really hold water.  With the exception of a few of those examples, I played a large role in making the result take place.  I'm not a victim of circumstance, but in fact a facilitator of strange scenes.  The others I had no part in, I attribute to my tendency to be hyper-aware of my surroundings.
Paying close attention to my environment has always been both a help and a hinder for me.  It’s a benefit because I usually notice important and hilarious things that others fail to.  On the flip side of that coin, it’s hard for me to have a conversation when someone twenty feet away has mismatched socks.  Unfortunately this is something I cannot turn off, I'm just wired that way.   I'm forever doomed to know when something is amiss.
I don’t know if the word ‘doomed’ is how I would correctly describe it, though.  Over time, I've come to enjoy seeing the world for its beautifully-strange self.   I'm a bit of a weird guy, and I love when interesting shit happens.  I tried to join the ‘normal’ bandwagon a while back.  I talked about normal subjects, acted in a normal manner and avoided stepping away from normal situations.  I hated every second of it.   I found it to be painfully boring and in a way, I felt like I was selling out.
The person writing this now enjoys being weird and being in weird situations.  He enjoys vocalizing his weird thoughts.  He has no problem shaking the world of the normal people around him.   If the opportunity arises to be involved in something interesting, he’ll take it.  To this man, living a normal life is pointless, he may as well be a ghost.  A translucent wraith floating on the sidelines of life, that doesn’t want to live in a way that he feels he should.
He has been normal, and he’s never going back.

Now that you know more about me, learn about the things around me:
Rusted Bolt
Voice of Others

Monday, February 14, 2011


Last night, I came home after a fun filled Sunday and suddenly had the need to relax a little bit.  I briefly pondered selecting a new book from my bookshelf and reading well into the early morning hours.  However, I was a little drunk at the time, so I decided it would be best to forgo the four to five hours of concentration and instead, let the more narcissistic side of my personality take control.  I checked out the two blogs I have going online.  I reread my essays, marvled in my overuse of the all-powerful comma, made notes to myself on how I could improve, and called it a night. 

This morning, I was well into my routine when I decided to flip open my laptop and check the weather.  Immediately I noticed the window with my site was still up… and being a very analytical person, I searched through the traffic I was receiving, and noticed there wasnt any.  At that moment, I reflected on my decision for embracing the grotesque cliché of starting a blog… two for that matter.  To be perfectly honest, I don't know if I'm subscribing to this whole thing.  See, I started these two sites because I wanted to reach a wider audience, so I might gain some real notoriety for my work.

In other words, my essays went from Facebook, where almost no one cared… to BlogSpot, where absolutely no one cares.

Smart move Mr. Wright, this sounds like another notch in the “God Dammit Assface, Way to Go!” column.

Even the big JC was disappointed.

Keep in mind; I'm not trying to be cynical, ironic, or “edgy”.   I can’t stand people that portray themselves as such, especially when they’re nothing more than spoiled suburbanites with the keys to a hand-me-down Saab in their pocket and unsubstantiated daddy issues in their head.  What I'm being is honest.  Honest by saying that what I choose to write is nothing more than what I say on a daily basis.  The off change of it being (even remotely) interesting is coincidental.  To me, a worthwhile subject is something from which I can enjoy squeezing out at least a thousand words, and still know that I'm not padding the content.  Whether or not you find it engaging has very little relevance.

But is a blog really the correct outlet for me?  First off, the term “blog” makes me cringe every time I hear or say it.  Whenever that word comes to mind, I automatically associate it with the lowest form of writing… online celebrity gossip websites.  Just the idea of me falling under the same category as someone like Perez Hilton makes me want to hit myself on the nose with a rolled-up news paper.  I feel like an untrained terrier.

“Bad Sparky!  You shat in the living room in front of the Christmas presents! Bad dog!” 

“Bad J.S. Wright!  You're a blogger!  You’ve joined the same club as the biggest effeminate douche bag ever!  Bad writer!”

To be perfectly honest, I’d much rather go to the Henderson’s house and leave a big pile of smelly shame in front of Billy’s unwrapped Tonka truck.  It involves less self-hate and I might even be able to cop out and pass it off as art for fuck’s sake.

Secondly, who the hell actually wants to read the unsolicited ramblings of some prick they’ve never met?  Sure, there are many people out the in the writing world who pride themselves on being “Indie Followers”, but come on now.   It’s one thing to say that you're doing something, but actually doing it is a completely different animal.  Sitting down and taking the time to sift through the endless sea of websites about family trips and ignorant political speculations takes a lot of damn time.

But!  What happens when they actually find a writer they fancy?  They click the “follow” button.  That’s it. The result is a small news feed at the bottom of their screen that occasionally features the writer they found.  This system, set up by the powers that be, throws people of varying talents onto a level playing field.  It’s the ultimate fuck you to talented writers that are just starting out in this area. 

Now that the blogger has a follower, what they get in return?  They get a chronological line graph of their page views, which in many cases is zero.  This looming zero, when it translates to the graph, devastatingly resembles a flat-line on an EKG machine.  It’s a cruel joke to play on a struggling amateur writer.  Nothing discourages someone more than making the importance of their labor remind them of someone that just died.  It seems that the only way to get that heart beating is by pumping it full of meaningless gossip and celebrity up-skirt pictures.


That’s the sad times we live in people.  Flash and pizzazz are regularly chosen over quality of content.  Case in point:  A book was recently published by Snooki of The Jersey Shore fame.  A book… a fucking book, with the face of society’s most recent embarrassment plastered all over the cover.  Go figure.  Intelligent and hard-working writers are all over the country.  Right now, they're struggling to create interesting and provocative character developments that fall in line with their carefully crafted storylines, and will ultimately fail.  Meanwhile, this waste of skin vomits a fifth of tequila and a Denny’s Grand Slam onto two-hundred pages, and it’ll be a bestseller next month.  This horrifying fact makes talented people everywhere collectively throw up their arms in disgust.  The next day, some of them may begin to wonder what the cost of living is in other countries.  FYI, if you tell your new neighbors that you're from Canada rather than the U.S., you’ll get a much better response.

This is what I'm up against in many cases.  Yes, I have found a handful of websites that are based on the foundation of great writing, some of which I have submitted essays and articles to. is a good example.  However, the problem is that they don’t get the exposure they deserve.  They’re stuck in the shadows, hidden from the mainstream that is mostly reserved for entities like TMZ.

By the way, have you ever seen TMZ's TV show?  They have a surfer-type kid on there… Steven Hawking’s computer-generated voice has more personality than him. Christ.

Anyways, I guess the only option I have at this moment is to keep doing what I have been doing: writing essays that I believe are somewhat worthwhile to read and have more substance than posting grainy pictures of the latest celebrity to drunkenly stumble onto Hollywood Blvd at 2am.

Not sweet.

That, and keeping a rolled up newspaper nearby so I can discipline myself whenever I use the term “blog”.

Baaad writer. 

Now that you know more about me, learn about the things around me:
Rusted Bolt
Voice of Others