Author: R.J.Harrigan

Musings

Escape


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escape

Escape
by R.J.Harrigan

 

We don’t want to die, but we want to escape life. Everything we do is an escape. We work to distract ourselves from being a person. We give ourselves false purpose. We play video games to live in other worlds. We watch television. We save up to go on trips because, “I need a vacation” is really, “I need an escape from my series of escapes.” Even this writing is an escape.

When was the last time you sat down and didn’t distract yourself with something? When was the last time you sat, and just were? Try it. Take a moment, keep your eyes open, and just be. Look around you, take it in. That’s you. It’s pretty much the only thing we’re sure of in life when you think about it. The only thing I can be sure of is that I exist, and I’m here. I’m convinced that other people are here too and that they exist. However, what I’m existentially unsure about is why?

Whether you believe that we evolved from a single celled organism, or if you believe that God put us here with Adam and Eve, or even if you believe that we came to this planet from space a long time ago, the questions is still clear, why us? Why you? Why me?

When we look around at nature, everything that exists, does so on its own. What I mean is, nothing in nature needs anything extra to be. In theory, I should be able to go out into the wilderness and “live off the land.” But I know that I can’t do that. Can you? In my mind I think, “sure, I go camping.” However, think about camping; we make a fire for warmth and to cook, and we pitch a tent. What other creature does this? None. Ok, so natural shelters exist. Now we’re cavemen. Even they had fire, but to control fire is man-made. My theory is that we shouldn’t need it. We should be able to live, just as we’re born. Our women have a natural means to feed an infant, and then after they grow, water should be accessible from natural sources. Food then, would be berries, seeds, plants. Hunting requires man-made tools. Fishing as well. They are great resources, but we shouldn’t need them. Can we really live a healthy life that way? Is that how we’re “meant” to be? Would we be happier to live that way, with no need for an escape?

The first time I heard the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss,” was in elementary school. I actually read it from a little wooden decoration that was on my teacher’s desk. I didn’t get it. I knew that “bliss” was a good thing, and I knew “Ignorance” was bad. I used to think it meant, “being bad is good.” I just couldn’t grasp the concept. When I finally understood it to mean “being unaware is joyful,” I couldn’t agree more. I again look to nature. Wolves, cats, ants; all living things besides us don’t question their own existence. At least, we don’t think they do. Maybe Koko the gorilla (RIP), but generally speaking… Being aware of our existence is absolute torture. At least for me. I can’t really do anything at all if I don’t have a reason for it. I eat because I need to eat to live. I sleep because I must. I have sex because it’s awesome, but I know that it’s biologically because my body wants to procreate. That all makes sense to me.

Beyond these biological necessities, I feel like everything we do is meaningless. Every job I’ve ever worked puts me in a pit of depression after a short time being there. I start off ok, because it’s new and learning the job distracts me from the job itself. Then, after settling in, I feel like a hamster stuck in a loop. I get up, drink coffee, sit in traffic, go to work, come home, eat, TV, sleep, repeat for 5 days, then try to jam pack the weekend with escapes from the week, repeat. At some point, I feel like I can’t keep this up any longer, and then I look for a different job, or quit. Then, I live off my savings for as long as possible before I notice that my bank account is starving. Then it’s a race against the clock to find work, get some income, fall back into the cycle.

I know I’m not alone here. Social media is extremely sad when you read between the lines. I see “funny” videos or memes about hating work. It will usually have a cartoon picture to lighten the mood, but what I see is a bunch of people crying for help. They’re all saying, “Help! I’m stuck in this loop and I don’t know what to do about it. I am doing what I’m told that I have to do, but I still feel like something is missing!” Every ‘lol’ reads as nervous laughter.

What is the solution? I’m not sure. I’m toying with the idea that perhaps service to others is the only meaningful path to life. I don’t mean charity per say, but jobs in fields that help others exist? Like a doctor (that doesn’t just do it for the money). Or a cook? We all need food, water, shelter, sleep. Maybe the most important jobs we have are, Doctors; Plumbers; Carpenters; and…pot dealers? I don’t know, but I can tell you right now that being an accountant, or a cashier, etc. is the biggest waste of a beautiful human life and I can’t understand why we allow it.

I don’t want to die, but I want to escape this life.

Musings

Is Mumble Rap Art?


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Is “Mumble Rap” Art?

 

I know you’ve heard it said from the “real” Hip Hop heads, “mumble rap is NOT hip hop!” I’m going to admit that I’ve been guilty of this myself. However, the other day I began thinking about this very question and I think I might be changing my mind a little bit. (Just a little bit, don’t get too excited!).

I often ask myself how hip hop evolved from what it was in the 90s and early 2000s, which many of us refer to as the Golden age of Hip Hop, into the barely coherent, seemingly nonsensical music that it is today. As an emcee, I’ve always practiced the art of lyricism. That’s just what it took to get props in my generation. If you had a dope flow, then you were respected in the game.

I think I figured out where the evolution took place. We all scratch our heads at how lyricism evolved into “mumble rap” but I don’t think they belong to the same bloodline. There were two similar versions of Hip Hop living side by side that began to take two very different paths. Does nobody remember the hit song “Laffy Taffy” or essentially every word uttered by Lil Jon? People are quick to point fingers at Soulja Boy, but let’s not forget that his hit song was in 2007 and “Get Low” by Lil Jon was 2002. Thus, Hip Hop was becoming more divided into “lyrical” rhymes and “club bangers” that had great beats but didn’t say much of anything. So now I see today’s popular Hip Hop as an evolution to the latter. But is that art?

Let’s take a closer look at actual art; like paintings and drawings, etc. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a nicely drawn portrait, or a magical landscape filled with vibrant colors. When I see a person draw something so detailed that it might come to life right off the page, I call that art. I’m amazed by it. However, there is this relatively newer style of art called “abstract” or “modern” art. You’ve seen it before, splattered paint on a canvas, or a glass box on the floor, in the middle of a large empty room. When I see these things, I don’t think “wow, that’s art.” Instead, my mind get’s a little put off like, “This thing is really selling for $50,000?! I could have made this!” (I can’t even draw a stick figure). I feel like modern art is a scam on some level, BUT, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t art. Art is subjective right? Who am I to tell anybody that their art isn’t art? I face tons of push back when I present my hip hop in a poetry class, especially if the person in charge is a contemporary poet. I’ve been told that rhyming poetry is for greeting cards and has no place in a college level course. Does that actually mean that my poetry isn’t poetry? No! Absolutely not! But wait? Am I just acting like my closed-minded teacher when I say that “mumble rap” isn’t art?

Art is subjective and these kids and young adults that are producing this new age of music are just expressing themselves in the way that they feel speaks to them. I don’t particularly enjoy it and that’s ok too. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t good, nor does it mean that it isn’t art. It just means that I prefer my Hip Hop to be versed in the lyricism and delivery, and perhaps I could even learn a thing or two from these new cats on how a dope beat can get the people moving. If there is one thing that I must admit, old school Hip Hop beats are very basic, and today’s beats are off the chain. If you love what you do and pour your heart and soul into your craft then dammit, you’ve made art, and deserve appreciation. In the words of one of the greatest of my time, “I ain’t mad at cha.” -Tupac

-R.J.Harrigan

Poetry

Oblivious By Nature


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Oblivious By Nature
By R.J.Harrigan

 

Is it just me,
Or does no one see
This wonderful, beautiful thing?

They all walk around,
With heads to the ground.
Oh wonderful, beautiful thing!

They must be afraid,
Or they would have laid
Eyes on this beautiful thing.

It sits, plain in sight
I think that it might
Know it’s a beautiful thing.

Perhaps, what it wants,
To taunt, how it flaunts,
This wonderful, beautiful thing!

I watch, as it flees
And still, no one sees
This wonderful, beautiful thing.

 

 

 

Musings

I am a narcissist


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I am a narcissist.

 

I don’t want to be this way, but that is only because it isn’t panning out the way that I feel it should. I know that it is not a healthy way to be, and sometimes I wish that I could get approval from within myself, but the truth is, I live for outside validation. If I’m not being praised in some way, I feel empty. How did this happen?

My mother lived with a foster family because her mother died shortly after giving birth to her. I don’t know much about what life was like for my mother because she doesn’t really talk about it much. She is a strong woman and refuses to give up. However, I have heard bits and pieces from different family members about what they remember, and the short version is that my mother didn’t feel like she belonged, and it was made clear that she wasn’t a blood relative. I can only imagine what that did to her self-esteem. I can tell you this, I have none, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

The other caveat to her story is that her mother was in a coma for most of the pregnancy. It’s a miracle that she’s even alive, which, by proxy, means that it is a miracle that I’m even alive. Miracles aside, when a child is being developed inside of an unconscious body, that must have some effect on the baby. All I know is, my mother was never taught how to love unconditionally. It took me 30 years to figure this out, but I do know that I too, can’t love unconditionally. When you are doing good or making me look good, I love you to the moon and back. However, when you aren’t doing well, or make me look back, then no matter what you were to me, I can flip a switch and it’s like we never met. My mother had that switch, and “lucky” for me, I was the “golden child” in my household. My mother called me her “rose between two thorns.” And I wondered why my brother hated me.

When my sister was 18, and I was 26, we began having regular conversations about our experiences growing up. Her and I both felt empty but couldn’t quite place it. Through many talks, she said two things that really rocked my world. The first was when she said that she always felt like our family (Our mother, brother, her, and me) were more like roommates than a family. This described us perfectly. I have always explained it like, “I have lived with these people for X years now and I couldn’t tell you anything about them, nor could they about me.” We didn’t talk much about anything below surface level. Our conversations growing up were usually one sarcastic punch line after another. Don’t get me wrong, we all have a great sense of humor and there was a ton of laughter, but when it came time to have a real discussion, that’s when all the walls went up.

I’ve recently come to realize that this stems down to the way my mother was raised. Again, without loving parents to show her how to be a loving parent, the cycle continued. I can recall a few times that I’ve tried to talk to my mother about things that were bothering me, but she’d brush it off by saying, “Mommy’s love makes it better.” After an awkward hug/back tap, the conversation would be over, not discussion what the problem even was.

Speaking of awkward hugs, that brings me to the second thing my sister said that blew my mind. She said, “I always felt like mom was like a holographic projection of what a mom is supposed to be.” I can tell that my mother wants to be a good mother. But, like a hologram that looks like something on the outside, beyond the image, it’s empty. Growing up, we’d always hear from relatives and visitors that, “Whatever anyone says about your mother, there is no denying that she loves her children.” This confused us because we felt like she didn’t, but on paper it looks like she did. She was a single mom that worked her ass off to put food on the table. She spoiled us with gifts at Christmas, even though that usually meant she didn’t pay the bills. She made sure we had clothes on our backs, and even though she hated the style of the 90’s, she let me wear super baggy jeans and oversized shirts. She rarely, if ever went out with friends, and she rushed us to the emergency room if we had the slightest sniffle. On paper, that is a loving mother.

However, when it came to emotional nourishment, she hadn’t the slightest clue on how to give us what we needed, because she never received it herself. It’s so tough to realize that your mother is the root to your emotional problems, and then to come to terms with the fact that you really can’t even blame her.

How does this make me a narcissist? Well, being raised by one will do that to you. It takes one to know one. We are what I’ve come to learn is called “covert narcissists.” This is the opposite to the “overt narcissist” which is typically what people imagine a narcissist being. They brag about themselves, they don’t have any trouble putting others down, and they clearly think they are better than everyone around them. Our family is the opposite. Our personalities are a series of defense mechanisms that hide our lack of self-esteem, our fear of being exposed, and our self-defeating behavior. My sister and I have always called it our family curse before we knew what Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) was. We would say, “our family is such a waste of talent.” We all have some creative talents but do nothing with them. Or, more accurately put, we start a project and then quit shortly after.

The cycle is hell. I get extremely motivated to start something, like this website (or the 4 others that I have created before it), and I begin imagining the possibilities. I think about all the fans that I’m going to have, and the praise I’m going to get for my writing, or better yet, my poetry. I picture being able to pay my bills and going to autograph signings. This is all before I even open the laptop to begin creating a site. I’ll spend a few hours just day dreaming about what it COULD be. Then, I get to work. I can spend a whole day setting up a website. Coming up with the name, finding our if the .com is taken yet, and everything I need to get started. When it came to other projects, like my rap career, after imagining the crowds of 1000’s of fans, I went and took out a credit card for a music store, and I maxed it out buying equipment to record music. I can easily convince myself that the money spent is an investment in my future and I feel 100% confident that it will work out the way I see it in my head. I can convince anybody that this is going to happen because I truly believe it. The first day or two is great. With this site, I make a post, put it up, and then hit the refresh button repeatedly to see if anyone has liked it.

Then, that voice in my head creeps in. The voice reminding me that my dream probably won’t happen. The voice telling me that I’ve only received 5 likes for this post and that writing it was a waste of time. That voice telling me that nobody wants to read my words because it just sounds like a whiny bitch complaining about his poor child hood and who has time for that? That voice telling me, plain and simple, that You Are Not Good Enough!

And so, I get to work tearing it all down. If I fail it on purpose, then I can’t be hurt by failing at it if I try. Of course, I don’t say this to people. When they ask, “How’s the music thing going?” I’ll say, “Man, I don’t have time for that, I’m working on my degree.” Or I’ll redirect blame, “Man, these dudes I’m working with ain’t doing shit, so I stopped working with them. Now, I have no where to record and I can’t afford to start another studio.” Suddenly, I’m the victim and people feel bad for me and then I don’t have to admit to them, or myself, that I’m just afraid, or lazy, or both. When people ask about my writing, I just say, “It’s going great, I’m working on a memoir.” I’ve been working on this memoir for almost 2 years now and I haven’t added anything to it in probably 6 months. I’m already far down the road of self-defeat.

However, this site is my attempt to get the spark going again. I’m trying very hard to hold myself accountable. It is a daily struggle, and I’ve already missed a few days here and there. I am motivated to talk about my NPD because I’ve recently discovered what it is and knowing is half the battle. I want praise and validation from everyone who reads this, but I also want to be able to write just for me. I want to get a handful of likes, or none at all, and still feel good about the writing. I want to stop blaming my mother for my failures, and I want to forgive her for not giving me unconditional love. I want to learn how to love unconditionally, so that my daughter has a fighting chance when she’s an adult. I want to feel alive, and whole, and happy. I don’t want to care what others think of me, because right now my image is everything. I want to like me for me, but even more than that, I want to find out who I even am, because the me that you may know, is not the me that others know. I wear many masks. They may all be different, but they serve the same goal, “Who do I need to be so that you will like me.” I guess that I too, am a holographic projection.

My name is Rob, and I’m a narcissist.

Musings

Parking Lot Therapy


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shopping-cart-in-parking-spot

Parking Lot Therapy

By R.J.Harrigan

 

Today I had conflicted emotions, so I just needed to write. A shopping cart changed me. I was at the grocery store picking up a few things. I believe I got some sparkling water, some oats, and an energy drink. Needless to say, it was a quick shop. I finished paying and headed outside to the parking lot. My car wasn’t far away so I could see it almost immediately after exiting the store. I saw the last seconds of a man moving his cart that he just unloaded into his truck, in front of my car that was parked in the next spot over. My immediate thought was, “Are you fucking kidding me guy?” I couldn’t wait to tell him off.

I picked up the pace to reach him before he got into his truck and drove away. After placing the cart in front of my car, he walked around to the passenger side of his truck and opened the door. He proceeded to gently assist a very short, extremely old woman into the truck.

My anger subsided. I felt guilt.

This man had no idea that I was approaching with the full intent to ruin his day over a shopping cart. He didn’t know that the car next to his was mine. Granted, the cart corral wasn’t far from his truck but I’m sure that leaving his cart there wasn’t malicious and he was more concerned with getting the elderly lady into the truck.

I’m bothered by my initial reaction. Why did I feel such anger over something so silly? I wasn’t having a bad day or anything, but in that moment, I felt disrespected. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives and become oblivious to those around us. I’ll never know if that man is a habitual cart-leaver or not, but what I do know is that he is the type of guy who will help an elderly woman into a vehicle, which is a much better quality to possess. I am the type of guy who will always return the cart to the corral, or the store if I’m close, but I’ve never helped any old ladies into any vehicles.

A misplaced shopping cart sent me on this journey of self-reflection, all in the span of 30 seconds, so by the time I reached my car, I did what I thought was right and returned his cart to the corral for him.

Poetry

Silent Adoration


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Silent Adoration

By R.J.Harrigan

When you see me staring at you,
without making a sound.
It’s because I’m lost inside your eyes,
not wanting to be found.

When you see me smiling at you,
without saying a word.
It’s because I’m hiding here with you,
not wanting to be heard.

When you see me laying with you,
without making a peep.
It’s because I’m counting memories,
instead of counting sheep.

Then, when you close your eyes
and I kiss you on the cheek;
You will know I love you,
and I didn’t need to speak.

Poetry

Villanelle


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Villanelle

by R.J.Harrigan

 

“You are not bored, you are uninspired”
The gentleman tells me but I do not care
“No sir I’m not, I’m just very tired”

I wish I could set this man on fire
Those words he spoke still linger in the air
“You are not bored, you are uninspired”

Does he think he is to be admired?
I shut my eyes but can see his stare
“No sir I’m not, I’m just very tired”

I say it twice to prove he’s the liar
I turn to look but don’t see him there
“You are not bored, you are uninspired”

I still can hear his voice, does he desire
for me to shout these words of my despair?
“No sir I’m not, I’m just very tired”

I make it home where I can retire
And I say while walking through my lair
“You are not bored, you are uninspired”

“No sir I’m not! I’m just very tired!”

News and Updates, Uncategorized

WOW 50 Likes!


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ReMemoirme.com has just reached 50 likes! I can’t believe it! Thank you all so much for the love and support

Like many writers, I am always second guessing my work. I rarely ever put my work out there for the public to view, which I usually say something like, “Nah, it’s just for me.” Or some other lame excuse. The truth is, I’m crippled by my fear of rejection. I know that I can’t please everyone and that terrifies me to my core.

Lately, I’ve been doing a ton of self reflection and realized that I live in a cycle of self-defeat. But I am determined to break the cycle! It’s hard work everyday to not delete my site and retreat back into my dark cave, but I’m taking it one day at a time, and I can’t tell you how much your support means to me. I may act like I don’t care, but barely beneath the surface, I really do. Have a wonderful day!

-Rob

Poetry

Thief


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stealing-294489_1280

Thief

By R.J.Harrigan

 

Today I saw a thief;
He stole a morning snack.
I went to approach him,
to say, “Go put it back!”

I simply can’t explain,
perhaps just in a mood.
I stopped to think about the
fact, he may need the food.

His clothes were ragged but
that’s the style of today.
I didn’t want to judge
him in that specific way.

He may have children,
whom haven’t had a bite,
for several aching days;
For several waking nights.

He may have had a job,
that worked him to the bone;
Until the day he was replaced
by an app on a phone.

The thief had come and gone
while I imagined his plight.
The shop owner came outside
but the thief was out of sight.

He looked at me and said,
“That thief don’t know the cost.
I’ll have to sell 15 just
to make up what I’ve lost.”

Suddenly, I felt conflicted.
‘Cause in the thief’s defense,
He must eat to live but,
not at this man’s expense.

This man has a family
depending on his store.
Now they’ll have to miss a meal,
though the thief missed many more.

Stealing is always wrong.
I know this much is true.
But I can’t help but wonder
what I, or you, would do?

Fiction

Writer’s Life (Sample)


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He always fancied himself a writer, despite never publishing a single word. He used it as a conversation piece, especially with the ladies. When they’d ask if they’ve ever read anything he might have written, his charming wit would reply, “Funny, you don’t strike me as the reading type.” They’d lightly push or punch him while laughing, clearly smitten, and he’d once again escape having to admit to himself, or anyone else, that he is in fact, a fraud.

It wasn’t always this way. His fear of rejection kept him from submitting anywhere, but the pen used to move quite fluidly, almost rhythmically on the page, like a fine tipped waltz. That was before, back when his choices were simple. Whiskey or beer tonight? He’d smile, knowing the answer was both. There was something about liquor and ink that felt like home. Time would pass, or stand still; he couldn’t tell the difference. It wasn’t love, oh no, it was much more intense. It was like cold blooded murder, but one where the victim was the killer. The pen would taunt the bottle, demanding a suicide pact, but refusing to go first. When the time came, they’d bleed out onto the paper, and what was left was new life. The man that woke up the next morning was not the same one who died the night before. The only proof of his existence was an empty bottle or two, some pens, and a new chapter of his latest work that he’d be excited to read, as if for the first time.

That all stopped the day he quit. Quit drinking and writing. One couldn’t without the other. The writing went first. The moment finally came when he knew that he’d have to get published or give up. He couldn’t bare writing for no one any longer. Tomorrow turned into tomorrow, again and again, and when the ink ran out that last time, he didn’t buy another pen. It wouldn’t be long before the paper became a place mat for TV dinners and stuff, eventually getting lost under a mound of unopened mail.

The drinking was a way to pass the time. The binging was to forget it altogether. When he finally realized that he was in a hole, it was too deep to climb out. Pride wouldn’t ask for help, so he did the only thing he could, and that is pretend that he likes it there. He turned that hole into quite the nest. He would go out and socialize, and those around him believed him to be truly happy. Some envied his freedom and wished that they could live the life of a writer.

“What I would give to be able to sip whiskey by the fire while working on my latest novel.”

“Yea, life is pretty grand.” He’d say, believing it to be true in the moment. The problem with moments is that they end. Eventually he’d go home and see that he didn’t even have a fire place. The novel was long gone, and the whiskey was some cheap knock off brand. “This” he quietly said aloud, “This is the life of a writer.”