Autumn is the middle child of the family of seasons. Autumn doesn’t get the attention of summer. Neither does she get the flattery and glamour of winter. Autumn is shadowy, as if she knows she is the unwanted child of an affair between earth and its axis-tilt. Maybe that’s why autumn perpetrates a social amnesia. She often puts a beatific expression on her face, eyes almost closed, and head tilted towards the shoulder.

Being the middle child is usually not very easy. It comes with some stigma. Middle children are more misunderstood because they’re curious and portray attributes of a loner. Middle children are often shy because they have learned to let those who desperately seek the spotlight, just have it. They often become impatient quickly simply because they expect to be the last one to get what they want. Many middle children end up being rather uptight assholes as adults … ehem.

But all of these facts shouldn’t cause clinging to a point of view, as though everything depends on it. Like summer and winter, autumn gradually passes away, too. At the end, there is an unexpected warmth in the gestures of Autumn stemming from her sheer display of affection.

Autumn creates a luster in the sky which is not seen or felt in summer or winter. This season of retrospection is fashioned for lovers and strangers.

Leave No Ass Behind

Donkeys are domesticated members of horse family. In certain regions of the world we see donkeys among men and women. Ass, is another name for donkey. There is an estimate that there are more than 46 million asses in the world, mostly in underdeveloped countries. There are many asses in the US as well.

A male donkey or ass is called a jack. Jenny or jennet is the name of a female donkey. Jack donkeys are used to mate with female horses to produce jackasses or mules.

It was around eighteen century when the word donkey gradually replaced ass, and jenny replaced she-ass.A she-ass is non-emotional and lazy. A she-ass is normally pregnant for twelve months. She-asses rarely give birth to twins and they dismiss jackasses for a long time after their pregnancy period is over. But jackasses still manage to fuck she-asses every once in a while.

The ass is not a kosher or halal animal. So they can’t be eaten in some countries. In Abrahamic religions, if an ass pass in front of men in prayer, men’s prayer is voided. Jesus!

Asses have an unbelievable reputation for stubbornness and stupidity across many cultures. There aren’t many studies about behavioral aspects of asses mainly because asses pose a strong sense of self-preservation by quietly eating shit around the corner. No one knows what the fuck asses are up to behind the barn. That’s why domesticated asses could turn into wild asses.

There is a charity in Britain called “Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land”. The main cause for the charity is to make sure no ass is left behind. There was a rumor flying around that the charity has been able to raise no more than $1,500 in sixteen years. If true, it seems generous and kind-hearted people don’t give much of a fuck about asses.

Eat No Vegetables

I have been spending the past several months traveling for variety of mundane reasons. Airport. Flying. Hotel. Go to bed early for whatever that’s planned on the next day. Go through the next day. Back to the hotel. Work out. Go to bed early for the next day. Fly back. And then again, and again.

During long flights everything hurts. Calf, muscles, and a toe that refuses to warm up. The day of the flight becomes a day when the most creative thing you can do is to come up with an essay that’s an unoriginal form of pensive confusion.

A couple of days ago, I met with a friend who asked how I cope with the intensity and boredom of long flights. I thought I’d share a few points on how I make the mundane experience bearable. So here it goes:

(1) Take a Window Seat
Fuck more legroom and the ease of moving around. Take a window seat. Work your curiosity and imagination by looking out the window. Take control of the window shade and look how the plane bullets through the flirting clouds. Be that stern-looking asshole that keeps the shade open while other people watch those gummy in-flight chick flicks.

(2) Podcasts
Listen to a few podcasts as appose to getting frustrated by listening to the guy who looks like colonel Sanders sitting next to you. He just returned from a successful sales pitch. He keeps downing Jacks and collapsing back onto your shoulders.

(3) Have a heart-wrenching topic to ponder on
For instance, during one of the flights from NY, I started thinking about my friend Nedi as soon as the flight took off. I met Nedi a few years ago. Young, tall, handsome and in his twenties. Full of energy. The life of his parents’ lifelike party. He had a life story that asks a lot questions.

As soon as the flight reaches 10K altitude, I usually experience turbulence as the plane goes through the rough air. The flight attendant asks me for my drink of choice with a gum-chewing dismissal. Colonel Sanders is on his third whiskey.

I look out the window and remember an article I had read long ago -that argues the cruelty of capital punishment in Japan. The possibility that an innocent person may have spent more than decades in prison is not the only reason why the issue attracted attention. In Japan, death row prisoners are locked away in solitary confinement, banned from talking to other inmates and permitted just two or three exercise periods a week.

All of those rules are pretty common but the article argues that the worst is the uncertainty. Condemned men learn of the timing of their death only hours before they are led away to the gallows. Their families are informed only after the fact. “Each day could be their last, and the arrival of a prison officer with a death warrant would signal their execution within hours,” the report says. The article asserts that the mental anguish of not knowing whether each day is to be your last is the cruel punishment.

I read the article many times. But I could never quite grasp what the fuss was about on the point of cruelty. I thought to myself: Japanese death row inmates are just like me. Each day could be my last day, too. Each day could be anyone’s last day. If that’s cruel, then the Japanese death row inmates, and us, are all in the same boat with one key difference: the inmates expect to die every day. We don’t. Which one is crueler?

Nedi passed away a few days ago at age 25. He knew where his ordeal of a life was headed as soon as his illness surfaced three years ago. Nedi’s diagnosis-paper handed over by his doctor was like the death warrant handed over by the prison officer. Though, Nedi’s case continues to be heart wrenching and confusing.

You witness these things as you grow older and you want to make sense of it. You play with notions like the one that suggests it was an unlucky gene. But luck, as they say, is the residue of design. Okay, luck may be the residue of design, but life and nature dictate unexpected scenarios, which overkill skill, practice, science, considered judgment, and normal response. If there is a lesson in Nedi’s life scenario, I fail to find it. I sheepishly take refuge in realizing that aging only presents us with additional choices to which there are no answers.

At this point of my thought cycle the plane has reached the cruising altitude. The flight attendant’s attitude towards colonel Sanders comes around like “You’re drunk and fully fed, so shut up and enjoy the rest of the flight”. At 35K altitude, one might feel a bit closer to god.

The Jewish sages discussed whether to be born or not. They agreed it would be better not to be born. But now that you are born, you should enjoy it. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Then, there are the Greeks. The Greeks tried to make sense of death by conveying that the Greek Gods are a band of perpetual adolescents, who may enjoy life perpetually at ease. Those gods can afford to be immature because they live forever and have time to mend broken relationships, or correct mistakes. Humans have no such luxury according to the ancient Greeks. Our time is borrowed. If we are cruel to others the effect could be permanent. Hence, death comes at the time of mature relationships and the absolute absence of meanness and cruelty. I’m thinking that’s a cute idea because it feels good. Fucking Greeks! They have managed to find an answer for every tough question.

The flight slowly descends to northern California. I can now see a few big buildings with large signs at the top. It’s the northeastern stretch of Silicon Valley between San Francisco and Sacramento. No clouds.

I immediately fall into that one dimension that the current generation of people in their sixties and seventies may be the last cohort of humans for whom death is absolutely unavoidable. While such thoughts are fantastical to many, leading scientists are convinced that we are on the threshold of stopping the aging process and curing terminal diseases. And, some of them speak as if aging is a disease. According to them, mortality as a great leveler and equalizer may be coming to the end of its insurmountable rule.

These weird thought go through my head over and over during the long flight that’s almost over as we reach the 10K ft. Colonel Sanders has stopped snoring.

4. Eat no vegetables
Eat no vegetables during long flights. Too gassy.


Micah is respected for his intellect having been a professional writer for a long time. He’s equally reviled for at times coming across as arrogant, cold, and aloof. He is never known for his warmth, and his persona certainly would not lend itself to today’s touchy-feely era of screen-time. Nonetheless, he is the most prolific writer that portrays all indications of deep confidence and inner-piece.

So far in my adult life, I’ve never managed to grasp the main point of each decade until long after it was over. This is yet another indication of my slowness in grasping the full picture of one’s real persona. The realization has nothing to do with my deep admiration for writers.

Tara’s Weeks

Tara is a thirty something years old woman who lives in a city at sea level. She works very hard on Mondays and Tuesdays to solve the problems of Fridays and Saturdays. During the week she relentlessly works out. The pictures of her workout sessions get many ‘like’s from those she meets on weekends. Her body is a temple on weekdays and it becomes an amusement park during weekends. She neurotically follows every event as if there is a party train out there that tends to leave her behind at every stop.

One a Saturday night, Tara texted me and asked for help. I showed up. Only, to find out that the problem was a boring party. I took the ordeal as a complement because that means I can still revive the boredom of a party girl. We hung out for a few hours and towards the end of the night she asked me if I had any advice for her. Right there, I noticed a moment of introspection caused by boredom, which is the very nature of first world problems.

I love neuroticism. It is that fundamental personality trait that never disappoints to entertain. The feelings of anxiety, envy, and phobia are the basis of Shakespearean tales. Neurotics founded the religions, arts, and formed enlightenments that have survived the test of time. The world will never know what it owes to neurotics or how much they had to suffer to give what they have.

On that Saturday, I strayed away from giving any advice. Not that I had any or I’m qualified for it. I actually really like Tara, but as a person who’s gone through that stage of life, I felt it’d be boring to take away the excitement of witnessing someone else’s boredom. The fervor of sharing a few words never left me though. If I had to really share a thought, I’d tell her that we were put on earth for reasons other than fucking. Then again, Tara belongs to that splendid family of neurotics which is the salt of the earth.

The Club of the Unloved

In an ancient tale/play of, Tristan and Yseult, king Mark rules with his head until he falls in love for his enemy’s sister. The story revels in forbidden desires, broken hearts, grand passion and tender truth. Meanwhile, a band plays in the club of the unloved high above the stage as the story unfolds. In this play, there are both loved and unloved characters, who regard the emotional pyrotechnics with awe, envy, and relief. As in life, the voyeurs are in the majority who take comfort for the realization that they also serve as execrators of the tale.

Living alone is one of the least discussed, and sadly, poorly understood forms of living. We worry about friends and family members who haven’t found the right person, even if they insist that they’re happy. We struggle to support elderly parents and grandparents who find themselves living alone, and we are puzzled about what to do if they tell us they prefer to remain alone. In all these situations, living alone is something that each person experiences as the most private of matters.

On rare occasions of public debate, commentators tend to present living-alone as a social-problem, a sign of narcissism, fragmentation of human spirit, and diminished family life. These preconceived notions tend to frame the lifestyle of living-alone as an overly simplified choice between a romanticized version of Revolutionary Road and glamorous enticements of Sex and the City.

In 1950, only 22 percent of American adults were single. Today, more than 50 percent of American adults are single. That means: about 17 million women and 14 million men don’t have a date tonight. Contemporary solo dwellers are primarily women with a ratio of 1.2 women for each man.

The rise of living alone has been a transformation of norms and social experiences. This lifestyle changes the way we understand ourselves. It alters the way we become adults, as well as how we age and the way we die. This religion of self-reliance embodies self-sufficiency at its core. We have embarked on this experiment because we believe it serves a purpose. Living alone helps us pursue sacred dreams, personal control, and more importantly self-realization. These are exactly the traits that we need to reconnect with others –by choice.

Love and marriage are healthy and noble notions. Couples live longer. They have more sex in missionary position. Couples couple up and go to restaurants together. During dinner, they discuss highway routes to work. After dinner they chat up with waitresses and ask about the tea and its ingredients. Waitresses explain that there is water in the tea. It is all a very communal and pleasant form of life. But love and marriage isn’t for everyone. Single individuals are kinder. They volunteer 33% more than couples. They listen more actively and are more attentive to their friends.

Surely, king Mark enjoyed his love for his enemy’s sister more than the time I spent writing about king Mark. Though, in this club of the unloved I play my own music and cheer for the grand notion of love. Some of us choose to be vegetarians, and bacon continues to smell delicious to the rest.

Duck Lips

The main function of lips is to suck. This skill comes at birth as a primitive reflex -and it is fundamental to our survival. Via the means of evolution, babies are now born knowing how to suck and no learning of any sort is required. Lips, the hypersensitive pinky tissue is the main (visibly) entrance to human’s body. Albeit, lips serve some other functions such as: food intake, drool prevention, speech, and playing musical instruments. Lips also have a considerable impact on beauty and visual aspects of the face.

In the past few years, we have found a new function for lips: The Duck Lips pose. Often, when I closely look at poses in pictures, I detect a new trend: people stick their lips out in a fashion that looks like duck’s beak. This photographic expression enhances cheekbones and causes pooched-out lips and sucked-in cheeks. In this pose, the body is usually positioned at 45 degree, the arm closest to the camera is placed on the hip, one foot is slightly in front of the other, the toe of the front foot is pointed towards the camera, and the weight is placed on the back leg.

I’m not a style-caster, but honestly, some people look good with this pose in pictures. Out of curiosity, I tried to find out how the duck-lips pose burst out into pictures. Apparently, this pose became very popular after broad publication of pictures from Ashley Dupre’s, Eliot Spitzer’s mistress.

Models and other imaginary creatures have always exaggerated facial gymnastics in the name of fashion or entertainment. That’s fair game and to a large degree necessary with any notion that has to do with creativity and imagination. Nevertheless, let’s try not to out-suck the main sucker.

Playing Violin for Maple Trees

Several years ago, I was traveling from Genoa to Bologna and I happened to drive through a city on the north bank of Po river called Cremona. Like many other medieval cities in Italy, time seemed to have stood still in Cremona. No tourists, no fuss, and no urban commotion of any kind. It seemed life was flowing through the city with the rhythm of pedestrians and bicyclists.

It only took me a few minutes of walking around the main street to realize that Cremona is actually famous for one unique reason: violin craftsmanship. It is a highly celebrated profession for its traditional process of fashioning and restoring violins, violas, cellos, and contrabasses. Violinmakers from all around the world go to Cremona to attend a specialized school, based on a close teacher-pupil relationship, before being recruited to local workshops. It is believed the violin is invented in Cremona, not just because of the local mastery in craftsmanship, but also because of the rituals that construct the rhythm of the environment. Cremona’s citizens cherish this culture because it plays a fundamental role in their social fabric. They believe the process of making perfect music requires (a) an instrument (b) craftsmanship and (c) rituals. To Cremonese, a Viola is merely a tool to produce a perfect sound. They believe the joy comes from listening to the sound, and not from the Viola itself.

These craftsmen also go a long way to make sure they have perfected the art of making well-sounding instruments. They make the instrument from local woods, which is mostly maple. They believe the acoustic quality of the local wood is unmatched. They cut the trees in the right season and in the right way. And, one more thing: during fall the violinmakers take turn to play violin for the trees for hours. They believe such ritual changes the acoustic tone of the wood. The actual making of the violin only takes a few months, but the whole process starts from the time the tree is planted. The ritual of playing violin for the trees has to do with the belief that: it’s best to put the violinist’s soul into the root of the instrument.

Every emotional quest simulates the same pattern of requiring an instrument, craft, and ritual. When it comes to relationship between human beings, feelings are merely an instrument. Notions like respect and trust are the craft. The element (ritual) that glues it all together has to do with the ability to be altruistic and benevolent. To some, these concepts seem as ridiculous as playing violin for maple trees. So they laugh at such notions not only because these meanings seem unusual, traditional, and strange –but also because ordinary minds disappoint to reconcile present hardship with future rewards. Every emotional quest needs a part of the violinist’s soul.

Teacher’s Pet

A lifelong friend of mine, Kai, owns a market corner in my heart. For as far as I can remember, he has been a pure and impeccable human being. A few weeks ago, he called me to share that his decade old relationship had gone through a crisis, and though everything is now back to normal, he struggles to feel the relationship in the same way.

Kai never got to be a dumb kid. Dumb maybe, but never a kid. Everyone called him a “little grownup” and he was so proud of that: being good and following the rules. He was so faultless that he ended up being a teacher’s pet. But then he grew up to be an adult, and there was no teacher to please. That’s why he made up some idea of what people expect from a noble man. Making a nice home and raising well-behaved kids … not making waves … not making troubles, and keeping his voice down. And he went along with that wanting to keep on being good. He mostly stayed quite. So quiet that he forgot the sound of his own voice. People almost forgot that he was there. His wife forgot he was there.

Years passed in the same manner more or less. Through a series of social interactions, Kai found Gemma who didn’t like him very much. Gemma didn’t consider Kai to be kind or good. And Kai went along with it. But he struggled with this thing he’s been afraid of all along. The fear that someone would think less or ill of him. Then oddly, he found Gemma’s ill-feeling towards him to be a relief. At least someone saw him. Someone didn’t think he was invisible. Jumbled and unsettled, he no longer knew where he stood with Gemma and their dry fling dissolved.

Kai’s happily-ever-after project resumes. But it doesn’t resume on the same terms. He got to sense what it means to be perceived as imperfect. Though he has patched the relationship together, the patches show.

Making a Splash


I used to feel bad that I didn’t use my potential to try to cure cancer. Then I realized that with the selfie culture I’m growing up in, at best, I would have been an assistant to someone curing cancer … hey at least we’re Making a Splash with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.