—rumors of my demise have only been slightly exaggerated—

Though the word carries a certain social stigma, the idea of ‘drama’ is as fascinating as it is tragic.

When fear or pain is so internally overwhelming that a person can struggle to process it—that there is an additional external component to consider, the potential of feeling shame for simply attempting to express it … it becomes a complex maze of paranoia and alienation, and quickly heads toward an outward action that simply is an attempt to ostensibly balance internal paralysis.

It’s been a rough few days, weeks, months. Years. There have been times where it felt like a gravitational pull, or at least a light ahead, was directing my stride. Now everything is thick and gray—a sullen fog ahead, a sickly field of ash behind.

Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, something I’ve been told I’ve had a flair for in the past.

February is objectively the worst month of the year. The days are still short, the nights are still cold. There’s one invented holiday at the beginning where people pin their hopes for the end of dreariness on a magic weasel. Then there’s another invented holiday in the middle where half of the people feel guilty about the relationship they’re in the other half feels ashamed for not being in one. All just to sell greeting cards and candy.

Ironically, the only benefit of February is that it’s over as soon as possible—yet it somehow constitutes a ‘month’ despite having an inconsistent amount of days that are always fewer than 30. Rent, however, still costs the same.

Then it ends, and it’s still just fucking March.

The only thing I really miss about living in San Francisco is the weather. The microclimate of the Bay Area meant the weather could really be anything on any given morning and be something completely different by afternoon. It felt like the weather really didn’t know what it was, or what it wanted to be. Its honesty was in its ambiguity. Its nature was steadiness through flexibility. I could really relate to that. (The rest of what life was like in SF, not so much.)

Los Angeles is a different beast. For the most part, it is one thing and one thing only. The blue sky is direct and determined. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why people here are so confident in their ambitions. Like the consistency of the weather reinforces the consistency of their nature; that the fleeting expressions of seasonal fashion or temporary gigs matches up with all the molting billboards and leased cars. Meanwhile, at the core of it all, is a certainty of the self. A, ‘The rest be damned, this is who I am,’ lease on life. A sentiment where only an earthquake will change anything.

It’s a difficult puzzle to try and fit in to—the type where people compete with one another to sell scripts or go viral not because they have something to actually say, but just because they want to ‘make it.’ Watching the idea of creativity become nothing more than a horse race for material success and not a meaningful cultural dialogue is grotesque, and the constant sun makes it feel almost like the Gods are rewarding such behavior.

One thing is for sure: there is a climate crisis in this world, and it’s not just about the weather.

BuzzFeed announced it was going to introduce Artificial Intelligence to create more content this year. An AI won an art contest last year. It’s just another day in America.

It doesn’t really disturb me that business-types will increasingly turn to technology to replace creatives, because creativity and business has always been a tenuous relationship at best. Of course nobody in America would want to pay artists, because in a consumer society, art is a product and not a language—the way people are commodities and not compatriots.

The difference between art made by a person and by a machine comes down to what any individual believes what art is, and why it exists. If art is just glorified wallpaper or a form of entertainment meant to provide a service for the consumer to pass the time with, sure it doesn’t matter how or why it was created. But if art is believed to be related to the core of what it means to be a human, it matters very much. In capitalist society, humanism is an afterthought to profits and material success, so of course the idea behind a piece of art is disposable.

To me, this isn’t a fight worth getting involved in because the details are representative of a much large issue: our society is built around the foundation that people are more important to consider as statistics rather than human beings. It’s why our healthcare is fucked, it’s why our politics are corrupt, it’s why poverty and homelessness appear on every street. If the very basis of our learning in the United States is that our peers are competition and our nature is consumption, then of course our art will be handed over to a machine programmed to produce thoughtless aesthetics.

An AI can be an interesting tool for a person to use, but given the results of mass acceptance of social media and allowing corporate technology dictate our personal lives and communication, it’s hard to imagine anything positive coming from doing the same with the essence of humanity—our creativity.

It’s been an exhausting week. For whatever reason, I’m reminding myself that most songs are lies, just made-up stories set to a melody. There was once a time I took everything at face-value. My naivete blinded me to the strings attached to phrases like, I love you.

The police are the problem. We’ll have protests. Politicians will publish press releases, more dead bodies will line the streets over time. People talk about another Civil War as if it’d be just a sequel to The Blue and The Gray. The optics of expectations are what is keeping the majority from seeing we’re already in it.

It’s impossible to explain sobriety to someone who doesn’t deal with an addiction, all the ways it can affect any given thought at any time of any day, forever. I’ve wondered if this is part of how it’s always been so easy for me to see the way capitalism is killing us all—the way an alcoholic prioritizes a drink above all else, the United States prioritizes capital, regardless of the circumstance and no matter the consequence.

The mind can be a horrifying maze. The worst memories are the ones that only take place while imagining a better future that will never come to pass. Refracted light decorating the table settings, orange ashtray holding a half-smoked cigarette. A half-second of eye contact tells a thousand lifetimes worth of stories. All songwriters are liars, I think to myself, in the moment, looking at a painting on my wall.

I had a $100 bill on my shelf and one, or perhaps both, of my cats seems to have gotten a hold of it and I have no clue where it has gone or what shape it is in. Who the fuck gets robbed by a cat on a Friday afternoon?