All posts by mike

I'm Michael James Schneider, and I create. I'm an interior designer, an artist, a writer, and I do theatrical design. Lots of people tell me I'm great at everything. These people usually turn out to be liars. Please lower your expectations and follow me on Intragram and Vine (@BLCKSMTH), and on Twitter (@BLCKSMTHdesign).

Ray of Light

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You are afraid of the sound of your own heart.

You whispered this over dinner, a secret you had only told a few men in your life. You would wake suddenly when your head was sideways on the pillow, you would hike with your headphones in and rip them out when, in between songs, the timpani of your pulse would pound in your ears. It’s not the sound, you explained to him, it’s the fear of it suddenly stopping. You’re afraid you will hear the moment your heart just stops.

You explain this to him, you drop it like a cat dropping a dead bird at his feet. This is what you do, you play the clown so often you may as well have a red foam nose. Maybe he laughs. Maybe he nods solemnly, understanding completely. This beautiful bearded one tilts his head, his lips purse. It is not you, you say to yourself, and offer to get him another beer when you get up. “I’m not good at giving compliments” he says later, handing you the most beautiful red flag you have ever seen. This cruelty is a kindness. Continue reading Ray of Light

The Compassion Crisis

 

I made my first YouTube video! Wow I’m only like, 10 years behind the trend. In this video, I talk about the “empathy void” we seem to have found ourselves in lately, and what we can do about it in the future. Please take a look, and let me know what you think. The transcript of the video is below the jump. Continue reading The Compassion Crisis

A Better Version of Me

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I’m slogging through the holidays, like I do every year. They’re a combination of sweet and hectic: this is my busy season at my day job, and it makes December rush by in a blur. It’s colder than usual, so cold that when I walk and fart I’m scared people walking behind me can see it billowing out, a beautiful white cumulus smelling of my colon that expands forever, slowly engulfing Portland. I’m lonely, too. All I really want is a boyfriend for the winter I can cut open like a TaunTaun and nestle inside wait not that.

I spot the guy on social media, he is my type, maybe even My Type: tiny. Bearded. Professional. We hit it off, follow the steps, I follow the  script to the tee. “Super handsome, how’s your week? I’m Mike.” “Wanna get off this app? I don’t get notifications, text is easier for me.” “Want to grab grub sometime? I promise I’m not a psycho.” The joke is on him, because I am actually a raging psycho. I make sure he is truly single: the hot trend is guys on social media who are in super committed relationships who pretend to be single online just to be more popular. Continue reading A Better Version of Me

Making Spirits Bright

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So a busy day turns into a busy week, and then a busy week turns into two, into three. And then you realize that you’ve forgotten to tell your readers that you’re taking your usual December off to recharge and focus on friends and work, and that you’ll be back in January and that there are really great things in the works for the BLCKSMTH blog. So then you finally do tell them this, a couple days before the New Year.

A sincere Happy New Year from Ned and I, and it’s my wish that 2017 is a better one than this year. Onward and upward!

How to be Okay

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Set the story in the winter of 2015, in Portland. You will have just been broken up with by a dude you were bonkers in love with, in a way that rattled you to your core. Go grocery shopping, feel it coming on, leave the grocery store before you burst into tears on the way home. Think to yourself, Can we all agree that grocery stores should not play slow, sad Christmas songs any fucking more, please? Or at least have a trigger warning beforehand? Imagine it like that, fully: a red and green-striped rotating light descends from the grocery store ceiling, spins silently. Shoppers look up: some keep shopping but others abandon their carts, drop their baskets. Eggs shatter, a ball of iceberg lettuce rolls down the aisle as they leave the store in a row: the lonely old cat lady in her housecoat, the gutter punk in the pleather jacket, the middle aged bearded gay man wiping back his tears. Behind them, the beginning strains of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” start playing in Safeway. Continue reading How to be Okay

On the Pulse of Mourning

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You wake up the next morning, Wednesday morning, and you hope it has been a nightmare. The rain falls outside in the black Oregon morning like tears and you realize it was not a dream. You log into social media and see the grief, the fear, and occasional glib comments, the jokes about moving to Canada. There is little uglier than the gloating of uneducated white people when their side wins.

How did we get here? you think to yourself. I thought this was locked down. But that’s it, isn’t it? You had been living in an insulated bubble for so long with like-minded friends whose values were the same. You lived in Los Angeles for 12 years before Portland, and now having been in Portland for 3 1/2 years; it has been easy to think that the rest of the country could see through the charlatan peddling snake oil. Hell, it appeared sometimes like even he was incredulous about his odds, that he was there just to symbolically show everyone how ridiculous the system was. On election day, you went to work with confidence bordering on hubris. That evening, as you headed to a bar to meet friends to watch the results, you stared at your phone with a creeping dread and disbelief. Continue reading On the Pulse of Mourning