Last Sunday I was sitting around trying to force my way through another one of my Morrowind fanfiction chapters. The goal I had this year was to post a single chapter weekly, on Sunday, and at the time I thought there was no downside to it. Sure, there’d be work, but bullshitting a chapter every seven days would be easy. I wouldn’t have to put much effort into creativity — the universe of The Elder Scrolls series is already created — and surely I could rake in hundreds and maybe thousands of views on Wattpad. It’d become accustomed to having a goal, a schedule, and writing without endlessly waiting for ‘inspiration.’ There was no downside to it, and plenty of upside.
I wrote a few paragraphs and the chapter seemed to be off to a good enough start, but after 30 minutes I hit a wall. I wasn’t into it, I wasn’t inspired, and it seemed like a chore. With only a few hours until midnight I’d have to finish it somehow, but shut the computer off to think about what I wanted to write. Ya know, take an hour or so break and plot my next few paragraphs.
I didn’t figure out a damn thing. I gave up, went to bed, and would worry about it later.
I’ve been slacking on the story for quite awhile, maybe posting only a chapter every two or three weeks instead of weekly. It almost feels like I’m trying to keep something alive that is obviously dying. So much effort and worry for almost no progress. Limping along trying to accomplish something worth accomplishing.
Views. As shitty of a metric as it is, it’s the main way you can tell if anyone is reading what you’re pouring effort into. It’s the little reward that tells us writers if anyone actually gives a damn about our projects. I have a journal .doc and write random thoughts to clear my mind, but anything that is published on the internet is meant to be read by others. And if it’s not, what’s the point of even posting?
I currently have 244 total views on the Morrowind story. Sometimes it ranks in the top ten in the Morrowind category out of 110, but if no one reads the category much, who cares? Also consider this has been going on for roughly 35 weeks: 7 views a week. I’ve posted 29 chapters: 8.4 views per chapter. Those are some depressing numbers.
Making this even more depressing is the fact that most of my early chapters have the most views, especially the first chapter. The first chapter alone had 64 views, 25% of the total. The second chapter, 40, and so on as it exponentially declines toward zero. The newest chapters rake in only one or two views. This tells me people might read the first bit of the story and there is nothing to hook them into reading more. It’s boring. It starts slow. And this probably isn’t how you should play the fanfiction game.
I was bored enough to day to plot out my views per chapter in Google Sheets. It’s a nice visual aid to what I am describing.
It’s also interesting to see that I might have four or five actual fans that consistently read what I post. It’s also interesting to see a few peaks here and there where I net about ten views per chapter. I wonder if deactivating my Facebook has anything to do with this? I wonder how many readers came from Facebook?
I started to believe there is no upside to continue the story while there are a ton of downsides. It’s a timesink. It isn’t fun. It isn’t fulfilling. I feel the same dread on the weekends from the story as going to dentist. For what exactly? So three or four people can read it? What is the end goal to all of this? If I finish it in a year or two, what will I have to show for it? Will it benefit me at all? No, probably not. I see almost no way continuing this can get me any closer to my writing goals as nebulous as they are in the first place.
So, yeah, I’m done. Let’s try to make this somewhat positive. Failing. I feel like a failure, naturally. But if you browse the Get Motivated! subreddit, you might be aware that if you don’t fail, you’re not trying (which is apparently a Jillian Michaels quote, huh). No one slips into success on their first attempt. Success means failing over and over and discovering what works and what doesn’t, and one of the real tragedies is hanging out in a failing endeavour wasting time and effort to force success. Like a business owner going deep into debt to make it work despite having no customers or success. We have to realize our finite ability to deal with shit and hold onto one of our most important, and limited, traits: motivation.
Failing isn’t bad. Giving up isn’t bad. As long as you continue to fail upwards towards something better.
Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.
Do you know what I’m going to bitch about here? Taxes. Yes, taxes. I might bitch about social media propaganda as well. Yay, right? Taxes, that thing that is as inevitable as death, the thing that got Al Capone tossed in jail because he avoided paying taxes, that thing that stresses everyone out at the beginning of each year because no one understands the US’s complicated and intricate tax law. Taxes. Yay.
I thought I had a good segue lined up here, but I don’t. Anyways, lately on Instagram I keep seeing sponsored posts like this one. Something about Stop the Illinois Tax Hike Amendment. First off, this is unsettling because a few months ago I jumped ship from Facebook to get away from all the political shitposting/propaganda only to be greeted by this on Instagram. Luckily, this does seem isolated and for the most part Instagram is what you’d expect it to be; people posting pictures. Facebook has totally devolved into a political shit-tossing dump and even if it’s useful 10% of the time, the other 90% consists of people posting politically motivated shit in bad-faith arguments to ‘convince others’ about something that’s usually so dumbed down and logically flawed that it’s hard not to comment something picking it apart. Then the winds of shit really start blowing, Rand.
This Instagram image done got me all hyped up and pissy. Why? A bunch of reasons. The use of ‘trigger terms’ to make you think one thing. The poor old lady not wanting to pay more taxes. Something about “new powers to tax anyone at will.” Okay. The first thing about whatever this ad is trying to push is that it sounds too terrifying. No one wants higher taxes, duh, so why wouldn’t we all vote ‘no’ on whatever amendment it’s talking about? Hell, why did the Illinois State even put something so obviously dumb on the ballot for November when it’ll obviously be shot down by 90% of voters?
Oh wait, it’s because this image is flat-out propaganda sponsored by those who don’t want this amendment to pass, likely rich-ass Illinoisans. What does this amendment actually do?
Illinois, the state I reside in, has a simple flat income tax of 4.95%. Everyone is taxed at this rate no matter their income. I must admit it’s nice come tax time — you subtract any deductions, bust out a calculator, multiply your taxable income by 4.95% and, bam, there’s your tax rate — but this flat rate seems strange. If you look at the federal income tax, it’s a graduated tax, meaning the tax rate depends on your income, while our state has a flat rate. According to Ballotpedia, 11 other states have a flat income tax rate. Hmmm, that’s a strangely low number.
Speaking of Ballotpedia, they have a ton of information on this proposed amendment and if you’re a curious Illinois resident, check it out, do some research. It’s also interesting to see how the two sides speak about this amendment. The supporters, mostly democrats, have a PAC named “Vote Yes for Fair Tax,” while the oppositions, republicans and farmers, have PACs named “Say No to More Taxes” and “Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike.” Notice how one side claims ‘fairness’ while the other side claims ‘higher taxes.’ These are two totally different arguments. Will this amendment raise taxes? Maybe. Is it fair? Maybe. But these aren’t mutually exclusive.
Here’s a photo of the actual sample ballot and question regarding the proposed amendment. Surprisingly, it does a good job explaining what the hell the amendment actually does.
All this does is eliminate the requirement for a flat tax rate in the Illinois constitution. Is that fair? I don’t know, that depends on your view of taxation, but most other states do it this way. Is it going to raise taxes? Yeah, probably, but you’d also assume people with higher incomes, like really high incomes, are going to be taxed to death by Illinois while lower income households might see a small or moderate decrease. Is this good or bad? Well, it depends on what you think is good and bad.
My point here is that this is a subtle thing being voted on in a few months. It’s not the clear cut and dry “higher taxes!” that whatever PAC plopped this fucking ad up on Instagram is claiming. In my opinion the ‘fairness’ argument is a bit better because most people probably do feel that higher income households should pay more, but whatever. I was going to talk about that here, but that seems like it’d just make this an even messier rant. Maybe another time.
In a way this singular ad is representative of what is wrong with our current politics. An ad, one shitty ad on social media funded by people with money, can make people believe one thing when it is nowhere near true or accurate. They toss out a few trigger terms and bad words like ‘higher’ and ‘taxes’ and people immediately foam at the mouth, forming opinions from biases without even looking deeper than their Instagram/Facebook feed. That’s it. They’ll walk into the polling station, vote ‘no,’ possibly against their own benefit, just because something told them that “voting yes” will mean their taxes will go up. Like Billy Bob making $20k a year is going to be taxed at the same 20% that multimillionaires will be taxed at. No, probably not. But he didn’t do any goddamn research and follows right along with what is being spoon-fed to him by people that actually have reason to oppose the amendment.
My entire point is “Don’t be an ignorant voter.” When you see a political ad on social media or anywhere that claims something fucking ridiculously awful, look into it. Honestly I had no idea what this tax amendment was until I saw a ‘vote no on higher taxes’ ad and looked into it. Was Illinois trying to raise taxes? Was it really called “The Tax Hike Amendment?” No one would be that stupid to raise taxes with an amendment named that. When I found the actual proposal, I found nothing wrong with it. “Hey, wait, this is to eliminate the flat-tax rate. Fuck, I like that idea!” I’ve been telling everyone I know what the amendment does and suggesting they vote ‘yes’ on it. I guess that’s the end of my rant. Just don’t be a fucking troglodyte and do your fucking homework. Things you vote on do have real consequences, so go to the voting place knowing something. Don’t see the word ‘tax’ and vote no just because ‘tax’ is a scary word. Don’t think everyone in the government is trying to pilfer your wallet (but be wary at all times!). Don’t let social media sway your goddamn opinions. Google things, read about them, learn a little about taxes, fucking educate yourself.
Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.
Last Monday, Labor Day, was a beautiful day. I was running low on vape juice and pods, and went to the local vape shop to buy some more. I even made it to Hobby Lobby to buy some glue for a model rocket that I’m building. It was a gorgeous day and seemed to be the idyllic late-summer day with the temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s and comfortable humidity. It was a nice change after the prior week with heat indexes nearing 100 degrees, a perfect day to have off work as well.
But looking back I realize this was the last time I had seen the sun. Seriously. Over the past week I haven’t caught a glimpse of the nearest star to us, the one that supports nearly all life on earth. In a way it feels like I’ve been cut off from the very thing that gives me energy to live. Literally.
I kinda miss it too. On Labor Day, after the hellishly sunny and hot month of August, I was looking forward to one of those dreary, rainy, and lethargic days. I was sick of the heat, the humidity, and the dead brown yards throughout the city. I was sick of driving around in our Honda Civic with AC that barely worked while the Focus was being repaired. I was sick of being cooped up inside because it was too miserable to be outside longer than it took to grab the mail. I work outside as well and this is it’s own special hell in the summer. To hell with it all, fuck summer, and could we please have some rain just to change things up a bit?
Be careful what you wish for.
My job assignment last week was my least favorite job, but somehow I was able to weasel my way out of it. I was put on one of my favorite jobs: driving the cargo loader, the big machine that lifts/lowers containers of packages out/into large cargo aircraft. I like the job because it’s one of the most important jobs at UPS. If you’re terrible at it, everyone hates you and talks shit about you, and you can even cause the planes to depart late if you’re incompetent enough. The opposite is also true; if you’re good at operating the loader you become somewhat of a workplace hero. Other loader operators watch how you do your job, and I’ve picked up on my coworkers doing some of the same things I do. Not that people worship you or anything, it’s just nice to see your skills rub off on others and know that you’re good enough at your job to be relied and dependent upon. As a one-man job operating the cargo loader has quite a bit of responsibility, but is very fulfilling knowing how important your skill is to the operation in general.
Kinda a rant there, sorry. The loader operator also stands outside in whatever weather is going on, as you can see above. In the summer you sweat and are miserable and in the winter two pairs of gloves and socks can’t stop your extremities from going numb. The wind throws rain, sleet, and snow into your face while ripping your skin off in subzero temperatures. But when the weather is pleasant, like on Labor Day, it’s a wonderful time where you get to stand outside, enjoy the weather, and do nothing physical besides move some joysticks and hit a few buttons.
Last week? Rain. Rain every fucking day. And I couldn’t complain about it either because I weaseled my way out of a hated job into a better one. You can’t reneg on a deal and I made sure to see the week through despite the terrible weather. Tuesday was rainy but not too bad. Wednesday didn’t have too much rain, only a wind-driven mist, but I wore a t-shirt like an idiot with temps in the 50s; I froze my ass off. More wind and rain Thursday but at least I wore a flannel while Friday only had drizzle here and there. I just find it interesting how shitty my luck is sometimes, and how I somehow bring it upon myself.
Saturday was also dreary, although it didn’t rain. I’m still struggling with sleep (it’s 4:05 a.m currently and I pounded down an Alka Seltzer and a melatonin a half-hour ago, to no avail) and wake up around 2 p.m. feeling fucking dead. Groggy, sleepy, unmotivated, and the view out of the window never helps. The ambient light level looks more like 7 p.m. than 2 p.m. This has been my past week: wake up at 2 p.m. feeling like a zombie despite sleeping for 9 hours, walking through tiny puddles on the way to my car at 3:30, lethargically driving with my eyes half-closed trying to decide what to listen too (upbeat music or something more lethargic?), drifting towards the timeclock, answering “Ehhh?” when my supervisor asks me how I’m doing, and standing out in the rain while I move some joysticks and smash some buttons during an airplane unload. Feeling my pants slowly become soaked by the rain and wind. Unmotivated to write or to read or do anything but also wanting to do something to pass the hours at work. Luckily when the sun does set you aren’t aware that it’s still fucking cloudy out.
According to the WeatherBug app, tomorrow (today I suppose) will be ‘partly sunny’ (is there a difference between partly sunny and partly cloudy?) with temps in the mid-70s. Not sure about the wind because no one cares about the wind. It sounds like it’ll be a beautiful day and I think I’m going to sit outside and bask in the sunlight, at least for a few minutes until I get bored and lurk back inside to play video games, post this, or whatever.
And holy shit, look at this:
Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.
It’s time to write a blog post even though I don’t have anything in mind to write about. Hopefully as I write a topic will appear. Kinda like my month long streak experiment where somehow I was able to write something every day even if I didn’t think I had anything to say.
Substance-free September is going great, and I’m surprised how much my mood has improved. Apparently I don’t have anxiety issues when I’m not drinking, who would’ve thought? I shouldn’t say that though, anxiety is still around, It’s just manageable. Like I can feel tense or anxious about a situation but find myself acknowledging it and going along with it. “I’m very nervous and anxious but, oh well, there is nothing else to do but to face it head on.”
This is noticable in small ways. Take for example some paintings I bought from a garage sale last weekend. Garage sales are terrifying for me: social interaction with strangers, social protocol that I’m not aware of, it’s a big mess of shit that makes me uncomfortable. Yet I drove by a garage sale, saw a painting that looked interesting, pulled over, and contemplated if I was really going to go through with buying it. I was terrified and the coward in me wanted to find any reason to drove off, but I got out of the car, talked to the lady, and walked away with four pieces of art for $20.
I feel terrible for this. Writing about anxiety and how I turned into a big boy finally where I could buy something from a garage sale all by myself. But hey, I’m trying to be proud of little acts like this where I manage to get over my anxiety, even if it’s something as silly as buying art from a garage sale.
Reading and video games have been keeping me sane over the past two weeks. Boredom is one of the key triggers for my drinking (the others being stress and depression), so avoiding boredom is a huge part of Substance-Free September. To start, I purchased American Psychoand Lolita from Thriftbooks before the month began, ready to jump into reading in the evening to dissuade myself from drinking. One issue here: I’m a fast reader. I plowed through American Psycho within a week, and then turned to the third book in The Wheel of Time series to keep busy. Book three is whopping 770-page book (which I was halfway through) and I finished in a week and a half. Being a bit weary to jump into book five in TWoT series (1,000-pages…) what else could I read?
American Psycho was a fucking trip, and one of those books that you finish and immediately think, “Wait…so what actually happened? Huh?” I think most people like ‘tidy’ endings to stories, but I love the random “What the fuck happened?” endings, and not just with books. Movies that end this way are usually some of my favorite films.
(Note on Thriftbooks: I used to buy all my books from Amazon until a coworker told me about Thriftbooks. They sell books (obviously) and you can get a wide selection of used books ranked by quality. This means you can snag books for literally a few dollars each and they even credit your purchases towards a free book after you spend a certain amount. There are two things I like about Thriftbooks: they’re not Amazon (Amazon is basically taking over the world so fuck them) and I love buying used books. Used books are amazing because 1.) you’re basically recycling books/they’re good for the trees 2.) they smell nice and have some ‘history’ to them 3.) they’re cheap meaning you can buy more 4.) I love physical books and can’t into ebooks and 5.) buying a used book that is terrible doesn’t give the author royalties. In short, Thriftbooks is amazing.)
I hopped on Thriftbooks today and purchased the next two books in The Wheel of Time series — books five and six out of thirteen! — as well as Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Journey and On Writing by Stephen King, both recommended by a certain reddit thread asking about amazing nonfiction books. Lolita still needs to be read as well as book 4 of TWoT. I should be able to keep plenty busy over the next few months and hopefully stay away from alcohol.
That was rambly enough and I’m not even drunk. What the hell? Anyways, I feel like leaving off on some grand lesson, something to note, and I don’t really have anything besides keep busy! I know any drug/alcohol abuser has their own certain triggers, and while I’m not representative of everyone, I should be representative of a good portion of alcoholics. A good percentage of people probably do drink out of sheer boredom and if this is the case it’s obvious for me to stress the importance of never letting yourself become bored enough to drink. Find a hobby and do something even if your heart isn’t into it. The past few weeks I’ve taken solace in reading, it’s relaxing, wastes a ton of time, and gets your mind and imagination working. I really don’t see anything bad about reading besides the time sink it is, but what else is there to do? Keep busy, do something, do anything, but do not get bored! Do not drink!
Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.
It’s the fourth of September, 2:45 a.m., and I’m still hopelessly awake. The two Tylenol PMs I’d taken an hour ago aren’t having much of an effect at all; I might be slightly groggy but otherwise by brain is cruising right along completely unable or willing to shut down for the night. Ill probably pop a melatonin to really attempt to knock my ass out. In fact I’ll do that right now as I write this.
It seems when you drug yourself with a depressant everyday for two or three months (however long the blurry existence actually was) your body says, “Hey, what the hell is all of alcohol doing here? It’s slowing things down! Better crank up the sympathetic nervous system to counteract it!” And over time your body gets use to the constant chemical bombardment, keeping your body into high-gear/combat-the-alcohol mode perpetually. The first sign of this is poor sleep: you pass out drunk and wake up four or five hours later totally drained and tired but unable to sleep anymore. Its a bad feeling. Shaky hands, fast heart beat, racing mind, feeling totally on edge like impending doom is just around the corner, and the only thing that can put you in a calmer state is, you guessed it, more alcohol. It’s not the correct long-term action to take, but damn if it doesn’t work like a charm.
My current problem is similar: trying to sleep without drinking. My body is still in high-gear and is unable/unwilling to sleep without booze. I expected this state so prepared for it mentally. Before I stopped drinking I bought a pack of Alka-Seltzer Night Cold Medicine: Lemon Effervescent Tablets because those always knock me out quickly and was fully prepared to drug myself to sleep instead of drinking. I went through those four packs in the past few days and couldn’t be bothered to buy more. And that’s why I’m on Tylenol PMs which apparently don’t do a fucking things.
The active ingredients in Tylenol PM are acetaminophen (paracetamol) and diphenhydramine HCl. Diphenhydramine, more commonly known as Benadryl, is what puts the PM in Tylenol PM. Popularly used as an antihistamine for seasonal allergies, diphenhydramine is also used as a sleep aid for obvious reasons: it makes you groggy as fuck. I recall taking two Benadryls before work one day for some reason (I think I thought it’d be interesting) and clearly remember driving a tug feeling like I was in some sort of dream. It was a battle to stay awake, probably wasn’t the safest or smartest choice, but I managed. I haven’t ‘Dryl’d it up before work since, and that was like six years ago.
I wrote a post months ago about how I quit taking sleeping meds while on an alcohol binge. I simply didn’t need them anymore. I even stopped drinking high-dose caffeine, although sodas and teas occasionally are fine, and this made me feel so much more lively and coherent when I woke up. My commonly abused sleep medicines were, you guessed it, Benadryl and Alka-Seltzer Night Cold Medicine: Lemon Effervescent Tablets. So I’m on the wagon with alcohol, and totally off it with ‘Dryls.
A friend at work who is also doing this silly Substance-Free September is having similar drug-replacement issues in her quest to be rid of nicotine. I don’t have to say it but will anyways to stress the point: nicotine is a hell of a drug to quit and it’s right up with heroin in addictive potential, even if it isn’t anywhere near as life-destroying as heroin is. Luckily for her she wasn’t a raging nicotine like I was (and still am). Still, she’s having issues and I’m surprised at how well she’s holding up especially considering like 3 or 4 of us at work are constantly vaping. She hasn’t asked for a hit from our vapes since August 31.
Her replacer for nicotine is coffee, well caffeine technically. She mentioned something about ‘replacing one drug with another’ and it’s always interesting when someone says something like this and how I interpret it differently than if I said it. I said, “if you replace one drug with another that isn’t as bad, who gives a shit? Nicotine is stupidly addictive and if you’re pounding caffeine to cope, it’s a net benefit really.” And if I felt I was replacing a drug with another I’d probably shit all over myself for it, feeling like I’m a failure or something.
But this is how I’m choosing to see my burgeoning Benadryl addiction. Sure, the ‘Dryl isn’t healthy to be eating daily because I’ll have the same sleep issues alcohol was causing, but I also don’t want to deal with two or three days of sleeplessness as my body adjusts to sobriety. If anything I think this could lead to more drinking with the justification that I just need to sleep though! This actually happened to an alcoholic friend of mine a few months ago. He was sober for a few days and couldn’t sleep worth a damn so on day three he drank just to sleep. And he did. But then I think he kept drinking because, well, who gives a fuck. Off the wagon for a day, you’re a failure, so why not embrace it?
Alcohol is a bitch to quit even if it seems strangely easy. This is day three and I feel fine. I’m not craving it, I’m not spiraling into any strange depressive mental states, and I’m wondering why it was so hard to be sober in the first place. Let that little bug sneak through a crack and you have a problem. “What if I have just a few drinks to celebrate not drinking? It wasn’t that hard to quit, I just had to quit. Maybe a few drinks so I can sleep?” Nah, fuck all of that, that’s the alcohol trying to get back to being drunk by you. In the meantime I’m going to focus on not drinking even if it means I’m giving myself away to legal OTC pills a bit too much. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
(Note: Its now 3:16 a.m. and the melatonin seems to be gladly working with the Tylenol PM. Thank God…but I should probably wrap this up.)
I’ll probably write a few more posts about alcohol and my Substance-Free September because I feel I’ve learned much about myself and alcoholism traversing through the hazy binge and the clarity and motivation that occurs when you stop. Maybe after this phase is over I can get back to shitposting about video games or something. Thanks for reading!
Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.
So it’s 3:20 a.m. and I’m pounding my seventh beer. I feel slightly better about life but not quite okay with it. It’s a struggle to drink enough to feel okay with life but not drink too much to lose your mind to the drunken haze. And with every drunken day that passes that line becomes thinner and harder to follow with less margin for error.
I don’t even know what the point of this post is but I hope it eventually gains some direction. Typing is hard and I’m hitting the wrong keys all the time. Constantly smashing the backspace button to erase any signs of my drunken typing while desperately trying to stay on topic. Maybe it would be a fun project to let the errors stand as-is and just display it to the world: this is what drunkenness looks like. That’d be fun, right?
I find it interesting that many bloggers have a “recovery blog” where they write about life away from alcoholism while no one seems to document the descent itself, which even in the midst of beI find immensely interesting. No one signs up to be an alcoholic and everyone that ends up as such seems to be totally caught off guard that it could, or was, happening to them for years. I’m in the fucking depths of it and the world seems so damn twisted, confusing, and depressing that I doubt anyone who hasn’t experienced it could imagine it. Here there is no hope. Here there is no progress. Here there is only limping along day after day just trying to survive the best you can, beer after beer. There is no outlet. There is no escape. You wake up hungover and try to get to the evening when you can drink again. One more escape after the last, until something happens, something to change the addiction. Something to change the hell of life.
After the past like two months of drinking everyday I just don’t care to work on anything. I haven’t anything in the past month due to the drinking. Not that I haven’t had anything to write about, it’s just that while being perpetually drunk it’s hard to string any coherent thoughts together. It’s hard to let your mind fester on a certain idea and let it lead to a natural conclusion. Alcoholism seems like a fucking blur: the past few days don’t mean anything, the past few weeks seems like a puzzle, and the past few months seems like some barely recountable dream that you’re not sure you actually lived through. When I try to recall the past couple of months I can’t seem to come up with anything. Sure, I lived through it, but I have nothing to show for it except vague memories, dream-like states and experiences, but it doesn’t seem like it was me experiencing them. It seems like someone else was there and I have no personal relationship with the memories at all.
I don’t even know why I’ve been drinking so heavily over the past few months either. Surely part of it was due to my month long vacation and drunkenness, but besides that I have no idea. Well, maybe I am aware of a few other important issues but I don’t feel like discussing them here. There’s a bunch of stress in my life currently, and stress seems to be nearly as bad as alcoholism is. Stress wears you down and drains you, especially over long periods of time, and this is certainly part of it. Alcohol eliminates stress for a time, but it seems you must pay the debt back later. Any stress you eliminate with alcohol comes back the next day and if you continue to avoid it by drinking it’ll snowball into some intense hatred of life and anxiety, which only makes you drink more to avoid it further on.
It’s such a subtle descent that it’s difficult to realize how dangerous it really is. I had my first drink at the age of 17 and have fended off alcoholism until now — 17 years later. I’m 34 and never had any real issues with it — sure there were signs here and there but no obvious problems — until now. 17 years later! Half of my life I survived with a casual relationship with little to no abuse until now? Why did I fall at this time? What happened? If I wasn’t an alcoholic ten years ago, why am I one now?
For fucks sake, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. With 17 years of not really having a problem I let my guard down. I decided I could drink once per week in 2020 and was fine with controlling the demon until a few months ago. Then something happened. I don’t even know what it was, but here I am drinking every fucking day. What happened? How did I fail? How did I become this person?
You don’t even notice it. A drink here or there in social situations just to ease your anxiety. A few drinks on the weekends to help you unwind. A drink on a weekday to help you deal with a stressful day. A drink the next morning to let you deal with the hangover. And then a drink after work because it was a bad day. And then another drink the following morning because you’re hungover from the drinks after your bad day. And…and before you know it you’ve been drinking for a fucking month or two struggling day after day just to survive life itself. It happens so slowly that you don’t even notice it, but eventually you realize it’s there. It’s you. You’re the alcoholic. You’re the person you never thought you’d become. But here you are, at 3:47 a.m. writing a blog post after eight beers trying to confess your soul to some strangers on the internet. You feel like you can’t escape and you feel like you’re in too deep. How do you even escape the person you’ve become?
A Way Out
I talked to my therapist about this a week ago. I said I felt fine, that I was doing okay with depression and social anxiety and that I felt pretty damn good really, but that I was drinking every fucking day for some reason. She gave some vague advice that I loved, “Perhaps you’ve gotten over the past issues you were struggling with and now the next problem presents itself. Understanding is like an onion, and maybe you’re moving on to understand the next layer.”
I sat dejected on the sofa and joked asking, “How many layers does this onion have?”
And she replied, “The layers never end…”
“So it’s an infinite-layered onion? Well…Fuck.”
And this gave me hope but also with a slight tinge of meaninglessness. An infinite onion never allows you to reach the core –to where you never fully discover your true self — but maybe I’d moved on from my other issues to confront the next issue: alcoholism. Progress, right? But it’s still strange. You’d think as depressed as I was months ago I’d be drinking a ton then but no, somehow when everything finally started to improve elsewhere in my life the drinking became uncontrollable. So maybe this problem is manifesting at an opportune time, the next problem to solve, the next layer of my personal onion, and it’s up to me to face it.
Two of the supervisor I work with (whom I consider friends) mentioned something about “Substance-Free September” where they elaborated on giving up any substances they struggle with for the upcoming month. They looked at me and said, “Hey Jerm, you want to do this with us? Substance-Free September?”
I gave them a glassy-eyed stare as I knew the one thing I’d have to give up would be alcohol; I was dreading giving up my singular coping mechanism for life. They kinda laughed and I eventually choked out, “Well, I’ve been drinking every day the past three months so maybe I could give up drinking for a month, but…fuck...”
I had been so used to drinking everyday that I wasn’t sure I could do it.
There is a certain appeal to involving others in your life choices. It seems easier to be sober if you haven other people you’ve made a pact with. It’s not just me making choices for myself when I’m suddenly accountable to others. It sounds strange but I’m a very competitive person: if I’m in a “competition” I give it my all just to prove that I’m a badass and if it comes down to me not drinking for a month, I’ll fucking try to prove everyone wrong and beat their asses with sobriety.
And I think this might be a way out, at least a temporary escape from the haze of alcoholism, if even for a month. A competition, a deal, a pact between a handful of us at work that maybe we can try to make it through September without any of the substances we’re terribly depended upon. For one of us, it’s marijuana. For another one, it’s nicotine. Another person is hooked on nicotine and alcohol, but to a minimal degree for each of them. For myself it’s obviously alcohol, perhaps one of the hardest to stop because I’m so goddamn depended upon it, and I think I got the short end of the stick here. But it’s fine because I want a way out. I want to escape, and I think this might be my first step forward. I’m terrified of Tuesday, September 1st, where I might have to face the world in all of its terror and beauty without anything to cope with it all. It’ll just be me and over the past few months I don’t know if “me” can even deal with it without freaking out. But I’m ready to accept it, face the challenge, deal with the struggle, and toss myself into the hell of sobriety after being almost perpetually drunk over the past quarter year.
I suggest anyone who reads this considers getting on board with Substance-Free September no matter what your issues are. Maybe just as a commitment to yourself knowing others are in the same September sobriety boat as you are. It doesn’t have to be anything major either — caffeine, soda, meat, cocaine, xanax, sleeping pills, whatever you use as a crutch — because any tiny act to make your life better can pay immense dividends in the future. We can all be strong by being sober and dealing with live as is without anything to assist us but our own selves. Let’s do this guys and gals.
Hey y’all! How have you been doing? As you probably (haven’t) noticed, I’ve seemingly dropped off the face of the earth during the last three weeks not having done anything on this blog or any of the others. There’s a lot to say about these past three weeks — alcoholism, binge drinking, stress, being on vacation for a month, and somehow being torn between trying to ‘relax’ and being productive — but I don’t really know what it is I want to say about anything yet. There are various ideas for a handful of blog posts that all seem to intertwine into a web that I cannot separate into clean, isolated, and easy to tackle subjects. It’s currently a jumbled mess but it’s a mess I hope to untangle in the near future.
(Possible future post ideas mostly for my own benefit: Fuck Facebook Part 924: my ‘Scorched Earth’ William Tecumseh Sherman Approach, The Struggle of Being Consistent on Social Media/Blogging, A Lesson from Vacation: Maybe I Can Relax? or Am I Too Goal-Oriented?, The Layers of Onions (in Regards to Therapy) Suck, and Airplane Crashes Suck.)
Simple posts are a nice way to ease back into writing, and holy shit, I have something to write about that is easy! I wrote a post about blog advertising over a month ago saying I began running ads through WordPress WordAds. Basically, ads are displayed here and I get money for them. Yay! Right? Probably not. In that post, I was skeptical of any money I’d actually make because from what I’ve read you need a fuckton of views and ad clicks to earn anything notable. Basically I knew I wouldn’t get shit for the ads, didn’t get my hopes up (luckily), and it was more of an experiment than anything else. How much money could my tiny and nearly insignificant hobby blog rake in over a month?
Yesterday I logged into WordPress, clicked the “Earn” menu, and saw this:
Four cents?! Well, it’s money, but…how many ‘ads served’ was that even from? As you can see: 6,391. I feel a bit better about that, but am also wondering how many fucking people on this 1,000 views/month blog somehow clicked the Duck Duck Go ads 6,000 times. The more likely scenario is that I don’t understand what the 6,391 ‘ads served’ actually means. I’m hopelessly ignorant to anything blogging and this is just another fissure to show my total lack of knowledge for the whole endeavor.
But as I’ve said about my paltry Amazon self-publishing earnings (no link provided: I can’t find the post I’m referring to here…), it’s nice knowing the things you’ve written actually earn real money, even if it is an amount you’d casually dump into the “give a penny, take a penny” jar at the local gas station without thought. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do about this; running ads seems really tacky and I’m torn between keeping this blog as ‘artistically pure’ as possible (whatever that means) but also still enjoying the dream of making a career out of writing in whatever form of writing that may take, be it blogging or publishing or freelancing or whatever. Honestly, I’ll probably give it a few more months and see if the money improves (hint: it probably won’t) as more of a blogging science experiment more than anything to actually get rich off of.
So after my (continuing) alcoholic hiatus: thanks for sticking around. Hopefully I can get my writing shit together and be a bit more proficient in the near future.
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Obviously this is a sequel to my last post. I didn’t think I’d have anything else to say about the matter but here we are. As mentioned in that post, I had cut ties with a few family members that I had simply given up on. They seemed beyond gone, beyond any sort of logic or reasoning, and a detriment to my own mental health. It seemed wise to just be rid of them than to worry about how the hell they turned out the way they have over the past few decades.
My cousin was one of them and I haven’t seen much of her recently since I have no contact with her on social media, but my wife is still friends with her. Yesterday I was downstairs, laying in bed, reading a book from The Wheel of Time series, and my cousin posted another one of her ‘protest videos’ on Facebook. It wasn’t just a video post but a live Facebook post of the protests. My wife told me about it and I rolled my eyes, trying to stay fixed on the epic story which is The Wheel of Time, even mentioning that I didn’t want to really see or hear anything from the video because I didn’t want to deal with any of it at the time. I was reading and any of my cousin’s shit could simply fuck off for the time being because I really wanted to know what the fuck Egwene and Nynaeve would do after the Amyrlin Seat discovered that, holy shit, maybe the Black Ajah were going to Tear to capture Rand and whatever-the-fuck-that-magic-sword-was-called and maybe it was an obvious trap but who gives a shit anyways? If the Black Ajah set a trap, fuck it, catch them in it and fuck their lives over. Anyways…
I know I mentioned her videos in the last post and I should admit that I never watched any of them: I didn’t need to. Her descriptive captions seemed to be enough to understand the gist of what she was trying to describe. “More protesters causing trouble!” “Urgh, looks like another night of problems!” You know, various shit like that. The subject of this post was captioned with, “Another protest in wonderful Rockford.” It’s all you need to know; she’s obvious opposed to any protests and sees them as a problem and an inconvenience. I mean they are inconvenient, and that’s the point of them, but the fact that she can’t see past that obvious self-centered fact was all it took for me to cut ties with her. But what did the videos actually show?
My wife played the newest one yesterday and as much as I tried to ignore it I couldn’t. The Wheel of Time ceased to hold my attention over the screaming of the Black Lives Matter protesters and the snide remarks from my cousin, her boyfriend, and the various other stereotypical white people grouped around them. It was a twenty-minute long video and it stole my attention after the first five-fucking-minutes. It was bland and boring where nothing really happened but was also peppered with a few subtle seconds here and there where everything seemed clear as day. Basically it was fascinating to watch.
There were a bunch of people along a street in Rockford screaming, yelling, with masks on, and holding signs. I don’t even recall what they were saying as it was all kind of a roar where you couldn’t hear much. Not that we have many protesters here in Rockford, Illinois and I’d estimate the number around fifty, but the shouts and screams seemed incoherent and unidentifiable. The cops were closer towards the camera as the protesters filled the far side of the street, and they kept the corralled mass away from everyone else and out of traffic.
My cousin, her boyfriend, and a few other stereotypical white people (along with the news cameras and such) stayed along the nearest side of the street, staring across at the protestors screaming, yelling, holding signs, wearing masks, and being all around pissed about shit. The white people spectators stood around passively drinking beers from plastic cups as if watching zoo animals in a cage or a sporting event. At this point I saw the first signs of the chasm separating these two groups. One group drinking beer and spectating, and the other totally fighting for equality and rights.
About five-minutes into this kinda boring video came the first gem from my cousin. She said, “I’m just out here trying to enjoy myself and these people are screaming and hollerin’ and making noise. Just trying to enjoy myself…”
It kinda reminded me of this:
Now, to give some background to this, her and her boyfriend were at the weekly “Rockford City Market” which is (as you can guess) a local market set up in downtown Rockford with vendors, shops, food, and drinks that happens every Friday evening in the spring/summer/fall. Apparently they went down there to “enjoy themselves” and were interrupted by the Black Lives Matter protesters who (obviously) saw this as the perfect place to have their voices heard by the passive denizens of Rockford.
From that point on the gems kept coming. At one point my cousin, upon hearing something from a protester, said, “Oh! And that isn’t racist?!” Her boyfriend at one point mentioned something like, “They don’t pay taxes anyway; why do they think they can stand in the street?” Obviously I don’t have to mention the typical ‘White Lives Matter’ lady who tried to get a chant started but failed miserably. She chanted the phrase about five times at the top of her lungs and no one gave a shit enough to join in. And as my cousin videoed this with her phone pointed slightly towards the ground as if she was hesitant to be seen obviously recording anything, her and her boyfriend kinda stood there and drank their beers and griped about the riff-raff across the street ruining their pleasant day.
And…and I can’t even tie all of this together into a nice bowtie where everything makes sense. All of this is so strange for me to actually see and try to process into feelings and words is really hard. It was very strange to see a family member of mine, in our own town, post a video during a protest and complain about that very protest. Like I don’t even know where to begin with how fucked up this feels to me.
I suppose my first gripe was with her “I’m just trying to enjoy myself, and…!” comment. There are a few things to unpack here. Firstly, she was down at The City Market on her own volition and was complaining about the protest there. After she said that I wondered why she was even standing on a corner videoing protestors if she was “trying to enjoy herself.” If you’re trying to enjoy yourself, stop videoing protestors and enjoy yourself! The cops kept the protestors out of The City Market area and there was no unrest that I could see in the actual market. Yes, people were screaming and holding signs across the street, but this doesn’t mean she couldn’t “enjoy herself.” If anything it looks like she gave right into the protests, walked to the corner, and tried to make some ‘statement’ about it. She wasn’t trying to enjoy herself; she found an opportunity to make a big deal out of protesters making loud noises and gave right into it making herself look like a total ass in the process.
Most importantly she seemed to hold her right to “enjoy herself” over the rights of others. You know, over the First Amendment rights of others’ freedom of speech. No, her right to “enjoy herself” seemed to trump the rights of anyone else who encroached on her even if they weren’t directly bothering her at all. It’s entitlement and feeling special about yourself: others are bothering you and how dare they do that!
This also ties into a comment that she mentioned on Facebook in reply to my wife’s comment (who totally blew up on her by the way); it was hinting towards ‘white privilege.’ She said “There are lots of black people who are rich and famous and black who have more money than me and really nice houses and cars. I don’t have all of that so how am I privileged?” and I couldn’t help but view the comment in terms of how she acted in the video. That was white privilege. The fact that she thought her right to “enjoy herself” was somehow more important that what anyone else deemed important. You know, those pesky First Amendment rights to free speech and protesting that all of us others have, and how dare those people exercise their rights and ruin her peaceful, drunken Friday at the Rockford City Market. White privilege, like racism itself, is subtle: you never notice it. White privilege isn’t all whites being rich and all blacks being poor. No one notices you’re white and says, “Hey, you’re white! We’ll give you a job because of it!” Or gives you a few $1,000 because you’re white. No, it manifests in mindsets like this and in subtle ways. She thought she was special, couldn’t be bothered to have her day disrupted, and shit all over a group of people over her own personal “inconvenience.”
It’s also shocking to hear her boyfriend mention something about, “They don’t pay taxes!” to a group of black people. This is the subtle racism that I’ve hinted at before — he didn’t say the n-word but you know exactly what he meant — black people don’t own anything, don’t pay any taxes, don’t pay for the roads, and shouldn’t be able to use the roads for anything. This one is somehow easier to deal with because it’s so goddamn silly, but still it shows the old racist view that ‘blacks don’t actually do anything for society so society doesn’t own them a damn thing.’ Luckily, this isn’t how society works. If your home is on fire the fire department doesn’t check to see how much you’ve paid in taxes. If you call the cops, they don’t check to see how much of your taxes went to the police department. If you need to walk/ride a bike/drive on a road, no one cares how much taxes you’ve paid because they’ve been build for society in general. There is no fucking ownership of the roads/police department/fire department/courthouses/etc. and the fact that someone is claiming blacks “don’t pay their share” misses on a few points. Do they even not pay their share [CITATION NEEDED]? And if they did, does it even matter anyways? No one is keeping track. The roads are for everyone’s use — the public’s use — and nothing else really matters.
Most shocking to me was the general crowd of middle aged white people standing across looking at the protesters, being “anti-protesters” if you will. They didn’t stand for anything except being opposed to what everyone was protesting about, just a reaction to whatever was happening at the time. Half of them had beers in their hands, kinda milling around with their phones out, just spectating and bitching. Of course no one had their masks on because COVID’s all a hoax anyways. They didn’t stand for anything and only were an opposition to the other side. There was a group of Black Lives Matter protesters across the street and they didn’t like it. They didn’t like the yelling, the ruckus, the trouble of it all. A sort of why can’t these people just shut up and deal with how life is? as they stood around and drank lite beer out of plastic cups. I recall seeing my cousin’s boyfriend (the legit white supremacist/alleged pedophile) wandering back and forth with his beer while wearing flip-flops. Having some idea how he feels — that whites are superior, blacks are loafing off the system, and maybe worse, maybe they should be enslaved, exported to Africa, or whatever else he thinks — and seeing him in a wife-beater and flip-flops was so ridiculous I guess? It’s hard to explain the mix of emotions I felt but it was so damn surreal. I didn’t know wether to laugh about the silliness of it all or to cry knowing we could be heading headfirst into a possible Civil War. Were these the real white supremacist? Were these the real racists? People that I’m related to? People with plastic beer cups lurking across the road from Black Lives Matter people? People wearing goddamn flip-flops on a Friday griping about how blacks don’t pay taxes and shouldn’t have access to the roads? This is the elite white race that feels threatened by other cultures? That thinks their society is being diluted and erased? Those who want their history and culture preserved? That shits on others for standing up for their own injustices? For fucks sake, what is there to be proud of?
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About a month ago I received a Facebook friend request from someone I wasn’t really expecting: my uncle, who is like 60-something years old. It apparently took him until 2020 to get on the Facebook bandwagon, and I don’t know how anyone in this situation wouldn’t feel mildly worried.
Some background on him: he’s a retired postal worker, a big fan of guns and shit, has a conceal-carry license, loves motorcycles, and is a raging hoarder. Literally his house is unlivable because of all the shit that he stores there and he lives with my grandma because his home is so packed full of junk. While I’m not a huge fan of stereotypes, just go with me here because they’re sometimes useful, if you were to stereotype him, what would you consider him? A raging environmentally-friendly liberal sympathetic to the BLM movement or some dumbass gun-toting right-winger? Not that politics seems to be too relevant here, but recall I’m talking about him being on Facebook. Political alignment is immensely important in regards to how people act on Facebook.
I was weary when he requested me as a friend on Facebook because like most people above 50, you know they’re just going to spam political bullshit and stupid memes all the time. It’s like par for the course and I was dreading seeing what he’d post. Luckily, he didn’t really post much of anything. He kinda stayed quiet and didn’t seem to force any opinions, whatever they happened to be, onto his fellow Facebook friends. Still, part of me was weary. To me, my uncle was the stereotypical Facebook fucking proto-nutjob; sure he wasn’t a nutjob yet, but if anyone were to become a nutjob, it’d be someone like him. It felt like he was a ticking time bomb where there was only a matter of time before he went off the damn rails. Given enough time for the propaganda to work on him, he’d eventually lose it.
He still isn’t too familiar with Facebook seeing how he acts on the site. I’ve always been fascinated with ‘social media norms’ and those who break them, clueless to how things are “supposed to be done.” For example, you never like someone’s picture from five years ago (unless they share it or something) because then it’d be obvious that you were fucking lurking through their pictures. Or sending messages to people you don’t actually know really well. Things like that. Social media has a new set of rules that differ from the rest of society and this fact is new for a lot of people. That being said, my uncle, being totally clueless about how people are supposed to act on Facebook, went on displaying his insanity in a new and different way: he sends direct messages to people.
I still haven’t actually replied to any of his messages, because he never actually says anything in them. Everything I’ve received from him has been images and videos that he’s shared. No context, just a string of images/videos/memes that randomly appear in my inbox. Whatever. At first these weren’t political and were like AC/DC songs and shit, but a week ago I received this:
Okay. Once again, zero context. I agreed with the image — I think America is going down a dangerous path where something bad is going to happen (especially in regards to the recent bullshit in Portland) — but some part of me thinks even if he does agree with the image’s sentiment that it’s not in quite the same way as I do. It almost seemed threatening in a way, either implying that people like me might get murdered by people like him or that us (if we did agree) would have to go murder Americans we didn’t agree with. While I waved it off initially, something about it stuck with me. I was almost certain my uncle had finally spent enough time on Facebook to discover the radical pages that spoke to him and was now spewing his bullshit to anyone he could. He’s always seemed kinda unhinged, but now with Facebook influencing him how much worse would it get? Remember, he’s a fully armed dude who always has a fucking pistol on him, even in the safety of his my grandma’s home and at kid’s birthday parties, and I really worry about someone like that finally snapping over being enraged by Facebook propaganda.
He also recently sent my wife and I a video about…well, I’m not sure, because I didn’t fucking watch it. She did though, and I think it was some congressman questioning Dr. Fauci about why shutting down a church in Nevada was okay but the shutting down the protests weren’t. It is kinda a good question — aren’t the protests helping spread COVID? — but the entire thing seemed like fucking propaganda. Like he’s doing us a favor by ‘enlightening’ us about some GOP senator grilling Fauci. Luckily she’s more courageous than me and actually replied to him saying that she disagreed with his shit, but still appreciated him as a person and a family member. And as for me, well, I just ignore whatever he sends because I’m a coward.
I think this post kinda got me started down the road to deleting the dumbfucks I’m friends with on Facebook. Shortly after posting it, I started to delete anyone that I disagreed with. I still have a few conservative friends, and one I especially appreciate. He’s one of the “old school conservatives” that is worried about how Trump has kinda taken over and dictated the direction of conservative policy. These are the people I can get on board with — someone I disagree with on policy but where I can respect what they’re saying — and these people are in short fucking supply nowadays. Basically as soon as anyone posted some silly AlL lIVeS mAtTeR bullshit I’d cut ties with them because there’s little to no factual basis or policy to anything they’re saying. It’s propaganda.
Fun fact and a fact that I know is kinda wrong: I’ve been a lot happier too. No one I know on Facebook has ridiculously different views with me and we all seem to be on the same page. It’s nice, I’m living in a happy echo chamber and while I know it’s wrong, I do feel better about the state of the world. Like I can live in peace thinking that maybe 40% of the US (and people I actually know and are related to) aren’t supportive of our proto-fascist president and his ‘secret police’ in Portland and other major cities. Like, hey, maybe the world isn’t such a bad place after all?
My cousin was one of the fatalities in my purge. She lives near downtown Rockford, near the BLM protests, and would constantly post videos of the protestors with really nervous-sounding comments like her apartment would be torched sounded like someone a few steps removed from these people right here:
The protestors don’t give a fuck about you because you’re not the goddamn problem. You’re not the police and you’re not systemic racism. No one protesting gives a fuck about your shitty apartment with absolutely nothing worth stealing and every post of hers screamed of a total misunderstanding about what the protests were actually about. The total inability to see anything from someone else’s perspective, that maybe people do have lives with different struggles than you. I didn’t want the implied ignorance or negativity so I deleted her.
A few days ago I received a message on Facebook Messenger saying something like, “Hey, I noticed we’re not friends on Facebook. Did you delete me?” And like my usual style I ignored it. Sure, I act like a hardass deleting people and writing corrosive blog posts about people but that doesn’t mean I actually want to have a discussion about why I deleted someone from Facebook. Once again I’m a goddamn coward and I fully admit it.
My mom came over to visit today and she mentioned that my cousin asked her about it. She said she didn’t know and seemed to shrug it off. She also filled me in to a few of my cousins other “beliefs” such that COVID is a hoax, it’s not that big of a deal, and that Trump is actually doing a lot of good for the United States of America. Apparently she constantly visits our grandma who is 89 years old, hugs and kisses her, and obviously doesn’t give a shit about wearing a mask at all; she bragged about the amount of stores she visited without a mask as if that made her a badass or something. What if she gives COVID to our grandma and she dies from it? Would she acknowledge it then or would there be more denial. “Well, she was old anyways…” While I’m on the shit-on-my-cousin bandwagon, let me also say she’s dating a guy who’s a convicted arsonist (and it was fun seeing him on TV right after I woke up one day like ten years ago) with a family of legit white supremacists. Not like subtly racist people: legit, proud, aware, white supremacists. I vaguely recall getting into an argument with my cousin’s boyfriend’s little brother on MySpace a long time ago because he was shitting on black people for some reason. Anyways birthday parties with that side of the family are kinda awkward to say the least.
But last night it kinda clicked in my head that I really don’t like much of my family. Honestly. My sister is cool, my wife and the kids are great, but everyone else in the extended family seems to be insane. And it seems as I feel wiser as time goes on they seem to lose their minds as time goes on. My cousin’s family is white supremacists and blatant Trump supporters and I cannot for the life of me figure out what they see in the guy. My uncle is crazy NRA fanatic who seems to be ready to fight a civil war murdering fellow Americans for some fucking reason. My dad told me a few of his brothers were also right-winger Trumpers and once again I cannot see what is appealing at all about the guy. My dad, who luckily doesn’t vote, also seems to be a Trumper who somehow started bitching about Hillary and Benghazi for some reason despite over 150,000 COVID deaths under our current president. None of these people think COVID is a real thing or a legitimate threat to them, once again my cousin bragging about not wearing a mask in stores!What a goddamn rebel! Part of me thinks I’m the problem, someone just as one-sided, blind, and biased as they are, but another part of me thinks that maybe I’m on the right path here. I’m trying to follow history and science and everything seems incredibly dangerous and serious currently while others seem to be either indifferent or even happy with the state of the country now. And it’s hard to realize that maybe the people you grew up around, who are part of your family, are some of the people totally on the wrong side of logic, history, science, and empathy. It’s not a good feeling.
One of my goals during my vacation was to seriously explore other jobs. I currently work a part-time union job at UPS which I honestly feel is below my capabilities. I do think I’m intelligent and clever and working at UPS shipping packages seems so anticlimactic to what I think — and somehow know — my real potential is. The entire issue for me is how to realize this potential which I seem totally unable to do through insecurities or indecisiveness. I think my life can mean more than working a part-time job at UPS and I’m trying to find out what that more actually is.
(Big NOTE here on how I seem to be defining my self-worth based on what job I work. I know if you take this too far it’s dangerous — we’re all more than our jobs — but if you don’t take it far enough you’d be making the opposite mistake. There is no way I can be working at UPS in 20 years and feel happy about it. I just can’t. It’s inevitable that I’d feel like I squandered my life. If you are happy working whatever shitty job you have, great, I’m actually jealous of people that can do this. I think I’m hopelessly not one of these people.)
I started looking for piloting jobs to no avail. I have a commercial pilot’s license which means theoretically I can get paid to fly, but it doesn’t really work out that way in the real world. I can’t be an airline pilot (they require 1,500 hours) and I can’t fly a multi-engine airplane. Those alone cut me out of like 97% of all jobs. Did I find anything I could do? No. They all require things slightly above my current experience, like 1,000 hours, 2,000, or whatever. I have a commercial pilot’s license but can’t do a damn thing with it realistically. Luckily I knew this when I got the license; the commercial license is basically useless unless you know someone to hook you up with a job and mostly serves as a stepping stone to other certifications.
I checked out a few other places. Jobs at the local Amazon facility; maybe I could be a delivery driver or something? No. Nothing. The only positions opened were entry level grunt work warehouse bullshit (that I’m unwilling to settle for, especially since I worked there five years ago) or mid/upper management work that I’m nowhere near qualified for. There was nothing for me, me being the sort of not-a-high-school-kid but also not 40-with-a college-degree-and-work-experience. I’m someone caught between being a high school graduate and a college graduate.
Because I have an Associates Degree in Science. Yay?!
I checked a few other random places like Thermo Fisher Scientific. They had some more entry level positions (‘Associate Manufacturing Technician’) and some upper-level positions, but once again nothing that fit my shitty mid‐tier associate degree of science. Once again, I don’t want to work a job that someone with a high school diploma or a GED could do but wasn’t qualified to do any of the higher-level work such as what an ‘Organic Synthesis Chemist’ would do.
And onto fucking SpaceX if you can believe it. Why the hell not? Let’s see what jobs they offer. Once again there was the same split between entry-level work and expert work. Most of the jobs required a Bachelor’s or higher while a few remaining jobs only required a high school diploma with nothing in between. I could be a SpaceX ‘Barista’ but couldn’t be a ‘GNC Satellite Attitude Determination & Control Engineer’. I couldn’t find a single job mentioning an associate degree and felt trapped between the poles of being under qualified and overqualified for anything.
Granted I only looked at a handful of jobs, but I feel this could confirm what my cynical friend has said about his own associates degrees: they’re glorified high school diplomas. They offer nothing in the way of benefits and only serve as a stepping stone to higher degrees. An associates degree is apparently only useful if you grab it on your way to a bachelor’s degree. And I don’t know how I feel about this.
I went back to school around the age of 27 or so after dropping out of college around 20. I wanted to say that I went back to college and actually did something with my life. And I did. I got my damn degree in the mail one day without the fluff and bullshit of a graduation ceremony. All that mattered to me was the degree and I didn’t feel the need to share the success with my friends and family. Who cares? It’s not a big deal really. I showed up, did the work, and got my degree. But when I found it in the mail one day I did feel something. The final realization that “I did it? I did it.” That I finally accomplished something in life after slacking for a decade. I didn’t know what I’d do with it at the time but surely I’d figure it out.
Cut to today. 34 years old and checking out random jobs and realizing my associates degree is totally useless. All that matters is the Bachelor’s and higher. I’m basically a glorified high school student with no practical life benefits to having obtained this degree. It’s not a good feeling to know what you’ve accomplished isn’t enough and there’s always more to do. Countless other people that are more accomplished than you that have life seemingly more figure out than you and get actually get through life. And here I am writing some shitty blog complaining about it all. Should I work towards a bachelor’s degree in whatever or keep trying to bullshit some piloting job? With no clear way forward, what do you choose? As always if someone has answers to these questions, please fill me in because I’m fucking clueless.
And if you found a good job with an associates degree, what the hell was it?
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