Dark Souls Sucks: Lautrec, The Four Kings, and Farming

I’m back. A two day break is long enough after you’ve posted 34 days in a row. I’ve been bored, antsy and playing more video games, namely Dark Souls. More on being bored and antsy later. Maybe.

I seemed to have been in a honeymoon phase with Dark Souls during the last post about it. Not that it isn’t a fantastic game — I stand by every word I said about it — but now that I’m actually playing the game all the old frustrations are coming back. The game is bullshit, and in a way that’s totally bullshit. I still think this is a positive though; the fact that a game I know pretty damn well can still piss me the fuck off is amazing. I think I’ve beaten the game ten times total and I can still get pissed off about things I know are in the game. Let’s cover a few here.

Spoilers ahead if you dare to read.

Bullshit Lautrec of Carim

There’s a knight locked in the Undead Parish early on in the game. With a key (maybe) you can free him. There isn’t anything obviously wrong with the guy at first besides his mildly threatening voice, but there is nothing to hint that you shouldn’t free the bastard either. You also come across various trainers in the game, Big Hat Logan to name an example, that are locked up as well. The fact Lautrec is locked up doesn’t really mean shit in the Dark Souls world.

So you free the bastard and after triggering a certain important even he kills the Firelink Shrine’s fire keeper putting the bonfire out. This is before you gain the ability to teleport and Firelink serves as a good hub for the world except now you can’t use it as a checkpoint anymore. So you must walk to the Undead Parish, the Undead Burg, or the fucking Catacombs to use their bonfires. It’s a pain and a pain that the game barely hints at and it happens at a very inconvenient time.

Not that you can get the bonfire lit again, but it’s a massive pain. Lautrec goes to Anor Londo where you can invade him, get the firekeeper’s soul back, and relight the fire. It sounds bad already but everything about it makes it worse. When you invade, you discover Lautrec has two goons with him and one is a sorcerer who tosses soul spears at you from a distance. Also when you invade you are unable to heal. Yes, you need to kill Lautrec with two fucking goons fucking your day up when a few hits is all that it takes you kill you. I tried this recently on New Game Plus with an old tank character; I only got a single hit on the guy before I was killed. This was Sunday when I was drunk and totally threw the controller twice and quit playing that character since. Fuck that playthrough.

The Four Fucking Kings

Best Wiafu!

After my anger over Lautrec, I decided to get the dark ending and talk to Kaathe, one of the primordial serpents. No big deal, it was NG+ and I was a tank and I could summon Witch Beatrice (my Souls wiafu) to help. I was surprised to see that my fully upgraded Black Knight Axe didn’t do a fucking thing to the Kings. The bosses spawn in every thirty seconds so if you can’t kill one in that amount of time (or an little extra time) you’ll eventually have for or five kings wailing on you. They also hit really fucking hard too. Three hits and you’re dead. Witch Beatrice didn’t help much because I died so quickly.

So to hell with the dark ending on that playthrough.

More Fuck The Four Kings

I thought it’d be a fun idea to start a new playthrough with a hand-to-hand based player. I’m currently running a shitty DEX build with NEARLY FULLY UPGRADED CLAWS. It’s fun as fuck and I’m having a great time. Once again I tried to fight the Four Kings before the other three Big Bosses. (You can’t go through the red fog gates until you give the lordvessel to either Frampt or Kaathe.) The claws didn’t do shit to them and like before I quickly had three of the fuckers wailing on me before I died. Beatrice didn’t even get to fight because I was running from a horde of Darkwraiths and Ghosts and couldn’t summon her. I didn’t have any of those transient curses either. 

Frampt got the lord vessel and there wouldn’t be a dark ending on this game either. Seriously, fuck the Four Kings. I don’t remember the boss being this hard on other playthroughs.

Solaire and Farming

This is going to be a mess so bear with me here. Solaire of Astora is everyone’s favorite Dark Souls NPC. He’s cheerful, he’s helpful, and he even muses himself that you might have feelings for him. Given the rest of the dreary, bleak, and depressing NPCs in Dark Souls, Solaire really is a ray of sunlight (get it?). “Praise the Sun!” “If only I could be so grossly incandescent!” Even if you’re not the biggest fan of Solaire, you probably do have some fondness for him because he’s such a nice guy.

One thing that makes Solaire such a badass is your ability to summon him for some key boss fights in the game. The first time you can summon him is for the Bell Gargoyles and as this fight can be difficult for a new character/new player; Solaire really is a godsend here. He’s also summonable for the shitty Centipede Demon and the final boss, Gwyn. The only problem with summoning him for the Gwyn fight is that you first need to stop him from going fucking insane!

Most (maybe all?) of the NPCs have a questline that ends with them going “hollow” — insane, corrupted, and hostile towards you. Nice and friendly people you meet eventually lose their damn minds where they will attack you the next time you come near them. Solaire is no different. He’s famously on a quest to “find his own sun” and given his failure to find it during the game, eventually goes mad. His downfall is finding a group of Chaos Bugs that emit light. Since he’s lost his shit, he finds these bugs, mistakes them for “his sun”, and goes crazy. You end up putting him down like the sick dog he is and this prevents him from helping you during the last fight. It’s a really bleak game.

Here’s the bullshit part. To keep Solaire alive you need to kill these bugs before he finds them. You can’t take the normal route because this automatically triggers him to go crazy so you must find a “backpath” way to kill them. A few cheesy ways to do this are to abuse a certain pyromancy spell or some other shitty game mechanic while the most “appropriate way” is to open a shortcut door via the Chaos Servant covenant. In short, you donate thirty humanities (a certain in-game item) to a giant half-spider, half-lady NPC and the door opens.

My problem was that I didn’t have shit for humanities. I need twenty-nine of them to open the door with the sole purpose of saving Solaire. Okay. Time to farm!

Farming in any game usually consists of doing mindless runs over and over to collect items. To farm humanity, people usually go to The Depths and kill about ten rats over and over again; these are some the most reliable droppers of humanity in the game. This isn’t as easy as it sounds as their drop rate is only about 5%. So to get five humanities you need to kill about 100 damn rats. I needed thirty so consider the fact that I’d have to kill about 600 of them. With ten per each run, this means I’d have to do 60 fucking runs to collect the humanities to give to the Spider Lady to open a door to save Solaire. Okay…

Karen hard at work farming…

Luckily there is an item that boosts your item discovery rate making the rats have a higher chance of dropping humanity; this is the Covetous Gold Serpent Ring and is found in Sen’s Fortress. So, to save Solaire: go to Sen’s fortress, find Gold Serpent Ring, go to The Depths, do maybe fifty runs killing rats to collect humanities, give humanities to Spider Lady, open the shortcut (“shortcut”) door, kill the Chaos Bugs. All so I can summon Sunbro Solaire for the final boss fight with Gwyn. I hope that proved my point how shitty this game can be.

Not that I hate farming — sometimes it’s fun to mindlessly run back and forth killing the same enemies over and over — but damn does it quickly get boring. After about ten or twenty minutes farming and having only collected a few humanities, you start to think about how much time the project is really going to take. I think it took around and hour to collect thirty-five or fourty humanities (I needed a few extra to upgrade the bonfires) and I might have to go farm some more soon. Shit. And humanities aren’t the only thing you need to farm. Titanite shards and chunks, which are used to upgrade weapons and armor, are also relatively rare in-game so if you want to actually do damage with your weapon those must be farmed as well. And if you ever get stuck you need to farm for levels, also called “grinding”, which is another shitty but sometimes necessary thing to spend time doing.

That’s about all I have to bitch about with Dark Souls this time. Like I said: great goddamn game, but holy hell is it frustrating at times.

Fuck the Four Kings.

Streak Day #34: The End

Holy hell I made it. 34 posts in a row. A post on for every single day in March. Something about setting a goal and keeping to it. Something about persistence and dedication and how it’s good or something. Hell if I know though; I’m exhausted.

Shitty cover for the story

Did I learn anything? Maybe. I think I’ll appreciate it more with some reflection. Some time to relax and ponder what has changed within me and my writing, if anything. At the very least it seems setting clear goals is a great idea and I think I might apply it to the fictional stories I’m supposedly working on. The only problem is I’m not working on them. The Morrowind story — sorry I mention it alot — keeps moving forward because I’m dedicated to posting a chapter every week. If I didn’t have this goal I doubt I’d ever work on it. You get in the rut of waiting for inspiration or for the perfect idea to come along and nothing ever gets done. I didn’t even have the next chapter written until this last Sunday, the day I had to post it on. Somehow I managed. I sat down as uninspired as ever, wrote it, edited it, and posted it. Every single Sunday (with one exception) this year has had a chapter posted. 13 weeks, 14 chapters. It’s fucking progress because I set a clear goal for myself. Check it out if you’re interested, I’m rather proud of it so far even if it does start off slow.

I’ll stress it again: SET CLEAR, OBTAINABLE GOALS AND HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE! You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Going forward I think I might do a “fictional Friday” on the other blog, maybe forcing myself to write a single story/chapter every week. I’ve said it a lot, but 52 weeks a year would give me 52 chapters, probably a few finished books. If only I had the courage to hold myself to something. Set a goal and keep at it. None of this ‘inspiration’ bullshit. Just write. Just write something and to hell if it’s good. An average story that exists is better than a story that doesn’t exist, a story that resides in your mind as some wonderful and grand story but a dream nonetheless.

So the streak is over. I gave March hell and I’m proud of myself. I didn’t reach the goal of 1,000 monthly views, but 950ish is still pretty good. Once again, close enough to get my hopes up while still falling short of the Grand Goal. I’d also like to point out that earlier in the month I predicted I’d end up with around 950 views; math sure is useful and I’m kinda proud I was as accurate as I was. Oh well, there are nine months left in the year so maybe I’ll do another marathon posting session later, a second sprint towards the goal of 1,000.

It looks amazing in graphical form!

In some ways I’m worried that 950 is better than I could’ve done considering everyone is out of work and on lockdown at home. It’s basically the perfect storm for getting blog views and maybe if this was a typical March I’d be nowhere near 950. But this is speculation and might be a way to shit on myself before I end this post. I’m always tempted to believe that any success is due to luck and any failure is due to me. Own the failures and disregard the successes. I’ll link to that self-esteem post again. At least I’m aware I’m doing it which is some sort of progress.

Pat myself on the back. “Good Job Jeremy, you’ve done it.” I’m tired. I’ve earned a break, some respite from this nonstop writing and posting. It’s been fun (“fun”) but it’s over. This is the end. Crossing the finish line after running 13.1 miles, that’s what it kinda feels like. Not that I’m done with this blog, no way. This is my stupid little baby of an ongoing project and I love getting on here to bitch. I’ll be back in a day or two or maybe a week: I have no plans. I really want to do higher quality posts that actually give useful information to my readers. Writing is always a give and take between writer and reader, and sometimes I forget that. This streak has mostly been me randomly talking about my day and I don’t think this is really useful to anyone. If you find these entertaining, cool, great, I appreciate it, but I want to provide something to those who read this stuff. Maybe I’ll work on that. I’ve had an idea for a post on how to cope with depressive thoughts, sort of like me learning from therapy and passing it onto others. That’s a good way to give back, right?

Alright I’m done. Thanks for reading, seriously. I love you guys and gals, good vibes to everyone. See you guys sometime in the nearish future!

Streak Day #33 Sucks: The Shitty Solar Panel

I’m on break at work again. I think I should make a habit of writing while on break. Sometimes magical things happen when you sit around bored and force yourself to write. Get the creative juices flowing and see what happens.

Not that there is much else to do on break. I sometimes read but it’s hard to force yourself to read if you’re not in the mood for it. Also, reading fantasy books like The Wheel of Time puts you into a strange state where you almost cease to exist in the world; it’s shocking to come back to the real world, especially when the real world is work. It’s a jarring feeling.

As is standard, I have no idea what to write about. Well, maybe I do have one thing to bitch about…

A half week ago I bought some massive $110 solar panel from Amazon. I think I mentioned that already. My little 10 Watt panel wasn’t doing shit to charge my phone, so upgraded to a 100 Watt panel. It arrived yesterday and is ridiculously huge for charging a singular cell phone. Whatever. Overkill is never a bad thing here.

I took it out of the box and even inside the house attempted to check the output of it. Usually ambient light in the house gives some voltage even if it isn’t near the peak that it could output. This panel was only putting out like a half-Watt. Whatever, it was cloudy and it was inside so it wasn’t a big deal.

The damn panel had plastic connectors on the wires that had no obvious way to plug into the charge controller that came with the panel. The was inconvenient. I thought about the problem and decided to solder my own wires to the output on the panel. I decided to buy two cheap extension cords because that’s an easy and convenient way to purchase wire at Walmart. I even came up with a better idea: I could leave the plug attached to the cord and put the female end of the extension cord into the charge controller. This way I could simply plug the panel intothe charge controller. If I wanted to add panels, just plug those bad boys in as well. Let me take a picture of it to clear up what I’m talking about.

Don’t judge my setup too harshly.

I did all of this work yesterday while drinking heavily. I put the panel in the window and plug everything in. It was ready to go for today and I was eager to see how the system would work.

I woke up and the panel didn’t seem to be doing shit. None of the lights on the charge controller were on, and checking the panel output with my tongue (yes) proved that it wasn’t putting out a damn thing, nowhere near 20 volts. Using a multimeter showed it was providing about a half-volt of potential. This thing should’ve been putting out 24 volts max and 0.5 volts was way too small. What was wrong?

I eventually took the panel outside into the direct sunlight and measured the output. 3 volts. THREE GODDAMN VOLTS. You can’t charge a 12 volt battery with 3 volts. Maybe I could charge two AA batteries with it? I kept trying to find something that I was doing wrong, but a solar panel is about as simple as anything can be. You put it in the sun and it gives you power. That’s it. There isn’t a button or a switch or anything technical about them. I wish I could’ve found something I was doing wrong, but there wasn’t anything.

I’ve came to the conclusion that my $110 solar panel from Amazon is simply a piece of shit. It’s defective. It’s broken. I got a piece of junk. So now what? I was thinking of taking it apart and trying to fix it — maybe there was a broken connection somewhere — but the panel appears to be sealed very well. There aren’t any screws or anything to remove. I really think I’ll just have to ship the damn thing back which is another major pain in the ass.

Amazon has a ‘defective item’ option which I’m assuming means if I want to return it I’ll have to package it back up, print off a shipping label, and haul it to UPS. I’ll have to track down all those stupid styrofoam packaging things too. I know I work there, but I really don’t like the idea of going to work with a massive boxed up solar panel to ship back to Amazon. I wonder if I could go down the road from UPS to the Amazon building itself and give them the junk panel. I’m sure that wouldn’t work though.

And I don’t know if they’ll ship me another one or if I’ll get a refund. I was really excited about my new panel, and it’s frustrating knowing this project will have to be put on hold until I get a replacement panel or order a second one. My Amazon solar panel fucking sucks.

Streak Day #32 Sucks: A Values Checklist

Sunday, the last day of the WordPress week, and what do I write? I’m feeling some pressure now; I need about 25 more views today (in the remaining eight hours…) to have another record week. I don’t think it’ll happen. And if I pull off about 45 or 50 a day I can crack that 1,000 views in a month goal I’ve had. I don’t think that’ll happen either. I didn’t even have much hope for it the past week but the past few days has (once again somehow and I don’t know why) had quite a bit more views than usual, giving me just enough hope to have it totally crushed by Wednesday.

I’m tempted to try to write another “masterpiece” blog post but don’t have it in me. I haven’t made any progress on the Morrowind story this week and finally got around to a rough draft about two hours ago. That must be edited and posted and has priority over any bullshit I want to write here.

So what to write? I don’t know. Let me sit here and think about it. I’ve already talked plenty about this stupid coronavirus and don’t want to do it anymore. Work? Work sucks. I hate being at work but I hate being anywhere else. You trade work for boredom mostly. Any projects at home? Well, I bought a massive 100 Watt solar panel from Amazon that arrived today; not that I can do anything with it because it’s been perpetually cloudy. I think I’ll rig up some extension cords to make the system “plug-and-play” or something like that. I’m just sick of soldering shit, using alligator clips, or whatever else I can conjure up to connect wires. My last panel was a tiny 10 Watt panel; this boi is ten times the power! I can’t wait to get started.

But the Morrowind story hangs over me like these damn clouds in the sky. That’s the goal for today and as much as I want to fuck with this blog, Dark Souls, or my new big boi solar panel, I can’t until that is finished. Or at least finished enough that I can put it together before midnight or before I’m too drunk to edit, whichever comes first. That’s why I’m doing this now, to get it out of the way.

Drinking today means a trip to the store. I need extension cords for my project. I can’t believe I bought a 2 x 4 foot solar panel for $100 so I can charge my phone with solar power. It’s such a simple goal but one that is taking on a life of its own. I’m dreading a trip to the store. Last week was pretty comfy — Meijer was all but deserted — but I’m starting to have anxiety about being around people in public. Who is infected and who isn’t? Has this box of tomatoes been handled by someone with The Disease and by picking up the box I’m going to get myself and my family killed? Every person that drives by or walks by, I wonder if they’re infected or not. Everyone is a hazard, every object outside of the house is a hazard, and if you let yourself think too much about it in a careless way it’s nearly impossible not to feel frightened by the world. Remember I think I’m doing well with the COVID anxiety too. How is everyone else doing if I’m becoming this way?

I suppose there is that paper the therapist gave me from Thursday, something about discovering your values that I haven’t even looked at yet, so maybe I can check that out. Fuck, let’s do it together. I’ll type it out here and if that takes too much effort I’ll take a picture of it.

Exercise: A Values Checklist

Below are some common values. (They are not ‘the right one’; merely common ones.) Please read through the list and write a letter next to each value based on how important it is to you. Of course, some values will be more important in one area of life (e.g. parenting) than in another area (e.g. work) — so this is just to get a general sense of the values that tend to matter to you the most.

  • Acceptance/self-acceptance: to be accepting of myself, others, life, etc.
  • Adventure: to be adventurous; to actively explore novel or stimulating experiences
  • Assertiveness: to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want
  • Authenticity: to be authentic, genuine, and real; to be true to myself
  • Caring/self-care: to be caring towards myself, others, the environment, etc.
  • Compassion/self-compassion: to act kindly toward myself and others in pain
  • Connection: to engage fully in whatever I’m doing and be fully present with others
  • Contribution and generosity: to contribute, give, help, assist, or share
  • Cooperation: to be cooperative and collaborative with others
  • Courage: to be courageous or brave; to persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty
  • Creativity: to be creative or innovative
  • Curiosity: to be curious, open-minded, and interested; to explore and discover

Okay well this list is forty items long, so I’ll just put the values and omit the explanation. If you need them defined: Google them.

  • Encouragement
  • Engagement
  • Fairness and justice
  • Fitness
  • Flexibility
  • Freedom and independence
  • Friendliness
  • Forgiveness/self-forgiveness
  • Fun and humor
  • Gratitude
  • Honesty
  • Industry
  • Intimacy
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Mindfulness
  • Order
  • Persistence
  • Respect/self-respect
  • Responsibility
  • Safety and protection
  • Sexuality
  • Skillfulness
  • Supportiveness
  • Trust
  • Other:________
  • Other:________

Apparently the list is from Russ Harris at this website right here. So I didn’t steal it, okay?

Hopefully you guys got something out of that. It sure does seem like something you really need to sit down and think about that’s for sure.

So as I was typing that, I realized all sound really good and I think I hold nearly everything as a value somewhat. There aren’t any that I noped away from: everything sounds great! Maybe fairness and justice can get the axe: life simply isn’t fair. I think we should strive for fairness but claiming something is unfair doesn’t mean shit. Anyways, this only complicates the matter. I think it’d be easier to ask what values you don’t hold than to ask what values you do hold. Trim the paper until you’re left with a shape that is actually you, in a way.

Basically on Thursday the therapist said that maybe if I had a clear value system it might be easier to define my actions, to uphold my values in a way that gives my life some integrity and meaning. Not that I don’t have integrity or am a total heathen, I’m just lost and confused to where I’m aimless. She said to give myself some goals to give myself direction, and when asking about what goals I should set because I don’t know what the fuck I want to do she said to figure out my values. What I hold dear in life. The shit that I think is important. So basically values -> goals -> direction, something like that. More layers to the onion, I suppose.

Now my issue is I’m not sure how to live according to values exactly. An obvious one I have is curiosity; I’m always surprised that some people, maybe most people, simply don’t seem to give a shit about anything around them. Is anyone curious? Given the COVID-19 example you’d think maybe a large chunk of the population are reading about viruses, immunity, ventilators, exponential growth, RNA sequences, the flu, or vaccines, but most are probably reading questionable articles from Facebook (and spam-sharing them) about how maybe shoving some herbal supplements up your ass might make you immune to the disease. I don’t know this for a fact — luckily most of my friends don’t seem to be raging dumbfucks — but in the 2020 post-information/disinformation age curiosity and critical thinking in general appear to not be a huge priority to people.

Rant aside, how do I live according to having curiosity as a value? Just be curious? That’s it? I think another value I have is “helping people” or “spreading knowledge” but how the fuck do you help people be curious if they aren’t already? How do I leave by example? And even if I figure this out, how does it apply to a life goal? What job can I get that values curiosity and teaching people? A teacher? Is that what I’m supposed to do? What about that minor dream of being a flight instructor? Well, shit, maybe all of this therapy bullshit does make some sense if you think about it enough.

And that’s enough thinking about it for now. Onto the store, a six/twelve-pack of Claws, and editing that damn Morrowind story. Maybe perseverance is one of my values as well…

“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for!”

Like many good stories, this one starts in a familiar way: “So I was really fucking drunk one night, and…”

Let me back up though. It was in November (I think) and we got a letter in the mail. A bright and obnoxious red envelope and it was obvious it was a card of some sorts. Greeting card, sympathy card, but most likely a Christmas card because of the red envelope. There was one problem with this letter; it wasn’t even addressed to us. It wasn’t addressed to our street or even our city. I don’t even remember where it was addressed to but it was certain someone at the Post Office fucked up somewhere. No big deal, I thought, and put the letter back into the mailbox and put the flag up.

[BIG NOTE HERE: Apparently my timeline is all fucked up here, but it still makes for a good story even if it isn’t 100% factually correct. More like 80% factually correct.]

A week or so later the same damn letter showed up. Okay. I tried to be responsible if a bit more forceful with this misaddressed letter this time. I drove to the post office and put the letter into one of the blue bins outside, forcing it to be sorted again. Bringing it back to the post office itself would surely get this letter shipped to its proper location. Someone would catch it this time, right?

Another few days/week later and you can guess what showed up in our mailbox for the third time. The Red Letter from Wisconsin heading to some other city in Illinois to people I was a stranger to. Damn. I basically gave up at this point, hauling the letter into the house and chucking it on the table. I nearly threw the damn thing away, after all it was most likely some shitty Christmas card and who cares if it got lost in the mail? Sure the people who sent it might be hurt, and the people receiving the letter might wonder why Grandma Edith didn’t sent her typical Christmas card, but it’s not really that big of a deal.

As the letter sat around the house, and as I glanced at it everytime I walked by something started to fester in my head. This letter, this unset letter, probably a card but what if it wasn’t? What if it had pictures in it, or if it was a sympathy card for the death of a close friend/family member? What if this letter was important and I was somehow stuck with it, given the chance to go above and beyond to deliver it or to be an evil and uncaring person who tosses it in the trash? What if I tossed it and caused a rift in the family: Grandma Edith apparently didn’t give a shit that James hung himself and she didn’t even send a sympathy card over his untimely death?

A few years ago at UPS I found a tiny slip of paper that fell out of an Amazon package. Apparently people can send messages to be shipped with their packages on a slip of paper and one of them fell out of the box. I found it in the plane amongst hundreds of packages we had just loaded. It said something like this, “We hope you enjoy your new, comfy socks Grandpa Bill. All of your socks have holes in them!” That probably isn’t accurate but it was about grandpa’s socks. I had an immense sense of bittersweet loss reading this, and it reminded me of this post from Waitbutwhy; it was only a slip of paper with a shitty message on it but the idea that this message would never be delivered, the grandkids had wasted their time crafting a message, and Grandpa Bill would never fucking see it was really depressing. Some stranger in Rockford, Illinois through tiny actions of the universe had found the paper inside an Airbus A300 aircraft at UPS and these people would never know it. I took the paper home and kept it for years — I might still have it somewhere — as a reminder of something. I don’t know what that something is though, maybe the cruelness of the universe.

This letter eventually had me feeling the same way as the Amazon paper slip did although this time I did have a path forward. An easy path forward.

So I was really fucking drunk one night, and was thinking about the letter. I had to get the letter sent to the proper address! It’s a mission — a grand quest — and only I was given the challenge of doing the correct thing! Like Frodo in The Lord of the Rings the ring letter was entrusted to me and only me and even if I didn’t want the responsibility it was mine. That’s simply how things worked. I was the reluctant hero given a choice between good and evil! So I made a plan. A really shitty and not-at-all complicated plan but a plan nonetheless.

Open the envelope, put the contents into another envelope, and mail it that way. Clearly write the address and slap a stamp on it and send it on its way. Easy. But I didn’t want to open the letter — that would be an invasion of privacy — so maybe I’d put the envelope itself into a new envelope. But then I’d have to fold the envelope (it being the size of a ‘card envelope’ and not a standard letter envelope) and what if there was a picture in there?! I didn’t want to fold a picture! So new plan: open the letter, check it out, and reseal it. No one would have to know that I opened it. I opened it, it was a shitty Christmas card (I think…remember I was really drunk), and I sealed it back up, folded it, plopped it into an envelope and sealed it, stamped it, and sent it on its way.

Except I was drunk. I was in the mood, the mood of grand adventures and quests and here I was doing something totally strange and heroic. Putting so much goddamn emphasis on a shitty Christmas card from some strangers hundreds of miles away. A normal person would’ve pitched it in the trash, but I’m not a normal person apparently. Plenty of chances to turn away and give up the quest, but no. I should’ve thrown it away, but I didn’t. I was fixated on the idea of ‘doing the right thing’ and living in the adventure of it all. The world being full of darkness and danger and that the light will shine out the clearer. I kept thinking of The Lord of the Rings again, especially the speech by Sam at the end of The Two Towers.

“What are we holding onto, Sam?”

“There’s some good in this world Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for!

-Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

And because the clip itself is so fucking good I’ll post that too.

I grabbed a piece of paper — once again stressing I was drunk as fuck and it seemed like a good idea — and wrote a letter to these people. I don’t even remember what I wrote, most likely rambling drunkenly about how there are good people in the world, how I couldn’t stop thinking about this letter, and how strangers can still be good people, and all of that shit. You might know how it is from a few of the posts I’ve written while drunk: just rambling and writing freely about whatever is on my mind. I took a picture of it because at the time I thought it would make a good blog post but eventually thought better of it. Here it is, and I haven’t read it and have no idea what I wrote but, yeah:

This is embarrassing, but total blogging honesty wins out. Apparently I really hate the Postal Service. Also, big fucking LOL on the ‘have a wonderful 2020,” part. If only they had any idea…

The letter was sent, I did the right thing, and whatever. Life goes on.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I walked to the mailbox to find a single letter addressed to me. Hand written, not some junk mail from businesses or anything, and who the fuck were Pam and Steve? Pam and Steve…hmm…that sounded familiar for some reason, but…what? Huh? OH SHIT. My actions a few months ago came flooding back. I wrote these people a drunken and scrawled letter for their shitty Christmas card and they wrote me back. Jesus Christ, cue the anxiety about it. It was time for me to leave for work so I chucked the letter in the car without opening it from thanks to The Fear and set about my day.

I told a friend at work about this story months ago and mentioned my letter I had just received. I mentioned I didn’t even open it because of the anxiety. These people probably called me a heathen from writing drunken letters to them — even the handwriting was slurred! — and making zero sense in the process. Fuck, the paper itself probably smelled like cheap beer even after a few days in the mail. It was all bad stuff, and nothing good.

She pointed out that the only people who send Christmas cards are probably quaint suburban grandmas and/or cute nuclear families who would probably be really appreciative of my actions, drunken or not. I had a slight bit of courage to open it and read a few words with it still folded inside the envelope. Hand written, on lined paper (unlike my printer paper scrawlings) and a few words like “thankful” here and there. It was a good letter to me. But on the backside I could’ve sworn I seen something like “medical issues” and “difficult times” and, what? Were these people also drunk and writing me back? Am I now a penpal to some Steve and Pam from another city in Illinois? Do they even know I’m writing a blog post about them now? The universe is a strange place indeed.

I wish I could tell you guys how this ends, but I don’t know. I haven’t taken the letter out of the envelope yet. It’s still in the back of my car, mostly unread besides those few key words. It’s almost like my anxiety to replying to blog comments and such; what if people don’t like me?! Why do I care so much about some strangers’ opinions of me? As much as I bitch about how life is some mundane, boring, and pointless, sometimes things like this happen where I equally think “Wow, sometimes crazy things do happen,” and, “Wow, I’m a drunken idiot sometimes and why do I do these things?” But I guess I do take some solace in knowing I did the right thing, even if it was kinda silly, over the top, and fueled by cheap beer. Being a hero doesn’t have to be glorious, right?

Streak Day #30: Untitled

“So, how have you been the past two weeks?”

Perfect. Happy. Depression was a thing of the past. Totally conquered. I had finally discovered myself. A toolkit of ways to fend off the bad vibes and thoughts. Perfectly comfortable in my skin. Cool, confident, and quiet. Problem solved! Problem solved…Problem solved?

Two days ago. Spiraling. Pointlessness. Anxiety. Depression. Dread. More sleeplessness. 5 a.m. with the sun coming up wondering what exactly life is. Benadryl to sleep; a drug to crutch along. Sleep at any cost. Where’s the purpose? The point? What am I meant to do here? Wasn’t I out of the woods? Wasn’t I happy? Weren’t those damn pills magical and finally fixed me?

“Where do you see yourself in the future.”

I shrug. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m floating through life too scared to make any choice.”

“Sometimes it helps to visualize where you want to be in the future. This will give you purpose and something to work towards.”

Every path is miserable, only changing certain pros for cons. More money, less happiness. More possessions, more responsibilities, less freedom. More attachment. More stuff. More freedom, less security. The grass is always greener everywhere else. Not knowing what I’m meant to do. Knowing there is nothing I’m meant to do and it’s up for me to decide. Being unable to decide anything for fear of what misery each path holds. And all paths hold misery; I always make the wrong choice. Is floating such a bad thing? Is pointlessness such a bad thing? Is there anyone that knows what the hell they’re meant to do, even if there is nothing we’re meant to do? Is anyone as blindly confident that they know where to go? Is this another form of blindness? Is blindness happiness?

Five steps forward and six steps backwards. Seven, perhaps. No progress. No sense of empowerment. No moving forward. Self-discovery? No. Self-confusion and self-loss. When I think I find myself it disappears. Too much effort, too much work. The tools in the kit take too much work to use. Constantly being on-edge, looking for the next crisis. Playing chess with your own brain, trying to bring up thoughts as pawns to try to stop yourself from checkmating yourself. And the opponent is so much more motivated than you, the bad vibes are effortless. The chess grandmaster in your head; checkmated in less than ten moves. When are all my pawns gone? When do I run out of motivation to fight? When does it become easier to give in?

Awake after twelve hours of sleep: still tired. Still groggy. Still sleepy. Five cups of coffee, eight cups of coffee: still tired. But shaky. Just enough semblance of being awake to function. Nicotine, caffeine, give me any -ine you can find, maybe I’ll eventually wake up. Constantly shaking and tired. Constantly anxious. Enough awakeness to write low-quality posts. Not enough motivation to work on a story. Writer’s block that never ends. The constant fight towards some goal you don’t even have. And the tiredness. And time always moving forward. And you not moving anywhere at all except towards old age, failing mind, and death. Float along the river until it’s too late to change your course.

And sleeplessness at 5 a.m. once again. Still tired but awake.

“Is it possible that I like being miserable? Is that a thing?”

“Yes. Misery is easier than working to be happy. It takes less effort.”

The comfort of depression. Not caring. Knowing you don’t care. Knowing you’re functioning as a basic animal just staying alive. Food not for enjoyment but so you don’t feel more miserable. Water because your mouth is dry. Work because of bills and money. Write because there is nothing else better to do. Silence around people — you’re a piece of shit and are miserable to be around — why make everyone else miserable by being a piece of shit? Blaming your mood for being a failure. The comfort of depression. The comfort of giving up. Thirty years of nothing. Thirty years of zero progress. Thirty years of depression. Of never knowing yourself. Of never knowing anything. Of being totally lost, blind, and stumbling through life. How many more years?

“I woudn’t say this if it wasn’t true: you are making progress. I can see it. You just need to keep discovering yourself and moving forward.”

Values. What are my values? I don’t know. Blank slate once again. I am a nobody. The blank whiteboard waiting to have a purpose. The blank piece of paper waiting for a story, a picture, or spilled ink: waiting for anything.

I’m not cut out for self-discovery. I’m an idiot hiding under a mask of being smart. Maybe I shouldn’t know myself. Maybe I should stay blind to everything. The trivial defines me. Deep down? I don’t know. Why do I do the things I do? No clue. Ram through another wall and find another. The wall is well-constructed this time. Smash through this to find an iron gate. And another taller iron-gate. On and on from one problem to the next.

“Self-discovery is like an onion; it has many layers.”

Infinite layers. The radius never shrinks, the circle never gets smaller. One layer leads to another layer. There is no core. There is no bright and shiny center. So much goddamn effort to peel anything away. Years of grime and dirt that doesn’t make any sense. If it does makes sense you can’t do anything with the sense it does make. One more layer down and onto the next. More confusion than before. More paralysis than before. More dread then before. Why am I this way? I hate myself for being this way. Helplessness knowing I can’t be anything else. This is me, and I hate it.

“Bring yourself to the source — whatever that is — and bask in it. Recharge.”

“Think of the love you hold in other peoples’ lives. Think happy thoughts. Think how you’re part of the whole.”

“Decide where you want to be in the future. It’ll help give you something to work towards.”

“Break a large goal down into smaller goals. Take small steps towards the goals.”

“Decide what your values are.”

“Think, ‘Is this thought useful to have right now?'”

“Maybe set boundaries with yourself in your interactions.”

It’s Friday. March 27th, 2020. 5:09 p.m. Now what? Always: Now What?

Streak Day #29 (and some stuff about therapy)

Time? 11:34 a.m. My therapy appointment is today at 1 p.m. and I’m dreading it greatly. With work at 4 p.m. that will give me around two hours to kill in between. Not enough time to really do anything (especially since everything is closed) but too much time to easily pass. I think I started the post a few weeks ago like that when I was sitting in the McDonald’s parking lot typing. I’m tempted to do that again, but McDonald’s WiFi is shit. Typing in the car is shit. Might as well get #29 done while I can.

About three or four weeks ago I mentioned in one of my posts (to hell trying to find that one to link to it) that I was thinking of keeping track of my mood twice a day. It took a few days to start it up, but I’ve been doing just that over the past three weeks. It’s been really boring actually. The antidepressants, while not supposed to do anything for nearly a month, have had me feeling really calm and out of it nearly constantly. I don’t know if it’s them causing my mood, but I don’t know what else it would be. The past month my mood could perfectly be described as Blah. I just don’t care enough to be happy or depressed. I guess. That’s how it feels in my head at least. I wish I could explain how this works because I sure would’ve liked to know before getting on meds. Not a list of side-effects, but how people’s moods change on them. What it actually feels like I guess. Maybe that’s why I keep writing about this stuff.

That was good and all until yesterday when my mood totally cratered. My consistent list of 4 to 6s out of 10 turned into 2s and 3s. I know what caused it but don’t feel like elaborating here. It’s another crisis, and a crisis that I’ve had my guard down over for the past month or two. When you’re feeling okay you forget what it’s like to struggle and I guess I was thinking maybe I found the fix and I’d never be depressed ever again. It hit like a sledgehammer. I’m not ready for this and I don’t want it but here it is.

I don’t even know what I’ll tell the therapist today. I feel so goddamn helpless and worthless right now. Not just depression, but depression like I haven’t made any damn progress on anything. I want to go in there and tell her, “Remember the first time I came here? That’s where I am. It’s like the last three months haven’t existed. I feel the same. I haven’t learned anything. And the things I have learned I suck at putting into effect. I suck at growing as a person. I’m lazy. I’m a slacker. I’m worthless.” Like I’ve learned what I should be doing, but can’t bring myself to do those things. Coping techniques. Happy thoughts. Shit like that. Maybe that’s what I’ll make the theme today, I don’t know though.

My dad is now over bitching about Pelosi and her $45,000 gold pens for the impeachment hearings, supposedly. Jesus Christ I can’t deal with this right now. 11:49. Less than an hour left.

Like she told me a few ‘coping techniques’ I guess, like try to bring yourself to a safe/happy place which sounds great in theory but is really hard to practice. Or to visualize and plan for where I want to be in my future. I don’t want to choose anything to do because I have this feeling that no matter what I pick for my future I’ll be miserable. It’s only differing degrees of misery that I still don’t know which one will be less miserable. It’s hard to move forward on anything when each path ends in misery and doom. Or to think if a thought I’m having is useful to have at the time. No thought at 2 or 3 a.m. is ever useful but try making yourself not think that thought at the time. Try to shut off your dreams somehow so you don’t wake up in a shitty mood.

Maybe the festering but subtle coronavirus anxiety can get a mention too. I’m not panicking or anything, but I’m slightly on-edge all the time.

I don’t know what else to write but I also want to piss time away until I need to leave so I don’t have to think. I hate sitting around waiting for anything.

I think after therapy I’ll go sit in the park for an hour and zone out. Or something. Listen to music, write, brood, whatever. Maybe if things really go downhill I can write a cathartic post and have it ready to go for tomorrow. Then I won’t have to worry about that at least. I’m dreading this appointment so goddamn much, you have no idea. I want it to be 1 p.m. so I can get it over with. Part of me wants to simply not show up, but I think if you do that someone will get suspicions. Depressed person doesn’t show up for therapy and doesn’t call or anything? They’d be on me instantly. Probably not, but that’s what I’m going to think so I drag my ass there and talk about how fucked up I feel.

Well, I’m done. Fuck it.