Boredom Sucks (July 2021 Edition)

I’m currently sitting in the yard. Like the yard itself not on the porch looking at the yard. And I mean I’m sitting in the yard as well, not on a lawn chair or bench or anything. Actually all of that is a lie. I’m not sitting in the yard: I’m lounging in the yard. Fully laid down with my upper body propped up on my left elbow turned sideways typing on my phone. I have terrible motivation when it comes to writing but if you’re bored enough you’ll get around to be productive. Who knew to get myself to write I’d have to go outside and lay down in the yard for ten minutes.

Everyone hates being bored and I’m not unique in that aspect. The rest of the people in the house hate boredom and usually fend it off with social media. My wife scrolls Instagram stories and the kids are on TikTok. I binge watch YouTube videos so who I am to complain about what others do to not be bored? I like to pretend educational YouTube content is a bit better than fucking TikTok, but this is probably me lying to myself.

A few of the kids seem legit terrified of being bored. For myself it’s only a mild form of suffering, not something to fear. Being bored doesn’t feel good and I wish the feeling would go away but it doesn’t terrify me. It’s not something I need to run away from like others.

Maybe it’s the UPS employee in me that embraces boredom. Especially since our shift and crew change months ago I’ve embraced being bored. Sure, I don’t like it but when you get down to it sometimes there is nothing to actually do. I try to tell the new people this; there is nothing to do for the next hour or so so get comfortable! Sometimes you’re not motivated to read or to write and knowing social media is a horrible solution for boredom what else can you do? There isn’t anything wrong with putting the phone down and just existing in the boredom. I’ll be at work with nothing to do for an hour or so. Find a comfy place to sit, grab the vape, and plop down cross-legged and look at the clouds. Watch people drive by. You know, just exist as you are.

As I’m laying in the yard I can’t help but notice the birds chirping. What the hell are they doing? Are they bored? Maybe. But maybe they have no concept of boredom. There’s also a few stray cats lurking around (thanks to our ex-neighbor The Crazy Cat Lady) and they’re bored. Maybe not bored perhaps but it doesn’t seem like they have any pressing matters to attend to. One of them, a gray kitten that doesn’t let you get more than six feet away from him (good job on the social distancing buddy) is sitting next to the garage just spacing out. You know, just being a cat chilling outside sitting and lounging. Me and him are best buds right now and we sometimes glance over at the other.

“Pretty nice day out huh?”

The cat stares at me and blinks but I know he’s saying, “Hell yeah bud. Beautiful day out here! Can you please feed me, I’m starving?”

Oh, and our actual pet cat Bibbers is outside as well. When did she sneak out? She’s definitely not bored and loves to roam around outside enjoying not being in the house. I don’t know what she likes about being outside but there’s obviously something appealing about it to her.

Bibbers looking glorious like she always does.

Humans are one of the few critters that are bored. (Maybe, I didn’t do any research here.) That hate having nothing to do. Maybe it’s us, Maybe it’s our shitty Western Society. I’d think about it more but I’m kinda liking not thinking too critically right now. Is there anything wrong with just existing? The cat by the garage doesn’t think so. Sure, I need to clean the bathroom and I’d like to play some Kerbal Space Program soon but right now there isn’t anything pressing to take care of. I ate some bread a half hour ago, I don’t have to pee, and my vape is fully charged next to me. My biological needs are met. And what else is consciousness other than ya know, being conscious and existing? It’s kinda the base state of our reality. Boredom is life at its most basic and fundamental. When nothing is pressing, when survival is all but taken care of, you’re left with time. Add in an active mind like us humans have and you get boredom. Boredom is the blank chalkboard you can use to draw ideas on. To create. To reflect. To plan things out on. To do whatever you want with it. I suppose you might not realize this unless you’re bored enough to realize how blank the board actually is. Nothing has to be done and life is chill if you give yourself time to believe it.

The yard is pretty fucking comfy and I think I’ll stay out here awhile.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

What is Soap?

Part two of a series on soap. Part one is here if you’re interested.

Soap, in case you weren’t aware, is what you wash your hands with, usually with water. It kills germs like COVID-19 and the flu and the common cold. It’s good at getting oil and dirt off your skin. It’s common practice to wash your hands after taking a piss or a shit, you know, so you’re not interacting with door handles and people with microscopic bits of shit/piss/germs on your hands.

Soap is laughable easy to make which is what I find surprising. All it takes is a bit of motivation and effort, but it’s not hard to do. Nearly anyone can conjure up a rudimentary soap with only a few household ingredients. You take oil and add in some lye, a drain cleaner that you might have laying around in the dark recesses under the sink or in the basement and that’s it: you have soap.

Obviously the details of this are more complicated. How much lye to fat? How long to cure? What scents do you want to add? Like an onion you can always go deeper in understanding.

A fat molecule looks like this. It’s called a triglyceride and the name should tell you a bit about it. ‘Tri-‘, meaning three, and ‘-glyceride’ sounds a lot like glycerin. That comes into play later. A fat molecule is made up of three strings of something called a fatty acid all tied together by this glycerin backbone thingy.

Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, NaOH, is a strong base. This means when you add it to water it creates a bunch of ANGRY OH- ions that love to rip other molecules apart (it can do this to your cells so don’t get it on you!). When you add the NaOH to fat, the angry OH- molecules rip the fatty acids off the backbone. These fatty acids, floating along ripped from their backbone, pick up the sodium ion (Na+) from the NaOH. The Na is positively charged and the oxygen on the fatty acid has a negative charge and chemistry stuff happens and shit. In short, you get soap.

This Na tied to a fatty acid is what is what gives soap its magical properties. Half the molecules loves polar molecules, like water, while the other half, the fatty acid tail, hates polar molecules. Everyone has seen how fat and oil don’t mix, they’re different molecules and all of that, but soap ties them together in a way. The soap can bind to fat, collect around it, while the other side binds with water. And like that you have the oil-cleaning properties of soap.

Bacteria and germ cells also are contained in a layer of fat. The technical term is “lipid bilayer” and guess what soap can do to this? Collect around it while allowing water to wash it away. And like that you have the antibacterial properties of soap.

It’s no wonder humans eventually stumbled upon this magical substance. Water is nearly a universal solvent and is required for life. Everything almost dissolves in water, except the stuff that doesn’t, like oil. You get some mud on your hands and water will wash it off. You step in some dogshit and water will wash most of it off while leaving some harmful bacteria. You mix some lye with fat to make soap and no more harmful bacteria on your shit-soiled foot. Before vaccinations were a thing good hygiene was our best defense against microbes. Not shitting near your water source. Not having dead bodies near your farms. And washing your hands. Soap, as simple and mundane as it is, gave us a huge leg-up against germs. Hell, even in 2020/2021 one of the most important guidelines regarding COVID is simply to wash your damn hands because soap is in fact magical and it does in fact work.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

On the Quest for Soap

Part One of a series about soap. Yes, soap.

If I summed up every hobby I have ever had it would be this: My hobby is doing random crafty shit to see if I can do them. Every specific hobby I’ve ever had is just a subset of this. Solar panels. Guitar playing. Making bread. Making vape juice. Painting. Making rocket engines out of sugar and stump remover. Blogging. Writing stories. And now…soap making.

Yes: soap. Soap is awesome. Haven’t you guys ever seen Fight Club?

It started a week ago and even I didn’t know I was going to get hard into soap making until I was in the kitchen at 3 a.m. with a bottle of lye and Crisco trying to figure out how to magically turn that stuff into soap. It started with a YouTube video of all things.

There’s this chemist dude on there by the name of NileRed. He makes chemistry videos (duh) that are pretty informative but also pretty hilarious in a dry-humor sort of way. (“This chemical is very toxic and even explosive, but it should be okay.”) Even if you’re not into chemistry, check him out. In one video he makes grape flavoring/grape soda out of vinyl gloves and using urea from his own urine in one of the intermediate steps. In another video he carbonates water with CO₂ from diamonds. He apparently made a video on soap four years ago that I wasn’t even aware of. I found it at 2 a.m. on Sunday, really Monday I guess, and I watched it. “Huh,” I thought, “Soap seems pretty easy to make. I have oil. And I have lye. And…I can’t sleep right now…so…maybe I can toss some shit together just to see if it works.”

And here I am a week and a half later checking to see if my soap is dry yet, googling how to make sodium hydroxide, learning the differences between sodium and potassium hydroxide, filtering oil from the bacon skillet and deep fryer, wondering what the hell ‘glycerin’ is and why some people remove it from their soaps. I wonder what would be some good essential oils to put in my soap? I wonder if I can sell my soap? I wonder if I can never buy soap ever again in my life.

Soap making fits right in with my current madness and I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to stumble into it. I probably should’ve stumbled into making soap back when I was distilling my own rum with supplies I purchased from the hardware store, but I didn’t. Remember this post where I ranted about bread and how it was sort of like the foundation of society? I said that I almost felt like I failure homo sapiens because I didn’t know how to bake my own bread. Isn’t that a requirement to be a human? To know how to make your own fire and bake your own bread? Well, put soap making up there because even if it isn’t as key to civilization as fire and bread it sure is up there. Soap making is one of those lost arts and a part of life, a part of being a stinky and dirty human that almost none of us know how to do. As with bread: we buy soap. Other people make it and we don’t worry about where it comes from or how its made. And by making your own soap you take back a tiny bit of your humanity, rediscover one of those old arts that are seemingly forgotten in our modern age.

That all sounds a bit over the top and dramatic but oh well. And I hesitate to write this part but I think I might make a series about soap and how to make it. Not like a guide per-se, there’s plenty of those and I don’t want to tell people how to do something when it’s much more fun to figure it out yourself with a bit of help and curiosity — but like a series on where the seemingly mundane adventure of making soap can take you. If there’s one thing hobbies are good for it’s giving you a deep and complex rabbit hole to crawl down and get lost in. What started as a simple project — making soap — has turned into a mess of nuance and complexity. So yeah, SOAP.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Society Sucks: Detachment From Survival

Bread. I wanted to bake bread. Why? Because I didn’t know how to bake bread and that seems like something any civilized person should know how to do. Like it’s one of the cornerstones of society, a thousand-year-old skill that for some reason I can’t do. Bread is only second to making fire which I also can’t reliably do. I’m getting pretty proficient at using a lens on charcoal but this only works well if it’s daytime, it’s not cloudy, and the charcoal is dry. If I get bored enough on my upcoming vacation maybe I’ll try the “rub sticks together” technique. I put fire a tier above bread because it’s hard to bake bread without a fire. Fire was probably the first big invention that humans have pulled off and it seems like a disappointment to the human species as a whole if you can’t make fire or bread on your own.

Bread became more meaningful the more I thought about it, almost an obsession. Why do we outsource bread to companies? What’s so damn bad about baking bread that we can’t do it ourselves? You kind of have to buy a car because you don’t have the skill, the expertise, or the materials to build your own. Cars are fine things to buy from someone else because of this, but bread? This became clearer once I actually baked my first loaf of French bread. (Here’s the recipe. It’s the first one that came up and I’m lazy.) It was easy, like mind-blowingly easy. Like “Why the fuck doesn’t everyone bake their own bread” easy. Not as easy as microwaving some frozen dinners but easy nonetheless. My two loaves turned out amazing especially considering it was my first foray into baking. It tasted better than store-bought bread, was cheaper, sure it took more time than buying a loaf from Walmart, but most importantly it was fulfilling to bake my own bread. Why?

We seem to lose sight of the fact that we’re just one of the millions/billions of species on this planet. We’re moderate-sized, dumb animals just like our relatives in the primate family. Sure were pretty fucking smart — we can buy cars and bread from other people — but at a fundamental level we’re still critters. Our culture seems to miss this fact putting us way above other animals, almost like we’re a diety. Our pet dogs and cats are really more like our distant cousins than “lesser beings” and why do we think we’re so damn special? Birds are even more detached from us, but still an animal, still stupidly similar to us. The momma bird is making nests for the same reason we build houses. Even insects that I share almost nothing in common with bring me awe. What would it be like to be a spider? What do spiders concern themselves with in their lifetimes? Whatever it is, as seemingly simple and dumbed down to us, that’s the state they live in. They’re happily doing spider things like eating and having babies and, damn, isn’t that what we’re doing despite all of the extra bullshit we concern ourselves with?

It’s easy to lose sight of this in our society. It’s easy to think of how advanced and “ascended” we are as a species, how we’re well past the mental capacity of the lesser critters, but is this true? Sure we have all of these fancy things like blog posts and smart phones and cryptocurrency and TikTok, but are we really that different from the other critters we share this giant ball called Earth with? I’m saying a firm “NO” here, and that our detachment from our fundamental animalism is a big part of why so many people are unhappy in our amazingly technical and connected world.

Work never seems fulfilling. Sure I show up and get a paycheck but I’m always wondering what the hell it’s all for. You need money because money is a fun little invention. Instead of bartering for goods, we created money — something everyone can agree on as valuable — and this makes trading a lot easier. If my neighbor wants to trade me goats for my bread cool, but this only works if I actually want goats. If I don’t need goats I’m out of luck. With money, I can trade my bread to the goat guy for cash, and then trade the cash for something I do need that isn’t goats. All of the people whining about money as made up or useless seem to miss this fact; money is damn useful.

Money is what we get for our services to society. If you do something useful you get paid for it, ideally based on how ‘useful’ your contribution is. (Let’s ignore what exactly “useful” means here. I think a bunch of jobs that pay are useless, but if someone is paying for those jobs, then they have some use to someone.) This allows people to specialize is all sorts of fields (pun kinda intended); not everyone has to be a farmer, or a blacksmith, or a baker at the same time. You do your small part, people pay you for your items/services and you buy what you need from other specialized people. It’s beautiful when you realize that you probably haven’t grown or produced your own food or meat in years, maybe in forever. You pay someone else to do that. And your job? Someone pays you to do that so they don’t have too. It’s a great system.

But there’s the inevitable detachment from the animal self, the part imbedded in all of our DNA that wants to survive no matter what. To look death in the eye daily and tell it to fuck off for a bit longer. And what is life other than telling death to fuck off? Maybe I want to grow my own food or kill my own meat? I doubt people go that far though, and maybe most have a nearly imperceptible sense of pointlessness to life in general. A subtle disillusionment with life and society, thoughts at night wondering what the hell your purpose is. In a round-about way I work for my food and shelter, but it doesn’t feel like my survival is attached to my work. It doesn’t feel like a matter of life and death or survival. It feels like a stupid job that I have to work because people told me I need money or something. Sure, I’m aware that this is me playing a role in society and in turn I get to eat food that others provide, but knowing this and believing/feeling this are two different things.

I think that’s my point here. Our society has detached itself so much from survival — something we are required to do as animals, something that I think we have an inherent need to feel — that it doesn’t even seem like it’s there anymore. It’s hard to feel fully alive when you don’t have death and starvation only a few days away. I’m not saying we should turn our society back into a hunter/gather type of thing where kids die before they’re three, but it’d be cool have have our daily work actually represent something in terms of our survival in a more directly and easy to appreciate way. I really think this would make life more fulfilling. I ship packages at UPS, and this is how I survive? How fucking silly.

And bread. I know how to make bread. It felt good to make because it felt like I was actually doing something to survive. Not earning a paycheck and buying food with it. Not relying on some other person (or worse, corporation) in our society to feed me. It was all me. Yes, I bought the flower and the oil and the mixer, but it’s one step closer to real, legit, Jeremy-made bread. It’s one step closer to me having my survival directly in my own hands.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

“Plz call me ASAP”

“We need to talk” is about the worst thing to hear from someone, especially from a significant other. You guys might feel the same way about hearing this sentence. For some reason I will instantly start to have a mild anxiety attack trying to figure out what exactly I did wrong. Logically, I can find absolutely nothing most times, but I still feel guilty for some reason. It’s a similar feeling to buying alcohol at a gas station. I feel like I’m doing something wrong despite it being perfectly legal for me to buy alcohol. Or when you see a cop on the street and you start wondering what crime you’ve committed because surely there was some crime you did commit. You’re guilty as fuck, of what you’re not sure, but guilty nonetheless.

I’ve been telling my wife to not do this to me. To not text me at work with a “We need to talk” without some preview of what exactly we’ll be talking about. Family members? Fine. Our relationship? A bit scarier. Does she have general questions or did I do something I’m unaware of? Am I going to get chewed out? Tell me something! We can talk in person, but damn do not text a general we need to talk. It sends my blood pressure and heart rate into the stratosphere and I dread every minute until “the talk” actually happens.

And then “the talk” is usually about something not that bad and I’ve stressed-out for hours fearing absolutely nothing.

No big deal really, just another misunderstanding between two people in a relationship that you have to iron out. I don’t even want to blog in-depth about that isolated gripe because it isn’t a big deal. But today I woke up to a text from my mom saying “Plz call me ASAP”. It’s not exactly the same thing as “We need to talk” but pretty damn similar. It was really jarring to wake up to that. Part of me doesn’t even want to complain about it; I haven’t woken up that fast in quite awhile. To hell with an alarm on my phone, I’ll just have my mom start sending me alarming and vague text messages around noon.

After reading that text my brain did something like this: “Someone died. Okay. Who died? Grandma? Was there a car wreck? It could be someone else too. Who’s hospitalized? Did someone try to kill themselves? No, it has to be grandma. She’s old and it’s only a matter of time. She’s basically wanting to give up on life anyways. Should I call into work or tough out whatever major thing just happened? Keep to my routine or mourn? Will I have to be strong or supportive to the rest of my family or will they be okay? Should I help clean out her house? Just yesterday she was alive and fine and oh my God what actually happened?” Brains are cool and it did all of that in just a few seconds.

So still in bed like thirty seconds after waking up and looking at my phone I give her a call. “Plz call me ASAP”. What could it be? I’m dreading what she’s going to say and it’s awful. I haven’t even had a cup of coffee yet. 

It goes to voice-mail and I hang up. Plz call me ASAP? Must not be that big of a deal if it went to fucking voice-mail…

My dad calls me ten minutes later and I dread answering that. I’ll discover whatever Plz call me ASAP as soon as I answer it. Oh no, more anxiety and fear and I’m still in bed without my coffee. At least my vape comforts me.

“Have you talked to your mom yet?” He asks.

“No. She sent me a text saying to ‘call her ASAP’ and I called. It went straight to voice-mail.”

He sighs, obviously preparing to tell me the awful news of my grandma’s death a few hours earlier. I fearfully listen as he says, “Your mom’s car is broken down. It’s in the shop. She called me and wanted to borrow money but I don’t have that kind of money!”

Plz call me ASAP. That was it? She needed to bum money off me? Instantly my mood went from fearful and anxious, full of dread, to a full-body-and-soul eye-roll. Jesus Christ, I love my family. Sarcasm obviously. Not that I hate them, just shit like this makes me want to punch a wall.

It reminded me of a time a year ago when my mom texted me saying something like, ‘Please visit grandma. Her health is going downhill and she probably doesn’t have much longer.’

I was at work and asked her if grandma would hang onto life until the next day. She said she didn’t know. She probably used that dumb phrase ‘it’s touch-and-go’. I worked and worried, running through the last time I saw her in my mind. Was that the last time I’d see my grandma?

Surprise surprise: she’s still alive. Her health didn’t go downhill at all last year. She fell, got kinda sick, and kept trucking along like she does. I think my mom might exaggerate stuff a little bit.

There’s probably certainly a blog post about my mom’s car and all of that trash in the near future, but let’s not get into too deeply here. Her car stalls out and dies, lacks power going uphill, and the stealership says she needs a new catalytic converter. Her warranty (which covers drivetrain issues) doesn’t do shit for her. It’ll cost her $1,500 to get it fixed. An automotive repair shop that she likes, Wick Automotive (Check out these reviews. Wick’s does seem like a decent place. And no I’m not paid to say that.), said they’d fix her car for only $1,000. But then she’d have to pay the stealership $160 to even get the car back thanks to a ‘diagnostics charge’ or some shit. Say it again: Stealership. (Consider this: I offer to fix someone’s car. I say, “Bring it over, lemme look at it!” They bring the car over. I find out what’s wrong with it, but it’s too complicated for me to fix. “I can’t fix this, it’s beyond my skill level. Sorry, you’ll have to take it somewhere else. Just pay me $50 for looking at it though.”) Should she have it towed to Wick’s? Should she drive it to Wick’s? Is it even the catalytic converter or maybe just a clogged fuel filter? And she only has $700 so, “Jer, do you think you might be able to help me out?”

[Insert future blog post here.]

If you’re reading this, don’t be that guy. Do not send texts to people that they could use their gloom and doom to misinterpret. If it is gloom and doom for real, I’d prefer it said right away. “Call me ASAP. My car is fuuucked!” If you need to actually talk in person to someone, give a preview. “We need to talk. Nothing big, just I want to complain about [family member].” Fer fecks sake, use the “We need to talk”s or “Call me ASAP”s sparingly over text message. They sound important and terrifying, they give the textee severe dread and anxiety, and please to the Lord Jesus H. Christ don’t use them in everyday speech.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Thirty-Five Sucks

Today is my birthday. I’m thirty-five years old. Yikes. When did I become a thirty-year-old, let alone a thirty-five-year-old? The math says five years ago, 1825 days ago (add any leap days but I’m too lazy to look that up), but my heart is telling me that it was only a few years ago that I turned thirty. I’m going to restate the obvious here but holy hell time does pick up speed the older you get.

There are a bunch of explanations for this that some great YouTube videos cover. Maybe I’ll link to one below if I can find them (I’m too lazy). First off, a year is less of your lifespan as you age. A year passing when you’re five is 20% of your entire life. Defining your life with a year is a huge portion of your experience going forward. As a kid a year is 10% of your life which means each year is pretty damn important. New adventures, new insights, new ways to define yourself, new things to learn, new people to meet. It’s all new.

At my current age one year is 2.8% of my life. At fifty a year will be 2% and at one-hundred a year is down to 1%. Each year going forward is less important to the grand scheme of your life.

Think of a pizza sliced into eighths. This is what an eight-year old sees when they break down their life. Eight big, fat, tasty slices of pizza. Giant greasy portions of the pizza. Now think of a bag of Skittles. Imagine dumping that shit on a table and seeing forty of them rolling around. If you’re forty, each Skittle is a year of your life. Each one is pretty insignificant to the entire pile of them on the table. Also, why is ‘forty’ spelled like that? Doesn’t ‘fourty’ make more sense?

The second reason that I can think of is that life and time is apparently felt by experiences. When you’re having new experiences every day time seems more filled — you have more to remember — and time seems slower. As you age you’ll probably find yourself into some daily/weekly routine that repeats ad infinitum. When I look back to the past few months that’s about all I have to define it, routine, and that makes time fucking fly by.

You can’t do a damn thing about the “percentage of your life” a year is, but if there’s one thing you can do to slow time down and lead a fulfilling life it seems to be to have as many novel experiences that you can. For someone like myself who does the same thing for literal decades its no surprise that I’m surprised by being thirty-five. When you do jack shit in life, whatdaya expect besides time, and your life, to fly past you?

I love math because it puts things clearly into perspective without any room for feeling or interpretation. I feel like I was a teenager a few years ago and I still feel mostly clueless about life. I still feel young mentally and physically (luckily my body hasn’t started to fail me in noticable ways), but let’s do some math. Thirty-five is half of seventy; there’s almost no math to actually do really. Seventy is a good lifespan, sure you can live longer but let’s go with seventy. I’m healthy but still not the healthiest person alive, so that age is probably a good time to expect to die. At the very least my body will probably be useless around the age anyways unless I really change some shit.

So I’m halfway there! Halfway to being dead. Wow. That’s a fucking bleak mind-blowing way to look at today. The time I’ve been alive, you know, all the time I’ve pissed away not having a career or a passion, and that’s as much time as I have left. Cool.

Being ten you don’t really think like this. Ten is 1/7th of a life. There’s six more parts left to enjoy. You can fuck around and be clueless all you want because who cares? Twenty is still less than a third of your life; once again you have 2/3 parts left which gives you some hope to cling onto. But halfway? Halfway is halfway, past the majority of everything you have and it’s no surprise to feel some panic about this fact. And it basically is a fact unless you somehow live happily past seventy.

My grandma will be ninety this year and I’ve tried to learn as much as I can from her. She’s miserable at her age. She’s said a few times that she’s tired and almost wants it to all be over. She’s not suicidal but seems to be waiting around to die. Young people don’t seem to understand this mindset but it does make sense. Life is only as good as your body allows it to be. She can barely walk due to arthritis. She is diabetic and has high blood pressure. She can’t leave the house without help from someone. When she falls she has to take a trip to the ER. It’d be miserable to have your body get old and stop doing what you want it to do. Sure, if your body is in good shape, fine, but if it give out around seventy — a likely situation — what’s the point of living an extra two fucking decades being miserable?

At worked I talked to a girl (not ‘woman’ or ‘lady’ because she’s my age) who I went to high school with. I asked her if she was 35 yet. Nope. August was her birthday. Huh. “How do you feel about being 35?” I asked her.

“It doesn’t bother me. Everyone will be this age someday or already has been.” She wiped it away with a shrug and a big fat Eh, whatever.

“Huh. That’s good.” Was about all I could say. I don’t have the ability to be totally passive about my current age. Another friend at work, she’s almost thirty-four, jokes about being old all the time! It’s like she’s proud of it or something. I’m not ashamed about my age but I sure as hell ain’t proud of it.

So happy birthday to me. I hope no one at work is aware it’s my birthday. I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to acknowledge it, and I want to be left alone to sulk. Oh well, tomorrow is not my birthday and I can get back to living my life and distracting myself from my ever-increasing age. You know, living the last half of my life. Cheers to the journey?

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Standing Up For Yourself is Pretty Cool

Depression is nice in a way because it forces you down to a very basic level. You sleep, you eat, and you exist because nothing seems fun or exciting to do. Even video games, one of my most basic hobbies, falls aside when I’m depressed. Like what’s the point? Despite this sounding awful, it is nice starting with a clean slate. When the depression wanes you get to decide what you actually want to do with your time. After a while video games and blogging start to sound appealing — sure that ever-present nihilism is still there, but it’s in the background — and you might as well do a few random things you find enjoyable even if they are ‘pointless’. Sometimes you have to play the game of life knowing well that is, in fact, just a game.

Depression also makes me really irritable and unwilling to put up with anyone’s shit. It’s the same as before — life is a total game — and with this outlook of ‘nothing really fucking matters’ it becomes a lot easier to tell people exactly how you feel. If someone is being stupid or a dipshit or an asshole there is no barrier to telling them off. Being nice is one of those social games we play in some vague way to keep people on our good side, network, and have opportunities and friendships in the future, but it’s all a game and sometimes you don’t want to fuck around with playing games, let alone bullshit social games. I still try to not be a dick about it, but it’s easier to speak my mind being somewhat depressed.

My mom came over last weekend while I was in one of my moods. Not angry, not looking for a fight, but ready to be as open with people as I could be. She was upset that the kids weren’t around (I’ve long since learned to not wait around for my mom) and that kind of set the tone for the day. She was going to be bitching a lot and I didn’t have any patience to deal with it.

Anyways, she’s been upset that we haven’t let her take the grandkids. She used to take them on Sundays but the pandemic ruined that. My wife is also very protective and a borderline germaphobe which doesn’t help my mom’s situation at all. Last Sunday she made another one of her pleas to let her take the kids. She gave me the whole spiel: she’s depressed, she’s lonely, she wants to take the kids, they’re like all she lives for, etc., and why wouldn’t we let her take them? I asked if she had her COVID vaccine yet. “No, I’ve been sick and I have IBS and I work a lot and…”

I said, “And what does any of that have to do with you getting a vaccine? If you get the vaccine I’d be much more willing to argue in your favor. If you get vaccinated why couldn’t you take the kids?”

The conversation moved on and wandered around until she mentioned something about getting a lawyer. I was shocked; surely I didn’t hear her threaten us with a lawyer. I ignored it. She brought up the lawyer topic again, but this time I was paying attention. “I might have to get another job and get a lawyer. I don’t want to but I miss the grandkids and we’ll see what the judge has to say about that…”

Excuse me? What?! Non-depressed me would probably let this slide — it’s surely a bluff so who cares, let her say whatever she wants — but depressed and irritable me couldn’t resist. It was such a stupid threat anyways, grandparents don’t have any legal rights to force visitation on the parents/grandkids, and if there’s one thing I find hard to resist it’s telling people when they’re wrong. What did she expect the courts to do for her? Sure, if there were abuse issues with the grandkids, lawyering up is a smart and good thing to do, but we’re good parents. So…huh?

“You know you have no legal rights to actually see the kids, right? Getting a lawyer won’t do anything.”

She must’ve misunderstood what I meant by “legal rights” here, seemingly interpreting it as me saying she “…no rights to see the kids, at all, so please fuck off mom. You’ll never see them again.” She did what she does when an argument doesn’t go her way and stormed off crying. She walked to her car, said some mean stuff to me that I don’t think I’ll mention here, and angrily drove off.

I sat on the steps outside and vaped. I was kinda shaking — that didn’t go as planned — but oh well. I took that detached view that I’ve been trying to hold onto lately when anyone is angry or depressed or upset. Their feelings are their feelings and I can’t blame myself for how someone feels. As long as I wasn’t an improper asshole that caused it by being an improper asshole that is.

A strange feeling to feel at the time: guilt. I made her cry. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything? Maybe she was right when she told me to “grow some balls?” But wait, I did show that I ‘grew some balls’ by telling her how stupid her idea was, didn’t I? Ugh, nothing made sense, and I felt terrible for what happened. Logically when I thought about it I felt okay about it. I finally stood up for myself and felt good about it, but subconsciously I felt like shit. I felt guilty. I felt like an asshole. Is that normal?

I did a Google search of “feeling bad when asserting yourself” and that was fun. Apparently that’s totally normal when you’re used to putting everyone else’s needs in front of your own. It makes sense too; if you constantly care about other people’s feelings you’d naturally feel selfish and dickish if you suddenly put yourself above someone else. Huh, cool, that’s a fun thing I learned that day. And where does that come from? Probably something from childhood, probably something caused by my mom always playing the victim that I feel responsible for, but that thought chain was getting a bit too deep and uncomfortable so I shut it off. I haven’t thought about it since.

I’m a chill, passive person who doesn’t really have any strong wants or needs. I’m fantastic at worrying about everyone else’s moods and feelings while disregarding my own. Despite this it felt immensely good to stand up to my mom, even if I didn’t really stand up too much at all. I didn’t have to. Let her get a lawyer and see how that works out. That’s an old-me outlook. I’m proud I told her how dumb the idea was and how I didn’t cave and cater to her as she stormed off angrily. I thought long and hard if I was an asshole that day. Did I speak my mind? Yes. Did I stand up for myself somewhat? Yes. Did I do it in an unkind/unprofessional/cruel way that might’ve not been necessary? No. Did I overreact at all? No. Am I writing this so I feel better about what happened? Maybe. Did I do anything really wrong to upset my mom as much as she was? No. Was this her overreaction? Yes, probably. Pulling myself out of my guilt logically worked wonders even if it did take some effort. I really think I did what I needed and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it at all. Sure there’s a mental battle about it, but I think it’s a good sign of progress.

One thing I’ve seemed to learn in life is that people like those who stand up for themselves. Everyone seems to think they like wishy-washy people that don’t have strong convictions or who always agree with you, but the people with the strongest convictions seem to be the most well-liked people out there. Not assholes mind you, just calm and reasonable people that actually believe and stand for something. They might tell you off if you deserve it or say something stupid, but they do it in a respectful way that doesn’t hint at them trying to cover up their own insecurities. Maybe you know the sort of people I’m talking about.

Two days after that, I saw my mom while visiting my dad. I acted chill and calm — I didn’t have any animosity towards her — only to be totally surprised by her. She said, “Here, give me a hug. I’m sorry about what I said Sunday, I just miss the kids and…” Huh, imagine that. I said a flat, “Eh, don’t worry about it, it’s not a big deal,” and we hugged. I still haven’t heard from her since, no text, no call, nothing, but an apology after I finally called her on her bullshit was the last thing I expected. But that’s what happens I guess. You put your foot down, show you’re worthy of respect, and people start to respect you. That’s fucking insane, who would’ve thought?, at least to me. I can’t believe I wrote a pretty lengthy blog post about this but that’s how mind-blowing the little idea of being assertive is to me. I think it’s a great start and am going to try to stand up for myself a bit more in the future. And of course not be a pompous asshole in the process.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Post-COIVD Chilis Sucks

Sunday, another insomnia day with only one hour of sleep, my friend and I went out to eat at Chilis. This is our usual hangout routine. We go to a restaurant, Chili’s, Old Chicago, Red Robin, etc. and sit and talk. In the past I used to drink heavily so that day was my first real sober challenge. Drinking while super sleep deprived is always great — it puts you in a dreamlike state where everything feels only 10% real –but I was a good boy and drank water. (My friend pounded about four Dr. Peppers so I was even healthier than him.) Honestly I feel kinda shitty about not drinking and won’t pretend that lunch was so much more fulfilling and better because I was sober. Sure I remember more of the conversation and was more present than usual, but it still kinda sucked.

This was our first trip out in over a year. COVID obviously fucked everything up and I was surprised to see the restaurant experience mostly unchanged. There were transparent plastic barriers separating the booths from each other, and people wore masks when they weren’t eating, but nothing much was different.

It came time to order and I noticed that we didn’t have a menu. When they seated us, they gave us a singular laminated piece of paper which I assumed was the menu, but I was wrong. This only showed their drink specials and appetizers. Where the fuck was the menu? My friend pointed out a QR code on the drink menu which said something like, “Scan the QR code to view the menu!” What the hell? His phone, an older Android model, didn’t have a built-in QR reader and he didn’t want to fuck around with finding an app for it. My phone, a Samsung Galaxy S10 does have a QR reader although it took some time before I remembered how to find it. I never use it. When I do use it I do so reluctantly. Fucking QR codes…

It directed me to a webpage with the menu. I copied this link and sent it to my friend. Instead of a .pdf file of the menu itself (like good old shitty local restaurants like Happy Wok have) the webpage had a ‘mobile-friendly’ layout. To look at burgers you hit ‘burgers’ button and can see their selection of burgers. To look at sandwiches you need to click the back button, then click the ‘sandwiches’ button. You cannot see the entire menu at once. Menus are great to browse and selecting a specific food category kneecaps this entirely. I don’t know if I want a burger, a steak, or a sandwich, so why force me to pick certain categories to check out?

The lack of pictures was also disconcerting and doesn’t make sense from the company’s perspective. I’m sure the menu items with pictures sell much more than ones without, and only one of each ‘food category’ had a picture. A picture of a turkey sandwich looks a lot more inciting than a description of said turkey sandwich.

Whatever, maybe I’m just bitching about change here unnecessarily. We ordered, the food came, and we talked.

Our waiter dropped our bill off, and you know those little tabletop electronic devices that you can pay your check on? Yeah, not this time. The little tabletop thingy was still there but had no option to pay; it lost its one useful function. Examining the printed check, my friend noticed a QR code. It was labeled, “Scan the QR code to pay!” Fucking hell, really? This too?

He offered to pay for my meal and called it an ‘early birthday gift,’ which was nice, but the hassle of their new QR system killed part of my soul. He couldn’t scan the thing, I had to remember how to scan the code (having relegated the ‘QR code scanning’ knowledge to my brains trash heap after ordering), and lent him my phone to type in his credit card information.

He handed my phone back to me after paying. “Here, I’ll let you do the rest.” He was talking about the survey. Oh hell yeah, I thought, I can let these fuckers know how awful this visit was. Here’s what I wrote in the comments:

No paper menus? QR code menus? Pay with a QR code? I’m proficient with technology but even this was giving me a goddamn headache.

Image some elderly couple eager to eat out in a post-COVID world. They go to their favorite restaurant, a Chili’s in Rockford, Illinois off of State Street. They sit down, and where are the menus? The waitress tell them to scan a QR code. What is this newfangled technology their talking about? The wife asks her husband what this means and he grunts angrily. He has no idea. It takes all of his effort to pay bills using the internet and now this. He takes his phone out, unlocks it, and stares at all the icons, buttons, and swipes right, left, up, and down. They become visibly distressed and can they just have a paper menu? Why is everything so complicated nowadays? Frustrated, they leave and settle to eat at one of those shitty old-people restaurants. Eight Plates. Nine Forks. Sunrise. Swedish Pancake House. Morning Dew. At least they have paper menus, sure without the fancy pictures and they’re printed in Comic Sans, but they don’t notice and it’s a physical menu.

Sure that’s blown out of proportion — I’m sure if you requested a paper menu they’d oblige — but in the post COVID world I’m assuming this was ‘justified’ by health concerns. Less hand-to-hand interaction between strangers. Less disinfecting the tabletop terminals. You touch your phone all day so what’s the problem with touching it some more to view the menu? Even if you borrow your friend’s phone, they’re your friend and you’re probably sharing more germs with them already than borrowing their phone does.

I’m not a fan of this “health concern” justification, if that’s even the real reason. Remember the drink/appetizer menu that we had? That still exists. And all the menus are laminated anyways; how hard is it to hose each one down with a sanitizing solution between uses? It isn’t. Maybe I’m being a paranoid anti-capitalist but I think COVID gave Chili’s a good excuse to cut costs a bit more. Chili’s is a big, corporate chain so the individual stores don’t print their own menus. It’s not as easy as having a manager fire up his word process/printer and add a ‘1’ to each one of the entrees’ prices, no, someone has to design the menu, print the menus, laminate the menus, package the menus, and ship them to the store. Each of these steps multiplied by how many Chili’s there are means a big expense to the company. Not huge compared to other expenses, but another thing that can be cut. Just pay the menu designers add a few IT people to make a website. Add the QR code to the ‘drink menu’ (because alcohol makes huge money so they can’t cut that menu) that links to the janky website and there ya go. Easy! And the customers will adapt.

And adapt we will sadly. People are dangerously good at adapting, even if it feels like it moves them backward. Look, I love technology — I never have to go to the bank to deposit a check or anything — but the whole point of technology is to make life easier, isn’t it? Netflix: movies without going to the rental place. Downloadable games: games without ordering physical copies. Amazon: shopping from your couch. Online banking with check despots via an app? Fucking great. Online bill pay? I hate driving so thank you. QR code menus? Nah, I don’t like it. It turns a social experience into fucking around on your phone. We eschew personal interactions in favor of our phones often enough to where introducing it one purposefully in a restaurant setting feels slightly evil, like we’re all missing the point. When I’m purposefully trying to not look at my phone to give the other person my full attention the restaurant forces me to dick around on it for five minutes. Ignoring that problem, it’s still just clunky and seems to miss the entire point of technology in the first place. Please give me back my paper menus.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Dad’s Wrecked Car Wrecks My Week

I would like to say I would’ve had a blog post out in the last week if the week itself wasn’t so damn shitty. I’m probably lying to myself here. My motivation is still at an all-time low.

I can probably get something posted Friday. Oh wait, no I can’t, because Friday is going to suck ass like every other day this week. If I’m going to churn anything out it has to be finished now. Thursday. Today was a hot day, I’m mentally and physically destroyed, and writing anything now feels like a chore. Scheduling a post also means EDITING! which is the worst part of writing by far.

Two weeks ago my dad was involved in a car wreck. I’m not sure of the details, but someone in front of him was turning right, so he slowed down like a good driver. The guy behind him, sadly, wasn’t paying attention and rear-ended my dad. This caused Dad to slide into the person in front of him leading to a three-way fender-bender. It wasn’t really a big deal; despite him being hit by a big-ass SUV in the rear, his car took the least amount of damage of the three. The guy behind him? Car was fucked. (He was younger, his mom showed up, and according to my dad she was not pleased with him. He had the worst day of three by far, not even considering his damaged car…) Lady in front of him? Car: fucked. Dad’s car doesn’t have anything to hint that he was slammed into another car, just a tiny scratch or dent on the front if you really pay attention. Most importantly no one was hurt.

(His tank of a car, by the way, is a 2006 Chevy Cruise. If you’d like your next high-mileage used car to be impervious to damage, look into the Cruise.)

I looked at his car the following day and it was fine. Cosmetic damage to his trunk and bumpers but the car itself was fine. All the doors worked. The thing drove okay. Nothing of functional importance was harmed at all. He asked me my opinion on what he should do about the car: ignore the wreck or make an insurance claim? Dad doesn’t have a job, can’t afford shit, and is waiting on Social Security to either approve or deny his benefits/payments/whatever they’re called. In short, I told him to not worry about it. Cars are meant to get you from point A to point B, his car still did this, so why even worry about it? Insurance probably wouldn’t do shit about it anyways…

He didn’t take my advice (big surprise there). He made an insurance claim which was itself a pain in my ass. My sister and I have a deal where we pay for his insurance and split the bill. When I set this up I put everything in my name. My email, my phone number, with only his name on the policy. It was easier to do it that way. Since his insurance claim involves him he should ideally be the guy dealing with the insurance company. Since they’re unaware of my impromptu setup (we didn’t think he’d ever actually make a claim), they’ve been blowing up my phone trying to contact my dad. Emailing me and me having to relay the email to him and calling me so I can call him and tell him to call them back. They miss his call and call me back. It’s my own fault — I even said so when I replied to their email giving them his actual contact information — but it’s still a pain in the ass to deal with.

I was wrong about his claim by the way. They did not do jack shit; in fact they decided to total his car and write him a check for $6,075. Holy hell! I was certain I put him on liability insurance; where did all the money come from? It didn’t make sense to me at all, but hey, I’m not a hot-shot insurance worker. Apparently this makes perfect sense to them. They grabbed his car last Thursday.

(We use Metromile. They’re a pay-per-mile insurance provider fitting for my dad, who logically, shouldn’t drive that much at all. I own 200 shares of Metromile (MILE) and was tempted to sell them when I found out about the massive payout to him for insignificant cosmetic damage. Was this company really the one I should be investing in?)

And here’s where my trouble really begins. It was easy: dad gets his check, we get him a new car. Nope, life is never that easy.

Since Monday was Memorial Day his check didn’t arrive until Tuesday. He also doesn’t have a bank account. I was to put the money into my bank temporarily. Okay. Tuesday was a trip to my bank so he wouldn’t have to pay a whopping $200 check-cashing fee. (I should open up my own check cashing place. A 3% fee to give people their own money? Hell…) Normally I deposit any checks I receive via my bank’s mobile app. Doing this with a check in his name might be a terrible idea, and I didn’t want to hold things up longer than I needed to. Dad is fairly independent and wants a car, so we’ve been trying to do this stuff as quickly as possible.

We went to look at cars (on Memorial Day) and that sucked. All the places were closed so we drove to those questionable used-car lots that are more numerous than I remembered (they’re everywhere) and shopped unhindered by pesky salesmen. He knew he couldn’t buy a car that day, but surely he’d find one that he liked. Nope. Buying a car is a big deal and isn’t as easy as deciding on a fast-food restaurant when hungry. It’s Thursday and he still doesn’t know what car he wants.

Since the cash is in my account, I’ll have to be involved in the car buying process as well, whenever that actually happens. Not really ‘involved — I’m not buying the damn thing — but he can’t really leave with a car until I write a check to the place, usually the last fucking step in the process. One more big hurdle before I’m free, but if we don’t pull this shit off tomorrow it’ll surely be a shitty weekend driving him around to wherever.

Today involved driving him to the smoke shop for tobacco and finding him a window AC unit. This whole fiasco occurred right before the first real heatwave of the year. He’s a bigger guy so he kinda suffers unnecessarily in the heat and needs an AC. Luckily, my mother-in-law had an older AC unit to give him; the errands were a bit easier because we didn’t have to buy him a new one from Menard’s or something. Hauling an AC unit around an hour after waking up isn’t a joy, but it’s better than going shopping.

Obviously I’m driving him everywhere he needs to go. He tries not to be a bother and I don’t mind helping, but it is getting old having that in my schedule to work around. My insomnia is still kicking my ass — I don’t sleep until 6 a.m. and try to be up around noon — and each day is a struggle to pound down as much coffee as possible and get out of the house to haul dad around. By the time I’m functional, I have a good two and a half hours to do stuff before going to work. Sometimes we’ll finish early, not early enough to go home but too early to go to work. Tuesday I was in the work parking lot 45 minutes before I had to start, just sitting and zoning out to music. I did get to see what time my coworkers pull into the parking lot which was mildly interesting. Some people get there really early, but who was I to judge?

Friday is a fun day because I go to work at 7 p.m. instead of 4 p.m.; I have all the time in the world before work to ‘be productive.’ Hopefully I can get something written but probably not though. Groggily awake at 12 p.m. Therapy at 2, hauling dad around to hopefully buy a car around 3:30 p.m., and how long will that take? Tomorrow is fucked. Saturday will probably be fucked as well. I know it’ll be fucked. I can predict the future: Dad won’t have a car yet and I’ll have to take him to get groceries or something. Sunday I’m hanging out with a friend (cool and all, but damn I’m dreading being social…), and maybe I should put a new belt on the lawn mower? And maybe I should weed the garden? And I need to go to the store. And I need to clean the cat litter. Those windows in my car really need to be cleaned — I haven’t washed them since fall — and the outside could stand to be washed as well. And…and…I’m sure there’ll be tons of time to write a blog post.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Insomnia Sucks

Looks like I’m doing this again. I’ve always been a night owl, but being a night owl is a bit different than having full-blown insomnia. Going to sleep late/waking up late is fine — at least you’re sleeping — while insomnia, the total inability to sleep, is hell. That’s been my existence for the past two days and it is not enjoyable. Anyone who has suffered through it knows exactly what that special hell is like.

I had a severe bout of insomnia years ago. I think I was awake for three or four days. Memory of this time is fuzzy, luckily. I watched a YouTube video about anesthesia a few days ago and it reminded me of insomnia. Apparently some anesthetics don’t stop you from feeling pain, they stop you from remembering the pain. Isn’t that a terrifying thought? In a way memories are all that your sense of self is; if you don’t remember something it’s almost like it never happened to you. Back to insomnia. Luckily I don’t remember the first episode very well. Nothing concrete sticks in my mind about it. All I remember is some fuzzy feeling that I was miserable, terribly miserable. I recall desperately trying to nap at work during one of my two-hour long breaks. I think I did nap for a bit and felt a little better. I suppose it’s nice that insomnia wreaks havoc on your ability to form memories. Once it’s over it almost seems like it never happened.

This time isn’t nearly as bad; I only suffered through one/two day(s) without sleep. I awoke at 1 p.m. on Monday and didn’t fall asleep until 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, more than 24 hours without sleep. I slept until 3, a whopping 1.5 hours of sleep, so I could drag myself to work. Work was awful and I tried sleeping on break to no avail. After work I was tired and felt like my body was physically falling apart, but somehow I ended up staying awake until 5:30 a.m. reading The Wheel of Time. 40 hours awake with 1.5 hours of sleep. It was bad.

I slept okay last night, but still have trouble falling asleep. I have severe anxiety about insomnia which only makes the problem worse. Those vague memories from years ago terrify me, and laying in bed hoping to sleep while being terrified of not being able to sleep only makes it harder to fall asleep. It makes you feel like a dysfunctional human, a total failure of an organism. Sleep is as natural as eating food or breathing; can you imagine the insomnia equivalent of those two? Desperately wanting to eat or breathe but unable to do so. I’m thinking asthma is a good analogy for the later, and maybe a stomach virus or eating disorder as an analogy for the former. Do any other species have insomnia? Is this just a problem with being human, a problem with higher consciousness itself? It seems being as aware as we are is a downside in many ways — we’re prone to overthinking and worrying, stuck in the past while living for a vague future — and maybe this is another example of it. Do other animals have brains that are so overactive and filled with fear that they cannot sleep? Maybe they do, but I doubt it.

Sleeping is easy: you just have to stop your brain from having thoughts. Easy right? You get to think about whatever you want. No, that’s not how it works. Anyone who has casually tried meditation knows that this is harder than it seems. Have you ever read a book only to find out you read a paragraph only to have no idea what you’ve actually read because your thoughts just wandered away to whatever random shit popped into your mind? The mind seems to hate being idle, to have absolutely nothing to think about, so it just makes shit up. Meditation, having no thoughts and perfectly clearing your mind, is nearly impossible. Here, try it now. Stop reading and think about nothing for a half-minute or so. I just tried it. I looked at the wall and noticed the reflection off a picture of the TV that the kids are playing Minecraft on. One of them just said, “Come back in Kitty Cat,” and this simple input kicked off a chain of thoughts in my brain. Nothing important enough to cause insomnia or trigger bad thoughts, but enough to have a thought. It’s like thousands of needles popping the void bubble of zero thoughts over and over again. Once you have perfectly zero thoughts, one just appears out of nowhere making you start all over again searching for that perfect zero-thought void.

Yesterday in bed I realized how shitty controlling your thoughts actually is. My brain would not shut up. I thought to myself, “Okay, I just need to not have any thoughts. I’ll lay here and think of nothing. If I start to think about something, I’ll shut it down.” It worked for about five seconds. It felt like I was batting thoughts down like a person swatting flies or mosquitoes away from them. The act of not thinking was a thought in itself. It keeps your brain working trying to not work. Even when I didn’t have a thought I started to notice the strange patters of color that you see sometimes with your eyes closed. Even without a thought my brain was making up shit visually. With my eyes closed I’d notice how the colors flowed and note the shapes they took, and this became a thought. I also noticed how Talking Head’s “Burning Down the House” was continually on loop on the border between conscious and subconscious. Even without having actual thoughts things were still happening that I was hopelessly paying attention to.

This is what millions of people suffer through every damn day, and how do you even fight against this? It’s literally your brain, the thing that is YOU, not letting itself sleep. It’s doing what it evolved to do — thinking in a higher fashion that any other known creature — yet it undermines itself and the body in the process. Sometimes I hate my brain. Most of the time I hate my brain. I wish I was a goose; they seem happy enough eating grass and shitting everywhere. I doubt a goose stays awake until the sun comes up thinking about not thinking and how hard it is to do. I doubt a goose is kept awake at night thinking about it’s inevitable death, or the size of the universe, or how strange it is to exist, or asking itself what the hell is consciousness anyways?

Not to be a total miserable person here, plus people seem to read blogs to find out useful information and not hear someone whine, but maybe meditation is a solution? It’s not as easy as popping a few Xanaxs, but maybe by training your mind, letting it Git Gud at not thinking, you’ll learn to have no thoughts. And with no thoughts comes sleep. It’s like any other skill; practicing it makes you better at it. You know, that’s what I’m going to do. Maybe I can report back on it in a week or two, but probably not knowing my blogging history. Thanks for reading!

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.