Author Archives: TheBlackhairedGuy

About TheBlackhairedGuy

I'm a guy. And I have black hair. Well not really because it is slowly turning grey. I suppose TheNotquiteBlackhairedGuy doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it? I write the blog EverythingSucks.blog as well as dabble in some freelance writing.

Rockford Sucks: A Love-Letter to my Home Town

Rockford is one of those cities that’s hard to explain to other people. It’s not an important city like Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, or any other “big name” cities you’ve heard of. You can’t mention Rockford, Illinois to someone and have them understand what you’re actually talking about. Is Rockford a classy, small town in Illinois? A larger college town with a fancy economy supported by the mass of college kids in the fall and spring? An old, rundown, ex-industrial town like Pittsburgh? What exactly is Rockford? Hell, even people understand something upon mentioning “Omaha, Nebraska” as bland of a place as that actually is; Rockford is somehow even blander. Rockford doesn’t mean anything and it’s hard to explain something when it really isn’t anything at all. I can tell you what Rockford isn’t and that would be easier than describing what it is. Rockford is a lack of character. A shell in a way.

Rockford is close enough to Chicago to be described by it (“Rockford is close to Chicago…”) but far enough away for it to not really mean anything. Rockford is about 30 minutes away from the outer suburbs of Chicago like Elgin and Schaumburg and the miles of farmland in between excludes it from being a Chicago suburb. Sadly, Rockford would be more notable in this way. Rockford isn’t like Peoria, Moline, or Champaign where it’s its own shitty, solitary city, but isn’t close enough to Chicago to be a suburb. This leaves it in it’s own unique category of being “sorta near Chicago” but not actually part of the Chicago ecosystem.

Hell, we even renamed our airport years ago “The Chicago/Rockford International Airport” because being sixty miles away from Chicago still requires our airport to be named something-Chicago-something to be “notable.” Our airport, despite the name, has nothing to do with Chicago at all, except serving as a convenient location for diversions given heavy storms around the Chicago O’Hare Airport. That’s it.

Rockford is one of those derelict midwestern cities that has its days of glory well past it. The neighborhood I grew up in was surrounded by large and abandoned factories and buildings, and as a kid I always wondered what exactly was in them. I’m talking buildings that take up numerous city blocks that are five or six stories tall: what was left in their remnants? They weren’t being used anymore, but surely someone owned them? What was left in their carcasses? Most of the lower windows had long been shattered and boarded up after bored and mischievous teenagers busted them all out with rocks; you couldn’t even look in and see what the interior was like. The unbusted and boarded windows on the third story and above were obviously impossible to look through. These buildings always mystified me, long-dead symbols of something that Rockford used to be decades ago. Something that it wasn’t any longer.

Apparently the city used to be a heavily industrialized city, and I was told (I’m not sure about the factual basis here) that during the Cold War the Soviets even had our quaint and shitty city targeted by their ICBMs; decades ago Rockford used to be important enough that someone on the other side of the planet felt it needed to be destroyed in a nuclear first-strike against the USA. That’s something right? Sadly (not sadly?), this isn’t the case anymore. I was never concerned for a 9/11-style terrorist attack because of Rockford’s total lack of notability. If anyone wanted to make news, they’d hit a high-profile target. Not Rockford. Communism is long gone and no one feels the need to hurl nukes at Rockford anymore.

Rockford does have a few notable things about it though, if you could call them that. You might’ve heard of the Rockford Peaches, the female baseball team depicted in the Tom Hanks’ film A League of Their Own. You can even see the nearly-forgotten ticket booth that still stands near the river in a fairly run-down and shady looking neighborhood. The actual baseball diamond has long since been demolished and turned into a school. But the ticket booth still stands next to a bunch of shitty houses and small businesses in a neighborhood you probably wouldn’t want to linger in for too long.

I could’ve driven down here and took my own picture, but I also didn’t want to be bothered doing so. It’s not that big of a deal and it’s cold outside. Google Maps works just fine. Image from Google (obviously).

Rockford is also known for Sock Monkeys. No one ever explained to me why this was a thing. And I don’t want to read up on why it’s a thing either.

Cheap Trick, a fairly famous rock band popular in the 70s and 80s also came from Rockford. Strangely I’ve never really listened to them. In fact I feel less inclined to listen to them because they came from Rockford, like I feel pressured to be a fan because of the city I live in or some shit. Their most famous work is At Bufokado (really At Budokan but my attempt at spelling it as “Bufokado” was hilarious enough to leave in place) which actually is a pretty decent album. As for the rest of their discography? I have no idea. At Bufokado was good at least. All I do know is Rockford — the city, the actual government apparatus that is Rockford — felt that Cheap Trick was notable enough to plop signs up of them randomly around the city. I’m especially aware of the one on Spring Creek Road. It shows a bunch of old musicians with Rick Nielsen, their guitarist, looking like a fucking immature kid. Like that’s his look or something. With the stupid guitar with the five necks to it for some reason. He always has this goofy smirk on his face and something about him is immensely punchable (maybe he isn’t that bad). Cheap Trick. Rockford. Yay.

CHEAP TRICK!!1!!1 I’m kinda tempted to find the signs depicting the other band members — like a Rockfordian scavenger hunt — and since I’m a Good Rockford Residence and kinda a nerd for random classic rock knowledge, let me name the other three members: Bun E. Carlos, Tom Peterson, and Robin Muthafuckin’ Zander. Did I get them right? I don’t know.

Note: Rick Nielsen looks even worse when he was sporting a beard/goatee thing. Everything about that look oozes child molester. I don’t know how he ever thought that was a good look for him. Go Google it.

OOoo and before I forget, Fred VanVleet, a big basketball player dude, also grew up in Rockford. He won the 2019 NBA Championship playing with the Toronto Raptors. Yay? I mean cool for him, great job!, but who gives a shit that he grew up in Rockford? It doesn’t make Rockford any cooler; it’s not Rockford that made him win the NBA Championship.

The biggest thing Rockford has going for it (if you could call it that) is the aforementioned and terribly-titled Chicago/Rockford International Airport. UPS set up a fancy air hub back in the 90s — supposedly UPS’s second-largest sort facility — which drove literal tons of cargo volume to the airport. In the past few years Amazon has also begun setting up shop at the field and appears to rival UPS in the package delivery business. While air cargo companies don’t make the biggest news, the airport is rather lively, employing thousands of people to sort, ship, and load packages onto airplanes. In a city of 150,000 (as the sign on West State Street claims it to be at least) package and cargo companies might employee perhaps 1 or 2% of the entire city’s population. While no one really knows about it, the Rockford Airport Chicago/Rockford International Airport is a large cargo airport, one of the largest in the US (according to the link, the 19th largest. Well…). This is probably helped by the total lack of passenger and airline traffic allowing cargo companies to have the airport all to themselves. As the meme goes, it’s ain’t much but it’s honest work. It’s also where I work. (Surprise)

It is the popular and chic thing to talk total shit about Rockford. Everyone who lives here rips on the place nonstop. You can’t help but understand them to some degree. Rockford, as I’ve described, is kinda a black hole of nothingness. There is nothing notable about this place at all besides a few kinda random bullshit things. Old, derelict buildings. An old baseball team they made a movie about. The goddamn infernal sock monkeys. Fred VanVleet. AND CHEAP FUCKIN’ TRICK! It is your typical, bland, and unremarkable midwestern city seemingly well past its prime with nothing for its citizens to be proud of. You can’t make a career here outside of retail and customer service. Even if you find a cushy upper-management job in Rockford you’d almost certainly be working in customer service. Even shipping packages is another form of customer service. To really make something of your life you need to escape, at least to attend a college or a university, only returning with a degree to do something semi-notable.

But outside of all of this, what else does someone want from a city? I really think while some other cities are nicer, have more “going on,” have some semblance of a “scene,” especially in their downtowns, they’re all more or less the same. Sure, while Madison might be nicer, it isn’t some Eden-tier paradise to escape to. I don’t think any city is perfect, and while some are much better than Rockford by whatever metrics you want to measure, who actually gives a shit? While I hate Rockford just as much as the next Rockfordian, I guess I realize that it is home to me. These bombed-out, potholed roads are my bombed-out potholed roads. And the shitty Walmarts that constantly smell like marijuana? Well, they’re my pot-filled Walmarts. The forgotten husks of factories gave my childhood some mystery to think about. The bike path along the river, the lighted Morgan Street Bridge, the uneventful and dead downtown, the bums on the corners begging for money, and the drunkards stumbling around on the roads at 11 p.m., well, it’s all home to me.

My Parents Suck

I think the primary challenge to the new blogger (at least one as anxious as myself) is getting over the fear that someone they know — friends, family, or coworkers — might read their writings and judge them, perhaps harshly. Anyone who has blogged for more than a few months knows this is an unfounded fear: most people don’t actually give two shits about what you’ve written let alone recalling the fact that you’ve been writing in the first place. I recall my cousin asking me about this blog a year or so ago: “So you’ve have, uh, what’s it called? A blog? And you write? That’s really cool. I haven’t actually read any of it yet though…” Yeah. No shit. No one in the family does and I’ve stopped worrying about them reading it a long time ago. I feel like I can bash them all I want and no one would ever know.

This post will be a little different though if you read the title again. My parents do “follow” this blog on Facebook even though I don’t think they’ve read a single thing I’ve written. Ever. It seems fitting for the topic at hand, doesn’t it? Despite not reading anything I’ve written, I think them seeing a big, fat, blue and white banner saying MY PARENTS SUCK might get them to change their minds, if only temporarily. I’m not going to post this on Facebook. I’m not scared they’ll read this, I’m just worried that if I write this in the frame of mind that they could read it I might not be as open as I would be otherwise. And if they do read it? Who cares? It might do them good to read it and especially so if I wrote it as blatantly truthful as possible because I thought that they wouldn’t read it. So this will just be a secret between myself and those who find it themselves.

I don’t think kids realize how much their parents affect them growing up. I’ve always felt separate and unique from everyone else and being a child was no different. I’ve always felt like myself and never considered that my family/parents where shaping me as a person. Obviously being around parents/guardians as an impressionable kid will change you, it just never felt like it at the time. As a child you also have no outside perspective as to how other parents really are. All you are aware of your narrow personal situation are are hopelessly ignorant of other families. You don’t realize that other families can and are horribly fucked up or immensely better than yours unless you have knowledge of them. In short, being raised in a fucked up home can easily lead you to think the situation is normal. You grow up inevitably altered and perhaps even damaged without even being aware of it. It’s scary.

As an adult I’ve grown to appreciate how many flaws probably stem from the damage my parents inflicted, usually unintentional damage. And I want to stress that we (my sister and I) didn’t not have a bad upbringing with a capital B. No one was molested, abused, or tortured. We never starved. We never suffered. But I think this made it harder for me to accept the damage; by not having a Bad upbringing how much damage could’ve been done? It doesn’t take a dramatic event to mold you though. The small and nearly imperceptible hits you take daily slowly bend and form you even if you’re unaware of it.

The Mom

My mom was crazy. Unhinged. Angry. Depressed. Memories are vague from my childhood but she would always be yelling at us. Tell us how ungrateful we were and how we didn’t do anything to help out around the house. Her anger was always relegated to yelling and despite constant threats to “beat our asses” she was rarely violent. We’d usually laugh it off because she was never a threat. A dog with a fearful bark but no bite. My dad and her would scream and fight at each other and I vaguely recall her grabbing knives a few times, but usually would just throw random shit at him. He never seemed to do anything bad to her, but I later come to understand what I had missed with age; my dad wasn’t a saint.

She was very selfish and self-centered. Everyone had to cater to her. She is still this way although she has improved immensely over the years. But she is still a fucked up person. You always need to do the work, or to have an understanding of her unique situation; she always needs to be catered towards. If she owes you money, for example, you need to drive to her house and get it yourself. And you need to be grateful that she even paid you back the money! “I hope you’re happy” she has said to me a few times upon paying me money for our mutual phone bill. Yes, I’m serious. She also “borrowed” $200 from me once and upon nagging her for a payment, she wondered why I didn’t want to help her out and wasn’t grateful for her raising me. It wasn’t the point, I said, a loan was a loan and you can’t just change the terms of what was agreed upon. I still don’t have my $200 either…ANYWAYS…

Apparently she struggled with mental illness and depression the entire time we were kids (and still does), but it always seemed like an excuse. She’d endlessly bitch, yell, complain, and scream at us and justify doing so with her depression. If you tried to argue any opposing point of view about anything she’d usually break down crying, play the victim, and talk about her depression. Always on the attack until you attack her and then she is the victim. And endless “woe is me” story. You literally cannot tell her she’s wrong in a firm way without her being a victim. Considering the previous paragraph, depression always seemed a way for her to make anything instantly about herself. She was the one hurting, no one else understood this, and to hell with anyone else suffering: it was her that needed the most help.

The Dad

My dad was much more “normal” I guess, but his demons and flaws were just not as obvious to us kids. I remember writing a paper in fifth-grade calling him “my hero” and also remember my mom being ultra-pissed that I wrote it. “He’s not a hero, you don’t know the bad things he’s done.” I attributed it to her being mean and pissy (like always) but surprisingly she was onto something. Dad is fucked up, and maybe even more so than our mom. We just didn’t know it really. Mom was openly fucked up whereas dad wasn’t.

He sometimes would drink and would become mean and violent. He’d throw shoes at us. Always the loving father sober he would be transformed by a few drinks into a total asshole. He told us many times “I never wanted you guys anyways” or something along those lines. When we’d get upset by it he’d claim that “drinking made him tell the truth.” It’s one of those things you don’t think sticks with you, but apparently when you write a blog post about it decades later it still hurts. LIke, shit, that was really mean. I was really hurt by it. Luckily he didn’t drink that much, maybe once a month if I could guess. But when he did drink things weren’t good.

That was a classic sign of my dad’s flaws: being too hidden to be honest with himself or others. He’s still that way too, maybe even more so. Passive-aggressive as anyone could ever be. He never directly insulted you or had an opinion as most of his actual opinions and thoughts were hidden behind jokes where he could say what was on his mind and laugh it off if challenged or questioned. Anything emotional was hidden. I’m assuming this is why he’d be a dick when drunk. Everything came flooding out and you couldn’t really blame him because he kept packing baggage deep within himself. And this is why my mom would be immensely mad at him; he would say smart-ass “joking” remarks that were very incendiary towards her, and her being fucking crazy in the first place would totally lose it. He’d pick at her, subtly insult and provoke her and all of this went right over the heads of the short and ignorant children that we were. Dad wasn’t evil, but as mom was well aware he wasn’t a saint either.

I’m certain my dad’s emotional immaturity stems from his mom’s — our grandma — death from stroke when he was twelve. I assume he was faced with some serious emotional shit and coped by just stuffing it deep inside and ignoring it. He had a slew of brothers and sisters and being one of the oldest required him to grow up quickly and act as a parental figure. As I’m talking about myself being fucked up by my childhood situation, you also have to realize my dad is also fucked up from his childhood situation. You can’t blame him I guess. I guess you can’t blame anyone really. It’s one big giant chain of fucked up people raising fucked up kids. And so on.

And Myself

And now onto myself. How am I fucked up? That’s hard to answer because knowing yourself is hard to do, at least it is for me. I struggle with depression, maybe some genetic holdover from my mom. I don’t know. And my depression is usually hidden, tucked away, and kept quiet possibly due to my mom’s bombastic treatment of the subject. Remember depression was her go-to, catch-all reasons for everything. It didn’t feel like serious depression even if it really was. It seemed like something she’d bring up to win arguments or to get us to do things. She never tried to get help (that I recall), making it seem even more trivial. I guess I’m totally opposed to this. I see depression as a serious thing, so don’t want to bring it up to strangers and coworkers every day or to play the victim all the time. In a way I probably keep it too hidden and end up being more like my dad. Shit.

Most of what I learned through my mom was an opposite reaction to her. She was open about mental illness to a degree that trivialized it; I keep it hidden because it’s a serious subject to me. My mom would also yell and act generally crazy while I try to remain calm and logical. She was/is also terrible with managing money, and as a response I ended up being super talented at managing money; this still leads me and her to arguing like the examples above. I do have her mouth, as you can fucking tell from my writings, but otherwise she taught me who not to be and it probably worked out for the best honestly.

As for my dad? I think I have the same “opposite action” thing going on from him, especially lately now that I’ve realized the ways he is flawed. As stated my dad avoids problems by not acknowledging them. He recently had a pulmonary embolism where his breathing became worse and worse over a few weeks. A few weeks. Just avoid the problem until it goes away, right? He’s also terribly overweight but doesn’t seem to care about it, not enough to change his habits at least. He’s also diabetic but doesn’t give two shits about insulin and checking his blood sugar as well as he should. It’s the same emotionally: closed off and not acknowledging any issues whatsoever. So as a reply to this I’ve been trying to be much more open and receptive of my problems. Realize the problem, make a plan to solve the problem, fix the problem. It’s easy and the hardest part is realizing the problem in the first place.

On a more visceral level I think I’m so terrified, anxious, and frightened because of my upbring. Once again our parents arguing was never an obvious problem at the time, but something seems to have been carried into adulthood from the fights. One scenario really stands out. A few years ago my dad moved in with my mom to help her pay for her house (yes they are divorced and yes they did move back in for financial reasons and no it did not work well at all) mostly because she’s bad with money. They somehow got into a yelling argument just like they did decades ago and something deep inside me appeared. A visceral terror and fear of people arguing. The precipice right before a simple disagreement turned into full-fledged yelling, and possible knife-grabbing and waving and object tossing affair. I felt panic and on-edge and tears creeping around inside my eyelids but adult me was able to choke the feelings back down, but in the moment I felt like I was instantly teleported back into my eight or ten-year-old body feeling as helpless and terrified as a child me would feel. When you have those memories from childhood hidden deep down inside you where you’re not even aware of them, is it that hard to imagine that they might also be the source of anxiety and fear that seem to haunt me daily?

I also have very strong beliefs about my upbringing and my inability to persevere in the face of difficulty. I totally blame them for how I am with this aspect of my personality. I had very good grades as a kid. I was smart. I was the kid the teachers would “want an entire classroom of!” or some bullshit like that. I didn’t have to try hard to succeed at school or anything academic. My entire life in school was one of ease — no effort, no motivation, no difficulty — and I’d be rewarded anyways. They also kept telling me how smart and talented I was and how I could do anything I wanted to do if I just applied myself! Bullshit. This is my biggest regret about my childhood and what I blame my parents for the most: I didn’t learn how to persevere.

I know they were trying to be supportive to their kids (maybe as a reply to their own parents’ lack of support?) but that’s how you scar them and cripple them as adults. Before this blogging ordeal I never tried anything difficult that was outside of my comfort zone and in some ways I think I enjoy blogging so much because of the challenge to persevere in the face of zero obvious progress. I never experienced failing over and over until I succeeded because I never had to do that as a child. By endlessly encouraging me as a child they crippled my ability to weather defeat and learn perseverance. I learned that I didn’t need to take chances. I’m a softy. I can’t take rejection or failure. I can’t hear criticisms. And damn is it a struggle to unlearn things you’ve had beaten into you for literal decades.

This was a really long and rambly post that probably didn’t offer any readers anything in return, but I wanted to vent a bit. How have your parents (or other adults) fucked you up? Did they do it in small and subtle ways like mine did despite having an average childhood? Do you have strange personality quirks that you’re not sure where they came from? Did you have a good childhood and your parents actually didn’t cause you much harm? Are you a well-off and well-rounded adult? Or did you have a childhood from hell where all you learned to do was be beaten and insulted day after day? Where your adulthood is mostly a struggle to live and deal with all the trauma inflicted upon you?

Double-Shifting (and Boredom) Sucks

It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.

-David Foster Wallace
…one of these hideous bastards. Note the stubby and goofy looking wings.

I’m currently sitting in a van on the cargo ramp at UPS. The current time is 11:17 a.m. and my crew (consisting of about 9 people) is scheduled to unload an Airbus A300 cargo airplane due to arrive at 12:09 p.m. It’s a little less than an hour away. And what will we do in the meantime? Nothing: we sit. This is what we do at UPS. The motto tossed around to new-hires is usually this: Hurry Up and Wait. I’ve been there so long that it’s basically lost its meaning to me.

The coworker in the front seat has his phone’s volume on full-blast playing some shitty mobile game. I don’t even know what game it is or if it’s even shitty, but it’s a mobile game so it probably is shitty. Also considering the certain coworker that’s playing it leads me to think it’s certainly a shitty game. I hear the cheap sound-effects of change clinking and crowds cheering feebly spewing out of the phone’s minuscule speaker which gives the sound a tinny quality. It’s like someone rubbing crumpled aluminum foil directly on your eardrums. The coworker next to me sometimes glances over in my direction and his breath is terrible. The people in the rear of the van — a Chevy passenger van that seats about 15 people fully loaded — are small-talking that everyone does when there is nothing to actually talk about. Because silence in and of itself is terrifying and scary. Two coworkers are in the back silent ripping away on their vapes. At least they’re not bothering anyone so I give them credit for that.

I’m working the UPS day-shift this year because there is no reason not to work it. UPS is a union job so it’s all-around a pretty comfy affair. Our contract with the company dictates that anything worked over five hours in a day is time-and-a-half pay: my typical $19.95 wage skyrockets to nearly $30 after the fifth hour. In a nine-hour day we’re taking some serious money here, and because I’m bored trying to kill time and math is something fun to do, this is a gross daily pay of exactly $219.45. Holy shit. Maybe double shifting isn’t too bad after all? While the money is good it’s not my primary reason for working the extra shift in a twisted sort of way if you can believe it. I’m a bum. I don’t do anything productive. I usually sleep and write during the scheduled day-shift hours. Sometimes I play video games. There is no reason not to work because making $30 an hour is hard to pass up when you literally have nothing better to do.

My typical shift at UPS is the twilight shift, 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. By doubling on days I work an 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. shift with an hour-ish lunch break in between. And why can I pick up these extra shifts around this time of year? Because I work at UPS. We deliver boxes. And it’s December. Fucking think about it. We’re being swamped by packages and UPS as a company throws around money with complete disregard simply to get people like me to stick around longer than usual, take extra shifts, and get those damn packages shipped. Mostly so the stereotypical American in the fury of Christmas Holiday shopping doesn’t become pissed that their boxes showed up a day or two late. Weeks before Christmas the Holiday itself obviously, but still they will be very upset nonetheless.

Knowing the shift was going to be terribly long and boring I brought in something to read: David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. I almost feel bad complaining about taking extra shifts where I have enough downtime to read a book, write blog posts, and get paid nearly $30 an hour to do so, but the way anyone gauges anything is from their own relative personal experiences and it’s difficult for me to see anything that pisses me off in a positive light even if it is, logically, a positive thing. I hate being bored even if $30 is being thrown at me every single hour.

I started reading the book about a month ago and became bored, yes bored, about halfway through and only recently began reading it again (curious timing, looking back on it). The major complaints about the book are that it’s boring as hell, and even throughout the book the author explains (or maybe it was in the forward?) that the book is almost meant to be boring. Wallace’s most well-known novel Infinite Jest had it’s moments where it lagged a bit, but was a much more riveting story overall. Hell, The Pale King is about IRS employees and the whole IRS being central to the story almost forces it to be a boring story. So it’s not that Wallace is just a boring writer, it seems that he made the book boring on purpose. It’s the theme of the book: boredom. While I don’t know exactly what he is trying to say about boredom, I know he is trying to say something about it. And the book forces you to face the boredom directly; it doesn’t talk about boredom as much as it forces you to live through it by boring you to death. Some chapters are so full of random boring details about forms, procedures, codes, and acronyms that it had to be a conscious choice on the author’s part. And in my current bored state of double shifting, the novel seems like the universe’s way of talking directly to me (again). I find myself immensely engaged with the story that is so bland and devoid of anything obviously purposeful at all.

I realize that what I’m scared of with my extra work hours is not being burned out, or not having enough free time, but of being bored. Something about being bored is a personal affront to my very being it seems. My normal UPS shift forces me to find things to do for sometimes literal hours, and by taking on a second shift I get to double my boredom! And in some ways it’s worse than that; by working a nine or ten-hour day my phone inevitably dies. No writing. No blogging. No social media. No music. No internet. Nothing. Sometimes the work is so chaotic that the boredom comes in bursts here and there and doesn’t allow you enough time to sit down, relax, think, read, or grasp onto your fading sanity. It’s work just to stop minutes later. And then work again. And then stop. It’s Hurry Up and Wait. Let’s also not forget the one or two-hour lunch wedged in between the shifts either. Not enough time to go home and relax but long enough where you can’t sit around at work. Hence me grabbing McDonald’s, sitting in a parking lot at the end of runway 25 at KRFD and watching planes take-off and land. Like this:

And reading the book I run into this, the end of which I quoted at the top of this post:

The underlying bureaucratic key is the ability to deal with boredom. To function effectively in an environment that precludes everything vital and human. To breath, so to speak, without air.

The key is the ability, whether innate or conditioned, to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex. To be, in a word, unborable. I met, in the years 1984 and ’85, two such men.

It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.

-D.F.W., The Pale King

The universe compels me to listen to what it’s trying to tell me. Apparently this time the universe works through the dead author David Foster Wallace and his unfinished novel The Pale King. And if Wallace in his boring-ass book is right, and if double shifting is as torturingly boring as it is so far, well, it looks like I’m well on my way to success, maybe even enlightenment. The key to modern life! I’m going to learn to be bored. To be okay with it. To sit for hours and hours in an airplane cross-legged and perfectly at peace being the embodiment of boredom. Totally fine staring out at the twinkling runway and taxiway lights that appear as bright, vivid, twinkling stars strewn over the ground admiring them endlessly.

(Closing Note: I was trying to make this more of an “update post” but was carried away with my mindset for the day. I wrote the post while bored and just went with it and it ended quite differently than how I originally intended it to end. So I guess this is the “update part” just tacked onto the end. I’m working a bunch of hours. I probably won’t be very active on here unless I knock some stuff out on the weekends and schedule them to post on the weekdays. I can write on my phone just fine, but I can’t edit or post. This also explains the “thanks guys!” post on Sunday. December probably won’t have any record blog views because of this yearly hell I live through; posting will surely suffer. I also might not be very active commenting on other people’s blogs. So if I disappear it isn’t because I forgot about you, it’s because I’m bored and I can’t help being bored and I have no escape from the boredom.)

Peterson's 12 Rules of Life Kinda Sucks

Disclaimer before everyone jumps my shit: I actually enjoy the book so far. When you have a blog called Everything Sucks and every post has been titled “[Topic] Sucks” you need to keep with tradition. I’m sorry if it sounds kinda click baity, but it sounds a ton better than “12 Rules of Life is A Decent Book but Here are Some Complaints I Have About It.” Just for the giggles of it I made the corresponding banner so you can see what I’m talking about:

This looks and sounds stupid.

I think I might get shit on for writing this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has been so well-loved and well-received by nearly everyone that I myself just can’t get into. The only other book that comes close, I think, was the terrible Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiosiakawakaia, and I really don’t understand how I haven’t written a post about that awful fucking book yet. This puts me in a strange mindset: maybe the people that like this book — everyone that is — are wrong? Or maybe they all see the obvious wonder and greatness of this book and I’m the only idiot that doesn’t “get it.” I’m leaning towards the latter because why wouldn’t I? Seriously though, my supervisor has read the book and loved it. Her brother is currently reading the book and loves it. A few bloggers I follow have written about the book and they appeared to have also loved the book. Goodreads gives the book a 4 out of 5 which for Goodreads standards is amazing. Reviews on Amazon have also given the book a 4.6 out of 5, which, yeah, is really good. The consensus is that the book is good. And I don’t feel that way somehow.

I also want to say that I’m ignorant of any “controversy” that Peterson is apparently known for. I went into the book being a clean slate of opinions on Peterson himself, so this slightly grumpy post has nothing to do with me thinking he’s a bad person or being mad about whatever the hell it was that pissed people off. I don’t know about any of it.

Currently, I’m about a quarter of the way halfway through the book. (This is considering that reading three six out of the twelve rules should be a quarter halfway at least. I don’t know how much Peterson decides to rant after the twelfth rule either. It could be a lot.) and while it is a bit early to start critiquing things I’ve noticed a pattern that has been driving me bonkers while reading. I think it’s his writing style. Or his tone. I don’t really know how to sum it up but the book makes me angry when I read it, and sometimes irrationally so.

The problem is not that I disagree with the rules, it’s that I don’t like how he goes about explaining the rules. The first six rules are rather straightforward and (you’d think) should require little in the way of explanation. Rule one is to stand up straight (basically). To have good posture. Rule two is to treat yourself like another person in terms of your self care. That one seemed like it needed a bit of explaining so okay, fine. Rule three is to only have friends that want the best for you. Sounds good to me. Four is about comparing yourself only to who you used to be and not to others. Great one! Rule five: don’t let your kids be jackasses. Yes, agreed. And rule six is don’t shoot up schools/workplaces to only criticize others when your own affairs are in order. And with number six I could see some explaining being required.

The first thing I noted was that Peterson’s chapters are long. Not actually long but consistently longer than I think they need to be. He seems to explain his steps in such a vague and roundabout way that I’m continually wanting him to just wrap things up and move onto the next step. I’ll find myself thinking, “Okay, I get it! Wrap this shit up!” and upon realizing there are ten remaining pages to a chapter wondering why the hell he needs ten pages to make his point. This is made worse by the straightforwardness of most of the steps. I feel that four out of the six are relatively easy to grasp the logic behind so a quick summary should suffice. Nope. Peterson needs to take up thirty pages to make his point on nearly every rule.

Rule two was especially painful to slough through. Summing up his actual reasoning goes something like this: we care for others more than we care for ourselves. He starts off by saying that people frequently don’t take prescribed medicine but are more than happy to give medicine to their dogs or another person they care about. In short, take the care and love you have for others and apply it to yourself! Care about yourself as if you’re in charge of being a third person in charge of yourself! It makes sense and it’s a wonderful way of looking at life.

How does Peterson actually go about explaining this though? He basically uses the thought process from above, but the topic rambles on and on about order and chaos, somehow equating masculinity to order and femininity to chaos. He also gives like a play-by-play of the biblical “fall of man” story from Genesis and while it’s interesting to read even I’m not sure how it plays into caring for yourself despite having recently read the chapter. I can’t recall much of the rambling. I think Peterson was talking about our inherent hatred for ourselves or something. Who knows. It was struggling through this randomness that I found myself wanting him to just get to his point. Wishing for a clear, “This is my rule, and this is how I came upon my rule.”

You have to give Peterson credit for getting people, and myself, riled up though. Check out what I wrote at the end of chapter two; I let loose on the book and this is the first and only time I recall being so angry that I started writing a small essay in the book itself.

IT’S TIME TO RANT BOIS

I get the impression that Peterson likes to hear himself talk or is very cocky about himself. Self-esteem is nice to have but it comes across in a negative way if you overdo it and this is the vibe I get from the book. It seems like he had an offer to write a book about his rules of life (which the introduction conceitedly titled “Overture” describes) and just started packing it full of unnecessary worldview and philosophical things, sort of showing off how smart, wise, and talented he is or something. At best parts of the book like this seem unnecessary, at worst they come off as gratingly self-aggrandizing.

Once again to stress my conflictedness here: I like the twelve rules so far. Each rule that I’ve read through seems legit enough to adopt into my life. I haven’t came across a single rule where I’ve shaken my head and thought, “Nope. Peterson is full of shit. I’m not following that rule.” Everything makes sense. It’s just the writing and style of the book that pisses me off.

But I have to admit it’s nice to not enjoy a book as much as you’d think you’d enjoy it. Whenever I read self-help books I usually find myself agreeing with the author too much; after all, a published writer with a wildly successful book can’t be wrong, right? I’ve always been wary of this like it’s a sign that I’m too gullible with my reading or something. So it’s refreshing to actually disagree with someone for once and to be reminded that books are written by flawed and opinionated humans just like myself who could be wrong, or at the very least are someone I don’t have to automatically agree with. In this aspect 12 Rules is stupidly refreshing to read. It gets me thinking. It gets me saying to myself, “Huh? That’s fucking stupid.” It gets my blood boiling. It makes me write paragraph-long rants at the end of each chapter bitching about what Peterson has written. But somehow at the same time I mostly agree with the book. His twelve rules are something that I really think about adopting into my own life. The book is good, I just wish Peterson would keep his ranting a bit more on topic, or not come across as so confident that he appears overwhelmingly cocky and stuck on himself. But those are just like, my opinions, man.

Things to be Thankful For

This is a different post from the sort of stuff I usually write: I basically want to thank people for supporting me. I already fired off a few sappy social media posts doing the same thing, but I really don’t think the social media sites give much overlap and support for the blog itself. Most of my readers seems to come from the WordPress community so it would be kinda shitty to thank everyone else but them. Consider it a love-letter of sorts.

Firstly, my Amazon royalty payment this month were a WHOPPINGLY MASSIVE $0.66! Woo! While this is useless pocket change compared with what established and successful writers rake in (I assume), I’m trying to view this in a positive way; people actually read my stuff and I’m getting paid for it. Many of these readers are from Europe and India, and while this isn’t that surprising in 2019 I’m still amazed that people on the literal other side of the planet have read the dribble that I’ve written on this shitty laptop. When you sit down and think about it it’s pretty damn amazing and surreal. This was also the third month I’ve earned pocket change as payment, and is also the most I’ve made thus far. Thanks to any and all people who have read my books on Amazon through the Kindle Whatever Program. (I always forget what it’s called.)

In November this blog also had the most viewers ever. The previous highest month had been like August or September and viewers have basically plateaued since; this was discouraging in a way. But something happened in November where I was able to actually write consistently and post consistently. Despite some writer’s block mid-month, late month I found myself writing all sorts of random stuff. And apparently my posts weren’t total shit too? I know in my self-esteem post I stressed (because the book I was reading stressed it…) that you need to own your talents as well as your flaws so I guess this is me trying to “own” the success of the blog in the past month. I mean it makes sense: I wrote the damn posts, and it’s my blog, so who else would I want to pat on the back besides myself?

Well, the readers obviously. Duh. I feel like I can’t give myself 100% credit because of what I had written here: I have no idea how to write a purposefully good post. The stuff I pour hours and hours into has minimal response while posts that I rattle off about mundane and pointless stuff (to me at least) get the most views, likes, and positive feedback. Basically I write stuff and post it and hope and pray that something about it clicks with people. I have no idea what I’m actually doing where each blog post feels like a random shot in the darkness where I hope to hit something. I guess I’m saying the record monthly viewers in November had nothing to do with me being deliberate or calculating and I feel like I was just lucky. Like everything worked out perfectly in November. To sum it up: good job Jeremy for writing/posting and for also being extremely lucky to have people read and enjoy what you’ve randomly written in November!

After all of that rambling, I want to basically thank any and everyone who has read my stuff. I don’t think anything I do is that good so it’s mind blowing to have readers. It doesn’t make sense. It’s surprising. It’s humbling. No one has to check my stuff out, but they do for some reason. And an even bigger thanks to my handful of regular readers: you guys know who you are! As negative as I am and as much as I bitch and as much as this blog is about things that suck, you guys are awesome. Thanks for sticking around and I hope you all continue to stick around until, well, whenever I burn out on writing or something.

My Laptop Sucks

Let me introduce you to my computer, a Lenovo laptop that is about three or four years old. It’s amazing how time flies because I didn’t think it was that old. My reason for buying the damn thing was me deciding that I’d like to pretend to be a writer, author, blogger, or something. At least I’ve been pretty successful at sticking with it because I’m still writing and posting. My computer at the time was some derelict desktop PC that was about ten years old at the time. It being a derelict desktop PC meant that it wasn’t portable at all; any writing I wanted to do had to be done in the cold, lonely, dark, and in the summer occasionally flooded basement. It wasn’t very conducive to productive writing that’s for sure. But besides that, the catalyst for “upgrading” (if you could call it that) was this: Google one day sent me an email or a notification stating that Chrome wouldn’t be supported on Windows XP anymore. At that time that I realized that, yes, my PC was old as dirt. I couldn’t deny it anymore.

On my quest to pretend to be a writer the aspect of a shiny, new laptop was also enticing. It could be my multi-hundred dollar “promise” to myself that I would write. It’s hard to not write when you spent $300-400 to do so. And since it was new I’d have even more incentive to write.

I went to newegg.com (I would link to it, but they’re not giving me affiliate money so fuck the small effort required to do so) and searched for the cheapest shit I could find. The one I purchased was about $300 if I recall it correctly. This is not a whole lot for a laptop and the reviews explained why: it was a “low-end” laptop that seemed to have a lower quality build, cheap speakers, low processing power, and basically everything about it was “lower-end.” One review said something like this, “The computer is good for basic work. I bought it for my daughter for college and it’s perfect for simple stuff like note taking.” Sounds perfect for writing huh?

My intentions were to also get a shitty computer so I wouldn’t be tempted to play video games on it. This laptop runs Kerbal Space program and Flight Simulator 2004 (!!!) even slower than the decade-old PC in the basement did. Mission Accomplished I guess.

Hang on. My laptop dropped the WiFi signal again. Let me restart it. Because that’s the only way to fix the problem.

And I’m back. This is what this post is really about: my shitty laptop’s inability to stay connected to WiFi. What happens is this: I take a break from writing to either eat food, use the bathroom, or wander off simply from being distracted. If I’m gone for more than five minutes the WiFi signal is lost and any and all troubleshooting doesn’t fix the problem. It also happens if I close the screen or put it into sleep mode. I usually take these breaks between actually writing a blog post and posting it, and you can imagine the slew of things that can go wrong.

I load the post into WordPress, and WordPress has a “save draft” button that usually works just fine. If the internet is lost though, WordPress does not save a draft despite telling me so. Countless times I’ve hit the “save draft” button, had it tell me that saving the draft was successful, all without having internet; WordPress didn’t save a damn thing. Luckily Google Docs saves changes even offline (and tells you so), so editing posts there doesn’t cause me an issue, and only when I make changes in WordPress do things magically go missing. It is soulcrushingly frustrating to lose a post after you’ve edited the hell out of it.

Making the problem more frustrating is my inability to solve it before the issue occurs. When I’m writing and things are going okay I don’t care about any possible lurking problem about WiFi and internet connectivity. It’s only after things go wrong do I feel the need to solve them. But as stated before, this usually occurs in the middle of uploading a blog post so I usually solve that problem before even giving a damn about the recurring WiFi problem. Also, when you lose internet the first thing you want to do is an internet search to see if anyone else has the problem and what the possible fixes are. Internet out, I want to solve it but can’t search anything because the internet is out. And if the internet works okay? Well, then I don’t care to solve the problem because there is no problem to solve.

Windows PCs are pains-in-the-asses to troubleshoot too. All the customization and freedom that comes with a  Windows PC also means troubleshooting is frequently oblique and complex. A few solutions I’ve looked up involved using command prompts and all of that and while I’ve completed a few of them they still haven’t solved the problem. As with everything, it isn’t a major problem that is threatening my writing or blogging in anyway, it’s just frustrating as fuck when I have to shut my computer off anytime I need to leave it for a few minutes. That or restart the damn thing after it drops the WiFi signal.

When I left the computer this time I manually shut off WiFi, and then put it in sleep mode. I turned it back on, and manually turned on WiFi and that seems to have worked. Dammit maybe I do have a fix after all? I just need to shut WiFi off anytime I leave apparently. While that might be clunky as fuck, it sure beats restarting it multiple times while trying to post something. It’s a good PC and serves its writing purpose admirably, but damn is it annoying when it loses internet. And thanks for listening to this utterly pointless rant about my shitty computer.

Conversing Sucks: Limited Conversation Points

Trying to conserve valuable ‘conversation points’ is a struggle.

Note: In the chase for record monthly viewers this month (I need about 55 more views), I’ve finally gotten my shit together and and posted two days in a row! Sometimes you just hit that stride where you write a blog post that flows so easily and wonderfully that it doesn’t feel like a chore at all. This is one of them, and why there is a new post so soon; I actually haven’t gotten my shit together.

I’m an introvert, and a classic one at that. I’m also a shy introvert and while most people think the two words are interchangeable apparently they’re not. But even knowing that I don’t think I’ve ever come across an obviously outgoing introvert and sometimes think they’re a myth. I don’t even know what a person like this would even look or act like. I’ve probably came across them numerous times and just never knew what I was supposed to be looking for. I rambled a bit there, but shy and introverted. That’s the type of person I am. INTJ. Possible Type 5 enneagram. But that hasn’t been confirmed yet.

I should also say that I have some suspected and undiagnosed problems with social anxiety. I’m always wondering how people are “supposed to act” and find myself overthinking any and every remotely social situation I find, or even imagine, myself being in. If anything makes this painfully clear it should be this very blog post where I’ve written 2,000 words about talking to people. This social anxiety has never been properly diagnosed so the degree and even the fact of it is questionable. I don’t know, but it sure feels like I have social anxiety and if I don’t I do feel sorry for those that do have real social anxiety. This also brings up that age old question of whether people are more alike or different from each other. Maybe everyone feels this way and I’m blowing it out of proportion? Or maybe it really is a problem with me as an individual? The only person’s brain I can be inside is my own.

I’m a firm believe of something like a “social interaction point scale” or whatever it’s actually called (I’m sure it has a proper name). The idea is this: we all have an allotted amount of social interaction “points” that we can use within a day and once these are spent, well, I don’t really know what happens. Maybe you shut down like a robot that ran out of electrical power where you can’t talk or interact at all. Or maybe you just get really moody and while you can still force yourself to interact you can’t “deal with it” anymore. You turn grumpy and bitchy and start yelling at people, being curt, or just giving them constant side-eye. This “point system” makes perfect sense to the introverts such as myself. After talking to people, especially certain people I work with, I find myself mentally and even physically exhausted. I feel drained. As for how this “point system” works for extroverts who are energized by social interaction I have no clue. Maybe social interactions add points while time melts them away. Like a clock always ticking down to zero. But I don’t know. Remember, stuck in my own head and all of that.

And the fact is that people vary wildly in how draining or invigorating they are to talk to. You have to give the diversity of people credit; with people you will never find yourself feeling like you ever “have them figured out.” Every single person I talk to is different and unique in their own way and I’m not talking about lifestyle, physical traits, beliefs, or whatever, even though all of these differences are real. I’m talking about conversations. Talking to a person is always a unique experience and there are always subtle conversational differences between even similar people.

Some people I can talk to enthusiastically and easily for hours on end; it’s like they don’t make a dent to my social interaction point total. These conversations are always interesting and fulfilling even if the topic being discussed is something mundane. It’s like something clicks between myself and the other person. Sometimes I even think these people might add points which sometimes throws my whole identity as an introvert into question. Maybe I’m an extrovert with certain people and it’s only others that I find draining? Hmm. And obviously on the other side of the spectrum are those unique and special people whom I hate talking to. They’re instantly draining and I can never pinpoint exactly why. It’s like our personalities are so goddamn different that there is no meaningful conversation going on at all. I will literally find myself spacing out while making the damndest effort to pay attention out of the sheer politeness of being a respectable human being. It’s not that I don’t want to pay attention to them, it’s that I literally can’t. My brain won’t allow it. It goes into rest mode. Sleep mode. Hibernation. Whatever you want to call it. My go-to example here is a conversation I had with a well-meaning lady at work a year ago. She literally talked to me for twenty minutes about how she did her laundry. Yes, laundry. How she separated the clothes based on color/shade, washed them, relaxed while folding the clothes, and found the entire process to be almost an escape from the hassles of everyday life. Seriously. I couldn’t take it. Twenty minutes.

And there are all the grey areas in between that you can dream of. Some people I feel submissive talking towards, they lead the conversation and are in charge, and other conversations I feel dominant in, the rare conversation that I lead. There are fun conversationalist, serious conversationalists, the people who like to constantly joke no matter what, or the people who constantly bitch about stuff. There are people who you can’t actually talk to but can only talk at, they provide nothing in the way of actual two-sided conversation. And there are some people who can only talk about themselves. No matter what, these people play a complex game of conversational chess to take any topic, sentence, theme you’re talking about and make it about themself in as little back-and-forth motions as required. Obviously they’re exhausting to talk to as the conversation is blatantly one-sided. And you’re not being paid therapist wages to listen to them whine, bitch, and complain either.

I used to deal with conversations I’d found myself stuck in just because it’s the right thing to do. People are people and you should respect them and whatever other feely-good bullshit you want to spout off. Something like they enrich the world. I believe this stuff — seriously — I’m just terrible at taking the high and noble road and actually implementing it into my actions. Basically the general theme of what I was bitching about in the enlightenment post; I have the right ideas and I’m just a terrible person in general. But lately I’ve had a twisted revelation that throws all niceness out of the window, a sort of blatant acceptance of who I am as a person, as douchebaggy as it is. Given my point system theory here, why would I want to sacrifice my precious and limited points talking to someone that drains them? Why aren’t I selective with my points? When there are a handful of people whom I love to talk to, why wouldn’t I save my points so I can spend them where I’m happiest? It isn’t a radical idea, but might be radical to me being as shy and introverted as I am, but I can actually decide who I talk to if I wanted or needed to. I’m not obligated to talk to anyone.

To hell if we don’t do this in every other aspect of life when it doesn’t involve people. I don’t sit down and watch random movies that I’m not interested in “just to watch them.” With books — especially with books as they require a lot of time — I don’t force myself to read things I’m not enjoying or slough through some bullshit book to prove a point. Video games, music, YouTube videos, and food, with almost everything we are immensely discriminating towards because we have no reason not to be. I’m not advocating staying ignorant and tucked firmly inside your comfort zone at all times, but you need to know what you enjoy and be decisive with the time that is given to you. You can’t piss your time away doing everyone else’s interests for them and no one expects you to. It makes sense and no one would shit on you for being this way. We’re picky about our time and we treat it like the precious resource it is.

And so back to conversations. We (or maybe just myself? Who knows.) aren’t very picky with how we spend our precious and limited conversation time/points and the only reason I see this being any different from anything else is because people are involved. Once again I invoke the “people are special, unique, and beautiful” outlook here that I agree with; it’s easy to stop reading a terrible book and there is no real personal insult to anyone by doing so but it’s much more difficult and possibly insulting to stop talking to a person because they’re awful to talk to. I don’t think it has to be this blatant thought, you don’t have to flat out tell someone, “Look, I just can’t talk to you right now. My mind is seriously shutting down and won’t let me pay attention to anything you’re saying. But it’s not your fault it’s mine!” That’d be terrible to do. But you know how conversations are; they’re fluid and chesslike, a game of back-and-forth and give-and-take where one thing you say leads the other person to say something. If you’re sort of aware and talented you can always find a way out of nearly everything. A convenient excuse to use the bathroom, or directing the topic away from something terrible to something more interesting usually works. Or passing your “conversational baton” to another person, swapping conversational roles with the unknowing, ignorant sucker standing next to you allowing for your selfish escape, your points saved up and your motivation mostly intact.

As stated at the end of this post, I have a friend who likes to rip my worldview apart in a fiery outburst of his usual optimism. When complaining about all of this to him, he pointed out that the places we feel most angry, upset, and awful are the places where we have the most room for improvement. This is the direction of optimal growth and possibilities. These things that piss me off, the boring conversations where my brain shuts the fuck off, are like a giant neon arrow sign saying, “Jeremy, this is where you need to go to have personal growth. RIGHT HERE.” If only I could face my fears, realize that this is something that just irks the fuck out of me, maybe I could learn to deal with it and grow as a person. What would happen if I got over my anger of talking to these certain people? Would I even have anything to complain about anymore? Could I learn to love and accept these people as they are? Maybe this is my path of personal growth and peace with humanity and the universe? Maybe.

But I just hate talking to certain people. And my points are precious. And maybe I’m just a terrible person because I want to drop these conversations faster than I drop a boring-ass book. Maybe I’m just not wired for it, and as the wise prophets on Facebook say, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.” I mean that in the most goddamn sarcastic way possible: I’m joking. That saying is stupid. Maybe I should sacrifice some conversation points in the pursuit of personal wisdom and growth. But damn is it difficult to do.