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.

Dipshit Family Members Suck (Part Two!)

Obviously this is a sequel to my last post. I didn’t think I’d have anything else to say about the matter but here we are. As mentioned in that post, I had cut ties with a few family members that I had simply given up on. They seemed beyond gone, beyond any sort of logic or reasoning, and a detriment to my own mental health. It seemed wise to just be rid of them than to worry about how the hell they turned out the way they have over the past few decades.

My cousin was one of them and I haven’t seen much of her recently since I have no contact with her on social media, but my wife is still friends with her. Yesterday I was downstairs, laying in bed, reading a book from The Wheel of Time series, and my cousin posted another one of her ‘protest videos’ on Facebook. It wasn’t just a video post but a live Facebook post of the protests. My wife told me about it and I rolled my eyes, trying to stay fixed on the epic story which is The Wheel of Time, even mentioning that I didn’t want to really see or hear anything from the video because I didn’t want to deal with any of it at the time. I was reading and any of my cousin’s shit could simply fuck off for the time being because I really wanted to know what the fuck Egwene and Nynaeve would do after the Amyrlin Seat discovered that, holy shit, maybe the Black Ajah were going to Tear to capture Rand and whatever-the-fuck-that-magic-sword-was-called and maybe it was an obvious trap but who gives a shit anyways? If the Black Ajah set a trap, fuck it, catch them in it and fuck their lives over. Anyways…

I know I mentioned her videos in the last post and I should admit that I never watched any of them: I didn’t need to. Her descriptive captions seemed to be enough to understand the gist of what she was trying to describe. “More protesters causing trouble!” “Urgh, looks like another night of problems!” You know, various shit like that. The subject of this post was captioned with, “Another protest in wonderful Rockford.” It’s all you need to know; she’s obvious opposed to any protests and sees them as a problem and an inconvenience. I mean they are inconvenient, and that’s the point of them, but the fact that she can’t see past that obvious self-centered fact was all it took for me to cut ties with her. But what did the videos actually show?

My wife played the newest one yesterday and as much as I tried to ignore it I couldn’t. The Wheel of Time ceased to hold my attention over the screaming of the Black Lives Matter protesters and the snide remarks from my cousin, her boyfriend, and the various other stereotypical white people grouped around them. It was a twenty-minute long video and it stole my attention after the first five-fucking-minutes. It was bland and boring where nothing really happened but was also peppered with a few subtle seconds here and there where everything seemed clear as day. Basically it was fascinating to watch.

There were a bunch of people along a street in Rockford screaming, yelling, with masks on, and holding signs. I don’t even recall what they were saying as it was all kind of a roar where you couldn’t hear much. Not that we have many protesters here in Rockford, Illinois and I’d estimate the number around fifty, but the shouts and screams seemed incoherent and unidentifiable. The cops were closer towards the camera as the protesters filled the far side of the street, and they kept the corralled mass away from everyone else and out of traffic.

My cousin, her boyfriend, and a few other stereotypical white people (along with the news cameras and such) stayed along the nearest side of the street, staring across at the protestors screaming, yelling, holding signs, wearing masks, and being all around pissed about shit. The white people spectators stood around passively drinking beers from plastic cups as if watching zoo animals in a cage or a sporting event. At this point I saw the first signs of the chasm separating these two groups. One group drinking beer and spectating, and the other totally fighting for equality and rights.

About five-minutes into this kinda boring video came the first gem from my cousin. She said, “I’m just out here trying to enjoy myself and these people are screaming and hollerin’ and making noise. Just trying to enjoy myself…”

It kinda reminded me of this:

“Come on, Walter. This is not a First Amendment thing man.”

Now, to give some background to this, her and her boyfriend were at the weekly “Rockford City Market” which is (as you can guess) a local market set up in downtown Rockford with vendors, shops, food, and drinks that happens every Friday evening in the spring/summer/fall. Apparently they went down there to “enjoy themselves” and were interrupted by the Black Lives Matter protesters who (obviously) saw this as the perfect place to have their voices heard by the passive denizens of Rockford.

From that point on the gems kept coming. At one point my cousin, upon hearing something from a protester, said, “Oh! And that isn’t racist?!” Her boyfriend at one point mentioned something like, “They don’t pay taxes anyway; why do they think they can stand in the street?” Obviously I don’t have to mention the typical ‘White Lives Matter’ lady who tried to get a chant started but failed miserably. She chanted the phrase about five times at the top of her lungs and no one gave a shit enough to join in. And as my cousin videoed this with her phone pointed slightly towards the ground as if she was hesitant to be seen obviously recording anything, her and her boyfriend kinda stood there and drank their beers and griped about the riff-raff across the street ruining their pleasant day.

And…and I can’t even tie all of this together into a nice bowtie where everything makes sense. All of this is so strange for me to actually see and try to process into feelings and words is really hard. It was very strange to see a family member of mine, in our own town, post a video during a protest and complain about that very protest. Like I don’t even know where to begin with how fucked up this feels to me.

I suppose my first gripe was with her “I’m just trying to enjoy myself, and…!” comment. There are a few things to unpack here. Firstly, she was down at The City Market on her own volition and was complaining about the protest there. After she said that I wondered why she was even standing on a corner videoing protestors if she was “trying to enjoy herself.” If you’re trying to enjoy yourself, stop videoing protestors and enjoy yourself! The cops kept the protestors out of The City Market area and there was no unrest that I could see in the actual market. Yes, people were screaming and holding signs across the street, but this doesn’t mean she couldn’t “enjoy herself.” If anything it looks like she gave right into the protests, walked to the corner, and tried to make some ‘statement’ about it. She wasn’t trying to enjoy herself; she found an opportunity to make a big deal out of protesters making loud noises and gave right into it making herself look like a total ass in the process.

Most importantly she seemed to hold her right to “enjoy herself” over the rights of others. You know, over the First Amendment rights of others’ freedom of speech. No, her right to “enjoy herself” seemed to trump the rights of anyone else who encroached on her even if they weren’t directly bothering her at all. It’s entitlement and feeling special about yourself: others are bothering you and how dare they do that!

This also ties into a comment that she mentioned on Facebook in reply to my wife’s comment (who totally blew up on her by the way); it was hinting towards ‘white privilege.’ She said “There are lots of black people who are rich and famous and black who have more money than me and really nice houses and cars. I don’t have all of that so how am I privileged?” and I couldn’t help but view the comment in terms of how she acted in the video. That was white privilege. The fact that she thought her right to “enjoy herself” was somehow more important that what anyone else deemed important. You know, those pesky First Amendment rights to free speech and protesting that all of us others have, and how dare those people exercise their rights and ruin her peaceful, drunken Friday at the Rockford City Market. White privilege, like racism itself, is subtle: you never notice it. White privilege isn’t all whites being rich and all blacks being poor. No one notices you’re white and says, “Hey, you’re white! We’ll give you a job because of it!” Or gives you a few $1,000 because you’re white. No, it manifests in mindsets like this and in subtle ways. She thought she was special, couldn’t be bothered to have her day disrupted, and shit all over a group of people over her own personal “inconvenience.”

It’s also shocking to hear her boyfriend mention something about, “They don’t pay taxes!” to a group of black people. This is the subtle racism that I’ve hinted at before — he didn’t say the n-word but you know exactly what he meant — black people don’t own anything, don’t pay any taxes, don’t pay for the roads, and shouldn’t be able to use the roads for anything. This one is somehow easier to deal with because it’s so goddamn silly, but still it shows the old racist view that ‘blacks don’t actually do anything for society so society doesn’t own them a damn thing.’ Luckily, this isn’t how society works. If your home is on fire the fire department doesn’t check to see how much you’ve paid in taxes. If you call the cops, they don’t check to see how much of your taxes went to the police department. If you need to walk/ride a bike/drive on a road, no one cares how much taxes you’ve paid because they’ve been build for society in general. There is no fucking ownership of the roads/police department/fire department/courthouses/etc. and the fact that someone is claiming blacks “don’t pay their share” misses on a few points. Do they even not pay their share [CITATION NEEDED]? And if they did, does it even matter anyways? No one is keeping track. The roads are for everyone’s use — the public’s use — and nothing else really matters.

Most shocking to me was the general crowd of middle aged white people standing across looking at the protesters, being “anti-protesters” if you will. They didn’t stand for anything except being opposed to what everyone was protesting about, just a reaction to whatever was happening at the time. Half of them had beers in their hands, kinda milling around with their phones out, just spectating and bitching. Of course no one had their masks on because COVID’s all a hoax anyways. They didn’t stand for anything and only were an opposition to the other side. There was a group of Black Lives Matter protesters across the street and they didn’t like it. They didn’t like the yelling, the ruckus, the trouble of it all. A sort of why can’t these people just shut up and deal with how life is? as they stood around and drank lite beer out of plastic cups. I recall seeing my cousin’s boyfriend (the legit white supremacist/alleged pedophile) wandering back and forth with his beer while wearing flip-flops. Having some idea how he feels — that whites are superior, blacks are loafing off the system, and maybe worse, maybe they should be enslaved, exported to Africa, or whatever else he thinks — and seeing him in a wife-beater and flip-flops was so ridiculous I guess? It’s hard to explain the mix of emotions I felt but it was so damn surreal. I didn’t know wether to laugh about the silliness of it all or to cry knowing we could be heading headfirst into a possible Civil War. Were these the real white supremacist? Were these the real racists? People that I’m related to? People with plastic beer cups lurking across the road from Black Lives Matter people? People wearing goddamn flip-flops on a Friday griping about how blacks don’t pay taxes and shouldn’t have access to the roads? This is the elite white race that feels threatened by other cultures? That thinks their society is being diluted and erased? Those who want their history and culture preserved? That shits on others for standing up for their own injustices? For fucks sake, what is there to be proud of?

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Dipshit Family Members Suck

About a month ago I received a Facebook friend request from someone I wasn’t really expecting: my uncle, who is like 60-something years old. It apparently took him until 2020 to get on the Facebook bandwagon, and I don’t know how anyone in this situation wouldn’t feel mildly worried.

Some background on him: he’s a retired postal worker, a big fan of guns and shit, has a conceal-carry license, loves motorcycles, and is a raging hoarder. Literally his house is unlivable because of all the shit that he stores there and he lives with my grandma because his home is so packed full of junk. While I’m not a huge fan of stereotypes, just go with me here because they’re sometimes useful, if you were to stereotype him, what would you consider him? A raging environmentally-friendly liberal sympathetic to the BLM movement or some dumbass gun-toting right-winger? Not that politics seems to be too relevant here, but recall I’m talking about him being on Facebook. Political alignment is immensely important in regards to how people act on Facebook.

I was weary when he requested me as a friend on Facebook because like most people above 50, you know they’re just going to spam political bullshit and stupid memes all the time. It’s like par for the course and I was dreading seeing what he’d post. Luckily, he didn’t really post much of anything. He kinda stayed quiet and didn’t seem to force any opinions, whatever they happened to be, onto his fellow Facebook friends. Still, part of me was weary. To me, my uncle was the stereotypical Facebook fucking proto-nutjob; sure he wasn’t a nutjob yet, but if anyone were to become a nutjob, it’d be someone like him. It felt like he was a ticking time bomb where there was only a matter of time before he went off the damn rails. Given enough time for the propaganda to work on him, he’d eventually lose it.

He still isn’t too familiar with Facebook seeing how he acts on the site. I’ve always been fascinated with ‘social media norms’ and those who break them, clueless to how things are “supposed to be done.” For example, you never like someone’s picture from five years ago (unless they share it or something) because then it’d be obvious that you were fucking lurking through their pictures. Or sending messages to people you don’t actually know really well. Things like that. Social media has a new set of rules that differ from the rest of society and this fact is new for a lot of people. That being said, my uncle, being totally clueless about how people are supposed to act on Facebook, went on displaying his insanity in a new and different way: he sends direct messages to people.

I still haven’t actually replied to any of his messages, because he never actually says anything in them. Everything I’ve received from him has been images and videos that he’s shared. No context, just a string of images/videos/memes that randomly appear in my inbox. Whatever. At first these weren’t political and were like AC/DC songs and shit, but a week ago I received this:

Okay. Once again, zero context. I agreed with the image — I think America is going down a dangerous path where something bad is going to happen (especially in regards to the recent bullshit in Portland) — but some part of me thinks even if he does agree with the image’s sentiment that it’s not in quite the same way as I do. It almost seemed threatening in a way, either implying that people like me might get murdered by people like him or that us (if we did agree) would have to go murder Americans we didn’t agree with. While I waved it off initially, something about it stuck with me. I was almost certain my uncle had finally spent enough time on Facebook to discover the radical pages that spoke to him and was now spewing his bullshit to anyone he could. He’s always seemed kinda unhinged, but now with Facebook influencing him how much worse would it get? Remember, he’s a fully armed dude who always has a fucking pistol on him, even in the safety of his my grandma’s home and at kid’s birthday parties, and I really worry about someone like that finally snapping over being enraged by Facebook propaganda.

He also recently sent my wife and I a video about…well, I’m not sure, because I didn’t fucking watch it. She did though, and I think it was some congressman questioning Dr. Fauci about why shutting down a church in Nevada was okay but the shutting down the protests weren’t. It is kinda a good question — aren’t the protests helping spread COVID? — but the entire thing seemed like fucking propaganda. Like he’s doing us a favor by ‘enlightening’ us about some GOP senator grilling Fauci. Luckily she’s more courageous than me and actually replied to him saying that she disagreed with his shit, but still appreciated him as a person and a family member. And as for me, well, I just ignore whatever he sends because I’m a coward.

My Cousin

I think this post kinda got me started down the road to deleting the dumbfucks I’m friends with on Facebook. Shortly after posting it, I started to delete anyone that I disagreed with. I still have a few conservative friends, and one I especially appreciate. He’s one of the “old school conservatives” that is worried about how Trump has kinda taken over and dictated the direction of conservative policy. These are the people I can get on board with — someone I disagree with on policy but where I can respect what they’re saying — and these people are in short fucking supply nowadays. Basically as soon as anyone posted some silly AlL lIVeS mAtTeR bullshit I’d cut ties with them because there’s little to no factual basis or policy to anything they’re saying. It’s propaganda.

Fun fact and a fact that I know is kinda wrong: I’ve been a lot happier too. No one I know on Facebook has ridiculously different views with me and we all seem to be on the same page. It’s nice, I’m living in a happy echo chamber and while I know it’s wrong, I do feel better about the state of the world. Like I can live in peace thinking that maybe 40% of the US (and people I actually know and are related to) aren’t supportive of our proto-fascist president and his ‘secret police’ in Portland and other major cities. Like, hey, maybe the world isn’t such a bad place after all?

My cousin was one of the fatalities in my purge. She lives near downtown Rockford, near the BLM protests, and would constantly post videos of the protestors with really nervous-sounding comments like her apartment would be torched sounded like someone a few steps removed from these people right here:

The protestors don’t give a fuck about you because you’re not the goddamn problem. You’re not the police and you’re not systemic racism. No one protesting gives a fuck about your shitty apartment with absolutely nothing worth stealing and every post of hers screamed of a total misunderstanding about what the protests were actually about. The total inability to see anything from someone else’s perspective, that maybe people do have lives with different struggles than you. I didn’t want the implied ignorance or negativity so I deleted her.

A few days ago I received a message on Facebook Messenger saying something like, “Hey, I noticed we’re not friends on Facebook. Did you delete me?” And like my usual style I ignored it. Sure, I act like a hardass deleting people and writing corrosive blog posts about people but that doesn’t mean I actually want to have a discussion about why I deleted someone from Facebook. Once again I’m a goddamn coward and I fully admit it.

My mom came over to visit today and she mentioned that my cousin asked her about it. She said she didn’t know and seemed to shrug it off. She also filled me in to a few of my cousins other “beliefs” such that COVID is a hoax, it’s not that big of a deal, and that Trump is actually doing a lot of good for the United States of America. Apparently she constantly visits our grandma who is 89 years old, hugs and kisses her, and obviously doesn’t give a shit about wearing a mask at all; she bragged about the amount of stores she visited without a mask as if that made her a badass or something. What if she gives COVID to our grandma and she dies from it? Would she acknowledge it then or would there be more denial. “Well, she was old anyways…” While I’m on the shit-on-my-cousin bandwagon, let me also say she’s dating a guy who’s a convicted arsonist (and it was fun seeing him on TV right after I woke up one day like ten years ago) with a family of legit white supremacists. Not like subtly racist people: legit, proud, aware, white supremacists. I vaguely recall getting into an argument with my cousin’s boyfriend’s little brother on MySpace a long time ago because he was shitting on black people for some reason. Anyways birthday parties with that side of the family are kinda awkward to say the least.

But last night it kinda clicked in my head that I really don’t like much of my family. Honestly. My sister is cool, my wife and the kids are great, but everyone else in the extended family seems to be insane. And it seems as I feel wiser as time goes on they seem to lose their minds as time goes on. My cousin’s family is white supremacists and blatant Trump supporters and I cannot for the life of me figure out what they see in the guy. My uncle is crazy NRA fanatic who seems to be ready to fight a civil war murdering fellow Americans for some fucking reason. My dad told me a few of his brothers were also right-winger Trumpers and once again I cannot see what is appealing at all about the guy. My dad, who luckily doesn’t vote, also seems to be a Trumper who somehow started bitching about Hillary and Benghazi for some reason despite over 150,000 COVID deaths under our current president. None of these people think COVID is a real thing or a legitimate threat to them, once again my cousin bragging about not wearing a mask in stores! What a goddamn rebel! Part of me thinks I’m the problem, someone just as one-sided, blind, and biased as they are, but another part of me thinks that maybe I’m on the right path here. I’m trying to follow history and science and everything seems incredibly dangerous and serious currently while others seem to be either indifferent or even happy with the state of the country now. And it’s hard to realize that maybe the people you grew up around, who are part of your family, are some of the people totally on the wrong side of logic, history, science, and empathy. It’s not a good feeling.

An Associates Degree Is Useless

One of my goals during my vacation was to seriously explore other jobs. I currently work a part-time union job at UPS which I honestly feel is below my capabilities. I do think I’m intelligent and clever and working at UPS shipping packages seems so anticlimactic to what I think — and somehow know — my real potential is. The entire issue for me is how to realize this potential which I seem totally unable to do through insecurities or indecisiveness. I think my life can mean more than working a part-time job at UPS and I’m trying to find out what that more actually is.

(Big NOTE here on how I seem to be defining my self-worth based on what job I work. I know if you take this too far it’s dangerous — we’re all more than our jobs — but if you don’t take it far enough you’d be making the opposite mistake. There is no way I can be working at UPS in 20 years and feel happy about it. I just can’t. It’s inevitable that I’d feel like I squandered my life. If you are happy working whatever shitty job you have, great, I’m actually jealous of people that can do this. I think I’m hopelessly not one of these people.)

I started looking for piloting jobs to no avail. I have a commercial pilot’s license which means theoretically I can get paid to fly, but it doesn’t really work out that way in the real world. I can’t be an airline pilot (they require 1,500 hours) and I can’t fly a multi-engine airplane. Those alone cut me out of like 97% of all jobs. Did I find anything I could do? No. They all require things slightly above my current experience, like 1,000 hours, 2,000, or whatever. I have a commercial pilot’s license but can’t do a damn thing with it realistically. Luckily I knew this when I got the license; the commercial license is basically useless unless you know someone to hook you up with a job and mostly serves as a stepping stone to other certifications.

I checked out a few other places. Jobs at the local Amazon facility; maybe I could be a delivery driver or something? No. Nothing. The only positions opened were entry level grunt work warehouse bullshit (that I’m unwilling to settle for, especially since I worked there five years ago) or mid/upper management work that I’m nowhere near qualified for. There was nothing for me, me being the sort of not-a-high-school-kid but also not 40-with-a college-degree-and-work-experience. I’m someone caught between being a high school graduate and a college graduate.

Because I have an Associates Degree in Science. Yay?!

I checked a few other random places like Thermo Fisher Scientific. They had some more entry level positions (‘Associate Manufacturing Technician’) and some upper-level positions, but once again nothing that fit my shitty mid‐tier associate degree of science. Once again, I don’t want to work a job that someone with a high school diploma or a GED could do but wasn’t qualified to do any of the higher-level work such as what an ‘Organic Synthesis Chemist’ would do.

And onto fucking SpaceX if you can believe it. Why the hell not? Let’s see what jobs they offer. Once again there was the same split between entry-level work and expert work. Most of the jobs required a Bachelor’s or higher while a few remaining jobs only required a high school diploma with nothing in between. I could be a SpaceX ‘Barista’ but couldn’t be a ‘GNC Satellite Attitude Determination & Control Engineer’. I couldn’t find a single job mentioning an associate degree and felt trapped between the poles of being under qualified and overqualified for anything. 

Granted I only looked at a handful of jobs, but I feel this could confirm what my cynical friend has said about his own associates degrees: they’re glorified high school diplomas. They offer nothing in the way of benefits and only serve as a stepping stone to higher degrees. An associates degree is apparently only useful if you grab it on your way to a bachelor’s degree. And I don’t know how I feel about this.

I went back to school around the age of 27 or so after dropping out of college around 20. I wanted to say that I went back to college and actually did something with my life. And I did. I got my damn degree in the mail one day without the fluff and bullshit of a graduation ceremony. All that mattered to me was the degree and I didn’t feel the need to share the success with my friends and family. Who cares? It’s not a big deal really. I showed up, did the work, and got my degree. But when I found it in the mail one day I did feel something. The final realization that “I did it? I did it.” That I finally accomplished something in life after slacking for a decade. I didn’t know what I’d do with it at the time but surely I’d figure it out.

Cut to today. 34 years old and checking out random jobs and realizing my associates degree is totally useless. All that matters is the Bachelor’s and higher. I’m basically a glorified high school student with no practical life benefits to having obtained this degree. It’s not a good feeling to know what you’ve accomplished isn’t enough and there’s always more to do. Countless other people that are more accomplished than you that have life seemingly more figure out than you and get actually get through life. And here I am writing some shitty blog complaining about it all. Should I work towards a bachelor’s degree in whatever or keep trying to bullshit some piloting job? With no clear way forward, what do you choose? As always if someone has answers to these questions, please fill me in because I’m fucking clueless.

And if you found a good job with an associates degree, what the hell was it?

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Vacation 2020 Sucks: Pissing it All Away

I’m roughly halfway through my yearly vacation. This year I took all my vacation time in a solid three-week block and do not return to work until August 3rd. I could also take a fourth week off until like August 10th but I’ll probably work that week because I have the option to work it; it’s basically an extra paycheck for free so why not? But the current three weeks? Those are mandatory and I have zero choice but to not work. This sounds great but…well, I’ve written about that struggle before.

To recap: I’m lazy, unmotivated, and too unstructured to do anything on my own volition. I didn’t enjoy school but it gave me something to do and added some structure to my day. The same is true with work — I don’t like it because it’s something I have to do — but without it I just can’t get myself focused, hyped up, or motivated to do a damn thing. I require work for some structure and purpose and I feel aimless and lost without it.

People usually tell me to “relax” on my vacation, but I think relaxing is something I’ve never gotten the hang of in life. I hate sitting around. I hate doing nothing. Fishing? I hate fishing and never understood it because it seems to me you sit around and wait for something to happen. I hate sunbathing and never understood how my mom could sit outside for hours in a day relaxing. Or the drunkards that sit on the porch relaxing with a few drinks. I can never do any of these things for extended periods of time because I just get bored and antsy.

(Fun fact: I complained to my therapist about my ‘vacation dread/anxiety’ and she laughed and said something like, “Wow, first-world problems, huh?” I immediately felt like an ass. Yes, I was complaining about how hard life was since I couldn’t work for three weeks and that does seem like a ridiculous thing to complain about. But I’m going to complain more here.)

Despite complaining about being bored and my inability to relax, I’m a week and a half into my vacation — about the halfway mark — and what have I done? Nothing. I’ve pissed it all away. Before my vacation I promised myself I’d make it worthwhile. I’d go on bike rides, go to parks, hike, write tons of shit, read, figure out how to be genuinely happy, find a career I really want to pursue, meditate, eat better, look for another job, be a flight instructor — basically figure things out in a big way — and what have I actually done? Nothing. Nothing at all. This is only my second blog post despite being on vacation for as long as I have. A blog post takes an hour or two at most but I’ve never gotten around to it, so you know damn well I haven’t done anything ‘big’. And fuck relaxing.

In fact I totally spiraled into alcoholism the first week of vacation. I literally drank everyday from Friday to Sunday and I mean the next Sunday and not the one immediately after Friday. It was a 10 day drinking spree of like 12 or 15 beers every night. I’d wake up the next day, stay sober until about 3-5 p.m. and do it all over again. It’s no surprise I didn’t do anything that first week. Once again I wasn’t relaxing during this either.

This week is looking slightly better because I realized if I’m trying to figure shit out drinking wasn’t going to cut it, in fact drinking seems like one of those big things I should be figuring out. Drinking is a great motivator sometimes but after a multi-day binge you find all motivation to do even the smallest thing disappears. I found myself procrastinating texting someone, going outside to look at a comet through binoculars, or paying my credit cards on my phone; little things that’d only take a minute to do I couldn’t drag myself to do, and I didn’t even listen to music while driving somewhere. I didn’t have the motivation to decide on what to listen to! It was a bad time. Not a bad-depressing time, but bad-blah time. Bad-bland. Bad-“is this what I’m doing for vacation?”

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more #comet #neowise

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This is one of the more notable parts of my vacation thus far.

I haven’t drank since Monday last night (but I did go three days sober before that…) and am already feeling more motivated. Hell, here’s this post which is something, and I even went on a 14-mile bike ride yesterday. I’ve posted like three things on Instagram too! I still feel like I’m nowhere near having anything ‘figured out’ by the time I return to work but it seems like I’m finally off to a good start. Sadly it’s taken half my vacation to reach this point. Baby steps, right?

Here’s another post you guys might be interested in: Drinking Sucks: 10 Reasons to Not be A Drunkard. Maybe I should read it myself?

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Why Wearing a Mask Sucks: Blood Oxygen Levels?

Wearing a mask is terrible. This should be common knowledge by now (unless you’re one of those people that think mask wearing infringes on your ‘Murkian Freedoms or something), especially now that we’re well into the hot and humid summer months. Masks are hot, sweaty, steamy, uncomfortable, annoying, and stinky, as the first thing I noticed upon wearing a mask was that my breath was fucking terrible. Even an hour after brushing my teeth, my breath trapped in my mask fucking reeked. There is nothing remotely enjoyable about wearing a mask.

But by far the worst part about wearing a mask is that they are difficult to breathe in, thereby lowering your blood’s oxygen content. This could be dangerous to anyone with anemia or breathing issues, and might even lead to passing out or fainting. Breathing and oxygen are kinda important things for your body, and masks fuck all of this up.

Except…except that last paragraph is total bullshit. I made it up. Or rather I took the stereotypical dumbasses’ talking-points and recreated them to the best of my abilities. Hopefully this “alternative fact” has been thoroughly debunked by the many photos we’ve all maybe seen recently on social media. I’ve seen a few photos and videos of people wearing masks for literal hours while checking their blood oxygen levels to see if they go down at all. No, they stay right where they are, meaning the mask doesn’t do shit to your oxygen levels.

Photo from here. (Which is apparently from a Dr. Megan Hall on Facebook) Note the SpO2 at 99%.

So why do masks feel suffocating if they’re not actually suffocating you?

A Quirk of the Human Body

A few years ago while bored at work I got into this challenge to see how long I could hold my breath. As always, why the fuck not? Work can be incredibly boring. I’d exhale deeply and take a massive, lung-filling breath and see how long I could hold it. My record was just over a minute, maybe a minute-and-a-half, but this was about as long as I could hold it. Doing some research I discovered the world record for breath holding was something like 24 minutes: how the fuck was that possible?

This is possible because us humans have some stupid system in place in our bodies that we, for some reason, only feel the need to breathe not when our oxygen runs out but when carbon dioxide (CO2) builds up to a certain level. Isn’t that fascinating? Evolution isn’t perfect and we’ve survived just fine even having this seemingly silly system in place. By expelling as much CO2 out of your body by hyperventilating you can “trick” your body into thinking it’s not running out of precious oxygen. By hyperventilating and getting those CO2 levels as low as possible initially you can hold your breath much longer.

It’s this reason why oxygen masks on planes are so important. When an airplane depressurizes you don’t really notice much — no suffocation or difficulties breathing — despite your body being only seconds away from losing consciousness and minutes away from death. This is also why breathing in helium (or any other non-oxygen gas) is dangerous; you can quickly displace blood oxygen and not even be aware of it until you pass out or die. Once again you won’t feel ‘suffocated’ because you’re still exhaling CO2 and your body feels perfectly fine. Fun, isn’t it?

So, what are some symptoms of high blood CO2? The medical term from this is hypercapnia and I’ve linked Wikipedia if you feel like going down the rabbit hole. Here are some of the early symptoms of hypercapnia: breathlessness, headache, confusion, and lethargy. There are more severe symptoms but I’m not going to include them because I think this should be enough to show what I think is going on. Granted, I don’t know this for fact, but I think it sounds logical enough:

Masks trap a small amount of exhaled carbon dioxide near your face. When you inhale the first half-second you’re taking in CO2 which could lead to increased blood CO2 levels despite having adequate oxygen.

I think people by not being aware of the CO2 blood level and its relation to feeling like you’re suffocating mistake these mild symptoms as not them having enough oxygen. It makes sense and I’ve felt this way with a mask on — it really can feel like you’re not breathing enough — but the home experiments people have done show this to not be the case. Sure, some people might have medical conditions where a simple mask could be enough to put their bodies out of whack (emphysema, those missing a lung, etc.), but for most (and by most I mean like 99.5% of everybody) a mask is only a moderate discomfort and cannot ‘suffocate’ you to any realistic or dangerous degree.

What to do About It?

Masks do take some adjusting in how you breathe and this makes sense if my whole ‘CO2 trapped in mask when you first inhale’ idea is true. I’ve notice that while wearing a mask I do breathe slightly different. My breaths have become deeper and more deliberate and I think this is to bring in enough oxygen to adjust to the initial CO2 also being inhaled. My exhales are also more deliberate, as if I’m trying to get a tiny bit more CO2 out of my body because I know I’ll inhale a small portion on the next breath. (Note: I tried to find a link to a proper ‘how to breathe in a mask’ article; I couldn’t find one. The ones I did find only had vague tips like “be mindful of how you breathe” and “be calm.”)

So sure, mask are terrible to wear, but we all know that. That’s luckily about as bad as it gets. If you don’t have an underlying medical condition (a real one, not a fake-ass one) you’ll be fine. You won’t suffocate or die. Sure, you won’t be running a marathon in record time with one on, but for everyday things like working or shopping you’re not going to suffocate. This suffocating feeling is most likely caused by the mask trapping some exhaled CO2 close to your face that is inhaled before fresh air can make it to your mouth/nose. People have shown that blood O2 levels remain constant while wearing a mask and it’s only the elevated CO2 levels that make you feel suffocated. This is due to some silly quirk in our bodies that links the feeling of suffocation to CO2 levels and not oxygen levels. But above all: WEAR YOUR FUCKING MASK. It might somewhat protect yourself, it definitely protects others, and let’s all just please play along with coronavirus protocols so we can all get back to a normal life as soon as possible.

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Stray Cats Suck

Anytime I walk outside I’m greeted by a clan of cats. I never know how many cats are actually around — sometimes I see like two or three, other times ten or more — but they’re all over the damn place. We have so many stray cats lurking around our house that I can’t even recall what they’ve been named. Supposedly we have names for some of them — like Militia, Sean, Pumpkin, Shira, Bibbers Jr. and so on — but I can’t ever remember who is who. They’re all feral cats and have a general bland grey color, they all look similar, and they’re all about the same size: scrawny. These cats are everywhere. I can’t even drive up our driveway without having three cats lazily lying in front of my car. Some of them don’t even move as I drive up to them, forcing me to get out of my car and shoo them away before parking. It’s a nightmare of felines.

Cats…

It’s not my fault or my wife’s fault either. The main problem here is our stupid-ass neighbor, some lady by the name of Lori that I’ve simply been calling “The Cat Lady” for obvious reasons. These cats are all her problem and she’s getting all the blame for it. You might remember her from this post. I was sitting outside one night trying to be at peace with the universe and she kept annoying me by calling to her cats. Totally killing my vibe. That was The Cat Lady, and this post is about her too.

She’s one of those people that you’re not sure how they even survived as long as they did. She seems so damn ignorant and clueless that I’m surprised someone like her made it to their middle ages. I don’t know her history (and don’t care to either), but I find it difficult to believe she ever graduated high school or did anything in life. She seems so naive and clueless and acts like an eight or ten-year-old most of the times. She doesn’t have a car, rides her bike to the local dollar store, and seems oblivious to nearly everything in the world. Her entire life consists of feeding the damn cats, begging us for money to feed the cats, and talking about the cats. If I stop being so harsh and critical I should have some sympathy for her, but I’m a cold-hearted bastard and she (and her strays) just annoys the fuck out of me 97% of the time.

What bothers me the most about her is her total cluelessness to how populations and food chains work. She’s fucking oblivious. I know she loves the stray cats and doesn’t want them to starve — which is noble — but this is where her knowledge stops. A few years ago our neighborhood used to only have a few strays and she fed them like the kind-hearted soul she is and housed them in her garage. Fun fact (and a fact that she wasn’t and still isn’t aware of): when you feed strays, there is no pressure against them reproducing! The couple of strays had a few litters of kittens, turning into like ten cats, and then they reproduced, increasing the amount of cats needlessly wandering around our house. She gave some of them away but kept feeding the rest, and they kept reproducing like you’d expect them to do. So now we have a legit army of cats lurking around the house just wondering who will feed them next.

I don’t know if this makes me smart, or her stupid, but this seems like such an obvious conclusion to a problem that should’ve been evident from the start. You feed two cats, they’ll turn into ten, and so on, until you’re dishing out literal hundreds of dollars to feed the entire family until their population meets the capacity of their available food supply. It’s how the world works and is why I discouraged my wife feeding them out of sympathy. Sure, you’re trying to help a few cats, but that will only spiral out of control until you’re feeding an indefinite about of cats until they run out of food and the population can’t support itself.

Apparently Cat Lady’s boyfriend laid down the law yesterday and forced her to stop feeding them. Luckily I wasn’t home at the time, but she came over crying asking my wife if she could feed them. Well, this is your problem lady, but whatever. So now, today, when going outside, I was greeted with the entire extended family of cats lurking around our house. It’s like they could smell the food and knew who would be feeding them for the next week or so. Fuck me, fuck my life, fuck everything. These cats are smart, probably smarter than the lady feeding them, and they knew where the food was.

Look, I love cats and don’t like to see them suffer or starve, especially when cute kittens are involved, but damn if it isn’t frustrating to see them constantly reproducing, begging for food anytime you walk outside, or casually lying in the driveway when you come home from work. The worst part is that I don’t see any obvious way out of this problem that’s been created by our neighbor. We can’t foot the bill to get all the females spayed or the males neutered, and we surely don’t want to pay $20 per cat to give them to a shelter (not sure if that’s true, but it’s what The Cat Lady said), but they keep lurking around and shitting in the yard. There is no easy way out. The cats are here, they’re ever-present, and it seems like something we just have to deal with. Stray cats fucking suck.

Blog Advertising Sucks

It’s another one of these posts where I feel like a sellout. Let me explain. I strolled home on Friday with a case a beer to cap off the end of a shitty day. Not just a singular shitty day either because Friday was my last day of work before a three-week vacation. Not that I don’t mind not working, it’s that work is kinda what I do and gives me some semblance of routine and progress, something to be distracted by, and without work I just feel lost. I’ve already written a few posts about that (although I’m too lazy to find and link them now) so I won’t get into it any further.

Anyways, on WordPress, I somehow drunkenly stumbled upon something called “WordAds” or something like that. It said I could run ads on my blog and get paid for it. Huh. Even though I was drunk I still had a healthy bit of skepticism — you need a ton of viewers for any real income — and assumed I wouldn’t actually make anything notable. But why not? I thought. I was more curious about how much “WordAds” would pay me than anything else.

This blog doesn’t get a ton of view in the grand scheme of things. Somehow I cracked 2,000 views in the month of May and even though that is something I can be proud of I’m well aware that this isn’t really notable at all compared with other blogs. Running ads on my paltry blog might provide me with like $0.50 a month, although I’m just guessing and have no idea what the real number will be. I’m just aware that it won’t be anything to note. Either way I’m curious as to how much cash 2,000 views a month can provide. Consider it a science experiment of sorts.

Making money was never my prime motivator for blogging because it seems like the wrong way to do anything. I always put passion or “having something to say” above “making money” so don’t actually care about trying to turn this place into a cash machine. It’s a hobby, a way to get myself to write, to get myself to do something, but damn would it be nice to get paid to blog. Make a living out of doing what you enjoy doing (sort of!) and not have to work for someone else. I think it’s the dream most if not all of us want, and is probably the prime reason behind the success of shitty MLM schemes. “Make money doing what you want to do! Be your own boss!”

Not that this is how the world really works. To get paid, you must provide a service of value to people, and one thing I’ve learned reading the random economics book here and there is that the market, any market, is stupidly efficient. There are no get-rich-quick schemes that work because someone before you has already figured it out and jumped into the game. It reminds me of when I thought about selling vape juice during the early stages of the pandemic — there was demand and a market but I dragged my feet — but after a month or so most vape shops had already perfected an online ordering system and totally grabbed the market again. For my birthday my wife bought me six vape pods and I thought I could be a capitalist and sell half of them to my work buddies. Ya know, totally scalp them because they’re all desperate for new pods. I sold two of them for $20 while the two cost her on average $16: I made a $4 profit on this sale. Fuck. That’s not getting rich quick at all.

Blogging is even worse. Once again, how the hell does anyone think they’re going to make money by writing and posting shit on the internet? Well, some do, but it’s a very small percentage. How many bloggers are actually providing a service to anyone? Creating interesting and enlightening content? Is there a market we’re all desperately trying to sell something to? Not many, and It surely isn’t myself or this blog. Anyone looking to make quick money should turn away from blogging and just go find a job. Work for someone else, grab a paycheck, and save as much as you can. I think this is why I never understood the “blog for money” persona: why did you pick this as a way to make money?! Fuck. At the very best it’s a hard thing to do, and at the very worst it’s nearly an impossible time sink to eventually make money.

So I feel like a cheap sellout now. I checked this blog a few days ago and saw “Duck Duck Go” ads plastered all over the place. One of my motivators for having a WordPress Premium Plan (or whatever) is that your site is ad free. Free WordPress plans plop up ads wherever they want which adds a tacky feel to it all. I also like to be in control, knowing that my page is displayed as formatted and no one is going to plop their bullshit ads in the middle of my rants. And I do all of this a few years ago only to run ads on my own to make money. Jeremy, please go fuck off, you’re not understanding how this is supposed to work. But eh, like I said, I’m more curious than anything about how much I could actually make. I know it’ll be useless and pointless, but let’s try it out. If it doesn’t provide a damn thing (like I think), I’ll cancel the ads. Artistic integrity over everything else, but damn would be it be cool to make a living off of writing.

The 4th of July Sucks: 2020 Edition

Everyone who has a slightly racist uncle/parent/grandparent on Facebook is probably familiar with this image format and caption: some patriotic image with words like, “If you don’t like [random bullshit patriotic gesture] than you can get the hell out!” Respecting the flag, respecting our ‘customs,’ respecting our language (lol), and so on. It’s always about respecting something. I did a little work to find a representative example of one. Here ya go:

Yeehaw. Fucking immigrants derking er jerbs.

On this 4th of July, in the year of Satan 2020, I’ve been finding myself reflecting on the state of America. Do I hate the place? No. Do I hate what we’ve become? Yes. Do I think we have much more potential that we can live up to? Yes. Am I ashamed to be an American — sometimes yes and sometimes no — but I’m still an American and I feel like my opinion on the state of the country as important as any other citizens. Which is where my issue with silly memes like these begin.

Pictures like these and the others shared by your slightly-racist family members have a ton of implications to them. In the case on the one above, I find it strange that ‘democrats’ are grouped in along with ‘illegals’ which says a whole lot. To be a democrat you’re probably a citizen of the US, and grouping them with ‘illegals’ seems really silly. It’s basically saying that democrats are the same tier of American as illegal aliens which is a totally bullshit statement. Immigrants are a strange inclusion too because I assume they mean ‘legal immigrants’ because if they were illegal they’d be, well, the ‘illegals’ mentioned above. Meaning that being a citizen of the US who is also an immigrant makes them somehow ‘less American’ than the second-, third-, or fourth-generation Americans like most of us probably are.

What really bothers me here is the ownership of America that conservative like to claim. Like America doesn’t mean different things to different people and that they’re somehow the holders of the American Flame and Spirit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a citizen, if you’re not a conservative citizen somehow your view of America is flawed in some way. Like you just don’t get it, maaaaan. And fuck that viewpoint because I’m a goddamn American like any other flag-waving, gun-toting cousin-fucker in the middle of bumfuck nowhere, and my love for America is worth as much as theirs.

I’m also not a fan of the “fixed America” viewpoint that conservative love to stand behind. The image above (and all Facebook-Uncle-images really) seem to view America as something concrete. Like there are fixed customs, beliefs, and traditions that you need to respect and that any change to them is somehow Unamerican. I sometimes think this is the main conservative viewpoint: change is bad. America is basically perfect — the big-dick swingin’ country that controls the entire damn world — and any flaws that America does have are blown out of proportion. There is no need to move forward because America is something already perfect and moving forward is an insult to it. In short, why fix what isn’t broken?

It seems liberals like to view America as non-perfect, in need of some serious love and care and progress to become what America should be. I’m one of them and my view of America is a work-in-progress towards the ideals written down in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. You know: all men are created equal; life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness; and so on. We all know what it means to be American — that you have a fair chance in the world to live up to your potential, that people aren’t biased against based on anything besides their merits, and that justice will be served against those that break those tenets — but any liberal realizes that all of that is a farce. America, to get to where we are today, had to do a ton of work, a ton of fighting, and America was nowhere near perfect in the late 1700s. In fact, the original America was ass-backwards from what was written down in the Declaration and the Constitution.

This conservative idea of what America is is flawed from the start because the ‘ideal America’ they envision is one that has been changed for the better numerous times since the signing of the Constitution. Hell, the Constitution even acknowledges that it must be fluid to keep with changing times, hence the amendment process. From the start, the founding fathers knew that change would have to occur, and change has occurred. Hell, the 19th Amendment — the document that gave women the right to vote — hasn’t even been around for 100 years! 18 year-olds couldn’t vote until 1971, and before the Civil Right Movement employers could openly discriminate against people by their skin color. Income taxes weren’t even a thing until 1909 and Social Security (a thing conservatives love to ramble about liberals ‘threatening’) wasn’t a thing until the 1930s, curiously passed by the raging and filthy liberal Franklin Roosevelt. And you can’t forget the Big One here: slavery. Slavery was totally legal until the 1860s. Think about it, the right to own other people as property was totally legal 160 years ago, and does anyone really think slavery is part of the ‘ideal America?’ My point here is that the America we all know and love — and the America that conservatives love to view as something fixed, sacred, and perfect — has been changing all the damn time.

I feel like the founding fathers had the right idea about freedom and liberty but just couldn’t pull it off at the time. As we progress as a society we find new freedoms that people do not have. Think of the most recent legalization of gay marriage; I don’t think the founders could’ve even thought about extending freedom to gays back in 1790 simply because it was the 1790s. We’ve come a long way since then, and trying to keep anything fixed in terms of a ‘real America’ seems stupid and useless from the start and misses the entire point of what America — the ideal America — should be.

So those are my thoughts on America this 4th of July. I love America despite being a progressive. I love the ideals that we were founded upon, but don’t think we’ve lived up to our potential yet. We don’t have the society free from bias and hate that the founders had envisioned. We’re closer than we were 100 years ago — women can vote and kids don’t have to work 15 hours in a factory — but with the Black Lives Matter protests, racism, and the rise of right-wing fascism we seem further away from the ideal America than we did ten years ago. American has been and always will be a work in progress with the path paved by dissenters and people who fight for what is right despite the popular views or dominant social trends of their times. Sometimes I feel like America is shit, like it’s going down the drain, like it’s all falling apart, but America is something I want to fight for. I’m goddamn proud to be an American.

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My Sobriety is…Meh

Today is my fourth day sober. It’s nothing to celebrate, but after the past month it kinda is. Before this recent streak, I had been drunk for nearly three weeks. Not perpetually drunk but just drinking everyday. The worst days were those where I pounded down 15 or 18 beers (although it’s hard to count after that many drinks) and the best days were those where I “only” had six. It was a mess and my life was a blur.

Only one day out of those three weeks did I stay sober. Somehow, during all the haze, I called the airport and scheduled a flight lesson to become current with flying again (three landings in the past 90 days). The night before that I didn’t drink because one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t want to fly a plane hungover; you get hot, you sweat, you get airsick, and everything is generally awful and uncomfortable. Add in the anxiety of an instructor judging your skills the entire flight and it’s a recipe for disaster.

The flight went okay, by the way. He was impressed with my professional flying skills, until my first landing that is. I bounced the plane three damn times and it was embarrassing like nothing else. Here you are trying to show an instructor that you’re good to fly and you bounce the plane a few hundred feet down the runway. Yikes. I vaguely remember trying to get the plane under control while muttering to my instructor over the intercom, “God…..damnit. Jeez…Man…” as we hit the ground, went back up, hit the ground again, went back up, until the plane finally decided to land.

The mighty Cessna 172 SKYCOCK

I told my therapist about my total two-week binge (it was only two-weeks at the time) fearing she’d shit all over me and tell me to get the hell out of her office. How I’ve fallen, how much progress I’ve pissed away since the start of the year. Remember the “drink once a week” goal from January? Whoops. Surprisingly she almost seemed supportive of it, mostly worried that I was drinking to cope. “No,” I said, “I don’t know why I’ve been drinking so much. I’ve been in a good mood and I’m not depressed or anything. It just seems like something to do I guess.” She kinda smiled and said something along the lines of, “Well, sometimes you need to do whatever works, and if you’re mood has been good…” That sounds really bad but it wasn’t worded that strongly; she didn’t seem to be encouraging me to drink. Like she was acknowledging that maybe there was some reason for it all and that maybe I had to abuse my body until I felt I was done with it or something. What she said felt very cryptic.

And damn if there doesn’t seem to be some good to it all. In the final week of my binge I was starting to feel pretty worn down. Just tired and exhausted and burned out all the time and feeling like I should take a break for a bit. Not for my mental health (because I wasn’t suffering from depression/anxiety issues for some reason) but for my physical health. Anyone who has drank that much should know what I’m talking about here. That ever-present exhaustion with life that comes with drinking all the time.

I also realized that I wasn’t taking sleeping pills every night either. I used to have issues with sleeping, but during my binge I wasn’t taking many pills to sleep. Sure, I’d stay up until 5 a.m. but I’d go to sleep “naturally” (minus the alcohol, of course) without the need for Benadryls or Alka-Seltzer Night TimeLemon Flavor. In my three-week binge totally abusing alcohol I somehow stopped taking sleeping meds like I had been doing the past three or four months. Is this progress?

And towards the end of my binge I realized I wasn’t even drinking coffee when I woke up like I usually did. Sure, I’d try to drink my usual three or four cups of coffee, but when you’re hungover, jittery, anxious, hot, sweaty, and nauseous the last thing your body really wants or needs is caffeine. I’d make my coffee, drink maybe half of it, and head off to work. As before, is this progress?

I decided I’d just stop consuming caffeine and sleeping meds during the final days of my drinking binge. The sleeping pills were mostly gone, but I was still weary of the dreaded caffeine withdrawal, most terrifying of the symptoms being the headaches. Caffeine headaches aren’t like any other kind of headaches, and luckily I can’t explain why they’re different because I weened myself off coffee this time. Sunday, I had two cups, and Monday I had singular cup of coffee, just enough to ward off the headaches. But Tuesday, my first sober day with alcohol, was also my first day with zero caffeine. I was mildly hungover and sleepy and really wanted a cup of coffee, but stayed strong and felt okay the entire day.

I did have a Coke from Chick-Fil-A today but that’s like, what 90 mg of the stuff at most? That’s not going to do anything and my main goal was to not require like hundreds of milligrams of the drug to function during the day which I’m glad to say I’m succeeding at.

It really makes me notice how much I’ve been forcing my body to do what I want it to do by using drugs. Can’t sleep and want to sleep? Benadryl/Alka-Seltzer. Wake up groggy and nonfunctioning (probably due to the Benadryl at 3 a.m.): caffeine! Hundreds of milligrams of caffeine! Can’t sleep because of the caffeine? Benadryl! And repeat this over and over. By not taking either of these drugs that seem to lead to the other, it’s like I’ve broken the cycle and don’t need them anymore. I feel worn out and tired at the end of the day and it’s a healthy and natural exhaustion; my body is ready to sleep and does so easily. Amazingly, I even wake up and not feel dead either! Who would’ve guessed! Sure I still need my nicotine to get going, but it’s tons better than needing nicotine and caffeine to wake up.

It’s strange that by abusing alcohol for three weeks I’ve somehow came to this random idea to not drink caffeine or take sleeping pills every night. I doubt this is what the therapist was hoping I’d do, but I still feel like I’ve made some positive life choices by abusing alcohol for three weeks. I’m not saying that if you want to stop drinking coffee or needing pills to sleep you should go on a three-week drinking binge (any week-long drinking binge isn’t smart for any reason) but I’m rather surprised that’s what it took to get me where I am. I’ll take any minimal form of progress I can and try to be happy with it.

The Verizon Karen Sucks (and something about repairing your phone)

So there we were waiting in line at the Verizon store immediately in front of some pregnant lady who was bitching on the phone to someone about her plight.

“I have an online order and I have to wait in line? What kind of shit is that? I’m thirty-two weeks pregnant and I have to stand here in this heat? Even if I have an online order? Yes, yes it’s bullshit? Total bullshit. Uh uh. Exactly. Yes, yes I might call and make a complaint about this…”

And while I was sitting cross-legged on the pavement I glanced up at my wife and took a massive pull from my vape. She met my eyes and we exchanged mutual looks. “Really?” We both asked without words. “Is this type of person really behind us?” A few subtle eye rolls, frowns, and glances up at the sky both communicated that we were on the same page here; we had a Karen behind us and we were both miserable because of it.

I said to my wife, “Wow, I wish I had my phone right now. I have some really good inspiration for a blog post. Lot’s of good ideas going on in my mind right now.” She smiled, knowing I have a blog called Everything Sucks where I bitch about random facets of life. She knew exactly what my “inspiration” was all about while Karen had no idea I was shitting all over her.

My Goddamn Phone…

This all has quite a backstory starting years ago. I’m cheap as fuck. I love to make things last. I’m a DIYer at heart. I like fixing things. I love learning new things. And one of the most difficult and cost-effective ways to utilize these traits is with cell phones. These bad boys, totally new, can run you near $1,000 (especially if you’re one of those Apple fanbois) and to me it’s imperative that you do all you can do to make them last as long as possible. Take care of them and repair them. To me, the longer you can make a shitty, old phone last the longer you can postpone buying a really expensive new one, and the more money you can save. Every month with an old phone is a month you don’t have to pay for a new one.

One of the first things that wear out with phones is the battery, and this is simply due to the chemistry and physics of how lithium-ion batteries work. Years ago you could actually buy and replace a phone’s battery, but now most phones have a permanent internal battery that you can’t easily access. This naturally limits your phone’s life to a few years at most before it doesn’t hold jack-shit for charge. The first fact of owning an old phone is the battery degradation and you must face that fact eventually.

So to breathe some new life into my old Samsung S7 I set about changing the battery a few months ago. I had to remove the back glass cover and tear a bunch of internal components out to get to it, but holy fuck, I did it. I was successful. I changed the S7’s internal battery giving my 2.5 year old phone a new life. Sure I busted the rear glass in the process, but it worked and I was proud of myself and proud of my new-found phone-fixing abilities.

Hell, I even replaced the cracked rear glass cover a month ago which was surprisingly easy. I was getting good at this whole phone repair business.

A few weeks ago at work I busted the front screen of my phone. I don’t even know how it happened either. I put my phone into my pocket, went up into the airplane, and started pushing cans around to unload it. When we had some downtime I took my phone out and the screen was cracked. How the hell did that happen? I had no idea. Anyways, since I had such major success changing my phone’s battery and rear panel, I started to think about how difficult it would be to change the busted front glass screen as well. Amazon had replacement glasses for only $15, so I bought one and set about replacing it.

You can find a lot of useful information on the Amazon reviews of a product, and the glass replacement was no different. Strangely, most of the reviews said something like, “DO NOT TRY THIS REPAIR ON YOUR OWN, YOU WILL BREAK YOUR PHONE! This is a repair that should only be undertaken by those who know what their doing!” Yeah, whatever, who gives a shit. I’m a pro: I know what I’m doing.

So, Friday. I’m sure you can see where this story is going. I finally attempted to change my phone’s busted glass screen and totally fucked it up and bricked my phone in the process. Apparently (and like the Amazon reviews warned) the screen digitizer — the thing that actually is your phone screen — is placed like right upon the glass cover. I didn’t really realize this so totally pried the screen — along with the very important digitizer — up from the rest of the phone, cutting and tearing the hardware ribbon that connected it to the rest of the phone. I turned the phone on and there was nothing on the whatever-grey-thing that’s underneath the digitizer.

Ooops…

And Onto Verizon…

It was about 3:30 p.m. on Friday when all of this went down and I needed to have a phone. I use the damn thing so much for work and leisure and stocks and writing that I couldn’t possibly go without one. A quick Google search said our local Verizon store closed at 5 p.m. meaning we’d have to get the fuck out of the house quickly to get a new phone. You know, before the weekend. Before everything was closed. Before I’d be out of a phone for three days wondering what the hell to do with my hands in the meantime.

The Verizon store had a line outside of it (thanks to COVID) about 5 people long. I didn’t know how long this would take, but we had 40 minutes before the store closed. Everyone in the line seemed cool, patiently waiting their turn to go shop or pick up their internet orders or whatever. I sat on the pavement cross-legged and tried to look like a peaceful and wise Buddhist monk as we all fucking waited to be served.

Then Karen showed up. She walked right to the door of the store — right past the 6 or 7 of people clearly waiting in line — and tried to open the door. It was locked and she seemed pissed. I wasn’t paying much attention at the time because she was just some pregnant women trying to shop at Verizon and wasn’t a total Karen yet, but she soon made her name known. Some employee came out and talked to her, and she said something about her internet order that she needed to pick up, and was directed to the back of the line, right behind my wife and I. She promptly called someone and started bitching about the entire situation and how terrible and bullshit it was for her. As stated before, here was a thirty-two week pregnant lady who had to stand outside of a store for her internet order, and why couldn’t they just service her first? Because she was thirty-two weeks pregnant and hot and miserable and everything. And hell, her two-year old was sitting in the car with it running because she needed AC and she didn’t have AC because she had to stand outside the store waiting. It was total bullshit to her — some massive offense against her and her trials and struggles of being pregnant — and the company should be ashamed of itself.

Look, I try to be understandable to anyone and the shit they’re going through, but the instant someone seems entitled to something, any sympathy I have instantly disappears. Like, poof, gone, fuck you. Yes, I know being pregnant in June probably isn’t comfortable at all, but with all the bitching and appearing like you’re some fucking queen that needs to be catered to, please kindly fuck off.

I also have a zero patience for anyone bitching about problems that they caused themselves. It’s like if I woke up hungover and complained about it; well, I think maybe I had something to do with my misery so why bitch about it? Or my goddamn phone: yes, I tore it apart and fucked it up, but I wasn’t complaining about it like it was some random chance event that happened to me. A tree didn’t fall on my phone and break it. God had nothing to do with it. It was my fault so how could I bitch about it? But this lady was totally complaining that her toddler was in the car with the AC going wasting her gas? For fuck sake, take her out, shut the car off, and let her wait in line with you! Or her bitching about being thirty two weeks pregnant? Once again, I think she might’ve had something to do with getting pregnant (unless she’s Mother Mary #2), so bitching about it seems so…pointless, I guess? Like fuck, Verizon didn’t get you pregnant, and maybe you should’ve known that getting knocked-up in fall/winter of 2019 would mean that you’d be in your final trimester in the fucking hot and humid months of June/July/August. It should be known and accepted. And COVID? Fuck, we’re all waiting in line and no one is happy about it, but what else are we supposed to do? We’re all in the same goddamn boat waiting in line outside of Verizon on a hot and humid day and only she seemed like it was some affront to her humanity or her condition or something.

Not that I was in a good mood myself either. Everything in my life was going wrong. Any step I took to fix something somehow backfired. Hence the phone. I tried to save money by fixing it, and ended up breaking the fuck out of it because I didn’t know what I was doing. We had just gotten our car back from the dealership only to have it fuck up again on the way to work. Nothing was going right, and all I wanted was something to go right. I was at Verizon to fix a problem I had caused for myself and the entire trip was like some insult to my ability to actually fix my phone and have something actually work out. I’d soon be out about $600 because I fucked up. I needed some goddamn positivity and had about zero patience to deal with anything negative, especially some random lady bitching about her life behind me in the line. I was waiting for her to say something to us — anything — and was ready to blurt out a blatantly honest, “Look, I have enough bad shit going on in my life right now and I don’t need anymore negativity. Sorry.”

Eventually after about ten or fifteen minutes Verizon got their shit together, talked to her, found her order, and hauled it out to her. She kinda acted nice, said “thank you,” and waddled her thirty-two week pregnant ass back to her car, running with the AC on, with her two-year old desperately trying to undo her carseat’s belts and fasteners. I felt kinda bad for the kids — the two-year-old and the unborn one — because she seemed like a total bitch of a mom. Like one that will fuck their kids up in some unrepairable way in the next few decades. Hell, the kids might even end up just like their mom; another couple of Karens to haunt Gen A or Gen B kids (or whatever comes after Gen Z) as they wait outside stores during a pandemic. The cycle repeats, something about the Wheel Weaves and the Wheel Wills or something. I don’t know. 

Everyone glanced at everyone else in line, all kinda silently agreeing that “Wow, glad that bitch is gone. Geez.” and there seemed to be a thin form of comradery as we all waited in line and finally got rid of our Karen. Then everyone went back to their phones, conversations, and I continued to sit and vape, trying to play the part of the enlightened Buddhist monk outside Verizon on a Friday. Accepting of the universe and taking each moment as it came and went.