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.

Writing Kinda Sucks

“…I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work.”

Hunter S. Thompson

I think when we pick up any new hobby or interest we only see the positives. We see the glory of it — the big picture of it all. As a painter you imagine relaxing at home and just creating beautiful artwork. Or the pianist sitting at their instrument creating interesting and wonderful music. Or the author, bringing magical worlds to life that only exist on paper and in the imagination of your readers. You dream of actually making it by publishing your books, selling your artwork, or ending up in a successful band, etc. When we undertake a new goal or hobby we rightfully only see the good because it’s where we want to be in our lives. But to get to the good you have to toil away with the total bullshit that no one talks about.

Prospective writers and authors also have their own fantasy: sitting at a desk with a cup of coffee and a dog in the corner/cat in your lap while you let your imagination run wild with ideas that you effortlessly slap down on paper/PC/typewriter/whatever the fuck you’re using. Anyone who has even attempted writing will instantly know this is bullshit. No one idolizes the times where you’re staring at your computer at 11 p.m. and while wanting to write something realizing that you have no idea for what to actually write. Or maybe you have an idea but it doesn’t come out right and you can’t get into a flow. There’s also the opposite problem like with me right now: awake at 2 a.m. suddenly finding yourself inspired to write a blog post about writing. The idea just appears out of the ether and you gotta grab the inspiration before it disappears.

I always thought writing was easy. It’s not that it’s hard like math is hard; it’s a different sort of difficult. I was always the type of person to procrastinate school papers until the night before they were due and knocked them out in a few hours of furious typing; I’d always get good grades by doing this too. Maybe this is where I got the “writing is easy” idea from, and I know for a fact it’s where I got my dreadful procrastination from. (Why plan anything out when you can knock it out in a few frightful hours?!) But writing isn’t easy. Let me walk you through a typical writing process for me. I’m assuming everyone else has similar issues and the more we write the more we learn to manage and minimize these pain-in-the-ass traits that writing entails.

Inspiration

This sounds stupid, but you need to have something to write about before you write. You need a story idea or a blog post idea or something. Once again this was never a problem in high school or college when people told you what to write. Now that you’re doing this on your own you need to figure out your own ideas. These ideas almost have to accidentally come to you and this is frustrating, especially in regards to blogging. We all know that frequently posting is a good idea, but you also need ideas for your posts. You end up torn between spam-posting low quality stuff day-after-day or postponing things for so long that you appear to be unreliable. It’s a pain in the ass.

It’s even worse for fiction writing as you need to conjure up characters, a plot, themes, and whatever else, and as I mentioned earlier you can’t seem to force this part. You can’t sit down and force yourself to write a good story with no plot in mind. You have to sit around and brainstorm and hope something good comes along. Even so, this isn’t an invitation to procrastinate in terms of perfection: you still need to get off your ass and write! It sounds contradictory huh?

The Writing

After you have an idea you can get to work on it. This is the actual fun part of writing where you can let your ideas run wild. Writing is the transformation of ideas into concrete words and sentences that other people can enjoy. It’s timeless and romantic and amazing to do when you get in the zone. You’re literally creating new worlds that have never been created! Bringing into existence people, creatures, and things that have never existed outside of your mind! It’s amazing! Sometimes you start typing and are surprised with what you’ve written, as if the ideas materialized out of thin air. What you write might be fantastically good, or shine light on some subconscious workings of your mind that you’re not even aware of. It’s this part of writing that is the most addictive. This is what I love about writing.

The Editing

For fucks sake this part is awful. I worked for hours day-after-day to finally edit my two ebooks and it wasn’t enjoyable at all. This is the part of the writing process where you take your random, rough, and rambling writings and clean the things up. You’re hunting around for grammatical errors, factual errors, spelling errors, and any other errors imaginable. For fictional stories you’re also making sure the characters’ names and jobs are consistent and that everything makes sense. I realized in one one of my stories that a character was terribly inconsistent in two of the chapters he’s in and it’s something that needs to be fixed. Sometimes you need to move paragraphs and chapters around or even delete the damn things. Sometimes you find irrelevant trash that you have no idea how it ended up in the work in the first place. Chapters about nothing in particular. This step is tedious, boring, time consuming and all around awful.

The End

Somehow if you pull all of this shit together you will have a finished product, be it a story, a novel, a blog post, or even a fancy self-help instructional guide. Whatever. And this is what makes it all worth it I suppose. When you can feel good for sitting through some not-very-fun bullshit to actually create something. When you’ve suffered through all of the difficult and tedious shit long enough to have something to show to others and something that you can be proud of. It doesn’t even matter if what you’ve created is trash because at least you’ve created something. How many countless others have wanted to create something but never got around to doing so? How many people fail before they even start?

But Not the End

Oh yeah, even once you have a finished product on your hands you’re still not finished with the process yet. The more I’ve been writing the more I’ve realized about the other shitty demon involved with trying to be an author: self-promotion. I’m also terrible at it. The fact is even if you wrote a masterpiece no one will buy it or even know about it if you don’t promote yourself. This involves goofy terms like “networking” and “advertising” and “getting yourself out there” and a few other nebulous terms that I despise while not being able to think of them right this moment. Let’s not forget the bloggers’ “SEO” stuff too!

As a side rant I’ve seen this problem mostly with MLM-Facebookers trying to pedal their wraps, diet pills, CBD oils, etc. These people try to sell products to their friends and family first without realizing that they can’t limp by selling products only to them. It’s the same with being an author: even if you have five or ten friends/family that love your writings they cannot support you completely. You can’t be a successful artist if only those people are purchasing your products. You need to branch out and find other customers!

I also think this is antithetical the the stereotypical writer as well, at least for me it is: I’m a person that likes to stay inside my head and someone who has confidence issues. A classic introvert I am. I really do think my writing isn’t good enough for people to actually want to read and am constantly surprised when I hear positive feedback on it. Obviously I’m terrible at self-promotion. It always comes across as begging or cringy when I try to get new people to read my writings. It’s hard to do. I wish I could ignore the self-promotion aspect of writing but it seems to go hand in hand with it. You simply can’t git gud at writing where everyone magically loves you. You need to put yourself out there for people to find you in the first place.

As a general closing note here: writing generally takes a long time! It takes much longer than you’d expect it to take. Consider this blog post: it’s only about twelve paragraphs long so take a guess how long I worked on it? I wrote it in 20 or 30 minutes, and have been editing/proofreading it for about an hour and a half (!!!). I also need to add tags to it, make a banner for it, proofread it again and then post it. In total I’d say this post — which is a total low-effort “quick” post — took a total of two to three hours from start to finish. Writing kinda sucks.

Greta is our Hero

Note: I wrote this a week ago and with my ever present procrastination it sat around in Google Docs doing absolutely nothing. I even thought about scrapping it. But yesterday I found a news story saying that the main motivation for this writing, Greta Thunberg, was actually nearby! She was in Iowa which is notable in and of itself. Iowa isn’t exactly where you’d expect to find someone with worldwide fame to be at outside of presidential candidates during Primary Season. Coincidentally, I was in Iowa last weekend when I was bitching about hotels. I’m well experienced with the absolute nothing that is in Iowa: they have corn and that’s about it. I also can’t shit on Iowa too much because I myself live in Illinois, another state that can easily be described with the singular word that is “corn.” (And Chicago I suppose.) So the stars aligned and Greta was only a few hundred miles away from where I am now and stupidly close to where I was last weekend. Let’s publish this shit and get it over with while I naively think the Universe is sending me signals.

This post is clearly breaking with tradition by not featuring something “that sucks” but if anything what does suck is our inability to actually change the world as individuals. I wrote an early post about that here if you want to check it out. Instead of dwelling on the negativity of our helplessness I want to take a more positive approach. Crazy, right?

Greta Thunberg is yada yada and I’m sure you’ve heard about it all on either mainstream news stations, social media, our your drunken, second-amendment-obsessed right-winger uncle. And I’m sure you already have your opinions of her depending on what you’re brainwashed to believe: she’s either a personal hero (raises hand) or a total fucking villain, something something deepstate/liberal propaganda puppet. I don’t like giving an overview of people like this because it’s tedious and boring; anything or anyone I write about is probably popular enough that you already know who they are. So yeah, Greta. You already know her.

But hey, didn’t you say you weren’t going to write anything political anymore? Yeah, you’re right actually, and that hasn’t changed. What you might not realize is that climate change isn’t political at all. It’s established scientific fact, kinda like the theory of general relativity, quantum mechanics, and electromagnetism are (and surprisingly aren’t politicized). Climate change is such sound science that I’m not going to dick around with proving it to you guys: it’s like trying to explain that the sky is actually blue. I’m not going to prove shit because it’s already been proven. The idea that climate science is a political topic is just some bullshit wizardry invented by those that have a personal interest in the public’s ignorance on the topic.

Why Greta is so beloved/hated is due to how outspoken she is in regards to climate change. She is also a young female which also attracts the ire of detractors. She isn’t wrong though: the climate is a finely tuned and immensely complex machine that has developed over literally millions of years. Humans destabilizing the machine within a few hundred years leaves ecosystems with nowhere near enough time to change and adapt and it’s this upcoming collapse of ecosystems that is the real issue with climate change. As much as people like to think they’re separate from nature we are as much a part of it as any other lifeforms on earth. We’re hopelessly dependent upon the very ecosystems were destabilizing. Greta is pissed about all of this because people have been fucking up the planet for decades well aware of the problem at hand and have done jack to prevent any of it. She’s basically been telling world leaders to get their fucking shit together because we don’t have much room for error going forward.

I think Greta speaks for all of us too: why can’t people in charge get their shit together? Why are companies allowed to pollute and pump endless amounts of CO₂ into the air? Why doesn’t somebody do something?! Note how we always gripe about someone or somebody else. Here’s where I slightly disagree with what Greta is saying: we are the people that need to be doing something! You and I are the problem, and asking or demanding someone else like companies/governments to do something is slightly missing the point. The only problem here is that us, as individuals, feel utterly powerless to do anything to prevent climate change. While we actually hold all the power, we don’t know how to wield it.

Companies don’t pollute for the hell of it because that would go against simple economics. Everyone acts in their own self-interests, corporations as well as us consumers, and this is what drives the world’s mostly capitalist economies. It isn’t a perfect system but it seems to be the economic system that works the best. Us as consumers want good products for cheap and companies provide those products to us to earn the most customers/money. Consider the electric companies: they don’t burn coal for the hell of burning coal, they burn coal because it is the cheapest form of fuel they can find and if they find anything cheaper they’ll switch to that. The problem isn’t companies blatantly polluting, the problem is they have no incentive to do otherwise because us consumers demand their products.

The reason none of us alter our daily activities and habits is because we all feel powerless. If I was the head of a giant corporation I know I could take drastic measures to combat climate change. The same is true if I was a politician. But I’m neither of those things and am just some random guy in Illinois. What can I do to stop climate change? And why would I want to change anything if it will be utterly futile? This is why we want the government or corporations to do something; we can’t do a damn thing because we feel powerless as individuals.

We can stop climate change dead in its tracks if we collectively got our shit together as individuals. We are the problem, but by being the problem we are also the solution.

And back to Greta. Greta is our hero because she can unite us usually helpless feeling individuals and give us direction. I really think humans by our very nature require leaders. Left alone we kinda zip off in our own directions and wander around with misdirected motivation. I think of bugs or moths around a light a night: each of us while wanting to do something is zipping around lost, confused, misguided and undirected. If only we had someone to give a voice to those who feel they have no voice and to give us all a direction to move towards. Someone to inspire us.

Greta also contributes to meme magic.

And that’s what I think Greta’s main power is. We all like her sticking it to world leaders and corporations but they only do what their constituents/consumers want. They’re only working as they should in a capitalist economy. (Maybe that is the problem? There is no incentive to work in a carbon neutral way because there is no economic incentive to do so. I think a carbon tax might be a good idea, although I’m no expert.) But with Greta sticking it to the world leaders, she gets us all on the same page. She gets people passionate about climate change and has us asking What can we do to help stop climate change? I know I’ve been asking myself that same question over and over the past week and I can only imagine that other people are doing the same thing I am, possibly by the millions. We’re not alone and she reminds us of that.

Depression in Stardew Valley Sucks

A few days ago I became legitimately depressed while playing Stardew Valley. It was both kinda funny and sad at how awful I felt over the game; I didn’t know whether I should laugh about it or feel depressed by being depressed by a video game, let alone Stardew Valley. This incident also shined some light on my own personality and the lack of self confidence I have in life. This post will probably be deeper than you might expect from a Stardew Valley inspired post, but here goes.

Here’s where I give a shitty overview of the game in case people don’t know what I’m talking about: Stardew Valley is a game where you farm stuff and live in a tiny village. You can talk to, befriend, and even marry some of the residents in the town. I don’t know how important all of that is to the main story of the game, but the game does stress the aspect of community, which freshens it up from being only a farming simulator. Anyway, it’s also a cutesy, 2D top down, “kiddie game” as one of my friends described it. This almost makes the incident worse because as stated it’s a kids game: It shouldn’t punch me right in the feels, especially as directly as it did.

In-game Jeremy wandering the fuck around.

There’s a community dance (The Flower Dance) that happens in the forest around day 25. It’s an optional thing to do so whatever, no big deal. I went to the dance because I’m trying to be the friendly new guy in town who is trying his damndest to fit in and be accepted in the community. I should also say that up to this point in the game I’ve been a very diligent and socially-isolated farmer: I’m toiling away in my fields every single day either chopping wood for fertilizer, planting/harvesting/watering the crops, or running into town to buy more seeds. While some people might be fucking around socializing in town all day, I’m trying to turn my farm into the most fantastic farm ever and give the community something to be proud of. Because fuck the JoJa Corporation and Capitalism in general. I’m all about seizing the means of production, even if I haven’t told Mayor Lewis any of my intentions yet…

Pam is a beauty…

So Jeremy who is the new resident of Stardew Valley — let’s call him in-game Jeremy — shows up to the dance and starts talking to people. Some of the townsfolk he sort of knowns, and others appear to be new faces. Mayor Lewis allows in-game Jeremy to decide when the dance should actually start (since the game sort of revolves around in-game Jeremy for some terrible reason. Unbeknownst to in-game Jeremy he is, in fact, the player character. The story literally revolves around him). After talking to most of the people in-game Jeremy realizes that he can ask people to dance with him. Oh shit! He actually found this when he accidentally asked the emo gothic guy to dance with him. Luckily he said no but it was still awkward. (“Hey bro, you want to dance with me? No homo tho, I just think those skinny jeans look really good on you.”) In-game Jeremy then proceeds to confidently ask the females, being picky at first but then growing desperate and asking anyoneeven the trashy, alcoholic Pam but you can’t actually ask her — if they would like to dance. They usually replied with something like this:

“Oh! Oh! I’m sorry…I, er…have plans to ask someone else.”

“I’m flattered! But…no.”

“That’s flattering…but I’m gonna have to say no. Sorry.”

“I’ll be honest. I don’t want to dance with you.”

“Eww…No.”

Holy fuck game, thanks for the hefty dose of rejection. So in-game Jeremy, with no one to dance with, finally walks up to Mayor Lewis and gives him the go-ahead to start the dance. In game Jeremy wants to just get the stupid-ass dance over with so he can head back home and go to sleep. He’s sick of these people, their rejection, and their unappreciation of him, his hard work, and his farm.

After the dance in-game Jeremy goes to his house and goes to bed. It’s night and there’s nothing to do. He almost thought about watering the crops before bed, but fuck the plants too, they can wait. In the morning, in-game Jeremy stares at the crops and doesn’t actually want to do any work, but he sure as fuck isn’t going to town today to socialize with those assholes. He doesn’t want to work on the crops but there’s nothing else to do with his life so he begrudgingly gets to work. Watering. Weeding. Planting. Harvesting. Urgh. Not that anyone appreciates it. “Fuck this place,” In-game Jeremy says as he toils in the fields the day after the dance.

A few days later, still feeling shitty but not quite as shitty, in-game Jeremy realizes that it’s Emily’s birthday, and that he should give her a gift. Maybe a flower? After he picks a few flowers and heads into town he stops and thinks, “Is she even going to like this? She probably won’t even give a shit if I give her a gift or not. If anything it’ll be the wrong gift and she’ll hate me.” In-game Jeremy goes up to the “shipping bin” where you place products your farm has created, and chucks the flowers into that. Emily has no idea in-game Jeremy was even going to give her a gift and goes about her day knowing nothing of the conflict that occured in in-game Jeremy’s head. In-game Jeremy continues to sulk and overthink things as he tends to his garden daily. “Pretty sure all the fuckers hate me,” he thinks to himself.

The next day in-game Jeremy finally drags his ass into town. He ran into Haley, a young and beautiful blonde lady who lives in town. He tries talking to her, just to say “Hi” or “How’s your day going?” The game informed in-game Jeremy that: 

HALEY IS IGNORING YOU

“Maybe you should, like, kill yourself? No one likes you or your stupid farm!”

Jesus Christ, Stardew Valley is depressing as fuck.

In-game Jeremy then stops into Pierre’s store to find some rope for a noose, but sadly Pierre doesn’t sell rope. Not that in-game Jeremy has unlocked the noose-crafting node anyways. In-game Jeremy, as depressed as he is, is hopelessly stuck in the world with no way to escape.

While I was trying to strike a clear difference between me — IRL Jeremy — and my avatar in-game (in-game Jeremy) I found it kinda difficult to do in practice. When you play a game that is as absorbing as Stardew you kinda become the player character and this is a good thing. (“This game really makes you feel like Spiderman!”) While in-game Jeremy felt like shit over being rejected by everyone in town, it also became difficult for IRL Jeremy to also not feel rejected, even if there was no reason to feel that way. While IRL Jeremy was laughing at the brutal and consist nature of in-game Jeremy’s rejection something inside was also being stirred around. The vague shadow of repressed memories, fears of total social rejection, and loneliness from high school/college swam at the corners of my consciousness. What if everyone I know actually hates me? What do people say about me when I’m not around? Am I really as awkward as I think I am? Does anyone actually appreciate me? It was kinda scary. Faced with the “fun, kid-friendly” story and graphics of Stardew Valley, it almost seemed surreal in a way. This game was making me feel like shit about my own life and had me questioning all my real relationships and my worth in the world.

I also felt bitter and angry towards the damn in-game townsfolk; these people aren’t even real and I was pissed at them! Logically it made sense that no one wanted to dance with in-game Jeremy because he was the new guy in town who has only been around for 25 days (or like 2.5 months if you take Stardew time in terms of a year) and who wasn’t being social at all or making zero effort to socialize. The town basically sees in-game Jeremy as a recluse farmer who never talks to people but then shows up and creepily asks every person available to dance. No shit they said no! If I was a video game NPC like these people I’d also say no! In-game Jeremy — you socially-inept idiot — you have to make actual effort in relationships for them to work. And if that isn’t hitting things a bit close for IRL Jeremy as well. I found myself questioning how much effort I put into friendships and if I expect other people to do all the work. Or do I just show up and expect people to like me when I do nothing likeable at all? Do I show enough interest in other people? Or am I self-centered asshole that metaphorically is a recluse farmer who tends his fields all day? Once again I wasn’t expecting goddamn life lessons from Stardew but here we are.

One of the highlights of the game so far. I was pissed and fishing off this bridge just because, and Abigail walked up and stood next to me. She stood there for hours watching me fish and neither of us said anything. In-game Jeremy was utterly focused on catching those damn fish and gave no outward sign of his appreciation, but he loved her for being there keeping him company.

I’m complaining here but you have to give the game credit: usually people play video games just to kill time, to have fun, or to escape the real world for a little bit. To feel some progress in a game world to counteract the utter difficulty and lack of progress in the real world. It’s a rare game that somehow acts as a mirror and puts yourself up there on display for you to analyze, especially if said game is usually viewed as a “kids game.” This allows you to lower your defenses and to be vulnerable, not realizing that you’re about to get utterly punched in the feels so aggressively that it resonates with your actual self. Stardew Valley made in-game Jeremy feel like a loser who would never properly fit in with the townsfolk even if he really wanted to, and that made IRL Jeremy also feel the same way, constantly searching for approval, community, and appreciation. The depressive mood didn’t last for long, maybe twenty minutes or so, but it was twenty minutes that I was not prepared for at all. It was an eye-opening experience that I wasn’t at all ready for. Fuck you Stardew Valley for being such a good game.

Hotel Rooms Suck

I’m currently out of town and sitting around totally bored in a hotel room. I really don’t want to write a blog post or anything but there is literally nothing else to do so why not try to be productive? After this I’ll probably try to work on some stories or something. While I don’t exactly know where this post is headed I’m going to write it anyways. This has never before been attempted on the Everything Sucks blog!

It’s already uncomfortable enough being in a city that you’ve never been in. In this case it’s Waterloo, Iowa (yay…). And it’s also discomforting knowing that the city you’re currently in which you’ve never been in before is also exactly the same as nearly every other city you’ve been in. Even though you’ve drive hundreds — even thousands of miles — across the wide open expanses of the United State of America, you always find yourself in the exact same places that you’ve already been. Our current hotel is situated less than a mile from a mall, a Target, a CVS, a handful of other hotels, a handful of gas stations, and a handful of restaurants. You already know those too: Applebees, Olive Garden, Burger King, McDonalds, Arbys, and so on.

This is America. Seriously. Zoom in on any city and its “business section” and you’ll find the same general theme of businesses. Coast to fucking coast…

My point here is that while being holed up in a hotel room is boring, you also can’t go outside and find anything else that isn’t boring. There’s no culture to explore and discover. This city is the same city I live in even if it has a different name. The streets have different names and everything is laid out differently but it’s the exact same city I’m used too: there just isn’t anything new out there and it’s not like I’m in a different country or anything. For all purposes Iowa and Illinois are exactly the same thing. No new and exciting accents, geography, or anything. Not even a new time zone.

Hotel rooms are fit nicely into this because they’re all exactly the same too. Each room of a hotel is superficially the same layout, even if one room is a mirror image of the room next to it. Each room has a shower, bed, sink, a bunch of mirrors (to make the room look bigger I’m assuming), and usually a table or a desk with a “work chair” or something like that. These rooms are cookie-cutter rooms that you’re just meant to sleep in because there isn’t much else you can do in them. Besides type bored blog posts that is.

Work in progress on “The Work Desk” feature of every hotel room.

They’re also surprisingly devoid of life as well. When you go into people’s houses or rooms they each have their own design, layout, and unique smells. People usually have their belongings/clothes/artwork/pictures/junk around that makes these places feel “lived in” and alive. Hotel rooms feel clinically clean and totally devoid of life even if they are, microbally, diverse and thriving (eww). It’s strange because the room I’m in has also been lived in by countless other people over the years and I don’t even want to think about how many babies were conceived and how many STDs were contracted on the mattress I’m laying on right now. But even knowing the amount of people and “stuff” that has actually occurred where I’m at there are no signs of anything really. It’s as clean and bland as a doctor’s waiting room. Hell, even more so as our room doesn’t have the classic “doctor’s office artwork” on the walls. A hotel room is probably the blandest living space you can find in our society.

I’m also staying at a fucking Motel 6 which is about as bottom of the barrel as you can get in terms of lodging. This is partly due to procrastinating the reservation as well as being fucking cheap. I’m notoriously cheap! A hotel room is just a place to sleep when you’re away from town and I’m not trying to stay at a place with a “fitness room” or a place that offers a “free continental breakfast” which I’m never awake in time to attend anyways. A room is a room and a bed is a bed and so be it. Anyways, Motel 6 is stupidly cheap and you can tell this from the room I’m in: this place isn’t trying to lie about its cheapness or to pamper you at all. Hell, it doesn’t even have a coffee maker which I’ve assumed was standard in all hotel rooms. This makes the room feel even more “hotely” than usual, once again pointing to the lack of stereotypical “hotel art” on the walls. These walls are bare: there is literally nothing on them besides the white and brownish-orange paint on the walls.

Next to our cheap Motel 6 is a Holiday Inn Express, and while not a 5-star place itself it is much higher up on the hotel food-chain than our Motel 6 is (Their rooms are around $90 per night while ours were around $70). In fact the building itself is higher up with its four floors overlooking our paltry two floors. Sometimes I will look out the window and see curious Holiday Inners curiously glancing out — and downwards, metaphorically and physically — into our Motel 6 rooms. And hey, I’m looking right back at them as well, a kinda passive curiosity exchanged between us. I ask in my imagination to them, “Hello, fellow traveler, what exactly are you doing in Waterloo, Iowa of all places? Are you on a business trip or are you on vacation with your family? Is this hellhole your actual destination or are you headed for more elaborate locations in the USA? Are you stopping for the night on a long journey to the West Coast or are you heading out East? Perhaps to see New York or Washington? Niagara Falls? Or maybe the Grand Canyon?” Then again maybe the man looking down on me from over there is just picking up a prostitute for the night. Who knows. I’m imaging them wondering the same thing about me as well: Who is this guy sitting in a rolly-chair with a hat on at 8 p.m.? Why is he rolling around in his hotel room in said chair? Why does he look angry? And what is he typing on his computer and why is he taking pictures of his hotel room? And why the fuck does he keep looking up at me and then typing something on his computer?

(Note: I also doubt that anyone is staying in Waterloo during a transcontinental adventure. Waterloo, IA doesn’t even have a giant interstate running through connecting anything important. 380 connectes Cedar Rapids to Waterloo but doesn’t really do much other than that. Why anyone is here is anyone’s guess.)

I’m new to staying in hotel rooms and usually only deal with them for the rare vacation and then only for a few days at most. I’m imaging the people who stay in these lifeless boxes frequently, like pilots, business travelers, musicians, etc. and I wonder what the hell they think of these places. I don’t even know what jobs require you to frequent these bland, all-the-same-but-kinda-different rooms and buildings, but it almost seems like it would be draining in a way. Like if you stay in these rooms for too long you go crazy. I’m thinking like the movie Fight Club or in the Stephen King stories 1408 or The Shining where the hotel room/hotel itself is haunted. Hotel rooms seem to have some mystery to them simply because they’ve been around for so long and have had so many people stay in them. Over time there’s bound to be something crazy happen in them. But maybe that’s the wrong outlook and that some people find these rooms comforting in a way. As all the rooms are the same I could seem them turing into “home” for the frequent traveler; a little slice of comfort and familiarity to come home to in the total blandness of them. Like if you stay in bland and drab rooms long enough you start to find them comforting in a way. Like you find yourself used to and comforted by the neutered lamp-on-desk, undecorated white walls, and wrapped up single-ply toilet papers. The white, undecorated towels. Not to mention the little shampoo bottles as well! As for me, luckily they’re only boring, even if they are intensely boring. I’m just trying to pass the time here. I’m not returning to just another hotel room on a month’s long job assignment, nor am I terrified that the room is haunted or that I’m losing my mind. Maybe boring isn’t so bad after all.

Enlightenment Sucks (Part 1 of ?)

I’m pretty much a closeted Buddhist. I say closeted because I’m not really good at being a Buddhist; I’ve never been to a temple and I’ve never actually done anything extremely “Buddhist” whatever the fuck that means. I also have a blog where I write “fuck” alot, complain about everything, and seem to hate all sorts of shit: this also doesn’t sound very Buddhist of me. But I do have the mindset that favors introspection, curiosity, understanding, and being at peace with the world and find the “religion” (if you want to call it that) to be very appealing. Buddhism just kinda clicks with me I guess.

Buddhism doesn’t attempt to place universal blame on some entity for suffering or salvation on someone else’s back: everything seems to be solely up to you. While Christianity seems hell-bent (pun!) on saving your soul through Jesus Christ, Buddhism seems to be focused on saving your ass from yourself. To prevent you from making your own life miserable. And instead of some holy figure to guide you, you’re given the Buddha: some dude who figured out the way to be enlightened. That’s about it. He himself wasn’t actually special or anything: he just figured it out. Life is about finding enlightenment and that’s it. Because, according to Buddhism, the only problem with your life is your mindset. Life isn’t fucked up: it’s your view of life that is fucked up.

What is enlightenment exactly? Buddhism seems to define this as being “aware of how things are” and in a slightly different aspect of it “happy” or at least “okay” with how things are. Buddha didn’t become a saint or do anything magical; he was just a guy who figured shit out and was at peace. This is cool because if some random dude in India figured shit out, then so can you! I suppose at the end of the day — and maybe everyone feels this way — I have the same goal: I want to have a deep and fundamental understanding of existence and be at peace with it. Even if something shitty happens to me I want to be able to back up, view the event from an outside perspective, and be “happy” or “okay” about it in some form or another. This is what enlightenment is, at least to me. It’s kinda hard to put into words really.

The problem arises because I’m fucking terrible about being happy and thankful with the current state of the world! As much as I idealize this idea of enlightenment I’m actually awful at placing it into action: I’m an angry and pissy person and it’s hard for me to see any positives in anything that actually happens. My own personality, while liking the idea of being enlightened, seems to be diametrically opposed to it.

Here’s an example. I was out on the porch drinking just being in the moment and while not purposefully meditating I was still in the zone so to speak. It was like a form of passive meditation. There were kittens outside playing and I was simply sitting there, watching them, totally at peace with the world. Life was good. I would assume that Eastern philosophy and Buddhism would refer to this moment as “enlightenment” (especially Zen as this moment was a kinda “aha! I get it!” moment) and while I didn’t ascend to a higher plane or have any deep insights I was at peace with the world (which is the deep insight really) and totally okay and accepting of anything in it.

But apparently not. Because that’s when the neighbor lady showed up.

She came outside and started trying to call one of the kittens over. We named him “Rain” which is a pretty fucking stupid name anyways, but apparently she had named him “Cutie” which is another level of stupid. So there I was, peaceful, buzzed, and in the Buddhist-Zone when this lady starts yelling in a loving, motherly voice but with the tone of pure nails-on-chalkboard, “Cutie! Cutie! Where are you, Cutie?! Come here kittykittykittykittykittykittykittykitty !”

“It’s an older meme, sir, but it checks out.”

I about lost my shit. It wasn’t as if this slowly wore my mood down over time — no — as soon as she started screeching at the cat my blood instantly started to boil. My pulse and blood pressure notably skyrocketed. My peace, love, happiness, and understanding instantly disappeared in a fiery moment of pure hatred towards this other person. Another being in the universe having the same experiences and troubles as me? My ass. This lady was totally ruining my goddamn peace love and happiness! Didn’t she realize how utterly fucking annoying she was? Didn’t she realize that you can’t force a cat to love you? Didn’t she understand that the kittens were playing and didn’t give a fuck about anything she was screeching about?

(Insight Note: You can’t force a cat to love you. They’re passive beings that love doing their own thing. The kittens had more love for me passively sitting there and not bothering them than they did for the overly aggressive lady that wanted the kittens to love her. Cats have to love you on their own terms. I put myself out there to be loved by the kittens, but at the end of the day I try to leave them alone until they’re accepting of me. This is also true of people. WOAH. 3deep5u.)

Obviously this wasn’t a very cash-money Buddhist way of feeling, and I almost feel bad about these intrusive thoughts. Almost. The thing about meditation is it makes me happy and when this happiness is interrupted I get angry, usually way too angry for the situation. It’s really frustrating because I’m obviously not at the “peace, love, and acceptance” level where I can deal with incidents like these. I’m still horribly flawed even if I do have glimpses of enlightenment and peace and this makes things even more frustrating.

The Buddha when I lost my peace thanks to Neighbor Lady.

And it’s times like that where I think I’m not cut out to be enlightened or at peace in life. I’m just not worthy of it. Im kinda a jackass. I talk shit about some of my coworkers and while my supervisor is a very peaceful, loving, and “everyone has their own story and struggle and you shouldn’t judge them” type of person, I can’t seem to not shit all over people for doing the smallest thing wrong. I understand what she’s getting at, but can’t convince myself to feel that way even if I do think that way. I’m a goddamn dirtbag! While on the surface I understand that people have their own struggles and so on, I still can’t put that into practice and, ya know, be a good person.

In fact I’ve almost started embracing my dickishness. When I’m at the store I openly cuss in front of children. I scowl as people that stand in my way. I’m petty and bitter and love saying “I told you so” when I’m proven right. I don’t go out of my way to make people miserable (I’m not “Karen” asking to talk to your manager) but if I’m pissed-off it’s hard to hide it. I’m all for self-improvement and think everyone should try to fix their flaws, but at the same time I think everyone needs to be themselves, which makes zero sense really. It pisses me off when I see Facebook posts saying something like “If you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best.” It sounds like justification for being a terrible person. I want to not be a terrible person but I also want to accept myself as-is, even if I apparently am kinda a dick. It’s confusing and contradictory.

As much as I’m into the Buddhist theory and mindset, I’m apparently fucking terrible at putting it into practice. While I like the idea of enlightenment, I realize that I’m not the type of person to actually be enlightened. Something is always pissing me off (which is nice when you have a blog called Everything Sucks I guess) and even if I had an amazing day, I’ll still be upset by something. (“I won the lottery? Well now I’ll have to pay someone to do my taxes for me next year. Fuck.”) It’s a constant feeling of I’m not good enough and I’ll never be good enough in terms of my own peace, happiness, and well-being. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be an enlightened person.

Crickets Suck

Well, once again it’s a ridiculous time of the morning and I still haven’t been able to sleep. The current time is 6:14 a.m. I’m tired but unable to sleep. Insomnia. You know the deal.

The problem tonight today? Crickets. Yes. Crickets.

Part of the problem is that I sleep in the basement. Apparently crickets love basements. And on top of that, the basement recently flooded. Apparently crickets love moist locations. Basically I’m trying to sleep in a moist basement that is apparently a paradise to the annoying black bugs and they’re moving in as such. Damn.

Having insomnia is bad, but what makes it really shitty is how every little thing can bug the hell out of you, pun maybe intended here. It’s not necessarily that I can’t sleep, it’s that anything minor bothers me so much that I can’t sleep. Like the bed sheets don’t feel right, or it’s too hot down here, or how the crickets won’t shut the fuck up. Something minor that with nothing else to focus on your mind fixates on.

The thing people don’t realize about crickets is that they’re loud as fuck. This is obvious when you think about it; you can hear crickets outside chirping at night through the walls and windows. This isn’t really a problem, but the fact that you can still hear the bastards when they’re outside is testament to how loud they actually are.

Now imagine one or more of these black, creepy fuckers a few feet away from you while trying to sleep. They’re loud. At first you can kinda tune them out and not let their sound bother you, but as the hours pass without sleep the noise works it’s way into your conscious thought. You can’t not hear the crickets chirping. Chirp, chirp, fucking chirp. Hours upon hours. Chirp. Actually more like CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP.

It wouldn’t be bad if the chirps were consistent white-noise like a fan, AC, static on the radio, rain falling outside, wind blowing through trees, traffic on the nearby road, or even the high pitched buzz of a phone charger. Something that can blend into the back of your mind where your brain can tune it out. Nope. Not the fucking crickets. Sometimes these loud fuckers stop chirping only to randomly start up 5 minutes later. This instantly raises my pulse because I’ll have anxiety about how long the silence will last. These devilish bastards will be silent for 10 minutes, let out two quick chirps to get my blood pressure up, and then go back into silent mode for five more minutes. It’s like they’re purposefully tormenting me, just breaking up the chirping with silence to remind me they’re still there, not letting my brain completely tune them out.

Each cricket also has its own chirp too, like how people have different voices. Some crickets  chirp in a well defined way, a clear and rhythmic chirp, chirp, chirp, whereas the one droning on currently has a very persistent and staticy sound to him. Like a constant buzzing noise. A sort of CCCHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. The sound could easily fade into white-noise if he’d be consistent, but he stops every now and then to remind me that he’s there. What a fucker.

A few nights ago I snapped on a cricket. One wouldn’t shut up and I started moving furniture to violently murder him with a can of Raid. I’m usually not hostile towards bugs (except mosquitos for obvious reasons: if something is trying to feed off of me they’re going to die) and I even let spiders roam the house unchallenged (at least spiders are quiet), but the cricket had to go. When I found him I angrily used way more Raid than was required. I was really upset and took it out on the poor guy. This is what anger can do to a normally passive person.

After writing this post, Facebook started giving me ads for Raid. Companies totally aren’t spying on us at all. Fuck you Google, stay outta my docs.

The one haunting me now is smartly hiding under something that is basically unmovable. At least that’s where I think he is; I can’t find him anywhere else. That’s another thing about crickets; their sound is really hard to locate. The noise has a way of scattering all over so it seems like it’s coming from everywhere all at once. You can figure out his general location, but this isn’t good enough if you’re looking to hose him down with poison. You gotta know exactly where he his. So if he isn’t around the heavy wooden chest I’m assuming he’s under the damn thing.

I didn’t think I could write an entire post about crickets, but they can go fuck themselves. I’m actually looking forward to winter when there won’t be bugs invading the basement. Maybe then I can actually get some sleep because as of now I’m just listening to these annoying bugs making loud obnoxious and inconsistent sounds. I swear any cricket I find I’m going to kill with my economy sized can of Raid with zero guilt. I don’t care. I wish death and destruction on their entire species. Fuck em.

Update: I was able to sleep after putting ear plug in my ears. Luckily I work at an airport so have ear plugs all over the house. It made sense to use them. There was another problem though: apparently when you block sound from your ears in a mostly quiet room, your brain starts to hallucinate sounds as sensory deprivation seems to do. I couldn’t hear anything but occasionally would hallucinate sounds. Unusually these were electronic beeps and boops sort of like what you’d find in old NES video games. While I didn’t hear the cricket anymore, I was terrified of my own brain making up sounds and scaring me because it had nothing else better to do. At least that problem is way more interesting than crickets chirping.

Drinking Sucks: 10 Reasons to Not be a Drunkard

Lists of ten, top-ten lists, or whatever you want to call them kinda suck in their own right, but I want to write one anyways. It seems fun, clickbaity, and will be a challenge putting together ten individual items to discuss here. Since my slew of vacations and my mental meltdown I’ve had one hell of a time with alcohol, and in a way I think I’m writing this post mostly for myself to get back on track. So what better way to make a “top 10 list” than to bitch about alcohol abuse. So I hereby present to you ten reasons to quit drinking!

10. Save Money $$$

The best motivation to do almost anything is to make money/save money; it’s the driving force behind everything in a capitalist society. Despite this, I put saving money as far down the list as possible. This is due to a few reasons. Firstly, people don’t change addictions based on cash savings; no one would smoke, drink, or shoot heroin if this was true. Addiction is one of the few things that exist outside the motivation to make/save money. Secondly, alcohol is actually pretty cheap! Smoking a pack a day will leave you out literal thousands of dollars in a year. If you are an alcoholic you simply won’t save a ton of money by quitting. The benefit it in everything else.

While alcohol is cheap (and probably the cheapest of any substance addiction you can have) it still isn’t free. Even if you won’t save as much as a heroin-addict would by getting clean, you still are saving a bunch of cash. Consider a six-pack, three-days-a-week sort of drunk: a cheap six-pack can cost about $5 (if you’re not buying utter trash beer that is). This would be $15 a week, or about $800 every year! If you drink every day of the week this cost obviously doubles to well over $1,500. While saving money shouldn’t be your primary reason to not drink, it also shouldn’t be forgotten.

9. Not Be Hungover

Anyone who has drank moderately/heavily in a single sitting should be familiar with the dreaded hangover. I don’t need to explain it too much because if you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with the symptoms: the dehydration, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, anxiety, jitteriness, hunger, nausea, lethargy, light sensitivity, and the pounding headache. I mean what else can be said of the hangover? Sometimes I find music sounds better when hungover, but besides that they’re fucking miserable and horrid affairs. Obviously if you don’t drink, you don’t deal with a hangover.

8. Eat Better/Lose Weight

A serving of alcohol (can of beer, shot of liquor, glass of wine, 5 pumps of hand sanitizer, etc.) has some calorie content to it. This varies greatly, but the fact is that alcohol itself has calories means there is no “diet alcohol” or whatever you’d want to call it. By simply drinking you’re consuming extra calories than you normally would. Consider that a shot of vodka has about 70 calories: six of them would have 420 calories! This isn’t a whole lot but it’s the bare minimum you can get drunk from. A can of beer has over 100 calories (usually) and anything with added sugar is even worse. The fact is if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably consuming a fuckton of calories and probably packing on weight. The term “beer belly” has reasons behind it.

This is considering that you’re not exercising or lowering the amount of food you actually eat. If you’re drinking heavily it probably means that you’re not exercising or taking good care of yourself: in fact I’d assume you’d probably be eating horribly! Everyone knows alcohol, greasy burgers, and fried foods fit together perfectly (shout out to pizza here) and the alcoholic isn’t usually stereotyped as deeply athletic. This stresses the point even further: if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably also getting fatter. So if you quit drinking you might lose weight.

7. Sleep Better

While alcohol can knock your ass out in heavy doses, it doesn’t seem to give you a good night’s rest. Even if you pass out drunk and are unconscious for eight hours you’ll wake up feeling like you only had an hour-long nap. While this might not be detrimental here and there, dragging this shit out for weeks and months of fully-fledged alcoholism, you will end up feeling like shit. Even though you’re sleeping enough your body simply isn’t repairing itself and recovering like it is supposed to. By not drinking, you just rest better and feel better during the day.

6. Stave off Insomnia

This is probably a subset of what I talked about in number seven (sleeping better), but fuck you because this is my top ten list. I can break it down into as many or as few sections as I want! I separated them not only to add more numbers to this top-ten list bullshit, but because insomnia usually occurs a few days after bingeing. Since your sleep quality is trash when you’ve been drinking, when you stop you do get a few days where you’re so tired and worn out that you sleep really well. I’m talking nights where you sleep 10-12 hours and wake up feeling energized and refreshed.

The problem occurs after those restful days. I think, and I don’t really know for sure, this is due to alcohol being a depressant and “slowing your body down” or something. The human body adapts, or tires to adapt, to things; if you’re drinking a depressant your body “upregulates” everything to keep you moving. It’s like the reverse of drinking caffeine, a sort of “inverse crash” or whatever. As your body finds itself without alcohol, you find yourself “upregulated” and your mind just constantly keeps running, especially at night. This is especially bad because you might turn to drinking just to sleep normally. Another downside to insomnia is that you’d think if you couldn’t sleep you’d be awake, but you’re not. Alcohol insomnia leaves you tired, exhausted, and unable to sleep. It sucks.

5. Have a Better Memory/Focus

Drinking puts you into a haze while sobriety clears things up. If you drink a lot, you’re basically entering and exiting hazes daily (or whatever) and this makes reality get kinda…confusing. You start to forget what you were actually doing in regards to life planning/projects you’re taking care of. Take writing a book for example: you need to remember what the hell you were actually writing about to make progress at it in the future. I, like many others, have found that drinking greatly improved my ability to write at the expense of having no idea what I had actually written. This leaves you feeling lost in the grand scheme of whatever you got going on. It becomes hard to tie thoughts together into a coherent project.

I’ve also realized that I’d forget what I’ve talked to people about even if I was sober at the time. Like I’d tell a coworker a story and repeat the story days later without remembering initially telling them. I found myself prefacing every conversation with, “Not sure if I told you this before, but…” just to acknowledge that I was at least aware that I might be repeating myself.

This is related to drinking but I don’t know how to explain its direct relationship to it. Obviously you forget shit when you’re actually drinking, but a general effect on memory seems to exist and is especially scary. Everyone expects to forget shit when drinking, but when this effect spills over into the weeks after drinking it is especially frightening. Quit drinking and you might have a better memory and won’t feel like you’re on the verge of Alzheimer’s.

4. Have Better Teeth

I don’t know if this is really a thing, but whenever I’d go to the dentist for a routine six-month cleaning they’d always ask me if I drank a lot of pop. I’d always say “no” and they’d give me a look of complete and total skepticism. The dentist and the hygenist know exactly what the effects of sugar look like on teeth so they’re the last people you want to lie to about what you actually drink, but fact is fact: I didn’t drink pop hardly at all. I’d have a can of pop once a week, maybe twice, but this wasn’t nearly enough to cause dental trouble. And I’d brush everyday! What the hell was going on here? Why were they looking at me suspiciously like I was telling a lie?

It might be alcohol. As we know, alcoholic drinks have sugar and starches and whatever else and this can’t be good on your teeth in heavy amounts. This is another one of these “I don’t know this for a fact but I assume it’s true” things: drinking probably fucks your teeth up just as much (if not more) as heavily-sugared sodas do. I did tell the dentist/hygienist that I did drink a lot of beer but that I didn’t, in fact, drink soda ever. I mean if they’re going to accuse me of dietary habits that were fucking my teeth up they need to at least get it correct: beer was fucking my teeth up.

3. Anxiety

I was sober for a span of 5 months this year, and holy hell, I didn’t have any anxiety. I mean there was still a background level of anxiety, but it was nothing like the physically-shaking-before-going-to-work style of anxiety that I was used to. This was surprising because being a total alcoholic lead me to believe that maybe I just had anxiety that badly naturally. Sobriety made the anxiety just disappear. It was a slow and easy-to-miss process, but after a few months I’d find myself not worrying as much about stressful upcoming events. I’d still be stressed and worried, but for some reason this didn’t translate into anxiety. You might drink to help relieve your anxiety, but in reality it is probably making it worse. By not drinking you might find that your anxiety slowly vanishes, or turns into something manageable.

2. Motivation

I like to think alcohol works by moving happiness from one point of your life to another, usually from the next day to the present. You drink and you feel better, but you pay for it the next day by feeling miserable. This “sum of happiness” never changes but it’s just shifted around and isn’t a scientifically quantifiable amount at all, but it makes some sense I guess. I think this happens with motivation too.

Drinking for me gets my ass in gear. I love drinking on the weekends and doing dishes, cleaning the house, work on blog posts and stories, and generally just knocking out projects I need to do. The problem occurs the following day when I seemingly moved motivation to the previous day: I’m lazy, uninspired, and don’t want to do a damn thing. This can obviously lead to problems where you drink just to get your motivation back and this snowballs quickly into alcoholism.

By not drinking you can have motivation!

1. Not be Depressed

This one is very similar to #3 (anxiety) in that drinking probably makes a problem worse that you’re trying to cure in the first place by drinking. I think many people have a sort of “background level” of depression and if a notably shitty day happens, they drink to make themselves feel better. But like with anxiety, you end up shooting yourself in the foot because over time drinking just makes you even more depressed where you need more alcohol to feel better. And so on.

And like anxiety it’s hard to notice it happening. Over months and years of periodic drinking you accept your current depressed state as just how things are, and that not drinking can make things worse for you, and even make you feel suicidal. It’s this that keeps drinker hooked and coming back for more with almost zero choice in the matter. While it’s true things usually get worse when you initially stop drinking, hanging in there can prove beneficial.

Months after not drinking your mood is just lighter and you feel better. And like anxiety, it’s hard to realize this and one day you discover that your perpetual depression has just kinda melted away. You stop thinking that people hate you and are trying to avoid you or that everyone talks bad about you behind your back. You stop feeling bad for the shitty state of your life, and with no alcohol to feed the self-doubt and self-hatred, you find yourself making progress towards improving things. I know this might not be true for everyone, but after not drinking I have found zero downside and all upsides to it. And when you find yourself in the clear you wonder why you tortured yourself for so long, because sometimes you realize that life isn’t too bad and in some ways it’s downright enjoyable.

So if you’re a drunkard, maybe consider these ten items and maybe attempt sobriety. It’ll take some effort and it won’t be easy, but usually immensely beneficial things take time and effort and this is certainly one of them. Drinking sucks.