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Battling the Bad Saturday Vibes

Mowing Dad’s Yard

3:19 p.m. and I’m at my dad’s watching my stepdaughter mow his yard. This is her first time using a push mower and boy is she doing an awful job. He finally admitted that his back was totally fucked up, he wasn’t the strong and undefeatable man that he once was, and that he needed someone to mow his yard.

The “someone to mow his yard” is me, obviously. But I’m trying to teach the kids that you have to work to earn something, be it money, food, or whatever other shit they want, and since I despise mowing decided to pay one of them to do it for me. I doubt my father will pay me, so I’m accepting of the fact that I’ll probably have to pay her out of my own pocket to be lazy, not mow, and write this angry blog post in the meantime. When I think about it, $20 is totally worth it.

I had to mow his back yard because the grass was nearly a foot tall. She couldn’t even get the mower through the mess, so I took over and knocked out the back yard for her. She’s doing the front, and I’ll still foot the bill for the her labor, the full $20. I forgot how shitty mowing yards are, especially if you’re using a push mower.

Another favor for my parents where I’m sacrificing something to assist. Time, money, peace of mind, convenience: something. They did raise me and I’m appreciative of that fact, but aren’t my parents — two fully functional adults — able to be a little more self-sufficient than this? Always borrowing money. Rarely paying me back. Requiring me to come get the money that they’re paying me for some reason, like a guy from the bank showing up at my home if I had a payment for him. Having me pick up cigarettes for them. Footing the phone and insurance bills for them monthly. Just being all around pain in the asses to me in a way that I don’t think is good for anyone involved. Sure, I’ll help when needed, but my help seems to be required all the time to where it isn’t helping anymore. It feels like a permanent assistance plan. Especially for my dad who seems to be kinda conservative, I wonder if he equates his opposition to “social safety nets” — those damn welfare queens getting free money and food and shit — to anything I’m doing to help him. The world has a way about making you into a total hypocrite if you’re not careful.

FORD: Found On Road (Driveway) Dead

We hopped in the car to drive to my dad’s to be greeted by this message in the Ford Focus Electric:

Oh no. Recall that this is a fully electric car and while I love the thing, when something does go wrong all it does it blast this message which doesn’t let you drive the car at all. You do have to appreciate shitty mechanical gas cars for your ability to actually fix them. I called Ford Roadside Assistance to get it towed 20 miles to the closest dealership that can fix the thing. (For free. Fuck Ford. Their shitty car broke again and they can pay to have it towed.) At least I bought a used Honda Civic a few months ago with 195,000 miles on it that can act as a spare. I swear that car will never die.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

More money down the drain. Hopefully it isn’t over $1,000 like last time. Oh yeah, I still need to pay $500 for a dorm deposit fee for the other step-kid…

A Pointless Car Trip

Before that? My dad stopped by to drop off food for some reason. Yes, we were going over to his house to mow in a few hours, but for some reason he felt the need to stop by and give us food and some tomato plants. We could’ve picked them up when we went to mow, but no. Once again, I have no idea why he did this — it doesn’t make sense — and seems to be a larger inconvenience than anything.

The Favor Dictator

While he was over all he did was act passive-aggressive the entire time. He said he had to “wait on me” and that he had “stuff to do” or something, once again proving my point that when I do someone a favor them seem to want to dictate the details. If I’m nice enough to mow your yard, maybe not be such a demanding ass all the time? I wake up around 11 or 12 and it still takes me at least 30 minutes to caffeinate and nicotine up to where I can function; apparently this is much to late for my dad’s liking. Nagging, but subtly, about me getting my ass in gear and getting his yard done despite him having no actual plans to attend to today. I can’t help that he wakes up early, is antsy, and really wants his yard mowed. If someone is doing you a favor, work with them a bit.

Phone Call Excerpt

“What are you guys having for dinner tonight?” he asked on the phone before he came over.

“I don’t know. We never have plans. I have no fucking idea what we’re going to have.”

Well, why not?

“I don’t know. I never cook the meals really.”

Well why not?! You need to help out around the house too. Does your wife need any more tomato seeds? Any tomato plants? Do you guys want some potatoes?”

“I don’t know. You should probably call and ask her; gardening is her hobby/project. It’d be like asking her about my solar panels or…”

Click. He hangs up on me.

Father Knows Best, Or, You Don’t Know A Fucking Thing

We had some fermented apple juice laying around today. About a half gallon, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Straight apple juice doesn’t really turn into a strong wine, so I opted to add a few cups of sugar to it to really get the alcohol content up to wine-like levels. I grabbed a funnel, measured a cup of sugar, and dumped it in.

Apparently this caused all the dissolved carbon dioxide in the juice to instantly fizz out, ala Mentos and Diet-Coke, causing an impromptu volcano of fermented apple juice to spray violently all over the table. I laughed — Wow I didn’t expect that! What a fucking mess! — and was overjoyed to have fucked up so badly and been surprised as much as I was. I had a moment of sheer childlike wonder that I rarely experience anymore. But apparently my dad and my mother-in-law didn’t appreciate the volcano of juice as much as I did. “Why didn’t you do that outside? What were you thinking? Clean that up now, quit watching it spill all over the floor and laughing about it.” Fuck, I didn’t take it outside because I didn’t expect it to blow the fuck up. Duh.

So I’m cleaning the table and my dad has to point out to me that I should lift up a few jars, cups, and cans and wipe under them. You see, as my dad explained, the juice can collect under the cups or whatever and you must lift them up to really clean everything up. “Goddamnit dad, I know how to clean a damn table off, holy shit.” I was really losing it about this time. I’m a thirty-year-old fully mostly functioning adult and it’s offensive that he thinks I can’t clean a table or something. Fuck off, man.

I went to add more sugar after I cleaned the mess up. More nagging. “You’re going to do that again?! Why don’t you take it outside this time?!”

“Goddamnit, dad, ALL THE CO2 DISSOLVED OUT ALREADY, IT WON’T FIZZ ANYMORE.” And it didn’t do anything dramatic when I added more sugar.

Phone Call Excerpt #2

“Where are the kids at?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Why not?! You should spend time with them.” 

“I’m writing right now. Trying to get a blog post out.” 

“*passive-aggressive sigh* Jer, you need to spend time with your kids. Take them to the park. Play with them.”

“I have a list of things I need to do. I’ll take them outside later.”

“*Sigh* Okay. Whatever.”

Towing the Car, Or, I Do Everything Wrong

The tow truck finally showed up to take the derelict car to the dealership. Yay, I could get that mess dealt with finally. I took the kids outside, a five and a four-year-old, to watch the guy put our car onto the flatbed tow truck. Kids are kids and love seeing new and unusual things and I knew they’d be interested in watching the car get loaded and towed away, and I wasn’t wrong. They didn’t know what was happening and I loved explaining what was going on and watching their wonder. When the man drove away, they ran to the end of the yard waving and smiling and the guy smiled and waved back. I knew that the two little curious kids totally made his day. Like he’d go home from work and tell his wife and kids about the two excited children he met today. Totally excited about his mundane job that he probably hates and gets little joy out of. It was cool and I felt good about it.

But apparently this was not the right course of action, at least to my wife. She was worried about the tacky clothes they dressed themselves in today, as if that matters at all to the tow truck guy dressed in his dingy work clothes. And apparently he had a cough so she was pissed the fuck off at me by having the kids outside around an obvious COVID-stricken person. We stayed more than ten feet away from him! The kids are scared of everything — loud trucks, strangers, big machinery — and they never went anywhere near him. Well, fuck me right? 8 p.m. on a dreary Saturday and I’m once again feeling that no matter what I do doesn’t seem to be right.

Mow my dad’s yard? Get shit on. Mow our yard? Get shit on. Car shits on me. Try to show the kids something new and exciting, and guess what? Yes, get shit on. I’m really feeling the bad vibes today and I’m sure after I make this ranting post I can get shit on for whining about getting shit on. I cannot wait. Oh well, there’s nothing else to do on the weekend besides piss time away, and this is serving its purpose nicely. Maybe Sunday will be a better day; at least I can drink on Sunday.

Streak Day #8 Sucks (and some stuff about tracking your mood)

I picked up my first supply of SSRI antidepressants yesterday and was surprised that the pharmacist actually talked to me about what I was picking up. I’m use to showing up and grabbing a bag of mild pain pills (like the 600 mg ibuprofens) or antibiotics and giving a firm “no” to the question of if I had any questions. No, no questions from me, thanks though. They’re antibiotics: take them until they’re all gone, diarrhea is a possible side effect, and whatever else. The same is true for those pointless 600 mg ibuprofens. Sure, I need a subscription to get them, but at the same time I could easily buy some of the 200 mg over-the-counter ibuprofens and take three instead of the recommended two. Oh what a dangerous rebel I am.

Yesterday I picked up some serious shit: meds that alter your brain chemistry and can fuck with all sorts of things. Apparently serotonin is in charge of numerous bodily and brain functions, so toying with its level can have some serious consequences. I don’t even recall all the possible side effects, they’re frightening though. Let me try. Sleeplessness, sleepiness, restlessness, nausea, dizziness, depression, possible suicidal thoughts (yikes!), among others. It doesn’t sound like a fun drug and I’m having a ton of anxiety about it.

Stupid thing that I’ve alluded to before: they take “at least a week” to have an effect. This is what I read somewhere on the internet at least and noted this to the pharmacist in an attempt to show him I wasn’t some ignorant fucker picking up pills. The pharmacist told me it would most likely take two weeks for me to notice anything, and four to six weeks for my body to really stabilize on the drug to where I would notice improvements. Even scarier is around the two week mark I should, might, possibly, go into a funk where “things might seem worse and you might think the drug isn’t working for you; this is normal so try to get through it.” What the fuck? You take an antidepressant and in two weeks your mood takes a total nose dive? Damn.

It feels like I have a ticking time bomb in my mind, and more so than usual. I’m always terrified about the next random crisis that will cause my mood to spiral downward, but this time I get a timeframe to expect it in! I don’t know how I feel about that — it’s nice to know I guess — but now I’m anxious about it. Maybe I’ll put it on my Google Calendar: “Crisis Starts? March 18, 2020”. The day after St. Patrick’s Day. Well, I’ve always hated that “holiday” anyways…

Let me digress for a bit. I’m a guy who loves his data, check this out:

I can also accurately see the price of fuel in the past, the number of miles each vehicle is driven in a month/year, and the total operating cost of each vehicle is. It’s useful as fuck.

I track our vehicles’ fuel mileage on a monthly basis. I also track a bunch of other random data that I think will be interesting/useful. Weekly bank/credit card balances, my weight, bike riding times/running times, and for some reason The Walking Dead viewers. Hell, I’ll post that below because it’s an interesting chart! Not that all of this data is inherently useful. It’s nice (and useful) to know our Dodge Caravan costs about 15 cents per mile to operate while our electric car costs a paltry 4 cents per mile, but besides the vehicle data it doesn’t really provide much insight. It’s still nice to have though.

The season 7 premiere is where we all found out who Negan killed. It was Glenn and this pissed nearly everyone off, Glenn being an all around good-guy with a loving wiafu and a baby on the way. As you can see the series really died after this.

That’s was quite the tangent, but it did have a purpose. A few years ago I thought it would be fun to attempt to quantify my mood. As multifaceted and complex as your mood is, I thought it would be interesting and perhaps insightful if I could plop a number to it twice a day. You know, a 1-10 scale of how I felt in general with 1 being borderline suicidal and 10 being like the happiest I had ever been.

One thing I learned from this not-very-good experiment was that actually writing your mood down twice a day and assigning it a number made me much more mindful of how I felt. After a week I think my mood even improved because I was aware of how I was feeling, and hence could change it. I guess I’m saying if you know your mood is a 2/10 you’re aware of it and not just feeling shitty in a passive manner. After a few weeks I was on a consistent streak of 7s and 8s.

On these drugs and struggling with the fact that my mood might crater in the next two week, I think I’ll start this process again so I can see how these things actually affect me. It’s such a pain in the ass trying to be objective about your mood over a few days, let alone months, and it seems a disservice to the doctor if I stroll on in there in a month and give vague answers about how the drug is affecting me. By keeping a spreadsheet with daily “mood values” I can look back as objectively as possible and give accurate answers. I also think I can objectively identify this impending two-week crisis and maybe stay mindful that it’s an expected thing and I shouldn’t let my mood drag my mood down. Or something like that.

Give it a shot if you want, I highly recommend tracking your mood and think even once daily would help you see your trends. Maybe you can pull yourself out of a funk if you notice it happening.

Depression #4,872 Sucks

I’ve been in a great mood so far in 2020. Until yesterday that is. It seems I can’t escape depression, and being happy makes me anxious because I know there will be some day in the future where it all comes crashing down. When I find myself happy I almost don’t want to be happy because I know it’ll end. And the happier I am the more violently depression brings me down.

In the first few hours of 2020 I was surprised how taking each day an hour or so at a time was uplifting. In the first hour I was happy, and in the second hour I was also happy. I woke up the next morning and realized that the past 12 hours had been good. And the next 12? Good. Why did I ever let my mood ever deteriorate? Life isn’t hard. Even when something bad would happen, like our van needing new brake pads, I wasn’t upset about it. I found myself facing the problem and fixing it. Sure, it wasn’t fun but it didn’t bring me down into the gutter either.

This is how 2020 was until yesterday. I made it two weeks. Wow! My mood went into a downward spiral. I don’t even want to elaborate on why I feel this way because mostly I’m just tired, exhausted, and don’t want to write about it. Partly I think it’s my own twisted mental perceptions that do this to me. It’s never other people that hurt me deliberately, it’s their harmless actions as perceived by me that screws me over. In one of these moods I’m certain of one thing: everyone really hates me. And if they don’t hate me, they’re at least indifferent about me and I almost don’t know which one is worse. Being hated or being invisible? At least you’re noticed if you’re hated.

In one of the moods where the world seems hollow and pointless I find myself closing up and living in my head. Writing naturally occurs more. At the end of the day where the world is total shit, what else is there to do but to keep busy? Focus on yourself. Sit on the computer and write about anything and hope that with the passage of time I might feel somewhat better. Take each moment as it comes. Distance myself from the past and maybe someday soon I’ll feel better.

I naturally want to write about what I feel; what the depression and anxiety feels like, but I don’t even know what to say. That’s the current state of my mind: I don’t even know what to say about anything. I already wrote a post on depression and anxiety, and I don’t think I have anything else to say that might have insight, be productive, or be useful in any way. (Now that I look, I don’t think I’ve made a dedicated post about depression, probably because there’s too much to say about it. Luckily most of my posts have a strong undercurrent of depression that’s always present so that’s cool, right?) That’s frustrating in its own right. When you feel awful, you naturally want to open up and talk to others or to express yourself, but what if you find yourself having nothing to express besides some dismal feeling of void and space. Of nothingness.

I’m mostly angry at myself for being this way. Do other people feel this way? Am I just bipolar? And not in a “lol, I’m so bipolar my mood is all over the place!” way, but the actual bipolar mental disorder (I’m leaning towards bipolar II I think). If other people’s moods do swing as dramatically as mine, they sure do a good job of at least hiding it. It makes it worse, thinking that while other people go through moods just like anyone naturally does, that my moods might be more extreme than most people’s. It’s terrifying, the idea that you’re fucked in a way most people aren’t. You’re unique in a terrible way. One day (or two weeks into the year apparently) I’ll be fine and the next something will totally destroy my mood to where I just want to find a corner, lay down, and cry. To where everything seems so bleak that I start to passively wonder if there’s a nice place to string a rope up. Not that I let that thought get very far, but it does pop up in these states all on its own. It’s like I feel things ten times stronger than other people, and it’s only a guess because I can’t know what’s going on in some people’s heads, but my moods feel extreme. With this comes the wonderful highs that I’m always suspicious of, and of course the terrible and dark lows.

And it’s me. It’s a problem with myself. It’s my overthinking, total lack of self-esteem brain where I feel, despite all outward signs, that everyone hates me. That I’m worthless. That no one sees me in the way that I see everyone else. People are magical and interesting and multi-faceted, flawed and gifted in so many ways that it’s amazing. And then there’s me. A blob. Just a scummy blob who is so bland and boring that if I were to disappear, no one would notice. After a week people might be like, “Where’s Jeremy at?” but besides that, nothing. I know this is the wrong mindset, and logically I know I’m wrong, but you can’t change these things. It seems to be a part of who I am, how my brain works. You can probably slightly change something with effort but I know I’ve said before the depressive mind isn’t one to exercise effort towards anything. Fuck, I haven’t even eaten today so how can I make a dedicated mental exercise of not feeling like shit? I’m just too tired to try. I drag out minute after minute in an exhausting effort to get to some point in the future where I’ll feel better.

I want to kill off this part of me, brutally murder it. This flawed part of me that always finds a negative and ruins my own view of myself. If I was literally two seperate people I’d find that bastard that degrades my life and shoot him in the face. But I can’t. It’s as part of me as anything other trait I have is. I get to carry him around forever, and despite maybe being able to learn to not listen to him as much, he’s still there finding flaws and signs everywhere that I’m worthless. And other people? Do they have this person inside their heads? Does their version yell as loudly and make as much sense as mine does? Does this internal voice dictate their lives robbing them of any and all enjoyment, self-confidence and happiness? Or is it just me? Or, being as positive as possible, is this some twisted gift that makes me unique?

Sorry for the rant. Hopefully something I wrote resonates with people.

New Year’s Resolutions (Don’t) Suck? An Update

Note: My last post tried something differenet and that one flopped pretty hard, so let’s continue, shall we?

What day is it? The 11th? Shit. I thought we’d be further in the year than we are. It feels like we’re two months into the year with all the bad shit that’s happening in the world. Oh well. Faced with a world seemingly falling apart into chaos all around you, the best thing you can do is to focus on your own well-being and happiness. After all, you can’t change, fix, or alter the world for the better if you yourself can’t seem to survive day-to-day life. Close up within, and focus on yourself.

Speaking of self-help, how are those resolutions going? Are y’all holding on okay? Or did you pick something stupidly silly and unrealistic that you’ve already failed your goals? I’m especially wondering about the gym rats this time of year. How’s the spontaneous gym membership you got on December 29th treating you? I only wonder this because health goals seem especially difficult to maintain, but I do hope everyone is doing fine with their goals.

I’m actually proud with myself and the resolutions I decided upon. I picked them to better myself (in a roundabout way I guess) and at first was fearing the challenges that faced me. But I’ve found my resolutions are snowballing into pure momentum to where they’re becoming actual habits and changes to my life. As time goes on they’re easier to accomplish than when I started. That is more than I realistically hoped for even if it’s what I actually wanted. I picked some great resolutions and I’m proud how much they’re improving my life.

To list them:

  1. Wake up “early” (I’ve decided on 10 a.m.)
  2. Give someone a compliment daily
  3. Read something daily
  4. Write something daily
  5. Drink only on Sunday
  6. 1,000 monthly blog views?
  7. (Self-)Publish two books
  8. Write a Morrowind Fanfic and post on Sunday

Wake Up Early

I want to start with the most basic resolution: wake up early. I had (it feels so nice to write ‘had’ instead of ‘have’) a terrible habit of staying awake until 3, 4, or even 5 a.m. usually scrolling through Reddit/Facebook or watching YouTube videos. Just totally pissing away time. This would cause me to sleep until noon leaving me with a paltry four hours of freetime before work. I didn’t get anything done. My time management was a fucking mess. I don’t even understand how I maintained this blog as well as I did. How was I realizing three productive hours a day out of 24? I woke a part-time job for fucks sake! The plan: wake up early.

Holy shit it’s been working wonders on me. I mean I still fall asleep around 2-4 a.m. but waking up at 10 gives me tons of time to actually be productive. I’ve had so much time, I usually wake up and play video games shamelessly for a few hours; this leaves me with nearly four hours of productive writing/blogging time full of motivation because I had already had my “freetime” playing video games. Sure, I’m only getting six hours of sleep a night but for some reason I feel more energetic and focused. Even at the end of the work day when I’m in a sleepy haze, I still feel happy about feeling that way. I feel like I exist and I don’t have any energy to overworry or feel anxious about things. I just watch people converse, and enjoy listening to them doing so.

I also think a key part of any successful resolution is to be kind to yourself. My daughter was up puking for a few hours last night and I didn’t get to sleep until 5 a.m. I made the conscious decision not to wake up at ten, but it was a logical and conscious decision. Do I feel like I’ve “failed” my resolution? Am I going to give up because I’ve messed up a singular day? No. It’s my resolution and I’ll do whatever I damn well please, even if it means continuing after I’ve “failed.”

Drink Only on Sunday

This one has been going well since the New Year even if it was hard to get into the habit of. It’s currently Saturday, and I hate the weekends. I really want to pound some beers now because I’m so bored and uninspired. But I can wait until tomorrow. I think drinking once a week is optimal for me: it gives me something to “look forward to” during the week and one day isn’t going to ruin my life with alcoholism. It’s the perfect medium and the only challenge is keeping to one day a week. I might be playing with fire here, but it’s working great two weeks into the year (yeah, wow, way to be hero). As with waking up early, my mood is pretty good following my plans.

Another example of “being flexible” or “not being hard on yourself:” I stopped by my mom’s house Wednesday to grab some money she owed me, and she offered me some beers. Her ex-boyfriend two years ago had left six Bud Lights at her house…did I want them? She didn’t drink shitty Bud Lights. Of course I wanted them! I took them and drank the damn things that night. Did I feel like I “failed?” No. I view it as a singular, special, one-time incident and I’m not going to worry about it…back to my plan. This is a little harder to justify as compared to the waking up early example from above, but once again you’re only really justifiable to yourself as long as you don’t abuse that power.

Give Daily Compliments

I’m also proud to say my entire grand plan for daily compliments has worked out perfectly. Everything I envisioned happening to me has happened; my mood is more positive, I look for things to compliment people on, and I’m being more open with giving compliments. Even 11 days into the year I’m more open with compliments than I ever have been. It’s amazing.

The best example so far was when I had my car window repaired. The lady at the service counter had these like inch-long multi-colored fingernails. You guys might realize what type of person I am, but if you can’t, I’m not the type of person to notice or compliment nails at all. I don’t think I’ve ever once consciously noticed fingernails unless they’re ridiculously long/gaudy and impossible to ignore. Anyways, I seen her amazingly fun nails and thought about telling her that I liked them. Ii hesitated for a second or two — was I really going to compliment some stranger’s fingernails? — then I just ran with it and owned the compliment. “I like your nails, they’re really fun,” I said. She smiled, said thanks, and mentioned how she had put them on for New Years and they’re were getting annoying to actually wear. It feels good to spread a little bit of happiness to people. And remember a single compliment is the minimum I need to do; if I want to dish out more compliments, go ahead!

I try not to make “exceptions” for this one because this is opening myself up to failure. Unlike other resolutions, I know if I skip a day or two here I’ll totally lose it. I’m aware I need to really work at this one, and is my most important one to continue.

Other Random Stuff

I have two books I’m working on and there’s no reason I can’t finish them this year. So that’s one. This blog also had about 700 views last month, so once again in the remaining year I should be able to hit 1,000; I just have to remain consistent. I ditched reading and writing everyday because I’m pretty consistent with writing. It’s not an everyday thing, but I’m not slacking as much as I used to. Waking up early has helped immensely with writing. Reading is strange because sometimes I just don’t want to read, and I think I could be putting too much stuff on my plate with that.

The other notable resolution is my promise to write a Morrowind Fanfiction story and post a new chapter on Wattpad every Sunday. I laid out my plan over on my other blog so check it out if you’re curious.

I know 11 days doesn’t really mean much in terms of yearly resolutions, but I’m feeling really good about mine. They’re already improving my life and I know the longer I keep them up the greater the effects will be. And if you have fucked up on your resolutions a few time? Who cares! Just get back on the wagon and back to them. You don’t have to admit defeat and you don’t have to quit because of a single fuck up. Remember, the only one you need to justify your actions to is yourself, and if you have a good reason for breaking a resolution, don’t be too hard on yourself. 2020 might suck so far, but let’s get those positive vibes out there and have a good year.

Changing Brakes Sucks: A DIY Guide

Our (shitty) Dodge Caravan has an awful sound coming from the right rear tire. It only happens when you push on the brakes and is a horrific grinding sound. I don’t even need to look to know what it is; the brake pad is totally gone and the metal that the pad is attached to is grinding the fuck up against the brake rotor. This isn’t good and if you go long enough without fixing the problem you can fuck the brake rotor up. And those things are a bit more expensive (and more of a hassle) to replace compared to brake pads.  Even if this wasn’t the case, any sane person would want to fix the brakes sooner rather than later just because it sounds so horrific. You almost don’t want to push on the brakes because of the dreaded sound it’ll make.

We also have an impending winter storm here in northern Illinois. Most forecasts say we’ll get nearly a foot of snow, or at least 8 inches, and that isn’t fun at all. I love to procrastinate as long as I can, but shit, the idea of changing brakes on Sunday or Monday after a foot of snow has fallen sounds terrible. It’ll probably be cold, windy, and all around uncomfortable. If you’ve ever worked on a car before you already know it’s uncomfortable enough: no need to make it worse by doing it in a snow drift.

Better get my ass outside and knock that out. I’ll write a brake changing guide for everyone so they can 1. understand how to change their own brakes and 2. understand the hell I went through.

Find the Correct Parts

First off, you need to find brake pads to actually install. Head down to an Autozone or Advance Auto Parts (or whatever auto parts store you have in your location) and tell them the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Pray to whatever higher power you believe in that the person serving you isn’t braindead and gives you the correct parts. It’s not fun to rip the car apart and then realize that the brake pads aren’t the correct ones. Better have a spare car available if that happens, otherwise you need to put the tire back on, exchange the wrong parts for the correct ones, and then try again if you still have any willpower left.

Bonus points if you can see your brakes through the rim. Take a new one out of the box and see if they’re at least vaguely similar. You can do this is the auto store parking lot.

Jack the Vehicle Up

Find a suitable location to put a jack under the car and bring the tire off the ground. Pray to God that your car isn’t so damn rusty that jacking the car up starts to crack the fucking metal.

Loosen the Lug Nuts

They’re probably so damn tight that you should’ve loosened them before jacking the vehicle off the ground. Shit.

Put Vehicle Back Down, NOW Loosen the Lug Nuts

Now we’re back on track with only a minor fuck up. Get a big fucking wrench or tire iron out and loosen those damn lug nuts. Don’t take them completely off because it having the wheel not attached is a bad idea, but break them loose.

Jack Vehicle Off the Ground (Again)

Just like before. You’re really good at this part now.

Kick the Shit Out of the Tire/Rim to Get It to Come off

If it’s been awhile since you’ve removed a tire (which is probably true if the brake pads are fucking non-existent) it’ll probably be somewhat rusted to the hub itself. So go to town on the thing and hope you don’t injure your foot by kicking it too violently, or have the car fall off the jack. You might have to get creative with the tire iron/pry bar to get it off. If using this technique, do not fuck up the brake caliper!

Look at Stuff

Take a look at the brake caliper and notice what silly design choices your automaker made when designing the car. Does the caliper itself swing up? If so you only need to remove a single bolt. Do you need to remove both bolts and remove the caliper entirely to get the pads? Whatever the case, take a good look, hate yourself and dread the bullshit you’re about to put yourself through.

Get Tools to Remove the Caliper

Take a guess about what you need to take the caliper off, find the tools, and try it. It won’t be the correct socket. Some are regular bolts, metric or imperial (yeah good luck!), some are Allen heads, and some fucking idiot that designed the Chevy Cavalier decided to use Torx Bolts. No fucking joke. This step will take like twenty minutes and I hope your toolbox is either portable/nearby and filled with everything imaginable.

Optional: Go Buy the Correct Tools

If you don’t stock Torx bits in your toolbox, good luck, because you’ll probably have to go buy a set just for this one job. Hope that the stores around you aren’t far away or closed.

Take Caliper Off

Once you get the caliper bolts off, you take the caliper off. As with everything involving cars this is easier said than done depending on what shit you need to deal with. Grab the pry bar/tire iron and start ripping away on the damn thing until it eventually comes off.

Remove and Examine the Brake Pads

Next, you take the old brake pads off. Depending on the design you might be able to take them out of clips or whatever while some are attached to the caliper itself. Dodge decided to attach the outer pad via clips that are nearly impossible to get off. You need to lift and pry on them at the same time which is just asking to get your knuckles busted on something. I think there’s a rule that states that you can’t work on a car without getting injured. It’s impossible.

Also take a look at how fucked up your old pads are and wonder why you never got around to being responsible and fixing the issue earlier.

Push the Caliper Piston Back On

If you have a newer vehicle you might be able to do this by hand, but probably not. Walk back to the toolbox and grab a c-clamp. Hope that it’s big enough. Hope the caliper is designed where a single c-clamp will work. If not, go find/buy another clamp or get creative. Cussing usually helps this step.

Remove Caliper Bolts

These bad boys are meant to float inside the caliper, so you need to lube them up before installing the new pads. You might be able to remove them by hand, but I’ve found I need to reattach the wrench to them and twist the bolts while pushing them out.

Clean the Damn Things and Grease Them

I hosed mine down with some WD-40 so they didn’t look like shit. After this, goop a fuckton of grease on them so they move properly like they’re supposed too. Put them back where you got them from on the caliper. This shouldn’t be too hard because of all the grease on them.

Put the New Pads On

Insert the new pads either into their holders/clips on the rotor or on the caliper. Fuck around with any bullshit clips that the manufacturer decided to have just to fuck your day up. Ponder the simplicity of the job in certain repair manuals that state “installation is the opposite of removal.”

Put the Caliper Back On

This is straight forward. The hardest part is trying to line the fucking thing up. You’ll probably find that it’s difficult to actually get everything back where you removed it from. Maybe hit some things with a hammer/tire iron to get it all installed? I don’t know. Cuss some more, drink another beer, etc. Whatever you need to get ‘er done. You’re almost there…

Tighten Caliper Bolts (But not Too Tight!)

Once again, fuck around trying to get the bolts back in their holes. If you did good on the previous step this might not be so bad. If you still don’t have things precisely lined up you’ll need to fuck around until the bolts actually find the holes.

Tighten them according to their specs, and if you don’t know the specs (like 99% of us) just tighten them to where you feel okay with driving the vehicle. You don’t want to get them too tight because then the next time you change brake pads you’ll find yourself hating your past self for being such a safety-minded, strong-armed asshole. You don’t want them to be too loose because then the caliper could probably fall off.

Put the Tire On

Self-explanatory. Fuck around trying to line the tire up with the hub bolts and all of that. Probably cuss. Cussing should be mandatory for each step here really…

Lug Nuts, Jack, Tighten Lugs

Jesus Christ, you’re almost done. Slap this shit together as quickly as you can so you can be done with it all.

Give Up and Don’t Even Attempt to do the Other Side

I’ve heard you’re supposed to change both sides at the same time, but fuck all of that. The right rear side was making that awful griding sound, I replaced those pads, so I’m fucking done. Who cares?

Drive the Car Wash Your Hands Put Your Tools Away

Put everything back exactly where you found them so when you do get around to doing the other side’s brakes you don’t have to fuck around with finding the tools. If you’re really feeling like a go-getter, maybe find a piece of paper and note what size/types of tools you need to complete the job. I’m not this type of person, but I can dream can’t I?

Wash Your Hands

Your hands are black and covered in supposedly carcinogenic brake dust, dirt, and grime, along with brake grease. Don’t even think about driving the car yet because you’ll make the steering wheel nasty. Walk inside and wash that shit. Take a good five minutes doing so because you’ll need to wash them like six times to get them remotely clean.

Test Drive the Car

Pump the brakes before you drive away! If you’ve pushed the caliper in really far you need to extend it before you drive otherwise you’ll hit the brakes and the car possibly won’t do anything like stop.

Take solace in how quiet the car truly is now. And if it isn’t? Well, another side has fucked up pads so hate your life, go buy more beer, drive off a bridge, or whatever else makes you feel better. If you’re feeling up to it, go buy more pads or set to work on the other side. If everything is okay, jack on the brakes a few times violently to make sure everything works like you need it to in an emergency.

Relax

Congratulations! You’re done! You were productive! You fixed a problem with your car! Try not to think how fundamentally changing the brakes is a 15 minute job and somehow it took you three hours to finish it. The second rule of working on cars is that nothing ever works out in your favor. But you got it done. Good job. Fuck cars.

Introspective Drinking Sucks

A few nights ago I was sitting on the steps outside drinking and was having a great time doing so. I got into my head and realized a few really important things that should’ve been obvious but due to the intricacies and difficulties of actually knowing yourself weren’t that obvious to me until I had a few drinks. I also thought it might be fun to list them as sort of a rough “to-do blog list” for 2020 because each one has quite a bit of baggage to unpack. In total I could probably write about seven blog posts about the topics below, especially the ones involving artistic expression and personal fulfillment, and the ones that struggle to ask, “Who am I? Really?” They are:

  1. I can’t comprehend that people actually care about me. More importantly I don’t know what causes me to be this way.
  2. I don’t know if flying or flight instructing is the correct career choice for me due to the lack of artistic expression.
  3. Artistic careers take a fuckton of effort, way more than I thought. Do I need to go all-in on artistic creation or can I do it as a hobby? To be a writer, do I need to ignore all other jobs/careers and write nonstop or can you forge a job out of a hobby?
  4. I doubt any possible success at an artistic career (like writing/blogging) because I believe I have no talent in it. Even knowing that inherent talent is bullshit — it’s all practice to be good at something — I still can’t get my brain to accept it. It’s the same as people caring about me: I know I have talent but something in my brain won’t accept it. And I don’t know why.
  5. Everything I do makes perfect sense to me for the most part. And everything anyone else does makes sense to them. People don’t act irrationally outside of a few exceptions that are probably like less than 1% of the human race. No one has anything to explain to anyone, and I’m included.

Phew. I don’t even want to elaborate on anything currently because they’re all headache inducing. I also have to state that when I realized these things I had a totally neutral state of mind; there was no depression or happiness or any emotional context to them; it was just me being totally honest with myself. But what I do want to elaborate on here is what got me to realize these things: alcohol.

The introspection that I’d gotten the other night is what mostly drives me to drink. The deep meditative state that you sometimes get. Sadly, and kinda proving my point here, is that this is a rare thing indeed: I’ve only achieved this state one other time while drinking that I can remember. One of the problems with alcohol being shitty is in how uncontrollable it is. I have no idea what mood I’ll be in when I actually get a few drinks in me.

A good example is tonight. My original plan was to have a few drinks and start pounding out blog posts/stories. It’s taken a total of seven drinks to get me to type this with the rest of the night being totally pissed away with me being distracted with random things like YouTube and video games, and this is how drinking always works. Some nights you piss hours away playing Kerbal Space Program. Some nights you set off drinking in a good mood and find yourself with crippling depression thinking about how you could possibly carry on with another day. Some days you get balls-deep into a six-pack and find that ideas come out of nowhere and you start on a marathon session of writing despite being exhausted. Some nights you believe a bike ride and a naked swim in the river is just the thing you need to do. Some days you sit on the porch and have deeply introspective thoughts that lead you to areas of your psyche that you never knew existed. The truth is you never know what you’re going to get and that is shitty indeed.

The 100th Blog Post Sucks: A Reflection (and something about Christmas I guess)

Let me complain…

I didn’t intend for this be posted on Christmas (or whatever the fuck you celebrate) but that’s what happened I guess, mostly because I actually have some free time to work on something. I’m also forced to post this next because it’s about the 100th post; I can’t post it where it’s the 102nd post because that would be dumb and wouldn’t make sense. Not that anyone would really notice but it would bother me.

I’m really proud of this. I was hit with inspiration a few days ago and when inspiration hits you need to run with it. Even if it is something really fucking stupid like this.

It’s surprising that I haven’t written anything about Christmas sucking yet, and I think I have a reason: Christmas sucks so damn much it’s too big of a project to tackle. It’s THE big, main holiday that is also awful in a way that no other holiday is awful. You have to buy gifts. You get to spend a shitton of money. You have to socialize. You have to see your family. You might have to travel. You have to deal with crowds. It’s cold out. Sometimes it’s snowy. And when you work at UPS it adds a whole extra layer of hell that few people can comprehend. The past month for me has been a total blur. I have no idea where I am or what I’m doing. Pure. Chaos.

So no Christmas post yet because it’s too massive and shitty to write about. But today is Christmas so I should probably say something, so Merry Christmas (or whatever the fuck you celebrate). And if you think there is a “War on Christmas” happening then have a big, fat HAPPY HOLIDAYS! I’m sending positive vibes to anyone who needs them, and I’m sure plenty of you do.

The Actual Post…

One thing I always have been proud of was the foresight to plop an “All Posts” button on the menu. Other blogs are a goddamn mess where you need to endlessly scroll to find posts without a nice and tidy place to see them all. I’m terrified of being lost or having an “unintuitive” webpage design, so tried to keep it nice. Also by having an “All Posts” page, I can quickly link to my past blog posts without searching through tons of bullshit to find them. Right click, copy address, link to it. It really is handy. And hopefully you realize how much I love my backlinks.

Another fun thing about this “All Posts” page is seeing all the posts I’ve actually written in a group together. Like fuck, I’ve really written that many blog posts? I know the WordPress “Posts” menu tells you how many you’ve posted, but this is just a number. Seeing a 98 is a lot different than seeing 98 links in a row with blog titles and all. It really hits home that you’ve written 98 blog posts and how many that really is. It’s surprising, especially since starting I’ve always been terrified of “running out of ideas,” like I would eventually write everything I wanted to write and be “done” with writing. I know it’s an unfounded fear, but it still lurks around in the back of my head like some ugly, terrifying, but totally fictitious demon. I know it’s there, I know it’s harmless, but it’s still scary.

I’m was surprised but not surprised to see this post from YouTuber Medhi Sagahhakagika (Yeah close enough) on his channel ElectroBOOM. You might’ve seen him before; he’s the guy who fucks around with electricity and shocks himself all the time. Seemingly an idiot, he is a very smart guy when you really dig deep into the videos; he really knows what he’s doing. Anyways, he posted this a few months ago:

Change “video” to “blog post” and you got it.

Apparently he suffers the same thing I, and probably most bloggers do, the post-posting depression! The fear you feel after posting something and being terrified that you have no other ideas to write about. Naturally, obviously, and realistically, and every other -ly you can think of, this fear is unfounded. We always come up with new shit to create inevitab-LY and there is nothing to be scared of. Hello demon, I still see you lurking back there and apparently everyone else has one too, even popular and successful YouTuber ElectroBOOM has one just like you. I guess it’s nice to know you’re not alone with your unfounded fears and anxieties.

And you have to realize the demon is full of shit if you’ve made it to the 100th post. Ya for me. Yay for persistence. Yay for sticking with it. Yay for blogging.

I think it’s fitting that I also wrote a bullshit stupid first post talking about how the first post, or anything you attempt, is going to be shit. I think this naturally frames the 100th post in a way to look back on the growth I’ve experienced as a writer. I think I have gotten better at writing, but I can’t explain why or how I know this clearly. It just seems like ideas flow a little easier, or that I’ve changed my clunky sentence structures from earlier into something slightly more graceful. Or that my language has become slightly more descriptive and colorful. The demon metaphor is a good example I guess although I was really proud of the “aluminum foil rubbed on your eardrum” line from this post. Or that I’ve began to use sentence fragments on purpose and not because I’m an idiot. Or that I start sentences with and, because, or, or so on purpose because it’s fun to do. Immediacy to the sentences. Stream of consciousness. Thoughts popping into your head. Yeah, like that.

As objectively as possible I’ve realized that writing is now easier. I post more frequently. I’m worrying less about what I’m writing and how people will receive it and just post it. I’m also more open with sharing my writings and thoughts with others; a year ago I wouldn’t dream of sending blog links to friends even if the topics were about something they would find interesting/relate to. This might be a side effect of actually having self-esteem, but with practice you also become better and stop giving as much of a shit as before. Starting off you think you might be writing some either amazing or terrible things and treat them accordingly. I view what I write as just another blog post amongst a literal hundred: some are better than others and some are shit, but I don’t think I have masterpieces or complete failures. Just another day at the ‘puter I guess.

I think to sum it all up: it’s nice to see yourself making progress. Writing, being one of the arts, usually involves painfully slow progress where you don’t even feel like you’re progressing at all. Post after post rolls on by and you think you still suck at what you’re trying to do. But after 100 posts maybe I have improved? I made it to 100 and that’s an achievement on it’s own, it’s progress in it’s own right, and even if I haven’t improved I still have something to show for the work.

So here’s to the next 100.