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2020 Sucked: A General Recap

This has been one of the worst years I’ve lived through. Looking back through my 34-years of existence I can’t seem to recall when so much shit went wrong in a single year. I’ve lived through the September 11th attacks in 2001 and even if that was some shit it was some isolated shit; the rest of the year was uneventful. Sure it spurred on the total shitshow ‘War on Terror,’ but that was spread out over a decade. I was around for the H1N1 outbreak, but that was nothing compared to this years COVID-19 pandemic. I can’t recall a single year where so much crazy shit happened despite desperately trying to find something — anything — to prove myself wrong.

Since the general consensus seems to agree with me and that 2020 was a remarkably bad year, I want to send it off properly. Write down all the notable bad shit that happened as a way to package it up and get rid of it. Let’s reminisce over this awful year, box it up, and send it off to the bottom of the ocean like a Viking burial would do.

The Near-War With Iran

I had all the hopes for 2020 and it started off just fine; it didn’t last long though. After only a week into the year we (The United States) decided to bomb/assassinate an Iranian General Dude. Supposedly he was a ‘terrorist’ although I don’t know or care to know whatever justification we had for the attack. All I cared about was the total shitshow that then ensued. Iran and the US we’re waving their dicks around threatening war and while we have the BeSt MiLiTaRy In ThE wOrLd! I really didn’t think the US should get involved with another Middle-Eastern conflict. Like can we not continually bomb people on the other side of the world even if they ‘deserve it’ in some twisted logical sense?

“Luckily” — and I say that with as much sarcasm as possible — Iran accidentally shot down a 737 passenger airliner with quite a bit of Canadians on it, and given their massive fuckup on killing hundreds of innocent civilians they promptly shut the fuck up about open war with the United States. Nothing much has happened with Iran since and the whole thing turned out be a scare; a scare that still killed a bunch of innocents people without open war. We should’ve been on our toes from that point on because 2020 was just getting started.

Australia On Fire

Decades ago at the beginning of 2020 social media and the news was filled with reports of the wildfires raging in Australia. I recall seeing New Zealanders posting pictures of eerily red skies caused by the smoke hundreds of miles away in Australia. Even worse, the Australian Government didn’t seem to give much of a damn about these fires, content to just let them do their thing like burn down the forests and peoples’ homes! (This was good foreshadowing for the US Government’s response to the COVID pandemic in retrospect.) As an American this didn’t personally effect me too much, but knowing that large parts of an entire continent were on fire didn’t feel very good. These problems will only get worse as we ignore climate change and this really doesn’t feel good at all.

But don’t worry, we’d have our own wildfires to deal with in just a few months! Be patient people.

Wildfires Electric Boogaloo: American Gender Reveal Version

By the time this happened most of the people I knew had adapted the 2020 is total bullshit outlook and we all looked on this event with detached hilarity. “Of course, why wouldn’t this happen? It’s 2020.” Basically California and other western states broke out in massive wildfires, giving a nice reference to the Australian ones earlier on in the year. Whoever is writing the 2020 plot sure likes to keep the same themes going. Making these fires even stupider was the fact that they were started by a gender reveal party gone wrong. Instead of announcing the gender of their kid, they lit the entire western United States on fire! Holy shit! At least the memes about this incident were hilarious.

Hurricane Footnotes

The Atlantic Hurricanes are named from a list picked before the year begins. This is why all storms have silly names like Katrina, Charles, Ivan, etc. What I didn’t know was that there’s a possibility to have more storms than names, which I was totally shocked by. One day I noticed topical storms and hurricanes were being named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and so on down the Greek Alphabet. What happened to the normal names we usually see? I did some research and, oh, we ran out of names in 2020. After Wilfred NOAA started naming them Greek Letters. Of course they did: it’s 2020.

So how active was the 2020 hurricane season? The most active in history, but only the seventh-most costly and active enough to use Greek names all the way down to Iota.

COVID-19

I saved the “best” part of 2020 for last…

2020 will be known hundreds of years in the future as “The Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic” in much the same way that 1918 instantly makes me think of “The Spanish Flu.” Through all the shit that has happened this year COVID-19 is the defining trait of 2020 for perfectly good reason. A flu that is 20 times deadlier than the seasonal flu. Highly contagious. Dangerous to elderly people and those with lung/immune system problems. Hundreds of thousands dead. A lackluster government response to the disease. And the thing still isn’t contained even in the last week of December.

It started simply enough with reports of some virus in China. No big deal: these things spring into the news cycle every year or so. I barely remember the H1N1 outbreak in whatever year it was and was mildly scared with the Ebola outbreak in Africa around 2006. Swine Flu? Mad Cow Disease? Meh. The big scary word pandemic? Same reaction as always: Meh. There’s nothing to worry about…

This time it wasn’t meh — there was something to worry about — and the entire world is facing the worst pandemic since 1919. It started slowly with a travel ban here and there, but before anyone knew it stores and restaurants were closed, everyone is wearing facemasks, and no one stands closer than six-feet. We hole-up in our homes and do nothing but watch Netflix, drink alcohol, and get fat. Many people were flat-out laid-off for an undetermined length of time from their jobs. And like that within a few short and dreadful months we’re living through a once-per-hundred-year pandemic and it’s a strange feeling. I think in a few years when it’s all over (and we now have a vaccine so maybe the light and the end of the tunnel is brighter than we imagine) maybe we can look back and reflect on the hellish uniqueness of the time we all lived through. At least we’ll have stories to tell our grandchildren if we don’t die in the next few months.

COVID-19 ruined everyone’s’ lives and I can’t think of a single person I know that is like, “Yeah, lockdown and quarantine: it’s a great time!” Stuck at home, unemployed, bored, dealing with social isolation; many people have crumbled under the change from the norm that we’re all used to. Giving up college and career plans, putting their lives on hold indefinitely. It gets worse; some have had those close to them die and how do you even talk about something like that? Some people have died from it, having their lives instantly cut short and once again, how do you even talk about something like that? In the US that number is around 300,000. 300,000 Americans aren’t here that were here less than a year ago. Each one was a person with a unique life, personality, and qualities to them. And now? Gone. That’s all: gone.

And I’m not even going to get into our government’s half-assed response to the whole pandemic. It’s 2020 and the word shitshow is once again applicable here. How many could’ve lived if this entire thing wasn’t politicized to no end? Even mask wearing was politicized and…let’s just move on.

Not As Bad As It Could’ve Been?

 I usually hate people who point something out along the line of, “It could’ve been worse!” or “Well, you still have your life!” or “Look on the bright side!” because they can just go fuck right off. If you get your car totaled by a drunk driver, yes you might still be alive, but that doesn’t mean you were ‘lucky’ or something. And you should have total justification to be pissed at the drunkard for how your car is now totaled. It’s still not a good situation!

But maybe idiots who say this about 2020 are right in a way. Things can be worse on earth, even in 2020, even if you do have to do some ridiculous thinking to see it. Murder hornets (thankfully) never made much of an appearance this summer. The strange monoliths didn’t summon aliens or anything. The Yellowstone Super Volcano is still dormant, even if I’m tempted to not mention it because 2020 isn’t quite over. Tsunamis, nuclear war, gamma ray bursts, and asteroids have all left the planet alone in the hell that was 2020, and we should be thankful for that. But damn, isn’t that a low bar to set? “Earth didn’t get hit by an asteroid or anything…boy, we’re lucky in 2020!”

This isn’t the be-all end-all recap of 2020, especially for me. Reflecting back on the year for myself: it wasn’t really that bad. Sure it was hell, but there was a lot of personal growth that might’ve not happened were it not for the total shitshow that 2020 was. I want to make a separate post about that because it definitely doesn’t fit here. Being slightly positive makes me feel like 2020 wasn’t as much of a wasted year as we like to think it was. If anything it was a hell of challenge where you might learn something important about life if you stick it out, do the best you can, and just survive. More on that later… Here’s a link to the next post about 2020: A Year of Personal Growth.

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

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Christmas (and The Holidays) Sucks

Hi everyone, Merry Christmas! Well, not quite I suppose. How about Merry Christmas Eve? Maybe that’ll work since we still have a day to go.

Our family used to open presents on Christmas Eve and this day feels more like the real Christmas than the day itself. We’d go out as a family — my immediate family as well as three or four aunts/uncles along with our Grandma and Grandpa — to those shitty family restaurants that only old people seem to visit regularly. We’d have a room to the side of the main dining area to ourselves and it would soon be filled with cigarette smoke (smoking inside was legal then; what quaint times). Our eyes would burn from the toxic atmosphere, not that we knew how toxic it actually was. We’d eat our pasta with tears in our eyes, excited to finish the dinner formalities to get on with the important part of the evening, at least that’s how it was for us kids.

From there on we’d head over to Grandma and Grandpa’s to open gifts. Cigarette smoke once again filled the air, our eyes watered, and us kids would escape to the bathroom or the bedrooms to get a reprieve from the burning in our eyes. We opened our gifts from youngest to oldest; I was second after my sister. I took great pride in sorting the gifts into piles for everyone, moving them with purpose from under the Christmas tree to the piles I placed them in. As time went on I fell back a couple of ranks as my cousin had kids, but didn’t pay it much mind. The adults would sit around quietly, making small-talk and alcohol-fueled jokes as they made sure the fuel for their jokes didn’t leave their systems. It was usually wine, the ‘classy drink’ (except for Uncle Tom who only drinks Budweisers) but sometimes bottles of stronger stuff made an appearance. We didn’t notice them much in our childhood excitement over our presents.

After our gifts were opened we’d start playing with them. One year I received a Nerf bow-and-arrow and took to sniping the Christmas cards dangling from the wooden ceiling beam separating the kitchen from the living room. For some reason Grandma and Grandpa hung their slew of Christmas cards from that beam and they made perfect targets. I was maybe seven, eight, or maybe nine and this was one of the few Christmases I actually remember. And maybe one of the last that I actually enjoyed.

There was no grand Christmas tragedy, no family falling-out, nothing to steal the childish joy of Christmas from me except the passage of time itself. I got older. I became jaded. I became cynical. I lost the naivety that is the definition of childhood itself. I didn’t care about the presents as much. There wasn’t anything exciting about opening gifts. Toys weren’t fun and I could only be mildly excited about a new video game or a music CD. Christmas turned into a way to get things I needed without buying them myself. Socks, new boots, new pants and clothes; these are the things I apathetically found myself asking for year after year.

And for some reason the season holds a sense of loss for me. It’s a dull sense of loss, once again no one passed away that instantly changed the quality of Christmas, but there’s that bitter undercurrent of inevitable change and loss. The cards aren’t hung up anymore, and their numbers have dwindled over the years. Us ex-kids would sit around, drink, and wonder where all of the magic went. We didn’t go out to eat or over to Grandma’s anymore. With each branch of the family expanding, most have broken off into their own manageable sections of families, holed-up in their own homes doing their own things, making their own traditions, living their own lives. To their kids this probably feels like the Christmases at Grandma’s did to me, and the inevitably of these breaking apart in decades is…I’m not sure of the right word here. Bittersweet? That still doesn’t feel like the right word though.

Does everyone eventually lose the childish joy of Christmas? I don’t think so. One of our kids, nearly 17-years-old, still has the joy of the season like a kid would. There is zero cynicism to how she feels about the holidays so there’s at least one person immune. Whether she or I am the exception, I don’t know.

Part of my apathy from the holidays is surely due to a few life choices I’ve made. A death-blow to Holiday spirits always seems to be working retail. I almost view it as an unwritten law of the universe that once you work retail you instantly lose your love for the holidays. The Holidays mean greedy people trying to find gifts for people they’re obligated to shop for: hundreds of people shopping, dealing with traffic, hunger, lines, and the other miserable denizens trying to fulfill their societal duty to buy shit. No one seems to like it, but it’s expected so we all play along. No one wants to be the guy who doesn’t buy their family gifts out of “principle” or some other high-minded bullshit.

I worked at Sam’s Club for a few years in the produce department — not in any way directly related to Christmas shopping — and the amount of people, and shit, I had to deal with at this time of year still increased. My hatred narrowed to those making their bullshit holiday meals and involved some self-pity for why I had to deal with them in the first place. Is this person really asking me about our cranberry stock? The endless looping of Christmas music didn’t help either; it’s is a form of torture that slowly kills your soul. I’m certain any fellow retail workers would share stories with me like war veterans share with each other. I was never happier at work than I would be on December 26th when the crowds of demanding assholes magically retreated from whence they came, where that happened to be.

And now? UPS and moving packages. I’m no longer relegated to the fringe sort of hell in a produce department during the holidays, I am in the shit. Our hub apparently sorts through 400,000 packages per night. While I personally interact with a tiny fraction of these packages watching the entire process is mind-blowing. 40 airplanes land and vomit their guts of cardboard and junk into the building. Through typical human grunt work these boxes are given over to miles of rubber belts and metal chutes which some massive computer programming commands, that which I’m not near capable of understanding. After that more human grunts load the packages into giant aluminum cans to be loaded into the planes. And the planes leave, delivering these 400,000 packages across the country within four or five hours after they arrived, finely sorted to deliver their cargo to wherever it needs to go. There are hundreds of extra cars in the parking lot along with hundreds, maybe thousands, of seasonal employees that are clueless to anything work-related or common sense-related. It’s all a window into how massive the holidays are and how large the machine I’m a cog in actually is. There is no doubt the importance of this time of year to our society as a whole. Sure, you buy a few hundred dollars worth of presents each year, but seeing them all en masse is both impressive and depressing at the same time. It’s the total power and wonder of capitalism with an undercurrent of excess, waste, and pointlessness. You really have to fight off severe nihilism working at UPS this time of year and it’s much easier to blindly work than to think too hard about the state of things.

I sound like a teenager who has just figured this out. No — I have nothing to crusade against — and am only writing some thoughts that have ceased to be pointed and acute years ago, but here they are. I view the whole holiday season with only one real response now: Meh? This might be the most saddening thing. Christmas has eroded from pure childhood joy, into to teenage angst at the ‘capitalism of it all,’ and now to a passive indifference to everything: I don’t care anymore. Really. About Christmas, and celebrations, and family gatherings, and whatever other bullshit we do during this time of year. And if you do care, I hope you have a Happy Holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice, or whatever it is that you celebrate. And I mean that sincerely. Hold onto joy and happiness and love and kinship in whatever way and form you find it, and please have no qualms about doing so. As for me, well, I seem to be a dead soul to all the celebrations around me. Don’t mourn me though. I’ll manage this hellish time of year somehow and will be back writing my bullshit soon enough. But please enjoy this time of year: do it for me.

Writing About “On Writing”: Lessons from Stephen King

Despite the previous post I wasn’t completely unproductive last week. I was able to read Stephen King’s On Writing which was one of my Sober September purchases. I’m not sure why I didn’t get around to reading it then. Better late than never, right? Anyways, as the title implies, the book is about writing. Duh. Since Stephen King is a pretty successful writer you’d expect him to have something insightful to say about the craft.

The book isn’t completely about writing as I soon discovered. The first section of the book is a rough autobiography of King’s childhood and early adulthood that shows how much he’s always loved writing and his struggle to get work published. King seems to have taken failure in stride by hanging up his rejected manuscripts on the wall of his room and kept pushing forward. Reading, writing, and submitting stories until his first major success Carrie was published.

The end of the book, like the beginning, isn’t directly about writing and covers King’s near-death from being hit by a car. (He says something like he was hit by a character right out of one of his stories.) At first this section seemed off and ham-fisted, but with his multiple surgeries and recovery he wasn’t able to write at all. King apparently writes for at least a few hours everyday so this whole incident really broke him from his habit. Towards the end of this section he struggles to pick up writing again and feels as awkward as him learning to walk again was. His writing is his joy and his life and the return to writing was another part of his recovery and he soon found himself finding his stride after losing it. It’s a great way to round off the whole arc of the book.

Okay, onto the on writing part of On Writing. It’s a great book and I sailed through it easily, a welcome break from The Wheel of Time series. Curiously King doesn’t give many clear and direct tips to write successfully; his entire philosophy seems to be to “read and write all the damn time” or at least as much as you can. Sure he shits all over adverbs and ‘the passive voice’ (something I’m still trying to work on. “I am writing this blog post,” as opposed to “The blog post is being written by me.”) while stressing good grammar, but these clear and direct tips are pretty sparse. In short he realizes that writing is a creative experience and it’s hard to offer ‘rules’ that successful writers break all the time. Like sure you can break grammar rules or use the passive voice for effect, but you better know damn well what you’re doing before you try it!

King also dunks all over a heavy reliance on plot and feels it’s too rigid to tell a good story. His idea is that stories are living things, and you start with the characters and a situation and see what happens when you let the story play out. It’s writing without an idea of where the story will go. He sees it this way: if you force a conclusion onto characters who don’t operate a certain way it’s obvious (“This character wouldn’t do this!”) and feels clunky. While I generally feel this to be great advice, especially for myself, I can see other writers taking the plot route and having it work out wonderfully for them. Think of Robert Jordan’s 13-book-series The Wheel of Time again. I don’t think he plopped some characters on a page and magically ended up with an entire 13-book-long series. It seems like he’d need to have a general plot lined out before writing such a massive series. But I don’t know that for fact so who knows.

As mentioned, the main takeaway from the book seems to be to read and write often. Make a habit or a chore out of it. Sit down everyday (or as frequently as you can) and fucking write. See what happens. Even if what you write is trash, well, at least you have something to show for it and you’ll only improve over time. Reading is just as important because that’s how you learn how to write better. Reading gives you ideas, styles, and techniques to use in your own writing; I totally stole semicolons from reading a bunch of Alan Watts. Sentence fragments and gut reactions? Thank you Hunter S. Thompson. By reading you discover what works and what doesn’t, especially regarding your own style of writing. You read a long, detailed, and boring description of a room that you hate? Don’t be overly descriptive in your own writings. Read a few pages of amazingly tense dialog? Put some intense dialog in your own stories. Dig in and do what you like to do. But the only way to realize this is to read and learn, write and try, and see if it works in your own writing.

After writing all of that I’m tempted to imposter syndrome myself into thinking I’m not really a writer. I don’t read as often as I should and I definitely don’t write as much or as freely as King says you have to to be a writer. Is this something you can learn or do you need to be a natural reader/writer from the time you’re a kid like King was as a child? Eh, have a little confidence, I was able to write this and it’s something, right?

I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in writing. The book mentions a ton of important things to improve your writing even if it is nebulous and generalized guidelines like WrItE eVeRy DaY! After reading the book I found I was  inspired to write, to get over the worry of writing and just sit down and write. To plop out whatever is in my mind and see what the mess looks like on paper. It’s like the entire book of On Writing is Stephen King being a hype-man for writers everywhere. Follow his advice. Read the damn book. And then hole yourself in a room and start writing!

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

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Double-Shifting Sucks: 2020 Edition

(Note: Excuse any formatting issues. I’m doing this all on the WordPress app.)

Here we go again: the Holiday Season of this wonderful year 2020 is upon us. We’re almost to the end of these terrible 365 days; just a few more weeks to suffer through! But before I personally get there I have to suffer through work and double-shifting once more. It’s the few weeks of the year where I can totally rob the company of basically free money and I have no incentive not to do so.

If this is sounding similar, it’s probably because this is mostly a copy/paste of my post from last year about double-shifting. I didn’t even want to complain about it a second (or third time) because I wasn’t sure if there’d be anything new to say that I haven’t before. It sucks and what else is there to say?

Walking into work seeing this doesn’t help either. You need not be an expert to know something is wrong here.

I reread the previous post and it was actually good! There was bitching, sure, but there was some hope underneath all the complaining. I found myself bored, reading books, and learning about the beauty of being bored. Buckling down and surviving day after day, week after week with nothing to do but exist. I felt if anything would turn me into a Buddhist Monk it would be being bored at UPS.

This year? No. No way. Hell no. It’s the opposite and is even more boring than last, even if I couldn’t imagine the possibility a year ago. This level of boredom is almost beyond comprehension and instead of teaching me some grand lesson about life it’s teaching me another thing about boredom; boredom is toxic, boredom is hell, boredom is a poison, boredom slowly but certainly destroys your soul. Sure, we all need time to rest, relax, and reflect but this is taking it way too far. Too much boredom is hell.

A few days ago on a three hour break I reflected on my state. My mental state wasn’t good, I was hungry, unmotivated, and tired. I even had to use the bathroom but was too lazy to do so. I was reminded of The Sims 2 and the ‘status bars’. If you’ve never played The Sims, these bars show how ‘healthy’ each of your character’s needs are, like the need to take a piss, or hunger, or comfort. As I thought about general human comfort broken down into these eight categories I imagined how mine would look if I was a Sim; they’d all be dangerously red. I had to pee, wasn’t comfortable, was hungry, wasn’t having fun, hadn’t had a shower in four days, and my environment was terrible; I was trying to nap in a Chevy passenger van at work.

I’d shop this to how I feel, but I’m too lazy.

The only bar that’d be green is ‘Social.’ Working silly long hours with some friends is a great way to bond and the humor and camaraderie is real. Apparently going through miserable shit with others is a great way to bond.

Here’s a real life example from a few days ago to really show how little we actually do and how pervasive the boredom is. We started at 11 a.m. We unloaded a plane around noon. We sat around until 3 p.m. and took a half hour lunch. We pulled about four containers out of the hub and drove them to another airplane. Then we sat around until 8 to load the same plane we loaded at noon. It’s like being in a different realm of existence working the same plane you unloaded eight hours earlier. The suns gone, the temperature is much colder, but you’re literally in the same place you were eight hours ago. It’s soul-crushing.

Occasionally we have twenty people loading a single plane which only requires about seven or eight. We (my four work buddies) sit in our van-home and watch everyone working outaide. Eight people standing around doing jack shit in the cold until a can eventually shows up. The other twelve or thirteen people are either in the airplane or sitting in their own van-home. There is no work we could possibly do unless we want to fight with the others trying to find the smallest crumb of work that we can.

One of these guys even talked to our supervisor about this. “How many people are in the van?” He asked. “Four,” she said. To which he passive-aggressively replied, “Wow, wish I could sit in the van all night. It’s cold standing around outside.”

Well no shit, that’s why we’re in the van. And if this guy sat in his van, then we’d get out and do some work because there’d actually be work to do.

The misery of boredom doesn’t stop there. It’s like the rest of my life has ceased to exist. Even with all the downtime at work I can’t use it effectively because I’m so bored and lethargic. Had I been able to channel my motivation I could’ve been doing quite a bit of writing or reading, but no, I nap and space out for hours on end. When I get home I have about two good hours to actually have a life or a hobby, but mindlessly playing video games is a great way to pass the time. Oh, toss a few beers in there to zap me out a bit as well. I wake up at 10 a.m., just enough time to make a pot of coffee and charge my phone and vape before I leave at 11 a.m.: repeat until this shitty season is over.

Pissing away time doing fuck all.

Boredom, like all things, begets itself. Depression makes you lethargic and unwilling to work towards happiness, anger keeps you chasing after anger instead of peace, and boredom loves to destroy your motivation to where you don’t want to do anything. Sitting in a van for three hours drifting off to sleep (and being paid $30/hr. to do so) puts you in a strange state. You want to work, you want to do something to pass the time, but you just can’t be bothered to get up because the van has become your home away from home and boy is it cold outside.

I feel like a coiled spring which is good. I can’t wait for this season to be over so I can enjoy life again. Sure, I bitch a lot about the “struggles” of my pretty comfy life, but this week is really putting things into perspective for me. I work a decent paying part-time job that has free health benefits. I have all the time in the day to actually do the things I want, be it writing, reading, video games, or drinking around with my silly science experiments. Some people aren’t this lucky where their reality year round is working a ton of hours at a job with zero time or willpower to do anything like a hobby. With this newfound appreciation for how great I have it compared to people who live this life year round I can’t wait to get back to my hobbies. Maybe it’s just the type of mindset I need to kick of 2021.

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

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

The DSM-V Sucks: Self-Diagnosis?

I’m sure a bunch of people are the same as me. You think you’re fucked up in the head and start Googling what the hell your problem is. Do I have chronic depression? Am I bipolar? For fuck sake, do I have borderline personality disorder? This inevitably leads to the Wikipedia page of said symptom which also inevitably leads to you reading something like “[disorder] is recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a personality disorder” and if you obsessively do this enough you’ll notice every psychological issue in the world’s Wikipedia entry mentions the DSM-V, whatever the fuck that is.

But Wikipedia is full of links so if you obsessively read psychological issues you’ll also inevitably click the DSM link and already know what it is. If you don’t, it’s the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic Manual for mental issues. Were talking anxiety, depression, substance abuse, mental disorders, and anything else you can think of. I see it as like a Bible of disorders/mental issues and also seemed like a book that would be a good reference to have on hand. I’m a huge fan of general use reference books such as this and it has the same appeal to me that a good set of socket wrenches or a multimeter has; you never know when you’ll need it!

Having the DSM-V is a dangerous thing though. It’s almost like an IRL Necronomicon as much as it’s the psychologist’s Bible where you have a bunch of dangerous information at your grasp that you’re probably too uneducated to properly use. Myself included because I have no fucking clue how a psychologist would actually use the damn thing. Do they reference it? Do they need to follow the clear steps for diagnoses or is it like a guideline? And what the hell are all the codes for?

Luckily I’m not too much of a dumbass to know that you’re not suppose to diagnose yourself or others with your own Amazon copy of the DSM-V. I’m not a trained psychologist or anything so know I can’t use the book to pretend to be one. But it’s a fucking pandora’s box of mental disorders and it’s impossible to read anything and not have the temptation to diagnose other people or especially yourself! It’s like the mental equivalent of looking up physical symptoms on WebMD. “Oh, I have a cough, shortness of breath, and…holy shit! I could have cancer? Fuck. Me.

(Fun Fact of Funness: Amazon obviously has copies of the DSM-V, but since it’s a textbook you’re going to be price-gouged like you’d expect. I originally found copies for over $100 which I wasn’t going to buy. But somehow, for some reason, I found this copy of it. Sure, it says “unknown binding” which sounds risky, but fuck, it’s a legit book! I was worried it would be loose-leaf pages or something, maybe a .pdf on a mini-SD card, but no, it’s a real soft-cover textbook. So if you want to buy your own copy of this book for 30% the cost of the “real”(hard-cover) version, click that fucking link. No I don’t get money for recommending this, it’s just such a good deal to be nearly unbelievable.)

Sadly I’m smart enough to buy it, think I know the proper use of it, believe I won’t misuse it, and whoops, pandora’s box is open and I’m wondering what disorders I and everyone else around me has.

Personality Disorders and Such

The DSM lists ten personality disorders. It’s tempting to think everyone has a disorder, but the whole idea behind a disorder is that it isn’t normal and is a hindrance to some degree in everyday life. Personality disorders aren’t like your zodiac sign or you Meier/Briggs personality type; you might not have one at all.

(Note about things being ‘normal.’ There is some controversy as to what a disorder is because it’s based off some nebulous idea of “normalcy.” Who’s to say what’s normal and what isn’t? Obviously some disorders are more ‘crazy’ than others, but where would you draw the line between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’? What seperates a disorder from a person simply being unique?)

That’s the first problem to solve: do I even have a personality disorder? To me, something seems off, but I’m not a psychologist and I only know myself so it’s impossible to gauge whether or not I’m ‘normal’ or if I have a disorder. Like I said, it’s not a good idea to diagnose yourself, but just for shits and giggles I wanted to take an educated guess at what disorders I could have.

There are ten personality disorders in the DSM-V. Just to rattle off a few: borderline, histrionic, obsessive-compulsive, antisocial, dependent, avoidant, and let’s not forget everyone’s favorite disorder narcissistic personality disorder!

It’s interesting to discover that I show signs of nearly all the ten disorders. None seem clear enough that I can label myself with one but each one has traits that seem fitting. I have the selfishness of someone with narcissistic personality disorder, but seem to lack the lack of empathy and powerful ego that is characteristic of the disorder. Everyone has a little bit of paranoia floating around in their minds, and the same is true for me, but this probably doesn’t mean I have paranoid personality disorder. The mood swings I seem to have sound terrifyingly similar to borderline disorder, but lack the angry outbursts and unstable relationships that categorize those with borderline. I can’t make my own decisions very well, and this sounds like someone who could have dependent personality disorder, but probably not because I don’t fit the rest of the traits. Oh, and the need to be in control like those with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (not to be confused with the stock OCD), but once more I lack the rest of the symptoms or traits to actually be diagnosed with it.

Around this time I’m starting to feel even more fucked up, wondering if I’m a borderline/narcissist/antisocial and a few other terrifying ones. You can have more than one disorder! Strangely, I’m also wondering if I don’t have any actual disorders and, holy hell, what if I’m normal! Somehow that seems worse in a way. Like none of the drama that plays out in my mind is special or notable because it’s just typical life bullshit that everyone experiences and that maybe I’m blowing it all out of proportion. And this sounds like something a narcissist would say…

Then I stumbled upon one of the lesser known and “boring” personality disorders: avoidant personality disorder. I’d never heard of it before. But reading the traits gave me that horrible sinking feeling that things were a bit too truthful and were hitting a bit close to home. Sure, I read about narcissistic personality disorder and found a few things that sounded like me, but the rest were a stretch. But APD? Holy fuck. I seemed to have nearly all the traits of that disorder. These people avoid others unless they’re certain they are liked. These people are very insecure and have fragile egos and don’t take criticism well. They’re needy and always searching for approval  I read towards the end of the section and then shut the book. My adventure of reading about personality disorders was taking a turn for the worst. Here I was reading about disorders and fantasizing about what it would be like to have them, wondering what people I know (if any) might have them, but reading about APD took me out of mild curiosity into serious self-introspection. It was like I was reading a person critique about my personality. I stopped reading, laughed, closed the book, and said, “Oh, wow. That’s enough of the DSM for tonight. Yikes…”

I’ll probably write about possibly having avoidant personality disorder sometime soon because there’s a lot to unpack here. It sounds so close to who I am and how I feel and it’s like another layer of the proverbial onion has been exposed. But until then, maybe use some caution when you bust open your own personal copy of the DSM-V for ‘casual reading’ purposes. Things can get a bit dark and too real when you least expect it. But still it’s a good reference to have on hand and I highly recommend it.

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Where Did the Sun Go?

Last Monday, Labor Day, was a beautiful day. I was running low on vape juice and pods, and went to the local vape shop to buy some more. I even made it to Hobby Lobby to buy some glue for a model rocket that I’m building. It was a gorgeous day and seemed to be the idyllic late-summer day with the temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s and comfortable humidity. It was a nice change after the prior week with heat indexes nearing 100 degrees, a perfect day to have off work as well.

But looking back I realize this was the last time I had seen the sun. Seriously. Over the past week I haven’t caught a glimpse of the nearest star to us, the one that supports nearly all life on earth. In a way it feels like I’ve been cut off from the very thing that gives me energy to live. Literally.

I kinda miss it too. On Labor Day, after the hellishly sunny and hot month of August, I was looking forward to one of those dreary, rainy, and lethargic days. I was sick of the heat, the humidity, and the dead brown yards throughout the city. I was sick of driving around in our Honda Civic with AC that barely worked while the Focus was being repaired. I was sick of being cooped up inside because it was too miserable to be outside longer than it took to grab the mail. I work outside as well and this is it’s own special hell in the summer. To hell with it all, fuck summer, and could we please have some rain just to change things up a bit?

Be careful what you wish for.

My job assignment last week was my least favorite job, but somehow I was able to weasel my way out of it. I was put on one of my favorite jobs: driving the cargo loader, the big machine that lifts/lowers containers of packages out/into large cargo aircraft. I like the job because it’s one of the most important jobs at UPS. If you’re terrible at it, everyone hates you and talks shit about you, and you can even cause the planes to depart late if you’re incompetent enough. The opposite is also true; if you’re good at operating the loader you become somewhat of a workplace hero. Other loader operators watch how you do your job, and I’ve picked up on my coworkers doing some of the same things I do. Not that people worship you or anything, it’s just nice to see your skills rub off on others and know that you’re good enough at your job to be relied and dependent upon. As a one-man job operating the cargo loader has quite a bit of responsibility, but is very fulfilling knowing how important your skill is to the operation in general.

One of these. Source.

Kinda a rant there, sorry. The loader operator also stands outside in whatever weather is going on, as you can see above. In the summer you sweat and are miserable and in the winter two pairs of gloves and socks can’t stop your extremities from going numb. The wind throws rain, sleet, and snow into your face while ripping your skin off in subzero temperatures. But when the weather is pleasant, like on Labor Day, it’s a wonderful time where you get to stand outside, enjoy the weather, and do nothing physical besides move some joysticks and hit a few buttons.

Last week? Rain. Rain every fucking day. And I couldn’t complain about it either because I weaseled my way out of a hated job into a better one. You can’t reneg on a deal and I made sure to see the week through despite the terrible weather. Tuesday was rainy but not too bad. Wednesday didn’t have too much rain, only a wind-driven mist, but I wore a t-shirt like an idiot with temps in the 50s; I froze my ass off. More wind and rain Thursday but at least I wore a flannel while Friday only had drizzle here and there. I just find it interesting how shitty my luck is sometimes, and how I somehow bring it upon myself.

Saturday was also dreary, although it didn’t rain. I’m still struggling with sleep (it’s 4:05 a.m currently and I pounded down an Alka Seltzer and a melatonin a half-hour ago, to no avail) and wake up around 2 p.m. feeling fucking dead. Groggy, sleepy, unmotivated, and the view out of the window never helps. The ambient light level looks more like 7 p.m. than 2 p.m. This has been my past week: wake up at 2 p.m. feeling like a zombie despite sleeping for 9 hours, walking through tiny puddles on the way to my car at 3:30, lethargically driving with my eyes half-closed trying to decide what to listen too (upbeat music or something more lethargic?), drifting towards the timeclock, answering “Ehhh?” when my supervisor asks me how I’m doing, and standing out in the rain while I move some joysticks and smash some buttons during an airplane unload. Feeling my pants slowly become soaked by the rain and wind. Unmotivated to write or to read or do anything but also wanting to do something to pass the hours at work. Luckily when the sun does set you aren’t aware that it’s still fucking cloudy out.

According to the WeatherBug app, tomorrow (today I suppose) will be ‘partly sunny’ (is there a difference between partly sunny and partly cloudy?) with temps in the mid-70s. Not sure about the wind because no one cares about the wind. It sounds like it’ll be a beautiful day and I think I’m going to sit outside and bask in the sunlight, at least for a few minutes until I get bored and lurk back inside to play video games, post this, or whatever.

And holy shit, look at this:

THERE IT IS!

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

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

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