I got my COVID test last wednesday, May 20th. They told me it would take 5-7 days for me to get my results. The earliest I could expect them was monday, but since that was a holiday I was counting more on tuesday or wednesday of this week. I awoke tuesday and hopefully looked at my phone: nothing. No missed calls, no emails, nothing. And the mailbox also had a pile of junk mail that only got my hopes up. Bills, junk, advertisements, an Amazon package, but that was it. The same story happened wednesday although I did finally get my vape juice and pods in. That was the one highlight of my day and something I could be happy about. Maybe things were starting to look up.
Today, thursday, and nothing. It was the seventh day, or eighth if you want to count Memorial Day as an actual day, and knew I had to do something. Everyone knows testing still is a fucking joke and I was dreading not being able to find out anything. Then what? What do I do with no results at all? If I was totally lost in the system?
Let me digress a bit. I discovered my uncle was also tested last week and got his results friday, after only a few days, so I knew I should’ve heard something. Even worse is they called him. Where the hell was my call? I could’ve been back to work making money and having a routine but I’d been patiently waiting for a call. I didn’t want to be a bother. I’m sure the health department is swamped and didn’t want to be a demanding pain in the ass when there are plenty of them already in the world.
So I had to do something today. I called the clinic that was listed on the paper. After playing “push 1 for english, press 2 for our COVID hotline, for [whatever] press…” for about five minutes I finally talked to a fellow human. She said to call the Winnebago County Health Department and gave me their number. I didn’t have a pen and I’m proud to say I memorized the number on the spot. 815-720-4000 if you’d like to call them for some reason.
So I called the health department to be greeted by more number pushing. “If this is a medical emergency, call ‘911’ immediately. If you feel you maybe have COVID or have symptoms of COVID, please call your primary medical provider…” I eventually ended up on a recording requesting me to leave a message. What? So I hung up and tried again. I expected to get the same spiel all over again, had my phone on speaker sitting on the couch ready for disappointment, when a real human said “COVID hotline, how can I help you?” Oh shit. I grabbed the phone, turned off the speaker, and started my request.
My test was negative. Duh. I probably had a cold and overreacted. “Could I have an email to confirm that though? Just in case work needs it?”
“Sure, send an email here: ‘c’ as in ‘cat’, ‘d’ as in ‘dog’, reporting…at…”
I texted my friend/boss and told him my test was negative and followed that up with my request: CAN I COME BACK TO WORK NOW?!
“Yes, please,” was the reply. Thank God.
And then more anxiety. More dreading. I was gone for a week and what would people say? What would people ask? Would I have to explain myself or redeem myself for being off work for over a week? No, probably not. Think if one of your fellow coworkers took off for a week unexpectedly; you probably wouldn’t miss them much. Everyone does their own thing — you included — and most people really don’t give two fucks if you’re at work or not. I don’t know why I’m so anxious over every single thing that happens in life. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten into a new routine of being miserable and bored just trying to piss time away as quickly as possible. So that routine’s over and I have a new routine, the same routine I had over a week ago but which I’ve forgotten already. I’ll have to socialize. I’ll have to function. I’ll have to be productive. And as much as I dread it I know it’ll be fine. As soon as I pull into the parking lot it’ll feel like I was never off. So what the fuck am I worrying about?
And that’s it: I’m going back to work. Yay?! It’ll be nice to have a purpose again that isn’t decided by me. It’s a pain when you have too much free time because you have to decide what to do. That’s a hard decision indeed and usually leads to total indecisiveness. That’ll be nice to sidestep a little bit, but for now I have two more hours until I must leave. What to do with that time?
This is part of my effort at getting my life to have some direction. To be honest, writing always makes me feel better, even if it is kinda pointless and directionless like journaling is. There’s nothing to show for it publically so that doesn’t feel useful in terms of blogging or stories, or whatever, but it does seem to help.
It’s fun to look back at old posts where I basically say “if you’re depressed, just think of better times that will surely come and keep busy,” as if keeping busy is really easy to do when depressed. Being depressed makes you feel everything is pointless, and what’s the point of doing everything if it’s pointless.
That’s the mood I’m in today, but my mood is improving. Currently I’m at the point knowing that progress is progress and you have to move forward somehow because there is basically nothing else to do. Yes, life is total shit, but what else is there to do besides move forward? The other option seems to be wallowing and giving in to the pointlessness, and that seems more pointless than pointlessly trying to move forward.
So moving forward today is what I’ve been doing. Or trying to do at least. At 4 p.m. I told myself I was going to head to the store to buy supplies to change the oil. Why not? My plan was to change it once a year with fully synthetic oil and when checking the last oil change discovered it was May 28th of last year, nearly a year to the day. I wondered if last May was just as shitty where I decided to change the oil just to have something to do. There were other things to do as well: mow the yard, change the brakes in the Civic, and clean up the basement, but maybe one thing is enough to show for my current COVIDployment. I’m going to get this blog post out as well, another tiny victory to show that I’m trying to pick up the pieces and move forward somehow.
One problem with changing the oil: it’s not the most fulfilling sign of progress. It’s not something that makes you proud or anything. I finished the oil change and kinda shrugged and went back into the house to write this post.
Today is my third day without beer, and before that I drank nearly a 15-pack of cheap gas station beer everyday for a week. It’s the worst binge drinking period I’ve ever had. It’s funny how you can do so good for so long — basically having a six-pack every Sunday for four months — and then instantly spiral out of control when something goes awry in life. This is probably why it’s easier to accept either alcoholism or sobriety and not perpetually straddle the fence between the two extremes.
Obviously, I’ve felt like shit the past three days, but today I almost feel normal. Like maybe everything isn’t falling apart, that I’m not about to die of delirium tremens (apparently you need to drink at least a month straight to have life-threatening withdrawal from alcohol), and that maybe I won’t lose my job by being off work for more than a week. And even if everything does crash around me that maybe I’ll get by just fine. It might take awhile, but in the end maybe, just maybe, I’ve got this.
I’m really stressing out about work as it was my anchor while sailing the strange seas of the COVID pandemic. I’ve said before I was glad I still had a job and that nothing had changed for me, but here I am. I was only sick for a few days and now feel I overreacted about possibly having COVID and only want to feel that I did the right thing by being tested. I didn’t show up to work diseased and take half my crew out of work or anything, but I can’t help but feel like a slacker, like I somehow subconsciously gamed the system, and took advantage of the situation; at the first sign of sickness I run and get a COVID test and delete myself from work for reasons that even I’m not consciously aware of. Or maybe I didn’t and I did do what made sense at the time, even if I did overreact and I only had a temporary cold. Luckily, I also think I don’t have Lyme Disease so that’s good, right?
And maybe it had to happen, me really stuck with no direction forward faced with sitting at home while my friends and coworkers bust their asses out in the heat, humidity, and thunderstorms. Maybe I did need a break from it all, some time where I’d be forced to deal with boredom, anxiety, alcoholism, writing, reflecting, and home issues where I didn’t have a work distraction to keep busy with daily. Despite this, I still feel like a goddamn loser slacker.
I’m waiting again, waiting to hear some news about my test, a phone call, an email, a letter: something. So I can get back to my routine which I miss apparently. I like feeling useful and having a schedule. I like a purpose. I’m waiting to hear about my car that’s been at the dealership for a week and a half with no news at all. Hell, I’m waiting for my vape juice to show up in the mail, if that shows how desperate I am for something, anything, that I can be happy about. Something that shows that life is moving forward, that there’s progress somewhere. Well, I wrote this blog post, so that’s some progress I guess.
Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.
What to say about my weekend? Yes, it’s Friday — the weekend was literally like 5 days ago (or tomorrow) — but I’m still thinking about it. Processing it. Trying to figure out what it all meant. Not that it really means anything, but how do I think about it in a way to extract meaning, personal meaning, for myself?
I had quite a bit of emotional conflict on Route 2 between Rockford (where I live) and Sterling/Rock Falls where my wife and I would get on interstate 88 to continue on to Davenport, Iowa. I love helping people and I was on my way to help my sister move out of her soon-to-be-ex-wife’s home, but I didn’t feel good about it at all. Sure I was helping, but in this situation I didn’t want to help at all. The greater good in the world wasn’t being served by this and I hoped and wished that this never actually occurred. Why couldn’t they just work out? Why couldn’t she find True Love and just Be Happy?
I was sleep deprived and feeling really anxious about life in general. Total discomfort in the first twenty minutes of the two-hour drive. I wanted the day to be over, the adventure to be over, but it was just starting. I was on my way to help my sister move, and then I’d have to pull off another two-hour drive to get back home.
And what is it with adventure anyways? I always think I want adventure, some grand quest to go on, but whenever I find myself outside of my usual routine and comfort zone I become really uncomfortable. Maybe one of my values is daily routine where I have a safe zone to operate in, comfort, and even if I gripe about being bored, maybe boredom is where I truly belong. Maybe I’m not the adventuring sort after all.
I forced myself to slip into some faux-Buddhist mindset where I was accepting of the present. All discomfort comes from either focusing on the past or looking forward to the future, and I was totally looking forward to the future. I wanted to be home, to be bored, to play Dark Souls, to do nothing with my day, to be a total loser/failure, and outside of this I felt uncomfortable. I just wanted the day to be over, I thought at 10:30 a.m., barely a quarter of the way to Davenport. But I summoned some sort of acceptance of the situation, some semblance of comfort that, yes, this too shall pass. Before I knew it I’d be back at home with The Mission Accomplished and able to feel comfortable and safe. The present is hopelessly temporary and while this is bittersweet in regards to happiness it offers immense benefit when it comes to uncomfortable situations. I pressed on with the drive and tried not to think about the long day ahead of me.
Time passes in a strange way when you’re driving. It seems like time doesn’t move at all, but before you know it you’ve driven hundreds of miles over countless hours and you find yourself in the future. You’ve arrived. Through days and weeks and seemingly years of driving with time at a standstill it jumps forward and you find yourself there in the future which is the present.
She had all of her at her apartment and ready to be unloaded. It would be an easy assignment hauling her stuff up two floors which contrasted nicely with moving my mother’s literal truckloads of shit three times in two years. This wouldn’t be difficult at all. So we set out hauling boxes and furniture the short way up to her new apartment.
When that was done, we went and picked up a few tables from a local family. They were nice enough, and there isn’t much to say about that. Then we went to Target, my sister being focused on trying to figure out all the tiny and forgettable items that are essential to living on your own. Things you forget about until you notice you don’t have them. Trash bags, trash cans, toilet paper, brooms, soap, mops, and other items like that.
And then that was over. I agreed to take my sister’s cat from the house as she could only have one cat at the apartment. One issue here: we’d have to go back to her old house where her ex-wife/current-wife/whatever you want to call her and that sent my anxiety into overdrive. I hate awkward situations and I don’t know anything much more awkward than that. And it got worse! We turned the corner on the street the house was on, and her ex-wife’s girlfriend and two kids were also there. I started nervously laughing and saying, “Oh nooo, oh noo! Oh geez…Awkward. This is going to be so awkward,” as some form to cope with the situation.
I hopped out of the moving van and walked behind the van to procrastinate a few more seconds before the inevitable awkward encounter that was about to take place. And…and probably because I was terribly nervous I don’t remember much.
My sister went inside the house while her wife was kinda a bitch about finally getting her shit and moving out. Her new girlfriend stood awkwardly outside while her kids acted stupid and loud like all kids do, totally aware of how fucked up the situation actually was. The ignorance of childhood: how everything is perfectly normal and fine. Nothing is strange, unusual or horrible. Just another day: mom moving in with some new girl she met and is in love with. No thoughts about how my sister’s life has been totally fucked up, her spirits crushed, and how everything is falling apart for her. Who is this girl who is sulking around, what is her story? I feel bad for those two children.
Everything was mostly civil besides the hositility my sister’s ex showed towards her. She was going to charge my sister for everyday that she was still there despite legally not being able to do so: they both legally own the house and are still married. And how if my sister didn’t give the keys to her she’d charge her until she gave the keys back, once again with no legal ability or leverage to do so. Just trying to kick my passive sister around some more. Just being a dick for some reason that isn’t clear to myself or my sister or my wife.
And those were some bad vibes to deal with. Seriously. I don’t understand how you can love someone, get married, buy a home, spend years together, and act so cold towards them. Let’s be clear here too: my sister did not cheat. She didn’t do anything obviously wrong. Her wife found someone else and is the one who fucked up. She is the cheater. Look, I understand people’s feelings can change and that maybe you can fall out of love with someone, but there seems like there still should be some decency or appreciation of the other person to not treat them worse than you’d treat a stranger. I think that’s what I struggle with the most here, how someone can disregard another human being in such a dramatic manner. No kindness, no honor, no love, no appreciation, just a total coldness that you’d treat a stray dog with.
On the way home I struggled with these thoughts. My wife demonized the ex as being a total selfish bitch, or other perfectly fine things to call someone who had done these things. But something still seemed off to me. I really think people act in ways they think are correct and that no one is evil for the sake of being evil. Selfish maybe, but not evil. In everyone’s mind I think they’re always trying to do the right thing for them and even if people do get stepped on, they’re still trying to do good or something. Despite her action, my sister’s ex, in her mind, seriously thinks she’s doing the right thing for herself. But what are those reasons? I tried to frame the situation in her mind and it still didn’t make sense. My sister hilariously pointed out this new girl isn’t even pretty or attractive, and as mean and as senseless as that is, she isn’t wrong. She’s maybe like a 2 or 3/10, seriously. I saw her in person so…! She apparently deals drugs too, so make whatever you’d like of that information. I’m all for the “entrepreneurial drive” or whatever, but drug dealing still seems, I don’t know, scummy? Dishonorable? She wasn’t dressed well either: tight, ill-fitting black pants that didn’t benefit her at all and a grey hoodie that said PINK on the front of it. Or something. She seems “trashy,” as harshly stereotypical as I’m being. Basically, she doesn’t appear to be “a catch” at least not as much as I view my sister to be. She works a full-time union job at UPS, doesn’t blow money, is nice and understanding — perhaps I’m biased — but my sister is in general a good person. I don’t see what is good about this new girl. Maybe she has the best personality or sense of humor ever, but I doubt it. If anything this new relationship seems like it’s doomed from the start, and the tiny bit of me that loves schadenfreude is pretty excited about stalking these two on Facebook over the next few years.
And that was my Saturday. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t bad either. It was nice to help a loved one escape a bad situation. To help them move on. I went home and had eight beers to process everything, and I just now came to some conclusion that isn’t much of a conclusion at all: the world is a fucked up place and sometimes you can’t make sense out of a damn thing, and oh why do I try to make sense out of everything? More bad vibes about how some things don’t make sense and I’ll forever be ignorant about life.
Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.
Another way to deal with the stress of quarantine has manifested itself: I’m dyeing my hair. Well, trying to at least, for the third time in four days. Why? I’m a stubborn ass and once I set my mind to something it’s hard for me to give up on it. I’m lately trying to view my stubbornness as a positive and not a negative. The original plan was for me to dye my hair blue. Why? Because, YOLO (You Only Live Once, in case you have no idea what that means). As much as I hate the term “YOLO” I’ve started using it for times where I’m feeling risky and don’t really care to think about the consequences. Do I really want blue hair? What is the reason for wanting blue hair? Am I really coping with COVID as well as I’m thinking? Am I really stressed or something? Is this my midlife crisis? Is this my way to distract myself from the perils of life for a few futile hours? I don’t know. YOLO: I’m dyeing my hair blue.
One issue here: my hair is stubbornly black. I call myself “the Black Haired Guy” mostly because a kid I went to high school with, Kieth, started calling me that and the name stuck. I’m an average white person but have strikingly black hair apparently, and people at school knew me as “The Black Haired Guy” despite not knowing my actual name. “Jeremy? Who’s that? Oh! The Black Haired Guy? I never knew his real name.” That’s who I was. Some white people might have brown or dark brown hair, but apparently my hair is blacker than most white people’s black hair. Like it’d be fitting for an asian or a hispanic person, but my whiteness makes my hair uniquely black. Or so I’ve come to understand.
So from black to blue. It shouldn’t be that hard, right? I bought some shitty Splat hair dye because it looked tacky enough, and if I’m going for blue I want it to be a noticeable blue and not some shitty midnight black with hints of blue or whatever. I gooped that shit into my hair on Thursday and left it in for nearly an hour. The result: my hair looked about the same. Black, but if you saw my hair in the sunlight it had a slight hint of blue to it. Blah. This would not stand. When I bought the blue dye I set upon a course to have blue hair; I was committed and nothing would deter me from my latest insane and misguided project.
Saturday I bought some blonde hair dye. Or bleach. Or whatever it’s called. As usual I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. I gooped that into my hair and waited an hour — well past the prescribed 25 minutes the instructions suggested — and washed the dye out. And what happened? Basically nothing. My hair was a dark reddish brown, but looked mostly the same as before.
I was pissed. Tossing chemicals on my hair didn’t seem to do shit to it. I want blue fucking hair dammit! Thanks genetics. You predispose me to heart disease/alcoholism/diabetes/cancer along with a really stubborn hair color? What a fun trait to have going for me: stubborn fucking dark hair that is almost immune to any abuse I can throw at it. But there’s no way I’m giving up now. If I have to burn all my hair away in the chase for blue hair, so be it. It’s just hair, it’ll grow back.
Which is why I’m typing this with hydrogen peroxide smeared all over my hair and burning my scalp. One more attempt, this time with the whitest blonde I could find. It’s a Revlon color called “Ultra Light Sun Blonde” and the box looks like this. Jesus, if my hair looked liked this it’d be fantastic and would easily dye blue. Currently, my hair seems to be a ruddy brownish red color. It reminds me of the surface of Mars actually. Well, if I dye it blue it might look purple and that’s pretty cool too I guess.
And now I’ve started this post I cannot finish it until the “project” is over. Fuck. I was hoping to post it and be done with it. Why did I write about this of all things? Let me wash this shit out and dye it blue…
It’s an hour and a half later and my hair looks like a mess. I should probably post a picture huh?I still have conditioner in it so it isn’t very clear how it turned out but I think we all get the idea as to how terrible this idea was. My “blonde” color (Mars red) seems exists in blotches on my head along with shades of blue and maybe even purple elsewhere. I’m sure it’ll be even more of a total disaster once I rinse out the conditioner.
Do I have any regrets to note here? No, not at all. We’re all going fucking insane from the quarantines which may or may not go on for another few months. As stated here, no one knows how anything is going to play out. No one has been here before. And with people actually protesting being in quarantine? Geez, it’s surprising that everyone isn’t coloring their hair just to have something to do. I hope you guys take this as a warning that if you do YOLO your hair I hope you have some idea as to what you’re doing because I didn’t and look how that turned out. But really, use this time locked away to focus on yourself and truly do whatever the hell you want to do to cope, even if it does mean recklessly dyeing your hair. Whelp, that’s it, The Artist Formerly Known as The Black Haired Guy — now known as The Shitty Mars Red/Blue/Purple Haired Guy — signing off.
Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.
I donated blood yesterday. Why? Because I was bored. There’s no fantasy dwelling in my head that I’m a hero or some other bullshit motivation for donating. I was bored. I was bored last week when I finally answered the blood banks near daily calls, and I knew I’d be bored this week when I had the appointment. Let’s get right into the bitching, shall we? They call all the damn time to pester you into donating. I understand why they do it — they need blood, platelets, and plasma and have no other way to obtain them — but this doesn’t make me happy when I’m browsing Reddit, listening to music doing very important things and I’m interrupted. Most of the time I ignore the call and mute it, not for any good reason, just I don’t want to deal with it at the time, but I finally answered the call last week out of boredom. They got me.
Boredom makes people do crazy shit. I was bored at work and decided to really see if our hand sanitizer was pure alcohol like it smelled like it was. It was. Afterwards I borrowed a cigarette lighter from a friend to make an impromptu flamethrower from the spray bottle because why the hell not? I’ve heard antifreeze is really sweet and that’s why dogs drink it. It is sweet because I was bored and tasted a small amount of it. A month ago I was so bored I cut down a medium sized tree with a hatchet. We have a chainsaw but where’s the fun in that? Lately I’ve been fucking around with solar power because, once again and as always, I’m fucking bored.
I remember a Vsauce/Mind Field video where bored people purposefully shocked themselves despite it being painful because they couldn’t wait in a room for a half hour without ducking around with something like electricity shocking themselves. Humans are a fucked up species.
It’s fitting because boredom is the reason I donated blood in the first place over a decade ago. The details are fuzzy, but I recall it was a snow day and school (or college) was cancelled. I was stuck at home alone with nothing to do and was bored. I always knew donating blood was the noble and right thing to do but never got around to actually donating. Until that snow day. I drove a mile to the blood center and told them I wanted to donate blood. They were as enthusiastic as you could imagine. Most regular blood donors seem to be old people, maybe playing into this idea that boredom makes people do crazy shit they normally wouldn’t do. If you’re old, bored, and sick of watching soap operas/shitty Hallmark movies, why not donate every six weeks or so? The blood center people were overjoyed to have a teenager stroll into their lair. To begin on a lifelong journey of doing the right thing and being a good citizen. To give something precious to your community. To pay it forward. To help the stranger that they didn’t personally know but still existed just like them. People in need and literally dying for a blood transfusion. Heroes without capes. And so on.
So they were shocked when they asked me what brought me in on that cold and snowy day to become a hero. “Do you have family in the hospital? Did you want to help save lives? Did you see one of our blood drives at your work or school? Are you religious?”
“No. They cancelled school today and I was bored so figured, eh, why not?”
They gave me a quizzical look and said, “Well, that’s the first time we’ve heard that before…” totally skeptical that anyone would really donate blood just to kill time.
And that started me on my journey of donating blood as frequently as possible for no noble reason at all. Sure I was helping, sure I was doing a good thing, but it’s always been something for me to do periodically. I didn’t care about the “gifts” they’d usually forget to give me, or the free snacks, or those stupid ass window stickers that brag to everyone how many gallons you’ve donated. Who cares? You’re not a hero because you can sit with a needle in your arm for ten minutes; give heroin addicts their own window stickers if that’s all it takes.
The First Donation
I should probably give a quick overview of the donation process so this post is somewhat informative to those looking for a look into the process. I’m sure every place is different, but I also assume the donation process doesn’t vary too much from place to place.
I break the donation process down into four phases. Firstly, they check your general health: temperature, weight, height, blood iron levels, and blood pressure. This is to ensure that you’re not obviously sick or anything. Then they ask you questions (or have you answer them on a paper or computer screen) about your health history: Are you feeling healthy and well today? Have you taken asprin in the past 48 hours? Do you take any medications on the deferral list? Have you ever had cancer? Are you pregnant? Do you have HIV/AIDS? Do you shoot up drugs? Have you taken money as payment for sex? Have you had sex with another man, even once, since 1980? Questions like those. If everything looks good, you actually donate blood. Finally, you’re basically forced to go eat free snacks, have a drink (not that kind of drink sadly), and are forced to socialize with those super outgoing people that seem to haunt the blood donor snack table. You know the type: the old, friendly, grandparenty type that want to talk about the news, weather, or whatever other boring mundane topic to talk to you about. More stereotyping here; I think this is the demographic that is most likely to donate. Old, bored people trying to help that have a slightly inflated sense of “community” or something. Maybe they’re more likely to have underlying health issues that make them in tune with the needs and struggles of strangers. It’s not terrible, but most times I just want to eat my goddamn granola bar in silence.
Actually donating blood is the most interesting and obviously terrifying aspect of donating blood (duh). It’s the part where they stick a giant needle into your arm and drain a pint of blood from your body. I’m not going to lie either — the needle is a massive needle. Most of us are aware of the needles used for vaccines and IV lines and they’re not too imposing. They’re tiny needles. The blood bank uses a needle that has a width of maybe two or three millimeters and imagining that being jabbed into your vein is unsettling. Luckily they’re sharp and while it does hurt the pain isn’t unbearable. After the needle is inserted the nurse or whatever always ask me, “Does everything feel okay?” I usually say, “It feels like a giant needle is in my vein, but other than that, yeah.”
They take some samples of your blood to test and then start collecting. This part is easy: you sit in a chair, squeeze a ball every few seconds, and let your body naturally bleed into a bag. It’s as easy as dying I guess.
I nearly passed out during my first donation. They told me to let them know if I didn’t feel okay, and after a few minutes I started to feel “funny.” I still felt “okay” just funny. Sounds became fuzzy and muted and it reminded me of what sounds are like underwater, if that makes sense. And my vision started to do the same thing, kinda wash out and blur but in a way where I didn’t feel sick or anything, only things seemed strange. So I looked at the nurse and said, “Uh. I feel kinda funny.” She ran over and tilted the chair back to force blood back into my head. Apparently what happens when your body thinks it’s bleeding to death is to transfer blood to your core to protect your main organs. It makes sense for general survival. Once the chair was tilted I ceased to feel “funny,” at least no more “funny” than I typically felt.
So that day I learned that bleeding to death wouldn’t be a terrible way to die. It’s just “feeling funny” before you pass out and die. Good to know. Maybe I won’t panic if I ever experience sudden loss of blood in the future.
They wrap your arm up, make sure you can stand up okay, and send you over to the snack area after telling you to leave the bandage on for four hours. Eat plenty of food and drink plenty of water. If you feel faint or dizzy, sit down and put your head between your knees. Then you small-talk and snack with the old people until you’ve had enough and can’t take it anymore and must escape the place.
And donating blood makes you tired. It’s a different type of tired or exhausted from doing physical labor. You literally feel drained. It makes sense seeing as a sizeable fraction of your blood — the oxygen transportation system for your entire body — is missing so it’s no surprise you feel drained. I noticed I felt really sleepy, yawned all the time, and felt like I was half asleep for the rest of the day. Just unwilling and unable to really participate in life, work, or whatever else was going on. It was kinda peaceful in a way. So if you do donate, don’t plan on helping your friend move or try to run a 10k or anything. As the people at the blood bank would probably say: No shit. Why would you even try to do that?
All in all, being a “hero” is a great way to kill an hour in an otherwise boring day and gives you an excuse to eat like a fucking pig and be lazy. Can’t do physical work if you’re missing some blood! No heavy lifting for me! 6/10: would recommend to anyone suffering from boredom even if it isn’t the funnest thing you could possibly do.
Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.
I stopped by my dad’s house Friday to get his phone payment from him. We have some shitty system in place where I pay for our phones and my parents are supposed to pay me back. Supposed to. I see it as a win-win for everyone involved. We get a slightly cheaper phone bill with me autopaying the bill, and dad’s military service also nets us a $10 monthly discount. They don’t have to worry about a due date, so no late fees to worry about; I don’t mind floating the charges until they get around paying. No fear of having the phone shut off because I’m taking care of it like a responsible adult.
Anyways, this post isn’t supposed to be about my parents’ debts to me or how irresponsible they are with money. No, it’s meant to be about TV and choice. Which fucking sucks.
I used to love TV. I remember watching TV as a kid where I was a huge fan of educational channels such as the History and Discovery Channels. I also recall my grandma shitting all over me for it. She didn’t have cable and had to watch the shitty four local channels. I told her how awesome cable was and that I didn’t know how she managed to survive off four shitty channels all the time. All she did was watch a single shitty soap opera in the day as well as the local news at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m. I can’t believe I used a variation of the word ‘shit’ in each sentence I had written.
Sure I watch stupid cartoons and Power Rangers, but in the evening I loved watching the History Channel and Discovery Channel. I learned a lot of random facts from them and consider myself an armchair historian regarding World War 2 due to all the History Channel shows I watched as a kid. Hitler invaded Russia on June 22, my birthday! Cable wasn’t just something to vege out in front of, and as I tried to tell my grandma, I could learn stuff. I watched the Weather Channel during hurricane season and became a child weather expert. I knew hot and humid weather ahead of a strong cold front meant we’d have storms. I knew southwest winds carried the hot and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico thousands of miles away. And so on just collecting random and mostly useless knowledge about airplanes, history, weather, and whatever else was on.
As I was visiting my dad I was greeted by the show Two and a Half Men on the TV. He was watching it passively, not really engaged with the show and simply had it on to have something to watch. I used to watch Two and a Half Men years ago when my ex-girlfriend and I lived together. We, like my grandma, had a shitty antenna TV and had to watch the four local channels. I was a ‘fan’ of the show back then I guess with Charlie Sheen actually shitting up the show as he was supposed to be doing. Charlie was meant to be a total douchebag and Sheen played the part well. It was funny and witty enough and was better than anything else I could find at the time.
The Two and a Half Men that was on as I visited my dad was the shitty new version with Jake being all grown up and Ashton Kutcher playing, uh, I forgot his characters name Walden (what the fuck sort of name is ‘Walden’ anyways?). And for some reason, either me maturing to where I didn’t give a shit for the show anymore or the show actually being shit now that Charlie Sheen was gone, I didn’t find it funny at all. I mean the grating laugh track was giving me social cues to laugh at the jokes, but they weren’t that funny. In fact it seemed like the show was making the same jokes it always had been making. Alan being a bum. Rose being crazy. The housekeeper being a smartass. And so on.
My dad laughed passively at the jokes and I just sat there feeling dead to the world. Was this what TV was? Was this what American life has devolved into? Has it devolved at all or was this simply what ‘normal people’ like my dad did with his entire day? Stare at some unfunny TV show because doing fulfilling and life-improving things is too much effort? I can’t even blame him the coronavirus for him devolving this way either; for the past two years he’s sat blindly at his couch and watched TV. He used to enjoy photography and taking walks but has given them up over the last few years, probably due to depression (that he won’t acknowledge). Maybe TV isn’t the cause but the symptom here.
What bothers me most about TV is the lack of choice involved. Watching TV for him is already a lack of choice — he only watches because there is nothing else to do, at least in his mind — but TV pushes it even further because you don’t have a choice what to watch on network TV. You get what they give you and the eight channels or so offer him no real choice for what to actually watch. Cable TV, as shitty as it is, offers hundreds of channels so if you’ve given up and want to watch TV you at least have a choice what to watch. It’s all about choice for me, I think. If you choose to watch TV, that’s fine, you do you, but if you’re mindlessly watching for the sake of watching something, anything, that’s where the problem is.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always been a fan of the internet: you can choose almost endlessly what to give your attention to. I can watch anything fulfilling or interesting that I want to watch on YouTube. I can watch total shit on YouTube if I want. In many ways I think YouTube has taken over the role of TV, at least the educational show aspect which I used to love so much as a kid. That’s probably it’s own topic on its own though. The internet is a great tool, but it comes at a price. Since you can find almost anything to occupy yourself, you need to have a great deal of self-control to not let yourself devolve like my dad has done with TV. The power to choose comes with responsibility, the responsibility I don’t think many of us have. I myself am not perfect and this is probably why I’m on Reddit until the early hours of the morning. But what about the people totally addicted to low-quality social media drama, and shitposting memes on Facebook? They’re like my dad in a slightly different way, only social-mediaing it up because there is nothing else to do and people are scared of boredom. Keep busy at all costs, even if you’re not consciously choosing to do so.
Think about what you’re doing and what you choose to give your attention to. This is your life, and it’s always up for you to decide. Is this what you really want to be doing? Is this what you want your life to be? Are you really happy reading this shitty low-quality blog post? Have you learned anything? Is there something else you’d rather being doing?
Sometimes I’m surprised at how the puzzle pieces of life and meaning somehow come together when you least expect them to. You’ll find yourself in a period of total chaos and depression only to come out into a field of meaning where the chaos and depression somehow seem to make sense, like it was all planned out in a way, like it was something you had to go through. Like there is some masterful person or entity behind the scenes controlling everything. I don’t know if I buy into the idea of “fate,” at least a strong version of it, but sometimes I catch myself wondering. I somehow stumble into the just the right music or song, find myself reading the perfect book, or talking to just the right person I need to be talking to. And I find myself wondering if this is all due to pure chance — am I just really lucky? — or if it all means something.
I’ve heard about David Foster Wallace’s speech “This is Water” a long time ago. I was reading Infinite Jest years ago consuming all sorts of things about Wallace on the internet. I knew about “This is Water,” but whatever, I didn’t pay much attention to it because it was a speech, a commencement speech from 2005, and I didn’t give a damn to check it out. How impactful can a speech be even if it is sometimes noted as one of the best speeches given in recent memory? I never got around to it. Until last week that is. The universe aligns and I hear the perfect thing I need to hear as I always somehow do.
Here’s a link to it. It’s about 22 minutes long, not a quick little video, but seriously, it hits hard the entire way through. It’s a perfect mixture of being completely soul-crushingly depressing but somehow uplifting. Give it a watch; I highly recommend it. I’ve watched it three or four times in the past week; it almost has a religious importance and truthfulness to it, at least in my opinion.
It’s classic David Foster Wallace. I’m always stressing the importance of main themes in artists’ work (because you get a glimpse into their soul), and Wallace’s work is no different. I already went on quite a bit about being bored at work reading The Pale King and there certainly are themes embedded in both. Wallace is obsessed with boredom and depression. (It is notable that he talks about suicide and how “most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger”: he ended his life three years after he made this speech. Themes in his art aren’t just words or oblique ideas; he’s personally struggling with all of these topics.) The total pointlessness that is everyday life. The fact that life isn’t especially bad for most of us and boredom is seen as a nuisance instead of the Real Problem; surviving the boredom is maybe the primary challenge in life. Learning to live with boredom, uselessness, and pointlessness day in and day out for most of your life. Sitting through the hours and days of nothingness somehow keeping your soul intact despite the banality of everyday life.
Wallace does pull himself back from the brink of making the speech utterly depressing by noting that we all have the option to control what we think about. Even if life is soul-crushingly terrifyingly boring and pointless, we can control our thoughts. We can learn to deal with it. I think that’s what made this so profound to me: it’s not me being bored and too lazy to do anything — countless other people feel the same way — it’s up to me (and everyone) to control how I view and process the boring meaningless world I find myself in. It almost has an underlying current of Buddhism to it, this focus on the problem maybe being in your head and not with everyone else. The world is fucked up, but you can’t do much to change that fact. You get stuck in traffic and what do you do? Get pissed at everyone else or learn to process this totally stupid problem to where it doesn’t bother you so much? The choice is clear. You are the only one in control of you.
I didn’t want to go on endlessly about the speech and only wanted it as an introduction to this post, but it’s a really long introduction apparently. As I said, everything links together in some utterly complex puzzle where one idea bleeds into the other. I’m bored right now, I feel like I’m waiting on life itself, and I couldn’t help but link my mood to the speech I listened to last week.
I’m always amazed at how life, when you look back at the past, you only see a tiny handful of notable events to define the years. I remember graduating college, high school, and getting a my pilot’s licenses. I think of a handful of notable times with friends that seem to define everything even if they are just memories of a few hours. This is how it is with everything. I remember starting my job, and transferring to a new shift, and a few other “big memories” but other than that it’s all I have memory-wise to account for 14 years working UPS. It seems my entire 33-year-long life is defined by a tiny amount of memories. What happened to everything else? Was it all so pointless as to not be remembered?
The natural question to ask is “why?” And I don’t know the answer to it. Life is lived moment by moment but we don’t remember a damn thing about the day-to-day struggles we all go through. I won’t remember typing this. I won’t remember the hours I’ve slaved away trying to write my books. If one of them does somehow “make it” by selling thousands and millions of copies, I’ll only remember that one final event with everything else being a blur. I’ll remember “the success” part. This already happened with my Options Trading Book even if it isn’t successful at all. I don’t remember writing a damn bit of it; all I have are vague and miserable memories of trying to edit the damn thing. But I do clearly remember hitting the “Publish” button (or whatever it’s officially called on Amazon) and knowing that I finally finished it.
It always feels like I’m waiting around for one of these singular, life-defining moments to happen, being trapped in a banal purgatory in the meantime until something does occur. Thursday seems to be especially bad for this. Trying to have patience with the process that is life. Forcing out another blog post like it’s one boring stride in a long marathon. Pissing away the next three hours until I have to go to work. Pissing time away at work trying desperately to pass time until the next notable thing happens. Waiting for a paycheck. Waiting for the next therapy appointment. Always waiting.
I was complaining to a friend about how much I FUCKING HATE WRITING and she said something like “appreciate the process.” It’s hard to do though, but I have been trying to do just that, not only in regards to writing but with life in general. Trying to think that every day isn’t really pointless because it all leads somewhere. You need to take the thousands of boring, unanalyzed, mindless steps in a marathon to actually get somewhere. This blog post is just like that, a step in a process, and I’m really trying to love the process that I’m in. This is life. I’m sitting here typing, listening to music, and after that’s done I’ll wander off and do the next thing I need to do. This is the power that David Foster Wallace found so integral to surviving life in our current age in “This is Water.” The power to choose what you think and how you think. Is life just passing time until the next “big thing” happens? No. Is everyday life boring and stupid and torturous most of the time? Yes. But here I am, typing because there really is no choice. Learn to love the process. Learn to love and appreciate the day-to-day struggles everyone goes through chasing their goals or simply living their lives to the best of the their abilities.