Tag Archives: Christmas

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

Let me complain…

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

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

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

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

The Actual Post…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here’s to the next 100.

Double-Shifting (and Boredom) Sucks

It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.

-David Foster Wallace
…one of these hideous bastards. Note the stubby and goofy looking wings.

I’m currently sitting in a van on the cargo ramp at UPS. The current time is 11:17 a.m. and my crew (consisting of about 9 people) is scheduled to unload an Airbus A300 cargo airplane due to arrive at 12:09 p.m. It’s a little less than an hour away. And what will we do in the meantime? Nothing: we sit. This is what we do at UPS. The motto tossed around to new-hires is usually this: Hurry Up and Wait. I’ve been there so long that it’s basically lost its meaning to me.

The coworker in the front seat has his phone’s volume on full-blast playing some shitty mobile game. I don’t even know what game it is or if it’s even shitty, but it’s a mobile game so it probably is shitty. Also considering the certain coworker that’s playing it leads me to think it’s certainly a shitty game. I hear the cheap sound-effects of change clinking and crowds cheering feebly spewing out of the phone’s minuscule speaker which gives the sound a tinny quality. It’s like someone rubbing crumpled aluminum foil directly on your eardrums. The coworker next to me sometimes glances over in my direction and his breath is terrible. The people in the rear of the van — a Chevy passenger van that seats about 15 people fully loaded — are small-talking that everyone does when there is nothing to actually talk about. Because silence in and of itself is terrifying and scary. Two coworkers are in the back silent ripping away on their vapes. At least they’re not bothering anyone so I give them credit for that.

I’m working the UPS day-shift this year because there is no reason not to work it. UPS is a union job so it’s all-around a pretty comfy affair. Our contract with the company dictates that anything worked over five hours in a day is time-and-a-half pay: my typical $19.95 wage skyrockets to nearly $30 after the fifth hour. In a nine-hour day we’re taking some serious money here, and because I’m bored trying to kill time and math is something fun to do, this is a gross daily pay of exactly $219.45. Holy shit. Maybe double shifting isn’t too bad after all? While the money is good it’s not my primary reason for working the extra shift in a twisted sort of way if you can believe it. I’m a bum. I don’t do anything productive. I usually sleep and write during the scheduled day-shift hours. Sometimes I play video games. There is no reason not to work because making $30 an hour is hard to pass up when you literally have nothing better to do.

My typical shift at UPS is the twilight shift, 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. By doubling on days I work an 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. shift with an hour-ish lunch break in between. And why can I pick up these extra shifts around this time of year? Because I work at UPS. We deliver boxes. And it’s December. Fucking think about it. We’re being swamped by packages and UPS as a company throws around money with complete disregard simply to get people like me to stick around longer than usual, take extra shifts, and get those damn packages shipped. Mostly so the stereotypical American in the fury of Christmas Holiday shopping doesn’t become pissed that their boxes showed up a day or two late. Weeks before Christmas the Holiday itself obviously, but still they will be very upset nonetheless.

Knowing the shift was going to be terribly long and boring I brought in something to read: David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. I almost feel bad complaining about taking extra shifts where I have enough downtime to read a book, write blog posts, and get paid nearly $30 an hour to do so, but the way anyone gauges anything is from their own relative personal experiences and it’s difficult for me to see anything that pisses me off in a positive light even if it is, logically, a positive thing. I hate being bored even if $30 is being thrown at me every single hour.

I started reading the book about a month ago and became bored, yes bored, about halfway through and only recently began reading it again (curious timing, looking back on it). The major complaints about the book are that it’s boring as hell, and even throughout the book the author explains (or maybe it was in the forward?) that the book is almost meant to be boring. Wallace’s most well-known novel Infinite Jest had it’s moments where it lagged a bit, but was a much more riveting story overall. Hell, The Pale King is about IRS employees and the whole IRS being central to the story almost forces it to be a boring story. So it’s not that Wallace is just a boring writer, it seems that he made the book boring on purpose. It’s the theme of the book: boredom. While I don’t know exactly what he is trying to say about boredom, I know he is trying to say something about it. And the book forces you to face the boredom directly; it doesn’t talk about boredom as much as it forces you to live through it by boring you to death. Some chapters are so full of random boring details about forms, procedures, codes, and acronyms that it had to be a conscious choice on the author’s part. And in my current bored state of double shifting, the novel seems like the universe’s way of talking directly to me (again). I find myself immensely engaged with the story that is so bland and devoid of anything obviously purposeful at all.

I realize that what I’m scared of with my extra work hours is not being burned out, or not having enough free time, but of being bored. Something about being bored is a personal affront to my very being it seems. My normal UPS shift forces me to find things to do for sometimes literal hours, and by taking on a second shift I get to double my boredom! And in some ways it’s worse than that; by working a nine or ten-hour day my phone inevitably dies. No writing. No blogging. No social media. No music. No internet. Nothing. Sometimes the work is so chaotic that the boredom comes in bursts here and there and doesn’t allow you enough time to sit down, relax, think, read, or grasp onto your fading sanity. It’s work just to stop minutes later. And then work again. And then stop. It’s Hurry Up and Wait. Let’s also not forget the one or two-hour lunch wedged in between the shifts either. Not enough time to go home and relax but long enough where you can’t sit around at work. Hence me grabbing McDonald’s, sitting in a parking lot at the end of runway 25 at KRFD and watching planes take-off and land. Like this:

And reading the book I run into this, the end of which I quoted at the top of this post:

The underlying bureaucratic key is the ability to deal with boredom. To function effectively in an environment that precludes everything vital and human. To breath, so to speak, without air.

The key is the ability, whether innate or conditioned, to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex. To be, in a word, unborable. I met, in the years 1984 and ’85, two such men.

It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.

-D.F.W., The Pale King

The universe compels me to listen to what it’s trying to tell me. Apparently this time the universe works through the dead author David Foster Wallace and his unfinished novel The Pale King. And if Wallace in his boring-ass book is right, and if double shifting is as torturingly boring as it is so far, well, it looks like I’m well on my way to success, maybe even enlightenment. The key to modern life! I’m going to learn to be bored. To be okay with it. To sit for hours and hours in an airplane cross-legged and perfectly at peace being the embodiment of boredom. Totally fine staring out at the twinkling runway and taxiway lights that appear as bright, vivid, twinkling stars strewn over the ground admiring them endlessly.

(Closing Note: I was trying to make this more of an “update post” but was carried away with my mindset for the day. I wrote the post while bored and just went with it and it ended quite differently than how I originally intended it to end. So I guess this is the “update part” just tacked onto the end. I’m working a bunch of hours. I probably won’t be very active on here unless I knock some stuff out on the weekends and schedule them to post on the weekdays. I can write on my phone just fine, but I can’t edit or post. This also explains the “thanks guys!” post on Sunday. December probably won’t have any record blog views because of this yearly hell I live through; posting will surely suffer. I also might not be very active commenting on other people’s blogs. So if I disappear it isn’t because I forgot about you, it’s because I’m bored and I can’t help being bored and I have no escape from the boredom.)

Halloween Sucks

No one probably noticed much, but I’ve been in a pretty bad patch for the past week. I feel fantastic now, truly, and I’m left looking backwards wondering what my problem was in the first place. This was kinda evident if you care to read my last post about getting help (a sort of post-breakdown pick-myself-back-up post) and a post before that one about lacking self-esteem. Anyways, since I’ve slacked for a week and with Halloween quickly approaching I found myself not feeling motivated to do another “X Holiday Sucks” posts because no one seems to care about them anyways. But in a mild bout of procrastination panic I’ve decided to totally lay into the bullshit that is Halloween. Obviously, the best time to write/post this was yesterday (the 30th) but better late than never, right?

Another Damn Holiday

I always try to find reasons for why certain holidays suck, but let’s face it, I just don’t like holidays. At all. Period. This is how I am with any sort of “traditional” thing be it birthdays, weddings, baby showers, anniversaries, holidays, New Years, etc. I’ve always had an issue with doing things just because “that’s how they’ve always been done” and if holidays aren’t the epitome of that then I don’t know what is. Halloween is no different and while I don’t give a damn to read up on the history and reasons behind Halloween (and you shouldn’t need a holiday back story to understand or complain about it anyways), it being the day where, for some reason, kids dress up in costumes, go to strangers’ houses and get free candy just because it’s October 31st seems very hilarious and strange.

You do have to give Halloween credit for being a batshit insane holiday though. Christmas and Thanksgiving have this bullshit somberness to them which isn’t helped by them being in the shittiest time of the year for us Northern Hemisphere bros. You just can’t joke about Christmas. It’s too serious. Remember, Christmas is the holiday where people get upset upon hearing “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” because of some vague idea that a war on Christianity is occurring. Or that our society has become to politically correct. Whatever your stance on this stupid fucking issue you hold, you have to admit that Halloween is a pretty fun, random, insane holiday that doesn’t make much sense. No one is anti-Halloween. Everyone seems to be on board the Halloween Train. Even I am mostly indifferent to it (contrasting with my hatred of Thanksgiving and Christmas). At least it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Halloween Stores

In the past decade there has been this fascinating phenomena which is The Halloween Store. You might know what I’m talking about. Every September/October random Halloween shops appear inhabiting the corpses of decrepit and abandoned retail stores. Since Amazon and internet shopping in general have murdered retail stores in strip malls all around America there is a multitude of hollow shells for these Halloween stores to inhabit. It’s kinda fitting in a way with Halloween stores possessing the corpses of these long-deceased storefronts.

Do these companies really hibernate for 10 months of the year? What do they do in that time? Do they do anything? Why don’t they branch off into general holiday stores? Why doesn’t any other holiday have random shops that appear for a few months of the year? There are businesses that sell fireworks primarily for Independence Day, but those are year-round stores, aren’t they? Why aren’t there Christmas Holiday Stores? Easter Stores? Thanksgiving Stores? No, there are only Halloween Stores. And like some possessive demon they only appear to inhabit the corpses of the fallen retail shells for a few months of the year returning to the nether for the rest of the time.

Pumpkin Carving?

Once again not researching a damn thing, let’s give a big shout out to whatever pumpkin carving is. You have to admit that taking a giant, orange, seasonal gourd and gouging out its interior so you can carve a face on it is badass. It is the quintessential Halloween thing to do. The only thing that really compares to pumpkin carving is the Christmas Holiday tree, because hauling a fucking evergreen tree inside your house to put lights on it is pretty strange, especially when you realize that it’s kinda dangerous with a real tree and incandescent bulbs, but the viseralness of carving a pumpkin takes the cake pumpkin pie. I mean I have nothing against carving pumpkins and admire it in a way; pumpkin carving is an art form all on its own and gives you tons more possibilities for self-expression than decorating a Christmas Holiday tree does, but damn is it a strange thing to do.

Fucking Trunk-or-Treats are Bullshit

I love the communal aspect of trick-or-treating. Love it. At no other time do people actually visit random strangers’ homes or ring their neighbor’s doorbell. It’s like a holiday of community in a way while most other holidays emphasize family. Independence day is kinda similar as we can all gather and watch shit explode in the sky, but this celebrates the community of America and not your immediate neighborhood. Trick-or-treating is so strange in our society. We stress wariness of strangers: Halloween says take their candy and eat it. Ring their doorbells. Fuck it. We stress being wary of people who hide their identity: open the door for those masked people and toss Snicker bars at them! Political divides fall to the wayside because even the dipshit Trump supporters give out candy just like everyone else. If there’s one thing everyone agrees on it’s that candy is fun and tasty. It unites us all.

But then there’s this thing called trunk-or-treating that seems to be gaining popularity. And I despise it. It seems to take anything that is special about Halloween and dumbs it down to its most basic and meaningless level. Instead of walking around a neighborhood you walk around a parking lot. Instead of going on an adventure to find candy you walk from car to car. Instead of seeing the unique decorations that people display in their yards, well, you can see everyone’s unique interpretation on The Stick Figure Family slapped to the rear window of their gas-guzzling SUV. Halloween becomes not about the adventure of trick-or-treating but about maximizing the candy/time ratio which is best achieved in a densely packed parking lot of vehicles. If you’re going to do that, just buy your own candy and eat it because you’re taking all the fun out of Halloween. Making it a shell of its former self. A fucking mockery of it. Trunk-or-treating seems like such an American idea that it disgusts me: Parking lots. Minimal walking. Candy. SUVs. Convenience. Safety. Practicality. America already seems to have a problem with kinship and community and trunk-or-treats seem to be another way to make the problem even worse by removing everything about Halloween that makes it special.

Snow? Huh?

To close out this post, check out this picture:

I took this picture about twenty minutes ago. I’m not sure if you guys know the typical weather of Northern Illinois around Halloween, but this isn’t it. It isn’t typical by a long shot. Usually Halloween is your typical fall weather with temperatures in the 50s or 40s and maybe some clouds and rain. It’s strange because I used to bitch that it always seemed to be cold and rainy on Halloween, but I suppose I can’t whine about that too much now, can I? This picture is self-explanatory: snow before and on Halloween, the prospect of trick-or-treating with temperature in the 20s, stomping through inches of snow, wind chills possibly in the teens, and it isn’t going to be a fun day at all. While snow on Halloween isn’t a thing to bitch about Halloween for, it sure isn’t going to make the day any more enjoyable.