Tag Archives: Reading

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.)

Peterson's 12 Rules of Life Kinda Sucks

Disclaimer before everyone jumps my shit: I actually enjoy the book so far. When you have a blog called Everything Sucks and every post has been titled “[Topic] Sucks” you need to keep with tradition. I’m sorry if it sounds kinda click baity, but it sounds a ton better than “12 Rules of Life is A Decent Book but Here are Some Complaints I Have About It.” Just for the giggles of it I made the corresponding banner so you can see what I’m talking about:

This looks and sounds stupid.

I think I might get shit on for writing this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has been so well-loved and well-received by nearly everyone that I myself just can’t get into. The only other book that comes close, I think, was the terrible Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiosiakawakaia, and I really don’t understand how I haven’t written a post about that awful fucking book yet. This puts me in a strange mindset: maybe the people that like this book — everyone that is — are wrong? Or maybe they all see the obvious wonder and greatness of this book and I’m the only idiot that doesn’t “get it.” I’m leaning towards the latter because why wouldn’t I? Seriously though, my supervisor has read the book and loved it. Her brother is currently reading the book and loves it. A few bloggers I follow have written about the book and they appeared to have also loved the book. Goodreads gives the book a 4 out of 5 which for Goodreads standards is amazing. Reviews on Amazon have also given the book a 4.6 out of 5, which, yeah, is really good. The consensus is that the book is good. And I don’t feel that way somehow.

I also want to say that I’m ignorant of any “controversy” that Peterson is apparently known for. I went into the book being a clean slate of opinions on Peterson himself, so this slightly grumpy post has nothing to do with me thinking he’s a bad person or being mad about whatever the hell it was that pissed people off. I don’t know about any of it.

Currently, I’m about a quarter of the way halfway through the book. (This is considering that reading three six out of the twelve rules should be a quarter halfway at least. I don’t know how much Peterson decides to rant after the twelfth rule either. It could be a lot.) and while it is a bit early to start critiquing things I’ve noticed a pattern that has been driving me bonkers while reading. I think it’s his writing style. Or his tone. I don’t really know how to sum it up but the book makes me angry when I read it, and sometimes irrationally so.

The problem is not that I disagree with the rules, it’s that I don’t like how he goes about explaining the rules. The first six rules are rather straightforward and (you’d think) should require little in the way of explanation. Rule one is to stand up straight (basically). To have good posture. Rule two is to treat yourself like another person in terms of your self care. That one seemed like it needed a bit of explaining so okay, fine. Rule three is to only have friends that want the best for you. Sounds good to me. Four is about comparing yourself only to who you used to be and not to others. Great one! Rule five: don’t let your kids be jackasses. Yes, agreed. And rule six is don’t shoot up schools/workplaces to only criticize others when your own affairs are in order. And with number six I could see some explaining being required.

The first thing I noted was that Peterson’s chapters are long. Not actually long but consistently longer than I think they need to be. He seems to explain his steps in such a vague and roundabout way that I’m continually wanting him to just wrap things up and move onto the next step. I’ll find myself thinking, “Okay, I get it! Wrap this shit up!” and upon realizing there are ten remaining pages to a chapter wondering why the hell he needs ten pages to make his point. This is made worse by the straightforwardness of most of the steps. I feel that four out of the six are relatively easy to grasp the logic behind so a quick summary should suffice. Nope. Peterson needs to take up thirty pages to make his point on nearly every rule.

Rule two was especially painful to slough through. Summing up his actual reasoning goes something like this: we care for others more than we care for ourselves. He starts off by saying that people frequently don’t take prescribed medicine but are more than happy to give medicine to their dogs or another person they care about. In short, take the care and love you have for others and apply it to yourself! Care about yourself as if you’re in charge of being a third person in charge of yourself! It makes sense and it’s a wonderful way of looking at life.

How does Peterson actually go about explaining this though? He basically uses the thought process from above, but the topic rambles on and on about order and chaos, somehow equating masculinity to order and femininity to chaos. He also gives like a play-by-play of the biblical “fall of man” story from Genesis and while it’s interesting to read even I’m not sure how it plays into caring for yourself despite having recently read the chapter. I can’t recall much of the rambling. I think Peterson was talking about our inherent hatred for ourselves or something. Who knows. It was struggling through this randomness that I found myself wanting him to just get to his point. Wishing for a clear, “This is my rule, and this is how I came upon my rule.”

You have to give Peterson credit for getting people, and myself, riled up though. Check out what I wrote at the end of chapter two; I let loose on the book and this is the first and only time I recall being so angry that I started writing a small essay in the book itself.

IT’S TIME TO RANT BOIS

I get the impression that Peterson likes to hear himself talk or is very cocky about himself. Self-esteem is nice to have but it comes across in a negative way if you overdo it and this is the vibe I get from the book. It seems like he had an offer to write a book about his rules of life (which the introduction conceitedly titled “Overture” describes) and just started packing it full of unnecessary worldview and philosophical things, sort of showing off how smart, wise, and talented he is or something. At best parts of the book like this seem unnecessary, at worst they come off as gratingly self-aggrandizing.

Once again to stress my conflictedness here: I like the twelve rules so far. Each rule that I’ve read through seems legit enough to adopt into my life. I haven’t came across a single rule where I’ve shaken my head and thought, “Nope. Peterson is full of shit. I’m not following that rule.” Everything makes sense. It’s just the writing and style of the book that pisses me off.

But I have to admit it’s nice to not enjoy a book as much as you’d think you’d enjoy it. Whenever I read self-help books I usually find myself agreeing with the author too much; after all, a published writer with a wildly successful book can’t be wrong, right? I’ve always been wary of this like it’s a sign that I’m too gullible with my reading or something. So it’s refreshing to actually disagree with someone for once and to be reminded that books are written by flawed and opinionated humans just like myself who could be wrong, or at the very least are someone I don’t have to automatically agree with. In this aspect 12 Rules is stupidly refreshing to read. It gets me thinking. It gets me saying to myself, “Huh? That’s fucking stupid.” It gets my blood boiling. It makes me write paragraph-long rants at the end of each chapter bitching about what Peterson has written. But somehow at the same time I mostly agree with the book. His twelve rules are something that I really think about adopting into my own life. The book is good, I just wish Peterson would keep his ranting a bit more on topic, or not come across as so confident that he appears overwhelmingly cocky and stuck on himself. But those are just like, my opinions, man.

Not Enough Time Sucks

“What do you want to do with your life?!?”

-Seemingly Everyone

My default way of brainstorming is apparently lying awake in bed at 3 a.m. It feels like I start every blog post off this way, because it’s true. Anyways, I was lying awake in bed at 3 a.m. and was in a good mood, shockingly. I was looking forward to the following day and all of the possibilities that it offered me. I had a good selection of books that I wanted to read (Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules, Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment, Six Pillars to Self-Esteem, Dune, and every other book in my backlog), and more so than just read them, I wanted to understand them. I’m talking about really absorbing the books, taking notes on them, and reading and reflecting on what I had read. I also wanted to do this with a handful of musical albums. As with reading, I want to absorb the songs and understand them. I want to look up lyrics and ponder how the words play over and off the underlying music. There’s just so much going on to appreciate! And there are other things I want/need to do: I have a 5k coming up in a few weeks that I’m totally ill-prepared for, I need to write…and oh yeah writing! I have like three stories I’m working on along with this blog and I need to proofread stuff, and figure out a way to actually self-promote any writing I do accomplish. Work is still a thing and I also want to maybe work on being a flight instructor as a career. Who knows what I want to do?

It’s at that point I realized that my problem isn’t lacking things I enjoy doing, it’s having the time and motivation to actually do things. There’s just not enough time in the day (or in general) for me to do all the things I want to do.

Many of the tasks need patience, time, and thought to accomplish. Sure, while I could sit down and write blog posts/chapters and proofread them quickly, the same isn’t true with reading a book or listening to music. To really appreciate these things you need to take your time with them. You need to let your mind properly process them. And more importantly you can’t multitask them. “Why don’t you just listen to music while you write?” you might ask. It’s because when you write you’re probably not listening to the music like you’d want to. I’m a firm believer that the human mind can only really focus on a singular thing at once and listening to music in a distracting environment does the music a disservice. To really enjoy music, a book, and to appreciate the subtleties of any of the arts, you need to do them solo. To really dive in and appreciate what is going on.

Obviously there needs to be some form of prioritizing here and I don’t even know where to begin. Ranking things based on importance seems silly; reading is just as important to me as music and I can’t pick only one. There is also the question of what I actually feel like doing. Sometimes I’d rather read than listen to music while other times the opposite is true. Movies seem to have an even more unique mindset I need to be in to watch them. It isn’t a simple matter of prioritizing, or maybe it is and I’m just awful at having self-control. Forcing yourself to sit down and listen to music when you want to read seems almost sacrilegious in a way. And I don’t know how to decide what I actually should be doing with my time.

To be ultra depressing you can scale this struggle of what to do up from hobbies to careers. I have a handful of job-like things I could be working towards, and these take even more time and effort than reading or listening to music does. I think this is the main reason why people never seem to know what they want to do in life, it’s such a big decision to make that I understand why people simply don’t make a decision. “What you want to do in life?” seems to be such a loaded question in so many ways. It seems to be asking what you want to constantly be working towards day after day in your free time and your work time. And when you look at it that way no wonder people can’t fucking pick. There is absolutely nothing in this world that I’d be happy doing eight or ten hours each day, every day. I like my variety and choosing “what I want to do” seems to force any and all variety out of life, even if it isn’t true in practice.

I also like to blame video games for altering my outlook on what I want to do. Video games make it easy to accomplish literally anything in the game world you want. It’s a matter of dedication and time but in such a way that you can actually make progress. All of my skills in Stardew Valley are maxed out: IRL you can never max out every possible skill available. Hell, even in games like Skyrim you can still do certain things outside of your expertise. Even a wizard-mage-magical person can shoot a bow and kill things, just not very well. And even if you can’t do everything in a single play through you can always play multiple characters and accomplish everything the game world has for you to accomplish. There is no choice of “What do I want to do?” because you can do everything.

Real life forces you to actually pick the things you want to do, and hell if there aren’t too many interesting things to do. I want to write fiction and nonfiction. I want to blog. I want to fly airplanes. I want to make music. I want to paint or something. I want to put solar panels all over the house. I want to read and listen to music and go sit outside and enjoy nature. I want to stop climate change. I want to start a grilled cheese food truck. I want to live in the woods. I want to be a Buddhist monk. But there are only 24 hours in the day, 365 days in a year, and a finite amount of years left in my life. I physically can’t do nearly everything I want to do, and narrowing things down seems like an affront to the variety of things that life has to offer. It’s not so much that there is nothing I want to do, in fact there is too much to do that I’m paralyzed by the choices offered to me! I guess it’s a good problem to have but dammit if knowing that I’ll never get to experience all the things I want to do doesn’t feel awful. I hate deciding. I hate making choices. Especially when these choices involve things as important as choosing what to do with the time given to me. If only I could choose to have more time. But that’s kinda like what the Genie in Aladdin said about wishing for more wishes. You can’t do it, it’s illegal.