Once in a Lifetime

 

I’ve never made friends quickly. You all should know that by now. At my previous job, my boss told me that I seemed to have put up a shell around myself. That’s not entirely true, but he meant well. I heard recently that he walked out of the store he’d been transferred to because the district manager is a total bitch. I flatter myself that I might have started a bit of a trend by walking out when I did. I wasn’t the first person to walk out, but still. They started a dangerous precedent by pushing good people out, and anyway, I didn’t come here to gloat. I’ve learned by now that what they say about living well being the best revenge is true. It doesn’t mean that the bad guy always gets his comeuppance. Oftentimes, they kinda just drift away. Most of the time, they never learn their lesson. They go on being shitty, and the most you can hope for is that the people around them realize what shits they are and keep their distance. But they don’t ever just go away.

It was a big decision when I decided to be a blogger instead of a vlogger or whatever. I have a very animated speaking style and a rather distinctive voice, but I would prefer not to go on camera. I don’t like having my picture taken. Sometimes I think I might have fit right in in one of those cultures where they believe that having your picture taken robs you of your soul or something like that. Then again, maybe not. I’m not a Luddite (it’s actually a common myth that the Luddites were anti-technology, but never mind); I just try to resist the temptation of going with trends. That’s why I’ve always felt so out of my own time. I know that we all like to think of ourselves as special snowflakes, and that’s great. But there are a lot of people out there who don’t think of themselves as ordinary who, to my eyes, appear rather conventional. I don’t believe that’s entirely subjective. I think that most people are boring, and that interesting people come in all shapes and sizes. There’s nothing wrong with being boring, I suppose. It’s all in what you want out of life.

cybermenIt’s frustrating, working in a medium that doesn’t provide you with any immediate gauge as to what people think. Actually, I think that might be a strength. Facebook has the “like” button, and actually, so does this blog. But it’s not like there are message boards where people discuss my stuff at length. If they did, I probably wouldn’t read it because I need my headspace. That’s the problem with the internet: it’s all just nerds with opinions. I still don’t understand why so many Whovians hate “Nightmare in Silver” so much. I remain convinced that it’s the best Cybermen storyline since “Earthshock”, not that the competition is particularly steep. It’s definitely overstuffed and yeah, the kids are kind of annoying, but it also has some arresting visuals, a great performance by Matt Smith, and some of the snappiest dialogue the show ever produced. (“I trust the Doctor.” “Are you saying he knows what he’s doing?” “I’m not sure I’d go that far.”) For once, the Cybermen act like Cybermen (sort of proto-Borg, although I don’t know if there’s any truth to the rumor that they inspired the Borg) rather than substitute Daleks. Go Gaiman.

There’s nobody I agree with 100% of the time. This leads me to believe that nobody is right 100% of the time except for me. But seriously, I do believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. I believe in subjectivity as well; I just think that while most human beings might, on some level, be more or less the same, that doesn’t mean you have to get along with everyone, and it’s okay to think somebody’s a shithead if they’ve wronged you. I guarantee that there are folks out there who think I’m a shithead, although I think most of them are shitheads too, so I guess it kind of evens out. There’s no bigger waste of time, in my opinion, than trying to make friends with everyone. A lot of my idols probably wouldn’t have much to say to me if they met me. Then again, maybe they would and I just need to get a little bit better at making overtures.

I’ve always believed that endings aren’t bad so long as you get to end things on your own terms. I talked to an asshole on an online dating site just now who couldn’t believe that I choose to work in retail and customer service jobs despite having degrees from two of the best universities in the world. Well, I am a smart motherfucker. Right now, I need my headspace, that’s all. You can’t get back at everyone who has hurt you. Robert, the near-sociopath who screwed me out of my living situation about two years ago, is probably living quite comfortably now. Whether or not he’s happy is debatable. I’m not very happy, but it’s all in how you define happiness, isn’t it?

In case it’s not obvious, I’m signing off here. I’ve cranked out these last few posts in what could be considered a binge (albeit the tamest binge in the entire history of the word) because sometimes, you just want to get it over with. Oh no, don’t take that the wrong way. I’m glad I did this shit. I used to think that you needed to have all your shit figured out before you ended something, but it turns out you don’t. Is death the only part where that happens? I don’t know. But it’s not as scary as it looks. Not that I plan on doing it anytime soon.

I’ll leave you with something silly. I’m still kind of a funnyman despite spending most of my time here sharing Deep Thoughts. See ya around.

Enigma

douglasThe difficulty with anxieties is that they make you feel nervous about decisions you’ve already made. You get really nervous because you’re seeing your significant other later, and as much as you love them, you almost don’t know what to do with them now that you’ve got them. If you’d dated or gotten laid a lot while in high school and college rather than pining for your friends and masturbating incessantly, maybe you would have an easier time processing this. But since you’d almost gotten used to spending all that time alone, it’s disorienting to have the option to do something else. And of course, there’s sex. Where would we be without that?

I’m still single, by the way. I’m just spitballing.

There’s been talk of making Blood Meridian into a movie for years now. It’s one of my favorite novels, and arguably Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece. It’s a challenging piece of work. For one thing, it is unrelentingly violent. I don’t think then pages go by in that book without somebody getting skinned, shot to pieces, or their head bashed open on a rock. It’s not exactly beach reading, is what I’m trying to say. For another thing, its point-of-view is, if not nihilistic, certainly more interested in portraying evil as something that is immortal and eternally destructive than in telling the kind of story in which the good guys win. Since the story consists of a bunch of cowboys going on a killing rampage across the Southwest, I’m not even sure if it has any sympathetic characters. Actually, that’s not true. The kid (the nameless protagonist of the novel) is somewhat sympathetic, but only because he kind of just goes along with what’s happening rather than actively encouraging it. With a story like that, you kind of have to take what you can get.

I’m not sure who you would get to adapt such a book. Badlands-era Malick could maybe do it justice, but I doubt he’d want to now. The Coen brothers could probably do it, but they already adapted one of Cormac McCarthy’s books (No Country for Old Men), so perhaps they wouldn’t want to do go there again. Werner Herzog, maybe? Resurrect Klaus Kinski and he would make an amazing Judge. I’ve probably spent too much time thinking about this.

I’m on the last season of 30 Rock. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of taking things too slow when you realize that you’re enjoying something. I love 30 Rock. I think it’s one of the best sitcoms ever, but I’ve seen only a couple episodes of Seinfeld and haven’t watched Cheers at all, so I clearly have a lot to learn about that. There’s a line in Battlestar Galactica where Adama says that he likes the book he’s reading so much that he doesn’t want it to be over. Part of the reason I read, like, five or six books at once is that it’s hard for me to focus on something once I realize I like it. I’m not prolonging it so much as missing the forest for the trees. Because I have fallen into that pitfall of reading something just so you can say you’ve read it or watching something just so you can say you’ve watched it. And you can’t do that. Because then you’re just counting the pages/episodes until you’re done and then you can move onto the next new thing. I might look more composed to other people than I actually am. All I know is that sitting down to actually watch/read something, even and especially if I like it, is way more difficult than it should be.

The thing about 30 Rock is that it is not much concerned with either plot or character. It’s a joke machine, that’s all. When it’s on a roll, it will have you pissing your pants, clutching your sides and howling with laughter, because it is the kind of show that can fit a brilliant sight gag, one liner, and obscure pop culture reference into the same moment. Even the worst episodes have at least a handful of good jokes, and from what I’ve heard, the show went out on a bang, so I’ll be excited to get there. I have so much else to watch, after all.

It can be difficult to reign in your own weird impulses when you’re the only one in control. Especially when you spend 95% of your free time in your room. I’m talking about myself here, in case that’s not obvious. One of my high school English teachers was fond of reading some of our essays aloud to the class. The high points came when he read the bad ones and made fun of them, but he read the good ones as well, and wouldn’t you know it, mine were often featured. Except that one time I didn’t even do a very good job of exploring the topic; I just wrote a really entertaining (albeit) weird piece and he gave it the highest grade in the class because it was nothing if not memorable. Again, it’s easy to go up your own ass when you’re the only one calling the shots. It’s part of the reason I think Kubrick’s last masterpiece was A Clockwork Orange. The man was a genius, but to call him a control freak is putting it mildly.

I’m listening to Rent as I write this. It’s not bad. I listened to it as a high school theater nerd and thought it was the best thing I’d ever heard. I don’t still feel that way, but I sympathize with Mark, Roger, and Maureen. Maybe they are entitled assholes who don’t contribute anything. But they’re trying to. Roger’s music sucks and I’m not sure if Mark’s movie would really be any good, but honestly, who are they hurting by squatting in that loft? (Also, I saw somebody play Maureen as a dumb blonde once. It worked surprisingly well, especially her performance piece, which is actually really funny.) Benny doesn’t need the money; he can let his old friends stay there for nothing, and at the beginning of the show, he’s asking them to pay rent on the year they’ve already stayed, which seems like a half-assed way of trying to throw somebody out. I know people who hate that musical. I think it’s overlong and sentimental, but still powerful. Maybe I’ll think differently in another ten years. Then again, maybe not.

Suddenly, I have so much more respect for One Direction.

Water

water

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my mother and I had an argument a little while back in which she told me that she was worried that I was spending too much time alone. That’s probably true, but it’s not my fault. I still have a social life. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve hung out with anyone, but I’ve gone for months at a time like that and while I wouldn’t want to live through it again, it remains that I don’t need to go out partying every night to stay sane. Just every so often. What frustrates me is the feeling of having to go way out of my way to find someone to spend time with. It’s usually I who reach out, not the other way around. That needs to stop. I still don’t know what to do about it.

The irony is that my mother was correct when she said that she thought I might be “venting [my] frustrations on the internet”, but not in the way she thought. What do you picture when you hear that phrase? I see somebody leaving racist comments on YouTube. I’m not a troll. I can be a mouthy bastard, but I don’t say shit just to piss people off. More than likely, I’m the guy who mistakes a troll for somebody who is actually trying to start a discussion. They’re easy to spot on YouTube, less so on Facebook. I don’t use the Book of Faces quite as often as I used to (although I still check it multiple times a day—baby steps, people) because most of the interactions I have tend to be negative. I commented on a friend’s post about something, some friend of hers took exception to what I’d said, and when I said, “Who asked you?”, he said, “I could ask you that same question.” What is this, a fucking playground? I should have known better than to fall for that “I know you are, but what am I?” bullshit, but I hadn’t realized until then what a dbag he was. So I deleted all my responses to anything he’d said so that it looked like he was arguing with himself. Ha ha.

I don’t have to explain why what he said was obnoxious, do I? If you don’t get it, don’t bother to say so. I hate it when people try to resolve an argument by dragging you down to their level. Instead of responding to what you say, they just deflect it, as if both of you being wrong somehow makes them right. It’s the logic used by Aaron Eckhart’s character in Thank You For Smoking, and in case you were still on the fence about it, let me assure you that smoking is very, very bad for you. The person who benefits from stalling rational discussion and preventing anything from getting done is the enemy of the world. (“The Enemy of the World” is my favorite 2nd Doctor storyline. I had to work in a Doctor Who reference.) The tricky part is that nothing is very, very good at masquerading as something. Look at the Keystone XL Pipeline. That’s a whole lot of nothing. No, it’s not something. If you think it is, go away. That, or read a book not written by a right-wing nutjob. Please.

There is one thing that I have learned about relationships despite having never dated anyone: You don’t have to compromise on everything. Maybe I’m an asshole for saying this, but I get a little dose of schadenfreude from watching smug couples fall apart. It’s not that I’m parading around laughing at them or anything, but really, is there anything more irritating than somebody who acts like they’ve got it all figured out because they’ve found someone? They see having a partner as the endpoint, and everything after that is just coasting downhill. Happily partnered people, back me up here: It’s not at all like that, right? Being in a relationship doesn’t mean saying goodbye to all of your problems so much as seeing all of them played out on a larger scale. I’ve heard people say that they think of the period of their life prior to meeting their One and Only as a completely different phase. Of course, you can’t go around auditioning people to be the One; you kind of just find people you’d like to know better and go from there. If you choose the right one, you’ll want to keep knowing them better. I guess.

I refuse to think of what I’m doing these days as “finding myself”. I don’t know what that means. It sounds like something affluent white people do in big cities after graduating college in every TV show ever made. My problems these days are not so very different from the ones that I dealt with as a child. I still suffer from crushing existential dread much of the time, although my attitude might have altered slightly. Things have been a little slow lately. There might be a shakeup in the staff at the restaurant, which could be tough for me to adjust to. Also, we just had the slowest night I’ve ever seen. Nobody came in, except to get takeout. Nobody. I bring a book to read on my downtime and even I think that’s boring.

As Dr. Seuss once said, unslumping yourself is not easily done. I just have to double down on learning how to use my alone time. Because I will take that over being surrounded by the wrong people. I hope I never get desperate enough to let that change. In the meantime, I must ask you all to stay strong and, if you haven’t yet, check out Orphan Black. It’s a really, really, really good show. What’s more, nobody watches it, so you’ll look extra cool once everyone does (which they will). Mazel Tov!

fucks

In the Morning

I said when I left New York for California that I was going into what I thought of as an exile. It’s been over a year since that happened, and it really wasn’t my choice. I’ve never been able to uproot myself completely. I had a very awkward experience my freshman year of college when I returned to my high school to see the improv club perform and ended up performing in the show. It wasn’t like I was trying to pass myself off as a student, so I don’t suppose there was anything wrong with it, but man, did it ever feel weird. When I was in grad school, I frequently found myself wishing that I could pop by California for just a few hours or the same way that I spent many weekends in my first year of college at my parents’ house and still revisit my college town on occasion. (I’m not always there just to walk around. I have friends over there and sometimes, there’s a movie showing that isn’t available where I live.) I’m starting to worry that some of the people I hang out with are a bit too much like me. So maybe it’s time to get out of this town.

It’s probably better to feel as if you are leaving shit behind rather than getting out just to get away from all this stuff. And I definitely won’t be able to move back to NYC anytime soon, for reasons both financial and otherwise. What I know for certain is that I’m getting tired of this shit. I’m tired of this wussy climate. I’m tired of having to commute sometimes several hours in order to spend time with a friend. I’m tired of being reminded of shit that I did growing up but don’t really care about anymore. I don’t know if my high school has reunions, but if it does, I’m never going to one. That’s a promise.

A lot of my coworkers at the coffee shop knew each other previously. I didn’t know anyone there when I walked in and was older than most of them anyway, if only by a few years. I can’t help that I prefer to hold myself at kind of a distance from the LGBT community. I hate it when people say, “Being gay is only a small part of who I am” because no, it isn’t; I just think that it’s a mistake to define yourself in terms of how well you do or don’t fit in with a particular group. It is one thing to look at certain issues through rainbow-colored lenses and quite another to make everything about gender and sexuality. The former is not only fine but vital and perhaps even inevitable. The latter is dull. Dull, dull, dull. And I know I’ve talked about this before but that doesn’t make it any less true.

I worried for a long time about how I was going to keep in touch with all my friends when we lived on opposite sides of the country. The obvious answer to that is that sometimes people drift apart. The ones that don’t stay in contact via Skype or social media or Pony Express or telegraph or whatever the hell else you’ve got. And I think the rocky quality of my social life up until this point is due to the fear that my friends will forget me if I don’t stay in constant contact with them. One of my best friends from college is getting his Ph.D in condensed matter physics at Urbana-Champaign Illinois. I haven’t seen him in over three years, but you had better believe I want to see him again. I hope he feels the same way about me. Because we haven’t talked in a while.

Maybe the frustration here is that I can’t seem to distinguish between people who are really important to me and people who are only kind of important. It’s okay, I guess, to have friendly acquaintances with whom you exchange Christmas cards but don’t actually see much if at all, but then again, writing Christmas cards sounds like a real drag. My parents sit down to do them every year around December and…God no, I don’t want to go there.

There are a lot of nice people in the world, but as for people I would actually want to get to know, the list is rather short. Someday, I might like to meet my heroes, but of course, there’s nothing that says I should have to be friends with them. When I leave this state for good, perhaps it will feel necessary more than anything else. I’m not itching to get out of here, but the fact remains that I never really liked it all that much to begin with. And I might return periodically for the holidays and whatnot, but don’t count on it. Because people need to reach out to me from time to time, and while I didn’t write this to point fingers at anyone, I think some of them could try a little harder on that front. Of course, the ones I’d really want to see this probably aren’t the ones reading it. So it goes.

It should not come as news to most of you that reading YouTube comments is a bad idea. I still do it sometimes for reasons I can’t begin to fathom. After reading way more of them than any reasonable person should, I have concluded that most people are fucking idiots, and that most of the racist/misogynistic stuff attacking Obama/Anita Sarkeesian/Nelson Mandela/Dora the Explorer/whoever the fuck the trolls are after these days are left by a small group of people with diagnosable mental disorders brought together by a shared need to live in a bigoted fantasy rather than the real world. It’s pretty much the only way I can maintain my faith in humanity. Not that there was much of that to begin with.

 

The Stranger

crosswordI don’t know if I’ve ever completed a crossword puzzle, which is strange, because I’ve tried to do so dozens, if not hundreds of times. Even the easy ones, like the New York Times’s on Monday, still trip me up sometimes. Ever have only one space left to fill in, but you can’t figure out which letter goes there? You cycle through the entire alphabet multiple times and still have no idea what the word is. That’s happened to me many, many times. I have no idea why I’m sharing this now.

A lot of people I know are still getting their education. If I remember right, my father didn’t stop going to college until he decided it was time to have kids. He likes going to school. He’s also boring. Depending on which quarto of the play you are referring to, Hamlet could be anywhere from seventeen to thirty. He strikes me as one of those guys who spends all of his early years doing nothing of interest before deciding to, you know, get on with his life by ending it. So I always did picture him as being in his early thirties. Maybe the reason I’m thinking of this is that I’m tired of people my age acting like they’re already old. There’s a lot of backwards thinking going on with people my age. They think they know how their future is supposed to look, so they reshape everything right now in accordance with what their life is “supposed” to be when they’re older. You can’t see your significant other as representing maturity and your friends as representing the past. The future you envision will never exist.

It’s still hard to get out of bed in the morning. I think of myself as a morning person, but I rarely get up early anymore because there’s no reason to. I get home from work and still need to unwind, but it’s already 11 due to my schedule. No, I’m not going to get a 9-to-5 job, don’t you even suggest it. I need to find more things with which to fill up the rest of my schedule. Maybe I should try getting outdoors more. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a hike or anything of the sort. I saw What If, that Daniel Radcliffe romcom a little while ago, and before the film, I saw a trailer for that stupid Hector and the Search for Happiness movie with Simon Pegg. It might as well have been called Self-Help Clichés: The Movie, because the instant the words, “Sometimes in order to find yourself” came up onscreen, I turned to the person next to me and said, “You have to get a little lost” just before those exact words appeared. Actually, I didn’t say it out loud because I have no friends and see movies alone, but you see my point. Talking to people is weird.

I’ve never understood people who are obsessed with fitness. I know working out releases endorphins and shit, but why focus your whole life around it? I guess some people just love that feeling of self-betterment and pushing themselves to see what they are capable of. And on that level, I guess it makes sense. All I know is that I can’t imagine monitoring every calorie I eat and spending three hours in the gym every day. I’m not going to say that I don’t drool over guys with perfect Abercrombie & Fitch bodies, only that having 0% body fat and eating nothing but chicken and eggs is not all that healthy. In the long run, it’s probably better to enjoy the occasional dessert, although that could just be me rationalizing my own vices. I should probably be proud of the fact that even though I don’t go to the gym three times a week like I used to, I still go around once a week or so. So I haven’t completely fallen off the wagon, but getting motivated is tough.

I read something interesting a little while ago. Apparently, the definition of “happy” that Thomas Jefferson refers to in the Declaration of Independence is a little bit different from how it is conventionally understood. Happiness isn’t so much a state of constant positive emotion as it is the feeling of having a pursuit of some kind. I can get behind that. I don’t think you have to be a good person to be happy, and I don’t think you have to be a happy person to be good. The world is messy and complicated that way. But as Tig Notaro said after having a really, really rough year, it’s useful to have something to look forward to. Dr. Joyce Brothers once talked a woman out of killing herself by telling her that she should stick around to see one of her former students (the suicidal woman was a teacher) get married. Of course, when you put all of your stock in your future, it tends to fall through. Life is shitty that way.

garfield

I could use a little bit more comfort in my life. I kind of feel like I’ve earned it. Unfortunately, even that has to come on my terms. One thing that I’ve been thinking I should do sometime soon is watch more educational programming. I notice that the original Cosmos and David Attenborough’s The Life of Birds are available on YouTube. So I’ll have to get around to that at some point. Also, because Halloween is coming up, I’ve been watching more horror films. Updates on that to follow. By the way, does anybody remember the Garfield Halloween special? That scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. It’s fun to play dress-up, but I haven’t done that since high school. Maybe someday.

Sleep well, my children.