The Desolation of Robot King



I’ve always been more of a Daily Show person than a Colbert Report person. I guess I just like my humor a little more straightforward. In case anyone has noticed, I’ve tried writing this post several times before, having put something up and taken it down at least twice before. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm. I don’t usually write like this, but these past few weeks have been a bit tumultuous. You ever have those days where you wake up wanting to watch the whole world burn? Yeah, I’ve been having a little bit of that lately. It’s a combination of financial stress, time-management problems, and the interpersonal friction that can happen when you spend prolonged amounts of time around the same group of people. I’m trying to remember the line from that David Foster Wallace speech I’ve posted once or twice: “This is water.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it or check YouTube. I don’t feel like linking to it again.

chris rockI’m having more trouble going to bed lately. I like to think of myself as a morning person, but since I can’t just go to bed after getting home late in the evening, I always need a few hours to unwind, meaning that I typically go to bed around 1 am these days. This needs to stop. I just can’t seem to turn my brain off, and on countless occasions, I’ve gone to bed, then gotten up to watch some silly YouTube video or something that I thought about watching earlier but didn’t get around to. How does something that tiny lodge itself so deeply in your brain? Sometimes that happens multiple times in a night and I overcompensate by staying up until 1:30 or 2 as if to say, “What do you want from me?” I’ve missed one or two shifts at my new job because I keep misreading my schedule and it makes me furious. I need every dollar I can get, yet more than once, I have come in to work only to find that I’m supposed to stay later than I thought (but still have to leave early because I already made plans) or gotten a call from my supervisor saying that I was supposed to come in today. I am very, very careful in copying down my schedule every week, yet somehow, that still happens. What the fuck, universe?

I’m generally pretty reliable when it comes to shit like this. I have locked myself out of my car (once), locked myself out of my apartment (once), and recently locked myself out of my locker at the gym for the first time. (I had to get somebody else to run and get an employee because I couldn’t go running out there in just a towel.) Something is out of joint. I know nobody’s perfect, but there’s a reason I solve jigsaw puzzles for fun and write a blog that’s all about hating humanity: it’s because I’m a perfectionist. Specifically, I’m an INFJ with OCD, and yes, I have used that line before. One on hand, maybe it means that I’ll save the world that day. Because I do see things that other people don’t see. I often tell other people that they are wrong about something despite having less firsthand knowledge of the subject than they do. And you know what? I’m usually right.

My supervisor doesn’t even seem to much mind that I keep screwing up my schedule. That’s not the point. When I was doing theater back in high school and didn’t get a part I wanted, my mother thought I was being a spoiled diva by storming around the house. She didn’t get it, either, which is part of the reason why I keep my distance from her these days. I was angry at myself for not getting a role that I was certain I could have played. It wasn’t my fault; the director liked someone else and there was nothing I could do about it. (The dude did fine in the role, by the way, but I was kind of competitive with him. He’s a nice fellow, but kinda boring. I’m not.) When I turned on my phone today and saw that I had a voicemail, I prayed that it was my mother for the first time ever. Of course, it wasn’t. I’ve had enough of a hassle working with my student loans and trying to get my employment situation straightened out. It might actually be nice to get a message from her saying, “Call me sometime. Bye.” Because I don’t have to worry about that, you see.

I’m going to have to see The Hobbit sometime, probably next week. What I’ve heard about it is that it’s the worst of the three, which is kinda depressing considering the lukewarm opinion I had of the first two. What happened to the Peter Jackson who was both a technical wizard and a strong storyteller? Neither of those elements are on display in these films. They are bloated and overlong, and they look like video games. I guess he just got carried away with himself. Stephen Colbert is, like, the biggest Tolkien nerd on the planet. I love Tolkien, but I don’t feel the need to know everything about him. Colbert’s humor is more “out there” than Stewart’s ever was. When one of his bits flops, I often find myself scratching my head wondering what he was even going for in the first place. Since the news is filtered through the lens of the character he plays, it’s not as grounded. Stewart just reacts to the news; Colbert tries to insert himself into it. It’s funny, though.

I like to think of what I’m going through these days as nothing more than growing pains. I’ve asked a couple friends for financial assistance and we’ll see if I get it. Just don’t feel sorry for me, that’s all. I have enough problems of my own. I can’t carry yours around, too.


Faith and Why It Matters


I Googled “faith” and got boring motivational stuff, so I’m using her instead.

It’s taking me longer and longer to get out of bed in the morning. I’ve always said that I have one goal in life and one goal only: to wake up every morning not feeling like shit. I almost always fail. These days, I tend to get a decent amount of sleep, but want to spend the first couple hours of my day sitting in bed dicking around on my laptop. We’ve all been there, right?

The problem with this is that it throws off my rhythm. I think of myself as a morning person, but sometimes I don’t get around to eating breakfast until 11 or later. Then, since I like to wait a few hours between meals, I might not get around to eating lunch until 2 or 3. Dinner could be 8 or later. That’s not that late, but it’s later than I’d like it to be, especially because I like to go to bed around 10:30, but often don’t finish the stuff I need to do each day until close to midnight. This needs to change. You should go to bed because you’ve done what you need to do, not just because you’re tired. It’s not a sustainable mode of living.

I’ve been in and out of therapy over the years. I saw a shrink once, too, although she wasn’t very helpful. I’ve had OCD and hypochondria so bad that I could barely even function in day-to-day life anymore. My family could see that something was wrong, but they didn’t really help all that much either, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m not going to go into any more detail there. If there’s one thing I don’t need, it’s people feeling sorry for me. I’m good at wallowing in self-pity. I do it all the time. In all honesty, I think it can be quite healthy. Did you just get dumped? Eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and rewatch The Princess Bride, followed by Casablanca. Bring a box of tissues. It’s okay.

I think part of the reason people tend to either overshare or avoid discussing serious matters on the internet is that they still don’t know what to make of it. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t argue with people on Facebook because it’s harder to communicate through writing than through face-to-face interactions. Of course, the person who told me that did so on Facebook, so I’ll go ahead and assume that his intentions were to put me in my place because he is a self-righteous douche. There is nothing wrong with being honest on the internet, and besides, if you honestly think arguing on Facebook is pointless, you shouldn’t wait until you realize that you’re losing to tell the person you’re arguing with that you have better things to do. There are more important things in life than getting the last word.

I don’t much care for this Republican idea that anyone who doesn’t or can’t work for what they have doesn’t deserve to have it. No matter who you are, I can guarantee that somebody has helped you out at some point in your life. You are not special. The rules that apply to everyone else apply to you as well. If your response to somebody asking for a favor is, “What’s in it for me?”, you’re doing it wrong. What’s wrong with this view is simple: it’s shortsighted. Sometimes, what you did comes back around, and the person who you helped out ages ago swoops in to help you at a crucial moment. And sometimes it doesn’t, in which case you should definitely do the whole wallow in self-pity thing that I just talked about. That’s not as much fun as it sounds, but it’ll help.

My mother still goes to church every Sunday. My father identifies as Catholic, but doesn’t go to church. I gave up on that years ago. Catholic masses are boring anyway. That said, I have little use for this Richard Dawkins bullshit that people who believe are simply “childish” or intellectually immature. I may think the Bible is a load of fairy tales, but I can think of way worse places to start trying to understand the unknown than there. Believers aren’t after facts; they’re after stories. It’s about trying to make sense of the universe by looking for meaning in the things that we do. You might think that they’re reaching, but so what? Don’t we all do that from time to time?

The reason so many people need religion is that it helps them get through the day. It’s as simple as that. I try not to live my life with my head in the clouds, but it’s hard sometimes. I spent a year getting a masters degree, then, after months of trying unsuccessfully to get a job in a field related to what I’d studied, settled for a job in a coffee shop. There are worse places to work. I’m trying to get down to what really matters, to build up a daily routine that makes sense so that I won’t feel so bad when everything goes to shit. But there are infinite ways for something like that to go wrong. Things were looking promising in New York, but all of that depended on my finding a roommate who was not a total psycho. I failed at that, so the rest is irrelevant.

I hope to read the Bible someday. So far, I’ve read only a few books in the New Testament. It’s slow going. There is a lot of historical context and stuff that can throw off one’s understanding, and you might want to just skip all the stuff about who begat who. What I do know is that it was a text written by humans, not God, in an attempt to make sense of what was by definition unknowable. I respect that, even if I think they got a lot wrong.

Something Wicked

I’ve been listening to a lot of metal lately, and I’m starting to think of it in much the same way that I think of horror: a nice place to visit, but not somewhere I’d want to live. There is stuff that I like–Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, some of the goth metal groups like My Dying Bride–but the more extreme stuff (fuck you, Anaal Nathrakh) doesn’t do it for me. To my grumpy old man self, it just sounds like lots of pounding and screaming. By the same token, I have enjoyed horror movies campy (Bride of Frankenstein), psychological (Don’t Look Now), and slasher-y (Nightmare on Elm Street), but there is a certain point at which it just feels exploitative. I’m not just talking about torture porn. I saw the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and respected its lean, mean devotion to being as nasty and gruesome as possible, but can’t say I enjoyed it all that much. Maybe that’s where I draw the line.

The fun part about digging into horror/metal is learning about the subculture. There are people who live and breathe this shit, who spend all day watching/listening and debating it with their friends. I don’t want to become one of them. But the thought of spending all of one’s time obsessing over one facet of pop culture seems appealing at times. I try to be well-rounded. When I first got into movies, I was fourteen, and for a while, I actually thought it was possible to see every good movie ever made. Then I realized that that was idiotic. What I got out of it was a wide-ranging knowledge of cinema’s many movements and genres. You can ask me about the French New Wave, documentaries, 70s paranoia thrillers, and gross-out comedies. No matter what you try on me, I’ll probably have at least a little bit to say about it. As I get older, my tastes get more specialized. That’s as it should be.

I didn’t have much fun this summer. I went to my job, hung out with a few friends (literally just a few), had to get my computer replaced, masturbated, moved to Queens, then decided that wasn’t working and moved back in with my father. This is the third time I’ve done that. I’m hoping to make it the last. My mother is looking for jobs in California, and if she gets one, my father might move out of wherever he is to be with her by the end of the year. That gives me a few months to figure out what I’m going to do with myself, as I am not moving yet again just so that I can keep staying rent-free with him. That should be enough time. I haven’t done much job-hunting since getting back to Cali. Why should I? I had a weird summer, and if I want to take a week (or two, or three) to decompress, that’s my right. But I am looking, make no mistake. I have loose ends to tie up here. I knew that even when I came back a few weeks ago just to visit. A few days ago, I went for a drive around my old neighborhood. I hadn’t seen most of those streets in years, but during the years that I lived there, I walked some of them hundreds, if not thousands of times. It’s time to let go.

It’s taken me a long time to get this post right. I wrote a complete draft that was about something completely different, then threw it out and started all over again. I spent a long time on that draft. This is unusual for me. Usually, I write only one draft. But this past month and a half has had a two steps forward, one step back feel to it. I was going to get a job, furnish my apartment, and settle down. I would have pulled it off, too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids…er, I mean, if it wasn’t for my psychotic roommate. But honestly, I don’t think about him all that much anymore. He’s miserable, I guarantee you, and I’m not happy, but at least I’m moving forward.

One of the reasons I stuck around New York for slightly longer than I might have otherwise was to see my therapist one last time. I’d been seeing him for close to a year and yeah, he did some good. My parents sent me to a therapist when I was in eighth grade to help me with anger management and shit. He was okay. A few months later, they discovered I was a hypochondriac with OCD, and sent me to a shrink. She wasn’t very helpful, essentially asking me a few generic questions about my behavior and then badgering me about medications. (I didn’t want to take any. Since shrinks get kickbacks if they prescribe them, that was all she wanted to talk about. My mother sat in on the sessions. I still haven’t forgiven her for not jumping in and saying, “He doesn’t want to take medications; let it drop.” Fortunately, I only saw her twice. I guess my parents realized she wasn’t helping.)

That’s basically all for now. I saw The Descent recently, a top-notch horror movie from the guy who directed the “Blackwater” episode of Game of Thrones. Its premise is the standard stuff about people going into the wilderness and getting picked off by monsters, but since the cast is (almost) all-female, and they’re not helpless victims but seasoned outdoor explorers, it works. The film was released in America with a different ending that’s not horrible, but lacks the, shall we say, moralistic bleakness of the original. The American ending implies that you can get out, but never truly escape. The English ending implies that you might escape, but not if you care about revenge instead of redemption. I prefer the latter.

daliAlso, here’s a funny article satirizing TV antiheroes. Enjoy.