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.


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 Clich├ęs: 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.


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.


The first time I read Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden”, I thought it was a joke. Surely nobody could be this racist? But it turns out he was. There was no irony in Kipling’s writing: he believed that the white race was superior, and that it was their duty to civilize the savaged. There are those who believe it is their duty to willingly submit to their overlords, but strangely, I don’t think any of the brown people Kipling was domesticating ever wrote a poem from that perspective. (Kipling would argue that that’s because they aren’t literate or civilized enough to realize how uncivilized they are. Bigotry is self-rationalizing that way.)

robin hoodI seem to be experiencing a resurgent interest in classic adventure stories. Towards the end of middle school, I read the first handful of stories in A Thousand and One Nights. They were pretty good, but kind of predictable and all cut from the same cloth. In one incident, some dude ends up staying in a place for 99 nights that has 99 rooms. He is told not to open the door to the last room, but since he stays in one room each night and finds each room to be even more beautiful than the last, he just can’t help himself. I can’t remember exactly what happens when he opens the door to the last room, but it was pretty bad. Who could have seen that coming?

(If I had to pick a favorite swashbuckling movie, I’d go with The Adventures of Robin Hood, which has everything: romance, gallantry, hair-breadth escapes, all that good stuff. And at the center of all of that was Errol Flynn. Apparently, he was a party animal in real life, but he was perfect for that role.)

Why am I telling you all this? I don’t know. I guess I just had a lot of thoughts to unload. I’m trying to find things that will occupy my mind that don’t involve staring at a screen, but that takes time. I’m kind of glad that I don’t own a smartphone, because even though I don’t text very much, I would probably spend an inordinate amount of time browsing the web while I should be doing other things. Actually, I do that already, but a smartphone would just make it that much easier. I don’t hate the internet; I just don’t see why so much of it is necessary. In a way, that’s why I’m so suspicious of new technology. I can see why Google Glass is cool, but why the fuck does anybody need it? If there ever were a technology that could bring out my inner grumpy old man, that was it. What’s next, a cybernetic implant that allows you to stream Netflix and Spotify while texting and driving all at the same time?

Conversely, I don’t think there’s anything less “real” about the internet. I hate it when people tell me that I shouldn’t get into arguments on the internet, as if that’s somehow better than arguing in real life. 99% of the time, that’s just a cowardly way of saying, “You’re kicking my ass, so I’ll pretend you’re the one who just doesn’t get it and scamper away with my tail between my legs.” Ah, it’s good to see that my inner misanthrope is alive and well.

I don’t know if I’ve ever completed a crossword puzzle. Even the really easy ones in my school paper or the Monday New York Times ones, I could never seem to fill in all the way. Maybe it’s because I’m such a perfectionist that I have to make everything fit, but it’s hard for me to let go of something like that. You ever have only one space left in a word, but you cycle through all the letters in the alphabet and still can’t find one that fits? That happens to me a lot. People tell me I overthink things, which makes this the perfect medium in which to express myself. Sooner or later, common sense kicks in and I regain the ability to see the forest for the trees. When I took physics in high school, I noticed myself getting stuck on one-step problems even as I breezed through more complicated ones. Sometimes, the answer is so simple that I’m amazed no one else can see it. And sometimes, you bang your head against your desk for hours and still can’t see what’s obvious to everyone else. I need to learn to be more patient.

I’ve been told on one or two occasions that I was exhibiting sociopathic tendencies. There aren’t too many things that I’m sure of, but one of them is that I’m not a sociopath. There are some people who just take and take. The only reason they ever take an interest in somebody else is so that they can be like them. I’ve run into people like that, people who twist your words so that even when you say something that they agree with, they have to repeat it back to you like they thought of it first. That’s not sociopathy, but it is insecurity, and if I can’t defeat that, I can at least fight it.

This was one of my more rambling entries, to be sure. So I’m not even going to try to tie it all together. Instead, I’ll leave you with the words of the great Dr. House, who said that everything happens for a reason, we just might not know it at the time. He didn’t mean that in the fatalistic sense, but rather the purely logical cause-and-effect sense. I maintain that everyone has the power to find the answers they’re looking for. But even if you don’t know where you’re going, it kind of helps to know why you want to get there.


isle of the deadI spend way too much of my time thinking about death. Technically, everybody dies, but if you’re like me, you spend most of your time trying to straighten out your issues so that you can live, then realize that by the time that happens, you’ll be dead. So I guess you have to live in the meantime, or something. I am trying to master that Buddhist idea of mindfulness, of being aware of things without letting it get to you. I just hate it when people say, “Cherish every moment. It all goes by so fast.” No, it doesn’t. My memory is a jumble these days. I can’t distinguish between two years ago, two weeks and two decades. So I’m trying to get it straightened out. Because nothing is more annoying than meeting somebody and knowing instantly how your relationship with them will proceed. It’s nice to have surprises. Most of the ones I get are of the unpleasant variety, and I’m hoping that changes eventually.

I had a minor realization as I was making drinks recently. It’s hard to put into words. It wasn’t so much that I decided that I would have to move on eventually as that I figured out that I was almost ready to take on a little more. I’m not just talking about a second job, nor am I talking about getting my own place. I’m not graduating from anywhere, so as far as I’m concerned, I can keep doing this shit for as long as I like. Most of my jobs so far have ended either when I was fired, the summer ended and I had to go back to school, or my term as a student employee ended. For once, I might be able to end things on my own terms. But that shouldn’t be for a while now. We have a pretty high turnover rate where I work, and being a better barista no longer feels like the only thing I’m working towards.

I think the reason I like the It Gets Better campaign so much is that it doesn’t pretend that everything will be wonderful once you come out. Too many of the movies I watch on Netflix have that message. I watched an awful one called Geography Club a few months back that, like so others, was about a bland everyman protagonist who realized that being gay doesn’t have to be that big of a deal. Of course it’s not that big of a deal, that’s why you made a whole fucking movie about it. The one moment of truth came late in the film, when his closeted jock boyfriend says, “I don’t want to be gay. I want to be normal.” I think everyone can relate to that. Even if you’re not gay, you have surely had to deal with the feeling that you don’t fit in. Why the movie was not about the jock instead of the boring everyman, I have no idea. I watched another one just now called Edge of Seventeen that was actually decent. It didn’t sand the edges off of the experience the way so many others do, but still gave us a cypher of a protagonist who, instead of coming out so he can be with his boyfriend, basically comes out so he can have lots of sex. I wish like hell the movie had been about Lea Delaria and her queeny old friends instead. Those guys must have stories to tell.

I hate it when people say that the anticipation of something is more fun than the thing itself. If you’re a little kid who is too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve, maybe. But there is a truth that runs parallel to that with which I wholeheartedly agree: that having something to look forward to is a great motivator. Some might say it’s the best. It doesn’t have to be something really exciting, like a wedding or holding your first child. It can be something simpler, like a social gathering, a date, or even a job interview (provided that you actually want the job). I haven’t been to the movies in a while. I used to go more frequently. I’m thinking of seeing How to Train Your Dragon 2 because I like animation and I like dragons. For whatever reason, none of the big blockbusters that have come out in the past month or so have really drawn me, although I hear Edge of Tomorrow is much better than the ads made it look.

There has never been a point in my life at which I was absolutely pumped to start the day each morning. That’s why I rail so hard against the mythologizing of childhood. People talk about how happy and carefree they were. It seems to me that they are looking at the whole thing through rose-tinted glasses. I keep moving forward because all I have is the blind hope that whatever I’m working towards is better than this. I have to keep moving. People I went to high school with are getting married and having kids. I know it’s stupid to compare yourself to other people, but seriously, when do I get to conquer the world?

I find that my interests are getting more and more specific and nuanced. I keep wondering if I should take up role-playing games again, either tabletop or on the computer. When I was a child, my entire day revolved around computer games, usually either RTS or RPG. I miss those days, but only a little. I would spend the entire morning playing games, then go do other shit for the rest of the day because even I could see that you couldn’t do this all the time. If I’m out to recreate that experience now, it’s only to figure out what to do after I’m done playing games for the day. Because nobody can live a fantasy all the time. Even if you escape, you can’t live that escape more than once.