Can’t spell funeral without “fun”

Somewhere amidst all the whiny bullshit I’ve posted in this thing for so long I seem to sometimes lead myself to actual tangible and cohesive answers to my problems. Then I come back 2-4 months later and post another one of these as if I learned nothing. Here’s a word I posted almost a year ago that I probably should have kept in my brain every day: deference. Listening to people. Making everyone feel good around me. Not being an asshole. That might have come in handy a couple of times.

Unfortunately, while generally helpful, that word doesn’t answer my problem at the moment. It might be nice for the funeral that I’m going to in four hours on a stupidly small amount of sleep, but even this funeral is not something I’m really bummed about. What I’m bummed about, once again, is family. I’m back in Virginia at my mother’s house, and I’m starting to hope this is the last time. Or at least close to it.

I got word from my sister that my mom plans to have another sit-down with me to talk about life and decisions, the latest in a series of condescending and insulting lectures from an unhappy woman who can’t let go of the idea that money and marriage are the keys to happiness, even when they fail repeatedly. I don’t know exactly how to tell her that her life is one of the greatest examples I’ve seen that those are not good ways to be happy at all, and that the happiest times of my life are those when I see her the least.

I know there’s a thousand teens whining out this same angsty war cry as I write this, but as someone who just turned 28 and is still unmarried and without a steady career or degree, I think I’m finally ready to just let this be my life. I’m not saying marriage and a career are out of the question, I’m just saying they aren’t top priorities. Being happy is the top priority. I believe it’s called hedonism when self-gratification becomes the highest aim in life, and it’s generally looked down upon, but I don’t see any other way to do it. I can’t let life be a chore. I’d honestly rather be dead.

I’ve been playing music for over a decade now. There’s no throwing that away at this point; it’d be like ripping out an IV that’s keeping me alive. I have to keep at it. I’m probably going to be back at this point over and over…unemployed, poor, and turning to people I don’t want to have to turn to for help. People are going to judge me for it. I’m going to judge me for it. But I don’t have to come back to a scoffing mother anymore. I’m too old for it.


Back at the top

I made it. I climbed from debt and eviction in New York to relative peace and comfort in Philadelphia that I had before I left. And now that I’m back to normal, predictably, I want nothing more than to get away from it.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. There are people and things in this city that I truly love, and in my late twenties I’m finally growing to appreciate the stuff I have. More than that, I’ve both learned and come to grips with the unwanted 90s kid fact that I probably won’t be particularly notable or spectacular to the general public. There’s just too many people, and the past 10,000 or so I’ve seen haven’t been anything special, so the odds aren’t too great. Fine by me. There’s plenty of entertainment, food, and places to explore in the world, and I’m actually pretty psyched to have the privilege of enjoying it all.

So what am I bummed out about? The weather, for sure. The darkness and the cold have been eating away at my mood relentlessly going on four months now, and the late shift at my job isn’t really helping. Yeah, I took the late shift. I volunteered for it, kind of, in the sense that I know I’m single and unburdened with kids and have the least to lose by sacrificing all my daylight hours. All I’ve lost is sunlight, self respect, and 90% of my social interactions on work days. It could be worse, I imagine, if I had a spouse or child to worry about.

Neither of those are permanent or major concerns, though. Spring will come around eventually, and I might be getting a new job offer as soon as today, which is exciting and stressful and weird. More on that later maybe. Back to the issue at hand: I’ve been doing late night whining like this off-and-on with various people for over 7 years now, and I haven’t located the thing that breaks the cycle. 

This sounds like it’s going to break into a wah-wah-why-am-I-still-alone post, and I’ll admit that thought crossed my mind for a second or two, but I’m being honest when I say that I don’t think being single is the problem. It’s frustrating to see my friends “move ahead” of me in life with significant others-turned-housemates-turned-fiancees-turned-spouses, but I feel worse for some of them than I do for myself because they thought all of that stuff was the answer. I mean who knows, maybe it is for some people, but I don’t think that’s my end-all thing.

I’ve said a lot that all I want to do is get a band of people together and tour about the country with them. It never seemed like too lofty or unattainable of a goal, but at this point I can really feel a goddamn biological clock ticking down to the day where I’m too old to make that dream happen. What then, huh? Hopefully some job at least lets me travel or something. There’s got to be some way to make it work out. I hope. If not, I’ll at least try some place warmer. That could help.



No, this isn’t a New Years resolution post. Pretty sure I already did one of those close to the end of the year last year. It’s actually kind of been working out, if you can believe that. Yes, it’s trite motivational speech-type obvious advice, but if you do everything to act like the person you want the people around you to act like, you get more people acting that way. And they generally like you, unless they’re the worst.

The person I’m going to write about today likes me and is definitely not the worst. I’ve written about a past experience with her where we went out and I found her personality to be not 100% for me, but she’s never been anything but nice, and is a very good looking girl. In fact, there’s nothing bad I can say about her, other than what I knew right from that first date: she’s not what I want. And I’m not what she wants. So why did I go out of my way to see her last night?

We’re both mature adults, in some sense of the word. I watch a bit more TV, play a lot more videogames, and have a much smaller affinity for children than she does, but we presumably both have the emotional maturity for a “casual” relationship that we both know can’t move to another level. I’m going to write a blog about it, she’s going to talk to some friends, and we’ll both agree it’s better to have a person to share the blankets with over this insanely cold winter. The bummer is of course what happens when the people we should be with come around and we’re still with one another. This sort of thing doesn’t end well; I’m almost sure of it.

So I guess that’s where I’m at right now. Worrying that I’ve casually made a casual decision that will casually get in the way of happiness for either of us at some point. And truthfully, I don’t actually need the crutch of having another person under the blankets, no matter how cold it gets. It is nice, though. I can’t say I really know what I want to do, but I do know I want it to warm up outside. I’ve been very happy for the past few weeks, but the body can only take so much snow and darkness and disappointment at the same time. I haven’t spent much time lately caring about finding the girl of my dreams, but once again I’m going to have to think about how badly I need to spend time with the girl I’m working with in her absence.


100% Completion

This is a big one today. Hoping to write enough here that nobody will attempt to read it, which is fine by me, because I’m going to try to dig pretty deep. It’s important to me that people can read it, though, because I have to remain liable for all the stupid stuff that goes on in my head. The times that I think I’m not, like in private messages to people, are when I get really nuts.

In speaking of nuts, I just completed every Steam achievement in Final Fantasy 7. I’m choosing not to be ashamed about it. It was, after all, a goal that I set for myself, and actually not an easy one. Yes, I’ve played through the game a number of times, but some of the things Steam asked for to show my “mastery” required absurd amounts of patience and took months. Also, this is a game that I haven’t shut up about since 1997, so this whole thing is really 16 years in the making. Okay, now I’m starting to sound ridiculous. The point is, I accomplished a goal over several months, and even if it wasn’t climbing Mount Everest or traveling around the world, it was something. Like any big goal, I faced some hard times…I got bored, wanted to play other games, and had trouble coming back to it after other more important things would come up in my life, but I also REALLY wanted to be the best at this game that I’ve played for so long and finally have proof of it. Now I do. The question that now arises, which I’m aware sounds very silly in this context, is: what else do I really want?

Final Fantasy 7 wasn’t the only thing I got into in high school and became passionate about. If you’ve read more than half of one of these blogs or know me as a person, you know that playing in bands is a very big part of my life and how I define myself. My desire to show that I’m a master entertainer is right up there with showing that I’m a master of a Square-Enix game from the late 90s, although admittedly quite a bit broader of a goal. Entertaining isn’t a specific mastery of a piece or collection of music, although being able to point at the large catalog of songs I’ve learned with different groups is nice. I’m not after mastering a specific instrument, either. I recognize that I’ve played some pretty crazy stuff on trombone that other people would not be able to, but I’m not out to compete with the top instrumentalists at it. Being a master entertainer, at least to me, is about owning a stage: engaging the audience, having a presence, performing with enough practice and skill to keep people drawn in, and leaving a lasting impression with them. Whether I do this with trombone, guitar, singing, telling jokes, or even storytelling is only of minor consequence to my ego.

So how the hell do I go about proving all that? I seem to have it locked pretty good in my head that I’m a master of all that stuff. Well, almost all. In all honesty, I’m no master at the first one I mentioned: engaging the audience. For all my words and words and words I’ve typed here and spoken to friends, I don’t consider myself a very good communicator, and it’s a field of self-improvement I’ve taken a lot of interest in for a long time.

I couldn’t tell you how many hours of podcasts I’ve listened to in the past six years, but I think “countless” sums up the general idea. Countless hours of listening to people communicate beautifully, effectively, and seemingly effortlessly, and I still don’t have it down? What am I not taking away from all of this? I can name one element off the top of my head that the audio fails to convey: deference. This is a word I almost never use and probably don’t respect as much as I should. It’s about not only listening to and respecting the words and emotions of whoever you’re engaging with, but showing them an openness and love that channels their best traits into what they’re saying. Being a great communicator is less about what you say and more about the feeling you create. My first goal in a post-Final Fantasy 7 achievement world is to project more love and comfort on those around me and not worry as much about how brilliant my next thought is going to be.

We’re still looking at a very broad goal that’s maybe narrow enough for a New Year’s resolution. What specific challenges am I going after before the end of the year? Well, the next three weekends for me feature at least one party and two shows with bands I don’t normally play with. See also: I’m interacting with a lot of people who aren’t part of my day-to-day life. If I can win them over as the likable guy I’d like them to see me as, it will hopefully pave a path for me to start being that guy more often, and eventually all the time.

So there it is. My next achievement to unlock. It ain’t 100%, but it’s a start. The road to master entertainer is going to be a long and difficult one, but I embrace that…it’s probably better to experience the things we’re doing in the moment than constantly race toward having the end results, right. Man, those results are going to be good, though.


I Wanna Work Payroll All Night And Party Never All Day

Time for some more good old-fashioned white people problems! Problems like: I have to work until midnight this week (gasp!), I have to see my family for the holidays soon (oh no!), and girls still aren’t flocking to me like in the axe commercials. Seriously though, I’m 27, and I’m still writing sentences that begin with “Seriously though, I’m 27.” You following me here? Why am I watching relationships flourish, bloom, and create new life around me while I continue waiting for the next girl who might let me buy her a margarita?

Okay, I should put that question in perspective. I know like 3 married couples that I really believe are happy, and while kids are the path they chose to take, I know it will never be mine. I also believe somewhat sincerely that if there’s a right girl for me, she’s not in this city. She might be as close as the suburbs, but she’s not the kind of person to hike out to the city for a guy that doesn’t have a car.

Is that a bad way to look at life? Probably. Will life prove me wrong? God, I hope so. It hasn’t for quite some time, though. I wish the dating part wasn’t so depressing. I like the idea of just drinking and grabbing nachos and getting to meet someone, but for some reason doing that three times with no follow-up appointments has been a little disappointing.

Man, I sound miserable. I’m really not. This is just Seasonal Affective Disorder or something. Caught a light cold as well. Just recorded an awesome song I wrote two days ago and I can’t wait for the world to hear it. Oh, and the new computer and speakers at my house right now are insane. I’d love to have someone to share them with. Blech. I’m the worst.


Here’s another case of lost identity

Ah yes, the classic Tumblr formula. I stay up later than I should on a worknight, alone with my thoughts, and post a half-assed blog title (usually from whatever song’s been stuck in my head lately), then try to pull together whatever I’ve been experiencing to fall under that umbrella. Tonight it’s a great song by the Suburban Legends, and maybe it’s actually relevant to the way I’ve been feeling. I assume everyone feels like they’ve lost a bit of who they are sometimes, or at least a gradual change in who they are as they get older. Probably a little less of the latter in my case.

Right out of the gate I should say that I’m fine, and in fact some would say that I’m very well off right now. This is definitely a first world white person problem I’m addressing as I sit at a gorgeous 27” state-of-the-art PC in a nice cozy living room next to an adorable pint-sized cat. I know all of this to be true, but still it’s in my blood as an entitled white guy to want more, right?

Just kidding. My brand of conquest has never really been one of physical belongings, as I tend to get tired of almost everything pretty quickly. I love this computer, I love my phone, my mp3 player, and the very comfortable mattress on my bed, and I think if I can manage to keep those things I’ll be all set on the “stuff I own” front. My mom’s taken a lot of interest in the way I dress, and does her best to keep me semi-respectable on that front, but I don’t care much as long as there’s something to wear every day without noticeable holes in it. I wear these clothes to my job, which teeters right on the edge of being too stressful, but it’s fine for now.

So what the hell do I want? I might as well come out and say it: I want a girl. Ugh, what a gross cliche thought for me to have. It probably doesn’t help that my parents, friends, coworkers, and people I’ve just met all routinely ask me who I’m seeing and ask why a nice guy like me doesn’t have a girlfriend. To answer those people, a girlfriend isn’t necessarily what I’m looking for; it’d just be nice to have a female presence around to keep me from just gathering achievements on Final Fantasy 7 every weekend for the next five months. I do want those achievements, but there’s got to be something else every other weekend or so, even if it’s just a TV show.

So why don’t I have that? Well, Reason Number One: I’ve been picky. A while ago, almost a year now, I had a few girls lined up for that spot and I didn’t see a viable future with any of them, even for more than a week. Since then there’s been candidates, but I’ve gained zero traction with them because of Reason Number Two: I’ve been lazy. I’m willing to be funny, charming, and engaging for about thirty minutes before I start reaching my threshold of wanting something engaging back from their end. I mean, yes, I get it. They’re nervous, I’m probably not whatever they’re used to, and the wooing is generally supposed to be the guy’s job. My only defense of my laziness is that if the girl and I really clicked the way I hear about in stories, movies, and podcasts, I would have no such threshold.

One podcast in particular that I’m thinking of was You Made It Weird, when Pete Holmes interviewed Tig Notaro about her new relationship, and she said “we shut down a restaurant together!” That statement sort of encapsulates it all for me - I want someone I can really get absorbed in and bounce ideas back and forth seamlessly and lose track of time. Given reasonable good looks and time for preliminary review, that someone could certainly be my girlfriend. These girls are out there. I’ve talked to some of them. I just have to take risks and put myself out there when I find them. And that is the vomit-inducingly cliche issue I’ve been living in for the past year. I might have a long weekend coming up very shortly here…going to see if I can make it a risky one.


I Wish I Could Quit You, Tumblr

Really, I do. I don’t even know how to post on this site…I’m
E-mailing the weird “Post By E-mail” address because I’m really that
confused as to how to even make a regular blog anymore. Sure, I’m drunk, but I feel like the world didn’t used to be this confusing. Maybe it 
still isn’t, though…maybe my house is just about to catch on fire.

Sorry, let me catch you guys up. It’s been quite a week. I knew it was
going to be rough because my officemate who picked up about half of my workload a couple of months back was out on paternity leave. Hey, babies happen! It’s his first. Very exciting. So I did double the amount of 
work this week. To add insult to injury, this was the same week that my
manager decided she was done with our CEO for good, and began looking for other jobs. This has drastically decreased the morale in the office, mine not least of all. As one of two unwilling leaders of the two 
biggest call centers in the office, this leaves me to consider a
drastically larger role in the company. A role nobody really wants.

That’s probably a bigger piece of this week’s stress than I’m giving it
credit for, but it hasn’t really been on my mind recently. More
recently, my roommate “broke up” with a girl he’d been seeing for the
past year. They weren’t dating, but it was assumed that this would
continue for some amount of time longer. It didn’t. She found someone
else. So him and I used this excuse to spend the weekend drinking. Yup,
I did too, even though nothing bad actually happened to me. I just like
the idea of drinking all weekend.

More than that, I like the idea of drinking every day. I feel like I
need to. Not just for the sake of tuning out all of the things that I
dislike about the world (although it’s been very good for that), I feel
like I need to really get into drinking to catch up with everyone else.
Ironically, everyone else seems to believe I already drink more than
enough and certainly more than is healthy, but if that’s the case, why
do I feel so far behind on this whole thing? I feel like I got into
bands in high school when all of the cool kids started drinking, and
have had bands filing up that part of my life for that past decade.

Now the bands are gone, and I don’t know if they’re coming back. All my
friends hit this stage at some point are another; god knows how I
managed to avoid it for so long. This is the part where I’m supposed to
leave Neverland and become a real person. It’s not the only option, and
I’m thoroughly exploring all the others, but it’s the big one. Stable
job, stable girl, family life. God, it sounds miserable right now. I
resent every person that gives into it. And I’m not far off.

What’s the best way to avoid this crushing inevitability? Alcohol.
Videogames. Comedy. Ohhh man, it’d be great to get into comedy. I’d
really like my schedule to be able to handle it. Even with the few open
mics I’ve done in this city, though, it seems like comedy is the kind of
thing that you have to give up on other paths to get into…paths like
“having friends outside of comedy” and “having a job that expects you to
show up on time each morning.” I don’t know if I’m ready to let go of
all of that stuff yet, and thusly I haven’t been out to an open mic in
about a month. Oops.

The point is, I don’t know what to do. I’m drifting around and waiting
for a sign, and I’m pretty sure the sign is not the Final Fantasy online
game that’s coming to devour all of my time next weekend. It seems like
it almost has to be a girl, but I don’t see how that could work. I’ve
listened to so many discussions about relationships and love as a
concept that all boil down to the core concept of “it seems bad” that I
don’t know if I can ever see them from a healthy perspective again. It’d
be nice, though.

I don’t know what the point of writing all of this was, and I don’t know
if it will post correctly. I’ve got a new computer and it’s pretty
great, so I should at least be happy about that. Yay for being able to
post on a wireless keyboard from my couch! Let’s hope I don’t get in the
mood to do it again any time soon. Also, my house has seen some very crazy power fluctuations lately. Yahoo answers says a power cord might be loose, which could lead to fires at any time. There’s something to look forward too! Goodnight everybody.


Get Back to Work

I’ve got precious little time to write this, because I spent the time that I meant to spend writing it last night passing out on my bed for what was supposed to be a quick 10-minute nap. It lasted over 9 hours. Oops. That happens sometimes. Good thing I’m not an adult that has to come home to real responsibilities that don’t let me do things like that!

Oh wait, but I am an adult. I’m turning 27 in a month. Not a whole lot to show for it, other than that I might have a salary by then. A huge part of me doesn’t care about that at all, but it’s amazing how that smaller more socially-conscious side has so much control of my life and those of everyone around me. Yes, this is the age of the hipster manchild, where every adult has a video game collection and an Adventure Time T-shirt. But as long as the term “manchild,” or even “hipster” exists, it’s evident that we’re still dealing with a lot of guilt about it.

As with everything that rises to the top of my mind, I feel like guilt is all I’ve been hearing about lately. Lots of theories in podcasts, and lots of it going around in my life. There always has been. Guilt is the reason I never got drunk in high school, barely ever had sex in college, and maybe the reason why I continue to hate so much of popular culture now. There’s a whole lot of it that I can’t remove. And a bit of it that I really need to.

I saw a guy my age on the subway the other day with an anime shirt and Adventure Time lanyard with his GameStop employee ID on it. My first thought was “at least I’m not that guy.” It was immediately followed by “why am I not that guy?” Why do we demonize wonder and fun, and accept responsibility and misery as necessary components of aging? Why can’t I wear fun stuff around and watch and play whatever I want? Maybe I will. I probably won’t.


The Duncan Trussel Family Hour Podcast

This was a podcast that was recommended to me by a friend of a friend that I didn’t know yet, but I knew the guy was a podcast listener. Something I’ve recently noticed about podcast listeners: they’re my favorite people. There’s a quality about them that I can’t instantly attribute to podcasts, but I always like them pretty quickly, I assume because they listen to likable people talk for several hours a week. Anyway, about the podcast: I’m glad it was recommended to me, and I’d be glad to recommend it to others, because Duncan seems especially good at reaching a great point of advice or wisdom from the guest every episode. Plus he interviewed Pendleton Ward and Jesse Alarcon, creators of Adventure Time. It’s all good!

Anyway, I guess the main point of Duncan’s show, and ultimately every podcast and piece of media I consume, is to provide an alternative to focusing on all the negative aspects of our lives and being miserable. The way he did this on the episode with Pendleton and Jesse was highlighting the fact that there’s nothing more precious and valuable than the time we spend alone doing anything we want to do, and the idea that we need constant romantic companionship might actually be as destructive as not. Duncan iterated that from the three girls he’s lived with, he doesn’t recommend it to others unless there’s plans to have kids.

Why did this three minutes of a podcast get to me? Probably because this entire year has revolved around potential girl partners that fell through. Am I surrendering to a bitter college-type “relationships are dumb and I’m now asexual out of spite” resolution to this? Kind of. This particular podcast was one of a number of things that happened on Friday that pushed me in the direction of not caring as much about that whole side of life, and I feel like I’ve been happier for it.

I’ve complained recently about life becoming some weird meat market where living and enjoying the moment has been hampered by my new sense of perception where I can see myself and others all doing this stupid thing. This weekend, that didn’t happen. I didn’t see it; I wasn’t trying to see it. I hope I can continue not seeing it, because it’s been nice. Also, I don’t have time for girls right now. Yeah, that excuse. Of course there’s never any time, and no time is ever great for anything, and of course I’ll take opportunities as I see them, but what I mean is that I can’t focus on that stuff anymore. I’m in debt, but I just met my boss about a raise at work, and my bands are starting to do well, and I’d really love to focus on all of that stuff instead of some weird lifelong lottery that assumes we’ll somehow find a partner forever and ever. Does that sound right? It’s been right for me recently. Hopefully that keeps up.


Unfinished basement

"Unfinished" is really an understatement for this area. I mean it’s probably as finished as it’s ever going to get, as this house has been around for over a decade and our landlord filed for bankruptcy this year, but dear god is it a serial killer’s dream down here. If you’re looking for uneven off-gray cement walls sparsely stained with colors of unknown origin, you’re in the right place. Random clothing and boxes filled with waterlogged trash? Sure. This is the perfect place to set up a desk, put on some first wave ska, and write a blog.

Okay, truth be told, this really isn’t the perfect place for anything. I have been practicing down here for the past few days, though, because I’m filling in for a band that requires me to be better than bad at trombone. The problem is that I feel like I haven’t practiced the damn thing in a couple of months, and my learning curve for getting it back has been far too gradual. The show is tomorrow, 4/20, at a house, if you wanted to come and get second-hand high from whatever kind of people come to something like that.

There’s probably going to be a girl at the show. Ooh, @temptathumor on Twitter, who’s the girl? Well, Twitter mom, you sound just like my manager at work, who asked just the same question. I said girls in this city seem to not take much interest in me because I’m 26 and haven’t really made any efforts to pull my life together. I mean, I have, but I’ve got three roommates, and all of this debt I’ve collected isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And I couldn’t tell you if I even know what I want with a girl right now.

The girl I’ve thought I had something for the whole year, the same one that I’ve been repeatedly advised to not get too deep into, finally managed to get the point across to me tonight. I went on another “friends date” with the group of men and women that usually convenes when I see her and watches us pathetically try to breach boundaries with one another and make physical contact for little to no reason. Great people all, of them. Tonight, they were joined by one extra person.

I’ll call him Mike, because he had kind of a Mike feel to him. He was great in a lot of ways, but spectacular and memorable in few, and not a particularly deep thinker or profound statement-maker. He’s into a lot of the same comedians that I am, and I found it strange that his jokes lacked a transcendent “I’m past the basics” quality that I was expecting. It wasn’t a matter of crowd-pleasing; I can speak to that as the resident expert on the subject. He’s just a Mike. He’s got some character, but fits into the background of most situations well. Tonight, he was with my something-girl. I couldn’t give any details of what the specifics are on that relationship, but the guy came into the event with her, and had no issues breaking personal bubble and regular comfort boundaries.

Seeing all of this, I knew I should have felt crushed. And I did, a little bit. But, more than that, I felt relieved. I’ve been freaked out about the situation with something-girl for forever. How could I possibly match up to a girl I’ve only seen be perfect? Well, tonight took care of that. It was uneven and splotchy and weird, like this weird basement and it’s incessant electric hum. My right brain knows that most people have their individual quirks and aren’t objectively better or worse than me, but it’s hard to convince the left brain, especially when those people are really really attractive

I’m not freaked out anymore. I’ll talk to the 4/20 girl. I accept that it could be a real disappointment for me, but my expectations really aren’t that high. I’ve messaged back and forth with her long enough to know we can hold a conversation, and that’s a start. We’ll see where it goes. Every basement starts with something; I should be fine as long as I don’t let the shit just sit around and pile up.