Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Your Focus Determines Your Reality

I hate The Phantom Menace. There should be nothing surprising about that.

I don't hate The Phantom Menace because I felt it was rich with potential and horrendous with its execution or because it did not live up to the impossible standards I and every other Mick-aged nerd placed upon it. I don't hate it because of the obnoxious racism displayed in the depiction of certain non-human characters, nor do I hate it because it is simply a bad movie.

I hate The Phantom Menace because it is a bad movie that includes a line of dialogue that is full of wisdom, and which has needed to be applied to my life quite often over the past ten or fifteen or Hulk-knows-how-many years. And it seems a hateful thing for a line of dialogue that is so important to my well-being to come from such a shitty slice of cinema. Such wisdom, if culled from cinema, should only be found in great films. Like Big Trouble in Little China.

The line is, "Your focus determines your reality."

Doomed Qui-Gon says it to Anakin moments after the Jedi Council tells the little boy to go fuck himself, and it is - in part - this wisdom that allows Anakin to become a despotic piece of shit.

Qui-Gon is telling Mini-Vader that it doesn't matter whether or not Yoda green-lights him for Space Hogwarts. "Your focus determines your reality," he says. In other words, follow me, watch me, focus on me and the cool super-shit I do. And one day you will be able to do it. Your focus determines your reality. So it doesn't matter if the Jedi Council lets you in or not. Focus on becoming a jedi, and you will become a jedi, because that will be your reality. And then you will kill everyone. Because you're an asshole. But for now just focus on the jedi stuff.

As my last blog post may have revealed, my mind and soul have not been in the brightest and shiniest and happiest of places recently. My state of being has necessitated an up-tick in therapy, in leaning heavily on good friends who are worth more to me than oxygen, and with a little experimentation with antidepressants (doctor-supervised, mind you, I'm not just trying samples at Macy's).

For the past few weeks, every day has brought a psychic apocalypse. Every day has brought with it at least a few hours in which hope was a cruel joke. And yes I'm aware I live in a rich country and I have many things to be grateful for and blah blah blah self righteous hypocritical bullshit blah blah blah. Depression is not a phase. It is not a tantrum over missing the My Chemical Romance show. It does not ask my permission, and it does not follow rules of logic. It does not matter what I believe; it does not even matter what I know. Suffering from depression, at least as it manifests in me, is like being a Trump supporter: facts do not matter, and they have no value.

I'm starting to get unstuck. I'm living entire days without hating myself. It's tough. It does not feel sure or guaranteed. The gunk hasn't cleared off my sneaker yet. Occasionally my foot gets stuck to the ground, and I'm pretty sure I can pull it free, but if it doesn't pull away instantly, I'll start getting worried I'm stuck forever, that I'm moments away from that darkness that's just starting to wash away.

Romance and dating have not helped. They were, probably, a bad idea. I grew obsessed with getting responses, with "matching," with winning online validation. Some days, I was checking each app at least once every five minutes.

I ended all my accounts, deleted all my dating apps. To my surprise I have managed to stay off of them.

But before I did that, I started dating a lovely woman. And it is strange. Strange for me.

The beginning of dating usually goes one of two ways for me. I go on a date, it does not go well, and because it does not go well I hate the woman I went out with.

Or, the date goes well, and I instantly decide the woman I went out with must become the most prominent person in my life. Immediately.

With the woman I'm dating now, let's call her MJ, things are more, sane?

We had a coffee date. I liked her. She liked me. Wasn't smitten. We didn't text each other every five minutes. But I liked her. We had some good things in common. Had a date a week later.

On the second date, it was clear we still liked each other. We kissed at the end, just a little bit. Again, no super smitten time, but I like her. I think she likes me.

And that brings us to right now. She works two jobs and is very busy this week. I don't know when I will get to go out with her again. I am waiting to hear from her. She does not respond right away if/when I text her. Sometimes she doesn't text me back until the next day. I do not get the sense she is blowing me off, but that she just doesn't text all that much or allow her life to orbit her smart phone as much as the rest of us do.

And it is driving me fucking INSANE.

Mind you, I am not in love with her. I am not even, yet, in lust with her. She is sexy and I like her, but I'm not fantasizing about stuff. Okay, sure, I have and probably will again and in fact just mentioning it inspires some thoughts, but my point is that I'm not constantly hiding my lap because I'm thinking about her or anything like that. It's just that with every other woman I've dated, I've known by this point whether it was going somewhere or not. By this point, every other time, I've already been stupidly in stupid love and just waiting for the woman to let me do inappropriate things to her in order to consummate that love, or I have moved on. Or she has moved on. Two weeks and two dates? Only one date per week? Maybe fewer depending on how busy she is this week? That's like the speed of erosion. Like waiting for the New York State Senate to pass a budget.

And it is driving me fucking INSANE.

All I think about is will she call me today? Will she text me? Should I call her? Should I text her? If I call or text will she think it's nagging? If I don't call or text will she think it's neglectful? What if this doesn't work? What if we keep taking it slow and then after 32 years with only 5 and a half dates under our belts she decides she likes the kid who bags her groceries better? Should I be dating other people? Is she dating other people?

It's all I think about. All day. And I'm fucking tired of it. I can't take it. I can't endure it. It's fucking torture, and it is the definition of useless. I have no control over what she thinks or feels or plans. Doesn't matter. Facts don't matter and have no value. I go home and I hate myself and I am sure that I will die alone and, more importantly, live alone. My cats crawl on me and I assure myself this is the only love I will ever know, and then I watch 98 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Because if I won't, who will?

There is a question, a valid question, that I have been asking myself and I haven't been willing to admit it: What in my life is worth living for?

With as whiny as I can be, you probably wouldn't believe that it's something I haven't admitted, but it's true. Sure, when my depression grabs me, when everything becomes hopeless and worthless, I may psychically cry out, "WHAT IS THERE WORTH LIVING FOR?!?!?!?!" but it isn't a real question. I already know the answer: Nothing. I have nothing to live for. That's how I feel, at least, when I get that way. I don't think it's true right now, but when the hate and the sadness and the anger and everything Darthy has me, yeah, that's what I think, so the question is meaningless. It's a rhetorical question designed to do nothing but drive me deeper into the muck.

What I haven't been willing to face is that in my moments of relative sanity, I'm still asking the question, and in a way that means something. I actually want an answer, because I think maybe if I find the right answer, I won't need to ask anymore.

So I'm going to focus on my writing.

I'm going to write in the morning, I'm going to write at work, I'm going to write after work. I'm going to write on computers and if there's no computer, I will write on notebooks and loose leaf paper and post its and napkins and my arm and eggwich wrappers and bathroom walls. I will write when I hate it, when I want to do nothing but write, when I want to sleep, when I want to watch Netflix, when I want to play on my ipad and when I want to jerk off. I will write, write, write, until I fucking hate writing and then I will write until I love it again, because the alternative is not acceptable.

I don't know if my writing is the answer to what I have to live for. Maybe it's something else. Maybe in order to find something to live for, I will have to completely change my life. Maybe my life will have to undergo a revolution leaving my unrecognizable.

But whatever it is, whether it's writing or not, I know my cats and my Netflix and my ipad are not enough. I know whatever there is to live for cannot be found in the heart or mind or sex of someone else. If I have to search beyond the writing, I will, but I'm going to start there because it's what I know and it's the only thing I've ever wanted to do.

So. Yes.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Tomorrow is Yesterday: A Year Since the Surgery

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the surgery that carved cancer out of me, and I've been waiting for it to come and go so I can get the fuck on with my life.

Once the summer around here actually started looking like some kind of summer, my senses were busy bringing that time back to me. The first time I walked past my air conditioner, the cold air hit me in the face and something about the smell of it reminded me of the hospital after the surgery. And suddenly, in everything but my body, I was back there, waiting and praying to find the spot where the pain would go away, listening to the Jamaican PA hum gospel songs while she cleaned my bed, begging the anesthesiologist for something that would help the pain in my hip and having more trouble than I anticipated convincing him that no, I actually don't drink at all, I just haven't slept for two days, and that is why I'm hallucinating.

The happiest sound in the world was the sound of Amanda's anklets jingling. When I heard them coming from down the hall, I knew that would mean she would be there soon. She loved me. I loved her. And by the end of the year I broke up with her.

The year has not always been fun. I broke up with Amanda, I started dating Elaine, I broke up with Elaine. I can look back a year at the Facebook posts when Amanda was updating everyone about my surgery, and half the people throwing their thoughts and prayers at me wouldn't piss on me if I were on fire now. I lost the friends I had through her, I lost the friends I'd introduced her to, but I didn't die of cancer. And I don't have cancer.  So it can feel silly to complain.

Along with the smell of the air conditioner, other things brought me back to that time. Pains in my hip and back have returned, only briefly, just as friendly reminders. Like they thought I was throwing a reunion. My scar hurts every now and again. Because I spent so much time recovering from surgery in my living room recliner, a couple of weeks ago I rearranged the living room completely, in the hopes I could be there without being reminded of the pain I was always in, of the breathing thing I was supposed to use a couple of times per day that Amanda always nagged me about, of Amanda on her ipad or knitting on the love seat next to the recliner, of long days of nothing but hip pain and walking and being afraid.

I don't know if that's been at the heart of what's been going on with me. Maybe. I don't know. Regardless, my mind has not been a kind companion.

I've been calling them downturns or divebombs. They come mostly on weekdays, usually during the second half of the work day, and they are usually accompanied by thoughts of dating and companionship.

The world becomes a giant trap, an arcade of despair. I become a sore thumb, and the world is nothing but hammers. I am nothing. I am an insect. I am useless, hopeless, worthless. I will die alone, but more importantly I will live alone. I am unlovable, undesirable, unwantable and unfuckable. I am the Headless Horseman and Quasimodo and Frankenstein's monster. I am a cautionary tale. I am a joke. My life will serve as a punchline. I am an ant living in a world of giant, mean children with magnifying glasses and no lack of sunlight. I sit in my cubicle with my head in my hands. I sob on the drive home from work.

It gets to the point where I can just do nothing really. Bingeing doesn't even help anymore, even if bingeing was still a thing I'd be willing to do. Getting shitfaced might help for a couple of hours, but I go to enough fucking meetings. Who needs more?

I can sit in my recliner and I can watch Star Trek. That's about it. It calms me down. It makes it so I can sleep. So I can have the energy I need to go through it all the next day.

So I'm getting more therapy. Different antidepressants too.

I tried dating again, and then stopped, and then tried, and then stopped. Online dating makes me insane. It all but confirms my worst fears about how women see me. I want to stop doing it, want to forget about it for a while, but then I know I will still be miserable. I will be living in a world with all these lovely women with the their legs and their smiles and the wake of their perfume and every day will be me in a world full of something I can't have, and it will make me miserable and make me hate everyone and everything for being more beautiful than me.

You want to think the cancer scare will necessarily ignite some kind of life affirming Hollywood bullshit, right? You want to think it will make you appreciate life in a way you never could've before, like you were living with a film stretched over your eyes you didn't even know was there, and then the realization of death peels it off and suddenly the world you're taking in is some kind of HD you've never truly seen. You suddenly know what's really important. What really matters.

But it's not automatic apparently, and that makes you feel even shittier. Like, you're the one asshole who doesn't win some kind of spiritual rebirth from a tumor. You are not the star of the movie, someone else is the star of the movie, some guy in the other room who's giving away all of his money and wants to do nothing but, like, peel potatoes for the homeless or something, that guy is the star of the movie. And the movie will be named something with a verb, and then his name. Like if his name is George, the movie will be named Finding George or Saving George. You will not be a star in the movie. You're just another asshole who might die.

I am getting better. I hope. The cancer is gone, and I'm fighting the divebombs. I'm writing. I'm exercising. I'm getting out of my apartment. A little.

The truth about me that I find so horrible to admit is how much I actually need people. I have spent most of my life as a loner, but not because I didn't want to be around people. Because my childhood proved to me that they wanted nothing to do with me, so eventually it became more comfortable to pre-emptively separate myself.

It feels bad to be disconnected. It feels like nothing you do is real. Like you are the sound in the forest that no one hears. And if nothing you do is real, why bother doing?

I want to be life affirming. I want to end this loud and roaring. But the truth is I'm scared. The antidepressants make me drowsy and the lonely makes me sad and angry. I don't want to go down the road the divebombs want to take me down.

What's truly fucked up, seriously, is that as it's happening, as I am telling myself and believing all of these shitty things - that I am utterly undesirable, that I am worthless, that I will live and die alone, etc. - I know it's not true. I know it. Really. I know I'm desirable. I've noticed women noticing me. I can smile at a woman I don't know and feel confident she'll smile back. If they let me try, I know the sounds I can get out of them.

But during the divebombs, it's like a Trump rally: facts don't matter. To admit to myself that I'm okay, that I have a lot to offer, that anyone in the world would want me; it feels like a fairy tale. It feels like a delusion. It feels like I'm trying to convince you that Gal Gadot and Scarlett Johansen are feuding with each other over who gets to text me nude shots.

And, you know, I don't think it's really about that in the end. It's not about women or dating or self esteem or whether I will live alone or die alone. It's a wrestling match with that simple question of what is the fucking point here, man?  Why do I endure? I am connected to no one and nothing. I live for cats.

I am making more money than I ever have. I'm losing weight. The clothes I just bought because my older clothes were too baggy are, themselves, starting to get too baggy. On the outside, things couldn't be better.

To mark the first anniversary of the surgery, I'm getting a tattoo tomorrow afternoon. My first. I'm commemorating the surgery by paying someone to cut into me and give me something that will never leave.

Seems redundant.

Monday, July 10, 2017

I Hate Rope

A lot of times it goes like this:

1) Someone at work says something insulting in regards to my weight. They do not see this as insulting. They see this as good natured ribbing. This includes most of you. No, it does. It really, really does.

2) I initially receive this comment with the appearance of good humor. Once the exchange finishes, I reflect on how much I have grown for such a comment to not immediately darken my day, my mood, and everything. I continue with my work. Or, if appropriate, my avoidance of work.

3) As time passes during the day the comment gnaws at me, acts as indisputable evidence that my worst fears of how people see me are true, that no matter how much weight I've lost, no matter how hard I've worked, no matter how much I've faced, to everyone with breath and life and eyes that work I may very well be many things, but I am - first and foremost - fat. If I write a novel too good for a Pulitzer, if I climb a mountain too high for eagles, if I kill a dozen hookers and bury them in my basement; before I am novelist or a hero or even a serial killer, I will be fat. The fat writer. The fat mountain climber. The fat serial killer. The fat guy in the office. Fat, fat, fat.

4) It suddenly occurs to me perhaps I have not grown all that much because the anger and the sadness are all going in the same direction they always do; it's just at a nice simmer rather than a raging broil.

5) I hate everyone. I hate myself. I don't want to be in the world.

It was my intention to blog today. I wanted to blog about writing. It was not at all my intention to blog about my issues with self image and weight. However, I thought maybe if I blogged about that instead, I could cut the usual cycle off somewhere in the middle of #3. Or maybe #4. Anything, as long as I don't get to #5. I am convinced if I keep getting to #5 that #5 will kill me one day. That eventually, as Norm MacDonald recently put it in a stand up special, it will be time to go to the rope store. And I don't want to go to the rope store.

Unless they have some comic spinner racks. That might be cool.

Or if I need rope for something other than the implied activity. Like kidnapping. Or LARPing Pitfall.

Friday, May 26, 2017


A friend told me the first draft is really Draft Zero, and as far as my Fucking Novel goes, he's been proven about 63,000% correct.

My second draft is unrecognizable from my first. The first draft I wrote from first person POV in past tense. Draft two is from third person, present tense. Draft two will unfold differently and there's really no way to explain that without explaining the entire novel, so I'm not going to do that.

Suffice to say, Draft 1 and Draft 2 are like third cousins. Technically, they're related, but it's still totally legal for them to fuck.

Not really sure how the end of that metaphor translates, but whatever.

Thank Hulk I'm not in regular contact with any third cousins. Otherwise, they'd read that and, well, shit, who knows? Maybe they'd swipe right. And that could be horrible.

So anyway, back to writing. Yeah, so Draft 1 and Draft 2 are unrecognizable to one another. I originally assumed my second draft would, yes, include some rewriting, but it would mainly be editing, rearranging, lots of cutting and pasting. But no, I've pretty much started from scratch. That's why Draft 1, as my friend said, was really Draft Zero. You have to get Draft Zero out. Draft Zero is the loud, obnoxious fart you're embarrassed about in the public restroom right before your true business emerges.

Cousin fucking and defecation. My analogies this morning are precisely what you want to think about when you're eating breakfast.

So, a while back I got to a part in Draft 2 that is probably the most like Draft 1, but still wildly different. It's a long flashback. And as I was rewriting it, I decided there was a minor character in Draft 1 I wanted to make more prominent in Draft 2. Part of what I did to make the character more prominent, was to start writing a faux journal from that character's perspective.

Somewhere around 50 pages into this journal, and I realized I was putting what was essentially a long flashback in the middle of another long flashback.

So I cut out all the text from the journal, saved it in a different file, and promised myself I'd get back to it but that right now was the time to keep going with the original Flashback 1, so I could get to the other end of that and back into the present. In turn, that made me think, maybe I shouldn't be working on the flashback at all.  There were some things I wanted to add before the flashback, and in fact I was considering maybe introducing the flashback a little later,

And this, my friends, is why I am learning when it comes to writing the first and second draft of a novel, which are really - as my friend correctly said - the Zeroth and first draft of a novel - I need to just lay the tracks as fast as I can and shut the fuck up. No looking back because that goddamn train is coming.

The truth is that what makes this hard is You. Or, to be more accurate, the absence of You. I have been working on this novel, on and off, since the presidency of George W. Bush. I have had 6 girlfriends since I started this novel. Four jobs. One surgery.

And I am desperate to share it. I am desperate to get other people involved. You don't write a novel so you and only you can marvel at your fucking brilliance. But in workshopping the novel in bits and pieces, I have learned that it's not time. It's not time because feedback, at this point, can do nothing but hurt my process. And that's not the fault of the people offering feedback; it's just how things are. Any feedback, no matter what it is, no matter how it leans, will make me want to go back and change things, and after 13 years of working on a novel, going back one more time doesn't seem very goddamned productive. So while writing Draft 1/0, I promised myself I would not show it to anyone until I'd finished Draft 3. Draft 1/0, would be to just get it the fuck out of my head. Draft 2 would be to start seeing a real picture form. Draft 3 would be my first concerted effort to make it a presentable, coherent whole. Then, and only then, I would show it to people. And I still think that's the best way to go.

But it is so goddamn difficult to do something like this when no one else is involved. There is no validation, and in a way even though everyone in my life is very supportive, in a way it's almost impossible for anyone to truly be supportive because no one really has any idea what the fuck I'm doing. I certainly don't.

That's why this blog, I think, is important. It's the only way I know to get other people involved or invested in it before I'm done with Draft 3 which, at this rate, will need to be either handwritten or typed on an old school clackety-clack typewriter because civilization will fall and rise and fall again before I'm finished with this motherfucker.

Writing novels is hard. I'm glad I'm doing it. Finally. But it's hard.

I'm going to put that journal back in and move forward with that. No, it doesn't make sense to put a long flashback in a long flashback, but fuck it. None of you guys get to read it yet. I mean, none to you guys not in the NSA get to read it yet.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Misery and Bukowski and Real Life Rock

Miserable, miserable, miserable.

I was miserable yesterday and miserable the day before yesterday and today I was, like, "Yeah! I'm not miserable!" Then something happened and I'm totally miserable.

I won't say what happened because then I'll be worried the wrong person will see this or I'll have to block people when I post it on Facebook, and then I'll forget I blocked them from just this link and it will default to always blocking them and one day they'll be, like, "Hey Mick, you don't post anymore," and it will be a thing so whatever.

But I'm glad because I'm going out. Usually I plan to go out and then I'm miserable and I think it would be much more rewarding to stay home and be miserable. But not tonight. Don't know why tonight is the night I'm going to do something that makes sense. I guess I figured out all the other shit doesn't stop me from being miserable, so why not go where there are people?

Nothing exciting. Just going to go somewhere to read and write; the kind of place you can read and write and still be among people. I'm not sure where yet. Probably the place I know better. I kind of want to go to the place I don't know as well. It's closer. But it's smaller and the crowd is younger and I fear they will wonder who this old pervert is and I'll be, like, "This old pervert has a name! And you can find it on many sexual offender websites."

And I'm thinking, hey, maybe this could be the routine. I come home from work, throw food at the cats, throw some food in my face (and maybe update the blog while I eat), change my clothes, then go out. Somewhere. Somewhere I can read and write but not be stuck in an apartment.

Reading Bukowski cheered me up today. Isn't that weird? I think it's weird. I would not, if confronted by a miserable literature lover, say to them, "Read some Bukowski. It'll cheer you up." But it did.

I think it's because Bukowski, or the Bukowski he creates in his poems, is so accepting. Not happy, not particularly sane, but accepting. An asshole, but an accepting asshole. Yes, I'm broke and me and this woman are stuck in a motel with cops banging on the door, so I guess that's what life is now. Something so much more serene than all the shit I hear at the meetings about staircases; like fake it til you make it or let go and let God or serenity prayers or coins.

Of course, he was kind of an asshole.

I discovered something interesting this morning. Months ago I picked a bunch of books that I designated as my daily readers; that I would read just a little bit out of every day, books that seemed perfectly designed for just that. One of them is Real Life Rock, a collection of columns by Greil Marcus, mostly talking about music but also working in current events, films, novels, even just funny little moments he experienced. A friend introduced me to his stuff. He's brilliant, digging to a level you did not think could be reached with words, so much so that sometimes I honestly can't tell whether or not he liked whatever the hell he's talking about.

Anyway, reading one of Marcus's columns this morning relaxed me. Just relaxed me. Made me feel ready for writing, made me feel like this was always what I was supposed to do before writing. Reading something else, something you can depend on to be interesting and brief.

I like that.

Okay, time to post this stupid thing and go be somewhere else.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

No Future

I don't really know if there's any point to this.

I'm at Starbucks. I don't want to be at Starbucks. I'm not all Starbucks-hatey or anything, I just don't really want to be anywhere. I'm just going insane and I need to do something.

Yeah, so that whole sleep schedule thing? I was going to go to bed at 7:30 pm and wake up at 2:30 am? That's over. That's done. I felt just as miserable as always, and I felt trapped. I felt like I had forced myself onto a stupid, narrow little path. A path where I would see no one but the people at my day job and my cats.

So I'm back to my old schedule. Wake up around 4:30 am. Go to bed usually between 9:30 and 10. I have more than enough time to write if I don't spend all my time fucking around.

I really don't know how to live my life as me. Which seems silly. I've gotten a lot of practice. I have much more practice living life as me than I do living life as Kurt Russell or Meg Ryan or Denzel Washington, but somehow this idea of me living life as me is just so fucking colossal and stupidly insurmountable.

See, here's the thing, here's the problem. It's fortune telling. It's psychic powers. It's seeing the road ahead and seeing the twists and turns and knowing what's coming.

There's this Nine Inch Nails song; "Every Day Is Exactly The Same." And if you asked me to name a song that described my life, I might not name that song just because I wouldn't want to drag the mood down but, believe me, the fucking title would come to mind.

And the opening lines are, "I believe I can see the future/'Cause I repeat the same routine."

Which, now that I think about it, might be kind of redundant because that's what a routine is; repeating things. But whatever. He sold more albums than me. Doesn't matter.

I mention those lines, because I guess that's how I feel and what I think. I think this is what life is now, and since this is what life is now, this is what life will always be. And I know that's not right, unless I make it right. Unless I believe in it enough to make it that way.

We can do that, you know. We're fucking amazing; all of us. Like with fucking super powers.

For years, I thought I was hugely fat. Like, you know, the kind of fat that can't find clothes that fit unless you special order. The kind of fat you always hear about in some obscure story about some poor schmuck so huge they needed a construction vehicle to get them out of their apartment.

And I wasn't. I really wasn't. I was big, and yeah I was fat, but I wasn't that fat. And I look at pictures of myself now from before, from college, from right after college, and I don't know how I thought I was so fat. If I goddamn saw a guy who looked like I looked in college right now, I would hate that motherfucker for all of the sex I would assume he was having.

But I thought it. I believed it. And it took time, but I made it true. I got to 400 pounds before I decided to turn around and do something different.

I don't want to make this true again.

So I'm in Starbucks.

I am afraid, whether I find any financial success with my writing, that devotion to my writing will keep me alone. That I will live long and miserable and alone. By the time I'm old enough to die, everyone who would've come to my funeral will already be dead, so the only people at my funeral will be some guys with shovels. Maybe the guy who owns whatever comic book shop I'm frequenting at the time. He will be mourning a fat profit margin.

On weekdays, I leave my day job for my home and everything in me turns into something else. Until I leave for work I am alive and enjoying being alive and I have a sense of humor and I'm okay with this whole concept of other people existing and needing things from me, and then somewhere on 787, usually once we're past the I-90 merge and things are slowing down because of the inevitable accident near exit 9W, I remember what's coming. I remember that once I get into the apartment, that's it, man. I'll feed the cats, and then the time for doing things will stop. It will be time to be miserable and alone in dark rooms, desperately trying for something new to watch on Netflix that looks like something I might want to watch. It may be that I will have made plans.  Plenty of plans. Good, productive, laudable plans.  Reading and writing and cleaning and organizing and nothing that will happen. It will just be me, sitting somewhere, probably with cats on me, trying to not think about how alone I am but inevitably thinking about how alone I feel and wondering if it's possible that I will find the love of my life if I never leave my apartment and honestly wondering whether or not meeting the love of my life is, in fact, a thing I should do. A thing I should want. I think about those people who are single and have been single for ages and are totally fine being single and prefer being single and probably wear I Am Single Bitches badges and regularly trip any couples they see just for fun and wonder if I should be more like them. I think they are stronger than me and more powerful than me and they will write more and read more and accomplish more than me.

So I'm in Starbucks. Because I can't fucking stand being in that place all day. It's Saturday and I've got nowhere to be and I've got plenty I could do at home, but I just can't fucking stand being there all day. Because while I'm there, it's just me and there's no chance. No chance I will strike up a conversation. No friends to make. No new lovers to meet. Just me and my cats and my imagination and my various computers and comic books and toys.

And I mean, here, in Starbucks, probably no one's going to talk to me except when I go up to order coffee or if someone wants to, like, steal a chair from my table. But it could happen. It won't, but it could.

This is the best I can do. The most I can come out of hiding. This is it. Being among people while doing shit that keeps me separate from people. I don't start conversations with people I don't know. I don't flirt or pick up women. I do all the shit I would do if I did the shit I said I was going to do at home, at home.

I need to learn to be okay being alone. I'm trying.

It's hard.

And I think I'm a little hung over, too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Letting go

Trying something new today. It might be stupid. We'll see.

My existence is becoming very Jekyll/Hyde, with the transformation inspired not by chemicals or emotion, but by time.

In the morning, I am fucking glorious. Who thought I would ever be a "Morning Person?" Not me. Not me when I was writing all night in college and begging off any classes that started before 11 am. Not me when I was working the vampire shift at a public radio station.

But that's what I've become, out of necessity. Most of my writing gets done in the morning. It has to, because by the time I get home from my day job, I am spent. I am done. I can make all the plans I want, but if the day is a day whose name ends with a Y, then there's a very good chance that any planned or unplanned activity that does not have to do with dinner, my recliner, and/or Netflix will be laughed at and forgotten. Like Mike Dukakis.

I do not know how you people with children do it. Because you get home and you don't have a choice because your children are still there and bouncing around like little assholes. Maybe there's a lesson there to be learned. I'll never know.

Yesterday was something of an extreme and perfect example. I started off the day the best way I could. I woke up exactly when I planned to wake up, and when I woke up I did the thing you're supposed to do as a productive American immediately after waking up; I got out of bed. I did not stay in bed for 5 minutes or 10 minutes or 45 minutes or an hour and a half and suddenly wake up and go "holy fuck it's 9:30." No. I got out of bed and I went right to the treadmill and I walked on that motherfucker while I watched my new treadmill-only show; Voltron: Legendary Defender (sidenote: excellent show, and totally family friendly).

The rest of the morning was spent writing, contacting friends to let them know how super-awesome-happy-fun-time I felt, working my civil service job with diligence and fortitude and other got-my-shit-done words.

And then, everything turned around. Just snap, and suddenly I was back in high school and my world was despair and anger.  My world was the songs Trent Reznor cut out of Pretty Hate Machine because they were too dark.

Why? There was a reason, And anyone who knows me know I am not too embarrassed to tell the story. I am the Old Dark God of TMI. But I'm not going to tell the story. Because it's too long and I have shit to do. But was it about a woman? Yes, it was about a woman.

Okay. I'll tell the fucking story.

Real quick like bunny.

Okay, so while this is a concept unfamiliar to many, some people borrow things from the library that are not DVDs. I am one of these people.

Some months ago, shortly after my break up with my second-to-last girlfriend but before my break up with my last girlfriend, I went to pick up books at the library, and the woman behind the desk was gorgeous. Stunning. Clearly too young. The kind of woman I hate and love to see; love because duh, beautiful, and hate because there's no way to look at someone like her for more than a microsecond without it being obvious how smitten I am.

To myself and to my friends, I started referring to her as "Hot Librarian."

But I was still fresh from a break up. And she was clearly too young for me. And, probably more than anything, I'm very much a coward.

But, I always hoped when I went to pick up books it would be her behind the counter, that some opportunity would arise, that some braver Mick would emerge without warning. Sometimes it was her, usually not. Usually it was that mopey looking dude.

So, in ways that some might consider stalkery, I decided to find out more about the Hot Librarian. I learned her name. I learned her job at the library. I found her personal website and her Facebook page.

Yesterday, I got an email from my library that a book of short stories I'd ordered had arrived and was ready for pick up (Honored Guest by Joy Williams, at the suggestion of my friend Rich). This reminded me of Hot Librarian.

And on a memo note pad, at work, during lunch, I uh. Heh.


Yeah, so I did that.

And a while later, I happened to accidentally stumble upon her Facebook page by searching for her name and I saw that her profile picture had changed.

It was her, cheek-to-cheek.

With the fucking mopey looking dude.

You know in the old cartoons when a little snowball would roll down a snow covered mountain?  What would happen to it?

Yeah, that was me.

And it was so fucking absurd, man. I was crushed. I was crushed and I don't even. Fucking. Know her. I mean it's so many different kinds of insane. I'm 42 going on 16.

An old friend told me this weekend that I give away my heart too easily. Can't imagine how that idea blossomed.


Man, I am hopeless.

So, I got nothing done yesterday once I got home. That's a lie. I cleaned some dishes. I did that. I think I started watching a John Hodgman special on Netflix. Didn't like it. It was mainly him talking about his fame and trying to be ironically obnoxious about it but it kind of came off as being fully obnoxious and trying to hide it with ironic obnoxiousicity (yep, it's a word I made up; fuck you, red correct underlining; your MOM is spelled wrong).

I know what you're thinking. No, I don't, but I know what I imagine you might be thinking. I imagine you might be thinking, "Mick, that was a one time thing. You shouldn't, like, change your life because of one thing that happened on one day. Also, dude, you're kind of creepy with women."

As for the creepy, okay, not going to argue but there will be no admission of guilt.

As for the other thing, no, man, no. It's not a one-time thing. The fact that it was Hot Librarian's profile picture that dragged me down, sure, that specific manifestation was yesterday and just yesterday, but the result is not a one time thing, is not isolated, is not unique. It is every day or almost every day. Maybe it will be an upsetting news story. Maybe it will be someone looking at me in a funny way. Maybe it will be me getting stressed out over the fact that I discovered the ex-wife of one of my best friends works in my building and we're both still passing each other in the halls and parking relatively close to one another and arriving and leaving at approximately the same time every day and we're both pretending we don't recognize each other and I'm wondering when and if one of us will develop the testicles to say, "hey this is a few different species of stupid, can we just say hi?" Maybe it will be an ex-girlfriend texting me. Maybe it will be me learning that some evil motherfucker wrote a story for Marvel Comics that saw Bruce Banner being murdered by some racist archer piece of shit (BENDIS, YOU WHORE). Maybe, maybe, maybe. But it will be something. Something will trigger Hyde. For werewolves, it's the moon. Only difference with me is that I don't know what it will be. But just like them, I know it will always be something.

I will always get home from my day job with nothing left in me. Even if it's a good day and nothing triggers my insanity, I will be spent.

So I had this idea.

The morning.

I am a morning person now. In the morning I write. In the morning, I am full of love and hope and all that happy bullshit. In the morning, I don't hate anyone and I'm not creepy. In the morning, I open my office window and write while my cats sit on the sill are spellbound by the grassy, windy world they'd be too scared to step into if I left the door open all day. And I write.

So, what if I made my mornings longer?

I've been getting up at 4:30 every morning for a while. I know, I know, whatever, it's fucking early. But if I want to get on the treadmill (and exercising after work is about 50 times more impossible than writing after work), get ready for the day job and get at least an hour of writing in, I need that time.

Last night, I got in bed an hour and a half earlier than normal; at 8:30. And I woke up at 3 am. It's 6 am now and I've been writing for about an hour. I still have two hours before I have to leave for the day job, and everything's done. I've had breakfast, I'm dressed, I've spent my 40 minutes on the treadmill, I'm showered, I scooped out the cats' shitbox, and I haven't written a single creepy love letter to a too-young lovely woman.

Thankfully, my food needs are very specific but also simple. Both my lunch and dinner are already prepared. It doesn't take much.

I will have to work toward it steadily, but ultimately, I would like to be going to bed by 7:30 and waking up at 2 am. That's why I made my dinner already; so I can eat it as soon as I get home from the day job.

There will be difficulties. Two already spring to mind. First, while it will give me more time to write, it will likely make the day job more difficult. Second, because the rest of the world will not be adhering to my schedule, inevitably there will be conflicts. In most cases, as long as I learn to value myself and prioritize my goals, I will simply have to say no to things. But at some point I will have to go to something. Some social event. Some appointment. Something that will be after my new, silly bed time, and that will cause chaos.

But I'll deal with that shit when I have to deal with it.

And this whole experiment may turn out futile, I don't know. I may end up abandoning it five minutes from now. That's who I am. Big promises. Little follow through. But only in the things I genuinely want to do. Because those are only important to me.

There has been a conflict within me for years now that I'm just starting to see clearly. It is difficult to articulate. I will try.

I grew up needing to see myself as unique; as a rebel. I had to hold on to my nonconformity and raise it above my head like a trophy. I had to do this. Everything about me was being assaulted in a Christian, military, all-boys school, and my only salvation was to see myself as a tortured, unique, artistic genius. It was obnoxious, but I don't regret it. It was a crutch. But my leg was broken, and that's what crutches are fucking for.

But as I grew older, I needed different tools and I didn't have them. I grew up in an environment where I was a rebel just for reading a fucking book that wasn't assigned. And from there I met others like me, others who were creative and artistic and loved words more than sports, and I don't think I knew how to handle that. I should've found solace, but instead I didn't trust it. I didn't trust the concept of my not being the outsider. I had to be the outsider. If I was with frat boys, I quoted poets. If I was with poets, I got shit-faced and jumped in fountains. My motto was, "When in Rome, do the exact opposite of whatever those asshole Romans do." If I was with jocks I was an intellectual snob. If I was with intellectuals, I was an ape. The idea of fitting in felt like the most dangerous thing in the world. It felt like floating in space with nothing to hold onto.

In time, I realized all of this, and that's when I was really in trouble. Because realizing I had used being an outsider as a crutch again made me go in the opposite direction. The most important things became the things that were most important to everyone else. My writing was not as important as success with women or making more money. My writing was not as important as being invited to parties and being able to talk and relate to all the people my age who were golfing and marrying and raising kids and investing and who knew car models and paid attention to the financial news and knew who the new pop performers were and gave a single flying fuck about who was hosting the Oscars.

But at the same time, I genuinely did not care about any of that shit. I mean, okay, I care about money because, you know, food and shit. I cared about success with women because women are awesome and have all the fun parts and they're sweet and kissing them and cuddling with them and doing other things with them is fucking fantastic. But I didn't care about climbing indoor rock walls or cocktail parties or fantasy football or kids or mortgages or whether or not moving to change school districts was a good idea or maybe kind of racist. I don't. I really don't. Not trying to be Mr. Fucking Rebel here. I just don't. I'd rather bash myself in the face with a hot toaster than go to a Paint-N-Sip.

So I've been stuck, you know? I've been at war with myself, with neither side gaining ground. Unwilling to get in step with the rest of the world, and hating myself for being unwilling to get in step with the rest of the world.

And I guess right about now I'm thinking it's about time I just accepted that I will never be in step with the rest of the world. I do not want the things I am supposed to want. I do not want the house in the suburbs or the 2.5 kids or the crated designer dog with the invisible electric fence around the yard. I don't want the child leashes and the dinner parties.

I mean, listen guys, I'm not putting that shit down. I want to want that stuff. I just don't.

So, I think it's high time that I just accept that I will always be out of step with the world, and that that's cool. That's okay. And if it's okay for me to be out of step with the world, then it's okay for me to live stupid hours. It's okay for me to go to bed at 7:30 at night and wake up at 2 am. If that's what works for me.

I am afraid of being alone. I mean, living those hours does not necessarily promote a healthy social life, right? And it certainly limits the opportunities I will have to meet women. And what happens if I meet a woman and she asks if I want to go do something at 8 and I'm, like, "Yeah, I'll have been asleep a half hour by then?"

I go to these meetings. They're about a staircase and I'm not going into that here. That isn't what this blog is for or about. But I go to these meetings and for a lot of things they have slogans and I usually hate the fucking slogans. But one of the slogans is, "Let go and let God," and I think I am going to have to apply that to women. I can't refuse to do what I think is best for me for the sake of meeting women.

I am very afraid, guys. I am very afraid that I will never have a wife or anything like a wife. I think maybe it's my biggest fear.

So this is me letting go.

And letting Hulk.

I mean God.