Safety Blankets

The world is a terrible, cold, unfeeling place. The only thing that makes me feel better are the “safety blankets” that I’ve developed over the years; those things that make me feel comfortable and safe.

Right now, music, whiskey, reefer, and bad T.V are my safety blankets. If I have the right dosage of all 4 of those things, I’ll be alright, and that’s so important to me.

I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ll either go to sleep at 11pm and wake up at 12pm, or I’ll be up until 3 or 4am, and wake up at 3 or 4pm. I’ve been trying to fall asleep sober, but it just doesn’t work. How does anyone sleep sober? It’s fucking impossible. I’ve tried everything I can think of; tea before bed, turning off all my devices and reading before bed, listening to jazz, going to bed early (this one’s the worst fucking piece of advice I’ve gotten so far), I’ve taken melatonin, Zzzquil, Ambien, you name it, I’ve probably tried it.

Wouldn’t you know it, whiskey and weed put you to sleep like nothing else. As I’m writing this, I’ve got a glass of Evan Williams and an edible in my system, so I’m hopefully going to get some sleep tonight. I’ve cut back on my usage though, because it got out of hand for awhile, and every once in awhile I still overdo it, but for the most part I’ve gotten a grip. Reefer is like a sleep cheat-code: no matter what time it is, a few hits off a joint, or a couple bong hits and I’ll be able to drift off into that sweet, sweet restful abyss. I hope there isn’t ever a time when it stops working, I’d be really screwed.

I don’t only need my safety blanket to sleep, I need it to talk to people too. I don’t like it, but I’ve gotten so awkward and anxious around people, so it’s in both our best interests that I have a couple drinks in me. Neither of us is going to enjoy the interaction if I’m sober. I used to be good with people. I used to be the guy my friends would send to talk to people because they couldn’t. I don’t know what happened to me. Maybe it was working at Dunks and dealing with the worst of humanity all day. Maybe it’s because I was always awkward, but had enough self-confidence to muscle through the awkward. Who knows.

Music is the safety blanket that is least harmful to me. I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the music I listen to, it’s kept me going in the times I’ve been drowning and can’t see the good in anything. Music is one of the few things that actually makes me feel things, which is super uncomfortable because it makes me think I’m dead inside. If I’m ever having one of those days, I have a playlist that’s specifically meant to break me out of it with all of the songs that make me smile and laugh. Music is the biggest help, it’s one of the few things that makes me happy when I’m sober, and that is so important to me. If I can figure out which album I’m in the mood for, I can determine how I’m feeling and begin to process that emotion. Everyone has there coping mechanisms, I’ve spent the last few years developing ones that won’t kill me, so I guess that’s progress.

I Don’t Want To Be A Townie

There is this guy I always see at my local dive, literally every time I’ve been to this place, no matter the time, this man is there. I don’t want to be that guy when I get older. He can’t be a good role model, good role models don’t drink beer by the pitcher at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday.

Sometimes I get lost thinking about the lives of other people, what they do with their days, what makes them happy, which moments they look forward to, and I think about how I would fare under those same conditions. I don’t want to be in this place long enough to grow old here. I don’t want to slowly see the places I grew up change and turn into something totally unrecognizable, and I definitely don’t want to bitch about it while I day-drink at at a bar located in a residential neighborhood.

I want the place I grew up to be a nostalgic memory that I look back fondly upon, not somewhere I would give anything to escape. I hope all the hard work I’ve put in pays off, that I’m not stuck tending bar at Finnegan’s when I’m 40.

I’ve been listening to Aventdale Bowling Club a lot recently, “Old Dogs” and “Home” are hitting a little differently lately. If you haven’t heard of Aventdale Bowling Club, go check it out, you won’t regret it. “Old Dogs” is a song about all the people who didn’t leave their hometown after graduation, and how their lives have turned out, over an incredible jazz instrumental. “Old Dogs” makes me think about that old man at the bar: he was a high school kid once, he had his whole life ahead of him, and he ended up stuck where he started. That just makes me sad. “Home” is a more mature, reflective song. “Home” is that first trip home after making something of yourself, which I really want to do someday, I just have to make something of myself first.

I Hate the Holidays

Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be. For me, Christmas is a giant pain in the ass. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending Christmas Day with my parents, but everything else just sucks.

When I was younger, I thought the Christmas Spirit was a real thing, because everyone seems happier during the holidays. Turns out, the Christmas Spirit is bourbon. Now that I’m older, I totally get why the adults seemed happy and cheerful: they were drinking to decompress from the stress of the season.

Christmastime especially sucks when you’re underemployed. I work a bullshit job that I hate, and all my relatives have kids who’ve gone off to work for NBC, or law school, or medical school, or are married already. When I tell them that I’m single, graduated, and living at home, they look at me the same way I look at people who play music loudly in public without headphones.

That’s another thing, whoever said “Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year” has never been yelled at by a 75-year old man because their eggnog latte “didn’t taste enough like eggnog” People are stressed out this time of year, and it makes them extra shitty sometimes, and we’re supposed to just smile through it?

I know I’m going full Bah Humbug here, but it’s true, Christmas sucks. The only things I like about it are 1) getting a tree and decorating it with the folks, 2) listening to the Frank Sinatra Christmas album, and 3) getting my parents gifts I know they’ll love. That’s it.

The Circles EP: 3 Stages of a Bender

I’ve written before about how much I love Mac Miller, but I don’t see enough love for the 3-song EP he released right before “Swimming” came out, and that’s a damn shame. DJBooth has an incredible article about it, but I’d like to share my own thoughts on the individual songs. I’ve had my issues with drinking and the like, and one night, after a couple of glasses of Irish whiskey, I came to the conclusion that this EP feels like a bender: one of those nights where you say “fuck it” and get lost in the sauce, and  additionally, dealing with the consequences of overindulging.

Programs

 

Off to see the wizard, lead the picture
Me and liquor, evil mixture, demons clitter
Clean the whiskers, seeking Mr. Fisherman
Back on my shit again, doin’ my own dance

This is the point in the night where you say to people “I’m fine, go away, let me have fun, I’m feeling myself.” Right before you throw up on yourself. This is the part of the night where you know you’ve gone too far, where your vision is blurry, your thoughts are scattered, you’re not thinking clearly, but you still think you’re on top of the world. This is the point where you know you’ve had enough, but that little voice in your head says “You’re fine, let’s see how far we can go.” I’ve been there too many times, and it’s never a good thing, but in that brief moment of time before you pass out, you feel happy, and that’s scary. ‘Programs” is also the only song on the EP that I could see being played at a party, it’s a trap-flavored banger that goes super hard, if you’re too fucked up to listen to the lyrics.

Buttons

 

There’s a world going crazy outside
But let’s pretend that it’s alright
We keep pretending that it’s alright

“I’m hungover and tired and I regret everything, so I’m going to ignore everyone and recover.” This is when reality comes knocking. You wake up in pain, both physically and mentally. You think about all the stupid shit you did last night, and you get worried, thinking to yourself “What the fuck did I do last night? How did I get home? Why is there a full Domino’s pizza and a stuffed tiger in my bed?” Whenever I overindulge, I just want to disappear and ignore everyone, because I’m embarrassed that I let things get out of hand. This is the kind of soft, gentle piano music that I usually put on when I’m hungover, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it won’t cause my head to explode in agony, and that’s just what the doctor ordered after a night of poisoning my liver.

Small Worlds

Yeah, nine times out of ten I get it wrong
That’s why I wrote this song, told myself to hold on
I can feel my fingers slippin’, in a motherfuckin’ instant I’ll be gone
Do you want it all if it’s all mediocre?

I’m glad that this is the song that made the album, it’s about the moment when you stop hating yourself and get back to business, which is an essential theme in “Swimming” There was a time in my life when I routinely drank myself stupid, like “Snooki from The Jersey Shore” stupid, and I always hated myself after, but as I’ve grown up, I’ve cut back a bit, but there are still times where I overdo it, but now I think to myself “I’ve got to pull myself together and get back to work. I’ve done some stupid shit, but I’ll learn from it and grow.” As my body recuperates, I start to look for more upbeat, cheerful music to inspire me to actually be productive, and those John Mayer guitar licks are exactly what I need to go from “slacker on the couch” to “productive member of society”

Fear and Loathing in Massachusetts

So, I’m a tad drunk, (shocker), and I’ve been thinking about the creative process, how the flow of ideas in my brain translates to the words I type out. I can’t control their generation, so I have to filter them for content. Due to my wonderful neurological disorder, I’m bombarded by thoughts every second of every day, and some of them aren’t pretty.

My thoughts are coming in free form jazz, with no semblance of structure or decorum, they just exist. I’m not blessed, I’m cursed by the inability to capitalize on the ideas I have, and when they don’t materialize, I feel like a lazy sack of donkey shit for not being focused enough to do anything with the gift I’ve been given. Wow, that’s such a douchey thing to say, there are millions of people who also got straight A’s in English who don’t think they’re gifted writers, so what makes me so fucking special?

Maybe bitching about how unhappy I am online isn’t healthy, maybe it’s just a coping mechanism, maybe I’m just full of myself and like to read my own writing, I really don’t know. What I do know is that Frank Sinatra sounds better on vinyl, Hunter S Thompson was a genius, and that Lil B the Based God is an internet icon.

An Ode To Finnegan’s

Home can be complicated, it can be where you live, it can be where you sleep, it can be where you feel most comfortable. I’m incredibly blessed to not only have a home, but to have a home away from home, away from home. Finnegan’s is where I went for my 21st birthday, and ever since I’ve felt at home there. Finnegan’s is such a big part of my life, so many noteworthy things have happened here; my friend Tim realized his girlfriend was the worst when she drove an hour and a half down to the bar because Tim didn’t respond to a text fast enough, it’s where I realized that I really like bluegrass music, it’s where I feel the most comfortable outside the creative prison I call my house, it’s where I discovered the second-best burger in town.

Finnegan’s is not your average dive bar, it’s 50% Dick’s Last Resort, 25% 1960’s watering hole, and 25% hipster hangout. If you can’t tell, I love this place, it’s where I feel relaxed, and that’s really important to me because there are so few places I can let my guard down and bullshit with the best of them. I have this annoying habit of trying to get out of my own head by listening to other people’s conversations, and the conversations I’ve overheard are worthy of their own podcast.

I have this really bad habit of losing faith in my writing ability when my posts don’t get viewed, and Fin’s, as my friends and I call it, is where I go to decompress and hide from the world. Fin’s is my Narnia: I can hide from the world here, I really need to do that sometimes.

Some people are afraid to come to Finnegan’s. Those same people probably wear life jackets in the pool. Fin’s may be a little rough around the edges, but that’s what I like about it, I’ll never have to worry about it being crowded, or the prices going up, or if they’ll run out of my favorite beer. Fin’s is consistent, it’s the Curren$y of bars: you know exactly what you’re going to get, and sometimes it’s better.

The people that come to Finnegan’s are a special breed, I’ve been offered cocaine, I’ve seen off-duty cops gossip like school girls, I’ve seen parents bitch about their kids, I’ve seen a 17-year old with a fake ID literally thrown out of the bar. I feel more confident talking to people at Fin’s than I do anywhere else, and that concerns me, I should be able to talk to people everywhere, but nobody’s perfect. I don’t know if I should be concerned that my creative juices flow best at a bar, or that the bartender has my drink waiting for me when she sees me, but I do know that this place is important to me, and is partly responsible for the man I am today.

Staring at the Abyss

Depression is a vile beast. I’ve been fighting it off for months now, but I can feel it starting to sink its claws into me, looking for any opening to fuck my life up. I like to call my depression “mind herpes” because it’s permanent, and flares up when you least expect it. The odd thing about it is that I’m probably less depressed than most people, which leads me to think that I’m overestimating how depressed I am, and that I don’t deserve to feel bad about it. It’s 3:23am now, and I’m on my 4th glass of Evan Williams Single Barrel (I can’t recommend this bourbon enough, try it now) and I’m trying to get to sleep, but I’m facing the familiar problem of having too much on my mind, so I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight. Good thing I have tomorrow off.

I don’t know how this happened to me, I have a life that most people would kill for, and I’m wasting it writing self-deprecating articles that 15 people will read. I think that I vastly overestimate my value to the world; when I was in high school I had these stupid dreams of being a Creative Director by 35. I’m 25 now, and the idea that I’ll gain enough advertising knowledge in the next decade to confidently direct people more creative than I am is laughable. Part of me thinks that all the time I’ve spent writing campaigns and taglines on the backs of receipt paper will be worth it, but the more realistic part of me knows that this is probably one of those fixations that comes with ADHD, and that it’ll pass. I’ve had so many potential careers: I was going to be a history teacher, that didn’t last. I was going to be a Wall Street analyst, that didn’t last. I was going to be an A&R for a music label, that didn’t last. How do you know what’s best for you when you can’t even trust your own brain?

I have made some progress in my battle with brain herpes, I don’t impulsively destroy things because I can anymore, and I can determine my level of depression now. I don’t know about anyone else, but whenever I feel the fog rolling in, I step back and assess it, what’s got my panties in a knot, how do I do what I need to do in order to keep going? My advice, unsolicited as it might be, is to make a scale between 1-10 and decide where you are on that scale. For me, a 1 is my usual baseline depression, nothing too harmful, nothing too helpful, just the usual emptiness that comes with being unhappy. I really don’t care too much until it gets to around a 5, where I start to get stuck in my head thinking about things I’ve done and the people I’ve hurt. This usually passes after a beer or two and some social interaction, but it’s unsettling how often I feel this way. If I’ve had an actual shitty day, I can get as high as a 7, where I’ll think about swerving into traffic, or an 8, where I’ll pick up a bottle at the store and listen to Mac Miller albums until I feel like I’m going to die the same way he did: fucked up and alone. Therapy doesn’t help, I’ve been to 5 different therapists, and not one has helped, so I have to try and get my shit together myself. I want to feel like I’ve done the best with what I’ve been given, but I know that’s not true.

My parents have been asking me when I’ll find a girl to settle down with and start a family with, and I don’t have the heart to tell them I’m terrified to have kids. How can I possibly teach someone how to be a person when I can barely be one myself? My parents are the best people I know, they both came from nothing, worked their way up from the bottom, and earned everything they have. All I’ve got is their last name. It sucks really, they’re such amazing people, their kid should’ve been president, or cured cancer, or invented something Earth-shattering, and all I’m doing is writing WordPress articles at my shitty minimum wage job. I don’t know why I’m even writing this post, it’s not going to be popular, nobody wants to hear some privileged asshole complain, I just hope that some other privileged asshole reads this and sees that they’re not alone, that their pain is just as real as everyone else’s.

OK, I’m starting to lose focus a bit now. We need to talk more about depression, it’s taking over our culture, killing our creatives, and influencing our legacy. I’m starting to lose track of my thoughts, so I’ll end with some wholesome shit. You can beat this, you are valuable, you are loved, fuck everyone else, do what you need to do.