I’m not the same man I was in 2020: I’m not 2 bad days away from sticking a shotgun in my mouth, I’m eating healthy, I’m kinda sober, and I’m a morning person now, it’s crazy.
I had a good week for the first time in forever. It was crazy, everything seemed to work out for me. I got a 91 on my accounting midterm, I bodied my Fed Tax test, and I finally felt comfortable at work. Everything seemed to work out.
I’m not sure why I felt the need to let people know that I’m ok, but I also feel the need to record the fact that for a brief moment in time, everything didn’t suck, and that all the times I told myself “It’ll get better” weren’t just lies I had to tell myself to keep existing.
I’ve been making music lately. Not anything I’d ever share, but it’s something that started to allow me to express myself through another medium, which I think is super important. I really hate that feeling where you have all this creative energy, and no outlet to remove it, and that usually ends up manifesting in more destructive ways. I don’t know how often I’ll be back because I really don’t have anything else to say, but if I do, you’ll know.
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 their coping mechanisms, I’ve spent the last few years developing ones that won’t kill me, so I guess that’s progress.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
I like going to bars, it’s a nice way to get out of the house, it’s a great way to meet people around you, and it’s also my favorite way to experience music. The problem with bars is that too many of them suck. Clubs? The music’s too loud, the people dress like douchebags, and the drinks are overpriced and take too long to get. Cocktail bars? Also overpriced, but with a pretentious twist. The best bar experiences I’ve had have been at dive bars, and I’ll give you 5 reasons that you should go to them more._______________________________________
1. The Diverse Crowd
One of my favorite things about dive bars is that you never know who you’ll be sitting next to. One day you’ll be talking about sports with an off-duty cop, the next you’ll be arguing about politics with a financial planner, and I think that’s awesome. There are few places that bring people of all backgrounds together, and I think that’s causing a lot of problems for our country, we need to be able to separate politics from personality, or things are only going to get worse._______________________________________
2. So Many Cool Events
I have a soft-spot for live music, it’s just so much better than listening through headphones or speakers. Local bands playing at dives give you a more personal experience than any other venue. More bands should play at dive bars, they’d probably get more loyal fans. In addition to live music, my local dive does trivia nights on Wednesdays, and it’s the only time the place is ever packed, but that’s what makes it fun. Trivia night is also a great way to bring people together, I love debating the answers with the people on my team, especially if the answer is something ridiculous that nobody could know._______________________________________
3. They’re Great Community Builders
Building off the events aspect: communities come together at dive bars, I’ve seen co-workers meet for drinks, I’ve seen businessmen plan deals and I’ve seen people get jobs based off conversations with the right people. Being an active member of the community feels good, it feels good to walk into your favorite bar and feel welcomed. My favorite bartender has my drink waiting for me with a smile every time I go, and that feels good too. The longer you go to dive bars, the more people you recognize, and the more people you get to know. Some of the funniest people I know are wizened old construction workers downing Pabst by the pitcher and trash-talking everyone in the bar._______________________________________
4. They’re Much Cheaper
This one’s obvious, dive bars are cheap. Cheap is better than expensive. For ten dollars, I can go to my local dive and leave with a buzz and 2 dollars. You can’t beat that bargain._______________________________________
5. The Relaxed Environment
My local dive bar has been the backdrop for so many important moments in my life, it’s where my friends and I hung out when we just turned 21, it’s where one of my friends goes for advice when he doesn’t know what to do, it’s where I go to read and sip beer at 5 o’clock on a Tuesday, and I don’t regret any of it. Dive bars make people feel welcome, and the world needs more physical places where people interact. The dive has exposed me to groups of people I’d never be able to meet elsewhere, and that needs to be preserved. Dive bars are slowly dying off, which is a damn shame, so if you ever want to go somewhere new or try something else, go to your local dive bar, you won’t regret it.
For my friend’s birthday, we decided to do something different for a change and go to Boston for a night out. It went poorly. The journey in was a nighmare, but I thought it was just a momentary road block. Turns out, it was just the first thing to go wrong.
The Game Plan
We had a decent game plan: my friend Caleb and I would drive into the city early, get a parking spot that was affordable (not easy to do in Boston on a Friday night), and wait for my other friend Sherman to take the train to North Station. Easy peasy right? Wrong.
To The City
After arriving at Caleb’s house, we begin our trek into the city. Since Caleb used to drive into the city every day for work, he drives in, since I’m a very bad city driver, and would like to survive the night. It turns out this would be one of the better choices I made that night. Driving into the city on a Friday is one thing, but it was also Halloweekend, and there was a Celtics game that night, so we couldn’tve had worse timing. Cars littered the Mass Pike like some post-apocalyptic wasteland, none of them moving for minutes at a time. Wonderful. 20 minutes later, we were finally in Boston. Our next challenge was dealing with Boston drivers, who are a whole different species than regular drivers. Our welcome into the city was performed by a Silver Honda who had blocked both lanes.
Now, I’m pretty tolerant of stupid people, but this guy was too much, not only did he block both lanes, preventing anyone else from passing, but it turned out he was waiting to pick someone up. After almost getting hit by 3 additional morons, we arrive to the parking garage had in mind. I knew the night had taken a turn when I saw the two worst words you can see on a parking garage: “Lot Full” Great, now we have to find another one that’s not too far away, and isn’t going to scalp my wallet. After driving a additional 10 minutes around the Seaport, we got lucky: a lot for only 7 dollars an hour, an oasis in a sea of 50 dollar parking. I get my ticket, and put it straight in my wallet as I always do. Thank God I did.
Now for the fun part: finding one person in a sea of thousands leaving the TD Garden after a Celtics win.
After walking a mile and a half in the blistering Boston wind, Caleb and I arrive at the Garden. We looked for Sherman for around 10 minutes before calling him, apparently he was waiting on the other side of the street, which explains why we couldn’t find him. We eventually pick him out of a crowd of drunk basketball fans who were singing a barely-recognizable version of Don’t Stop Believing. After finally meeting up, we decide to nix our plan and go straight for the nearest bar that didn’t look crazy packed.
Now, I’m not a big “crowds” guy, so I usually avoid crowded bars and places where I have to yell to talk, but I’m trying to get out and be more outgoing and such, so I thought it would be good for me to go to a more populated place. Within 45 seconds of arriving, I reconsidered my decision. The bar that had looked so empty and quiet on the outside was actually packed to the rafters with Finance bros in their Brooks Brothers suits and Patagonia vests. The only upside of this location was how quickly I was served a beer, the bartender was on top of her game, and I appreciated how quickly I had a beer in my hand. After learning that thevbar had a second floor, we mosey on over, taking an elevator up. I’d never drank beer in an elevator before, it was pretty cool. After reaching the second floor, we see that while it is less packed than downstairs, this part of the bar is still overpopulated with Patagonias. Surprisingly, we find a table and sit down. As I sip my overpriced beer, I start to be immersed in the conversations around me, none of them very interesting, most about basketball, the rest about how much working in Finance rocks, and how laid they’re going to get. Way to break stereotypes there guys. We finish our drinks and decide not to stay at this expensive post-graduation frat house. As we leave, Caleb suggests we stop at Pizzeria Regina, an amazing pizza place that’s open until the wee hours of the night. It’s half a mile away.
Rejuvenation at Regina’s
As we walk to Regina’s, I notice that we are very far away from our parking lot, and that we have quite a trek ahead of us on our way back. That didn’t matter, I was fixated on having a couple slices of amazing pizza and a beer or two, everything else was unimportant at the time. Just as we’re starting to have second thoughts, we see it: the giant neon sign for Regina.
We made it. After a brief wait, the server seats us and takes our order. Now, my pizza taste is a little odd, I’ve been in this pesto sauce mood lately, so I’ve been experimenting with different toppings. Tonight, I ordered a bacon pizza with pesto sauce. 5 minutes later, the server comes back with a chicken and pesto pizza, which isn’t a problem for me, but our server felt so bad that she offered to put extra bacon on it for no extra charge. How nice of her. After another couple minutes, she drops off this monster of a pizza with more toppings than cheese, and we all dig in like it’s our last meal on Earth. After we finish our beers and pizza, we begin the long walk back to the parking lot.
Finding the Car
By this point, it’s 12:30, and I’m starting to get tired, but we have a 3 mile hike before I can sit down and relax, so I figured the only way through it is to do it. We made it about a mile before I realize that the address on the parking ticket is for the wrong garage, and we’d been walking in the wrong direction for 20 minutes. Shit. Usually, every parking ticket I’ve ever gotten has the address and name of the garage, making it easy to find where you parked. Not this one. After having a mini panic attack at the thought of losing my car in Boston at 1 in the morning, my mind starts working. I check the GPS tracking app on my phone to see where we had stopped, and after double-checking with Google that it was indeed the place, we resume our journey. Around 30 minutes later, we arrive at where my GPS says my car is. There’s just one problem: it’s not the right lot. Now I really start freaking out, Caleb’s got work at 730, I’ve got to come in early myself, it’s going to be at least an hour and a half before I get home, and I can’t find my car. Things are looking bleak. After pacing around the area thinking of a plan, I see it, the most beautiful sight I’d seen all night: my car. After letting out a scream of joy, we rush over to the car, pay the 18 dollars for our parking, and get the Hell out of Boston. It’s 1:30.
The Journey Home
Now, I’d say Caleb drove like a bat out of Hell, but that wouldn’t accurately describe how fast this man left the city. I’d liken it to how a husband drives his wife to the hospital when she’s in labor. What’s usually a 45 minute drive took us 32, which I was thankful for. As we near Sherman’s car, Caleb starts looking tired, and his driving skills start to suffer. Seeing ad he had to get up in 4 hours, I decide to take over and let him rest a bit. As I sped home, I thought about how we’d laugh at how terrible this night was later. When I finally arrived back at my house, it was 3:15am. I set my alarm clock for 8:30, cringing when I saw how much time I had before I had to wake up.
I could’ve stayed home, watched Mad Men, and been asleep by 11:30. This is why I don’t like to leave my house.