The Moment I Decided to Quit

“You should quit ya job to this!” Wise words from the great modern philosopher Kanye West. I’m done. I’ve had enough of dunks. My friend works at a restaurant, and says that they’re looking for people, so I’m going to give that a shot.

I’m so done with this stupid place, as well as all the bullshit that goes with it. I’ve had 7 managers in 9 months, that should’ve been a giant red flag, but it wasn’t. While doing payroll, I discovered that not only did I not get the raise I’d been promised, but I’d been getting paid less than minimum-wage. That’s what did it for me; not all the rude, over-privileged customers who come in, or the fact that our bathroom hasn’t worked in months, forcing me to piss outside like an animal. Fuck them.

I’ve worked at dunks for almost 6 years, I know the place inside, out and backwards, but I still didn’t get paid a fair wage.

I’ve had to give up every weekend for the last 5 years, I get home at 8:30 every night, tired and angry, and still have to make dinner. I’m done. I’ve given this stupid place way too much effort for what it’s given me.

Working here has given me a whole bunch of stories, but it’s also given me a caffeine addiction, anger issues, and killed whatever outgoing personality traits I might’ve had. I met a crack dealer named Animal, a gang member with a heart of gold, an old, dreadlocked hippy who tips in beer, and other sitcom-worthy characters who generally made my days less boring.

I’m certainly not going to miss it here. As I write this, the gas station owner is yelling at a customer who asked if they could use the bathroom, and even from across the store, I can see the veins popping out of his face as he yells. Hopefully the restaurant works out, I won’t come back here.

Heaven

You hear so many things about Heaven, there are entire religions based on getting there, but what’s up there?

For me, my totally-uninformed, hopeful take on it is this: Heaven is whatever you want it to be.

For me, Heaven is a place with unlimited resources and time, somewhere I can just creatively go crazy without any restrictions or concerns. Think about it: all of the most creative people who have ever lived, all in one place. There must be billions of songs, paintings, movies, you name it.

I get really annoyed when I have a decent idea that I can’t execute, so thinking there’s a place where all of those ideas can be fleshed out and expanded makes me feel good, and I want to be able to talk to history’s best thinkers and writers and come up with better ideas to work on.

I want to be able to bounce taglines off of David Ogilvy. I want to pitch movie ideas to Stanley Kubrick. I want Picasso to teach me how to paint. I want to learn how write more coherently from Bukowski and Hemingway. I hope all of those people are just up in Heaven, sitting at a cloudtop bar sipping drinks and swapping ideas for all eternity.

I’m not going to know what Heaven’s like for a long time, ( hopefully, although life is weird, so you never know) so I’ll just have to do my best with what I’ve been given.

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 Amazing Power of Music

I read an article recently about the psychological effects of music, and how it affects your mood, and it occured to me how important music really is.

I listen to a lot of really, really depressing music, and I think that it’s starting to affect how I think. Part of me, deep down, loves it. I love sitting in my room listening to “u” and drinking whiskey in the dark. Now, seeing that written down, it seems kind of fucked up.

Maybe if I listen to “Happy” a million times a day, or start my mornings with “The Dreamer”, eventually I won’t be so angry at the world. I’m going to try that; only listening to upbeat, positive music for a month or two, and see if it does anything for me.

I don’t know why sad people love sad music so much. On paper, it doesn’t sound like it should help, but it does. I’m sure there’s some music psychologist who can show me case studies and peer-reviewed papers, but I’m not a scientist, I don’t know if I’d understand all that technical jargon and obscure psychology terms.

“Music is the new religion.” I read that in a Pitchfork interview, and it makes me think. I’ve definitely learned more about being a decent, well-rounded person from music than I have from church. Jay-Z taught me that financial freedom is our only hope, and that a loss ain’t a loss, it’s a lesson. Kendrick Lamar taught me that it’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to think you don’t deserve what you’ve been given. Mac Miller taught me that it’s okay to feel things, and it’s okay to need help. What’s Jesus taught me?

The Great Molasses Disaster

In this installment of weird historical events, I’ll touch on The Great Molasses Disaster, one of my favorite wacky accidents, that devastated the North End of Boston. On January 15th, 1919, a storage container holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses burst, flooding the streets at 35mph and killing 21 people.

Now, let’s unpack this a little. First of all, let’s picture what 2.3 million gallons of anything coming at you like a soccer mom in a carpool lane. Not great. Now picture molasses: it’s gross, it’s sticky, it’s heavy, and the more you try and fight it, the quicker it’ll take you under, like some sweet-smelling version of quicksand. Now imagine you’re on your way home from one of the many amazing restaurants in the North End when you hear something that sounds like a freight train roaring down the street, enveloping you in some sticky bullshit that slowly drowns you.

Why did this happen? Simple physics is to blame. New England weather is wild, we can go from 60 degrees and sunny, to -5 and snowy, in the same day. That’s what happened ln January 15th. The molasses was previously warmed to make it easier to transport, but when the newly-delivered molasses met the previously-delivered cold molasses, the difference in heat caused the molasses to expand and puncture the container. Thankfully, storage regulations changed, and now there aren’t any more industrial accidents*.

After all the damage was done, and the flood of molasses was cleaned up, over $9.18 million dollars (adjusted for inflation) in damage was done. Locals say that on a hot day, you can still smell the molasses. I’ve been to the North End in the summer, and I don’t buy it, unless molasses smells like the combination of great Italian food, garbage, and stale beer.

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”

In Search of Isolation

I don’t like people. I used to, but years of customer service have ruined whatever interest I had in meeting new people, and that’s a problem.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think people are getting worse. Maybe I’m biased, but I’ve dealt with way too many assholes lately for it to be a coincidence. Either that, or I’m slowly dying inside.

Whenever the world gets to be too much for me, I like to sit in my room and listen to my records. I know that being by yourself all the time isn’t the best for your mental health, but it’s much better for me than going outside.

I don’t know if my love of isolation will come back to bite me, I’m sure that it’s definitely strained my relationship with my friends and family, and it’s not exactly great for my dating life, but it’s something I desperately need to keep functioning.

Why is that? Why do I feel out of place, floating from one place to another like an errant cloud? Is there something wrong with me, and I just can’t see it? I used to love meeting new people and experiencing new things, but now it’s just a pain in the ass, and I’d rather spin up Malibu and write articles about nothing.

This post is getting heavy, so here’s a baby giraffe.

Dumbasses at Dunkin: Part Two

In today’s issue of Dumbasses at Dunkin, I’d like to share with you one of the interesting customers who makes my day a little less shitty, by being a piece of shit themselves.

First thing’s first, I should give a little context. Our bathroom’s been acting up lately, and since it’s the only one in the store, we’ve had some unhappy customers complain. Usually, they understand that the absence of a bathroom is not a big deal for the 5 minutes they spend in out store. Not this man.

This gentleman comes into the store, and immediately demands a bathroom. When I informed him of the bathroom situation, he became quite enraged, insisting that it is illegal to keep him from the out-of-order bathroom, ( spoiler alert: it’s not) and insisted I provide him access. Now, usually people understand that our bathroom is broken because they know how terribly the general public treats bathrooms they don’t have to clean, but this man was different.

After 5 minutes of trying to communicate to the gentleman that the only bathroom in the store was out of order, he exploded. He proceeded to go on a racially-charged rant about how the owner of the gas station was discriminating against him because he was Pakastani, which has probably happened before, so I tried to stay composed. After another round of arguement, the man told me that he would be calling the State House, and that we’d be shut down. Lovely.

He called them up, and I could slowly see his face fall as they presumably told him not only was this the wrong place to call, but that he didn’t have a case. As he hung up the phone, he turned to me and called me “Another one of those racist Brazilians” which is a fucking ridiculous sentance, since I’m about as white as you can be, and I don’t speak Portuguese. As Mr. Grumpypants left, he shouted that he would “Shut this place down, and sue the shit out of you! Just you wait!” Well, tick tock, I don’t have all day.

Mental Quicksand

Fear is quick sand. It’s a pair of cement shoes weighing you down. It pulls you down and envelopes you until there is no light, no escape, and no forward progress. You can fight as much as you want, but it will only drown you quicker. You see the world pass you by as you suffer in silence. You wish you could do something, but no matter what you do, no matter how close you get to the surface, you still drown. The only way to escape it is to accept it and let it take you.

There’s a Pixar movie called “Inside Out” that really made me think. Essentially, your emotions are anthropomorphized beings who work in your head, effecting how you perceive the world, with one emotion holding the wheel. Ever since I saw that movie, I’ve wondered which emotion of mine holds the proverbial wheel, is it anger, fear, sadness, joy? I’m torn between anger and fear. I’m angry because I have ridiculously high expectations of myself and everyone around me, and get upset when they don’t live up to my expectations. I’m angry because I’m an emotional punching bag for hundreds of assholes at my bullshit minimum-wage job. I’m angry because I could’ve been better and achieved everything I wanted. But I’m also scared of everything, which is probably why I’m miserable.

It shouldn’t be this hard. Why can’t I overcome my fear when so many others can? Do you think that a Russian Infantryman in Stalingrad wasn’t terrified? No, but he muscled through his fear and achieved his goal, or died trying. What the fuck is my excuse? I want to be better, but there is this mental brick wall that I keep running into preventing me from advancing, and nothing I do can penetrate it. I wonder what the future holds, if this is just a temporary setback, or if it’s the battle of a lifetime.

Persistence Is Key

“You don’t start out writing good stuff, you start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistance” Octavia E Butler

I ran into this quote recently, and it got me thinking. I don’t think my writing is good, I edit and re-edit, and completely erase parts I don’t like, only to wish I hadn’t minutes later. I’ve been in a bit of a creative rutt lately, I’ve still got ideas, but executing them has been harder than usual lately. Maybe I need to go outside more, maybe I need to switch up my routine, maybe I’ll bounce back in a couple weeks, I really don’t know. What I do know is that I’ll probably still make terrible blog posts, until I don’t. I’ve found that the posts I work really hard on don’t do as well as the posts I shotgun out in 20 minutes, so maybe I don’t know what “good” looks like.

I think about all the things I’ve quit at; soccer, baseball, my pre-law major, my philosophy major, my journalism minor, and I can’t help but wonder what life would’ve been like had I persevered. That Octavia Butler quote makes me think about the inevitable day that I quit writing, since I know that some day I’ll get a real job that keeps me busy enough that I won’t have time to write blog posts on my phone at work. I hope that I still have the time to write, it’s weirdly cathartic to bitch about things you don’t like on the internet for people you’ll never meet to read.

I’ve definitely improved my writing skills since I’ve started blogging, I don’t know if it’s been by much, but I can clearly see an improvement over even my first couple posts. Reading some of my early posts makes me want to go back and edit them and make them semi-decent, but part of me wants to keep them the way they are as a sort of time capsule of where I was at that point in my life, even though it was only a couple months ago.