Community

Since I have a boring job and abundant free time, I do a lot of thinking. Recently, I came to the conclusion that a sense of community is so important to your mental health.

I work at a townie liquor store that is visited by a vast assortment of blue collar workers, hipsters, and outlaw bikers who open-carry firearms and have “cop killer” face tattoos. These people, as different as they may seem, all have one thing in common: where they’re from. They all support their community, and the people in it. I’ve had multiple people drop me off food, or slide me some reefer, or coffee, or offer to give me job references, or just shoot the shit with me to pass the time. They all interact with each other, and offer to help each other as needed. I think that’s so neccessary in a world where I can look at YouTube videos of people rioting and killing each other. I have a sick fascination with comment sections: I like to see humanity at its most base. Years of reading hateful comments and watching people get killed on camera have probably made me the jaded asshole I am today, but recently I’ve started to think that I might’ve been wrong. I spend too much time absorbing content online, and not enough time talking to real people.

I get why Stan communities form. Everyone wants to feel like they belong. Everyone wants to feel like their voice matters, even when it doesn’t. The problem with these online communities is that they’re so disconnected from real people and real life that they forget how real life works. If the people who troll Instagram models tried that shit with the bartender at the biker bar down the street, that person would be shot before they finished patting themselves on the back for being “edgy”. That same person would be a hero in their community.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve never belonged anywhere, but I’m surprised on the effect that being part of a community has on me. I offered to help one of my customers do his taxes because he was stressed out about making money in a foreign country, and when I told him that that’s just a quick Foreign Income Exclusion form, he was so thankful, I could literally see the weight lifted off his shoulders. If you’ve read my blog at all, you know I hate people, so this was a surprising revelation for me. I’m not used to feeling good, and helping this guy made me feel good for a change. That same guy came in a few days ago, saw that I needed a coffee, bought me my favorite Italian roast blend from the hipster shop down the street, and when I tried to pay him, he refused. I’m really not used to that kind of thing, so at first I felt awkward, and that turned to anger for a brief moment, but that anger quickly dissipated and turned into gratitude.

I think that most of the people who are involved with these radical movements are just looking for a community to accept them. Sure, they may be awful pieces of shit who deserve to be alone, but deep down, they just want to belong somewhere, and I understand that now. This might seem like an obvious observation of the human experience, but fuck off, I’m still learning how to be a person.

Green Rectangles

The most powerful item in the world weighs about a gram. It’s not sharp, it can’t kill anyone, and you can’t eat it. It’s a tiny little object that has the power to change your life. Need a hint?

Money.

Money is the most powerful thing on the planet. For all the shit Wolf of Wall St. gets, it was right about one thing: money can achieve anything.

We’re all greedy pricks when it comes down to it, it’s in our nature to be animals, so when given the chance, we jump on it. Look at all of the pharma executives who have more money than they could ever spend in a hundred lifetimes. Do you think they got to where they are by being nice?

Money has the power to change everything about you. You can buy new clothes to look the best you can, you can hire personal trainers and nutritionists to help get you into shape, you can support whatever hobby you’re into at the moment with enough money. It also has a negative effect on your mental health, interpersonal relationships, and the overall health of our planet.

Money provides comfort. That’s pretty much it. If you’re Old Money™️, you can do whatever you want; you can hire a personal chef so you don’t have to cook, which saves you time, you can hire a chauffer to drive you around, which removes the stress of being stuck in traffic, you can also hire an assistant to do all the annoying shit you don’t want to do, giving you more time to work on your golf swing, or to give you peace of mind before you go to work, or because what’s the point of having “fuck you” money, if you never say “fuck it” and do whatever you want.

At a certain point, I think aquiring wealth becomes an addiction. Why else would Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and every oil Sheik work so damn hard to get more of it? For their legacy? So their great-great-grandkids can grow up so detached from society that they become so hedonistic they spend all your money? I’m trying to understand it, but it’s escaping me at the moment.

Money is like oxygen: you don’t notice it, until you start to run out of it. The things people will do when they are poor and desperate only go to show you how powerful the almighty dollar is. Why else would someone sell heroin on a dangerous street corner, or take a chance and rob someone in a country with 400 million (legal) guns. Money isn’t the root of all evil, fear is, but the fear of running out of money can drive someone to do terrible things.

Fuck The Civil War

First of all, fuck all of those HeHaw Outlaw assholes who are trying to intimidate people who don’t think the same way they do. We used to go to war with dipshits like them, but now there are GoFundMe’s supporting them. Now, I’m not that smart, but even I can see that these mullets with assault rifles would get fucking slaughtered by actual soldiers who can run a mile without having to lay down after.

Personally, I don’t know if I could pull the trigger on a fellow countryman. I may want to pistol whip you, and knock the stupid out of you, but I think putting a bullet between your eyes isn’t the way to go. I have complete faith in my countrymen, I really don’t think we’re all that different when it comes down to it. I keep reading the comments on news articles, and it’s shocking to see the awful, disgusting opinions of the people who comment. I really think they must be horribly depressed individuals who’s only joy in life is to piss off as many people as possible in order to get that fleeting dopamine kick that keeps them from hanging themselves. I know I have the urge to piss people off from time to time, usually when I’m having one of those days where I’m desperate to feel anything, regardless of the effect it has on others.

I’m trying to be more positive and hopeful, and to make some changes in my life. It’s a huge pain in the ass. It’s not fun to look inside yourself, and hate what you see, but it does give you some motivation to better yourself. I hope that after the whole ‘Rona crisis is over, more people snap out of their bullshit and realize that they have to change their ways if they want to be happy. Or maybe they won’t.

Limbo

There is something special about the time between 12 and 4am. It’s like the world stands still, and everything is in limbo. I get my best work done during this time, I don’t know what it is about limbo, but it crystallizes my thoughts, and gives me a different perspective on life. Since the ‘Rona struck, I’ve been staying in my house and trying to ignore the constant suffering that seems to have bled into every aspect of life in 2020. At first, I thought that I would adapt, and thrive, but that isn’t the case anymore.

In order to keep from losing my mind even more, I’ve started looking for ways to get out of my head, which for the front half of the year meant mixing bourbon with more bourbon, and writing whatever came to mind. This worked for awhile, but like all things, the usefulness faded over time until I looked at that fucking blinking pixel I hate so much, and had nothing to say. As the weather got warmer, and my insomnia got worse, I needed to find ways to tire myself out. This is where I discovered limbo. It all started one night when I was having one of those days that turn into one of those nights, that turn into that delightful feeling where you stare at the clock at 3am and count down the hours, minutes, and seconds before you have to wake up and be a person again. Obviously, my ” Go to Sleep” cocktail of 20mg of melatonin, a 100mg edible, 6oz of Eagle Rare, and a Zzzquil wasn’t working. At around 3:30, I had an idea: get up and go for a jog. Now, since it was the dead of night, and I’m a degenerate, I figured it’d be fun to roll a joint for my jog, so I did, and after a half-mile and a gram, my eyes started to feel the much-needed embrace of sleep.

This went on for a few days in a row, until I realized that while I was trying to beat my brain into submission, some interesting things came out. First and foremost, I had to make a playlist that encapsulates how I felt, because life is so much better with a soundtrack. After making a 4-hour long “‘Rona Radio” playlist, I started thinking about why people are afraid of the dark. I think it’s because they are afraid of what’s out there, and as I walked around my safe upper-middle class neighborhood, I started thinking about how many people are ruled by the fear of the unknown. I know I definitely am, but the more I walk around at night, surrounded by bears and coyotes and God knows what else, I started to become less afraid. After a few more weeks of nightly walks, I became more comfortable walking around at night than during the day.

As quarantine continued, I started to look forward to these night walks, they were a stable, crystallizing moment of my day where I could think clearly for a change. I think there is something beautiful about night time: it’s incredibly peaceful to be able to walk around by myself and not be bothered by anyone, to have complete silence in a world where everything is so loud all the time.

I’ve been thinking about why this time is so special to me, and I think I can finally put it into words: this is where time stands still. Since most people are asleep, it seems like time freezes, which gives me time to stop and think. I need that now more than ever, and since I’ve had crazy bad sleep problems for a long time, I’m already up, so it fits together very nicely.

Life Is A Highway

I had this thought while stuck in holiday traffic over Columbus Day Weekend: everything you need to know about society can be learned on a busy highway.

As I stood at a standstill on I95, I had some time to think, and it came to me: what better metaphor for America than a bunch of assholes trying to shave seconds off their commute by cutting in front of other assholes who drive too slow in the fast lane?

Everyone in the U.S is trying to go somewhere, and since smartphones became a thing, nobody has any patience anymore, so everything has to happen NOW, and nowhere is this clearer than the highway. As I was driving home, some douchenozzle in a tinted Audi cut me off going 90, and I thought about how that embodied the “fuck you, do something about it” attitude Americans have adapted in the last decade. In another era, this prick would’ve had to maneuver his horse across the same patch of dirt that I was on, but I could force them off the road and go about my business. It’s a little harder now, when that means scratching some portfolio manager’s $100,000 dick extension, and getting sued into oblivion.

The combination of “Fuck you, get out of my way” and ” Go jerk off to another Fast and Furious movie you future Driver’s Ed statistic” sums up everything other countries make fun of us for; the selfish attitude, the naive “Nothing bad is gonna happen to me because I’m special.” nature of this country, the way we generally disregard public safety, makes me think that the rest of the world looks at us the same way I look at crack heads on LivePD who deny that the crack in their pockets is theirs.

I didn’t see a change in behavior until I was crossing the border into New Hampshire, where there was a much stronger police presence. Immediately, traffic slowed down, causing morons who weren’t paying attention to slam on their brakes and potentially risk getting slammed in the back by some other prick who was too busy changing the song on his phone to pay attention to what was happening in front of him. The police act the same way sharks do on a coral reef: they patrol and circle their territory, keeping everything around them at a permanent state of anxiety, because every animal knows that if the shark wants to hurt them, there is nothing that can be done to prevent them from killing them.

Whenever I get super bored on the highway, I look to the median strip. I’ve seen couches, empty 30-racks, hubcaps, fenders, dead animals, lost trailers, and much more. It’s really interesting to see the things people will leave behind because they inconvenience them. That bike you saved up for is left behind because “It’s too far behind, we can’t go back” and is immediately forgotten. I don’t think we care enough about the things we buy. They’re just temporary distractions that are meant to make us temporarily feel something so that we keep buying shit we don’t need in order to chase that feeling. These edibles are starting to kick in, so I’m going to end this and stop rambling.

My Musical Journey

As I’ve said before, I think music is a wonderful thing that influences us and helps make us who we are. My musical journey started when I was young, and hopefully won’t stop until I’m dead.

The first memory I have is listening to “Born to Run” on one of the first trips up to Maine, and to this day I still love it. I’ve always had a soft spot for classic rock, it’s what my parents played in the house, it’s the first genre I delved into when I started to get interested in music, and some of it’s still in my rotation today, but I like to ease off for a while and get that nostalgic feeling that comes with it. I was that weird kid in middle school who thought that today’s music sucked, and that 60’s and 70’s music was the best there was. I was kind of a pretentious little shit back then.

Toward the end of middle school up into high school, I started listening to some more contemporary music, things like Metallica, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, and Linkin Park. These artists spoke to me more than the artists my parents listened to, and I felt like they understood what it was like to be an sad, angry suburban kid in the 21st century. I don’t really listen to most of the albums I was obsessed with back then, I revisted them recently, and a vast majority of them suck, but they still meant the world to me, and those feelings I had when I was 13 make up for it.

Toward the end of my sophomore year of high school, I was looking on YouTube for something new, and I stumbled on an Eminem video. This was my introduction to rap. I was blown away by The Eminem Show and the Slim Shady LP, but my parents hated it, which made me like them even more. As I listened to more and more Eminem, my YouTube suggestions lead me to discover artists like Ice Cube and Cypress Hill. I didn’t even smoke weed yet, but I still loved Cypress Hill. I remember seeing tickets go up for a Cypress Hill show nearby, but when I thought about how my parents would react when they heard their music, I reconsidered going, which was probably for the best, since I don’t think a nerdy 14-year old white kid from a small farm town would fit in with the weed-smoking 90’s rap fan.

I really don’t want to admit this, but when I first started smoking weed, I was obsessed with the Kottonmouth Kings. I was 16, and convinced that they were better than Eminem and Dr.Dre. I’d play Long Live the Kings and Rollin’ Stoned for my friends, but they were still into hardcore and metal, so while it wasn’t really their thing, I have to give them immense credit for putting up with it and soldiering through.

My music tastes started to really evolve when my friends and I started partying. Nobody wants to here “A Little Piece of Heaven” at a party, it scares the girls away. As we met more people, we listened to their music too. One of the first people to expand my rap knowledge was our friend/friendly neighborhood weed guy Tom, who introduced me to some of the most important artists in my life, people like Mac Miller, Logic, J.Cole, and Kendrick Lamar. He also introduced me to a lot of garbage that I can’t stand to this day. I related to these people, mostly Mac and Logic, because at the time I was partying a lot, looking forward to college, to getting out of my town and making something of myself, and I looked up to these people a few years older than me doing exactly that.

As I began college, I was still listening to all of the music I’d always listened to, but as I went to frat parties and hung out with douchebags, I started getting into people like Jay-Z and Kanye West. I was blown away by the production, I still am. As college proved to be a really tough environment, I started using music to cope with the fact that sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed or do anything else. Specifically, Watching Movies With the Sound Off was my soundtrack, and it’s still one of my favorite albums, but hearing certain songs like “I’m Not Real” and “The Star Room” brings back memories of smoking joints by myself at 2am, thinking about how bad my life was getting.

I was stuck in a funk for a long time, leaving college because I was failing classes because I was either too depressed to get out of bed to go to class, or because I was too hungover to do my homework because booze temporarily made me feel like a person. This lead to me coming back to that sleepy farm town I’d worked so hard to get away from. I started working at Dunks, and with that, started having time to kill, so I filled it by listening to albums. Now, at this time I was working 10 hour days 6 days a week, so I had a lot of time to listen to new music. This period of time is when I discovered a wealth of new music that I adore to this day.

The first album I heard was Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and it blew me away. I’d listened to Kanye in college, but it was usually just the older albums and the hits, so when I heard “Runaway” for the first time, I was blown away. I’d never heard so many good songs on one album before, back to back to back, and I finally understood why people put up with Kanye’s shit.

During the Dunks Period, I started to branch out my tastes, which lead me to discover Anderson. Paak. I was blown away, it was like the music I used to listen to as a kid got a makeover, and became fresh and relevant. Malibu was my entrance to soul music, albeit in a modern sense. As I dove into soul music, I started listening to jazz and big band music, and started to value live instrumentation in all forms of music, especially rap. I discovered Avantdale Bowling Club, a project by New Zealand rapper Tom Scott, and I was blown away. It was everything I’d been looking for in an album: it had great rapping, it had live instrumentation, it had a message about coming home and growing up that spoke to me on a material level, and it was a cohesive piece of art. Hell, I’m probably going to go play that record right now, it’s one of my favorite in my collection.

As time went on, I started to get bored with listening to the same ol’ music all the time, so I looked for something new to scratch that itch. I found myself listening to a lot of indie music, Speedy Ortiz, Portugal the Man, Bright Eyes, Beach House, Gorillaz, The Internet, Tame Impala,and many more. This new influx of sounds and ideas really hooked me, and I still love all of the music I discovered back then, and I’m super looking forward to hearing the new Bright Eyes album.

Recently, I’ve gotten more into jazz, specifically modal jazz, from people like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington. I like the creativity and musicality involved, no structure, no limits, just artistic expression. It does make me feel hella old and lame when I put on Frank Sinatra songs in the car with my friends, but fuck them, they can walk if it bothers them that much.

I like to think that the music I’ve listened to shaped me in a way, made me a better, more rounded person. I’m still immensely curious, I’ll listen to just about anything, except for EDM, because I’m not a 20-year old frat kid on Molly, but anything else, I’ll probably give it a listen. I’ve been collecting records, not only because they definitely sound better, but they also serve as a sort of time capsule for me so when I get older I can look back at these records and remember what it was like to discover them, and how different life was back then.

My Last Day

Today’s the day. It’s finally here. I’ve thought about this moment so many times that whatever happens, I know it won’t live up to the fantasy I’ve created. I’ve decided that instead of doing all the usual unnecessary shit that I do throughout my work day, I’m going to take stock and think about what I’ll miss about this place, and what I look forward to never doing again.

What I’ll Miss:

1. Free Coffee.

2. The few nice Customers.

3. Getting out at 7 on Sunday’s.

4. Fucking with rude people.

5. Locking the doors on people after we close.

6. Listening to music on the store speakers.

7. Trying new flavor combos in my coffee.

8. Hashbrowns.

9. Customers leaving nice reviews on Yelp.

10. Customers leaving ridiculous reviews on Yelp.

11. Giving stressed-out people free coffee, because we’ve all been there.

12. Listening to Raj yell at people for unreasonable things, like using the bathroom he just cleaned.

13. Listening to Raj act super nice when his boss is around.

14. Scaring new Dunks employees with customer horror stories.

15. Listening to full albums at work.

16. Introducing customers to music.

What I Won’t Miss Even A Little:

1. That On-The-Go ringtone that never shuts up.

2. Getting yelled at by entitled morons who think this is an upscale restaurant.

3. People throwing money at me like I’m a bad stripper.

4. Customers complaining because the prices aren’t the same as they were in 1976.

5. Coming home covered in greasy fat and coffee stains.

6. Customers assuming I speak perfect Spanish because I work at Dunks.

7. People placing $50+ orders, and not tipping after.

8. Customers taking money out of my tip jar to avoid breaking a bill.

9. People snapping their fingers while I make their food because they think it’ll speed things up.

10. Blatant heroin users coughing on their money and handing it to me.

11. Drunk people asking if I can add liquor to their drinks.

12. Customers making up flavors and expecting me to know what they are.

13. Parents who bring their crying kid in, and leave them at the counter.

14. Getting 4am calls from the District Manager, asking where the TV remote is.

15. Getting calls at 4:15am from said manager after she finds the remote.

16. Getting called in at 8:30am for a 12pm shift.

17. Having to work 3am-8pm because someone didn’t show up.

18. Coffee “connoisseurs” who can apparently tell the difference between 17 creams and 18 creams in their small iced coffee.

19. People who want their coffee “extra extra light”, then complain that their coffee is too light.

20. Having customers talk on their phone at the counter when they should be ordering.

21. Getting called racist because I ask someone to repeat themselves after they order in another language.

22. Getting cold brew thrown at me because “It’s not cold enough!”

23. Customers getting angry that we don’t have Pumpkin Spice in July.

24. Customers getting offended when I ask if they want their coffee iced or hot.

25. Old people telling me that “Hey Yeah” is The Devil’s Music™️.

26. People who try and order food 45 minutes after the ovens are off.

27. Customers who order small coffees in extra-large cups because they think they’re beating the system.

28. Getting yelled at because I didn’t finish the work that someone else was supposed to do.

29. Getting asked 6 times in a row if the decaf coffee they ordered is actually decaf.

30. Customers who don’t understand what “regular” means, and get mad when they order a regular and it’s not what they wanted.

31. Being told I got a raise, and making the same amount of money every week.

32. Having to do my boss’s paperwork because she wants to go home early.

33. Customers paying for big orders with change.

34. When I greet customers at the counter, and they look at me like I’m offending them.

35. Confused customers who try and get me to pump their gas because they don’t understand how 2 stores can share a building.

36. Customers who get mad that their coffee is on the counter, and not wherever they want to wait for it.

37. Parents who point at me and tell their kids “This is what happens when you don’t go to college!”

38. Overly-complicated sandwich orders that make no sense

39. Having to fix at least one piece of equipment every shift, none of which is ever replaced.

40. Always being out of something that multiple customers want

41. Getting yelled at because we’re out of something a customer wants.

42. Being treated like I’m less than a person because I work at Dunks.

43. Having to pee outside like an animal because the bathroom doesn’t work.

Goodbye, and good riddance

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.

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.