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.

A Losing Battle

Maybe it’s because I’ve been couped up in the house for days, maybe it’s because the world is going crazy outside, maybe it’s because I’m unemployed now, but I feel things getting dark again.

It’s almost funny; I’ve been almost happy these last few weeks, and then all of a sudden POOF, back to our regularly scheduled program of numb annoyance. I first realized something might be up when I started waking up late, like 2pm late. That’s never a good thing. I’ve lost track of what day it is, they all blend together. That’s another thing; the days are short, but the weeks last forever.

I really hate this; getting just a tiny taste of happiness, enough to know what I’m missing, but then immediately slipping back into listening to Bright Eyes records in the dark at 3pm. I know this isn’t the platform to complain about my problems, but my friends are tired of having to prop me up so that I don’t make things worse, so until all this inevitably goes away as all things do, I’m going to write about it.

It’s hard being a burden on people. They will never say it to my face, but there’s always that fleeting look of “this shit again” whenever I get all boo-hooey and bring the vibes down. Usually, I make jokes so I can get that fleeting serotonin hit that my brain can’t make for itself, but now it’s just black. I don’t like losing a piece of my personality, I like joking around and making myself and others laugh, but now it’s gotten to the point where I can’t even tell when I’m joking. Anything just to feel a little better for a moment.

I can usually tell if I’m just temporarily upset, or drowning depending on the music I listen to. When I’m just upset, it’s a lot of angry “Fuck you” music like Schoolboy Q, Nipsey Hussle, System of a Down, etc. When I’m drowning, it’s always the same cast: Bright Eyes, Joy Division, Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt and Kid Cudi. I’ve had all of those on repeat all day, so I’m guessing it’s not just a temporary spout. I’m glad I can recognize when I’m losing it, if I just all of a sudden imploded without knowing why, I’d probably do something stupid and permanent.

I’m in a decent position to get my shit together finally, I have more free time than I’ve ever had in my life, and I know it’s going to be hard to not just waste it getting wasted, but if I’m ever going to make something of myself, it’s what needs to be done. Maybe I’ll set my alarm tomorrow, so I don’t sleep the day away, or maybe I’ll put on Road to Joy and bury my head in my comforter.

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

Music Is The New Religion

I’ve always noticed a connection between music and religion; they both try and explain the world around us, they both inspire us to be better, they both try to take us out of our heads. Kanye West literally featured God on Yeezus, solidifying my theory that he might actually need to go therapy and stop jerking his ego off so much.

Music is undoubtably art, but is religion? To me, art is anything that can make you feel something, and religion was called “the opiate of the masses.” Does that make religion art?

Those pastors at superchurches in Texas whip their crowds into a frenzy, and help them feel better about themselves, albeit for a fee. Are they not artists? Now, some of them might be con-artists, but I think the majority are just skilled public speakers who want to make a difference.

Let’s get back to music for a second. I’ve been on Twitter long enough to see some wild things, but the craziest of them all has to be “music Twitter”: where people debate who’s the best, who’s the worst, who makes them feel what emotions where, etc. This is where I started to realize the power these artists have, some of these people say that so-and-so’s music kept them alive, or helped them quit drugs, or acted as a safety blanket after a traumatic event. Isn’t that what religion does?

There are even some people who worship artists. I saw one person talk about Frank Ocean like he was a God amongst men, and attacked anyone who said any different. Is that any different than arguing about Bible interpretations or the Old vs. New Testament?

Almost everyone listens to music, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t, and truthfully, I don’t think I’d trust someone who isn’t moved by anything in any genre. Even Charles Manson liked music. It helps people see the world from different perspectives, which is something the world desperately needs right now. It teaches lessons to people who won’t listen to anyone else. It entertains us and turns the volume down when we have a bad day.

Music has helped me immensely, when I have a really awful day, I don’t want to watch TV, I don’t want to overeat, I just want to sit back and listen to my records and tune the rest of the world out.

On Anger

It’s been a shitty day. It shouldn’tve been, but it was. I’ve always been intrigued by anger, why is it such a powerful emotion?

Anger is the emotion I probably feel the most, which is probably why I’m unhappy, but it’s also a key component in my accomplishments. Anger is the only truly renewable resource: you will never stop getting angry, you just have to channel that into something productive, or you’ll end up sticking the barrel of a shotgun in your mouth and clocking out. I’ve done so many things because people told me I couldn’t. My 6th grade English teacher told me I’d never make it to high school, I did. My junior science teacher told me I’d never get into college, I did. My first college advisor told me I should drop out, I did, but because I ran out of money, not because I flunked out. I think getting angry fuels you more than any drug could even dream of.

I think our rage comes from a biological place, prehistoric humans wouldn’t be able to bash a sabre tooth tiger’s head in without that warm, fuzzy feeling that you get right before you absolutely lose your shit. Think about how many things productive rage has accomplished; punk rock, Prince changing his name to something no one can pronounce, every political uprising, that monk who set himself on fire to protest the Vietnam War, all of it done because “Fuck you, that’s why.”

Is there anything better than meeting someone who hates the same things you do? Anger brings us together. Fuck Tinder, bring me an app where I can match with other people who hate people who put their phone on speakerphone in public. If we bonded over what we hate rather than hiding it, we’d be a more productive society. We need to teach people that being an asshole has consequences, and in the era of social media, public shaming is the best weapon we have. For every douche in McDonald’s, we have thousands of YouTube comments making fun of that person, and that’s how it should be. Every time I see someone absolutely lose it, I learn something. If the anger is justified, I learn that it’s okay to feel that way, and that I’m not a psycho for feeling the same way. If it’s not justified, I learn how to make the other person feel like shit so that if I’m ever in the same situation, I can respond accordingly.

I know this makes me sound like an asshole, and I definitely am sometimes, but it’s also good to learn how to use that assholishness to achieve a goal. Don’t bottle all that rage up, use it to shove your success down the throats of everyone who has ever doubted you.

Productivity is a Pain in the Ass

Why do we have to do things? Why can’t I just give in to that little devil on my shoulder that wants me to drink whiskey and watch re-runs of Parts Unknown all day?

Every day, I make a checklist of what I have to do. Usually, most of those things don’t get done right away.

I go days without achieving anything, but when I get things done, I Get. Things. Done. Maybe it’s the ADHD, maybe it’s because I like to be efficient, maybe it’s because I only get a certain amount of energy per week, like some sort of terrible solar battery. For example, for one of my English classes, I’d slacked off all semester because I was depressed and couldn’t get out of bed to go to class, and as a result, I had a semester’s worth of homework to do. I banged out over a dozen papers in day, and aced all of them. I wish I could do that for everything else in my life.

I’m sure there are numerous internal factors that are responsible for my lack of productivity lately; I haven’t been to the gym in awhile, I’ve been eating like shit, and I haven’t been sleeping that much, in addition to school and work responsibilities.

Hopefully, I’ll figure it out and crush it like I always do, but there has to be a limit to how far I can push myself before everything comes crashing down.

I think those bursts of energy can be stretched out and lengthened, so I’m going to try and figure out what brings them on, and try to do that more and more, until it’s just second-nature, and that lazy demon is banished, or exorcised, or whatever you do to demons.

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?