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.

Fear and Loathing in Massachusetts

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

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

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

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.

Your Brain on ADHD

*Alarm buzz*

Time: 9:30am

“Ok, I’ve got time, I can totally just close my eyes for a sec..”

-20 minutes later-

“Shit, I actually have to get up and do things now. I wonder what happened to Shaggy?”

-30 minutes later-

“Ok, so Shaggy was a Marine who served in the Gulf War and sang to pass the time. Let’s see if I can find any pictures of him in uniform, because that doesn’t sound true”

-3 pages of Google Images later-

“Shaggy is an interesting dude, I didn’t know there was a recognized legal defense based on “It Wasn’t Me”

-10 minutes of watching YouTube videos of people losing their shit at Popeyes-

Time: 10:30am

“Huh. I was supposed to do something today, I probably should’ve written that down so I would’ve remembered”

“I wonder if squirrels have names for each other. I wonder what my name would be if I were a squirrel. Squirrel is such a weird word, who came up with that?”

-1 deep dive into the etymology of the word “squirrel” later-

“Damnit, I was supposed to take the trash out for the garbage people today, guess I’ll have to survive until next week.”

“What should I have for breakfast, I’ve been in a toast kick for a minute, but I don’t have much time, so I should have cereal or something quick.”

“I wonder how many Cheerios are in a box, has anyone ever counted them?”

“Shit, I’m late for work, I don’t have time to finish breakfast”

-5 minutes of picking the right album for the ride to work-

Time: 11:30am

“Why is there so much traffic, I didn’t know this many people lived in this town, what the hell?”

-Arrive to work 5 minutes late-

“Everything at work is broken, this day will probably suck. An Always Sunny and Workaholics crossover would be great, I wonder what that would be like”

-Write a spec script on the back of a receipt-

Time: 12:05pm

Only 9 hours before I get to go home…

Staring at the Abyss

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

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

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

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

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

Musical Motivation: A Story of Productivity

Today was a good day, I actually finished everything I wanted to get done. Usually, I only get to two or three things on my To-Do List, and get distracted and end up doing something completely different. What changed? That’s simple: music choice and medication.

I woke up at 7:30, which wasn’t planned, but super useful because I forgot to take the trash bins out, and I’m not too fond of letting this week’s trash become next week’s partially-decomposed sludge. After rushing outside in my sweatpants, I tried to go back to sleep, because why not, it’s my day off, I deserve to get some beauty rest. I was unsuccessful. 8:30 rolls around, and my Adderall is starting to kick in, so all hopes of sleep fly out the window.

I had no idea what I wanted to do today, so I do my usual job search, typing in “marketing internships” and “content writer” into Glassdoor, and applied to every job I think I could do. Now, usually, I get about 4 pages into the suggested jobs before getting distracted. Not today. I went into a groove, which was helped by the groovy tunes I had in the background (Mississippi Mud by Black Blood & the Chocolate Pickles), and next thing I knew, I was on page 36, and had applied to more than 20 jobs.

Now, I can tell the difference between “hyper-focus productive” and “Medicated productive”, and this wasn’t either, I think this might be the start of something new for me, I might not be a slacker anymore. I hope this continues, and I hope I continue to crush this job search, because if there’s anything that I’ve learned over these last 5 years, it’s that I never want to work fast-food again, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Now, this post is called “Musical Motivation” for a reason: I’ve been switching up my music choices, and I think it’s actually doing things other than broadening my sonic horizons, I think it’s actually improving my mood and how I think about things. Usually, I listen to super depressing music, which probably isn’t good for me, but it feels incredible to listen to someone who understands how you feel, and connects with that. My favorite time to listen to music is that time of night between 12am and 2am, I think there’s something about that time that brings out a different side of music, especially sad music. I think my late-night listening, mixed with sleep deprivation, has taken me off my A-game, but I think I’ve found a great replacement for it: morning music.

Now, I’m terrible at getting up in the morning, I usually sit in bed until I absolutely have to get up, or if I have to go to the bathroom, but today, I was wide awake, and had nothing better to do than get things done. I think that if I go to bed early, and wake up early, not only will I get better sleep, I’ll get better results from my job hunt, my gym time, and my relaxation time, because what could be better than completing all your To-Do’s for the day at noon?

Why Going to the Gym is Great

When you hear people say they want to get into shape, where do they always say they’ll go? The gym. Where do those people never end up going? The gym. They’re missing out.

I have a lot of pent-up energy thanks to my ADHD, so I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to manage that energy. The most efficient way I’ve found is hitting the gym. The gym is the best place for me to burn off that pent-up aggression and anger and turn it into something productive. My gym routine is simple: I start off with a nice stretch, just to knock the dust off and limber up a bit. This is to make sure that my body doesn’t break more than it’s supposed to. After I’m good to go, I get on the bike and do 20 minutes of rigorous cardio while making fun of my friends on Twitter and checking the news. After burning a couple hundred calories, and losing faith in humanity, I move to weights. My weights routine is pretty simple: the first day I start with the lowest weight that provided resistance, do a set of 25, take a 30 second rest, add 10 pounds, rinse and repeat until my body decides that I should stop. This probably isn’t the most efficient workout, but it works for me. By the second day, my body usually isn’t too pleased with me, so I go a different route, quantity over quality. I start with my usual stretches, but instead of punching my muscles in the face, I take it nice and slow. I start around 60-70lbs and do 5 or 6 sets of 30. After working on all the various muscle groups and jamming out to some angry music, I grab a protein shake and go home.

The gym is very important to me, it keeps me balanced, and I definitely need to be balanced. Whenever I miss a day, not only does my body feel like it’s missing something, my mind does too. Whenever I get irrationally angry and grumpy, I can tell that I either need to hit the gym or write to make all that bad voodoo go away. The most important part of my gym experience is the music I bring with me. Usually, I like to fill my playlist with music that motivates me to go a little further, or that pisses me off enough to push through the pain. Recently, I’ve been putting a lot of Bobby Shmurda, Denzel Curry, Vince Staples, and All That Remains on my gym playlist. These all help put me into the mindset that I can do anything, and that anything that gets in my way will be destroyed. It’s easy to run 5 miles when ScHoolboy Q is (allegedly) shooting up the block over a DJ Dahi beat that sounds like the soundtrack to a home invasion.

In summary, for those of you who like to skim through articles, GO TO THE GYM. You won’t regret it, and you’ll feel better about yourself, and your physical ability.

The Pharmaceutical Paradox

If you have ADHD, you may have had the same problem I had today: I’m out of Adderall, and need to get more. I need to call the doctor’s office, drive over there, wait for my prescription to be ready, drive back to a pharmacy, and wait until it’s filled. This is a lot of steps for someone who can’t really focus or do anything without their meds. There are so many steps that need to be done in order for me to get the thing that helps me focus. Instead, I got distracted and didn’t do any of them.

I knew I was in trouble when I had the random urge to play Civilization 5. If you’ve ever played before, you know that it’s a great way to accidentally spend 6 hours. Civilization, if you haven’t played it, is a turn-based strategy game where you build a civilization, grow it, and try to take over other civilizations. I at least tried to be responsible: I set an alarm for 45 minutes so I could go over and get my meds, but disaster struck with 15 minutes to go. In the game, you have opportunities to build famous landmarks, and I had almost completed the Sistine Chapel, only to have it snatched away from me by the Aztecs. All semblance of responsibility and time-management went out the window, and I devoted the next 4 hours to destroying their civilization and burning their cities to the ground. It was glorious, but it also ate up my chance to get my prescription filled.

There should be an auto-refill option for people with ADHD, so I can pillage Aztec cities with impunity, and not have worry that I might get distracted or forget to do something.

Why Failure is Important

Everybody has failed at something, if you haven’t, you’re probably not good at anything. Failure is incredibly important, but no one wants to fail because it makes them feel like failures themselves. This is why failure is so important: it fuels you to do better.

I fail all the time. Usually, I just pick myself up and move on, but sometimes that failure builds up, and becomes permanent. The more I fail, the angrier I get, and the angrier I get, the more I fail, so I’m trying to just roll with the punches and accept failure as a learning experience. I’ve been trying to get a new job for the last few months, sending out dozens of applications every week, usually to no response. This hurts more than I’d like to admit. It sucks that I’ve put so much work into trying to be better at what I do, only to have nothing to show for it. Maybe it’s for the best, I’ve worked so hard, given up things that I enjoy, prioritized my goals over everything else in my life, just to be kicked in the face. I’m not going to give up, rejection makes me want to work even harder to show that I’ve got what it takes to get where I want.

Failure isn’t fun, it’s not sexy, it doesn’t feel good, but it is one of the most important feelings that we have. If failure felt good, no-one would try to better themselves, no-one would try to change their mindsets, no-one would ever think that they could do better. Every time I write a blog post that no-one views, I get a little bit sad, but that feeling goes away quickly, and I learn from my mistakes and adapt. I see my friends fall down when they start to care too much that they refuse to act, and I get it, some people are so scared of the downsides of life, that they forget the upsides and hide from them. You can change. You can be better than you are right now, but it will cost you.

Failure is educational because it lets us see how our ideas work in real life. If you think that you have a good idea, and you decide to take out a business loan and run with it, you could end up bankrupt. You get to see what worked and what doesn’t work, and that is more valuable than people think. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to make the same mistake twice, so if I identify a problem, I do everything in my power to prevent making it again.

I hope this reaches someone who needs it, too many people let failure run their lives. Picture it this way: working out doesn’t feel good at first, but when you look at your six-pack abs in the mirror, you feel damn good. It’s usually worth it, so what are you waiting for, go out and fuck something up.