The Death of an Empire

What the fuck are we doing? Has everyone lost their goddamn mind? What in the hell is wrong with you people? We have people killing eachother over the right to protest, we have a president who should’ve been sent off to pasture years ago, and we have a percentage of the country that just wants to see the world burn.

I want to believe that we’re better than this, I want to believe that we’re still the greatest country on Earth. It’s kind of like being a Browns fan: you see their potential, but they keep fucking it up.

That picture of Minneapolis burning is iconic, it should be someone’s album cover, it speaks to everything that needs to be said right now. I’m not a good mouthpiece for change, I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, so don’t make me delve too deep into the stupid shit I say to give me that momentary serotonin hit that keeps me going.

The Birth of Inspiration

When I’m uninspired and feel the call of the words, I have a few ways I can shape the flow of thoughts. I figured I’d share a few ways, they might help you if you feel the same way.

  1. Try and change your surroundings. I’m usually most comfortable in my little yellow room with my books and my records, but every once in awhile it’s good to go outside and experience life. I like to go on walks outside late at night, around 1AM. I like it because it’s quiet and there isn’t anyone else around to bother me, so it helps me crystallize my thoughts and put them where they need to go in order for me to have a coherent message.
  2. Listen to music. I have entire playlists for when I’m feeling uninspired, they’re usually full of ambitious music that pushes boundaries, or music that reminds me of a certain moment. I don’t know what it is about music that moves me so much, but when I hear the right song at the right time, it’s like my mind kicks into high gear. If I’m angry writing, I’ll turn on some “fuck you” music, and channel that anger into words and make it actually useful, instead of just being a waste of energy that doesn’t do anybody any good.
  3. Drugs. (I’m kidding- don’t do drugs, just smoke weed.)
  4. Read. I have a small bookcase full of books, and whenever I get lost in the clouds, I pick one at random and read through it. Usually, I go all hyperfocus and end up reading the whole book in one sitting, but that’s because hyperfocus doesn’t care about the passage of time, or responsibilities, or hunger, it just wants to complete the task at hand. It’s fucking annoying if the task is something tedious, but it’s fun when it’s something you enjoy doing, like reading.
  5. Work out. Some of my best ideas come when I push my body to its limit. When it feels like my body is going to shut down, it clears up all of the bullshit on my mind, until there’s only clear thoughts and chest pain. There’s something special to me about running. I know people hate it with a passion, but it’s actually amazing. It’s one of the few things that can turn my brain off for a little bit, and I desperately need that sometimes because I’m inundated with half-baked ideas that I can’t execute. Running gets rid of all of the bad ones, until there are only thoughts I can work with. Try running, it’s good for you.

The Death of a Dream

I think it’s time to be honest with myself: I’m probably not going to be a copywriter any time soon, and that’s okay. I’ve had this goal for years, and I haven’t really made any tangible progress, so I’m starting to think I should shift my focus elsewhere.

It’s hard, accepting that you might never achieve something you’ve worked so hard for, but I think it’s a good lesson in life. You can’t always get what you want. Usually, I find a way to make things work out, but I’m getting older, so I’ve got to start thinking about things differently.

I’m never going to stop writing campaigns. They might not be the best, they might actually be awful, but as long as I enjoy writing them, I don’t see myself stopping completely. It’s turned into more of a hobby, albeit a weird one.

I think this is part of growing up: realizing that your dreams might not be attainable. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or you’ve wasted your time, it just means that you’ve put as much effort into your dream as you could, and realized when it was time to switch to something else. Hopefully I find something that I enjoy enough to invest a large chunk of my life in.

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.

The Ol’ College Try Pt.2

So I’m about 3 weeks into the semester, and I’m surprised at how well it’s going.

I had some concerns when I first started; the “easy” English class I thought I was taking turned out to be a graduate-level Philosophy class, so that was a bit of a transition. My professor is a grad student that’s younger than I am. I’m actually doing pretty well in that class, I just have to quietly Google things when I don’t know what they’re talking about. For our first paper, we had to determine which philosopher most influenced the 1992 comedy film My Cousin Vinny, which is probably the weirdest assignment I’ve ever done. I had no idea what type of philosophy Joe Pesci subscribed to, so I just said Socrates, and hoped for the best.

Accounting is a no-brainer for me, which is weird because usually I suck at math. I got a 94 on my first quiz, so I’m pretty much crushing it right now. I really like the professor too, he seems like one of those goofy math teachers that are really passionate about math, so they find a way to have fun with it. That’s this guy and cash flow statements.

I don’t know why I was so worried about transferring to an actual college, but that’s the thing about worrying: things are never as bad as you think they’ll be.

What The Fuck Am I Doing?

I’m not a functional person right now. I’m trying to fix that though. I just wish I could skip all the annoying middle parts and go straight to being awesome.

I always question the things I do, how do you ever know if you’re doing what’s best for you? I wish it was easier to figure out.

My ego loves the idea of muscling through adversity, but let’s be real here, there are millions of people who would kill for the life I’ve taken for granted. Life’s hard, but I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with it by myself.

My parents are getting older, and the idea that they won’t be there every step of the way is terrifying. They’re the best people I know, and they mean the world to me. I hope we make some improvements in medicine so that my dad can live long enough to go to space, and that my mom can meet my kids, if I ever have any. I want them to enjoy the rest of their lives, they’ve done enough to be allowed to relax a bit.

I think this website will be one of those things I look back on in 10 years and groan about, like the “newspaper” I made in middle school, or the Applebees campaign I came up with last week. It’s helpful for me to write all this shit down though, so I can see it and realize how dumb most of my random thoughts are. Maybe all that embarrassing crap is important to who I am as a person now. Or maybe it’s just bullshit I should drink away. I’ve also been having these weird dreams where I die in super mundane ways, like slipping on soap in the shower, or getting hit by an asteroid. I’ve always liked the idea of having a vault of unreleased material discovered after you die, so maybe that’s why I keep having gnarly dreams about dying.

Does anyone’s life plan actually work out the same way they thought it would? Does it even make sense to plan things out, given the unpredictable nature of life? Fuck, man, I wish Google answered questions like that, instead of pointing me towards the closest Starbucks.

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.

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 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.